It's Not a Servant's Place

Author's Notes: Sesshoumaru's oft-ignored servant ponders on the whimsy of his lord and a certain little girl. There are no pairings in this fic. NONE AT ALL. Excuse me for being emphatic.^_^;
I gotta say, this revival of IY obsession came as a total surprise, but I'm rather glad it did. Finishing up this old story and saving it from a state of fermentation on my HD was a huge reminder of how much this guardian/ward, sort-of-father/sort-of-daughter relationship fascinates me.^_^ To think, all that was needed to ruin Sesshoumaru's public image was a gap-toothed smile. Heh. No wonder Jaken's thinking til his brain's fit to burst and still coming out puzzled.

He had thought it over dozens of times, and it still made no sense to him. Jaken shot a non-too-subtle look toward Sesshoumaru-sama’s “charge,” and didn’t bother to hide his scowl. His lord despised humans—to him, they were weak, stupid, slow, not worth the dirt he walked upon—and yet, his lord was now allowing a human child, weaker than weak, to follow him around. Looking at Rin, Jaken could find nothing remarkable. She was just a human girl like hundreds of other human girls: rough-ish black hair, round and scruffy face, big goggley eyes… Not even particularly endearing, and actually extremely annoying, what with all the babbling she did. Considering his lord threatened Jaken with bodily harm (and carried out those threats) for talking too much, it was a miracle Rin wasn’t cut into minute little pieces by now.

But no. For some incomprehensible reason, Sesshoumaru-sama never lifted a finger against the little brat. When her whining got to an unbearable point, it was always something like, “Quiet, Rin. You’re too loud.” No narrowing of the eyes, no bone-chilling glares. His lord never even looked in Rin’s direction. It was almost as if Sesshoumaru-sama were avoiding the little brat’s eyes. But that was a ridiculous thought, because to avoid someone was to be afraid of them, and his lord was certainly not afraid of Rin.

But since it was not fear, it must be some other reason. And the only reason Jaken can come up with for Sesshoumaru’s patience (he was never patient) was that his lord did not want to frighten the girl. In a way, that was even more disturbing than Sesshoumaru being afraid of Rin, as laughable as that idea was.

It wasn’t as if his lord had suddenly transformed into some soft-boned sap, simpering over the wretched little human and grinning stupidly whenever she made a sound, like Jaken had seen some human fathers do. It was just…well, the changes were more subtle. Beginning to travel consistently with his two-headed mount, for instance, so as to allow Rin a place to sleep when her head began drooping during long walks, though that could be because he didn’t want a hindrance. Getting her new clothes…though the real reason for this might have been that Sesshoumaru’s sensitive nose couldn’t stand the reek of blood on Rin’s old ones.

But that logic was circuitous. Because if his liege did not want hindrances and could not stand the reek of blood, he would have simply flown when the girl had run after him, or melted seamlessly into the shadows of the forest where her pathetic diminished senses could never find him. Sesshoumaru-sama did neither of those things. Sesshoumaru-sama instead allowed her to follow.

Jaken had never been able to come up with an explanation for that. All of his lord’s subsequent actions, therefore, were difficult to explain away without jumping this hurdle first.

He distinctly recalled the days after the human-girl-brat suddenly found her voice. She’d filled their previously silent travels with noise, noise, and more noise. She never seemed to shut up, except maybe when she was eating, and she ate far too fast for it to remain quiet very long. Jaken had looked expectantly toward Sesshoumaru then, because he knew when a boundary was crossed and he knew when one had spoken too much. The brat had done both of those things and she was not even the loyal servant—she should have been silenced, or beaten, or something.

Instead, Sesshoumaru-sama had continued, moving through the woods like a white spectre, making no move to curb the aggravating chirping. And it was from that point on that Jaken stopped being able to account for his lord’s actions in simple, straight-forward terms, the way he had been able to before.

That incident with Rin’s kidnapping by Naraku’s filthy minions, for instance.

Sesshoumaru-sama had been absolutely furious. Pride, he’d explained to Rin when she had asked why they were after Naraku, nearly getting his skull crushed for his trouble. But that meant he was right, and he knew he was right: wounded pride was just about the only reason Sesshoumaru-sama needed to wreak vengeance. But her question raised a question of his own.

