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Lost Memories

Chapter Text

            Jaken shifted nervously by the long walkway. He held Nintojo in two nervous hands. Every so often he fisted the wood until it splintered against his nails. He was terrified. Sesshomaru would be landing at any moment. He stood at the pristine white promenade that stretched from what was now considered the public part of Sesshomaru’s home in the field of daisies thirty feet out. It was connected to the public entrance, which led to the large dining hall, the guest quarters and a large kitchen where the servants milled busily making meals. Rin and the children had their own private smaller kitchen where Rin’s attendants Atsuko and Akari tended to their needs away from the eyes of the villagers and visitors. The sky was golden with hues of sunset kissing the horizon casting a flaxen glow on the stone edifice. The house was overly large and imposing. Just the way Sesshomaru wanted it.

              The little green imp shook terribly. “He’s going to kill me this time, I know it.” He and Hisato, Rin’s nearly pure blooded inu-yokai guard had made a large mistake. Hisato was taller than Sesshomaru, by several inches. Unlike his Lord, he had a black mokomoko that looped over both his shoulders. He was not yet old enough to have two like Sesshomaru. On his back were strapped two short swords he used in battle.

             “If he’s anywhere near he’ll be able to smell her blood already, it hasn’t stopped oozing since you found her.” Jaken prattled. His voice was a soft alto to Sesshomaru’s tenor. His hands worked nervously on his obi.

            Hisato nodded his head in agreement, “we’re both dead men walking. I was supposed to protect her.” Hisato wore a deep green Haori that contrasted his black hair and golden eyes. On his face were jagged red stripes on either cheek and triple stripes along his wrists. Both of his arms sported deep cuts, and his stomach was lightly bandaged from the battle that he had fought. Demons attacked the village two days before in the morning. Someone, or something had brought down the barrier that protected the village and the estate. Hisato was sure that they would never make it past the village, to the estate, but something had.

            Rin instructed Hisato to aid the village as there were only a few strong warriors who could. She insisted she would be fine. She took the children into the garden. Behind the garden a large forest full of Hinoki Cypress trees and Camaphor trees huddled together. The forest led to the river where boats were readied. Only those closest to the family knew of the secret exits to allow Rin and the children escape should an attack happen. Something had gone into the garden. It pursued her into an open grove of trees where large boulders protruded from the ground and around the circle of Cypresses was open pined forest floor. Marks of a battle riddled the forest. When Hisato caught wind of Rin’s blood, he flew into the air leaving the village and sped as fast as he could to the grove. Deep in the forest trees behind the garden, he found Rin in a puddle of her own blood. She had a deep gash in the top of her head. Her face was black and blue. A large lump on the back of her head, and her back had been slashed open so deeply, the whites of her ribs peeked through the tangled muscles. He grabbed her and brought her back to the Lord and Lady’s bedroom. He called the town Healer, while he tried to staunch the red tide fleeing her body. What was worse was that no one had been able to find the children.

            “You shouldn’t have left her Hisato,” Jaken rebuked the guard. He wrung his hands in fear. “He’s going to kill me. No one has found the children either.”

            “She told me she could get herself and the children to safety. She is deft with that sword of hers. I trusted Rin-sama would be fine,” Hisato argued. In Sesshomaru’s absence he was also tasked with training Rin, on more than one occasion Rin had ripped into his skin and caused damage with her whip. She was far from helpless. Whatever she was met with had over powered her. Their daughter Yuki wasn’t helpless either. The damned little thing as Hisato thought of her held poison in her deadly claws. More than once he had been on the receiving end of one of her temper tantrums leavings his arms bloodied and burned. “He’s coming,” the scent of forest and pines bled into Hisato’s nostrils. Even his heart was racing. He prayed to still be alive in the next hour.

            There it was the streak of light that marked Jaken for death. It didn’t stop in front of the house as Jaken had hoped. He wanted to break it to Sesshomaru slowly, but the amount of blood that was spilled on the forest floor two days before and what Rin had lost in their bedding it would be impossible for Sesshomaru to not smell it and not gauge the amount from the smell alone.

Rin now lay in a deathlike trance. The town healer Torikku laid poultices and bandaged her wounds, however her body was weak and the wounds were unyielding and refusing to close. Rin’s body was so weak from blood loss that the healer said recovery was impossible. She would be dead within hours.

 “He’s going straight to the bedroom,” Hisato flew into the air. All were forbidden from the Lord and Ladies private garden, but he would risk it this one time, to access the bedroom faster and explain to Sesshomaru-sama what happened. Hisato wrung his hands. If he walked out of that room alive, he would never make the same mistake again.


 

             Her blood, Sesshomaru smelled it clearly miles from his home. It flooded his senses with fury. He had been gone for three weeks. It was longer than he had ever left Rin by herself. It was necessary, ensuring that his time with his family would be extended beyond a few days. His borders were finally secure, after eight years of fighting, they would be able to rest for what he hoped would be at least a month. He left her in capable hands, the staff they had, were trust worthy. It wasn’t just her blood, the smell of sulfur and burned wood was emanating from their safe haven, the village Rin had insisted he create. So much blood, Rin. The scent was coming from two places, deep in the garden where one of the exits had been built in the forest and from their home. The smell in the forest was older, the smell of death and fresh blood came from their bedroom. As he flew over the house he saw Jaken twitching nervously with Hisato next to him. He ignored them and flew into the garden. He was met by Hisato who appeared next to Sesshoumaru moments after Sesshomaru’s feet hit the ground. Hisato immediately started bumbling out apologies, that Sesshomaru didn’t listen to. He strode into his bedroom to find Rin covered in blood and bandages.

            There were thick dressings across her stomach that were already soaked in fresh crimson. Her head was swollen. Her beautiful heart shaped faced was marred by gashes. Her breaths came out shallowly. Her lungs sounded wet and crackled as she tried to breathe. His heart skipped several beats. He tensed his hands. My heart…

 Jaken groveled on the floor, begging forgiveness. Sesshomaru kicked Jaken out of the way. He didn’t need excuses. Not yet. He needed Rin. Her servants Akari, the hanyou mixed with a fire cat, with bright red hair and red eyes sat by Rin’s side holding her hand. The human servant Atsuko who was married to a horse demon was on Rin’s other side. Their eyes shot to Sesshomaru when he landed. They stood and backed away from him respectfully bowing their heads. The air wreaked of fear as the people milling in the room split like the waves of an ocean as he strode to Rin’s side.

            Sesshomaru fell to his knees next to her limp body. He touched her soiled face running his thumb along the broken skin of her lip. She could barely breathe, “she’s on deaths door,” he ground his teeth.

            He dug the claws from his right hand into his left wrist slicing through his veins until blood pooled out of the gashes. Nearby, Torikku the healer, a pure blooded serrow demon wearing a black cloak, who had asked for refuge in their village grabbed Sesshomaru’s arm, “it’s not safe to mix such strong blood with a human.” His face was grey and pointed. His horns twisted on top of his head.

            Sesshomaru ripped his arm out of Torikku’s grasp, “leave us, all of you!” He roared, “except you two,” he snarled at Jaken and Hisato. “You will explain how this happened.” Sesshomaru held his blood-soaked arm over Rin’s head, letting his lifeforce flow into the cuts and bruises on her scalp. He dug his claws into the swelling on the back of Rin’s head, pus came out, but withered away as soon as his blood began to mingle with it. The swelling decreased. He sliced open the bandages wrapped around her waist. His stomach constricted when he turned her thin body over trying to find the wounds. He could see the cartilage and muscles through the deep slices in her back, “what happened?” It took every ounce of control not to rip into Jaken and the guard. “Hisato, where were you? Where are my children?” His eyes glowed red with fury. He forced himself to focus on healing his injured mate. She had hours, even he could smell that. His blood dripped onto the whites of Rin’s exposed ribs. Her muscles absorbed the scarlet thick liquid. “Answer me!”

            “Someone lowered the barrier. The village was attacked. Rin-sama asked me to assist in the village,” the guard spoke plainly, “she took the children into the garden. She assured me they would be safe,” he was on one knee. His head bowed in shame trying to avoid the angry eyes that were on him.

            “She will shake with fever soon,” he gingerly laid Rin back down, both of his arms were now soaked in her blood and his own. He touched Rin’s forehead that was only somewhat swelled. “Your job was to protect Rin, not the village. What happened to her?”

            “We don’t know Sesshomaru-sama,” Jaken cowered on the floor like the imp he was. “We found her two days ago near the grove at the edge of the garden. Close to the forest, like this. We called the Healer. He has been struggling to keep her alive.”

            Sesshomaru stood up howling in anger, “where are my children?” He released his whip at Hisato lifting the pathetic dog off the ground and suffocating him as it snaked around the black inu-yokai’s neck.

            “Rin-sama took them into the garden,” Hisato gasped. “I have searched for two days but I haven’t been able to…” Hisato was cut off by Yuki running into her parents room.

            “Chi-chiue!!” She screamed and flew against his chest. The action caused her to dump Harutoga who was on her back right onto the stone floor. She was eight now, with long gangly legs. She came up to his hip bones, “it’s safe now Haru. Chi-chiue is home.” Sesshomaru wrapped one arm around Yuki and another around Harutoga when his son ran into the room, “we did what you said if the house was ever attacked. We stayed hidden. I masked my scent and kept Haru safe. I came home when I smelled you. What’s wrong with Ka-san?” The little girl with big golden eyes turned to her mother whose face was flushing red. “Ka-san?” Yuki’s hands shook, jangling the many bracelets she wore around her wrists.

            Sesshomaru was even more enraged, “you couldn’t find two children?” His hands were shaking. Sesshomaru stood up, “go to the forest where you found her. Bring me back answers now!” He picked up a nearing stool and threw it at Hisato in rage before releasing his hold of the whip. Yuki flinched at her father’s anger. “Jaken, take the children and see to their needs. If you can’t manage that, then perhaps the time has come for me to get rid of you.” He cracked his knuckles threatening Jaken with his razor sharp claws.

            “Yes, Sesshomaru-sama,” Jaken’s hands could barely hold Nintojo, “Yuki, Harutoga, come with me,” he took Harutoga’s hand.

            “No!” Yuki screamed attempting to slash at Jaken, “what happened to Kasan!?”

            “Chichiue, there was something in the forest but I can’t see it,” Harutoga said. He was five now and shorter than Sesshomaru had expected. He still sported the black streak of fur along one of his pointed ears that faded into his silver hair. His cheek stripes were the same as his father, and so were his wrists. They shook in fear as his small face stared at his injured mother.

            Sesshomaru took Harutoga’s hands trying to calm himself, “were you with Ka-san when this happened?” He prayed his children had the answer. Did they see who did this? Could they lead him to the one he would kill?

            Yuki shook her head, “he was with me. Something, I couldn’t see it,” Yuki rubbed her left temple as her feet almost gave out beneath her, “ow!” She cried holding her head. Sesshomaru steadied her, “I can’t remember. Ka-san said to take Haru to the tunnels, the ones that lead to the river where the boats are hidden. Chichiue my head really hurts,” her nose wrinkled and small tears formed around her golden eyes.

            “Let me see,” Sesshoumaru ran his fingers through Yuki’s silver hair feeling her scalp. He felt no lumps or bumps. He checked the skin around her forehead and by her ears and neck. There were no injuries. “Jaken take them to Akari. Get them something to eat and then put them in bed to rest.” Sesshomaru ordered. His voice was less angry now.

            “Is Ka-san going to be okay?” Harutoga asked. He was still holding his father’s hand, “is she going to die?”

            “She will live. She will be well soon, you will see. Jaken take them,” his voice went back to its harsh tone, “go with Jaken, Harutoga,” then it was soft as if all his anger and frustration was gone while he spoke to his children.

            Yuki looked at her mother with tears in her eyes and touched her own head once again feeling faint. Before she left she hugged her father, he wrapped his arms around Yuki, “I am home, you are both safe now.” She took her brother by the hand and followed Jaken towards the kitchen.

            Sesshomaru removed the rest of Rin’s clothing carefully and wrapped her in the gold cotton blanket that covered their bedding. “My heart,” he whispered into her sleeping ear, “what happened to you?” He touched his lips to her forehead and mournfully closed his eyes against her warming skin. He took a moment to just breathe. He wanted to kill something, more specifically Jaken and Hisato who were meant to protect her and keep things like this from happening. He picked her up and flew towards the river. Her temperature was already rising. Soon her body would burn with fever as his blood slid through her injuries forcing the muscles and skin to close. She would wake without a scar to show for the battle she fought.


 

             “I’m not hungry!” Yuki screamed at Akari slamming her fork down, splashing the wall of the private dining room with red tomato soup. “I don’t want this,” she picked the bowl and slammed it into the wall. The glass shattered, splashing the ground and the floor with clear slivers.

            “That’s enough,” Akari came forward with an orange glowing hand. She knelt down carefully avoiding the glass on the floor. “You can be upset but you will not destroy this house.”

            “Leave me alone kitty cat!” Yuki’s claws erupted in a thick green mist. “I’ll melt your ugly face!” She shrieked at the hanyou fire cat.

            Akari caught her hand heating her palm near to producing a fireball. “You really want to have this dance again Yuki? Your mother is hurt and you are behaving like this.”

            “I hate you!” She screamed at Akari struggling in her grip. Beyond having knife like claws, the child produced dokkasu similar to her father’s. “I’m going to kill you!” She screamed at the top of her lungs, “let me go, let me go!! I want Chichiue!”

            “What’s going on?” Atsuko poked her head into the kitchen.

            “Another Yuki tantrum. Please say Hisato is on the other side of that door,” she increased the temperature of her hands.

            Steam rose off Yuki’s wrists. “Ow! You’re burning my wrists!” She squirmed. She flung her feet up meaning to dig her toe claws into Akari’s stomach only to be hauled into the air by a green whip.

            Hisato stood in the kitchen, energy whip extended, teeth gnashing. “You stop that now.”

            “I wouldn’t burn your wrists, if you wouldn’t try to melt my face you little brat!” Akari rubbed her burned hands. “You’re lucky I’m a hanyou and these,” she held up blistered hands, “will heal quickly. This isn’t the right time for you to have a tantrum.”

            “Shut up!” Yuki shouted attempting to free herself from the whip.

            “Hold her there until she calms down,” Akari stood up knuckling her back. “Harutoga,” the child had been sitting dumbfounded with his chopsticks and rice. “Let’s go take a bath.” She held her hand out to the boy.

            “Stay away from my brother you bitch!” She hissed at Akari. “I’m going to kill you! I’m going to kill you!” Her eyes bled red around the edges. “Let me go! I hate you!”

            “Yuki your being mean,” Harutoga jumped off his chair, over the table, missing the shattered glass and landing by the door. “Chichiue is going to be mad at you.”

            Yuki howled in rage.

            “What’s wrong with her?” Hisato turned his head to Akari, “she’s never been this out of control before.”

            “Don’t ask me. For as long as I’ve known this little one, she’s always been like this,” Akari laughed taking Harutoga by the shoulder.

            “I don’t want you stupid dog!” She slashed at the serpentine green whip that held her prisoner in the air. “I want Ka-san! I want Ka-san! Now!! Let me see my Ka-san!”

            “Should we get Sesshomaru-sama?” Atsuko leaned against the doorframe rubbing her shoulders. “What’s wrong with her eyes?”

            The red advanced nearing her golden irises.

            “Her yoki is rising,” Hisato gave the whip a good shake, “stop it Yuki. You’re too old for this behavior.”

            The skinny child snarled, her fangs growing, her claws getting sharper.

            “Get Sesshomaru-sama. He is most likely by the river. If this is what I think it is, we have no way to change her back,” Hisato sent more of his yoki through the whip that restrained the little girl. “Atsuko go now. Get Hideyoshi or my brother Sato to bring him back. Quickly.” He scrutinized the red in her eyes. He considered knocking her out to stop the transformation. He was sure she was too young for this.

            “You’re dead if I get loose, you asshole!” She kicked her feet.


 

             Atsuko ran from the kitchen. She knew Sato, Hisato’s black haired twin brother spent most of his time guarding the village. He had his own small hut that sat near the barrier. Hideyoshi was easier to find as he was one of the only other sentinels to be found in the home. He feet padded quickly, “Hideyoshi!” She called to the dog demon. “Hideyoshi!”

            “I can find him,” she hadn’t noticed Harutoga trailing behind her. “Come with me,” the little boy with striped hair grabbed her hand. “Come on!” He pulled her out a side door. “He’s this way.” The small face glanced back at Atsuko. His eyes were unlike either of his parents. Under his white ear was a golden eye like his father’s, and beneath the black ear was a brown eye like his mother’s. “You’re not fast enough Atsuko. And your clumsy.” He noted how she was tripping over twigs and branches on the ground.

            Atsuko pulled to a stop just paces from the house. “Then you find him. Tell him your sister is out of control again. We can’t calm her. Hurry.”

            “Okay,” he jumped into the and bounded into the forest. He wasn’t as good as Yuki was about jumping from branch to branch, or from the forest floor to a boulder, but he could run quickly. His father’s scent was near the river. He could still smell his mother’s blood too. His heart pounded within the small confines of his chest. A light sheen of sweat covered his arms as he fled through the forest. “Chichiue!” He called, knowing his father was near. He lost his scent just before the river. He knew he was somewhere. “Chichiue!”

            “Here Harutoga,” the tenor voice came booming through the forest.

            Harutoga burst through the bushes, almost landing face first in the river. “Yuki is out of control. Hisato has her all tied up. She said she is going to kill everyone. She tried to put dokkasu in Akari’s face. Is Ka-san okay?”

            “Dammit,” Sesshomaru cursed carrying Rin to the bank of the river. He set her down by the rocks so her body was still half covered in cold River water. “I should fire them all,” he said under his breath.

            “Why?” Harutoga asked.

            Sesshomaru pulled his son down near Rin. He wasn’t sure who to tend to. Rin whose breaths were more steady now or his daughter who had lost control of her senses. “Can you keep Ka-san’s head out of the water?”

            “I think so,” Harutoga answered. He sat down with his legs extended. Sesshomaru lifted Rin’s head up and rest it on his son’s lap. “I will send Hisato to bring you both home.” He paused not liking the idea of leaving them. “Here,” he handed Harutoga Tenseiga. “Listen to me,” he knelt down helping his son grip the sheath. “This will provide a barrier if anyone tries to attack either of you. Do not let it go.”

            “Is she okay now?” Harutoga stroked his mother’s hair. “She looks like she is sleeping.”

            “She is sleeping,” Sesshomaru flew into the air. He cursed quietly to himself. She would choose a time like now to completely lose it. Ever since Yuki was a baby it was if he was the only that could calm her. She was high strung. Before Sesshomaru had left Rin confessed she didn’t know what to do with Yuki. She was getting too big to restrain. He bit his bottom lip to keep himself sane as the terrain changed from the thick forest trees to the open field of daisies. He landed by the kitchen window, knowing she was there from her scent and her howls.

            “Your father is going to be upset with you,” Hisato barked at Yuki, “stop struggling.

            “Shut up asshole!” Yuki had one arm loose. Her eyes were nearly completely red. The stripes on her cheeks had become jagged.

            “Yuki,” Sesshomaru bellowed at the little girl climbing through the large stain glass window. Did he really have to leave Rin in Harutoga’s care to deal with this? “Release her,” he spoke angrily. “Hisato, go to the river and bring Rin to her bed.”

            The green whip dissipated dropping Yuki on her head. Sesshomaru growled at Hisato as the black inu-yokai flew through the window.

            “Uh-oh,” Yuki rubbed her sore head staring at her father.

            “Did you make this mess?” His tone was furiously low.

            Yuki nodded nervously standing up. “I’m sorry?”

            “Clean it up, then come to my room,” he strode passed her, crunching glass beneath his feet.

            “Dammit,” Yuki sighed picking up the napkins from the table. “How am I supposed to clean this all up?”

            “It’s called a broom,” Akari came around the corner,  “here you go. And you can use this bucket of water to wash the soup off the walls.”

            “It’s your job,” Yuki stuck her tongue out at Akari.

            “Yuki!” Sesshomaru reprimanded her from the hall.

            “Yes Chichiue,” she rolled her eyes. Stupid Chichiue, it’s all your fault and you know it.

Chapter Text

              The shadow observed from the dark green bushes near the river, the little boy holding his mother’s head in his lap. Every so often the child would run his claws through his mother’s thick black hair. The child held a katana that was too big for him in his other hand. Selfish beast, the shadow licked its jagged yellow teeth. Leaving her alone…again and with a child no less. He licked his lips in anticipation. He moved to step forward, the child unaware of his presence. The wind blew his black cloak, revealing a thin body. His fingers were slender, bone like in shape. His yellow eyes focused on the child.

            “Who’s there?” Harutoga shot up flicking his wrists, sparking green flashes of energy. He gripped the black wooden sheathe tightly. His cheeks were double striped similar to his father’s and crescent moon hung from his forehead. His cat ears wiggled on top of his head. “Who’s there?” He shivered rubbing his arms. “Hisato-san? Chichiue?” He was on the verge of tears. The shadow new the boy would be of no consequence. He had already seen to that. Yet the child stood in a defensive stance in front of his mother cracking his claws. Sesshomaru’s children were fearless. Their father had ensured they were not helpless. It wasn’t time yet. Not yet. He backed away as he felt a rush of yoki coming in his direction.

            Hisato landed next to Harutoga, “what is it Harutoga?” The black haired Inu-yokai asked.

            “I don’t know,” the five year old answered sheepishly. “My skin started itching.”

            “Itching?” Hisato knelt down on one knee lifting Rin out of the water. “She doesn’t smell right.”

            “I don’t know,” he touched the back of his neck trying to calm the hairs raising. “Hisato I can’t see it.”

            “See what little one? Get on my back,” he stayed kneeling while Harutoga dug his heels into his mokomoko so he wouldn’t fall.

            “I don’t know,” the little boy said defeated. “It’s not there.”

            “You’re not making any sense. I think it’s time for bed,” that wasn’t particularly his job but there were times Hisato helped in caring for the children, particularly when Yuki lost it which was almost weekly. He soared into the air with Rin in his arms. The boy was telling the truth according to him. Although his words made little to no sense to the dog demon. The only part that rang true was that something had been in the forest with Rin. Whatever it was had injured her badly. The boy became pensive on his elder’s shoulder. “Hisato-san why didn’t you transform like Chichiue?”

            “I’m not pureblooded,” he landed around the back of the house. There were several entrances and exits, each guarded by one like himself. “Hideyoshi,” he acknowledged the white haired dog demon who guarded the private entrance.

            “You’re like me,” Harutoga wiggled his ankles out of Hisato’s mokomoko and jumped onto the ground.

            “Not quite,” he pulled his hair back over his pointed ears. “I have more yokai blood than you do by far which is why I can fly.”

            “I can’t fly,” Harutoga whined as he trailed after the demon holding his mother.

            Hisato waggled his head, opening the door to the bedroom. Akari and Atsuko were just finishing cleaning the blood out of the mattress. “At least his doesn’t stain,” Atsuko laughed. “You’ve been here all night and day for the last two days Akari. Go home and rest. I can manage for now.” Atsuko pulled a new grey sheet out from inside of the trunks that lined the hallway. She tucked the edges in and removed a contrasting  bright green top sheet.

            Akari knuckled her back standing. “Think he’ll kill me for opening the door to the garden?”

            “He knows her scent,” Hisato set Rin down on the bed cradling her head until it rest on the pillows.

            No sooner was she set down than Sesshomaru entered into the room from the red oak door that lead to their private garden. Behind him Yuki followed, her face flush with tears, a thin sheen of sweat ran down her body. “Do not do that again,” he rebuked her firmly.

            “Yes Chichiue. I’m sorry,” she wiped her eyes and nose, gulping back tears.

            Sesshomaru gave her a push in Hisato’s direction raising both eyebrows and widening his eyes in threat.

            “I’m sorry Hisato-san, Akari-san,” she bowed humbled.

            “I forgive you,” Hisato intoned amused.

            “I don’t,” Akari hissed and left the room.

            “Can I come in?” Harutoga asked politely holding onto the door frame.

            “Come my son,” Sesshomaru sat down in the bed next to Rin. He draped one arm over her waist. Wake up my heart. Harutoga climbed into his father’s lap. Yuki cried near the door. “You will stay or you will go to your room,” he rebuked her again.

            Yuki snarled back at her father.

            He raised an eyebrow in warning.

            She kicked the wall, sitting down, crossing her arms over her chest, refusing to look at her father.

            Akari and Atsuko bowed and left the room with Hisato. “What did he to do her?” Hisato asked as they exited the room. If it was appropriate he would gloat. That child had been a thorn in his side since she discovered she could burn his arms with her poison at the age of two and a half.

            “Fifty laps up and down the field without breaks and sparring until she admitted she was a weak child who would listen to her elders,” Akari covered her mouth laughing. “I wish he was home more. That child needs her father.”

            “You would have no home if he was,” Jaken came up from the study that sat across from the private dining room.

            “He was gone for three weeks,” Akari reminded him.

            “It’s none of your business,” Jaken shot back.

“Fine for you to say. You aren’t the one that stays up with her at night when she can’t sleep brewing pot after pot of tea,” Akari denied the urge to boot him down the hall.

“Have you forgotten? You were hired for your discretion. What happens between the two of them, stays between the two of them. They do not need your interreference. Hisato how is she?” Jaken gazed down the hall lovingly. She was still his little girl, no matter how old she was.

            “Still unconscious.” Hisato leaned against the wall near the study.

            “Jaken,” Akari bowed lightly, “I am going home for a rest. I’ll be back when the sunsets.”

            “You won’t be tired?” Atsuko asked concerned.

            “You’re human Atsuko. I don’t require the same amount of sleep that you,” Akari opened the door to the main dining room and disappeared through the door.

            “Go prepare a bath for the children Atsuko. Heat the coals,” Jaken went back to his papers. “No one understands. It takes centuries to build a kingdom,” he muttered from the desk. “He can’t do it overnight.”

            “The southern border again?” Hisato called from the hallway.

            “Always. Those wretched ogres don’t know when to quit. It wasn’t just the south, the East is also struggling. The cats as he calls them do not like that he forced them back. He is to meet their leader in two weeks’ time to discuss a peace treaty I hope that will hold,” Jake adjusted the papers on the desk. His purpose in the home had changed. He went from being Rin’s babysitter when she was a child, to her guard while they traveled, to the family nanny when they lived in the hut now to the one that fielded Sesshomaru’s messages and arranged his meetings.

            “The North?” Hisato inquired.

            “Koga conceded lands to Sesshomaru-sama in exchange for him dealing a fatal blow to the Birds of Paradise,” he picked up one scroll. “He misses her so much while he is away,” Jaken said sadly. “She was supposed to be safe here.” He wiped a tear from his pointed nose.

            “No,” Hisato reminded him. “He knew. He knew he couldn’t protect her from everything. Something slipped through. Whatever it was, knew about the escape routes.”

            “He’s going to blame himself for this,” Jaken pushed a group of scrolls to the side, focusing on the map of Sesshomaru’s lands.

            “It was bound to happen,” Hisato said.

            “It doesn’t mean it should have,” Jaken reminded him.

            “She’s his weakness. She and the children. We need to get the barrier back up,” Hisato hoped Jaken understood what he was asking.

            “We’d have to send for Miroku,” Jaken said firmly. “I don’t know if he wants to involve them yet.”

            “We don’t have enough forces to stem off another attack,” Hisato reminded Jaken.

            “I’ll speak to him. For now your position remains the same Hisato. Stick near to Rin and the children.”


 

 Rin’s POV

 

            It was coming for her. The giant white beast stalked its prey. It’s paws pounded against the forest floor. It’s fur blew in the wind. It was coming for her. She didn’t understand why her heart would not stop racing. Her chest ached from fear. She hid behind a tree. The breath was hot. He panted down on top of her. The searing breath blew against her hair, flaming her shoulders. His fangs were long, attacking her skin. But it wasn’t a man. She was too scared to open her eyes, too afraid to look at whatever it was attacking her. It was like her senses were heightened. The ground was rough and scraped against her bare feet. It splintered into her skin. It was getting closer, he was getting closer. His eyes were red, furious coming for her. The mouth opened wide, ready to swallow her whole. The teeth came crashing down, licking the blood that seeped from her wounds. She knew that it was he who killed her.

            She felt sore. Her shoulders hurt and the back of her ribs felt like she had coughed too much in the last few days. Her hair smelled of sweat and something musty that she couldn’t remember. She tried moving her body. It felt like she was moving a mountain. The back of her ribs smoldered in agony. She groaned coughing. She tried to force her eyes open. She shivered in fear. Nothing looked familiar. Where am I? Her thoughts came out jumbled

There was a hand wrapped around her waist. The fingers ended in sharp claws. It felt familiar and wrong all at the same time. Her spinning head wouldn’t let her process the claws, or the stripes that created a freakish shadow on the floor. She unfurled her eyes completely, groaning as she did. She was in a room that was made from white stones with intricate carvings lining the vaulted ceiling. She faced a red door that was shut tight. She pulled herself up to come face to face with something she didn’t recognize. It’s ears were pointed at the sides of its head. Strange markings painted the forehead and face of the fanged creature that sat in front of her. Its hair was white, long past it’s hips that sat near her own. The face was close to hers, too close. Its golden eyes were open. It reached for her, attempting to cup her face. She screamed in fear. She pushed herself backwards, off the bedding and onto the cold stone floor. She landed with a harsh thud that pinched her spine. The thing with claws came closer to her, trying to talk to her, but she was too scared to make out what it was saying. “No, no, no…” she held her hands over her face blocking the clawed hand that was aimed for her throat, “Yokai, don’t touch me. Don’t touch me…Where am I?” She tried to scoot backwards to the door, but the thing kept following her.  

The thing crouched low scooting closer to her, trying to entreat her eyes. He reached a hand out to her again, she slapped the hand away, “please…don’t hurt me. NO!” Nothing looked right, there was a garden, it would be beautiful, if she wasn’t terrified. She looked at the man, or at least she thought it was a man that was trying to grasp her hands. She pulled them away from him, shivering and shaking. Her back finally ran into the marbled wall. There was nowhere left to hide. He wouldn’t stop advancing, this man with fangs. They looked sharp. Thick white fur covered one shoulder. She buried her eyes in her knees. “Who are you? Where am I?”

His hands were clawed, there were stripes at the base of his wrists where they met his hands. “Rin?” The thing asked her, “it’s me.” He gave up trying to grasp her hands.

            “Me?” The air was coming in and out her lungs too quickly, it felt thin, like it was evaporating as she struggled to breathe, “don’t touch me, don’t touch me…I don’t know you.”

            “Stay back,” he motioned to two things she hadn’t noticed before

            “What’s wrong with her?” A dove like, high pitched voice asked.

            “Rin?” Why did he keep saying that. Who is Rin?

            There were two smaller versions of the thing standing next to the crouching, man-demon? Was that what he was? They both had pointed ears like cats. They held each other’s hands, their fingers ended in sharp talons like the thing that kept trying to talk to her, “monsters, monsters, monsters everywhere,” her eyes darted from the thing in front of her, to the smaller versions that stood behind him, and some green thing with a staff with its mouth wide open and another thing with black fur wrapped over its shoulders. “Monsters…who are you?”

            The black thing was also crouching now close to her.

            “Stay back Hisato,” the white haired one intoned harshly.

            She screamed again at the sound of his voice, “no…no…” She wrapped her arms around her knees, “who are you? Where am I!? Someone save me!” She coughed back her tears. The air was getting thinner. Black specks formed around the corner of her eyes. “Don’t…” she choked, “hurt…please.” With those words the black took over her vision, she collapsed into the bliss of darkness.


 

             “What’s wrong with Ka-san, Chi-chiue?” Harutoga’s shrill voice broke.

            “She doesn’t know us,” Yuki’s golden eyes were marred with clear tears that dared to stain her cheeks, “you said she would be okay!” Yuki snarled at her father, “you said she would be okay!” Yuki shrieked and ran out the door that lead into the garden.

            Sesshomaru said nothing. He caught Rin by the shoulders before she collapsed on the floor. His heart felt strained. Rin thought he was a monster? She carried the aroma of fear while she slept although he couldn’t quite understand why. He carefully picked her up and lay her back down on the bedding. He covered her and put his head in his hands as he sat on the stone floor. Harutoga climbed into his lap. Sesshomaru let out a languid sigh, “Jaken, call the Healer. Hisato, find Yuki.”

            “Can I stay with you Chi-chiue? Please?” Harutoga asked his father, his golden and brown eyes blinked back tears.  

            Sesshomaru put his hand on his chin. He touched Rin’s forehead, the fever was completely gone. She should have woken up fine, healthy, whole. There was no more swelling on her head to account for her confusion. “Why does Ka-san smell like that? She doesn’t smell like Ka-san.” Harutoga searched his father’s face for answers.

            Sesshomaru closed his eyes, “that smell is fear. Pure fear.” She doesn’t know us. My heart…

            Jaken paused before leaving the room. He turned timidly to face the defeated Dog Lord. Jaken could see the strain, the stress even if Sesshomaru tried to hide it. “Sesshomaru-sama…is this permanent?”

            Sesshomaru swallowed and exhaled deeply. He wanted to hold her hand, but was unsure if it would scare her. She was already so terrified. He had tried during her ramblings to tell her she was safe, that she would not be hurt, that he was home. He meant to ask for forgiveness for the fight they had before he left three weeks before.

            “Sesshomaru-sama?” Jaken urged. “What do we tell the house? The servants will talk, it will get back to the village.”

            “Jaken,” it came out low, a warning to hold to his tongue. “You will say nothing to the house or the village.” Although the toad was right the servants would talk. “None will come back here but Akari, Atsuko and Hisato. Not of the sentinels and not of any from the servants. Until she…” Until what? He was unsure. She lay limply, whining in her sleep.

            “If they ask?” Jaken persisted.

            “She is unwell,” Sesshomaru stroked the hair from her eyes as if the motion could bring her back to him. “She is unwell,” it came out under his breath. 

            Harutoga buried himself further into his father’s chest. “I’m scared Chichiue.”

            “You are safe now,” Sesshomaru reminded the child in his lap.

            “I don’t feel safe,” Harutoga sniveled.

            What happened in the grove? Sesshomaru avoided slamming his hand into the floor. Dammit…who did this to her?

            “Leave Jaken,” Sesshomaru barked at his green servant.

            Jaken bowed, “shall I take Harutoga with me?”

            Harutoga held onto his father’s white haori and shook his head. “He will remain with his father,” Sesshomaru nodded towards the door.

            “Um…without the barrier…”

            Sesshomaru groaned lowering his eyes, “our guard is not large enough.” He had five Sentinels. Sato, Hisato, Hideyoshi, Kiyoshi and Tadashi. None of them were pure-blooded. Hisato and Sato were twin brothers, both with black hair, and black lined, golden eyes. Hisato was chosen to be Rin’s personal guard. Sato remained in the village. Hideyoshi guarded the outer perimeter of the house while Kiyoshi guarded the entrance to the private area of their home. Tadashi patrolled the barrier. “Send Hideyoshi and Kiyoshi to the village to guard the perimeter. Hisato will remain near Rin. This Sesshomaru will hunt when the sunsets.”

            “Um…there are messages from your allies Sesshomaru-sama.”

            “Answer them,” his eyes were still closed as he sat next to his limp lover.

            “How?”

            “Leave,” Sesshomaru roared at Jaken. “Just go.”

            He bowed to his Lord and fled the room.

            “Chichiue?” Harutoga shifted in his father’s lap. “Is she okay?”

            Sesshomaru couldn’t answer that. The injuries were gone. Her fever had broken. Her head and face returned to their natural color, the eyes no longer bruised. There was no lingering swelling on her body, only shivers and sweats from fear. He leaned in closer smelling her breath for poisons. He sniffed her skin for an illness he may have missed. Nine years together and he knew when she was sick from scent alone, not just any cold but which one. They each had their own smells. That last fight played in his head, why did he have to leave her like that?


 

             Jaken had come bumbling forward like the clumsy urchin he always was. He tripped on the smooth marble floors and landed with a thwack on top of Nintojo by the open door to the family dining room. “Sesshomaru-sama…the ogres have amassed again and overrun the southern border! Koga needs help, there are too many this time!”

            He fumed and raged internally. He had warned Jaken in the past to give him the information privately. Rin, it only took one scan in her direction to watch her face fall to the ground. The corners of her eyes bubbled with tears. She folded one leg over the other and rest her chin in one hand to hide her emotions.

            “Jaken,” he cautioned, “leave. Now.”

            “But…but…”

            “Leave!” He picked up a glass mug and threw it at the fleeing backside of the green imp. “Rin,” he turned to her. He sat at the head of the table in a high backed chair rather than the traditional low table on their knees.

            “Don’t you dare,” she bit at him. Her low tone and hoarse voice was all he needed. Her cheeks flushed red. “You promised.”

            “What would you have me do?” He said in equal annoyance at her continuing protests to his absences.

            “Send someone else!” She screamed at him the tears finally coming. “You promised.”

            He reached for her hand, a futile mistake. It was slapped away from her face. “Rin,” he tried again to speak to her. From Jaken’s urgency he knew he needed to leave quickly, now. There was no time to waste in squabbling but something didn’t feel right leaving her angry. “There is no one else.”

            “Because you’re the great Sesshomaru,” she stood up quickly walking for the door.

            He jumped out of his chair just as rapidly, “you’re behaving like a child.” He grasped her arm. “Accompany me to the back entrance.”

            “No,” she attempted to pull away from him. “You said two weeks! You’ve been home two days! Why don’t you see it? This isn’t what I wanted. We agreed you would be home every three days.”

            “Things change,” he grit his teeth still holding her around the upper arms. “It’s not what I wanted. The borders are unstable. We discussed this.”

            “How long will this last? You are gone longer and longer, battle after battle. You’re never home,” her tears fell onto his hands. “You’re never home for more than half a day at a time and gone for weeks. Dammit Sesshomaru,” she covered her eyes with her hands choking on her tears.

            “What would you have me do? Let this go? All of it? Leave us vulnerable for another attack. I do this for you.”

            “You do this for yourself! For your pride! For your honor!” She attempted desperately to wipe her eyes.

            “Lower your voice,” he warned her.

            “No! I’m tired of this. It’s not fair to me. It’s not fair to our children,” her tone softened. “They miss you. I miss you.” She grasped his hand.

            “I miss you,” he lowered his forehead to hers. Something he did often, a sign of closeness and affection. “You know I don’t enjoy leaving you.”

            “Then prove it. Stay,” she gripped the sleeves of the long grey kimono he wore that day. “Stay with us.”

            “I can’t,” his voice faltered as he whispered. His lips brushed against hers with each word, “I do this to protect you. To create a land where our family will be safe.”

            “Then go,” she said dispassionately. “Just go.” She released his sleeves and turned away from him.

            “Accompany this Sesshomaru,” he urged her. It was a borderline plea. He could sense how unhappy she was. As the years passed, he could feel more and more of her through the bond he had created with her.

            “Just go,” she brushed tears from her eyes and returned to the table.

            “You won’t follow me?” His heart ached. He wondered if this is what his father went through while establishing his territory. Did he have someone to protect when the West was founded, someone to love? Was there someone before his human lover. He gazed out the stain glass window of their dining room. Birds flew back and forth from the tall magnolias and camaphors that grew in the forest behind the home.

            She sat down, her eyes downcast to the floor, her hands shaking. “Leave.”

            There was no time for this fight. He would make it up to her when he returned. He pivoted on his heels and flew to their room. He changed into his white haori. He strapped his armor and swords onto his torso and left through the garden. He flew over to the village where the children were playing with their friends. He landed long enough to give Yuki and Harutoga a quick hug. “The southern border has fallen,” he said as he held them. “Be good for Ka-san.”

            “You’ll come back?” Yuki ever the worrier asked. She was taller now, the size of a seven year old. He and Rin had only recently noticed that her aging was slowing. Her white hair went down to the middle of her back when it was down. Most of the time she wore it in two pony tails with shells similar to his mother who doted on her.

            “As soon as I can,” he said giving the dimples of her chin a tickle. “I will bring you a treat if you behave.”

            “I love you Chichiue,” Harutoga his calmer child ran into his arms. He always marveled at the child’s eyes. It was not often, or even rarely a child with two different colored eyes was seen.

            He lingered long enough to kiss them both before soaring faster than an eagle into the sky. The ogres, damn the ogres. They came in waves, they came in droves, a never ceasing vermin that plagued his lands. He cared naught that they were angry with him for taking his lands. But Rin…his Rin…


 

             That is how he found himself still sitting next to the large futon that lay on the floor of their bed. He had not left her side. He knew that he needed to leave the next morning. He wouldn’t. Not until he knew she was okay, that she was healed, that her memories were intact. Harutoga’s head was lolling in his lap. He had sacrificed everything to build this home for her.

            The village began milling with couples only weeks after he secretly spread the word that a dai-yokai would shelter mixed couples. His first stop after leaving Rin the first three days had been to the skies to his mother to find a suitable guard for her. There were numerous Inu-Yokai in the West. Another Lord had long before taken over his father’s lands. Something Sesshomaru never cared about. His only request had been that he would be able to take trinkets from his childhood home before it was destroyed. There were more in the skies at his mother’s castle. The only issue was who would betray him and attempt to take his lands once he had completed his conquest. She offered him Hisato, more than a hanyou and less than pure-blooded. Hisato offered his brother who was also rejected amongst their own kind. Sato knew of several others as rare as they were who’s bloodlines were mingled. They would never have the strength to overpower him but would provide protection to the growing village and to Rin.

            They found a Healer to tend to the villagers. Rin found a plot of land where a community garden was grown. A portion grew herbs meant for healing and another for vegetables. She oversaw transplanting of orchards from other areas to the moist grounds by the lake. They were finally harvesting their first fruits from those trees. She spent the majority of her days there planting and growing the food that fed both the village and the house. There was no currency in his village. Rin had not wanted it that way. As long as the villagers shared the burden of the garden they would all benefit from its produce. More tender and delicate meats were hunted by the demons and humans that enjoyed them. He could see it from the far off look in her eyes and the way her hand rubbed her stomach uncomfortably, she still remembered what it felt like to starve and be hungry. “No child should feel hunger,” she had said on more than one occasion.

Rin trained several village women in midwifery. Her two servants were well versed in it. Despite that, when Harutoga was born, she called for Kaede, the Miko and Sango to be by her side. That was the first time he had felt an inkling of her sending for him. Their bond was getting stronger. But lately…he was at a turning point in solidifying his borders. The absences were necessary.

            “Rin,” he dared to hold her hand. “Are you there? My heart, forgive me for leaving you.” It had become a point of contention for them. It was necessary, he just wished she understood that. “Tell this Sesshomaru what happened to you in the grove?” He gazed down at his son who’s hooded eyes. He gave him a bit of a shake to wake him. “Did you eat?”

            “Yuki fed me in the forest,” he rubbed his tired little eyes before resting his head against Sesshomaru’s mokomoko. “She was afraid to go in the boats. She said we would stay hidden until she smelled you or you found us.”

            He nodded quietly knowing that his daughter had done the right thing. Rin, he thought to himself, wake up. Come back to this Sesshomaru.

Chapter Text

One month Earlier

 

            Rin surveyed the horizon. It was painted in golds, pinks, hues of violet and blue. The sun was kissing the world good night. The moon hung high in the sky, just beginning its evening journey. Rin took a moment to take in the home that they now shared compared to the tiny hut she had lived in as a child, and in Kaede’s village. She could fit the entire hut into their bedroom alone and then some. The stone walls were high and ivory. The entry way consisted of a long walkway, regal and fit for a king. That is what he had become, a king in this castle that she lived in. The entrance lead to a greeting area for guests and then a large dining hall. She hated that hall most of all, where she was expected to wine and dine visitors. She was grateful most of them were demons who did not enjoy drinking alcohol, but she was not excited about what they did drink either, or the food that the kitchen staff prepared. They were similar to the tastes of her love which she tolerated but only mildly, raw meats and warmed animal blood.

             Behind the guest bedrooms, large kitchen, and dining hall was the family quarters. There was a large foyer connecting their private garden, their bedroom and the two bedrooms for their children. Yuki and Harutoga were supposed to be in their own rooms, but they insisted on snuggling in Yuki’s room on her soft bedding. Then there were the public and private bath houses. The private one was mostly used by Yuki, Harutoga and Jaken whom Rin insisted live in the same corridor as he had always been part of Rin’s tiny family. There were days Rin felt like the home was too big, but she understood its purpose. “It will exact fear and awe into those that would betray me. It will keep you safe,” Sesshomaru had told her, on more than one occasion.

             Sesshomaru would be returning to her soon. Rin was almost giddy with excitement. The last few trips he had been on were dragging out in time. He kept his promise to never leave her for more than three days, but the last six months, it seemed he needed to be gone more and more frequently than he once had. Some of the borders were rife new demons from other territories, and some of his allies were attempting to betray him. They needed little reminders that Bakusaiga could wipe out a thousand with one stroke. Instead of three-day trips he was gone for days sometimes weeks on end. He sent word through various messengers most often Koga’s wolves as to when he would return. She came to accept it however begrudgingly. The more he was away the less often the barrier was attacked. Their home was no more accepted than Fire Island had been. It was not common or accepted for humans and demons to live together in peace. Although their home gave comfort to Rin’s soul. Yuki and Harutoga were not the only hanyou children. They had friends in the village that were like them to varying degrees. Some had more yokai blood than them, some less. Some families were composed of parents where both were already mixed blood making their children more than hanyous and less than pureblood. It made Rin smile when she found

              Yuki came running up behind Rin and grabbed her hand, “I can smell Chi-chiue.” Yuki was dressed for summer in a short kimono that fell just above her knees. Her feet were bare, and she wore silk and golden bracelets on both of her wrists. They were accented by the stripes on her wrists just above them. The only thing she inherited from Rin was darker skin. She came up to Rin’s chest now. Her golden eyes were up in the clouds looking for signs of her father. Harutoga ran up next to Yuki. The two were often inseparable. The only time Rin could pry Harutoga away from his sister was if his father was home, or when Yuki was in the study with one of her tutors learning to read and write.

               Summer was their favorite time of year. Spring was slowly coming to an end. Every summer they had their bedding moved under the sakura tree spending as much time under its boughs as they had the first week he bonded her.

               Rin squeezed Yuki’s hand, “I only let you stay up because he was returning. So remember, as soon as he comes, it’s dinner and then bed.”

               “No fair,” Harutoga complained, “can we sleep in your bed again tonight?”

               “No,” Rin gave her son a sharp look. “I told you when Chichiue is home, you sleep in your own bed.”

               “No, I sleep in Yuki’s bed.” Harutoga replied defiantly.

               Rin rolled her eyes, “fine.” At least that means he won’t come into our room tonight. Rin’s mind flashed back to the last time that Sesshomaru had returned. The children were both asleep in their own beds for once. Yuki and Haru had gotten into a fight before bed. The little boy decided he didn’t want to sleep with his sister, but that also meant he didn’t sleep the entire night. Instead, Harutoga found his way into his parents’ room while Sesshomaru was in a very precarious position in between Rin’s legs. They claimed they were wrestling but enough of Sesshomaru’s hips and Rin’s thighs were revealed that the child never quite let it go. He then proceeded to tell his sister and Jaken, and Hisato, and every other person that he saw, that Ka-san and Chichiue wrestled naked at night. Rin flushed. She knew she was blushing just remembering that. She covered her eyes as the memory hit her and tried not to laugh. They needed to put a lock on the door that connected the children’s room to theirs, to avoid that again.

                Finally, Rin saw it. A flash of white streaked across the sky then formed as a white sphere of light in front of her. The children immediately released Rin’s hand and ran full force into their father. Yuki crashed into her father’s waist nearly smacking her cheek into his armor followed by Harutoga who wrapped his arms around Sesshomaru’s legs. “Chichiue!” They both cried happily. She knew they missed their father too.

              His eyes were weary. His clothing was blood stained. He had long since abandoned the white Haori and Hikama for the constant staining of blood. He had his own chest in their room with a small assortment of hikama, haoris and a few longer formal and casual kimonos. He held several packages in his hands, the kids jumping on his arms asking if he brought them more presents. They were particularly excited for the treats he usually carried with them. A sweet fruit from some land far away from their home, sweet rice covered in sugar and pieces of candy.

            “What did you bring Chichiue?” Yuki hopped up and down on bare feet.

            “Sesshomaru-sama! Welcome home!” Jaken yelled running up with Nintojo.

            Sesshomaru marched passed Jaken, nearly smashing him in the process. His eyes were on Rin. He took her by the waist and pulled her to him lowering his neck and brushing his lips against hers. The kiss began as a tender greeting, then quickly turned into something more as his tongue darted into her mouth and he tilted her neck back by her hair.

            Rin blushed, nine years together, she knew him for eighteen and he could still make her cheeks burn like a teenager, “welcome home my love.” She held onto the side of his haori as their lips met again.

          “My heart,” he murmured so quietly it was almost inaudible. He lay his forehead against Rin’s taking in her scent.

          “Ewww,” Yuki’s face paled, “why do you two always have to do that? It’s gross. My love, my heart, I’ll never do that with a boy.” Her arms were folded over her little chest. She tapped her bare foot impatiently on the path waiting to get her present.

          “Yuki,” Rin reprimanded her, “welcome your father home. I only heard little children begging for gifts.”

          “Welcome home Chichiue,” they both said together, hands behinds their backs bowing lightly.

            “Can we have our presents now?” Harutoga asked. Harutoga was dressed similar to his sister only in a short sleeved blue haori with goldfish on it and tied low on his waist with a yellow obi. His feet were bare as always. The children did not enjoy wearing shoes, only in the winter when it was too cold not to.

             Sesshomaru suppressed the need to smile with a blank face, “Jaken?”

            “Yes, Sesshomaru-sama?” Jaken was the same little wretch as he always bowing to please Sesshomaru. It was only that one outburst when he first returned to Rin that he showed any backbone, after that Jaken was back to groveling.

             “Is the delegation of Fox demons here?” Sesshomaru barked still holding Rin in his arms.

             “Yes, they are set up in the guest bedrooms.” Jaken responded.

              Rin sighed, another treaty to be made. She wondered what value the kitsune yokai could provide. They weren’t warriors. They were tricksters. She was pulled out of her thoughts by lips crashing down on top of hers again. She gasped for breath half laughing as his rough lips pressed into hers. He pulled back cupping her chin, “you will attend the meal this evening.”

              “The last meal I attended you singed the fur of half the demons in the room,” she reminded him.

               He released his embrace, “you will attend,” he handed her a bulky box. “You will wear this,” he leaned his mouth next to her ear, breath rasping against it as he said so silently he knew even Yuki and Harutoga wouldn’t hear, “and nothing afterwards.”

            “Yes my Lord,” she bowed light heartedly.

            “Sesshomaru-sama, it’s time,” Hisato approached the Dog Lord.

            Sesshomaru growled, squeezed Rin’s hand and then walked into their estate through the public entrance. Rin considered that she should begin lining the servants up to greet him upon his return, but she was still getting the hang of being lady of the manor. She opened the side of the box he had given her. Inside was a heavy blood red kimono with intricate embroidery she would take more time to look at later. This meant that Akari her maidservant would come into her room and do something awful to her hair that would take an hour in the hot springs to soak out.

           Rin hated attending the formal dinners. In public she was supposed to demur to whatever Sesshomaru said. Later she would make him pay for it in private. The children were expected to be in bed, but occasionally they were also washed and dressed to show off his progeny. He made no effort to hide his relationship with Rin or the existence of the village they created. “I need allies,” he said so often it was like a mantra in their home.

          Rin’s eyes followed Sesshomaru’s back. Gone were the days where they were able to go immediately to their room and reconnect. There was always something that needed to be done. Some negotiation, a treaty, meetings. Rin missed the moments they once had. She knew tonight she would put the children to bed and most likely fall asleep in their room to be awoken in the middle of the night with the hands that she knew and loved so well. “Come on, Yuki, Haru, it’s time for bed.” She put on a brave face, but even that was getting harder and harder. She missed him.

            “But he didn’t give us our presents,” Yuki stomped her foot on the ground and held out one of her hands. The tips of her fingers just began misting green.

            Rin caught her wrist and went on her knees to meet her daughter’s cold golden eyes, “if you spray one more thing with that, you will be in so much trouble.”

            Yuki raised an eyebrow and damned if that look wasn’t inherited from her father, “human,” Yuki snarled at her mother.

            “Hanyou,” Rin barked back and grabbed her daughter by the arm, “I’ve slayed ogres bigger than you.” Rin removed her katana from her belt and snapped the whip against the wind right in front of Yuki’s nose, stopping just before it would have hit her delicate and tender face, “you would do well to remember that.”

            Yuki gulped in air. The eyes that mimicked her father’s harshness, now resembled dilated golden suns much more appropriate for an eight-year-old. “This Yuki doesn’t care.” The jangling of the metal bracelets on her shaking wrists betrayed the child’s confidence.

           Harutoga was giggling wildly at his mother’s display of power. “Ka-san look, I can do that too,” he waved one hand in the air. A whip only a few feet long came flying out.

           “Jaken, go get Akari and Atsuko to help me put these two in bed. Tell Akari if Yuki doesn’t behave herself she has my permission to turn her into a ball of fire and dump her in the river. And I’m not even joking,” Rin grabbed Yuki by the arm, took Harutoga’s hand and walked with them to the public entrance and down the winding hallway to the family rooms. Yuki struggled against her mother’s grip batting at her hand.

           “I don’t want to go to bed,” Yuki argued as they made it down the hall.

            “Not this again Yuki,” Rin groaned tugging her daughter along. “Dammit,” Rin cursed. Her wrist freshly grazed from Yuki’s claws. “I’m going to tell Chichiue not to give you any presents,” the mother reminded her daughter, while putting pressure on the fresh cut.

             “Let me see it,” Hisato was ever their shadow. “Don’t make me tie you up again Yuki,” he pulled Rin’s wrist out. “It’s deep this time.”

            “When is not deep?” Rin spat out sarcastically.

            “Shall I call for Sesshomaru-sama?” Akari appeared magically from the kitchens holding a stack of dishes.

            “No. He’ll smell it,” Rin knew his sensitive nose well enough to know he would come when he could to care for the injury. Rin knelt down and opened her hand enough for Yuki to see, “do you see what you did with your carelessness? Didn’t Chichiue teach you that you can’t attack people like this?”

            Yuki turned obstinately to the wall.

            “What’s wrong Yuki? Harutoga go get ready for bed,” she gave her son a push down the hall.

            Yuki bit her thumb claw still avoiding looking at her mother directly.

            “Yuki?” Rin held her by both shoulders and turned the child around to look in her eyes. “Yuki, what’s wrong? Chichiue is home now. He’ll spend time with you in the morning.”

            “I want Chichiue to tuck me in,” Yuki’s eyes let out tiny tears. “He doesn’t tuck me in anymore.”

            “He isn’t free until the middle of the night anymore,” Rin’s heart pinched. She knew, even their children were missing him.

            Like clockwork the door to the corridor slammed open. Rin knew it was only a matter of moments before the smell of her blood wafted into the meeting area where Sesshomaru was discussing an alliance with the Fox demons. But it wasn’t he that came down the hall it was Jaken. Jaken’s mouth dropped, “I’ll go get some bandages.”

            “Is he coming?” Rin asked.

            “He can’t. He wanted me to make sure that you weren’t hurt badly. But he did ask if you needed him to come clean it. Let this Jaken see,” it was a good thing Rin was already kneeling. She was so much taller than he was now it wasn’t like when she was a child. Rin held her wrist out to Jaken. He tsked his teeth and shook his head, “Yuki you know better than to do this to your mother.”

            “Jaken ask him if he would put his children to bed,” Rin winced as bony green fingers went over the cut.

“This is deep.” Jaken repeated Hisato’s words.

            “It usually is when it’s her claws,” not like this is the first time this has happened.

            “I’ll let him know,” he scurried down to one of the supply closets and took out a wad of bandages. He came back and wrapped Rin’s arm.

            Rin took her daughter by the hand and led her back to her room for bed. She dressed her daughter in a bright pink yukata. Harutoga wore just hikama most nights to bed the same as his father. She knelt down tucking them in bed. She flexed her wrist, the bandage was already soaking red.

            “Sorry Ka-san,” Yuki sat up rubbing her eyes.

            “Do you really mean that Yuki?” A tenor voice came from the hallway.

            “Chichiue?” Yuki and Harutoga both smiled at their father.

            He strode into the room and knelt down next to Rin, “give me the wrist,” he pulled the bandage off, “this needs my blood.”

            Rin shook her head, “it’ll be fine.” She insisted.

            His eyes flashed annoyance at Yuki. 

            “Ow,” Rin flinched, “your tongue feels like bamboo shoots,” she slapped the back of her other hand against the floor to distract herself. “I swear you change the texture when you do this,” she wiggled against the marbled floor.

            Sesshomaru had begun lapping at the wound. He paused long enough to say, “this will help it heal faster and the texture allows this Sesshomaru to put more of my saliva in your skin,” he pulled another bandage from his pocket. “I can’t stay.” He wrapped it around Rin’s wrist.

            “Tuck her in please?” Rin asked.

            “Lay down,” he lifted their blankets up and fluffed them out over the two children. He pat both their heads then dragged Rin out of the room with him. “Go prepare, the dinner begins soon.”

            “I hate these dinners,” Rin leaned against the wall kicking it with the ball of her bare foot.

            “So do I. But they are necessary,” he pressed his mouth against hers.

            “So are other things,” she gave a playful tug on his haori.

            “Later,” he nuzzled her nose and then left.

            Rin exhaled glaring at Hisato. It was obvious he had been watching and turned his head at the last moment. “Jealous?”

            “No,” the black haired dog demon answered.

            “Why not?”

            “Perhaps I have someone of my own,” he answered vaguely.

            “Like who? I thought no one wanted your kind?”

            He handed the forgotten box containing the new kimono, “there is someone for everyone Rin-sama. Even someone for my tainted blood,” he said proudly.

            Rin rolled her eyes took the package and went into her room closing the door.


 

             She spent the evening helping to dole out food to the hungry fox delegation that came. Secretly she hoped that Shippo would have come but he was still a child by fox-demon standards, and an orphan, which meant he held little standing. These were the leaders of the tribes that were near Kaede’s village and spent time tricking humans and demon alike. None of them dared to trick Sesshomaru or Rin, and the children. They were warned against trying their tricks on Sesshomaru while in his house. Their leader Hinatamaru-sama was nearly as old as Sesshomaru, small in stature, round around the waist with a jolly face.

 Rin went through the ritual of having a bath before Akari went to work on her hair tying it into intricate knots, placing combs that were crusted in jewels, while pulling it off her face. “I better be able to fight with this hairstyle.” Rin demanded as she sat in front of a mirror.

“You’ll be fine. Why do you think I make the knots so tight?” Akari laughed tugging on her hair. Overtime Rin had become good friends with the hanyou fire cat demon. They shared pots of tea when Rin was unable to sleep at night and discussed their lives. Akari and her husband were one of the first families to come to their haven village. The village that was sure to be a point of contention even with the kitsune demons.

It was not popular or accepted what she and Sesshomaru had done. Not their relationship, their children or the village they created. Which necessitated the barrier that would allow only those that agreed to peace to enter and exit. Therefore, Rin wore her katana at all times in their home unless Sesshomaru was home and they were alone in her bedroom. It was a good thing she did, because almost every time they hosted a delegation she was waylaid by some stupid demon who thought she was the whore of the great Sesshomaru and would end up with a green whip wrapped around their neck and seething in pain on the floor. It happened once with a delegation of bear demons. they were trying to make a treaty. One of them cornered her and as soon as she had it around the neck on the floor Sesshomaru came walked around the corner. He sat back against the wall and Rin couldn’t help but notice the entertainment in his eyes as he watched her torment the wayward bear. Suffice to say the treaty did not happen. They only found out later that it was an assassination attempt against her. A foolish one.

            The evening dragged on. Rin was only able to share glances with Sesshomaru as he spoke in hushed tones with the foxes about their borders, their problems, protection and eventually the conversation turned to Rin as it always did. She sat at the other end of the table with the women, legs folded, hands in her lap as she had been instructed. She wore the blood red kimono, that had golden fire dragons embroidered in snake like patterns along her waist and sleeves. Her obi was golden and tied intricately at her back making it uncomfortable to sit in the high-backed chairs of the dining hall.

            “You took a human?” Hinatamaru asked Sesshomaru, “as a mate? Life mate? Not just a play toy?”

            Sesshomaru’s icy glare came to the green eyes of the lead fox demon, “my personal relationships are not your concern.”

            “It does if it makes us look weak for dealing with you,” the leader retorted. He seemed a jolly demon overall, with a fat belly, and orange hair flying off his back. He was squat in size. Rin wondered if that was all the taller fox demons ever got and if Shippo was cursed to be tiny for the rest of his life. Idiot, wrong yokai to call weak. Rin thought covering her mouth with glee. He was so beautiful when he was angry.

            “Weak?” Jaken grumbled from behind Sesshomaru.

            Sesshomaru stood up and removed Bakusaiga from its sheath. The blade glinted green, smoldering with the rising level of yoki that was choking the dining hall. His eyes were iced over. Rin didn’t envy what was going to happen next. It was most likely to include the all the candles lit to get blown out in an energy waive or furs being singed by near misses. “Would you like a demonstration?” Sesshomaru’s voice boomed and echoed off the halls.

            Rin had to bite her bottom lip, she still enjoyed watching him unleash his full power. His shoulders were broad, his muscles lean and well defined. He did not wear his armor when home knowing that these demons didn’t have the gall to physically challenge him. The plain silks made it easy for her to admire his physique and that led her brain to taking off such garments, knowing what lay beneath. She squirmed in her seat, why did he have to be gone so long? She tried to focus instead on her fingernails or else she would ruin the moment. Intimidation for them meant sexual arousal for her. As soon as he stood up, her brain began imaging him without such formal attire, and the creamy white skin that was beneath those clothes and how it tasted. Rin started fidgeting even more in her chair with the thought of him unrobed ignited that pesky fire between her legs. She wanted to childishly run up to him, grab him by the hand and drag him back to their bedroom and pounce on him. For a moment she caught him staring at her. Kami, him and his sense of smell. She tried to hide her mouth behind her hand and lower her eyes.

            He shifted his gaze from Rin back to the kitsune allowing his yoki to rise near the point of transforming, knowing that it was suffocating the room with its power. The only one that didn’t seem intimidated by his display was Rin.

            “Forgive me for asking Sesshomaru-sama. A necessary evil unfortunately,” Hinatamaru stroked his shaggy orange beard pensively. The green eyes of the head Kitsune glanced back at Rin.

            Great…he smells me too! Rin shook herself feeling the need to get out of the room. She had done her duty, and shown her loyalty to Sesshomaru.

            The Dog Lord returned Bakusaiga to its sheath and sat down. “My relationship with humans is of no consequence to the benefit of the treaty. If you agree to peace, then I will provide protection and support. In return you will inform me of spies in my lands and on occasion other services that I find fitting.”

            Rin grinned like a school girl, “my Lord,” she stood up and straightened her Kimono with fiddling fingers.

            His cheeks were twitching. The icy glaze on his eyes immediately melted when his golden eyes took her in. Sesshomaru’s eyes shadowed Rin throughout the night. He allowed his ears to drown out the babble around him and listened to her for the sole purpose of drinking in her voice. Her seducing scent was wafting through his nostrils, dancing into his mind and clouding his thoughts. She made all of these ridiculous formalities worth it. “Yes?” Again he was repressing a smile. He still needed to look hardened for his allies and his enemies should they forget their place.

            “May I be excused?” Rin wanted to choke on those words, but she had to show the same respect for Sesshomaru in public as any of his servants, not to would make him look weak.

            “Yes,” he placed his hand on his heart. Rin knew what that meant. Unless someone was close to them they would not know that he had just reminded her again, that she was his heart. 

            She gave him a red-faced smile she couldn’t resist and then left the dining hall towards the corridor that lead to the family rooms as quickly as she could. One inu-Yokai guarded that entry. He had a brown mokomoko. He trusted only his own kind with keeping his home safe. The village was guarded by older allies. Rin nodded to them and made her way to her room. When she came to their quarters she stripped off her kimono and threw it in the hallway and then began plucking out all the ties and metals that Akari had placed in her hair. She put her yukata on and ran as fast as she could for the hot springs.

            There was sticky stuff in her hair and paint on her face. She felt like a doll. Rin dunked her head all the way in the hot water that was almost too hot and scrubbed her hair until it was clean and smooth again hanging down to just above the small of her back. Damn this fire, I wish my katana still connected us so he would come. She gazed longingly at the door half tempted to relieve her own fire.

            As if in an answer to her prayers, she heard footsteps in her bedroom. She heard armor and swords hitting the floor. The door opened to the garden and Rin’s eyes lit up. He stalked to Rin, eyes hungry and predatory, “out of the water, now.”

           Rin stood up trying to grab her Yukata and put it on. Sesshomaru grabbed it threw it on the ground and slammed his body into Rin’s. His Haori was already untucked, and open. He picked Rin up around the waist, wrapped her legs around his midsection and carried her back into their bedroom, “I’m hungry,” he lapped at her neck. Chills went down her spine. He felt her hips rocking against his. He purred against her throat.

          Rin moaned, feeling the blaze inside of her intensify, “won’t your guests wonder where you are?” She buried her mouth into his neck. She nipped at his skin leaving teeth-marks the way she knew he enjoyed.

         “This won’t take long,” he plopped Rin onto the bed back first. He stripped his remaining clothes off and found his way between Rin’s legs. “I thought you would never ask to be excused,” he pressed his lips against Rin’s and immediately shot one clawed hand down between her legs. She tensed momentarily as his fingers found her. “Relax my heart, isn’t this what you wanted?” He slid two fingers inside her burning cavern. “You’re so hot and wet for me,” he teased her, knowing the sensuous talk just made her that much more aroused.

           Rin laughed and stroked his hair. She returned his kiss and celebrated the feeling of his fingers exploring her outer lips, stroking her clit, “you’re lucky,” she panted, “oh…uh…I am in the mood right now,” she was gasping for air, “or I would be offended you intend to eat and run.” It was happening so fast she could barely keep up with the sensations. His fingers were already pumping inside of her. She rocked her hips against his hand, feeling knuckles dampening with the heat of her desire. She held onto his shoulders holding them tightly.

            “Run yes, but I will come back for desert,” his mouth found her breasts. Rin arched her back and would have yelped in pleasure if she didn’t want to wake the two children in the other room and have them again asking why their parents were wrestling without their clothes on.

            “I’ll be asleep by then,” she grasped his aching heat in her hand, running her fingers along the thick shaft.

              He growled low in pleasure. “I’ll wake you up,” Sesshomaru laughed as he rolled his mouth down Rin’s stomach until his face breathed in the scent of her soft curls. The heat was calling him. He stopped short of tasting her and cursed, “they’ll be able to smell it.” He was panting. His cream-colored chest was heaving. He pulled from Rin’s grasp, sitting up.

             “No you don’t,” Rin jumped on him knocking him over until she was straddling his lap. Her breasts were pointed and taught. They taunted him with their fullness, and the way they flitted up and down against his bare chest. She thrust her hips against, feeling the tip of his erection brush her sensitive opening. She grabbed his member and firmly stroked it in her hand,  “who cares if they do? Like none of them have ever left a meeting to go be with their wives. I’m burning, don’t make me beg.” She laced his mouth with hers for emphasis, holding his the back of his neck with her free hand while speeding her hand along his erection, until she felt the tip become moist. “You want it too. Now who is wet for me?” She smiled into the next kiss.

             He tried to untangle himself from Rin’s hands but all he could do was fall into them and groan in ecstasy. Rin fell onto her back. Her legs splayed open as she motioned him foreword.

             “Have you missed me so much my heart? Your scent is intoxicating,” Sesshomaru crawled, stalked like the dog-demon he was up her body, “especially here,” he tilted his head down and licked her sweet core. His tongue brushed over her swollen, hungry clit. When he felt hands in his hair he did it again. He nuzzled his nose against her curls, and followed it with long slow kisses beneath her navel, on her stomach, flitting his tongue across one nipple and then the other until he was face to face with Rin. Her eyes said it all. They were big, brown, dilated and begging him to take her. He knew she had not reached her peak yet, but he couldn’t resist the strong urge to be within her. He glanced at her legs, strong and tender then entered her velvet core, sweating and straining with each thrust. She wrapped her legs around his waist pulling him in deeper, driving him mad. With each slow thrust, she groaned into his ear, “oh, oh, uh.” He knew just how to torment her, neither fast or slow, deep and firm, his hips pumped into her thighs. Her hands ran along his roughcast chest, taking in the form of hundreds of years of perfection. He gripped the blankets in his hands and kissed Rin’s mouth, taking in her lips, meeting her tongue with his own. “More,” she whimpered in his ear.

             “Yes,” he reached between her legs, found her growing bud and rolled his thumb against it.

             “Oh,” she rasped into his ear, the cry echoing of the walls.

             “Shhh,” he reminded her increasing the intensity of his hips against hers, “quietly, you’ll wake the children.”

             “Harder my love,” she plead with him.

             He merely shook his head, “slower.”

