Chapter Eighteen: Intertwined

"What did you say?" Inuyasha wheezed out after an excruciatingly long minute. He felt like he was going to get the worst headache in the history of headaches.

Inuyasha's grandfather sighed and repeated, "Rin's father is still alive."

"But…" Inuyasha trailed off, feeling lost and confused. He sat there stupidly for a moment, his mouth hanging openly slightly as he tried to process the shocking news he'd just received. He never would have imagined that Rin's father could still be alive.

"I must admit that I've been lying to you for quite some time," the old man murmured quietly as he clasped and unclasped his hands. He sighed and shook his head gently, as if trying to collect enough courage for what he wanted to say. "About Mari and Rin's father."

Inuyasha recalled memories of his aunt and uncle. Mari was always so devoted to the man and he could remember when he was still allowed to go and visit her. She was always doing things to please him, her eyes shinning whenever he smiled at her. It seemed as if she'd devoted her entire being to him.

He remembered the day that his grandfather told him he couldn't see Mari anymore. At the time, his grandfather told him that they didn't have the money to support Inuyasha. He remembered the pain in her eyes.

"But I know that Uncle is dead," Inuyasha said at last. "They had a funeral and everything."

He could recall with bitter detail the day Inuyasha learned that Mari's husband died; he'd gotten a heart attack. He remembered the look of intense pain in his grandfather's eyes as he processed the knowledge that his first born was dead.

"Yes, my oldest son is dead," the older man agreed, looking tired. The old man witnessed the deaths of two of his sons and his two daughter-in-laws. Of course he'd be tired at this point. The only ones he had left were a little girl and a rude young man. The grandfather continued, "But he wasn't Rin's father."

Inuyasha knew he had a headache now. How could the old man say it with such fluidity, as if the mere idea of Rin's paternity meant nothing?

"You're kidding me," Inuyasha gasped out.

"I wish I were," the old man admitted and shook his head. Inuyasha stared at him. His mouth flopping over again. His lavender eyes hazed over and he blinked wordlessly. "No. He was not Rin's father. And he knew it, too."

"Who's the father, then?" Inuyasha demanded, curiosity getting the better of him. He sat up a bit straighter, staring at the old man with intense eyes. He was unraveling a scandal in his very own family. Mari was unfaithful? Rin was the product of an affair?

The old man gave him a deep, foreboding look. Inuyasha racked his memories for any sign that Mari was unfaithful, searching for the tiniest of clues to another man's presence in her life. Everything was so fuzzy. He was young then. The last time he'd seen Mari he'd only been fourteen. That was five years ago. How could he remember something as asinine as an unfaithful aunt when he hadn't even been aware of it all those years ago?

"Inuyasha, you fool," his grandfather said at last. He looked so incredibly tired. "Don't you see? You're Rin's father."

"What?" Inuyasha barked and launched out of his chair, getting to his feet immediately.

His eyes widened and he stammered over his words. His words failed him. He couldn't speak. He couldn't think.

'This has to be a joke,' he told himself silently and he even managed to force a tiny laugh at the mere idea. 'What is wrong with this man? There's no possible way!'

"That's ridiculous! There's absolutely no way." Inuyasha shook his head and laughed. "What the hell is your problem, grandpa? Is this your idea of some sick joke? I need to go find Rin."

He made to walk towards the door, trying to pull on his coat as he walked. He had to find Rin. He had no time to listen to his senile grandfather talk about a twist worthy of a soap opera.

"Don't leave, Inuyasha," the man commanded in a voice Inuyasha nearly didn't recognize. He froze in his steps and turned around to see his grandfather stand up.

He looked taller than Inuyasha remembered. He looked stronger. He looked older. He looked wiser.

"Rin is your daughter," the man repeated. "Why would I lie to you about that?"

Inuyasha gaped at him and his amethyst colored eyes dulled as he thought. The mere idea of Rin being his daughter—let alone even having a daughter—was ridiculous. He shook his head wildly and tried to laugh off his grandfather's words.

"I don't believe you," he gasped out, feeling a sense of panic wrap around his heart and tug harshly. "I won't believe it."

"You must believe it," the man said loudly, his sharp voice cutting into Inuyasha. The boy took a hesitant step backwards. "Why would I lie about this, boy? Why would I purposefully put you through such turmoil unless it was true? I am no liar, Inuyasha. I would not lie about this."

Inuyasha's disbelieving face melted away and his body slacked. He felt as if he should sit down. Instead, he simply slumped against the wall, staring at the floor blankly, his eyes never moving from one tiny spot on the floor beneath his feet. This couldn't be happening. Why was this happening?

"Rin is five. You are nineteen," the old man said while giving the boy a look. "That is a fourteen years difference."

