A/N: Wow… uhm… been a while.
Disclaimer: I still don't own YYH, Yoshihiro Togashi does. The "Golden Age Manor" and its residents in this story again are not meant to relate in any way, shape, or form to the building and people (who live IN the manor) that exist in real life. And I am still not a "tree-hugger"… It's Kurama's views.
Scene 1: The Lumbar Yard
The work was simple, aided much by modern technology, but it was far from easy for Kurama to bring himself to DO it. Most of his coworkers were actually pleasant, though few seemed to be worthy of a decent conversation of any depth and length. He performed the duty that was required of him, but resentment was building inside along with the anger at the actions.
A couple of times he tried to discuss ecological matters with those stationed near him, but no one was inclined to listen to such talk while working toward the opposite end. After what seemed to be a small eternity, and barely audible above the machines, a bell rang into the woods from the direction of the main facility building. Everyone stopped their work, and Kurama learned that the bell signaled break tie for those performing the harder labor. He followed his fellow employees inside to a massive dining hall, where tables and chairs were set up in long rows leading away from the doors. Lining the wall to his left as he entered were trays and a buffet type set up of food.
Each of them in turn took a tray and gathered some of the meat, potatoes and the like that was offered. This wasn't normal, as most of the time the workers brought their own lunches and meals, but the company was having an appreciation week for all the "good effort" its employees were making. Everyone certainly enjoyed it, and happily sat down to eat. At first, no one sat near Kurama, most having small groups that they seemed to hang with. A few more sociable men did come and sit at his table eventually, and were semi-competent in conversational skills. Being the sly fox that he was, the youko carefully wove the conversation and discussion to find out the views of the others on what they were doing. It turned out that many had problems with such advances over nature, but were too attached to their jobs to make any fuss over it.
Finding the edge he needed, Kurama began precisely seeding thoughts of revolution into the minds of his coworkers.Scene 2: The Golden Age Manor
He had let them tell him what to wear. That was mistake number two. Mistake number one had been letting Koenma tell him what to do in the first place. He may be short, but the toddler was less then half his size, surely. Deity or not, Hiei was convinced he could kick his revered little diapered ass. If he did it quickly enough, which he obviously could, there would be no way to stop him. The only problem was what Spirit World would dare do to him afterwards; and he knew that could only be bad.
Killing Koenma was out of the question; but with him alive, Hiei was stuck making beds, checking monitors, filing papers, changing… bedpans. He scowled in disgust. He had been forced to wear white. Hiei HATED white. The pants and long jacket were far too tall for him. The nametag, however, seemed to irk him even more. He'd been forced to wear one for McDonald's, and though this one at least didn't say "Bubbles," he loathed the association it brought. He'd been able to burn down that hateful place with little trouble, despite the fox and ferry girl's admonitions. If only he could rid himself of this place so easily…
Hiei entered the tenth room on his list for the hour. He had heard an odd set of beeps before every room, and had never been able to see what infernal machine was producing them. The person inside this room was awake, but zoned so completely in front of a television set that he might as well have been unconscious. The fire demon refilled the water, taking the dirty cup and placing it on the cart he was forced to push around the halls and rooms. After a couple of moments the man turned his head calmly towards Hiei. The demon blinked at him, not willing to offer even a meager greeting.
"You new?" the question was curious and sudden, but the man's face seemed pleasant enough. He actually smiled at Hiei.
"Yes," Hiei replied, and if it were up to me I'd push you right out the window, he continued in his head. Not allowing for further conversation, he quickly turned the cart out of the room and left, hearing the beep once more. He turned around to look back inside the room, but the man was once again position as he had been when Hiei first entered, eyes locked on the TV screen. Hiei scowled and returned the cart to the kitchen room it had come from, having finished the wing for now.
The rest of the rooms on his list were those of healthier, self-sustaining residents. At least he was able to rid himself of the frustrating cart; the wheels had stuck more times than he could remember to count. All he had to do for these people was go through an idiotic checklist of idiotic questions, and make sure that everyone was "doing alright," as Mrs. Helda had put it. That, at least, only required him to carry around a clipboard and pen. With a scowl, he made his way down to the next floor. He had found out from Charice that he could kill up to 7 or 8 birds with one stone by going to the common sitting room to check on several residents at once. Hiei wished that "kill" them was not just a foolish human saying. Why say anything if you don't mean it…
Entering the common room, he lucked out to see 10 different people lazing about inside. He walked over to the first one he spotted, an elderly lady with white hair, who was about as tall as he was. She seemed to hide something as he approached, but he couldn't tell what. She looked up at him with pale, blue eyes.
"Well hello, young man," she began in a wavering voice, "What can I do for you?" She smiled a half-toothless smile as she shifted in her seat a bit to see him better.
