Story: A Man's Worth
Summary: Kouga goes a bit too far with taunting Inuyasha, raking up old demons and raw wounds. Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru have a brotherly talk. Sesshoumaru does not appreciate anybody else picking on his little brother…Sess/Inu yaoi
Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha and make no money from the writing of this fic.
Warnings: This fic will contain yaoi, angst, incest. If you are not comfortable with this, then please leave.
Chapter 1 – Poison
The walls start breathing
My mind's unweaving
Maybe it's best you leave me alone.
-It Ends Tonight lyrics
Inuyasha scowled, scrubbing hard to clean the blood off his hands.
The demon had been big and surprisingly difficult to kill. Maybe he was out of practice. It had been a while, after all since the battle with Naraku and…what came after. But the worst part was always the blood. The smell of blood took forever to get off his hands.
Then he heard Kouga's taunting voice.
"So, dog face," Kouga drawled, "I heard a demon gave you quite an ass-whippin today."
Well, he hadn't technically been defeated, even though at one point, it had seemed pretty hopeless for him. Mind-fucking demons were always the worst. Inuyasha preferred the I'm-going-to-gut-you-like-a-fish-and-then-eat-you types. At least what you saw was what you got.
Inuyasha turned around, and snarled. "I beat him, ya stinkin' wolf! Or didn't you hear that?
Kouga had become a lot bolder now that Kagome was gone. The gentle priestess had been a mellowing influence on everyone but now that she was gone, things – and more to the point Kouga – returned to how they used to be.
Kouga waved his had dismissively. "Yeah but that's not the point. He almost had you beat, didn't he? You almost died. Heard you cried."
Inuyasha cringed. He was still a little shaky from the experience. Demons that fucked around with a person's mind and emotions and shit were really very bothersome and this one had been the most powerful so far. He hadn't known such demons even existed. At least he'd never come across one so sophisticated and so hadn't known of any ways to defend himself. The demon managed to get to poison him pretty badly before he found a way to fight back.
But Kouga had seen him flinch at the accusation and it was all the proof he needed.
"Hah!" he laughed, throwing his head back. The last rays of the dying sun caught his fangs. "Seriously, mutt? That's awesome! The great Inuyasha cried like a little girl!"
"So, what'd you dream about?"
What is your greatest fear?
There was no way in hell he'd tell Kouga that. It had come as a soul shaking surprise to him too, to learn that. He had never really thought about shit like that and even if he had, this was definitely not what he would have expected.
He knew he wasn't the strongest, but he had never suspected he was a coward.
"Are you afraid of dyin, Inuyasha?" taunted the wolf, and Inuyasha resolved to kill Myoga for it. Damn flee blabbed everything!
"Maybe wittle Inuyasha wants his mooooommy" Kouga said in a singsong voice.
Inuyasha's fists were clenched. "Shut up…" He knew he shouldn't let it bother him. It was what mind control demons did, after all; exploited any weakness in others. His emotions had always been close to the surface, pretty much on display for everyone to look into his minds. It wasn't surprising that the demon had used it against him, had taunted him with it.
It wasn't even surprising that Kouga was doing pretty much the same thing now. If it had been a youkai instead of a hanyou, the other demon would probably not have found it as easy to manipulate their emotions. Youkai were not as hindered by emotions and feelings as hanyou so even if a youkai's true fear were thrown in their face, they would not be as paralyzed by the revelation as he had been.
That is why, the strongest demons, the ones at the upper most levels of the hierarchy were ones who betrayed no emotion, no weakness.
Unbidden, the image of Sesshoumaru rose in his mind. His perfect elder brother; stoic and icy. He would never be like Sesshoumaru.
Then he shook himself. Why was he thinking about that stupid bastard anyway? Sesshoumaru could rot in hell! There was no freakin' way Inuyasha would ever want to be anything like him.
…but somewhere, the words rang hollow.
Kouga laughed. "Oh come on mutt! I knew you were weak but even I never took you for such a pansy!"
"It's not that," Inuyasha muttered, head lowered, bangs covering his eyes. His voice was rough, a bit rougher than usual but nothing that remarkable. The only clues to his inner turmoil were his shaking hands.
