Actions

Work Header

365 Days in the Sun

Chapter Text

He was five when a little boy had pushed him in the sandbox. The sun blinded him for a moment as he looked up at his assailant, determination not to cry in his young eyes. There had been a tiny giggle, half of an apology, and a hand offered to help him stand.


Under the heat of midday he met two smaller children, both his age. There was a girl whose name reminded him of cake (”Your name’s Kēki?*” She had said no and repeated her name. He still heard Kēki everytime she spoke), and a boy decorated in green and purple band-aids. The boy accused him of being a giant, and then laughed as if it was the most amazing thing in the world.


He spent the whole day playing away, laughing loud and occasionally arguing with the little girl about who got to be in the honorary position of best friend for the other little boy.


Around dinner time Kazuma Kuwabara’s mother took his hand and led him away from the sandbox. He waved good-bye and promised to see them again next time.


There was no next time.


With vague regret and a jealous pout Kazuma reasoned that the girl whose name sounded like cake would be the other little boy’s best friend after all.



“Shit it’s hot!” Kuwabara remarked just before Sawamura pressed a cold can of soda to Kuwabara’s swollen eye.

 

When the can came in contact with his face Kuwabara squawked, flinching from the cold and pain the can brought.

“Geeze is the heat all you can complain about?” Kirishima asked wrinkling his nose as he looked down at Kuwabara. “Your face is so messed up!”


Okubo roughly elbowed his taller friend, and shot Kirishima a clear look of: Shut the hell up!


Kuwabara laughed, and his eyes followed the retreating form of a green uniform. The figure’s shoulders were slumped as if the weight of the world was crushing them…maybe it was.


“That guy is some badass…” Kuwabara whistled, unabashed elation in his voice.


“Earth to Kuwabara!” Sawamura chided waving a hand in front of Kuwabara’s face, his tone heavy with disbelief and disapproval, “That guy beat you into the pavement! What are you smiling about!?”


Kuwabara laughed, “Ah you guys wouldn’t get it…I just…” Kuwabara tried to find the words, but there were no words to describe what he was feeling. This was his first fight that hadn’t come easy. The first time he’d lost, the first time he hadn’t won a victory that left him hollow and wishing for something he couldn’t put a name on.


Through his swollen eyes he followed the green uniform until it was gone. “Tomorrow,” Kuwabara finally said, “Tomorrow i’ll fight that guy again! I’ll fight him again, and win!”


“You’re nuts!” Kirishima snorted.


Kuwabara ignored him, eyes lingering where the green uniform had once been.


“Did anyone catch that guys name?”


“Urameshi something I think…”


“Urameshi huh?…Urameshi.”



He was looking at the sun.


That’s funny…wasn’t…wasn’t he doing something else just a minute ago?


“NNOOOOOOO!”


A cracking shriek filled the air, and brought Kuwabara’s eyes away from the sky and down towards his chest. A hand was pushing into his flesh.


Ah.


That’s right.


He blinked as the shock began to wear off and the pain set in.


Just as he was registering that he was actually impaled on Toguro’s hand, Toguro roughly yanked it out. A red carnation bloomed from his chest, hovering in the air for a moment before wetly splashing to the ground. Colors were exploding all around him, the air felt tight, and his skin prickled with cold as a hot sun beat down on him.


Was this what death was like?


Bleary eyes sought out the face of his greatest rival and greatest friend. From this distance Kuwabara couldn’t make out Yusuke’s face, but he could make out messily slicked back black hair.


“Okay Urameshi…”


The effort of talking made him throw up. He was surprised to see that it wasn’t vomit, but more blood. A hand came to his chest – he had to plug up this wound. He had too much left to say…


“It’s all you…I did what I could….” Kuwabara reached for Yusuke. The colors of the world became wet and swam together. Kuwabara continued speaking though in a way he didn’t know what he was saying. He just focused on the blur of his best friend in front of him. He had to talk to him…he had so much to tell him.


Most importantly, Kuwabara didn’t want Yusuke to give up. And if Kuwabara stopped talking...maybe Yusuke would give up? Kuwabara couldn't explain this feeling...but if he...he stopped talking to Yusuke, if he just left...something inside of him told him Toguro would win.


At some point Kuwabara couldn’t make out his friend’s form anymore…and he dropped his arm heavily. He’d said what he needed to…he was sure of it even if couldn’t remember the words.
The white light of the sun blinded him even as the dirt came rushing up and met Kuwabara full force. As he was swept up in unconsciousness he was aware of a strong surging power exploding all around him.


It made him think of Yusuke, and then the darkness won out and Kuwabara embraced the clam of quiet blackness.



Kuwabara grunted loudly as he was tackled into the sand.


His best friend’s laughter, and a woman’s giggle made him smile. Wet and cold from the beach water, Kuwabara craned his neck and looked at the two who were perched happily on his back, as if they belonged there squishing him into the wet sand.


“Ugh you’re heavy!” Kuwabara complained.


Keiko gasped, cheeks flushing red, as she splashed Kuwabara with salty cold water, “You take that back! I’m light as a feather!”


“I’m not!” Yusuke snorted devilishly, as he dug his elbow in Kuwabara’s back.


Kuwabara grinned despite the bony pressure on his spine. He’d been lying of course…with how happy he was feeling those two weighed nothing.


In mock annoyance Kuwabara grunted mumbling incoherent complaints as Keiko continued to argue her weight, and Yusuke continued to dig his elbow in to his spine.


Kurama’s laughter caught his attention, and Kuwabara flashed the red-head a grin as Kurama began to approach them. Botan, Yukina, and Shizuru were in the background-giggling about something. Kuwabara bet it had something to do with his current state.


This day was almost perfect. The sun was out, the day was warm, and the warmth of having Yusuke back home filled the empty void that had been a constant at Kuwabara’s side the past few years. The day was almost perfect.


It just needed one more irritant.


And as if answering his call, Kuwabara picked up a familiar presence. He ignored Yusuke’s cackling and Keiko’s girlish complaints, and craned his neck, eyes seeking out the source of this new but familiar aura. There just behind his sister and the girls, walking slow and face surely indifferent, was Hiei.


Kuwabara grinned.


Now the day was perfect.


“Yusuke don’t!” Keiko squeaked in protest.


Yusuke had gotten to his feet, and then dropped on Kuwabara digging his elbow hard into Kuwabara’s back.


Kuwabara’s shrill cry of pain set off a stream of raucous laughter.



Arching his back as much as it would allow, Kuwabara stretched out his tired bones and yawned loudly. His sudden movement startled his gray cat who jumped and turned to look at him as if he’d committed a crime.


“What? Geeze…” Kuwabara cackled, the cat sticking up his nose and walking away from him.


“Fraidy-cat!” Kuwabara called after the snooty animal.


The cat of course paid him no mind.


Kuwabara chuckled his amusement and adjusted the blanket on his shoulders. It was a brisk winter’s day, and the sky was filled with clouds. Not a speck of sun, but the barren trees, and the left over ice from the last storm, made everything look like it was enveloped in a dull white light.


Kuwabara hopped up, and almost stumbled. His old bones rattled when he got up too quickly. He supposed a long life of 103 years would do that to a person. But besides a few stumbles here and there, and maybe momentary lapses in memory, Kuwabara was as spry and sharp as he ever was at 14.


Tugging the blanket closer to him he began to walk. He wasn’t planning on going too far, just a walk around the shrine’s courtyard. Yusuke had gifted him Genkai’s old shrine, thinking it fitting that another psychic inherited the place.


His thoughts drifted to his friend, and Kuwabara cracked a grin. Yusuke, Kurama, and Hiei were supposed to come over today, and maybe even perhaps their other friends. It would be a regular party with the whole gang here!


Botan and Koenma had already been by the morning, the two popping in for early morning tea, and to to chat about this and that. It was an unexpected, but welcomed visit. Botan was as cheerful as ever, chirping away about this and that, and Koenma would chime in every now and then with his two-cents about something or other-always with a slightly arrogant air. It made Kuwabara's eyes roll to hear him, but the familiarity of Koenma's attitude warmed Kuwabara inside and out.

 
About ten years ago Kuwabara had stopped training youngsters for Koenma’s services, and sometimes things were a little quiet at the shrine. Not that a bunch of his students didn’t keep visiting…Heck, some of them even tried to move into the shrine to, “help,” Kuwabara out. Kuwabara dismissed them, promising his students that he’d whoop them if they made any more suggestions of taking care of him.


They meant well, but he was fine on his own.


He had a wonderful life…and he’d done fine taking care of himself and his friends. They had in turn taken care of him…Kuwabara saw no reason that he would need any extra help. He cherished his alone time at the shrine, as well as the ability to live alone.


A speck of light on the ground caught his attention. He looked up, and a smile stretched across his weathered face. The sun was coming out.


“Ah Good!” Kuwabara remarked as golden white warm light peaked through the clouds. His smile continued to grow as the light washed over him and as the warmth embraced him, he let his blanket drop to the ground.


A soft mewing sound caught his attention and he looked ahead. Walking towards him from the direction of the shrine steps was a white cat. It had the purest fur Kuwabara had ever seen, and even from this distance he could see large golden eyes.


“Beautiful creature…” Kuwabara whispered as the cat came to sit in front of him. A calm was settling over him, and with it a reluctant understanding and knowing.


“Kuwabara.”


The cat slowly stretched into a human form, a young beautiful woman in a kimono with a peony pattern. It wasn’t Botan, but Kuwabara knew who she was, and why she was here. He took one last look at the the sun, thought of a girl whose name sounded like cake, and a boy covered in green and purple band-aids…and then offered his arm to the pretty woman-always the gentleman.


Arm in arm, she led him towards the sun.


End

Chapter Text

Yusuke hated peeing in public. 

It was all Kuwabara's fault.

Before he met Kuwabara, Yusuke could take a piss anywhere. Piss at home, piss at school, piss on on subway, piss out a moving subway, piss off the side of a bridge, piss at a restaurant, piss at a bar, piss in a bar fight, piss outside the bar, piss on the bar owner, piss in a graveyard, piss in the girl's locker room, piss on some thugs body's, piss in the snow, piss on a tree, piss on the shrine steps, piss on himself while suffering a near fatal injury from Genkai after pissing on said shrine steps-Yusuke Urameshi used to be able to piss anywhere and not have to think about it.

That changed after he and Kazuma Kuwabara became friends.

Yusuke didn't think he was the type of person to take notice of other people's behaviors...but sure enough after a few missions and a growing friendship, Yusuke began to notice odd things about Kuwabara. Kuwabara hardly ever peed in public. That wasn't too odd, it would have been one thing if Kuwabara never attempted to go, that would probably go unnoticed by the spirit detective. But no, Kuwabara did try to go to the public bathrooms, it was just that Kuwabara would often come running out of the bathroom like he was being chased. Sometimes Kuwabara would get up head towards a bathroom, and then come to a complete stop before reaching the door. After a moment, Kuwabara would turn around and retake his seat.

When Yusuke noticed these weird incidents, the young punk just thought Kuwabara was a little nuts. After all Kuwabara was the weirdo who kept getting back for more beat downs, no matter how hard Yusuke was on him. So Kuwabara bolting from a bathroom...well that couldn't be too weird right? But after a while of seeing these weird incidentals, Yusuke one night at some nameless restaurant followed Kuwabara to a bathroom-and before Kuwabara could turn around Yusuke had shouldered them both inside.

There was nothing abnormal about the bathroom. Four urinals in a row, two stalls, three sinks, three mirrors...just a bathroom. It was a little unkempt of course, toilet paper on the floor, dirty jokes scrawled on the wall in permanent marker, and a couple flickering lights. All in all, it wasn't so bad. Yusuke had pissed in worst places. Yusuke turned a cocky eye to Kuwabara, and was surprised to see how pale the taller teen had gotten.

"Come on man...don't you need to go?" Yusuke finally asked as the two stood there. When Kuwabara didn't respond Yusuke jabbed a thumb in Kuwabara's chest, "Come on man! You always chicken out with bathrooms! Got a phobia or something?"

The challenge in Yusuke's voice seemed to snap Kuwabara out of his frozen state and Kuwabara mechanically walked over to a urinal. Satisfied, Yusuke chose a urinal away from Kuwabara, and proceeded to try and go...but the tension radiating off Kuwabara, made Yusuke unable to go.

Another minute of silence ticked away, and Yusuke burst, "Okay man!" Yusuke was frowning completely frustrated, and annoyed at his nagging guilt for shoving Kuwabara in the bathroom, "What's up? What are you so freaked out about?"

Kuwabara frowned and looked down staring hard at the blue urinal deodorizer block. It was almost comical to see a six foot tall guy standing slightly bent in front of a urinal, his flaccid dick held in his slightly trembling hands. But Kuwabara's face was drained of color, and Yusuke was finding it hard to find anything about this situation funny. His face was clearly distressed.

Yusuke knew that there were a few rules about guys in bathrooms-and one of those was surely don't stare at the other guy in the bathroom. Another rule was probably not to stand next to each other in a urinal. Yusuke tucked his penis back in his pants, and stood next to Kuwabara bumping shoulder to elbow with the larger man. 

"Hey," Yusuke said in a low voice, "What's going on with you?"

Kuwabara flinched, lips setting into a thin line. Yusuke remained calmly next to Kuwabara, waiting for an answer. 

"Come on man...I'm just gonna stand next to you...in a bathroom, side by side...looking like some gay couple-"

Kuwabara snorted...and like that the tension broke into a bit of childish giggles.

"Urameshi...I don't think gay couples stand next to each other, shoulder to shoulder, in a urinal. I think they got a bit more class than that..."

Yusuke shrugged, "I wouldn't be standing next to ya like this if you weren't being such a nut! What's going on? Out with it!"

Kuwabara frowned, and flinched at Yusuke's persistence, but there was a look in his eyes that said he was about to burst. Yusuke nudged Kuwabara again, and finally Kuwabara spoke.

"...You know how sometimes when you're alone in a public bathroom...you get this creepy feeling...like something's not right?" Kuwabara gushed, not waiting for a response from his shorter friend, "Well Urameshi...that's cuz most bathrooms seem to have a lot of pissed off creepy fucking ghosts inside of it!" Kuwabara rushed the last few words out looking like he was waiting for Yusuke to accuse him he was lying or laugh at him.

At first that was exactly what Yusuke wanted to do. Throw up his hands, laugh, call Kuwabara of being an idiot...but Yusuke didn't. Instead he thought about how Kuwabara had been able to sense him when he was dead, and how blue in the face had gotten. How when Kuwabara went to Genaki's shrine he claimed to see things he never wanted to see and had broken in a sweat. How when they were at the Maze castle, they'd really depended on Kuwabara's growing psychic abilities to see them through the winding halls. Perhaps for the first time in his life, Yusuke thought before he spoke, and when he did speak he only asked, "What do ya see?"

Kuwabara looked at Yusuke, shock and then instant relief spread all over his face. The look of utter gratitude on Kuwabara's face made Yusuke's throat feel tight. 

"Urameshi, I swear to god there's a head in every urinal, and in the corner there's something tall and black slamming its head into the corner!" Kuwabara chatted on, relief and horror mingling in his words, "I swear I'm not making this up and I see these weird things all the time in these places! Sometimes there is nothing...just a real bad feeling...and I..I can't go in man. I'd rather piss on the sidewalk then go inside places like this!"

Kuwabara's eye begged Yusuke to believe him-and Yusuke did. Looking at Kuwabara in the state he was in now, there was no way Kuwabara was making this up...which made the bathroom suddenly very unsettling. Yusuke felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, and looking past Kuwabara, just in the corner, he could swear he saw a glimpse of black figure...banging his head against the wall. Yusuke felt his throat tighten, and in the silence of the bathroom, and echoing thud filled the air.

That was it.

Like screaming idiots the two ran screaming from the bathroom, and far from the restaurant, and only when they were in an alley did Kuwabara realize he hadn't tucked his penis back inside his pants.

Kuwabara cursed, situating himself, sank to the ground with his hands in his hair and groaned, "Ah shit man! I can never go back there again! Ah man!"

"Fuck why would you want to go back?! Especially if you're seeing all that? Jesus man!" Yusuke wheezed his heart racing a mile a minute.

"...it's not like they're there all the time. And most the time they're not gonna do anything to you...it just freaks me out!" Kuwabara sighed. He exhaled hard and whispered, "Thank you man...for believing me. I've never...I've never told anyone that before."

"Shit...well....Yeah..." Yusuke mumbled shrugging his shoulders.

He was new to this male-friendship thing...and it was weird being thanked for standing by Kuwabara, for believing him. It was kind of nice too.

Yusuke sighed, "I kinda wish you hadn't told me all that though! I'm never gonna be able to pee in a public bathroom again!"

And Yusuke was right.

He was now forever pee-shy. And it was all of Kuwabara's fucking fault!

 

End

Chapter Text

"...You ever hear Hiei fart?"

Kuwabara slowly blinked, his brain seeming to come to a halt. As his brain imploded, Yusuke used this moment to deliver the finishing move on Sakura, Kuwabara's selected street fighter character. 

"What?"

"You ever hear Hiei fart?" Yusuke asked again, pausing their game and reaching for a bag of opened potato chips.

"No...no..."

"You think Hiei can fart?"

"...I don't even know if he sweats man!" Kuwabara finally exasperated, rubbing his temples as he tried to restart his brain.

"In all our time of knowing Hiei, I've never heard him fart! Not even an accidental sneeze fart!" Yusuke declared.

"Do demons fart then?" Kuwabara snorted into laughter, giving in to the weird conversation of the day.

"Of course we fart! You've heard me fart! Hell even Kurama farts!" Yusuke snorted, rolling his eyes.

In the kitchen there was a couple of fumbling sounds, followed by a few choked coughs. Though not interested in the video games, Kurama had come over to Kuwabara's apartment to spend time with his companions. He was sort of regretting that now after hearing this sudden and strange conversation. Setting down a bowl of popcorn, and a half empty soda can, Kurama scrambled for a dish towel.

"I do not fart!" Kurama seethed, color brightening up his face.

"Dude you may be a demon on the inside, but you got a human body now! You totally fart!" Yusuke persisted as Kuwabara dissolved into laughter.

Kurama was mortified. 

Yusuke dismissed Kurama's sputters with a wave of his hand, "But that's not what we're talking about here! Who cares if the Rose Queen-"

"Rose Queen!? Yusuke-"

"WHO CARES IF THE ROSE QUEEN," Yusuke continued loudly, "pops a fart off every now and then. I'm talking about Hiei here. Has anyone ever heard him fart?"

Kuwabara was a mess of childish giggles, but Kurama was frowning with thought. "You know," Kurama admitted, "I've known Hiei an awfully long time...and I can't say that I recall ever hearing him fart."

"Maybe...maybe he has silent farts?" Kuwabara offered, voice weak from laughter.

"Never smelt them either...and I have a strong nose," Kurama pointed out.

Kuwabara lost it again. Dropping his controller completely he collapsed onto the floor and shielded his head with with hands as he wheezed in delight. 

Yusuke seeming pleased by the ridiculousness he had caused continued, "Maybe when he's running fast he lets it all out. Farting at the speed of sound!"

Kurama was next to give in to laughter, abandoning cleaning up his soda spill, and instead holding his stomach as he let the hilarity overtake him. 

Yusuke grinned at the damage he had done, his smile only spreading as the window adjacent from them opened. Hiei, as quiet as ever slipped into the apartment, but his presence was just as noticed as if he'd stormed in. When Hiei noticed Yusuke grinning like an idiot as Kurama and Kuwabara where gasping for air in between guffaws, he cocked one thin black brow up.

"What's going on?"

"Hiei do you fart?"

Hiei answered Yusuke with a kick to the face.

 

End

Chapter Text

She wanted her brother's girl.

Well no, that wasn't right. Her brother and said girl weren't dating. But her brother had been gushing about her for years now. His whole life was consumed with living up to his expectations of a good man, and his imagined expectations he believed her to have. He lived to impress her, to make her smile, to make her happy. His clumsy actions were actually very charming...in a goofy sort of way. He was in love with this girl. And maybe this girls felt the same. She was off limits. She had to be.

But Shizuru wanted Yukina.

How had this happened?

This petite ice maiden had gently walked into Shizuru's life, and nothing had been the same.

But these feelings shouldn't be hers. This whirlwind flurry of romantic longing, late night erotic visions, and days of yearning shouldn't be hers. How could she do this to Kazuma?

"Sis!"

Shizuru jolted, surprised by her brother's sudden appearance. Her brother was leaning on the entrance to the kitchen, bags under his eyes. He'd been studying too hard again. Since his friends had gone, Kuwabara had taken to studying like he used to take to fights. He was clearly lonely, but there a was a light of determination flickering in his eyes. He had swore an oath to Yusuke to study hard on his chosen path, and it was that promise to his friend that was keeping Kuwabara going. Kuwabara might never take breaks if it wasn't for Yukina...Yukina who was beautiful. Who had a smile that lit up the room. Who-

'Stop that!'  Shizuru thought closing her eyes for a brief moment. When she opened them she looked at her tired brother with sympathy, "Do you need something to eat Kazuma...you look exhausted."

"Maybe a little later..." Kuwabara muttered as he yawned dragging a hand slowly over his scruffy face.

Shizuru scrunched up her nose, "You need to shave."

"After I study a bit more."

"Yukina will like you better if you look a bit more clean shaven. Girls like their man rested, clean, and smelling good."

"Well i'm no one's man," Kuwabara yawned, "Not yet anyway..." there was a hopeful note to his voice.

It made Shizuru sick. She forced a smile and chuckle. She needed a cigarette. She reached for a cup and poured herself some water. Why was she doing this? She should make up an excuse. Why was she afraid to be alone with Yukina. They were friends. It was okay to be friends with Kuwabara's dream girl. Nothing would happen. Shit, she needed an excuse. She needed a lie. She needed to pick up dry cleaning, she needed to get her hair cut, she needed to get something to eat-Wait.

She slammed the cup down in the sink, "Wait, wait! When did you last eat?"

Kuwabara rolled his eyes, a tactic he would only deploy after not sleeping for days, "Sis...come on, not now! I was gonna ask you something!" His sentence ended in a whine, and Shizuru shot him a glare. Kuwabara jumped, and looked down.

"There is no whining in my kitchen Kazuma Kuwabara, especially if its about you not having had anything to eat since thursday!"

"It's only...Saturday...?" Kuwabara tried. He buttoned his lip as Shizuru's eyes grew steely.

Grabbing an apple she shoved it in his mouth, "Eat that down to the core, and maybe I won't break your face in."

Kuwabara obeyed. When he was done, he sighed and rubbed his eyes, "Listen...what I was gonna ask...well...I need to sleep. I'm going to study some more tonight, but I need to just...rest a bit. Yukina is coming over...could you keep her company for a little while until I wake up?"

Oh no. No. Nononononononono-No! What was he doing to her!?

"No problem. You know I love her. But don't invite people over if you're gonna sleep!"

Kuwabara laughed, already turning towards his bed. As he disappeared he called over his shoulder, "You know she asked actually. She said she wanted to see you about something."

Fuck. Shit. FUCK.

Shizuru was a bundle of nerves until Yukina arrived. She was his brother's dream. Her brother deserved to crush on someone, to date them, to fall in love. Her brother deserved it! She didn't need to interfere. She was the adult here! The big sister! She just had to play it cool. Play it cool.

The doorbell rang, and she answered the door a placid expression on her face, her hands sweaty. Yukina stood in the hallway grinning wide, eyes aglow. She smiled and chirped out Shizuru's name in happy greeting. She didn't wait to be welcomed in, but instead took dainty steps forward and embraced the taller woman. Shizuru slipped an arm around her friend, embracing the petite woman.

Shizuru had a vision of kissing Yukina.

Her throat tightened...she wanted her brother's girl.

 

End.

 

 

Chapter Text

Youko Kurama had seen humans age, and die just as simply as he has observed leaves turn from green to red. He remembered lazy days watching children learn to walk, learn to play, learn to love...and then learn to go to war and learn to die. There was a lot of war among humans. A lot of dark times and poverty...and Kurama would be lying if he didn't say his thieving hadn't caused some of those dark times that the humans suffered through. He chuckled to himself and shifted his weight from his resting spot up a tree. He was just outside a human village, waiting for word from an old friend.

A child caught his attention as it came careening into view, charging up a hill as it giggled. 'Foolish child...' Kurama thought as the boy zipped around. Demons lurked nearby...demons besides himself who wouldn't mind munching on the bones of such and easy prey. Kurama made a face as the child giggled and laughed louder, unaware of the fox demon's presence. Pathetic creatures...What weak little fools humans proved to be.

Kurama shifted again and closed his eyes. He had more important things to think about.

It was mere days before his next meet with Kuronue. They had caught wind of a mirror...it had supposedly belonged to a God and would grant great power to the owner. In its handle were red gems, made from dragon's blood and crushed tear gems. Rumor had it there was a clan of ice maidens who could weep these mystical gems. A whole gem was worth quite a pretty penny...but none had ever been seen by Kurama's eyes. He doubted he'd ever lay his eyes on a whole tear gem.This mirror was a nice prize indeed....

Kurama's thoughts were interrupted by a high pitched scream.

Looking down he saw the small human boy being lifted in the air. A rat demon had taken the bait, and caught up the child in an easy swoops. Hissing and drooling it held up the child before him, enjoying the sight of the screaming little boy. Kurama noted to the child's credit, he wasn't crying. Kurama frowned as the child kept screaming-ugh! What a headache! 'Just kill it already!' Kurama thought grumpily as the other demon seemed to be taking its time in frightening the child.

"Enough," the fox hissed, his ears pressed flat to his head as the child's bellows became louder. 

Jumping from the tree, he ripped his hands through the other demon's skull as easy as one would through wet tissue paper. 

The child fell with the rest of the demon's body, landing with a yelp on the ground. Kurama shook the blood from his hand. He hated it when people played with their food.

Big brown eyes stared wide up at Kurama as the fox demon loomed over him. Kurama leered down at the child. Again he mentally commended the child for not crying. What a brave little human for not bursting in to tears, like so many others before him.

"Thank you!" The child stammered his voice as wobbly as his legs as he got up, dusting off his brown yukata as he spoke, "y-you really saved me!"

"Run home to your mother..." Kurama snorted, rolling his eyes before taking a seat beneath a tree just adjacent to the one he had been in. He settled at the tree's roots, and closed his eyes, tail curling around himself as he tried to relax. 

That should have been that. His good deed for the day. But to his annoyance, he felt the child draw closer. Opening his eyes, ready to shout or perhaps end the child's existence he was...slightly intrigued to see the boy holding out something wrapped up in bamboo leaves. With an arched silver brow Kurama accepted the gift.

The child grinned before practically shouting, "I'm Tokko Urameshi!" With a sly little smile, the child giggled and was off, tearing off in the direction of the human village.

Kurama blinked, one of his silver ears flopping over at the absurdity of the situation. Turning his eyes to the parcel, Kurama unraveled it seeing what appeared to be two rice balls. Taking the offering, Kurama ate it, amused he had won himself a snack.

"...Uramehsi...What a weird child."

Oh well. It didn't matter. He'd never have to deal with him again.

End

 

Chapter Text

Yukina didn't realize she'd made a mistake until after it was too late.

She has been rather excited to go on her first, "date." Kuwabara had asked her, and even explained to her what it meant...to him, to her...to the future of "them."

It seemed he liked her beyond the feelings of a friend, and now he had found the confidence it seemed to tell her that now. Kazuma had always been kind to her, and made her feel warm and safe. She valued his friendship, and respected him greatly...she was not certain of her own feelings, but she was eager to try this out with Kazuma. She believed in him, and their relationship...together they would figure this out. He was so good to her...surely she felt the same for Kuwabara.

The date was set for Saturday, and it had been a week of planning. A week of getting help from Keiko and Botan, of picking out an outfit (a cute a-line blue dress with white butterflies at the hem), of rules, on ways to measure how a good date should go, and what equaled a bad date. Yukina had considered asking Shizuru to help with a new hairstyle, but something had held her back that week. There was an ache in her chest at times when she looked in to Shizuru's eyes. It hadn't been going on long...and she wasn't sure what brought it up, but it seemed to only be with Shizuru. Yukina could only hope the tightness in her chest was some sort of temporary problem.

Yukina forced the strange feeling deep down, and had eagerly awaited Saturday. When the day arrived for the date, and Kazuma showed up dressed in a nice button up, and slacks, Yukina had immediately complimented him. He had looked so very handsome, and with a blush extended his arm, charming her further. He led her all over the city. He took her out to eat, and dancing, and showed her how to bowl. The laughter had been loud and lingering through out the whole night. Kuwabara's face has been alight with delight and happiness, and Yukina was happy to see Kuwabara so thrilled. She was touched her presence could do this for him.

When the night ended he brought her home, and walked her up the shrine steps-insisting to take her to her front door.

"Yukina..." Kuwabara's voice shook awkwardly as they arrived at the shrine, "I had a really nice time...thank you for being with me tonight. I hope you had...had a good time to."

"Yes...I had a wonderful time Kazuma."

"Good...good. You're happiness...well it means...it means the world to me," Kuwabara chuckled, sighing deeply.

At the doorstep, she waited expecting what Botan called, "a goodnight kiss." She'd been told about this act, and was eagerly looking forward to trying this final part of a date.

Kuwabara's face was so red it practically glowed. He took her hand and brought it to his lips, gently brushing them over her knuckles.

"G-goodnight!" He sputtered.

"Oh...its not on the mouth?" Yukain asked him, looking at the back of her hand. That had felt like nothing...and Botan had said it would be on her lips.

Kuwabara's eyes grew wide and his hand flew to the back of his neck, and her proceeded to rub it nervously as he explained, "Well! I-I had...I mean...I want to kiss you Yukina. If...if that's not too forward...if that's...if that's okay with you?" The question hung nervously in the air, and Yukina could only giggle at Kuwabara's floundering.

Holding out her arms she invited him to her, "Oh Kazuma...yes please. I would like to follow through with all the details of this date."

"We don't have to kiss on th-the first date Yukina! It's not like...like a custom or anything!" Kuwabara had tried to warn her. "It's okay Kazuma...please kiss me goodnight," Yukina insisted.

She wished now, that she had listened to him. 

He had exhaled a nervous breath and leaned down. With gentle hands he took her face, and angled hers towards his. His touch was light, and exceedingly gentle. Despite his size, she believed he could hold a snowflake and have it remain perfectly intact. He leaned close and kissed her, his nose lightly bumping against hers as their lips met. It was warm, pleasant, and gentle...there was nothing wrong with this kiss. But when Yukina closed her eyes-it was not Kazuma she was thinking of.

Her eyes had closed, and Shizuru had popped in her head. The thought of Shizuru, at that moment of kissing Kazuma, made Yukina's heart explode with emotions-emotions she never felt around Kuwabara. Desire, yearning, giddiness, lust...Oh God! She shouldn't be doing this with Kazuma! Her throat tightened as Kuwabara pulled away. He smiled at her, wished her goodnight and turned away, dazedly marching away from the ice maiden, unaware of her current state of mind.

She remained frozen in place at the shrine door...and this was where she'd been for the past hour.

'Oh God...I...I've done something terrible!'  Yukina thought, pressing a hand to her mouth. She couldn't explain what was wrong...the date was fun. Kuwabara was a delight...but this was wrong. She did not like Kuwabara the same way that he liked her...she had been wrong.

Wrong!

Shaking she turned for the door, and went inside. She had to...she needed to do something. Going to the kitchen, she picked up the phone and dialed a number Kuwabara had taught her many times until she had memorized it. The phone conncected, and rang twice before a familiar voice answered.

"Kuwabara residence..."

"Sh-Shizuru..." Yukina choked, tears flooding her eyes. Shizuru's voice had sounded so...lonely. Was it because of her? Had Shizuru's kind friendship been more? She knew...Kuwabara must have gushed to her about the night the two of them had shared. What did Shizuru think? Was she happy for Kazuma? Did she want Kuwabara and herself to be together? If Yukina told Shizuru her feelings, would Shizuru hate her?

"Yukina? Yukina what's wrong?" Shizuru's voice was alarmed on the other end.

"Please...please without alerting Kazuma. Can you please come over?"

Yukina didn't have to ask again. 

Instantly Shizuru answered, "Yes-i'll be right there."

Yukina hung up the phone and went to wait outside. Folding her arms over her chest, Yukina paced back and forth, tear gems falling on to the porch.

She had made a mistake!

She had made a horrible mistake...she'd taken her relationship with Kazuma too lightly. She had asked for a kiss from him without understanding her feelings or her heart. 

...What would become of Kuwabara now? 

He was at home, surely happy and excited. Imagining all sorts of dates, and dreams-that could never happen now. Not with her. Not when Yukina's heart was awakening to these confused heavy feelings towards his sister!

"Yukina!"

Yukina's head sprang up, and there she was. Shizuru jumped over the last shrine step, and come racing for Yukina, her brown hair whipping behind her. Shizuru had on her jacket, and pjs...her shoes didn't match. Shizuru must have been in a hurry. Yukina leaped from the Shrine's porch, and raced towards Shizuru meeting the woman half way. Her hands instinctively flew up, and seized the taller woman's face. Yukina tugged the woman down, and pressed her lips against a shocked mouth. Shizuru froze against Yukina for a moment, bent at an awkward uncomfortable angle. But then Shizuru's arms were wrapped around Yukina and Shizuru was angling against the shorter woman, taking the ice maiden's breath away.

Shizuru was different from her brother.

Kuwabara had treated her like glass-gentle and soft...careful of her delicate form.

Shizuru was trying to melt Yukina. Shizuru's left hand lifted Yukina off the ground, her arm tucked into Yukina's waist, her right hand tangled into Yukina's hair, gently but firmly pulling her head back so that Shizuru could press her sure lips against Yukina's trembling ones. The emotions that bubbled in Yukina where tenfold of anything she'd felt with Kuwbara, and when she closed her eyes, she saw Shizuru's face in her mind's eye. Love and understand bloomed and exploded within Yukina's body, and the ice maiden only pulled away from the kiss, because all too soon Shizuru was tugging away.

Shizuru looked alarmed, confused...and maybe a little hopeful. She held Yukina away from her at and arm's length, clearly trying to find her footing.

"Yukina...but...Kazuma-"

"Oh Shizuru! I made a mistake!" Yukina choked reaching for Shizuru's face again.

Shizuru sunk easily into the touch, and captured Yukina's mouth again.

They were not ready to speak yet...even if they wanted to.

Yukina held tight to Shizuru for all it was worth, knowing that when they broke apart they'd have to face with what to say to Kuwabara. Yukina could only hope that this blunder could be remedied. That Kuwabara wouldn't be hurt by all this...that...that...

'Oh God...I've made a terrible mistake.'

Yukina rejoiced in her understanding of her new found love, and mourned the pain she would surely be causing her gentle friend who was unaware of the pain that would await him.

End

Chapter Text

Turn right.

I'll rip you. I'll tear into your flesh and taste your flesh!

RUN. RUN! RUN! RUN! RIGHT NOW! GOGOGOGOGO-

How does that rhyme go? The one mommy taught us?

Mister...hey mister. This way. 

Don't listen. Keep walking.

Turn right I tell you! My bones are this way!

"Enough!" Kuwabara rasped collapsing hard against the cavern wall before he slid to the ground, whimpering as the voices rattled on inside his head.

Hiei, Kurama, and Yusuke could only watch helplessly. Kuwabara let out a low whine, and Yusuke took a step closer to his friend longing to help. Hiei caught Yusuke's wrist firmly shaking his head.

"You'll only make it worse..."

"This is all my fault..." Kurama whispered voice laden with guilt, "I should have never brought you all here."

"...We had no choice..." Yusuke admitted, his fists curled in to tight balls, but his shoulders were tense and his voice was terse. He watched Kuwabara with unblinking eyes, and when Kuwabara flinched, Yusuke turned and punched his fist hard into a stalagmite. It gave way like butter, debris flying several feet away from the force of the strike.

"GOD DAMMIT!"  

"...I'm okay..."

All eyes were back on Kuwabara. He was rising to his feet, eyes narrowed into thin slits as if he was straining against intense light. "I can take this. Come on...lets...lets get out of here."

The four reikai had found themselves in demon world on a simple task for Koenma. Retrieve a stolen artifact, and oh -- good news! -- Koenma knew exactly where it was. This should have been an easy mission. No one mentioned the demon horde waiting for them, one that was so vast even Yusuke, on his rowdiest of days, couldn't expect to beat them all. The four had no choice but to run, and Kurama led them to a mountain. Against the mountain wall, was a perfectly square cut entrance.

"Here! The Tunnel of Songs! It leads to Yomi's territory! We'll be safe here! The demons won't follow us," Kurama had cried.

Yusuke and Kuwabara had whooped, and made to enter the mouth of the tunnel, but Hiei's hand had shout out and grabbed Kuwabara's wrist. The force of the grab caught Kwuabara off ground and he fell on his ass grunting loudly. Too surprised by the grab, Kuwabara only looked up at Hiei, brows raised in question.

"Kurama! We can't take Kuwabara in there! You know what they say that tunnel does to clairvoyants!"

"What...what does it do?" Yusuke asked, his eyes darting from the advancing demons, and then to the inconspicuous looking tunnel. 

"It's said to be so haunted by the dead, that they'll drive a psychic to madness. Kuwabara will be completely opened up in there! We won't even be able to touch him with out making matters worse. It's dangerous."

"I know, I know!" Kurama said regretfully, urgency creeping into his tone, "We are outnumbered...and this cave is dangerous, but there is no other way. We'll be overtaken if we head over the mountain-the easiest way is to go through this tunnel!"

"I don't know Kurama! This doesn't sound good."

"They're almost here..."

"We better figure this out now! We can help Kuwabara through the tunnel...but it is risky-"

"I don't like you talking about something being risky when it's not you takin' the risk!"

"Easy Yusuke. Kurama has a point...this tunnel is the best way-"

"Enough arguing about what I can and can't do!" Kuwabara roared, the sound of the demon army approaching behind them. "I'll be fine! Let's go!" And with a wave of his arm, Kuwabara broke ahead of his friends and broke out into a dead run inside the cave, leaving his friends no choice but to follow him.

Kuwabara was able to run for 15 minutes before he collapsed. As his friends surrounded them, they knew then, that entering the cave had been a  bad idea. Yusuke made the mistake of taking Kuwabara's arm, and at his touch Kuwabara began shrieking and howling. Kuwabara's eyes rolled in the back of his head and a voice not his own exploded from Kuwabara's body.

"Filthy piss-boy! I know you! I KNOW YOU!"

Yusuke released Kuwabara, and Kuwabara stilled and had thrown up. Immediately after, everyone was saying they should turn back.

"No...no," Kuwabara had panted as his friends argued. "The demons are waiting for us back there. Just...just...we gotta keep going. We gotta get out of here. Gotta move forward. I can take it. I can take it. "

Kuwabara was now on his 6th collapse. The voices were so loud. It was like he was being attacked from the inside. There were wild, terrible moments when he thought of attacking his friends. And in longer moments he thought of killing himself. He was going to lose it here.

Yusuke punched another stalagmite, cursing at his own helplessness.

"Kuwabara...Kuwabara...is there anything...anything we can do for you?" Kurama whispered, just hovering near Kuwabara, worry etched deep in Kurama's face.

Kuwabara closed his eyes tight.

"Filthy, filthy, filthy, filthy!"

"Twinkle twinkle little star-"

"Pigs scream and cry just like mankind. Scream and scream, and eat, and eat..."

"Don't listen. You'll drown here."

"Mom! Dad! I'm lost!"

"Here little girly...come over here. Let me make you feel nice."

"....Kazuma...kill them Kazuma. It's the only way..."

"SHUT THE FUCK UP!" Kuwabara roared, palms pressed painfully over his ears. He opened his eyes his vision swimming with the concerned faces of his friends. Damm...if he could just block these voices out. 

"T-talk to me..." Kuwabara wheezed, suddenly rising to his feet. "Talk to me as we walk...just...lets talk. Anything. Good stuff. Just...just anchor me."

Kuwabara took one weary step, and Yusuke immediately began to talk. "So Keiko is in to spanking."

"Its heavy isn't it. The burden of it all. You can make it stop you know. Why should you suffer?"

"N-no Urameshi-no. I don't need to hear this."

"They're coming. Coming!"

"Now wait a minute...this sounds educational..."

"Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake..."

"You're kidd...kidding me right? I don't wanna hear a-about spankings and Keiko right now."

"DIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIE"

"How do you know she's in to spanking Yusuke? I thought you two hadn't...well...taken that step."

"I'm gonna eat you up. Soul and body...devour your piss riddled brain."

"I come over to her house right? And she's watching a spank video-I shit you not! She knocked me out with a roller blade."

"They're in the walls."

"You deserve it...sh-shouldn't barge in on Keiko like that!"

And so it went. Kuwabara tried to focus on his friends voices over the bombardment of screams in his head. He still collapsed, and he threw up a couple more times, and in a tense terrifying moment, Kuwabara actually drew his sword and looked at his friends with wild angry eyes but... nothing happened. It took a moment, but Kuwabara put his sword away, and asked when the next group get together with Jin and the others would be. The conversations were working. His friends voices overpowered the screams enough for Kuwabara to just focus on his friends.

Kuwabara was arguing about the cutest breed of cat when he finally stepped outside the toxic tavern. The instant silence overwhelmed him, and the next thing Kuwabara knew was waking up in Yusuke's arms.

"Hey! Kuwabara! Are you alright!? We're out now! Come on man...say something!" 

Kuwabara blinked slowly eyes dragging from Yusuke's face to Hiei's, and then Kurama's.

"Are you alright? Speak to us Kuwabara, " Kurama implored, guilt still making his voice thick.

Hiei said nothing, but his jaw was set tight as he waited for Kuwabara to speak.

Kuwabara closed his eyes, letting his body completely go limp against Yusuke. The three demons immediately swooped in closer to their ailing comrade. Three separate hands shot out and rested their palms against their friend, silently giving their support as they waited for Kuwabara to speak.

"...I don't know why that tunnel is called, 'Tunnel of Songs." That's a really inaccurate fucking name," Kuwabara finally moaned, his words slurring as he spoke.

The tension in the air instantly broke, and peals of laughter were soon washing over the quartet. 

Kuwabara smiled, his eyes closed in relaxation, and went to sleep.

End

Chapter Text

"My asss...myyyyy aassssss!"

"Your own fault man."

"How could you do this to me?"

"I didn't do this to you! Keiko did this to you!"

"Ughhhh....why did I eat that?"

"I told you NOT to man!"

"Uhhhhhggggg Urameshiiiii....my ass hurts soooo much!"

"Your own fault dude!"

"But Keiko looked so happy!"

"She's always happy! Don't ever eat Thai food with her. She's a freak of nature! She could eat a ghost chili pepper, while rubbing a Carolina Reaper in her eyes, and still be smiling and happy! She's a freak man!"

"Uggghhh there's a demon in my asshole!"

"Nah man, there's no demon in your asshole."

"Uggghhh Demon hell shit spawnnnn."

Yusuke finally collapsed on his side, laughing hard as tears streamed down his face. Currently, Yusuke was sitting outside Kuwabara's bathroom, sitting up against the door as Kuwabara apparently was having the worst shit of his life. 

Yesterday Kuwabara had gone out with Keiko, and tried a recommended Thai dish. Yusuke had tried to warn him that Keiko was a freak of nature-but Kuwabara didn't listen. Kuwabara was only all too willing to try Keiko's favorite dish, "The Sweating Curry." Yusuke had another name for the curry :

The-bleed-out-your-asshole-for-six-days-nightmare-dish.

"How can someone as cute as Keiko do this to me???"

"Because she doesn't think she's a freak."

"Urameshi....i think i'm bleeding. Are you my best friend?"

"....Yeah...."

"Dude. Check my asshole dude. Please."

"WHAT? HELL NO!"

"PLEASE! What if i'm dying!"

"YOU ARE NOT DYING! And I'm not checking your asshole!"

"But Uramesshiiiiiiii....we're best friends!"

"No man! No! We're not those type of best friends!"

"Yesss we areee. I'd look at your asshole."

"Then you have an attraction to men man."

"Urameshi-"

"Look, I'm not judging you. You can be gay if you want. Doesn't bother me. But if you're willing to look at my asshole-you're gay."

"Urameshiiiiii come on. You'd look at my asshole if it was serious!"

"There is nothing in this world that would make me look at your asshole Kuwabara."

"...What if a demon injured my butt."

"....I'd make Kurama do it."

"Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-Oh God! There's more! Uggggghhhhh poop-magedden."

"Hang on i'm calling Keiko. She needs to be a part of this."

"Good! This is her fault i'm suffering! Make her come and hold my hand as I my ass gives birth to the next demon enemy bent on destroying the world!"

Yusuke made the call.

Keiko absolutely refused to come over.

End

Chapter Text

"...I don't see how that was scary," Hiei sulked as he exited a movie theater with Kurama.

"It's whats scary to humans Hiei," Kurama reasoned, patiently listening to Hiei's expected complaints. He'd taken Hiei out to a movie in hopes to experience an amusing reaction from the shorter demon. In retrospect, Kurama now thought a horror movie wasn't the best idea. They had certainly experienced for more frightening events then anything that movie had portrayed. 

"Why are humans afraid of a man in a mask?" Hiei grumped, taking Kurama's popcorn. He popped a few buttery morsels into his mouth, his eyes lighting up as he devoured the light treat.

"Its not so much that he was in a mask...its that he was stalking them. Hunting them like an animal...and then systematically torturing them, and finally killing them," Kurama said, resisting a smile as Hiei took his popcorn. "It's primal instinct to fear someone stronger than you...to fear the hunter."

"Hmph. I can think of two fools whose instincts must be broken!" Hiei snorted tilting his head back and pouring the last of the snack into his mouth. 

"...Oh I don't think we're that bad," Kurama said coyly, knowing Hiei wasn't referring to themselves.

"You know which two idiots I mean fox!" Hiei snapped, crumpling up the popcorn bag and tossing it over his shoulder. "Yusuke and Kuwabara seem to seek out stronger enemies, and go diving in head first. Yusuke can at least take on a man in a mask, but Kuwabara charges in recklessly, never aware of his own weaknesses."

"Don't be so hard on Kuwabara. He's plenty strong, and only getting stronger."

"He's fragile, weak! He will only last so long, and it'll be much shorter if he doesn't stop tagging along!" 

Kurama frowned. This sounded a little harsher of a critique than usual for Hiei. Peering down at his shorter comrade Kurama assessed the shorter demon's expression before speaking, "You and I both know you're just show-boating here. You're very fond of Kuwabara. If you weren't you wouldn't fight along side him, nor would you allow him any alone time with your sister...what's bugging you?"

Hiei frowned, sourly shooting Kurama a look. Pursing his lips, and narrowing his arms Hiei mulled over his thoughts and finally answered, "That thing before the movie. The commercial-"

"Ah, you mean the previews!"

"Yes. In one of those...previews it showed that human child. He was happy and playing while his father watched. And then he was in that place with the tubes, and strange equipment-I think it was a lab. And then he died. There was nothing attacking him, but he died. They called it a sickness? A simple unseen force just took that human out with no effort."

Kurama put his hands in his pockets a sobering expression passing over his face, understanding slowly dawning, "The movie was fiction Hiei."

"But it can happen, can it not?" Hiei countered, red eyes peering up at Kurama, "Humans can die from such easy things. Things that wouldn't even slow you and I down."

Kurama nodded, "Yes. Yes...humans can get sick and die. There are many things that could be the end of a human, many things that wouldn't even make us demons blink. Humans know their fragility, in theory. Some act like they don't know their limitations, but they do. But humans shouldn't be hindered just because they are afraid of death. Don't you think that would be foolish Hiei?"

Hiei pursed his lips, and for several minutes was quiet. He sighed deeply, tension leaving his shoulders, "Weakness is foolish."

Kurama smiled and slipped an arm around Hiei's shoulder, "We are all fools Hiei. Our bonds make us weak, but they make us strong too. To see a friend sick can cripple us and embolden us to take action to help...don't you think that's fascinating? Our greatest strength comes from our greatest weaknesses."

"You're talking about love aren't you?" Hiei asked making a face of disgust.

Kurama laughed, "Yes, I suppose I am."

Hiei snorted, "Can't you just agree with me instead of spouting off some emotional bullshit?"

"Can't you just admit you value myself, Yusuke, and Kuwabara as your friends, your family-and that scares you?"

Hiei tensed, a dusting of color gracing the tip of his nose, "No."

Kurama laughed, "Then no, Hiei. I expect we will have a lot of conversations like these."

"...Pain in my ass."

Kurama simply laughed in returned, and quietly planned to show Hiei an animated film. If Totoro didn't have Hiei in a fit of emotion-nothing would.

End

Chapter Text

Between the madness of saving the world, street fights, and the occasional once-a-week visit to school, there were times when Yusuke and Kuwabara had some down time. And on a few occasions, there were days where they were bored. With a heavy rainstorm nearing a typhoon level or rage going on outside and every movie and game played or pushed aside by the two teens, this was one of those few boring days.

They might have lost their mind if Kuwabara hadn't started flipping through his sister's magazines.

"Boy they gotta lot a lists in these girly mags..." Kuwabara sighed casually flipping though the pages, "Top 5 hottest guys, top 10 lipstick colors, top 20 hottest couples..."

Yusuke was seated next to Kuwabara on the brown love-seat, though he had chosen to 'sit' in a much different manner. He laid upside down on the couch, his feet hanging over the back, and his head hanging down over the seat cushions. His face was beginning to turn red from all the blood rushing to it, but if it bothered him he didn't say so.

"Girls like lists I guess..." Yusuke mused, his voice a little nasally as everything slowly rushed to his brain.

"Yeah but...this is all boring shit. Top 10 shoes? Come on!" Kuwabara sighed, sticking out his lower lip and narrowing his eyes at the magazine.

Yusuke stilled, and then slowly got up, blinking as the blood began rushing back down from his head. "Well okay then...Top 10 fights Kuwabara. Worst starting first."

Kuwabara raised his eyes from the magazine peering at Yusuke, and a slow grin broke out on his face. "Okay Urameshi...now we talking fights I almost died in or fights that were too easy?"

"Too easy. The fights where you almost die are the good ones!"

"Okay well that's arguable...but worst fight..."

And so it went. The two had found something they could do to pass the lazy boring day away. Over the next couple of hours the two had gone over top ten fights, top ten oddest Botan quotes, top ten Koenma hissy-fits, top ten scariest ghosts (that Kuwabara had encountered), top ten Keiko slaps, and top ten favorite ramen flavors.

It was late in the night now, the rain had stopped, and the two teens were still going through lists as they played a lazy game of Mario Kart. It had come back around to Kuwabara's turn to come up with a list, and after three losses he finally had it. "Okay, okay! I got it! Top ten asses Urameshi!"

Yusuke made an impressed sound, "Oh...well now! There we go Kuwabara. I didn't think you would have it in ya...but lets see..." Yusuke made a few noises as he seemed to go over a list of posteriors in his head.

"Okay, starting with worst ass to the best ass, the school nurse, Iba sensei!"

"She's 84!"

"Its still the worst ass!"

"OKay okay, number 2?"

"Number 2 is Minami-chan from class c. She wears granny panties too!"

"Oh man....Wait. How do you know what panties she wears?"

"Flipping skirts."

"Urameshi i outta slug you!"

"Hey, shut up! You asked! Okay number 3...Kyoko, that female ogre who works in Koenm'a office."

"...She wears the spiked pants right?"

"Yeah that's the one! Number 4, Ichigaki."

"Ah...ew.....you looked?"

"Yeah It was one of the first things I noticed. He had a better butt on his chin then on his ass!"

Kuwabara howled with laughter, and had to hit pause on the game. It took several long minutes for both young men to calm down, before Yusuke could begin again.

"Okay number 5, and here's where the asses start getting good. Genkai."

"...."

"Don't give me that look. She's as old as a dinosaur and she's still got a git shapely ass."

"...Okay I'll accept that."

"Number 6...Yukina."

Kuwabara reached over and punched Yusuke in the arm. Yusuke allowed the hit, he had expected it anyway.

"Number 7, Kurama."

"...Really?"

"Take a look man. It's kinda weird but he ain't got much when he's in his Youko form, but he's got an ass now."

"...This is the weirdest thing I've ever heard from your mouth."

"Just look."

"I don't think I should check out Kurama's ass, man!"

"An ass is an ass, and his is a good one!"

"Alright, alright! Just...keep going..."

"Number 8....Shizuru."

"Fuck you. FUCK. YOU."

"Look, i'm sorry, she's stacked!"

"Not another word! Lets just move on!"

"OKay well my last two are a tie."

"Oh well...who."

"Keiko..."

"That I figured..."

"and you."

Kuwabara had not expected that. Turning sharply to peer at Yusuke, he met Yusuke's waiting gaze. 

"WHAT?"

Yusuke held up his hand defensively, "Look i'm an ass man! And I judge all assess equally! It doesn't matter whose ass i'm looking at! And you and Keiko? You got nice asses."

Kuwabara squinted at Yusuke looking as if he was trying to decide on what to do next. Color dusting over Kuwabara's cheeks, the taller man finally muttered, "Okay I gotta know...why our asses?"

"Well Keiko has a nice bubble butt! It's perfectly round and bouncy, and with just the right amount of fat and muscle. Ideal ass!" Yusuke gestured wildly as he described Keiko's apparently perfect butt. Pausing, he continued with, "And then there's yours. Huge ass. Not because it's too big or anything, your ass is just being in proportion to your body. But it's all muscle. You gotta have a really tight fucking ass."

Kuwabara's whole head was bright red, "You're really serious...you think I have a great ass."

"A fine looking ass, man. 10 points. You can ask Kurama, he agrees!"

"You've discussed this with Kurama?!"

"Actually Chu brought it up, and Kurama agreed. Don't worry I punched Chu in the face. He's not allowed to be checking out my friend's ass."

"...Not that i'm interested but why isn't he allowed to look, but you and Kurama apparently can?"

"Chu bounces from one person to the next. He's not allowed to check you out if he'd just ditch you later. You deserve better than that!"

"...Thhaaaannnkkkss??"

Yusuke shrugged grinning, "But yeah. You and Keiko. Perfect asses. Dream team asses right there." He held up both hands, squeezing imaginary butts in the air.

Kuwabara could only stare at his best friend, as a blush consumed his face. Eventually he turned from staring at Yusuke, and looked back at the game. He clicked the 'x' button of his controller, resuming the game, "Wow," was all Kuwabara could find to say.

End

 

Chapter Text

I need to study.

I need to see Yusuke.

Seeing Yusuke is impossible right now. He's....

Across time and space in some other plane of existence?

Maybe? I don't know how demon world works...

That's what you should be studying!

Ahhhk! I need to study!

Don't let me stop you.

Ugh. Gotta study!

I wonder if Yusuke is eating well.

'The geological understanding of time is broken up in two parts...'

The geological understanding of time is: when does Yusuke come home home?

'Relative age,  and absolute age...'

Relative Yusuke, absolute Yusuke.

OMG CAN YOU SHUT UP!?

Yusuke,Yusuke,Yusuke,Yusuke,Yusuke-

I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M ARGUING WITH MYSELF!

Yusuke,Yusuke,Yusuke,Yusuke,Yusuke,Yusuke,Yusuke-

SHUT UP!

YUSUKEYUSUKEYUSUKEYUSUKE-

"OH MY FLIPPING-UGH!" Keiko shrieked tossing her book across the room, heaving loudly as her geology book hit her bedroom door.

She really needed to be studying, but her stupid mind could only think of one thing: Yusuke. How was he doing? Where was he now? Was it night or day time in demon world? Was their a time difference?...Had he met some pretty demon woman? Was she some badass amazon who could fight just as well as him, and send Yusuke swooning? Where they making out as she sat here FREAKING OUT?

Keiko groaned and dropped her head against her desk. Yusuke had been gone for half a year now...and all her thoughts were consumed of him. What was she going to do if he didn't return soon? Most likely drive herself crazy until he returned...

Was he thinking of her?

Did he miss her? 

Did he think of her at all?

Was he happier over there?

Closing her eyes she brought her hands to her face and rubbed her temples. Sometimes she wished she'd fallen in love with someone a little more stable. Someone who would be here for her...She wished she wasn't so selfish. It was good that Yusuke was gone going to find himself. It was good Yusuke was going to learn to understand his new predicament. He would always be Yusuke Urameshi, the little boy she'd met by the sandbox. But he was a demon...and Keiko could understand and respect that Yusuke would need time to sort this all out.

She just wished she could be with him.

Sighing deeply she picked up her cellphone, making plans to text Kuwabara. If anyone would understand her loneliness it would be him. Misery loved company after all. Kuwabara and her had a polite relationship at best, but over the past few months they had grown close. She would have never been able to admit this to Yusuke, but a part of her had always resented Kuwabara. She had been Yusuke's best friend...and then Kuwabara had suddenly taken that position.

Keiko hated to admit it...but she had been jealous.

It was frustrating to no end to be jealous of someone like Kuwabara. Kuwabara was wonderfully sweet, and refreshingly respectful. He'd always been polite, and spoke so highly of her, and treated her with a courteous gentleness that made her think of the kind nobles she would read about in books. It had been a large weight on her chest for her not to be able to return his kindness. But with Yusuke absent, she had been finding herself really relying on Kuwabara. Getting to know Kuwabara with Yusuke gone...well it was actually a blessing and made it easier to get over any last remnants of bitterness she might have felt for the larger hulk of a man. And over the passing months in Yusuke's absence Kuwabara had been her quiet and supportive confidant. She was very grateful that Kuwabara had been kindly seeking her out to keep her company and normally keep her mind off Yusuke.

If there was one good thing that was coming out of Yusuke's absence, it was her growing friendship with the young man.

Before she'd even punched in the number, there was a soft knock on her door.

Turning she was surprised to see Kuwabara standing in the hallway. He had two milkshakes in his hands, and an awkward smile on his face.

"...Kuwabara?"

"I uh...I just had this feeling you might need some company?" Kuwabara offered awkwardly, shrugging a little bit and avoiding eye contact. His ears were a little red, as he shifted from foot to foot, nervous about coming over to Keiko's house unannounced.

Keiko got up, and in a few short strides had wrapped her arms around Kuwabara's waist in a grateful hug.

Why had it taken her so long to see the value in the lovable warrior of love?

Too busy looking at Yusuke's sweet ass.

SHUT.THE.HELL.UP

End

 

Chapter Text

He was doing this for the light. He was the good guy-they were the righteous warriors, and anyone who opposed them were the enemy.

That's what he was telling himself.

He was doing it so he and his friends could live in the light.

That's why it was okay Gama died. That's why it was okay Gama sacrificed himself in that fatal battle with Kurama. It was okay that Gama would never get to see the light-he was dying for it. Gama knew that is might come down to this-he had known. So it was okay he was dead. 

It really was okay.

It was okay that the rich bureaucrats were making up rules and messing with team Urameshi.

That was fine.

It wasn't his team, it wasn't his life, they weren't his friends.

It was okay to cheat.

Clearly the council knew a more righteous team when they saw one-and Team Masho deserved a life in the light.

It was okay for Toya to fall too.

If Toya wasn't strong enough, or cunning enough to grasp victory-then he didn't deserve it.

He didn't want it enough.

It was fine when Bakken mercilessly beat up an unconscious man.

Kurama deserved it, who cares what happened to the fox.

It was also okay when Yusuke punched out Bakken. 

Bakken was too much of a loudmouth. He should have stopped trash talking, and just finished Urameshi when he had the chance.

It was no loss for Bakken to get wiped out in the end.

Talk shit, get hit...that's all there was to it.

It was even okay when he Toya started doubting him and spouting off about honor.

Foolish Toya!

Didn't the idiot know this was all for them? This was so they could live their lives in the light!? Have a home? This fight needed to be beyond honor! Sometimes unjust means were needed to get justifiable ends! Stupid Toya!

Stupid Toya...

But...

But why did he lose in the end? Why was he lying here now Koto's voice ringing out his team Urameshi's win.

Why the hell did he lose against a half dead kid? There was no way that pathetic pig should have been able to stand on his feet, and fight him! How the hell could a human take so much abuse? Why wouldn't that fucker stay down?

It was now as Risho was laying flat on his back, aching from the burning attack of an honorable man, and reeling from the sting of disdain from his former teammate's eyes-that Risho realized...maybe. Maybe it wasn't okay.

Maybe...maybe he'd been wrong.

And that was when Risho let go of his dream of a righteous man, and lost consciousnesses as an immoral soul.

End

Chapter Text

“Hell has frozen over…you’re reading!” Keiko exclaimed loudly, causing Yusuke to jump.

He cringed as he looked up at her, and shoved the book behind his back, “Ah Keiko…lay off!”  He puffed up his chest, and tried to look angry. His face twisted in a scowl that would frighten any man or demon, but it merely made Keiko giggle.

“Don’t sulk!,” She cooed sitting next to him, looping an arm with his, “Come on! Tell me what you’re reading!” She placed her head on his shoulder, giving her best smile, trying to soothe the embarrassed fighter.

Yusuke flushed, and frowned deeper, shaking his head stubbornly.

“Oh come on! I won’t laugh at you! I’m glad to see you reading!” Keiko continued to soothe the savage beast, and pat Yusuke’s arm gently.

Yusuke sighed deeply, and pulled the book from behind his back.

“It’s nothing…nothing much. Just…you know…it sounded cool…and the cover is sweet!”

Keiko peered at the book admiring the cover, and quietly agreeing with Yusuke. The cover depicted a young teen standing in rushing waters, holding a sword, his dark hair moving with unseen turbulent winds. He was facing away from the audience and staring out at the city-scape in front of him, lighting flashing in the sky.

“Percy Jackson and the lightning thief…I don’t think I know that one. What’s it about?” Keiko asked, reading the book's name aloud.

Yusuke cleared his throat, “Well I’m only half way through…but it seems to be about a kid who is the son of a god. Some greek weirdos. But his father...was you know. Never around, it's just been him and his mom. And he’s not the only kid of a god either, there are more. There’s Annabeth…”

So without any spoken agreement, it was decided between them, that they would spend their afternoon discussing the interesting new series Yusuke had picked up. Keiko wondered if it was the adventure of the book, or the loneliness of a boy with out his father, that had attracted Yusuke in to reading.

End

Chapter Text

“Holy fucking shit dude.”

Hiei flinched, nerves on edge as Kuwabara spoke. Maybe if Hiei didn't respond he could have ignore him...

"Holy. FUCKING. Shit. Dude!"

Hiei growled in the back of his throat as a large hand clamped on his ankle and hoisted his leg up off the ground from it’s prone position. From Hiei’s reclined position he glared at the pompadour sporting human, whom was now making a face of disgust at Hiei’s feet.

“You need new shoes! There’s barely a sole left…and are you using bandages to keep them together?” Kuwabara continued, taking Hiei’s other ankle and inspecting the other shoe as well.

“I advise you to quit touching me if you like your face unmarred…” Hiei warned, his feet in a comically perfect position to kick into Kuwabara’s face.

Kuwabara complied, but frowned at Hiei, red brows knitting together, “You need new shoes Hiei.”

Hiei snorted, and closed his eyes-the conversation over. (Or so Hiei stubbornly believed.)

Kuwabara frowned at Hiei’s closed eyes, and looked back at the shamefully worn down shoes upon the short warriors feet.

“…Your body is a weapon Hiei. You wouldn’t let your sword dull or rust-you can’t let you feet or shoes get in this condition. If your shoes fell apart in battle and tripped you up-and then someone actually got the upper hand on you-you’d never live it down. Ever.” Kuwabara paused and added, “I would never let you live it down…”

Hiei growled an snapped at Kuwabara like a wild animal, startling Kuwabara so bad he fell on to his butt with an, “oof!” Hiei glared daggers at Kuwabara, his frown curled in an almost child like pout-before he disappeared from his once comfortable resting spot, and Kuwabara’s presence.

The next time Kuwabara saw Hiei however, Kuwabara couldn't help but grin at the new shoes residing on Hiei’s feet.

End

Chapter Text

Hiei didn't understand Kuwabara, and he was pretty sure he never would.

"Get THAT away from me!"

"Oh my God Kuwabara! It's just a fucking centipede!"

"It's like 10 feet fucking tall!!!"

"No it's not!....It's only four feet!"

Yusuke was currently holding a rather large demon species of centipede in his arms, the creature squirming as it was held aloft. It was harmless, not poisonous like the human kind, and to demons they made for good pets. It was however, much larger than the human species of centipedes, and this bug had grown four feet long and if allowed to live could possibly grow up to 11 feet in length.  Kuwabara had gone several shades whiter upon seeing the bug, and was trying to keep away from Yusuke, who had taken it upon himself to torment his best friend. Rather comically Kuwabara was giving off howling high-pitched screeches anytime Yusuke came near him, arms holding out the centipede in mischievous delight.

"Kuwabara, that bug really is harmless. Why...Yusuke could even throw it at you, and the bug wouldn't pose a threat," Kurama's sickeningly sweet voice called out.

Kuwabara and Yusuke both looked at Kurama in a moment of stunned silence. Yusuke then broke out into the biggest grin while Kuwabara snarled, "Kurama you fucking troll!"

Soon Kuwabara was running screaming from Yusuke as the the youth began chase, holding the centipede high over his head, trying to take aim of his target. Kurama took his place at Hiei's side, Hiei shaking his head, "How cruel, Kurama."

"I say we deserve to be able to blow off some steam...and this is an amusing way to do that," Kurama stated with a grin, his eyes glinting playfully.

The four had just completed a small mission as a favor to Mukuro. A group of slave traders had been spotted trying to pass through her territory, but do to other matters, she had requested Hiei to take care of the problem. Yusuke had caught wind of the task, and decided to make it a "group bonding activity," and just like old times the four of them had gone out to face the odds. The mission had been very easy, but the sheer number of slave traders had made the mission a long one.

Now they were heading back towards Murkuo's home, and had stumbled across the giant bug which was making Kuwabara scream in panic.

"Come on Kuwabara! It loves you!"

"No-don't Urameshi!!!!" Kuwabara shrieked dodging the centipede as it was projected at him.

Hiei glanced down as something brushed against his leg. Another centipede, this one only about two feet long, and just as thick, was trying to crawl over Hiei's foot. Hiei stooped down and picked up the bug, glancing over at Kuwabara.

 

 

Art by Hlel, found at their ask blog.

 

 

 

"Hey Kuwabara," Hiei called.

Foolishly, Kuwabara turned to face Hiei, only to receive a face first of squiggling, wiggling, centipede.

Kuwabara exploded into a girlish squeal, his whole body jerking into a giant convulsion. He flinched into himself, balancing up on one leg as he sank into panic and fear. He quickly lost balance, and fell back into a sloping ditch, and with an evil giggled, Yusuke chucked the larger centipede on Kuwabara, sending Kuwabara into more hysterics.

The sight was so hysterical as Kuwabara panicked over the large bugs, that even Hie found himself laughing easily along with Yusuke and Kurama. 

Kuwabara had just managed to sit up when a tremor ran through the ground beneath their feet. 

"...The hell?" Yusuke cried out as he was knocked down to all fours from the force of the tremor.

There was a loud ripping sound as the ground neat Kuwabara opened up, and a large black hand reached out and grabbed Kuwabara the fingers closing fully around Kuwabara's entire body. The air around them seemed to create a sucking vortex and knocked the rest of the prone team off their feet. Kuwabara didn't even have time to scream as the hand pulled Kuwabara through the ground, the crack closing up after him.

"KUWABARA!"

Yusuke was up on his feet charging up his spirit gun within a matter of seconds, Hiei and Kurama scrambling closely behind. Yusuke fired a large blast right where Kuwabara disappeared, and the ground gave way revealing a large dark underground cavern. Wasting no words, the three demons descended into the darkness.

Immediately, an invisible force pressed against the three slamming them down deeper in the dark, a mangled voice shrieking loudly at them. What ever had them pinned coiled around them, and pressed hard against their chests. Hiei choked as he felt energy being sapped from his body, as air was trying to be squeezed out of his chest.

"I can't fucking see!" Yusuke snarled from somewhere to Hiei's left, his voice strained as he struggled against the unseen force.

Hiei grunted and turned his head towards the sound of Yusuke's voice, blinking in the unnatural darkness. Hiei could see nothing, nothing at all.

"Something is wrong with this cavern. The darkness isn't normal...something is taking my energy!"

Yusuke didn't seem to hear Hiei, his worry for his friend so great. Yusuke merely continued to scream and curse into the dark, his words not always coherent. 

"KUWABARA! KUWABARA?!" Kurama shouted from Hiei's right, voice lost as another twisted voice howled over them.

Hiei flinched as the roar passed over them. The voice was mangled and otherworldly, it's howl wrapped around Hiei and choked him with a startling fear that Hiei had never felt before. Kurama and Yusuke stilled for a moment, and Hiei was sure they felt it to-this unspoken terrible dread that the voice brought. When it quieted, the fear went with it, and Hiei began to struggle once more. 

"KUWABARA!"

"KUWABARA! ANSWER US!"

A cold sense of dread crawled up Hiei's spine as he couldn't help but think for all their screaming, Kuwabara's voice was the only one not heard.

Yusuke began firing off random shots in the dark, the blue light of his energy casting some light on the large black snake like coils that were wrapped around the group. After every shot he called out desperately in the dark, panicking the longer Kuwabara did not call back in return. He fired off another blast of energy, and for a second, just in front of him Hiei thought he saw the outline of a tall man, and a white face. A lump formed in his throat, a cold sweat chilled his skin, and fear squeezed at Hiei's chest like a vice. He pursed his lips, his throat constricting against this foreign feeling of terror. It was as if this intense fear wasn't his, but belonged to something else in the cavern. 

"Yusuke! YUSUKE! You have to stop! You'll bring the whole cave down on us!" Kurama cried, his voice shrill from terror.

The others must have been feeling the unnatural horror as well, Hiei reasoned. 

"I don't care! KUWABARA! KUWABARA! KUWABARA!" Yusuke howled, his voice cracking with terror.

There was something here, and it was possessing the three of them in some way-Hiei was sure of that. Hiei closed his eyes willing himself to remain calm. They needed to be calm in order to get out, in order to find Kuwabara-

Calm down. And be quiet.

Hiei shivered, his body stiffening and eyes snapping open as Kuwabara's voice whispered in his head.

"K-KUWABARA?" Yusuke called into the darkness, his tone suggesting he had also heard their missing friend's voice.

It's me. Just relax. You need to be quiet now. 

"Where are you?" Kurama asked, his voice only slightly raised, and sounding less terrified.

Shhhhh, Kuwabara's voice soothed inside their heads his calming tone making Hiei relax, I'll explain soon...but she's going to keep attacking until you all quiet down. You're scaring her.

"Her? Her? WHOSE THIS 'HER?' KUWABARA?"

Man, shut the hell up will ya?!  Kuwabara's voice snipped, and Hiei almost laughed. The terror that had gripped them was edging away now, as if it too was being soothed away by Kuwabara's voice.

No matter what...just remain quiet. Just for a little while.

And so, for two solid minutes the three demons could only wait quietly in the dark, coils of pressure still squeezing down on them. Finally they were released, and the darkness seemed to lessen. There was that same sucking sound from earlier, and the cavern slowly lit up with a dull light cast off from crystals stuck within the cavern's walls. About three feet in front of them stood Kuwabara, stopped in front of a dried out twisted corpse, that he was whispering to.

"See? You had them scared...that's all. People are loud when they're scared," Kuwabara whispered, attention solely focused on the remains in front of him.

The body was small, and twisted up in large roots. The clothing on the body was torn, and dull, the color of the fabric completely washed and faded away by time. But Kuwabara talked to this small, twisted corpse, and even paused between sentences as if he was hearing an answer back.

Hiei blinked, not exactly sure what he was seeing. He cocked his head looking over at Kurama and Yusuke who were sharing similar surprised expressions. 

"Kuwabara...what's going on?" Kurama ventured quietly, placing a hand on Yusuke's shoulder in case the former street punk started yelling again.

"This is Kumiko...she was buried alive down here by her village. She heard my screaming and got scared, that's all," Kuwabara said, still remaining stooped down in front of the corpse.

"...That's a flippin' mummy Kuwabara!" Yusuke hissed, his tone suggesting he was severely creeped out by the small corpse.

"I guess you guys wouldn't be able to see her... but yeah she's dead. She's a ghost. But trust me there's a little girl here, and she's just been scared. This place is really dark," Kuwabara answered lifting up his arms towards the mangled dried out corpse. 

"Kumiko, why don't you come with me? I live at a shrine on top of a hill, and it's very sunny. And at night if you're scared, i'll hang a lantern above where you sleep...okay?" Kuwabara whispered. There was a pause, and then Kuwabara smiled, seeming to have gotten his answer. With gentle hands he reached out and placed them on the corpse's arms.

As soon as he touched the body the cavern was flooded with orange light, and for a moment Hiei could see the little girl Kuwabara had been conversing with. The child had white hair, and pale blue skin. She was dressed in a red and yellow kimono, and plain wooden sandles. She two small horns on her forehead, and six watery eyes, all focused intensely on Kuwabara. The child was reaching for Kuwabara eagerly as the psychic took her into his arms. As soon as she was properly cradled in his arms, the light was gone, as was the clear form of the child.

Kuwabara held the small corpse tenderly to him, as if he was holding a sleeping babe.

Kuwabara looked out at his friends shocked faces, and he shrugged awkwardly under their stares, "Seems like her village sacrificed her to appease some Gods or something...she's been alone and scared ever since. I guess I woke her up with all my screaming. She'll be better off at the shrine."

No one was able to say a word.

Kuwabara shifted again, frowning uncomfortably as his friends scrutinized him.

Finally, Hiei removed his cloak, and placed it gingerly over the child's corpse.

"Okay...harmless bugs make you scream like a girl...but scary mummified dead kids you're cool with?" Yusuke sighed, tucking his hands behind his head uncomfortably.

Kuwabara shrugged, "I mean...ghosts are kinda scary...but you know. A lot of them are just...sad."

Kurama smiled at Kuwabara, and clapped a hand on his arm. He then turned away towards the direction from where they'd fallen, looking to asses how they would climb out.

Hiei glanced up at Kuwabara's calm face, and as his eyes raked over Kuwabara for injuries spotting two child-sized hand print bruises around his throat. 

"I just don't get you human," Hiei muttered quietly, turning away from Kuwabara to join Kurama.

Hiei was fairly certain that he would never understand Kuwabara, nor would there ever be anyone like him. Privately, Hiei thought that was unfortunate. 

End

 

Chapter Text

"What are you tearing up?"

Kurama blinked, coming out of his stupor as Yusuke's voice awoke him from the mid-morning haze he was currently trapped in. Slowly turning to his friend, Kurama met Yusuke's face with a blank confused stare.

Yusuke raised his brows, tilted his head, and pointed a bright purple card Kurama was currently tearing up. Kurama was currently running an errand around town for his mother, and Yusuke had decided to tag along. The two had been out walking around town, taking a rare moment to enjoy one another's company, but Yusuke had noticed something odd. Strangers, mostly men dressed in flamboyant suits, were passing Kurama these flyers or cards that Kurama would take, and then fold or tear up without a glance.

Kurama looked down at his hands and the card he was tearing, and then jolted as if he suddenly realized what he was doing.

"Ah. This...well...these cards...these flyers. They're asking me to be in a...well a movie."

Yusuke's brows shot up into his hairline, and then he grinned, "Wow! That sounds cool! Why tear those things up?"

An amused look crossed Kurama's face, "Not...just any type of movie Yusuke."

Kurama passed over the torn card, and Yusuke fit the card together like a puzzle. After a moment and some squinting, Yusuke sputtered, "This is for porn! They want you in porn!"

Kurama laughed at Yusuke's surprise, and when he calmed sighed loudly. "Ah....yes. I've gotten quite used to be handed these."

"...But you're a guy!"

Kurama laughed, "There are men in porn Yusuke."

Yusuke blinked looking flustered that Kurama was just taking this all so casually. "I mean...like...have they ever talked to you? Do they ask you exactly what they want you to do?"

"They can be rather explicit, especially if I'm on my own," Kurama sighed, half shrugging nonchalantly.

"Shit...and these people just hand you these cards on a regular basis? Do you get...bothered a lot to do porn? Do they realize you're only nineteen?" Yusuke was utterly flabbergasted as he looked between Kurama, and the torn card in his hands.

"Since I was very young they've approached me, I would dare say I was being asked since middle school! Mother used to chase them while hitting them with her her purse and loudly swearing at them! She'd cause quite a scene, it was very admirable of her." Kurama laughed wiping his eyes as if he was recalling a fond memory, and not a disturbing circumstance.

"This is fucked up!"

"People are vile Yusuke...this happens to a lot of young woman and young men. It starts out as requests to work at hosts clubs...and then on to something a little worse."

"It's illegal!" Yusuke snapped, clearly not amused as much as Kurama was.

Kurama sobered up a little at Yusuke's anger, touched by his friend's concern. Placing a hand on Yusuke's shoulder, Kurama gently spoke, "It is wrong...but unfortunately for them I'm a demon. And well...If I just so happen to accidentally plant some seeds on them that will slowly consume their flesh before causing them to die in a terrible twisted manner...well that's just unfortunate for them isn't it?"

Yusuke blinked, and dropped the pieces of card Kurama had torn to the ground. Shoving his fists into his pockets Yusuke shook his head, "Damn. I mean...good, those bastards deserve to die...but...just...Damn Kurama. I never wanna piss you off."

"That's funny, you're really quite good at it."

"Oh ha-ha Kurama, you know what i mean!"

As the two resumed their walk, Kurama was highly entertained and delighted to see Yusuke punch out the next person who tried to offer Kurama a card.

End

Chapter Text

Hiei was currently sitting at the edge of his bed, face in his hands, groaning loudly as the idiocy of what had transpired slowly set in. In deep slumber, with an ice pack on each pectoral, slept Kuwabara, who was, of course, the source of HIei's troubles.

"I had one job...just one job! Watch the human! Keep him out of trouble! Fuck!" Hiei groaned his words slurring a bit.

Really, this was all Yusuke's fault.

Yusuke had brought Kuwabara to his home in the Makai for one reason or other. Bonding, friendship, fights...something along those lines, and of course some demon had showed up intent on destroying Yusuke and being an all around dick hole. The demon was fairly powerful, and Yusuke, rather than risk Kuwabara, had whisked his best friend off to Mukuro's territory, found Hiei, made up some bullshit story about having a barbecue and needing to go hunt down a "demon cow" (there are no "demon cows." There are regular cows. Yusuke you fucker.), and left Kuwabara with Hiei, while Yusuke went to go take care of the jerk waiting for, "a battle of epic proportions," at his door.

Hiei, not sure what to really do to keep Kuwabara entertained and from getting suspicious, took some, perhaps foolish, advice from Mukuro...He took Kuwabara to a demon bar.

Two hours later they were both shitfaced, and stumbling into a tattoo parlor. 

All Hiei knows is that he didn't start sobering up until after Kuwabara had required two nipple piercings.

And here they were, the still drunk with Kuwabara passed out on his bed, and Hiei trying to figure out what to do about this current situation. 

"Shit....what was I thinking?" Hiei slurred, dragging his hands down his face.

Behind him, Kuwabara stirred and moaned, Hiei's loud groaning having woken the human from his drunken slumber.

"...Mmmmm? Mm....oooowwwww....owwww. Fuckity owww. My boobies hurt."

"...You don't have boobies."

"Yes I do...we all have boobies...and they hurtttt," Kuwabara whined, his lower lip stuck out in a pout.

"No. We all have nipples. Your nipples are what hurt," Hiei argued pointedly, his own inebriation not making him the best problem solver at the moment.

"Oh...oh...owwwww."

"Go to sleep..."

"Why do they hurt?" Kuwabara belched out the last word, frowning in disgust at his own actions, and maybe the taste of a 100 year old demon whiskey.

"...Ask Yusuke when he gets here. It's his fault."

"I knew it..." Kuwabara whispered, before slinging and arm over his eyes and passing back out.

Hiei rubbed his eyes and then slid to the floor. This was Yusuke's fault. Fuck this. He was going to sleep.

And with a drunken grunt, Hiei lay down on the floor, deciding he'd deal with this mess as soon as Yusuke arrived and woke them back up.

...Hiei would never babysit humans again.

...

...

...And Kuwabara did not keep the piercings. 

End.

 

Chapter Text

“See you tomorrow,” he had said. See you tomorrow…

“Fucking prick…” Yusuke whispered harshly as he strode far away from the hospital ward that contained a tired old husk, that 60 years ago had been in its prime. Sixty years ago that body had been young, and fit, awkward and gangling, and laughing-always laughing! That body had harbored the very soul and heart of the best man Yusuke felt he would ever know. That body had belonged to Yusuke’s greatest friend, Kazuma Kuwabara.

Yusuke was almost out of the hospital when Kuwabara’s final words whispered on his last breath, crashed all around him.

He stopped in the lobby and sunk to the floor in a squat, tangling his shaking his hands in his hair and in an angry outburst began to sob.

“You fucking prick! You liar! FUCK!” Yusuke choked, unaware of the scene he was creating.

See you tomorrow…

“Fuck!”

See you tomorrow…

“God fucking dammit!!”

“See you tomorrow,” Kuwabara whispered, his hand curled around Yusuke’s sleeve. Kuwabara’s hair was snow white now, and his face was so sagged and wrinkled, Yusuke could scarcely see the young man he used to be. It was a stark contrast to Yusuke’s young face that looked no older than 15.

“Kuwaba…” Yusuke didn’t even have time to finish saying Kuwabara’s name before the warrior of love was gone. Kuwabara’s hand crumpled away, and Yusuke grasped at the emptiness. See you tomorrow he had said. What a terrible lie…

Yusuke sobbed, his whole body shaking, his grief painful and unending. A nurse came to Yusuke’s side, and with great effort she had him deposited in a chair as she tried to calm Yusuke down.

Yusuke had no memory of how he left the hospital or got to his territory. But he had indeed made it home, and crawled into his bed, weeping without shame. The night would be long and the next day was years away. During the long, and what would be, a sleepless night, Yusuke’s friends had arrived. They came in pairs, arms looped around another in silent support. They would come to Yusuke’s room, and lay a hand on Yusuke’s leg, or just stand before him, before departing to drink in Kuwabara’s memory in Yusuke’s kitchen. There were no words  to be said, everyone was grieving, and everyone knew nothing could be said to comfort Yusuke.

Only two people stayed in Yusuke’s room as the man grieved. Kurama and Hiei had arrived and collapsed on Yusuke’s bed, their grief just as heavy and hard to handle. They mourned together and made no move to get up when the morning light crept into the bedroom.

They’d been through all this loss before. Each one harder than the next. Kuwabara had been the last of their human friends to linger, and now he was gone. As gone as teachers, as gone as friends, as gone as mothers…

Death had never felt so final.

From somewhere down the hall loud footsteps echoed. They walked with a steady purpose, and were at the door within a minute. The door banged open, and a figure rushed in before the room’s occupants could even properly stir. The figure stooped and flipped over the mattress, spilling three shocked young demons to the floor.

“Get up you guys! We got a problem in spirit world and Koenma needs your help!” A young and familiar voice proclaimed.

Three heads shot up and mouths fell open in gaping shock.

“Kuwabara?” Yusuke croaked, voice raw from hours of sobbing.

Kuwabara, young and sporting a bright orange pompadour, stood before them. He was dressed in a blue kimono, as bright as his old middle school uniform. With a twirl of his hand he summoned an oar, and promptly leaned against it as he stared back at his red-eyed friends.

“Jesus, you three look like hell!” Kuwabara snorted.

“I…I don’t understand?” Yusuke whispered, tears of joy and disbelief streaming down the tear tracks left behind from the other night.

Kuwabara smiled, his bright expression flushing for a moment as Kuwabara fought his own tears of joy, “Well…I said I’d…I’d see you tomorrow…and I’d hate to let you down.”

End

Chapter Text

When he was 5, Kurama decided it would be best to kill his mother. Out of compassion and mercy, of course. He had no ill will towards the woman, but it would be cruel to leave her alive. If he left her alone, with out her child and with out a husband, she would surely grieve and wither away into madness, and then death. This was really a merciful act he was contemplating.

Shiori had been kind to him, and had harbored him and taken care of him…he owed her a merciful death. Better for her to die, then live alone and in misery. 

He just had to wait a couple of more years…then his full strength would be back and he could go on living the life as the great Youko Kurama, just as he had wanted…

She kissed his cheek on his 6th birthday and his eyes fell to the bandages on her arms. They would scar the doctor had said, but Shiori had taken it all in stride. No sense worrying about something so trivial as a scar when her boy was unharmed.

He looked at his mother, and she cupped his face.

“My sweet boy…don’t be sad. My arms are alright.”

“Mom…what if it had been worse? What if you cut your face, or all of you got sliced to shreds?” Kurama asked staring up into his mother’s eyes.

She smiled sweetly at him. No matter what he said, no matter how he tried to put her off, she would always have an endearing look of love for him.

