AN: This fanfic is my first fan fiction, nevertheless my first Yu Yu Hakusho fanfic. Anyway, I have no legal rights over Yu Yu Hakusho, and I am only borrowing the characters and such. I do not own Inu-Yasha (and I am only borrowing one or two things from Rumiko Takahashi) either.

All right, with all of that legal stuff out of the way, after reading this, please review! If there are any confusing thoughts or if you just want to, please e-mail me.

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"This is speech."
'This is thought.'
//This is Youko or Flashbacks//

Once Loved, Never Forgotten

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"Ha ha ha! With the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls now in my possession," Youko Kurama laughed joyously, a necklace with a glimmering pink marble as the center in his elegant hands, "I will become the most powerful demon the Three Worlds have ever known! All shall fear and obey me and my infinite power!" Kurama cackled with pleasure as he jumped through the human village with surpassing glee; the luminous fox spirit felt like he was in his World of Dreams. All the arrows and spears being shot at the demon were easily dodged. None of the villagers had enough skill to strike Kurama. Here in the weak mortal village, Kurama was invincible and unstoppable, since the resident priestess was nowhere to be--

"Youko Kurama!" a furious woman yelled as she fired her own arrow. "You shall go no further!" The enchanted arrow soared through the air with amazing speed, hitting its target right on the mark. Kurama, dropping the small jewel in surprise, glared at the archer as he found himself pinned to a tree.

"Barako, how-how dare you--" Kurama's steely golden eyes glared unmercifully at his attacker then at the arrow pierced cleanly through his white robes and his cold heart. "I thought--I thought you--You traitor! I will get my revenge on you one day! Just you wait, Barako! I will avenge this--" Golden eyes beginning to droop, the sacred arrow's spell coming into effect. The trapped fox demon then closed his eyes as he was sent to Eternal Slumber.

"All this for such a little thing, Kurama," the woman identified as Barako whispered sadly as she picked up the now ruby Sacred Jewel of Four Souls. She looked back at her burning village, and there the priestess spotted familiar mothers with their crying children, injured men trying to find their families, and the elderly hastily moving the dead away from flames and collapsing homes. "All this despair and destruction for this small, insignificant jewel--Oh, why did you do it, Kurama? Why did you do this? Kurama, why in the name of Seven Heavens did you--Ah!" The blue- haired woman dropped to one knee as she put a hand on her bleeding wound on her shoulder; crimson liquid was seeping down Barako's white priestess clothing and dripping against the ground.

A little girl with short red hair and many other villagers rushed to the ailing female warrior. Some of the villagers went to check on the condition of Kurama, everyone hoping their priestess had done her work and had killed the menacing fox-like evil apparition. "Elder Sister! Elder Sister, are you all right?!" the little redhead girl screamed, kneeling by her older sister.

"Priestess Barako, can you stand?" one of the villagers questioned as he tried to support Barako to her feet. "Let us help you, priestess." The holy woman shooed the helping villagers away as she sunk to both of her knees.

"Leave me be. I need a moment for breath."

Hinagiku furiously shook her head, tears spilling from her eyes. "Waa, Elder Sister, look at you! You have been badly wounded! We must quickly treat you! Here, let us go to our summer cottage and there I shall-- "

"No, there shall be no need for that, Hinagiku," Barako murmured darkly, looking through tragic amethyst orbs at her bloodied hand. The priestess could feel her heart throbbing within her breast. "This wound is a fatal one, Hinagiku, and nothing done now shall heal this fatal wound in good time. I shall die today, my dear younger sister."

"No!" Hinagiku screamed, crying even more. "You cannot die! I shall not allow for you to die, Elder Sister! You are the most powerful human in the world! You cannot die!"

"I am not immortal like the wandering spirits, demons, or ghouls, Hinagiku," Barako sighed, her breath growing ever more shallow. Her energy was fading quicker than she had anticipated. "Hinagiku, listen to me carefully, for I do not have much time. Burn this--" Barako handed the tiny Sacred Jewel of Four Souls to her little sister. "--with my remains, so that no more trouble shall come to our village because of my onerous burden. This jewel is too dangerous for it to exist, especially within a world of greedy and power-hungry demons like Youko Kurama. I cannot and shall not allow for this jewel to bring any more sorrow to our village and our friends--Please, Hinagiku, do as I have instructed as your last favor for your older sister."

"I shall, Elder Sister," Hinagiku cried. "I shall burn the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls for you. You do not have to worry, for I promise."

And with that promise, Barako's body grew limp and fell back, her life force now gone.


.:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. Five Hundred Years Later .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:.

"What are you saying, Botan?" Yusuke questioned suspiciously, his russet orbs trying to peer into his assistant's mind. "You aren't serious about this, are you?" Urameshi Yusuke, Botan, and Yukimura Keiko were currently comfortably sitting in one of the rooms at Genkai's temple; the Deity of Death had arranged to meet the couple and any other available Detectives at Genkai's temple because of a newly given case. Botan blushed meekly at the Spirit World Detective's question.

"I'm saying what I'm saying, Yusuke. I honestly have no idea why, but Lord Koenma has ordered me to live as a normal human being for the next five years or so--and he sent me away, just like that!" Botan explained, snapping her fingers for emphasis. "He didn't even tell me WHY he was turning me into a full-blooded human! All he said was that you, Kurama, and Hiei should do your best to protect and keep a good eye on me."

"It doesn't make any sense, though. Why in the world would Lord Koenma want to turn you into a mortal?" Keiko asked. "You didn't you do something bad in the Spirit World, did you, Botan?"

Botan pouted as she made a cat face. "Waa, is Lord Koenma punishing me because I did something wrong? I don't think I've misled any souls for the last hundred years. Meow. Oh, and he usually gives you notice if you've made a mistake. You don't actually think that Lord Koenma's angry with me, do you, Keiko?"

"Of course not," Yusuke cut in, trying to boost Botan's spirits. "Knowing the toddler, he's probably doing this for his own entertainment. Koenma always has ulterior motives, the conniving little squirt."

"The dimwit is correct, for a change," an elderly Genkai confirmed solemnly, entering the room. Yusuke gave his seasoned mentor a surprised, slightly contorted look; he hated it when Genkai sneaked up on him.

