Sunshine – Chapter 1: Fox
As you may have already heard from Hiei, the current heir to Gandara, my son Shura, has developed somewhat of an attitude problem. Although parts of it may be credited to my lenience following the Makai Tournament and the paternal instinct to make one's child happy, you must also look upon the unusual circumstances of his birth. Shura is not an exact clone of myself, and though our physical appearances are alike, he is his own person. In his five years of life, he has developed at a much higher rate than a normal being would, this process is also linked to his engineering. His rapid growth was prearranged to end when he hits adolescence, or rather, three months ago.
Three months ago, my son reached the predisposed point in aging. I would say he resembles a human between fifteen to seventeen years of age. He has had no difficulty in maturing physically, but despite his tutoring (by both you and hired officials), he still has a very inappropriate—dare I say childish—mindset. He is very intelligent, as I have witnessed firsthand, but his maturity and sense of responsibility are… well… waning. He is, after all, only five years old and still has difficulty of grasping the concept that he is not above everything just because he is a prince.
Hiei, who I had mentioned earlier, has had his fair share of run-ins with my son at the borders of my own and Mukuro's territories. Shura, according to numerous members of Mukuro's guard, has been picking fights with the strongest demons in the patrol; killing or seriously wounding all whom rise to his challenge. Although not present all of the time, Hiei has been a wonderful help in keeping Shura's hormonal rages from causing too much damage. His recent ascension into the S-class has given Shura more of a challenge in battle, usually tiring him out before he can do any real harm. If you see Hiei, tell him I am sorry and I hope that this problem will be remedied soon. I have received several letters from both Mukuro and Enki, the former threatening to fix Shura on her own, and the latter more amused than angry at Shura's behavior but still warning me of what is to come if I can not control my son. I have tried everything a father possibly could do. All of these attempts have failed. I am worried; after all of the punishment and consequences he has endured, he has become so apathetic to life in Gandara. Other than the occasional outburst in the castle hallways, it is hard to get a reaction out of him when he is grounded. This is where you—the remedy—come into play.
I would like for you to more or less "play nanny" with Shura for about a year or so. Or when he gets his act together, whichever may come first. Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking, 'High level demons in the Ningenkai are severely frowned upon by the Reikai.' I have pulled several strings with Koenma, explaining the situation and whatnot. After all, a problem in the Makai will come to affect the Reikai in all due time. He has agreed to it, on several conditions:
1.) Shura must not be left unattended for more than thirty minutes
2.) When among humans, he must be within a five-meter radius of an official Reikai employee (Detective, ferry girl, oni, etc.)
3.) Special restraints administered by the Reikai must be warn while in the Ningenkai at all times
Koenma and I are only awaiting your decision, and then we will make the required preparations. Neither of us are going to force you into this, it is your choice alone. I do not ask you as a king, but as a friend: please, help my son. I only have his happiness and well-being in mind.
P.S. Yes, I know. It is odd to receive a letter from me. Under any normal circumstance, I would have sent one of my messengers to you. Koenma wishes this to stay as quiet as possible and I owe him my compliance. I did write this letter myself, before you wonder too much about it. I have long since prevailed over the handicap of loss of sight.
Kurama re-read the last paragraph for the sixth time, putting on an uncharacteristic scowl that would give Hiei a run for his money. Setting the rest of his mail on the table, he flopped down onto the couch, clutching the ornate Makai letter to his chest.
'Shura? Who, according to the letter, has had the adjectives angry, depressed, and egotistical added to his current description of an S-class demon prince… Live here?'
