This is just a sample of the kind of one-shots I'll be doing in the Courtship universe. The idea came to me while I was halfway through Courtship of Kagome, and I wanted to get it out before it drove me nuts. I'm not so sure I'm happy with this piece, and I may have to do a re-write later, but I think I captured the basic idea.

Vocab:

Sochi: one of the many words I found for 'son'. Hopefully correctly used here.

Okaa-san: mother

Standard Disclaimer: He's a half-human, half-demon, fictional, under-aged cartoon; but for some reason I still find him damned attractive. Well, the important thing here is that he's not mine: Inuyasha, et. al. are the property of Rumiko Takahashi.

On the Outside, Looking In

He was doing it again. Sitting alone, staring into nothing with that heartbreaking sadness in his eyes. His shoulders were hunched over as though the entire world rested upon them.

Inuyasha recognized that look. He'd seen it in one too many crystal clear streams in his own youth. In days before he'd had friends and loved ones surrounding him. Before Kagome came into his life, giving him four beautiful pups and a reason to keep living. On those gloomy days, he'd watch the world go by wondering what he'd done to deserve the harsh penalty of being different. Ostracized by both demon and human alike even before he knew what being hanyou meant.

The boy continued staring, not hearing the hanyou approach from behind. His own ears much weaker than his father's and siblings'.

"Sochi, your mother has dinner waiting."

Kano bowed his head, his brown eyes hiding beneath ebony bangs, before standing to acknowledge his father. "I'm coming, Father."

"Wait, Kano."

The boy stopped his trek to the cozy, sturdily constructed hut that was their home and turned to face his father. "Hai?"

Inuyasha sat down on the boulder his son had been occupying and patted the space beside him. With hesitation, Kano came to sit next to him, wondering what he'd done wrong. Or perhaps, what his older brothers had blamed on him.

"You've been staring at the forest all day, Kano. Are you expecting someone?"

The boy had to stifle his smirk. Father wouldn't tolerate that kind of disrespect from any of his children. Well, perhaps from Saya. She was daddy's little girl, always getting her way. The apple of her father's eye. Kano sighed. Saya was an adorable six-year-old; he couldn't blame his father for being soft with her.

"Kano?"

"No, Father," he finally answered, bringing his eyes up to the inuhanyou. "I was just thinking."

Inuyasha nodded. "You've been doing that a lot lately," he noted.

The boy remained silent, wondering what exactly it was his father wanted from him. He didn't seem particularly angry, and Inuyasha wasn't known for hiding anger when it boiled up. No, his father wasn't here to punish him. The elder man seemed… concerned.

It was late in the day and the sun was beginning to sink below the treetops, the wind blowing early fall leaves around the air. Every now and then an orange ray would light upon the pair, bathing them in a serene stream of warmth. When the wind shifted, even Kano could smell the delicious scent of miso stew coming from his mother's kitchen. His stomach rumbled. He'd skipped lunch and was starting to suffer the consequences.

Still his father sat there, waiting for him to pour out his heart.

Like he'd understand, Kano snorted inwardly. What does he know about how I feel, being so different from my brothers and sister? Being the weakling outcast in a family full of demon and miko blood?

"I'm fine, Father. You don't need to worry about me."

"You're different," Inuyasha stated plainly.

Kano looked up at him, stunned by the abrupt comment. How was his father able to read him so well without a word between them?

Inuyasha sighed, and picked at the moss growing on their rock. "You think that I can't understand how isolated you feel, but you're wrong."

"How can you?" Kano shot back, forgetting obedience in his shock. "You've always been a strong demon, able to fight your way through anything! How can you possibly know what it's like to be stuck on the outside, looking in, feeling weak and helpless and … unwanted."

His youngest son's words cut Inuyasha to the core. Why would he think he was unwanted? As though he'd asked the question aloud, Kano answered him.

"I'm the only pure human in this family, Father. Even Okaa-san has miko powers! Jiro and Inuko, they spend all their time training so hard… I try to join them but I can't keep up, and hold them back. I get in the way. Even you, Father, have made it clear you don't want me around when you are teaching them. You think I'm weak. Maybe I am."

Horrified by the revelation, Inuyasha sat back and observed the downtrodden lurch in Kano's shoulders. Did his son really feel so lightly regarded? "Your body is different from your brothers' and my own. You're my youngest son and perhaps I do shelter you out of fear for your safety. But Kano, I don't think you are weak."

"Jiro and Inuko do."

"Do you believe you're weak?"

At this, Kano shifted his gaze out to the forest again. When he finally answered, his voice was so soft even he could barely distinguish it from the rustling leaves about them.

"No."

Inuyasha heaved a sigh, and leaned back onto his forearms. "I wasn't always strong, Kano. That came with time, effort and stubbornness. A lot of stubbornness. My mother and father died when I was young, and your uncle Sesshoumaru and I weren't exactly friends." Kano rolled his eyes in sympathy. "Oh no, not like you and your brothers. Sesshoumaru actually wanted me dead."

"I was younger than you, even, and all alone in the world. Occasionally a villager would pity me and offer some scraps of dinner, but mostly I was detested. I lived in the woods, slept in trees, trusted no one. It was a very lonely life."

Kano's eyebrows furrowed as he regarded his father. Inuyasha hadn't spoken much of his childhood, and he'd often wondered why.

"When I met your mother, I was an angry young hanyou eager to obtain as much power as I could get my claws on. I wanted nothing more than to terrorize the people who'd hurt me and be free of the fear for survival. I thought that power would bring me peace and fulfillment, but I was wrong. Your mother opened my heart to other options, and when I embraced a life with her I discovered my true strength came from within."

Inuyasha sat up again, and grasped his son's shoulder firmly, pulling Kano's gaze upward into his own. "I used to worry about Jiro and Inuko, because I knew how hard it was to straddle the gap between the human and demon worlds. When you were born, and I realized you were completely human, I felt such joy and relief. My little Kano wasn't going to have to make some of the tough decisions I did. I thought it would be simpler for you. Marry a human woman, live in a human village, play with human children."

"I want to be like you, Father," Kano whispered.

Inuyasha smiled at him proudly. "You already are, my son. In so many ways. You just need to find your desire – and fight for it."

At this, Kano's face broke out into the first genuine smile he'd smiled in weeks. "You really think I'm like you?"

"Hai."

"Arigato, Otou-san."

Inuyasha stood from the boulder and walked toward the hut as the sun gave off its last desperate rays of light. Kagome would be annoyed that they'd taken so long.

"Kano."

"Yes, Father?" The young man ran up to join the hanyou, peering up at him questioningly.

"Tomorrow we train – together. It is time you learned to wield the Tetsusaiga."

With that, he strode into the hut, leaving Kano to ponder his father's words.