The Spirit Wave master stared down at Botan with intense curiosity; the ferry girl slightly squirmed beneath the attention. "Botan, you were sentenced to a life of a Human for a good reason, I can tell you that much. For what reason, I am not certain; perhaps only Prince Koenma and King Enma know. All I know is that your mortal body currently is adapting itself for a surge of Spirit Energy that is building up inside of you. The immense power that you will soon emit stuns me; I don't know how anyone of your limited ability is able to build that much Spirit Energy in such a short manner of time."

Botan slumped in posture, grinning nervously. She did not know whether to take Genkai's recent comment as a compliment or an insult; of course Botan was not like the others and able to build up Spirit Energy like Yusuke or Kurama, but then again, she did have her own way of contributing to the team. "Ah, thank you, Genkai?" Botan thanked awkwardly.

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Botan bowed politely to her friends as she prepared herself to leave Genkai's temple. Even if Botan was now a human, she still had errands to complete before she could enjoy a normal teenage human life; what a pity for her. "See you later, everyone! I have to go meet Hinageshi and--"

Without warning, forty different kinds of apparitions and evil spirits appeared out from the forest that surrounded the temple. "Finally, we have you, Priestess Barako!"

"What--" Botan paled as she watched the unsightly specters and malodorous apparitions raise their weapons for the deadly strike. A sickening feeling overwhelmed the maiden as she watched the mass of attackers close in upon her in slow motion. The former Spirit World Guide could feel her human blood speedily rush from her face. "Die, you bitch!" the low-class phantoms yelled.

"Spirit Gun!"

The apparitions blew up into numerous pieces inches from Botan's petrified face; luckily, no debris flew onto her. Yusuke and Genkai, behind the once-existent goblins and specters, maintained their gunning poses. "Are you all right, Botan?" Yusuke asked earnestly.

Botan was about to nod in answer, but right then, fifty other apparitions appeared from the shadows of the woods. "Prepare to meet your end, Priestess Barako! You will not survive!" they yelled out as they charged towards the sapphire-haired girl.


"Run, Botan!" Yusuke shouted as he prepared himself to shoot another Spirit Gun bullet. Beside the Spirit Detective, Genkai followed the same actions as well, her right index finger glowing with an alluring azure light. Botan, apparently the target for the demons' aggression, began to run for her newly granted life.

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"Do you enjoy stalking me like those adolescent human girls, Hiei?" the human Kurama inquired in jest as he walked along the concrete sidewalks. The redhead had just gotten out of his college seminars, and was making his way towards Genkai's temple; Botan had requested a meeting their earlier that day. "I did not know you harbored such romantic feelings for me. I wish you had told me sooner."

A blinking shadow could be seen flashing through the trees; Kurama did not have to try to make out the blur to know who it was. A tiny pebble was shot at Kurama's head, in which he easily dodged; the half-human fox demon chuckled quietly to his self. 'I'll never find anyone more amusing than Hiei,' Kurama lightly chuckled to himself. 'He's just so easy to irritate.'

"Hn, only in your dreams, fox boy," Hiei darkly replied, still in constant motion between the trees. "Can't you ever think about anything aside for your vain self, Kurama? I bet you're currently wishing for a bed partner right now, aren't you? What puzzles me is that you refuse those human girls that throw themselves at your feet." Hiei snorted in disgust. "And here you are, offering yourself to me. Ugh, you make me sick, Kurama. Lustful fox."

"I am not lustful, Hiei. I am just never satisfied," Kurama teased, grinning pleasingly. "Youko Kurama has yet to find his perfect mate, even if I am exceedingly experienced."

"Hn, then tell me which name of your many former lovers do you remember most, Kurama, if you're so 'experienced'?" Hiei questioned with an aggravated tone as he now walked along his companion. Kurama laughed a remembering laugh.

"The one I remember most, Hiei? Hm--Let me think for a moment--Ah, yes, I remember now. I believe her name was Barako."

Hiei's eyes grew wide; to joke about that name was like to joke about one's manhood. The smaller fire demon choked on his words in disbelief. "Y- You can't--Do you mean--YOU fell in love with--with HER?!"

"I see you have heard of her, Hiei," Kurama whispered almost inaudibly, his eyes slightly narrowing in boredom; the topic's interest from before had already died of its entertainment to fox demon. "And here I thought you had no relations with the female species, may they be humans or demons."

"You imbecile, what apparition in the right mind hasn't heard of her?! Barako, one of the most powerful humans in all of time, had the power to exorcise any impure soul, whether it was human, demon, or spirit. She was feared among all demons because most who came in contact with her were immediately annihilated," Hiei scoffed. "I can't believe Youko Kurama, infamous Maikai thief, fell in love with one of the most abhorred humans of Maikai, nevertheless made love with her and not get blown to smithereens. That is just sickening, even if you're only joking, Kurama."

Kurama began to laugh out loud; Hiei's rare ignorance was better than any mortal joke. Hiei growled at Kurama's laughter, knowing the ancient fox demon was currently mocking him. Hiei did not like to be made fun of. "Shut up, stupid fox boy. If you don't, then I'll everyone you've made a pet crush out of--"

"Botan?" Kurama softly asked himself as he could see the deity running down the street. The red-haired Spirit Detective was confused by the fearful look reflected in the ferry girl's eyes. The lavender orbs were begging for dire help. That was when Kurama noticed twenty hideous phantoms pursuing poor Botan.

"Botan, duck!" Kurama hastily warned, removing a crimson rose from his blood-red locks. The rose quickly transformed into the Rose Whip, and Botan nearly had a short haircut. In one swift stroke, Kurama had killed twelve of the twenty apparitions. Hiei easily took care of the rest with his katana.

"Ah, thank you so much for the help, Kurama," Botan thanked through her swift breaths for air. Her hands were on her knees as she faced the ground. Kurama leaned Botan onto himself so to be sure that she would not collapse.

"What is going on here, Botan?" Kurama asked, staring at the decapitated, now disappearing bodies of the dead. "Why in the world were those apparitions chasing you? And how in the world did they enter the Human World? Why did you just not fly away on your oar to safety, Botan?"

Botan shook her head in reply. "I don't know the answer to the first two of those questions, Kurama; and to answer the last one, the reason I didn't fly away on my oar is because I can't anymore. Lord Koenma made me an official human mortal today. Anyway, the demons just appeared out of nowhere and started chasing after me, so I ran. I don't think it was even me they were after. They were after someone named 'Priestess Barako'."

