Author Notes: This was something I wrote up about three months ago, after having read only the first few chapters of the manga and seen the four Inuyasha movies.

I had a very vague idea of how Rin actually met Sesshoumaru based on some fanfics I read, conversations, etc. so this fic is definitely AU and I daresay the characters are a little OOC as well. Just consider it my take on how a little human child came to be found tagging along after a great youkai lord, OK? :D

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha the manga, characters or the movies.

-- Start --

The demon's lip curled in derision.

"Really? Was it you who took care of me these three days, and all by yourself?" His voice was soft, sibilant… almost daring her to disagree. Because it was impossible for this little waif to have been the one who looked after him - she was all eyes and skin and bones. She wouldn't even have had the strength to lift up his arm much less dragged all the way from the forest to this miserable little wooden hut.

Perhaps, it had been her family. Or perhaps she'd misunderstood his question.

The little girl gave a swift nod of her head. Definitely no hesitation there. What – she was still determined to make him believe she was his… his saviour?! He inhaled sharply. What cheek! A mere human, only a child, and already lying to him!

"Prove it" His voice, although soft, was almost a feral snarl.

"Huh?" she frowned a little.

For some reason, Sesshoumaru decided to indulge her. "I remember - when I awoke yesterday, the person who saved me was wiping my brow, I awoke quite suddenly and caught her hand, fearing it was an attack. I must have… gripped… her hand harder than I realised, for she cried out in pain. If you think you can show me proof, then hold out your hand now…"

Triumphantly, he stared down at her as those wide dark eyes filled with sudden tears. Ah, she'd just realised her folly, thought Sess. Now, perhaps he could stop wasting his time with this useless human, and be on her way. He supposed he could spare her life - after all, she had brought him some food, pitiful and scant as it was…

A soft sob echoed from the forlorn creature dressed in rags as she dropped her chin to her chest, still kneeling on the cold hard packed floor of the hut, then his eyes caught the sight of a small, trembling hand slowly held out towards him, palm down. She seemed heedless of the fact that Sesshoumaru's sword was already in his hand and how easily it could have severed her hand in a second if the youkai lord so wished…

Two seconds later, the dull clang of that same sword hitting the ground made the little girl look up with a gasp. Her eyes took in the sword lying in front of her, then raced up to meet his eyes.

The dark golden eyes had widened. They held genuine, stunned surprise, horrified realisation and complete and utter guilt. He was staring at her as if faced with his worst nightmare. Then, as she opened her lips to say something, anything, his gaze dropped to her still outstretched hand again. And she heard a sound she had never heard him utter and hoped would never hear. It was an agonised groan, almost a hushed howl of pain as the great demon lord sank to his knees in front of a mere human child.

It was a sight that would have shocked demons all over the world, were they ever to witness it and it would have reduced them to tears of mirth at the sight of the proud Lord Sesshoumaru, hater of humans, actually on his knees in front of one such creature.

But the little girl didn't think of any of this. When she saw his face as he realised she was indeed his rescuer, her heart only wished to find words and actions to reassure him; when she heard him groan as if in pain, her brain tried hard to figure out the best way to shush that agonised sound; and when she saw him fall to his knees in front of her, her only thought was that his grevious wounds must have caused him untold pain to have forced him to display such hated weakness in front of her.

Then slowly, a hand with a sharp claw at the end of each long finger stretched out to claim hers. It held her hand at the wrist with surprising gentleness, despite its own trembling. The pad of the thumb swept over the barely healed wounds, lingering shakily over the one it had caused a mere two days ago… his thumb must have gripped so hard for its talon to have sunk in so deep…

Sesshoumaru had never really been aware of his heart before, he had never even heard his heartbeat in all his lonely years of travel but that organ now felt a pang of remorse and pain it had never felt before. It brought him to his knees in front of this little girl and it made him look at her.

And as she looked up from their hands to his face, he knew even then… his life would intertwine with hers… somehow… and he – demon youkai lord of the west – would never be free of her again.

No.

A sudden white hot surge of rage raced through him. What – had he gone crazy? So it looked like a mere human child had saved him, so what? He was a demon lord, it was her duty to do so. Was he going to walk the same doomed path of his father and hanyou brother, who had both lost their hearts to mere and unworthy humans?

No, a thousand times no! Struggling to his feet, Lord Sesshoumaru gathered his pride and his cold dignity like a cloak around him, despite the fact his robes were in shreds. He concentrated on the anger and shame he'd felt all those years ago, on that moonless night, when he learned that his father was knowingly going to his own death all because of a human princess who was birthing his child

"So, it appears that you are indeed my rescuer… Well then, are you hoping for some kind of reward from me?" he hissed at the little girl before him now, who was cringing slightly from this coldly angry stranger who had suddenly taken the place of the injured youkai who had been gently caressing her wounded hand a mere second ago, whose dark gold gaze had shown her just for a moment what he could truly be like.

Lord Sesshoumaru snatched his hand away from the small one he had been oh so foolish to touch seconds ago. He turned away suddenly, hating the look of sudden hurt that showed in that thin face before him. The movement was too sudden for him – the room spun around dizzily and he felt faint. He put out a hand… and touched nothing. There was nothing for him to hang onto to keep his balance… his vision was black… and the one insane thought that seared in his mind as he pitched sideways was that the little girl was there to see him humiliated by his weakness. Again.

Instinctively, his hand reached out blindly to break his fall, palm smacking against the cold hard packed earth… but something broke his fall. He'd hit one hip with bone jarring pain but his head didn't hit the ground because it was cushioned by something somewhat softer.

And there was a small gasp of pain as he heard the dull thud of something hitting the floor. When Sesshoumaru finally regained his mind and senses enough to open his eyes, he found his head resting on the little girl's chest, her small thin arms around his head, holding it close to her. Then, as he raised his head groggily and her arms fell away, he realised it was she who had cushioned his fall, and she who had hit her head. Not him.

Had he fallen forward then? Sesshoumaru frowned. No, he'd fallen sideways. There was no way he could have accidentally fallen on this human child who had unwittingly cushioned his fall with her own body. Unless…

No.

It was impossible.

He refused to believe it.

He refused to believe that a thin, starving, ragged speck of humanity whom he'd just insulted and frightened had recklessly, stupidly thrown herself directly into the path of his falling body just to break his fall and had injured herself in the process.

Pulling himself upright, Lord Sesshoumaru ran gentle fingers through the soft ebony hair. They came away sticky with her blood and he recognised the scent – it was the same one he'd smelled when he had gripped her hand with his claws.

Quickly, he pressed two fingers to her throat, feeling for a pulse. It was faint. Then he laid his head on her chest. She was alive but unconscious.

His heart felt a second pang, with a fierce ache that almost made him wince and he had to pause a moment until it faded. Then slowly, against his will, his arm reached out to lift the limp figure onto his lap. A trembling finger ran down the small, thin cheek with equal gentleness.

And a shaken voice whispered "Foolish child… I do not even know your name..."

-- End --