Disclaimer: I do not own Yu Yu Hakusho, its copyrighted characters, plot, etc.
Author's Note (14.01.2012): This story is undergoing some revision, so please be patient with its updates. Thank you so much for your support, and as always, please read and review.
Ice and Fire, You and Me
Chapter I: Isle of the Ice Maidens
One day, after the many adventures of the Spirit Detectives, Yukina returned to her homeland the Isle of the Ice Maidens. On that same day, a powerful demon of flame entered the Isle and aggressively searched through the floating winter sanctuary. Yukina quickly returned to the Human World, reporting her findings to the Spirit Detectives. She told everyone that the fire demon that had infiltrated the secret island had resembled Hiei.
The elderly Spirit Wave Master Genkai, her only pupil, three Spirit Detectives, Yukimura Keiko, Kuwabara Shizuru, and Yukina sat together in a meeting at Genkai's temple concerning the legendary Isle of the Ice Maidens. Silently each person tried processing all that Yukina had just told them.
"What are you saying, Yukina-san?" Kazuma asked worriedly while slowly edging bit by bit to the maiden. "Your island was attacked by a fire demon? You're all right, right, my sweet?" Shizuru, halting her younger brother's advances, sighed at Kazuma's persistence and tenacity.
"You didn't get hurt, did you?" Keiko questioned with friendly concern.
Yukina smiled kindly at her friends, giving them all slight bows. "Oh, it's nothing really to worry about. No one on our island was hurt or injured, just a little frightened by the stranger. Many of the younger ice maidens have never seen a man, nevertheless a fire demon, before. It was just shocking to have an intruder."
"I bet it was Hiei just trying to get some kicks," Kazuma grumbled with disgust, causing the petite fire demon a little ways off to growl. "He was probably bored and thought, 'Hm, who can I torture today? Maybe I'll go bother those ice maidens with Yukina!'"
Shizuru slapped her forehead from her brother's remarks. Baby bro, you're never going to marry Yukina—hell, at this rate, you're not even going to live long enough for your first date.
"Idiot. Say something like that to me again, pathetic human, and I'll be sure to feed you to my Black Dragon," Hiei snapped, his Jagan glowing a pernicious blue. "I may be cut-throat in a battle, but I do not attack defenseless women. Besides, even with my Jagan, I would never be able to locate the Isle of Ice Maidens. The ice maidens' homeland is supposedly impossible to find, your overgrown oaf." There was no hesitation in Hiei's voice as he lied to the accusing human and his friends.
It's none of their business if I know or not how to reach the Isle of Ice Maidens, Hiei frowned as he crossed his arms. Especially that idiot of a human.
Before Kazuma could retort to Hiei's insults, Kurama speedily stepped in and calmly suggested, "Perhaps we should ask Botan the next time we see her to ask Koenma-sama to investigate this enigma of a demon, and that should solve our problem. Of course, that is assuming that this fire demon is on Koenma-sama's criminal records." The crimson haired Detective turned to Yusuke for assurance and support, since Botan was his Assistant.
"That's a really good idea, Kurama," the dark haired Spirit Detective quickly agreed, also hoping to sidetrack Hiei's deadly anger towards Kazuma. "As soon as Botan comes to visit Human World again, we'll tell her about the whole situation, and before you know it, we'll have our culprit." He shot a wink at Yukina. "Don't worry, about anything. We've got this covered for you."
Yukina grinned and bowed to her friends gratefully. "Thank you so much, everyone, for helping me."
"It's no problem, Yukina-chan. After all, you're our good friend," Keiko smiled, standing up. She grabbed Yukina's pale hands. "Come on, Yukina. Let's go and change you out of that kimono into a really cute outfit." She giggled while motioning Shizuru to follow along. "We can do a little shopping while we wait for Botan's visit to Human World."
"So, what do you think of this situation, Botan?" Kurama inquired as he finished telling the ferry girl Yukina's story. "Do you think Koenma-sama will know anything?"
A young lady, seeming to be about the same age as Kurama, held her chin thoughtfully as her sky-blue hair cast a shadow over her face. "Well, lately we've been receiving reports from Demon World about a thief stealing locator charms from demon lords. Koenma-sama has been searching for a connection but hasn't been able to find one yet. Maybe this thief is the same demon Yukina-chan met on the Isle," Botan sighed. "But then again, I could be wrong, Kurama-kun."
"Hm. Yeah, maybe that demon is the same demon Yukina wants us looking for," Yusuke repeated. "It sounds like it fits."
"Perhaps," Kurama agreed. "There are too many coincidences for all of these facts to simply be accidental."
"But then again, does this demon thief resemble Hiei like Yukina-san said?" Kazuma demanded.
"Hn," was Hiei's only comment.
