Author's Note: I know I put it under the romance category, but this story wasn't really intended as one. Don't get me wrong, I personally think RinxKohaku is a very sweet pairing. But I also think that the two are too young for a relationship. It could happen when they get a little older (I mean Rin's what, eight? And they already stated Kohaku was eleven), but not now. However, if you choose to view it that way, feel free.

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha. If I did, I would force the animators to make more episodes of the show and finish up the series.


Freckles

When I started traveling with Lord Sesshomaru, it wasn't long before it became clear to me that taking care of Rin when the youkai was away had somehow become my responsibility. In fact, I was convinced that most of the reason the man allowed me follow him in the first place was because he figured I would make a better babysitter than Jaken.

It wasn't like I particularly minded. Anything was better than the hell I went through under Naraku's thumb. Looking after the lord's ward was a small price to pay for my freedom, if you could call it a price. Even if it hadn't been my job (and if I hadn't been fully aware that Lord Sesshomaru would kill me if she got hurt) I would've been glad to spend time with Rin.

I had liked the girl the second I met her (though it hadn't been under the best circumstances), and other than the occasional low level youkai that was too stupid or too cocky (frequently a mixture of both) to cringe away from Lord Sesshomaru's powerful demonic aura, she wasn't hard to protect. Basically all I had to do was make sure she didn't wander off, and accompany her when she went to get something to eat (which I probably would have done anyway because I also needed food to keep me going).

But, in addition to watching her, I also had to deal with her questions. Rin always seemed to have an endless suppy. She usually asked Jaken first (who had been all too happy to relinquish his role as Rin's caretaker), and the imp would then redirect her to me.

It wasn't difficult to use my knowledge as a demon slayer to answer simple questions with simple explanations ("What is that flower called?" "Is this mushroom safe to eat?"), but often she would come up with questions that I doubted even the greatest of scholars could answer, let alone an eleven year old boy ("Kohaku, what are clouds made of?" "Kohaku, if the cat in Lord Inuyasha's group is a neko youkai, why can she fly? Cats can't fly, can they?"1)

In the face of those particular questions, I did my very best to come up with a suitable response that would satiate the girl's seemingly unquenchable curiosity (short of actually making something up).

If I didn't know the answers I would tell her so. I didn't know everything and the last thing I wanted to do was lie to her and make her believe that I did. Usually when this happened Rin would do one of two things, drop the subject or ask Lord Sesshomaru (who in her eyes was apparently The Keeper of All Knowledge) later. If she chose the latter more often than not I would find that I was also eager to hear his reply (if he gave Rin one) because typically by then I was wondering myself.

After a while I became used to her constant, often random inquiries. But their were still plenty of times where Rin came up with questions that were so completely out of the blue they caught even me of guard.

The strangest one to date happened during a training session with my sickle. Rin always loved to watch me practice. She would even cheer me on and clap, like I was putting on a performance just for her (although whatever entertainment value she gained in watching me swing a chain around was beyond my understanding).

I had finished up for the day. I had already changed out of my battle costume and was in the process of washing the sweat off my face in a nearby stream when she spoke up.

"Kohaku…" I immediately recognized the inquisitive tone and prepared myself for her assault. What would it be this time? 'Where did the water running downstream go?' 'What caused the colors in a rainbow?' Or even something a simple as 'Why does Master Jaken snore?'

"…what are those dots sprinkled across your nose?"

It took me a second to figure out that she was talking about my freckles. As stupid as it sounds, I had almost forgotten I had them. When I was with Naraku, unless he sent me on a mission, I hadn't had the opportunity to go outdoors much, therefore they had faded with time. But now that I was with Lord Sesshomaru, I was outside almost constantly, and the facial features had returned with full force.

"They're called freckles, Rin." I replied, pleased I could answer her for once "Some people get them when they spend a lot of time in the sun."

Rin smiled brightly, and when she opened her mouth again I fully expected her to ask how this occurred, or why she didn't have freckles herself, only to be surprised once again.

"How many do you have?"

"I don't know." I admitted, mystified on why she would want to know this in the first place.

"Can Rin count them?" she queried, eyes shining hopefully.

"Why?" I asked incredulously.

"So I can find out how many there are."

Oddly, I found that I couldn't argue with that simple logic. So I sat down before her, crossed my legs and allowed her little finger to touch each and every dot as she counted it off.

2"Thirteen!" Rin reported cheerfully. "You have thirteen freckles!"

I smiled softly at her enthusiasm (even if it was over something as odd as specks on the bridge of my nose). "Why do you care about the number freckles I have?" It felt nice to get my own questions in for once.

"Because Rin likes them, and I want to remember them always. They are a part of Kohaku and Rin loves Kohaku."

At these innocent, tender words I felt a warm feeling slowly spread from my heart and across my chest, similar but not completely the same as what I felt when I thought about my sister, Sango. It was the first time someone said they loved me in a long time. After all I have done, whether it was under my own will or not, it was hard to believe that anyone could. But to this girl, my past sins didn't matter. She only saw me for what I was now, not for what I've done before I truly knew her. Perhaps one day I'll tell her of my crimes and let her judge if I was worth the affection she gave me so unconditionally, but until then I'd rather just indulge in the moment.

Without a seconds hesitation I pulled the girl into a tight hug. "Thank you, Rin. Kohaku loves you too."

Rin smiled and returned the embrace, until something caused her to gently pull away.

"Lord Sesshomaru is back!" she declared, her whole face lighting up with the announcement.

I allowed the girl to take my hand and lead me to the inuyoukai; not bothering to wonder how she could have possibly of known that he was nearby.

With some surprise I noted tears pricking out of the corners of my eyes, and I quickly used my free hand to wipe them away. But it was too late. Rin had already noticed.

"Kohaku?" she asked with concern, momentarily breaking the eager trot towards her lord. "Are you crying?"

I smiled and gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. "Yes," I admitted. "But only because I'm happy."

She nodded in acceptance and continued to pull me along, wisely choosing not to press the matter further.

I had been happy to accept my role in Lord Sesshomaru's group as Rin's caretaker. But sometimes I can't help but think that she is the one that is taking care of me.


1. This is actually something I've wondered myself. How can Kirara fly?
2. Kohaku really does have thirteen freckles, give or take a few. I've counted them myself. Yes, I've actually taken time out of my day to count a fictional character's fictional freckles. What can I say? I love those freckles.

It occurs to me that maybe I went just a little over the top with the third person, but it just seemed so adorable I couldn't resist. I hope you enjoyed the story! If you did please review! If you thought that this was a piece of crap, I'd rather you keep your opinions to yourself. Unless of course you're giving me an opinion on how to make the story better. If that's the case then welcome! Constructive criticism is always appreciated.