“You’re not Lord Sesshomaru.....”
“No, I am not” answered a matured voice. From the voice and tone, Rin was able to deduce, its (i.e. voice’s) possessor was authoritative but not dominating.
“You look a lot like him, sir….” Perhaps, demons of the same clan have strong resemblance to each other…. Rin mused and went on, “I’m sorry for having mistaken you….. I thought you were someone….. someone I’m acquainted with” Rin said a bit sadly, which was noted well by the male in front of her.
“What is your name, girl?” asked inu father as his golden eyes examined Rin.
“Rin….. And may I know yours….?”
“…….Inu No Taisho” It was Inu No Taisho, who had his hair let loose at that time, and not having it in the usual pony tail.
“Oh! That….. sounds like the name of the Landlord of West” Rin said, which was more like a question.
“….. I am also a dog demon, which you have already noticed…. We have same names often…..” Well that was true, though. Besides, he neither agreed nor disagreed to her point. He only stated facts like he’s also a dog demon and they often have same names. In effect Inu No Taisho didn’t reveal his true identity to her.
“…..I am also associated with the family of the Lord of Western Lands” Because I AM the Lord, thus I am associated with the family. In effect he didn’t lie to her. He has only been ‘hiding’ truths from her (*AUTHOR’S WINK*)
“Really?!....... So you must have known Lord Sesshomaru” Rin said a statement of a question, trying hard to hide the hope that flowed across her eyes, face and voice, but in vain.
Inu father smirked, “Yes” Because he is my son….
“………May I know….how he is?” Rin asked. Inu father managed to notice her blush in the darkness.
“…………” Inu father let his silence kill her for a while.
“It’s been a while since we met…. Just thought of asking…. Sorry….” Rin said sullenly as her head dropped.
Inu father’s smirk only got wider, “He is well…..”
“………” Rin slowly nodded, her gaze fixed on the ground. He left me for good…. So he must be ‘well’….. Rin thought bitterly.
Rin’s eyes automatically sought the golden eyes of the Inu father, through her bangs.
“…..he DOES seem crestfallen for weeks….. for some reason….” Which is you…
Rin’s eyes widened as hope filled them.
“……for about two moon cycles, perhaps……” Inu father said as if he was trying to assess the period (A/N: i.e two months or so for which Sesshomaru has been ‘crestfallen’).
“Eh!.....Uh….What might have upset him, I wonder….?” Rin said trying to control her blushing.
“You tell me”
“HUH!?” Rin was alarmed; her cheeks burnt.
“You are an adolescent like him. You tell me” Inu father tactfully twisted the conversation.
“Oh that!…. I’m afraid I have no idea….” Rin said which was partly true.
“Adolescents can be unpredictable; cannot tell what they think and do” albeit I hardly had such difficulties with them….
“………..” Rin’s gaze fell on the ground again. She wanted to know more about Sesshomaru but how is she to ask without seeming to pry?
“……speaking of which…..”
Rin faced Inu father.
“….You seem distressed yourself…..”
“…….” Rin was not surprised that he figured it out, because her face had already betrayed her sadness. But she chose to lie wearing her bright but fake smile, “I’m great! *NERVOUS CHUCKLES* Don’t worry about it” she said as she waved her right hand with more *NERVOUS CHUCKLES*
Inu father’s cold silence, hard face and steady stare told Rin that he didn’t buy her lie.
Rin let out a sigh of defeat and said in a low tone, “Yes, I’m sort of…. down….”
“But I’ll get better soon….” She said forcing out her fake bright smile again.
“………” Rin didn’t know the answer to the question. She turned her back to him; head dropped; shoulders drooped; eyes dull; lips uttered truthfully, “I don’t know….”
Inu father advanced and stood beside her; his eyes were focused on vacuum, like how Sesshomaru’s eyes are often. “You have a dilemma…. But you are only running away from it…..”
Rin slightly turned her head to see his face.
“Unless you have the courage to face it, it will remain and keep haunting you….”
Rin turned her head fully to get a better view of him.
“To get something your heart desires, you must sacrifice something else…..”
“Whether that ‘something’ is worth the sacrifice, is for you to decide”
How true….. Rin mused. “……But how? I mean….I feel as if, I’m being held back from progressing”
“Lady Rin!” Rin turned around to find her servants approaching her from afar. They began to worry about her, as she was taking longer time than usual. So they themselves came to check her out.
“Drop all your inhibitions…. Then nothing can hold you back” said Inu father without facing her, as he was walking away in the opposite direction.
