AN: Takes places after the last episode and is very slightly au as it contradicts canon a tiny bit. This story also plays with the idea of various sexual and romantic identities. Also, as a warning to avoid upsetting people at the risk of a spoiler, this story does contain character death.

They kissed.

The first thing that happened to him as he returned to Earth was being kissed by Keiko. It was strange. Yusuke found none of the hundreds of things he had heard about love on Keiko in the contact. It felt like nothing more than a kiss on the hand, flesh brushing against flesh. His heart didn't race, and he didn't feel like electricity was running through his body.

How strange, he thought to himself. He had waited months for this, and there was... nothing. There was even a small part of him that told him, Stop. This is wrong. You don't want this. What he once felt for Keiko was gone.

Yusuke figured that this was one of the things you had to grow to love as an adult, like how sex was supposed to hurt the first time. So he pushed the disturbance down, though he did move his head to break the kiss before Keiko showed any intent of doing so.

"Woah, easy tiger," Yusuke teased. "We'll have all the time in the world to kiss in places where we won't get sand up our asses."

Keiko laughed and sat up. Her weight rested on Yusuke's waist, and she had a leg on each side of him. Her palms rested on the fighter's chest.

"Really, Yusuke. You used to pull up my skirt while we were in middle school, and now you don't want me to kiss you? Are you even the same Yusuke that I knew?"

Yusuke held up his hands, like he was defending himself. "Come on! I'm the same good ol' Yusuke, just wiser and more mature now. Spending time in Demon World will do that to you."

Though he might not want to currently kiss her, that didn't mean he no longer cared for her. She would always be a dear friend to him.

"Then maybe all men should spend some time there," Keiko joked. She stood up and held out her hand. "Let's go up. I'm sure everyone wants to talk to you."

"You took the words right out of my mouth!" Yusuke said before taking her hand and hopping up.

Keiko held his hand as they walked up the shore. The contact felt uncomfortable for Yusuke, like a untruthful promise. But he didn't give it too much thought. He was probably just too used to having contact with demons.

The people on the beach met them halfway, and when they were standing right across from each other, it was then that Yusuke felt the beating of his heart that he had been expecting.

Kuwabara was beautiful.

Yusuke couldn't stop himself from looking hm over. He was wearing a blue jacket with a lighter blue t-shirt underneath, and though Kuwabara wasn't as fit as he had been before Yusuke left, he could still see the well defined muscles hiding under his shirt, and they were beautiful. His eyes still held compassion in them. This was still the same man who gained strength from love, adored kittens, and tore down the barrier between worlds because he cared about him.

Yusuke wondered why it was only now that he was thinking of Kuwabara this way. Maybe he had just mature or it had to do with the ages they spent apart.

When the demon realized the human was staring back, a faint blush crossed both of their faces. It seemed he wasn't alone in being surprised by the changes in each other. Kuwabara shook his head, like trying to break out of a trance. He then grabbed onto Yusuke's head and squeezed.

"Why ya staring at me, punk? Got something on my face?" Kuwabara asked.

And then things shifted back to normal.

Yusuke laughed and punched Kuwabara's cheek. "Yeah, you idiot! My fist!"

Yukina gasped, Shizuru rolled her eyes, and Botan commented that boys would be boys. Kurama agreed.

Weeks had passed, but the idea of being with Keiko hadn't grown any more appealing. He enjoyed being around her, sure, but whenever their lips touched he wanted to cross the room.

The idea of it tore him up. He looked over at the sleeping form next to him and was filled with guilt. She slept peacefully with one arm wrapped around Yusuke's forearm. They had moved in together. Yusuke didn't want to move in with his mom, and Keiko had offered so he wouldn't have to find an apartment.

He watched the rise and fall of her chest. She was innocent and happily in love. She finally had the life she had dreamed of before Yusuke died for the first time.

It was a life he couldn't give her. It was a life she deserved, and he was going to snatch it away from her. He liked Keiko as a friend, a lot, but he couldn't love her like a husband.

Yusuke carefully left the bed. If he couldn't sleep, there no point staying in bed hating his life. He grabbed his coat resting on the floor.


The man turned around. Keiko had woken up when he left the bed. Yusuke balled his hands into a fist like he often did now. He knew he shouldn't be angry at Keiko, none of this was her fault, but his emotions didn't seem to care. He turned back around.

"I've got the shits. Gonna go get some medicine," he lied.

He was out the door before she could say anything.

The closest drug store was several miles away. Yusuke walked the entire way. It gave him time to think.

By the time he arrived, he had found no solution to his problem with Keiko and the sun had come up. That only put him in a worse moods since now Keiko would be worried sick about him.

"And I can't even blow off any damn steam without causing some serious harm..." he said to himself.

"Urameshi? What are you doing here?" a familiar voice asked.

The door of the drugstore slide open to reveal Kazuma Kuwabara. He had a bag in his hand.

