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A Yuyu Hakusho fan fiction story
by Abdiel

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

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


Chapter 3: Sapling


A collective silence filled the entire dojo. In the bleak darkness, different degrees of attention came upon the depths of six various consciousnesses. A few moments later, eyes were again able to decipher, yet minds refused to believe… two silhouettes were dancing in the darkness, flashes of blue were met up with a resistance of a golden light.

"… Chuuku!" was all Yusuke could say. He may had not yet met the entity nor known him in any measure, yet it was the only affirmation about the situation that made sense. His head was in turmoil… his thought processes came up with the wildest conclusions… conclusions he refused to believe….

"… Hiei…."

It came out like a whisper, but the impact of the words within Yusuke's consciousness was far beyond that of decibel range… it wouldn't have made a difference if he shouted it out. He was still at a point of disbelief, but urgent matters pressed him to move forward to a new awareness. Hiei was possessed by Chuuku… that was the simple truth.

And so, now was time for the much more complicated action.

Yusuke held up his pointer finger as a familiar warmth and energy rush seized his person as he collected his ki into a concentrated ball of energy.


Soon the two silhouettes came into a frighteningly bright light… what the shorter of the two assessed as that annoying energy ball that the human shot with his finger aimed like a gun… well, the idiot looked ridiculous in his position but the power of his Rei-Gan, as he so quaintly called it, was far beyond ridicule. The said silhouette mentally snorted in disgust at the apparent stupidity of the human.

Yet he watched in bewilderment as his companion silhouette froze, remaining in the path of the oncoming barrage of energy.

Bedlam erupted as piles of stone and rubble spread throughout the dojo as the Rei-Gan impacted. The dust cleared… the unscathed of the two combatants had no time to react to the onslaught of hard blows to his person.

"Hiei, you gotta snap out of this!" Yusuke pleaded… demanded… as he pushed on his merciless offensive at the koorime halfling.

Hiei answered this by means of gutting the young detective with the base of the handle of his katana… again and again, the sound of wood and metal pounding flesh akin to that of the thumping of those flying machines those humans were so fond of using… all this happening in a span of just several seconds.

In his fetal position, Yusuke took note of the annoyance found in the koorime's eyes. His own eyes narrowed to slits as his determination renewed. Faster than even Hiei could react, Yusuke rolled over and bowled out the stunned koorime.

"Idiot," Hiei stated as he simply glared at the stubborn human.

I won't let you be manhandled like this, Hiei… you probably don't even know about it yet. I know you're going to hate me for saving you, but I guess you'll be worse off as a puppet of this Chuuku character, Yusuke thought to himself as he braced himself for another assault. Hiei had already easily recovered from the surprise attack, none the worse for wear.

"Stop it… Yusuke!" came the outraged shout of Master Genkai.

The two fighters stopped cold from attacking each other as they shifted their attentions toward two lone figures at a corner of the dojo.


Silence again filled the dojo as all eyes were fixed on two people… one that was recognizable as Kurama and another persona standing near a crater to which Yusuke's Rei-Gan impacted a while ago, covered by the dust that hadn't settled in yet. Kurama was blocking the other person's ki-blade with his taut rose whip, the kitsune's steely gaze never leaving the shady figure.

"You planned all of this… didn't you, kitsune?" the other person stated as a fact, notwithstanding that the statement was in a form of a question.

"I figured it would be either Hiei or you… I guess I was half-right. You did have me going there for a while," Kurama said conversationally, almost cheerfully. "But why Kuwabara?"

The persona now identified as Kuwabara shrugged. "He was… shall we say… the most sensitive of you four."

Yusuke could not help it as his jaw dropped to the ground with the revelation. "So it was Kuwabara that Chuuku possessed… but why did Hiei go berserk?"

Seeing that the thoroughly irritated koorime had no intention of answering the question, the kitsune answered for him. "I think it probably had to do with his third eye and the fact that he knew everything even before any of us figured this out… and there's the fact he 'shoots first, asks questions later.'"

"Yet you figured everything out quite well, kitsune…" Kuwabara said, his eyes half-lidded and his features showing apparent apathy and a slight uncharacteristic hint of amusement in his voice, given a certain boy gleefully asking, 'Whaddya think of your new name?'

He smirked grimly. "You never gave this boy any letter… you knew he would be the one."

"It doesn't really matter if I planned all this or not," Kurama stated matter-of-factly, not taking his eyes off the possessed boy. "Is it not true that you wanted me? I'm right here… what now?"

Chuuku shook Kuwabara's head in a show of dismay. He held out his hand as he began concentrating golden energy on his palm.

Hiei reacted quickly, fleeing past the kitsune toward the possessed. The latter smiled darkly, his eyes never leaving the charging koorime's.

The forbidden child stopped mid-air, as he felt a sharp pain in his abdomen. He chilled in realization. He looked down and saw the Rei-Ken tear deep into the muscle of his stomach. Kuwabara's features were almost sinister for a moment as he added to the fire demon's pain by twisting the imbedded ki-blade like a corkscrew.

Dammit… the human is now almost as fast as that creature that possessed him! Hiei belatedly thought as his vision blurred in searing pain.

"Hiei!" Yusuke shouted as he hesitantly prepared to strike with his Rei-kou-dan… to blast his ki-powered fist at an all-too-familiar face.

"Chuuku, it's me that you want… don't involve the others here." Kurama said darkly, his hands fiddling on the stem of an intimately known weapon.

