© Salome Wilde, 2008

New Beginnings

Author's Notes: 1) One viable explanation for why we love Sesshomaru, via feminist film theory: "He is for most American women, the male ideal—cultured, genteel, refined, repressed, with a slight antagonism toward women that is not congenital but the result of an earlier wound or disillusionment, and therefore curable. But it is curable only by her. About all other women he continues to be cynical and disbelieving, and thus his fidelity is assured. He is, like the celibate clergyman or 'confirmed bachelor,' a challenge to a woman, and a relief from the sexually aggressive male." –Molly Haskell, From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies (2nd ed., U Chicago Press, 1987).

2) Ernest Hemingway may have said that the scariest thing in the world to him was a blank sheet of paper, but it's life to me. This week, as I face the recent death by stroke of a dear friend, the blank paper (i.e. opening a new document in Word) has been heartwarming and life-affirming. Coming back so soon to the Sesshomaru and adult Rin story arc I've created is exciting, rewarding, arousing—and necessary. Thank you with all my heart to every reader and every reviewer who has perused even a chapter of it. With mortality ever at nipping at our heels, knowing I can write beyond "The End" in this way is pure magic. Cheesy romance based on someone else's text this may be, but writing this makes me (and I hope you) feel alive.

Chapter 1

He had been gone three days. But, to Rin, three days were nothing compared to the two nights between them. It had always been hard emotionally to be apart from him, but the bond they shared as mates now made it physically painful, too. She strove to meet the challenge, keeping her mind and hands as busy as she could with small tasks, rigorous training, and plans of her own for their future. Still, though, it was an effort.

Now, when he had at last returned, he had scarcely a word for her. For Jaken, however, he had a two pieces of a long, broken sword that shone with a strange blue light and was covered with ancient writing. The two pored over the item together, leaving Rin feeling ignorant and isolated. She had things she wanted to discuss with Sesshomaru, had been waiting for his return to tell him. And things to show him, too, things both intimate and soldierly. But they would have to wait. Trying not to betray her impatience, she sat beside Sesshomaru, as close as she could to his body without being so obvious that Jaken would scold her for disrupting their work. Simply not reaching out to stroke the fur at his shoulder was a lesson in strictest discipline. It rested softly against his neck and his cheek, impossibly soft. Though he would not admit it, she was certain he relished its feel against his skin as much as she did. She had learned only recently just how erotically charged this unique inuyokai part of his body was—for both of them.

Apparently, the sword was a holy item Sesshomaru had long sought. He had expected to find it whole and to wrest it with a bit of effort. But when he finally found its resting place, it was unprotected and already shattered and incomplete. Rin listened to the story of monks who commissioned and blessed the sword with sacred magic at its forging. They intended to use it against Sesshomaru's father but never had opportunity. The Great Dog Demon had visited the monks' village only once. He had been told the temple held a jewel with the power to blind dragons. However, he found no such item there and had no intention of returning once he left. Had he found the jewel, perhaps his battle with Ryukotsusei shortly thereafter would have gone differently. The monks, however, labored on, unaware of his fate. They were as certain he would return to destroy them all as the Great Dog Demon was certain he could defeat Ryukotsusei.

Sesshomaru held out his new possession: the weapon's hilt and the first half of its length. Jaken made appreciative sounds at its elegant design and lamented its current state. Sesshomaru made plain his intention to retrieve the missing third. Perhaps it could be refashioned for his own use. The long-dead monks had somehow kept his father from the blinding jewel—which Sesshomaru could find no trace of either in the abandoned temple, so they owed him at least this weapon. Who had destroyed it, how, and why two of its three pieces had been abandoned and the temple in ruins was not discussed, leaving Rin to wonder whether perhaps Sesshomaru and Jaken already knew.

Sesshomaru stood and sheathed the fragments of the sword within his belt. He turned, at last, to Rin and inquired how she had spent her time while he was gone. Though she might have liked to ask what his plans were for finding the rest of the fascinating weapon and perhaps searching for that jewel, she knew this was her opportunity to display the fighting technique she had been practicing, with great success on Jaken's poor green hide, for the past two days. She would leave the more serious matter she had for discussion until they were alone and the mood felt right. She told her mate that she had been working hard with her staff and would be pleased to show him her progress. His dismissive "Later, Rin" left her disappointed. Perhaps he was weary from his journey, but why ask her what she had been doing if he did not really wish to know? Was it only in the darkness that he found value in her company?

When he turned his back to walk away, Rin breathed in his scent and found it projected a longing that his words and actions belied. The contradictions were maddening. In her eighteen-year-old way, she told herself that she was always clear and unambiguous in her word and deed. Her life was aimed always in one direction: Sesshomaru's happiness. Well, their happiness together, anyway. And though his desires may have been directed similarly, he could be so infuriating with that aloof demon way he had. Well, she could annoy him, too, she thought, suddenly swinging her staff and trying to take Sesshomaru's feet out from beneath him. Sesshomaru nimbly stepped onto the end of the staff as it swept by. Rin was thrown down with her weapon, since she would not release it. Wincing from the pain of knuckles trapped between staff and hard earth, she lifted her soiled face and spat dirt. Sesshomaru did not move. "And now, what will be your countermove, my Rin?" he asked.

