Notes from the Addict: This is going to be a two-part giftfic for my best friend, .Mint.. It'll double as a Christmas and birthday gift, which I know she'll just love ;) I expect there to be some (a lot of) OOC-ness and I apologize for that but it's hard to write Sesshy all cold and mean during the holidays. I hope you people enjoy it nonetheless :P Oh yeah, Sesshy only has the one arm in this one.
Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own any of the Inuyasha characters, if I did then I'd be gifting real Sesshomaru instead of a fanfic with him in it xD
Over snow-laden hills a small group traveled, making their way to Kaede's village. The snow was deep on the barely trodden path they walked, preferring to stay off of the more traveled main roads. The sky had yet to close completely as large, pure snowflakes drifted lazily from the abundant grey clouds. Behind the dense coverage of cottony puffs the afternoon sun had started to set and taking with it the meager amount of light it had been supplying.
A branch creaked quietly, a moment later it bent to drop the snow that had been weighing it down. The pile landed with a thump, effectively muffling the cries of its unfortunate victim. A green head popped up, sputtering nonsense of how he would burn the tree for such despicable actions. Of course, a smarter youkai could avoid such unbecoming situations. And that is exactly what the leader of the group did; not once did a pile of snow strike the inuyoukai as he strode confidently through the forest as if he were in his own lands.
A round of giggles–attempted to be hidden behind a sleeve–bubbled up as the toad clambered up to sit on the two-head dragon, opting to sit rather then fumble the rest of the way through the snow. He glared at the one who such joyful noises belonged to. Opening his mouth to reprimand the insolent girl for her lack of respect, he caught his lord watching silently. Cold, golden eyes gleamed with hidden emotions as their owner glared. Thinking he valued his life more than his bruised ego at this point, the toad snapped his mouth shut and gripped his staff closer. By the time the giggles subsided, both girl and toad were seated comfortably on the dragon's back as it followed behind its master; the Lord of the West.
Rin chattered on endlessly about her excitement, a gleeful grin never abandoning her face. Jaken muttered responses for a bit, until the girl's joy and exuberance proved to be contagious. Soon he had given in and actually keep up conversation with the child, she even managed to get a laugh from the toad.
"Sesshomaru-sama?" She called ahead, full-well knowing that she didn't need to raise her voice for him to hear. "We're almost there, right?"
Normally, he would've continued to stalk forward while seeming to blatantly ignore her inquiry. This time he simply turned his head slightly and gave her a smallest of nods, face as stoic as always.
She squealed in delight, practically bouncing in her seat. Had the snow not as deep then she'd be running in circles around the group as they walked, her arms flung out to the sides. As much as she loved the snow, it prevented her from burning up some of her nearly endless energy so she had to settle for talking Jaken's ear off–much to the toad's dismay.
Finally, they crested another hill and in the dull light the setting sun was casting they were able to see their destination; a simple human village. Small fires emitted warm, dancing lights from inside the huts. Sesshomaru heaved a mental sigh as they started down the hill, once again wondering why he had agreed to spend some holiday with his pathetic hanyou of a brother and his rag-tag group of friends. It's because Rin asked, he reminded himself. The damn miko knew he had a soft spot for the child–though he would never admit to such a disgraceful thing, he was not like his father in that aspect. Before he knew it the wench was talking to Rin and telling her of some holiday where humans swap gifts and decorate trees. Of all things, what was the point in decorating a tree? Rin was so excited when the miko said that she could come. When she turned to her lord, huge eyes practically glowing with hope, he couldn't say no. She begged him to come along as well and he agreed to that too. He told himself that it was only because his baka of a brother couldn't be trusted. A hanyou couldn't keep her safe like a full-blooded youkai such as himself could. Jaken can not ensure her safety either, he thought, trying to explain to himself that he didn't want to go, he just had an obligation to keep his charge out of harm's way.
During his mental battle with himself, Sesshomaru and his companions had waded through the village and were standing in front of Kaede's hut, just where the miko had told them to meet. Within moments, Kagome was outside and rushing over to Rin. The two hugged and were quickly joined by the little kitsune. Sesshomaru resisted the urge to sneer at such public displays of affection and let his eyes wander over the rest of the group while they filed out of the hut; the demon-slayer followed by the monk and the hanyou pulling up the rear. All there and from what he could smell, Kaede was waiting in the hut. Inuyasha's glare caught his eye and he saw the hanyou's hand threateningly resting on Tetsuiga's hilt. The miko had ensured him that Inuyasha would make no move to fight, lest he face her nearly murderous wrath consisting of infinite 'sits.' The youkai knew that he could take on his half-brother, but he didn't want Rin to witness such an act.
