It has been...9 years now. I'm 17 years old, I'm a grown woman now and of age. I think I can make my own descisons...but the question remains will he accept them? The young woman walked alongside the shrine miko, accompanying her and carrying a basket of medicinal herbs back to the village. She had decided to go out with the priestess to search for more herbs for the villagers since there were times when they'd injure themselves or fall ill and had taken to helping Kagome whenever she could. It had been 6 years since the lovely miko had to returned, back to the Warring States Era, back into Inuyasha's arms. She had been 19 years of age by then and Rin had been there to witness this momentous occasion. Her 11 year old self couldn't help but leap for joy at Kagome and Inuyasha's reunion at that time, and not long after that a wedding had followed.

That very day Kagome had retuned, the daiyoukai had stopped by the human village she'd been left at. It was Kaede's village as a matter of fact and Rin, so young at the tender age of 8, was quite heartbroken when the Lord of the West decided that it was best she remain here under Kaede's custody and care. He didn't explain himself thoroughly, but Rin knew that great dog demon was leaving her here for her own safety and protection, or that was one of the few reasons Kaede had told her the night he left her there.

Many of times did he stop by with gifts for the young girl, but the visits were so brief that it seemed the moment he arrived he was flying off into the sky again, his long fair hair and soft fur trailing off in his wake. Rin would smile, she'd brightly tell him how happy she was he'd come to see her, thank him profusely for the gifts, and she'd even cling to his neck and hug him tightly rendering him quite embarrassed and stiff. However the moment he'd leave her presence her heart would drop down to her stomach and Rin would retreat somewhere in the forest to privately shed tears until she felt she could shed them no longer, and many times Kagome would find the little girl by the old bone eater's well, the goshinboku tree or somewhere hidden amongst the brush. It was all she could do to comfort the young one.

There was no denying it. Rin missed Sesshoumaru, even to this day at the age of 17 years old she wanted him there. She longed to walk by his side again, hold tight to his kimono sleeve. She missed the nights he'd find a place for them to bed down. She missed the times she'd curl up to sleep, feeling safe and protected, knowing that he was there to watch over her and keep her from harm's way. Rin sighed slightly and fell into step by Kagome. She hadn't noticed the priestess eyeing her and Rin raised her elegant head. She'd grown into a very lovely, young woman indeed. Her hair had now reached her waist and instead of sporting a short ponytail at the side, it now fell down to shoulders, tied up losely with a silk, yellow ribbon accompanied by a tiny daisy. She was the only girl in the village who wore the finest of kimono. She looked like she belonged in a land of wealth.

Whenever her Lord had come to visit, he always had the most superior of silk kimono in some of the most beautiful and vibrant colors for the young woman. He always told her that he felt they suited her personality and she would smile and thank him once more. For some reason, as she grew older, each time he'd visit and leave, her heart ached for him more than before. Her feelings were...different this time and there was a constant yearning to be by his side, to touch him. She longed for him to place his hand on the side of her face, gently stroking her forehead with one clawed thumb as he once did when she was just a child.

"Rin?" the miko asked, raising an eyebrow noticing that she carried her head low. Rin knew how intuitive Kagome was, so she figured she'd allow her to speak. "Are you alright? You've been very quiet since we left today."

Rin snapped her head up and looked at Kagome's worried face. The powerful miko had grown from a cute teenager into a beautiful, young woman at the age of 25 years old. Kagome and Inuyasha were now wed and had two children of their own. Rin also knew that because of this, Kagome fostered a sort of sisterly bond as well as a motherly one for her, and she was grateful to have this priestess in her life. Kagome had helped Rin through many tough times living in the human village and missing her lord, Sesshoumaru. By the time Kagome had returned, Rin had grown accustomed to living in a human village and being around humans, being protected by her Lord's younger brother as well as the old priestess, Kaede, who'd become something of a grandmother to her, but nothing would quell that feeling of missing him. She even missed the little imp who accompanied her Lord, Jaken.

"I'm sorry, Kagome. I was just thinking," Rin blushed, lowering her head and staring fixedly at the basket of medicinal herbs she carried in her arms.

"Hmmm," Kagome hummed, adjusting her bow and quiver with one arm. Her long, raven hair had been pulled back into a ponytail that fell down her back and nearly touched her rear-end, styled in the traditional miko's style. "I think I can wager a guess as to what you're thinking about, Rin," Kagome stated matter-of-factly.

