Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha
Rin glided through the trees, knife held tightly in her hands as she stared down at the deer with excited eyes. She stopped moving when her prey halted in its tracks to eat at some shrubbery. Her bare feet creaked against the wood with the wind as she shifted behind the trunk of the tree she was currently resting on. It was a doe. No antlers to be seen. She swiftly let her knees buckle under her and flipped downward, arms and legs spread wide open, ready to tackle the innocent creature.
A small shift in movement caught her eye. There, hidden in a nearby bush, was a fawn.
Rin acted quickly, grabbing hold of a nearby branch to try and redirect her fall. She sliced her hand as she swung away, flinging blood to the ground as she did so. Rin winced.
The deer, alerted by her presence, quickly looked around, taking in the bittersweet scent of her wound before leaping off into the safety of the forest.
"I-Itai!" Rin ground out, sliding down the trunk of the tree, trying to dig her short nails into the bark as she cascaded down.
Splinters lodged themselves in her fingers, but she clung on for dear life anyway. She let out a reluctant cry as she attempted to wrap her legs around the tree trunk. She shut her eyes tightly. She'd probably break a bone or two when she landed. Damn...If only that doe hadn't been a mother...
Suddenly a hand wrapped around her waist, pulling her away from the tree. White fur brushed by her ankles, and the dark haired teen grew excited. She looked up to her savior with sparkling eyes. The smile was wiped off her face when she realized who it was.
"Oh, Kohaku," Rin said disappointedly, swinging a leg over Kirara.
"No need to sound so depressed," the demon slayer said back over his shoulder. "Watch out for the blade."
Rin hesitantly wrapped her arms around his torso, heeding his warning to watch out for the weapon on his back. "Is it a new one?"
"Tōtōsai's been busy," he said as Kirara brought them up out of the forest and further into the air. "And apparently so have you." He frowned. "Does Inuyasha know you're out here?"
Rin laughed. "No." She poked his sides. "And don't tell him."
Kohaku's gaze shot up at the bright blue sky in exasperation. "Rin..."
Sesshōmaru's ward winced at his tone. "Oh, come on Kohaku. Sometimes a woman just needs to get out in the forest and explore."
"You didn't look like you were 'exploring,'" Kohaku shot back. "I saw you hunting that deer." He smirked. "Don't lie."
Rin bit her lower lip and shifted her weight on Kirara's back. "So what if I was?"
"You're a girl, Rin," Kohaku reprimanded her, the village slowly coming in sight. "What were you gonna do with the deer once you killed it, huh?" Kirara started lowering herself to the ground. "Haul it back yourself?"
Rin stuck out her chin stubbornly. "I could have. Easily."
Kohaku sighed and ran his hand through his dark locks. "Right." Kirara prepared herself to land on the dirt ground near Kaede's old hut. "Why couldn't you go fishing like you used to when you were a kid?"
Rin swung her leg over the demon's back and leapt to the ground before Kirara had a chance to do so herself. She tumbled over, getting more dirt between her toes than necessary. The petite woman rolled to a stand, brushing the twigs out of her hair and grinned at a gaping Kohaku.
"Because I'm not a kid," she said happily. "I'm a huntress."
"Sometimes I wonder who the half breed is," Kohaku muttered, getting off Kirara once she had landed.
"Hey, I heard that," Inuyasha's voice ground out.
Rin shuddered and looked at the demon dog as he stomped his way over to her. She smiled hesitantly. So he had noticed she had taken longer than usual to go 'fishing'...
"Inuyasha," she said, waving at her lord's younger brother.
"Don't 'Inuyasha' me," the white haired half breed growled, taking in her shabby appearance as he came to a halt next to Kohaku. "If anything happened to you, Sesshōmaru would blame me, you know." He stared at the slit riding up the woman's legs to her thigh and blushed. "Would you put some damn clothes on?"
Rin blinked and looked down at her disheveled self. So she was showing a little more skin than usual. She shrugged and pulled a leaf out from behind her ear before scratching her scraped cheek lightly. It was one of the old kimonos Kaede had given her to wear for casual usage. The garments Sesshōmaru had given her were too precious for her to be roaming around in.
