Chapter One: The Child
A bird chirped outside the window and it seemed to be the most fascinating thing in the world to the young high school senior, his head resting against his open palm. Dark violet eyes watched the bird as it fluttered on the windowsill before flying away. The eighteen-year-old sighed gently and twirled a piece of his long black hair idly between his fingers, not even bothering to pretend to listen to his English teacher.
Inuyasha Shinkanshi blinked slowly, violet eyes reflecting the bright spring sunshine filtering through the classroom's windows.
His mundane daydreams were interrupted when the bell rang shrilly, signaling the end of the school day.
"Stand," the teacher ordered in English. The students did so. Lazily, Inuyasha stood and stuffed his hands into the pockets of his uniform.
"Bow," the teacher said and the students obeyed.
Inuyasha quickly stood and stuffed his necessary materials for the weekend into his book bag. The boy stalked out of the room, ignoring the voices of happy students delighted to see the weekend, and moved towards the front entrance. He wove around loiterers in the hallway until he found his shoe-locker.
Spinning the dial until his proper combination was plugged in, Inuyasha felt his eyelids flutter. The warmth of the school and the light buzzing of a fly above him was making him rather drowsy. At that moment, all he wanted to do was go home and sleep the rest of the weekend away.
With that appealing idea, Inuyasha quickly stuffed his feet into his street shoes. Adjusting the tie of his school's uniform so that it no longer constricted his neck like an idiotic dog collar, Inuyasha slammed his locker shut.
He turned around abruptly and nearly crashed into a group of giggling girls. They looked up at him in disgust, as if he really had just crashed into them. Inuyasha scowled at them and pushed through them, ignoring their remarks of his rude behavior.
All around him friends were reuniting and discussing weekend plans. Inuyasha, the ever elusive loner of his high school, didn't even bat an eye at the sentimental display of emotions running around him like a school relay.
He left the school and felt the warm sunshine dance across his cheeks. He squinted as he walked across the long expanse of lawn and courtyard towards the front gates of his school. He lived a short ways away from his school so he never bothered to hang around the social hierarchy that was his high school.
He moved slowly, lazily moving back towards his empty house. When he was eight years old, he'd lost both of his parents to a car accident. It had been very sudden; as had the mass amounts of money his parents had left behind for him in their will. His grandfather had tried his best to take care of him, but in his old age it was hard to keep an eye on the little boy. He'd moved out when he was sixteen years old and lived in an apartment by himself.
As he turned the corner he saw his apartment complex come into view. Pulling the strap of his backpack farther up his shoulder, Inuyasha trudged home.
Walking up two flights of steps to reach his third story home wasn't too bad most days. But today, it seemed as if every footfall was too much for him. He just wanted to go home and sleep.
As he reached his floor and walked down the hallway towards his home out of the two apartments on the level, he was surprised to see two figures leaning up against the wall near his door. Frowning, he moved ahead cautiously, not wishing to catch anyone off guard and cause an unnecessary scene.
When he approached, he realized that his grandfather was standing there with a tiny little girl, who stared up at him with large brown eyes. She couldn't be any older than four or five. Inuyasha's frown deepened as he stalked up in front of his grandfather, his body slouching as he observed his elder. His frown intensified when he saw two suitcases behind his grandfather in a fruitless attempt to hide them from the high school boy.
"What are you doing here?" was his greeting as he turned towards his apartment, unlocked the door, and trudged in. He heard his grandfather follow after him and shrugged off his backpack, allowing it to flop down onto the ground with a dull thud.
Slipping off his shoes he heard his grandfather speak. He inclined his head to hear the throaty, weak voice speak to the girl.
"Rin, go and watch TV in the other room, okay?" Rin didn't respond, just quietly slipped off her shoes and retreated from the room, towards where his grandfather indicated.
Inuyasha kept looking at his grandfather. The said man sighed.
"Let us go to the living room, yes?" he asked the boy, who nodded mutely, trailing after his father's father silently.
Once inside, the man lowered himself slowly onto the couch, releasing the tiniest sighs of relief as he rested his head on the back of the couch. Inuyasha flopped down into an armchair.
