The Botanist and the Beast
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[Sesshomaru x OC] Beauty and the Beast, with a fluffy twist. When the past and the present collide in feudal Japan, how will Sesshomaru deal with the mortal woman Rin just won't leave behind?
Chapter 1, My first Year
Disclaimer: I don't own, Sessh Rin and all other inu char's, I barely own a beat to hell dodge, to whoever does own the Inuyasha char's: if you want it the van is yours.
The Botanist and The Beast
Chapter 1: My first Year
Stay the hell out of my hole.
-The White Rabbit
It all started simply enough with my dream job, studying plant progression and elevation correlations, at varying altitudes of Mt. Yari, in Japan. Ok it sounds boring and mostly my day was consumed by hiking, taking GPS coordinates, marking ten meter square plots of land, identifying and counting the number of each plant in the plots and hiking on. Job perks included: lots of hiking, camping, solar powered computers, plenty of paid tanning time, and some rock climbing; job downsides: boredom, infrequent bathing, weeks in the middle of nowhere, and not being able to pick the people you will be spending these weeks in the wilderness with.
My excitement about the job stemmed mostly from being in a foreign country, studying exotic plants I would normally only encounter in a lab, climbing an unknown mountain and the chance to see feudal era ruins. The last wasn't a promise, but there where many rumors of hidden feudal lord strongholds and demon caves, it all sounded exciting and magical. Yet by the time the real supernatural events occurred, I had lost all my enthusiasm and what I encountered was far more than the crumbled home of a long dead warlord.
I would like to open my tale by saying that reality television has nothing on grimy, arrogant, short tempered, undergrads stuck for weeks in the woods doing mind numbing, repetitious data collection and analysis. It was only week three, of six, when coworker interrelations caused me to lose my temper and leave for the days study area without my assigned aid. My pain in the ass-signed aid, was actually my thought as I stormed into the woods, a good four hours before the teams where supposed to leave base.
Terrance Palmer was an ass of the highest caliber. That morning over an early breakfast, Takai, the official Japanese Governmental Representative to the Mt. Yari Project, was telling me a story about the mountains history of being the home to the Inu-no-Taisho, a demon Dog General who fought amazing battles against the forces of hell. I was engrossed in his tale, my spoken Japanese; I felt, was an atrocity due to my horrible American accent. However, I was a great listener and Takai loved to tell stories about the spirits or yokai, which used to fill the mountains. TP, however, could not speak a single word of Japanese, poorly accented or no, and decided to take offense to Takai and my bilingual conversation.
“What the fuck are you rambling about now, Tacky?” Terrance's nasal voice whined as he approached us still in his sleepwear. Both being early risers, Takai and I had greeted the rising sun an hour earlier. We were fully dressed and drinking our third cups of gritty camp coffee by the time the offensive American approached us. The difference between Takai and me, at this moment, was that after three cups of coffee he becomes far too cheerful.
“Konichiwa, Terrance-san! Coffee?” he called happily to the grumpy researcher offering an empty cup. But the cheerful tone, polite smile and promise of coffee would not detour TP's bad mood.
“You can fucking speak good English, what the fuck are you two talking about that the rest of us shouldn't be able to understand?” He groused moodily snatching the cup from Takai before filling it.
“I am so very sorry, Terrance-san, Donella-chan wanted to practice her Japanese, despite what she says though she is already very good.” Takai smiled encouragingly.
“See there it is again, what the fuck is with that? My name is Terrance, TERR-ANCE” he spoke the syllables loudly and slowly for emphasis, shoving his face towards Takai rudely, “there's no fucking san, chan or chin at the end of it, can you get that into your stupid fucking head?”
“Terrance you have no right to be so rude! We are here at the sufferance of Takai-sama's government and you should be more considerate of our precarious status as visitors in this country.” I cried as I pushed him away from the cowering dignitary and inserted my body between them.
“Fucking you too? I don't need to take any advice from you chicky, you're the only bitch on this crew and it's got everything to do with affirmative action and political correctness and nothing to do with what little brains you may have in that fluffy little head of your.” He bawled, by now everyone in the campsite was up and watching the show with unconcealed curiosity. In such a small campsite with no TV, this was all the drama they'd get to enjoy.