Rin gasped slightly, lifting her head to meet Kagome's concerned gaze. "I-I don't know what you're talking about," she stammered shyly, a blush beginning to darken her cheeks.

"Of course you do, Rin," the miko continued. "You're thinking about him aren't you? You're thinking about Sesshoumaru. I know that look anywhere. I myself used to carry that same face when I was parted from Inuyasha. My friends always teased me, telling me I was thinking about him, but they never understood, to be honest."

That's right...Kagome was separated from Inuyasha for three years. If anybody knows what I'm feeling right now, it's her. "I'm sorry, Kagome, I forgot," Rin told her shyly, the blush becoming ever prominent. "Kagome...," Rin began tensely. "I'm no longer a child."

"I know you're not, Rin," the miko acknowledged, nodding her head. "You're an adult now. You're grown up."

"And because I'm grown up, I think it's time for me to make my own decisions," the young girl replied. "Kagome...I want to go back to him. I want to be by his side again," Rin admitted, gazing back at Kagome once more, determination filling her chocolate brown eyes.

"You mean, Sesshoumaru, right Rin?" Kagome closed her eyes, stating the obvious. "You want to walk next time him, go wherever he goes again as you did before right?"

"I do, Kagome. More than anything. I've spent the rest of my childhood growing up here in this village and there's nothing here for me. I thought perhaps I could make things work with Kohaku, but they just didn't. He's just...Kagome, my feelings have changed since I was a child," Rin told her, now beginning to talk non-stop. She still continued to carry that small habit from the time she was a young child up until now. When she became apprehensive, she talked a lot and didn't really know why. It could've been perhaps that if she felt she talked and then it would release all the nervousness coursing through her blood, or maybe even the fear she felt as well. Was she feeling fear? "I'm...frightened," she admitted realizing that she was afraid, gazing up at the azure sky, and longing for a sign that her Lord's arrival was impending.

"What exactly is it that you're afraid of, Rin?" Kagome inquired. Rin knew full and well that the miko knew exactly what she was afraid of, but nevertheless was grateful that she was allowing the girl to speak.

"I'm...afraid he won't want me to come back with him," Rin allowed the words to roll off her lips in barely above a whisper. "I'm terrified that because he's a demon and he rules the Western Lands that I'll be too much of a nuisance for him."

Kagome sighed as the girls reached the village once more. She shook her raven head. "Rin, honestly I think that's silly. I mean why wouldn't Sesshoumaru want you with him? I thought I heard from Inuyasha that he left you here so you could see what it was like to live in a human village and that in the end it'd be up to you if you wished to return to him or not?"

Rin sighed and stared at the ground as the girls entered Kagome and Inuyasha's hut. She breathed a soft breath of relief that the hanyou and his pups currently weren't there. The two women could speak in private. "Yes, perhaps, but times have changed. It's been 9 years now. What if he's changed his mind since then? What if he's found somebody else? A demoness? He may already have a mistress, or may even be engaged...or may even have a wife." Rin swallowed back the lump that had begun to form in her throat at the mere thought.

Kagome shook her head once more and gazed tentatively at brown-haired girl. "Rin, seriously. I think you're reading too much into this. I think you've just got yourself convinced that the worst will happen," Kagome seated herself on the floor of the hut, removing her bow and quiver of arrows and tucked her legs underneath her. She began separating the herbs and laying them in individual piles. Rin followed suit but couldn't really concentrate. "When is he supposed to be coming to see you again?"

"He said at the beginning of the next month last I spoke to him," Rin replied, absentmindedly twirling a piece of herb in her hands. "Do you happen to know what day it is?"

"It's the last day of the month," Kagome replied, still not ceasing her work. "He'll be here tomorrow, Rin. I think then you should speak with him. I honestly think that you need to tell him how you feel. We all know that he's not going to blow you away coldly as if you were nothing to him. He never does when he comes to see you. He might still be a little aloof, but sometimes when he thinks we're not looking you can see the happiness in his eyes at seeing you again," the priestess continued with a hint of a laugh resounding in her voice. She dropped her plants and turned towards Rin, taking the girl's hands in her own and smiling at her. "If to be with him is truly what you want, you must make it known, okay? Don't hold back. You have to tell him everything."