            He removed his hand from her clit to reach deeper within her. He changed the angle of his thrusting so his body slapped against it as he pumped within her. He carefully lapped at her nipples until they were hard and pointed. He rolled himself onto his back. Rin rocked hard against his hips. She leaned over his face dangling herself in front his starving face. He lapped at her breasts again, pressing her the smaller of her back down against himself. She arched her back once again and in gasping euphoria, they both moaned once more and then collapsed.

             Rin laughed and hugged Sesshomaru’s chest. ”Stay for a few more minutes.”

            He nuzzled her nose, “I have to return. My presence will be missed.”

           “Your presence is missed here,” Rin kissed his lips in a seductive way, “are you sure you don’t want another go?”

            Sesshomaru flashed a rare grin. He chuckled as he pulled Rin into his lap, “mmm, I missed you, my heart” he took in her face. She was aging. She no longer held the glow of a teenager. She was twenty-six now. Her body was strong and defined. He could see lines around her eyes that weren’t there before. He tried not to think that one day she would leave him long before he left her. The thought caused him pain. He rose from their bed morose to leave Rin. He bent over to reclaim his clothes that had been cast onto the floor. Rin followed and aided him in putting on his haori and armor. She tied his obi as he leaned down to drink her lips. “I’ll be back later tonight.” He took her hands in his, “I’ll be home for two weeks this time.”

           “Really?” Rin hugged him once again with such force she nearly scraped her head on his armor.

            “Yes,” he continued to hold her hand not ready to let it go.

            “Good you can help Yuki get control of her yoki before I kill her.” Rin rolled her eyes, suddenly realizing while she had dressed Sesshomaru, she was still completely bare. He bent over and pulled a soft pink yukata from a nearby chest and held out for her to put on. While she was turned away from him, he closed it, and reached around to tie the obi himself. “She’s so angry all the time. I swear she inherited your wonderful temper.”

              He raised an eyebrow at Rin and let a chuckle pass his lips, “I must leave now. You are excused for the rest of the night.” He stole one more deep and steaming kiss before releasing Rin and leaving the room. Rin fell backwards onto their bedding, giggling, mmm…that’s better.


 

             Sesshomaru left the room annoyed to find himself smoothing the front of his haori. That woman. As soon as he stood to dominate the fox demons her smell spiked. He was sure his guests would have caught her scent as well. It was all he could do not to run after her, the way it wafted from her body and up his nose. He finished his demonstration of power and immediately got up and stormed down the hallway. The only thought in his mind to find Rin and release the tense feelings in his lower back and groin. He took a deep cleansing breath, and let her scent drift over him once again before he sauntered backdown the corridor to go entertain the fox demons. He forbid them to even consider playing any pranks while in his home. He found diplomacy a bore. He would rather have either spent more time with Rin and his children or go out in the forest and find things to kill. He shook his head, no wonder his father abandoned the Western Lands. Managing a manor, managing borders was stress inducing and boring. It was all bloodshed, threats, and fear.


 

            When the night finally wound down, the fox demons returned to their guest bedrooms. Sesshomaru stopped to speak to Jaken for a few moments about how to see the guests off in the afternoon with all the pomp and circumstance expected. He had no intention of being part of it. What he wanted in the two weeks that he would spend at home would be to re-bond with Rin and find out why Rin’s scent hinted of worry and fear when she mentioned Yuki’s temper. As he returned Hinatamaru smiled at Sesshomaru with a slight blush to his cheeks, “better?” The kitsune laughed.

            He shot the fox demon a death glare, but yes he felt much, much better now.

             “She is an attractive young woman,” Hinatamaru chuckled. “And very loyal, is she the child that used to follow in your footsteps?”

             Sesshomaru ignored that question. He felt it safer the less personal information was known about her, the less it could be used against them.

             “I’m not surprised,” the Kitsune resumed speaking as a servant poured them wine. Wine had little effect on both of the dai-yokai. “It was said a child tamed your wild heart. I’m not surprised you fell in love with her. Why didn’t you take your father’s lands?”

             “I had no interest in taking something that was won by someone else,” he said honestly. Of course there were personal reasons to choosing this place, but beyond Rin none that served them knew the reason. None knew that this was the place they had been happiest when she was a child, or that underneath the lone sakura tree in their private garden he had made love to her and bound her the first time conceiving their daughter, or that upon the bed in their room in the throes of winter, he allowed himself become feral again to conceive their son. This place to them was sacred.


 

              When he finished and the evening was late, Sesshomaru made his way back to his bedroom. He hoped to spend a decent amount of time without his clothes on in Rin’s arms. He was looking forward to a cleansing soak in the hot springs, and perhaps enticing Rin to wake up and share the evening with him. This was how it almost always went for him. He would spend the late hours working on making allies, while she retired early and fell asleep. He would retire eventually, taking the long walk down the corridor to the private area of their home.

              The hallway to the family quarters was meant to be long on purpose. It was meant to keep those that had no place there out. The entrance was guarded by one of his loyal sentinels. In some small way they were all related to him one way or another. Even Hisato was somehow related to Sesshomaru or so his mother claimed when she recommended him.

               He followed Rin’s scent, letting it wash over him and ignite the fire in his stomach once again. He turned the corner into their bedroom hoping to find her wrapped in the covers. The moon was high and bright, providing the only light into their bedroom. The red and gold blankets on the floor, with the soft mat he had placed underneath to cradle her body was empty. In fact besides the smell of their sex, he could tell that the mat had not been slept in since he left. He went through the door that connected Yuki’s room to theirs and found Rin on the floor next to the children, sleeping soundly. Harutoga had one armed wrapped around Yuki’s stomach, and Rin’s arm was draped over Harutoga. With no one watching, Sesshomaru squatted down, and allowed himself to smile. Isn’t this what every father wanted to come home to?

               He stroked Rin’s shoulder softly, grazing her skin with the tips of his claws, giving her goosebumps, “my heart,” he stroked her cheek.

               Her eyes fluttered. Then she rubbed them and when her gaze found Sesshomaru, she smiled. She reached her hand out to him using his strength to pull herself groggily out of bed. “You know I still have to wake up with them in the morning?” She hugged Sesshomaru, “mmm, my love,” she rest her head against his chest, purposely parting the top of his haori for easier access to his skin.

                “You spoil them sleeping in their bed,” he led her out of the children’s room back into their own. He threw his haori off onto the floor until he was just in his hakama and then led Rin towards the foyer that led to their garden. When they came to their garden Sesshomaru breathed in the night air. He continued to hold her hand. “Come,” he said and took Rin near the hot springs. He removed his hikama, hanging them on a branch of the sakura tree. As he was about to step into the water, he felt two hands behind him give him a good shove and then he was face planting not so gracefully against the water. He heard cackling behind him from Rin. Instead of climbing out of the water, he flew out and landed next to Rin. He grabbed her around the waist and hovered with her over the hot springs.

               “Go ahead,” she dared him, “nine years I finally caught you off guard. I told you I would someday. Now you owe me my prize.”

               His eyes were cold for one moment glaring at her.

               “Oh don’t be so sour. We agreed nine years ago that if I could ever catch you off guard, I would get the prize of my choosing. I’ll make it up to you. You just have to put me down first, preferably next to the hot spring. I already took a bath.” Rin laughed. He had her in a death grip. One hand around her stomach and the other holding both her wrists so she couldn’t escape.

             He hovered for a few moments before soaking wet and completely naked, he floated back to the grass around the rim of the hot springs and let Rin down but did not let her go. “How?”

             “Mmh…well,” Rin grinned, “if you let go of my hands, I’ll show you. You still owe me the prize of my choosing.”

              “That was an underhanded trick,” he shot back at her while releasing her wrists from his grasp. He took her shoulders in his hands and ran his nose from the nape of her neck up to her ears. “You know I let my guard down here. I refuse to admit defeat.” I could drink her scent in the rest of my life and still not be satisfied.

              “I still won,” she bent her neck into his nose. “Now,” she turned around to face Sesshomaru. She touched his cheek softly her countenance changed to concern, “was it really so hard this time? Your eyes are darker than I have seen in a long time.”

            “The borders are restless,” he replied, “and word has gotten out about our village. It is not popular what we have done, creating a safe haven for human-yokai couples. There will be consequences that will most likely end in bloodshed. We may have to make use of the hidden exits in the back of the garden. I will train Yuki and Harutoga in the morning how to find them and avoid detection.”

             “Are you sure you can stay for two weeks then?” Rin lay her cheek against his chest that was glistening in the moonlight, accenting his very perfectly sculpted body. Rin beamed, but not where he could see. She lowered her hand and grasped him and began to slowly stroke him in smooth motions.

            Sesshomaru lowered his mouth to Rin’s neck, a guttural noise coming from his throat, “oh…is this your peace offering?” Entertainment flitted across his eyes.

            “It’s also part of my prize,” she laughed, enjoying the feeling of his heat in her hand.

            Sesshomaru ran his hands down Rin’s arms, over her stomach until he found the tie to her obi, he opened it and slid it off her shoulders, gasping when the silky material flitted across his naked body. He kissed her right shoulder firmly, scraping his teeth lightly over her warm skin before resting his lips against the pulse in her neck, “what prize do you claim, uh,” He had to hold on to her to maintain his posture. His body was full of electricity at her touch.

           Rin turned around to face him, let go of his most sensitive area, and wrapped both arms around his neck. She timidly kissed his mouth, holding him close for several minutes, enjoying the taste of his mouth, the dampness of his skin. “Another child.”

           Instantly he pushed Rin back. His eyes broadened. He held her shoulders almost too tightly, “do not ask me for that.” He needed to get away. The moment they began discussing creating offspring he felt a hurricane forming inside of him. If he could find a cold body of water he would, but he settled for the hot springs and plunked himself in. His shoulders rose several inches just above the rim.

            Rin walked over to sit behind his back and laid her hands timidly on his tense shoulders. “Are you going to tell me why?” She rubbed his shoulders until she saw his head lower, “lean forward so I can move your hair.” He complied. Rin lifted his long silver hair over his shoulder until she could see the back of his neck. She kissed it firmly in the center, then used her knuckles to rub the sides in rigid circles.

           He glared at the flowers on the other side of the spring, desperately wanting to pluck them, slash them, maybe melt them with his claws. Spring would be ending soon, the nights were already becoming warmer. He remained quiet until he felt her hands tangle in the hair above his ears and pull his head back. Her lips found his. He raised one hand to hold her chin and tickled her cheek with his claws. “Don’t ask me for this,” he repeated.

           Rin released his head and then rest her chin on top of Sesshomaru’s head, “why not?”

          “Let it go Rin,” his voice was too quiet.

          “You didn’t hurt me last time,” that was not quite true. She still had scars on her back from that.

           “You’re lying,” he snarled. He took her right hand in his, turned it over and revealed the scar on her wrist. He ran his finger over it, “you wouldn’t let me use my blood to heal it.”

            “You were gone all the time. I couldn’t take the fever, Sesshomaru,” Rin nipped at his ear and nibbled on his neck scraping her teeth on his skin, “is it just that? Or something else?”

             He took a deep breath as he did he felt a sponge on his chest. “Ask me for something else,” he ordered her massaging her hand with his.

            “Nothing else,” Rin told him, “please? Just one more. It would be fun. Yuki and Harutoga are older now. I miss having a baby in the house.”

            “Have you noticed that Yuki doesn’t look older than she did than last year?” Sesshomaru spoke softly. He lifted himself out of the water and sat on the stone edge of the hot springs. The rocks were no longer as rough as they were when they first found this place. The builders smoothed them in order to make them comfortable to sit on. He and Rin had spent many nights together, soaking, loving and just being one in their private garden.

             “I noticed.” Rin reached for a cloth and splashed it into the hot springs, adding soap.

             “The aging will slow down. Her yoki will begin to assert itself more and more. Inuyasha was nearly a hundred before my oath to protect him throughout his childhood ended.” He felt soap and warm water on his back. He took Rin’s hand, “how is it you know this is what I need?” She covered his shoulders in the warm water washing his back and his hips.

             “Nine years together and you are a creature of habit in some ways. I like that I can do this for you,” she leaned over and kissed his cheek. “Turn around so I can wash your chest.” She ran the cloth over his pecs, over his shoulders once again and down his stomach stopping just below his navel, the entire time grinning like a school girl. Rin took more soap and ran it through his silky strands. She took extra care to massage the soap into the hair on top of his head, imagining that she was removing the tension from his body with each circle, “it’s not fair that a man should have such beautiful hair.”

             “I’m not a man.” He let his head fall back into her hands.

            “No. You are my demon lover. Why are you so worried about their aging?” Rin rubbed the sides of head, slow circles over his temples, “I will never see them as adults will I?”

             He shook his head, “no. Unless you live longer than the average human,” his voice was harsh. “When that time comes, I will be grateful that you left me children to remember you by but it will sadden me to continue on alone.”

             Rin wrapped her arms beneath his, around his chest and rest her mouth against his shoulder, “I didn’t think about that. You don’t want to raise another child alone after I die?”

             “I don’t like seeing you in pain,” he pulled Rin’s hands back when he felt her releasing him.

             “I need to rinse your back,” Rin bit his ear lobe, “unless you want to go back to bathing yourself. Sesshomaru promise me that when the time comes and I am gone, you’ll allow yourself to love someone else. Let someone else be your heart.” She took a nearing cup and rinsed the suds off his back. She filled it again and rinsed his chest, “get back in the water, I’ll rinse your hair.”

             He complied enjoying how relaxed she made him feel. He no longer wanted to decimate the flowers on the other side of the hot springs. Her hands held his neck and slowly poured water over the back of his head. “If it took 900 years for me to find you, you think it’s possible I will find someone else in less time? My father was 1,500 years old when he died. There will always be someone stronger and more cunning.”

              “I’ll wait for you when I go,” she closed her eyes against his forehead, “I don’t like talking about this,” Rin admitted ruefully, “but I also don’t like the idea of you not having someone…”

               He touched her cheek softly, “someone like you? It also pains me to think about,” he closed his eyes again trying to push the image of allowing Rin her final death out of his mind. Rin sat up.

              “Can I change your mind?” She nudged him with her shoulder after he sat up.

             “No.”

            “Please?”

             “No.”

             “Sesshomaru why don’t I get a say in this? Just because I’m not going to live forever, it’s not like it works for us like it does for humans. You have to want to give me a child, or else no matter how many times we’re together nothing happens.” She put her hands on her chin and rest her elbows on her knees. And now I’m naked, hot and wet with nowhere to go.

            He didn’t answer her. His eyes were looking at the stars. It was one of his favorite places in the house to sit. The night sky was full of stars like someone had gingerly sprinkled silver dust across a midnight blue blanket. Rin knew that he could stay that way for hours and it was already late. She was sure it was long past the middle of the night. “You know I’ve been reading more about Inu-Yokai since you’ve been getting the scrolls from your father’s old estate for the library that’s being built.”

           “What did you read?” He was glad to change the subject.

            “Let’s see,” she bit down softly on his neck feeling pride when she felt him lean into her teeth, “you prideful, possessive,” she nipped at his shoulder again pleased that she was able to leave a red mark. His skin gave the illusion that it was soft and supple, but it was like biting down on rocks. “Loyal, but I think I knew that one already. Easy to jealousy. Hot headed.”

            “I don’t remember the scrolls saying anything about our heads being hot,” he shot back.

           “Kagome-sama said it means you are quick to anger. Which you are and so is your daughter.”

          “What else?” He was enjoying her nipping at his shoulders until he figured out what she was doing. In that scroll was also how Inu-yokai found their life mates and the bonding and reproduction process in detail, “you’re trying to get me to change,” he pushed Rin off his shoulder.

           Rin folded her arms over her breasts and huffed, “fine, if you won’t, I’m not bound by that pesky bond. I wonder if one of those young strapping fox demon’s in the guest quarters would be willing to impregnate me. I saw one that looked to be of a proper age. We could still be lovers of course,” Rin got up and strode quickly towards their bedroom forgetting her yukata in the process. She made it two steps into the grass before she heard the splash of his body flying out of the water and an livid growl. His arms not only grabbed her but his claws sunk into the skin in her stomach drawing blood that dripped down her hips. “Ow,” Rin whined quietly.

          “You are mine and I will not share you,” his voice was trembling with rage, “lay down. I will give you what you want.” His eyes were blood red, his teeth were sharper. Rin lay down on the grass only for him to paw her over onto her stomach and pick up her backside so she was on all fours. She felt his teeth in her shoulder. His hands raked down her front grazing her nipples and causing her skin to sting. She stroked his ear softly, which calmed him only enough for him to speak, “you should not have said what you just did.” He dug his claws into her shoulder and harshly entered her wet folds from behind. His mind was a blur of red fury. He felt her fingers on the tip of his ear again, stroking it softly, something in the back of his head was trying to remind him to calm himself.

          “Slow down,” she begged him, she touched his face and held it to her cheek, “I wouldn’t have really done it,” she felt him rocking into her hips. She took one of his hands and guided it between her legs, “what we did last time with Haru, it didn’t hurt as much that way.”

          He felt the fog lifting just slightly and he complied, giving her the pleasure she wanted while his teeth tore into her back. He heard her whisper, “slow down, oh that feels good,“ and then he settled with her setting the pace. She pushed back against his hips and then slowly moved them forward, then slowly back. “Like that, mmm, remember?”

           Rin had to keep herself from shrieking. It was never pleasant when he was like this. The first time she had already been too scared to know what to expect. It was her first time with a man in the first place. The second time with Harutoga, Sesshomaru changed at the last minute so when his yoki took over he wasn’t feral for very long and he only managed to scratch her back once. This time she felt his resistance. It would take longer and when he had satisfied his need to reproduce Rin could already tell that she would have new scars to show for it. She read that often there was a fight for dominance which lead to cuts and bruises, instead she learned from trying to conceive Haru that all he needed was gentle guidance, behind the crazed yoki, her gentle Sesshomaru was still there.

           “MMM,” Rin moaned, his hand was still gliding over the front of her lower lips and dancing along her sensitive areas. Her back burned from his claws but she felt the heat shooting through her legs and the intensity of her muscles. She lowered herself onto her elbows, and used one hand to keep his where she wanted it. When she felt his breath hot on her back, Rin turned took that moment to kiss him, fangs and all. She saw the red slowly drain from his eyes until all that was left were two sullen golden orbs.

            “You should not have made me do that,” he collapsed on the grass next to Rin. He touched her back, shocked and dismayed. His fingers came away bloody. He had raked into her skin twice, leaving ten jagged bleeding gashes down her back. Blood dripped from the side of her stomach. He saw teeth marks on her shoulders. He touched the cuts. His heart jerked in sync with Rin’s wincing. “You should not have goaded me on. I could have been more gentle.”

             Rin rolled over trying to suppress the need to cry, “I’m sorry. You’ll thank me, when there is one more person who loves you as much as I do, to be with you when I am long gone.”

            “My heart,” he muttered, “I will not take no for an answer this time, you will take my blood. I will take the children in the morning, and you will sleep off the fever.”

            “Okay,” Rin complied, “but leave this scratch,” she pointed to one on her left shoulder.

            “Why?” It seemed odd to him, heal the rest, but leave one behind.

            “Yuki,” Rin pointed at three claw marks on her right shoulder where he had dug his nails directly into her skin, “Haru,” she moved her hand to one jagged claw mark near the back of her neck, “and this baby I hope,” she pointed at the blood soaked incision he made. “I also like having reminders of you.”

            He picked her up and strode into their bedroom. “Ow,” Rin leaned into his shoulders. Her back was aflame. Sesshomaru kneeled down and helped her laydown on their bedding. Her body was stiff, “ow, maybe that was a bad idea.” Sesshomaru leaned over Rin and slowly licked the long jagged cut she asked him to leave, concentrating a smaller portion of his yoki into the saliva on his tongue.

            “More than a bad idea,” he agreed with her as he let his tongue glide over the last portion of the slash he made in her back.

             “That feels better already,” Rin smiled. She heard him grunt, and then she felt the familiar heat of his blood dropping into her wounds. “You’re gone so often in the last year Sesshomaru. It’s like living with a dream. You never know when it will come.”

            “That is why I am staying longer this time,” he moved to the bite marks on her shoulders, allowing his arm to drip like red wine over shoulders, “I miss you and my allies need to learn to rely on their own strength now and again, not this Sesshomaru’s.”

             “I missed you too, uh…I already feel hot,” Rin touched her forehead and tried to curl into a ball.

             “Stay still,” he demanded, “Do not goad me like that again, playing on my jealousy. I was needlessly rough with you. I could have done worse.” He continued to spread the blood over her back and shoulders. I wanted to do worse. I wanted to kill you.

            “You wouldn’t,” Rin insisted, “you love me too much.” He removed the bandage on her wrist where Yuki had scratched her earlier and let a few droplets fall into the cut.

              He turned her over and growled, “not again! Do not, Rin! I wanted to shred you to pieces until you were broken for even mentioning bedding someone else! Do not take something you have read and use it as a weapon against me! I warned you when I bonded you my jealousy would increase, it’s instinctive to protect what is yours, even if it means protecting them from themselves. You are not a yokai! I am gentle with you because I know how easily I could kill you.” The last drops of blood were dropped onto the scratch mark on her front. He shook his head woefully, “I should remember not to scratch those,” he touched the tip of one of her nipples.

            Rin turned her face to him. She was already beginning to sweat and felt her face flush, “would you be happier if I was youkai? I mean, would it make this all easier? More enjoyable for you.”

           “No,” he lay down next to Rin. The cut in his wrist had already healed, “there is no challenge in ripping someone to pieces. There is a challenge in being with the one you love, and making them as happy as they make you. You are my challenge. My instinct tells me one thing, but the struggle to suppress it, and show my love to you in the ways I know you like, it’s an internal battle, and I win it every time,” he pulled Rin against him and took a deep breath, “the fever is taking over.”

            Rin shivered against Sesshomaru. Her limbs refused to listen to her. She couldn’t even speak for the chattering of her teeth. She closed her eyes and tried to focus on the hand that ran softly over her shoulders. She had to admit, she was a little sore between her legs as well. She wanted to touch her stomach, she hoped that it was already busy making their child. “Are y…y…you…m…mm…mad at…mm…me?” She could barely get the words out.

            In typical fashion he didn’t answer. He rested his head against her burning cheek sighed and held her tightly to him. Still young and reckless. He thought wryly. His hand hit his forehead, and now possibly pregnant.


 

           In the calm shadows of the night, as the sun was just beginning to rise, Sesshomaru was startled out of his own thoughts by the high pitched shriek of Yuki from her bedroom. It was nearly incapacitating to his ears. Instantly he was on his feet, flew to their door and found Yuki standing up with her claws extended. He could smell nothing, nor see anything in the dark room that looked like an intruder. Yuki was shaking and hissing at the long stone carved window.

           “There was something in here with me,“ Yuki jumped when she felt a hand on her wrist. Before she registered who it was she dug her claws into the white hand and released her poison.

           Sesshomaru hissed and moved his arm, “your poison is getting stronger,” he went on one knee and lifted up Yuki’s face to his, “there is nothing in your room. It was just a dream. Return to bed.” He nudged her towards her bedding.

            Yuki shook her head, which made her little silver mane wave against the morning sunlight, “no, Chi-chiue there was something in here. I saw it. It was dark as a shadow.”

          “Did you smell it?” Sesshomaru sniffed the air again and let his eyes flit over their room.

         “No,” she was rubbing her arms nervously, “I could feel it.”

          “If you couldn’t smell it, it was probably a shadow. Now back into bed, you train with me when the sun comes up,” he helped Yuki lay back down slightly annoyed that he had abandoned Rin to her fever for a murderous shadow without a smell.

           “There was something in here Chi-chiue,” Yuki insisted.

            “I would have smelled it,” he reassured her.

            Yuki bit her claw nervously. Her father’s hand covered hers and removed the claw from her mouth, “you just released poison from that claw. Don’t put it in your

mouth.”


 

            Rin slept the remainder of the morning into the afternoon. She was vaguely aware of Sesshomaru waking in the morning and at some point her maid Atsuko coming into the room with a bowl of cold water. Atsuko was a plain woman in her late-twenties, a few years older than Rin. She had two children with a horse demon that reminded Rin fondly of Jinenji. Of course that was because the demon was Jinenji’s uncle. Atsuko lived in the haven village with her family and walked or rode in on a cart like many of their servants each morning to serve the family. In the late afternoon she was replaced by Akari. Atsuko had long black hair she kept tied back in a bun. She wore the colors of the house. Sesshomaru insisted that the servants be distinguishable to avoid someone coming into the house that didn’t belong there. Her kimono was yellow with a red obi. She sat down next to Rin and muttered, “this is why I took a horse-Yokai. Inu-yokai and their claws and need to bite.”

            Rin could feel the cold water washing the blood off her back. It revealed fresh pink healthy skin. “I have a head-ache.” Rin rubbed her head, “what time is it?”

           “Well into the afternoon. I’m almost finished. Akari will be here soon with your lunch. The wounds have healed completely.”

           “His blood does that,” Rin rubbed her eyes and pushed herself off the bedding. Atsuko helped Rin into her clothes. “Is he in meetings now?”

            “Yes, as always,” Atsuko replied, “but he did spend the morning with the children. Yuki was in tears within five minutes.” Atsuko chuckled, “like father like daughter.”

             Rin giggled gleefully, finally had to deal with someone more stubborn than she is, “only he can teach her to control her yoki. Lately she has been so difficult. Thank you Atsuko.” Rin stood up and walked down the hallway. Hisato was standing guard outside the door. He stalked behind Rin as she walked to the family dining area. “I suppose it was too much to hope that we would share a meal together alone,” she complained to Atsuko. “Where are the children?”

            “I’m not sure. Would you like me to find them?” Atsuko said.

            “Yes,” Rin answered, “please have them brought to the family dining area and I will make sure they eat.” Rin glowered at Hisato. She knew he was necessary but having a guard dog was not what she wanted. As soon as Akari brought her lunch Rin ate quietly picking at her food. These days, there was no rush to eat and then go somewhere. She looked at the small room, it was easily an eighth of the size of the large dining hall and the marble table was only big enough for their small family. It was one of the first rooms finished and had a gorgeous window that looked out at the other side of the field of daisies, painted in whites and yellows. I’m bored, Rin thought to herself. She stroked the hilt of her sword, I miss the forest, the leaves and trees, and battle.

            After twenty minutes Atsuko returned with Harutoga and sent him to his mother. The little one climbed into Rin’s lap and happily finished off Rin’s leftovers. Rin ruffled his growing mane and asked, “she did it again?”

            Atsuko nodded, “I can’t find Yuki, I’m sorry.”

           “Should I even bother with you Hisato?” She asked sarcastically, “or am I to assume you lost her scent a while ago.”

Hisato lifted his head up and sniffed the air, he huffed towards the window, opened it to let the warm summer air in and smelled deeply again, then shook his head.

           “Dammit,” Rin slammed her hand down on the table, “come Haru, we must go get Chichiue, unless she told you her hiding place?”

           “No Ka-san. She didn’t,” Haru laughed and jumped off Rin’s lap.

            Rin took an annoyed and short deep breath as she left the dining area. “Now the question is where is Sesshomaru?” Rin’s feet were still bare as they padded towards the public area of the house.

           “I can find him Ka-san!” Harutoga wrinkled his little nose into the air and sniffed it, “he played hide and seek with me today. He hid in the garden and I had to find him using my nose. He said all the great Inu-yokais are good trackers. I found him four times. Except when he hid high in a tree and I couldn’t see him.” 

          “Do you have his scent my Haru?” She shook his hand impatiently.

           “Yes,” Harutoga ran on his short stubby five year legs down the corridor towards the public area of their manor. Rin had to jog to keep up with him, which meant that Hisato who refused to run, was floating in the air quickly behind them with his arms folded across his chest and annoyed look on his face. Harutoga skidded to a stop in front of the meeting area with the door shut tight. There were raised voices on the other side as Jaken came running towards Rin.

           “You can’t bother him right now,” Jaken scolded her. “He’s still negotiating with the fox demons.”

           Rin rolled her eyes and attempted to boot Jaken who jumped out of the way. Well, he’s learning to move. “Tell him to come out now Jaken.” Rin demanded.

          “No. He’s in a meeting. He said he wasn’t to be disturbed by anyone.” Jaken waved Nintojo threateningly. “That includes you.”

           “Listen, urchin!” Rin put her hands on her hips feeling a fire in her stomach and the need to use Nintojo to cook Jaken for dinner, “go in there, now. Tell his royal highness that his daughter is missing and masking her scent…again! And he’s the only one that can find her!”

           “I will not. Sesshomaru-sama will have my head.” Jaken backed away from Rin to the wine red door gripping Nintojo.

            “And I’ll eat your heart for dinner, open the damn door now!” Rin grabbed Nintojo from Jaken and aimed it at his head, “now!”

            Jaken shook nervously. Between Rin’s anger and the wrath he would face for disturbing a meeting about treaties, he was sure his life was in short supply. “Sesshomaru-sama should not be disturbed.”

           “One,” Rin counted.

           “He said no one was to enter until the meeting was finished. Once it’s done and this is over, he will be free all evening. He can look then!” Jaken jumped missing a quick burst from Nintojo that was aimed for his lizard-like feet.

           “Two,” Rin flared her nostrils at him. “Tell him, it’s his own fault for teaching her that trick! Now no one can find her when she runs off!” She blasted Jaken with a ball of fire.

             The door slammed open making Rin jump. She nearly drop the staff on top of Harutoga’s head. Sesshomaru’s icy glare went straight to Jaken. As his gaze tracked to Rin, his eyes eased vaguely, only to go ice cold when he saw Hisato.

            Rin threw Nintojo at Jaken and folded her arms beneath her breasts, “your daughter is missing again.”

           Sesshomaru tried not to let his cheeks twitch into a smile, “I see,” he acknowledged as he shut the door behind him. “I will find her when the meeting concludes. If she doesn’t get hungry and come home before then.”

           Rin huffed and rolled her eyes.

           Sesshomaru strode close to her and took her by the arm leading her roughly to another nearing room that was empty. “Harutoga, stay with Jaken for a moment,” he said before he pulled Rin into the room. His grip was tight enough to make Rin yelp in pain. He slammed the door behind them. “I have told you before not to disturb me when I am in a meeting and not to dishonor me in front of guests or Hisato.” Sesshomaru’s voice was coarse and indignant.

          Rin attempted to pull her arm free only to wince in pain again, “I was worried about our daughter. I told you I would not play the part of your lady in waiting! Sesshomaru let go of my arm!”

          “This is not a game Rin. My actions ensure your safety, ensure that our children are safe, that we don’t have to face another Touma with a vendetta! When you disrespect me in public, particularly to yokai with hearing as acute as my own, you make me look weak!”

           “Just find Yuki! Now please! How long will it take you? Thank you,” Rin held her arm above the elbow where he had gripped her so fiercely and rubbed the sore skin. “You hurt my arm.”

           Sesshomaru clinched his hands into a fist. His temper was on edge, “first you goad me into impregnating you and now you refuse to acknowledge the lack of respect you just showed me! Is there something more upsetting you that is making you behave like you are eight years old again?” He paused for a moment, “no, I wish you were eight years old again, because eight year old Rin would never have been as dishonorable as you are being now!”

            “Yeah well eight year old Rin worshipped the ground you walked on and didn’t have a brain of her own! Twenty-six year old Rin is getting tired of playing matron of the house and wants to know where her eight year old, temper flaring hanyou daughter is before she kills someone or something with her claws! Kami, you are ridiculous! You know what? Forget about it! I’ll just assume she’s safe wandering around out there by herself and so is everyone else! It’s not like you’ve been home enough to see what has been happening here!” Rin stormed past him intentionally attempting to push him out of the way as she reached the door.

           His hand slammed the door shut and held it closed. His claws dug twisted lines into the frame of the wood, “we are not done, Rin,” Sesshomaru’s voice was agitated and gruff.

            “Yes we are, Sesshomaru. Now move before I hurt you.” Rin’s hand shot to her katana.

             “I tell you I am coming home for two weeks, when the timing is amiss and this is what you do with my time and honor?” Sesshomaru’s eyes were numbing.

            Rin let out an exasperated shriek and lowered her eyes, “perhaps you are right I’m sorry.”

           “You’re lying. You are just trying to end this conversation.” No I can’t kill her, but if she were anyone else she would be dead on the floor. His lips trembled in anger at the insult Rin had doled to his pride.

           “Then stop smelling me and let me leave the room!” Rin tried to pry the door open, it refused to give against his arm.

            “Not until you tell me what is really wrong,” Sesshomaru used his other hand to hold Rin’s chin, “what have I done to you to make you so angry that you would humiliate me so in public?”

            “Nothing,” she mumbled, her stomach tightened. She blinked her eyelids profusely striving to stop the inevitable waterfall that was about to pour from them.

            He felt a hot tear trace a path down his fingers. Then more followed like a river of raging water. “Nothing and yet you cry?” He released the door and pulled Rin to his chest, “Rin?” Sesshomaru took one of her hands and looped it around his chest and then the other. He brushed her hair from her eyes and tasted her salty lips, “and yet you cry?”

            “Nothing, that’s the problem. You haven’t seen what she has been like, she has hurt children in the village, attacked Hisato. Jaken was nearly clawed to death. I’m scared, Sesshomaru. Why did you teach her this trick? It means no one can find her but you!” She held on to him and breathed in his smell. He always smelled like trees and fresh morning air to her but mostly he was her home. The walls around her meant nothing without him.

            “To save her life if our home is ever attacked. She knows to take Harutoga and mask both of their scents using her yoki and either hide and return when she smells my scent or escape down the river until I find her. It’s for their protection. I will not lie complacent under the belief that all are among us are trustworthy. A time may come where the escape routes we made will be necessary. She will be fine. Like the human female, Yuki’s experiencing changes in her body and her yoki, yoki from this Sesshomaru is overwhelming her. All will be well. I will take care of Yuki and her lack of self-control. After this meeting, I will be free the rest of the evening and I want to spend my evening with you and the children.” He kept his arms tightly wound around her small figure.

            “I’m sorry,” Rin breathed into his ear, “I will try to remember your honor next time. I won’t use your jealously like I did last night again.”

            “My heart,” he nuzzled her nose, “I once promised you to speak mine. You must also remember to speak yours.”

            “I missed you so much. I hate being away from you and I hate that being away from you makes me feel like this.” She kept her face buried between his shoulder and chin. Her lips brushing the hot skin of his neck.

            “Feel like what?”

             “Empty.” She wiped her nose. “I’m so empty.”

              “Then I will spend the next two weeks filling you,” he slid his lips across hers one more time and spent another minute holding her. “And you want another child? When Yuki can reduce you to tears.”

             “Shut up,” Rin tried to laugh and slap the tears from her face, “there is nothing rational about wanting children.”

            Sesshomaru kissed Rin’s tear stained cheeks. He took a moment to slowly, and firmly touch his lips to Rin’s, using his thumb to tease open her mouth and meet her tongue with his. It ended too soon as he simply lay his forehead against hers, “I must return.”

            “I know,” Rin’s tears had not stopped.

           “Come out when your face is clean. You can’t appear weak either,” he wiped her eyes. “To answer if I was mad at you last night. I was angrier with myself for hurting you so. If my father were alive I would ask him how to control myself better. It’s beneath this Sesshomaru to behave so.” He kissed her one last time on the forehead before walking out of the room and leaving Rin to collect herself.

              After he left Rin crumpled to her knees and continued her tears. I’m so miserable here.

Chapter Text

            She stirred lightly once the room became quiet. Her hands shook in her sleep. Her eyes fluttered. She cried, the tears quickly turning into sobs as her eyes took him in. Harutoga still sat curled in his lap mostly asleep. Sesshomaru didn’t move from his place next to her. He had been sitting by her side, holding Harutoga in one hand and caressing Rin’s shoulder with the other. As she rolled over, her voice pitched again screaming. The high note caused Harutoga flop off his father’s lap and cover his ears. Sesshomaru didn’t move. He sat perfectly still. She was rambling again, incoherent sentences, as if not only memory escaped her but words did too. “What’s wrong with her?” Harutoga held onto his father’s hand. “Why doesn’t she know us?”

            “I don’t know,” Sesshomaru pulled his son carefully back into his lap. “Do not move.”

            “Why not?” The little boy wondered.

            “She must know we are safe,” he spoke with golden eyes focused on his fearful mate. “If we move to her, she will be even more scared.”

            She cowered in the corner between the turquoise and silver door. “Please don’t hurt me….please don’t hurt me….don’t hurt me….don’t hurt me…” she sobbed quietly almost to herself.

            “She must be hungry,” the little one pulled on his father’s mokomoko.

            The word hungry caught her attention. Her head shot up. Her eyes stared at the wall, “food?” Her voice was child-like timid.

            “Would you like something to eat?” Sesshomaru asked her. He lifted Harutoga off his lap and motioned for his son to stay still on the bed. Rin always kept chocolate in their room. He tried it once and spent the next week regretting it. Oddly it made him feel like he was going to throw up, not a feeling that was familiar to him. He had never been ill in his life. Poisoned a few times, but not sick like a human. His movements were deliberate and slow, always with an eye behind him. Her cringing continued. What’s wrong? Why can’t you remember? He rifled through one of Rin’s chests and pulled out a brown wrapper that had half a chocolate bar left in it. A gift from Kagome. She sent chocolate to Rin often. So often that they usually visited his brother once a month, so she could pick it up and bring it home. He turned around unsure how to approach her. There was nowhere left for her to go. Not unless she opened one of the doors and fled.

            He sat back down on the bed with the bar of chocolate. He peeled the rest of the wrapper off, and held it out to her. “It’s chocolate.”

            Her eyes came out of her wild hair long enough to shake her head. Her hands ran along the walls as if she was searching for a way to escape a prison cell. “Help,” she muttered under her breath, “out…want out…”

            “Food,” his inflection turned icier than he meant it to. He sat up enough to put the chocolate bar down by her feet. “Eat.”

            Terrified brown eyes watched the demon on the bed, with the smaller demon in his lap. Even he could hear her stomach growling. Her hand scampered across the floor, grabbed the chocolate and ate it fast enough he knew that she would be sick. “More…” she spun around rocking back and forth by the wall.

            “I can get more from the kitchen,” that wasn’t true, but he could get something that wouldn’t upset her stomach. “Do not move,” he set Harutoga down on their bed again. He stood up, the movement alone had her shrinking into the wall. He ignored it and strode to the door. Opening it was his first mistake. She bolted as soon as the opening was wide enough for her body to fit through. “Dammit,” he ran after her.

            Akari sat in the hallway tossing fireballs, Rin screamed. Jaken sat next to her spinning Nintojo like a top, she puked the chocolate she just ate up. Hideyoshi came in through the private entrance, silver hair and golden eyes fixed on Rin. She fell backwards nearly slamming the back of her head into the floor. Sesshomaru caught her. The ramblings returned. He had only tried this one other time but was willing to risk it to make Rin sleep again. He covered her mouth in one hand and let a thin mist of dokkasu enter her mouth. It wasn’t enough to cause harm, but it did what he had hoped. She became limp in his arms. “Bring her food Akari.”

            “What the hell is going on?” Akari demanded, then immediately demurred, “Sesshomaru-sama forgive me,” she bowed. “What’s wrong with her? There are rumors circulating that you are keeping her locked in her room.”

            He bit his tongue and flexed his wrists to keep from slamming the fire-cat against the wall. “Where is Atsuko?”

            “We sent someone to get her. She is probably putting her children in bed,” Jaken rose off the ground. “She doesn’t remember us?” Of course Jaken would include himself as one of the important people that she should remember. He had after all raised her from when she was a child.

            “No,” he held her bridal style and carried her back into his room. “Get off the bed Harutoga,” he said roughly to his son.

            The hurt registered in the eyes of the little boy. His face fell. His eyes watered. “I’ll go,” his shoulders slumped.

            “Stay,” his father caught his hand after tucking Rin back in. He pulled the child back into his lap. It was his son’s brown eye that captured his attention. What happened? He ran his fingers through Harutoga’s hair soothingly, knowing that his rough speech had hurt his son’s feelings.

            “Sesshomaru-sama, you’re supposed to leave in the morning,” Jaken said quietly from the hall.

            “I’m not leaving,” the dog-demon answered. “I will not leave her like this.”

            “What should I do? If you don’t return to the southern border it will fall. The treaty with the East? What if this isn’t?” Jaken faded before adding the last word.

            “Temporary?” Sesshomaru set his forehead against one of his fists. He lost himself in thought for several minutes. “Send to Koga. Ask him to send a contingent to reinforce the southern border. As for the East, if she has not recovered in a week, send a message requesting a change of location for the meeting.”

            “Where?” Jaken pressed knowing he was testing his Lord’s patience.

            “Not here,” it would be too risky. He couldn’t let word get out about Rin’s condition. He closed his eyes racking his brain for the correct answer. “Kaede’s village.”

            “A…a…human village?”

            “By goshinboku,” he steadily ran his claws down the black hair that was intermingled with the silver hair of his son.

            “This won’t be insulting for them?” Jaken cringed.

            “It matters not if it is,” he pressed the back of his head against the wall. Nothing matters.  “Shut the door Jaken,” he demanded waiting to hear the wood scrape against the marble walls. What happened?


 

            Sesshomaru sat cross legged next to her bed. It no longer felt like their bed. He couldn’t bring himself to lay down next to Rin again for fear of her waking up terrified because of his presence. Harutoga fell asleep in his lap as Sesshomaru absentmindedly stroked the child’s hair. Three hours later and Rin still had not woken up again. Her aroma was unchanged. Sesshomaru pondered her fear. Fear had a sharp smell, like peppers left in the sunlight for too long mixed with snow and sweat. Rin’s scent reflected that smell only when she was a child. He couldn’t remember the last time her savor had been like this. But then again, she wasn’t behaving as herself.

           The Healer, a serrow demon, who wore plain dark clothing, a haori of brown and hikama of black with a grey cloak over it, tended to Rin. His face was pointed and his fur grey. He hovered over her sniffing her, checking her head and fingers, inspecting the cuts on her back that were replaced with clean skin.  He cradled Rin’s head in his hooved like fingers, turning her head to the right and left. He muttered to himself. “You said she had no memory?” He shook his head back and forth which waggled his black beard and made the horns on the top of his head brush the air. He was slightly shorter than Sesshomaru. He walked on cloven hooved feet.

          “None,” Sesshomaru grumbled stifling a growl that lay deep within his throat. It was almost dark outside. The days were getting longer and summer months coming. He hefted Harutoga up and took the child to Yuki’s room. Sesshomaru set him down on their soft pink bedding, knowing that if he put Harutoga in his own room, he would go to Yuki in the middle of the night. Sesshomaru stroked the black fur on his son’s head. The streak always reminded him of Rin’s hair.

         “Has she regained consciousness since then?” The goat-like face asked Sesshomaru.

          “No,” Sesshomaru huffed from the children’s room as heavy footed he walked back in to what had been their room, but no longer felt as if it was. The room was getting dark. His Rin lay in a crumpled mess in her bed. He thought to himself. I no longer have a place next to her, my heart. Sesshomaru touched the tree-like scar on his chest, rubbing it firmly as if to snap himself out of the depression he felt. It hurt. Pin pricks and needles flitting across the scarred skin. I won’t lose my bond to her a second time.

          “Perhaps there was more damage to her head? I told you, your blood was too strong for her,” Torikku touched Rin’s forehead. “I don’t have medicine that can fix this. I’m sorry Sesshomaru-sama.” Torikku bowed his head and crossed his hands. “The only thing we can do is wait.”

          “Leave,” Sesshomaru commanded. I’ve used my blood on her before. It never ended like this. Torikku skulked from the room as Sesshomaru requested. Sesshomaru slumped against the wall once again. His eyes tracking Rin’s breathing. He slid down into a sitting position, golden spheres focusing on her. No sooner did Torikku leave then Hisato knocked on the door. “Enter,” Sesshomaru spoke wearily.

          The black haired dog demon’s eyes were downcast.

          “You can’t find her?” Sesshomaru snorted, annoyed and forlorn, “stay out of this room. Tell Akari to stay out. Is Atsuko here?”

          “I saw her in the hallway,” Hisato knelt down near Rin.

          “Get away from her,” Sesshomaru grabbed the demon by the wrist and pulled him back.

          “Sesshomaru-sama?” Hisato asked confused at the silver haired demon’s reaction.

          “Yokai scare her. You can smell it as I can. She is still afraid. Atsuko is a human. Tell her to mention nothing of her yokai husband, or hanyou children. I will go find Yuki. No one hanyou or yokai enters.” Sesshomaru’s heart was even heavier than his feet as he walked out into the garden. He breathed the night air, full of daisies, the sulfur from the hot spring and the sweet smell of sakura tree. I was gone too long again. I’m such a fool. He couldn’t smell Yuki but the foolish child always left bits of herself behind that most wouldn’t look for, broken branches, claw marks, traces of dokkasu as she sprayed trees and flowers along her path. For one who knew what to look for, he would find her swiftly.


          The shadow was euphoric to see that his prey was finally alone again. The broken woman wrapped in blankets shivered in fear in her sleep. Yet it was not enough, not yet. There was a method to these things. He slinked into the room silently, blending in with the casts of black on the walls and floors. A nothing in the still room. He weaved a path from the open door, to the marbled floor, sure that the dog-demon in the hallway could not sense him. He slid under the covers next to the quivering female tracing a symbol along her forehead. Ones like she, were easy to manipulate.

        “Who’s in here?” The little boy came inside the room rubbing his eyes. “Hisato-san? My head,” he crouched on the ground as the orange fire-like eyes of the shadow bore down on him. “My head!” He shrieked in pain.

        The shadow intensified his gaze until the child lost consciousness. He picked the boy up and slithered him back to his bed. Two fingers pressed against the boy’s forehead encouraging him to sleep, to forget. To dream.


 

         Hisato heard the shriek of the child from the hallway. He opened the door from the hallway, only to find Harutoga sweating in his sleep. What is going on here? He removed himself to the hallway, “wake him Akari. He is having a nightmare.”

         “You could do it yourself,” the hanyou fire cat stalked to the room annoyed.

        “I’m not the caregiver for the child. I’m tasked with guarding her. I cannot do that if I am playing baby sitter,” he cracked the door to the bedroom and leaned against the wall.

        “You’d be of more use in the forest then,” Akari knelt by the sleeping boy.

         “He is in the forest. I feel sorry for whatever foul creature meets the other end of his claws,” Hisato trained his ears into the room. Rin was still in a fit of nightmares herself. “My place is here.”


 

          Yuki sat by the river her head resting on her knees, tears staining her still small face. She listened to the rushing of the water and gazed on as it bubbled next to the large boulders. Only a few feet away underneath some brush, boats were tied to the shore, ready in case the need should ever come. She closed her sad and tired golden eyes. She was hungry. She wanted to go home, but not before she could remember. She closed her eyes, trying to recall the two days before. She was playing with Harutoga in the village with some friends. There was hissing and screaming. Green things flew into the village. She threw her brother on her back and fled. She held him tightly so he wouldn’t fall. She slashed into something slithering and red that tried to wrap itself around them with her poison claws. She felt pride in herself that she neither froze or fell victim to whatever it was. Yuki fled towards home just as Hideyoshi landed next to her. She heard something about the barrier falling.  Hideyoshi grabbed her around the waist and flew her back to her home. He landed by the public entrance and in the hysteria, she ran with Harutoga searching for her mother.

        Yuki found her mother in the garden. Ka-san was yelling at Hisato, “get the hell out of here and protect the village!” Yuki had never seen her mother like that before. Ka-san had a tight grip on her katana. Yuki knew how special the katana was. It smelled like Chichiue.

       “I will not leave you,” Hisato gripped her mother by the arm angrily. His eyes were red around the edges.

       “Hisato I can take care of myself! Go now. There aren’t enough sentinels to protect it. Go!” She flicked her wrist, activating the snake-like whip from the end of her katana at Hisato’s head. The guard released her arm, then dodged the blow. “I’ll take your head off next. Do as I say. Yuki, Haru, come with me. The boats in the back of the forest,” she snatched Yuki’s hand. “Let’s go. Quickly.”

         They ran together into the garden, past the sakura tree and the hot springs, and daisies that were beyond. Yuki could only recall making it to the zenith of the forest and then the pain came once again on her left temple. They ran into the garden and then everything stopped, all Yuki saw was darkness. Yuki hung her head, trying to fight the searing fire scorching her temple. Some of the demons made it to the house, but all Yuki could recall was waking up with Harutoga deep in the forest. She looked at her wrists. One of her silk bracelets was missing. It was her favorite red one that Chi-chiue brought back for her after one of his long journeys. Yuki sniffed her claws, the smell of the one she slew was missing. In its place had been a strange smelling soap. She woke up by herself with Haru. He was terrified. He had a bruise on his head that healed quickly. They were near the boats. She was too afraid to leave the forest without her mother. So she ran to the grove where she found her mother’s blood. Haru cried. She kept him hidden. She spent the days hunting. At night they slept in the trees until she smelled Chichue. Why can’t I remember? She beat her temples.

          “Yuki,” a deep voice boomed from behind her.

          She jolted and turned to face her father, “yes?” She tried wiping her eyes. She had to be strong. Didn’t she? Chi-chiue looked angry at her. His silver hair glided to the side in the gentle breeze. Yuki had the same eyes as her father, but his looked apathetic and tired.

           “Come,” he told her and held out his hand.

           Yuki faced the river. “No,” she answered, “go away.” Bubbling water, that was all she wanted to see. The swirling eddies, the crash of water against rock, the hiss of the powerful river.

           Chichiue snarled, “now,” his voice plunged shallow and harsh. She heard his footsteps approaching her.

          A hand grabbed hold of her arm and heaved her up against her father’s stomach. She felt like a sack of potatoes being tossed around. Yuki dug her claws into her father’s wrist and sprayed her poison. To her shock, Chichiue twisted his wrists around and dipped his claws into her skin covering her wrist in green mist of his own. She shrieked in pain recoiling her arm. “Ow!!”

       “It’s time you learn how powerful dokkasu really is. You will not do that again,” he rose into the air with Yuki kicking and screaming and slashing at his clothes.

        “You weren’t here! You didn’t protect us! It’s all your fault!” Yuki sobbed, “it’s your fault and I hate you!” His hands wrapped around her wrists pinning them against her stomach. She fought against his grip, lifting her legs to slice into his hakama with her toe claws only for him to firmly kick her legs out of the way.

        “Human outbursts,” Sesshomaru bit back at her. “It was inevitable.” But she’s right, had I been here, Rin would not have fled alone into the forest alone.

       “I’m not human,” she pouted. “Why can’t I fly?” She resolved herself to her situation knowing that her father would not let her go. She ceased trying to scratch him and allowed him to carry her. Yuki slumped in his arm and growled softly in her throat.

        When he felt her resolve end, Sesshomaru liberated her wrists. “You are not yokai,” he brushed leaves out of her hair as they landed together in the garden. “It’s time for dinner.” He strode towards his bedroom.

         "Then what am I?” Yuki rubbed her wrist where her skin bubbled from her father’s dokkasu. “You hurt me.”

          “You hurt me,” he repeated and held out his own wrist that was red and blistered with ten small claw marks. “You will heal by tomorrow. You are my daughter Yuki. Do not forget it. Wait,” he grabbed Yuki by the arm. Inside he saw that Rin was sitting up rubbing her eyes. He tasted the air with his nose, she was afraid still.

          “I want to see Ka-san,” Yuki struggled against his grip, I want my ka-san.

          “No,” he commanded her and flew back into the air to the private entrance in the back of their home. He took Yuki by the hand and lead her into the hallway where he found Jaken still waiting by the door. “Take Yuki to dinner. Then put her in bed.”

          As soon as he relinquished his grip on Yuki’s arm, she bolted for her parents door, ignoring her father’s warnings calling after her. “Yuki don’t go in there!”

         Yuki had a head start on Sesshomaru, giving her enough time to make it into the room before he could stop her.


 

 Rin’s POV

 

A white dog, larger than she had ever seen, with hair flowing off its neck and red angry eyes chased her through a field of flowers. Deadly poison dripped from its large fangs. It strode towards her, snarling, angry, raging. It opened its mouth, and all she could see was the purple moon on its forehead coming at her, ready to swallow her whole. He was going to kill her. Her body would be in pieces. She shook in fear. She tried to scoot away. It parted it’s wet lips, baring angry teeth ready to swallow her. The teeth sunk into her flesh, tearing, ravishing. Blood dripped down her shoulders. She screamed in pain. She begged for him to stop. The dog laughed. The dog raged. It luminesced into a human form, with pointed ears, a moon on its forehead, stripes on its cheeks and fangs. It stalked her, circling her prey.

            She jolted awake, her hands trembling. Her eyes searched for the rabid white dog that wanted to kill her. There was something familiar about its anger, it’s hatred, the need for it to consume. She tried to understand where she was. Her head still ached, especially on the left side. The room was dark, the sun set, the sheets were the same as before, gold on the bottom and wine red on the top. They were cotton and soft as silk against her skin. She looked at her clothes and didn’t recognize them, a lavender yukata, tied loosely around her waist. She touched her hair, even the feel of it, downy, and wavy felt strange and foreign against her fingers. She stood up slowly. Her stomach felt hollow. Her mind was shocked out of taking in her surroundings when the door burst open. One of the little things came flying into the room and wrapped small clawed hands around her waist. She screamed, “no…no…no…go!”

            “Ka-san!” The little thing cried. It looked like a girl, with pointed ears like a cat on the top of her head, “Ka-san don’t you know me?” Tiny golden spheres begged her to recognize the thing gripping her waist.

            All she could do is shriek in terror.

           “Yuki,” there was a livid bark from the hallway. Then he was there with the same purple moon that was on the dog chasing her in her dreams. The same man that was haunting her. He grabbed the child around the shoulders and unhooked her arms from her waist. She backed away from the tall thing. The one with stripes on his cheeks. The one with fangs, one of his arms was covered in red blisters and scabbed. She felt faint again. Her head seared in agony, “who…who…” she dropped to her knees in the middle of the floor. Her hands slammed against the stone flooring jolting her wrists and sending shockwaves of pain up her arms into her spine.

          “Keep her outside,” the voice was raging, “you cannot go into that room.”

          “I want my ka-san!” The little thing wailed. She could hear the sorrow in its voice.

          “Ka-san?” She asked herself, does that thing mean me?

           He came back into the room proudly yet with timid steps. She noticed he kept his distance. His eyes were gold, like the color of jewelry that rich people wore. He didn’t approach her this time. He had more clothes on than before, white hakama, blue haori, yellow obi, with two swords tied to his waist. His ears were still pointed but not like the little thing that had grabbed her. They were on the sides of his head like a human. Something about his aura made her skin crawl. He wasn’t human. His hands, her eyes ran over them, hands, striped, striped purple, like the setting sun, claws. Why can’t I remember anything? She held on to the left side of her head as tiny needles ignited against her skull.

          He took one step towards her. She couldn’t speak. She backed against the wall, crawling like a scared cat. Her body shook of its own accord. She couldn’t breathe, “no…no…no…no…h…hurt.” Her voice came out in cat-like shrieks, like a petrified child. She wanted to void herself, but it would be too embarrassing. She collapsed on the ground and curled her legs into her chest afraid to look at the demon whose eyes were penetrating.

         “I would never hurt you,” it surveyed her. The gold, like flax in springtime seemed strange and out of place. He remained against the back wall, “no harm will come to you here. You’re safe in my home.” The voice seemed tender, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the moon on his forehead. Afraid, Afraid…it was like the one in her dream, was he the big dog? Was he going to kill her?

         “No…hurt…no…hurt….no…hurt,” the tears were coming again, her cheeks were burning.

          When he moved she jerked closer to the wall wanting to hug it tight, melt into it, disappear as if she didn’t exist. “No…know...you,” she rocked against the wall, “No…no…who? Help…help…help…” her voice broke in helplessness as she hung her head. “help…help…help!” She rocked back and forth against the wall.

          A woman entered the room with a placid face. Her long hair was tied back in a tight pony tail. She wore a red and gold kimono. She bowed to the thing standing against the wall. The woman was not very slender. She knelt down in front of her, “it’s okay. Are you hungry?”

         “No…hurt,” she choked the words out of a throat that felt like it was burning.

          “What should I do Sesshomaru-sama?” The woman asked the thing.

          “Tend to her. Get her food, something to drink,” he said bitterly.

           Why is he so sad? For one who was so fierce, the sadness behind his eyes resonated with her.

           The woman bowed again to the thing and left the room.


 

           Sesshomaru’s heart was fracturing, if he didn’t stop it, it would break down to the bond that held him to Rin. She looked like a horror stricken child, more scared than he had ever seen her in her entire life, cowering against the white stone wall, trying to hide herself from his gaze. If he didn’t love his daughter, he would crush Yuki. He was trying to avoid this. He would have sent in her human servant to care for her. Something wet fell from one of his eyes. He touched it briefly before flicking it from his cheek. I do not cry, he reminded himself. He moved to leave the room, to leave Rin, allow her to continue to cower against the wall. The movement alone brought her into a heavy defeated, almost hysterical sobbing. He left, finding Atsuko waiting by the door with a bowl of food and a bottle of water. Hisato was against the far wall. Hisato’s eyes were heavy and tired.

            “Tend to her needs, do not allow the children to see her,” Sesshomaru demanded. He was losing control over the tenor of his voice, “Hisato follow me to my study.” He strode quickly down the hall and opened the door. He collapsed into the chair behind the desk, “answers, now! What happened to Rin?”

            Hisato paled. His scent spiked. Sesshomaru was tired of smelling fear, “I don’t know. I went back to the grove of trees where I found her. There are signs of a battle, broken trees, collapsed wood, burn marks on the leaves and flowers, but I only smelled Rin. I found no footprints. No paw prints. Nothing that would lead me to know what attacked her in the forest. No sign that the children were with her when it happened.”

           That doesn’t make sense. Sesshomaru closed his eyes imagining Rin fighting off some monster that had managed to overpower her. He knew Hisato was right. She was far from helpless. She had been training longer than even he was aware of. His mind tracked back to their days in this place, before a home was built. Rin was a powerful force.


 

           She was finally walking again. That damn injury had her on her barely able to stand for two weeks. She was finally walking with the help of a large stick. At first she had commandeered Nintojo until Jaken carved something for her to support herself. “You’re going to wear yourself out,” Jaken whined at her as she traipsed through the weeds.

           “Stop worrying Jaken,” Rin rolled her eyes. “I have to get my stamina back. How will I defend myself?”

           “You don’t need to with Sesshomaru-sama around,” Jaken reminded her.

          “Shit,” Rin’s foot got trapped in an old brittle log, that broke as her it stepped on top of it. She shook her foot trying to get loose, lost her balance and was caught by her lover.

          Sesshomaru bent over and pulled her foot loose.

         “Why are you so quiet!” She shrieked at him hitting his shoulder. “Don’t help me!”

         “You are angry today,” Sesshomaru finally spoke. He had been quiet the entire time.

         “I’m angry because you are too quiet,” she exhaled heavily and kept moving. “I know you don’t like talking but how are we supposed to have a relationship if you don’t talk?”

        “Hmm,” he considered her request. By nature he was a more internal creature. One of the only remaining traits Rin had from childhood was her ability to be chatty. He followed next to her, holding her elbow every now and again to help her limp along the bank of the river.

         “Hmm is not a response!” She fumed at him.

         “Rin!” Jaken attempted a rebuke.

        “Jaken can you go somewhere else please?” Rin forced herself upright and threw the staff she held to the side. She held her hands out to the side, attempting to balance on one foot.

         Jaken glanced at Sesshomaru for confirmation.

       “Jaken,” he tilted his head the side. “Privacy now.”

        The urchin ran off into the bushes, parting some tall reeds to get away from the two lovers.

        “What are you doing?” Sesshomaru circled Rin as she steadily kept her balance.

         “Practicing,” she said blandly. “Why can’t we talk. It’s been two weeks. You talked the first few days and now you’re being quiet again!” She set one foot down and slowly raised the other. She held her side with one hand, nearly collapsing before he caught her arm. “Stop catching me.”

         “If you fall, you will make the bruising worse,” he chose to sit down on a wide boulder that was bathed in the morning sunlight. It was still near enough for him to grab her, should she topple again.

        “I was hurt many times learning to fight. It’s not my fault you never saw the bruising. Surely you were injured learning to battle,” she set the right foot down and lifted the left one back up. “Dammit, this injury is setting me back.”

        He wasn’t going to answer, thinking that it was obvious that he had also suffered injuries. His father was merciless in training. He once hacked his middle spilling his blood when he was the size of an eight year old boy. He lifted his hand up blocking a rock that came wildly flying at his head. “Rin?” He said in warning.

      “Talk!” She stumbled over to Sesshomaru, flopping down not so gracefully next to him on the rock. She rest her head against his shoulder. “Your impossible to have a relationship with.”

      That he was unsure how to respond. He felt her in every recess of his mind, and couldn’t fathom why she didn’t feel the same inner peace he did.

       “You’re impossible,” she repeated herself leaning more heavily on him. “Move your arm,” she pushed his right arm out of the way and curled against his mokomoko, closing her eyes.

      “When did you start training?” He held her around the waist, refusing to let her go. Her eyes still held dark circles from not getting enough sleep. He knew she spent most of the time tossing, trying to find a comfortable position that didn’t cause her back pain. Not to mention he couldn’t keep his hands off her. This was the first time they had spent most of the day with their clothes on.

          “Sometime between eleven and twelve. I got tired of Hideki and his friends picking on me and Satsu. Not to mention I was tired of being demon fodder for the things that came out of the forest trying to make you suffer,” she poked him in the ribs.

          He responded by tickling her sides. Their lips met smiling. “You never told me.”

         “You didn’t believe in me,” she climbed into his lap, straddling his hips.

        “You play a dangerous game,” his hands grasped her wrists.

        She only shook her head, “I’m tired,” she pushed his hair off his shoulder and rest her head against him, her body becoming relaxed.

       “You use this Sesshomaru as a pillow?” He caressed her back carefully.

        “You use this Rin for more than that,” her lips pressed into his neck. “Just let me rest.”

       “Why didn’t you tell this Sesshomaru then?” He ran his claws through her hair.

      “That feels nice,” she muttered against him. “You got mad whenever I got hurt and attacked Inuyasha. Then you left me for a whole year for killing two demons on my own.”

         He could feel her nose sniffing along his neck. “What are you doing?”

        “You smell my neck all the time. Why can’t I sniff yours?”

           “I smell your emotions. You lack the sensitivity to do the same,” he picked her face up so he could kiss her lips. He knew where this interaction was heading.

         “Then tell me your feelings.”

        “Happy and other things,” he kissed her again. He wondered if she could feel how aroused he was by the way she was pressed against him.

        “Other things?” She chuckled. “Surely I am too sweet and innocent for these other things you speak of.”

        The dog demon chuckled pulling her up. “You are not nearly as innocent as you think. Hiding your skills from me for five years. Lying to me when I asked why you smelled of demon blood,” he had an urge to push her by the shoulders onto the white stone, but it would cause her pain. “Seducing this Sesshomaru. You straddle the lap of a demon.”

        “Seducing you?” This time it was she who took his lips in. “Perhaps. I’m a good fighter Sesshomaru. I’m strong. I’m not your little girl anymore”

        “I know. You would be better, if you trained against this Sesshomaru,” he gripped her waist rolling her over onto her back while cushioning her with his mokomoko.

        “Took you long enough to notice,” she grabbed the back of his neck.


 

            “Sesshomaru-sama?” Hisato’s voice spoke to him from a distance. “Sesshomaru-sama?”

            He came out of his thoughts abruptly. He shook his head, forcing his mind to refocus on his study where he sat at a low desk with his legs crossed. “Tell me again. What happened that day?” He laced his fingers together and bent his head forward to rest on them. She’s so scared, this is not my Rin, my Rin has no fear.

           “There was smoke in the air. The sounds of screaming and then the smell of many, many Yokai. The barrier was brought down. They started with the village. Sentinels were sent to fight them off. Rin sent Hideyoshi to retrieve Yuki and Harutoga, they were with friends playing. When they returned, she took them into the garden and told me to return to the village to fight off the demons. Some Yokai made it here, but not many. When I returned, I followed the scent of her blood. It was strong. I knew she was injured. I found her alone in the grove, bleeding on the forest floor. The injures looked like they were made from claws of some kind. They left no residue on her skin. I’m sorry Sesshomaru-sama, I should not have left Rin-sama’s side.” Hisato backed away against the wall his hand was half reaching for the one of the swords on his back.

          “If it wouldn’t destroy my home I would transform myself and tear your head off,” Sesshomaru’s voice was quaking, “leave now, before I change my mind and keep your distance from Rin. You will guard the children if you cannot manage that, then perhaps you will manage the grave. Send Jaken.”

          “Here,” Hisato handed Sesshomaru Rin’s katana, “I found this out there as well.”

           Sesshomaru needed to breathe, and breathe deeply or else he would collapse and if he didn’t collapse he was going to murder everyone in the house. Sesshomaru knew his blood should have healed her. There was no ailment or injury his blood could not cure for a human. The only side effect was the high fever caused by the intense purity of his yoki. He unsheathed her weapon. He ran his nose along the blade, searching for any hint of the thing that had attacked his Rin in the forest. There was no smell, except his own, the leftover smell of the baby fang that had been used to forge this weapon for her. He threw it across the room, just as Jaken scuttled into the study.

         “You called for me Sesshomaru-sama?” Even he was cowering. It was pathetic.

        “I’m leaving,” Sesshomaru stood up. “I go to get the Miko, perhaps something in her time can explain what has happened to Rin. Keep the children away from Rin. Tie Yuki up if you have to.”

        “Sesshomaru-sama?” Jaken stopped. “What are we going to do?” Jaken groaned and ran after the inu-yokai making his way down the hall. “The servants are talking! She was supposed to go into the village to help with the planting. The seeds are still here in the storerooms! Sesshomaru-sama!” Jake clutched the rose colored hem of Sesshomaru’s haori.

         The dog demon loomed over the urchin. “In the morning have the children take the seeds to the Healer to begin planting. Have Akari watch them.” He grit his teeth while he paused. He had forgotten that Rin tended to the needs of the village and the house. “What else would she be doing?”

        “The planting was the most important. And we were just getting ready to finish making the new irrigation lines from the lake. I sent word to Koga. It will take several days for him to receive the request. Ichiro-sama has emissaries waiting outside where the barrier ended before it fell,” Jaken cringed.

           “He comes to my home?” Sesshomaru snarled angrily. Ichiro was over a thousand years old and had ruled the Eastern Leopard contingent for centuries. He was powerful, a full-out battle against him would not be recommended. The only reason Ichiro was meeting Sesshomaru was because the dog-demon had rid the Leopard of entire clans of snakes that plagued the land that Sesshomaru wanted. He cursed again. There was no time for this. He moved quickly down the hall, stopping long enough by the children’s bedroom to see that they were sleeping. He left out the back entrance, hovering for several minutes over the private garden. His mind fooled him into hearing Rin’s laughter as they sat together under the Sakura tree. Through the shadows playing on the walls of their home he could see Atsuko kneeling next to Rin. Rin was curled against the same spot by the wall. He wouldn’t entertain the idea for a moment that this was his fault, that something in his blood had damaged her. It had to be something else. It would take several hours to reach the village where Inuyasha and Kagome lived with their four children.

           And the last thing we did was fight, he needed to kill something, killing an ogre, killing ten, maybe finding Touma and following through on his threat to him would help or perhaps going back and eviscerating Hisato for leaving Rin alone would do the trick, but in the end if Rin saw, she would only become more frightened. His Rin was fearless and one of the only people besides his halfwit brother who stood up to him. Why did I not make up with her before I left? Somehow that seemed important now. And now she did not know him. She didn’t know herself. His Rin was lost. He landed in a thicket of trees long enough to take his frustration out on several innocent magnolias before approaching the smell of Leopards in his territory. He landed where three sat around a fire. “You were given a message,” he told them firmly.

           The lead Leopard demon rose off the ground. He crossed his arms, orange hair flying in the summer wind. “We sent one to Ichiro-sama. We are waiting the answer.”

           “In my lands,” he drew Bakusaiga. His fingers tensed along the white hilt.

           “These are not your lands yet,” the lead demon tilted his head sniffing the air.

           “The barrier is down. What is to stop us from entering?” The words spoken were the wrong ones. A blast of green electric energy flew at the three demons. Two were singed beyond repair while the final lead one was spared.

            “If you set a hair into my home, into my lands again without my consent. You will meet the same fate. Leave. Return to Ichiro,” he didn’t wait for an answer. He flew into the air. He would go to Kagome and Inuyasha. He knew the medicine was more advanced in her time. She would have an answer. She had to. It was his blind hope, that she would give him something, know something to bring his Rin back. It was blind hope, but it was all he had.

Chapter Text

                 The shadow fled just as the white haired child had entered the room. He fed off the fear that he gave her, the dreams that plagued her unconscious mind. He lay next to her, so close, so intimate. She was beautiful and in time, she would be his. He had somewhere to go anyway. This session was interrupted. It would start again the moment she was alone. It mattered not that one of the sentinels stalked the halls, or that her lover was constantly nearby. He was undetectable when he wanted to be. No scent, no aura, just a shadow, like the leaves that fluttered in the wind shaking like snakes in the grass.

