Like No One Else

His easy breathing didn't betray his racing heart. Risking a glance over a fur-clad shoulder, he immediately regretted it – pegged with a venom smile, Sesshomaru pulled a grimace. This whelp was going to follow him, eh? Fine, let her. She lacked the stamina to keep pace, she could be ditched in the next human village. The Western Lord didn't need some urchin trotting after him.

The girl, of course, had no idea of what whirred in the dog-demon's mind. After all, he'd just looked back at her to make sure she was still there, right? If anything, he had tenfold the kindness of the village elders!

The following sun, her conclusions were vindicated. A colorful yukata, the kind only permitted to girls of the gentry, was tossed her way.

For the first time in she didn't know how many seasons, she wanted express gratitude with more than a bow. A little voice long tucked away, stretched timidly at first.

Sesshomaru's eyebrows rose slightly. He assumed Tenseiga healed all imperfections, but when the girl stayed silent after revival he figured otherwise. Now she spoke?

He squared his jaw. "What, child?"

"Rin," she insisted with sudden vigor, "wants to thank you, Lord Sesshomaru."

The dog-demon froze in his tracks. Such a fascinating development. Was it fleeting? "For what do you extend gratitude?" he prodded.

"For the new clothes!" She triumphantly displayed the yukata. "They're pretty."

More words. Progress, he decided. "Accepted," Sesshomaru droned. "Now clean up."

"Yes, m'lord!"

No, it was no act of charity by any means, the daiyokai attempted to reason. He just didn't care to be surrounded by waifs and strays. No one would see the day Sesshomaru didn't mind what was his.

Upon return, Rin noticed how staunchly the nobleman stood. He hadn't moved an inch since she'd left. In childish eyes, he'd been waiting just for her. Really, he was like no one else.