A Yuyu Hakusho fan fiction story
Disclaimer: All characters used in this fanfic (save some others) are the rightful property of Yoshishiro Togashi, Shueisha, Fuji TV and St. Pierrot. Don't sue me please, I'm very poor.
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Chapter 2: Seedlings
It was a simple enough question. Simple, straightforward, to the point if one could ignore the subject in question. That would be about as easy as ignoring a dancing pink elephant.
"Hee-hee! Pink ele-- I mean No, I haven't seen him."
Keiko Yukimura tilted her head and stared peculiarly at the silly curly-haired youth. Honestly, sometimes she simply could not understand what was going on in that head of his.
Kuwabara Kazuma heaved an exasperated sigh at the cute brown-haired girl. Why was it that cute girls like her tended to be so slow on the uptake? Wasn't it obvious? There was only one simple answer to her question anyway; Yusuke. Couldn't get any simpler than that. Yusuke.
"Where could he be?" Keiko asked, failing to hide the look of concern on her face.
"Keiko-chan, you have to understand that Yusuke's a big boy now," Kuwabara said, gesturing his hands in a wide arc to demonstrate his point. "He punches out monsters like they were fluffy pillows-- with frills! He also discovered that he was a demon hybrid of some sort; and not just any demon, but the descendant of a great Demon Warlord! Honestly, Keiko-chan do you really have to worry about him this much?"
Keiko was speechless, to say the least. He finally got his point across. Maybe a bit too well; he didn't actually expect this sort of reaction.
Keiko carefully recollected the words. Demons monsters warlords .
"IYAAAAHH!!! Kuwabara, what sort of a mission is he in this time?!" Keiko articulated, using even wider, more threatening gestures at the big ugly meanie.
"WHAT?! I w-was Keiko-chan, p-please s-stop s-shaking ."
The young girl relinquished her grapple hold on Kuwabara. "Sorry, Kuwabara but don't scare me like that!" She lightly hit the big lug on the shoulder.
"What? I was only Ah, heck." Kuwabara simply shrugged. Girls who could understand them? "Yusuke can handle himself. You know that."
"I know, I know but that won't stop me from worrying," Keiko tentatively said, her voice subdued. "He left without telling me why Again," she added softly.
"I wouldn't know. He hasn't told me about any new missions. Not that I'd want to get into all that trouble with him again," Kuwabara said, his arms folded to indicate his supposed disapproval. He looked around his surroundings. There was already a crowd forming as they approached the middle of the lunch break. "We better go before we get crowded in."
Keiko simply nodded. Yusuke where have you gone to this time?
Walking back toward the dojo for the umpteenth time after playing "Hell Street 2" for the umpteenth time, Yusuke Urameshi opened the two doors, slammed them shut, moved towards Kurama, and sitting cross-legged, asked for the umpteenth time, "Can you tell me now?"
"Not yet, Yusuke," Kurama said as patiently as only he could, very much akin to a mother gently trying to appease a tedious eight-year-old. He was tempted to wave his finger in á la "kaasan" effect, but laughed at the thought. Though he had not had a childhood where his mother frequently admonished him, he had seen his mother angry before.
"Hello? Human World to Kurama!" Yusuke teased. "We can't wait for those two forever. 'Sides, we're probably in another mission, right? Yet another mission of dire importance that has a deadline or else we're done for?"
"No That is, I don't think so," Kurama tentatively said, more to himself than to Yusuke. "The fact is, Yusuke, I don't think the supposed 'new' mission was a mission at all to begin with."
"Come again?" Yusuke asked in confusion.
"The Spirit World assigned Hiei and me to a mission; a vague reference for an investigation. Now, I'm thinking, 'Why would they do that, instead of informing Yusuke outright'?" the kitsune expounded further, voicing out his earlier worries.
"I see," Yusuke said with his hand on his chin. "Couldn't it be like that time with Hiei? I mean, when they gave that tape to him first so that he could forward it to me so he'd know it was his sister that was kidnapped. We did already talk about this, right?"
"There's more to it than that. Then, Koenma had at least a vague idea of what was going on," Kurama said, going deeper in thought. He remembered the last time Koenma had no idea what he was getting the four spirit detectives into; it was during the time when they fought against the Four Sacred Demons. Koenma was in the Spirit World library trying to find out more about their enemies when Kurama caught him red-handed. It was more than upsetting to know that the Spirit World itself could not handle such matters.
"What are you getting at, Kurama?" Yusuke asked, curiosity getting the better of him.
"What if the Spirit World didn't know what was happening this time? What if they have no idea who this 'entity' is? This certainly wouldn't be the first time," Kurama said, again coming out of his daze. The more he thought about the situation the more uncomfortable he became. In a perfect world, things made sense-- but this was definitely not a perfect world.
"So what you're trying to say is that we're on our own yet again with this mission?" Yusuke said, processing the information he had just received. "That's certainly nothing new."
"And that the Spirit World doesn't think that this is a mission in the first place," Kurama further elucidated, idly holding the empty ceramic teacup. "This so-called entity, for them, simply does not exist."