“Hey! Please wait, Master Inu No Taisho!..….” Rin didn’t want the conversation to end so abruptly.
Inu father halted, turned his head to the side, glimpsing Rin from the corner of his eyes, “Remember…. Life doesn’t always give you a second chance…..” with that he turned and proceeded into the darkness leaving the dumbstruck Rin behind.
Inu No Taisho could have had this conversation with his son instead. But he had his reasons why he had sought Rin. Firstly, it was a conversation connected to emotions, something which his son was worst at, while his prospective daughter-in-law was best at. Secondly, Sesshomaru would never let the conversation go this far or deep as how Rin let it. He is not open-minded as Rin. Thirdly, he could not wait to meet the girl who has the potential to change his son. He also wanted to know how she normally speaks, acts and behaves; that was why he never revealed his true identity to her.
Also, he could have told Rin straight away that Sesshomaru was in love with her. That could have provided Rin the necessary motivation to pursue Sesshomaru. But he decided otherwise. He wanted to test the depth and steadfastness of her love for Sesshomaru. He only gave her basic inputs to ward off her confusion. It is like telling a sparrow where it can find food, rather than throwing the food into its nest. Now it is up to the sparrow to take the initiative and fend for itself.
Two weeks passed by. It was noon when a servant entered Sesshomaru’s quarters. Inu No Taisho screened himself at a concealed corner in the Common Hall.
Servant informed Sesshomaru, “Lord Sesshomaru. There are guests who have come to meet y-”
“Escort them to the Common hall. I shall ready the scrolls in the mean time” Sesshomaru interrupted impatiently.
“….Er…” The servant hesitated at the command, but finally gave in out of fear, “Y-yes, Milord”. Then he dismissed himself.
They are a day earlier than planned…. I wonder what necessitated the reschedule…. Sesshomaru pondered as he gathered the scrolls and headed to the Common Hall.
As Sesshomaru reached the destination, he abruptly stopped in his tracks; eyes widened; for an unguarded moment his face expressed shock; then he quickly composed himself and wore the stoic mask; but those who are close to him, would notice that his facial features minutely softened. Rin……
Then his eyes flew to her companion which caused his face to harden; lips held in firm thin line; chest was stung by an emotion, popularly termed as ‘envy’. And Kohaku….
Inu father was enjoying the scene from his hiding place.
Rin and Kohaku bowed before him and said in tandem, “Lord Sesshomaru”. Rin smiled her usual warm smile at Sesshomaru. Kohaku was not smiling, although his wore a casual expression.
Sesshomaru was not thrilled at the friends’ harmony in their gestures and greetings (i.e. they bowed and greeted in unison). He could not stand having Rin standing by the side of another male, as though they are a couple.
“……Welcome” Sesshomaru finally greeted his guests in his usual monotone.
All took their seats.
“Have you….come for me…?” Sesshomaru couldn’t help asking the question having a very obvious answer.
“I know nobody else here, Lord Sesshomaru” Rin gave an indirect reply.
Sesshomaru nodded dumbly. Why did he even ask the stupid question?
Rin knew she is in the position to speak, so she began as she held out some parchments to Sesshomaru, “These are the reports summarizing the outcomes of your previous designs for the mission. I must say, they have resulted marvelously. Many complicated demon-human issues and disputes have been resolved. Permanent solutions were structured. The demons and humans seem satisfied with all these developments….. Also the demon-human disputes have come down like never before, over the past few weeks”
“………..” Sesshomaru eyes studied the parchments while his ears listened to Rin.
“The purposes of our visit are to report to you in person about the developments and also to receive your plans and orders for Phase II of the Mission. We will be marking the agreement on behalf of my father”
“………” Sesshomaru should have at least nodded but he purposely refrained. He was pissed off with her innocent usage of pronouns like ‘our’, ‘we’, etc., denoting the union between Rin and Kohaku. Sesshomaru avoided meeting her face the whole time.
“……although there is one other purpose as well….” Rin said boldly, keeping her face as normal as always.
Sesshomaru’s eyes instantly ran to Rin’s. For some unknown reason, the dog demon’s heart skipped a beat.
Inu father smirked. Good girl…..
In the afternoon, Rin and Kohaku were supplied meals in the special hall for guests. Kohaku glanced at his friend worriedly but Sesshomaru’s absence did not seem to deter the relentless Rin. Right after lunch, they were escorted to Sesshomaru’s study.
