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A Yuyu Hakusho fan fiction story
by Abdiel

Disclaimer: All characters used in this fanfic (save some others) are the rightful property of Yoshishiro Togashi, Shueisha, Fuji TV and St. Pierrot. Don't sue me please, I'm very poor.

If you want to send C&C, this is the address: gab_ab@edsamail.com.ph


Chapter 1: Seeds


Darkness. This was what greeted him as he came to… it made no difference whether or not he was still unconscious. Nevertheless, it brought a certain sense of relief to be in the dark. It was… comforting to him.

Darkness. To some it was a symbol of fear… of coldness… of death. But to him it was a welcome sight. Was he not a former resident of the Demon World, which was always filled with veritable darkness? And, as accompaniment to this darkness, were there not also fear, coldness and death?

Yes, he was familiar with fear, whether it was in the eyes of an opponent faced with imminent death by his hand or his own fear of some great power finally destroying him in the end. He always had a certain degree of respect for power… he himself was a firm believer of the rule 'survival of the fittest.' Outside of that, he had nothing else to fear.

Coldness… it was a relative term to him. He was used to it. Perhaps it was because of his koorime lineage, but at times he drew comfort from the cold… the way humans drew comfort from warmth. Whatever. He felt as he felt, it held no importance to him.

Death. A loaded word to many, but to him it simply meant the end. He was never afraid of the finality death brought; he actually looked forward to it. He was glad by the fact that he was given a reason for being since the time of his birth. An image of a koorime woman which was the last thing he saw before he was inexplicably thrown into a chasm in his infancy, as well as images of his… of Yukina… filled his groggy mind.

These were his reasons for being. Death had been a constant threat to him since the time of his banishment from the Land of the Koorime, yet he had always done with it like a game with his opponents… he could never die, not him. Not even death could stop him from what he had to do. But if there came a time when all ends were tied, he would welcome death like an old friend… in a warrior's death, no less. But until then….             

"Hiei! Hiei! What has happened to you!?" It was the kitsune. That damned fox demon came through for him, as usual.

Darkness… the goddamned darkness… it came to him quicker than he had anticipated… what an embarrassment, in front of Kurama, no less. Yet he felt a strange bit of comfort as a thought surfaced on his mind before he further slipped into unconsciousness.

Until next time, old friend.


Kurama breathed a sigh of relief as he found where his koorime friend lay. Then a wave of concern came forth as he saw the state the said koorime was in. His analytical eye surveyed the amount of damage his friend attained. He assessed the situation carefully. Hiei's unconscious state was probably due to fatigue from using his ultimate attack, the Kokuryuha… as well as various other factors manifested by the koorime's countless contusions and bruises. There wasn't a shadow of a doubt in Kurama's mind. Hiei was beaten in a fight.

There was a time when Hiei was in worse shape… his burnt right hand had given him a whole new world of pain during the Ankoku Bujutsukai. Kurama stopped in mid-thought as the koorime moaned.

But still, Hiei was going to be really pissed once he woke up. Kurama suppressed a giggle at the thought. That was Hiei… he with the legendary pride.

Kurama quickly sobered up from his mirth and turned his attention to the situation at hand. He scanned the surrounding area… true enough, the ruble and debris gave more weight to his suspicions… a battle actually occurred. But he had expected a lot more wreckage from the surrounding area because of the apparent involvement of the Kokuryuha.

It must have been stopped somehow, or else there would have been a lot more wreckage here, Kurama thought as he further surveyed the area. It was a narrow alley, and even though one would expect a bit of filthiness in this sort of place, it was still pretty obvious that there had been a struggle. But no matter how many times Kurama inspected the area, he could find no sign of Hiei's supposed rival. If he didn't find the idea absurd, he could have almost sworn Hiei hurt himself with the Kokuryuha. Which was simply beyond the case, because Hiei would have absorbed the attack, if ever.

I'm too late… he's already gone, Kurama thought as he furthered his investigation. Whoever he is….

Kurama checked out his immediate surroundings beyond the alley. True enough, because it was already past midnight, there was not a soul in sight. The streets were empty, slightly illuminated by what few lights remained open on this side of the city. It was an entire block of urban poverty. He went back to the fallen koorime, his stare lingering at the rooftops of the nearby apartments.

Kurama gently picked up his friend, gingerly looking at the latter's face. The koorime was softly snoring now, probably due to exhaustion more than anything else. Kurama quietly wafted over the surrounding building's rooftops, cradling Hiei's body all throughout. Wordlessly, the kitsune leaped from one building to another, his mind filled with questions which left him troubled and anxious.

"Who? Who was it? Why?!" Kurama accidentally said aloud, the questions echoing in the entire block, as if they were mocking him.


"What the HELL?!" was the calm assessment Yusuke Urameshi gave to the situation Kurama related to him. Kurama, on his part, stayed composed, as he had been in the past few minutes of the conversation. There was no indication of Yusuke even budging from the doorway of his apartment. Kurama sighed as he continued to inform Yusuke of the past events.

"That's right, Yusuke. Someone beat up Hiei, and I don't know who. Hiei's been beat up real bad, so that's why he's still unconscious. I can't worry about kaasan discovering Hiei since she had never seen him before, so that's why he has got to stay here in your apartment for the time being, while your mother is away," Kurama carefully repeated, putting his words into terms the younger boy could easily understand. That was because Yusuke was quite the… excitable type, and Kurama couldn't risk a misunderstanding at this point in time.

