A/N: Yeah, I know. Sesshomaru/Rin isn't my favorite pairing, but this a gift for a friend. And I wanted to prove I could write the pairing seriously without sporking it. Hope you like it!

She was just an ordinary child, dirty and unkempt, far beneath his notice. He only wanted her to go away, leave him be, but she still returned each day. He despised humans for too many reasons to count, not the least of which was that they were ordinary where he was so much more.

Too small to notice, too easily broken, they were merely mortal. With no more lifespan than a firefly, but without the glowing beauty that made a brief existence seem worthwhile.

It wasn't out of kindness…he didn't have emotions like that. But something in his heart stirred close to pity when he saw her broken body, so small and torn. And Tenseiga had responded to that tiny glimmer of pity, drawing its power from his heart without his consent, until he had no other choice but to use the sword and seal their fates.

He should have abandoned her then, having repaid her kindness with her life, but his mother had raised him to be an honorable creature. He would no more abandon this helpless child than he would have cut off his other arm. Instead, he knelt, cradled her and his face relaxed into a gentle expression few had ever seen.

It was the beginning of the end for him, the long, dry days of isolation and introspection. For the first time in years, he felt something more than desire for conquest or power. It was an unnatural feeling, this compassion. At first he despised the touch of her small hands, the bright sound of her laughter. He never would understand her, he surmised as much from the beginning.

She didn't grow into a beauty, at least not by youkai standards. But her smile could stop a man in his tracks, if he had been a man. And she loved him, unconditionally, although she knew what he was. He didn't know what to do with that love. It was like the moon's reflection upon the moving ocean, impossible to grasp and beyond his touch.

The child he had saved grew into a woman in the blink of his eye and when Sesshomaru found that his gaze lingered on her too often for his comfort, he knew he had a problem. At night, he watched her sleep, her slim body sprawled unconscious and he found himself…wanting to touch her. To stroke that dark hair back from her cheek, to see those luminous eyes shine for him.

And he knew, better than most, that in the end he'd only bring her pain. For he wouldn't give her children, she'd be forever behind his heels, following him while that soft glow faded into darkness. She would live her brief time in his shadow while her light flickered, one sunrise to his many sunsets.

She cried when he left her, in the care of kindly people, but abandoned all the same. He didn't look back, perhaps fearful of temptation, but all the more likely fearful that she'd see his face and know the truth.

That this was the only gift he had to give her…a home, a life that would be hers to shape, not one defined by following after.

He visited her many times after that, but only from the shadows. As the years passed, Rin married and had children of her own, a family at last to replace what had been taken from her. There was nothing special about her, nothing that should have drawn him back. He stood still and silent as she filled her days with laughter, warming his chill demon soul from a distance.

Then…in a blink of an eye, she was gone from him forever. He didn't count the years as a mortal would, but he noticed silver in her hair. As she laid there, cold and quiet, his palm itched towards Tenseiga. He could make her live again, laugh again, follow him like the child he still dreamed of…the woman he'd wanted and never had.

A soft step, a softer gasp…and he knew that he was not alone. A fool to be discovered at the bedside of a human. The young girl might have been her daughter, or her granddaughter, he could not know. He only looked at the child for a moment, and then brushed his fingertips across the dead woman's cheek.

"You…you're Sesshomaru," the girl said as he turned to go, her voice filled with wonder and awe.

He stopped. "She spoke of me?"

"Y…yes, she did. Every day of her life."

It made him smile that she had not forgotten. Of course she hadn't, not his Rin. And in that moment, he was content to know that while he'd watched and ached for her, she'd still kept him close within her heart.

They might not shine like the stars, nor glow like the moon. They would never know the beauty of eternity or watch time itself stretch between their fingers like a single golden thread. Nor hear music in the silence, or feel the movement of the earth slow beneath their feet. But for those brief, bright years she'd lived, she'd filled his world with her ordinary beauty.

And left him touched, a faint shimmer to light his lonely way.