*A/N - Here is the last chapter! I changed this around a bit basically because this was the chapter I hated the most and it took me a long time to find a way to resolve it. I still don't like it a hundred percent, but there is nothing I can really do without changing the whole plot and screwing up the sequel.

I apologize for how long this chapter is. I added a lot to it and I couldn't find a decent place to break it apart.

Anyway, enjoy and thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: As usual I do not own Inuyasha, just my own made up characters.

Warnings: violence, minor language, minor sexual content*

Chapter 4 - Reaching an End and Starting a Beginning

Rin led them up the rocky incline, avoiding the main road and taking the quiet approach towards the back end of the castle. The place was similar to a giant impeding fortress on a mountaintop. She scoped the area out as best she could. Sesshomaru offered his insights when she needed them, informing her that he could sense the dragon lord in the room at the back of the palace. With all its protections, she found it silly that the throne room would contain a glass roof. It would make for the easiest entrance, but they wouldn't have much time. Not that it mattered, once the dragon lord flared his energies, the others would certainly sense it.

Rin sat at the edge of the cliff, her small form easily hidden snuggly between two rocks. She worked quickly, dipping all her arrows into the poison. She took out her kodachi and coated each of the blades in an additional layer. She then popped the lid back on and handed it to Lord Sesshomaru. He merely eyed her wearily.

"Just take it." She sighed. "You don't have to use it, but I'd feel better if you have it on you just in case."

He frowned, but swiped the bottle from her anyway. "Please don't throw it away." She said again.

"I won't." He nearly growled. "But I find it insulting you think so little of my abilities."

"And I find it foolish running into a dangerous battle without taking the proper precautions." She retorted. "Pride is so very dangerous." She thought as he scoffed at her statement. "I know you're the most powerful demon, Lord Sesshomaru, but even the most powerful being in all the land is not invincible to everything. I'd just feel better if you were more careful." She attempted to distract herself by busying her hands with her arrows.

She did not look at him when silence followed that statement. She probably shouldn't have said that. "You needn't worry about me, nor should you." She visibly winced at his remark.

"With all due respect, Lord Sesshomaru, you have no say over the concerns of my heart." She lifted her eyes to meet his.

"You certainly have changed a lot over these few short years." The words were barely above a whisper and she grimaced in response.

"Yes, Lord Sesshomaru, I have changed. I have grown up and learned to look at the world with a new set of eyes. I learned that dreams and fantasies are things for children, that nothing works out the way you wish it to so you must do what you can to make the best of it. I am not blind anymore. I see now what I should have seen a long time ago." Rin exploded her hushed explanation to the air. She felt so incredibly hurt that he saw her differently than from what she once was. It was terrible that with her adult age, came the adult frame of mind. Nothing was as easy and care free as it was when she was a child. Everything was so much more complicated.

"Rin." She steadied her frantic breathing and stilled her trembling lip. "My observation was not intended to be negative. I was simply stating a fact."

"It was not a fact that needed to be voiced, especially coming from you. You don't state the obvious." She continued. "That would be a waste of your time."

"Rin." She tried to ignore that commanding tone of voice, the one that told her to stop what she was doing and listen to him. There was no point in arguing with him. She was leaving after this. All she had to do was assist him in taking over these lands and then it would be over. She'd go somewhere else. She'd find someplace where she could belong.

"My apologies, Lord Sesshomaru, I'm just nervous. I'm ready when you are." She stated confidently while pushing any anger and sorrow away. Lord Sesshomaru was eyeing her carefully. She was hoping he would just ignore this spat and move on with what they had to do. "Please just let this end so I can move on with my life."

Sesshomaru was beyond curious about what was going on in Rin's mind. She was so angry one minute and then overwhelmingly distraught the next. Then a few moments later, she pushes that all away and becomes her normal joyous self or puts on her serious mask to move forward with her task. It was getting difficult to decipher where it was all coming from. She was warring with herself.

He stepped forward towards the cliff, looking up at the intimidating castle above. "Hold on to me." He ordered. Her face scrunched up in her confusion, an expression even he found amusing. "Grab onto my shoulders and I will fly us up to the glass ceiling. Just be prepared for our fight." He ordered again.

She nodded while carefully approaching. Her bow and arrows were slung across her back and her swords clipped to her sash. She hesitantly put one hand on each shoulder, her touch so light she'd never be able to hold on with that grip. "Hold on tighter, Rin." He allowed a bit more agitation to leak onto his words. He would have never tolerated having to repeat himself to any other being in this world, yet with Rin he had more patience. He could feel her tension pouring from her at the slightest touch.

Her grip instantly tightened as her arms wrapped forward around his neck and pulled her legs up around his waist. She let out a quiet shrill at the sudden repositioning. He began moving up the side of the mountain towards their destination.

He could feel her face pressed against his shoulder as they moved up the mountain. He could barely make out some of her hushed reassuring words as they reached the castle. With one final jump, they were on the ledge of the castle, just out of sight of those in the throne room.

"What should I do?" Rin asked quietly from beside him.

"Stay up here and attack from this range. Keep an eye out for any approaching dragons and call me if you see anything approaching." He commanded. He would allow her to fight from afar, but he'd be damned if he allowed her to face one without his supervision.

"Ok, I'm ready when you are, Lord Sesshomaru."

He glanced at her one last time, suddenly feeling that this was a mistake. How did he go from refusing to allow her to pick up a bow to having her fight some of the fiercest demons in existence? There was no time to consider the possibilities now. "Bakusaiga!" He yelled as he hit the glass ceiling of the throne room. The entire ceiling shattered as Bakusaiga deteriorated it to nothing. Inside was the dragon lord himself.

"So Sesshomaru, you've finally come to claim my land for yourself." He smirked. "I was wondering when you would finally show."

