AN: Little poetry I thought fit well with this. Hope you don't mind my sentimentalities. OH! And I don't own this. Credit is given.

There comes a time you decide
What from your life will be real
What scars you will keep alive
What you are willing to heal

But can I gamble this night
With everything that I am
And can I erase my life
Or do I stay here and be damned...

...All these things are now before me
Endless death or timeless glory
On this night of ghosts returning
To the light of bridges burning

—"Mephistopheles' Return," from Beethoven's Last Night by Paul O'Neill. Music performed by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.


It was hot, muggy almost, but not unbearably so. There was a lovely smell winding itself around the golden room, born on wisps of incense and fanned by fiery wings; like the smoky cinnamon of burning leaves in autumn.

There was singing too. Sweeter than powdered sugar, lighter than the kisses she'd shared with Kurama. It hurt so much to move; her whines poisoning the melody. Eris' vision was horrible; only able to make out blobs of color, she hardly knew where she was.

A woman was there, calmly running her fingers through the black hair that fell out in handfuls. Eris felt the cool bursts of air from the wings of the birds that kept this woman company. It was their singing that made it possible to keep her at least a little sane.

Every now and then a red down feather fell from one of them; Eris would watch it drift as a fuzzy burst of color until it touched her cold nose. The woman would then carefully brush it away with a smile in her laugh, talking in a strange language to her pets.

Eris liked the woman's voice. It was low and soothing, rising and falling gently on the swells of vowels.

This is like a dream…am I only dreaming? Why does it hurt so much?

Slowly filling her tired lungs with burning air, Eris let out a sigh, closing her eyes in hopes of sleep. Maybe she'd wake up to a reality she could understand.

Watching with prism like green eyes, Kenmei watched the Mistress Phoenix mother the girl like her own child. The demon sighed, splaying a hand against the glass window and seeming to disappear.

"We're so close…"

"Sir!"

Kenmei snapped back to reality. "What?" He growled. I'd give my tail for a minute of peace and quite. A minute!

The intruder wasn't fazed by the harsh quality of his master's voice. Like a soldier he stood straight, looking ahead at nothing. "Sir, there's a party of demons and a human on the other side of the barrier."

"I'm starting to have a short attention span. Am I supposed to be concerned?"

"They aren't any of ours, Sir."

Kenmei closed his eyes and prayed for calmness. "Why wasn't this brought to my attention sooner?"

"One of them took out all the Watchers. We didn't know until they were literally at our door, banging on it. Sir."

Kenmei's forehead hit the window with a dull thud. Mistress Phoenix looked up at the foreign noise, smiling coyly. Kenmei smirked inwardly at the phoenix keeper. No one shall hurt you anymore…

"What good is a security system if the system doesn't work?"

"Sir--"

"Have Ieyoshi deal with it."

"You called, Master?" The unexpected presence of his General turned the demon reluctantly from the peaceful window scene.

Kenmei frowned. The psychic was sneakier than himself at times. Even more so than usual these days. "Yes. Your men have been shirking their duties. I want you to personally deal with this breach. If they attack, leave not one of them standing."

Ieyoshi looked smug. "If they are who I suspect they are I shall have no troubles. Good day, Sir."

Kenmei's voice cracked down on Ieyoshi's back like a whip. "About your 'gift,' General…"

The psychic was not so sure of himself on this one. "You're not happy?"

"I'm not happy with your methods of obtaining it." Kenmei imposingly stood like a magnificent statue of marble, eyes alight as many faceted emeralds. Green fire burned into their master's subordinate.

The General bowed his head, a weak attempt at appearing humble. "Forgive me, I did not think. The desire to fulfill my Master's wishes was too strong for reason."

"After the intruders are disposed of, you are released from my service."

Ieyoshi gave himself whiplash with the force of raising his head, staring at the demon, unbelieving. "What?! We had an agreement!"

"An agreement that has been filled on both parts." Kenmei drifted back to the window, hands clasped behind his back. "You have your money, a team of the best scientists in the fields you requested, and a research facility with over 200 different species of rare demons and Ningenkai flora and fauna. I think I have been more than generous."

He could feel the man's fury; looking at the incandescent plumage of the fiery birds nestled around the motionless girl, Kenmei found he didn't care.

"In a few hours I will have what I want. Our contract will be satisfied, and we shall live our lives away from here. Good day to you, Ieyoshi."

Dismissed, Ieyoshi left, seething in his anger. That bastard…he knows that without his funds this establishment will die in a matter of months. All of my work will go down with it…

Two guards opened the front doors for the General. Natural light flooded into the dim foyer, glinting off the pristine metal works. Ieyoshi walked into the daylight; four figures walked unconcerned through the grasses of the enclosure.

Ieyoshi examined the Spirit Detectives as they approached. The fox noticed him first; a flare of phenomenal ki expressed the intense dislike the youko felt. Separately, there was a 98 percent of a fight resulting in the psychic's favor. With the four of them fighting together it was impossible; the cocky one, their leader Ieyoshi guessed, alone would be able to beat his master with a half lidded blink.

Ieyoshi sneered, laughter bubbling in his throat. Perfect…

"Leave the doors open." He commanded of the guards, ignoring their uncertain glances.

Let them come. That fool will realize his folly.


"What the hell is he up to?" Yusuke narrowed his eyes, flicking a dead cigarette from his fingers, not bothering to rub the embers out. Screw it; this place is going up in flames anyway.

"Who knows? The sneaky bastard probably just wants to lure us inside, right into a trap or something." Kuwabara glowered, Spirit Sword in hand with a flick of the wrist.

"Put your sword away, Kuwabara," Youko carefully scrutinized the situation, weighing the possibilities of every possible outcome. "I do believe it is a trap."

"What's with the 'no sword' then, huh?" The tall teen let the electricity fizzle away nonetheless. "I bet he's got his freakish army waiting for us."

"Only two halfwits guarding the door; even you could take them out." Hiei sounded mildly surprised. He was more irritated with the lack of effort on Ieyoshi's part.

"What, are they giving up already?" Yusuke was disappointed. "Damn. And I was so looking forward to the welcoming party."

The air tastes of foul play… Youko became more alert than ever. Nerves a notch more high-strung than usual (he cursed Shuichi for this), his vines constricted the guards a bit more enthusiastically than was necessary.

