Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha

"How could you be so stupid?" Kagome shouted, tugging on Sōta's ear as they sat around a campfire, waiting for the fish Rin had caught to cook. "You run off as soon as Inuyasha mentions Rin's name and then you go and watch her bathe naked."

Inuyasha, on the other hand, had Rin's ponytail snatched up in his fingers and was hollering at the young woman. "How many times do I have to tell you? Don't swim naked!"

Shippō, Miroku, and Sango as well as their children stared on in mild amusement while the two were scolded. The twins looked at one another with cheeky smiles and their younger brother tilted his head curiously. Kohaku had his face in his palm while he sweat dropped. It was just too embarrassing to watch. Sango and Miroku glanced at each other, suddenly questioning their decision to join their old friends for lunch.

Rin pouted, trying to force the half demon to let her go. "But Inuyasha..."

"Okaasan didn't raise a pervert!" Kagome continued. "Honestly, is this an influence of going to that all boy's high school? I knew okaasan shouldn't have sent you there. I warned her about the influence it could have on you..."

"Don't 'but Inuyasha' me!" the half demon howled, as Rin slowly slinked her hands over his shoulders and up toward his face, "Sesshōmaru left you under my protection and Kaede-obaasama's watch." Rin caught his white ears between her fingers and gently rubbed. "Which means, you little brat, that you need to listen to me when I say something—and would you stop that?"

He attempted to smack her hands away, but with his fingers full of her hair, he couldn't exactly keep her from doing so.

"But they're so fluffy," Rin giggled.

Inuyasha frowned down at her.

"I can't believe you saw her naked," Kagome pressed on, "If this is how you're going to act, I am going to drag you straight back to the well and force you back down it—"

"Come off it, Kagome," Sōta complained, managing to wiggle out of her grasp. "I'm the same age you were when you married Inuyasha." He rubbed his throbbing ear tenderly. "Besides, I covered my eyes and apologized to Rin." He glanced at Inuyasha smacking her upside the head. "...who you might want to be concerned about."

"Inuyasha!" Kagome shouted before the tears could well up in Rin's eyes, "Sit, boy!"

Rin was immediately released as Inuyasha face planted at her feet. She grinned mischievously down at him.

"Thanks Kagome-oneechan!" Rin said excitedly, quickly running away from Inuyasha and over to the priestess' side. She gazed at her mentor happily. "Try not to be too hard on Sōta, ne?" She bit her lower lip bashfully. "It was my fault."

Kagome sighed and smiled at the younger woman. How could she stay angry with Sesshōmaru's sweet ward?

"I still don't understand how she's able to get away with so much," Sango stated, looking down at her own girls. "You two can't even get away with eating dessert before dinner."

Miroku sighed. "She has to be that innocent to follow Sesshōmaru around." He shrugged. "How else are you going to deal with a demon lord?"

"Killing him off would be nice," Inuyasha ground out, rubbing the grime off of his face.

Kagome's temple throbbed. "Sit!"

The twins laughed as Inuyasha fell face first in the dirt. "Kagome!"

"Sit, boy!"

It was Rin's least favorite part of her day. She quietly followed Kaede as she made her way around the village. She could feel the eyes of the villagers on the pair as she carried the elderly woman's things in a basket. The only ones she ever smiled politely to were the children and her fellow hunters. Everyone else...Well, she still had issues with her fellow humans.

"Kaede-obaasama!" one of the male villagers known as Yui exclaimed, coming up to the old priestess. "Would you and Rin like some help?"

"Of course," the priestess laughed uncomfortably, feeling Rin's hesitancy. "We would love your help, Yui-kun."

Rin held back a grimace. While she had an almost decent relationship with the village, she didn't like talking with the villagers all that much. So as Yui's fingers wrapped around the basket and brushed by her hands, she swallowed back a groan of disgust. If it had been anyone else, she probably would have had a better reaction. In fact, at that point, the village idiot, Hitori would have been better company.

"Sesshōmaru-sama hasn't asked you to join him yet, huh?" Yui asked bluntly.

Her eye twitched. "No, not yet."

"We expect he should be asking her very soon," Kaede assured him, trying to walk ahead so the young pair wouldn't see her smile.

