Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha, or the tale of Susanoo and Orochi.

Dedication: This one is for DivineRose91, who requested I write a sequel to Alpha. As a result, I decided to combine my previous one-shots, Just Pretend and Alpha, to create The Deep Time Trilogywith this as the last book in the series. Thanks for the inspiration, Rose!

HEADS UP: Mature content and violence

The True Master

Part I

"Careful, Sessho."

The daiyoukai growled.

"I am trying, mate. This requires immense physical and psychological restraint." She heard his fangs gnash together harshly.

"Maybe I should just sleep alone tonight…"

His grip on her became iron tight.


Rin smiled into his naked shoulder. Neither of them had a shred of clothing on. Sesshomaru most preferred his female completely exposed and submissive if she were to come to his bed. And until recently, their nights of love-making had been incredibly satisfying for the both of them. Now such activities must cease: Rin was pregnant with his pup, and Sesshomaru wasn't widely known for being… gentle, despite how much he tried. It was the demon in him, he knew, and Rin was so fragile now, and the idea of going another month or two without sex did not seem particularly challenging to him. However, the sight of Rin, even now that her belly bulge stretched smooth, creamy skin, and her breasts became plump with nurturing milk, Sesshomaru had to turn away and hide the agonizing want that made his eyes bleed a deep crimson red.

Rin was flattered he still found her desirable after five months of pregnancy. Her alpha had insisted they continue these late night sessions until, reluctantly, she put her foot down.

"It's for the safety of the pup," she snapped.

"He is of a demon sire," Sesshomaru had counter-argued, "My aura enclosed within your womb should protect him from most outside penetrations."

She sighed sadly.

"Maybe so, but I'm still human, Sessho. My frame just isn't as strong as a demoness'."

He'd had no way of denying this, and she knew it. So, for the first night since they'd mated, Sesshomaru slept with his back to her.

Rin found his little temper tantrum very adorable, and on the second night, after he'd stumbled with a sincere apology, had allowed him to touch her, but nothing more than that.

"We will always be one," she'd murmured, bringing her face to his. "I promise."

Slowly, he'd nodded.


But this night was more difficult than most. Sesshomaru was in heat, and despite Rin's warnings and words of encouragement, his instincts couldn't help but test just far he could push his luck.

Before she could protest, he moved swiftly, hovering over her, caressing her belly with strong hands while balancing on his knees. His molten amber gaze slid down to the creation of their love, allowing himself to grin briefly before leaning over to give his mate a kiss on her trembling mouth.

"Maaattte," he purred, "Your alpha is pleased. He will ensure that you bear him many, many strong pups." His lips came down to brush over her belly.

Rin tried to keep her breath even, though it was very difficult to restrain someone like Sesshomaru while he was touching her in this way. No! He wasn't… he was using those large, beautiful amber eyes to seduce her. And his bottom lip! Only she was allowed to do the puppy-dog pout! No fair! He was cheating…!

Despite how much the demon within him wished to take her, mingle their breath together, taste her… he wouldn't. Not only because he shouldn't for the sake of his heir, but Rin did not wish it. Her happiness was what he lived for. If loving her meant losing everything else, he'd willingly suffer eternally. Without her, there was no purpose.

Still, it was very fun to tease her the way he was. Hot lips crusaded down her stomach…


Rin awoke the following morning, greatly satisfied.

She knew she should've been angry. He'd come extremely close to persuading her to throw complete caution to the wind, forget needless worrying… If her voice hadn't gone hoarse from last night's occurrences, perhaps she would've scolded him as he rose from their bed to dress. The superior smirk in his eyes told her everything without him needing to breathe a word: You see? You are mated to a good alpha. I too can restrain myself.

Yes, he hadn't done anything bad technically…

Rin's heart bubbled with happiness. Of course she could trust him! He'd never take advantage of her!

She sat up and smiled lazily at him. He appeared nonchalant and indifferent to the brightness of her gaze, busying himself tying the obi around his waist. She admired the smooth white fabric that rippled over his skin, distinctly shaping to the lean, dagger-like build of his body. Pride swelled Rin's chest at the sight of him.

Sesshomaru strode gracefully towards her, gripping her little hands in his larger ones, and brought her to a stand beside him. Briefly, he admired her – still so very small in comparison to him – and nuzzled her neck before beginning to dress her.

