Disclaimer: I don't own Rin-ne at all or Naraku, who pops up in this story at some point.
Notes: Possible spoilers up to chapter 89. Angst. Character deaths. Some RxS. Some swearing. Slight violence. Vague sentences. Oocness.
To My Father
I write this to you, old man, because this is how you make me feel, every minute of every day. I wonder how you can be so stupid with your decisions, how you can keep lying to me, your own flesh and blood, every day and keep that fake smile on your face.
I hate you.
The first time that Sabato asked Rinne to borrow money, the sort-of shinigami had been four. He'd already taken to collecting spare change wherever he could find it, under couches, behind the washing machine, under the bed... He searched everywhere for it.
He'd been too young to understand that money had value, had power to acquired new and wonderful luxuries like food and shelter. No, he'd like the coins because of the texture and different alloys of metal. He enjoyed looking at his grandfather's textbooks, from the human world, all describing elements of the periodic table, how they meshed together in chemistry. Rinne liked how shiny the new coins were and the old character that scratched and worn ones had.
His grandmother had laughed she'd seen him using a few yen coins to skip across the water or line up as little saucers for his kitten figurines. She'd given a piggy bank for his next birthday and he told her that he'd treasure it.
It wasn't a big surprise to see his father tumbling through his bedroom window. It happened often and Rinne was always glad to see him, demanding a hug. But Tamako and his grandfather never seemed happy to see Sabato. They told him to leave immediately whenever Sabato ignored Rinne in favour of asking them for money.
Rinne didn't see why Sabato wanted so much money for. Maybe to play a few more games? He wondered if his father would hug him if he gave him his piggy bank.
So he did.
Sabato's face had brightened and he had proclaimed how touched he was to have such a loving son.
But he did not hug Rinne.
Instead, he ran out the door, laughing gleefully, leaving a little boy cold and alone.
Didn't you realize how much I needed you? A father and not a con man?
Rinne would ask his grandparents why his father hated him. Tamako would only turn her face away, hiding the tears that Rinne knew were there. His grandfather would draw him into a warm embrace and Rinne would think this is how hugging my father will feel.
So when Sabato came back one day, months later and had a strange tale about debtors after him and needing a partner to sign his contract, Rinne (stupidly, naively) signed it.
He knew that his grandparents had warned him never to speak to his father again without consulting them first. He knew that very clearly. But Rinne had seen the desperate look in Sabato's eyes, the torn expression that promised that things would be fixed ("We'll be a family again," he'd promised, but that was a lie, it was always a lie) and the kind smiles.
Rinne didn't want to disappoint him.
He signed it because Sabato was his father and he loved him. He signed it because Sabato had promised a fatherly hug.
When it was done, Rinne felt no different. He didn't know that he'd signed his life away.
What he did know was that Sabato's hug was just a cold as his leaving and Rinne never asked for one again.
Of course not. You only cared about yourself. You still do. You always do. I learned that the hard way.
His days passed on. Rinne turned five. He still believed that he could make his father love him.
But seeing that day in the park changed everything.
He'd been playing outside, with a new toy scythe and was chasing a few rabbits down the path. He imagined that he was his grandmother, a great shinigami who would guide all souls to their proper path.
Then he heard the laughter, the familiar laughter.
It was the first time that Rinne had seen Kain. But this time, Kain was with his mother, glaring sullenly at the strange man who was holding her and spinning her in circles.
His father was that man.
Rinne felt his heart freeze.
Sabato was gesturing to Kain, laughing, "Oh lighten up, boy, I'm going to be like a father to you soon."
Like a father.
Like a father...
"Papa..." The word left his lips.
I thought you loved my mama, he thought desperately. You told me that you loved her and she went far away but I don't understand, why are you betraying mama? Why are you betraying me?
He ran back home and didn't speak to anyone for the rest of the day.
Later he learned that the tale with his mother was a lie. His heart broke. In the years to come, he would stop believing anything that his father said all together.
If not for me, than couldn't you have been a better man for your parents, my grandparents?
He hears them talking sometimes, in the night. Tamako cries. His grandfather tries to be strong, but Rinne knows that when granny is asleep his grandfather will cry too.
Sometimes they look at him oddly. When he laughs, they will get a far off look in their eyes. When he says a joke the look returns. Sometimes Rinne hears them say, "He looks just like his father" or "he smiles just like his father."
Rinne stops smiling after that. He keeps his face blank. He tries not to smile. And if he does, it's a small one.
He will not be like his father.
And if Sabato flinches away in his rare visits, because Rinne calls him an "old man" instead of "papa" than so be it.
This man is not worthy of being called his father.
You broke their hearts in the end. It killed grandpa when you didn't come to see him pass on. But by then, I already knew what kind of man you were.
Rinne remembered when his grandpa died. Tamako stayed his side the whole time, holding his hand and murmuring that they'd meet again. She'd visit him, even if he was a salmon. She would keep a tab on his soul for her whole existence until he was a human again and they fell once more in love.