"It wasn't in battle. He had, some kind of dream inducing poison, I dunno," as if from a distance, he heard his own voice babbling, explaining desperately to Kouga when in his mind, he knew he didn't need to explain anything, that his pathetic attempts at justification would only make the wolf youkai despise him more. But he couldn't seem to be able to stop himself. The words continued to spill.
"But I was just lyin there, about to die and no one was around and…"
Kouga didn't bother trying to control his laughter. "Hah! Oh crap, I expected something a little better than that, like Kagome dying or something but that's just dumb!"
Kouga shrugged. "Well what else can I expect from a halfbreed?"
Inuyasha didn't look up but his eyes widened.
It was not usual for him to be so sensitive to anyone's taunts but that day's harrowing experience had a bit too much. It is one thing to almost die. Hell, he had almost died more times than he could count! But this time, there had been that fear, the loneliness and worst of all, helplessness…
Kouga still sounded amused. "A full demon would never have been affected like that by some weak-ass dream. Hell, I've watched my comrades die before my eyes. You ever seen me weeping like a girl?" he snorted. "It's coz you inherited stupid human emotions and their spinelessness."
"No, dammit! It's not like that!" Inuyasha gritted his teeth. "If I could have fought him, I –"
He didn't know how to explain to Kouga. He had been kind of paralyzed by whatever it had injected in him, unable to attack or run away; just lying there waiting, waiting and listening to the demon ruthlessly bare his inner self, his hidden weaknesses and hypocrisy…that was the scariest part; that had always been the scariest part, all his life. Dying in battle, with adrenaline pumping was one thing but waiting for it like that, all alone…
Kouga snorted. "Whatever, dog breath. Point remains. You're a weak ass scardy-cat." He shook his head. "Damn, and here I thought I could even respect you a little."
He turned away, his tail swishing lazily in the late evening light.
He didn't know if Kouga was fucking with him or if he was really that disappointed.
In some corner of his mind, he tried to work out why it mattered.
But regardless of why, Inuyasha still ran swiftly in front of him and shook him roughly by the shoulders. "Wait! I –"
Kouga shrugged him off and the look that he gave him wasn't mocking or amused. It was a flat look, almost understanding. That was a thousand times worse.
"There's nothin' to be said, mutt," Kouga told him patiently. "It's just who you are. You can't help it. Full-blooded demons are born with strength in their blood."
He looked at Inuyasha pityingly for a moment and Inuyasha felt something clench in his chest.
Then Kouga grinned. "But that doesn't mean the villagers should stay in the dark about their beloved hanyou!"
Inuyasha's eyes widened.
"Don't you dare say a word to anybody, you filthy wolf!"
Kouga laughed. "What're you gonna do to stop me?" he challenged. "Truth is truth, mutt. Face it. You are who you are. Stop pretending you're strong and badass when you're clearly not."
Inuyasha suddenly dropped his hands from Kouga's shoulder.
In a whirl of silver-white hair, Inuyasha turned and ran, leaving a very amused Kouga watching him go.
Night had fallen.
In fact, it was close to midnight and still Inuyasha could not sleep. He leaned more comfortably against the tree he was on and stared silently at the almost full moon…the beautiful, silent full moon that seemed to mock him.
He had felt something break inside him that day.
There was a dull ache in his chest that was different from any physical pain. There was a creeping hopelessness, of darkness descending, of fate closing in. This was not the first time it had happened…he had felt it long ago, when his mother had died, when Kikyou had betrayed him, when Kagome had left and in all those moments between moments that can break a man apart. But this time, it seemed…not worse but…deeper…like it was now more a part of him, and for some reason that scared him.
He had come away from the village to be by himself for some time, to try and figure out what his was all about. He needed to set himself straight and fast because he did not have time to mope around!
He laid a hand on the trunk of the tree he was currently sitting on and sighed.