Kurama winced instantly at the sound of the name; he did not think he would have ever heard that name come from Botan's lips. Only Hiei would have been able to notice the former fox thief flinch, which he did. 'Odd,' Hiei thought to himself, 'I thought Kurama had meant her as a joke. I'll have to pry more into this later.' "Kurama," Hiei called out, "We should make our way to-"

"I have you now, Priestess Barako!" An evil sprite suddenly appeared from behind the two Spirit World, aiming straight for Botan. Unlike his deceased companions, this specter had hidden amongst the shadows in caution.

"Ah!" Botan screamed painfully as her right side was pierced. Blood spilled from her wound, as so did a small crystal orb. Kurama's emerald eyes grew wide as he followed the jewel fly through the air.

Kurama hastily caught Botan in his arms before she collided the ground. 'So, it is true,' Kurama thought to his self, his suspicions now confirmed. 'Botan has the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls within her body! //About time it was revealed! You have been waiting too long for this, Syuuichi!//'

Hiei nimbly caught the crystal from midair, having already killed the attacker. The petite swordsman's amber eyes glared at the small pink sphere within his hand. "What in Hell's name is this?" Hiei inquired in an annoyed tone.

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'//Syuuichi, what are you waiting for?! After so many long years, the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls has finally reappeared! You have to get back to Genkai's temple immediately!//' a deep, perturbed voice echoed within Kurama's mind.

"And what are you going to do about it, Youko?" Minamino Syuuichi demanded from his other self. He had just arrived from Genkai's temple, having to have had rushed Botan to there for immediate treatment on her injury. At the temple, Kurama had left the former ferry girl in care of Genkai and Yukina. Yusuke and the others had questioned about situation, but Genkai had convinced everyone it would be best to discuss the predicament after Botan had revived, which would be the next day. "The Sacred Jewel is not exactly free for all, you know, Youko. Although Botan is not experienced as its protector, her body will naturally react if someone like you were to try and steal it. Besides, are you seriously thinking about stealing the Sacred Jewel from an unconscious, not to mention wounded, human? What are you going to do if you refuse to steal the Jewel from Botan?"

'//What do you mean if you refuse? This is what you have been waiting for five hundred years, to seek revenge against Barako and her treachery. This moment is for what you have spent wretched years waiting. This is your chance for revenge against that wretch!//

"Yes, you want your revenge against Barako, Youko, but this is Botan you are talking about. She is one of your friends, one of the people that probably saved your hide from the confinements of Spirit World numerous times," Syuuichi argued, pacing nervously in his unlit bedroom. The dim light of the crescent moon filtered through Syuuchi's bedroom window.

//Fine, if you feel that way. You do not have to kill her, Syuuichi. All you must do then, Syuuichi, is to steal the Sacred Jewel from her. That is all. A plain and simple operation.//

Syuuichi stared into his mirror, only to be stared back at by a reflection of a silver-haired, golden-eyed, fox-eared demon. The human would have thought his reflection beautiful if he had not sensed the black hatred in his heart. "Youko, you know if you try to steal the Sacred Jewel from Botan now, it might awaken Barako's memories within her soul. If you awaken those memories, Botan will exist no more, and you will have to run for all eternity from the one person who has been able to catch you."

//Once you have the Jewel, you shall not have to worry about Barako coming after you, Syuuichi. When you have the Sacred Jewel in your possession, Barako shall immensely fear you. Even Yomi, with all his new power, shall fear. No one in the Three Worlds shall be able to stop you.//

Syuuichi slammed his fist against his bedroom wall in frustration. "Why is none of this going through your head, Youko?! You are not worried about Barako coming after you, Youko. What you are worried about is Botan being lost. What happens to Botan when Barako resurfaces? Does Botan disappear forever or will Barako only control Botan for a temporary moment? What do you think it feels like to lose a friend?"

//That does not matter to you, Syuuichi. That emotion has no effect on you at all whatsoever. Nothing else shall matter once you get that Jewel from Botan.//

"What about Mother? Does she not matter?" At that question, Syuuichi received no response from Youko. The reserved reflection of the demon made no effort to reply.

"Syuuichi, are you all right in there?" Shiori's voice suddenly questioned through his bedroom door. Syuuichi, whom had thought Shiori had already left the home, jumped at the sound of his mother's muffled voice.

"I am fine, Mother. You have nothing to worry about," Syuuichi quickly replied. "I was just--I was just practicing for a class."

"Ah, all right, dear. Well, I'm going to your father's and brother's now. Don't stay up too late, Syuuichi. Make sure you get enough sleep so you aren't tired tomorrow."

"Do not worry, Mother. I will be fine."

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"Did you hear that noise, Genkai?" Yukina whispered as she turned her head towards the door. The ice maiden was sitting beside and nursing the slumbering Botan, who clutched the mysterious, glowing Sacred Jewel across her chest.

"What was did you hear, Yukina?" Genkai asked, looking up from treating Botan; the master psychic was sitting beside Botan as well. "You must forgive me if I didn't hear the sound, since I'm an aged woman; your young, keen demon senses are probably fifty times sharper than mine."

Yukina's amber eyes narrowed in frightened concern. "There is someone outside, Genkai. Someone is watching us from outside, and whoever it is, he is very powerful."

Yukina's statement worried Genkai. The Spirit Wave master knew that Hiei would come to visit whenever Yukina was staying at the temple, but Genkai knew very well that Hiei carefully concealed his Spirit Energy so that Yukina would not sense him; and the elderly woman had not minded the fire demon and knew when and where at the temple he was at all times. However, Yukina's words just now meant there was an intruder on the grounds. "Yukina," Genkai started as she rose to her feet, "stay here and watch over Botan. I'm going to go check it out."

"All right. Please be careful, Genkai," Yukina cautioned. "We wouldn't want Botan having a partner by her bed side." Genkai nodded in assurance as she left the room.

Walking outside on the haunting temple grounds in the dead of night, Genkai closed her rosy-colored eyes as she tried to concentrate on the trespasser. A split second of movement caught Genkai's attention as she heard a rush of robes on her left side. "I shall not allow anyone to get in my way!" a deep, contentious voice yelled from above her.

