Title: Balance of Thought, part two
Notes: Based on the anime eps 1-25. Alternate timeline from there.
“Boys, it’s time for dinner.”
Yusuke and Kuwabara looked up.
“But…” Yusuke protested – the green-yellow flames were still
surrounding a spot they couldn’t see.
Genkai’s eyes narrowed, “Hiei does not need protecting while on my
lands.” Her tone softened,
“Come in to dinner and you can check on him in the morning.”
“In the morning?” Yusuke
and Kuwabara traded looks. “What
is he doing there?” “Why will
it take that long?” “Why is he
there, but not there?” “How is
he there and not there?” “What’s
going on?” The last was rather plaintive.
Genkai shook her head, “I don’t know, and it’s none of my business. Nor is it yours.” She
looked over at the wall of flames, “Hiei will not appreciate your concern.”
“Actually, he probably won’t even understand it.”
Yusuke and Kuwabara whirled to stare at the red-haired fox-spirit who
they hadn’t seen approach. “Kurama.”
Kurama shrugged, the movement fluid.
Then he turned and walked off.
Genkai regarded them for a moment more, “If you miss dinner, I’m not
making more.” Then she also
walked back to the temple.
Yusuke and Kuwabara again looked at each other.
“We can’t leave him,” Yusuke finally offered.
Kuwabara nodded, but seemed uneasy.
“They don’t care.”
“They do… they think we’re overdoing it.”
“Hiei’s a demon, he’s strong.”
Kuwabara sounded like he was trying to persuade himself.
“We’re always fighting other demons and defeating them.
Strength isn’t everything.” And
Hiei says I defeated him. But...
I’m not so sure about that anymore. Yusuke
stared at the flames that were obviously not human and were no part of a power
that Hiei had ever shown before.
“I wish to hell I knew what was going on.”
Kuwabara paced around the flames, “He’s not there.
I’d swear he’s not. And
Yusuke watched unhappily, “I don’t like it.”
Kuwabara stopped pacing, “You go to dinner, I’ll take first watch.”
Yusuke nodded. That was the
way they’d have to do it. Logically,
he knew that Kurama and Genkai were right, but Hiei…
Yusuke was glad that Kuwabara, at least, was with him. But then, it was Kuwabara who had always been the first to
stand by his friends and do the good and right.
Yusuke still remembered the day that Botan had told them about the demon
insects invading their world. Yusuke
hadn’t cared. It didn’t affect
him. But Kuwabara had jumped though
the hole and for his pride, and his friend, Yusuke had to follow.
“Let me know if…” Yusuke
Kuwabara grunted sourly, “Not that it will, but if something happens,
you’ll be the first to know.”
With a grin, Yusuke went in to dinner.
Another day went by with Yusuke and Kuwabara trading off watching the
unchanging flames. Genkai and
Kurama didn’t let up on their training, but neither did they try to persuade
the boys not to watch.
Yusuke was over at the temple, trying to settle his mind for another
round of rei perception training when they were interrupted.
Falling from his precarious perch, Yusuke looked up, “Keiko!
Thank God; I hate that damn exercise.”
Keiko put her hands on her hips, “If you’re just using me to get out
Standing next to Keiko, Shizuru laughed scornfully.
“That exercise is a child’s trick.
If Urameshi can’t handle it, what’s he doing here?”
“Er...” Yusuke blushed red and didn’t know what to say to
“He’s training,” Genkai said dryly.
“And Yusuke, I did not say
you could stop!”
With a sigh, Yusuke got back up on the needle.
This ‘vacation’ wasn’t turning out anything like he’d thought it
would be. He looked upside down
helplessly at Keiko.
Giggling, Keiko apologized to Genkai for interrupting and left with a
wave and a smile for Yusuke, promising another time.
Kuwabara stood up, his rei sword active in his hand.
Nothing had changed about the flames.
Nothing, and yet... He stood
there for several minutes while nothing continued to happen.
Then a figure walked through the flames, the yellow-green darkening to a
solid black fire as Hiei moved through. On
the instant his form was revealed and present within them, the flames whipped
around Hiei and turned him into an unburning flame of darkness. It held steady for a moment before the fire settled into
Hiei’s body, a part of him.
Hiei turned a contemptuous glance upon Kuwabara, “Put away your feeble
There was a tinkling laugh from just behind him.
For the first time Kuwabara noticed the second person and his eyes
widened in alarm.
“He’s hardly a child, Hiei, and it’s not all that feeble for a
Hiei’s sour glance went to his companion, “If he wants to fight
demons, it’s feeble. And I don’t call him ‘child’ by your standards but
Meitta’s golden eyes twinkled, but she didn’t say anything else.
gaze flicked between the two.
“It’s temporary,” Hiei said shortly.
He frowned at Meitta, “I should have left you in the circle longer.”
She shrugged, “It would have mattered not.
In your flames, Quicksilver, I would not revert to the simple human.
Don’t you understand yet that—”
The not-human regarded Hiei with fond exasperation.
“We’re not in the void anymore, Hiei, even if it is temporary.
Stop dancing around and get your answer.”
Hiei’s pointed teeth flashed, “You taught me the Games too well for
that, High One. The Game will stop
when I finish it, not before.”
Meitta bowed gracefully, an acquiescent smile on her face, “Your move,
Whatever Hiei would have said next was forestalled by Yusuke running up
and skidding to a halt as he saw them. “Hiei!
You’re back!! Are you okay?”
Black eyebrows rose up Hiei’s forehead, setting off the middle eye
between them. Hiei stared at Yusuke
for a moment, then he flitted away and disappeared.
Kuwabara let his rei sword go, though he still watched Meitta warily. “So why are you here?”
Yusuke spun, noticing the change for the first time.
His mouth dropped open and he glanced to where Hiei had disappeared.
“Hiei left us with you?”
“Kazuma might not be a child, but you, Yusuke, often are close to it. You may not have the openness, but I doubt if you ever
curb your impulsiveness. Or your
tongue.” Meitta turned from Yusuke dismissively and faced Kuwabara,
“I am here because Hiei likes to play with fire.
And that is all I will say, ‘cousin.’”
The last word was spoken in a mocking tone.
She walked by them, passing so close they could feel her rei passing over
them like a light mist in the air, “I will return when there is only the New
The boys watched her disappear among the trees and then they looked at
each other. There was a minute of
silence as they absorbed the impact of the volatile personalities that were no
“So what happened?” Yusuke finally asked.
Kuwabara shrugged, “They came out of the fire, Hiei insulted me, they
exchanged cryptic remarks, and then you came running.”
“That was it?”
“That was it.”
Yusuke glanced around hopelessly, “But...”
“I know.” Kuwabara
glowered at the now empty practice field. “Shit. That was a bunch of time wasted for nothing.”
Returning his attention to his friend, Yusuke thought, not
for nothing... but he didn’t say it out loud.
Kurama sat in their room and waited.
He’d felt his mate return, and now he waited.
He wanted to go to him... but he knew he didn’t need to and that Hiei
would not appreciate too close a leash on him.
It wasn’t a leash... it was affection for his mate that translated into
anxious feelings while he wasn’t there. But Hiei wouldn’t appreciate the
very human ‘concern’ either. Hiei
could take care of himself. Kurama
wondered what he’d make of the boys watching over him.
A slight smile curved his lips as the thief thought about the constant
vigil the two boys had been holding. The
two in ignorance could get away with what Kurama in knowledge could not.
mate. Constantly coming and going.
Not what I’d wanted, but I want Hiei, so I will live with it.
Will I ever become used to it? Perhaps
he would in a decade or so, after they had become more settled with each other.
Or perhaps Hiei would learn to live with him.
Kurama wouldn’t force the issue either way.
And he knew that it would take several decades, if not centuries, for
Hiei to settle his Makai affairs enough for him to feel comfortable with Kurama
by his side, openly proclaimed as his mate.
What is valued, is endangered.
And even as Hiei would not risk Kurama, so Kurama would not risk his
human mother if they came to the attention of the Makai.