Yusuke simply stared back at Kurama as if the kitsune had told him that he was about to be tied up in bed to be given the whipping of his life… or something similarly disturbing. It took the boy sometime to evaluate the situation before saying, "Oh, I get it!"

Kurama sighed in relief. "That's good, Yusuke."

Yusuke nodded eagerly. "I get it… this is some kind of practical joke made by that bastard, Kuwabara. Well, just let me at him, Kurama… I'll rearrange his ugly face seven ways to HELL!"

If Kurama was a lesser man, he would have facefaulted. The fact remained that he was the great Youko Kurama, so the best that he could do was sweatdrop. All vestiges of gravity on his face were replaced by wide-eyed confusion as he uncharacteristically said….

"Huh?"

Kurama simply fell silent from there. He had no idea how to reply to that sort of statement. Yusuke always had that effect on him. So he motioned toward the nearby tree in the yard and the teen was off. He counted the seconds before hearing an expected dead silence. … Two… Three….

Kurama slowly approached Yusuke as the now dumbstruck teenager gaped at a peacefully sleeping Hiei… which though was a sight in itself to behold with all the loud snoring it was well apparent that the sheer amount of bruises the koorime had was really the clincher to the shock. He looked worse off than after battling Bui in the finals of the Ankoku Bujutsukai. The teenaged Spirit Detective could not believe that Hiei was beaten up… not after the fire demon finally mastered the Kokuryuha. It bordered near impossible at that point. Kurama patted the younger boy's back.

"Oi, Kurama… you weren't kidding. Hiei's been beaten up bad," Yusuke said the obvious, looking warily at the little sleeping koorime. "Who… did this to him?"

Kurama smirked at the statement. Yusuke was never one to ask who or why… he acted before he thought. Still, Kurama's seriousness gave in as he said in a somber voice, "I have no idea, Yusuke. I simply saw him like this in an alley… I have no idea who or what could have done such a thing."

Yusuke hefted Hiei's body over his shoulders. The fire demon hybrid shifted his weight, groaning in pain.

"Careful, Yusuke… Hiei's ribs are broken. I've given him some herbs to dull the pain, but there's nothing else I could do. The fractures are closed, but any more shifting and they could become dislocated."

"Sorry, I'll be careful. But we don't have a stretcher. How are we going to lift Hiei into the apartment?" Yusuke asked.

"The same way I put him near the tree," Kurama said nonchalantly.

Faster than Yusuke could decipher with his eyes, Kurama lifted Hiei up, the koorime's body straight and seemingly floating in the kitsune's arms. And, in the same way he wafted through the alley a while ago, Kurama effortlessly went forth Yusuke's room, seemingly gliding with each step. Yusuke had seen how fast Kurama moved before… only he hadn't seen the kitsune use it under these circumstances. He followed the two into his room. He caught up with them as Kurama was already lightly placing Hiei on his living room bed.

"That sure was cool, Kurama," Yusuke said appreciatively. He turned his attentions back at the koorime and made a face. "You're really going to make me babysit this little bastard?"

Kurama giggled daintily. It was hard to keep a serious disposition in the company of the young lad. "Your call… though I could always come over and look after him myself."

Yusuke looked at Kurama and smiled. "You don't have to bother with that… I'll have a fun night with shorty here. He's in good hands." He couldn't help but grin evilly at the last statement.

Kurama just looked at Yusuke before chuckling at that. "I'm sure you'll both have fun together."

Yusuke merely grinned. He then added thoughtfully, "Does Koenma know? You do know that we've never been attacked outside of a mission before?"

"Yes, but you have to admit, there were those missions where we simply stumbled upon the enemy. We just reassessed our bearings if ever we were attacked first," Kurama said. "But I agree, this was the first time we were directly attacked before we went against whatever agenda our enemy had."

Yusuke nodded to that. "Hey, have you seen Botan lately? She's usually the one supplying the facts for this."

Kurama shrugged. "She usually contacts you first, then gets a hold of us afterwards for backup."

"Or we'll happen to stumble into each other in the course of a mission," Yusuke supposed, a smile once again sneaking in the corners of his mouth.

"Our modus operandi." Kurama smiled back.  "Just remember… as much as possible, don't let Hiei out of the house. He's in no shape to cavort around the Human World, swearing vengeance upon whoever did this to him."

Yusuke idly nodded… though he knew that stopping Hiei from chasing after the supposed new enemy was as likely as… well… stopping himself from doing the same thing, if he could help it.

"I'll be having a word with Genkai tomorrow… she'd know what to do. Still…" Kurama pensively added, "I'm almost certain that the Spirit World had something to do with this."

"I'll be having a word with that pacifier-sucking brat once we finally meet," Yusuke assured, cracking his knuckles to illustrate his point. "Once we get this cleared out, we'll kick some demon ass and get this over with, pure and simple."