"I'm so pleased you were expecting me. Since you've had time to prepare yourself, I might actually have to put a slight bit of effort into this." Sesshomaru said as he charged him. The room contained the dragon lord himself along with two guards. They didn't last long as Rin fired her poisoned arrows into each one, making quick work of their iron-like skin. He, on the other hand, was finding it impossible to penetrate the dragon lord's skin.

"What is this now? A little human with the powers of a dragon? Ah, my little Miku must have gotten her pretty claws into you." The dragon lord smirked while glancing at Sesshomaru. "I shall string your pretty little head up on the wall for her to see when I drag her back here by her horns."

Sesshomaru felt rage bubbling up his spine at the image he provoked. He snarled while slicing Bakusaiga into him with all the force he could muster. The dragon lord laughed at the small gash that resulted. "You'll have to do better than that pup." The old man shouted as his arm began to glow. He then swung his forearm towards Sesshomaru, hitting his chest with enough force to crack several ribs and then sending him flying into the wall.

"Lord Sesshomaru!" Rin shouted while aiming her arrow at the enemy demon lord. She released the arrow and Sesshomaru watched as it pierced his shoulder. He cried out in a fury as he ripped the offending projectile from his arm. He then smirked while a blue-black haze emanated from him. His body started transforming into his full demon form. Sesshomaru cursed inwardly as the demon's eyes were locked solely on Rin.

Rin gasped as she saw the dragon lord fly at her. She jumped towards the slanted roof to the side of what once was the throne room dome window. She landed on the incline, desperately clinging to the roof as best she could without slipping further down. The demon lord had flown passed her, narrowly missing her body. He hovered in the air, watching her like she was an insect scurrying away. She would not scurry away. Not like this.

She pointed her arrow towards the beast, waiting for him to make a move. "Such an interesting creature you are. Who would have known that the great Lord Sesshomaru would fall victim to a tragic weakness similar to my own daughter's. I'm going to enjoy ripping that pretty little skull from your body."

Rin did the only thing she could in this situation. She taunted him. A smirk lit up her features. "You are welcome to try."

The demon lord laughed wickedly. Good, it would buy her some time while Lord Sesshomaru recovered. "Do you not realize that my army is waiting patiently in the barracks for me to summon them? Do you not understand all it would take is one call and you would be more than overwhelmed? Your Lord is a fool, girl. He has led you to your death."

"No." Rin said confidently. "I have led you to yours." And with that, Rin released her arrow, which the dragon easily avoided.

"If only I could keep you alive. Your words are pure enjoyment, little girl." He stretched out his elongated neck while a glowing black energy formed in his open mouth. Rin pulled her kodachi from their hilts and spun the blades in her hands.

"You're not too wise, are you?" Rin continued to tease him as she caught a glimpse of white appearing from the depths of the throne room, moving faster than her eyes could truly follow. She never really thought she could block his attack, but why not let him believe it?

Just as the demon lord was about to shoot the beam of acidic death at her, Sesshomaru struck. "Bakusaiga!" His sword's attack was laced with Rin's black poison, ripping into the demon lord's protective skin barrier and deep into his flesh.

"May you find peace in the afterlife." Rin whispered while releasing an arrow aimed at the dragon's heart. He was too distracted by Sesshomaru to notice the small point flying into his heart, ripping it to pieces. He let out a terrifying roar on his last breath that shook the entire mountain.

"All humans are born pure, Rin, not like demons. But over time, they lose that purity in exchange for other things." Miku explained from position in the grass. "You are still young. You still have that pure heart. I hope that you will keep it for as long as you live."

"Pure heart?" Rin asked, still confused at what she was trying to say.

"Some people call it ignorance. Others call it idle fancy. And some like to call it innocence. It's the ability to see the good in life and the good in people. It's the ability to bring out the best in others. When you are a child, all you see is the good. You look to the future and find promise and happiness. There is a point in life when that outlook is distorted and it changes humans. There is greed and corruption and pain all around. And there are people causing it, feeding into it, and reveling in it. That's what destroys a pure heart." Miku explained her ideas with such enthusiasm that Rin couldn't help but feel the truth of it.

"Miku, I don't think I have a pure heart." Rin admitted.

"You give everyone a chance to be good. When you see someone hurting, you help them no matter who they are. You allow people a second chance, Rin. Trust me. You are one of the good ones." Silence fell between them as they sat in the grass, staring up at the clouds.

"I knew someone like you once. He believed that in the afterlife we find peace. He thought that we'd find that purity again when our souls escape our corrupted bodies. He said that even demons are worthy of it." Her voice trembled as she smiled sadly at the sky. "That's why every time someone dies, no matter how awful they were or whether they were human or demon, I prayed that they'd find peace in the afterlife."

Rin's let out a shaky sigh as Lord Sesshomaru landed next to her. "You used it." She said while attempting to catch her breath, referring to the black aura around Bakusaiga.

"Yes." He affirmed. There was a steady silence between them as they tried to collect their thoughts. Their quiet was abruptly interrupted, however, by loud shrieks echoing all around. "It isn't over." Rin's eyes scanned the area frantically at Lord Sesshomaru's words. The last cry out from the demon lord had summoned countless demons appearing from the other side of the estate.

"Oh no." Rin raised her bow and aimed it towards the mass of dragons. "Poisoned Barrage!" She yelled while releasing her arrow. It flew into the air, splitting apart again and again until a countless number of arrows filled the sky like a dark cloud blocking out the sun. Sesshomaru followed the flood of arrows as they impaled into the incoming dragons. The projectiles burned into the dragons' skin, allowing for Sesshomaru to effortlessly destroy the demons with a few simple swipes.

"Well this is easy." Rin mused while continuing her firing. She was almost out of arrows at this point, but it mattered little. The remaining dragons were either being obliterated by Lord Sesshomaru or fleeing for the mountain pass. This was easier than she ever expected. She wondered if the dragons grew too complacent in their intimidating fortress.

She barely noticed the hissing noise from behind her as a force threw her across the roof. She clung desperately to the tiny ledge she fell from, attempting to pull herself up. "I will destroy you, human." The female dragon hissed. She was in her full demon form, but Rin could deduce that she was indeed the Lady Dragon.

