Category: Anime, Rurouni Kenshin, Yu Yu Hakusho, AU, Yaoi
Warnings: violence
Pairings: will be SanosukexKenshin, KuramaxHiei
Author: Arigatomina
Email: arigatoumina
Complete Archive:


Part 1

He didn't believe in magic. Although Sanosuke considered himself superstitious, his worries concerned good and bad luck, rather than the occult. His last partner had complained that he lacked imagination, but he'd never had any reason to believe in things he couldn't see. For that reason, he was furious to think he'd die because some idiot believed in demons. And to make matters worse, he'd wasted the last month of his life pretending to be as psychotic as the rest of the cult members. If he managed to survive, he'd have to remember to work on his acting. He still didn't know what had given him away. A glinting blade invaded his vision, his eyes momentarily unfocused from the tall flames he'd been staring at. The weapon was unreal, two feet long if it were an inch, and barely wide enough for the crooked metal handle swirled around the end of it. No matter how much Masayuki had praised it, Sano had no appreciation for the design of the home-made weapon. He glared, his head tilting back against the beam they'd bound him to. The shorter man was barely a head taller now, even with him on his knees.

The black-haired man didn't meet his eyes, and Sano's glare intensified, his teeth crushing the cloths they'd pressed into his mouth. Surely he wasn't going to die like this, bled to death by a blind man who was still chanting ridiculous monosyllable words. How was Masayuki even supposed to know where he was cutting him? Before he'd managed to infiltrate the cult, Sano had been a member of the homicide team at the cult's previous attempts. From the bodies they'd found, he knew there was a pattern to the torture. He'd even had it explained to him before he realized his cover was blown. But he hadn't expected to experience it firsthand. So much for preventing more of the ritualistic murders. Masayuki's hands touched his bare shoulders and Sano looked down to the one holding the blade. He couldn't stand it. The worst part wasn't even his eminent death. He just *knew* Saito would never let anyone forget his demise. The entire squad would be calling him a bloody baka before that jerk let it pass. And bloody was right, he thought with a wince, his eyes narrowing when that sharp blade pressed down on his shoulder, a thin line of dark red that thickened as blood welled to the surface and beaded before spilling over, rivulets trailing down his chest. If Masayuki did what he'd seen at the other crime scenes, this was going to be a slow death.

The second cut mirrored the first, and Sanosuke was almost glad for the gag in his mouth that gave him something to clench in his teeth. He already knew what was next. The psychos had explained the entire ritual to him in detail. It made him wonder if they'd known he was a cop then, and if so, why they'd bothered to tell him at all. Then again, if they hadn't he might have suspected something was amiss. At least then he wouldn't be kneeling in a basin, the bottom of which was just starting to be coated with his blood. He'd seen the silver pan often enough in the last week to know much more blood would be needed before it would drain into the crystal bowl set beneath it. The blade was now curving down to make the first slash of the 'x' across his chest and he stifled a pained growl. If they'd used a physical blow, he'd have been grateful. He hadn't been cut once during his three years on the force, and he was amazed at how much those sliced lines hurt. These were a fraction deeper, though, and his head jerked back against the beam again as metal scraped its way along his ribs. His vision hazed at the instant pain of it, and he found himself staring into the leaping flames that suddenly seemed to fill the room, dark fiery red, the color of his blood.

* * *

Bloody flames burned his eyes, lapping hungrily as if he were suspended over them, and Kurama struggled to pull back from the intense heat. They were tasting him, sharp tongues lining his shoulders as the fire grew, darkening flickers that deepened seconds before his eyes snapped open. Dazed for a long moment, he didn't understand why the inferno he'd hovered over was suddenly yards away, a small blaze carefully contained in a manmade pit surrounded by stacked cinder blocks. A trickle of sweat trailed his cheek and he jerked back, emerald eyes widening when someone moved between him and that distant fire. Blue eyes sparkled at him from a shockingly normal face and an image leapt to his mind, even as he listened to the man's unintelligible mutterings. This man's eyes had watched him before, from a younger form, an infinitely familiar one that brought a name to his lips. But cloth muffled his word and he twisted his head to the side, too stunned to wonder why Yamatto's father was in front of him. He realized his bound state an instant before pain sliced a path down his chest, from his right shoulder down, arching painfully over his ribs and ending at his waistband. His mouth closed over the dry cloths filling it, and he no longer cared how he'd gone from standing outside his mother's house to being cut by his classmate's father. Fury at the inexplicable assault sparked his eyes, feeding his youki until the blue-eyed man reeled back with an audible gasp.

The envisioned inferno roared behind his closed eyes, and Kurama clenched his teeth, nearly shredding the gag as heat lanced through his body, hissing crackles reaching his ears as the kekkai asserted its dominion. His anger entwined with the pain, and he shoved the youki down, bleary eyes dropping to actually look at the cool metal he felt through his white pants. He couldn't see the markings on the outside of the square basin, his human form didn't allow for such an ability, but he recognized it as the object of power that it was. And he recognized the stupidity of his actions. He knew better than to react without first understanding his situation. He hadn't lived one third of a youko's lifespan without learning that. But he'd never been attacked once in the seventeen years he'd spent in human form, either.

The muttering had resumed after the crackling battle of youki and kekkai, and Kurama glared when the man carved a line down the left side of his body. It wasn't the kekkai that held him upright, but his hands were bound behind him somehow, and he didn't have the strength to move at all. Looking past the man, who looked so much like the last ningen he'd spoken to, he could see others beyond that small fire. They were hooded, anonymous forms with shadowed eyes. And there was something familiar about that, the way they circled the other side of the orange flames, their low echo of the man's words. They reminded him of movies he'd seen, older films, horror flicks so poorly made they'd never graduated from black and white into color. And it hit him like the punch line of some sick joke. He was the sacrifice, to a bunch of ningens who thought him nothing more than the perfect student he pretended to be. And somehow, they'd managed to find an object with such binding power that he might have stolen it in his wilder past. The question was whether they actually knew how to use it.

Yamatto's father, for the man had to be that boy's kin, considering he'd obviously drugged him somehow, was watching him with bright eyes. Kurama could feel more sweat beading his brow, but his skin felt cold now, and he didn't have to look down to know he was losing blood, quickly. The man looked even more excited now than he had before, and some part of him wanted to smack the idiot before killing him. Kurama was absolutely certain the fool had seen the kekkai's reaction as a good sign. As far as he knew, the ningen was wrong. Humans didn't have any spells that would work on him, surely they didn't. All the man could do was bleed him to death, and only the power of the basin he kneeled in kept him bound to suffer through that death. The pain he'd done his best to ignore was slipping away, replaced by creeping numbness, and Kurama wanted to sigh at the irony of it. Now he wouldn't have to worry about how he would cross back into the Makai after he tired of his ningen form. He was about to die without ever having the chance.

A frown passed over the chanting man's face and Kurama realized, with dull humor, that he *had* sighed. Giving a tired glare, he stiffened his weakening muscles and raised his head, barely feeling the hard surface his hair pressed against as he lifted his gaze to the small fire. It was so insignificantly weak and human. To think he would die so easily, by ningen hands. It was hard to believe, but that pale, bloody sun of a fire proved it. Makai flame was much more vivid, realer, darker with a heat that far surpassed anything these humans would ever know. His breathing weakened slowly, as he fought to center his blurring vision. He could almost imagine those dull flames were creeping higher, an ebony vein bleeding from the center to flicker up, consuming the red, darkening the room.

* * *