Rin smiled slightly back and before she got the chance to answer, there was a happy squeal just outside of the bamboo door to Kagome and Inuyasha's hut. "MAMA MAMA! GUESS WHAT ME AND PAPA DID!?" A very small child of only age 4 came bounding into the hut. She had long, ebony hair just like her mother and tiny triangular-shaped, raven dog ears perched on top of her little head. She dove into Kagome's arms, a little bouquet of flowers clenched tightly in her tiny fist. "WE PICKED THESE FOR YOU!"

"Oh Akahana, those are so beautiful! Thank you!" exclaimed Kagome as she kissed her daughter on the cheek and put her down. "Where's your brother and your father?"

"We're coming," a familiar voice softly came from just outside the door. In stepped the half-dog demon with his long, fair hair just like his older brother's and his sharp, golden eyes. He had a grin on his face barely revealing his small fangs as he cradeled a sleeping baby boy in his arms. He had a tuft of white hair along with small human-like ears on other side of his head just as his mother did. Inuyasha smiled as he entered the hut, cradling their child in his arms.

"Oohhh I've always thought he was so beautiful," Rin gushed, touching his hair softly. "You and Inuyasha both have such gorgeous children, Kagome," she complimented but at the same time couldn't help but wonder how hers and Sesshoumaru's children would turn out looking like...if they were to ever bare children together. Rin was broken from her train of thought by Inuyasha's cheerful tone.

"Ah, hey there Rin! I see you've been helping Kagome hunt for herbs. You really are helpful," Inuyasha smiled at the younger girl and then lowered himself down in front of his wife. He gently handed her the sleeping child who didn't make a peep but snoozed on as he entered the warmth and comfort of his mother's arms. "Hello, Inuyasha," Kagome smiled warmly as she kissed him on the cheek and then leaned forward to kiss her son on the forehead. "Did Ichiro do well on his outing with daddy and Akahana?"

"He did, and he didn't cry once. I was actually kinda surprised. He seemed to really enjoy watching the river. The sun was bright today and when it would sparkle off the river or a fish would jump out of the water he'd clap his hands and laugh," the half-demon carried on.

"You know, Inuyasha, you've certainly changed since you became a father," Rin giggled standing up.

"Hey! What's that supposed to mean!?" the hanyou shot back, amber orbs flashing.

"Oh, nothing. I'm going to head on home, I'll see you later!" laughed Rin as she stood and ran out of the hut. She heard the sounds of Inuyasha and Kagome's voices, their laughed and the laughter of their small daughter, Akahana followed by a faint cry that she was certain was Ichiro's. Rin sighed, gazing up into the pinks and oranges that was the sky above, feeling her heart sink. Sesshoumaru-sama...please come for me. Please let me go home to you. I want to be with you...Rin stared off into the sunset, folding her hands underneath her chin. You'll be here promised. Please let me here what I want to hear.


"Milord! Milord you really MUST stop and rest! You're going to end up just like your father did if you don't slow down!" cried out a rather obnoxious voice at least obnoxious and annoying to him. However the voice was filled with genuine concern. Jaken, the small imp that served the Lord of the Western Lands, stood in the middle of the battle field sending blazing flames from the staff of two heads he held firmly in his grasp. Bodies were strewn about and many demons had now left the battle field. It was always the same. It always seemed as though some youkai clan was trying to defeat Sesshoumaru and his minions. How bothersome and tiring it had grown. Typically the daiyoukai would just step towards them, holding his right index and middle finger up in the air, and with a casual flick of his wrist, a long, glowing, green whip ascended from the tips of his claws and would snap against his enemies, cutting them down and killing them in an instant.

The Killing Perfection would then toss his long mane of silvery hair back and walk back to his dwellings without a backward glance. This time, however, was different. A tribe of mountain lion demons from the Northern Lands had invaded his territory, wanting to completely take over, only this time not only did they have their own army but the help of other demons as well. For four, long days straight the Lord and his army had been engaged in battle. They fought off the mountain lion youkai to the best of their ability. Many casualties were born from the onslaught which in turn angered Sesshoumaru increasingly.

They reached the fourth day and the tail end of the battle was drawing near. Most all of the mountain lion tribe had been brought down or completely slaughtered and some had fled the battle in terror. The battle ground was littered with the bodies of the dog demon clan as well as the mountain lions and other youkai that had allied themselves with the mountain lion tribe. Sesshoumaru was holding Bakusaiga tightly in his clawed, striped fist, glaring down his remaining attacker. He ruthlessly leaped forward, brandishing the sword and swinging with a fierceness only he himself could constitute.

