AN: Hi! I'm new to and this is my first fanfic I've ever written. I hope you like it (:

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A strange noise awoke her. Her dream up until that point had been calm and peaceful. Sesshoumaru-sama was leading her through a field of flowers, smiling, laughing. Even though his laugh was a sound she had never heard, Rin had a very vivid imagination and was able to materalize a charming, bell-like sound that made her squirm in fantasy-induced delight. His smile outside of her dreams was more of a smirk than anything. Rin and Jaken saw it only on very rare occasions and it didn't neccessarily mean something good. However, in her mind, it was less forced, a more natural pull of his thin lips that made his flawless face glow.

The noise startled her out of her dream, causing her to wake up with a jolt. She was tucked against Ah-Un's furry chest, and her sudden movement made the two-headed beast shift in it's sleep. Ah-Un gave a tired groan and fell back into it's slumber, his head landing with a soft thud on the grass.

Rin pulled her knees to her chest and shivered now that Ah-Un's body heat had moved. Her orange and yellow kimono was in dire need of replacement, what with a chilly autumn around the corner. She rubbed her eyes with her palms, yawning quietly. The fire in front of her had dwindled to smoldering coals, releasing light gray smoke into the navy blue sky. She watched it silently, appreciating the simple beauties around her. The forest smelled of moss and damp wood and the grass felt delightfully prickly between her toes. Running a hand through her long ebony hair, Rin searched for Jaken. Like usual, he wasn't very far - on the opposite side of the circle he was resting against a tree. The tiny toad-like youkai had his head bent against his chest, one hand laying limply in his lap while the other was clasped tightly around the Staff of Two Heads.

The noise came again. It was rough and deep, rumbling over to her right. Rin turned with perked curiousity toward the sound.

Sesshoumaru, her guardian of nearly three years, was braced upright against a thick tree. Rin had never seen him sleeping before and always imagined he looked much more at peace when his mind was at rest. She could not have been more wrong, at least at the present time. Sesshoumaru's face was twisted in a snarl, his eyes squeezed tightly shut. His right arm - his only arm - was pressed against his lifted leg, his slender fingers curled into a fist. His dagger-like nails dug into his skin. A tiny pool of blood had formed around his hand and dripped on his shockingly white kimono. His pale white skin glowed omniously under the high moon, casting sharp black shadows across his elfin face. Delicate, pointed ears disappeared into his cascading silver hair, which spilled all around his frame, highlighting him in a dark fashion. The sound, the rough rumbling that had awoken Rin from her pleasant dream, vibrated from Sesshoumaru's chest. Quietly at first, but slowly increasing volume. Sesshoumaru's lip lifted on one side, revealing knife-like fangs.

Rin, who had seen more demons and monsters than any normal ten-year-old child, should have been frightened by her protector's growling. It was threatening, mean, and evil, promising pain. But Rin, however, could never feel afraid around her devoted protector. After Sesshoumaru's literally brought her back from the dead with his inherited sword, Tenseiga, she had felt a deep connection to him, even more deep than the one she had shared with her father before he died. For three years Sesshoumaru's, who didn't hide his disapproval of humans, had taken little human Rin under his wing and had gone out of his way many times to save her and keep her safe. Rin had seen her Lord much more frightening than this. She'd seen him kill with no shed of mercy in his eyes. At the time, it had chilled her, but now she was numb to his black moods. Sesshoumaru's was calm, cool, and collected at all times, only showing emotion when he was extremely angry. Despite his cold behavior and casual animosity toward her and Jaken, Rin had never found herself angry or displeased with Sesshoumaru-sama. He was all she had. She had accepted that she loved him weeks after deciding to follow him. Children don't over complicate things like adults do. It was simple. Rin would do anything for her Lord, and even though it was thin at times, she was sure he'd do the same for her.

Although it did not scare her, it did worry her to see her Lord so frustrated when sleep was supposed to be peaceful. Rin twirled her thumbs nervously in her lap, suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to comfort him somehow. When he was injured she often tended to his wounds to the best of her abilities, but that was the only time she ever touched him intentionally. Yet she couldn't shake the thought that perhaps her childish touch would help her distraught Lord in his nightmares?

