A/N: References to the original manga meeting of Sesshomaru and Rin; also, set prior to the whole "Sessh-loses-Tokijin" arc.

Louder Than Words

Sesshomaru was covered in blood, but it wasn't his own so that was acceptable.

"Nothing but base fodder."

He stepped over the oni's corpse and turned to go. Suddenly, the earth beneath him trembled. The dog's claws were a steely embrace for the ground serpent.

Slithering back, the scaled demon's jaw unhinged and venomous fangs unsheathed. Its bloodcurdling hiss would have made lesser opponents turn tail. Sesshomaru drew his Tokijin.

The pressure technique from his blade should provide him with ample distance.

Ropes of saliva were flung from hooked fangs, landed on solid stone, and ate away through the granite.

Sesshomaru tightened his grip. Distance just became a priority.

--

Lord Sesshomaru where are you? With an ally like Jaken at your heels…

Rin suppressed a giggle at the last line of her memorized song. The Western Lord had departed some time ago – something about sensing danger – and left his "ally" behind.

When she tried had striking up a conversation or three, Jaken snapped, "Can't you entertain yourself for a while?" Then he marched off muttering about watering Ah-Un, twin-headed dragon in tow. Rin pointed out there was a stream just a ways off; she even shook her refilled bamboo canteen.

"Well, uh," Jaken stammered, "Ah-Un's a big dragon! Yes, and, um, so a little creek wouldn't suffice! Now let me go, pest! We'll be quick."

Now, Rin sighed at a passing cloud. Bored and alone did not make a pleasant combination for an active child. Instantly her eyes brightened at a familiar figure on the horizon.

"Lord Sesshomaru!" Rin called, dragging along the canteen. She didn't notice the awkwardness of the daiyokai's gait – how he staggered and swayed without true direction.

"Where were you? How was your – " She balked.

"Where?" Sesshomaru foamed at the mouth. "Where?"

He scrubbed a clawed-hand across clamped eyes, a futile attempt to clean the sludge that had dripped over and clogged his precious nose. His anger only flared at his own vulnerability.

Rin shrank back at the next feral bark. "Lord Sesshomaru?" she tried again.

Sesshomaru snapped his eyes open, but they were a sightless scarlet, tearing up at the corners. A reaction to venom. He struck the air.

"Where?!"

"Please, stop!" Rin had seen her guardian but once in such an uncontrolled state, back when he didn't know her and had been paralyzed from the neck down. She'd splashed water on him to show she'd only meant to help. The talons that swiped inches from her face didn't seem to be requesting any aid.

"Stop! There aren't any more enemies!"

Something clamped to his leg and Sesshomaru slashed out with claws. Fortunately for Rin, he'd aimed too high. Another snarl and the dog-demon lunged for his unseen foe. Rin ducked heartbeats before he crashed into the ground. Sesshomaru whirled at the rustle of grass, but remained crouched on all his limbs. Slowly he crept forward with – to Rin's rapt terror – muscles in places they shouldn't have been.

"Lord Sesshomaru! Lord Sesshomaru, can't you hear me? Rin?"

His steady advances didn't falter even his mouth became a muzzle.

Rin swallowed, she had to act immediately. Grabbing the solid closest to her, she flung its contents at the demon.

An explosion washed over his face. Startled, sputtering, and...drenched? Sesshomaru back-pedaled only to trip over his own feet.

What was that?

"There's a creek nearby if you wanna rinse your face, m'lord."

Sesshomaru sat thunderstruck for a full minute. He tried remembering the past moments' events, but that was like trying to clear his vision. Finally, he rasped, "Take me to that stream, Rin."

Closing the distance between them, Rin wrapped her tiny hand around two of his long talons. Somehow they shrank back into almost fingers. She led him off.

The vacant, crimson stare never did see the empty and dripping bamboo canister, but the little girl did wonder if he could see her smile that said it all.

I love you too, Lord Sesshomaru.

--

A/N: As always, reviews and critique are appreciated.