Hiei freed the mouth of the more cowardly looking of the two. "Where's the girl?"

"W-what girl? I don't kno--gak!"

"Was he about to say 'I don't know what you're talking about?'" Yusuke mused, appreciating the fine work of Youko's vines. They choked without asking. Certainly don't make 'em like that anymore.

"Yes, I believe so. Tell us where she is," Youko persuaded the creeping plant to loosen a fraction. "The truth please, I'm not feeling very merciful today."

"Observationcell2234downthehallandtotheleftfirstdoorpleasedon'tkillmeee-ee!!"

Yusuke blinked. "Uh…Hiei? You get that?"

Kuwabara tried to decipher the long-winded answer. "I think he said something about honey…"

"Idiot. This way." Hiei led the way, the vile smell of humans meddling with chemicals and the stench of fear polluting the air.

"Ugh," Kuwabara shuddered as they walked deeper into the depths of science -dedicated halls. "This place gives me the creeps."

"Yeah, me too. I guess Koenma wasn't kidding when he said these quacks had a bunch of demons locked up." Yusuke glared at the walls; they shuddered with the burden of his anger.

Kuwabara nodded. 'You can hear them too?"

"Poor souls screaming for freedom of their prisons." Youko kept his eyes carefully ahead. The essence of tribulation was in the very foundations that held the building up. Hiei said nothing, stopping in front of a labeled door.

"Observation Cell 2234." Yusuke read aloud. "Moderation: Mock Modern Civilization?"

A blink and the offending door clanged to the floor in a pile of scrap metal. Hiei sheathed his sword and walked inside, the motion turning on a series of overhead lights.

Not a word was said about the "Open Door" button.

Despite the lights, the other half of the room was in dark; through a wall of glass, displayed a typical bedroom setting. A small desk and lamp, bookshelf, bed, nightstand, alarm clock, dresser. Even a J-Rock poster by what would have been a window if anything had been behind it.

A body in the bed moved, black hair mussed over the blue pillowcase.

"Well. We found her."

Yusuke rolled his eyes at his orange-haired friend.

"Awesome, now let's get her out of the Creepy Bedroom of Hell™ and get to the next item on our To-Do list."

"Man, haven't these people ever heard of privacy?" Kuwabara tapped experimentally on the glass.

"Allow me," Yusuke volunteered with a smirk, laying his hand flat against the smooth surface. A quick pulsate of blue Spirit Energy and the glass shattered in a sheet of glittering shards.

"Very nice," Youko complimented.

Yusuke shrugged, smugly brushing his nails on his t-shirt. "No sweat."

Youko moved quietly to the bed. How could she not wake up to that?

Hiei stayed near the door, eager for a curious head to peer in for an investigation. Face down in the pillow; Eris gave a drowsy moan, an arm falling off the side of the bed.

Kuwabara poked the arm. "Was she always so buff?"

Youko shook her shoulder; it felt bonier than he remembered. "Eris, wake up."

She snored on.

"Someone just pick her up and let's get out of here!" Kuwabara urged.

"Does Eris snore?" Yusuke picked up on the peculiarities of the supposed girl in the bed.

"Eris?" Youko shook her once more, harder this time.

There was a growl, lazy and belly stretching as the girl raised herself up on forearms. An uncomfortable air rustled with the sheets that collected around the human sitting on its haunches. A flick of the neck and the black wave of hair fell away from the soft-featured face; two eyes blinking through long lashes struggled to focus.

Unfailingly, it was Kuwabara who pointed out the obvious. "I-it's a DUDE!"

The yell shook the boy from his drowsy dream state. The cloudy eyes sharpened, seeing the gathering of people ogling; Youko's clawed hands, Hiei's sword, out and ready for an attack, Kuwabara's gibbering, and the imposing ki of Yusuke sent the boy into frenziful panic.

He jerked, backing into the headboard with a painful crack to the elbows. Like an animal he bared his teeth, growling, nails digging into the soft mattress, and eyes lighting on any escape.

Then he seemed to notice his surroundings, confusion filling his face as he looked around wildly. He saw his foot, followed it up to his legs, arms; he patted his chest, felt his hair, stared in bewildered terror at slender hands.

"Y'know I think he's more confused than we are." Yusuke whispered, not wanting the boy to freak out more than he had to.

"But…" Kuwabara peered at him, stretching his neck forward to get a better look, but not wanting to get any closer. "He looks a lot like Eris. She never said anything about a twin brother."

"That is because she doesn't have one." Youko glowered.

"Ah great." Yusuke scowled and made the first move towards the perplexed boy. "Hey kid, you all right?"

He floundered, scooting away from the Rekai Tantei leader, and pressed himself tighter in the space between the headboard and wall.

"Whao! Simmer down, I ain't here to hurt you." Yusuke gave a friendly grin to prove his point. The boy seemed to understand that much, but the strange yellow eyes drifted to the others, asking if they were included in the deal.

"Don't worry about them, they're cool. Right, Hiei?" He gave a "Be Nice or Else" look to the demon.

"Hn."

"What's you name, kid?" The leader raked the boy's attention back. He blinked, not understanding the question.

Kuwabara crossed his arms. "He's a mute! Or dumb. Or both?"

"If that's the case, he's got one up on you in my book," Hiei smirked at the teen's glare.

"He is not dumb!" Yusuke kicked Kuwabara in the shin. "He understood we weren't gonna hurt him, right? His brain works fine."

"I don't think that is the problem…" There was a gaggle of smells about the boy; several that Youko was interested in. "Yusuke, can you get him to come closer?"

"I don't know. He seems to like that corner."

"C'mon! C'mere fellah!" Kuwabara tried coaxing him closer.

"He's not a cat," Yusuke gave Kuwabara an odd look, but having no other ideas he crouched low and patted his knees, whistling like he was calling a dog.

Hiei sat on the desk. "You look ridiculous."

"Do you have a better idea??" Yusuke harrumphed. "This isn't working. You got any food, Kuwabara?"

"Just a candy bar-hey!" The boy was teetering on the edge of the bed, sniffing the chocolate bar Kuwabara had fished from his pocket. "Ah! W-what do I do now?"

"Keep him occupied," Youko instructed, moving cautiously closer to the wild boy, conscious of the reaction he might have at being crowded or approached too fast.