Rin had insisted she could do this herself, she wasn't incapable of it, but Sesshomaru ignored such protests. In truth, he enjoyed it, knowing that what lay beneath thick layers of kimono had been touched by none but his eyes only. Occasionally he rejoiced in how very selfish he was, coveting this beautiful woman all to himself. All to himself.

The kimono was embroidered with the markings of the Western Lady, white like his own attire, and stitched with the elaborate flower designs Rin was particularly fond of. He helped her pile long brown tresses atop her head, carefully weaving the pink sakura combs gently in place.

He took a step back. Rin, smiling, placed her hands around her middle and did a quick spin for him until he finally decided she looked perfect. He then growled his satisfaction, and offered his hand to help her walk to the dining hall (once again, she could do this herself, and then quickly realized there would be no use arguing with him. Was he trying to pamper her spoiled?).

It was throughout the morning meal, which she ate with the dignity of a true noblewoman, and later as he oversaw the saddling of Ah-Un and Hoshi, Rin's unicorn (A/N: See Book 2 for THAT story), did it dawn on Sesshomaru: his mate had grown up.

Only a year ago, before he'd claimed her, the dog demon could vividly recall how the human girl would run barefooted through open grassy fields, skirts hitched high above her knees; her hair had hung long and free down to her waist. And her eyes were mischievous, always, daring him to pick up the chase. She used to cry so easily, dream so openly, and laugh with all her heart. It wasn't that Rin didn't do all those things now, but she carried herself with an air that was much more… mature, as if she really had been born with the blood of royalty.

She appeared beside him.

"When are we leaving, Sesshomaru-sama?"

It had been a very long time since she'd last addressed him with an honorific. He frowned at the usage. They were beyond formalities now.

He encircled her waist with long arms.

"As soon as the imp finishes brushing Hoshi for you."

She grinned.

"I can't wait! It's been so long since I last saw Edo. I miss it dearly. Thank you, Sesshomaru-sama."


It wasn't he thought it bothersome having to haul Rin across the country, just so she could spend the following day chattering away with the miko and demon slayer. She had taken towards the two of them recently. And certainly the journey itself will have little if any effect on him. He'd spent many years wandering Japan, before Rin ever came into his life; only once they'd mated did he agree to settle down and start a family.

No, it was, of course, his brother.

Just because Sesshomaru had ceased trying to exterminate the half-breed didn't mean he necessarily had to love the mongrel. Nor would he try. The feudal fire that sparked between the two dog demons had been fed and fanned with an undying hatred that spanned nearly two hundred years. Little would change when the either of them refused to admit who was truly at fault.

And so, these visits to Edo were always strained.

Like the last time…


"More tea, Rin?" Miroku asked.

She smiled fondly at the monk and held out her cup.

"How is Sango handling her pregnancy?" taking a sip.

"Oh fine, fine!" he grinned broadly, downing his own cup. "Number six should be yet another success!"

"Kami," Kagome muttered, shaking her head, "The poor girl spends more time pregnant than not." She stretched out on her futon, "If I didn't know any better, Miroku, I would've thought you were part inuyoukai or something, you have so many children!"

He regarded them seriously.

"Just you wait, my ladies, once your husbands decide to start reproducing, there will be little if any opportunity for the two of you to engage yourselves in much else." His expression became wistful. "If I was an inuyoukai…"

"Sango would still smack you around," Kagome said flatly, earning a giggle from Rin.

"Speaking of your mates," he asked, "Where are they?"

A heavy silence fell on the trio. Kagome suddenly became interested with the tea leaves at the bottom of her cup.

"Well," Rin said, "Um, the last I saw of them, they were talking near the Shinto."

Miroku seemed impressed.

"It's been… what, an hour? And the village is still standing? Maybe there is hope."

The girls grinned sheepishly at each other.

"I don't know… EEK!"

Before any of them had the opportunity to clear out the way, Inuyasha's body came crashing through the wooden roof of the hut, destroying the wicker furniture that collapsed into rubble beneath him. Groaning loudly, the hanyou hopped back on his feet.

"Is that all you got?" he shouted at the sky. His voice cracked slightly. He quickly drew Tessaiga.

"INUYASHA!" Kagome fumed.

"It's all HIS fault, I swear!" the hanyou snapped at her. "Stay out of this!" With that he leaped back through the hole in which he'd fallen through.

