Title: These Women

Warnings: Spoilers for the dark tournament episodes

Disclaimer: I don't own Yu Yu Hakusho, and I probably never will. Sigh

Notes: It's my first YYH fic, so I hope you like it. R&R and you'll totally make my day.

It has been said that women hold up half the sky.

These women hold us.

They carry our hopes, our joys, our fears, and our pain.

Their presence sustains us in these dark times.

And, though none of us wanted them to be pulled into this chaotic existence, we know also that we would not survive without them.

We have all found our way back to the hotel, and despite the short hours till dawn, none of us go to our rooms. All of us, even Hiei, I think, have grown accustomed to one another's presence. We take comfort in it, especially now with Genkai's death, and the final day of battle looming over us.

Yusuke's eyes are red from mourning his teacher's death, but the spark of determination that comes before a fight is still there. I often forget, looking at that intense, dark-eyed gaze, that he is little more than a child, younger even than my own human form. It is the same with Keiko, who sits beside him. The others had already walked the dark paths in their lives while she was sheltered, and yet she has shown great courage here. I smile as I watch her wrap her arms around Yusuke's waist and whisper something in his ear.

A barely bit off curse draws my attention to the corner where Shizuru and Kuwabara are teaching Yukina how to play cards; Shizuru has apparently just lost a hand, and her brother is taunting her with glee.

Hiei is watching them from nearby through half-lidded eyes; his training has tired him, that much is obvious, but he will not miss this chance to see Yukina at play. Kuwabara challenges him to join in, but he scoffs and says that only idiots prepare for battle by playing cards.

Yukina is between them before the situation escalates, coaxing Kuwabara's attention back to the game. Hiei frowns at the feelings Kuwabara displays for Yukina, but his expression softens as his sister wins a hand and begins to laugh. I wonder if he will tell her the truth tonight, as he may not get another chance.

There. I have said it.

Hiei may die tomorrow.

We may all die tomorrow.

I am not afraid of death; when this body is no more, I will be returned to Makai in my true form. But I do fear that, in dying, I will fail these people I have come to care for deeply. I fear that even if I take on my demon form, as I know I must, it will not be enough.

Images of battling Karasu flicker through my mind; I see him evading my attacks, imagine his slim fingers closing around my throat. I am startled when I feel a soft touch on my arm.

I whirl around, arms raised defensively, then slowly relax as I find myself gazing into a pair of worried lavender eyes. Perhaps others would find it strange to be comforted by the Deity of Death, but I count Botan among my closest friends. She takes my hand and pulls me over to the window to look at the stars, knowing the sight of them often eases my mind.

I feel ashamed when I realize that not one of us has asked her how she feels; it was her task, after all, to guide Genkai's spirit to the other side, and I cannot even comprehend how difficult that must have been. But she merely smiles in response to my stammered apology and continues to gaze towards the sky. Her fingers tighten briefly around mine in a reassuring squeeze.

Her compassion comes from love, this I know, for love has woven ties that bind all of us here together.

Hiei told me once that love is a dangerous, damaging emotion, for in order to care for someone, you must be willing to suffer with them.

These women love us, else they would not have remained at our side through this ordeal.

These women hold us.

And we will live for them.