"Why are you here?" he asked harshly, his lavender eyes narrowing suspiciously. "And who was she? What was with the suitcases? If you want money, I don't have any for you to spare. What do you want?"
"So many questions," the man said wearily, ringing his tired, wrinkled hands. He sighed slowly, taking in deep breaths. "That girl is named Rin. Rin Shinkanshi. She's your cousin."
Inuyasha scowled. "Then what are you guys doing here?"
"I suppose it's best if I start from the beginning," his old grandfather said after a long pause as he collected his thoughts. He glanced at his irate grandson and gave an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry. I am a burden."
Inuyasha rolled his eyes and didn't answer.
"A few months ago, your aunt, Mari, died of cancer. You remember the funeral, right?" Inuyasha didn't. He never went to the funeral. He'd had better things to do than mourn for some aunt he'd never really met. "Well… Rin is her daughter."
"And what's she doing here?" Inuyasha asked slowly, feeling that he wasn't going to like where this story was heading.
His grandfather shifted in his seat, readjusting himself to be better comfortable. Inuyasha waited impatiently, feeling his face contort into an angry glare.
"We've been searching for months for a suitable family member to take Rin in. I've had her for the past few weeks. But I'm too old and weary to look after her. Rin has needs, and I'm unable to properly look after her. Besides," his grandfather said sadly, looking like he truly was ancient. "I have no money to support the girl."
It clicked. He had money. He had lots of money.
"No," he said firmly.
His grandfather looked alarmed. "No, what?"
"No, I'm not going to take in some stupid, orphaned brat," Inuyasha snarled angrily. "I have my own shit to deal with and the last thing I need is for some stupid little girl to mess up my house, eat all my food, need all my damned attention, and just be a plain, annoying little twerp."
Inuyasha turned his face away, signaling that he no longer wanted to discuss the topic at hand. He watched a bird fly outside his window and land on the railing of his balcony. His violet eyes watched lazily, wishing that he were a bird and that he could fly away, too.
They sat in a petrified silence, his grandfather gaping at him, trying to find someway to sway his wealthy grandson. The boy didn't relent to his grandfather's earnest looks. In fact, the young man didn't even turn around to look at his elder.
His grandfather licked his lips. "Then you have just condemned a little girl to death."
Inuyasha stilled. It felt as if the breath in his lungs had rushed out in one gigantic swoosh. So, his grandfather was going to play the guilt card, was he? He tried to ignore the pang in his chest, telling him that even he couldn't force a little girl to starve to death and live out on the streets.
"What do you mean?" he muttered out, not daring to abandon his angered tone of voice. He would not relent to his grandfather's tricks.
"You're the only one in the family with enough money to take care of Rin. Your parents left you all their money and the rest of us have nothing. You're Rin's only hope for a good life, Inuyasha."
"No," Inuyasha said, though his voice sounded far more half-hearted than he'd meant it to be.
"Why can't the brat go live with a foster parent, then?" Inuyasha snarled. "They'd be able to take care of her better than I can."
His grandfather quickly shook his head. His wrinkled face, looking far more exhausted than usual, saddened. The old man frowned angrily at his grandson.
"It was Mari's dying wish. She didn't want to see her daughter taken away. Don't let them take her she said to me before she died. Don't let them take my precious Rin. She doesn't want her daughter to be taken away. She wants her daughter to be taken care of by the family that loves her."
Inuyasha glared daggers at the old man. But his grandfather did not relent. He continued to stare at his grandson, wishing to convey the amount of cruelty he was showing by not taking Rin into his care.
Inuyasha felt a headache coming on. All he wanted to do this weekend was sleep. He didn't want to be ambushed by his grandfather and some little bratty cousin. He didn't want to suffer the wrath of an angry grandfather. (Which really couldn't be that frightening, if he had the upper hand he could throw his grandpa down and break his hip.)
"I still say no," Inuyasha protested for the sake of protesting.
"I cannot believe that you would go against your father's sister's dying wish," he said, sounding like he was deeply scandalized by his grandson's disrespect for the dead. "Rin was the only thing Mari had in the world. The least you can do is take care of Rin."