"Always," she murmured, "I will always love you."
But grandfather was delirious at this time. He didn't recognize much besides Tamako, his dearest. When he stared at Rinne, he called out for Sabato again.
"Where is my son? Where is he? I want to tell him that I'm sorry I didn't take care of him more properly. I want to tell him that I love him. Sorry I failed... Sabato."
Trembling, Rinne pretended to be Sabato, because at that moment, his grandfather couldn't tell the difference. He was so close, so close to going towards the wheel of reincarnation.
"F...father," the word rushed out hesitantly on his lips. "I'm here. It's alright. You didn't fail me. You were the most wonderful parent I could ever ask for. You taught me compassion and all sorts of lessons of life. You let me live. I love you. I'll miss you always."
And when his grandfather smiled widely, saying, "Thank goodness" before he fell limp against his pillow, Rinne realized that every word he said was true.
He lost a father (a real father) that day.
And he cried.
I hate that you always smile.
Everything is taken away from him.
Rinne lives on the streets, taking the burden of his shinigami duties very seriously because they are the only thing that makes sense to him anymore. It helps him earn a living, helps him survive (just barely) on canned goods and living out of boxes. He begins to see the world as a huge gap between the rich and the poor, realizes how low he is and how unworthy he is of luxury.
(After all, he was a boy who couldn't even make his grandparents happy, he reminded them too much of the son they'd lost.)
Postcards find him. Even when Rinne is on the streets, his father tries to see him. Only this time Sabato tries to convince Rinne to join him in the damashigami company, insists that he will take care of Rinne.
Rinne rips up the postcards.
The next time he sees Sabato, the man is intruding on his shelter (a sewer tunnel, but still better than nothing) with an infuriating smile. The old man is rambling about how Rinne should be glad to be out of his grandpa's custody. Calls Grandpa a stifling buffoon who doesn't like the riches of the world with that bloody same smile.
Rinne punches him in the face.
They don't see each other for a long time after that.
And the danger that you put Sakura Mamiya through! I can never forgive you for that. You had no right to try and coerce her to marry me. What were you playing at? And then threatening to kill her if I didn't join you?
You make me sick.
Rinne had always been protective of Sakura. He wasn't sure when it had began. Maybe the first encounter with her, when he'd needed to borrow money to exorcise the chihuahua and school boy to the wheel. Maybe it'd been when Sakura had always walked to her death in the spirit world and he'd caught her from falling or perhaps when she'd almost died, when Masato had attacked her.
He tried to think of her respectfully, not to intrude on her space or burden her with his feelings. But it was difficult with the exorcist Tsubasa competing for her attention and Ageha trying to coerce him into a relationship with her. When Sabato got involved, Rinne felt sour, as if his relationship with Sakura was being rendered into the simplistic lust-filled flings that his old man had with countless women.
Sabato thought that Rinne was playing both women, Ageha and Sakura. He'd make scandalous comments about their figures which made Rinne want to rip him apart. He'd try to convince Rinne to marry Sakura (when marriage was a far off dream, an impossibility for him, for who would want to marry anyone like him?) His father had been growing to be more of a nuisance lately, trying to convince Rinne to "take up the mantle" as damashigami present.
But then Sabato had gotten a stupid idea.
He appeared one day, when Sakura and Rinne were walking home together. Rinne had wanted to escort her personally. There were rumours of an odd murderer lately, someone who killed and demanded debts repaid in blood... Rinne didn't want to take any chances.
Sabato just appeared from behind a corner, taking Sakura into his hold and pointing a scythe at her neck.
"Hello Rinne-kun," he said cheerfully.
Instantly Rinne pulled out his own weapon, pointing it towards his father's neck, glowering dangerously.
"Let her go."
"Now that's just rude. What happened to calling me Papa?" Sabato had said cheerfully.
Sakura only looked uncomfortable, responding as calm as anyone could when threatened at scythe-point. "Could you please stop pointing that at me? I'd really like to get some homework done today."
"What do you want?" Rinne demanded.
"Why, for you to join me by my side as damashigami president!" He remarked as if they were discussing who won the soccer game on television.
"Then your fiancée will die," Sabato shrugged.
"Well that's not very nice," Sakura frowned.
Rinne went pale.
"Leave her out of this. This is between you and me."
"Well, technically, since she's getting married into this family, this will involve her too," the damashigami president pointed out. "And if you agree to join me, then I don't have to do this and then we can all go to Las Vegas for a spectacular wedding party. They have good beef there."
"Never," Rinne hissed fiercely, ignoring Sabato's bribes of food (that would never work, no matter how starving Rinne was), "I won't bring her into this. She doesn't need to suffer for my mistakes."
"I don't mind it," Sakura remarked. "I choose to do this, you know, just like how I choose to do this," and then she proceeded to kick his father in the groin, prompting the man to release her.
She stumbled out and Rinne pulled her behind him. She cast him a bemused glance. "I can take care of myself, see? Besides, you're always looking out for me. I trust you."