Hiei sat down and began his checklist, marking each result on a sheet as he'd been directed. Halfway through, however, he heard whispering from the room somewhere behind him. He turned his head to see who it was, but the room was quiet once again, and no one appeared to have moved even an inch since he last saw them. Eyes narrowed, he turned back to finish the list with June, as he'd learned her name was. As he was finishing, he felt a brush of wind against his hair and neck, and quickly twisted to look. However, even with his demon speed, the room was unchanged; three were still watching television, two were playing chess and two cards, and the other two were just sitting on a couch, staring into space. Neither had anyone else been added to the room. Hiei's eyes narrowed further in suspicion. Something had been nagging at his senses all day, and the beeping was the least of it. There was something going on in this manor, but he had no clue what it was.
He stood up, preparing to move on to the next person, and felt the draft again, this time spotting a slight blur of motion out of the corner of his eye. Hiei whirled around, but again, the room and its inhabitants had not changed. Or had they… He carefully inspected the room, checking it against his photographic memory. It was then that he noticed it. No, the number of people in the room had not changed, and no, their position and what they were occupying themselves with had no either… The PEOPLE had changed. He remembered vividly the person in the middle watching TV had been a woman wearing a dark red sweater, blue pants, and had a cane resting beside her.
The person sitting there now was a bald-headed man with a checkered shirt and striped pants. The woman was nowhere to be seen.
What in the hells was going on?Scene 3: Back at the Lumber Yard
Like well-cared-for plants, the thoughts Kurama had chosen to insert—through careful conversation—into the minds of the other lumberjacks had grown beautifully. Kurama was quite proud of his work, knowing how much he could affect people even without Hiei's use of the telepathic manipulation. The beauty of this effort was that the thoughts and proceeding actions were of the others' own making, causing them to be stronger and backed up by the people's emotions as well.
It turned out that below the rough and tough exterior of many of the men working the job laid a core of softer feelings, and a disdain for their own employment. They make good money, but tore down more trees and destroyed more homes for woodland animals than they had expected or wanted. Some had secretly taken squirrels and chipmunks home with them when they destroyed their homes. One had a garage full of birds he'd saved in the forest. Another had a family of deer. But what pleased Kurama most was the few who had mentioned unusual plants they had found and saved from devastation. Yes, it was easy to lead them to think about the wrong they were doing; but now what would they DO about it?
Like a breath of fresh chlorophyll, a voice from the end of the table boomed, "We should protest!"
Kurama didn't have to say or do anything after the suggestion, it seemed to spread like wildfire as many of the workers around him avidly seconded and furthered it. Each one added his loud voice to the cry, sending their more detailed thoughts along with it. By the time the commotion reached the end of the room close to the boss' office, plans were made, laid, and set far too strongly to be broken now. A good 60 of the workers were riled up about protesting, and some actually stood on the long tables to have their ideas heard more clearly and strongly. Others had long traded their trays of food for sheets of plastic on metal rods, creating their own picket signs, avoiding using any wood at all.
All the while, Kurama sat and watched, not having to say a word or issue an order, or spark any new ideas as the men had taken over responsibly for the revolt, and were going strong on their own. He folded his arms, allowing himself a smug smile. This would show Koenma… Kurama was not a puppet to be dictated. If he did not want to do something, then he wouldn't do it! He had to stick up for himself for once in this pathetic human life.
After hardly any time at all, he could hear vehicles approaching through his sensitive Youko ears. Curious, he left his reclusive spot in the back of the room and walked outside to see who could be arriving. With a smile, he was greeted with the sight of several news channel vans, and camera crews hopping out of the sliding doors, all ready to start recording the events going on as the employees headed out of the building, holding their signs high and chanting against the evils of deforestation.
Good little puppets, he thought.Scene 4: Golden Age Manor
It had been going on too long, and Hiei had had enough. He relaxed himself, allowing his senses to take over. Whatever trick these people were pulling, he'd be able to see through it. Aiding his more ordinary senses was, of course, the Jagan. It opened now behind his bandana, the cloth barely hiding the luminous purple glow. As he watched, there was another blur of movement to his left, only this time, it slowed as he trained his eye upon it. In shock, he watched as elderly and supposedly infirm women sped into the room, exchanging seats with a similarly aged man, who in turn left by the same manner by which she had appeared. Hiei's eyes widened at the impossibility of the sight. How could such an old human possibly do such a thing? Though no rival to his own, the speed of the two and any who had done so before them was faster than he'd seen on any human save maybe Yuusuke.
Something was wrong. Old humans with that much spirit ability? No… they wouldn't be in a nursing home if they were truly that strong. They'd live alone and grow into hags like Genkai. His eyes then narrowed in thought. So what is different about these humans… He walked towards the woman who had entered, no longer worrying over his expression. He wanted the truth.
She looked up as he stepped in the way of her view of the TV across the room. Blinking up at him from the couch, she smiled an old-lady smile and patted the seat next to her. "Hello, young man. Have a seat near me?" Her voice sounded sweet and unassuming, but there was a quality to it that didn't fit someone of her age. It almost sounded as if she was trying to sound old.