Pure and simple… unfortunately this was anything but, Kurama considered. Hiei used the Kokuryuha… an attack that's almost as powerful as the Rei-Gan. If ever Yusuke or any of us came across… him, it's doubtful that we'd have a chance against the creature. And what of the mission Koenma informed us on? Why did Koenma inform Hiei and me first? Was it like before, when he notified Hiei primarily about the mission concerning the kidnapping of Yukina? More questions pervaded into Kurama's consciousness… yet no sure explanation presented itself.

As Kurama bade his farewell to Yusuke, the question he said hours ago resurfaced on his mind and echoed back and forth in his psyche. Who? Who did this? Why?

Why?


Kurama stared at the ceiling of his room. As a youkai, he had his own sort of third eye in sensing trouble. But that was usually reserved for sneak attacks or for recognizing the ki of his enemies during battle. His sense of premonition in this situation was completely different. A sense that humans were more familiar with… that feeling of dread when something bad was about to happen. Through this feeling came a jargon of semi-coherent thought.

What if that thing suddenly goes after Yusuke, or Kuwabara? The odds are certainly against them, him having beaten Hiei… how is Hiei faring anyway? I hope he survives. What if this thing goes after me? I think I could handle it… but what about kaasan…?

Kurama froze at the last thought. There was a noise coming from his mother's room… somewhat akin to metal clanking on the floor. He instinctively ran towards his mother's room. He heaved a sigh of relief to see her by the window… she was doing some needlework and her toolkit just fell. She was a bit startled though, and was now looking at Kurama with worry in her eyes.

"Shuichi… is there something wrong?" his mother asked.

Kurama let out a little laugh. "No… nothing's wrong, kaasan… I was just a little bit worried by the noise. What are you doing?"

'Shuichi's' kaasan brightened up at his last statement. "I've decided to take up needlework as a hobby, son… I'm a little rough at it, though. I haven't done this since I was a child." She let out a delicate laugh, to which Kurama could not help but laugh with as well. It had always reminded him of tinkling bells ever since he first heard it as a child.

To this an animated discussion on needlework followed. Actually, it was more like Kurama listening and Shiori making detailed accounts about the wonderful world of needle and thread. This kind of situation may bore to death any other boy his age, but Kurama had high regard and respect for his kaasan and whatever she did.

When the discussion finished, Kurama left Shiori with her hobby. He mouthed the words "Sayonara, kaasan. Ai, shiteiru." in the doorway of his mother's room, to which he got the silent reply of "Good night, Shuichi. I love you too."

In the outer hallway of the Minamino residence, Kurama swore to himself, I won't let any monster touch my kaasan. Not even one hair.


On a cliff overlooking the dance of sea waves he stood. It was he who was able to stand up to a fire demon-koorime hybrid without even breaking a sweat. Breaking a sweat… he'd laugh at it, if he could. He hadn't broken a sweat or laughed at anything for years. He felt dead because of it. He continued gazing into the horizon. The moon was still shining as brightly as it could. The waves continued pounding on the rocks. The leaves of the trees in the surrounding area of the cliff all rustled by the breeze. He couldn't care less with such peace. If anything, all of it irritated his senses… irritation and senses being relative terms.

He breathed heavily, probably more out of habit than anything else. He hefted his entire breastplate off, revealing a cavity in his chest. It was a dark chasm, as dark as his skin was pale. The breeze picked up an ante and began stroking his long straight hair, strands flying all over his face. His violet eyes became slits as his concentration intensified. The koorime fed him quite nicely, but it was not enough. No. He hungered for more.

The wind blew more fiercely as the waves started to pound furiously down the rocks below. The moon shone more brightly than before. Everything intensified and bristled to life. The grass became greener, more alive, as if they were breathing. The rustling leaves became animated as well. In color, sound, sharpness, smell and touch… everything became exaggerated. It was as if he could smell again, breath again, touch again, and see again… all at the same time with more exuberance and feeling. Then it was all released into nothingness as he whispered the words.

"Ja ou en satsu koku ryuu ha!"

The black dragon spirit emerged, slowly dissipating into embers as it crashed into the sea below. What occurred afterwards was strange indeed.  It was as if an explosion happened in reverse. Everything died down… the waves calmed, the water became stagnant. The grass died then and there. The trees slowly shed their leaves as if it were fall, their trunks suddenly decaying. Everything in the surrounding area had a deathly appearance. No color. No life.

The bishonen sighed. Even the moon's sheen seemed dimmer than before. But he ignored all this as he nonchalantly picked up his breastplate, replaced it on his cavity and went on his way. It was all routine for him. He was way beyond feeling any emotion. He did what he had to do and that was that. Yet he craved that short moment of exuberance. He craved it since the day he became… like this.

He simply could not describe the feeling he felt every time he used up a spirit like that. The sheer thrill he experienced from absorbing a piece of ki… a piece of soul which went in that damned cavity of his like so much fodder… was indescribable. It felt like… an orgasm, or maybe as high as you could ever get on drugs. No, higher than that… it couldn't be expressed. Such comparison pales amidst the sheer ecstasy he felt from feeding into himself a soul… a life. Every fiber of his being exuded… aliveness. There was no other word for it. Aliveness.

It was a slow and painful step he took… murdering a person just so he could again feel that burning sensation. He wasn't a ki vampire… he didn't need to feed on another soul to live. He was already dead. It was all for the sake of gratification, to feel something amidst the numbness within himself. That was one of the reasons why he swore never to take another life. He pledged never to stoop so low as to kill people for the pleasure of it. He would never allow himself to become a monster like that.