She shook her head and rolled her eyes at herself. Of course it wouldn't help. Sesshourmaru would probably slap her away, lecture her on not messing with a sleeping youkai. It was a harsh conversation she'd much rather avoid. Intent on going right back to her dream, Rin crossed her arms and started to snuggle back into Ah-Un's warm chest. A few moments of silence ticked by and Rin thought maybe she wouldn't be able to fall back to sleep. She rolled on her back with an exasperated sigh. A billion twinkling stars blinked down at her through the swaying treetops. She smiled softly, perfectly happy with where she was now. She had Sesshoumaru-sama, Ah-Uh, and even Jaken, who still, over the years, treated her like a pet rather than a fellow companion. She never went to bed hungry, Ah-Un was there for her warmth, and she didn't lead the dreadfully boring life of a village peasant. With these warm, comforting thoughts, sleep began to pull at her core once again. Her eyelids droooped. Concious began to fade away.

A deep snarl ripped her straight back to conciousness. Ah-Un and Jaken both opened their eyes but with no awareness behind them and drifted instantly back to sleep. Rin moved to her knees, watching her Lord with concerned brown eyes.

What do I do? she thought hastily, hating the thought of leaving him in such an obviously unpleasant nightmare. Before she could stop herself, she crawled as silently as she could manage to her Lord's side and peered down at his face. The blue crescent moon sat in the center of his marble forehead, a pair of red lines on both cheeks. The marks had seemed odd to her at first, but now she couldn't imagine his skin without them. His face was still contorted in frustration. His upper lip quivered, baring his flesh-tearing teeth. Rin looked on at his trembling fist and the blood spilling in crimson rivers down his ghost-white arm. Rin covered her mouth before she could whimper in a sympathy pain for her Lord.

In his dream, Sesshoumaru was back nearly two years ago, facing Naraku. A battle was on the edge of breaking out, and Sesshoumaru was preparing himself for a fight he knew he could win. There would've been nothing different about this confrontation with Naraku except for one thing.

Naraku had kidnapped Rin.

Sesshoumaru never understood himself why he allowed the human child to follow him instead of dropping her off at a village. Instead, her bought her a new kimono, made sure she was taken care of when he was gone, checked to see that she went to bed on a full stomach and other various things he did for no reason whatsoever. Jaken had suggested at one point that he figured Rin was emergency food, and the thought had sent Sesshoumaru into such fury he stomped on the green youkai much more than neccesarry.

After a particularly nasty fight with his younger half-brother, Inuyasha, Sesshoumaru wandered off in a forest to rest - without the annoying presence of Jaken. He had smelled the girl the first time she approached and had growled at her in anger, expecting typical human behavior - for her to flee. However, she stood her ground, and insisted on providing for him even though she did not need to.

Just a human - a nasty, worthless human, just like Inuyasha, and yet when he came across her mangled body in the forest, lifeless and bloody, he hurt. Not the physical pain, which he could easily block out, but something he had never experienced before. Internal pain. He hadn't even known there was such a thing. But the pain that gripped his icy heart was all to real and shocked him nearly into anger. Instead, he looked at his inherited sword, Tensaiga. Oh, how he despised his father for giving such a useless piece of metal. And yet, at the time, he couldn't have been more grateful. He brought her back, held her in his arm, and watched with awe as she began to breathe again. She looked in his eyes, innocent but still all-knowing, in the only way a child can, and he knew there was no turning back.

Sesshoumaru wasn't a youkai to deny. He merely accepted. And he accepted whole-heartedly that Rin was a part of his life from therein.

The first few weeks were the worst. She screamed at night, whimpered in her sleep with such agony that it took all of his self restraint not to cradle her in his one arm, to kiss her forehead and smooth back her hair, things he had only heard of or seen briefly. It shocked him how quickly his fatherly instincts had kicked in and taken over everything he did from the minute he saved her. And once again, he wasn't going to deny those feelings either, even though it had been drilled into his brain since he was a child that feelings get in the way.

He didn't care, not anymore.

It was awkward, at first, having a human girl tag along behind him. It was strange, the feeling of wanting to be with her at all times, to protect her from even the smallest bug. Even though he didn't sit and have heart-to-hearts with the girl, he still felt like he knew her more than anyone ever had, and vise versa. To admit that a child, a human child nonetheless, had warmed the dark black hole that was his heart was something he didn't think he could ever admit verbally.

Did he love her? It was such a strange question, since love was a word he neither used or understood. It kept him up at night, wondering what love was and if that's what all of this nonsense was. Did he love her, like a father loves a daughter? Was love defined with the urge to want to be there with her constantly, to protect her, to do everything in your power to make her happy? He didn't know, because he had no one to ask.