"Oh. So if the Spirit World itself doesn't think that that thing exists man." Yusuke shook his head.
"I know. It doesn't make sense, at times," Kurama agreed. "We are looking for something we totally have no knowledge about, something that may probably not even exist-- at least it doesn't exist for the Spirit World."
"No, I mean I'm sick and tired of all this 'entity' crap! Doesn't he have a friggin' name or something?"
Kurama stared at Yusuke. Hard. Then he simply laughed and sweatdropped. Yet another "Yusuke-ism" that he had yet to get used to. Yusuke was interesting in that way. "We-ell I suppose we could name him."
" Chuuku," Yusuke offered.
Chuuku hollowness emptiness it certainly had deepness to it, a feeling of symbolism and representation. It could be applied to the enemy: a faceless man, an unknown and mysterious being. "Why 'Chuuku'?"
"It was from the mid-boss in Hell Street 2!!! He was so cool, and his final dark blood attack could almost total your health points by ninety!" Yusuke rambled on, while Kurama sighed in dismay. To expect depth from Yusuke Urameshi was an absurdity.
"Besides the way Hiei described him, Chuuku would probably be an appropriate label," Yusuke further commented.
"Hiei talked to you about it?" Kurama said, both amused and bemused at the same time. "I thought he would simply leave after waking up."
"Ah, hell He gave me a farewell present first," Yusuke grinningly said, motioning toward the plaster on his face which he got on his way toward Genkai's temple. "He was kind of worried about you. I guess that was why he put up with me."
"Oh? Worried?" Kurama jokingly asked. But his features showed that he was only half-joking. "Whatever for, Yusuke?"
"He said that the guy was looking for you," Yusuke said, also taking on a solemn state. "The guy Chuuku said 'It is Minamino Shuichi whom I want.'"
It was as Kurama had thought and feared. His premonitions from earlier -- his worries for his okaasan and his friends -- had been confirmed. What he most feared was not what could happen to him, but what could happen to those who were close to him; that they could be hurt just because of him.
"Kurama, don't worry about it. I'm sure everything will work out," Yusuke said consolingly. Sometimes he kept getting the impression that the older boy thought over situations way too much. "Don't take on all the responsibility. You don't have to carry the whole world on your shoulders; we're all here to help."
"Thank you, Yusuke-kun," Kurama managed to say, worry still evident in his everglade-green eyes. You're more perceptive than I give you credit for, Yusuke-kun, he added to himself, amused.
A gentle knock was heard. The silence that ensued allowed the soft sound to reverberate around the almost-empty dojo. Both teens looked toward the door.
"Urameshi-san, Kurama-san Kazuma-san is here."
Yukina sighed wistfully as she continued her labor. She had been very thankful of Master Genkai's kind hospitality, and continued to be so because of the elder's silent guidance of the ways of the Human World. Even after her kidnapping and her discovery of how inhumane humans could be, the old master had been an antithesis to that, being so kind to her and all.
It had been quite a long time since she had left the Land of the Koorime, her home, for the alien Human World. She had been very frightened at the prospect of leaving her birthplace and home, yet she felt adamant that she needed to go. She continued to miss everyone she had left; the elders, her fellow sister koorime and Rui. Especially Rui.
The young koorime girl suddenly shifted her pace and finished up sweeping the patio. She had hoped her menial toil would at least help take her mind out of certain things, but the fact that the work required little or no reflection had not helped in avoiding her train of thought.
Rui dear sweet Rui; her friend, her big sister, her guardian She had always been there for her, supporting and caring for her ever since her mother died out of grief for the lost stranger that was her brother. Rui, with her own cross to bear, had looked for solace and retribution through the ice maiden. They were both lost and forlorn, wandering aimlessly through the voyage called life. It was as if they needed each other to fill in the gaps in their lives.
Rui who was also the one who caused her to flee from the icy region that was her home toward the foreign land of the humans, and made her leave behind the only woman which she knew as family and the land which she knew was home to find a total stranger. She held back a familiar sense of guilt as she saw the strange mix of hurt and acceptance in the older koorime's face as she confirmed her departure. She had been obstinate about it, but she just couldn't get over that sense of regret and betrayal from making her decision. But she couldn't have done it any other way, especially after learning the truth about her brother.
Brother such a relative term. The young koorime stared at the pile of leaves, looking intently at the foliage but not truly looking at them in the true sense of the word.
Her brother-- the one that continued to be an enigma, a puzzle to be solved. He continued to be a stranger to her, much to her dismay. It was as if she was always kept at bay. It was as if she was constantly pushed away; he was here, somewhere in the Human World, but she had yet to truly reach out to him. No, she hadn't found her brother yet. Not quite yet.
But she was sure he was a great koorime, a brave and honorable warrior. That was her brother. He was here-- somewhere-- lost, but he could be found again. He was in a chasm deeper than the one he was thrown into when he was a baby; a deeper, unreachable, bottomless chasm.
She deeply missed her brother. If only he could just reach out then he wouldn't be so lost. Then she would have truly found her brother.