Suspicion growing, Hiei sat down on the cushion next to the white-haired woman, turning towards her. Keeping his voice low, conspiratorial yet demanding as usual, he asked, "I saw you… how did you possibly do that?"
At first, the woman blinked back at him innocently, then smiled when he gave no indication of letting it go. "How did I do what, dear?" Her voice was sweet and indulgent, but he could detect her suspicion of him.
"How did you move that fast… switching places with that old man?"
It was then he heard the beep once again. In his heightened state of awareness, he recognized it as coming from the woman's bag. Quick as a flash, he had riffled through the offending purse, producing what looked like, as the fox had called them, a "walkie-talkie" machine. He had considered the name silly then, and no less now as he studied the contraption. As he held it, a voice came from it, mentioning something about the common room, and the new orderly who had come in being there…
Before he could hear any more, the woman snatched the talkie…thing back from him. "Now, young man," she began, the sweet tone absent from her steady voice as she gave him a reprimanding glare, "it's not polite to take things that don't belong to you…" She put the machine back in her bag and regarded him suspiciously. "So, you are more perceptive than we gave you credit for…"
Hiei's eyebrows rose slightly. "We?"
The old woman, not looking quite so old anymore, smiled. "Yes, we…" her voice got softer, "We are not ordinary people." When Hiei showed no reaction, she continued, "A small portion of the residence in this building did not lead regular lives… we were ninjas."
"Shinobi?" Hiei looked surprised. He would not have thought old Shinobi would end up in a home for human derelicts. He suddenly found his employment that much more distasteful. He hated Shinobi.
The woman nodded, and suddenly several of the other people he had seen around throughout the day appeared in the room, gathering around Hiei in a tight circle. Hiei stood, tensed and ready for whatever these out of work ninjas were up to. It was clear that they hadn't lost their abilities.
One of the men stepped forward, voice shaking with age, saying, "We don't like new orderlies here, young one… And you have a bad attitude. You should leave." His last statement was met with agreement by every one of the circle surrounding the fire demon, and they started to close in.
Seeing no better way out, considering their speed, and simply ticked off enough to want a fight, Hiei threw a kick at one of the Shinobi men, knocking him over and into a woman. Suddenly, all of the zoned-out normal elderly people turned their way and exclaimed in shock. "He's beating them up!" Slow as they were, they still rushed over and joined in the melee, beating Hiei with canes, walkers, ramming him with wheelchairs, choking him with IV lines, and using any medical attachment available to attack the offending orderly.
Hiei found himself at the bottom of a stockpile of people bent on maiming him. He growled, pushing his way out and using his Jagan to freeze them in place temporarily, then used his super speed to phase out of the room and out of the building, continuing into the trees down the long driveway.
This was a nightmare.Scene 5: Lumber Protest
It had been an incredible sight. All of his work paying off, gentle guiding producing perfect results. Kurama was immensely pleased with himself. He was such an intelligent being, orchestrating all of this, changing the focus of each and every employee he talked to. It was going according to plan, to the very last letter on the picket signs. Perfectly.
Perfectly, that is, until sirens were heard approaching. The police had been called to break up the riot. Now each of those who revolted were being placed into handcuffs and stuffed into large police vans that held many of them at once. Reports were being taken from the bosses and some of the workers about everything that had happened. They were all pinpointing Kurama as the instigator. The squirrels, of course, would have reported otherwise, but their reports were not recorded, and would have been considered biased.
After only a short while, in which he was kept under constant surveillance, unable to escape, the officers made their way over to Kurama. "You the cause of all this trouble, kid?" the big one asked, a pen and pad of paper in his hands.
"Apparently," Kurama answered. "Haven't you ever felt sorry for small animals being stripped of their homes so you could build yours? How would you feel if some large creature took all of your houses to make a large building for himself? If someone killed you, and used you as building material? Cut you down to burn as fuel? Cleared out you entire community so that he could build his? Do you find that fair? I don't think it is." After he finished, all of the rioters who were in earshot applauded and cheered him on.
The officers looked at each other, then the big one put away his paper, tucked his pen in his pocket, and sighed. "I've changed my mind," he said. "I'm not going to arrest you."
Kurama hid a smirk. Right into my hands… "Oh?" he asked calmly.
"No," the officer said. "I'm having you committed." The rest of the officers laughed, harder even at Kurama's utterly shocked expression. "Bag him, boys!" came the order, which earned Kurama a straight jacket as he was herded into a van all his own, and sent off to an asylum.
A/N: I am so sorry that this took me about a year to get another chapter up. The summer was insane, then the fall semester I was sick with tonsillitis about 5 times and finally had them taken out during the break. Then I sliced into my finger by accident, which it just now healed (this was the before the spring semester started). And these classes have been busier than usual. I hope to write more and finish this over the next couple of months, since there are only at more 3 chapters left! If you are still with me, thanks so much for still reading! Draith