"Fourteen," Inuyasha murmured, knowing exactly what that meant. He'd been fourteen when Rin was born. He shook his head again. "This is fucking insane. There is no way that Mari and I…"

He paled at the mere idea.

"Why do you think I wouldn't let her see you again?" the old man murmured. "Do you remember the Christmas before Rin's birth? You were actually thirteen then. You spent the entire night with Mari."

Inuyasha racked his brain. Usually he could remember holidays like that. When he was with Mari, he almost felt he was back again with his mother. Mari had always been very gentle with him and very loving. She'd taken care of him and loved him, just like his mother had. But he couldn't remember that Christmas.

"What does this mean?" Inuyasha murmured. Was he really starting to believe this? It was all surreal. He felt as if he were watching from the sidelines.

"You two were alone. I couldn't make it because I was sick. Mari's husband was on a business trip. It was just the two of you," the old man whispered. With each word that dripped from his mouth he seemed to age ten years. Inuyasha watched the withered old man, disbelief and resistance in his eyes. He would not accept Rin as his daughter.

"Stop now," Inuyasha commanded. "I don't want to hear this. You've got to be lying. I need to go and find Rin." He turned to walk out of his house, away from his grandfather and his sick lies. "She's probably crying by now."

The old man's withered, liver-spotted hand grasped Inuyasha's powerful arm, the frail fingers closing in around the wrist. "Please," he wheezed out, looking desperate. "Please listen. You must know these things."

"Can you even prove that this happened?"

"Mari admitted to it," the old man said. "When I came there to pick you up on Christmas morning, you were lying on the couch naked. At first I tried to think of some way around it. But… Mari was naked, too. She started crying hysterically. She was so incredibly ashamed of what she'd done. She admitted she'd gotten you drunk." He looked so tired. So sick. So empty and alone. Inuyasha hesitantly sat down next to the frail creature he called his grandfather. "She got you drunk. So drunk that even to this day you can't remember a single thing about that night, can you?"

Inuyasha looked as if he'd seen a ghost. He sat still, rigid, disbelieving. He tried to say something but no words came out. He swallowed. Why did this always happen to him? What did he do to deserve this all?

"It was on that day that I forbade Mari to ever see you again. She was family, though. Even if not by blood. But she… I couldn't… You didn't remember. I had no proof except for Mari's words." The old man shivered. "Her husband knew immediately that it wasn't his child. They hadn't been together like that for months. But it was too shameful to reveal the scandal. After Rin's birth, their marriage was ruined."

Before Inuyasha could stop him, the old man was hunched over and crying. Inuyasha stared at him in shock. He knew that his grandfather was a gentle and caring man, but never before had he seen the man break down and cry. His grandfather was strong, yet here he was.

"Hey, stop that," Inuyasha said weakly.

"I've failed you," the man wheezed. "I couldn't protect you from something as hideous and disgusting as Mari's actions." He shook all over, looking lost. "I promised myself that I would always protect you and I let that—that woman touch you like that!"

He swore to protect him…

Inuyasha stared, rooted to his spot, staring at his grandfather in disbelief. Why hadn't he realized how devoted his grandfather was to him? He'd walked through life convinced that he was alone and unloved. Yet… How could he not have noticed the people who were always right behind him?

"How were you to know that she would do that?" Inuyasha asked. Then he stopped himself before he could say more. There was no way this could truly have happened.

He couldn't remember anything about that night. There was no way that Mari, the sweet, lovely aunt he grew up loving could have done something so hideous, something so disgusting. Something that black could never give Mari that scar. Why would Mari do something like that?

"Besides, there's no proof that Rin is my daughter. It could have been one big misunderstanding," the young man said uneasily, not sure if he truly believed his words.

"You fool!" The older man blasted out, giving him a deep look that he'd never seen on his face before. "Are you blind? Are you that blind?"

Inuyasha paled.

"Are you so blind that you can't see what's right in front of you? Have you ever really looked at Rin?" the old man barked.

Inuyasha felt a strange sense of déjà vu. He'd had this same conversation with Mr. Higurashi. Only now the tables were turned and he was the one refusing to look into Rin's eyes and see what was right there before him. Inuyasha shook with his hatred. There was no way that he could accept this… this hideous, hideous lie.

"She is your daughter, Inuyasha," the old man whispered. "Why would I lie about that? Why would I come here to soil the name of a woman already dead? How could this possibly benefit me? Why would I want to come here and shatter the tentative foundation you've climbed yourself onto?"

"But I…"

"Why do you think you connected so quickly to Rin? Why do you think you two can live like this as if it were meant to be like this?" the old man growled. "Rin never knew Mari's husband. He died about a year after Rin's birth. You are the only father she's ever had—and she doesn't even know that you are her father."

