Jewel of Circumstance – a YYH/IY Crossover Chapter 1 - The Assignment
The Tokyo city square was as busy as ever; people with briefcases running to their next appointment. Friends meeting each other for lunch, or to have a chat before heading back to work. In other words, it was business as usual, nothing much different than the day before. Perhaps it was because of this that Koenma, the near-ruler of the underworld, the 'Spirit-world' as some liked to call it, had no qualms about sitting on a bench, wearing a pair of faded blue jeans and a blue t-shirt. Of course, he looked like any normal human being, even if the purple bandana over the 'Jr' mark on his forehead clashed with his blue shirt. But if one were to pay more attention to him, they might wonder about the strange way he seemed to be sitting so perfectly still as if his chest did not rise and fall with every breath, or the way he seemed to radiate a peculiar aura unlike anything else. Those who met his golden stare would suddenly find unexplained shivers tingling up and down their spine, and would quickly walk on.
Not that he minded being left alone. It was simply best to blend in, anyhow. He loved mingling with humans, and always had. It was something he couldn't quite explain, either, and hadn't exactly tried. Even the spirit world couldn't explain everything, and he didn't see the need to. It was just something he enjoyed. He enjoyed being around them, watching them go about their daily routines, occasionally stopping to toss a coin in the fountain behind where he sat. He even enjoyed being in this form more and more rather than his baby form. In truth, his adult form had once been his normal look…but that had been then. This was now.
He was waiting on Yusuke to arrive, having had Botan give him the notice several days before that Koenma wanted to speak with him. It had been almost a year since Yusuke's return from the demon world. The young former detective had been on Koenma's mind for as many days, as Koenma decided what he wanted to do. He would, of course, give Yusuke back his job, but Yusuke didn't know that. It was what he needed to discuss with him, to make sure that he was still up for the task. Koenma already had a task in mind for him, as well, and needed to be more than 100% sure that Yusuke's demon side would have no affect on how he did his job.
Something inside of Koenma told him that it was a bad idea to let Yusuke continue working for the Reikai. And yet, there was also the smaller, subtler voice inside of him that insisted that Yusuke was not evil and never could be, despite his demon side. Perhaps the arrogant young man had been quite the wise guy at the beginning, but that was the beginning. That had been years ago, and Yusuke had come a long way since then. A long way. Koenma didn't exactly want to recall all of the events…and was sure that Yusuke didn't want to recall them, either.
But at the same time, Koenma couldn't ignore the time when Yusuke lost control of his demon side, and knew that there would be a time when that demon side would want desperately to come out. Koenma had already spoken to Hiei and Kurama about this particular assignment, and enlisted them to help, but he knew that not even they could control Yusuke should his demon side emerge. Still, they were needed, and at least Kurama, if not Hiei, would be more than willing to do what he could.
But it was decided. Yusuke would get his job as Spirit-world detective back, and Koenma would once again gain more stress than he ever thought possible.
At that moment, the cause of his headaches came strolling into the square, also sipping on a cup of coffee and looking as calm as ever even though Koenma could also see a small hint of nervousness in his chocolate-brown eyes. Koenma forced back a grin and allowed Yusuke to sit next to him before he spoke.
"Good to see you, Urameshi," Koenma said, using Yusuke's last name instead of the familiar first. "Been a year, has it?"
"Cut the conversation bit, Koenma, why did you want to see me?" Yusuke had never been one for conversation, especially not when it came to Koenma and spirit world issues.
Koenma chuckled. "Tsk tsk, always one to get straight to the point. I should have remembered that. Well, since you're so eager to know, it's about your position as a spirit world detective."
"I figured as such. I've been wondering when you were going to give me my job back."
"I didn't say I was."
The look on Yusuke's face erased any fears Koenma might have had as to whether he wanted his job back or not. However, he quickly held up his hand and said, "Let me finish. I have to discuss some things with you first."
"Like?" Yusuke's voice was strained.
"Such as the little rule that has stayed in place for the spirit world for the last four hundred years. The rule that says we can't hire demons or those with demon blood to hunt down their own kind. Too many complications."
"But, you know I-"
"I know, I know," Koenma interrupted, giving Yusuke a stern look. "I know that you controlled your demon side at the Demon World Tournament, and believe me, I know that it is a tremendous accomplishment. However…there's nothing that proves that you can control it again. There will come a time when your demon side will want out, and it will fight hard to get out. How do you know that you will be able to control it then?"
