Author's Note – I'm back! Thanks to all those who patiently kept my name on your author alert lists, and I sincerely hope that I won't disappoint. This story is a sequel to my fic "Leaving the Past" and I highly recommend that new readers begin with that first installment (check under my profile for the link). My new fiction will continue Rin and Sesshoumaru's storyline, however, while mapping out the narrative I realized that I would also be focusing on the second generation of the Inu-brothers, and therefore a few original characters of my own making. I hope that this will not turn anyone away – Don't fear, there will still be plenty of Rin and Sesshoumaru, with Inuyasha, Kagome, and other familiar faces. A word to the manga-followers: It appears that Takahashi is wrapping things up, and the outcome of her story may affect the plans I have for this one (a problem which I'll deal with when I come to it). I'll try to keep the updates coming quickly! As always, your comments – even the smallest, whether critical, complimentary, or somewhere in between – are deeply appreciated.

Prologue

Rin was in pain.

He could smell her fear, exhaustion, and now the faint hints of her blood edging the cold winter air. Rin was never one to make a fuss. Through the light wood and paper screens his keen ears picked up half-stifled groans and sobs, and he knew, that for his sake, she was biting back screams.

Carefully maintaining a stoic calm, Sesshoumaru turned his eyes away from the source of the muffled sounds, and silently, deliberately, moved away from them, down the corridor leading to the inner courtyard. In Spring the open passage would have led to the garden, tonight he inhaled the sharp pure air and stared at the crescent moon through the thin shower of falling snow. Normally such a moon would not have provided much light, but tonight its feeble beams reflected upon the snow and ice, glazing the courtyard with a white and silver cast that matched the clothing, hair, and pale skin of the demon lord who stood there.

He waited a quarter of an hour. Eventually one of the older midwives appeared, shuffling towards him with a small bundle in her arms. Her ashen face, her entire body and its movements betrayed a deep apprehension.

"The lady is asleep now," she said in a nervous voice, strained by a false note of cheerfulness. She avoided the eyes of the demon before her. The demon markings on his cheeks and forehead terrified her almost as much as his cold, detached expression. The rest of her words failed her.

"The child is deformed?" he asked, in a quiet tone that she knew demanded an immediate response.

With shaky hands she opened the swaddling blankets and raised the newborn for its father to inspect.

Rin had given birth to a son, and its hanyou nature was immediately apparent. The infant was half-dog. Its limbs were human-shaped to the knees, where they tapered into canine forelegs and paws. A damp feeble tail was curled tightly against its body. Fine white hair covered its forearms, chest, and lower legs. The infant was tiny, weak-looking and grey beneath its reddish-newborn skin. It shivered in the cold air, its eyes still shut from its recent, exhausting ordeal.

"Go. Leave the child."

For a moment the old woman hesitated, her eyes growing wide. But fear quickly overcame reluctance, she pushed the bundle into Sesshoumaru's chest and stumbled as she bowed, respectfully walking backwards for a few paces before she turned and fled. The silence returned.

Sesshoumaru's attention was caught by a noise at the opposite end of the hallway, and raised his eyes in time to see a small figure retreat into the shadows. His daughter. Emi had been put to bed when Rin had gone into labor, and commanded by Jaken to sleep until the morning. No doubt she had disobeyed immediately. Their oldest child had been a girl, but everything that either parent could have hoped for. In contrast to the hanyou he held now, she had been remarkably normal – human in form, with unnaturally clear and pale skin. Later, unexpectedly and to Sesshoumaru's great satisfaction, she had begun to exhibit far greater strength, speed and agility than any human child. She would surpass many full-blooded youkai someday. Though he rarely expressed such things, he was deeply, fiercely proud of her.

And at five years old, she was already proving to be startling perceptive. What did she comprehend, and how much did she merely sense? He narrowed his eyes in an unspoken command. In the darkness two tiny golden eyes stared back at him for a moment -- a pause not overtly defiant, but not entirely obedient. Then they blinked, and her form disappeared from the passageway. He listened for the quiet, quick patter of her feet as she made her way back to her chamber.

Quietly and without looking at the bundle he carried in his arm, Sesshoumaru stepped into the courtyard, the snow crunching beneath his boots.

It was not unusual for a demon child to be born with the characteristics of its true form. As the child grew older, if he was powerful and practiced enough, he would learn to transform. But not for a hanyou. This child's form would be permanent. He would be despised by demon and human alike. He was sickly and small, a runt. It would not be easy for him to defend himself. A swift death would be more merciful in the end.

The child puckered its face and began to cry.

You are wise thought Sesshoumaru. You sense the danger you are in.

It was beneath him to lie. He would have to inform Rin of what had become of their child. He imagined her now at this moment. Exhausted and asleep, not realizing that her baby was not with her, too weakened to worry or dream. Lying in a room where the air was soaked with the smell of her own blood, where the air was filled with the stupid whispers of the human midwives as they hurried to clean and finish their duties so they could leave. Whispers that rose and fell on words like "monster" and "evil", and the "unholy woman" who bedded a demon. Anger flooded through him for a heartbeat, bleeding his eyes crimson. NoTo kill the child would break the heart of the mother, and that was unacceptable.

He studied the infant more closely. A soft silver-white down covered its head. Tiny blunted claws – he would need those. Frozen bits of snow continued to fall on the small red face. The child opened its weak newborn eyes as it gasped and prepared to wail again. Tiny golden eyes, the eyes of a demon. His eyes, Chichi-ue's eyes. But framed by the long black lashes of his human mother.

At least, he thought, at least the child did not have those ridiculous ears like Inuyasha.

He bent his face to the small whimpering one, pausing to inhale and commit his scent to memory. A scent both human and demon, and faintly reminiscent of Rin's.

"Be still, little one," said Sesshoumaru softly. "Your father is a great and powerful demon. You are Kichiro, my son. There is nothing to fear."

Sesshoumaru carried the infant back into the warmth of the house.