                He flew over the forest, past the grove where his handiwork lay well hidden. None would find what was left behind. What was, didn’t tell the whole story. The minds of children were even easier to manipulate. Except the one. He questioned whether he should rid the family of the white haired girl altogether. She had spunk. His wrist still ached from it. That poison was a fraction of what it would be once she was full grown.

               He landed outside of where the barrier had once blocked intruders. Noiseless, his body became corporeal. He plodded up a grassy hill. The blades blew in the gentle night breeze. His cloak flew behind him as he found his target. “Touma,” he smiled devilishly.

               “Well?” The white haired dog demon sat in a bent bough of a conifer tree. One knee was propped up. He spun his halberd in his hand. The silver long blade glistened in his hand. The scar over his right eye seemed much paler and more putrid in the moonlight.

              “It’s not time yet,” the shadow answered.

             “Your taking too long,” Touma glowered from his place while swinging one leg.

             “These things take time,” he reminded the inu-yokai.

             “Time…time…time…all we have is time. Are you sure you can do it?”

             “It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve stolen the lover of a dai-yokai,” he chuckled cracking his knuckles. “Patience Touma. You were right. She is fertile and strong. She will give me powerful children.”

            “Yada yada,” Touma waved his hand. “I’ve waited eight years to get back at him. How much longer will it take?”

            “A few weeks, maybe a few months,” the shadow threaded his fingers. “These matters are delicate. She is a beauty. Why haven’t you taken her for yourself?”

            Touma scoffed, “in brute strength my brother is more powerful than I. If I came any closer, he would catch my scent and that would be the end of this little venture.”

            “You would give me up?” The shadow questioned suspiciously.

            “As you would me,” Touma gloated at the power he held over the shadow. “Go back before they become suspicious.

           The shadow bowed to his master and returned to the darkness. He had a new target that evening. His manipulations were not finished. Two children stood in the way of making her forget the one she loved.

            He soared over the pisceas, the pines, the Camaphor in his non-corporeal form. Nothing more than wave of black against the tree tops. He flew back to their home, to the white edifice that stood alone miles from the village they created. Without a scent, without an aura, he was impervious as he landed outside the door of the room to the children. He started with the older one. It was fading, she was fighting his control.


 

 Rin’s POV

              She couldn’t move when the door opened again. After the demon, man thing had dragged the white haired thing off her, she collapsed onto the floor. Her hands were so wet from sweat she couldn’t tie her yukata. At least that is what she thought it was. It was lavender in color and somewhat sheen, making her overly self-conscious that she was being immodest. She shielded herself with her hands. Her hair was wild and disheveled. She didn’t like the way she smelled. Unsure of her surroundings, she cowered.

             She heard footsteps, the feet which were bare stopped in front of her own. A kind face knelt before her. “I guess you still don’t know who I am.” She placed a soft hand on her crown. “I’m Atsuko. Are you hungry?” The kind faced woman slid a tray of food in front of her eyes just by her feet. “You slept for days. I’m sure you’re hungry.”

             She touched the tray of food, at least she thought it was food. One thing looked like white flakes in a ball covered with a strip of black. Another smelled sweet and was colorful, orange, green and red. She could remember colors, at least that was something. The other thing looked white and slimy, but smelled good. She felt her stomach rumble. The woman who called herself Atsuko handed her chopsticks, chopsticks? I know what they are called?

              “It’s food Rin,” the woman crossed her legs and sat down. “You eat it, like this,” she mimicked picking it up and putting it in her mouth. “Your stomach will make less noise once it’s full.”

              She nodded, her hand shaking as she tried to reach for the food. When her hand wouldn’t stop trembling, Atsuko took it and held it in her own. Atsuko’s hand was warm, “I’m sure everything seems strange now, but give it time. Maybe your memories will come back.” Atsuko rubbed her fingers until her hand finally steadied itself.

             “Rin…who?” She asked, still curled into a ball. Her face felt heavy, like someone had weighed down her cheeks. Her eyes were so puffy the room was beginning to blur. “Who…” She shook her head and lowered her eyes, “gone.”

             Atsuko didn’t answer that question. She moved the food closer to her, “just eat. Why don’t we start there,” Atsuko had a calming voice against the raging in her heart. Her eyes bespoke of kindness and comfort.

             Several minutes of staring at the food, she finally dared to taste a small bite. She started with the sticky white stuff. “This?” She asked timidly pointing at it.

            “Rice wrapped in sea-weed. It’s one of your favorites.”

           She pointed to the slab of white that had some sweet smelling goo on top.

           “That’s fish. It’s sashimi. Another one of your favorites. Sesshomaru-sama brings it from the oceans when he comes home,” Atsuko picked at the hem of her kimono. “These are vegetables,” she pointed at the colorful things covered in steam. “These are parsnips, carrots, broccoli and bok-choy.”

           “Favorite?”

           “Maybe,” Atsuko chuckled lightly. “You really don’t remember anything do you? Would it help if I told you about myself?”

           She shrugged her shoulders, finally picking up the rice and nipping at it. The majority spilled from her mouth and fell back on the plate.

           “You can use your hands,” Atsuko picked the ball of rice up in her hand, imitating eat it.

            Finally biting into it, she licked her lips greedily. She was starving. She shoved the rice into her mouth until her cheeks were stuffed.

            “Careful,” Atsuko lifted her chin, wiping off the specks of rice and sea-weed. “A little slower. I knew you were hungry.”

             “Atsuko?” She couldn’t wrap her head around the woman sitting in front of her. She touched her face. “Friend?”

             “We’re friends,” Atsuko picked the chopsticks up and handed them to her. “We moved here because my husband is a…” Atsuko bit her tongue. “Well, we needed a place to live. I was pregnant with my first. I’m expecting. We want to have another one, but it’s not so easy for us. Our son, Nagaharu is eight. The same age as your,” she stopped talking again.

             She wondered why she kept pausing when she spoke.

            “Well the same age as the little girl that came running in here.”

            She listened as Atsuko explained more about their house. “Sesshomaru-sama came here a little over eight years ago with his wife and daughter. Just don’t use the term wife around him. Dog-demons don’t believe in using human titles. Anyway, his wife had a little girl who was just a few months old. He married a human. He was deeply in love with her.”

             “Yokai?” She picked up the slippery steamed vegetables and ate them gratefully. “Sweet,” she whispered.

              “They’re simmered in oranges and we put sugar cane in them,” Atsuko said.

             She was sure she liked Atsuko.

             “Yes. He’s an Inu-Yokai. One of the most powerful ones. He has a reputation for being cold hearted but he really isn’t. I only know that because I serve the family. If I didn’t see their private moments, I would think he was as cold and dark as his reputation suggests. This village is our haven,” again she paused. “Some of us had nowhere else to turn. He gave us a home. We all work together to make sure we have enough food. The sentinels guard the village and this house. We have a Healer who tends to the wounded and the sick. A lot of us act as midwives. We have big celebrations here when babies are born. Sesshomaru-sama even shows up to the parties. We created our own traditions. Two-weeks or a month after the baby is born, when the mother feels strong enough again, we make a big bon-fire in the center of the village by the lake that feeds the garden. Everyone dances around a big fire-pit and blesses the couple for bringing another child into the world. You know we have a family of wolf-” this time she nearly choked, shaking her head. “Well there is a family we think will be having a baby soon. You should come when we have the celebration.”

            She nodded. It sounded nice. Her body was finally still. She was trying to process everything that was being said. Her mind was a void of darkness she didn’t understand. She touched her head once again trying to remember anything. Food, faces, people, did she have a home? Some of the words flashed through her brain had meaning. Others felt like she was taking a mental trip through a maze. When she finished eating, Atsuko helped her to stand, “come, there is a hot spring outside. Let’s get you cleaned up.” She led Rin to the garden. It was beautiful, a hot springs, near a sakura tree that was blossoming and smelled like heaven. There was a gentle night breeze and the sharp smell of sulfur.

            Her feet led her quickly to the sakura tree. The trunk was a deep brown with ravines and hollows. She stroked the bark with her fingers, running them up and down the tree. A flash came through her mind. Hands held her. Striped on the wrists with jagged claws. They felt warm, like home. She clutched her head as the fire began to spread along the lift side. “Familiar,” she rasped out hoarsely.

           “I don’t know much about this place,” Atsuko touched the tree. “This is the Lord’s private garden. Here, why don’t you get in.” Atsuko helped her undress. “Come into the water,” the maid held the woman’s hand. “Sit down on this ledge,” she pointed to a white smooth stone. “Inside should be another ledge to sit on. Get inside. Soak for a bit and then I’ll wash you.”

            She climbed into the warm waters. There was something familiar about that. Hands, again the hands. They held her shoulders. Then golden eyes. The fire came again blotting out the vision.  Why can’t I remember?

            Atsuko strode over to the entrance to the room, “Hisato,” she called quietly.

            The guard came forward into the room keeping to the shadows. “What is it?”

            “Why this place?”

            “You don’t know?” Hisato’s face was youthful and old all at once. His eyes were lined in black with magenta around the edges. His body was darker and not the cream colored perfection of most of his kind. His hair was long tied into a lose pony tail at the base of his neck. He perpetually wore either a green haori or a black one. That night he wore black.

            “Should I?” Atsuko wondered. “She said it was familiar. The sakura tree.”

            “Jaken,” the dog-demon called into the hallway. “Jaken come here.”

             Jaken came running in a load of scrolls in one hand and Nintojo in the other. “What is it?”

             “This place,” Hisato inquired. “Why this place?”

            “It’s none of your business,” Jaken harrumphed and walked away.

           “Jaken,” Hisato caught his shoulder. “The Sakura tree. She said it was familiar. Why? He doesn’t allow anyone into this garden. Why is it familiar?”

             “You were hired for your discretion Hisato so I will tell you both this much and if more is shared you will face Sesshomaru-sama. This place is special to them. This is where she first became his. When she was a child she nearly died under the Sakura tree. This is where they have always been the happiest. We will tell Sesshomaru-sama of this when he returns,” Jaken left the room.

           “I’ll wait here,” Hisato turned his back from the garden.  

           She could hear the voices in the room and make out their speech but she didn’t understand who this ‘she’ was they spoke of. Was it the lover of the demon-lord?

          She sat down on the soft ledge next to the warm water and lowered herself slowly. The water was warm, peaceful and welcoming. Atsuko came and sat behind her. She took a cup to wash the tangles from her hair. Atsuko handed her a wash cloth and instructed her how to clean her body. When she was done, Atsuko assisted her back into her clothes and into the room where she had been sleeping. Someone left the room just as she entered. “I’ll be outside if you need anything. You should probably try to go back to sleep.”

          “Thank you,” she tried to smile politely, or at least what she managed to believe was polite. She wasn’t even sure what that was, but it felt right.

           She waited for the door to close once again and then stood up to try to take in her surroundings. There was a door on the wall next to the one that lead to the hallway, when she tried to open it, it was locked. Instead she looked around the room, it was simple, and plain. She thought perhaps it would have been more elaborate. He said it was his house? A demon’s house? How did I get here? The floor was plain white, but smooth to the touch and cold. It felt like marble. The walls were also made from soft stone. There was large bedding against the wall where the locked door was, and two chests off to the side. Instead of returning to the bed, she traipsed slowly to the door that lead to the garden. There were daisies, a small patch of soft deep green grass and a sakura tree. She walked to the sakura tree, bent down and touched the roots. Something felt familiar about the roots, as soon as the warm feeling came, so did the searing pain in her head. She flinched, groaning out loud trying to ward the pain off.

           She walked passed the sulfur hot springs, letting her feet carry her. Where am I? The night was warm and humid causing a sheen of sweat to drop from her skin. The forest was dark. The high pisceas and magnolias that ached to touch the sky were her only companions. Her breath came out in shutters and jolts. She took one last look at the room where she had awoken, before walking deeper into the forest unaware of the many eyes watching her. The forest floor hurt her feet, the pines were sharp, they dug into her skin. She didn’t care. She didn’t know where she was. She didn’t know who she was. All she knew is that she wanted to find where she belonged, something familiar, a face, a smell. Something that would make her stop shivering. She walked until her toes were burning from the foliage digging in to her skin and she could no longer take the fear of loneliness.

           A flash of light made her jump and the clap of thunder brought her to her knees beneath a large magnolia. She curled her knees against her chest as she scoot back under the canopy of the trees. As the rains began to pour down on her skin, she fell asleep in a pile of leaves hugging her yukata close to her. The storming winds blew against her skin making her shiver. The night storm competed against the tears leaving her eyes as she curled into the fetal position below her canopy of trees, completely unaware of the danger she was in. Her eyelids slowly closed as she shivered in the night air.


 

            Something was clawing at her. Thick sharp claws attached to two brutal hands. The hands were slashed with purple stripes. They raked over her back burning into her skin. Blood dripping down her back. She screamed in pain. “You shouldn’t have made me do that,” it reprimanded her. She wanted to ask what but then it came for her again. It was violating her, she couldn’t get away, its’ eyes were red. She wanted to scream for help. The noise stopped in the middle of her throat. He was going to rip her to pieces. When he was finished he would swing a rusty looking sword over her head and do it again.


 

          “Another horde, another horde for my brother to ward off,” Touma sung as he held a serpent like demon in one of his hands. “Swarm for me, bleed for me. Break them,” his sinister laughter filled the air. “Find the source of the barrier.” The barrier had kept him out, banished him from ever being able to take his revenge. It covered the entirety of the village, blocking all. He knew little of what it was or how others managed to get in and out. His allies inside had not been able to tell him. It was only a matter of time. They would pay.


 

           The shadow hovered over her. This was better than he had hoped. Usually they lay frightened in their beds afraid to move, but she left the warmth of their home. She cringed in fear against the base of a pine tree. Her fingers dug into the dirt as he traced circles and stars over her forehead. “Hate him, loathe him for the beast he is. What memories lay dormant in your past. What darkness is there to corrupt. Detest him,” he sang in her ears as she slept. “When you are done, follow me, to freedom, to hope to true love.”


 

             As the first bright flash of lightening hit, Yuki jolted awake. Her hands found her cheeks. She shook her head to lose the feeling of her skin crawling.  She had an eerie feeling once again, like someone was in the room watching them sleep. The shadows from the trees outside made ghostly apparitions on her bedroom walls. The hair on the back of her neck was standing up. The second flash made her hold the sheet closer to her chest. “Chichiue!” She shrieked gripping her blanket. Something was nagging at the back of her mind. Yuki pushed Haru off of her stomach, rubbed her eyes and stood up. For a moment she thought she saw a shadow leave her room and float into the night sky. Yuki tested the door that led to her parents room and snarled when she found it locked.

            Instead she decided to see if she could sneak in through the hallway. She carefully opened her door only to be met by Hisato who stood like a statue outside her door. Yuki walked out of the room anyway, fulling intending on clawing him if he blocked her from getting her way. The hallway was dimly lit with torches that the night servants kept lit. It made the clean ivory walls reflect a golden sheen as the shadows of the flames danced on the walls.

            “You aren’t allowed in there,” Hisato unfolded his arms, “Sesshomaru-sama said I could tie you up if I wanted to.”

            Yuki rolled her eyes at Hisato. “Your whip isn’t as strong his, half-breed,” Yuki stuck her tongue out at Hisato, “besides she isn’t in there. I stopped smelling her a while ago.” It wasn’t exactly true. Hisato’s whip was strong enough to hold her, but she would never admit that to anyone. She’d been able to get a hand free and slash at his belly a few times.

            “I have more yokai blood in my veins than you do,” Hisato fumed at Yuki. “What do you mean?”

            “I don’t know. I was asleep, but when I woke up I couldn’t smell her in there. Tainted yokai blood,” Yuki said the last part under her breath sure Hisato heard her. She reached for the door. Hisato grabbed her wrist. Yuki turned her claws on Hisato and dug them into his wrist, green mist bled into the open cuts. He cursed and released her wrist. “Don’t presume to touch this Yuki,” she pushed the door open, revealing an empty room, “see? She isn’t in here. Where is Chichiue?”

            “Out,” Hisato walked into the room, “dammit.” He attempted to shake the pain off the arm Yuki had wounded. He dashed into the garden. She wasn’t there. That was where he would have expected her to be. He cursed internally, if it were Rin this is where she would be. Rin spent much of her time in their private garden. His presence was unnecessary. She is not Rin.

            “Chichiue is going to kill you,” the child gloated. “That’s twice you lost her now and it’s pouring outside,” Yuki walked through the room smelling the air, “her scent has already been washed away.” She continued through the door that lead to the garden with Hisato close behind her.

            “Stay here Yuki. I will find your mother,” he attempted to grab her shoulder.

            Yuki held one of her clawed hands up menacingly, “I’m coming too.”

            “You really want your father to kill me don’t you?”

            “Does that mean I would get a more fun replacement?” Yuki rolled her eyes again, “she’s my Ka-san. I’m coming whether you want me to or not. Good luck stopping me.”

            “Fine but on my back where I won’t lose track of you either, Jaken!” Hisato yelled from the entrance of the room.

            Jaken came scurrying into the room, “where is Rin? I’m dead…I’m dead…”

            “Gone. Wasn’t Atsuko supposed to sit with Rin tonight?” Hisato groused, hands on his hips, clearly aggravated. That was another reason he had let his guard down. Atsuko was meant to watch her.

            “Atsuko was resting in one of the nearby guest rooms. She’s already been up all day,” Jaken countered, “oh no…my tenure here is going to be brief.”

            “Stop groveling worm. Chichiue isn’t even here to listen to your ramblings and this Yuki finds it tiring,” her arms were folded against her small chest.

            “Keep an eye on Harutoga. He’s asleep in Yuki’s room.” Hisato knelt down and motioned Yuki onto his back. “Send to the village. Bring Hideyoshi or Sato back to guard the home in my absence.”

            “I know that! Ungrateful welp!” Jaken yelled at them and ran back down the hallway.

            “I doubt he knows that, stupid green toad! I’m walking,” she brushed past him and started through the garden. The rains had washed away almost all of her mother’s scent but she could still smell it here and there. She closed her eyes to listen. Chichiue always said not to overly rely on one sense alone. Inu-yokai have keen noses, ears and eyes. All Yuki could hear was the rush of the water falling from the sky. She was soaked to the skin within moments of exiting her parents’ bedroom, her night clothes clung to her skin. “Come on Hisato,” she urged him.

            “Look for foot prints,” Hisato instructed Yuki. “Listen for her crying. She still has no memories.”

            “This Yuki doesn’t require instructions,” she continued loping to the end of the flowers where the ground turned harder. She stopped for a moment to raise her nose again and close her eyes looking for any sign of her mother. She still couldn’t hear anything, but there were signs that the forest floor had been disturbed recently. “This is where you found her wasn’t it?” Yuki saw flashes. A dark cloak, a scream. She ran her fingers over one of the stones as if she could still feel it touching some part of her body. “Ahhh!” She screamed holding her head. “My head!”

            Hisato caught Yuki by the elbow before she crashed onto the forest floor. He knelt down to be on her eye level, “what is it?”

            “Don’t touch me!” Her eyes reddened around the edges. “Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me!” The red deepened nearly down to her irises. “I was here I know it! What happened to Ka-san?”

            “Calm down,” Hisato kept a firm grip on her upper arm, “enough now.” He gave her chin a shake with his thumb and index finger, “it’s enough Yuki.”

            The red receded from her eyes but only slightly, “my head hurts.”

            “Go back to the house,” Hisato rose again, towering over her.

            She shook her head vehemently, “Ka-san needs me.” She stomped forward biting back the pain in her head. “No,” her bottom lip trembled.

            “This isn’t good. Your Chichiue wanted to view the area where we found your mother,” Hisato spoke more to himself than he did to Yuki.

            “There’s nothing here to see,” Yuki yelled over the roaring rains. “The rain is washing it all away.”

            “If you are an eight year old hanyou that knows nothing about tracking. Come, we need to find your mother,” Hisato led the way through the forest.

            Yuki glared at him again and rolled her eyes. She loped behind him lightly over the muddy surface of the ground. She stopped when she found a print that had a few drops of blood. She dropped onto her knees. “That’s Ka-san’s!”

            Hisato felt the print with the tips of his fingers, “she came out barefooted. We need to hurry.”

            “My skin’s crawling,” Yuki complained wiping the mud from her fingers.

            “That’s because there is danger ahead. Do you sense it?”

They both stopped at the same time. There was shrieking, hissing, and a foul aura around their home.

“Something is out here,” Hisato drew his swords, “I’d give you one but I doubt you know how to use it.”

            “My claws will suffice, thank you,” she folded her arms, “more than one thing right?” Suddenly she returned to being an eight year old girl on the edge of fear.

            “Yes, we need to hurry. If anything comes, you go back to the house,” Hisato ordered Yuki.

            “I’ll do as I please,” Yuki countered once again cracking her fingers similar to how her father did.  “I killed one in the village by myself.”

            “There are a lot more than one. I need my brother and Hideyoshi,” Hisato raced forward releasing white hot blades from his two short swords. Instead I have an eight year old with a rage problem.

            Yuki leapt into the air releasing a battle cry, flying over Hisato’s head. Maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world, he said as he saw the little girl flying through the air. The only problem, was her eyes were no longer white and gold, they bled completely red, with blue irises. Hisato had no time to stop Yuki from her onslaught. A horde of demons were coming down on Rin. All he heard were her screams for help.

            Hisato was no stranger to battle. If his own kind had it his way, he would have been dead the day he and his brother were born. Their grand-mother was human. His father took a pure-blood demon as a partner. Twin births were said to only happen once every couple of centuries. He was born in the castle in the sky. If it wasn’t for the one who ruled there, he and his brother would have met a pitiful end. It meant that as soon as he was old enough to hold a katana he was taught to wield one. He settled on two shorts swords that carried the ability to shoot white sheets of light from them. He had sparred with the best of his kind. He was a cunning warrior, but his life was spent in solitude until Gobodo-sama, Sesshomaru’s mother had insisted that he work for Rin and Sesshomaru. “Rin-sama! He called trying to get the cringing woman’s attention. She was about to be slashed into by a flying red hissing snake.


 

             He had first met her when she was a child, dead on Gobodo-sama’s dais. The elder demoness took off her meido stone, placed it on the young girl and brought her life-force back from the beyond. He watched in wonder as Sesshomaru gingerly cupped the face of the little girl. Something he was sure was beyond the Dog Lord who hated humans. Yet, Sesshomaru had rushed after a hell-dog to save not one but two of them. After he left Gobodo-sama had called him over, “mark my words Hisato, he will bond that girl when she comes of age.”

            “How can you tell?”

            “You can’t? Tainted blood doesn’t suit you. If you saw what I did in his eyes. We’ll just have to wait and see how long it takes him to succumb to his emotions. He doesn’t feel them easily,” Gobodo-sama waved Hisato away.

            As he stood by his post he said softly, “like mother like son.”

            “Is it? You would know so well wouldn’t you Hisato?” The female laughed.

            Hisato suppressed his need to smile, to laugh at the absurdity. Yet when Sesshomaru returned nearly ten years later requesting a guard he was shocked when Gobodo-sama called him again. “Hisato,” she motioned for him. His post had always been near her side. For generations his family had been raised in the castle. He had spent a fair amount of time on land as they called it. “Hisato will be an excellent guard. You’re finally taking your own lands? Why not your father’s?”

            “Why take what was won by someone else?” Sesshomaru’s voice was placid and dry. “Who is this Hisato? How do I know he won’t betray us?”

            “There’s nothing to betray. Isn’t that right Hisato?” She motioned him with a crooked finger. “Go with my son. Guard his human female.”

            “He has human blood,” Sesshomaru observed. Hisato couldn’t hide it. That small portion of himself that was still human wafted into the nostrils of the pure-blooded dog-demon in front of him.

            “He is not a hanyou. He is more than that, but less than you and I. Hisato will make a fine guard for your female,” Gobodo-sama smiled. “Did she have the child?”

            Of course Sesshomaru-sama didn’t answer. It would be years that Hisato was trapped between the two of them, keeping the secret of Yuki’s birth. Rin was quiet, they spoke little at first. He spent the majority of his time on the outside of the hut. She invited him in for meals. Slowly a rapport grew over the years. Eventually Sesshomaru trusted him enough to allow him to spar with Rin. He would become her second instructor in Sesshomaru’s absence. He was the one that ignored the fights that happened behind closed doors, the moans of passion, the life that they lived. They constantly bickered, even more-so in the last six months. For as much as they bickered, they spent the time making up just as passionately. He ignored the nights she couldn’t sleep while Sesshomaru was gone. It wasn’t his place to comfort her. His sole purpose was to ensure her safety and the safety of the children. But there was something about being the one that sat with her when the labor for Harutoga began. She had been in the community garden. Yuki ran circles around her. She was only five months along and completely obvious to when the baby would come. The pains came on gradually but with great force. It was he who had carried her back to the house and cleared the public dining hall to give her privacy to pace until the proper females had been assembled. He held her hand, unsure of how human females birthed. His mother had no other children after he and his brother. It wasn’t his place, but in that moment he couldn’t leave Rin alone.


 

             Yet now, he felt as if he had failed all of them. Both children were complaining of head-aches. He would tell Sesshomaru-sama when he returned. Something was going on. He just didn’t know what. There was no time to think as he hacked into the leg of an ogre who had made it into their lands. His next target as flew into the air was a mass of slithering things that were dive bombing the crouching woman. His swords glowed white with the rage he felt inside. It was Hisato’s job to protect her and he would, even if it meant his death.


 

             “The barrier is down,” Touma gloated from his tree. “The barrier is down. What will you do brother? Your peace with the East is rocky, the ogres gather in the South. Your borders are unstable. How long will it take you to figure out what is happening,” he sang his song from the tree as he motioned more demons forward. “Attack them my horde. Kill them. Make them bleed. But spare the one who is allied with me.”

Chapter Text

              The horizon bathed the fields of Rin’s childhood village with rays of gold. It glinted a crescent of bright light against the dark morning sky. His body ached. Days upon days were spent sending blows to the southern border where the ogres continued to mass and challenge his newfound boundaries. He had meant to rest that night he came home, not slice his veins open and hold Rin in the freezing river to control the fever he gave her. His body was weakened and exhausted.

               He felt a deep pang burrowing in his chest from leaving Rin behind. But it couldn’t be helped. He needed answers and he didn’t trust anyone else to keep her peace.  

               He landed in the forest near Goshinboku. He was instantly greeted with a whip flying at his face. Coming from less than a hanyou it was easy to catch and send his own back at the girl. Izayoi was eleven now. Her hair was still as white and as his own but the moon that used to grace her forehead was dimmed. She leapt out of the way laughing as she waved to her uncle. Sesshomaru inclined his head slightly to the girl, clenching his teeth to contain his emotions. He traipsed through the forest. There was no path to their thatched roof hut, but it was obvious that this was the most direct route. The grass had been beaten down. The lush brown earth crunched against his feet. He stayed on the winding path until he came through a break in the trees.

            Ahead of him was the brown wooden hut. To the side many meters from where he walked Inuyasha split wood from piles with an axe. Inuyasha’s two sons, Taisho and Sota were with him hacking away at branches and limbs of a fallen tree. Sesshomaru walked towards the hut following Kagome’s scent. In the back of his awareness he heard Inuyasha caterwauling at him.  Sesshomaru had to steady himself. He was not accustomed to asking for help, although he had become more used to these kinds of meetings. Inuyasha was a trusted ally, the only one he could trust not to try to kill him, Rin or his children.

            “Oi, ass hole,” A blindingly bright flash came flying at Sesshomaru so quickly it nearly hit him as he was lost in his own thoughts. “What are you doing here?” Inuyasha’s crowing grated on Sesshomaru’s nerves.

            Sesshomaru flew up into the air dodging the blow. He removed Bakusaiga and sent his own blast directly at Inuyasha and his two sons. Inuyasha squeaked something at his two sons as he thrust his sheathe out to stop the blow from landing on Sota, Taisho and himself.

 “I don’t have time for this Inuyasha,” but wouldn’t a good sparring match help heal his mind? “Where is your Miko?” Sesshomaru stopped short for a moment. He touched the scar on his chest. It was becoming uncomfortable. The jagged edges seemed sharper these days. It almost felt as if it was singeing his skin. Something brushed the back of his mind. A sense of calling. He turned towards home for an instant, Rin? He shook his head, trying to get the feeling out of his mind. Rin is gone. There is someone else behind her eyes now. It can’t be her.

            “In the hut, making breakfast with Mayumi,” Inuyasha called, “why are you here?”

            Sesshomaru walked towards the hut and up the stairs. Four katanas in black sheaths with white pearl hilts rested against the bare wall of the hut. Sesshomaru admired them for a moment, allowing his heart a temporary reprieve from its torment. When the children were old enough, they would awaken the way Rin’s did, gifting Inuyasha’s children with added power to protect themselves and those around them. The fangs to create them he had filched off his mother when she wasn’t looking. Gobodo-sama had never met Inuyasha. Sesshomaru knew she was aware of his existence. It never seemed to bother her that his father had taken someone else.

             Kagome leaned next to the fireplace stirring a pot of soup. He was surprised to see she had aged as much as she had since the last time he saw her. Kagome had wisps of grey on the sides of her hair that was tied back in a tight pony tail. There were lines under her eyes, and her skin had hardened with age. Sesshomaru’s mind drifted to Rin, she would look the same in seven years. His time with her compared to the span of his own life would be short.

            “O-ni-sama!” Kagome exclaimed, “what’s wrong?” Kagome observed the tenseness of his face. Sesshomaru’s eyes were hardened and cold.  She knew something was desperately wrong. The last time Kagome saw his eyes so distant was when he was hunting Magatsuhi.

            “Rin,” he made himself at home next to the fire. Sesshomaru sat crossed legged, he braced his hands on Bakusaiga. He let the flames hypnotize his thoughts.  Sesshomaru scratched his forehead frustrated, “she was hurt. Is there something in your time about the head becoming injured and loss of all memory?”

            Kagome dropped the cup she held in her hand. It shattered on the ground. Her mouth went dry, “w…what?”

            Sesshomaru refused to say it again. He registered her shock. She heard him. “Her memories are gone. She remembers nothing.”

            “O-ni-sama, I’m so sorry. Mayumi, go outside and help To-san with the wood.” Kagome patted her six year old daughter on the head. “I know you don’t like tea, can I get you anything?”

            “Rin’s memories,” he answered tacitly, clawing at the wooden planks of their home. Why doesn’t wood bleed? The warmth of blood on his hands would do his soul good.

            “Start from the beginning, tell me what happened,” Kagome sat down next to him. If he wouldn’t kill her for touching him, she would have wrapped her arms around Sesshomaru. His pain was written all over his face. There were new creases under his eyes, a rigidness around his mouth. If those didn’t give it away the splinters his claws dug into the floorboards did. Their families had become kindred spirits since Touma had attacked Rin. They visited often. Kagome enjoyed pointing out how his children were her nieces and nephews. She noticed the twitch in his cheeks when her children screamed, “O-ji-sama,” in greeting. She knew he would never say it but there was a closeness between them now.

            Sesshomaru explained what he knew. What he saw, the extent of the injuries, the swelling in her head that immediately went down when his blood came in contact with it and the deep ravines that were hacked into her back. Kagome asked questions like, how long she was on the forest floor bleeding? How long she was asleep for? By the end Kagome was biting her bottom lip and huffing. “It sounds like amnesia.” Kagome said, “it means the memories are forgotten, but sometimes after head injuries they can come back. I’m not a doctor, I don’t know enough about it. Maybe the swelling in her head was something worse and your blood healed her but her mind needs more time to come back?”

            “Amnesia?” He tested the strange word on his tongue. “What do they do for this amnesia in your time?” He scraped the wood floor with his claws. I hate this, helplessness, hopelessness, emptiness. Perhaps he would take the time to pummel Inuyasha on the way out just to get the heaviness out of his chest.

            “I’m not sure. I can go back and find some books from the library to bring back, but I get the feeling you don’t plan on staying here that long?”

            “No, the barrier was brought down the village and my home are vulnerable. I must return,” he stood up to leave. He stopped after a few steps resting one hand on the door to the hut. He kept his back to Kagome, “she’s scared of me. She won’t look at me, won’t let me near her…Kagome, how do I make her unafraid?”

            Kagome bit her lip, “I don’t know. Can you change your form? Make it look more human? Until her memories return, okay that look you’re giving me now, I shouldn’t have suggested that.” Kagome stood up. “O-ni-sama, why would she be scared of you?”

            “What?” It took a moment for his brain to register the validity of the question. “This Sesshomaru is Yokai,” he replied incredulously.

             “Yes, but if she remembers nothing, why would she be afraid of a yokai anymore than she would be a human? It doesn’t really make sense.” Kagome nervously fidgeted with the hem of her sleeve.

            He clicked his fingers on the wooden wall one claw at a time listening to the tap, tap of his nails as he did. “I must return.” Too many unanswered questions…

            “I’ll ask Miroku to go with you. Do you want to take my boys with you? They’re young, but they can fight,” Kagome followed Sesshomaru to the door.

             He heaved a lament, and exited the hut. “Send them,” they would be better than no one. He needed to reorganize the village until the barrier was brought back up. Sesshomaru stopped long enough to decide whether or not to have a brutal go round with Inuyasha. There was no time, he needed to return to his home. As he exited the hut he saw the kitsune demon child that used to follow Inuyasha and Kagome around.

           “Umo,” it said, trembling. Its' blond tail shook in fear.

           Fear…I’m tired of smelling fear.

            “I have an idea to help Rin. I know you finished a treaty with us last month. What if we used Fox magic to make everyone else inside the house look human? Then Rin wouldn’t be so scared, until she gets her memories back? I can come help now if you want. I can’t take care of the whole house. I would need to get more help. Actually we are looking for a place to run our next fox demon exams. What if we had it there, and the goal was to trick Rin and keep her from being scared? We could hide the people that aren’t human.”

            Sesshomaru looked down and the fox, “you would do this?” Compassion from a child.

            “Yeah, Rin was my friend, at least I hope she still would be,” Shippo answered.

            If Sesshomaru shook his head back and forth anymore, or clenched his claws again, he was going to slice through his own skin to remind himself that Dai-yokai don’t behave this way. Except when their loves lose their memories, and are afraid of them. He had to stop heaving big sighs as well or he was really going to slash something. “Do it,” he said to Shippo, “I am not in need of your services now. I will not change my form. She must learn to see me for who I am. Tell Hinatamaru to come to my home. You will be free to use the house and the village to trick Rin into thinking she is amongst her own kind, myself and my children, are not to be changed. And jokes are not to be played on anyone else.” It was time to return home to find a way to restore Rin’s memories.

            The kitsune bowed low.

            “Inuyasha,” Sesshomaru called to his brother.

            Inuyasha came over weary, with his katana drawn. His chest was bare. All he wore were his red hikama. “What?”

            “I ask for your help again. The barrier around my home has been brought down. Rin is…unwell,” he couldn’t think of a better word for it.

            “Sure,” Inuyasha said happily. “Who do I get to kill?”

            “I don’t know. When I do, they will be the prey of this Sesshomaru,” he said firmly as he made it to a more open area of trees and flew away.

            “What the hell is going on?” Inuyasha asked Kagome.

            “Rin was hurt. He came home and she was near death. He used his blood to heal her, but something went wrong. She has no memories of anything. Not him, not their children. The barrier was brought down, his home was attacked. You know how often he is gone to protect his borders,” she started packing two knapsacks. “I told him he could take Taisho and Sota. They’re better than nothing. I want to ask my brother about Rin. I don’t even know what we would do for amnesia. I’ll try to come afterwards.”

            Inuyasha nodded, “Sota! Taisho!”

            “What?” They answered in unison dropping their axes. “Take some bags of food and go get Miroku. You’re going to help your uncle.”

            Goofy proud grins spread across the faces of both boys. “Think we’ll get to kill someone?” Taisho jogged ahead of Sota.

            “Not unless you actually grab them. I’m the one with claws,” white haired Sota reminded him.

            “I burned Hideki’s arm really good,” Taisho laughed. “He asked why? I told him it was payback for throwing me in the river when I was two and a half!”


 

 Rin’s POV

 

            Claws, there were claws and teeth coming at her neck and back. The eyes were red and angry once again. Something felt wet this time, as the claws slashed against her back, blood pooled around her waist. The voice was livid, foreboding, roaring in her ears. She couldn’t breathe, she tried to run but it followed her. The teeth went into one shoulder than the other, when she looked behind her, the forehead held a crescent moon, the cheeks were striped pink, the fangs deadly.

            She woke up screaming. No sooner did the scream leave her throat than her eyes enlarged. Surrounding her were snake like things that flew in the night sky. She was soaked from the rain, one was wrapped around her legs. No words came to her lips, no calls for help, no names for the creatures swarming around her, the only sensation coursing through her body was the poison of fright and the horror that perhaps her death was near.

            Another higher pitched scream pierced the raging storm. The little thing that had called her Ka-san came flying through the trees, talons extended seeping a glowing green mist from their tips. Her fangs bared, eyes blood red. Behind the little thing was one of the men, demon men? She had seen him earlier in the room, with two loops of black fur, one over each shoulder. Katanas? Is that what they were called? The word seemed familiar they were slashing into the floating, serpentine things that were wrapped around her. The little one flew into the air in one big leap and landed on another Yokai? Is that what they were? Once her legs were free she scooted herself backwards until she hit the trunk of a tree. At the sound of a slice and a fallen body next to her, she curled to the side, she wanted to hide her face.

            The black thing flew into the air fighting off more of the flying one eyed things, the snakes, the things that looked like slugs, the ones crawling on the ground were left to the little one. She heard a yell of, “wait!” It was the one with the double looped black fur, “Rin and Yuki are down there, Sesshomaru-sama wait!”

            A ferocious growl filled the air, and there he was, the one with the painted face, the sickle of death on his forehead. He landed in front her, black shoes not making a sound. “Hisato, Yuki behind me,” he removed a pearl hilted sword from his obi. The other Yokai landed behind the man dressed in white hakama, and black armor. The sword smoldered green like the poison that came from the child’s hand. “Yuki, behind me now!” He called to the child.

            He was answered with a hiss and a snarl. “It can’t be, dammit! Hisato, do not leave Rin’s side. Dammit Yuki, dammit!” He flew back into the air. He made quick work of the demons swarming her while she hid beneath the boughs of the maple tree she had slept under. She watched in awe as a green string protruded from one hand. It Impaled seven of the flying slithering things at once. His other hand slashed green blades at the ones blocking him from the child. Bodies fell from all sides, a monsoon of flesh and blood soaking the forest floor. “Yuki!” He called again, he grabbed the feral child around the waist, “stop struggling!” As soon as he had the child he landed in front of her again and swung the sword over his head sending green waves of voltaic energy into the surviving yokai.

            The child flayed in his arms, hissing and shrieking.

            She tried to hide deeper into the greenery. Her legs wobbled when she tried to stand. The rain was down to a drizzle now, she shivered in the afternoon sun. “No…no…no…” when he turned to face her, the one with silver hair, the one with deadly claws, the one who haunted her dreams, she cut her hand on a rock trying to pull herself away, “no…no…no…” it was all she could force from her lips.

            He stopped advancing, the child still fought against him, refusing to stop moving, refusing to give up her fight. Another child came running through the bushes, “found them Atsuko!” It was the one with a black stripe and strange colored eyes. He ran through the nettles on the ground and slid to a stop in front of the silver haired one. “Atsuko said to use my nose to find her but I couldn’t smell her. I smelled you. She lost ka-san.” The striped one gave a funny look to the human woman.

            Atsuko, the woman who had sat with her earlier came from the bushes behind the boy. She bowed low to the one with silver hair, “forgive me. I laid down to rest. The next thing I knew she was gone. I asked Harutoga to find her scent for me. I know you’ve been practicing with him. I’m so sorry it won’t happen again.” Atsuko looked pale.

            The look on the silver haired one’s eyes brought tears to her eyes again. She felt cold and tired. Her hand stung from the laceration. “Calm her,” he said with a cold expression on his face.

Atsuko came to her, she knelt down and crept under the boughs where she had hidden herself, “it’s okay. Your safe now. The forest isn’t safe. You should come with me.” Atsuko held out a hand.

            She sneezed and coughed. Her head hurt, she felt pressure around her nose.


 

            “She’s getting sick, Atsuko get her back to the house. Hisato, take Yuki for a moment. Keep her restrained,” the silver haired passed the child to the one with the black fur. The child continued to grapple as she was passed from the silver haired one to the one called Hisato. He took off his armor. He removed his swords and then took off his haori and handed it to Atsuko. “It’s still dry, put this on her,” he put his armor back on and retired the two swords to his waist.

            “She’s hurt Sesshomaru-sama,” Atsuko held onto the palm that was bleeding.

            The silver-haired one knelt down on one knee. “Let me see,” his golden eyes softened. They almost seemed kind.

            “No…no…” she shook her head, vehement that he shouldn’t touch her.

            “It’s okay,” Atsuko gave the wrist a tug so Sesshomaru could reach it.

            He held her palm, “there’s a splinter.”

            “No hurt,” she sobbed weakly.

            “It won’t hurt,” Sesshomaru dabbed his tongue into the cut. “See?”

            “Ouch,” brown eyes finally made their way out of the mess of her hair. As his tongue dipped in and out of the cut, the pain lessened. The claws of his thumb and index finger plunged likely into the skin recusing the splinters. For the briefest second she caressed the stripe of his wrist. He released her hand gasping in shock at the contact to his skin. She brushed her hair from her face at last taking in the form of the silver haired demon she had been so scared of. He was taller than her. His silver hair was straight and unfussed considering the battle he just fought. He wore black armor over a grey haori.

            The edges of his cheeks twitched lightly. “Give me Yuki,” his eyes tracked to her for a moment before he knelt down, “Harutoga, get on my back. I’ll be back in a day. Do not lose track of Rin again. Hisato we will discuss you taking my daughter into battle when I return.” The other little one climbed onto the silver-haired ones back. He looped a tiny leg into the white loop of fur over the bigger ones shoulder and held on to his neck. The silver-haired one disappeared in a sphere of white light.

            “Hisato make yourself scarce,” Atsuko ordered the one with dark fur. “It’s okay Rin. You can come out now. Look,” she held up the white haori with cherry colored sleeves, “I have something dry to put on you. You’re shivering.”

            “Sh…shivering?” The word seemed odd. Her hair was wet and clung to her back. The yukata she wore was soaked, sticking to her skin. “C…c…cold.”

            “Come on. Come out. You’re safe,” Atsuko moved one of the branches out of the way, offering her hand once again.

            She looked at the hand, her stomach in her throat.

            “Come on, we’ll have some nice warm tea, and soup for breakfast. Come on,” Atsuko encouraged her.

            She finally took Atsuko’s hand and hobbled out from her hiding place. Atsuko wrapped the silver-haired one’s haori over her wet Yukata. Her feet hurt. She had cuts and scrapes on her legs. Atsuko led her by the hand as if she was a child. Atsuko touched her forehead and tsked her teeth, “you have a fever. Don’t run off again. He’ll have my head. I shouldn’t have said that.”

            “Cold,” the woman whimpered again, shivering as she tried to keep herself warm with the haori that was getting damp. “Hurt,” she shuffled her feet on the forest floor leaning heavily on Atsuko. Something in her stomach was riling. It came faster than she had expected, like volcano then splattered on the forest floor. The rice, fish and vegetables that were half digested landed in a rancid mess near her feet.

            “Was your stomach upset?” Atsuko helped the doubled over woman. She rubbed her between the shoulders. “It’s okay. Just let it up.”

            She gagged and heaved another load of vomit onto the forest floor. When she was done she wiped her mouth. It tasted bitter, salty and acidic in her mouth. As she finished Atsuko gave her another tug to keep walking back to the house.


 

             The shadow chuckled to himself from the bushes observing the woman. He was so close, none would suspect him. None would know who he was, not until it was too late. The children weren’t cooperating as his prey. It didn’t matter, at some point they would be tucked into their beds and he would deal with them. At the moment he stalked behind Rin and her maid as they trudged through the moistened forest floor, back to the manor. Once she was in bed, he would come to her again. She would be his.


 

             Sesshomaru flew through the air as fast as he could, summoning as much of his Yoki as he could, to cut the trip short. He wanted to be home by evening. Yuki hung by the end of his mokomoko, still struggling, clawing and fighting drawing blood that stained the snow-white fur. Each time she tried to climb up his tail, he gave her a violent shake that rolled her back to the end. Meanwhile Harutoga buried himself into Sesshomaru’s back, but then he felt the boy’s hand come off his neck, “I’m flying!” The little boy shrieked and flung his hands out into the air like a bird. Harutoga wavered for a moment and nearly fell. Sesshomaru caught Harutoga’s wrist. It only took a look to remind his son to hang on. Flying was challenging enough with Yuki flailing at the bottom of his mokomoko without dropping her. Sesshomaru forced the wounds she kept slicing into his fur to heal over and over again. Kami he was tired. He needed sleep. He hadn’t slept in a month, not since the last time he had been home.

            As a crescent moon rose high into the sky, stars glittered the air, he heard snoring against his ear. Sesshomaru reached a hand behind his back to steady his son. He touched the scar over his heart with his other hand. His reward and reminder to never forget his bond to Rin, it was twinging painfully again. He could almost make out words to the pain he was feeling. Is it you Rin? Are you calling me?

He had no plan, no idea what to do to help Rin, other than to keep her comfortable and wait until the Miko came. He reached Totosai’s home and threw Yuki into the air, caught her, restrained her hands behind her back. Then he hefted her into Totosai’s home. He used the rest of his Mokomoko to tie Harutoga to his back. Sesshomaru felt small hands tugging on his hair. Harutoga always like tangling his fingers into his father’s hair while he slept.

           The old codger was curled into a ball against the stomach of his three eyed cow snoring.

            Sesshomaru kicked his leg, “wake up old man.” He kicked him again.

            “Oi, Sesshomaru what are you doing?” Totosai heard the snarling and growing of Yuki who was struggling against Sesshomaru’s arms. “Oh, I told you eight years ago to let me make a sword.”

            “I don’t have time for a sword, how do I undo this?” Sesshomaru forced Yuki onto the ground. She was attempting to spray him with her poison again. He folded his clawed hands over hers, forcing her to spray herself. She screamed in pain. It stopped her.

            Totosai scratched his head and then said, “uh…bite her.”

            “What?” Sesshomaru was incredulous.

            “Tetsusaiga was made to prevent Inuyasha from changing using your father’s fang. Therefore, since I can’t make a sword overnight from one of your fangs, just bite her on the back of the neck and use your yoki to calm her. When you’re done, let me take one of your fangs and I’ll bring the sword to your home when it’s done,” Totosai stood up and dusted his clothes off, “now, go ahead and bite her.”

            Sesshomaru rolled his eyes, “how does more Yoki help her stop this? Yuki stop struggling!” She was fighting like a cat that had woken from a bad dream, Sesshomaru’s hands were burned and sliced.

            “Because it’s your yoki. Don’t ask me. That is what your father told me. Just bite her and the transformation will stop,” he folded his arms over his chest, “go ahead, want me to take the other one?”

            “Keep your hands off my son,” Sesshomaru hissed at Totosai. He hefted Yuki up, kicking and screaming, scratching and screeching and sunk his teeth into her the back of her neck until he felt her skin break and tasted her blood. He focused his demonic power into his fangs, then into his daughter, trying to send comforting strength into to her and end the transformation. Yuki swiped at his face, slicing into his cheek. She shrieked one more time and then her body became limp in Sesshomaru’s arms. The whites of her eyes returned as the red receded. Her fangs went back into her mouth. Her claws shortened to the dainty tiny claws she had before. Sesshomaru unclasped his mouth from her neck and spit her blood onto the ground.

            Her eyes fluttered open, “Chichiue?” Yuki asked, “did I do that?” She pointed to his arms.

            He nodded frustrated, “you’ll be fine now. Yuki, we will discuss this tomorrow after you have rested.”

            “What happened?” Yuki stood up and held her bleeding neck.

            “Open up Sesshomaru,” Totosai commanded him.

            Sesshomaru let out a furious growl folded his arms across his chest and opened his mouth. “Take this one,” he pointed to the bottom left one.

            “The top ones work better,” Totosai reached up and yanked out his top left fang, “want me to take the other one for your son?”

            “Very well,” Sesshomaru opened his mouth again. Totosai yanked out his other top fang.

            “You look funny Chichiue,” Yuki laughed covering her face, “I’m sorry I hurt you,” her head was hung in shame.

            Sesshomaru knelt down and opened the mokomoko on his back, “climb on, we need to go home.” He lifted his tongue to the empty spaces in his mouth and was fully planning on punching Totosai but the damn sword maker had already disappeared.

            “Don’t worry Sesshomaru, the teeth will be back in place by morning. I’ll drop these off as soon as they are finished. Make sure your Yuki doesn’t overuse her yoki again.”

            I will not shake my head again. Yuki climbed on to her father’s back, he used his mokomoko to hold her on and then flew into the air once again. By the time the sun was returning, he was home with both children sleeping against his back. He flew to the private entrance in the back of his home towards the forest, and nodded to the sentinel that was guarding the door. He walked into the children’s room in time to hear Rin scream.


 

 Rin’s POV

            The nightmares didn’t stop for her. As soon as she fell back to sleep that morning, another came. This time his eyes were glowing red but he was in the form that she had seen in her room the night before. He grabbed her and forced himself on her while she was bathing at a lake. The dream was so real she could feel the two clawed fingers slithering inside of her and slicing in to her skin. She felt hot. Her throat parching, she curled into a ball just as its teeth came down upon her.

             She woke up screaming to find Atsuko by her bed. Her skin was slick with sweat, her body shaking. She tried to block the bright afternoon sun from getting into her eyes. Atsuko touched her head softly, smoothing the hair from her eyes, “it’s alright, it was just a dream. Your burning up.” Atsuko held a wash cloth in her hand, “lay down.” Atsuko tried to place the cold cloth on her forehead.

            “Dream?” She tried to slither away from the woman offering the cold thing, “dream…dream…so real,” she curled her head to her knees, “cruel? Why am I here?”

            Atsuko’s face looked confused, at least she thought it was confused. Atsuko’s eyes were so dark chocolate they were almost black. “Who is real?” Atsuko tried again to place the cooling cloth on her trembling head.

            “Yokai…house…his house? Why am I here? House…house…yokai house?” Her lungs felt constricted once again, she wanted to pull the covers back over her head, she wanted to scream. “Touch…fingers, inside?” She pushed the cloth away from her forehead.

            “Dreams aren’t always real,” Atsuko tried to tell her, “I’ll bring you lunch.”

            “Prisoner,” She shook her head and buried her face in her knees, “prisoner here, can’t leave, prisoner. Outside, lost, where am I?” She kept mumbling to herself, rocking her body back and forth.


 

             Sesshomaru divested himself of his children directly, into their beds without waking them. They instinctively turned towards each other Harutoga grabbing onto Yuki’s stomach as both drifted deeper into sleep. He listened to Atsuko calming Rin in the other room. Sesshomaru left to meet the maid in the hallway and ask what happened to Rin. He sniffed no intruders. Rin’s words did not make sense to him. She thought he was holding her prisoner? Nothing about any of this made any sense to him. Sesshomaru felt anger bubbling inside of himself again, something, somewhere had to give soon. He allowed his eyes to shutter long enough to regain control of his senses. He left the children’s room and gracefully walked to his red door. “Atsuko,” he caught her attention as she left the room. “She wreaks of fear still and illness.” He could smell her sweat and hear her still muttering to herself. He snuck a peak through the door, Rin rocked and forth in their bed, mumbling and crying.

            “She still has no memory Sesshomaru-sama. She woke from a nightmare. She also has a fever from spending the night in the rain. Forgive me Sesshomaru-sama,” Atsuko rubbed her eyes, “I really do need a break. I can’t stay all day every day,” Atsuko’s eyes widened at her own boldness, she backed away from the Dog Demon and bowed her head. “Forgive me, I shouldn’t have spoken out of turn.”

            “Nightmare? Did she say what it was?” He knew that at times Rin still had the dream of her parents death. It became less frequent the older she became and in the time since they had become intimate with each other, he could count on both hands how many times she had had it. The first time she woke up and nearly stabbed him in the throat with her knife. He held her after that first dream. Future dreams she asked him to wake her if he sensed fear as she slept. The dream came infrequently since that time.

            “I’m not sure. Her words didn’t make sense. Something about he’s real, I think she meant you, and why did he touch her like that? I’m not sure Sesshomaru-sama. I must get her lunch. Do we plan on letting her leave the room?”

            “Yes, but do not allow her to see any of the non-human staff, Hisato,” he turned to the guard that was near her door, “stay with the children. Now that I am home I will take over Rin’s guard. Atsuko treat her fever.”

            Atsuko’s face visibly paled as she ran her balled fists around the blackened circles of her eyes. “I’m sorry,” she yawned. “I don’t have the herbs in storage. Rin…well before all this happened, she was going to go to the community garden and restock. We were out of the ones for fever and some of the ones she uses to treat the injuries the children get.”

            He exhaled loudly, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Send for the healer then. Jaken!” He bellowed down the hall knowing the urchin would be in Sesshomaru’s study.

            Jaken came flying, feet pattering against the stone floor, “yes Sesshomaru-sama?”

            “Prepare the guest rooms in the public hall. The Fox-demons are coming. Ichiro is most likely going to have a very unpleasant response when he discovers I killed two of his emissaries. Keep Hideyoshi, Sato, Kiyoshi and Tadashi in the village. Speak to Akari’s husband have him join the guard and any others. Did our messenger reach Koga?”

            “It’s only been a day,” Jaken gently reminded him.

            A single hand went flying into the marbled wall crushing the granite. His hand came out scratched and bleeding. “Prepare the private guest rooms, Inuyasha is coming.”

            “You called on him?” Jaken scoffed. “What good is a hanyou.”

            “Need I remind you, my children are Hanyou?” Sesshomaru hissed at Jaken.

            “True. I’ll have the rooms prepared immediately,” Jaken bowed and scuttled off.

            “I’ll be in the garden.”

            “She can see the garden from the room,” Atsuko argued.

            “She will not see me. When you return to give her lunch. Ask her about the dream,” Sesshomaru countered. How can she dream about someone she doesn’t remember? Something strange is going on.

            Atsuko went on her way toward the kitchen. Sesshomaru whirled around, gripped Hisato by the neck, “now explain to me why you thought it would be a good idea to take my eight year old daughter into a forest teeming with yokai?”

            A green whip snaked from Hisato’s hand and flew at Sesshomaru’s neck. Sesshomaru batted it aside without losing his grip on Hisato.

            “You forget cousin, my blood is pure. Yours isn’t. Your tricks have no effect on this Sesshomaru and I would think twice before reaching for your swords,” he tightened his grip. Sesshomaru’s claws dug into Hisato’s neck enough to draw driblets of blood.

            “Perhaps,” Hisato coughed and sputtered, “ask yourself…if your…eight year old…listens to you.”

            Sesshomaru considered the answer for a moment, he tossed Hisato against the wall. Hisato landed with a thud, massaging the bruise on his neck. “She would have gone anyway Sesshomaru-sama. I felt she would be safer if she was with me.”

            “Safe?” The silver-haired demon scoffed. “Are you aware of what happened to her?”

            “The transformation?” Hisato didn’t need confirmation. “Yes-”

             “Then you should have known that if she felt like her life or safety were in a greater danger than she could defend, her demon blood! My blood takes over her!”

              Hisato dodged a fist flying at his face. He leapt out of the way of Sesshomaru’s whip, then removed one sword sending a warning shot of white light at Sesshomaru.” Something is wrong Sesshomaru-sama! Both children have complained of head-aches!” At this rate the two were going to smash the house. Hisato attempted to fly out the back entrance to move scuffle. He was yanked back by the neck from Sesshomaru’s whip.

              Sesshomaru came to an abrupt halt, “head-aches?” He straightened his clothing.

              “Yes. Harutoga and Yuki, something is wrong. I’m not sure what. In the forest Yuki, complained of a head-ache right before her eyes turned red.”

               Sesshomaru ignored the answer. Just as he was about to open the door to the children’s room Hisato began again, “she said the Sakura tree was familiar.”

               At least you remember something, “you’re dismissed Hisato. Watch the children.”

                “You don’t find it the least bit odd that Rin has lost her memories and neither Yuki or Harutoga can remember what happened that day?”

                 He had no answer for that. It was odd. If they had suffered an injury, their yoki would have healed them already. He refused to answer, instead he entered the children’s room and unlocked their high rising teal door to the garden. He opened it and let the afternoon air fill his lungs. Where in the past he would have sat at the bottom of the sakura tree, he flew into the branches and found a perch where he could see his bedroom, and watch Rin, still curled in a ball, still rocking back and forth. Sesshomaru closed his eyes, and let his sensitive ears reach into the bedroom.

            “Scared, so scared, alone, prisoner, why am I here. Claws, claws touching me, why are they touching me, big dog, scary, white fur, moon, why am I in a demon’s home?”

            My heart, he knuckled his forehead and gritted his teeth, how do I bring you back? You know our sakura tree. Come back to me.


 

             Torikku the Healer came later in the day to check on Rin. Sesshomaru was doubly impressed when the goat face suddenly changed into that of a dark skinned man with long black hair. His odd hoof-like hands shifted into human fingers and for all that couldn’t sense his yoki, Torikku now looked human. Sesshomaru watched wearily from his perch as Torikku entered. He did look and even smelled like a normal human man in his mid-thirties with a short beard. Rin backed away from him. Torikku insisted he was a healer there to make sure she had recovered from her injuries and to check the fever.

            “Injuries? Fever?”

Sesshomaru saw her checking her body. She had no memories of those either.

            “You were brought here after you were hurt in the forest. You had gashes on your back, and your face, but you were given special medicine and they are healed now.” She allowed Torikku to check her head and the rest of her body for injuries.

            He removed a bag of herbs from his pocket, requesting a hot tea-kettle. Atsuko hung one over the fire. He made a sashay for her. He encouraged her to eat and try to walk around. “The fever should subside in time. She should make sure to drink and rest.”

            “Leave?” That was Rin’s voice.

            “You’re not a prisoner here, Rin,” Atsuko spoke sweetly, like she was talking to a child, “you can leave this room whenever you want. If you go left, there is an exit into the forest, and if you go right, you will find a long corridor, a small kitchen and dining area, Sesshomaru-sama’s study and past that is the public part of your home.”

            “Who is Rin? My home?”

Sesshomaru wanted to yell at them to stop trying to convince her that she belonged here or what her name was.

            “Perhaps when she is up to it a walk through the forest?” Torikku suggested to Atsuko and then left the room into the hallway.  

            Sesshomaru folded his arms from his perch and let his head fall back against the tree. He inspected his mouth with his tongue. His fangs were already growing back. His arms would be healed in a matter of hours. He felt like he was fighting a war on two fronts, but neither battle required fighting but patience. Yuki and her damn yoki flaring out of control and Rin, who was lost to herself. He wanted to go into the room and hold her to him, fold her body into his, and rescue her from the maze that was now her brain.

            “Nice?” he heard Rin’s voice, “does he live nearby?”

            “Many people live nearby. This is Sesshomaru-sama’s land,” Atsuko sat with Rin in a motherly way. Sesshomaru could see the maid brushing Rin’s hair, his heart clenched again. It should be me with her.

            “Wh…who?” Rin’s voice was still tremulous with fear.

            “This is house,” Atsuko encouraged Rin, “he was the man, well yokai that you saw last night. He won’t hurt you. He really is kind.”

            I am not kind. I have become less blood thirsty. I’m getting old. 918 years old, I’m my father, and I’m old. He rebuked himself firmly.

            “What are you doing up there Chichi-ue?” Yuki blocked the sun with her hands.

            “Come up quickly,” Sesshomaru demanded, “you cannot let Ka-san see you. I thought you were sleeping.”

            Yuki jumped into one of the branches and climbed into her father’s lap sitting down with her back against his chest, “she still doesn’t know us does she? I could hear it from my room. It woke me up.”

            “No,” Sesshomaru replied, “until she does Yuki, listen to me, “ he rest his head on top of hers, “she is scared. Perhaps when she is used to being here, we can try, but right now...”

            “She thinks we’re monsters,” Yuki interrupted.

            He gripped her shoulders, “do not interrupt me,” Sesshomaru scolded her, “but yes, she thinks we’re monsters. You and Harutoga both must keep your distance until she is no longer afraid.”

            “Chi-chiue?” She rubbed the back of her neck, the bite marks were still there poking up from her skin.

            Sesshomaru didn’t want to answer, he was still focused on listening to what was being said inside, her bedroom. He felt something poke his chest and then the rest where his chin had been moved causing his head to drop. It was replaced by two little arms around his waist and soft whimpers. “It’s my fault Chi-chiue,” Yuki shook against him, “I can’t remember what happened. I want mama back.”

            “Shh,” he pressed his lips to her forehead, “shh, go back to sleep my little one,” he wiped her tears. “We will find out what happened.”

Chapter Text

            Touma sat in the tree near where the barrier used to end, straddling a thick branch and whistling to himself while twirling his thick white locks in his fingers. He was waiting…he was very good at waiting. He had spent centuries waiting for the right time to get back at his brother for the loss of his eye. A few more weeks or even a month wouldn’t make a difference. “He hasn’t left,” he chortled happily. “Are you so worried about your human Sesshomaru?”

            “That he would be,” the Shadow came out from behind a tree. “Do you have some death wish that you keep returning here?”

             “Do I?” Touma propped his heels on the branch. “Perhaps. I hear her screams at night,” he traced lines over his chest, “is she as beautiful terrified as I imagine?”

             “Even more so,” the shadow smiled, revealing a mouth full of yellowing teeth. “So beautiful.”

             “Does she hate him?” His one good eye focused on the sky counting the stars that were visible through the chunks of grey clouds. “It’s going to rain again.”

             “It’s a process. She can’t stand the sight of him,” the shadow gloated. “I need to return. Do not come here again Touma. These visits, he’s watching his village closely. You will be noticed.”

              “You think the you’re the only one in his service that is under my influence?” Touma scoffed. “Finish your work.” He faded into the night. Perhaps he needs an even bigger distractions. Something he can’t ignore.


 

               Days passed agonizingly slow. Sesshomaru spent the majority of his time high in the sakura tree away from Rin’s view. At night he etched images into the boughs of the sakura tree in frustration. She was terrified, and it never ended. There was never a moment when fear wasn’t wafting from the room she was in. Not even when Atsuko took her for a walk in the garden or showed her the edges of the forest. Rin could barely stand for the tremors in her legs. If she caught sight of Sesshomaru she wailed in fear and hid behind the maid. In the days since she woke, Rin’s speech had almost completely deteriorated. She went from being able to speak simple sentences, to barely being able to stammer out single words. The chain that fled her lips hardly made sense anymore.


 

              Four nights in Sesshomaru was surprised to find Harutoga and Yuki underneath the Sakura tree with their small eyes looking up to his perch and their blankets and pillows in their hands. The glistening crystals on their cheeks and the smell of salt in the air let him know that both of them had been crying. Their hands shook against the soft blankets. He leapt down from the tree, landing next to them and sat down against the sakura tree. “What is it?”

            “Can we sleep with you?” Yuki asked.

            And that is how their bedding ended up underneath the Sakura tree. I’m getting soft, no I am soft, if my enemies saw this… He thought to rebuke Yuki and Harutoga for only a second before his mind tracked back to the night he had found Rin sleeping in their room. They missed their mother and as his father always said, “when the mother is gone, the father is the next best thing.” Instead of rebuking them he took their blankets and spread them beneath the sakura tree, lay down their pillows and sat down with one child on either side of his legs as they used his hips as pillows to cuddle with and quickly drifted off to a deep sleep. He didn’t think about what to do in the morning. She would wake, Atsuko would bring her to the hot-springs to bathe and he had no intention of moving them.  Deep down, he hoped that Rin would be forced to accept him and their children.


 

 Rin’s POV

            Flowing white hair draped over her. Angry fingers assaulted her. They cut into the skin of her back drawing blood. It cut into her left wrist, dragging a trail of blood up her arm. The next time it went up her shoulder, then the wet tongue drank her blood. When it plunged inside of her she screamed in pain. He was evil. He would destroy her.

             She jolted awake quaking in fear. The door immediately opened and the one called Atsuko entered. She was clammy, covered in sweat. Her stomach was roiling. It all happened to quickly, the feel of acid burning, the bubbling, the sick taste of rotten egg in her mouth. It splattered on the futon, onto the floor, a river of vomit fled her mouth. She nearly choked on the bitter lye taste filling her mouth. It ended up covering her clothes, most of the bed and matting into her hair.

            Atsuko covered her nose while she bent down rubbing the woman’s back as if she were a child. “Better out then in,” she tried to make light of the situation. “You’re not well.” She touched the woman’s forehead. “No fever. I don’t understand, this is the third time this has happened. Come on,” she held the woman under the arm and helped her stand. “Let’s get this off.”

            She complied with being undressed. Lost for words. Her hair knotted around her face making it difficult for her to see. She was supposed to use a thing called a brush, but she couldn’t remember what it was.

            “Let’s get you washed,” Atsuko smiled leading her to the hot springs. The maid paused when she opened the door. The thing leaned against the sakura tree, head back, eyes closed, breath coming slowly.

            “No…evil….” She whimpered. “Evil.”

            “He won’t hurt you,” Atsuko tugged her arm.

            She dug her heals in, refusing to move. He would hurt her, that was all he did was hurt her. She hadn’t noticed before a snake like scar that went up one of her wrists. It was then she understood the dreams were real, they were  a warning. She had to get away from him, away from this house. She yanked her arm away from Atsuko throwing the maid into the wall and fled from the home, past the garden and into the forest.

            “Rin-sama come back! Dammit!”

            Tree branches slapped her face, pines dug into the heels of her feet. Her lungs burned and then slapped into something hard and nearly fell backwards but was caught by two clawed hands. Terrified she glanced up and then screamed. “NO!” She sobbed. “No, please.”

            “Shh,” he tried to pull her to his chest but she fought viciously, thrashing like a wild-badger caught in a trap. “Stop,” he ordered her, frustration lacing the word. He pinned her arms to her waist and rose into the air still holding her.

            “No…evil…bad…red eyes…white dog.”

            “How do you know that?” The thing questioned her. He landed in front of the house still holding her. “Stop struggling.”

            His voice, she knew that voice. It taunted her in her dreams. “Evil…” She fell to her knees defeated unable to escape his grip.

            “The forest is not safe,” he said firmly. “Did she throw up?”

            She was buried in a mess of silver hair, pressed against a warm chest that she could feel the defined muscles through the thin silk of his underlayer. “Warm,” she stopped thrashing as two fingers found the joint of his collar bone.

            “Yes,” the maid’s voice came. “She had a nightmare, another one. I’ll clean it up, then I’ll clean her up.” She sounded on the verge of illness herself.

            Sesshomaru sat still, unmoving as the fingers pressed against his throat. She closed her eyes. Something, beyond the thing that kept making her head burn, “ow,” she held the side of her head. “Ow,” she whimpered.

            “Shh,” why did he have to sound so soothing? “Does it hurt?”

            Hands, clawed hands, came up and massaged her temples, rubbing them in small circular motions. She folded in on herself, raising her knees, hiding her eyes in the canyon of her body. “Hurt,” she muttered.

            The fingers continued. One eye watched them. How could claws so deadly feel so nice. He squatted next to her, massaging her head. When she finally dared to look at his face, the crescent moon was a vicious reminder of the dog that attacked her in her sleep. “No!” She batted his hands off her and ran back into the room, finding solace in the corner of the room in the arms of the maid.


 

             A week later Taisho and Sota arrived without their parents. Kagome needed more time researching through the library, whatever that was in her time to find information on amnesia. Sesshomaru sat in a circle with the other sentinels in the wide green field just in front of the lake. He had not heard a response from Ichiro. He was aware that the ogres were pushing back some of the territory that was his. He had a tent erected on purpose, away from the home to deal with the several issues that were piling up. Koga had finally arrived with a pack of wolves and wolf-yokai. Hinatamaru came with a gigantic contingent of forty fox children. Shippo was front and center next to Hinatamaru. He sat on the low table Jaken had prepared while the other yokai kept to themselves. The white walls of his tent blew in the wind. In the distance he saw Rin in the garden with Torikku and Taisho. Sota whose white hair and pointed ears would give him away  paced back and forth in the tent. Hinatamaru and Shippo drank a hot dark, bitter liquid on the other side of the table.

            Off to the side of the tent Hisato also stared into the field where Rin was. Yuki and Harutoga played a game of tag with some of the other village children around the tent. Without a mother to watch them, Sesshomaru kept them closer to him.

            Hinatamaru pointed at the garden where it looked like humans only were tilling, harvesting and planting seeds, “as you can see, they are quite capable to put on a rather grand illusion. In fact I’m happier to do it this way. In the past we spend our time tricking wayfarers. This forces their skills.”

            Sesshomaru nodded in agreement.

            “Shippo told me that she has no memories? What happened? She wasn’t like this when we were here a month ago?” Hinatamaru kept a watch on the children circling the village.

