[A/N] Sooo this thing has been needing MAJOR editing for years. I'm just getting around to doing it. Shit, I could barely read this without cringing and I don't know how any of you guys got through it. Lol. It should read WAY different, if not better.
Rin knew she was in love with him at fourteen.
She had out grown her favorite kimono of orange and yellow shapes; she had out grown her next traveling kimono of yellow and purple flowers; and when she'd had her fourteenth birthday (an always quietly celebrated day) Sesshoumaru had given her a kimono that made her fall in love.
But at nineteen she'd had to realize the truth; in the days of her innocence, the kind of love she had thought was real, was just the surface of the suffering love that she was to bear for him now.
[Thirteen yr. old Rin]
"Jaken-sama!" Rin splashed happily in a deep stream that ran parallel to their tread.
"Insufferable ningen! Will you stop splashing me girl!" The toad shrieked, flailing his Nintoujou toward the lively girl. Rin paused and checked for her Lord. As usual he was several meters away walking with no hesitations about leaving the two to squabble alone. With one final splash at Jaken, the girl let her long legs carry her as fast as she could to her Lord leaving poor Jaken in the dust.
"Rin," the stoic demon chided. With a little pout the girl ran back, picked up a wrangling kappa and sprinted back to Sesshoumaru, dropping the kappa unceremoniously.
"Sesshoumaru-sama, will we reach the palace soon?" Rin asked, looking up to the pale youkai. She noticed, with pride, his face was just a bit closer to her. She knew for her age and species she was tall, reaching his brightly colored obi, and could only hope to get taller. A slight nod was her only affirmative and she frolicked around picking random flowers, smelling them and either keeping them or discarding them for her next flower crown.
The trio kept themselves busy until well into nightfall. The moon was high when Sesshoumaru decided to stop. Being accustomed to her Lord's long journeys, Rin was neither winded nor tired, but rest was welcomed just the same. By her calculations, they would reach the palace by this time tomorrow; depending on how early Sesshoumaru woke them.
The Lord himself kept watch over his dysfunctional companions. He could smell age coming to Rin, the scent of human adolescence, and reproduction. He cocked his head to the side, silently assessing her. She was strong for a ningen. She was strong for her gender and her age. He was … proud of her, but this small revelation was awkward to the Lord. Now, however, was a crossroad in her life. Soon her own time of mating would come; instinct would call her to look for a suitable male, settle down and reproduce her own kind. And he, Sesshoumaru, should release her then.
He had always known he would have to give her up. It was customary of the short ningen life span. Only thirteen years of her life, only five of them spent with him. That was but a blink to one such as himself.
The girl in question sighed in her sleep. She slept on soft moss found at the base of a large tree demon named Nyu-Osuki. He was a landmark, only one day's journey left until Sesshoumaru reached his home. The demon leapt high into Osuki's branches and fixed his gaze on the moon, subconsciously fixing his ears to that of his companions. Soon the day of Rin's birth would arrive. He had made sure to make it to his abode by then if he could help it. Although he was not sure of what day it was exactly, he had a general idea. It was most likely a day in high spring.
Such a day suited Rin.
[Sixteen yr. old Rin]
As Lady of the palace it was Rin's job to keep everything in order. Nothing could be out of place, dinner must be on time, guest quarters were always to be kept clean, tea always at the ready to be prepared and most of all, Sesshoumaru's particular whims must be done. The Inutaisho Daiyoukai was a picky and almost quirky Lord and Rin found it her purpose to please him. Everything had to be immaculate. Or as close to such as possible, as her Lord expected and tolerated nothing less. But a thought had recently dawned on her.
This also meant that she herself had to be perfect.
Rin had realized as much when a young female lizard youkai had stolen from the palace. She wasn't sure how he knew; she, herself, hadn't been aware of anything until she saw all the servants gathered in the common room. All the shoji doors had been open and the sunlight streamed into the whole palace lighting up the enormous expanse. Rin was the last to arrive, carting old scrolls in a delicate cloth satchel as she prepared to climb the steps and take them to her Lord's personal library. What stopped her was the sight of Sesshoumaru looking down on a small bowed youkai with the coldest expression. Sesshoumaru never looked that detached unless he planned to take a life.
"Insolent creature, I let you work here, sleep here, in my house and you steal from me." He stated rather blandly, speaking so low Rin strained to hear him. It was not a question. Still the little lizard tried to beg and plead, bowing more into the hard wooden floors than Rin thought possible. The air was tense. Some, who knew Sesshoumaru longer, turned to look away, already knowing the poor female's fate. Some looked with hope and pity, thinking there a chance she may survive. He spoke again, "No one will bring shame to my home. There is no excuse." Sesshoumaru stared into her and with a flick of his wrist severed her head completely. All her cries ended abruptly and blood pooled rapidly toward the ruler. Turning without another word he glided past Rin up the stairs and into his library. Immediately the mess was being cleaned and her body wrapped and escorted outside. Rin watched for a moment, dwelling on his words. Unconsciously she began to ascend the steps. 'No one will bring shame to my home.' Didn't such a thing also apply to her? It was known that Sesshoumaru kept a human ward. It was known that humans were far inferior to youkai. It was also known that Sesshoumaru had no tolerance for the inferior. Did Rin bring shame to his house? Rin had questioned her status ever since then.