The fox spirit let out a heavy sigh. It could be done. It also could be worse. At least he wouldn't have to lie about the origin of his visitor to his mother anymore, should she ask. He and the rest of the detectives had decided to tell all of their world-bound loved ones of the existence of the Makai and reveal the demonic identities of Yuusuke, Hiei, and himself. It had not been as horrid as he thought it would be. In the worst case scenario, which he had playing over and over in his head when they decided to tell, was that his mother would disown him. Even worse, fear him. The redhead let his mind wander back to that day; he had been invited over from his new apartment building, his mother not wanting him to become a stranger after he moved out. Telling them was not hard, but actually showing himself as Youko Kurama—he had felt ashamed for lying to them. His mother fainted, Mr. Hatanaka was very shocked, and Shuuichi believed it to be "the coolest thing ever". Although his family had accepted him, he did his very best to keep all acts of the paranormal to a minimum, no matter how many times his stepbrother would beg him to grow a forest in the middle of their home.
Having Shura there would not be too difficult, as he did live by himself now—save the kitten his mother gave him to "keep him company." The said kitten, Alfador, noticed his owner's plight and pounced into his uniform-clad lap. Kurama absentmindedly pet the white kitten, weighing the choices in his head. If he refused, Yomi would be displeased. Even though the king had said he would not force him into it, Kurama knew that he would be on Yomi's bad side if he declined. The King of Gandara had graciously forgiven him for blinding him all those years ago, but the youko knew that forgiveness would not come so easy when Shura is the one to be affected. If he accepted, which he was leaning toward anyway, Hiei would get a break from keeping the rowdy child out of Lady Mukuro's territory. Also, it would relieve both Yomi and Mukuro of the problems caused by the little prince.
Gently nudging Alfador off of his lap, Kurama made his way to his briefcase, pulling out his planner. Between classes at the university and work, he had only Sunday and Thursday completely free. On the other five days, he had most classes from nine to noon, work (kindly provided by his stepfather), and the occasional night class. Kurama looked at the letter again, "When among humans, he must be within a thirty meter radius of an official Reikai employee (Detective, ferry girl, oni, etc.)"
'That probably means I won't be the only one assigned to watching him. Will he be here all day? Or will he be moved from place to place? I do not think that would be a good idea… 'Among humans.' Does that mean he's going to be placed into a school? Or just be allowed to wander around while supervised?' Kurama thought to himself, frowning at all of the unanswered questions Yomi had left in his letter. 'I should call Koenma.'
After years of assigning Botan to round up the four detectives, Koenma finally decided to give each of them a two-way "spirit phone," placing one in each of their more permanent residences. One at the Urameshi Noodle House, one in Mukuro's fortress, one in the Kuwabara household, one at Genkai's temple (where the four of them would frequently visit the old woman and Yukina), and one in Kurama's apartment. If all else failed, Botan would once again be sent out to play fetch. It was a rather intelligent choice on Koenma's part, and late is better than never.
Although the word phone may have been a bit of an understatement, more like a videophone or television. Sitting back down on the couch, Kurama picked up his remote and pressed the not-so-secret button labeled "RK." The screen immediately flashed a message ("Your Call is Being Directed") with a roughly sketched ferry girl flying on her oar across the bottom. Moments later, the upper body of a blue-skinned oni with blonde hair and a single horn on his forehead appeared on screen.
"Good evening, Kurama!" The oni, George Saotome, greeted good-naturedly, "What do you need here in Reikai?"
"Good evening to you also, George, I hope you are well," Kurama answered, trademark smile in place, "I would like to speak to Koenma and discuss the conditions regarding Prince Shura's stay here."
George's eyes dilated, "Not so loud!" He pressed closer to the screen and whispered, "Although Lord Koenma has sanctioned this, it is still very hush-hush." He took a furtive look his left, then to his right, then behind him. "Please try to keep it down. Lord Koenma, though in charge, could get into a lot of trouble if this were to become public knowledge. After all, any demon, regardless of reason, in the Ningenkai is a big no-no." After that whole fiasco with Lord Enma, the Reikai became much harsher in regards to misplaced demons. George shuddered at the memory. "Yuusuke was an exception to this rule because of his dedicated service to the Reikai, as are you and Yukina," the blue oni explained, practically reading Kurama's mind.
"Ah. Yes, well, may I please speak to Koenma?" the fox spirit asked, knowing George always got uncomfortable giving information that may make the little lord angry with him later.