In the nightmare, Naraku was suddenly, without explaining, pulling out of the fight. As he began to float off on a dark cloud, anger pulsed through Sesshoumaru. It was vivid, real, the same as when it had been actually happening. Just as he started to morph into his demon form, letting the anger and youkai within him to take control, Naraku said, "Shouldn't you be rescueing that human girl?"

And just like that, his anger flooded away, replaced with fierce determination to find Rin. In real life, he had found her, of course, just in time to stop that infuriating dead boy, Kohaku, from stabbing a knife through her chest. Sesshoumaru had felt overwhelming relief when he saw Rin, though unconcious, seemingly unscathed. He had wanted to embrace her, to kiss her forehead and hold her close, but he put on his blank facade. In the nightmare he searched and searched, her scent fading ...

Rin, lost in indecision, thought back to one of the few times Sesshoumaru had actually talked to her without being provoked to do so. It had been a few months previous, when Naraku was still a threat. Rin chatted excitedly about the recent battle Sesshoumaru had won (not technically, since Naraku hadn't died, but neither had Sesshoumaru) with pride. Sesshoumaru walked on without comment, his face as blank as ever.

"I wonder how Sesshoumaru-sama knows what to do, you know, Jaken?" Rin babbled, looking up into the sky. Since Sesshoumaru rarely answered or indulged in any kind of conversation, it was easy and even preferable to talk about her Lord as if he wasn't there. "He always has the perfect move to crush Naraku where he stands!" She raised her tiny fist and brought it down on her open palm, making appropriate squishing noises and giggling histarically.

Sesshoumaru stopped then, so sudden and so quietly that Rin walked right into the back of his legs. His body was more like steel than flesh and she bounced flat on her bottom with a tiny "oof".

Adrenaline pulsed through her with fear that she had upset her Lord somehow - something she had never and hoped to never do. Jaken tensed at her side, and even Ah-Un, who always seemed to have some sort of understanding, paused in expectancy, all four pairs of eyes trained on Sesshoumaru.

Sesshoumaru turned slowly, his empty sleeve where his left arm should have been flowing limply in the breeze. He gazed down at her with his golden amber eyes, not with fury like Rin had feared, but with the look a master would give a student.

Rin, still frozen on the ground, stared up at her Lord in wonder as he kneeled to her level. Sesshoumaru met her eyes, never wavering as he spoke. "I always trust my instincts, Rin," he said in his soft, strong baritone voice. "I never question what they tell me to do. Neither should you." He stood up, and up and up, to his full height of six-foot-eight. After a moments pause, the air still thick with tension, Sesshoumaru extended his slender hand to her.

She had no idea how to react to his unexpected kindness. He never helped her; he was always insisting on doing things by herself. He made it a point that she needed to be independent, especially if he went away for weeks at a time, which happened every once in a while. When she injured herself beyond her own medical knowledge, he would help bandage or stitch her up - but it was always quick and expressionless. Rin tripped all the time when she wasn't paying attention to her feet and the ground, and the most he had done was mutter a "Watch where you're going." This hand, this simple gesture of help right before her eyes stunned Rin into a frozen state, staring wide-eyed at her Lord's hand, as if expecting him to hit her.

After a few tense moments, Sesshoumaruo, his expression unchanging, reached for her hand. Long, skinny fingers wrapped around her wrists, and she noticed with awe that he was careful with his sharp finger-nails against the soft flesh. He pulled her to her feet, slowly so as not to frighten her more than he already had. He set her on her feet, released her hand, and resumed walking as if he had never stopped.

It was moments like that that made living with Sesshoumaru's unbearable angry decor totally and completely worth it.

Rin listened for her instinct, which was slowly moving her hand toward Sesshoumaru's face. She just wanted to comfort him - to reassure him that his nightmare was just that; a nightmare.

Her heart sped as her tiny, pale hand inched it's way toward her Lord's face. Her heartbeat rushed madly in her ears. Holding her breath, Rin allowed the back of her fingers to brush agains the marble skin of Sesshoumaru's face.

It all happened very quickly after that.

Sesshoumaru's eyes shot open the exact milisecond her skin touched his, only they were bright red instead of their natural amber color. Still fuzzed by sleep and shocked out of his battling nightmare, Sesshoumaru released his hand from it's tight grip on his knee and sank his dagger-like nails into Rin's arm.