“I would like to remind you, Mr. Palmer that my GPA, tests scores and over all class standing is higher than yours, or anyone else's present and that this project is based on my research proposal. The only reason you are here is because of me. And the little brains I have in my fluffy little head!” And that's when I grabbed my pack and decided that I'd give myself time to cool off and let the other teams meet me at the sight.
It was not a difficult trek and I was of the opinion that with GPS you can't really get lost in the woods anymore. So of course that's why when it went haywire, I fell off the mountain. Or to be more accurate, into the mountain, since I fell down a hole.
I woke up in a cavern to the sound of a little girl singing. It was a nice song, from what I heard, some one was the bravest and strongest and had a faithful servant named Jaken. More importantly to my state it was in Japanese and off key enough to convince me that I was not dead or hearing the songs of angels nor golden harps. My attempt to move elicited an involuntary moan of pain from my lips as I struggled to associate the aches in my body with conscious knowledge of my state.
The singing stopped abruptly at my whimper and I opened my eyes to find myself in a cave suffused with afternoon light and I lay still thinking, If I left at six and it's past noon now then I have been out almost five hours, surly they've mounted a search party by now! My GPS locator should have brought them right to me hours ago, I'm only a little over an hour from base camp, at the most. I pushed myself to a sitting position and took stock of the situation.
I landed on my back, which was good; my backpack absorbed most of the impacted, and from the distance to the top of the cavern, I must have fallen a quite a distance, yet tentative tests proved I had nothing more than minor abrasions and bruises. Then, laying eyes on the scattered pieces of broken brown plastic and electronic components I realized that help would be a long time in coming. The GPS was toast.
“Hi, are you ok?” A little girl was skipping towards me a look of concern creasing her tiny features.
“I think so,” I replied in my heavy accented Japanese, “Do you parents live near here little girl?” Maybe they even have a phone? I thought hopefully.
The little girl reached me and knelt next to me and giggled. “You talk funny. My parents are dead,” The little girl said baldly, “But Lord Sesshomaru, master Jaken and I live in the big castle near here. They would surly help you if you could make it that far! Lord Sesshomaru is the bravest, kindest lord ever.” Castle huh? Lord, master, what sort of game is this kid playing in her imagination? Oh well, she looks well fed, hopefully they have a phone at her `castle'. I tried to stands and found that my left ankle throbbed mercilessly under my weight but that I could indeed move.
“Lead the way, little one, My Name in Donella, what's yours?” I asked as I shuffled to the cave mouth.
“Oh, I'm Rin. You can lean on me if you want I'm really very strong!” She said trying to fit her small frame under my torso for support.
“Well none of that, Rin, I can walk on my own, but thank you for the offer. Besides you would be better help if you'd just lead the way, I'm afraid I have no idea where I'm going.” We entered the forest and I was surprised to find that the cave was on a well walked path. In the three weeks I had been on the mountain such obvious trails should have been apparent especially from above as our camp and research areas where.
Wow how hard did I knock my head to be this disoriented? I know I fell down, but how far did I walk and in what direction before the fall, are my memories wrong? Never mind, if you find a phone you will find people who can give the rescue team directions. This will all be a funny story by dinner… And TP will never let me live it down. That thought pained me greatly, but there was really nothing for it. I made a stupid mistake marching off on my own and I will just have to be the bigger person and accept the derision to come, gracefully.
While I had been lost in thought the little girl, Rin, had been prattling on about Master Jaken, and Lord Sesshomaru-sama. It all seemed to be in the same vein the lord was great and good and handsome, blah, blah and Jaken was apparently tiresome and annoying but good and brave, blah, blah, blah. Both would help me, blah, blah… At least her voice isn't grating and easy to tune out. I thought ungraciously as we turned a bend and the path all of a sudden looked down into a valley and I was so stunned by the sight before me my stumbling steps came to a halt.
There was a castle; a real life feudal era warlord's castle nestled into the natural fortification of the V-shaped valley. Two tree-lined and rocky slopes rose high above the castle nestled in their junction. There was only one entrance point it being the exact path Rin and I where on and the entryway was guarded by a massive gate and a towering stone wall. Wow. The guys who designed this place planned on holding off not just an army, but a demon army of epic proportions. “Holy Hanna, that's really a castle.” I said in English, and to my complete amazement the child replied, “Mhmm and you're not talking funny any more.”