He was wrong about that. Dead wrong.

He had killed countless in his wake, and soon his countenance became absolute apathy. He was now truly dead, with no will nor regret. He was a person trapped in a neverending nightmare, cursed never to wake up. He lost all consideration of life's significance as he consumed vivacity like a cigarette… in slow puffs. He was as dead as he truly thought he was… in mind and body.

Yet he had not killed the koorime. It could have given him a few more days of exuberant life, yet he could not bring himself to do it. No. He had not killed anyone ever since he discovered… that there was a way.

There was a way. There was a way he could be taken away from this damned existence. It was there. She could find a way to stop this. He knew that she'd always be there for him, no matter what the cost. That was what she promised him. He knew that he could count on her.

She was there up until the time he finally became a monster. She was there up until the time she offered to give out the cure. Yes, the cure… the cure for his eternal damnation. She gave it her all. She died trying.

But now she was back. He would be given a second chance. He would have a new lease on life. Nothing could stop him now. He wasn't going to spend all eternity as a monster. He would not be damned. This was his last chance. He would do everything in his power to get her back into his life. She was his salvation. She was his last thread. He would not fail.

"Asuka… you've come back to me," he whispered silently to the dead waters of the sea down below.


"Kurama!" Hiei yelled in his sleep, which awoke a very irritable Yusuke from his.

"Hey, what's the big… oh, you're finally awake," Yusuke muttered in yawning breaths, still rubbing his eyes off the remnants of sleepiness. "Kurama wasn't kidding when he called you a noctu… noctu… a night person."

Hiei simply deadpanned at the baka… or some other Demon World expletive he wanted to refer to the teenage boy that escaped him at the moment. "Where is he?"

"Who?" Yusuke shot back casually as he cleaned his ears with his pinky.

"Kurama," Hiei elucidated.

"Back at his kaasan's. What's it to you?"

Hiei was getting pissed. He knew that the… human, for lack of a better word, was toying with him. He could have clopped off the… human's arm right then and there, only that his katana was missing. Damn. The Kokuryuha was out of the question, so that left….

From a passerby's point of view, one could almost swear that there was a mini-earthquake happening at one side of the apartment building where a certain Yusuke Urameshi happened to be taking residence.

"YOWCH! You couldn't take a joke, could'ya?" Yusuke said gleefully. He was now in a stranglehold by a certain koorime. The teen glanced back at Hiei with an evil eye. Then, with a simple movement of his head, he butted the koorime on the forehead.

Hiei recoiled. Yusuke took the opportunity to direct some punches at the fire demon hybrid's face. After three quick jabs, the teen quickly backed up to ready an uppercut. Hiei knew this was a ruse and simply blocked both the uppercut and the planned hook after it. With his third eye opened, the fire demon was able to counter every blow, which he followed up each time with heavy blows of his own.

Yusuke was surprised that Hiei was still able to put up a decent fight. He abruptly adjusted his speed and began a dance of blow-parry-blow with Hiei. Each met up with equal speed and strength, up until Yusuke accidentally ribbed Hiei. The koorime crumpled on the ground.

Yusuke wiped off the trickle of blood on his lips. He surveyed his surroundings. Wow… we were really going at it for a while… he thought, amazed at the whirlwind which leveled this side of the Urameshi apartment. Another thing Yusuke noticed was that he was looking through one eye now… his left eye swollen shut. The teenager readied himself as the koorime slowly stood up.

"I never thought you'd resort to a cheap shot, Urameshi," Hiei spat at Yusuke, yet with a smirk plastered on his face.

"You don't look like no slacker either, Hiei," Yusuke said, pointing at the koorime suspiciously. "How was it possible that you were beaten up so easily? What's with you?"

Hiei was taken aback. How dare the bastard think that his skills were slacking! Still, he was ashamed to admit, with his last fight he had been hurled around like a piece of wet cloth. His bruises and fractures flared in pain as a reminder of that. His reply was broken up and hesitant.

"He… he was no o-ordinary demon," he finished with his eyes darting back and forth across the room.

Yusuke savored the moment of uncharacteristic confusion on the demon's face. Still, he himself was more than a bit flummoxed with the fact that Hiei could be beaten up like that. "What was it that attacked you? Did it have a face?" He cracked his knuckles. "If he has a face I can certainly rearrange it."

To this the koorime sneered, "Humph. You'd be in worse shape than I if you ever faced that monster."

"We'll see." Yusuke then stared oddly at Hiei as the koorime suddenly froze. He quite possibly hadn't seen the demon so troubled save the times when he teased him about Yukina's true identity. "What?"

Hiei suddenly prepared to take his leave. Yusuke almost missed Hiei as he made a grab for the fire demon's arm. "Hiei, what the hell's the matter with you?!"

Hiei gave Yusuke a livid look. "Let go, you idiot! The monster is after Kurama! We've got to warn him! He's going to kill the damn kitsune!"


On a treetop overlooking a house stood an armor-clad figure. He looked heavy in his garb, yet it seemed like he was floating on the branches and leaves. He maintained his stance as he observed the surrounding area of the house. Sure enough, he saw what he was looking for.