Before she could charge her Spirit Gun, Genkai found her self anchored against a tree by snaking green ivy. Youko Kurama grinned at his performance, pleased that he had made the psychic completely immobile before she had become a nuisance to him. "Do not worry, Genkai," Youko smirked as he grinned sinisterly, "I shall not kill you since there is no real need to. All I am here for is the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls."

Genkai instantly paled. "Kurama, what are you--What do you mean by--"

She was silenced as Youko Kurama sniffed at the air. "She is here."

And before Genkai could curse at Kurama, the lustrous fox demon had sprinted across the temple grounds and found the room where Yukina and Botan were located. The nursing ice demon gasped at the sight of Kurama's demonic form. "Kurama what are you--"

Entirely ignoring Yukina, Kurama strode straight towards the sleeping Botan; and without a word, the Class-A demon reached for the shimmering jewel clutched at Botan's chest. Unfortunately for Kurama, when his hands neared the jewel, Botan's lavender eyes opened and stared into surprised steely golden orbs. Botan rubbed her eyes and moaned slightly as Kurama slightly jerked back in alarm. Botan yawned, "Kurama, what are you--"

"Argh! You shall give me the jewel!" Kurama grabbed Botan, throwing the half-asleep girl out into the temple courtyard; Botan did not have the chance to exclaim in fright as she skidded across the stone ground. After recomposing himself, Kurama leisurely walked up to Botan, who was struggling to stand on her feet. The silver fox cackled as he seized Botan's neck and lifted her two feet into the air.

"Please, Kurama, stop this! What's the matter with you?!" Botan gasped as she tried to loosen the fox demon's grip on her throat. Her wounded side, the cut now reopened, seared with pain as it demanded for immediate attention. Blood began to soak through Botan's white kimono; however, the awakened human kept her hold on the Sacred Jewel. "Kurama, why are you doing this to me?!"

"Do you not remember, Barako?" Youko Kurama hissed with a smirk, his silver hairs fanning out like a lustrous mane. "You had me pinned against a tree with one of your arrows, which slowly drained the life out of me, which is what I am currently doing to you. And like what you did to me five hundred years ago, while I watch you die, I am going to take the Sacred Jewel before your very eyes."

As she continued to struggle against her botanical bonds, Genkai furiously growled, "Kurama, don't you dare hurt Botan! Do you hear me, you idiot?! Keep away from Botan!" Kurama overlooked the old lady, as his grasp on Botan's neck remained strong.

"Please, Kurama, don't do it! You don't want to hurt Botan!" Yukina cried as she tried to pull against Kurama's grip. The ice apparition, rushing to Botan's side, tried to help her female friend out of Kurama's hands, but to no avail. "Please, let her go, Kurama! You've made her wound reopen! We have to stop her bleeding before she passes out!"

"It will not matter. Leave this place, Yukina. I do not wish for anyone else but for Barako and me to be involved," Kurama muttered, shooting the ice girl a cold glare.

At that moment, Hiei, like a flickering shadow, entered the midst of Genkai's temple, about ready to do his usual check up on Yukina. And in the temple's clearing, Hiei spotted his three friends; however, the fire demon had not expected the surprising sight of an ongoing battle. "Kurama, what in Hell's name do you think you're doing?!" Hiei yelled as he flew towards his comrades.

"Stop him, Hiei!" Genkai yelled from her trapped position. Hiei's eyes grew even wider when he spotted her; the vines were obviously Kurama's handiwork. "Hiei, I don't care if you knock Kurama out or kill him! I don't care what you do! Just what ever you do, don't let Kurama take that jewel away from Botan! Do you hear me? Don't let Kurama near that jewel!"

Hiei nodded in understanding as he was about to charge towards Kurama, but Yukina hastily stood in the fire demon's way. "Yukina, what are you doing?" Hiei demanded.

Yukina, not replying to Hiei and instead tugging pleadingly at Kurama's powerful arm, shook her head as precious jewels began to slip from her eyes. "But she isn't Barako, Kurama! This is Botan! This is Botan! Botan isn't Barako! You're killing Botan, Kurama! Please, let Botan go!"

"I am killing--Botan?" Kurama slowly stared at his right hand; beginning to grow weak, Botan clenched her two hands against Kurama's one mighty hand. Waking from his reverie, Kurama hastily released his grip on Botan. While doing so, the demon's lustrous hair began to melt away into familiar crimson locks. The demon seemed confused. "But--Barako was--"

While Botan sat on the ground coughing, Hiei ran to her side. "Will you live, woman?" he questioned as he patted the former ferry girl's back. When he had entered the temple grounds, Hiei had noticed the scent of Botan's blood from her reopened wound from earlier that day. Hesitantly, Botan nodded as she coughed for breath.

"I'm fine, Hiei. I just need a moment to breathe."

With that assuring reply, Hiei stood up and glared at his now more human companion. Fiery amber orbs glowered at a shocked redhead human. "Explain yourself, Kurama. This isn't like you to attack defenseless people in the middle of the night, especially injured female humans."

With hands on his head, Kurama kneeled on the ground. While shaking his head, Kurama murmured, "What is happening to me?"

.:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:.

"What is this?" Botan quietly asked herself as she gazed down at the jewel in her slender hands. A soft rosy hue surrounded the petite crystal sphere. "What is this strange power coming from this crystal?" It was the night after Kurama's attack on Botan, and the other Spirit Detectives, including Hinageshi, Keiko, and Yukina were there as well.

"The Sacred Jewel of Four Souls, a source of infinite power," Kurama's voice whispered in bitter memory; he would have hissed the words if he had not tried to sound neutral about the situation. Seven pairs of eyes turned to stare at the half-demon.

"How is it you know so much about this jewel, Kurama?" Genkai questioned. The aged psychic had not been aware that the millennium-old fox spirit thief had any knowledge on the ancient human relic; however, the battle from last night clarified that Kurama knew more than just common knowledge.

Kurama nodded solemnly to the faded-pink haired woman. His green eyes narrowed as they reflected a disheartening reminiscence. "I knew of the Jewel before anyone in this room was ever born, Genkai."