Ever since that day Rin had made her decision. She had done all she could do to be perfect in his eyes. She pushed herself physically, striving to be quicker, stronger, more agile and more reflexive. It was painful and often seemed impossible, but she had nothing else to make her life worthwhile, so what else could she do? Mentally she pushed herself to become smarter, quick witted, intuitive and wise. She delighted to find this was not such a struggle for her. She became the perfect Lady and Sesshoumaru said he would allow her to take direct combat training when she had reached sixteen. Rin planned to become just as flawless in this realm as well. She wanted nothing more than to please her Lord. It was all she could do to justify her life beside his.
It was by this age that she had reckoned her love for him was a little deeper than her appreciation for new kimonos.
Rin stared at the rising sun; it's glowing intensifying every moment.
Rin whipped around, annoyed with herself for not noticing the youkai before he reached her. "Oh, Himatori-sensei! You scared me." Rin laughed nervously. She raised her bokkun in a defensive stance and the two wasted no time sparring. Recently, Rin could feel the strength of the wolf youkai more. She could feel the power in every swing and Rin did not delude herself in thinking that in any way would she have an actual chance, had this youkai suddenly decided to kill her.
Resentment started to bubble up in her chest. Why couldn't she have been born youkai? Why did she have to be so inferior? Unnoticeably the ningen's swings became filled with emotion and the girl took it out on her sparring partner.
Himatori studied his pupil. This was not the first time Rin would begin practice, then suddenly her aura and demeanor would change and she would unleash pent up emotions she had been feeling. The old youkai understood the pressure she put on herself. Who couldn't see that Rin was striving to be perfect? She was overcompensating for the fact that she was human, and for that, Himatori felt sorry for her. If there was something he knew, it was Rin could never change in Sesshoumaru's eyes.
"Rin," Himatori chided when she swung, missing completely and fell flat on her face. The girl hopped back up surprisingly quick. "What is troubling you Rin?"
Rin obstinately shook her head and swung again, her anger increasing for such a stupid mistake. Himatori rose a brow at the change in her attitude, still he blocked and retaliated. Soon she seemed to calm into her clear-cut fighting style. One she had crafted as a human version of her gaurdian's style of combat. It was efficient, vicious and lethal. Himatori kept time; so far they'd been sparring for about three hours straight. This was the longest stretch by far, and the sensei was impressed with Rin's stamina. Looking up sharply, the youkai's senses picked up the scent of his Lord walking near. No doubt to observe Rin and make sure she was improving. Allowing a little more force he swung his bokkun and was surprised when she didn't parry. Able to discern the increase in force, Rin dodged completely. Taking three large steps back and to the side she assessed her options. Himatori attacked again and Rin dodged steadily while taking long strides backwards. Soon they would be nearing the large Koi pond her Lord kept on the grounds, she was hoping to make it there. Himatori began swinging faster leaving Rin no choice but to parry the force or get hit. After the fourth swing her bokkun was in danger of breaking and she wasn't near enough to the pond for her plan to work.
On a whim, Rin turned and ran in a zig zag pattern barely missing the tackles Himatori tried to connect. She aimed for the pond and while Himatori was confused with this he certainly wasn't going to let her get away without proving herself. He wanted his Lord to see he was doing his job in pushing Rin to her fullest. His thought process failed him when Rin tumbled, swinger her leg in a complete circle. She tripped him and Himatori took a lunge into the freezing Koi pond.
Rin smiled broadly as her plan unfolded beautifully before her. Standing she dusted herself off and waited for Himatori to emerge. He would most likely praise her for her inventive thinking.
"Rin." The deep rumble of his voice shocked her. She turned to see Sesshoumaru nearly next to her. His face seemed almost disproving. A face she hated the most.
"My Lord," Rin bowed lower than even the servants, though she need never do so. Sesshoumaru always noted such, it almost curled his lips, her displays of true devotion. Himatori emerged, spluttering; he hopped out with a broad smile on his face.
"Rin! That was excellent! Brilliant thinking!" He spotted Sesshoumaru, feigned surprise and bowed politely. "My Lord, how unexpected. Is there something I can do for you?"
Sesshoumaru seemed to gaze through him for a moment. "I came to observe Rin." His eyes slid back to his ward's to find surprise. "You will demonstrate your skill to me."
"Of course my Lord!" Rin smiled wide and bowed low. She ran back to their original sparring grounds, picked up a new bokkun and turned to face her opponent. To her surprise Sesshoumaru stood there, hands tucked into his sleeves and a stoic expression on his face. Rin tried to keep the fear from her voice, but could not stop the confusion. "Sesshoumaru-sama?"
"I will be your opponent Rin." Was his only explanation.
The ningen nodded and steadied herself. She could feel her nerves tingling in the tips of her fingers and toes. She knew she was exuding the strong smell of fear and apprehension and this could not stand. Slowly she cleared her mind; closing her eyes she focused her energy. She felt her ki center itself and she opened her eyes to look at her opponent not as her Lord Sesshoumaru, but as a temporary enemy.