"Right, right," Yui said, scratching the back of his dark head awkwardly. "Well, you ever think of staying in the village?"

Rin clenched her jaw tightly. Yes, it was common knowledge that Yui had a very deep infatuation with Rin. Ever since she arrived seven years before, he had latched himself to her and Kaede in an attempt to win over her affections. Clearly, it was not working.

"You could stay here, maybe," he continued, wistfully, "Start a family. Have a few children of your own."

Rin clenched her fists tightly. Her footsteps were growing louder and louder as they turned into stomps. The dirt beneath her bare feet dug into her toes. She rarely wore shoes, loving the feeling of earth underneath her.

"No, I'm not interested in those kinds of things," she said truthfully.

Rin had always been adventurous. She had sworn to be with Sesshōmaru forever, and she was going to keep to that promise. He led a life of kindness and drive for power. She was determined to be by his side every step of the way, right up to and beyond the point where he had his own empire. She was determined. A life without Sesshōmaru, to her, wasn't worth it.

"What about marriage?" Yui tried again. "Is there...anyone in the village you're interested in?"

Rin's ears perked up at the sound of another man following them. She tilted her head back and smiled at the person behind her. "Kohaku!"

Yui frowned. "Kohaku? You want to marry—?"

The demon slayer smiled and grabbed the basket away from Yui who was too shocked to do anything. He raised an eyebrow at the villager. He was a hundred years too early to flirt with Rin.

"I've got this," he said casually.

Yui took the hint and visibly deflated. He stopped walking with Rin and watched as the three made their way out of the village. Still though, he was determined. He would try again the next day, just as he always did.

"I thought ye were visiting Sango and Miroku," Kaede said, as they headed up the hill toward her house.

"No way," Kohaku laughed, "Those twins were up to no good. Besides, it's too noisy over there."

"And ye think it'll be any less noisy with us?" Kaede chuckled.

"Let's train," Rin encouraged him, her eyes lighting up at the idea of sparring.

Kohaku laughed and held up his hands as she half-heartedly threw punches at him. He deflected them with ease, jostling the basket only a little in the process. He grinned down at the woman.

"Whoa, Rin," he chuckled. "Remember, we're not training together with Sesshōmaru-sama coming to visit you any day now."

She pouted and clasped her hands stubbornly behind her back. "Hai..."

"Besides, with Sōta visiting, don't you want to go hiking in the forest?" he asked.

Rin pressed a finger to her chin thoughtfully. She did enjoy taking walks with the boy from the future. He spoke of funny things and sometimes brought her trinkets to play with. So she had to agree with Kohaku. If she couldn't train with him, she might as well go hiking in the forest.

"Hai," she finally agreed. "We can pick wild flowers for Kaede-obaasama." She giggled and wrapped her arms around the old woman. "Would you like that, Kaede-obaasama?"

"Ah," Kaede chuckled tiredly. "While ye do that, I will retire early for today."

Rin frowned and glanced at the sun. It wouldn't set for another few hours. She eyed the elderly woman worriedly. Was she having issues with her bones again? It was true the old woman had complained occasionally about her lower back. So without hesitation, Rin slipped her arm in Kaede's and smiled down at the priestess. Sometimes you just had to help someone, even if they didn't ask for it.

Kaede, feeling the warmth of Rin's arm against hers, grinned to herself. Sesshōmaru was a lucky demon to have someone like Rin in his life.

"A-Ano, Rin?" Sōta called from the bottom of the cliff, gazing up at the woman's minuscule body as she scaled the wall, "Are you sure you should be doing this?"

Rin laughed in response, fingers trembling as she gripped the rock above her. She set her footing properly and scooted up further. It was just out of her reach. If she was just a little taller...Pushing up on the ball of her foot, Rin managed to wrap her hand around the komakusa flowers, the pink petals billowing in the wind.

She heard the rock crumble before she lost her footing. As she fell back, she heard Sōta shout in worry. She smiled. Shifting her weight, and keeping her cool, she latched herself onto a single root that had managed to sneak out of the cliff. She felt her shoulder pop and she winced. She dangled there for a moment, trying to push past the slight pain. Slowly she pulled herself back up and close to the cliff once more.