She screamed in pain, trying to rip her arm out of the grip of her Lord, tears pouring out of her eyes. The scream, filled with agony, sent Sesshoumaru reeling away from her, his eyes flashing immediately back to their natural golden color. Blood spilled out of the five holes in Rin's tiny arm, collecting in a large puddle on the grass.

Rin gripped her arm in pain, her scream never ending as she rocked on her knees.

Sesshoumaru stared at her in shock, his eyes shifting wildly from his bloody nails to Rin's gushing arm. The smell swirled up his nose, making him stagger. The demon within roared, yearning to rip her apart and taste the sweet, pure blood that was flowing not two yards away. Hundreds of years of control pushed it away, snarling but obedient.

Jaken and Ah-Un stared on with wide arms, unsure of how to react. Taught to furiously attack intruders, but what if your very master was the intruder?

Rin bawled, looking up at her Lord - for the first time - fearfully. He stared back, bewildered and disoriented from the pain he had just inflicted on his ward who - though he would never admit it - he actually cared for.

Sesshoumaru stared at the girl, trying to control his expression, but nothing, not hundreds of years of living, could prepare him for the guilt that flooded his body like poison.

He had just attacked the one thing that made him whole, the only thing that warmed the ice shielding his heart. Seeing her wither in pain was even more unbearable when it was pained caused by he own hand.

In one moment, a tiny but relevant moment, filled with the sounds of Rin sobbing and the smell of her blood swirling up his his nose, Sesshoumaru's cold exterior broke away. All of the things he had ever wanted to do - hold her, rock her, everything - he knew he had to do to fix what he had done.

Jaken stood flabbergasted by the edge of the fire. "Mi Lord, Mi, Mi, ...." he drifted off, not able to wrap his head around what was happening. Sesshoumaru, Rin's fierce protector, had just attacked her for what appeared to be no reason.

"Leave us," Sesshoumaru whispered softly, but still thick with authority. His hand trembled. He clawed into the ground.

"Mi...Mi...Mi Lord, I -"

"LEAVE US!" Sesshoumaru roared, tearing a chunk of earth out of the ground in his anger.

Jaken, who feared his Lord's fury more than anything else, grabbed Ah-Un by the reigns and yanked him deeper into the forest.

Rin's screams had dwindled to a soft whimper. Blood poured out of her continuously, pooling on the grass.

Sesshoumaru shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. He needed to stop the bleeding. Before anything else, he needed to stop the bleeding. Inhaling deeply, Sesshoumaru pushed himself to his feet. He tried to keep his face blank, but couldn't help his eyebrows pulling down in concern as he watched Rin shiver and rock in pain.

"Rin, I - " he hesitated, which bewildered Rin. He had never, in all of the years she had known him, hesitated.

Sesshoumaru gave up on words. Instead, he walked carefully to her side. Rin still looked shocked from what he had done, but she still trusted him more than anyone. He knelt and stared in her eyes for a long moment. Fearlessly they stared at each other, determining nothing, but knowing that after tonight, one way or the other, their relationship would never be the same.

He moved his arm slowly to show his intent. She made no move to object, and he slid his arm around her waist. Rin gasped - not because she was scared, but rather because Sesshoumaru had never done anything of this sort before. He avoided touching her at all costs.

Sesshoumaru stood up, holding her securely to his chest. She wrapped her legs around his torso so all of her weight wouldn't be on his one arm and leaned her head on her Lord's shoulder. He paused, looking at her. How could she suddenly put her life in his hands again, after he had hurt her so badly? The thought tore him apart inside, but he put aside his pain and focused on hers. He began to run.

The stream was nearly a mile from their campsite, a trek he mastered in a few minutes. When he came to an abrupt stop, he returned his watchful eyes to Rin, who was trying to regain her focus. The way her eyes moved aimlessly made him smile - genuinely - and she was suddenly focused when she saw it. His very first pleasant smile, the smile she had been dreaming about for years.

He set her down. The stream was a few feet across. It wound it's way throughout the forest, twisting out of sight. The water tinkled as it rushed across the rocks.

Sesshoumaru lifted his empty sleeve to his mouth. Rin watched silently as he ripped a long, thick strip off his kimono sleeve with his teeth. He kneeled and dipped one end into the stream, letting the pure, cold water soak it through. He moved back to her side.