I looked down at her, and stated in astonishment and delight, “You speak English.”
“I don't know I just talk like everyone else.”
“But you understand me, so you must have been taught English.”
“No, you are talking like me, what is Eg-lish?” Great, more games. At least we won't have to put up with much of my crappy Japanese though, if nothing else I can use her to translate to her parents.
“Ok, you win; let's just get to the castle.” As we continued our trek into the valley I noticed I could see some cows, chickens and a dog in the complex but no people. Yet, smoke was rising from the chimneys of the thatch huts that surrounded the main building and where there is smoke there are people. It also struck me that there where no power or telephone lines, satellite dishes or motorized vehicles in evidence, but I was not disheartened. Even in the most remote portions of South America and Africa you could find one broken down truck that was the pride of a community hidden in a shed somewhere. It might take some convincing and a little elbow grease but at the most I'll be back at camp in a day or so, depending on what sort of task they set as recompense for the gas.
A few more minutes on foot and we reached the compound's open gate, and that's when a little toad told me I wasn't in Kansas any more. “Rin!” a whiny little squeak of a voice called, “Rin, where have you been? You know Lord Sesshomaru ordered you not to be wandering off alone anymore. Why didn't you tell me were you where going and who is this, this woman!” Then my brain finally registered what my eyes where telling them. A frog, dressed in brown, and carrying a stick with two dried up heads on top was yelling at my little guide. Considering all the drama and trauma I had suffered that day, it was little wonder that that was the trigger to make me pass out again.
The next time I woke it was dark outside, torches burned in wall receptacles in the well-furnished bedroom where I found myself. I was on a futon covered in blanket that would have cost me a year's salary. My injuries had been dressed, my ankle was expertly wrapped, and my pack sat discarded in a near by corner. I noticed my cloths had also been changed. I now wore a red and green kimono that I also would never have been able to afford and I felt very out of place.
Laying my aching head back on the luxurious pillow I thought. Well the toad was probably a hallucination due to the extreme smack in the head I suffered. He's no doubt a very ugly little midget, but still human. I thought logically, and that staff? I asked myself tauntingly, well, ok, these folks are obviously into some really weird things, but the little girl seems to be in good shape and they didn't tie you to a sacrificial alter and invite their demon gods for dinner. Yet, I decided that if I was going to be in a poorly written fairytale I would do it in my own cloths. Though the kimono was lovely, it would seriously hamper me if I had to run. Let's face facts, when in a strange place surrounded by crazy shriveled head brandishing old men, being able to run unhindered seemed like a sensible stratagem.
Going to my pack I pulled out my, “if I fall into a river”, change of cloths. A pair of socks, a small black cotton tank top and a pair of black denim shorts. My shoes where still MIA, but after changing into my normal cloths I felt more relaxed. Time to explore, I thought as I tentatively opened the sliding wall divider that passed as a door, and entered the most beautiful and fragrant garden I'd ever seen. Glowing in the moonlight it was almost magical.
My brain started to automatically catalog identifiable plants and their Latin names. Lilliacea, orchidacea, poacea… I knelt before a beautiful purple flower with spoon-shape petals, “Berberidaceae Ranzania japonica, you shouldn't be here. Pretty little Togakushisgouma, this isn't the right climate for you, don't you know it's far to cold here for you to be flowering?” I murmured to the plant as I laid a palm on the soil above its roots. The earth was warm.
“It is not easy to cultivate at this altitude, but its petals have some very useful qualities.” A chill voice spoke from behind me. I jumped to my feet startled and reprimanding myself.
“I'm sorry I didn't know anyone was here.” I said in startled English and then realizing that I spoke in the wrong language I searched my memory to translate what I had said, but the darkness near the building responded, “You are not a prisoner, you may go where you please, there is no need to apologize.” It was a flat statement with no discernable tone.
I was startled into asking the obvious question, “Does everyone here speak English?”
