The Principle of Existence

Summary: Due to a declining birth rate, the government of Japan imposes a drastic new law that forces healthy males and females to get together to make children. For Inuyasha, a hanyou, this may be a chance he thought he never had to have a family. But will he ever find love too?

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha and Co. They belong to the wonderfully talented Takahashi Rumiko.

Warning: Adults doing adult things.

Chapter 12

It was a beautiful spring day. Blue skies, the sun was up early and already warm. Birds flew around singing songs. Everything was green. Kagome woke up feeling refreshed which was surprising for her. She was not a morning person. She had been taken aback by the amount of energy she was feeling these last few weeks. Maybe staying home more often was paying off. It certainly was helping her wallet out having her mother cook.

Rolling out of bed, Kagome made her way downstairs. Souta and jii-chan were already seated, shoveling piles of scrambled eggs into their mouths. Mama Higurashi was busying herself with finishing up with breakfast and getting bento boxes prepped for lunch later on. There were about a dozen volunteers showing up and Mama Higurashi wouldn't let anyone of them get hungry, not on her watch.

"Whoa," Souta exclaimed upon seeing his sister up with the rest of them. She still looked like Kagome when she woke up. Tangled hair, loose pajamas, and socks that didn't match were her usual looks in the morning. But what was missing was the scowl.

"What?" She replied back with a glare.

Souta shook his head. "Nothing." He took a bite of his eggs. "Just...well...you are up and you don't look like an old witch."

Kagome tossed a piece of toast at her brother, which he caught and then took a bite out of it. "Gee, thanks little brother."

"So I get to meet this Inuyasha fellow today?"

Kagome stuffed some bacon in her mouth and just nodded. Yep. Today was the day that he and Kikyo were going to come here, meet up and hopefully, something magical would happen. Today was the day that Kagome was dreading. She did not want to be witness to them flirting with each other, between awkward silences, giggles, blushing and romantic gestures.

"You will really like him Souta," Mama Higurashi gushed as she finished up her bento boxes.

"Cool."

Kagome just shook her head. No. Not cool. She didn't need her family taking him in too. Souta wasn't supposed to want to meet him and like him and be friends with him. Kagome couldn't see Inuyasha sticking around anyway. Once the contract was up, he was as good as gone. Why even bother?

"Was that Rin who was here last night?" Mama Higurashi asked as she joined her family at the breakfast table for food and some tea.

"Yeah. She needed to borrow some things for today."

"That's right. She had other plans. What did she need?"

Kagome tossed her half eaten piece of toast down on the plate. "She wanted to borrow the pink yukata with the red and green goldfish. And then we made some flowers for her obi belt and hair. She is going to look so cute. Well, as long as she can keep her sandals on."

"Ah yes. Shoes. She's Rin, she can get away with it."

"I'm surprised she let Kohaku off that research work," Souta stated as she shoveled in the last of his eggs. "They have been working non-stop. I've barely seen the guy."

"That's because they are dedicated to their school work, unlike you," Kagome teased.

"Whatever," Souta countered back. He took his empty plate to the sink and set it down. "I will be outside setting up. See you in a bit jii-chan."

"Kagome, when you are finished, I have your robes ready for you."

"Okay, mama."

Rin stood at the large gate. People rushed passed her to be accepted inside. For as long as she could remember, she dreamed of seeing what lay on the other side on the tall wooden walls. Tours of the Imperial Palace were available, but there was one spot that was always and completely off limits. Yet today she had an invitation to that secret garden, the heart of the imperial palace.

As in a trance, she slowly made her way up the gate where an armed guard stood, dressed in his military blues. The other guests moved around her, bumping into her arm as she made her way to the entrance. This was it. She was finally here. Rin tapped her purse, reassuring herself that her camera and notebook were still inside.

Fukiage gardens were hers to explore.

The guard glanced at her with a suspicious look. She was not someone he recognized. Everyone else was a member of the government, famous for their talent or just had a lot of money and socialized in certain circles. Cotton yukata, fake flowers in her hair, this girl was none of those things.