He seemed unconcerned about the fox now, attention solely focused on the candy and the interesting taste. Gingerly, Youko inspected the unusual markings on the boy's neck. They looked like scabbed over puncture wounds; the boy scratched at them in between bites and growled when Youko tried to touch one, his hand coming too close to the chocolaty treat.

"Well?" Yusuke asked, curious to the fox's actions.

Youko ignored him a moment; inhaling, he sifted through the scents covering the adolescent. He blinked in astonishment. "He's…a wolf!"

"Uh… what?" Kuwabara tried not to be too freaked out as the kid started sniffing him for more chocolate. "Looks human to me, even if he doesn't act like one."

"I don't understand either…he smells like wolf, yet looks human."

"Like a human we know." Yusuke crossed his arms, thinking.

Youko nodded. "What disturbs me the most is that what human smell he has is identical to Eris."

"Sooo…they did some weird body evolution thingy with Eris' DNA?"

Yusuke laughed. "When did you start paying attention in science class?"

"He may be right," Youko concluded. "Which means…"

The three of them exchanged worried looks.

"Uh oh."

"We have to find her. Now." Yusuke was beyond angry now. Who the hell do these people think they are? He wrenched a drawer open from the dresser, quickly praying it contained clothes. Prayers answered, he chucked a shirt at the wolf-boy to throw on over the drawstring pants he had slept in.

"C'mon kid," he helped the boy pull the shirt over his scrawny frame, thankful for the practice he'd had with his mother in one of her drunken fits. "Help he here, Kuwabara; I doubt he knows how to walk."

Shoving another chocolate bar in the kid's mouth to stop the biting, Yusuke and Kuwabara hoisted him to his feet with an arm around each of their necks.

"How come you told me to feed him before when you already had food?" Kuwabara whined.

"Because I didn't want to give mine up." Yusuke snorted. "All right; forward march, then."


The wolf-boy indeed was smarter than was previously thought. By watching the others and practicing with Yusuke and Kuwabara as crutches, he managed to learn the basic principles of upright walking.

As the other detectives 'politely asked' where a girl looking similar to the long-haired boy, Kuwabara tried teaching him how to talk.

"Ku-wa-ba-ra. Try it, C'mon, it's easy. If you can learn how to walk that fast you can talk."

"Koo-ka-bu-ra."

"No! Ku-wa-ba-ra!"

"Koo-la-tu-ra?"

"Kuwabaka is more like it…"

"HEY--"

"Kuwabaka!!"

"Damn it Hiei!!"

Yusuke had to bite his lip to keep his seriousness. Youko even smiled; of course that may have been the result of another guard slumped on the floor.

"Hee-yay!"

"Wow, the kid learns pretty quick. That's almost right on," Yusuke gave the amiable boy a pat on the back. "His voice is less 'nails on chalkboard' too."

Kuwabara pouted, annoyed that his student deserted him. "How come he gets the shrimp's name right?"

"Because my name isn't retarded."

"Enough." Youko said in a low voice. There were voices coming their way. The group backed into an alcove, listening and waiting.

"—Completely devoured the bird."

"Wouldn't it burst into flames? That's what our first tests show; that is why we went through all the trouble of decoding its genetics isn't it? She should be dead now, a fledgling phoenix born from the ashes of her stomach."

"That woman has some sort of power over those birds. I swear; it's the only way."

"Mm. Mistress Phoenix; of course. The birds are the only thing keeping her alive after all."

"I suppose it saves us the trouble of mixing up another transmogrification fluid."

"Good luck with the hemoglobin injection."

"Shut up."

"Make sure the kid doesn't get in the way," Yusuke whispered to Kuwabara, sliding out from the cover of the alcove to face the doctors.

"Well hey there! Glad I found you; you see, me and my friends are looking for someone. We got kinda lost, and long story short, you're going to show us how to get there because none of the guards in this place has any idea of what the hell is going on."

The doctors, one looking fairly young, stared at him like a monkey had just escaped from its cage and was shrieking at them.

"Who the hell are you?!" The young one yelled, hoping security would come deal with the crazy teenager.

"Urameshi Yusuke's the name, and the guys on my right are ones that are really in no mood for introductions." Yusuke cracked his knuckles, trying to scare the men into going along easily. "Down to business then. Kuwabara!"

Kuwabara lead the wolf-boy into the open, looking hard-faced. As an animal lover, he disapproved the most of the mistreatment these doctors administered.

"You will take us to the place your master is holding the girl you used to change the wolf." There was no room for disagreement in Youko's voice.

"Canis L-2191!!" The older of the two gasped. "But how did you--"

"Move it!!" Hiei stuck the tip of his sword to their backs. They kept silent after that and strode down the hall, Hiei's sword jabbing them every so often to go faster.

The young one yelped as he stopped in front of the desired door. Hiei gave a satisfied "Hn." Wiping the dribble of blood from his sword, he pushed the old one forward.

"Open it."

He hesitated only briefly; quickly punching in the right access code on the security keypad; the door slid open.

A tall, slender, pearlescent being was startled from his ponderous ruminating. He alighted down from his aloofness like a lead weight.

"What is the meaning of this intrusion?!" He was livid, showing it in the crackling static and invisible wind blowing the feathery hair about his face, tendrils falling from their neat upsweep.

"We're sorry, Sir!" The young doctor was close to sobbing.

"Please, forgive us Master!" The other humbly bowed his head in deep regret before Kuwabara shoveled them out of the room, helped by an excited Canis L-2191.

"Real loyal guys you got working here." Yusuke drawled in a low and dangerous tone. "I wonder if that's how scared your little test subjects get before you fuck up their genetic makeup. Damn, I hate being a hypocrite. That's strike two for the day against this little demon farm you got going here."
The man matched Yusuke's tone with his own, slicking it up with authority. "Who are you? What's your business breaking in here?"

"Urameshi Yusuke of the Reikai Tantei and my business is kicking ass. Yours just happens to be the next on my list. This is unless you hand over the girl your boy Ieyoshi kidnapped like a good demon." Yusuke smirked humorlessly. "Then I get to chuck you into a nice little room behind Spirit World bars. Can't say I won't have a few shots on the way since you've really managed to piss me off."

"Ah, so you're Koenma's boys." The pearly demon shrugged a careless shoulder. "As much as the title impresses me, I'm afraid you won't be getting what you've come for."