Sesshoumaru watched her raptly. She was scared and nervous that much was palpable, but almost just as suddenly she was fearless and calm. The change intrigued him. When had she learned to control herself in such a manner? Still he watched as she opened her eyes to look upon him in a way he had never received before. It raised the hairs on the back of his neck. Never had Rin ever looked at him in such a way. Never. Then she was attacking, quite quickly for a human. It took five long strides for her to reach Sesshoumaru, swinging her bokkun in a wider arc, she pushed her body to complete the rotation and let her foot follow. Rin felt the fabric of her Lord's hakama sweep over her heel. She had been dangerously close to landing her kick. Keeping her balance in check Rin immediately dropped to the ground and slashed upward in quick successions, swinging her bokkun round and round.
Sesshoumaru took easy hops back, keeping the distance between himself and Rin small enough for her to nearly reach him every time. Her expression was not fierce but almost calculated. Detached. It made him proud.
Rin lunged her arms forward, aiming to spear the youkai, but Sesshoumaru simply glided to her left. His body slid past hers as he moved opposite of her in a grace that only reminded Rin of her inferiority. She would never be enough to please him! In a fit Rin threw her leg out catching the Lord's heel, had she been successful she would have kicked him off balance. Sesshoumaru leapt away lightly and just as he touched ground, his hand came as a reflex and caught the bokkun Rin had thrown right as his face.
Himatori watched in silent awe as Sesshoumaru stared in his silent, stoic version of disbelief at the bokkun still seconds from his face. Rin knelt panting on the ground. Slowly the Inu lowered the bokkun and fixed his gaze on Rin as she struggled to stand without wheezing. "You have done well Rin. Rest, tomorrow you will accompany me to Totosai's villa."
Rin cocked her head. "My Lord," She began bowing, as he walked by her. "May I ask why we will be visiting Totosai?"
Sesshoumaru dropped the bokkun at Himatori's feet. "To commission a sword for you."
The demon was well into the palace before it finally hit Rin. Sesshoumaru was going to have a sword made for her! She squealed silently and sank to the ground, the joy apparent on her face. Himatori chuckled as he approached her.
"You did well young Rin! Exceptionally better than any human my eyes have ever seen. This I promise you. Come, Sesshoumaru-sama wishes for you to rest." Rin simply nodded in a happy daze as she was led to her chamber to bathe and rest. Tomorrow she and her lord would travel together to have Totosai forge a sword for her and her alone.
[Nineteen yr. old Rin]
Rin knelt and closed her eyes. She could feel the heavy stare of her Lord and several hundred spectating demons. Her nerves were tingling at the incredible fact of being the only free human in this Youkai's festival. As customary, the rulers of Nippon bet against each other and put their best warriors in a ring. The battle was not to be to the death, but Rin suspected this time would be different. When the time had come to announce their warriors, Sesshoumaru had simply called her name casually and innately, she'd obeyed. Now however, the full brunt of his choice was resonating within her. He had placed his very honor upon her shoulders. Every year Sesshoumaru won this show of strength not only because he was revered as having the best warriors in all of Japan, but because he simply would tolerate nothing less. But this year, he had thrown Rin, a ningen, to fight against seasoned youkai. Rin had never even aspired to understand how her Lord's mind worked but this was … daunting.
Rin was dressed similar to a taijiya. Sturdy black fur boots laced tightly to her ankle, fitting black taijiya pants cut short to her upper thighs, long black gloves that ran down her arm to expose her fingers, and sturdy, fitted black material that covered her torso up to her neck. The only color she wore was a belt that ran around her hips and draped in front of her and behind her. It was the same pattern as Sesshoumaru's obi, a gift for her nineteenth birthday. Her long hair was plaited down to the backs of her thighs and four long and dangerously sharp ornaments rested there and jingled when she moved.
Rin could feel the tension in the air. She steadied herself freeing all the doubt she had in her chest. She could almost taste the auras of each demon. She filled herself with the exhilarating thought of Sesshoumaru having so much faith in her. He must believe that she could do this, and for him she would, even if it meant to give up her life. What other worth did she have if not for him? The competing youkai looked at her quizzically as she knelt, one hand splayed on the ground and the other immobile to her left. Her twin swords mounted on her back, Ijo and Yijo. She waited for the host to ring the gong that would begin the tournament, but there seemed to be hesitation. Slowly Rin watched as the host was making his way to the upper deck where the rulers sat to observe. Not a sound could be heard in all the stadium and the youkai's boisterous voice was not at all discreet.
"My Lord Sesshoumaru, are you sure you want to enter that ningen girl? Surely you-" Rin didn't even blink when Sesshoumaru flicked his wrist and severed the demon in half. As the body fell over the deck it invariably hit the gong and all was fair game.
Rin had one fair advantage over youkai. Because she was ningen, her bones were light and it was far easier for her to move and use her agility to her benefit. It gave her combat style a differing factor from her Lord's. Rin was nimble, light as a feather with focused power in her core. Generally, she generated most of her power through the centrifugal force of spinning and flipping and overall acrobatics.