"Hai, hai," Rin sang sweetly as she hopped along, making sure to splash in some mud.
It splattered on her already torn hem and flicked on Inuyasha's cheek.
"Why you little—!"
"Inuyasha," Kagome's gentle voice came from behind him.
Rin smiled. Here it came...
"Sit, boy!" she declared with an irritated look on her face.
The half dog demon flew to the ground against his will, nose barreling deep in the dirt. His left eye twitched in anger.
"The hell was that for?" he growled up at his wife.
She ignored her husband, her bow slung over her shoulder. In her hands were shrubs that she and Jinenji had picked together. Taking in Rin's bloody fingers, she would have to whip up a healing tonic of some sort for the poor woman.
"Rin," Kagome said kindly, the priestess coming close to the younger woman and giggling at her appearance. "Maybe you should go wash up before Kaede sees you."
"Hai, oneechan!" Rin said earnestly as she followed orders.
Inuyasha rubbed his dirty cheeks and frowned, sitting cross legged in the small crater his face-plant had created. Damn that spoiled brat...He sighed and flopped on his back, leaning back on his hands as a pillow so he could look up at the clouds. It had been about a month since the last time Sesshōmaru had visited. His older brother should have been coming for his ward any day now for his monthly visit.
"Ne, Inuyasha," Kagome said slowly as Rin disappeared inside of Kaede's hut. "Isn't it about time?"
Inuyasha frowned. He pulled his legs back over his head before springing them forward, leaping up onto his feet. He dusted off the dirt from his red pants.
"Yeah," he said, tilting his head back and sniffing the air. "It's about time."
"Yama no naka," Rin sang, scrubbing the grime from beneath her nails, "Mori no naka. Kaze no naka. Yume no naka." She dunked her head underneath the water, tapping her toes against the foot of the bath. Rin resurfaced and took a deep breath. "Sesshōmaru-sama doko ni iru! Jaken-sama wo shita naete!" Rin blew a few bubbles in the hot water and giggled. "Watashi ha hitori de machimashou, Sesshōmaru-sama omodori wo..."
Rin sighed and let her body sink in the warm liquid. She flicked her wet bangs away from her dripping forehead. It had been a while since she traveled with Sesshōmaru. About seven years or so. He had promised Kaede he would allow her to live in the village to experience life as a human. And, truth be told, she rather enjoyed it.
"Hurry up, child!" the old woman called from beyond the door, "Don't let the water get cold or ye'll catch ye death in there!"
"Hai, Kaede-obaasama!" Rin replied cheerfully, splashing the water.
Kaede shook her head and walked away, the floor creaking beneath her feet as she made her way over to Kohaku who was slurping back a bowl of soup beside an irritated Inuyasha and a calm Kagome. Listening to the old woman walk away, Rin slowly stood from the bath.
It used to be that she and the old woman had to walk to the river to get in a good bath. After an incident concerning one of the male villagers peeping when Rin had turned fourteen, Sesshōmaru had an extension built on the small house for a private bath. Needless to say, the male villager was never seen or heard from again. Normally such luxuries were saved for the rich, and Kaede was most certainly not of noble blood, but having Sesshōmaru's ward in one's household had its benefits.
Rin inhaled slowly, grabbing the towel that hung loosely from the hanger and wrapped it around her curvaceous frame. She closed her eyes and tilted her head back, feeling the warmth of the steam around her. She tried to push away the pang of hurt inside of her chest. The steam, although hot, was nothing compared to the warmth she felt by Sesshōmaru's side. She slowly opened her eyes, the pain of reality hitting her hard.
When was he going to ask her to come along? When would he say yes to keeping her by his side?
The young woman's ears perked as she heard Kohaku's voice. "...She went hunting again."
"Again?" Kaede asked as Rin pressed her ear to the door. "And without the male villagers?"
"Hn," Inuyasha confirmed, crossing his legs beneath him. "I think she's really trying to prove herself."
Kaede shook her head tiredly. She was getting too old for this.
"What does she have to prove?" Kaede asked wearily, "Sessōmaru already dotes on her more than she could ever hope for."
Kagome bit the inside of her cheek and rubbed Kirara's head in her lap. "...Yeah, but he left her here so she could decide on her own whether or not she wanted to continue following him."