"Do not take Yusuke's word's lightly." Youko's animosity left no room for human emotion to addle with. "Our mission is deeply personal. You have stolen what belongs to me. I intend to take it back with whatever force is required."

"So sorry, not really, but it was not I who spirited the girl away nor was I the one who issued the orders. I did however send Ieyoshi to settle the matter with you, but it seems he's developed a habit of defying me." The demon's gleaming gaze tided over the faces of the detectives, finally coming to spy the wolf-boy quietly looking about the room, feeling the tension.

"What are you doing with Shinsa?" The demon's voice rose, it hinted at fear.

At the sound of his name, the wolf-boy's attention was jerked towards the demon. He smiled and spoke in a clear voice. "Kenmei!"

Delighted with the shocked expression on Kenmei's face, Shinsa passed the others, trotting like a dog to his master's side.

"Shinsa…?" Kenmei looked from the once wolf to the attempted enemies. "You…taught him to speak?"

"Kenmei!" he repeated, rubbing his head against Kenmei's shoulder. The master of the wolf let out a thunderstruck laugh and returned the affection in a hug. The tension deflated, to a bearable level at least. Yusuke spoke his mind.

"What the hell is this?"

Kenmei sighed, feeling more agreeable towards the fighters knowing that they had treated his Shinsa well. "Forgive my awful temper, the day has been one of the most wearisome."

"Yeah, you're telling me." Yusuke grumbled.

"I should thank you for not letting harm come to Shinsa. With my dismissal of Ieyoshi I feared of what he might think of as retribution."

"This explains his refusal to face us. He knew that with himself out of the way you would be the next target." Youko surmised, his attitude changed, but only a fraction. He still did not trust this strange demon.

Kenmei nodded gravely. "Are you still going to arrest me?"

"Yes." Was the unanimous answer.

"But I still really, really wanna kick your ass." Yusuke gave a tight smirk.

Kenmei gave a short laugh in a good-natured manner. "Maybe you'll still have the chance."

"So you're giving up, just like that?" Kuwabara asked. Kenmei shrugged again.

"Well that's no fun." Yusuke sighed.

"Not to mention it's a first." Kuwabara agreed.

"I can feel that I am hardly a match for any of you, being only a B class, and barely one at that." Kenmei explained. "My life is more important than a fight I know I will ultimately lose."

"Finally, a smart one." Hiei slurred in Kuwabara's direction.

"Before I do actually give up, will you listen to me?" Kenmei was by no means a beggar, but his words pleaded for s chance.

Yusuke cut back a groan. "Fine, but make it quick. I'm really sick of this place, and there's a futon at home with my name on it."

"I don't sense a hostile and unruly aura about you." Youko spoke. "Are you going to explain why you've employed such a number of human scientists and erected containment facilities for all these miserable beings?"

Kenmei nodded slowly, wearily. He turned towards the window, leaning his hip against the glass and gazing at the creatures on the other side as he had been for the past several hours. Shinsa, sensing his master's drop in gladness, sat on the floor beside him, whining.

The lamps in the opposite room lit themselves. Scarlet heads rose from behind wing joints, peering out with golden eyes and shaking smoky red, gold, and onyx tail feathers.

The detectives were awed. "Are those…?"

"Phoenixes." Kenmei smiled faintly; his voice near a whisper in reverence for the prized birds. "Demons of course; the third rarest breed of demon in all of Makai."

A few let out echoing chirrups and warbling notes, thinking the rising of light meant morning. A small, sand colored hut obscured by branches of an olive tree lit a lamp. They could see the strike of a match and soft glow as the gas was turned up. The Beachwood door swung open with care; out stepped a woman, advanced in years, with graying platinum blonde hair twined into a braided rope.

A phoenix trilled, spreading its wings in a magnificent display of wingspan. The wings beat soundlessly as the bird flew, wisps of orange flames trailing plumes, and perched on its mistress' shoulder with gentle talons.

"Who is that woman?" Youko asked, curious as to why a normal human being would be lock in with the haut monde of demons.

Shinsa pressed his nose against the glass. "Shina!"

"My wife." Kenmei lamented quietly. His eyes were heavy with love, tail uncurling slightly as the tension lifted from his body at the sight of her.

"She's human!" Hiei sounded confounded. Indeed they were all quite amazed that this demon with no seeming respect for life had taken up a human as a wife, especially one so old.

"Yes. We've been happy for 63 years." Kenmei was proud of this, but it passed as he spoke of the problems. "She is old now, and with disease. To venture out on her own would mean certain death due to the frailness of Shina's body. The phoenixes are virtually fountains of life; Shina cannot be away from them."

Kenmai watched his wife feed the phoenixes, the demon birds taking the sweet fruit right from her fingers. There was movement inside the hut again, the door nuzzled open by a black snout.

A streak of glossy black and the cause of the open door was out of sight, taking cover between paulownia trees and shrubbery. The bushes trembled from the movement of the animal's rooting.

"The heck was that?" Kuwabara sidled up to the glass, looking much like Shinsa with the interest in the happenings behind the clear barrier.

Shinsa had his yellow eyes locked on the now settled bush. Yusuke could clearly find details of wolf in Shinsa's actions; attentive, poised, and vivacious, it was easy to picture him as a young pup.

Kenmei acted as if he hadn't heard Kuwabara. "I didn't want her to suffer anymore; I still don't. I can't even breathe at the thought of not seeing her face, or hearing her voice everyday. Shina is my life; that is why you see what you see around you.

"I met Ieyoshi a scant few years ago. He is a man of great ambition; his hope was to lead the world in this age of discoveries. I employed him to find a cure for Shina, supplying what ever his research needed, so she could live free from her glass box."

Kenmei closed his eyes, clearing his throat of the constriction of emotion. "But even surrounded by the most brilliant minds that would be found, it wasn't enough."

"You're a fool if you thought it would make a difference." Hiei blustered, dog eyeing the demon. "She would have been dead long before you, even without one foot in the grave."

Yusuke glared at the apparition for the unforgiving judgment. Hiei scowled at him, "Don't look at me like that."

He turned back to Kenmei. "You went against the cardinal rule of the Makai. Don't get involved with a mortal; it always ends bad!" (1)

"Hiei!" Yusuke and Youko warned; the demon had given up without a fight, telling why he did what he did by choice. Youko thought it might have been only for someone to listen, it was obvious that Kenmei wanted them to understand; he had no regrets.