The old man was enraged.

"Why can't you accept that she's yours?"

Inuyasha sat still, visibly shaken and knocked down a few pegs. How could he possibly take this information? It had to be a lie! A lie! It had to be! Why would Mari do this? She wouldn't! Would she? No!

"I… I have to go and find Rin now," Inuyasha whispered and ran to the door before the frail old man could stop him.

"She's your daughter," the man's voice trailed after Inuyasha and danced in his head even long after he'd slammed the door shut and run down the flights of stairs leading down to the ground level.

He turned the corner and dashed down the sidewalk. He knew where to go first—Mari's old house. That was the one place that Rin wished she could return to, especially since Rin wanted to see her mother. He remembered his own thoughts of his mother. How he missed her.

How could he yell at Rin for wanting to see her mother again? Where had that anger come from? Had he grown so attached to Rin that he expected her to completely forget about her family and love only him?

It was true that the mere fact that he wasn't good enough for Rin sparked unwanted and confusing emotions within his soul. He wanted nothing more than for Rin to accept him and only him. He wanted her to never need anyone else but Inuyasha.

Why couldn't he, even now, wipe away Rin's sadness?

Why did she have to be sad? He didn't want her to turn out like him: alone and jaded.

He raced down the street and turned the corner, smashing into Kagome as she left her father's apartment. Just as he'd told her, she'd gone and talked to him. Though they seemed to be on the same grounds now, Kagome doubted she'd ever be truly welcomed back in that home. For some reason, she didn't mind as much anymore.

She did mind, however, Inuyasha smashing into her and making her teeter backwards. He grasped her as she started to fall and steadied her.

"Have you seen Rin?" he barked before Kagome could say a word.

"What?" Kagome asked, taken quite aback by Inuyasha's sudden arrival and question. "N-no. I haven't. Why, is something wrong? What happened? Where's Rin?"

"How the hell should I know where she is?" Inuyasha cried out.

Kagome looked mystified for just a moment before she touched his shoulder. "Inuyasha, calm down. Everything's going to be okay. What happened?"

"There's no time to explain!" Inuyasha snapped out.

Kagome seemed unfazed by his sporadic behavior. She gently touched his two shoulders, standing with him as he bounced from one foot to the other. Aside from Rin's obvious disappearance, something heavy seemed to be weighing him down.

"Kagome," Inuyasha said after a moment of irritated silence, "does Rin look like me?"

Kagome blinked in surprise and thought about it for a moment. "Well, you two have the same nose. And your eyes have similar shapes. And the ears. You both have adorable ears."

That seemed to embarrass her because she stopped talking. If there was anything else she felt was similar between the two she didn't volunteer it.

"Shit," Inuyasha whispered. Why was he blind? Did he look like Rin? Was Rin really his daughter?

Regardless of whether they shared the same blood, he had to go and find Rin. Now. He gently pried Kagome's hands off his shoulders and gripped them. He stared at her, his lavender eyes swirling with his turmoil of emotions. Kagome stared at him in surprise, unsure what to make of Inuyasha's behavior.

"Kagome, I need you to go to my house and wait for Rin there in case she gets home. My grandfather may or may not be there. If he is, he'll explain everything to you." With that, Inuyasha took off a run, leaving Kagome behind. He glanced over his shoulder and shouted, "Call my cell phone if she comes home!"

Kagome watched him go, dazed and confused. She heeded his words, however, and turned on her heel, heading towards where Inuyasha's home was located. She weaved between pedestrians in her trek to Inuyasha's house, wondering what it was that was bothering him so. He looked as if he'd seen a ghost.

"You're truly a mystery," she told no one as she climbed the steps to his apartment.

Hours passed and there was still no sign of Rin. Inuyasha was growing more and more uneasy, wondering where it was Rin disappeared to. He'd checked Mari's house three times, all the parks, the kindergarten numerous times, and the grocery store, if, by chance, she was there. He constantly prayed for Rin to show up or for Kagome to call him on his cell phone. But he never found her and his phone remained silent.

"Shit!" he told a tree as he dug around the bushes below, searching for Rin. He straightened and looked along the park he'd checked for the third time. Where was Rin?

Maybe she'd gotten lost. Tokyo was a big city. It was possible she was nowhere she knew. Alone. Afraid. Dying.

"Ack," he told himself as he thought of the news reports when they found out that an irresponsible moron let his little daughter run out into the streets of Tokyo and die there, alone.

He kept searching.

"Damn, damn, damn, damn," he cursed as he ran along the sidewalk, ignoring the screaming of his feet and legs. Ignoring the pounding of his heart. Ignoring the wheeze that filtered through his mouth as he tried to breathe. He felt so tired. So incredibly tired. He wanted to sleep.