            “None of your concern,” Sesshomaru replied coolly. The last thing he needed was for them to think that he couldn’t protect his own. “I expect discretion. Shippo and no more than two other fox children will be in close proximity to Rin. You will not disguise me or my children. As for the other judges that participate in this game of yours, you will not divulge the reason for the change of venue. You will respect our privacy.”

            “Not a problem. So to clarify, you want us to trick Rin, without the villagers or other members of the house being aware? Except for those in your closest circle?” Hinatamaru picked up his blackened bowl of raw meat.

            “Exactly,” the Inu-yokai replied.

            “We can do that. I like this,” Hinatamaru rose from his place. “You can trust my female with your privacy Sesshomaru-sama. She helps judge.”

            He considered the elder fox-demons words. He had an inner circle made of Hisato, Akari and Atsuko who knew more of their most intimate moments than others, but he had yet to make allies that he would consider safe. He was taking a risk with Hinatamaru. Shippo was loyal to Rin. “You may tell her, but no one else. You’re dismissed.”

            “Um…what if the villagers want to talk to Rin?” Shippo bounced up.

            “Can you impersonate her?” Sesshomaru wondered.

            A pink cloud made a large poof and suddenly Rin was standing in front of him.

            Sesshomaru stifled a small cough and avoided spitting out the liquid he had just put into his mouth, “you do not smell like her.”

            “Um…Hinatamaru-sama am I allowed to ask for advice? How do I smell like her?” The voice sounded like Rin’s.

            Hinatamaru laughed, “if we’re going to do it right to serve Sesshomaru-sama you will have to learn. Come to me for lessons at the end of each evening once she is asleep.”

            The two left the tent.

            “Jaken, call in Koga,” Sesshomaru picked up a quill and began sorting through messages sent from other allies that were also expecting meetings.

            Sota immediately cleaned the table and set out fresh cups of the dark liquid and raw meat.

            “Chichiue are you done yet?” Yuki ran into the tent.

            “Go play,” he waved his hand.

            “This is taking too long. I want to go to the village,” Yuki stomped her foot.

            “Hisato take her,” Sesshomaru faced the guard.

            “Yuki,” Hisato cautioned her.

            “Dog breath,” she folded her arms defiantly. “I’m going to the village.”

            “You’ll stay here,” Hisato let loose his whip in warning. “Now out of the tent. Chichiue has to finish his meetings.”

            “This sucks!” Yuki shrieked and fled the tent.

            Jaken ran from the tent, called to Koga, who entered with Ayame next to him and a younger female ookami. He inclined his head to Sesshomaru.

            “Koga,” Sesshomaru bared his teeth. He had reason to trust Koga. Inuyasha did. Koga had battled against Naraku and saved Rin once as a child. Not only that, when Rin was a child in the village, he often found Koga’s wolves circling the perimeter. “You once told Rin that you owed her a favor should she ever need one because you killed her. You will return that favor now.”


 

             Jaken explained who Koga was. They ran into each other in the forest. Jaken asked if it was really okay to let Koga considering that it was his wolves that had killed Rin. Sesshomaru replied coldly that he didn’t need any unnecessary battles. He was going to find Naraku and kill him. When the dust settled, Naraku was destroyed and Rin was left in the village, Koga and Ayame came to visit Kagome after they had their first child. They didn’t know that the Miko was gone, not to return for three years. When he arrived with a small portion of his pack, Rin screamed an ear shattering yelp and ran to Sesshomaru who was visiting.

            Koga heard it and came to see what was wrong. Rin cowered behind Sesshomaru’s leg. She shivered as small tears fell from her eyes. “Leave wolf,” Sesshomaru stood firmly in front of Rin.

            “I…” Koga paused nervously, “well I wanted to apologize, for what my wolves did to the kid.”

            “Rin come out,” Sesshomaru stepped to the side exposing the child. She ran behind his legs again, this time holding onto the material behind his hikama. He gave his knee a shake, “come out.”

            She came out fumbling her fingers with her face downcast. She was just eight years old. Sesshomaru knew she could not comprehend the gravity of a yokai apologizing for a past action. He knelt down on one knee and said softly, “listen to Koga.”

            “He’s scary,” she whispered back just as quietly. She also had no clue at the time that Koga’s hearing was as acute as his own.

            “I won’t hurt you again kid,” Koga joined them on his knee. “I didn’t really give a damn about humans then. I’m sorry.” He motioned one of the wolves over with his hand. He patted the ground. The brown wolf with a white slash down its face lay on its belly. “He’s not so scary. I owe you one kid. Whenever you need it.” He stroked the fur of the wolf encouraging Rin to do the same.

            At Sesshomaru’s prodding, Rin came forward and began petting the beast. The frown that marred her face, slowly turned into the cheek to cheek grin he loved about her.


 

             “I did say that didn’t I,” Koga sat with crossed legs with Ayame next to him. The younger female’s face was hard and silent. “What do you need?”

            “My southern border reinforced,” Sesshomaru replied eating some of his own raw meat.

            “Who do I get to kill?” Koga asked gleefully.

            “Ogres,” the Inu-yokai answered.

            “Excellent,” Koga grinned viciously.

            A white tent-flap was thrown aside as white haired Hideyoshi and black haired Sato came flying in. “Sesshomaru-sama,” they bowed not waiting for permission. “Ichiro-sama is outside the village.”

            “Dammit,” Sesshomaru cursed rising while unsheathing his katana.

            “Trouble?” Koga asked.

            “Sota, discretely get to your brother and move Rin back to the estate,” he said quickly to the boy. “Hisato, get the children to safety.”

            “Yes Sesshomaru-sama,” Hisato disappeared into a flash of energy taking a protesting Yuki and Harutoga with him.

            Sesshomaru flew from the tent to the edge of the village. Just outside the scattered huts that contained demons, humans and hanyou children he found the proud leopard demon. He was slightly shorter than Sesshomaru but thicker in muscles. “You invite everyone but me to this important meeting of yours Dog Lord.” Ichiro mocked him. His black striped hands rested on his hips.

            Sesshomaru gripped Bakusaiga’s hilt. The breeze carried the scent of at least thirty other leopard demons surrounding them.

            “You offend me, Sesshomaru,” Ichiro stalked forward. His skin was darkened and tinted orange. He had claws at the ends of his fingers.

            “Your presence is unnecessary,” Sesshomaru stated flatly.

            “But theirs is?” Ichiro flicked his eyebrows behind Sesshomaru.

            He didn’t need to turn. He could both smell and hear that Koga and the two female wolf-demons had followed him. They were surrounded by six of his wolves. Koga stood arrogantly with his arms folded over his chest.

            Sesshomaru waited as Rin’s scent drifted further away. He felt rushes of four more yokis landing next to him as his other sentinels landed in the clearing.

            “Are you looking for a battle Sesshomaru?” Ichiro laughed malevolently.

            “Do you want a battle?” Sesshomaru channeled his yoki into Bakusaiga. The blade glowed green under the pressure of his hand.

            “I’ve heard of that sword. It’s said it can wipe out a thousand yokai in one blow. I’d love to add it to my collection,” Ichiro mocked.

            “Why have you come Ichiro?”

            “You want a portion of my lands? I think that’s reason enough to inquire after you. You usually only spend a day home before returning to prowl my lands. Did something awful happen to that human lover of yours?”

            Something in that sentence made Sesshomaru’s ire flare. “Bakusaiga!” He released the green lightning energy at Ichiro. It singed the trees and the tops of the grass.

            Ichiro chuckled leaping out of the way, while cackles floated across the wind from his followers. “I wondered at the power of that katana. Thank you for showing me.”

            “Ichiro, speak your next words wisely,” Sesshomaru hissed through clenched teeth ready to attack.

            “What lands do you want me to concede?” Ichiro folded his arms.

            “From the northern river to the mountains,” Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes, attempting to understand what Ichiro was asking.

            “They’re snake infested,” Ichiro scoffed covering his jagged mouth. His orange hair blew in a gale.

            “I am aware as I am aware the snakes refuse to swear fealty to you, which means they aren’t really your lands,” Sesshomaru sheathed his katana.

            “And in return to this concession?”

            “An alliance.”

            “Of what kind?”

            “We aid each other in battle when needed, share trade and supplies. Provide protection.”

            “With someone who shelters hanyous and demons who have fallen to human manipulations?” Ichiro’s laugh rose.

            “You accepted my father,” he stalked forward. “Agree to the treaty Ichiro, or your pure-blood will not save you from my wrath.” Word by word he approached closer until his face was only inches from Ichiro. “Are you responsible for the attack against my home.”

            “No,” the leopard demon answered quickly.

            “Do you know who was?”

            “No.”

            There was no lie on his lips. Internally Sesshomaru cursed. “Do you concede?”

            “I want proof that your human is what she is famed to be,” Ichiro whispered. “It’s said she is a warrior of cunning and strength. I would like to see her in battle.”

            “Impossible,” he had no idea if she would remain in her childlike state.

            “Make it happen and I will concede,” Ichiro cocked his head sideways.

            “If you need proof of strength, you will battle me. Now is not the time,” Sesshomaru pivoted, meaning to walk away.

            “Humans make such weak lovers Sesshomaru,” Ichiro raised a hand.

            “Look out!” Koga yelled.

            Sesshomaru whirled around, grabbing Ichiro by the throat and slammed the leopard demon onto the ground. He released a slow and steady stream of dokkasu from his hand, “understand this Ichiro. My relationship with a human is none of your concern. You will concede your lands because I will dispose of a vermin that you have yet to be able to subdue in the last three centuries. If you question the strength of this Sesshomaru,” he tightened his grip causing the bones in the neck to crack, and Ichiro to gasp for air, “you will face me and your reputation will that of a coward that was unable to break the stronghold of the snake yokai.”

            “I concede,” Ichiro rasped. “You may have the lands you request.”

            “Take your vermin and get off my lands,” Sesshomaru flew into the air. “Koga, you have your orders. Sentinels, return to your post.”


 

             “Think they’ll take us seriously?” Taisho wondered while he leaned against his sword trying to copy Hisato’s defiant position.

            “Probably not,” Hisato said lightly. “Remember not to speak out of turn and respect those of us that have been here longer. You are not sentinels. You are your uncles nephews.”

            “We can fight too,” Sota said defiantly ticking his claws on his hilt.

            “With katanas that have not awoken?” Sato who sported the same black hair, high cheek bones and facial stripes as his brother Hisato said as he walked in and sat at the low table.

            “I have claws and blades,” Sota protested.

            “And what does that one have?” Hideyoshi whose hair was white and went down to his waist scoffed while entering. “I can barely sense your yoki.”

            “I have enough,” Taisho combed a nervous hand through his black matted hair and sat down.

            “Is this his idea of a joke?” Tadashi and Kiyoshi finally joined them.

            “We’re not a joke,” Sota flexed his claws.

            “Easy young one,” Hisato pulled him back by the shoulder.

            “Starting without me?” Sesshomaru strode in last with Yuki and Harutoga trailing behind him.

            “Why do I have to be here?” The little girl complained.

            “To keep you out of trouble,” Kiyoshi told her.

            “Shut-up stupid mutt!” She raised her hand in the air, covering her claws in green mist.

            “Enough Yuki,” Sesshomaru reprimanded her. “Sit in the corner,” he pointed to the wall. “Harutoga join her.”

            “We’re here to discuss safety, not fight. These are my nephews. They are capable warriors. Hisato you will continue to guard the children. Hideyoshi, Tadashi and Kiyoshi, you will move your post to the outer skirts where the barrier used to reside. Sato you will remain in the village. Sota and Taisho will take over guarding the perimeter of the home.” He had never bothered sitting. “In the evenings you will all take turns training my nephews. Return to your posts.” As they all exited he caught Sota’s arm, “where is the Monk?”

            “Coming as soon as he can. They have quite a few children now. He is arranging for Kohaku to come and stay with Sango until he returns,” Sota said quickly. “Um…how do I know who is supposed to be here and who isn’t?”

            “Use your nose,” Sesshomaru left the room, “Yuki! Harutoga!” He called his children. They trailed after him with bored expressions on their faces.


 

             “I am not asking him that!” Akari sat at the servants table in the public dining hall over a bowl of steamed vegetables and meat.

            “As if you haven’t noticed that Rin-sama has been throwing up in the morning?” Atsuko sat next to her with a ball of rice and broccoli. “Akari please,” Atsuko lifted a steaming cup of ginger tea. “Please, what if she is? If we aren’t careful which herbs she gets for the headaches or rests enough, they could lose it.”

            “Why can’t you ask?” Akari felt frazzled. Her red hair stood on edge, reflecting her mood.

            “Jaken!” Atsuko called the demon who sat alone in another corner of the long dining hall. It was empty save for them.

            “What human?” Jaken sneered.

            “Come here so we don’t have to yell!” Akari raised an orange finger at him threateningly.

            “Oh fine,” he got up and walked over to them, leaving Nintojo in the corner where his food was. He joined them at their table and whispered, “what is it?”

            “Do you know if they were trying to have another baby?” Akari asked him expectantly. She picked up another spoonful of stew. “Her stomach hasn’t been well.”

            “She’s been terrified. Humans often throw up when they are constantly scared and you said it yourself Atsuko, the nightmares are getting worse. She can’t even look at Sesshomaru-sama without crying anymore,” Jaken folded his boney arms. “Honestly, thinking she is pregnant. They were happy with the two they have. Dog-demons don’t have children this quickly anyway,” he got up from his chair and left.

            “He’s clueless,” Akari rolled her eyes. “Hisato?”

            “Kami you would talk to him?” Atsuko questioned her.

            “Has her cycle come? I make her cloths and she hasn’t asked,” she covered her mouth, “would she even know what it was?”

            “I wash her laundry and there are no stains,” Atsuko shook her head. “Someone has to ask him.”

            “Ask him what?” Hisato came in from behind them.

            “Aren’t you supposed to be watching the children?” Akari asked him.

            “They are with their father,” he sat down next to Atsuko. “What’s going on? You both smell like someone dipped you in Jaken’s cowering nerves.”

            “You can hear what happens at night between them right?” Akari leaned forward, keeping her voice low. “Even from the garden?”

            He nodded awkwardly rapping his fingers on the table. “What are you two going on about?”

            “You’re a dog demon…we didn’t know she was pregnant with Harutoga until she told us. My husband and I have children easily, you know that,” Akari said proudly.

            “It’s not so easy for my husband and I. He can only impregnate me every blue moon, which is only every two to three years,” Atsuko blushed, “and I’m not always at my time when I can have a child then. That’s why we only have one,” she covered her blush.

            “Yes one,” Akari laughed at her knowing full-well that Atsuko had another in her stomach.

            “Hisato, what is like for dog-demons? Did you know when they were trying for Harutoga?” Atsuko asked innocently.

            “I knew…I’m not sure. He wasn’t home very long last time, barely a few days. You think Rin-sama is pregnant?” Hisato rubbed his chin stressed. “This situation is just getting worse.” He rest his forehead in his hands. “It’s not so easy for us either. Female periods of fertility only come once a century. Males have to channel a primal, often powerful energy that overpowers our senses. They were always cautious because he has injured her in the past.”

            Atsuko dropped her spoon sending specks of rice flying that stuck against Hisato’s face. “That night, after he came back the last time. He sent me to the room with a bucket of water saying that Rin-sama had…oh kami…” She drank a large glass of water to staunch her roiling stomach before she threw up.

            “You have to ask him,” Akari held Hisato’s hands.

            “That is not part of my job,” he rose from the table. “If you suspect it. Then I highly suggest speaking to Sesshomaru-sama. Rin-sama, in her current state would not be able to tell you and do it soon,” he said quietly as he left the table back to the corridor.

            “Oh kami,” Akari leaned against the wall. The chill of the marble helped to calm her breathing. “You better tell them soon Atsuko. You’re starting to show.”

            “Am I?” She held her hand over her own growing bump. “We lost the last one,” she whispered. “We wanted to wait until I was four months. Who is there to tell? I can work until the baby comes. I wanted Rin-sama to deliver it.”

            “We’ll get her back by then,” Akari rose from the ground. “I’m going home for a while. I’ll be back tonight. I’ll get some herbs from Torikku-sama for her stomach.”

            “You can’t say she is pregnant,” Atsuko stood up next to her.

            “You don’t know that she is,” Akari reminded her.

            “Trust me,” Atsuko followed her to the entrance. “Just tell him, her stomach hasn’t been settling.”


 

             Days passed. At night while Sesshomaru leaned against the heavy boughs of their sakura tree, Rin would wake throughout the night filling the warm summer hours with her terrified screams. Akari resumed her position as the night-maid. She would come rushing into the room to assuage Rin’s panic and agitation. Sesshomaru’s hackle rose as he overheard Rin’s descriptions of a great white dog attacking her, or a demon in the form of a human clawing at her back. There was a sick familiarity to the dreams as if they were being taken from memories of their time together then perverted into sadistic nightmares of torture. The first ramble of words he recognized was the first time he made love to Rin by the sakura tree, when he became feral and bonded her accidently inflicting a few scratches in the wake of the yoki that raged through his body. The second dream was of the time Sesshomaru indulged in hide and seek with Rin and Kohaku in the field of daisies that was now part of their home. How could such pleasant memories be turned into nightmares when she could barely remember the names of foods when she woke?


 

            The shadow was winning. There was nothing to stop him. No one knew how close he was or how often he found himself in her bed. Alone he could torment her mind and feed her nightmares. Such easy prey, when she had been neglected. So much pain to distort and use to his gain. Her life had not been easy. Family killed as a child, fending for herself or years, used as a tool as manipulation by the hanyou Naraku then abandoned. Yes, abandoned. He would make her believe that he had already left her, that she was no longer important to him. Soon…he just needed a little longer. Just a little longer.

Chapter Text

           As the days wore on, Sesshomaru spent several hours in the grove of magnolias and pisceas, where Rin was found looking for anything that wasn’t washed away by the  summer rains. He was desperate, the answers had to be there. If he could just figure out what attacked her, he could bring her back. He searched smells. His hands ran along the rocks. He pulled limbs of trees out of the way. He tried to piece together the battle from the marks he saw. Rin’s sword charred four trees near their bases, and brought down a sapling. There was no sign the children were with her that night. No matter how many times he came, there was nothing more to get from the grass, the nettles that littered the forest floor, or the leaves, except that Rin fought something out there, was mortally wounded, until Hisato brought her back to the home, where she rested at deaths door until Sesshomaru used his blood to heal her. He questioned Hisato over and over, but there was nothing left to gain from that conversation.


 

             “Why didn’t Hisato use his blood on Ka-san?” Harutoga asked one morning while he tried to find his father and hide from Yuki.

            Hide and seek was a classic child’s game. Even as she was, Sesshomaru refused to neglect his children’s training. The last thing he wanted was for them to grow up to be like their uncle who was impulsive and imprecise when he battled. They would be stronger and more cunning. During this session Sesshomaru’s yoki was masked while he hid high on a limb of a magnolia.

            “His great-grandmother is human,” Yuki answered, “right Chichiue? It only works if your blood is pure? I’m going to find you Haru, you’re breathing too loud.”

            “Correct,” Sesshomaru used his yoki to spread his voice out around the field. There was nothing that Hisato could have done. Then what was it? What made her loose her memories.

            Life was forced to continue. He took on more of Rin’s duties with the children. He created a new routine, he woke them in the morning, dragged them out of bed to breakfast to eat something, instructed the maids to dress them and then began their training. Sesshomaru had fond memories of training with his own father. it started with learning about his sense of smell. Harutoga caught on quickly. Sesshomaru increased the drills difficulty, including how to find someone who had crossed through a river, and how to lose someone following your smell. Harutoga’s whip was still small and practically useless. Sesshomaru created targets for him anyway, encouraging him to focus his strength and make the whip longer.

            Yuki’s training was of a completely different nature. She was old enough to learn basic movements and drills. Head stands, hand stands, flips, basic stances and fighting skills. It was her temper that he spent the most time teaching her to reign in. He taught her about meditating, calm breathing and when she complained of boredom he pushed her to her limits until her temper flared and they began the exercise over again. He knew soon he would need to explain to her about the dangers of letting her yoki take over and transforming the way she had. He could lose her and the thought of losing Yuki and Rin made him want to heave. Too many emotions…


 

            Early one morning before he woke the children he stopped by Rin’s door. She was near hyperventilating again, screaming about claws, sharp teeth and stripes lashing out at her. The tender voice of Akari was in the room attempting to calm Rin. Once again he had to steady himself against the stone walls of his home. Sesshomaru felt the walls rough instead of smooth, more claw marks. He had dug his nails into this part of the wall before in frustration over the last two weeks. He recalled the moments in the garden where she had briefly allowed him to touch her skull. He thumbed his scar, grimacing at its burning, almost as if it was talking to him. She thought he was evil, she was scared of him. He needed to do something to counter that.

             Akari exited the room shaking her head, “another nightmare. Why does she have such dreams of you? Did you harm her in some way in the past?” As the door closed a pop and a pink cloud revealed Shippo who giggled and caught a sutra. Akari turned around as she did her form changed from human slowly into her hanyou fire cat form, her brown eyes changed to glowing red. Black hair to bright red like the a blood colored sun.

            “Oh come on, that was a good illusion, she didn’t even know!” Another paper floated from the air, Shippo read it carefully, “shut-up or she’ll hear you?” Shippo grunted annoyed, took one look at Sesshomaru and ran down the hall with his tail between his legs.

Sesshomaru spun around, “never suggest that again, Akari! Bring her to me for breakfast.” His chest was on fire, again. I have never harmed her.

            “What?” Akari firmly put her hands on her firmly, “she isn’t ready for that! She can’t even make it through the night! Have you seen how tired she is?”

            “Bring her to breakfast,” Sesshomaru repeated and plodded back to wake up the children.

            “It’s not a good idea Sesshomaru-sama,” Akari protested following after him. She reached out to grab his hand.      

            He spun around snarling nearly nocking Akari into the wall, “do not lay hands on this Sesshomaru. I will decide what is best for her. Bring her, whether she wants to come or not.” Sesshomaru disappeared into his children’s room then out the door into the garden to roust them from their slumber under the Sakura tree. The sun splayed shadows on them this morning as they curled into one another. Rin was crying again, it took all his strength to not allow his heart to break. Are you in that husk of a body my heart? Or are you gone forever?


             Touma flew the air, his white mokomoko rustled in the wind. He spread his fingers out, turning circles in the air as he flew in an eastern direction. The mountain and the river were the markers of the snake’s stronghold. Hebidoku was their leader. He was a rather squat yokai, who hissed when he spoke. His tongue was forked, his eyes a natural shade of gold and scales down one side of his face. His followers were as many demons, some in human form, some large that slithered on their bellies. Touma landed lightly in a clearing just before the entrance of a cave, “Hebidoku,” he dodged the mouth of a snake coming at him. He leapt over it, clasped the demon around the neck and slammed him on the ground. He lifted his Halberd from its sheathe slamming it on the forest  floor, “unless you want an eternal winter, bring me, Hebidoku.” The air chilled, frost formed on the stems of the pink petaled flowers.

            The yokai in his hand hissed, his tongue flicking in and out of his mouth, “you are not welcome here, dog!”

            “And yet the air gets colder,” he twirled the halberd over his head, the momentum sent his silver braid flying in the wind, loose strands ran along his face, “winter.”

            The snake gasped for air as shards of ice attached to his scaly hands.

            “Cold,” Touma flicked his eyebrows up.

            “I s-s-s-s-show you to him,” it finally rasped out.

            Touma let it up, following the snake into the cave. A sea of slithering monsters separated for him. “I see you know what’s good for you,” he relented the winter he cast upon the area. The heat of summer took over leaving no trace of his halberd’s effects behind. He stopped in front of a low-rock where a rather young looking snake demon sat eating a skinned rat. “What do you want Inu-kuro?” The cave was made of dust. A wicker basket full of poisoned rats was filled next to the child-like leader.

            “Haven’t you heard, Ichiro-sama has ceded these lands to Sesshomaru, the Dog Lord,” Touma ingratiated himself on the snake sitting down next to him. “You know what that means.”

            “He will come…again,” Hebidoku grimaced swallowing the rat, licking his fingers one by one. Sinuous phalanges reached in and removed another.

            “And this time he won’t relent. Your days are numbered,” he caught a snake by its throat before it could bite into his leg, “you’re a poisonous one aren’t you?”

            “Who are you?” The yokai rose from his dais and walked circles around Touma.

            “One who cares. The balance of power will be unhinged if he takes these lands. The barrier is down around his home. Word has it, his human lover is disastrously ill.”

            “We will attack hissssss home,” the demon roared.

            “Very well. I will leave in peace,” Touma threatened twirling his halberd for affect, “unless you wish to freeze before you get there?”

            “Go in peac-ssss-e,” he was waved away.


 

             The shadow was in her room again, hovering over her, tormenting her, lapping at the memories in her mind. It was all too easy. They had years together. She had seen so much blood-shed, much of it at his hand. Fear was instilled, now she had to place doubt, doubt that he cared for her. Doubt that he wanted what was best for her, doubt that his love was true. After that, he would tell her to leave him and she would, to follow him.


 

  Rin’s POV

 

            Teeth were chasing her again, nipping at her shoulders drawing blood, her back was on fire, the eyes were red, livid and crimson like a blood thirsty sun. She tried to hide in a corner, then he threw her from a cliff as she gripped a tree of berries in her hands. He wanted her dead. The world went dark, she was burned from the inside out. She couldn’t breathe.

 

            Why? That’s all she wanted to know. Why did these dreams keep coming? She knew it was watching her from the garden. She felt like it had eyes. Eyes on the trees, on the grass, eyes in the water. One morning he moved out there at night with the two little things. They looked like him, stripes on their face, moons on their foreheads. She knew he was watching her. Her mind went back to the dreams, were they real? She saw a scar on her wrist that looked like a jagged line, there were several scratch marks on her back, she felt a long one over her left shoulder. Her stomach was upset. She rest her head in her knees, breathing and then Akari came and told her she would eat breakfast with this Sesshomaru-sama this morning.

            She wanted to throw up again. Akari forced her to stand, touched her hair and clicked her tongue, “we’re going to have to do something about this.” Akari said and took out a bone comb, assaulting her hair. She thought her head would pop off from the effort it took. When it was over Akari parted her hair at the top and tied two ties on either side of her head, leaving half of her hair down and half of it off her face. Her head was downcast the entire time, refusing to meet the maid’s eyes. Her hands wrung by her lap.

            Akari rummaged through one of the trunks and took out a soft yellow kimono, “this is your inner layer. Stand up. It’s made from fine silk. You’ll like how soft it is.”

            She complied and removed her yukata, her skin flushing red knowing that the maid was seeing her body. She held her arms out by her sides, the way Akari had instructed her, and then turned to put the robe on. Akari tied it with a light yellow obi before she took out another more exquisite kimono that was teal in color with gold hemming. Pink bonin pigeons embroidered the chest and up the material parallel with her legs, “you don’t remember this, but Sesshomaru-sama bought this one for you himself. He normally sends Jaken to tend to your needs, but this one he went into one of the bigger villages in his travels and brought it back for you a few years ago. It’s your favorite.”

            She touched the heavy silk fabric, it was soft and inviting, the colors were vivid and pleasing to her eyes. “F…f…favorite?” She asked, her mouth felt dry, “no…no…no…breakfast.” She tried to back away from Akari and fold herself back into her bed.

            Akari grabbed her arm and hefted her back on to her feet. “Stop shaking like a leaf. We’ve told you, he is a kind Lord. He would not hurt you. Now turn around,” Akari helped her into the fine kimono. “This one comes with a special gold obi, do you like it?”

            Trembling fingers timidly reached out to the soft fabric. She smiled at the smooth material and vivid colors. The embroidery was so detailed, the pigeons looked as if they were alive, “n…ni…nice.” She closed her eyes, “hands…s…stop?” She held up her hands to her face. They were like leaves trembling in an early spring breeze.

            Akari reached out to her. The maid took her chin. She looked into her eyes and shook her head, “trust that the people around you are trying to help you.”

           

            She walked down the hallway, dressed, her stomach ready for food. That was one of the first things she learned was that when her stomach started making noise and felt like it was cramping, it was time to put food in it. She couldn’t stop her knees from nocking knowing that he would be on the other side of the door. Akari lead her by the hand, like she was a child again. The floor was cold and hard against her feet. She swallowed hard as the door opened. He was sitting at the head of the table talking quietly to the two little versions of himself. One looked like a girl, the other a boy with two different colored eyes. Their ears were misplaced. She hadn’t been dreaming, and his face, the one at the head of the table, his ears were on the sides of his head, pointed. He had stripes on his face that disappeared into his hairline. She looked at Akari for reassurance. The black haired woman walked her into the room and instructed her to sit at the side of the table across from the two children and with Sesshomaru-sama? Was that his name? He was next to her at the head to her right. Behind him, the thick glass window held a view of the green meadow.

            “Welcome,” his voice was deep, tenor and quiet. He was dressed in simple white haori with matching hikama, two swords strapped to his waist.

            She bowed her head and folded her hands in her lap.

            “Akari, bring the food,” his voice was commanding now, harsh it made her flinch. Akari left.

Her eyes followed the faithful maid who had been caring for her. She wanted to leave the room with her. Her hands started fidgeting in her lap once again.

            “Can we talk to her?” She heard one of the things ask.

            There was no answer.

            “She smells scared again Chi-chiue,” the other one said.

            “Be quiet Haru, it’s not polite to smell people and tell,” the other one shot back.

            Akari returned with the morning food. There was warm rice, melon that had been cut in slices, and eggs with mushrooms. She noticed that Sesshomaru-sama didn’t touch any of it. Akari made to stay in the room until she was summarily dismissed, “Akari tend to your work. She will be fine with us.” That was his tenor voice again. Now her shoulders were shaking. It was like her body had a mind of its own.

            “Would you like to eat?” He handed her a plate. “Go ahead,” he must have been talking to the children.

            She slowly allowed her eyes to leave her lap. The rice she knew, but the red colored melon with the green peeling she didn’t. There were serving utensils next to the melon plate. Gradually she reached out her tremulous right hand to the tongs meant to pick up the melon. She looked at the stalk sticking out from her body, trembling, sending waves like the ocean down her teal kimono, stop shaking…stop shaking. She commanded herself, but it was no use. The limb was like a willow. She felt something warm envelop her hand, the skin was soft and inviting, and, familiar.

She looked up at Sesshomaru-sama?? His left hand enveloped her right hand, steadying the shaking, but that wasn’t what was familiar to her. When he retracted his hand she grasped his fingers and pulled the object closer to her eyes. Familiar…why? She thought she heard his breath catch. He made no move to remove his hand from hers. The children were silent, not even scraping at their plates, or clinking their glasses. She held his hand in her right hand then with her left hand, traced over the magenta stripes on his wrist. She touched one stripe brushing it like a painting than the other. She repeated the motion. She turned his hand over to reveal his palm. She ran her finger along the grooved lines. Her head was beginning to hurt again, “familiar,” she muttered softly. Something was trying to flash through her brain. These hands, on her wrists? “Heart…” She held the hand over her heart palm down. Again she felt no resistance. She laced her fingers between his and brought the hand to her nose, “smell.” The pain was getting worse, it felt like fire ants crawling through her brain.

            He must have noticed her grimacing, because he tried to lift his hand away. She held it firmly. His hand was the first familiar thing to her in two weeks since waking. Her breathing was getting ragged. She wanted the pain to stop. She felt like behind it she could sense something, “smell,” she struggled to say under breath. Her eyes met his curious golden gaze, “kiss?” She brought his fingers to her lips. Affably she closed them over his ring and middle finger.


 

             Sesshomaru’s stomach was in his throat. If asked, he would say nothing gave him fear, nothing gave him emotions. He was a stone wall, except for when it came to Rin. She gave voice to those emotions, speaking them, drawing them out, feeling them with him. This was the first meaningful physical contact she had with him, since she woke with no memories. Her grip was firm and unwavering. He felt no need to remove his hand. Sesshomaru saw Yuki about to speak and shushed her with his other hand. He took Yuki’s little hand in his, then shook his head to silence her. Something was happening inside of Rin’s head. He could see it. Something about his hand had set her off. He felt goosebumps when she traced his stripes. Sesshomaru stomach tensed when she brought his fingers to her hot breath. He wanted to fly her back to their bedroom when burning lips pressed against his fingers. She must have thought he didn’t hear her mutterings but he did. She was remembering something.

            Instantly as soon as her lips touched his fingers she shrieked in pain clutching the left side of her head and would have collapsed against the plate in front of her if he hadn’t caught her by the shoulders. He stood up and knelt down next to her brushing the hair from her face, terrified eyes looked back at him, “wh…why? Wh…wh…where?”

            “What?” He asked her. His finger lingered only a moment over her mouth. The control it took to not to press his lips to hers, to not bring her face to his chest, to not do more than remove the sweat soaked hair from her face was almost too much for him.

            “Memories,” her voice was close to silent, “fire, behind fire, something,” she gripped her head.

            Sesshomaru allowed his hands to embrace Rin’s. He brought them down to her lap. He gently stroked her thumbs with his own, “it’s okay. You don’t have to remember everything now.”

            He felt wetness on his fingers. She was crying again. He stood up and sat back down in his chair. Sesshomaru put the melon on Rin’s plate. He knew it was her favorite and was unsurprised when she took a bite into it that her eyes seemed to light up for just a moment before they were the same blank brown windows to a lifeless soul. “Eat,” he told her, “you’ll feel better with food in your stomach.”

            “Can we talk to her?” Harutoga asked again. Yuki and Harutoga’s eyes had taken in the strange actions of their mother.

            Sesshomaru didn’t answer. He lay his left hand on the table again and within a few minutes he felt curious warmth on it. Like a spider, fingers slithered beneath his palm and laced themselves between his fingers, “familiar,” he heard from a distance again.

            “Yes,” he clasped her fingers against his own, “familiar.” What is going on in her head?

            “M…m….,” her voice was audible now, but her eyes were still down cast. She swallowed hard, “m…my…n…na…name? Wh…who…a…am…I?”

            He ventured his other hand out to lightly stroke her wrist, “Rin. Your name is Rin.”

            “Rin?” It didn’t sound right, it sounded like it belonged to someone else, to a stranger or a shadow, but not her. “Y…y…you?” A slender finger raised up and pointed at him.

            He continued stroking her wrist, “Sesshomaru.”

Her hand steadily stopped trembling in his. “Y…y…yo…yokai.” She turned her head to look at him.

            “Yes,” he answered confidently. He wished his hand would have the same effect on her voice. She quavered like a bell that was lost in a gust of summer air. “Inu-Yokai.”

            “I…inu? R…red…r..red eyes…angry…no…don’t eat me,” she collapsed out of the chair against the wall and covered her eyes.

            “Chi-chiue why are you laughing?” Yuki looked appalled.

            “I hate human meat,” he stood up and sat down by Rin on the floor, “I don’t eat humans.”

            “Kami, you really are gross,” the little one rolled her eyes and crossed her arms, “if you hate it, that means you’ve eaten it.”

            “Come on. Off the floor,” he hefted Rin up, but as soon as he touched her sides he regretted it. She screamed at the top of her lungs and curled into a ball like a child. She kicked at his face. He cursed under his breath and stood up, surrendering her to her fear. He sat back down in his chair.

            “Chichiue you’re scratching the table,” Yuki reminded him, “if you keep scratching everything when you’re mad the whole house is going to be ruined.”

            “Shut up Yuki,” Sesshomaru barked at his daughter, “just shut up.” He flopped back into his chair and folded his arms. I thought I was getting through to her. How can she know what my true form is and not remember anything else?

            Akari rushed into the room with the sounds of the screaming. The sobbing immediately stopped as Akari knelt by her side, dagger looks were given to Sesshomaru as she helped Rin to stand and leave the room. Behind Akari was a medium sized fox demon who high fived a friend next to him for points earned.

            I need to go back, I have to be missing something. “Yuki, go get Hisato.” Sesshomaru ordered his daughter.


 

             Yuki stood up and walked out of the dining-room glad to take a break from the stress of seeing her mother acting younger than she was. Yuki was wearing a sleeveless lavender short kimono that barely reached passed her bottom and her favorite bracelets again. Yuki glared as her mother cringed into Atsuko and Akari. She looked the other direction, she knew from the smell Hisato was there, “Chichi-ue wants to see you,” she told him. When she went back towards the dining room Haru was waiting for her.

            “Chichi-ue said you have to watch me,” Haru said trying to climb onto Yuki’s back. “He said you can’t go back in. They are talking.”

            “Why?” Yuki inched towards the door. She wanted to know what they were talking about. Her stomach was a bundle of nerves as she did. This is stupid, he may not hear me but he’ll smell me they both will.

            “Show me again, where she was attacked,” she heard her father’s voice.

            Yuki’s eyes widened, “get off Haru,” she plopped her brother down on the ground.

            “That hurt Yuki,” he rubbed his backside.

            “Shut up Haru,” Yuki shushed her brother. “I’m following them, stay here, go into the garden, hide in the Sakura tree until I come back.”

            “Chichi-ue said you had to watch me!” Harutoga protested until Yuki covered his mouth her hand.

            “Shut up! He’ll hear you! If I can hear them, that means if he wants to, he’ll hear us. Go do what I said. Hide in the sakura tree. Mask your scent like I told you.” She kept her eyes trained through the hinge of the door waiting to see how they would exit the house.

            “Why Aniue!”

            Yuki stamped her feet, “because my memories from the day are gone too and I want to know where it was they found Ka-san. If I can remember what happened maybe we can get Ka-san’s memory back. Stay hidden. Don’t trust anyone.” Yuki closed her eyes, long enough to feel her yoki and let it wrap around her. She followed her father and Hisato from a distance. She couldn’t keep up with them. They didn’t even bother using an exit. They went through the window of the dining room. She jumped out after them. They flew high into the air. She kept track of them by their scent and the shadows they made on the ground. Yuki jumped high into the trees, leaping from branch to branch.  She breathed as quietly as her father had taught her. Even your breath can be your betrayer do not allow me to hear you breathe.

            She swallowed hard. All the running and jumping after eating was making her stomach upset. Yuki stopped in a high piscea and ducked into the wide trunk of the tree. She balanced herself carefully as her father and Hisato walked around the area where her mother had been found. She heard them talking about what happened. Ka-san was found on the floor near the trees, covered in blood. The children were nowhere to be found. Yuki shook her head the pain was coming again. Why did it feel like needles boring into the left side of her head? She touched her temple, not now, she thought to herself. If I fall from pain Chichiue will punish me for not listening to him. She tried to focus her yoki and push back the fire in her head, I can do that right?

            “Yuki, come down,” Sesshomaru was beneath the tree one hand resting on it and his gaze directly at the branch she was standing in.

            “Dammit,” she cursed. She jumped down landing on all fours like a cat next to her father. She started backing away from him as he stalked towards her. His eyes were angry, Yuki gulped, “sorry?”

            Sesshomaru rested his hand on Bakusaiga, “I thought I told you to watch your brother.”

            Yuki continued backing away until her heel caught on a fallen limb knocking her onto her back, “um…I…”

            “Yes?” He said.

            “It’s not fair! How did you know I was there?” She folded her arms.

            “Too much yoki,” he turned, “get on my back.”

            “Why?” She questioned him frustrated.

            “Because I don’t want this area disturbed by your feet. Get on my back, before I think of a better punishment for you then I already have,” he turned around and kneeled down. “Why did you follow us?”

            Yuki leapt onto her father’s back. She wrapped her legs around his waist and felt one of his hands go beneath her backside to hold her. She pushed his hair away so she could grip his shoulders without falling. Yuki stuck her tongue out at Hisato who was glaring at her.

            “You didn’t answer me. Yuki, why did you come out here?” Sesshomaru tickled her feet, “answer me.”

            Yuki kicked his hand away. “I wanted to know what happened to Ka-san,” she answered. That was a half-truth.

            “I smell a lie,” he rebuked her walking around the area. The tracks that would have been there were long washed away, the smells had already faded.

            “Whatever,” Yuki retorted. Suddenly she felt something poking her foot and this time it hurt. “Ouch,” she kicked at her father’s hand.

            “I don’t have time for this Yuki,” he growled at her. “When we get back to the house you’re to stay in your room and if I catch you sneaking out you’ll face worse than my claw in the sole of your foot.”

            “Ka-san wouldn’t let.”

            “Ka-san isn’t here,” he swatted her leg. “Now stay there so I can concentrate.”

            Yuki took in what she could from the area around the trees. Brown leaves were on the forest floor. This area was more wooded than the others. There was a stream nearby. She could smell it and hear it. She looked over her father’s shoulder at the trees. The bark looked like it was charred in some places, it smelled like Ka-san’s katana. “Is that from Ka-san’s sword,” she pointed at a piscea with a blackened base.

            “Good. How did you know that?” He tested her.

            “It smells like your mouth, and her whip can burn through things when she wants it to. Can I sit on your shoulders? Your armor is slippery.”

            Sesshomaru chuckled, “good, go ahead.”

            Yuki climbed up his back and laced her legs over her father’s shoulders beneath his arms. She didn’t notice he had been gliding over the area. There were pine nettles, and the hot smell of summer. She could faintly smell her mother’s blood but nothing else. For a moment Yuki thought she saw a flash of memory, something dark hovering over her mother, as soon as it came the pain came and she shrieked and slumped over on her father’s head. Her head flipped over Sesshomaru’s shoulder, followed by her body.

            “Yuki,” he moved himself to sitting cross legged in the air. He caught Yuki before she fell to the ground against his knees, “what is it?” Sesshomaru pushed the silver hair from her face and traced the small moon on her forehead.

            “Something, every time I try to remember,” she was gripping her head, she tried to force her yoki against the pain again, if she could just push it back then she would remember. She felt like she was fighting against something, if she fought it hard enough, her memories of that day would be there. Was that real? The dark thing hovering over Kasan?   

            “Stop that Yuki, stop. You can’t use your yoki like that,” Sesshomaru helped Yuki back onto his shoulders. She looped her legs back underneath his arms and over his shoulders.

            “Why not?” Golden orbs looked to her father for guidance.

            “Because it will make you change, if you keep doing that, my blood will destroy you. It will consume your soul,” he tickled her toes again, “that would make Chichiue sad.”

            “You’re never sad,” Yuki replied. Her toes squirmed at the claws tickling them. “Stop, that tickles.”

            “I see nothing that we haven’t seen before, the same signs of struggle, the same charred trees. Nothing makes sense,” he stopped and sniffed the air. “Hisato.”

            “Snakes,” the black haired dog-demon confirmed. Slithering and hissing came like a storm in their direction.

             The floor teemed with crawling things and seven in humanoid form with katana’s drawn. Yuki shrieked as one leapt to nip at her heal. “Chichiue!” She cried, trying to stand on his shoulders.

              “Into the tree quickly,” he threw his daughter in the air knowing she would catch a branch and hopefully find a safe place. “Hisato,” he commanded the guard. He withdrew Bakusaiga, “you dare come to my home?”

              “Ichiro-sama sssss-ceded landssss to you,” the lead snake Hebidoku came forward. Brown scales covered his left eye thickly down to his neck widening along his chest as an armor. “Kill the child.”

              “Chichiue!” They were glissading up the trees, their tongues hissing, their fangs bared with poison dripping from them. The child’s hands lit green with mist, slapping at the ones closest to her, knocking them off the branches.

               “Don’t let them touch you Yuki!” Sesshomaru began hacking away at Hebidoku. He couldn’t send a wave to stop the oncoming horde. Yuki was in the way. “Hisato get her out of here!”

              “They’re heading for the home!” Hisato sent white hot lights of energy slashing and burning the snakes coming at them. The slithering serpents on the ground where hacked into  pieces and charred from Hisato blades.

               “Haru!” Yuki slashed into a snake, then another, leaving a cloud of her poison to corrode their flesh. “Haru Chichiue! I left him in the garden!”

                “Harutoga…” It only took a moment for him to lose his concentration as a smaller snake flew from the ground and latched into his wrist. He was familiar with the sting of poison, the boiling pain, the way it corroded his flesh. He hissed ripping the thing from his skin, throwing it aside. “Hisato, my son.” I will not lose him too!

                 Hisato flew into the tree, slashing the snakes trying to reach Yuki. “Jump!” He held his hand out to the child. She flew from the tree into his hand. Leaving Sesshomaru to take on the horde alone and their leader alone.

Chapter Text

            A sheen of sweat spread over his ivory flesh. The hand holding Bakusaiga felt wet, the hilt slippery. Sesshomaru sent another wave of green energy over the forest, purposely avoiding the grove he didn’t want to damage. What if there was a stone he had left unturned? This was why the barrier existed. Without it, Rin would be under constant attack. No yokai in their right mind, would ever accept his relationship with a human. For that, the barrier was brought up by Miroku, maintained by an enchanted black stone that kept out those that would cause harm to him or his family.

            He shook off the arm that was starting to feel numb from the poison. Hebidoku surrounded him with the humanoid serpents. Some of the crawling ones had already made it to the home. He could hear them in the distance. Harutoga was screaming.

            “I heard you had reproduc-ssssed with a human, Ssssssessssshomaru,” the katana of the snake demon was scaled like his skin. It glowed in the morning sun. “Hanyousssss, a disssssgrace.”

            He wouldn’t grace that with an answer. As they hissed and came at him, he blocked a blow to the head, skipped over katanas that flew at his ankle. He stumbled, feeling his temperature rise. He flipped over Hebidoku’s head. He just needed enough leverage to level them. Another flash of green energy and he was down to four opponents. Hebidoku slashed at his neck, he blocked, then at his belly, the blade dug into his skin. Sesshomaru’s body was weakening. He cursed, the more he moved the faster his heartbeat. The faster the beats came the quicker the poison spread through his body. His skin bubbled, acrid.  


             “Help! Help!” Harutoga called from sakura tree. He was as high up as the branches could manage. They were bending threatening to break. He sent his whip slapping the face of a snake that was on the tree. “Yuki!” He cried with tears running down his eyes.

            “Do you think those count as not supposed to be here?” Sota ran from the backside of the house with Taisho behind him. “Katana Taisho. Only use your poison if they get close enough. Those are mamoshi.”

            “Corrosive poison,” Taisho confirmed drawing his katana. He leapt over a log, “Harutoga!” He shouted at the little boy in the tree. “Sota?” How were they going to defeat the throng alone?

            The swarm of brown scaled snakes filled the garden. It flattened the daisies, it kicked up dirt. They swarmed up the trunk of the sakura tree to the frightened child.

            Taisho stabbed one snake through the belly, the next he slammed his blade through the mouth. Black blood splattered on his exposed skin.

            “Sankan tesou!” Sota yelled not bothering with his katana. He sent the blades flying into the approaching snakes.

            “Oh Kami!” Atsuko screamed seeing the approaching serpents.

            “Shut the door!” Taisho yelled at her. “Don’t let them in the house! Close the windows!” A snake made it’s way up Taisho’s left leg. He lit his hand yellow corroding the snake. It drowned in a puddle of yellow goo.

            “Help!” Harutoga sent his pathetic green whip at another snake that was near his hands. “Yuki!! Chichiue!”

            “There are too many of them!” Sota dug his claws into his chest, slicing his skin, bringing them back covered in blood, “hijin tesou!” He sent the red blades smashing into the snakes. It wasn’t enough.

            “Sota help!” Harutoga’s branch was bending, a serpent had made its way inches from his hand. Brown and golden eyed the child stared at it. Terrified.


 

             Sesshomaru fell to his knees. Two left. He caught himself on his katana panting. He coughed up blood and spat it on the ground.

            “Feel my poison Dog Lord,” Hebidoku raised his katana intending on crashing it into the Inu-yokai’s neck, severing his head.

            Sesshomaru squeezed Tenseiga’s hilt, blocking the attack with a  smirk on his face. “It won’t be as easy as you think!”

            “Chichiue!” He heard his son crying for him in the distance. “Ow!”

            Harutoga, something inside of him unleashed. He once said he had no one to protect, nothing, that meant anything to him. That was no longer his truth. He twirled dodging a blow, swung his katana up and slid the blade like it was going through jelly through the snake demon’s eye while his clawed hand stabbed into the chest ripping out the heart, he threw it on the ground. He spat in the dying demon’s face.

            The other ran.


 

             “Harutoga!” Hisato yelled. The little boy had a snake attached to his wrist. He grabbed the child and tried to rip off the snake that was glued to his hand. It flopped against his wrist, refusing to be released. “Yuki get it off,” Hisato held the boy over his shoulder.

            Yuki picked up her brother’s hand and released her poison. The snake hissed in pain, releasing the boy’s hand.

            Harutoga’s eyes drooped, his mouth frothed.

            “Haru?” Yuki shook him, “Haru wake up!” She cried.

            “Hang on Yuki,” Hisato had both katanas in one hand, Harutoga on the other with Yuki clinging to his back. He landed in the garden to a sight he hadn’t expected. Torikku was there helping Sota and Taisho. Sota’s blades were flying left and right into the dirt. Torikku had an urn filled with a sweet smelling powder he threw into the grass and flowers. It burned the skin of the snakes on contact, stopping their attack. Hisato landed, letting Yuki off. “Atsuko!” He called into the house.

            The maid came running from the bedroom. Her eyes dilated when she saw the swollen, bubbling skin of the child. “Oh no, not him.” She picked up the child in her arms and carried him back into his room.

            A throng of fox children threw foxfire into the oncoming snakes at the direction of Hinatamaru. The adult fox-demon was in his true form, ripping into the snakes with his teeth. He was the size of a large wolf rather than a small fox, dashing like lightening around the garden.

            Torikku the Healer, threw another batch of the powder taking out the rest of the snakes. Sesshomaru landed a moment later on his knees. His skin was covered in a red glow, his arm swollen. “Harutoga?” He coughed up blood again.

            “Oji-sama?” Sota ran to him, lifting him under the arms.

            “Oji-sama!” Taisho followed suit.

            “Torikku, we need the antidote,” Hisato sheathed his swords. “Now.”

            “I don’t have it.” the Healer answered. “I don’t know where to find it. It’s planted in winter and blooms in early spring by the start of summer it’s withered.”

            “Take him to the children’s room,” Hisato trailed behind Sota and Taisho. “Jaken!”

            Sesshomaru swayed, his vision blurred. His skin felt like it was on fire. His two nephews set him against the pink bedding. Harutoga was no better. Hisato ripped a strip of his haori and tied off the boy’s hand, hoping to stop the poison from travelling. Sota did the same and tied off Sesshomaru’s wrist. “Don’t bother,” Hisato stopped him, “it’s already spread beyond his arm.”

            “What do we do?” Sota begged him.

            “I’m here,” Jaken came.

            “Antidote to mamoshi poison, do we have it?” Hisato asked him.

            “Maybe, I’ll go look!” Jaken ran from the room.

            “We need the monk. The barrier has to be put back up. You two, return home and get him, take Aun,” Hisato commanded them.

            “We’re supposed to guard the perimeter of the home!” Taisho protested. “Oji-sama,” he brushed the silver hair away from his uncle’s face.

            Jaken returned, “it’s not there. I thought we had some, but it’s gone!”

            “Dammit,” Hisato fumed.

            “Go,” Sesshomaru coughed. “Your mother…the antidote.”

            “Come on,” Sota grabbed Taisho’s hand and fled the room.

            “It will be faster if I take them,” the jolly fat fox demon said. “Quickly.”

            “Torikku, we need to slow the effects of the poison,” Hisato knelt over them. Yuki lay over her father crying.

            “I’ll go to my hut and bring something back quickly,” the Healer ran from the home.

            “Atsuko, Rin?” Hisato asked.

            “I took her to the dining room, she didn’t know the home was under attack,” Atsuko held a bucket of water and washcloths. “We need to keep them as cool as possible to slow their heartbeats.”

            “What’s going to happen to them?” Yuki sniffled.

            “They’ll be okay Yuki,” Hisato encouraged her. “Your father is strong.”

            “Haru,” she held her brother’s hand. “I shouldn’t have left you.”

            She felt a hand in her hair. Her father had a weak smile on his face, “it’s…not…your…fault,” he muttered.

            “Chichiue?” Yuki hugged his neck. “Please don’t die. Please,” she sobbed holding him. “It’s all my fault. It’s all my fault!”


 

 Rin’s POV

 

            She dozed off in the chair in the dining room. She didn’t know what happened. There were loud noises at first but then they disappeared and the house was quiet again. She had been staring at the walls of the dining room, remembering his hand. The stripes, why were they so familiar? The shape of his hand, the warmth. She knew it, she was sure she did but whenever she tried to force the memory from the recesses of her mind, it began to ache and burn.

            Kill him…

            She was dreaming, she knew she must have been.

            The katana….

            She was in a field full of daisies. The sun was shining in the sky. She was holding a rusty sword.

            Kill him…

            She saw the demon sitting under a tree. He looked angry and annoyed. There was a boy there and the green thing she had seen the first day she woke up.

            Kill him…

            Suddenly he was the giant white dog. She was sitting on his snout. He lifted her into the air to find the boy who was hiding in a tree. Then she ran from him. He chased her.

            He’s evil.

            She could hear the awkward thud of the dog’s large white paws banging against the floor. It didn’t sound right. She dared a peek. Red eyes stared back her, drool dripped from razor sharp teeth. Her eyes dilated. The all too familiar panic came back.

            If you don’t kill him. He will kill you.

            He pursued her over a hill, near a bubbling spring of water. His snout came down over her. She screamed.

            Kill him!

            She stumbled out of the chair. Her eyes dead, no pupils. They were brown and lost. Her hair was covered in sweat, and tied into a loose pony tail. She wore a short sleeved kimono, that was sky blue with a yellow obi. She stalked to the study of the thing who’s house she was being held prisoner.

            Kill him…

            The voice echoed in her mind. The study was empty. She found a katana. Something like electricity pulsed against her hand. The hilt was dog-shaped and fit in the palm of her hand perfectly.

            Kill him…before he kills you.


 

             Kagome stared at her backpack. She was sure she had everything she needed. She looked back at Mayumi and Izayoi. “You two are okay staying here with Sango?”

            The girls nodded their heads. “We’ll be fine,” Mayumi said firmly. She was black haired and looked exactly like her mother.

            “We can help with the kids,” Izayoi said proudly wiggling her ears.

            Inuyasha lifted up their katanas, “keep these with you. Miroku?” He turned to the monk.

            He nodded, “I want to know how that barrier was brought down. It was made so that only Sesshomaru-sama would be able to remove it.”

            “Ka-san!” Yelling from the front of the hut caught their attention. White faced, Sota and Taisho came running into the hut. “It’s Oji-sama and Harutoga. They were bit by snake yokai!” Sota yelled leaping off the back of a large red fox that quickly changed into a short-squat red haired demon.

            “Mamoshi!” Taisho added, “they need the antidote.”

            “I have it,” Kagome ran from the hut and through the forest. Before she could make it far Inuyasha landed next to her. No words passed between the two of them. He knelt on one knee offering her back. She climbed on wrapping her legs around his mid-section. “Hurry Inuyasha! They have two days at the most.”

            The forest gave way to a clearing, then the tall stone staircase. Inuyasha ran up jumping six steps at a time until he came to the field that had once been tended by Kaede-sama. Jinenji bent and scarred tilled the soil. Kagome came off Inuyasha’s back and ran to him, “Jinenji-san, we need spring berries,” she said quickly. “Enough for two.”

            He plodded over to bush on the edges of the brown earth and removed several clusters. He handed them back to Kagome with a smile on his face. “Tell Rin I said hello.”

            “We will,” Inuyasha let Kagome onto his back again. As they traveled back to the hut he asked, “how does he know?”

            “I told him where we were going,” Kagome said with a smile.

            “How are we going to get back fast enough?”

            “That fox-demon…if he can at least get the antidote there,” Kagome answered.


 

             He was dreaming. He knew he was. His skin was boiling. It glistened with sweat. He was flying home. Another string of exhausting weeks spent fighting and pushing back demons that wouldn’t yield to him. She called for him, without knowing that she was. She had just had Harutoga. He was almost two months old. He landed at the front entrance. Her cheeks were flushed, her skin was hot when his lips pressed against hers. “You’re sick,” he whispered against her lips.

            “Chichiue!” Yuki bounded into his arms. She was all gangly legs and the second woman in his life to bring a smile to his lips. She nuzzled his nose with the tiny button of her own and flung her arms around him. “I missed you!”

            He kissed her cheek in return going to set her down when Jaken came running up with a pile of scrolls, no doubt messages that needed to be returned and meetings to be had. He suppressed his frustration. What he needed was sleep. He had just left a siege of overflowing ogres and disposed of their bodies, the last thing he wanted was to deal with, “come on.” Rin tugged on his hand.

            “I have meetings to go to,” he tried to pull away.

            “They can wait,” Rin motioned to one of the maids to take Yuki.

            “Give me our son,” he took Harutoga from her hands.

            “Sesshomaru-sama?” Jaken questioned.

            “Not now,” Rin’s voice was raspy and dry from whatever ailment was plaguing her. Silently he followed her into their home through the public entrance, down the long corridor and into their room. She stood in front of him pulling his lips down to hers. She brought furs to wrap the baby in, then set him down on their bedding. Next she turned on Sesshomaru, unclipping his armor from his side, she slid it down his arm.

            “Do you plan on undressing this Sesshomaru?” He asked in a low tone.

            “Shh my love,” she whispered pressing her lips against his. She removed his obi, taking his clothes off, then led him naked to the hot spring. She removed her own, exciting him that much more. He followed her as she sat on the bank of their warm hot-springs. “Get in,” she grasped his hand.

            He climbed into the water and rested against the bank of the spring. Her hands did wonders on the stress he felt. She dug them into his shoulders, massaging him until he nearly started purring in peace. Then she lathered his hair, washing it thoroughly, rinsing it with the hot water of the spring then she began on his body. Instead of using a cloth, she climbed in next to him baring swollen breasts that dripped fresh milk to him. She lathered her hands with soap and rubbed his chest down. With each stroke he felt himself straining. There were no words, yet somehow she knew what he needed. Her hands circled lower and lower over her his back until she tugged him to stand. Then she cleaned his bottom and worked down his legs until his feet. He closed his eyes as she sidled up next to him with her forehead against his neck.

            He touched her forehead again, the fever was raging.

            She drank from a water bottle next to the springs passing it to him then dragged him out of the water, back into their bedroom. “Lay down,” she knelt down by the bed as he rest on his back.

            He caressed her chin as she kissed his lips. He missed her lips. Did she know how much he missed her? The dream was tormenting him, he knew that any moment he would wake and she would be gone, back to the child-like form she was before.

            Her tongue dipped into the lines of his chest. She was tormenting him this time. It circled steadily down his stomach then wrapped around him. His breathing became labored as he became harder. He wanted to tell her to stop, he could barely control himself. She took as much of him into her mouth as she dared, first sucking then licking. It was too late, he came in her mouth. She giggled spitting it out next to them and then she rinsed her mouth in a nearing bucket. “Do you feel better now?”

            “Much,” he sighed closing his eyes. “You’re sick,” he reminded her. “Rest against me for a while.”

            “I can practically hear Jaken shrieking in the hallway,” Rin kissed his pec, then his neck and mouth as she lay against him.

            “You’re leaking,” he tickled one of her nipples.

            “Don’t make fun,” she took and towel and wiped her breasts “You know it’s heavy in the beginning.”

            “I don’t,” he had said somewhat mournfully. “I missed this age with Yuki.”

            “You’re here now,” she licked the tip of his ear.

            “Does he sleep at night?” He touched his son’s cheek.

            “Yes,” she leaned against him breathing heavily.


 

             It was the feeling of something heavy on his chest that alerted him something was off, right before the cold of a blade dipped into his throat. His hands immediately shot up around a throat before his pus encrusted eyes forced themselves open. He didn’t need to see his attacker to know who it was, morning dew was leaking into his senses. “Rin,” he choked out. His arms shook against her weight. Hand by hand he removed them from her throat as they slipped along her wrists until he gripped her elbows attempting to stop her from bringing the katana into his throat. His eyes darted to the side. Harutoga’s entire arm was swollen. His chest was red. He glanced back to the woman leaning on top of him, her knees were against his chest. It was the katana he had gifted her that was threatening to slit his throat. His lungs felt heavy a side effect of the poison. He swallowed the pus bubbling in his throat, the tip of the katana dipping into his skin.

           “My heart,” he finally noticed her eyes. Dead eyes stared back at him, but that wasn’t what gave him pause. Tears streamed from the corners down her chin dripping onto his mostly bare chest. “What is it?” He dared to release one of her arms and caress her chin.

            “Evil,” she whimpered putting her weight into the blade.

             His other arm didn’t give, “put the blade down,” he whispered between labored breaths. He knew they had the antidote. Rin kept them in stock in their storage closet. This wasn’t the first time he had returned home poisoned. He sniffed the air, Shippo was hidden in the room.

            “Die,” she hissed at him.

            “Chichiue?” A weak voice hacked next to him, “it hurts.”

            “Harutoga,” he whispered, “it’s okay. Rin,” he continued stroking her damp cheeks. “You know who I am,” he grabbed the hilt of the katana.

             “Ka-san no!” Harutoga cried, “don’t hurt Chichiue!” The little boy struggled to get off the pallet, “please Ka-san!”

             “She doesn’t know you,” he gently reminded his son. “Rin.”

            Shippo’s scent left the room.

            “No,” her teeth chattered. Brown eyes narrowed on the striped hand holding the hilt of the katana struggling against her. He could almost see the recognition sinking in as her eyes widened and one hand released the katana to touch the stripes, “familiar?”

             “You know me,” he repeated himself stroking her face, “you know me.”

             She shook her head refusing, but kept one hand on his striped wrist. Timid fingers touched his heated skin giving him shivers.

            The door opened. Akari rushed in grabbing Rin by the shoulders pulling her off Sesshomaru. The woman fell against the maid’s shoulder crying. The katana clattered on the ground. Sesshomaru took deep deliberate breaths rubbing his throat. “Where is the antidote?”

           “We don’t have it. You sent Taisho and Sota to their mother to get it. Hinatamaru-sama took them. They should be back soon,” Akari stroked Rin’s hair and shushed her.

            “We had it,” he said firmly. “Look again.”

            “It’s not there Sesshomaru-sama. Jaken, Atsuko and I looked. Hisato looked, we couldn’t find it,” she said again. “Torikku-sama is bringing herbs to slow the poison.”

          “It hurts Chichiue,” Harutoga coughed again, frothing at mouth, blood dripped from the corners.

         Sesshomaru rolled painfully on his side. He lifted his son’s eyelids, they were already dilated, his skin was boiling. He won’t survive the night. “It was there,” he said weakly. Harutoga…


 

             Kagome sat tensely on the back of the fox demon. She held on for dear life to his fur as he blasted through the skies. Behind her Miroku sat with his khakkhara wrapped around her waist to steady her. Sango was left behind, too many children to tend to with Izayoi and Mayumi for help. Taisho and Sota would have to take the longer way back riding on Kirara with Inuyasha and being delayed for a week returning to their Uncle’s home.

              Kagome held tightly to the bag of berries. Confusion was her main emotion. She didn’t understand how they didn’t have mamoshi antidote. Jinenji had visited their home late in the winter taking grafts from his own bushes and planting them. Nothing made sense anymore. “I think I’m going to be sick,” Miroku said from behind. “How much longer?”

              “I don’t know. We’re going much faster than I’m used to!” She yelled over the blowing wind as her hair slapped into his face again. “We have to hurry…kami Miroku you’re married, get your hands off my butt!”

             “It feels as good as I remember,” he laughed removing his hand.


 

             Atsuko ran into her hut. Her husband a horse-demon and Uncle to the hanyou Jinenji sat by the fire with their daughter and a bundle of leaves. He pointed to each one, naming them for her to repeat and their benefits. “Nobuatsu,” she fell on her knees next to her husband panting.

He immediately rose helping her to stand, “what is it Atsuko?” He was a soft spoken, serine creature with long silver hair that touched the middle of his back, and delicate fingers that although they spent days in the dirt each day were impressively clean.

            “Mamoshi poison, Harutoga and Sesshomaru-sama. The antidote isn’t in their home, the bushes have withered,” she coughed wiping away her tears. “The little one is so sick. They attacked the home.”

            “We don’t have it either,” he said gently, “but I have something that will slow it. Where is Torikku-sama?”

            “Looking for herbs as well,” she trailed behind her husband.

            He exited the hut and walked around the back where their own private garden of herbs grew. “Parkia,” he picked the leaves from the plant, “Cissus and Echinacea, these will slow effects of the poison until a cure can be sought.”

            Nobuatsu strode in long steps, down the yellow colored dirt of the main area of the village to the public garden where Torikku ran from plant to plant plucking leaves and dumping them into a mortar bowl and smashed them with a pestle. “Torikku-sama,” he bowed in respect, “did you find something to slow the poison?”

            “I did,” he handed the bowl to Nobuatsu. The horse demon sniffed them, “I will add mine.” He handed the bowl to Atsuko. “They didn’t reach the village?”

            “The village wasn’t their goal,” Torikku answered, “it was the children and Sesshomaru-sama. Hurry Nobuatsu, the child is weakening. And Atsuko,” he handed her another bag that was inside the folds of his cobalt blue haori, “the herbs for Rin’s stomach and head-aches. I hope these help.”

            “Thank you,” Atsuko bowed again. She and her husband had been together for years. No words needed to be spoken. He could also change his form. He transformed into a majestic dapple in front of her an brayed clicking his tongue. His silver mane rested over the side of one shoulder. She knew what the clicking meant. He bent his nose to help her scramble onto his back. She held on as he ran towards their home.

Chapter Text

              Kagome and Miroku landed early in the morning blurry eyed and exhausted. Her body ached, her back was sore, her shoulders were hunched over. It had rained part of the night soaking them. They alighted in the private garden. Hinatamaru quickly changed into his humanoid form again following behind them. “Oh not in there Miko,” the elder Fox demon called her. “He’s in the children’s bedroom. She’s too scared of him.”

            “This is so weird!” Kagome complained as she opened the turquoise door. “Kami,” she  covered her mouth sliding onto her knees she touched Sesshomaru’s forehead. “He’s burning up.”

            Miroku knelt down by the child next to him. A pool of blood had built up by the child’s mouth. “His eyes are dilated Kagome-sama,” he whispered. The little boy breathed in labored breaths, wheezing, his face swollen.

            Yuki slept squeezed onto the same mat. She rubbed her eyes as they opened, “Obasan?”

            “Yuki-chan!” Kagome hugged the little girl, “I need hot water. Can you get it?”

            “Can you save them?” The little girl’s eyes moistened. “Chichiue stopped talking last night. Harutoga can barely breathe.”

            “I’m going to try,” Kagome smiled at her. “Hot water and two cups. I need to boil the berries.”

            Yuki nodded and ran out of the room. Miroku rolled Harutoga onto his back. He tried opening his mouth, “it’s very swollen Kagome-sama.”

            “Sesshomaru,” Kagome picked up a washcloth from a bucket and rubbed it on his face.

            “Miko,” his throat was dry, “not me…Harutoga…” He pushed her hand off his face. “Help…my…son.”

            Her chest was tight. She moved around the Inu-yokai to wash down Harutoga. He was dressed in white soiled hikama, sweating and barely breathing. Kagome wiped her eyes, “he’s my nephew Miroku-sama.”

            “We won’t let him die,” the Monk said firmly. “I’ll get clean clothes for him,” he rose off the floor and dug through the boy’s trunk.

            “Can I do anything?” Hinatamaru asked. They had all but forgotten he was there.

            Miroku brought a clean pair of hikama in green for the little boy and went to work cleaning his soiled legs and backside. “This poor child,” he said as he washed him.

            “Haru,” Yuki whimpered as she came in with a kettle boiling with water. She handed it to Kagome.

            The Miko threw the lavender colored berries into the water and set the kettle on the ivory colored floor. “Help me lift him up Hinatamaru-sama, please,” she said tugging on Sesshomaru’s chest.

            “No…” Sesshomaru struggled for breath, “Harutoga first.”

            “O-nisama, they need their father,” she whispered to him.

            He shook his head refusing.

            Yuki handed Kagome two cups. She filled one with the hot liquid then grabbed a nearing water bottle. “Hang on Harutoga,” she whispered while mixing the liquid to a comfortable temperature. She lifted the little boy’s head into Miroku’s lap. “Open his mouth,” she said. His mouth was slack. She poured the liquid in slowly, “come on Harutoga, wake up!” She nudged his cheek and massaged his neck to get him to swallow. He choked on the first gulp then cried softly. “Please take it.”

            The boy coughed again spitting out the majority of the mixture.

            “Haru, please,” Yuki begged her brother. “Swallow it. You’ll feel better!”

            “Son,” a clawed hand reached for the child. “Help me sit up,” he hated feeling so weak. The fox demon helped Sesshomaru sit against the wall. “Give…him…to me…”

            “Yuki give this to your father,” Kagome poured another cup and gave it to Yuki. “Cool it off a bit.”

            “Okay,” Yuki poured in the room temperature water and then help her father drink. “Please Chichiue? I don’t want to be alone. Obasan is taking care of Haru.”

            Sesshomaru drank. The liquid burned his throat as it went down. He coughed on the second gulp, ignoring the pain.