A hundred years is not so long to
“The fox is brooding.”
Kurama looked up, “The fox was waiting.”
Standing up, he held out his arms and Hiei moved into them.
They held close to each other, embraced in the hug, not letting go.
Gradually, the hug loosened enough for them to move closer in another way
as their lips met in a long and sustained kiss.
Putting out his rei, Kurama probed through his mate’s body, looking for
any damage and seeking to replenish depleted reserves.
With a start of surprise, he drew back from the kiss and looked
questioningly at Hiei.
Hiei shrugged, “It was different.”
Kurama narrowed his eyes at the demon.
The times before that Hiei had gone into the void in Kurama’s presence,
he’d come out drained completely of energy, so tired he’d curled right up
and gone immediately to sleep. This
time, he was fine – in fact, he was almost sparking at the edges with excess
“Do you need to know?”
Kurama considered that for a moment.
Need... Was it a simple
desire for knowledge, or was there something more behind the difference?
The differences... “The
fire barrier you put up before you went in – you absorbed it on the way out,
which replenished your rei.”
Hiei nodded, “That’s part of it.
Also, I used Meitta’s rei for the travel, which eliminated the need for
using my own.”
And there was no need to support
another when returning. Kurama
nodded in acceptance. Deciding that
right now Hiei wanted to talk more than cuddle, Kurama moved to a wall and sat
down on the floor to made himself comfortable.
He’d wanted the cuddling, but Hiei wanting to talk was unusual enough
that Kurama was more than content at the exchange.
Hiei raised an eyebrow, “Aren’t you going to ask?”
“About your Shinka.”
With a shrug, Kurama dismissed it, “She didn’t come back.”
He would miss the little vixen, but not as much as he cared about his
“Foxes...” Hiei rolled his eyes, “She’s back.”
“Huh!?” Kurama’s eyes went wide as he darted out a searching
probe... He pulled it in quickly with the feel of the wild rei.
That’s why I didn’t feel her. But...
“It’s temporary,” Hiei dismissed any concern about ‘Meitta’ and
returned to his main thoughts, “I have her promise not to harm Yusuke.”
Hiei glowered, “Or Yukina.”
A promise made in the void?
That’s... Kurama remembered the truth-in-nightmares they’d had
while unintentionally linked to the void. That’s
something that can never be broken. What...
an interesting use for that place. If it was a place. This
would require some research... Kurama squashed down his thoughts.
Another 50 years.
Patience. Just be patient a
while longer and I can go freely about again...
It was harder now to be patient than it had been for 15 years. Being partially out made Kurama want to be fully out.
This half-and-half was wearing on his hard-won patience.
Hiei was still frowning, “She said Yukina grew up while I wasn’t
Kurama looked up – he’d missed that part of Hiei’s reaction.
“And that bothers you,” he made it a statement, rather than a
“Yes,” Hiei replied shortly. “Yukina...”
He paced around the room. “Yukina
should not know pain.”
Kurama opened his mouth and then shut it again.
Who was he to talk of acceptance? He’d
never cared that much for someone, to want to protect them from everything,
including life and all its experiences.
“That’s not it.”
“And I’m not reading your thoughts.”
Hiei grinned briefly, “You’re good, my fox-human, but I’m your
mate. If I can’t read you, who
I can only accept that if I can
read you as equally well. Kurama
glowered at the short demon, not happy about the difference in positions and
knowing that if his mate tried to be impassive, he wouldn’t be able to tell a
Hiei snorted, “Well, you’re not exactly trying yourself, right now,
fox. If you’re being
kitsune-inscrutable, or worse yet, Minamino-faced, I have to wait too.”
“You know, that incredible ‘I’m so polite’ expression and voice
you use when trying to be a better human than the humans are.”
Hiei snorted again, “Not even I can read through that!”
Kurama sputtered a bit in indignation and then got back to the real
point, “Why are you worried about Yukina?”
“Worried?” Hiei paused
in his pacing, “It’s not worry... it’s...”
He paused again and then restarted, “Yukina has experienced pain and
hurt in her life before. She grew
up with the Ice Maidens and she lives in the Maikai.
She is not helpless, and she has been in the battles at Ice Mountain with
her sisters. Yet she has never
taken pain to her heart before. She
experiences, then goes on. Her life
is happy, and sweet, and full of delight of the little joys.
The pain, for her, has always been transitory, something that would not
last, so it was not worth keeping.”
Looking out the window at the daylight, Hiei sighed, “If Meitta says
that Yukina has grown up, it means that she has taken the pain into herself and
continues now despite it.” He
stared outside for a long silent moment. “And
it is my fault, for trusting in subordinates’ reports and not knowing when she
Deeply affected by Hiei’s speech, Kurama’s heart was wrapping around
the bit of his mate’s soul that he kept close to him.
I love him so. This demon of the blackest night, who can love another, and
care so much, and understand life in all its forms.
He is mine, and I love him for it.
It was not an unused heart that Kurama had claimed, it was an experienced
one. And he was Kurama’s now, and
Kurama wouldn’t let Hiei go. “It
wasn’t your fault.”
Hiei turned to face him, his expression watchful but not accepting nor
denying the statement.
Kurama tilted his head, “Three years ago, you approached me with the
job to steal the Great Treasures. When
I finally accepted, we spent almost a year working out the details, many of
which you had already scouted out. Your
plan to create havoc in Koenma’s world had been started well over a decade
longer. “For you to have
approached Yukina for closer contact than your remote watch would have
jeopardized her and the plan.” Kurama
shrugged, “Your logic was impeccable, as always.
It was Yukina’s entry into the human world, at a time you could not
have foreseen, that caused her danger.”
The silence dragged on after Kurama had finished speaking.
Finally, Hiei nodded and turned back to the window.
“Genkai is angry.”
As usual with one of Hiei’s abrupt topic switches, it took Kurama a few
moments to readjust. Genkai...
oh – Yusuke ran out of the training, and I came here. And none of us have come back yet. Kurama grinned, his sense of the mischievous acting up again.
“You go collect Kazuma and take him into training with Genkai.
I have to talk to Yusuke.” Hiei frowned. “He actually asked if I was
Kurama smothered a giggle and his eyes danced even more at the frown Hiei
directed his way. They’re
so cute... He stood up and
I’ll take care of my end.” With
another grin at his mate, he went off to act as the fox in human form.
Neither human-minamino, nor kitsune-youko, but a bit of both, when with
The ground looked like ordinary ground.
The grass was green, the soil was brown, there were scuff-marks from
fighting that had taken place over it... And
there was no sign of a fire that had burned there earlier.
Yusuke picked up a bit of the dirt and let it crumble from his fingers.
Yusuke spun around, his hand raised and his rei focusing... At the sight of the short figure in black cloak and
white-starred hair, he let out his breath and lowered his arm. “Hiei!”
“What?” Hiei raised an
eyebrow that disappeared under the new white cloth around his forehead.
Yusuke was sure that the demon was teasing him, but he was so bland about
it that there was always the chance that he was serious too.
“How come your fire didn’t burn the grass?”
Hiei glanced down at the ground and shrugged, “It’s not a human
fire.” He paused for a moment before adding, “It’s not that
powerful a flame.”
Thrown in more ways than one, Yusuke opened and closed his mouth a couple
of times before Hiei rescued him.
“I was asked the other day why I don’t call the Maikai Fire in
battle.” Hiei shrugged, “The
answer is that while it is good for burning Kurama’s plants and making
barriers, for a weapon in the Maikai, it’s not very effective.”
As Yusuke stared at him in surprise, Hiei warned, “Genkai was still
correct, though. One does not
reveal strengths or weaknesses to the public, or others will know how to use
And you just told me...
Another glimmer of trust from his friend.
No not a glimmer, a flame. Yusuke’s
grin spread across his face.
“Yusuke, I don’t need watching over, nor do I need to be asked if
I’m okay.” Hiei glowered. “If I am hurt, you will know it.