"You still haven't figured it out, kitsune? Need I spell it out for you?" the being Chuuku asked… the voice and the face not his own, but the intonation invariably him. "Should there be a need for blood to be spilt for you to understand?"

"I'll send you personally back to Hell's Maw myself, you goddamned monster!" Hiei shouted as he pushed back and dislodged Kuwabara and his ki-blade away from him by shoving the tip of the sheath of his katana into the possessed detective's belly. He didn't hesitate to follow through some strikes of his own but those were promptly blocked by Kuwabara's new unearthly reflexes.

Chuuku easily recovered from the blow… though with Kuwabara's body it was another story. He mentally noted the quivering and coughing reflexes his human marionette made from the fire demon's strike. He squinted his eyes to assess the situation… first, the weakened fire demon.

Hiei crashed against the solid floor, bits of rubble and debris following his trail. The diminutive demon cursed to himself as the possessed teenager was actually able to execute several numbing strikes of his Rei-ken onto him before he actually unceremoniously landed onto the floor. The koorime halfling also dolefully noted how effective the Rei-ken could be when used to the fullest potential before altogether being knocked into unconsciousness.

"This is enough, Chuuku!" Yusuke shouted at the marionette-like Kuwabara as he ran to prepare his own assault. Kuwabara always had a hard head, and surprising stamina at that. The black-haired teen refused to believe that Kuwabara could be possessed by anyone against his will.

The possessed continued to carefully evaluate the state of affairs. The koorime was immobilized at the moment… though Urameshi, as expected, was now desperately moving to strike him down the floor… he _was_ the impulsive one. The old woman and the kitsune, on the other hand, froze in their place, also carefully contemplating the situation… so it was the idiot human next, then.

"So, you're much more powerful now, Kuwabara? Faster? Stronger? Let's see how much of this you can take!" Yusuke taunted at the apathetic Kuwabara, the latter merely squinting in response. Kuwabara easily evaded the swift ki-charged blow as it instead landed on the solid marble floor. Yusuke gave a maniacal grin.

An explosion of volatile ki and debris rocked the whole dojo. A shower of pure spiritual energy hit Kuwabara's face in full force. Giving him no chance to recover, Yusuke followed through the ki-shower with an equally devastating Rei-kou-dan.

A Rei-kou-dan effortlessly parried by Kuwabara's free hand. With Yusuke's momentum broken, Kuwabara made a strike through Yusuke's side, dislocating a few ribs.

"I know all your tricks, Urameshi… thanks to your friend," Kuwabara smirked, pointing toward his temple mockingly.

"The… h-hell… with this!!!" Yusuke spat, starting his attack anew. He demolished Kuwabara's defense with his volley of punches, throwing the battle to his favor. But somehow the possessed still managed to smack his open palm over Yusuke's face, drawing a burble of blood from the overzealous detective's broken nose. He intended to suffocate the young detective but was interrupted by a well-placed blow over the throat. Chuuku noted that his host was now choking in his own blood, just like his friend. The two spirit detectives fell in a boneless heap.

Kuwabara gurgled incoherently as he wiped off rust-tasting blood from his mouth, his blank eyes not leaving the perpetrator of his untimely interruption. Genkai eyed him warily as well… her blow should have left the boy unconscious for several more moments. Genkai wordlessly helped Yusuke up, Kurama doing the same with Hiei.

"I shouldn't have underestimated you, old woman."

"You have Kuwabara's memories and Kuwabara's body… but you also have Kuwabara's limitations. He's only mortal… human. You are…" Genkai halted in mid-sentence.

"…not. At least, not anymore," the possessed Kuwabara finished. He looked at Kurama, his melancholic smile never leaving his face. "So… do you always let your friends do your dirty work for you, kitsune?"

"What now, Chuuku?" Kurama retorted. "Are you satisfied? I'm here… you want a youko's soul? Come and get it! No more tricks. Face me as is."

Chuuku responded with a small chuckle from Kuwabara. "Is _that_ what you think this is about? That this is a mere give-and-take situation? This boy's soul in exchange for yours?" He shook his marionette's head in a mock display of dismay. "I want something more than your soul, kitsune. I want you."

"What are you? Some sort of gay ghost?!" Yusuke, having recovered, yelped at the possessed boy, pointing an accusing finger.

Kurama puzzled over what Chuuku has said. "What do you mean?"

"Aishiteru, Shuichi."


From the relative calm of the patio of Genkai's temple, a palpable atmosphere of depression suddenly arose.

It was rather inexplicable… everything was where it was supposed to be… yet, at the same time, everything just… changed. The usually lush vegetation surrounding the veranda seemed drearier, darker… the sky seemed grayer than blue, while the animals… particularly, her dear birds… they were now all fleeing inexplicably from… from what?

Strange.

Ever since Yukina stepped into the Human World, she could not help but marvel at the relative strangeness and splendor it presented to her. It was literally a whole new world… yet she also could not help disliking certain… aspects of this so-called whole new world.

She had always loved nature… the 'ecology' of the Human World, as Master Genkai phrased it… in the frigid Land of the Koorime, there was no such thing. But here in this world, it was just bursting with it. Bursting with… life. Yes, life… but then the environment of this world was fast vanishing as the snow lady was just beginning to uncover its vast secrets and wonders… being destroyed by… progress.