            “Come on little one,” Miroku opened the child’s mouth again. More liquid went in that was coughed and choked on.

            “I need to get it passed his tongue, it’s swollen,” Kagome pushed her finger inside the boy’s mouth, pushing his tongue down and pouring in more of the purple liquid.

            Harutoga finally started swallowing but not without crying sadly. “That’s it,” Miroku massaged his cheek.

            “Shhh,” Kagome coaxed him, “just a little more.” She wiped his mouth.

            Sesshomaru fell back onto his side pulling his son into his chest, “shhh,” he hummed in his son’s ear. The child immediately calmed.

            “You know she always hated how they would quiet for you and not her,” Kagome said.

            “Thank you, Kagome,” Sesshomaru’s eyes opened. He could already feel the antidote mixing with his yoki and fighting against the poison. “The barrier?”

            “I’ll go now and see what brought it down. I won’t be able to put it up again until you are well, you know that,” Miroku rose off the ground rubbing his lower back.

            “Yuki,” Kagome took the little girl’s hand, “let Chichiue and Harutoga rest okay?”

            “No, I want to stay,” Yuki argued.

            “They need to rest,” her aunt insisted.

            Yuki’s narrowed her brows at her aunt and crossed her arms, “don’t make me hurt you.”

            “I can purify it and you know it,” Kagome warned her.

            “You can’t purify my claws!”

            “Yuki,” Sesshomaru said half laughing. “Leave her for now Miko,” he said exhausted.


Rin’s POV

 

            Wild hair flew in the wind. A thing with long tentacles attacked her. She was riding a brown dragon with two heads. He came up with claws bared, the dog-demon in human form. His stripes were jagged, his teeth bared, the claws came for her face. She shrieked hiding her face just as they pierced her skin, drawing her blood.

 

            “No!” She screamed waking up and covering her face. Her hands went to her cheeks searching for the cuts. Her cheeks were smooth, yet damp from her tears. Her stomach felt nauseated again.

           The door opened, Atsuko came in, “are you okay?”

          “Dream,” she rubbed her head. “Hurts,” she whispered pulling her knees up to her chin.

           “I have some tea for you from Torikku-sama,” she left the room and came back with a tray table with a full bowl of fruit, and a ball of rice. “How is your stomach this morning?”

          “Mmmh,” she rubbed her belly. “Sick.”

          “This will help,” she poured from a kettle into a wooden cup. “It’s tea,” she said kindly.

          She drank it feeling her stomach calm somewhat. She stared at the food like it was a foreign object. “Breakfast?”

         “Yes,” Atsuko told her.

         “Breakfast?” She asked again not sure how to word what she wanted. She wondered if he was going to bring her to him again. Her head seared on one side. “W…w….where…Sesshomaru-s…s..sama?”

          The maid’s face fell. A shadow of sorrow seemed to pass over her visage. “He’s in the children’s room.”

          She stood up and walked out the door to her room down the hall. A black haired man stood in the hallway watching her. “What is she doing?” The man asked.

         “She asked about Sesshomaru-sama,” Atsuko informed him.

         “She tried to kill him last night,” the man stepped in front of the door.

         “No…” she muttered under her breath. “No…” She said again.

          “You don’t remember?” The black haired man asked her.

          She shook her head timidly holding her hands to chest nervously. “No,” she pushed open the door to the children’s room. She found him there with the little boy’s head in his lap and the little girl looking thing with cat ears sitting next to him. The little boy’s face was red, his cheeks puffy. Sesshomaru opened one eye.

         Her eyes went to his hand again. She stepped over the bodies on the futon, facing  away from him, refusing to look at him. She sat down and reached behind her taking his hand in hers. Why did the stripes look so familiar? She didn’t understand that. The minute she tried to think about it, her head started to burn. She held it, ignoring the others in the room.

        “Sesshomaru-sama?” The man asked.

       “Leave her Hisato,” the demon said.

       “Why is she holding your hand?” The little girl child asked.

       “Familiar,” she caressed the purple stripes.

       “Familiar,” he repeated her words, thumbing her knuckles.


         Two days passed since Kagome and Miroku arrived. Sesshomaru was recovering quickly but Harutoga slowly. He stayed with his son while he recovered. His face was less swollen. Kagome gave the boy another dose of the herbs and Torikku made a salve for his arm, to heal the bite mark. Without Taisho and Sota to guard the perimeter of the house he asked Kagome to walk through it several times a day with the hope her spiritual power and that of the monk would protect them. Miroku sat on one of the children’s trunks while Rin sat again turned away from him. She screamed, another nightmare racking her body at night, but each morning she found her way into the room, unspeaking and held his hand.

          “I’m not sure who brought it down, but whatever did used dark magic. The last time I saw this kind of power wielded was with the priestess Tsubaki, before we destroyed the Shikon no Tama,” he spoke freely eating an apple from the Orchard. “If you’re up to it, we can try to revive the barrier.”

          “I’ll come in the afternoon,” the bite marks had already healed from his wrist. As the Monk walked away, Sesshomaru called after him, “consider your debt repaid.”

           Miroku paused then smiled, “Kiseki just gave birth to her first son.”

          Sesshomaru leaned his head against the wall, “congratulations.”

          The monk left the room.

          “Why does she keep coming back here and doing that if she doesn’t remember you?” Yuki asked her father pointing at their joined hands.

          “Familiar,” he answered plainly.

          “But how does she know?” The little girl pressed. “She doesn’t know you.”

          “We’ve known each other a very long time Yuki,” he raised a bottle of water to his mouth with his free hand.

           “How did you meet?” She climbed into her father’s lap and nuzzled the underside of his chin.

           “Ka-san never told you?”

           “Uh-uh.”

           “She was your age,” he thumbed the back of her hand wondering if Rin was listening to them speak. Her eyes never found his. She faced away from him, at some point she would stand up and leave, returning to their room. He intended on arranging for her to go to the village. He wanted her to have some freedom and not be trapped in their room all day. She didn’t remember the day that she had tried to take his life. Nothing made sense.

           “What happened?”

           “I was injured and resting in the forest. She was going to visit her parents grave. She should have been terrified,” he said warmly giving a light shake to the woman’s hand. “I tried to scare her away, but she refused. She attempted to find food for me to eat.”

          “Why’d you leave her in Obasan’s village?”

          “It was too dangerous to allow her to stay with me. She needed to know what it meant to be human,” he sighed.

           “I bet she was mad at you.”

            “Furious. She accepted it eventually.”

            “Then you fell in love?”

             “When she was seventeen that I think you know,” he said to his daughter.

             “You just couldn’t let her go, that’s what she said. She said she tried to get away from you but you wouldn’t let her,” she covered her mouth laughing. Yuki ran a hand down Harutoga’s shoulder, “why won’t he wake up?”

            “He’ll be better soon,” he told her. “He is breathing easier. His color has-” he was cut off by Rin standing and walking out of the room. “His color has returned.”

            “I love you Chichiue,” she wrapped her arms around her father and hugged him. “Why do they keep attacking us? The snake said I was a disgrace.”

            For that he had no answer. There was a time he was the same, trying to kill his hanyou brother. He had left that part out of the story that he had attempted to kill Inuyasha and instead was hit by Kaze no Kizu. “The barrier will be up again soon.” He hoped. He rose off the ground, he had things to attend to now that he was no longer ill. “Stay with your brother Yuki. I’ll be back.”


Rin’s POV

 

            She sat in the garden, resting the soles of her feet against the warm water of the hot springs. She shrugged her shoulders, especially the left one that felt more tender than the right. His hands, she replayed touching them in her mind, but wasn’t he also the demon in her dream that tore her to shreds each night? She had scars on her back, were they from him? She folded her knees against her chest as she ran her hands through the budding daisies. Nothing made sense in the world she lived in. When he grasped her hand she felt safety and warmth, when she saw him in her dreams, she felt terror like nothing she had ever experienced.

             “Would you like to go for a walk?” Came an alto voice from behind her. It was the Healer she remembered him. He was human. He was older than she, at least she thought he was. “I’m to show you how to find the village, so you can visit the gardens if you want. Have you had more head-aches? I’m Torikku remember?”

            She nodded her head and stood up. She walked towards him cautiously. “Walk?” She was unsure she wanted to follow him. He seemed a nice middle aged man. There was always a smile on his face. Torikku-san was gentle when he checked her wounds. The tea he left when she was sick soothed her throat. It tasted like sweet lemons with a hint of something bitter hidden underneath.

            “Come on,” he motioned for her to follow. He lead her back through the bedroom where she slept and into the hallway, to the left towards an exit she hadn’t noticed.

He was standing outside the door, staring at her, Sesshomaru-sama. Her eyes went to Sesshomaru-sama’s hand. It rest on the hilt of a white pearled sword. He nodded to her as she followed Torikku out the door towards the forest. She stopped for a moment to look at the hand that was curled around the pearled hilt. The fingers were long, neither thick or slender. Timidly she reached out a finger. She skimmed the stripes on his wrist. There was no mistaking it this time, she heard his breath catch. She paused to take in his eyes, gold, like honey, with a small slit down the center. He looked young in visage with ancient eyes. Her skull radiated pain. She grunted uncomfortably, removed her fingers from his stripes and turned towards Torikku.

Outside a horse was waiting for her to ride on. She thought she heard the giggling of children but when she looked she saw nothing.

            “On the horse then,” the Healer encouraged her.

            “Walk,” she wanted to feel the earth beneath her feet. She wanted to move. She felt like she had barely moved at all in the last two weeks. What’s wrong with me? One minute I can talk the next I can barely speak?

            “Very well then,” the Healer started walking towards the forest, “this way. We’ll walk along the north wall of the house towards the village. I think you’ll like it there. There are gardens, fresh plants, fruit, vegetables, and maybe you will find a few friends.” Torikku-san carried a tall staff in one hand. His feet made the ground crunch loudly as he walked.

            “Friends?” She wondered out loud.

            “People to spend time with,” he answered her.

            “Friends.” She responded tasting the word like it was a stranger on her tongue.

            The walk took an hour. Eventually her bare feet became sore and she was grateful there was a horse for her to ride on. He led her to a hut that sat next to the gardens. “This is my home, and this garden you see, was your creation. Over here are the herbs, these ones,” he pointed to the ones directly next to the wall of the house, “are for healing. The ones over there,” he pointed to the right, “are for spicing food. The orchard past that has apples, oranges, persimmons and there is a melon patch just over there straight ahead. Each year the villagers gather together to plant this garden with you and you tend it faithfully.”

            Rin thought she heard a pop. When she turned to look, she saw a child with red hair and green eyes standing next to her. He went up to her waist, “I’ll show you what to do. Come with me,” the child grabbed her hand. He was dressed in a turquoise top and brown hikama. He wore a fur vest. His hand barely filled the space of her palm. His voice was high pitched like a bird.

            A flash of annoyance passed over Torikku’s face, “this is Shippo, one of the village children.”

            Shippo flashed a childish grin. “Come with me. There is a patch of dirt that needs to have some daikon planted.”

            For a moment she froze but the child had such a kind face. She felt like it was safe to go with him. Shippo took her to an empty plot. The dirt was dark brown with a rich smell. Shippo took a tool in his hand. It had three sharp ends on it. He took one for her as well. “Here, watch me,” he pushed the tool into the ground, then pushed the dirt aside. “Just like this, we want the dirt really easy to work with. Then we can put the seeds in.”

            She worked with the child in silence. At least she was quiet, he seemed to have so many stories to tell. He said he was a great warrior. He once fought a lizard demon, he knew some magic and he asked if after they were finished she wanted to see it. He talked about travelling with friends all over Japan and that he had helped destroy the Shikon No Tama, which she had no idea what that was.

            “Magic?” She was curious, could humans use magic too?

            “Don’t look so worried, come on this is soft enough. The bag against the hut has the seeds, I’ll show you.” Shippo’s tiny hand took hold of hers again. He led her back to Torikku’s hut. The small brown seeds made a pleasant rattle as Shippo carried them back to their plot of dirt. She bent over and followed his lead, “two seeds in each hole, use your finger like this,” he pushed a pudgy finger into the dirt, once there was a small indentation in the dirt he dropped in two seeds. Together they continued over the large plot of dirt until the bag was empty.

            She knuckled her back. It felt like it was on fire from all the work she had done. Her hands were satisfyingly coated in dirt. Her mouth turned into a smile looking at their work. It was no small plot that they had just tilled and planted, it was easily ten feet by ten feet. The sun was high in the sky beating down on them. Her back was soaked in sweat.

            “Watch this,” Shippo bent over. He placed his hands on top of the luscious soil, “don’t be scared.” He closed his eyes. A white light bled from his fingertip into the soil. The dark browns glowed. The daikon began to bubble like popcorn, golden brown as if it was coated in butter. Open mouthed purple tips burst forth from the soil. The sprouts grew inches at a time changing from purple to yellow, then bright green. They bud with leaves and rich stems that blew in the late evening air. Shippo stood up, he wiped his hands on his fur vest, “magic see? You like that?”

            Her smile was short lived. There was a scream, and then a growl behind her. Her eyes opened wide. The same things that attacked her in the forest were flying through the village. They were mostly red and green, they looked like flying serpents. “Stay behind me,” Shippo grabbed her hand. He reached into his vest, took out a flying thing and threw it at the first snake that tried to slither around her. She ducked down backing away, eyes shaking, knees giving out beneath her. The snake Shippo threw grew to ten times its size and smacked into the red thing bringing it down. Three more green ones were now coming at them. Shippo looked back at her. He shook his head. She thought she heard him say he had no choice. The little boy jumped into the air, “fox fire!” He yelled. His hands and feet lit up green, catching two of the slithering things. He dropped back down onto the ground after burning two to cinders.

            Screams erupted from the village. “Aun!” Shippo called, “Aun!” The horse came running towards her. It lowered itself so she could climb onto its back.

            Five more yokai were coming at her. She hid her face into the mane of her horse. The child continued to use the magic he claimed he had. He took a top that smashed two more snakes down, “get her out of here, fast!” She thought she heard him whisper to the horse to fly.

            Two more children with similar red hair and green eyes came running towards Shippo, “what do we do?” One of them looked like a small girl. Her green eyes looked around at the demons floating in the air attacking huts and the village. People ran from their huts screaming, blood splattered the ground.

            “How many of us are here?” Shippo asked.

            “Twenty,” the boy that was next to Shippo and slightly taller answered.

            “How many judges?” Shippo demanded.

            “Two, Hinatamaru-sama and his wife,” the little girl replied.

            “Yuna, find Hinatamaru-sama. Kaito gather the children to the center of the village. I’ll stay here and protect Rin. Kaito send someone back to the manor to get Sesshomaru-sama. Use fox fire, blast them. Rin these are my brothers and sisters, we have special fire, just stay on Aun. I’ll clear a path back to the house.”

            Kaito who stood a few inches taller than Shippo bent over, “we can’t do both.” His voice was full of concern.

            “We can’t let the village get harmed either. There aren’t many here that can fight, send someone to help them,” Shippo demanded, “we just have to keep this bunch back long enough for Sesshomaru-sama to come.”

            She screamed. Something finally wrapped around her waist. It flew her into the air. She looked down as the ground disappeared beneath her. Shippo turned into a bubble of pink with spindly arms flying after her. She struggled against the thing holding her. She looked at Shippo terrified, was he even human?

           “Jump!” Shippo encouraged her, “I’ll catch you. I wonder if his ears are as good as Inuyasha’s, maybe better. SESSHOMARU-SAMA YOKAI ATTACK!!” Shippo shrieked at the top of his lungs. His small limbs against his pink bubble struggled to catch up to the snake that held her around the waist. “I’m coming!”

             She felt faint. When she looked below she found many children running to the center of the town. They were covered in a green mist of fire. Her eyes went wide, how many magical siblings did this child have? The snake tightened its hold on her stomach. She felt like she would throw up. Then five white streaks flashed across the sky. One stopped next to her, reached out a furious claw that severed the snake holding her. She landed on top of the pink bubble that had been Shippo. “Take her back to the house,” Sesshomaru yelled at the fox child.

              He flew off, word in hand, aimed directly at the snakes. Torikku came from his hut, and the last thing Rin saw before fainting on top of the pink bulb were waves of green voltaic energy bursting from Sesshomaru-sama’s sword.


              The black stone was hidden inside of a cave that was on the other side of the lake. Miroku circled it chanting a melody of words that made no sense to Sesshomaru while the yokai held it in one hand. They had already tried twice to get the barrier back up and failed. Then he heard Shippo’s cry. He flew back to the village over the lake.

               Flying serpent like yokai had their own putrid smell like rotten carcasses. Shippo was on Rin’s guard. If the child was screaming it was because Rin was in danger. He heard Rin scream above his head. Sesshomaru ground his teeth as he flew up. With claws extended he sliced into the red snake holding her around the waist. She fell on top of a transformed Shippo. Sesshomaru glared at Shippo baring his teeth. How was Shippo going to explain this? He was supposed to be keeping Rin unaware that she was surrounded by yokai and hanyou.

              As soon as he knew Rin was safe, the Inu-yokai proceeded towards the village slashing everything in his path. There were too many innocents for him to send large waves of Bakusaiga. He slashed through snakes left and right. This time it seemed like there were several hundred, “pull back!” He yelled at the villagers and the fox children who were almost invisible in a cloud of green fire, “pull behind me!” He landed on the ground, “get the villagers behind me. Do not let them cross this line,” he spoke to the inu-yokai who accompanied him, “as soon as everyone is safe, this Sesshomaru will finish this.”

             The dog demons made quick work of flying every last villager behind him. Hinatamaru came by Sesshomaru’s side, “fox shield!” He called to the children, “make it high enough, with flexible top, highest ranking children in the front!” A green barrier steamed from the ground high into the sky, with hands that caught demons that tried to break through. The last of the villagers were placed behind the fiery green barrier. As they did Miroku and Kagome made their way to the front.

             “Save your arrows Miko,” Sesshomaru swung Bakusaiga in one fell swoop sending a gigantic burst of energy at the hoard of demons destroying them only seconds. Sesshomaru smelled the air. That was the last of them. He turned to Hinatamaru, “well done. You’ve trained the children well.”

             Hinatamaru nodded at Sesshomaru, “it was Shippo’s quick thinking to gather the children in the square and contain the yokai. The child surprises me day in and day out. He learned a lot from your brother Inuyasha.”

           Sesshomaru rolled his golden eyes, “half-brother.”

          “Sesshomaru-sama, my name is Kaito. Shippo told Rin-sama that we were a family of magicians. She believed it. She wasn’t scared until the yokai grabbed her around the waist.”

         That child thinks on his feet. Sesshomaru almost smiled. He needed to return to his home. Yuki and Harutoga were still in their room. “Hinatamaru, we will discuss safety later for now, join me in my home tonight for a feast to celebrate our victory.” Damn diplomacy. But Hinatamaru was proving to be an invaluable ally and the fox children were exceptional at keeping Rin unaware of those around her that would cause her fear.


          When he returned home that evening, he found Rin asleep in her bed. Atsuko sat outside the door with a scroll in her hands bare feet crossed. Sesshomaru sniffed the air by the door and shook his head.

          “Shippo floated her into bed Sesshomaru-sama. She’s been asleep since the attack. The children are in the family dining room waiting for dinner. Hisato reported that nothing made it through to the home.”

           “Harutoga woke up?”

           “Yes and he’s starving,” she said happily.

            Sesshomaru growled something, opened the door to his room enough to see that Rin was tossing fitfully in her sleep.


           Rin lay against Sesshomaru. His hand rest on the small bump in her stomach. She told him only three months before that she was carrying his child. He lay awake on a bed furs underneath a grove of trees in a forest after a long day of travelling. She was pressed into his side. It was the middle of the night as usual he lay awake thinking about whatever came to his mind while Rin slept. She tossed fitfully. Her skin was slick with sweat. Concern washed over him. He knew what she was dreaming of. He pulled her closer to his chest. The action was a mistake. Her hand shot like a snake for her knife. It came up to his neck faster than he expected a human to be able to move. He blocked it at the last second. Her other arm was already reaching for her katana. Sesshomaru grabbed that wrist too. When she screamed, he covered her mouth with his own, until she registered with whom she was with. Her eyes filled with tears at the sight of Sesshomaru. She dropped her knife.

          “I’m sorry,” she covered her eyes to hide her embarrassment, “I’m sorry,” the tears bled like a rapids from her eyes. Her shoulders shook, her hair was matted to her face.

           He said nothing. He knew what it was. It was the same dream she had since she was a child. The same one where he used to allow her to sleep in his mokomoko at night as a child. Sesshomaru pulled Rin back down onto his bare chest. She was still naked from their lovemaking earlier. He stroked the hair from her face down her shoulders and rubbed her back until her hiccupping and crying ceased.

           “I hate that dream,” she nuzzled her nose into Sesshomaru’s neck, “I wish I would stop having it.”

            He continued stroking her hair. He didn’t know what to answer her.

            “Sesshomaru?” Her eyes were puffy and red.

            “Mmh?” His fingers continued to run lines from her scalp to the ends of her hair.

            “Do you…can…do…” she dropped her chin onto his chest. She moved her hand over his skin giving him goosebumps. She reached for the right one. She thread her fingers through his.

            “What, my heart?” Her scent was slowly changing from fear back to spring flowers in the morning light. Comfort, he was her comfort and he knew it.

           “Does my smell change, when I’m having the nightmare?”

             “Yes.”

              “Can you wake me up next time? Please? If my smell changes, please?” She sat up, her eyes plead with him to save her from the brigands killing her family.

             “Of course, lay down,” she rolled onto her side facing away from him. He turned in kind, wrapping one arm around her stomach stroking the mound, “does he move yet?” He asked that question often when she was pregnant with Yuki.

             “Sometimes,” Rin answered sleepily, she turned her head to the side, “kiss me?”

              He obliged, leaning over, taking the back of her neck in his hands and covering her mouth with his own. It was a passionate kiss, that left his body buzzing, “sleep Rin.” He stroked her cheek, her heart was still racing “I am here.”

           “Do you feel that?” She moved his hand higher on her cantaloupe sized bump. Little ripples tickled his fingers, “she’s strong like you.”

            It was the first time he felt Yuki move. He couldn’t speak. As Rin slept that night, his hand remained against her stomach feeling the baby move.


            “Atsuko, wake her,” Sesshomaru ordered the maid.

            “Are you sure?”

             “Wake her. Rin would not want her nightmares to swallow her like this. Wake her.” Sesshomaru stood by the door as Atsuko entered. He watched through the hinge. The maid knelt down nervously by the bed. She shook Rin’s shoulder that was bathed in sweat.

               Rin screamed throwing her arms around Atsuko’s thicker figure. She cried into her neck. She screamed about Sesshomaru-sama attacking her. She asked if he gave her the scars on her back. She begged to know the truth about him. Was he really a nice person? Why was he always in her dreams? Sesshomaru’s claws dug into the marble walls tracing jagged furious lines.

             “Will ka-san ever come back?” Sesshomaru failed to notice Harutoga come up to him. “She’s always scared.”

            Sesshomaru bent down. He picked his son up, “did you eat?” Harutoga looked like his mother, especially the brown eye. As Harutoga grew, and his eyes changed from blue, Rin and Sesshomaru marveled at the different colored eyes. On one side his eyes mirrored his father and the other he mirrored his mother. Regardless Sesshomaru knew the child would be powerful when he was older.

           “Not yet, Hisato said we had to wait for you,” Harutoga grumbled. “Can you come now? I’m all better now.”

            Sesshomaru waggled his head, annoyed to leave Rin. She was already calming under Atsuko’s care. He walked back down the hallway glowing from the torches lighting the way carrying Harutoga . I can’t help her. Not yet.

Chapter Text

Rin’s POV

 

            It was chasing her again, but stopped. He was in his human-like form he was fighting something, he put his claws through its chest. When his hand came out the thing he fought did not disappear. He transformed into a large white dog and then attacked again, but suddenly she was the thing he was attacking. She felt her had detach from her body. She woke screaming again.

 

            She couldn’t breathe. She touched her neck. It was still attached. Her body was wet, covered in sweat. Her lungs were burning. She sputtered out clipped coughs in a vain attempt to catch her breath. She stood up and flopped against the cold granite walls. It would be morning soon. The light from outside was beginning to change. She glanced out the window. The little ones were sleeping at the base of the tree again. Sesshomaru-sama had his hands on their shoulders. They used his hips for pillows. She wanted to walk out to the garden, but she was too scared to face him alone. His eyes were on her. She could feel them and see them. Why does he always look at me?

            She took several deep breaths and decided to risk it, just to splash the warm water from the spring on to her face. She craved the fresh air, and to rinse the sweat from her arms. She got as far as the door before she stopped again. His eyes were the strangest color gold, cat like with black slits. He wore only hikama, nothing else. She wondered if he ever slept. Throughout the night when the nightmares came, he was always awake out there. She was tired of feeling tired, of not sleeping through the night, of being haunted by the white dog with red angry eyes, of the yokai that rested at the base of the tree outside her room.

            She took another labored breath and slowly opened the door that led to the garden. She met his eyes. They weren’t raging like they were in her dreams. She inched towards the hot springs, not taking her eyes off him for a minute. His hands moved to lace around one upraised knee. Hands, she thought, why do they look so familiar? Fire ants crawled through her mind again with the thought.

She tried to distract herself by thinking about the cool grass against her feet. The grass was luscious and thick, wet with a morning dew. Her lips shivered. She thought at any moment he would get off the floor of the tree and turn into a dog and eat her. He made no moves. She remembered what he said, he was an inu-yokai.

            She slumped down, barely catching her breath by the hot springs. She splashed water onto her face, in her mouth and on her arms. Her eyes remained watchful.

            “Another nightmare?” His tenor voice floated from his place by the tree.

            She turned to him, her eyes half hooded.

            He pointed to his ears, “I heard you scream.” He sat up and lifted one bundle with only white hair off his lap, then the other with the black streak. She could see he was also cautious as he rose from his place. Sesshomaru walked towards her and sat down several feet away. His left hand rested next to his side.

            She couldn’t resist. His hand was the only thing that she seemed to recognize, something about the stripes. She turned around to meet his gaze. He saw her staring at his hand. He raised it up to her and scooted closer until he was only a foot from her. He held out both to her, palms up. There was anticipation in his eyes. She warily reached cautious fingers. She ran the tips of her middle and ring finger down his smallest finger until she traced the lines of his palms and muttered quietly, “familiar.”

            “Yes,” he echoed just as quietly, “familiar.”

            “Why?” She wrapped her fingers around his palm, turned it over and traced the purple stripes. She felt her heartbeat calm somewhat. The word comfort came to mind. “Why?”

            “I’m afraid you wouldn’t understand. Would it be okay if I moved a little closer? I won’t hurt you.”

            She shook her head vehement that he should keep his distance. Her head was beginning to hurt again. She touched the left side, trying to will the pain away. She turned away from him keeping her fingers wrapped around the palm of his left hand.

            He seemed content to allow her to hold his hand.

            “Y…your…ch…ch…children?” She pointed at the two lumps by the tree.

            “Yes,” he moved slightly forward, only so he could cover the top of her hand with his own. He carefully ran his fingers up and down the top of her wrist. The movement felt reassuring.

            “M…m…mother…where?”

            His eyes darkened, his face seemed sad to her. “Gone,” his voice changed pitch when he answered.

            “Sad,” she mumbled.

            “Yes, sad.” He agreed voice full of melancholy. Those words made his body slump, for once he was the one that looked away from her.


            The door to the garden opened, Atsuko walked in with her head bowed, “forgive me for interrupting Sesshomaru-sama. Inuyasha-sama has arrived. He and Kagome-sama are waiting for you in the dining room.”

            “I have to get up now,” Sesshomaru didn’t want to move. Rin still held tight to his left hand, like a child. Her touch felt electric against his skin. Two and a half weeks, and this is the closest she has allowed me. She refused to meet his eyes. Sesshomaru wanted to hold onto this moment, her hand in his, the early morning air crisp and clean. Her heartbeat was steady for once. She almost smelled like his Rin.

            “Familiar,” she repeated, her shoulders shuddering. “Bad dreams.” Rin pulled his hand against her cheek until his thumb rested just below her mouth.

            “Tell him to settle in his room. I will speak to them by breakfast,” Sesshomaru paused, “would you like to eat breakfast with us again?” He rubbed the top of Rin’s hand with his thumb to get her attention.

            She didn’t answer. Her gaze was towards the hot springs. Her legs folded Indian style. The only sign of their connection were their intertwined fingers laced together.

            “Bring her for lunch,” he told Atsuko, “now leave us.” He waved his hand bidding Atsuko to leave the garden.

Curiously Rin reached out the other hand and traced his claws, “be careful,” it was already too late, she grazed his middle finger with her own cutting into her finger. He grabbed her finger and put it in his mouth, letting his tongue take in the cut for a second, “they’re very sharp.”

            She appeared scared for a fleeting second. As he released her hand, Rin did something even stranger. She touched his lips with the tips of her fingers, “familiar.” She traced her fingers over the top lip and then the bottom lip. Her face was mere inches from his own.

            He leaned his face into the palm of her hand, scared that he would lose the waning self-control he currently had and tackle her in one bound. He put his hand over hers as she continued to caress his lips, “yes,” he dared to kiss the tip of her fingers, “familiar.”

            Rin took her hand away from his face, inspected where the cut had already healed on her finger, then turned away from him. She continued to hold his hand in hers tightly as if her existence depended on her connection to him. They sat there together like that for what seemed like hours, until he heard her stomach rumbling and the hot summer sun began to rise. Without warning she released his hand, stood up and walked back into the bedroom. He felt like his heart followed in her footsteps. My heart, will you ever come back to me?

            He left the children to wake on their own that morning. Sesshomaru walked through their room into the hallway, down to the dining room. “Put a shirt on,” he heard an angry voice from behind him.

            “Inuyasha,” he folded his arms and turned around. “You’re here.” He grabbed Inuyasha by the throat and slammed him against the wall, “half-breed.”

            Inuyasha kicked Sesshomaru in the stomach grazing the skin, drawing blood, then flipped over his head and landed on the other side, “okay, I’m going to assume this is just pent up frustration, damn it!”

Sesshomaru swung with his right hand, claws extended, then his left, Inuyasha dodged then threw blades at Sesshomaru’s face.

            “Would you two stop it!” Kagome was standing only feet from them stamping her feet in anger.

            Inuyasha countered Sesshomaru’s attack by grabbing his arm and attempting to pin it behind his brother’s back. Sesshomaru flipped over and flung Inuyasha into the wall causing his nose to bleed. “I hope this is making you feel better, Aniki,” Inuyasha’s voice was dripping in sarcasm.

            “Much,” Sesshomaru threw another clawed hand at Inuyasha and then stopped and punched the wall as hard as he could, breaking through several layers of granite that shattered onto the floor. Sesshomaru huffed into the dining room motioning them to follow. “I expect to do this again.”

            Inuyasha folded his arms in his red haori and rolled his eyes, “if it helps I suppose. How is she?”

            Sesshomaru stood by the window, staring at the field, that lead to the forest. He closed his eyes. “The same. No memories only nightmares about me. This ‘amnesia’ you mentioned, is it possible to remember only the bad things?”

            He heard one of the chairs scraping against the ground, “I don’t think it’s that selective. Are they just nightmares?” The Miko asked him.

            His body shivered in the sunlight, his head hung low, “no, there is a familiarity to them. Like they are coming from real memories. She still has head-aches when the memories try to surface.” He left out that she tried to kill him.

            “I couldn’t find anything useful from my time. It seems like it’s retrograde amnesia but all that tells me is that she forgot everything before she was hurt. Normally we would try to help her understand who she is, I think anyway.”

            “She doesn’t know who she is,” Sesshomaru growled angrily, “she doesn’t accept who she is. She’s gone. I should just let her go,” he touched the root-like scar on  his chest, “the great Sesshomaru should just let this break, then I will be rid of the bond that ties me to her.”

            “You really want to give up?” Inuyasha punched Sesshomaru in the back. The pain radiated up his spine. “Coward.”

            “I would caution your words, Inuyasha.”

            “Make me, Sesshomaru,” Inuyasha went to hit him again. Sesshomaru whirled around caught his fist and threw Inuyasha through the window into the field. He flew out the window after Inuyasha and they renewed their sparring. There were kicks, and claws, and skin being torn.

            Kagome sat at the table with her head in her hands, “I’ll just have to wait it out. At least they aren’t using their katanas.”

            “Same idiots as always right?” Shippo jumped into Kagome’s arms.

            “Shippo-chan!” Kagome hugged the little fox demon close to her chest.

            “You are pathetic,” Inuyasha challenged Sesshomaru as he dodged dokkasu to his face, “if you really loved her, you wouldn’t let her go so easily.”

            Sesshomaru’s eyes pitched red for a moment, “I am not letting her go. She is lost.”

            Inuyasha kicked Sesshomaru in the face, not before he was thrown across the field once again. His feet landed in the meadow tearing up the flowers and grass, “then find her.”

            “And how do you suggest I find someone who won’t let me near them? Huh?” He grabbed Inuyasha around the neck. Inuyasha used Sesshomaru’s chest to flip out of his grip, and rammed his claws into his brother’s chest spilling his blood.

            “Court her,” Inuyasha threw a punch and dodged a kick from Sesshomaru.

            “Court?” Sesshomaru was incredulous, he backed away from Inuyasha ceasing the battle, “explain?”

            “She doesn’t know you, so get to know her again. Court her. Bring her flowers, chocolate, write her poetry? You know, let her know who she is to you.”

            “She doesn’t know who she is, how could she understand who she is to me?”

            “I’m telling you try it,” Inuyasha walked back towards the open window, “your servants are going to clean that up right?”

            Sesshomaru snarled, lashed out with his whip and tripped Inuyasha as he climbed into the window. “Court her?”

            There was a crash on the other side of the window. “Yes, court her, asshole.”

            “Idiots,” Shippo giggled before popping away from Kagome’s lap to escape Sesshomaru.


            Miroku paced by the black stone chanting again. A week and he had no luck getting the barrier up again. There had been no further attacks, the snakes retreated, the other lesser demons didn’t exactly avoid their home but rather were forced to by the many who killed them during the day. He, Kagome, Sesshomaru and the Sentinels spent ample time ridding the forest of demons that would infest the village. But the barrier refused to be raised. He threw his staff into the wall and kicked a stone bruising his toes. “Whoever did this is stopping us from putting it back up,” he told Sesshomaru.

            The demon removed his hand from the stone maintaining his own internal fury.

            “Everyone knows about this place,” Miroku paced back and forth, “but no one is able to remove the barrier but you. Who could use dark magic?”

            “None that I know of,” he leaned against the wall of the cave pensive.

            “Would you have felt it?”

            “Yes,” he grit his teeth, “I was not here.”

            “Are your comings and goings public knowledge?” Miroku continued pacing.

            “Only among the staff of the home. Rin…”

            “Is it possible she spoke to someone?”

            “She has many friends in the village, none that possess this kind of power.”

            “Nobuatsu is dai-yokai?”

            “Yes but a peace-maker,” Sesshomaru hacked into the wall making the cave shake. “He is not a fighter that is why he is here.”

            “Who else?”

            “Akari’s husband, Hineko…their relationship caused their expulsion from their lands. They would have nothing to gain, she and Rin are friends.” He exited the cave.

            “Your sentinels? Do any of them have a reason to hate you?”

            “One,” he whispered with his teeth bared.


Rin’s POV

 

            She took her breakfast that day in her room when she heard a knock on the door. The door opened, an unfamiliar face came inside. She was dressed strangely, not like the other women in the home. The woman wore a short skirt and a short sleeve shirt with shoes that were black with glowing straps. Her hair was black and frizzy like her own. Her stomach flipped at the new face. She was barely used to the ones that she saw. “Hi Rin,” the girl sat down on the bedding where she was eating.

            She didn’t answer. She looked away from the person staring at her.

            “You really don’t know me do you?” She scratched her head, “I’m Kagome, you lived in the same village as me when you were a child, before that you lived with Sesshomaru. I’m like your big sister. Do you remember Sesshomaru? You’ve known him since you were a little girl, then you guys fell in love once you got older. It’s actually a really cute story. You have two children together, Yuki and Harutoga…Rin?”

            There were too many words coming at her, flooding her senses. She was what to Sesshomaru? She was a mother? This woman was her sister? She couldn’t breathe. It was just too much information. She stood up and bolted for the door. She slammed it open, ran to the left where the exit was and into the forest. She tried to remember her way to the village. Her mind was racing too quickly to allow her. Instead she just ran as fast as she could blindly into the forest. Trees lashed out at her arms and legs, cutting into her skin, causing small drops of blood to drip down her ankles. Her feet felt like they were on fire beating against the warm forest floor. She couldn’t breathe again. She wanted to run until her lungs collapsed, until a memory would surface. Why am I so scared of him? Dreams, bad dreams, nightmares, who am I? Who am I? She looked down at her own hands, his hands why do I know them? She traced the line of her own palm, then she heard a snap of wood behind her. She heard low growling, she turned around. Bears? Wolves?

            Her heart was beating so quickly, she felt dizzy, her stomach riled again, and she fell to the forest floor heaving everything that she had just eaten. That’s when she saw it come out of the shadows of the forest, a large black bear. Her eyes widened, she slowly walked backwards until her back hit the trunk of a magnolia, help me…someone…

            It’s eyes were bloodshot. It’s mouth hung open, dripping the forest floor with hungry drool. Its teeth looked sharped and it howled at her. She dropped to her knees turning away from it. She cowered against the base of the magnolia with her hands over her ears. She prepared for it to sink its teeth into her when a black robe came flying over her head. It pulled out a katana and lashed at the bear, the bear screamed in pain and ran away. She stopped to look at the figure, “Torikku-san,” she whispered.

            “The forest isn’t safe to come alone and unarmed,” he walked towards her and held out his hand, “come on, it’s okay, you can get up now.”

            She shook her head refusing to move then put her face into her knees.

            “Torikku,” a deep voice beat into the forest air from behind Torikku.

            “Sesshomaru-sama,” Torikku seemed surprised, “she was just almost eaten by a bear, it’s lucky I happened along.”

            “I noticed,” Sesshomaru’s voice was icy, “leave us.”

            “She is afraid of you Sesshomaru-sama,” Torikku reminded him. “Let me get her back to your home, I will treat the cuts on her legs.”

            Sesshomaru thought about it for a moment, grumbled and then agreed. Torikku leaned back down next to her, “come on. It’s over now. The monster is gone.”

            “Monster?” Her eyes tracked to Sesshomaru, “no,” she whimpered, her legs were crossed and bent to her eyes, “monster, memories, head,” she touched her head, then she caught sight of Sesshomaru’s hands within his white haori, “familiar?”

            Sesshomaru looked at her confused.

            She lowered her head into her knees. She held out one shaking hand. Her tears soaked through her torn clothing onto her knees, down her skin and puddled between her feet. “Familiar,” she wept into her knees. The cry was a desperate plea.

“Familiar,” the tenor voice was much closer now. She felt the soft hand enter her own. He stroked the back of her hand, and traced the lines on her palm, “familiar, my heart.”

            “Heart?” She asked broken, “who’s heart?” She refused to look up. She knew the hand though, she felt like she would know it even if she didn’t see it.

            “Mine,” he whispered softly and sat down next to her. “Leave us Torikku. It seems she is scared of you too. The Miko can care for her wounds.”

            Torikku walked away.

            “Heart,” she tested the word on her tongue, “tree,” she held her head and closed her eyes, “trees, rocks,” she grimaced and grunted, sweating back the pain, “men, snakes.”

            “Are you remembering something?” His voice was so soothing. He summoned the courage to touch the top of her head. He stroked her hair with the tips of his claws. I love when you do that with your claws, it feels like heaven. That is what she told him, when he brushed over her brow, sinking his claws in just enough to make her skin tingle. He wondered if this Rin felt the same way.

            “Pain, pain,” she held her head trying to push it away. She beat at her temple, “hurt,” she touched her back.

            “You’re remembering something,” he knelt down, “Rin?”

            “No…no…no…Rin,” she shook her head back and forth. She raised her brown eyes to his, for a moment she felt, she didn’t know what it was for him, undeniable knowledge, a connection, “My…lo…”


            Sesshomaru’s heart travelled to his stomach she couldn’t complete the words, it ended with her screaming so loudly birds flew from the trees. He nearly recoiled himself from the sound. She clasped her head with her hands, her eyes turned white and slumped against the tree. He collapsed next to her, lifting her limp chin, “did you just try to remember me, my heart? The second time I kissed you. You were under the trees on top of a large boulder in a mountain. Your back was hurt. The start of our relationship?” He rest his forehead against hers, and touched her lips with his own, “what’s stopping you from getting your memories back? Who’s feeding you these nightmares?” He picked up Rin’s frail body and cradled her against his chest. Sesshomaru flew into the air, holding her closely. He landed at the back entrance. He returned her to their bed. Letting her go was the most arduous labor he had ever done in his life. He covered her with the top blanket that was now aqua blue. He kissed her forehead, taking advantage of her fainting.

            Kagome came into the room, “I’m sorry O-ni-sama. I think I overloaded her with too much information.”

            Sesshomaru ignored Kagome and wiped the sweat soaked brow clean of wet hair. “Leave us,” he barked at Kagome.

            “I’ll go see how my niece and nephew are holding up. I brought crayons for Harutoga so he can draw pictures.” Kagome took one more glance at Sesshomaru with Rin, shook her head allowing tears to fall from her eyes and walked out to the garden where the children were sleeping.


            Sesshomaru reluctantly left Rin’s side. He knew that if she woke with him so close, it would take them further backwards than forwards. He left the room and walked down the hallway, “I can smell you fox child, come out,” he caught it by the tail and glared at it. It shook in his hands, “Find Hinatamaru, tell him to come to my study.”

            He glided towards his study. His mind was a fury of thoughts and questions. Mainly why did Rin only have nightmares about him? Why wasn’t she having dreams about anything else? He had let pranksters into his house. Perhaps they thought this was a fun game? As soon as Hinatamaru flitted into the study Sesshomaru grabbed him by the throat and slammed Hinatamaru against the wall, “did you do something to Rin? Was it too much seeing her at dinner six weeks ago, that you thought you would take her memories?”

            Hinatamaru clawed at Sesshomaru’s unrelenting hand, “it’s against or rules,” he gulped trying to breathe, “to do something,” he choked, “like that.”

            “Then tell me, is there something that could hold her memories back and only feed her nightmares?” Sesshomaru dug his claws into the fox demons furry neck, “I warn you I will know a lie.”

            “That’s…” he coughed again and beat at Sesshomaru’s arm, “beyond our,” he tried kicking his chubby feet to no success, “magic.”

            Sesshomaru released him. Hinatamaru sunk to the ground. Sesshomaru smelled the truth on him and howled filling the hallway with rage and mournful cries. He sunk into his chair and knuckled his forehead. Jaken came scurrying in with a scroll with a look of horror on his face. “No, Jaken, whatever it is, no!” He yelled furiously.

            “The southern border,” Jaken persisted.

            “No,” Sesshomaru’s fangs were growing, his teeth ground in fury. His were tinted red around the edges, ready to swallow the green demon whole.

            “It’s fallen Sesshomaru-sama. I know you want to help Rin, but you can’t stay here any longer, if you don’t go now everything you have fought for will fail,” Jaken slammed Nintojo onto the ground.

            “No,” Sesshomaru reached for a scroll and threw it at Jaken’s head, “I will not leave her again, not like this.”

            “The border?” Jaken stammered backing away.

            “Send Inuyasha,” Sesshomaru commanded, “it should be easy enough for Tetsusaiga to handle.” I will not leave Rin vulnerable like this.

            “Won’t that make you look weak?” Jaken questioned him with trembling hands and a downcast face.

            “You dare call this Sesshomaru weak?” He raised one of his claws. Sesshomaru picked up Jaken by the front of his pathetic brown robe, “do you need a reminder of my power?”

            “No…no….very well Sesshomaru-sama I will see if Inuyasha will go,” he scuttled from the study.

            “If I may Sesshomaru-sama,” Hinatamaru sat down across from Sesshomaru’s desk, “if she is only having nightmares of you, why not give her good dreams? Surely you know how to lull a human into a dream-trance.”

            Sesshomaru snarled, “that is a trick of pathetic, lesser demons.” He knuckled his forehead annoyed, tired, frustrated, a ball of emotions that would only resolve themselves if the one he loved returned to him.

            “It’s one of our best ones,” Hinatamaru insisted.

            “Exactly,” Sesshomaru agreed, “pathetic lesser demons.”

            “Sesshomaru-sama, if you lull your mate into a trance and spend the night with her and the bad dreams don’t come, you’ll know that someone or should I say something is controlling what she sees at night. I assume you bonded her?”

            “What do you know about Inu-yokai bonds?” Sesshomaru wanted to rip Hinatamaru’s throat out. These were things not talked about in public. They were private conversations meant for those that were bonded to each other and explained to children when they reached the proper age. Sesshomaru wanted to curse for he was also undeniably curious. Like the arrogant idiot he was centuries ago when his father tried to explain it to him, he claimed love and bonds made one weak, therefore the great Sesshomaru would never have need of them.

            “I know that our bonds are similar,” Hinatamaru stroked his red beard, “a part of you lives inside of your Rin. Nourish that part of her. Something afoul is happening to her. The fox children have heard her cries at night. They tell me that she screams about a great dog demon attacking her. Someone wants her to be scared of you. If it is beneath you to do such a thing allow me to aid you. Let Shippo send her into a dream-trance. He can give her child-like dreams. If she wakes with no nightmares you will know someone is manipulating her.”

            “No one goes to her bedroom at night,” Sesshomaru felt his skin crawling at the thought of someone else entering her dreams. “What do you mean nourish the bond?”

            Hinatamaru sat up and smiled, “do you remember when you bonded her? I assume the bond is sealed the same way ours is,” there was a red sheen on his plump cheeks. “Make love to her Sesshomaru-sama while she sleeps. The same way you did when you bonded her. Through your bond it’s safe to send small amounts of your yoki into her body. These small amounts already happen, when you comfort her, when you kiss her, when you share happy moments. Your yoki is powerful Sesshomaru-sama, perhaps the most powerful in this age. If something else is manipulating her dreams, it won’t be able to while you are engaging your bond to her. It will protect her. I assume your father never had the chance to explain how powerful the connection could be, even if it is not reciprocated. And I assume a Dai-Yokai with your reputation thought love was beneath him until the little girl that used to follow him around became of age?”

            Sesshomaru stared ahead and shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Is that is all that is similar between us?”

            Hinatamaru gave Sesshomaru a quizzical look, “how do you mean?”

            “Children?” He would not say more than this, it was already more than he wanted to discuss in shared company.

            “If she were a demoness, she would send her yoki through the bond calming you, allowing you to channel the flood of yoki required to create a child. Creating a child is sacred, that is why it feels like a raging river. You’ve injured her in the past haven’t you to conceive your children? As Rin is human, I’ve heard in some mixed couples where the male simultaneously channels the yoki to create a child that causes his mind to become feral through his seed and the bond at the same time, the yoki in the bond. Humans can feel the bond even if they can’t create it. Find her love for you if you tap into the bond during that moment it would calm the raging river you feel. Think about it Sesshomaru. Give her good dreams. Being away from her the way you have, your bond is ragged now isn’t it?”

             “Leave,” he waved his hand and lowered his head into his waiting hands. If I don’t do something, I will lose all we sacrificed to create. Perhaps giving her a good dream, is exactly what she needs. Sesshomaru shut his eyes, he touched his heart, it ached, it felt like it was aflame with need. His bond was ragged, he needed Rin.

            There was a sharp knock on the door, Akari’s head peaked through the door, “Sesshomaru-sama? May I speak with you for a moment.”

            “Enter,” he sat back in his chair doing his best to give her the same stoic icy glare he always had.

            “Um…forgive me for asking a question of this personal nature, but is it possible Rin-sama is pregnant?” Akari’s red eyes were like fire.

            “What are you talking about?” Yes it’s very possible…His stomach pitched, that was the one time he had completely lost control of the flood of yoki inflicting the worst injuries on Rin. Even if she did provoke him it wasn’t an excuse for what he did.  

            “It’s just, I’ve noticed she seems like her stomach is more upset in the morning the last two weeks,” Akari folded her hands across her stomach, “I know how quickly hanyou children form. She didn’t cycle when you were gone. I would have known. I make the cloths for her.”

            “Leave me,” Sesshomaru needed to be alone. The southern border was falling, Rin had no memory and now Akari was telling him that Rin may be pregnant. Rin knew both times within a month or two, but the way she was now, she wouldn’t know her own body well enough to know what it was. He couldn’t ask her. Sesshomaru closed his eyes, trying to focus on breathing. Perhaps Hinatamaru was correct, perhaps it was time he gave her more pleasant dreams at night, but he was loathe to sink to the level of yokai that manipulated women in their sleep. But she is already yours, she has already given you children. You have already tasted every inch of her body, what harm would there be? And to taste her again…The voice in the back of his head persisted. He felt the effects of their distance from one another. It wasn’t just the physical aspect, it was more than that. It was the closeness they shared. The way she greeted him at the entrance. The midnight conversations, even training with Rin. The walks along the river together with their children haunted his mind, he wanted to bring Rin, his Rin back out of the husk that cowered in their room.

            There was another nock on the door, “what?” He yelled and threw a book at the door.

            “Chichiue?” It was Yuki’s voice.

            “What?” He howled at the door and immediately regretted it.

            “Sorry…nothing,” the weakened voice left. He heard her claws click against the floor as she walked away.

            He sat back in his chair. His father had attempted to explain the bonding process when Sesshomaru was close to four hundred years old. He wanted nothing to do with it then, it was beneath him at the time. He felt that love was for the weak of heart who simpered silly ditties and then died on their swords. Sesshomaru folded his hands together and rest his forehead against his knuckles. His father had only gotten as far as how to create the bond before Sesshomaru walked out of the room barking about how his father was fool. I should have asked more questions. He let his eyelids go slack. It only took a few days to understood how much that bond controlled him once he sealed it. His mind shifted back to the days where Rin was recovering from her injuries after the snake demon incident.


            After the third day when Rin woke and they made love the second time, she was awake for longer intervals, but still spent the majority of her time asleep. The healing process was slow. The bruises took their time fading from her back. By the fourth day Sesshomaru slipped away from her during the night leaving his outer haori as a blanket for her while she slept under the sakura tree. He made a quick trip to find Jaken and instruct him to bring clean clothes for Rin and herbs for her injured back. She could still barely stand on her own. Her legs wobbled beneath her when she tried. When she did take a few steps she limped from the bruising on her back. As he returned he considered that she may be tired of fish and decided to spend the early morning hours before she woke in a tree waiting for something more fulfilling for both of them to come his way. Specifically sika deer which were plentiful in the area. Their smell wafted into his senses for days. Sesshomaru knew that Rin liked cooked meat. So he waited as the morning hours came. Half his mind was on Rin, the other half waiting for delicate hoofs to make their way to his perch.

            A small female came into his eyeline. She lowered her long neck down and plucked daintily at the moist luscious grass. A half grin creased Sesshomaru’s lips. He was out of the tree with his claws slicing through her neck, warm blood spilling satisfyingly onto his hand before the doe knew what was happening. In that same moment he heard Rin’s raised voice. He heard a thud, several seconds later her awareness came into his mind. She had the sword in her hand. She was furious. Her mind focused, a cusp of fear lingered in the back of her thoughts. He heard another thud, and then her cry again. He dropped the doe and sped through the forest dodging trees towards Rin.

            She was surrounded by three thugs. They were much larger than her, barely dressed. They stunk of male arousal and sake. Rin’s left hand held one thug on the ground with the whip around his legs burning into his skin. The other two were attempting to restrain her arms and legs. Rin slammed her forehead into the one in front of her. She jumped into the air, swung her legs out in a spread eagle and closed her ankles around the neck of the one in front of her. Her ankles twisted the man’s neck in an unnatural direction, a wicked snap echoed in the morning air. She threw his body on the ground. Sesshomaru saw red, he could smell fresh blood, her blood it exsanguinated into his senses. His eyes pitched red. He howled. He wasn’t sure what happened next, until he heard garbled words that reverberated like they were under water. “Sesshomaru, stop, Sesshomaru!”

            Then he felt warmth, something warm entered his mouth like honey. It tickled the roof of his mouth, it capered across his tongue, it made the muffled sounds clearer, “Sesshomaru it’s okay now.” There was a small hand on his cheek keeping his mouth captured.

            He blinked his eyes. Rin’s hands dug into his shoulders. She was pushing him back. There were two dead bodies on the ground. The third one was missing. Her sword was next to her feet. “Sesshomaru, stop,” she pulled his face to hers. Her eyes were bloodshot. “Since when do you transform over humans? Come here,” she pulled his mouth to hers again. The movement of her tongue against his fangs brought his mind back to its senses.

            “Transform?” Sesshomaru pulled away from Rin. He touched his heart. It felt like it was on fire. He touched her left elbow, “you’re hurt.”

            “Nothing compared to my back, ow,” her knees finally gave. Sesshomaru caught her. He let his body fall with hers until he was sitting cross legged with Rin in his lap. He cringed, their smell was on her frame. He kissed her neck. “Did they hurt you?”

            “No. Stop that. Turn your eyes back,” she stroked the stripes on his cheeks, “calm down.”

            Sesshomaru lowered his head and grunted. He forced his body to relax. Deep breathing quenched the fire behind his eyes. He shifted his body to pull Rin closer to him, his eyes roamed over her. There was only a gash on her left arm to show for the struggle she was just in. “They touched what is mine,” Sesshomaru felt very serious. He lifted Rin’s injured arm to his mouth. He gingerly kissed the cut.

            “That’s better my golden eyed one,” Rin nuzzled Sesshomaru’s chest. “You interrupted my fun. I could have taken all three of them.”

            His chest vibrated with suppressed laughter, “with a bruised back against three of them? How were you planning on incapacitating the one that had your arms if I didn’t claw his neck?”

            “Either flipped my body over his shoulders to take his neck in my thighs and suffocate him, or use his weight against him, then stab him with my knife,” Rin’s confidence knew no bounds, “I’m not a helpless eight year old anymore. Even injured I can handle three thugs by myself.” Rin rubbed her left shoulder and rotated it.

            “You can barely stand on your own, barely walk,” Sesshomaru kissed her cheek. “You should have called for me. You over exerted yourself.”

            “Even in this position I could break your neck if you were human,” Rin twirled his hair in her hand. She reached her hands up, grabbed his chin with one, the side of his neck with the other and twisted it slightly.

            “And if I had your hands,” his hands embraced hers, pulled them to her sides. The next thing he knew her legs were bent up against his neck, one foot under his chin the other against his neck, “very useful legs.” He pushed them down.

            He suddenly realized how irrational and uncharacteristically he had behaved. Transform for pathetic, weak humans?

“Is this what you meant when you said you would become more possessive and jealous? Ouch, this is going to set me back healing a few days,” she collapsed against his chest. She rubbed her left shoulder.

            “The left side still the worst?” He pushed himself back and slid Rin off his lap, he pulled the neck of her kimono back, “you smell like them.” He ran his hand in mellow circles over Rin’s left shoulder.

            She shrugged her shoulders, “if I don’t focus on it, it’s bearable. This kimono is dirty. I haven’t had the chance to wash it,” Rin sat up, “turn around. Can I use your Haori? I’ll change, then I’ll smell like you.” Her eyes glanced back at Sesshomaru, “mmm, I like that,” his lips pressed down against her sore muscles.

            He nodded his head, but he did not turn. He nudged her neck with his nose, “you already carry the smell of this Sesshomaru.” His eyes waited in anticipation for her to remove her soiled garment.

            She flushed red, her hands ceased untying her obi. “Turn around?” She raised an annoyed eyebrow in his direction.

            “I plan to enjoy the view,” he measured the gait of his speech. He reached forward. Sesshomaru pulled Rin’s hands off her obi so he could untie it himself. He took his time sliding the wretched cloth from her shoulders. Her eyes were wide, staring at him. “So shy?” He teased her with an intense kiss, “when I’ve already tasted you twice.” He felt the side of his lips twinge into a half grin against her lips. “Do you want me to taste you again?”

            She gulped, “it’s just,” she looked down her face flushing. Rin’s fingers fidgeted against her feet.

            “Just what?” He prodded her. She smelled of apprehension and arousal.

            “There are two dead bodies, and I’m…” Her speech halted as he parted the cloth and let it fall to the ground around her body. Her skin was tan where it had been exposed to the summer sun, and milk white beneath the kimono. He took in her small form, formidable that someone her size was able to take out two grown men by herself, without his help. Sesshomaru’s eyes wandered, her slender neck, her muscular arms, the peak of her breasts, the line down her stomach.

            “Very nice scenery.” He scooped her chin in his hand and kissed her mouth, he let his other hand fall down her chest to rest against her nipple. Rin tensed against his touch, “what?”

            Rin pushed his hand away from breast. “Sore,” her voice was barely audible, “down there, I want to.” She stopped, her face flaming red. Those days she was still getting used to the physical aspect of their relationship. She blushed often and was unsure how to ask for what she wanted.

            He felt a chuckle bubble in his throat. He stood up to get his outer garment and brought it to Rin, he wrapped her inside of it, and took his yellow obi to tie it around her waist. He crouched down to steal one more kiss from Rin “I’ll dispose of the garbage,” he rolled his eyes at the thieves, “I’ll be back soon.” Sesshomaru smelled the air, “there are more of them several miles from here.” He picked up her katana and placed it next to her, “use this next time, send for me, or yell, I will hear you.”

            “You worry too much,” Rin folded herself over, “I’ll be fine for a few minutes alone.”

He grasped a body in each hand and kicked dirt over the bled left on the ground. He disappeared long enough to throw them into the river. He returned to get the sika dear from where he left the doe’s body. He set the doe down many feet away from Rin.

            When he returned, Rin sat in the same spot her head resting on her knees. “It was your bond to me wasn’t it?”

            Knowing what she was asking he sat down next to Rin, “can you even move?” He traced circles with his claws softly over her back.

            “No,” she huffed defeated, “bastards. Just when I was getting some strength back, you brought me sika? Thank you. My back feels like it’s on fire again.” She leaned into his claw increasing the pressure on her back. “You must think I’m weak, taking so long to heal.”

            “Brave,” he touched her cheek with the other hand, “and strong. Who else would take on three grown men injured?”

            She grinned at him so brightly that it wrinkled her nose and reached her eyes. “Sesshomaru?”

            “Mmh?” He pulled his inner layer off and removed his shoes, “I like their blood, will it disgust your human senses to drink it in front of you? I have to prepare it.”

            Rin frowned, “will you be offended if I turn away? I know you like raw meat.” Rin shifted herself, grunting and groaning the entire time. “Do you ever sleep?”

            “Rarely,” his answers were still clipped then. He was focused on preparing the sika for Rin to eat later that day. He started by slicing lines in the fur, through the skin to peel the fur off in strips. “Do you know how to turn the hide into a blanket?” Sesshomaru plunged his hand into the gut of the deer. He cupped his hands and drank down the velvet warm liquid.

            “Yes. Kaede taught me. When do you sleep?” She was bouncing her feet against the dirt, her head still resting in her raised knees.

            “Do you remember Magatsuhi?”

            She shuddered, “that scared me, I thought you died.”

            “Nearly,” he hated admitting that something had nearly defeated the great Sesshomaru, “the wounds in my stomach regenerated when my arm did. After that and Naraku I required nearly a week of sleep to regain my full strength.”

            “You never said anything.” She was still bouncing her feet on the ground, she turned her head to watch him.

             “Why would I? You didn’t need to know, as a child you would have just worried, and I am never fully asleep, my mind is always alert enough to defend myself if needed.”

              “What do you do all night when I sleep then?”

               “Think.”

              “About what?”

              “Many things, turn your head again,” he slashed at the neck once again pulling the deer’s head off. He threw the head to the side. His hand scooped the blood as it poured from the neck. There was something so refreshing about fresh warm blood. He then proceeded to use his claws like a razor, detaching the skin form the muscles of the sika. The meat beneath was tender and juicy. His mouth watered.

             “Tell me about the bond, what does it do?” Rin had a disgusted look on her face.

            “I think I forgot how much you enjoy talking, I told you not to look,” the skin peeled off easily until he came down to the spindling legs.  “it binds me to you, through our souls. When my eyes changed and I took you, my yoki entered your body, into your soul tying you to me. It connects us, had you not been human, you would have done the same thing, entering your yoki into my body, as it is mine entered yours.”

            “Does it do more than that? I don’t have anyone else to talk to right now do I? And it’s not like I can move, then I could at least train again or go for a walk, mmmm,” she whined, she rubbed her left shoulder again.

            Sesshomaru snorted, “I don’t know. Whenever my father told me about it I ignored him. I thought love was for the weak. I suppose it might, perhaps he mentioned something about it acting as a protection once but against what I didn’t care to hear it,” he wiped his mouth on his pants and turned to Rin. He cut strips from the meat on the back down to the chest to cook for Rin. He laid them on a pile of leaves next to his feet.

            “I guess we’re both weak now,” Rin laughed. “I think it makes you stronger, having someone to love and care about. Why did you come back? You were gone for a year, I thought after what happened by the lake you would never come again.”

            Sesshomaru smiled lightly at Rin, “the bond was already initiated that night. I yearned for you, being away from you became painful. Had you been at Kaede’s house instead of getting yourself in trouble, I would have tried to discuss what happened,” he took a piece of the fresh meat off for himself, “I would have told you I love you.”

            “I love you too. I’d get up and kiss you, if I could,” she kissed her hand and threw it at him. “Maybe tonight I won’t be so sore,” her face blushed deep red again, along with her arms.

            Some smiles reach the eyes, some make the nose into wrinkles, Sesshomaru’s smile in that moment touched his heart and reverberated into his soul as he looked back at her. She was still sitting with her head resting on her knees bravely biting back the pain she was in. He let his mokomoko reach out to Rin. He snaked it around her waist, used the second mokomoko to loop under her legs. He pulled her until she was flush against his side. She faced the opposite direction as him, their sides against each other. He continued his work on the Sika deer removing it’s insides into a pile next to him. He tilted his neck towards Rin and kissed her passionately. She raised her hands to his face responding with equal urgency, until he pulled away with the minutest smile on his lips. He nuzzled her nose, then returned to his work preparing the deer. “Now you will answer a question for me. Why were you so desperate to get away from the village without telling me?”

            “You have to ask?” Rin looked down for a moment, “Kaede said I was well over marriageable age. It was time to start courting someone and settle down. I never told her what happened between us that night. No one knew but Inuyasha and Kohaku, he saw what you did, he’s barely spoken to me since then. I don’t know, it was too hard to stay. I wanted freedom. I knew how you felt about human-yokai relationships. I didn’t think this would happen.”

            “And you thinking binding yourself to me made you free? Impetuous and brash,” he shook his head.

            “You’re the one that started with me, besides I didn’t bond you, you bonded me,” Rin laughed against Sesshomaru’s shoulder, “I would have settled for Kohaku. Besides aren’t you supposed to be oh about 900 years older than me. Shouldn’t you have known better?”

            “You would have been unhappy and I would have killed him,” Sesshomaru was honest, direct, he wasn’t joking either. He continued his work on the sika deer. “I cannot fight instinct, no matter how old I am.”

            “It was instinct that night? Not love?”

            “It was both Rin. If the instinct to bond wasn’t there, some Inu-yokai would never reproduce. You were made for me and I for you. The age difference is of no importance.”

            Rin chuckled against his side, “900 years, no big age difference there and I was worried that Kaede would marry me off to someone twenty or thirty years older than me.”

            “I would have killed her too. You are mine now, you belong to me. Your soul is bound to mine now,” His eyes were piercing.

            “I’ve always belonged to you,” Rin kissed the exposed skin of Sesshomaru’s shoulder.

            For a time, they sat in silence together as he continued his work. She snuggled into his shoulder. Before long he felt hands along his back, tracing the double stripes that went from the back of one hip to the other. Then up the center of his back, pulling his hair off his shoulders before the hands went back down to find where his mokomoko connected to his back. She leaned heavily against him and sighed. Her arms wrapped around his lower waist. One hand traced the lines on his stomach, circled his navel, then toyed with the skin above the opening of his hakama. Sesshomaru gave a small groan and nudged Rin.

            “What?” She asked innocently and giggled into his shoulder.

            Finally happy with the strips of meat he removed for Rin and the cleaned carcass, he turned his head, to look at the woman playing with his fire, “is there something you need from me?” He pointed to his nose to emphasize that he could smell what she was feeling.

            Rin’s eyes widened, her hand continued to dance along his abdomen tracing circles along the hem of his hikama. She hid her red face in Sesshomaru’s shoulder.

            “You know I can be very gentle,” he muttered next to her ear, “but perhaps I should finish preparing this first before it begins to smell, Rin!” He grunted, that vexatious hand of hers finally dipped below the trim of his hikama down to his thigh where firm fingers looped around his growing loins. His breath quickly turned into pants. He knew his eyes must have a red sheen around the edges.

            Another string of sniggers fluttered against his shoulder, “how do you know how to make me feel so good when we,” she faltered, that sweet innocence, she was still adjusting to the fire of their relationship, “make love.”

            “Most female bodies are the same, mmh, you’re making finishing this very difficult,” he bent his neck over used his forehead to nudge Rin’s head up so he could reach her lips. He took her tongue in his slowly. She raised her other arm up and massaged his neck. He pulled away again, his hips clenched slightly, as she continued to stroke her hand along his solid member. “You really are making this hard.”

            “The skin is so soft,” Rin’s voice was engulfed in lust. Her breathing was shuddered. He could hear her heart beginning to pound. Her hand ran up his member again, and back down.

            Sesshomaru leaned back, bracing his back on his hands. He moved his hips against Rin’s fingers, his body trembling in pleasure and restraint. Her fingers found the tip and traced his beading head. Sesshomaru’s hands were still covered in blood. He wanted to use them for more than keeping his body upright, “stop for a moment, let me clean the blood off my hands.” He stood up and went to the hot springs and slushed off the blood from his fingers, up to his elbows. He returned to Rin, lifted her off the ground and brought her under the Sakura tree. He sat down and let her straddle his lap. He untied her obi and pulled his haori off her shoulders. He let his nose run the curve of her neck, “you’re smell is invigorating.”

          “You can smell…?” The question was left hanging in the air. Her cheeks were redder than a tomato.

             He nodded, “you smell like morning dew, a garden in the sunlight, but when you crave the touch of this Sesshomaru, it changes to a hot summer morning, come here,” he pulled Rin’s mouth to his. He let his hands run over her hips, up her sides making her gasp, over her shoulders then cupping her neck while his lips grazed against hers. He pulled away for a moment, “I thought you were sore?”

           “I am,” she rolled her hips against his pants, “I just, how do you know where to touch me? I didn’t know it could be this good,” her purity tickled him.

            “A woman’s body is meant for more than making children. I assume that was all Kaede taught you?”

            Rin nodded, “she didn’t explain passion,” her forehead was against his, he could see where her eyes were. “I’m glad you’re my first.”

            “Let’s see what you like best. There are places on a woman’s body that are more sensitive than others, like here,” he ran his tongue along Rin’s neck, she gasped. He smiled into her neck, “and this pleases both of us,” his finger slid from her collar bone down to her breasts. He stroked their tips. Rin’s head fell against his, “and of course, there is this,” he kissed down her collar bone, down the middle of her breasts. Sesshomaru suckled one of her nipples delicately nibbling on the tip until it became firm. He flicked it with his tongue bracing Rin’s back with one arm when she arched. Rin moaned, she held his wrists while he suckled and toyed with her nipples. “And this,” he lowered a hand between her legs, “this is the most sensitive part of your body,” she felt his finger glide over nether regions. He dipped his finger for a moment into her entrance before sliding it up over her clitoris giving it just one slow stroke. “This,” he did it again, causing Rin’s muscles to tighten and another whimper to trickle from her lips, “let me see your eyes. Let me see your enjoyment. This,” he was more than amused and aroused by Rin’s responses to his touches. He flicked her clit again.

             “Your teasing me,” Rin gasped kissing Sesshomaru’s mouth, she felt him flick again, “stop teasing me.” The kiss became more powerful, more forceful. Rin’s hands ambled down Sesshomaru’s chest, then back up the lines in his stomach before finding their way down to his hikama. She nimbly untied them. Sesshomaru lifted himself off the ground long enough to remove them.

            Her smell was becoming more desperate, “so you like when I do this?” He thumbed her clit again. Benefit to being over 900 years old, more experience.

             “Yes,” she was desperate against him. He pushed Rin down softly onto her back using his mokomoko to cushion her. She raised her knees, he held her stomach down with one arm before he teased the skin around thighs, nipping and licking until he reached her center. He heard her moan, she feathered her hands into his hair. Rin guided his head exactly where she wanted him. He kissed one lip then the other. He parted her lips, feeling her arch against the arm that held her stomach. He slowly licked her overly sensitive bud. A louder moan escaped her lips. He did it again, slowly curling his tongue around her sensitive parts. His nimble lips found their way around her bud, nudging it with his tongue, sucking it, then flicking it.