"Such loveliness," he whispered. He let the words float in the air, a certain smoothness in it coming forth as it echoed across the landscape. He swooped down, now truly suspended in midair, toward the second-story window of the residence.

There she was… like a fresh rose bud…. You always have reminded me of that. She walked slowly in the room… fresh and clean, like a newborn… slipping into the bed sheets as elegantly as only she could.

She gave the promise of tomorrow.

She died too soon, like the flower that she was.

She came back for him… to keep a promise.

She was there, finally… he had waited an eternity. 

Damned was he.

Salvation was she.

She would save him from the silent screams… from agony and pain… from the absence of agony and pain.

There were times when one would rather have pain than emptiness.

She was there to give him freedom.

Peace.

Salvation.

Meaning.

Life.

Yet, here she was, reborn. She came back. Devotion remained only to her. Let me take her now or else be damned forevermore.

Yet what he had to do was also his damnation. It was a murder for life. A sacrifice he couldn't bear to do before.

Yet there were also the killings.

Yet there was also the emptiness.

It was a risk he would take. Damnation was not an option.

He was damned for so long.  He knew of their faces. It was forever etched in his memory.

They were a part of him… every fiber of their being.

They belonged to him now.

They screamed in horror… silent screams. The silence was deafening to him.

The screams remained. The silence remained.

The emptiness ate his whole being… if he was still considered a being, and not some tool of mass destruction.

He gingerly fingered the glass pane of the window, breathing a breathless sigh… an apology.

He was truly sorry… for his salvation and the salvation of many others would come at the cost of an angel's tears.

His precious one's life was the price.

He said his last apology, and disappeared.

He simply disappeared.


Kurama stirred in his sleep. Tears dampened his pillow. He was beyond the frivolities of emotion. Since his days as a kitsune thief, he never had an opportunity to express emotions. This was Kurama… the ice-cold killer of the Demon World… immovable, unbreakable, cunning and calculating… the same Kurama who was silently weeping now. He let the tears flow and his fears surface.

Was this true? The cruel kitsune thief, the one who always knew what to do in any situation, was crying? Of course, he berated himself.

He let his fears surface because he was smart enough to be honest with himself… he had no idea of the truth behind the situation and it was a natural reaction for humans to feel fear toward the unknown… and he was human. Well, sort of, Kurama thought sardonically.

It was nothing more than him acknowledging his emotions, instead of wearing that mask of cruelty and calculating assuredness that he always wore to face uncertain situations.

Heart of ice…. soul of steel…. cruelty and mercilessness… that was what characterized his long and arduous life as a kitsune thief in the Demon World. No mercy. Kill or be killed.

Enough. Things were different now. How? He didn't know…

All he knew was that he was afraid for his kaasan.  His dear, sweet kaasan whose life had been threatened constantly because of him. Hiei…. Hiei was injured and beaten badly, and Kurama blamed himself for not being there for the koorime when it counted. Just like with Kurunue….

Kurama went to sleep. He didn't expect himself to drift into slumber so soon. In moments, there was only stillness.

Soon, the nightmares began.

There was darkness… a flat, dull darkness. Then came a flicker of light from a glinting jewel swaying along the emptiness. It began to give form. He then saw strands… long strands of shiny hair. Features soon gained depth. A long thin mouth came into view, forming into a smile. Then came the narrow yet mischievous eyes. Long strands of hair played with his features as it effortlessly merged with the void. It was a play of contrast in light and darkness as his pale skin and playful eyes shone like the jewel gently swaying on his neck. Back and forth it swayed, like the glinting blade of a guillotine.

Kurunue.

The scene replayed itself painfully. The loss was silly, stupid… the irony of it all lies in its stupidity and silliness.

Then came the gentle tinkling… like a little bell.

His smiling face casually glanced back at the jewel he accidentally dropped. He couldn't be stopped. That jewel meant a lot to him. He promised that he would come back… all that for a simple necklace which he always wore a certain way. He was always so headstrong… he always went about things in a straightforward manner.

This… his efforts to always be true to himself… led to his own death.

Bamboo shoots shot up as he was helplessly caught in the makeshift trap. Blood dripped mercilessly to the ground, an unwanted blood offering. He still clasped the jewel with his right hand in an iron grip. It gently swayed in the wind, glinting.

It swayed back and forth, glinting… like a guillotine.

Darkness.


Yusuke Urameshi was having a hard time.

For one thing, it was quite hard for one such as him to stop a crazed fire demon-koorime hybrid from accomplishing whatever stupid, reckless, and totally irresponsible thing the said demon wanted to accomplish… mainly because he wanted in on whatever stupid, reckless, and totally irresponsible thing the said demon wanted to accomplish.

Life was good for Yusuke Urameshi.

"He was that powerful?!" Yusuke gasped, literally salivating in ecstasy. Boy, it had been a while since he had gotten in on a real mission. Ever since that incident with the rogue demons from a separate Demon World… a sort of Nether World… where the whole Human World was almost conquered… there hadn't been another challenge which quite matched up to that. "He simply ate the Kokuryuha!? That's great! Where did you meet him?"

"We just met. He was in an alley. He was looking for someone. He seemed tired. I was there," Hiei said cryptically. He'd rather not waste any more of his time with the stupid bastard, only that he had no other alternative. If all it took were to join forces with… that human to defeat the monster, then he'd do it. So be it.