"Y-yes. I was just about to suggest that. Please wait a moment," he said, before the screen reverted to the call-directing screen. The redhead frowned again. Knowing Koenma, it could take a million years for the little-big man to answer his call, much less acknowledge it.
Alfador jumped back up onto Kurama, who looked down at the kitten and stroked his fur affectionately. 'At least you don't ignore me,' he thought absently, watching the animal wiggle around under his touch.
"If only the Makai could see you now," a childish and somewhat mocking voice came from his television.
Kurama glared at the toddler form of Koenma, who had an amused smile on his chubby face, "Tell anyone of this and you will regret it," he growled, the irritation of his youko side voiced.
Koenma waved his small hands in front of the screen in panic, "No, no, no! Don't worry! Your secret is safe with me!" he quickly spat out, sweat appearing on his brow.
"See to it," Kurama said flatly, not liking anyone having a form of blackmail against him.
"Anyway, we have been expecting you to call," the toddler said, changing the subject.
Kurama had never frowned so many times in his life, "We?" he asked, giving Koenma an accusing look.
"Yes. We. Yoda and I," he said, leaning forward to adjust the focus of the screen.
The screen zoomed out from the top of Koenma's desk, now having the whole desk, a good portion of Koenma's paperwork, and an old demon Kurama had seen many times. The ancient and wrinkled analyst was short, with a burnt orange tint to his skin, two long white strands of mustache growing from above his mouth, white eyebrows growing down his face, and four stubs of horn sticking out of his balding head. He wore simple blue robes, sandals, and a smile.
"Hello, Kurama," he greeted in a gravelly voice. "Lord Koenma and I were just discussing the conditions in which our prince will be living while under your care."
"Under my care? You mean you've already made preparations?" Kurama asked, not believing that Koenma would do such a thing without getting his permission first.
"Erm… Well…" Koenma piped up, knowing he had been caught. "You see, I was willing to bet a lot on you agreeing to this," he said, trying to polish it up and save his rear end.
"You mean he has not agreed to it yet?" Yoda asked, amused.
"Well, no, he hasn't. But I knew he would! Isn't that why you called?" Koenma's voice was filled with panic.
Yoda, who decided that seeing Kurama angry was too good an opportunity to turn down, began to speak, "Seems to me, Kurama, that our lordling here was depending on your 'bleeding heart'." The smirk could be heard when he said the last two words.
"Silence!" the toddler ordered, standing on his desk and pointing his index finger at Yoda, as if it would make his head explode.
Kurama's eye twitched. He was now reminded of how much he could hate Koenma at times. He was not in the mood for this.
Koenma, who was held by the hem of his trousers at arm's length by Yoda, was swatting angrily at thin air, trying to land a punch on the old demon's nose, the shrieking of his high-pitched voice slowly piercing its way into Kurama's head.
"Stop it!" Kurama snapped, grimacing at the two who honestly should have known better.
Koenma opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by Kurama's raised hand.
Kurama took a deep breath, "Listen. I will gladly allow Shura to stay with me until he manages to…" Kurama trailed off. To what? Grow up? Quit being such a snot? "…Push his manners when involving others in a positive direction. If you would answer my questions regarding his stay, I will be ready for him to be here by tomorrow evening," he paused for a moment, "Yoda, please put Koenma down."
The toddler let out a sigh of relief when he was placed back onto the desk. Yoda, however, looked a little disappointed at Kurama's superb display of temper control.
"Excellent," said Koenma, smoothing out the wrinkles in his robes, "I will have Botan deliver a letter with all you need to know ASAP. Now that we have your permission, I bid you good night," he blurted out in a hurry, closing the connection between him and the aggravated youko as quickly as possible.
Kurama snarled at the television, his green eyes gleaming with a trace of gold. The way Koenma had said 'your' clearly stated that if Kurama had not called him, Shura would have been sent to his doorstep regardless of his opinion in the matter, and then Koenma would have hidden somewhere under Botan's pink kimono.