Sesshomaru appeared only a moment later, slashing Bakusaiga towards the beast. She managed to dodge the attack completely, while flinging her tail at Sesshomaru. Rin took the opportunity to pull herself back onto the roof. She was out of arrows at this point and could only rely on her blades.

Rin carefully climbed on the differently pitched rooftops, maneuvering to the back of the demon. When she was to the demon's back she ran towards it on silent feet and stabbed the first blade into the demons tail, pinning it to roof. The demon cried out while whipped her long neck around to see Rin climbing up her back. The Lady Dragon attempted to throw Rin while protecting herself from Lord Sesshomaru's slashes at the front.

"Rin, don't!" He growled while trying to keep the dragon's attention. Each slash held the potential to hit Rin.

The dragon attempted to fly in the air, but its tail being pinned to the roof caused it to crash back down on its side away from Sesshomaru. Rin also fell to the roof, but recovered quickly. She took her blackened blade and slammed it down across the dragon's neck, attempting to dislodge her head. She was in a haze of adrenaline, attempting to just survive.

Sesshomaru came and finished the job, slicing his sword effortlessly into the beast's throat and removing her head. Rin fell to her knees, trembling from the fight. It was over. There were no more demonic roars, no more threats nearby. It wasn't completely silent, though. Signs of life that Rin hadn't noticed before were returning. Winter birds were chirping in the trees and the sounds of snapping branches from various animals could be heard in the distance. It was like a tension in the forest had been melted.

"You did well, Rin." Lord Sesshomaru praised from his spot on the roof. He was looking out into the distance, taking in his new lands. His voice brought her back to her current reality. She remembered the promise she made to herself. She had done what she set out to do for him and now she no longer belonged here with him. In merely a few days, Jaken would return with Sesshomaru's men…and his family. There was no room for her here.

She took a deep breath, steeling herself for this final task. She pushed herself to her feet and meandered over to the broken body of the dragon lord. She pulled the arrow from his remains, observing it while she searched for her courage. After a few moments, she locked her eyes on his form. There he stood in all his glory, the great demon lord ruling more land than any other demon lord in existence. He held all the power in his hand. He didn't need her.

"Lord Sesshomaru." She ensured her voice was void of all emotion. She spoke with the confidence that came with a finalized decision. "I'm leaving."

He turned quickly, his face marred with his confusion. It was nearly laughable. She never was able to shock him like that.

"I helped you complete this task. I am grateful that you have accepted that I am indeed strong enough to fight by your side, but I do not belong here."

Lord Sesshomaru was silent. He stared with such intensity that her entire body ached to flee. The air was filled with a tension that felt ready to explode. Rin couldn't breathe. Everything depended on what he was about to say. What would he say?

He looked away from her and back out over the horizon. "Where will you go?"

Rin felt her heart crush and shatter. That was it. There was no refusal. There was no command that she couldn't leave. There was no begging of her to stay. It was just a question of where she would end up and she didn't have that answer.

"I don't know." She joined him in looking out over the horizon.

"Then I suggest you stay, until you have that answer."

She swallowed hard. So desperately she wanted to say yes. So desperately she wanted to stay by his side, but that would never be enough for her. She could not do that to herself. She could not watch from the sidelines as the man she loved devoted himself to another woman. Staying here was impossible.

"I can't." She whispered.

"As you wish, Rin." He quickly turned and grabbed her around the waist. She startled as he leaped, landing on the frozen pathway leading up to the castle. He released her quickly and began making his way back into his new home.

That was it. There was no goodbye, no I'll miss you, no hopes for the future. Rin felt absolutely devastated as she watched the man she grew to love more than anyone in this world walk away like it was nothing, disappearing behind the walls of his new fortress. "Goodbye, Lord Sesshomaru."

How could she do this? How could she just up and leave. Of course he would not stop her. He had always let her make her own decisions, and now that she had proven herself more than capable, there was no reason to protect her either. She was not his, not in the way he wished.

"Damn it." He growled while slamming his fist against the stone wall, causing a cloud of dust to explode into the air. Why was this so difficult for him? He knew that this would be best for both of them. She sent his thoughts to madness with unexplainable desires. Who knows how long it would have been before he finally gave in and then he would have to deal with the mess involving Kimiko. Of course his father had his fair share of lovers, but he was not his father and Rin was not just some human lover. She was too innocent, too pure, to be a creature of lust. No she deserved a man's full attention, his full devotion.

A snarl echoed throughout the room and he could barely believe it came from him. Just the mention, the thought, of Rin with another man drove him to fury. Had he really fallen so far? Did he really let her slip so deep within himself without noticing?

"You truly are an idiot, aren't you?" A wickedly satisfied voice called to him from the far corner of the room.

Sesshomaru flung himself around to meet the gaze of a dragon demon, but she was different. She did not match in their form. She looked more…human than anything else. "The heiress." He recognized those eyes immediately, the ones filled with sadness.

"You are making a mistake." She said while approaching the staircase that led down to the main hall.

"The only mistake I'm currently making is allowing you to live long enough to speak." He retorted.

"You should not have let her go." The dragon said, her amused smile falling off her face.

"What does it matter to you what I do? Your father is dead like you always wanted."

"Yes, I was indeed surprised you kept your promise." She teased.

"I did not promise you anything." He paused for a moment, his eyes narrowing slightly as the revelation hit him. "You used Rin."

"It was happenstance. You refused my mating contract so I had to resort to other methods. You needed the poison to win."

Sesshomaru scoffed. "You put her life in danger."

"No, you put her life in danger. I simply gave her the tools to protect herself." She argued.

"Miku…" His tone of voice was threatening. It was almost boarder line promising of very painful things to come to her if she did not stop playing her games.

