Death… Such an ominous word. A controversial subject too; is it the end of everything? The beginning of something else? She'd never really given it much thought, then again why should she? 24 year olds didn't really have a reason to think of such things. She'd been at the top of her game, training hard for her second attempt at the Olympic games, when suddenly, it all ended.
There are many ways one can die, humans being of a rather fragile constitution and all that.. Unfortunately she hadn't died heroically trying to defend someone from thugs, or jumping in front of a car to save an old lady. No she'd gone the snow white road and choked to death on a misplaced chunk of apple… ok it was technically a pear, but you get the point.
One could always hope that the next time she opened her eyes, it would be to see the loving expression of her beloved, who had saved the day by giving her the 'kiss of life'. Too bad for her that her particular snow white version didn't include that happy ending… Hell she didn't even really have time for friends during her lifetime, let alone a 'beloved'.
She sighed as she realized how one track minded her short life had actually been, all she'd ever focused on was her fighting and the consequent tournaments she wanted to win. Bringing home a medal to parents who had died in a car crash when she was fourteen. Ok, so she'd lied when she said she'd never really given much thought to death. She'd just never really given it much thought with regards to herself. Really, she'd always considered herself a rather level headed person, dwelling on death and its 'may or may not be' consequences was a useless waste of time.. so, she didn't do it.
However, level headed she may be, but the feeling of choking to death didn't exactly turn out to be enjoyable, and sheer panic had soon replaced said level headedness. It wasn't really odd then, that when she next opened her eyes, she was screaming and clawing at her throat like some deranged animal. Her fuzzy brain taking several minutes before it registered that she was no longer choking.
Only, she wasn't sure she even had a brain any longer. Sure, she could see her body when she looked down.. But strangely enough that was just about the only thing she saw. Everything else around her was a kind of strange pale white. No shapes, no solid objects, no smell, nothing.
She'd been lying down, but as she stood up and turned around there was nothing there. "Hello?" Her voice sounded rather eerie.. sucked up into a place with no walls to bounce the sound waves back to her.
Was this supposed to be heaven? If so, was she even supposed to be conscious? Or was this some sort of malfunction? She shook her head. Maybe she was dreaming and her body was actually lying in a coma in the hospital or something. Though how on earth choking could wind up causing a coma was beyond her.
Not knowing what to do she sat down, there didn't seem to be any point in walking. She had no direction to take, no walls to follow in hopes of finding a door. She took a deep, steadying breath.
"Sorry I'm late."
She turned to the sound of the voice, strangely enough she didn't feel startled or frightened. Somehow her subconscious had accepted that 'the worst' had already happened to her anyway. Her eyes widened to miniature saucers when she noticed the toddler behind her. Dressed in his signature blue and red outfit he stood erect with his hands clasped behind his tiny back as he diligently suckled his baby blue binky.
If it weren't for the fact that she was no longer corporeal, she would've fainted. As it stood, she settled for merely gaping at him, an unbelieving expression on her face. The toddler just stood there looking back at her, waiting for her to come to grips with herself. After what seemed an eternity, she shook her head as if to wake herself and looked him over, doubt apparent in her eyes.
He gave her an encouraging smile. "Indeed."
She pointed a shaking finger at him. "But you… you're…"
His face was calm and his eyes patient as he interrupted her. "Not real?" He smiled. "If being part of the realm of spirits makes me 'not real' then I'm afraid you are currently as non-existent as myself."
She blinked, then sighed. "So I really am dead then?" He nodded. "I'm afraid so, choking does that to a body."
She grimaced and unconsciously touched her throat again.
"Why don't I feel more… unaccepting of this fact? more panicked?"
She gave him a questioning look and he shrugged. "Each person reacts different, some accept the reality of it more readily than others. As for the panic, such instincts are part of the body's functions to survive, seeing as you are no longer corporeal, and thus have no need for survival urges, they are gone. You are merely your soul now."
She nodded but then gave him another quizzical look. "But if you actually exist, how come I know you as an anime character from a tv show?"