"Like hell I'm going to be stuck with some brat for… what…? About fourteen years? Like hell I'm going to look after her for even fourteen minutes," he said angrily, standing. "You're asking a high school boy to fucking adopt some little brat he's never met and throw away his future. Do you know what having a kid will do to my future? She'll suck my money dry. How can I take care of her, huh?"
"Inuyasha… I know that it seems irrational. But, for when you go to college, you can always hire a babysitter," his grandfather was quick to say. He was desperate to make his grandson understand.
"I can't take care of her," he said harshly.
His grandfather gave him a deep, penetrating stare. Inuyasha felt uneasy under that intense gaze. He didn't say anything for what felt like an eternity. The old man just gave him a long look, as if he were silently speaking to him with his eyes. Inuyasha fidgeted nervously.
"She'll die," his grandfather finally said.
"Fine," he snapped out angrily. "I'll watch the little brat. Can't have her starving or anything like that."
Inuyasha stood and stalked away, stuffing his hands into his pockets. He moved around his small apartment, searching for where Rin had disappeared. He didn't have to look far. Aside from his living room, he only had four other rooms. His kitchen, bathroom, his bedroom, and an extra room he supposed would have to become Rin's now.
He found her in his room, watching the television sadly. She looked tired. She looked up at him when he walked inside, her large brown eyes staring up at him.
"You'll be staying here from now on," he said grumpily, frowning deeply at the knowledge that he now had a stupid little cousin he had to look after. "Got it?"
She nodded slowly.
He felt his grandfather at his back and he turned to him questionably, scowling at the old man that had forced him into this predicament.
"Rin hasn't spoken since her mother's… passing away," his grandfather said slowly and looked weary. Inuyasha understood why. He'd lost his son and his daughter within ten years of one another. It would make any loving father feel the pain and guilt. All he had left were his grandchildren. And one of them, Inuyasha realized morbidly, was a jerk.
But he had a reason to be a jerk. It wasn't like he was kicking his heels and dancing at the idea of adopting his cousin.
Inuyasha snorted. "She probably just wants attention."
He turned back to Rin. She was still staring at him. He didn't like the intense stare the little four-year-old was giving him. He frowned deeply at her small face peering up at him like she was staring into his soul.
"What are you looking at?" he snapped out. Rin quickly ducked her head and returned her attention to the television. "That's what I thought."
He stormed out of the room and to his kitchen. He'd have to start making dinner. His grandfather followed. He'd have to spend more on food now in order to feed two people. This was bloody terrific.
"Be nice to her. She's just lost her mother." He looked angry. "Don't you remember when you lost your parents? She's younger than you were."
Inuyasha slammed a cutting board down on the counter and glared darkly at his grandfather.
"I don't need lectures from you," he snarled out angrily, his lavender eyes pulsing in his anger. "And I don't need reminders of my dead parents, thank you very much."
The memory of his parents' faces was slowly drifting away from him. He couldn't remember the sounds of their voices and he couldn't remember the feel of their arms around him as they hugged him. It had been ten years since he'd last seen his parents alive. He did not wish to think about it. Especially with his grandfather hovering right next to him.
He started chopping vegetables sloppily. He was never the best cooker. But he'd been living on his own for the past three years, and he was better now than he'd ever been before.
He glanced up at his grandpa. "You're still here? Go away."
The man frowned and retreated from the apartment. He stood in the foyer and peered at Rin, who stood at the corner of the hallway, looking at him with deep, soulful eyes.
"You'll be staying with Inuyasha from now on, Rin," the old man said and knelt before his youngest grandchild. "You be good for him. He'll take care of you."
She continued to stare at him, her face lacking any true emotion. The old man smiled nervously, hoping for a returning smile. He received nothing but a blank stare.
"Be safe, Rin-chan," he said finally, standing up. He limped from the apartment, closing the door behind him.
Rin continued to stare at the closed door, her brown eyes sad at the idea of her grandpa going away. He was the only one who'd been nice to her since the death of her mother. She missed the old man already.