Progress… technology… modernization… however the humans may put it, it's still the same for the ice maiden. The vast structures of cold, uncaring stone; they made buildings larger than any she'd ever dreamed of… buildings that stretched up in the sky, crushing her beloved nature… cold, terrifying monoliths that were built to destroy.

It was a modern society that, if it had its way in the Human World, would become a dead society… an unfeeling, callous and pitiless society. It would still be the Human World, only different….

Just like now.

Acting on instinct and on the growing anxiety set in her heart, the young snow woman began moving toward the foreboding dojo, not noticing her lips move as it unconsciously let out a whisper of concern toward an unacknowledged kin.


Kurama scrambled for his thoughts with the unexpected turn of events. He didn't know whether to laugh, to recoil in disgust or to simply stare dumbfounded in confusion… well, the third of the three wasn't all that bad.

Yusuke apparently chose the second option, with all the gagging and retching sounds he was making.

"You… aren't… serious… are you?" Kurama warily said, picking his words carefully. Right now he didn't know what to think. The fact that it was Kuwabara in front of him saying all those things made the whole situation seem even more… ridiculous.

The possessed smiled, if one could call it that… it was neither cheerful nor malicious, but mostly… empty, with just a hint of sadness. "You have become everything I have imagined you could be, given the situation. I swore to go against heaven and hell for you." He closed his eyes in apparent concentration.

"That's why I have to do this…."

A ripping sound… a horrid squeal of tearing far beyond that of life evanescent that soon erupted into a lethal fury no one can even begin to comprehend.

All three of Hiei's eyes widened in realization of the sight that beheld them. Just like in Chuuku's corporeal form, a rift of utter emptiness and darkness was now where Kuwabara's chest used to be. Even though the young human's face still reflected his possessor's indifference, his rapidly paling white skin spoke volumes of what that cavity was doing to him.

"What the HELL!?" Yusuke verbalized everyone else's general statement. "You're killing him!"

"Am I?" Chuuku mocked. "I wouldn't have to go to such lengths if you'd simply given me the kitsune… and I wouldn't be worried with just Kuwabara's life now, if I were you." He then turned to Kurama and gave a sort of half-smile.

"Heaven and hell."

Wordlessly, Yusuke aimed his hand at a familiar thumb-and-forefinger position directly at Kuwabara. He was prepared to literally blast the possessed boy to hell if he had to, hoping against hope that somehow things would still work out.

"No, Yusuke!" Genkai shouted out, only to be seized by the throat by an invisible force. The old woman struggled in mid-air, helplessly choking under an unseen grip.

"Listen to her, Yusuke… she knows a lot," Chuuku said, forcing the Master of the Spirit Waves with his imperceptible influence to nod in agreement. "This could have happened to you, you see…."

Genkai's aura soon became visible to all present… but its luminosity soon began to fade as tendrils of her smoke-like ki began to get vacuumed into the void of Chuuku-Kuwabara's hollowness.

"Being… what do you want… why are… you're just a ghost…" Genkai rasped.

"It's what I've lived for, died for, and have been erased to near non-existence for, old woman," Chuuku replied in his usual apathy.

"Let go of her, you, you… faggot!" Yusuke screamed, almost maniacally. He wanted to move forward and crush Chuuku's face… even if it wasn't the lost soul's face or body, he just didn't care anymore… letting his own instincts take reign. But he couldn't, even if he wanted to, as the same invisible force which seized Genkai in midair was now surrounding both predator and prey like a barrier, preventing him from moving any further. The situation was getting way out of hand.

Soon the aged martial artist seemed even older, with her wrinkles becoming deeper, her eyes pupil-less, and her complexion approaching that of a chalk-white color. She was reflexively jerking as her aura was soon getting the consistency of ash.

All were awestruck at the spectacle which unfolded in their midst. Hiei limped toward Kurama, motioning the kitsune toward the exit. Yusuke, in growing agitation, moved in front of the two youkai, acting as a shield lest Chuuku shifted his attention toward them. Kurama, for the life of him, remained in his place.

Kuwabara gave a blank stare at the three spirit detectives. He then gazed back at the dying elder. "Be thankful you aren't what I came here for, Genkai." He then threw her like a rag doll toward the nearest wall. A sickening thud was heard, the aged martial artist not moving from her place of impact. All eyes glared back on the possessed boy. A faint knocking was heard in the silence of the dojo, but no one took heed of it.

Chuuku-Kuwabara began to slowly move toward the three spirit detectives.

"Kurama, go with Hiei and get the hell out of here. I'll stall the faggot in the meantime," Yusuke said in earnest, not even looking back at the two. Hearing no response, he shouted out, "Go!"

"Don't tell me what to do," Hiei said derisively, even though he already had his hand on the hilt of his katana in an apparent ready-stance.

"But Yusuke… you saw what happened to Genkai… what she tried to stop from happening to you… Chuuku will suck you dry! Your Rei-gan will do nothing to damage him," Kurama protested.

The young spirit detective chuckled. "It'll be alright… since when did I ever listen to grandma anyway?" He then turned his attention to the imminent threat. He smiled grimly. "Bring it on, Kuwabara…."

Chuuku-Kuwabara stopped his leisurely pace in mid-step… he then became a blur as his speed increased abruptly in a blink of an eye, landing several blows all over the Spirit Detective leader. Yusuke was able to make a makeshift defense to counter most of the blows, so none was actually devastating. He then came in for the kill with an uppercut

Chuuku had easily recovered from the counter, but it was not the same with Kuwabara. Blow after merciless blow was followed up on the possessed, Yusuke not even giving him a chance to counter-attack. But, as abruptly as the sleek-haired teenager had gotten his advantage, the said advantage suddenly vanished into thin air, along with his target.