As soon as the sound rang through the stadium, Rin pushed off low, to her left and slid between the nearest youkai's legs. It was surprisingly east to unbalance him with a trick of her foot around his ankle and the use of his weight against him; he fell forward quickly. Lying on his chest, no doubt confused from the suddenness of Rin's bold maneuvers, he was unprepared for Rin to drive the heel of her hand into the base of his neck, one of the few susceptible places a ningen could kill a youkai by. There was an instant severing of his spinal cord from his skull. No other contenders had moved, and the crack from the kill had resonated loudly, like a siren. Things were different now; she was a threat.
For a few moments, all was still and the tension was such a palpable thing, Rin imagined she could see it. But such cowardly immobility would not please her Lord, she decided. Rin ran forward directly past the nearest demon, whom instinctively swiped at her, and used all the strength in her legs to push off the wall, swing her leg and let catch the demon in the neck with her heel. It was a precise maneuver that required flawless spatial awareness and complete confidence in her strength, control and accuracy. Again the cracking sound was an audible, if wordless, victory. Rin was down two and she had yet to even unsheathe her swords.
She turned to view the remaining youkai, who looked back in varying degrees of malice and hate. One demon sneered at her; he was finely dressed with long blue hair that flowed in the harsh breeze. "Filthy ningen, you believe that you are stronger than pure-blooded youkai because you live in the Western house? You will die!"
Such a thing as hurled insults and threats would mean more to Rin, if she hadn't spent her whole life learning from the true embodiment of regal stoicism. Some lessons were easier to pick up than others, so Rin found it natural to contain her passions, school her features and hyper focus.
Rin reached behind her and turned the hilts of her swords unlocking them from the sheath. As soon as she pulled to unsheathe them, their heavy auras enveloped her like a thick mist. Chain links of demon energy wrapped around her arm, harmful to fragile human skin, but the material of her gloves kept them from burning her flesh.
Mizan Nanjo, Lord of the Eastern lands turned to his left. "Oh?" He intoned with excitement. "What is it that the little human wields, Sesshoumaru?" He asked not too quietly.
The pale Daiyoukai was silent, as if he contemplated ignoring the question. Finally, he spoke tonelessly. "My fangs."
Nanjo stared at, for all intents and purposes, his godson. "Ahh," he gave a short chuckle. "And she wields them so naturally," Nanjo pointed down to Rin who stood static, her form flawless as she waited for an imminent attack in absolute comfort.
Huyoko Hibina a fiery Hi-youkai scoffed with derision though he said nothing. But it was enough to annoy the Western Lord.
The Inu-youkai's brow ticked. He grew tired of the stalemate in the ring. "Rin," he called calmly. The girl turned her full attention to her Lord "Finish this, I grow tired."
"Yes my Lord," Rin nodded. She turned and clutched her swords backward, protruding them from her fists. Rin launched herself, once more low to the ground, past two or three youkai. She was successful in slashing off two limbs as she went. She ran so low that the taller demons had to bend awkwardly to swipe at her slippery movement. Growls of frustration and pain echoed behind her and before she could stop her velocity a spear slammed the ground right in front of her. She moved enough for it to miss her face but it smashed into her shoulder and sent her on a skid. The demon was immediately charging for her and Rin threw Yijo at his neck. The demon laughed when she missed but Rin jerked her arm back and the chains whipped the sword around to slit deeply into the neck of the youkai before he was even close.
It was harder to fight when backed into a corner, most especially when even just one powerful swing would fully bisect Rin in an instant. But the human was crafty and, by design of her guardian, a veteran combatant. Years of sparing with Sesshoumaru, whom would often move faster than her eyes could follow, left Rin with a well of foresight and instinct. Often her body moved before her brain had a chance to parse through the situation. She focused on disarming, feinting, and precision kills or dismemberment. It took a while, and often she had multiple enemies but after a moment Rin's brain concluded that there were no more threats.
Looking around Rin counted the bodies. All were in the rink, none has escaped or fled. Most were dead but some had only lost their pieces of themselves. Sheathing her swords Rin turned toward the rulers and bowed deeply in the direction of her Lord. "My Lord," she called her completion. Slowly it sank in to her. Certainly she had decided that she could and would accomplish anything her guardian asked of her but … some part of her had thought it impossible; had been ready to die for just the attempt. But she had done it. At such a tender age, she had just defeated some of the most skilled youkai in all of Nippon. Her, a young, ningen female had defeated expertly skilled warriors of all species.
The Daiyoukai simply waved his hand toward himself and stood. He'd had quite his fill of socializing and was reay to make his way back to the peace of his quarters. The day's festival was over; there would be a banquet then tomorrow would feature another event. Rin hoped up the wall and landed next to her lord almost as silently as any bird youkai.
Sesshoumaru silently reasoned that she probably weighed less than one of his swords. "Rin come, the day is over." Sesshoumaru turned toward the long drone of steps leading from the observation balcony to ground level. Nanjo stood and walked with Sesshoumaru, speaking low enough to provoke curiosity but keep their conversation private.
"That is an interesting ningen you seem to have gotten your hands on." Nanjo jested quietly while walking with his hand hidden in large, ornate folds of his kimono.
Nanjo kept his gaze forward but Sesshoumaru still felt under scrutiny. It did not help the young Lord that this particular Inu was also his godfather; a youkai that had known his father and had played with pup Sesshoumaru in his youth. He owed the elder youkai nothing but respect and loyalty and he was one of the few individuals littering the planet, that Sesshoumaru would risk himself for. "You speak more than you listen old dog."