“A mother’s life is for her child. Once you were born, my life was not mine any more. It’s yours. A scar for your health and happiness is nothing…these little scars are nothing at all to have you my dear boy.”

A lump formed in Kurama’s throat at his mother’s words, and he wrapped his arms tight about her waist. “I love you mother! And if you’re life is mine then you can’t let yourself get hurt, or get frail. You’ve got to be happy, and healthy forever!”

Shiori laughed and embraced her child trying to soothe his fears. “My, my…you’ve always been so serious…I promise Shuuichi I’m stronger than I look! Your mommy can take anything!”

He squeezed her tight in response, and promised to take care of her. She would never be sad again if he could help it. He would wrap up all the happiness in the world and give it to his mother, she would never be miserable or suffer as long as Kurama lived.  And it wasn’t out of compassion that the thief spared her life, but for his own well being.

End

 

Chapter Text

“Bury me under a tree…” he whispered eyes closed, and voice raw, “Bury me under a tree and lay my friends next to me. I want to be with them side by side rotting…and fading away. I want us to become roots, branches, and leaves. I want us to reach for the sun…as we sleep and live forever in a swaying echo of life.”

“Kurama…” a choked sob whispered desperately from the shaking voice of a normally chipper shinigami.

“Bury me…under a tree…”

Chapter Text

“Lookit ‘em!” Yusuke whispered in a hushed excited whisper. When the person he was addressing didn’t respond, Yusuke gave them a sharp kick.

Kurama looked up from his book annoyed, but Yusuke put a hand to his lips and gestured in front of them. Kurama sighed, and rolled his eyes, but looked forward.

There on the porch, sat Kuwabara playing with some wild cat that liked to visit Genkai’s shrine, and behind Kuwabara was Hiei. Hiei was turned away from Kuwabara, and his head kept nodding into his chest. It took Kurama a minute, to understand what he was seeing, but then he too was excited.

“Hiei’s…falling asleep,” Kurama whispered, book forgotten. He’d never seen Hiei relaxed enough just to nod off in front of them out in the open, and within reach too! Even if you could see Hiei asleep he was normally in a tree and far from grasp.

“He’s leaning!” Yusuke whispered eagerly scooting closer to Kurama, eyes glued on the small demon.

And sure enough Hiei was showing signs of exhaustion. As his head kept sharply dipping into his chest, his body also was beginning to sag backwards, while his hands unclenched and reclenched as Hiei struggled to say awake. He would bump into Kuwabara if he kept falling asleep, and there was so many possibilities of Hiei panicking defensively if the small warrior did that.  With baited breaths, Kurama and Hiei hoped to see a silly outcome, one that led to Hiei getting embarrassed and Kuwabara defensive.

The best part of this predicament of course, was that Kuwabara was oblivious to everything.

By now, the stray cat had settled in Kuwabara’s lap and was contentedly purring away in the large man's lap, as Kuwabara focused all attention on the small feline. Kuwabara’s attention was completely on the cat, and a few accidental bumps from Hiei went completely unnoticed.

“Come on…” Kurama whispered as Hiei’s eyes closed.

Kurama and Yusuke leaned forward waiting for something to happen as Hiei continued to sway.

Yusuke’s hand came and gripped Kurama’s shoulder as Hiei's eyes closed and did not open. Kurama held his breath when Hiei titled back…and then…and then....

Hiei now fully asleep slumped against Kuwabara’s back. Kuwabara’s back straightened and his shoulders tensed. He turned his head slowly back catching sight of the slumbering Hiei, and then he turned to the now asleep cat curled in his lap. A funny twisted expression crossed Kuwabara's face as he sat still, unsure of what to do.

“Oh God…he’s trapped. Kuwabara’s trapped!” Yusuke giggled, eyes watering with tears as he fought to keep his voice down.

Kurama had both hands slapped to his mouth and whispered, “Look at him! Look at his face! P-poor Kuwabara!”

And like two loons the pair giggled as Kuwabara helplessly became the pillow for two wild animals.

End

Chapter Text

Koenma hated war. It threw everything off schedule. You could never account for how many deaths there would be. War was the one thing that would ruin a person's planned death.  Everyone, and everything has a schedule...and war was the one thing that put a wrench in all those carefully laid plans.

He was taught from the time he was very, very, young--that death had a schedule, and a strict one too. It was a shinigami's job to ensure that everyone died on schedule...if there were any abnormalities they needed to be reported to him. War was usually the only abnormality. And war was always a big abnormality.

During a war, especially the big ones, he would never get to be at his desk.

Instead he'd be roaming the battlefield watching his workers scramble as they tried to get everything in order. It was always too much...so often spirits would slip by. They would eventually become ghosts, distorting and twisting until they were unrecognizable. Only a psychic could help them find peace then. There was just too many dead...and Koenma couldn't save them all...even if he wanted to.

The few spirits his ogres, his messengers, his reapers, would get to calm down, Koenma would greet and deliver them the same message:

"I'm sorry...you have died. No, we did not plan for this, and no we can't bring you back in this life. War ruins everyone's schedule...But I can offer you three things. The first thing I can offer you is a rest. You may choose to move on and be with your loved ones at this time, though be warned you still need to be judged. If you have a sin to atone for from the past, that must be taken in account, though time will be taken off you sentence due to your current situation."

Koenma would often pause to let this first offer sink in, "The second thing that I may offer you is a clean slate. You can choose now, to be immediately reincarnated and start over in a different place, with a different family, and a different life. I can't promise you it will be a good one, life is what you make it...and sometimes outside forces can make your life bad. All I can offer your is a sort of..."do-over." The choice is yours."

Kurama would take in a deep breath, and with a slightly imploring tone finally offer the third option, "And the third thing I can give you...is a job. You can come work for me. If you haven't noticed...living and dying can be a mess. Death is especially messy. I need all the help I can get. You could work for me...there are countless jobs that need doing, and if you work for me you'd have a chance to help other souls like yourself. But there is a catch. You appearance may slightly alter. If you've committed a hefty amount of sins, you will become an ogre-for all eternity. Nothing wrong with ogre's though...my best workers are usually ogres...but for your sins the outside must reflect what you once did. And still, there's more...

You may visit your deceased loved ones, with special permission of course...but you can never rest. Until the world is over, until the sun burns out, until the universe goes dark, you will work for me. You will not be reborn, and you will not get to go to a final resting place. There is danger in this job...your spirit can be destroyed and you'll stop existing. We'll train you to try and prevent this. The hours are also terrible. You'll work every day, every night, all day for me in aiding the souls of this world and the next. Don't get me wrong...there is some occasions for you to rest and mingle with your fellow workers...there are a lot of workers...but you will be terribly busy. You'll also see many sad things too if you work for me.

Abused children...homeless heroes, woman and men who knew only pain and suffering...and perhaps you fall in that category too. It can be a lot to deal with...it's a hard job...but somebody has to do it...Well...what do you say? What would you like to do?"

Koenma was never hopeful about people taking the last option.

They often chose to move on, or be reincarnated. Statistically speaking, only one person a decade would decide to work for him. 

It was never enough...he was sure with all the war and strife, even if he had people volunteering every day, it would still never be enough.

Nowadays, when Koenma was really down from walking the fields of a battlefield he would remember the time a young woman had agreed to volunteer.

Her village had been burnt down from a war. Her people had done nothing wrong...their village has just been too close to the warring conflict. Her people had been raided by needy warriors, and in their greed, they had left no one alive. The greedy battlers had taken the village for all it had and left nothing but a dark stain in its wake.

The land was black and ashen beneath his feet when Koenma arrived. 

He had roamed what was left of the village, listening to the mournful wails of the dead, and watching his workers do their work.

He chose to stop in front of the spirit of a woman, who sat all by herself near the edge of what was once a village. Her spirit was burnt and blackened, with no hair or clothes, and her eyes were closed. None of Koenma's workers had greeted her-they instead were rushing around chasing after the other spirits of the dead, whom were screaming and crying out in their anguishes. Her head titled upwards at him as Koenma greeted her, but she did not speak. He gave her the same speech as he'd given the others, offered her the three things he was allowed to offer.

Hesitantly her hand reached out for him after he was done talking.

Koenma took her twisted blackened hand, and placed it on his arm, giving her dirtied fingers a squeeze. From touch alone, Koenma could tell this woman had known no kindness...she needed a rest.

"...What is your name?" A surprisingly sweet and even cheerful voice slipped past the burnt and twisted lips.

"Ah...Koenma. I am Lord Koenma," Koenma cleared his throat trying to sound more important-he had been terrible young at the time. And youth made him long to impress others-even if he was a God, and had no need for such a silly thing.

The woman giggled, dust shaking from her spirit as she she laughed, "I would very much like to work for you Lord Koenma...no one waits for me in the afterlife and I don't want to try living again...you're the first person to ever treat me with kindness...I would like to stand at your side."

Koenma had never been more stunned, or more moved in his life, and he expected he never would be.

Koenma got up first, and took both the burnt woman's hands, "As you stand you you'll feel a little dizzy...it will be your mortal form falling off...don't be frightened."

Taking her hands firmly, he helped keep her balance as she stood. She rose to her feet, wobbling like a newborn calf, but when she managed to stand her skin was clean and white. Her old skin lay in a dusty pile at her feet. Her eyes open, they were bright and pink. Koenma leaned forward and kissed her forehead, sealing within her body a contract of sorts. She now worked for him, she was bound to him, just as all the others were. When he drew back from her, long blue hair had sprouted to replace the hair she'd lost.

"Whats your name?" Koenma asked, realizing he hadn't asked for it.

"Botan...my name is Botan," the woman asked, hugging herself from the chill she now felt.

Koenma removed his cloak and draped it around her nude body, "Botan eh?"

"Bingo sir!"

Koenma had smiled to himself...and he was smiling now. On especially dark war fields...he like to recall that first time he'd ever heard Botan's bubbly voice.

End

Chapter Text

“It’s a hard job. But somebody has to do it. You’re never appreciated, never wanted, and it causes misery, despair, and anger for most…but it must be done. It’s a natural thing in life, it must be done. Do you understand?”

“Yes sir! I mean ma’m! Ma’m!”

“…It hurts others…and it will hurt you. There will be people in your life…that you meet. That you love. That you’ve watched over and have come to love and respect. But it’s still your duty to take them in the end…you have to do your job no matter what!”

“Yes ma’m!”

“…They might beg. They might cry. But you can’t change their fate unless they have died before their time, or some other such clause has been broken. It’s all in your handbook. Now, are you ready?”

Botan whirled on her young charge hoping to see and eager face. Instead the young girl before her had a wilted expression. Botan frowned, and then gently took the girl by her shoulders.

“Are you ready Hinageshi?”

The red head frowned, and after a moment asked, “Is there anything I can do for them before I ferry them?”

Botan smiled then, and bent down to the young girl’s level. “Yes. Greet them with a smile. Shift their sadness into something else-even if it's sheer annoyance at how happy you are. Remind them friends and loved ones are waiting for them…and that if they died without ever knowing love, they might get a chance to know it now. You’ll do your best Hinageshi, I know it.”

Hinageshi finally smiled, and pulled forth her oar eagerly. She bowed, and was off running down the hall, headed for her first charge. Botan smiled after her nodding happily.

“ ‘Atta girl…”

End

Chapter Text

"Would you like to be a grandmother?" Kurama asked Shiori one day as he shared some warm tea with her in the dining room.

The woman jolted as she looked over at her son. Tilting her head she brought her cup of tea to her mouth, an eyebrow arched delicately as she leveled Kurama with a suspicious look, "...Is there someone in your life who you're keeping me from Shuichi?...and if she's with child I think we need to have a talk!"

Kurama laughed, and reached out taking his mother's hand, "No, no...there's no one in my life...I was just wondering if you wanted a grand child."

Shiori smiled, "Maybe one day...but don't take that as I'm expecting it out of you! All I want is for you to be happy...and if that includes you having a child, then that's what I want. If your happiness means you never have children then that's what I want to. Don't put yourself out, or bring a life into this world because you think that's what I want!"

Kurama smiled, politely accepting the little bit of scolding his mom dished out.

He brought his tea to his lips when his mother added, "And if your happiness includes having wild passionate love with those three friends of yours, then that's fine too."

Shiori laughed richly as Kurama choked, snorting tea out his nose.

"M-m-mother!!" 

Shirori laughed, "I'm just saying I just want you to be happy...and as long as you're safe I don't care who or what makes you happy!"

Kurama wiped his face, his eyes watering painfully from his mother's joke, "Well there's no orgies happening on my end!"

Shirori chuckled before adding with a mischievous wink, "Besides...we can always put the pressure on Kokoda..." 

"What about pressuring me?" Kokoda's voice rang out as he joined the pair, carrying a sandwich from the kitchen.

"Its your duty to give mom the first grandchild," Kurama said sweetly smiling at his new brother.

Kokoda balked at the thought, his eyes comically wide at his step-brothers suggestion. His face was so comical, both Shiori and and Kurama burst out laughing.

"I'm too young to be a father!" Kokoda squawked setting his food down next to Kurama, looking to the older red head with a pleading look.

"No i'm afraid you're the best option. You have a much cuter face, your child should be the gift to our mother," Kurama said seriously clapping Kokoda's shoulder.

"What?! DAD!"

"WHAT? WAIT-DON'T SHOUT IN THE HOUSE!" Kazuya Hatanaka called from upstairs.

"DAD! DO I HAVE TO HAVE THE FIRST KID?"

There was a noticeable silence, and then the sound of hurried footsteps on the staircase. Kazuya poked his head from around the stairwell, eyeing his son's deeply concerned face, and then looking to his wife and step-son. 

"Did your mother say you needed to?" Kazuya asked calmly.

"Y-yes?"

"Listen to your mother Kokoda."

"DAD!"

Kurama and Shiori broke down into laughter once more, the sounds filling the house. Kurama marveled in the feeling that surrounded him...there was something wonderful about having a family. He was only sorry he hadn't known it in his previous life. Looking out at his mother's happy face, and the two new member of his family, Kurama made a promise to cherish them and the small gifts of peace and joy they brought.

End

 

Chapter Text

Kuwabara sighed, sitting heavily upon a green park bench. 

This had been a long, long, long...day.

Kuwabara was a year away from graduating college, all that he had left to do was his year of student teaching. He'd been told he would teach at a middle school in Tokyo, about 3 hours away from his old stomping grounds near Sarayashiki jr. High. Deciding to be a teacher had been an unexpected surprise for the warrior of love. But as he was going to school it occurred to him he had had no teacher to rely...no adult had ever been there for him in the way that Genkai had. And while she wasn't really a teacher for a school, she definitely taught him ways about the world that no one else had bothered to attempt.

She had been really important to him...and it made Kuwabara realize how cheated he had been when it came to his school giving him an education.

He had had no role models, no person at school he could depend on...He wanted now to be that someone kids could turn to. He really wanted to be someone else's role model, and he hoped he'd be able to help young minds shape into something they wanted to be.

...Not that he'd be much good if he remained lost. After a good hour of switching buses, a half hour of walking, and another bus, Kuwabara had to finally admit he was lost. How could he expect to help anybody if he couldn't follow a simple map?

"Ah man, I can't teach! I can't even read a stinkin' map! I'd probably make those poor kids dumber!!" Kuwabara finally cried tugging at his pompadour in frustration.

A soft mewing brought him from his negative thoughts.

Looking down, he spotted a small grayish kitten...if he could call it gray. Her fur was such a soft and pretty color he couldn't quite label it something as dull as gray. She was like a pastel...silver if that was a better description. She had a small little bold spot on her head in the shape of a crescent moon.

"Oh...oh....hey there little girl..." Kuwabara leaned down holding out a giant hand palm up towards the kitten.

The kitten was so small, she could easily step into his palm and sit comfortably, and after a curious prod with her paw, she did just that. He gently brought the friendly creature up towards his face, and with his other hands began stroking her ears. The small kitten immediately began purring, putting a smile to Kuwabara's face. 

"Aww...well...well you're just so cute. I would have never...wow...ha! You came just in the time little lady! I was having a pretty bad day."

"Why don't you tell me about it?"

For three dumb-struck seconds Kuwabara thought the kitten had spoken to him, and his jaw dropped as the gears in his head stopped turning.

A giggle to his left caught Kuwabara's attention, and he turned to see a very small little girl, with pink buns on her head. She was smiling at Kuwabara, curious red eyes glistening up at him. She emitted a powerfully innocent aura, and Kuwabara could sense an odd power coming from the child. It was a very clean power...perhaps she had the potential to be a miko?

"Uh...is this kitten yours?" Kuwabara asked holding out the small cat.

The kitten hopped from Kuwabara's hand to the small child's head, answering Kuwabara on the little girl's behalf.

"Yes this Is Diana! I'm Usagi...but my friend's call my Chibiusa. You seem sad...do you need to talk about it?"

Kuwabara smiled at the bold child and shrugged, "Are you sure you should be talking to me? Even if I give you my name, I'm still a stranger. Aren't you worried?"

Chibiusa shook her head, "No...Diana wouldn't have come up to you if you were bad...now why don't you tell me what's wrong?" 

The little girl then took a seat next to Kuwabara, smoothing out her skirt as she did so. She folded her hands in her lap and looked up at Kuwabara, giving him her full attention. She was marvelously mature for such a small little girl, or at least she was putting on that air. She was quite charming.

Kuwabara grinned, and feeling at ease spilled his woes to the child. He gave her his name, and why he was now in Tokyo. How he had doubts in becoming a teacher, but really desired to be one, longing to help others to make up for the bad teachers he had encountered in his own life. He talked of leaving his sister behind, and his friends...and even admitted that he was a little lonely being her all alone. Chibiusa played a good audience, giving Kuwabara her full and rapt attention. When Kuwabara had finished, the little girl reached out placing a small hand on his arm in a comforting gesture.

Her spiritual energy was pure and soothing, if she chose to say nothing, her touch alone quieted Kuwabara's doubts.

"Mr. Kuwabara you shouldn't doubt yourself! You're just getting started! Even if you make a mistake you'll just have to try again, right? Besides...I think you'll do great! If this is what you want, and you're passionate about it, you'll be alright!"

Kuwabara smiled, "I think you're right Little princess...thank you! I feel a lot better!"

Chibiusa smiled, raising her chin with pride at being praised. She looked quite flattered with Kuwabara's choice in a nickname. Hopping down from the bench she offered, "As for you being lost, my friends can probably help you out! They know where everything is!" She stretched out the word, 'everything,' with her hands as if to show the vast knowledge she believed her friends to carry.

Kuwabara rose, holding in a grin as he saw the girl visibly jump at the shock of his full height, and said, "I would love to meet your friends and get their help if it's no trouble to you Little Princess."

For a moment Chibiusa just looked up at him, admiring his height. Finally the girl blinked, coming back down from her shock, and presented Kuwabara with a wide happy smile. She nodded, eager to play tour guide and started out on her own gesturing at Kuwabara to follow her.

They looked like an odd little parade as they made their way down the busy sidewalk. Kuwabara smiled politely at other people they passed, nodding at young children who gaped open mouthed at him. Chibiusa came to stop at last in front of an arcade and dashed inside, Kuwabara following quickly after her. Even if the girl introduced him to other children, surely the owner of the arcade could tell Kuwabara where the Juuban Muncipal Junior high was located-his appointed school for his student teaching. With surprise, and a large amount of relief the little girl made her way over to a crowd of older teen aged girls.

Chibiusa latched herself to a girl with long blonde hair, and two buns perched on top of her head, stylized very similarly to the little girls hair style. They looked fairly alike, and Kuwabara reasoned this young lady might be the older sister to his precocious tour guide. The blonde was surrounded by her gaggle of friends, who had formed a protective circle around the two girls at Kuwabara's approach. The group of young woman radiated with power that Kuwabara couldn't quite describe...it was different from anything he'd ever felt before, but not threatening. There was something mystical about this group, and it was a small relief to know that despite the power they emitted, it didn't feel dangerous.

The blonde in the middle, who had her attention focused solely on Chibisua, finally looked up at Kuwabara and piercing him with her clear blue eyes.

Kuwabara had the sudden urge to fall on his knees and swear his allegiance to the blue eyed beauty before him. 

If he had thought the small child radiated purity, this young teen was the definition of it. The aura that spilled from this girls body was soothing, and pure much greater than the little girls. It was like Chibiusa's power was a fingerprint of the blonde's-and the blonde's power felt immeasurable...he had not felt anything so powerful in his enter life. An intense desire to protect this girl and what ever she stood for washed over him, and in his mind's eye he felt he could see a white palace surrounded by white light, the earth reflected in a water moat that surrounded the gates. He blinked, pushing through the sudden wave of reverence, and odd nostalgia, before finally managing to bow politely to the group of girls.

"Please excuse me for intruding! I was lost, and your little princess there brought me to you in hopes that you could point me in the right direction. My name's Kazuma Kuwabara, and it's an honor to meet you all."

There was an odd tense silence from the group as if they were sizing Kuwabara up, feeling power emit from him as well.

The blonde in the center broke the odd tense spell with a sudden cry, "Ahh! You're so tall! Like a giraffe!"

"A g-giraffe?!" Kuwabara sputtered shocked.

 

 

 

 

The girls burst into laughter, though the shorter blue haired teen scolded the blonde, "Usagi! That's very rude!"

The tension had been lifted, and stumbling to her feet the blonde laughed, a hand tucked behind her head, "I'm sorry, i'm sorry! I didn't mean anything by it. I'm Usagi Tsukina! Nice to meet you!"

As soon as she introduced herself Kuwabara was surrounded by the girls, each eager to give out their name.

"I'm Minako Aino! Where are you from? Wow you're taller than Makoto-oof! Ow! What Rei?"

"My name is Ami Mizuno. It's a pleasure to meet you Mr. Kuwabara."

"I'm Makoto Kino. Where were you headed? We can help you find where you need to go."

The last girl, with mistrusting eyes, and long dark hair extended her hand, "I'm Rei Hino."

She set Kuwabara with a stare and waited patently for him to take her hand. A gut feeling told Kuwabara that if he took her hand, she would come to know something about him, but on that same note he felt he would be extended that same right. Smiling, he took her hand and within their touch knew he was shaking hands of a powerful psychic, though his power was greater. Urging his energy to be soothing, he hoped he could convey to her he meant no harm, without actually having to voice it. Her eyes widened, and the two stared at one another, acknowledging in the powers that they both felt. 

Rei smiled, at last finding no threat in Kuwabara and with ease properly greeted him, "It's very nice to meet you Mr. Kuwabara. How can we help you?"

Kuwabara again explained that he was new to Tokyo, and was looking for Juuban Muncipal Jr. High.

"Oh! Most of us go there!" Usagi exclaimed, a bright smile flashing her face. She hooked her arm with Kuwabara's, giggling at how far she had to reach in order to do so, "We can take you there! Are you a new teacher?"

"I'm a student teacher...for the next year i'll be assisting the class until I graduate from my college," Kuwabara explained happy to have had the chance to meet some possible students.

"We can take you there!" Ami offered eagerly, her eyes alight and curious about Kuwabara's journey into academia. 

The girls all agreed eagerly to play Kuwabara's tour guide, and they were halfway out the door, when the group bumped into a tall young man. Kuwabara stood maybe two inches taller than the man. Like the girls he too gave off an odd powerful aura. He looked Kuwabara in the eyes, and his brow furrowed with uncertainty, a small barely noticeable frown crossing his face as he spotted the blonde girl's arm looped into Kuwabara's arm. The dark haired youth reached out instinctively for the blonde girl with buns, and she responded by hugging his waist. He tugged her towards him, standing taller now that she was in his arms, and he easilly tucked her into his side.

Kuwabara couldn't help but think this man resembled a knight.

"Mamo-chan!" Usagi greeted the taller man, her face flushing in delight as she gazed up at the taller dark haired man.

"Hello Usa-ko..." he returned, eyes casting downwards to the smaller girl, and softening with what could only be an intense love.

Rei reached out tapping the dark haried man's arm and the two shared a look. What ever passed between the two, immediately put the young man at ease. With a friendlier smile and tone he greeted Kuwabara, "I'm Mamoru Chiba, who might you be?"

"My name is Kazuma Kuwabara, these young ladies were just pointing me in the direction of Juuban jr. high...If it wasn't for the little princess here, I'd be terribly lost!" Kuwabara reached down and plucked up the small girl, who giggled with delight as she was hoisted with ease off the ground, and balanced her on his arm. She was beginning to get lost in the crowd, and Kuwabara felt it would be nice to offer her a hand up. Mamoru blinked with surprise as Kuwabara lifted Cibiusa up, but instantly his grin became more wide and sincere.

"Ah...you think Chibiusa a princess?" Usagi asked, eyes alight in amusement.

"I do. Only a princess would stop to ask an ogre how he was feeling," Kuwabara answered sincerely.

Chibiusa pouted, casting Kuwabara a nasty look, "You're not an ogre! You're like a friendly large cat!"

The group all shared a laugh, Kuwabara apologizing to Chibiusa for being mistaken. Mamoru plucked the girl from Kuwabara, placing her atop his shoulders. Kuwabara admired Mamoru, Chibiusa, and Usagi together. They looked like a perfect little family.

"He's going to be a student teacher at my school!" Usagi further explained when the laughter had died down, giving Mamoru's arm a tight affectionate squeeze.

"Ah I see...How about I join you all? I'd like to learn more about you, if that's alright Mr. Kuwabara."

"Not at all, it's nice to run into a group of friendly faces! I was kind of down until I happened upon your little group."

And so it went the group bustling towards the direction of Juuban Jr. High, Kuwabara jotting down notes on his map. The girls were eager to hear about his life, about his friends, about living mostly alone with his older sister, and even about his nervousness about being in Tokyo. Makoto and him could relate to how annoying being very tall was, and Kuwabara showed a picture of his sister, happily explaining how she was taller than him to the young girl, further pleasing the brunette. Minako and Usagi were amazed to hear Kuwabara had been terrible at school and now wanted to be a teacher. Ami and Cibiusa admired his goals of wanting to give to others what he'd been deprived of, while Mamoru and Rei's eyes watched Kuwabara cautiously, but without malice.

When they arrived at the middle school, Kuwabara bowed to group, thanking them further, "Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have to meet up with the principal...and I hope to see you all again."

Usagi eagerly waved good-bye to Kuwabara, "Bye-bye Kuwabara-sensei! I hope you're in my class!" 

Kuwabara waved good-bye, and turned towards the middle school. He couldn't help but think that this would be a very interesting school year.

Meanwhile the group who led him to the school privately chatted about the new comer they had just met.

"He had a strange power about him...but not threatening. Maybe even a little familiar."

"He's not an enemy is he? He was really nice!"

"No...I don't think so. Maybe an ally...maybe someone from the past..."

"Well I think he's nice!," Chibiusa spoke up interrupting the group, "And Diana went up to him right away!"

"Oh yes. He feels very safe!" Diana agreed, purring fondly.

Usagi draped her arms around Chibiusa's shoulders, "He does feel nice...I don't think we need to worry about him."

She smiled at her friends, and dispelled any lingering doubts among the group.

As the girls worked further away from Kuwabara, and as Kuwabara met with the school principal, both parties felt in their hearts they had just experienced an important meeting. One that may even changer their futures, forever.

End.

 

Chapter Text

Money. Money, money, money, money, money.

It ran the world of humans. It was apparently so important that it made lives worthless. Money was so important that you snatch a child off the street and charge their parents to get their child back. Money was so important you killed, you stole-anything for money. Money was the blood of a race, it drove them to live, to kill, to have sex. Money was the root of all evil and all good. Money was the torturer of woman and the savior too.

Money was truly the tool of the most horrifying monster...humans.

Humans were terrifying. 

Were demons this terrifying?

Yukina actually wasn’t so sure…She’d been sheltered most her life.

But humans.

Humans!

They did everything for paper and coin…Did demons?

Did everyone?

Was every living thing in the universe attracted to shine of a coin, the sparkle of a gem, the crinkle of paper?

She watched them burn her flesh and mar her skin, all so the they could gather her tear gems like it was precious water for a drought stricken land. Like the hardened saltine crystals were of great importance...like they were more than just rocks. They killed someone who tried to protect her-who had shown her decency all for sake of her tears. And later they killed a couple of birds who had brought her happiness. Was there no end to what humans would do for money?

Money brought her to this prison…and in a way it freed her from another.

It was these questions, in addition to the rumor of a brother, that made her want to see for herself what the worlds of demons and humans had to offer.

Besides greed, of course.

End

Chapter Text

When Yusuke was small, the school had taught him how to make paper flowers as a gift for his mother.

Red construction paper, folded, crinkled, and rolled, could pass for a fantastic rose bud-especially when glued to another tightly rolled length of green construction paper. With safety scissors he could then cut out leaves and attach those to his stem. Being someone who took notice of all details, he would even make thorns, even if his teacher told him that was a bad idea.

On mother's day he would gift these paper rose creations to his mother in fist fulls.

Her favorite parts where always the thorns.

"Your attention to detail is amazing. You've noticed everything about the flower, the good and the bad," Atsuko would praise.

As they grew older, and they both became jaded to the hardships of their lives, cruel words were flung, and angry shouts passed back and forth, but the paper flowers remained. 

Every year, given out by the fist full...the thorns always remained Atsuko's favorite part.

When Yusuke was 16, and living much happier with understanding of what he was and who he was, he gifted his mother two gifts.

A night rose from demon world, that bloomed year round, and glowed a faint pink in the dark, and one more paper rose-made with the same clumsy care of his youth.

 

End

Chapter Text

"What the actual flying fuck am I seeing right now?!"

Keiko would have never expected to use those words, but they were the ones that leapt out of her mouth as she walked in on Shizuru and Yukina sharing a long and lingering kiss.

The two woman jumped, stepping away from one another, both looking to Keiko in stunned silence. The three were at a standoff, Keiko standing in the Shrine door way eyes round, and cheeks burning, while both Yukina and Shizuru's faces danced between fear, and uncertainty.

"You're dating Kazuma," Keiko accused, breaking the silent tense air as she addressed Yukina.

"N-no...I'm...I'm not."

"You two went on a date a month ago. It's all he talks about!"

"...I haven't gone on a second date..." Yukina offered in a tiny voice.

Keiko threw up her hands so sharply she dropped her schoolbag, "You've been telling him you were busy! Were those just polite excuses?" Keiko cried eyes looking to Yukina for an answer.

Yukina bowed her head, "I just...I don't know how to tell him...that.." Yukina could finished, her remorse was too great.

"Oh my god! You don't just tell someone whose interested in you, you're busy! You tell them the truth! Oh my god! Oh my GOD!! Busy! Busy my foot! Busy doing his sister apparently!"

"Hey now!" Shizuru interrupted, her voice rising in anger, "We haven't been doing that-"

"But you two are CLEARLY doing something!" Keiko snapped, boldly stepping forward, eyes set in a hard glare, "What are you two thinking! Shizuru! Kazuma is your brother!  He has been in love with Yukina for years now! Yukina!" Keiko snapped her head around to look the cowering woman in the face, "You asked him to kiss you-and you're making out with his sister behind his back!? How could you two do this?!"

"We...we didn't mean for this to happen!"

"I made a mistake...I-I don't like Kazuma in that way! I'm not sure what to do!"

"I've kept it secret for a long time...but I love Yukina!"

"I love Shizuru!"

"We really messed up-I really messed up!"

"No I made the mistake! And I'm too scared to fix it!"

Both Yukina and Shizuru spoke at once, both their voices heavy with guilt, regret, and uncertainty.

Keiko's white hot blood boiled to a low simmer as she cast judging eyes over her friends. At the sight of their downcast eyes, and guilt ridden postures, she felt a wave of pity for both of them. These were her friends, and they were not woman who would go out of their way to hurt someone. She could see the look of desperation and unsteadiness flashing in their eyes and weighing their postures down. Shizuru laid a tender hand on Yukina's shoulder, and the smaller woman pressed into Shizuru's side seeking comfort. There was guilt in their every movement, but there was love too. The could not help but to love one another. 

Again a wave a of pity flooded over Keiko. No...no her friends did not mean to be in this mess, how could they? You couldn't choose who to love, or when it happened.

 

And sometimes it came at the worst of times.

This was one of those horrible time.

She meant to speak, and give calm advise to her friends when she suddenly recalled Kuwabara's smiling face, and comforting words from a few days ago. In this time, where once again Yusuke was missing on some other godforsaken wild adventure, Kuwabara had made many great efforts to be at Keiko's side and keep her company. He too was sad, but he put Keiko's feeling above his own and did what he could to make her smile and get her mind off her troubles. Even when studying was hard for him, even when he ached and missed his friends, even when he was tired...he was always trying to think of her. Always trying to think of others even if he said the wrong things at times...even if he was sometimes clumsy. He was always trying. He tried so hard, and never gave up.

She could remember when a month ago he had spoken softly to Keiko, "I'm working very hard...and sometimes I don't know if it's for anything, but I want to try. I want to tell Urameshi how hard I worked, and all my progress," Kuwabara had blushed, and shyly looked up into the sky, "I want to tell her how Yukina asked me for a kiss...i'll treasure that moment more than I can say."

The memory of his smiling face was like a slap in the face. His hard work...was it for nothing? He was to be broken hearted...or worse. He would be in constant pursuit of a girl he couldn't have, while his sister went behind his back and...

The anger that been cooled by Yukina and Shizuru's sorrows, now boiled over as she imagined the future hurt Kuwabara would be going through.

"BUT STILL! You have wasted a whole month! You don't just politely reject his dates and make up excuses! You need to tell him outright what is going on!" Keiko shouted her cheeks getting red.

"It...it's not that easy..." Shizuru tried to say, trying to defend herself for their actions.

In that moment Keiko could feel Yusuke's wrath boil through her, and channeling both her anger and his she reached up and slapped Shizuru as hard as she could. The larger woman was startled and cried out more from shock than pain, but indeed the slap must have hurt. Shizuru fell to the ground, and Yukina gave a scream from all the commotion. 

"IT'S NOT GOING TO BE EASY! You both have messed up here! There's nothing wrong with being together-but Yukina! You should have rejected Kuwabara outright! If not before your date, then at least after! It's easier to get this mess cleaned up and done with right at he beginning, even if it hurts! Trying to spare his feelings and waiting it out while you go around his back will just cause him greater pain in the future! Shizuru! You're his older sister! Take responsibility for your actions and tell him! He loves you! Do you think he'd hate you for falling in love, even if it's Yukina? Even with this mess...he'd be able to understand...even if it hurt! You two talk to him or-or-OR I WILL!"

Keiko stomped her foot aggressively howling so loud the birds outside grew scared and took off. 

Fists clenched tight, she turned from her friends headed for the door. She paused, scooping up her thrown purse, "I'm giving you a week to say something. Grow up and accept the mistake you've made and make amends! Take responsibility in this! If you don't tell him within a week...I'm doing it!"

Her fury giving her courage not to look back at her hurt friends, Keiko left mind a whirl on how Kuwabara would handle this.

She wished more than ever Yusuke, Kurama, and Hiei were back. They were missed and needed more than ever now. She could only hope that when the time came, she could be Kuwabara's shoulder to cry on, and be as strong as Yusuke would have been. 

End.

 

Chapter Text

Early on in their budding friendship, Yusuke had been the first to point out, “Guys don’t hug.”

Kuwabara had agreed, but then Yusuke accused Kuwabara of being the cuddly type. The two argued about what made someone cuddly, punched each other out, woke up, argued again and then punched each other out again. This continued six more times before in exhausted breath, Yusuke claimed it was Kuwabara's love for cats and overall gentle personality that made Kuwabara a, "cuddly type." Kuwabara grunted, and stuck out his lower lip, muttering sourly that that was no way to judge anybody.

Nevertheless, Yusuke insisted, "Guys don't hug, so you keep your cuddles away!"

As missions dragged on, and they grew closer there were a few times, when a hug was okay-but never ever ever ever in front of anyone. Don’t hug in front of any one.

That earned you a punch in the face.

You had a manly persona to upkeep after all!

More time passed, Toguro came…followed soon by the dark tournament. When Toguro was defeated, Yusuke decided hugging was okay in front of friends. Just not strangers.

So pulling Kuwabara into a bear hug in the privacy of their hotel room, in front of Kurama and Hiei was completely okay. Clinging to the man and even weeping openly, in the privacy and safety of their friends' company was okay. A hug was needed in this casem to ensure the presence of life and that the sound of a heartbeat really was beating.

But no, hugging in front of strangers or bad guys. No. No that was out.

More time passed, Sensui was gone and Yusuke had been to demon world and returned. But there was always more bad guys, always another fight.

So when during their latest, “save their world stick,”  Yusuke showed up to help save the day, after he had been thought dead, Kuwabara barreled past the enemy, and scooped Yusuke up.

 

 

 

 

“Urameshi! You’re okay!!”

“Easy, easy! Ow! Kuwabara put me down!! My ribs don't need to crack this moment okay??" 

The enemy, and his horde of followers were speechless as they watched Kuwabara crush Yusuke in a hug.

"Kuwabara…jesus you big lug! Everybody is watching!”

“I’m so glad you’re okay!”

“…Excuse me" The latest enemy interrupted, clearing his throat to catch the pairs attention, "but we were fighting…I was about to wipe you all out…”

Yusuke shot their enemy the bird, and snapped, “Fuck you buddy! Can’t you see we’re having a moment here!”

“Yeah! Fuck off!”

And while the next great threat to earth was gawping at the cuddling men in stunned silence, Hiei snuck up behind him and decapitated him.

End

Chapter Text

A strangled scream ripped from Yusuke’s throat as Kuwabara leaped in front of an oncoming attack, the light blinding Yusuke for a moment.  There was a great tearing, and Yusuke knew that to be the sound of the ferocious blast slicing through Kuwabara’s belly. The light faded, and Yusuke blinked rapidly willing his eyes to work, trying painfully hard to ignore Kurama and Hiei's screams, and even worse, Kuwabara's absolute silence.

His vision returned in time for Yusuke to watch as Kuwabara’s hand flew to his stomach as a wave of red cascaded over his pale interlocked finger tips. He fell back without warning, but Yusuke was there to catch the larger man, bracing Kuwabara tightly in his grasp.

“You bastard!” Hiei snarled attacking the demon who’d harmed his comrade, and together with Kurama began pushing the assailant back and away from the two now curled on the ground.

Bleary, pale eyes looked up, meeting wet brown.

“…Hi…” Kuwabara whispered stupidly, the shock and pain leaving Kuwabara befuddled. 

Yusuke choked and pulled the bleeding man to him, clamping his hands on top of Kuwabara’s wound. Shaking, and feeling helpless-just like all those years ago in front of a stadium of demons-Yusuke tried to keep his voice calm.

“B-Breathe slowly. Slowly Kuwabara! C-can you heal yourself…like…like Genkai and Yukina ta-taught you!”

Over the vast many months Genkai and Yukina had been showing Kuwabara to bend his powers in another direction, to heal as well as protect. Genkai had always said Kuwabara's power was more geared to healing great wounds, rather than acting as brute strength. In this training Kuwabara had flourished and took to healing others rather quickly and easily...healing himself however was a great task. Healing others while he was in good health was easy, but calling on his own strength to heal himself while injured...proved very hard for Kuwabara to grasp indeed.

He had not mastered healing his own ailments yet...and now Kuwabara would be put to this terrible test.

Kuwabara blinked, his nose flaring red. His eyes glassed over dangerously, and for a moment Kuwabara looked like he was going to burst into tears. He took in a deep slow breath, and regained some composure, his pride and stubbornness not permitting tears. With a shaky weary breath Kuwabara wheezed out two soft words, “…I…I’ll try…”

There was a beat where the two didn’t speak, and then Kuwabara whispered, “This really fucking hurts!” He choked on one bitter sob, and Yusuke crushed the man to him.

Useless facts that Yusuke was never aware he knew began flying through his head, ’Stomach wounds are among the most painful wounds a human can receive. There’s enough blood in the human body to fill up two gallon milk jugs. If the kidney is stabbed you can die within a minute...’

Yusuke closed his eyes tight,  and whispered, “Concentrate Kuwabara. Heal. Heal. Heal. Heal. Focus all your energy on living. Stay here with me and I’ll get us home. I’ll take care of the rest! J-just please please please please stay with me man!”

Kuwabara buried his face in Yusuke’s neck, tears slipping down his cheeks from the fear and pain of it all. But he listened to Yusuke’s begging, and kept trying to force his energy to mend and close his torn flesh.

“Why do you always gotta do this?!” Yusuke hissed suddenly angry. “Why do you always have to fucking do this Kuwabara!? I'm strong-stronger than you, you great ape! Just...just…ju…FUCK!”

Kuwabara nuzzled into Yusuke’s neck, dizziness making it hard to concentrate. But at Yusuke’s sudden anger and questioning, Kuwabara felt a sudden peace. “Because…you hafta stay…with me too. You…you keep leaving me…” Kuwabara sniffled suddenly feeling like a petulant child, “And you can’t…you can’t do that anymore…you gotta…you gotta…”

Kuwabara lapsed into a great silence and grew heavy in Yusuke's arms.

Yusuke felt his stomach knot, and a cold dread filled him to the brim.

“KUWABARA!”

Yusuke pulled Kuwabara away to cast desperate eyes on his friend's injury, but instead Yusuke only saw stains. Kuwabara's abdomen was clean, his skin healed sloppily together, but healed. It would still need care, and Kuwabara was not completely out of danger, but Kuwabara had done it, he had closed his wound. Yusuke choked with relief, and felt a large hand clumsily clasp him about his ear and neck. Kuwabara's bleary eyes met Yusuke's gaze and the two held each other in a long gaze.

“You gotta stay with me too…you gotta...” Kuwabara whispered his voice feeble, but sincere.

Yusuke said nothing, though in his head and within his heart, he made a thousand promises.

End

Chapter Text

Kurama looked at the picture in his hand and sighed.

It was of his friends.

Kurama had requested a group photo of them all.

This had of course been a terrible mistake.

Rounding everyone up had been a nightmare. Asking them to act like civilized people had been out of the question. Two brawls, four shouting matches, and Hiei threatening to cleave everyone in half had been the result of just trying to get everyone together for a simple picture.

But as he looked at the image of his friends, battered, bruised, dirty and smiling, Kurama couldn’t help but think he’d managed to captured the groups essence perfectly.

End

Chapter Text

“Do demons get married?” Kuwabara asked out of the blue one day.

Kurama had been spell checking Kuwabara’s essay, and the question had been so jarring it took Kurama a long moment to speak. “What?”

Kuwabara didn't respond immediately. Instead, he was looking off in the distance his heart not into studying, and perhaps not even in to being in Kurama's company. Today was Yusuke's birthday, and Yusuke had still not returned from the Makai...no doubt Kuwabara's thoughts lingered on his best friend. Kurama had tried to be Kuwabara's rock during this time, and even Hiei had been caught lingering around the human realm in an effort to provide Kuwabara with some company. But what Kuwabara needed and wanted was to see Yusuke, and even on the best of days, the longing gloom that settled over Kuwabara's eyes could not be completely lifted.

"Kuwabara...?" Kurama tried again and tentatively placed a hand on the man's shoulder to call Kuwabara back from his thoughts.

Kuwabara sighed and folded his arms, leaning heavily into their bulking folds. He finally looked to Kurama and offered a tiny shrug. “Do demon’s get married? Like have weddings and stuff?”

Kurama was surprised this was to be the question he would be hearing today.  Setting Kuwabara’s paper aside Kurama was silent for a long moment. He wanted to give the best answer to a question that wasn't as simple as one might think.

“Well…there is mating for demons which is similar to your human rituals...and then there is marriage, and marriage in the demon realm is vastly different from a human marriage." Kurama's brow furrowed as he tried to think of an easier way to explain the complex rituals that took place in the makai.

Kuwabara's eyes gleamed with interest, and it seemed for a moment his longing for his best friend was forgotten. The spark in Kuwabara's eyes were not lost to Kurama, and he straightened himself up willing to spill any secret, or give any explanation, if it would only ease Kuwabara's loneliness for a moment.

"Well let's see..." Kurama began letting out a terse breath, "Let's talk about mating first...this is much closer to the term human term of marriage. To be mated with a demon is very similar for when a human couple chooses to marry, through the traditions may be different. There is not normally a wedding party when demon's mate…Maybe friends will come over for food, drinking, and then a brawl…but there’s no gown or exchanging of rings. Sometimes mated demons will get brands, tattoos, or piercings…often nothing at all. They’ll just be mated with no identifying features-and no one will know unless they are asked. Showing you are mated doesn’t always matter...it's just not...well having a spouse isn't always important. Sometimes, especially in great vast demon territories, a marriage is only needed for political reasons.”

Kuwabara sat up now, trying to keep up with Kurama's explanation. "So as a recap...Mating is when a demon takes a spouse? And not you know..." Kuwabara tried not to sound awkward, "The sex part."

Kurama's mouth twitched, and he fought back a smile, "There of course can be sex between spouses...but if a demon takes a spouse, one that they may have children with, the act is called mating."

"And you don't always show outward signs of being...mated?" Kuwabara asked.

"No, not always."

“…So you and Hiei could be married right now?” Kuwabara was grinning wide now, “Like you two could have spouses that Urameshi and I just don’t know about?”

Kurama smiled chuckling a little, “Yes we could…but I assure you, we are not...I could do better!"

Kuwabara squawked, "I didn't mean you two were married to each other?"

"And why not? I'm a perfectly good catch!"

"Kurama!"

"Hiei doesn't know what he's missing! I'm fine indeed!" Kurama raised his chin, and brought a hand to fluff his hair.

The gesture was too much, and Kuwabara collapsed into howling laughter. Kurama grinned at Kuwabara's delight, and he too broke down. it was several minutes before the two could get themselves under control.

"Who knows. Maybe Hiei has a secret wife,” Kurama relented, "But I doubt it...who could put up with him?"

Kuwabara snorted, "Stop, stop, stop! Continue explaining or we'll never go through this!"

Kurama grinned, quieting down his laughter as he continued, "Another thing that's different between mating and human marriage is the restrictions. I noticed that in the human realm you don't allow same sex marriage in some countries...most countries actually. Humans even use terms such as gay, lesbian, or bisexual...and those are words that don't really exit in the demon realm..."

Kuwabara titled his head confused, "You don't have those terms?"

"No...a demon loves who they wish or what they wish. If your great love is to plant seeds and tend to a garden then so be it. If your great love is a man one day, or a woman the next, then so be it. We are as we are, and we can be attracted to whomever we please."

Kuwabara squinted, a tad confused, "So...you're attracted to everybody?"

Kurama took a steady breath and patiently explained, "No not everybody. Kuwabara you're attracted to Yukina yes? So we could say, you like girls. But that doesn't mean you are attracted to all girls. You can have female friends correct?"

Kuwabara nodded in agreement.

"Well," Kurama continued, "It's the same for demons. I can have many friends in the demon realm, but if one day I date a man it doesn't mean i'm looking to all men as potential mates. It just means in that man I found my heart. His heart called to me as any lover's would. But it doesn't mean I just would only find romance with men. No, i'm a demon and I don't see any difference between male and female, so lets say me and this man broke up. Years down the road I could find my heart beating towards a woman, and I might give my love to her. Do you understand?"

"...So all demon's are...bisexual?" Kuwabara asked, still fumbling to understand what was being explained to him.

Kurama snorted, "No...well yes...we don't...demons don't really use labels. It's just how we are."

They sat in silence for a long while, Kurama leaned in close and studying Kuwabara's face to see if the larger warrior understood. Finally Kuwabara sighed and nodded his head, a slow dawning of understanding washing over his face.

"It does...I'm still a little confused! But I think I get it. Demons can be with who they like, mate with who ever they wish and not be judged for it, or be told they can't be together because they are the same sex...And you don't use words such as straight, gay...etc to separate yourselves right? As you say, this is just how demons are?" 

Kurama threw his arms around Kuwabara in a strong hug, "Yes, yes that's it! You got it Kuwabara!"

Kuwabara fumbled in the hug, but eventually recovered and put Kurama's back and the top of his head, laughing at Kurama's happiness.

"Well I can be made to understand some things! I'm not a great fool! I'm Kazuma Kuwabara! Mighty warrior and fast learner!" Kuwabara boasted with pride

Kurama laughed, and released Kuwabara from his hug, and the two sat comfortably for a time.

"Well...anything else about mating, or do you care to explain demon marriage now?" Kuwabara asked.

Kurama cleared his throat and laced his hands together. Twiddling his thumbs Kurama added, “Well there is a little more about mating that I can explain. Mating for demons isn’t always about love as I mentioned before...often times it's not. There is most often political mating…mating for the sake of expanding territory, merging clans…things like that. Demons can find love, and choose to mate for that reason, but it's just not always so."

Kurama paused, "Marraige for demons...well I'm afraid it gets a bit more complicated."

Kuwabara readjusted his position, folding his legs more comfortably. Playing the part of an active audience, Kuwabara waited for Kurama to continue.

Kurama smiled and began, "Marriage for demons...it's a bit more sacred...and demons can also get married…to multiple people.“

Kuwabara’s brows raised, and Kurama continued, "When you marry in the makai, you're not looking for a mate...you are declaring you found a soulmate-but not someone you have to be with romantically!" Kurama sighed brow furrowing as he tried to work through how he would word this complicated explanation.

Kurama chewed on his lower lip, and took a great breath when he felt he found the words to begin again, "You can of course do romantic acts in a marriage...but often a marriage in demon world is done more our out a familial sense. To enter the act of marriage...its an acknowledgment of your deep understanding with someone...or multiple someones. Whether it be with one person or a group, to be wed in marriage in demon world is a way of saying, ‘I never want to part from these people. They are the closest things to me in my life, and I will love them above all else. Above a woman, or man, above money, or my own life.’ Something…like that."

"Marriage is a deeply intimate act and can be treated differently by the demons who partake in the act. Demons who partake in marriage can treat each other as deep friends, or love another as siblings, or even love each other as true lovers do! It must sound complicated, but it is indeed complicated. Marriage is...it is the expression of the deepest of bonds for demons, and can be expressed in so many ways. Marriage is vastly more important than mating in the demon realm...marriage is always respected with a sort of reverence when it takes place. With marriage there is always a brand crafted by the pair or group who wish to partake in this act..." Kurama took in a deep breath, and he sighed as he thought of one of Makai's more sacred and honored traditions.

An odd look of longing and maybe regret passed over Kurama's eyes, that didn't go unnoticed by Kuwabara.

"Kurama?" Kuwabara asked, voice soft.

Kurama shook his head, and with a peaceful voice said, "Marriage for demons...it's the highest way of expressing love, be it romantic or platonic...it's a powerful tradition in demon world.”

Kuwabara was looking at Kurama very seriously, “So…demons sometimes just marry their closest buddies…because they’re that important to them?”

"Yes…it’s still considered a very intimate act and not one to be taken lightly! Not everyone just goes around and-”

“How do I get you, Hiei, and Urameshi to marry me?”

Kurama’s mouth clamped shut, and his eyes focused on Kuwabara. Kuwabara looked shocked to have asked his last question, but to his credit he was blushing only a little,  and he had a very serious look on his face as he waited for an answer. When Kurama continued to stare at Kuwabara, Kuwabara cleared his throat.

“…You guys are very important to me. And I wouldn’t take our bonds lightly…I’m not a demon. But…I would…marry you guys…in that…demon sense…so…how do I ask for you three to…um…be with me…” Kuwabara’s words ended in an embarrassed mumble.

His face looked unsure, and he ran a nervous hand over his hair, "It's just...when all of you were away my heart was very heavy. I persevered but my thoughts were always with you three. And now I get to see you, and even Hiei...but Yusuke is still not here," Kuwabara's words were so heavy as he spoke Yusuke's first name.

The aching heaviness that he spoke Yusuke's name made Kurama flinch, and Kurama reached out and placed his hand on Kurama's in instinct.

"And...maybe this is ridiculous, but the feelings I have for you three...it goes beyond anything I've ever felt with anyone. I would gladly take a brand that meant we were all deeply connected. And I would wear it with pride!"

Kurama smiled, and he squeezed Kuwabara's hand tight, “Well…to propose a marriage you just ask. We’ll have to explain it to Yusuke…but you would just ask like you did now…and we’d answer.”

Kuwabara nodded, his face now glowing red, embarrassed by his sudden urge to express how important his friends were to him.

“And my answer is yes.”

End

Chapter Text

After a storm there is normally a calm-even if there are signs of wreckage left over.

It was the same after a battle. Emotional or physical, when all was said and done, along with the damage…there was always a calm. Whether it was the peace in the area, or the the silence within your body-after everything was done…

It was always so quiet.

Yusuke decided this time was no different. The stillness in the air...the stillness in his soul was just another typical reaction to a “storm,” passing. In time the quiet would move on, and the damage repaired. And then everything would go back to normal. It would be alright soon.

Yusuke glanced down at  the urn in his hands. 

“Well buddy…we knew this was…we…” Yusuke sighed and closed his eyes. His throat felt tight, and his chest ached. Yusuke sniffed, and tried to clear his throat, “You always said this day was coming…I just didn’t think…it’d come so soon…”

Yusuke tucked the urn closer to him, and looked away from the small precious cargo, “C'mon Kuwabara…things….” Yusuke squeezed the container tighter to him. “…things always get better…it…”

“It will take some time…” Kurama’s voice startled Yusuke, and he flinched when the red head put an arm around his shoulders. Kurama smiled stiffly at Yusuke, “It will take time…but in the end things will always get better.”

Yusuke nodded, the stillness once again settling in his bones. He glanced to his left sensing Hiei’s silent arrival. Yusuke looked to his friends, letting his eyes rest on what remained of Kuwabara. Kuwabara had lived well over a 100 years while Yusuke, Kurama, and Hiei stood untouched by time. Kuwabara had aged, and changed right before their very eyes. And time kept pressing forward until he was gone. The agony of his loss was a hurricane in Yusuke's mind...but Yusuke took a brave breath.

“…I guess even this too will pass.”

End

Chapter Text

"Come now...enjoy the dinner! Enjoy the wine...it's red and quite robust...made in a human country called Spain!" A silken voice droned.

The owner of the voice was a tall and slender demon who had proclaimed his name to be Saris. Though his form resembled that of a human, there was something oddly elongated about his body. His eyes were more narrowed, but completely filled with a dark sage color, he had virtually no sclera, and even his iris' were hardly visible. His smile was handsome, smug, and directed at a figure sitting opposite of him.

The figure wasn't actually willingly sitting across from Saris, the second figure was tied in chains, and shackled to a chair. Two wider and shorter demons, low level in power and intelligence were trying to force the captured demon to eat and drink along with Saris. Stubbornly the demon in chains stared blankly ahead, his lips clamped shut in a thin line. There was a stain of red wine down the front of his shirt, and eyes dripped with malice and venom. 

"Oh come now...you're not still angry are you?" Saris asked, sighing sadly. "You're as beautiful as a wild rose-"

A growl emitted from deep within the captive's belly and echoed around the room.

"I had to take you!" Saris proclaimed, raising his glass high, "A delicate flower such as you, didn't deserve to be traipsing around with those three...nincompoops you were keeping company with! Yuck! You deserve finer things...and I know the chains must be uncomfortable...they drain you strength the more you struggle...but soon my darling you won't need those chains."

The growl was getting louder-quite impressive being as the bound demon's lips still remained firmly clamped shut.

"For I can sense you'll come to love me! I can see we're going to get along! I can feel it!" Saris sighed dreamily, "Only a beauty as yourself could appreciate someone like me...Oh Hiei don't you think so?"

If glares could kill, Hiei would have brought down Saris' and all of his minions. The world would have been set on fire, the water would have turned to blood, and the air to cyanide. Hiei could have ended the world with his glare-but Saris only found it charming.

This was not a good day for Hiei. To be captured was one thing, but to be chained and bound and then forced on this...this date...this was real torture! A nasty angry voice couldn't help but whisper that this kidnapping situation he was in seemed to be more of a problem he'd expect to happen to Kurama. And if this Saris bastard didn't stop comparing him to a delicate flower, while these two clumsy oafs spilled wine all down his tunic-Hiei was going to explode. Or bite off his tongue so that he might die and be away from this terrible and ridiculous scene.

As Hiei was thinking things couldn't possibly get worse, the door was kicked down.

Arriving-just in time to hear Saris begin to read off a love balled he'd written to Hiei-were Kurama, Yusuke, and Kuwabara. To Hiei's horror, Mukuro was at the front leading the charge, eye expression subtle-but within her one shining blue eye was a slow boiling rage.

However, when the team took in the view before them, each member of the rescue team reacted differently. Yusuke was howling in laughter, and fell hard on the ground, clutching both his sides. Kurama's eyes darted from Yusuke to Hiei, and the red head looked torn between wishing to join in or scold Yusuke to stop. Kuwabara was actually looking at Hiei with legitimate pity-and that was worse than any other possible reaction any of them could have had. Mukuro's eyebrow was delicately arched up, and her eye shone in delight as she cleared her throat, "Hiei...I see you are in more danger then we first speculated."

"This is BULLSHIT!" Hiei finally barked, the first words he'd spoken since his captivity, and then with fierce determination, proceeded to try and bite his tongue off.

Death would be a far better cry than the embarrassment of this day.

End

Chapter Text

With the loss of sight came darkness-but hand in hand with the deep blackness, came silence. 

He had not known that his ears too would be robbed when he lost his sight. 

But his sight was gone and the world fell silent. No one offered him comfort, no one cared that he was so wronged…they were all relieved. 

Relieved that the fool could not cause anymore trouble that would lead to the deaths of more allies.

His sight hat made him blind to he fellow who he made suffer, and though her would never admit it…there was shame and guilt over his past self.

In this silence Yomi found himself…or the self he wanted to be. A man of quiet rage, and calculated thought. Fine. They couldn’t take him as he was…but now they would take him for what he would become. And he would become strong, and build himself up to be a great lord.

Unlike the darkness, the silence didn’t last. As he strived for his goals, sound once again began to flood his dark world. And when the silence was broken, Yomi planned to hear how his change would bring him to greatness. 

He was surprised to learn that the sound of Shura’s laugh was his greatest achievement.

End

Chapter Text

Kuwabara paused as a fork in the road on his morning jogging routine considering which path to take.

He had taken up jogging since his friends left for the Makai. Keeping his schedule full and being fully distracted kept Kuwabara away from the itching thought of loneliness. He knew that he'd been overworking himself, and that if his friends could see him now he'd probably get scolded-or a least a punch to the face from Yusuke. Kuwabara wasn't trying to over extend himself, but as long as he was busy he could forget that his friends were gone, and that he was alone pining for them.

Looking to his left he could head into town and pop into Keiko's family restaurant, where he'd be able to talk to Keiko for a bit. The two had become close since Yusuke's departure, something Kuwabara was grateful for. He'd always felt a little awkward around Keiko, though he could never name why...but as the two shared in the commissary of missing Yusuke a strong bond began to form between the two.

On the right he could jog up to Genkai's shrine, and check up on Yukina, and maybe see Genkai if she wasn't busy. In the early mornings Genkai was normally doing some training of her own and was often absent if Kuwabara made a morning visit at the shrine. Yukina had seemed distant since their date from over a month ago, and Kuwabara often wondered if he'd done something wrong. He'd asked her again on more dates, but she had given many polite and plausible reasons why she could not go. But still...had Kuwabara messed up on the date in some way? She would tell him if he'd screwed up right?

Rubbing the back of his neck, he shook off his feelings of doubt and jogged in the direction of Genkai's shrine. 

If he had indeed done something to upset Yukina he needed to go talk to her, and clear the air.

Easily jogging up the steps two or three steps at a time, Kuwabara reached the shrine in record time. He paused a moment to pull his leg up and stretch out his tightened hamstrings. After a moment of stretching, and then a squat or two, Kuwabara felt loosened up enough to begin a slow walk towards Genkai's shrine. Nerves a little on end, Kuwabara marched up the porch and reached for Genkai's sliding door. It was slightly open which was normally a sign that you were welcome to come in without knocking.

His hands had curled around the door when he was surprised to hear a familiar voice.

"We should do it today," the somber tone belonged to his sister.

"I feel terrible! We put this off too long...just like Keiko said. I should have told him as soon as I realized!" Yukina's voice trembled as she spoke.

'What's my sister doing here? Why is Yukina upset?' Kuwabara thought, frozen to the spot his stomach clenching in concern. 

"...We both made a mistake. You can't take all the blame. It will be hard but...Kazuma will understand," Shizuru's voice was low and reassuring. 

Kuwabara heard a wet sniffle from Yukina, and the sound of shifting. Shizuru must be comforting Yukina. What did they have to be upset about? Why was Shizuru at the shrine? What did he need to understand?

His senses were on fire and trying to warn him of impending danger. His limbs grew cold, and his finger tips tingled. A cold hard pit in his stomach lurched, and Kuwabara's mind tried to signal Kuwabara to go no further-to not open the door. But he slid the door open and his eyes widened at the sight he saw.

Shizuru and Yukina were sitting close to one another, arms gently enclosed around another. Shizuru cradled Yukina's face and neck gently in her hands, as their faces tilted together and met in a more than chaste kiss. This kiss was one of well practiced lovers, not shy or gentle, but passionate and fierce.  There was no mistaking what he was seeing, no denying that this was two lovers sharing a moment.

Kuwabara must have made a noise, because withing the span of breath, Yukina and Shizuru were breaking apart and looking at Kuwabara with wide shocked eyes. 

Time stood still under their stares, and everything was beginning to fall into place. Yukina's distance...his sisters recent odd behavior...the conversation he'd just heard...

He had never had a chance to be with Yukina. His dream of taking the small ice maiden's hand in his own and sharing what life he had to offer her was just that-a dream. A fool's dream! He closed his eyes trying to block out the distraught faces of his sister and Yukina.

"Kazuma!"

"Kazuma! Wait-"

Kuwabara turned away, feeling sick. He was an idiot! A fool! Numbskull Kuwabara! Just like normal-the idiot who couldn't understand even the easiest of situations! He could laugh at his own idiocy if he had the strength to.

"Kazuma! I-we didn't mean-this wasn't supposed to happen!'

"Kazuma we made a mistake! We meant to tell you! I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry! This wasn't done to hurt your...we just...we love each other...and we-"

Kuwabara shook his head, a cold sweat chilling his body. He slammed his fist into the door frame to quiet the voices of his sister and Yukina, and to quiet his slowly building anger and betrayel. He couldn't take this! He needed...he needed...

Kuwabara broke out into a dead run. He had no destination-but anywhere but here would do. He fell down the shrine steps a couple times, and pain shot through his ankle, to his hip, and up his spine. He ignored it and pressed on even as his muscles warned him of the danger he was putting his body in. He was almost home, when he veered away off in a different direction. He couldn't go home. Had Yukina been there with Shizuru? While he was studying had the two been making out, and laughing at his unrequited feelings? 

No that's not fair, they wouldn't laugh at him! This couldn't have been done with any real intention to hurt him. My sister and Yukina aren't like that!

Oh sure! Oh sure! Tell yourself that, but what did you just see with your own eyes!

I need to talk to them...to let them explain.

You're an idiot. You know what you saw what is there to explain.

Yukina wasn't mine. I had no claim to her. We'd gone on one date-

She asked you to kiss her.

ONE DATE. One date didn't mean they were in love...it didn't make them lovers. It didn't mean they'd made promises to one another.

She should have rejected you. Your sister should have told you what was going on. They should have said what was happening.

I'm a fool...

BAM!

Kuwabara had taken the corner sharply and stepped into the road. His ankle had turned under him as he missed the curb, and he fell hard into the street. He rolled violently onto the road, his head knocking hard on the ground, and his skin burning as he slid on the pavement. He felt three of his fingers break, and the pain in his left knee, and back creaked and groaned as his body took the hard blow. A car stopped just short of running him down, and Kuwabara's rough fall halted as he slammed into the car's fender, bending the metal as his bulking form slammed into the car. Screams had gone into the air as onlookers took in the scene before them, and for a moment Kuwabara lay painfully on the ground only able to hear the commotion that was happening around him.

He was an idiot...what had made him think he could win over the beautiful and kind Yukina?

"Kuwabara!"

A soft hand was on his shoulder, and then he was being turned. His back protested, but soon he was turned, and blinking up into terrified brown eyes. Before him was Keiko's face, her eyes wide and filled with tears. On instinct he had been running towards Keiko's restaurant and home. 

"We've called 911 Kuwabara! I'll call Shizuru-"

"No please..."  Kuwabara whispered, tears springing to his eyes, or had they always been there?

"Please," Kwuabara begged, "My sister and Yukina...I..."

Keiko's eyes widened, and glistened as angry tears filled her face. Kuwabara vaguely remembered Keiko had been mentioned in the conversation he'd overheard. Anger threatened to overtake him, but as quick as it tried to sweep through him, it was gone. 

Choking Kuwabara whispered, "You knew-"

"I found out a few days ago. I told them they had a week to tell you-"

"I walked in on them. They were working up the courage to tell me...but I saw-"

"I should have told you as soon as I found out. Oh Kuwabara! I'm sorry, i'm so sorry!"

Kuwabara put his hand to his eyes, and took in a harsh shaking breath. Under the guise of his injuries, Kuwabara felt he was free to weep. Keiko's soft hands never left him, and she leaned close whispering words of comfort as she stroked his forehead, and ran fingers through his messy hair.

The warrior of love wept under her gentle touch, mourning the loss of his first love and broken heart.

End

 

Chapter Text

The first time he’d laid his eyes on her, a joy he had never known or ever thought to experience, filled him up and overflowed onto his face.

At the sight of her, he had his first smile.

He was content with just seeing her from afar. He never thought he’d see her up close, or even speak with her.

When years later, he found himself in close proximity of his happiness, he had to repress all the feelings she brought him. All the happiness, all the joy...the heartache...He squashed it deep down inside where no one, most of all his sister, could not see.

Yukina brought him happiness and the feeling of home. But he’d be damned if he let her know that.

After all, you never cast a flower under a shadow.

End

Chapter Text

Home was a heartbeat.

Home…was three separate heartbeats.

There had been a time when home was a place to lay your head at at night, surrounded by belongings, and cuddled next to a cat. Sometime between fourteen, abrupt responsibility, and adulthood, things stopped mattering.  And all that mattered was the next breaths of those around you.

They hadn’t been the people he expected to find a home in, not the one he’d known since kindergarten, or the the ones that who had always been there or been kind. They hadn’t even been a pretty girl who he could make a family with either. 

Who could have guessed, “home,” would be in the three guys who fate had sort of forced at him? He wouldn’t have…

Kuwabara was smacked on the back of his head, and he grunted with a snort all his thoughts coming to a halt. Rubbing the aching spot on his head he glanced over at Yusuke, who was grinning cheekily.

Kuwabara had to put an end to that…

“Did ya have to jump up to smack me in the head shorty?” Kuwabara snipped, smirking at Yusuke’s immediate bratty pout.

“Ah shut up. Not all of us can be freaky giants!” Yusuke muttered, and then glanced back at Kuwabara tilting his head and giving Kuwabara a suspicious look, “You alright?" 

Kuwabara smiled, "Just…thinking about Kurama, Hiei…an’ you…”

Yusuke frowned, “…Why?”

Kuwabara shrugged and grinned wider, “Heh no reason man. It's nothing. Nothing.”

They were everything.

 

End

Chapter Text

Desire was not a normal occurrence for Hiei. He was not someone to feel his stomach flutter, his throat close, or his loins tighten and ache for release. Desire came easy for others he noted...Yusuke and Kuwabara for instance seemed to be the type to give into the fluttering confusing emotion. And then on the other hand, if Kurama ever felt desire, he kept it to himself under a private quite smile. It seemed desire affected everyone, weak or strong, in some way. By all means, Hiei did not think desire was any sort of weakness...

He just never felt it. This stirring of emotion that drove people on wasn’t part of him. The closest feeling he had towards desire was the protective flash of emotion that swelled him up any time Yukina was involved. He assumed that the desire to keep his sister protected and safe, may be the only form of desire he’d ever know.

And that was fine for him.

However, when Hiei felt desire, and he had felt it...it had not been in a way he thought desire might come. It wasn’t at the sight of a perfectly dressed female, or a scantily clad male. No sexual words were exchanged, nor were there any suggestive, heated touches. Desire had awakened in Hiei in the darkness of Mukruo’s room, with his hands admiring the beauty of her skin. 

The pair of them had laid side by side, their nude bodies pressed together, Hiei’s hand gently tracing trails along Muruko’s skin. 

They hadn’t said a word to each other since she’d invited him to her room. 

There had been no special lead up to this moment. 

Mukuro had simply invited him in her room, and Hiei had followed.

Once inside her room, she casually removed her clothes and Hiei followed suit, and the two then climbed into bed with another.

As they lay next to each other, an instinct told Hiei to drape an arm around her, and he did so with ease. His arm fit around Muruko’s waist, and cautiously he touched the burned contours of her skin.

In the dark he couldn’t see her expression, but he could see her eyes shining up at him through the dark. 

His hand traced her imperfect skin, and slowly his hand moved upwards to touch her face. With tender, curious care, Hiei’s fingers rest along her jawbone, his palm pressed gently to her throat as he held her face. Her skin was smooth until it transitioned into the burn, but the scarred skin wasn’t unpleasant, it was just skin after all. Just another part of her. And it was cool, and molded against his hand.

Mukuro was the one to close the distance between them.

She leaned up and kissed him, and the flame that was desire ignited within Hiei.

When she broke away his feelings still burned, and his mouth opened in shock at the feeling. It was new and different...and completely overwhelming. 

Leaning forward he kissed her forehead, his grip tightening around her throat and cheek. He pulled away, and embraced the woman fully. For now he could not speak, so he dared not go any further.

Mukuro did not press him to go further either. 

She instead seemed to relax further and curled closer against Hiei’s protective embrace. Hiei felt that both of them in this heated silence, had become more vulnerable...and his throat tightened at the thought of how much he was giving to this woman even if neither of them had any words to say.

He would enjoy this new emotion, and cherish the embrace, and if this night was all he had, then so be it.

They slept soundly that night, and even late into the day. It was probably the best sleep Hiei had ever had. When he awoke the desire from the night before had left him, but was not forgotten. They dressed in silence and Hiei wondered if the new feeling would return.

Mukuro placed her hand on Hiei’s shoulder and squeezed. Their eyes met, and she tilted her head into a subtle nod, smiling gratefully at Hiei.

Desire returned, and Hiei smiled.

End

Chapter Text

"What's this?" 

Kurama jumped, and crushed a small paperback book to his chest as Yusuke's voice interrupted his chain of thought.

"Oh...Yusuke...you startled me," Kurama wheezed, voice tense.

"I can tell...now..." Yusuke leaned forward, grinning wide as his eyes remained glued to Kurama's book, "what's that there?"

Kurama felt as if all the liquid in his mouth dried up. Nervously, he licked his lips and opened his mouth, trying to answer. Nothing came out, so he licked his lips again, and titled his head to the side. 

"A...book?" he offered in a quizzical tone.

"A regular book?" Yusuke asked innocently.

"...Yeeesss?"

"No," Yusuke shook his head, "No...not with a title like: His Balls are as Strong as Love."

Kurama paled.

"Kurama...." Yusuke cooed reaching out for Kurama's book, "What are you reading...and why?"

Kurama's grip tightened on the book and he cringed, unable to come up with an answer.

"Kurama...let me see the book."

"Yusuke...no."

"Lemme see it!"

"NO!"

"I've already caught you with the book! Let me see it!"

"NO!"

"I wanna read a part of it! LEMME HAVE IT!"

Kurama screeched rather uncharacteristically, his voice high-pitched with fright as Yusuke tackled the fox, determined to wrestle the book from Kurama's hands. The two young men fell hard to the floor as Yusuke tried using all his force to take the book away from Kurama. Kurama tried, but it was a feeble attempt as soon the cheap paperback was ripped from his hands. Yusuke sat firmly on his taller friend, using one hand to push Kurama's face in the floor, while the other held Kurama's book in view.

" '...With deft hands Dong Jii's hands flew to trace circles on Neil Ensuck's chest-' " Yusuke stopped his reading, and raised an eyebrow, "Neil...Ensuck...Kneel and suck? KURAMA! Oh my God! You're reading trash!'

"YUSUKE LET ME UP AND GIVE THE BOOK BACK!"

"NEVER!" Yusuke cackled eyes watering with his amusement, "I gotta find out how hot and heavy Dong and Neil get!" Yusuke cleared his throat, and began again, " '...With deft hands Dong Jii's hands flew to trace circles on Neil Ensuck's chest. Their eyes were interlocked as they pressed against each other, cocks hard with lust and want.

'Come on baby,' whispered Dong as he caressed Neil Ensuck's sizable package, 'Let me wrap my luscious licks around your long hot meat pole!' "

Kurama screamed like a banshee as Yusuke burst out laughing flipping through the book for more horrible tid-bits to read aloud. Kurama would never be able to live this down. 

He could only close his eyes and wince and Yusuke read another quote, "OH IT GETS BETTER! Kurama! KURAMA! Listen to Neil Ensuck on page 134, " 'Dong...I'm going to suck your dong like a vacuum!' "

Kurama let out a depressed sigh, and let his head fall into his chest. This was not a good day.

End

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Kuwabara's eyes fluttered open with a start. Before his senses had completely come back to him, Kuwabara was aware of a warmth wrapped around him. Hands were pressed gently against his chest, and his back was pressed to a firm stomach. Hot breath washed over his ear, and someone shushed him gently. Kuwabara momentarily struggled, but the soothing voice and gentle hands coaxed him into relaxation.

"Shh...shhh...don't move too much Kuwabara..." Yusuke's voice cut through the bleariness like a knife.

"Uram...Urameshi?" Kuwabara rasped, surprised by the dry harsh tone of his own voice.

Yusuke squeezed him, pressing further into Kuwabara, "You damn near killed yourself today! Just lay back...be still."

Yusuke's breath was hot on his neck, and his voice was soft in Kuwabara's ear. Kuwabara couldn't resist the shudder that ran up his spine.

'Not this again,' Kuwabara thought, closing his eyes with a frown.

"Are you in much pain? Kurama applied some...weird plant stuff to you to help..."

"No...no...I don't really feel any pain..." Kuwabara whispered, quieting Yusuke's concerned, rushed words, "I feel sick...and tired...thirsty..."

"I've got water! Kurama and Hiei went to go gather supplies for a stretcher, more water...stuff like that!" Yusuke's voice was relieved, tension bleeding out of every word.

One arm released Kuwabara and the larger man was aware of fumbling to his left. Yusuke managed to find what he was looking for, and pressed a canteen to Kuwabara's lips. Kuwabara closed his mouth around the bottle and gratefully drank, Yusuke carefully controlling how fast Kuwabara drank. Only when the canteen was emptied did Kuwabara feel more like himself.

"What happened...I really can't remember..." Kuwabara asked, his voice cracking, just like it used to when he was a teen.

"We're in the Makai...remember? Kidnapped psychics?" Yusuke gently prodded, scooting closer to fully envelop Kuwabara in his embrace. His cheek was pressed to Kuwabara's and the larger man had to grit his teeth as his stomach flopped and his heart fluttered.

'Stop, stop! This is your best friend. You're not...you can't feel this way! Stop!' Kuwabara scolded his down, trying to squash down the heat that was threatening to explode into his cheeks.

"Kidnapped...yes. Yes...a demon was kidnapping psychics...for...for...?" Kuwabara struggled.

He felt Yusuke shrug at his back, "For end of the world doomsday stuff...you know. Typical bullshit. We got here...and they'd created this machine that was draining psychics of their spiritual power and life force..."

"And they were using it...using it like a drill!" Kuwabara said, eyes opening fully as his memories began to come back to him.

Koenma had once again turned to Yusuke and his friends with the fate of the world type of mission. This one had felt more dire as Kuwabara himself was once again a target, as well as their old friends, like Mitarai, and even En, Ryo, and Kai who had once been enslaved to that little troll Dr. Ichigaki. After heading into the Makai, they'd managed to find the team of demons responsible for the kidnappings, already on the cusp of launching their weapon. It was an odd drill-like machine that, when plunged into the ground of the Makai, would super charge the demons in the area, leading to chaos, madness, and the furthering of more S-class demons.

The only way to stop the machine was to damage and overwhelm it. Damaging the machine had been easy; overwhelming it, not so much. Their enemy had proven to be very strong and, with his plans being threatened, had put up more of a fight than they'd expected. Kuwabara remembered the demon wrapping his hands around Yusuke's throat -- and Kuwabara saw red. He had grabbed a hold of the faltering machine and called out to the enemy. The demon had shrieked in outrage, but Kuwabara poured all his psychic energy into the machine, as well as half his life force.

There was an intense orange light, and Kuwabara remembered seeing Yusuke's horrified face, and then...

"..Did...did the machine blow up?" Kuwabara asked.

Yusuke snorted, "And then some! If you haven't noticed we're in the middle of a huge ass crater!"

Kuwabara blinked, then swiveled his head to finally take in his surroundings.

Yusuke was not exaggerating; they had to be in the middle of a football sized crater.

"How did I survive?" Kuwabara whispered, truly amazed that he was still breathing.

"The other psychics. Their strength came back after we rescued them and they threw shields around us at the nick of time...they poured their strength into you to keep you alive," Yusuke's voice was tight and full of emotion. He squeezed Kuwabara tightly, and Kuwabara squeezed his eyes shut as his heart threatened to burst from his chest.

"But they managed it...Hiei's got them now...he's leading them somewhere safe where Koenma will have a team of take them home. Kurama's treated most of your wounds...but we need to make you a stretcher...you really need to lay as flat as you can until we get you back. God you almost really bit it this time man!" Yusuke whispered, pressing his face into Kuwabara's neck.

Kuwabara's heart thrummed on. 'Stop it! He's your best friend! Don't...don't feel this way.'

"But we did it!...We did it Urameshi! Day is saved."

Yusuke snorted, "I just get a little tired of it being us who almost always pay the ultimate price! I don't want you..." Yusuke's voice trailed off, and he gripped Kuwabara harder.

'He has Keiko. You...you like Yukina. You like girls. You don't...I don't...' Kuwabara's mind was a muddled mess, as his body and heart ached to press into Yusuke's warmth.

"Your life is worth way more to me than anything," Yusuke muttered quietly.

 

 

                                                                                              

Art by Dullspoon on Tumblr, AKA  Crowfeathr on twitter.

 

 

Kuwabara's throat tightened, and he relaxed into Yusuke's arms. He was fucked. Kuwabara had been denying it for a long time now... longer then he'd care to admit.. but he was beginning to... no. No. He had always loved Yusuke Urameshi.

"I love you man," Yusuke muttered, "You're my best friend."

Kuwabara kept his eyes close, "I love you too Urameshi," Kuwabara whispered, the words feeling like a noose around his neck.

'You just don't know...how much.'

End

Chapter Text

"Okay...define carcinogenic."

"Ugghh...carc...carc.....uhhhh....mmmm...."

"Remember the clues Kazuma..."

"Carcinogenic. Has gene in it. Has a 'C...' OH! OH! Having the potential to cause cancer!"

"Yes good! Next, blockade."

"Pff Easy! Blocking aid! When you seal off a place so goods or people can't pass!"

"Good, you're remembering the clues, but don't get cocky! This one should be easy: Clairvoyant."

"Me."

"Kuwabara."

"What? It's me."

"I'm sure your teachers won't like you putting that on the test."

"Clairvoyant, or a person who claims to have supernatural abilities. They claim they can see the future and shit."

"Don't put, 'and shit,' on your test sheet."

"Kurama! I won't!"

"Okay, now Purloin."

"..."

"...Well...?"

"I don't remember this one."

"Remember the clues I gave you?"

"No. Not at all."

"Purr...cats do this...and your cat Ekichi....likes to...."

"...Give me cuddles?"

Kurama laughed, reaching out and patting Kuwabara's arm, "No, no...remember this was the obscure one."

Kuwabara frowned trying to remember the clues Kurama taught him to help him remember the definition of the word 'purloin'. Kuwabara had an English test coming up -- a big one -- and about 50 of the questions were vocabulary. Kuwabara had been struggling with the memorization until Kurama had suggested developing clues within the words to help him remember the definitions. It worked for the most part, but there were one or two words that were hard to give clues for.

"Come on Kuwabara," Kurama gently whispered, "Purloin. Puuuurrrrr. Loin. What did we say that Eikichi likes to do?"

Kuwabara frowned, red color flushing into his cheeks and ears as he grew increasingly more frustrated. Kuwabara sighed disparagingly, "I'm stupid."

Kurama frowned and took both of Kuwabara's large hands in his own. "You are not stupid!"

"I... I just... this stuff should be easy... and it's just not... for me..." Kuwabara's flush darkened and he looked down at his hands, "I mean... everyone in class just breezes through... and it's just such a struggle for me. School has always been a struggle. I'm just... just-"

"Don't you dare put yourself down!" Kurama scolded, "Shh! Your merits may not lie in studying Kazuma, but you try! You try awfully hard in everything you do. Your tenacity and your willingness to get up over and over again... Kuwabara, they're very admirable traits. Who cares if you have trouble studying!? It doesn't make you stupid! You are a noble, kind, wonderful human being Kuwabara... don't sell yourself short!"

As Kurama spoke he leaned in closer to Kuwabara, and gently pressed his forehead against the taller man's in comfort. Kuwabara hardly ever lacked confidence, but when it came to school, Kuwabara really seemed to struggle with doubt and fear. Kurama was not used to seeing his tall, cheerful, and sometimes over-confident, friend tear himself up over his academic struggles. It made Kuwabara seem vulnerable and sad, and Kurama hated seeing that desperate look in his friend's eyes.

Stroking his fingers over Kuwabara's knuckles, Kurama tried to meet Kuwabara's eyes, but Kuwabara was looking down at his hands, his face burning.

"I just... you've helped me so much Kurama!" Kuwabara muttered, "I want to get a really good grade, because you've helped me study and I couldn't have done this without you.. yeah I've been working hard, but you've really been the one helping me get through all this. I... I want to make you proud and get this test right!"

Kuwabara finally looked at Kurama, and Kurama felt a smile blossom over his face, "Kuwabara, you don't need to make high grades in order to impress me or make me proud..." Kurama trailed off unsure of how to express the overwhelming swelling of emotions that was within him. He squeezed Kuwabara's hand wanting to say so much. That Kuwabara already made him proud. That he was touched Kuwabara was working so hard to prove himself. That he was honored to be Kuwabara's friend.

Kuwabara just didn't realize how much he gave back in return.

There was a moment of stillness and a bold idea flooded to Kurama. Quickly, before he lost the confidence, Kurama whispered, "Purloin, Kuwabara. I'm going to purloin a kiss from you."

Kuwabara looked confused for a moment, and then Kurama pressed his lips tenderly against Kuwabara's. Kuwabara stiffened briefly, clearly shocked by the unexpected kiss. But, in a few seconds, Kuwabara was leaning forward into the gentle press, clearly not disliking the surprising gesture. Kurama felt Kuwabara's mouth tremble beneath his own; Kuwabara was inexperienced. Something older and wicked in Kurama preened at this thought, and he brought a hand to Kuwabara's neck as he pulled the larger man into a firmer kiss.

'Good...good...' Kurama thought as he guided Kuwabara through what was beginning to be a passionate kiss.

Nipping the corner of Kuwabara's mouth, the larger man flinched, his lips parting and giving Kurama an opening. The fox took the opening, and swept his tongue over Kuwabara's lips and into Kuwabara's mouth. The kiss lingered, and Kuwabara had moved his hands to Kurama's shoulders, and clung tightly as his nerves were clearly put to the test. Kurama, who was more sure of his desire, cupped Kuwabara by the throat and chin and devoured Kuwabara's mouth until they had to break apart flushed and gasping.

"Purloin..." Kurama gasped, green eyes glittering mischievously, "to steal..."

Kuwabara's mouth hung open, his eyes wide, and his face ruby red. It took a moment, but he managed to close his mouth, and with a nervous chuckled whispered, "I think I'll remember it now..."

Kurama smiled his hands going back to Kuwabara's. Kuwabara gave the fox's hands a welcoming squeeze, and the two sat silently before each other, basking in the awe of what had just happened.

Finally, Kuwabara asked, "What were the original clues for purloin?"

Kurama chuckled, "Originally we'd come up with 'Purr'-loin. Eikichi purrs. And she likes to steal your underwear."

There was a beat, and then the two burst into loud laughter, hands still firmly clasped.

End.

Chapter Text

Asa Takome had been a bartender her whole life. Hell, according to her father and mother she was conceived and born in a bar. Alcohol was in her blood, and alcohol was her business. Blood too on occasion thanks to the bar fights that sometimes broke out. When demon world popped up, or was revealed, or whatever it was-she didn't bat an eye. Demons roaming around on earth?

That just meant more customers!

Though they did bring their own unique problems.

Like, 'Waaa i'll never be able to bench press 10,000 lbs like that Urameshi guy,' or, 'Waaa my sister now knows i'm her brother!'