Yusuke didn't answer, merely staring at Koenma with a look of hopelessness. It was clear that he wanted desperately for Koenma to hire him again, also desperately wanting to prove himself. Koenma sighed inwardly.
"However, you are the only spirit world detective we have available at this point. Kurama and Hiei are indebted to us whether they would like to believe otherwise or not. The punishment we gave them for stealing the artifacts of darkness was the most lenient punishment we have ever given anyone in their position. Therefore, they will always be indebted to us. That does not make them spirit world detectives. I am telling you this because…I would like to give you your job back, yes. On one condition…"
The light in Yusuke's eyes brightened and then faded with the last three words. "What condition?"
"That you be the one to train the next recruit."
Yusuke snorted. "Is that all? That's easy."
"Easier than you might think," Koenma said, a twinkle in his eyes.
Yusuke ignored it. "So, I have my job back?"
Koenma nodded. "Indeed. You can start back tomorrow. I need you to investigate something for me."
"Why not today?"
"Calm down, Yusuke. I've enlisted Kurama and Hiei's help with this, and they will meet you tomorrow at the station." He handed Yusuke a white piece of paper with an address written on it. "This is where I want you to go. There is an ancient shrine there, built to honor a battle long ago against a particularly powerful and vicious youkai. There has been a strange, unknown energy around this area, and I need you to investigate it."
Yusuke stared at the piece of paper and nodded. "Is there anything else I should know before I go? Should I contact you if things get ugly?"
"Don't worry, I'm sure you'll be able to handle it," Koenma said. "Good luck."
With that, he promptly turned to walk away, leaving Yusuke to stare after him with a bewildered expression on his face. He was hoping inside his heart of hearts that he was doing the right thing. How would he be able to face himself in the mirror if he was wrong? Perhaps he should have told Yusuke the story…the story behind the shrine. The story that had been haunting him for centuries.
He couldn't do it. He couldn't tell Yusuke yet…no…he could only let Yusuke find out for himself. Hoping, inside his heart of hearts, that Yusuke, also, would do the right thing.
Yusuke, on the other hand, was elated. He immediately went to Genkai's to tell her, and of course where Yukina was, Kuwabara was also. Genkai smiled at the news, and nodded her head in her quiet way of approval, saying nothing.
Kuwabara was never one to be quiet. "Urameshi!!! I can't believe you'd still want to go back to that. After all the times you've almost been killed because of these 'assignments', you'd want to do it all over again!! And what about the time you were killed? We haven't forgotten that one, you know. Not to mention that we get dragged into these situations, too."
Yusuke scoffed. "Yeah, but I came back to life. I came back, and I'm still here. And what am I doing with my life? High school is over for me, remember? I'm done…through. I can't take this day-in, day-out routine, you know that. What else have I got? Besides, no one is asking you to help me this time."
Kuwabara sighed and shook his head. "Keiko's not going to be happy about this, you know. She just wants you to live a normal life."
Yusuke's shoulders slumped. "I know she does. I'd like to be able to, but I just can't. This past year has been driving me insane. I thought everything would just go back to normal but it isn't. I can't even hear myself think anymore, it's like everything is so noisy. Noise, noise, noise, and all that goes away when I'm fighting. When I'm not doing anything, I have noise, and turmoil."
Genkai listened to all of this with silence, knowing all the while that Yusuke was gauging her reaction out of the corner of his eye. They'd been through all of this before…Genkai telling him to fight, and fight hard, but to also learn to live. Him replying that he lived when he was fighting, and felt dead the rest of the time. Genkai had said nothing then, and Yusuke had always wondered why.
Finally Genkai rose to her feet and opened the door, staring at the sunshine and the gardens outside her tiny house. She was silent for a moment. The others knew that she was about to say something, and remained silent, waiting.
She sighed, and said in a low, wistful voice, "I remember my father telling me stories when I was a child…stories about old Japan, before this country was even named as such. I remember those stories vividly, as though they happened before my very eyes. In those days, my father said, this countryside was covered with youkai. Most were low-level, easy to kill, but enough to be feared. I wanted to know why there weren't any youkai anymore, and my father told me that there were, but that they were hiding. They were the ones who escaped. Escaped from what, I wanted to know. The demon seal, my father said. I had heard of the demon seal before, for my father knew much of its existence. But I never really questioned why he knew…or how."
