Disclaimer: I do not own the Inuyasha series or any of the characters.

Summary: After leaving Rin in Kaede's village, Sesshoumaru worries. But is it really necessary? One Shot.


Demon Child

To say that Sesshoumaru was worried would be ridiculous. Vaguely concerned, perhaps, but one of his stature had no need for worry. This was not to say that he hadn't had his doubts about leaving Rin in the village his half-brother called home. The child was in his charge, so it was only right that he should appraise her living conditions from time to time, to ensure that her situation was satisfactory.

The moment he'd resurrected her, her life had become his responsibility, as surely as if he'd created it himself. She might not be of his blood, but he'd given her life with full knowledge of what he was doing. How did that differ so much from purposely begetting an heir? The resulting responsibility was the same. He often wondered if his father had taken this into account when he'd commissioned the Tenseiga. He suspected it had been intentional.

In any case, a responsibility such as this didn't end simply because he'd decided that she should stay here and learn to live among humans. And that responsibility included ensuring that his decision remained appropriate for her development.

Worry had nothing to do with it. Or so he told himself.

A full cycle of the moon had passed since he'd "left" her here. In truth, he'd rarely strayed more than 10 ri from the village in that time — an inconsequential distance for his speed to overcome should he need to. And although he never let Rin see him, he had returned to check on her several times already. Sometime later, when she was more settled, he would visit with her. For now, she needed to learn to live like a human without his interference. Someday, she would have to decide what sort of life she wished to lead. Staying in this village, at least for a time, would keep her options open.

So, Sesshoumaru told himself that his presence among the trees outside the village was purely business. Which didn't explain why he was glaring and puncturing his palms with his own claws.

"Back again, are ya?"

Sesshoumaru didn't bother sparing Inuyasha a glance as the hanyou sauntered through the trees towards Sesshoumaru. He kept his eyes fixed on the scene before him and tried to pretend his brother wasn't there.

"That's twice this week," Inuyasha continued, venturing closer to peer around Sesshoumaru so he could see what his brother was watching. "We haven't eaten her, you know."

It was a weak joke, in Sesshoumaru's opinion, but it was more humour than Inuyasha had displayed since his miko had gone, so Sesshoumaru magnanimously decided to forgive him.

"Keh!" Inuyasha sounded irritated. "Are those brats up to their same old tricks again? They're sure getting bold."

From where they stood, they had a perfect view of Kaede's hut, where Rin was attempting to do chores while the elderly miko was presumably out tending to the villagers. The tasks were not going very smoothly, mostly due to two boys who were loitering nearby, harassing Rin. They had been pestering Rin for a while now, taunting her while she tried not to react. They weren't the first to do so, but they were quickly becoming the most daring and offensive. What had begun as a subtle shunning by many of the village children had slowly escalated over the past month, and few of the adults had been stirring themselves to intervene.

These two boys were not much older than Rin, but they were a good deal larger than her, and they seemed to delight in tormenting her. Pudgy and Bucktooth, Sesshoumaru had privately named them. Although, if he had been honest with himself, he might have admitted that Pudgy was only truly fat compared to his scrawny accomplice, and Bucktooth's overbite probably wouldn't be very noticeable once his face grew to match his adult teeth. But even then, they would still be ugly due to their dull and thuggish personalities. In any case, they were the complete opposites of Rin, who was clever and pretty and gentle and respectful. Sesshoumaru suspected that they were jealous. He knew from personal experience that being so perfect could be a burden.

Rin was clearly trying to ignore the teasing, but Sesshoumaru could tell that it bothered her greatly. He longed to maim the two fools, but that would hardly promote any good will towards Rin among the villagers.

"What's the matter, demon girl?" Bucktooth taunted, as Rin weeded the garden. "Can't you talk?"

"She's too stuck up to talk to us," Pudgy declared.

Rin didn't cease her work, but she finally answered her tormentors. "Rin does not like to talk to people who are rude," she said quietly.

Sesshoumaru didn't like her meek tone. It was unlike her, and it bothered him that she should act this way in the face of her detractors.

"Oh, we're not polite enough for you, demon girl?" Pudgy mocked. "Do you think you're too good for us real humans?"

"Why are you even here?" Bucktooth asked. "You don't belong here. Go back to your youkai friends, demon girl!"

"She can't go back, can she?" Pudgy commented, grinning maliciously. "'Cuz her youkai friends left her here. Do you know why they left you here, demon girl? It's 'cuz you're so ugly they didn't want to look at you anymore!"

Rin stood up abruptly. "Rin needs to get more water for Kaede-sama."

She walked away into the old miko's hut, her back very stiff. Her tormentors remained outside, snickering as they waited.

Beside Sesshoumaru, Inuyasha huffed in disappointment. "I thought for a minute that she was going to tell them off," he muttered. "If she'd just stand up for herself, they might back off."

Sesshoumaru said nothing. He was too busy trying to keep his temper contained. He was certain that Rin could find a way without his aid. She was resourceful and endearing. Surely someone apart from Inuyasha's friends would come to her aid in a show of support.