Alfador meowed worriedly, drawing Kurama's attention away from the television, "Heh. That Koenma…"
Too tired and too frustrated to move to his room, Kurama spread out on the couch, with none of the grace he was renowned for, and went to sleep.
The next morning, Kurama awoke with a slight pain in his back. He briefly wondered where it had come from, but was enlightened when the memories of last night came back to him. 'I am going to kill Koenma,' was his first coherent thought of the day.
"Good morning!" the perky voice of Botan sang right into Kurama's poor ear. "Get up, sleepy-head!" she sing-songed, shaking the red-haired man into complete awareness.
Sitting up, he rubbed his muddled head and ran a hand through his hair. A thought occurred to him. "Botan? What time is it?"
"A little after ten o'clock. Why do you ask?" she questioned, giving him an inquisitive look.
"Class!" he exclaimed, hopping up from the couch, knocking down both Botan and Alfador.
"But I thought you didn't have any classes on Sunday!" she shouted over the shuffling of papers Kurama was gathering.
"Sunday…" he said with a bit of awe in his voice. "You are right, Botan. I do not have classes on Sunday," he said mechanically, thinking of the many different ways he could hurt Koenma for causing him to be so jumbled on this fine Sunday morning—in front of Botan, no less, who was trying her hardest not to laugh.
Failing in her attempt, Botan let out a small giggle, "As Koenma had told you, I'm here with your letter!" she said happily, not particularly fearing the wrath of Youko Kurama. She stood up and smoothed out her kimono. "Now then…" she said, sticking her hand down the front fold of her outfit and pulling out an envelope, "Here you are!" she blurted out, handing him the fancy paper with a wax Reikai stamp sealing it shut.
"Thank you, Botan," he said, not forgetting his manners. After all, the blue-haired ferry girl had done nothing wrong. Even her less than peaceful greeting was just her bubbly self.
"You're welcome!" she answered, materializing her oar and making her way to the sliding balcony door, "I'll be over later this evening with Lord Koenma and the terrible tot. Until then, good day," she smiled, hopping on her oar and gliding into the sky.
Sitting down in his armchair, Kurama broke the wax seal on the letter and opened it.
From the desk of Koenma, Hall of Judgement, Reikai:
Botan, Shura, and I will be arriving at your house at nine o'clock tonight. If you have not taken the time to notice, I had George and a group of oni 'renovate' one of your more empty rooms into a suitable guestroom last night. According to them, you were sleeping quite peacefully. Still, I hope they did not disturb you much.
Kurama paused and furrowed his eyebrows; surely he would have woken up. Had he really fallen so out of form? Although he meant to stay in the human world until his mother passed away, he did not intend to develop the habit of not waking up when intruders were in his home—no matter how benevolent reason. Pondering this, he returned to the letter.
Shura will remain under your care until he has shown that he can return to the Makai without much fuss. He has been registered as your cousin, "Minamino, Shura," and will be attending Meiou High School, as you did before going to college. You may think this is a bad idea but I have discussed it with Yomi and we both think that human contact and relations will be more than likely beneficial to him. I know that you are wondering about Shura's appearance. Demons are able to mask their forms so that only those who have had contact with something of the spiritual or demonic worlds can see them. I trust you still remember Gouki and how he was able to walk freely among humans without anyone noticing his abnormalities. This will be the same in Shura's case. You also need not worry about finances—Shura has been given a sort of "credit card" linked to an account of his in Gandara to pay for anything he may need (please do not allow him purchase knives, guns, or any other implements that may cause harm to a person). You, though volunteering, will also be paid. Yomi considers this another lesson you will be tutoring.
During the times when you are unavailable to watch Shura, Botan will be keeping an eye on him. She, like Shura, has been registered under a false surname, "Nanami, Botan," and will also be attending Meiou. While you are at work or class and they are not in school, Botan will make sure Shura remains out of trouble. If he does try something, she has a device that will cause his wards to bind him in place, so do not worry. In case neither of you are available, I have a way of contacting Yuusuke and either of the Kuwabaras immediately, should the need arise. I do believe that is all you need to know. If you have any more questions, please ask me tonight.