“No.” was the short reply as the shadow I was talking to stepped into the moonlight. Long white hair, white kimono with red floral accents his hands where hidden it the billowing sleeves, he wore an eccentric fur boa and two swords belted to his left hip. The stranger looked like he had stepped from a panting of what a feudal Japanese Lord should appear. But I was more stunned by the pointed ears.
t help my exasperated response to this new development, “Great, I've either A: fallen down a rabbit hole into a land inhabited by talking toads, crazy orphans and handsome pointy eared devil elves. Or the most likely explanation is B: I'm bleeding to death at the bottom of a cavern in a foreign country, hallucinating my last few hours of life away with no hope of rescue!” I flopped onto the nearby stone bench and covered my face in my hands.
“I assure you, you are not hallucinating.”
“Says the product of my fevered mind, please, excuse me if I don't really believe you, but your unnatural appearance contradicts your words. Though I'm really very disappointed in myself, you don't really resemble Jude Law at all.”
“Believe what you will.” He said in that same colorless tone of voice and then in a blur of white he vanished. I sat on the bench in a despairing fugue. All of the excitement of prospective castle exploration and the rare plant discovery where consumed by the overwhelming idea that I had just created all this as an escape from my slow and untimely demise, and I was growing very cold. Great, probably the manifestation of shock setting into my body, might as well pretend to warm up; it may make this all easier. So I plodded my way back into the sumptuous suite I had started in and curling up into the imaginary luxury of the bed, I fell asleep again.
I awoke to sunlight pouring into the room and a child shaking me awake, “Miss Donella, are you feeling better? I brought you some porridge I made, would you like to come pick flowers with me?” Rin, couldn't I have thought of a better name for this chatter box? I thought as my grumbling stomach awoke to even the idea of pretend food. I sat up and gratefully took the proffered bowl. “Thank you, Rin.” I said and gained a sunny smile for the effort, she prattled on, “I'm so glad you remember me! I'm sorry master Jaken scared you into fainting, or maybe you where just tired, but he's not bad he's a very good person once you get to know him, although not very patient…” and on she went as I consumed my porridge, dressed in the kimono from the night before and followed her out into the garden.
The day passed pleasantly, Rin chattered on and asked a zillion questions. I taught her some of the Latin names and medicinal properties of a few of the plants found in the garden as we made garlands and crowns from them in the languid sunshine. We had a simple lunch of bread and cheese, and I watched her chase fire flies that evening after a meal of cooked fish and rice before telling her a story, hugging her good night and going to bed.
Six days past uneventfully this way. From Rin's incessant chatter I learned that Lord Sesshomaru was an Inu-Daiyokai who had recently been searching for a big bad hanyou named Naraku. He'd saved Rin from the master of hell and was supposedly taking a break at the castle, but never appeared to be around. I met Jaken a few more times, and confirmed my initial impression that the little kappa was an annoying whiner with an over blown sense of self worth who constantly berated Rin for everything she did and completely disapproved of me. It appeared that the only reason he didn't kill me is because his lord left orders to leave me be.
I taught Rin to sing the most annoying song in the world to make him suffer, and occasionally heard her enthusiastic cries of, “This is the song that doesn't end! Yes it goes on and on my friend! Some people…” and his protests in the distance as I bathed or read from one of the books I found in the castle's extensive library. Slowly I came to the conclusion that I was in fact not hallucinating and that I had some how ended up in a crazy alternative version of my world.
Well, when leaving Brigadoon you only have to walk through the mist. With this crazy mythical logic in mind on my seventh day I put the cloths I arrived in back on. Dressed in my green cargo pants, yellow tank top and hiking boots and carrying my pack, Rin and I returned to where she'd found me. I climbed the outside ridge and was excited to find that the landmarks on the hill above the cave where the familiar ones from near the campsite. Curious unimportant thoughts flitted through my mind momentarily, like: why hadn't a search party found me already and why had we never seen the castle until I fell, but it was unimportant as, with Rin stoically following, I hurriedly made my way down the familiar path back to reality.
Yet, when I arrive thirty minutes later to the familiar clearing there was no sign of the camp, nor any suggestion a camp had ever been there. Even the area where the latrine had been dug was nothing more than grass; no evidence of man was apparently anywhere but in the persons of Rin and me.