Koenma rubbed his forehead between thumb and forefinger as though in exasperation. "Ah yes, that."
He sighed before looking at her again. "Well as you surmised yourself, souls end up here at the way station, even when their bodies are merely momentarily incapacitated. Such as, in a coma." He gave her a stern look when she started glowing hopefully. "Though I assure you this is not so in your case."
He started pacing before he continued. "Your world's Togashi Yoshihiro was one such case. He got knocked out falling down the stairs and remained at the hospital, unconscious for several days. During this time his soul resided here with us. Unfortunately his curiosity got the better of him and combined with my staff's lax responsibility he ended up getting his hands on some very confidential files."
He shook his head before he stopped pacing and looked up at her again. "I suppose you can surmise the rest."
She grinned from ear to ear. "You mean the story of yu yu hakusho he wrote was based on the records he found here? As in… they're REAL?"
Koenma groaned. "Well, yes.. Though he thought he'd dreamed the whole thing and thus that the idea of the story was his own creative imagination. We decided to leave things be, seeing as your world and theirs cannot interact anyway, there seemed little purpose in erasing his memory."
Her face fell, yu yu hakusho had been her favourite show growing up. It had been kind of a crutch for her after her parents had died, and she'd found inspiration for her training in the tenacity of its main cast. It would've been awesome to actually meet them, but with no interaction allowed, that possibility was apparently not an option.
She sighed. "So then, I guess this is the end?" At that Koenma grinned a little maliciously. "Not quite."
She looked at the strange contraption that seemed to be holding some kind of fog trapped inside it, swirling around in restless circles.
Koenma floated in the air beside her, tiny hands still clasped behind his back. She turned to him with a questioning gaze, unsure why he had taken her here. "What is this?"
He stared at the trapped fog, a sad light seemed to emanate from his eyes before he answered. "That, is a lost soul."
She looked back at the contraption in horror, 'lost' had such a negative ring to it. She took a step forward and lifted her hand, but refrained from touching the glass exterior.
Koenma sighed deeply. "I brought you here because I have a proposition to make you."
She turned around to look at him, wondering what the ruler of the spirit world could possibly want from her.
He lifted his chin up to the soul, flickering his eyes over to it for just a second before piercing her with a regard that meant business. "Though she wasn't featured in your little tv show, she is a relation to someone you probably know." He smiled sadly. "That is the soul of Genkai's sister's granddaughter."
She gasped, before turning back around to the swirling mist. The story she knew never mentioned much about Genkai's personal life, apart from having been involved with Toguro at one point. "It makes this a lot easier that you already know much about the three world's balance of their universe, though spirit world balances out with worlds of many universes theirs is a unique case, as they have both the human and demon world. A kind of ultimate form of yin and yang."
He sucked fervently on his binky for a moment as he turned back to look at the sad soul. "As you know, after the Sensui debacle the barrier between their worlds was taken down. Enki won the demon tournament and ruled quite peacefully. We were however, not so lucky with the second tournament's winner." He sighed before continuing. "Yusuke, Yomi and Mukuro are keeping trouble down to a minimum, but according to the rules Onigo has the final say in everything. The third tournament will take place one year from now, but as things are, we need all the help we can get."
She frowned slightly while looking at him, but didn't want to interrupt his story. He smiled as though he understood her unspoken question. "Now, you're wondering what all this has to do with this here lost soul. Let alone with you and the deal I wish to propose."
She slowly nodded.
"As you know, Genkai was one of the strongest psychics of this age. Still is really, even with the bulk of her powers gone." He cleared his throat before continuing. "As you may have realized from the Kuwabaras, spirit energy and awareness tends to be a family trait."
Despite her earlier resolution she couldn't help interrupting him. "So Genkai's sort of grandchild had a lot of spirit power?" He gave her a curt nod. "But that's not all there's to it." She turned back to look at the soul swirling around in the glass container again, wondering how she'd ended up like this. Koenma sighed, before continuing.