"Baka…" his mate sighed, her temple throbbing. "That's the fifth repair he's gonna have to do on that roof!"

"Kagome," Rin grasped her shoulder. "I'm so sorry! If I had thought they'd still be fighting… EEK!"

A second, larger figure came crashing through the ceiling. Instead of falling flat on his back, Sesshomaru landed gracefully beside his mate, brushing away the light flecks of debris that sprinkled her hair with gentle fingers. He nodded once at the stunned looks of the monk and priestess.

"SESSHOMARU!" Rin stood with hands planted firmly on her hips. "I thought you said you were going to spend some brotherly bonding time with Inuyasha?"

He stared at her with a quiet demeanor.

"I said no such thing, mate." He reached out and brushed back her bangs. "Excuse this Sesshomaru, he has unfinished business to attend to."

"Sessho…" Rin warned, "You DO realize you've put TWO holes in Kagome's roof?"

"Hn," he surveyed the damage with a speculative frown. "Very well, I will refrain from tossing the half-breed any farther than the village limits." He withdrew Bakusaiga from its sheath with a small flourish. "Enjoy your tea, Rin." He leaped back through the roof. "Little Brother…"


Since then, there hadn't been any unnecessary visits.

It wasn't she didn't have faith that Sesshomaru could behave himself, if that were the case, she would've never prompted for this journey, despite how much she missed Edo. Rather, she feared he would grow bored and irritable, hence more prone to losing his temper with his half-brother. Sesshomaru hated being provoked into fighting, especially when it worked.

Jaken appeared then, leading Ah-Un and Hoshi by their reins.

"Sesshomaru-sama! Rin-sama!" Lately, the imp had taken to using the proper honorific with the girl he had raised since her early childhood. It suited her well.

He bowed deeply.

"Everything has been prepared?" the daiyoukai inquired, pulling away from Rin to look the animals over. Normally, Sesshomaru would've flown them to Edo, however Rin was eager to show off Hoshi to all her village friends, and since he was uncomfortable leaving the pregnant woman alone on the ground, he'd settled for riding Ah-Un.

"Hai, Milord."

"Very well, then we must leave if we wish to make good time." He turned his amber gaze back to the imp, suddenly becoming very cold. "You can ensure this Sesshomaru you will oversee his lands with strict authority during his absence, correct Jaken?"

Contrarily, Jaken was already envisioning himself alone in the enchanted hot springs that flowed undisturbed through the palace gardens. He was never permitted to use them.

"Hai, Milord!"

Sesshomaru easily scooped his mate up and propped her on the unicorn's back.

"Are you certain you can ride alone?" The concern that colored his voice made her smile.

"Yes," she kissed his crescent moon. "I love you, Sessho."

He stared at her a long moment.

"And I love you, as well."


Her whimpers of discomfort made the daiyoukai grin slightly, but he hid his emotions well.

It wasn't her fault, really. Rin was considerably larger since she'd last ridden Hoshi. Though he was a gentle beast and well accustomed to the mountainous terrain of Japan, he was unused to Rin's heavier weight, and occasionally misjudged his footfalls. Sesshomaru had taken to holding Hoshi's reins, leading him closely alongside Ah-Un. Rin rubbed her sore back, smiling weakly at him.

So far, the world had remained at peace, mostly due to the fact that a dangerous predator demon would frequently flare his aura to span over the vicinity in nearly a fifty kilometer radius, daring anyone to approach. Judging by the position of the sun, which just peaked over the tall mountains, it was midday. Sesshomaru calculated they would reach Edo perhaps an hour after night would fall, that is, if they maintained a steady pace without any complications. He glanced back at his mate, which he did often, and saw she was fiddling with a ring of flowers. She must have picked and hid them in her kimono before they left. He redirected his gaze ahead.

Ah-Un grumbled, both his heads turning to look up at his rider with intelligent eyes. Sesshomaru raised an eyebrow at him. He hadn't considered the dragon might sense something he'd overlooked; but whatever threat there might be, it would quickly catch his scent and leave. Deciding it was unnecessary to alert the others, he nudged the dragon sharply with the heels of his boots. Ah-Un humphed, but continued on.

"Sesshomaru, something's wrong with Hoshi."