Sesshomaru, Rin and Kohaku discussed the terms of his next action plan for Phase II. Sesshomaru and Rin were obviously the active participants, as only they were into the mission from the start. Kohaku is not even a performer, if not a planner, as far as the mission was concerned; he was only a representative of Kenji.
Why did they send HIM?.... of all other delegates of Kenji….. Sesshomaru was really annoyed. Not because he was the representative of Kenji for the mission; but because of his close companionship with Rin.
The discussion went up till evening. The agreement was executed by both parties.
“You did great, Rin!” was Kohaku’s compliment for her involvement in the meeting which just ended as well as in the mission as a whole.
Minutes after the dissolution of the assembly (i.e. assembly of Kohaku, Rin and Sesshomaru), the impatient and restless dog demon left his study to seek Rin. He halted the moment he saw the friends smiling warmly at each other, while the boy’s hand was on the girl’s shoulder. Jaws tightened; fists clenched; facials muscles stiffened.
The envy that was blazing inside of him oozed through his sharp claws as poison and melted the parchment his hand was crushing. That parchment was supposedly a diplomatic excuse Sesshomaru had originally organized in order to initiate a conversation with Rin.
The next day came. Sesshomaru, who failed the hundredth time in focusing on his training, finally gave in and returned to the palace, in order to check on the well-being of his ‘guest’ (i.e. only Rin and not Kohaku). He did hear familiar voices chatting in the corridor as he was on his way.
“Say, Master Jaken…. Why does Lord Sesshomaru undergo such rigorous training?” Rin asked.
Jaken’s chest puffed up; his head held high; eyes shut with haughtiness; left hand held behind his back; with his right hand’s forefinger pointing upwards, he began “It is obvious that he does, because he is the heir of Lord Inu No Taisho….. Lord Inu No Taisho is the most powerful landlord who has ever ruled the western lands; He is even more powerful than those landlords of north, south and east; owing to his intellect, strength, power and supremacy, all other lords bow to him in reverence and respect. Of course, you must have heard of the same from your father…. Lord Sesshomaru desires to surpass his father; so he studies scrupulously and endures severe training as he is to succeed his father’s position eventually!”
“OH!.... WOW!....” Rin dragged in a dreamy tone. Jaken could have bet on that he saw stars sparkling in Rin’s eyes.
Sesshomaru wished Jaken to end his ranting with Rin very badly, as he was getting embarrassed in front of Rin.
“Not only that, he worships battling; he looks forward to every opportunity to practice for the same…. Speaking of which….” The heavy-headed Jaken was beginning to spill out embarrassing truths, “…..if he is in a sore mood, the first place to look for him is the training quarters *hoo-hoo-hoo* (A/N: Jaken is laughing)”
Rin joined Jaken with her own ringles at toad servant’s depiction of Sesshomaru’s moods and actions.
Rin and Jaken turned to the source of the sound of loud footstep to find an intimidating Sesshomaru shooting death glare at the toad.
“Lord Sesshomaru!” “L-L-Lord Sesshomaru!” Rin and Jaken exclaimed in unison.
Rin faked the bold smile while Jaken trembled at the scorching glare.
Sesshomaru advanced towards Jaken to break his head. Jaken shut his eyes and flinched, preparing himself for the blow. Instead of hearing his skull cracking, he only heard Rin’s gasp.
Jaken opened his eyes only to find Rin’s back to him, leaning backward and Sesshomaru holding Rin’s shoulders, leaning forward. Both wearing a shocked expression.
It took a moment for Jaken to realize that Rin had actually shielded Jaken from Sesshomaru’s blow; she was tripped from the sudden movement and Sesshomaru held her from falling. Jaken was baffled. Till then, he had never met one who was willing to defend him and receive his thrashing in his stead, and that too, with so much spontaneity. Jaken was indeed touched at Rin’s noble gesture and was inwardly grateful to her.
Right after Rin regained her balance, Sesshomaru let go of his hold on her and turned around, not facing her.
Ever since his blunder that midnight, Sesshomaru didn’t dare to touch Rin in reality, although his dreams had the opposite scenario. He was…..afraid…. He may end up hurting her or causing trouble to her already troubled life.
Rin did look a bit hurt at his quick withdrawal from her. Jaken wanted the couple to reconcile somehow. The only thing he could do at the moment, was giving them some privacy. He quickly bowed, took his leave and left in an instant.
Awkward silence.Rin recovered from the momentary depression and said with a bright smile, “Master Jaken told me that your palace has the best garden, Lord Sesshomaru. Will you escort me to it?”