If I’m not, you don’t need to be worried.”
Kurama and Genkai warned us about
that. Yusuke shrugged. “It doesn’t matter.
I’ll still ask.” You have been hurt before, and not told us. In that, Hiei, you lie.
Yusuke accepted that not everything Hiei told him would be the truth –
truth was even rarer a commodity than trust, yet it was much, much less
Hiei cursed briefly.
Yusuke grinned. “Accept
it, Hiei, it’s not going to change.”
frowned, “We should go back to the dojo.
Genkai wants to train.”
“Okay,” Yusuke brushed the last of the dirt off his hands and
acquiesced without demur.
As they walked together towards the dojo, Yusuke rejoiced in the return
of his quiet friend. It wasn’t
often that he got to spend any time with Hiei except for the missions, and while
he enjoyed fighting, lately he’d
been wanting something else as well.
The late-night walks he’d take with Keiko along the wharf, the study
sessions with her and Kuwabara, watching Kuwabara spend time with his followers
while they patrolled their zones... Yusuke actually found that he enjoyed all that too. It
wasn’t fighting... but somehow it was satisfying. And weirdly, the closeness to his friends that he’d always
known was improved by his being with them at times other than fighting.
He didn’t understand it, but Yusuke was starting to accept it.
And he wanted it for his other friends as well.
Lately, he’d even been spending time with Masaru, as the younger child
would come over and call him ‘older brother’ and would want to play...
Yusuke had saved Masaru’s life without thinking about it.
There had been the brief contact with the kid and a moment of happiness
while they played... Yusuke had enjoyed making the kid smile.
But if he’d thought about it, would he have traded his life?
Yusuke wasn’t sure. To
deliberately die, for somebody he didn’t know... But he hadn’t thought about it and Masaru was saved.
And now the child called him ‘brother’ and came to play with him,
looking at him with those worshipful brown eyes and joyful innocence.
It made Yusuke feel weird, to know that somebody cared about him like
that. Somebody besides Keiko, who
had been in his life for so long Yusuke wouldn’t know what he’d do without
her. He’d never thought about
that either. Not until the day the
Fourth Beast had shown a vision of Keiko being hunted down by demon-controlled
humans, left to fend for herself while Yusuke wasn’t there.
That scared him. He had no
fears for Keiko while he was near. But
there was so much that could happen while he wasn’t...
“Hiei, what do you do while you’re not with us?”
Red eyes turned on him, flickering briefly in surprise and guarded
thoughts before becoming unfathomable again.
“Hn. Nothing much.”
Okay, that was a lot of answer...
Yusuke sighed and gave up. He
just wasn’t good at ‘casual conversation.’
But that was okay. He was
happy just to be with his friends – and to count Hiei as one of them.
“There they are,” Genkai remarked from the top of the steps, her arms
folded across her chest and smoke raising in the air from her cigarette.
“Incredible discipline in this group.
The trainers disappear, the students decide what they will do on their
own, nobody stays put for more than a half hour at a time.”
The elderly sensei looked up at the sky, “Will anybody tell me what I
did to deserve this?”
From behind her, Kurama and Kuwabara walked out of the dojo, while Keiko
and Botan joined them from the other side of the building.
Keiko laughed lightly, “Nothing to deserve, it, but easy to explain,
Genkai-sama – you took Yusuke as a student.”
Yusuke stiffened indignantly, “Hey, Keiko! I’m not that bad!”
Beside him, Yusuke felt Hiei stilling into total non-movement.
Keiko grinned at Yusuke, “Of course you are.”
She switched her attention to the person next to Yusuke and the smile
disappeared off her face.
“Hiei,” with no expression, Keiko acknowledged the demon.
Hiei responded, his voice low and remote, reveling nothing, “Yukimura
Botan’s hand flew up to her mouth and she turned to Keiko in surprise
and dismay. “But...” she
stopped speaking, and her face went white as she looked to Hiei.
“Hn,” Hiei snorted, “Foolish Goddess – did you truly believe that
your feeble attempt at memory-control would work on a person that I
claimed with jagan and Ghost Slayer?”
Kurama’s eyes went wide and his gaze flew to Yusuke as the two of them
shared an exchange of looks that said, ‘Oh
shit, we forgot about that.’
“I’m sorry, Botan,” Keiko apologized, not taking her eyes off Hiei,
“It just seemed like you didn’t want me to know.”
Yusuke wanted to reassure Keiko it was okay, but Keiko didn’t actually
look like she was upset...
“Uhhh...” Yusuke himself
wasn’t actually sure it was okay, but he didn’t know that anything was really wrong.
This was confusing. Hiei had
used Keiko as a hostage, but Keiko wasn’t supposed to remember that. But
Yusuke hadn’t even thought about that, until they brought it up.
It was just that Hiei was his friend now, and so was Keiko.
But Hiei had once threatened Keiko, and hurt her.
But Hiei was his friend. But...
Yusuke stood in indecision.
“What’s this?” Kuwabara stepped forward and moved to Keiko’s
side, his hand coming up in a movement to prepare for his rei sword, though he
didn’t activate it. His gaze was
focused on Hiei, ready to defend Keiko against anything, even Hiei.
“Hiei, you bastard, what did you do to Keiko?”
Botan was also stepping between Hiei and Keiko, “Hiei, you were
supposed to have released Keiko completely!”
“Released Keiko?!” Kuwabara sputtered and his rei sword activated.
There was a swirl of non-air through the scene and everything and
everyone became motionless statues as a pop of displaced reality echoed in
After glancing at the frozen tableau, Hiei looked up.
“Koenma,” he acknowledged briefly.
“Hiei! You said you’d
released Keiko! What have you
Hiei’s eyebrows disappeared under the cloth around his forehead. “You put the world in stasis to ask me that?” Hiei asked incredulously.
“Damnit, Hiei! This is
Hiei’s eyes narrowed, “Heir of the Underworld, what is your interest
in Keiko Yukimura?”
Koenma turned a furious red, “JUST ANSWER!
“Hn.” Hiei walked a few
steps towards the frozen Keiko and then turned to study Yusuke.
“You take an extraordinary interest in this human, Koenma, that you
would go to such lengths to protect one close to him.”
“You’re a fine one to talk!”
Flames burst about him, as Hiei whirled to face the diminutive god.
“Fuck it, Hiei! I let you
out here on certain conditions and—”
“Shut up, Godling! I know
damn well what conditions you made me sign, with a Contract roll the size of
your fist! Keiko is not under my
control, damn you!”
Koenma sputtered a bit then looked around the frozen group, “But the
Hiei rolled his eyes, “There are some things, Chibi-chan, that can’t
be undone. Because Keiko is not
under my jagan now, does not mean she was not in the past.”
The fire around him faded.
“Go back to your office, lonely little Godling.
Go back and watch from your vidscreen.
Remote and alone, always watching, but never able to be a true part of
the group. Go back, watch, and
learn.” Hiei’s voice was
bitterly cold and mocking, the blackness of the truth of his words biting and
Koenma turned a stark white as he stared at Hiei, the stricken expression
on his face making him look like a toddler in truth.
Then he disappeared and the world came rushing back.
“Hiei, you bastard! What have you—” Kuwabara’s bluster hiccupped
as the figure he was menacing disappeared from his sight and reappeared halfway
between Kuwabara and Yusuke. Knowing
Hiei’s speed, Kuwabara would not normally have thought anything about it, but
there was something odd...
“It’s okay, Kuwa-chan,” Keiko walked out from between Kuwabara and
Botan, laying one hand reassuringly on Kuwabara’s arm as she stepped towards
“Okay, but!” Kuwabara sputtered, “If that shrimp has hurt you,
Keiko-chan, I will make him pay!”
“It’s okay.” Keiko
said more firmly, her eyes drifting over to meet Yusuke’s.
Yusuke was caught between relief and puzzlement.
He was glad that Keiko didn’t hate Hiei, but at the same time, he knew
what Hiei had done... He looked at
his friend, “Hiei?”