"What do you mean, 'he was tired?' Could it be that he was some sort of ki vampire?" Yusuke asked. Hiei merely shrugged to that.

"It doesn't matter."

"Well, if he were a ki vampire, why didn't you just slash him to death like you usually do?"

"He was like a spirit. It didn't work on him. The blade just passed through him."

Yusuke further pondered on that. Not a ki vampire… maybe it was a gaki of some sort. A gaki? Heck, even he hadn't seen one of those. And if it was a gaki, why was it looking for someone in particular? Why didn't it suck up Hiei's soul along with the Kokuryuha?

He was getting a headache from all this thinking… but he couldn't do much of anything else. In one of those rare instances of insight, he knew he couldn't simply 'blast that thing with a Rei-gan straight to hell.' He already fought one of those demons. His precious attack was rendered nearly useless with this youkai who simply deflected the goddamned Spirit Ball back to him. With a resigned smile, he continued his 'interrogation' with the vague and reluctant ice demon.

"So, what's this about Kurama being in trouble?" Yusuke pressed. He knew Hiei was deliberately vague with the details, but he would wrench it out of the koorime one way or another. That was just the Urameshi way.

Hiei gazed adamantly at the young spirit detective. He wouldn't give an inch on that part of the story. The idiot doesn't need to know about that. All Hiei needed to do was to trick the simpleminded fool into going head-on with the monster and getting beat up to a pulp while he, the true Demon World warrior, looked for some sort of weakness the creature possessed in the meantime. They always had some sort of weakness.

Yusuke frowned at the fire demon… the ice demon… whatever. All he figured was that the… enti… enti… the thing that attacked Hiei probably had some sort of agenda… as evidenced by the fact that he didn't randomly kill the bastard. Then shorty mentioned Kurama…

"What did he say about Kurama?" Yusuke casually asked. Hiei was dumbstruck for a while. The koorime fell for the ruse. "DAMMIT, WHAT THE HELL DID HE WANT WITH KURAMA?"

"I don't know," Hiei countered. Humph… he figured it out. "All he said was that he wanted Minamino Shuichi."

"Wha— isn't that Kurama's human name?" Yusuke was taken aback. "What did he want with… with… does it mean he doesn't know about Kurama the Youko? Minamino Shuichi, the human avatar?"

"I don't know," Hiei said. He was quickly losing interest in the discussion. It was quite obvious that the human wasn't planning to hunt any monsters at that point. He's smarter than I give him credit for.

Yusuke gave up contemplating the situation… he had quite enough of that. He was a man of action. This type of idle chitchat was not for him. But he knew he couldn't do anything… the so-called enemy he was facing wouldn't even attack directly. It had no desire in conquering the Human World. It wasn't readying itself to lead a massive invasion nor to get some incredible power that would turn it into a feared force in the Demon World. It just waited… like a cobra. Hell knew what was its true motive in capturing Kurama… if capturing was what it had in mind.

Yusuke glanced back to where the koorime once stood. Sure enough, the bastard was already gone. The teenager sighed. It was just as well. He was sure Kurama wouldn't even be half surprised by this. Still, he knew the fire demon was capable of taking care of himself. Besides that, his mother would be back in the apartment by morning, anyway.

He rubbed his forehead. His living room was a mess, but it was nothing compared to the mess his mind was in. He swore never to think that hard again.  Yet he was still paralyzed from doing anything. Dammit, Koenma… you better have a good explanation for all this….

He settled in for the night. He had classes tomorrow, but he couldn't care less. He could afford to skip a day or two. The only thing he cared about right now was sleep. He needed it.


The sun shone on the backdrop of a blue sky. Birds chirped. The leaves on the trees rustled. People went about their usual business. It was just another ordinary day.         

"Minamino-sempai! Minamino-sempai! Wait up!"

But there were just so many connotations to the term 'ordinary.'

Oh no, not again.     

"What is it, Shigeru-kun?" Kurama said through a strained smile. He was not in the best of moods that day, but he did his best to put up a face.

Mornings at Meiou high weren't exactly the happiest Kurama would remember for the rest of eternity. For one thing, there was the 'Legion of Minamino-sama' composed of quite a number of… people who were always putting pressure on the redheaded boy. Kurama wasn't particularly happy about that… especially now, due to the fact that there were some members who had already begun to become more 'forward' with their advances. Kurama hadn't been at all that pleased with the current developments, but he never took any serious action against it. He did have far more important things to take care off.

"I wrote you a poem, Minamino-sempai!" Shigeru Amano cheered, his face beaming like the moon. He wasn't exactly part of the love brigades that had begun to spread in popularity in the school… he was more like a 'Minamino's little admirer,' since he was about four years Kurama's junior. Sure he had been known to irritate Kurama with incessant questions about his love life, his favorite color, his type of shampoo, and other similar substantial types of questions… he was even prone to stalking to a point much worse than the 'Legion'… yet Kurama always had a soft spot for the younger boy. Especially when he did sweet things like this.

"What's it about, Shigeru-kun?" Kurama asked, intrigued and touched by the gesture. "It's certainly not my birthday, and there seems to be no particular special occasion today that comes to mind. What is this for?"