"Do you happen to actually have an invitation?" the guard snapped at her.

Rin handed him the envelope, trying to get a peek around him. Now that she was right here, a few steps away, she couldn't wait. Excitement bubbled just below the surface. She didn't know if she should take her time or just run free and explore. It was best to probably take it slow. As the guest of someone fairly important, she needed to behave.

The guy looked at the envelope and turned it over. He noticed the seal and gasped. He glanced down at Rin, narrowing his eyes at her. Carefully, he slipped out the invitation and immediately recognized the writing inside. Quickly, but gently, placing the invitation back inside the envelope, he gave it back to the girl and waved her through.

Rin gave him a big smile and skipped inside to the gardens. She stopped a few paces in and gasped at the sight. It was truly unreal. She felt transported to a time so long ago. It almost felt untouched by the outside world. That wasn't the case, with the second world war having a detrimental effect on the country and its nature. But Japan rebuilt and became better from it.

The sakura trees had passed their full bloom about a month ago, but the plum blossoms were opening now, a mixture of snow white and delicate pinks mixed in with the green of the sakura and maple trees. The grounds were a mix of soft green grass and the tiniest pebbles she'd ever seen. Ponds with artistic statues were the color of the blossoms that had drifted in. Rin reached into her small bag and took out her camera and a small notepad.

Glancing around, she found the grounds filled with people. Too many. Standing on her tiptoes she searched for the tall silver-haired daiyoukai. He should be easy to spot in this crowd as he tended to tower over everyone. She had sent a text message stating that she had arrived. But he had not responded back once. Was he playing hard to get?

Frowning, she felt a bit hurt. Not that she was expecting him to greet her at the gate and have her hang off his arm during this whole gathering. That would be too entirely boring for her. And she wasn't ready for that kind of commitment. She wasn't arm-candy. Still...a little acknowledgment would be nice.

Not allowing that to get the best of her, she straightened her shoulders and quickly flipped her attention back to the gardens. This was her one and only opportunity. This was one of her dreams. No way was she going to waste it worried about someone who may or may not be interested in her. She wasn't that girl.

Rin had learned to live for Rin. The Higurashi family had taken her in and she was more than grateful to them for allowing her to be a part of their family. It had given her a sense of belonging that she hadn't had before. And yet, it failed to give her more. But she didn't know what that more was. Was it Sesshoumaru? Probably not. She just met the guy. Would it be someone else? Or in the end, would she be as she had always felt? Disconnected from others because she felt different.

The hydrangeas were gorgeous. Speckles of blue, red, and purple dotted the hillside, spilling down into the nearby lake. She walked over and knelt down to get a closer look. Huge clusters of colors burst around her. It had filled her heart with joy. Lifting up the hem of her yukata, she kicked off her sandals and plopped down onto the soft grass. She opened her notepad to the next blank page. After snapping a few photos, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Her mind was cleared of distracting thoughts.

Kagome was finishing up the blessing of the small pots of seedlings that they were giving away. Patrons would visit the shrine, thank the kamis for providing flowers and other greenery and take home something to grow. Each pot was blessed to grow well and bring joy and health to its caretaker. Jii-chan had blessed a few of them before needing to take an early morning nap.

She looked up and smiled. It was beautiful out. She had opted to bless the seeds underneath the goshinboku tree. It stood tall and unwavering in the yard. The leafy branches offered shade and peace of mind. She was going to need as much peace of mind as she could get. Today was the day that she would have Kikyo and Inuyasha on the grounds.

Strange thoughts had run through her head. Performing the blessings and sitting under the tree had helped. She had to be careful. What she needed to do was stay away. Stay far away and only go near them if they needed her help. The focus would be on the patrons and offering them the blessings of the kami and the Sunset Shrine.

Getting up from her spot, she glanced around the grounds one more time. They were clean and ready for visitors. She had to be ready. Kagome quickly raced into the house, kicking off her shoes. Mismatched socks padded up the stairs into her room. Her mother had laid out the miko robes for her to wear. She missed wearing the pretty yukatas, but it was important to her family that they help to carry on traditions.