"Come on, Rin-chan! Let's go inside!" The kitsune took the girl's hand and they ran into the hut to escape the chill of the winter air. Narrowed golden eyes glared at their intertwined hands as they disappeared into the hut. Lightly pondering the protective instinct he felt, the lord thought of having a talk with the boy...
"Sesshomaru-sama?" The miko's annoying voice pulled the youkai back to reality. She was standing just in front of the hut, looking at him curiously. "Will you come in?"
Instead of answering, he just walked past his brother and followed at she entered. A once plain hut had been transformed by lights and decorations. A tree was sitting in a corner, away from the fire that burned in the center of the room. There was nothing adorning the evergreen and it looked quite sullen compared to the happy glow that pervaded the atmosphere. Colorful bulbs of various sizes were hung around the room in random places. There were boxes scattered about with more decorations spilling from them.
"Sorry, we started decorating before you got here." Kagome saw Rin's smile fall and quickly added, "But we saved some garland for you! And we wanted you to help with the tree too!"
As Rin ran over to the boxes and dug through them, Sesshomaru took a seat by the fire. The old woman, Kaede, was seated across from him and met his hard gaze with her own look of kindness. She gave him a gentle nod and went back to watching as the younger people decorated her hut, a smile gracing her wrinkled face. The hut was not exactly built to accommodate such numbers, therefore the space was slightly cramped though no one seemed to mind much. Sango and Kagome had taken their seats by the boxes and were handing bulbs and star-shaped decorations to the two children. Miroku was lifting Shippo up so the kit could put his decoration in a higher spot. As soon as he had hopped away, the monk was at Sango's side and his lecherous hand was slipping dangerously low. A slap resounded through the air along with the shrill complaints of the demon-slayer. The monk sulked away and went back to helping with decorating. Inuyasha grouched at his friends as they tried to hook some shiny decorations on his ears and clothing, but there was a smile glued to his face the entire time. Jaken was in a similar situation, though he complained far more than the hanyou.
"Kagome-chan! Kagome-chan!" Rin bounced over to the miko with a shiny, red glittering rope-like decoration and thrust it up so that Kagome could see it better. "What's this?"
"It's the garland, Rin-chan." The miko smiled and reached into the box next to her. When she pulled her hand out, she was holding another mass of the sparkling rope, this one silver. Passing it to Rin she said, "I thought that you would like to put it up so I saved it for you."
Rin gave a joyous shout and ran to Sesshomaru. She draped the two strings of garland over her shoulder and stood next to him with a frown. "Look Sesshomaru-sama! I look like you now!" When he turned to her, he saw that she was desperately trying not to giggle as she concentrated on frowning. His eyes softened slightly and a smile tried to break past his cold facade causing the girl to grin. Without another word she darted to the tree and pulled the garland from her shoulders. With a determined look Rin gathered it all in her arms and threw it with all her might at the tree. The red and silver strings twisted then clung to the tree in a large ball, a few tendrils slipping to hang down.
"Oh! Rin-chan, here. Let me help," Kagome got up and gingerly took the garland off the tree. Rin looked up at her confused. "See, you straighten it out and then put it on, okay?" She went around the tree with the red string of garland, hanging it on the branches with a precision that made it clear that she'd had experience with such a thing. The end product was aesthetically appealing; the dull green of the branches holding nice contrast to the vibrant red that was wrapped around it. Though if it was completely decorated it would look much better, being adorned with the various bulbs and other ornaments was sure to increase the beauty of the once plain tree.
"What about this one?" Rin asked, holding the bundle of silver garland as she looked at the tree in awe.
"Well, you can hang it around the hut it you want. Like the other decorations," Kagome said with a smile then went back to handing the other ornaments to Shippo, Miroku, and Inuyasha.
The girl looked around thoughtfully, trying to chose the best place for the shiny rope to go. Rin went to the entrance of the hut, deciding that she wanted the silver garland over the door. She was far to short to reach the top of the door so she took a moment to think, brow furrowed with concentration. Her fingers played with the shiny material that the garland was made of while she worried her bottom lip, still unsure of how to go about the decorating.
Kaede had been watching the girl while she tried to figure out a solution to her problem. The elder chuckled under her breath and shifted her eyes to the youkai who was seated next to her. "Your girl seems to need some help." The old Priestess undoubtedly knew that the lord was fully aware of the child's movements throughout the hut, even if his eyes never left the fire.
Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes at her word choice; Rin was his charge, not his girl. He didn't care for the child, at least that's what the great Lord of the West kept telling himself. Nevertheless, golden eyes shifted to the door and to Rin. The girl had just turned around and was looking around the room for someone to help her. Her eyes lit up when she saw Sesshomaru and she quickly rushed over to him.
"Sesshomaru-sama..." She looked at him with her eyes full of hope. It was not often when she asked for help from him and she stumbled over her words as she gained tried to gather her courage. "C-can you help me? Please? I really want to hang up the garland that Kagome-chan brought..." She trailed off, leaving the question open.
He drew in a deep breath and nodded. That earned him a bright smile just before she ran back to the door, garland trailing behind her. As the youkai rose gracefully to his feet he saw Kaede give him a knowing look. Resisting the urge to growl at the woman Sesshomaru stalked over to his Rin–no, to his charge. That's all she was. Damn that old miko for messing with his mind.
"Can we put it over here? Do you think it'll look good?" Rin gripped the garland tightly in her excitement as she rambled on, asking various questions.
"Hn," Sesshomaru said in a agreement. He leaned down and quickly scooped Rin up in one fluid motion, setting her on his shoulder. She let out a startled squeal at the motion and wrapped both arms around his head, covering his eyes on accident. He put his arm over her legs to ensure she wouldn't fall and shrugged his shoulder lightly; trying to let her know that she could put the garland up now. Slowly, she released her death grip on him and went about messing with the garland.
She giggled happily while she fixed the decoration to hang over the sides of the door, the silver material sparkling in the firelight. When Sesshomaru moved to the side so she could finish up she squeaked in surprise and one hand gripped his hair painfully tight. He didn't make any sign to suggest that he was in pain but let out a small, relieved sigh when her fingers unclenched.
"All done now!" Rin chimed as she grinned at her handy work. As Sesshomaru was leaning to set her back on the floor she wrapped her arms around his head again. She didn't do it because she was scared; she knew he wouldn't let her fall. But she also knew that he wouldn't let her just hug him and it was the holidays and everyone else was getting hugs. Sesshomaru shouldn't be left out and she was probably the only who'd want to hug him anyway. Well, other than Jaken. That weird little retainer...
The only thing left to decorate was the tree. Kagome informed them that they only needed to put on some ornaments and the topper because she and Rin had already done the garland. The topper would be put on last so the miko and the slayer went back to their posts and resumed handing out ornaments. Sesshomaru was above participating in such an unnecessary thing so he reclaimed his seat next to Kaede. Miroku and Inuyasha had to put decorations on the upper half of the tree because the children were far to short to reach.
Kaede looked at Sesshomaru once again and bluntly stated, "You care for her."
He only narrowed his eyes before staring into the fire in an attempt to make the old wench understand he did not want to be spoken to. She ignored his actions completely and gave him a small smile.
"You feel the need to protect her. That's why you came. As much as you may hate yourself for it, you are quite similar to your father." Rather than continue watching him, Kaede looked into the fire as well. "You don't love her as your father loved Inuyasha's mother, but you love her nonetheless."
Her words were getting under his skin as he tried to deny everything she said. He had sworn that he would not be like his father and yet here he was; staying with her and watching over her. He wanted to snarl at Kaede, he just wanted her to shut her mouth and stop spewing this nonsense. But there was another, albeit smaller, part of him that recognized what she said as truth and wanted to prove that Rin was his. That he'd protect her and be there for her. Quickly shoving such preposterous thoughts out of his head Sesshomaru couldn't help but let his eyes wander to the girl. Watching as she gingerly placed the decorations on the tree with a grin on her face. He was pulled from his musings when Kaede spoke again.
"You see, you know I'm right."
His patience nearly snapped at her comment and he threw her another vehement glare, he couldn't help it when his lip curled the tiniest bit. He was distracted when Kagome clapped and signaled for everyone to gather around the fire. Sesshomaru tried to push the conversation out of his head while Rin sat on one side of him and Jaken on the other. Shippou sat next to Rin and Kirara next to him. The demon-slayer and the miko came next. Followed by Inuyasha then Miroku between him and Kaede. Said monk did not appear to be pleased with the arrangement as he stared at the slayer with longing, his hands twitching ever so slightly.