Kaede smiled softly. She remembered that conversation with the demon lord. He wasn't all too happy about the arrangement. In fact, Rin wasn't either at the time. She protested wildly, clinging to Sesshōmaru's fur with all of her might until he told her to dry her tears and go with Kaede. Immediately the young girl had done as he asked and watched with shimmering eyes and an innocent smile as both he and Jakken disappeared beyond the moonlight.
"You'll miss her, won't you, Kohaku?" Kaede asked, already knowing what the young woman's answer would be.
Kohaku didn't reply. He frowned and folded his arms, pulling his fingers away from Kirara's head. She growled up at him, her red eyes begging for more affection. He smiled bitterly and scratched behind the demon's ears.
"Yeah," he admitted, "But we always knew she'd follow him no matter what."
"Forever and always," Rin whispered to herself, clinging to the soaking wet towel tightly.
Kaede hummed in agreement. "I will miss her too. It will be so boring here without her." The old woman yawned tiredly. "Rin! Are you finished in there?"
"H-Hai, Kaede-obaasama!" Rin said, startled by the sudden holler of her caretaker. "I'll be out in a moment!"
Rin tugged the towel away from her damp body and yanked her robe off from the hook next to the door. She flung it around her shoulders and tied the obi tightly. She slung the wet rag back over the hanger and wrung out her hair over the bathtub. Quickly she turned, slipping on the wet floor beneath her and screaming as she came crashing down on her butt.
"I-Itai," she muttered, rubbing her backside right before Kohaku broke down the door with his newest weapon.
"What's wrong?" he shouted, standing in front of her, feet firmly planted and ready to kick someone's ass.
"H-Hai," Rin laughed, uneasily standing and taking his outstretched hand. "I just slipped, Kohaku."
The demon slayer looked down at her. He averted his gaze when he noticed her robe was opened slightly. He coughed and quickly helped her up. He turned away, and Rin couldn't help but giggle at his red ears.
"Arigatou," she thanked him.
"Y-Yeah," Kohaku said anxiously, eyeing the door he had kicked down, "W-We'll need to get this fixed."
"Mhmm," Rin hummed as she grabbed her clothing. "Kohaku?"
"H-Hai?" the demon slayer asked, his face strangely resembling a tomato.
"Would you mind leaving so I can change?" she asked lightly. "Or would you prefer to watch?"
Kohaku blushed furiously and walked away. "D-Don't say things like that! It'll make people misunderstand!"
Inuyasha snorted, grinning at the young warrior. "I don't think we 'misunderstand' anything..."
Rin giggled and tightened her obi, making sure everything was secure. She flipped her hair over her shoulder and stepped over the fallen door daintily. She quickly approached Kaede and Kohaku who sat on the floor, waiting for her to join them.
"Kohaku tells me you've been traipsing around the forest, Rin," Kaede said, motioning for the young woman to sit beside her and Kagome.
Rin shot Kohaku a look as she sat down between the two. "I nearly killed a deer today."
"Again?" Kaede asked with raised eyebrows. "Don't you have enough pellets for Sesshōmaru's return?"
Rin smiled at the back wall that held pellets of deer and small creatures. She was a huntress through and through. She never killed needlessly though. Everything she killed, she skinned and ate herself.
"There are never enough for Sesshōmaru-sama," Rin insisted politely, the grin on her face shining in the dim light.
Kagome smiled gently, rubbing her fingers over the balm she had made from herbs she had collected earlier. She took Rin's hands in her own and smeared the salve over her bloody cuticles. Immediately, a cool sensation ran up her fingers and deep into the injured skin.
"You really admire Sesshōmaru-onisan, don't you?" Kagome asked softly.
Rin smiled cheekily. "Hai."
"I don't know why," Inuyasha scoffed, folding his arms in his red shirt impatiently. "He's just a snobby, no good pureblood that—"
Inuyasha found himself with a face full of wood flooring. He glared up at Kagome.
"The hell did you do that for?"
Rin giggled. Even after all these years, Inuyasha still didn't know when to stop talking.
