Disclaimer: This might be nearly nine years in the making, but I still don't own the characters. All rights go to the genius that is Rumiko Takahashi.
Sorcerousfang: Hello! Welcome to Deep Water. This story was one of my very first projects, and it is currently in overhaul mode (though technically completed). Here to help me with the process is one fluffball.
Sesshomaru: I thought we agreed the pet names would stop. And that I would be released.
Sorcerousfang: Maybe. I forgot. Also, never. I need my muse, and you're fine entertainment for the readers.
Anywho, if a chapter has been edited since 2008 (or any of the number of years this has existed here), it will say "EDITED x/x/2017" at the top. If it hasn't, it will be a train wreck. I'm sure you'll be able to tell.
I apologize for the long process and I hope to have it completed by the end of this year. Without further ado, let's get on with it.
"Hurry up, Master Jaken!"
As was common these days, Sesshomaru found the silence he had once been used to broken by the giggling of a young human girl. It failed to annoy him; in fact, he might be able to agree that he liked the sound if he were not who he was. A proud demon taking pleasure from the happiness of a human child? Preposterous.
It did annoy his servant, however, or at least her antics did.
"Will you wait, girl! This is not a race!"
The child found ways to make games of just about anything. In this case, it was a race to reach his heels the quickest. She had played the game before, won every instance of it, and Jaken's patience for it wore thinner than the thread of pride he was hanging onto. Sesshomaru was sure that was because Jaken knew he would never win such a game; the games in which they caught fish at least gave him a chance.
Her bright kimono came into his periphery, fabric dancing as she skipped to keep up with his longer stride. He did not slow for her, but he did not have to; this was another obstacle she made into a game.
Rin's continued presence in his life was not at all expected, and far less understandable. The events leading up to their original encounter he could explain easily enough – blinding Inuyasha during their fight had been a mistake the half-breed unexpectedly took advantage of, he found himself hammered by a Wind Scar, and woke up in a forest later that afternoon. Simple.
Everything else was complex and not worth the effort to comprehend. Why she chose to help him was a question he never asked. Why he chose to revive her, he ultimately blamed on Tenseiga and the will his father had left behind in it, and did not acknowledge his own choices on the matter. Why she continued at his side…
He had no explanation, and no one to blame but himself.
Sesshomaru did enjoy her presence, preposterous as the idea was. Several positive things came from Rin's attachment to him, like Tenseiga being much more reasonable with him since she had begun to follow, and he was far from unhappy about that. He just failed to understand why any of this was the case. Why did he not care when she followed him? Why was he more amused by the prospect of a human child clinging to his presence than annoyed?
She had not been worth killing when she first came upon him. He could not move much at the time anyway, and he found himself curious that she was attempting to help him rather than call in adults to do away with the threat (and attempt was the appropriate word choice – between dumping water on his head and leaving food he would not eat, her assistance was mere gesture, but nonetheless interesting). Despite his efforts to deter her, she persisted, until those wolves had attacked and claimed her life.
He had turned his back on her corpse initially. What he told Jaken when he had asked if he had any use for the human child was true. After a moment of reflection, though, it seemed such a waste for the kindhearted mute to die so soon, and he figured he at least owed her a test of his blade for her efforts. He was fairly certain that the blade had forced those thoughts on him.
That he did not ignore them was a matter he chose to set aside.
That she would follow him, he did not anticipate.
That her newly regained ability to speak would become a source of amusement was a pleasant surprise.
That he was growing attached to her was attributed to familiarity.
That he had stopped contemplating leaving her behind was bound to happen after some time.
That Inuyasha was technically responsible for their meeting had crossed his mind once or twice.
He would never thank him for the unexpectedly pleasant contribution to his daily life. The hanyou did not need an unnecessary boost to his already inflated ego.
A small rumble echoed near him, and he glanced down at the girl. They exchanged a look that he returned with a small nod.
"I'll be right back!" she declared. Jaken had missed her request for food, stuttered incoherently for a moment, and then shouted after her to bring something for him. Sesshomaru paused in his steps this time. She would not be long.
Rin was simple, and he realized that was partly what made him curious about her early on. It was why she could attempt to help him despite his demonic nature, why long-winded explanations were unnecessary (and boring, as Jaken discovered time and again), and why they could understand each other through such minor exchanges. She liked flowers and knew that he appreciated the gesture when she would say they were for him without having to actually wear them. She quickly accepted that he had to leave her behind at times for her own safety, and knew that his word was a promise without having to say as much.
The ease with which they could communicate despite the vast differences between their species pleased him, and was one of the number of reasons he had not abandoned her to a human village. He was not sure he could bring himself to completely part from her anymore.