"Anyway, Lord Sesshomaru, I saw the poor thing weeping her eyes out as she walked down the road. My original statement stands. You're an idiot." She crossed her arms in a huff. "I never did tell you why I hated my father so much, did I?"

Sesshomaru gave her an incredulous look, his patience for her nonsense simply stemming from her aid, but it was thinning regardless. He truly did not care where her hatred originated from, but if this involved Rin, he wanted to hear it.

Miku let a coy smile show. "I suppose youmight understand my situation better than most. My father raised me much like any other demon lord would raise his demon children, with an iron ruthlessness that shows no semblance of love. Much like you Lord Sesshomaru, I knew very little of what it meant to be compassionate or kind." She continued to speak as she made her way down the stairs, taking the risk of coming into his range.

"When I grew into my adolescent state I began exploring. I would destroy nearby human villages and laugh as I killed the helpless pathetic humans that lived in them. There was one, however, that caught my attention. I had killed his entire village. He was a young man, perhaps he was just stupid, but he faced me with no fear at all. I toyed with him, but no matter how many times he was struck down, he didn't lose that fearlessness. He didn't let his resolve break. He was going to fight me until his death."

"Perhaps it was a weakness on my part, but I kept him. He was my pet. I was curious about him. He was unlike any other human I met. Most just cowered and hid in the corner, but he was strong. When I brought him home, many of my brethren thought I was weak for it. My father was furious with me and told me to get rid of him. I didn't, of course. Instead I left and traveled, allowing him with me." Miku was smiling at this point.

"During my travels with him, I let myself get complacent. I let my guard down and he found a way into my heart. He went from being my pet to being my lover. I had done the unthinkable, but he did something to me that I cannot describe. It was like my whole body would warm when he was in my presence. I would actually get giddy, or so he told me. It was as if he filled an empty place in my heart that had been empty since the day I was born."

"When I had grown bored of traveling, I returned home. By this time I had two of his children, half demons. I returned home to prove a point to my father, that not all humans were bad. I was very foolish." Miku let out a sad chuckle as if to laugh at her own mistake.

"When I returned, my father was absolutely furious. His rage overcame him and he slaughtered my love and two children with one swipe of his weapon. I slipped into a full-fledged rage, attempting to kill him. I failed and was forced out of my own homeland. I had nothing left." Miku's face turned grim as she remembered the horrible time.

After a few moments of silence, she looked up at Sesshomaru. "You had returned to your lands and I devised a plan. I'd petition for a mating contract with you and then help you kill my father. In return I'd relinquish my lands to you. Unfortunately my plans failed when you refused me, saying I wrong. What did that mean anyway?"

Sesshomaru stared into her eyes, still seeing that same flaw he saw nearly nine years ago now. "Your eyes. They show how broken you truly are. I did not want a mate devoted to another."

"Yes, I suppose I wear my despair on my sleeve, so to speak. Regardless, when you told me you'd claim my father's lands without my help, I knew I had to find a way to assist. You refused my gifts so I went to the next best thing. I did a little digging and discovered your little visits to the girl in the village. I got myself beat up a bit and then left myself in the woods for her to find. I was a bit envious of you Lord Sesshomaru. I was dumbfounded how you managed to attract such a pure soul to your cold heart." She smirked playfully at Sesshomaru before continuing. "When she spoke of you, it was with pure admiration. She made it too obvious how she truly felt about you. And here you are, breaking her heart like she was nothing but a piece of waste."

Sesshomaru charged her. The last of his patience left him as he pinned the squirming demon beneath a powerful grasp. "I know you don't truly think that way." Miku ground out. He took her by the throat and tossed her to the side. She coughed and sputtered, caught in her own little dust cloud. "That's why you're an idiot. You need to go back to her. You need to tell her how you truly feel or you will lose her forever."

"She wants to find her own life. I will not stop her." He said on a quiet, stoic voice.

"No. She wants you to chase after her. She wants you to tell her that you love her, idiot. That's how women work."

"Demons do not love."

"You're a freaking moron."

Sesshomaru closed his eyes and clenched his fist, taking a slow breath to push away the desire to kill this annoying creature. She was worse than Jaken.

"I get it, ok? You have a demon mate that wants nothing to do with her. You have little pups to take care of. You're an asshole for creating a family and leaving her out. She thought she was your family. She adores you and you abandoned her."

Sesshomaru should have felt anger at Miku's prodding words, but instead he felt pain. It pulsed in his heart and tightened his chest. He knew it was true.

"You were trying to secure your future and your lands, I get it. But she doesn't and she is the one that has to. You can't just let her walk away, all alone out there. She may be strong physically now, but her heart is still fragile. I know you don't love Kimiko. It's just a contract to ensure a future. Someone like Rin will only appear once in a lifetime for most people, Sesshomaru. For a lot of people someone like that doesn't come at all. Her lifespan is short enough as it is. You won't get a second chance at this. Stop denying it and just admit that you love her."

He lifted his eyes to meet hers defiantly. "If not as a mate, then at the very least, as family. She and Jaken are family. Your brother and his mate are family. That woman, Kaede, is family. You don't need blood to consider people family."

"If she stays here, everything will fall apart. Even I know I cannot have both."

"Then make your decision, Lord Sesshomaru. Pick your fate." Miku urged. "You will lose her if you let her slip away now."

Sesshomaru ground his teeth together. If he picked one, it would destroy the other. The one thing he could not deny is that he always regretted choosing Kimiko as a mate, but he could not throw her away. He was contracted. But the dragon was right. If he let Rin slip away now, she'd never forgive him.

An instant later he was disappearing out the door and into the trees to find his Rin.

The tears were beginning to freeze against the flushed skin of her cheeks. It felt like she had been walking for ages. She didn't even know where she was. She had passed an area where the road broke off. She took the road heading south instead of the one heading east. She wanted to head back to Kaede's. At least she knew she could make a life there to start. Maybe she'd find a suitable husband, a working man that earned his keep. She needed an honest man that didn't sneak off to create a second life without her. Or maybe she'd take up demon hunting with Kohaku or even work with Miroku and Inuyasha. Yes, that would be much better than suffering here.