"YUKINA-CHAN!!! WA-I!!!" was the scream the young koorime heard from a distance. She looked toward the top of the long flight of stairs that reached near the open gates of Master Genkai's residence. She giggled as she realized who it was.
"Kazuma-san, what a nice surprise," the young lady warmly greeted. It was the silly yet adorable young man, Kuwabara Kazuma. She, for some reason, had always been comfortable around the rambunctious but sweet little human. "Urameshi-san and Minamino-san are waiting in the dojo. Would you like a cup of tea?"
"I'm sure it's very delicious, Yukina-chan," Kuwabara grinningly said. He didn't quite know what possessed him to go through another mission with Yusuke-- in fact, he was fairly certain that he was very adamant about not going the minute he read the crumpled letter Yusuke left at his apartment-- but he did know for a fact that he won't let the idiot steal the show and do all the cool stuff. Besides, this was an opportunity to spend some time with the goddess Yukina-chan. "Wai! Very delicious!"
"Yes. Master Genkai made the herbal tea herself, so I'm sure it is," Yukina enthusiastically replied.
"Oh of course eh-heh " Kuwabara said with several mumbles after recovering from his facefault. He didn't notice the sudden uneasiness the ice maiden felt. "Still, it would be an even greater treat by the mere fact that you're serving it, eh, Yukina-chan?"
The young curly-haired boy merely rubbed his head as he discontinued his discourse with the broom.
The ice maiden, on the other hand, was now trotting toward the dojo to announce the new guest's arrival. But she then felt another presence among the shadows of the trees. She could have sworn there was movement over that direction.
Could it be ?
After a brief pause, she continued toward her destination even as an orange-haired youth began to clumsily follow her, professing something about undying love.
"Urameshi-san, Kurama-san Kazuma-san is here," Yukina very shyly said, as she realized she had abruptly ended an apparently urgent meeting. "Sorry for disturbing you both," she very quickly added.
Kurama waved a hand of dismissal. "It's all right, Yukina-chan. Let Kuwabara "
"YUSUKE, YOU IDIOT!!!" shouted a blue and orange blur that suddenly appeared in front of the half-demon human. "Why didn't you tell me we were on a mission?! Keiko-chan was so worried!"
"Who said that we're on a mission?" the raven-haired boy smugly said, but quickly adding, "What did Keiko say?"
"What do you mean we're not on a mission?" said a thoroughly confused Kuwabara. Did that mean there wouldn't be any orgies of fighting? No pummeling of monsters and various other demons into submission? No fun? "Er Keiko-chan said that you were an idiot and that you didn't keep your promise or something."
"I kept my promise because we aren't on a mission!" Yusuke nearly yelled, more to himself than to anyone in particular. "She worries too much, that silly girl Eh, Kuwabara? You okay? You seem to be shaking."
"What do you mean NO MISSION?!" Kuwabara said in deliberate slowness, putting a lot of emphasis on the last two words. "What the hell did I come here for?!"
"Who asked you to come? I didn't tell you anything about this, and you're certainly not invited." Yusuke shrugged. He meant to tell Kuwabara, but why bring that up now? He was in a rush anyway as soon he read the letter.
"I did," Kurama said with certain finality. Both teens immediately became quiet. "I also gave Kuwabara-kun a letter."
"You did?" Kuwabara asked, bewildered. "I didn't Oh, the junk mail ."
There was a collective sigh from almost everyone in the room.
"Idiot," Yusuke affirmed, shaking his head.
"So how'd you know about this meeting?"
Kuwabara shrugged. "Your mother showed me the letter while I was checking on your apartment. Keiko told me to. Call it dumb luck." He was treated with a demonstration of collective head-shaking.
"Don't insult luck."
"Hey! It's not as if I get important mail everyday!" Kuwabara said defensively. He was being humiliated in front of his goddess, something he couldn't live down.
"Yeah Who in their right mind would write to someone as ugly as you?" Yusuke teased, having suddenly decided to instigate a real fight.
"You jackass! I oughta ."
"Enough sit," Kurama said in deadly calm. The two young detectives immediately complied. With a deep breath, the elder kitsune said, "Yusuke Kuwabara we can now start with the meeting. Yukina-chan, would you kindly call Master Genkai? We have urgent matters to discuss."
Yukina bowed politely to the three and then made her way to Master Genkai. Yet another wave of familiarity greeted her on her way out as she again curiously looked at the slight movements behind the shadows of the trees surrounding the compound. She paused for the briefest of moments before returning to her pace.
"Eh what about Hiei?" Yusuke asked, puzzled. He thought everyone was supposed to be in the meeting.
"What about him?" Kuwabara harrumphed, not at all liking the prospect of the pompous, self-righteous know-it-all bastard in the same room with him.
"Oh yeah you haven't heard the whole story yet." Yusuke smacked his fist on his palm as a gesture of his realization. "Hiei got beat up badly," he simply added.