Rin's voice pierced through the air, destroying the silence that had enveloped them for hours. Sure enough, as Sesshomaru looked back at her, the unicorn was obviously distressed. Unlike Ah-Un, Hoshi couldn't maintain a cool demeanor. His first instinct told him to run, fast, but Sesshomaru's iron-grip on his reins held him steady. The daiyoukai glared at the white horned horse, which now trotted alongside him with flared nostrils and wide rolling eyes. Rin began running a hand through his silver mane, muttering sympathies in his ears.

Then he screamed.

The ear-rattling, mind-splitting cry of fear from the unicorn's mouth startled Rin, almost unseating her hadn't Sesshomaru been there. He leaped from Ah-Un, easily maintaining possession of Hoshi even as he fought and thrashed his head to free himself. Sesshomaru's voice called out to him, harsh and commanding, ordering submission. Hoshi let out another scream; his eyes dilated and zeroed in on an area ahead of them.

Ah-Un growled loudly, taking up a defensive stance as the threat emerged from the partings of the trees.

It was a hydra.

Sesshomaru scoffed at the sight of it, taking in its large, scaly heads, eight in all; he had counted, with complimentary tails that sliced through the air. Its long spiny necks were pulled upright, eyes trained on them, unwavering, ready to strike.

No wonder Sesshomaru had overlooked the beast; he had had all his senses trained on detecting demons, not monsters. He looked down at Rin, who was staring at the eight-headed serpent with a look of pure terror. The daiyoukai sighed. This would be finished too quickly for him to consider it much of a challenge.

He withdrew Bakusaiga from its sheath, looked Rin over once more to make sure she was alright, and promptly charged at the hydra with only half of his capable speed and succeeded in slicing off three of its heads in a single stroke. They dissolved into thick black smoke almost instantly. Sesshomaru twirled the blade once by its hilt, and off-handedly decapitated the remaining five with two flicks of his wrist. He watched, unimpressed, as its body tremble and quiver upon the ground at his feet.

"Pathetic," he murmured, wiping the creature's blood from Bakusaiga, placing it back at his hip. "Let's go, Rin."

"Um, Sessho?" She was looking behind him with wide eyes.

He frowned, turning to look back at the dead hydra.

The body continued to squirm upon the ground but, to his astonishment, the bleeding had ceased. It rose onto shaky legs.

What the hell?

Its heads were growing back! One by one, as the black smoke was carried away on the currents of the wind, the severed stumps of their necks each sprouted a new head. Sesshomaru watched, intrigued, and as they hissed and snapped their jaws, eight pairs of angry red eyes bore down on him.

Interesting the daiyoukai mused. He lifted the sword again and hacked off another head. Within seconds it had reassembled itself. Rin whimpered from somewhere behind him.

Hn. As much as I would genuinely like to take this opportunity to experiment with you, Sesshomaru thought, aiming Bakusaiga for the death plunge into the hydra's soft underbelly, I really must keep us to schedule. My mate suffers from fatigue. He lunged.

The hydra, which had quickly learned his techniques, swiftly maneuvered his large reptilian frame out of the way, deflecting the blade with one sharp talon. Sesshomaru, amused, spun in place to stab at the monster's opposite side. This failed, as the eight sets of eyes could follow his every move, no matter from which angle he came from.

He hesitated.

Odd, why wasn't it attacking him?


He whipped around to answer the shrilled scream of his name.


Evidently, the heads were only trying to distract him. Somehow, without Sesshomaru realizing, one of the eight tails had slithered its way past him and grasped Hoshi around his middle, dragging both the unicorn and Rin into the darkness of the forest behind his large body. Ah-Un, who was a lot smaller than the hydra, bit and clawed at the tail ravishingly with little success.

Sesshomaru lashed out at the offending limb, instantly freeing his mate. The serpent snarled but didn't pull back, instead extending two of its long necks to reach for Rin. She yelped, wrapping her arms protectively around her middle. Sesshomaru placed his arms around her waist and leaped into the canopy above.

"It wants the pup," he said, resting her on the highest branch of a sturdy oak. He glanced down, noticing that Hoshi was gone, while Ah-Un had opened his jaws to release bursts of fire, though the hydra hardly seemed to notice as it encircled the base of the tree.

"Hn…" he growled, covering Rin's body as much as he could with his own. "This is getting ridiculous."

"What are we going to do?" Rin wailed, wincing at the sight of the serpent disappearing in and out of her vision. She clung to Sesshomaru's kimono with white fists.