"You fool," began the daiyouaki as he slashed the tip of Bakusaiga across the massive mountain lion youkai's chest. His eyes were crimson red and the normally straight, amethyst stripes on his cheeks were jagged. He had transformed from his usual calm, and aloof demeanor into his first transformation, looking incredibly terrifying indeed. His fangs had grown at an almost alarming rate, pointed, sharp and glimmering menacingly. Terrible snarls and growls were heard from somewhere deep within his chest. Blood spattered onto the ground from the mountain lion demon's body, but the colossal cat did not fall. Instead, he reached a giant paw towards the daiyoukai and swiped. "Insolence!" hissed the cat demon as Sesshoumaru jumped backwards with grace and landed stealthily on his feet.

"You really should just give up now," he stated somewhat arrogantly, pointing his sword straight at the youkai's face. "You're already wounded beyond repair."

"You're one to talk," the youkai hissed back. "You're bleeding just as much as I am. The great Sesshoumaru-sama of the Western Lands said to be unbeatable and look at you. I'm tearing you down everytime you attack."

Sesshoumaru snickered. "Is that so? Come at me then, cat and prove your worth, not that you have any. The more you swipe at me, the more you bleed. Or, perhaps I could just put you out of your misery!" he ululated the last word with emphasis as the great demon lord took off at a swift run, raising his free hand, the claws glowing a baleful green. "Know your place!" Sesshoumaru could feel the poison attack pulsating in his hand as he advanced towards the demon.

The cat stood at the ready, preparing for a head-on attack when Sesshoumaru took a sharp turn to the left, jumped in the air, ran Bakusaiga's blade across the front of the creature's throat, followed by an attack of him slashing his poison claws across the mountain lion youkai's rough, furry back, injecting the deadly venom into the beast's body. The gargantuan cat yowled, and threw back his head in pain roaring, accentuating that his death was truly near. Blood was pouring from the cat's neck, pooling onto the rocky terrain before him. His screeches stopped and a horrible, gurgling sound emanated from his mouth. Finally, his massive body met the cold, hard ground and the sickening, yellow eyes rolled back into his head. The mountain lion youkai leader moved no more.

The Lord of the Western Lands, landed on his feet, ostentatiously, once more beside the giant cat and gave a sharp kick to the side of it's cut up and bloody head. The demons that were left in battle had already retreated in fear, and the rest were dead except for what was left of Sesshoumaru's clan. "Hmph," the demon lord huffed, re-sheathing his sword, his red eyes slowly turning back to their warm amber color, and his cheek stripes retained their natural look.

"Sire! Sire!" cried the little imp as he ran towards Sesshoumaru. The demon lord's kimono had been soaked with blood, his fur he held over his shoulder was also bleeding and there were various cuts and wounds on Sesshoumaru's body. "You're covered in blood and wounds, Milord!" Jaken exclaimed as he ran up to the great dog demon.

Sesshoumaru glared down ferociously at Jaken who instantly bowed, begging his master for forgiveness. "I don't need you to state the obvious, Jaken," the daiyoukai stated coldly and he began to ascend towards his palace, taking care to step on the little imp youkai as he went. "Besides that, I have to be leaving soon anyway. It's almost nightfall and I have a trip to make."

"Ohhh but in that condition Milord!? You're bleeding more profusely than usual! Are you certain it is safe to travel!?" Jaken inquired in his predictable, squawking tone. And going to see that human girl again no less! Ugh! I thought we were rid of Rin when we left her at that human village but noooooo. Sesshoumaru-sama insists that he has to see her every month! The nerve of that girl taking my lord away from his home, especially when he's as badly injured as he is!

"Jaken," came Sesshoumaru's commanding voice. "Go back into the palace and get the wrapped package from my chambers."

"Aye, Milord," Jaken obliged, bowing his head, clutching the staff of the skulls tightly in his fist as he made a mad dash for the palace.

Sesshoumaru stood outside of his dwellings, feeling the wind blowing through his hair and his fur. He leaned his head back, closing his golden orbs and breathed in the air. The scent of all the demons' blood had filled the air and sifted through his keen sense of smell. What was left of Sesshoumaru's clan slowly began making their way towards their ruler for obvious, further instruction. "Go now, the battle is finished," he told them with a flick of his wrist and pointed towards their place of residence surrounding his palace.