"You're kidding me, right? Don't tell me it's another powerful demon out for revenge on Hiei or something?" Kuwabara said, finding the whole thing too incredible for him to swallow. Though he didn't and wouldn't actually admit it to anybody, he was a bit uncomfortable with the fact that the master of the Kokuryuha had been actually beaten up. Few people could, at this point in time. Maybe Yusuke was merely exaggerating.
Yusuke smugly noted the false bravado of Kuwabara slip a moment at the mention of Hiei being "beaten up". "Yup. He was beaten up like a little puppy. Heard that even with the power of the Kokuryuha, the little demon was no match against the guy."
"What what was he?" Kuwabara asked seriously. If it was another Shinobu Sensui or Toguro, then he was definitely in on the mission, no matter what. He didn't notice that he absently shuddered at the thought.
"No one knows," Yusuke said, shrugging. "He didn't even give a name. We're calling him 'Chuuku' for now."
"Okay " Kuwabara tentatively said, though he did have a strange afterthought about fighting games all of a sudden.
"I'll be briefing you with the details of our last encounter, Kuwabara-kun," Kurama reassured.
"What about Hiei?" Yusuke insisted. It wasn't that he wanted the violent fire demon with them; he just had trouble letting go of an issue once it was denied resolution.
"He's already here," Kurama plainly replied, leaving it at that.
From a distance overlooking the dojo of the old woman, Hiei waited among the shadows of the woodland surrounding his current location. He knew the kitsune was up to something, calling up this so-called meeting. He couldn't really care less about it that was, except for .
He tensed a bit as he saw Yukina approach near his position. He was already on edge several times as Yukina kept looking toward his direction, seemingly aware of his presence but not actually acknowledging it. He could not help but feel uncomfortable every time he was near her. Did she already know?
Did she already know that her brother was dead?
He silently banished those thoughts from his head as he headed out near the dojo. The senseless talking was about to start, but he knew what he was after and he was ready to get it, no matter what.
A strange deathly calm enveloped Hiei, his eyes becoming two deep, dark pools of crimson that reflected a quiet malice.
"Shall we begin?" Master Genkai, the former carrier of the Spirit Light Gem, queried the three Spiritual Detectives. "This had been dragging on long enough," she added with a smirk.
Kurama drew in an audible breath, seemingly trying to find his center of calm. "Kuwabara, is everything clear to you right now about the previous events?"
The orange-haired teen slowly nodded. "Er we're fighting some guy--"
"Chuuku," Yusuke corrected, with a strange hint of smugness in his tone.
"--Chuuku, and he was powerful enough to wipe the floor with shorty. Um the brat with the pacifier ."
"Lord Koenma," Genkai reproached disapprovingly.
"Yeah, yeah," the large adolescent waved his hand dismissively, not particularly caring for that specific detail. "Well, anyway, the Spirit World doesn't really have a clue about him or it big surprise. So that leaves us ."
" On our own, apparently," Yusuke finished for the curly-haired boy. "So, what have you two got for us, Kurama? Grandma?"
"I thought you'd never ask," the elder woman said with a smirk. Yusuke always found his master's smirk quite disconcerting -- particularly during the segments of their training where she always wore that familiar sneer every time she was up to something. Well he just didn't like it.
"Grandma's gonna tell us a story," Kuwabara whispered over Yusuke's ear before being promptly brained by said grandma. Yusuke, because of his quaint snickering, had his share of the blessing afterwards.
Kurama didn't seem the least perturbed by the two humans' antics. Instead, he wore his familiar mask of calm, his green eyes becoming sharp slits of cunning and intelligence. The same eyes darted back and forth the wide space of the dojo time and time again, evidently expecting something. Or someone.
The Master of the Spirit Waves coughed once to get everyone's attention. Accomplishing this, she now began her discourse.
"You know very little of this entity which attacked Hiei that fateful night. Neither does the Spirit World." She took a sip of her tea. "But I know some information about this 'Chuuku', as you call him."
"So What is he? A demon? A gaki? I heard some of those make lunch out of souls," Yusuke inquired, really getting into the discussion.
"Actually, no." Genkai eyed Kurama a bit. The boy showed surprising calm, even for him. Being the main objective of an undead creature that lied in the physical realm could legitimately warrant even a little distress. "This being, as you're also so fond of calling him, is nothing more than a shattered soul."
Among those present, one absently winced.
"Come again?" Yusuke pensively asked. This was something new.
"Shattered soul? Jeez, ain't that from a lyric of a love song or something?" Kuwabara asked in confusion. It was something that seemed beyond him; demons and spirits were one thing, but a shattered soul? It was something he couldn't even begin to fathom.
"A shattered soul. Our powerful new nemesis was nothing more than an ordinary human -- well, about as ordinary as any of you, anyway," Genkai bluntly said.
"There has been a legend concerning our little friend," Kurama said, out of the blue, finally coming out of his silent reverie. "A legend about a man, a miracle man that had powers to bring the dead out of the grave."
"A miracle man?" Yusuke asked, puzzled. "What do you mean by that?"
"He brought people back to life," Kurama said, a small smirk forming at the corners of his mouth. "Ironic, considering what he is today."