Finding himself protective of the child had thrown him when the first hints of it had made themselves known. Naraku kidnapping her had angered him (and that he had been able to use her as an effective hostage had been telling). He spent several long evenings contemplating how he could even remotely resemble his father on the subject of a human girl.
After much examination, he concluded that his willingness to save the child was something of his father's fault. Coming to that understanding meant that he had to accept that Inuyasha had inherited that softness for humans from their sire as well, and was not simply sympathetic to them because his own mother was one. It was not a conclusion he was particularly fond of, but he had been able to rationalize it in terms of obligation; Inuyasha protected the priestess in strange clothing because she was his responsibility for one reason or another, and in having revived Rin, Sesshomaru made the child his own.
He would honor that.
Rin quickly rounded a tree in search of food. She didn't need much – mushrooms or sweet grasses would do – but she needed something to hold her over until a more appropriate time to eat came up. Lord Sesshomaru was busy looking for leads on the ever-elusive Naraku, after all. She didn't want to hold him back by taking much time.
She had never personally met the demon before. Being kept safely away from him made her feel unneeded at times, but those thoughts were always chased away when her lord returned to where she had been asked to wait. She determined that her purpose should be to give him somewhere to return to, like a home, except one that moved.
She liked to think of him as her home, too.
A smile spread across her face as she came upon a bush full of edible berries. She looked closely to make sure nothing was hiding in it so that she didn't get herself into trouble and cause needless concern for Lord Sesshomaru, determined that it was safe, and collected a few large handfuls into the basket she created using the front of her kimono. There was enough for Jaken, who she was sure she had heard shouting after her, and a few for her lord should he accept the offer. He never did want any food, and she had yet to figure out what the difference between human and demon food was, but she would keep trying nonetheless.
Returning to where she had left them, she was delighted to see that they had waited for her, and then was immediately greeted by Jaken.
"What took you so long, Rin?"
It was a typical greeting from the imp, and she figured he just told time differently from her. He always seemed to be rushed, even when Lord Sesshomaru was not.
"I picked them as fast as I could, Master Jaken," she explained, and gathered up a handful small enough for him to hold in one hand. "Here's yours."
His expression flipped quickly to a grin.
"Oh! Thank you," he replied as he took them. He quickly popped one into his mouth and exclaimed, "Oi, these are good!"
She knew that, of course, because she only picked the best ones.
Lord Sesshomaru patiently declined his own, as she had expected, but she suspected he was pleased by the offer. His eyes smiled just a little.
He seemed to be becoming better at showing kindness lately. He wasn't good at it at first, even though Rin knew he was very kind anyway, but he had definitely improved lately. It was mostly little things, like stopping for her while she found food, or giving her more nonverbal responses to questions she asked. He consistently asked how she had fared while he was away, and answered when she asked the same of his time apart from her. Even now, he was waiting while she ate.
Rin smiled. She was very happy to have found him. It was a bit like having a family again.
She still had dreams about her mother and father and brothers. Some of them were good even though a lot of them were still bad. Lord Sesshomaru never offered to hug her when she woke up from a bad one, and she didn't think it was appropriate to ask, but he was nonetheless comforting. He asked her about it the first time it happened and never again. She would sit next to him some nights when she needed to, talk for a long time if it helped, and he would simply listen.
Though he wasn't at all like her father, she thought he might make a fairly good one if perhaps he talked a little more and played some games with her from time to time. Rin believed he just wasn't used to doing things like that, especially with Master Jaken around, as he could be quite melancholy and often did things that resulted in a punishment.
Speaking of the imp, he also appeared to be learning how to be kind. At first, Master Jaken argued a lot with her on matters. He still did not like some of her games, but he did play more of them than he used to. His storytelling had not yet improved, but she thought he might figure it out someday.
She passed another handful off to him as he finished his first. His thanks made her smile, because that was something else he had gotten better at.
Lord Sesshomaru had never said thank you to her, not even after she had brought him food those few days when he was very hurt, but she thought that bringing her back to life had been his way of saying something without saying it, because he did that often. It didn't hurt her feelings, because unlike Master Jaken, Lord Sesshomaru was much better at showing thank you's than saying them, and it was much more often that she had words of thanks for him than he did for her.
She still hoped that one day he might actually say the words, though she hoped it would be for something much more minor than when they had first met. She never again saw him as wounded as when she had first came upon him, and hoped never again to.
Finding him when she had been searching for food had been scary at first, partly because she thought he might be dead until she saw his chest move, but mostly because she had never seen a demon. She was less scared when she came back with water, even though he tried to frighten her that time, because she knew he was very hurt and really needed help. He didn't want her to help – that had been clear – but she had never been sure why and decided to keep trying anyway.