            “I…” she tried to speak, “I…was, oh, mmm, hoping to…oh, pleasure you,” she gripped his shoulders. With each flick of his tongue, her hips were widening, her knees raised higher. “Oh…so…c…close, ah,” she rocked her hips against his tongue. She reached to hold onto his mokomoko.

            Sesshomaru slipped two long fingers inside Rin. He pushed against the slick and dripping top of her core, she arched again, crying out his name.

 “You will,” he rose over her, replacing his tongue with his thumb, “you do,” he pulled Rin’s frame to his own. He entwined her lips against his own. She held onto his back, her fingers digging into his skin as her euphoria increased. Her hips rose as she panted, he felt the muscles tightening around his fingers, in moments, he knew just moments she would climax. “Roll over,” he turned her onto her stomach and helped her on to her hands and knees, “is it too much for your back?”

            She shook her head.

            Sesshomaru moved behind Rin.

            “I can’t see your face,” panic rose in her voice.

            He hovered over Rin. One hand held him up while bent over her back the other tenderly stroked her bruised back. Her back still looked more black and blue then the creamy white it should have been. Some of the bruising had turned golden and yellow around the edges, but the majority of her back was still riddled with purple, black and blue. Sesshomaru curled his body over Rin’s long enough to capture her eyes, “do you want to stop?”

            “No, I feel like I’m on fire, it just helps seeing your eyes, when you go in,” she kissed Sesshomaru, holding it for as long as he would allow.

             He kissed her shoulders, he kissed the curve of her neck, “this will lessen the pressure you feel than if I were on top of you or you on me,” he positioned himself behind Rin. “Give me space,” he teased her legs wider. Sesshomaru took another long moment to tease Rin’s back, planting hot open mouthed kisses from her shoulder blades down to the small of her back. He looped one hand around her stomach down between her legs before. He slowly stroked her clit, up and down until her moans let him know she was dangling over the cliff near ecstasy. Sesshomaru raised his hand for a moment to tickle Rin’s cheek, his hair fell over her shoulder, “breathe,” he sat up on his knees, ran his finger down her center to line himself up with her, “breathe,” his voice was ragged. He took her hip in his hand for leverage and dipped himself inside of her wet folds delicately nudging himself inside until he was flush against Rin. Rin whimpered as he did, “alright?” Sesshomaru held his position with great difficulty, this way he was able to reach deeper.

            “Slowly,” she plead with him. Her walls were begging for release.

            “Does it hurt?” Sesshomaru ran the palm of his hand over Rin’s shoulders, their hair was a sea of silver and brown over the left side of her body, he touched her tender left shoulder with his lips willing the pain from her body.

            Rin turned her head to catch his eyes, “no,” she tensed against him, “please Sesshomaru,” she tensed again.

            “Please what?” He traced circles over her back holding the position, refusing to move.

            “You know.”

            “Tell me,” he continued running lines over back with one claw.

            “Make love to me?” Her hips moved back against his, “please…”

            “Yes.”

            Once he positioned himself, he bent himself over Rin until his chest was against her back. He massaged her bud, bringing back the waves of pleasure that wracked her body and the tensing muscles around his erection. He moved his hips carefully within her, back and forth, “move with me,” he encouraged Rin. “Mmmh,” he groaned, “just like that,” he encouraged her hips to move back and forth against his own. Her left hand covered his, she gripped his fingers. “Oh Rin,” he hung his head next to hers, he sucked on her neck. Something changed with this act, he felt his bond to her opening again, another flood of yoki. In the recesses of his mind he felt her love for him as if it was his own.

            Within moments she was moaning over and over again in time with each thrust, her walls pulsed against him, he felt his heart lighten like it was reaching out to Rin’s soul, his body trembled as he filled her with his warm fluid. “I love you, Rin,” Sesshomaru was out of breath, “I love you,” he let his face rest next to hers, it was as if their intimacy pulled him closer to her, her awareness more in his mind than it had been before. The fire of passion burning hotter in his chest. I’ve never felt like this before. He kept repeating the words in his head over and over, she trusted him with the most intimate aspects of her body and emotions. He felt like he could let his guard down around her, like he could speak truthfully his thoughts, his feelings when he had them. For a moment he felt something resonate between the two of them. It warmed his heart, it made him quiver at its intensity.

            Her eyes glistened with tears when she looked back at him. He moved out of her to a sitting position. Sesshomaru pulled Rin against his chest, “I love you, too,” her body was weak against his, “I’m so tired Sesshomaru. I think I overdid it today and it’s barely morning.”

            “Tears again?” He inquired.

            “I told you, I’m happy with you, it feels good to belong with someone,” Rin twirled his locks in her fingers. She relaxed her head against his shoulder, “I’m so tired.”

            “Sleep,” he stroked her hair with his hands, “sleep my Rin, when you wake, the sika will be ready.” He took his inner layer and spread it on the ground. Sesshomaru lifted Rin on top of it. He followed by taking his outer layer and covering Rin with it, “I’ll start a fire to cook your meat, once it’s done I will rest with you. ”

            Rin reached an arm out for his wrist and pulled on it until he relaxed next to her. “The sika can wait until I fall asleep. Kiss me.”

            “You presume to order this Sesshomaru around?” He remembered that he found the look on her face entertaining. She was smiling, with dark circles under her eyes, trying to hold a serious look while she pulled down a naked Inu-yokai next to her. Despite what they had just done her cheeks turned crimson when he picked up the edge of his haori and slid beneath it to be close to her. He held her pointed chin in his finger and dipped his lips down to hers taking in her breath and the warmth of her mouth.

            “Yes,” she turned her face towards his chest, “you know, you’re the one constant in my life since my family was killed. I thought I would never speak or trust again until I met you. I didn’t plan this, what we have now but…don’t ever let me forget this Sesshomaru, that you took so much time caring for me while I healed and that you’ve always cared for me, don’t let me ever forget,” her eyelids were already drooping, she yawned, her breathing became more even. “Love you, Sessh…” the words came out weakly as her body gave in to sleep.

            “I will not forget this time with you either, my heart,” he kissed her temple. Silly woman, my woman. She was already dreaming peacefully. He dressed in just his Hakama and went to look for dry wood to make a fire. He hovered in a closer perimeter to Rin this time. Perhaps it should have crossed his mind then that she was a beautiful catch by human standards, inducing his protective instincts.


           That was the first time he felt how strongly the bond controlled him, it made him nearly transform for pathetic humans, it made him say he loved her, as if he was begging to be loved back. Sesshomaru wallowed in the memory. The Rin that sat inside the body of the woman he loved was so unlike the one he had first made love to. She cowered by the wall. She screamed about shadows in the night. His Rin would have removed her Katana and slashed the shadows leaving them to be dead and beaten. I love you my heart, he thought to himself, I will find a way to bring you back. I will not give up on you.  

             It was time to get out of his seat and do something. Sesshomaru lost track of time. When he left the room, the stars were already rising in the sky. He walked towards his bedroom door. She was not asleep yet. He heard Atsuko speaking quietly to Rin. He leaned heavily against the wall. Sesshomaru closed his eyes, he placed his right hand over his heart. He allowed himself to feel the haggard exhaustion of his bond to Rin. He called on his yoki. He focused all of his love for Rin through it. He thought of all their time together. The nine years they had shared, the life they had lived. His favorite memories, the births of his children. He channeled that hope and love through the bond aiming it behind the closed door.

            He heard a pop next to him, Shippo hung in the air, “she stopped shaking, what did you do?”

            Sesshomaru gave the fox child a curious look.

            From the other side of the door, there was a gasp, and as unassuming and silent as ever, “familiar?”

           Sesshomaru allowed himself the briefest hope, she was underneath that husk, waiting for him. He closed his eyes, allowing his yoki to flow to its target on the other side of the door. In the past it was their intimacy he thought that allowed him to feel her soul, now he knew that was never the case, it was his bond to her. I’m here, don’t be scared, I’m here. He opened as much of the flood as he dared any further and he wouldn’t be able to remain on the other side of the door.


                       Hisato curiously observed as Sesshomaru’s yoki rose. He knew exactly what the demon was doing. He kept the scoff from leaving his mouth, it’s about time you figured that out. He was younger than Sesshomaru by several centuries. The children had been tucked  in for the night so he was left with almost nothing to do other than sit outside the door until morning. “Hisato,” he lifted his head, suddenly realizing the rising yoki was aimed at him in a most dark and threatening manner.

            “Yes Sesshomaru-sama?” He should hate the demon. There was a time more than a century before, when he was young and still living in the castle they had crossed paths.

            “I once insulted your honor,” it was amazing one could be so pompous and arrogant. “What was it I said?”

            “Must we bring that back up?” Hisato refused to back down. He was no match for Sesshomaru but showing weakness would be just as bad.

            “Remind me,” he bared his fangs.

            “Is there a purpose to this game?” The guard widened his stance flexing his legs.

            “And the game you have been playing?”

            “You accuse me of being responsible for what happened to her?” Hisato growled low, “I have done nothing but keep her and your children safe for the last eight years.”

            “Except for when I am gone and she is alone often,” Sesshomaru accused him coming forward to rest a firm hand against the jugular of the black haired demon. “Did you think you would make her love you? Pity you?”

            “I have done nothing to her but what was asked of me,” Hisato maintained his posture. Internally he was debating between fighting back and being submissive. “Remove your hand from my neck.” He erred on the side of fighting. He had not lasted over five centuries by rolling over and playing dead.

            “And if I don’t?”

            “Killing me won’t bring her back,” he raised his claws to Sesshomaru’s wrist. “You said I was an abomination and reeked of humanity and detested your mother’s pity on my family.”

            “You’ve killed others for saying less than that,” Sesshomaru tightened his grip. “If I discover that the cause of all this is you, Hisato,” he snarled in the demon’s ears, “I will make your death so painful, you will wish I would have broken your neck now.” He slammed Hisato’s head into the wall releasing him.

            The guard rose off the ground holding his throat, shaking his head as the Sesshomaru strode away from him. “What did you do?” Akari asked as she exited the room.

            “Was born partially human,” he coughed clearing his throat, then resumed his position.

Chapter Text

            Two more weeks passed. They were as agonizing and slow as the ones before. Inuyasha was more than happy to go to the southern border, muttering and grumbling about being whipped and not having a good fight since Sesshomaru took Rin and the demons lost interest in the village, or better yet since Naraku. Kagome spent more time with Yuki and Harutoga leaving Sesshomaru more time to sit in his study and brood, or sit in the garden and glare at the door that separated him from Rin. He continued going to her door each night as she slept channeling his bond to her. Her nightmares persisted. As soon as one of the maids came to her side, Sesshomaru opened the bond as much as he dared. Rin calmed within moments of his yoki flowing steadily into her body.

           He spent the two weeks thinking about the idea of lulling Rin into a trance. It wouldn’t be so bad, he tried to convince himself. He knew how. It was a trick he learned when he was the equivalent of a human teenager. He had even done it a few times as a joke but not to do what he would with Rin, to scare stiff humans that made him angry and then listen to their screams like a symphony.

            Rin still woke in the middle of the night and early mornings screaming hysterically about a white dog attacking her. She shrieked about the yokai with a striped face hurting her. That morning in the garden changed things for Sesshomaru and Rin. Once she woke from her dreams and his yoki calmed her she walked on quivering legs over to the hot springs, washed her face. Her eyes entreated Sesshomaru for the solace of his hand. It was almost becoming a routine. The second time it happened, he watched her curl into herself. Rin lowered her head into her knees like she did in the forest, then raised her hand up, begging weakly, “familiar?” He took his children from his lap, carefully and strategically walked over to her. He laced his fingers into hers. They sat like that until the sun rose. Always at least a foot apart. He wondered if she felt the static between them like he did, the way her touch made his heart jump even now and the ripple of her skin against his.

           Breakfast went much easier as well. She ate silently never speaking, but then her hand would find his. Her fingers squeezed his firmly. She would marvel and wonder why it felt so familiar. Kagome asked him, why he didn’t explain. He rolled his eyes and barked about how she had made Rin run for her life by explaining too much.

            “She doesn’t know who she is,” he fumed. When Rin woke after the forest incident, she was as empty of memories as ever, only knowing what had happened to her after her body was found bleeding to death in the forest. The barrier was still down. It meant that he went twice a day into the forest hacking down whatever was in his path. Sesshomaru took Yuki and Inuyasha with him. Yuki was set loose on the smaller less dangerous Yokai that came near the village practicing slicing in longer strikes. Inuyasha even tried to teach her how to create Sankan Tesou and Hijin Tesou to Sesshomaru’s dismay.


               Kagome slept with an arm around Inuyasha. He had returned the night before dealing a blow to the ogres that kept massing on the southern border. He fell asleep almost immediately after reporting to Sesshomaru it had been taken care of. Taisho and Sota had returned the week before bringing Kirara with them. They slept on the floor next to their parents like they did when they were younger. She stirred lightly, something was setting off her senses.


            The shadow hovered over her. Something was interfering with his connection to her. Somehow, the demon had managed to put more of his yoki inside of his victim. He let his yoki raise higher, focusing on her memories. He traced lines over her forehead singing softly to himself, “soon you will be mine, all mine.”

            The door was rapidly thrown open. A woman came in with an arrow aimed directly at him then fired. He dodged floating from the dark patches the trees outside made on the ground to hiding in the archway to the garden. She fired again, finding his hiding place. He hissed and flew into the garden. She followed. It would have to wait for another night. He would have his prize. Rin would be his.


            “Dammit,” Kagome cursed quietly.

            “What’s going on?” Inuyasha asked half-dressed pulling on his outer layer.

            “There was something in here,” Kagome said staring at her arrows. “I could almost see it.”

            “See what?” Sesshomaru entered the room, he raised a finger to his lips to quiet them. “What were you doing?”

            “I felt something O-ni-sama. Something was in here with her. I thought, the other nights we’ve been here I thought I felt something but there’s always yoki here. But then it was stronger and I could almost see it. It dodged my arrows.”

            The jingling of the Khakkhara came down the hall, Miroku stopped in the room, “there was something here.”

            “You felt it too?” She needed confirmation she wasn’t dreaming.

            “Yes…something dark. Ominous,” Miroku said firmly.

            Sesshomaru stepped around the futon where Rin slept and melted the arrows with his poison. Just touching the shafts made his hackles rise. If she wanted to, it was possible she could purify even him. He knew now more than ever something was manipulating Rin’s dreams. Rin tossed and turned in the bedding on the floor. “She’s having another nightmare,” he knelt down next to her, intent on waking her. His hand opened by her shoulder then closed. “Akari,” he called into the hallway rising off the floor and ushering Kagome and Inuyasha out of the room. “Wake her.”

            In the hallway he stopped the monk, “is there a sutra to protect her?”

            Miroku shook his head, “you must understand, it would harm the others in this house. Your home is a mixture of human, yokai and hanyous. If I knew what it was, or who it was I could be more specific. I’m sorry Sesshomaru-sama.”

            “Didn’t Yuki say something was in her room more than a month ago Sesshomaru-sama?” Hisato said from his place next to the children’s door.

            The demon ignored him. She did. He remembered it now. She woke hissing and threatening with a claw. He needed time to think. He left to his study, “Inuyasha,” he called to his brother.

            They entered the study together. Sesshomaru sat down exhaling heavily staring at the ceiling. He folded his legs beneath him and leaned against the wall, “I need your strength. Send for your daughters, they are welcome in my home.”

            “Is that an invitation to stay?”

            “I don’t know who I can trust…whoever called this ghost, is targeting Rin and the children, until this is over,” he couldn’t believe he was asking again. Over the years he had acquired more enemies than his brother, but Inuyasha was the only one he was sure he could trust with his life and that of his lover and children.

            “I’ll stay, sure. I’m going to bed though. Have a good night Ni-san,” he said as he left.


           He clicked his claws another night would be coming soon. He was getting tired of listening to Rin scream. Her eyes reflected her exhaustion. They were black around the bottom. Her face had lost any light that was left in it. He had yet to give Inuyasha’s idea of courting a go either. Perhaps he should try that, but perhaps it would be better to give her good dreams first. He wanted to beat his head against the wall. That was when Hinatamaru came into the study. He was met by the glare of a very annoyed dog demon. “The fox children are getting tired. We normally only hold tests for a day, this has been going on for a month, we can’t hold out much longer.”

            Sesshomaru ground his teeth. Rin was not ready to understand where she lived yet, that she lived in a home full of yokai and hanyous, next to a village full of yokai and hanyous. “Can you absorb yoki?” Sesshomaru asked nonchalantly.

          “Not directly, but we have a vessel that can hold absorbed yoki…what do you have in mind.”

          “Draw from mine and feed it to the fox children,” Sesshomaru answered coolly. He had plenty to spare.

           “Are you sure that’s wise? Wouldn’t it compromise your strength?”

            He chose his words wisely, Sesshomaru thought ruefully. “Perhaps temporarily,” his arrogance knew no bounds. Idiot. “In the morning, Inuyasha will draw my yoki. You will use it to transfer to the fox children.” Idiot, he told himself again. If he allowed Inuyasha to drain a portion of his power it would come back after a few days. Perhaps a week or more depending on how much Inuyasha was able to draw from his body and it would leave him in a weakened state. Sesshomaru would have to rely on his idiot brother and the Inu-yokai sentries that guarded his home. Even weakened, none of them would have the courage to try to overthrow him, especially not with Inuyasha present. All of his sentries had human blood in them dating back generations. None of them could transform, and none of them quite fit into the Inu-yokai world. They were more than hanyous but less than pure-blooded demons like Sesshomaru.

           Sesshomaru’s only reprieve to the stress he felt cutting into him like a thousand knives was keeping watch over Rin as she tended the community gardens with Shippo. The child was right, she was not afraid of him. She took it in stride that Shippo transformed in front of her. The child told a good story about being part of a family of magicians who lived in the village. He continued helping her plant and fill plots of soil with vegetables. His tiny hands magically made the plants grow faster. He even gave her a light show one night that shocked Sesshomaru who sat in the branches of an apple tree.

          They were planting Kabocha that day. As soon as the large plot of soil was finished, Shippo called over some of his “siblings”. They had a good chuckle before they all bent over. The kabocha grew starting with a thick green root with white tip coming from the ground. The green tip split open like a mouth to two luscious leaves. Two leaves were smooth around the edges, the third flowered from the center with rough edges. The leaves grew in size until the stems gave birth to plump squashes. The children finished with calling lightening bugs from the ground that flew around their noses and landed on their heads. It was the first time in a month he heard Rin laugh. She ruffled Shippo’s hair with a smile, took a watering pale out and walked towards the nearest stream. Shippo tagged along with two other children telling jokes. Sesshomaru had to admit the service the fox demons provided him was invaluable. Rin’s fear was lessening.


Rin’s POV

 

           Night time was drawing near. She was in the village again working in the herb garden. Her horse was nearby watching her, like it always did. Sometimes she felt like it watched her too closely or was too independent. Aun knew the way to the village and back. He didn’t need prodding or pushing. She finished planting a new spread of land that she had tilled with her own hands. The smell of fresh dirt was pleasant in her nose. After rising and touching her lower back, she saw a flash of white next to her and there he was sitting at the base of a tree in one of the orchards watching her. She noticed that it was happening more and more often. He would come at the end of the day when she rode her horse back. He followed her from a distance, he rarely spoke.

           She was equally curious and scared of him. She knuckled her lower back, rose off the ground and walked towards a barrel of water to wash the fresh mud off her hands. Scrubbing her hands in the water felt good. It would be dark soon. She wasn’t interested in riding back when the sun was down.  She was hungry too. Curiosity was getting to her, how did he always know where to find her? She watched as he stood up. He was not overly tall for a man. She imagined she went up to his shoulder. The thought seared her head. One of his striped hands that felt so at home within her own grasped an apple, plucked it from the branch and then his eyes were on her. Sesshomaru-sama started walking towards her very determined. He stopped several feet away. He held out the apple to her. The smell of the fresh fruit filled her nostrils even from the distance between them. Sweet, ripe and most likely filled with sweet juice.

            Her legs started to wobble beneath her the closer he came. Her chest felt tight.

           “Do you want it?” He asked her.

          Hands, what is it about his hands?

          “Sesshomaru-sama,” there was a hand on Sesshomaru’s back. The demon-lord turned around. Torikku stood behind him smiling at Rin. “She is a hard worker. She made this patch of new garden herself. She’s been here since mid-day.”

           She blushed at the compliment.

           “It’s time to return. I will walk with her today,” Sesshomaru’s voice sounded rough. She didn’t like when it sounded like that.

            She turned her head from him and stumbled towards her horse. She lumbered onto his back with trembling hands and legs. Sesshomaru took the reins in his hand slowly leading the “horse” towards his manor and away from the village. Once the village was out of sight, she saw his hand go back up with the apple, “are you hungry?”

            Her hand reached out slowly, not meeting his eyes, she snatched the apple from his hand and slowly ate it. “Thank you.”

           “Your welcome.” He was tall and regal when he walked. She noticed his feet made no sounds.


           The sun was nearly down when they arrived back at the house. Akari met them at the gates and led her to her room, out the door and into the hot springs to wash the dirt from her skin. She felt embarrassed this time disrobing in front of the two children that were playing in the garden. They were sharing a ball kicking it with their feet back and forth. Akari washed her just the same and then dressed her in a clean kimono before telling her she would go bring her dinner. Instead of hiding in her room as she did most nights, she sat down by the water and watched the children. The big one, kicked the ball to the little one, who kicked it back. Their laughter sounded like falling rain.

         She shuddered while she rest her head on her knees. She was exhausted but not looking forward to sleep, “tired,” she whispered so silently she was sure no one heard her, “scary dreams,” she lowered her eyes into her knees, “always.” She hugged her knees tightly rocking back and forth.

         “Not tonight,” there he was again, when did he get here? “Tonight, you will have good dreams.” The grass rustled next to her. She felt the heat of his body next to hers, he never sat this close.

           She tried to move away from him. His hands caught hers and pulled her into his chest, “no…no…no…” she stammered trying to get away.

           “It’s okay, look,” he held out his hand to her. She stopped struggling and gingerly touched the stripes on his wrist, “familiar, remember?” He took her other hand holding it to his lips. They were hot, soft, she traced them, with one finger. Without her consent her heart ceased pulsing so quickly. Something warm washed over her as if it was touching her soul. She explored his face, touching the moon on his forehead, confusion washing over her. Then she ran her fingers along the stripes on his cheeks. She ran her hand down the skin on his neck and then sidled into his chest, her knees still bent to her face and leaned against his neck.

            “You’re tired aren’t you?” She felt hands stroking her head, the tips of his claws made her scalp tingle.

              Curiously she reached a hand out and touched the part of his neck that wasn’t covered by cloth. Where the bones of his collar met. She let her fingers trace the bones an inhaled his scent. “Forest…pines,” she trembled in his arms. Yet there it was again, that feeling like she knew him, like she was safe with him. She touched his collar bone again, then let her head fall onto the side of his haori. Her forehead rest against the it of exposed skin. He still wore the swords. “Two, always, two.” She reached one hand out, his hand caught hers, laced her fingers in his until both their hands were in her lap.

              “You think I smell like the forest?” Her body shivered as he bent over and inhaled the valley of her neck, “garden, at sunrise.”

              “Scared,” she knew now no matter how quietly she spoke, he would hear her, “always scared.”

              “I know,” she felt his hand run through her hair. He continued the motion, smoothing her hair. When his fingers touched her scalp, his claws pricked her skin giving her goosebumps.

              She wanted to ask him why he was holding her like this? Why the children were watching him? But she felt in his warmth, like sleep would take her any moment. “Red…” she closed her eyes in frustration. She forced herself to ask, “w…wh…why?” She sat up. She touched the skin below one of his eyes. “Angry, white dog. Hurt me.”

             “I never hurt you when I’ve been like that.” He shot back.

             “Th…th…there,” she pointed where the daisies became a large field behind the hot springs, “ch…ch…chase…” She couldn’t stop shaking in his arms. It was like her body refused to listen to her command to stop shivering.

            “Game,” he rubbed her arms with his hands. “We were playing a game. That was so long ago. You were a child then,” he took her chin and inspected her eyes, “how do you remember that and nothing else?”

             She heard something in his throat. She touched it and felt it vibrate against her fingers. “Mad,” she said, with her fingers on his laryngeal prominence.

           “Not with you,” she felt his hands in her hair again. He sighed, “why do you only remember me like that? Skewed half-truths?” She wasn’t sure if he was talking to her or someone else.

             “Game?” She asked him. “Tell me,” for a moment she thought if she understood the game, maybe he wouldn’t seem as scary, maybe she could get more than a few words out when talking to him

             “You were eight, just a little girl. You wanted to see my true form. I was entertained by your curiosity. First you wanted to ride on my back while I flew in the air, then you asked if we could play chase. You tried to hide from me in the flowers. I found you. You laughed when I licked your face and nuzzled your stomach. It was silly. Do you want to see my true form?”

              She shook her head, “no…no…scary…”

              Sesshomaru was already standing. this was either the stupidest thing he was going to do, besides what he had planned for that night, or the smartest. “Wait here,” he walked to the other side of the hot springs and into the daisies. He leapt into the air, his face broke into a smile. His body shifted. His hands and legs extended into two long white fur covered paws, his back grew into long white mane around his neck. She wanted to run when the red eyed dog landed. Instead of attacking her, it lay down on its stomach. He regally crossed its front paws.

            “Chichiue,” the little girl walked forward, “you’re going to scare her.”

            The big dog shook its head as if he was telling her to be quiet.

            The little girl walked around the hot springs towards the him.

She was fearful of it, afraid that it would attack at any moment. The girl though stopped by its head and patted the blue moon on its forehead. “Come on. He won’t hurt you, at least now you’ll know.”

            “Come on,” now the little boy was next to her, “come with me. Chichiue is just being silly,” the boy took her hand. She allowed him to lead her over to the large white dog. It was not without some stumbling and near misses. Her legs wanted to give out from underneath her. “You can pet him. He only does this for us.” The boy laughed, “one time he let me ride on his back.”

            “Everyone is afraid of Chichiue, except for us, ouch,” the girl rubbed her arm. The large dog licked where he just nipped her arm. “That isn’t going to help her not be scared you know, and I don’t have to be scared of you, and if you start growling you’ll scare Ka-san,” she rolled her eyes and folded her arms. “Besides, everyone else is still terrified of you. You should see the fox children. They almost wet themselves when you walk by.” The little girl covered her mouth while she laughed.

            She wasn’t sure if she should run or stay. If she didn’t know better, she would say that those red eyes were pleading with her. He lowered his head to his large paws. Something warm tingled at the edge of her mind once again, a familiar comfort, a completeness she didn’t understand. She reached out a tentative hand to the large head, and touched the moon on its forehead. As she did, the body of the dog shifted once again, and returned to the form of Sesshomaru. “See? Nothing to fear,” he held out his hand to her. Cautiously she reached her own hand out. She allowed him to lead her back to the other side of the hot springs near the sakura tree. He sat down in the grass. “Do you want to sit with me again?”

            She nodded her head and slowly snuggled her way back into his chest, “warm,” she muttered. Curiously she parted the front of his haori. She ran her hand down the line of the muscles on his chest. She put her nose against his skin. She inhaled the scent of his skin. “Why can’t I remember?” The pins were coming into her skull again like blazing fire. She grabbed her head with both of her hands.

            Two hands reached out. They took her hands from her head, “don’t push yourself,” Sesshomaru adjured her, “it won’t do any good for you to collapse again.”

            Akari came into the garden with a tray of food. The maid set it down by her legs.

            “Hungry,” she whispered.

          He unwrapped his arms from around her. He shifted himself so that she was still between his legs. She ate the warmed vegetables, the sauce was different tonight, but they were just as good as they had been before. The ball of rice she knew that is what it was called now was soft and warm in her hands and the meat was tender. She drank her water and then curled towards the hot springs again with her head on her knees. She didn’t want to go to sleep. She didn’t want to dream again. She put her hand out once again, “familiar?”

             His face creased into a brief smile. He immediately grasped her waiting fingers in his own, “yes,” he said.

             She felt her eyes shutting, and her body feigned to the left. He caught her with his other hand. “You should get in bed,” Sesshomaru pulled her back into the temperate of his chest.

           “No,” she shook her head sadly, “no, bad dreams. Always…always scared.”

          “Not tonight,” he encouraged her, “tonight you will have good dreams.”

           She held his hand tighter and shook her head. “Always scary. Ouch,” she rolled her left shoulder. “Hurts.”

           “What happened to her shoulder Chichiue? It always bothers her,” the little boy asked.

            Her hair was brushed over her shoulder, “I’m going to pull your kimono down a little,” the tenor spoke to her.

             She held her breath as the cloth was pulled off her left shoulder. One of his hands braced the front where her shoulder dipped into her chest, the other stroked broad circles around the sore muscles. She felt something wet by the top of her shoulder. Lips pressed into the top of her shoulder. “Is it okay?” He asked her.

            Her heart was fluttering but not in fear. She reached out and touched his mouth, “familiar,” she whispered. “Safe?”

           “Your safe with me,” he continued rubbing her shoulder.

           The tension and pain she felt slowly abated with each stroke of his hand. As it did she felt herself dozing off against him.


            It took some convincing from Akari and Sesshomaru to get her to leave the hot spring that night. If they had allowed it, she would have fallen asleep with her face on her knees and probably fallen over into the springs and drown if Sesshomaru didn’t keep a close grip on her. “Will you let me carry you to bed?”

           She gave him a quizzical look. “Stay,” she curled tighter into him.

            Akari knelt down, waiting for Sesshomaru to speak. “What should I do? I don’t want to scare her. She looks comfortable snuggled with you. Almost like she remembers who you are.”

            “She doesn’t,” Yuki wrinkled her nose, “can’t you smell it? She’s still afraid.”

            “Quiet Yuki,” Sesshomaru scolded his daughter, “take Harutoga to your room, get ready for bed.”

             Sesshomaru warily slid his free hand under Rin’s bent knees. Without releasing the hand that clinched against his, he pulled Rin off the grass. Akari followed behind him. He carried his heart into their room. He set her down on the marble floor, took her chin in his fingers. “Good dreams. I promise.” He turned to leave the room and return to the garden. In that moment, if it would not have taken him back more than forward, he would have pressed his lips to hers, embracing her mouth and her body with his own, exiling the fear from her body. Her eyes were dilated. She held his wrist in both hands. He bent his neck until his forehead rest against hers, he opened himself to their bond. Her grip tightened on his wrist. You feel it too my heart. You are safe with me, you are home with this Sesshomaru. I will find you.

            “Home,” the words fluttered from her lips nearly inaudible. So quiet even Akari didn’t hear it.

             Sesshomaru did. “Yes,” his voice was as hushed as her own, “home.”

             Rin did not want to go to sleep, she did not want her dreams. If he needed convincing to do what he would that night, watching her try to fight sleep to avoid her dreams was all the encouragement he needed. After Rin was in her bed, he called his children to him. They chatted about their day. He tucked them under the tree in their light blankets and waited for them to drift off to sleep too.


            It was beneath him to do what he was about to. Something that was reserved for pathetic lesser demons, intent on bedding weak willed humans and either spawning their seed or stealing their souls to fatten themselves. It would take little strength for him to lure Rin into a dreamlike state and hope that what came to her mind in the morning was different than the nightmares that currently haunted her. He watched her chest rise and fall from the corner of what used to be their bedroom. The stone floors were cold against his bare feet, the room black with night. The only light came through the open windows of the crescent moon. It was debasing. And yet there he was.

            He removed his clothing quietly, careful not to disturb his sleeping lover. That word no longer held what it used to. She did not remember him. She remembered nothing. When he was completely bare, he floated to her bedside to avoid the sound of his feet on the floor.

             Sesshomaru knelt down next to Rin. He took in the rise and fall of her breathing and matched it. They had to be in sync with each other for this to work. He took in the shape of her robed body, that was covered by a thin cotton sheet. He closed his eyes. This is not what great demons like himself did. If it wasn’t for the fact that they already had children together he would feel sullied and disgusting. Rin deserved better. Even her name meant nothing to her. Somewhere locked inside the beautiful head of hers, were memories of their last nine years together, recollections of the eighteen years she had known him. The sweetest nine years of his life and perhaps memories of her life before that. He reached out two fingers on either of his hands and pressed them against her temples. Sesshomaru was careful to avoid his claws scraping against her skin. His own eyes closed as he matched her breathing. He allowed his Yoki to take over him and flow between the two fingertips, lulling her into a dream of his choosing. She groaned slightly. Rin’s head shook to free herself from his grasp.

             Sesshomaru lifted the sheet. He settled himself next to Rin. He cupped her chin, and placed a tender a kiss on her lips. He let the kiss settle on Rin, breathing with her, hypnotizing her. Lazy eyes opened for one moment, instead of screaming and wanting to run, those warm brown eyes took in his face, then closed. She was ready now. She was under Sesshomaru’s spell. He rested his forehead against hers. He was tired. Tired of being separated from Rin. Tired of her not knowing who he was. Tired of trying to answer Yuki and Harutoga, when they asked when mother would know who they were. But mostly he was tired of asking why. Why did she only recall him in vivid nightmares that racked her body? He kissed Rin’s mouth. He kissed her cheek, and nibbled on the soft skin from her jawbone down her neck to her collar bone. When he returned to her mouth. Her lips greeted him, parting slightly, allowing his tongue to taste the inside of her mouth. Sesshomaru took one of her hand’s in his. He traced the length of her fingers. He set her hand against the scar on his chest. “Feel our bond my heart,” he traced her cheek, “I’m with you, wherever you are.”

            He parted her robe, revealing her perfectly formed body. It had been so long since they had been together like this. Since he had been so close to her. His hand touched her neck, dipped over her collar bone. He let his hands caress across her nipples. Delicately he touched her stomach. Sesshomaru wondered if they had created a child. He was still unsure. He had not smelled her cycle since his return. This Rin wasn’t aware enough of her own body to even say something. He cupped one breast in his hand. Sesshomaru trailed kisses down her stomach, her eyes shot open, “Sesshomaru?”

            He stopped to look at her for recognition. She closed her eyes, still in the dream he created for her. He felt his own fire building within him. He traced a line with his tongue over her right breast, then her left. He sniffed her skin found himself hovering over her. He could smell her heat rising. Her body responded to his tender caresses. Slowly, he paced himself, slowly.

           Sesshomaru inhaled deeply to calm himself. He settled next to Rin, kissing her mouth, tracing the contours of her body with his hands. The top of her stomach rippled with muscles. A fine line ran down the center to her navel. Spiderwebs branched out from the line. Together they had seen to that, but his mind couldn’t help but wonder, months had passed since he had seen it last, was it possible just below her navel was swelled more than he remembered? Was the skin softer?

           “My Rin,” he breathed into her ears, “my heart.” He grazed her shoulder with his teeth softly, causing her eyes to flutter and a slow moan to escape her lips. When his hand found the downy curls between her legs, he took his time tracing the symbol of her womanhood. He traced one lip and then other, her legs parted in her sleep, her back arched, she moaned silently.  

           He parted her lips with his finger and found her clitoris. After nine years together, he knew what she liked. He knew what brought her pleasure. If he wanted, it would only take minutes before he had her grinding against his hand. Her eyes flashed open. Under the spell of his yoki, they found Sesshomaru’s. “Rin,” he spoke her name. Her back arched against the friction of his finger. He plunged in two fingers, “your name is Rin.”

             She was soft like velvet and wet like the flowers after an early morning rain. He could tell her pleasure was rising. She was practically gasping in her sleep. It was taking all his control not to end this little adventure now. He wanted to make sure that she saw him. Sesshomaru wanted Rin to see his face. He wanted her to remember the lines and contours of his body giving her euphoria not fear. When she gave one last louder moan he rose over. Sesshomaru pulled her legs apart by the back of her knees. Sesshomaru created a nest for his knees. His hands found the sheets around. He flexed his fingers nervously. He touched her stomach, kissed her mouth and licked her lips. He groaned quietly feeling her take him in. His body slid against hers in their familiar dance. He kissed her lips passionately. Her mouth flushed hot air against his sensitive ears. Rin moaned with each stroke he took. Her hands gripped the sheets. “You are loved,” Sesshomaru spoke in muted tones, “you are love, mmh.” Their bond pulsated between them. Her soul felt distance, apart from him, sad and longing. He dared to add to the flow of yoki entering her body. It was as if the yoki was an arm reaching out to her soul to bring her back.

           She would wake up in the morning wet between her legs but the loss of memory would prevent her from knowing that he had visited her bed. Sesshomaru shivered within her, releasing his warmth. As he did, he placed one hand on her head, breaking the spell, long enough for her eyes to flick open once again, long enough for him to leave traces of himself within her soft folds, and to fold himself back into the corner, out of the door, and back into the garden. He could hear her gasping and see the shadow of her body as she woke from her slumber. She touched her cheeks in disbelief, closed her robe where he had left it open and pulled the covers back over her shoulders.

            Sesshomaru waited until she was deep in sleep to retrieve his clothes from the dark corner where he had been standing watch over her. Sesshomaru engaged his bond to her, letting small bits of his yoki enter her body in comfort and strength. He sat down determined to make her remember him and to bring back her memories. Come back to me, my heart.

Chapter Text

             Touma approached again waiting for the shadow to circle the village. He found another tree to perch himself in, masking his scent to avoid detection by his obnoxious older brother. He whistled quietly to himself playing with the lapel of his haori. When he felt the shadow approaching he opened his eyes enough to see him, “you’re taking too long.”

            “There is resistance,” the shadow told him, “and something else.”

            “Being?” The white haired demon inquired annoyed. 

            “When I am sure, I will tell you,” the shadow said gleefully. “As for the resistance I am not sure. Something changed in the last weeks. It will take longer for me to lure her away from him.”

            “Do it,” his one good eye flashed red in threat, “take her from him…make it hurt my friend. Make them bleed.”


            Yuki sat up when she felt her father leave the sakura tree. What is he doing? She didn’t really want to know. She had been waiting for weeks now for the opportunity to return to the grove to try to find traces of herself amongst the trees. It was nice having her aunt there the last two weeks, but she missed her mother terribly. As soon as he disappeared into their room, Yuki got off her sleeping mat and ran into the forest. Her eye-sight was vivid even at night. She could make out the smallest details in the trees, the rocks and the branches. She knew the barrier was still down. She cracked her knuckles reflexively. Yuki would be ready this time. If anything jumped out to try to take her. She would be ready. She followed the line of tall trees until she found herself in the grove. She jumped onto one of the stones that was sticking out of the ground and sniffed the air.

A month later and there was still nothing. All the scents were gone now, except her Chichiue and Hisato who continued to return to this spot, and Ojisan? She smelled the air again. He had been here recently too. She sat down on the rock and put her hands against her chin and folded her knees up.

            “Remember Yuki, remember,” she told herself as she closed her eyes. Something caught her eye in the moonlight. Up in one of the trees. It was sparkling. It was only halfway up one of the pine trees. Yuki leapt into the air and landed in the lower branches. She climbed up the tree to the thing that was sparkling in the night sky. She grumbled about the rough branches scratching her hands. “My bracelet,” she grasped the red silk in her hand, cursing when she got a few splinters. She leapt back down to the ground. She smelled it fondly, “that’s not my blood,” she smelled it again, “that’s not Haru’s or Ka-san’s…” She put the bracelet in her pocket, “I was here. But I can’t remember what happened.”

            A flash hit Yuki. She touched the large stone in the center of the grove, a feeling touched her toes. The feeling of her toe-claws sliding against the rock. There were no indentations, where she touched the rough surface. A dark shadow, her mother’s scream, then Yuki collapsed on the ground holding her head, “get out of my head! I’m going to remember!” Yuki howled at the sky, her eyes turning blood red.

            “Oi Yuki, what are you doing out here? Shit…” Inuyasha dodged her claws coming at his throat, “Kagome, get over here!” Inuyasha shouted slapping claws from his face.

            Inuyasha ducked, kicked Yuki’s feet from underneath her, grabbed her wrists and pinned her to the ground. “Purify my crazy niece please? Ouch, you little Bi-“

            Yuki dug her nails into Inuyasha’s wrist gassing him with Dokkasu.

            “Inuyasha oswari,” Kagome glared at him. Inuyasha face planted, “honestly using that language around a child.”

            Yuki lunged at Kagome as soon as Yuki touched her aunt the red left her eyes, she collapsed on the ground. “Are you ok?”

            “I think so,” Yuki answered rubbing her head.

            “I’m so telling Sesshomaru,” Inuyasha folded his arms. “What are you doing out here?”

            Yuki turned her fiery glare at Inuyasha, “none of your business hanyou and if you tell on me, I tell on you.”

            “Yuki,” Kagome tried to take her hand. Yuki ripped her hand free.

            “And what could you possibly have on me?” Inuyasha challenged her.

            Yuki folded her arms, “that you tried to use Chichiue’s Bakusaiga when he wasn’t looking last time we visited in the middle of the night when he was with Ka-san in the forest and you nocked half the trees down and almost killed yourself because you are a pathetic hanyou incapable of controlling the yoki from my father’s sword and then you claimed it was ogres!”

            “Oswari!” Kagome clinched her fists, “that was you! You…lying…you dog! We needed those trees to hold back the flooding in the garden baka!”

            Inuyasha grated his teeth, “who are you calling a pathetic hanyou, hanyou.” He stuck his tongue out Yuki.

            “My blood is purer than yours, that means you’re more pathetic than I am,” Yuki walked back towards her home.

            “And how is that? We both have human mother’s and pure-blooded demon father’s one who happens to be your grandfather,” Inuyasha felt like ringing his nieces neck.

            “I’m going to make you replant every last one of those trees and if you even think of complaining I’m going to make you sit for a month!” Kagome shouted behind them.

            “Easy, my father wasn’t stupid enough to take a human that was weak and couldn’t defend herself, even in labor. My mother is a warrior, yours was just a liability.”

            Inuyasha snarled, grabbed Yuki by the arm and was about to yell at her when Kagome grabbed Yuki by the hand, “okay, that’s enough of that, let’s get you back in bed. Inuyasha we really should tell O-ni-sama she was out here.”

            “No…the last thing I need is that bastard gloating that I almost blew my head off using that sword of his,” Inuyasha kept his arms folded.

            “You really are an idiot,” Shippo popped out of thin air.

            “Who are you calling an idiot?” Inuyasha tried to grab Shippo.

            “Better luck next time, baka!” Shippo laughed disappearing into a cloud.

            “Baka,” Kagome fumed.

            Yuki giggled to herself, that would keep her uncle quiet.


                       The next morning Sesshomaru left the room before Rin woke up. Throughout the night, she did not toss and turn. She slept peacefully. Her body rose and fell in equal even breaths. He couldn’t deny, even in a dream, it felt good to finally be one with Rin again. He didn’t rule out the idea that he would do it again the next night, or every night until her memories returned. That thought stopped him short. He needed to go patrol the borders. There was no point in him staying in this home if he didn’t defend what he had created. He snarled for a moment, annoyed that this was taking so long. He thought back to their conversation yesterday. She remembered something, but all she remembered was him chasing her as a big white dog. He was more convinced now something was behind her memory loss and it wasn’t from the injury to her head, that had just been a distraction.

            Yuki and Harutoga were sleeping peacefully under the sakura tree. He sat down in between them and sighed stroking their hair, “and who will take care of you when I go?” Kagome was kind enough. They had not set a time table as to how long they would stay in his home. They had children of their own waiting for them back in the village, they couldn’t stay forever.

He supposed that he could send Yuki and Harutoga to them while he was away, but after what he planned today, he would be in no shape to police his borders, he would be weakened. Sesshomaru woke the children by stroking their brows and lead them to their room, “get dressed,” he told them, “we train after breakfast.”

            “I’m tired of training,” Yuki complained rubbing her eyes. “I’m tired, can’t I go back to sleep?”

            “Get dressed,” he repeated himself and left their room.


            After breakfast he walked with Inuyasha towards the field by the village, “you want me to do what?” Inuyasha asked him incredulously.

            “I will not repeat myself,” Sesshomaru huffed at him. The morning was cooler than usual. The sun cast a golden hue on the grass.

            “This is crazy. Why not just let her see where she is? Maybe she won’t be as scared as you think she will.” Inuyasha touched Tetsusaiga, “besides what if I kill you?”

            “Not likely, the sword will overheat before you can drain all my yoki,” Sesshomaru was fairly certain of that fact and they only needed enough to keep the fox children going.

            “Kagome wants to see Rin today. She’s avoided her for the last two weeks,” Inuyasha kicked a stone on the floor, “I’ve watched her. She’s like a scared child.”

            Sesshomaru nodded as they continued on. Kagome was behind them with the children, talking about their day and about the crayons? She had brought for them to make pictures with.

            “Does she always talk in broken sentences like that?” Inuyasha wondered, his eyes were full of concern. “She was always so brave before, even when she came to us at eight years old.”

            “The more agitated she is, the less she can say, the closer she gets to remembering something the more her speech is shut down until she faints from pain,” Sesshomaru turned an icy glare at Inuyasha, “I don’t need your sympathy Inuyasha.”

            “No, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to have a friend now would it Ni-san?” Inuyasha kept walking.

            Sesshomaru snarled and let lose his whip, Inuyasha dodged it by just an inch.

            “Would you two stop that already?” Kagome called from behind them, “your worse than children!!”

            “The more I am with her, the more I am convinced something blocked her memories,” Sesshomaru said half to himself, “if I can find what it is that did that to her…”

            “She can get her memories back,” Inuyasha finished. “I didn’t find anything in the grove either. You’re sure Yuki doesn’t remember anything?” Inuyasha eyed Yuki warily. She folded her arms and glared in return at her uncle. She mouthed something along the lines of, I dare you to say something.

            “She experiences the same head-aches when she tries, but with her it’s more important not to. She’s inherited one of your less flattering traits, not that any of them flatter you,” Sesshomaru turned back, “she tries to force whatever is blocking the memory back with her Yoki, as she does, she risks transforming. The swords from Totosai aren’t finished yet. I can’t risk her having another episode. Let’s get this over with. Hinatamaru is ahead, he’ll drain the power from Tetsusaiga once you take it.”

            “I really don’t like this. This will leave you vulnerable Sesshomaru,” Inuyasha muttered quiet enough for only their ears.

            “Get over it Inuyasha. Just stab me through the chest and hold it for as long as you can. It’d be impossible for someone as weak as you, to completely drain my yoki.” Sesshomaru’s confidence knew no bounds. He was certain he would be just fine.

            “Keep up with that ego, I might enjoy stabbing you,” Inuyasha shoved Sesshomaru. “When we’re done with this why not see if Kagome can purify whatever is inside of Yuki’s head?”

            “Sesshomaru-sama, so this is your brother?” Hinatamaru approached him.

“Half-brother,” Sesshomaru barked back rolling his eyes, “pathetic hanyou.”

“That sword doesn’t look very useful. We’ll put the yoki in this container, then my servants will carry it to the fox children.” Hinatamaru held up a blue clay jug the size of his hand, “don’t be fooled by its size.”

            Sesshomaru opened his blue haori. He let it fall to the ground exposing his defined pecs and abs. Even Kagome blushed. His muscles were toned and the cream color of his skin glinted against the sunlight. It contrasted perfectly to the matching turquoise hikama he wore.

            “I don’t like this,” Inuyasha repeated. “Kagome stop looking. You don’t blush like that when you look at me!” He rolled his eyes. He pulled out Tetsusaiga. His eyes went half-mast when they opened Tetsusaiga’s blade was green with dragon scales.

            “You don’t have quite as many lines,” Kagome covered her cheeks with her hands. “Wow,” Kagome turned around to stop her cheeks from getting any redder, “man Rin got a hot one.”

            “I heard that,” Sesshomaru and Inuyasha both turned on her and yelled at the same time.

“Kagome thinks I am desirable Inuyasha,” Sesshomaru smirked at his brother.

“Oh you’re making this so much easier,” Inuyasha slammed Tetsusaiga through Sesshomaru’s back.

“Mmh!” Sesshomaru grunted when the blade went through his back. His eyes shut tensely. It felt like something was sucking the blood from his heart. He tried to let the feeling wash over him, like a river of blood puddling from his chest. It felt like an inverted current carrying his power away.

            “Chichiue?” Yuki asked, “Ojisan what are you doing to Chichiue?” She ran for her father, claws bared ready to take his head off.

            Sesshomaru held up a hand, “it’s okay, Yuki,” his voice was thready.

            “What have you been telling your children about my mother?” Inuyasha’s voice was so low only Sesshomaru could hear it. “That she was weak? Just because Rin can fight? Like Rin isn’t any weaker now than my mother was?”

            Sesshomaru snorted through the sucking pain in his chest.

            Inuyasha’s hands were already sizzling. The pain didn’t stop him from purposely trying to rip the yoki from Sesshomaru in revenge for his daughter’s words. “Damn,” Inuyasha pulled Tetsusaiga out and dropped it on the grass. His hands were shaking as steam rose off of them. “I forgot how much that hurt.” Inuyasha’s hands were striped deep red with burns.

            “I told her the truth,” Sesshomaru straightened his body. The wound slowly closed itself. He wiped the blood off his stomach and threw it on the ground, “now,” his eyes pitched red and turned to Inuyasha, he flung his body at his brother aiming for his neck.

            “Not again,” Kagome grabbed the hands of the two kids. She walked with them towards the other end of the field where Rin sat alone. Kagome’s spiritual power let her know, Rin wasn’t really alone, she sensed Shippo hiding out over Rin’s head.


Rin’s POV

 

            She was taking a break. Her hands were tired and so were her legs. She decided to walk on her own that morning back to the village to work in the garden. Her horse Aun followed her. She thought it was strange but didn’t mind the company. It gave her time to think. Her dream was different last night. He said she would have a good dream. She wasn’t sure if what she dreamt the night before would be classified as good. It was different, powerful. He was naked, she was naked. His hands were on her body, and it didn’t feel wrong. Sesshomaru’s body was a dream. Her cheeks flushed again. She thought she could feel her pulse between her legs. When she woke up there was liquid running down her thighs. She touched her cheeks and examined the heated feeling coming off of them. She decided it was better than dreaming of him killing her and chewing her up into little bits and dying. She looked up seeing that he was coming towards the village. There was another strange looking white haired one next to him, with the same cat-like pointed ears on top of his head and a dark skinned man with a golden staff and black hair. Then they were clawing at each other and the strange woman with black hair was walking towards her with the two children.

            The strangely dressed woman sat down next to Rin while the kids lay down on their stomachs with what looked paper and some colorful objects that made lines. “I’m sorry I said so much last time. I get information overload.” She said. The woman was eyeing her, like a piece of meat, looking her up and down. She wanted to walk away but she was also curious. After a month, she knew the two little ones with pointed ears weren’t dangerous, they mostly liked to laugh and chase each other.

            Her gaze went back to Sesshomaru-sama and the one with white hair. They were fighting. Both of them had blood dripping from their bare chests. The sight of blood made her whimper. Her knees folded into her chest and she hid her eyes. “It’s okay,” she heard the woman next to her say. Kagome tried to stroke the hair away from her head, “they’re just being stupid brothers. They do this all the time. It’s actually really annoying.”

            “Chichiue always wins,” the little one called Yuki kicked her feet back and forth.

            “You know he lost a few times,” the woman reminded them, “Inuyasha did cut his left arm off once.”

            She rocked back and forth, hiding her face and shaking her head, tears were edging into her view.  “Like saying that is going to make Ka-san feel better,” Yuki rolled her eyes at the one called Kagome.

            “Yuki go tell them to stop. They’re scaring Rin,” Kagome gave Yuki a gentle push. “It’s okay.” She repeated herself, “they won’t hurt each other. Their bodies are built to take this kind of beating.”

            Yuki loped to where her father and the white haired one were fighting with each other. She heard Yuki yelling at them. It took the child yelling a few times before it stopped, or rather her father stopped and hooked the white haired one around the neck and gave him a big toss down the field. There was a white light and then she saw black shoes next to her feet. She lowered her head again when she saw him standing over her. He wore only his hakama. The wounds on his chest slide closed, except for a strange scar over his heart. “Can you tell if she is under a spell Miko?” She liked his voice. She thought she heard it in her dream last night.

            “I need to touch her head. I don’t want to scare her.” Kagome was nervous, she kept her hands to her sides.

            “No...no…no touch, no…” She shook her head back and forth and tried standing up only to scoot backwards away from both of them.

            He lowered himself so he was eye level with her. Sesshomaru held out one of his hands. “Familiar?” He asked her.

            She raised her head, languidly, taking in his face. She reached out a shaking hand to him. Her grip was tight. She refused to look at the woman next to her. “No…” she repeated herself, she moved her head away.

            Sesshomaru sat down next to her, “go somewhere else,” he told the Miko, “she isn’t ready yet.”

            “I can’t just see it, at least looking at her I don’t see anything.” The Miko argued back. Now Kagome was squatting taking in her form up and down, from head to toe.

            “Then check Yuki and Harutoga,” Sesshomaru said. “Leave her with me,” he rubbed the back of her hand, “she spends enough time being scared.” She felt his hand move the hair from her face. “Tell the Monk to check them if you sense nothing.”

            She felt her cheeks flush again, her eyes found the material between his legs, she thought she saw what was hidden beneath his hakama last night too.


            When her cheeks turned red Sesshomaru knew that she remembered the night before. If he didn’t know better her scent spiked slightly when she saw his face. Sesshomaru opened himself to their bond again radiating love to Rin. He pulled her hand to his lips for the briefest brush against his mouth. Their hands then rest in his lap. Rin sat up and straightened her kimono before scooting closer to him. He watched her movements curiously. She scooted until she was directly next to his shoulder, then leaned into his arm and rest her head against his mokomoko.

            “Soft,” she pet the fur, her hand finally stopped its tremors.

            “Yes,” he answered her with a small laugh. “Very soft.” He never spent time stroking his own mokomoko, but his Rin used it as a pillow and a blanket.

            She reached around behind him. He felt hands on his back. She found the two stripes that ran across his back. He didn’t stop her from tracing them with her fingers. Her hand ran down to the bones just above his coccyx area where the tail attached to his body. She ran her hands in the fur, then found her way back to his shoulder and rest against him once again. Rin took the end of his mokomoko and put it in her lap, stroking it with her fingers. Sesshomaru shifted next to her, she felt his arm go around her waist. His lips pressed against the top of her head. The pressure felt familiar.

            “Spell?” To anyone else they wouldn’t have been able to hear her.

            “Possibly,” he replied, “something is stopping your memories from returning.” He pulled her hand into his lap, “some of what you remember are partial memories. I find it odd that you only remember in your sleep what scares you.”

            “Why always you?” He thought he felt her lips on his shoulders, “always…dreams…always you?”

            “Another reason it may be a spell. Someone wants you to be afraid of me,” He felt her breath against his chest, warm and comforting. “Will you allow the Miko check you?”

            “W…w…will,” she took a breath frustrated with herself. Rin swallowed, “it hurt?”

            He turned to face her. He lifted her chin in his hand, “remember when you first woke up? I told you I would not let harm come to you? If it were to hurt, I would not let her near you. Even if she is my brother’s wife.”

            “Wife?”

He could see her thinking about that word, it was like her eyes were showing him that the word meant something to her at one point in time. She groaned. Her hands gripped her stomach.

            “Are you hungry?” Sesshomaru stroked her cheek with his fingers.

            “No…” her voice suddenly sounded desperate. She leaned away from him. A series of whines and groans came from her mouth, “sick,” and without warning everything from her stomach came pouring out of her mouth. The stench was almost too much for his sensitive nose.

            Sesshomaru closed his eyes. Is it possible she may be pregnant? The question played into his head, not again, not another attack while she carries my child. He put a hand on her shoulder to comfort her, “don’t fight it,” he covered his nose with his free hand. He rubbed her back in circles.

            When Rin was finished she wiped her mouth on the sleeve of her pale yellow kimono. She pulled her knees up to her chest again, “dirty,” she lifted the side of her kimono with an embarrassed look on her face.

            “It’s alright. I’ll walk you to Torikku’s house. Perhaps he has something for your stomach.” She would be a little over two months along now, if that is what is causing this. Sesshomaru walked passed Kagome who was still making pictures with his children. Miroku and Inuyasha talked quietly. He motioned Kagome over to Rin, “make it quick. Kagome won’t hurt you.”

            “You need to back away Sesshomaru, this close your yoki is going to cloud my senses, even half drained yours is the most powerful I have ever felt besides Naraku’s.”

            Sesshomaru backed away. She refused to relinquish his hand. “It’s okay, you only have to let go for a moment.” He exhorted her.

Sadly she let go of his hand as the Miko put her hands on her head. Kagome closed her eyes for several minutes. Kagome held Rin’s head by the temples. Kagome sighed, “nothing, I feel nothing. I’m sorry. The only thing I feel is a small build-up of your yoki from your bond to her. I didn’t feel anything on the children either. None of this makes any sense. Yuki didn’t have any bruises on her head when she returned to her home that day?”

            “If she had, after two days they would have healed already. Come,” he took Rin’s hand again and lead her towards the healer’s house. “Stay with Kagome Yuki, Harutoga.”

            “I didn’t sense anything either,” Miroku said quietly. “I can’t leave Sango for much longer.”

            Rin paused in front of Inuyasha. She stared at his ears. Inuyasha looked incredulous. She reached out a hand and squeezed his ears. She looked at Yuki and Harutoga. Sesshomaru knew what she was thinking even before she walked back to him and touched the points of his ears. He let a small annoyed grin touch his lips for just a moment. If he could do away with the reminder he would. She spent more time touching his ear than she had Inuyasha. Her hand fell from his ear and traced the lines of the stripes on his face. Sesshomaru took her wondering hand and led her through the field to the only hut that sat near the herb garden. When he was out of earshot of Kagome and the children he told Rin, “their mother was human, making them hanyou.”

            “Did you love her?” It was the first full sentence he heard her speak without stammering or stuttering.

            He stopped in his tracks, “very much.” He searched her eyes, there was the smallest glint of light in them against the golden sun in the sky.

            “You must miss her,” she walked next to him holding his hand.

            “Very much,” he repeated. Sesshomaru picked a flower from the ground. Sesshomaru slid it into Rin’s hair over her left ear, “would you eat dinner with me tonight?”

            Rin touched the flower in her hair, she bent over and repeated his action, taking a flower and placing it in his hair, only after she ran her hands through the strands of hair next to his ear. “Yes.”


Rin’s POV

            He left her by the Healers house. Before he left, she felt a curiosity about this yokai that followed her she hadn’t felt before the night before. When Sesshomaru released her hand, she grasped it firmly using it as leverage to force his shoulder down. He was still shirtless, looking at the lines in his stomach made her stomach tense but not in a way that scared her. She stood on the tips of her toes. She caressed his cheek firmly. The movement sent trembles down her spine. She pulled his lips to hers and placed a small kiss on his lips.

            Golden eyes flashed open. Clawed hands went to his lips. Before he could speak she pulled his face down again. She closed her eyes feeling his lips against hers. His hands wrapped around her waist. She felt her stomach flip over and something come alive between her legs. I’ve done this before. She pressed her lips against his again. She felt his tongue flick into her mouth. She pulled away slowly from him backing away quickly, “forgive me.” She touched her lips. His mouth on hers had been warm, but the touch of his hands around her waist was like fireworks again familiar flashed into her mind.

            “I’ll return to walk you home,” he took her fingers in two of his. “Were you dreams better last night?” His face looked different than she had seen it before. He pulled her closer to his own body.

            She nodded to him, her face flushed again.

            “Go see if Torikku has something for your stomach.”

            She had yet to release his hand. She brought her thin fingers up to his lips and whispered, “smile.”

            “Only you make me smile,” he kissed the hand holding his, “go on.”

            She walked into Torikku’s hut as he was bustling about the fire with a kettle on. “Good evening!” Torikku smiled at her. He didn’t turn at first, he faced the fire and stirred something that smelled like soup in a large stone pot. “I’m just making some dinner. It will be ready later would you like some.”

            “No thank you,” she replied. I already have plans for dinner. She touched her stomach, “hurts. I was sick earlier,” she told Torikku. She touched her mouth. I can speak easier now, what happened?

            “I have just the thing for you,” Torikku walked over to one of the cabinets.

She looked around his hut. It seemed large, rectangular shaped. The fire was in the middle, with several windows. He had cabinets up and down the sides of the hut, she knew by the smell they were filled with herbs and poultices. He handed her a bag of dried leaves, “drink this in the morning and before bed. It will help calm your stomach.”

            “Thank you,” she turned to leave.

            “Anything come back to you? Memories?” Torikku followed her to the door.

            She shook her head, feeling a lump in her throat. Maybe it’s a spell. That’s what Sesshomaru-sama had said. Someone wanted her to be scared of Sesshomaru. She felt less fearful of him now. In the last month, he showed nothing but kindness to her, so did everyone at his house. The children were sweet. They just looked different than human children. He said their mother was human. She shrugged her shoulders as she walked toward the herb garden. Today she planned on pulling out the weeds that were invading the daikon plot. She walked towards the water first and washed the part of her kimono that had fallen victim to her vomit. She didn’t know who to ask about the stomach aches. She was too embarrassed to tell Atsuko or Akari about them. They were becoming more frequent. She was starting to hide the messes she was making because of them.

            The kimono was soft yellow today with sakura flowers climbing up one side. She wondered where all these beautiful kimono’s came from. Her sash was light blue, like a morning sky, and tied tightly so she could work. She tied up the sides of the kimono bearing her legs. She didn’t know why they looked strong, but they did, and slightly tanned. Some days she felt like her legs belonged to someone else. She knelt down ripping the weeds from the plot of earth. She liked the smell of fresh dirt, how it mixed with the smell of the herbs. It made her feel like she could do something right, do something besides being scared all the time. She yanked the next batch of weeds out, as she did she felt an uncomfortable twinge in her lower abdomen. Ow, she thought to herself, that hurt. She placed her hand on the side of her stomach. She continued on into the next row, pulling the weeds out when she felt something trickle down the inside of her leg. She didn’t feel like she needed the bathroom. She looked around to see if anyone was looking, when she reached her hand to her thigh, when she brought it back, she felt like she was going to faint. Blood? Blood? Why am I bleeding?

            She stood up, the blood rushed from her head. Her body wavered for a moment, she saw black spots around the edges of her vision. She looked around, wishing that he were there to hold her hand. Bleeding…bleeding…my blood? She heard a pop, and there was the little boy named Shippo. “Torikku-sama!” The little boy called. “Uf,” little hands braced her shoulder, “I’ve got you.”

She felt someone catch her by the arm before she hit the garden floor.

Chapter Text

             Yuki snuck into her room. She walked to the far end that connected to Harutoga’s room. Haru never used it. He always slept in Yuki’s bed. She touched the bricks with her fingers. Her claws scraped against the pointing. When a piece came loose, she slid the brick out and took out the bracelet she found in the forest. Who’s blood is this? She sniffed it. She had already spent time in the village walking around, smelling everyone she could. She smelled the Healer. She sniffed the Butcher. She smelled the family that baked and sold sweets. She smelled her father and her uncle knowing they didn’t always get along. She went into the forest and found bears and wolves, but that smell didn’t match either. She was beginning to get frustrated. You could always show Chichiue…Stupid conscious always trying to make her do the right thing, not like he was that involved with her or Haru anyway these days. Now she spent most of her time with her Obasan and Ojisan. Chichiue was too busy watching over Ka-san which meant Yuki and Haru were left more often to themselves. Yuki sat down on the floor and felt like crying again. Little hands rubbed tired golden eyes. She heard footsteps coming into her room. She wiped her nose. Yuki put the bracelet back in its hiding place.

            There was shuffling and loud voices in the hallway.

            “You should have sent for me when she collapsed!” That was her father’s angry voice. Whoever got on his bad side would be lucky if he didn’t impale them.

            “I told you already Sesshomaru-sama, I caught her before she hit the ground and brought her into the house to rest. I thought she would be fine by nightfall,” that was the Healer. He had his own high shrill voice. Yuki thought he sounded like a shrieking squirrel.

            “Leave now. Your presence is no longer necessary,” Chichiue was livid. Yuki peeked her head around the door in time to see her father carrying her mother into their room. She snuck out the door to watch as he lay her down on the bedding. Chichiue loved Ka-san. Yuki knew that. She hated when he called her his heart, but Yuki knew that it was because of his great love for her. In snippets she heard about the day she was born. Another uncle whom she never met named Touma held Ka-san in a cave. Her labor pains started, Yuki was there when Haru was born. She knew how babies came from their mothers stomachs. Chichiue died that day. Ka-san still talked about how Ojisan brought him back to life with Tenseiga. Chichiue lost his bond whatever that was to ka-san for a time and left her and Yuki alone in Ojisan and Obasan’s village. But when he came back, that’s when Ka-san knew how much she loved him and he loved her. Yuki smiled seeing them together, even if it was with Ka-san sleeping. She needed them to be okay.

            Yuki sniffed the air.

            “You might as well come in Yuki. I know you are there.”

            “How do you always know where I am?” Yuki whined stomping into the room, “why does she smell like blood?”

            “I’m not sure. I sent for the Miko to look at her.” Chichiue’s hand was on her mother’s forehead.

            Yuki sat down in her father’s lap. She held her mother’s hand. She wiped the sweat from her ka-san’s forehead, “why did you go to her room last night?”

            “Where did you go last night?” He looked down at Yuki. She didn’t like when his eyes looked like that. The slits of his eyes thinned in a knowing way and the outer edges tinged pink. He was mad at her.

            “Oji-san told you?” Yuki gulped the air. Oh, Ojisan was going to get it, she would make sure of that.

            “No,” she felt his nose in her hair, “you smell like the grove and I’ve found your scent there more often recently. You shouldn’t be leaving the garden alone, not with the barrier down. It’s not safe. I asked him to help keep an eye on you. He knows how to follow you even if you mask your scent.”

            “I can take care of myself,” Yuki argued back cracking her claws.

            She heard a low rumble in his throat. She knew she was in trouble. He gripped her shoulder tightly, “am I going to have to start locking you in your room at night to get you to behave?”

            “No,” she whimpered.

            “Why do you keep going out there?” He insisted.

            “Because I can’t remember what happened that day,” she put her hands on her chin.

            “You haven’t told me everything about what you remember have you?” Sesshomaru pulled Yuki’s face to his, her scent spiked in that moment, the sour smell of a lie crossing her lips.

            “No,” she shook her head.

            “Speak the truth Yuki, look at your ka-san. Something in that forest will lead us to who did this to her. Whoever did it to her is responsible for blocking her memories. What haven’t you told me?”

            “Someone took mine and Haru’s clothes in the forest…I was wearing my blue kimono, the one that looks like Ka-san’s with a yellow obi,” she rubbed her head, “and every time I try to remember what happened after Ka-san told us to run into the forest, this pain comes, right here,” she pointed to her left temple, “let me push it back? If I can just push it back with enough yoki. I can almost see it like an orange barrier blocking me from seeing what happened that day!”

            “No,” he grabbed her shoulders, “no, Yuki. I will not lose you too. Tell me what you can remember, and bare as much of the pain as you can without drawing on your yoki.”

            Yuki huffed annoyed that her father wouldn’t let her try to break it. “Ka-san said the barrier was down. She told Hisato to go help the villagers. There were only a few good fighters there anyway. I put Haru on my back and ran with Ka-san. Haru had shoes on for once and he was wearing a brown haori. Then everything stops. Haru and I woke up by the river where the boats were. Someone washed my hands. I could smell the soap and my feet were washed. My clothes were different, so were Haru’s. I tried smelling my claws but all I smelled was river water and sweet scented soap. There should have been blood and dokkasu. In the village a red one eyed snake tried to wrap around me and Haru. I couldn’t slice through it like you taught me it was too big but I scratched it as deep as I could and kept my poison flowing so it wouldn’t get us. I was scared Chichiue. You said if the house was ever attacked to mask my scent and not to return until I smelled you. I didn’t go look for ka-san. I thought she would be okay even though I smelled her blood. I didn’t go because you told me to keep Haru safe! I can’t remember anything else,” her head collapsed against Sesshomaru’s chest.

            “Yuki you did what I told you to. You survived, that is good enough. Were you able to find your clothes from before?” He wiped her tears and stroked her soft white hair.

            “No…I know I was with Ka-san Chichiue. I’m sure I was. I keep seeing flashes of something in a black cloak leaning over Ka-san, something darker than a shadow. You said blood can last for months or even years as long as it isn’t washed away by water and dokkasu can last for a few days. I should have been able to find the one eye’s blood on my hands when I woke up.”

            “So you do listen to some of what I say. Yuki, close your eyes, do you see the face of the one leaning over Ka-san?” Sesshomaru hugged Yuki to his chest over her shoulders. “Close your eyes, try to see it.”

            Yuki closed her eyes. “Ow,” the pain came as soon as she tried to access the memory.

            “Bare it,” Chichiue encouraged Yuki. He massaged her tiny temple with his fingers. “Do you see a face? Hands, feet, a smell?”

            Yuki shook her head, “no, I’m sorry Chichiue. I know I was there.” Her brain screamed at her to show him the bracelet, but she wasn’t ready to. This was the most attention she had in two weeks from him.

“You have helped me find one answer Yuki,” he turned his daughter’s face to him, “someone was in the forest with Ka-san and whoever that is, is the one that suppressed her memories with a spell and yours. Nothing else accounts for the nightmares she had.”