"As the legend tells it, anyway We all know how a word-of-mouth legend can stretch the actual facts out of proportion," Genkai said, finishing up what was left of her beverage before placing the teacup on the floor. As soon as the sound of the ceramic clicking on the floor became audible, Kurama continued the tęte-ŕ-tęte.
"But still, we believe that there's at least a grain of truth within it."
The room was silent. Everyone was contemplating this new piece of information. Kuwabara was still lost with "shattered soul" issue what a horrible thing to happen to someone, even worse than death. Yusuke, on the other hand, was intrigued with the fact that this person may have actually been human, like him well, sort of But still, it provoked some consideration. Kurama was simply observing how the other two detectives took in the facts.
"So what made this so-called miracle man become a ghoul of death?" Yusuke forthrightly asked.
Genkai relaxed as she braced herself in telling the whole story. Kuwabara, at the back of his mind remembered his "Grandma's gonna tell us a story" comment He wisely kept it to himself.
"It all began in a village in the middle of a war, and the person who was made legend because of it "
A vision of carnage filled his entire senses; a sight of dismembered corpses. It was, strangely enough, a sight that could almost induce humor because of its gratuitousness and seeming exaggeration if not for the fact that everything was real -- horribly real.
Body parts were everywhere, piled in such a way that they seemed to have belonged in some perverted meat section in the marketplace. He wished he could close his eyes. It wasn't that he was disgusted, for all he could feel was pity but it was not enough. If it could only have been like a memory only when did memories actually smell of rotting human flesh?
The thought of the stickiness of the ground where he stood only added more to his nausea. Different liquids poured all over the surface of the ground, coming from the makeshift-piled carcasses. He would not even give a second thought about what constituted this disgusting solution from horror, not apathy. The wind was howling a hymn for the dead, a haunting cry that also seemed to come from the mishmash of cadavers, just like the various liquids on the ground.
He could smell death breath death sense death touch death. Death was everywhere. He heard cries from the distance -- friends and relatives? It did not matter. He was only here to do his work. It would be a pity for everyone else, but if there was an off chance that -- there!
Among the decapitated, the mutilated, there she lay. She couldn't have been any more than fourteen, with her short crimson hair. She was covered with blood, but mostly from being piled with so many other corpses. What was important was that she was perfectly intact, he noted clinically to himself.
He summoned from the crowd that was gathered around him. One by one, each had a light of hope that the corpse he had chosen was one of their own. He noted in pity the ones whose eyes were filled with despair as they found the chosen corpse was that of a stranger. Soon, the relatives of the girl were acknowledged. He beamed with joy upon seeing the happy faces of what could have been a brother or a friend and a mother. He began the ceremony.
"He was a miracle man -- actually, a miracle child, since he was nothing more than a little boy at the time -- who was given a special gift: the gift of life. He had the ability to bring people from the brink of death back to life. He was revered as a shaman and as a mystic in his town, and all the people loved him. This was because he lived during a time of war and death; during a time where he could actually give a ray of hope toward a society bleak with carnage and slaughter."
A familiar feeling of warmth enveloped him and the corpse. He felt a kind of peace that was indescribable to him, comparable to nothing else. It was just beyond him; the high he got was so comforting so delicious.
He metaphorically slapped himself for losing concentration. This was for the girl's sake, of course.
He spread the life force all over the young lady's body. He noticed that the bloodstained kimono's freshest source of blood came from her upper body. The cause of the girl's death had been repeated stabs to the chest. He concentrated the precious life source he had gathered toward the aforementioned area and felt it surge from his fingertips to the girl's body.
Slowly, steadily, a warm sensation began to tickle his neck. Was it breathing? It became fast and rapid, almost panicky, and as the color returned into the young girl's face, the aforementioned soon regaining full consciousness. As soon as her soft green eyes stared into his pale violet ones, she became calm; the panic was no more. He cradled her gently; smoothly stroking her fiery red hair, just like the way a mother would cradle a newborn which was kind of how this situation was, in a sense.
Rebirth. Rejoice. A whole plethora of various emotions tickled into his own body, seemingly seeping into him, as if he was sensitive enough to feel what other people felt, whether pain or pleasure. Still, it was merely an outside sensation, a third-person awareness he merely took note of. It could not possibly compare to holding a life-force in his own hands, a spirit with its own consciousness, its own being. He dismissed the rest of his chain of thought as he returned the revived young girl to her ecstatic family.
He was exhausted yet happy, although he was also filled with a cluster of other emotions he knew were not his own. He merely shook his head in pity as he sympathized with the rest of the unfortunate ones. Oh, how he wished that he could resurrect all those who had died in the battle but Lord Enma was a cruel god. Not evil, no but very, very cruel. He turned his back from the jubilant folk. His job here was done.
He then felt an intense sense of gratitude, which was a natural thing, since he had just done one of his "Great Miracles". Yet the intensity it held beckoned him to turn around, even before hearing the words spoken with equal intensity as the feeling that enveloped him.
He saw the young girl's eyes staring back at him with such vibrant life that made him cringe at the thought of its fire ever being snuffed out. He didn't quite understand what made him go forward, what made him tilt his head in a way to gesture the girl to speak.