The inu youkai nodded their heads in agreement, quietly thanking their lord, bowing and then turning and heading back towards their homes, most likely eager for their wives and wards to tend to their wounds. Sesshoumaru could see his fur was bleeding out of the corner of his eye and inside he winced followed by a slight pang of wanting his wounds tended to. He quickly brushed it off. I, Sesshoumaru, do not need anybody touching my wounds. The daiyoukai thought arrogantly. "Hmph, ridiculous," he huffed, sticking his nose in the air.

"The task has been done, Sesshoumaru-sama! I've brought you exactly what you asked for!" came Jaken's high-pitched, bellowing as he ran from the front of the palace back to Sesshoumaru. However, not as elegantly as the great demon lord. Jaken in his own clumsiness tripped over his own feet and fell flat on his face about 2 feet from Sesshoumaru, dropping the wrapped package as he went. "I'm so sorry, Milord!" Jaken apologized, scrambling to his feet and bowing multiple times. He ran and retrieved the fallen article and handed it to Sesshoumaru. "Here it is, Master Sesshoumaru. Are you certain you should really leave right now?" he questioned again, only to feel a hard fist meet the top of his head, leaving a nice-sized lump on it.

Sesshoumaru tossed his head and turned his back towards the imp demon. "These are but mere flesh will accompany me to Rin's village and you'll not speak a word about this battle nor my wounds. I'll not hear another word about it, understood Jaken?"

Jaken sighed, his shoulders slumping. "Yes, Milord."

No matter what kind of condition he was in, Sesshoumaru wasn't about to let Jaken, what was left of his clan or Rin especially, know that he was in pain. The demon lord ignored the intense throbbing in his side, putting all other matters out of his head except for one. Seeing Rin. "I'm going to fly," he told the little imp who squealed and jumped onto the tail end of Sesshoumaru's trailing fur. He ignored the blood that was spattering from his wounds and instead took to the air. It was nearing twilight and if he hurried, he'd reach the village by morning. He had promised Rin the last time he'd saw her that he would come back on the first day of the new month. It was nearing that day so quickly already and he had no time to lose.

Daybreak was rapidly approaching as the daiyoukai found himself back in familiar territory that was Rin's village. However today the sun could not be seen in the cloudy sky and thunder gently rumbled through the heavens above. Hmmm, I smell rain in the air. Sesshoumaru landed elegantly in the forest just outside of Rin's village and sat down against a tree. The flight had been long and he'd only just ended battle, not giving himself any time to reccoperate, but he had promised Rin. Even the great dog demon lord had to admit that this battle really had taken a lot of out of him. Even he became tired at times it would seem. "Jaken," began Sesshoumaru as the little imp hopped down from the great demon lord's fur. "You are to go Rin and Kaede's hut and escort her here to me. I wish not to see anybody else but her. When you bring her back here, you are to leave us in peace."

"Ah! Wha-but, Sire!" Jaken began in protest, his free hand balled into a tight fist, his giant, protruding eyes staring fixedly and quite shocked at the daiyoukai who sat before him.

"You'll do as I say, Jaken and there will be no argument about it," Sesshoumaru told him firmly, raising a fist in warning.

"Yes, Milord. I'm sorry for complaining! It'll never happen again. I'll go fetch Rin for you right away!" Jaken dashed off to the village, heading straight for her hut. "Rin!! RINNNN!" the little imp youkai called out. "Insolent child, Sesshoumaru-sama is waiting for you!"

"Oh!" exclaimed a voice from behind the slab of bamboo that was Kaede's door. "Is that you, Master Jaken!?"

"Yes it is, now hurry up! You musn't keep our Lord waiting any longer than he has to!" Jaken exploded.

"I'll be right there!" Rin called from behind the door. She peeked her head out and gazed down at the imp, obvious frustration and irritation emanating from him. "Oh Master Jaken it's wonderful to see you!" Rin exclaimed happily, leaning down to pick the little imp in her arms and hug him tightly.

"You silly girl! Let me down right this minute!" Jaken screeched, failling and wiggling in Rin's arms.

