Two chapters in two days! I hope you'll like that one.
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Chapter 12 Apologies
Sesshomaru sighed. Rin was still Rin, no matter how many years had passed. She was still that foolish human who couldn't see the real danger of her situation. She couldn't worry about herself first, for the others would always be more important than her.
He'd to admit he was a little offended by her actions, offended that she'd be so quick to worry about others before worrying about him. Why hadn't she questioned his presence? Because, he guessed, her thoughts were entirely turned to her clan. He had to hold back a frustrated growl, then finally let it out when he couldn't bear her nonsense any longer.
Where did she think she'd go in her condition? She could barely sit properly and yet she already wanted to walk away, away from him. Had he lost his importance to her? Was he no more than the demon who had saved her then left her in the care of somebody else when she was a kid? Couldn't she see past that latter action? Couldn't she see how much he cared about her?
His outburst – quite controlled in fact– quieted her, for several seconds at least.
"By the way," Rin sheepishly murmured, turning her eyes back to him, "Lord Sesshomaru why are you by my side?"
"Lay back and I explain."
"I think it's better if-"
"Lay back Rin."
She grimaced. She still didn't like to displease him.
He welcomed her on his lap, it was more comfortable than the ground, and started to think about how he was going to explain what he was supposed to explain.
Sesshomaru was aware Rin wasn't a child any more, and it wasn't in his habits to beat around the bush, but he was reluctant to tell her everything, to tell her about the conspiracy – although she seemed to know a lot about it. He wished he could still protect her innocence. An innocence which had obviously already been damaged.
"What do you remember?"
Rin closed her eyes, bothered by the shining sun above her. He instinctively moved to hide her from the light and was rewarded when her features relaxed.
"I was bleeding, I had a bite on my side," her hand automatically went to her bandaged wound. "The last thing I recall is my fall. I was falling to the ground and then, then nothing else, only darkness."
He nodded. Lord Sesshomaru hadn't changed, he was still not a man of many words, it'd have made her smile if she wasn't so worried.
"I caught you before you hit the ground. I'd been warned there was a battle going on. I'd sent Jaken to meet Lady Natsuko, I fear he might not have reached her in time, not at all in fact. He is missing. I was looking for him when I smelt your scent instead of his, your blood to be exact."
He wrinkled his nose. He loathed that scent. Her blood was an awful odour indeed, one which had roused a feeling he wasn't accustomed to: panic.
"Then I left the battlefield with you. You were going to die if nothing was done to her wounds. I tended to them as well as I could. And you took the medicinal herbs, I think your condition will quickly improve."
"Thank you," she awkwardly bowed.
"I went back to the battlefield," he continued, "when I was certain you wouldn't wake up. There, I saw many corpses, from both sides, but there was nobody to speak with, nobody to interrogate, for all the living souls had already left the place."
Rin shivered. Neither cold or pain were responsible, but fear, fear her friends might belong to the corpses. However she couldn't ask Lord Sesshomaru if he had seen them. She'd have to verify by herself. Therefore she had to get up. As if he'd guessed her thoughts, Sesshomaru's hands pressed a little harder on her shoulders.
"If you tell me where you want to go, I'll take you there," he said.
"The battlefield," she immediately replied.
"Except there," he retorted. She didn't need to witness such a slaughter.
Rin shook her head. "I must go there. I must see if... if..." the words died in her throat. What would she do if her friends were dead?
"I can take you back to your camp. You'll see there who belongs to the victims."
"No!" Rin exclaimed.
Sesshomaru raised an eyebrow at her. Years ago she'd have never dared act thus in his presence.
"I can't," she said in a lowlier voice. "I need my mind to be clear if I want to be useful to Lady Natsuko. If they're dead... I would rather know it before going back to the camp. Thus, I'll be able to act with composure." She shut her eyes then looked in his. "Please."
"It's not something pleasant to see," he tried to dissuade her.
"I've seen worse," she lowered her head, memories of the ruins which had once been villages full of life flooding back her mind. "I'm certain I've seen worse."
Her voice was barely above a whisper. She remembered the little girl, her mutilated body, her blood, the way she was clinging to what was left of a doll... She almost retched.
"Please," she repeated. "Please take me there."
"You won't change your mind."
Rin acquiesced although it hadn't been a question. Sesshomaru held back a sigh, how could he have forgotten her stubbornness.
"Well. How do you feel?"
She tentatively moved her limbs, then sat up – his arms still ready to support her. No pain being roused by her actions, she assured she was all right.
"You know the pain is still there. The medicinal herbs only ease it, they don't erase it. I don't know how long it'll work." He hoped she'd decide to wait a while longer, giving him enough time to find a way to change her mind.
"It won't take long to see if they're... well, it'd be better to leave immediately."