Hiei turned to him. At the
look of trust and confusion on Yusuke’s face, Hiei’s almond eyes widened
nearly round. “Yusuke...
how...?” Hiei’s face snapped
back into his usual glower and he returned his attention to Kuwabara, “I held
Keiko hostage for the two Great Treasures that Yusuke had taken from my
“I gave mine to him!”
Ignoring Kurama, Hiei continued, “I cut Keiko with the sword Ghost
Slayer and I gave Yusuke one chance to defeat me or she would have been a demon
slave under my control forever.” He
looked to Keiko as he finished, “That is what I did to Keiko, and that is why
Yusuke defeated me.”
Keiko’s brown eyes were steady and clear as she nodded slightly,
acknowledging the truth of Hiei’s statement.
Hiei and Keiko held the contact for a moment more, before Hiei’s
attention turned briefly to Kurama and then locked on Yusuke.
“Why Yusuke keeps forgetting that, I do not know.”
“I haven’t forgotten it,” Yusuke muttered.
protested, “It’s just that...” He looked hopelessly over to Keiko, begging
Keiko sighed in exasperation, “Yusuke, you’re impossible.”
She walked over to him, her movements taking her directly past Hiei,
despite Kuwabara’s yelp of protest. With
a smile at Yusuke, she slipped her hand into his and turned to Hiei, “Yusuke
Impassive to the remark, Hiei stood there.
“I’ve known Yusuke since we were kids.
He doesn’t think too
Keiko silenced Yusuke with a glare, “—but his instincts for people he
can trust are never wrong.” She
wrinkled her nose, “They’re not all nice people, not like Kuwa-chan—”
“Hey!” This time it was Kuwabara who protested the description.
Keiko’s eyes twinkled at him and refused to change the description,
“—they’re not all nice, but if Yusuke trusts them, then I can too – as
long as they know I’m a friend of Yusuke’s.”
Disentangling her hand from Yusuke’s, she moved forward again, stopping
in front of Hiei.
“I remember what you did to me,” she said softly, “and I can’t
ever forget. But Yusuke trusts you,
and so I forgive.” She smiled,
“You’re not a tame demon, but I’ll be your friend.”
“Off again,” Kurama remarked lightly. He gazed fondly at the empty
air before turning to those left, “Keiko, you are an extraordinary woman.”
Keiko smiled at him, “I grew up friends with Yusuke – I have to
Yusuke was caught in between confusion and glowering.
“What did you mean, Keiko?”
“About the people you know?”
Keiko shrugged, “Gunji, Hiroyuki, Jun...”
She glared at Yusuke, “You really think I could be worried about Hiei
after you’ve introduced me to scum like those guys?”
“Uh...” Yusuke squirmed a bit. Okay,
Jun did get too rough with the girls, and Gunji hated just about everything, and
Hiroyuki could be a loud-mouth asshole with a wide destructive streak when he
was drunk, which was just about all the time, but they were also a hell of a lot
of fun to hang out with sometimes. After
he’d defeated them, of course. They’d
have never given him the time of day if he hadn’t roughed them up first.
Okay, they were scum, but Yusuke didn’t mind being with them.
No bartender ever bothered him about his age when he went with Gunji. And Jun had some connections...
“Amotowa Jun?” Kuwabara breathed out, his eyes going wide.
He turned a furious glare at Yusuke, “And you introduced Keiko-chan to him???
Urameshi, are you out of your mind?
He’s raped twelve women and brags about it! The only reason he’s not in jail are his mob buddies!”
“Hey!” Yusuke bristled at the reference to the mob.
His mom had some good friends in common with Jun.
Not that she liked Jun any better than Keiko did.
Keiko placed her hand on Kuwabara’s arm again as the bigger youth
started to charge forward angrily. “Kuwa-chan.
It’s okay. Jun won’t
hurt me. He won’t cross
“Damn straight, he won’t,” Yusuke agreed.
“That’s not...!” Kuwabara started to bluster and then he deflated
suddenly, looking tired. “Damn
you, Urameshi. You dance with the
devils and the angels together and still I follow.”
“Don’t you mean, dance with demons and goddesses?” Kurama
interjected, his green eyes flashing mischievously, as he grinned at Botan.
The Goddess stuck her tongue out at the Spirit Fox, “Yusuke hasn’t
danced with me.”
“Well, then, I think we need a party.
That has to be remedied,” Kurama laughed.
“Not at my dojo,” Genkai stated in a rather mild tone.
She put her pipe back in her mouth and glanced around the group
Kuwabara shook his head, not deterred by Kurama’s diversion.
“Hiei is a dark demon with an aura and bloody past that makes me shiver
every time I see him. But even he
is not as truly evil as Takatori Gunji.”
His troubled gaze rested on the delicate figure of the girl that stood
next to him, “Keiko-chan...”
After a longish pause, Keiko prompted him gently to go on.
Kuwabara swallowed, “Keiko-chan, I would defend you to the death if you
needed it. But... are you really
okay with what Hiei did to you?”
Keiko glanced out to the trees, her eyes resting on one tall pine tree as
she opened and closed her left hand
Her assent was quiet. She
looked back at Kuwabara and her voice gained strength, “Yes, I’m fine.
Hiei... I was only a pawn in
the game. And...” she trailed off
for a moment before resuming with a quirk of a smile, “And Yusuke defeated
There was a gasp from across the way and the group by the dojo looked
over to see Yukina, Shizuru, and Shinka all standing together.
Yukina’s hand was at her mouth.
“Yukina-san!” Kuwabara started to go to her, then hesitated and
stayed next to Keiko, his eyes troubled and split between needs.
Yukina lowered her hand and her soft red eyes locked onto Yusuke, “You
defeated Hiei?” There was enough
emphasis on the first and last words to make her meaning that of disbelief
rather than concern.
Yusuke frowned and complained, “Why does everybody have such a damn
hard time believing that?! Yes, I
Botan giggled. Yusuke glared
“Botan and Kurama were both there if you don’t believe me!
Hiei and I were fighting, and he’d pretty much cleaned the floor with
me when I pulled a sneak attack reflecting the rei gun off the Mirror of Utter
Dark. Hiei wasn’t expecting it
from behind after he’d dodged, and I got him in just the right position for
the reflected hit.” Yusuke
explained the fight as much for Kuwabara’s benefit as Yukina’s. He never had told Kuwabara about some of the missions he’d
done for Koenma when Kuwabara wasn’t with him.
Yukina blinked and looked over at Kurama, who nodded.
She turned back to Yusuke, “I’m sorry, Yusuke-san.
I didn’t mean to doubt you. I
know you defeated those sent against you by my captors.
I just hadn’t realized...” She
shrugged delicately, “Hiei is a very powerful demon.
You were very brave to have fought him.”
“Heh,” Yusuke puffed up under the praise, “It was nothing.”
“Nothing?” Keiko asked indignantly.
“Er, I mean after fighting Hiei, no monster seems too much,” Yusuke
Kurama laughed lightly and with delight, “Well, that’s certainly
true.” With his delight, he held
Yusuke’s gaze to him for a long happy moment.
When Kurama’s eyes turned in a different direction, Yusuke was lost for
a moment, still seeing the memory of a short spiky demon within the bright green
eyes of a red-haired fox spirit. Hiei
was not there physically... but in Kurama, he was always there.
Looking at Kurama, Yusuke could also see Hiei.
Yusuke’s heart turned inside out for a moment and he reached out to
Keiko, holding her hand and wondering if he could ever hold her as Kurama did
Hiei. Keiko drew in a breath,
looking frightened, but left her hand in his, and the edges of her mouth
twitched up in a tremulous happy smile.
“Is it time for dinner, already?” Kurama was asking the girls.
Shizuru snorted, “Hardly. All
the yelling sounded more interesting then watching those two go through
Genkai’s cooking books and oooing over recipes.”
She jabbed her cigarette towards Yukina and Shinka.
“We’re sorry if it was private,” Yukina apologized.