"Rin!" Sōta breathed in relief.

He had managed to convince Inuyasha and Kagome to let him go off with Rin in an effort to collect flowers for Kaede. What they didn't know, however, was when Rin went to collect flowers, she only wanted the ones that were the most dangerous to collect. That meant climbing cliffs, dodging poisonous snakes and sometimes reaching into the mouths of demons for the plants. This woman had a taste for adventure.

He tilted his head back, to watch her as she descended. Rin wasn't like any of the girls from his time. She loved roughing it in the woods and hunting down wildlife. She ran with the wind in her hair, eyes straight forward at all times, never looking back with regrets.

A twig snapped behind him. He froze. Slowly turning his head to look over his shoulder, Sōta came face to face with a mountain lion. He gulped nervously and held up his hands defensively.

"Rin?" Sōta hollered.

"Hai?" she shouted, backing down the cliff toward Sōta.

"You might want to stay up there," he replied.

"Why's that?" she asked innocently, glancing down.

Her eyes widened. She deeply inhaled the wind. While her sense of smell wasn't as good as Inuyasha's or Sesshōmaru's, her nose was able to pick up the familiar scent of the wild cat. So this was the same wild cat picking at the villager's sheep.

"Sōta," she called, watching as her friend backed away slowly, "Start climbing the cliff!"

"You don't have to tell me twice!" he yelped hastily as he scampered up the mountainous wall.

The mountainous creature purred hungrily, eyeing the young man as he made his way up the cliff. Rin bit her lower lip anxiously. He was never going to make it up in time. She had to act swiftly. Without hesitation, she flung herself downward, arms and legs spread wide apart. She wasn't too far from the tips of the trees. So what if she got a few scratches? It was better she get bloodied up than having Sōta get eaten.

As she felt herself get stabbed and slashed with the arms of the trees, she saw in the corner of her eye the mountain lion's attention diverted toward her. She smiled, shutting her mouth so she wouldn't swallow the leaves, before she got the wind knocked out of her as she landed roughly on a branch. She winced, feeling the blood drain from her leg as it dripped down her bare foot and fell to the ground.

The cat licked it from the ground and eyed her hungrily.

At a closer glance, Rin could see that this wasn't an ordinary cat. It wasn't a mountain lion like she had originally thought. No, this creature was a demon. A very smart demon at that. It managed to go unseen by Inuyasha and Kagome. No matter. Rin reached down her kimono and pulled out her knife. She would take care of it at once.

"Sōta," she said calmly, "Keep climbing. It's kasha, a cat-human yōkai."

Its flaming tail burned as it watched Rin with eager eyes. She tilted her head curiously. Strange. Didn't kasha like dead corpses instead of live humans?

"What do you want?" Rin asked, trying to reason with the creature.

"Your soul," it hissed, pressing its whiskered nose to the trunk of the tree and inhaling deeply. "Your blood..." It gripped at the wood, and made its way slowly up the tree. "Your body."

Rin felt shivers run up her spin. Nonetheless, she would kill it. It was that or be killed.

"You want me?" she asked, yanking off her shoe and holding it high in the air. "Come and get me!"

She threw it harshly down, grateful that Kaede had told her to put on some sandals for the nature walk. Tugging off the other, she threw it once more at the yōkai's head, and leapt away from the tree. In a flash, the kasha followed her on the ground, watching her every move, Sōta completely forgotten. Rin, heart pounding against her chest, shifted from branch to branch, going higher and higher, switching from tree to tree. She needed to get as far away from the human man as possible so he could escape.

Hopefully he had enough bravery to go get Inuyasha or Kagome. Unlike Kohaku, Rin was no demon slayer. And while she had full confidence in her ability to run quickly and defend herself, she wasn't so sure when faced with a demon.

Suddenly leaping into the air, the kasha slashed at the branch she had just jumped from. Rin struggled to push herself off of the tree trunk and toward the cliff once more. She smiled in relief as her fingers touched the rock, but screamed as her grip came loose. She was falling. She shut her eyes tightly. No. She would not die like this.

