Here is the sequel, as I promised. Just a one-shot thatch seemed better than letting it drag on. I hope you enjoy!
"Across the Oaks"
The air of winter was fresh and soothing. The ground blanketed with patches of snow. The trees now bare with only the dripping water that froze on their branches to decorate them.
A lone mahogany brown bitch with eyes of rich chocolate surveyed her new surroundings, her paws making a soundless track on the white snow. Her ears were erect, alert for any danger. Her nose taking in the newness of the area. So far she was the only wolf to cross this mountainside.
The day was quickly ending. The western sky bright with the pink and purples of a winter sunset. The lone female quickly scouted for a suitable shelter for the night and once finding a small abandoned burrow, settled in and watched from the safety and warmth of a half underground shelter.
Rin gazed out at the wintry woods, loving how empty but beautiful it became. Her winter coat protected her from the brisk winds and the chilliness of the falling snow. And from her viewpoint and the lack of any sound, there was an approaching storm on its way. Glad she was able to find such a small but suitable place to sleep for the night, the 12 year old female let out a breath.
As it grew darker Rin closed her eyes and thoughts of her family came racing in. Her parents still ruled the Musashi Woods at the foot of the mountain. Her two brothers were expelled due to an increasing risk of them challenging for the alpha position. Last she heard of Souta was that he was out there, somewhere still surviving possibly looking to court a lone female bitch. And Shippou, well according to Kikyou who saw him last, was doing fairly well and was already establishing his own pack with a black female, pregnant with his pups. Kikyou left the pack by her own will soon before she herself did. Her rogue sister challenged and failed to overtake their father for alpha and was unable to remain in the pack any longer. With the exception of picking up faint traces of her scent once in a while, Rin hasn't seen her sister since.
Shiori herself was doing well. Apparently before she left the wintry white female was trying to be courted by a rogue male following the pack. The Musashi alpha was having none of it. And judging by how Shiori was acting, it was possible that she would be with pup if she isn't already.
The reason the Rin left was for a simple reason. After everything that happened with her now human pack sister, she was curious about leading her own life, away from her pack. Though she questioned and doubted if leaving was the right decision, her mother understood her need. Her family was all she knew and she was afraid to leave the security and safety in numbers her pack held. Although she wasn't hundreds of miles away from her pack, Rin was out further than she's ever been.
In fact, it was after the last visit with Kagome and her mate that Rin really delved into such an idea.
It was just in the beginnings of summer. The flowers were sweet in the air, the woods fragrant with their blossoms. The birds and squirrels were dancing and frolicking amongst themselves in the leave covered branches above them. The water that ran alongside them was cool and refreshing. Above the canopy the sky was a beautiful blue, cloudless and cheery.
Today was a special day. For today, Kagome and her mate InuYasha were to visit after five long moons. The past winter was brutally cold, thus preventing the couple from staying too long. And plus it was risky for Kagome.
Akio and his alpha female Masako were anxious to see their eldest pup. After hearing and smelling the news of their last visit, the two eldest wolves couldn't wait to see them. It took them some time to get used to the strange smelling male that was Kagome's mate. But his scent of oranges and mountain air held no threat or evil intentions. Rin and Shiori were happy too. Kikyou was still adamant about being too friendly with the humans but she was secretly curious and somewhat more relaxed after about three years of constant visits.
Souta and Shippou, who were both considered rogue came back only to see their human sister. It was the only time the alpha male allowed them to return among the pack.
And relaxing by the river, Rin was on the lookout for the familiar scents. Often it was her who escorted her sister and mate to the pack. But as her ears and nose picked the approaching humans, Shiori and Shippou were way ahead of her.
"It's them! It's them!" "They're here!" The two siblings shouted. And just like two bullets they disappeared among the colorful woods.
Rin sighed, wondering where on earth those two got their energy from. They were the most rambunctious pups in the pack. Excited herself, she also stood and paced back and forth. "I'm so excited, mama, papa! I can't wait to see them! It's been such a long winter hasn't it?"
"That it has, Rin. That it has." Masako nuzzled her daughter.