He couldn't sleep until he found Rin.

All around him happy couples played with their children. All around them people were smiling and laughing together. And here he was: the irresponsible moron who couldn't take care of Rin properly.

"What if she is dead?" he asked a flower as he got down on his knees and searched around the underside of some bushes. Maybe Rin was hiding from him because she hated him?

He didn't want to think about it and the repercussions of causing Rin's untimely death. If Rin died… that would be it. Rin was his everything. Rin was his life. Rin was his daughter.

He paused in that thought, his entire body shivering as if dumped in ice water. Did that mean he accepted the fact that Rin was his daughter? Now that he thought back to it, he always did get comments of how Rin looked almost exactly like him. It made him feel sick to his stomach. If Rin truly was his daughter, then what Mari did was inexcusable.

Now that he thought about it, having Rin as a daughter did explain his grandfather's behavior as of late. His die-hard refusal of Rin going to anyone other than himself. It wasn't because of his money, it was because, rightfully, Rin should be with him—regardless if his name was on the birth certificate or not (he figured it wouldn't be because of the legal discussions it would raise.) It also explained his grandfather's questionnaire. He'd always asked if Inuyasha was drinking alcohol to which Inuyasha always replied he had zero tolerance.

"Of course Grandpa would know that I have zero tolerance," he muttered to himself. "Mari proved that. I guess that explains why he never wanted me to drink after that…"

Though, strangely enough, the idea that he'd helped create someone as darling and beautiful as Rin was truly comforting. He froze yet again as that thought danced in his head.

He was proud of Rin. And, whether she was his daughter or not, he loved her.

A sense of pride overflowed him and he felt warm inside. He was proud of Rin. Rin was a wonderful person.

"That is if she's not dead," he muttered as he straightened and ran down the street towards Mari's house.

He searched all around, crawling on all fours in some spots and trying to find a trace of Rin and her beautifully sweet smile. But he found nothing.

He sighed and rested on the steps, knowing that if he didn't take a rest his lungs would explode in his chest and then he'd die along with Rin. Maybe that wouldn't be a bad thing. Maybe he deserved to die.

Inuyasha recalled sullenly the time when he'd felt that and his grandfather had stopped him. Stopped him from dying and robbing Rin of her father. But hadn't Rin already been robbed? Well, maybe it wasn't too late. She was five. She could learn to accept that he was her father. If he dared tell her.

How would—how could—Rin accept such a fact?

Inuyasha sighed and rubbed his forehead, feeling the pounding headache throbbing against all sides of his head. He felt tired. He felt sick. He felt alone.

"Rin," he muttered. "Where are you?"

He realized during the process of searching for the invisible Rin that she meant the world to him. Perhaps he always knew what she meant to him. But it wasn't until the mere idea of losing her coupled with the impact of knowing that Rin was actually his daughter and not his cousin… he needed her. Without her, he would fall back into that abyss he'd occupied for years—over a decade.

Rin was freeing him from that eleven-year-old pain. Kagome was freeing him from that eleven-year-old pain.

He'd gone years without a single smile from a girl. Now he had two in his life.

Inuyasha realized how blessed he truly was.

He tipped his head defiantly towards the sky, giving it one of his darkest stares. Rin was his moon. Kagome was his stars. They lit up his darkened sky. And he'd be damned if he let the moon set and the stars disappear.

"I'll do anything," he told the darkening sky. No stars. No moon. "I'll do anything just as long as she's safe."

Kagome paced back and forth, wringing her hands together. Inuyasha's grandfather was missing, but he'd been there when she'd come into the apartment. The old man explained the situation as best he could and then wobbled away, using a cane to navigate around the apartment and down the hall.

Now Kagome was on edge. And it was all Inuyasha's fault for causing her to worry so much. She hoped that Rin was okay. She hoped that Inuyasha was okay.

She paced irritably, wishing that something would happen. She prayed that he'd call or Rin would come home.

Kagome sat down and stood back up again. She padded into the kitchen then retreated to the living room. She poured herself a glass of water and then didn't feel thirsty. She picked up the phone and then returned it to the cradle.

"Should I call the police?" Kagome asked. "Tokyo is a big city. Inuyasha may not be able to find her in time. It's getting dark now. I should probably call."

She paced.

"Who am I talking to?" she asked, realization dawning in her features. She shook her head.

She sighed and set the phone back down, disconnecting the line. She ran her fingers though her hair, feeling her entire body on edge, as if sitting on the side of a cliff, waiting for the moment where she would fall. Her entire body was tensed with anticipation.

She started wringing her hands again. A pall wrapped around her like the embrace of a dead relative. Something was nagging her. She wanted to help but felt useless stuck in the home, like some domestic housewife waiting for her husband to come home. She excused the thought just as quickly as it entered her mind.

