Addict's Notes: Well then. This chapter will conclude this fic, though I'm sure you could all figure that one out on your own. I hope all of ya have enjoyed it thus far and thank you for the reviews, they are great to get :) So on with the gift-fic! Enjoy Twinlyyyy and Happy Birthday(however early)! :D
Disclaimer: I don't own. Still. I'm very disheartened by this realization so I'll not dwell on it :P
The approximate week passed without a hitch. After a few days, most of the Christmas decorations were removed, excluding the garland and some of the bulbs that hung from the walls since the kids had exclaimed how pretty they were. Rin was given permission to stay with Kaede if she liked, as the old woman enjoyed the child's company. She politely declined, rather wanting to stay with her youkai lord. Sesshomaru, deeming it unsatisfactory to wallow in the stench of such a large amount of humans, kept a camp in the woods. The two-headed dragon was free to do as it pleased, but mostly opted to stay at the camp or play with Rin and the band of children that followed her. The hanyou and his group went about their lives as normal, helping people in the village and such, not paying much attention to the youkai lord lurking in the woods.
While Rin acquired tidbits of knowledge from Kaede and Kagome as they collected herbs and administered any needed medical aid, Jaken was always nearby. The little imp was ordered to keep the girl from harm lest he want to incur the wrath of the Western Lord. If any harm did befall the girl, the one who imposed it would likely be skinned alive. The toad had grumbled about his assignment at first but a swift, well-placed kick to the head by a booted foot served as good motivation. With both his charge and retainer occupied, Sesshomaru had time to ponder the thoughts that had been festering in his mind since Kaede's proclamation and the events of Christmas. He was rather agitated that with each passing day as he was unable to sort those muddled thoughts into something more coherent. Briefly, he entertained the thought of seeking counsel from the elder Priestess. That thought nearly drew a laugh from his set mouth. He would not be lowering himself to ask help from anyone, much less the human who was the root of his current problems.
As each day passed, Rin fell into the routine of waking somewhat early and staying at the camp just long enough to inform Sesshomaru of her destination then proceeding to the village in a joyful manner. She would spend her day helping Kaede and Kagome if they needed it then she would find Shippou then gather the other village children and they would play various games. Rin taught them games that she had made up on her journey with Sesshomaru and then they would return the favor; showing her other games that she had always been excluded from in her village and teaching her the rules.
Finally, the day of celebration came and Kagome had asked Rin if she wanted to help gather some of the items they needed. Of course, the child wholeheartedly agreed. The two proceeded to the camp that Sesshomaru had set up and the miko asked if they could borrow Ah-Un. They would have asked to use Kirara, but the demon cat was helping Sango with something and the items they needed weren't close enough to walk to. In response to the question, the inuyoukai narrowed his eyes but gave them permission nevertheless. If he had to guess, the miko asked Rin's assistance in order to acquire the services of the two-headed dragon. Or, she was being the kind person she seemed to be and knew the girl would have little else to do in the village today. Sesshomaru didn't care enough to dwell on the miko's motivation as he simply stared at the pair while they mounted the dragon. The hanyou's wench was somewhat capable of protecting herself and the youkai lord knew Rin would be safe with her and the two-headed beast. Sesshomaru watched them a moment once they were in the air before allowing his mind to drift to the events that were likely to unfold tonight.
The past days that old Priestess had been giving him knowing smirks whenever they happened to chance upon each other. Never one to let his emotions show, he drowned his irritation with the miko and kept his thoughts bundled tightly within the depths of his mind. Kaede was wise and perceptive for her age, even if she was a mere human. Perhaps it was because of all the time spent with Inuyasha that she was able to read Sesshomaru as well as she could. But a human could not understand a youkai of high standing such as himself, the mere thought was unfathomable. Understanding a hanyou meant nothing when it came to believing one could relate to a youkai.
Shifting his thoughts from the Priestess, he refocused on Rin. More specifically if the relationship between had really changed. The girl's actions hadn't altered much after calling him 'otou-san' nor had she called him that again which led him to believe that in the clutches of sleep as she was, she didn't realize her slip. Her bouncy, exuberant personality hadn't changed either and she often grinned at him. The youkai was well aware that she had given him the same smiles in the past but after his momentary lapse of emotion, he was unsure how to receive such actions. He realized that at her age she wouldn't understand the gravity of her actions and he seemed to be the only one constantly assessing what was said and done. The mere thought of...caring for someone stunned him. He had pushed others away for the longest time and his heart was seemingly unyielding to emotions. Rin, the girl so full of adoration and caring, was somehow able to reach the youkai's cold heart and melt the ice surrounding it.