Retracing our steps Rin followed me back into the cave. She was abnormally quiet as I tried to climb through hole I fell from, but even with my climbing gear the walls of the tunnel where just to sheer for me to attach to and resisted my attempts.
I tried it with my boots, I changed into my Barracuda rock shoes and I even tried it barefoot. Each time I fell I accumulated more scratches and bruises for my efforts and gained no ground. As I dangled from my safety line for the hundredth time that day I let out a wordless cry of defeat and anguish. Slowly I climbed down, packed my gear away, gathered the shattered pieces of my GPS unit and we returned to the castle in silence.
In the garden that night as I finished our usual story and hugged her she said sadly, “You tried to go back to where you came from, didn't you?”
“Yes.” My soft reply echoed her sad demeanor.
“But I saw, you couldn't go through, you just kept falling.”
“Yes.” I sighed and she hugged me again, tightly.
“I'm sorry, I bet you miss your family very much.” She mumbled into my arm. I thought about my family and said quite honestly, “My father isn't ever around, and I don't know him very well. My mother is a mean, unhappy woman who hates children and my siblings and I only speak when a catastrophe occurs. I don't really miss them much, but I miss my life. I miss my job and my sense of purpose and all the things I was constantly fighting for.” She lifted her head from my shoulder, “Do you miss your boyfriend?” Her question made me laugh as I thought about Garry, not once as I reflected on my life had a longing to see him occur.
“I have a boyfriend, his name is Garry, but I don't think I miss him either.” I answered honestly.
“Don't you love him?” Her shocked tone made me smile.
“Not really. He's not the kind of person you love.”
“Then why is he your boyfriend?” The bald personal question frustrated me.
“Not that a little girl should be asking a grown-up such questions, but when you get older you'll understand that not all the arrangements of life are going to bring you happiness. Now please go to bed, Rin, I've had a long day and would really appreciate some time to think.” She energetically hopped out of my lap, my annoyance and angry words not even affecting her buoyant nature.
“Sure thing, Donella-sama!” She cried happily before skipping to the door on her side of the garden. As she reached it she turned and said, “I'm glad you're here,” and quickly closed the door behind her.
Alone in the still evening garden, I contemplated my life. I couldn't stay in the magical castle forever, it smacked of freeloading and I am far too independent for things like that. Also the idea that the predatory creature I'd insulted in the garden my first night might be my unintentional host worried me. I doubted I'd made a favorable impression and in a feudal system he had every right to kill anyone under his purview, and living in his castle definitely put me in that position. My mind made up I went to sleep for my seventh night in the magic castle and I had intended it to be my last.
The next day I rose before the dawn and packed my things, and then went to Rin's room across the garden. With out knocking I entered and looked down at the child's sleeping form for several minutes, soaking in the peace and innocents of youth, then I shook her awake.
“Hey, Rin?” I said as her eyes fluttered open in the dim predawn light.
“Donella-sama, what's wrong?” She asked a note of alarm in her voice.
“Nothing is wrong sweetie; I just needed to get going early this morning and wanted directions from you.” I said brushing her disheveled hair down reassuringly with my hand.
“But where are you going?” She asked the distress creeping back into her voice.
“Well that depends, I figure with a castle this size you need to get farmed products from somewhere, and that means eventually a human settlement of some place is near by right?” I was really just guessing about that but it seemed reasonable and if there where people the child would know where.
“There is one in walking distance down stream, but the people there are not nice.” She said making a rather grumpy and ugly face. But at least they are human, and angry annoying people are always easier than dealing with fickle yokai, I thought moodily.
“Well that's where I'm going to go for the time being, I hope to find something outside of the settlement, I don't really like people either, but is it close enough that you can visit me?” I was actually going to miss the child and it seemed that she didn't get much companionship in the apparently empty castle.
“Well there's an empty building halfway between here and there, I could make it there in a few hours and its right next to the river…” The child trailed of hopefully. A few hours to town or a few hours to the scary demon castle and the little princess inside, yeah that's got the ring of a dysfunctional fairytale with great vacation options. I thought acerbically as I considered the sleepy child. “Well then that sounds like the place to find me if you ever get to lonely.” I said giving her a cheerful hug.
