A/N: I'd like to set a few ages…Rin is sixteen, Jaken is immortal and irrelevant, Sesshomaru is immortal, slightly irrelevant, and somewhere in his twenties in human years. Inuyasha and the rest are pretty much irrelevant right now, and I will clear up their ages at a later date, if and when it matters. Now, on with the fic!
Jaken was pacing. Again.
Rin watched him, amused, as his staff clicked across the ground, his mutterings never ceasing. "Oh, Sesshomaru-sama, where have you disappeared to now? It's been days and I have a teenage girl on my hands! Oh, whatever to do, whatever to do! The least you could have done was tell me where you were going! You know I worry for your safety, my lord! I couldn't imagine-ow!"
Rin had finally had it and chucked a rock at the muttering frog-demon. "Jaken, as much as I respect you, you are getting on my nerves."
Jaken rubbed his head ruefully. "Goodness, has my lord's cold and ice-heart nature rubbed off on you, girl?"
Rin smiled and leaned back, settling against her double-headed dragon's side. "I wish," she murmured. "Someday, I wish I could be as powerful as him. If anything of his rubbed off on me, I'd be grateful."
At first, Jaken didn't know what to say. Then, he gave a haughty sniff and turned away from Rin, folding his arms across his chest. "Dear girl, someday, you will learn," he said huffily.
Rin smiled faintly. "Learn what?" she teased. Jaken had probably only said that because he couldn't think of a better comeback.
Jaken stuttered for a moment before lowering his head in defeat. Rin smirked in satisfaction. "Ah, I thought so," she said mildly, and turned her gaze to the skies. Rin was sitting against Ah-Un's side, one leg bent and the other outstretched. One arm lay across her bent leg, and the other hung at her side. Her head was turned up and to the left, and she seemed to be smiling at something far off in the distance. Jaken huffed irritably and turned away, then sat down a few feet away against a tree. The rest of the time passed in relative silence between the two, the breaking being Ah-Un snorting or shaking his head. His bridle jingled pleasantly, and Rin thought it sounded like wind chimes.
"Ack! Sesshomaru-sama-! Ow, what was that for?!"
Sesshomaru had expertly nailed Jaken in the forehead with an impressively-sized rock, sending the reptile's eyes into large spirals. Rin shot to her feet, bowing to Sesshomaru and moving swiftly out of the demon's way. Clearly, he was not happy. And, sure enough, Sesshomaru swung up onto Ah-Un and glanced at Rin. The look in his eyes was not his normal disinterested calm, but a murderous fury kept in check only by the lack of aggravating events so far.
"Are you coming?"
Rin nodded and swung up behind Sesshomaru, sparing Jaken a passing glance. "Are we taking him?"
"Maybe. Maybe not. Preferably not."
Rin sighed and tossed another rock. "Jaken, come on," she prompted, waiting for impact. "Sesshomaru-sama's leaving."
Sure enough, the ploy had Jaken up and running, and he caught Ah-Un's tail as the two-headed dragon rose into the air, Sesshomaru goading him on mercilessly. Rin knew better than to speak to Sesshomaru now; she would probably get tossed from Ah-Un. Jaken, however, seemed to have a bone to pick with Sesshomaru, and Rin knew he was going to speak his mind.
Despite probably dearly regretting it later.
"Sesshomaru-sama!" Jaken gasped. "I hate it when you run off like this without telling us where you are going! I worry about you! Suppose you were in trouble, and no one knew where you were! The last time you did this-yack!"
"The only thing in trouble," Sesshomaru growled, lifting Jaken into the air by his neck, "Is you, little toad." With that, Sesshomaru threatening held Jaken out over Ah-Un's side. Rin sighed and gently placed her hand on Sesshomaru's arm.
"Sesshomaru-sama," she said soothingly, "It would be a waste to kill him. I mean, you would have to do all the tedious cooking, cleaning, and even a bit more fighting-all by yourself! I mean, I'm here, but I'm only human, and I can only do so much. Besides, if you kill him, who will you throw rocks at? You must admit, you could play dodgeball with him as recipient or ball, and he still wouldn't die! And he'd always come running back to you. You have to admit, Sesshomaru-sama, not many care for you as Jaken and I do."
Sesshomaru reluctantly tossed Jaken back to Rin with an easy flick of his wrist, not saying a word. Jaken righted himself with a sniff, grumbling, "I'm not sure whether to thank you or yell at you, too. I swear, sometimes I have to be that boy's father!"
Rin smiled. "And I'm his mother. I still do laundry around here, so unless you want to be sleeping in your own blood, I advise you to shut up until Sesshomaru-hime has himself in check."
Sesshomaru turned around and glared, but Rin only flashed him a grin and waved. Sesshomaru huffed in annoyance and turned back around.
Rin sat in front of a fire, poking at a few fish in a pan on the fire. Sesshomaru was sitting in a tree, looking disgruntled and pensive. Jaken was still working off nervous energy-by pacing.
Rin picked up the pan, moving it away from the fire and placing it down on a tree stump near Sesshomaru. "Sesshomaru-sama!" she called up to him. "Would you like some?"
Sesshomaru glanced down. "How much is there?" he asked slowly.
"Enough for each of us to have two," Rin replied. "It's salmon," she added, in hopes of getting Sesshomaru to eat. "I know you like that…"
Sesshomaru jumped down from the tree, landing in front of Rin. "What, you don't get hungry eating so little?"
Rin looked at Sesshomaru with an even gaze, then wrapped the fish in a bit of seaweed she had cooked with it. "Consider it sushi," she said, handing the wrap to Sesshomaru. The demon murmured his thanks and retreated to behind a tree, only his far right side visible to Rin and Jaken. Rin smiled and wrapped her own fish and Jaken's, handing the reptile his food and settling down on the opposite side of Sesshomaru's tree.