Here, at night with the moon traveling slowly through the sky, he felt…at peace, at home. But the rest of the time, he felt like…like everything was moving too fast, too quickly, leaving him behind, pulling him behind and he resisted because he didn't want to go. Not so quickly, not like that. He couldn't remember the first time he had felt it – this urge to simultaneously run away from everything and to stay put and let everything flow around him except it didn't. It didn't flow past, but caught him in the currant and dragged him along when he didn't know how to swim and he was drowning…
And there was just something about weakness – physical weakness- that made him angrier than most other things. He called it angry because he was too proud to call it anything else…
A fist was driven into the tree with enough force to shake it to the roots.
Dammit! Why did everything have to be so…so out of control! He felt…lost. There was so much to do, so far to go and he felt…inadequate, not ready for this because there didn't seem to be any end in sight, no place where this…this obligation ended where he could do what he wanted.
Inuyasha glanced down in the direction of village that he had somehow become chained to, just as surely as though he were pinned there with a sacred arrow through his heart.
Because what he wanted was the past and that was never coming back and he was afraid of moving ahead because he was not strong enough, not yet.
…and that is how it has always been.
He had never felt adequate and then it didn't matter that he had been, every time. He had never felt strong, except when he was risking his life, dealing with pain and many, many years ago, there had been that nightmare when he had been all alone and defenseless, running from base youkai, running for his life, hiding and running, and he had never thought he could come out of it but when he had, he had vowed that it would never happen again, he would never be that scared again but here he was again, at that dangerous precipice, about to slip in again, into the waiting yawning darkness…
The cold disdainful voice jarred him back to reality. He felt a stab of fear and dread and he looked down.
Great! Fate had decided to not only screw his case completely but to crap on him as well. He had had one of the worst days ever and who had to catch him moping but his cold, perfect elder brother…
"What, jackass?" he muttered, heart not really into the insult.
Inuyasha felt a flash of anger.
Who does the bastard think he is, orderin' me around like some dog?
Did he really expect him to obey?
"Hell no I ain't coming down, so fuck off."
Sesshoumaru's face remained expressionless. "Very well." Inuyasha looked at him in surprise. He was giving up?
Then the taiyoukai's poison whip snapped out, wound around his wrist and pulled.
Inuyasha fell unceremoniously to the forest floor, bum hurting now, on top of everything else.
"What the fuck do you want?" he snarled, brushing himself off angrily, and flopping back against the tree trunk.
Inuyasha didn't get up and the taiyoukai said nothing, just stared at him for a long moment. Inuyasha unwillingly noticed how the moonlight almost made the elder demon glow.
"Keh. Do what you want. I don't wanna fight you." Inuyasha's cheeks turned slightly pink and he turned away from his brother.
Sesshoumaru looked at the hanyou sitting morosely on the ground. "You do not wish to fight?"
Inuyasha didn't look at him. "I'm tired…of fighting all the time…"
And Sesshoumaru heard the other meaning behind the words.
Sesshoumaru gazed impassively at Inuyasha, his little brother who had given up and wondered why he felt no satisfaction.
"What has happened to you, hanyou?"
"It doesn't matter," he muttered, not looking up, even though the words made his stomach coil in an odd way.
Bakusaiga's cold edge pressed up against his neck "And if I run this blade through your heart?"
Inuyasha smiled slightly at the ground. "Then you will soil your blade, nothing more."
Sesshoumaru's eyes widened slightly, unnoticed by his sibling.
"You want to…die?"
Inuyasha's temper flared a little. "What do you care, bastard? Haven't you tried to kill me every chance you got? Don't pretend to be concerned for me now. I'm giving you the chance. I won't defend myself. So just end it quickly."
Sesshoumaru continued looking at him but said nothing. Then-
Inuyasha sighed. What did it matter if his brother knew, anyway?
"Because…you were right."
Sesshoumaru raised an eyebrow.
The words fell from his lips, heavy and resonating.
"I realize that…I have caused people pain and nothing else, even the people I care about." He stared off into the distance.
"Kagome is gone because she was never meant to be with me. I could never have made her happy. Kikyou died because she cared about me. My mother died and I couldn't protect her."
He chuckled softly, bitterly. "And who am I kidding? I'm not strong. You might be a bastard but if you had really wanted to kill me all these years, you could have done it blindfolded! I couldn't even kill Naraku. If you hadn't been there that night, I would have died at the dark hanyou's hands. I am not worthy of father's blood. You were right. I am a stain on your line and its only fitting that I die by your hands."