“No, we’re not,” Shinka grinned.
“It did sound interesting over here.”
She glanced over to Genkai, “No dance?
Why not – you used to enjoy dances.”
Genkai’s gaze moved to the building they were standing next to, “I
like my dojo intact, thank you.”
Shinka’s eyebrows raised at the statement, and she in turn looked from
the buildings to the gathering of youths and ghosts around them.
Shizuru nodded, “Different energies released.”
She didn’t expand on the statement but inhaled through her cigarette
and released the smoke in a floating trail.
Raising her hands, Shinka started to gesture through the air but paused
and looked to Genkai, “May I?”
The martial arts master nodded her permission and Shinka continued with a
quick incantation. When she was
done, there was a globe of light under her hands with multi-colored lightning
trails darting within. Shizuru drew
near to look into it, a confident nod confirming her original thoughts.
Kurama also went to look, though the very human mysticism was foreign to
his experiences in the spirit realms.
“Oh, I see,” Shinka dismissed the globe with another wave.
“What a clever setup, to direct uncontrolled rei release into the
“A necessary one,” Genkai depreciated the comment even as she looked
pleased at the remark.
“But a dance with this group,” Shinka continued thoughtfully,
“would pretty much be completely uncontrolled rei release and of so many
different types that it would take a rework of the wards to contain it.”
“And letting it through would draw unwanted attention.” Kurama
finished the idea. The basic concept was a keystone of the otherworld.
Shinka’s glance went to Kurama and she blushed.
Kurama noticed the direction of her thoughts and passed the glance onto
Genkai, who snorted with amusement. “Uncontrolled
rei release, of any type, is more devastating in the Makai than it ever could be
in our world. Hiei’s rei is never
uncontrolled, and spirit foxes have their own protection.
I do not spend time worrying about something that’s not a problem.”
“And something that is a
problem?” Kuwabara asked softly but without any hint in his voice that he
expected an answer. Turning from
the group, he walked away.
“Kazuma-kun...” Yukina hesitated for a moment and then ran after the
“What the hell is the matter with him?” Yusuke fumed, aware that he
was at the core of his friend’s sad mood but unable to figure out why. He looked over to his primary interpreter, Kurama, but the
fox-human only shrugged, not understanding it either, and by the look on his
face, not particularly interested. It’s
only Hiei that Kurama struggles to understand... and shares with me.
The 600-odd-years-old kitsune had Yusuke’s attention again, as he was
reminded of the span of difference in their ages and the very inhumanity of the
spirit within. And how alike they were. I
lived fourteen years in the human world, Yusuke mused, and
never knew what a friend was until I died.
As they had stood on top of the hospital building and Kurama talked about
his life and reasons for stealing the Mirror of Utter Darkness, Yusuke had for
the first time in his life felt a connection with another person.
Something that said, ‘I am not alone’ and made him actually want
to reach out. Keiko had always been
with him, so much a part of his life that he knew he never needed to reach out
to have her there, taken for granted as much as his mother. But these friends he’d made in the last year...
Why is Kuwabara upset?
Keiko shook her head sadly and tugged her hand out of Yusuke’s. “Never mind, Yusuke. Just
leave him alone for now.”
Keiko knows. Yusuke’s mouth turned down in a frown as he struggled to
figure it out.
Botan came up to them and gave Keiko a brief hug before leading her away,
“Now tell me what you remember about Hiei—” their voices trailed off into
Genkai shook out her pipe. “Okay,
Yusuke, back to training. You’ve
stalled long enough.”
“You were the one who came to me this week and said you wanted
training.” Genkai dispassionately
looked the youth over. “I have
many things to do and I put them all off for your training at your request.
Yusuke, you are the heir to my power and techniques.
And you will learn them before
I die. However, I’d also like you
to learn them before you die in one
of your otherworld missions.” She
turned her back to Yusuke and walked into the dojo.
Yusuke stared after her for a long moment before he sighed and followed
Shinka and Shizuru glanced at each other and then turned their combined
focus on Kurama.
“Home-grown vegetables...” Shizuru grabbed one arm and Shinka another
and together they hauled the fox-human to the kitchen with them.
“Last night was your turn.”
“And we’re taking turns now?”
“When I only have a few days with you, my uncommon fox, all the days
and all the nights are mine.”
Kurama tilted his head back and growled in a deep rumble as a slightly
rough tongue licked up his neck and fiery hands stroked his thighs.
Then both withdrew and Kurama yipped a little before opening his eyes.
Hiei was standing with his back to him, looking out the window as he drew off his cape, boots, and pants. Then he carefully folded them and placed them in a tidy little stack in the corner.
Kurama’s growl was deeper, seeing his mate revealed thus before him. Then a wicked gleam entered his eyes and he spoke in human
terms, “And tonight, no one will hear you scream.”
Hiei turned around, his red eyes expressing surprise before the corners
of his mouth quirked upwards and he advanced on the fox spirit. “You are the one who is going to scream, Kurama.
That I promise.”
“Yum,” Kurama licked his lips, “A promise from Hiei….”
He dropped his jaw in a feral grin, teeth gleaming bright.
“And what are you waiting for, dear demon?”
Without another word, Hiei pounced.
For a long time, the only sounds were of skin against skin and other
associated noises. Kurama was
determined to make his demon work at fulfilling the promise. Eventually, the
relative silence was broken as Hiei started to speak, in low, purring tones that
contained the essence of honey and sugar crystals, rough and sweet while melting
upon their recipient.
“Skin of mixed delight, smooth like a human, tasting of fox.”
Hiei ran his tongue across the expanse of leg from ankle to inner thigh,
eliciting a moan but no more.
“Hair of fox, color of riches.”
Hiei’s tongue and mouth moved upwards from the thighs and his fingers
played with the tangles of rough fur found there.
The glare Kurama had been thinking about giving him for bringing up the
color of his fur was lost in a melting of green eyes at Hiei’s actions. He almost cried out, but arched his back and let a tear
“The adventurer will travel over many plains and mountains, exploring
each, learning his way as he advances to his destination.”
Hiei purred as his fingers spread out over Kurama’s chest, drifting
over the ribs and muscles and tracing out patterns in seemly random manner yet
Kurama’s nerves were on fire and his excitement spiraled ever deeper, proving
that Hiei’s movements were not so random.
“As the sea possesses hidden depths, so does soul I love.”
Face down upon the mat, Kurama could not see Hiei, yet he heard the
whisper of sound that stroked the bond they shared and his heart reverberated
with it. He muffled his involuntary
cries within the pillow and pushed his back upward, seeking a more solid touch
to the feathery touches that were driving him mad. A chuckle of delight told him how nearly he’d lost it, but
there was a certain point where the pleasure was the object of the game, rather
than winning a challenge. And that
point was nearing soon.
The poet within Hiei continued to stroke with words as well as with body
and at a point that was not too soon and not too late but perfectly at the peak
of the spiral of delight, the promise was kept and Kurama cried out his
The scream reverberated through the building and Yusuke was awake and
running into the hall before the echoes died away, his fist glowing and his
senses looking for the danger. Kuwabara
was beside him on the instant, rei sword bright and his expression grim.
The two promised deathly retribution for that which had harmed their
The door became splinters and melted away with the combined force of rei
sword and gun.
Hiei faced them, a black fire dripping across his bare body and a
greenish-black flame of the fire held in his hand.
He stared at them for a moment while they stared at him.
Then the fire around Hiei disappeared and he turned from then and looked
downward. “And no one will hear
you scream?” Hiei’s voice dripped sarcasm.
“Kurama-baka; you said you were taking care of the barrier tonight.”
As the boys stared at the naked, shiny, exposed, and
obviously-not-in-any-danger body of their friend, Kurama’s eyes blinked open,
not focusing very well but expressing a contentment and satisfaction they’d
never seen before.
“Barrier?” Kurama’s voice was slow and almost purring, it was so
full of cream, “I blocked the bond. You
always do the barrier.”