            “Obasan said she couldn’t sense anything,” Yuki countered. “How can it be a spell of Obasan can’t sense it?”

            “Not all spells leave a trace for a Miko to find,” he touched her mother’s forehead and smoothed the hair from her face, “whatever spell has been cast on your mother, was done with the knowledge that she has a close relationship with a Miko. It was done knowing who I am and when I find out who has done this to her, they will die by the hand of this Sesshomaru.”


             Sesshomaru sent Yuki to find Harutoga and go to dinner. He attempted to remember to praise her for remembering what she did, and remind her it wasn’t her fault that her mother was the way she was. He had half a mind to go to Bukoseno, how did Chichiue access my memories? Is it possible I could access Yuki’s? Sesshomaru promised Yuki he would come soon. Rin remained asleep, wrapped in a cotton blanket that reminded him of the ocean on top of a silver sheet that accented her slender body. Sesshomaru took the moment to open himself to their bond. She felt different, calmer, comforted. Her fear was dissipating. Sesshomaru stroked Rin’s hair out of her face. “You must be so tired, my heart,” he whispered to her, “nightmares for weeks on end, upset stomachs. All this because someone is trying to keep us apart. If they only knew,” he touched her stomach lightly, “is there a child growing in here? Would you have told me that you were pregnant if you had not been attacked when I came home?”

           “Is it possible?” He heard a voice from the hallway.

            “Come in Miko, yes…we tried once,” it felt like betrayal, speaking of their intimate affairs to someone else. “Can you tell?” His eyes arched at Kagome.

             “I can try. I mean short of a pregnancy test I’m not sure what I can do. I delivered plenty of babies with Kaede and Sango but, we don’t really do prenatal care.” Kagome ambled to Rin’s side and pulled the blanket down.

             Pregnancy test? Prenatal care? He shook his head, inventions from her time.

             “I just need to see if she is still bleeding.”

             “She isn’t,” Sesshomaru yanked Kagome’s hand with more force than necessary from Rin’s kimono.

              Kagome folded her arms, “that hurt,” she rubbed her wrist. “How do you know she isn’t still bleeding?”

              “I don’t smell fresh blood anymore.” He moved to sit next to Rin’s head, Sesshomaru put her head in his lap. She made no move to wake.

              “You look tired O-ni-sama,” Kagome commented, “is it the drained yoki?”

               “Is she pregnant?” He changed the subject. His body was suffering the lost strength but it would come back, and if needed he would draw on energy from Bakusaiga to compensate.

               “Are you going to let me take down her undergarments and remove her kimono from her waist so I can check?” Kagome’s voice dripped with sarcasm and annoyance. She moved the cover down again.

               “How will you check?” He continued stroking Rin’s hair.

             “By feeling her lower stomach below the belly button. Hanyou babies grow the most after the third month. Do you know when, I’m sorry I know this is a personal question, but I know what you have to do in order to conceive a child. Inuyasha kinda has to do something similar if it’s not the new moon. Do you know when that coupling happened? How long ago was it?”

             “Two months ago. Maybe more,” he refused to look at her when he answered that question. “You may proceed.” His fingers trailed across Rin’s brow wiping away newly beading sweat.

             “Thank you, your highness,” Kagome brought the sheet down to Rin’s legs.

              Rin began to shift in her sleep, her voice cried out. Sesshomaru placed his index and middle fingers on either side of her head against her temples. He bent his forehead down to hers, taking in her breath, their chests moved together.

               “What are you doing?” Kagome’s voice was too loud, she shivered, clearly sensing a rise in Sesshomaru’s yoki.

               “Quiet,” Sesshomaru hissed, “she’s waking up. I’m lulling her into a dream-trance. Your examination will be invasive for her.” He continued breathing in with Rin’s breath, his yoki threaded from one hand to the other weaving into Rin’s mind. Her eyes flickered for a moment. He bent over and pulled her mouth to his, “sleep,” he whispered. He kissed her steadily as he traced her cheek with his fingers. “Finish quickly.”

                “Help me get her obi loose,” Kagome instructed him, “it covers too much of her stomach.”

                Sesshomaru lifted Rin up, cradling her head against his arm. Kagome reached around Rin’s waist and untied the back of her obi. Kagome unwrapped it quickly keeping noise to a minimum. Once it was free she opened the inner kimono. Sesshomaru laid Rin back down onto the bed. Kagome was careful to only open the bottom of Rin’s kimono. Sesshomaru looked at Rin’s stomach. He had been gone too long. He felt like he should have been able to tell. Her upper stomach was still rippled with muscles. Kagome used the palm of her hand to circle the area beneath Rin’s belly button. The Miko closed her eyes and pressed down softly. Rin groaned in her sleep her eyes fluttered. As soon as they opened Sesshomaru lowered his neck to tenderly kiss her mouth.

               “Do I even want to know what you are doing?” Kagome could sense something that made her skin crawl when Sesshomaru put his fingers on either side of Rin’s head.

                “Giving her good dreams,” he ran his nose across Rin’s face. “Hurry up.”

                 Kagome sat back up from running her hands along Rin’s lower abdomen and bit her lip, “I’m not sure. I think I felt the womb a little bit above the pubic bone, here.” She pointed to a spot just inches below Rin’s navel.

               “Pubic? You have strange inventions in your world,” he rolled his eyes.

               “It’s the name of the bone down here,” she pointed to a firm area low on Rin’s waist, “I’m not sure though. It hasn’t risen enough over the bone to tell. If I were to factor in the sickness, the bleeding just now and that you actively tried, I would say that it’s very possible she is pregnant right now, Sesshomaru…what are you going to do?”

               “Nothing,” he lay Rin’s head back down, “leave us.”

                “But…”

                “Leave us,” he repeated himself. He hated doing that. If it had been Inuyasha he would have thrown him out with some poison to the face for good measure. As soon as the door shut, he decided that tonight he would stay with Rin. He wouldn’t lie with her this night but there were other ways to remind her of him, and as long as he controlled the dream whatever had been taking over her dreams at night, would not be able to. He kissed Rin’s lips firmly, “my heart,” he touched her lower stomach, “did we succeed? Most Inu-yokai don’t do what I have done. There can be centuries in between offspring. Perhaps father would have more children with Izayoi if he hadn’t died the day Inuyasha was born. You know I can deny you nothing that is within my reach.” He lay down on the other side of Rin, “tonight I will remind you of the day I first fell in love with you. You were sixteen. You didn’t even know what your actions did to me. You didn’t even know you had been telling me with your scent since you were fourteen that you yearned for the affection of this Sesshomaru,” he traced her heart over her breasts with his hand, “you slew an ogre by yourself. You took his head off. I felt so much pride because you were my human,” he turned her face to him. He kissed her slack lips, “you were so attractive in that small kimono you wore, with your hair tied off your face, then I looked on as you bathed. You still have the most beautiful body I have ever seen, strong, brave. In that moment you brought out the need to bond you. I knew what I wanted then, I loved you then, no longer like a daughter, but as a woman.” He stroked her hair and traced her jawbone, he nuzzled her nose, “my heart, come back to me. Come back,” he folded his body into Rin’s and held her tightly to his chest, he placed his hand on Rin’s face and broke the spell. “I know deep down you are still there, come back to this Sesshomaru.”


Rin’s POV

              She woke up to warm breath on her neck and a striped arm around her waist. It was late in the night. She saw the moon shining in through the window. For a moment her heart lurched in fear. She bolted upright so suddenly she nearly fell out of the bed. Once she saw who was in bed with her, she felt a calm wash over her like a gentle breeze. She hadn’t seen him sleep before. In the past when Sesshomaru was outside by the tree he was always awake. She pushed his silver hair away from his face, and crossed her legs to look at him. In the beginning all she did was dream terrifying nightmares about him. From the time she was asleep, and woke the first time, it was nothing but nightmares of him tearing her to pieces, violating and beating her. Now she knew that his hands were gentle. She took the hand that was draped against the covers. This time she was careful with the claws recalling his warning. Her fingers danced along the tips of his fingers. She traced the tips of his claws.

             He woke up looking confused, one hand hit his head, “dammit,” he muttered, “did I scare you?”

            “No,” she answered him, continuing to examine his hand.

            Sesshomaru pulled himself up. He looked out the window, “they fell asleep on their own tonight,” he stood up and walked towards the door.

            She reached her hand out and took his, “stay?”

            He turned to face her. He brushed her cheek with his freehand, “are you no longer afraid of me?”

            She shook her head and closed the distance between them. She touched his face the same way he did hers. She looked out at the stars and smiled. She pulled Sesshomaru behind her and leaned into his chest. She closed her eyes, enjoying his warmth. “Why?” Her voice hitched and she felt pain in her skull again. She touched her head.

            He kissed her temple, “don’t push yourself.” Sesshomaru removed her hand from her head.

            She turned around to face him. She pushed the material of his haori away from his chest. Her nose found the crevice between his pecs, she lost herself in his smell, “home,” her lips brushed against his skin, “I want to go home. Where is my home?”

            “Here, with me,” he whispered in her ears. His lips swept against her ear. He removed the hair from her neck, feathering his fingers through her hair, then ran his hand up her arm, and pressed his lips into her neck.

            She shook her head, not removing it from the warm skin of his chest, “No memories. I…” Her hand found his chest again, “why are you the only thing that I recognize? I don’t know who you are.”

            “I think you feel who I am to you,” he brought her hand up to the scar that marred his heart, “you feel this. I wasn’t sure if a human would feel it, but perhaps you do.”

            “What is it,” her lips were near the scar, her slender fingers traced the jagged lines.

            “Are you sure you are ready to hear the truth?” He lift her chin to take in her eyes. They still seemed dull, racoon like with black rings around them.

            “Could the truth be any scarier than nightmares in the dark?” She wrapped her arms through the material of his haori and held herself flush against his chest. “I’m tired of being scared. Take me there,” she pointed at the heavens.

            “Where?” His voice was low, primal next to her ear.

            “To the moon,” she answered, “to the stars.”

            “Even I can’t fly that high,” he sighed, turned her around and hooked his arm around her waist, “I’ll take you to the sky.” He looked into the darkened night, the stars gleaming down on them. He slowly rose into the air, pulling her body close to his. He heard her pulse increase the higher they flew. He hefted her up, so her cheek was next to his. He held her left hand in his right, and pressed her back into his chest. Her eyes widened. The ground below got smaller. She turned in his arms and buried her eyes in his neck. He soared higher, until she felt wind against her arms, “look,” he told her. He folded his legs underneath him like he was sitting and pulled her into his lap. “I have you. You won’t fall.” His voice was low, next to her ear, and full of an emotion she couldn’t define.

            She moved her head from his neck and looked into the sky. They were floating near the wisps of a cloud. She could barely see the ground below. There was green of trees, and tracks of water, her eyes took it all in. His legs were bent slightly up. She maneuvered herself until she was straddling his waiting lap. She wrapped her arms around his neck. She felt something warm slither around her back. His mokomoko now looped around them both. She touched the scar on his chest again, “tell me what it is? Why do you feel like my home?”

            “I am your home,” he muttered next to her ear, “you are her. The one I’ve told you about.”

            “Your wife?” She was confused.

            “If you must call it that. You are the mother of my children, the love of my life, the reason I have what I do. You are my heart, this scar is my reminder, a symbol of my bond to you.” He cupped her chin, he licked his lips, he rested his forehead against hers, “do you understand now?”

            “Bond?” The word sounded strangely familiar. She touched the mark again, moving the rumpled edges of his haori out of her way.

            “Your soul is connected to mine,” he held the hand that stroked his chest, “here,” he touched the mark on his chest.

            “How did we meet?” Her breath was against his neck again.

            “When you were a child. You were eight, you found me injured in the forest near your home,” he continued telling her as much about her life as he could. The days he visited her when she was in Kaede’s village, the time she was lured away by snake demons, “you tried to tell me about that when the bear attacked you in the forest. Your back was hurt. You collapsed on a rockface. You were surrounded by thieves. I came to your aid and I knew then that I loved you.”

            She began rubbing her head in circles, she buried her face in his shoulder, “wh…wh…why? D…d…di…did,” she clenched her teeth, “make it stop.” Her voice began to brake.

            “Shh,” he comforted her. Sesshomaru rubbed her back. He ran his hands up her body and into her hair by her neck. He pressed his lips to her sensitive skin, “let it pass.”

            “I want to remember you,” she met his eyes, there was something else in his eyes now, something hungry looking back at her. She felt something hard between her legs.

            “I know,” he replied to her almost sadly.

            “Can we stay like this?” She leaned her head against his shoulder. She kissed his exposed neck, “just for a little longer?”

            “If you wish,” he leaned back slightly against his mokomoko, so she could rest against his chest. He pulled his haori open completely untucking it so she could rest against his skin.


             Sesshomaru dared not move. It was the first time she was able to truly speak to him, to ask him questions that were not laced in fear. Her body was tender against his, unafraid and unshaking. There was a hint of light in her eyes he had not seen in a month. While she breathed against his chest, his mind wandered to who would benefit from driving them apart. Who would want to take his sweet Rin from him. This wasn’t the first time she had been targeted. It had happened often as a child, it happened when she pregnant with Yuki, now it was happening again. Someone would have something to gain by breaking them apart, but whoever it was, must not have known about their bond, or perhaps they thought because it was one way that they could erase it. She felt the consequences of the bond as well. She felt the connection to him. It was why she felt like he was her home.

            Sesshomaru kept one hand around her waist, stroking the small of her back. The other held her wandering hand. She spent time tracing the scar on his chest. She ran her finger across his chest, down his stomach. Rin had always been intrigued by his defined abdomen. Her forehead rest against the side of his chin. They didn’t speak further.

            After an hour, he knew they needed to return. Sesshomaru began his descent slowly, saying nothing to her. He continued to stroke her hair. She lift her head up when the momentum began. Rin’s hand went to his cheek, followed by her lips on his. You are weak, Sesshomaru, he told himself as he returned the pressure. He should not be doing this. He already felt himself aroused. The way her hips were pressed against his, the way her thighs were gripping his legs. If she wasn’t careful, he would lose all of his resolve and take her to their bed and lose himself inside of her. They said good bye to the wisps of clouds. He wrapped his arms around her waist and lowered his legs so that she was flush against him. He twirled slowly as they landed in the garden near the door. “Come inside with me?” Her voice was husky, intense.

            He knew that sound in her voice. He wondered if she knew it too. Did she know that he could smell the heat rising between her legs. The distinctive sweet smell that called to his animalistic nature? If his Rin had been there, it would be only moments before they were lost in touches and caresses. He shook his head, refusing to release her hands.

            “Why do I want something more from you?” He felt her tongue trace the line on his chest.

            It was an innocent question, an innocent action. He felt the fire shoot up from his stomach, and a low growl against his wishes escaped his lips, “some things we should not be doing.”

            “What things?” She traced the line of his collar bone with her lips.

Blood fled to his loins when she nipped at his neck. He took her hands from his shoulders and pushed them down. Sesshomaru took an agonizing step backwards. “Not tonight.”

            “Why?”

            “Because you don’t know who you are, or what you ask for,” he cupped her chin and allowed himself to taste the fire of her lips again.

            “What am I asking for?” Her eyes were dilating in desire. Her voice was needy, her pulse waiting for him, “a fire burns inside of me.”

            I am an idiot. He told himself, let go of her hands, walk away. Her smell…it calls me, it begs me. Breathing was instantly difficult for him. It would be like bedding a virgin, only he wouldn’t have to worry about a physical barrier causing her pain. Except even virgins understood what happened between men and women. This Rin most likely had no idea. Her smell is hypnotic. The downside of being an inu-yokai, he thought ruefully. He was a slave to his carnal urges. He took her hand, intending on tucking her into bed and walking out before he took what was left of his clothes off and did something he might regret. But, he wondered as they entered the hushed shadowy walls of what used to be their bedroom, what if I did? Would it be so bad?

            “Please,” she pulled herself to his chest again, “stay with me?”

            It was like she was in heat, the way she smelled. He felt his eyes reddening around the edges with desire. “Do you know what you ask of me?”

            She shook her head and pursed her lips.

“Sit down on the bed,” he walked with Rin until she was next to him. She needed to at least understand before he became unhinged, “do you remember what happens between men and women?”

            She shook her head again.

            He took her hand in his, idiot, he told himself once, and ran it over his tight erection. “My heat,” he coughed uncomfortably as her hand snaked between the fabric of his hikama, and the skin of his abdomen. She found what lay beneath. Her fingers danced along him. He lifted himself up with his hands, trying to decide at last if he should leave the room, “my heat, combines with yours, where, uh,” he took her hand out of his hikama, “where you feel your heat. That is what you are asking me.”

            “Does it hurt?” Her voice purred in his ears. “Have we done it before?”

            “Many times since you were seventeen. It wouldn’t be right for it to happen now,” he touched her cheek, “not when you don’t remember me.”

            “If I want to?” She moved closer to him. She pulled the haori from his shoulder, “please? You are the only thing that feels familiar to me, let me have this too…it’s like being in a dream and everyone else knows what’s going on but me.”

            “You wish me to do this, to give you pleasant memories?” He brushed her neck with his nose.

            “Will it hurt?” Her eyes were full of want.

           “No, you will like how it feels,” he stroked her cheek.

           “Please?” She kissed his mouth. He couldn’t stop himself from returning it.

            Idiot, supreme Idiot-sama, his body was tense with arousal, with need and her scent was intoxicating like a drug taking over his rational senses, “on one condition,” he bent over    and kissed the pulse of her neck with his lips, her skin was burning. “You will tell me if you want me to stop, if you become scared, or if I am hurting you.”

            She nodded her head, and straddled his lap. “What is it called?” Her hips grated into his.

            She was so innocent, so unknown, even though she sat in the body of the woman he loved. This Rin had no clue. He stroked her hair away from her eyes, “many things, making love, sex…perhaps making love is the easiest to remember. It feels complete when you are with the one you love, like your souls intertwine.”

            “Do you love me? Or do you love me because I am her?” Her hips steadily rotated against Sesshomaru’s.

            Such a pure spirit like this, no memory, no idea what was about to happen, but her eyes, they needed to be loved. She craved feeling needed, special. He took the nape of her neck and brought her lips to his, living in the one long luxurious kiss he gave her, “I love you both. I loved her for her strength of heart, her humor, the way she never feared me. I love you for the sweetness of your heart, the creativity of your hands and the trust that you have put in me.”

            Get up and leave…his brain kept screaming at him, but perhaps if he just relieved the heat between her legs. She would not call to him so. He didn’t have to enter her all the way that way. He could do it with his fingers or with his tongue. Sesshomaru untied the obi from behind her back. He threw the green sash to the side of the room. Rin rocked against his hips, back and forth, brushing against his member, causing him to groan. He opened her kimono, exposing taught nipples. He ran his mouth over her neck, smelled the desire on her skin on her chest, and closed one of his hands over her left breast, causing her to shudder. “It burns,” she rubbed herself against his lap.

            The hand cupped around her breast, lead it to his mouth. He suckled her nipple until it was red and pointed. He cupped the other and ran his tongue around the areola. It was too late to turn back now. He rest his forehead in the strath of her breasts holding one in each hand, breathing in pleasure as she continued to rock up and down against him. His control was shot. His need was taking over. He licked her collar bone, and softly clamped down on her skin. He pulled her kimono completely off her shoulders, and untied the strings that were around her undergarments. His other hand pulled Rin’s lips to his own. He closed his eyes drawing on his yoki to control himself. His Rin had long ago become accustomed to his rougher touches. This one, had not felt it, would be scared by it. He wanted to give her what she asked for, good memories, something to hold onto, something to anchor herself to. At the end of it, memories or no, she was his heart, and he would wait until the end of her days for her memories to come back.

            “Please,” she simpered in his ear, “it burns.”

            “Lay down,” he instructed her. As she did he shirked off his haori, and removed his obi, he let his hikama, fall to his ankles and stepped out of them before joining Rin on the bed. You shouldn’t be doing this. It’s wrong. He told himself over and over. Yet he found himself naked against her side, running his nose over her neck, lowering his lips to her breasts, tracing the line of muscle down her stomach, circling her navel and stopping when it came to her center. “Open your legs,” my heart. He felt her hands in his hair. He guided her legs where he wanted them and settled his face chin resting on the small mound on her stomach. Is there a child in here? He kissed where he thought their child would be.

            “Why does it burn so much?” She wiggled her bottom.

            He smirked lightly, “you need release,” he pressed one finger against her the bottom of her opening, “here.”

            Big brown eyes stared back at him, “it won’t hurt?”

            “No,” he muttered against her.

            He lowered his mouth to her womanhood. He traced it with his lips, before he parted the petals, and kissed the sweet nectar.

            Her back arched and a, “mmm,” fled her mouth. “It’s so intense.” She gripped his shoulders.

           “Shh,” he closed his eyes. His chest heated. He opened his bond to Rin. Find her love for you, Hinatamaru’s words rung in his ears. Tentatively he reached out to her with his yoki as he did when he first bonded her. He was met with heat, desire, and behind that he felt the familiar completion of his soul.

            “Is that our bond?” She asked him, “I feel something.”

              He felt the warmth meet his yoki like it was dancing in a lovers waltz. He smiled, I should have tried this with my Rin. It did calm him, feeling her love for him. He let two of his fingers find their way inside of her. He ran the tips of his fingers on the roof of her honey silk cavern. She lowered her hips on top of his fingers, groaning. My heart, was all he could think of, come back to me, please. He ran his thumb over her clit slowly waiting to feel it grow against him. He lift his face back up to her and kissed her lips. She wrapped her hands around his chest. His lips were fire against hers, he was as desperate as she was, “are you okay,” he panted in her ear.

            “Yes,” she gasped, “mmmh…oh…” Her hands gripped his shoulders, ran up his back seeking something to ground her from the sensations racking her body.

            “Just wait, it gets better,” he allowed himself to smile. He knew when her hips started rising instinctively and bucking against his hand, she was almost there. The muscles around his fingers inside of her wetness were tight, ready to erupt in a symphony of orgasm. He thumbed her clit until it was like a rock. She held her spread legs by the knees, oscillating them against the pressure of his hand. She’s almost there. He rose over her legs and settled between her legs. He took her hand and lowered it to his own throbbing heat, “do you understand what I am about to do?”

            “I think so,” there was no fear in her voice, in that moment she started shivering, not in fear, but in arousal, his fingers felt warm liquid fall over them.

            “Ready?” His hands gripped at the sheets puncturing holes into them.

            “Yes,” her hands wrapped around his chest and found his hips, enticing him closer.

            He nodded his head and positioned himself over her, “guide me in.” Her hand brought his thighs closer to her, she ran his erection up her sensitive skin, gasping as she did then down, stopping right at her throbbing center. He responded by pushing his hips into her thighs, in one slow fluid motion, allowing her to envelope him further with each thrust of her hips. She was moist and tight, pulsating against him. Her breasts heaved against his stomach. He lowered his elbows on either side of her face, with each rhythmic lift of her hips he buried himself deeper. Sesshomaru increased the flow of yoki into their bond, so sweet it was almost painful. It was near the level it took to create a child that caused him to lose his mind. Her hands tensed on his shoulders,

             “Alright?” Sesshomaru searched her face for discomfort.

            “Sesshomaru?”

            “Mmh?” He gave her a moment to register what had just happened as he was flush against her core. He was lost in her heat washing over him. Not moving took effort, holding back from bursting was near painful.

            “Sesshomaru look at me?” She reached out to his face grasping his cheeks to make sure she had his eyes, “I can’t stay long. Go back to the grove. The answers are there. Yuki was there, so was Haru. They tried to fight him. I didn’t see his face. He took me from behind. I only got a few hits off before the blood loss made me faint. Harutoga saw what he put on my forehead. He drew something. Yuki knows who it is. Promise me you’ll find me? Use your yoki like tonight. Promise me you’ll find me again?”

            He stopped moving his hips. He stared in disbelief. His heart stopped beating. This wasn’t the Rin that had spent the last four weeks terrified of him. The pitch in the voice wasn’t hers, not the one who shook at the slightest noise. The confidence radiating from her skin was that of his Rin. He couldn’t speak. She held his face in her hands, “I love you.”

            “Rin?”

            “I can’t stay. I’m sorry. He’s coming for me even now,” something in her eyes was changing. “I’m sorry, I have to go now. Your yoki is overpowering the spell. Find me again.”

            “No, Rin,” he held her shoulders. She was already gone, and the other Rin was back. He pulled out of her. His passion gone, she had already climaxed, “are you okay?” He asked her. I need to leave this room…I need to go back to the grove.

            “Yes,” the other Rin said to him and turned onto her side, “thank you.”

            He shook his head. He had to finish this right. The blood had already gone from his loins back to his head. He curled around this other Rin. He covered her with a blanket and waited for sleep to overtake her. He could smell sunrise before it came. It would come soon. The dreams only came at night. They never came during the day. He looked out to the sakura tree. The children were missing. He cursed himself for being an idiot. She was there and gone in moments before he could even reach her and find out who had attacked her. The answers were there. He had been there so many times. He held this other Rin and caressed her soft shoulders. She was so helpless. She just wanted something good to think about when she dreamed. Her head dropped and he heard the soft sounds of sleep.

            “I will find you again, my heart,” he sat up and put his clothes back on, grabbed his swords and tied them to his waist.

            Yuki would have been masking her scent…they had just practiced not being so careless with her dokkasu. That would explain why I found no traces of her poison, but dokkasu is a family trait, no other Inu-yokai have it. It came from father’s side. Hisato would not have been able to tell the difference between Yuki’s and mulching foliage and by the time I went there myself the rains would have washed away the traces of her poison.

            He flew out of his room to the guest room and pounded down Inuyasha’s door, “kami what?” Inuyasha came to the door, rubbing his eyes.

            “Get Tetsusaiga, come with me,” he ordered him, he gave Inuyasha enough time to grab his katana and haori before Sesshomaru grabbed him by the arm. Sesshomaru flew with Inuyasha kicking and yelling out the window of the dining room. High into the air and then towards the grove. When he landed he dropped Inuyasha on the forest floor.

            “What the hell is this about?” Inuyasha wreaked of aggravation.

            “She told me to come back here, I need your help. Look for signs Yuki was here, besides her smell, she’s been coming without my permission, look for signs of a smaller whip, claw marks. They were here, she told me they were here,” Sesshomaru needed to breathe.

            “You know I can smell what you two were doing,” Inuyasha gave his brother a look that was completely incredulous, and accusatory.

            “It was Rin, my Rin! She said that the answers were here,” he knelt down and looked at the bases of the trees. Nothing looked different, “what was she trying to tell me? What answers are here?”

            “There,” Inuyasha pointed at one of the trees, he jumped to the bottom of the piscea, “someone filled in the gashes with clay and herbs to make it look like the tree hadn’t been effected. Recognize the smell of this, don’t get too close,” the powder had a green tint to it.

            Sesshomaru joined him, “those are from Yuki, here you can see where the side of them was rotted from Dokkasu. That’s the same powder Rin uses to render Yokai blind and deaden their smell,” Sesshomaru looked around, “look there are more,” he walked to the boulder in the middle of the grove. “Yuki landed on this,” he brushed aside the clay and herbs that filled in the claw marks, “these are from her toe claws.”

            “Sesshomaru, over here!” Inuyasha called, there was another tree that had been filled in to trick them. “Look, the same small claw marks. That means whoever it was bested Yuki and Harutoga.”

            “And knew where one of our escape routes was,” Sesshomaru added, “someone close to us.”

            “Hisato?” Inuyasha suggested.

            “He isn’t smart enough for something like this,” Sesshomaru flew back into the air, “take your Miko and the Monk, tell them to guard Rin. If anything comes in that room, kill it. Anyone! I don’t care who they are.”

            Damn Yuki and wandering off. He went back to the garden. Her scent was masked but as usual the foolish child left broken branches and couldn’t cover Harutoga’s tracks to save her life. He followed the trail around the house, through the field of daisies until he came to Aun’s field. Aun was gone, Yuki couldn’t mask the two headed dragon’s smell, he went westward. Sesshomaru flew into the air and followed the smell of Aun, cursing out loud for all to hear, she was going to get it this time, he had yet to ever raise his hand to her, but it was going to happen.

Chapter Text

Hours Earlier…

             Yuki sat in the garden with Harutoga. Obasan was telling them about their cousins, how tall they were but also about how funny it was that Taisho now looked older than Sota because Sota’s demon blood was stronger. The little girl huffed and rolled her eyes. It wasn’t like she didn’t notice that on her own while they were in her house. The Kagome went into a rant about how hanyous were treated in the real world with some big word called, “discrimination”. Yuki was only vaguely aware of how the outside world treated hanyous like her and her brother. The snakes attacking weeks before were some indication that her kind wasn’t accepted. If it wasn’t for who her father was, and the village they made she would have faced the same kind of discrimination, that is what Obasan said. Yuki was sounding her out. She was more interested in drawing the butterfly that was sitting on a daisy in front of her. She wanted to capture the blues and yellows of its wings when she glanced over at Haru.

            “That’s a funny picture,” she said to her brother.

            Haru kept moving his hand drawing long diagonals over something that looked like a circle. There were six diagonal lines on top of a circle with a hexagon around them all. Yuki’s mind flinched for a minute, the pain was coming. The flash of something darker than a shadow hovering over Ka-san came again. “Haru, where did you see that?” She closed her eyes and focused her yoki. She pushed it against the pain in her head till she felt relief.

            “The shadow man, the one in dark robes. He put it on Ka-san’s forehead,” Haru told her. It was as if he didn’t even register what he had said.

            “Haru you remember something?” She sat up and went to her brother. She took the paper from him. Her mind was racing, what is this?

            “No,” he wiped his nose, “I just know I saw this. The shadow man drew it in the grove.”

            Yuki leapt to her feet and dashed out of the garden.

            “Yuki where are you going?” Obasan called after her.

            “Yuki,” Hisato called after her.

            “Stay here dog!” Yuki fumed at Hisato, “I’m not leaving home. I’m just going to get something from the kitchen. Atsuko can watch me!” That was a lie.

            Hisato made to follow Yuki.

            Yuki turned on her heels, “I said stay.” Her hands clinched against her hips.

            “You aren’t to go anywhere alone,” Hisato forcefully reminded her. “And need I remind you, I can smell a lie?”

            “So?” Yuki tried to kick at Hisato’s shin.

            Yuki glanced at Obasan.

            “It’s fine Hisato. Inuyasha can find her now if she runs off. Yuki come back immediately when you are done with whatever you are doing. I expect you back in ten minutes,” Obasan said.

            “I don’t know why I listen to anyone in this house or why Sesshomaru-sama’s mother said that I should come here…” Hisato fumed as he went back to his place under one of the many trees in the garden with arms flexed by his sides.

            Yuki stuck her tongue out at her aunt.

            She ran with the paper into the house. She sniffed the air, got him. She ran for the public entrance of the home until she found the community dining area. The majority of the fox demons were sitting at the table eating an early dinner. They looked exhausted. She was looking for on in particular. Yuki dashed across the hall up the long table, to Hinatamaru-sama. The jovial fat fox demon sat at the right of the head of the table. No one dared to sit in Chichiue’s seat, “Hinatamaru-sama! Have you seen this symbol before?”

            “Where did you get that?” He stroked his long red beard. He took the picture from Yuki holding it close to his eyes.

            “Ni-chan drew it.” She answered trying to catch her breath from running so fast. She forgot to breathe the way Chichiue taught her.

            “Yuki-chan this is an ancient memory spell, one I don’t know much about. I’m near the same age as your father, but this spell is much older. Do you think this has something to do with your mother’s memory loss?”

            “Who would know about it?” Yuki’s voice must have sounded desperate.

            “Does your father still speak with Bukoseno? If I were you, I would show it to your Chichiue and take it to Bukoseno.”

            “Chichiue isn’t home. Thanks Hinatamaru-sama!” She ran back to the garden as fast as she could. She folded the picture and placed it in the pocket of her pink kimono. Yuki would wait for nighttime and then she would take the picture to Bukoseno herself and the bracelet, when her father wasn’t looking. Now she had two clues. It was a spell, someone was stopping Ka-san from remembering.


            “This is a bad idea. We should tell Chichiue,” Haru argued with Yuki.

              “No we wait for him to go to Ka-san’s room. Once he goes, we leave. We’ll go to Bukoseno. After he tells us what we need to know, we can tell Chichiue,” Yuki touched Harutoga’s head, “lay down Haru, pretend like you are sleeping. He’s coming.”

              Yuki watched curiously as her father flew into the air holding Ka-san. The sight made her smile. They were always in love. Yuki ignored the sounds she heard coming from their room at night, the laughter and the giggles. Chichiue never laughed except at night when he was with Ka-san. Then Haru told her about seeing them wrestling naked. Yuki wasn’t sure about that. She was sure it had more to do with something else but she never felt safer than the moments she saw her parents lost in loving moments together.

            “He’s gone. Come on,” Yuki pulled Haru sleepily out of his bed and plopped him onto her back. “Focus your Yoki, like I told you.”

            “I want to walk,” Haru squirmed out of her arms.

            “Fine, but stay close. The barrier is still down. If anything comes use your whip. Don’t hesitate, just like Chichiue taught us.” Yuki took Haru’s hand and led him from the garden, around the hot springs, through the daisies and to Aun’s pasture. Aun would know how to get to Bukoseno.


Rin’s POV

            As the sun rose, she woke feeling energetic. Her cheeks flushed thinking about what she had done with Sesshomaru the night before. The way he touched her, his warmth, it was like magic. His hands were warm, exploratory but what he said, was it true? It felt like it was. Was she his wife? He seemed loathe to call it that. He said they were connected, they were bonded together as one. His body was so gentle against hers. He was so hesitant to do what she asked. She rolled over and found the bed empty, “Sesshomaru?” She called softly. Her gaze went to the golden field outside, the hot springs and the tree, no one was there. She felt wet between her legs again, like in her dream. She stood up and walked outside to wash herself in the hot springs. Her heart pinched for a moment. She was looking forward to waking up next to him. Her head was already pounding enough to waiver on her feet. With each step the head ache increased. She tripped, staggered and stopped dead in her tracks before falling to the ground screaming as the flames enveloped her skull.

            Kagome ran out and kneeled down next to her, “it’s okay. Is it your head again?”

            “Yes,” she answered softly, “always my head,” the words were slipping from her again. “Where is…” the pain engulfed her head like a boiling furnace devouring her sanity. She bent over crying and tearing at her hair. “No…no….not…back, stop…please…I,” her eyes glazed over, all she saw was darkness.


            Sesshomaru landed in the grass before Bukoseno’s forest. He caught up easily to their hours of head start. Yuki had Harutoga on her back. She turned when she saw her father. Her eyes widened. She set Haru down, “go show this to Bukoseno. Go now,” she gave Harutoga a push and then she turned to face her father. Sesshomaru saw the anger in her eyes, her little hands shook. Her fury was visible through the pink tinted whites of her eyes.

            “Yuki,” he called her, “this becomes annoying.” He took her by the wrist, but then curiosity got the better of him. “Why did you come here?”

            “Haru go! Quickly!” Instead of answering, she gave her brother a push again and then she bare her claws at her father, “I won’t let you stop us.” She jumped into the air and attempted to slash at her father’s face, only for Sesshomaru to flip over, land behind her and pin her hands to her side. She twisted her wrists up, digging the tips of her claws into his arm, releasing dokkasu with a hiss while she did. Sesshomaru ignored the sting of her poison.

            “Let Yuki go, Chichiue!” Harutoga began to cry. “Yuki tell him!”

            Yuki shook her head. She attempted to flip out of her father’s hold. Sesshomaru held her wrists firmly with one hand and kicked her feet out from underneath her. He pressed her struggling body against the grass. “Yuki, you are trying my patience. I have none left. You were in the grove. I saw it. I saw your claw marks. You fought something when Ka-san was hurt. Now why did you come to Bukoseno? Answer me or else,” he really didn’t want to have to follow through on this threat. When Rin was this age, he never had to raise his hand, sometimes his eyebrows, occasionally his voice but never his hand.

            Yuki simultaneously bit down on Sesshomaru’s wrist while spilling her poison.  The combined attack made him drop her. She ran for Harutoga, flipped him onto her back and fled into the forest. Sesshomaru caught her easily and did exactly what he didn’t want to. He grabbed Yuki;s shoulder, turned his hand backwards and slapped her across the face. The blow made her hit the floor of the forest, “Yuki, you will tell me why you came here now, or the other cheek will match this one! Do not test me and do not lie to me again!”

            Yuki rose off the ground. She wiped her face. Her eyes glinted red around the edges.

            “Control your yoki,” her father demanded.

            “Fine, Haru show him the picture,” Yuki rubbed her cheek where her father had left his mark.

            Harutoga timidly approached his father. His own hands shook in fear of his father’s anger, eyes sparkling with tears, “here. I saw this, that day in the forest but I didn’t remember it until I was drawing pictures with Obasan.”

            Sesshomaru took the paper and looked at the symbol, “what is it?” He had never seen it before.

            “Hinatamaru-sama said it’s an ancient memory spell, older than you and older than him,” Yuki continued to rub the pain out of her cheek. “I thought Bukoseno could tell us what it is. Once he did, we were going to tell you.”

            Sesshomaru bent down on one knee. He took Yuki’s face in his hand. He ran his finger over the mark he left on her, “I don’t relish what I just did. Why didn’t you tell me about this? You’ve been keeping secrets from me,” his hand dove into her pocket and pulled out the blood crusted bracelet, “what is this? I know this smell.”

            Yuki’s eyes were heavy. She lowered her face and placed her hands behind her back, “forgive me Chichiue for what I am about to say. You suck! You haven’t been around at all lately and when you are, you only spend time with Ka-san! Did you even think what happened to Haru and I? You stuck us with Ojisan and Obasan and we spent our time alone all day while you catered to Ka-san and before that you were never home! Why would I tell you anything!? You weren’t home! You didn’t protect us!” Yuki yanked the paper and the bracelet out of her father’s hand and fled as fast as she could for Bukoseno. Sesshomaru caught her only feet from where she started. He picked her up kicking and screaming in one arm. He held Harutoga in the other as he flew speedily, dodging trees until he found the old magnolia tree.

            The elderly etched face appeared leisurely and then looked at Sesshomaru as he plopped Yuki in front of it. “Yuki, I’ve been waiting for you.”

            Sesshomaru rolled his eyes. “Yuki show it to him,” Sesshomaru demanded.

            Yuki stood up. She brushed her legs off and held the paper for Bukoseno to see, “you’re old. Do you know what this is?”

            “A mind eraser,” Bukoseno spoke deliberately, “is this what happened to Rin?”

            Sesshomaru snarled and tried to lash at the tree, but was knocked back by one of his branches, “must we repeat this dance Sesshomaru?”

            “What does it do?” Yuki asked, “how do we get Ka-san back?”

            “She must kill the one who placed the spell. That spell is used on the lovers of dai-yokai. Once they have born him children, it’s meant to make them forget. Once the spell has been placed, the demon that placed it can come at any time into her bed chambers unnoticed by their lovers. It’s undetectable by Mikos. A life threatening wound is inflicted to begin the seal. As the female recovers, she is fed nightmares based from memories about her lover that convince her she would be better off leaving him. Once she is sufficiently terrified and separated from those she cares about the most, the demon comes in and convinces her she should leave him and she will. The sole purpose is to breed with her and create another child.”

            “Then I will kill the one who placed it,” Sesshomaru cracked his knuckles. His blood boiled. Someone planned to steal Rin from him?

            “You cannot. If you kill him Sesshomaru, Rin will be lost forever. She must break the spell herself by killing the one who placed it,” Bukoseno’s voice was low and concerned.

            “She can’t,” Sesshomaru snarled, “my Rin could. This one can barely leave the room without being engulfed in fear,” Sesshomaru turned around and roared loud enough to shake the entire forest.

            “Sesshomaru, she can,” Bukoseno encouraged him, “you must trust her and help her.”

            “How can she face a demon? She lost her combat memories. She doesn’t know how to fight,” Sesshomaru remained facing away from the tree.

            “The spell is broken by want Sesshomaru. She has to want to break the spell. The want is expressed through killing the demon that cast it. You must find the culprit and then bring her out of the spell with your yoki.”

            Your yoki is overpowering the spell, find me again, like tonight. “The dream trance? No…our bond, especially when we were,” he stopped short seeing that Yuki and Harutoga were listening to his every word.

            “When you are intimate with her, it nourishes the bond between you two and small amounts of your yoki flow into her body. You must put more into her but I am afraid it won’t be without consequences. The amount needed to sustain her long enough to fight may end her life. Humans aren’t meant to absorb our energy in those levels.”

            “How?” Sesshomaru demanded.

            “Your bond to her. That is the safest way to infuse her body with enough of your yoki to push the spell back and bring back your Rin, long enough to kill the one who cast the spell. But you need a conduit to hold it. Her human body will not be able to retain what you give her.”

            “Her sword,” Sesshomaru offered.

            “Not strong enough,” Bukoseno shook his eyes, “she needs a more powerful conduit to hold your yoki in her body. If she releases it, then the frail Rin will return.”

            Sesshomaru’s hand went to Bakusaiga.

            “That will kill her,” Bukoseno warned.

            “Tenseiga?”

            “Will not cut anything of this world and the one who did it is of this world,” Bukoseno’s words came out clipped.

            “Then it must be Bakusaiga. She doesn’t need to use it, just hold onto it. Now I need to find out who it is.” Sesshomaru turned to Yuki, he knew the blood on the bracelet she hid from him.

            “I know who it is Chichiue, or at least I know what he smells like,” Yuki held up the bracelet, “I was wearing this the day she was injured,” Yuki lowered her eyes. “I’m not a very good daughter either. I found it a while ago. I didn’t tell you…I thought,” he took the bracelet from her, she covered her eyes and began to cry, “I thought you didn’t love us anymore, since Ka-san was hurt and you forgot about us.”

            Sesshomaru smelled the blood on the bracelet and ground his teeth angrily. He stopped only long enough to see Yuki quaking before him, still rubbing her cheek where he slapped her, “perhaps we both made mistakes.” He pulled Yuki to his chest, “I know who’s blood this is. Ka-san is in danger. We must get back faster than Aun can fly. Come children, on my back and hold on tight. This comes from a demon who has one smell as an outer scent and whose blood smells completely different.”

            “Sesshomaru,” Bukoseno called, “your plan may very well kill her. That’s why this spell almost always works.”

            “There are no good choices. I will not let Rin go so easily,” Sesshomaru grimly answered. He knelt down and motioned for Yuki and Harutoga to get on his back. Yuki helped lift Harutoga onto her father’s back. Once he had a good grip Yuki climbed on next to him. Sesshomaru used his Mokomoko to hold them in place, “no good choices.” But I know her. She would not want to be separated from this Sesshomaru and so that is the choice I will make for both of us. “Harutoga, no bird games, we don’t have time.” Sesshomaru felt exhausted flying into the air, the drained Yoki was taking its toll on him. He closed his eyes and held Bakusaiga drawing on its energy. He flew quickly home. He would be even weaker once he forced his yoki into Rin. He braced himself for the battle ahead, a battle that might take Rin from him forever. Something hit the back of his awareness like a clap of thunder. He’s come for me. Sesshomaru I don’t want to leave you.

            Rin…I’m coming. The scar on over his heart was on fire, burning with a foreign flame. The Healer was making his move. He was taking Rin.


Rin’s POV           

            She woke up in the home of the Healer. Her eyesight was blurry as she looked at the ceiling. The brown beams were one big blob of color. Her stomach ached. She couldn’t tell if she was hungry or if it was cramping again. Torikku was hovering over her. His hands were on her stomach pressing down, making her wince in pain. She felt something hot go over her skin near her navel. She tried to focus on the beams of his hut, the large brown ones. “Why am I here?” Her arms were weak. The world was spinning.

            “You lost consciousness. The hanyou and his Miko brought you here,” Torikku answered her softly. He touched her sweat soaked brow, “do not fear. I am here to take care of you now.”

            “Where is Sesshomaru?” She asked Torikku.

            “Out as usual. You know how he is, always off somewhere,” he scuttled back to Rin with some warm tea, “here drink this it will help your stomach.” He gave her the hot cup, “careful, the sides are hot.”

            “Thank you,” she lowered her head and took a sip of the bitter tea, “what do you mean, off somewhere?” She suddenly felt uncomfortable. There was more cramping in her stomach. The tea tasted strange, bitter. She felt like she knew this herb. The shape of the leaves popped into her head, danger rang out loud but she didn’t know why, they were just tea leaves.

            “He is a very busy Lord with not much time for anything besides the things that bring him pleasure. Here one day, gone the next. Gone for weeks on end. His wife used to come by here and work the fields. She would lament the days he was gone, how his children missed him. Very sad to be attached to someone so in love with battle, that they forget about the things they once loved.” His eyes had an odd glow to them. The irises were orange. His hands trembled in excitement.

            She lowered the cup to her lap, was that all it was? Passion last night? Is that why he wasn’t there when I woke up? But he said I was his wife…was I so unhappy here? “He stayed with me since I woke up. He never left,” she whispered trying to convince herself that the warmth they shared was real. Something in her head was screaming at her to put the tea down.

            “Until he got what he wanted. You were spotting again. I saw, down there. He lay with you last night didn’t he? Just like the other day you were spotting, taking you in your sleep” Torikku’s voice was different, instead of soft and high pitched it was becoming lower and more hypnotic.

            “In my sleep?” She was breathless, why would he do that? It wasn’t a dream?

            “You know some demons can do that, put a woman in a dream-trance and lay with her. It’s disgusting,” his voice was even lower, it felt like it was washing through her head like a vice gripping her.

            “No…” That was all she could get out, he didn’t just use me.

            “Took what he wanted from you, then left you. It isn’t the first time, that’s how they always said good-bye. He would bed her then leave her to be alone with the children, kami only knows when he would return.” He touched her forehead, she felt something wash into her, “how has he been able to put so much of his yoki in you?”

            “I need to go back to the house,” she set the cup down. She tried to get up. Her legs weren’t working. She felt sleepy.

            “You need to rest. Come lay down. Perhaps once you feel more on your feet, we’ll go for a lovely carriage ride to the neighboring village?” His voice was flowing over her senses, it sounded like a melody of familiar notes, “you told me remember, you loved going on carriage rides, to clear your head.”

            “I loved going on carriage rides,” she felt dizzy. Her body complied with his voice.

            “You didn’t like it when he was away all the time…” his voice was like the river flowing through a valley.

            “I didn’t like it when he was away all the time.” She fought to keep her eyes open.

            “You wanted to leave him,” he traced lines on her head with red powder that smelled like spices.

            “I wanted to leave him,” her head was swimming with his voice. Sesshomaru…please save me. There was a foreign voice in her head, was that her? The one who’s body she was in..

            “He never really loved you,” his fingers forced themselves down onto her skull.

            “He never really loved me,” she was getting weaker, the pain from his touch was ebbing away what memories she had from the last month.

             Torikku climbed on top of her. He created a nest for himself between her legs. He pulled her kimono down to bare the tops of her breasts, “maybe I will have a taste now before we go, eh? Then I can seal the spell, if I can get past that bastard’s yoki, how did he do it eh? Oh, there it is,” he rest his hand over Rin’s left breast, “right here,” he touched her nipple.

            “You dare attempt to steal this bastard’s lover?” Sesshomaru flew into the hut, grabbed Torikku by the throat and slammed him through the wall of his hut, and into the ground outside, uprooting half the vegetable garden while he was at it. “You dare to touch her? You dare to take her from my side? Did you forget Inu-Yokai create a spiritual bonds with their soulmates, that cannot be broken by anything but death or heart-ache. You think laying with her would wipe the bond? You underestimate the power of this Sesshomaru’s yoki!” Sesshomaru lift his claw towards Torikku’s face, he held him by the neck choking him.

            “Remember Sesshomaru, you kill me, the spell is permanent and you never see your precious Rin again,” Torikku laughed hysterically. “And I have no intention of breaking it, no matter how you may try to force me.”

            “That won’t be an issue, because I have no intention of killing you myself. She will,” he pointed at Rin who was standing at the entrance of the hut looking very confused and shocked at what she was seeing. Her eyes tracked to Sesshomaru terrified at the glow in his eyes, the anger in his voice and the way he held Torikku.

            “Go ahead, keep threatening me! Show her that you are the monster I’ve made her believe you are!”

 Sesshomaru threw Torikku to the side, “Inuyasha, don’t let him escape. Miroku, keep him here.”

            Inuyasha stepped out from behind Sesshomaru, and cracked his knuckles.

            She was already backing away from the angry Sesshomaru. He had three swords on him this time. She tried to turn and run from him. She made it five steps from the hut before he landed in front of her. He touched her chin and lowered his head to kiss her mouth, only for her to slap his face, scream and try to run from him, “I’m sorry my heart, this is going to hurt.”

           She didn’t have a chance to respond. Sesshomaru grabbed her by the arms. He forced her back against his chest. He put a white pearled hilt into her left hand and a white sword that looked like a long white tooth in her right. He closed his eyes, a low growl fled his lips. His eyes pitched red. Sesshomaru opened his bond wide open forcing his yoki into her body. It was more than he had used before, more than needed to create a child. The flow was so powerful it was sickening. He felt nauseas. Behind a wall, he felt Rin’s warmth, her love for him, it steadied the flow into her body.

          “Dammit,” Torikku cursed. He tried to run.

           “Where do you think you’re going?” Shippo stepped out from behind the trees. He threw a green ball of fire at Torikku, “the whole time I trusted you. I thought you were her friend.”

             Torikku attempted the other direction only to be met with Yuki who was copying her father and uncle cracking her claws. Inuyasha leapt into the air. He landed noiselessly in front of Yuki, “leaving so soon? She’s almost ready.” Inuyasha snarled, “Rin is precious to all of us. You made a big mistake targeting her.”

              Her body quivered, it started with her hands as the energy beat back and forth between the two hands. It radiated up and down her spine, until it crashed into her mind, flooding her senses with green, electric energy, until she was on her knees with Sesshomaru behind her forcing his yoki into her body, into her mind. He could almost see the barrier blocking her memories, like an orange wall that sparked with vivacity. He ground his teeth. His own body was weakening from the effort. Sesshomaru knew he expelled too much energy between what he gave to the fox children and now to Rin.

            She shrieked a staccato. She screamed, the pain of his yoki enveloping her body. She collapsed with the force of his power. He kept her hands tight around the two swords catching her body with his knees. Yuki and Harutoga ran to Sesshomaru and pushed her body against their father’s chest. “Is she going to be okay?” Yuki ran her hands through Rin’s hair.

             “I don’t know,” Sesshomaru panted, that was too much. “Rin,” he shook her shoulder, “Rin wake up,” he gave her another good shake, “wake up my heart.”

             “Sesshomaru?” She asked weakly, “Sesshomaru?” She looked up, eyes full of the light he had been waiting to see shine for months. “My Sesshomaru? Is it really you?”

             “Don’t release the swords. We don’t have much time, listen to me,” he couldn’t stop himself from embracing her. He held his Rin, the real Rin close to his heart, “listen to me, the Healer put the spell on you. In order to break it you must take his life. Do not release either sword. If you do, the spell will take over again. My yoki is inside you, the swords are tethering it, it’s fighting the spell. You cannot let go of either sword do you understand?”

            “My head is spinning,” she touched the left side of her head, “it’s like I can feel the spell fighting against your yoki.”

            He held her chin in his hand and kissed her deeper than he ever had before, “you must do it now, take his life, and your memories will return.”

            Rin touched her stomach, “Sesshomaru, I…”

             “Now Rin, there isn’t much time,” he muttered in her ear, “go. Do not release the swords.”

             Rin shrugged her shoulders, she closed her eyes for a moment and focused on what Sango and Kohaku once taught her. Not all battles end quickly, sometimes they go until you are exhausted, all you can do is take a deep breath and draw on the strength that you have. His strength, she told herself, he just gave me his strength, his yoki, his strength is my strength. She could feel it coursing through her body, burning her skin. It was as if something was alive shocking her insides, the sweetest most horrible pain she had ever felt in her life. She stalked towards Torikku, “bastard!” She yelled at him. “You cannot break my bond to him! You cannot make me love you!” She attacked, she flew into the air. He dodged the blow and pulled out his own sword. An intense battle raged. She struck, he parried, she lunged he ducked. Rin kicked, he swung with his own sword. The blade narrowly missed her throat. She bent herself backwards sliding underneath it.

           “Shit,” Sesshomaru cursed. He threw his whip at Torikku’s sword and missed. The bastard was faster than Sesshomaru gave him credit for. Sesshomaru’s hand tremored from the loss of yoki.

           Torikku lunged at Rin, she dodged his blow. He flew into the air and aimed the sword at her head, Sesshomaru flicked the whip again to hook the serrow demon’s foot, and missed. He cursed his hand. Rin rolled out of the way missing the blow. Trust her, I trust you Rin. You can do this.

           “Ni-san, let me take care of helping her. Your weakened.” Inuyasha walked into the ring where Rin was fighting desperately. Her movements were slower than they were in the past, but she was keeping up with the Healer. He kicked for her head, she ducked, she kicked at his stomach, simultaneously swinging her sword and Bakusaiga to slash into his waist, he flipped backwards twice. When Yuki came on him she landed on top of Torikku’s shoulders dug her hands into his shoulders and released a green gas before he grabbed her arm and threw her off.

         Sesshomaru jumped and caught Yuki before she hit the ground. “This is not your fight Yuki.”

        “Shippo!” The one called Kaito came running up. “What’s going on why are they fighting the Healer?”

         “He’s the one that placed the spell, find Hinatamaru-sama and tell him. Send me ten fox children, we’ll build a shield so he won’t be able to escape, Sesshomaru-sama,” Shippo threw fox fire at Torikku again. The damn Serrow demon grabbed the fire in his hand threw it back at Shippo.

         “You can’t fight him Shippo,” Sesshomaru barked, “she must break the spell herself.”

         Rin swung with her sword, the whip released a slithering green dragon that wrapped around Torikku’s knee and dug into his flesh. Torikku screamed in pain one knee buckled. Rin attacked again but this time he was able to nock Bakusaiga out of her hand. He spun on the ground leg extended, tripping Rin. Her katana was knocked from her hand. As she crumpled to the floor, Sesshomaru’s eyes blazed red. Rin looked up. He knew from her eyes, his Rin was gone, the other one had returned, she was stammering and fearful.

        “Inuyasha, Shippo hold him,” Sesshomaru set Yuki down and stomped towards the woman that was sitting on the ground, fearful, trying to get away from the violence around her.  He picked up Bakusaiga and sheathed it, he picked up Rin despite her screams of protest, “look at me, look at me,” he gave her a soft shake, “look at me, my heart.”

          “Fox shield now!” Shippo called in the background, “block him in, don’t let him out!”

          “No…n…no…mean…angry…kill…no…red…eyes…hurt…no,” she couldn’t get away from him, her hands wouldn’t stop shaking.

          “Don’t listen to him, he’s trying to trick you,” Torikku yelled, “he is trying to kill me, because he is afraid you will finally see him for what he is.”

          She tried looking anywhere but at Torikku or Sesshomaru, “Look at me, my heart, look in my eyes,” he forced them back to their regular white and golden, “you are my soulmate, you are my love. He put a spell on you to make you forget, to make you forget who you are.”

          “No he is the monster, look at the blood on his claws! Look how he has his hanyou brother hold me! He cares nothing for you! He never did! That is why he left you alone all the time, he hates you.” Torikku brayed.

         Sesshomaru snarled and would have ripped Torikku’s throat out if it wouldn’t have made the spell permanent.

         “Shut up,” Inuyasha kicked the healer in the stomach, “you damn lying bastard, who the hell tries to take someone else’s lover? Rin loves Sesshomaru. She has since she was a child!”

           “See,” Torikku coughed up blood, “see how they treat someone who has ever been kind to you.”

           “You are lucky it is she who must kill you. Don’t think for a moment, if she fails that I won’t kill you in ways you have never dreamt of for what you have done to Rin!” Sesshomaru growled. He could barely keep the red out of his eyes or his fangs from growing in fury.

           “And what kind of a lover have you been, eh? Leaving her alone to cry unhappy tears while she worked in the garden? To spend the nights in an empty bed? Spend her days wondering if you were alive? When you left for weeks on end, not knowing where you were? You don’t deserve her Sesshomaru. She deserves someone who loves her! Not someone like you, an arrogant heartless bastard who only cares about himself and his pleasure! You took her in her sleep to satisfy your own needs and she knows it!”

           “Ka-san don’t listen to him,” Yuki yelled, “we want you back! Chichiue loves you! Chichiue tell her! Ka-san please!”

          “Please ka-san I want to play hanetsuki with you again!” Harutoga begged his mother.

          “Rin, look at me,” Sesshomaru thought his heart would stop for a moment, were those words true? Had he condemned her to a life of loneliness at his side? He pulled her near flopping body to his side. Sesshomaru held her close to him. He took her hand in his, he cupped her chin and kissed her deeply until she stopped struggling, “In the 900 years I have been alive, I have never felt the need to bond someone, ever. Not until I met you, I met her. She is the only one I have ever loved. She would not want to go with that thing.” He took her hand to his heart, and placed it on his still bare chest where the scar over his heart lay. “This is our bond,” he was too drained to open it, “you are mine.”

           “Head, it stings,” she cried, she held the left side of her head. Her body didn’t want to stay upright.

             “In the time you have been with me, I have not hurt you. He was responsible for your bad dreams, for your fears. This is not who you are, your memories are still there, the person you were before,” Sesshomaru held her close, lending her the heat of his arms, the touch of his kiss.

             “You don’t love me,” she cried. “You love her, the one who you are bonded to. I am just a vessel of pleasure for you.”

             “How can you say that? I told you last night, I love you both,” he felt desperation creeping in to his words. She tried to move away from him but he wouldn’t let her, he kept her close to his chest.

            “But I am not her, you would never love me the way you did her,” she wiped a tear from her eyes, “maybe it’s better if I go with him.”

            “No, you are mine and I will not let you go. If you cannot kill him for your family then kill him for yourself,” Sesshomaru rest his lips against her neck, “listen to me. I have heard you crying for nights and days. I have seen you struggle to remember who you are, no one should live their life not knowing who they are…it is your turn now, fight back, take back what is yours. Kill him, and your memories will return to you.”

           “He doesn’t love you!” Torikku screamed again, Inuyasha kept Torikku from escaping.

           The bastard would know how to fight, this would be over in a minute if I could kill him. Sesshomaru tried to remember to concentrate on Rin, his Rin was beneath this one. He didn’t have the energy now to pull her back out, but this one, he had her trust, at least he thought he did.

           “I don’t know what to believe, let me go, please?” Rin cried as she tried to push herself off of Sesshomaru’s chest.

           Out of nowhere a battle hardened shriek came from behind Sesshomaru. Yuki flew into the air again landing on top of the Healer. She dug her claws into him, blasting his shoulders with her poison. She dug her back toes into the healers cloak and clamped down on his back with her mouth. The Healer whirled around until he found Yuki’s head and threw her into a tree. “Yuki!” Sesshomaru shouted. He let Rin go and attempted to catch Yuki. Yuki’s back snapped into the tree trunk. She fell into her father’s arms, “Yuki,” he touched her forehead. His eyes pitched red once again calling on the remaining reserves of yoki, “do not think you will leave here alive Torikku. If she cannot kill you, then I will.” He stalked back towards the healer who was now battling it out with Inuyasha. Torikku was trapped now, the fox children’s shield held him in. Out of the corner of his eyes Sesshomaru saw Hinatamaru and his wife in their true forms on either side of the battlefield adding their power to the shield making it impenetrable.

         “No!” Rin screamed.

         When Sesshomaru looked back Rin had her katana in her hand again. Her eyes bled green around the irises. Green from the power of his yoki, “she is just a child,” she clutched her head, “just a child, how could you do that?”

          “A nuisance,” Torikku hissed gloating.

          “No, my child,” Rin’s growled. She knelt down to the ground and flung herself into the air in a flip. Torikku dodged her foot coming at his legs. He failed to notice the glow of her sword, the whip snaked around his feet as he leapt in the air, tightening on his ankles. Rin used that momentum to slam Torikku back to the ground. She kicked his face, throwing his body feet from where he landed. She held tightly to the whip. Torikku pawed at it, it was only then something in Rin’s head registered, “you’re not even human, what are you?” It was as if the two Rin’s were battling as one.

          “Use my yoki Rin, force the spell back!” Sesshomaru’s voice boomed in Rin’s ears.

          “Bastard!” Rin screamed. She raised the katana into the air  and slammed it down into Torikku’s chest, he took that last moment to use both his now hooved back feet and struck Rin in the stomach causing her to lose her grip on the sword now sticking out of his chest and Rin’s limp body to fly into the air. Sesshomaru flew up with her body, his mind raging and caught her. Torikku finally slumped over.

         Sesshomaru carried Rin to Torikku’s body, “you don’t deserve her Sesshomaru. You think only of yourself. This is just the beginning.” His eyes glazed over into the back of his head.

           Sesshomaru answered with a snarl. He fell to his knees both from weakness and to clutch his Rin tighter to his chest. “Inuyasha, take my children home. Ask your Miko to tend to Yuki,” he rest Rin on top of one of his knees. “Are you there, my heart,” he brushed the hair from her face, “you fought bravely, as always.” In that moment he simply wanted to be with Rin and hold her next to his heart. He smelled it before he felt the warm liquid pool on his leg where her bottom sat. “No…” the blood went from pooling to gushing. He took Bakusaiga in his hand, drawing on its strength and fled back to his home with Rin cradled against him, “hold on, my heart, I will not lose you now.”

            Behind him Hinatamaru and his wife followed closely.

Chapter Text

            Sesshomaru sat in the corner of his bedroom against the wall. His body felt like it had no strength left. He kept his hands clenched to hide how they trembled from weakness.

             Rin lay in their bed. The sheets soaked in blood, every so often in her sleep she moaned and cried out. For a moment he thought he felt something wet beneath one of his eyes. He reminded himself I do not cry. The Miko was closest to Rin her face aghast. The room smelled like fear. “I need more herbs, the bleeding isn’t stopping,” she said to Akari and Atsuko. Atsuko ran back to the storerooms. Sesshomaru felt helpless, with no open injuries, there was nothing to use his blood for. Atsuko returned and the Miko made something for Rin to drink. She poured it into Rin’s mouth and returned to massaging circles on her stomach. “He gave Rin something to make her miscarry. I recognize the smell on her mouth,” her hands worked in furious circles. “It was the kick to the stomach that did this. She’s so bruised.”

            Rin groaned. Her back rose off the bed. Sesshomaru was desperate to be next to her. He dare not move, not knowing which Rin was behind those closed eyes, would he comfort her or send her into terror?

           “It’s out,” The Miko spoke as she broke into sobs. She touched Rin’s hair and covered her mouth, “I’m sorry Rin. I’m sorry O-ni-sama.” Kagome placed something small onto the sheets.

             His eyes floated to a tiny form on the bed next to Rin, so small it would fit in his hand, so skinny it looked like a twig. It didn’t move. Sesshomaru covered his mouth. His fingers twitched next to his lips. His heart choked in sorrow.

            “The bleeding won’t stop. I don’t know what to do,” the Miko whimpered.

            “I do,” came a voice from the hall. It was Hinatamaru, his wife was next to him with a long line of fox children, “healing circle, we will return what is left of your yoki     Sesshomaru-sama. Then you will use it to heal your Rin.”

            “I can do that?” Sesshomaru had no idea. He knew the yoki in his saliva and blood could heal open wounds. He should have known the yoki from the bond could be used in more ways than he imagined.

             “I’ll walk you through it. Healing circle children, return what we borrowed, you will feel weak afterwards,” he told the fox demons, “I hope you won’t mind us using your home for another week to recover before we leave?” Hinatamaru’s voice was soothing in the chaos.

            The forty fox children, Hinatamaru and his wife clasped hands. They hummed a soft tune, as they did a green light came from their hands and wafted into Sesshomaru’s body enveloping him. It was not the full extent of what he had given them. It was enough to steady his hands and clear his mind.

            “Focus on your bond Sesshomaru, draw on what strength you can. Send it through the bond to heal her. Focus on stopping the blood,” Hinatamaru came into the room. He sat down on the bed, his eyes shifted to the lost life on the bed, “I’m sorry for your loss. A steady flow should do it, you’ll feel when it’s the right amount.”

            Sesshomaru rose from his place in the corner. He sat down on the bedding. He held Rin’s hand, “heal my heart,” his eyes shuttered, “take my strength and heal.” He felt the bond open, the barrier he kept feeling before was gone, are you back? He felt something resonating with an ache inside of her body. He reached out to soothe it. As he did his body waivered. He felt the ache dissipate.

             “The bleeding stopped,” Kagome closed Rin’s legs. She covered her with a red sheet, “she needs to recover now. I think she’ll be okay. She lost a lot of blood. Someone will need to sit with her at all times for a few days. I’m sorry Sesshomaru.” She touched his shoulder before she left the room.

            “We’ll come back to clean the sheets and change the bedding when you are ready Sesshomaru-sama,” Atsuko and Akari bowed to him as they left the door. “What should we do with…” Akari couldn’t finish the question, her eyes glistened with tears, “I’m so sorry Sesshomaru-sama. I should have done more to protect her.”

           “Leave us,” he reached out a trembling finger to the tiny body. “Yuki?” He called to the Miko in the hallway.

            “Lucky she has your strong blood to protect her body or her back would have broken. She’s sleeping in her room. Inuyasha is sitting with her and Harutoga. She should be fine in a few days.” The Miko lowered her head and wiped tears from her eyes. “I’ll go be with them so you can stay with Rin.”

            Once the room was empty Sesshomaru lowered himself onto the blood soaked sheets and touched Rin’s forehead. He felt something wet again beneath his eyes, I do not cry. He reminded himself as he pulled Rin’s limp body against his, breathing haggardly, he rest his lips on her forehead. “We succeeded my heart,” he whispered softly, “I failed.”


              Yuki struggled to open her eyes. She felt like her back was on fire. The second she tried to lift herself off the ground she screamed in pain. When she tried to curl into a ball, she sobbed even harder. Her eyes slit halfway. She could tell she was in her room. Her sheets were the most beautiful shade of purple and the futon cradled her form perfectly. Chichiue found them on one of his many trips away. The thought of him being away now terrified Yuki, “Chichiue!” She called trying to bite back the pain of her back. “Chichiue!!” She screamed in panic. The memories were coming back to her. All of the memories. Yuki tried to help her mother fight the serrow demon. He threw her and she felt her back snap and then the world was dark. Before that, the images were flashing threw her mind faster than she could process, the grove, the shadowman and waking up next to the river. “Chichiue! Chichiue!” She sobbed, “Chichiue!”

            Yuki saw two knees, black hair, folded over the side of a slender body, “Ka-san?” Her eyes tracked up to the face, it was her Obasan, “no! I don’t want you! Where is Chichiue! Chichiue! I want Chichiue!” She slammed her fist onto the marble floor.

            “Calm down Yuki,” Kagome stroked her hair, “it’s okay, he’s meeting Totosai right now.”

            Yuki slammed her hand down onto her bedding again, “I don’t want you! I want Chichiue! Chichiue! Chichiue!” She sobbed, “Chichiue!”

            Inuyasha walked into the room. Yuki lay on the floor sobbing and screaming for her father. He yanked Kagome out of the way when Yuki’s claws came hacking at Kagome’s knees. “She wants her father,” Kagome stood up.

            Kagome turned around to face Sesshomaru. Sesshomaru knelt down over Yuki, he touched her tear stained face. He smoothed her matted hair, “Chichiue,” Yuki put her hand over his, “you’re here. My back hurts, it hurts really bad. I can’t move.”

            Then came in the bottle eyed old man in striped clothing. “Oi, she doesn’t need a sword,” Totosai bent over Yuki. His bug eyes looked into her golden ones, “I didn’t see it before, her yoki was fighting something. You said a serrow demon Inuyasha?”

            “Yeah, he cast a spell on Rin taking her memories and blocked Yuki and Harutoga from remembering what happened that day,” Inuyasha answered.

            “Get out! All of you!” Yuki screamed, “I don’t want you here! I just want Chichiue.”

            “Leave,” Sesshomaru ordered them. “Calm down Yuki.”

            Kagome and Inuyasha left the room.

            “It hurts,” Yuki cried.

            Sesshomaru bent down, he carefully pulled Yuki into his lap, “Totosai, explain.”

            Totosai scratched his head. He hobbled over and tickled Yuki’s chin. She batted his hand off, “serrow demons have powerful yoki, that’s what enables them to take the mates of Dai-yokai. Her yoki was battling the foreign yoki inside of her, that’s why she kept changing. I’ll leave the swords, but you shouldn’t need them again until the children are fully grown.”

            “Get out!” Yuki shrieked again, “make him leave! Get out!” She tried to claw Totosai.

            Totosai jumped out of the way, “her father’s temper to boot.”

            Sesshomaru carried Yuki out the door to the garden. Harutoga played in the daisies with Akari who watched him. Yuki continued crying. “Yuki,” Sesshomaru sat down next to the hot springs.

            “It hurts!” She screamed at her father, “make it stop hurting!”