“But why can't you just stay here? Don't you like it here?” Rin looked up at me with confused, pleading eyes.
“I do sweetie, but I've already been abusing your lord's generosity to much and I need to find my own place. Could you do me a big, important favor though?” I asked her and at her solemn nod I gave her the only valuable possession that had been in my bag, “This bracelet is gold, and it belonged to my great, great grandmother it's the only thing of worth I have. This big stone is called a ruby and it's very expensive where I come from.” It hurt to let the heirloom go, but I just couldn't leave a debt between me and a Daiyokai, all legend pointed that being a very bad idea. “Now Rin, please, the next time you see your Lord Sesshomaru, would you give him this and tell him I hope that it repays the debt I owe him, please?” The girl took the bracelet gravely and nodded again. Giving her a brief hug I said, ok then I'm off and I hope to have a visit from you soon, k?” Another quiet nod and I fled to the gate, I fled the child's inevitable tears and from the silent, lonely castle.
The hut was not hard to find, tucked away from the road on a little side path it too was from a fairytale. In the early sunlight it glowed. Covered in flowering vines next to the energetic river and surrounded by vegetation it was the typical good granny's house and seemed to be waiting for no one else but me.
Settling into the cottage took very little time, a venture into the nearby village informed me that the people their where not receptive to strangers, but where also desperate for an herbalist and general healer. The former I had down pat and the later proved to be mostly 20th century common sense about cleaning and wrapping wound, sewing cuts, and supervising the occasional birth. Birth where actually the easiest to deal with because there were always so many female relatives around for such things I was only present for moral support.
Weeks passed pleasantly as I planted an herb garden with local plants I found in the near by woods, made salves tea satchels, and hung herbs to dry near the fire. I had a boy repair my roof and re-tar the slats of my cottage for fixing his brother stomach pain from mushroom poisoning, I experimented with making lotions and I learned to make soap from a local granny. It was a full month before Rin came to see me, Jaken in tow.
“Donella-sama! Donella-sama! Are you home?” The child's voice was insistent and cheerful as in filtered to me in the garden.
“Do not yell Rin, if she is not here we will just return to the castle that much sooner.” Jaken grating voice was far less welcome than Rin's but a necessary evil.
“Oh no you don't toad!” I called as I came to my feet, “Rin I'm in the garden, follow the path.” But directions where unnecessary, for the moment she heard my exclamation she was running around the back of the hut and barreled me down with a leaping hug which made me laugh with joy. “Even though you where the one who gave me direction, I was beginning to believe you'd forgotten the way here, kiddo.”
“No it just took me ever so long to convince Master Jaken to let me come, and finally Lord Sesshomaru told him he had to bring me.” She said breathlessly as I climbed to my feet again still holding the child.
“Well then, Master Jaken,” the shade of irony in my voice was heavy; “perhaps I could make it up to you with some soup? I received some venison yesterday and it made a fine stew.” As I carried Rin to the house I heard him smack his lips behind me.
“It might be a start, human.” He said haughtily and followed us into the hut. That evening was a happy one as I fed Jaken and Rin stew and told her a story. Jaken pretended not to listen, but he was also captivated by my tale of Robin the Hooded. It was well into the evening when they left, and I promised Rin a story about a girl named Persephone and how she got lost from her mother.
More time passed; weekly I would get visits from Rin and Jaken. We spent pleasant evenings together and I told them stories, fables, myths and legends from all over the world. If they came early enough, I told Rim about herbs. She told me of the time she saved Jaken from fatal poisoning with a plant called the Thousand Year Flower and how she thought herbs where very useful because they could save people like that.
When a wounded samurai was brought to me, short one leg at the knee cap, I helped him fight off infection, helped the fever go down and held his hand in the night while he cried for what he had lost. In return he gave me his sword and taught me everything he knew about using it and to defend myself without it. After he left I practiced the katas he had shown me every morning before going to my garden and starting my day. That summer I practiced by the river, and when winter came, I practiced by the fire in my home and learned to weave cloth. And so my first year passed in the strange feudal Japan.
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