"I hope it'll be a summer day we all won't forget." The male Akio said as he approached Rin's other side. "Kagome has grown so much. And I must admit, she looks happier than I've ever seen her."
Kikyou, drinking from the river, licked her chops clean before speaking. "I know. Why she chose humanity above wolf hood is still puzzling to me and always will. But even I can see that sparkle that human male put there that wasn't there before. He seems to make her smile and laugh."
Rin, somewhat shocked at her sister's increasing acceptance of the human couple, turned abruptly to the approaching black wolf. "Why Kikyou, there is some trace of good in you after all."
Blue eyes narrowed at her sister. "Oh?"
"Oh come off it, sister. It's all good. You now know Rin loves to tease." The burly black-brown wolf that was Souta came from behind them.
After huffing, the biggest female pup went to a nearby tree and sat in the shade, eyes still narrowed teasingly at her litter mate.
It was only minutes later before Shippou came barreling through with his shimmering sandy coat and bushy tale , his tail wagging and tongue lolling out his mouth. "They're almost here!"
All of them were now wagging their tails, the pack yipping and barking in joy at the approaching pair, being led by the small female Shiori. As soon as the shy yet energetic Shiori walked over the log that blocked in the clearing, some branches were lifted and soon Kagome was carefully over the log followed by her silver-haired mate.
All the wolves could smell the new scent coming from the bundle in Kagome's arms. The two adults had a smile as they greeted their animal family. Even though he was born human, after getting to know them and spending time around them, thanks to Kagome he was considered part of their "pack."
"Hey you guys. How's everyone?" Even as she spoke the human language, all the wolves could understand her and communicate via wolf line, like they've always done.
"Kagome dear, how was the birth?" Masako walked over as Kagome was being helped to kneel on the soft summer grass, careful to make sure her precious cargo was secure.
"You look healthy, Kagome? I expect you're well?" Akio
"We want to see our newest member!" Shippou
"Is it a he or she?" Souta
Holding up a hand, she silenced them all. "Yes, everyone I'm fine." Looking up to her husband, she held a hand for him to sit beside her. InuYasha obliged happily and hugged his joyous wife around her waist. "We had a baby girl back two full moons ago, in early April." Slowly she uncovered the baby's head, revealing a soft layer of moon silver hair, like her fathers. And soon after, the little girl's eyes opened to reveal a stunning sight. Unlike her mother's, which were clear as crystal, the baby's had several tiny specks of sun gold, courtesy of InuYasha. "We called her InuMika. InuMika Cho Taisho."
The alpha pair gazed at the infant, stunned at the beauty the child possessed. While she was no wolf pup, Mika was still considered their first grand-pup.
Rin walked over and peered at the two month babe. "Kagome, she's beautiful. She even has your nose."
"Yeah but other than that, she takes right after her father."
"Yeah, but she has your temperament." He added, a teasing smirk on his face.
"Oh right, like she doesn't make the same face you do when you're hungry. You are so full of it!"
And that's how the day went. Kagome and InuYasha introduced InuMika to her clan, one by one. Although Kikyou was still adamant about getting anywhere near the humans, she managed to get a good look at the babe, noticing how alike she was to her sire. Rin was nowhere close to shy as she bonded with the two month old Mika. And Mika, although wary of the different muzzles and eyes on her, her fear and whimpers slowly faded the more she realized that she was safe in her parent's arms.
"Hey, sister? Can I talk to you alone?" Rin asked.
With a nod, she handed her daughter to her husband, where he proceeded to sit Indian style and let himself be surrounded by his "in-laws" and fellow relatives. She got up and walked alongside her pack sister a ways until they were a far enough distance away but still within seeing range of the pack and new father.
The memory in the wolf's mind replayed those moments as she sat with Kagome. They were the closest to each other. Rin always had her sister's back, while Kagome always defended her. So it wasn't hard to spill out all the questions and thoughts about change. The human woman said change won't come to you unless you make the effort and stick with whatever happens. It's about taking chances in life. You want something, you have to be willing to accept whatever happens along the way. And she was a prime example.
"As long as you strive for it, continue to dream and pursue it, you can do and be anything. Changes are unknown, but they won't happen unless you make them happen."