Stripping out of her modern wear, Kagome reached for the hakui and slipped her arms into the large sleeves. She crossed the seams of the blouse over her chest and secured it closed with a simple tie. She examined the sleeves and noticed that her mother used a string of the sode-kukuri to be more of a dark green color instead of black. Despite her jii-chan wearing forest green, Kagome stuck with the traditional red hakamas.

After tying the band around her waist, she made the best bow she could. Matching white socks and sandals completed the outfit. She pulled her hair back and did the best she could to secure it. The additional white tie kept it back, but the end kind of poofed out like a fox tail. She frowned at it in the mirror. It never seemed to do what she wanted it to do.

Grabbing her cell phone, she slipped it inside her blouse and tucked it into her bra. Kagome was careful going down the stairs. It wasn't every day that she wore the sandals. But she had to look the part. True she could fill in the as the role of the shrine miko officially if she wanted to. She did fill in occasionally but it was never meant to be a career. It was more of an obligation. At one time she was being groomed to possibly take over the Shrine, but it was preferred that Souta take on that honor. Questions remained if Souta still had plans to do just that. He still had school to finish and then to find a wife…

Kagome hoped that Souta was able to meet a girl on his own terms and fall in love. As romantic as it could be to be matched with someone that you could fall in love with, finding that one person on your own held more meaning to her. That chance meeting. She liked the idea of how random love could be. She did still think of Inuyasha and Kikyo as a type of fairy tale.

She sighed and shook her head. Fairytales didn't happen. Life happened. Sometimes it was magical and most times it was mundane and ordinary.

Her chest vibrated. Kagome giggled at it before reaching to grab her cell phone.

"Kagome," she responded.

"It's Kikyo," the voice on the other end replied.

"Hey. How are you this morning?"

Kagome listened as Kikyo explained why she was calling.

"Okay, I will let him know. Thanks."

As soon as she flipped her phone closed an "Oi" snapped her attention up to the entrance of the Shrine. At the top of the stairs was Inuyasha. Kagome slipped her phone back into her bra and adjusted her blouse. When Kagome reached Inuyasha she stopped and bowed deeply.

"Welcome to the Sunset Shrine," she said.

"Why are you doing that?"

"It's how we greet our guests," Kagome replied. "I'm just practicing. It's been quite some time since I've donned the miko clothing. I wasn't able to be here last year."

Kagome, as usual, noticed how he was dressed. Jeans and a t-shirt. Casual, but cool. And hot. She shook her head. Not today Kagome. Definitely not today. Quickly, she turned around as to not look at him. Maybe that would help. Probably not. Her silly imagination would just kick into overdrive and she'd be done for.

Inuyasha stared at her. Something was different about her. Probably the clothes. Dressed traditionally, she looked more put together than she normally did.

"You've always done this miko-thing?"

Kagome nodded. "Most of the time. The time I spent in the States, I did perform miko duties at the shrines there."

"They do that stuff in the States?"

"Sometimes," Kagome replied. Wait, what was going on? Were they having a normal conversation? "They do celebrate some of the holidays. Sakura watching, New Year's, the big ones are still honored. Also, anime conventions are big for them. This outfit is a big hit at those."

Inuyasha rolled his eyes. Conventions had too many people. But he did watch some of the anime shows. Who didn't watch Sailor Moon or Dragonball? Classics.

"So, what's the plan for today?"

Kagome showed him all of the seedlings that they had laid out around the shrine grounds. Hundreds of tiny little plants covered the stone patio. Kagome and her friends had collected newspaper, cut out strips and folded them into small cups. A nursery that they had partnered with years ago donated dirt and seeds. They carefully poured some dirt into the origami cups, planted the seeds and cared for them. Now, tiny seedlings had sprouted. Kagome and her jii-chan had blessed each one.

"People come, we give them a seedling, offer them thanks and snacks and...yeah...that's about it. Some will ask questions about the shrine, its history. But don't worry about that. Jii-chan is quite the skilled storyteller. I usually just direct everyone over to him. Sometimes I get stuck telling some of the stories."