"You don't say enough to listen to, Pup." Nanjo chuckled and glanced back at the almost vacant walk of Rin some couple yards away. Hard listening distance for a ningen, but Nanjo wouldn't be surprised. "So how did you acquire this talented one here? Is she the one they gossip about? The ningen you kept out of sheer random will?" Sesshoumaru simply nodded. That explanation fit fine enough. "What do you plan to do with her? What is she exactly?" The Eastern Lord sounded like an old gossiping wench.
Sesshoumaru slid his eyes to the youkai, "What do you imply by 'do with her'?" He asked blandly.
Nanjo held up his hands in an innocently contemplative sort of manner. "I mean like what purpose does she have? Surely you do everything for a reason."
Sesshoumaru mused this for a long while. They were near his castle, the festival being hosted in his lands, when he finally gave an answer. "She has no immediate purpose." It was true, wasn't it? He had often thought of reasons to keep her around and contemplated her very being for hours. What role did she serve? What she did that made him feel she was … irreplaceable. He had conceded that he felt the need to protect her, surely his father would find that sufficient, but in what capacity did his protection stem from? He asked himself endless questions and tried to make many justifications. Nothing made sense and it was all still too new for him so, one day he stopped. He was Lord of the Western Lands and Daiyoukai of all Inu-youkai, no one could question his claim of her life so really, he needn't probe himself either. She didn't seem to have made any plans of leaving so neither did he. For as long as she wanted, she would stay in his house and her 'purpose' would never be questioned.
"Hmmm," was all Nanjo replied. Sesshoumaru felt his jaw clench. Certain times like these he wished Nanjo was not so invasively attuned to him as he was. The old dog could sniff out a bluff even if one was bluffing to oneself. And really, Sesshoumaru had not desire to fall back down the rabbit hole of introspection. The old dog decided to speak once more, "You never do anything without a purpose Sesshoumaru; just think about that will you."
With sudden frustration, the younger Inu growled. "What are you implying?" he stopped his gait abruptly to face the completely un-phased elder.
Nanjo simply raised an eyebrow to the young Lord's flipped demeanor and continued walking. "Nothing you haven't already."
Gods above, this was why he seldom ever visited his godfather.
It was a sunny new day and Rin felt just as bright. She was excited to see Inuyasha, his mate, the monk and the monk's mate as well. Kagome and Sango had taken the roles of mentors for her, in her still short life. Whenever Inuyasha was forced to pass through these lands or deal with his brother he always brought his mate, the monk, and the taijiya with him. It was Sango that had gifted Rin her battle-wear and hidden weapons. She had also half trained her on the art of feminine deception. Kagome on the other hand, had taught her how to be brash enough to evoke respect but also retain her feminine appeal. Such lessons had been a lot more difficult than Rin had thought, but her relationship with the women was strong. She guessed it helped that they were only four and five years apart. Kagome was twenty-three this year and Sango twenty-four, both who were trying to keep themselves from pregnancy for as long as possible.
Rin chuckled to herself but stopped when she felt the strong permeating aura of her Lord. Turning she bowed deeply, "My Lord," she quipped always ready to please him.
"You wait for my brother and his troop?" he asked with a small sense of resignation.
"Hai, my Lord they should arrive soon." Rin's easy smile slipped in place. "I will welcome them and house them in their usually quarters, ne?"
Sesshoumaru simply nodded, stepped up onto the ledge of his wide stone gate and sat. His back was straight as a board though his face seemed bored and resigned, his legs were crossed and his hands rested serenely in his lap. Rin joined him immediately as was her wont since she was but a child. Back then Sesshoumaru had to hold her because she was so clumsy she would have dropped herself to her own death. Now, not so much. They spent time in quiet silence filled with the sweet smell of late spring and each other. Sesshoumaru prized this about his ward, she no more needed conversation than he did, but she had no problem babbling on when she felt to do so. For some reason, she always seemed to know when was right.
"They are here." Sesshoumaru announced a full five minutes before they came into view. They traveled light, Kagome on Inuyasha's back, laughing with Sango and Miroku. Inuyasha smiled easily looking completely content with his misshapen family, even when they approached the gate, the happy look didn't fade from Inuyasha's eyes though he put on his trademark scowl when facing his brother.
"Bastard, you seem well." Was his opening remark but it came out seeming more light than meant.
"Inuyasha!" Rin jumped down and hugged the hanyou, effectively throwing him off balance. Kagome dropped down and was bear hugged next. Sango and Miroku next until the girls started appraising one another and commenting on what had grown and filled out where. By the end of it Rin was a scarlet red and Sango and Kagome both had sly grins on their faces.
"Sesshoumaru," Kagome greeted amicably completely refusing to use his title, especially when she felt slightly disrespected as he continuously addressed her as "Inuyasha's ningen" or "Miko". Sango gave a respectful nod to the Lord, but immersed herself in her conversation with Rin once again. The troop waltzed through the palace, Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha exchanging greetings laced with non-subtle threats and insults. Miroku hopped between conversations.