She suddenly lowered her head. She hadn't meant to be so impolite to him. "I'm sorry Lord Sesshomaru, once again I owe you my life and yet I'm just asking more from you. I'm sorry. I know it's awfully disrespectful," she said in a murmur, not daring to meet his eyes.
Rin was ashamed. She'd meant to apologise and to thank him, not to ask favours from him.
"I apologise," she continued, she might as well do it now, who knew how long he'd stay by her side. "I apologise for all I dared think about you. I should have realised you were protecting me. But I... I was so... it'd been so hard to be separated from you. I felt... I feel like I've not been myself since then. Still now, I... I'm terribly sorry." She chose to put an end to her nonsense.
No word existed to describe her feelings, her pain, her shame. She'd been a kid when he'd left her, a kid unable to untangle herself from her sorrow. A kid anger had taken control of. Rin had faced death before, pain too, but none of her previous experiences could match what she'd gone through at that time.
"I'm sorry," she said again, "because I doubted you. My faith should have been stronger. I should have known better than to accuse you of abandon. I'm ashamed." She fell silent.
Her eyes hadn't left the ground, but Sesshomaru guessed she was on the verge of crying.
Her words had gone straight to his heart, and a huge relief was overwhelming him. No matter what she'd felt before, the most important was what she was feeling now. Sorry, ashamed, he could tell her faith in him had been long recovered. He didn't need to hear it, for his heart was certain of it.
"I'm sorry my Lord!" she cried at the same time. "I doubted you when I shouldn't have. After all you have done for me... I'm sorry!"
To hear her anguish made him forget all about his reserve. He pulled her into a tight embrace, her head came to rest against his chest, her hands on his arms which were carefully holding her – her wounds hadn't left his mind.
"Don't speak," he murmured.
She closed her mouth and did likewise with her eyes. How good it felt to be in his arms!
In the safety of his embrace, no worry could reach her, nothing could hurt her. She was safe, safe and happy. If only it could last...
"We need to go my Lord," she reluctantly reminded him. Reluctantly indeed, when what she desired the most was to never leave him.
"It's not Lord Sesshomaru any more?"
She moved away and he smirked when he caught sight of her reddened cheeks. It was so natural for her to call him my Lord - as natural as being in his arms seemed to be.
"I'll carry you in my arms," he decided. "I doubt you'll be able to stay on my back, let alone run by my side."
Rin nodded, her blush furiously deepening.
No more words were exchanged as he lifted her up. She buried her head in his hair, her arms around his neck, hoping he couldn't feel how fast her heart was beating. Though she wasn't so naïve as to think it'd go unnoticed. Lord Sesshomaru always knew everything and, had she raised her head to look at his face, she'd have seen how right she was for the smile on his lips couldn't be mistaken.
Lord Sesshomaru was satisfied, very satisfied indeed by the flutters of her heart. It was the evidence, more than anything else, of his importance to her. To know he could still affect her meant no indifference was to be feared from her part.
However, all satisfaction left him as they came closer to the battlefield. He stopped them before she could have a sight of what the place had become.
"Rin," he began. "Are you sure?"
She nodded against his chest.
"I don't know what you've seen before, but that, that might be too much. One word and we leave the place straight away."
His voice sounded emotionless, but Rin knew better than to be offended by his apparent coldness. The way his arms had tightened around her was all she needed to be comforted. He wasn't acting on duty. He wasn't acting thus towards her because he felt obliged to.
"I want to see it," she murmured.
He slowly covered what was left of the muddy path before gently putting her back on her feet.
Rin took a deep breath. She would rather be anywhere but here. Anywhere away from so much blood – which odour was violently assaulting her nostrils.
Corpses were everywhere. Rin retched. Unable to linger on the dead, her eyes studied only their faces – the ones still recognizable, she dreaded to catch a glimpse of them, and as much as she hated to admit it, no other faces than theirs would break her heart.
She recognised some of the soldiers she'd had the opportunity to work with. It saddened her, made her retch, but couldn't hold her attention very long. She'd mourn for them later. Now her selfishness wouldn't allow her to care about anybody else than her friends.
Sesshomaru watched as Rin wandered among the soldiers. He was quick enough not to need to be right beside her, if she were to weaken and fall, he'd be able to catch her in time. Besides, her desire to be alone was a certainty to him.
She hadn't screamed, cried, or fallen on her knees in front of such a macabre spectacle. He could see her body tense, and her shoulders jerk in disgust, but they were the sole signs of weakness she allowed herself to show, was it because of his presence, he didn't know, however he'd the intuition she'd already witnessed more mind-breaking scenes.
Her composure was making her look more aged than she was in reality, and Sesshomaru found himself admiring her strength. The little girl he used to protect had become a strong woman, able to face the cruelty of their world.
As he watched her walk among the dead, his heart swelled with pride.
In spite of everything, Rin hadn't yielded to fate. Sesshomaru would make sure she would never yield to it, whatever the obstacles it still had in store for her.
Upon his word, he would never leave her alone again.