By: mshutts

WARNING: This is a very dark fic. It involves cutting of oneself. If that disgusts you, I would suggest you not read this.

I realize that Inuyasha may come off as being a bit out of character, but I am trying to take into account the type of past he has had. Yes, he is strong, but everyone comes up with their own coping mechanisms so that they can live their lives. This is one possibility that I can see.

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.

- - - - -

Inuyasha sat on a tree branch and closed his eyes. All he could see was red: the red of pain, the red of despair, the red of anguish. He quickly opened his eyes again and checked on his companions. They were all in various states of getting ready to sleep and none of them were paying him the slightest bit of attention.

With a sigh, he closed his eyes again. The red was still there. He had hoped it would disappear back to where it had come from but he knew that tonight it would not. No after what had occurred earlier today.

They had passed through a village. Nothing overly special about that, but there had been some children playing with a ball over to the side of one of the huts. He had felt drawn to them for some inexplicable reason. Or maybe not so inexplicable, playing ball was one of the strongest memories he had from his childhood after all. He had felt the urge to go join them, but, knowing that he would not be accepted in their game, stayed where he was, feeling foolish for having felt the urge in the first place.

None of his companions appeared to notice his lapse in attention, but it was just as well, they would not have understood the reason behind the desire anyway. They had all grown up with other children to play with after all. The idea of just being with smiling and laughing children and being accepted by them would not seem nearly as appealing to any of his companions, save perhaps Shippo, as it did to him. Besides that, he was no longer a child, it would be ridiculous for him to do something as absurd as play ball with the children.

That did nothing to quell the desire though. Even now, the idea taunted him in the back of his head. Told him what he already knew. He was not worthy of happiness. He was undeserving of joy. He would never be accepted. He would forever be an outcast. His life was just one overwhelming cycle of rejection.

He could hear the voices getting louder. They were now telling him how his current companions would leave him. How he would be all alone again. How they had never accepted him in the first place. How he had been a mistake that could only be corrected with his death.

He heard the voices and understood them. They knew the truth after all. It was the truth as he had always known it and he felt the ache that truth caused deep within his soul. He could feel himself sinking again.

Even in the midst of his anguish, he understood that he had a job to do: a duty to complete. He had to finish his self-appointed task before he could leave this world behind for good. As such, it once again became his job to hold back these thoughts of hate and despair and fear. He could not afford to allow them free reign. They would get too out of control.

With that thought in mind, he opened his eyes and raised his nose to the wind, trying to pick out the scent of a youkai. If he could find one, he could fight it and release some of this negative energy. Better yet, the youkai might manage to injure him and the physical pain would make the mental torment leave entirely, at least, momentarily. Sadly, his nose brought nothing to his attention.

With a sigh, he realized there was only one thing he could do to stop his thoughts from taking over his control. He glanced down at his companions. They had all fallen asleep by now. Once again leaning back and closing his eyes, he could feel the voices getting stronger, demanding to be heard.

Inuyasha brought his right hand up to his left forearm and raised the sleeve, baring his arm. Eyes still closed, he raked his claws deep into the flesh of his forearm. With the sting of the fresh wound and the throb of his blood, Inuyasha felt the thoughts recede slightly. He switched hands and repeated the action. Now the thoughts receded entirely, he was in a blissful world of pain where his destructive thoughts could not reach him.

With a small grin, he opened his eyes and looked at his arms, happy for the momentary reprieve, while he watched his blood flow red.