"Daddy?" Aiko looked over at the tall figure of her father, his eyes hardened into what she knew had been an imposing glare in his youth but it was highly ineffective on her. She sighed and shook her head at his stubborn nature; nothing would ever change about him. That was one of the best and worst parts of his personality. Reaching up she ran her fingers through his bangs, pushing the long silvery strands aside to reveal a slowly dissolving crescent.

A little sob escaped her at that sight and as she drew her hand up to cover her mouth he reached up and grasped her wrist within his own, stilling her and frowning. "Do not pity for me. No daughter of mine will pity for nature's doing, it is pointless and futile." Her amber eyes widened marginally at his form of speech. He rarely spoke of himself in the first person. This was really beginning to scare her.

No! She turned, her little dog ears drooping slightly against her head and her brow furrowing as she bit her lip with her small fangs. There was no way she would allow this to frighten her. Her father had raised her to be strong and proud, she would do him justice. With a firmed resolve she turned back to look at him with a wistful smile. He had been a wonderful father to her.

She recalled days when he had taught her to control her instincts, hunting, tracking, weaponry, even the art of intimidation. Aiko had truly been raised to be the heir of the western house and she had grown into a tomboy before anyone could say two words. Then, one day when she was entering her twentieth year her father had initiated a change of pace. He turned her over to her human grandmother, now a grey-haired woman with glassy eyes and deep laugh lines etched in her face.

Grandma Higurashi had taught her how to be a lady like her mother had been. To be gentle but firm, sweet but unforgiving to those who had done wrong; over the years she learned the inner beauty that was her mother through the tutelage of her grandmother's steady hand. When the old woman had died Akio had then been handed over to her surrogate aunt and uncle for training.

Koga and Ayame had taught her the inner workings of the modern world and the best ways for a young hanyou like herself to survive in the technologically advanced and highly human times. They gave her an education, assisting her in every way to assure that she could obtain employment if needed in the future and to take over her father's company with finesse. Once she had completed her master's degree in business, with a minor in communication, her time of training was complete and she found herself back in the home she had been born in. The years went quickly, or so it had seemed to her, and before she knew it she was called into this most sacred of rooms. The very room she had taken her first breath in, her parent's bedroom. When she had entered she noticed that the drapes were drawn closed and that it was horribly dark. Ignoring the slight inconvenience her eyes adjusted and she turned her gaze to find her father lying in his bed, covered in a couple old blankets and a fur.

She knelt next to him, expecting some sort of direct order to do some sort of training or take care of some matter that he simply did not wish to attend to. Instead he had reached up, running the back of his fingertips along her cheek slowly. He did not turn and she was not fazed by this. Inu were dogs by nature and her bloodline had inherited the common defect of loss of eyesight in old age. When he had slowly gone blind it was a sign that his time was nearing.

He had not done anything about it, merely accepted his loss as he did so many others. She truly admired her father. He was a proud man and not without reason. Then he spoke, telling her of things he had told no one. He spoke of his father and the troubles between his own parents. He rambled on, something he had never done before, and the subject shifted to her uncle. InuYasha, she had been told many times that she resembled him so much; but only in appearance.

In raspy but smoothed tones he spoke of his half-brother now with a sense of nostalgia. How he had done everything he could to try and bring the best out of him, for his own good and for the family. In the end it had not saved her uncle from himself but her father admitted that he had no regrets and now understood InuYasha's desire for his own life and his own destiny. She nodded in confused understanding, knowing he could not see her but could still smell her moods.

A small smile traced on his lips and his eyes turned far and distant. "Aiko… let me tell you a story…" He said, as he had done so often during her childhood. She closed her eyes with her own bittersweet smile at his sentimental attitude. Then he told her a story she now knew by heart… of her mother, Kagome, and how a mere mortal woman had claimed his life and heart so thoroughly.

When he finished she opened her eyes only to inhale sharply in surprise. There, upon his pale cheek, was a tear trailing down. Only one, he was by no means sobbing, but it was still a sign of emotion. Something she had never seen in her father before. Ever. He let out a sour laugh and she frowned, he was behaving so strangely. Then he turned his face to her and smiled, fully, and she had to swallow a lump in her throat at how entirely beautiful her father was at that moment.

"Aiko… you were always so much like her. Do me proud." She nodded furiously, hand reaching up to cup his own against her face.

"I will, daddy." He frowned slightly, a hint of his old nature coming back in response to the pet nickname she had given him in childhood. Her father had never enjoyed being called that, but had never complained about it verbally. Silently she thanked him for giving her that.

Then his hand went limp and the crescent faded away from his forehead into nothing. A broken sob escaped her and she felt hot tears falling down her face as her fingers clenched around his hand, little claws digging into the flesh and drawing out the black blood within to trail down his slender arm. Releasing his hand furiously she stood abruptly and turned, hair showering around her shoulders in a white flutter. Her arms came up to wrap around herself, hugging to her chest tightly.

Now she was alone. Looking down at him she frowned a little and wiped at the tears that remained on her face roughly with a hand. No. She wouldn't wallow in this. Lifting her head firmly and tightening her jaw with resolute determination she turned to the doorway leading out to the hall and opened the door, eyes adjusting to the brightness of the light. In the hall she faced several wolves and a few other family friends, all waiting for the news they knew to come.

She didn't say anything, she merely nodded once to them and then turned to walk down the halls; the sound of her father's voice echoing in her mind. "Aiko… let me tell you a story…"

Koga and Ayame frowned and watched the girl go. Their numbers were dwindling and with the loss of the western lord it was no matter of time before they would be all but bred out into humanity. Ayame shook her head slightly and sighed. "So much like her father."

Her husband turned to her and shook his head with certainty. "No. There's more Kagome in that girl than you know." Watching the retreating form of the hanyou girl he distinctly saw the face of his miko friend, determined and beautiful and ready to face her destiny.