The Most Terrible Poverty.
Disclaimer: The characters of Tenchi Muyo and Inuyasha are the property of their respective owners and are being used without their knowledge or consent, no profit is being made from this story.
This story was written without the benefit of a beta. I apologize for any and all mistakes that you may happen to come across.
This is a one-shot. I have no intention of continuing it.
Kendo is the way of the sword, a more spiritual path, where as Kenjutsu is sword techniques for killing.
"The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the fear of being unloved." Mother Teresa.
"When you have nobody you can make a cup of tea for, when nobody needs you, that's when I think life is over." Audrey Hepburn
Inuyasha was hungry, and tired, and visibly shivering, his jaws hurt with the effort it took to keep his teeth from loudly shattering. The howling winter wind carried tiny needles of frigid air that seeped right through his clothes to freeze the marrow of his bones. This time of year was viciously cruel to homeless orphans. It didn't matter whether they were human, or demon, or a little of both, the wind and the snow were harsh mistresses.
The hanyo was 10 years-old, but you wouldn't be able to tell by the way he held himself, rigid and cold. He had caked blood under his claws, and he already knew more about death and the cruelties of world than any little boy should.
But in spite of his youth and his small stature, and his blood only being that of a half demon, he survived. He grew harder, stronger with a wiry frame made for speed and endurance since his mother's death forced him to grow up quickly. He fought against all comers, and all odds, and won. But still it was not enough. He was missing something, something very important.
"Young man," a voice called out. It was an old man's voice, but it still held an undertone of strength and authority. He sat alone on a small porch of a shrine, the cold seemingly having little effect on him, a kettle was beside him on a low table. Even from where he stood, the boy could see steam waft from the spout up into the air where it dissipated without a trace.
"What do you want?"
"No need to snap. I was merely wondering if you'd like to warm up a bit, and join an old man for tea?"
Inuyasha narrowed his eyes and snorted in disgust. He may have been born in the morning, but it wasn't yesterday morning. He had already been invited to 'tea' by several old men who saw nothing more than easy prey for their perversions, (ten claw-marks to the stomach convinced them of the errors of their ways).
"I see." The old man said as he took in Inuyasha's hostile stance. "Well I can hardly blame you for being cautious. We live in dangerous times, it's hard to know who one can truly trust, isn't it?"
"I just don't trust anyone. Life's a lot easier that way."
"But I imagine it's gets very lonely."
"So? I'm used to it."
"But do you like it? There's a difference between being used to something because it's necessary, and actually liking it. Do you like being alone, young man?"
"What does it matter what I like or don't, old man. It is what it is. I got a shitty hand and I'm going to live it the best I can!"
The Jurian prince chuckled, and the half-demon's hackles rose in agitation. "What the hell are you laughing at?"
"Such a fighting spirit. You remind me of my sons."
"Oh, and where are they?"
"Dead," he said. "As is my wife. I have been alone many years, and I do not like it."
Inuyasha wasn't sure why the old man was trusting him. They had just met after all. It was foolish of him to share with anyone that kind of information, never mind a young half-demon who was desperate, and cold, and had nothing to loose.
He must be senile, the boy thought, not knowing the aged face and body was a mirage.
"Why are you telling me these things?" the hanyo asked. "You don't even know my name."
"Actually, I do know your name, Inuyasha. It took me a moment, but there is no mistaking the hair and the eyes, the steely gaze you posses even though you are a child. You remind me of – "
"Your sons, we've already established that," the half-demon said with a note of impatience. "And how the hell do you know my name? I've never seen you before in my life."
The half-alien prince chuckled lightly, not offended in least by the boy's tone, or lack of manners. "True, we have never met before. But I did know your father, and the resemblance between you two is uncanny. There is no mistaking who you are the progeny of."
"You knew my bastard father?" Inuyasha asked through gritted teeth.
"Yes, he was a great man. We drank many cups of tea together. He loved his sons, and saw great things in their future, especially you Inuyasha."
"Yeah, right. That's bullshit! He abandoned me and my mother. We were pariahs in our own village, everyone hated us! She died over a year ago because the village doctor refused to enter the home of a woman who would fornicate with a demon!"