Opening her eyes in determination, she once more reached out to grab a ledge, latching onto the cliff for dear life. She could hear the yōkai stumble up the cliff in its desperation for her blood. She glared down at it as she pulled herself up. She couldn't go down. She had to get away from it. But it was so fast. It's hands and feet pattered against the rock quickly and its jaw unhinged, ready to swallow her whole and drag her to hell.

Rin looked at it in fear, she herself, scrambling as fast as she could. She knew she wouldn't be able to outrun it. She needed to get to a good place where she could—

And then she saw it. Just a few feet up ahead, to her left. She hopped upward, using as much of her adrenaline as she could to help her get to the ledge. With the blood loss and sheer exhaustion of running so much, she knew she wouldn't be able to hold out much longer. Rin pressed herself as close to the cliff as she could, waiting for the yōkai to come for her.

She was ready.

As soon as she caught her breath, it was there in front of her, flames engulfing her kimono and teeth sinking into her flesh. She held the knife to its chest and stared it straight in its green slitted eyes as she pushed the both of them off of the cliff.

"What?" the demon hissed, watching as Rin dug her blade further inside of it. "Are you that eager to die, ward?"

Rin's eyes narrowed. How did it know she was under Sesshōmaru's care?

"Urusai," she growled out, dragging her knife down its chest and toward its stomach. "You'll be the only one to die, demon."

She yanked the blade out and brought her knees to her chest. Pushing off of the dying yōkai, she managed to leap back onto the cliff. She used her knife to dig into the rock, and keep her hanging while the demon fell to the ground in a heap of fur and bones, reverting to its original form of a wild cat.

Rin sighed and pulled herself closer to the cliff. She shuffled through her pocket and whipped out the half broken and blood stained flowers.

She frowned.

Damn it.

Kaede had determined she was getting too old for this. When Rin had emerged from the forest with a dead kasha on her back, and a bloody bouquet of flowers for the elderly woman, the priestess nearly had a heart attack. Sōta had arrived a little earlier, shouting for Inuyasha to go to Rin's aid. He whipped out tessaiga just as the young woman limped up past a tree and smiled at the worried lot.

"You killed a kasha?" Inuyasha asked as Kagome cleaned Rin's wounds in the safety of Kaede's home. "Those things only attack when a dead corpse is involved." He glanced at Sōta. "The hell were you two doing?"

"Picking flowers," Rin said innocently.

"Near a burial ground?" Shippō asked, looking at her with bulging eyes.

"...Off a cliff," Rin answered truthfully.

"Shit, kid," Inuyasha cursed. "No wonder you're all bloody."

Kagome grimaced at Rin's gash in her thigh, secretly grateful for the lack of Sesshōmaru's presence. He'd have Inuyasha's head if he found Rin in this state. She dunked the cloth in her hand into the basin of water, staining it a deep red.

"I wonder why it attacked ye," Kaede hummed thoughtfully.

"Who cares?" Inuyasha asked, folding his arms and glaring at the young woman. "It's dead."

"Don't mind him," Kagome laughed, placing the warm cloth on Rin's leg, "He's just upset he didn't get in on the action."

Rin giggled. "Do you think Sesshōmaru-sama will be pleased with the fur?"

"I think he'll be pleased that you're alive," Kagome said, preparing the needle and thread for Rin's stitches.

The younger woman frowned at the sight of the sharp object and bit the sleeve of her torn kimono as Kagome sewed the large wound together. Even while going through the stitches, Rin couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. She had ruined one of Sesshōmaru's kimonos that he had given her. The blue material was scraped up and drenched in blood. There was no way she could save it.

"This slash," Kagome said slowly.

Inuyasha lowered his head to the young woman's leg and sniffed. "Made by a branch."

"Not that one, Inuyasha," she replied, pulling back Rin's kimono to show her infected shoulder.

"Fuck," he muttered, raising his head to look at the gaping wound.

He grabbed the collar of Rin's kimono and tore it open. Sōta and Shippō frantically averted their gaze, blushing at the sight of a woman's bare chest. Inuyasha, however, didn't care. He looked straight at Kagome who had covered her open mouth in surprise at the disgusting green pus on her shoulder.

"What?" Rin asked uneasily, "What is it?"