Genkai smiled as a warm breeze brushed her face. "My father came from a long line of demon hunters known as the Taijiya. They were, at one time, the only resource for demon extermination. In fact, that's what they were known as, rather than demon hunters. My father naturally picked up the profession, not out of obligation, but because he had a passion for it, and above all else, he wanted to keep his family safe after his father was killed. He was a great man…a wise man; strong, intelligent, and kind. He had always encouraged my desire to learn the martial arts, but never did he encourage me to hunt demons. 'Smarter than we are at times,' he said. I believed him then, and I believe him now. Even though he'd been trained to hunt demons, my father was against it."
"Why?" Yusuke asked.
"He stopped hunting demons long before I was born," Genkai replied. "Because after the incident that made him decide that, he was never the same."
Genkai returned to a sitting position, and took another long sip of her tea before beginning her story.
"My father was hunting a particularly strong demon that had ravaged a small village not long before. She was unlike anything he'd ever seen, he said. A bewitching sight, which is not hard to believe. My father was also quite the lecherous man, although he knew when and where it was not appropriate to let it get to his head. But at any rate, this demon was strong, and he knew he had to be careful.
"She led him to an abandoned area, where she knew he'd be alone. He thought she was going to attack him, and wished he'd brought more backup, but it was too late. However, she did not attack, but instead appeared to him. He told me that she did not appear threatening, and not in that she was quite beautiful, but because of the way she stood there, so unafraid of him but at the same time so flippant about the situation. He was prepared for her to strike at any second, but was not prepared for when she took her enchanted sword and laid it on the ground in front of him."
"What was the significance of that?" Kuwabara asked. "If she was a demon, she could have used her own powers."
Genkai smiled. "Indeed. But the laying of her sword upon the ground signified to my father that she was offering him a peace treaty. True, she was powerful and most likely did not need her sword, but that was not important."
"What did he do?" Yusuke asked.
"He did not know what to do, but something touched him then, something that he could not explain. He didn't know why a demon would offer a peace treaty…no demon before had ever done that. All of them simply wanted to fight to prove their strength. He thought perhaps she was going to trick him, but she did not. He told her that he was hunting her for the destruction of a village, and that she needed to pay for her actions. She said to him, 'The destruction of the village resulted in no lives lost. I was merely wanting to retrieve a loaf of bread for a blind woman who cannot walk well, and lives alone, far from the village. The people there knew I was a demon and confronted me. I defended myself. Tell me how that is wrong.
"He asked if that was the truth, but inside my father knew it was. He told me that he did not know how he knew, but he knew. And so he let the demon girl go."
"Is that why he stopped hunting demons?" Yusuke asked.
"No. That is not why," Genkai replied. "He stopped hunting them because years later, that same demon girl saved his life. During a demon raid, she intervened just as my father was about to be impaled. She was impaled, instead."
A chorus of gasps sounded through the room. "Did she die?" Yukina asked.
"No, she lived. Demons are much harder to kill, as you know. Eventually she and my father fell in love. Wipe that look off of your face, Urameshi. I am not their illegitimate love child. They had no children, and later lost contact. He never heard from her again."
"How sad," Yukina said wistfully.
Genkai smiled and shook her head. "No, it wasn't sad. Because of her, my father realized that some demons are not as bad as others. But he didn't want to run the risk of mistaking a good one for a bad one, and vice versa. He stopped hunting, too afraid of making the wrong choice. If he had chosen to kill her that day, he would have died before meeting my mother. Things like that make me stop and think about how the choices we make today affect the future. We never know. However, it does no good thinking about the consequences. You can only act, and hope for the best results. But it is always good to act…it is never good to do nothing."
Yusuke nodded in agreement, and then thought a moment before asking, "So…what exactly are you saying?"
Genkai sighed and shook her head. "I'm saying that I am glad that you aren't doing nothing. Working for Koenma again might not be the right decision, but it also might be the perfect decision. You can only wait to find out, but it is good that you are doing something."
Kuwabara slapped Yusuke on the back, hard, earning him the trademark Urameshi Glare ™. "Well, Mr. Action, why don't we step outside and brush up your skills. You've probably gotten pretty rusty this past year."
"I'll show you rusty," Yusuke replied, gritting his teeth and rolling up his sleeves.
Genkai rolled her eyes and muttered, "Here we go again…"