"Too slow," Chuuku said, disappearing and reappearing in various distances as he condescendingly beckoned the youth to begin his attack anew.

From there, Yusuke again picked up his momentum and he began his volley of punches… this time, unfortunately, hitting nothing but air. He cursed as in their exchange of parry-block-hit, Chuuku still managed to break several more of his already broken ribs, sending him skidding several feet away.

"Fox, run away!" Hiei insisted on the rapt kitsune, the latter too immersed at the dance of death before him.

"Yusuke's still the better of the two when it boiled down to fighting… but it's not just that Chuuku's getting faster, despite Kuwabara's mortal body… it's also…" Kurama looked at a tiring Yusuke. "… Yusuke is slowing down… Yusuke's power is based on channeling ki, while Chuuku's power is based on siphoning ki… Yusuke, you don't stand a chance!"

Yusuke looked at Kuwabara, his image blurring several times. He had to shake his head just to clear it. He then gave a melancholic smile toward the two youkai. "Just get the hell out of here."

A thunderous blast of light and energy streaked across the whole expanse of the dojo, sending Chuuku-Kuwabara flying through the temple, hitting and breaking through columns like they were made out of gingerbread. A second blaze of incredible vigor burned through the trail the previous one left, this time impacting more violently toward the possessed. Wreckage, rubble and debris were flung around like so many breadcrumbs, the wood and concrete of the shrine easily giving way to the consecutive incursions.

Yusuke didn't even flinch as his marionette-for-a-friend was slowly getting up from the ruins, none the worse for wear as he began walking across the trail of crushed and powdered fragments of what was once the floor. The dark hollow in the middle of the zombie-like teenager was now glowing, brimming with energy. This didn't even bother the Spirit Detective leader in the least as he followed up with another choleric wave of piercing spiritual power… one after another….

The glare of blast after awesome blast burned through the consciousnesses of all those present… though all of the energy was harmlessly sucked in the void like so much water to a kitchen sink drain. But for every blast Chuuku was kept at bay by several inches, so Yusuke passionately continued on with his assault.

Rapidly, because of the incredible amount of energy released at such a short amount time, Yusuke began to weaken. Soon, the enormous streaks of ki the young demon halfling had shot continuously were replaced by that of ki of arbitrate size, before the said energy altogether dissipated into harmless heat and light. Chuuku, unperturbed, continued on with his pace toward the battered and drained spirit detective.

In the corner of his eye, Chuuku-Kuwabara saw the quite expected… a fire demon on a desperate attempt at battle. Kuwabara snorted derisively at the effort, an act that his possessor Chuuku found curious.

Hiei ignored the pain searing on all four limbs of his body, as well as the numerous other injuries on his person as he moved in for the kill. Making full use of his third eye, he resisted the invisible force of Chuuku's own influence as he made a deep slash on the entity's marionette… at first hitting only the emptiness of the cavity, but as the slash completed its arc, also flesh and bone.

Chuuku was helpless to act upon Kuwabara's body as it finally reached its limits. The body reflexively recoiled in intense pain as it lost a large amount of blood from the large, deep cut on the shoulder. The being concentrated to take control of the teenager's bodily functions so as to skip some of its natural reaction to stimuli. That done, he easily blocked another oncoming slash from the Demon World fighter, the blade harmlessly hitting his forearm, the most damage it did was leaving an imprint on his borrowed skin.

He then said words which woke the fire demon up to a frightening realization.

"Rei-gan."

The barrage of unrelenting ki hit the koorime halfling with the force of a tidal wave, crushing him with its enormous metaphorical mass.

A reassessment of the situation was in order, the shattered soul contemplated. The irritating little fighters were far more… persevering than he previously thought. He shifted his glance toward the kitsune… he seemed paralyzed in shock. It was just as well… it would make everything all the more easier.

All of them had the potential to stop short his little escapade… though materializing yet again in his corporeal form was readily an option given the situation. They would simply be delaying the inevitable… though he had no time for delays. Despite all the grueling years he spent as a wandering half-man, he never quite learned the value known as patience. It had all come to this point anyway.

It was time to finish off the nearest threat.

The weary Yusuke Urameshi glanced up at a towering menace that wore his friend and rival's face. A faint but definite knocking was heard from the background, becoming more insistent. It stopped as Chuuku-Kuwabara's voice echoed across the emptiness of the dojo.

"Now is the time for you to die, Urameshi."

The addressed gave a weak smile. "Wow, Kuwabara… you finally got what you wanted. You beat me."

Chuuku wondered at the slight wince his host body made before he prepared his Rei-ken for the killer blow.

He also noted a sudden piercing sensation that suddenly surrounded his throat….

"I'm beginning to sense you people have an affinity for this boy's neck," Chuuku despondently said as he realized the abrupt sharp pain his host was experiencing actually stemmed from Kurama's very own Rose Whip. The jagged thorns tore deep into the boy's neck… just one little pull was all it took….

"Do it," Chuuku dared.

From the tone and determination that came from the voice, Kurama couldn't exactly tell if it was either Chuuku or Kuwabara talking. He held steadfastly what was literally Chuuku-Kuwabara… no… Kuwabara's lifeline.