Weird problems.

For instance, the guy currently weeping into her best whisky had come in with an odd problem. Something about a guy called Rinky-winky growing up. He was a big guy with a mohawk, loud and boisterous just like any of her regulars. He sometimes came in with a group of demons and some humans. While his friends would be warming up, he would already be roaring drunk, and hitting on every girl in the bar, or anyone that resembled a female. Today however, he came alone, and came somber and in no mood for horseplay.

Asa had done her duty, poured him a drink and asked him to spill his woes.

Boy, was she not expecting this earful.

"Uggghh...My little Rinku! He's growing up...caught him smoochin' some gal! And worse! He's not just smoochin-he's in love! He wants to love wit' this gal! He don't need his ol' Chu no more...my lil Rinky!"

"I'm...sorry to hear that... Is this your...son?" Asa asked as she topped Chu's drink off. 

He took the drink and sloshed it around a bit before knocking the beverage back. She filled his cup again as he sniffled loudly, "No...he's my little buddy. My best friend. My wee lil' Rinky dinky winky...and he's all grown up!! He's gonna move out! And live with this girlfriend of his! Why doesn't he just stick to playin' with his yo-yo's?"

"Yo-yo's?"

"Yeah yo-yo's!" Chu slurred, a happy grin plastering against his stubbled mug, "He's a real good yo-yo...er. yo-yo person...yo. Yo...you yo-"

Asa held up her hand to stop Chu's drunk rambling, "Look...listen here Chu. Just because your little Rinky-"

"Rinku!" Chu growled possessively, "He's my Rinky! Only mine! You can call him Rinku!"

Asa rolled her eyes, but amended, "Rinku. Look, your little Rinku may grow up, but you don't need to be sad. If he's ready to move out, smooching on the ladies...well it sounds like you taught him everything he needed to know. Boys grow up. It's part of life."

Chu nodded, sticking out his lower lip sadly, "But my lil' Rinky...he's been with me so long...I don't know what i'd do if he stopped needing his ol' Chu anymore."

"There you are!!" Came a shout from across the bar.

Asa looked to the door to see a young man. He was maybe in his twenties or so, but then again he could have been a million. It was hard to tell with demons. He had on a backwards hat, with messy brown tufts sticking out from underneath. There were three stars tattooed under his cheek, but there was nothing to give away whether this young man was a demon or human or not.

"You need some identification if you're here to drink!" Asa called as the man approached.

"I'm not here to drink, i'm here to collect my drunk!" The young man sassed, reaching Chu and wrapping his arms around the big man.

"Rinky dinky!" Chu hiccuped, throwing his arms around the smaller man in a tight heavy hug.

'Rinky,' flushed, completely mortified.

"Jesus Chu! Let's go home!"

"Noooooo. You're gonna move out! It's not home no more!"

"Who said I was gonna move out!?" Rinky snapped, looking over at Asa offended.

The bartender held up her hands defensively, "Don't look at me!"

"I heard you! You an' your lady! You wanna move!" Chu whined, crushing Rinku in a hug, "You wanna leave your ol' Chu behinnnndddd!"

"No I don't!! I want to move her in! I want her to live-with us!" Rinku cried as Chu continued to choke the smaller man in a hug.

Chu quit blubbering, and blinked slowly, "You want your lady friend to live with us?"

"Yes!" Rinku sighed, trying to guide the giant out of the bar, "Look...we're partners! You and me! I'm not moving out...you need to be looked after!" 

Chu who had been rooted to his spot by the bar, was now taking slow drunken steps with Rinku, his mood now changed.

"Well...well yeah! Move your girl in! I can...I got LOTS of pictures to show her!"

"Chu stop."

"YEAH! YEAH! No, this-this will be great! I got the one of you in that barrel when you were 63, oh you were so tiny-"

"Chu no-"

"And we can teach her the Rinky Dinky Winky song!"

Rinku gave up on leading Chu, and slugged the large man hard, effectively shoving Chu out of the bar.

Asa sighed, and cleaned up the empty bottles. Chu would be back to pay her tomorrow-he always did. She shook her head. No matter what the customer-demon or human-they always seemed to have some sort of woes to blubber about. 

"Men! A lot could be solved if they just hugged it out once in a while, or said they loved one another," Asa sighed, turning to one of her other patrons.

The drunk blinked at her blearily.

"Am I right?" Asa asked the man.

He responded by throwing up all over the bar top.

End.

 

Chapter Text

Kuwabara had managed to get a job just when it was really looking like he couldn't afford college.

He had been really, really, really, REALLY, lucky!

Kuwabara had finished one semester of college -- despite long hours, despite late nights, despite mischievous evil villains who had no consideration to a student's schedule -- with high marks. But really... classes were expensive! And though he had several nights of saving the world from the nameless bad guy under his belt, it wasn't exactly a paying job. He'd been drowning his woes in a bowl of ramen at a local stand when a well dressed man in a suit clapped a friendly hand on Kuwabara's shoulder.

"Hello there young man! You look a little glum!"

Kuwabara jolted at the sudden intrusion, but politely greeted the stranger, before admitting, "...Just a bit concerned about my college expenses..."

"My, my...that's rough! You know...I'm scouting for a cafe, and you look perfect for the job! It's called Macho cafe, a place where all the workers are well built men like yourself!" the well dressed gent said, before proceeding to explain the job and the clientele very rapidly.

Kuwabara had honestly been unable to keep up. Before he knew it he was agreeing to work at a cafe and was whisked off to fill out paperwork.

Before the week was up he found himself bussing tables and serving customers, all while wearing what he thought was a questionable uniform. The uniform consisted of a crop top that read 'muscle', and a pair or blue jean shorts. It was an odd uniform, but all the other waiters were buff and wore the same thing, and if they could do it so could he. Strangely enough the clients seemed to only consist of men, but they were all very nice and tipped well. Often they showered Kuwabara with compliments on his physique, his youth,  and his determination to go to school. Sometimes customers asked what gym he worked at, what he liked to do, or if he would even be interested in joining them somewhere out to drink.

On more than one occasion a customer had brought him a small present.

Pretty soon Kuwabara had a large collection of cat knick-knacks, and was even allowed to wear a crop top that said 'meow' on occasion. 

 

 

(My art)

 

The money was good and he was able to easily pay for his college courses now. And after several months of his job, Kuwabara invited his friends, Kurama, Hiei, and Yusuke, to eat at the cafe while he was working. 

Looking back now, Kuwabara really regretted that decision.

When his friends arrived he greeted them and sat them at a table with their menus. Hiei was peering disinterested around the restaurant, looking irritable as usual. Yusuke was looking around like a wide-eyed kid in a candy shop. He had several interesting questions such as, "Can we fight the waiters? No? How about after they get off? No?! OKay how about the bartender; that guy looks like he can scrap!"

Kurama on the other hand was bright red and had developed a choking cough.

Kuwabara immediately got him a glass of water.

As Kurama guzzled the water, Hiei pointed out, "That an interesting uniform..."

"I think it's to show off how excellent my abs are. Everyone seems to really like them," Kuwabara said with a shrug.

"It lets them know how tough you are!" Yusuke agreed.

Kurama choked and spit the water out on the table.

"Jesus, Kurama, what's wrong with you?" Yusuke asked, laughing as Kurama floundered to clean himself up.

Kuwabara had waved over another waiter and together the two made short work of getting everything in order, both checking on Kurama's well being. Kurama assured everyone he was alright and the rest of the night seemed to go on without a hitch.

It seemed like everyone was having a great time. Hiei ordered a plate of stir fry and ate loudly, making several noisy satisfied grunts. Yusuke was loudly taking to other customers and winning drinks by arm wrestling buffer men in to submission. He has even earned the nickname, "cub," which Yusuke liked, and proclaimed he was now 'Yusuke "the cub" Urameshi'. Kurama was all smiles, his eyes shining with delight as the night wore on.

As Kuwabara's friends finished their meals, he finished his shift. He bid good-bye to his coworkers and the regular customers and left with his friends, laughing and chatting as they went.

"You walk home in this outfit? Man Kuwabara! That's embarrassing!" Yusuke snickered.

"It's late. No one's gonna care!" Kuwabara said with shrug.

"The food was surprisingly good," Hiei said, carrying a take home box of extra stir fry that had been brought out for him. "I could have done without being called 'spicy cute.' That man wanted to die."

"Ah lay off Hiei, that's just How Hoshi-san is. He's really friendly!" Kuwabara said, tutting at Hiei's attitude.

Kurama who trailed behind his friends, took in a long self-satisfied breath and finally said, "Kuwabara...you realize that was a cafe for men to enjoy other men right?"

Hiei, Kuwabara, and Yusuke turned to stare at Kurama blankly. 

Kurama was grinning, and rocking on his heels, delight clearly scrawled across his face. "That was essentially a gay bar... specifically a place where people can enjoy muscular men..."

As it began to sink in, Yusuke, Hiei and Kurama began howling in laughter. Laughter at Kuwabara having worked there so long and not known, as well as laughing at themselves for not realizing where they were dining at.  Kuwabara's face flushed horribly red and he buried his face in his hands. He could have gone without knowing this tiny tidbit of information.

"Oh God...I think i've been leading guys on!", Kuwabara moaned horribly embarrassed. "I've given out my number and offered to do one-on-one training sessions!"

Kurama, Hiei, and Yusuke collapsed, literally weeping, as they choked on their laughter.

Kuwabara mourned the fact that he'd never be able to live this down.

End.

 

 

Chapter Text

There were some times, especially after a mission, or a tough fight, when Yusuke couldn't get to sleep. Something about being too wound up from adrenaline to wind down. If Yusuke couldn't sleep it meant he would go find Kurama, Hiei, or Kuwabara. Once he'd found someone he'd proceed to be a regular nuisance, either asking a million questions, or trying to get his friends up to do something silly in the wee hours of the morning.

Kuwabara was normally the unfortunate one to be found, as was the case this night.

Yusuke had taken out about two dozen neighborhood thugs, and had decided to end the night by scaling Kuwabara's apartment, and then climbing into Kuwabara's bed room window, before finally jumping on the sleeping man.

"Oh God! Urameshi....whyyy...?" Kuwabara whined as he was jolted violently awake as Yusuke heavily fell on his lap.

"Hey Kuwabara! Awake?" Yusuke asked, hitching his voice an octave higher to be an annoyance.

"Now I am you mother fucker..." Kuwabara growled.

Yusuke gasped, putting a hand to his chest, "Kuwabara! I'm shocked! Language! Come one man! No need for such coarse foul language!!"

"...what do you wannnnt?" Kuwabara whined rubbing his eyes, ignoring as Yusuke began to bounce up and down on his lap.

"I was just thinking...what'ya think Kurama would look like with tits?"

Kuwabara yawned, setting his hands on Yusuke's legs trying to still the hyperactive youth, "Probably not much different man..."

"...You think so?"

"Yeah...I dunno man. I've never thought of him with boobs!"

"Not even once?" Yusuke asked, bouncing a little more on Kuwabara's lap.

"God! Would you settle down!" Kuwabara groaned, too tired to deal with a bouncing Yusuke Urameshi. Seizing the smaller man, he rolled him off his lap and on to the bed, and then settled on top of the shorter man pressing his full weight against him.

"Oh God! Too heavy!" Yusuke gasped as Kuwabara proceeded to let his body go dead weight. Yusuke struggled feebly for a bit before sighing defeated. For a blissful moment, Kuwabara thought Yusuke would actually shut up. But that had been wishful thinking.

"What about Hiei?" Yusuke asked, voice muffled from being squished.

"...Hiei with boobs?" Kuwabara asked, sighing as he accepted his fate. Yusuke wasn't going to settle down any time soon.

"Yeah! Hiei with boobs!" Yusuke chirped, snickering too himself as he began to think about it.

"Can't be worse than me with boobs," Kuwabara muttered sleepily, allowing himself to smile as Yusuke burst into loud laughter.

"No but Kuwabara...think about Hiei in full demon mode! With all those eyes...and then under each eye...is a boob."

Kuwabara's eyes snapped open, and after a moment he asked, "...Do the boobs still have nipples?"

"The eyes are the nipples!" Yusuke whispered.

It was silent for a moment, and then both young men burst out laughing. They only managed to quiet down when Shizuru came storming into Kuwabara's room screaming at the two of them about how late it was, and she needed her beauty sleep. 

Yusuke managed to soothe her temper a bit by saying, "But Shizuru you're already beautiful! Any more beauty sleep and the world couldn't handle such a goddess!"

As Kuwabara joined in on the odd conversation about who would look best with breasts, he decided there were worse things to deal with, other than late night visits from his best friend. Like the thought of a Hiei in a full demon mode, with green skin and boobs all over his body.

That thought alone would haunt many nights to come.

End

 

Chapter Text

At first glance one would assume Kurama was the one who cared for his hair the most. That he was the type to spend countless hours in front of the mirror primping until his hair was perfect. That he'd buy hundred of dollars worth of hair product, and the only a privileged few could touch his hair...

But no-Kurama was not the guilty primper.

It in fact was a tie between Yusuke and Kuwabara.

Sure the two boys had mastered the art of gelling their hair in a speedy fashion-but they would only hurry if they had to. If they had their way, they'd spend hours in front of the mirror making sure ever strand was perfectly in place-or perfectly out of place. if they were the first in the bathrooms in the morning…God help anyone who was stuck behind them. Between the two of them, the two could easily spend up to three hours in the bathroom, swapping tips and arguing over technique. 

The two were so stubborn about their hair, they'd gotten to the point where'd they refuse to do their hair in one another's presence.

If the team was ever staying in a hotel (such as when they fought at the Dark Tournament) it was fight for who got in the bathroom first.

Because no, Yusuke and Kuwabara couldn’t share the bathroom-ohhhh no. The two had to fight, and squabble, and wrestle for the right to be first in the bathroom-first to take hours on their beloved tresses.

After those terrible mornings of who was in the bathroom first, and waiting hours just to brush his teeth, Kurama swore one day he was going to shave both Yusuke Urameshi’s and Kazuma Kuwabara’s heads.

Hiei didn't understand why no one would take his advice of shaking your hair out until it took on the desired style, that was after all what he did.

End

Chapter Text

"Hey Kurama! Are those yours?"

Kurama looked up from his book, and over at Yusuke. Yusuke stood leaning against Genkai's shrine a cheeky grin lazily stretched across his face, as he pointed out something Kurama couldn't see from his position. Sighing, he folded the corner of his book and set it down before joining Yusuke on the porch. Just a few feet away, boldly playing near by, were three fox kits. The kits were wrestling, and tugging at one another's ears. They paused to acknowledge Kurama, little heads tilting to observe the man, before they went back to tussling.

"Those your kids? Have any late night rendezvous around here?" Yusuke asked his grin getting bigger.

Kurama sighed and rolled his eyes, "Yusuke you idiot."

Kurama's words were a little harsh, but he couldn't believe he's just put down his book for this silliness. 

"What? Never know...I bet you're a real fox killer with your looks!"

Kurama snorted, closing his eyes. He could feel the aneurysm coming...

"So you sure those kits aren't yours?"

"Yusuke! Yes for the-"

"Want to make some?"

Kurama's jaw dropped and his eyes snapped open. He whipped his head around to stare at Yusuke, who was casually looking at Kurama an expectant look on his face. A silence stretched out, and Kurama's face grew more and more confused. Yusuke rocked on the balls of his feet, just waiting for Kurama to answer. 

The two men had been...skirting around some emotions recently, but Kurama never expected Yusuke would be the one to make the first move! Kurama had been thinking of ways to sit down and have a conversation with his long time friend on his growing feeling-but leave it to Yusuke to state the obvious and throw a monkey wrench in all of Kurama's careful planning.

Yusuke placed a hand on Kurama's back interrupting the red head's thoughts, "Well?"

Kurama jumped, and felt a shudder run up his body as goosebumps prickled his skin. A blush managed to creep along his face, and Kurama's mouth open and closed while he floundered for what to say. Yusuke waited patiently for Kurama to find his voice, his hand gently massaging Kurama's back the whole time.

Kurama finally sighed, blinked some of his confusion away, and seized Yusuke's wrist proceeding to drag him inside.

"Is that a yes?" Yusuke asked innocently.

"First off i'm going to explain the difference of men and woman to you, and the difference between a womb and prostate as clearly you're lacking that information-"

Yusuke groaned loudly, but was cut off when Kurama turned to kiss him. A quick hard kiss, full of promise, and not romantic at all. It was the perfect for kiss for Yusuke Urameshi.

"And then I plan to further your education in love making. You must need the practice..." Kurama cooed calmly, eyes trailing over Yusuke's body.

Kurama smiled, the curl of his lips caught somewhere between sweet and innocence, and then continued to drag Yusuke inside.

Yusuke grinned smugly, he should write that line down. 

End

Chapter Text

 

If I could give you one thing... just one item for all of you...

It wouldn’t be money, or some cherished and expensive prized possession. So you’re shit out of luck if you were thinkin’ it was going to be worth its weight in riches…

I would give you a memory of us all together. It’s not a flashy memory-we’re not doing anything special-we’re just together. Laughing and smiling-and i’m still acknowledged as a part of the group-as if i’m just as young as I once was. I would give you this memory-but not as a photo.

I would want you to see the memory as I did. To feel how important it was-and still is for me…that we were...are always laughing.

I'm getting it all jumbled...but neither of you can understand how much our bonds have meant for me. You have always treated me the same as always-even as I got old and forgetful. You made me feel special. And important. I felt as if I was an irreplaceable part…and you know…you guys have no idea how valuable that is to me.

 

 

 

 

So I would leave you this memory…just so you guys know that in the end-I was so happy…to be your friend… To be at your sides just as you remain at mine. So forgive me for getting old...but thank you. Thank you for standing by me.  

-Kuwabara

Chapter Text

Keiko learned at the tender age of ten that there was no greater punishment then taking care of Yusuke Urameshi when he was sick.

When Yusuke was unconscious, sure he was fine! Best patient ever! But if he was sick, with a cold, or a flu, or something that kept him down with a fever...he was the worst type of problem! He threw tantrums, he pouted, he sulked, he'd run from his medicine, he wouldn't lie down-anything a patient could do wrong-he did wrong!

One summer when they were eleven, while he was sick, he jumped into a school's pool and refused to get out. He screamed about how it was summer, and no one was allowed to get sick in summer. Keiko had to call the fire department to get him out of the pool, and Yusuke wound up in the hospital for a week.

So when Yusuke finally made male friends, Keiko had the delight-no the privilege to call them and dump the sick spirit detective on them.

She had just settled down in the tub, a book in hand, when her mother brought her the phone.

"It's a boy-not Yusuke..." Her mother said, brow raised into her hairline as she shot her daughter a disapproving look.

"Mommm..." Keiko groaned taking the phone. Covering one end of the receiver she whispered, "It's probably Kuwabara-"

"That crazy boy who pretended to be Yusuke when we thought he died!?"

"Mom I told you he's Yusuke's best friend! He...He had a mental break down when Yusuke almost died!" Keiko lied, as she quickly pulled a sad sympathetic face.

When Kuwabara had started to hang around, Keiko had to create a creative lie so Kuwabara could come into the family restaurant. Keiko's parents still seemed suspicious, but eventually let up when they saw how well Kuwabara and Yusuke got along.

"Oh yes that's right...you told me that! Why is he calling?" Keiko's mom asked, still not budging.

"I left him with Yusuke. Yusuke'd got a bad fever-"

"Say no more! You better answer that call dear! Poor boy! I thought you liked Kuwabara!"

Keiko rolled her eyes as her mom finally left, and she answered the phone, "Hello?"

"KEIKO!"

"Shhh...Kuwabara calm down! What is it?"

"You won't believe me!" Moaned Kuwabara's despondent voice from the phone.

Keiko smiled sighing, "Oh trust me...whatever Yusuke has done...I believe it! Just tell me."

There was a moment of silence from Kuwabara. He must have been surprised to hear Keiko already knew the reason behind the call.

Finally Kuwabara began speaking, "So I came to Urameshi's house and he won't take his medicine! I had to wrestle him for an hour-a whole hour-before he'd take anything!! He refused to get in his pajamas and well-well he stripped down naked and took off outside!"

"Oh dear that does sound bad," Keiko tutted in a nonchalant manner.

"What should I do!"

"Just go outside and call his name. Say you'll fight him. Promising him a fight normally gets Yusuke to come back-oh and then when you see him give him an uppercut. As hard as you can right under his chin! In his weakened state he'll go down like a sack of potatoes. Works every time."

"...K-Keiko?"

"Listen dear, I've got to go!," Keiko said with a coo, "Good luck!"

And despite Kuwabara protesting Keiko turned off the phone, and dropped it on the bathroom floor. She settled down further into her bubble bath, and sighed contently. She'd make it up to Kuwabara by promising next time they'd dump Yusuke on Hiei.

That should get Kuwabara to forgive her for the terrible night he was in for.

End

Chapter Text

Alcohol in the makai was different than human world alcohol.

Yusuke had learned that the hard way-much to Kurama and Hiei’s amusement. It had been such an awful and embarrassing moment for Yusuke, that he had beaten up most of his friends so they would never speak of how big a fool Yusuke had acted.

So when Yusuke spotted Chu handing Kuwabara a bottle of said wicked brew, half of him was delighted, while the rest of him feared Kuwabara would die from alcohol poisoning from the first sip.

Yusuke was almost right.

Kuwabara took one sip-one sip of the makai liquid courage-and just like that was hammered.

He dropped the bottle, Chu catching hastily with an aghast, “Oi!”

And in the next moment Kuwabara was removing his shirt. 

“I’m really f'iggin’ hot…” Kuwabara grumbled removing his shirt with a satisfied grunt as the fabric slid off his body.

“Hey…you alright?” Chu asked looking at Kuwabara’s flushed face and loopy expression.

Chu had forgotten Kuwabara was all human-and unable to stand this high level alcohol.

Kuwabara smiled, and giggled a little girlishly catching the attention of most everyone in the room.

“Humans can’t handle our drinks!” Jin whistled out gleefully as he latched on to Chu’s back, gawking at Kuwabara's flushed face.

Yusuke managed to make it to Kuwabara’s side when Kuwabara stumbled to his feet and dropped his pants declaring, “My body is just toooooooo hotttttt! I can’t breatheee!”

Yusuke snorted with laughter, “Whoa man. Put on your clothes!”

“Nooooo,” Kuwabara whined shaking his head rapidly, and suddenly running from Yusuke. This was more of a scoot since Kuwabara’s pants were still around his ankles,

“Noooooonooonoooono!! It’s naked time!” Kuwabara moaned, scooting away as fast as he could.

“Kuwabara! KUWABARA! HEY! IT’S NOT NAKED TIME IF YOU STILL GOT UNDERWEAR ON!”

Yusuke’s bratty call was cut off as Kuwabara’s boxers (the ones with little yellow kittens) flew and smacked Yusuke right in the face.

End

Chapter Text

It’s an odd day when team Urameshi stumbles into a valley in the makai, and happen upon a grass that was named “Kitsune no ha.”

The moment the strange grass (a deep green blades with a streak of pink in the center) came in to view-Kurama immediately dropped to the ground. Yusuke managed to catch Kurama’s arm fearing the worst, only to drop Kurama’s arm as he noticed the normally calm friend was rubbing his face on the ground. When fully released, Kurama continued his odd antics and without a sound began rolling and stretching out in the grass-shocking his friends into a long moment of stunned silence.

“Uh…what the hell is he doing?” Kuwabara was the first to ask.

Kurama let out an odd ‘murring,’ sound that ended with a high pitched yowl before he dashed forward on all fours running through the field of grass. 

“Just great…” Hiei sighed, though a smile betrayed his amusement. 

“…You’ve seen this before?” Yusuke asked eyes following Kurama who currently was spinning in circles while simultaneously pulling off his clothes.

“Just once…” Hiei smiled wider, and casually gasped, “Oh no…he’s lost his underwear now.”

Kuwabara and Yusuke could only answer with roars of laughter. And three hours later when they caught Kurama and managed to drag him from the valley-it was still funny.

 

End

Chapter Text

He awoke to something soft disturbing his hair. 

He snorted knowing immediately who and what interrupted his rest.

Without opening his eyes, Kuwabara reached up and bat Kurama’s hand away. 

“Stop putting roses in my hair when I fall asleep…” the old man sighed, though he didn’t sound annoyed.

“Oh, but Bara-chan! They suit you well!” Kurama giggled, all smiles as he sat next to his aged friend. Kurama was visiting Kuwabara at Genkai's shrine, and found his old friend asleep on the porch. He had made himself comfortable, and had planned on decorating Kuwabara's withered white hair with roses-but Kuwabara had woken.

 

 

My art

 

 

 

Kurama looked around from his seat on Genkai’s porch taking in the sight as Kuwabara continued to mutter grumpily to himself. The Shrine had (after some time_ become Kuwabara’s-Yusuke entrusting it to his best friend. There was no one else Yusuke could see taking care of Genkai’s shrine other than Kuwabara. Yusuke had thought it amusing another great psychic run and take care of the shrine.

And here, Kuwabara had stayed; training other young psychics and demons. Kuwabara had lived alone-though he never claimed to be alone. Someone was always with him. Kurama one day, Hiei the next, Yusuke following suit-and so on and so forth-the pattern falling in place week after week, year after year.

Kurama glanced at Kuwabara seeing the old man’s eyes had fallen closed and he had fallen silent. His white eye lashes kissed his cheeks, and gave Kuwabara an ancient a beautiful look. The pompadour no longer crowned Kuwabara’s head-his hair too wispy and thin to form the proper shape. But Kurama felt the fading curls suited Kuwabara-no matter what Kuwabara said. The old man seemed to miss his pompadour, but Kurama thought Kuwabara's crown of winter curls made him...ethereal.

Kurama turned from Kuwabara to look around at the trees surrounding the shrine-most were bare. Winter would be here any day now. The shrine was cold, and everything seemed cast under a gray light. It might even snow later that day....Kurama glanced at Kuwabara. He had been outside sitting in a kimono with a thin blanket. 

“Kuwabara…why don’t you come inside? It’s much to cold for you to sit out here so long…” Kurama suggested trying not to sound like a coddling mother.

A long silence passed before Kurama whispered, “Bara-chan?”

Kuwabara eyes were still closed, and he was still silent...

"Kuwabara?!"

“I’m not dead yet,” Kuwabara snickered, Kurama sighing with trepidation and relief at the sound of his voice.

“I didn’t think you were dead!” Kurama grumped, sounding offended.

Kuwabara chuckled all the more. The fox was always a delight to tease.

“Are Yusuke and Hiei back yet?” Kuwabara asked finally after the laughter had passed him.

“…No. Not yet. But they’ll be back sometime…maybe around dinner,” Kurama answered daring to adjust the rose in Kuwbara’s hair. Kuwabara smacked Kurama’s hand, the demon hissing in false pain.

“Then we’ll wait,” Kuwabara concluded folding his hands back in his lap, "Yusuke said he'd come today...and Hiei too. It's been sometime since we were all together...and I'd like to greet them."

"As you wish Bara-chan."

Kurama sighed smiling softly, adjusted himself closer to Kuwabara to share his warm, and contented himself to wait for their other two friends. As they sat quietly an aged man and an eternally young man, Kurama couldn't help but remember a time when Kuwabara towered over him-even when they sat side by side. That wasn't the case anymore...but to Kurama, Kuwabara would always be a towering giant.

End

Chapter Text

He dreams in black, white, and red tonight.

But it’s not really a dream as it is a nightmare, and it’s not really a nightmare as it is a memory.

The best...the worst nightmares are memories.

The dream starts in a void.

The void is just that…a black nothingness. The absence of light, sound, smells... the absence of everything. He can not even see himself, and he’s not sure if in this void, he even has, “a self.” But somehow in this void he exits, and he is aware something terrible has happened, will happen, and will continue to happen the rest of his life. In the back, somewhere behind him he hears screaming. It’s not a scream of fear, or a cry of pain, not even a scream of rage.

The scream is that of determination. A primal outburst that cuts through the void, and changes the darkness.

The black fades to white, and the scene changes, and what was behind him, is now in front. Had he turned? No…he can’t move. Does he have a body? Does he exist?  Is he even a “he” when he’s in this place. Has “he” just become a witness with no shape, no self… but what is he about to witness? Why is that scream of determination so much worse than any sound he has ever heard? Why has the world spun around?

What was he about to see?

Black seeps into the white, like the purposefulness stroke of a pen, and the white is given a form. 

The form starts with a jacket. The lines drip and spread, forming hands, legs, and finishing with the face. The determined howl is coming from this figure, even before a mouth is recognizable. The scream belongs to this sketch of man slowly taking shape. This determined howl is the battle cry of this man, not yet given a form. The lines continued to spread giving shape to hands, to feet...

When the black lines finally connect and form the mouth, Kazuma Kuwabara is clearly recognizable.

He has become a tangible, complete, and real form in the void.

Kuwabara eventually is close-close enough to touch, when the cry stops. It strangles out into a sharp gasp, and a large red flower, blooms from Kuwabara’s chest. The flower grows from his body like mist. It hovers in the air, frozen in time-suspended as if it will always exist just in front of Kuwabara's great chest.

Now it’s quiet…the screaming has long stopped. But the silence is deafening, and consuming. The sound of nothingness is a great weight. Where are Kuwabara's breaths? Where is heart beat? Where is the natural sound of life? What has happened to cause this painfully heavy silence?

A small breath bubbles past Kuwabara's lips. The flowers is not mist, it is liquid. It erupts into an unearthly amount of blood, and Kuwabara’s face twists.

His face is so young. But it twists and contorts, and ages him by several decades. He has the face of a man who will die. He closes his eyes, and grits his teeth from pain... and his face smooths out as he accepts his agony. Kuwabara opens his eyes, and his face is young again. Too young for that look of acceptance at his fate.

As blood soaks into the white ground, the black hard lines that outlined the form of Kuwabara’s body fall into the puddle. Black line after black line, that once made up Kuwabara’s form, falls into the large red pool…until there is nothing left. Kuwabara has melted and disappeared into the blood, but his presence remains.

Spoken in a breathy, cracked voice that echoes in this horrible place, a single word is at last heard shattering the silence. The word is the last word of dying man, a final plea of the fluttering moth of life. This word is the reason for Kuwabara's pain, the reason for his life. The word is why he will die, life, fight, and suffer. This word is his undoing, but his everything. He will die for this word again, and again, and again.

It echoes like a call of doom-and the dreamer of this terrible dream curses the word! Curses this dream! This hell! 

But still that soft cracking voice whispers, “Urameshi...."

And Yusuke Urameshi wakes up screaming every time. 

End

Chapter Text

He has lived a long, long, long time...and even when death was at his door he could boast that he had found a way to live longer. 

But the longer the life, the more chances he had to regret. And the more regrets that he accumulated in the day time, the more he had that haunted him at night.

He has had many nightmares in his long life, but he imagines the one he is experiencing in this lifetime is the worst. The nightmares he had before can't even hold a candle to the ones he suffers through now. The dreams that haunted his sleep before where instinctual fears: hunger, poverty, death, and fear... but now he has come to know true happiness. He has come to know what it is to be loved, and loved ferociously and eternally. No matter what ill he does, he has learned that she will always love him.

He has learned a mother's care.

So the dreams he has now, the ones that send him waking in terrible shakes and sweats in the night, are all centered around her.

She'll be in the kitchen, and someone will grab her and harm her. He isn't home...he isn't there, and she falls screaming alone.

She'll be in the garden, and he'll watch as demons of his past start to enclose around her. They circle her like hungry predators, chanting that this is his doing. Before he can scream they are upon her.

She'll be at the window, waving at him to come inside. He'll be a child, and he'll be weak-and the enemies will be stronger. He'll scream as the house is swallowed by nameless, faceless monsters.

She is his Madonna. His idol. His savior. And in all the dreams he has now, she is his greatest weakness. 

But by far the worst dream was the one he had tonight. Before the monsters had reached his mother, before they had touched her with their terrible hands, he had managed to get her. To save her. Not once in his dreams had he managed to save his mother. He hold her close and breathes a sigh of relief. He could weep he is so happy. And then she whispers a word:

"Monster."

He pulls away holding her by her shoulders, and in the darkness around her he sees his face. He is in his Youko form. White and glowing in the dark, his eyes are blood thirsty. He looks down to his mother, to tell her who he is, and she crumples under his gaze. As he goes to hold her, she falls apart...she has been torn apart by claws-his claws.

In the distance he hears his old laugh echo around him. 

A voice laughs at him and mocks, "In the end it's not other monsters your mother has to fear...but the one she has sleeping under her own roof."

Kurama wakes in tears as his mothers cries of fright haunt him long into the night.

End

 

Chapter Text

He's sure this dream is a memory. At least when the dream starts out its the beginning of a memory. He's naked and cold, and the world is a dull bluish white all around him. It's so cold...so cold...and his body is too frail for this world. He is a piddling little piece of shit, stuck in the freezing cold. He's so worthless he can't get up...so fucking worthless.

The anger and frustration at himself and his situations boils inside him until it overflows and bursts from his weak body.

His flesh falls from his body and his boiled alive by the intense heat of his own emotions. His bones are charring, and everything is falling apart. His vision blurs and everything spins and spins...

And he opens his eyes.

For a few blissful moments he'll believe that he overcame his nightmares and woke up. When he sits up, he is himself, fully grown and no longer weak...but he is not awake. It's still cold, and he is in a frozen wasteland, the only constellation is he is himself at last. In the distance he hears a woman crying... and her voice and tears make him feel irrationally sick.

The feeling is so close to pity he wants to puke.

"My boy...my boy...my baby boy..." the woman's voice sobs, her voice sweet and familiar somehow.

He runs for the source and passes many things along the way. Bodies of enemies, bodies of people he knew....eventually he sees the bodies of his friends. They all say his name like a great heavy burden, as if he is responsible for their suffering. Maybe he was the one who even did it. Though he hears them, and though he knows what they look like, he can somehow see their twisted mangled bodies in his mind, he doesn't turn to look at them as they call for him.

He runs.

He runs and is disgusted with himself.

Why is he running? Why doesn't he stop to help? He leaves them, and knows that by abandoning them now, he has no right to call them his friends. It's a foul bitter taste in his mouth, and his stomach knots as the feeling of loss seeps to his bones. 

It's her fault... 

His mind whispers this to him, and fuels his feet. He will find this sobbing woman and destroy her. It's her fault. Her fault! This feeling of disconnect. The loss, the cold. This is her fault. Her fault! He'll silence her crying!

He comes across a mirror, and within it a woman weeps. She has covered her face with her hands and lays on the ground sobbing from some great unseen wound. Raising a fist he strikes out to smash the mirror. As his fist connects the mirror begins to shatter, and reflected in depths is Hina. She looks at him and holds her hands out for him to draw him in her embrace. This offering of love, of a mother's devotions scares him more than any enemy ever could. He draws his hand back and strikes the mirror again.

She has become Yukina.

Before he could stop himself, the mirror is shattered, and both Yukina and Hina are gone.

In his blind anger and fear... he destroyed them both.

When Hiei wakes up he has to tear off into the night, and find a fight. Destroying an enemy is the only way to overcome the pain he faces at night.

End.

Chapter Text

He did not have to be asleep to be haunted by nightmares. When he was awake, doubt and gear gnawed at his mind, and weighed heavily on his heart.

Questions like, "Am I good enough? Did I help enough? Am I strong enough? Do they really like me... need me?" float through his head, cleverly hidden and locked away by false bravado.

And when he collapses into bed, not on all nights, not even on most nights, but on some... he knows what he'll dream of.

His friends are walking away from him. No matter how fast he runs, no matter how hard he screams, he'll never reach them. Never. His words, nor his running feet will ever reach them.

"We're sick of you. It's best we go our separate ways."

"You're too weak."

"What good use are you to us anyway?"

He doesn't want to think they're right. Their words can't be true. They are all friends... right? Their bond... that has to mean something right?

He is exhausted. 

He falls to his knees and withers into an old man. His friends still march on, never looking back, and never again. Slowly his body fades to dust, and as he exhales he wished and hopes that he'll wake up. That this is a bad dream... that they need him, that he is of some importance. As his body blows away, he keeps hoping he wakes up...

Please wake up...

Please wake up...

Please wake up!!

When he is only a speck in the darkness he wakes up. He could weep with relief that it was just a dream...just a terribly bad dream. But as he goes throughout the day, and messes up in battle-just a small hiccup really-he can't help but worry about his worth.

Asleep or awake, Kuwabara is always having a bad dream.

End

Chapter Text

Slapping his palm against the wall Kuwabara braced himself against the side of the mossy cavern. He was buckled forward as something like a javelin pierced his side. Spots danced around his eyes, and his free hand settled on the weapon that pulsed with his enemy's aura. He was shockingly cold for someone, whom just a moment ago, had been in the midst of a raging battle. His sweat from the thick of battle had dried up, and his skin prickled with goose bumps.

His footing slipped the slightest bit, and his enemy–the latest threat to the human kind, and maybe even the demon kind too-took off further down the cave.

Hiei glanced at Kuwabara as he ran past, in hot pursuit of the enemy that threatened all those that lived. His face was twisted in irritation and he barked out a slur after his fleeing enemy. Yusuke and Kurama gripped Kuwabara’s arms, and Kuwabara allowed his knees to give out then, the weapon clattering loudly with him as he fell. He was lowered to the ground, Kurama helping him lean against the stone cavern wall. 

“Easy…easy now…breathe slowly…” Kurama ordered as he steadied Kuwabara against the stone.

Kuwabara blinked slowly, confused by the sound of Kurama's voice. His voice sounded like it came from underwater, or was muffled by fabric. It was odd. Kuwabara shook his head to try and fix his hearing, but it didn't seem to help.

"We need to get him out of here!" Yusuke's voice was saying, full of concern and fright.

"Just...just give me a minute...I can stop...I think I can stop this bleeding," Kurama was muttering.

There was a snapping sound, and Kurama broke off the longer end of the weapon. Kuwabara winced and closed his eyes against the sound of Yusuke screaming at Kurama.

"Enough Yusuke! Enough! We had to! We couldn't leave it in there!"

"He's bleeding more now!"

Kuwabara could no longer feel Kurama's hands. Blinking against the fog that swam about his vision, he looked down at the bloody mess of his side. It didn't hurt. If the pain wasn't bad...surely he was okay. But that demon who had taken off... he could really end the world. Everyone would die. People like his sister, like his dad, like Yukina... like his friends. That man had to be stopped... they couldn't worry about him right now.

“Go…” Kuwabara panted, clamping both his hands on his terrible wound. “Go now…that g-guy’s gotta be stopped.” Kuwabara stated, knowing with each passing moment that Kurama, and Yusuke were here, Hiei was alone with an enemy.

Kurama’s eyes were darting over Kuwabara’s injuries and face, trying to decipher his next actions based on Kuwabara’s current state. Helplessly Yusuke looked at Kurama, his hands clutching to Kuwabara’s shoulders. His insistent tugging made Kuwabara flash Yusuke a stern look, but it didn’t hold any power over the concerned youth. Not seeming to notice Kuwabara’s displeasure, Yusuke steadfastly gripped the fabric of Kuwabara’s clothes, his trembling hands making Kuwabara feel oddly nauseated. 

He wanted to reassure Yusuke, but the words wouldn't come easy. 

Kurama's face looked hopeless, and Kuwabara exchanged a look with Kurama. 

'Kurama doesn't think I'll be okay...' Kuwabara realized.

And maybe Kurama was right.

But... 

But...

'There's too much at stake here... In the grand scheme of things... I'm only one person. And I can't come before others.' Kuwabara felt so calm as these thoughts floated through his mind. Kuwabara didn't think he would die. Maybe Kurama did. But that didn't mean he would die... he had to believe he'd be okay.

Kuwabara smiled.

“I can hold on…I’m okay. I j-just am obviously hurt ya know…?” Kuwabara reasoned, unable to hear all of his own words. He couldn’t figure out if he was whispering, or if his ears were just ringing. Kuwabara tried smiling again. It felt flimsy, but he managed it enough. He nodded his head rapidly, “I’ve still got life in me-but Hiei can’t t-take that guy alone! Go s-stop that guy, and give him a good thrashin’ for putting m-me in this state, okay?”

Kurama looked Kuwabara in the eyes again. Something flickered in Kurama's green orbs that Kuwabara couldn't read. Kuwabara hoped his eyes conveyed that he was being serious, he would really try to hang on.

Kurama rose and tugged Yusuke, “Come on Yusuke, Kuwabara will be alright.”

Kurama tugged insistently, and payed Kuwabara no more passing glances. He made to speak, but closed his mouth tight and took off down the path Hiei had taken.

Yusuke looked torn, and his head swiveled a moment between Kurama's retreating back and Kuwabara. Finally, Yusuke’s hands loosened and on staggering feet he stepped away from his injured best friend. 

“We’ll be back quick buddy-just don’t move! Stay right there!” Yusuke commanded before he tore off in the direction Kurama and Hiei had fled. A moment later Kuwabara was sure he was able to feel his friends aura’s reunite and pursue the enemy.

'Good...good.'

Kuwabara breathed a sigh of relief, and in silence he waited alone. The moments ticked bye, and Kuwabara would shake his head every now and then to fight his fading vision. Something was definitely wrong with his ears. The soft natural sounds of the cave couldn’t be heard anymore, and Kuwabara was soon sure he couldn’t even hear his own ragged breaths.

In his solitude, as he awaited for his friends to return, it just felt like it was too quiet.

Kuwabara blinked slowly, a wave of exhaustion hitting him without warning. His head dipped and for a minute he was worried he'd fall asleep. However, his eyes managed to stay open, and he continued to wait for his friends. He knew if it was those three, everything would turn out alright. Yusuke, Kurama, Hiei... they could do anything.

He gave a startled jump as he felt a hand clamp gently on his shoulder. He turned his neck to look at who touched him, his head throbbing painfully and vision swimming at the sudden, jerky movements.

“Botan?” Kuwabara asked, as his eyes fell upon pink eyes and blue hair.

Botan was staring down at him, her skin a glowing white in the dank, darkness of the cavern. Her blue hair seemed to flutter, though Kuwabara could feel no breeze. And on her small face, she wore a frown-so small and so unlike the perky grim reaper that Kuwabara knew…

“Botan?” Kuwabara asked with growing concern at his friend’s disposition as he tried to ignore the truth that was slowly dawning.

“Oh…Kazuma…” Botan whispered frailly, as her hands gently fell on his face.

'...Kurama was right.' Kuwabara thought bittersweetly. 

And as her hands fell on him, Kuwabara knew pain no longer.

End. 

Chapter Text

“Now what…is that?” Hiei asked face scrunching up as Kurama sat down with a bowl of ice cream.

Now it wasn’t that Hiei hadn’t seen ice cream before-but this. This was something else. Three scoops of white ice cream (with bits of chocolate and peanut butter) sat haphazardly smooshed against one another in a tiny delicate china bowl. Chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, caramel drizzle, whip cream, cherries, and a smattering of nuts topped off this delicious treat-making for a messy teetering tower of dessert.

“A homemade triple sundae…” Kurama answered in a breathy whisper, green eyes focused on the treat. Hie eyes briefly looked to Hiei and added, “Care to try?”

Hiei frowned, but Kurama still held out a second spoon for the shorter man.

“It’s cold…like snow…so don’t take too much,” Kurama offered to be helpful.

Hiei scowled, but snatched the spoon and took a jab at the sloppy tower. Somehow Hiei managed a spoonful, and the tower of ice cream remained more or less intact.  Hiei glared at the spoon filled with what Kurama would call a drippy delight, and with an agitated sigh took the spoon and treat into his mouth.

Kurama waited in anticipation for Hiei to fall in love with the cold treat-but it was not meant to be.

Hiei frowned harder and spit the mouthful out immediately. It plopped down on to Kurama’s coffee table, and on the carpet that might not have stained-but then Hiei put a boot on to the mess and ground it into the fibers of the carpet, cursing with each furious scrub.

Hiei sputtered with disgust, “Ugh! It’s sweet! How disgusting!”

Hiei left grumbling bitterly about a fox and his tricks, while Kurama stared at the nasty mess ground into his carpet, and the little stains that Hiei’s boot was leaving as the short man stomped away.

Both men made promises that ice cream would never pass Hiei’s lips again.

End

Chapter Text

Yusuke Urameshi and Kazuma Kuwabara found themselves, once again in detention.

Both teens were currently in heavy debate as to what it could have been (this time) to get them in detention.

“I set a firecracker off in the girl’s bathroom,” Yusuke said, holding out his hand to help him count his misgivings, “I beat some dudes up this morning…at lunch…and during p.e….maybe I was caught smoking again but i'm not sure if I was seen this time…”

“Ah, that was you who set off the firecracker? Those poor girls ran out of the bathroom with their panties around their ankles!" Kuwabara cried aghast.

"I Know," Yusuke said chin up in pride.

"Remind me to beat you later for that one Urameshi!” Kuwabara huffed, before mumbling about Yusuke’s blatant disregard for respecting woman. 

“Pfft. Whatever man…hey…why did you do today?"

Kuwabara shrugged scratching an itch behind his ear, "I dunno...I had a fight with Ryo, Minaro, Tai, Daisuke, Ryo again, the Ryuji brothers...and then at lunch I fought the Ryujii gang...I skipped history to go grab ramen-"

"Oh yeah I was there for that!" Yusuke spoke up, smiling fondly at the memory of old man Nitori's cheese ramen.

"Man yeah...that was a good lunch...oh then I got in a fight with Yamato, Yoshi, Yoshida...and uh...hmm. That's about it...Why do you think we’re in here?”

"I dunno...I can't figure out which thing is the thing we did that pissed off the teachers so much!" Yusuke admitted as he scooted his desk closer to Kuwabara’s.

Once close enough Yusuke plopped his head on Kuwabara’s shoulder and proceeded to essentially “cuddle,” his best friend.

Kuwabara grinned placing his chin on top of Yusuke’s head, “I dunno Urameshi…could it have anything to do with the fact that instead of Math, we were suckin’ face in the hallway?”

Yusuke stuck out his lip, and was quiet, seemingly in deep thought.

“Nah.” Yusuke finally answered a smirk growing on his face, “Hey…let’s do that again. And do more of that shit with your tongue…”

There was a loud cough from the teacher at the front of the room who had issued the two delinquents the detention.

Needless to say, the poor teacher went ignored by the young pair who were currently engrossed in the finer points of, “french kissing.”

End

Chapter Text

“…They’re moving…”

“They do that.”

“…They’re loud…”

“That happens too.”

“…I don’t like it,” Hiei said with a frown pushing a box of yapping puppies away from him.

Kurama rolled his eyes and picked up a spotted mutt, “Well they were dumped at my house-not yours…”

“I don’t have a house.”

Kurama ignored Hiei in favor of the yapping pup. Smiling, Kurama buried his nose in the puppies soft fur, letting out a child like giggle. 

“…You intend to keep them all?”

“At least until I can find them good homes,” Kurama answered placing the pup back in the box.

A wet sound filled the air, and Kurama looked over at Hiei, startled to see a puppy whizzing at Hiei’s feet. Kurama sheepishly looking up at Hiei, who was drawing his sword looking down at the critter with anger burning in his eyes.

“Now Hiei! He’s a baby!! A puppy!”

“…It’s not wrong if I eat it after I kill it.”

“HIEI!”

End

Chapter Text

It was when he looked at Shiori, that Kurama wondered about the mother he must have had when he was a fox. 

Surely, he had one.

Maybe.

Kurama had heard tales of fox demons being born of discontent, hate, greed, and anger. Perhaps he had been made from these festering emotions…and had come to be. It would explain why he had no memories of a gentle touch, a loving presence…or at least some sort of mentor in his life as a fox kit.

He wondered this because try as he might-he had no memory of being loved and cared for as a child when he was a small demon kit.

His earliest memory was crying because he was hungry, cold, and alone in the dark…there were many nights like that. Alone in the dark. Every day a struggle to get to the next morning.

A hand brushed his hair from his eyes, and the gentle touch called Kurama from the darkness.

Looking into Shiroi’s eyes Kurama smiled, glad that if he could only have memories of one mother-it was of this woman before him. He let his mother tug him into her warm embrace, and he sighed as a warmth enveloped him, promising safety and love.

He didn’t need a past with a question, the woman he loved and adored so much, his mother that he had come to love now, was all the mom he’d ever need.

End

Chapter Text

“What did you do to my headphones?!”

“…Does it matter?”

“YES!”

“There was a demon. He attacked. You got knocked out. My sword was gone. I grabbed those things and strangled the demon to death with that cord. End of story.”

“…”

“…What?”

“JESUS HIEI!”

“You’re alive thanks to me so shut up already about your stupid…whatever they were.”

“They were headphones…now they’re just…one of your bloody…ruined weapons…”

“I don’t know about ruined…I could probably pop one more head off again with those things.”

“HIEI.”

End

Chapter Text

Kuwabara had never learned to drive.

Driving wasn’t so important in the great big scheme of things-especially when you lived in a city. Buses, bikes, subways, trains, taxis, and your own two feet served as transportation enough.

Who needed a car?

He was lucky enough that no one ever seemed to question his decision of not learning how to drive.

Because really there wasn't anything wrong with cars.

He just…hoped no one noticed him flinch any time he heard the screeching of tires.

...It's not like he was afraid of cars, or vehicles. Just... sometimes when the tires screeched across the road he could feel the long and twisted grip of the Elder Toguro's fingers around him. And if that didn't pop up in his head he would suddenly remember Yusuke's wake and that empty hollow feel of loss in his gut.

Kuwabara didn't need to learn how to drive.

Cars were stupid anyway.

End

Chapter Text

It was…different…being alone.

Not…really bad…just different.

Different because, he knew they’d be back-they promised they would. And he believed them-because they were his friends, because he trusted them. It was just different…not lonely…not…

It was just different.

Kuwabara sighed, and reclined in his chair balancing a pencil on his nose, not believing anything he was trying to currently convince himself of.

Frowning unhappily Kuwabara thought about his human heart…his human hands, his human soul…his human…everything! There was nothing really wrong with being a human. He had never wanted to be anything else but himself...

But on rare times, like now, he thought…how he wanted to be…not human. He wanted to be something else, something else he was afraid to name. He didn't want to name his desire...if he did he had this deep fear of winding up like Toguro. But if he could be something else... he could be with them…where they were…

Kuwabara looked at his homework, and sighed deciding to take a break. He was getting no where anyways...

Getting up, Kuwabara rifled through his kitchen aimlessly eating, and picking at the items within his pantry. He spent about twenty minutes flipping through t.v channels, and then took an hour to work out. 

Not able to shake the sudden bought of loneliness that had sprung upon him earlier, Kuwabara headed back for his room to take a shower, and then maybe for a walk. If he was lucky he might find some fight on the street.

A tapping at his window alerted Kuwabara to someone, or something outside. Heading over, he opened his window, surprised to be tackled by a little flying ball of blue fluff.

“P-Puu?!”

The miniature phoenix answered with a tearful chirp and resumed mauling, and hugging Kuwabara, until the large man cuddled and cradled the small mass against his neck. The tiny creature cooed all while nuzzling and settling into Kuwabara’s neck, chirping in happiness at being held. As Kuwabara held the squeaking spirit beast, Kuwabara found a letter tied to Puu’s body and removed the envelope.

His name was scrawled on the letter in Yusuke’s barely legible handwriting.

Kuwabara swallowed hard and laughed a bit.

…Everything suddenly felt a whole lot better.

End

Chapter Text

*

"I think it needs to be something that represents us."

"What about initials?"

"That's stupid."

"You're stupid!"

*

Because Kuwabara had been the one to propose the deep bonds of marriage, Kurama has decided Kuwabara needed to ask everyone else. Kuwabara was the initiator, so he should have the honor to bring it up to everyone else.

Kuwabara thought that was a load of crap, and to be honest was terrified on what Hiei and Yusuke might say.

"Hiei is going to know what you mean when you ask, and we will explain it thoroughly to Yusuke! I'll be right there the whole time, there is nothing to fear!" Kurama had chided, looking very amused at Kuwabara's nervousness.

The only relief about this whole...proposal thing was he didn't have to be romantic about it. If he got on his knees to ask Hiei for his hand in marriage... well Kuwabara could foresee himself not living much longer. And if he tried that with Yusuke-well he wouldn't survive the embarrassment!

Kuwabara had been a nervous ball of jitters, but had decided to ask Hiei as soon as he could.

He hadn't expected Hiei to flush red, or to sit up and stare at Kuwabara as if he'd never seen him before.

Hiei looked to Kurama and had asked, "Does he know?"

"Yes. Yes he does."

Hiei's red eyes shot over to Kuwabara, and in completely serious tone, lacking anger or judgement, Hiei asked, "Are you sure?"

*

"What about like this...with the dragon wrapped around here?"

"Oh hey, that's nice Kurama."

"That gives us a circle...there's space to put stuff inside now."

"...How about a sword here?...No not like mine. It should look like Kuwabara's."

*

Gripping his hands, and drumming his fingers together, Kuwabara had nodded, "Yes...you guys...well I'm asking all of you. I already asked Kurama-and when Yusuke comes back I'll ask him."

"...And you want me to be a part of this marriage?" Hiei asked, again not sounding angry.

Kuwabara nodded, his nerves closing up his throat.

"...This is a serious question. To take me in your marriage pact...to take any of us...you are putting us above, any other you might find. Above your sister, above any woman you may claim to love...by asking us you're willingly putting us above everything else. Can you do that?" Hiei asked, tone cutting through Kuwabara's nerves.

Kuwabara was quiet as he considered what Hiei had to say.

Bravely, Kuwabara lifted his chin, and met the shorter demon's eye, "Yes. I...it's hard to say this, but I could live without ever finding love. I could live without knowing the faces of any children I might have. I could even...I could even live in a world without my sister... as long as I have you guys to fall back on."

Hiei's eyes softened in a way Kuwabara had not expected. Hiei dropped his head soon after and grunted, hiding the deep emotion he had shown for just a second. 

"I accept," Hiei muttered, and then disappeared leaving Kuwabara relieved, but incredibly flustered.

"He's embarrassed," Kurama supplied, all smiles and delighted with Hie's answer, "Now you just have to talk to Yusuke."

Kurama slapped Kuwabara on the back.

Kuwabara wanted to throw up.

*

"We don't have to have the spirit gun there..."

"Yes we do!"

"Well...what about Puu?"

"I'm not wearing an image of that creature on my body."

"what the hell's wrong with Puu? He's fucking awesome-"

"Too cute-"

"CUTE CAN BE COOL-"

"Cool it! What about the spirit gun on the outside?"

*

In the end, Kurama and Hiei had agreed to back Kuwabara up when the time came to ask Yusuke.

And making Yusuke understand what was being asked of him was of course, incredibly hard.

"WHOA SO YOU GUYS WANNA KISS ME AND STUFF?"

"NO URAMESHI WE JUST WANT TO...YOU KNOW BE TOGETHER FOREVER!"

"DOING BUTT STUFF?!"

"NO URAMESHI!"

On and on they went, going back and forth. It was days before Kuwabara, Kurama, and Hiei managed to finally get Yusuke to grasp what they were asking.

Scattered around Yusuke's living room floor in exhausted heaps the four men finally were all caught up.

"So...If I dunno...wanted to marry Keiko-like take her as my wife...that's cool to?"

"Yes."

"For the millionth billionth gazillionth-"

"Kuwabara shut up."

Yusuke chuckled, "So nothing is really changing...just...we get cool tattoos and shit? And demons would know if they came across you guys, not to mess with you because you're my bitches-"

"Hey now-"

"Urameshi! No-"

"Ugggggggg-"

Yusuke laughed and cut through his friends complaints like he always did. "Well...then I guess we better start designing our mark."

*

"...I think that's it."

"Yeah. Me too..."

"Wow."

"...Now to just go get this done."

*

End

Chapter Text

“What’s the meaning of this!?”

The angry, unexpected roar just behind Kuwabara's ear, causes Kuwabara to jump from his reclined position at his computer chair. Flailing where he stood, he fell back into his seat, before he was roughly spun around. When the room stopped spinning, he realized he'd found a sword to his throat. Looking up at the angry red of eyes of Hiei, Kuwabara took a deep breath and in less than manly way squeaked, “What is…what meaning?…What??”

Kuwabara watched as Hiei withdrew a white stuffed bunny from his cloak.

Relaxing a little bit, Kuwabara sighed, “That’s Yukina’s. She got it for her birthday-”

“The. Tag.” Hiei growled pushing the blade into Kuwabara’s skin, not piercing, but barely just.

“WHOA! THE TAG WHAT?”

“THE TAG SAYS: TO THE LOVE OF MY LIFE-HUG THIS WHEN I’M NOT IN YOUR BED AT NIGHT?!–KUWABARA.”

Kuwabara’s mouth dropped open. 

“I didn’t write that!" Kuwabara hissed and then a little angrier added, "I also didn’t get her that damm rabbit!” He pushed forward a bit, wincing as the blade pricked his skin, drawing a thin line of blood.

Hiei jerked in reaction to Kuwabara’s accidental injury-his anger disappearing for a moment. Hiei pulled his sword from Kuwabara an inch, and reset his angry face, glaring hard. The glare was met with Kuwabara's own glare. 

"Listen you little shit-I didn't give that to her!"

He growled like a predator and snarled, “BULLSHIT!”

At that moment, the door slammed open again, Shizuru Kuwabara looming in the doorway in a revealing blue negligee.

“It is too fucking early for all this fucking shouting! It's 8 in the goddamm a.m. for fuck's sake!! ” Shizuru hissed at the two stunned men. “I have company! Let me make this simple for you two motherfuckers!” She stalked over kicking Hiei hard in the arm, forcing the shorter man’s arm down and successfully kicking Hiei's blade away.

Hiei, having never really been on the opposite end of Shizuru’s wrath, was more then surprised and his mouth hung open in a comical way. Kuwabara was just wishing he could play dead until Shizuru left the room.

Snatching the plush out of Hiei's grip, Shizuru pulled out the tag, “It says, ’S. Kuwabara.’ The rabbit is from me. I’m fucking your sister-who is currently waiting for me to come back and finish our round 2!”

Both Kuwabara and Hiei were speechless.

Shizuru curled her hand hard around the plush heading for the door.

“If you don’t believe me, wait an hour and Yukina will stumble from my room!” Grabbing the door knob Shizuru glared over at Hiei and Kuwabara, “And one more thing Hiei! Kazuma spanks it to you every night-and i’m sick of seeing you-Hiei-lurking around outside our window watching Kuwabara. Figure. Your. Shit. Out.”

With that Shizuru slammed the the door shut, leaving Kuwabara and Hiei to stare at each other with glowing red faces.

End

Chapter Text

He met her by the swingsets.

She would be everything.

She was his friend

His family.

His lover.

The girl that was his everything.

At the tender age of five, he didn’t know that this girl could be his salvation.

At the age of 14 he still wouldn’t know this great gift she was giving him

…But as time would move, as it always does, he would come to learn everything she could, and would offer him.

The girl by the swingsets would be the reason he breathed, lived, ached, and loved.

Yusuke Urameshi would be forever in debt to his five year old self. The boy in the past who met Keiko Yukimura by the swingsets, and agreed to be her best friend.

End

Chapter Text

Genkai touched the old photo of Toguro from her younger years.

He heart swelled, raced, and she felt a flush pick up in her cheeks.

For a glorious moment, she was sixteen and young again. She was a wide eyed girl, with dreams of fights, and proving herself...and hopes of one day being a bride to a man who shared her aspirations.

She dropped her hand.

Why was it you could never forget the person you loved…no matter how much they let you down?

End

Chapter Text

Things had not gone as she expected.

She was not supposed to be at this place, with this life, married to the man that wasn't...him.

Keiko Yuikmura-Keiko Hagashi now-couldn't help, but wonder how she'd gotten to this point in life. How she'd wound up in a different plan.

At five she'd met Yusuke Urameshi on the playground and new that she and him would be married. They'd goto school, fall in love, and at twenty-one they would marry, have 3 kids before she was thirty, and both die a one-hundred and eleven! 

As she grew older, her dream adjusted appropriately, but Yusuke was always in it.

He had been her childhood dream. Her one true desire, and the one she had promised to love, always loved-still loved.

She'd assumed he'd grow up and mature from the boy who could only think of fighting. That he'd choose her just as she'd chosen him. It was only natural that they were meant to be, her youthful heart had told her-promised her

Sometime, in her preteen years, he would propose to her to get out of trouble. This never worked, it normally would make her all the angrier! And she'd blow him off for a week, or until he'd begged for her forgiveness enough. But at those times, he'd grin at her, his brown eyes flashing with youthful mischievousness and delight-and oh! Oh her girlish heart, hoped that he deep down meant all his silly proposals. Deep down, let him yearn for her, as she yearned for him.

She was in her twenties when she realized...maybe she was wrong.

And sometimes childhood dreams...were just dreams.

"Has he ever kissed you...and I mean...initiated the kiss?" Shizuru has asked one day after Keiko's 25th birthday.

Shizuru has come over to comfort Keiko...as Yusuke was going to leave again for another couple years to go fight in the makai realm. He'd been traveling back and forth so much to the demon realm, that Keiko hardly saw him. He'd come back and then six months later want to leave again for another year! 

"Keiko?" Shizuru prodded gently again.

Keiko fidgeted with her purse, and looked everywhere but the older woman's concerned face, "Oh...Well I mean-"

"Keiko...has Yusuke ever kissed you? And I mean, really kissed you..."

Keiko felt a lump form in her throat, "...No," She admitted wetly, "No...Oh Shizuru! You must think-"

The older woman's arms wrapped around her, strong and secure, "Shhh...Shhh...no. No, I don't think anything. I had to ask Kuwabara the same thing about Yukina a couple years back. I'm only concerned that you'll be hurt..."

Shizuru's words stung. Keiko remembered Kuwabara's solemn, lonely face the day he realized Yukina would never love him. For weeks he looked empty, as little by little he let his feelings for Yukina go. His face was a painful sketch of a tragic romance, during that time. But he let her go...and it was sad to think that Yukina didn't even notice. Kuwabara took time, but he moved on, and still remained friendly and kind to Yukina. But the love was gone. He moved on...

Could She?

At that time she didn't know, and the only way to know, was to try.

So for the next month she planned on avoiding Yusuke. She would let him come to her. She would look in his eyes, and figure out what he wanted...she would know then. She was always good at reading Yusuke-but she was the one who needed the distance-so could really see what Yusuke felt. It was agony...wondering and waiting to see if he'd notice her absence.

And to her delight-of course he did! Within a week he was hanging around her house, and calling for her. With pride she knew she couldn't avoid him for a month-he wouldn't let her! That must mean something! She invited him over a week later, and eagerly awaited him. He showed up promptly, and entered her house with familiar ease. She looked into his eyes and saw-

Nothing.

...Well, at least not what she wanted to be there..

He had missed his friend.

Friend.

All she could ever be.

It broke her up inside, but she couldn't bring herself to say anything about it to him. She was too embarrassed. What would Yusuke say to her, if he'd known she'd been expecting a whirlwind romance with the boy next door? A life With the street punk, who liked making kids laugh and cooking up ramen on the side...

Would it hurt him to know, that she had always wanted to be more than friends? She plastered on a big grin, and spent the day with him.

In the evening she said, "You know...I used to want to marry you when we were kids."

"Oh yeah? You wise up?" Yusuke asked grinning back at her.

"Yes...I realized I'd rather have you as my best friend over a husband any day!" Keiko had giggled boldly, even if it felt like a lie.

She held her breath for one last hopeful moment.

He laughed easily, "Yeah...I'd make a terrible husband."

Her throat was tight from the disappointment, and she felt the pressure of tears at the back of her eyes.

Yusuke's hand came down on her own, startling her.

"You deserve someone who would treat you much better than I ever could Keiko," he said honestly, his expression gentle and sincere.

And so he did lover her...but not as she wanted. She returned the smile, and brought her other hand on his, giving it a squeeze. It occurred to her then, that she could live with that. She loved Yusuke...even if it couldn't be in the way she'd always imagined.

Though Yusuke's heart could never be hers, he never let her down. 

When she did find love, Yusuke was at her side encouraging her every step of the way. Threatening to tear the guy apart if her harmed her, helping her plan dates, pick out clothes, pick out gifts...

She was near thirty when she and her groom were wed, and Yusuke had been her maid of honor-he had changed the title to "man of honor," but the role suited him fine. 

It wasn't until now-a year into her married life-that it dawned on her how things had taken such an odd turn-a turn she hadn't expected.

Picking up the phone she dialed Yusuke's number, and in a moment was greeted with his lazy, "Hello."

As bored as he sounded, he never missed one of her calls.

"Yusuke," She began, taking in an anxious breath as fate offered her another twist into her unexpected but happy life, "I'm going to be a mother!"

Her childhood dream had ended in disappointment, but her journey in life couldn't be the happier.

End

 

 

Chapter Text

“A little higher!”

“Nnnngg…there?”

“There!” Kurama conceded with a large smile and a nod of his head. His hands were currently steadying the ladder Yusuke was balanced haphazardly on. 

The pair were hanging various red lanterns all over the shrine. They were not alone in their decorating. A large group of familiar faces were spread out around the shrine, also hanging various decorations and cleaning up Genkai's old shrine. Yukina, Botan, Koenma, Chuu, Rinku, Jin, Toya, Yomi, Mukuro, and Hiei were spread out along Genkai’s old property preparing it for Japan’s Obon festival.

It was Early August, the leaves were already beginning to turn, and the evening air was crisp.

“Food’ll be ready soon!” Chuu slurred holding a bottle under his arm.

“Shishiwakamaru is late!” Jin pipped up as he swept some leaves from the stone steps leading to the alter fire.

“Well so are a few others, but we’ll just have to start without them. I’m not going to hold this off any longer,” Yusuke grumble, voice impatient but full of eagerness. He descended the ladder and looked around the place with a satisfactory nod.

“C'mon! Lets light the alter and invite our guests!” Yusuke called, before roughly and intentionally running into Hiei. The shorter demon swatted at Yusuke who snickeredd as he ran past.

"Pest," Hiei muttered, sticking a leg out and nearly sending Yusuke crashing to the ground.

Kurama was nice enough to catch Yusuke, pointing and ushering Yusuke ahead with a soft, "C'mon Yusuke, don't be a nuisance!"

When everyone was gathered, Koenma lit the alter.

“Friends…loved ones…we light the fire so that you can come home. So that you can see where we are,” Koenma spoke softly, but his words rang clear among the group who had fallen into silence. The alter was lit, and plumes of fire sprang to life.

In silence the group waited. One of the logs cracked, and the fire stretched up and turned pale, as if the it had become pure light. The lanterns, though all unlit, suddenly sprang to life, glowing all at once and glowing bright.

A small woman stepped out of the fire, her form misty. She led a parade of others, all following each other in a neat, but excited line. The tiny woman stepped down from the alter, and peered around at the familiar faces of friends.

“My, my you’ve managed to keep the place looking the same…” Genkai mused stepping down away from the alter so others might follow. Genkai was not the old woman they’d known, but young and spry, though her eyes still held an ancient wisdom.

Behind Genkai came Atsuko, she carried a large bottle of saki and she greeted Chuu with a guttural yell. The pair had become quite the drinking buddies back in the day. And Chuu had even been there when Atsuko died, wrinkled and small but still clinging to her sake cup.

Shiori followed quietly after, and when she saw Kurama she squeaked with delight and rushed towards her son. Kurama’s face broke out in a broad grin. He whispered, “Mother,” and bowed low to show his respect, Shiori hovering a hand over his head in excitement. He would have hugged her, but his arms would only slip through.

Shizuru came next, looking young and vivacious as ever. Shizuru had died in her late 90’s, but here she was looking just as she did when she was 21. A lit cigarette was balanced on her lip, and her eyes glanced over every face. Stepping down she found Yukina and Botan and joined the girls, the latter bursting into giggles at the sight of their friend.

After Shizuru, dressed in her favorite dress, and looking positively radiant, came Keiko. She had died just a couple years shy of 100, but her spirit was young, and her hair short... she looked just like her old 15 year old self. She heard Yusuke moving towards her, before she saw him. She turned to see him, and before she'd fully turned he was standing over her, staring down at her as if she were a treasure. The two stared at each other and nodded, both faces alive with delight. Keiko stepped down from the alter, her eyes never leaving Yusuke’s face.

“Soon…” Keiko said as she headed for Yukina, Botan, and Shizuru.

Keiko and Yusuke would have their moment. A quiet moment to be together, to talk…but there was one more guest and she knew Yusuke would want to see him first.

The last to step down from the alter was a big lumbering man in his mid-twenties. He was dressed in a yukata, appropriate for the weather, and his hair was gelled in a pompadour. Kazuma Kuwabara met Yusuke’s eyes, and the two men were in front of each other grinning like they were back in middle school. Kurama and Hiei were soon around Kuwabara as well and silently they greeted each other.

It took several minutes before anyone could speak.

“Welcome back Kuwabara!” Kurama finally said, a little breathless in his excitement.

“Thanks for lighting the alter…it’s easy to come home when you’ve got such a big light to follow!” Kuwabara laughed, grinning at his friends.

Kuwabara had died well into his hundreds. His hair had been wispy, and his eyes blind. It was though his connection to spirits and his strong powers aided in keeping him alive longer. It had been a hard day when the team of four became a team of three.

It had been hard losing any of their loved ones. But Koenma had given the group a rare opportunity to be reunited when their lost loved ones. During the week of the Obon festival, when the alter was lit, all who were lost were able to find their ways back home. It was a wonderful, yearly treat.

“Man Kuwabara…it’s so good to see you again!” Yusuke said, voice cracking a bit as he looked at his best friend. This time of year was what Yusuke looked forward to the most.

“Might be the last time…” Kuwabara admitted.

Instantly, Kurama, Hiei, and Yusuke's fell into confusion and despair.

He smiled at his friends concerned faces, and waved at them as if trying to simmer down any protests they might have.

“Now don’t look like that!” Kuwabara chided grinning wide, “Koenma and I have been talking about me being reincarnated…I’m thinking of coming back!”

There was a joyful cry in the air, and someone shouted, “What are we standing around for! Let’s party!” Laughter, and clattering echoed in the night. Mothers and sons, friends and lovers, were all reunited once more. All able to catch up, to reminisce, and even talk about possible futures.

And every night the alter fire was lit during the Obon Festival, their lost friends would make their way home.

End

Chapter Text

His head was pounding.

Was it from tears, or from the last three bars he's visited?

He wasn't really sure...

Dear friends, family, and all those present...

He closed his eyes, and collapsed on a swing.

He'd somehow arrived at the park...it seemed it was becoming a habit for Team Urameshi to mourn on a children't play ground.

He looked up to confirm his suspicions-yup. This was indeed the park that Yusuke had gone to when Genkai had died.

We are gathered here today to honor the passing...

Yusuke had disappeared and been found here at this park, crying and privately mourning the loss of his teacher. Kuwabara had been next after Eikichi passed, and Hiei too had visited the park the day Yukina asked if he was her brother. For some reason, the park had become a place to cry when tragedy struck...

...or when one just needed a good cry.

Kurama guessed it was his turn now to spend an evening sobbing at a child's park.

Shiori Minamino. There is a poem here, she asked for a piece of it to be read...

"Hey...crying on your own?"

"...You did..."

"Nah...I seem to remember some pesky friends of mine standing quietly behind me while I wept the whole time."

"...Be my guest and stand there quietly then...if you can Yusuke."

"...You know me too well Kurama!"

Yusuke laughed tossing his hands behind his head as he presented his trademark smile. Kurama gripped the chains of his swing tighter, and tried to join in and laugh with his friend, but his laughter quickly choked out and turned to tears.

"A Mother's Love," by Helena Steiner Rice...

Yusuke's hand fell heavily on the top of Kurama's hair. His fingers tangled in the red locks, and Yusuke took in a deep breath.

"Take your time Kurama...take your time."

Kurama could only weep in response.

"A Mother's love is something
that no on can explain,
It is made of deep devotion
and of sacrifice and pain...

Kurama wasn't sure how long he cried, but Yusuke was sitting in the swing next to him when he finally opened his eyes.

"Kuwabara and Hiei are waiting back at the shrine...they wanted to give you an hour before coming to get you," Yusuke explained, though Kurama hand't asked.

"...You couldn't wait that long?" Kurama asked voice thick from crying.

"...Nah. I can't stand the thought of you alone."

It is endless and unselfish
and enduring come what may
For nothing can destroy it
or take that love away . . .

Yusuke turned to look Kurama in the eye. The two men held their gazes for a long moment before Yusuke reached out and with his thumb wiped Kurama's tears away.

"It hurts now...and it will be a dull ache always...but remember what she gave you, and you'll be happy."

"...Wise words old friend...where did you hear them?" Kurama asked, as tears began to spring back into his green eyes.

"An old friend told them to me," Yusuke snipped with a snide smile.

It is patient and forgiving
when all others are forsaking,
And it never fails or falters
even though the heart is breaking . . ."

"But here...these are my own," Yusuke rose to his feet and cupped Kurama's face. He titled the man's head up, and with great tenderness kissed each weeping eye, and then finished with a kiss to his forehead.

"A shoulder to cry on is always here, and a kiss or two may help ease the ache. I've got both to give to you," Yusuke said, tone sincere and soft.

Kurama sniffled, and wrapped his arms tight around Yusuke's waist, tugging the man against him in a desperate hug.

And now some words left to her surviving son, Shuichi Minamino...

"Don't cry Kurama...not forever okay?" Yusuke whispered, trying to sound soothing. He wasn't very good at being the comforter, but the least he could do was hold his friend as much as he needed. 

Kurama held fast sniffling wetly and sobbing out a soft, "Thank you Yusuke..."

Don't cry too long my dear. My heart still beats with you. You are my greatest treasure...live on and be happy for me. Love, your dearest mother, Shiori.

End

 

 

Chapter Text

His spirit had been compared to that of a hatching egg.

That it was just waiting to burst forth, and grow into a new life. A good analogy at the time, but Kuwabara’s power was more like an anxious person trying to sleep.

His power slept and awoke fitfully to help Kuwabara out-but it never really was at it’s full potential those years ago against Sensui. No, his power needed a full night’s rest…to wake up.

And when Kuwabara’s power woke up, years after Sensui, years after Yusuke changed demon world…it had roared and thundered to life in to the shape of a great shield.

Because Kuwabara really wasn’t about fighting, as he was more about protecting.

End

Chapter Text

"Who are they?"

"Hmm?"

"The people in this...this..."

"That's a photograph."

"Whoa...that's ancient technology Kurama!"

"I've been alive a very, very, very long time."

"...Well who are these people?"

"Let me see...ah...my goodness I haven't seen this photo in so long...Where did you find it?"

"Uh here in this book."

"Thank you Kino...I like to keep pictures of these people in a special place."

"...Who are they Master Kurama?"

"My friends. My family. This one here is Hiei...he's still alive though he's been travelling as of late. He comes to see me every so often. The one in the back with the most excellent pompadour, is Kazuma Kuwabara. A human-"

"A HUMAN?"

"Yes...yes I was alive when humans were still around."

"WHOA! Did you eat him? OW!"

"No I did not eat him! Kuwabara was one of my dearest and most treasure friends! In fact, everyone in this picture is a part of my family."

"Geeze sorry Sensei...Don't gotta get so mad...Well who is this one."

"...That's Yusuke. He only died recently you know...about 100 years ago."

"Oh...was it...bad?"

"No, no...old age Kino. I too am near my end...and that's why I took on a student. I want to pass on my skills...I used to not be concerned with such things but...well I knew another woman who did just what i'm doing and I suppose I wanted to carry on the tradition."

"..."

"Don't make that face Kino, we all have to die sometime."

"...What happened to your human friend? Don't they die really, really fast?"

"He was reincarnated dozens of times...he wouldn't stay dead for more than a year before being reborn...he continued that cycle until he was well...hmmm. Well until Human became extinct. That happens to coincide with when Yusuke finally died too. Those two were inseparable."

"So this Yusuke guy kicked it because he wanted to be with his friend?"

"Yes."

"...Isn't that selfish? He left you and your Hiei friend behind!"

"...it's fine. Yusuke was very protective of Kuwabara. And to be honest I feel better knowing Kuwabara's not alone. When my time comes, I'm sure Hiei will be here for me."

"Wow..."

"..."

"Sensei?"

"Yes?"

"...Got any more pictures?"

"Yes. Lets find them."

End.

Chapter Text

“He’s got a funny walk…”

“Shhh! Rei! He’ll hear you!” A round faced girl hissed, holding a finger to her lips. Her eyes were comically wide, as she hissed at a young man about her age.

“He does!” Rei, a young boy with spiked hair and bruises all over his face, snapped in defense. He sneered at the girl, who sulked instantly as if wounded.

“Listen to Asaki for once will ya?” Another young man hissed, while he pet the round faced girl on top of her head. He was clearly the oldest out of the trio, and his words seemed to hold a little seniority. As he pet the girl's head, she instantly perked up smiling smugly at Rei. Rei in turn snorted, and flipped her off-but the gesture was ignored.

“Thank you Shino!” Asaki crowed, puffing up her chest.

 Rei rolled his eyes, “Whatever. Master walks funny! I'm not sating there's anything wrong with walking weird, but he does! We should ask about it!”

"It could be something he doesn't want to talk about," Shino sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose.

"And it could be a cool battle story!" Rei argued.

"Filled with painful memories, stupid!" Asaki interjected.

"Shut up!"

"No you shut up!"

"You guys!"

Someone cleared their throat and the three students clammed up immediately. For a few moments the three sat stiffly, praying that they heard wrong. Someone cleared their throat again, and mortified the three turned to look up into the face of their wrinkled teacher.

Kazuma Kuwabara.

“Do you know why I walk funny Rei?” Kuwabara asked, running a wrinkled hand through his wispy hair.

Rei swallowed hard and shook his head.

“When I was thirty a demon broke my hips. This was a small price to pay as I managed to hold off 400 low level demons, and two A class demons with the technique i’m trying to teach you. My bones never set right…but you know, a limp is a small price to pay when it comes to saving my own life and the saving the world don’t you think?”

Rei nodded.

“Now…get your asses up and I want all three of you to balance on your fingertips with nothing but a spark of your spiritual energy.”

His students groaned but Kuwabara smiled and tutted, “Now now, Yusuke Urameshi did it, and I did it too. We’re learning the spirit wave, and not how to spot a limp! So get to it!”

End

Chapter Text

Kurama logically knew that in this odd band of comrades he had accumulated, someone needed to be levelheaded. He also knew that statistically speaking, based off Kuwabara and Yusuke's grades, and Hiei's extreme apathy, that the role of calm and collected would most likely fall on him.

He did not however realize...just what type of role that really meant for him.

"Yusuke-YUSUKE! Get your finger out of Hiei's eye!"

"HE HIT ME IN THE DICK!"

"Hiei...did you hit Yusuke in the dick?"

"It's the only part he could reach-OW!"

"Kuwabara! Stay out of this! Hiei! Don't hit Kuwabara!...Now I ask again. Hiei...did you you hit Yusuke in the dick?"

"...Yes."

"Why Hiei?"

"Because Yusuke pissed me off!"

"Hiei! Hiei...that's no reason to hit Yusuke in the dick-YUSUKE! Don't make a face at Hiei! You're still in trouble too!"

"WHAT?! That's bullshit!"

"Haha!"

"Shut up Kuwabara!"

"AHHH!! Kurammmaaa!!!"

"YUSUKE GET OFF OF KUWABARA! THAT'S IT!"

Kurama threw up his hands, and physically pried Yusuke off of Kuwabara, who had been flailing as Yusuke tried to choke him out. With an annoyed snort, Kurama sat Yusuke down on one side of the room, before grabbing Kuwabara sharply by the ear.

"Ow!!"

Kuwabara had no choice but to follow Kurama as he led him by the ear to a chair on the opposite side of Yusuke. 

Finally Kurama pointed sharply at Hiei, and then to a chair near where Kurama had been working. Hiei looked like he might challenge Kurama's decision, but Kurama's eyes flashed, and Hiei slowly eased himself into the seat.

Kurama glared at his three friends before taking in a deep breath, "Be quiet for five minutes...and I won't sick some unknown, and terribly violent makai plant on you three!"

Kurama eased back into his seat, and closed his eyes, enjoying the silence for a moment.

Honestly, he worked with a bunch of children!

End

Chapter Text

“Okay let’s see here…let’s see…” Sensui muttered as he rolled Itsuki onto his back.

The demon who they had just finished battle with, had sunk his fangs into Itsuki’s waist with his dying breath. His jaws were locked deep in Itsuki’s flesh, and the fangs were sunk in deep.

“Ah…well…what a pickle,” Itsuki wheezed, blood gurgling past his lips.

Shinobu Sensui’s young face twisted up, “Don’t talk…I need…I need to pull these jaw apart and get this…get you out of this…”

Itsuki laughed darkly, “Be gentle my darling,” he ran a bloodied finger down Sesui’s cheek and smiled as the youth twitched.

Even half dead like this Itsuki could strike a twisted fear into this young boy’s heart. Itsuki loved Sensui…but he loved hurting him too. He couldn’t wait to be there for when Sensui broke.

“ I promise I’ll be gentle,” Sensui whispered as he braced himself to tear the dead demon’s jaws away from Itsuki.

Itsuki smiled, blood staining his teeth, “Me too love…me too.”

End

Chapter Text

Dorks don’t survive in this day and age. It’s just not possible. Well you do survive if you’re smart…but if you’re just a dork without the brains… If you’re just a fat kid, who liked comics, and cats, and had kittens on your lunchbox…

You’re fucked.

Kazuma Kuwabara learned this when he was eight, and some older boys took his cat Snowbell away…and they… they…

He screamed, and cried, and begged them not to!

She was alive, she was alive, she was alive! How could they hurt something like her? 

He had closed his eyes, and sobbed as he heard Snowbell’s pained meows. 

“Please no more! D-Don’t hurt Snowbell!”

The boys laughed as Kuwabara wept. 

His older sister came and rescued him. She grabbed the mean older boys by the shirt-and by the time she was done with them…well…

Two weeks later she would have to transfer to another school under protests of many angry parents. 

But after she was done thrashing those… those monsters she took the sobbing Kazuma home. 

Home was no better.

Home was his angry father grabbing him, and shaking him by the arms.

“Stop crying! STOP CRYING! They did this because you’re so…because you’re weak!”

Kuwabara had cried harder. Shizuru had screamed and yelled at her father, and with a well aimed slap made him let Kazuma go. The air had been tense, and Kuwabara knew in his heart, this had been all his fault.

His dad tried to apologize-but the damage was done.

Kuwabara didn’t go to school for a week. And when he did, he had a regular red lunch box. He stopped talking about cats…and he started to learn how to fight. 

He picked fights, and he never talked about cats again.

You can’t be a dork and survive.

When he was thirteen his sister dropped out of school, and started working at a hair salon.

“Why Shizuru…you could do so many other things!? Why settle for hair? You’re at the top of your class! You’re so smart! ” Kuwabara had exploded to her over dinner.

Dad wasn’t home.

Kuwabara had seen less and less of him since that day his father had yelled at him. He wasn’t sure if his Dad hated him, or just himself. 

Shizuru leveled her brother with a stare, “Because I like hair. I like making someone look beautiful with a new hair style. I’m doing this to make me happy, I don’t need to make anyone else happy. If I did something I didn’t like…then I would just by lying to myself. And I don’t do that.”

Each word was heavy, and ground into Kuwabara like an insult. 

Each word shamed him.

He couldn’t finish dinner that night.

Kuwabara snuck out instead, and went for a late night jog. 

Dorks don’t survive. He had to get stronger…right? He had to change. Right? He’d made the only decision he could!… Right? 

Why? Why did he have to change? What did he prove? What did he prove?

That he could be broken.

Kuwabara stopped hard in his tracks, and punched a nearby street lamp to banish his thoughts. The force of his his hit dented the lamp, and he backed away startled. Lately it seemed his strength would double at unexplained times…especially when he was upset.

‘Great…now I’m just a punk damaging property!’ Kuwabara thought sourly.

Something warm and soft settled against his leg. 

Opening his eyes, Kuwabara spotted a dirty kitten at his feet. 

The ball of fluff was filthy, and looked up at him. Their eyes were wide, and pleading. This little guy needed help. He or she was so dirty Kuwabara couldn’t tell what type of kitten it was…hell, he only really knew it was a kitten because it gave off a pathetic meow.

Kuwabara picked the kitten up.

The fluff-ball meowed again, and a hard lump formed in his throat.

He turned for home, kitten in tow.

He wondered if it was too late to go back being that eight year old dork.

End

Chapter Text

It didn’t have to be all bad. It didn’t have to always be, “You were hit by a car and your death is pointless let’s laugh about it!” 

It could be gentle. It could be easy. It could be peaceful.

Botan lived for those moments, where she could come in…and gently, easily, take someone away. It didn’t happen as often as she liked…but there were rare moments…when death was calm, and came easy.

Like today.