Rin stared at the ground, cradling her damaged arm with the other. She whimpered, remembering his eyes when he awoke.

"Rin."

His voice held all the soft command she needed to lift her head and look at him. He was staring at her with thick concern, a look she never expected to see on his calm, expressionless face.

"This might sting," he said softly, gently taking her arm away from her chest. She whimpered but didn't protest. Sesshoumaru was especially careful with his nails, making sure they didn't so much as knick her skin. He looked down at the gaping holes with angry eyes. He had to look away and collect himself.

"Sesshoumaru-sama?" Rin reached with her other hand and placed it on her Lord's arm. He froze, not looking at her, not wanting to admit to himself how easily her childish eyes could break him.

"It's ok," she whispered, sniffling. "I know it was an accident." She squirmed a little when he turned to face her. "I'm sorry I touched your face. I really shouldn't have done that, I mean, you were having a nightmare and I thought it would help if I calmed you down but I didn't know how but I remember what you said about my instincts a couple months ago and I just thought it would be a good idea but it wasn't and I'm so sorry Sesshoumaru-sama I -"

"Rin." His soft interjection cut her completely off. She snapped her mouth shut. "It's my fault." His eyes silenced any protest she could've come up with. He lifted the wet strip of cloth and ran it over her wounds. She winced, hissing quietly. A comfortable silence settled then as he wiped the blood off her arm and wrapped the cloth tightly around her limb easily with just his right hand. When he finished he hesitated - twice, now, and Rin was still amazed - his hand halfway between her and him. He sighed, setting his jaw tightly. He raised his arm as if to take it back. Rin looked away, not expecting him to do anything different, and was surprised to the point of gawking at her Lord as he brushed ebony hair out of her face.

He had been wanting to show his affection for her for years, and that simple gesture sent a rushing feeling through him that he wished he could always experience. Quickly, before he could change his mind, Sesshoumaru shifted so he was cross-legged against a tree. "Come here," he said, patting his lap.

Rin stared at him in shock. "You're ... you're sure?"

His lips curled just the way she had always pictured. His smile was mesmerizing. "Yes."

Numb and more than a little dizzy, Rin climbed into her Lord's lap. She nuzzled against his chest, which was rock solid, yet comfortabe. He wrapped his arm around her and stroked her hair. Rin didn't know she was crying until she sniffled and felt the tears drip from her cheeks.

"Are you in pain?" Sesshoumaru asked hastily, leaning away and inspecting her arm.

"No," Rin said, giggling girlishly. Her eyes were bright and happy as they met his. "I'm just ... very happy, Mi Lord."

"Oh." Sesshoumaru blinked, then wrapped his arm around her once again. He rested his lips against the top of her head. "God, Rin," he said, more to himself than to her, "I'm so sorry." He squeezed his eyes shut and was very, very still, his chest not even moving to breathe.

"Mi Lord ... please, it's ok." Rin lifted her good hand to touch the side of his face, trusting her instincts to comfort him once again. He opened his eyes and peered down at her with affection and protection and ...

Love.

Rin smiled and rested her head against his chest, blown away in her happiness. The dull pain in her arm was an easy price compared to what she had just gained. Sesshoumaru's gentle hand.

They continued to look at each other until Rin's eyes started to drop and her breathing became more even. Before she drifted off entirely, she lifted her head slowly. "Sesshoumaru-sama?"

"Yes." He moved his face by hers, his eyes still on her wounded arm. He tightened his jaw in anger.

"I love you."

He sat there, stunned, unmoving, just staring at her arm. His mind, for the first time, went blank. He was detachted from his surroundings, of any approaching noises. He was completely unaware of anything but her and the fact that she had just declared out loud that she loved him. Loved him, of all creatures more loving and open, she. Loved. Him.

And he love her. He loved her since she grinned that priceless smile, since she giggled for the first time. He loved her. He had never loved before. Sesshoumaru suddenly understood why his brother was so protective of Kagome.

That's what love does to you.

Trembling, Sesshoumaru, Lord of the Western Lands, a fearless, presumably emotionless demon, who had slaughtered more souls than there was time to count, moved his lips to her ear, to finally say the words he'd been yearning to speak for what felt like centuries.. "I ..." There was no denying it. All he could do was accept it. "I love you too." Flushed with emotion, Sesshoumaru pressed his cold lips to her forehead, closing his eyes tightly.

Rin drifted off into a blissful sleep.