Sesshoumaru's respect for his little brother had grown, though the demon didn't know when (or rather, he didn't bother to examine when). He supposed it has something to do with the hanyou's tenacity, power and leadership but the Daiyoukai would deny this until death. "You plan to stay here Inuyasha?" The demon more stated than assumed. Inuyasha didn't look up from his parchment but nodded. Sesshoumaru sent for a servant to ready the rooms and turned back to his brother. "The day's festival will commence soon, do you mean to attend it as well?" Inuyasha looked up in a sort of puzzlement then nodded toward Kagome. Sesshoumaru just barely kept from rolling his eyes but turned to his brother's mate, expecting an answer.
Kagome looked up from her conversation with Sango after feeling the youkai's stare, "What?" she asked confused as well. Sesshouomaru's patience began to wane.
Rin, never missing her Lords moods intervened. "Did you and Inuyasha plan to attend the festival?"
"Oh," the Miko stated. "I forgot it was this time of year. It is only for youkai, right?"
Rin mused this question. "I suppose if you are a strong enough human that you can attend as well."
Kagome raised a brow. "I take it Sesshoumaru lets you attend."
Rin brimmed in pride. "I won the competition for my Lord and protected his title." A small blush crept with the words and Rin turned from Sesshoumaru slightly. The demon noticed but for his ward's sake averted his eyes. He could never understand silly human follies; why she would become embarrassed over restating facts was beyond him. He supposed it was something he would never grasp.
"Ahh! You fought youkai?" Sango's interests were piqued.
Inuyasha looked up from his parchment and turned to his brother. "You let her fight youkai?"
"I made her fight youkai." Sesshoumaru corrected. "She is far stronger than any ningen and can surpass most youkai because I trained her that way. If it were not for her life span she would hardly be considered human at all."
Rin's blush increased and she ducked her head as Inuyasha scrutinized her. "You're in one piece so I take it was easy for you?"
She thought a moment. She hadn't needed to struggle. She hadn't really been hurt at all. Everything came … natural to her. She hadn't even been scared. After a moment she realized that it had been easy for her. "Yes," she said slowly. "It was … easy for me." Rin wrapped herself in her own reverie.
"How long ago did you fight?" Kagome asked.
"Yesterday," she replied automatically.
"And today?" Kagome asked.
"Today is Hi-to-Tozen; all youkai dance from sunset to sunrise."
"Are you not going to join this one?"
"I am not sure." Rin glanced at Sesshoumaru, but he said nothing.
"Kagome, we should join with young Rin here." Sango chirped.
"Inuyasha would you dance?" Rin asked curiously.
"Only with Kagome." The hanyou replied almost instantly. Rin looked at Sesshoumaru again but he seemed truly disinterested.
"I am not sure if humans can join this part of the festival. I have never seen any, and I have never participated at all before yesterday."
"Don't worry about it," Kagome replied. "I am technically a Miko, Sango is stronger than most middle-class youkai and you my dear are hardly ningen at all." She clapped her hands. "It should be fine!"
Inuyasha lifted a brow and glanced at Kagome before going back to what he was doing. Rin let her eyes run back to her Lord to find him looking at her in the most peculiar way. Like he was contemplating something. "My Lord?" She asked. However, Sesshoumaru simply remained silent. Rin sighed internally, if her guardian didn't wish to speak, it was impossible to prompt him to do so. Turning back to Kagome the ward considered, "Well the sun will not set for another six hours. What do you wish to do until then?"
Kagome stood suddenly, "Rin, there is a hot spring near here. We passed it not too long ago. Let's go there! I haven't soaked in a hot spring in so long." Kagome looked eager and Sango groaned at the thought.
Rin smiled "Of course, let's go."
When the women returned, an hour before sun down, Rin led Kagome and Sango to the wardrobe wing where the three picked out kimonos, and pretty sheer hakamas with dangling gold accessories. Rin chose an ornate black kimono with red flowers stitched along the back that split up to the waist on either side. She donned a pair of thin, if sheer, red hakama that quite barely shielded her legs. On her feet were pretty, satin black slippers. Pulling a long black cloth embroidered with hanging golden coins, Rin made a viel that covered her entire face, save the eyes. The material made attractive little chimes that shook with every step. Kagome wore similar attire, her kimono was red and her hakama white; Sango's kimono was brown and her hakama a deep purple.
If Sesshoumaru had no sense of smell, he was sure he would not have known who had just arrived at the event grounds. He had arrived at the festival a few hours ago and had already found himself bored to pieces waiting for it to be over. Inuyasha had found refuge high in a tree gazing at the stars as the youkai below socialized. It was obvious that neither brother was big on social interactions. Oddly, as the integrally familiar scent that could only be Rin wafted over to the Daiyoukai, Sesshoumaru found the woman walking toward him did not resemble her at all. The woman walked like a lioness and the peeks of skin from the slit of her kimono did no good to dispel the image she had inflicted on Sesshoumaru. Suddenly the deepest feeling of displeasure welled in the Lord. How dare this ningen come baring skin that did not belong to her?
At once he blanked his features, still not sure what was coming over him. He knew Rin meant no harm, she never did, and one wrong look would destroy her spirits for weeks on end to only clear through some sort of praise. But the Lord's confusion was still deeply unpleasant and Sesshoumaru was not one to suffer the unpleasant.