He eventually asked about her instead of turning her away, which made her very happy. Not many people asked about her after the village had allowed her to live with them. She had thought about bringing him flowers the next time she saw him, though she had died before she could.
She didn't remember much of that aside from the wolves, but then suddenly she was alive and being held very gently by him, and he didn't tell her to leave when she followed.
Rin was very grateful for him.
After the burden on Rin's kimono appeared to be more bearable, Sesshomaru continued on his way.
The things he did for her sometimes threw him off, because he had always been the kind of demon to make decisions or expend energy only on things that were necessary, and much of his behaviors regarding the child fell outside of the line he usually drew.
They were not always things as simple as stopping to allow her to gather food or to rest properly; he had involved himself in a small handful of human conflicts since she had joined him, for reasons he still had yet to put words to, because he refused to believe it was simply because he was displeased that they caused her distress. Brigands frightened her more than the cry of wolves (her family, she had once explained, had been killed in a raid), and when they were close enough for her to hear the sounds of conflict, he at times found himself compelled to end them.
One instance left him crossing paths with a band of monks specializing in extermination, and then subsequently dealing with Rin being kidnapped by a demon and a second encounter with said monks who happened to be after the same.
In the end, he had spent far more energy than he ever should have considered, and all for the human girl he had revived.
He had even been pushed nearly far enough to reveal his true form that day, a moment that made him consider the strength of humans again. It was lucky for them that they held Rin, otherwise he would have loosed the energy backlash on them instead of the forest behind him.
Why he did not simply release his bindings was also due to Rin's presence. He had yet to figure out an appropriate way to reveal his true nature to her, and after so long, he was not sure that he wanted to change her perception of him, either. His current form was the only one she knew, and he was beginning to think that it would remain that way. Very few things could ever push him far enough to reveal his true form, and Rin would likely not be present if he were in such a battle.
Jaken had also been threatened into silence on the matter for now; another thing he questioned of himself later. He was sure the imp was questioning his motives privately, too, even if he was not voicing his questions as much as he used to.
He wondered why and how the girl had grown on him so much from time to time. There was no easy explanation for it, and when he tried to come to conclusions, he had vague results at best. Rin was simply Rin, and there were many things he appreciated about her, but why he appreciated them and how the human had managed her way into importance, he still was not sure.
If he could blame his father for all of this, he would, but he was certain his sire's biggest role in this lie in the fang that rested on his hip. The rest of it was on Sesshomaru himself.
Rin had been very pleased when her request to pause to pick flowers in the field they passed was granted. Lord Sesshomaru took up a relaxed position by a tree for the time, Ah and Un were provided a nice patch of juicy grass, and Master Jaken, though far from admitting it, was happy with the crown of flowers that now ringed his head.
She had made her decisions quickly so that they could be on their way. Any other day, she would have passed on them, but there were some very red flowers that reminded her of her lord's kimono, and there was the matter of the lack of recent appearances by Naraku or even Kagura. As far as she understood it, the demon was in hiding, and was hiding very well. They had been looking for clues for a while with no results, and Lord Sesshomaru had even gone to ask Inuyasha about it.
She still was not quite sure what it was that kept them from getting along like brothers should, but she figured there were things she had not been told.
They would continue walking until dusk gave way to night, so Rin thought of food as they made their way further north. When they stopped, she would go out to catch something appropriate for dinner, but in the meantime, she was on the lookout for telltale signs of small animals. She really hoped for some meat tonight.
When a lake came into view, she brightened at the thought of fish or frogs being available, and moved closer to the water's edge. She held the bouquet of flowers behind her as she peered out at what she thought had been movement below its surface, protecting the bundle that was technically her lord's, but one possession of his she always carried. He could not be expected to carry them when he had only one hand, and he needed that for his sword.
She looked back at him when he called to her, finding that he was concerned by something. He looked out at the lake, and though he did not move in a worrying way, there was some stiffness to his posture. Something was amiss, and he meant for her to stay close.
"Yes, my lord!" she responded, and turned to return to his side.
Her reply set several things into motion at once. No sooner had the words left her lips did the water behind her move, a resounding splash she had no chance to react to. An arm wrapped around her chest and a force pulled her back as she watched her lord move into action. Flower petals and water droplets blinded her a moment later.
Her shout was cut off by the water that swallowed her whole.
Sorcerousfang: And we're done editing the first chapter!
Sesshomaru: Look at that. It's actually better.
Sorcerousfang: Because I cut out unnecessary things from my teenage headcannon.
I will try to keep the chapters mostly as is, but there is a lot to cut from this, and much more to rework. I mostly want to edit extraneous dialogue and action, because the core story is fine. It's all the details that I was screwy with.
See you soon with the next edit!