"Thank you very much," the girl said, courteously bowing down. As she straightened she gave him a timid smile. The blush in her cheeks was apparent, but he set aside the thought as his own imagination, tainted by the range of emotions boiling all around him and not knowing if it was from the general panic of the families of the slain or his own anxiety. "May I please know your name, sir?"
The miracle child didn't quite notice the mother pulling the girl away from him and scolding the young woman for her brashness while the elder herself apologized profusely to him. Nor did he notice the words that spewed forth from his mouth as he himself spoke to respond to the girl's question but he forever etched into his consciousness the next few words the gentle, shy girl told him afterwards
"I'm Asuka Matsui Asuka. I hope to see you again soon."
Within the room inside the dojo, one of its four inhabitants held back a shudder.
"This guy fell in love with one of his er patients? Is that right?" Yusuke said, with a look of disbelief and confusion. "If he was so nice and great during his time, what's with his gothic shtick these days?"
"He wasn't isn't exactly evil. Actually, I see him as more of a victim of circumstance than anything else," Genkai said, taking in a more regal manner as she cleared her throat to speak. "Besides, I'm not quite yet done with the story."
"What happened next, Master Genkai?"
"His crossroads, so to speak ."
Days went by. Days became months, months became years. Soon the reputation of the miracle child spread all throughout the land. Thousands flocked to him during those times of mysticism and spirituality. Many claimed him to be hoax, a fraud, while others attribute his powers to either that of the lesser demons of the Spirit World or that of the Lord of the Dead himself, Lord Enma.
Not that any of it mattered to the young prodigy. He felt he was obliged to help people, and that he had a natural affinity toward life and death, and the human soul. But he also gave his blatant disapproval of war and slaughter during his time. He simply couldn't understand what drove people to destroy something so precious -- so beautiful -- as life. He continued to criticize the war effort and actively sought the more peaceful compromise in the situation of the society of his day. His efforts were highly praised although, unfortunately, they were ultimately futile. It was just human nature.
It saddened him that people treated him as a miracle solution, while his calls for peace were at best tolerated -- patronized, but never taken seriously. All their words of praise and thanks, in the end, were just that; words. The war dragged on for no foreseeable or logical reason except human pride and greed. Although in the end the subversive rebellion -- or so the propaganda of the enemy called it -- came to a finish. There were no more workers left in the fields, and the general consensus of the battered people toward their so-called leader was that of mutual hate. It was a pyrrhic victory in the end. He had told them so.
There would be countless other rebellions, and countless wars -- a never-ending cycle of mass genocide. It was as if the people had a natural berserk trigger in them that sent them into a genocidal frenzy within the guise of fighting for principle and honor.
How very, very sad.
But life goes on. He felt powerless because of the circumstances surrounding the society he lived in, but that was the way it was. People continued to flock to him, even as the war ended. He was even given permission to visit the royal court by the ruler who instigated all the massacres he had healed before. He still felt obliged to continue with his commitments, though he felt rather counterproductive, since he never truly helped the people and he was only delaying what was inevitable in their nature. But that was not the worst of it.
What was worse was that the people were soon becoming anxious and irritable, blaming him for not having the power to save their kind! Soon he was treated like some sort of instrument, like a magical talisman with mystical powers. They were addicted to him, like a drug, and soon were even bringing in the sick and the elderly. He was now being asked to cure a child of a mere cold, while there were people lined up behind him with more important cases! The people had become vain and capricious, taking him for granted. It was quite inevitable that soon it would take a strain on him as well
There was only one person in his whole village, in the whole society where he lived, who truly understood him.
Asuka. Asuka Matsui.
Hiei tensed. A familiar presence was taking shape well within his consciousness, as the strange calm which he felt before suddenly began to envelop him. He mentally sneered.
**You're in too deep, koorime.**
*Let's end this now, shadow-man. Let's stop your little puppet show.*
**This is no puppet show of mine, koorime.**
And there was silence once more from the shadows inside the dojo.
He merely stared at his childhood friend's mirth, and her smile.
"What do you think?" Asuka pouted, indicating feigned irritation with the mischievousness shown in her bright green eyes. "Aw, come on! We don't have all day!"
He stated how heartachingly beautiful she was with her kimono, with her red hair, shortened to the right length, shining in the pale moonlight, the way her smile brightened and warmed the dark, cold night, her girlish figure giving way to a more womanly one as she slowly grew up from mere prettiness to stunning beauty At least he tried, as his words became a whole bunch of gobbledygook while he blushed furiously. He then settled for "nice".
"Well, thank you for that vote of confidence!" the young girl -- woman -- teased. Her bearing and overall appearance made her seem older than she looked, but she was just celebrating her nineteenth birthday today. Today. And he -- the eternal dunce -- completely forgot! Forgot the date of his best friend's birthday!
"Come on! Are you just going to stare all day? We're going to be late for today's festival."