Inuyasha quickly made dinner, his face contorted into a look of pure and utter distaste. How had he gotten into this situation in the first place? Why did his stupid aunt die and leave him with her stupid little brat? He had his own problems without having to take care of his little cousin.
"Here," he said coldly to Rin as he dropped a small bowl of food in front of her. Rin stared at it for a long moment before sniffling. "Don't cry," he ordered and looked away. "I hate tears."
She stared up at him sadly before she started eating.
The next morning, Inuyasha awoke slowly. He stared upwards at his ceiling for a long moment before looking at his alarm clock.
"Only seven," he groaned and pushed his head back into the pillow. "Go back to sleep."
He sighed and closed his eyes tightly, willing his body to send him back off into dreamland. But his body refused to listen and the sandman stubbornly stayed in his hiding place. Cursing his bad luck, Inuyasha sat up slowly in time to see a tiny little girl dart past his opened door.
He stared blankly at where Rin's tiny body had flashed by.
"Oh yeah…" he said sadly, remembering the events of the night before. He was stuck with a little twerp for the rest of his life, it seemed.
Slumping out of bed, Inuyasha pulled on a pair of jeans over his boxers and left his messy room. He watched Rin's little form pad across the living room, somewhat amused by the little girl. He quickly shook that thought away. He did not find anything about this little girl amusing.
"What are you doing up at this hour?" Inuyasha barked out angrily. The girl froze and turned to look at him, her brown eyes wide with shock at seeing him awake. "Well? Answer me."
Then he remembered that she didn't speak either. She stared at him blankly, never once blinking her abnormally large brown eyes. Inuyasha's scowl deepened.
"Whatever," he growled out as he stalked past Rin and shut the door to his bathroom behind him. He brushed his teeth, staring at his reflection with half-lidded eyes. The violet orbs stared at him expressionlessly. He brushed until the mint fresh taste of his toothpaste disappeared.
As he exited his bathroom, he realized that Rin was sitting on the ground, staring up at him. He stood awkwardly for a moment. "Er… the bathroom's all yours."
The girl stood and entered the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind her. He heard the click of the lock and blinked in surprise at the girl's abruptness. Well, she was a brat, after all. No wonder she was acting all high and mighty.
"Should make her eat out a dog dish," Inuyasha muttered to himself before chuckling at the splendid idea he'd concocted.
Unfortunately for Inuyasha, and fortunately for Rin, Inuyasha gave Rin a bowl of cereal for breakfast. The girl sat at the table and stared blankly at the cereal in milk.
"Don't tell me there's something wrong with the food?" Inuyasha grouched out angrily. Rin gently shook her head no and slurped at the milk in her bowl. Inuyasha frowned and ate his own breakfast in peace.
This was ridiculous. His grandfather couldn't possibly think that he'd look after Rin for the rest of her childhood. Sure, he could kick her out at eighteen, or something, but seriously. The minute his grandfather died, the boy decided silently, he would kick her into a foster home. That would solve all his problems. Dead aunt's last wish be damned.
After breakfast, Rin scurried off into her room, doing whatever. Inuyasha wasn't sure what the girl was doing, and he really didn't care either. He spent the majority of the morning doing the dishes he'd been too lazy to do the night before.
Once the kitchen was properly cleaned, Inuyasha moved towards Rin's room. He leaned against the doorframe and pushed the door open, not bothering to knock. The girl looked up at him from her position in the corner of the room. She sat, doing nothing except clutch a stuffed doll to her body. She blinked as he entered the room one step.
"Come on, we have to go to the store to get food. I can't leave you here," Inuyasha muttered. Maybe the girl would get lost on the way to the store. He could only hope.
"Walk faster," he snarled out over his shoulder as the young girl tried to catch up to him. She stumbled a bit but save for the tiny squeaks of surprise she made when her shoe got caught on a bump in the sidewalk, the girl said nothing.
Inuyasha turned the corner sharply and heard Rin follow behind him. The grocery store was in sight and Inuyasha was grateful that the walk was so short. He pushed the door open and kept walking. The door flew back and nearly hit Rin, but the small girl quickly threw her hands out and pushed against the heavy door. The bell above her tinkled and she lifted her head, awed by the tiny instrument nestled at the peak of the door.