Rin emerged from the hut carrying two wooden buckets and headed for the small brook that flowed beside the miko's hut.

"Demon girl!" called Bucktooth, following behind her with his fat friend.

Rin ignored them as she filled the buckets and began to carry them back. When she had almost reached the safety of the hut, Bucktooth ran up behind her and knocked the buckets out of her hands, spilling the water on the ground.

Rin froze, clenching her fists and keeping her head down.

"What's the matter? Too scared to say anything?" Pudgy heckled.

Rin's voice was very quiet. "There are two of you and only one of Rin. You must be very scared of Rin, if it takes two of you to be mean to me."

The boys were stunned for a moment, then started to laugh.

"Scared? Of you? Stupid demon girl! You're the coward. You're just a little baby. Why don't you go cry to your youkai friends?"

Rin turned her back and started to walk away, leaving the buckets on the ground.

"Hey, demon girl, we're talking to you!" Pudgy said, and he reached out and shoved Rin to the ground.

A snarl ripped its way from Sesshoumaru's throat, but he was too far for any of the children to hear him. It took all his willpower to refrain from going to Rin's rescue. She must find a way to coexist. Someone besides his brother or his brother's friends must show Rin some acceptance, or this would all be fruitless. Surely now one of the adults would take notice and step in.

But no one intervened, although Sesshoumaru was certain that at least a few of the adults in the village must have noticed the commotion. Several children had definitely taken notice, and they were watching the scene with interest from a distance. But the adults weren't being of any use. Stupid humans and their stupid herd mentality. Why was it that on the one occasion when it would have been welcome for them to stick their noses into things, they decided that it was someone else's problem?

Resigned, Sesshoumaru made to step forward. It appeared that he would have to rescue Rin after all. This whole idea had been for naught.

Inuyasha had the audacity to grab his sleeve and yank back on it. Sesshoumaru pinned him with a nasty glare.

"Wait," Inuyasha said, watching as Rin slowly got to her feet and attempted to retreat once more. "She ain't hurt. Let her handle it."

"See?" Pudgy commented as Rin continued towards the hut. "She isn't gonna do anything. She's a coward!"

Rin dropped her head a little more as she kept walking, her posture increasingly tense.

"Just like her coward youkai friends!" Bucktooth crowed.

Rin froze in her tracks, her head coming up and her back straightening. The tension was rising. Sesshoumaru could tell that she was clearly on the verge of tears, though he could not see her face.

"I told her that she's gotta fight back." Inuyasha commented under his breath. "They'll never respect her if people keep saving her."

Sesshoumaru scoffed inwardly. Inuyasha simply didn't understand Rin the way he did.

"It is not in Rin's nature to be confrontational," he deigned to inform his brother. "She will not…"

Then he lapsed into stunned silence as he watched Rin break Bucktooth's nose.

"RIN IS NOT A COWARD!" she shrieked. "AND NEITHER IS SESSHOUMARU-SAMA!"

And when Pudgy overcame his surprise and rushed forward to the aid of his friend, he found himself confronted with a whirling dervish of scratches, punches, bites and kicks. When Bucktooth stopped his wailing, he waded in to join the fray, but even two-on-one, it was impossible to withstand a creature that was so relentless in its attack, especially when said creature seemed impervious to pain.

It was the most beautiful thing Sesshoumaru had ever seen.

Inuyasha was doubled over, laughing his foolish head off.

"I might'a taught her a couple things," he admitted, wheezing. "Like how to throw a decent punch."

Sesshoumaru kept his eyes fixed on Rin. "And the ferocity?" he asked softly, feeling a twitch at the corner of his mouth.

"Nah. That came natural."

"Indeed."

A rare smile was growing on his lips as he savoured the sight of Pudgy shrieking like a girl and Bucktooth blubbing for his mother. And now the adults had finally intervened, and the two boys were alternately getting their ears blistered for ganging up on a small girl, and being mocked for being so thoroughly trounced by the same small girl.

And there stood Rin, glaring and panting, teeth bared and fists clenched. Her cheek was rapidly turning purple, her lip was bleeding, and her knuckles were red and starting to swell, but she was undefeated.

Sesshoumaru had never been so pleased to have to eat his words.

"Heh heh," Inuyasha snickered gleefully. "Easy to tell who she takes after. She fights like a demon."

::Owari::


Translations:
Ri – old Japanese measurement of distance, equal to roughly 4 kilometers (~2.5 miles)
Hanyou – half demon
Miko – Shinto priestess/shrine maiden
Youkai - demon

A/N: This story, rather than being one of the ones that I've been working on for months, came into my head very suddenly and was written and edited over the course of only two evenings. Hopefully not too many errors crept in. Send me a message if you spot any so I can correct them. It seemed like an amusing idea to me, so I hope you all find it enjoyable.

I have another one-shot written that only needs edited before I post it, so look forward to that within the next few days (assuming all goes well).

I just posted a new Inuyasha AMV on my YouTube channel as well. If you like Sesshoumaru, check out "Sesshoumaru Doesn't Care" and let me know what you think. The link to my channel is on my profile page. I look forward to your feedback!