Her words were strong. And it sparked something within her wolf heart.
A sudden scent on the wind caused the she-wolf to stand. Musk, cedar leaves… and animal blood.
It was far and distant but not threatening. Laying back down, Rin remained alert for a few more hours until the clouds started bringing snowflakes. Only then did she sleep, concealed by the drifting precipitation.
That scent was everywhere the further she traveled, like it was following her. The next morning a new blanket of snow covered the landscape, sparkling beauty and new icicle formations on the branches above. It reeked of freshness, a new start and full of promise. From the lingering odor and some new tracks, new wolf tracks that were not her own, bigger compared to hers Rin concluded that this newcomer was a male.
And it wasn't until a few days later as she stopped for a quick drink at a small stream did she catch sight of the big male. Rin stood stock still as a big, burly, well-muscled silver-white wolf strode through the trees, confidence and strength in his every step. His eyes, a combination of many shades of yellow eyed her as he approached the icy stream.
And Rin discovered he easily towered over her. Her head barely reached his shoulder. The female stood her ground, not afraid but a little intimidated by the size of the male.
"Why do you not cower?"
The she-wolf was startled by his voice. Deep, powerful, confident, strong. His tone was accusing , like he was expecting her submit to him because he was the male.
"Should I cower? I have no reason to. You're not in control of me." Rin might be small and less muscular than this strange beast but that was no reason to stand down. So she remained tall, fearless of him.
His magical eyes stared her down with slight irritation and puzzlement. "You do not fear me, bitch?"
Her hackles rose a bit. "Why should I?" Her mouth revealed her razor teeth, her ears starting to lower in anger.
"This is my territory, bitch. You will not come and expect me to let you pass through without incident." Inwardly he was amazed by the smaller wolf's bravery. She was not backing down. Any other would know not to mess with him. "I am not here to harm you bitch but this Sesshomaru warns you should tread with caution while in another wolf's territory."
"My name is Rin." Her darkening gaze narrowed, not willing to relax just yet. She would not give in to his demands.
"Rin. Well Rin, you do well to heed my advice. Not many other males would simply let a bitch get away with such behavior." The silver male stepped forward. "However, if you're in need of a place to call your own… this part of the mountain has had not many stragglers or rogues for quite some time."
Her snarling ceased the moment he said it. Did he just say what she thought he did? "What are you saying?"
The silver beast turned away, ready to leave. "I'm saying- and I will not repeat myself again, that you're welcome to stay here if you'd like." Taking a couple steps he stopped again. "And I apologize for coming upon you so harshly."
The small brown female was something else. Never had a wolf stood up to him before, in his own domain. This bitch had such spirit it astounded him. Small though she was, the bitch called Rin didn't look like one to roll over in submission easily. With a female that held no fear of him, maybe… just maybe...
The mahogany colored wolf stared at his retreating form. First he demands why she doesn't submit to him and now he apologizes and offers her a chance to stay here… with him. The she-wolf didn't get this mysterious stranger. He came off as bold and powerful. But was he really?
Even though they got off on the wrong foot, maybe Rin could see herself here, living in a different part of the mountains, where winter was as magnificent here as its lone male resident.
He seemed like a mystery. A big one. And she was nothing if not determined and bold herself. If she could handle her brothers and litter sister Kikyou, then there was no way she would be put off or scared away by this handsome stud.
'Stud? I did not just think that! I can't stand him!' But was that the truth, really?
Shaking her head, deciding to ponder on her sudden change in attitude to Sesshomaru- wincing as she thought it was a unique and quite dashing name- she made her decision and quickly galloped to catch up to him to walk alongside him.
'Maybe change won't be so terrifying after all.'
The silver male was slightly surprised to hear her running up to walk beside him. Never did he expect her to actually consider his offer. This female called Rin was more than a pretty bitch to look at, but she looked like she was one not to completely bend to his whims and roll over on her back. She looked like a fighter, stubborn and bold. Like himself
Maybe the challenge to keep her at his side was worth risking his lifetime vow of solitude.
And looking into her shimmering rich brown eyes, Sesshomaru knew that he would be okay with that.