Disclaimer: I still don't own Inuyasha. But one of these days, I tell ya...
Author's Note: Isn't reverse-storytelling fun? Enjoy!
I've been waiting, Sesshomaru-sama.
In the end, he'd been waiting, too.
Sesshomaru knew he was dead the moment he opened his eyes.
Death wasn't as bad as he'd expected it to be. In fact, the feeling of growing lighter as his body and soul severed connections was pleasant. Like weights being dropped, one at a time.
He turned his gaze (his head didn't move with him, but he hadn't expected it to) and saw Jaken kneeled beside him, sobbing into the cloth of his hakama. The bodies of the bat demons lay nearby; the staff of two heads was smoking. Massacred by their enemy's servant.
How strange, thought the fading Lord, how ironic that Jaken had survived them all.
He felt himself begin to sink, leaving his body to cool on the Earth's surface, and Jaken slipped from sight. An awareness that going down was bad swept over him, but didn't stick. He felt no alarm, and though the 'air' surrounding him was warm, he could smell no fire.
The darkness squeezed and tugged him ever lower into the depths. Images flickered before him; the little death demons whom he'd once slaughtered at the hands of Tensiega; his body, laying mangled in a pool of blood; the face of a girl with black dog ears he'd never seen before; and his father, asking if he had something to protect.
But where was...?
He was jerked to a halt, and the blackness faded into a world he mistook at first for home.
An endless field, yellow flowers swaying in some non-existent breeze. There were no trees to speak of, and no sun either, though it was bathed in warm light. In quiet amazement, he lifted his left arm and examined it; it was whole again. But hadn't it fallen into Hell...?
His senses twitched. A scent...familiar, but almost forgotten.
Less then ten feet away stood Rin, no longer the white creature who'd withered away but young again, the way he remembered her.
She was smiling. "Hello, Sesshomaru-sama."
"...Rin?" He glanced around; the field was empty save for the two of them.
She seemed to know what he was thinking, "No one is here but you and me. I brought you here. They tried to take you down there, but I stopped them." He stared at her, and she added with a shrug. "S'bout time I saved you for once, anyway."
She kneeled to pick a flower, as if she was speaking of trifle matters instead of salvation. She hummed a tune to herself, and Sesshomaru was reminded of the many fields she'd picked flowers for him, so many fields resembling this one.
He moved towards her. "Why is no one else here?" More then anything else, this is what alarmed him. For Rin's sake more then his.
"Everyone else has gone on."
"They had no reason to stay," she looked up at him. "I did."
He gazed at her, allowing no expression on his features.
"I've been waiting, Sesshomaru-sama." she said. "I didn't want you to have to find the way alone."
She got up, dusted off her kimono with her new bouquet, and took his hand.
"I've missed you."
How long ago since She'd passed? He didn't know. He'd sworn not to keep track, which he regretted. He didn't like the feeling time had stopped.
He stood at a grave marker, but not Her's. The stone slab was in honor of Izayoi, his step-mother of sorts. Her resting place was private; the base of a tree on the shores of a blue lake. No graveyard with the stench of human fear and grief. He wished She were so lucky.
He recognized his little brother's scent when it came, though they hadn't been face to face in years. He even heard a startled growl, and smirked.
He turned. Inuyasha was staring with fishlike surprise, arms limp, a handful of lilies clutched in his right hand. The hanyou looked as if he'd been slapped across the face. In a way, he had.
"W-what the hell you doing here?" he choked out, groping for tetsusaiga with the flowered hand. "You have no right to-"
"I wont bother you long," said Sesshomaru, cutting him short. The fish look had a brief return. Then, with a 'Feh', the hanyou folded his hands into his sleeves and waited for an explanation.
Truth be told, he didn't have one. An explanation, that is. All he had was a hunch, really. His hunch said he wasn't long for this world. The interest had gone out of it, the urge he'd been born with to explore and observe. He'd not been intentionally homeless without a reason. But...
The reason was gone. It died a long time ago. If only he could remember how long.
"You have a daughter," he said. It was not a question.
Inuyasha's upper-lip twitched, suppressing a snarl. After a long moment he nodded, "Yeah. I do. Sorta old news by now."
But, he had a niece. His father had a grand-daughter. He'd never even met the child, who was almost certainly grown by now...
"And the mother?" For civility's sake he bothered to remember her name. "Kagome?"
This time Inuyasha did bare his fangs; more out of hurt then a sense of threat, it seemed. "Look, I'm not exactly in the mood for Twenty Questions, Bastard, now get the hell away from my mom's-"
Inuyasha paused in mid-growl, blinking. The hostile look melted away, replaced by incredulity. "Rin? The...little chatty thing? She's...damn."