"I'm such a fool." She said for probably the hundredth time. She didn't want to cry. She wanted to be strong, but she had never felt pain quite like this. It was different. She had felt the pain from the death of loved ones. She had felt the pain of literally dying, several times mind you. But never did she have to endure the pain of a broken heart. Perhaps she was not destined for happiness.

"My, my, my, what do we have here?" A familiar voice teased from the clearing ahead. "Honestly I was expecting to find you bedding my mate in the castle. Did he truly turn you away?" A twisted, sadistic laugh escaped her lips as Rin came face to face with Lady Kimiko.

"I am not a threat to you, Lady Kimiko. I'm leaving." Rin said forcefully while continuing her trek on the road.

"I don't think so little human. You see, you are a threat to me. As long as you live, you will be a threat to me and my kingdom. As long as Sesshomaru looks at you with that glint in his eye, you will be a threat to me. Do you know what I do to threats, human?"

Rin swallowed hard while placing her hands on her kodachi.

"I kill them." The words were said on a final whisper as Kimiko charged Rin. She dodged her charge, throwing herself to the ground. Kimiko came at her again, this time throwing her across the field. Kimiko jumped onto her, slamming a knee into her chest. Rin gasped as all her air was forced out of her lungs. "How does it feel, little human? How does it feel to be so insignificant?" Kimiko smiled as she began to wrap her fingers around Rin's neck. "I'm going to watch you slowly die."

Rin used every ounce of force she had to roll over, breaking free of Kimiko's hold and allowing her to finally unsheathe her kodachi. She swung the blades at the demon who attempted to block with her claws, but was caught by surprise when the black poison coating burned away her iron flesh. She shrieked while retreating to the other side of the clearing.

"Just leave me alone, Kimiko. I want nothing to do with any of this." Rin shouted.

"You're a damn liar. You're in love with him." Kimiko pointed her long claw at Rin, accompanying it with an accusatory stare. "He would drop me in a heartbeat for you. If you don't exist, he can't do that. And what better way to play it off than to make it look like you died to a wild beast. I will not pass up on this opportunity."

Kimiko ran at Rin, swiping her bony claws at her as she blocked with her swords. Kimiko retaliated with her own acidic poison that seeped from her claws. She managed to scrape her nails against Rin's shoulder, causing the flesh to burn away instantly. Rin cried out in pain while withdrawing against the trees. Kimiko continued to strike while Rin used the trees as a shield. It allowed for several openings where Rin could stab her sword into Kimiko's flesh. Unfortunately it affected her very little. Rin needed to strike her heart or remove her head.

"Stop squirming you worm!"

"Fine, have it your way." Rin maneuvered around one last tree, glancing back briefly to see Kimiko crash her hand through it. Then she sprinted with everything she had back to the clearing. She just need a little bit of distance. She pulled her bow from around her back and grabbed the last arrow she had. She pulled it back in the string and did a jumping turn. However, she did not expect Kimiko to be right on top of her, wearing a smug expression as she crashed her hand towards Rin's heart. Time stood still as the image ingrained in her mind. She was twisted in midair, her fingers pulling back the arrow in the bow, and ready to strike. Her foe was hovered above her, her arm pulled back slightly with green acid flowing from her fingers. She expected to soon feel a burning pain wrapped around her heart as Kimiko removed it from her chest, but she didn't.

Rin crashed onto her back as Kimiko was flung to the opposite side of the clearing. Lord Sesshomaru stood in the center. He was the one piece keeping the chaos at bay. "Enough." He growled, nearly breathless.

"My oh my. At least I was right. You do love her." Kimiko sneered while getting to her feet. He did not answer.

"Lord Sesshomaru?" Rin's voice was shocked, but also filled with hope.

"I will give you the western lands and take the pups off your hands. You will have your own kingdom to lay waste to. I will take the northern lands and all of this will go away." He offered. Rin nearly gasped at what she was hearing.

Kimiko laughed while she began walking the perimeter of the clearing. She was trying to get a straight path to Rin. "You'd give up your lands passed down to you by your father? For a human?" Her laughter was borderline hysterical as she repeated the offer aloud. "You really have lost your mind."

Sesshomaru's eyes narrowed as he stared down Kimiko like she was a feral beast capable of striking at any moment. "I want our contract voided."

The grin on Kimiko's face sent shivers through Rin. "Well, it certainly is a delectable offer, but what makes you think I want to give up my children to you for it?"

"Because it's in the contract. In the event of death, betrayal, or any other condition that would render the contract void, the child heirs will go the father." Sesshomaru reiterated the wording of their contract.

Rin was nearly stunned by the conversation. It truly was just a contracted business deal. How could they treat something as sacred as a coupling like it was a commodity?

"Ah yes, the contract. That stupid piece of parchment you made me sign. Fine then, I don't need the children. I can always make more." Kimiko said with pleasure. Rin scoffed at the vile words Kimiko was releasing into the air. "But I want more than just the western lands. I want it all, the whole kingdom. If you want to go play happily ever after with a human, then you can do it in a human village just like that half-wit brother of yours."

Sesshomaru growled as Rin got to her feet. This was not going to end well. "No. The western lands or none. Take your pick. You can have my inheritance or nothing at all."

"I can think of something better." Kimiko smirked wildly as she lowered her chin slightly. A maniacal expression flitted across her features. Without warning an electric blast flew from Kimiko's clawed hand at Lord Sesshomaru, causing him to move back and giving Kimiko one last opening to finish Rin off. Rin aimed her bow, watching everything move around her in slow motion. She waited until Kimiko was a heartbeat away, and then released. She was too close to dodge and the poisoned arrow tip pierced through her skin and into her heart.