"He's right."

The impassiveness was unsettling. It was impertinent of Hiei to insult Kenmei's wife so callously, yet he hadn't so much as batted a snowy eyelash.

"That is why there was no other choice."

Shinsa made a whine-growl noise in the back of his throat, still intently focused on the aforementioned shrubbery. They were moving once again; a slender body crawled on its belly, seeking to pounce on an unsuspecting phoenix. The woman Shina saw the implications of mischief and shooed the bird away, trying not to smile and encourage the stark black wolf.

Going back to her odd ended chores, the wolf trotted in a congenial manner after Shina, revealing the stunningly out of place appendages it sported. Sleek onyx wings were folded against the slight body, glittering at certain angles with specks of light refracted rainbows. As the wolf walked in good humor with the mistress, its furry plumage of a tail wagged, sending wafts of smoke and orange fairies of flame trailing behind.

Shinsa yipped and made unintelligible babbling, trying to use his complicated new voice box to say hello. He let out a baying howl, standing and moving along the window.

The wolf's ears twitched; it looked towards the window with piercing gray blue eyes.

Ice water poured down Youko's back; the shock overpowered his voice. "You bastard…"

He'd suspected as much, but seeing it in front of him so plainly was stupefying.

Kenmei went on, fervently, too obsessed with his desires to care about the repercussions. "No matter what we tried, it is impossible for a human to be genetically altered into a demon. The DNA codes are too dissimilar to replicate and replace with one another. I could not become human, but I could make Shina a demon.

"By using our previous plans for human-demon DNA recoding, we substituted animal genes that would accept the demon blood into the equation. Cultured in the body, the formula evolved, changing the genetic makeup of the being in a time span of less than twenty-four hours in some cases. Fully transmogrified, the process is repeated with the animal-to-demon formula, producing what you see before you. A beautiful, full-blooded demon."

"He's insane…!" Kuwabara backed away from the glass. "How can that actually be possible?!"

Hiei scoffed. "No human could endure such a process."

"True." Kenmei smiled. "That is why I had to have someone special; Eris was the perfect person for the final trial."

"Why her?!" Youko blazed; Kuwabara was right, this demon was insane. To tamper with life like that only for a slim chance of success…

"Because Eris has not one, but two life forces within her. It makes her stronger than the average human, more durable. Even if death came close, the weaker spirit would leave and Eris would still continue to exist, being fully able to continue on with the process."

"What about her family!" Yusuke growled, fingers twitching with spirit energy.

"Calm yourself, Urameshi-san." Kenmei had the grace to show a shadow of sorrow for the girl. "As I said before, I did not order Ieyoshi to kidnap Eris. It was my intention to capture the Koorime maiden. Since they reproduce by cloning themselves, it would have been an easier demon transition. It was pure coincidence Ieyoshi came upon Eris." (2)

"I never would have pegged you for the sort that stuck the blame all on one person." Ieyoshi leaned in the doorway, amused smirk on his lips. "You should hear yourself, Kenmei; hear what they hear. It doesn't paint a pretty picture."

It was lucky the General spoke then; if there hadn't been an unexpected interruption, Hiei might have sliced the demon into unrecognizable pieces. So angry was he; Hiei wouldn't have stopped until there was nothing left to cut.

Kenmei glared at Ieyoshi. "You dare show your face to me, you coward?"

"Coward?" Ieyoshi feigned hurt. "I've only done the same as you. Well, not quite," he sneered. "I didn't hand myself over."

"I should thank you for that," Only threads of restraint were left binding Youko. "I'll have the pleasure of destroying you without the red tape."

Ieyoshi glided into the room, laughing sneer still sported, and stopped just in front of the window, Kenmei on his left, and the Rekei Tantei on the right. Shinsa growled, moving to protect his master if this man should pose a threat.

He laughed at the auras of hatred surrounding him. "Oh come now, can't we all just get along?"

Through the window, Eris the wolf hadn't moved her gazing point. She could feel the hate too, the way a wolf feels the emotions of her pack, or smells fear in her prey. Despite not seeing who the culprits were through the mirrored side of the window, Eris could distinctly taste and smell the high-strung emotions.

Hiei felt something different, something all too familiar that had been believed to be lost with the girl. "What's that around your neck?"

"Oh this?" Casually, Ieyoshi extracted a long silver chain from underneath his clothes, on the end dangled a blue gem. He twirled the chain around his fingers. "The girl had it in her hand when I brought her to my ungrateful Master. I thought it was pretty; don't you think so?"

"It would be prettier in a pool of your blood; you have five seconds to take it off before I remove your head from your shoulders to make it easier."

Ieyoshi rolled his eyes. "Oh please--"

"One." Youko started the count, rolling a seed between his slender fingers.

"Stay out of this fox. The bastard is mine! Two!"

"Three. You're too late, Hiei, his life has already been claimed."

"And you've failed to claim it more than once, f--"

"Four!" Yusuke ducked away from the acid glares of the two demons. "Kidding! Just thought I'd join in on the counting game."

"Y'know, they really aren't kidding," Kuwabara muttered to the psychic, readying his Spirit Sword. He'd figured he'd have to practice his batting skills dodging flesh chunks the way this was going.

"Seems you've become quite popular, Ieyoshi." Kenmei chuckled to himself. "Just what you always wanted, isn't it?"

"Shut up!" Ieyoshi snarled, backing away as the demons moved forward, his back bumping into the window.

"Don't be so smug, Kenmei," Youko didn't look away from the trapped prey. "We are to deal with you next."

"Forgive me if I enjoy your work before my sentencing."

Hiei ran his thumb over the blade of his katana, licking the cut clean of blood. He leered with a sharp fanged smile. "Five."

Rose whip and sword slashed murderously lashed out; no connection of flesh was made. Only two slashes appeared on the glass, a pattern like a cross.

"W-where'd he go?" Kuwabara rubbed his eyes. "Sis was right, maybe I do need glasses…"

Shinsa whined; Kenmei was nowhere to be found.

"Eris!" Youko groaned with dissent.

The window exploded; a woman's scream accompanied the shattering of glass. Her claws clacking on the tiled floor, Eris swept the room with her stormy eyes. The sound of her staccato inspires filling the shocked silence.