Inuyasha nodded. Easy enough. And karma points as well. He couldn't complain about that.

He grabbed her arm to stop her from walking. Without realizing it, they had conversed and wandered far from the entrance.

"When is Kikyou coming?"

Kagome froze. "Didn't she call you?" Don't look him in the eye, she chanted to herself.

He shook his head. "No. Should she have?"

Kagome glanced away and chewed on her lip. "She's...she got a call...emergency. So, she's not coming."

Inuyasha gave her a quick nod. "Later," he quickly told her. Turning around, he marched his way back to the entrance so he could leave.

Kagome raced after him. "Wait. Aren't you going to stay and help?"

"Nope."

"But…" Kagome's voice trailed off as she realized that he really was leaving. Her shoulders slumped. She was now short two volunteers. Maybe she should have taken Sango and Miroku up on their offer. They weren't actually doing much other than getting the dojos ready for kid day.

"Kagome, was that Inuyasha?"

Kagome saw her mother exiting the house with more items for the day. Some extra water bottles and snacks were placed on one of the tables scattered about the grounds.

"Yeah. Kikyou couldn't make it. There was some kind of emergency at the hospital. Inuyasha decided not to stay since she's not here."

"He's going to have to get used to it. Marrying a doctor or anyone in those types professions means a life some of disarray," Mama Higurashi stated as she remembered the times when her husband had to work extra shifts due to an absence.

Inuyasha plopped his butt down on the last step of the stairs heading down from the Shrine. He couldn't stay. He wasn't going to listen to them nag him about how they were right about Kikyo and her job. Yes, he knew her job would keep her away, but so soon? This was supposed to be there first official-like date. It was supposed to be awkward. Even he got that.

And it wasn't going to happen.

What else could he do today? He had planned on spending it with her. It didn't matter the reason. Handing out baby trees? Who gave a shit about that? Some human ruler who cared more about plants than his people? It ended up being some lame excuse for a holiday. Humans and their vacations. It made many of them lazy, whiny. He worked hard for his life, extra hard because of who he was.

Standing up, he glanced back up at the shrine. He felt bad for ditching them. Kagome had mentioned that they had just enough volunteers. He took one step up and then stopped. Nope. He'd just go home, get some work done. If Kikyo was at work, he'd do the same. That way, when she had time off, he could justify taking the time off because he worked extra.

Yeah...that's exactly what he'd do.

He leaped up into the air, using his demon strength and abilities to make it home quickly.

Sesshoumaru did what he had to. But the moment he had a moment from greeting the guests, he slipped away. Rin had sent him a message, but he was discussing things with his human counterpart about the current state of affairs in regards to the program and wasn't able to leave until finished. He approached the guard that she had shown her invitation to.

"Where is she?"

The guard broke his stance at the sound of the daiyoukai's voice. He glanced up and gulped.

"She passed through here?"

The man nodded.

"Did you forget your orders?"

The man gulped again. The Emperor had sent out invitations to all of the guests, including the human prime minister. Sesshoumaru was able to send out his own invitations. And only one had been sent from his house. The man searched through the excuses that strolled through his brain, but he knew that none would satisfy the dog lord.

Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes at the guard. "Which way did she go?"

Again the guard remained still, unable to say anything. He had paid little attention to the human girl as she made her way in. She was easily forgettable. No real looks, no presence. Now, if Sesshoumaru had invited one of the supermodels that had been invited, different story.

He had wished he had stationed one of his own personal guards. They know how to do their job. He turned away and scanned the grounds. There were too many people here to scent her out. Even for him.

There was no other choice. He reached into his pocket, pulled out his phone and replied to her text message, asking where she was at. Waiting patiently for a reply, after several minutes he growled when he received none. She never tended to answer messages right away, but at this moment, he had even less patience than he normally had.

Plan B: search the grounds. He knew she liked the flowers, but there were flowers all over the place. It made it difficult to narrow a location down. Since he had been over on this side of the grounds, he'd start there. Hopefully, she would respond back.