"Get over here," he snapped out when the girl lingered. Other patrons to the grocery store gave him a sharp look, as if daring him to be rude to the girl again. Inuyasha ignored them. They didn't know that this little girl had just possibly ruined his life.
Rin obeyed and waddled behind him, lingering close to him but far enough away so that she wouldn't get kicked by the back of his heel. She stared at the mountains of foods that towered above her and gently grasped his pant leg. Inuyasha paused and turned deadly eyes down towards her.
"What?" he asked harshly and the girl quickly released his pants. Slowly, she pointed upwards. Inuyasha followed where her finger was pointing and found a box of cereal he didn't own.
He grabbed it and inspected the box. It was another sugar-infested excuse for a breakfast cereal. Inuyasha wasn't one to hate sugar, but even he had to draw the line at something so incredibly sweet that it would make him sick in the morning.
"I don't think so," Inuyasha said stubbornly as he put the box of cereal back on the shelf. Rin gave him a sad look before ducking her head and staring at her feet.
They gathered the rest of their groceries and went to the checkout line. Inuyasha tapped his fingers impatiently against the handle of his basket as the teller went too slowly for his tastes. He glared at the checker angrily who must have noticed his gaze because she gave him a rather cheery smile that suggested that she only smiled at Inuyasha for the sake of her job. She looked familiar.
"Could you go any slower?" he barked to the elder woman in front of him. The older woman turned around and gave him a confused gaze before turning back to the checker.
"Don't mind him, ma'am," the girl said gently, her blue eyes narrowing as she glanced at the irate man behind the old woman. "Some people are just in a hurry."
The woman paid and left the store, moving as quickly as possibly as if she feared the wrath of the irritated teenager behind her. As she left the store, Inuyasha threw his food on the counter before the teenaged checker.
"Well, hurry it up," he barked angrily at her.
"Good morning to you, too, sir," the girl said pleasantly, though Inuyasha detected the underlying bitterness in her voice. Her blue eyes were focused on her work and not him but she could still feel the death glare the man was issuing her. "Is plastic okay?"
"Whatever," Inuyasha muttered than glanced around for Rin. He saw her quite a ways away, staring at the gumball machine longingly. "Rin," he barked. "Get back here."
The little girl, looking quite alarmed at the fact she was caught, quickly retreated back to Inuyasha's side. The checker frowned deeply at the man's impoliteness with such a young girl.
"You got a problem?" he asked the teenager testily.
She looked up at him and gave him a disapproving look before breaking out into a smile. "Your total today is eighteen fifty two. How would you like to pay?"
Inuyasha tossed a bill at her and she returned the change to him, a smile still on her lips.
"Have a nice day, sir." Inuyasha didn't like her tone.
He sent her one last glare before pushing Rin out of the store, grasping his bags of groceries as he went. He walked hurryingly down the street, hoping to separate himself as much as possible from the stupid girl in the store. He didn't want to stay anywhere near her.
'I hope she gets fired,' he thought darkly as he quickened his pace.
He heard a small cry behind him and stopped. Turning around, he saw Rin on the ground, clutching her knee that was steadily dripping blood. She'd been trying to stay near Inuyasha, but his increased pace had made her break into a run, only to trip over her untied shoelaces. She whimpered slightly because of the sting in her knee.
Inuyasha cursed quietly and knelt before her. He examined the knee.
"It will be fine, get up. We've got to go." Rin whimpered again and struggled to stand. "I'll get you a band aid when we get home."
Rin nodded mutely and followed after him, slower this time. Inuyasha, to his credit, went slower so that she wouldn't fall again. The last thing he needed was Rin breaking into tears in a public place. They were already giving him curious looks for walking around with a little girl.
Inuyasha almost wished he'd bought her stupid cereal just to give her something to be happy for. Maybe she wouldn't bother him as much if he just got her the stupid cereal. Why was he lingering on the cereal? The cereal didn't matter.
He frowned. It was going to be a long day.