Kagome started pacing again, finding nothing else she could do to settle her battered nerves. This was the worst kind of anticipation. She had no idea where the two of them could be and the sky was dark outside.

She swallowed and opened the door peeking down the hallway to check to see if the two were coming up the stairs now. She heard nothing and, with a sigh, shut the door again.

"This is ridiculous!" Kagome declared. "I should be out looking, too! I'm perfectly useless stuck in this damned apartment."

Just as soon as the words left her mouth she heard a loud sob. Kagome froze wit her heart stopping. What was that?

She followed the sounds of sobs, her steps becoming more fevered as she progressed towards the noise. She knew without seeing the child that it was Rin. She followed the noise to Rin's room where there was an open window. She raced to it and nearly tripped over her own feet in her attempts to find the source of distress.

Kagome stuck her head out the window and saw Rin on the ground three stories below, crying. Despite two skinned knees that were bleeding steadily Rin appeared unharmed.

"Rin-Chan!" Kagome cried out, steadily climbing through the window and nearly falling off the fire escape in her haste to reach the little girl. Rin looked up, her wide brown eyes—the same shape as Inuyasha's—staring up at the girl as she progressed downwards.

"Kago-go-go-go-meeeee!" the little girl cried out, Kagome's own name sounding like a strange siren as it was shattered by a loud sob from the little girl.

Kagome reached the ground and knelt beside the little girl, grabbing her and wrapping her into the older girl's embrace. "Thank God you're okay! I was so worried! Where have you been?"

"I… I…" Rin kept crying. Kagome patted her back. "I didn't want to come home because I didn't think that Inuyasha would wa-a-ahhhh!" The little girl broke off into a heart-breaking sob and sniffled, rubbing her nose against Kagome's shoulder.

Kagome didn't seem to mind. She continued soothing Rin as best she could, running her hand along the back of her head and back, rubbing it gently and whispering the little girl's name.

"I," Rin hiccupped, "I didn't think that Inu-oniichan didn't want me anymore!"

She gripped Kagome tightly, continuing to cry.

"But then I ended up back here anyway and I was saaaaaad!" she trailed off into another sob and her back heaved as she tried to regain control of her breathing. "I want Inu-oniichan to love me, too. I want to live with Inu-oniichan!"

Kagome cooed quietly to Rin, rubbing her back and rocking her. She didn't care if they were sitting on the side of a street, cushioned between two buildings, she had to take care of Rin.

"Rin-Chan," Kagome soothed. "Inuyasha loves you, too. He didn't mean to get mad at you. He wanted to… Sometimes people lose their tempers and say things that they don't mean."

Rin stared up at her, tears brimming her eyes and spilling over like twin waterfalls. The brown depths wavered and the girl blinked a couple times, willing the tears to leave her brown orbs. She rubbed her eyes and ducked her head. Kagome smiled at the little girl's attempts.

She patted Rin's head. "Let's go inside. Inuyasha is running around looking for you. We need to call him so that he can come home."

Rin nodded meekly. "Okay."

Kagome grabbed Rin's hand and led her upstairs Rin's little house.

Inuyasha marched home, dejected. It was pitch dark and he knew that there was no hope of finding Rin anytime that night. It killed him inside to leave Rin all alone in the city. She was probably cold, alone, and afraid. He hated the mere thought. But he couldn't find her.

He'd have to call the police and they could begin searching for her. Or was he supposed to wait another day? Were there rules for missing children?

The young man hated thinking about such things and trooped on, refusing to linger on one thought for too long. He banished all thoughts of Rin being hurt or dead. He banished all thoughts of never finding her again.

"Things will be better tomorrow," he vowed. He'd find Rin and he'd never let her out of his sights again. He sighed as he passed under a tree and looked up at the streetlamp as it beamed down at him its strange, unearthly golden glow.

He paused under the spotlight produced by the streetlamp. He gazed up at it, watching as moths weaved around the unnatural light. The city climbed upwards towards the sky around him. He felt hollow. He felt alone.

Why couldn't he protect Rin the way he should?

The moth danced across the light, casting a tiny shadow at his feet.

His amethyst eyes lowered and he sighed deeply, stuffing his hands into his pockets. How could he explain to Kagome that he'd lost Rin? How could he explain to Kagome how he'd managed to push her out of his life? How could he explain to Kagome the shame of his family and the darkness that danced in the section of his memories he couldn't even remember?

He moved out from under the light, feeling blinded and lost. This was all his fault. Everything had been going so well and he'd taken a painful step backwards and it'd launched into something as ridiculous as this.

Why was he such an idiot?