Yusuke found a bit of his anger melting away. "Had to get away from some stuff, so I took a walk. Rather not talk about." Because although he wanted to ask for advice, he didn't want to confess to what he considered his fault to Kuwabara. He was his good friend, but he wasn't too smart when it came to relationships. The guy was an adult and still hadn't had a boyfriend of girlfriend.

"Alright. I understand." He walked out of the doorway, and the automatic doors closed behind him. "Wait, walk?! You live miles away from him!"

The demon shrugged. "So I went for a long walk, big deal. What are you doing here? It's a bit strange for a guy to be in a drugstore at sunrise, don't you think so?"

Kuwabara blushed slightly. "My sister needed me to get something for me. Anyway, let me give you a ride home. Keiko must be worried sick."

Yusuke didn't argue. Guilt now pooled in his stomach. Dammit! He had done something wrong again! He balled up his fists and took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. A warm hand was placed on his shoulder.

"You now you can always talk to me, right Yusuke? I'm here for you." Kuwabara said.

Yusuke found himself calming. The offer seemed to take a great weight off his chest. He could spill his soul to friend, confess his troubles, and the smaller man would then know just what he could do that would make everyone happy. His heart jumped in his chest. Kuwabara's hand sent electricity through his body.

Dammit. Yusuke might not know how to treat other people, but he knew himself. He was in love with Kuwabara. Wonderful. Life just grew all the more difficult, and he found himself wanting to return to Demon World. It was looking simple in comparison to this. His rage came back.

"Thanks for the offer, but I'll pass."

Before Kuwabara pulled away, he searched his eyes for any hint at what his was feeling. Hopefully, he would find some mutual affection. There was concern there, also sadness, and was that anger...?

Apparently so, because Yusuke was hit in the back of his head afterward.

"You asshole! What was that for!?" Yusuke shouted.

"You were acting all sentimental like a girl! I had to do something! Now get in the car. I need to get back before Shizuru's pms gets me killed."

The ride back to Keiko and Urameshi's house was a quiet one. The shorter man seemed more content to look out than window than actually talk to Kuwabara.

It was strange for Kuwabara to think about just how much Urameshi had changed. The passing years had done a wonder for his physique and apparently his relationship to his friends as well. The fighter kept staring at him. Even now, he could catch Urameshi glancing at him occasionally.

Of course, it didn't really help that Kuwabara stared back, but he had his reason to. He had to make sure Urameshi still looked like he was in good health and could still punch a full grown man through a wall.

He sighed. Being around Urameshi made him want to get back into fighting, which could lead to disastrous results if he followed through on his impulse. He could get kicked out of school or even his home. Then the future he had worked so hard for would be ruined.

The silence grew unbearable as they drove through the city. Kuwabara had to speak up.

"So, do you want to hear about this girl in class? Rumor is, she's-"

"I'm not in the mood," Urameshi interrupted in a small and uncaring voice. He was still staring out he window. The man's attitude had dropped since they met at the store.

Of course he isn't, Kuwabara thought. Thinking a different topic might help, he spoke again. "What's Demon World like? I bet living with those demons was like living with animals."

That got Urameshi to smile slightly. Kuwabara took it is a success.

"You could say that," the demon explained. "Chu howls like a dog when he gets drunk enough. Jin soars in the sky like an eagle during the spring."

"And what about the Mazoku? I bet they're like wolves."

Urameshi's smile faded once more. Kuwabara silently scolded himself for even asking.

"No. We're like Mourning Doves." His voice was sad and heavy with emotion. "Do you know that when a Mourning Dove's mate dies, it dies do?"

Kuwabara adjusted the air conditioner in the car. "No. Can't say I did."

"Mazoku are the same way. If my lover dies or leaves me, I'll die of a broken heart." Urameshi moved from looking out the window to reclining in his chair.

"Sounds rough."

This was news to Kuwabara. He couldn't imagine what it was like for Urameshi. His life would literally be in his partner's hands. When she died, Urameshi's life would end as well. What a horrible burden.

"Eh. What can you do? When life gives you lemons, you can over roll with it or waste your time crying." There was a brief silent moment. Kuwabara didn't really know how to respond after hearing such news, and Urameshi didn't seem to want to talk. "My house is the first right."

He pulled into the driveway. Urameshi thanked Kuwabara before getting out of the car. Keiko came running out of the front door and wrapped her arms tightly around Urameshi, which made the man's previously stressed facial expression soften.

"Yusuke! I was worried about you! I thought someone might have kidnapped you or something! If you were going to be out all night, you should have called me!"

Urameshi gently hugged her back. "Hey, have some more faith in me. There isn't a power on Earth that could harm me." Earth being the keyword.

Keiko stepped back from Urameshi. She looked over his shoulder, and Kuwabara waved when he thought she saw him. "Oh, hello there. Thank you for bringing Yusuke back."

He saw Urameshi tense as Keiko reached for his hand. "You're welcome. Hey, Urameshi, we need to hang out sometime soon, just like odd times."

Urameshi turned to face Kuwabara. "I'd like that."

With that, Kuwabara drove off. On the way home, he stopped by the pet store and bought two Mourning Doves, a boy and a girl.