A day after Yukina reported her mysterious fire demon, the Spirit World Detectives had arranged to meet Botan at a public park at about noon. The cheery ferry girl sat on a park bench, Kurama seated at her right while Yusuke and Kazuma stood in front of her. Hiei, as always, was a little ways off from the rest of the group, leaning against a nearby tree and hiding in its shade.
Suddenly, Botan clapped her hands with inspiration. "Oh, I know the perfect solution!"
"What is that, Botan?" Kurama questioned, raising a brow.
"The Pool of Foresight!" she giggled. When the others simply stared at her in confusion, Botan sighed and continued, "There is a mystical pool somewhere in the far reaches of Human World, at the edge of the dimensional barrier between Demon World and Spirit World as well. The Pool of Foresight can tell us all the answers to our questions."
"Feh, and are you saying you know how to get all of us there?" Hiei interrogated coldly. "Without harm? After all, girl, you said this was in the far reaches of this World."
Botan nodded enthusiastically, not the least affected by Hiei's iciness. "Of course I know the way! Besides, it's not like we can travel to the Pool of Foresight. We have to use a dimensional portal to be able to go in between the Three Worlds, where the Pool is located. There is a portal to the Pool of Foresight right by Genkai 'baa-san's temple." Again, she was met with the raising of quizzical brows. "Haven't any of you noticed it before? You can't miss it. It's that huge statue in her main hall."
Landing with a thud in a sunny, grassy field, Botan moaned as she massaged her backside. Yusuke and Kazuma followed the ferry girl's gestures as they landed on their bottoms right beside her. Kurama, gracefully exiting the inter-dimensional portal, landed elegantly on his feet.
"Oi, remind me not to do that anytime soon," Botan grumbled as she got up on her feet with Kurama's help. "Jeez, who knew going through portals could be so painful?"
"I thought you have done this before?" Kurama gave Botan a curious glance, causing the Guide to the Dead to slightly blush. She glanced a little sideways, trying to avoid Kurama's sharp emerald eyes.
"Well, once or twice, but it was during my training as an intermediate ferry girl," Botan sheepishly confessed. "But since we're all fine, and the transport between Worlds went rather smoothly, there's nothing to worry about. I guess we're lucky that I paid attention in class." She laughed nervously, unsuccessfully vanquishing the Detectives' anxieties.
Kazuma glowered. "And what could have happened to us if you weren't such a great student?"
She continued to nervously laugh, throwing a hand behind her head, "Oh, we could have gotten lost between the Worlds, sent into the future, thrown into the past, or shot into an alternate reality. Either that, or some of us could have switched our identities with each other."
The tallest Spirit Detective turned yellow at the thought of him switching bodies with Hiei, Botan, or even Yusuke. At the thought of switching forms with Kurama, Kuwabara brightened: everyone agreed that the redhead was attractive. Perhaps if he had switched with Kurama, Kazuma could get any woman he wanted, especially a certain ice maiden. Kazuma chuckled at the idea. Botan and Kurama slowly edged away from Kazuma, the pair sensing the young man's current thoughts. Right then, a loud obnoxious voice interrupted all thoughts.
"Hey, you guys, where are Yukina and Hiei?" Yusuke asked as he looked around their surroundings.
"What is this place?" Yukina quietly whispered as Hiei pushed her behind him protectively. "What happened to the others?" Before the two siblings was a glassy pool of misty water, a pale light like moonlight radiating from it. They stood alone in a marsh, a faint fog surrounding the area.
Damn it, that stupid ferry girl messed up again, like I knew she would, Hiei growled as he examined his and Yukina's new surroundings. He could not sense any of the other Detectives, with and without his Jagan. Why the hell did I have to go and trust that bumbling wench? Now Yukina is in danger.
Indeed, Hiei had been against Yukina coming with the Detectives to the Pool of Foresight. There wasn't any point in exposing her to danger if it could be helped, as he had so subtly suggested to the group. But Botan had insisted upon Yukina's attendance, stressing that the Pool would be more accurate with a firsthand account. "There's no point in searching for the Pool if Yukina isn't going to be there to ask the question herself."
There's no point for your existence if you're going to fail and be useless, Hiei silently cursed at Botan.
"I don't know where the others are, but stay close to me," Hiei warned as he and Yukina cautiously neared the water's edge. He led on with slow, cautious steps. "Something isn't right about this place."
As soon as the two demons were at the pool's edge, their reflections peered back upon them; however, they were slightly altered. Yukina's reflection appeared to be more slender and mature, her hair long and glistening strands of sea green and her eyes ruby jewels. Hiei's reflection was his copy as well, even to wearing a tear-gem pendant. The image was only taller, and surprisingly, more built. Also, the mirror image had icy blue eyes instead of fiery crimson.