"You didn't spare Toguro Ani, because of the circumstances of dire consequence… yet you couldn't kill good ol' Kuwabara for the life of you," Chuuku said, prodding the kitsune further by slipping the Rose Whip a couple of centimeters tighter on his puppet's neck.

"Coward," Kurama said darkly, still having a steely grip on his favored weapon, yet not even moving it an inch further to finally fulfill its dismal purpose.  "You played behind the shadows, yet you're only controlled by unwanted desires, having no will of your own… you're the puppet here!"

"Half-right, kitsune," Chuuku said as he fiddled with the thorny, vine-like whip before the said object began withering away, getting the consistency of papyrus as it harmlessly wilted into brown, brittle foliage. His blank eyes then suddenly had a hint of… sadness? "Why were you always such a martyr?"

Voicelessly, Yusuke Urameshi let out a silent scream as he saw his kitsune companion flung helplessly to a nearby wall, pinned to it by a long, lance-like Rei-ken… a perverted version of a butterfly pinned to a display case. The great half-demon warrior then crumpled to the ground care of a swift kick to the gut by a certain passerby.

Seemingly admiring his gruesome handiwork, the intrepid entity directly addressed his victim.

"It's time, Minamino Shuichi."


An unfamiliar sensation of panic set in on the young snow lady as she stopped insistently knocking on the large dojo doors. She had stopped when she heard Kuwabara's voice… usually filled with life and passion… come in as dead and monotone as he said something usually characteristic of him as a joking address to his friend, except the intonation made its meaning radically different and strange for him to say.

"Now is the time for you to die, Urameshi."

The seriousness in his voice… no, the emptiness of his voice… had left the koorime in a condition of worry and trepidation. What's happening to Kazuma-san? It must have had something to do with the new unknown foe Master Genkai was talking about… but….

There was something else that had also put her in a position of uncertainty… the feeling that she had a while ago in the yard. She could have sworn… but if he was here….

The young koorime girl stopped the futility of knocking as she concentrated within herself her own spiritual powers so as to go against the invisible force well within the dojo doors.


Chuuku-Kuwabara's… no, Chuuku's… touch was surprisingly gentle as his hand gently played with the light-red strands of Kurama's hair. His eyes remained dreary and listless, yet those black pupils had a… uncharacteristic emphatic quality in them. Was it pity? Or was it perhaps something deeper? His unreadable features were in stark contrast to whatever meaning those eyes were trying to convey.

"Faggot…" a certain figure groaned. Kurama blinked at the statement, but decided to ignore it as the seriousness of the situation reassessed itself. He looked at Kuwabara, the possessed boy's eyes starting to have a strange violet color, not unlike fiery blue coals.

Kurama shut his eyes, neither out of fear nor hesitation toward death. It was merely… a fitting thing to do in the situation. It made sense, even though it actually held no logic. In the darkness amidst the kitsune, the after-flash of Chuuku-Kuwabara's eyes burned in his memory. How is it… what is it like… to feel nothing?

A faint smile crept into Kuwabara's mouth… signifying amusement. "Why do you have to always sympathize with your opponents? You will spare yourself a whole lot of trouble by not bothering with that."

"If it's all so important to you, then just do it."

The kitsune didn't even see it coming. It just… came, with no further disputation nor contention… not even an acknowledgement of the fact from his captor. Typically, Kurama began to assess the circumstances. Not so typically, his almost clinical evaluations soon became tinged with a flood of emotions… something much more typical to humans. Mere humans.

So… Kurama thought to himself as a sort of drowsiness began to subtly but firmly intrude upon his consciousness. This is the way I'm going to die….

Kurama contemplated further a death where his very being, his very essence, would be sucked out of him. Not nearly like the warrior's death he was expecting, nor the peaceful one he wanted… but it seemed oddly… fitting, for him. The grand death for a kitsune who betrayed its own identity to become something it was not. It was so very… apt.

From there, it began.

Kurama didn't fight it anymore… in fact, he felt sort of resigned to the situation. He did not feel panic as tendrils of his ki began to get sucked into a vacuum of inimitable depth and void, despite its appearance. While he was not at all comfortable with his present condition, a lethargy-induced acquiescence drowned his earlier reflexive panic. Not unlike his detached and calculating deliberations in a fight, only that his acceptance had come to him more as a finality than anything else.

It was the finality of death. The inevitability of one's identity being erased in an instant… the demon fox never had such leisure. He had flirted with death many times… it was a constant companion to him. Even he, the elusive Youko Kurama, could not escape the inexorability of death… yet he never had the fear of his entire existence being erased, knowing what he was.

It was so… until now.

Perhaps… perhaps it was an end he had wanted after all?

Such fancy soon began to fade into inconsequence, as the once feared Youko Kurama was now reduced to… to a quivering, pathetic human whose life was about to be taken away from him. Kurama chuckled at that last thought… it was something he would have said about the situation if had he not been shot down and forced into hiding… forced to take a human cub's body as refuge… if he was still the great Youko Kurama.

How much of him had changed? Such thoughts had bothered him even way back during the Demon World tournament, but his resolution to it all… his answer to the question, abstract as it was… was reflected in his ultimate decision. His choice was to live his life as a human. He still couldn't explain why he did what he did… not entirely, not in a logical and rational manner that actually made sense… in short, not in a way that would have made sense to him. Perhaps it was one of the few things that didn't actually need to make sense.