Hinageshi opened her eyes wide, coming to a sudden realization. She snapped her fingers. "Oh my goodness! Why, I should have--I didn't think-- Then--then you, Kurama--you must have been--"

"What do you know about the Sacred Jewel, Kurama?" Hiei demanded. "All I've heard about this tiny trinket is that it increases any demon's power by more than four times his strongest potential. What else is there to this Sacred Jewel of Four Souls?" Kurama smirked with mirth; Hiei, with all his abilities, knew so little about such phenomenal power.

"If you must know more about the Sacred Jewel, Hiei, then I will have to explain quite a lot to everyone," Kurama replied.

Genkai sat herself to the warm wooden floors. "Go on, Kurama," Genkai pressed, "We have all night to listen to your lengthy tale; and after what happened the other night, I think it's necessary to know what you know."

"Well," Kurama whispered, bowing his head, "this story is not only mine to tell. Apparently, Botan has her own share of the story as well."

Botan looked at Kurama curiously. 'What does Kurama mean?'

"Nevertheless, I shall start my tale, until Botan remembers her critical part, if she ever does," Kurama started. "Everything began when I, as Youko Kurama, encountered a human village along the borders of Maikai about five-hundred years ago. This village, as you have probably guessed, was one of the very few human inhabitants left within Maikai. It was during that discovery of that village I found the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls."

Kurama sighed in remembrance. "The Sacred Jewel is said to have the power to grant the deepest desires of its possessor. If any low-class demon were to devour the Jewel, the demon would become far more powerful than any S-class apparition. They would even surpass Yomi, Mukuro, or Yusuke for that matter; the Sacred Jewel was supposed to increase any living being's strength by more than one-hundred-fold. And because of this fabled power, I desired to claim the Jewel of Four Souls as my own."

"Yes, and because of you and your greed for power, Kurama, the mighty priestess Barako died," a cold, small voice cut in. Kurama turned to glare at Hinageshi while the others in the room only stared at the shorter ferry girl in surprise. No one had expected gentle Hinageshi to ever sound so hostile.

"What? What did you say, Hinageshi? Barako died because of me, you say?"

Hinageshi faltered slightly under Kurama's heartless look, but the young Spirit Guide kept her stance. "Yes, Kurama, Priestess Barako died the same day she had cast you into the depths of Death! She tragically died the same day she cursed you to the Eternal Sleep."

Hiei noticed a slight pained look cross Kurama's face, which was hastily masked over with a reserved and amused sneer; however, the fire demon was not the only one to notice Kurama's premier expression. Botan had noticed it as well.

"That bitch perished, hm? I am glad she did, the traitor; now I do not have to go out on my way to take my revenge upon her. If I ever met a treacherous woman, Barako was the one. Well, I guess she proves even the most powerful human beings could die at the hands of demons," Kurama pleasingly murmured. Hinageshi instantaneously frowned and slapped Kurama smartly across the face.

"Don't you dare call my older sister a bitch, fox demon! She would have lived a happier and a far longer life if she had never met you!" Hinageshi then gasped, clamping her hands over her mouth. She had not meant to speak so rudely to, nevertheless strike, one of her friends; it was as if some mysterious spirit had enraged her suddenly. "Oh, I'm really sorry, Kurama, I didn't mean to--I just--I got--"

Kurama narrowed his eyes at Hinageshi. "Yes, now I remember where I had seen you before, Hinageshi. I remember Barako had a younger sister, Hinagiku--Yes, you are that little girl that loyally followed Barako and believed everything she said."

"Wait a second, why did a priestess named Barako die?" Kazuma questioned. "Who is she anyway? What does she have to do with anything? What does Hinageshi have to do with this?"

"I'd think you would have been a little smarter, carrot-brain. After all, Barako was a mortal human, so I expect you humans would have to know something about her," Hiei snapped. "Especially since she did help create a barrier between your world and Maikai."

Kazuma growled in infuriation. "Well, excuse me, shorty! I've only been to Maikai once, and unlike you, I don't have a stupid third eye to tell me all!"

"You fool," Hiei barked. "Any demon, weak or strong, with some brains knows Barako's name and her accomplishments. She was probably the most powerful human to have walked in this reality's history. Barako's Spirit Energy was so powerful a single encounter with her would have cleansed your soul of any darkness, which means oblivion to demons. Her immense power, not to mention her archery skills, are legendary; she has never missed a mark in her life, and apparently, even near death she has always struck her target."

"Priestess Barako was my older sister in my lifetime," Hinageshi answered further. "When I was still alive, my name was Hinagiku instead of Hinageshi. Going on with the story, Barako was the caretaker and purifier of the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls. She died when Kurama was trying to steal the Sacred Jewel from her and our village; fortunately for my older sister and the Three Worlds, Priestess Barako was able to recover the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls and purify it once more, and then she supposedly had killed Kurama."

"Ah, I have heard many tales of Barako's strength and skills. I believe she also knew how to allow humans to have longer lives than most demons. And to think, she was only about eighteen years old when she perished. If she had lived only for half the life she could have had-- Truly, she was a powerful priestess," Genkai sighed.

Kurama growled at the mention of the curse and Barako's strength. "Hiei was correct, Barako had never missed her mark in her entire lifetime, even near the end of it. She was also a powerful priestess, too. Yes, it took me quite a while before I could release myself from her horrid spell; five hundred, painstaking years, if I recall correctly."

"Wait, so if this Barako priestess was the guardian of this damn jewel, why was it found in Botan's body?" Yusuke inquired. "What does all that have to do with Botan and the rest of this crap?"

"After Barako recovered the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls from Kurama, she returned to the village in critical condition," Hinageshi explained. "And knowing she would die soon, older sister Barako had commanded me to burn the Sacred Jewel with her remains; Older Sister had realized that the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls only brought sorrow and carnage to its possessors."

The former demon thief smiled in unpalatable sorrow. "Therefore, the Sacred Jewel disappeared from the face of Maikai for five-hundred years, only to appear in the Human World afterwards," Kurama whispered in a virulent, tranquil tone. "And to answer why Barako is so important to the tale is this: Botan is the priestess Barako's reincarnation."

.:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:.