Rin looked up from the spot she had found comfortable and breathtaking. It was the softest grass she had ever sat on, situated along the shores of one of the ponds. Trees provided shade overhead and all around were blossoms and birds. It was something from a dream. She had lost track of time, taking pictures and notes, she forgot about the other guests.

And still no Sesshoumaru.

She sighed. I'm so silly, she thought to herself. She reached for her notebook and looked at it. Maybe this was silly too. She loved flowers. But she knew she couldn't have a career with it. Instead, she focused on something that would provide her with some financial freedom.

Setting the notebook on her lap, she stared at the blank page. Thinking about Sesshoumaru or what her future may be like completely emptied her mind. Which was strange as she was always thinking something.

"I have been looking everywhere for you."

Rin looked up to see a beautiful woman standing away from her calling out to someone. Her dark black hair was secured up in sparkly, and probably very expensive, hair pins. She wore a tight, dark gray pencil skirt with heels that gave her a few extra inches of height. The silky pink blouse hugged her curves tightly, but not so much to be scandalous. Earrings that probably cost as much as her education dripped from her earlobes.

"You can't keep walking away from this, from me," she said loudly. Rin figured the lady must have believed whoever she was talking to were alone in this area. Rin crawled over a bit to hide behind a nearby bush. Ugh, drama.

"Sesshoumaru," Kagura yelled out. All day she had been chasing him down. She was getting tired of his game of chase. It was time for him to just give up and give in. People were already starting to talk.

Rin stopped breathing.

"They are already talking. It's time. You owe it to the people. Your kind."

Sesshoumaru stopped, turned and stared hard at Kagura. If he could strangle her, he would. Especially right now. He was not interested in Kagura or the other politicians or any other person for that matter. There was only one.

He needed to get her off his back. Now and for good.

"I will tell you this once. Now is not the time. Once the first group has been successful, then I will consider other proposals." He hoped that his noncommittal response would suffice. He needed to buy himself some time. Never before had he considered settling down, though he was aware of what was expected of him in terms of family, and producing an heir.

Kagura smiled. It wasn't exactly what she was looking for, but she would take it. She bowed deeply to the dog lord.

"I will wait for you then." She could barely contain her excited. Just a bit longer. But soon. The first groups were going to be analyzed in less than a year now. He was so close to being hers.

With that said, Kagura turned and left him alone.

Sesshoumaru sighed. It was getting late and Rin hadn't responded back. He would check back with the guards and see if she had left. Maybe one of them could do their job correctly. He marched away from the pond, from an area he hadn't searched.

Rin finally took in a gulp of air once she knew she was alone. Well, that was awkward. She probably wasn't supposed to see that. Or hear it. Or know about it. But it made sense. And it was perfect. Immediately recalling the moment in the library where Sesshoumaru gave her the invitation. And while he said he did not care what others thought, she did. For him.

He bribed her with the invitation to this garden. Knowing she couldn't resist, she came against her better judgment. The kamis must have wanted her here, now, to witness that moment to help guide her down the right path. This was the sign she was waiting for. How ironic that it came at this place. She smiled. Life was funny.

Looking up at the sky, the blue was fading fast. The sun was starting to set. The day was almost over. Rin grabbed her things and walked along the shore. She found some small flowers at her foot. Ones different than what she had found earlier. Sitting back down on the grass next to these flowers, she opened her notebook and drew the flowers. A few more minutes wouldn't matter. She needed this to last as long as it could. Once she left, it was over.

"Sango, do you still need me?"

"What?"

Kohaku yelled louder, "Do you still need me?"

They had spent the day cleaning up the dojo, getting the weapons organized and ready for kodomo no hi. The instructors were doing to do demos and work with the young boys in hopes of getting them excited about exercising and time honored traditions.

Sango exited the room she was cleaning up and searched until she found Kohaku. He was sitting on the floor with his phone in hand.

"Sorry, repeat."

"Souta wants to know if you still need me?"

"Souta?" Sango wiped her hands on the towel she carried. "Isn't he volunteering at the Shrine?"