He frowned in speculation, the golden eyes calmly analyzing their situation. He would quickly kill the hydra if he only knew HOW. Sesshomaru knew precious little about mythical creatures, much less hydras. Typically they stayed out of a demon's path, but the aura wrapped around Rin must have scented as a delightful, easy meal. What the eight-headed serpent was capable of; Sesshomaru had not the slightest clue. The monster wasn't stupid, he could tell that much. Instead of outright attacking, he'd planned on distracting him long enough to snatch up Rin, and it had very nearly worked.

Rin, out of the two of them, was in the most danger.

That decided him. Sesshomaru reached for the other sword at his hip. She gaped when he offered it to her.

"Take Tenseiga," he ordered, holding out the fang. She gave him a blank look.

"You are my mate," he explained, "Tenseiga will choose to protect you. Take it," more forcefully.

"But Sesshomaru-sama - !"

He growled menacingly.

"This Sesshomaru has not the time to argue. You will take my sword now if you value the life of the pup you carry."

She grasped the sheath with two trembling hands.

"But what of you, Milord?"

He snorted.

"This Sesshomaru faces no danger." It wasn't really a lie. Something as trivial as hydra would have difficulty defeating a powerful daiyoukai. He stepped off the branch, watching as he fell lightly back to the earth Rin's look of distress, she knew that her mate was entering something completely foreign to anything he'd ever endured before. Sesshomaru chuckled softly as he landed.

"So you want to fight?" he asked the hydra, who'd paused in his circling to stand to his full height, which was much taller than the daiyoukai's, and all eight heads hissed in unison.

He was an unsightly beast, Sesshomaru observed, crouching low to the ground as he maneuvered his way around the hydra, swaying his sword to and fro, searching for where he might find a weak point. The tail he'd chopped off had regenerated itself. That technique was already frustrating him. There had to be a way to kill him. Sesshomaru would find it, even if he must shred the creature beyond recognition to achieve it.

"Sesshomaru, look out!"

Rin's warning came in the nick of time; he turned to see the four tails coming at him from behind. He swung Bakusaiga, slicing each of them, but only to see they regenerated again. The hydra, taking on a different tactic when he realized trickery wasn't working, lunged for him.

Sesshomaru easily sidestepped him, running his blade down the length of the hydra's torso as he passed. One of its head's managed to snag his kimono on its fang, pulling the surprised daiyoukai off his feet. Sesshomaru clawed at the serpent's face to free himself, carving thin lines of green poison that caused the serpent to wither in agony. The head dispersed; once the new one had sprouted, shrieked viciously.

The hydra lashed out at Ah-Un, who had been trying to engage him into a fight as well. The two-headed dragon quickly backed away, eyeing the serpent fearfully.

Eight sets of bared fangs turned on Sesshomaru.

The battle that ensued was perhaps the most pointless he had ever engaged himself in.

He couldn't win.

It made no difference how often he chopped off the heads, they simple grew back. He tried to wear the beast to exhaustion, with seemingly little success. The hydra just kept coming back, eager for blood. Once Sesshomaru had even managed to pierce his chest, thinking this would settle the issue, only to widen his eyes in astonishment as the hydra clawed the blade from himself with mild agitation. Bakusaiga was a demon sword; did that mean it had little effect on him?

It was pointless, but Sesshomaru continued to fight anyway.

And then he saw Rin.

"What the hell?"

How had she climbed out that tree? Ah-Un, that damn dragon! Sesshomaru, trying to keep her within his line of vision, sliced off the middle heads.

"STUPID GIRL!" he roared, "What are you DOING, Rin?"

"I want to help you!" She tried to hold down her fear, more so of his tone of voice than the hydra. Maybe if she distracted the hydra long enough Sesshomaru could find a way to kill it. That is, until the serpent turned on her, eyes eager, talons extended, and Rin quickly realized he was right, this plan was stupid, very stupid of her. She cowered back behind the trees.

Sesshomaru lifted Bakusaiga; its blade began emitting the radiating blue sheerness of his demonic aura. The hydra paused, midstride, and looked back at him with great interest at this sudden display of incredibly immense power. Rin gasped, her hair whipped backward from the mere force of it.

The radiance shot skyward, breaking through the clouds, twisting into a blazing mass channel of energy that crackled and jagged into points of fiery white lightning, seething, altering into a more distinctly defined form.