"Why me?" Botan asked herself loudly as she unfolded her colorful futon on her bedroom floor. The former ferry girl was completely puzzled by the new turn of events; first Botan had been chased by unknown demons that had wanted to kill her; then she had found an ancient, mysterious, and powerful jewel in her body; after that, Kurama had attacked her in the middle of the night and later explained why and how he died; finally, Botan discovered SHE was the reason Kurama had died so long ago. Besides the happenings, Botan was even more puzzled with Kurama's new coldness towards her. "Why did this have to happen to me? All I wanted was to live my five years as human peacefully. But NO! I can't even get that!"

"Maybe it was your destiny, Botan," Yukina gently replied, setting up her futon beside Botan's. "Maybe you were meant to have control over such power because you're a person who never wanted it. I'm guessing this is the real reason why Koenma made you a human for the next five years." The two girls, dressed in identical Chinese-style pajamas, were staying at Genkai's temple for the night, and Yukina had decided to keep Botan some company for the next few days the former deity would be at the lonesome temple. Hinageshi was currently also in the room with them, ready to explain any unclear facts to the still confused Botan. The other Spirit Detectives had left for their homes, all except Hiei, of course. He was prowling around the temple a few times, making sure of Yukina's and now Botan's safety.

"But why can't I remember anything from my own past?" Botan inquired, glancing down at the wooden floors sadly. "Why can't I remember being cold- hearted enough to kill Kurama? If I could remember just that one moment, then I could at least be able to sincerely apologize to him. I wish I could apologize--the way Kurama looked at me when he tried to steal the Sacred Jewel the other night--his look was so sad and angry. Whatever happened between him and Priestess Barako was extremely terrible; I can tell by just looking at Kurama."

Hinageshi sighed as she brushed a hand through her scarlet hair. "Well, like you have explained to me before while you were training me, Botan, a ferry girl forgets her living past when she begins to work for Prince Koenma. You only regain your memories once all of your loved ones from the living world before are deceased."

Yukina, analyzing the given explanation, looked at Hinageshi curiously. "Well, if Botan was your older sister from your living past, and if she is alive and human now as she was five hundred years ago, how is it that you remember everything from that time, Hinageshi? Wouldn't you remember anything as well?"

Hinageshi gave the demon ice maiden a goofy grin. "Well, Yukina, the rule applies only to a person's first death. If the loved one is reincarnated, then it doesn't matter or count. I can remember because Botan has already died once, and there is no one left within the living plain that I have my heart still connected to."

"Well, then wouldn't I be able to remember my own past?" Botan questioned curiously. "After all, after about five hundred years, I would believe that all of my loved ones have followed me to the grave as well."

Hinageshi shook her head once more at Botan's question. "No, you wouldn't remember your past because not all of your former loved ones are dead, Botan. Kurama never did actually die; he only transferred his soul to another body. The Memory Law states that to be 'dead' the soul must part from its original body and be escorted to the Spirit World by an official ferry girl, you know that."

Botan nodded, sighing at her own forgetfulness. Why, even as a human, did she have to act bubble headed? "Waa, why didn't I remember that rule? It's such a simple regulation--Wait a second! Kurama?! What does Kurama have anything to do with this? Why is it because of him I can't remember anything from the past?!" Botan demanded feverously, snapping out of her daze.

"Um, didn't I mention this to you before, Botan?" Hinageshi asked, slowly backing away from Botan. The little ferry girl's eyes reflected fear as she was backed up against a wall. "I'm pretty sure you heard about it from--"

"Mention what to me, Hinageshi?" Botan demanded suspiciously, her lavender eyes narrowing in distrust. "What are you hiding from me, Hinageshi?"

"Um--" Hinageshi began to sweat nervously. She had not meant to have this piece of information revealed to Botan; when she returned to Spirit World, Hinageshi would more likely be in big trouble with Koenma for her simple but significant slip of the tongue. Even Koenma had warned Hinageshi not to exploit this information. "Ha. Well, I guess there's no use hiding it from you now. Oi, Lord Koenma is going to have my head for, but, here it goes--Botan, you and Kurama were in love when you were Priestess Barako, making Kurama one of your past loved ones."

Botan nodded her head in understanding to Hinageshi's rather short explanation. What a logical reason. "Oh. Kurama and I were--WHAT?!"

.:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:.

"Hn--So, the lover you remember the most is the person who killed you," Hiei smirked as he watched Syuuichi finish his homework. The petite fire demon was standing next to Syuuichi's wooden work desk, the bright desk lamp barely able to cast light onto the swordsman. Minamino Syuuichi growled in annoyance at Hiei's poor sense of timing; the college school student was currently trying to finish his fairly detailed essay on the botany of roses. After his story telling at Genkai's temple, Syuuichi had arrived at his home three hours later so he could finish his schoolwork. Like a shorter and sterner shadow of Syuuichi's, Hiei had followed the redhead home.

"In a moment, Hiei," Syuuichi muttered in return, finalizing the conclusion sentences of the last paragraph. "I will be with you as soon as I am done." Within ten minutes, the sound of a pencil scribbling had ended, and the last statements were done; Syuuichi quickly put his homework into his school bag, along with his other class work utensils. As soon as he was done, Kurama turned around and gave Hiei an inauspicious glare. Emerald eyes bore into amber ones.

"Are you here just to mock me, Hiei?" Kurama demanded quietly. "Because if you are, then you are going to get bored rather quickly. I am in no mood for your ill-placed taunting tonight." He spoke in a hushed tone, not wanting to wake his mother, Minamino Shiori.

Hiei chuckled softly, not wanting to wake the human mother either. "Hn, I'm not here to waste my time, Kurama. I'm only curious to know exactly what was your real relationship with the human priestess Barako. At first, when you were talking about her, I thought you were only playing with me, but now it turns out you were actually serious about her, Kurama."

"You did not believe me the first time?" Kurama questioned skeptically.

"Did you actually bed with her?" Hiei asked in return.

Kurama growled at Hiei's inquiry; to ask a question like that was simply idiotic, especially for Hiei. The answer was extremely obvious; Kurama expected Kazuma to even have known the answer if the carrot-top had been here. "Do you actually think a human priestess, especially Barako, would willingly lay with a wanted and dangerous fox demon thief?"

"Depending on how he looked," Hiei smartly replied, "and his reputation with women before. I heard the latter makes all the difference in those type of relationships." Kurama rolled his eyes in exasperation. From where did Hiei's new outlook on women come?