Somewhere along the way he had come to understand that the girl would change him. Putting to much faith in his impassive cloak and stoic nature had given the lord a false sense of security though. The more the thought swirled through his mind, the more he began to come to terms with the prospect that there was someone who cared about him and he in turn cared for them.
The normally alert youkai lord was so engrossed in his thoughts that he didn't hear the slow, crunching approach of another. Nor did he register the orange glowing orb near the horizon. When his sharp ears finally picked up on the sound, the intruder was nearly upon the camp. The slow pace indicated that whoever it was coming was of no threat. With a single inhale, the inuyoukai caught the sharp scent of aged spices, the dry aroma of dirt, a hint of herbs, and the slight tang of a miko. His body relaxed at the confirmation that there was no threat as he waited for the woman to appear.
As she cleared the tree line and her eyes fell upon the youkai lord she breathed a small sigh of relief. The walk through the woods had no doubt caused her labored breathing. Her body was not as youthful as it once was and was hindering her travels. Slowly, she hobbled toward the still figure of the Western Lord, his eyes sliding to her in silent acknowledgment. She assessed him a moment before speaking.
"Love is not a weakness, you know." Kaede said gently, watching the youkai lord. "It's quite the opposite; such a strong emotion empowers. It is nowhere near the fault you may believe it is. People can do amazing things when its for one they love..." Her old eyes which held much wisdom studied the inuyoukai thoughtfully. His face was impassive as ever but his eyes looked far away as he stared ahead. If she looked close enough, the Priestess could see the corners of his mouth twitch occasionally though it was unknown what expression he was concealing. "The heart is quite an extraordinary thing...it's likely to be right in who it chooses."
The Priestess's uncanny ability to identify what he was thinking would have surprised him if he was not already grown accustomed to it during his stay. Rather than respond he mulled over her words, wondering what truth they held and if he should even care.
"It's getting late," Kaede said when it became apparent he wouldn't respond. "I came up here to see if Kagome and Rin had returned, but I see their travels must be taking longer than expected."
Golden eyes flicked to the Priestess at her last statement. "Exactly where were they going?" And why aren't they back yet?Worry flitted through Sesshomaru's mind as he realized that the two had been gone for quite some time indeed.
"Ah, they said it was a surprise." The old woman waved off his question. She turned and started back to the trail through the woods. "You might as well come, I'm sure that dragon of yours can figure out how to get to my hut." With that she left the western lord alone with his thoughts.
In the growing darkness it was easy to allow his mind to conjure images of a bloodied Rin with grotesque demons feasting upon her body. He felt his youkai pulse and knew his clear eyes were now tinged with red. As the anger he felt escalated as did the need to hunt the girl down to ensure her safety. To slaughter anyone that dared lay a finger on her with the intent to harm. Lips curled upwards to reveal a pristine set of quickly sharpening fangs and the surrounding air became intoxicating with power.
"Sesshomaru-sama! Sesshomaru-sama! Sessh-AH!" The squawking was cut short as the imp face planted into the ground, mere feet from his master's imposing figure. Finally lifting his head, the only thing Jaken saw was the fading signs of Sesshomaru's true youkai form and a composed-and irritated-face staring at him, silently demanding the reason for his presence. "A-A-Ah... Everyone is at the Priestess's hut! A-a-and the m-miko just arrived with Rin."
Without a word, Sesshomaru rose gracefully and followed the same path the Priestess had. Jaken squabbled behind him, in awe of the way his master seemed to float through the moonlit forest. His staring and lack of attentiveness earned him several face fulls of dirt as he repeatedly tripped on nothing. Sesshomaru tuned out the ramblings as his retainer began to talk. He focused his thoughts on Rin's arrival back and whether or not the Priestess had purposefully worded her statement the way she did. Must be taking longer than expected...Perchance she had meant to instill worry in him. Maybe she just wanted to get a reaction out of the youkai. But she didn't stay to see his reaction so that mustn't be it. Perhaps she had only wanted to make himaware of his reaction...She seemed to be wanting to him to acknowledge that he possessed feelings. He wouldn't put it past the woman to manipulate his already raw mind and plant the seed of something dangerous, knowing it would grow in seconds and cause quite the response. She hadn't witnessed his near change, but she knew it was something that he would not easily forget. The old woman was crafty, he could attest to that much.