"Yeah, but a couple of volunteers couldn't make it and he needs someone to hang out with him while handing out plants."

Sango looked around. They had finished everything that she had hoped to accomplish. The instructors would be in early on kodomo no hi to get their items organized for their planned demos. But each room had been washed and scrubbed and disinfected. She had a few other things to finish, but nothing she needed Kohaku for.

"Sure. Tell him and Kagome I said hi."

Kohaku jumped up and hugged his sister. "Thanks. See you later." He quickly ran out of the room. On his way out he bumped into Miroku. "Later."

"Where you going?"

"I'm escaping. Sango said so."

"So are we done?"

Kohaku shook his head. "Probably not. Better check in with the boss before thinking of escaping."

Miroku chuckled. Not that he was trying to escape, but he thanked the kid for thinking about him. He watched as Kohaku headed out. It was a good time for a break. Some food might be needed.

"Sango, would you be interested in taking a small-"

He froze when he found her in her office. Sango was mid-clothes changing. Her back was to him and she slipped out of her dirty shirt and into something cleaner. He quickly inhaled at the sight.

"San...go…" His voice quickly died out at the sight.

Sango gasped and quickly turned around. When did...how did...She locked eyes with him. Even if it was brief, he had seen it. She could see it on his face. And that was something no one ever forgot. Sango finished slipping her shirt on.

It was probably time. No, it was probably past time. Miroku was one of her best friends. But she could never tell him. Not then.

"Don't tell Kohaku," she whispered. But he heard every word. "He doesn't know. I've been able to avoid showing him due to sibling modesty."

Across Sango's back was the constant reminder of that night. The night she failed her family but saved her brother. The night someone wanted to use her to make a mockery of the government. The night her life changed.

"Kagome knows. And so does Mama Higurashi. She helped to care for me after I was released. But no one else."

An angry red scar was cut deep in the center of her back, with jagged arms reaching up to her shoulders, hugging her around her waist and reaching down. The outer parts had faded, but the deepest part was red. Some of the smaller ones were welted and raised. Sango had always dressed to cover it up. He could see why. The questions she would be haunted with would drive her crazy.

Sango sighed. Now was a good of a time as any. This was the part of her that wasn't included in her biography. The part no one knew about. The government did a very good job keeping it secret. While the public knew what happened to her family, he didn't know what actually happened. Or why.

"Let's go and get something to eat and drink and bring it back here."

Miroku nodded, using his better judgment to stay silent and let Sango lead. He knew not to push her. While this was something he was waiting for, he was grateful that she could trust him with it. While Kagome had explained to him that the attack on her family did harm her, the extent of that damage and the exact details were left out. No amount of bribery could get Kagome to give him any details. And he loved Kagome for that.

As the stars shone overhead, he found her asleep on the grass surrounded by flowers. A small notebook and her cell phone were just out of her reach from her hand. She had curled up into herself as the cool night air spread across the land. He took note of her. She had worn a cotton kimono with a nice pattern on it. It dawned on him that she had dressed in this manner for him. Many tended to forgo traditions for popular fashion since photographers were always around.

He sat down on the ground next to her, resting against a nearby tree and gently reached for her, pulling her onto his lap. She was so tiny. Fragile. Warm and soft. Her hair was done in an elegant up-do, with several silk flowers cascading down the side.

Picking up her notebook, he felt like he was invading her private space, but felt driven to find out more about her. She had simple pencil drawings of the flowers that he found quite beautiful. Next to the drawings was a simple poem. Not quite a haiku. He read one of them. Simple and honest. Just like her. But these were not poems. He spotted the tiny music notes that danced around the flowers and words.

It was a song.

Did she sing? She probably had a nice voice. He could easily imagine her humming or singing to herself here amongst the flowers. Would she sing their children?

He froze.

Where in all hells did that idea come from?

What was she doing to him?

Rin began to stir awake. Time froze around him, but his heart started to beat faster. He didn't know how she was going to respond to him. For a man who controlled everything, he found himself completely unsure of what to say or do around her.