"Genkai's sister fell in love with a demon, her child therefore, was a half breed. Unfortunately the demon energy inside her waged a constant war with her human spirit energy, which eventually drove her insane. I suspect she might have gained better control with training and the absence of her father from her life left her with little to no guidance on the matter. But I digress.." He gave her a pained look.
"Her daughter, the one whose soul we're observing, was only a quarter demon. This gave her human energy enough strength to keep her balanced, though like her mother she unfortunately did not pursue any form of training. When her demon powers started manifesting in the form of precognitive abilities, she believed she was going mad like her mother before her. Which, among other things, sadly led to her attempting to take her own life."
He fell silent as he looked at the poor soul in front of them. When he still hadn't spoken after several minutes she turned to him.
"What does all this have to do with me though?" Koenma blinked, as though startled out of his musings. "Ah, yes, I was getting to that." He tried to smile, but it didn't seem heartfelt. "Her suicide attempt was not fully successful, as in, her body is not yet dead. I would like to offer you the chance to take over her life. In return, I want you to train diligently, as you did in your previous life, and pledge your services to the Reikai."
Her eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets. "You want me to steal her life from her?" She looked at him in utter shock. He blinked rapidly and shook his head. "Oh no, no! Don't misunderstand." He sighed deeply, before closing his eyes. "I hold deep respect for Genkai and would not wish to destroy the life of her relation." He turned back to look at the soul. "Rei, that was her name by the way, was deeply depressed and even if I were to give her body back to her she would be fighting a losing battle. She is not strong enough to handle her heritage, both mentally and physically."
He turned back to her with a serious look. "Plus I cannot simply place a soul from one realm, into the other. It would upset the balance. No, I intend for her soul to go to your, relatively safer, world. She will be reborn into a loving family, as a normal human child. She will lead a happy life. You, on the other hand, will have your work cut out for you. If you accept my bargain that is." She squinted her eyes at him. "And if I don't?" He shrugged. "Then you'll have to take your place in the realm of spirits until your scheduled reincarnation."
She seemed to ponder this for only a moment. "What makes you so sure that I'll be able to handle her 'heritage' as you call it?" Noticing she hadn't outright refused made him smirk and he turned his back to her in order to head towards his office. She followed him after casting one last glance at the soul, listening as he spoke to her over his shoulder. "Despite my, undoubtedly, many faults, I AM a good judge of character. You're disciplined, tenacious and an experienced fighter. This, combined with the fact that you chose a rather opportune moment to die.." She flinched at his words. "Makes you a very good candidate. Not to mention the fact that you already know the basics of the worlds you will be joining."
She took in the rather limited décor of his overly large office as they walked in. "You said you wanted me to pledge my services to the Reikai, does that mean I will be working with the Reikai Tantei?" Koenma smiled a bit dreamily at her mentioning the name, but then sat down at his desk with an inelegant thud. "Ah, the good old days. No you will not be working with them, as they no longer work for me." He grumbled a bit after that. "Though one can wonder if they ever truly did, considering how well they respond to orders."
Her face fell, seeing her disappointment, he smiled. "Your story ended what was in that world five years ago, their lives have continued in that time you know. They still play a major part in the safekeeping of both the human and the demon world and I help them in any way I can, but I can't say they 'work for me' in the sense that you will be." She nodded, taking a deep breath, she'd already made her decision anyway. What was there to choose? She couldn't go back to her old life, if she waited for reincarnation she had no guarantee she'd have a good life then, or meet any of the friends and family she'd known in this one. If she accepted his offer she'd be able to discover the use of spirit energy, reach heights in her fighting she'd otherwise never have reached and, despite Koenma's obvious reluctance on the subject, she might even meet the guys who'd been a major source of inspiration for her.
Koenma grabbed a stack of papers and placed them on his desk with a pen, then he leaned forward on his hands. "So, have you made your decision? Her body will only remain open to soul placement for another hour, I would love to give you more time to consider.. But I'm afraid time is of the essence." She stepped up to his desk and grabbed the pen.
"I accept your offer."