Setting his fine features into his typical emotional void as they reached the hut, Sesshomaru proceeded inside as if it was his own dwelling. As if he would allow the Priestess the knowledge of how riled he had become. Though it was likely she already knew something of it. Repressing an irritated sigh, fierce golden eyes scanned the small home quickly searching for one being in particular. When her light giggle floated to his keen ears and he was able to assure her well-being the tension that had coiled tightly in his muscles finally eased away. Upon taking what was now 'his' seat by the fire, the little girl made her way to greet him.
"Sesshomaru-sama! Are you excited? I am! Kagome-chan says it'll be a lot of fun," Rin laughed and stared at him happily. "She even got a surprise! Oh no... I wasn't supposed to say anything! Please, Sesshomaru-sama, don't say anything!" Her chocolate eyes grew large as she pleaded with the youkai lord.
"Do not worry." Another may have needed more reassurance, but being in his presence for so long had taught Rin that if he said he wouldn't tell then her slip-up was a safe secret. Her eyes brightened once more and as she bounded back to the kitsune she didn't see her lord's hard eyes soften slightly.
The night wore on slowly. The monk had made an early attempt at the sake stash and was quickly berated by Kaede; she explained that it was for later, preferably once the children were safely tucked in. Not one to be down for long, the leech went back to trying to 'seduce'-which, honestly, was more like molesting-the demon slayer. His advances there were also shut down. That left him only with the company of a hanyou or youkai as the young miko decided to stick to her female friend. Wisely choosing the hanyou, the two males laughed and joked. Perverse comments were made and several 'sits' were issued along with slaps if ever such remarks were heard by the women in the group. The children played relentlessly, somehow still possessing boundless energy even though the moon had risen quite high. It seemed as though the two had made a game out of making Jaken squawk. Whoever got the loudest response was the winner. To be honest, it was quite obnoxious. It only bother the youkai lord though as the others were engrossed in their own worlds and Kaede was watching the duo with fond eyes.
After much pestering, the monk was awarded with his sake. The children had calmed and were playing quietly now. The drink was passed around, everyone taking some. Except for Sesshomaru and Kaede. The Priestess claimed someone needed to be aware enough to take care of the kids. The youkai lord was grateful that he would not be the only one in a stable state of mind. He quickly found that there was great amusement to be found in watching his drunken companions though it would be nice to have an intelligent conversation with the Priestess if he tired of the amusement his hanyou brother offered.
"Oh, come on! Saangoooo-chaan," Miroku drawled, swaying closer to her. "Ya wanna and ya know it!~" Laughter consumed him and he fell forward. Unperturbed by his bumble, he continued trying to win the slayer's heart. "BEAR MY BABIES!"
The only response he received was a weak, halfhearted slap and a chorus of giggles as the slayer flushed even more. She made an attempt to tell him how wrong he was, but it only came out as muffled grumbling and more laughing. The youkai lord was surprised that either of them could speak; they had consumed the most sake and were far past level of consumption that allowed them some type of thought process.
His hanyou half-brother was slightly more sober with only a light dusting of blush on his face. His eyes skittered around at a furious pace as if he were trying to follow some bug. It was likely that his eyes were indeed mapping the route of some invisible hallucination on his part. The young miko was leaning heavily on said hanyou, a look of pure happiness on her face. Having taken a mere sip of the sake had enabled her to keep her wits. It seemed that she was rather enjoying the way the hanyou allowed her play with his hair and hold his hand. More than once the youkai thought he saw his hanyou brother snuggle with the miko. The drunken act of affection was not lost on the miko as her eyes lit up every time they grew closer.
"Oh! What time is it!" Kagome was looking around the room, eyes wide and searching. She frowned when she saw the slayer and the monk huddled close, likely engaging in an activity that was best not to be seen. When she caught sight of the ever-level headed youkai lord she smiled slightly, "Sesshomaru-sama? Do you know what time it is?"
He debated on whether or not to answer the miko. After a moment of thought he said, "Hn. Nearly midnight."
With that the young miko jumped up, causing Inuyasha to fall as his point of balance left his side. "Okay! Rin-chan, it's time!"