Kurama placed the letter on the coffee table and went to see the "renovations" George and company had given one of his rooms.
He had just moved into his new apartment two months ago, which was a twentieth birthday gift from his stepfather, who had overheard him talking to Shiori about moving out when he attended college. The penthouse was a bit much, even for his stepfather, but Hatanaka had said he had a lot of faith on his stepson's future income as a doctor. Kurama had no doubts in his mind about his choice in career, though it had taken him a while to convince himself he could balance college with work. After all, he was the one who pieced the rest of the detectives back together when neither Botan or Yukina were present to do so, his unrivaled knowledge in medicinal plants giving the team an advantage in the battlefield. Though his skills as a doctor were great in the eyes of his teammates, he still had to go to college and prove it to his professors, which was not only time-consuming—it was also very stressful.
After checking the two empty rooms next to his own ('Really,' he thought, 'this apartment is too big for me.'), he tried the one across the hallway. Instead of white carpet and a few meager furnishings, this room was outfitted with a bed, nightstand, lamp, and dresser drawer. It had a navy and cream color scheme—apparently oni knew how to interior decorate.
Shutting the door, Kurama decided to go clean up and visit Genkai. The old woman's shrine could offer him solace for the rest of the day, and perhaps serve to trounce the annoyance he felt towards the Reikai.
The doorbell rang right on time, and the youko in human disguise rose from his seat and went to answer the door. The sight that greeted him was one he was not accustomed to seeing.
There Koenma and Botan stood, Koenma in his normal teen robes with his round blue pacifier moving lazily around in his mouth, and Botan opting to try out her new school uniform. Between them was a very familiar looking youth. Shura glared up at Kurama, contempt in his pink eyes. He certainly had changed from the small demon child the redhead remembered from his tutoring sessions years ago. The prince reached Kurama's nose in height, his black hair had grown to frame his face in the front, and the horn that peaked through his hairline looked as if it had gotten sharper. He wore a simple white T-shirt and blue jeans. Around his neck and wrists resided leather-looking black bands, most likely that wards Yomi and Koenma had referenced. If one subtracted the horn, rose-colored eyes, and elfin ears, they would only see a normal, if somewhat angry, teenager.
"Good evening Koenma, Botan…" he paused, a bit uncomfortable in the unyielding glower of the young prince, "…Shura. It's been a while since I've seen you. I see you've grown into quite the pleasant young man."
The 'pleasant young man' snorted and intensified his glare.
'So much for pleasantries…' Kurama thought wryly, ushering the three of them into his home.
"Would any of you like something to drink?" he asked, host manners kicking in.
"Botan and I can only be here for a little while," Koenma answered for both himself and Botan, who pouted. She was hoping to stay longer.
"What about you, Shura?" the youko asked the prince, who had made himself comfortable on the blue couch.
"…No," he grumbled, glaring at the coffee table, which, if animated and given free will, would have cowered and ran.
"Alright then," Koenma said, breaking the tension that had set itself in the air, "Kurama, if you have no questions, I will see you later," the brown-haired lordling said, heading toward the door.
"And I will be here tomorrow morning to escort Shura to school," Botan added as she waved her hand and materialized a box. "This here is his uniform, along with spares," she said, handing the box to Kurama.
With that, the blue-haired girl turned to Shura with a large smile on her face, "Tomorrow after school the girls and I are going to take you shopping!" she squealed, glee only a female could express saturating the final word of her exclamation.
Shura visibly flinched, but said nothing, although his eyes had a hint of fear to them after hearing Botan's delighted proclamation.
"I will see both of you tomorrow!" she cheerfully bubbled, bidding them goodbye and following her boss out the front door.
"This is so unnecessary…" Shura muttered, unaware that Kurama heard him.
Comments: Thought of on a whim, but I find myself falling in love with this story for some reason or another. I've always thought Shura was a cute little snothead.