The black fire burst out around Hiei again as he raised his hand to his
face, covering his eyes as he leaned into it without saying anything.
“Well, he did block the
A cheerful and giggling voice behind him brought Yusuke back to a sort of
awareness and he wrenched his eyes off the extraordinary view of a Kurama
replete with sex. Behind him and
Kuwabara was the rest of the group. All
six females. All of whom were
crowding in to get a look. Closest
and smallest, Shinka had wormed her way to the front and was peering around
“Oh my!” Shinka’s
voice was full of admiration and delight.
Shizuru crowded her way between the boys.
“Now that is a sight
actually worth exclaiming about,” she remarked dryly.
“I hope it was good as it sounded.”
“Better,” Kurama replied with a lazy smile, not moving but for his
eyelids which dipped down in satisfaction.
His body was still sprawled across the mat, arms to his side, legs spread
apart, with one knee bent outwards. The
rich red locks were in artful disarray, spread on the mat behind him with some
stray strands across his face and neck and chest.
His smooth skin glistened with sweat everywhere, and a slight blue fire
danced upon the droplets, barely visible but for rei vision.
A musky odor wafted through the room, not unpleasant, and hinting of a
Yusuke gulped at the sound and the sight and the smell and...
Yusuke gulped again and he glanced wildly around, trying to hide his own
growing reaction. He avoided
Keiko’s gaze but stopped and stared in surprise at the interested gaze of a
Botan blushed faintly but raised her chin defiantly, also raising the oar
she sat upon a few inches to get a better view inside the room.
“Botan…” Yusuke’s voice squeaked.
The Goddess shrugged, “There’s only so much avoiding it that one can
do, and, well,” Botan twitched the sleeves on her kimono, “I am
“Genkai?” Yusuke couldn’t help it.
He’d never think of his elderly martial arts teacher in the same way
Genkai’s snort was amused, “Boy, just because I’m too old to bear
any more children doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate the acts that make
them.” Her gaze wasn’t on the
supple figure laying on the floor, but was rather fixed in admiration on the
strongly muscled figure standing to one side.
Hiei looked like a dark marble statue of the Greeks, caught in a moment
of glory. Genkai gaze wasn’t
skirting any areas of the body. “Actually,
as one ages, one tends to appreciate more...”
Yusuke couldn’t help it, his gaze had followed Genkai’s and now he
Kuwabara finally recovered his voice.
He pointed his sword at Hiei, “Cover yourself, for god’s sake!”
Hiei dropped his hand from his face and he looked up in astonishment,
“There are women present – don’t you have any sense of modesty!?”
“Modesty?” Hiei glanced
at the remains of the door to their room and his flame turned from a black fire
to dark green. “You dare
to challenge me?” He advanced on
“Uh…” Kuwabara retreated before the glowering Hiei.
“If you were in the shower and Yukina screamed, would you stop for your
A purple glow brightened, attracting all eyes to the Jagan as it opened
wide, the purple color spilling out into the flame surrounding Hiei and
shrouding him at the same time as illuminating all the shadows.
A weight of heaven and earth and the sky and the ocean bent upon the
minds of all who stood there. They
were exposed, naked before the Jagan as the bearer’s body was before them.
Kuwabara straightened to his full height, staring Hiei steadily in his
eyes, “No, I wouldn’t.”
Hiei snorted and though the purple glow didn’t fade, the weight in the
Kuwabara hunched his shoulders, “But if there was no danger, I’d go
back to my room and put something on immediately.”
With a roar, Hiei launched forward.
Kuwabara’s rei sword barely activated in time to block the green-flamed
sword and they traded blows there within the hallway.
“Now that, I’d like to
see,” Yukina sighed. Then clapped
her hands over her mouth as Shinka giggled.
“Oh, I didn’t mean to say that out loud...”
Though the fight was between Hiei and Kuwabara, most of the eyes in the
group followed Hiei as the well-muscled, bare fighter presented a spectacular
sight. His upper body muscles
rippled and flowed with every dodge, every lunge, every block.
His legs were equally as muscled and a sight they didn’t see as often.
The Greek statue come to life, perfectly proportioned and glorious. Yet
he was not a statue as the sparks of his anger and fury flowed out of him,
creating a dripping dark-green glow around him.
He was Hiei.
With another block and a leap, Hiei and Kuwabara moved outside the
building. The group followed
automatically, as truly caught as if they’d been gathered in a net.
Outside, the fight was even more spectacular. Lit by no lights except their own, Hiei was bathed in green
and purple and Kuwabara in gold. The
trees around them flickered and shaded as the bodies floated by them.
There was a long regretful sigh from one of the group, “I suppose this
means I’m not getting him back in bed tonight.”
Several eyes turned to Kurama in various expressions of amusement and
disbelief. Kurama adjusted the
sheet over his shoulder and shrugged, “We weren’t done.”
Yusuke, whom Kurama was standing next to, gulped and his eyes went round.
Kurama’s sheet was gathered about him but not tucked in tightly,
revealing a mostly bare chest, and leaving folds and tantalizing glimpses of
rosy skin in some places, while other areas clung to a previously damp body, and
the sheet wasn’t that thick... And
it did nothing to mask the smell. The
wondrous aroma of musk and roses and electricity and fire...
“Nice sheet,” Shinka remarked, grinning.
Kurama grinned back, “If I walked out here as I was, no one would be
able to watch the fight.”
Yukina, her eyes not leaving a tall orange-haired fighter, snorted,
sounding remarkably like her brother, “You’re not that special, Kitsune.”
Kurama’s green eyes sparkled at the challenge.
“Ice Maiden, though I am not fire, I think it would not take so much to
make you melt.”
“Foxes have tried to make their way up the mountain before.
All have failed.” Yukina
didn’t even glance in Kurama’s direction as she spoke in the same gentle
tones she always used. “I prefer
“But humans are—” Kurama started to answer, when a blast of heat
and fire from the combatants brought all attention to them, cutting him off. Yellow and green flames licked around the locked swords of
the fighters and then burst explosively. Kuwabara’s
pyjamas turned to ash and fell off him. The
human fighter didn’t even notice as he threw back the shorter fighter’s
attack and then had to fall back himself under a strong return.
Kurama’s eyes widened, “Yukina, my dear, I’ve wronged you.”
His gaze drifted over the human youth in the prime of his growth.
As perfectly proportioned as Hiei, but taller and broader, with promise
of more to come. Kurama’s eyes narrowed again as he studied the movements of
the fighter, not so sure and smooth as Hiei’s darting attacks and evasions,
but with an innate grace of a dancer-in-training. A dancer, or a horseman, with
the balance to ride the wild bronco and tame it fierce. “I bet Kuwabara would hunt well...” Kurama’s feral grin
was back on his face, the fox sizing up the prey.
The air around the group dropped ten degrees and icicles formed on
Kurama’s sheet as he flinched with a yelp.
Yukina’s soft red eyes were glowing, “Kitsune Youko, this prey is not
The fox spirit turned to face the ice maiden, a grin splitting his face.
“It would be a fun dance...”
“Kazuma is mine, kitsune.
And you would do well to remember that fact.”
“Ah,” Kurama brushed the icicles off his sheet with a casual gesture,
“but you have not claimed him yet, my dear.
That leaves him open prey.” His
green eyes sparkled, “And even if you had, it doesn’t forgo the possibility
of a dance with others.”
“Just because the hunt is not yet over, does not give you territorial
rights on another’s ground. My
mark is upon Kazuma and no other’s will be.”
Yusuke made a strangled sound, his face burning red as he glanced from
the fighters on the grounds to the two that were fighting just as surely with
words. “But, but... Kurama...”
His disbelief finally pried itself loose, “KUWABARA????”
Kurama glanced away from the delightful spar he was having with the ice
maiden and regarded Yusuke’s disbelieving face with amusement.
The cold air swirling around the group solidified on Yusuke, who yelped
painfully. “Er, no, Yukina...