If he'd pushed aside his anger and disappointment in the idea of Rin actually missing his mother—which was a perfectly understandable idea—then this never would have happened. Why was he so jealous over a woman who'd rightfully loved Rin and raised her? He'd had no part in Rin's five years and only now, suddenly, could he even begin to consider being a father.

"I'm a shitty father," he told his feet as he walked and kicked a pebble for good measure. He was a crappy person, on top of that. Why were people like him allowed to live anyways?

He scrunched up his face, feeling as if he were carrying a dead weight on his back.

"I'm sorry, Rin," he told his feet again. His feet didn't respond. He wouldn't want them to even if they could. He didn't feel like having a profound conversation with anyone or anything—especially his shoes.

"Inu-oniichan!" a voice called out.

Great, maybe a conversation with shoes would be better than having hallucinations. Inuyasha sighed deeply and rubbed his forehead, willing his pulsing headache away. Maybe his shoes wouldn't sound like Rin's melodious voice?

"Inu-oniichan!" a voice repeated. Suddenly, it hit him.

Inuyasha whipped his head up to see himself on a familiar street with a familiar person running towards him followed closely by another, older familiar person. "Inu-oniichan!"

"Rin!" he shouted, realizing that the little girl was running towards him, disregarding the lights on the crosswalk as she crossed the block in order to reach him. Kagome quickly launched into a trot to catch up to the two, smiling widely at the look on Inuyasha's face.

For once, Inuyasha didn't care what other people thought. Rin was okay! Rin was okay! He started running to meet her, but he didn't have to go far. Rin was right there! Rin was okay!

He watched, shocked, as Rin met him and launched into his arms, wrapping her tiny arms around his neck. He barely had time to register the girl's flight plan before he fell to his knees and held her tightly, holding her as if he were afraid to let her go and let her disappear from his life.

He gripped her tightly and the little girl did a strange mixture between laughter and sobbing. He held her tightly and rocked her, trying to solidify that this was truly Rin and not some terrible, horrible dream.

"She came home about an hour ago," Kagome explained as she reached the two. Her blue eyes were wavering. "But your phone was dead and I couldn't reach you."

The only indication that Inuyasha heard her was the nod of his head. He gripped Rin tightly and didn't say anything—he listened to Rin's sobs and laughter. He listened to Rin gush about how sorry she was. He listened to Kagome's reassurances to Rin that Inuyasha was only shocked, not angry. He listened and said nothing.

Everything was okay. He knew everything would be okay. The two most important people in his life were here with him. Everything was perfect. Nothing could possibly ruin this. Nothing.

"What a glorious way to end this summer vacation, huh?" Kagome said warmly, watching the two, happy to see the odd family reunited once again. Inuyasha stared at her in shock.


Kagome gave him a dry look and then laughed. "Don't tell me that you actually forgot that the second term is starting tomorrow?"

"What?" Inuyasha repeated, louder this time, demonstrating that he had, indeed, forgotten all about school.

Rin laughed and tightened her hold on Inuyasha. She smiled brightly at the two teenagers before her. Kagome's eyes softened and she gently touched Rin's head. Inuyasha snorted, trying to save face to his obviously childish reaction to the knowledge of school starting up again.

So, everything was going back to normal. Everything was ending in such a flash.

He looked at Rin and the little girl stared at him, her brown eyes glowing. And that's when he saw it. It was almost unnoticeable. Right near her pupil, teasing the edges of brown, was the tiniest rings of lavender. The lavender part of the iris was nearly hidden by Rin's pupils. So that was it, then. Lavender eyes came from his mother's side of the family. There was no way Mari or her husband could have lavender eyes.

He stared at Rin. Truly, he had been blind. Just as Mr. Higurashi had. Rin looked almost exactly like Mari but he could see it. They had the same type of hair, he remarked to himself as he felt the silkiness of her hair. And as Kagome said, their ears, noses, and eye shape were almost exactly alike.

So that was that, then.

He couldn't avoid it any longer.

Rin was his daughter.

Now that Rin was in his arms, everything felt like it would go back to normal. Everything was returning to the way it had been.

Yet, everything had changed. There was a difference between the three of them. Something had changed and Inuyasha wasn't sure if that was a good or a bad thing. He looked at Kagome and their eyes locked.

Kagome smiled warmly, and she looked so incredibly beautiful that Inuyasha nearly tipped over. Her blue eyes watched the interaction between the two and she smiled warmly, her pink cheeks dimpling.

"I'll go and make a late dinner, if you'd like?" Kagome questioned. Inuyasha gave her the barest of nods, staring at her as if only seeing her for the first time. Kagome smiled and excused herself, letting father and daughter have a moment alone.

Everything was as it should be.

Months passed, as they often did. That was the way time worked. It stopped for no man. The second term flew by, as it was opt to do and students hustled around. With the onset of the cultural festival and the pending approach of graduation, the third year students were on the edge of their seats for days on end.