Two effulgent irises stood out bodiless against the wall. The stunned party parted like the red sea as Eris moved towards them. Without warning she viciously bit air; another yell, a man this time, and Ieyoshi appeared holding Kenmei as a body shield and hitting Eris in the snout with the butt of his dagger.

Shinsa cried out in a scared yelp; he dragged Eris away from the pair as Ieyoshi threatened to stab Kenmei in the neck.

"Keep those mutts away from me!!" He pressed the blade to the pearly neck scales of a calm Kenmei; blood dripped from the bite in his leg, and from Eris' teeth.

"We're not Animal Control," Yusuke stood with his hands in his pockets. "Anyone can hide behind a hostage; if you're such a tough guy, keep 'em away yourself."

"Or maybe I'll just kill him, and his little dog too!" Ieyoshi pressed harder, adding color to Kenmei's skin with warm blood.

"N-no!" Shinsa's eyes were gold moons. "Shina n-need Kenmei!"

"Yeah, think of the wife and kid you heartless prick," Yusuke caught a puff of flame from Eris' angrily twitching tail and lit a cigarette. "Otherwise the flocks of birds coming this way are going to peck your beady little eyes out. I think you may have pissed the little woman off."

At that moment, a brilliant phoenix snatched the knife from an off guard Ieyoshi; another scratched him viciously across the face with its golden talons. More joined their comrades in the fight; Ieyoshi tried swatting the birds away, the blue tear gem bouncing on its chain.

Eris' eyes locked onto the gem. Tear gem—Hiei's—get gem—Hina's gem for Hiei…

Taking her chance, Eris spread her wings threateningly and pounced on the man, snarling and sinking her claws into any part she could tear. Kenmei, meanwhile, leapt through the crippled window to find his wife smiling at the excitement.

"Are you alright?" He engulfed her in a tender embrace, voice rising and falling in a lilting language. "You tire yourself too much when you do that."

"And you worry too much when I do that," Shina smiled, trailing a gracefully aged hand along his cheek.

Kenmei took it in his and gave her palm a kiss. "You scared me to death when you screamed!"

"Hate to ruin the heartbreakingly cute lovey dovey moment, but could you call off the attack birds so our friend doesn't--"

Yusuke's words were cut off by a gunshot, a screeching yelp, and the sound of blood splattering the wall.

Shakingly, Kenmei led his wife carefully through the window, daintily stepping around shards of glass strewn over the ground.

A crimson stained rose whip lay forgotten; Youko crouched next to the fallen wolf. Ieyoshi was left, as promised, in a pool of his own blood, thorns still imbedded in the body length gash.

"Oh my…" Shina covered her mouth. Kenmei shielded her view with his body.

Yusuke kicked the gun away from the corpse, grinding his teeth together and shaking the building with his fury, despite the merely annoyed look as he turned away. His fist glowed blue, and with a raucous growl, a new doorway had appeared.

"Let's get the hell out of here." Their leader barked over his shoulder, disgusted with the whole business.

"N-no…!" A gurgled whisper sounded from the supposed dead man. "I…am s-still h-here! F-fight…me!"

"Oh for Kami's sake," Hiei exclaimed, exasperated, taking stance with his sword. "Would you fucking die already?"

With one stroke, Ieyoshi breathed no more.

"How is she?" Kuwabara carefully asked the fox of Eris' status.

Youko didn't hear, busy working all healing he could think of, and holding a length of cloth torn from his own clothes to the wound in her stomach.

Kurama…

Startled, Youko looked to the clouded eyes of Eris. She whined, blinking and squirming against the burning in her belly.

Kurama…hurts…

His throat closed; I know it does. Just stop moving, it'll be better.

No…won't be better…

Nonsense, Youko set his jaw and concentrated harder. The wound is already closing.

Cold…

He tried to make light of the situation. Cold? You're a fire demon now Eris, how can you be cold?

Kurama…! She was frightened; Youko could feel the trembling in her limbs.

Don't! Don't you dare leave now! He franticly poured his own energy into her body.

Stop…coming for me…

"NO! Eris! Don't go with them!" Youko cried aloud. "Why didn't he save you?!"

Yusuke led the puzzled Kuwabara away. Kenmei took the hint and followed with Shina into the hall where Hiei was already waiting to leave.

"Sister…?" Shinsa looked mournfully at the fox and wolf before being shooed from the room by Shina.

Couldn't…I'm s-sorry…tell everyone…

"You can't leave!"

Sorry…Kurama…

"ERIS!" He turned the wolf's head to look into her lightless eyes.


AN: Me again! I'm evil, I know. To make up for it, or add to the mood, more poetry! These are actually parts of songs; you should really go out and buy the CD. wink I don't own this one either! No sue Nefus, mkay?

Lay your head down
And sleep on my shoulder
Lay your head down
And start a new dream

And for tonight
The moment is over
Drift in a lullaby
Here where the stars reside
And angels are always seen

And lay your head down
The stars they have whispered
Hear what they say
And know that it means
The moon is your guide
The stars they have kissed her
As she goes gently by
Light as a baby's sigh
Safe on a fairy tale stream

And start a new dream

—"A Final Dream," from Beethoven's Last Night by Paul O'Neill. Music performed by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.


Youko Kurama, greatest thief known to Makai, shook with grief. He cursed the day he ventured to the living world, escaping death so easily only to see it take one of the only other humans besides his mother and Shuichi to bring feeling into his ruthless heart.

"You were supposed to come back with me," he tangled his hands in his hair. "You were supposed to laugh at my hair!"

There was a soft presence behind him; Youko willed it to go away and leave him be. His luck had run out, the fates had left him, and the presence remained.

"I'm sorry for your loss, young man."

Youko laughed humorlessly. "Young man? I have aged more in this day than any in the long centuries of my life. Now if you don't mind…"

"She was a lovely girl, quite sweet once the fits stopped." Shina laid a hand on his shoulder.

Youko jerked away as if she had burned him. "Get away from me. She'd be alive if that foul thing you call a husband hadn't been so damned selfish!"

"Selfish?" Shina raised a brow as she squatted down next to the fox, covering a cough. "He did it out of love. Tell me, wouldn't you do anything to bring Eris-chan back, healthy and happy?"