She ground her teeth and struggled to rise, without success. Sesshomaru lifted his foot and released the staff. Rin let her head drop back down. "I hope you will bathe before you come to me tonight, my mate. I do not wish to have the odor of the earth interfere with my enjoyment of the way you smell when you sleep."

Rin growled something vaguely obscene at his back as he walked away. How could he so casually—and so loudly—refer to something so intimate between them? The fact that their scents changed as they slept was an amazing secret she had only recently learned. When she had announced it to Sesshomaru, hoping to surprise him with the exciting discovery, he had been entirely nonchalant, offering only a "Yes, Rin," to indicate his prior knowledge. It was almost as though he'd been enjoying her sexually without her awareness. She blushed hotly and refused to sleep beside him that night.

For Rin, the discovery of his sleeping scent was a small miracle. The day she found out was a beautiful accident of the otherwise unremarkable early morning, when she had somehow miraculously awakened before Sesshomaru and remained unmoving enough to enjoy his slumber without rousing him. He was often alert and active while she still slumbered, and she hated his ease in slipping away without waking her. But that one morning, and several times since then, she had been able to take in the magic that was the sight and scent of Sesshomaru at rest. Lying on his back with her at his side—in the crook of his arm or, as she most adored, with both her arm and a leg wrapped tightly across him—she could come to consciousness with his aroma already invading her every pore. When asleep, Sesshomaru's smell was especially sweet and precious: like a young peach, almost ripe but flowery and light, not like the richness of matured fruit. Rin loved to sample and "taste" him this way. Even after many months of being permitted to sleep most nights at his side (when he was not away or in need of solitude), his scent was still a fascinating phenomenon and powerful aphrodisiac. Hence, it was rare that she enjoyed more than a few inhalations before she had to hold him tighter or wriggle against him until he woke and either chided her or bedded her.

In light of such intimacy, she especially hated how casually he was treating her now and how easily he had defeated her attempt to topple or even surprise him with her staff. Yet, she could not stay angry with him. His mention of sleeping with her made her heart pound and moistness pool between her legs. And, after all, he spent less and less time away as the months passed and seemed to need fewer and fewer nights of solitude.

She cherished his every acknowledgment of their closeness. At times, she would even intentionally involve herself in hearing tales of Jaken's youth or tanning hides until late in the evening so that Sesshomaru had to summon her to his side when he wished her to sleep beside him. The sound of his deep, dispassionate voice beckoning "Come to me, Rin," was a treasure. Now that they were mated, she always knew when he needed her. Still, she loved to hear it from his own beautiful lips.

Beyond such indulgences, the depth of affection and commitment she now shared with Sesshomaru was truly beyond words. Now and then, she would think back a season and more ago and marvel at the torrent of speech that had needed to be exchanged between them. Their scents and their bodies now spoke love and resolved conflict in ways for which language had been so necessary only a scant few months before.

Some things, of course, still needed words. Jaken's response to full knowledge of their bond was characteristically vocal. He whined and railed to Rin when Sesshomaru was not within hearing range, and occasionally when he was (receiving for his indiscretion the occasional hard kick in the seat of the hakama). Such punishment, of course, made the little yokai bow and fawn grotesquely afterward. Rin's increasing defenses of Jaken became more to avoid witnessing such displays of toadying than because she hated seeing him beaten. In fact, over the ten years the three had spent together, Rin had become increasingly convinced that Jaken had a masochistic streak as wide as a river. Moreover, she thought, Sesshomaru had to be aware of this and did not refrain from encouraging it. One of those male yokai things, she mused, and resolved to be mature enough not to concern or involve herself in it. After all, Jaken was the only other being she knew who worshipped Sesshomaru with a passion nearly matching hers. That entitled him to at least some of her mate's attention, and if the intimacy was limited to the occasional smack in the head, she could be big enough to refrain from jealousy.

Dejectedly, Rin walked to the small stream not far from their encampment. She stripped and brushed off her kimono with a surge of adrenalin that denoted both excitement at Sesshomaru's return and frustration at his demeanor. In only a few hours, she would be again naked and in his arms. The thought and the cool autumn air brought chills to her youthful flesh. Yet, that he had not been more demonstratively pleased to see her and had so embarrassed her before Jaken (never mind that she was the fool who tried so obvious and ineffective a fighting technique on him) left her pouting. Shivering as she splashed herself with cool, clear water, she resolved to keep their intimate reunion as delightful as possible by leaving any serious discussion until the next morning.

Refreshing her body in the stream helped her mind as well. She wiped and shook the water from her body, and then redressed herself. As she walked back, she sniffed the air and detected the smell of fish cooking over a fire. She realized she was ravenous (Sesshomaru's return after any absence always gave her a great appetite) and hurried back. The agreement she had with Jaken that one of them would catch or gather food and the other would prepare it worked very well, but he had a tendency to overcook fish. As she came upon him, humming to himself as he flipped the skewered mackerel, she smiled. She was glad they had worked out an amicable relationship, especially after his hysteria when he learned Sesshomaru had taken her as his mate.