Her warm chocolate eyes fluttered open and met his dark gold ones. She started to sit up, but he resisted, wanting her to say on his lap for just a moment longer. Rin didn't protest, but she wasn't going to stay laying down on his lap. It was awkward enough having fallen asleep in the emperor's private estate. More so waking up on the lap of the daiyoukai.

"Is the party over?" Rin said sheepishly as she crawled to a spot on the grass, inches away from him.

He nodded, watching her intently.

"Whoops. It was nice. The party."

"I didn't see you around."

"Oh, well, flowers." Rin glanced around. She figured they were mostly alone if the party was done. It was dark. The day was done and so was this dream. Time to go back home. Time to go back to the real world. She reached over and grabbed her notebook and her phone, quickly stuffing them into the purse that matched her kimono. Rin took a quick peek at Sesshoumaru and noticed that he wasn't dressed in traditional clothing, opting for the business dress of modern Japanese politicians.

Did she choose the wrong outfit?

"I should probably get going. It's late and...yeah…"

"You can stay if you wish."

He was making this difficult.

"She's pretty." Actually, she was beautiful. Gorgeous. She had what any respectable man would want in a woman. Curves and height. Maybe brains. She noticed the confused looked his on his face. "The lady youkai who said she would wait for you."

Sesshoumaru was confused for a moment. Then he realized exactly where he was at. Not far was where Kagura stopped him during his hunt for Rin. He had been so distracted by the wind sorceress that he went in any direction to get away from her. Rin was never supposed to have witnessed that.

"Why don't you accept her offer?"

Sesshoumaru didn't answer her. Couldn't. He didn't really have one. Did he resist Kagura because she was so persistent? He didn't know, but he did know that Kagura wasn't the one. He did find many admirable traits in the woman, strength, cunning and she was beautiful. And yet his heart did not race for her. His body didn't yearn for her.

"She's not the one for me."

Rin smiled sadly. It was coming to an end. The gardens. The dream. The time spent with Sesshoumaru. It was time to be real. She had lived in her head for so long that if she wasn't careful, she'd get lost there again. Not doing that again. Never again.

"Ok. I'm going now." Rin stated, more to herself than to him. She needed to leave. She bowed to him, forehead to the ground, showing up the utmost respect and reverence she could muster up. He would always deserve, command that kind of respect. "I'm very grateful for the honor to visit these grounds."

He frowned. Why was she saying these things?

"Rin…"

She sat up and looked him in the eyes. He needed to hear this. "You say you aren't scared of anything and yet, you didn't even have the nerve to meet me at the gate. I could tell by the look on the guard's face that the invitation I presented to him was unique. I also know that the invitation was not a personal invitation from the Emperor, but you. Kohaku has an invitation from the Emperor, so I know what they look like. Just so you know, I tried looking. I searched every inch of this garden. And when I didn't find you, I found flowers instead because they don't seem to be ashamed."

He opened his mouth to say something and quickly shut it. She was right. He had an image to uphold and seeing her would call that image into question. Tolerated was the word best used to described how he interacted with humans. It took some time to graduate up to that. His views on humans were well known and well documented. With the change in times, he learned to cooperate with them. But nothing more.

"Rin…"

And again he had no words. He found himself desperate to keep her around. What was happening to him?

"It's late," she sighed out. She was hurt. Only the flowers had kept her from crying. She was such a silly little girl.

"Stay."

"Wha-"

"I'm...sorry. You are right. I wasn't sure how you would be received."

"Isn't that for me to worry about?"

"Perhaps." He reached out and took her hand in his. "Perhaps I need to make it up to you."

Rin smiled softly, glancing around the gardens. The pink blossoms glowed in the darkening sky. Crickets softly chirped in the background. Rin opened her mouth and closed it. She could end it here, now. She could shut him down and out for good. And she should. She had to. He didn't have a good reason for avoiding her. He was important and powerful and a youkai. He had eligible women that were better suited for him waiting for him, begging to be his. He was a leader, practically immortal. She was a student. She...she really could name anything that she had going for her. She never really looked at herself.

"Good luck topping this."