She stopped. Her eyes were as wide as saucers. The dust cleared around Sesshomaru and he looked with an equally shocked expression. Rin stood firm, her eyes narrow while she watched the last of Kimiko's life fade. Nothing was said in the minutes that followed. It seemed like an eternity of silence surrounded the two.

It all hit Rin like a wall crashing down upon her. She collapsed to her knees and pressed the palms of her hands to her face. She could hear Sesshomaru approaching slowly as she attempted to rein in her emotions. How could she? She just murdered the mother of those pups.


"Don't." She ripped her hands away from her face and spat the word at him. He faltered. For once in his life he did not know what to do. "Why did you come back for me?" She had managed to push down her anguish, even if it was for a few solitary moments. She managed to glare at him, her anger at this whole situation fueling the flame.

She could see the wrinkle of doubt creasing his brow. She almost had to do a double take. He was unsure of himself. The great Lord Sesshomaru doubted his ability to speak his mind. It sounded ridiculous to Rin, but here she was viewing it in the flesh.

"I wanted you to stay." He placed a stoic mask on to hide his doubt.

"Why?" She pressed further.

He sighed while pressing his hand to his face. He truly was struggling with this. But Rin had to hear it with her own ears. She had to know what he really thought of her. "Because I need you to stay." The words were quiet, perhaps hushed so that others would not hear his declaration of weakness.

Rin's heart thudded in her chest so hard that she thought the whole forest would hear it. Was that answer truly good enough? Why did he need her? "What am I to you?" She asked again, hoping to get a real answer this time. His gaze was averted off into the distance.

The tension-filled silence that followed was excruciating. Rin stood up while putting all her focus on him. She approached him, placing herself in his line of sight. "Lord Sesshomaru, what am I to you?" She asked again with gentle force. She locked those chocolate orbs on his golden ones, attempting to coax the answer out of him.

"I don't know." He ground out. "This began as a desire to protect you from harm. It's turned into something different. I do not know how to put into words the sensation you evoke in me, but I feel empty without it."

Rin paused, trying to find the words he was searching for. "Are you happy around me?" Rin was starting to piece together why this was such a challenge for him. He was a ruthless demon lord who merely showed compassion on a handful of occasions and almost all of those occasions involved her. "Do you even know what it's like to be happy?"

Sesshomaru scoffed at this. "I am the most powerful demon lord. I own more land now than any other lord before me. I am feared by even the strongest of demons."

Rin raised her eyebrows expectantly. "And that brings you joy?" She didn't mean for it to come out sarcastic, but his declaration of power sounded like a weak come back.

He sighed again while lowering his gaze. "No, but demons do not have the luxury of happiness."

Rin hesitated slightly before pushing forward her assumption. "Do you love me?" It was a guess at best, but why else would he keep her around? What other explanation could she find that matched what he was feeling. She could tell herself over and over again that he didn't need her, but there had to be a reason he wanted her.

He looked up at her, a bit startled by her question. Rin was realizing very quickly that Lord Sesshomaru did not have very much experience with the lighter emotions in life. Love, joy, compassion, kindness…they were all things she did not expect when around him. He was always so impassive in his words and actions. The most she got from him was anger and perhaps despair during the darker moments in their time together. She had a better chance of finding a precious stone buried in the dirt than seeing a smile from him. She had resolved herself to thinking she'd never hear him laugh, other than a sarcastic one every now and again during a battle. She began to wonder if she could open him up to things like that. She really would like to see him happy.

"I want you to stay, Rin." He replied instead of answering her question. Perhaps he was afraid to answer.

Rin should have felt ecstatic over these declarations from him, but she couldn't. "I want to stay also, Lord Sesshomaru, and I want to see you happy. But I can't until you apologize."

She almost smirked at the look on his face as he took a step back. Lord Sesshomaru never apologized, not to anyone, but he had to have known he was wrong to leave her. He had to of known it was wrong to bring her into his life like this, turning everything she used to know upside down. She had spent years waiting for him, and for what? To come back to his crazy mate trying to kill her, fighting a battle to kill a demon lord, and explaining to three little pups how their mother ended up dead?

"And I should not have to tell you to apologize. You should have a long time ago." She crossed her arms in a huff.

"Must you humiliate me further?" He asked through clenched teeth. "I know I made a mistake. I should not have taken Kimiko as a mate. There were a lot of uncertainties back then. You were just a girl I was protecting. I never imagined you would grow up into a woman I desired."

Rin wasn't sure if she should have been insulted by that last comment or flattered. Instead she blushed at the thought of being desired by him.

"I didn't realize Kimiko would be so vile." He continued his rationalization without an apology, much like Rin thought he would. She wanted to laugh. Seeing him so vulnerable and so compromised was fairly humorous. She never thought she'd have the upper hand over the great Lord Sesshomaru.

"Were you really going to give up your lands for me?"

"Yes." He said firmly. "Once things were settled and I'd have my pups in my possession I would have gone and killed her anyway. None of my men would have protected her. I'd just have to beat any competition to her." His eyes lit up at the thought of cutting his mate down and this time Rin did let out an exaggerated laugh. Of course he wouldn't have let her win that easily.

The thought of the pups lingered into her thoughts again, and her guilt compounded. "What will your children think?"

"They will be better off without her."

"She was still their mother." Her shoulders slumped and her chin dropped to her chest. She knew what it was like to lose family. She was no better than those bandits that stole her parents from her.

"I'm sorry, Rin." He moved his hand to brush a lock of her brunette hair to the side. "This is not your burden to carry."

"I killed her."

"Because of me." He reiterated. "She wouldn't have stopped until you were dead. You defended yourself."

"If she were any other enemy, this would have been easy, but those little ones…"

"They are much stronger than you are giving them credit for, Rin. They are not human, this will faze them little."

Rin flinched at his statement. She couldn't fathom how this would not affect them.

"Let's return to the castle so you can rest. If you truly do not wish to stay then I can have Ah-Uh take you where you wish."

"Well you did apologize, I suppose." Rin remarked playfully. It was her futile attempt at distracting her thoughts away from the pups.