Kagome thumbed over Rin's cut on her cheek and frowned. Sesshōmaru would be coming any day to visit Rin. She was hoping the cream would work quickly on her skin. She shuddered to think what Sesshōmaru would do if he saw Rin in such a state. In the corner of her eye, she saw the look Kaede had on her face. Seemed the two priestesses had similar thoughts.
"Perhaps it's best if you don't hunt for the next few days," Kaede said slowly.
Rin frowned. "But the men in the village are going hunting soon." She tilted her head. "There's been talk of a mountain lion eating sheep. We're tracking it tomorrow..."
Kaede smiled. "But Sesshōmaru should be coming in the next few days. You don't want to miss him when he's here, do you?"
True, Rin did not want to miss a moment with the demon. She only got to see him a few hours each month, if she was lucky. Still though, even if she was out hunting, Sesshōmaru would know where she was. She smiled to herself. He always knew where she was. And if he didn't, he found out quick enough. If there was anything she learned from being captured and held hostage as a child, was that her lord would come for her no matter what.
"Kaede-obaasama," Rin said thoughtfully, "If you don't want me to go, you can tell me honestly."
Kagome, startled by the perceptive nature of the younger woman, let out a small laugh. Kaede, however, smiled.
"They're just concerned what Sesshōmaru will do if he finds you with bruises and blood all over," Inuyasha scoffed, tilting his chin up in pride. "Not like I care what he thinks..." He saw the irritation in his wife's eye. "...but while you're under my protection, I don't want the demon up my ass just 'cause you've got a scratch."
Rin nodded, tugging the folded blanket near Kaede's legs and wrapping both herself and the elderly woman in it. "I won't go hunting for the next few days then." She held back her disappointment. "But can Kohaku train with me?"
The slayer, who had been gulping back his soup, spat the liquid out. He covered his dripping lips with the back of his hand and stared at her in incredulity.
"If Sesshōmaru-sama finds one bruise on you, I'm dead," Kohaku said with a shiver. "No thanks. I'd like to live."
Rin huffed. Well, that was just plain irritating. What could she do over the next few days, then? She glanced at Kagome. A mischievous look crossed the younger woman's features and she scooted closer to the priestess.
"What?" Kagome asked, noticing Sesshōmaru's ward approach her. "What is it?"
"Chest out, eyes forward, and keep your arm up," Kagome instructed as Rin stood with the bow and arrow.
"Hai, Kagome-oneechan!" Rin said excitedly.
The young woman was just grateful the priestess had taken time out of her day-to-day life to teach her the art of archery. She had been practicing for years with Kagome, and it had become a regular occurence for her to work with Rin on her technique. While Rin was an excellent archer herself, she still thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Kagome.
"Ch," Inuyasha snorted, watching as Shippō floated in the air with a target on his back. "Try not to get injured this time, Shippō!"
"I-I'll be fine!" the fox demon shouted from above. "Rin's got a steady arm!"
Inuyasha grinned from his spot under a tree nearby. Even in the morning, it was a little too hot for him to sit out under the sun. He watched as the two women pulled their bows back, eyes on the target and backs leaning. He took the two in, watching proudly as his wife shot first, hitting Shippō's back target with ease. The fox demon squealed as he twirled around in the air, making it harder for Rin to hit him.
But the young woman set her fiery gaze on the target, and released her arrow as his chest faced her. Shippō shut his eyes tightly, waiting for the arrow to impale him when he turned once again, allowing the arrow to split Kagome's in half and lodged itself in the wooden target. Rin lowered her bow proudly and grinned at Kagome.
"Again!" she exclaimed, jumping up and down.
Kagome laughed and blushed. Even though Rin was old enough to marry, she still had her childish tendencies. She supposed that was what made her so endearing. Her innocence had not been tainted despite her family's death and the world of demons.
"We've already done it for the past two hours," Kagome laughed, wiping a bead of sweat trailing down her cheek. "Aren't you getting tired?"
Rin smiled. "Of course not." She giggled and held the bow behind her back playfully. "Are you getting tired?"
Kagome laughed. She knew what Sesshōmaru's ward was hinting at: she wanted a challenge. Sadly, Kagome wouldn't be able to give her much of one, seeing as she could feel her arm throbbing. Two hours of straight shooting really took it out of the priestess. Still though, her pride was at stake.