Festival! Her birthday had coincided with the festival! Of course, that was why she was all dressed up not that she shouldn't dress up for any other normal birthday, but this was going to be an extra-special occasion. He scolded himself for thinking of something so woefully obvious as he joined in with his best friend.
He didn't know how it started, Asuka becoming his friend. She was supposed to be just another faceless person among the countless of faceless people that he had saved from the blight of war, disease, or whatnot. He had always been adored and praised by numerous folk but it was something altogether different with Asuka. He remembered what she had said before, about why she was so glad that he was able to save her .
"Mother would have been so heartbroken. I couldn't stand to see her cry."
That was when he realized how different Asuka was from the others -- from all of them.
"The fireworks are so beautiful tonight," Asuka said, gazing toward the bluish-black sky filled with little sparkling gems. The multicolored spectacle further highlighted the whole evening full of goods, games and gimmicks a whole evening of stealing a peek or two of her soft, gentle, beautiful face without looking like a pervert or a total fool.
They should be going back. The Matsui household was preparing a special "surprise dinner" for Asuka Well, it would have been a surprise if not for his big mouth. He was such a terrible liar.
Asuka -- the calm and gentle Asuka, someone compliant and obedient, but not necessarily submissive -- was a highly intelligent young woman. Yes, she was traditional, but she saw fulfillment in leading such a simple and normal life. It mystified him as to why she still spent time with him. Her ideal life and his own life were complete opposites.
"Because you made it all possible: you gave me another chance to live."
That was what she had said about it; or at least that was how he remembered it. He had always felt a certain responsibility for every life he had restored back to the Human World, yet, strangely, he felt an absolute and particular commitment toward Asuka Matsui's life. But why?
He had felt all sorts of feelings all throughout his life; though not necessarily his own, these emotions were very real, and very intense. Sadness despair hopelessness fear jubilance happiness love. Of all the emotions, it was only love that completely mystified him. Love was all about pain, loss, suffering and, strangely enough, contentment, delight and bliss.
Love was the single greatest emotion that contained all aspects of life. Love was all about life: the good and the bad, the anguish and the joy, the negative and the positive. Love beckoned a will in oneself, a will to fulfill love in all its trueness. That was what life was all about; being able to have the will to make one's own choices. Life was about freedom. Love was about will.
In all his life, it was about fulfilling the happiness of others. It was never about him. His obligation was with them, and not with himself.
And he realized how empty his life had been without her.
It was only through his his love for Asuka that he could finally find fulfillment for himself.
One thing he also learned about life was that she was a total bitch.
"Oh Kami, what's going on? Taka-kun? YOSHITAKA-KUN!!!"
Silence and emptiness abound the feelings of discontentment numbness numbness.
"So, the legendary prodigy -- Chuuku, the miracle worker -- met with an unfortunate fate. For twenty years, he had been saving lives by manipulating the flow of life force -- of ki -- all around him. He played god with his powers, and so in the end, it was his own powers that ate him up."
"Ate him up? Whaddya mean, ate him up? You don't actually mean ?"
"It was an inverse of what he used to do. For many years, he had imbued to corpses new life by sharing the ki of the surroundings and imbuing his own powerful ki into them. Soon, all his work took its toll on his own person, and his power began to suck up ki to support his own life."
He could smell death breath death sense death touch death. Death was everywhere.
How long had he been unconscious? It didn't matter his heart palpitated to new life as he raced out of the darkness of his near comatose state to a startling awakening of an appalling reality.
"He who brings life, takes away life."
That was the belief of the various religions beliefs which tried to imbue a kind of purpose to life, of some great creator, the ultimate puppetmaster. He also played the role of puppetmaster.
He brought back life and now he had taken it away.
His panic-stricken, maniacal wails filled the empty court. The silent yet haunting cries filled in his consciousness long after his tears had dried out.
The surroundings had taken on a dullness to them, a grim foreboding of what he feared the most. Various corpses littered the landscape happy merrymakers had become corpses; what had been persons were now lifeless objects. Things. What had him more worried than the horrid scenario was the fact that he had never felt more alive in all his life!
He never knew that silence could be deafening, that numbness could hurt. Even on a battlefield filled with the dead, at least there were numerous mourners filling his sensitive consciousness with various emotions and feelings that assured him of life. Feeling something -- anything -- was better than feeling nothing at all.
Death was never much of a nemesis to him; he rather saw death as an obstacle, an obligation -- a job to be done. Now he knew death as others knew it infinite emptiness.
No No, Death could not -- could never -- condemn him! He was beyond death! No He would bring everyone back to life. He would do that to show that not even death could defeat him! He was death's master!
Yet he knew that that was a lie fraudulence. He knew the hunger that had welled up in him ever since he took in the responsibility of overcoming death. He knew that what he had given away had taken in its toll and now was seeking recompense. What he feared even more was that he could not let go of the life that he had taken in .
He couldn't. The precious life force in him was the only thing that separated him from the cadavers that surrounded him. He feared the emptiness, he feared the silence. He feared that they would come to eat his own person, just as it did with these people. He was afraid to let go, for he knew the reason why this had happened. He himself was dying.