"You forget that I don't apologize." He returned with just the slightest hint of a smirk.

"You do now."

The place was a mess. Rin sighed at the sight of the throne room while shaking her head. Glass was strewn out everywhere, walls were cracked and crumbling, and blood stains covered the fabrics.

"What a shame." A familiar voice said from the doorway. Rin turned instantly to see Miku standing their idly. "It used to be such a beautiful room."


"It's good to see you again. Honestly I thought he wasn't going to go back for you. You're lucky he did." She smiled playfully.

"Am I to assume you are responsible?" Rin's disappointment flitted across her face.

"I just told him what he already knew. The man is stubborn. Most of them are." She chuckled.

"So you knew him before you met me."

"What makes you say that?"

"He would have killed you the moment you entered this place if he didn't."

"I'm envious of your perception skills." She laughed.

"You used me?"

"Not…intentionally. I wanted revenge. I wanted it so bad that I was willing to do anything to get it. I was willing enough to allow someone else to kill him in my stead as long as it was with my poison."

Rin nodded in response. She had heard the story before, but she never knew who the murderer was. Miku didn't dive too far into specifics. "So what will you do now?"

"I'm thinking of traveling. Maybe I'll lend my aid to the humans at the far reaches of the northern territories first and go from there." She walked over to a piece of velvet fabric that was strewn across the floor. "I could do some good for someone else out there."

"I think he would be very proud of you."

Miku flinched. "Yea, well it's the least I can do after all the havoc I've caused."

"Come back here if you ever need a place to stay." Rin insisted.

Miku wiped the sadness from her face and allowed a smirk to upturn her lips. "So you're staying?"

Rin shrugged. "You know what they say about old habits."

Miku returned a nod. "Stay safe, Rin. Love is wonderful, but it's wrought with risk."

"I know. Be careful, Miku."

"See ya." With those last words she was off through the open ceiling. Rin stared up into the sky well after she disappeared, not moving even when Sesshomaru's quiet footsteps approached.

"She petitioned me for a mating contract with the offering of her lands upon her acquiring them." He stated. Rin turned her head just enough to see him in her peripheral vision, and raised a questioning eyebrow. "I refused. I told her I could take the lands myself in less time. She offered assisting me in murdering her father, which I eventually learned was her ultimate goal."

"Why did you refuse?" Rin was genuinely curious. Miku was a powerful demon who was the heiress to a large amount of territory.

Sesshomaru snorted his response. "It sounds ridiculous to me now, but the look in her eyes was very telling of the state of her heart. She couldn't devote herself to a contract even if she wanted to."

"Why do demons make everything so complicated?" Sesshomaru lowered his head in an attempt to hide his smile.

"I find our dealings quite simple. It is the hearts of humans that are complicated." He teased.

Rin couldn't help but laugh at that. "Yea, I guess they are."

An awkward silence followed as there was much uncertainty on both sides it seemed. Rin froze in place as Sesshomaru outstretched his hand, gently pressing his claw against her flushed cheek. He moved it slowly back, tangling his fingers within her soft waves of hair. He repeated the motion with his other hand, guiding her face to his. Soon his lips were pressed against hers, the touch of skin so delicate Rin felt as if she were floating. When she did not object, he pressed more firmly. Rin responded by tangling her own fingers into his long silver mane. A low growl escaped from the depths of his chest, causing her to gasp. In that split second, Sesshomaru swiped his tongue along her bottom lip and gained access to hers.

A fury of passion was beginning to take hold as one of his hands moved to her lower back and pushed her body against his. Rin felt she was losing control of the situation as Sesshomaru's hands began exploring more than just her silky chocolate hair or the tense muscles of her lower back. She was growing nervous as heat poured throughout her entire body. Intense sensations that she only ever heard Kagome and Sango giggle about were running through her spine to every nerve ending that existed within her. A warm haze was beginning to settle on her mind as she melted in his arms, allowing him full control of this heated interaction.

Her eyes were half lidded as he began a burning trail down her neck and to her shoulder. The whimpering sighs that escaped her lips seemed to be fueling him further as he began tugging at her sash and kimono. This was moving way too quickly. How did she go one minute from talking about his meeting of Miku to wrapped up in a full on make out session? What was even more frightening to her was that she did not want to stop him.

It seemed, however that she wouldn't have to stop him. He froze in his trailing assault where her neck joined her shoulder. He pulled back far enough for her to see the red haze that had glazed over his golden eyes. It wasn't the same as when his eyes turned from anger. Was it from lust?

The haze was fading as his clawed hand gently pulled away the fabric from her shoulder. The stinging sensation accompanying the action reminded Rin of the wound Kimiko had given her. She hissed at the painful feeling and pulled back.

Sesshomaru seemed to snap himself out of his lust induced haze and grabbed her wrist. He tugged her along out into the hallway. "Lord Sesshomaru!" Rin cried out while he pulled insistently. "It's just a scratch!"

Goodness, this was awkward. She had just had her first kiss that turned into a passionate make out session with the person she adored most in her life. What on earth was she supposed to say to him? Nothing. Nothing seemed to work very well at the moment.

He pulled her into what looked like a bathing room. It had a hot spring in the center with an assortment of different oils and soaps on a shelf against the wall. He led her to the ledge of the spring, positioning her so that her sore feet dipped into the bubbling spring water. He delicately peeled the torn kimono from her shoulder, his nose wrinkling in displeasure at the sight.

"I guess she did a bit more damage than I thought." Rin mused while poking at the blistering flesh. There were three large gashes running from the top of her shoulder down to her upper back. They were accompanied by blistering green flesh, a sign of Kimiko's poison. Much to Rin's surprise, however, they were not bleeding. Perhaps that's why Sesshomaru didn't notice it until now.