Rin arrived right in front of her Lord with only her brilliant hazel eyes visible. She bowed low and acknowledged, "Lord Sesshoumaru," Kagome bowed as well out of respect.
With a small rustle of fabric, Inuyasha leapt out of his tree and landed a little behind Kagome. The Miko turned and accepted his outstretched hand. It was times like these that Rin could see their love like a tangible string connecting the two. She so desperately wanted the same. If only, if only. The two began a centuries old youkai dance meant to seduce one another and joined the other youkai and hanyou. Kagome's kimono jingled as she moved deliberately slower than Inuyasha; meant to depict her slow growing love for him and they hanyou danced around her rapidly showing all his efforts to woo her. The dance was mostly an instinctual thing, this Rin knew. She wondered how it was that it could look so serene when done by the human and hanyou pair. Rin imagined it was because their eyes rarely left each other's.
Lord Huyoko Hibina had just been conversing with Lord Kazekari Sashine the Lord of the Middle Provinces, when he caught sight of a lovely trio walking. One sniff of the air told him that amongst the three was the same ningen woman that accompanied that arrogant dog Sesshoumaru. He nodded to Sashine and stalked over to the young woman. Hibina knew he was quite an attractive specimen, well into handsome, actually. He was young, had the second largest military in all of Nippon and prided himself on being a strong and accomplished youkai. For this night, Hibina had pulled his long, silk straight, black mane into a high pony tail; he knew this accentuated the deep multi-red of his eyes, his pale complexion and the natural angles of his face. With calculated risk, he decided to insert himself into the ningen woman's evening.
Hibina gave a fangy grin as he reached the couple and gave a polite bow to Rin. "How pleasant to finally meet you little ningen. How fairs your evening?"
Rin, grateful for the veil to hide her blush, bowed even lower. "An honor, sir. And my evening has been lovely so far." she replied with perfect manners, her voice soft and melodic.
Hibina's eyes found that of Sesshoumaru and he gave a cordial nod and proper smile. He may not like Sesshoumaru but he did respect his power. "Lord Sesshoumaru." he greeted, only being slightly disrespectful by greeting him after Rin. The Lord in question simply nodded to show his response. He seemed to lack the want to talk. Hibina extended a hand toward Rin, "Would you care to dance with me?"
This time the blush reached up to right under her eyes. "My apologies, Lord Hibina, but I do not think to engage in such a dance would be appropriate." She eyed Kagome and Inuyasha, the two looking completely at home and very intimate.
Hibina chuckled, "Nonsense, we certainly would not perform such a dance, but a simple one to the rhythm of the drums. I will show you an ancient hi-youkai routine that only nobles in the Southern Lands perform." He smiled easily and took her hand. After nodding once more to Sesshoumaru he led an only slightly reluctant Rin to the same arena of earthen ground that all the other dancers were on. Rin had always thought dancing like a demoness would be hard. She observed the way Kagome moved; an ordinary ningen woman would find such things very difficult and Rin did not know if it was her spiritual powers that granted her such enhanced physicality. But Rin was pleasantly surprised that the dance Hibina shared was not so difficult at all.
Hibina's hand was warm as he placed it on the cloth separating the skin of Rin's nape. It was an intimate place to lead a dancer from, but he banked on the little human being ignorant of such. Rin moved where she was guided, the quick pace was not hard to keep up with at all. She locked eyes with her partner, unconsciously imitating the same look Kagome gave her partner. The effect was the Lord pulled her closer and sped up. Grabbing her shoulders, Hibina about faced the ningen and guided her by wrapping his had around her upper arms. The footwork required quick and dexterous movement but she didn't seem to have a problem. He turned her and took two large steps back. This segment of the dance required her to copy him; a quick learner, Rin fell into rhythm rather immediately. She held her hands up as she moved, the large sleeves of her kimono fell to expose her elbows and the quick turns ballooned her kimono out to expose the naked skin of her waist.
Sesshoumaru watched with a stone face of disinterest.
Inside, however, he was in turmoil. Something hot was festering square in the chest. What this feeling was, he did not know, but he knew it was unwelcome, undeserved, and abhorred. He also had a feeling it was caused by Rin. His confusion at such unnamed surges of feelings coupled with his inability to make it go away began to brew pure unadulterated fury. The mix was so sudden and so potent, he could barely stand it. He tried to quell his growing rage by looking away; he attempted watching his brother dance but the two were so in love it made him sick. He directed his attention to the taijiya, who had long ago discarded the veil in favor of draping it over the monk. It was interesting enough to watch the two because their dance was not youkai but something other. Somehow it didn't matter. Neither his nose nor his eyes would allow him relief from the visage of Rin dancing with that inferior fire-youkai as if they were long time lovers.
It made him sick.
Standing, Sesshoumaru caught Rin's attention just as she was turning again. She froze and their eyes connected. Sesshoumaru let his look of disgust fill his features before ordering his imp and walking away. He knew such a thing would hurt her most and he wanted that.