"One more," Kagome said with a wink, "And then I've got to get to the well."
Rin gasped. "Sōta's coming?"
"Hai, hai," she replied, chuckling at her antics. "He's on break from school."
Rin twirled around the priestess happily. Ever since the Honekui no Ido had been opened and Kagome had come through it to return to Inuyasha's side, her family had the ability to pass through the well to visit her on occasion. The first time Rin had met Sōta, she immediately took to him. He had the same smile as Kagome and a bonus was that they were the same age. He was her playmate that visited occasionally from the other world.
"How long will he be staying with you?" Rin asked, coming to a halt in front of Kagome.
"About a week," Kagome laughed, drawing back her bow to aim at Shippō. "How about you clean up things here while Inuyasha and I go get him?"
Rin smiled cheekily, drawing her own arrow. "You're on!"
"Rin," Shippō whined, standing behind a bush, "I really don't think we should be doing this..." He swallowed nervously as Rin's white haori was flung over his head. "Wh-What if there's a pervert?"
Rin sighed, slinking off the pink hakama. "That's why you're standing guard."
Shippō tore off Rin's top from his head and turned his head back to the bush he stood behind. "B-But Rin—!"
The pink hakama hit him in the face. He scowled and let the material slink off of his body before he folded his arms and sat cross legged in irritation. They had already cleaned up the training grounds after Rin and Kagome had finished their shooting practice. Once finished, Rin had insisted on taking a bath...in the river. Something she did once in a while when Inuyasha wasn't nearby, and when Kaede was out.
She never really had to worry about Miroko or Sango telling on her, what with their two daughters and a son to keep their hands busy. As she stepped gingerly into the creek, she mentally made a note to visit the couple.
Water lapping against her toes, her feet sank in the muddy bank. She could see the fish swimming against the current, their slimy bodies wiggling as hard as they could.
"Ne, Shippō," Rin said, a glint in her eye that the fox demon wouldn't like if he could see it, "Are you hungry?"
Shippō's stomach growled in response. "Um...Yeah, I guess."
Rin immediately flung herself in the water, head first, catching a writhing fish in her teeth. She threw her head back, thrusting the fish over the bush and toward Shippō. She heard him shout in surprise and grinned. The water slid down her naked body as she stood in the water. Her hands shot in the water quickly and came up with a fish in each hand. She threw them over to Shippō who caught the pair with ease.
"I thought you wanted to bathe," he grumpily said, the live fish squirming in his arms.
"Think of it as killing two birds with one stone!" Rin laughed happily as she threw herself into the current and snatched the fish up. "Lunch and a bath in one!"
"I thought Kaede-obaasama told you not to hunt," Shippō grumbled.
"I'm not hunting," Rin said defensively, "I'm fishing."
Shippō muttered something about how it's the same thing. She promptly thwacked his head with a fish.
"Gomenasai, Shippō!" Rin called.
"You did that on purpose!" Shippō wailed.
Rin laughed and flipped on her back to float along with the stream. There was something about being completely exposed under the sunny sky that thrilled her until no end. A nice summer breeze blew over her breasts, making her nipples rise. She shivered and plunged herself further in the water. It was warmer beneath the surface anyway.
With her ears covered in water, she couldn't hear Shippō call her name. With her eyes shut, she couldn't see the astonished look on Sōta's face as she came up for air.
But when she rose to meet the cool air, and she finally opened her eyes, she saw it all.
And so did Sōta.
Sesshōmaru stood atop the mountain, the imp at his side shivering from the cold. They had been roaming for a while now. He inhaled deeply, closing his eyes. He could smell her. Even from this great distance, he could taste her sweet aroma in the freezing air.
It had been about a month since his last visit. And he did have another gift to bring the young woman.
"Jaken," Sesshōmaru said suddenly.
"H-Hai, S-Sesshōm-maru-s-s-sama?" Jaken asked through his chattering teeth.
"Let's go," he answered coolly.
"H-Hai, S-Sesshōm-maru-s-s-sama," Jaken replied in relief.
In a single leap, Sesshōmaru was in the air, Jaken clinging onto his fur for dear life.
She was ready for him.
It was time.