Mr. Edogawa was dying today. He was 94, and he’d been in bad health at the hospital for a month. His wife had died almost thirty years ago, and he now just wanted to be with her. He’d put his financial situation in order, had already said his good-byes…

He was ready.

Botan cleared her throat gently as she entered his hospital room through the window.

He turned to see her, and after a confused stare, suddenly smiled, “Ah…It’s time then?”

“Yes…any moment now,” Botan assured as she walked to the man’s bedside.

He took her hand, “My you’re lovely…You’d make my Yumiko quite jealous…did you pick her up too?”

“No…A handsome young man picked your wife up at her time,” Botan giggled.

Mr. Edogawa frowned, “Well i don’t like that!”

Botan laughed, and gently settled next to the older man, “Well lets cuddle…we’ll make her nice and jealous!”

He laughed, and took Botan’s hands, “Now that sounds fine! I’ll have my revenge on her! Ah….nice and cozy!”

“Mmm…Nice and cozy,” Botan agreed. 

She kissed his head, and in a few minutes he would be gone.

…There were times when her job was nice and easy. She lived for those small precious moments.

End

Chapter Text

Yusuke, Kurama, Kuwabara, and Hiei lay collapsed on an unknown battlefield some where within the Makai. What had meant to be a fun vacation where the group could all be reunited and enjoy one another's company, had turned in to a new enemy looking over to wreck everyone's happiness.

And currently, the four were laying defeated on the ground-their new enemy already gone and scoffing about what would happen next.

Though they lay defeated for now, the four were already thinking of their next move to stop the next greatest threat to mankind, demonkind, and all that fit in between.

But still...it really sucked to lose, no matter how temporary.

Kurama was trying to figure out how many broken ribs he had, when he realized someone was lightly petting his hair.

"...Who is doing that?"

"...Sorry that's me." 

"Kuwabara what the hell?" Kurama wheezed, too tired to roll over and face his friend. 

Laying face down in the mud, Kuwabara was just a few inches from where Kurama was collapsed. Kuwabara had outstretched his hand, his left two fingers broken, and now was gingerly petting Kurama's hair.

"I dunno...I guess i'm comforting myself through petting your hair?" Kuwabara offered.

There was a pause of silence, and then Yusuke and Hiei were both snickering.

Kurama blushed, took in a deep breath, and then slowly released it.

A moment later, another hand joined in.

"Okay, Now who is that?"

"...Me."

"HIEI."

"...If you're letting him, I get to do it too. I've known you longer."

"Oh my god, what a brat!" Yusuke laughed, and he too rolled over on his stomach, reached out and began to stroke Kurama's hair.

Kurama wanted to say he was annoyed...but to be honest he was quite soothed by his friend's gentle pets.

"If we weren't laying here like this, I would kick all your asses," Kurama proclaimed.

"Yeah, whatever!" Yusuke snorted.

The group snickered, and fell into an easy silence. For now they were defeated, but soon they'd get up, and try again. They were team Urameshi, and they didn't know when to quit. Soon their enemy would learn, their fatal flaw had been leaving them alive and together. Because together, they could do anything. (Even pet a fearsome fox-demon.)

End

Chapter Text

Chu cradled his head in his hands, his head throbbing painfully. The hangover was largely to blame for his suffering, but his own stupidity was also giving him quite the headache.

Last night, he’d come across some kid about to be murdered, and he’d decided not only to rescue the kid but bring him home. Why couldn’t he have minded his own business?

What the hell had he been thinking? He wasn’t the rescuing type, and he sure as hell wasn’t gonna be this kids Daddy, or whatever. 

If he was completely honest, saving the kid wasn’t a total bad idea. Chu hated to see weak guys get taken advantage of, but why the hell did he bring the kid home?

Surely this must have been the 100 year old scotch’s idea-because it wasn’t his!

…What the hell would he do with a kid? And better yet…how would he get rid of it?

Something was pushing against his arm, interrupting his thoughts.

Peeking through his hands, the kid he’d rescued last night held a plate out to him. At first Chu thought the brat was asking for food, but when Chu took a better look he realized that the plate already had a sandwich on it. 

It looked pretty good too!

“…You make this?” Chu asked taking the plate.

“Yeah…hold on,” the kid scampered off, and returned with a large drink. It was red liquid, and with a couple carrots sticking out of it. The drink’s vessel wasn’t a cup, but a vase that Chu has acquired somehow. Chu wasn’t sure where he got the vase, but it was one of the many weird oddities he kept in his pantry.

Tasting the drink, Chu perked up as he recognized the beverage, “This is a bloody mary!”

“Yeah you looked like you could use some hair of the dog,” The kid answered with a careless shrug.

‘Holy shit I love this kid!’ Chu mentally cheered as he began to guzzle half of the bloody mary.

Looking at the kid now, Chu was impressed that the kid didn’t seem afraid, nor did he look like he was expecting something from Chu. His clothes were a bit dirty, he had a large pink and yellow hat the clashed with everything the kid wore, and he had a nasty scar on his cheek. It looked fresh…maybe over a week old. Overall, the kid looked small and underfed, but he stood before Chu unafraid, and even confidant.

This kid was kinda interesting.

“I didn’t know I had the ingredients for a bloody mary,” Chu admitted after drinking most of the well made cocktail.

“You didn’t. I had some money and went out and got a few things. As a thank you,” The kid explained, disappearing in to Chu’s kitchen again. When he came back, he had a grubby looking notebook, and a mostly empty box of crayons.

As calmly as he pleased, he sat next to Chu and began drawing an ogre getting his head cut off.

Chu blinked, stumped at how to respond and ate his meal in silence.

“So…what’s your name?” Chu asked after he’d finished everything. He felt quite refreshed from his meal, and the bloody mary eased the sting of his hangover.

“What’s yours?” the boy sassed without even looking up.

Chu blinked, and after a moment threw back his head and laughed, surprised and delighted by the boy’s spunk.

“Boy you’re a ballsy one! I’m Chu! Now come on kid, what’s yours!” He slapped his hand hard on the kids back, the boy almost toppling over on to the floor.

“It’s Rinku! Take it easy you drunk!”

Chu snickered. 

This kid was amusing as hell! He acted so tough!

This wasn’t so bad. He could handle someone who didn’t quite act like a kid. In fact, so far it seemed like kids just acted like tiny drunks. Chu could handle that.

Taking a crayon stub, Chu began drawing on his coffee table. The kids notebook looked pretty shabby, so he didn’t want to ask for a page. Besides, Chu’s coffee table was a piece of shit. 

Rinku had stopped his own drawing, and looked at Chu in surprise. He watched for a long moment as Chu began drawing flames around the edge of his table. The boy hesitated, but after a moment he too began to draw all over Chu’s coffee table.

They did that for a while in a surprisingly easy comfortable silence, before Chu asked, “So what were you doing last night with those unsavory sorts?”

“They owned me. But I was tired of that, so I was leaving!” Rinku answered simply.

Chu’s lips tightened. Ah. Slavery wasn’t too uncommon in these parts, but it never sat right with Chu. Chu took another look at the kid. What do you do with a kid? Rinku had some fighting strength…untapped, but it was there. The kid was good in the kitchen-or at least with alcohol. But still…what uses do you get out of kid?

Chu stopped his thoughts from going any further. He decided he really didn’t want to know. Rinku seemed alright, and that was enough. It wasn’t his business to question what the kid might have been going through.

Trying to ignore the uncomfortable lump in his throat, Chu shrugged, “So I’ve technically got stolen property huh? Well…that’s fine. I ain’t gonna own you, or take you back…a fella who can make a good drink like you has the right to be free and do whatever he wants.”

Rinku smiled, but said nothing. His eyes were focused on drawing bloody battle scenes across Chu’s table.

“…So that scar…?” Chu pointed to the kid’s cheek.

“Used to be a serial number,” Rinku admitted, reaching for the green crayon.

“So you gave it to yourself?” Chu continued to prod.

“Yeah. It was easy,” Rinku boasted.

Chu rubbed the bridge of his nose absently. He had a green tattoo across his face, covering up his own bad memories He had gotten the tattoo to hide a mark he’d rather not remember. He admired the kid for wishing the same and even go as far as self mutilation.

The kid was pretty tough.

“Well shit…scars are kinda ugly on faces. Especially when wanting to attract the fairer sex! Come on. Lets go get you something manly!” Chu drawled as he got to his feet. When at his full height, he peered down and admired their handy work on his coffee table.

Rinku was a much better artist admittedly.

Rinku was looking up at Chu, eyes squinted in an exaggerated manner. 

“Something manly?” The kid asked suspiciously, scrunching up his face further. 

Chu laughed at the kids expression, and plucked the boy right off the ground. He squirmed in surprise for a moment, but too Rinku’s credit, he didn’t cry out. Chu plopped the boy on his shoulder, and headed for the door.

“What are we doing?” Rinku asked, his little body tense on Chu’s shoulder.

“You’re getting you something manly! We’re getting you a tat! Lets cover up that scar. And while we’re at it lets get you new clothes. Ya look gross.”

“You look gross!” Rinku snapped back.

Chu laughed in response, crowing, “Nah, nah! I look handsomely disheveled. You look like a street rat! We’ll get you fixed up!”

“I don’t have any money! The money I had, I stole in case you haven’t figured that part out-and I used it all up paying you back for saving me last night!!”

“Well I have money. We’ll get you clothes, a tattoo, and whatever else you need to start looking like a tough little bad ass, and you can pay me back. But that means you stick with me until you pay me back!”

“…And after that?” Rinku asked lowly.

“…You can stay until you get sick of me.Or if you keep me from getting a lady friend in the sack. Don’t interrupt my night time cuddles with woman.”

“…You mean sex?”

“Sex is an adult activity, and a dirty word for little boys like ya’self!”

“Oh Jesus…”

“Enough of this! What tattoo you want? I know a few places! They’ll get you lookin’ real rough!”

“…How about stars?”

“STARS? Stars?Ugh…stars…Well…uh…geeze…well I guess that could be cool.”

They argued, bickered, and talked the rest of the way to a shabby tattoo parlor.

Chu laughed as Rinku cried out from the first sting of of the needle against his skin. But Rinku was delighted to hear from the tattoo artist that Chu had been much older when he got his tattoo, and had cried and hollered much louder.

Rinku was given clothes, shoes, and various other knick knacks until Chu had admittedly spent a small fortune on the kid.

But Rinku was clever Chu learned, and sooner rather than later, Rinku actually had managed to pay Chu back in full.

Rinku never left. 

Chu would say it was because Rinku never got annoying. But when Chu was honest, late at night with his feet up on a coffee table covered in scribbles, and a little sleeping bundle tucked into his side… Well it was clear Chu would never be able to handle being alone again.

End

Chapter Text

You can't assume to know someone.

It's not possible to meet someone in the middle of their life and assume you can learn everything about them in that single instant. Everyone had something to hide...

And For Risho it was her.

He could still smell the scent of her hair, and feel her body against his. If he closed his eyes, he could hear her whisper her name. In the dark hours of the night he'd dream of her, beautiful and pure. And with a touch, or a breath, she'd turn to ash. His dreams always ended so ugly, and he would wake up screaming her name. 

He had been stupid to think he could have kept this to himself now that he was in a group.

Sooner or later-they heard him... or at least one of them did.

"Jesus! You alright there?" 

The hazy form of Jin hovered before him.

"What?" Risho asked, the regular nightmare still swirling though his mind.

"You were screamin'! An' hollerin' some girl's name-"

Risho shoved Jin, pressing hard against his new team mate, "Be quiet. It was...It was nothing."

Risho looked around trying to see if he'd woken anyone else. Luckily, only Jin seemed to have heard.

Risho glanced at Jin's long ears, 'Those fucking ears...that's probably why he heard me.'

Jin cocked his head, peering at Risho curiously, "...So who is-"

Risho slapped his hand over Jin's mouth, "Don't you fucking say it!" Risho hissed, red color flooding his pale cheeks, "Just...Just let it go. Don't mention this...this to anyone. Ever."

Jin blinked, wide-eyed and confused as Risho let him go.

"...You...we can...talk about it...if ye need to. We're all teammates now...after the same things," Jin attempted slowly.

Risho laughed bitterly, "We're here together because we have the same goals. Not because we're friends. We need to work together...not spill secrets like pathetic little girls. This night never happened. Just forget about what you heard."

Risho walked away to settle back down for the night.

He closed his eyes tight trying to ignore that this moment had ever happened. He closed his eyes tighter when Jin settled next to him a few minutes later. He continued to ignore any offer of help or camaraderie when his new teammates offered him any help.

Too stuck in his memories of the ghost of a face that was long gone, Risho would continue to refuse the help, and the friendship.

When he was defeated, by a boy driven by love, he'd think back to that night, to his nightmares of her, and wonder if things would be different if he'd taken Jin's outstretched hand.

End

Chapter Text

“I’ve been looking forward to this day,” A demoness drawled, grinning cheekily at Yusuke, Kurama, and Kuwabara.

They were her three, “guests,” for the day. Currently they were enjoying being tied to steel tables, and listening to a woman high on herself, drone on and on about her great plot to take over mankind. You know, the usual favorite past time activity spent by captive guests. 

“Ughhhhh Shut upppp!” Yusuke moaned, interrupting the woman’s speech.

“Now, now! You’re not gonna interrupt this day! Not on this frabjous day, the day where your territory becomes mine!”

“Okay look if you’re gonna kill us, kill us-but don’t make up weird words!,” Kuwabara snipped, rolling his eyes with annoyance.

“Yeah!” Yusuke agreed.

The demoness blinked, and stuttered, “W-what do you mean?”

“They are probably referring to your usage of the word, ‘Frabjous.’ “ Kurama explained, shrugging his shoulders.

“But…but that’s a read world!” She gasped, hand on her chest as if personally affronted by Yusuke and Kuwabara’s disbelief.

“No it’s not!” Kuwabara and Yusuke argued, voices ringing in unison.

“Now, now you two… it is indeed a real word,” Kurama admitted, his tone taking on that of a patient teacher, “But her usage of the word is ridiculous. She is expecting for you two young men, to understand a word, that is technically not even a real word. It is in fact, a representation of literary nonsense, which the inventor of that word, Lewis Carroll, is so famous for. She’s just using it to feel superior, when all she is really doing, is making an ass of herself.”

There was a moment of silence when Yusuke howled with delight, Kuwabara crying out, “OH SNAP! You just got burned!” 

Both street punks laughed and congratulated Kurama on his intellect in the art of, “Sass and Shade.”

“SHUT UP!” The demoness shouted, her face red from embarrassment, “It doesn’t matter what any of you say! As it stands, your four are my prisoners-waitaminute.”

Her head jerked, as she suddenly did a head count. She had not caught all four of the them, by her count there were only three.

“Wait! Where’s the little one?!” 

She had barely manged to squawk the questions when a sword was placed to the back of her neck. 

Hiei smirked from behind her, “Oh frabjous day…I’ve caught an annoying loud mouth.

“Yeah Hiei!”

“Nicely put!”

“I don’t care what you say Kurama, that can’t really be a word!”

End

Chapter Text

Kuwabara grabbed a pair of sneakers from his closet, and headed for the kitchen. He wanted a quick piece of toast and he’d be out the door headed for Genkai’s. He was meeting up with Yusuke, Yukina, Kurama, and maybe Hiei.

Yusuke was going to have Kuwabara as a co-owener of Genkai’s shrine, and with some help from Kurama, they planned to get through all the legal paper work. 

This was mainly done, so Yukina could move out of Kuwabara’s home. Living here with him, and more specifically Kuwabara’s dad, had been a bad decision. It was going to be much safer for Yukina at the the shrine…and if all things worked out, Shizuru and Kuwabara were going to be joining her.

They just had to get the paperwork out of the way.

Kuwabara just maned to get put a piece of bread in the toaster when Kuwabara’s father, Koichi Kuwabara appeared leaning heavily against the door frame. He was smiling, his trademark sunglasses on his face, and bottle in his hand. He took a sip, and Kuwabara’s lip curled up in an angry sneer.

“Heya Kazuma m’boy…where you goin’?”

“Out.” Kuwabara answered vaguely.

Koichi nodded, rubbing a hand over the back of his head. He took another sip of his bottled beverage, and then with surprising speed, lashed out and caught Kuwabara by the ear pulling it painfully hard, “Why so cold Kazuma?”

Kuwabara’s eyes watered at the familiar pain, and his mouth set in a thin line. 

“You tried to crawl in to bed with Yukina last friday. Remember that?”

“Ah…that…that was nothin’. I wasn’t gonna do anything,” Koichi’s words sounded light, and even friendly. He was good at playing the friendly father…even when he was balls to the wall shit-faced.

He tugged Kuwabara’s ear again, and Kuwabara’s eyes watered painfully.

“Hey dad…” Kuwabara hissed, “There’s something you should know…”

“Yeah? Yeah? What is that?” Koichi asked, grinning, and raising his chin threateningly to his son. 

“I’m not a scared thirteen year old boy anymore!” Kuwabara spat at, and maliciously slammed his fist into his father’s stomach.

Kuwabara’s ear was released, and he ducked his head, dodging his father’s drunken slap. Pulling back his left fist, he struck his father again in the stomach, and then with his right, punched Koichi in the face.

The man fell to his knees, his sunglasses shattered.

Kuwabara’s toast, popped up from the toaster.

Kuwabara’s face twitched and his lips curled cruelly. He was so filled with anger he felt he couldn’t control himself.

“Why’d you have to come back!? Shizuru and I were fine on our own when you left… and then you had to show back up! Well we’re not kids anymore, so stay away from my friends, and stay the hell away from me!”

Kuwabara snatched his toast, his father coughing weekly in response.

Kuwabara had been named Kazuma by his mother. He assumed it was in the hope that he would be everything his father had failed to be. An honorable man. Stepping over the mess of the man, that used to strike fear into his heart, Kuwabara went to go meet up with his friends.

And if they asked about Kuwabara’s red ear, or shaking fists Kuwabara would laugh it off and make up an excuse. Kuwabara wasn’t ready to share this yet with his friends…

But he was getting stronger. And soon he’d be ready to talk and tell the truth about his so called "Father."

End

Chapter Text

Yusuke was waiting on the porch at his shrine. He checked his watch. It was almost time for him to show up. This was normally the time, and normally the date his best friend would show up.

“I wonder what you’ll look like this time…?” Yusuke mused to himself.

Kurama and Hiei couldn’t make it today. 

They normally would be here with Yusuke, waiting to see an old friend. But hey, you can’t always plan for everything.

Yusuke looked down at an old photograph in his hand. This particular image had been printed and reprinted many times. The picture was well over a thousand years after all…

“I wonder what you look like… Will you be a girl or a boy?” Yusuke asked the photo, as if he expected an answer. “What will still be the same…your eyes, your smile…your hair. Gotta say I miss the pomp.”

Yusuke sighed. Kuwabara had been dead for over a thousand years. But he’d been reborn eleven times now. This next time, would be Kuwabara’s 12th life. 

Kuwabara’s looks and gender often varied. Sometime his personality was even a little different. Like his 8th life, where Kuwabara was Naomi Kuwabara, and she was an excellent mathematician and preferred books to fighting. She could still scrap, but lord help Yusuke if she didn’t get to do her math homework. Despite any outward differences, any small nuances in Kuwabara’s traits, Kuwabara’s spirit-his soul was always the same.

Kuwabara was always Kuwabara.

And if Yusuke waited between fifteen and thirty years, Kuwabara in one form or the other, would always return to Genkai’s shrine. And he would always know exactly who Yusuke, Kurama, and Hiei were.

No doubt a little gift from Koenma.

The sound of meowing cats caught Yusuke’s attention, shifting his focus. He looked up briefly wondering if for once, Kuwabara had been reborn as a cat. 

Yusuke was surprised to see a small boy, no older than four, waddling toward him. He had bright copper hair, and chubby cheeks. He had a cat under each arm, and cat in the front pocket of his overalls. When he spotted Yusuke, he let out a childish giggle, and ran as fast as he could for him.

Yusuke caught the little boy before he could trip into his lap, and hoisted him up.

“Oh…hey Kuwabara…don’t you think you’re a little early to be visiting here?”

The boy giggled swinging his legs, “No!”

Yusuke grinned wide, “Ya know…me neither.”

Chapter Text

“OW HOLY SHIT!”

“OH. OH FUCK. OH MAN. I’M SO-”

“AHHG! GOD I TASTE PENNIES! Is that blood? OH MY GOD THAT’S BLOOD!”

“Kuwabara! MAN! I am so-so-SOOOO sorry!”

“YOU CAN’T JUST BREAK SOMEONE’S NOSE MAN!”

“Look it’s-HOLD STILL-it’s not broken!! Your nose would look…Oh. Well…yeah. No. No, I broke your nose.”

“FUCK!”

“Well you don’t just tickle a guy!”

“JESUS.”

“Ah come on Kuwabara! I’m a demon! I’m a street punk! What about any of that information, told you I would like to be tickled!?”

End

Chapter Text

Yusuke was used to moving.

Before he was eight, he’d moved into a new house, or apartment, nine separate times.

There were times when they were on their own, but on occasion they’d move in with some man his mother had met. 

No matter how good things were at first, sooner or later Yusuke and his mom would have to pick up and leave. The house got burned down, the apartment’s landlord was creepy, mom got in a little trouble with the police again, mom’s new boyfriend was already married…

The list went on and on…

But Yusuke was grateful, because no matter how many times they moved, his mother always tried to stay near Keiko’s neighborhood.

End

Chapter Text

“What the hell did you just DO to me?!”

“Hiei...whoa. Calm down. Calm-”

“WHAT DID YOU DO??”

“HIEI! PUT DOWN THE KNIFE! It’s-it’s a...it’s a game man! Chill!”

“You have TEN seconds to run.”

“It’ was just a water balloon!”

“TEN.”

“It’s fun to do! In heat! In the hot-hot!”

“Nine.”

“Oh my god-it’s just water! WATER!”

“Eight.”

Before the word, ‘eight,’ had even left Hiei’s mouth, Yusuke ran screaming for help through Genkai’s shrine. Trying to teach Hiei the childhood game of a water fight, had been a bad idea.

End

Chapter Text

Kurama looked up, as Kuwabara stumbled into Genkai's shrine, his arms heavily laden with books.

"How was your first day of college?" Kurama asked, smiling warmly at Kuwabara.

Kuwabara grunted in response, and tossed his books down on the floor, next to where the shoes were normally put. With sagged shoulders he marched over to where Kurama sat, and flopped next to Kurama, groaning loudly.

"Oh my God Kurama! I'm not made for school!"

"Now, now...that's not true," Kurama chuckled, eyes dancing over Kuwabara's flopped over body. He'd never seen the giant of the man throw himself down on the floor before, and it was quite amusing.

"But it issssss!" Kuwabara whined, kicking his legs in a mock tantrum.

Kurama laughed, and rubbed Kuwabara's back, trying to soothe the large man.

"I'm sure it was rough, but it's what you wanted! To continue to further your education! You're doing it Kazuma! You should be proud!"

"My brain is mush," Kuwabara insisted, his voice taking a sulky lilt.

"No-"

"YES!"

"No-"

"Yesssss!!!"

Kurama laughed again, too amused to properly comfort Kuwabara. 

Kuwabara didn't seem to mind, Kurama's laughter comforting him and relaxing him from his rough school day.

"Well...is there anything I can do to make the day better?" Kurama asked fluffing Kuwabara's pompadour with an affectionate touch.

"...Help me prank Urameshi in some terrible fashion?" Kuwabara asked, rolling over on to his back so he could properly look Kurama in the eye.

Kurama grinned, his smile splitting his face from ear to ear, "Well...if it'll make you feel better!"

"Alright!"

"And after Yusuke's done beating you to a pulp lets take a look at your homework load shall we?"

End

Chapter Text

"Hiei...stop," Kurama sighed as he watched his shorter comrade rifling around Kuwabara's apartment.

Hiei grunted in response at Kurama and continued to go through Kuwabara's desk as if he hadn't heard a word Kurama said. He pulled out a what appeared to be a dirty magazine and opened it up, a centerfold unfolding from the book. Hiei tilted his head and snorted, "Kuwabara seems to like the bigger muscular type."

Ears glowing red, Kurama snatched the magazine away from Hiei. "Hiei! Stop! Stop. Can't you just sit here and wait for Kuwabara and Yusuke-quietly? Don't go through all of Kuwabara's stuff!"

As Kurama lectured Hiei continue to ignore him, and rummaged through the same desk drawer, pulling out a few more magazines. Every magazine featured a larger man, posing, and with a similar body shape to Kuwabara's. Hiei thumbed through the magazines, squinting as he looked at each buff figure.

"I didn't think Kuwabara was in to people his size. He seems to like the smaller type if his attraction to every blue haired female is telling-"

Kurama put a hand over Hiei's mouth, taking in an annoyed breath. Hiei was in a rather grumpy, snarky mood today, and was setting Kurama's nerves on end. Taking in a calming breath, Kurama snuck a peak at the aforementioned magazines and promptly threw up his hands recognition lighting over his face, "Hiei! These aren't dirty magazines! Their lifting magazines!"

Hiei made a face, clearly not understanding what Kurama was telling him.

Snatching them up, Kurama flipped through a few pages. "These are body building magazines! Theses give diet tips, and weight exercises... Kuwabara must use these to help maintain his body!"

"...Or he beats off to them," Hiei sniped.

Kurama smacked Hiei with the magazines and then shoved them back in to Kuwabara's desk.

"Stop being so nosy! I don't know what's gotten in to you today!"

"We've been here an hour, waiting for Kuwabara and Yusuke so we could receive some annoying mission on behalf of the god in diapers -- And I, for one, am tired of waiting!" Hiei snapped sourly, going to Kuwabara's closet and throwing it open. "So if I'm to wait, trapped here, I'm going to entertain myself! And I think going through all of the human's junk is amusement enough!"

"Going through Kuwabara's things is not a proper way to keep yourself amused!" Kurama argued, grabbing Hiei by the shoulders.

"Yes. It. Is!" Hiei ground out, roughly jerking his arm away from Kurama.

However, Hiei jerked his arm a little rougher than intended, and the pair stumbled forward into Kuwabara's closet, roughly collapsing in a tangled mess on Kuwabara's shoes. Hiei was the unluckiest our of the pair and was sandwiched between Kuwabara's shoes, and Kurama's full weight.

"GET OFF ME!"

"Oh shut up Hiei! This is your fault!" Kurama hissed, struggling to get up as he tangled himself in a long jacket hanging overhead. He fell back in a heap after little success from freeing himself, but this time managed to not fall on top of Hiei. The jostling around had tipped a shoe box off of the highest shelf in Kuwabara's closet, the contents spilling out on Kurama's lap. 

Both Hiei and Kurama looked down at the spilled contents and were surprised to see photos of Kuwabara, naked.

And he was not just simply naked-oh no. He was posed in various ways, that could only be described, as provocative. His hands often were placed in a way that invited the viewer to tour Kuwabara's body, and take in all Kuwabara had to present. And in many a photo, Kuwabara bore it all. His legs spread open to reveal his massive girth, his mouth open, while a tongue ran along his upper lip. His gaze was confidant, inviting... these pictures of Kuwabara were so very unlike the Kuwabara Kurama and Hiei knew.

"...What?" Kurana sputtered, the cogs of his mind jamming as his eyes danced over several images of Kuwabara posing provocatively.

Hiei picked up a photo and held it out to Kurama, "This one has Yusuke in it."

It was a simple statement...but indeed there Yusuke was. He was holding the camera at an awkward angle, and biting down on Kuwabara's chest, his brown eyes locked on Kuwabara's face. Kuwabara's eyes were also locked on Yusuke's and his hands were reaching for Yusuke. While this picture actually showed very little nudity, the gaze the two men in the photo were holding, was completely intimate. Looking at the photo, made one feel they were intruding on a very private scene. 

"Huh...well I guessed as much," Hiei said coolly, as he turned the photo back towards him.

Before Kurama's mind could even fully register what Hiei was saying, the sound of Kuwabara and Yusuke's voices began to draw near to Kuwabara's bed room. Any moment, Yusuke and Kuwabara would open the door and see Hiei and Kurama sitting in the closet. Covered in very private photos. Photos that were clearly never meant to be seen by Hiei or Kurama! Panic taking firm grasp of Kurama, the red head shot out, practically trampling Hiei in his rush to close the closet door. He'd managed to just shut the door and wiggle off his angry friend, when Kuwabara and Yusuke entered the room. From the sounds they were making, it sounded like the pair of them were kissing.

"Come on Kuwabara..." Yusuke's voice whined. There was a slightly wet sound, the sound of a brief and intense kiss before Yusuke's voice purred out, "Just a quickie!"

"Urameshi..." Kuwabara's voice came next, sounding quite disappointed, "Look I want to, but Koenma is supposed to meet us here, and then Kurama and Hiei..."

There was a rough sound, and then the sound of Kuwabara's bed springs creaking. Someone had been pushed back on Kuwabara's bed.

"I don't care. Let them walk in on us," Yusuke snickered, "You'd like it if they did."

Kuwabara made a strangled sound, but was cut off, his complaints swallowed up.

Kurama stared wide-eyed at Hiei, who seemed to be intently listening to the goings on outside the closet. His brows were raised in surprise, but other than that he showed no outward sign of being shocked by what he was hearing.

"I'd rather...talk to them first...before they walk in..." Kuwabara's voice was finally back, though now breathless and sounding an octave higher. "If they saw us in this state it'd be quite a-ahh! Ahhhh Yusu...."

From the rustling sounds, Yusuke was doing something to Kuwabara.

"This is what you always say...but admit it. You get all hot and bothered by sneaking around!" Yusuke laughed, his voice teasing.

"Sh-Shut up! I-I don't!" Kuwabara protested.

His words broke off into a moan, and for several seconds all that could be heard was the sound of fabric shifting, and a soft fleshy sound.

"You totally do," Yusuke insisted, "You're a fucking minx hiding behind an honor code..." Yusuke was laughing, but it was friendly and not mocking, "You love the risk of almost getting caught making out...you know Kurama and Hiei won't give a shit if we're together... but you like when I sneak around and press you against a wall. You love to be pulled behind closed doors and devoured...You love to feel my hands on your body when you know the others are nearby... You love us being a pair of hornballs who can't keep away from each other. You. Love. It."  

Yusuke placed a kiss some where on Kuwabara's body with his last three words, each kiss loud and echoing.

Kurama glowed red as Kuwabara's answer to Yusuke's claims, was a low moan.

"...Well. He's touching Kuwabara a lot," Hiei whispered, tone light, as if his friends weren't getting ready to fuck in the next room.

Kurama's hands shot out and he grabbed Hiei quickly and quietly, clamping a hand over Hiei's forehead.

"You're watching?!" Kurama whispered, his voice shaking despite how low he was keeping it.

"No. I can't fucking see a thing with the bandage over my eye, I'm just listening.... But if you remove your hand, I could-"

"No!" Kurama hissed directly into Hiei's ear, the shorter demon wincing.

"Why do you want to spy on them?! You've gotten us into enough trouble!" Kurama whispered, trying to ignore the sounds of two of his best friends kissing, and the continued dirty talk.

"...I dunno. It's kind of funny," Hiei admitted with a careless shrug.

Kurama slumped back against the pile of shoes, unable to fathom what Hiei had just said and what was happening in the room outside the closet he was currently stuck in. He expected this sort of flippant behavior from Yusuke, not Hiei!

"Really Hiei? Funny?" Kurama hissed, hands going to his ears as he heard someone shriek from beyond the closet door. The cry was too lustful to determine if it had been Kuwabara, or Yusuke.

Hiei shrugged again, "I always thought they were going at it...this just confirms it."

Kurama quirked up his eyebrows, surprised to hear Hiei's answer. "You thought they were together? Why?"

Hiei shrugged for the umpteenth time, settling back against his own pile of shoes, idly picking up the photos that had spilled from the shoe box. "They are very protective of one another. Toguro noticed it, Sensui noticed it...I just thought they were already a mated pair."

Kurama blinked and almost laughed. For a moment, Kurama had forgotten Hiei had lived primarily in the demon realm. He clamped a hand over his mouth just in time, remembering where he was and the current situation he was in. "Humans have different mating rituals than demons... two men getting together isn't as likely as it is in the demon realm-"

Kuwabara moaned loudly from beyond the closet door.

"It looks like they do in this case," Hiei said with an impudent wave of his hand.

Kurama could only cover his eyes as a red heat overtook his face. Kurama could admit that if this was anybody else, this scenario might be quite funny. But Kurama was having trouble finding the humor at being stuck in a closet, covered in nude photos of his best friends, while said best friends were banging in the next room. Kurama was looking forward to getting this experience over with so that he could look back at this as a fond memory and laugh.

"Fuck Urameshi..." Kuwabara's voice was rough and pleading, "Just...just..."

"Just what Kuwabara?" Came Yusuke's teasing voice.

There was a clapping sound, that was most likely Yusuke's hand on Kuwabara's ass. 

"Fuck!" Kuwabara whined, "Just put it in me!"

"Put what in you exactly?"

Kuwabara whined in annoyance, his breath hitching, "Yusuke. Please...I need your..." Kuwabara's words grew soft and small. So quiet that Kurama and Hiei couldn't hear exactly what was said. After a moment, there was a shift on the bed, and Yusuke was laughing. He sounded free of worry, and truly happy. It was a familiar laugh, one Kurama and Hiei often heard when Yusuke was around Kuwabara. It was a natural laugh, and so easy and free that Kuwabara responded with his own laughter.

Kurama really wished he wasn't ease dropping on something so intimate.

Hiei cracked open the closet, to Kurama's horror... and intense curiosity. Hiei pressed an eye to the crack, and remained silent, intently watching the scene beyond the closet. Kurama's curiosity soon overruled his fears, and soon the fox was leaned against the closet door, peering through the crack, alongside Hiei.

Yusuke and Kuwabara's clothes were scattered on the ground. It looked as if the two hadn't been very careful upon their entrance... The way their clothes were scattered about suggested they'd started to strip as soon as they'd entered Kuwabara's room. Kuwabara was curled on his side, looking like a very satisfied, relaxed cat. His face was flushed and his eyes half closed, and his curls spilled from his once perfect pompadour. There were soft red marks on his throat, chest, stomach and thighs. One arm was curled under his pillows, while his other hand gripped the flesh of his left ass cheek, spreading himself suggestively.

Yusuke was kneeling just behind Kuwabara, scratch marks on his back, and his hair ruffled from Kuwabara's eager hands. His eyes were only for Kuwabara and shone in a way that expressed his deep love and devotion. His left hand held his erect dick, slowly stroking it, his member pulsing beneath his fingertips. His right hand was trailing up Kuwabara's pale leg, his golden skin standing out against Kuwabara's alabaster color. Yusuke was poised and ready to be with his lover, and from his stance, was well practiced in lovemaking with his best friend.

"Hey...I love you man," Yusuke said suddenly, leaning closer to Kuwabara, a dopey grin on his face.

Kuwabara grinned broadly at Yusuke, inclining his head back, "I love you too... now hurry up and fuck me."

"I shouldn't be looking at this," Kurama whispered, face flushed as one or two dirty thoughts danced through his head.

"Ugh, neither should I," Hiei whispered back his tone a little more honest than Kurama's half-hearted one.

Neither Hiei or Kurama pulled away from the crack at the door. 

Yusuke trailed his hand up the back of Kuwabara's leg, and had just sunk the hand into the flesh of his hip, when Koenma appeared in the middle of the room.

"Hey sorry I'm late. Now! About that missio-ONNNNOHMYGOD! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"

"HOLY SHIT!"

"Koenma! Koenma get out!"

Hiei perked up, an evil little glint flashing in his eyes, "Oh now this is amusing!"

Kurama said nothing, but kept a hand clamped over his mouth as Koenma shrieked over what he had just walked in on.

"YO-You two! YOU TWO!!!" Koenma held his arms out in front of him, his head swiveling between the irritated Yusuke and the embarrassed, bright red, Kuwabara. "YOU TWO! What-what-what-WHATTT?!"

"J-just g-g-get out!" Kuwabara squeaked, his eyes wide, and his hands flailing to cover himself with a pillow.

Yusuke frowned grouchily, "Hey man -- Koenma. Koenma. Shut the fuck up. Can you get out. I'm -- Koenma! I'm trying to get my dick wet here!"

"YUSUKE!?" Both Koenma and Kuwabara snapped.

"WHAT!? It's true!"

As the chaos unfurled in Kuwabara's bedroom, Kurama opened the closet slowly. He shot Hiei a sharp look, and then proceeded to crawl out of the closet on all fours. Hiei watched the chaos of the outed lovers for a moment longer, before he too crawled after Kurama. As the three argued, screamed, and shrieked over Koenma's interruption, Kurama and Hiei managed to escape out into Kuwabara's living room unseen.

Kurama got to his feet and then swiftly headed for the exit. "Lets get out of here. We're so lucky. I would not have wanted to have to wait until they were asleep to sneak out!"

Hiei shrugged, a smirk pasted firmly on his face, "I'm looking forward to holding everything I've seen today over their heads for years to come."

Kurama had nothing to say in response, but just silently thanked his lucky stars for being able to escape Kuwabara's closet.

End

 

Chapter Text

She was eighteen, and he was two... the most important man in her life.

Atsuko watched as her child played in the sand box, a toy pail and shovel in his hand.

Across the park, on another bench, three moms sat together in close quarters. They shot Atsuko dirty looks and whispered to each other, pointing at her as if she was some sort of nasty thing that needed to be removed.

Well...to them she probably had no right to be at the, 'family park.' A single, unwed teenaged mother and her bastard son.

Atsuko sneered at the woman, and brought two fingers to her lips. Slipping her tongue between her fingers, she waggled it suggestively at them, and was very satisfied to hear squeals of disgusts. They sat there on their bench, huffing and puffing in anger, but made no move towards her. Their were rumors that she ran with Yakuza, and all sorts of unsavory sort. Atsuko did indeed keep rough company, it kept silly ninnies like those three gossiping birds at bay. Though it did make it hard for Atsuko to find female friends...

'Fuck 'em,' Atsuko thought with a smirk, confidant that she could bang every one of their husbands, steal their hard earned cash, and be a good provider for her son. She didn't need some silly 'mom's committee' snubbing her-nor did she need their approval. Her parents had told her to hit the road when she got pregnant, and the father of her baby had flown the coop as soon as she told him. But she could do it all on her own...take care of herself and Yusuke.

She looked back to her child. He sat quietly sifting sand, brown eyes curiously looking at the pile of sand he had so far. She smiled wondering what that little tot could be thinking.

Getting up, she approached him, and whispered his name against this hair, "Yusuke..."

The baby turned around, and smiled at her wide, a giggle escaping his mouth.

Atsuko kissed his forehead and whispered, "There will be ups and downs...and Mommy can be a pain in the ass from time to time...but I promise no matter how bad you fuck up...  I will always love you."

"Mama!" Yusuke answered in return, sticking a wet chubby hand on Atsuko's cheek.

Atsuko grinned... Yusuke got the message.

End

Chapter Text

“Do you enjoy kisses Hiei?” Mukuro asked in the silence after a skirmish.

This was a trap.

Hiei wrenched his sword from the skull of a demon. Shaking some of the brain matter and blood from his blade, he turned it over in his hand looking for chips along the edge.

“Kisses, Murkuo?” Hiei asked coolly, keeping his eyes focused on his weapon.

“Yes…kisses.” 

There was an edge to her tone, and he could feel her sly smile pressing in to his back.

“Lips to lips. Chest to chest. Tongues demanding purchase, while hands grope and grasp-all fighting for dominance,” She continued, a purr to her voice now.

Definitely a trap.

Hiei wiped his weapon clean and sheathed it. He could sharpen it when they were back safe withing Murkuo’s territory.

He slid his eyes to either side of him seeing no one was around.

“Looking for a way out Hiei?” Murkuo asked, now directly behind him.

Her hands snaked around his throat, a finger curling under his chin and tilting his head up. Their eyes met, and she smiled at him, a coy secretive shining in her eyes.

She thinks she’s won…

“I’m not sure I have enough adequate data to answer your question. Why don’t you remind me what a kiss is again,” Hiei said casually, inwardly giving himself a point when he saw the surprise in her eyes.

She smiled at him, delighted at his attempt to flirt, “Well…I think you have a good idea. One must know their enemy in order to defeat him after all.”

“True,” Hiei agreed boldly reaching an arm up and hooking it behind her head. (He had to strain to do so, but would never admit this.)

Mukuro smiled, and bent to his will, bending forward. Hiei tilted his head further back, and met her lips with his. 

As far as kisses go, this one had its faults. Being kissed from behind was awkward. His head tilted back, and his neck straining to reach the awkward angle was annoying.

…But there were plenty of good points to the kiss too.

Mukuro’s hands were a bit greedy, and they roamed over the front of his body giving Hiei’s senses a nice piqued boost. She kept him pressed against her body, and easily adjusted herself so that the height difference wasn’t too awkward. As strong as she was in battle, she was ten times that as a lover…and Hiei preferred her dominance over simple compliance.

The parted, her lips brushing against his affectionately before she fully pulled away and with a tilt to her head she asked, “Well…?”

You don’t get to win this easily…

Hiei grunted, and looked away, “We’ll have to keep working at it.”

Mukuro chuckled, her face nuzzling into his hair, an embarrassingly affectionate gesture, that Hiei had to make sure no one ever saw (for both their sakes). 

“Of course Hiei…we’ll have to keep training,” She agreed, before releasing him, and resuming her duty of making sure all their enemies are defeated.

Just to be safe, Hiei double-checked to make sure they were both alone.

With the coast clear, he felt relaxed enough to resume his task of checking to make sure all their enemies were dead. As he continued his task quietly, he thought about the next opportunity to see if Mukuro could best him in their secret game they played.

End

Chapter Text

She woke up because of a whisper. Just right against her cheek. It was traveling away from her... not meant for her.

It headed in to her brother's room.

Shizuru's eyes snapped open in the dark of her bedroom.

Something had woken her up, or perhaps someone. She was never sure when it came to waking up in the middle of the night. 

Shizuru wondered if she could call her sleeping trouble, insomnia. It wasn't that she couldn't sleep, it's just that she couldn't stay asleep. Whether it was her drunk ass father trying to break into her apartment-which would end with Shizuru tossing him out, and sitting up the rest of the night prepared to fight her on-again, off-again, would-be provider. Or maybe it was a spirit this time, whispering against her ear, asking questions and plaguing her dreams with unease.

Sometimes it was just a feeling.

Tonight, it was just a feeling. A feeling that she needed to go check on her brother. 

He had been acting off since some kid died in the street just a few days back...

She'd never seen him so emotionally wrecked before.

He had come home, led by his friends, in an emotional daze. Kazuma was so heartbroken of something he couldn't explain, or even name. Shizuru had dismissed his friends, and sat with her younger brother on the couch. She held him as he cried and questioned his own sadness.

"I just feel like a lost something...and I don't even know what that is?" Kazuma has choked out, while she rubbed his back.

She had a feeling it had to do with his awakening powers. Both the Kuwabara siblings were plagued with psychic abilities, something passed down through their parents. These abilities had weakened and eventually killed their mother, while their father could keep it together half of the time, and then fall apart into a roaring abusive drunk the rest of the time. Shizuru did not want her or her brother to end up that way. Shizuru had sought out a woman to help teach her ways to calm her energy and hone Shizuru's powers into something she could handle.

Maybe it was growing time for Shizuru to send Kazuma to meet Genkai too.

Tying on a robe, she headed for Kuwabara's room, gently opening a door, and was surprised to see Kuwabara slumped over at his desk. He had been studying. While the fact that Kazuma was studying was surprising enough, the even bigger surprise was to see a spirit of young teenaged boy perched on the back of Kuwabara's chair. 

The ghost's hair was slicked back and his uniform green, and though she didn't know his name, she easily recognized his face. He was that kid in the newspapers...the one who'd saved a child from getting hit by a car. The one Kazuma had cried over.

She hadn't expected to see his spirit here. She thought if his spirit was still roaming it would be where he had died so violently...but here he was. Sitting behind her brother, perched like a domesticated cat. And odder still, it seemed he was helping Kazuma study through his dreams.

"Why is the color of blood red?" the spirit whispered, eyes closed in concentration.

A moment later, still asleep, Kazuma answered, "Because of all the red blood cells! They color it! That's easy!"

Shizuru tilted her head, and odd smile creeping on her face. It was weird to see Kazuma answering so animatedly in his sleep... but then again a ghost hovering over your little brother's shoulder was also weird.

However, something about the scene made Shizuru feel very relaxed. More relaxed than she'd felt in weeks, months...maybe years.

It was as if seeing these two together was going to solve some sort of problem. Maybe this moment would be the catalyst to helping steer Kazuma on to the path of understanding his psychic powers.

...Maybe it was just the start of a beautiful friendship. A strange one indeed, but there was something right about seeing those two together.

Feeling that her brother was safe, Shizuru back out of the room before the spirit in green could sense her.

Heading to bed, she felt for the first time in years she might be able to sleep the rest of the night.

End

 

Chapter Text

"Can demon's lay eggs?" Kuwabara asked out of blue one day as he and Hiei found themselves alone in one another's company.

"Of course some do!" Hiei snorted as if this was a well known fact. Using his sword like a machete, he slashed through demon forest terrain. 

Team Urameshi were hunting an escaped criminal; once again aiding Koenma in some sort of Spirit world mission.

The team had split in pursuit of the escaped convict...and oddly enough, and quite by accident, they had divided into unusual pairs.

Now Hiei dreaded whatever Kuwabara might have to say, not that the two of them were alone. Hiei did not hate Kuwabara, but like most his allies, there was a thin line between friendship and annoyance.

Kuwabara often was categorized under, 'annoyance.'

"Humans don't lay eggs," Kuwabara mused.

Hiei paused, "...Not at all?"

"No man! Human's all have kids the same way...and if you can't have kids you adopt!"

"Adopt?"

"Yeah like...you go to a place where orphaned kids are kept-"

"And pick out the strongest?" Hiei asked, seeming to be amused by the concept of adoption.

"No. Uh...well...well you pick out one that you have the strongest connection...normally an emotional one," Kuwabara answered, squinting as he tried to keep his thoughts in order.

Hiei sliced a dangerous plant in half, and kicked it's carcass aside, "And you humans really don't have those that can have eggs?"

"Well I heard all human girls have eggs, like inside them...something to do with their menstruation...cycle...thing..." Kuwabara ducked under a low branch, "I dunno..."

"Why do you suddenly want to know if demons lay eggs?" Hiei asked, trying to steer the conversation away from the reproductive system.

"I dunno. I just...have questions. I know so little about demon world. Like, we saw a lady with a spider body an hour ago. She's a demon sure, but, is she a specific race of demon? A clan? Does she work like a bug? I just don't know...Demons just...seem so different," Kuwabara answered, his tone unsure.

"...Humans are an enigma to me as well. You all seem to look the same, to my eyes at least. But you're different somehow. You have plain color patterns, unless you choose to change yourself in some way. Most of you have no powers, and then you live very short lives..." Hiei sheathed his sword as he came to a clearing, "Humans are just as odd to a demon, as a demon is to you."

Kuwabara stepped into the clearing, nodding in agreement.

The two men fell into a silence, unsure of what to say next.

"...Humans really don't lay eggs for offspring?"

"No, not all. They're all birthed out. Like. You know through a lady's vagina."

Hiei paused tilting his head, "...Your male can't have children?"

Kuwabara gaped at Hiei, "Your men CAN?!"

Kurama and Yusuke caught the escapee in the end...and then had to go find Hiei and Kuwabara who spent the rest of the mission asking each other questions about one another's race.

End

 

Chapter Text

"Do you ever got bored of the ponytail Botan?" Shizuru asked as the blue-haired ferry woman busied herself around Shizuru's kitchen.

Botan was over waiting for Kuwabara, Koenma needed him for some mission or other...but Kuwabara was out with his friends. He wouldn't be back for hours, and so Botan would have to wait.

And waiting in Kuwabara's kitchen where Shizuru had made fresh cookies...well...this was just fine with Botan.

"Hmmm?" Botan asked, two cookies dangling from her lips.

"Have you ever thought about a cute new hair style? Like...maybe a perm...or...hmmm...no a bob would look very cute on you," Shizuru mused more to herself, than actually to Botan.

Botan munched on her pilfered treats and shrugged, "No...I guess not. I've just always had this hair style."

Shizuru smiled, "Well then maybe you should try a change..."

Shizuru rose, and guided Botan to look into a mirror that hung in their hallway. Taking Botan's hair gently in her hands, Shizuru folded the smaller woman's hair until it appeared to be a shorter length.

"Yup...you'd look very cute with a bob I think..." Shizuru whistled.

"Well I...I don't know. I...I haven't changed it in years...eons even!" Botan stammered, suddenly nervous at the thought of having such a big change.

Shizuru squeezed Botan's shoulders understandably, "Well...hair always grows back...yours does grow doesn't it?"

Botan laughed, lightly elbowing the taller woman, "Oh yes! Of course it does!"

Shuzuru smiled, and pat Botan's head, "Then don't be so anxious. We don't have to do anything drastic for now...but come on. I'm doing something with that hair of yours."

Taking Botan's wrist, Shizuru proceeded to drag the woman towards her room.

"Really Shizuru...I don't know!"

"I swear I won't cut it...but by the time I'm done with your hair you'll be begging to try new styles!"

Botan eventually surrendered allowing Shizuru to play with her hair. There was something wonderful about having someone fuss over her...it reminded her how nice it was to have friends.

 

End

Chapter Text

If you had asked Hanzou Takenaka, Principal of Sarayashiki middle school, on what students he'd expected to see coming back to his school for a visit after graduation, he would have boasted that there were too many to count.

If you asked him who would become teachers, he'd smile, fold his hands behind his back, and list a few names or students who had mentioned their dreams to him.

If you asked him who he would hire from those students who went on to be teachers, he would have maybe two names at the top of his mind who he would want to come back and work for him.

Kazuma Kuwabara, was not on any of those lists.

But this was who was sitting in front of his desk, in a slightly too small suit, with his hair loose and curly (though Takenaka could see there had been a failed attempt to comb it into place), and a nervous smile on his lips.

The moment the teacher's eyes had fallen on him, the principal had sat in a dumbfounded silence. Kuwabara was one of those students who had gotten it rough here. Takenaka was always understaffed, and some teachers he hired were more bullies than mentors. Kuwabara, among others, was one of those students who had never been given the chance to shine...and yet here Kuwabara was. Looking young, but well polished, his back straight, and asking to work at a place with few happy memories.

"Kuwabara...I recognized your name on the interview sheet...but I didn't think it was you from seven years ago..." Takenaka explained at last. 

Kuwabara smiled, "Y-yes...it's me. i must look a bit different now."

Quickly raking his eyes over Kuwabara, Takenaka's bushy brows rose into his hairline, "You look almost the same...but your height! I can't believe you managed to get even taller Kuwabara! You were six foot tall in middle school! How tall are you now?"

"Haha...yeah...I think I finally stopped growing now...I'm 6''3...maybe 6''4?" Kuwabara finally managed weakly. His voice didn't crack, but it had that tremble of first job interview jitters. 

Takenaka glanced back through Kuwabara's papers, and laughed proudly, "My! Your marks are very high! You worked hard, didn't you?"

Kuwabara cleared his throat, "Uh Yes Sen-Yessir."

Takenaka bit the inside of his cheek to contain his grin, "You'll want to make sure not slip and call me Sensei here...the students wouldn't let you live it down."

Kuwabara sat up straighter, eyes wide with hope, "D-Do you mean I got the job?!"

Takenaka laughed richly, "Of course, of course!"

"No interview?" Kuwabara asked, unable to keep the relief or surprise from his voice.

"No, no...I knew from the short time you attended here, you were going to grow into a man of character Kuwabara...and it looks like I was right."

The principal rose to shake Kuwabara's hand, the young man rising to do the same. They clasped hands as equals, and laughed for different reasons, but all happy.

Walking around his desk, Takenaka clapped Kuwabara on the back, "Now, let's go have some fun! Mr. Akashi and Mr. Iwamoto still work here, and I want to see them struggle to contain their anger, when I tell them you'll be their new senior teacher!"

End

Chapter Text

The sun is going down on my life.

It is expected.

No more pain, no more loneliness...no more strife.

The sun is going down...

And you are at your dawn...

The sun is going down.

Be at peace my son.

You are so angry

But extra time can't be won.

The world will keep on turning,

Seasons will change,

Rivers will go on churning.

Time will pass and flow,

And the pain will fade--

This. This I know.

Don't forget me,

I won't forget you.

Yusuke Urameshi...

The sun is going down on my life.

And what a life you gave me.

End

 

 

Chapter Text

Kurama had been alive a very long time. His hair was white and gray, and his skin sagged, and his eyes were milky. Many came to him for his wisdom, but Kurama often spoken in riddles, with scant wisps of knowledge and advice that were hard to decipher.

Yes...he had been alive a very, very, very, long time...

So long in fact, that sometimes when talking about his friends, all the friends that he'd encountered over his many years, he would get a little confused.

"I once had a friend, who was thrown from a cliff as a baby, and I helped raise him for a time."

Or did he meet the baby later, fully grown and threatening a teenage girl's life? Or did they meet when the baby -- now a man-- thrust a sword into his stomach? (Do not worry, Kurama paid him back by throwing blood in his eyes.) Maybe they met at the end. When this small man, who trusted very little and spoke even less, held up a gem and asked him to give it to his precious sister. Kurama grasped the gem in his hand, knowing it was the soul of a woman whose baby had been thrown from a cliff ...and promptly teased the little man, no longer a baby, until he was blushing red.

"I once had a friend who was very tall, and shrunk into an old pit. I knew him many lifetimes. His lifetime with the pompadour was my favorite."

Or had he met the tall, mountain of a man when he was shriveled up first? Shriveled and white haired, with foggy eyes, and a tittering little smile. Had he watched the small man walk backwards into his youth, into a strong, formidable man, who was gentle and kind despite his appearances? No... Kurama was sure he met him as a young man. But was he the student with the sword, or the police man with the whistle, or the girl who arranged flowers? Which one had come first? Which life had been their first meeting? Ah yes. Kurama must have met him when he was small wrinkled man, laying in his bed, his limbs growing cold. Yes Kurama, met Kuwabara when his withered hand took his and he whispered, "I'll be back Kurama. I'll be back."

"I once had a friend who thought he could beat up a God, but instead befriended him as well as Death, herself. We used to eternally wait for our friends."

Or maybe they waited to die? Kurama was sure, that this friend had not expected to live as long as they did, but life has a way of being surprising. And death is even slier with its trickery of trying to off you with a car, and then a crazed lunatic, to only finally take you when you're old and have changed the world in ways one could not fathom. His friend who would fight the Gods, would also save a child he didn't know, and force three realms, Demon, Human, and Spirit, to change their ways forever. All the while sitting at shrine steps belonging to a mother, that was not his mother, and waiting for a girl he loved and a man he loved to be reborn again and again. Yusuke, as impatient as he was, always spent his time endlessly waiting.

Where did that leave Kurama?

Was he a fox, a demon, or a man?

Somehow he was all three.

And somehow he'd gone on living, and had aged into this withered white haired combination of beast, man, and demon...

...Telling stories in riddles of friends he'd met in the long years of his life. Friends whom he'd never forget.

End

Chapter Text

Hiei's first memory is holding on to a gem as tight as he can. Someone is trying to take his treasure (even if he doesn't know it's his treasure yet) and his little fist curls tightly around the jewel.

He won't let go.

A large demon laughs-and Hiei's life as a bandit begins.


 

He's five when he learns life is unfair.

Tricked into stealing all the food needed for a meal that night, and then tricked into defending it from enemies-he is left with nothing. He sits angrily staring at his empty hands, his aching hungry belly making his eyes burn. He's so angry and a lump form in his throat.

How dare they?

The same bandit that tried to take a gem from him years, and years ago, sticks a bone with a thick slab of meat clutching to it under Hiei's nose.

The boy looks up, and the bandit grins ruefully, his name is Qog.

"Take it. Take it as the only kindness I'll show you. Learn your lesson. Don't do other's work...do everything for yourself."

Hiei snatches the meat away and digs into the cooked flesh with his teeth.

He promises himself to remember this lesson, and h abandons the bandits the next day.

Qog, oddly enough, tags along.


 

At nine years old Qog holds an enemy down. He and Hiei sometimes travel together, though Qog comes and goes as he pleases.

This is fine with Hiei, as he wants no attachments.

Today proves to be an interesting one, as Qog sneers out that Hiei's strength is great, but his technique piteous.

Qog decides Hiei needs to learn the finer points in murder, starting off first with disembowelment. 

"Now. Cut him 'cross the belly there. That's how you bleed out a pig. That's how you bleed out a coward. That's how you bleed out a traitor."

The demon struggled staring up at the child in absolute fear.

"G'on now!" Qog encourages Hiei.

Hiei doesn't hesitate.

It surprises him how easy it is to sink his blade and hands into the stomach beneath him.

Hiei is not new to this game of murder. He and death are old friends by now, but the instruction Qog has given him is useful.

The enemy demon's innards are warm...and his insides flow out easily. The demon cries out pitifully, but dies at a steady rate. 

Hiei looks at his hands with a bit of awe.

Qog pats him on his back, "You're a natural kid! A natural. Do that to every man you hate, an' every man that does you wrong! It's much nicer this way...better than hacking them up like you do. Quicker too!"

Hiei wiggles his fingers, the red slime cooling on his hands. 

The blood will cake, and turn to rust before Hiei washes his hands clean again.


At 56 Hiei is declared a man, and Qog takes him to a bar.

He points out a pretty woman to Hiei and whispers in his ear, "Yer a man now...go sample yourself some of that!"

"...Sample?" Hiei questions.

He knows what sex is, but it has never appealed to him. Why invite a whore in your presence when all that does is invite someone to have an opportunity to hold power over you. Sex was power, and Hiei would not give that power up.

"Yeah! We got an extra penny...go turn yourself into a man!" Qog snickers, and slaps Hiei on the back.

Hiei frowns in distaste.

"What? Don't like woman? There's some nice men too," Qog gestures at two men across the way.

Hiei snorts, "No thanks," his tone is cold and final.

He storms away Qog moaning and groaning as he retreats. Hiei can't help but think he has no desire for those men, or that woman...

Musing bitterly, Hiei thinks he'd never be able to have sex with anyone. 

For one he has not felt desire towards any person, and for another...how would he know he wasn't accidentally sleeping with one of his family members?


At 112 Hiei holds Qog's hand as he dies.

Qog was betrayed and robbed by those he might have called friends, if he was that type of demon.

Qog coughs harshly, and blood splashes over his and Hiei's clasped hand.

Hiei squeezes Qog's hand reflexively, and the old bandit tries to clear his throat, but the arrow lodged in the side makes it near impossible.

"Well...fuck me," Qog whispers, unable to speak any louder.

He turns his clouded eyes to look up at Hiei, and is silent for a moment.

Qog's fingers are growing cold before he speaks, "You sought me out this time..."

Hiei shrugs one shoulder in response.

Qog grins, some of his teeth missing from the skirmish that would cost him his life, "You had something to tell me?"

"...I have a sister."

"Oh! Is that where you've been? Lookin' for yer sister eh?...She single?" Qog waggles his eyebrows, and laughs at Hiei's soured face.

"You meet her yet?" Qog asks his eyes drooping heavily.

"...I've seen her. She hasn't seen me," Hiei admits.

"Ah I see...I see. Havin' family...that's a gem. Hang on to your gem...but...you know how to hang on to your jewels don'tcha Hiei?" 

Qog smiles, and Hiei holds the demon's face in his hands, sharing their first and only intimate moment together in Qog's final moments.

"You are big, loud, and stupid," Hiei informed the demon, "I hope I never meet another like you."

Qog looks delighted, "Then hear this...I hope ye' do meet another like me...an' I hope he's just as attached to you as I-I was."

Qog's last sentence stuttered at the end, and a strangle glisten filled his eyes.

But after one more laugh at Hiei's annoyed face, Qog's head dropped back, and he died.

Hiei buried him at the base of a mountain, the same mountain he'd been thrown from years ago.


When he is 114, he meets Kazuma Kuwabara.

And he hates him instantly.

 

End

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Yusuke no-"

"It'll be great!"

"Not it won't."

"Ah come on-"

"No."

"You never know until-"

"No. No. NO. I will never try this...this madness"

"Keeeikkkkoooooooo."

"NEVER."

"PLEASE."

"...."

"...If you loved me you'd try it."

Keiko groaned loudly.

The wort part about being Yusuke Urameshi's girlfriend, wasn't the demons, the ghosts, or the constant fighting he ran off to do.

No...it was the fact that as his girlfriend, she was required to try his crazy recipes he concocted. Including pickle and radish flavored ramen.

End

 

Chapter Text

His fingers are stiff, and hard to movie.

"It's c-cold," Kuwabara whispers as he opens his eyes.

"Oh thank God!" Comes a wet voice from his left.

"At last," another gruff voice agrees, floating from somewhere in front of him.

A blurry red vision swims in front of his sight line, and in a soft voice greets him, "Kuwabara...Kuwabara please speak to us."

"I'm freezing..." Kuwabara whispers, blinking rapidly.

The red blur doesn't get any clearer.

"You fell in the river, and hit your head on a rock," the red blur whispered to him, rubbing his hands against Kuwabara's arms.

"I can't see very well..."

"You nearly drowned," an emotional voice whispered, and Kuwabara turned to squint at whoever was speaking.

"Lie still," a firm voice commands, a hand falling on his chest, "You will be alright. We're here, and will take care of you."

"Please do as Hiei says...you almost drowned on us..."

Kuwabara closes his eyes, his head swimming, "My head is spinning...and my vision is no better...I feel very confused right now."

"That's alright don't think too hard then," the worried said voice suggests. 

More hands fall on Kuwabara's arm, and the cold stiffness is leaving his body. He is slowly warming up, even if he can't remember who he is talking to clearly.

"My mind is a mess...and I can't say I know who you guys are right now...but I...I trust you."

"Good...good," says the voice belonging to the red blur. He makes a soft shushing sound at the other two who began to speak with worry.

"Rest Kuwabara...you're among friends. We will take care of you...but please keep talking to us. Softly. As long as you can."

Kuwabara nodded, tired, but willing to do as the voice bade him.

He spoke gently with the three into the night, their hands gently removing his wet clothes, and wrapping him in something warm. Someone placed his head in their lap, and hands were constantly petting him, and touching him. Soft, gentle caresses that made Kuwabara feel safe and unafraid. By the time his vision was clearing, they told him it was safe to sleep, and by the time that time came he knew that these three were dear. Even if he slept, and he woke still not knowing whomever these three were-it would be fine.

He didn't need to know them to feel safe.

Trusting these three voices was as natural as breathing.

End

Chapter Text

Botan looked at her face in the mirror, and wondered what it might look like if she could grow old.

She sometimes wondered what aging was like...she had been this young face longer than she could remember.

Had she ever been a babe, with round cheeks, and wisps of curly hair? 

She could no longer remember how her life started, or if she'd always existed as the harbinger of death.

White hair would suit her she decided, or silver...she could dye it silver as some woman tended to do when their hair changed.

It was funny to envy those that died.

They all feared her coming...but she was their friend. 

Death was always a friend...never the enemy.

Even if at times she came too soon, or at the worst moment.

Botan had no play in how fate turned...she was just there to pick up the pieces really.

Being so unchanging in her physical appearance...sometimes it got to her.

Maybe if she could age, people would fear her less, maybe if she looked a little more human...

But she did her best to smile.

Because she was always happy Botan, brilliantly blue and pink Botan.

She had to give them a smile

But if she could age and change...

Perhaps death would be welcomed as a friend?

End

Chapter Text

It had been amusing for a while to watch Kuwabara sulking in the corner of Genkai's shrine, staring mournfully at a piece of paper in his hands...but when it had turned into hours of Kuwabara sitting in silence, and frowning as all levels of emotions flashed through his eyes, Hiei had had enough.

"Why are you pouting?" Hiei snapped, cleaving the silence of the room in two with his sharp tone.

Kuwabara looked at Hiei in a daze. It seemed to take Kuwabara a moment to registers Hiei's words, and when he did his eyes flashed with a familiar rivalry, and his back stiffened. But the flash was gone quickly, and his shoulders slumped, before his eyes drifted back downwards to that sheet of paper in his hands.

"I got a low score on a test," Kuwabara mumbled, disappointment making his tone soft.

"...why? Did you not do what was asked of you?" Hiei asked, not exactly sure how you have a test on a piece of paper. Tests were tasks faced in life. What could a piece of paper test you about?

"No...I did what they wanted. I just didn't do it good enough," Kuwabara explained, letting out a long puff of breath.

"...Did anyone die?"

Kuwabara's brow furrowed at the question, "No-"

"Did anyone get hurt that wasn't supposed to?"

"No. Hiei, I think-"

"Did you complete your task?"

"Yes-"

"Then I don't think this test thing was very accurate!" Hiei said with a decisive snort, "How can you do poorly on a test if you did what was expected of you, and no one was hurt or killed? If you completed the task-then you passed."

Kuwabara couldn't help but smile at Hiei's misunderstanding of what a human test was, "Well...no they want me...they don't want me to just know this stuff. They want me to know it perfectly...and I guess...recite it back to them?"

Hiei snorted again, "This all sounds...stupid to me. The point of learning is being able to understand your enemy. If you can explain your enemy, know your enemy, and go on to survive another day while laughing in your enemies' faces, then you have passed. Getting a grade on what you learn sounds stupid. Who cares about who knows what, and who knows the most. If knowing the most doesn't keep you alive then a low score or high score doesn't matter. You're still alive, and you're a buffoon. So clearly you can be an idiot and survive out here in the real world. What ever that piece of paper said, seems to me you're doing it right."

Kuwabara blinked, and burst out laughing, unable to contain it any longer. 

"God Hiei...in a weird way you're making a lot of sense! Too much sense!" Kuwabara wheezed tears in his eyes from laughing so hard. Grinning, and dropping his paper, he covered his mouth trying to contained his outburst. He failed miserably and toppled over, unable to support his body weight as he gave in to manic giggles.

Hiei sneered at Kuwabara disgusted with the large man's laughter, but said nothing to quiet him.

When Kuwabara finally calmed, he sighed, "Thanks man."

Hiei snorted, "Whatever. Your school is stupid."

"...I'm gonna hug ya."

"Don't you dare!"

End

Chapter Text

Yusuke used to stand in a park at the dark of night, and scream. Sometimes he would curse,or roar out the names of those that made him mad, and sometimes it was just be a primal scream.

If he was loud enough, there would be people to come and quiet him-and if that happened Yusuke would have heads to bust.

However, Yusuke’s reputation quickly grew and people learned to avoid the screaming teen in the dead of night.

Not to mention, nowadays when he screamed the only fools to answer his raging call would be Kuwabara, Kurama, and Hiei. And he didn’t want to bust their heads.

But then again he really didn’t want to bust the heads of the street punks who came to shut him up, or the concerned cop, or the nosy busy-body that didn’t have enough sense to leave him alone.

Just some times, when he was at the lowest Yusuke would think of a man who he never knew, of a man who ditched a 16 year old girl and her kid-his kid…and he would just howl.

One night he hoped his cry of outrage would fall on the ears of this man.

Because if there was a head Yusuke really wanted to bust in-it was his.

End

Chapter Text

“I’m sorry to tell you this…but after careful examination, I don’t believe your body could carry a child.”

Mukuro let out a deep sigh. She has expected the answer, but part of her…had been hopeful for other news. Getting to her feet, she began to put her clothes back on, which she had removed for the examination.

“It’s not pleasant being right all the time,” Mukuro said with a smile, trying to keep her tone light.

Kurama pursed his lips, “I’m not…really a doctor…or fully qualified to do this. Yomi…might perhaps-”

“No,” Mukuro interrupted with a soft but firm tone.

“It doesn’t have to be Yomi, but maybe eve-”

“No,” Mukuro interrupted again, “I just…I don’t show my body off for many. Very few have that privilege…are allowed this right to see my body. Even if it is for something I want…I’m just not comfortable with anyone else.”

Mukuro turned, and smiled at Kurama, “It’s not the end of my road here…I don’t have to carry a child in order to have a child.”

Kurama nodded quietly in agreement.

“Perhaps I’ll even find a poor babe chunked off a cliff,” Mukuro continued casually, grinning coyly as she and Kurama shared mischievous glints.

Kurama smiled, “Well if you’re with Hiei, I think he’d be interested in babies thrown from cliffs as well. He’d have something to relate to with the child.”

“Oh yes. Definitely.”

“You two are terrible,” Hiei’s unnamed voice called from a room over.

Mukuro and Kurama made eye contact, and the abruptly looked away. Both too cool to resort to giggles. They both cleared their throats for several minutes, and smothered their chuckles with firm denial.

“…Are you really okay?” Kurama asked fixing his eyes on Mukuro’s back.

Mukuro looked at her smooth hand, and brought it to her neck where she felt burnt and ruined flesh. The curves and dips of her marred skin, reflected who she was more than pristine skin ever had.

“Yes. I don’t need to carry a child to be a mother. I just thought it might be amusing to see Hiei fuss over me for months.”

“I’d do no such thing,” Hiei shouted from his same position, a room away.

Mukuro and Kurama smiled as they made eye contact.

“And who was it that followed me here?” Mukuro asked.

“And has stood waiting patiently outside for several hours?” Kurama added.

“…Shut up,” Hiei eventually snapped back.

Mukuro and Kurama made eye contact again, and this time gave in to their laughter.

Chapter Text

Kurama made his way to Genkai's shrine, a few documents from work tucked under his arm. He had left work early today so he could have a visit with his friends. They  (Hiei, Kuwabara, Yusuke, Kieko, Botan, and Yukina) were all meeting at Genkai's old shrine for no other reason but to bask in their bonds of friendship. They were all a little busier now that they weren't teens. Their own respective lives and responsibilities kept them apart, but all of them put out a great effort to keep in touch.

Kurama took in a relaxed breath, and let it out with a smile as he thought about an afternoon with his friends. He was looking forward to this little party...

As Kurama came out of his eager thought, he was surprised to see a tottering old woman bent to the task of climbing the long stairs of the shrine, just a few feet ahead of him.

She was dressed in a shrine maiden's garb, and bent over from her great age. Even from behind, Kurama could sense this woman was of an outstanding age. He hastily jogged up to catch with the older woman, politely calling out to her in a soft voice so as not to frighten her.

The woman stopped, and turned her head towards Kurama, a smile stretched on her weathered face. Deep crevices were etched into her skin, and many wrinkles were on her brow. Her eyes were pale, almost blind, and her short white hair looked like fine thing strings of snow rather than hair. She squinted at him for a moment, and then her eyes open wide like two pale moons on her face. 

"Oh...hello," She greeted, relief in her voice and now owlish expression.

"Are you trying to get up to the shrine? Do you have business there miss?" Kurama asked keeping his curiosity at bay, and his tone polite.

"Oh yes," the elderly woman said, her voice bright and bubbly. Her words shook from her great age, but somehow still managed to sound youthful. With a tottering hand, she weakly grasped the sleeve of Kurama's shirt before speaking again, "I must see Miss Botan. I sense she is up at the top. And I came to see Yusuke too, and Kuwabara of course. Oh and Hiei. Well I came for all of you...it's terribly urgent!"

Kurama's brows shot up into his hairline, and he stopped low, "I see...Please allow me to carry you up the stairs then!"

"Ah Kurama, that is much obliged! My bones ache so, and I think I'd turn to dust on these stairs if I climb them myself." The woman said patting Kurama's face in a friendly manner.

As he stared, stunned that this woman knew him along with his friends, the old woman grasped Kurama's worksheets and documents. Brought out of his shock he managed a numb, "Thanks," before scooping the old woman up in his now empty arms. Worry began to itch inside of his chest and at the pit of his stomach, and once he had properly secured the woman, he took off up the stairs.

The woman was very light...too light. She felt as light as a bundle of clothes...as if he only carried the clothes she wore on her back and had no body at all.

He arrived at the top of the shrine steps very quickly, and continued to carry the old woman towards the shrine. The woman remained quite and calm, seeming to be quite comfortable in his grasp. As Kurama at last reached the porch of the shrine, the little woman's shoulder's sagged with a great relief, and tittering little sigh escaped past her old lips.

Striding inside, he shouldered his way through the shrine's doors calling out, "Botan!"

Immediately inside, sitting at a little table were his friend, with food and a variety of drinks spread before them. Their smiling faces swiveled to him, and then froze in shock as their eyes fell on the little woman in Kurama's arms. Kurama's eyes fell on Botan's face, but the grim reaper only had eyes for the little woman he held close to his body.

Botan reacted before anyone else, and rose so abruptly she knocked over her drink, the liquid splashing all over the table. A few of the others squawked about the mess, but Yukina, and Keiko cried out Botan's name seeing their friend's alarmed panic. Botan's face was pale and somehow aged, and continued to age the longer she stared at the old withered woman.

"Hinageshi! You waited too long!" Botan at last rasped, her voice tight with fear and shock.

Kurama whipped his head down hard, his chin going to his chest as he gazed at the frail little woman in his arms. The woman was looking at Botan, smiling an ancient grin, her eyes almost closed from her crinkled grin.

"Hina...Hinageshi?" Yusuke's voice broke the silence, his question echoing in the silence.

Botan brushed past everyone, and scooped the old woman in her arms and cradled her to her breast like she was a baby. Botan closed her eyes, face twisted in anguish and moaned, "Oh Hinageshi! You waited too long!" A sudden half sob cut off the rest of Botan's words, and in awe Kurama watched as the old woman raised a hand and pet Botan's hair in comfort.

"I know...I know..." the old woman whispered, and Kurama struggled to find the little girl Hinageshi in that voice-but could not.

At once voice erupted in the room.

"Can we do anything?"

"What's going on?"

"Botan?"

"Is that really Hinageshi?"

"How can we help, what do you want us to do?"

The room was a buzz with words, but Kurama found he could not speak as he watched in morbid fascination as Botan rocked and held the withered old woman.

Botan ignored everyone, and shifted the aged Hinageshi into one arm, and with a free hand summoned her oar. She seated herself upon it as if it were a horse, and before another question could be voiced, was gone with her precious burden in her arms.

Silence fell thick and fast in the room.

"...That was Hinageshi," Kurama finally whispered, his voice coming to him.

"What the hell happened to her?" Yusuke demanded turning to Kurama, eyes searching Kurama's face.

"I found her on the stairs...she was already in that form," Kurama said, voice soft and filled with dread. What had happened to her??

Hiei placed a hand on Kurama's back, silently steadying the man. Yukina also placed a comforting hand on Kurama's arm, and tugged at him gently, encouraging him to take a seat. More shaken than he had initially thought, Kurama sunk down at the table. He was more than a little surprised that he hadn't felt Hinageshi's aura from the old woman's form. How had he missed it? She should have still felt like Hinageshi, no matter the age.

But Kurama had not seen, nor felt the Hinageshi that he had met years ago when the world faced another danger.

"We should wait...Botan might come back," Kuwabara said, clearing his throat awkwardly, "We should wait and see...someone...someone might be back to tell us what's going on!"

"We should go to spirit world! Get Koenma!" Yusuke disagreed, eyes narrowed.

Keiko put an arm on Yusuke's back, and whispered something soft to him. Yusuke frowned, but eventually his tense shoulders sagged, and weakly he admitted, "...I don't like doing nothing."

"Waiting doesn't always mean we're doing nothing," Kurama reasoned quietly, "Sometimes waiting is all we can do."

In the end the friends found themselves sitting at the table, food and drinks forgotten. They waited in tense silence for long minutes. The time stretched and no one seemed able to find the words to say to one another, be it for comfort or for questions.

A half hour hadn't passed, when Koenma suddenly appeared before them.

"Oh Thank God!" Yusuke burst, jumping to his feet.

Everyone quickly followed suit, but Koenma held up his hands to keep anyone from speaking.

"First off I'm here to let you know that both Hinageshi and Botan are okay...and I'm here in their stead to answer questions...just...be calm...be calm," Koenma said, his voice oddly soothing and weary.

For a moment no one seemed to be able to ask what had just taken place in the room just a few minutes ago.

Finally Kurama spoke first, "Why was Hinageshi like that?"

Koenma sighed, and folded his arms behind him before frowning, "To ferry the souls of the dead...is a hard task. You have kind people, people who were ready...animals who instantly understand that death is just another step in the path of life. Some are ready to be judged and go obediently to the afterlife..." Koenma sat down, closing his eyes with a low sigh, "...Others do not."

"Some were murdered, or just do not realize they are dead," Koenma continued, "Some are sad, angry, and filled with confusion. It can lead to violence, or pleading...a spirit can be filled with such malevolence that they appear more a monster than a soul, but it is the grim reapers job to try and provide peace-no matter what, and no matter how. Sometimes its with incredible optimism, or a zany attitude," Koenma met Yusuke's eyes, and the youth frowned, a wrinkle forming in his brow.

"Some must be completely honest with the spirits, some must instill fear in the ghosts they collect, and some must show the utmost kindness and understanding," Koenma ran a hand over his face, "It's an exhausting job, it takes a toll. Eventually the ferrymen, the reapers, the Shinigami's,the guides to spirit world..." Koenma waved a hand dismissing the many titles of Botan's job, "People like Botan and Hinageshi eventually must renew themselves."

"Renew?" Keiko echoed a hand pressed to her chest as she listened to Koenma speak, with growing concern dancing in her eyes.

Koenma nodded, "There is a waterfall in spirit world made of...I do not know. It sits in the halls of Spirit world, and it's the most beautiful contraption I've ever seen, but I can't tell if it was built, or naturally came to being. It's a mystery, and yet somehow we all know that it's meant to heal tired hearts. Regardless of the mysteries of this waterfall, I know that the weary go in and come out restored, ready for more countless tasks. They must meditate beneath it whenever their hearts get too weary. If they don't they'll age and fall to dust-"

"Botan and Hinageshi?" Yusuke interrupted.

"All who ferry souls to me Yusuke. All of them not just Hinageshi and Botan," Koenma said, a slight hint of annoyance in his voice at having been interrupted, "It is no normal waterfall as I've said. There's energy from the spirit world to renew the ferryman who grow tired and sad from their jobs. If they do not meditate beneath it when their hearts are are their heaviest, they will turn to dust and no longer be able to be a reaper."

"...They die?" Kuwabara questioned, his hands curled into fists.

"Worse. They cease to exist," Koenma sighed, dropping his eyes, "The first grim reaper has existed since life existed. But as the world grew they needed help. More people were allowed to ferry the dead under certain circumstances. All those that work for me under that role were once living humans or demons themselves, who instead of moving on, chose to work for me, and the original harbinger of death. It is an eternal job."

"And as an eternal job, it's a hard job. And the emotional toll wipes them out, and can destroy them," Hiei finished, seeming to understand completely what Koenma was trying to explain.

"Yes....yes," Koenma answered, seeming to be weary from his story.

"Why did Hinageshi wait so late to...renew herself? Especially if, as you say, she would stop existing if she failed to reach this waterfall?" Kurama asked, brows furrowed as he turned over this new information.

"When you renew yourself beneath the waterfall in spirit world, you're cleansed of the bad feelings associated with your memories. You can still recall all your memories, but it's like they become a distant thing, held just outside your reach. Though this is how the spirit and body of the reapers are restored...it can make it hard for them to recall certain feelings in regards to people. It can make your friendships with those around you...a little...well it can at times make you forget how much you care about your friends," Koenma fumbled with his words.

"...She could forget us?" Yukina asked, alarm hitching her voice.

"No, no...just...forget how much she cared for you," Koenma said visibly wincing, knowing what he said didn't seem much better, "It is normally a reaper's desire to visit their friends before their meditation...so they can hold on to their bonds. Seeing the faces of the ones you care for, just before doing the meditation strengthens the bonds they hold in their hearts. Hinageshi...just put it off a long time."

"I didn't realized she liked us so much," Yusuke said, voice small from the surprise. He looked down at his feet kicking the ground, "She's a good kid...I mean...I didn't realize we were so important."

Kurama remembered the old woman's wrinkled smile at him, and his heart clenched, "She came here to see us, and to have Botan rush her to spirit world. That was risky...she was struggling up those steps when I found her."

"Indeed she risked a lot," Koenma agreed.

"We should...we should be there for her! Somehow!" Yusuke said, urgency lacing his voice, though his face was twisted in uncertainty. 

"...Her meditation won't take long, and if you wish to see her, well I guess there's no harm in you moving your little party into my office," Koenma said with a smile, happy to supply a solution.

There were murmured relieved words as the group of friends planned to move to Koenma's office, and wait for Hinageshi to appear before them where they could greet her. As everyone packed the food, drink, and other necessities to carry out their new plans, Kurama stepped to Koenma's side. A question was burning in his mind.

"When does...when does Botan need to do this ritual? How many times?" Kurama asked, voice a whisper.

Koenma smiled, eyes drifting to Kurama's face, but he looked at the fox, and did not see him. Koenma was elsewhere. "The last time she meditated was just after Genaki's death...at the dark tournament. You all didn't see her...but I knew she would need to renew herself after such a blow. Friendship with mortals is not unheard of, but it can cause a lot of pain-a lot of trips to the waterfall. I don't know when she'll need it next, but she'll need it often. But she's much better at not missing her meditations...she's stronger than most of my other workers too. She never seems to forget anything about herself when she emerges from the waters, and she's worked a long time for me...a long, long, long time! She has a remarkable strength!" Koenm gushed uncharacteristically. 

Kurama nodded, his mind a whirl, and chest swelling with the new pride and respect he had for Botan and Hinageshi's job. After a long pause he looked to Koenma, and blurted, "What do you do? How do you renew yourself from your pains of a job such as yours?"

Koenma looked to his hands, startled by the question, his face suddenly more open and honest. "...The worst pains are taken by those that work for me. I do nothing for myself, but quietly thank those around me for bearing most of the burden," Koenma admitted, a deep humble tone resounding in his voice that had never been there before. 

Kurama slung a companionable arm over the demi-god's shoulders, and gave his shoulder a squeeze. He had nothing to say, to amazed from the new information he had learned this day. After a while he released Koenma's shoulder, and helped his friends pack, thinking of how best to greet Hinageshi after her ordeal. Kurama smiled thinking he'd like to take her hand and marvel at her restored youth, but he'd never forget the old hand that had grasped him so tight. 

End

 

Chapter Text

“Here.”

“What do you mean ‘here?!’ Don’t give that to me!”

“…Yusuke Fucking Urameshi, hold my kid or I’m going to kick your goddamned teeth in.”

Yusuke’s eyebrows shot into his hairline, and very slowly and carefully he took Kuwabara’s son in his arms. Kuwabara with heavy bags under his eyes, smirked at Yusuke’s sudden docile behavior.

Never mess with a new dad in desperate need of sleep.

“I’m gonna break him,” Yusuke immediately blurted, holding his 10-month old godson at arms length away.

“Not likely Urameshi,” Kuwabara said with a grin as he began to remove his jacket, freshly covered in baby vomit.

“I’ve never held him on my own! Keiko normally helps! Or Shizuru! Or anybody that isn’t me! I don’t like kids! They don’t like me-”

“Urameshi that’s all very nice, but i’m covered in vomit. I just need five minutes to change my shirt, and we can go get lunch okay man? You can do this! And you can’t say you don’t like kids-you died saving one!” 

“I would have never have saved that kid if I knew I couldn’t get out of this!!” Yusuke squawked childishly.

“As I said-you’re fine. Just five minutes Urameshi,” Kuwabara flashed Yusuke a grin, and disappeared back into his apartment.

Yusuke frowned and looked back at the pudgy little baby, who quietly seemed to enjoy being held in such an awkward manner.

Yusuke frowned at the child, eyeing him suspicion.

“…What do you want baby?”

With one hand Kuwabara’s little bundle of joy reached out for Yusuke, flexing his fingers. Yusuke cocked his head and glared at the gesture, and nervously drew the child closer. At once the child ducked his head under Yusuke’s chin, and used both hands to grasp Yusuke’s shirt. He then proceeded to make happy babbles as he pressed his ear against Yusuke’s heart.

Kuwabara returned shortly after, and smiled at Yusuke’s emotional expression as his son cuddled up to his Godfather. 

“See…ain’t so bad. You did fine,” Kuwabara said grinning as Yusuke coddled the little boy closer.

“…Where’s Keiko. I need one.”

Kuwabara snorted with laughter.

End

Chapter Text

Honesty didn’t exist between Koenma and his father.

Enma had a way of getting people to bend to his will, of forcing his thoughts and beliefs on those that worked for him.

And Koenma allowed his father to think he was always loyal to him. That he believed his dad was in the right on every callous and cruel decision Enma made.

But Koenma had stopped trusting his dad…had stopped believing in him. He’d learned that when his dad was lying, and thought he was being especially clever, Enma would give a half smile, and tilt his head the slightest.

That expression made Koenma’s lips thin, and fists tighten.