Scratching noises startled Rin.
She jumped up and turned around, only to see Sesshomaru sharpening his claws like a cat on the tree. She sighed as acid began eating away at the tree and moved. Jaken shivered and turned away.
"You ate that too fast," Rin warned. "If you vomit, don't blame me."
Sesshomaru snorted and another sharp scratch, like nails on a chalkboard, was heard. "Don't patronize me tonight," he growled, and slowly began turning around in circles, trampling down twigs, branches and leaves. Finally, Sesshomaru settled again, turning onto his side and pillowing his head on his arms. Rin smiled and continued eating her dinner, taking several minutes to just stare around into space. It seemed Sesshomaru couldn't sleep-his eyes repeatedly opened and closed, and he turned over occasionally, growling. Rin finally stood up and walked over to Sesshomaru, sitting down behind him and placing a hand on his shoulder.
"Are you alright?"
Sesshomaru released a long, low growl, deep in his throat. But it wasn't a warning growl: no, Rin knew what those sounded like. This was a growl of frustration. Rin knew that as well. Sesshomaru seemed reluctant to answer, but did. "Can't sleep."
Rin smiled. "Obviously!" she said. "But why? Got a lot on your mind?"
Rin gave Sesshomaru a soft, comforting smile and began running her hand through his hair. "Want to talk?" she asked. "Might take a bit of weight off your shoulders. Or maybe you just need to relax."
Sesshomaru turned onto his stomach, putting his hands underneath his chin. "And you plan to help me…how?"
Rin shrugged. "Just talk. Get it out there and off your chest. Or, if you want, I could see if I can find some herbs for tea…"
Sesshomaru seemed skeptical, but took a deep breath and tried to be as vague as possible. Although Rin probably knew what he was talking about…she had been quite involved in the event, and, although young, it was probably seared into her memory forever. "My father…left one sword to my brother, one to me, and one to be destroyed. We thought that sword was destroyed, but…it has come back from the netherworld with a vengeance towards me and my brother stronger than ever. I heard about this from a priestess who sealed Inuyasha asleep for fifty years. She came to me, saying she needed me to get the blade under control."
Rin nodded. "Sounga," she said. "And, what did you say?"
"I told her I would return shortly with my answer. That damned blade needs both Tenseiga and Tetsusaiga to defeat it, and I don't know if I want to risk it. Also, it would involve that brat, Inuyasha. Filthy half-breed. I would need to subdue the blade as my father did, and of course, I have no idea how he did that."
Rin sighed. "That is a problem," she said. "But how did Sounga free itself?"
"Someone freed it," Sesshomaru said bitterly. "Some powerful demon who freed it, then lost control of it at the last second. It is bound to the demon who freed it at the moment, but it could release it at any moment."
Rin sighed and looked away, trying to think. She suddenly realized that her hands had been kneading at Sesshomaru's shoulders, trying to release the pent-up tension in the muscle. She hadn't heard Sesshomaru object, so she figured he was enjoying the treatment. Rin realized she had never touched Sesshomaru simply for the pleasure of touching him-she had always been treating his wounds, helping him with his armor and weaponry, the like. And while Sesshomaru was capable of doing it all himself, Rin had always liked being around him, and insisted upon helping him occasionally. Now, she was just sitting here with him, and…he was allowing her to touch him. It was interesting to Rin. It proved that Sesshomaru felt emotions every now and then, even if it was only stress or anxiety.
"I say, have Inuyasha there, just in case, and then try to take control of it yourself. That way, if you fail, neither Sounga nor Inuyasha will see that you were taking a precaution, and were only trying to trap Sounga. You lose no pride, you sustain no major injuries, and Inuyasha will probably be shown up. Any flaws?"
Sesshomaru exhaled through his nose. "Yes," he said. "One very major flaw." Rin cocked her head, looking at him curiously.
"We have no freaking clue where Inuyasha is."
Kikyo sat on the forest floor, contemplating Sesshomaru's words. Return shortly with an answer, my ass. Kikyo shifted her bow across her shoulder, and her quiver on her back. Where was he…? The demon who had freed the sword. The demon…Naraku. He had promised to be here ten minutes ago! Kikyo's eyes narrowed in frustration. She didn't like it when people-or demons-kept her waiting.
A rustle in the trees made Kikyo reach for her bow.
"Relax, Kikyo, it is I. I apologize for being late."
A man in a baboon pelt emerged from the tree line, and Kikyo relaxed her grip on her bow. "Naraku," she greeted coldly. "How uncharacteristic. You're late."
Naraku waved her off. "It was nothing. I ran into a bit of trouble confusing Inuyasha."
Kikyo sighed. "I told you, I'm only in it for Sesshomaru. If we can bend him to our will, I'll be happy."
"Still have feelings for him, mm?"
Kikyo glared at Naraku, clearly expressing her discontent. "That's none of the business. Has Kagura gone to Sesshomaru?"
"She has," Naraku replied. "And she will see to it that we get a favorable response from him."
Kikyou nodded once. "And then I'll go and reinforce the lesson. And you will make sure that Inuyasha and Sesshomaru each get to the Sounga at the same time? And also that you have it completely under control?"
Naraku nodded. "Kikyo, you must learn to trust me," he said, a hint of amusement in his voice. "Now, come, we still need to work out the finer details of this."
Kikyo tried her best, but somehow couldn't bring herself to let her guard down around Naraku.
A/N: Flames will be saved for winter and then used to keep my house warm and keep heating bills down. Play nice, and I'll play nice. Constructive criticism is appreciated and accepted with open arms, but nasty reviews are not. But by all means, let me know what you think!