            “Chichiue will help you, but you must listen to me,” Sesshomaru tried to soothe her.

            “No!!!” She screamed at the top of her lungs.

            “Akari, bring her a towel and clean clothes,” Sesshomaru set Yuki down next to the hot springs. He removed her yukata revealing her battered back. It reminded him of how Rin’s back looked the first week they were bonded. Yuki had slept for a full day, and the injuries would have been fatal if she were not a hanyou. Sesshomaru tossed off his haori, removed his shoes and slid into the hot springs. Standing the water came up just below his rib cage. He turned around and pulled Yuki into the water with him. He cradled the child, holding her in his lap. She continued to shake and scream against his chest about the pain. He waited for the water to do the same as it had done for Rin all those years before.

            Slowly Yuki’s crying calmed to hiccups and gasps. “You never let us in the hot springs. You said it was just for you and Ka-san,” she rest her head against his mokomoko.

            Sesshomaru suppressed a grin, “I am making an exception. We are going to train again,” he adjusted Yuki so she leaned forward in his lap. He supported her front with his free arm and ladled water over her back with the other.

            “That hurts,” she whimpered.

            “Find your yoki.” He waited to feel the small rise in yoki from his daughter.

            The rise came and fell only seconds later. Yuki’s breath became staggered. “It’s too hard to hold it, it hurts too much.” She gripped his wrist.

            Sesshomaru chuckled, “I’m going to teach you to heal yourself. Listen to me and the pain will be less. Find your yoki,” he instructed her, “relax your breathing.”

            “Okay,” Yuki closed her eyes, she focused on deep even breaths. She breathed in and out for a few minutes. She opened her eyes and grasped her yoki.

            “Good, now, tell your body to heal your back,” Sesshomaru poured water over the battered skin. He had to keep his knees pointed up or Yuki’s head would be under the water. He pushed himself higher up to get a better view. He watched in pride as the bruises began to fade. The black and blues faded to light purple. “Don’t hold your breath.”

            Yuki let out her tense breath. She closed her eyes and clenched her teeth. The bruises continued to fade until she collapsed in his arms, “that’s all I can do,” she muttered weakly. Her head swayed in his arms. Within moments she was asleep. Sesshomaru inspected Yuki’s back. The bruises faded substantially. She wasn’t able to heal herself completely but enough that he knew she felt relief from the pain she was in.

            Inuyasha came with a towel and a clean yukata for Yuki. “Kagome said to keep her in light clothes. Akari went to get some food for Yuki.”

            Sesshomaru flew out of the hot springs. He took the towel from Inuyasha and dried Yuki off.

            “I overheard that. Since when can a hanyou force their wounds to heal?” Inuyasha asked Sesshomaru in disbelief.

            Sesshomaru flicked his eyes at Inuyasha and dressed Yuki. He set her down on the bedding in the garden and covered her up. “Since always,” he walked towards his bedroom to change his clothes.


            Kagome sat next to Rin at the head of the bed. She had to admit the sheets and the futons in this place were impressive. At her hut in the village she slept on a plain bamboo mat. Here Sesshomaru had fluffy bed rolls on the ground with smooth cotton and silk sheets. The ones Rin currently slept on were royal blue and sea green. I wonder where he gets the money for all this? She thought to herself. Kagome shook her head and went back to the task at hand, getting fluids inside Rin. She had been asleep for a day now. Her skin was deathly pale. Kagome pressed her index and middle finger to Rin’s neck. She was sure that her heart-rate was ok, at least she thought it was. She yearned for the medicine of her time to fix Rin. At times it seemed as if she would wake up. Her eyes fluttered but then she was asleep again. Kagome asked Atsuko to bring her some soup broth and a water bottle.

            Sesshomaru entered the room, bare from the waist up. Kagome flushed, he was attractive. She was in love with Inuyasha but that didn’t mean she was blind. It was even more disturbing when he leaned over into one of the many trunks that lined the wall and pulled out dry clothes only to start taking off what was left of his clothing, “Dammit Sesshomaru!” Kagome fled the room and leaned her back against the wall, “ask me to leave the room before you do that!”

            “Why?” Sesshomaru’s voice came back.

            “Because it’s not modest, baka,” Inuyasha’s voice was in the room with Sesshomaru. “Seriously, how can a hanyou heal themselves? Ahh!”

            Kagome heard liquid falling to the ground and Inuyasha grunting in pain. When she turned the corner Sesshomaru was dressed in dry white hikama with his hand completely through Inuyasha’s left shoulder. Blood dripped from his claws, “heal yourself.” Sesshomaru pulled his hand out.

            Inuyasha grunted and fell to the ground.

            “That’s it! I’ve had it with you doing things like that to him!” Kagome stormed into the room, “O-ni-sama, this is too much!”

            “What will you do Miko?” Sesshomaru asked condescendingly.

            Kagome placed her index fingers together and began chanting. Sesshomaru eyed her curiously. The beads of subjugation left Inuyasha neck and flew towards Sesshomaru’s. He batted them away like they were fleas as each one attempted to connect to his neck with the most bored expression on his face. Kagome called on her spiritual powers and flung Sesshomaru against the wall. She could see him struggling against the invisible bonds that held him. She felt a rise in his yoki as he fought her seal. Kagome began chanting again this time the beads formed a circle around Sesshomaru’s neck. When the necklace was completed Kagome yelled, “Sesshomaru, osuwari!”

            The beads lit up for only a moment before they broke and fell to the ground. Sesshomaru started laughing, “is that the extent of your powers?” His eyes pitched red as he broke through the seal she placed on him. “Pathetic.”

            “No it wasn’t,” Kagome removed a knife from her sleeve, “but if you keep pushing I’ll show you them,” her eyes lit the most azure pink color to match Sesshomaru’s red eyes. She flung him back against the wall. He snarled trying to remove himself from her grip. His skin started sizzling as she continued walking forward, “now, tell Inuyasha how to heal himself or I’m going to seal you to the wall of your own house!”

            Sesshomaru ground his teeth. He called on more of his yoki. As his rose, so did the power coming from Kagome. They were in a battle of wills. She could not seal him completely and he could not escape her grasp. He refused to be the first to yield and flung more power at her. Her power rose to match his, sweat dripping from her brow. “How long can you last Miko? When you still don’t know the extent of your own power?”

            Kagome wrinkled her nose.

            She looked down at Inuyasha who breathed heavily in a pool of his own blood, “just show him how to heal himself and I will let you go.”

            “Inuyasha find your yoki and direct it towards the wound, though I doubt it will be strong enough to heal it completely,” Sesshomaru snarled, “now release this Sesshomaru. You cannot seal me completely. You lack the control.”

            “And you lack the power the escape,” Kagome folded her arms and released Sesshomaru.

            He looked at her with another bored expression while he walked to Rin and knelt down by her bed, “why won’t you wake?” He stroked the hair out of her eyes.

            Inuyasha pulled himself off the ground. He felt his shoulder mostly healed, it was reduced to a dull ache. He rolled his eyes at Sesshomaru and left the room.

            Kagome approached Rin’s bedside, “I was coming to you to ask a favor, two actually. One of them I hope will help Rin. My brother Sota in my time, he just finished medical school, he’s the same age as Rin.”

            “Medical School?” Sesshomaru looked confused.

            “Where people learn to become doctors, anyway he’s going into obstetrics.”

            “Obstetrics?” Sesshomaru raised an eyebrow at Kagome like she was crazy.

            “If I have to explain every word from my time, it’s going to take all day for you to understand. Things are different in my world. There aren’t any yokai. We have really advanced medicine, better than herbs, he can probably help me find out why she hasn’t woken up yet. But even on Aun it’s going to take too long to get back and forth to the village, you can fly faster than Aun right?”

            Sesshomaru nodded.

            “Because I’m probably going to have to come here and back a few times, and I don’t know if it’s safe to move Rin right now. I want to ask my brother about Rin. And I want to bring my girls here. I figured I would send Kirara to bring them back here.”

            “Your children are welcome. As for the other request, allow me to finish dressing and I will take you back to the well. No yokai? I do not exist five hundred years from now?”

            “If you do, I haven’t seen you or anyone else,” Kagome answered. “I’ll let you get dressed.”


            When the door closed Sesshomaru laydown next to Rin. He gingerly touched her hair moving it from her face, “wake up Rin,” he begged her, “come back to me.” He closed his eyes and let his yoki search through her body for any sign there was something he had missed, something he had failed to heal. He was met with nothing, her body felt no pain. The paleness remained, her chest rose and fell softly. “I miss you,” he whispered in her ear.

            He rose off the ground, glared at the puddle of blood Inuyasha left and found his haori. He put his armor back on and tied his swords to his waist. He went out to the hallway and held his hand out to Kagome, “come.” He gave her only a moment to grasp his fingers before they disappeared into a white light. The drag on his yoki made him nearly gasp for breath. He had not fully recovered from the yoki he gave to the fox demon children or from what he had forced inside of Rin. The thought made him feel better. If he wasn’t weakened, he would have been able to fling her holy energy back at Kagome. She clung to his neck uncomfortably. Sesshomaru gripped Bakusaiga in one hand to speed their journey. After a short period of time he landed next to the well.

            “I’ll be back,” Kagome said.

            Sesshomaru watched as she disappeared into the well. He regarded it coolly before he jumped inside after her. Instead of disappearing his feet landed on the dirt. He flew out and saw the same village he was in before, odd, he thought to himself as he waited for Kagome to return. He sat next to the well for an hour before Kagome came struggling through the well with a heavy bag. “Can you take this?” She motioned to the bag.

            Instead of taking the bag he grabbed Kagome by the back of her shirt and hoisted her, bag and all out of the well. “What did he say? This brother?”

            “He gave me instructions and some supplies. Now, let’s go back.”

            Sesshomaru rolled his eyes as he hooked Kagome around the waist and flew back towards his home with the same speed he had travelled to the village. His chest felt tight with exertion. He hoped she didn’t need many more trips to figure out why Rin still slept. As they flew he asked Kagome, “explain to me, your time is 500 years in the future?”

            “Yes.”

            “This brother is a Healer?”

            “A doctor. It’s like a Healer, but in my time doctors have specialties. He wants to deliver babies.”

            “Strange occupation for a man. Isn’t that women’s work?”

            “Not in my time,” Kagome clung to his neck again, “this makes me feel sick flying this fast.”

            “Rin also feels sick at this speed. What did he say?”

            “He thinks Rin lost too much blood and may not recover without a blood transfusion and before you ask let me explain what it is. You take blood from someone else and put it into the person by their veins with a small tube. Unfortunately he can’t get blood from the hospital and I don’t know how to place IV’s. IV’s are tubes that go inside veins, oh kami, do you have veins.”

            Sesshomaru glanced back long enough to look at Kagome like she was an idiot.

            “Here see this?” Kagome held out her wrist, “see these blue things? These are veins. It’s how the blood circulates in our bodies. Great, when we go back I’ll bring you a book to read, it’s called Grey’s Anatomy, you can read right?”

            “This Sesshomaru is perfectly capable to read.”

            “This is modern Japanese though.”

            “You question my intelligence?”

            “Ok…ah!” They landed with a thud as Sesshomaru stumbled. It caused Kagome to land in a pile on top of her big black bag, “you haven’t recovered completely have you? That’s why you couldn’t break past my seal?”

            Sesshomaru ignored that comment as he walked into the room.

            Kagome hefted the heavy bag. Sesshomaru watched curiously as she put something strange onto her wrist that made a weird ticking sound. She took out another object that had two metal pieces and a floppy thing that she put in her ears. At the end was a white circular disk. “What are you doing?” Sesshomaru grabbed Kagome’s hand when she reached for Rin’s chest.

            “Do you really think I would hurt Rin?” Kagome smacked his hand away. “This is called a stethoscope, it lets you listen to your heart, here,” she took the two pieces off her ears and placed them over Sesshomaru’s ears. She put the white disk over her heart, “hear it?”

            Sesshomaru raised his hands to his ears, “yes.” His eyes glazed over in shock.

            Kagome took the stethoscope from him, “I’m going to measure her heartbeat. You can also hear someone’s breathing with this and the sounds of intestines.” Kagome put the stethoscope back on her own ears and listened to Rin’s heartbeat while watching the thing on her wrist. “I’m measuring a minute,” she told Sesshomaru, “and counting how many beats I hear…seems okay. It’s about 50 beats a minute, and she was in good shape before this.”

            Kagome took out another thing Sesshomaru had never seen before. She wrapped a strange material around Rin’s upper arm then pressed something that made the rectangle it was connected to light up, “what is that?”

            “A blood pressure cuff. It’s going to inflate around her arm and tell me the amount of blood pumping through her body. I have to give it back to Sota when we are done,” Kagome informed Sesshomaru, “that’s low too.”

            “What does it say?” There were strange digits he hadn’t seen on the screen before.”

            “79/45, it means it’s low. Sota is probably right. I have no idea how we would manage a transfusion here.”

            “Can she not go through the well?”

            “No, only Inuyasha and I, and Izayoi and my son Sota can go through whenever we want. Mayumi and Taisho, sometimes yes, sometimes no, which brings me to the next favor I need from you,” Kagome took the cuff on Rin’s arm and pulled out a red box. “I need to poke her finger to make it bleed.”

            “I’ll do it,” Sesshomaru took Rin’s hand.

            “Wait, I need to sterilize it first, this tests…well let’s just say there are different elements in blood and this one will tell me about one of the elements if it’s low then Sota will tell me how to fix it, I hope,” Kagome took out a small packet and removed something wet that smelled sharp and made Sesshomaru’s nose wrinkle. She took his hand and wiped the claw on his index finger then cleaned one of Rin’s fingers, “I just need a few drops.”

            Sesshomaru made a small gash in the tip of Rin’s finger. Kagome took the finger and wiped the first drops off before squeezing more blood out. Rin groaned in her sleep. Sesshomaru rubbed Rin’s cheek. She dropped the blood onto a clear slide then put the slide in the strange red plastic box, “that’s low too. It’s supposed to be over 12 or at least 11. It’s at 8.” Kagome packed up the items that her brother had sent her with. She had written down all the numbers onto her pad of paper. “There’s no way he can get me blood for her.”

            “Could my blood work?”

            “It’s probably too strong for her O-ni-sama, and I don’t know anything about mixing human and yokai blood. We could use mine if it was the same type, but we don’t know her type and I don’t know how to draw blood, let’s go.”

            “Does this mean she won’t recover?”

            “That’s what we are going back for, so I can ask my brother,” Kagome held the big bag. Sesshomaru wrapped his arm around Kagome’s waist and flew into the air again. His shoulders felt tight from the strain. This wasn’t good. His yoki was still recovering and the idiotic battle of wills he got into with the Miko also wasn’t helpful. He gripped Bakusaiga again for more strength.

            “Look, part of the favor I want to ask you is if you can watch Sota and Taisho for me, for a while, well…the better part of the next two years. I know it’s a big favor to ask,” Kagome yelled over the wind whipping past them, “I want to go back to my time and go to nursing school. It will give me more skills to help people here. Sota and Taisho don’t want to live in my time. It’s too hard for Sota. He doesn’t look like the other kids and Taisho isn’t interested. They want to learn more about their yoki. Once I get Mayumi through the well I can’t risk taking her back home. She’s going to go to school in my time and Izayoi is going to stay with my mom during the day. I just have to figure out how to pay for it. School is expensive in my time.”

            “This Sesshomaru will provide the fee, how much gold is it”

            “We don’t use gold in my time…but how much gold do you have?”

            Sesshomaru landed less than gracefully next to the well again, stumbling as he gripped the wood for support before he fell to his knees. He let out a frustrated growl. “Your children are welcome in my home, I have much gold in my storehouses, when we return you may take what you need.”

            “Thanks! I’ll be back,” Kagome jumped through the well with her backpack in tow. She came back after only a matter of minutes and tossed Sesshomaru a book, “Greys Anatomy, this is about human anatomy.”

            “Anatomy?”

            “Just read it until I come back okay?” Kagome plopped back down into the well.

            Sesshomaru flipped through the pages with extensive pictures of the human body. He had gutted and ripped the insides out of many humans and demons. He made a mental note the next time he did to examine their contents more closely. There were names for everything. He was fairly certain he had eaten a human liver before and found it not the best flavored thing in the world. He flipped through the book until he came across the female anatomy. Whoever drew the picture had obviously never seen Rin. She was much more beautiful even pregnant than the figure in the book.

            He touched the figure of the child in the womb cursing himself for leaving Rin and his children again. His heart yearned to be back home. Another page showed the gestation of the fetus in the mother’s womb. When the picture came to 16 weeks, he felt a tightness in his chest, that was how his child looked that lay limp in the bed next to Rin. If it had been a fully human gestation she would have been around the fourth month. Sesshomaru growled to himself. He felt tired. The sky was beginning to cast over in a golden glow. Yuki would wake up again and probably hate him for not being there, more than it already felt like she did. He was grateful that Harutoga seemed to not really be aware of what was going on, even when Rin’s memories were gone. It was obvious he missed his mother but the boy always had a quieter more easy going personality than his sister.

            Sesshomaru’s mind wandered to when Yuki was a baby. Rin would practically throw her at Sesshomaru the moment he landed, slam their door behind her and before he could even say hello, she would be fast asleep in bed. At night Yuki would caterwaul in her mother’s arms until Sesshomaru took her. Only then would she be calmed, which meant that Yuki only slept when Sesshomaru was home to hold her. Rin would spend however many nights with an agitated Yuki waiting for his return. I should never have left them for so long.

            He tapped his claws annoyed on the well, waiting for the Miko to make her return. By the time she did it was nearly nightfall again. “Okay, my brother said, she’s anemic, that means there isn’t enough iron in her blood and she probably lost more than her body can replace. We just spent forever at the medical school library trying to figure out how to treat her without modern medicine. Basically her blood volume is too low and we need to bring it up. The only thing he could get out of the hospital he is assigned to is saline, but I don’t really know how to place an IV,” Kagome sat on the well, “Sota tried to teach me but then his arms got sore.”

            Sesshomaru held his arm out, “if it will help her practice on my arm.”

            “I only have three needles to try with, although, you don’t get infections right?”

            “Infections?”

            “Have you ever been sick even?”

            “Never. That is something for hanyous and humans not Dai-yokai.” He gave her his arm, “these blue things are veins no?”

            “So you did read?”

            “Some,” he glanced at the book. He hadn’t closed it after setting it aside. It was still open to the pictures with growing babies.

            Kagome closed the book gently and set it aside, “I’m sorry. When we lost our baby, it was very hard for us. She was so beautiful. She had Inuyasha’s ears. We were attacked in the forest by yokai, I was trying to get the boys to safety when my foot got stuck on a tree root. I fell on my side and then I started bleeding.”

            Sesshomaru found it odd that he was actually interested in listening.

            “Rin ran to help me. She helped me get the boys home, then it just happened before I could get through the well. She caught the baby, told me it was a girl. We spent the next week crying together. It almost seems unfair. Rin was only thirteen at the time,” Kagome took out the IV kit. “Is this even going to be able to puncture your skin.”

            “It will now,” Sesshomaru adjusted the firmness of his skin, another skill he possessed.

            “Okay,” she took out an orange band and tied it around Sesshomaru’s upper arm, “we blamed ourselves for a long time.” She twisted Sesshomaru’s arm around until she saw one of his veins poke up through the skin, “you’re really okay with this?”

            He nodded.

            “I hope you don’t blame yourself. Inuyasha spent forever blaming himself, but then I got pregnant again. We haven’t forgotten her, the baby we lost, but it helped to move on.”

            Sesshomaru considered her words. It was probably easier for Kagome to get pregnant than it was for Rin. It would take time for both of them, to allow him to approach her in that way again. Sesshomaru felt a tickle on his skin. “Missed, I told you I’m not very good at this. I suppose if I don’t have to worry about you getting sick, then I can just use the same needle over and over, and you heal fast so I don’t have to worry about collapsing your veins. Okay.” Kagome went to work trying to figure out how to place an IV on Sesshomaru. Eventually the needle started bending to the side and nearly broke. She took out another kit leaving her only one to work on Rin with. She found another vein that was slightly bigger than the last and pushed the needle and catheter through, she pulled back the syringe, a flash of red filled the vial, “I did it!”

            “Do it again,” he pulled it out.

            Kagome focused and pushed the IV in and missed, “dammit,” she continued working on his arm until an hour later when she was finally able to hit the same vein many times. His arm looked as it always did pristine. His yoki fought against the needle threatening to break it and the skin healed as soon as the needle was removed. “Let’s go back now.”


            Sesshomaru could hear Yuki screaming before he even landed. Hisato had her around the shoulders while Akari was threatening her with a ball of fire and Inuyasha was standing nearby with claw marks on his face. Sesshomaru landed roughly again, he knew he wouldn’t be able to make another trip back to the well, not before he rested. “Yuki,” he looked at her. She immediately stopped fighting and ran to Sesshomaru. She buried her face in his side.

            “Stop leaving!” She screamed and attempted to punch him in the side.

            Sesshomaru knelt down, “come with me,” he picked Yuki up and carried her into their home. He sat down on the futon next to Rin as Kagome came in. He pulled Yuki into his lap. Harutoga bounded into the room and curled up against Sesshomaru’s other side. “Obasan needed to speak to her ototo to help ka-san.” Sesshomaru told Yuki, “I will not leave again.”

            “It’s your fault,” Yuki told him, her eyes splintered with red spiderwebs, “it’s your fault this happened to her, you weren’t here. She wasn’t strong enough.”

            “Do not talk about your Ka-san like that,” Sesshomaru corrected Yuki. Sesshomaru eyed Kagome as she tied the same strip around Rin’s arm. If he understood what the Miko said, Rin lost too much blood. He held one of his lover’s hands and rubbed her fingers in between his own, “Ka-san is very strong. Miko, what is said in this room, stays in this room.”

            Kagome looked up from her work on Rin’s arm, she nodded.

            “Yuki,” he cupped the face of the little girl on his lap, “do you think Chichiue doesn’t regret being here? I do, or that if I could go back a month or more and see that the Healer was paying too much attention, or that Ka-san was so unhappy? You are still a child. You didn’t see what happened right before you were born.”

            “I know, your other weird brother tried to kill me and Kasan, so you decided to make a home to keep us safe, but it’s not safe here.”

            “I can’t protect you from everyone. I learned that when Ka-san was a child. I left her in Obasan’s village and even though she was with warriors, there were times she was hurt. Attacked by yokai, attacked by thieves, thrown into a river where she almost drowned. I regret not being here, I regret leaving you so often, but I cannot go back and fix it,” it pained him to admit it. “Do you understand?”

            Yuki wiped her nose, “I think so,” she curled up on Sesshomaru’s chest, “will she ever wake up.”

            “That’s why I was gone with Obasan, to try to help Ka-san,” Sesshomaru patted Yuki’s shoulder.

            “I got it,” Kagome smiled, “the saline should help.” She opened the door to Yuki’s room and hung the bag on top of the door. “Sota said she would still be dizzy and that it would take a while for her to recover. He gave me these for when she does.” She handed Sesshomaru a bottle of strange objects that looked like beads, “they are iron pills. Try to get her to swallow three with water a day, if she can’t, grind them up and put them in juice or something. It’s the best we can do with the medicine that I can bring back.”

            Sesshomaru nodded. “Give him my thanks. Now leave.” He didn’t say that he wanted to be alone with Rin and his children. He gave Harutoga a pat on the head, “did you behave today Harutoga?”

            “I got in the kitchen and stole a cookie,” he smiled, “Akari said if I did it again she would make both my ears black.”

            Sesshomaru chuckled, “next time take two.”

            “Chichiue I don’t like when you are gone,” Harutoga told Sesshomaru, “it makes right here hurt.” The little boy touched his heart, “and it’s more fun when you are home.”

            “How long are you staying?” Yuki inquired.

            “Until the barrier is up again and I know that Ka-san has recovered,” Sesshomaru sighed, he might as well be honest, “and until I have recovered as well.”

            “You don’t look hurt,” Yuki looked him up and down.

            “Too much yoki,” Sesshomaru nudged her, “when I leave again Harutoga, Yuki you will come with me, and Ka-san. I will not leave you for longer again.”

            “Ka-san was sad a lot when you were gone. She cried at night, when she thought I was sleeping. She told the Healer she missed battle,” Yuki spoke quietly. “She said she was bored here, she felt useless.”

            Sesshomaru’s stomach tightened, his heart ached, why didn’t you tell me?  He stroked her hair, did you think I wouldn’t have found some way to make you feel useful again. My heart, why didn’t you tell me you were so unhappy?

Chapter Text

              Rin’s body felt heavy. A draft came in from the garden despite the warmth of the summer. She rubbed her eyes. When she opened them, it was like waking from a fog. She looked at the red and gold sheets that she was resting in and found comfort in the familiar softness of the bedding. The high walls seem to stare at her and the white flooring brought back warm memories of the last eight years she lived there. She had half expected him to be in bed next to her, but when her eyes opened, she was alone. Rin removed the toposheet covering her and retied her yukata. Her head began to spin the moment she moved, she felt light headed. She touched her head for a moment, using one hand to support herself as she sat up and waited for the spinning to stop. Once she felt like she wouldn’t throw up, she pushed herself to standing, and immediately regretted it. “Sesshomaru?” She called, hoping that he was nearby and his sensitive ears would hear her. She stumbled towards the wall of their bedroom and walked to the garden. Maybe he was out there, but then her mind rushed to her children. She couldn’t find both of them, she didn’t have the energy too. She decided that she would attempt to find Sesshomaru instead. Rin took a deep breath, “if only my head would stop spinning.”

            She stumbled forward to the garden. If he were anywhere it would be out there beneath the sakura tree, unless he had left once again, then she would be alone with the servants. Rin didn’t like that thought as she forced her feet to move along the cold stone floors. She walked out the archway that lead from their bedroom into the garden and found him asleep next to the children. She laughed inwardly. She knew he was actually sleeping this time because his chest was rising and falling evenly. Yuki was curled up against his back on the green bedding and next to Yuki was Harutoga who had one striped arm wrapped around his sister’s stomach. Rin leaned heavily on the pillars to support herself until the grass started. She took one big breath and mentally told herself not to collapse on the ground as she made her way to their sakura tree.

She managed to get halfway across the grass before her legs gave out. She decided to crawl the rest of the way over to Sesshomaru. Each length her arm stretched was agonizing. She thought she was swimming for the shaking of the room. She sat down by his chest and gently kissed his cheek. She didn’t want to wake him, but she couldn’t help but trace the stripes on his cheeks, and the moon on his forehead. It had been so long since she was able to look on his face and not feel her stomach twist in fear. The memories the Healer implanted haunted her while she was trapped behind what could only be a barrier that held her prisoner within her own body. When her finger came to his forehead, his eyes shot open. He sat up suddenly. He was bare from the waist up, his golden eyes stared into Rin’s. “Rin,” he took her hand in his, “do you know me?”

            Rin smiled, “Sesshomaru, my Sesshomaru, I know you,” she collapsed against his chest, her eyes brimmed with tears. Rin wiggled her hands through the space between his arms and sides, “how I missed you.” His skin carried the same warmth and comfort she remembered so well, “My love.” She closed her damp eyes and pulled him to her.

            His arms were slow to wrap around her. He stroked her hair, and then tilted her head back, “my heart, you know me?” He felt his chest heaving in anticipation, the eyes carried the same sparkle they once did.

            “Yes, my love,” she lifted herself up and kissed him fiercely. He returned the kiss pulling her as close to him as he could. Their tongues met in fiery passion. Rin tried to climb into his lap, Sesshomaru pushed her back and simply hugged her to his chest. “What’s wrong?” She tested his gaze with her own.

            Sesshomaru hung his forehead over Rin’s and closed his eyes. There was no fear in her scent, happiness, joy and exhaustion.

            If Rin didn’t know any better she would have thought she saw him nip his own lower lip for a second. “Rin,” he touched her cheek softly. “My Rin,” he held her hands in his, “you found your way back to this Sesshomaru.”

            She nodded her head and brushed her lips against his. He cupped her face in his hand and nuzzled her nose. There were tears in her eyes. She thought she saw his throat tremble. There was a deep yearning between the two as they sat under the sakura tree. He inhaled her scent. She leaned her neck into his nose. He caressed her fingers. She tasted his lips. It was as if they were discovering each other for the first time.

            “I feel so weak,” Rin let herself fully collapse in his embrace, “my head is spinning.”

            “Wait here,” he sat Rin up and stood. She held onto his fingers not wanting to release them. He felt the tension holding him back, “I’ll be only a moment.” He was wearing sky blue hikama. He walked into their bedroom. She heard his voice yelling something down the hall. When he returned he held a wooden water bottle. He sat down behind Rin and pulled her between his legs, “drink, you’ve been in and out of consciousness for the last two weeks.”

            “Two weeks? I think my head is spinning again. I’ve already lost so much time,” she reached out to gently touched Yuki’s forehead. “My sweet children.”

            “Akari will bring you something to eat. Closer,” he told Rin. He helped her scoot until she was flush against him. He rested his mouth on her shoulder, “my heart.”

            “My love,” she turned herself to get a better look at his face and captured his mouth once again, she ran her hands through his hair, and then brought them back up to rest on his chin, “Sesshomaru.” She closed her eyes against his chin.

            “What my Rin?” He turned his head to gently nip at the palm that held his chin and then opened his heated mouth to kiss it.

            “Sesshomaru, I’m…” she couldn’t finish.

             His lips immediately crushed into hers but when he pulled away his finger remained on her lips. He tapped them softly.

            “What is it?”

            He shook his head and closed his eyes. Sesshomaru pulled her into another tight embrace, her face against his shoulder, “there will be no baby this time, Rin.” His eyes cast over with faint sadness.

            “What?” Rin’s stomach simultaneously dropped into her feet and jumped into her throat.

            “That is why you slept for so long. The bleeding began after the Healer kicked your stomach. He had been giving you a rare herb that would make you miscarry.” He couldn’t stop touching her, stroking her hair, resting his crescent moon against her forehead, brushing her arms, and holding her.

            “I…I had a miscarriage?” She held on to his arms like they were the only thing keeping her upright. Tears welled in her eyes. “Sesshomaru?”

            “Yes,” his voice was so quiet she almost didn’t hear it. “I’ve been instructed by the women in the house that we must wait until the bleeding stops before we try again, before I can bring you into my bed,” he scoffed angrily. He could feel her tears running down his chest and creating a small waterfall when they dripped from the chiseled muscles of his stomach. “You won’t have to goad me into it this time. If you want another baby, I will give you one.”

            “I really wanted that baby,” she sobbed against his chest. “I…I was going to t…tell you when you returned. Sesshomaru,” Rin trembled, her throat felt tight, her cheeks heavy and her heart broken.

            He didn’t answer. He kissed the top of her head. Akari held a tray filled with rice, vegetables and meat by the door to their room. Sesshomaru motioned Akari into their private garden. She was dismissed with a wave of his hand as soon as the tray was set down. He kept Rin’s face hidden against his chest, stroking her hair and taking in her sorrow.

            They sat like that for a while. Sesshomaru holding Rin to his chest, and Rin clinging to him. “Why can’t the world just let us be happy?”

            The question took him by surprise, he knew why. Her association with him led to danger on a regular basis since she was a child. This was the first time they had suffered a major loss as a result of it. “Do you regret being with me?” He asked her softly. “Your life would be safer had I never gone to you that day after the snake demons lured you away. You could have found someone else and lived your life out in peace.”

            Rin shook her head and wiped her eyes, “but I love you, I don’t want to love someone else,” she pushed herself up so she could drink more water and stared at the food Akari brought. “Aren’t you sad?”

            Sesshomaru looked down on Rin, he touched her wet cheeks and pulled the tray of food closer to her, “do not confuse silence with indifference,” he handed her the ball of rice and chopsticks, “I mourned as it happened, and I feared for your survival. The blood was everywhere. I almost lost you,” his hands traced the contours of her face before his forehead was against hers again. “It’s my fault. I should have been here to protect you.”

            “It’s not your fault Sesshomaru,” the tears began again, “it’s no one’s fault. Hold me, please?” she wept into his chest.

            “My heart,” he slowly stroked her hair, clutching her to his chest. He closed his eyes and thanked whatever was in the air, that she had come back to him. He knew one day he would be the one raising their children alone but that day would have been too soon. Now, he just wanted to hold Rin close. “We will try again Rin,” he tilted her head back and kissed her plump lips. Her taste was the same as it always had been, “we will.”

Long sorrow filled moments passed before Rin picked up the ball of rice like it was a flea. “I was hungry.”

            “You’ve barely had nourishment in two weeks, eat,” he put the ball of rice by Rin’s mouth. “Eat,” he encouraged her. “You need to regain your strength.” Sesshomaru rubbed Rin’s back through her light yukata.

            She attempted to comply but the process was slow. The food tasted like cardboard and her stomach was still riled up with emotions. She had so many questions but what she really wanted was to sleep again, but not by herself. Akari had brought rice, sautéed chicken and steamed vegetables. The vegetables came from the community garden. They tasted fresh and enticing. Rin’s hand shook as she tried to feed herself. After spilling half the rice, she picked up with her chopsticks on the garden floor, she huffed and fell back against Sesshomaru closing her eyes. When she opened them, the chopsticks full of rice hovered close to her lips in clawed fingers. She traced the stripes on Sesshomaru’s hand with her fingers, “I knew these. I knew them. It was all I could force into my conscious. My desperate attempt to connect to you.”

            Sesshomaru nodded. Those moments where they sat in the garden and she held his hand gave him hope to sit out the weeks, her mind was swallowed by the serrow demon. Sesshomaru’s other hand wrapped around Rin’s shoulder and held one of her hands. Rin took a bite and watched as he reached down and gathered some of the vegetables. “Do you have to leave again soon?” Her eyes felt puffy, her cheeks were splotched in red.

            “I needed to leave two months ago. I couldn’t leave you as you were. I have sent word to my allies, but some of the border towns are growing weak, again.” He picked up some of the chicken to feed it to Rin, “I didn’t want someone else telling you about our child. I didn’t want you to mourn alone.”

            “The great Sesshomaru-sama, I wonder how many people know deep down you have a soft and loving heart. Closer, Sesshomaru, it’s been too long, I need to feel you.”

He moved until his chest was flush against her back He couldn’t move any closer even if he wanted to. He lowered the side of her Yukata enough to expose her shoulder and ran his lips along her skin. A low rumbling came from his throat. “Only for you,” then his eyes flicked over to Yuki and Harutoga. “And them. I’m sorry I didn’t say goodbye to you properly before I left last time.”

            “I’m sorry I was so difficult.” She breathed in his scent and tried to straighten her back. Their necks were entwined together.

            Sesshomaru picked up small pieces of the meat inside the bowl, waiting for Rin to take them into her mouth. “What the serrow demon said, is it true? Have you been so unhappy?”

            Rin clenched her jaw, tears stung the sides of her eyes, “I…” She stopped herself, “do we have to talk about this now?”

            “Hiding from it won’t make it go away,” he kissed the top of her head, “his words were true?”

            Rin lowered her head so she wouldn’t have to see Sesshomaru’s eyes, “yes,” she whispered.

            “Why didn’t you tell me?” Was that hurt she heard in those words?

            “’An empire takes time to build’,” she quoted him. The dam broke open and tears blazed from her eyes in a renewed fury, “I’m so foolish.”

            She felt his chest rise and fall, he pushed her from his skin and held her gaze. He took his time cleaning her face and rest his mouth against her forehead. “I’m not sure what to say, it will take time. Longer than the time I will have with you. I do not want our time together to be like this, Rin. No more fighting, no more angry words. I will find a way to spend more time with you and the children and maintain our borders.”

            “I should never have said anything to that bastard,” Rin clenched her fists.

            “He was a parasite. There are few of his kind left and what are left are mostly human-hybrids. The ones that are left, prey upon women who have born children to Dai-Yokai, to expand their dying breed. You were targeted because of me, not because of what you said. Those words should have been spoken to me and only me. You wound my pride by sharing your heart with someone else.”

            “I’m sorry,” it came out barely audible, “I’m so sorry.”

            “Shh, it’s over now. But you must eat. More rice?” He pulled the black glass bowl closer to them.

            Rin nodded her head trying to force herself up. She touched her stomach, “what did you do with it? Was it formed? It’s been over two months since we and hanyou children…” She trailed off. If it was a human pregnancy she would have been somewhere between three and four months.

            “Look by the hot springs,” he pointed at flowers Rin had not seen there before. The bright red Japanese camellia contrasted against the daisies that grew nearby. “What came out is buried there.” He felt her hand tighten around his. “It was formed, but small, like this,” he opened his hand measured from the bottom of his palm up to his first knuckle. “Not large enough to tell if it was male or female.” Instinctively he held Rin closer to him and ran his hands along her shoulders. “When you are healed,” he kissed her head once more, just above her ear, “we will be together once again.”

            Rin kissed Sesshomaru’s neck, another wave of mourning wanting to wash over her. “It’s been months since we have been together,” Rin felt weak and defeated. If she wasn’t leaning so heavily against Sesshomaru she would be on her face by now. “I guess we can wait a little longer.”

            “It’s been only weeks,” he caressed her cheek, “closer,” he tasted her mouth again.

            “The dream?” Rin was shocked, it was a fuzzy memory but it was there. She felt his fingers on her temples, and then his hands, his mouth and he filled her with himself. She wanted to wrap her arms around his waist in those moments and lose herself in the rocking of his hips against hers. Her body wouldn’t respond to her commands. Rin shook her head, “I can’t believe you did that. You really made love to me in my sleep?”

            “It’s a disgusting trick. It requires little demonic strength to lull a human into a trance. You were afraid to sleep. Afraid of me. I wanted to give you a good memory. He had been coming to your bed at night feeding you twisted memories of our time together without anyone knowing. I didn’t know at the time that my yoki was building within you or that you would surface long enough to tell me where to find answers. If you hadn’t, instead of being with you now, you would be long gone with the Healer.”

            “Maybe one night you would do it again.” A shy smile crossed her lips. “Closer,” she stopped eating long enough to kiss him. She sat with her side pressed against Sesshomaru’s chest. He pulled her Yukata down to expose more of her chest, his teeth grazed the skin just below her collar bone.

            “I enjoy it more when you are awake to participate, vegetables?” She knew that look in his eyes, he was hungry for her.

            “I think I’m full now, and tired.”

            “Come, laydown with me,” Sesshomaru pulled Rin back onto the bedding against his chest. She curled her back into his warmth and rest her head on his arm. Before she could reach down to grab his mokomoko he looped it under her head. Sesshomaru yawned. Rin almost laughed at the absurdity of Sesshomaru the great Dai-yokai yawning, “I am also tired. The guard is doubled tonight. We will be safe. I fear I drained myself somewhat when I forced my yoki into your body and gave a significant portion to the fox demon children. It took more energy than I thought it would. I haven’t slept this much since I was a child. I will not leave until the barrier is erected again and the village is safe. When I do you and the children will come with me.”

            “Really?”

            “Yes,” he pulled Rin tighter to him, “my Rin is battle hardened, she doesn’t need to be a lady in waiting. You will come, so will Hisato to keep you safe when I cannot and your maidservants.” I am not ready to let her out of my sight again.

            “Sesshomaru?”

            “Mmh?” He continued stroking her shoulder. It had been so long since they had slept like this, wrapped in each other, absorbing each other’s warmth.

            “Do you love me because of your bond to me? Or do you love me because I am me?”

            “I loved you before I bonded you. I’ve told you this before. Why do you ask again?”

            “I don’t know.”

            “That’s a lie.”

            “I know,” Rin sighed sadly, “sometimes it seemed as if you were happier away from us. And everything is still so jumbled in my mind. I feel like my memories are still coming back. It just seems strange to be tethered to each other like this, through something I can’t see or feel and know that it compels you.”

“Without the bond, your memories would have faded completely, even under his spell you knew me, you knew my hands, you knew my lips, you knew my heart,” he laced her fingers in his own and held them over the scar on his chest. “It connects my soul to yours. It’s how I knew you were still there beneath the spell and how I knew I could draw you back out. It doesn’t matter if it compels me to return to you. Didn’t you ever wonder as a child why I always came back?”

            “I thought it was because you loved me and wanted to give me presents,” Rin gave a short chortle, “Sometimes I wish I could feel it too,” Rin curled closer to him.

            “You do, when I am inside of you,” his hand ran beneath her navel, her breath caught, “when I share my warmth with you, the feeling of safety the feeling of home, that is our bond. Close your eyes,” He brushed his fingers along her stomach again. Sesshomaru let his yoki bleed comfort into their connection, “your heart still aches for our child.”

            “What is that?” Rin touched her heart, “I can…when did…you’re so sad,” Rin could feel the ache in his heart. “Will you ever cry with me?”

            “I do not cry,” Sesshomaru reminded her. “My heart is heavy. The last month tested me in ways I was not prepared for. I missed you. But I had to comfort our children and find a way to connect to the woman who didn’t know me, who sat in your body.”

            Rin looked up at Sesshomaru, and stroked the lines of the stripes on his cheeks. “my love. You didn’t give up on me.”

            “Never, my heart,” he kissed her lips and covered them both in a light sheet. “Sleep.” She knows me. Finally.  

            “Stay with me until I wake up?”

            “Yes,” he curled his body around hers. She responded, with her back to him and a soft kiss under chin. “Rin?”

            “Mmh?”

            “How am I to sleep while you are doing that?” There was a curious hand that had found its way through the material of his blue hakama, around his undergarments and wrapped around his most sensitive body part causing  his stomach muscles to tighten in eagerness.

            “Doing what?” Her voice was playful.

            “Mh…Rin, you are to heal first,” he couldn’t bring himself to remove the wandering hand from his quickly hardening loins. It had been months since she had touched him like that, and stirred his desire for her.

            “You said I slept for two weeks? The bleeding doesn’t last that long, oh,” she gasped. Now she had a hand wandering between the folds of her yukata towards her left breast slowly stroking the nipple with a crooked index finger. She turned her head for him to catch her in a kiss so deep she could barely breathe. “You know,” the hand was wandering again over her stomach, around her navel, back up her side to her other breast, and a mouth that felt like fire was breathing heavily against her neck where his tongue traced leisurely circles beneath her ear, and over her shoulder. “We’ve never tried it flying.”

            There was the deep throated laugh, she knew and loved against her neck, “is that what you’ve spent all this time thinking of?” He traced her nipple with the tips of his claws. Sesshomaru sniffed the air, “your heat is rising, you are making it hard to resist you.”

            She took the hand around her waist and lead it down to the opening of her yukata between her thighs, “it calls for you Sesshomaru.”

            “Shh,” he hissed against her pulse. “You’ll wake the children. Turn towards me, wrap your leg over my hip.” Her grin melted his heart and lit a fire in his chest. She turned over and lifted one muscular leg over his hip as he rose into the air. He flew to the starlit sky, rotating onto his back until she was against his chest, straddling his hips. He curled his knees up slightly to create a bough for her to sit in. Sesshomaru ogled her as she meticulously untied her yukata. It slid from her smooth shoulders down her waist to hang over his ankles swaying in the summer breeze.

            His breath caught audibly as she leaned forward to kiss him. His hands went to her nipples, twirling them in his fingers, while his mouth found Rin’s. He explored the fire of her tongue. Goosebumps formed over her shoulders. He pulled away long enough to take in her form. Her stomach was slightly softer now from months of not being used. Her breasts weren’t as firm as when she was younger, but they had fed his children and that alone made him feel more possessive and aroused by Rin. She scooted herself closer to his heat until it pressed into the crook of her thigh. He ran his hands down her neck, through her hair. He stroked the small of her back. He let his eyes wander and when they came to her face. Sesshomaru traced Rin’s lips with his finger. Her eyes were full of lust and glinted with the light he had missed so much. “Are you going to stare all night, my love?” Rin ran her nails down his stomach stopping just below his navel.

            He took her by the back of neck and pulled her into another intense kiss, pressing his bare skin against hers. “No, my heart,” he nipped at her neck, “I plan on taking my time enjoying you. You are beautiful, so beautiful.”

She laughed into his neck letting his mouth explore her body. He got as low as between her breasts before he growled, “Like this there are some places my mouth cannot reach.”

            “With hikama on there are some places my hands can’t reach,” Rin untied his obi, “remove them, now.”

            He rocked Rin onto his chest, holding her in one arm, he lowered his legs long enough to allow his hikama to float in the wind towards the ground, which included her yukata falling far below them. Rin lifted her hips up higher and wrapped her legs around Sesshomaru’s waist, “uh,” she moaned as she drew him in.

            “Indeed,” he lifted his legs again, creating the bough. He growled in pleasure as he slid deeper into her moistness. Sesshomaru panted hard against Rin’s neck. He hadn’t expected her to take him in so quickly. He ran his hands down the entire length of her smooth legs, down to her heels then back up over her hips, the curves of her stomach, over her breasts and around her willowy neck to pull her into another heated kiss, locking his lips against hers.

            She tightened her legs around him, “mmh,” she rocked forward, holding around his neck and watching his eyes. “This is kind of awkward-“

            Before she could finish her sentence, Sesshomaru twirled from under her until her back was against his chest. He pushed himself into her timidly, only somewhat fearful that he would cause her damage. He pushed her legs around his hips, and then rest his hands on her breasts, running the nipples through his fingers. He clamped down on her neck leaving small pin-pricks form his teeth. Sesshomaru’s other hand wandered between her legs, while she rocked forward against his hardness. “Oh that’s better,” Rin moaned.

            “Does it feel good?” He knew she was enjoying it. He could tell by the sounds she was making, the urgency in her voice, the way it pitched when she rose against his erection and gasped when she slid down it. He let his fingers find the center of her pleasure thumbing it in slow circles, until she was nearly howling. His body was tense, straining, muscles flexed as his own hips worked up and down against Rin’s.

            “Oh, my love,” she thrust herself forward bracing her hands on his knees, “more.” She felt her body coming alive with an intense electricity, it started deep within her core and vibrated up her abdomen into her stomach. As it built nearly to its breaking point, the lump in her throat returned. The tears flushed into her eyes. She gripped his knees, ceasing the movement of her hips afraid to move. Tears dripped from her hands onto his legs.

             Sesshomaru leaned forward. He wrapped his arms around Rin’s shoulders. He kissed her neck and whispered, “why do you stop? Allow yourself to finish.” He was breathless in her ear.

            Rin couldn’t speak, the words were lost. She could only shake her head sadly.

            “Tell me,” he urged her. He ran his hands along her legs, up her thighs, down to her knees again. His chest pressed against her back, his mouth inches from hers. “Tell me what stops you.”

            Rin clenched her eyes closed against his neck, “we lost our baby. How can I be doing this now?”

            He scooped her chin in his hand and slowly drank from her lips, taking care to explore the hollow of her mouth. “Comfort. You seek comfort from this Sesshomaru and I will give it to you,” he took her hips in his hands and pushed them along his own, adagio inside of her folds, that dripped with desire. Her muscles were clenched still on the verge of sending her over the edge with white hot passion. “Finish, my heart.” He tried to control his breathing as he was near bursting inside her.

            “I can’t,” she shook against him, “I can’t,” her hands covered her eyes.

            “Finish,” he reached down to her clit and traced quick circles until she leaned forward, “let me comfort you.”

              Her muscles tightened against him, her breath sped up.

             “Stop Sesshomaru, please,” she gasped. His movements against her were so pleasurable they were almost painful.

               He traced the lines on her neck with his tongue, he moved his hips again and moaned against her neck to encourage her. “My heart,” he pulled her back against his scar. He felt it warming when her shoulders touched it. He shuttered his eyes. He focused his yoki similar to how he had used it to bind her soul to his, “do you feel that,” he sped up his ministrations against her clit, “that is our bond,” he pushed himself inside of her and then slowly out, “do you feel it?”

                “Yes,” her hips tensed over his, “It’s so warm.” It felt like a tepid wave was spreading throughout her body, radiating from within him into her. She gripped the side of his hair, running her fingers up and down his chin.

              “Do you still want me to stop?” He was on edge, he was about to lose himself in her.

               “No, mmh,” the vibrations were so intense she could barely move her hips. She pulled her knees back widening her opening for him, exposing her hardening clit to his wandering finger. Her muscles clenched against him, ready to burst in passion. Her body flashed with heat, her back arched as he pushed himself deeper. She gripped his shoulders to steady herself as he finally pushed into ecstasy.

            He felt her pulsing, her skin was slick against his. Sesshomaru continued stimulating her orgasm until she was incoherent. He shivered within her. Rin collapsed weak in his arms. He leaned back to give her space to relax against his chest.

            Instead she curled into him, bringing her legs to drape over one side, “he killed our baby Sesshomaru.” She clung to his neck. “I feel like I can’t breathe,” Rin touched her heart, in the midst of the sorrow, she still felt the warmth she had when he drew attention to their bond.

            “Shhh, it…” his voice faltered, “it pains me too,” he wrapped her in his arms as they drifted in the wind. “Do you still feel it resonating between us? The warmth?”

            She nodded against him.

            “Let it comfort you, let it wash over you,” Sesshomaru stroked her hair.

He nuzzled her nose. He knew that she would need time to mourn, he knew that this was why she wanted to be with him in this way. He placed her hand over the tree-like scar on his chest, “my heart. Always my heart.” For a moment he felt like the rains would come, something wet was next to his eye again, I do not cry. Sesshomaru removed the offending mark of sadness from his face. His heart was broken next to hers. He wrapped them in his mokomoko and allowed the wind to slowly carry them home, together, back to their children, back to his kingdom.


            He woke early in the morning to Harutoga leaping on top of his shoulder. He pulled the little child off and sat up. Rin cried until there were no tears left the night before. She remained curled against him shaking until she drifted to sleep. If it wasn’t beneath him, he would have cried as well. By the time her tears stopped his bare chest and part of his mokomoko were soaked in her tears.

            His emotions were conflicted. At first he was upset she had goaded him into pairing with her in that way, but once he was sure she was pregnant, he wanted the child as much as she did. Seeing the tiny lifeless body that he failed to protect broke his spirit. He prided himself on being able to protect those around him. He felt like he failed Rin. He failed his family. And that did not sit well with him at all.

            When they finally landed last night, he retrieved new clothing from their room before curling up with the children outside. Sesshomaru was loathe to wake Rin from her slumber. He dressed her in a teal yukata himself. He took his place with his back to Yuki. Rin curled against Sesshomaru’s chest, while Harutoga slept against Yuki’s back.

            Sesshomaru tickled Harutoga’s stomach lightly making the child fill the morning air with laughter. Yuki woke up lazily. Her back had healed within the first week after the spell was broken. Sesshomaru had yet to be able to get her to speak about what happened in the grove. Both children spent their time worrying about their mother. He looked in front of him, the patch of bedding was empty. He sniffed the air. Her scent was off in the distance. “Go get dressed, Ka-san woke up last night,” Sesshomaru ruffled Yuki’s hair. She batted back against his hand. “Her memories are back.”

            “Chichiue?” Yuki pushed herself off the bedding. She stumbled next to him half asleep as he walked towards their home. “What is a miscarriage?”

            Sesshomaru’s stomach pitched. He had not explained that to the children either. Yuki was out for two days recovering. It didn’t feel appropriate to explain it to a five year old either. Atsuko and Akari returned for the tiny body of the baby they lost after Sesshomaru could no longer bare to look at it. They wrapped the tiny thing in a red silk cloth and buried it next to the hot springs as he asked them to. He asked Shippo to find the seeds to plant new flowers in the earth and use his magic to grow them. The fox child had retrieved the seeds from Nobuatsu. Sesshomaru wanted Rin to have a place to mourn their lost child.

            “Chichiue?” Yuki asked again, “what happened to Ka-san? What’s a miscarriage? I heard Akari and Atsuko talking about it, and Obasan with Ojisan. Our house smells like a mourners home.”

            He wasn’t going to get out of this. Harutoga ran up and clasped his hand, “you smell sad,” the little boy gripped his father’s fingers.

            Sesshomaru pursed his lips, “there was a baby inside your ka-san. It didn’t survive.”

            “Baby? She was going to have another baby? I was going to be a big sister again?” Yuki opened the door to her bedroom, “come on Haru,” she took her brother’s hand and pulled him towards his chest of clothing. She pulled out a bright blue Haori for Harutoga and green shorts, “put these on. Was it a brother or sister?” Yuki went back and shook Sesshomaru’s hand, “Chichiue, was it a girl or boy?”

            Golden eyes tracked to his eldest child. He was not ready for these questions, “it was too small to tell.”

            “What happened to it?” Yuki pulled on her father’s arm when he tried to walk away.

            “Yuki,” his voice grated, she needed answers. His heart felt heavy. He grunted, closed his eyes to calm the sorrow in his heart then turned to his daughter, “Chichiue had the baby buried by the hot springs where the new red flowers are.”

            “Did it hurt Ka-san like when she had Haru?”

            Oh he was really hoping Rin would be the one to answer these questions and not him, “no, Ka-san was asleep when the baby came out.”

            “Are you sad?” Yuki continued.

            “What does your nose tell you?” Sesshomaru went into the hallway. Hisato leaned against the wall with his arms folded. His face was like a stone, staring at one of the torches. It seemed the whole house was in a state of depression. Akari sat by the door to the room dozing against the wall. The fox demons left after the spell was broken. Akari now looked like her normal self. Fangs in her mouth, flaming red hair and eyes, short claws on her hands. Even she seemed saddened.

            “Rin left this morning Sesshomaru-sama. And before you decapitate me, she took Inuyasha and Kagome. Their children are still sleeping.” Hisato informed Sesshomaru.

             Once the dust settled Inuyasha and Kagome offered to stay in case Rin needed a woman to talk to as the Miko had put it. Miroku reported later that the barrier was ready to be erected again when Sesshomaru had the strength to participate.

             He returned to the children’s room. Yuki was dressed in a short kimono that reached her knees. It had yellow and orange patches reminding him of the one Rin ran around in as a child. “I’m sorry Chichiue,” Yuki hugged her father’s waist, “I’m sorry.” There were tears in her tiny eyes.

            Sesshomaru pat her back willing back the emptiness he felt in his chest, “go to breakfast. Akari is in the hallway. Wake her and when you are done, come find me.”

           “Where are you going?” Harutoga hugged his father. The child seemed completely unphased by what he was just told, unknowing and uninterested. A typical five year old.

            “The grove,” Sesshomaru left their room. Her scent was coming from that direction. It didn’t take much for him to know that is where she was. Maybe now he would finally know what the hell happened out there.


              Rin sat on the large boulder in the middle of the grove tracing the scrapes that were made by Yuki’s toe claws. The residue from the green powder was still there masking Yuki’s scent. She looked at the high trees, those looked familiar. The burn marks on the bases of the trunks also looked familiar. The fallen sapling she recalled having a moment of guilt when her whip snaked around the base and uprooted it. The guilt was short lived, when her back flamed in pain from being ripped open. She blinked her eyes willing back tears, so much to process. She had a lost a month of her life, a month with her children, and a month with Sesshomaru who was gone so often, their time together was more precious than any jewel that existed. And the child that she was so excited to tell her love about. She shivered thinking about the black shadow. She felt it’s aura before it shaped into the Healer. If she had reacted sooner he wouldn’t have gotten the upper hand.

            Before she could recall more, she overheard Inuyasha and Kagome talking, “she called my mother a liability where do you think Yuki learned that from?” Inuyasha had his arms  folded into his fire-rat haori.

            “They were going through a rough time she missed her mother. Just let it go,” Kagome’s voice was low and scolding.

             “I’m not letting it go. What is my bastard of a half-brother telling his children about my mother? I didn’t even know my father. He has to say things like that about my mother?”

              “Who said what?” Rin stood wobblily.

               “Yuki told Inuyasha that her blood was purer than his because his mother could fight and hers was a liability,” Kagome made an eek mouth.

               Rin rolled her eyes, “Sesshomaru still blames her for his father’s death. I’m sorry…I can take one big guess where that came from. I’ll talk to her, and him.” Rin felt annoyed and hurt. She swooned for a moment holding her head. Kagome caught her by the arm, “maybe I should stay seated.”

            “I’m going to kill him,” Inuyasha thumbed Tetsusaiga, “after all we’ve done to help him.” Inuyasha smelled the air, “he’s coming.”

            Rin’s voice became almost inaudible, “can he hear me from this distance?”

            “We have time why?” Inuyasha answered just as quietly.

            “Stay on his right side. He still favors it, force him to have to compensate with his left side. There are days I swear he forgets he has a left arm,” Rin giggled. She touched the hilt of her own sword. It felt good to wear it again.

            “Please don’t encourage them,” Kagome stomped her foot, “really it’s fine. I’m sure Yuki was just suffering from guilt. The Healer blocked her and Harutoga’s memories of that day, Yuki felt guilty she was probably just lashing out.”

             “It’s not ok, you two always come to help us,” Rin said much louder, “some people,” and there he was walking amongst the high magnolias and pisceas, “should learn to have some respect and kindness for people who help them.” Rin folded her arms, glaring at Sesshomaru, “what the hell have you been saying about Inuyasha’s mother to our children?”

              Sesshomaru didn’t answer.

              “And don’t you dare try to pull me somewhere priv-“ it was too late. She was off the ground and they were hidden amongst the leaves of one of the magnolia trees. His eyes were boring into her. “Don’t you even!” She poked him in the chest, “what have you been telling them? Yuki said his mother was a liability! Are you still so angry about-“ her mouth was covered in his. Rin shoved him off by the chest.

             “At least someone can talk to him like that without dying,” Inuyasha chuckled from below.

              Sesshomaru pulled her into a forceful embrace until she was pressed so tightly against his chest she could barely breathe. “What?” She asked him.

             He rest his forehead against hers, “kiss me,” he cupped her chin in his hand. His lips dipped into hers, tight, close, tongues licking across lips, warm mouths colliding bathing in heat.

           “What’s wrong?” Rin touched his cheeks gingerly. She touched his chest over the scar on his heart, “we promised remember? Both of us, to speak our hearts, no more holding back.”

             Sesshomaru took an exhaustive breath, “you were not there when I woke up. You worried me.” He took in Rin’s mouth, kissing her until he had his fill, “Yuki had questions about the baby…they were unsettling to answer.”

             “I’m sorry, are you okay?”

             Sesshomaru nodded. “Did you waste your energy to walk here?”

             “No, Inuyasha carried me. I wanted to come here and piece together my memory of what happened. I knew you needed to rest. I didn’t want to disturb you,” she hugged Sesshomaru around the chest. His arms had not left her sides. “What did you tell Yuki?”

            “Perhaps I didn’t use the best words,” Sesshomaru countered her.

            “Uh-huh…something along the lines of her blood is purer because your lover is heartier than his mother’s was? He never even knew your father. Why do you have to be so cruel? I’m sure his mother was very brave. She would have to be to raise a hanyou and Yuki doesn’t even know how cruel the world is to children like her because of what we created together!” Rin grabbed Sesshomaru by the tip of one of his ear and yanked on it, “you better apologize.” She grabbed him by the chin, “I mean it Sesshomaru, it’s cruel. You have to stop hating him, which you really don’t. It wasn’t his fault your father died. Your father made a choice to go to her despite his injuries. Your father knew he was dying, you said it yourself. Let it go and make peace with your brother. Of all the allies we have won over Inuyasha is the most powerful and the most loyal to both of us! You and I both know above anyone else that we have taken into our circle we can trust him with our lives and the lives of our children and he is our family. He is all you have left of your father. And I mean a real apology not one where you try to hurt him afterwards.”

            Sesshomaru ground his teeth at Rin. “You ask too much.”

            Rin pointed an angry finger at Sesshomaru, “a real apology, how do you not see what you taught your daughter was wrong? There is no difference between Yuki, Harutoga and Inuyasha.”

            “You are stronger!” Sesshomaru barked back, “you didn’t sit there and let Touma and his goons kill you while you brought our child into the world.”

            “Because of you and them! Sesshomaru! How many eight year old girls are taken in by a dai-yokai and trained to fight by a dai-yokai, hanyou, slayer and a Miko?” Rin kicked his shin, “stop being an ass. Whoa,” Rin’s head swam, the world turned upside down for a moment. Sesshomaru caught Rin by the elbows.

            Sesshomaru picked Rin up bridal style. He leapt down from the tree. He supported her weight until she found a comfortable spot to sit down on the forest floor, clear of pine nettles. Rin pulled Sesshomaru’s face to her own and pecked his lips. Inuyasha eyed his brother with fury in his eyes, his arms were still folded into his haori.

            Sesshomaru stalked over to his brother. He held out a begrudging, striped hand to Inuyasha who looked like he would puke from shock. “If I have not said it before, thank you for your help.”

            Rin cast dagger looks at Sesshomaru. Inuyasha passively took his brother’s hand.

            “Father cared about you and your mother more than his own life. You have been a worthy ally,” Sesshomaru shook Inuyasha’s hand, “perhaps it’s time I let go of my anger ototo (little brother). I will speak to Yuki about her insolence.”

            Inuyasha was dumbfounded. His eyes were wide in shock. It wasn’t an apology but it was the first time that Sesshomaru had ever acknowledged Inuyasha as his brother without making comments about him being only half. “Origato, Ni-san.”

            “When Rin has regained her strength, we will visit father’s grave together,” Sesshomaru added.

            “Ka-san!” Yuki broke through the forest, she was followed by a much taller Sota with Harutoga on his back, and Taisho. Mayumi was on Izayoi’s back.

            Sota set Harutoga down. The little five year old rushed towards his mother and tackled her. Rin fell over with the weight of Harutoga and Yuki on top of her. “I missed you two!” Rin embraced her children. Her eyes filled with tears, their eyes followed and soon they were one mess of flowing waters, cries and happiness.

            Sesshomaru’s face twitched into a half grin watching them reunited. He was about to sit down with them when he felt another tiny hand in his, “O-ji-sama, can you help me find it?”

            He looked down at little Mayumi with black hair, no claws, brown eyes and for all he knew, she could be completely human. He regarded her for a moment and knelt down.

            “Give me your hands,” he took her tiny cream colored hands in his own. He inspected the tops, then the palms. He sniffed each finger. Sesshomaru frowned slightly.

            “I can’t do anything,” Mayumi complained, “Taisho said you helped him find dokkasu do I have yoki?”

            “I think it is up to your Chichiue to teach you,” He stood up, “you just need a little help.” Sesshomaru dug his claws into his arm, “give me your hand,” he took both of her hands and dipped them into the blood on his arm, “now ask your father how he creates blades of blood. In time you should be able to mimic his Sankan tesou as well. For now use my blood, O-ji-sama has strong blood.” Sesshomaru flicked his eyebrows up. He pat Mayumi on the head hiding suppressing a grin from his lips.

            Mayumi looked at her father, her fingers dripped in Sesshomaru’s blood, “how do I do it?”

            Inuyasha looked at Sesshomaru then back at his daughter.

            Sesshomaru returned to Rin. He sat down next to her and pulled Yuki into his lap. He leaned over to her and whispered in her ear, “any mother that raises a hanyou is not a liability. I did not teach you the proper respect for your uncle, go now and apologize.” Yuki rolled her eyes angrily, stood up and went over to Inuyasha.

            Harutoga sat in Rin’s lap, “I fought the shadow man too Ka-san. I got his leg with my whip but then he hit me in the head. I saw him drawing something on your head. I saw the symbol. Bukoseno told us what it was.”

            “My little warrior,” Rin ruffled Harutoga’s hair, “it was scary wasn’t it?”

            “How much do you remember?” Sesshomaru wrapped a freehand around Rin’s waist. Sesshomaru casually raised his sleeve and blocked bloody blades coming at his face. Mayumi laughed hysterically.

            “I did it O-ji-sama! I did it! I can feel my yoki!” She threw some at Sota next. Sota jumped out of the way and threw his own white blades back at his sister. Inuyasha smacked them down and gave them both a stern glare.

            “All of it,” Rin squeezed Sesshomaru’s hand. It seemed that everyone was listening now. Rin was surrounded by her four nieces and nephews. Inuyasha and Kagome sat around their children. “I had Hisato go to the village. I asked Hideyoshi to go back to the village and get the children. We were running out of the garden towards the exit where the boats were. Yuki tripped on the rock over there,” she pointed to a crop of trees, “and dropped Haru. I turned back to them and then something slashed my back. The Healer was in the clearing. I asked what he was doing when his skills would be needed in the village. He didn’t answer. My blood poured from the wound. He leapt at the children, I tried to fight him. I know I hit him at least once, but he deflected my blows. I struck out several more times, my vision was getting blurry and then I collapsed.” She felt a clawed hand on her own gripping it tightly, “it’s okay my love, I’m not traumatized by that. I lost that fight.”

            “Then I jumped on him. I stabbed him in the back with my claws. I missed his neck. My poison isn’t as strong as yours Chichiue,” Yuki said, “but he grabbed me by the arms and threw me into the air. I flipped, like you taught me to catch myself, and landed on the rock. My toe claws kept me from sliding too far.”

            “I hit him with my whip,” Harutoga flicked his wrist for emphasis and a longer three foot whip shot out from his hand. If it hadn’t been for Sesshomaru catching it in his hand it would have hit Rin in the face. “Ooops.”

            “I attacked again, but he used his sheath and hit me in the head, everything went dark, the next thing I remember is waking up next to the river in different clothes and my bracelet missing. My favorite one, the silk one, it’s ruined now,” she hung her head.

            Sesshomaru reached into his pocket, he pulled out an emerald green silk bracelet and silently wrapped around Yuki’s wrists. Her wrists were always littered with bracelets. She had at least five or more on each hand and several anklets. Yuki smiled at her father.

            “After he threw me, I hid in the bushes, he drew something on Ka-san’s head. He saw me watching. I tried to run away, but he caught me, hit my head until I fell asleep.” Harutoga added. “I was going to get Hisato.”

            “What a bastard,” Sota cracked his claws, “too bad we weren’t all here, just think the six of us against him, he would have been in bad shape.”

            “My poison is probably not as strong as yours is Yuki, but if we both went after him he would have been toast, right oyaji?” Taisho looked at his father.

            Rin snorted along with the rest of the adults, minus Sesshomaru. Sesshomaru had an almost painful grip on Rin’s hand. “I think Chichiue and I need a minute alone, Kagome, Inuyasha would you mind to take the children back to the house. I asked Jaken to bring melons from the patch this morning. Why don’t you all go and have Atsuko cut into them. We’ll come soon, I promise.”

            Yuki was hesitant to go. Rin took her daughter’s hand and kissed it, “I’m back Yuki, it’s okay and Chichiue will be with me, go on. We will come soon.”

            The children along with Kagome and Inuyasha hiked back to the house while Sesshomaru scooted closer to Rin. He pulled her to his chest, he sniffed the dip in her neck. He reached out with his sensitive ears until he was sure they were out of earshot of everyone. “I’m sorry I was not here to protect you.”

            “It’s not your fault Sesshomaru,” Rin rest her head against his neck. “Please don’t blame yourself.” She held his hands in her own.

            “He brought the barrier down as a distraction.” His chest was tight, there was a lump in his throat.

            “It’s not your fault,” she repeated.

            “He knew how strong you were and that you would send your guard to the village to protect the others. He also knew I would be away,” Sesshomaru pulled Rin closer to him until there was no space. His hands felt unsteady.

            “It’s not your fault,” she whispered. Any louder and her voice would break.

             “We have fought battles before, we have never lost a part of our family,” there they were again the droplets under his eyes. “I should have seen him paying too much attention to you. I should have found that bracelet first.”

            “It’s not your fault, my love,” she wiped the tears from his eyes, “it’s not your fault.”

            “My heart forgive me. I failed you,” he buried his eyes in her neck. He had never cried before. His tears fled steadily from his amber eyes. The moisture felt foreign and wrong. Dai-yokai do not cry, he told himself over and over. Unless they lose a child and almost lose their soulmates.

            Rin returned his embrace. She stroked his long silver hair away from his face. She cradled his chin, she felt his breath against her neck. Together they sat in the grove holding each other. Rin tears mingled with Sesshomaru’s creating a puddle in their laps and small streams down their fingers. “You didn’t fail me. You found me,” Rin pulled his green haori open. She set her hand against the scar on his chest, “let it resonate between us again.” Rin sighed as soon as the yoki touched her soul, she imagined her own energy going into Sesshomaru, mingling with his soul. “I love you.” The kiss was a kiss of mourning and pain shared between two lovers.

            “And I you.”


            “What happened?” Touma asked the yokai standing before him. The barrier was up again. It was like a white globe covering the village.

            “You failed, again,” the sentinel said hotly, “you should just allow me to kill her myself.”

            “What was it? What did I miss?” Touma wondered, pacing back and forth swinging his halberd from hand to hand.

            “Their bond…it was too strong. They are too closely connected for this kind of attack,” the sentinel was getting dizzy watching the dog-demon go back and forth.

            “Too strong?” He cackled, “then I will find a way to break it.”

            “Only death or great heart ache. You are not strong enough to kill him,” the sentinel laughed at the one-eyed demon.

            “Then that leaves heart-ache,” a slow malevolent smile creased his features. “Did she miscarry in the end?”

            “Yes.”

            “Oh I killed his child?” He almost let his features fall, “at least I got something out of this venture. Hisato…my most loyal servant. Until next time…”

The End

Coming soon…Instinct