"Ugh, Hiei, you do not know the first thing about women, nevertheless a respectable priestess such as Barako," Kurama whispered ruefully. "You could not treat her just like any other woman--Barako was like a princess among peasants and insects. She had to be treated differently, far differently than any creditable female human or demoness. You insult Barako's name just by thinking such pointless thoughts."

Hiei frowned at Kurama's gentle answer. To the fire demon's critical opinion, the answer was far too tender. "So, in other words," Hiei muttered, "you, Youko Kurama, are still in love with the dead priestess Barako."

Kurama looked out side of his window, a dreary look in his verdant eyes. The woeful moon and lonely stars reflected themselves within Kurama's piercing orbs. Moonlight slightly illuminating his form, Kurama appeared more like his demon self now than at any other time as Syuuichi. "I am not sure if I am in love with her anymore, Hiei. It has been five hundred years since my emotions for this woman have been questioned; and my outlook and empathy on life has changed because of my human identity. I feel the same wanting feelings for Barako as before, Hiei, but now--now I also hate her very being with all my soul."

There was a moment of silence before the next question came. "Because Barako killed you?"

"Because Barako betrayed me!"

Hiei stepped back in sudden alarm. Kurama's eyes had unexpectedly just gone from ivy green to a piercing golden yellow; the popular crimson locks were melting away into familiar glistening strands; from his scarlet school uniform appeared loose white robes; Kurama's body itself was taller and broader. Plants within Kurama's room, reacting to Kurama's impulsive surge of Spirit Energy, had instantly grown three feet, their blossoms blooming with poisonous mouths. Realizing what he had just done, Youko Kurama hastily began to calm himself. His silver tail twitched nervously and shimmered in the ghastly moonlight. "I am rather sorry, Hiei. I did not mean to lose my temper like that. I should have had more control over myself and my emotions."

The fire demon, regaining his passive composure, only smirked as he stared at the unmitigated form of Kurama; so there was much more to Kurama than originally Hiei had known. "Hn. I'm just glad to know you at least DO lose your temper when the proper time comes. You were beginning to worry me with that fa├žade of yours." And with that, Hiei disappeared into the chilly night; he would find out more about Kurama's tragic past some other time. After all, there was always tomorrow.

.:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:.

"Waa!" Botan's cheeks burned a dark crimson as the FORMER ferry girl jumped up in alarm. Her two tendrils of sky blue locks flared up with Botan's movement. "Please, tell me you're lying! Hinageshi, you aren't serious, are you?! You're lying, RIGHT?!"

Hinageshi gave Botan another tired sigh as the redhead tried to make Botan take her seat; although the less experienced Spirit World employee had great respect for the blue-haired deity, Botan's whining was starting to give Hinageshi a splitting headache. "Botan, I really wish you could just remember everything about your past because this would be much easier: YES, Kurama and you were once in love, and YES, he was going to use the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls to have the two of you together for the rest of your lives; at least, that's what Elder Sister told me a long time ago."

Yukina giggled as Botan turned into a deeper shade of scarlet. "See, Botan," Yukina encouraged happily, clapping her delicate hands together, "maybe this ordeal is happening to you right now because you were meant to fulfill the wish of Youko Kurama and Priestess Barako; maybe you and Kurama were meant to be together."

"Wow, what an adorable romantic story," Keiko dreamily sighed, her eyes in a starry daze. "Who would have ever thought of the two of you together? Kurama, the mysterious Romantic Soldier of Roses, and Botan, the cheery Deity of Death, together as a couple is such a sweet sight. How cute they are!" Shizuru, blowing out a puff of smoke, could only giggle in amusement at Botan's lost face.

The five girls had gathered at Botan and Yukina's room at Genkai's temple, the day having already reached the afternoon (Botan, instead of attending her new school, had spent most of the day recovering from her reopened wound). Since Keiko and Shizuru had missed last night's meeting with the Spirit Detectives, Hinageshi was retelling the story of Youko Kurama and Priestess Barako to the girls, filling Botan in with some other unmentioned details. Keiko and Yukina had listened attentively, but Shizuru had been sitting at the door's edge so that her cigarette smoke would drift outside instead of in.

"Waa, Yukina, I don't think I found the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls in my body just to fulfill Kurama's old wish. And Keiko, Kurama and I would NOT make a good couple under our current situation--Besides, why in the world would he want to be with a person like me? By the way Hinageshi and Genkai were describing Barako the other night, I wouldn't think Kurama would be able to get over a woman like that," Botan reasoned modestly, trying to control her overheated cheeks.

'You're still not denying that you wouldn't mind being with him, though,' Shizuru thought slyly to herself, blowing out yet another puff of smoke. 'Botan, if you're going to hide the truth, have a little more tact about it.'

Keiko giggled knowingly. "I'm not so sure about what you're saying, Botan; after all, according to everyone and especially Kurama, you ARE the reincarnation of that 'amazing' woman, making you pretty much her. Anyway, I've heard Yusuke whine that Kurama has a particularly 'annoying' habit of asking about you all the time. Yusuke even complained that if Kurama asked once more about you at a random moment, he would 'shoot the damn, womanizing fox boy at point-blank with a Spirit Gun if nothing else.' Heh! Sounds like Kurama likes you enough to bug Yusuke to his last nerve, Botan," Keiko teased.

Botan's eyes swirled at Keiko's new information; to the blue haired girl, everything was happening far too fast: her sentence to being human for the next few years, the revelation of the Sacred Jewel within her new body, the truth of Botan's past, Kurama's recent lack of feelings towards her, and now the news of Kurama and her being former lovers. If she did not find some way to unload her mind, Botan swore she would explode from all the information trying to be compressed into her head. Right at that moment, Yusuke entered the room.

"Hey, what are you ladies talking about?" Urameshi asked cockily, giving a sly smile towards Keiko. "I hope you're not talking about guys, because I'm pretty sure the guys in the next room would get a little jealous." All the girls, except Botan, giggled instantly at the mention of "guys".

"You don't know how right you are, Yusuke!" Keiko laughed at her boyfriend. "Especially a certain guy!" Yusuke, not understanding the hint, was left in the dust, the poor boy rather confused. Botan, still red in the face, fumed as her friends were giggling about her predicament and all of the possible outcomes.