But it was wrong! He had no right to take in the life of others so as to prevent him from his own demise yet the thought of how much he had given to these foolish people and how logical a reparation from them would be No! It couldn't be but why couldn't he bring himself to return the life he had stolen?
Because it belonged to him! For once in his life, he need not be used; he need not be taken for granted he would make his own decisions his own will his own volition his own choices his own love .
He could not bear himself to look he could not bear to see her as he had when he first saw her pale, gray and dead.
He already couldn't forgive himself for killing murdering so many people yet he would condemn himself to a fate worse than hell if ever .
He felt the hunger again it ravenously ate up the ki that was welled up inside him. It horrified him further that he consumed such a precious thing like it was mere fodder. He dared look at his friend his only friend for one last time.
He made his decision then and there.
"Chuuku returned the stolen life force that was in his body, as his powers ate up his own ki. Even though most of the villagers had their life forces returned to them, some were not so fortunate, as the voracious hunger that was inside of him had made it too late for them. He, who was once the savior, now became a danger to the community. Thus Chuuku, humiliated, despised, and dying, was banished from the village. Only one person dared go with him."
"That Asuka chick, right?"
"Yes. And so here is where the many legends surrounding Chuuku began: 'He who escaped death because he had no soul'."
Asuka She dared to deny her own future, her own happiness -- for him. He wished her to stay in the village, to avoid harm and scorn, yet he knew it was selfish, yet he still wanted her to stay with him.
"Taka-kun, are you all right?"
He had murdered -- murdered in order to live. What was once his gift was now his curse; he was a living plague, destroying all that lived. Whole forests were turned into decaying marshes, grasslands into veritable deserts. No living creature was spared from his hunger -- except one, the only one who gave meaning to his existence.
"Taka-kun no ."
He was tired sick and tired of his existence. He was glad that, even for a short while, Asuka would be with him until the end.
"Taka-kun, you have to eat! You can't die now!"
What irony for her to refer the murder that he did as consumption. He couldn't kill anymore; he didn't see any purpose to it. It had to all end sooner or later. Retribution was now at hand for the one who had played god for so long. What a fitting end.
"No You can't ."
Asuka dear, sweet Asuka. He had done nothing but make her suffer ever since his powers began to degenerate. Even if he had saved her life, it couldn't make up for all the suffering he had put her through. And now he was going to make her suffer more. But it was for the best.
"I won't let you die!"
There was nothing she could do for him. It was his time. It saddened him that even in the end he would end up hurting her, yet he was glad. Glad that she could care so much for him.
There was a village nearby to where they were standing. Maybe she could go there and forget all about him, and live the normal, stable life that she longed for. He knew -- felt -- how it broke her heart to have left her mother and brother like that back in their former village. Now, this way he wouldn't be hurting her as much. Yes, this was for the best.
"I won't l-let you die! Even if ."
The darkness was so welcoming. Maybe the emptiness which he feared for so long wasn't so terrible after all. Actually, it felt rather peaceful. For once in his life, he felt peace .
"Even if I have to sacrifice myself for you!"
No. She couldn't she should stop this foolishness she couldn't she couldn't .
"Matsui Asuka made a self-sacrifice of herself to give Chuuku a few more minutes of life and she did it with no qualms or second thoughts," Genkai said, wearing a bleak look on her aging features. "However thoughtless or foolish it might have been she did it."
"So from there, Chuuku became Mr. Gothic Darkness, ne?" Yusuke supposed.
"From there, no one knew exactly what happened. Perhaps due to what had conspired, Chuuku became a miscreant, falling into a maniacal madness that drove him to ."
" shatter his own soul," Kurama finished. "From there, the legend of the soulless immortal human who stole life began." He breathed an audible sigh. He looked at the two younger spirit detectives. They seemed to be taking the story quite well. It had quieted them down for a while.
"So " Kuwabara started, intending to break the ice. "What does this have to do with us? I mean What does he want with you?" he shifted toward Kurama, with meaning apparent in his eyes.
"I don't know," Kurama admitted, giving a token smile acknowledging his lack of knowledge. "For all I know, I could be another victim a kitsune's soul could probably prolong his life considerably. Who's to know?"
"I don't know about that. I think he'd be sick and tired of living that way. Why would he prolong his suffering?" Yusuke considered, getting into the heat of the conversation.
"Because he wants to punish himself," said a familiar voice.
The four resident spirit fighters froze from their place. Kurama was the first one to speak. "Hiei ."
From out of the shadows, the koorime halfling came out into the light. His katana shone a bright orange-red glint, while his crimson red eyes wore a look of blankness and emptiness. Before anyone could react, he had already moved .
A bleak darkness and flashes of blue replaced the mellow light of the candlelit room. The fight had begun.
To be continued
Next: The confrontation with soulless.
Author's notes: Note that the title is Shonen, not Shonen-Ai. Shonen-Ai (male-male relationships) and yaoi are just not my cup of tea. This is dedicated to Chimamire Kitsune for giving me the inspiration to write this fic… wherever you are, this is for you.
C. Castańeda, a.k.a. Abdiel
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