Rin laughed and set the little youkai down. "Oh Jaken, you never change do you?" She continued to laugh as she followed the imp to where Sesshoumaru would be waiting for her. How strange that he didn't come to directly to her hut this time and sent only Jaken. Rin shrugged her delicate shoulders and smoothed down the front of her butterfly kimono. It was her favourite one that Sesshoumaru had brought her months ago, and she wanted to wear it just for him. As the two walked over the bridge that led towards the forest, a voice called from behind them.

"Yo! Sesshoumaru is here, isn't he?" a familiar voice sounded and Rin and Jaken turned around to see Inuyasha standing at the end of the small bridge, his arms folded across his chest and looking moody.

"Yes he is, but he doesn't want to be bothered by the likes of you!" Jaken told him, waving his staff wildly about.

"Keh, I wasn't planning on visiting him. I could just smell his disgusting stench in the air," Inuyasha stated arrogantly. Along with the scent of his blood...he must've been wounded in some way. I can't help but wonder what the hell's going on?

"Well I'm sure he can't stand your horrific smell anymore than you can stand his!" Jaken shot back. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to take Rin to my master!"

"I'm sorry," smiled Rin at the hanyou. "I'll see you later, Inuyasha!" she waved happily and chased after Jaken. She followed him, her heart pounding significantly heavily in her chest with excitement at seeing him, apprehensiveness of what they may end up discussing and fear of what she might find out given they do talk. Rin remembered Kagome's words from the previous day, and she had spent a lot of the night thinking about what the miko had told her. Rin knew that the wise priestess was right. The young girl would tell him how she felt. There was no holding back now. Rin was broken from her train of sentiments when she realized that Jaken had been leading them into the forest. "Ummm, Jaken? Is Sesshoumaru-sama waiting for me in here?" she questioned, confused as the daiyoukai never usually had them meet in the forest but usually in the village. Something must be going on.

"Yes he is waiting for you," Jaken told the girl impatiently. "And as soon as we get there, I have to leave you two alone!"

"Oh, my! Well...I'm sorry, Master Jaken," Rin apologized, but her heart continued throbbing ever more faster. He wants to be alone with me? What could this mean?

Jaken stopped abruptly and scowled up at the lovely, young woman. However she wasn't looking at him. Her eyes were fixated on the picture of perfection leaning against a tree, his face turned upward towards the sky giving her a perfect, profile view. "Sesshoumaru-sama," Rin spoke softly as she slowly made her way towards him. He turned his head towards her warm, gentle voice and their eyes met.

"Jaken," the demon lord spoke up. "Leave us."

"Aye, Milord," the little imp agreed most reluctantly and bowed his head, backing out of the forest and disappearing from view.

Rin made her way over to the great dog demon and her brown eyes widened at the sight of his wounds. She placed her hands over her mouth, gasping. "Oh Sesshoumaru-sama...what happened to you? You're covered in cuts and bruises and blood!"

"I'm apologize to have come to you in a state such as this, Rin. If it repulses you, I'll take my leave," affirmed Sesshoumaru, his golden eyes never leaving Rin's. He couldn't help but feel a strong relief fall into place in his heart at seeing her. She looked so happy and healthy. Her scent was refreshing to breathe in and if he would've been anybody else, the demon lord would have smiled at her presence.

Rin fell to her knees beside her Lord and gently took his face in her hands. He winced ever so slightly but did not pull away as she looked over his wounds. "You've been in battle, haven't you?" the girl stated knowingly. "Your kimono is soaked with blood."

"Do not worry about it, Rin. I'm fine now. The bleeding has stopped anyway. These are just flesh wounds that will go away in the matter of a day," he told her reassuringly. The great dog demon rose slowly to his feet leaving the girl sitting on the forest floor. He walked towards some brush and looked up at the sky once more. "Rin?" he began.

"Yes, My Lord?" she replied softly, gazing at him as he turned his back, his long locks of hair flowing behind him as he walked.

"Hmmm," the great demon lord hummed, reaching into his kimono and pulling out a small, wrapped package. He handed it to the girl, clearly embarrased and not knowing what to say. He always became like this whenever he brought gifts for Rin, even after all these years.

"For me?" Rin asked him, her bright eyes dancing. "Thank you, Sesshoumaru-sama." He watched the girl untie the package with delicate fingers and watched her eyes light up as they fell onto the gift he'd so carefully picked out for her. It was a glass orb and inside was a frozen flower, filled with vibrancy of yellow and orange hues. "Oh it's beautiful Sesshoumaru-sama. Thank you so much!" the girl gasped happily. She could tell he really put some thought into this gift and that in itself meant a lot to her.