Who was he? What had become of him?

Memories began floating by… tiny vessels of the past. His past. A past that was mostly filled with his daring escapades and his lust for the unattainable… or what was supposedly unattainable, since he 'attained' each and every one of them… those were all prizes… big and small, tangible and intangible, real and ethereal… it didn't matter to him. The thrill of the hunt was far more valuable than the prizes, at the time. He was always looking for something….

It was curious, given his age and experience, how much his present life had affected him… it had far more than his previous youko life could. It was very curious, indeed… in his past kitsune life, he had but one regret… that of Kurunue, his trusted ally. His partner's death was even an inevitability… Kurama couldn't blame himself for it, though he mourned for the loss. His human life, on the other hand….

It was an existence full of contradictions. He never had to second-guess himself before, but had had to with the kind of life he had. He never expected himself to be so protective and caring of his adoptive mother. He never expected himself to become a Spirit Detective… even if he was forced into it. He never expected himself to be anything other than Youko Kurama… which was probably why he could never see himself as one person… Youko Kurama and the human Shuichi Minamino… or perhaps the human, Kurama.

He was human yet he was youkai… he never considered himself human, but somehow, it simply became a part of him. It was merely a disguise, just a mere masquerade… yet one that fit quite nicely with… himself. He cannot deny that it was now a component of him, an element which made him whole, one way or another. Being part human didn't bother him a bit, as with his choice to live as one.

He soon drew in ragged breaths… an expected reaction, given that his life energy was quickly being drained off of him… yet the sensations that followed were things which he didn't anticipate at all. An insubstantial tearing within his consciousness that was not induced by fear or agitation soon tore open his mental defenses… it was as if his very thoughts were….

Violet eyes glinted back at him… so very much alike with his Kurunue's eyes… as he was left dangling on sharpened bamboo shoots. Listless eyes… though they also had the strange humor he had thought he imagined in his dead partner's stare. It was a look which bore some sort of realization of irony… like his black raven's languid stare which seemed to say 'Well, it seems you were right again, fox.'

It wasn't a sight he wanted to behold… then and now.

It did not matter that what appeared to be a familiar ally was now holding him still on the wall, the lethal lance of golden ki that was pinning him having disappeared long ago. Chuuku's expression bore no resemblance to the face he was wearing… there was not a shadow of a doubt that this was his eternally damned stalker.

It was then that he began to notice it… his memories that were suddenly flooding his mind with a superfluity of reminiscence and circumspection… memories of his mother, Kurunue, Urameshi-kun, Kuwabara-kun, Hiei… and what was being done to the said recollections.

… NO!!!

A single phrase, a mere word which was followed by faint glimmers of awareness, was soon overcome by a chaotic mix of confusion and pandemonium as his thought processes… his very precious thought processes… was rendered into complete bedlam.

A single memory filled his mind… that of the gruesome death of his beloved friend and ally….

"Kurunue," a voice uttered, but it did not belong to the youko. It was from Kuwabara. Further shock became apparent in Kurama's features, as the spoken word soon bore neither meaning nor familiarity to him… only a forgotten urgency to it which the youkai cannot place.

Another memory appeared in Kurama's mind… that of his meeting with a young man on the rooftop, in a bargain for a dear sweet woman's life….

A young man… a brash, impetuous young man… a dear friend… the person lying several feet away from him… a… a…

Stranger?

Kurama glared at his captor, which could only return in kind with a half-smile from the familiar face he wore.

A brusque yet kind-hearted young man in whose utter simplicity lies his very charm….

A familiar face? How could he forget… the face of another total stranger?

"Dammit, Chuuku!" Kurama shouted, showing a rare display of temper. "What are you doing to me?"

Blue coals of fire looked back at the kitsune… perhaps, for the first time, blue coals that held some sort of meaning and life in them. "I want your soul, Minamino Shuuichi… every bit of it."

A dear yet unlikely ally… deadly yet merely misunderstood. A brooding creature, yet he longed merely for the completion of his identity… a longing for a reason to live. He was a forbidden child from the start.

A sense of apparent urgency filled Kurama… an urgency he could not place yet still it screamed out at him… until it faded into irrelevance.

"Hiei," Chuuku almost breathed the word, not unlike the last note of a master opus.

Kurama again looked listlessly at the puppet man, not fully comprehending the apparent significance of the said word yet feeling a certain amount of alarm he could not exactly place. Desperation soon came to him as he clung to the last bit of memory which made sense to him.

Mother….

Words became useless as thoughts became more abstract… more primal. It was the ultimate insult to one as intelligent as the great Youko Kurama… to be reduced to a level of utter unintelligence…. eating up his very thinking, every abstract and complex thought, every level of awareness of his own existence… up to his very final words.

No! He was a superior breed of beast… he was better than that… not an animal….

He observed in an odd mixture of awe, panic and uncertain acceptance his slowly failing verbal communication abilities, as it was beginning to be washed away by mere human… no, animal instinct. He was beginning to have second thoughts on his earlier acknowledgement of the situation as he held on his one last intelligible thought….

It's a pity that it was going to be an insulting end, after all.

His final word… the final word which actually made sense to him… one which he used over and over until it too lost its meaning….

NO!!! NO! No! No. No. No. Nonononononononononono….