Kagome took charge once everyone had settled and she got out all the gifts that had been brought. She gave the proper gifts to each person. They spent nearly an hour opening and marveling over the gifts they had received. During that time with nothing better to do, Sesshomaru's mind returned to what Kaede had told him. He mulled over it, carefully maintaining his stoic look as to not give way to what he was thinking. Perhaps the old woman was right...But, she couldn't be. He was the great Lord of the West, not some weak youkai who gave into such emotions.
Kagome interrupted his thoughts long enough to offer him some steaming beverage that smelled sweet, saying something about chocolate. He declined and quickly fell back into the thoughts that wouldn't leave him alone. He had finally convinced himself that Kaede was just an old woman who didn't know what she was talking about when he heard Rin yawn quite loudly. He looked over to see her eyes nearly closed and her swaying slightly from side to side. Shippou was already curled up by Kirara, snoring softly. He realized that the sun had long ago set and its luminescent twin of the night was already rising high; they had spent hours in the village and the time had unknowingly flown by.
"Sesshomaru-sama... I'm tired..." Rin said slowly, as if it took to much effort. She rubbed her eyes sleepily and leaned toward Sesshomaru. In her current state she didn't have the ability to stay balanced and she feel over, her head landing on his outstretched leg. She let out a relaxed, content sigh as her eyelids gently slid over her tired brown eyes. "Gonna sleep now...Otou-san..." As she said, she was asleep in moments.
Sesshomaru could do nothing but stare at her sleeping form, eyes widened slightly from her comment. She had called him...otou-san. She couldn't have meant to say such a thing though. But he couldn't deny that she often showed him affection. She just never called him anything other than 'Sesshomaru-sama' perhaps fearing his response to a more informal honorific. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that he didn't mind the change in title. Before he could comprehend what he was doing, his clawed hand was on her head, gently smoothing her hair as she slept. Luckily the fire was dimming and no one was paying attention to Sesshomaru. The monk had taken the first chance he could to get near the slayer and now she was looking quite tired and slightly drunken as she leaned on his shoulder. The hanyou and his miko were in a similar position, but neither looked drunk. It was highly likely that the lecherous monk slipped something into the slayer's drink. Jaken was flopped on his back, snoring soundly. Kaede was still sipping at her drink and smiled at the demon lord.
"Come on. Inuyasha, Kagome-chan you two can help Miroku with poor Sango-chan." She gave the monk a pointed look when she said the slayer's name. He was unperturbed and continued to grin like the idiot he was. "The hut next door is already prepared for you four to stay. Shippou can stay here if you want, seems how he is already asleep."
The group mumbled sleepy agreements and stood up. Everyone slowly made their way out of the hut, Kagome lingered behind with a drowsy Kirara in her arms. "Sesshomaru-sama? There is another celebration we are going to have in about week. I'm sure Rin would love to come, it's for the new year...You guys should stay in the village until then."
"Keh, that bastard would rather turn tail and run then hang around a village." Inuyasha scoffed, a smug look on his face because of the insult he threw at his half-brother.
Sesshomaru ignored the hanyou and let his eyes drift to Rin for a moment while he thought. "We will stay," he said quietly, as to not wake the three sleeping beings.
Kagome nodded with a smile and practically had to drag a stunned Inuyasha out of the hut, only succeeding because she threatened to 'sit' him.
Once they were gone Kaede got to her feet with a grunt and went over to Shippou. She picked him up and moved him over to the bed area. "Rin can sleep over here too. And that toad, I suppose."
Sesshomaru nodded and carefully shifted Rin so he could pick her up. He carried her over to where Shippou was and laid her down gently. Taking a blanket that was folded in the corner, he pulled it over the two. Kaede settled by the sleeping children while Sesshomaru took a spot leaning against the wall, next to Rin's head. He was in a position similar to Inuyasha's when he took watch over his companions.
The two who remained awake were quickly lulled into a relaxed state by the gentle breathing of the youngsters and the snores of the toad. Not requiring sleep, Sesshomaru watched Rin once he knew the old woman was asleep; he was in no need of her unwelcome comments. Reaching his hand toward Rin, he let his knuckles graze over her cheek lightly and was slightly surprised when one of her small hands reached out and clasped his. Rin mumbled something and pulled his hand closer, snuggling it as if it were a pillow. The ever stoic mask that was fixated on the Western Lord's face broke for a moment as he let a smile grace his features.
Addict's Notes: Well then. It's done. I actually wrote this a week before Christmas and waited to post it...Not fun, haha. Anyway, I don't think it's that great, but I tried! Review and let me know what you think. Any ideas for what might happen on New Years'? Merry Holidays People!