Koenma’s disillusionment with his father ended the day his mother disappeared and Enma assured him, that he had know idea where his mother went.

Enma has smiled that little half-smile, and tilted his head to the side, “You believe me…don’t you son?”

“Of course Dad. Of course!”

End

Chapter Text

"...Are you seriously still in bed?" Keiko asked as she approached the ball of covers, curled in the middle of a messy bedroom.

A groan emerged from the ball.

"Kuwabara says it's just a cold...I brought some medicine for you. If you take it you'll feel better in half an hour...and be good as new in a couple days."

The comforter curled up into a tighter ball, and an even louder groan wafted from beneath the covers.

"Yusuke..." Keiko sighed, sitting on the edge of the bed, "Come on now, it's just a cold. And you have to goto demon world...do your makai duties."

"Noooooo," Yusuke's voice whined out from the covers, "Mukuro can have the territories. She can be demon world's king."

Keiko rolled her eyes and yanked the top of the blanket from Yusuke's head. His hair was a mess, his was a little pale, and his nose was very red. If he wasn't whining so loudly he'd be pitiable.

"You're not that sick. You had enough strength to punch Kuwabara in the nose and knock him on his back!" Keiko tutted, disapproval lacing her voice.

Yusuke frowned grouchily, "A baby could put Kuwabara on his back!"

"Yusuke that's mean! After you take this medicine, you're going to go apologize to Kuwabara! He deserves better than that!, " Keiko scolded Yusuke and pushed a plastic bag into his hands. Inside the bag was medicine for his cold, and a few bags of Yusuke favorite tea, and one candy bar. If chocolate didn't put him in a more tolerable mood, she figured he would truly be a lost cause. And then she'd have to kill him and spare the world his melodrama from a little cold.

Yusuke scowled, but got to his feet, a pout glued to his dace. He sneezed, and after a gross show of wiping snot on his sleeve he grumbled, "Yeah fine! I'll take the medicine!...but I won't apologize!"

Yusuke stomped off and Keiko rolled her eyes, a little smile on her face. Yusuke would apologize for punching Kuwabara in the nose, and then proceed the whine and ask for pity because he was sick. It was a normal routine of Yusuke, mighty demon warrior who only had one weakness...the common cold.

 

End

Chapter Text

"You know...if you were a demon...I could love you," a demon gurgled as blood flooded his lungs, and stained his teeth.

In an act of mercy, or just to silence the beast, Genkai thrust her hand into the demon's heart, killing him instantly.

Groaning as her bones creaked, she rose slowly from the demon's corpse and shook her hand of the blood.

"I'm getting too old for this!" She muttered annoyed as her back and hips creaked as she moved.

"What is with demons all confessing their love to you?" Yusuke's voice broke in from just behind Genkai's shoulder.

Slowly, Genkai turned to look at her student. She smiled at Yusuke's half annoyed half disgusted expression.

"Don't like the thought of me getting my bones jumped?" Genkai asked with a sickeningly sweet tone.

Yusuke's nose scrunched up and his sneer looked more like a grumpy child's pout. He kicked aside a demon's body, and folded his arms irritably. 

"It's...gross!" Yusuke said, voice sounding young and protective.

Genkai smiled, "What can I say...demon's are attracted to power. And I'm pretty powerful. Power is like honey to flies...and these pesky demons like my honey."

Yusuke snorted, and Genkia concentrated on popping her back, a little smile on her face as Yusuke made disgusted sounds.

"Come now Yusuke, don't be upset. These weaklings really aren't my type anyways."

"Ew. Genkai...stop. I don't want to hear about your tastes!"

"You've got to be at least an A-class to ride this ride-"

"NO! GENKAI STOP!"

Genkai chuckled as her student, who was more like a son, made horrified protests behind her, "Then you shouldn't have asked."

End

 

 

Chapter Text

He threw up as a long thin rubber tube was pulled from his throat.

His friends would come for him.

“Ach! Disgustin’!” a shrill voice shrieked. Unkind hands pushed the sickened figure away from them, tossing aside the rubber tube.

Kuwabara fell hard to a floor, curling into a ball in exhaustion and revulsion from his vomiting.

“Careful Tark! Careful…he’s some kind of psychic. That’s valuable! Don’t just toss him on the ground like he’s a common product! The less bruises, the less marks-the better!”

Kuwabara’s head swam as the voices talked about him, talked over him. Whatever had been pumped into his stomach had kept him weak. Kept him in a blur…

He wasn’t even sure how he’d even gotten here.

His friends would come for him…

“Psychic? Pff! Lotta good that did ‘em. I don’t think we’ve anything to fear here!”

“Just watch it would you?!”

As the two demon’s argued, Kuwabara brought his fingers to his throat. His eyes watered painfully as he stretched and curled his fingers down his throat. It took a moment, but soon he was gagging, and on all fours, vomiting the fluids that had been pumped into his stomach.

Completely emptied, Kuwabara felt his mind and strength begin to come back to him.

The voices of his two captors still floated overhead.

His friends would come for him…but Kuwabara wasn’t one to wait to be rescued-not again.

Kuwabara curled his hand into a fist, and a shock of light formed his trusted sword. Using it as leverage, he forced himself up, to tower over his two captors. Two greasy demons whipped their heads to the human they had been carting around like luggage.

Their eyes widened as Kuwabara glared down at them, still managing to look imposing with gray skin, heavy bags under his eyes, and puke staining the front of his shirt and dribbling down his chin.

Kuwabara held his sword in front of him, and sneered at the pathetic demons who had misjudged his strength, and thought they could take him away from all he held dear.

They would see Kazuma Kuwabara’s real strength.

And Kuwabara’s friends would come and take him away from this place, leaving behind two corpses of demons who would not even be remembered.

End 

Chapter Text

Kurama 's head lay heavily against his mother's bed, her hand weaving gently in his hair.

This was it...she was going to die. Sometime tonight she would slip away, dying peacefully thanks to her great old age.

She was leaving him. He closed his eyes, fighting the urge to cry. Botan had told Kurama what was to happen...and for that he was grateful. But even if his mother was 93 and had lived a long happy life-it still didn't feel like enough time. He would never have enough time with this wonderful woman whom he had called mother.

"Shuichi...come now my baby...talk to me," his mother's sweet voice drifted in,

Kurama sniffled, and silently the tears came.

"Honey...I know i'm running out of time," Shiori whispered, "I'm not long for this world. Don't you want to tell me something?"

Kurama said nothing.

"About you?" Shirori pressed.

Kurama looked at her through his watery vision, and his mother sighed.

"Shuichi you and I both know...that you want to tell me something...and time is short. Tell me. I love you...tell me son."

Kurama closed his eyes, as an old familiar guilt rose up in his throat.

"Oh goodness we're both too old for you to visit these familiar guilts! Shuichi the day I felt you stir within my belly, was a miracle, because months prior I had been told I had a miscarriage."

Kurama blinked rapidly, sitting up sharply, confusion flashing his face.

Shiori smiled patiently at him, " I had been about six weeks pregnant when at the latest check up with my doctor...well he told me I'd lost the baby. These...these things happen you know. It's terrible...but they happen. I'd been too ashamed to tell my husband...he never knew. And then...some time, around week twenty, I felt you stir inside me. It was the most opportune time to feel it too...because I had been standing on the roof of a hospital contemplating jumping."

"Mother!" Kurama cried taking her hand.

Shiroi smiled and pat her son's hand, "Don't be alarmed. Just...just listen. I was wanting to die because three days ago I'd been in a car accident and my darling husband...died in the crash. So there I was...without a child without a husband...my whole world falling down around me. And I climbed on the roof top...and I felt a shift in my stomach. I-I had never felt something like that until this day, but I went downstairs and talked to the nurses. And after a test...I was told I was pregnant. I told them I'd had a miscarriage...and they told me I was wrong. The baby within me matched the original gestation date. God I had the most amazing gift! I was going to be a mother. You made me a mother."

Kurama was speechless as his mother talked running her hand up and down his arm.

Shiori ran her hands over his hand, squeezing him affectionately, "I knew as you grew...that you weren't...weren't my husbands...or even really...fully mine. But you became mine the moment I felt you move within me. The moment you gave me a reason to live. So Shuichi, sweety...nothing you tell me now...or could tell me will hurt my love for you. So come now...tell me what you've wanted to say for years."

Kurama open and closed his mouth speechlessly for a time.

Shiroi chuckled and made herself more comfortable in her bed.

"Out with it now...we both know I don't have long, and I think you should tell me. I know you want to...and I don't want you to have any regrets."

Kurama found himself weakly smiling, and he leaned closer to his mother. The words he held onto all his life...it suddenly felt like he'd be able to say them

"Mother...I'm not human."

End

Chapter Text

“Noooo I don’t want it!!!” Yusuke whined, laying on his belly, and kicking his legs in a tantrum.

Kuwabara chuckled as he rolled up his sleeve, “I’ve told you man…you overextend your body-you need to get a massage.”

“Nooooo.”

“Your back hurts.”

“I hattttteeee ittttt.”

“You’ll feel better when it’s done.”

“It’s stupidddddd.”

“It’s your own fault for overworking your muscles!”

“But Kuwabara I was saving the dayyyy.”

Kuwabara rolled his eyes and straddled Yusuke’s back, “I’m going to ignore you now, because you’re just being a baby.”

And with Yusuke still whining like a brat, Kuwabara’s hands descended on his best friend’s back. Yusuke groaned irritably, wincing as his tired muscles were rubbed.

“I don’t get why people like this torture!” Yusuke whimpered.

Kuwabara chuckled, and winced as he felt a particularly tense muscle in Yusuke’s back, “If you weren’t so gung ho about going all crazy on your opponents you wouldn’t tear your back up like this man!”

Yusuke said nothing, but quietly pouted as Kuwabara pressed down on the many aching knots of his back.

“…This must be a sign of old age. My back never bothered me before,” Yusuke complained as his back cracked. He shuddered suppressing the relieved groan. He’d never admit that the back rubs helped-never!

“You are forty now…even if you look fifteen still,” Kuwabara agreed, “Things change in our bodies…even if you still look like a lil’ brat!”

“Shut up! We can’t be all ruggedly handsome like you!” Yusuke snapped.

“Oh so you think I’m ruggedly handsome?” Kuwabara asked concentrating on Yusuke’s Trapezius muscle. 

“It’s what your students say…you know the gaggles of girls in the back?”

“…At the school or at the shrine?”

“The shrine-but I bet your students at school are hot for teacher too-JESUS!” Yusuke hissed as Kuwabara intentionally pushed on tender part in his lower back, “Take it easy you bully!”

“Don’t be gross about my students!” Kuwabara countered, shaking his head.

“I’m not gross, they’re gross! And I’m telling you they think your handsome!”

Kuwabara snorted at Yusuke’s insistence, “Kids these days…I think you’re doing better…why don’t you stretch out and tell me how you feel?”

Kuwabara got up, and helped his shorter friend up from the ground. Yusuke grunted with the effort, but when he was on his feet, rolled his shoulders, and stretched his back.

“Alright let’s see if I’ll recover,” Yusuke sighed dramatically as her did a few stretches. He looked to Kuwabara, quietly noting his friends wrinkles, and the specks of gray entering Kuwabara’s hair. When Kuwabara smiled, his eyes crinkled, and lines appeared in his brow and around his mouth.

When the pair were out together now, they looked more like father and son rather than best friends.

Quietly, Yusuke wished for time to slow down…just give him a little more time with his best friend.

“Well?” Kuwabara asked, a brow raising into his hairline.

Yusuke sighed, “I’ll live. But i’m not admitting that my back feels better!”

Kuwabara snorted and bumped up against Yusuke, “Brat.”

Yusuke smiled, and flung an arm against Kuwabara’s back. Yusuke swallowed his instincts and didn’t call Kuwabara an old man. Not because it would bother Kuwabara…but because it bothered him.

“Yeah…maybe,” was the only response Yusuke found he could give.

End

Chapter Text

"I made a mistake!" Jin squeaked as he wiggled against his heavy bindings.

"Clearly!" Yusuke hissed, a large frown plastered on his face.

"I'm sorry!"

"I told you I was working!" 

"Ya never work!" Jin argued.

That comment seem to set Yusuke off, as he thrashed against his restraints, "FUCK YOU! I do too work! And When I say, 'Hi Jin can't talk now! Hunting down the next psycho bent on taking over the world,' You don't respond by FOLLOWING me and getting yourself caught!"

Jin's ears dropped, " 'M sorry!"

"And now we're both tied up while everyone else is downstairs fighting to save our sorry asses!"

Jin pouted, but smiled a thought seeming to have cheered him up, "...Least you're not alone!"

The shouting that followed could only suggest Yusuke was not as amused as Jin was.

End

Chapter Text

“Oh bleeding fucking shit!” Kuwabara sword as something hot tore through his stomach. In a terrible misfortune, time decided to slow down as the hot concentrated ball of spiritual energy tore through his flesh slowly, before scorching his insides and finally shooting out his back.

Falling on his knees, and then face planting in the dirt, Kuwabara was sickened to feel his blood pool around him.

“Holy shit! Oh Fuck!” Came Yusuke’s voice, followed by his firm hands pressing hard on Kuwabara’s wound.

Lying on his stomach, Kuwabara could not turn to look at his best friend. He could only lie there, as he tried to wiggle his hand beneath him, to clamp a hand against the hole around his front.

“D-did you not hear me say duck?!” Yusuke hissed trying to stay mad at Kuwabara. If he could be mad at Kuwabara, then he could look beyond the blood that was pooling from his best friend.

“No…no…I forgot that incoming fire had the right of way. I very rudely blocked its path, and it decided to tear a hole through me,” Kuwabara hissed voice clipped.

Yusuke cursed above him. He was silent for a moment, and then his voice on the edge of hope came through, “Are you…are you healing yourself?”

“Y-yeah. Genaki’s spirit wave was for healin’ she used to say. And she taught it to me. I’ve had worse than this measly little hole,” Kuwabara wheezed, concentrating on using his own energy to heal up his body.

“Oh….oh good,” Yusuke sighed, relief wafting from his voice.

“Go on Urameshi…get back out there. There’s like a hundred demons out there…I’ll be back up soon.”

“I’m not leaving you here with your ass up in the air, and your face buried in the mud. You’re a prime target!” Yusuke hissed.

“I’m healing and you know it!” Kuwabara whispered voice getting stronger, “Just go.”

Yusuke growled but was soon standing, “Fine! I’m going! You better rejoin us soon you idiot!”

“Quit acting like my mother!” Kuwabara argued back, feeling he had enough strength to roll over on his back. His wound was already mostly closed, though Kuwabara could tell his energy would be low.

Yusuke shot Kuwabara the finger, and then tore off back to the battle field.

Kuwabara took in a deep calming breath. This was just a tip-toe through the tulips when you dedicated yourself to working against all those that would threaten human and demon lives.

But God could it be a pain the ass.

End

Chapter Text

“But you see I’ve won here! I have your friend, and your bitch in my grasp! I’ve won! Surrender to me! Prostrate yourself before me like a simpering child and perhaps I’ll be merciful to the one that dies! Beg good enough, and abandon you vendetta against me and I may let them both off!” A demon laughed as he curled both his hands around Mukuro and Kurama’s necks.

Hiei stared back at his enemy, brow raised in annoyance.

“This is just bullshit,” Hiei muttered.

Mukuro and Kurama, both badly beaten and weakened from the demon who held them, hummed with agreement.

“W-what?” Stammered the demon confused and startled by the reaction of his two hostages, and Hiei.

Hiei sighed rubbing his eyes as if he hadn’t slept in a long time, “I’m very tired of you, and people like you… it’s bull shit. Let me put this in a way your unsubstantial brain can understand. I’ve fought demons like you for years-no I’ve fought demons you’re trying to replicate-for yearsAnd every time they pull something like this it end in epic and complete failure. Would you like to hear why?”

The demon’s mouth hung open in shock.

Kurama smiled with cracked lips, “Uh-oh you’ve got Hiei rambling.”

“Yes…he’ll never shut up now,” Mukuro agreed with a resolute sigh.

“I’ll continue since your paltry brain can’t seem to find an answer,” Hiei said with a wave of his hand, “So this ploy you’re trying always fails because it’s a tired one. And it only works on fools who are self-sacrificing idiots. And I only know one self-sacrificing idiot, and unfortunately for you I’m not him.”

“But the reason this is going to fail is because I know if you’re as great a villain as you say you are, no matter what choice I make here today-to save my lover or to save my best friend-if you’re truly evil it wouldn’t matter. If you were truly evil, and I gave up on my mission to save either of them, choosing them would be futile. If you were truly a threat, the world would end anyways and I’d lose both.”

“So you’re saying you’re not going to even try?!” The demon sputtered, hands tightening around his hostages’ throats.

Hiei smirked and shook his head, “No. I’m saying I’m smarter than you and I wouldn’t give my enemy the luxury of forcing me to choose between people I valued.”

Just as Hiei finished his words, a stream of blue light cut through the demon’s head, instantly killing the demon in a grisly fashion. Hiei smirked, and quickly approached Kurama and Mukuro who smiled at him proudly. Hiei looked up, over at a ledge Yusuke and Kuwabara had concealed themselves at.

Yusuke flashed Hiei a thumbs up while Kuwabara looked a little glum.

“Nice one Hiei!” Yusuke shouted.

“I’m the self-sacrificing idiot aren’t I?” Kuwabara demanded glumly.

Hiei smirked, returning his attention to his rescued friends.

End

Chapter Text

Koenma stared at the paper in his hands, before looking up at Hiei who was leisurely seating in a chair between Kurama, Kuwabara, and Yusuke. Hiei was examining his nails, clearly bored, while his friends avoided looking at Koenma. Kuwabara and Yusuke looked like they were trying not to laugh, but at least Kurama looked apologetic.

"So...on this reconnaissance mission," Koenma began, "A mission where you were to gather evidence...Hiei got bored of waiting and listening, and a quote from Yusuke, "Fucked up everybody, and everything, and it was hilarious, oh my God you shoulda been there!" And so...we now have no information-"

"Nope." Hiei answered with a nod still looking at his hands.

"No witnesses."

"No. All dead. They deserved it."

"And no IDEA where the stolen artifacts are. The stolen artifacts that this reconnaissance mission was even about."

"None," Hiei looked away from his nails, looking Koenma directly in the eye, "You should consider them gone because I doubt we'll ever find them again."

Koenma felt his head throb painfully as Kuwabara and Yusuke burst into giggles, tears streaming down their faces as Kurama tried to apologize to Koenma for causing more trouble.

Koenma close his eyes and proceeded to rub his temples to try an soothe the ache in his head.

With a team like this one, the headaches would never go away for long.

 

End

Chapter Text

"So what's happening now?" Jin asked, his large round eyes glued to the t.v.

"No idea Jin-you're blocking the t.v." Yusuke sighed, an amused smile on his face as the red head sat glued to the screen.

Chu reached out and hauled Jin back on the couch, "I can't believe you ain't seen a movie before Jin! Even I've seen t.v!"

"Yeah! Me too!" Rinku piped up.

"Well I've seen t.v. too and I know that when it's on, you should shut up during it!" Toya sighed glaring at everyone.

Yusuke, Chu, Jin, and Rinku just laughed at in Toya's face, the demon cringing angrily.

"Really now, how are we ever going to understand what we're watching with all of you carrying on so loudly!" Toya snorted annoyed.

"I dun' understand what's goin' on at all!" Jin half shouted, Chu tossing popcorn at him.

"Quiet long ears!"

"Long ears?!"

"Ha!"

"Why  be upset Jin? Your ears are indeed long."

"That's insensitive! Talkin' 'bout a man's ears!"

"Oi! You guys! Shut up! Now it really is getting too loud in here!" Yusuke shouted over the din.

He went ignored.

Yusuke sighed. Maybe inviting a bunch of rowdy demons over for a movie night was a bad idea. How did that old saying go? Blessed were the ignorant?

There was a shriek as Chu tossed the whole bowl of popcorn at Jin's face.

Yusuke cringed as the bowl shattered.

End

 

 

Chapter Text

Life was about a series of choices, good and bad.

Lying to your mom when you skipped school is bad. Giving your lunch to the kid in need at school was good.

But then again it's all about perspective.

The kid who skipped school and lied to his mom, skipped school because he was afraid to go. Afraid the bullies would hurt him again. Not wanting his mother to worry he lied. It was hard to say he did a bad thing then. And the kid who gave his food to the child in need, did it to gain the child's trust. Knowing that this kid who had nothing, would be loyal to him for his kindness, meant he had a willing patsy when he felt like getting away with some illicit deed. Could you really call this person good now?

Perspective made the difference, but life was indeed a matter of choices.

He was judged for following Sensui in his endeavors. Judged for helping Sensui try and destroy a world that had been ugly and unkind. Sensui had been a mislead, and horribly tormented child.

Itsuki just wanted to free Sensui from it... with any means possible.

That wasn't so bad, was it?

Life was about choices, and if he was going to be judged for his, then so be it. It didn't matter. In his head, he and Sensui were the heroes.

End.

Chapter Text

He was in the darkness, naked, cold, and curled on his when she came for him.

He blinked his eyes awake with a sudden start, and caught sight of the only light in the darkness. She was small, glowing white and red, and reached out for him as she descended into his well of blackness. Her eyes were closed initially, but as she drew near, her eyes opened and her blue gaze locked on him. 

Her youthful hand reached for him, and an intense anger took hold of him and slapped the passive hand away.

"Leave me! Leave me! I hate you! I hate you!" Sensui seethed, roaring at the bright light like a wounded animal.

"I have a job to do," The little girl whispered shaking out her stung hand, "And I'm not here to be loved. Everyone must face me and what I represent at the end-and your time has come."

"I said go!" Sensui bellowed roaring up to his full height towering over the child in the darkness, intending to smother her light with his darkness, "Go now! I hate you! Death can't have me!"

She stood firm, her lip curling in a snarl, and her light glowed all the brighter. Her judging gaze beat him harder than any fist, and he coward before her blue eyes. She continued too look down at him, seeming to rise and become mighty, willing him to curl back into a ball. 

And then very gently she laid her hands on his skin, and not unkindly began to speak, "But death has come for you. You've been wronged. And you've wronged many people in turn. For the pain you suffered you would have punished the whole world, and I'm here to tell you that that was wrong! For the wrongs of the few, you blamed the many and would have brought down everyone in your grief. You should be hated, you should be despised! I should be the one shouting at how much I hate you!" Her kind tone had twisted into something ugly, and Sensui shook at the weight of it.

"But I can't hate you," her voice whispered, her words full of emotion, "I was born to witness and know everything you ever felt. It's my job to ferry your soul, as well as understand it. You were so young and confused, and all alone in this confusion. Even if you won't weep for your past, I will."

Her small arms encircled his neck, and the girl began to weep, "You've done terrible things...but I can't hate you. I just can't. I was not made that way."

Sensui shuddered under her touch, and flinched as he sobbed. Her tears were a hurricane that wrecked his very soul. When the storm had passed, both their faces were wet. She dabbed her eyes, and with her sleeve dried his face.

"Come on now...my name is Hinageshi, and I'm to be your spirit guide. You can't wallow in darkness. I won't let you," She rose to her feet, extending her small hand.

Weakly, Sensui took it, and allowed this girl to tug him away from dank, deep, dark.

End

Chapter Text

Atsuko raised an eyebrow as she looked at an open and empty bag of candies on the floor.

She turned to look at her five year old sun, who had sugary evidence all over his face.

"Yusuke," She said patiently, "Do you know who got into this candy?"

"Yes," Yusuke said, voice quite solemn.

"Oh...You do eh?" She asked, a solitary eyebrow arching. She hadn't expected a confession.

"Yes Mama. My evil twin came in and ate everything!" Yusuke said, eyes wide and staring at his mother.

Atsuko momentarily closed her eyes to maintain her patience. But then she sighed dramatically and smiled at her son, "Oh thank heavens! An evil twin how frightening! Well! I'm glad it wasn't you. If it was you all the candy would make you terribly full. But I know you must be starving, so lets go have a big helping of dinner, and then a slice of chocolate cake."

She hid her smile at her son's horror, and delighted in taking his hand to lead him to the dinner table.

She wouldn't make him eat till he threw up, but she could make him squirm.

Atsuko hoped she'd be able to strike enough fear into her wild son that he'd learn to behave, but since he was hers, and was a little devil like she had been-she really doubted it.

End

Chapter Text

Keiko, Botan, Shizuru, and Yukina sniffled as they watched their favorite show. A truly tragic, and touching moment was unfolding before them.It was three in the afternoon, and their favorite soap opera about three Samurai brothers on a quest to save their eldest brother’s fiance, as well as their little sister from the clutches of a vile, and dishonorable lord was on. They battled many enemies, human and demon alike, as well as dealing with lusty encounters, while holding true to their brotherly bonds.

It was truly the best show, with gratuitous shots of muscled chests every other scene. By far, the most handsome character, with the best body, was Hanzou Ichii, eldest brother, and star of the show.

“Do you think Hanzou is going to find out Taichi is sleeping with the ice witch from the west woods?” Botan whispered, arm looped through Keiko’s.

“Oh I hope not! Hanzou has hated the ice witches since they enchanted his best friend Hachi!” Keiko whispered back dabbing one of her wet eyes with her sleeve.

“I’m more worried about Yamato being faithful! That female samurai is not only cool as hell, but she’s hot,” Shizuru said shaking her head with disapproval.

“Oh no! He can’t abandon Nadishiko now! She’s resisted the Lord’s advances and tricks for three seasons! Not only that, but she’s been keeping his little sister safe! And he’s resisted as well! Even with his brothers going through woman left and right!” Yukina gasped, hands on her face, as she worried over Yamato’s loyalties.

“…What is this?”

The four woman stiffened, and then turned slowly to look at Hiei who stood behind the couch.

“Uhhh….hi Hiei,” Shizuru greeted, trying not to smile as she wondered which window he came in through this time.

“Hiei!” Yukina chirped happily, “What brings you here?”

“…I was looking for Kuwabara,” Hiei said, far politer than normal with his sister present.

“Oh he’s with Yusuke somewhere!” Keiko sighed, trying to resist rolling her eyes, “Getting in trouble no doubt!”

“Why are you spying on the people in the box?” Hiei asked pointing at the television.

“Oh it’s a show Hiei, for entertainment!” Botan laughed, waving him him over to join them on the couch.

His lip curled in a snarl, and he squinted at Botan uncertain.

Shizuru held out a bowl of popcorn, rattling it at Hiei. The smell of buttery goodness reached Hiei’s nose, and after a weary pause, he took the bowl, and sat at the floor at the woman’s feet.

Bold, and unafraid, Shizuru ruffled Hiei’s hair.

He flinched, but said nothing turning his eyes to the t.v.

“So we’re watching a t.v. show…it’s like a play but on a small screen that you can watch in the comforts of your home!” Botan further explained.

“Yes, and it’s very, very good!” Yukina added.

“…Is that man holding his sword backwards?” 

“Oh! yes! Taichi has sworn never to kill again since he accidentally wiped out his girlfriend’s parents when he fell under a spell of blood lust! He keeps the dull side of his blade out to only stun his enemies!”

Hiei turned to look at the girls, his mouth curled with disgust, “And she’s still with him?”

“Yes, she says she loves him still, and forgives him!” Keiko sighed, eyes misty at the romance of it all.

Shizuru snorted, “Well I think she’s gonna fuck him up when he lowers his defenses.”

Hiei nodded in approval at this.

“Oh she won’t do that!” Yukina gasped appalled.

“I would,” Hiei muttered, and then jumped as one of the samurai brothers jumped up and shout a lightning bolt out of his sword.

“Okay what the fuck was that? That wasn’t spiritual energy!”

“No just special effects,” Shizuru chuckled.

“It’s not real Hiei, yon’t forget!”

“…So that man, is crying over his friends body because he wants to?”

“…Yes?”

“And this is fun to watch?”

“Yes!” All the girls agreed, before waving at Hiei to stay silent as Hanzou came on screen, and removed his armor. The camera panned slowly over the man’s broad chest, and chiseled shoulders.

The girls were letting out sounds of approval when Hiei noted, “His body looks like Kuwabara’s.”

Everyone, sans Yukina, was suddenly choking with horrified realization. Shizuru got up suddenly, having to leave the room as muffled horrified sounds escaped from her throat along with gags. Botan and Keiko were sinking into the couch bemoaning their cruel fate.

“…So this is so you ladies can spy on men that look like Kuwabara?”

“Oh God!” Botan pressed a pillow to her face.

“The imagery is ruined! I’ll never look at Kuwabara the same!” Keiko squeaked, her face glowing red.

Yukina, who seemed unaffected, leaned forward showing Hiei the remote.

“And if you click one of these buttons the screen changes!”

Hiei pressed a button, flinching as the t.v. was filled with static snow.

Yukina smiled, “Ah, this one is good too! If you look closely, all the white parts are different from one another! Just like snowflakes!”

Hiei grunted seeming to agree, and prefer the loud static over what they had just been watching. No one bothered to stop either him or Yukina, as they mourned the loss of what was once their favorite show.

Botan, Keiko, and especially Shizuru couldn’t look at Kuwabara for several weeks to come. 

Chapter Text

Kuwabara screamed as for the fiftieth time Yusuke sent his character careening off the screen. Yusuke cheered loudly as once again, he was declared victor at their favorite race car arcade game. It was literally a game where you tried to kill each other with fighting cars, while simultaneously racing, and therefore, was the best game ever.

And so, Yusuke and Kuwabara played it everyday until the owner of the arcade kicked them out of the store.

It was fantastic.

They were kicked out after their fifty-third match, and high-fived each other at their longest stent in an arcade without getting kicked out yet.

“Lets get some ramen!” Yusuke suggested leaning heavily into Kuwabara’s arm.

“Nah…man l’ve got a hankering for some fish cakes!” Kuwabara rubbed his stomach, grinning widely.

“I know a little restaurant with all sorts of shit…lets go do that then!” Yusuke suggested, and with that plans were made. And of course on the way, they argued about who could eat the most…

An hour later, the two young men were resting their heads on a plain table, plates piled high to the left of them. Their new bet was on who was going to barf first.

“…Shit…I gotta go back to the Makai tomorrow…and I don’t think I can get out of this fucking booth!” Yusuke moaned.

“Ugh…Man…I hate that you gotta go back so soon,” Kuwabara mumbled, feeling much closer to throwing up then Yusuke.

Yusuke sighed, and placed his hand on top of Kuwabara’s. For a quiet moment the two remembered they were hopelessly in love, involved in a complicated relationship that balanced their friendship, the difference between their lives, and whether or not they were comfortable kissing each other.

Being in love with your best friend was the best, but was also incredibly complicated with long days of questioning if you really understood yourself. 

What they pair had found was that the best answer was to wait for those quiet moments when everything fell into place, and they both realized: No. No they didn’t understand what was going on-but that didn’t matter. They loved each other. 

And that was it.

Kuwabara sighed, rose to his feet, and fished out a key from his pocket. He placed it in front of Yusuke with a loud clatter, “Well…when you get back. Move in at my place. And we won’t miss each other as much.”

Yusuke gaped at Kuwabara like a fish.

Kuwabara swooped down, and kissed Yusuke’s stunned face, and then announced, “I’m going to go throw up!” And with hands to his stomach walked slowly towards the restroom, lest he erupt in violent vomiting if he ran.

Yusuke stared after Kuwabara.

They were both so hopelessly romantic.

Chapter Text

Yusuke grunted as he hit the ground. Something had cracked inside of him…maybe a rib? Maybe two. Lifting himself up to all fours, he closed his eyes as his vision swam.

“Over confidant again, Yusuke Urameshi? What is it with you and your ego?” A sinister voice hissed, cackling as they mocked Yusuke’s efforts.

Yusuke wiped his mouth, scrubbing the taste of dirt from his teeth. 

“You ain’t seen anything yet,” Yusuke promised, eyes flashing.

“Trust me boy… I’ve seen all that you’re worth!”

Yusuke rose, his bones protesting. He rolled his head slowly, the bones in his neck popping as he tried to work out the kink in his neck. Yusuke ran his tongue along the inside of his mouth, and with a defiant spit, he sneered at his enemy.

“If there’s anything that I’m known for, it’s that I’m too fucking stubborn to know when to give up. And hey, guess what? It seems I win every time I get back up!”

Yusuke’s words had turned into a roar, and his opponent took a hesitant step back, afraid of the fierce flame burning in Yusuke’s eyes.

“So let’s go pal! Because you don’t know a thing about me!” Yusuke roared, grinning as he felt a painful twist in his side. Leaning forward into his stride, Yusuke dashed recklessly ahead, ready once again to face an idiot who liked to talk too much.

Chapter Text

“Doesn’t it just…make you so mad?” Shizuru burst as Hiei walked away from the shrine.

Yukina looked over at her long time friend, “What do you mean?”

“You know what I mean!” Shizuru insisted, “You know…”

A silent moment drifted between them, and Yukina let out a patient sigh, “Ah…that. Yes…sometimes I get a little frustrated. But…”

“But?”

“If Hiei can’t bring himself to tell me the truth-that’s okay. I will live for a long, long time…and I can be patient,” Yukina chuckled innocently as if she’d just answered the easiest question in the world.

Turning fully in the direction her brother had left, Yukina continued, “I can wait for him to tell me…and if he never does. That’s okay too. If Hiei just goes on living, and lives for as long as I…and near my side…then that is enough for me.”

Chapter Text

Botan watched closely as sixteen year old Yuna Hiruga giggled over the latest fashion trends with her best friends on the phone. Yuna was currently going on about a new shade of nail polish called, "Pearl blush." All the girls-if they were "cool"-needed to wear "Pearl Blush" on Wednesdays. It would be a new trend.

Botan wondered what about this particular shade of nail polish denoted someone's, "coolness factor."

As Yuna continued to rave about the polish, Botan looked at her blank nails. If she indulged in such activities, would it make her more human? She had been human once... would she feel human again if she tried the latest trends, called friends, and giggled loudly?

She supposed she would need friends first...

But would she feel... anything if she acted as the giggly teenage below her?

Yuna grew silent, and Botan snapped her attention to the teenager. Yuna was done talking and began to ready herself for bed. Yuna had to brush her hair one hundred strokes, then shower, then brush her hair one hundred strokes again before she felt ready for bed. After choosing between the stripped pajama set, and the spotted pajama set, Yuna pulled a picture of the boy she liked from a book. Yuna sighed girlishly at the boys image, and kissed it many times, before tucking it back in her book.

She stretched, yawned, and then threw herself into bed, before falling into a hasty sleep.

Botan gently lowered herself from her oar to Yuna's pink carpet.

Yuna would die sometime before midnight tonight due to a house fire.

In the mean time, Botan glanced at Yuna's face. Yuna was so bubbly, and peppy... did that carry over in death? Could you be cheerful in death?

Timidly Botan reached out for Yuna's nail polish, and with a nervous hand untwisted the cap. Borrowing just a little, Botan applied the "Pearl Blush," to her left thumbnail. Holding her hand before her, Botan felt her heart flutter. This...this was nice.

Botan smiled, gazing at the small color she applied to her nail. She was so lost admiring the bit of color she missed the first wisps of smoke entering Yuna's bedroom. Botan came aware of the smoke at the sound of Yuna coughing in her sleep. Looking to the teen, who would soon come to pass, Botan only hoped Yuna remained asleep. It would be easier.

Looking back to the nail polish, Botan picked it up carefully. She turned it once over in her hands, before tucking it into the sleeve of her kimono.

One day she hoped to laugh with girls who were Yuna's age, and together the could wear nail polish and giggle about boys they liked...

She wondered later, as Yuna sobbed quietly on the back of her oar, if that was ever possible for reaper. Botan glanced behind her, and she wondered if she should say anything. She didn't normally say things to the dead... well sometimes if she had to. But she was really supposed to ferry the souls, their comfort and rest would be later in the afterlife.

"...You know the boy you like is going to name his daughter after you. He always admired you and wanted to see you naked!" Botan suddenly blurted.

Yuna looked up at Botan with red and wet eyes. She was staring at Botan as if she had three heads. Botan offered a rusty sheepish smile and muttered, "That...that wasn't maybe the best ice breaker was, it?"

Yuna scrubbed her face, and sniffled, "Um...No. No it wasn't."

An awkward silence passed over the pair, before a tiny giggle escaped Yuna, "That was...kind of weird."

Botan chuckled, relieved to hear the girl laugh, if even weakly, "Yes sorry... I don't talk much to the people I pick up!"

"You make it sound like you're a taxi service!" Yuna snorted, her laughter a little watery.

Botan grinned, "I kind of am when you think about it!"

By the time the pair had reached spirit world, Botan had felt more alive than she had in many, many years. When she allowed Yuna in to Koenma's office, Botan felt lighter than she had before. Perhaps she could greet all of her ferries... after all why did death have to be so scary.

Fifteen years later...

"Don't move!" Shizuru scolded as Botan tried to pull away from the eyelash curler.

"But it's freaky!" Botan whined.

"Oh come on you scaredy-cat!" Keiko giggled as she applied a second coat of blue nail polish to Botan's fingernails.

"I don't see why I have to do this torture! Why not you two!?" Botan whined, even if no real complaint hung to her words.

"You're the one who mentioned you thought Koenma was cute, and you can't go in to work looking the same every day! Not if you're going to catch a man!" Shizuru answered with a tut.

"He won't be able to resist!" Keiko agreed, giggling with excitement as she closed the blue polish.

Botan flushed red, her heart beating hard. Carefully she held her hand before her face, trying not to turn her head as Shizuru continued to poke and prod at her face. She looked at the blue polish and remembered a bottle of pilfered polish that sat on her desk in spirit world. She had revered the stolen nail polish like a charm... and it felt nice to think she was finally getting what she had wanted all those years ago.

Shizuru placed the eye lash curler down, and picked up some tweezers, "Okay, Botan, turn your head to me!"

Botan cringed, trying to remind herself that she had wanted this...

End

Chapter Text

Hiei closed the door with a soft click, but the sound could have been as loud as as a door slamming with how quiet the room was.

"His ribs are busted, and the toxin is making his way through his blood stream," Hiei announced, voice quiet and steady.

Kurama, who was using a damp rag to wash his hands, did not look up at Hiei, "I administered the nightshade mixed with the demon's foxtail plant. He'll have to fight, but the toxin will pass through him and he'll recover. It will be painful…but he will survive."

"…And what do we tell him about…?" Hiei let the question hang in the air.

Kurama knew what he was asking.

Kurama examined his nails, looking for any missed blood or grime, "…We tell him the truth. It was a calculated decision, we chose the one who would survive. As hard as it was, we made the choice-"

Hiei's fist collided with Kurama's face.

Kurama was rocked to the side, the rag falling to the ground. A moment of stillness hung between the pair, and seeming to not have received the response he wanted, Hiei lashed out with the other fist, punching Kurama on the other side of his face. This time, the hit sent Kurama from his chair on to the floor.

Hiei grabbed Kurama by the scruff of his shirt, and pulled the fox close, and glared down hard at his companion. Hiei's red eyes bored down into Kurama's marred face, willing the man to meet his gaze. Kurama refused to meet it.

"Look at me!" Hiei snarled, his red eyes flashing, and skin flushing red from anger.

A silence passed, and Hiei shook Kurama roughly, "Dammit-I said, Look at me!"

Kurama finally looked to Hiei's face, and trembled at what he saw. Hiei's face was a mingle of tormented emotions. Anger, sorrow, hurt…all displayed open on Hiei's face, and worse yet, were the tears that cascaded unbidden down his face.

"We are not going to go in there and tell Yusuke we chose his life over…over Kuwabara's because of some calculated bullshit-especially when its not even true! That's not why….that's…" Hiei seemed to realize he was crying, and released Kurama from his grip.

He turned away, his fists curled tightly at his sides, and his shoulders shaking as his head stooped low into his chest.

Kurama eventually dragged himself up and approached Hiei. There was a pregnant moment where the air was stiff and filled with tension and unasked questions. But Kurama's arm came up and he wrapped Hiei in a hug from behind, and shared a rare tight embrace with his longtime friend.

Hiei did not pull away.

"…You didn't… we didn't let Kuwabara die because we thought Yusuke was the one who would make it. There was nothing calculated about it. We weren't…"

"Kuwabara didn't even give us a choice," Kurama whispered, his voice sounding strained and raw. He bent his nose low, pressing it into Hiei's hair, clinging to the shorter demon for comfort.

"When I reached for him, Kuwabara knew I could only…I only had enough strength left to lift one of them. Kuwabara…he looked at me. He took my hand…he let go…and he fell…he fell so far…

Hiei closed his eyes at Kurama's soft words, and tried not to think of a long body curled and crumpled on the ground. Alone and broken, lying in the dirt.

"He let go on purpose," Hiei muttered.

"Yes."

"…Why anger Yusuke and tell him that you would choose his life over Kuwabara's?"

"Yusuke needs someone to be angry at-"

"Kurama-"

"So do you. So do I. It…Yusuke shouldn't be angry at Kuwabara"

"So you'd make yourself the target of everyone's anger? You're a fool!" Hiei spat, his hand coming to grip Kurama's wrist.

Hiei closed his eyes as Kurama pressed his wet face to Hiei's neck.

"You're a fool, " Hiei criticized again, eyes closed tight, and hand gripping Kurama's wrist. He would not let go, nor would he let Kurama go through with his half cocked plan.

And for a long time, until the silence came too much to bear, the two held each other, trying to find comfort in the desperate embrace.

End

Chapter Text

Kuwabara’s arrived to his new apartment late that night.

It was small, much smaller than the apartment he had shared with his sister, but it was his, and it would work fine while he finished his student teaching.

He was still counting his blessings for running into that little princess, Chibi-Usa. If that charming little girl hadn’t helped him, and introduced him to her friends Kuwabara was sure he would have never found the Juuban junior high school. And after meeting with the teacher he was going to work under, he was pleased to know it was those helpful girls’ homeroom teacher.

It looked like he would be seeing Usagi and her friends again rather soon.

As soon as he had closed his apartment door, he heard a beeping coming from his pocket.

Rolling his eyes, he fished out the little compact mirror. His sister, Botan, and even Yusuke had insisted he take a communication mirror so that they would be able to contact him. As Botan put it, ‘ What Koenma didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. ‘

For at least two hours now, the mirror had been beeping for Kuwabara’s attention.

Opening the mirror, he was greeted with Yusuke and Shizuru’s angry face.

“YOU’RE LATE!”

“YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO CALL AS SOON AS YOU GOT TO THE SCHOOL!”

Kuwabara winced at Shizuru and Yusuke’s combined shouts.

“Easy, easy you two!! Easy! I got lost! I’ve never been to this city before-”

“Then you should have contacted us immediately!” A sympathetic voice preened, before Yusuke and Shizuru’s face blurred away and were replaced with Kurama’s. “We could have given you directions!”

“No offense Kurama, but it looks weird if I pull out a compact mirror in public!” Kuwabara sighed, sitting on one of his unpacked boxes. It felt sturdy beneath him, and Kuwabara reasoned it was probably his desk, or dining table.

“You should have called-if at least to silence Yusuke’s whining,” Hiei’s faint voice could be heard from somewhere off-screen. Several shushing sounds followed soon after.

“Gimmie the mirror!” Shizuru and Yusuke both snatched the communicator, and Kuwabara watched his screen fizzle in and out from the tugging, with barely concealed amusement.

“Yusuke-He’s my brother! I get a turn first!”

“Come on Shizuru! Bros before-”

“If you value your life-I’d shut your mouth!”

The camera screen grew blurry again, and Botan’s smiling face swam into view. She had angled the mirror so that Kuwabara could see his sister and Yusuke fighting in the background. Kurama and Hiei stood nearby, both looking very amused as Yusuke was dragged into a headlock.

“Hello Kuwabara!”

“Hi, Botan…”

“Did you have a nice first day? You make any new friends?”

“You know it was pretty nice,” Kuwabara admitted, smiling, “I even met some future students. Interesting enough they seem to have some sort of high spiritual energy.”

Yusuke and Shizuru stopped fighting, and even Hiei and Kurama’s attention seemed to be snag. In a flash, people were piling around Botan, their faces smashed, or cut off from the small screen.

“Did they feel dangerous?”

“Do you need us?”

“Were you threatened? Do I gotta kick some middle schooler’s ass-because I will!”

“Do you need Koenma to look anything up?”

“Kazuma?”

Kuwabara laughed, pressing a hand to his tired face, “Guys! Easy! You’re so paranoid! No one felt dangerous…just…strong. Powerful. One girl works at a shrine, and I bet the others do as well.”

“Well how do you know they weren’t dangerous?” Yusuke demanded.

Kuwabara closed his eyes, “They were very kind to me. And two of them, a little girl, and her blonde sister…radiated this pure energy. And they had this cute kitten-”

“Just because they have a cat doesn’t make them good people Kuwabara!” Yusuke interjected, voice loud and high-pitched as he whined.

Kuwabara laughed, his eyes still closed. He really was exhausted from his long day. “I just really can’t explain to you guys…they each had a unique energy, and it was safe. As safe as…as safe as kittens. As warm as the sun. As white and pure as…”

Again a white caste flashed through his mind…the earth shimmering ahead in black sky filled with twinkling stars…He reached his hand down, and let it fall on top of a little girl’s head. She held a black cat in her arms, and the cat looked disgruntled to being held so. The girl was smiling and reached up for him. “Sensei!”

“…ara.”

“Kuwabara?”

Kuwabara snapped his eyes open, “…As white as moonlight.”

Kuwabara blinked a couple times, and looked into the communication mirror, filled with the worried faces of his his friends.

“I’m sorry guys,” He apologized, sitting up straighter, “It’s been a long day. I got lost, met a cute kids and her friends-who will be my students, found the school, had  a late meeting with the teacher I’m working under-I’m just exhausted. That’s all.”

“Well…get some rest then,” Shizuru sighed, sounding a little disappointed. She hid it well with a smile, and added, “Call me-call us tomorrow, we’ll want to hear about your first day at the school.”

“Yeah and call if you’re in trouble! Kurama, Hiei, and I will come running!” Yusuke added in, grinning brightly.

“Why me?”

“Oh shut up Hiei.”

Kuwabara laughed and smiled, “It was good to hear from you guys…I really miss you.”

His friends and sisters smiled at him from the small compact mirror.

“We miss you too baby brother. Good-night.”

The communication mirror went dark, and Kuwabara sighed getting up. He dropped the mirror on the kitchen counter, and then went over to the small couch in his living room. Flopping down on it, he figured unpacking could wait, and the small couch would be a fine bed for the night.

As he began to doze, Kuwabara chuckled at his paranoid friends. There was no way those girls were dangerous. There was just something…special about Usagi Tsukino and her friends. But it was surely nothing dangerous. It felt too…nostalgic to be dangerous.

And without another thought Kuwabara sunk into a deep sleep, dreaming of moonlight, roses, two cats with crescent marks on their foreheads, and a mother and daughter with long shimmering white hair.

Chapter Text

“Did you bring them, Shou?” 

“Yes master Yen, I have them here. They put up a fight, but once the bigger one was overwhelmed, the fox came along easily! It was just as you said…” A demon with a higher pitched voice (Shou presumably) eagerly answered the darker voice of his employer.

Shou tossed two figures that were half his size against the stone tiles of the floor. 

One figure was large, battered and lifeless. His body hit the floor and lay sprawled and boneless, unmoving against the cold stone. The second figure had chains on his arms and about his wrists. He fell sprawling to the floor as well, but unlike the first figure, he sprang into action rather than lying lifeless. With his hands still bound behind his back, the second figure managed to rise, and position himself near the first, eyes flashing, and mouth set in a threatening snarl. 

A deep chuckle bounced around the room, emanating from the darkness in the corner. As the echoed laughter continued, a tall and pale hulking figure appeared out of the inky blackness. Three silver eyes flashed over to the two figures before him. He raised his hand and waved at Shou, “Good. You may leave. Prepare two crates, and contact the usual clients. Let them know we will have an auction.”

Shou bowed, “Yes Master Yen!”

The door was shut behind the scurrying demon, and the three were left alone.

“Well…You two were awfully hard to catch. But now that I have you, I see the stories are true. The silver fox Kurama has changed his pelt to red, and made friends with a human who is impressively strong…though from the looks of him…not strong enough.”

Yen bent down and reached for the unconscious figure’s face. His hand sunk into the fleshy cheeks and Yen tilted the bruised and battered face towards the dim lights of the room and smiled as he recognized one of his targets’, Kazuma Kuwabara.

Kurama’s hair seemed to bristle as his whole body tensed, the chains bruising his skin as he puffed up in rage. “Don’t you touch him-” Kurama spat, his heart in his throat as he made to lunge for the demon. 

The demon swept his arm out, catching Kurama by the stomach and sending him skidding across the floor. When Kurama came to a stop, he coughed pathetically as he tried to recover from the hit.

“Now, now…silly fox. Those chains aren’t mere decoration,” Yen said cooly, a smug smile tugging at the corner of his lips, “They weaken any demon bound up within them, so don’t you think you can attack me! You’re not even at a quarter of your strength right now.”

Kurama did not answer, which seemed to satisfy Yen further. Without another glance towards Kurama, Yen turned to continue his examination of the downed human.

Yen cupped Kuwabara’s head in his hands, casting a discerning eye over Kuwabara’s face. He nodded, eyes calculating and seeming to approve of something. Yen’s long fingers traced the curls of Kuwabara’s pompadour, and the demon let out a reverent breath as the curls glistened in the low light, “Golden orange. Like polished copper or the light of the sun….beautiful. Truly, beautiful. But then again, your hair now…is also beautiful. Deep red…like the finest rose, or a drop of blood.”

“I didn’t think you were the type to wax poetics Yen…” Kurama grunted from his curled position on the floor. The strike had hurt more than it should have, more than anyone had hurt him in a long time. Yen had spoken truly when he claimed the chains were weakening him. Kurama could really feel himself getting weaker…no. No, it was like something was suppressing his abilities, making him feel sick.

But weak or not, Kurama wouldn’t let Yen paw all over Kuwabara.

It was a struggle, but he managed to roll from his prone position and turn to get back on his feet. As he rose, he kept his body low and his green eyes locked on Yen, glaring at him as he tried to think his way around any tactics Yen might pull.

“Look at those sharp eyes…” Yen chuckled, dropping Kuwabara carelessly against his arm, “Even if you don’t look like how I remember you…those eyes are still wicked, and bloodthirsty to the core. You used to be white and gold…beautiful in its own right… But the red and green will sell much better.”

Kurama’s lip twitched and his face twisted in disgust, “So you’re going to sell me? Will I be a slave of some sort, and will someone scalp me so they can have a fine fur? You’re pathetic Yen…such obvious tactics won’t work to frighten me-”

“This human here is the real prize, however.”

Kurama’s words died in his throat, and he was left gaping at Yen as a hard ball of tension flooded his gut.

 “A healthy human is worth quite a lot on the market,” Yen droned casually, twirling a long finger in Kuwabara’s hair, “A human with impressive spiritual energy puts a human on another level when it comes to the market…but red hair….”

Yen let out a low whistle and gently set Kuwabara on the ground, “Red hair has always been a fascination to the demon world. That red hair you got there…red as blood. It’s typical for a demon but still sought after. You’ll fetch a pretty penny. But this color here, copperish gold…that’s a bit of an abnormality. I could sell him for such a high price…I could retire.”

“Why…?” Kurama suddenly rasped, a cold chill starting in his stomach and flooding up and out to his limbs.

“But I could keep him for myself,” Yen continued not looking at Kurama, ”like a pet. He could be my fighting dog. Enough time with me…he’ll have no humanity left and he’ll be nothing more than a savage animal. But selling him is more fiscally responsible,” Yen made a disappointed noise, “It’s so hard to decide. I’d like to keep him…but money is so good. And then if I sell him…well who knows what others would do to such…a fine specimen,” Yen trailed a hand down Kuwabara’s chest suggestively, “with enough stamina to endure. Any demon would love a human that won’t break so easily…”

“Your quarrel is with me!” Kurama spat, rising to his full height and taking an anxious step forward, “In the past-”

“In the past,” Yen echoed voice dripping with a long sleeping anger, ”When you were a silver fox instead of a red…you stole from me. You humiliated me. You even turned my servant against me! He was mine!”

“Kuronue was never yours to keep,” Kurama hissed, ignoring the pain brought about by his fallen comrade’s name.

Kurama’s utterance seemed to unhinge Yen, and the demon stood quickly turning enraged eyes towards Kurama. He shifted his whole form to face the chained man, eyes flashing with violence and lips stretched thin as anger coursed through his body. 

It seemed Kurama had found the heart of the problem here…

“He was mine! And he would still be alive if you hadn’t… hadn’t seduced him away!” Yen snarled, spittle beginning to froth at the corners of his mouth. “I’ve waited…waited long years to make you suffer for what you’ve done!”

“Because I robbed you? Humiliated you?” Kurama snorted his voice filled with bitterness, “Or because I stole someone away from you before you could violate them?”

Kurama remembered his first meeting of Kuronue a lifetime ago. Kuronue worked as a thief for Yen but was constantly having to watch his back. Yen was a slaver, he sold demons and humans alike. And if anyone denied Yen…they would often find themselves being auctioned off at one of Yen’s slave houses. Yen had lusted after Kuronue a long time, and when Kurama showed up one day, offering Kuronue a way out, he took it. Kurama had made off with what Yen considered a great treasure, a missed opportunity to slate his lusts.

And even hundreds of years later it seemed Yen still couldn’t forgive Kurama.

“Kuronue was mine…would have been mine! No one I have desired has ever said no to me! They wouldn’t have had the chance!” Yen howled a crazed look in his eyes.

“Kuronue belonged to no one…I didn’t even own him. I just gave him a way to escape,” Kurama sneered.

“And a lot of good that did him! He would have been safer with me!” Yen cried hands flying wildly in the air, “Safe in my hands! Better to be with me, than die as he did traveling with you!”

Yen’s words cut like a knife, and Kurama had to close his eyes against the memory of Kuronue’s bloodied body. Kurama took in a deep breath to steady himself, before in an even tone he whispered, “Better to die free with me, than in a cage he would not have bared.”

Yen let out a snarl of disgust, “I’ve been looking for you for years…I was going to make you pay for snatching away my prize! I thought I’d wipe out that human woman you’ve been living with, but then I caught wind of your human friend. Pale skin, red hair, and a decent power level to boot! Through him, I’ll truly make you suffer!”

Kurama met Yen with a cold glare, “You highly underestimate me, and even worse, you underestimate Kuwabara. You won’t be able to get your way.”

Kurama’s sudden cold and collected demeanor sent Yen into a frenzy.

“I’ll sell your friend to the highest bidder!” Yen roared, “To a group with the darkest desires!  And I’ll force you to watch as they change your human into nothing more than fodder! And when they are done I’ll have a go. When we’re done with him, they’ll come for you!” Yen howled, and raged, taking several threatening steps forwards.

His enraged face twisted to one of shock as a glowing blade erupted from the back of his neck and then out the front. The blade twisted for a moment, seeming to be stuck against the thicker part of his neck, and then with a swipe, Yeh’s head came off. Blood and gore splashed out, coating the floor and the attacker with blood. Yen’s body and head fell uselessly to the floor, while Kuwabara landed a little clumsily next to the mess.

“Fucker…” Kuwabara muttered, spitting blood from his mouth, and blinking against the blood that trickled down his face in rivers.

Kurama ran forward pressing his shoulder and body against Kuwabara so that the human could lean against him, “You attacked early…we were supposed to wait for the explosion!”

Kuwabara grunted in acknowledgment and leaned heavily against Kurama. Kuwabara’s legs were shaking and he was clearly losing strength.

“I’m sorry…I know it was early…but I was really beginning to pass out!”

Kurama lowered himself to his knees, Kuwabara following with. When Kuwabara was close enough to the ground he pitched forward and caught himself with his arms. Groaning he lowered himself to the ground and lay there in the blood of their defeated enemy, muttering in disgust.

“I knew those demons roughed you up too much! I can’t believe we went with Hiei’s stupid plan!” Kurama muttered, eyes looking over Kuwabara’s injuries with a keen eye. He flexed his fingers in irritation, knowing he could not actually help Kuwabara until the chains were actually removed.

“It was the only thing to do Kurama! With Yen stalking you, it was a matter of time before he caught you, or your mom-or hell your whole family! He was really out to get you! We’re lucky Hiei found out about his idea to get you, and that Murkuro knew enough about the slave market to know you and me would be a high commodity…” Kuwabara sighed. He made a  grunting sound and rolled over onto his back, blood completely soaked into his shirt.

Kuwabara frowned deeper, “This is so gross but I’m too exhausted to move…I’m going to make Hiei and Yusuke bathe me as punishment for taking so damn long!”

Kurama sighed, straining uselessly against his chains for a moment, “This plan had too many risks. We didn’t account for these chains. I was much more useless than I thought. And you were so quiet and still…I really thought you were knocked out…”

Kuwabara sighed closing his eyes, a coy smile tugging at his lips, “Well…I’ve faked my death before…”

Kurama chuckled, “Well you shouldn’t be so damn good at it!”

As the two shared a moment of dark humor, the building shook from a violent explosion that was taking place a few floors down.

“There they are…” Kurama sighed, tension unwinding from his shoulders, “Late.”

Kuwabara snorted, “As usual. Bet you ten dollars Urameshi’s gonna scream for me.”

Kurama opened his mouth, but before he could speak, Yusuke’s angry and concerned voice echoed from downstairs, “KUWABARA!!”

Kurama’s mouth hung open and he looked to Kuwabara who still had his eyes closed. Kuwabara’s mouth split into a wide grin, “Told ya. Now, wait until he sees me covered in all this blood! He’ll really scream then!”

There was a moment of silence, and then Kurama devolved into ugly wheezing laughter.

By the time Yusuke and Hiei had kicked down the door, Kurama was lying on his side choking from his fit of unexpected giggles, while Kuwabara smiled smugly, his glistening white teeth the only thing on him not dyed red. With the pair covered in blood and Kuwabara lying next to a decapitated body…it must have been some sight.

 

END

Chapter Text

“What color was his hair?”

“I’ve told you this-”

“Please! tell me again!”

Yusuke sighed and leaned against the door frame of the small bedroom, that housed an even smaller little boy. With weariness clinging to his very essence, Yusuke dared a look at the child’s face and instantly regretted it. 

He could never deny such an eager expression anything.

Yusuke pushed off from the door frame and collapsed on the bed, the child giggling as the exhausted man fell next to him.

“His hair was like a penny…cleaned and bright on one side, and dirty and scuffed from the road on the other…” Yusuke began, beginning a familiar tale that he told the boy almost every night.

“And he was tall?” The child persisted, his eyes wide and eager. His shining face was not a bit tired, even if it was a half hour past his bedtime.

Yusuke smiled and shifted to lay on his side, propping his head up with his fist, “Oh he was so tall! Taller than me. Taller than Kurama…he was a giant. But-”

“But…” the boy echoed in the same reverent tone.

Yusuke grinned and ruffled the boy’s hair and forced him into the pillows, the child giggling but not resisting.

“But,” Yusuke continued, “He had a heart of Gold. He was a man of honor, with a strong spirit…and a mean left hook!” Yusuke snickered and rubbed his chin, as his memories began to return to him, “And he…was my very best friend.”

The child yawned, and Yusuke sat up, guessing his time to leave and get some rest of his own was finally coming. Yusuke tucked the boy back in and heard the faint murmur of, “I wish I knew him.”

Yusuke smiled, his throat getting tight for just a moment, “He would have…well, actually he would have loved to meet you. Would have thought it was pretty cool..”

“Mmm,” the sleepy voice murmured.

Yusuke grinned and pecked the kid on his forehead. “G’night Kuwabara.”

“G’night Yusuke…”

And in another heartbeat, the child passed out burying his face in the comforts of his pillow. Yusuke snuck from the room and slowly backed out into the hall pulling the door behind him. He took a moment to marvel at the child curled up in bed.

Almost fifty years ago Kazuma Kuwabara had died, his natural life running its course. It had been hard on everyone…especially Yusuke. But then, seven years ago, Koenma showed up with a demon child in his arms, and Yusuke knew. They all knew.

As impossible as it seemed, Kuwabara had been reborn and found his way back to them…

‘He always hated to be left behind,’ Yusuke thought as his eyes traced over his miniature best friend’s sleeping face. He grinned one last time, excited for the day when Kuwabara and the child would be one and the same, and finally closed the door.

Chapter Text

“I’ve got you! I’ve got you!”

The voice swims to him, stirring him from his dreamless slumber. A siren is going off somewhere. It’s a soft sound at first, but slowly the sharp sound is getting louder, and shifting into a high-pitched wail.

It makes him feel dizzy, despite the fact that he’s on the ground.

“Hey! Hey! Open your eyes!”

The voice can barely be heard over the sound of the siren.

It’s terrible.

Something is squeezing his wrist. The owner of the voice…maybe? 

“I’ve got you…hey! Please…please…respond! Do something!”

His wrist is squeezed again, but he can’t open his eyes. The siren is blaring through his ears, and he is spiraling. He is pinning violently, even as his body lays still on the ground. As he gets dizzier, pain is starting to set in.

“Please!”

Something crawls up to his hand, and his hand is being held. It’s not tight. Their hand is shaking. It’s warm…

“Please…please…” the owner of the voice is crying.

The siren is a bell ringing only in his ears.

“Just squeeze my hand…”

The ground is twirling him in a sickening dance, spinning him with hopeless abandon.

“Anything…please…do anything.”

Kuwabara opens his left eye and stares into the green eyes of Kurama. 

Kuwabara does not understand it, but he is pinned to the grinned by something. It’s squeezing his head and pressing him hard into the ground. He can barely breathe. His left arm is extended in front of him, and in a haze, he notes his thumbnail is gone. Pale fingers gently rest on top of his hand, while Kurama’s terrified face hovers just above the clasped hands.

“Kuwabara…Kuwabara! We’ll get you out. We’ll get you out! Just stay with us..”

Kuwabara closes his eyes. The ringing in his ears intensify again, and the dizziness swallows him up. He can’t figure out what has happened. He knows if he lets himself he will remember…but he can’t. He won’t.

He’s too tired, and the siren is too loud.

Not even the warm hand can coax him back to the waking world again. Not that desperate voice, or those beautiful green eyes. Kuwabara closes his eyes, and for the first time surrenders to the blackness that wants him.

The blackness that claims him.

Chapter Text

On Monday, Yusuke needed his knuckles cleaned.

He had punched a thug so hard in the face, the man's tooth had cut his knuckle. Yusuke winced, but not from the pain. He hadn't meant to punch the guy that hard, not a human opponent anyways. He was damn lucky he hadn't killed the guy.

But it pissed him off that this asshole was hollering at Botan and Yukina, asking if the girls wanted to sit on his lap and ride his one-eyed-snake.

Botan had said, "Ignore them," and Yukina had smiled not really understanding. Or if she did she was good at acting like she didn't.

But Yusuke wouldn't stand for it. It pissed him off too much.

Now he sat obediently at Genkai's shrine, listening to Botan lecture, as Yukina soothed his hand. Yusuke didn't say anything. Not even when Kuwabara, Kurama, and Hiei had materialized as if seemingly out of the blue. They watched as if there was any cause to worry over such a little feeble cut. Still, Yusuke said nothing.

He didn't mind if they drifted together like this, or if Botan was screeching at him. It was nice, in its own small way.

On Tuesday Kurama was grinning as Hiei helped relocate his shoulder.

He couldn't help it, really Yusuke and Kuwabara were making too big a fuss. It was very funny, as they switched out from either yelling at Kurama, or fighting the demon beast that had attacked Kurama.

There were in the forest of Makai hunting down a demon who was going around trying to wreck the peace Yusuke had established three years ago. This wouldn't stand of course. But it seemed Kurama had been a little careless when he stepped in front of his friends as a beast sprang forward, charging recklessly at them. Really, Kurama just couldn't help himself.

"Hold your shitty self still," Hiei whispered, his eyes narrowed with concentration.

Kurama's giggles faltered once, as Hiei gave a sharp shove against his arm. The pain was fleeting, but the look of sharp concerned alarm on his friends' faces was enough to make the pain an afterthought.

Wenesday, they were still in the damn forests, and Kuwabara was choking for air.

He was much stronger now and had trained himself to become accustomed to the toxic air of the Makai. It was really quite impressive. Even Hiei had no sharp remark to make about Kuwabara's efforts.

They had caught the demon, and beaten him to a pulp, but Kuwabara had expended a lot of power. 

Yusuke was wiping the blood off his chin, while Kurama and Hiei shoved the body of the slaughtered demon off a cliff so that it could decompose and be forgotten. Kuwabara had held back, wheezing. His wheezing turned to coughing, and then to gasping, a high-pitched rasping sound that caught his friends' attention. Kuwabara pitched backwards, a hand to his chest, and Hiei caught Kuwabara before he was even halfway down to the ground.

Now Yusuke was holding Kuwabara's hand against his throat, encouraging Kuwabara to listen to Yusuke's pulse, and breathe deep and slow to every heart-beat. Kuwabara's eyes were heavy-lidded, and really he would be okay. His power was recovering, especially as Kurama rubbed a plant against his skin that seemed to revitalize him. Kuwabara blinked lazily, wanting to laugh and smile.

Hiei's face was especially worried and looked angry as it twisted with his concern. Kuwabara wouldn't tease him over it though. Not Yusuke or Kurama either. 

He wouldn't dare.

Thursday, Hiei had damn near blown his arm off with his Dragon of the Darkness flame.

Kuwabara was gritting his teeth and healing Hiei while his energy flared. Hiei was... maybe impressed that Kuwabara had become so skilled in the art of healing. Perhaps healing suited Kuwabara more than fighting. It surely suited Kuwabara more than killing.

Yusuke was pacing, kicking up leaves, and cursing the wannabe villians that had attacked them as they marched towards Yusuke's home, freshly out of the Makai forest. Yusuke stopped to pull up a tree that was about as wide as Kuwabara's chest and threw it with irritation.

Hiei chuckled, and Kurama growled disapprovingly at his side.

Kurama was holding Hiei up, digging his nails into Hiei's shoulder to keep him awake. It was annoying but there was no point saying anything.  Kurama would be coddling him until Kuwabara had healed Hiei as much as he could.

Hiei sighed instead and looked at the worried lines in Kuwabara's face. He was sweating a lot. Really, this was overdoing it. He twitched his good hand, ready to shove Kuwabara away and tell him to stop already! Yusuke was kneeling next to Hiei, and his hand came down on his. Hiei glanced at Yusuke, and his suddenly serious brown eyes bore back at him.

Hiei resettled himself.

He had to put up with it.

Friday they were all separated lying beneath the rubble of a torn down building.

Yusuke was already blasting rock off of himself, roaring angrily for the location of his friends, swearing that those idiots better not be dead.

Kurama lay still in the small space of the rocks he was under. He was safe in a little cavern created by the angle of the fallen rubble. He could hear Yusuke screaming, and was torn between calling out or staying put. If he stayed put he would see Yusuke's really angry upset face, and that thought was pretty entertaining. Oh but was it worth not knowing if his other friends were okay?

He sighed, no... no, it wasn't.

"I'm here idiot," Hiei sighed, throwing a huge slap of concrete off his body, "Quit that damn racket!"

Hiei smiled though when he saw Yusuke's almost tearful expression. Really, Yusuke could be such a simpering child. Exhausting, and not endearing at all. Really.

Kuwabara was not amongst the rubble.

He was gone.

Saturday was spent with Yusuke, Hiei, and Kurama rage tracking the demon down who had spirited off with Kuwabara.

It seemed their foe had escaped the collapsing building and had taken an unconscious Kuwabara as a hostage or a snack, or God only knows what!!

It was not even two hours past the beginning of their search when they stormed an old castle in the demon realm. The look on the demon's face would have been comical if they weren't so consumed with their worry. He looked as if he had damn near pissed himself as his door shattered.

But it was not funny, because he had Kuwabara and all three demons could smell Kuwabara's blood, but not see him.

It was short work ripping the guy apart, and following Kurama's nose, and residing on Hiei's Jagan to find Kuwabara in a largely empty room.

Kuwabara was leaned up against the brick wall, breathing hard in the dark. He was banged up and slowly trying to heal himself, but at the same time trying not to expend so much energy that he would choke on the miasma in the atmosphere. With one eye (the other swollen and closed) he looked up at his friends and grinned wide.

"Hey guys..."

"Kuwabara!" Yusuke shouted, dashing over to throw his arms around Kuwabara, pulling the taller man into the crook of his neck and chest. 

Kuwabara sank readily into that embrace letting out a shaky breath. Kurama and Hiei were at Kuwabara's side, Kurama dusting grime off Kuwabara, his green eyes flicking wildly over Kuwabara. No doubt Kurama was trying to make out Kuwabara's wounds, come up with a plan to get Kuwabara out of here without jostling those wounds, and the fastest way to do so. All at once of course. Hiei was surprisingly, really surprisingly, raking his fingers through Kuwabara's hair and clearing out the remaining bits of rubble from his hair. Hiei's touch was stark proof that he cared about Kuwabara, even if he refused to say.

"I knew you guys were comin'," Kuwabara slurred, his voice filled with a bit of choked emotion he tried to suppress.

"Of course," his friends echoed, their hearts on their sleeves as they reaffirmed their friendship.

Really, they had all been through too much to pretend they didn't care now.

Sunday, they did nothing.

At Yusuke's home, the overly large mansion in Makai, with its too many rooms, and too many servants, four friends relaxed together.

Yusuke was on the floor, propped up by pillows, sleepily watching something on t.v. The one that played human channels that Koenma had helped install in Yusuke's home. Kuwabara had his head in Yusuke's lap, drifting in and out of sleep. He didn't seem to care that Yusuke raked his fingers through his hair, trailing this hand down Kuwabara's arm every so often. Hiei sat on a comfortable chair, that had been scooted behind his friends. He had one foot on Kuwabara's waist, not pressing against him, but hovering enough so they could feel each other's warmth. Kurama was sharing the space with Hiei, even if it was a little tight. He had his head resting on Hiei's shoulder, and his knee pressing softly, carefully into Yusuke's back.

They sat close, quiet and peaceful with each other. Too close in such a spacious room, but no one uttering a word of complaint.

Really, it was just a typical week.

 

Chapter Text

"Oh!" Kuwabara's loud gasp of shock stopped Kurama's laughter.

Not all at once. They had been laughing together about Yusuke's latest crazy stunt after all, but slowly Kurama calmed down. When he managed to taper his wheezing off into just a light chuckle, Kurama quipped a brow and asked, "What is it Kazuma?"

Kuwabara reached out, pressing a gentle thumb under Kurama's eye, "You have a wrinkle... you know... uh crow's feet is what my sister calls them. You're aging!"

Kurama tilted his head, "Oh... is that so surprising? I am forty now after all."

"Yeah, I just..." Kuwabara dropped his hand, and then threw both arms behind his head, and smiled wide, "I didn't know you could age... I mean... Yusuke and Hiei don't... so..."

Kurama smiled up at Kuwabara, taking the man's appearance in for a moment. Kuwabara's auburn hair had become flecked with white and gray early. You couldn't really call his hair auburn at all anymore. When he smiled, the lines around his mouth were a little deeper, and there was an extra wrinkle in his brow now whenever Kuwabara furrowed it.

Kuwabara was aging too.

Kurama was a demon in a human's body. When his mortal shell withered away, he could be a demon once more if he so chose. He could shed his body now and be Youko again. Ageless, powerful, beautiful. 

Kuwabara was going to age and fade away. His auburn would turn to white, and one day Kuwabara would be a memory.

Why should Kuwabara do that alone?

Kurama smiled, "Really Kazuma... pointing out another man's wrinkles! I should be offended!"

Kuwabara laughed again, the corners around his eyes crinkling.

The corner of Kurama's eyes did the same as he returned the smile.

 

End

Chapter Text

Hiei hated him as soon as he saw him.

Tall, loud, human, dumb... all easy to find negatives that Kuwabara wore on his sleeves as if he were proud of them. If you had to be flawed, at least try to hide them.

When Kuwabara opened his mouth, it was even worse. The idiot thought he could threaten him! Thought he could spout insults as if they would bother Hiei.

Fool!

Really, Yusuke had been bad enough, and now Hiei had to tolerate this giant buffoon too?

How did Kurama endure the daily life of humanity if you had to speak with idiots like this Kazuma Kuwabara?


 

Later, Hiei would think maybe, just maybe, Kuwabara could have a good point.

Here or there.

On occasion.

Rarely.

He was nice to his sister.

Went to rescue her, and save her from those that had harmed her. 

He had been... genuinely remorseful about the torture she had undergone, and about the terrible side of humanity she had seen.

"There's some good humans out there," Kuwabara has promised in a broken voice, no doubt tired from his fight with Toguro.

Hiei thought that was doubtful, but what would you expect a fool to do but make foolish promises?


 

Hiei wasn't sure what to think when Kuwabara announced he was prepared to face Toguro head-on.

He'd been marked for death, the chosen sacrifice to make Yusuke stronger. Kuwabara has been afraid at first, Hiei could feel it rolling off the young man in waves.

It was the smartest thing Kuwabara had ever done.

And then the fool stopped being afraid, and was just ready to die?

What the hell for?

"This is no time for your showmen ship. Face Toguro now and you'll die before this minute is through."

Kuwabara smiled, a grunt of understanding.

Hiei couldn't hide his shock. Kuwabara rambled about how he was a man, and it was his time, and if he did his duty he would have no regrets.

What fucking duty did a fourteen year old kid have? What made that idiot think that there was anything okay about sacrificing yourse-

When Toguro wrenched his hand from Kuwabara's body Hiei sprung forward and took a wild swing at the towering enemy. He missed.

It was all so foolish.


 

 

 

In his absence, a new enemy had appeared to cause problems.

And he had taken Kuwabara, angering Yusuke, and risking the safety of the human world.

It seemed they were going to somehow make Kuwabara open the barrier between the human world and Makai.

It's a foolish feat.

Kuwabara won't do it if it means harming others.

If there's one thing he has come to understand is that Kuwabara is an idiot, but has a heart of gold.

Kuwabara wouldn't open this barrier, most likely not even under torture...

He supposed they had better get to rescuing the fool, or Yusuke might cause even more problems.


 

Kuwabara would be left behind this time.

There was no reason for Kuwabara to join them in the Makai. He had his own goals, entirely human goals, and they had expectations that needed to be met in the Makai.

It didn't mean that Kuwabara didn't still feel devastated at being left behind.

It was written all over his face. He hated to be left behind, even if he didn't know what he could do to help.

What a fool. 

They'd be back for him.

Yusuke and Kurama would be back of course.

Maybe Hiei would come too.

Yukina was still here after all. 


 

Kuwabara had surprised Hiei by throwing his arms around him.

"What... what are you doing?" Hiei rumbled, standing stiffly in the unexpected embrace.

"It took you long enough!" Kuwabara laughed, squeezing Hiei tighter.

Hiei could snap him like a twig.

"You've been gone longer than Urameshi! I know you got yourself a girlfriend now but you need to come see your friends too!" Kuwabara continued, a huge grin plastered on his face.

It would be easy to kill him now, the idiot didn't even have his aura flared up for the barest of protection.

"Well come on Hiei, come inside! I'll get Shizuru to make you something good, or at least passable okay?" Kuwabara was looking at him now, his hands on Hiei's shoulders as he smiled down at Hiei.

Hiei put his hand on Kuwabara's wrist, gently. He did not smile, but something about Hiei's expression just seemed to make Kuwabara happier.

"Foolish."

 

 

End

 

Chapter Text

Calloused hands slid over his face.

Thumbs pressed into his cheeks, feeling along the edges of his cheekbones. They trailed down towards his lips, gently pressing against his lowered lids as fingers splayed over his face. He could feel the heat of the fingertips that hovered so gently over his skin. A hand curled, twisted and knuckles brushed against his jawline, tilting his face with careful examination.

Kuwabara was awake, and Yusuke was touching him ever so gently in the dark.

This was unexpected.

If it was anyone else, Kuwabara would be terribly unnerved. If it was anyone else, he would have thrown a punch and demanded to know what they thought they were doing. 

But it wasn't someone else, this was Yusuke. 

Kuwabara focused on keeping his breaths deep and slow as his friend explored his face. It was... comfortable to be honest. He couldn't recall ever getting a gentle touch like this. No... well, no... that was incorrect. Yukina had held his face gently in her hands, but it was with confidence. A sureness. She knew what she was holding, what she was doing.

Yusuke was touching Kuwabara with an uncertain explorative tenderness. Yusuke was tilting his chin and touching the countors of his face so carefully, so tenderly. He touched Kuwabara like he was a treasure.

No one had ever treated Kuwabara like he was a treasure before.

Kuwabara breathed deep, and Yusuke stilled for a moment. Then his index fingers stroked over his brows, drifting slowly to his eyelids touching his eyelashes.

Maybe this was happening because the Dark Tournament had ended today. They would be going home without Genkai, and everything hurt and pinched. It was over, but things were bitter and maybe wouldn't be fully right ever again. Maybe Yusuke was touching him because when Kuwabara was stabbed by Toguro, Kuwabara thought he saw his friend die a little inside.

Pretending to be dead had been incredibly hard.

Yusuke's breath was on his lips.

Kuwabara sighed and shifted in his sleep, turning away if only so he wouldn't panic and open his eyes. 

Yusuke's hand trailed down his throat now. Slow, and firm enough not to tickle or make Kuwabara squirm. The touch did do something to Kuwabara's stomach though. It flopped and flipped nervously, something warm tingling there. His heart had picked up the pace, and an uncertainty fluttered in his chest.

What was Yusuke and those hands doing to him?

The hands were back on his face, creeping up his throat. Warm, and a little more resolute. They had intention now. His face was tilted again and he felt Yusuke turn his face. The warm breath of his longtime rival, and now dearest friend was against his face again. Kuwabara breathed in Yusuke's breath, parted his lips and took it in.

Yusuke leaned, and gently pressed his brow to Kuwabara's, his hands settling on the side of his head. Yusuke leaned causing the bed to sink. How could Yusuke think Kuwabara wouldn't feel this disturbance? Any normal person would have woke up by now, didn't Yusuke know? 

Yusuke's eyelashes tickled against Kuwabara's face, and he heard Yusuke sigh, a great heaving shudder of relief.

Kuwabara opened his eyes.

Yusuke's eyes were closed, but even still Kuwabara could see his friend's face was twisted in confusion, sadness, and bitter longing.

Kuwabara knew what to do before the thought entered his head.

Slow but steady he took Yusuke's face, seeing Yusuke's eyes fly open with a start. Kuwabara titled his chin, closed his eyes and pulled. Their lips collided in a hard silent clack of gums and teeth clashing. It made Kuwabara's eyes water, and he felt stupid. Easing up a little, he adjusted and pressed softly against Yusuke. The ache faded, and the warm mouth on his was still. Kuwabara pulled with his lips at the Yusuke's lower lip, noting it was cracked. Gently, uncertainly, he licked Yusuke's lips to give the dry mouth moisture.

Yusuke groaned low in the back of his throat.

Yusuke's arms slid under his shoulders, and he was pressing hard against Kuwabara while pulling him up. Surprised, Kuwabara's arms wrapped around Yusuke so he wouldn't lose balance in those arms that pulled and lifted. Yusuke had him up now, sitting in his bed, one arm around Kuwabara's back, and the other cupping the back of his neck as he pressed them closer. 

Kuwabara's injured chest ached, ached like it did when Toguro thrust his hand inside his flesh, but that pain couldn't distract him from the kiss he was currently sharing.

Yusuke's teeth dragged Kuwabara's lower lip out and sucked gently. Kuwabara exhaled a shaky breath, and Yusuke seized his moment. His tongue pressed sharply against Kuwabara's lips and slid along Kuwabara's tongue. Kuwabara trembled, uncertain what to do now that this was happening. Undeterred, Yusuke's tongue rolled into Kuwabara's mouth, curling around Kuwabara's tongue, pulling and sucking. Yusuke wanted to know every part of Kuwabara's mouth, and Kuwabara gave in and let him.

He was hot, too hot. The heat intensified as Yusuke's hand slid up the back of Kuwabara's shirt. His splayed hand burned Kuwabara's flesh and he arched, and moaned into Yusuke's mouth, Yusuke growling with appreciative desire.

These two simultaneous noises were enough to stop him. The spell broke, and they pulled apart eyes wide and breath heaving. Distantly, Kuwabara remembered Kurama and Hiei were also in this hotel room, sleeping just nearby. Kuwabara disentangled himself, just a little so he could sit more at ease and give Yusuke room to settle comfortably across from him. Yusuke's hands slid to Kuwabara's, and he took the large hands in his own, managing to encase those large hands in his small ones. 

Kuwabara licked his swollen lips and tasted Yusuke.

He dared to look at Yusuke who was waiting for him.

Yusuke let out a soft breath and blinked a few times before focusing on Kuwabara. 

"W-why?" Kuwabara whispered softly, his heart in his throat.

"Why did you?" Yusuke countered.

"You were touching..." Kuwabara whispered, and pulling a hand away, he reached up and pressed a thumb gently under Yusuke's eyes. He could feel a pulse there. It was moving fast. "Why?" Kuwabara asked again.

Yusuke took in a shaky breath, "You... can't... Toguro almost took. Took you away. I. I..." Yusuke's sentences were short, halting, hard. His breath became ragged and he closed his eyes against invisible pain. "I can't. No... Not you. I can't lose you. Kuwabara..."

Kuwabara's head caught up with his heart, caught up with his body, and he leaned forward and pressed a kiss to Yusuke's brow. Slow. Deliberate. Firm.

He pulled back just enough to whisper, "I can't lose you either Urameshi. Don't leave me again. I... I'll fight for you."

"I'll fight for you," Yusuke whispered, "Don't you leave me. Stay."

Kuwabara nodded, his hands slipping into Yusuke's. There was something they weren't saying, weren't ready to say yet. They could deal with it when they were ready. Not tomorrow, but somewhere down the line. It would be a slow exploration, as slow and gentle as Yusuke had been when he had touched Kuwabara's face.

Hands held tight, the two leaned against each other, reassuring themselves that they each had pulled through.

Kuwabara stroked his thumb over Yusuke's knuckle, and Yusuke squeezed Kuwabara's hands tight.

And everything was alright.

 

End

Chapter Text

"I didn't know humans became so weak when they retired," Hiei grumbled, sounding oddly and abruptly offended.

"Hmm?" Kurama managed a highlighter in his mouth as he poured over his Step-father's financial reports. He needed to see if he could convince his dad to hire an accountant. These records where shoddy.

"Kuwabara. He's not even fighting them. He's just going to let them corner him!" Hiei growled, exasperation dripping in his voice.

"What are you talking about?" Kurama asked, blinking as he pulled his head out of the paper he'd been focusing on.

Hiei rolled his eyes to the sky, an expression that made Kurama gawk. Hiei pointed ahead of them, and Kurama looked out and across the street.

Kuwabara stood outside a cafe, holding a small box with three coffees. Kuwabara had graciously offered to go get them all drinks after seeing the exhausted frustrated look on Kurama's face. The redhead hadn't realized Kuwabara had been gone longer than normal, but now that he was looking up he could see why.

He couldn't help but smile at the sight of five girls who had surrounded Kuwabara and were chatting him up. He looked sheepish at whatever they were saying. Most likely a mix of idol worship, sincere praise, and desperate flirtation.

"He's certainly become popular in college," Kurama mused, chuckling at Kuwabara's supressed annoyed face.

"Now that he doesn't fight, he's just going to let those women bully him?" Hiei snorted, folding his arms.

"What?" Kurama asked again, now looking to Hiei.

Hiei pointed, "He's not going to fight them, and they are clearly looking for a fight."

Kurama laughed hard, choked, and then laughed again. When he calmed down Kurama shook his head, "No... they don't want to fight. And you also know that Kuwabara didn't fight women before he "retired," as you called it."

"Are you blind, look at how close they are to him. They want to fight!" Hiei snorted, pointing accusingly at the woman who were enclosed around Kuwabara.

Kurama laughed again, "No... those girls don't want to fight."

"What's going on?" Yusuke's voice cut in, appearing behind them as he arrived late to their meet up.

"Those girls are going to fight Kuwabara."

"What?!"

"No! No, they are not!" Kurama wheezed choking again on a burst of laughter. Gesturing loosely with his hand, Kurama explained, "They are just clearly... attracted to Kuwabara."

Yusuke made a face, "Oh, gross." 

Hiei squinted at Kuwabara and the gaggle of girls for a long moment. One of them placed a hand on his arm, and Kuwabara seemed to shrink with embarrassment at what was said to him.

"Oh, they want to mate," Hiei blurted suddenly getting it.

That was it. Kurama was cackling.

Yusuke made a disgusted sound again.

"Why is he against it, he likes women?" Hiei asked.

"I think Kuwabara's more interested in your sister-" Yusuke's snickering was cut off as Hiei punched the man in his stomach.