The word burst forth from his lips; the power surged at core of his being into the long blue blade, extending into it with a violent thrust to unleash the Dragon Strike.

Rin was thrown airborne.

Her screams were lost in the wind current; her body was tossed upward like a ragdoll only to be sent spiraling back to the ground. Anticipating the pain, she closed her eyes.

She hit the ground… uninjured.

Sesshomaru had been correct. The Tenseiga would protect Rin: When she collided with the earth, the fang emitted a thin, translucent shield to wrap itself snuggly around her body. As the trees and other large portions of wilderness was thrown up and scattered like rubbish, none of it could so much as touch her.

The lightning bore down on the hydra. Sesshomaru stepped back, scrutinizing the eight-headed figure with dismay.


The hydra had opened all his jaws wide and was swallowing the souryuuha.


His lightning vanished, slithering down the long necks of the serpent. The beast himself appeared untouched, unscathed by the attack.

Nothing could withstand the souryuuha.

Sesshomaru glowered, yet awestruck, unprepared and unwilling to accept what was to happen next.

The serpent raised himself high onto muscular hind legs and unleashed the Dragon Strike.

He was engulfed by his own attack.


"SESSHOMARU!" Rin broke through the trees, making a run for where the daiyoukai had disappeared. The hydra redirected himself, jaws wide, and the last of the souryuuha was shot out at her.

"NO!" she cried viciously, swinging the Tenseiga so its sheath rebound Bakusaiga's attack back at the bewildered serpent. This action occurred much too quickly for the hydra to realize the weak human girl had just thrown the most powerful youki in the world back at him. With a futile effort to escape, the hydra too, was engulfed.

"NO!" The Dragon Strike had dispersed almost instantly. Rin began searching through the mass destruction that was left of the forest. Nothing had withstood the attack, nothing… aside from herself.

"SESSHOMARU!" Her eyes scanned the ground; the heart beating from within her chest could be heard in her own ears. The sound of her voice was so far away. "SESSHOMARU! WHERE ARE YOU?" She had watched the hydra be blown to oblivion; an icy fear that the same had happened to her mate gave her a sudden rush of adrenaline. Rin dropped Tenseiga and began digging through the debris in desperation. Her hands became bloody and bruised, but that didn't matter. Nothing mattered. Nothing mattered without him.

He had to be here. He must. He must!

"SESSHOMARU! SESSHOMARU! SESSHOMARU!" It was useless. He was gone. Rin collapsed onto her knees, slicing them on fragment and splinters of the trees, but she barely felt the pain over the one that was slowly tearing her apart on the inside.

He was gone.

"NO!" she gasped, gripping her child, their child. The tears threatened to overflow and stain her cheeks. She started to reach for the Tenseiga, the only other thing she had left of him. What was left of him…

No, she wasn't going to give up! He had to be here… somewhere! She'd find him!

"SESSHOMARU!" She'd call his name to the high heavens if that were the only way to reach him. Would he answer her? "SESSHOMARU! SESSHO - !"

The Tenseiga pulsed.

She fell silent instantly, turning to look at it with mild astonishment. Was the vision that her blurred, red-rimmed eyes deceiving, or… was the fang… calling her?

If anything had seemed normal that day she would've said it was impossible. The sword wouldn't possibly work for a human. She knew the Tenseiga recognized only one master, and that was Sesshomaru.

Only Sesshomaru…

"Take me to him!"

She snatched up the pulsing sword; her excitement beginning to climb with it.

"Where is he? Where is he? Sesshomaru!"


Was that his voice, or the Tenseiga? Both?

"Where are you?" she whimpered. The fang had grown warm to touch, beating in time with the rapid pace of the heart within her chest.

"Can't… move…" he answered dimly. The tears finally fought their way out, streaming down to soil her clothes.

"Just tell me where you are!"


Rin snapped her head up to see the dragon hovering overhead.

"AH-UN!" she called. He landed nearby with a loud groan, his eyes gazing around at the scenery sorrowfully. Rin ran to him, tripping over the hem of her kimono, but remained uninjured. Tenseiga was clung to her side tightly with pale white hands. The dragon was focusing on something in the rubble.


Then she saw him.


Rin tossed the fang aside and began digging. The daiyoukai, pressed flat on his back by the weight of the heavy debris, didn't make a move to assist her. Amber eyes watched Rin's attempts to lift the large trees off him.