I’m sorry... I didn’t mean... Ah, it’s just that Kuwabara...” he trailed
“Honestly, Yusuke!” Keiko shot him a disgusted look, “Just because
you can’t imagine it...” She
looked over at the fighters and her mouth tugged upwards, “I think Yukina is
very wise in her choice.” A brown
eye slanted at the fox in his sheet, “I wouldn’t dream of poaching, though.
I can admire things that don’t belong to me.”
The other females in the group agreed with varying degrees of amusement
and sincerity. Shizuru was the lone
exception as she shook her head and announced that Yukina was welcome to her
brother if she wanted him but she didn’t know why.
Yukina returned the base temperature around the group to normal with a
sweet smile. She prodded Yusuke
with one last rejoinder, “At least the kitsune knows what to appreciate!”
then she stepped forward a pace towards the fighters so that her back was to
both Yusuke and Kurama.
The temperature around the group was normal, however, the two that had
incurred Yukina’s wrath were still shivering in their ice pockets.
Kurama moved closer to Yusuke and leaned against him, sharing warmth and
brushing icicles off while laughing softly.
“That was more fun than I’ve had in centuries.”
He regarded the turquoise-haired ice maiden fondly.
“I should have guessed that Hiei’s sister would have more fire in her
than was immediately obvious.”
Yusuke was still shivering but he wasn’t sure anymore if it was from
cold or heat, as his body blazed where Kurama was pressing against him.
Fire. Roses and silken skin
and a sheet that barely covered, and sparkling green eyes and that scent...
Kurama looked closer at Yusuke and frowned as he noticed the slightly
blue cast to his skin. He wrapped
his arms tighter around Yusuke and considered saying something to Yukina.
Before he could do so, however, around them was a gust of warm air that
swirled around them and entered in, removing the chill and bringing warm baths
to mind. Among other things.
Kurama smiled as he looked out to where Hiei was swinging his sword down
“Hiei-san!” Yukina protested, “I wasn’t finished punishing them
Yusuke blinked, “Hiei?”
Genkai regarded the ice maiden, “You are a very strong wielder of your
“They weren’t in any danger, yet.”
Yukina turned to regard Kurama with soft red eyes, “Were you?”
Kurama shrugged, “I wasn’t.” He
snuggled in a little closer to Yusuke, bringing his arm around the youth’s
chest, “However, this one is more mortal than I.”
Yukina’s hand flew to her mouth in dismay, “Oh, Yusuke-san!
I’m so sorry.” She bowed
to him, her pale cheeks rosy, “I forgot.
Please accept my apologies.”
“Er, no problem…” Yusuke was rather uncomfortable with the
attention, particular with Kurama so close to him… though he didn’t really
want to say anything about that… but Keiko was among those staring… Not that
Keiko looked like there was anything wrong.
There wasn’t anything wrong, actually.
This was okay, to have Kurama holding him to share the warmth – it
didn’t mean anything, not like it did when…
“Hiei-san,” Yukina made a bow out towards the fighters, “Thank
“Hiei?” Yusuke wondered again.
Kurama drew a little away from Yusuke and looked questioningly down at
Through his bafflement, Yusuke watched the fight for a moment before
phrasing his question with the situation, “That warm air was Hiei?”
“Yes, it was.” Kurama
also looked to where Hiei and Kuwabara were locked in not-so-mortal combat, and
his mouth dropped open in a grin as he finally realized what had Yusuke so
The others realized it too. Botan
giggled, “Hiei is a Jaganshi, Yusuke – clairvoyance is part of his nature.
He doesn’t have to be somewhere to watch what is happening there.”
Her expression wavered between concern and affection as she continued,
“That first time we encountered him – he made your ki-meter go off through
the use of his jagan. He is a
“But he’s fighting right now.”
Keiko looked out at the fighter and rubbed her hands together, “Hiei…
can concentrate on other things while fighting.”
Her voice wavered as she spoke.
“Keiko-san?” “Keiko?” Yukina and Botan both moved closer to the
With a shake of her head, Keiko indicated she was fine.
“When you were fighting Hiei… that time… He was also holding back Ghost Slayer on me.”
“Oh!” Kurama burst out, disentangling himself from the youth and
moving slightly away from Yusuke as his gaze flicked to the fighters,
“That’s why…” his voice trailed off.
Botan frowned, “Holding back?”
Keiko shivered again, her right hand rubbing her left as her face
reflected her pain. Yusuke shook
off his paralysis and walked over to her, hugging her as Kurama had just held
him. Keiko gratefully leaned into him. “Ghost Slayer… It
wanted me. It would have made me a
youko slave… but Hiei was holding it back, keeping it from taking me too
soon.” Her voice was bare of
expression as she explained, “Yusuke had to have something to fight for…”
Yusuke’s arms tightened around Keiko as he held her close.
He looked out to where Hiei fought Kuwabara and he felt his anger of the
first time raise up within him again. He
remembered… Yusuke shook his head. The
fight was over. He had won.
And Keiko was safe again.
“It’s a good thing Kaz-chan can’t concentrate on more than one
thing,” Shinka remarked lightly.
Genkai snorted, “Otherwise, this fight would now be more than just a
Keiko laughed, “I wouldn’t have mentioned that if Kuwa-chan could
Yusuke opened his mouth and then closed it again without actually saying
anything. He wasn’t actually sure
what he would have said. The girls
were right… Kuwabara would have taken Hiei apart, or tried to, if he’d heard
but Yusuke was Keiko’s…
… Yusuke looked down at the
brown-haired girl within his arms. …boyfriend? His mind winced away from the definition even as he thought
it. It sounded so… definite.
And he was definite. But…
There was a sad smile on her lips as the Goddess of the River Death
looked out at the fighters, “Kazuma Kuwabara is one who would right all
wrongs.” The words were unspoken, but still heard by the group, that
he was also one who would die trying. And that the Goddess would not be
Yusuke blinked. Wrongs? Why should
Kuwabara care so much about others that weren’t part of his group?
His own gang, yes – the guys had given their loyalty to Kuwabara, so he
would repay them in kind. And the cat… well, that was just Kuwabara.
But… Yusuke remembered the
look on Kuwabara’s face as he had committed himself to going to fight against
demons in their realm, without knowing anything about it.
And the adoring look on Botan’s face as she’d watched after the
Distracted, Yusuke glanced from Botan to Yukina, wondering if there had
been any tension there. But
Kuwabara was so convinced that Yukina was his future partner, with that ‘red
string of destiny’ nonsense… He’d
flirted with Botan before, but after Yukina… there had been no other girls
How would it feel? To be that sure? When
Yusuke thought of the future… He
shied away from the thought and resolutely turned his attention back to the
The women, and Kurama too, had been continuing a conversation while
Yusuke’s thoughts were elsewhere. Apparently,
they’d turned from Kuwabara to Hiei in the discussion.
“It’s rather odd to actually be watching
Hiei in a fight,” Botan remarked.
Kurama laughed, “Hiei is in sparring mode.” Kurama’s delight was
obvious, “I love it when he slows down to just barely above the speed of his
sparring partner, so we can see him. Graceful
and sure, with power contained and oh, so strong.”
The fox spirit growled hungrily.
“Randy fox – didn’t you just get yours?” Shizuru raised an
eyebrow in disbelief.
Kurama’s grin just widened.
Genkai snorted, “He’s training, not sparring.”
Huh? Kurama’s eyebrows snapped down in a frown, but he made no
other sign of his displeasure. Or
he thought he hadn’t. His
estimation of the human martial artist rose as a slight golden light appeared
around Genkai’s hands in response to his change of mood.
It was so faint as to be barely noticeable, but it was there as she’d
sensed a threat.
Genkai regarded Kurama calmly, as if she hadn’t readied her defenses,
“When Hiei is simply sparring with Kazuma, their fights are littered with
insults and verbal jabs. What Hiei
is doing right now is training – they are silent and Kazuma is so focused on
Hiei that he hasn’t even noticed us.”