Yusuke was snickering now, even if he was doubled over and hurting.

Kurama wiped tears from his eyes and let his laughs taper off, "Kuwabara has become popular at his college, and I think he's not one for... hmm.... cliques? False friendships, or frivolous love? Kuwabara's... honest."

Hiei squinted, quiet for a time. When Yusuke stopped wheezing and could stand straight, Hiei spoke again, "No. No, they want to fight him."

Hiei got to his feet, "If Kuwabara won't fight them I'll do it."

"HIEI WAIT!" Kurama exploded, dropping the papers in his hand as Hiei disappeared from their view.

But it was awkwardly, and unfortunately too late.

As several girls shrieked, and Kuwabara shouted in shock, and Yusuke decided in very Yusuke-like-stupidity to shout, "Yeah! Go Hiei, kick them in their stomachs!" Kurama thought he might be laughing about this for months.

Provided they weren't all arrested later.

 

Chapter Text

The pulse in his ears is too loud. 

There’s blood roaring under his skin and rushing in his ears.

Someone shouts his name and he’s not sure who, but his hands are grabbed and he’s tugged down hard, his body hitting hard against rock and firm flesh.

He blinks, looking through a haze of red up at worried brown eyes.

“…Yusuke?” Kurama slurs, unsure if that’s who had him.

Hands press against something on his side, and it burned. Yusuke’s eyes were wide and scared, and he was saying something, but Kurama couldn’t hear.

That earlier explosion had been too loud.

He blinked, one eye at a time. He tried to blink again, but it was the same result.

“Oh… I am concussed,” Kurama whispered.

Hiei appeared next to his left, hovering over the two, ducking as a red light roared overhead. Hiei and Yusuke exchanged words, and Hiei looked down. His hand joined Yusuke’s in applying pressure and Kurama moaned.

He wished they didn’t do that.

A hand fell to his neck and now Kuwabara was there casting a large shadow over them. He was bleeding from his lip and talking rapidly. There was another flash of red and the trio above Kurama flinched.

Rocks blew up in the air and Kuwabara shifted raising his arm against falling debris. Kuwabara leaned over saying something to Hiei and Yusuke, the pair looking relieved.

“Tits,” Kurama murmured as Kuwabara’s chest bumped his nose.

His friends looked down at him then, and he’s sure he can hear Yusuke laughing, but Kurama’s really not sure. He is very dizzy.

Kuwabara’s hand replaces both Yusuke and Hiei’s, and a soothing energy is burning through a wound that is slowly closing. Hiei and Yusuke get up as one to charge ahead, the distraction Kuwabara will need to heal Kurama in the middle of a fight.

Kurama tilts his face into Kuwabara’s arm, his other hand still at his neck. Maybe because he’s dizzy and confused, or maybe because he’s longing for comfort he kisses Kuwabara’s pulse.

He feels Kuwabara look at him rather than see it, but this time he can actually hear words, and Kuwabara says, “I’ve got you, I’m here… I’ve got you.”

Kurama smiles, and knows Kuwabara is telling the truth and doesn’t fight the sleep that overtakes him. He’s safe, and that’s good.

Chapter Text

Hiei sat stiffly at a long table, staring out at a man who was trying to scare him.

The fool.

Hiei had perfected a mask that he tucked his emotions behind years ago. He'd crafted it as a child, the mask forming the moment he was dropped off a cliff, and only a few people had seen under that mask. This man would no be one of the few who got to see. Who got to know his thoughts. His heart.

Instead, Hiei picked up a wine glass, and sniffed the red substance before taking a long slow pull from the glass. He smacked his lips his tongue gliding over his teeth as he recognized a familiar note in the drink.

"Blood... so you make your own red wine then?" Hiei said swirling the contents of the glass.

"That I do. I'm quite talented," the demon simpered, taking a sip from his own glass, "Shall we have dinner before we get into our discussion?"

"Discussion?" Hiei echoed his red eyes seeking his host's gaze. "What is there to discuss. You have something of mine... return it."

The demon snorted holding a hand out as two other, larger demons stepped forward. They stopped at his gesture, and Hiei resisted rolling his eyes. Why was it people thought you had to be big to be very intimidating.

"Oh, I don't think you're in any position to order me around. I think instead, you are going to have a nice little chat with me about his release. Now, how do you like your meat? Rare, medium, well done?" The demon said cheerfully as he pressed a chin atop his folded fingers, delighting in his duties as host.

"Please Cythraul... the only reason you are still alive, still in the safety of your home getting to pretend you're more important than you are, is because Yusuke Urameshi is engaged elsewhere. If he knew what you'd done, you be dead," Hiei laughed, a real laugh at this demon's stupidity.

"Oh?" Cythraul whispered, eyes widening in mock surprise, "I took him not to anger Yusuke... but to anger you."

Hiei polished off his wine, "Now why would this act bother me? If anything it's an annoyance. I'm here merely because if I didn't come now I'd be dragged into it later, and that's fucking worse. I'd be shouted at half the day as we destroyed your people, your house, and then finally you. And I just don't like the thought of being nagged to death."

The demon smiled and finished his own glass, "Because you don't make friends easy. And you and I.... have history."

Hiei smirked thinking of the many times he had embarrassed Cythraul in one form or another. It was really easy to take down someone who thought they were superior at everything.

'Don't get full of yourself or you'll fall into the same misgivings...' Kurama's voice said in the back of his head.

"So for old times sake... and to bring you down... I thought I'd take something of yours... and maybe... break it in front of you," Cythraul laughed, his voice light and pitched high. He was gloating already thinking he had something over Hiei.

Hiei held up his empty wine glass, "I say again... return what you've stolen. Last chance to keep on breathing,"

"Your glass is empty!" Cythraul said tsking in a disappointed tone, "How careless of me... oh Kira. Please fill it for me. And Tao... top it off with my special additive won't you?"

A demon, dressed like a waiter uncorked a bottle and filled Hiei's cup. He allowed her to do this, his hackles now raised at the overconfidence his foe was exuding. Tao, a big lumbering sort, stepped out of the room, and while Hiei remained calm, he shifted his placid expression to gaze at Cythraul's face. A voice that sounded like Kurama in the back of his head warned him for what was to come.

It didn't make it easier when the truth was shown.

Tao dragged in the very battered form of Kazuma Kuwabara, who had been missing for almost twelve hours. Kuwabara was battered so badly, that the unmarred parts of his pale flesh practically glowed in the darkened room. Hiei stayed still, not daring to react at the sight of his missing... friend. 

Kuwabara looked at Hiei with one eye, his left swollen shut from the beating he had received. He was clearly out of it, be it from a drug, exhaustion, or a concussion or a cocktail of all three Hiei didn't know. The demon, tao thrust Kuwabara's arm over Hiei's glass, and Hiei's masked slipped as his eyes widened. Kuwabara had a fresh wound at the inside of his elbow.

Tao squeezed letting the blood drip into Hiei's glass.

"You did say you liked the wine," Cythraul clarified, tilting his head, "Right?"

Hiei shattered the wine glass in his hand his blood was boiling so hot.

"Now how do you like your meat-" Cythraul had looked down for a second, and when he looked back up he snapped his mouth shut. 

The demon guards he had surrounded himself with were falling around him. Chopped into large chunks from a hand that had moved too fast for him to follow. Wielder of said hand now stood on the table before him, his sword dripping with blood and his eyes ablaze with malice. Cythraul swallowed and leaned back in his seat, "So...it does have a heart."

Hiei pushed his blade through Cythraul's body faster than the demon had been expecting. Cythraul gasped like a fish, and Hiei twisted his blade a little deeper.

"Come Cythraul... is that a fireplace behind you?" Hiei whispered, his voice shaking with how livid this wretch had just made him, "I'll let you see how I like my meat prepared. I prefer... well done."

 

 

Chapter Text

"Kuwabara you have to jump!"  Kurama roared over the sound of crumbling rock.

"I can't jump that far!" Kuwabara shouted back, Yukina tucked in tight to his side, "Not with someone in my arms!"

The earth hissed as a large chunk of rock fell into dark depths. It smashed against the crumbling cliffside, echoing out back at the group reminding them they needed to urgently move.

"Get over here!" Hiei roared, coughing harshly as the effort made his broken ribs ache. "Kurama put me down! Put me down now!"

"You can't get them Hiei you're too injured," Kurama hissed, a warning in his voice, and anger flashing in his eyes.

"Damn you! I can-" Hiei struggled before his face turned white as he reopened a bloody wound.

Another crack echoed beneath Kuwabara and Yukina's feet.

"Kazuma..." Yukina whispered voice tight with concern.

Kuwabara growled in response, startling the woman. He wasn't growling at Yukina but was growling with frustration at the chaos falling around him, growling at the fact that they were separated from their friends. He turned, scooping Yukina up in his arms and took several steps back. His arms bunched and tensed beneath Yukina's slight form, and the woman looked at Kuwabara's face knowing what he was going to do before he did it.

"Kazuma! But you-!" She began to say, but Kuwabara began running forward.

He let out a feral roar and tossed Yukina with all his might.

Kurama swore, and hastily set Hiei down before running back to catch Yukina sloppily in his arms. The pair collapsed in a heap, as another loud crack filled the air, and more of the crumbling cliff Kuwabara was on fell away.

"Kuwabara!" Hiei rasped raising himself up best he could as he looked for Kuwabara's large form.

The cliff Kuwabara and Yukina had been on was sinking, crumbling away in groaning bursts. Kuwabara was on all fours, breathing hard, a pained expression on his face. He had probably pulled or strained something in his efforts to get Yukina to safety. The ground fell away behind Kuwabara cutting off his exit, not that there was anything Kuwabara could run back to.

The side Kuwabara was on was crumbling away, deteriorating into muddy rubble. Rubble that swallowed trees and stones in their dark depths and looked to do the same to the stranded human.

"Kuwabara!" Hiei growled out again, cursing as he forced himself to his knees, another of his ribs cracking as he moved to hastily.

"Kazuma!" Yukina's voice joined Hiei's, the ice maiden running forward to grasp her brother and look out at Kuwabara.

"He'll never reach us..." Kurama hissed, limping forward to join Hiei and Yukina, eyes peering down at Kuwabara on his sinking perch.

Kuwabara finally raised his head, breathing hard. He tried to rise to his feet, but the earth beneath him shook violently and brought him back down. Half of what remained of Kuwabara's cliffside sloughed off like melted butter, crumbling towards the darkness below. It would be a long fall when at last everything crumbled, but Kuwabara tried to put that from his mind for now.

Sighing Kuwabara held up an arm and waved at his friends, taking in their tense faces.

"Okay... I... looks like this is it for me..." Kuwabara called, shifting as the cliffside towards his left fell away. He shuddered but forced a smile, "You better... you all better go now. I don't want you to stay... and... and see..."

Yukina had her hands pressed to Hiei's side, the red-eyed demon hissing as she rapidly began to heal him.

Kurama was coaxing plants to grow beneath him, bearing his teeth as he growled, "Come on! Hurry! Hurry!"

A final loud cracking sound filled the air, and all eyes found each other as the cliffside Kuwabara clung to completely gave way.

"Kazuma!"

"Kuwabara!"

"NO!"

Kuwabara closed his eyes, his throat closing up and swallowing a scream that was built up inside his chest. He hoped the end would be quick.

A scream did echo overhead, a scream of a familiar phoenix. Kuwabara's eyes opened as he heard Yusuke's incensed voice scream his name, "KUWABARA!"

Instinctively Kuwabara's hand shot up as a large blue blur dove for him. He could feel the earth hitting him, torn roots and stone, pelting his body eager to drag him down into the abyss. A hand shot out and grasped his arm, curling just under the elbow.

Kuwabara was pulled hard, and Yusuke hauled his best friend on Puu's back as the phoenix tore up towards the sky and away from the collapsing cliff. Kuwabara laid flat on is back, his chest heaving as the anxiety attack that threatened to take him began to edge off. Yusuke's hand was flat on his chest, while he held onto Puu with his other arm. Kuwabara's hand came up and grasped Yusuke's pressing his friend's palm further against his heart.

As Puu leveled out in a glide, circling over Kurama, Hiei, and Yukina, Yusuke leaned over to grin anxiously at Kuwabara.

"You fucking lunatic! Don't scare me like that, you fucking moron!"

Kuwabara grinned as Yusuke continued to rant at him, only able to say one thing back weakly in return, "Thanks!"

Chapter Text

He wanted to take his hands in his. 

The first time Kuwabara had that thought he had been fifteen and was standing next to Kurama, as his mother got married. Seeing her happy face, made him look at Kurama, who in turn radiated with such pure joy... it stirred something inside him.

The thought had been startling, but not as unexpected as Kuwabara would have thought.

But still, the thought of holding Kurama's hand, just to feel the warmth and marvel at the feel of his skin... well it was a little much for Kuwabara. So Kuwabara curled his hand into a tight fist and avoided looking at Kurama's hands for the rest of the celebration. And though it was hard, he soon forgot about the sudden and needy urge.

The second time Kuwabara wanted to take Kurama's hand, he actually did. 

Kurama had been missing for weeks. Abducted by enemies from his past life, who wanted to shit-stir now that they thought "Youko Kurama was weak!"

Boy, had those bastards been wrong! But still...

Kurama had been missing, and Kuwabara had been having a quiet panic attack as he followed along with his friends in their search for Kurama. Kuwabara just couldn't shut his brain off. What if Kurama died? What if they couldn't save him? What if Kuwabara had wasted so much time avoiding holding Kurama's hand, and never questioning why he wanted to do it, that this was it? He'd wasted it all...

And then they found him and Kuwabara was so relieved. He could barely hang back to let Hiei cling to Kurama, but Kuwabara forced himself to remain still. Yusuke was important to Kuwabara, and if this had been the other way around, Hiei wouldn't have dared interrupt their reunion. So Kuwabara wasn't going to interrupt Hiei's and Kurama's. When the friends finally parted, and really their exchange had been maybe thirty seconds, Kuwabara gave in to his desires and took Kurama's hand.

Kurama had looked at Kuwabara very gently then. His eyes held all the answers Kuwabara could ever want, but Kuwabara wasn't even ready to ask the questions.

So he just held Kurama's hand, grateful for the opportunity to wonder what was going on with his emotions, and revel in the fact Kurama had made it.

The third time Kuwabara wanted to hold Kurama's hand, he was twenty and at least knew why he wanted to do it. He'd accepted and acknowledged that he felt something for Kurama. It scared the hell out of him, which was weird. Kuwabara was not used to being afraid of love. He was bold in the face of love. He told people how he felt, made grand sweeping declarations, and risked it all, all the time!! In the name of love!

But Kurama was different.

Kuwabara's feeling was so... fragile with him. About him. For him. This feeling... was special, but the friendship they already had was just as important. He couldn't make that grand sweeping gesture of love, he couldn't proclaim it through speeches or big showy efforts. He needed to be slow, and he needed to think about it and be sure. Kurama, and their friendship, deserved the patience, the thought. Kuwabara had to be gentle and watch to see if this fragile thing could withstand the change.

So the third time Kuwabara wanted to hold Kurama's hand, Kuwabara completely understood what it meant to take it. He reached out and took Kurama's hand and smiled at the surprised expression on the shorter man's face.

"I'll be waiting for you to get back," Kuwabara told him, his eyes shining with unsaid promises.

Kurama smiled back, slow and sweet and full of all those answers Kuwabara hadn't been ready to face a few years ago.

Kurama squeezed Kuwabara's hand back and whispered, "We'll need to talk then Kazuma."

Kuwabara nodded, his heart racing as the heat from their joined hands traveled upwards into the whole of Kuwabara's body.

When they separated, and Kurama left for the Makai with Yusuke and Hiei, Kuwabara swore to himself he'd be ready to take Kurama's hand and tell him everything. Together they could build this fragile thing into something firm and strong. They would do it together for sure.

Kuwabara was now twenty-two.

His friends were back, and Kurama was waiting across the room.

Kuwabara was currently caught up in a bear hug with his best friend, whom he had missed like one would miss their right arm. But he had missed Kurama like he had been missing his heart. But Kurama smiled, eyes giving Kuwabara that same patience Kuwabara had shown Hiei years ago.

He could wait, just a bit longer for their embrace.

Kuwabara squeezed Yusuke and grinned privately to himself. 

He could not wait to take Kurama's hand.

Chapter Text

Igarashi leaned forward and breathed an exhale of reverence, "Extraordinary." 

Gima smiled next to him, settling in her chair with smug self-importance, "You see when one is motivated... they can do amazing feats."

"How many days without sleep?" Igarashi asked, enraptured with the fight below him.

"Just two so far," Gima answered shrugging, even if he did not see her do so.

"But he's on his... 30th fight?" Igarashi asked, finally turning from the bloody fight below him in the stadium to look back at Gima.

"It's his 32nd," Gima tittered, smiling brighter, "Again... with the right motivation you get to see amazing things."

"Are you not scared?" Igarashi asked, his curiosity running away with him, "that is Yusuke Urameshi down there! Famed demon fighter, the one who changed all of Makai's rules!"

Gima scowled and made a dismissive noise, and waved her hand, "And I am Gima Kazuki, trafficker, and ruler of the underworld! This underworld I created!" She held up her arms and gestured around the stadium, filled with human and demon alike eager to pay to see a drop of blood spilled in the rung below. "And do you know what I hate?" Gima leaned forward her lip curled in disgust, "People who think they can change things for the better when we're just fine bathing in blood!"

Igarashi leaned away from Gima, chuckling with impressed, anxious fear, "My word Gima... you're fearless. So... you captured a friend of his to convince him to fight for you?"

"Oh? You learned this already?" Gima asked crossing her legs and folding her hands over her knee.

"I've heard... whispers," Igarashi said looking back down to watch Yusuke lunge at his opponent.

Yusuke's moves were sloppy and exhausted, desperation dripping from his every hit.

"You're correct, I snatched a psychic. Kazuma Kuwabara. He was not easy to take, a shocker to be honest. Lucky for us, his students walked in and we turned the tables. Threatening them was the easiest way to get him." Gima rolled her eyes, "Fools and their morals. We roughed him up just a bit, recorded a video... and Yusuke Urameshi came to us. Happy to agree to our commands for the release of his friend." Gima explained her tale proudly, glancing down into the stadium to witness Yusuke's 32nd victory.

The watching crowd roared with delight as Yusuke stood over his defeated opponent breathing hard, bloodied from his past battles. Yusuke spit on the ground and turned his bruised eyes to glare at Gima. His expression was venomous even from several hundreds of feet away.

Igarashi shuddered, and Gima called out, "Send out the next fighter!"

"How many fights is he going to do?" Igarashi asked softly.

"One hundred fights if he wants his friend returned to him," Gima answered coldly.

"And you have him still? Kazuma Kuwabara?" Igarashi asked eyes glued on Yusuke who had turned to await his next opponent.

"No. We made a few videos that seemed current, enough to convince Yusuke he's alive and here, and then sold him. I'd like to see how Yusuke reacts, if he survives this ordeal, to learn his friend is long gone. Somewhere out there, unknown even to me. I don't keep track of the things I sell," Gima scoffed, chuckling at her own cleverness.

Igarashi kept his attention on Yusuke. His opponent had not appeared yet, though below large doors had opened.

"Did you do any other research into Yusuke's friends?" Igarashi asked eyes remaining locked on the scene below. "Youko Kurama, Hiei of the Jagan, Mukuro, Enki, Koenma... this man below us is friends even to the Gods. You didn't think they would come for him?"

Gima quieted, shifting uncomfortably though she held her head high, "I have prepared my men to be ready. Even if they appear, I will ensure it'll be too late. I intend to break Yusuke's will!" Gima shifted impatiently in her chair and snapped out below, "NEXT FIGHTER!"

"Over such a small thing as your ego?" Igarashi asked, eyes watching as a figure slowly began to march out towards Yusuke.

Gima snapped her head towards her friend and business partner, "You dare-"

Her words failed her as something, a small minuscule pain slid across her back, and then touched the hollow of her throat. Her ankles stung, the same time as the inside of her elbow and she slumped in her chair, unable to adjust herself or sit up again.

She heard the sound of a sword sheathing, and then her chair was pushed forward so that even in her paralyzed state she could see down into the stadium.

Only seconds had passed.

Below, the sight if Yusuke's approaching opponent made the exhausted man collapse.

Yusuke watched from his collapsed position, panting with exhaustion, as Kazuma Kuwabara, peppered in ugly bruises and dried blood, walked out to him. Too tired to run out, Yusuke remained rooted to his spot on the stadium ring, staring out at his friend in apparent relief. Kuwabara reached him, his own movements stiff from injuries not quite healed, and embraced him. Kuwabara's eyes looked up and out towards where Gima sat, high in her safe VIP box above it all.

He waved and smiled.

"What... what..." Gima gasped, cold curling like ice in her stomach. The sound of her own blood dripping to the ground was as unsettling as the fact that she could not sit up.

"Gima... you can't turn your head, but Hiei, whom I mentioned earlier, is standing behind you. He has rendered you immobile, but not gravely wounded, so we can talk... just for a moment," Igarashi said cooly, eyes remaining fixed on Yusuke and Kuwabara below. He extended a hand and waved in familial greeting.

"Yusuke," Igarashi began, "is beloved by many for his brattiness. His stubborn determination to change things... for the better. He affected many people in his life. Demon and human alike. Yusuke is an unlikely beacon of hope, complete with a foul mouth and cheeky grin. Kazuma Kuwabara, just Kuwabara to his friends, has also changed how people see things. His gentle heart, in a giant's body, has touched many, and his kindness extended to demons has changed how humans are viewed. He is one to show mercy and forgiveness when wronged, even when it was an almost lethal wrong. Yusuke can be surprisingly understanding as well. These two idiots, are beloved by their friends."

Igarashi turned to look Gima in the eye, "And lucky or them... their friends are not so stupid, nor are they forgiving. In fact, they are clever and cruel, and are willing to use these skills to help their friends." Igarashi's face moved, wiggling as if something was underneath.

"The crowd has gone silent," a deep voice, that must have belonged to Hiei said from behind Gima, "Because people like Mukuro, Enki, and those that work for Koenma... and many more are systematically taking care of your crowd. Arrests are being made, as well as murders. We are wiping out your perceived kingdom."

Igarashi's face rippled again and then fell away like a cloth. The face underneath was not Igarashi's or something grotesque like his bloodied skull. It was the face of a beautiful man that had red hair and shimmering green eyes, that glowed, shimmering between green and gold. The mask fell against Gima's leg, and she shuddered when she realized it was skin. The beautiful man before her had been wearing Igarashi's face, and she had not noticed.

Gima held her breath caught between shock and terror.

"You see Gima Kazuki," Kurama explained, slipping into his soft voice rather than the higher-pitched tone he'd been mimicking perfectly, "Yusuke Urameshi, and Kazuma Kuwabara have a lot of people, who appreciate their efforts. But even if they didn't," Kurama leaned forward, "they are loved dearly by their friends. Loved fiercely. And you... silly little woman thought too little of Kuwabara. You wisely used him to threaten Yusuke... but you stupidly let Kuwabara know he was being used as the threat."

"If you knew anything about either of those two," Hiei spoke, his blade appearing in Gima's peripherals, "is that they'll do anything for each other. And Kuwabara can fight quite well if he's desperate for Yusuke. He escaped... and we found him. Because we were already looking."

"Our friend Yusuke needs to rest," Kurama said, his smoothe voice calling back Gima's attention, "We'll let him deal with you after he's rested," Kurama pulled out a small seed, he pressed it gently against Gima's flesh, and it burrowed with a purpose through her skin. "But how long did you keep Yusuke up? Two days? Well... that's the time we have together then. Two days."

Something was painfully traveling through Gima's body, crawling and growing through her veins. She screamed as something erupted and pushed out her left eye. A yellow flower, dripping with blood had bloomed out her face.

Kurama tilted his head, "Extraordinary."

Chapter Text

In all his years of doing this type of job, it had never been so damn difficult.

The human delivered another kick to his head, and Ban growled turning accusingly to his partner, "Kou! Help for the love of-ahh!"

Kou merely laughed watching from his place at the fire, "Nah. You've been an ass to him. You deserve to get the shit kicked out of you!"

"Fuck you!" Ban snarled, gasping as the human caught him in the stomach with his tied fists, and that was that. Ban went down like a sack of potatoes wheezing for breath.

Kazuma Kuwabara took off into the woods, not even looking back at the downed demon, or his laughing partner.

He leaped over a downed tree, looking around trying to get his bearings, but he still didn't know the Makai very well. If Hiei or Kurama was here they'd be able to tell him whose territory he was in like reading off a street name, but Kuwabara couldn't tell one strange tree from the other here. For now, he'd rely on his feelings to guide him through and hope that he'd get away this time.

The longer he delayed them, the better chance for finding Yusuke he had.

"Oh come on Kuwabara, there's no use running!" Kou sighed appearing in front of Kuwabara.

Kuwabara crashed into Kou's chest, the quick demon taking him by surprise once again. He fell back hard, the air getting knocked out of him as he hit his tail bone, and he rolled to one side silently cursing.

"I'd just catch you," Kou said with a cheeky grin.

Kuwabara glared at Kou, and rolled himself to one side, using his elbows to help prop himself up since his hands were useless.

"I'm not the type to go quietly along..." Kuwabara hissed keeping his distance.

"If you keep acting up Ban's gonna hurt you, and I don't want that! I like you!" Kou whined pulling a face, "Look you're tied up, you can't use your sword, just play along and be a good prisoner!"

Kuwabara made a face, "Eat me ya dickhead!"

Kou blinked, and then threw up his head and laughed. Kuwabara turned sharp to the left and ran again. He was seething at the thought that he was some sort of joke to Kou, the cocky demonic bastard. He was like a terrible mix of Yusuke and Hiei, all the worst and most annoying parts.

Kuwabara was no whimpering maiden. He wasn't injured (badly) either. He'd be damned if he made it easy for anyone trying to snatch him up.

He ducked as his senses went into overdrive, sending a chill down his spine warning of danger. He dodged Ban's wildly lashing arm just in time managing to get away from the demon before he took his head off. Ban howled after him, shouting all sorts of obscenities.

"When we catch you this time, you'll be lucky if I leave you alive for the boss!"

Kuwabara pumped his legs harder. 

So, there was a big boss. Someone pulling the strings. Kou had hinted last time, but it was... well not a relief to hear someone had paid for a goon squad to get him, but it let Kuwabara know someone had a plan in motion. There was something comforting in this not being a wild random act of kidnapping. Though... maybe he shouldn't be comforted by the fact someone wanted him snatched at all.

Things didn't go so hot the last time he was snatched, and he'd be damned if there was another repeat like with Sensui!

Ban lunged, his claws raking across Kuwabara's back and tearing the back of his shirt. Kuwabara sucked in a breath, and tried to keep going, but Ban's other hand grabbed him by the waist before tugging him roughly down. They fell in a pile, and Kuwabara's face was shoved hard in the ground, his nose bending painfully.

"I would rip the head from your shoulders if I didn't need you alive to get paid!" Ban whispered, face so close to Kuwabara his teeth scraped the back of his neck.

"Ban, stop! Get off him," Kou's voice demanded, and shortly after Ban was pulled off Kuwabara's back.

Kuwabara lay panting on the ground, a sick little knot forming in his throat as he tried to ignore the burning pain of his back.

Kou was next to him suddenly, helping him up to his feet. Kuwabara held in his voice, wanting to gasp or make a sound of pain from the jolt of being put on his feet when he wasn't ready, but he held it in. He blinked his eyes watering as he forced himself to stand as Kou went about inspecting him.

"Tsk. Kuwabara... stop trying to get away! I really don't want to rough ya up, you know?" Kou whined, "And Ban, well if he gets started he's just going to really let you have it, and you'll be real sorry if he gets goin'!"

Kuwabara rolled his eyes.

"I saw that you shit!" Ban seethed, screeching loudly as he pointed at Kuwabara, "You think you're so tough, you fucking human?! I could fucking eat you right now-"

"Ohhh ooo. He's gonna grind my bones to make his bread!" Kuwabara mocked, Ban going red with rage.

Kou laughed, his arms curling around himself as he howled with laughter at the look on his partner's face.

Kuwabara blinked, and Ban's fist was slammed into his stomach.

He doubled over, unable to breathe, but did not fall.

Ban grabbed Kuwabara by the hair, holding him in place, and slammed his fist into Kuwabara's stomach again. Kuwabara closed his eyes against the pain, biting his tongue to keep from screaming. He really felt like vomiting now.

Ban pulled back his hand to try for a third, but Kou caught it, tilting his head at Ban like he was a bad child.

"Enough now Ban... enough," Kou said, a smile still in his lips.

"You think you're some top shit ordering me around don't you Kou?!" Ban spat, his rage now boiled over, "Well I'm tired of this little shit, and I'm tired-"

Kuwabara was still doubled over when he saw Kou's shadow change. What had looked like a normal man suddenly twisted. The head split into many jagged pieces, and the body stretched and changed. The air shifted, and Kuwabara felt an immense power pool from Kou, colder and stronger than he had first sensed.

"Enough now Ban. I don't like you hitting Kuwabara. I like Kuwabara. You need to stop now," Kou said, but his voice was different. Softer. Lighter. Deadly.

"I-I'm stopped. I'm stopped," Ban meekly replied, taking several steps away from Kou and Kuwabara.

His sudden absence frightened Kuwabara, but he pushed those fears down, and forced himself to stand. He was Kazuma Kuwabara, and he wasn't going to show any of his captors fear.

He turned to look, and Kou was the same smiling demon who had abducted him two days ago, his purple eyes gleaming with delight.

"Let's not run away anymore today, okay Kuwabara?" Kou asked, his voice mockingly kind as he placed a friendly arm around Kuwabara's shoulder.

Kuwabara wanted to shrug it off, but he didn't. He nodded quietly, and Kou smiled.

"Good! There's a good boy!" Kou laughed delighted and tugged Kuwabara along. 

Kou waved at Ban, who Kuwabara noticed was extremely pale, and could not look up at either Kou or Kuwabara.

"See?" Kuo said, "It's better when we all play along isn't it?"

Kuwabara would run harder tomorrow. Tomorrow, he'd get away.

 

Chapter Text

Hiei frowned, coming to wake irritably as raised voices roused him from his sleep.

He shifted himself on the branch of the large tree he'd chosen for his nap and looked subtly around trying to find the source of the noise. To his left was Genkai's shrine, but no one was coming from there. To his right...

Hiei's eyebrows shot up, and he tilted his head as one thought struck him, 'Interesting...'

To his right, not quite below him, but close enough, was Yusuke and Kuwabara. Yusuke was gripping Kuwabara's hands tight trying to look up into Kuwabara's face, while Kuwabara was stubbornly looking away, his face twisted up oddly and tomato red. The pair of them looked frazzled, and Hiei had a feeling he'd woken up to the two having an argument.

'But what about?' Hiei wondered as he adjusted himself to get a better look.

The two stood frozen for at least a solid minute, and Hiei was about to roll over and try and sleep again until Yusuke finally broke the silence by asking, "How long?"

Kuwabara went even redder, and Hiei propped his cheek on his elbow, curious as to why Kuwabara was getting so flustered.

"Urameshi..." Kuwabara's voice shook, and his shoulders lifted as he tried to retreat into himself, "It's not..."

"No," Yusuke said firmly, thumbs stroking over Kuwabara's knuckles, and tugging trying to pull the man closer, "Don't lie. I heard you."

Kuwabara stayed rooted to his spot, refusing or unwilling to bring himself closer to Yusuke.

Hiei's eyebrows lifted again as Kuwabara's face twisted even more, his cheeks going from bright red to chalk white, to back to red. Now leaning so he was practically off the branch, Hiei waited for whatever Kuwabara was going to say. With faces like that, it had to be good.

Yusuke was watching, his expression... angry perhaps? But Hiei didn't think it was at Kuwabara... ah. Yusuke was frustrated. That was a good way to describe it.

"P-Please Urameshi. I don't..." Kuwabara's voice cracked and dipped as he spoke, and Hiei's amusement plummeted.

'Oh no... he's not going to cry is he?' Hiei thought now turning his eyes away from the scene. 

He didn't want to see Kuwabara cry because something was genuinely upsetting him. He had hoped he'd woken up to some nonsensical argument between the two. Those were amusing to watch, but if this was something serious-

"Stop avoiding the question. I've loved you for years now... how long has it been for you?" Yusuke snapped.

Hiei almost fell out of the tree.

'What?' he thought.

"W-what?" Kuwabara squeaked, coiling back within himself, but not yanking his hands away.

Yusuke's eyes were narrowed, but everything about his expression was open, and without blinking Yusuke ground out, "I love you. I've loved you since... fuck I don't know... Sensui? A little after? All I know is that you were on my mind every damn day when we were away in Makai, and I just heard what you said to Yukina. So... How long?"

'Whoa... what about Keiko?' Hiei thought, resettling himself on his branch, and still leaning forward so he could hear everything.

"What about Keiko?" Kuwabara whispered, eyes blinking rapidly as the rest of his body slowly untensed.

Hiei nodded in approval at Kuwabara's question.

"I thought... I had to like her. We tried. You know we tried..." Yusuke sighed, expression softening as he thought of his other best friend, "She's amazing. But I didn't... I don't feel for her what I feel for you."

Hiei turned to look at Kuwabara, and suddenly found he was eager to hear Kuwabara's response.

"How long?" Yusuke's soft voice asked.

Kuwabara sighed, his nose bright red as his eyes watered. He let out a long exhale shaking off whatever fear was clinging to him, "Love? I don't know when it officially became... love. But I've... since before you died saving a kid man. I've felt something since then." Kuwabara dropped his head, not able to look Yusuke in the eye, "the love just came one day... and it was... it just happened. I knew what it was and of course I loved you. It was natural to."

It was silent for a long time.

Hiei's eyes darted between the two, and Hiei finally found himself glaring at Yusuke, wishing the idiot would hurry up and say something. Kuwabara was waiting, terrified for whatever else was going to be said, and Yusuke was...

Hiei rolled his eyes upwards, 'Oh God...'

Yusuke was just standing there, with the dumbest grin on his face, his eyes half-lidded and all soft and happy. Hiei glanced at Kuwabara, who still stared at the ground, his body language completely closed off with the discomfort. 

How stupid! Yusuke already said he loved him first! What was there to be afraid of?

'Nope, can't deal with this anymore!' Hiei thought irritably, and then shouted from his position on the tree branch, "Oi! Yusuke, you dumbass! Kiss him or something already, he's scared shitless!"

Both their heads snapped up to Hiei, Kuwabara white with terror, and Yusuke wide-eyed with his jaw practically hanging to the ground. Hiei cocked an annoyed eyebrow and made an impatient flapping motion with his hand at Yusuke before adding, "Well. Hurry it up!"

Yusuke grinned, saluted Hiei, and then grabbed Kuwabara by the neck of his shirt. Kuwabara's eyes shifted to Yusuke's face, just in time for the shorter man to press their mouths together in a hard and firm kiss. Yusuke wrapped his other arm around Kuwabara's shoulders, tugging the taller man even closer, while Kuwabara's own hands hung awkwardly at the side.

Yusuke's eyes were closed in bliss, while it seemed Kuwabara's mind was still trying to catch up with what was happening.

Something finally seemed to click, and then Kuwabara's arms wrapped around Yusuke's waist, and he was kissing Yusuke back, and lifting him off the ground in delight at their union.

Hiei settled back against the tree, adjusting himself to resettle in for a nap.

'Wait until Kurama hears about this,' Hiei thought, feeling a little smug that it was he who had new information about their friends, for once.

'They just better not fuck here, I was here first.'

 

;

Chapter Text

He had never thought himself a spiritual wandering type, yet here he was.

In the middle of Genkai’s forest... “seeking guidance”... he supposed.

“Oh this is stupid... this is so stupid. What am I looking for?” Kuwabara muttered to himself wiping some sweat from his brow.

His friends had left him--well not really left him. But they weren’t here. On the human realm. At this time.... and Kuwabara was here... alone.

Kuwabara groaned as his mind began to take a pity-spiral, and he stopped walking, allowing himself a break. He really didn’t know what he was doing here or even where he was going anyway. 

Sitting against a thick tree, that seemed purple in hue and radiated with a strange power, Kuwabara looked around. Years ago, he and Urameshi had run through here, Kuwabara using his spiritual awareness to guide him safely out. Yusuke had gotten stuck where he had to fight some crazy Man-bat. Baltok. Borvok. Baldok. Ballsack... something like that.

When Yusuke came out of the forest, the pair had hugged, before breaking apart embarrassed at their own actions. When they parted after Yusuke won the tournament, it was with an unsaid understanding that the pair were for real, and for true friends.

Strangely, Kuwabara felt it all started for him here, which wasn’t true. And yet... for Kuwabara, running through this forest felt like it had been choosing to run down a path that would lead him to follow Yusuke. Which would lead him to Botan. Which then lead to Kurama and Hiei. Then Yukina. And then all the rest, all tumbling after each other.

All the friends, enemies, and people that were important in his life, Kuwabara met them by deciding to run through this forest. And why had he done that? 

Because Yusuke Urameshi did it, and he took Yusuke doing it as a challenge.

Where would he be if he had taken Yusuke’s advice and left the shrine that day? If he had tried to seek Genkai another day to help him with his budding spiritual powers... well...

“Well, I wouldn’t be back here years later, brooding because I miss my friends!” Kuwabara snorted aloud, chuckling momentarily to himself.

And that was true. He wouldn’t be here now. Who knows where he would be now. Hell, who knows where his friends would be. Maybe Rando would have won the tournament, and Yusuke would be...

Kuwabara shook his head, no he didn’t like that chain of thought.

“What am I doing?” Kuwabara muttered, sighing loudly.

“I was hoping you’d tell me that Kazuma,” a familiar voice startled Kuwabara.

His head snapped up, and he looked up seeing Genkai about a yard away, slowly approaching him with a lantern in her hand. She smiled, just a little bit at Kuwabara, a withered brow arched into her graying hairline, “You’ve already conquered this place, so why are you back?”

Kuwabara smiled, “I conquered it?”

“You managed through it... and look. You even sit in the center, your own abilities making the things that haunt this forest too afraid to approach you. The scariest thing in this forest right now is you Kuwabara,” Genkai said, standing in front of Kuwabara.

“Huh. Is that why nothing has jumped out at me?” Kuwabara mused, puffing a strand of hair out of his face as he looked around.

“Not even this tree, which has the ability to crush those in its vines, has dared to even reach out for you. You’re too strong,” Genkai said.

“But not enough,” Kuwabara sighed, cringing at his own bitter tone.

“Is this about your friends leaving?” Genkai asked sitting down across from Kuwabara, groaning as her bones ached, “Or is this about you choosing to go on to school?”

“...A little of both I think,” Kuwabara sighed shrugging, not quite able to meet Genkai’s eye. “Even if... if Yusuke or the others had taken me to the Makai... I don’t think... I don’t think I fight like them.”

“In what way do you mean?” Genkai asked, her voice remaining level and calm.

“I don’t think... we keep having close calls. And... meeting people...” Kuwabara fumbled for the words. He slowly stopped, and then sighed long and slow. “We keep meeting people who... are fighting for their lives. Fighting to end something or start something... I miss the days when... when I just fought because I wanted to. Fought because it was fun. I miss... Urameshi’s arrogant laugh and smile. Things have changed since the Dark Tournament. Since Sensui. And will change again when they get back I imagine. I don’t know if I like how... serious fighting has become.”

“Kazuma Kuwabara, the warrior with a heart of gold,” Genkai said, voice full of affection and gentle understanding. “You’ve gone from an innocent young man to one who has seen many things. Not all good... not all bad. How can someone not be changed by that? Do you regret your changes?”

Kuwabara shrugged, “No... maybe. Maybe I regret that I’m... not moving forward with them. I’m here. They’re fighting in a fight that has nothing to do with me, but even if I could help... I don’t know if I would anymore. I don’t want to fight, and it feel like a struggle for my life or someone else’s life... I want fighting to be... fun again.”

“There’s nothing wrong with that being your truth Kuwabara,” Genkai said honestly, “When I was younger the Dark Tournament changed me. I lost my friends, my lover... and I came here to... figure out where I stood again. You are not the first or the last person who finds themselves diverting from a path they had once loved.”

“I’d like to enjoy fighting again,” Kuwabara muttered quietly, his brow furrowing, “I... this is dumb. But I thought coming back here... I would find a way to enjoy it again.”

“I think in time you will,” Genkai said, her voice earnest and knowing, “I think when your friends are back, you’ll find fighting for them and with them, and this is what makes you happy. Running off headlong into suffering and life and death situations... sure you are willing to help, but that’s not for you. And there’s nothing wrong with that. You’ve done a lot Kazuma... there is no need to do more. Do what you can.”

Kuwabara remained silent his face full of uncertainties.

“I know another way for you to help heal your restless heart, and wandering spirit... but it will take time,” Genkai said voice stern.

“Yeah?”

“Yes. Help this old woman up, and let’s go back to the Shrine. I’ll make some teas and snacks... and we can talk about how you’re feeling emotion-NOW! Don’t make that face!” Genkai’s warmth faded quickly into scolding as Kuwabara began to scowl.

She waved at Kuwabara, “Come on now. Talking it out is good for you. Good for anyone. We need to help you compartmentalize. And you can keep this old lonely woman company. I have no one to pick on without Yusuke’s constant visits.”

Kuwabara sighed, a scowl still on his face, but he got up and gently helped Genkai to her feet. She took his offered arm as she righted herself, and then with a firm hand on his bicep, held Kuwabara still until he looked her in the eyes.

“There is nothing wrong with being kind Kazuma, you can be brave, noble, and good... all without seeing a fight. You’re a good young man Kazuma... please don’t forget that.” Genkai said, gently patting Kuwabara’s face.

He smiled, the effort of it a touched force, but a little more sincere. 

Gently she tugged Kuwabara, back towards her shrine, gently asking questions about his classes, and how he was doing. Hoping that she, with all her experiences, could help put Kuwabara back on the path he wanted.

Chapter Text

When Kuwabara was a child, he could see and interact with ghosts as clearly as one would a real person. 

For a long time, he didn’t realize that was a problem.

But about the time he was in second grade, that’s when he met a little girl. She was a ghost from several years ago, not that he knew that at the time, but he guessed it now. And with sad eyes, and a dirty kimono, she beckoned little seven-year-old Kazuma Kuwabara to play in the woods.

Regrettably, he followed.

Two days later he woke up in a hospital. 

He’d been chased, and haunted, shown horrors his little mind didn’t quite understand. When he had been unable to run no more, he’d fainted on the ground, the little girl’s chilling vengeful laughter still echoing in his head. As a child, he hoped to die, just so he could escape her.

To this day, he still couldn’t recall what had happened to him, but he hoped that he never would.

Perhaps out of fear, or self-preservation, Kuwabara never saw spirits as intensely after that. He got, “the tickle feeling,” or an unexplained uneasiness, and sometimes even a warm happy feeling. Only after getting possessed by Yusuke, (a thing he learned about much later) did his mind open back up to being able to fully see and comprehend a spirit.

And while Kuwabara had faced many things in his life, from dead friends brought back to life, mysterious whip-wielding red-heads, and demons with three eyes... nothing was quite as scary to him as that little girl has once been.

So seeing her again had stopped him dead in his tracks.

“Kuwabara, what’s the holdup?” Yusuke asked, smirking slightly at Kuwabara’s slightly frozen frame.

They had just been about to ascend the stairs to Genkai’s shrine when Kuwabara had frozen mid-step, face blank, and expression...tense. Yusuke hadn’t noticed at first, and had just kept walking, only stopping when he head Kurama give off a soft, “Kazuma?”

Both Kurama and Hiei had stopped, noticing Kuwabara’s frozen demeanor. Hiei had seen it first, and a small hand motion had gotten Kurama to stop. Now the three all stared out at their quiet companion, wondering what had caused his sudden stillness.

Kuwabara didn’t hear any of their questions. He just stared at the girl who was three steps ahead of Yusuke on Genkai’s shrine steps. Still wearing the same dirty kimono, and staring out at him with sad eyes. She took one step down towards Yusuke.

The tension in the air grew thicker as Kuwabara suddenly moved to be standing right in front of Yusuke, his eyes tense and fixed on a spot behind his best friend. He ignored all attempts at conversation thrown at him.

“Kuwabara? What you doing man?” Yusuke asked squinting at Kuwabara’s face, the hairs on the back of his neck standing up as he took in Kuwabara’s frightened eyes.

“Kuwabara... what do you see?” Kurama asked, motioning his hand at Hiei.

Hiei reached for the bandage he used to shield his third eye, also looking where Kuwabara stared. At the moment he saw nothing.

Kuwabara’s hands came slowly up, and he curled his stiff fingers around Yusuke’s forearms. His grip was tight, and Yusuke winced at the touch.

The little girl was right behind Yusuke now.

She stared at Kuwabara, looking at him as he looked at her. When Kuwabara’s hands curled around Yusuke, she smiled.

She smiled, and it grew and grew, her mouth opening into a long thin slit that curled up her cheeks and towards her eye line.

Rapidly, Kuwabara flung Yusuke from the stairsteps, his friends crying out in alarm.

The little girl’s hands lashed out, and her incorporeal digits thrust through his chest. He fell to his knees, the air ripping out of his lungs as her hands curled around his heart in one cold squeeze. He heard his friends shout his name, and heard the same laughter he heard when he was seven. And then, in a sweet but disarming tone, heard a little giggle:

“I found you.”

And then he knew no more.

Chapter Text

“Get up.”

“No.”

“Get up!”

“Have pity, I’m an old man!” 

“You’re thirty-three, get up you sack of shit!”

Yusuke dug his toes under Kuwabara’s comforter and pressed the ice-like digits against Kuwabara’s ribs. The comforter yelped and tried to roll away. Yusuke pressed his foot further in the warm cocoon until said cocoon pleaded for mercy and then fell in a heap on the floor.

Kuwabara’s very disgruntled face poked out of the covers, his eyes narrowed with trepidation, “Fucker.”

Yusuke grinned, his hair a mess, and expression smug, “Get up. We’ll be late for school.”

Kuwabara huffed and hawed, muttering curses under his breath as he detangled himself from his comforter. Before Yusuke left, the young man called out, “Eggs and toast?”

“Yeah! Cheese too!” Kuwabara answered, before diving into his closet for a pressed shirt. 

When Kuwabara had made himself presentable, (a pressed shirt, a green tie, and dark brown slacks) he scrambled into the kitchen just in time to turn the vent on before the kitchen’s fire alarm went off.

“Urameshi, I thought you were a chef!” Kuwabara snorted as he waved the fumes from the smoking attempt at bacon.

Yusuke, sporting a familiar green uniform shrugged, “So bacon isn’t my strong suit. So sue me!”

Kuwabara tousled Yusuke’s unkempt hair, Yusuke pushing Kuwabara off with an angry squawk. As Yusuke shoveled in his breakfast, Kuwabara brushed his hair, letting his hair fall in slightly natural waves.

He could not wear his familiar pompadour as a teacher.

He tried not to be envious as Yusuke slicked his own hair back with familiar practiced ease. 

With just a few minutes to spare the pair were outside, Kuwabara locking the door, and Yusuke scratching at his collar which he’d buttoned. He hated it.

“Stupid undercover mission,” Yusuke grumbled.

Kuwabara snorted with agreement, his focus still on the door.

“I don’t see why I can’t be a teacher as well!” Yusuke snapped.

“You’re too stupid,” Kuwabara snorted, his voice echoed by another.

The pair turned seeing Hiei, and Kurama. Hiei was dressed in a school uniform as well, while Kurama was dressed as a teacher as well... and looking far angrier than the four of them.

“Shut up Hiei!” Yusuke snapped before punching Kuwabara hard in the ribs.

“Cheer up Detective,” Hiei said with a shrug, before smirking devilishly, “You could be crossdressing right now.”

Kurama smoothed down the skirt they were in, primly getting rid of a wrinkle at the bottom, before pulling his arm back and punching Hiei in the back of his head with the force of a freight train. Yusuke howled with laughter as he tried to recover, before putting on a sympathetic face, “Come on Kurama it’s not... it’s what we have to do. You and Kuwabara are taking the place of two teachers and one is a lady!”

“And I’m the lucky one who gets to be a woman,” Kurama said sourly.

Trying to be helpful, Kuwabara spoke up, “You’re the only one hot enough to pull off the look!”

Kurama sighed, Yusuke letting out childish giggles, while the still recovering Hiei actually smirked.

“Well Kuwabara, I guess it’s good that you find me so appealing,” Kurama said, voice a little devious. He turned to Kuwabara who had shrunken into his shoulders with a bit of fright, “Our covers are supposed to be having an affair.”

There was a beat of silence.

Kurama flipped his hair over his shoulder, “I expect you to grab my ass at lunch today.”

Kuwabara glowed tomato red as Yusuke and even Hiei howled with laughter.

Kuwabara really hoped for this mission to wrap up at a speedy pace.

Chapter Text

Kuwabara sighed with relief as he dropped just in time in front of Yusuke with a makeshift bag. 

Yusuke seized Kuwabara’s wrists, and with a painful retching sound hurled into the makeshift bag. Kuwabara held his breath at the smell and tried to ignore the fact that Yusuke had thrown up a little on his hands.

“Ugh…Kuwabara…this…isn’t this your jacket?”

“…yeah...”

Yusuke groaned and slumped back down in his sleeping bag, groaning in pain.

Kuwabara carried the makeshift sack that was once his jacket towards the river the two were currently camped at and washed it downstream. 

They were not in the best situation for Yusuke to be sick.

Deep in the wild’s of the makai Kuwabara, Yusuke, Kurama, and Hiei had set out to stop a bandit of demons who were snatching up human and demon children to sell them into a slave trade. The battle had been easy enough-and the only real trouble had been a fierce rain that drenched the group as they trounced the bandits.

The children were safe and free, and Kurama had volunteered to take them all ahead to a neighboring ally’s territory where they would be safe. Yusuke, Hiei, and Kuwabara would catch their breaths, and then join Kurama. Shortly after Kurama left, that was when the trouble began.

 Both Hiei and Yusuke had suddenly collapsed into raging fevers, and sickness leaving Kuwabara alone and the only one available to take care of them.

It had been two days since both Yusuke and Hiei collapsed, and Kuwabara could only hope Kurama had realized his friends should have caught up with him by now and was returning back to them. If they ever needed someone who could grow a slew of medicines, it was now.

Kuwabara shook out his wet, but relatively clean jacket, satisfied that it had caught Yusuke’s upheaval. He would need to use it again in all likeliness. Getting up from the riverbank, Kuwabara went back to Yusuke and placed his damp hand on Yusuke’s forehead.

“Hey, man…how’s the head?” Kuwabara asked his voice sagging with exhaustion.

Yusuke grunted in response and turned his head into Yusuke’s wet and cool hand.

Kuwabara nodded to himself and walked over where he had his bag. 

He had very limited supplies now, some clothes, rope, a bit of dried food. Luckily they had sleeping bags and blankets, all brought along with them as they pursued the bandits. Digging through his bag, he tore out one of his shirts and ripped it into rag sized squares. Soaking the fabric in the river, upstream and away from and lingering bits of vomit, Kuwabara returned and placed the wet fabric on Yusuke’s burning head.

Turning from Yusuke, Kuwabara went to check on Hiei. Though quieter, and less prone to throwing up, Kuwabara was certain Hiei was in the worst shape. Kuwabara had given Hiei his own sleeping bag, as Hiei had not brought anything with him for the mission, as per usual.

At the touch of the cool wet cloth to his face, Hiei’s eyes opened and he stared accusingly at Kuwabara. “…You haven’t slept for day…and you have given us everything to keep us warm…”

“You’re really sick Hiei,” Kuwabara whispered softly leaving the rag on Hiei’s head and readying his jacket to serve as a bag again. 

Hiei was a little green, he looked like he’d be sick soon.

“…there was a bacteria in the rain…it makes demon’s…sick…” Hiei admitted, recognizing the symptoms of his illness.

“So… you know what this is then, and that’s why I’m okay,” Kuwabara mused, relieved that someone was able to tell him about his friends’ deteriorating help.

“You won’t be for long,” Hiei growled, trying to sit up. 

He hated this weakness and longed for the strength to stand on his own again. “You’re not sleeping…you give us all the food…you are using the clothes off your own back to tend to our needs! You’ll be sick as us at this rate!”

“Hiei we don’t have a choice!” Kuwabara snapped, assisting Hiei up with a gentle arm. “It’s just us…and I’m gonna look after you both until Kurama gets back…I’ll be fine. I will.”

Kuwabara wasn’t sure if he was convincing Hiei or himself.

 Kuwabara wasn’t in the best of shape either…wounds from the battle, and now lack of sleep and panic were taking their toll on Kuwabara’s body. Every now and then he would blackout, only to snap into awareness unsure of how long he had been out.

How long before the next blackout? How long until he collapsed from exhaustion? How long until demons came and got them? How long until Kurama came back? Could he hold out that long?

Kuwabara’s thoughts were interrupted as he scrambled to catch Hiei’s vomit as the shorter demon hurled.

Hiei growled and sunk weakly back into the sleeping bag, and Kuwabara left to rinse the puke from his jacket again. What Kuwabara wouldn’t give to have his friends home and safe in their beds instead of out here and miserable.

Kuwabara rinsed his jacket out once more and tossed the jacket back on the bank. Kuwabara made a move to get up but fell back down against the muddy riverbank. His shoulders shook, and his stomach knotted painfully. Kuwabara gripped his side and began to wretch throwing up water and bile-the only contents in his stomach.

‘Great…just great…’ Kuwabara thought bitterly, as he wiped his mouth.

Hiei’s words were already ringing true…Kuwabara was getting sick. It wasn’t surprising…Kuwabara had been running himself ragged. He could only hope Kurama wasn’t far away.

Trudging back up to the river bank, Kuwabara made it to camp and froze at what he saw. 

A large demon bent and twisted resembling a cross between a tree stump and a spiked turtle was in his field of vision. Its head was bent, and mouth open hovering over Yusuke’s face. Yusuke eyes were closed in sleep, and he was unaware of the danger he was in.

Kuwabara was running before he could think and threw himself at the beast, his sword flickering in his hand. His energy was low, and the sword shattered on the beast. The strike still managed to cause pain, and the creature howled with pain fueled anger.

The twisted demon tumbled back, Kuwabara falling with it. As they crashed backward and rolled away from Yusuke, Kuwabara could hear Hiei weakly calling out for him. When the two were fully crashed on the ground, Kuwabara scrambled up, eager to separate himself from the demon.

Hiei had crawled to Yusuke’s side, and Yusuke was awake and sitting up. His eyes were wide but clouded over with fever.

“Kuwabara!” Yusuke shouted trying to warn his friend, but the effort caused Yusuke to spiral into a coughing fit.

“Urameshi! Stay-AUUGHH!!” Kuwabara cried out as he felt claws slash at his back. It felt like wood was tearing through his body, and leaving behind rough thick splinters. The pain was unbearable and Kuwabara groaned as his pain mingled with his exhausted and aching body.

He painfully turned, and flung a handful of his spirit energy at the beast, now too weak to form a sword in his hand. The energy shot out like thin needles, and Kuwabara was relieved to see it was doing some damage.

The beast stumbled back, and Kuwabara crawled towards his friends. He reached them as the beast managed to shake the last of the energy spikes from his face. Kuwabara turned to face the demon, but spun too fast and collapsed on the ground, dry heaving painfully as his insides trembled.

“You’re sick! You’re in no condition to fight!” Yusuke moaned guiltily, his hand gripping Kuwabara’s belt. He was too scared to touch Kuwabara’s back, for most of it was covered with thorns left behind by the attacking demon. 

Hiei was trying to stand, but he couldn’t make it to his feet in his condition and cursed angrily at his own weakness.

“We don’t got a choice! I’m better off than you two!” Kuwabara growled managing to sit up his back and gut protesting as he strained to get on his feet. 

Managing to stand up, he shook Yusuke off and stood protectively in front of his friends. He swayed for a moment as his stomach threatened to come up, but caught himself and stood ready for the creature’s next attack.

The beast was howling angrily, shaking off Kuwabara’s weakened attack. From how the demon was reacting, Kuwabara guessed the demon was very low level, and would have been no trouble if they were all in their peak conditions.

‘Lucky us,’ Kuwabara thought bitterly.

It rose to its full height towering easily over the group.

Roaring, the best swiped a large claw towards Kuwabara who held his sword before him like a shield. A wave of nausea passed over him and Kuwabara’s sword flickered out of his grasp. 

Wooden claws dug into Kuwabara’s chest and Kuwabara was sent crashing away from his friends.

Yusuke and Hiei both tried to get up, but both only managed to get on all fours. Hiei was choking, and with a rough cough sank back down to the ground. Yusuke raised a hand trying to charge his spirit gun, but the effort made him too dizzy. They were all a mess.

The beast roared and lowered his head towards the two ailing demons, but Kuwabara wasn’t ready to back down yet. Ignoring his wounds and his ailing body Kuwabara tackled the beast plunging a thin trail of his energy in the beast’s back. The beast howled, and Kuwabara plunged the energy attack again, the slash like a withered bolt of lightning more than a sword.

It howled, and thrashed beneath Kuwabara, leaving more spikes of wood stuck in his face and arms. Kuwabara raised his hand again, and plunged, deeper this time, a spray of blood forcing him to close his eyes.

The beast let out a low dying roar and collapse on Kuwabara, the two falling hard to the ground. Kuwabara took in several strained breaths, before with trembling arms he tried to push the carcass off of him. 

It was on his third attempt that a green vine appeared in his field of vision, and with assistance, the creature was pulled off of him. Bleeding, exhausted, and suddenly relieved, Kuwabara stared up into the extremely worried face of Kurama.

“...Oh thank God...” Kuwabara wheezed, “You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in days.”

“While I’m flattered, please stop talking!” Kurama whispered eyes pouring over Kuwabara’s many injuries, “I’ve brought help, just hold on a bit more...” Kurama turned peering over his shoulder, and shouted, “Genkai! Over here! Hurry!”

Kuwabara blinked, his exhaustion and relief making his eyes grow heavy. He barely even felt the pain anymore. He closed his eyes, and when he opened them again Genkai was hovering over him, and the sky had changed. She looked a little tired herself but smiled when she saw him.

“Well... there we are Kazuma... all healed up. Took a little while there...”

“Hiei? Yusuke?” Kuwabara slurred, blinking rapidly to keep from nodding off (for a second time he assumed.)

“Kurama’s with them. You’ll all be okay... though I’m afraid I can’t do anything for the cold you’re going to have. You’ve been in some pretty poor conditions.”

Kuwabara chuckled, “Curing a demon illness? Sure no problem. Heal an injured human attacked by a living turtle stump? Easy. But the common cold?”

Genkai smiled at Kuwabara’s dry joke, “Impossible I’m afraid. You did good Kuwabara. Rest up.”

Kuwabara grunted.

“Yusuke and Hiei have expressed they’ll kill you in the morning,” She whispered in a grave serious tone.

“Tell them they both owe me a new jacket.”

Chapter Text

He putters around the kitchen, muttering soft musings to himself. Tasks he needs to get done. Name’s of students who have come and gone. Things he has lost, and things he has found.

Today he’s muttering about a tea he wants, but can’t remember the name of.

“I know it’s here… somewhere. In a jar. Miko-chan brought it by… it’s my favorite! It’s… it’s a sweet… and bitter tea. Sour. But good…” He mutters, squinting around his kitchen, his bleary eyes fogged over from his great age.

Hiei lets him putter around a moment longer before he brushed past him.

Hiei’s steps are silent and graceful. There is no stutter to his movement, no great age has slowed him down. He opens a cabinet that the old man can no longer reach, and pulls down a heavy jar of honey and lemon.

“This tea?”

Kuwabara turns around, blinking with a little confusion, and then smiles as he recognizes it, “Ah! Yes! Yes… that’s the one! Thank you Hiei… where’d you come from today?”

Hiei doesn’t answer but gets out two cups. There’s no point in telling Kuwabara he’d been there the whole time, just like yesterday and the day before that. Kuwabara’s memory is fleeting now, and unsteady. He wouldn’t remember and would be upset to realize he’d forgotten they had just been talking.

“I came from nowhere Kuwabara. Sit down, I’ll make the tea,”

Kuwabara sits, his old withered body sagging eagerly in his seat. He smiles at Hiei, an expression Hiei looks at for a long time.

Funny how a smile that used to annoy him, now meant so much.

Chapter Text

Hiei stood over Kuwabara, his blade loose in his hand.

Kuwabara laid slightly inclined against the ground as well as several dead bodies. His hands were loosely pressed against his stomach, and his eyes stared up and unseeing at Hiei.

“Urameshi… that you?” Kuwabara asked, his teeth stained pink from all the blood in his mouth.

Hiei knelt slowly before the injured man, Kuwabara following him with his eyes, but clearly not actually seeing him. Kuwabara blinked, once, twice, and then a third time before he rasped, “Is… someone there?”

Hiei took in a sharp breath, and traded his sword for Kuwabara’s hand, finding the flesh just as cold as his blade. Kuwabara squeezed desperately, if not weakly back.

“I’m here,” Hiei managed to say though his voice didn’t sound quite right to him.

Kuwabara exhaled in relief, “Good… good… did.. Did Urameshi and Kurama get through?”

“They’ve moved on to get the leader,” Hiei answered shortly. 

Kuwabara’s other hand flexed and pressed uselessly against his torn stomach. Hiei leaned forward and pressed his hand against Kuwabara’s belly, futilely trying to stop all the blood. Kuwabara didn’t even flinch.

“Good. I’m… I’m ready for this to be done, and go home,” Kuwabara whispered leaning back, and keeping his unseeing eyes on Hiei.

“Do you… Do you understand what is happening to you?” Hiei asked, his voice unexpectedly tight.

Kuwabara grunted, and tears filled his eyes. Kuwabara was now visibly losing color, and he pressed his lips into a thin line trying to school his expression. He managed to get expression under control as tears fell slowly down his cheeks. He took in a weak shaky breath and nodded once.

“Yeah… I’m goin’ home.”

Hiei heard something drop near him. It sounded like a marble hitting against rock. He let his head dip and spotted something shining on the ground. He looked away from it, denying its existence, and scooted closer to Kuwabara. 

He needed to move Kuwabara… somehow. Hiei braced himself against Kuwabara, beginning the slow shift into carrying him. He could do it somehow, carrying Kuwabara was nothing with his strength. He just had to worry about moving him fast enough so that Kuwabara wouldn’t-

“HIei?” Kuwabara’s voice was soft and sudden.

Hiei looked at Kuwabara, unable to speak,

Kuwabara smiled, his eyes staring well over Hiei’s head, “Stay.”

Hiei froze, and looked out in the distance where Yusuke and Kurama would be fighting. If only they were here. They would be better at this. They would be able to mourn, and comfort, and maybe even save Kuwabara. They were what Kuwabara would have wanted at the end. 

Hiei wasn’t even sure if he understood this weight threatening to shatter inside him.

But Kuwabara had asked him to stay.

“I can do that,” Hiei whispered, and pressed his hands tighter to Kuwabara’s wound, and pressed as close as he could to the giant of a man.

Kuwabara smiled, “Thanks Hiei. It’s gotten dark out.”

Hiei glanced at the cloudless midday sky, and grunted in agreement, “It has.”

“Take… take care of ‘em. My friends,” Kuwabara whispered.

Hiei grunted and looked down at Kuwabara’s hands that squeezed his, the last of his strength wasted in the effort.

“That means you too. Take care… Hiei,” Kuwabara slurred.

Hiei looked up, his eyes wide, and something… something aching inside him. He looked at Kuwabara and said nothing else.

He stayed, he watched, and then he let go.

Chapter Text

“You've got to be kidding me,” Yusuke muttered as he gripped the rope of the swaying bridge tight. The bridge he was currently on seemed to be held together by four long stretches of rope, two on each side, and several thick planks, though boards were missing as you walked. This would force you to have to jump or to overextend your step, but then the whole damn thing would sway, triggering a very nauseous feeling, or worse-vertigo.

The bridge stretched on for six miles over a perilous chasm that seemed to have no end. A fog, caused by the miasma in the demon world atmosphere and from the humidity coming down from a nearby mountain range made this bridge feel even more dangerous and ominous. For the life of him, Yusuke couldn't remember why the hell he was on this fucking bridge.

“Why the hell are we doing this?” Kuwabara whined, hands gripping the roped off sides tight, as he took a shaky step forward. 

His single step seemed to rattle the whole bridge, and both Yusuke and Kuwabara moaned as the bridge teetered dangerously, fighting off a new wave of nausea.

“Can you take smaller steps you jackass?!” Yusuke snapped, glaring over his shoulder at Kuwabara.

“Come back here and say that to my face!” Kuwabara squawked back, face red with anger and fright.

“The steps do not matter, this bridge was designed to feel dangerous, and sway with the slightest movement. It’s meant to test your endurance and spirit,” Kurama’s voice called out from somewhere ahead.

As both Kuwabara and Yusuke turned forward, they managed to share the same irritated look at Kurama who seemed to glide ahead of them by several feet, his back straight, and his hand trailing over the railing. It didn’t seem like the bridge’s intense sways were bothering him in the least.

“God, I hate him,” Yusuke muttered.

“Yeah me too,” Kuwabara grunted in agreement irritably.

A gust of wind caught the bridge, and once again the bridge swayed. Kuwabara fell to his knees, both his hands gripping the sides of the rope, and he closed his eyes as the swaying continued. Yusuke managed to keep to his feet, but now he was feeling very dizzy, and as the bridge trembled, he found himself letting go.

Without something to grasp, Yusuke teetered backward, his back bracing against one side of the bridge. The rope creaked beneath his back, and Yusuke ground his teeth together as he swallowed against the bile that was rising in his throat.

“Yusuke! This bridge is meant to make you lose your balance! Grab the rope and don’t let go!” Kurama shouted, his own hand gripping tightly on the guide.

“Uh...yeah...” Yusuke managed, swallowing hard as nausea began to rise from his stomach. He flexed his fingers and extended his hand grasping at air as he again braced himself against the side of the bridge.

“Urameshi! You gotta open your eyes! Urameshi!” Kuwabara’s voice was getting a little frantic.

Yusuke growled and grit his teeth, “No stupid bridge is going to mess with me!” 

Stubbornly he pushed himself forward and threw open his eyes. This sudden lurch rocked the bridge and pitched the startled Yusuke forward. Still dizzy, and now confused for which way was up, Yusuke reached out with both hands meaning to grasp the rope.

Instead, he toppled over the side, his hands grasping at nothing.

“Yusuke!”

“Urameshi, no!”

A sharp small hand caught Yusuke’s wrist, and the spirit detective hung in the grasp, gasping and choking as he fought to overcome his vertigo. When his vision had finally stopped spinning, he realized he was hanging below the bridge, with Hiei’s hand clamped tightly on his wrist.

Yusuke looked up into Hiei’s bored eyes and laughed nervously, “Oh man. Oh shit. Thanks Hiei.”

“You got yourself back under control... detective?” Hiei asked with undisguised irritation.

“Yeah... yeah.  Just... do me a favor–don’t let me go!” Yusuke smiled up at Hiei, who sighed.

“W-Want me to come over and help pull him up?” Kuwabara called, his voice somehow tense and relieved at the same time.

“No, I don’t need two idiots taking a nose dive off this bridge,” Hiei grumbled before he slowly hauled Yusuke back up over the side. 

Kuwabara grunted, not even bothering to snap or disagree this time.

When Yusuke was safely back on the bridge, Hiei forced Yusuke back closer to Kuwabara, and placed Yusuke’s hands securely on the rope. With a stern glare, Hiei warned, “Go slow. Go together. Don’t fall off again.”

Before either Kuwabara and Yusuke could blink Hiei disappeared from their sight, perhaps already speeding ahead somewhere on the bridge. Kurama sighed, smiling at the pair before turning back to his task of walking on, “Keep up you two. Hands on the rope!”

Yusuke and Kuwabara both remained rooted to their spots on the bridge, hands gripping desperately tight on the rope.

“God, fuck Hiei too,” Kuwabara muttered.

“Yeah. Fuck ‘em both,” Yusuke agreed.

It would be another hour before they all safely made it across.

 

Chapter Text

Iziki, firstborn of his tribe returned, from his hunt a little earlier than he had expected but judging from the look of his clan members' faces, he had missed some kind of action. His villagers already had a fire going in the center of town and were gathered close together, but were keeping well away from a second figure, who kept closer towards the edge of their village. The small figure, who seemed to be cradling something large, had his own fire, and kept his back pressed against a large boulder that had been purposely placed for him to lean against.

The stinking smell of decay and gore wafted off the little figure.

A battle must have taken place just a minute ago.

As other members of his clan began to gather and collect the food he had hunted, he kept his eye on the small figure. After a moment he realized it was the small demon Hiei, who worked for the ruler of their territory, Mukuro. He had shown up the other day saying he was looking for something that had been stolen. The village had let him in, and warned about another group nearby, who was known to steal and take things. Hiei had nodded and requested to be able to come back once he had retrieved what was stolen. Hastily, their chief had given Hiei the permission.

Glancing down at the large thing in Hiei's arms, Iziki guessed it must have been that.

He took a step closer towards Hiei, intending to get a better a look when the large thing stirred a little in Hiei's grasp.

Iziki paused and with a start realized the large, "thing," was actually a very large person.

Iziki sniffed the air catching a foreign scent, one that wasn't of a demon.

'A human,' Iziki thought a little surprised, 'I've never seen one up close.'

The large human shifted again, and Hiei, in what felt like a surprising show of tenderness, positioned himself behind the large man and rearranged him so he could lay more comfortably. Hiei tucked the bulkier figure against his chest, cradling him with what could only be described as a tender protective care. Iziki didn't know Hiei very well, he had only heard rumors about him, and had seen him for the first time yesterday, but something about this display still felt rather shocking.

Picking up a hunk of meat, Iziki intended to walk over to Hiei and offer the pair food, which would give him a chance to take a better look at the larger man, who Iziki guessed might be a human. 

Before he could get very far, Minno, a neighbor grabbed his arm, and with startling strength tugged him back hissing, “Whoa don’t go over there!”

“Huh what? Why?” Iziki asked, keeping his eyes on the sight of Hiei and the figure he held in his grasp.

“I’d give that Hiei guy and his human a wide birth for a little while…" Minno cautioned, hand firmly clamped on Iziki's forearm. 

"Why? What’s going on?”

“He just disemboweled sixteen guys who hurt his human, so trust me. It ain’t worth it going near them for a while. Just stay away from him, and don’t touch the human if you want to keep your life!” Minno hissed.

"People from our clan?" Iziki asked, now turning his attention to Minno.

"No, some other demons living in the woods. The clan the chief told him about yesterday. But we heard the screams from miles away! When he got back he asked if we'd let him rest before he took his human home, and the chief said he could. But we're all keeping away! His... his eyes..." Minno shuddered, "You do not want to get on his bad side right now! Just stay away, and hopefully, they'll both be gone by morning!"

"I should offer them food," Iziki argued, "I mean him and his human no harm, surely delivering food is harmless."

Stubbornly Iziki marched ahead, acutely aware his clan members were looking at him as he walked towards Hiei and the figure he was holding so protectively. Iziki lifted his chin up boldly, refusing to act like a coward. He meant no harm, and was in fact bringing over food. He had nothing-

Three feet from the pair, Hiei's eyes snapped up and fixed on Iziki.

Iziki froze.

It was like being caught under the stare of a wild beast, one that had the strength and intelligence to kill you. His gaze was hard, and the red eyes that locked on Iziki bore into him, assuring Iziki that he was a fool for approaching. That he had been unwise in his decision to approach, and would not be forgiven for coming close, regardless of what his reasons for approaching were.

The large human stirred, and Hiei's intense gaze lowered and shifted. Hiei's face had remained the same, stoic, cold, and distant, but the burning threat behind his eyes had disappeared. To one who could not read the subtle expressions of a wild animal, Hiei looked the same as his gaze shifted down to the human. But Iziki was well trained in watching the expression of his prey, and it was the same for being able to read the expression on others. The look Hiei had now was... tender. Concerned. Fond.

But it would be doubtful if a human, or one that wasn't paying close attention could ever notice that the hard cold expression had no bite or conviction to it now. Now that he was looking down at his human.

Iziki looked too, carefully and slowly. The human was battered, with bloodstains on his clothing, though it looked like his wounds had been treated. A strange power came from the human's body, and Iziki suddenly felt that if this human was up to snuff, he might have had a hard time with him in a battle as well. Hiei was not the only dangerous one of the pair.

The human shifted a little, lips parting in a soundless groan before his hand came up and landed gently on Hiei's hand. Weakly he pet Hiei's hand and the thick dangerous tension that had been a promise of death disappeared. The tension was now only a warning of what could come.

This human, even in his unconscious state, had saved Iziki.

Iziki lowered himself, and the meat he had brought to ground whispering, "Food... for you both. Freshly hunted. Please take it... and grow strong again."

Hiei's eyes darted back to Iziki and he nodded once. Iziki's gift had been accepted and he had been spared. Turning away from the small demon and his bestial red eyes, Iziki retreated back to the safety of his clan. 

Minno reached for Iziki, throwing his arm over Iziki's shoulder and whispered, "You got lucky! Don't ever approach a beast and his injured cub, that's a rule of hunting!"

Iziki didn't dare glance back at Hiei and his human, "R-Right. I should have applied that to them."

"You should have! Just... don't approach them again!" Minno hissed, voice shaking with terror and relief.

Iziki nodded firmly. He would not dare approach Hiei and his human again.

 

 

                                                     

Art by me

Chapter Text

It started not too long after Kuwabara spent the night in a shrine. 

After a mission where, once again, Yusuke almost gave it all up for the good of the world, and the boys needed a place to hunker down to rest and mend for a night. An abandoned shrine outside the border between the human realm was as good as they were going to find, but oh…

Did it give Kuwabara the heebie jeebies!

Kuwabara would normally warn against staying in a place like this, but the need to be somewhere safe to look after Yusuke out ruled Kuwabara’s bad feelings. So they stayed the night. The rest, as well as a night of balms and bandages from Kurama, made Yusuke all the better.

It had been worth staying in the shrine, despite the weird creepy unsettling feeling Kuwabara had the whole time they were there

But then it started–the sleepwalking.

It was a week later and Kuwabara was crashing with Yusuke. Yusuke was a heavy sleeper at most times, but Kuwabara putting a foot in his face got him up right away.

Yusuke had woken up howling like a wild cat but stopped when he spotted Kuwabara walking against the wall. Yusuke had laughed and caught on pretty quick that Kuwabara was sleepwalking. So Yusuke did what best friend’s do best in these times, and took several photos, drew dicks on Kuwabara’s face, and then finally roused him with a hard slap on his ass.

Kuwabara had woken with a start, got in a half-assed fight with Yusuke, and then the pair went back to sleep. 

And then Kuwabara did it again two nights later. Shizuru found him trying to get out of the apartment, steered him to bed, and that was that. No muss no fuss.

It was by sheer luck, that on the third event of sleepwalking, another few days later he didn’t tumble out his bedroom window and die.

Hiei had been nearby, and while in a tree near Kuwabara’s bedroom, spotted the window sliding open. Kuwabara’s head and shoulders appeared out of the window, and Hiei could see that his eyes were closed. Kuwabara continued to press forward and lifted his leg through the window.

Hiei was pushing Kuwabara back inside before the slumbering human could push himself forward and out the window.

Hiei shook Kuwabara’s arm sourly asking, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Kuwabara woke up violently, and it was how he reacted that suddenly made this sleepwalking thing… a real problem.

Kuwabara’s hands flew up to his head, his eyes rolled back and he screamed. Loud, scared, and full of pain, his voice sounding not like himself. Hiei was shaking Kuwabara trying to get Kuwabara to stop, and then Shizuru burst in. It took the both of them to pull Kuwabara’s hands away from his face, and when they managed it, Kuwabara went slack and back to sleep.

As if nothing had happened.

Shizuru and Hiei had looked at each other in stunned silence for a time. Words didn’t need to be spoken for Hiei to go get Kurama while Shizuru stayed behind to watch over her sleeping brother.

Now, the next morning, Kurama was grilling Kuwabara in his kitchen, the tired man leaning against his chin.

“Yes, yes… I know I’ve been sleepwalking lately. I don’t know why I tried to jump out my window,” Kuwabara sighed rubbing his tired eyes.

“Are you having strange dreams?” Kurama asked, leaning forward as he pressed Kuwabara for information.

Kurama had looked Kuwabara over but there had been nothing out of the blue to find. Shizuru didn’t feel a ghostly presence, and even with the Jagan, Hiei didn’t seem to sense anything either. It just seemed like sleepwalking… but what had caused him to scream like that?

Kuwabara, who had looked uninterested through the whole conversation got quiet and cast a wary eye over at Shizuru and Hiei. Shizuru narrowed her eyes at her brother, and Hiei straightened himself up, pushing away from the wall he had been leaning against.

Kuwabara cringed from their accusing gazes and looked at Kurama for some form of help.

“Can you leave us…? We need to know what’s going on and if he’s uncomfortable…” Kurama asked polite but firm, looking back at Hiei and Shizuru with a stern expression.

Hiei glared, his expression clearly reading he didn’t plan to budge. Shizuru huffed in protective annoyance, grabbed Hiei by his arm and dragged him out of the room, stomping as she begrudgingly left. When they were gone Kuwabara shyly looked to Kurama.

“Don’t tell Urameshi,” Kuwabara immediately pleaded.

Kurama took Kuwabara’s hands, face full of concern, “Whatever this is, whatever you’re dreaming it’s not going to be funny. If it’s affecting you and putting you in a dangerous situation… there is nothing to laugh at.”

Kuwabara remained silent.

Kurama sighed and rubbed Kuwabara’s knuckles with his thumbs, and squeezed the larger man’s hands tight, “I won’t tell him, or anyone anything that you tell me.”

“…So…” Kuwabara whispered, shrinking into his shoulders, his face going bright red, “So there’s this woman…”

Kurama nodded, holding Kuwabara’s hands tight, “Go on. You have nothing to be afraid of-”

“So there’s this woman, but I’m her somehow… and she’s having a lot, A LOT, of crazy wild sex. Orgy parties and shit. She’s drinking, and wearing wild clothes, and after all the sex, she calls out to me-like she knows I’m there-and asks me if any of my friends are single and if they’d like to get pegged,” Kuwabara exploded in several breaths, getting redder as he spoke, “But then suddenly she’s getting sealed up in a wall, and being suffocated… and it’s… Idon’tknow??”

Kurama blinked.

“Wait. What?”

“It’s a really, really, really vivid dream, and weird as hell,” Kuwabara muttered in a tiny breath.

Kurama blinked again. 

Well.

Well.

That was not what he was expecting!

Chapter Text

"You ever hear of the term gut punch?" Kuwabara asked, voice distant and icy.

It was not what Hiei, Kurama, and Yusuke expected to hear after the long silence that had followed after Kuwabara had walked in on the trio's intended private conversation.

Hiei blinked, his confusion showing openly on his face, and Kuwabara clapped his hands and pointed at Hiei before continuing to talk, "A gut-punch is not just a physical blow. It's also a way to express... uh that something has shocked or disturbed you so bad, it's like a physical blow. Something so wrong, so emotionally fucked up has happened, that your insides feel all wrecked. Like... you know--a literal punch to the gut."

"Kuwabara-"

"And you know, part of me is just... wondering why I'm even upset? You've all kept shit from me before," Kuwabara said, speaking over Kurama. Face flushing red, Kuwabara pointed at Yusuke, "I mean hell, you didn't tell me about Genkai! I had to hear about it from the guy trying to turn me into a pin cushion."

Yusuke flinched visibly, his features going paler by the minute, "T-that was different. It was... an accident then... I couldn't...let us expl-"

"I don't want to hear it all again," Kuwabara growled, teeth gnashed together as he waved a hand dismissively at his friends, "I accepted your apology then. But you know... I told you-I fucking told you-how much that fucking hurt back then. And you go ahead and do something like this again? Why is it you guys keep secrets from me!? Am I just too stupid to you-"

"Kazuma! No-" Kurama tried again, taking a tentative step forward his hands held up gently.

Kuwabara was pacing the floor now and turned away from Kurama with a scoff, "Big ol' Kuwabara. Too dumb to explain shit too. Too dumb to keep any fuckin' secrets. Too stupid, too unimportant to hear shit that fuckin' matters!"

Kuwabara rounded on the three, his rant ending with a shout. The three demons flinched, shocked and scared at Kuwabara's hurt. At the waves of betrayal, self-loathing, and anger radiating off him. The tears, and exhaustion in Kuwabara's eyes also didn't help the situation any either. Kuwabara's pain was a physical blow. 

A gut punch on its own.

Kuwabara straightened his back and laughed, dry and brittle, "So Yukina's your sister... and you're her brother," Kuwabara gestured at Hiei, who stiffened at Kuwabara's careless wave. "So it's you...the guy she's been looking for. And every one of you guys knew about it, but me... for some reason. I don't know why I can't know... I don't know why she can't know..."

Kuwabara wiped his face, hand rubbing over his mouth and jaw as if he could rub off the bitterness.

Kuwabara laughed again, the laugh breaking into a wheeze, and finally into a choked off sob.

The silence was something you could drown in. Thick, cold, heavy, and unrelenting.

Kuwabara blinked back his tears and rubbed the two droplets that had managed to escape down his cheeks with a quick swipe, "Well. Well, I'm not the smartest guy, but I could keep a secret if my friends needed me too. And yeah... it would have been hard... but uh... you guys were my best friends."

Kuwabara backed up towards the door he had walked through just moments ago, "I just thought...I just thought I was yours too."

He turned, leaving Kurama, Yusuke, and Hiei alone, standing cold and unable to move in the wake of Kuwabara's heartbreak. Their stomachs were twisted in knots, and a cold sweat had chilled its way down their spines. They needed to move after Kuwabara, to explain, to talk-but the check to their stomachs had been a blow they had not been prepared to handle.

Chapter Text

They were beaten. This demon, Luco, was too much. He’d crawled out of the pits of hell, bringing his vitriol for the living, his sadistic ways, and his straight up insanity with him. Like usual, Yusuke and his friends were there to save the day, put an end to it.

But Luco’s frantic blood-thirsty ways were too much. And now the boys were spread out on the ground before, alive and in terrible condition. Luco was standing looking just as bad as the four he’d been fighting, but he had one thing going for him.

He was standing.

And he laughed as he began to gloat about it, “Ahhhh look at this! Look at yuh four. So strong... but you can’t be in ye prime forever can ye? Can’t last forever...”

Luco grabbed Hiei’s sword from the ground, and limped over towards the person closest to him, Kurama. 

Kurama was trying to lift himself up, hissing as he braced his broken body with his forearms.

Laughing, Luco placed a foot on his back, knocking Kurama flat on his chest, pushing the redhead back to the ground with a hard thud.

“Nuh! I saw ye tryin’ to get up,” Luco wheezed as he chortled, eyes glistening, “I like the cut of your jib boy, but ye ain’t gonna get up again.”

Clasping both hands around the hilt of his sword, he brought the blade up with the intent to sink it into Kurama’s back. A sound to his left had him turning and parrying Kuwabara’s blade.

“Don’t you fucking dare!” Kuwabara howled, blood smeared on his face and eyes ablaze with desperation.

“Boy, I wish all humans were as interestin’ as yuh!”” Luco laughed.

He swirled and kicked Kuwabara in the face, knocking the weakened human back to the ground. Kuwabara’s sword flickered out, and Luco kicked him again in the stomach, and then smashed the hilt of Hiei’s sword between Kuwabara’s eyes, breaking his nose.

Holding Kuwabara by the hair, Luco laughed and looked back at the other three demons, making sure they hadn’t popped back up like this one had. Hiei, Kurama, and Yusuke had their eyes open and were all trying to move, but they had given it their all. Tapped into their reserves and burned until they ran out. Tapped into their life force and burned again. They had nothing left to give.

Luco dragged Kuwabara towards a tree, just in sight of the others, and created a rope with his spiritual power. Tossing the string of energy over a branch he strung Kuwabara up by his neck, forcing the tall human to stand on the very tip of his toes lest he strangle himself.

Kuwabara tugged at the rope, gasping like a fish as he tried to maintain his balance on his toes.

“You bastard!” Hiei hissed, growling like a feral animal.

“Oh come no now, I’m just assistin’ in what is everyone’s destiny!” Luco laughed marching back to Kurama. He pressed his foot back down on Kurama’s back and spread his arms right, “I’m returning ye to earth!”

“Bastard...” Kurama hissed, glaring up at Luco, his green eyes lit with everything but fear.

“Don’t!” Yusuke growled, dragging himself closer towards Luco, eyes wild with desperation. “Don’t!”