"Who are they, Hiei-san?" Yukina gasped in surprise. "Are they us?"
"No," Hiei muttered darkly in reply. "These images aren't us. This is just an illusion to weaken our minds' defenses, to distract us."
"Are you sure of that, Hiei?" a deep voice murmured around the couple. "Maybe they just are not your present selves. Could they not possibly your past?"
Hiei immediately grew alert and tense as Yukina grasped his left arm for reassurance. "Who are you? Show yourself!" the fire demon barked while looking around. He was about ready to draw his sword.
"Show myself? Ha, you are practically stepping on me, Little One." At that remark, the two demons stared at each other in question. Then looking down at their feet, Hiei and Yukina noticed ripples starting from the middle of the pool and steadily lapping onto the muddy banks.
"What are you? An imprisoned spirit or demon?" Yukina wondered innocently as she spoke to the water. "Or are you an imprisoned soul?" About then, Hiei realized that he and the others had forgotten to mention to his sister that they were going to search for the Pool of Foresight.
The mystical pool chuckled, causing more ripples to appear. "No, dear Ice Maiden, I am not an imprisoned spirit, soul, or demon. I am an oracle for those who have never received the chance to See. And it has been a long time since I have Seen a Hieiaki."
"A Hieiaki?" Yukina whispered to herself in fear and disbelief. In the Isle of Ice Maidens, "Hieiaki" was taboo, a forbidden word that was slander to whomever it was said and whomever said it. Was this Seer calling her or Hiei a Hieiaki? But now that she thought of it...What was a Hieiaki?
"Feh, we have only one use for you," Hiei sniffed as his senses slightly relaxed. A pool of water, the fire demon judged, posed no real threat. However, in the Demon World, or between Worlds for this matter, one could never be absolutely sure. "We are looking for our friends, and I highly doubt that your powers are used the See other people."
"Yes, you are correct," the water seer laughed in a bubbly manner. "My powers will not aid you in your search for your friends. However, I will provide you two with the answers to your most desired questions, even the question that gave you reason to search for me."
Yukina gasped and stepped forward from Hiei's protection. He fought back his instant reflex to grab her hand and pull her back. "Does that mean you know who that fire demon that came to the Isle is and where my brother is?" she asked eagerly. "You know how I can find him?"
The young lady did not notice Hiei slightly cringe and bite his lip with uneasiness.
"Yes, but I am not allowed to say who he is. I can show you the truth. However, once you begin to see the truth you cannot stop seeing it until it has ended." Right then, the area around the pool began to mist, causing Yukina to quickly grab Hiei's bandaged right hand.
"Please, don't leave me alone, Hiei-san," she quietly begged.
"I won't," he whispered back gently as they were engulfed in fog.
"What the hell—" A young man with unruly raven hair did not have time to finish his thought as he hastily jumped into the air from the treetops and caught the mysterious object falling from the crimson skies. As soon as the fire demon caught the unknown item, he wrapped his black cloak around it and himself so that no flying demon would catch sight of him against the Demon World sky. As he delicately ran down to the ground through the gnarled trees with his new cargo, Kuroi realized the thing he had caught was a girl.
A Class-A fire demon, Kuroi was the first son of a proud lineage of a prestigious fire demon clan known as the Hieiaki. He was slightly tall for his race, and his unruly, cool ebony hair with a white starburst caused him to be even more of a black sheep in his hot-colored, fiery family. To add further, Kuroi's occupation as a skilled thief did not please his family either: well, not that he cared anymore.
When Kuroi finally reached the forest floor, he took a better observation of his new "treasure."
Well, she certainly is beautiful female. I've never seen the likes of her before, even at the brothels, Kuroi whistled as he glanced at the specimen in his arms. Look at her hair and pale skin. Whew. She's the kind of girl the other demons talk about in legends. She has to be. She feels so cold. Could she one of the legendary ice maidens of the Isle—Feh, impossible. They just don't fall out of the sky like rain.
The fire demon contemplated his last thought. "But then again, rain doesn't fall that often in these parts."
At that moment, the once-slumbering girl awoke and shrieked her way out of Kuroi's strong arms. "Let me go, you disgusting man!" the young female screamed frantically, pushing herself away from the startled fire demon. While the sea-foam haired girl found shelter behind some trees, she took deep breaths from shock. Her heart pounded against her breast from utter fear. Kuroi's heart thumped wildly as well, and his breath was lost from surprise. But the maiden would never notice his nervousness.
When Kuroi finally caught his breath and tamed his heartbeat, he called out, "I'm sorry I startled you, miss. Are you all right?" He stood his ground and forced himself to stay where he was. Maybe this way the girl would not run away with some reassurance. "I hope that I didn't frighten you too badly. And don't worry, I won't hurt you, so you can come out now."