Rinne felt like he could have breathed in water or grown wings, but that moment was ruined by Sabato rising, yelling that Rinne had to join him.
So Rinne knocked him out.
He wouldn't let the old man take this away from him too.
I hate you so much, but you know what makes it worse?
His friends are captured, everyone from the school—Tsubasa, Rika, Miho, Sakura and even Ageha—tied together. One by one they will be butchered and sliced open in front of him.
He knows this because the villain in front of him is the murderer, he is a man called Naraku and he claims that Rinne owes him cash. Rinne has nothing... so Rinne will pay in blood.
Naraku has already killed Rika and Miho, while Sakura and Rinne had screamed themselves hoarse from the horror (Rinne from being unable to save them, Sakura because they were her friends).
"Stop, please stop," Rinne pleads. "Don't take them away... please..."
But Naraku only leers. "Then your father should have paid up. If there is anyone to blame, it is him..."
Cold rushes into Rinne. He knows this. This is all Sabato's fault and consequently, Rinne's, because anyone involved with Rinne will be dragged into this hell that is debt, with all the pain that comes with it.
There are footsteps. Rinne can hear Ageha sobbing quietly. She stopped fighting a while ago when Naraku had put up a strange field that muted shinigami powers. Tsubasa is shaking, telling Sakura to be strong and that he won't let her die.
Rinne wishes he never met her. Then they wouldn't be in this situation now. Then she wouldn't be in danger.
But Sakura, Sakura after crying for her friends, is only silent.
"Take me next," she says.
And everything seems to fall away.
"NO!" Rinne and Tsubasa shout.
"Mamiya-san, what are you doing? Why? Don't, take me, take me!" Tsubasa roars. "Don't kill her, not before me!"
"Stop it, this is for the best. Better me than anyone else. I don't want to see any of you die," Sakura chokes, "Not like... not like..."
"Damn it!" Rinne shouts. "Just kill me instead! I'm the one you want. I'm the one with the joint contract with Sabato, just leave them alone! Leave them alone!"
Of course, Naraku only smiles.
"Well then, I had no idea you loved them so much. Perhaps I should kill them both together? Your beloved and the man who is your rival for her affections? They'll die together, immortal lovers, while you watch and envy."
Then he raises his knife, already stained in crimson—
But then Tamako, Kain and the other clerk shinigami are there, smashing through the windows and throwing their weapons at the offending murderer. Naraku shrinks back, dodging the attacks and shouting that he will have his debts collected if it's the last he does.
So he turns on Rinne, laughing insanely, ready to stab Rinne in the heart, to kill him, just like Rinne wanted in the first place but now there's regret and (SakuraI'msosorrybehappywithTsubasa,tellmygrandmaIloveherandI'llseeyouinthenextlife—)
There is blood.
No matter how much I hate you...
It's not his blood.
There is a body.
It's not his body.
And there are tears...
Those are his.
Hands clutching, screaming, asking one question. "Why? Why, why, why, WHY?"
Sabato smiles at him, but this time it is a broken smile, hesitant and pale, "Because... this... is a debt... of mine... that I don't... want you... to inherit..."
And then it's cold again. Always cold.
You are still my father.
Sabato had been the one to betray his fellow damashigami Naraku, earning a debt that went beyond trillions of yen. Unpleased when Sabato hadn't paid him back, Naraku decided to go on a killing spree, killing any who had a connection with the damashigami president.
Apparently Sabato had been the one to alert the shinigami headquarters of Naraku when his son had gone missing.
It doesn't matter now, not when Tamako looks like she's lot half of her soul and is grieving alone by grandfather's grave, asking why it has all come to this. Not when Rinne can't seem to move his feet from the marking stone that they set in the shinigami court, a stone for every shinigami ever born (half or not).
He can't say anything. His head is numb. He wants to throw up and yet he doesn't. He feels cold, so cold, that he fears he'll never be able to feel anything again.
"I hate you," he says quietly to the grave.
It merely looks back at him.
SABATO ROKUDO, it reads, BELOVED SON AND FATHER.
Lies. All of it lies.
"I hate you!" He thinks he roars. He must, because he can't remember his throat being this sore before. "I hate you, I hate you so much, how could you be my father at the last moment? How could you? I hate you! You have no idea how much I wish that I'd killed you myself, stupid old man!"
And then he feels warmth, an embrace from behind.
He turns, half-startled and disorientated.
It's Sakura and she is staring down at him sadly.
"It's alright," she says quietly. "It's alright."
Then he is pressed against her, releasing his anguish in warm tears because he knows that what Sakura really means to say.
And I loved you. I loved you and hated you so much. Nothing you did was perfect. You were a horrible man; I can't forgive your mistakes. I can't. You caused me so much pain, did things that ruined me and scared me forever but I loved you and hated you despite it all.
And it's alright.
Dad, I love you.
But I hate you too.
And now you know why.
Author dedication: To my own father. Like Rinne, I hate and I love you too because the things you do, the debts you demand, hurt us all and you never seem to really care.