“Life is a bitch boy,” Luco said pointing Hiei’s blade at Yusuke with a snarl, “It’s a beast that shits and eats from the same end! And we are all fodder and shit for that beast. So don’t look at it as death,”

He wrapped both hands around Hiei’s hilt and sunk it through Kurama’s back, the redhead gasping as the blade tore through his body. Luco smiled and keeping his eyes on Yusuke, Kuwabara, and Hiei’s faces, he twisted the blade muttering, “Look at it as returnin’ back were we all start at. The dirt.”

Kurama slumped limp and gone, and hand outstretched for his friends in the end. Blood seeped from his body in a slow and steady stream, leaving him as quickly as his life had. Luco removed his boot from his back, stepping over Kurama and taking intentionally slow steps towards Kuwabara.

“Now... Let’s move on to this big fella here,” Luco said smiling as Hiei roared, his anger splitting through the air.

Yusuke, still trying to grasp what he had just witnessed, now twisted and tried to get closer to Kuwabara. He hadn’t reached Luco, couldn’t reach Kurama...

Kurama was gone.

Tears obscured Yusuke’s vision, but he couldn’t let another of his friends be snatched in front of him.

Not like Kurama. 

‘Kurama. Kurama. Kurama. KURAMA!’ Yusuke’s mind mourned, screaming and howling along with Hiei’s bestial roars. But he couldn’t shut down and grieve. Luco was hell bent on killing them all, and Yusuke couldn’t let the others die.

“Kuwabara! You still... you still got some strength in ya!? P-please! Get out of that rope!” Yusuke begged as he tried in vain to reach his best friend.

But Kuwabara was a mess. He was gasping and sobbing, choking around Kurama’s name, swaying in the tether that tightened around his neck. His legs were shaking, and it seemed like he would collapse and strangle on his own grief-literally and figuratively. 

“Now, now, boy... quit that now,” Luco laughed stepping intentionally on Yusuke’s hand as he walked steadily towards Kuwabara, “I don’t want yuh to hang on that rope... I wanna kill ye myself.”

Hiei had gotten up, chest heaving. He was looking at Kurama lying so still on the ground. Kurama hadn’t made a sound in his passing. He was just gone. Dead from his own sword. In Hiei’s mind that was a good as him killing Kurama himself.

He had no right to be alive right now.

With a heavy, strained breath he shifted towards Luco watching as he made his way for Kuwabara. It wasn’t going to happen. Luco wasn’t getting Kuwabara too.

Hiei tore the wrappings from his arm. He’d die with Luco instead.

Luco lifted his arm out, intending to cup Kuwabara’s face, his eyes alight with fascination over Kuwabara’s suffering. 

The expression did not get to last long.

Something wrapped around Luco’s throat, and then his waist, his arms, and his hips. Something that had needles, and it pulled yanking him back hard from whence he came, and then high into the air. The needles pumped something like acid into his body and Luco was burning, burning more than he ever had in his pit of hell.

“You think you can just stick that prick in me and get away with it?” A hauntingly familiar voice said just beneath him.

Luco looked down and was startled to see A fox demon in all silver looking up. His golden eyes were blazing with outrage. His face...

“Now... din’tcha ‘ave red hair?” Luco choked, blood and droll slipping out his mouth as he stared bewilderedly down at the man before him.

“I did. But just as you said... you returned him to earth,” Youko Kurama said bitterly, curling his fingers around the bulb of a large plant, the source of the needle like vines curled around Luco. 

When the sword had sunken into Kurama’s chest, at the last second he did the only option available to him. He released his mortal self and shifted into that of his old self, Youko. Kurama’s golden eyes glanced at where he had been. 

There was no body, just Hiei’s sword and a puddle of blood. He was alive but dead all the same. No longer a human who had a mother, no longer someone who could return to her arms. It would all be memories now, memories of a life he had loved and could not go back to.

Youko would make Luco pay for that.

Youko Kurama pat the bulb twice and it reeled Luco violently down. Luco started laughing as he was sped towards the waiting demon, the fox eager to catch his prey.

“Now Luco... I’m going to pay you back for what you did to Minamino Shuuichi. But I’m not doing it all at once. Piece by piece I’ll return you to the ground... and when you think it’s all over... we’ll start from the beginning,” Youko Kurama promised.

Luco only laughed as he was rushed towards his end. It was all the same to him in the end.

Chapter Text

Hiei did not “party.” He was not someone who celebrated with, “friends,” or went out and met new people in a social situation. That was a human invention, it just had to be.

And yet here he was now, at an event being held by Mukuro, an event with food, drink, and a gathering of people. While it had been put under the label of, “celebration,”--it was still a fucking party and Hiei hated it. 

But this was Mukuro, one of the less than a dozen people he considered... important. She asked him to be present, even if it was for just the first hour, and so he agreed. Yusuke and Kurama were there, and Mukuro had also invited Kuwabara.

She had taken an unexpected shine to him two years ago and even went as far as seeking him out and having long conversations with him. Kuwabara made her smile, which was rare, and so Hiei couldn’t grumble too much about seeing Kuwabara hang around. It was also interesting to see jealous stares pitched Kuwabara’s way as Mukuro kept him within her inner circle.

Sipping a glass of some intoxicating beverage, Hiei watched as friends, and allies of Mukuro’s territory gathered, celebrating her victory in the latest Makai tournament. Somewhere in the next room Hiei could still hear Yusuke loudly exclaiming that his face still fell like it was going to fall off from Mukuro’s last hit. He was awfully pleased about his loss, and even wanted another go, but that was Yusuke for you.

Directly to his right, Murko was making small talk with Kurama, the two at some points joking about Hiei just to get a rise out of him. Hiei would deeply sigh and roll his eyes, and those two would smile like they had accomplished something special.

He should have never let those two be alone with one another.

He’d brought his drink to his mouth when he spotted Kuwabara passing a drink over to some demon “lord,” (as the demon had proclaimed it) over some useless patch of territory none of the three kings had been invested in enough to take over. Zekial, or something like that, was his name.

And this was the third time Zekial had found Kuwabara and specifically gotten the human to get him a drink.

This was odd in a way Hiei hadn’t quite put his finger on. When he first saw Zekial ask for a drink, Hiei had found it odd. The second time Hiei was wondering if this was Zekial flirting, which, good luck getting Kuwabara to notice that. But now it was on the third request for a beverage in under an hour, and it just... didn’t sit right.

Kuwabara, fool that he was would stop what he was doing, go to the bar across the room, make and get this demon a drink. Kuwabara would return smiling, and politely pass the beverage over to Zekial who would take it with an arrogant tip of his nose. Kuwabara would then go back to his corner with Chuu, or Jin, or Yukina, or whoever he had been hanging around, and go back about his business.

Hiei had his eyes on Zekial now. What was his game? Everyone in Mukuro’s territory knew Mukuro favored Kuwabara. Everyone in the whole realm of demon world knew Kuwabara had Yusuke’s favor--so what was the demon doing? 

Keeping an eye on Zekial now, Hiei watched as he hung around the same three people, who also were looking at Kuwabara with slightly arrogant eyes. And then one of them slipped up and allowed a sneer to cross his face. Hiei put his drink down hard, some of the contents splashing on his hand.

So, that was it.

Zekial and his small little rag-tag group of hangers-on were disrespecting Kuwabara and looking down on him in a way they thought they could get away with.

And Kuwabara-idiot that he was-hadn't noticed. Had been smiling politely, probably confused as to why these people were having him fetch their drinks. Like a servant. Like a slave. Treating Kuwabara like that wasn’t just an insult to Kuwabara, but also to Mukuro who had endured such atrocities, and yet these lower life forms thought they could act this way in her home and expect not to get noticed.

Hiei was already walking forwards by the time Zekial had poured out the drink Kuwabara had poured him, and then casually strolled back over to Kuwabara, with intentions to have him fetch a fourth drink.

Kuwabara had turned around to face Zekial and Hiei could see Kuwabara’s face now. The exasperation, confusion, and annoyance in his eyes. The forced polite smile as he tried to maintain his temper and remain polite.

So it was worse than Hiei had realized. Kuwabara had noticed but was forcing himself to behave.

If Kuwabara wasn’t going to lose his temper, Hiei would do it for him.

“Hey, moron!” Hiei snapped speaking over Zekial who had his cup extended and a question on his lips.

Both Kuwabara and Zekial snapped their attention to Hiei.

Hiei kept his eyes on Zekial and pointed a finger at the arrogant prick, “This is the fourth time you’ve sought Kuwabara out to get you a drink. And while you lost your very first match in the tournament, I see that you have legs and eyes that can help you fetch your own Goddamn drink.”

Zekial, the first wise decision of his night, remained quiet trying to formulate something to say.

Hiei wasn’t going to give him time to think, “Well? Is there a particular reason you’re having Kuwabara serve you?”

“He’s just been being... very polite to me and assisting me,” Zekial tried.

Kuwabara folded his arms, and tilted his head thoughtfully, “I have been pretty polite to ya... especially since you keep rudely interruptin’ me and anyone I talk to, and I’ve practically mapped out where you can get your own drink.”

Zekial was turning red and had begun to do so the moment Kuwabara changed his stance. As Kuwabara finished speaking, Zekial couldn’t hold on to his decorum for another few seconds to try and lie himself out of the trouble he had landed himself in. Instead, he turned a disgusted face to Kuwabara, sneering, “The day I show any civility towards something that is lower than a bug, will be the day I die!”

Hiei’s sword was pierced through a nonvital point of Zekial’s chest as the demon finished speaking.

“Do not confuse Kuwabara’s worth, with yours,” Hiei bit out, eyes narrowed. He twisted the sword, enough to have Zekial cry out in agony, and then Hiei ordered, “Kneel. I have not done enough damage to kill you, but I could do it in this very second. Kneel, and apologize to Kuwabara.”

Zekial hissed, face twisted in pain, but his fear was stronger than his pride, and with a slow painful effort, he managed to kneel, Hiei’s sword still stuck within him. 

“Now, apologize,” Hiei instructed again, smirking at Zekial’s sorry state.

“I’m...sorry...” Zekial hissed as Hiei twisted the blade another few centimeters.

Hiei smiled wide, his look bloodthirsty, “No. Apologize to Kuwabara. He’s the one you’ve wronged here.”

Kuwabara snorted, covering an obvious laugh with a faked cough.

Zekial was changing colors. He was sweating he was enraged and humiliated. Zekial’s nostrils flared and he slowly turned his eyes to Kuwabara, “Human...”

Kuwabara tsked, ”You’ve heard my name enough to use it haven’t you?”

Hiei laughed, delighted by Kuwabara’s rare show of cruelty.

Zekial, no longer able to flush red as he was already losing too much blood, managed, “Kuwabara, I apologize... for my behavior this evening.”

Hiei wrenched his sword from Zekia’s chest with an intentional force, and planting his boot into the demon’s face, kicked him back towards Yusuke who had come up behind him. Yusuke twisted the much taller demon’s arms easily behind his back, and with a savage grin of his own quipped, “Let me get this trash out. Consider yourself lucky to get to keep your life pal. If I’d spotted that shit, who knows what I would have done!”

And with a sharp jerk, Yusuke was leading the man from the room, while the rest of the attendants burst into applause. Enki, along with Chuu had gathered up Zekial’s posse and were shoving them to follow after their leader.

“Alright you lot get out too,” Enki was saying with a disappointed air.

“Yeah ya ingrates! Out!” Chuu laughed kicking one of the men forward.

Hiei sheathed his sword shaking off the blood and felt a hand on his shoulder. Looking up he saw Kuwabara smiling at him, his eyes twinkling with amusement, gratitude, and some other soft emotion that had Hiei cringing.

“Thanks man,” Kuwabara said low and sincere.

Hiei took in a deep breath, sighing and accepting his fate. He grunted in response.

Kuwabara’s arm slipped around Hiei’s shoulders in a light friendly squeeze, “Always knew you loved me.”

Hiei rolled his eyes, and spotted both Kurama and Mukuro smiling at him with shit-eating grins.

He hated parties.

Chapter Text

Hiei dropped into a low squat, his muscles tensing just before he leaped into a high branch of a thick tree, thus effectively dodging Yusuke before the latter could tackle him in a hug.

Hiei smirked, satisfied enough to see Yusuke fall on his face, and eat dirt.

“Ah, Dammit Hiei!” You’re not supposed to move!” Yusuke whined, pushing himself up with one hand, and scrubbing his mouth out with the other.

“Who doesn’t dodge when being attacked?” Hiei queried, a brow raised.

“It was going to be a hug!” Yusuke snorted, dusting himself off and glaring up at Hiei on his branch.

“...Same thing...” Hiei muttered.

Yusuke laughed, “A hug and an attack are not the same thing!”

Hiei chose to ignore him, a decision he regretted immediately. He had let his attention slip two seconds too long, and then arms were wrapped around him and Yusuke had him caught in his embrace. The pair tumbled from the tree, and down on to the hard ground, the earth cracking beneath Hiei’s back.

A mild irritant for a demon, like himself, but still an irritant. 

“I hate you,” Hiei muttered darkly as he lay beneath Yusuke, who giggled like a madman and squeezed him tight.

“No, you don’t,” Yusuke crowed smugly.

Hiei sighed.

No, he didn’t.

Chapter Text

Hiei raked his sword across his opponent's belly, a breath of hot air hissing past his clenched teeth, as he pushed all his strength behind his blade. His opponent’s hand flew to his body, before the entire top-half of him slid over towards the left, while his legs fell right.

Behind him, Yusuke and Kurama were trying to tear a plant off of Kuwabara’s face.

Kuwabara hadn’t even wanted to come on this mission.

 


 

“What do you mean you don’t want to go?” Yusuke asked, his eyebrows high into his hairline as he stared at Kuwabara in shock.

Kuwabara uncomfortably looked away, a hand rubbing the back of his neck. He opened his mouth to answer, and then closed it when nothing came out.

“You’re normally begging to go on more missions with us,” Hiei rumbled, red eyes trained on Kuwabara’s uncertain expression.

“Your abilities would be very useful on this mission Kazuma,” Kurama pointed out, before placing a gentle hand on Kuwabara’s back, “With you and Hiei’s combined efforts, this mission would go a lot smoother. What has you worried?”

“I dunno,” Kuwabara mumbled an immediate lie. 

He sighed, closing his eyes tight, before opening them again and continued to speak, “I mean... I do... know. It’s... this guy throws a seed on you, and it makes you forget the person you love, and you know... the plant gets worse. It keeps eating the victim’s memories, and turns them into a zombie.”

“Which is why we’ve got to stop him!” Yusuke affirmed, punching his fist into his hand.

“If he’s defeated, the victims should return to normal in twenty-four hours,” Kurama said, and with some hesitation added, “That’s the theory.”

“Theory. No one is sure,” Kuwabara muttered, his ears red.

“Is your love so special, your fear of forgetting will prevent you from taking this case?” Hiei mocked, eyes fixed on Kuwabara’s inflamed ears.

Kuwabara’s eyes flickered over to Hiei, a light shining out of them from deep within, “...Yeah.”

 


 

Hiei turned from his defeated enemy and stormed to stand over Kuwabara, watching helplessly as Kurama and Yusuke tore the now wilting vines from Kuwabara’s face.

“Was this the Memory seed?” Hiei found himself asking.

“From what we have heard... yes,” Kurama said bitterly, his eyes focused on his current task. 

“But we... we stopped that guy super quick! Hiei sliced ‘em up good! He’ll be fine, right?” Yusuke asked, ripping the last of the vines from Kuwabara’s face. Kuwabara’s eyes were closed, his skin ashen. It didn’t even look like he breathed.

Brown eyes wide with concern, Yusuke reached down and cupped Kuwabara’s face, the human still beneath his touch.

“Kuwabara! Come on, wake up buddy!” Yusuke pleaded.

Yusuke turned to Kurama, “It... it’s not that fast right? He’s not gonna forget who he loves right? He’ll remember her?” 

Kurama nodded, assuming he knew who Yusuke meant, and who Kuwabara loved, “Yes, it’s... there’s a chance it didn’t... but even if... either way, Koenma thinks those afflicted will gain their memories back within a day!”

“But... we don’t know for sure!” Yusuke sounded helpless, regret dripping in every word.

Hiei closed his fist tight.

 


 

“...but the mindless Zombie things sounds shitty too,” Kuwabara added, looking away from Hiei’s stern gaze.

“It’s not like we’re just going to let one of us get hit by a seed, and go all Audrey Two on everyone!” Yusuke sighed rolling his eyes. He smiled and dug his elbow into Kuwabara’s side, “We’re all at risk buddy, but we can put a stop to him easy And with your psychic abilities you can help predict his movements and find him!”

Kuwabara sighed, pushing back against, Yusuke after the shorter man elbowed him. He rubbed a big hand over his side, and glanced back at his friends, his eyes landing on Hiei last. Kuwabara shrugged, and the muttered, “I... I just kind of have this bad feeling.”

“Get over it,” Hiei snapped losing his patience.

“Hiei-” Kurama began to scold.

Hiei growled, glaring at Kurama as he spoke, “He is either with us, and useful to this team, or he stays here and protects the memories of his precious love. She probably doesn’t even feel the same about him anyway!”

“Hey!” Yusuke snapped, “Quit being a fuckin’ asshole!”

Kuwabara had flinched, but his eyes remained on Hiei’s face. Hiei didn’t look away.

 


 

Kuwabara’s eyes snapped open violently, and he took in a sharp choking breath. He coughed, rolling on his side facing Yusuke, his breaths loud and rattling.

“Holy shit, man!” Yusuke exploded, startled by Kuwabara’s sudden abrupt awakening. His hands moved from Kuwabara’s face, to smoothing down the length of his back, his face full of relief as Kuwabara coughed himself awake.

“Are you alright? Hey!” Yusuke tried, a hand shifting to run up and down Kuwabara’s arm.

“Help him sit up!” Kurama ordered, hooking his arms beneath Kuwabara, and with Yusuke’s assistance, forced the large man to sit up. Kuwabara coughed a wheezy little breath, spitting out several tiny green leaves.

“Oh, gross...” Kuwabara choked, voice tight.

“Kuwabara! Hey! You with us?” Yusuke asked, practically shouting in Kuwabara’s face.

Kuwabara looked at Yusuke, then to Kurama, and then to Hiei. Hiei noticed Kuwabara titled his head for a moment when his eyes landed on him, but then Kuwabara was back to looking at Yusuke.

“What... what happened?”

“He hit you in the face with one of his Memory seeds!” Yusuke answered before immediately asking, “Who is Yukina? You know who that is, right?!”

Kuwabara squinted at Yusuke as if he was crazy.

“Yeah, Yukina, beautiful ice maiden. Sweetest smile, and lives at Genkai’s shrine,” Kuwabara answered with a laugh, wiping his hand over his face. He coughed again, and pulled another piece of a plant from his mouth, shaking his head in disgust.

Kurama’s and Yusuke’s shoulders sagged with relief, and they both laughed, exchanging relieved looks with each other. Hiei relaxed his stance, though he could still feel a tension between his shoulder blades. Hiei shook his head, muttering about Kuwabara’s carelessness.

And then, loud enough to be heard, Hiei snapped, “Next time you push someone, make sure to dodge yourself.”

“Who's the little angry guy?”

 


 

Their opponent had not been exceedingly powerful. 

What made him a nuisance was a satchel of seeds he kept at his waist. The seed merely had to touch someone, and it would burrow towards the victim’s brain and steal away the memories of their loved one. In anywhere between three minutes to an hour, the victim would then turn into a zombie, obeying the only person they could remember-the wielder of the seeds.

By the time the spirit detectives had found him, he had amassed hundreds of mindless victims, which he used as shields to hide behind. This was where Hiei and Kuwabara came in. With Hiei’s Jagan he could see through the zombies, and find their foe, and Kuwabara could track and predict his movements so they could cut him off when he tried to run.

It was a good plan... the fucker was just so fast!

There had been many close calls between all four of them. Seeds tossed at them, to land on the ground and burrow deep in the earth. An explosion of vines would shortly follow after, the force of the eruption crumbling the ground beneath the group’s feet.

The ground near Hiei had shifted unexpectedly, and their enemy appeared before him, smiling and eager.

“HIEI!” Kuwabara’s voice had been painfully close to his ear, and Hiei was shoved away.

He didn’t see the memory seed land on Kuwabara, to know that was what happened. Before he could turn, Kuwabara made a strange sound behind him and then choked. Hiei turned, heart frozen, and watched with wide eyes as vines shout out Kuwabara’s mouth, and wrapped around his head, rapidly cocooning him behind a wall of green. 

Kuwabara had been looking at Hiei terrified just before his face was enclosed by the vines growing out of his own mouth.

Hiei didn’t remember how he got the upper hand on his opponent. All he knew was that their enemy needed to be dead before Kuwabara hit the ground.

 


 

Kurama and Yusuke had frozen in their places next to Kuwabara. Sifting slowly they turned to look at Hiei, who was staring at Kuwabara, his brow furrowed and mouth open.

“Wh...what did you just say?” Hiei asked, his voice working before his brain could give it permission.

Kuwabara made a face, glanced at Kurama and Yusuke, and then looked back at Hiei, “Um... who are you? You help us out?”

Hiei dropped his sword.

“Kuwabara... Kuwabara, that’s Hiei,” Yusuke said, his hands coming to Kuwabara’s shoulders, “You... You’re fucking around right?”

“Hiei?” Kuwabara repeated, no recognition in his voice. He squinted at Yusuke’s rigid face and asked, “Are you okay?”

“Am I... AM I OKAY?!”

Kurama’s hand came to Kuwabara’s chin, and he directed the man to look him in the eye. Kurama’s green eyes bore into Kuwabara’s eyes and slowly Kurama spoke, “Hiei. You’ve known him over three years now. You know him... right?”

Kuwabara made a face, and shrugged Kurama and Yusuke off of him. Standing up quickly, he began to dust himself off, muttering uncomfortably, “You guys are freakin’ me out. Stop it!”

Hiei had Kuwabara’s shirt in his hand, and had forced the towering man back on the ground.

He could hear Kurama and Yusuke shouting at him, and feel the pair trying to tug him away from Kuwabara. Kuwabara was looking at Hiei with blind confusion, fear, and anger. But the anger was not familiar. Kuwabara didn’t know who Hiei was.

“You know me,” Hiei said, voice weak and fighting to be angry.

Kuwabara’s hands were clamped around Hiei’s wrist, trying to push his hand away from him, “Get the fuck off’a me, you weirdo! Let go!” Kuwabara slammed his fist as hard as he could against Hiei’s forearm, his effort only mildly stinging Hiei.

“Kuwabara,” Hiei’s voice sounded like a plea, even to his own ears, “Kuwabara, you know me.”

Kuwabara looked at him, his eyes blank and empty of that small flicker Hiei used to look for. Kuwabara smashed his skull into Hiei’s nose, a burst of Kuwabara’s spirit energy at the forefront to give Kuwabara’s attack an extra boost. Hiei’s eyes stung as he was temporarily blinded from the flash, and his nose ached dully.

Kurama and Yusuke were holding Hiei by an arm each, sputtering nonsensical words as they tried to speak. When Hiei could open his eyes and look at Kuwabara, the human had gotten to his feet again, and had pressed himself flat up against a tree. His face was flushed with anger, and his chest was heaving as he took in anxious, exhausted breaths.

“Keep that little freak away from me!” Kuwabara snapped, a shaking hand rubbing at his throat, “Who the hell is that guy?!”

Yusuke, Kurama, and Hiei could only stare with numb shock at Kuwabara. Kurama and Yusuke looked at each other, and then uncomfortably between Hiei and Kuwabara.

“I...I... thought... Yukina...” Yusuke muttered weakly.

Kurama made a sound in the back of his throat, remorseful and understanding.

Hiei looked at Kuwabara, a few of the human’s concerned words coming to the forefront of his mind:

“...I just kind of have this bad feeling.”

Chapter Text

“Why aren’t they doing anything?”

“Where are the owners of this place? Someone should get in there, and poke them with a stick!”

“Are we just supposed to look at them?”

“Dare you to put your hand in through the bars!”

“No way!”

“This sucks!”

“...DO A FLIP!”

Kuwabara and Keiko, sitting directly across from each other, hands folded into their laps, and heads bowed close, ignored the gaggle of demons that were trying to provoke them. While being in a cage was annoying, and made worse by the demonic patrons who seemed disappointed by the lack of movement from the two, Kuwabara and Keiko had been in worse situations.

“You could do a pretty impressive flip,” Keiko mused, arching her eyebrows expectantly at Kuwabara.

“What?” Kuwabara asked, raising his own eyebrow at Keiko.

“You can,” She insisted.

“If I recall, you went into gymnastics in high school,” Kuwabara accused, smiling at Keiko.

“That was two years ago, law school has no gymnastics programs. Besides... I did better flips on the bars than on my own,” Keiko lied.

“That’s not how that works. You can’t lie to the person who went to every one of your shows. You are amazing at flips!”

“You don’t know that.”

“Keiko, what did I just say? I’ve seen all your tricks! You do a flip!”

“I’m in a skirt. You do the flip,” Keiko smiled primly, and lightly pushed Kuwabara. She didn’t dare touch him too excessively, Kuwabara had been beaten rather severely by their captors. She had been harmed a little, but Kuwabara had taken the brunt of the damage, something she would tell Yusuke about later.

When Yusuke was here, they would both nag and worry over Kuwabara together.

A demon banged a hand on the cage shouting, “DO SOMETHING!”

Kuwabara glanced at them all with a bored expression. Smiling mischievously at Keiko, Kuwabara whispered, “I can’t wait to see their faces when the guys get here.”

“Yusuke will tear their heads off,” Keiko agreed, also smiling.

“I kind of can’t wait!” Kuwabara whispered with a companionable laugh, before flinching as he disturbed a fractured rib.

Keiko reached out, her hands falling delicately on his bicep. She smiled sympathetically at Kuwabara, who placed a hand on hers. The chains wrapped around his wrists made it a little hard for him to take her hand, but he managed it eventually. He gave Keiko a guilty look, which she squashed with a stern expression.

She wasn’t going to let him blame himself for their capture-again.

“You’re not worried, right? Urameshi will be here. Kurama and Hiei too,” Kuwabara promised, worried for Keiko’s mental state.

Keiko smiled at Kuwabara, shaking her head and rolling her eyes, “I’m more than fine Kazuma, don’t worry about it. I know they’re coming, and I am very eager to see Yusuke and the others storm in and open a can of whoop-ass upon these jerks!”

 Kuwabara choked on his laughter, wincing and cursing as his ribs howled with pain. He kept on laughing though, seeming to decide it was worth it.

Keiko waited for Kuwabara to settle down, before sincerely asking, “Are you sure you don’t want to do that flip?”

Kuwabara smiled at Keiko again, “Keiko... dear sweet Keiko... shut the hell up.”

Keiko opened her mouth in mock affront, a hand flying to her chest, “Kuwabara! My delicate sensibilities!”

“I paid GOOD money to see something interesting, make them do SOMETHING!” A demon howled.

Kuwabara and Keiko shared matching sighs as they looked out at the smattering of demons who had gathered around their cage. It was at the time, an explosion went off nearby, a force of wind smashing the demons against the bars. Kuwabara on instinct, curled an arm around Keiko, keeping her rooted next to him against the force of energy and wind that swept around them.

Keiko didn’t need spiritual awareness to recognize that strength.

As the smoke and dust cleared, three steadily marching figures could be seen approaching the confused demon patrons and the pair of humans in their cage.

“Oh, finally!” Keiko said perking up, “Now, we are going to be in for a treat!”

Kuwabara grinned, “Oh yeah... maybe the guys can make these assholes do a fuckin’ flip for us.”

Keiko reached out suddenly, tugging Kuwabara close, “Oh! Oh! Lay your head on my lap and look real extra hurt. Yusuke will lose his mind, and we’ll get a really good show!”

Kuwabara laughed, stopping with a hiss as his ribs reminded him once again, they were cracked. Wincing, he muttered, “Actually... I might seriously need to!”

“Then do it,” Keiko encouraged, “You protected me, you can certainly use my lap. Come on... there we go. Let’s watch these scumbags get turned inside out, okay?”

Kuwabara hummed his approval as he settled himself against Keiko’s lap, smiling as Hiei and Kurama disappeared from Yusuke’s side to catch the demon’s who were trying to escape. Yusuke was already rushing forward, his eyes fixed on the many targets he planned to make pay, for the suffering that had been afflicted to his friend and his girlfriend.

Keiko smiled, gently running a hand over Kuwabara’s messy pompadour, “Really... it looks like we’ll be in for a show!”

Chapter Text

“About half of his victims have already reverted to normal-”

“...But then only half of those people recovered their memories.”

“Why hasn’t Kuwabara remembered?”

“Yusuke, it’s been an hour! He was the last victim, we have to wait a full twenty-four hours.”

“Some people didn’t remember!”

“Kuwabara... Kuwabara will remember!”

“He has to...”

“What if he doesn’t remember?”

“...Can you guys stop talking about me like I’m not here?” Kuwabara asked uncomfortably. He flinched as Koenma, Yusuke, Kurama, and Botan all looked at them, their eyes wide and unbelieving. He cringed at their bewildered expressions, and really wished they’d just take him home.

The shorter figure, Hame? Hino? No, no... it was Hiei. Hiei, stood away from the group, away from Kuwabara, his arms crossed and his red eyes glaring in the far corner of the room. He radiated with a dark aura, that warned for everyone to keep away.

Kuwabara was happy to oblige.


 

Koenma ran his hands down his front, drying and ridding them of the nervous sweat that he’d broken out into. Bending slightly towards Kuwabara, as if he was speaking to a child, Koenma asked, “Do you remember the mission you all agreed to help on before you left here?”

Kuwabara stood up. One, because of course he remembered, and two, because why was Koenma bent over treating him like he was the child! Koenma was the one who still wore diapers--probably! 

“Yes, I remember! This asshole was using these seeds to take memories, and turn people into his warrior zombies. So we, as usual, went out and took care of it.”

“And you got hit!” Yusuke snapped, less angry, and more... frantic.

“Do you remember what the first memory is that you lose?” Koenma asked, standing straight, his brows knitted together with that anxious concern everyone wore on their faces.

“Yes... I do...” Kuwabara muttered awkwardly. He remembered the assignment. He remembered which particular memory he “supposedly,” lost. He just... couldn’t really believe it.

“You forgot me,” Hiei spoke up from the corner, his voice bitter and deep.

The room was silent.

Kuwabara awkwardly rubbed the toe of his shoe against the back of his leg. He wanted to deny that he knew Hiei again, but he’d been dragged to Spirit World and shown some video evidence that they had all once been a team of four. Not three, like Kuwabara’s memories, told him. It was hard to deny what he was shown. There was even footage of Kurama and this Hiei, training him before the dark tournament.

Kuwabara could even think of a few sword moves that he knew, that he saw Hiei use, with admittedly far better skill.

“And so I loved you?” Kuwabara asked, jumping as he felt the whole room flinch. Botan had sucked in such a sharp breath, she started to choke and cough.

“I don’t know. You tell me,” Hiei bit out, finally turning to glare at Kuwabara, “You never told me!” The way Hiei said that, sounded strange to Kuwabara. Hiei’s voice was angry and bitter, but it wasn’t just the feelings behind the words. It was the words themselves that was also strange. It was like he had heard it before, somewhere. It made his head hurt.

“You never told anyone!” Yusuke added suddenly, “You always said you loved Yukina!”

“That’s odd,” Kuwabara admitted, “I really don’t.” That was another thing that bothered him. He liked Yukina, loved her in a way, but she was not... he wasn’t in love with her. He knew this to be true as certain as he was sure of his own name. It seemed strange to him, his friends didn’t know that.

Again, the room stared at him.

“He...he admitted it so easily,” Kurama muttered.

“Hold on a second! You only gush every other day, that you love her!” Yusuke snapped, pointing at Kuwabara with accusation.

Kuwabara opened his mouth to protest. He squinted and narrowed his eyes a bit. Yusuke was right. He did do that. He did have memories of fervently declaring his love for Yukina. All the time. Around his friends.

Why?

“Why?” Kuwabara asked aloud, a hand coming to his chin. He tapped a finger on his mouth and muttered, “Why do I do that?”

“Because you love her! Or you said you did! Why didn’t you tell me you were in love with Hiei?! I don’t care! Did you think I would care?!” Yusuke pulled his hair as he shouted out the thoughts that had been haunting him since this all started.

Kuwabara titled his chin, disregarding Yusuke’s panic, “...I was saying I loved Yukina because... I told her I would.” Kuwabara narrowed his eyes as he struggled to remember. Did it involve this Hiei guy somehow?

“What do you mean Kuwabara?” Kurama asked.

“Because I did love her at first I thought,” Kuwabara continued to mutter, “But then we talked, and were looking for...” Kuwabara’s mutterings ended and his hand went to his head. He closed his eyes wincing against a sudden headache. He heard Kurama gasp, and felt blood drip from his nose, pouring out suddenly as if he’s sprung a leak.

“Kuwabara stop trying to remember whatever you’re trying to remember,” Koenma ordered, voice firm but tinged with fear, “That’s the memory seed still at work. You can hurt yourself if you push too hard.”

Kuwabara wiped his nose, sniffing as his head throbbed dully.

He felt Hiei’s eyes on him, glancing at him.

“It’s fine,” Kuwabara muttered, sniffling as he blinked rapidly until the pain was gone.

“It’s not fine Kuwabara! if you push too hard... well I don’t want to find out what that could do to you!” Koenma insisted.

Kuwabara wanted to roll his eyes. He had taken a lot more beatings than whatever this little plant was doing to him. He sighed and finished off his initial thoughts about Yukina, “I made some sort of deal with Yukina, and that’s why I was saying it all the time. We made this deal around the time Kurama and Yusuke went to the Makai for the first time. I can’t remember the ‘why,’ fully, or I could if I pushed a little more... but you’re all worried about a little headache-”

“Kazuma, don’t push your luck!” Kurama scolded, green eyes alight with concern. “Just... drop it. It... it doesn’t matter that none of us knew about your feelings, what matters now is just... taking you home, and hoping that by tomorrow afternoon you remember everything.”

“He’ll remember!” Yusuke insisted, looking at Kuwabara, and then looking at Hiei, “Kuwabara’s the strongest psychic around or whatever! That’s gotta count for something! He’ll remember!”

“I mean does it matter?” Kuwabara asked with a shrug. He pointed at Hiei, “This little guy clearly doesn’t like me, in the romantic sense or any other. If I don’t get my memories back then... whatever right? We’ll just start fresh, get to know each other now.”

The room went into an uproar all at once.

“How could... you are all friends!” Botan sniffled, eyes watery.

“Kuwabara...” Yusuke tried to speak, his brown eyes full of concerns he didn’t quite know how to express.

“Kazuma... please don’t say that. I know the tapes made it seem like you and Hiei had a... strange relationship...”

“But you two are really friends! It’s just-” Koenma’s babbling was cut off by the sound of a loud crack.

Hiei had punched one of the ostentatious decorative pillars in Koenma’s office, into dust. His eyes were glowing red, and his teeth gnashing as he took on an ashen shade. Kuwabara clamped his mouth shut, and his head retreated into his shoulders.

That little guy seemed pretty tough... it sent an excited little thrill through Kuwabara’s body.

“Out,” Hiei spit.

“Hi-” Kurama tried to talk, one hand reaching out for his friend.

“Everyone but Kuwabara-OUT!” Hiei snarled stomping towards the group that sputtered at him.

A strange look passed through Kurama’s eyes, but he was soon ushering everyone out, Yusuke and Botan protesting loudly, and with different reasons.

“I don’t think leaving them alone is a good idea!”

“Hiei! If you hurt Kuwabara you’re dead!”

Koenma didn’t argue. He didn’t even care that he was being chased from his own office, or if Hiei partially destroyed it! Without looking back he fled the room, Kurama pushing Botan and Yusuke after him. Kurama spared the anxious Kuwabara a soft look, “Kuwabara, you’ll be fine. Hiei’s not going to kill you.”

And then Kuwabara was alone with the angry little demon-man, that Kuwabara very much thought would kill him.

Kuwabara took a step back.

“Does it matter to remember me?” Hiei repeated bitterly after a long stretch of silence. He turned to glare at Kuwabara, the latter startled to see guilt underneath the layers of rage in those red eyes. Hiei stalked towards Kuwabara, Kuwabara walking back until he was pressed against a wall.

“It matters. It fucking matters, because you need to remember me. You need to remember so you can recall all those countless times I saved your pathetic life,” Hiei snarled, “All those hours wasted, teaching you to use a sword with some skill, rather than waving it around like a fucking flyswatter! You need to remember so you can tell me what deal you made ith Yukina, and so you can FUCKING tell me...”

Hiei pursed his lips tight, eyes narrowed as he stared at Kuwabara’s frightened face.

“You... you need to tell me why you loved me. I... I don’t believe you,” Hiei grumbled, his lie obvious. There was a different reason he wanted to know, but Kuwabara didn’t dare ask for it.

“I mean... I don’t believe, can’t believe I loved you either!” Kuwabara muttered, trying to force some bravery in his shaking words. Crossing his arms, and sliding along the wall away from the raging demon, Kuwabara continued, “From the twenty minutes of footage I saw, you seem pretty aggressive towards me all the time. And if you’re not aggressive, you looked hell bent on ignoring me.”

“How dare you accuse... you think you would understand our relationship? One that you don’t remember!?” Hiei snapped, cheeks mottled red.

“What are you mad about!?” Kuwabara wheezed desperately confused, “Are you mad that I don’t remember you, or that I’m supposedly in love with you? Because, I dunno, you seem the type to be mad about the second-”

“The type? The type?” Hiei snarled stalking towards Kuwabara, who yelped and fled to the other side of the room.

Hiei was now half chasing Kuwabara as he walked in a large circle around Koenma’s office, desperate to keep some distance between himself and Hiei.

“What do you mean, Kuwabara?” Hiei growled throwing Koenma’s office chair aside. It shattered against the wall as if it was made out of brittle match sticks.

“Look! You just... you’ve clearly got some anger issues-” Kuwabara tried, backing quickly away from the exploding man.

“ANGER ISSUES?!”

“Some anger issues! And you don’t look like you’d like a big guy like myself being interested in you-”

“Who are  you to decide what I might like?!”

“Well, it’s clearly not me!”

Kuwabara didn’t even have time to scream. 

Hiei, who had been at least four feet away, disappeared in less than half a blink of an eye, and reappeared, his hands on Kuwabara’s shirt, and weight pushing him down. Kuwabara slammed hard against the wall, sliding down to the floor as Hiei’s weight forced him down-something that impressed Kuwabara, as well as terrified him.

It was amazing to see such a little guy with such amazing force and strength.

That excited little thrill was back.

“You don’t remember anything,” Hiei muttered darkly, his voice filled with anger, longing, and bitterness. All somber feelings that surprised Kuwabara with their intensity. Hiei’s hand hooked around Kuwabara’s jaw, and he shifted Kuwabara’s face, tilting him at an odd angle.

‘He’s not going to-’ Kuwabara didn’t have time to complete the thought as Hiei kissed him, hard and desperate-and far too intimate and intrusive for it to be a first kiss.

Hiei knew Kuwabara’s mouth. 

He knew where to slant his lips against Kuwabara’s mouth, knew to bite the bottom of his lip, and then swipe a tongue over the top lip. Kuwabara’s body responded a fact that shocked the man, even as he moaned. Hiei invaded Kuwabara’s mouth immediately, his tongue abnormally warm, and seeking. He stroked the inside of Kuwabara’s mouth with demanding passion, pressing and tilting himself against Kuwabara so that he could suck against Kuwabara’s mouth as if he could draw water from him.

Hiei drank greedily from Kuwabara, until, Kuwabara was pushing at Hiei, eyes watering from the air he needed. Hiei pulled away, Kuwabara gasping for a painful breath, his hands gripped knuckle white against Hiei’s shoulders. 

Kuwabara took in several gasping breaths, fingers flexing nervously against Hiei. He stared down at Hiei’s waist, suddenly too scared to look him in the eyes.

That had been good.

Really, really, really fucking good.

Hiei was breathing hard, and after another few seconds of silence swore under his breath. He seemed disappointed in something that did or didn’t happen. Hiei reached into his cloak and pulled out a small silver object, which he revealed in the flat of his hand to Kuwabara.

Kuwabara looked up, Hiei waiting for his gaze.

“That’s... that’s the key to my apartment,” Kuwabara muttered. His lips felt pleasantly heavy, and he resisted the urge to swipe his tongue over them. He was scared what type of reaction that would cause if he did that now.

“...It’s my copy...” Hiei amended softly, the heat in his voice gone, and left hollow with longing and sadness.

“...Your copy...?” Kuwabara muttered blinking rapidly.

Kuwabara looked back to the door his friends had fled from, and then back to the little demon straddling him. He looked back at the key, and then back into Hiei’s sullen expression.

“Were... Were we in a secret relationship!?” Kuwabara choked, suddenly realizing that this missing memory thing might be a little more complicated than he first thought.

Hiei looked at Kuwabara, answering with his eyes, rather than his words.

“What the heck is going on here!?” Kuwabara fumed.

Chapter Text

Hiei flinched as Kuwabara fussed over his injured leg. 

Kuwabara did this a lot-fuss over his friends’ injuries. It had been Yusuke first, and then Kurama. Hiei hadn’t expected that he’d be swept up in that care as time passed, but here he was. Hiei couldn’t recall anyone showing him such tenderness after a battle. Wounds were dressed, but they weren’t gentle about it, not like Kuwabara, who even in a hurry, radiated with concern with he looked after a wound.

Being worried over and cared for was strange, and stranger yet was the person caring for him now, was being so sincere about it.

Kuwabara was a marvel, an oddity, but a marvel.

The first time Kuwabara had expressed concern for Hiei, he had privately turned to Kurama and asked if Kuwabara was flirting.

“You don’t tend to someone’s wounds like this, if it’s not flirting!” Hiei had pointed out, in a bit of a panic. At this point, he had only known Kuwabara for a few short months, and this human was already trying to care for him?

How fast did humans court?

Kurama had laughed and explained that humans didn’t flirt by tending to each other’s wounds. They cared for each other out of sympathy, and genuine concern. Humans were fragile. Care like this, was not seen as a form of flirting, like demons sometimes did. Tending to wounds was a good sign to give someone a clue that you were interested if you were a demon. 

It took Hiei some time to believe Kuwabara wasn’t flirting but…

Still… Hiei was always a little nervous any time Kuwabara dressed one of his injuries. It was just… so intimate, and kind of nice. To have someone lay a hand on him to heal him, and those hands radiate with genuine care… did Kuwabara understand what kind of gift that was?

Did he not understand how jealous that made Hiei to see him give that care so freely to others?

“I can close it up I think, yeah… yeah, I’ve got enough spiritual power for that,” Kuwabara muttered to himself, one hand braced on Hiei’s knee, while the other hovered over the injury.

“Don’t exhaust yourself over a silly cut,” Hiei muttered, eyes glued to Kuwabara’s hand on his knee. Kuwabara’s hand shited a little higher, and Hiei bit his lip.

By now, Kuwabara had been healing him for years, and it always sent an excited little thrill in Hiei’s heart. It was so… demented. Stupid. Annoying. And yet… here he was, heart picking up a pace that was too fast for a demon, and that a human wouldn’t detect, but Hiei knew what it meant.

Kurama would laugh if he could hear Hiei’s inner turmoil now.

“I always worry,” Kuwabara hummed, his hands glowing as he began to coax his energy over Hiei’s injury, speeding up Hiei’s already fast healing process.

“You telling me to stop worrying now, is a lost cause,” Kuwabara continued, eyes fixed on Hiei’s leg, and not on Hiei’s gaze, which stared over the contours of his face. 

There was a smear of blood on Kuwabara’s cheek, that had dripped down to Kuwabara’s chin, but had not quite dropped off. Hiei was sure it was Kuwabara’s own blood, flicked on him from some injury that Kuwabara had already taken care of-or hidden so no one would worry.

Kuwabara did things like that. Worried over others injuries, and setting his aside to deal with later. It was infuriating. He was the human here, he needed to take care of himself better. He was the fragile one–not Hiei.

Hiei finally glanced at his leg. It was almost done, there wasn’t even pain anymore.

“Are you going to take care of me for the rest of my life? It was hardly a scratch!” Hiei grumbled.

“As long as you’re injured, I’ll patch it up!” Kuwabara declared proudly, smiling as he kept his head down. “I like looking after you.”

Kuwabara’s ears were red.

Hiei had enough.

Hiei took Kuwabara’s chin, and leaned forward, licking the smear of blood off of Kuwabara’s face.

Kuwabara’s energy practically snuffed out, and he turned sharply to look at Hiei, his eyes wide, and mouth open in shock, his hands still frozen over Hiei’s almost completely fixed leg.

“What… what was…?” Kuwabara sputtered, face flushed, and his racing heart beating loud enough for Hiei to hear.

Hiei smirked.

If Kuwabara wasn’t going to flirt, Hiei supposed he had better start.

Chapter Text

Kurama had burned the lasagna.

Why, oh why, had he tried to make something as ambitious as homemade lasagna? With fresh pasta, a stewed tomato sauce, and homemade ricotta, this was all a little too much for Kurama. He knew that when he selected the recipe, so why, why. WHY did he make it?

“This is a disaster,” Kurama muttered looking down at the burnt multilayered stack in front of him. 

He could never sever this to her.

“Ah, I see it got a little crispy,” A rough and feminine voice called out to him.

Kurama flinched at the sound and stiffly turned to face his date.

Shizuru, leaned against the door frame of his kitchen, sporting a red jumpsuit that hugged her hips, and flared out at her ankles. Her hair had been put up high on the top of her head, the ends of her hair softly curled. A dark wine colored lipstick had been adhered to her lips, making her look beautiful and threatening.

A combination Kurama liked very much.

“I... make have overestimated my abilities,” Kurama admitted a little weakly, smiling bashfully at the older woman.

She sauntered over, and plucked a fork from a waiting plate, and took a corner of the burned meal. She blew on the morsel for a moment, and then popped it in her mouth. She chewed considerably, and then smiled, “Not the worst I’ve ever had... it’s still very much edible Kurama.”

“But not very good?” Kurama sighed a little sadly, but still smiling. He liked that Shizuru would be honest with him, and not try to sugar coat it. Kurama didn’t want anyone sucking up to him, especially not someone he wanted to take as his lover.

Shizuru was always so refreshingly different from other girls he had pursued.

She shrugged again, took another small bite, and admitted, “No... not very good. But again edible...”

Shizuru licked her lips, and leaned forward kissing Kurama full on the mouth. Kurama stiffened, and had no time to respond to her short but fierce kiss, before she was already pulling away.

“Smother that thing in cheese, and it’ll be just fine. Don’t worry Kurama, there’s still a very high chance of you getting laid tonight,” Shizuru chuckled, her eyes flickering flirtatiously. She turned on her heel, her hair teasingly brushing against Kurama’s nose.

He caught the scent of roses in her hair.

“I’ll be waiting...” Shizur tossed over her shoulder, waving to him as she left his kitchen, for the dining room which Kurama had set up with romantic lighting and vases full of roses. Shizuru had seemed amused and not surprised by the effort Kurama had put out, which Kurama wanted to rectify.

He really wanted to surprise this woman. 

Kurama couldn’t be the only one floored by his romantic partner. 

Licking his lips and savoring the taste of his date, Kurama hurried as he went about plating the burnt food. Taking her advice he grated almost half a block of cheese on top of the two dishes, before he picked them up.

Taking a deep breath, and hoping his chances of getting laid would continue to improve, he happily followed after the woman, he maybe didn’t need to try too hard to impress.

Chapter Text

Hiei was no longer straddling Kuwabara’s waist, but sat next to him, his nearest leg stretched out; the toe of his boot against Kuwabara’s calf.

Kuwabara was staring where Hiei’s boot touched him, his body desperate to be closer, his calf warm from where Hiei had his shoe.

Kuwabara was getting fucking warm and fuzzy feelings, from a dirty boot against his leg. What the hell?

Kuwabara couldn’t fathom why he ever would have a secret relationship--with anyone--let alone with this person, who had only kissed him, and Kuwabara’s body was reacting so strongly. Why was he dating in secret?

He was Kazuma Fucking Kuwabara, and he shouted about love from the top of the rooftops. Why would he hide his relationship with Hiei? What the hell kind of memories had he lost? Had he been afraid? That thought felt so strange to him. What had the Kuwabara, the one he used to be, just yesterday, the one with all the memories... what had that Kuwabara been doing?

Kuwabara glanced at the door Kurama, Botan, Koenma, and Yusuke had fled from. They all seemed surprised about Kuwabara’s feelings for Hiei. Why would he keep his friends in the dark? No matter how he turned this over in his head, he couldn’t understand why he would keep this a secret.

“Why... why?” Kuwabara muttered, sensing Hiei’s eyes slide over to him.

“Why were we a secret?”

Hiei withdrew his leg from Kuwabara, and the human’s heart ached at the loss of contact from the shorter demon. It was infuriating to feel his body respond now that he’d been touched, and touched so little. A kiss shouldn’t have had him as undone as he was now, but he was a wreck. His body wanted to be close to Hiei, even if the rest of Kuwabara couldn’t understand it. He flexed his fingers, suppressing the urge to reach out and wrap them around Hiei’s body.

He couldn’t do that. Hiei was a stranger. Kuwabara didn’t know him.

Kuwabara turned physically towards Hiei, the shorter demon’s body language closed off. His eyes met Kuwabara’s questioning gaze, and Hiei sighed a little.

“I don’t know... all the reasons,” Hiei admitted.

“But you know some?” Kuwabara asked, desperate for answers. Any answers.

“...Koenma seemed concerned that remembering might hurt you,” Hiei said, tone growing hard, “Your memories should come back in twenty-four hours.”

“They might not,” Kuwabara blurted before he could stop himself. 

Hiei flinched, his eyes shifting in a way Kuwabara might have understood if he had his memories. There were layers to the emotions swirling in Hiei’s eyes, but the only ones Kuwabara understood right now, was the raw pain and fear shining the hardest.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Kuwabara rambled, guilt pressing in on him, “I'm sorry I don’t remember you, I’m sorry... just... please tell me something? If... If I get a headache we’ll stop and I’ll wait-but I need to know something now! Please! I just... I don’t understand! Why would I keep this a secret?”

Hiei sighed, seeming to consider.

Kuwabara’s panic was building, “I can’t believe I’m so awful I would keep this a secret! Why would I do this to you?”

“It did not start out as your idea,” Hiei snorted bitterly, “You are not the cruel type Kuwabara...” Hiei pursed his lips, and trailed his eyes over Kuwabara’s face, and down his body as if he was looking for something. 

The gaze made Kuwabara uncomfortable, but he bore it patiently, hoping Hiei would find whatever he was looking for.

“I approached you first. I caught you gazing at me... appraising me in a way that few have done, or even dared,” Hiei spoke in a low clipped turn. He was not comfortable talking about this. “You wanted me, and you looked. It was intriguing to find I had your gaze, even with all the arguments we got into. So, one night, I cornered you and pushed you against a wall and kissed you until you were as flushed as you were just a moment ago.”

Kuwabara felt a blush crawl up his neck. After a pause of nervous quiet, he muttered, “I... uh... how did I take that?”

Hiei laughed, amused but fond, “You liked it at first, and kissed me back. You weren’t good. I doubt I was your first, but you weren’t used to my hunger. I hadn’t had a lover in some time. I was ripping your shirt off, when the reality of it caught up to you, and you pushed me off and practically ran away. You avoided me for a few days and I had to ask Kurama what I did wrong.”

Kuwabara’s blush spread into his face. ‘Oh, so Kurama knows?’ Kuwabara quietly speculated. Maybe Kurama didn’t know how far Hiei and Kuwabara had gone, but he must have suspected something. So someone at least was suspicious.

“He said I was... that I came on too strong. And that humans don’t just... or that you weren’t the type to just give in to carnal desire,” Hiei explained. He seemed unsure how to phrase what he wanted to say, but was not bashful about what he was speaking about.

Kuwabara swallowed hard and asked, “You... You liked me? Just like that? Just because I was looking?”

Hiei frowned, uncomfortable again. He looked at his hands, “I was bored at first, and was looking to blow off some pent up frustration. It was not about liking, it was about sex. You were--are attractive. That was enough.”

Kuwabara’s throat got tight, he wasn’t sure he liked where this was going. 

“Kurama also quickly explained that it was best I ask you what you were looking for, and not assume you thought the same way I did,” Hiei pressed on, avoiding Kuwabara’s eye. “I... am not used to affection... desire that goes beyond needing a physical release. But I could be honest, and so I approached you, and made it clear I just wanted sex.”

“I couldn’t have agreed to that,” Kuwabara muttered, “There’s no way that’s something I would just... do right?” But he didn’t know what the Kuwabara he was before today would have wanted. Had the Kuwabara he been hours ago, been fine with giving in to just sheer attraction? Sex without meaning? If Kuwabara really thought about it, that was a fantasy to have about a stranger, but now with a friend and teammate. 

You don’t just have casual sex with someone you save the world with right? Did you? Did he? Kuwabara was going to have an existential crisis.

Hiei disappointed Kuwabara with his answer, “You said you were fine with it. And we had sex. Many times. No strings attached... or so it seemed.” Hiei lifted his eyes to Kuwabara, grimacing at whatever he saw on Kuwabara’s face.

Kuwabara was sure it was dread. It was hard to hear that he had done things, he now couldn’t imagine doing. Kuwabara hadn’t thought he was that type of person. He hadn’t thought he was someone who would fool around. It didn’t sit right with him.

“You were crafty...” Hiei said eyes growing distant as he focused on a memory, “You did something no lover had ever done.”

“What?” Kuwabara asked before he could stop himself.

“Treated me with kindness,” Hiei said, and he smiled. Small, frail, and soft. A smile that Kuwabara felt must be rare for it seemed so precious. 

Kuwabara’s heart picked up.

“You... drew me in, with kind words and gentle touches. Little things I had never experienced... and you... caught me,” Hiei held up a fist, and flexed out his fingers as if releasing something, “You caught me without me even knowing I was being hunted.”

Hiei looked Kuwabara in the eye, and Kuwabara saw pride there. Hiei was proud of Kuwabara. Kuwabara swallowed hard.

“I was the reason you never spoke about... us. But I would not call it an us. Not for a long time. And you... you continued to appraise me, and give and take love. And when you thought I slept you said how you loved me,” Hiei laughed bitterly, “You said it so often, and how cruel that is. I treated you callously for so long, and when I caught on to my own affections, I didn’t know how to treat you. And there you were, whispering you loved me for months in the dead of night, back when I didn’t understand it. It became awful to endure the weight of your love and remain silent. And you did that... made me love you.”

Hiei’s eyes had become reverent, and that gaze focused on Kuwabara with intensity.

Kuwabara’s mouth went dry. How had he made this man feel this way? He didn’t understand.

Hiei’s expression darkened to a look of self-loathing, “How appropriate that you have never told me how you felt when I was awake. And now... now you don’t recall at all. And you don’t think it’s worth remembering!”

Kuwabara reached out and touched Hiei’s wrist, gently hooking his fingers around the small but strong arm, “W-wait. Wait. I’m sorry for what I said earlier. You were right, I didn’t understand your feelings or remember them. I... I judged too soon. It sounds like we started out as um... as something I wouldn’t expect. But it’s different now, right? I mean... you’re... you’re upset. I mean... you have a key to my place! I wouldn’t give that to you unless... you know. There was... something?”

Hiei looked at the hand that clung to him, “I said I loved you.”

Kuwabara felt all the air leave his lungs.

Hiei’s eyes flickered to Kuwabara’s eyes, “When you were awake, I told you I loved you. Because that must be what it is, what I feel for you. Why you can’t leave my thoughts even with distance and effort.”

Hiei sighed, “You wouldn’t say it back. Never to my face, nerve when I was... awake.”

Kuwabara squinted at Hiei, confused, “But... but why would I-”

“I don’t know,” Hiei muttered bitterly. His mouth twisted into a snarl, before twitching back into a frown. Hiei sighed, and let out a slow breath, his body sagging, “I do not know how to win the affections of a human as gentle as you are. Perhaps I was too cruel to you, and you will never have me.”

“Then why hang around me!?” Kuwabara snapped. “If I’m just stringing you alone now, regardless of how we started, then... then fuck me! I sound like a real fucking asshole!” Kuwabara’s cheeks were burning red from shame and anger now, Hiei looking at him with brows raised. 

Kuwabara withdrew his hand, and ranted, “I mean... I’m saying I love you all the time when you’re lying next to me-what post-coitus? And then you ask me about it, and I won’t say it back? What am I doing, torturing you?!” Kuwabara threw up his hands, “What the hell have I been doing?”

Kuwabara looked at the door his friends had exited, “What are we doing? Why are we hiding?”

“I asked to say something recently, I asked to be able to declare you as mine,” Hiei said, his gaze still on Kuwabara’s face, “You said no. You said, Yukina wouldn’t like it. I don’t think you meant to say that aloud to me.”

Hiei made a face, and through gritted teeth explained, “That was a week ago. We’ve been fighting since.”

“Again Yukina...” Kuwabara muttered. Slapping his hands on his knees, he forced himself to get up, “Okay, well fuck this, seems like we need to go get Yukina.”

Hiei stared at Kuwabara with a strange expression.

“Look, you need answers. And I can’t remember shit, so I can’t give them to you. But I made some promise with Yukina, and we had a fight about her. I said she wouldn’t like it... like what? Like me being in love with you? God...” Kuwabara put his hands on his hips, his stomach twisting uncomfortably, “God, I’m not cheating on you am I?”

Hiei laughed. Actually laughed. His head was thrown back, and a disbelieving smile curled on his face as he laughed hard and loud. Kuwabara stared at him with shocked confusion. Memories or not, laughter seemed strange coming from Hiei.

“No... no, you did not cheat on me. Believe me, I would know,” Hiei said after he had calmed. He looked up at Kuwabara and after a moment asked, “You’re serious. You want to go see Yukina right now?”

“Look I may never be able to give you answers for what I did when we were... whatever we were,” Kuwabara muttered, a flush spreading over his cheeks, “but as weird as all this is, it sounds like I was keeping some big secret from you, and if I loved you that’s shitty!”

“I was using you,” Hiei snapped.

Kuwabara waved at him, “And I let you, so I must have been okay with it! Sounds more like we used each other. But you’ve got that key, and you’re so...” Kuwabara waved a hand at Hiei’s general state, “You’re not taking me forgetting all of this well, even I can tell that. It sounds like we had a strange start, but we’re happy now, right?”

Kuwabara looked at Hiei expectantly. 

Hiei’s expression softened, “I thought so.”

“But I wouldn’t tell anyone. And who cares who started keeping it secret first-point is, you gave me a chance to tell our friends and I didn’t take it. Sounds to me like I’m a huge asshole, and I’d really like to talk to Yukina to see if she knows what the hell was going on with me!” Kuwabara threw up his hands.

Sighing in an exhausted huff, Kuwabara muttered again, “I can’t give you answers, and there’s no guarantee I ever will. So let’s go find Yukina... I want to know. You deserve to know.”

“I doubt that,” Hiei answered sincerely, but he got to his feet.

He looked at Kuwabara, a million emotions passing through his eyes as he stared at the taller man. Kuwabara looked back and tried to see how he felt about this person now. Regardless of whatever the other Kuwabara remembered or felt, what did he feel now?

Hiei was short, with eyes like garnets, and black hair. Everything about him was dark. Dark clothes, dark expression, dark feelings. But he looked at Kuwabara with eyes filled with something, that was too big for Kuwabara to understand. Something that was a mixture of dark and light. Hiei looked at Kuwabara like he was an answer.

What was the question?

Did just the day before, had Kuwabara known it? Was Hiei and answer for Kuwabara? 

Kuwabara couldn’t say what type of man he was when he had his memories, and he hated to think he was someone who would bottle up his feelings and lead someone on, or punish them for something they did or didn’t do.

Kuwabara wouldn’t, he hoped, do that if he loved someone, not without a reason. And if his missing memories were the only proof he had of some sort of deep secret love he had for this man, then Kuwabara planned to follow the trail where his missing memories were taking him.

And that was to Yukina.

Kuwabara held out a hand for Hiei, and quirked an eyebrow up at Hiei, “Sneak us out of here?”

Hiei stared at him, expression blank and distant. He smirked and took Kuwabara’s hand, “You still manage to surprise me,”

By the time Kurama and the others decided to check in on Koenma’s office, Kuwabara and Hiei were long gone.

 

Chapter Text

"It's not going to work," Chu chuckled, watching as Rinku perused a flower shop.

Rinku did not answer Chu, but seemed to be considering the pink peonies.

"She's known ye since ye were a squirt, she'll not be interested!" Jin agreed, elbowing Chu with a cheeky grin.

Rinku frowned at that, and turned from the peonies to look at some chrysanthemums, their delicate petals reaching outward, as if still growing despite being cut. Rinku had grown a lot in the years that had gone by. He was not a little boy anymore, but still not quite a man by demon standards. Old enough, he would argue, to give a girl he liked flowers and ask her out. Even if she was much older than him.

"Flowers might be too big a gesture," Toya pointed out, the only one offering any help to Rinku.

"She deserves flowers, and she likes flowers," Rinku said, turning to read the label of a grouping of flowers, that he initially thought were roses.

"She's gonna laugh kiddo, don't waste your time!" Chu snorted.

Rinku read the label to himself aloud, "Ranunculus... what a name!" He glanced at the rounded bloom, the petals swooping in many layered folds to form a soft, circular shape. The flower seemed to come in many shades, but he was looking at the pale pink ones with the slightly green and yellow centers. It really did look a little like a rose that somehow had refused to fully allow itself to spread its petal out. Oddly geometric and strange for a flower, but still beautiful. Its stem was straight despite the heft of its flower, and Rinku liked that.

He gathered up a large bundle, and then casually admitted, "She may laugh. She laughs a lot."

"Yer looking for som' heartache!" Jin scoffed, shaking his head vigorously.

"They're a lovely shade," Toya said, plucking out a few white ones and extending them to Rinku, "Add these for resting spots. It'll make the bouquet more lovely."

Rinku smiled, gladly accepting the offered flowers, and made his purchase, a smile stretching on his face as the flowers were wrapped up.

"This is a bad idea!" Chu sighed, no longer sounding mocking, but concerned.

Rinku ignored him, as well as Jin, as he marched his flowers towards their destination.

Toya followed along quietly, and then held the others back once Rinku approached the shrine Yusuke had told him about. The shrine was Yusuke's, and he had informed Rinku, Botan would be checking in on him and Keiko at the time.

He was giving Rinku the perfect opportunity.

Rinku knocked on the door, and Yusuke opened it, flashing a grin at the guest he'd been expecting.

"I'll get her," Yusuke's eyes flicked to Chu, Jin, and Toya standing towards the back, and Yusuke shook his head at them. He pointed a warning finger at them, before retreating back into his home.

When Yusuke disappeared, Jin called, "there's still time to run!"

Chu grunted in agreement.

Yusuke reappeared, dragging Botan, who looked put out to have been pulled away from wherever she had been, most likely the kitchen table where she would be laughing with Keiko.

Like Yusuke, Botan hadn't aged a day, and still looked like a young woman, the one Rinku had been smitten with for many, many years. Yusuke ducked out, and Botan looked at Rinku, confused at the sight of the young demon before her. While he was no longer a child, he was far younger than her, who was a spirit that had been alive a long, long time. 

Rinku held out the flowers, swallowed audibly, and said, "B-Botan. I think... I think you're very pretty, and funny, and... and wonderful. Could I take you out to dinner?"

Chu slapped a hand over his face, Jin smothered a laugh into his hand, and Toya smiled proudly at RInku's boldness.

Rinku swallowed, the bouquet trembling in his hands, "I don't expect anything, I just... I just wanted you to know... and well.. to check?"

Botan looked at the flowers, and then to Rinku. A smile spread across her face, and then she giggled, accepting the flowers gently. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, and then softly touched the soft petals of the Ranunculus flowers.

"Why Rinku... this is very sweet. I would love to go to dinner with you... and see where this goes?" She said, eyes twinkling at him.

Chu's and Jin's jaws dropped.

Toya nodded with pride.

Rinku flushed and laughed nervously as Botan took his arm, the Ferrier of souls, smiling so sweetly at the young man for his boldness. 

 

END

Chapter Text

He never would have guessed that Hiei was a tequila kind of man.

But Hiei was three bottles down, and half-way through the fourth, now sporting a slightly loose smile. Kuwabara was stunned.

Kurama had smothered Kuwabara’s fears earlier on, by assuring him that human alcohol didn’t do too much for demons, so he shouldn’t worry about the amount Hiei was drinking. And yes, Kuwabara was still worrying a little, but he was more impressed by the little relaxed smile curled on Hiei’s face.

He couldn’t help but be amazed by such a small little change this frail wisp of a smile made on Hiei. It was… beautiful. 

“Are you going to finish that?” Hiei asked, pointing at Kuwabara’s untouched shot of Tequila, interrupting Kuwabara’s chain of thoughts. 

Kuwabara blinked, and looked down at the drink still in his hand, and then to the now fourth empty bottle of drained Tequila. Kuwabara shook his head numbly and offered it to Hiei. Hiei accepted it, but with a slight frown.

“Weren’t you looking forward to this?” Hiei asked, slurring just a little.

“What?” Kuwabara returned, eyes dancing over Hiei’s pink stained cheeks.

“You wanted to drink with “the guys.” You were excited about it!” Hiei grumbled.

Kuwabara was too shocked by the actual air-quotes Hiei had mimed with his fingers, to answer.

Hiei rolled his eyes in disgust, and tilted the shot into his mouth. Then, Hiei reached out, placing his hands on the sides of Kuwabara’s face. With a sharp, and slightly painful tug, he had Kuwabara pulled low, and his head twisted at a strange angle. Hiei pressed their lips together, sharing the shot he had just drained, with Kuwabara.

Kuwabara stiffened with shock.

Hiei’s tongue invaded Kuwabara’s mouth, his tongue stroking the length of Kuwabara’s, encouraging the man to open up more. Kuwabara did, his skin goose-bumping as one of Hiei’s hands slid to his throat, his thumb stroking at Kuwabara’s rapidly beating pulse. With expert skill, Hiei kissed Kuwabara, forcing the drink down Kuwabara’s throat, until at last, the stunned human swallowed.

Hiei pulled back making a pleased smacking sound with his lips, “There. Now you drank with us.”

Kuwabara could hear Yusuke howling with laughter, and then Kurama’s concerned titter of, “Okay Hiei, maybe that’s enough for now.” Kuwabara felt he should be embarrassed, maybe even angry.

Instead, he wondered how much Tequila he could afford to keep stocked up at his house, and if getting Hiei to drink it again was even an option.

Chapter Text

Shizuru had poured all her love, ambition, and faith into the man she wanted her brother to be... she wondered if it mattered now. 

It was a lot of work being a big sister in any normal situation. She assumed, it was even more work, when your parents were constantly imploding and exploding with one another. Even harder, when they were both just gone one day. One dead, and the other a dead-beat.

At Seventeen, she had not expected to be the sole provider and caregiver to her fourteen-year-old brother. 

But on that day, when it was just them for real, and not just how it always felt, Shizuru looked at her brother and swore, that Kazuma was going to be different. He was going to be kind, and good, and love with his whole heart, and not be who their parents were. He would not be as jaded and as empty as she felt.

He would be more, and most importantly, safe and happy.

She would pour everything into him, give him everything she could. It was going to be a lot of work, but it would all be worth it.

None of her efforts mattered if he died. 

And that’s what she was watching right now, right? Her little brother’s death. Toguro’s hand slid into her brother’s chest like butter, and he pulled his hand out, ripping out his heart, but taking Shizuru’s soul with it.

As she screamed for Kazuma, she wondered if she’d built him up, only so he could choose how to die, and how to break her heart.

Chapter Text

She didn’t mean to cause an actual blizzard.

It was the first time she had been so angry, and the result of that anger had been a storm. The Koorimes had warned her, ever since she was small, that her head and heart needed to be like ice. Clear, cold… and transparent. They wanted to read and understand her emotions, as they did with one another.

It was their way of controlling her.

She hadn’t been warned what her power could do when angered.

So upon learning the reason behind her mother’s death, and the loss of a brother she had never known about, a storm burst forth from Yukina.

The storm raged and howled, and she was glad for the ferocity pooling out of her in the form of whipping winds and biting ice.

Yukina left that day, leaving the blizzard behind her. They could remain lost in it.

She would leave it, and find something new, different, and better. 

Chapter Text

“That’s your adivce?!” Yusuke sputtered, throwing himself dramatically down on the living room couch.

“That is my mother’s couch, don’t jump on it,” Kurama warned from his favorite chair, a book in hand. He licked his thumb, and idly turned a page, “But yes, that’s my advice.”

Yusuke glared at Kurama, his face set in a sulk.

“Quit pouting,” Kurama said once he’d completed his chapter. He closed the book with a snap, and smiled at his friend, “if you don’t feel like you can tell him, write it down.”

“You want me to write a love letter, and give it to Kuwabara!” Yusuke grumbled, throwing his hands in the air as sunk further into the couch, “That’s worse than just telling him!”

“How?” Kurama asked, tilting is head, “It solves the problem you were worried about, which is looking him in the eye and saying it to his face. And... Kuwabara would like a love letter... he’s a bit of a romantic, or haven’t you noticed?”

Yusuke blushed, and Kurama wondered how much was anger, and how much was embarrassment. 

Kurama leaned forward on his hand, “Just do it. You should say it, I’m almost certain he feels the same. But in the absence of a verbal confession, a handwritten letter will do.”

Yusuke sighed, sinking into his shoulders, looking a little glum. He groaned and made other noncommital sounds, before practically pouting at Kurama, “A must letter is embarrassing!”

Kurama laughed.

“Your sulking isn’t going to have me give you another answer you know. No matter how you do it, I think you should tell him, despite any embarrassment you think it will bring you,” Kurama said, voice light and honest.

“...He’s my best friend. I don’t want to ruin that...” Yusuke muttered, a bit of despair shining in his eyes.

Kurama sighed gently, “People always say that. Why would confessing ruin anything? You’re putting a lot of doubt in your friendship if you think telling him another truth would ruin your relationship. Kuwabara deserves to be thought of better than that.”

Yusuke pursed his lips, but looked somehow more relaxed. He nodded a little bit, seeming to be taking Kurama’s words in true consideration.

There was a knock at the door, and Kurama raised his voice, “Come in!”

Kuwabara opened the door, a smile on his face, and weirdly Hiei stuck under his arm. Hiei didn’t look so well.

“Mukuro stopped by for a visit, and she kicked the snot out of Hiei!” Kuwabara said with a laugh, and marched into Kurama’s home, before gentle depositing Hiei on another available chair.

Hiei looked rather disheveled and was unconscious. 

“Did you heal his wounds?” Kurama asked non-plussed. 

“Yeah, I took care of the open wounds, but there’s some small things I can’t get,” Kuwabara answered. He spotted Yusuke, and drifted over towards him, leaning over the back of the couch to loosely drape his arms over his best friend.

Kuwabara was oblivious to the flush it put on Yusuke’s cheeks.

“Well, I’ve got some salves for the rest. Could you be a dear, and fetch my kit from upstairs?” Kurama asked.

Kuwabara nodded, squeezing Yusuke gently before turning towards the staircase that led to the second floor, “The yellow case right?”

“Correct,” Kurama answered with a smile.

Kuwabara bounded off upstairs, Yusuke staring after Kuwabara’s form wistfully, a gentle look in his eyes.

Hiei cracked an eye open, the red orb fixed on Yusuke’s goofy face. He snorted, “You still haven’t told him? Pussy.”

“Oh, fuck you Hiei! You’re the one playing possum because Murkuo beat you up!” Yusuke snarled, embarrassed immediately.

“No, not embarrassed,” Hiei muttered, “Just didn’t want to talk to Kuwabara. He’s too loud.”

Yusuke snatched Kurama’s book from him, the red-head protesting, and tossed it at Hiei hitting the smaller demon square in the face. Hiei didn’t seem to care that the object hit him, but coughed a little uncomfortably. 

Yusuke settled back in his chair, and thought about Kuwabara’s gentle arms that had been draped over his shoulders. Maybe he would write a love letter. Kuwabara certainly deserved one. 

Chapter Text

Kuwabara pulled himself from the stinking pool with a gasp. He coughed, spitting out a thick liquid as he crawled out of the stinking water.

“Ugh... fuck demon realm!” Kuwabara muttered, eyes closed tight against the ooze that poured over him. 

Kuwabara had just finished the killing blow on a demon, that had been devouring the souls of young children. He and the others had been sent out after the creature, a ‘nightmare-beast,’ a term coined by Koenma. It could fly, was twice Kuwabara’s height, had goat eyes, and when it “spoke,” sounded like the dull hum of a record player getting stuck on a scratch

Nightmare-beast had been a good name.

Kuwabara was glad, to be the one to make the last blow; not so glad that he fell almost 100 feet with it, into this stinking pool of water, after crashing through the tops of several trees.

Still coughing, he scrubbed at his eyes trying to wipe the thick liquid off, so he could properly see. He had opened his eyes once, and he had only seen red, his eyes stinging from whatever water he had fallen into. Spitting out another mouthful of the substance, he let himself collapse on his side, his hand on his face, idly rubbing the substance away.

He had been still only a moment, but in that time, the sound of someone landing near him, caught Kuwabara’s attention. Even with his eyes closed, his spiritual awareness picked up that it was Hiei.

Kuwabara opened his mouth to greet the shorter warrior, but instead, was swooped up and pressed into a crushing hug. 

Hiei had dug his hands into Kuwabara’s hair, and pressed Kuwabara’s face against his neck, while Hiei’s other arm secured around Kuwabara’s waist. Kuwabara was so shocked he stopped breathing.

What in the world was going on here?

“No, no... no... no!” Hiei was muttering, his voice... frantic. His hand at Kuwabara’s waist was creeping along Kuwbara’s back, fingers looking for... something?

‘He’s checking me for injury,’ Kuwabara suddenly thought, and finally, he spoke, “Hiei! Hiei! Hey, I’m fine! Just covered in-”

Hiei pulled Kuwabara away from him, and his hands smoothed over Kuwabara’s face, clearing away the goo that covered Kuwbara’s face. Kuwabara opened his eyes, and flinched at the strange look on Hiei’s face. He looked... terrified.

He also had a lot of red all over...

“Is that blood!? Where are you bleeding?” Kuwabara burst, wiggling from Hiei’s grasp, and hands flying to Hiei’s body. Hiei’s chest felt firm and whole beneath his hands, but he had to be injured somewhere to account for all this... red!

“M-Me?” Hiei sputtered, his eyes flashing with rage, “You’re the one covered in blood! This is yours!”

“No, it’s not...” Kuwabara stopped speaking, as he noticed his arms. They were red. He looked down, and in fact-all of him was red. He was covered in a thick red goop.

Kuwabara looked behind him, “Oh gross! It’s that strange little pond I fell into when I fell with that demon!” The pool of foul-smelling water, was perhaps not water, but was a red pool of... stuff. Kuwabara hoped, it wasn’t blood...

“It’s an algae,” Kurama’s voice spoke, appearing behind Hiei, a frazzled Yusuke at his side, “It blooms red in humid areas... which is good. It’s not poisonous when it's red.”

“Oh thank God!” Yusuke said, staring hard at Kuwabara, “You look... God I thought the worst! You look like you’re drenched in blood man!”

Kuwabara looked back at himself, to Kurama and Yusuke, and then back to Hiei who was still quietly staring at Kuwabara, a rigid tension in his body. Kuwabara gently reached out, touching a stained part of Hiei’s cloak, “Yeah sorry Hiei... I must look a real wreck-”

“A wreck? A wreck?! You fell a thousand fucking feet from the air, on top of a monstrous beast, into an unknown demonic forest... “ Hiei brushed Kuwabara off, hissing with fear, anger, and embarrassment, “You looked dead! What were you doing just lying there?!”

“I...I didn’t know what I looked like!? I fell in a pool of water, from only like, a hundred feet by the way, and almost drowned! So fuck me, for catching my breath, I guess!” Kuwabara snorted, futilely trying to wipe some red goo from his ears.

Hiei grabbed Kuwabara by the collar and pulled him close, growling in Hiei’s face.

“Hiei... be nice...” Kurama warned, Yusuke stifling his laughter behind his hand.

Hiei pulled Kuwabara closer and pressed his mouth against Kuwabara’s in a firm, and biting kiss. And just before Kuwabara could respond, broke away from the kiss and threw Kuwabara back into the pool, before disappearing from sight.

Kurama sighed, “Oh dear, he’s so dramatic.”

Kuwabara came up for air, screeching and sputtering, “I should have NEVER told you I liked you! I would have kept my big dumb mouth shut, if I had known what HELL I was in store for!”

Yusuke just pointed and laughed, Kuwabara having to once again, drag himself from the stinking pool’s depths.

Demons and dating were rough, especially if you combined the two.

Chapter Text

“How lucky you are… to have a shield that can cut…” Yunai the heart snatcher, whispered, her teeth stained pink with her own blood.

She was smiling at Kuwabara, looking past Hiei to stare at him, her eyes turning to glass as her spirit left her body. Her mouth fell open with a rasping gurgle, and Hiei removed his sword from just beneath her throat. Her body pitched over sideways, collapsing into nothing a small frail bundle.

She was less terrifying now that she was dead.

Kuwabara let out a shaky breath he didn’t know he was holding, his hand pressed over the wound on his chest.

Yunai, the demoness who harvested hearts, had been about to tear his out.

Hiei dropped next to Kuwabara’s side, glaring at the wound Kuwabara concealed with his hand, but did not try to remove it. He looked and looked, as if willing Kuwabara to show him the injury, but not asking.

“T-Thanks Hiei,” Kuwabara wheezed when he finally remembered to breathe.

Hiei said nothing, but continued to glare at Kuwabara’s hand as if he could see through it. The words to demand to see the wound were on his tongue, but what right did Hiei have to ask them?

“Jesus she was fast!” Yusuke laughed anxiously jogging over to join Hiei and Kuwabara. His face was pale, the pale look of a man who had been about to lose something dear, and was already cracking under that strain. His eyes were fixed on Kuwabara’s face, relief slowly bringing his color back.

“Lucky Hiei is faster,” Kurama supplied, smiling primly at Hiei, “You saved Kuwabara’s life.”

Hiei frowned sourly. There was an edge, a knowing lilt to Kurama’s voice. Hiei wished he’d stop hinting about it. Hiei didn’t need reminding of what he wanted, or how he felt.

Yusuke knelt next to Kuwabara’s side, and reached for Kuwabara’s hand, the one that covered Kuwabara’s wound, “Are you alright? Do you need us to wrap it? Do you need Kurama or... or me to do anything?”

Hiei was watching again, his eyes watching Yusuke’s hands now as they patted Kuwabara in comfort, and sought out to look at Kuwabara’s wound. Yusuke could do that so easily. Their relationship had changed from rivalry rather easily to friendship over the years. They had understood each other faster and better than Hiei and Kuwabara did.

A spike of frustration pricked Hiei’s heart.

Kuwabara shifted away from Yusuke’s prying hands and leaned closer to Hiei. Their shoulders touched; Hiei could feel Kuwabara’s warmth through his clothes and feel Kuwabara’s tremble. He had been more than startled by Yunai’s attack, he had been afraid. For comfort he leaned from Yusuke towards Hiei. 

Hiei felt a greedy joy in his heart. That had to mean something... right?

“I’m healing it up now…” Kuwabara answered voice still choked and weak sounding, “It’s fine.” His hands pulsed with energy, and Hiei could feel it. Feel the power like he felt Kuwabara’s shoulder against his. 

It was strong, yet soft. Something, one who had been alone would yearn to embrace. 

His power had grown over the years into something truly remarkable, and with much insistence, he had taken advice from Genkai and learned to heal as well as to wield a sword. It made Kuwabara even more clutch in crucial situations. It also tended to make him more of a target.

Often, ever since Hiei had known Kuwabara, his kindness was mistaken for weakness. But Kuwabara was strong. There was no doubt about that.

And it was Hiei, Kuwabara was leaning towards.

Yusuke kept his arm around Kuwabara’s shoulder, watching Kuwabara’s hand nervously. He, like Hiei was watching Kuwabara’s hand, eyes openly concerned about what was under Kuwabara’s palm. Kuwabara settled into Yusuke’s touch, comfortable and unafraid. He smiled at his best friend, and laughed. A laugh that said not to worry. 

But his shoulder leaned into Hiei’s, seeking Hiei. Hiei pressed back but did not look at Kuwabara. They’d been dodging around each other’s feelings for years now, something that had started when Hiei returned that first time from the Makai. Kuwabara had greeted him with a hug, and Hiei had hugged back.

It was a singularly insignificant moment to most, but for Hiei it meant a lot. Until he held Kuwabara that day, he hadn’t realized how much he had missed them during their separation. He hadn’t realized, how he had wanted to hold Kuwabara in his arms, a desire he had not had for anyone else. Kuwabara had held him for a long time, longer than necessary, and when he pulled back... they looked at each other.

And something had changed.

Years later, neither of them had faced it, neither of them had made a move. Kuwabara was not with Yukina, and he did not gush about her beauty. Hiei was not with Mukuro, though he visited her as her friend, and that was it.

They had changed, and they yearned. Hiei did not know how to reach out, and Kuwabara... well something held him back. Hiei didn’t know what it was, and didn’t ask. They were both cowards.

But as Kuwabara leaned towards Hiei, instead of his best friend... Hiei felt things might change again.

Kurama watched for a moment, eyes darting between Hiei and Kuwabara. As per usual, he knew and understood everything. He glanced around looking for something suitable. A suitable... distraction.

He nodded after a moment, cleared his throat, and said, “Yusuke, let’s check Yunai’s home? She sometimes kept victims alive... and their belongings… we should take a look and make sure it’s safe right? No more dirty tricks?”

Yusuke blinked up at Kurama, glanced at Kuwabara, and then rose, his hand trailing up to rest on top of Kuwabara’s head for just a moment, “Yeah, sure okay! Kuwabara stay right there! Hiei, make sure he doesn’t move will ya?”

Hiei grunted in response and watched Yusuke jog to join Kurama. Kurama met Hiei’s eyes, and had the audacity to wink. Hiei looked away, holding a growl in his throat, and looked back at Kuwabara’s hand. Kuwabara’s hand still concealed a mystery wound, blood staining his shirt all around it. Hiei couldn’t tell if it was getting worse or getting better, and he hated not knowing.

And then he looked at Kuwabara’s face.

Kuwabara was looking at him.

“What?” Hiei asked.

Kuwabara smiled, nervously, “Oh uh... Just thanks again. I… I can barely see you move, but she just disappeared and then… was on me!”

“That is what makes… made Yunai so dangerous. She is fast and can hide her spiritual power until it is hardly a blip. You did manage to step a little to the left, preventing a fatal blow if she had been able to finish her attack… so that was good,” Hiei said moving closer, his arm wrapping around Kuwabara’s back, so the man could lean against him if he needed it. He pressed his palms between Kuwabara’s shoulder blades, lining up his hand so that his palm was aligned with Kuwabara’s hand on his chest.

Kuwabara relaxed at the touch and reclined slightly into Hiei’s strength. There was tension in Kuwabara’s back; a nervous excited energy. Hiei could feel Kuwabara’s rapidly beating pulse.  His heart felt strong.

“Oh you saw me do that? It was instinct… glad I did it though if it helped,” Kuwabara said idly, his hand glowing with the warm power of his healing.

Hiei pulled Kuwavara’s hand away, The holes made by Yunai digging her fingertips half an inch into his chest were still present, but not bleeding. Not anymore. They glowed as Kuwabara healed himself, his energy pulsing in a calm rhythmic nature.

“It was an instinct that saved your life...would have if I hadn’t also reached her,” Hiei said, “So it was a job well done.” Hiei’s eyes moved from the fresh marks to old scars left behind by Toguro. Hiei had not been fast enough then.

When Kuwabara had crumpled, Hiei had launched himself at Toguro a fist aimed at his back. Toguro had been gone before Hiei had finished his swing. Kurama had been the one to pick up Kuwabara's body. Been the one to learn of Kuwabara’s plan to trick Yusuke. Been the one to know Kuwabara wasn’t really dead.

Hiei had been too scared to check. Something Hiei hadn’t felt for a human, until that moment.

That was even more years ago. Even more years since the hug Hiei had received that changed everything. Perhaps the wishing to strike Toguro dead, and being too afraid to look at Kuwabara... perhaps that had been the catalyst for all of this.

Hiei was faster now. 

Now, he would have been able to stop Toguro before he ever even lifted his fist. This time, he had stopped Yunai before she could finish her attack. He was fast enough now.

Hiei put his hand over Kuwabara’s and guided it back over the wound, “Do you need to touch it to heal faster?”

“No,” Kuwabara answered his voice soft. Mistified. “I guess… just instinct again. You know... left from childhood. You cover up the things... the things that hurt you.”