It felt strangely good, peaceful to say these things, to confirm the words he had tried to deny all his life. Something good had come of the mind fucking experience, after all. He'd stopped deluding himself.
The words freed him, made him lighter, even as they ran like poison through his mind, leeching his will to live.
"All my life, I wanted to gain the respect of humans and youkai; I tried to get them to like me. But now I realize…I don't deserve it."
His breath hitched as he said the forbidden words, did what no demon in their right mind would do because to be vulnerable would mean death. This time also, it would probably mean just that, but this time, he didn't care.
"I don't deserve their respect. They shouldn't come near me. If I could go far away from all of them, I would but I can't! They always find me." He looked helplessly at his hands. The smell of blood was still there. Subtle and light, but there.
"And I can't…I can't fight anymore…" Tears gathered in his eyes and he felt ashamed but what was left of his pride now?
"I don't want to…to do what I have to do…to do what I should…what people want me to…and I am not strong enough to do what I want to so. I want to do everything that a youkai can do…I want to be strong and invincible."
"Youkai are not invincible," the demon Lord interrupted quietly. "You have slayed enough to know that."
Inuyasha assented. "No, that's just you, isn't it?"
Sesshoumaru remained silent.
Inuyasha was looking at him simply, dispassionately. "The perfect son of Inu no Taisho; the real son of Inu no Taisho." He looked away. "And I? I have no one and nothing…except my illusions, except lies which I tell myself everyday."
Sesshoumaru laughed and Inuyasha's head snapped up in surprise. Then, to his further astonishment, the regal demon Lord walked over and sat down beside him.
Even sitting on the dirty forest floor, Inuyasha noted bitterly, Sesshoumaru managed to look graceful and royal.
"But don't you know, hanyou?" Just now, that word didn't feel like an insult. "That is the only thing that anyone has. Illusions and lies."
Inuyasha gave him a disbelieving look.
Moonlight reflected dully of pristine white silk as the demon Lord shifted minutely, gaze trained in the distance like Inuyasha's but seemingly amused by something that wasn't really amusing at all. "It is a curious thing, Inuyasha that it is our illusions that help us keep our hold on reality."
Inuyasha shook his head, to clear his head and also so he'd stop staring at his brother. "Well I can't live like that anymore. You know why? Because it hurts like a bitch when those illusions break. I can't take it…one more time… I don't see why I should live like this."
He swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. "I – I mean wouldn't the world be a better place without me?"
Sesshoumaru smirked then, looking beautiful and untouchable in the moonlight, making the half demon ache.
"The world would be a better place without many people." He turned and looked at Inuyasha with piercing ice gold eyes. "Does that mean they stop living?"
Inuyasha made a frustrated noise, not wanting to be under the direct path of that intense gaze but also unable to look away. "But all I cause people is pain! I am always a…a burden…and I try so hard to get things right but I'm weak and I always mess up!"
He clenched his fist, digging his claws into his palm.
"I've tried…I've tried to grow stronger, only to end up worse off than before…I always swore it would be better next time and everything…everything is just the same…every time, it's just the same…"
He stopped in shock as long, gentle fingers came to rest on his chin and turned his head to face his brother.
"It is not the same," Sesshoumaru murmured and Inuyasha wondered how he'd never noticed how melodious and deep his brother's voice was.
"Why not?" He demanded breathlessly, unable- unwilling – to jerk his face out of his brother's hand. "What difference did it make? Any of it..."
"Because," Sesshoumaru whispered still inches from the hanyou's face so Inuyasha could feel the elder brother's warm breath on his lips. "You're an idiot."
Inuyasha's mouth almost fell open.
"You are going about it the wrong way," Sesshoumaru told him and to inuyasha's annoyance, he sounded amused
Sesshoumaru leaned forward slowly and closed his lips over his brother's.
Inuyasha froze to the spot, brain unable to process that Sesshoumaru, who had tried to kill him for the past few centuries, was kissing him.
He tastes like…something sweet and dangerous. He tastes like poison, Inuyasha thought.
A/N: To be continued...This story will most likely be concluded in the next couple of chapters.