"Be careful…"

"Don't you DARE tell ME to be careful!"

"The pup…" Even in this condition, he thought of the child.

"I'll worry about him! Ah-Un, help me!"

After the dragon carefully clawed him out of the rubble, Sesshomaru, finally fully exposed to Rin's vision, looked a disaster.

He had been successful in avoiding the worst part of the souryuuha, but to emerge unscathed from such a blow was utterly futile. Lightning cuts criss-crossed over his body. The extravagant noble's robes he wore had been torn to rags, barely concealing the ruined works that was left of his body. Even his face, so elegant, the most beautiful thing in Rin's world, now suffered from a single streak of a bloody wound that stretched from his lower jaw to the inside corner of his right eye. It continued to bleed feverishly.

She cried harder – just the sight of him! – and collapsed upon his broad chest to cover him with as much of herself as she could. Her fingers ran through his silvery hair, she caressed the curve of his cheek, and kissed his lips with as much vigor as she could.

A growl came from within the demon, causing him to wince at the sharp pain of it.

"Rin… you're… hurting… me…"

She pushed herself away quickly, beginning to hyperventilate.

"I need to get help."

"I don't think…"

"AH-UN!" she shouted again. He raised his heads.

"Go… go find Kagome!" The miko was the only person she could think that grew healing herbs. "Get Kagome and Inuyasha! Hurry!"

He took to the sky in the direction of Edo, his bellows of despair echoed across the desolated landscape.

The daiyoukai gave an agonizingly stabbing sigh. His lungs felt bruised and bleeding.

"I don't know… what happened." He looked into her face and Rin saw the glowing supremacy of his radiating amber eyes falter. "Did I… kill him?"

Rin blinked, knowing he meant the hydra.

"Yes," she whispered softly, "Yes, you killed him, Love. You saved me."

He had the urge to kiss her then, and made a motion to sit upright, however as hard as he tried, Sesshomaru couldn't force the works of his body to listen to him without subduing to the pain.

Rin dug into the folds of her kimono, finding her small water canteen. She quickly uncapped it and pressed the opening to his lips.


He tried; his thirst was powerful, though when she tilted the bottle for him the water simply slid down his chin, soaking the rags of his ruined kimono.

"Rin," he murmured, the lids of his eyes began to droop. Never before had he felt so tired.

The hard sting of Rin's hand cracked across his face.

"Stay with me, Sesshomaru! If I let you sleep now you might…" She shook her head viciously at the thought. "Stay awake!" She had already thought she'd lost him forever once already; he couldn't – he wouldn't – leave her now! There was no way she'd let him!

"Tired," he murmured, pressing his face into the dirt. "So… tired. Never… felt this way…" It was becoming difficult for him to speak when the air within his lungs pierced him like a million daggers. He coughed once, spitting out a thick sheen of blood. "Tired…"

"Shut up," Rin whispered fiercely, running her hand through his hair. "Be quiet. Help is coming. Kagome will know how to…" How to what? Heal him? Sesshomaru had much more than just a couple scratches. He'd been hit by his own Dragon Strike, a powerful force that should've torn him to pieces. He was lucky to have escaped with internal bleeding; possibly he'd broken a large part of his body frame, and worse, the incredibility of it all had somehow twisted his mind into what Rin feared to be insanity.

"Just hang on, Sesshomaru. You'll be fine. You'll be fine!" It sounded like a lie even to her. The look on his face told her plainly he wasn't convinced, either. How could he be fine? Did such a word even exist? Looking at the once stoic, confident, extravagant demon lord that was her mate, that was the father of her unborn pup, it seemed nothing in this world could ever be god damn fine again!

"I love you."

He didn't respond, only stared right through where she sat beside him. His breath began to slow.

"I love you, Sesshomaru!" Rin grabbed his shoulders, trying to shake him awake. "Please, please… don't leave me! Don't leave me, Sesshomaru!"


Rin had cried herself to sleep.

When the daiyoukai didn't speak again, when he had stopped moving altogether, she released her grip on him and fell to his side, molding herself to fit in the curve of his body, when it use to be so warm.

"We will always be one," she murmured to him, "I promise."

Now she waited for his reply of:


It never came.

A/N: Just a reminder, this story does have a good ending. In my world, Sessho and Rin must live happily ever after, the key world being live.

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