"I am sorry to hear that. You have my sincerest of condolences over your loss. Had I known, I would have come to you and brought you here to live with me. You would not have had to wonder about alone and afraid, cold and hungry."
"Whatever," Inuyasha muttered. "I'm not alone, and I'm not afraid of anything, or anyone!"
He turned away from the old man and made to walk away without a backward glance. He was still hungry and still cold, but he wasn't going to let that craggy old coot's words make him lower his guard. He had to survive to adulthood, he had to become stronger, and if possible find a way to become a full-blooded demon.
"My offer still stands for tea."
"As if I'd ever drink tea with you. I'd rather die of thirst."
"Perhaps, but maybe this will change your mind."
Curiosity made Inuyasha turn around. The old man had disappeared momentarily into the shrine, and when he reappeared it was with a practice sword in hand. He took his earlier sitting position placed it in front of him, and then turned his attention to the half-demon.
"This is a bokken, your father carved it himself, it was meant as a practice sword until you were strong enough to handle the real thing. You were suppose to come to me when you turned 12 to train in the ways of kendo."
"I'd rather learn kenjutsu."
"I'm sure you would, but your father had other plans for you. He cared greatly for humans, there were even times when he protected them. He had hoped to pass that trait on to his sons, in particular you."
"Big deal? Don't you want to become stronger?"
"Of course I do!"
"Then come train with me, as was intended" the old man said. "You'll have to do chores to earn your keep. But you'll have a roof over your head, food in your stomach, and you'll find that you will become much more powerful here than on your own."
"What are you getting out of this?" Inuyasha asked with narrowed eyes. Nobody did things like this without there being a price. "And why should I trust you?"
Trust did not come easy to the half-demon, but his voice wavered ever so slightly. Despite his abrasive exterior, he was at heart, still a young boy alone in the world. The hollowness of his stomach, and the fatigue that was weighting down his limbs were making his guard lower just the tiniest bit.
"Company. And an heir. I'm an old man as you can see. I need someone to pass my martial arts on to or my particular style of kendo will die with me. I also need help with the running of the shrine."
"You mean cheap labor."
"Call it what you will. It doesn't change my offer," the old man said. "As for why you should trust me, there is nothing I can say or do that will make you trust me. It's all up to you. You are at a crossroads, young man, with two paths whose destinations that are unknown to you. Either path could lead to tragedy or joy, but you must choose a path."
Truth be told, Inuyasha was wasn't too keen on either choice at the moment. Despite the fact that the former crown prince knew his father, the half-demon still couldn't fully bring himself to trust him. But on the other hand, to longer have to barely scrape by would be nice. To no longer have to sleep in the highest branches of trees with one eye open, to no longer have to hunt, or steal his meals would be a welcome change. All this while becoming a mighty warrior was extremely tempting.
And it wasn't like he couldn't take the old man down if he turned out to be a pervert.
Before he could stop himself he began walking slowly towards the crown prince. Inuyasha still didn't trust the old man completely, but he was tired of being alone. And in that moment, he realized what was missing, it wasn't power, it wasn't strength, or speed, or agility, things that could be acquired through diligence and training.
What was missing was a sense of belonging. Despite everything he had been through, there was still a child locked inside his heart calling out to someone – anyone to come and show him kindness.
Slowly the hanyo made his way to the shrine, and up the stairs. He cautiously eyed the old man waiting for any last minute trickery before sitting crossed-legged on the other side of the table.
The exiled prince merely looked and waited. He understood what it was like to stand on the fence between two worlds. He understood the anger and the fury of being both of something, but considered neither. He understood the rolling hatred that started in the pit of his stomach, and ended with a fist in someone's face. But mostly he understood the heart wrenching loneliness that creeps over your heart and soul like vines of ivy until everything underneath was covered in darkness.
He wanted to help the boy, but only if he could get him to trust, and trust cannot be rushed. So Prince Yosho sat still and allowed the boy to approach at his own speed. He then allowed several minutes more to pass in silence as Inuyasha settled down before the Jurian turned toward him.
"Would you like some tea, young man?"