A/N: I hated the ending of InuYasha I had to continue the story until Rin and Sess end up together. This does NOT fit in with my ongoing arc, much of which was written before the ending of the manga, and assumed Rin would always stay with Sess.

Disclaimer: I don't own InuYasha, I don't own either Sesshomaru or Rin. I'm broke, so no lawsuits, 'k? Okay. Now that that's settled…

Bound for Tomorrow,

The girlish giggle and padding of tiny feet break him from his musings and remind him of ah-un's reins in his hand. After so long of having his small green retainer lead the two- headed dragon, both war steed and pet, the sensation is foreign to his hand.

Without thinking, and without being told to, he comes to his knees to accept the gift he knows the girl-child - no now young woman, has brought for him. They have been doing this for 9 years now, and as usual the gift is a flower. This blossom in particular is beautiful and he takes it from her hand to give it a moments consideration before handing it back to her and inclining his head slightly to allow her to complete one of their most sacred and, (for reasons of sparing his pride), secret rituals.

Delicate fingers that miraculously refuse to be callused by her time in the herb garden reach up and tuck the blossom behind his ear. He can clearly remember that she used to giggle when she did this, finding amusement in adorning the stoic and deadly demon lord with something as delicate as a flower in bloom.

Now he notices she meets his gaze and before she breaks contact he hears her breathe "seven". He makes a mental note to ask her what she means by that, we he notices her look down, her already fathomless onyx eye hidden beneath a newly blunted fringe of bangs, heading up only recently tamed, equally dark hair that now falls to the bottom of her rear end. Her hair is midnight black and so shining with health as to appear almost reddish under the tones of the descending sun, and blue under the moonlight.

Her cheeks dust pink against skin that must hold the same magic as her fingers because as they do not callous despite her work, her skin does not tan despite her many hours spent out of doors. He realizes that her alabaster complexion is not so far removed from his own unearthly hue.

For once in only a handful of times he can recall since the defeat of the kurohanyo, he is the first to break the not-at-all uncomfortable silence between them.

"Rin there is something I must tell you…" His tone is, even for him, heavy with the burden of being the barer of bad news. He knows that what he has to ay will most likely make her cry, but, before he can continue he hears her voice, but her tone is new, one he has not heard before, also heavy with a burden, although a hint of fear makes it shake like glass about to shatter,

"I have something to tell you too, but… you first."

He isn't sure how he managed it but it seems that he has somehow put her ill at ease, and he hasn't even said anything yet!

"Rin, there was an accident, and, Jaken did not survive."

He expected her to cry loudly, protest, even to question and perhaps, blame him for failing to protect the closest thing the girl had had to a childhood friend. He had been prepared for her ire, and to defend himself from a verbal assault.

He was not prepared for the completely different kind of assault she bestowed upon him.

It wasn't as if she'd never wrapped her arms around him before, it wasn't as if she'd never touched him, and he certainly had long ago gotten used to her head resting on his shoulder, or even in his lap, hell, holding her and embracing her had become somewhat common things during their frequent visits and after six years he is comfortable with her in a way he didn't think was possible… perhaps that is part of what has lead to his decision this day… though he has secretly known it was his fate for years.

He had given into his need to touch her and be touched by her after that first comforting touch he'd offered her after she'd died a second time and his mother had deigned to dirty her hands with her disappointment of a son, who she now pitied more than loved.

The girl was quiet, and only a few tears fell as she had placed a gentle hand on his cheek, cupping his jaw. She had never gone so far as to touch him in so… intimate a way. Come to think of it, had anyone, even the wind witch who sought to seduce him only for his power, ever touched him so intimately without some sort of ulterior motive, or hope of some payment? No… only Rin loved him, for him, and no other reason…

"Rin is so sorry Sesshomaru-sama… you are alone now…like Rin…" The last two words were full of sadness, and uncertainty.

He belatedly realizes that he has leaned into her touch, nuzzling against her, and she is lightly caressing the pad of her thumb along the stripes on his cheeks.

He knows of what she speaks, the hanyou had sought him out only a moon ago. The old miko has died, and in the last year of her life, had no longer the means to maintain ownership of either her hut or the lands she grew her herbs on. She has not paid the tribute to the human lord of these lands and his generosity has ended with allowing the miko to die in the hut she spent her life in. Rin is, once again, alone, and now facing homelessness.

He would never allow that to happen, but Rin does not yet know that he is here to collect her, and bring her back into his company, and if she accepts it, into his heart. He wants to marry her, make her his mate, and damn the consequences… He loves her.

He continues to feel her touch and the warmth of her hand contrasts against the cold of the centuries he has spent without any warm touches, the time when he has only been feared and hated, by human and youkai alike. He is awed again that this creature deigns to love him, when no one else has. The loneliness she has recently felt so keenly has only dully and recently crept over him, but in the long moment this…feeling… he is feeling is building, he is grateful to have her hand as his anchor to the present, where he is not, in fact, alone… He has her… and soon… she will know that she has him as well.

He mimics her actions of a scant 10 years earlier, ten years that, for her, has been only a few years more than half her lifetime, and he places his hand over hers to hold it in place. Her eyes widen, and it is there now this feeling… His pride will never allow anything more than the closing of his eyes, and a soft sigh of contentment. Only the safety of Rin and the fact that she loves him so unconditionally and without any judgments on his worth allows him to truly relax and show a hint of the man behind his emotionless mask. She alone has proven worthy of his private self. He allows himself the indulgence of simply feeling her touch, if only for a moment.

The kindness he sees, the love and esteem she holds him in, the secret longing she has for his touch, (the one she believes she has kept secret since she was thirteen), all that and more greets him as he forces himself to once again open his eyes, the sunlight grating him, even as her clear black pools soothe him.

Jaken's death has affected him more than he thought.

In that moment, he has an awakening, a sort of clarity and calm he has never known before in all his many years, he is looking forward to a life with her, to passions and love and things he never thought he would have. He wants to give her the world… he wants to give her hanyou pups and he wants to hold her in his embrace and he wants to… tell her he loves her. He can't do these things just yet, but he wants to, and that itself is progress. Instead he tells her,

"No Rin, you are not alone, I am not alone… we shall have each other from this day forward, for as long as the fates allow."

He sees the look in her eyes, he sees her dare to hope that she has not misunderstood what he has said, and the intentions behind it. And she hasn't.