Images began to flood the mindless kitsune… familiar, yet also beyond comprehension to the slowly degenerating youko. Images became swirls of unintelligible color and movement… it was not unlike an infant's first wake in the world, looking around in an altogether alien environment, trying to make sense of it all….

A silken darkness draped over Kurama's subconscious.

"It's nearly done, Asuka."


A tall figure having a certain regal bearing to him people couldn't exactly pinpoint now stood a fair distance away from a person which he thought he knew very well. Yet now… he felt like he was staring at a total stranger.

"Why, Kurama? Why?" There was no anger in his statements, just a fair amount of shock and confusion… that was his question, yet he was actually asking, 'Why didn't you finish off Shigure as a youko? Why do you deny yourself your true nature?'

The bloodied youko… no, human or whatever he was… moved his head at the figure's direction, his eyes blocked by his long strands of hair. There was a slight pause before he spoke.

"I fought as myself," he said simply, yet there was full meaning in his evergreen eyes that finally came to view as he said it. "I was not second guessing… this is who I am. This is what makes up my identity now… Yomi."

A light surrounded the visage of Yomi, enveloping and swallowing the image of the powerful Demon World leader.

The bright light was accompanied by a voice… a voice which the kitsune recognized as his own, yet it was not.

"I fought as myself… this is what makes up my identity now… I am a youkai yet I chose to live as a human… this is the decision I stand by…." Flashes of images surrounded the kitsune… memories unrecognizable, yet somehow familiar.

A single thought filled his mind. The kind, gentle woman who was his…

Mother.

She was the one who gave birth to this… cub which was now… him. He couldn't explain it… he still considered himself a youko, yet he had turned his back on that life and on his old youko self to live peacefully as a… human.

"I love you so much, Shuuichi," she had said…. dozens of times… until the words he at first couldn't quite comprehend were now the words he always cherished to hear from her.

It was just as Yomi believes… yet….

Was this in mere gratitude for his human mother to live a human life? Or was he a youko living a human's life… something which he should never have gotten nor deserved?

"… And I will protect this decision and this identity which makes up my life now… no matter what."

He would… even if it was the same identity which eluded him any explanation or description.


Chuuku heaved a resigned sigh. "Such is the will power of the living… isn't it so, kitsune? It seems you do not even know what you want."

Kurama spoke in between ragged breaths, "I… cannot… allow you to… do… that… not at this point."

Chuuku derisively snorted, perhaps due to the life force he had sucked up which made him more animated than before, or perhaps it was due to irritation even a being like him could not take.

"What is the point to all this, Kurama? Why do you continue to be so adamant and stubborn at this? You've abandoned your kitsune past, yet you insist on your being a youkai while living a human's life? Does that make sense to you?"

Kurama contemplated the half-man's words carefully. For the first time, Chuuku had addressed him formally with his actual name, and not with his human name… yet he did keep referring to 'getting Minamino Shuichi's soul,' and never used it to refer to himself. Rather, it seemed he was referring to _his_ soul as a separate entity altogether. Did that mean…?

"There is no Minamino Shuichi," Kurama said, finally recovering his breath. He was still a little woozy, yet at least he now had his memories and sense-of-self intact… and he wanted it to remain that way.

"In a manner of speaking, he… never had the chance to live. I've inhabited the human cub's body before any human soul could be formed… therefore, no two souls could ever exist in here," he pointed to himself.

"I am Kurama… just Kurama. Minamino Shuichi just doesn't exist," the kitsune repeated, ending it all with a shrug. It was such a waste. To think, all that needless effort….

A laugh… a rather maniacal laugh echoed throughout the dojo. Kuwabara looked more like himself with the mirth Chuuku was giving out. The hollowness well within Kuwabara's person seemed to glow in concurrence to Chuuku's laughter.

"I am not supposed to exist, kitsune," Chuuku said, then he laughed some more… as if he was laughing at the funniest joke in the world that only he could understand. But then, he stopped. There was a pause.

"GIVE ME BACK MINAMINO SHUICHI'S SOUL!!!" he screamed, in equal madness as before, if not more so. The void in his borrowed body brimmed to life as he renewed his torturous endeavor.

A primal shout of equal strength to the previous… a cry nearly bordering to lunacy… echoed consecutively, the deep baritone voice tinged with utter desperation familiar.

"You again?" the possessor deadpanned, unperturbed by the quickly approaching koorime halfling with a glint of murderous intent in his crimson and luminescent-green eyes.


Stupid fox. You should have run away while you still could.

Hiei… brooded. It was all he could do, given his situation. Twice already, the bastard entity has beaten him up to a bloody pulp without so much as a relative sweat. He was beaten up without any effort at all.

He didn't like that one bit.

He didn't even get the satisfaction of giving his opponent a hard time. That was like the ultimate insult to him, a Class A demon… whatever that means, with the Spirit World's stupid rating system and all.

Basically, it meant just one thing to the fire demon… that he was one of the most powerful youkai, if not the most powerful youkai. He couldn't… shouldn't… be humiliated like this, not a demon of his caliber. Not twice, at the very least.

What really irked the koorime to no end was Kurama's atypical reaction to the situation. Sure, in the past he had procrastinated up to the last minute before performing the dirty deed, but at least he had gotten results in his otherwise profligate deliberations. But now… now….

Idiot.

Kurama was acting just like… like… that stupid Yusuke or that idiot Kuwabara… like a typical pathetic little human. Only now there was a lack of acting on his part. He appeared uncertain; always second-guessing his moves, always hesitating… it was the usual for the fox, really. But now… he really was doubtful of himself.