"Oh nothing. It ain't particularly about you… I just wanted to share… between friends…" the young boy said shyly. "It's about… just read it…"

"Ok."

Kurama carefully unfolded the piece of paper and made note of the carefully written characters. It was obviously a labor of love, a poem which was given great consideration in writing. Every stroke was finely arranged… it certainly didn't look anything like Shigeru's sloppy old handwriting. But Kurama was rather shocked as he read its contents.

It was numbing… as if from a dream

You're suppose to feel something

Yet deep inside you feel nothing

It's all unsettling and confusing

It's as if you're from a distance

As if you're protecting yourself

From a world of pain and suffering

Making the calm all the more unsettling

Through the daze, unbidden it comes

Silly questions came… ironic ones

Silly because it's all so ridiculous

Ironic because its silliness hurts

We cover up, one way or another

A mask of courage over a vulnerable face

A facade daunting over the grievance

Tears run below this constructed mask

Or instead, you let yourself feel the pain…

Of course it will come, sooner or later

It's a wound, bleeding. Continuously.

No word of comfort can appease it, once it's there.

"Minamino-sempai? Was it that bad?" Shigeru said disjointedly, a look of hurt apparent on his childlike face. He certainly looked quite younger than he actually was; yet this fact was more apparent as he showed a face akin to that of an infant who was about to cry.

Kurama took sometime to assess the situation. He didn't notice that a deep frown had begun to form on his lips as he read the piece, nor the fact that he was out of it for quite a while. He gave a look of reassurance to the young boy.

"It was… beautiful. I don't know what else to say about it. You're a gifted poet. Thank you for sharing that," Kurama said, giving the boy his gentlest of smiles. Unlike the cruel smiles he usually showed to his old Demon World enemies, it was a smile which he learned from his kaasan…  a smile of genuine appreciation.

If looks could kill, this one just woke up the dead. Shigeru practically radiated at the praise.

"WA-I! SEMPAI!!!"

Kurama accepted the subsequent hug. Shigeru, irritating as he was with his participations with the Legion as well as his continuous harassment of the redhead, was a very likeable person. Albeit obsessed and a bit spontaneous, he was still likeable.

"Then I hope you could forgive me of my telling the entire Legion your locker combination."

"…."

Shigeru, wisely, took this time of contemplation in part of Kurama to take his leave. But not before saying these last words:

"The poem… it was for my grampa. He just died a-and I didn't know what to do. I wrote it during my spare time. I know I could trust you with it, sempai."

These were words which Kurama wasn't able to forget for the rest of the day. And more came forth from the words… his own…

I know. I also lost someone.


Waking up from his reverie, Kurama sighed. That episode with Shigeru Amano, a day before Hiei was attacked, had suddenly come to the surface of his mind. He hadn't since talked to Shigeru about it, both feeling a sort of awkwardness toward the topic whenever it was mentioned.

Kurama stared up at the bus terminal. This was his stop. Botan… Koenma… wherever you two are in the Spirit World, you have a lot of questions to answer. But for now….

Kurama took leave of the bus and from the bus stop as he began his trek toward a house atop a mountain path from the nearby forest… toward Master Genkai's house.


"YUSUKE, GET UP!!!" An oh-so-familiar voice 'cheerfully' greeted Yusuke out of bed. Amidst throbbing eardrums, the said teen still managed to wobbly get up on his feet. Ouch… for someone who was injured, that bastard koorime sure packed a punch.

"What is it, kaasan?" Yusuke asked, oblivious of the fact that he already knew the answer and that he was just instigating his mother's anger more.

"It's time for SCHOOL, you no good LOUT!!! I'd have you know that no son of mine…" was his mother's exuberant response. Or at least what Yusuke heard before blocking out the rest of his mother's sermon in his mind. That was his survival technique.

But he still had some insight in overhearing…

"… and then your friend Shuichi dropped by and gave this letter to be forwarded to you early in the morning WHEN YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN AWAKE! I admire how much more responsible that Minamino boy is than you…"

"Huh? What letter?" Yusuke said suddenly, his interest aroused. Usually he just waited for her mother to either throw some kind of hard object at his head from utter frustration or simply tire out from her sermon and just leave it at that.

"Get it yourself. I put it right over the counter, under the coffee mug," Yusuke's mom said idly, taking in quite an opposite personality from the screaming banshee that she was a while ago. She then proceeded to the living room sofa to sleep. She would rather go to the living room bed, but she was just too damn tired from all that talking.

Yusuke scooped up the message from under the mug eagerly, nearly toppling the ceramic. With the prospect of getting into something far more interesting than school, and him actually having to skip school… his favorite part with having missions, aside from a good fight… Yusuke eagerly read the script.

Gone to Master Genkai's. We'll be having a meeting, since there's no sign of either Botan nor Koenma filling us in on the details concerning what happened yesterday. Bring Kuwabara there, and if you could, Hiei. Perhaps Master Genkai can provide us some insight on the happenings.

No more goading was needed for Yusuke. Before the flying slip of paper that was Kurama's letter fell on the wooden floorboards, the teen was already up and running towards the nearest bus station.