"I felt it suited you. It reminded me of the sunshine and the sunshine reminds me of you," he told her. "I'm glad that you like it."

"Oh I love it. I promise to take good care of it," Rin acceded, admiring the gift she held gently in her hands. "I've never seen such a beautiful flower."

"I hope you have been faring well here," the daiyoukai interrupted softly, still not quite sure on what to say to really express these strange feelings he'd began having about her just a couple of years ago. Within this past year, the feelings had intensified. Every demon or human woman who'd tried to take his hand or become his mistress, he'd ended up turning away. The only one on his mind was Rin. He no interest in bedding another woman, be she demon or human. He had no desire to bare offspring with another. Sesshoumaru truly had become like his father. What would the court say when he returned if Rin was accompaning him? If he took Rin for his wife? But then he remembered the ferocious battle he'd just been engaged in the day previous and thought about Rin's safety once more. No, I cannot ask her to come back with me. It would be wrong. She would be put in danger and I will not allow that to happen to her again. I will not lose her the way I almost did years ago.

"Umm, things have been okay I suppose," the young woman replied softly, staring down at the soft, green grass below her bare feet. "Kagome has taught me a lot about medicinal herbs and I sometimes help her collect them. I also help her brew them if somebody is injured or sick. I've accompanied her on trips, watched her fight and perform purifications against youkai that might attack the village, so I've grown pretty close to her," Rin blurted out, not really sure what might be appropriate to speak about. Her usual nervousness had taken over.

"Rin, I want to ask you a simple question," Sesshoumaru began, still not turning to face her. His head was still upturned towards the sky. "Are you happy here?"

"Wha-what?" RIn stammered, certainly not expecting this question from Sesshoumaru of all people. "I, well...I suppose it's alright here. I mean, I-I..."

"Say what it is you want to say," the daiyoukai demanded gently.

Rin sighed in defeat. There was no sense in holding back now. "I've been doing a lot of thinking, she began timidly. "I've realized that I am now a grown woman. When you brought me here, Sesshoumaru-sama, I was told that it would be my choice. That if I spent enough time here I could decide if I wanted to stay in a human village or if my path would lead me to you and I could spend the remainder of my life by your side. I've made my decision," the girl told him. She balled her small fists up at her side and lifted her head, her eyes piercing into his back. "I want to go with you, Sesshoumaru-sama."

A stillness filled the air. Sesshoumaru did not respond. His heart had began to pound in his chest accompanied by one pang after another. A pang that longed for Rin to be by his side again, walking together once more, but he knew that deep down it just couldn't happen. A gentle rain began to fall from the skies, but Rin and Sesshoumaru paid it no mind. All that mattered now was that Sesshoumaru had realized what Rin wanted, but at the same time he couldn't allow it. There were constant battles surrounding his land. What would happen if Rin was used against him, taken from him, wounded or even killed while he was in the heat of battle and not able to protect her? No, he could not allow that danger to befall such a beautiful and delicate creature.

"Sesshoumaru-sama?" Rin inquired softly, still staring at his back.

"You can't, Rin," he spoke flatly, still not able to look at her. "You cannot come with me."

Rin took a few steps backward, staring at the back of her Lord in disbelief, terror rapidly tearing into her heart. Rin could feel the strength leaving her legs and she turned her back towards Sesshoumaru, dropping to her knees in the already wet grass. It didn't matter now anyway. Nothing mattered. Sesshoumaru had made his choice, and it was the choice that Rin was not allowed to come with him. The one thing she'd dreaded to hear. The one thing that would either make or break her. She should've prepared herself for this, but she hadn't and now she was cracking, breaking into a thousand tiny shards, much like the Shikon no Tama had years and years ago. The orb had rolled out of her hands and into the grass aways away.

The young woman knew that it was possible she may not be able to go with him, but Rin had gotten her hopes up over nothing. It was probably just as she feared. He'd found somebody else. Rin's eyes began burning and filling with relentless tears and she could no longer hold them back. Rin allowed herself to cry, but tried not to let herself by heard by his keen hearing. It just couldn't be helped now. Her whole world, her reason for living had just came crashing down around her. Rin could no longer control the flood of emotions that poured into her like a rapid waterfall.