Kurama returned his full attention to the fighters on the ground. Their battle had ranged throughout the courtyard but was
staying basically in front of the house where they were gathered.
And it was due only to Hiei’s direction of the fight.
Kuwabara’s attention was as totally on Hiei as Genkai had indicated.
And his moves responded to Hiei’s... and then imitated. Kurama’s gaze
went from the fighters to the old human martial artist.
The human regarded him indifferently, though her power still hovered at
the edges, ready if she needed to call it.
“Hiei and I are trainers to our students.
You are a friend to them.”
Our students? Kurama’s eyes narrowed as he studied the fighters again.
They came together for more blows, then separated again.
Kuwabara’s sides were heaving as the sweat poured down his body.
Hiei’s fire flickered but he barely breathed.
Suddenly, Hiei’s dark-green sword flared and disappeared from his
hands. Kuwabara backed off, his
golden sword blocking across his body as he waited for Hiei’s move.
Hiei’s move... was to change forms.
The purple energy that had been swirling around him pulled close and
there was the heavy feeling in the air as Hiei’s skin shaded into green and
more purple eyes started appearing all over his body.
His hair flickered and waved around his head and then settled into two
Kuwabara gulped, his sword wavering.
Then he straightened and his golden sword flared bright, spiraling up
into the sky until the whole glade lit with its brightness.
The pose held for a moment before the spiral of light collapsed down,
condensing as it fell into Kuwabara and lighting him with a golden glow.
From the onlookers, there were inhalations of admiration as the rugged
and rough human took on the appearance of a golden metal god with the power of
his rei worn around him.
Kurama’s gaze took in every detail of Hiei as the short demon watched
the human. The demon’s mouth had
curved up slightly and his head nodded downwards in a bare motion of approval.
He is more than merely teaching him
for Yusuke’s sake. That is an instructor’s approval more than a companion’s.
Hiei has truly taken the human as a student.
How did I miss that?
But even as he wondered, Kurama knew the answer.
Compared with Yusuke, Kazuma Kuwabara was but a shadow.
The human was nothing to Kurama’s interest, and so he paid him little
thought. But somehow the clumsy
fighter had attracted Hiei’s attention. Kurama’s
gaze flicked to Hiei’s sister and then to the human teenager she had claimed.
It was reasonable... Except
that he didn’t think that that was the answer.
Hiei had, as he always did, created another mystery.
I knew I would eventually take a
mate. I hadn’t expected my mate
to be so unknown to me. It was disquieting, how much of Hiei he did not know.
Disquieting... and fascinating. Somehow,
Kurama didn’t think that a known mate would be nearly as interesting as this
fireball of his. Despite 600 years
of expectations, he was well pleased with what he’d finally gotten for a mate.
From the golden and green bodies, there was an explosion of energy in the
field as they matched this time with direct blows and fists of energy rather
than distances of air and swords.
Yusuke’s mouth dropped open as he watched them, knowing that somehow in
that moment, Kuwabara had gone beyond him.
In disbelief, he moved away from Keiko, closer to the fight.
Kurama’s rich voice drew him back and turned him to face the green-eyed
fox, who was looking at him with smiling pride, “You don’t have to learn
that – it’s what you already do. You
wear your ki within, and it is already in your every action.”
His heart swelled at the approval in that beautiful face.
Yusuke turned automatically, though, to look to another…
Genkai snorted, “Control, boy. It’s
control that you have to learn.”
With a nod, Yusuke accepted his teacher’s word and returned his
attention to the fight again, content that Kuwabara, though now trained in that
maneuver, wasn’t as good as he was naturally.
As Yusuke’s attention focused on the fight as a fight, and
wasn’t distracted, well, mostly wasn’t distracted, by Kurama or Keiko, he
was struck again by Hiei’s speed and beauty in a fight.
Hiei’s speed had always been the most formidable thing while fighting
him. That first time... Hiei had
taunted him mercilessly, blurring faster than Yusuke could watch; until he
concentrated. When Yusuke stopped
trying to look and instead simply let himself know, he could
follow Hiei without a problem. It
had taken Hiei by surprise, earning the demon his first blow in the fight.
And even then, he was playing still.
Yusuke grimaced as he recalled the knowledge that the demon had looked on
him as nothing worth more than a temporary diversion.
Why, even at his ‘speediest’ in the fight, he hadn’t been moving
half as fast as he was while fighting... training... Kuwabara now.
The only time Hiei had moved to full speed was when Kurama had
intervened, taking a sword through his chest that had been meant for Yusuke.
The pain of it closed Yusuke’s eyes for a moment.
I can stand anything that happens to me, but when it’s my
friends... it’s not right when it’s my friends.
Kurama, Keiko, Kuwabara... and Hiei.
His enemy that had become his friend.
‘Something to fight for.’
Hiei had understood what Yusuke had needed from the beginning.
Koenma still didn’t. Yusuke
worked for Koenma because it was something to do, but he didn’t really care
much about the assignments themselves. It
was the challenge in using his powers and the delight in being with his friends
that made him accept that which Koenma sent him.
Everybody assumed he worked for Koenma, but really, Yusuke had never said
he did. Koenma...
Yusuke didn’t really know much about the little God.
Even after a year of talking with a God, and doing work for him, he
didn’t know him. And that made
Yusuke uneasy when he thought about it. A
toddler in form, but one who Hiei... He
still didn’t know what it was between Hiei and Koenma. There was anger there. Heaps
and heaps of anger. But...
As Yusuke watched the fight, Hiei dodged backwards around a tree at the
last possible second and Kuwabara who had been pressing him close slammed
straight into it. Hiei’s return
attack was from the side as he stepped back around.
Kuwabara went down under the onslaught of quick fists, but his golden
shield of ki power kept him safe until he could stand again.
Yusuke noted that Hiei carefully kept his fists closed.
In that Jaganshi form of his, his talons were wicked and sharp.
But he didn’t use all of his powers when fighting Kuwabara.
As he hadn’t when fighting Yusuke.
If I hadn’t tricked him, I would have lost.
But that was true of so many opponents that Yusuke fought – it wasn’t
always sheer power that won Yusuke the fight, but combinations of many things.
In the end, all his opponents went down.
As Hiei had, for threatening Keiko.
Something about his last several thoughts bothered Yusuke.
He couldn’t pinpoint it, but it was there. In the back of his mind, hovering at the edges.
As Hiei hovers... Hiei...
Yusuke blinked. Hiei was a
Jaganshi. He still didn’t know
what that was, entirely, but... Yusuke’s
eyes narrowed as he watched the demon he’d called a friend.
A rage was starting to burn deep within him.
He didn’t... Yusuke
didn’t want to believe it. And
yet, the evidence... Evidence.
With a face still as death and his emotions colder than the ice sheet
Yukina had covered him with, Yusuke brought up his hand and fired off a rei bolt
faster than human eyes could follow.
The bolt slashed through the dark and pierced the air where the Jaganshi
Master had been standing a moment before. With
his back to the bolt. With his
attention on Kuwabara whom he had been fighting.
With his purple eyes in his back following the movement of the bolt and
widening as they looked beyond to Yusuke.
The demon twisted around in the air and came to the ground facing Yusuke
with a surprised look on his face. Kuwabara
stood beside him, his own face bewildered, “Urameshi, what was that?”
“You fucking bastard...” Yusuke ignored his friend as he concentrated
on the demon. “You knew my
rei bolt was behind you!”
Hiei’s eyes, all of them, widened.
His two normal red ones closed for a moment in what Yusuke would have
thought before was ‘pain,’ but all the other purple ones across his body
were still staring at the human youth. All
of them. Eyes that could see.
Eyes that were watching. Eyes
in his back that could see things behind him.
“Hiei is a
Yusuke’s anger burned hotter than Hiei’s flames.
“You BASTARD!!!!!!” Yusuke launched himself at the demon, intent on only one thing: winning the fight that he knew now he hadn’t won a year ago.
End Part Two
Part Three is coming! o.o Really, it is...