Title: Hate Me

Author: Duchess of Darkness

Rating: Pg – Pg13 (basically for the language and mental images you might get)

Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Dragon Knights. All credit to the original stuff goes to Okami Mineko.

Warning: To those who haven't read very far, this kind-of takes place in the middle of vol7. A bit of stuff from the more recent volumes (v14, for example) are mentioned. So... yeah, a few spoilers to readers who haven't read that far.

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"Don't you know how much everyone worries about you? You are an idiot. Do you hate the Dragon Clan that much? Is that it? You hate being part of the Dragon Clan?"

"Yes! I hate them! I hate them all! The Dragon Lord, the Dragon Officers, everyone! Lykouleon, Ruwalk, Kai-stern, and Thatz, too! I know they care and worry about me. They really like me and I can't stand it! That's why I hate them! It doesn't make sense, does it?!"

"They still care. Everyone who knows the truth about you, right?!"

Rath wrapped the sheets tighter around him. Why was that girl so damn nosey? She promised to keep him alive, but what use was that when he always looked for danger and she was always getting herself into trouble? Burying his head in his hands, he tried to force the memories and voices away. They were killing him. He shouldn't have left the Castle. But then again, if he didn't, he would be surrounded by those horrid Dragons... Not to mention, Cesia would surely die if he didn't sneak out. Poor Zoma, he thought, doubling as him. Hopefully, he wasn't ratted out yet. Most likely yes...

The sound of fire crackling turned his attention to the girl lying across the fire from him. Her back faced him, but he could tell she was asleep by her even and deep breathing. "Stupid," he whispered.

Cradling himself, Rath turned up to face the midnight sky. Stars faintly blinked in and out of the sky. The way the stars winked at him and then stopped shining reminded Rath of how his hope, will, and life itself was dwindling. He didn't care. Let his life slip away from everyone. Let them cry out to him and try to pull him back. What would it matter? He wanted the pain to stop. It would never stop until he was dead.

He welcomed death. It was gracious to him. What else could he ask for? He'd be free of his curse, free of his duties, free of that stupid girl, free of all hassles, free of everything. He wanted to die, but he never openly walked into a trap of death unprepared. For some reason, a part of him wanted to go fighting. He didn't know why that part of him couldn't just let him go, couldn't just let him slip under, deep into blissful peace...

He always fought. He searched for demons high and low just to challenge himself and kill them. He was so discouraged then they ended up being weaklings. Where were the strong demons? Where was the challenge? Where was his walk of death! He wanted someone, something, to take him on and rough him up. He didn't want a piss battle with the psycho demon-girl. He didn't need a lecture while he was shedding blood, whether it was his own or his enemies. He wanted a battle, like with Bierrez, with a clash of swords and powers. The scent in the air that day was so strong, Rath almost thought he would lose himself in the ecstasy of battle. Oh, the joy! What he wouldn't give to go back in time and face Bierrez again.

He missed a good fight. ...Everything was so boring, now. Damn the Officers for being too paranoid about him and caring about him. Damn Kai-stern for knowing all he did. His little secret box, Kai-stern was a friend and an enemy. Rath remembered... the Alchemist. Where was he when he needed him? Was that damn demon on vacation? Or was he preparing another luscious creation for him to destroy. Oh, the pain of each village they passed.

Rath could nearly consider himself more than the demon he was proclaimed to be. The greater the terror in each city, town or village, the greater and more troublesome the beast, and greater it whetted his appetite for blood. The blood of demons. The lost brethren he knew. Bathed in a shower of blood and innards, Rath relished the thought. He imagined himself covered in the sickening product, bodies about his feet, his blood mixing with their own, running off his clothes and skin, falling from the corners of his eyes like sorrow-filled, blood-basted tears.

The mental image made him writhe in joy and horror. He was so different now... From the beginning of his adventure with Water Dragon Knight Rune, and Earth Dragon Knight Thatz, off to behead the Demon King, to now, traveling North to Mt. Mfartha. So full of joy and seemingly careless, Rath missed the days he could easily hide his sorrow and pain and just get on his day with a swipe of his sword. So many comedic adventures, when Nadil's head was swiped and switched for Guardian Dragon of Fire by Cesia in their earlier encounters. He could laugh at their troubles now, but because of such a turn of events, Rath could only bite at his lip and wish away his thoughts. The happy times were over.

Ever since he'd known, he was locked up in the Castle, forced to learn to sneak out past the guards and Officers. Alfeegi was the worst to hide from. If Rath wasn't careful, he'd have his hide roasted by the White Dragon Officer. They were wary of him... He hated it. Why couldn't they just get rid of him like an unwanted pup and let him get on with life without such pain and hatred in his heart?

Crickets pulled Rath out of his melancholy, reminding him of where he was and what he was supposed to be doing. But how could he sleep now? His mind was whirling with wicked and bad thoughts that should've been banished a long time ago.

"I was only joking. Where's your sense of humor? I've hated the taste of both humans and demons ever since I can remember. There's not way I would start eating them again."

"...You could eat me if you wanted to."

"I can't believe you!"

"Yeah, that's right. You vowed never to let me die."

"... Hey, there's something I left out about you earlier."

"??"

"A child. That's what you are."

"Hmph. A child, eh? Does that mean I'm cute?"

"To the Dragon Lord and the Officers?"

"You're mean. Not cute at all."

"Or maybe you just like to be babied."

"Yeah. That might be true."

Rath frowned. A child? Perhaps that was what he was. Perhaps this melancholy was just a phase. But... Damn those men for coddling him then suddenly condescending him. Where did the Dragon Lord get off treating him like a pet? One minute loving, then next scornful. Damn him! Damn them all! Rath didn't like them at all. Maybe he liked being the little pet to them, but it only went so far. With the way they acted around him, and the looks hidden in their eyes whenever they looked at him... it was sickening. He wanted to tear all their eyes out.

With an inward growl, Rath turned away from the dying fire and faced the sleeping forest. He hated this horrible feeling welling inside him. He wanted it all to go away. Why didn't it all wash away? With a sigh, Rath turned around onto his back again, laying an arm over his eyes. If he pressed hard enough, it would seem like the whole world was gone and he was drifting in a black void.

Save me... save me from the terrors of my heart, the casualties of my mind, the suffering of this skin I wear over others. Free me from the pain I endure every day I am with and without these people, without her.

Rath choked back a sob and wiped at his eyes as he felt wetness begin to form there. He didn't want to be angry. He didn't want to be sad. He didn't want to exist or so much as feel all these emotions. Why? Was he a child with selfish thoughts and desires? Did he really act so immaturely? Someone, he pleaded, take it away.

He welcomed death so graciously. He wanted it. He pleaded for it. And yet, he would not go down without a fight.

Hate me... hate me with all your might. Then, kill me. Kill me and release me from this pain....

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AN: This one-shot is different from my usual works, and I don't know exactly what caused me to make such a sad and disturbing fanfic. I'm not sure whom and how many would appeal to this terribly short story, but to those who read it, I hope you give me your honest opinion. It's not as long as I would like, but it certainly holds a lot of negative feeling to it. It's a bad fic to start with in the new year, but it's something new nonetheless. Please, please do leave a review. Thank you.

Created and Finished: 01.01.05