"Ahem, well, anyway," Yusuke coughed, cutting into the laughter, "as you probably guessed, the rest of the guys are here, and Genkai and Kurama want to talk to all of us in the main hall. Come on and let's go."

.:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:.

"What?! You can't do this to me!" Botan yelled as she stood up with rage. She angrily stomped her foot on the floor to emphasize her reluctance to the Spirit Detectives' new decision. The musty, old room everyone was seated in was not adding a positive atmosphere to the circumstances either.

"Unfortunately for you, Botan, you have no real choice in the matter," Kurama simply replied, his answer filled with no emotion. He brushed back stray crimson locks dispassionately. "We must keep you AND the Sacred Jewel out of harm's way at all costs or deeply regret our decision later on. As Spirit Detectives, our job is to prevent the Three Worlds from being destroyed; and I assure you that if the Sacred Jewel falls into any other hands than yours, the Worlds will more than be destroyed."

Botan frowned in immerse disapproval: Kurama had been talking about the whole situation as if she were an inanimate possession, just like the Jewel. The once charming, friendly persona of Minamino Syuuichi had been iced over with the cold, precise attitude of Youko Kurama, but unlike the fox, this side of Kurama did not share a passion; and currently, whoever this frost bitten being was, Botan hated his nerves. "So you're going to keep me cooped up at the temple for the next who-knows-how-long years? That's unfair, Kurama! And you know it! You're going to kill me by keeping me here!"

Yusuke, shaking his head, sighed in pity for Botan; he could relate to her pain. "Man, now she's gone and made me feel all guilty about this. Botan, you have to understand that we're only doing this for your safety."

"Yeah, and I know what you mean, Urameshi," Kazuma agreed in sympathy as well. "I know we have to keep you safe, Botan, but that doesn't mean I like what we're doing--I mean, just think how we would feel if we were told we had to stay locked up for the next years of our lives."

Genkai, the old master psychic, did not give an opinion on the argument. She instead sat calmly on the floor and serenely sipped at her tea.

"Hn. That's what I despise about you humans, your utterly poor sense of compassion," Hiei sniffed in annoyance. "Who cares how this girl feels about this? She's just not seeing the bigger picture; if we lose her or the Sacred Jewel, we all lose. Kurama has the right idea in mind when he says we should keep Botan here. It's our job to protect her, and we have no choice but to do it or else that annoying brat up there is going to have our heads. Why not just make the job easier for us and keep her in one place?"

"But Hiei," Yukina argued gently, "even a powerful demon like yourself needs to escape your small world to a larger one. It 's cruel to keep someone locked up just for one's own selfish purpose, even if you might have good intentions." And with her words, Yukina looked down to her pale, delicate hands where her painful scars were. The ice maiden's ruby eyes began to tear up as she brushed a slender finger lightly against her old wounds.

"We would be no better than the people who imprisoned me if we do the same to Botan just to keep her and the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls safe. I just wouldn't be able live with myself if I allow you to go on with this plan. I wouldn't deserve to call myself Botan's friend," Yukina cried quietly, her precious stones thumping against the wooden floors, creating a hallow sound. Shizuru and Keiko immediately tried to console the young demoness.

"Yukina." Hiei looked shamefully to the ground, the fire demon unable to maintain a gaze with his twin sister.

"Yukina's right," Keiko agreed, trying to stop Yukina's tears. "We would be cruel cutting Botan off from life. And Yusuke, you know it's wrong to do something like this!"

"All right already! I change my mind! Damn it. You don't have to yell at me, Keiko."

Kurama growled at everyone's sudden change of mind or better known as change of heart. 'Heh. You were wrong again, Youko. Cutting Botan off from the outside world is OBVIOUSLY not the better choice, as you have heard from Yukina. You would have done better to listen to a human heart, Youko. //Shut up already, Syuuichi. Do you think this is something one enjoys? You would have to be real sick to like this.// Hmph. You looked like you were enjoying it, Youko. Besides, it WAS your idea.'

"So, I'm allowed to go about as I want?" Botan asked with her eyes filled with renewed hope.

Yusuke gave his assistant an encouraging nod and thumbs up as well. "Yeah. I guess none of us are actually strong enough to hold you back, Botan. We'll just have to protect you the old fashioned way."

"Yeah!" Botan cheered as she gave Yusuke a hug. "Oh, thank you, you guys!" The excited teen ran about the room, giving each of her friends a hug.

When Botan reached Hiei, the fire demon shot the former deity a glare. "Don't even think about--"

Before he could finish his sentence, Botan had Hiei locked in an embrace. "Thank you, too, Hiei!"


Once she was done squeezing the life out of Hiei, Botan skipped to Kurama, who only stared at girl with indifference. Botan tried to warm the air around the redhead by giving him an ecstatic grin. "Kurama, I--"

"Do not even come near me, Botan." And with that, Kurama got up onto his feet and began to walk out of the room.

"Where are you going, Kurama?" Botan inquired worriedly as she watched Kurama step outside onto the temple grounds. Without a misplaced step, Kurama continued his way to the exiting stairways. When the light- blue haired girl realized that Kurama was not going to turn around, she lost her temper. "You jerk! What happened to polite Minamino Syuuichi? Argh, if you can hear me, Youko Kurama, you're a jerk! You're just a jerk who can't get over your dead girlfriend!"

With that statement, Kurama immediately froze in his place; Botan clapped a hand over her mouth, seeing she had gone too far with her words. 'Oh, great job, Botan. What a way to stick your foot into your mouth.' As Kurama silently stood in his place, Botan tried to find the words to apologize. "Kurama, I'm--I'm sorry, I didn't mean--"

"I only wished to prevent you from meeting her fate, priestess. But as I can see, you can take well enough care of yourself," Kurama darkly muttered as he turned to glare at the apologetic girl. The Spirit Detectives inwardly flinched at Kurama's dark scowl, his eyes a golden emerald. With that said, Kurama left the temple; not even Hiei dared to stop the fox. 'You idiot, what do you think you are doing, Youko?!' Syuuichi angrily demanded from his own self. '//You are going to walk away from all of these emotions, Syuuichi and clear your mind! You cannot be affected by this sympathy, by HER!// Affected by her? Youko, did you hear yourself when you said that to Botan? She more than affects you! //Shut up, Syuuichi! Do not speak about this anymore!//'

.:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:. .:*:.