The day of graduation dawned bright and sunny. As he walked down the hallway, Inuyasha was hit with a sense of nostalgia. He'd hated high school with a passion, mostly because he spent the better half of it by himself. Yet, here he was.

He frowned as he took his assigned seat. Cushioned between Shiho Hiko and Shinimoto Kagura, Shinkanshi Inuyasha felt extremely uncomfortable, mostly because he didn't know the two girls and also because he was nowhere near where Rin sat with his grandfather in the back of the gym. Some ways up he could just make out Higurashi Kagome and a ways before her Endo Miroku. Myou Sango sat almost right in front of him by a couple rows but he still didn't know her too well despite Kagome's attempts to get them to hang out.

After everyone was seated the principle got on the stand and made his speech. "Students, parents, and honored guests… it is my pleasure to introduce to you this year's graduating class. Graduation marks a new day in…"

Inuyasha tuned out the principles announcement and instead gazed at the backs of the heads of all his fellow classmates, some of whom he'd never even spoken to. They all seemed to be dazing off, too, recalling distant memories of their high school years. After this, he'd probably never see the majority of them again. It was a strange feeling, but he didn't think it was a sad feeling.

He sighed and noticed Hiko glance at him. She'd been one of the girls in his class to obsess over him for the better part of the year. He blamed Rin for that. He'd grown used to it, however, and learned to simply tune them out or hand them over to Miroku, who was all too happy to oblige—provided Sango wasn't nearby to notice his playboy charms.

Quickly he realized that the students' names were being called and the principle had finished his monotonous speech. He watched as Miroku got his diploma and winked at the school representative, who pointedly ignored him. Students filed past, their names called, and their diplomas received, and Inuyasha still felt as if he were walking through a dream.

What was school to him? Was it anything, really?

Even when he got his diploma things seemed to be wavering like a dreamscape. He'd be happy to leave. He was starting to feel queasy.

He glanced at Kagome as he passed and she was smiling at him, a diploma grasped in her hands and tears in her eyes. Well, Kagome was certainly tearing up, as were the majority of female students, but that was life for you.

After all the diplomas were passed out, the students were instructed to sing the school song, to which only half did so. Then special awards were handed out and Miroku was overly enthusiastic when Sango received the highest culminating grade point average certificate.

This was his life.

Would it be different once he left these walls?

He relayed the question to Kagome as they walked home, Rin grasping his free hand. He looked at Kagome and the girl seemed to be thinking.

"I think everyday is different," she finally said, twirling her skirt around her legs and tapping Rin on the head with her diploma. "That's just the way things are. Are you going to a university?"

The sudden question surprised Inuyasha and he thought about it. "I never took entrance exams, so no. I'll have to take care of Rin. She'll be going into grade school next term, right?"

He looked down at Rin and the little girl nodded happily. "I'll be in the first grade!"

"Did you make any of the entrance exams requirements?" Inuyasha asked.

"Yes!" the newly graduated schoolgirl beamed, looking extremely pleased with herself. "I got accepted to Tokyo U! I'll be going with Sango, too."

Inuyasha stared at her in shock. "I hadn't realized you were that smart."

"Jeez, Inuyasha," Kagome said with a tiny frown. He could see amusement in her eyes.

"What? Like I'm going to notice unimportant stuff like that," Inuyasha protested.

"Now that's rude," Kagome said stubbornly, giving him a deep look and crossing her arms. "I'm smart, you know. Who helped you with your English homework this entire second semester?"

At first Inuyasha thought that maybe Kagome was angry with him, but then he saw the tiniest shadows of a smile and knew that she was only joking with him.

Inuyasha didn't respond because he didn't feel like giving Kagome the pleasure of receiving such an answer from him. Kagome made a small 'har-umpth' sound and marched on ahead with Rin, who skipped along beside her and released Inuyasha's hand.

He watched them go and sighed. They reached the apartment building and the boy knew that he had to speak to Kagome. He'd put it off for weeks now. Every time he tried to talk to Kagome he'd lose his nerve or something would come up. But he had to do it now. He just had to.

"Rin, go on upstairs, I need to talk to Kagome for a second," he commanded. Both girls paused for just a moment before one continued on up the stairs and the other gave him a disbelieving look.

Kagome looked at him expectantly and Inuyasha frowned, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his slacks—the last time he'd probably wear this ridiculous uniform.

Kagome tilted her head to the side. "You wanted something?"

"Eh… yeah," Inuyasha muttered, unsure where to start. "Kagome… I…"

Kagome clasped her hands in front of her and dipped her head down. Inuyasha licked her dry lips and swallowed the lump in his throat. Even though he was graduated Kagome always managed to make him feel like a flipping schoolboy.