"Rin," Kagome said with a frown, "Just hold still. I need to purify it."

"The thing really dug its fangs deep in her," Inuyasha observed as his wife placed her hands over Rin's injured shoulder.

Rin winced as the healing light from Kagome's fingers pressed against her skin. The dark energy from inside of her was dragged out like water down a drain. Immediately, the pain subsided and the green flesh turned pale once more.

"You're lucky his teeth didn't pierce your heart," Inuyasha said.

"Luck," Kaede scoffed, eyeing the young woman's chest, "Luck had nothing to do with it."

Rin raised an eyebrow at her. What she had done was foolish, but the best option at the time. The creature had clearly wanted her. But Kaede had a point. Luck really had nothing to do with it.

"It...could have killed me," Rin said honestly. "If it wanted, it could have ripped my shoulder apart." She laughed nervously. "But it didn't."

"Maybe it wanted something from you," Shippō said, his gaze still set firmly on the door of the small home.

It earned him a thwack on the head from Inuyasha. "What the hell would a kasha want from Rin?"

She bit her lower lip. The yōkai had mentioned her being a ward...

Rin dismissed the thought as soon as it entered her mind. It must have been a mistake on the demon's part. Perhaps it just wanted to wait to kill her, or she caught it off guard with her own defense.

"I stabbed it when it bit me," she added, "So it probably hesitated because my blade was in its chest."

Kaede wasn't buying one bit of it. Inuyasha, however, nodded along. It made sense to him. He wouldn't question it. Sometimes demons just went on a power hungry rampage and felt like killing humans. He and Miroku witnessed it all the time in the local villages nearby. Besides, demons could only focus on one thing at a time. Not too often were they distracted with injuries from mortals, so when it did happen, it came as quite a shock.

"What happened to staying safe for when Sesshōmaru comes to visit?" Shippō grumbled.

Inuyasha sighed tiredly. Ever since Rin had joined them in the village, things had gotten more exciting. He wasn't so sure it was for the better. He definitely had one hell of a time protecting her as she grew older and more adventurous, trying to prove she was ready to go off with Sesshōmaru on his quest for power. Between her and Miroku and Sango's children, he had his hands full with keeping everyone out of trouble.

"I-Itai," Rin complained as Kagome washed the wound with the wet cloth. "Could you be a little gentler?"

"This is nothing," she replied, an evil glint in her eye, "Just wait until your bath."

"M-Matte!" Rin squealed, Kagome gripping at her shoulders and shoving the injured woman under the bloody water.

"You worry me sick, you know that?" she bit out, grabbing the soap and rubbing the suds in her dark hair.

Kagome's bare breasts ran against Rin's back and the younger woman blushed. When she was younger, she used to envy the older woman's breasts. Now that her own chest had grown measurably, she was pleased that the thoughts of comparison had vanished along with her small boobs. Still though, she hadn't bathed with Kagome in a while, and being injured and vulnerable wasn't exactly her cup of tea.

"Mou, Kagome-oneechan," she groaned grumpily. "I can do this myself."

"Urusai," the priestess ground out. "You can barely move your shoulder." She pinched the injured and purified peace of flesh where the demon had bitten her to prove her point. Rin yelped in response. "See?"

Rin puffed out her lower lip and sighed. "It's not that bad."

Kagome's eyebrow twitched and she shoved the brat under the water. Rin's air bubbles rose to the surface.

"Not that bad?" the angry woman growled, shoving Rin further under before releasing her grip. "Hah!"

Rin rose to the surface, coughing and playfully splashed Kagome. Face full of water, the priestess laughed and splashed the younger woman in return.

"What the hell are they doing in there?" Inuyasha's voice came from outside the bathroom.

Rin giggled, and looked over at the flimsy curtain that was the temporary replacement for the door Kohaku had broken down. "Inuyasha, stop eavesdropping!"

Kagome dumped water over Rin's head and shoved the woman in the bath once more. "You don't have time to be distracted, Rin."

Rin gurgled, her hands shooting out of the water and grabbed Kagome's breasts. The older woman yelped as her fingers pressed passed the mounds of flesh and toward her armpits, tickling her in the process. When she was laughing so hard, it was difficult to keep Rin at bay and she immediately came to the surface to lay a full blown attack on the priestess.