"Not when it meant the death of an innocent!" That was a lie; he'd do it in a heartbeat.

Shina nodded, folding her hands between her knees, wobbling a little on unstable bones. "I understand."

It was an odd feeling, knowing that she did. Youko stood; staying next to her was too hard. He half expected Eris to pop back up with a laugh, or a wagging tail, and go "Just kidding!"

The others avoided his eyes, brooding in their own storm of thoughts. It was more than failing a mission; they'd lost a great friend despite the short time she'd spent with them. Already the absence of her constant humor fell like a suffocating blanket.

Who else would dish and take the universal teasing as well as Yusuke did? No one else would watch the birds in mutual contentment with Yukina. What would Ducky and Alex do without their friend, now that the unspoken bullet of the past had finally caught up?

Who would tell her family? What could they say?

Shinsa's bare feet padded softly on the floor; the boy pulled on Youko's slack arm. "Sister…gone?"

He swallowed. "Sister?" Youko looked to Shina and Kenmei for an explanation.

"I raised Shinsa since his birth two years ago. We would have adopted Eris into our family…" The responsible demon held his elderly wife close. "Shinsa smells—smelled his kinship with Eris through their genetic bond."

Youko suppressed a shiver; this eccentric demon still held to the belief that he had done nothing wrong. "Perhaps it was better that she escaped such a fate."

Yusuke let the wide hallway wall bear his weight, heart going out to the languishing fox. Communicator going off, he chucked it to Hiei who caught it with one hand.

"What?" he barked, startling the ferry girl on the other end.

Botan cleared her throat. "Where's Yusuke?"

"Busy." He glanced at the mulling half-demon. "What's up?"

"Oh! Um, Koenma just wanted to congratulate you--"

"Are you kidding me?!" Yusuke snatched the communicator up angrily. "For what??"

Taken aback, Botan was helplessly confused. "Why for completing your mission of course! And saving his butt from King Enma's royal paddle." She giggled behind her pink kimono. "How's Eris doing by the way? We had a few red alerts blinking on this end."

Youko looked away in numb dolor.

"Not…good." Yusuke ran a hand over his hair to take rest on his neck; his desolate expression set off its own warning in the ferry girl. "Botan--"

"You guys smell something burning?" Kuwabara sniffed the air. "Smells like incense or something."

Scents of cinnamon and autumn leaves burning in the warm sun dragged Youko's senses from the gloom. "He's…right…!"

Shina's phoenixes burst from Heliopolis; flames not their own trailing after them. The heat from the burning room radiated, rising higher with each passing second.

They crowded as close to the door as they could without being incinerated. Wide eyed, all that could be done was stare. As suddenly as the flames had started up, just as erratically they began to douse.

"What the…?" Yusuke's brain was throbbing with the craziness. "I'm confused…should I be surprised by this?"

"Yusuke!!" Botan's tiny voice was shrill in his palm. "What in the River Styx is going on over there?? Ayame's just--""

"If I knew, I'd tell ya," he groused. "Just tell Koenma to get some of his goons down here. This is going to be one hell of a cleanup job."

Kenmei let a long string of dulcet words in he and Shina's flowery language loose and snatched Shinsa away from his curious investigation of the doorway. The unusual family disappeared from the eye, hidden behind Kenmei's talent of camouflage.

"Wonder what his problem is." Kuwabara muttered.

His question was soon answered. There was a virtual explosion of energy released from a point where the heat was strongest; the air tingled with unbridled activity, forming into the figure of a tall teenaged boy, wispy blonde hair falling into his blue eyes.

He walked forward, smile laughing as his soundless feet approached. The ghost first looked to Hiei and to further puzzlement, bowed to the Koorime.

"I believe," his voice was smooth and had an otherworldly echo. "This belongs to you." Extending a hand, the troubled over tear gem lay safe in his palm. Without hesitation, Hiei accepted the revered memoir; it was heavy and cold.

"Who the hell are you?!" Yusuke was dumb with confusion. "I've been through the whole ghost thing, please tell me Eris wasn't really a guy and you're her ghost?"

The ghost laughed and shrugged. "Well, I am her ghost in a sense, but I am not Eris."

"William Baker." A new vociferation broke into the scene. Heads turned to see a woman, black hair and midnight eyes, toting a ferry oar in a dark blue kimono.

"Isn't that Ayame, the chick who works in Koenma's office?" Kuwabara was taking the unsuspected twists better than Yusuke; he chalked it up to stress on Yusuke's part. "What's she doing here?"

"I've come to take William to Spirit World personally." Her intonations were low and lovely. "Koenma-sama would have come himself, but had a few banishing ceremonies to attend to."

Ayame smirked. "You know how he loves those. Are you ready then, William-san?"

"Just Will is fine, thanks." Will inclined his head and began to brush past the Reikai Tantei. He stopped in front of Youko with a serious face. "I know you're cross with me; I don't blame you, but I couldn't fight fate this time."

"Why?" Youko's wanted to be angry, but this boy was the only part of Eris left. He had to know why; why had he interfered?

"He was underestimated. Ieyoshi was a weak psychic, but made up for it with quick thinking. You would be the one in Eris' place now if I hadn't moved him. Eris and I both saw this and it was too much for her to see someone she loves go down like that."

"Will?"" Ayame tried to urge the parting along. Youko moved to grab the boy's arm before he could leave. The motion went straight through.

Will waited patiently for Youko's question. When it didn't come, Will spoke instead, "She looks up to you, all of you." He swept the eyes of the fighters with his own. "In turn, I trust you to help her grow up." Will smirked a little, "She's a spitfire; someone's gotta keep her grounded."

Youko wasn't sure he understood. The ghost was speaking in present tense. "But—"

Will clapped him on the shoulder, laughing when his hand made contact. "Don't worry so much! She'll be fine. Dying's good for the soul, right Yusuke?"

Yusuke snorted. "Riiight."

As Will left the team to their muddled minds, he looked ahead to Ayame with an agreeable expression, but his eyes and voice spoke of less patience to the seeming space of air to his right.

"Your eyes give you away. Might want to work on that; the next band of demons you piss off might not be so merciful."

Born away on Ayame's oar, Will gave the fighters a last smile and wave. "Take care of her for me!" He called before finally leaving on his journey to rest.

Kenmei reappeared, dismal. "The collar didn't work."