Sesshoumaru closed his eyes painfully, keeping himself turned away from Rin and then re-opened them as the scent of rain invaded his senses as well as the scent of salt...Rin's tears. Rin... He had made her cry. Did she truly long for him that much? He did not understand why when she had friends here and was safe. Sesshoumaru looked over his shoulder to see the young woman collapsed onto her knees, weeping quietly and another pang filled his heart. "Rin, why do you cry?" The daiyoukai inquired gently. "There is no reason for it, is there?"

"There's plenty of reason for it," Rin replied tremulously. "I can't understand why you haven't realized or why you don't understand or even acknowledge it."

"Rin, don't you understand? Do you not see my wounds? My territory is surrounded in constant battle. If any demons were to get word I've taken you as my wife, what do you think will happen then? They'll attack you. They'll come after you and if I can't be there to protect you...," his voice trailed off. The demon lord had said a lot more than he wanted to, but why did it matter really? They were alone now anyway. Sesshoumaru slowly turned and began walking over to Rin. He made his way to the front of the girl and knelt down on one knee, sliding one clawed finger underneath her chin and lifting her tear-assaulted face up towards his, golden eyes piercing her own. "I can't let you die, Rin," the usually calm, cold and collected demon lord admitted. "If you were to come with me, there is a chance you could be killed."

"And there's always a chance I could be killed in a human village too, Sesshoumaru-sama!" Rin exclaimed through her tears. The rain was still falling at a steady downpour, but Rin did not remove her gaze from the dog demon's golden one. "Have you not forgotten what happened to my village when I was a child? Bandits attacked it. My entire family were all killed. My parents were older than I am now and they were still slaughtered right in front of me! How do you know that something like that wouldn't happen in this village? What about sickness? Something could always happen to me, I could always die from some strange illness. No matter where I am, Sesshoumaru-sama, there's always going to be that risk of me dying. It doesn't matter!"

Sesshoumaru had released his grip on Rin's shoulders, his eyes widening now as he absorbed in Rin's words. She was right. What difference would there be if she were to go with him or not? If Rin were to die, he'd want her to die with him by her side or at least close to him. He wouldn't want her to die in this village without him there, him not knowing Rin had died and then showing up for one of his visits only to learn she had passed away. The very thought upset him immensely and the great demon lord clenched his teeth, bowing his head. He wasn't really sure what to say, but everything that the young woman had just explained to him was right. She was right and he was wrong. Clenching his fists so tightly he could feel his claws digging into his flesh, the daiyoukai rose to his feet turning away from her. "So then, you wish to come with me?"

Rin's tears had slowed and she stared up once more at the back of her Lord. "Yes, I do... I want to be with you," she told him with shaky tones. "I don't want to stay here anymore. I'm not happy here. Kagome, Inuyasha and Kaede have been wonderful to me, but something has been missing this whole time and it's been you," she told him, rising to her feet as well and making her way towards him. Rin grasped his arm. "Please, turn around and look at me," Rin spoke in an almost inaudible voice. "Sesshoumaru-sama..."

Sesshoumaru turned back to face Rin once more and was surprised at first as the young woman reached her arms up to his neck and wrapped them slowly around him, pulling her closer to him. Their faces inched closer and closer to one another before he found himself just centimeters away from her lips. Rin didn't hesitate any longer as she leaned up more and pulled his face down to meet his soft lips in a gentle kiss. The daiyoukai was shocked at first, not expecting what the young woman just done, but he soon relaxed, his cold exterior completely breaking now ,and he allowed himself to undwind and be completely tranquilized by her and fall into the kiss, enjoying the feel of her pink, velvety lips meeting his, her essence filling him, her taste. Rin...if this is what you truly want, then so be it. It's what I want as well, and so let's make our life together.

The rain had begun to slow as the two pulled back from their long kiss and then embraced one another. Sesshoumaru didn't know how long he had been standing there holding her like this, but it didn't matter. It was as if time had completely stopped, frozen for this moment so these two could indulge themselves in one another. As soon as they let go, Rin gazed up into his face, her tears stopped now. "So? Can I please, Sesshoumaru-sama? Can I go with you and be by your side again?"

"Hmmm," the daiyoukai hummed as he gently and softly ran his clawed fingertips down the side of her face. "Let's go home, Rin."