Looking back on it, Sesshomaru thought the following silence was the closest thing the brothers ever had to a conversation. He watched his half-sibling, noticed how his face was longer, thinner, eyes sharper. His hair was no longer an unholy mess. For the first time, he could look at his brother and see something not unlike himself.
He recognized something else, too. The way he'd looked when Kagome was mentioned, the dear deceased Kagome. He'd looked like that thing inside him now, that thing he'd ignored and allowed to consume him all at once.
He suddenly knew why he came. All he'd wanted was confirmation of this feeling; some sort of justification. And now he had it.
He turned away.
"Hey, where the hell you going?" Inuyasha called after him. He didn't look back. "You can't just...what the hell..."
He never saw his brother again.
The room was cold.
Of all the things he could have thought at that moment. But it was cold, metaphorically as well as physically. Her husband and sons stood guard, eyeing him with unmistakable distaste. They would have already made their (futile) attack, if not for her.
She'd insisted he be here. He'd no idea why; to be witness to her death was no pleasure. To even see her in such a form; crumpled, white, curled beneath what couldn't even pass for rags...
And yet, she'd been smiling.
He did not understand death. He could inflict it, and had with relish, but did not comprehend it. To an immortal, death was a foreign thing. Presumed to be unpleasant, given the fuss his prey tended to make.
So why should Rin have smiled, so calm, just before her breath stopped?
Inuyasha always put gross sentimentality on parenthood.
He'd always been jealous of him, the older son, the one raised and maybe even loved by his fabled father.
The majority of demons didn't think like that. To a demon, your parents were nothing more then your standard of power. You were raised to hunt like them, to fight like them, and perhaps surpass them.
He'd waited his whole life to defeat his father.
But, The Dog Lord died for love, for his second child...Inuyasha.
"Do you have something to protect?"
He hadn't thought so, at the time. Even now, standing in the shade of the trees on the outskirts of her village, he wasn't sure.
Rin was there, outside her small home, watching her two sons play with the village children.
She was older, now; he'd last checked up on her only a few months ago, but it seemed her hair had doubled in grayness since. Her first son, whom she'd once said had a resemblance to his father, was nearing manhood. She'd been correct; there didn't seem to be any of her in the boy at all.
She didn't know he was there yet. He wasn't even in her thought's, he would imagine. She'd never asked for his protection.
He never expected Rin to surpass him. To grow out of him.
But she had.
"Isn't he beautiful?"
Sesshomaru looked at the infant nestled in Rin's arms, and decided that while he would not call it beautiful, the fact that it was her's placed it in higher regard then most humans. He inclined his head toward her and she smiled.
"I knew you would think so." she said. "He looks just like Juro...Oh, I've never seen him more excited, fatherhood has changed him for the better. In fact, sometimes-"
"I would rather speak of the child."
She laughed, "I suppose you would."
She fell silent then, smiling at her thoughts. The forest around them was calm, birds flitting between columns of sunlight in the trees, not daring to approach them -him. Nothing does. Even Jaken had gone, for the moment. He'd learned that his master preferred his few visits with Rin to be uninterrupted.
He watched her trace her son's features with delicate fingers. He tried to find some hint of the young girl he'd once known in this woman before him, and found none.
Was that a pang of remorse? Surely not.
"Does your mate know you're here?" he asked. The real question was, did he know his son was within snatching distance of a demon?
Rin's lips tightened, but she said nothing.
The demon lord took a step closer, and the infant stirred in it's blankets, it's most basic instincts informing it of a nearby threat.
And yet, it's mother was here, so all must be well, and it slipped back into dreamless slumber.
Golden eyes narrowed.
"Do not bring him into my presence again." he said. There was no threat in the words. "It is dangerous for a child to be accustomed to demons."
"...I know." she said. "I knew that from the start, but...but you had to see him once. Only once is enough." Her eyes met his, and for the last time he saw the lurking remnants of a child offering a bouquet, asking without words if he understood.
"I'm getting married, Sesshomaru-sama."
He knew it was coming. She'd lived in this village for a few months now, and even his frequent checkups could not prevent the inevitable. She watched him with sad brown eyes.
"I can't...travel with you anymore." He wondered if the words sounded as foreign to her as they did to him. His pride hoped they did. "Juro won't allow it...but he knows of you, somewhat. He knows you're h..."
He could tell she'd wanted to say 'harmless', but she was not the type to lie. He would not be welcome in her new life.
"-And he picked me flowers and told me I was pretty...Am I pretty? I mean, it's not like I care or anything, I was just surprised to hear it. He's so nice. The way he eats is pretty funny too, he sort of-"
He did not like Juro. Rin felt otherwise, if her tireless ravings were any indication. Odd how oblivious she seemed to be of her own obsession.
