A/N: I just wanted to write something angsty, I suppose, and Lord Fluffermeister's SUCH an easy target. And for those of you that were wondering, love as in like a daughter, not a lover. Warning, may contain enough suckage to make your eyes bleed. You have been warned.

Sesshoumaru once asked his brother, 'Why love them? Why protect them? Why miss them?' The 'them' that he was speaking of refered to mortals- humans, weak bundles of bones and skin and muscles that did not even have the natural defenses of claws and fangs. He hadn't truly expected ever to receive an answer- he thought that it was insanity, a demon caring for something that would most likely die before even a quarter of said demon's life was through. Truly weak, mortals were.

Part of ths was his hidden anger speaking- anger at Inu no Taisho for leaving Sesshoumaru's mother to rot away in her room while he froliced and fell in love with a human woman. More so, it was logic- why integrate yourself into a society where everyone you know is going to die of old age while you keep the same features?

When Rin came into his life, he veiwed her as more of a nuisance than anything. He listened to her chatter, saved her from her own clumsiness time and again, and sat by her side when nightmares of death and destruction plagued her innocent dreams. In turn, she kept the days interesting, made Jakken 'pretty', and never questioned him. She retained her innocent smile and stopped every so often to pick flowers yet never nagged at him with stupid questions.

It was only when she was threatened by Naraku that he realized he had fallen for the trap every ningen laid out, knowing or not- he had come to care for her. Looking back, he wondered when he had started to allow her to play with his hair before bed each night, twisting it into innumerable knots and frustratedly declaring that 'Sesshoumaru-sama is already pretty!'. When he had started greeting her with the tiniest twitch of his lips, the same smile that had once made the strongest of demons flee in fear.

When he had started to send Jakken out for food because he disliked when Rin was out of his sight. When he had started to pick Rin up in his one arm and rock her gently back to sleep after she spilled out the contents of her dreams to him. When it had become so that he had to keep his beast on a short leash every time anyone other than him approached the girl.

Time passed; Rin grew. The Shikon no Tama was fixed, the lecherous monk and the Taijiya married and had lots of non-wind-tunnel'd babies. Inuyasha seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth, along with his Miko, and Kohaku, alive once more, had no trouble finding a nice village girl to settle down with. The Kitsune hit a sudden growth spurt and had no trouble finding a nice kitsune girl to settle down with. More time passed, and Rin became a lovely young woman.

Her body developed curves- he could smell her bleeding for five days out of every month and had Jakken go through the embarrasment of explaining it to the confused young girl. He went more and more often through towns and villages, allowing the outgoing adolescent to socialize with humans, though it took restraint not to rip off the heads of every young man found to be staring at her. The messy pony-tail on the side of her head disappeared, replaced by a more sensible pony-tail in the back, like that of a miko, almost.

It seemed that Rin knew what he was doing. Her joyous laughter came stiff with effort, sad eyes watching him when he wasn't paying attention (or so she assumed- he always knew when her eyes were on him). And when the day finally came that he found a suitable family to leave her with, a family that would take care fo her and find her a decent man to marry, she stepped up to him without the slightest hint of fear, despite the wide eyes and warnings of the villagers, and slipped onto his head a wreath of white flowers.

For two months he patrolled his lands, and he found that he missed the patter of bare feet behind him, the constant bickering of his retainer and his ward. Jakken, though he was not brave enough to say it outright, clearly indicated he was unhappy about the change, shuffling his feet to kick up the dirt and eating only what he needed to keep himself alive, feeding the rest sulkily to Ah-Un. On their part, the dragon glared at Sesshoumaru every chance they got. Finally he reached a decision.

When he arrived on their doorstep, the human couple cried in fright, but rushed inside to get Rin none-the-less. They ushered her out, and the sight of her wrapped in such a dull brown cloth, hair pulled back tight from her face, made him angry. They had tried to tame her! And worse, he had given her to them. He stared at her for a long moment and then tilted his head ever-so-slightly, stating that 'Jakken and Ah-Un are sulking. It is not healthy.' Rin's face brightened instantly.

When they arrived back at camp, Ah-Un opened one eye, licked the girl's cheek to make sure she was real, and went back to sleep. Jakken whacked the back of her head with his staff, claiming that if she ever left again, he'd 'broil her to a crisp'. Their lives resumed, with Jakken training Rin (after she almost got herself killed defending him from a boar), until he could no longer compete with her. Then, she moved on to Sesshoumaru, and immediately lost every mock battle they had. but there was the added bonus of her being able to protect herself.

A day came when the girl, nay, woman of maybe twenty-two years old fell seriously ill, and the entire group knew she would not recover. They sat by her side, her head in Sesshoumaru's lap, fingers idly toying with his hair as her breath came in shuddering gasps. Finally Jakken and Ah-Un left to gather food and firewood, no longer able to watch her suffer. Finally, she whispered something, flecks of blood bright on her pale lips, and he bent down to hear her, an indignity that, years before, he would never even have considered.

'Why, Sesshoumaru-sama?' She asked, voice raspy as she coughed, the rattling in her chest getting worse by the second. 'Why...?'

He stroked her hair, gently combing claws through it as she had once done for him, and tonelessly replied, 'Because you are human.'

She smiled sadly, whispering, 'I'm sorry...'

They just sat silently for a while, then, as her breaths quickened and her back bowed with the pain that she would not let scream past her teeth, he leaned down, lips pressing against her forhead softly. 'Aishiteru, Rin,' he whispered, and a smile curved her lips as her eyes went blank, body limp. He watched as the imps came and fought the urge to use Tensaiga- what had worked once would work no longer, and she was dead, dead and gone, he had lost her forever.

Sesshoumaru once asked his brother, 'Why love them? Why protect them? Why miss them?' The 'them' that he was speaking of refered to mortals- humans, creatures with hearts of steel and a veiw on life that an immortal could never have. He hadn't truly expected ever to receive an answer, but he got it, years and years later. Love them because you have to, because there's no way not to. Protect them because if they're gone, you'll miss them, every second of every day as your heart aches like it's about to burst. Miss them because you loved them, and you were not wise enough to see it until the very end. Love them... because they are human.