All of the kitsune's indecision had left him at the mercy of the shadow-man… and left Yusuke sprawled to the floor just like the weak human he was and Hiei… ribbed, slashed and blasted, in that order.

The koorime halfling doubted he had enough strength to come out with one last strike… the tremendous force of that gigantic Rei-gan had nearly crushed him while his bruises, cuts and fractures hadn't really healed up all that much. He was really in bad shape, to say the least. It was all thanks to the dithering Youko Kurama.

Hiei watched Kurama's pitiable condition… as the kitsune was helplessly pinned to the wall care of the being's puppet Kuwabara… then as the fox's very own horrified mind was sucked up into the inimitable hollowness of the creature's very essence… a fact provided by his versatile third eye.

All the while the ostracized koorime was not able to act because of the growing numbness in his body.

Hiei almost felt as wretched as Kurama.

Yet he was still obstinate… obstinate in defeating the shadow-man, obstinate in saving the fox's life, for all it was worth to him… unfortunately, fatigue was wearing him down, and he actually doubted if he could actually pull off just one more attack.

Kurama didn't give in just yet… he still fought with his mind and spirit… he didn't let Chuuku's influence take a complete hold of him and suck out his very quintessence. If he had only did so before, instead of him being so capriciously tentative.

Foolish Fox.

But Kurama was still in danger, and the koorime's eyes burned with a passion for retribution. It was too bad the latter's body, in turn, equally burned in agony and anguish. Hiei winced as he slowly got up; each and every movement took the breath out of him in his utter pain and suffering.

The damnable nothingness in the cumbersome human's person had reactivated again… the threat was still there, and Kurama was helpless. Hiei ignored the tremendous pain… he was able to come through with the operation of his third eye, dammit! This was nothing compared to that.

Hiei's knees buckled, as the pressure of his own weight was too much for this weakened state. The half-breed cursed his apparent moment of weakness as his sheathed sword served as a cane that kept him from collapsing altogether… collapsing like a helpless old man.

Hiei nearly fell again as he tried to stand up, much to his frustration. He had to face facts… he was about as much a threat to Chuuku as Kurama was, given his condition. That was the truth… and he hated every minute of knowing it.

The fire demon's crimson eyes suddenly widened, his third, resplendent one giving acknowledgement to a chilling foreboding… foreboding caused by his recognition of a very familiar ki-signature nearby. No further consideration was necessary.

From there, all hell broke loose.


Chuuku-Kuwabara was barely able to evade Hiei's oncoming attack, teleporting at the very last moment as the blade hit the air to where his torso had been.

From the distance to which he was standing now, the possessed suddenly lanced the koorime's side with an elongated Rei-ken….

A Rei-ken which never hit its target as the fire demon suddenly gained incredible speeds that made him look like he was perfectly healthy and at full power, fresh as ever before.

Yet all the koorime's strikes sliced only nothingness as the being again used his influence to teleport through various distances, always in the defensive.

Kurama let out a course and throaty gasp as Kuwabara suddenly plunged into Hiei's katana.

Yet there was no rain of blood that gushed forth.

The puppet took hold of the katana imbedded within his person… or rather, within the cavity that was, in turn, within his person. Curiously, even though the curved sword has gone pretty deep within the said cavity, its pointed tip did not go through Kuwabara's back.

Hiei shook in rage as he tried to pull free his sword, but to no avail. The momentum of his desperate move, as well as the rush of adrenaline that had come with it, was quickly dissipating… and was being rapidly replaced by the damnable, gnawing pain and his ever-growing fatigue. Yet he did not relinquish his hold of his favored weapon, not at all admitting defeat.

Chuuku-Kuwabara ignored the blood dripping from his hand from holding the sharp blade as he said, "What a pity… this time you're really going to die." He made a small ki-knife which he aimed directly into the jaganshi's third eye.

The very quick and powerful thrust borne out of pure desperation cut through the air so fast that Kuwabara's body barely felt a thing.

Horror struck Kurama's features as he saw Hiei's katana fly upward into the air, glinting a crimson shine.

Chuuku… and Kuwabara… looked dumbly at his hand, part of his upper thumb missing and dripping in blood. He… or maybe they… also noted that part of Kuwabara's left ear was also missing… proof of which was the liquid warmth he felt at the side of his head down to his neck. Realization soon became evident with both the puppet and the puppeteer.

A crimson fountain sprayed through Kuwabara's upper-left breast up to most of his left shoulder, bathing him in the warmth of his own blood.

There was a long silence. There was not a stir of motion to be felt or seen inside the room.

It was so until the gleam of realization in Kuwabara's eyes was replaced by a haze of dementia.

"HIS SOUL IS MINE!!!"

Hiei looked briefly at Kurama before preparing himself at his ready stance. His eyes spoke volumes.

I have no choice but to kill him.

The two combatants flew to each other like birds of prey, their weapons like talons; ready to kill with one strike. A golden flash met up with a blue streak….

A flare of bright light assailed Kurama's senses. He was surprised by what he saw.

"Kazuma-san! Brother! Please stop!!!" Yukina shouted as flakes of ice danced around her, little sparkling jewels cascading down her cheeks.

A scream. Silence.

 

To be continued…


Next: The aftermath of the events.

Ja ne!
C. Castañeda

Chapter 4
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