Since when did Rin become important enough that his lord would even be affected by her kidnapping at all? Sure, it was pride—Sesshoumaru-sama had been…well, tricked by Naraku into nearly sacrificing his superior demon form. For someone so great and so powerful, such a trap must be galling, festering like a wound that would not close. Perfectly understandable. But Jaken knew with a certainty that if he, the humble servant, had been captured, his lord would not have been nearly as affected. There would have been irritation at being deprived of someone who could take care of menial tasks too below Sesshoumaru for him to perform on his own, incredulity at the enemy’s utter stupidity (who in their right mind would kidnap a youkai’s servant to get at the master??), and… perhaps some anger. Jaken had served his lord since the day of Sesshoumaru’s birth, after all. But it would be nothing so extreme, nothing so full…

Jaken remembered that day clearly—from the moment that spawn of Naraku (Kagura, was it?) disappeared after delivering her message, there had been cold rage seeping from every pore of his liege’s being. It had almost been tangible, and as a result, deeply unnerving. All this emotion for a pint-sized, chattering, very annoying human.

If Jaken didn’t know better, he would’ve suspected that his lord had gone utterly insane. One too many…unsuccessful (humiliating) encounters with the half-breed absolutely killed his self-esteem, or something of the sort. Hmph. That explanation sounded just as bad as…as the other one. The treacherous explanation…that Sesshoumaru-sama looked upon Rin as…well, he didn’t know what.

And when his lord began to transform into his magnificent and powerful beast form—stunning in its sheer strength even minus an arm—and then was stopped… stopped cold in his tracks by a threat from that worthless Naraku, Jaken could not begin to describe his emotions. For Rin. For Rin, Sesshoumaru-sama was checking his fury toward a hanyou who dared manipulate him!

Jaken’s mind had whispered traitorous thoughts then, thoughts of Rin not surviving, hopes that Naraku would kill her. Sesshoumaru-sama could not afford to be manipulated. He was so far above being manipulated. But when he saw his lord again there was the little human girl, trailing behind the almost-stark white figure, and he had felt a keen sense of disappointment followed by alarm. If his lord was willing to go to such lengths…

It seemed that while Sesshoumaru-sama was still interested, Rin would not die—the great youkai simply would not allow it. So all that remained for Jaken was to hope that she would anger his liege enough so that she would be expelled, through rebelliousness or disobedience of simple orders.

The unfortunate thing was, Rin always obeyed Sesshoumaru-sama’s commands instantly, with no complaint. She was so eager to please that even Jaken couldn’t come up with a good immediate excuse to request that she be gotten rid of. He was no idiot; Rin acted this way because she revered Sesshoumaru-sama…with good reason, of course.

It was probably the only thing he could stand about her. It was probably why he could tolerate her without frying her with his staff—other than the fact that he feared his master’s wrath—even when she did ridiculous things…like today…

“Sesshoumaru-sama!” Rin’s smile could have lit up the inside of a demon’s belly. Jaken wondered again how his lord could stand to look at something so…sickeningly sunny without any sort of annoyance. Without further preamble the girl pulled out, with a flourish, the ‘gift’ she had hidden behind her back.

When Jaken saw it he could not bite back the indignant, scornful snort which burst out between his pursed lips. It was a bouquet of wild-flowers, pastel pink and very much the sort of useless thing Rin would want to pick up on their journey. “Look, Sesshoumaru-sama!”

“Now see here, Rin, Sesshoumaru-sama wants absolutely nothing…” Jaken trailed off in the midst of his reprimand when he happened to look up at his lord and liege. Suddenly, he was uncertain.

Something had crossed his lord’s eyes. It made Jaken blink and stare and wonder if demon eyes failed with age. It was…it was almost like warmth, though still a long shot from anything resembling real affection. “Do as you wish with them,” Sesshoumaru said very calmly, before turning and, without another glance back, began walking away. Rin did not seem the least bit disheartened by this reception—her smile only seemed to brighten. “Hai!” She hastened to obey, tucking the flowers carefully in the thick manes of the two-headed beast. Then she ran toward the steadily moving figure of the greatest inu-youkai alive, her arms outstretched in childish abandon.

Jaken resisted the urge to shake his head in utter confusion, before he finally gave up his musing as a bad job, and contented himself with following Sesshoumaru-sama, Rin close beside him.

It wasn’t a servant’s place to judge the master, after all.