Kagome toed the ground and he could see her stiffen with each second of silence that passed by.

"I like you," Kagome said suddenly and Inuyasha blinked in surprise. "I've always liked you. I know you probably already know… but I figure I should tell you, anyway."

Well, he hadn't been expecting that. He'd been the one to pull her aside, anyway. He stared at her and saw the red creeping up her neck and touching the tips of her ears. Black hair spilled over her shoulder and she refused to meet his gaze.

"That's… I've wanted to say that for a long time," Kagome said at last.

"You…" Inuyasha trailed off. "You're so stupid."

Kagome visibly flinched.

"Why would anyone like me?" he questioned quietly. Kagome's shoulders slacked a bit but she refused to look at him. Hesitantly, feeling like an unsure middle school boy, Inuyasha grasped her hand and pulled her a couple steps towards him. Kagome's other hand came up and touched his chest, blocking her descent into him. She cleared her throat and her entire face burned brighter than a fire truck.

"There are plenty of reasons to like you, Inuyasha," she said at last, staring at his chest as she said this and never looking up into his face, afraid of what she might see there.

So this is what it'd come down to? He'd known that she'd liked him for months, after all, long before graduation, long before the incident with Rin, just after summer vacation started. Or, perhaps, he'd known that she'd liked him even before then.

His hand came up and he touched her cheek again, just as he had when he'd first visited her in her fatherly financed apartment. His fingers danced under her chin and tipped her face up. Kagome's blue eyes stared at him, wavering with her emotions.

"Whatever you have to say, say it, please," Kagome murmured, fear tickling the corners of her irises. Inuyasha released a long breath of air he hadn't known he'd been holding.

Hesitantly, he leaned forward and their foreheads crashed into one another with a tiny thump. Kagome giggled nervously and Inuyasha offered her an embarrassed smile. So that was that, then.

"I, uh, like you, too," he said uncertainly and Kagome almost burst out laughing at his hesitant facial expression. Instead, she released a tiny hiccup that could have been a happy sob, but neither were very sure because they were kissing and that's all that really mattered.

Neither had truly kissed before, and the kiss they shared mainly involved teeth clinking together and noses bumping into one another, but neither seemed to truly care all that much; it was the best kiss they'd ever had.

Inuyasha felt as if a huge weight had lifted from his shoulders. He felt lighter than air. Lighter than anything. He held Kagome tightly, as if she were his anchor.

They pulled apart hesitantly only for both to offer hesitant, shy smiles and descend upon their lips again, collecting a small sigh from each.

"Inu-oniichan!" Rin whined and Inuyasha pulled quickly away from Kagome, smashing into the wall in the process. He cursed loudly as his head slammed uncomfortably against the solid wall. Kagome stared at him in shock, her entire body stilled by his bold action.

"W-what, Rin?" Inuyasha croaked as he touched the spot on his forehead where he'd smashed painfully into the wall.

"The door was locked," Rin said, realizing she'd intruded on something. Both of the new graduates were blushing brightly. She laughed and reached up her hands to her father. Inuyasha sighed and gave Kagome an apologetic look before scooping her up.

"Fine," he groused, unhappy with being interrupted. "Let's get the hell out of the front hall and go unlock the flipping door, shall we?"

Kagome laughed nervously as she followed after the father and daughter, her blue eyes sparkling with a new emotion, hidden beneath the many layers of embarrassment and nervousness.

This was his life. And even if he'd graduated high school, he was still very much the same. Things changed slowly, he realized idly as he unlocked the door for Rin and the little girl skipped inside happily. This was his life.

Yet, he wouldn't change it for the world.

He paused before crossing the threshold of his home and turned to Kagome. The said girl smiled at him and he smiled back, opening up his hand and offering it to her. She happily took a step forward and wrapped her fingers around it.

"Congratulations on getting into Tokyo U, by the way," Inuyasha said suddenly as if the thought had just hit him. Kagome laughed and nodded her head.

"Congratulations on graduating," Kagome offered hesitantly. Her smile widened.

Outside the bright blue sky harbored snow white clouds that lolled sleepily with the wind. Hanging low on the horizon the crescent moon conspicuously danced between the wind-blown clouds.

He looked out the window and watched the way the clouds danced along the sky. This was his life. And he loved it this way.

Kagome refused to release his hand and Rin refused to release his attentions. He had a feeling things were going to be like this for a long while, but it offered him some comfort to know he wasn't alone anymore.

Together, he had a feeling Kagome and Rin could melt his cold heart. That idea alone was enough to make him feel incredibly happy.

Tonight, he decided, it wouldn't matter if there were stars or not, he would be happy regardless.

Author's notes: And that, my friends, is the last chapter of Daughters.