The girl gave a gleeful squeal and ran to the miko. They went to a bag that was in the corner of the hut as Kaede caught the attention of the rest of the group. There was the occasional sake-induced giggle, but otherwise all was quiet.
When to girls made their way back to the group, both were hiding something behind their backs. Mischievous grins replaced their normally sweet smiles as they eyed the people sitting around the fire.
"As you know, it's almost the New Year!" Kagome said. "And Rin-chan and I have a surprise for all of you! Do you wanna know what it is?"
A round of sloppy, slow nods followed by groans as vision blurred with the motion answered her question. When she looked to Kaede the old Priestess smiled and nodded as well. Both girls looked to the inuyoukai who merely stared back. Rin grinned and nodded up at Kagome.
"Okay then..." Kagome looked down at Rin and started to count down. "3...2...1!"
Both girls threw small, colorful pieces of paper into the air. They had multiple handful and threw them one after the other. The sheer amount of paper was overwhelming; it was so thick in the air that you almost couldn't see the person next to you. It showered the occupants of the room and left a nice layer of color on the otherwise dull floor. Before the last pieces had fallen the girls had another mysterious thing in their hands. As everyone laughed about the confetti, Kagome pulled Sango up to stand with her and Rin. She soon held the same item as the other two girls. The miko whispered something in her ear and they broke out with matching grins.
"Happy New Year!" Rin, Kagome, and Sango said in unison. After that they broke up; Sango stood by Miroku, Kagome by Inuyasha, and Rin by Sesshomaru.
Kagome sat down by the confused hanyou. A smirk present as she leaned forward and quickly pushed her lips against his. His golden eyes widen in surprise before he returned the kiss with an intensity that was inappropriate for the small audience they had. The monk and slayer were in a similar position, though the monk somehow managed to have Sango laying across his lap.
Both girls pulled away from their kisses, faces heavy with blush as they giggled. They looked at each other once before they grabbed the object from earlier which appeared to be a small tube with a string at one end. With a nod at each other, they both yanked on the string. Two loud pops resonated through the air and more confetti shot from the tube, showering both couples with the sparkling materials. They quickly lost themselves in more joyful laughter and kisses.
"Uh..Sesshomaru-sama?" Rin's quiet voice brought the youkai back to reality as he stopped pondering why humans would act so...well, human. He watched her silently, waiting for her to continue. "Can I..uh...um..." She wasn't one to stutter and the fact that she was caused a thread of worry to weave it's way into the youkai lord's mind.
Before he could open his mouth to prompt her to continue he felt tiny arms wrap around his neck and hold tight. She hugged him tightly and buried her face into the fluff on his shoulder. He was frozen, utterly shocked by her bold actions. Slowly and seemingly of its own accord, he felt his arm rise and return the girl's affection. When he responded he felt her arms tighten even more-if possible, and had he been human, he would have thought she was going to suffocate him. Finally, she pulled away and looked at him with such love and affection that he could nearly feel the ice around his heart melting. Quickly, she placed a kiss on his cheek and pulled the string on her confetti cannon giggling happily. "Happy New Year!"
"Awwwwwwwwwww, look at dat! Looks like Sesshy-sama has an admir-gah!" The monk's observation was quickly stopped when Sango shoved his face into the floor. She glared daggers into his head as if that could fix the moment he had broken.
Cold, gold eyes seemed to pierce the monk's soul when he finally looked up. "Sesshy-sama?" The youkai growled out, annoyance obvious.
The barely concealed threat sobered the monk a bit as he scratched at the back of his head and tried to avoid eye contact with the youkai, "Eheheh...Sorry, Sesshomaru-sama..."
A tug on his sleeve distracted the angered lord from disemboweling the monk. Drawing his eyes away from Miroku, he saw Rin smiling at him. Not her normal 'happy with life' smile. No, this was the one she used when she wanted to know something, her big eyes boring into his with such an undying look of hope that most would bend to her will.
She pulled at his confetti-covered fluff so that he was leaning towards her, a pointed ear at her level. "Will you be my otou-san?" She whispered, voice quivering slightly in fear of rejection and hurt.
Her eyes were glued to the floor and when he didn't answer he could smell the distinct scent of tears. She started to turn away. "Rin." She stopped and slowly looked at him with watery eyes. He maintained eye contact as he waited for her to decipher what he meant with that single word. She had much practice in finding the hidden meaning when he spoke such short sentences, but in her emotional state it took her a moment longer.