Rin watched as he found a cloth to use to clean out the wound. With careful precision he cleaned the entire area of her injury, diligently focusing on the green muck that bubbled on her skin. Rin did her best to breathe through the pain, clenching her fists into her kimono tightly. Whatever that poison was, it certainly did not like being disturbed.

Eventually the task of cleaning the wound was complete and Sesshomaru was off to find some sort of ointment. She let out a relieved sigh when he left her to her own thoughts for a moment. She was still lost in that kiss. She pressed her fingers against her lips while trying to figure out what all this meant for her. Of course she had always dreamed of things ending up this way, but never with all the current complications involved.

Sesshomaru returned a few moments later with a jar of some sort of cream. Rin tensed slightly at his touch. The cooling sensation that followed the application of cream was a wave of relief. She sat silently as he worked covering the entire area.

"Let that remain for a while. I will wrap the wound after it has a chance to soak into your skin."

Rin nodded. "Thank you."

He didn't respond as he put the lid back onto the jar and placed it with the soaps and oils on the wall. He placed the rag in one of the empty baskets, most likely there for dirty clothing. He returned to her, sitting back down onto the stool he was using to treat Rin's wound. He carefully examined it once more before leaning back.

A sigh broke from his lips as his head fell back. Rin merely glanced at his troubled features before pinning her eyes back on the bubbling spring. She gently kicked her feet up, bringing trickles of water up with her and then floated them back down into the warm waters.

The silence dragged on for longer than Rin wished. She tried to think of something to say, anything to say, but it all seemed so insignificant to the recent display of passion they experienced. She desperately wanted to know where things went from here, but didn't know if he had those answers. She was always one to go with the flow of the river, never looking to what was ahead. Why on earth would she trouble herself with such predictions now?

"I wish to make you my mate."

Rin almost fell into the spring. Did she hear what he just said correctly? She was lost in thought. Maybe she imagined it. "C-come again?"

His sigh sounded very close to a growl as he repeated his words. "I want you to be my mate."

This couldn't be right. He was asking her, no…telling her that he wanted her as his mate. This idea was something she only dreamed of happening, yet here he was propositioning that she and him actually…

"I-uh, um…" Rin stuttered while her cheeks burned with her embarrassment. She pressed the flats of her palms to her cheeks, trying to push away the intimate thoughts that were filling her head at the moment. Kagome had explained it to her once in thorough detail and now that explanation was flashing in her mind.

Sesshomaru was looking fully amused at her reaction. While at first he had looked irritated at having to repeat himself, now he just looked perfectly smug. His enjoyment at her expense was causing Rin even more embarrassment.

He moved with the agility of a feline more than a canine. He moved in close behind her, so close that she could feel the fabric of his clothing touching up against her back. His lips were brushing against the ear opposite her injured shoulder. She could feel the warm tickle of his breath on her skin. It sent her mind into a panicked haze.

"What is it you desire, Rin?" His words were laced with the satisfaction that could only come from a fully confident demon lord seducing an innocent young human woman.

Rin jumped at the sensation of his whisper brushing across her skin. She jumped so high that she slipped toward the bubbling waters, nearly falling all the way in if it wasn't for Sesshomaru's strong arms. He chuckled against flesh of her neck as he grazed his teeth along it. The action sent Rin's entire being alight with heat. Shivers flew from that place on her neck, down her spine, and to every sensitive nerve within. That feeling only intensified when his sharp canines were replaced with the warm velvet sensation of his tongue running along the spot he wished to mark.

Rin didn't know what to do, not that there was much she could do. She was trapped in his strong embrace with his mouth pressed threateningly against her neck. She should not have been receiving so much pleasure from the position she was in, but her body responded otherwise. There was a tiny seed of rationale still screaming in her mind, however. There were so many uncertainties, so much that could go wrong with this, yet she wanted to give in so bad. She tried to go over the possible consequences of giving into this, but whatever he was doing to her quickly snuffed out any thoughts at all. She couldn't possibly deny him, not when she wanted this so desperately. She wanted to be his, despite everything he had done. She couldn't question herself at that moment if she was a horrible person because of that fact because in that moment, she really didn't care.

She turned to him suddenly, catching his darkened, lustful gaze with her own and gave him a timid nod confirming she wanted this to happen. She wanted for even just a brief moment in her life to obtain the happiness that was always pulled out from under her. Just once she wanted to be selfish.

Consequences? Who thinks about consequences when a pleasurable act of fulfillment was involved? Who gives up a chance to have their dreams come true?

Without giving her the opportunity to change her mind, Sesshomaru scooped her up and began carrying her to the nearest bedroom. "L-lord Sesshomaru!" Rin screeched as he pushed open the door with his foot.

He wouldn't give himself the chance to reconsider this. He had Rin here, alone, and willing. He would no longer lie to himself that he didn't want this, because he did. He wanted her more than he'd ever wanted anything. The taste of those soft, pliant lips; that innocent, warm smile; and that wild spirit of hers all drove him to madness. Never had a woman elicited such desires from him. Never would he think a human of all creatures would drive him to such recklessness. But, he didn't care.

The results of this mating would be foreseen in the days to come, but he was Lord Sesshomaru of the Northern and Western Lands. He was the most powerful demon that ever existed. He could have whomever he wanted and he wanted Rin. She filled that empty void in his heart. She brought out warmth within him that uplifted his spirit. He would give up everything for her because she made him happy.

With a swift kick of his foot and one last longing look at the woman in his arms, the door slammed shut. Behind all the whispers of desires and sounds of pleasure was the three word statement that held an overwhelming number of consequences. It was the declaration that should never be said between a demon and a human, but it flowed from his lips anyway as effortlessly as breathing. It did not contain a hesitation or second thought. It was just a simple truth that was wrought with danger.

"I love you, Rin."

When that door opened again, it would reveal a whole new life and all new consequences.

*A/N – That's it all! Thanks for reading! In hindsight I should have probably just continued adding to this one instead of writing a sequel, but it is what it is now. So if you enjoyed it, you can move on to the next installment: Mark of Death.