Jaken's initial panic revolved around two primary complaints, both of which were shared, loudly and frequently, with Rin. Sesshomaru had heard no more than his gasping disbelief before he gave such a glare that Jaken fell to his knees and pleaded for his life. Once alone with Rin, however, he had no hesitation about giving forceful utterance to his deepest fears. First, he whined that his status with Lord Sesshomaru would be reduced. Rin should not presume that greater intimacy meant higher standing as a follower or (gods forbid!) equality with their omnipotent master. Translation: outrageous envy that Sesshomaru ignored. Rin was able to pacify Jaken somewhat by continuing to refer to the little green yokai with the honorific and walking behind him as often as possible on their journeys (though this was difficult because she was finding it increasingly hard to keep her hands off of Sesshomaru, day or night).

Second, he complained that Sesshomaru's safety would be compromised. He would not protect his own life first but would prefer Rin's, and this could endanger him. Translation: wild-eyed jealousy that Sesshomaru ignored. Rin was able to ease Jaken's heart somewhat by assuring him that she would sacrifice her life for Sesshomaru's (and she meant it) and by training long and hard to defend herself against the frequent demonic and occasional human threats they faced.

But now she was finding that she needed more than Jaken could teach her and had sought the help of another warrior. Greater than Jaken, to be sure, yet lesser than Sesshomaru, who still resisted working actively with her despite her frequent requests and displays like the one that now left her washing dirt from her mouth. There was no question that her mate enjoyed the fruits of her training regimen as she playfully struggled to release herself when he held her strong arms pinned overhead as he teased and nipped at the sensitive flesh of her nipples or belly. And he could not fail to notice the growing power of her thighs as she wrapped them around his slender waist as he bore into her soft, yielding core. Nonetheless, she wanted more. She wanted his respect, and not only for her determination to find compromise and satisfaction as mates, but as a fighter, as an adherent. And so, without his or Jaken's knowledge, she had gone elsewhere.

Dinner for the three was a quiet, rather somber affair. Sesshomaru, as always, respectfully refused any offers of food. To please Rin, he might sample a berry or two, but meals to Sesshomaru seemed primarily a ritual through which to display acknowledgment of his relationship to his followers. He joined them at dinner, looking out impassively across the darkening sky, to show he valued them. Eating was one of those intensely private matters for Sesshomaru, it seemed. Even Jaken could not say exactly what or how often Lord Sesshomaru took nourishment, though his contention was that it involved hunting for large game that he devoured raw and whole. Rin preferred to think that he was beyond mortal need for food, partly because she could not guess at how he could keep the blood off of himself and his beautiful white robes if he were truly the carnivorous beast Jaken portrayed. That he was as lustful a creature as she now knew him so well to be had shaken her on this issue, but it was not a topic they had yet broached.

Tonight, certainly, was not a night for broaching private matters. Rin enjoyed her mate's proximity yet sensed tension within him. Likely obvious only to a mate, Sesshomaru was pensive, ill at ease as he sat beside her. Jaken chattered on obliviously, but Rin was silent and still. She longed to hold Sesshomaru in her arms and relieve the tension that coursed through him and reached her with each inhalation. She closed her eyes and projected images of her lips brushing up against his, their bodies entwining, and the way she felt when he was hilted inside her. She searched for a change in his scent in response, but little came back to her. He was not blocking himself from her—they both vowed never to withhold from one another that way again—but he was controlling himself, restraining his reactions somehow. She would coax him from this mood soon. After all, had he not said he wished her to come to him that night?

When at last Sesshomaru rose and took his leave (in the middle of Jaken's narrative of some glorious battle he and Sesshomaru had engaged in before Rin came into their lives), Rin's heart beat wildly. With each step he took away from her, she faced the possibility that he would not summon her. And though she longed to assert herself by rising and joining him, with or without invitation, she still needed the reassurance that only his summons could provide. Suddenly, it came. "Rin," sounded Sesshomaru's voice, the one word blending command, appeal, assurance, and declaration of desire. Rin rose and ran, leaving Jaken's protests of rudeness to float futilely through the air after her.

However hesitant she was to go to him without being called, she did not hold back from embracing him once at his side. Beyond the firelight and beneath the light of the crescent moon, she threw herself into his arms and reached up on tiptoe to press a warm kiss to his lips. Sesshomaru allowed it but did not return it. Nor did he take her in his arms. She stepped slightly back and tipped her head up to look into his wide, golden eyes. A few months before, she would have asked him to hold or reassure her. Now, she merely kept her arms loosely around him and waited for him to speak.

At last, he did. "When were you going to tell me that you have been to see Inuyasha?"

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Note: Now that I've mentioned it at the beginning of the chapter, I'm contemplating writing a one-shot lemon "Rin Discovers What the Mokomoko is For" story. Surely others have already done this, yes?