Rin stood motionless for a moment, confused as to what had brought such a disturbance to her Lord so suddenly. Her first thought was perhaps he hadn't been looking at her. But she would be fooling herself and she knew it. Her second thought, and most worrying conjecture, was perhaps she had in some way disrespected him. Her mind raced as panic filled her body whole. Never would she intentionally disrespect her Lord! He was absolutely everything to her. It took her but a minute before he legs began to work and she ran. She ran with all her might.
"My Lord!" Rin was racing up the corridors of the Western Palace, she had been running after him for some time, to no avail. Her panic heightened her senses. She knew Sesshoumaru was near, she could feel his aura in her bones. "My Lord, please tell me what I have done!" Rin went straight to begging. Her adrenaline gave out and she stopped abruptly and fell to her knees holding herself. She had ripped the veil from her face and her long wavy hair hung drearily around her face. 'It's unfair.' She thought bitterly. 'If he would just give me a chance to explain whatever it is I have done.' But Rin knew her Lord. It was not often Sesshoumaru acted impulsively, but in every instance she could think of, he had never made a mistake or regretted his actions. It left her feeling dread.
She felt the spike of his aura and it filled her with a new determination. Leaping up she followed him down the winding hall and through the servants' entrance to his personal gardens attached to his chamber. There she found him resting in his favorite tree, gazing at the high moon. Music could still be heard from the festival not too far away. "My Lord," Rin whispered, all of a sudden afraid of what he might say. "Please." Was all she could mutter, not entirely sure what she was begging for.
There was a long pause. "You have irritated me Rin." Sesshoumaru, out of a loss for words, let the starkest version of truth tumble out.
"But how, my Lord? Please tell me and I will never do so again."
"That is … partly the problem." Sesshoumaru paused not sure how to admit this. "I cannot determine exactly what it is you have done."
Flabbergasted Rin sputtered. "But my Lord, it must be something!" She was raising her voice in a manner that she had never used with him. When Sesshoumaru remained silent her belly clinched with stress. She was panicking. "Please, Lord Sesshoumaru, you must be able to tell me wha-"
"It is your very presence." Sesshoumaru said venomously; he disliked being questioned.
Rin's breath left her and would not draw again. It felt as if her chest was concaving. What had he just said? But he continued, "I cannot take it any longer."
There was a decisive silence that cut deep through the ningen and Rin felt her world crashing around her. "My Lord, please tell me, is it because I danced with that Lord Hibina?"
Rage, that same hot and swelling rage, blossomed sickly throughout the Daiyoukai's chest. In the swiftness of a moment, his face was mere inches from Rin's. His eyes were red and glowing, his fangs protruding from his mouth. "What did you just say?" It was more of dare than a question.
Rin felt fear shake her to the core. Never had her Lord's temper ever been directed at her. Her mind became startlingly blank in her terror. "I just want to stay by your side, my Lord. Like Rin always has." She reverted back into third person, such was her abject terror at having to face her Lord's fury. It did nothing to quell him. "If my Lord desires, Rin will never dance with another youkai again. Rin will never dance again. Anything! It has only been you my Lord. Everything has always been you." Rin could feel herself breaking down. She was saying anything she thought would dampen the situation.
Sesshoumaru took a large step back. "What?" he fixed her with a nearly-disgusted stare.
Rin could feel her body shaking, could feel the endless stream of tears break past her eyes. Her mouth opened to without regard of conscious mind and vomited everything she'd always held dear. "It has always been you my Lord. The one Rin lives for, the only thing Rin loves. Rin would do anything for you! Please don't send Rin away! Please-"
"That is enough." His eyes came back to the cold color of amber gold. "You must go. Your simple ningen follies have gone far enough. You will not shame me by proclaiming love. You are naught but a human. Even with me having invested so much into raising you to be above other ningens, you are still ningen." He took a breath and couldn't help but look about in confusion. "This has gone far enough. Had I known you would …make such accusations before, I would have left you at the first human village I fell on." Sesshoumaru turned away from Rin and whistled. Two inu-youkai maids came and bowed low.
He took another breath, fortifying himself to his decision. "Take Rin to her chambers and let her pack her belongings. Then escort her to wherever she wishes to go. She is no longer welcome here."
Rin stood in shock. What was her Lord saying? Surely he was not telling her to go. Where would she live? What would she do? How would she survive without his command, not seeing her Lord's face, not hearing his voice? It wasn't until she felt the warm hands of the maids that it truly set into her. He was ordering her exile. He was kicking her out! "No!" Rin clawed out their grasp and ran to Sesshoumaru. The demon leapt high out of her reach. "No! My Lord please don't send me away! I promise I will never speak of this again! How will I survive? Please don't!"
Sternly yet kindly the maids wrapped their arms around Rin and pulled her back through the palace with the girl screaming and sobbing all the way. Strength had left her and she slumped on the floor of her chamber.
"My Lady, our orders were to help you pack and then escort you to your destination."
"NO! I will not leave!"
"My Lady you must-"
" No!" Rin curled herself into a tight ball and rocked. 'It is not true. This is just a nightmare. He would not abandon me. He would never send me away. I am the closest living thing to him, even if I an ningen. I am strong. He is proud of me. I am an asset.' Rin convinced herself until a black oblivion met her.
[A/N] Let me know what you guys think! If you've read this before and are rereading, tell me how it differs to you!