Hiei carefully replayed the events of the fateful night. He and the fox demon were supposed to have a meeting over the tree where he usually slept. Fact was, there was an unknown presence which suddenly crept nearby. Not that the koorime sensed him… what was disturbing for the fire demon was that the entity had totally no energy in him. Even the weak and stupid little humans at the very least had a bit of ki in them… but this one… this one had none at all. Had Hiei not seen him at the corner of the eye, the demon would have missed him entirely.

"Minamino Shuichi is here… isn't he, koorime?" the being assumed, his demeanor ostensibly lacking in feeling as he merely presumed the presence of his opponent.

Yet how in the world could he have known where Kurama was otherwise? Hiei brooded over frustratingly. It made no sense… it was as if the being was second-guessing everything and was lucky to have his gamble pay off.

But it was beyond that… there was something about him that made the fire demon disconcerted. The bleakness of his statement, the dismal stare, the monotone of his voice were all irrelevant… it was the utter lack of sense about him that irked the koorime to no end. Yet despite of that, or rather because of it, Hiei wanted all the more to fight him.

The fight confirmed his assumption… yet ironically, instead of things finally making sense, it added more to his confusion.

How could he exist? He has no soul!

Hiei felt something cold hit the nape of his neck. Another one… repetitiously… Humph… it's raining.

Hiei whisked through the treetops toward his destination. He had already straightened his dislocated bones, though most of his body still ached like hell… he also retrieved his katana from the Minamino residence, … stupid fox… so there was only one more thing he had to do.

Find something that was not supposed to exist.


"GRANDMA! KURAMA! I'M HERE!" Yusuke casually yelled as he reached the top of the long stairs overlooking the valley which surrounded his master's mountaintop residence. As if in response, all the various fauna nearby began scattering away from the source of the raucous.

Genkai, master of the Spirit Wave technique and avid lover of peace, shook her head. She was looking forward to feeding her beloved sparrows and the various other aviaries which frequented her abode, only to see them scatter away in fear of Anarchy made Flesh. Pacifist as she was, she did what any peace lover would do.

"OW! What was that for!?" Yusuke shouted, grabbing hold of the lump which formed at the back of his head.

"Yukina, would you please prepare some tea? We have a visitor," Genkai said to the blue-haired koorime sweeping the yard, totally ignoring the rambling youth. The said girl nodded, gave a polite bow to Yusuke, and then made her way into the house.

"Is Kurama already here?" Yusuke inquired, having a change of mood with his sudden shift of interest. He looked around the area for any sign of the kitsune… he was certainly curious about what Kurama had planned for having this so-called meeting.

"Yes… he's inside the dojo," Genkai replied, motioning toward the patio. "I do believe he has some interesting news for all of us… thank you, Yukina."

Yusuke kindly declined the tea the ice maiden offered. "Do you have any idea what kind of enemy we're facing?"

"All in due time, Yusuke… all in due time," Genkai said as she took a sip of her own tea. "The rest of the Urameshi team will be coming soon, yes?"

"I don't know about that idiot Kuwabara… come to think of it, I forgot to tell him about the meeting in the first place… but I guess Hiei will be hanging around," Yusuke shrugged. "Is it important that we're all here?"

"Yes," Genkai responded, slowly moving toward her domicile. "But there's nothing to worry about… they'll be here. We'll all be here."


"Yusuke… good. You're here," Kurama said, his face barely seen with what little daylight was let in the dojo by the slightly opened door. The kitsune-avatar bore a somber state that the younger spirit detective had rarely seen outside of mortal combat.

"Yeah… what's up, Kurama?" Yusuke greeted, not missing the solemn look on Kurama's face. This must be serious. "What's going on? Does the old woman know anything about… him?"

"Master Genkai and I had a very interesting talk about that… but let's wait until everyone's here," Kurama said patiently.

With an exasperated sigh, Yusuke gallingly settled on the dojo floor sitting crosslegged. The teen always wondered why Kurama had to take the subdued, beat-around-the-bush technique. He was more of the straightforward, cut-to-the-chase type of character, in fighting and in life. All this waiting, for him, was more of a waste of time than anything else.

Kurama was always amazed at the amount of impetuousness and obnoxiousness that Yusuke possessed. He guessed that he must be irritating the hell out of the impulsive boy with all this waiting… but it was more than just for ceremony. It was all necessary in the end… and if his approximations of the situation were correct, then all would come to place at the meeting later.

"Kurama?" Yusuke asked out of the blue, quickly pulling Kurama out of his reverie.

"Yes?"

"Wanna play Last Caprice?"

Kurama blinked at that. That boy never fails to surprise me… he chuckled to himself.

"An RPG? Yusuke, I thought you were into fighting games," the kitsune teased.

"I'm thinking that this'll be a long wait," Yusuke said, unmindful of the mirth Kurama picked up in the situation. "Ah, hell… maybe Master Genkai wouldn't mind a few rounds of Hell Street 2…."

 

To be continued.


Next: A meeting in Genkai's house, as well as the coming of an unwelcome guest.

Author's notes: Note that the title is Shonen, not Shonen-Ai. Shonen-Ai (male-male relationships) and yaoi are just not my cup of tea. This is dedicated to Chimamire Kitsune for giving me the inspiration to write this fic… wherever you are, this is for you.

C. Castañeda, a.k.a. Abdiel

Chapter 2
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