"Mou, not there, Rin!" Kagome giggled, the child's palms pressing into her breasts.

"Kyaa!" Rin laughed, tackling the priestess.

"Are you sure you're hurt?" she asked through her tears.

"Scratches like these are nothing, Kagome-oneechan!" Rin said cockily.

Kagome grinned. Yes, she supposed injuries like those had to be nothing in order for the young woman to continue following Sesshōmaru.

"Ne, Rin," Kagome said gently as the water splashed against the sides of the large bath.

"Hai," Rin giggled, blowing a bubble from the soapy water into the air.

Kagome watched as her eyes lit up. She sighed and smiled.

"Nandemo nai," she chuckled to herself. "Never mind."

Rin's eyes shot open as soon as Kaede's snores could be heard. She winced as she sat up, her muscles aching with every motion. She had managed to play it off with Kagome earlier, but in the privacy of night, she was free to show her painful expressions. She pulled back her blanket and gazed at the wound. It would take a good week or two for it to heal properly.

She twisted out of the sheets, and slowly stood from her mat. She slowly made her way toward the door, mindful of Kaede's breathing. She slipped behind the flimsy curtain and stepped outside. She let out a hiss of pain as she limped into the night. She glanced up at the lining tied between two old trees that held up the still dripping wet fur of the kasha.

She gave it a half smile, half grimace as she staggered beyond it. She hoped Sesshōmaru would be pleased. After all, everything she did was for him. Even from an early age, she had decided to stay by his side forever. She laughed to the stars in the sky.

Oh, how foolish she was.

She was well aware how short a human lifespan was in comparison to eternity. It was nothing. Sesshōmaru would continue walking as an immortal while her corpse rotted in the ground beneath his feet. But even still...a lifetime with Sesshōmaru was all she was asking for. Her forever would be much shorter than his, but still so meaningful.

Rin tripped on a root, her leg lagging slightly behind. She winced and glanced down at her bloody robes. She needed to clean the bandages. Just beyond the goshinboku where Inuyasha had once been shot against with Kikyō's arrow, was a river Rin could wash her blood away with. Kaede had told her to wake her if the wound reopened, but she was an old woman. Rin didn't want to bother her with something she could handle herself.

Rin shifted barefoot through the bushes and felt it scratch against her robes. She didn't care if it had been left behind. At that point, she was so out of breath from sheer pain, she could hardly see. She supposed that was what she got for acting tough all the time. Pretending her wounds were nothing was a terrible mistake.

Still though, she yanked the bloody clothing off of the bush and dragged it along with her, even as it slinked off of her shoulders. She could feel the ground getting wetter as she approached the river. Just a little further and she'd be able to cool her wounds with some fresh water. Her feet hit the bank, sloshing in the shallow end of the river as she waded in.

She sighed in relief as the water rose to meet her. Her flowing blood washing away with the current of the river. Yes. This was all she needed. The night and the river. Rin glanced down at the dark liquid pouring from the stitches Kagome had done. It would soon shut. It would just take some time.

Her eyes widened as she counted the stars in the water. They shimmered like a mirror for the sky. She smiled and rubbed her forehead tiredly.

"Sesshōmaru-sama," she murmured quietly, the pain in her chest from her injuries burning.

She lowered herself to embrace the cool sensation. Inuyasha would probably smell her if she stayed standing. If he caught her out in the middle of the night, she would get scolded. It wasn't something she wanted to deal with time and time again. She pouted, playing with the water. She wasn't a child anymore. She was at the age where she could, if she so chose, marry and start a family. Not that that was what she ever wanted.

Her gaze softened. All she ever wanted was forever with Sesshōmaru.

A twig snapped behind her, and Rin gasped. A pervert? No. They weren't so clumsy around her. Not after Sesshōmaru had killed the last man to try and peep on her. Inuyasha? She sniffed the air. It wasn't his scent. So then who could it...?

A pair of glowing red eyes stared at her from the darkness.

Rin smiled and rose, trying to cover herself with her soaked robes. "S-Sesshōmaru-sama?"

But when the owner of the eyes growled, Rin knew it wasn't her lord.