Odder still that it irritated him to this extent. Was this what he was reduced to? Sesshomaru-sama, The Great Demon Lord of The West -teenage boys beware.
"...Master Jaken, do you suppose we could go back to Ayame Village someday? It's very nice there, and you know, it'd be great to see Juro again..."
He really did not like Juro.
Kaede's village was alive with activity. The scent of feverish excitement hit him even in the overlooking cliffs, where the wind and trees should have sheltered him.
'The miracle of life.' How utterly human.
Rin, being human, would never understand such a sentiment. "But Sesshomaru-sama, surely you want to see the baby? Just once?"
"But it's your niece!"
"If you want to call it that."
The thirteen-year-old huffed. "So now she's an 'it.'"
Shock -an emotion he did not enjoy- imposed itself in his system, as it always did when Rin spoke back to him. It was not that he discouraged such rebellion as much as it was uncharacteristic. At least, it used to be. Maybe he was rubbing off on her.
Was that a good thing?
He turned his gaze to the village below, trying not to wrinkle his nose in distaste. "You speak as if my 'beloved' little brother would welcome me. You are mistaken."
There was a silence, and then, "Kagome is my friend. I wanna find out what she named the baby." Another silence. "May I go, M'lord?"
And for all world, he could not find a logical reason why not, "You may. I've never stopped you from roaming as you wish."
She blinked; then flashed her grateful smile, bowing low. "Thank you. I'll be back before nightfall. Expect to hear all the details."
Long after she'd stumbled down the hills, when he could catch wisps of her scent mingled with those of her kind below, a thought occurred to him. It wobbled into his brain, not sure to make of itself or what significance it had, but refused to leave.
True that he'd never stopped her from leaving. She'd never wanted to.
"Rin, why aren't you asleep?"
The little girl was watching him from the beginning of the cliff; he stood at the edge, in full view of the small lake sleeping beneath. Her eyes were puffy from tiredness, one small fist clenching and unclenching the cloth of her yukata. In the moonlight, she seemed smaller then ever.
He glanced at said moon; only a few hours till dawn, from it's position. Surely she hadn't lain awake all this time? For what purpose?
"Rin," he repeated.
"Jaken snores," she informed him.
"...Ah." And what about it? He was aware of the toad's sleeping habits. Did she believe this to be new information?
She pressed on as if what she'd said made perfect sense, "It's not just that...it was that and..."
She trailed off, then eyed him in a frankly speculative way. It was one of those peculiar human habits he really should learn how to read. He'd observed his brother's companion do the same thing to the mutt, and he had no idea what it meant in that circumstance either. If anything.
"Why do demons live forever?"
Random interrogation. Another human trait he could do without.
"We don't. Nothing does."
"But you live a long, looong time," she countered. "Almost forever."
Well, he couldn't argue with that. So he didn't. Assuming the conversation was over, he turned his attention back to the lake. But Rin wasn't done just yet.
"I'm gonna live forever, too."
He did not respond, at first. Then he turned to face her, his single arm folded across his chest. Indication that she had his full attention.
But she opted not to expand on her improbable statement, instead only shrugging and adding, "Well, almost forever." Then, sitting down at his feet, "Can I sleep here? Jaken snore's really loud."
After a long moment, he sat down with her. She sighed and leaned into his shoulder, like he knew she would. They sat together in one of those odd (happy?) silences he'd discovered since he'd found her, something best described as "familiar" or perhaps "warm." He'd never admit out loud that he enjoyed the girl's presence, but she didn't need to hear it. She knew, somehow.
Yet, long after she'd pretended to fall asleep, she opened her eyes and asked, "You wouldn't mind if I stayed with you forever, would you?"
"No." he said, no longer surprised by the truth in this. He felt her relax, and snuggle closer to him.
"Then I will," she said.
Was that hope he felt? Surely not.
Author's Note: I'M SO GLAD I FINALLY FINISHED IT. It's been stewing in my folder for months now. Like most of my projects, but that's not the point.
Once again I have no idea if I like the finished product. I'm not even sure if it's coherent. But it's about love, romantic or paternal you can decide. In this one I've left it up to you :) And also growing apart...hey, Rin ain't gonna be six forever.
Note on characterizations; Sesshomaru strikes me as fundamentally inquisitive, hence all the rhetorical questions and ponderings of human nature. And Rin...well, based on how Rin behaves around Jaken, and the group she was raised around, I figured she'd have some bite in her later years. Yet, she remains kind-hearted.
Reviews would be nice, I appreciate constructive criticism. :)