He lifted his hand and gently brushed away the single tear the had begun it's trail down her cheek. With that one motion, she broke out into a grin and launched herself at him, nearly toppling the great inuyoukai lord. She was a giggling mass of happy as she hugged him again. Nearly forgetting the audience they had, the great Western Lord felt the corners of his lips pull upward in a slight smile. It was the most emotion anyone in the room-apart from Rin and Jaken-had ever seen the icy lord display. And being to afraid to call him on it-and too drunk to realize what was really going on-they averted their eyes from the spectacle and quickly fell into their own little worlds.
"Sesshomaru-sama." Kaede spoke quietly enough as to not disturb the others but loud enough for the inuyoukai to hear even without his enhanced senses. "I believe that sparkles suit you quite well." She said in the most serious tone, though a wry grin was pulling at her mouth.
Only then did he realize that he was indeed still covered with the confetti that Rin had bombarded him with. And his precious fur...covered in the the colorful pieces of paper and the tiny sparkles that would no doubt be hell to remove. He turned to Rin with a stern look on his face. She read it to mean, What do you have to say for yourself?
Small hands rose up and tried to brush the offending particles from the fur. She succeeded with removing the larger pieces but it seemed that the tiny specks of glitter were wedged to far deep to be simply brushed away. She bit her lip lightly and looked back at him, "Oops?"
Kaede laughed wholeheartedly, a smile plastered to her face as she held her sides slightly. It had been a long while since she could laugh like that and she was grateful for the chance to witness the high and mighty Sesshomaru covered in glitter. It was something she was not likely to forget. She only wished that the others weren't drunk; they'd enjoy a good laugh as well. The icy glare she was getting didn't dim her joy much. Perhaps, she thought. It is better they won't remember. Sesshomaru would not live this one down if Inuyasha saw. The mere thought of some of the hanyou's remarks made her chuckle. Luckily, Shippou had fallen asleep at some point. Though it's likely that he would be to fearful of the youkai lord to utter a word of his new...look.
"Now, now don't be like that." She smiled lightly once her laughter had subsided. "You two can stay another night if you like. I'm sure this lot will pass out here, but we have another empty hut if you like."
"Sessho-Otou-san and me will camp in the woods like before! Then in the morning we can say goodbye!" Rin butted in before Sesshomaru could answer. When she turned to him for confirmation he let out a sigh, but nodded.
Kaede nodded, "Well then. Just don't forget your toad."
With that Rin and Sesshomaru broke away, collected Jaken and proceeded to their campsite. A fire was started and Rin decided to take a risk; instead of laying with Ah-Un, she would lay by her otou-san. With a determined look on her face and walked over to where the inuyoukai was seated and poked his arm lightly. When he turned to look at her she smiled and laid down, resting her head on his leg. There was no reaction, just as she expected. Lulled by the warmth the fire offered and the feeling of safety that being near the youkai lord gave her, she was quickly asleep.
The silent night air was punctuated with the snores of the imp and the deep, heavy breaths of the two-headed dragon. Insects called out to each other and a stream babbled quietly, each noise blending in perfect harmony, creating night's wonderful soundtrack. Sesshomaru tilted his head back, exposing his face to the moonlight as he went over what had happened earlier that night. He was now someone's otou-san. Something he never thought he'd be nor even desired. Yet, here he was with Rin curled up beside him, hands fisted in the silk cloth adorning his leg. For the first time in a long while, the Western Lord felt...content. At that one moment in time he had everything he could ever desire. As the minutes passed by, he began to run his hand over the girl's hair, the repetitive motion somehow soothing. He sat that way the rest of the night; lulled into a state of relaxation that he had been unable to reach for a long time. For the second time within a month, the great youkai smiled. Perhaps I could get used to this expression, he thought to himself as he kept watch over the camp.
Addict's Notes: Well thar it is. Is it too rushed? I think so... I know I totally blew the ending, sorry. I just didn't know exactly how to do it... Sorry for the OOC-ness once again. And yes, I know that Kaede's hut shouldn't be able to fit them all but just pretend it is! And if this is confusing (which I think it is) pleeaasse say something so I can fix it. Anyway, hope ya liked :) And let me know if there are any mistakes, which if there are I apologize. I slacked a bit on the editing part of this...Oops