The icy girl glared at Kuroi darkly from behind her hiding spot, her ruby orbs trying to burn holes through the demon. "You aren't going to fool me, insolent pig. I know perfectly why you took me away from my home. As soon as the other maidens find me, they'll make you pay for what you and your friends have done."
As Kuroi was going to reply to the lady's insults, a gang of bandits appeared. "Ah, there she is, you guys, breathing and without a scratch," the ringleader, as Kuroi quickly identified, sighed as he spotted the fair lady in the kimono. "And here I thought you fools had failed and killed her. Good thing for you she's still alive."
"May I help you?" Kuroi curtly questioned while stepping protectively in front of the shorter ice maiden. He felt unsettled by the new arrivals. They all look like unworthy trouble. Hn, they must have been the ones to kidnap this girl from the Isle of the Ice Maidens. I'm surprised such idiots were able to locate that sanctuary in the first place.
"Actually, you can," the bandit leered. "My pals and I were strolling through the forests peacefully when this woman suddenly appeared from nowhere and stole all of our precious gems. I would like you to return the girl so she can give back what's ours, if you don't mind."
Kuroi hastily grabbed his new companion's wrist when she tried to run away from the scene. He could feel the poor girl tremble beneath his grip.
"I'm sorry, I don't think that's possible," Kuroi coldly answered, glaring loathingly at the group of bandits through icy steel blue eyes. He shattered the bandits' courage just as easily as he saw through their lie like glass. "The lady here doesn't have anything on her other than the clothes on her back. And she's not thieving material. Besides, I'm sure successful men such as yourselves could find some other source of income and easily make up for what you've lost."
"Why you little—How dare you say that to our boss, you bastard!" one of the demon minions shouted, the other members joining the shout out.
"Who do you think you are?"
"Leave here quickly and peacefully without the lady, and I'll spare your pathetic lives: that's your only warning," Kuroi snapped, his icy eyes now freezing the insides of the bandits. "And my name is Kuroi of the Hieiaki."
More shivers went through the band of thieves. "Raizen—did he just say 'Hieiaki'? Hell, I think we should get out of here right now."
"Hell yeah, if he's a Hieiaki—Let's go!"
"Not without that broad!" the boss yelled. "And those who don't follow are dead when we're done with this midget! Get the girl!" He ran with his sword unsheathed towards Kuroi. The other gang members, thinking they had no real choice, quickly followed suit.
"Stay here and don't move," Kuroi muttered to the ice maiden as he brought out his own sword from its sheath on his side. Before the frightened lady could reply, the demons that were charging towards her fell dead, all of them without their heads and a few without limbs.
The gentle young lady gaped at the corpses, distressed by such a bloody sight.
On the other side of the forest clearing, Kuroi wiped his sharp blade onto the clothes of one of the corpses. "Disgusting. They shouldn't have had the right or honor to call themselves thieves."
Kuroi then returned his attention to the ice maiden. A smile was all over his once darkened face and the murder in his icy, cruel eyes were now gone. He took a step towards the one he had just rescued. "Well, now that we've taken care of those pests. What did you say your name was again, miss?"
"Stay away from me, murder!" the girl screamed frantically as she slapped Kuroi's hand away from her own. The fire demon could not help but grin slightly when he felt his hand somewhat sting.
She has some fire in her. A little odd, for an ice demon, he thought with a mental chuckle. They're usually calm and passive-aggressive, if aggressive at all.
"Why are you so frightened of me, little one?" Kuroi sighed as he offered his hand once more to the lady. "I'm not going to hurt you, you know."
Staring apprehensively at the demon's bandaged hand, ice maiden curtly replied, "You're a demon of flame. I naturally should fear you. Besides, you're also a man, something we ice maidens are never to lay eyes upon. And I'm not little, you beast!"
"Sorry about that, but you have to understand, I don't wish to bring you any harm. Hell, I saved your life, woman! And what's so bad about men?" Kuroi demanded scornfully, a little offended from being called a beast. He only knew one person that called him that, and that person was his god-forsaken mother. "I know those bandits who kidnapped you were abominable, and I know some other men who don't have any manners at all. But not all men are like that...well, at least I'm not."
"But you're a murderer, nevertheless," the lady demon spat, glaring through cold crimson pools at the man before her.
"A murderer who only kills when threatened to be killed. And besides, for your information, it's part of my honor code to never injure or kill women," Kuroi replied sympathetically to the girl. "Now would you please take my hand and get off the ground? You're ruining your kimono."
Acquiescently, the ice maiden took the young man's hand and let him help her to her feet. After she steadied herself, she did not let go of Kuroi's hand before freezing a good portion of his arm. Kuroi cringed as he used his flames to thaw out his limb before he lost it. "So this is what men mean when they talk about ice queens," he muttered.