Hiei placed his hand over Kuwabara’s pressing his and Kuwabara’s hand against the wound, “Good instinct.”

Hiei looked up, Kuwabara was still looking at him, his eyes full of all the emotions Hiei could barely scrape the surface of.

“Follow your instinct,” Hiei says.

Kuwabara blushed, and leaned forward, chin tilted down to kiss Hiei. 

He paused, less than a breath away from Hiei’s mouth. Indecision maybe... but Hiei reached forward and finished the last of the journey. There wasn’t very far to travel. 

Kuwabara melted against him, and Hiei burned against Kuwabara, hungry and devouring. Hiei feels something smug curl inside him as he kissed Kuwabara, like that he won something, that he gained Kuwabara, Kuwabara was his.

Which now he was. 

Kuwabara’s other arm comes up and curled around Hiei’s shoulder, and Hiei has to tell himself not to crush Kuwabara against him-he is still recovering. Words will need to be said, humans require words for some stupid reason. Words of assurance and confirmation. But Hiei would say them, whisper them for Kuwabara, and Kuwabara alone. Whatever he needed to hear the keep Kuwabara with him. To have Kuwabara always choosing to lean towards Hiei.

Hiei only breaks off the kiss to kill Yunai who springs up, having not died from the firs initial attack. She had waited liked a coiled snake, to try and attack again, but Hiei had known she’d been playing dead. 

Hiei regrets waiting for her to get back up now, he had been enjoying what he had been doing.

Hiei seethes a little angry that he had to stop his kiss. “A shield that cuts huh?” Hiei mutters, remembering her words.

He turned back to Kuwabara who is wide-eyed, flushed, and gaping, mouth still half formed in the kiss the two had been sharing. He’d been comically surprised by Yunai’s second attempt. Hiei ignores the rest of Yunai, and bends over Kuwabara, tangling his hands in his hair and tipping his human’s head back so that he can kiss him again.

‘I could be a shield that cuts,’ Hiei muses, delighting in the gasp Kuwabara mewls into his mouth.

 

End

Chapter Text

It was a word offered to him, a word stamped on his paperwork.

Fuck, there was paperwork on him.

Hiei could remember sitting before Koenma after Yusuke had brought him down. Koenma had stared at him, and Hiei had looked back. There was a beat of silence and Hiei finally began laughing. 

“A child…is to decide my fate? Oh isn’t this…wonderful!” Hiei laughed harder, leaning back in his chair.

The guards of the room shifted nervously, and waited for Koenma to give orders. But Koenma didn’t seem bothered by Hiei’s outburst. He waited for Hiei’s laughter to soften and when it did, Koenma spoke.

“How about a chance for redemption?”

“Redemption? Don’t make me laugh!” Hiei roared, cutting off his own mirth. His fist slammed on the desk, it shaking with the force of Hiei's strike. He glared a the infant before him, his lips twitching as he bared his teeth in a snarl, “There is no redemption for demons! No justice… no empathy… no forgiveness. A demon does not get a chance at redemption.”

“A demon hasn’t had a chance yet…” Koenma answered quietly. There was an odd look in his eyes, as if he understood exactly what Hiei was saying. Exactly the plight and injustice faced by demons.

Hiei fucking doubted that.

“Work for me…work with Yusuke…” Koenma whispered, “And let’s give every demon a chance to redeem themself. Do this…and give spirit world a chance to atone for their mistakes. Give me time... to change things. ”

The two stared at each other and Hiei was quiet. He had no words to question Koenma’s motives, to question the thoughts Koenma was having. Hiei could only sit back and nod, waiting to see if redemption really existed for people like them.

Chapter Text

Kuwabara was asleep, and under a thin sheet, sleeping nude in his bed. The almost forty year old man, was curled on his stomach, his hand stretched into Hiei’s space, where Hiei had been just a second ago. 

Now, Hiei was sitting up, tugging on his boots and looking back at Kuwabara, bemusedly watching as Kuwabara seemed to be looking for him in his sleep. He had been trying to quiet, but Hiei guessed his lover’s psychic abilities tipped him off as to what was happening.

Sleepily, Kuwabara wiggled his fingers, searching for his lover’s warmth. He stretched, still not quite awake, his hand still grasping for Hiei.

Hiei, feeling indulgent, and begrudgingly smitten, took Kuwabara’s hand. Kuwabara stilled and sighed in his sleep, body relaxing as he, at last, found what he was looking for. He smiled, and cracked open a sleepy eye, bleary eyes landing on Hiei’s face. 

Hiei looked sedated, his expression wistful.

“You’re sulking,” Kuwabara murmured sleepily.

“I am not,” Hiei disagreed immediately.

Kuwabara rubbed his eyes, and again looked at Hiei’s sulking face. He frowned when he remembered what today was. He glanced at the cat-shaped alarm clock on the nightstand, well what tonight was.

“You’re leaving.”

“It’s time for me to depart to the Makai. The tournament,” Hiei answered shortly, his voice soft. He kept his hand in Kuwabara’s leaning, as if he wished he could rejoin his mate in their bed.

Kuwabara shifted so he was resting on his forearms, the sheet sliding down his body to reveal the expanse of his back. Hiei greedily traced the bones of Kuwabara’s spine with his eyes, smirking a little at the scratch marks he’d left In the large man’s shoulders. The dull ache in Hiei’s hips would serve as a good reminder of his lover as he traveled. 

“Oh… damn. Don’t go,” Kuwabara murmured, frowning as he leaned forward, towards Hiei.

Hiei let himself fall back, leaning against his lover, “Come with me.”

Kuwabara sighed, pressing his forehead into Hiei’s neck, “I have to stay… my students. My job. ” For a moment Kuwabara hesitated, really considering. He had been to fight in the Makai tournament before, many times before... but this year he was responsible for training six young people, on behalf of Koenma, and for their own betterment. They were very powerful, and in need of guidance, and that was Kuwabara.

He could not leave them.

“I have to go… at least to compete. I’ll be back soon, as soon as Mukuro wins or fails,” Hiei said. Kuwabara was the love of his life, but Murkuro who asked him to attend... she was the other half of himself. He could not say no; did not want to say no.

 They were having an old argument… one with no heat and with the same answer. Hiei had to leave. Kuwabara had to stay.

“Liar...” Kuwabara sighed, “You’ll be gone at least a year. You’ll be busy,” Kuwabara said softly. Hiei was practically her right-hand man, and this time of year Mukuro needed Hiei’s help. Kuwabara did not resent her for that.

“I’ll visit,” Hiei said softly, eyes looking for pain in Kuwabara’s expression.

“You won’t be able to stay the night... I won’t wake up with you in my arms,” Kuwabara murmured and turned kissing Hiei’s temple. He breathed in Hiei’s scent, and exhaled slowly, releasing his lover with reluctance.

“I’ll be back,” Hiei whispered, turning and greedily sinking teeth and tongue into Kuwabara’s throat, making his human gasp and moan. 

Hiei could only be so sweet for so long.

He left a mark, another dark bruise to add to the others. He wanted to be back before all the marks faded. He knew it was not possible, but he would certainly try.

“Don’t go,” Kuwabara murmured, sighing as Hiei withdrew his mouth and then his body.

Hiei headed for the door, walking backward so that he could look at Kuwabara until the very end, “I’ll be back.”

Kuwabara sunk back into their bed, sighing and watching Hiei go with lonely eyes. Hiei wondered if Kuwabara understood how he looked. So vulnerable, so open. How could the human stand being this way? It was breathtakingly beautiful in a way Hiei could not understand, or replicate. How had an open and warm person come to love such a closed off person as himself?

“Hurry back…” Kuwabara whispered a soft tired plea.

Hiei hummed gently, with one last look at Kuwabara’s face. 

Then... departed.

Chapter Text

“…W…Why would you let this happen…?”

It was the question Koenma had been waiting for.

“I can’t control everythin-”

“BULLSHIT! You’re…you’re…You’re in charge! You get a say! Bring him back!”

Koenma tensely approached the man who was currently groveling on the floor in front of him. This man that Koenma knew, was on all fours prostrating himself, begging with more than just words. The body before Koenma was bruised, broken, and bleeding, wounds left open and untreated. Those injuries, those terrible injuries had been received in doing Koenma a service.

However, those injuries were nothing compared to the fractured spirit and broken voice that weakly dribbled from the man before him.

As Koenma stood in front of this broken, sobbing, hulk of a man he glanced to his left at Kurama and Hiei.

Their eyes bore contempt and an eerie calm. It was as if they were animals, poised and waiting for another animal to make a wrong move-before they struck.

Koenma took, knowing he would make that wrong move. He could not give them what they wanted.

He looked away, and back down at Kuwabara.

“Please bring him back…” Kuwabara pleaded-his voice flooded with indescribable emotion.

Koenma knelt, and placed his fingertips slowly on Kuwabara’s shoulder. He heard Hiei and Kurama shift dangerously, as Koenma pressed his palm flat to Kuwabara’s back.

“No.”

“WHY!? Yusuke didn’t deserve…he doesn’t…You have to bring…you…” Kuwabara broke off flustered. His body gave a long shudder, before he finally stilled. A hollow voice gave one last attempt, one last plea, “Please.”

Koenma closed his eyes. Perhaps the animals would attack him, perhaps Kuwabara would sob and collapse into Koenma’s lap, perhaps Koenma would be able to provide the group with the answers they needed. There were so many…many choices.

And Koenma could only supply one.

“…No.”

Chapter Text

Kuwabara never understood why other men he knew would resist tears, resist crying.

Crying wasn’t something to be ashamed of, that’s at least what Kuwabara had always been told. Shizuru had been the one to say it, softly when he was suffering. He would cry and she would hold him, telling him it was okay to weep because he was hungry, and Mommy was yelling, and Daddy was hitting.

It was okay to cry.

It was okay to cry, it was okay to need hugs, it was okay to be strong and weak at the same time, it was okay to be affectionate, it was okay to be sad…all of these things were lessons he’d learned from his sister growing up.

Kuwabara had wondered why other guys struggled to accept these things. Why his own father had struggled with this. It was as if they’d grown up hearing that they should be ashamed for having or showing emotions.

How were tears a sign of weakness, and how was hurting someone a sign of strength? It was easy to hurt someone-easy. But crying…you bared so much about yourself when you cried. You showed what hurt you, or what could hurt you. You showed how you loved, or wanted to love. Crying was a way of bearing your soul…and what was stronger than being willing to bare your self?

Kuwabara asked his sister this once, why other guys Kuwabara knew would torture themselves and hold back their pain.

He had been thinking of a boy in a green jacket, worn shoes, and the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Shizuru swept Kuwabara in her arms and pressed him tight to her bosom. She held him tight as if she was going to lose him, and Kuwabara could only bring his arms around her and return the hug. They stood that way for a long, long moment, and Kuwabara’s question burned inside him even more, but now he was terrified to know the answer.

“…Some people have the wrong idea of strength and weakness little brother.”

That was all she could say to his question, and Kuwabara didn’t ask again.

Chapter Text

"Oh my god Jin, you’re fucking heavy get the hell off me!” Yusuke snapped, swatting at the red-headed demon, who currently clung to Yusuke’s back like a Koala. 

“Noooooo.” Jin drawled, before clamping his arms tighter around the struggling youth beneath him.

“I can’t walk with your bony ass digging into my-MOTHER OF SHIT!” Yusuke swore as Jin purposefully ground his chin into Yusuke’s shoulder blade.

Yusuke careened forward and with a hard smack, lay sprawled out before a grave, Jin haughtily roosting on his back.

As Yusuke cursed loudly, snarling obscenities that made no sense, Jin pressed his fist into his palm. Jin’s eyes settled on the large stone about a foot away and he bowed his head. “Nice day to be a’ seein’ ya Kuwabara. Birds are chiprin’ and Yusuke’s bein’ a down right pussy-“

Yusuke launched up throwing Jin off of his back, before whipping around and punching Jin in a rather low-brow area.

“Ah! Ch-cheat…ing…bastard…my nuts…” Jin wheezed, voice squeaky, and cracking. Jin curled into himself, looking rather pathetic as he lay on his side.

Yusuke smirked and nodded in satisfaction before settling his gaze on the weathered landmark before him.

Kuwabara’s grave was about 100 years old now, though do to the tests of time, looked as if it had stood there an eon. While other headstones were gone, swallowed by the swelling passage of time, this particular marker stood tall and true. (Even though it might have had a little help from Yusuke, or Kurama, or even Hiei in making sure this stone still remained.)

A sober moment passed between Jin and Yusuke as the two sat looking at the marker. The words that made up Kuwabara’s name had long been eroded away, but something in the very stance of the grave, bore the essence of the once proud warrior, whose body had given way to age.

Yusuke blinked, and then nodded slowly, “Hey Kuwabara. We’re doing okay. I hope you’re well.”

Jin painfully sat up, and placed a hand on Yusuke’s shoulder. He nodded privately to Kuwabara’s headstone, keeping a promise of protection and friendship to himself. And then to break the tense sober moment, Jin did what he knew was best.

A moment later, Yusuke realized what Jin had done.

“Oh for fuck’s sake did you fart? Oh, my God-what the hell have you been eating Jin!?”

Chapter Text

There was dust in his lungs.

No… That wasn’t right… but it itched. Felt... strange in a way that he couldn't quite...

Well, even if there wasn’t dust in his lungs… it really felt like there was.

He coughed, and the effort made him dizzy. The itchy feeling in his lungs hadn’t gotten any better either, just worse. He turned his mouth, and coughed again. Something dribbled out with a metallic taste. The itch in his lungs, at last, had been relieved by a small margin. Better than nothing.

‘It’s really dark…really, really, really dark…Kinda red too…’

Kuwabara opened his eyes, suddenly coming into awareness from his own stray thoughts.

“Ugh!” Kuwabara winced as blood immediately poured into his opened eyes. He tried to lift a hand to his face, but the twitch of his fingers didn’t feel right, and his whole arm had a strangle tingle to it.

“Shit…” He growled, as he blinked against the pain-only making matters worse, as more blood spilled in his eyes.

A clumsy hand was soon the answer to Kuwabara’s frustration.

“I got it-I got it! Quit squirmin’!” A familiar voice chided, soft and unusually thick sounding-as if they were speaking with their mouth full. 

The hand roughly scrubbed Kuwabara’s eyes, until Kuwabara grumbled out, “Ow! Ow! Enough-you got it! Fuck-stop Urameshi!”

Kuwabara’s eyes finally opened and his bleary vision fell on the form of his best friend. “Jesus-you’re a sight…” Kuwabara said, wincing from Yusuke’s appearance. Yusuke was mangled from head to toe, particularly on the left side of his face. Though, even with Yusuke's mangled face-that shouldn’t have been the reason for Yusuke’s thick tone. There were dirty tracks down Yusuke's face.

Had he been crying?

“Looks like someone took a sledgehammer to ya…” Kuwabara chuckled, wheezing as he laughed.

“…Yeah, I’m pretty messed up…” Yusuke answered, busying himself with the bandages on Kuwabara’s brow that must have come loose.

Yusuke’s simple, yielding answer hadn't been what Kuwabara expected to hear. Normally, Yusuke would have come back with some sort of retort, and the two would be bickering. The quiet, agreement Yusuke had responded with, was somehow out of place.

Kuwabara twitched his tingling hand again.

“Did…where are Kurama and Hiei?” Kuwabara asked, now unsure if everything was alright. 

“Fine,” Yusuke said holding Kuwabara’s face still as the big man tried to turn. “Stay down,” Yusuke continued, “You’re pretty messed up…Kurama and Hiei went to get some roots…or some herbs…I don’t know-some sorta plant shit to help your injuries.”

Kuwabara nodded, still uneasy from Yusuke’s out of place tone, and actions. 'How’d I even get injured…Shit. I can’t really remember…we were fighting someone…some guy…' Kuwabara scrunched up his face as his lack of memories confused him more.

The tingling in his hand spread up his elbow.

He lifted his arm to look at the annoying appendage, Yusuke simultaneously screaming, “NO! DON’T LOOK!”

Everything stilled as Kuwabara came face to face with a stub. 

About 3 inches below his elbow were carefully placed bandages---and nothing else. His forearm, wrist, his hand, was gone. Yusuke made a choking sound, and Kuwabara found his eyes drifting to his best friend. He stared, wide-eyed and confused, at Yusuke before lifting up his other arm.

“…Lefty’s there…” Kuwabara wheezed, the cold pit in his stomach exploding and swallowing his entire body with his own joking words. Kuwabara felt stupid, but that had never deterred him from speaking before, so he added, “That’s g-good.”

Kuwabara paused to shiver, his voice now having a quiver to it. “S'not so bad…” Kuwabara said after a long pause, his voice cracked and suddenly felt rough, “I got one arm…and-” Kuwabara held up legs so he could see they were still there, “-got both feet too! It’s…it’s alright… I can work with this.”

Kuwabara didn't feel any pain, and he hoped that was good.

Kuwabara had closed his mouth to swallow the ever persistent lump that resided in his throat, when rough hands were lifting his head up. He was cradled in the crook of Yusuke’s arm, Yusuke’s other hand holding Kuwabara’s bandaged stump of an arm. Yusuke let out a half-broken sob, and Kuwabara realized he too, was crying.

Kuwabara felt his right arm tingle, and felt his fingers twitching. This made the lump grow even bigger and more painful, and aloud Kuwabara wondered, “Why does it feel like my hand’s asleep…when there’s…there’s n-nothing even…?”

Kuwabara broke off in a sob, and Yusuke gripped Kuwabara harder, crying along with him.

“Kuwabara…I’m sorry…” Yusuke’s choked words echoed around them.

Brow to brow the two men held each other, Yusuke’s cracked lips eventually pressing to Kuwabara’s brow. The pain in Kuwabara’s cracked head intensified as Yusuke repeatedly pressed sloppy kisses to his brow, temple, and the bridge of his nose. The pain grew, and Kuwabara closed his eyes and gave into unconsciousness.

The last thing he was aware of was the strange tingle that came from his missing right hand.

Chapter Text

“Hiei you got to show up!” Yukina pleaded, as Hiei tried to walk away from her.

The ice maiden wasn’t having it, however, and followed him persistently, pleading with every quick step he took.

He tried not to grind his teeth together, but it was hard to maintain a calm expression. Even for her.

“Yukina…” Hiei hissed trying to be patient, because if anyone deserved patience and kindness it was his sister, “I’m not…a... party goer.”

“And we can change that!” Yukina piped up face lighting up eagerly.

Hiei tried very hard not to roll his eyes and gnash his teeth. Again. If he was less of a man he might throw a temper tantrum. Thank God, he was a demon.

“Yukina…why would you want to go to a party with me? I would be no fun.”

Yukina smiled and looped her arm through her brother’s, “Because this party isn’t just for our dear friends…but strangers will be there too. And I feel safest when I’m with my brother.”

Hiei slouched, leaning into his sister’s touch. That was it. She had him. 

“…Fine.”

“Oh, Hiei! Thank you! Now we just need to get you a costume!”

“A Costume?!”

Chapter Text

Yukina must have been warned about the boys disappearance, and Kuwabara’s condition, for she is waiting for Kuwabara and Hiei at her door.

She surprises them by slapping Kuwabara across the face while gems stream down her cheeks, and clatter on the stone steps beneath her. Her eyes are full of things she knows that they do not.

Hiei surprises himself, and Kuwabara, by picking Yukina up and yanking her away from Kuwabara’s stunned face. “Don’t,” Hiei says gently, but he is still stopping her from striking Kuwabara again.

“Wh-what were you thinking!? What were you thinking!?” Yukina is screaming, half hyperventilating on her own tears, “How… how dare you!? You do not get to put my desires before your own!”

Kuwabara, feeling guilty for something he surely can’t remember, sputters, “I…huh? Yukina… I… what did I do?”

“I’ve… I’ve guessed it!” Yukina hisses, Hiei’s arms still around her, and her hands gripping into his arms, “You… You and Hiei. You’ve been together this whole time…but… but… Kazuma!” She throws Hiei off, more because he is so surprised, rather than she is strong.

She reaches for Kuwabara and pulls him close to her, taking in fist fulls of her shirt, “I asked you to help me get Hiei to confess! Not to be too afraid to love him because I missed him! You always… always do this!”

Kuwabara doesn’t understand.

He looks at Hiei. Hiei seems to get it.

“Yukina…” Hiei says, words guilty and hollow.

“I… I don’t want you to deny it. I know who you are! I wanted you to tell me. I asked Kazuma to help me,” Yukina says her voice weak, “I didn’t know… you two…”

“No one knew,” Hiei says, and there’s bitterness to it; that makes Kuwabara feel like he should get slapped again.

“It’s my fault… and… no…” Yukina looks up, her eyes swimming with sorrow, regret, and guilt, “Kazuma you should never put anything I desire, above your own needs! That is unkind… not only to yourself, but to those you love.” She waves at Hiei, and stares hard at Kuwabara.

Kuwabara really doesn’t remember or know what she’s talking about.

He really wishes he did.

He wishes he could punch his old self in the face. He might get Yusuke to do it for him later.

Yukina runs from Kuwabara and throws herself around Hiei, arms encircling her brother. She kisses his cheek, her red eyes staring imploringly at his face, And Hiei’s face scrunches up, seeming to be overcome with emotion. His eyes stare into hers, and she smiles at him, flooded with relief.

Kuwabara realizes they look alike as Hiei hugs Yukina again, not crying, but clearly going through something as fiercely as Yukina. They look a lot alike. So much so Kuwabara had thought he could pretend to see the string on Yukina, and not Hiei at first, because that was how fate worked, right?

His head hurts.

Rubbing his temple, Kuwabara tries to remember something. The thought he just had.

it had been there but then it was gone with a burst of pain.

So he tries to remember something else, something that is still bothering him. It’s weird that he can’t recall whatever deal he made with Yukina. She’s not Hiei so why can’t he remember an arrangement made with her? 

That shouldn’t be a problem. She is not him, why is it-

He’s her brother. You were going to help her get him to say it.

The thought comes to him hard. A tiny whisper that sends a shooting rocket of pain into the back of his skull. Hiei and Yukina are embracing, and Kuwabara’s nose is bleeding.

He’s remembered something.

He and Yukina had huddled alone outside the shrine. And she had placed her head on Kuwabara’s arm and sighed wistfully, “I know it’s him. He’s my brother.”

Kuwabara’s head had been awhirl at her revelation. He couldn’t believe it… but then he did. There were similarities there that he had never… he had chosen to ignore.

“Why…isn’t he saying anything?” Kuwabara asked, a hand reaching for Yukina’s in comfort, and comfort alone.

“I don’t know. Kazuma… can you help him… can you help me convince him to say something? Anytime I’m on to him he flees… maybe if one of his friends does it… steers him to confess…” Yukina is asking, reluctant but needing.

They are more than just friends Kuwabara thinks. 

He thinks of that first encounter, rough kisses, and wandering hands. How Hiei had almost parted his legs right there, until Kuwabara ran away from nerves and uncertainty. He made a decision when Hiei talked to him later, because in their moment of lust, Kuwabara had seen the truth.

He wanted Hiei. He wanted to hold him, and to comfort him, and to help him, and Hie needed a lot… and Kuwabara would give it all to him. Everything he needed to be better. He had decided not to pretend anymore.

But now Yukina needs his help too.

Kuwabara looked down at Yukina’s sad face, and squeezed her hand. Hiei only had room in his heart to love one person. Kuwabara is sure of that, or at the time hs sure of that. It had to be her. He had to help the siblings reunite… even if it meant…

“Oh… I am a self-sacrificing idiot!” Kuwabara says, jolting Yukina and Hiei out of their hug.

Kuwabara is gushing blood from his nose, and one of his eyes is rolling back into his head. His head feels like an explosion. The worst pain he has ever experienced, and yet it is not his own. He is detached from it. Detached.

“KAZUMA!” Yukina shrieks in terror.

Kuwabara is tipping backwards.

Arms have caught him and Hiei is staring at him, angry and scared. He is speaking but Kuwabara can’t hear him. The world is spinning in around him and away from him, and Kuwabara clutches Hiei’s arm wanting it to tether him to this reality. 

Red eyes meet his, as everything begins to fade to black.

Kuwabara wonders if he’ll ever remember what their first kiss had been like. The one that had meant something.

 


 

Days later, Hiei is still waiting in Genaki’s shrine, waiting for news of Kuwabara. Koenma explained, that what he had been afraid of happening, had happened. Kuwabara remembered before the dangerous seed had fully left his system. the toxins it left behind latching at parts of Kuwabara’s mind and damaging him.

If Yukina hadn’t been there, Kuwabara would have died.

Yusuke and Shizuru both punched Hiei, and they stung equally. He deserved it.

He should have never brought Kuwabara here.

After punching him Yusuke had thrown an arm around Hiei, and squeezed him. With all the bitterness Yusuke muttered, “It’s not like this was your idea.”

It hadn’t been… but he had known better. Kuwabara was a self-sacrificing fool. Kuwabara’s needs were always second… Hiei shouldn’t have expected that to change just because Kuwabara had forgotten something. Had forgotten him. Kuwabara had been this way long before they had met.

Shizuru raked a rough hand over Hiei’s head, and gave him a consoling look.

Punishment and forgiveness in seconds.

Hiei would never forgive himself. Never forgive Kuwabara. When Kuwabara woke up, because damn him he would, Hiei would punish them both.

Yukina comes out of Kuwabara’s room, and all eyes look up.

She looks shaken, but her eyes land on her brother, “He’s asking for you.”

Hiei is moving before he can engage in the questions. He does hear Yusuke’s ringing plea though, “Does he remember?”

Hiei shuts it all out, and joins Kuwabara in the made up room they had first placed him in when he collapsed. The air is chilly, something Yukina had done to help Kuwabara with his fever. On instinct, Hiei is also keeping the temperature of the room cold, just in case.

He approaches Kuwabara’s bedside, a hand landing on his brow to check for fever.

“Hiei,” Kuwabara’s dry voice croaks, and Hiei looks Kuwabara in the eye. Kuwabara had been looking at him the whole time, and Hiei had been too numb to notice.

Kuwabara looks exhausted, and one of his eyes, the eye that had rolled into the back of his head, is completely black. The pale gray, sometimes blue color of it, and will never return apparently. Hiei strokes a thumb under Kuwabara’s eyes.

He already knows.

“You don’t remember me…”

Kuwabara takes Hiei’s hand, “No…” Kuwabara blinks, “Not quite… Some. I remember some.”

Hiei’s heart is stone, “But us…?”

“That’s gone.”

Hiei tries to move, is strong enough to leave, but he lets Kuwabara’s weak grasp keep him tethered, “Please… let’s start over. I don’t know why… but I know I was in love with you. I know I felt… I couldn’t tell you because… I thought you could only care about one of us… it was stupid-”

“Incredibly so,” Hiei is bitter. 

“I know I loved you… please give me a chance to learn why…” Kuwabara is shaking as he holds him, he knows he’s losing Hiei here.

“I’ve fucked everything up… and I have no right… and I’m sorry for hurting you, and for what I can’t remember… but I do remember…” Kuwabara is trying not to cry, “I do remember that I loved you so much nothing else mattered.”

“That has to change,” Hiei growls, breaking their connection.

Kuwabara sinks into his pillows, deflating. Lost.

Hiei leans over Kuwabara, arms trapping him, and kisses Kuwabara gently. He’d consume Kuwabara in a fiery swirl of passion, but that’s what he did before and that had almost burned Kuwabara completely out. Hiei wasn’t going to do that this time. 

Kuwabara stiffens beneath him, and then his arms are wrapped around Hiei, hesitant but grateful. He pressed into Kuwabara, endearingly clumsy, as if it’s their first. Hiei kisses Kuwabara gently, and surely, determined not to crush this beautiful fragile man beneath him. 

“You have to matter you, idiot,” Hiei says as he pulls away, “You’re feelings matter.  You can’t put everyone else before you anymore. I won’t do this with you again. I don’t abuse the things I care about!” He is angry, his eyes glaring, but tracing Kuwabara over.

Hiei is lying. He did abuse the things he cared about. He won’t do that anymore.

Kuwabara looks uncertain but hopeful.

Hiei kisses each eye, “I love you. I did not say those words cheaply. I am furious with you… and I will punish you when I can. When you are well enough we will fight and shout… but I love you all the same.”

Kuwabara clings to him then, shaking with relief.  Hiei holds Kuwabara just as hard. They would start over… and if he thinks about it, this is better. They can clear away way the mess, and Kuwabara can be treated with better care. Hiei can be treated with gentler care.

“I’m sorry… I love you, I’m sorry… I don’t know why I wouldn’t have told you… I love you so much!” Kuwabara is choking.

Hiei holds him as he cries, “Hush… don’t cry over something you can’t remember.” Sweetly, Hiei kisses Kuwabara’s cheek. He breathes him in, not intending to let him go this time.

They can start over.

End

Chapter Text

This was not what he expected when he got up that morning.

Then again who expects to be searching in a freezing snow storm, for a missing human?

To begin this weird day, Jin, windmaster and former comrade in the effort to find their own patch of land to call home, barged into his residence and seized him by the arms.

“Toya! Urameshi an’ his lot have gotten themselves in a heap of a mess!” Jin squawked shaking his shorter friend, “They got in a scrap with some S-class bent on bein’ a royal ass-ya know to type Toy’. All, graww grawww humans this, weaker demons this, blah blah blah, take over demon world, earth, an’ spirit-”

Toya held up a hand, “Jin…please…the point.” He was barely awake, but when Jin got started there was no use going back to sleep. Better to solve the problem now, and get more sleep after.

Jin nodded his head, red hair bouncing rapidly with each nod, “Yeah! Well, they beat him, but there was some type of explosion and Yusuke, Hiei, Kurama, an’ Kuwabara got all scattered! We need to go look for ‘em.”

Toya nodded, inwardly only worried about the only human of the group. The Makai was a big place to be lost in for a human-and personally Toya felt Yusuke, Kurama, and Hiei would be okay. They were demons…but Kuwabara.

Well…no offense to him, but a human was only a human.

“Do we have any clues as to where they landed?” Toya asked, already heading out the door.

“Well I’m heading up in the sky to look east, but Mukuro said that there’s a human signature coming from over here in your area.”

Toya raised his eyebrows. Toya had made himself home in a snowy region of the Makai. It was comfortable but it snowed, and stormed often. Even now, a storm was swirling... it was not good if Kuwabara was lost out in this.

"That's... not too good," He said, pausing to snag a blanket from a trunk. He had no jacket, didn't need one, but Kuwabara might need this. Could a human withstand the cold of the Makai?

"Nope! Keep yer eye out!" Jin said, jamming a finger at Toya, waving as he hastily exited.

Toya nodded and headed out, just behind Jin. They parted ways soon, Jin taking to the sky, and Toya keeping to the ground.

His chosen home resided in an area that was filled with snow covered pines, ice mountains, and creatures and beasts made of ice, slurries, and bitter cold. Not a good place for anyone to be when injured. Not a good place for a lost human to be either. But it was perfect for Toya-he was so connected to the land that if someone was crashing around in it, he’d find him. So that should be good for Kuwabara at least.

If he was here... Toya would find him.

Toya trekked out into the world, to look for what he hoped would be a rescue mission, and not a body recovery.

Hours into the search... had Toya nervous.

It was not as easy as Toya expected-or hoped. He encountered many wilds of his land; mindless snow creatures, packs of demon thugs, wild trees that had wills of their own and that sought blood. To make matters worse, as it got closer towards the evening, Yusuke, Kurama, and Hiei had all been found, leaving only Kuwabara left to find.

And when Yusuke learned that Toya had been looking for Kuwabara for hours with no luck, Yusuke had an explosion of anger, as well as accusations. In the end, it ended with everyone divided up into Toya’s territory seeking out one lost human.

At this point-with the sun setting-Toya wrote Kuwabara off for dead. No way a simple human could survive out here, especially if he was injured.

A strangled beastly howl echoed from behind Toya and he turned in time to see a giant cat-like beast charge at him, large fangs flashing. Claws dug into Toya’s side before he could react and he was on his back looking up at the giant beast, expecting the end. What a way to die! For some weak human who'd gotten thrown out here and lost-

“Snowbell!! Stop!”

The large cat-like beast blinked and put his paw down and turned towards the source of the voice, and Toya dared to raise his head.

There, on a snowbank, surrounded what seemed to be the beast’s cubs, was Kuwabara. He had several makeshift bandages, including a splint made from branches on an obviously shattered leg, but besides that, he looked no worse for wear. The cubs were coddled to him providing him worth, and each one seemed eager to have Kuwabara rub their heads.

The large cat-like beast purred and removed itself from Toya, before scampering back to Kuwabara, large head pressing against the human. Kuwabara grinned, childlike glee crossing his bruised face, while Toya could only stare open-mouthed. 

Kuwabara caught Toya’s expression and immediately apologized, “I’m sorry about Snowbell! She’s a good girl. I helped her and her cubs out…she’s been keeping me safe since I can’t walk too much…boy am I glad to see you Toya! Thought I’d be out here all night…”

As the human rattled on, Toya decided not to ever just write Kuwabara off as “some human,” again.

Chapter Text

“…It’s different…” Yusuke offered, as he ran a hand over Kuwabara’s buzzed hair.

“What part of "just trim my hair,” did they not get!?“ Kuwabara groaned as he stared at himself in the bathroom mirror. He should never have trusted his hair to anyone but his sister.

What had meant to be a simple hair cut, had turned into a fiasco. Leaving Kuwabara, short twenty bucks, and now sporting a buzz cut.  The taller man ran a hand over his short hair, longing for the pompadour that once crowned his head. This was awful. Nothing about this was good.

He looked back at Yusuke, who seemed to be fascinated by Kuwabara’s new look. 

Yusuke grinned, “Well, Hey…at least I won’t be ripping large clumps out when I climax anymore!”

Kuwabara sputtered in response and threw a toilet paper roll at his laughing lover.

Chapter Text

Kuwabara is drunk when he puts his hands on Yusuke’s hips and pulls the shorter man flush against his body.

This is a big surprise to everyone, especially to Keiko who had been knocked off her boyfriend’s arm when Kuwabara suddenly grabbed Yusuke.

But Kuwabara isn’t done with just grabbing Yusuke, he then proceeds to place his ear to Yusuke’s chest, and stays there. This is a bit of relief, because Yusuke had seriously been worried the tall man was going to kiss him, and Yusuke was just too drunk to handle Kuwabara kissing him right now.

The room goes quiet and suddenly Yusuke snorts with laughter and looks at his friends and girlfriend and then gives a shrug.

“Well, this is a little awkward!” Yusuke manages, reaching out for Keiko disparagingly as Kuwabara stays rooted at Yusuke’s chest. “I think Kuwabara got jealous Keiko!”

Keiko giggles and hugs Kuwabara from behind, she too, is a little flushed from alcohol, “Aw Kuwabara! we can share!”

Yusuke laughs, and soon the room of old friends and new friends join in.

"No, you two ain't sharing nothing! I've got one fiance here, and it's you!" Yusuke snorts, and then tries to push Kuwabara away loudly reminding him, "Dude, this is my engagement part, get off!"

"Ah, let him in your wedding! Keiko's strong enough for both of ya's!" Chu shouts drunkenly, cat-calls and more laughter following after.

Kuwabara silences that laughter with a drunken slur:

“Oh Good…You’re heartbeat’s…still there. I was dreamin’ while awake…it was gone…”

Yusuke looked down at his best friend, suddenly a little more sober than he was a minute ago, “Huh?”

Kuwabara let Yusuke go, and stood up straight, putting an arm around Keiko who was now quietly looking up at the lumberjack of a man. She took Kuwabara's arm, trying to catch his gaze, trying to communicate something to him, something the big man did not get while drunk. Instead, he fluffed Keiko's hair, and pulled her close to one side, and then reached for Yusuke pulling him close to the other side.

"Kuwabara... what did you just say, man?" Yusuke asked, trying to get Kuwabara to focus.

Kuwabara giggled and released Yusuke, still leaning on Keiko for support, "You worry too don'cha Keiko?" 

Keiko purses her lips, "Kazuma... let's go get some fresh air, huh?"

Kuwabara unaware of the awkward tension he’s created, takes up a nearby sake bottle and looks right at Yusuke with a grin, “Sometimes when I’m awake I ‘member the time… when you were layin’ all still… and your heart was gone… I do it in my sleep too. So... since I was dreamin' awake again I just thought I'd... check!”

Kuwabara frowned, and laughed, (no one joining in) and amended, “Well, no your heart was there back then …but the heartbeat was gone! Again, you were gone. Like the time when the car smacked ya’ and ye were in a box… years ago ya know. But…you know…with Sensu…sennnnsuuuueeeee… Sensui. Yeah! When Sensui stopped your heartbeat. That sucked!” Kuwabara laughed again and used the back of a hand to wipe a tear that had formed in the corner of his eye. “Now when I dream… it’s the silence that comes from your chest that makes me scream… When I’m awake… sometimes I still dream of you... layin’ on the ground.”

“Kuwabara…” Yusuke sputtered, putting a hand on Kuwabara’s hand to stop him from drinking any more. 

Kuwabara pouted, but did not try to jerk the bottle out of his friend's grasp.

“Kuwabara…why don’t you stop now. Let's get you home…you’ve had too much,” Yusuke said his words strained as his throat felt tight.

Keiko squeezed Kuwabara’s arm, and he looked down at her as if he’d forgotten she was there. Kuwabara took her hand and put it on Yusuke’s chest, and slurred, “Thank God for you, Keiko. His heart beats for you. As long as you’re alive it beats for you…”

Yusuke and Keiko blushed, and Kurama quietly came up and put his arms around Kuwabara whispering about taking him home to sleep it off. Kuwabara turned to Kurama smiling, and then allowed the handsome demon to pull him towards the exit.

Kurama had just managed to get Kuwabara outside when Yusuke burst out of his own engagement party, and caught Kuwabara’s elbow.

“Hey man…don’t think just cuz you’re drunk we’re not talking about all this mess later. I ain’t gonna die… my heart… well, it beats for you too, you know,” Yusuke said in a rushed tipsy way, embarrassed by the heavy tension Kuwabara had started.

Kuwabara smiled like a big kid, an arm draped around Kurama, and with a little laugh, Kuwabara blurted, “Ha! You love me!”

"Of course I do!" Yusuke says, still a little embarrassed, but serious.

"Gross," Hiei says from behind him, but he slips past Yusuke to stand at Kuwabara's other side. Kuwabara puts a hand on Hiei's shoulder, and the demon does not shrug him off.

Kuwabara laughs, leaning a little on Kurama's shoulder, and squeezed Hiei's shoulder again, "Aw... I love you too Urameshi!" He giggles, and Kurama and Hiei gently guide the drunken man away. 

Yusuke watches him be led away, Keiko joining him outside. She cocks an eyebrow at him, and he shrinks in his shoulders, nervous he's made a mistake.

"What?" He asks.

"Go walk him home. You want to go with him. You need him. All of them. Go be with your boys!" Keiko half scolds, pushing Yusuke forwards towards where his friends were slinking away.

"Skip out on our own party?" Yusuke asked, already taking a step forward.

"Yup," She says, getting tugged along as he pulls her.

"Come with me, Keiko. I need you too," Yusuke says firmly.

She smiles, and keeps in step with Yusuke, "Yes, you do. I'm worried about Kuwabara too. And he was right..." She slips her arm around Yusuke's waist, "I am your heartbeat."

Yusuke nods in agreement. He wonders if he's allowed two heartbeats.

 

End

Chapter Text

In life, Hiei had learned mothers were creatures from fairytales, friends were things of myth, and if you’re going to have faith in anything-you better only have it in yourself.

There’s no one you can count on, not in the real world.

So in Hiei’s younger years, he spent his time stealing and facing the reality that having someone you could depend on was a worthless luxury that would either get you caught, killed, or worse... mourning someone that had been entirely unnecessary.  

And Hiei had no time for useless bullshit such as that.

As he grew he would meet, and slay many a man who put their trust in friendship or family.

This was something beautiful he’d sooner destroy rather than try to understand. 

In what Hiei guessed, was the middle of his life, he learned that he had a sister. What good was a sister? She would be something that would crumble underneath his shadow-whether he wanted her to or not. He was tainted, and dark, while she was probably, “as pure as the driven snow,” and would sooner melt in his hand than smile and offer him some comfort.

No good reaching out for that, he tried to tell himself over, and over. Don't reach for it, don't want it, don't look. You'll long for it, and you can't have it.

But it was in this, “middle point,” of his life that on one day when he gave in to his curiosities, and listened to that one voice deep in the darkness of his mind that whispered to seek out better things. He located her… and saw her smile.

Hiei did not want to know loneliness anymore.

From afar he drifted after her, basking in glimpses of her warmth, and savoring looks that were meant for flowers, animals-and never for him.

And more time passed, and the longer he looked at Yukina from shadows the more things changed.

In time, he made friends. People he could depend on to save him, help him… laugh with him… or at him, as sometimes was the case. It was because of this sudden closeness with these new… comrades…he was able to stand closer to his sister. So close he could touch the tail of her shadows, and be on the receiving end of her smiles.

And as the middle of his life, suddenly became a turning point in his own personal story-Hiei found faith was something that could spring up on you, no matter how hard you tried to fight it.

End

Chapter Text

Botan was trying to stop Shizuru, she was going to kill the man.

“Shizuru, really it’s alright! I didn’t even hear what he said!” Botan insisted.

She was lying.

Shizuru knew she was.

“Oh no, this asshole thought he could say what he wanted, and we’d let that shit slide,” Shizuru hissed, grabbing the man by his shirt before he could get away again. She curled her fist tight, in the way she had taught Kazuma when he was younger, and put her weight behind the hit.

“Please it… it was just a joke!” The man choked weakly, not wanting to get beat down in front of his friends, who were rapidly backing away from the situation.

“I don’t get how one word could come off as a joke… it must be humor that’s lost on me,” Keiko said pulling out her phone. She was snapping the man and his friends’ picture, and then planned to send it to Yusuke later. When Shizuru was done with them, Yusuke could have the rest.

“What did they say?” Yukina asked, the only one who hadn’t actually heard what was said.

Botan turned to Yukina, pushing her away from the scene. She didn’t need Hiei breathing down her neck about his sister learning a new word! “Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing! Come on let’s just go.”

Botan let Shizuru carry out justice for her.

Chapter Text

Yusuke hadn't moved in six hours after the fight.

Kuwabara had dragged Yusuke from the battlefield-their lives depending on the hasty retreat. 

It had taken 23 minutes to fully escape their enemy-and it had only been thanks to Kurama and Hiei showing up-that Kuwabara finally got away with Yusuke.

But now…who knew how Kurama and Hiei were. Or... where they were. 

For that matter, Kuwabara didn't really know where he was either.

Kuwabara had run blindly into the forest, ignoring the pain of older wounds, and the new scrapes he received from his escape. Kuwabara didn’t stop running until he tripped over a large root, and was sent flying down a rocky hill. Holding Yusuke tight to him, Kuwabara endured the painful slide, landing roughly at the bottom of rocky ravine.

Kuwabara felt something snap in him-something break. He fought against the tears, tears of pain and frustration, and got up, carrying Yusuke a little bit away from where they fell, and gently set Yusuke down, making sure Yusuke as comfortable as Kuwabara could make him in his terrible injured state. Kuwabara made a place for them to rest beneath large tree roots, and wrapped Yusuke in his own jacket.

They needed to wait for help, and Kuwabara needed to wait for Yusuke to get up before he could leave to go forage for food, or flag someone down. Surely, hopefully, someone was looking for them.

Kurama and Hiei were okay, they made it out too---hadn't they?

But six hours ticked by, and Yusuke remained unconscious, and Kuwabara, remained alone.

Kuwabara was left with a hard choice. He needed to get food for the both of them… Kuwabara was in dire need of something to eat-and Yusuke too would need it…if he woke up.

Kuwabara shook his head.

When he woke up.

But to leave Yusuke alone… asleep and unable to defend himself if anything approached…it was a hard choice, but Kuwabara left vowing to bring back whatever he could catch, and tred and find water too. Kuwabara had no way to carry it-but he could transport Yusuke to the water when Yusuke woke up.

It was a long stressful hunt, but eventually, Kuwabara found a wild boar (that didn't look too demonic) and made quick work of the weaker animal. Dragging the beast back was a taxing quest, but Kuwabara managed it…and soon had a fire, and meat on sticks and everything was going to be okay!

But…

But Kuwabara, still, didn’t know where Hiei and Kurama were… and Yusuke hadn’t moved in now… 8 hours. 

Panic was setting in, and if Kuwabara could spare the energy, he might have actually broken down and burst into tears. He'd done everything he could, right? He'd found shelter, he'd packed Yusuke's wounds, kept him warm, kept a vigilant eye on each intake of his friend's breath. He had even checked Yusuke's heartbeat, reminding himself that this was not like Sensui---Yusuke was not, would not, could not be dead.

But Kuwabara couldn’t...

He could only wait. Keep it together. There was still danger all around… and Kuwabara needed to be at his best.

Kuwabara prodded the meat to inspect that the pork was cooked around the ninth hour, when a weak sound caught Kuwabara's ear.

The sound came from Yusuke, and he was weakly croaking, “B-Bacon?”

Kuwabara turned, and Yusuke's eyes were open, and he had sat up on his own. He was squinting at Kuwabara as if he'd woken up on a normal Saturday after an all-nighter of video games. Kuwabara stared at Yusuke, and Yusuke stared back, not seeming to understand what was going on. Yusuke scratched himself, not noticing the bandages and yawned, asking again, "S'at bacon?"

Kuwabara’s throat closed and he launched himself at his best friend hugging him tightly. Yusuke winced and let a weak hand touch Kuwabara’s elbow-unaware of all the stress Kuwabara had been going through. He pat Kuwabara's elbow awkwardly, squinting at Kuwabara with blatant and obvious confusion. Kuwabara pulled back, an iron like grip digging into Yusuke shoulders, and Kuwabara just looked at Yusuke, everything he wanted to say and ask piling up.

Again, in a more aware voice, Yusuke asked, “Bacon?” A now more hopeful tune to his question. He smiled, thinking that would fix it.

And Kuwabara broke down in sobs.

Chapter Text

Yusuke is bleeding on the cavern floor. Sensui says he's gone.

Kuwabara's emotional turmoil... It was like dying himself.

Yes, that’s what Kuwabara decided. It was just like that. Dying.

Or like dropping in a well, surrounded by mossy rocks, the water deep and freezing. And all the while you’re drowning and the damn rocks are so slimy you can’t get up. You shout, from within that well, but no one can hear you. The cold is numbing, and the absolute emptiness of the well echoing around you is enough to fracture your very soul. As you flounder, you sink, and all hope fades.

That is what this is like, and maybe even a bit worse.

Hiei and Kurama were next to him… he could feel their presence, but it was like he was alone.

Alone… now that he was gone. Kuwabara reached his body…and he felt like lying.

Like announcing that the very dead Yusuke Urameshi, was playing a cruel joke… and maybe if he lied it would be true. True.

Something was probing his mind. Was it the shuffling feet of Matari… the sounds of a sad song from a movie playing …Sensui breathing while the best person in the world lay dead at Kuwabara’s feet?  Perhaps it was Kurama, whose breaths were ragged, and whose feelings reached out to Kuwabara, his pain burning Kuwabara’s mind like boiling water. Maybe even Hiei, whose silence felt the loudest, the heaviest, it had ever been.

No, the probing in Kuwabara’s mind was the fact that a lie, was still a lie, and the truth was the truth.

Gone.

Yusuke was gone.

Again.

Kuwabara sank to his knees and spoke, later he wouldn’t be able to recall his words. He touched Yusuke next, his hand to his mouth. He was still warm, perhaps Yusuke really was holding his breath. Yusuke was an ass when it came to jokes.

Kuwabara clung onto the feeble hope that Yusuke’s still warm skin was a sign.

There must be a heartbeat, there must be!’ Kuwabara thought his breaths becoming shaky with the panic that was setting in. 'Please…’ Kuwabara begged in his mind, and with an exhale, lowered himself towards Yusuke’s chest… just over his heart.

He pressed his ear to Yusuke’s chest… and heard nothing.

It was like dying.

Chapter Text

There had been one person Kiyoshi Mitarai had killed-just one without any prompting or convincing from the warped human, Shinobu Sensui.

When he had first realized his own powers-it had been in a moment of distress, and pain. He remembered that his mother was wailing in the background-before she had been silenced.

His mother had been a small woman, and frail. She tended to be sickly, and her brown eyes always seemed moist. Her hands normally shook, and though cold, her embrace was always loving. She would brush a lock of Kiyoshi’s hair and promise him better things, a better life.

It would never be.

The day Mitarai had found his power-the day he had really become, “Seaman,” was the last day of his mother’s life. 

Unfortunately for this frail woman, she had been a victim of falling in love. 

And the man she loved took her blossoming feelings, and helped them bloom and intertwine around him. She became so entangled, that when the abuse started, she had thought she’d done something wrong.

She hadn’t done anything wrong of course… she was just a woman in an unfortunate circumstance.

The only thing that could be arguably wrong, was bringing a baby into that life.

Anything and everything could set Mitarai’s father off. If it wasn’t his small height, his features, it was because he needed new shoes because his feet were growing. The beatings his father delivered were many, but oftentimes, they’d be stopped. Normally, Mitarai’s mother would throw herself on top of her son, pleading for the beatings to stop against her son. His son. Their child!

And he would turn, pushing past his son, and then assault his wife.

Such horrors made Mitarai awkward at school, and he had a hard time socializing. His differences, and silent pain, made him a target. Bullying at school became a norm, and after a full day of that hell, he’d come home only to find a worse one waiting for him.

It was a vicious circle.

When he was 9, it looked like it might come to an end.

His father, fueled by alcohol, grabbed his son and threw him onto the ground. His fists came down along with a drunken frenzied cry of outrage. What his father was screaming about this time didn’t matter. It was just the same thing over, and over, and over.

“Stop it! STOP IT! S-stop! Leave Kiyoshi alone!” Mitarai’s mother wailed. There was a distant sound of her picking up a phone. “THIS IS IT! You won’t hurt us anymore!! WE’RE LEAVING!" 

The blows stopped, and Mitarai’s father stomped off, his steps fading away.

There was a sound of a vase hitting the floor and smashing, but it was the strange gurgling sound that made Mitarai sit up. Rising slowly, he looked through his puffy eyes and watched frozen as his father strangled his mother.

He sat on her chest, his hands around her throat. He squeezed and pressed, his face flushed red from his act. His mother’s eyes dropped the tears she seemed to be holding back all these years, and she stopped making sounds.

Mitarai doesn’t remember standing or walking to be by his mother, but he remembers standing over his mother and staring at her glassy eyes. His bare feet soaked in the water from the broken vase, his blood tinting the water as the broken vase cut his feet. The water flashed oddly, but this went unnoticed between the father and son who stared fixated at the dead woman.

"Trash,” was the only word his father said.

Something snapped.

Mitarai looked up at his father, and met the man’s gaze-something he had never done before.

The water beneath Mitarai’s feet stretched out and up. Small hands climbed up Mitarai’s clothes, until something wet was on Mitarai’s head. Mitarai could not see his first creation, but he knew it would listen to him. That it wanted what he wanted.

“Make him sorry,” the small boy whispered pointing with a quivering hand at his father, who had pressed himself against the wall in fright.

The water form on the boy’s head leaped up and wrapped itself around the man’s head. He screamed, but no sound was permitted outside the water creature’s body. Bubbles filled the little water body, and the man shut his mouth looking frantic. He fell to his knees, tearing at the water on his face. He only managed to scratch his face, his blood turning the water pink. He struggled, but nothing worked… and soon he was on his stomach. 

He raised a hand and weakly grabbed his son’s shirt, begging silently with his eyes.

The child, not fully aware of what he was doing, instead looked at his mother. His actions spoke more than words…and the man finally collapsed fully, laying still. He was gone.

The water creature became a puddle on the floor…and Mitarai was alone.

Tired from everything that had happened Mitarai had collapsed. He woke later in a hospital. There were social workers, doctors, and police officers. Their kind consoling words were worthless to Mitarai now. At this moment Mitarai knew he could not depend on these people.

Not the nice parents who would later adopt him.

Not the doctors.

Not his classmates or teachers…

The boy would pick up a glass of water at his bedside. He bit at the cuticle of his left index finger until it bled and added it to the water. The small water formed twisting and shivering with life.

Mitarai watched as the water creature danced with life inside his cup.

The boy could depend on no one… the world had let him down. But as he watched the water dance, he knew that he had found someone… something, he could depend on. 

And he would use it… from now on.

end

Chapter Text

Hiei remained perfectly still, uncomfortably still even, but that still did not change the fact that there was something... churning inside him. A great mixing of... feelings, were beginning to overtake him.

He willed his mind to remain blank, still as water. Don’t acknowledge it, don’t let those thoughts creep into your head… but creep they did.

Biting his lip, so that he wouldn’t explode in a fit of savage snarls, Hiei glared at his hand that had lifted from his own lap.

‘Don’t you dare…’ Hiei warned his hand, ‘…don’t you fucking dare!’

But nothing could stop his hand, his thoughts, or even these accursed feelings that seemed to be even affecting his face, forcing his stoic expression into an uncertain, worried frown. 

No matter what he did, no matter what he tried… something had changed him over the course of time, a tightness around his heart had slowly unwound. And try as he might, that looseness about his heart, allowed for his body and mind to betray him. 

With a stiff, uncertain hand, Hiei reached out and pressed it awkwardly and carefully to Kuwabara’s brow. 

The human was asleep, but not resting peacefully.

Their latest encounter, with yet another power-hungry demon bent on destroying the earth, or causing general chaotic panic towards the human race, had left them all tired and injured. But it was Kuwabara. who had broken his ribs, and nearly drowned when he was tossed off a cliff into raging waters, and now lay fitfully next to the fire. Fever had sit in very quickly, and the little wheezy breath his lungs were making, made everyone anxious.

It was late in the night, and currently Hiei’s turn to watch Kuwabara and make sure the human actually remained among the living throughout the night.

Now, with his hand on Kuwabara’s brow, the jumping feeling in his stomach had halted, and Hiei let out a breath he had not been aware he’d been holding. His frown felt less severe, and the furrow in his brow smoothed out.

Good. Kuwabara’s fever had broken… good.

Bad.

Hiei was fond of this tall, lumbering, loud-mouthed, annoying, idiot! 

Bad. Bad. Very bad.

“Dammit,” Hiei muttered trying to force the accursed feeling of affection back down into the darker depths of his heart.

But the looseness about his heart persisted, and Hiei’s hand remained on Kuwabara’s brow, a thumb absently stroking the smooth skin, and willing what little comfort he hoped he could provide.

Chapter Text

Hiei had seen people age, humans specifically. 

Demons aged too, but not as aggressively as it seemed humans aged. Genkai seemed awfully young, to be so wrinkled when they met, but then again maybe he was wrong. Maybe humans started earlier than he knew. He’d never known a lot of humans intimately before, and even now that he did know them... he never thought to ask.

He was surprised when she died too, not even at a first century.

It was also surprising how none of the humans seemed surprised by this. She had been, “old,” but that was not old for a demon. Hiei was twice her age when she passed. Still, he didn't think to ask about the life expectancy of humans.

Hiei’s involvement with humans had changed pretty rapidly, thanks to the meddling of Yusuke Urameshi, and “community service,” assigned to him from Koenma. While Hiei had not wanted to get to know humankind so intimately… it had its usefulness.

Friendship was not a bad thing, as long as he wasn’t forced to admit to it.

He found his sister, and eventually, they were able to be together… and that could also be in thanks to the humans… the ill and the good. 

(He’d not admit to that either…)

And surprisingly, slowly, he found his love among the humans too; in a place, he wouldn’t have looked, in a person he wouldn’t have expected. But who in their right mind expects to fall in love with Kazuma Kuwabara?

(Many tell Hiei it’s easy to do, and he says they’re all crazy, and yet here he is…)

But he’d forgotten about the surprising rapidness in which humans aged… he had forgotten about the question he hadn't bothered to ask.

So one day when he looked at his lover’s face, and noticed a wrinkle, Hiei was baffled.

“What’s that?” Hiei accused, smoothing a thumb over a brow line in Kuwabara’s forehead, that just wouldn’t smooth out.

Kuwabara looked perplexed, reading glasses balanced on his nose, “What?”

“This!” Hiei snorted, smoothing out the line on Kuwabara’s brow.

Kuwabara sighed, and pushed Hiei’s hand away. Sitting up straighter, he leaned over and looked at his reflection in a mirrored lamp, (an ugly thing gifted on their wedding day that Kuwabara refused to throw out) Kuwabara had been using to grade his student’s papers. He was going to have to grade on a curve, or go over atoms again. Something hadn’t stuck with those kids…

“Do you mean my wrinkle?” Kuwabara asked, guffawing and smacking Hiei’s arm with a stack of paper.

Hiei glared back at him.

Kuwabara laughed again, “I’m thirty-seven! I’m about that age when you start wrinkling… shoot I have gray hairs already!” He clicked his tongue at Hiei, and looked back to his papers.

Hiei stopped him, a hand flat on the current page Kuwabara was looking at. When Kuwabara met his eyes, Hiei glared and expressed, “Isn’t that too young for a human to wrinkle?”

“No!” Kuwabara sputtered, and with no ill-intention muttered, “I’ve lived three years longer than my mom even did… a wrinkle is no big deal.”

Hiei’s expression went slack, and he paled. Kuwabara pulled his reading glasses off and reached for Hiei, realizing something was wrong, “Hiei?”

“You… you can die so young? Naturally?” Hiei whispered.

Kuwabara didn’t know how to answer. His first instinct was to say no, his mom’s death wasn’t natural, but then again that wasn’t what Hiei was realizing. Hiei knew these things, knew this about humans… and it occurred to Kuwabara, that perhaps Hiei had been leaving Kuwabara out of the human life expectancy.

“…You didn’t realize aging and death applied to me too, did you?” Kuwabara asked, voice sad, guilty, and a little helpless.

Hiei had thought about again... he had not thought to ask about the human life expectancy. Or perhaps, deep down, he'd been too scared to ask.

Hiei swallowed, and cupped the back of Kuwabara’s neck, unable to say anything back. He pressed the man against his chest, and Kuwabara wrapped his arms tight around Hiei and pulled him into his lap. His students’ homework was crushed, and Kuwabara decided to just give them all C’s and be done with it.

This hug was more important right now.

Kuwabara crushed Hiei to him unsure of how to comfort his lover, unsure of what to say.

Hiei wondered if this was another cruel joke the world was playing on him. He looked down at the top of Kuwabara's head, spotting several of the aforementioned gray hairs. He tugged Kuwabara’s hair beneath his hands and pressed his face into the once coppery curls, now rusted over with time.

Hiei closed his eyes and held Kuwabara tight, unable to voice the sheer magnitude of loss he was feeling, as the sands of time slipped through his fingers, taking Kuwabara with it. 

And Kuwabara wasn’t even gone yet… but he would be one day.

And that would be many days, months, years, and centuries before it was Hiei's time.

Hiei held Kuwabara harder, his arms full of his husband, but his heart, alone.

Chapter Text

Yusuke

 

She was not feeling her best when Shuuichi first brought over Yusuke. Her memories of him then were hazy, but something about him had felt right, so she had smiled when she greeted him. After all, her son hardly ever brought any friends by... so she suspected this person was rather good if her son was introducing him to her.

Months later, her illness gone in a blink of an eye, she felt her hunch was right.

Two large men were blocking her way trying to deny her access to a road. She was just trying to get home, but some people could be rather bothersome. With a sigh, she shifted her heavy grocery bag, and politely, but sternly informed the men, the road was for public use, and she needed to use it to walk home. Her very reasonable excuse seemed to make them laugh, but they silenced themselves as hands clamped down on their shoulders.

The hands squeezed, and the two men dropped to their knees, and the boy her son had first introduced her to, appeared in her field of view.

"Oh! You're... You're Shuuichi's friend!" Shiori had gasped, smiling at the young man, "Oh, I'm terribly sorry, but I can't quite recall..."

"Yusuke Urameshi... ma'am!" He said, blurting the last part quickly. He smiled, squeezing the mens' shoulders tight, and they trembled beneath him, making tiny little groaning sounds between clamped lips.

"Yes, that's right!" Shiori laughed, "How are you?"

"I'm doing very well ma'am! I just happened to see these two hasslin' ya. I'll have a talk with them about obstructing other people's way... why don't you head on home? I'm sure K... Shuuichi is waiting to see you. Or do you need help? Is it okay for you to be carrying all that?"

Shiori laughed, adjusting her bags, and walked past the young boy, "Oh, don't you worry, I'm doing much better than when we met the first time! Exorcise is good for me! Thank you Yusuke, for helping me, and thank you for offering to talk to these two about blocking the road! Please stop by our home some time, I'll make you dinner!"

Yusuke grinned, "Oh, well next chance I get." He squeezed the two mens' shoulders again, and they seemed to tremble beneath his grasp. She thought it odd but shrugged it off. She really needed to get home. Shuuichi was still so protective since her release from the hospital.

"Good-bye Yusuke, please do come by some time!"

"Of course ma'am, glad you're feeling better!" Yusuke called back and tugged the two large men out of her sight.

She smiled all the way home. He was a good polite boy it seemed like. Nice to know her son was making such good friends!

 

Kuwabara

 

Shiori met Kazuma Kuwabara a few months after she'd met Yusuke. He was a little roughed up, and Kurama had brought him over, to gather a bag he needed. Both of them looked a little roughed up, she noted when she scanned her son after prying her eyes away from his very tall friend.

"Shuuichi... who is this?" She asked, hands on her hips, and a brow raised.

Her son jumped. He hadn't realized she was home.

"Oh... erm... Mother..." He squirmed.

Her brow raised further. Her son had been up to something.

The tall young man, snapped to attention at the sound of her voice. His hands pressed to his sides, and stiffly, he bowed low to her, "Good evening ma'am. I'm Kazuma Kuwabara, sorry for the sudden intrusion."

Shuuichi was looking at the taller boy like he'd sprouted another head.

Shiori couldn't help but smile. She chuckled, and gently appraised both boys' faces, "Well, it's clear you've been fighting... not each other I hope!"

Kuwabara laughed a little nervously, but Shuuichi cleared his throat, struggling to recover, "We... were not fighting... each other..." the last part had been said with some reluctance.

"We were helping out Yusuke ma'am. He got himself into a bit of trouble, but I swear it was a necessary fight!" Kuwabara said honestly, again Shuuichi looking at him as if he'd sprouted another head.

Shiori laughed and pat her son's cheek, "I see... well as long as everyone is alright."

"He will be, he just needs to rest," Kuwabara said again, relieved she wasn't mad.

Shuuichi looked amazed.

Shiori laughed at her son's shock, "Your mother wasn't born yesterday! Sometimes boys get into fights... but please be careful! And if I hear you were picking on someone, we'll have words... but you should defend yourself and your friends when they're in trouble! Take good care of Yusuke!"

Shuuichi nodded, adjusting the bag they needed, and muttered, "Yes... of course."

"Stop by anytime Kuwabara," Shiori called after them, the larger young man pausing to wave as he ran off. His arms was hugging his side, and she wondered if he was okay. From the way he was holding himself, it looked like his ribs were hurt.

As they rushed off, Shiori thought it was nice to see her boy making such lively, and polite friends. He was a good boy, but sometimes she worried he was a loner. He was always so serious... it was nice to think he'd made some friends. And as long as her son wasn't getting himself killed, who cared about a fight or two. Back in her day, she'd been the co-leader of a girl gang. She wondered if she still had the long skirt and the jacket, and how Shuuichi might react if showed them to him...

 

Hiei

 

Shiori was having a rather nice time with her boyfriend, now fiance, Kazuya when a thump caught his attention.

He pulled away from Shiori's seeking lips to ask, "What was that?"

"Oh, that was probably Hiei," Shiori muttered, breathless and eager.

"Who?" Kazuya asked half-heartedly, his gaze lingering on Shiori's flushed lips.

"Oh, it's a friend of Kurama's who sneaks in to talk to him. He's short and wears all black. He's hard to miss when you see him... I've heard his name in mention from Kuwabara and Yusuke, Shuuichi's other friends," Shiori cupped her lover's face, "I think he's Shuuichi's boyfriend or something." She leaned in for another kiss, Kazuya dopily going along.

He jolted away from her after a second, "B-boyfriend?"

"Yes, maybe. I'm not sure," Shiori hummed, and then crossly asked, "Why? Does that matter?"

Kazuya blanched, "oh! Oh, no, not at all just... shouldn't I... Shouldn't I talk to this Hiei? Make sure he's good enough for Shuuichi? What if he's mean to your son? What if he's not good enough?"

Shiori's smile returned, "I'm sure my son can handle it..." She pushed Kazuya down, "Now, take off your shirt."

As Kazuya flushed and fumbled with his buttons, she wondered when a good time would be to tell her intended, her son was possibly a demon?

Kazuya's shirt came off, and she decided that should come later.

Much later.

Chapter Text

Hiei glares at the plate shoved in front of his face, “What is this?”

“It’s a sandwich. You’ve been over here, four hours, it’s past lunchtime, Kurama and Yusuke still aren’t back… eat the grilled cheese,” Kuwabara sighs, eyebrows knitted together with concern, and some annoyance.

Hiei glares at it, “I don’t need human food.”

“What, would you like a finger or something? I don’t need all ten,” Kuwabara says, meaning for it to be a joke.

Irritably, it makes Hiei feel a little guilty instead.

Hiei takes the sandwich, “You’re not my food,” he mutters, refusing to look at Kuwabara’s smile.

Kuwabara laughs, setting the plate on the floor near Hiei, “I know, I’m kidding.”

Hiei takes a bite of his sandwich, hoping Kuwabara never asks seriously about some meals Hiei has had, and preferred. The taste stops Hiei’s thoughts.

He takes another bite, his eyes wide.

“Wait,” He mumbles, almost embarrassed his mouth is so full, “What is this?”

Kuwabara, lingering just outside the kitchen, tilts his head, “It’s a grilled cheese. Two slices of bread, some mozzarella and some munster.”

Hiei remembers to swallow, but asks, “What?”

Kuwabara laughs, looking a little bewildered, “It’s two different types of cheese, Hiei. You’ve had cheese before… right?”

Hiei takes another, larger bite, and Kuwabara just gawks at him a moment. Grinning Kuwabara says, “Hold on.”

Hiei finishes his sandwich and Kuwabara sets down a tray in front of him with different blocks of what, Hiei assumes, is cheese. Hiei looks at Kuwabara, and Kuwabara waves at the tray, “Have at it. I’ll answer any questions.”

Hiei goes for a small slice of something white with holes in it. Maybe there’s something to be said about human food after all.

Chapter Text

Kuwabara had been standing there, the demon assassin’s hands around his throat, and then with a spark of energy, he wasn’t. 

The spark had started from Kuwabara’s hand, Yusuke had seen that much. A separate spark had also started from the demon, Hiei had seen that spark. And Kurama had seen the shine of those two sparks with they touched one another.

No one expected the explosion.

The ground had cratered, Yusuke, Kurama, and Hiei had been thrown back, trees had broken apart, and there in Kuwabara’s place, holding the head of the assassin was a much older, human man.

He was tall, Well toned for his age, which had to be something in the later fifties, with silver hair cut short at the sides, but a long slightly swooping fringe. Speckles of copper flecked his hair, which was the same with his slightly grizzled scruff around his jaw. 

As Yusuke, Kurama, and Hiei gathered themselves, he threw the head down, and sighed, rolling his neck, and arching his back until both popped.

“Hey boys, I need to speak to Koenma,” Kuwabara, a much older, and much stronger, Kuwabara said, a familiar goofy grin slipping easily onto his face.

“What?” Hiei and Kurama gasped.

“...the FUCK?!” Yusuke added, jogging to stare at Kuwabara first.

The older Kuwabara, laughed, slapping Yusuke hard on the back, causing the younger man to stumble, and the rub his arm.

“Nice ta see you guys again,” Kuwabara laughed, reaching into his front pocket, and slipping on a pair of glasses, which he balanced on his nose.

The look, suited him.

 


 

The older man, who they confirmed to be Kuwabara, based off spiritual awareness, scent, and instinct, (Hiei, Kurama, and Yusuke, respectively) did not answer any more questions. He only asked to speak to Koenma, and when they finally obliged to take Kuwabara to Koenma, he hooked an arm around Koenma’s shoulders, and like an old friend led the demi-god into his office, so the two could have a private talk.

After an hour, the two came outside and Koenma awkwardly shrugged, “Well... this is Kuwabara... the younger... er... our Kuwabara is in the future, but will be back in a week... and for now, this older Kuwabara is here. He can’t tell us, well he can’t tell you,” Koenma swept his finger over the three demons, and Botan snooping nearby, “What’s going on, but that the matter will resolve itself in a week.”

“...Wait. Kuwabara’s time-jumped, and swapped with his future self, and we don’t even get to know what’s going on?!” Yusuke burst, looking angry and put-out.

“But is he alright?” Kurama asked, ignoring Yusuke’s outburst, “We were fighting that assassin,”

“And that was his head I was holding,” Kuwabara interrupted, his eyes crinkling as he smiled, “I took care of that. Don’t worry, the younger me is going to be okay. Trust me.”

Hiei glared at Kuwabara, and the older man winked at him. Hiei made a face, and Kuwabara laughed, “Oh you boys, are just going to hate this week.”

“Oh God... are you going to start calling us whippersnappers?” Yusuke groaned, cringing into his shoulders.

Kuwabara laughed, and hooked an arm around Yusuke, “How about Sonny?”

While oddly comforted by the familiar aura this Kuwabara was putting off, Yusuke still couldn’t put the scene from earlier out of his mind. His best friend had been at that demon’s mercy... and then... gone.

He shrugged the older Kuwabara off, and continued to speak, “We’re just going to believe this? Believe that this Kuwabara is telling the truth, and that our Kuwabara is okay, somewhere lost out in the future?!”

Koenma sighed, “Look... we can’t say anything because this could cause time to get all fucking screwy! You’ve read comics, you’re a delinquent, you know how this works!” Koenma sputtered, Yusuke trying to look offended.

“True as that accusation is, we’re just leaving Kuwabara lost in the... where the fuck ever, while we’re stuck with grandpa Kuwabara?!” Yusuke growled, still not satisfied.

“What’s wrong with Grandpa Kuwabara?” Kuwabara asked, smiling even as Yusuke turned to glare at him.

“Yusuke, you know this is Kuwabara. There’s no reason he would tell me the things he did and those things be untrue,” Koenma said. He sighed, running his fingers through his hair, “There’s no reason not to trust Kuwabara... but we can’t know what’s going on with the future. Or well... you all can’t. I’m a God, I can learn whatever the fuck I want...”

Koenma coughed, covering up his laugh when he realized the others weren’t amused, “Look. Old or not, this is Kuwabara. and I trust him. If he says to wait, I think we should wait... What about you?”

Kurama nodded his head quietly, Hiei turned away indifferently, and Yusuke pulled a face, sulking with annoyance and concern he was trying to squash. 

Kuwabara put his hands in his pockets, and rocked on his heels, “The younger me is fine, really he is, Trust me, I do know. So... who’s house am I crashin’ at first?”

Chapter Text

Kuwabara, seated at Kurama’s dining table, casually looked out at his friends. 

Yusuke was playing a video game at the t.v., sitting way too fucking close for the grown man that he was. Kurama was on the couch, pouring over his step-father’s business transactions, seeking to organize them. And Hiei was seated on the other end, boredly watching Yusuke.

Getting up, Kuwabara went to stand by the open window, blocking it effectively. 

He nodded... the scene was set.

“So...” Kuwabara began suddenly, “Yukina asked me to look for her brother, and I said I’d give it a try.”

As expected, everyone in the room reacted.

Hiei’s eyes widened, and his back stiffened. Kurama tore one of the papers he was reading, granted he only tore it a little. Yusuke’s character died on screen, and Kuwabara could practically see him sweating from here.

Kuwabara smirked. So far... everything was going as he expected.

“Oh... d-did you?” Kurama asked, the first to recover, smiling at Kuwabara, while Yusuke shot Hiei a concerned look.

Hiei had already looked at the window, and received an innocent grin from Kuwabara.

Hiei looked away.

His exit of choice, was effectively blocked.

‘Geeze it’s so obvious. Why didn’t I notice as a teenager?’ Kuwabara thought, keeping his face perfectly blank.

He nodded, continuing to smile innocently, “Yeah, I’m not sure what I can do... but my spiritual abilities have increased, so I’m going to at least follow a lead she has.”

Kurama looked suspicious.

Yusuke, ignoring his game completely, turned and asked a little too loudly, “Oh yeah... what lead is that?”

Hiei’s hand was digging into the arm of the couch.

“Oh... well she wants me to ask Toya,” Kuwabara says, waiting again, for his friends to react.

They’re all looking at him halfway through Toya’s name.

“Is that such a good idea?!” Yusuke is the first to say.

Kurama follows next, but almost on top of Yusuke’s words, “I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”

Hiei remains sitting stiffly, but he is looking at Kuwabara from the side.

Kuwabara forces himself to remain neutral, “Ah, what are you all worried about? I can travel to and from the Makai with ease now. And Toya is an ice demon of some sort! He’s no Koorime, but he might have a really good lead to find Yukina’s brother!”

Kuwabara smiles as he lies through his teeth.

Kuwabara knows who Yukina’s brother is. He is the asshole sitting stiffly on the couch, looking at Kuwabara without, “looking at Kuwabara.” Kuwabara also knows, that since their last match at the Makai tournament, where Kuwabara actually beat Toya in their match... that the former shinobi has a crush on him.

A huge, rather obvious, a little cringy, crush on Kuwabara, that has made his overprotective friends... well protective.

And Hiei... maybe a little something more, if Kuwabara isn’t hoping for too much.  

Toya has been sending Kuwabara ice flowers. Little strange trinkets. Polished bone. Furs from skinned animals. Gems the size of eggs. Toya had also made many excuses to come see Kuwabara, at many hours of the day. The strangest after Kuwabara got off of his night class at eleven p.m. 

Hiei had interrupted many of those meetings, no excuses given. It had been strange to be a six-foot tall man to be sandwiched between two demons, not even 5 feet, in dead absolute silence. Shy love from one side, and radiating aggressive heat from the other.

It did give Kuwabara hope though.

He had to ignore that for now. This was about helping Yukina.

“But hasn’t he been a little... extra friendly towards you lately?” Kurama asks hurrying to set his papers down.

Kuwabara checks his watch, “Ah! I gotta go, I promised to help Shizuru grocery shop. But I’ll be in the Makai a few days after tomorrow... so just let me know if any of you guys want to come along.”

Kuwabara pushed away from the window, and pretends not to notice Yusuke and Kurama practically scrambling to stop him, to have a private word.

They don’t know he has already rejected Toya, clearly explaining he likes someone else, and that he really has no plans to meet Toya. He is hoping, that if things go well, he won’t even need to goto the Makai, “to look for Yukina’s brother.” But if in saying so causes his friends to panic, in particularly Hiei, Kuwabara is willing to be a little devious, to get Yukina want she wants.

Hiei to admit he’s her brother.

And if this also makes Hiei hover around Kuwabara a little more... well Kuwabara won’t complain.

Kuwabara opens the door, “But I’ll see you later guys! I’ll be at Toya’s home, in his territory by tomorrow. Give me a call tonight if you guys want to help me find Yukina’s brother!”

He shuts the door on Kurama and Yusuke’s panicked expression, and ignores the shock of hurt in his heart, as Hiei glares at him from the couch.

He holds the door closed an extra moment, and lets out a deep breath, before walking briskly away from Kurama’s family home. Quietly, he tells himself he’s doing this for Yukina. He also tells himself his friends deserve a little deception for not being honest to him about Hiei and Yukina from the start... since they all clearly know, but him.

That old hurt, helps Kuwabara get over his guilt.

It also helps, that he can feel Hiei following after him, and Kuwabara heads for a private part of Kurama’s neighborhood, to allow Hiei to confront him.

Chapter Text

Kuwabara turns down a quiet street, something halfway between a dark alley and just an empty neighborhood street, waiting for Hiei to confront him. He’s a third of the way down the street when he hears footsteps behind him, and Kuwabara turns assuming he’s going to see the shorter demon who has been following him since he left Kurama's.

The person he turns to see is short, but not who Kuwabara had been thinking about.

“T-Toya?” Kuwabara sputters, stomach twisting anxiously at the sight of him. 

He hadn’t been expecting to see him.

He had been banking on not seeing him.

The whole reason Kuwabara had lied about visiting Toya, was to make his friends panic, and that would be a moot point of Toya was just fucking here--

“Kuwabara,” Toya greets, looking surprised to see Kuwabara turn around to face him. Toya's face flushes a little as he looks up at Kuwabara. His eyes even looked a little starry-eyed.

‘Ah, geeze... Mitarai used to look at me like that... wait... did he have a crush on me?’ Kuwabara blinked away that thought because he couldn’t unpack that right now. 

Instead, Kuwabara smiled, and awkwardly asks, “What... brings you here?”

“I know you have rejected my advances... but I was hoping to perhaps talk to you about your decision, and if nothing else... try to get to know you better,” Toya says in one breath.

It’s the most words Kuwabara has ever heard him say at once. While not as stoic and aggressively quiet as Hiei, Toya was soft-spoken and used his words carefully. If Kuwabara thought about it, Toya was like the good twin to Hiei’s bad twin.

‘No, Yukina’s the good twin... Toya... just has a few similarities to Hiei. That’s all,’ Kuwabara corrects himself. Wistfully looking at Toya’s soft expression, Kuwabara can’t help but think he’s the cheap copy that Kuwabara could use to replace Hiei with.

Kuwabara would never bring himself so low to do something so unkind. He feels guilty even thinking about it.

Kuwabara approached Toya, his hands awkwardly in his pockets. He's nervous and unsure of what to do in the face of Toya's unexpected arrival. He stops in front of Toya, leaving a square cement block of sidewalk between them, a little over a foot of space. The space is intentional, so as not to lead Toya on any further than Kuwabara is worried he already has.

If he has led Toya on... he's not sure. Does beating a demon in a tournament count as flirting? Maybe he should look that up... Where do you look stuff like that up? Is there a book about understanding demon relations yet? Someone should get on that...

Kuwabara saves that for later.

“I’m not against us hanging out more... but do you think we should do that right now? I think, given our conversation last time... maybe we should put some space between us?” Kuwabara suggests awkwardly.

He had never rejected anyone romantically before Toya. Well, there was a little girl in grade school who he rejected when he was little. But he hadn’t understood returning her crayons was him rejecting her feelings. He had, at his tender age, not understood that her sharing her favorite crowns was her declaration of love. Kuwabara had just wanted to color his cat yellow, and she had the color and he didn't.

Toya closed the space between them, “I just wanted to discuss that I was not confessing my feelings cheaply or temporarily. I was... and am very serious about my affection for you.”

Kuwabara feels bad.

He should have been plainer last time he rejected Toya. He doesn’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings if he can help it. 

He takes a step back putting that sidewalk square of space between them again, “I understand that. I don’t think you like me flippantly or anything like that... I believed you when you told me,” Kuwabara sighs, embarrassed to have to do this again. “I’m just... I’ve liked someone for a long time... and I need to tell them. And until I say something to them... I don’t think I can let anyone else in my heart. I’m sorry.”

Toya looks disappointed, but he smiles, seeming to like Kuwabara’s answer, even if it is another rejection.

“You are a very good man Kazuma Kuwabara. And whoever the subject of your feelings is... you should say something. It is good to get it off your chest... even if the answer is not the one you hoped for.”

Kuwabara looks at Toya feeling like a heel, and desperately hopes he’s right. 

He’s really not sure. Kuwabara is used to proudly and loudly declaring his love. But ever since Kuwabara realized his budding attraction for Hiei, all the human warrior has wanted to do was turn his love inward, and hide it away. There is a bitter voice in him that says he is not deserving of Hiei’s love. It's the voice he heard when he was a teenager that he was stupid, or slow.

It is Hiei's voice.

And even if Hiei has long stopped saying those things, it is his past disgust that makes Kuwabara feel unworthy next to his friends in the present.

‘I mean... if they wouldn’t tell me about Hiei’s sister... there is no way they'd take me seriously about Hiei. HIei would never... Hiei... thinks I’m a goon and a fool... there’s no way he’d be anything but disgusted,’ Kuwabara thinks sadly, and knows his sadness shows on his face. He can't hold it in anymore today.

Toya looks stricken by Kuwabara's open sadness. 

He takes a half step forward, “Kuwabara-”

Hiei lands between them.

The shock of it stops Kuwabara’s downward spiral into the insecurities. Toya has to step back, arching his back and twisting uncomfortably to avoid a collision with Hiei. It is an ungrateful stumble backwards, and there is a flash or mortification as he steps away.

Hiei is in a deep squat and only rises when Toya has secured his footing. Hiei turns to look at Toya, and while Kuwabara can’t see it, he knows based off Toya’s expression, Hiei is glaring.

“When someone steps away from you, that is a polite signal to give them space,” Hiei’s hand lands on the hilt of his sword, “I can be less polite.”

 Toya sets his jaw, and the hot spring day, is suddenly getting chilly.

Kuwabara puts his hand on Hiei’s shoulder, “Hiei! Stop!”

Hiei turns to look at Kuwabara his expression blank, but his eyes ablaze with anger, and a mix of emotions that Kuwabara doesn’t fully understand. He can’t help but be impressed, that those eyes would have so much emotion, when his face is so blank.

It’s a good mask.

Kuwabara wonders what else he can hide.

Hiei’s hand curls around Kuwabara’s wrist, secure, and firm. He’s warm, and it cuts through the cold radiating from Toya. Kuwabara can feel his ears grow hot, and knows his pulse is racing beneath Hiei's fingertips. It's pointless to hope Hiei doesn't notice. Hiei turns and tugs Kuwabara after him as he makes a hasty retreat away from Toya.

Kuwabara trails after Hiei, all too eager to follow.

He does not dare look back at Toya, embarrassed that he might see where Kuwabara’s heart lies.

Chapter Text

Kurama is reading a book for the business college course he is taking. It's a little dull, but the author has some amusing puns, and anecdotes, so the book isn't all bad. It’s such a lovely autumn day, he decided to read outside on one of the campus’ benches, adding to the pleasantness of the day.

Yusuke has joined him to have lunch and hang around, though currently, Yusuke is engaged with his third fistfight in the past fifteen minutes.

“You’re too fucking hot for your own good!” Yusuke says, panting a little as the large campus jock runs for his life, after he can pick himself up of course. Kurama is mildly impressed they could get up at all, after a skirmish with Yusuke.

Kurama doesn’t look up from his book, “What ever do you mean?”

“That’s the third guy who has come over here, saying all sorts of Nasty shit at ya, and you...” Yusuke waved a hand frantically enough at Kurama to get the fox's attention, “Just sit there and ignore it!”

Kurama puts a bookmark in his book, and closes it with a smart ‘snap.’

“Why shouldn’t I just sit here and ignore it?” Kurama asks, tilting his head to the side a little. He knows Yusuke likes it when he does. Can tell from the blush on his cheeks he is finding Kurama rather endearing right now.

Despite his blush, Yusuke looks baffled at Kurama's question, “You’re just going to sit there, and let them say gross stuff to ya, and leave me to do all the ass-kicking?”

Kurama smiles, “But you like fighting.”

Yusuke opens his mouth, and narrows his brows, but only a confused and contemplative, “...Huh,” slips past his lips.

Kurama smiles, and gives Yusuke a flirtatious wink, “You’re welcome.”

Yusuke flushes, and shoves his hands in his pockets, muttering, “Ya still shouldn’t let them say gross stuff about you!”

“And normally I don’t... but you’re here, and I know you can take care of it for me,” Kurama says opening his book back up, pausing to look at a young man standing diagonally behind Yusuke.

The man is clearly appreciating one of Yusuke’s finer assets: his ass. But as that belongs to Kurama, and he doesn’t like to share, he narrows his eyes and contemplates getting up. Kurama is a handy fighter too after all.

But...

He really is quite comfortable on this bench though... and his book was just getting interesting. And the weather is perfect, if he fights, it'll get too warm. But that man eying Yusuke up and down can't just be allowed to exist... An idea formulates in Kurama's head, and he smiles.

“Speaking of gross things... there’s a man behind you diagonally to your left. He’s the one who knocked Kuwabara down the stairs yesterday, when Kuwabara was trying to get to class.”

"I knew that wasn't him being clumsy! I told him some asshole was being a shit!" Yusuke hisses immediately. With his lips pursed tight, his face flushed, and his eyes glowing with a protective rage, Yusuke's head whips around to look behind him, startling the man who had just been admiring him.

“YOU! C’mere!”

“W-What? What I do! Hey! I-I was just looking!”

Kurama smiles to himself, delighting in his lover’s violent outburst. He returns to his book.

Yusuke has his way of fighting... and Kurama has his. Either way, the job gets done, and they are both left satisfied after.