Shina clung to hum and nodded.

"You knew she would die."

Again, Shina nodded.

"You fed her the phoenix."

He could feel a girlish giggle bubbling in her chest.

"What would I do without you?" Kenmei held his wife closer. "You're an angel, did you know that?"

"I know." She kissed his cheek.

A high wailing sound; loud, annoying, heartbreak inducing, and comforting all at the same time cut through the air. It was unpredicted, so misplaced it took a moment to register what it was.

"Is that…a baby crying??" Kuwabara followed the sound and looked inside the burning room. "Oh my God, there's a baby in there!!"

Take care of her for me. Youko ran the words over in his mind. Another rising cry made them click intot place. "Hiei, may I borrow your cloak?"

"What??" The request was as unexpected as a baby suddenly appearing in a fire. "No!"

"Just give it to me!" The fox's snapped.

Hiei whipped it at him, crossing his arms indignantly as he watched the impassioned fox dart into the burning Heliopolis.

The flames were lessened, nut not the heat. Smoke choked the breath from him and stung the eyes. Fighting through it, Youko followed cries to the source. Lying close to a smoldering pile, suspiciously smelling of burning flesh, was a red-faced child smudged with ash. Youko wrapped her in the borrowed cloak just as a hard yank on the back of his top pulled him back into the light and clear air of the corridor.

Hiei had to tap into his will power to keep himself from hitting the fox upside the head. "Idiot!" He gave into the urge, his fright a little eased by the annoyed expression he was rewarded. "What the hell were you thinking??"

"Yeah man," Yusuke looked as if he were getting over a heart attack. "I know it's hard to lose someone, but—"

"I was not committing suicide," Youko scowled. "Don't insult me." He uncovered the fussing baby in his arms.

"Oh no way!" Kuwabara gaped like a fish. "You're a dad?! How the hell did you…?" He rushed to the open doorway again, searching for a woman among the fire.

"No you moron," Yusuke dragged him away. "That's not his kid!" he looked closer at the sooty baby blinking her eyes up at him. "I think it's his…girlfriend…?"

"But—how—wasn't she—I heard the gun!" So much for handling the shock well.

Youko held up his hand, balancing the baby in the crook of his other arm." And I still have the blood on me."

Shinsa wandered away from Kenmei and Shina, intrigued at the sight of the little human. "Sister?" he peered closer and sneezed from the ash.

"You're supposed to be dead!!" Yusuke poked the bundle. He got a stubby finger in the eye for his troubles. "AH! Yep…that's her. Damn it that hurt…"

"If I may?" Shina approached, asking to hold the baby-fied girl. Youko hesitated, not wanting to let go.

Shina smiled, understanding. "If you'll just hold her up and around then, I'd like to see something."

Not seeing the harm, Youko shifted baby Eris to rest on his chest with her back facing the old woman. Shina pulled the black cloak away; two wings in color rays ranging from fiery orange and yellow to red, and smaller than the woman's hand lay neatly folded against the dirty pink skin.

Shina's face shined with admiration and pride. Wordlessly, she wrapped the baby into a bundle again, looking much renewed by the sight of those wings.

"Whoa, neat!" Kuwabara exclaimed. "She really is a phoenix demon!"

"Precisely." Shina nodded, still beaming. "As she was reborn in the flames the wolf was burned, ripped away along with the spirit boy."

"Question," Yusuke raised with his voice. "How long is she going to be like this?"

"Oh I don't know," Shina tapped her small chin. "Maybe a few weeks. Phoenixes grow to full size fairly quick."

Youko was in a daze; he could barely thank her. "I can't thank you enough."

"Then don't." She cooed at Eris, wiping her face clean of tears and ash. "I told you she was a sweet girl. My phoenixes told me Eris-chan was special. You can't ignore something like that."

A shout from down the corridor captured their attentions. "The goons are here," Yusuke said. "Let's get her out of here. Hiei! Mind if you take care of escorting Kenmei and his…uh, family to the Spirit World?"

He nodded and shot to Youko, "Thank you can keep your self from hell jumping while I'm gone? That's my favorite cloak you know."

"It's your only cloak." Youko responded, an unbelievable perk in his mood showing. He cradled Eris, hardly able to contain the jumble of feelings. The constant anger ebbed away along with Youko as he could finally breathe.

As promised, Kenmei went along without resistance when the group met up with a team of Spirit World field workers, mostly made up of just promoted ferry girls and ogres, and was ushered outside the complex.

Night was almost upon them, cicadas chirruping their dusk song among the grasses and flowers. The large-trunked trees of the forest loomed before the Spirit World team surrounding Kenmei, Shina, and Shinsa like a great shadow. An irritable and exhausted Hiei grumbled behind them about slow portal operators.

In reminiscence, Kenmei gazed at the grounds of his former establishment. He saw Youko exit the facility and was quite astonished as he was literally transformed by the fresh wind of the open night air.

Shina added wrinkles into her brow as she scrunched up her eyes at her husband's befuddlement. She followed his line of vision to a tall, redheaded teenager holding a baby in smitten arms.

Shina laughed despite the tight protest of her lungs. "My goodness! Is there anything that doesn't happen to you people?"

Hiei shrugged. "You get used to it."

"Are you sure you're all right?" Kenmei asked Shina, concerned about the flush in her cheeks and shortness of breath.

"Quite all right. I'm actually feeling much better than I have in a long time." Shina patted his arm. "I've been putting this trip off for far too long."

"Shina…"

"Kenmei." She took his hand and squeezed it reassuringly and stepped through the arrived portal together.

"Ah man," Yusuke came up beside Kurama, rubbing his neck. "It's going to take weeks to release all those demons and sort this mess out. Glad it ain't my job!!" He grinned and threw his arms up in a victory stretch, alleviating the ache in his relieved shoulders. "Good to see you back to your regular self, Kurama!"

Kurama looked at his hand and smiled blithely. "It is good to be back. With Youko's anger stilled I suppose…oh hell, I don't know what happened!" He laughed, reveling in the sight of Eris' blue grey eyes and the grip of her chubby hand around his finger. "Frankly, I don't care."

"Man, he must really be happy or else on something," Kuwabara grinned, joining Yusuke and the now human kitsune. "Can we go home now?"

"Please! I must be allergic to something here," Yusuke scratched his neck again. "I think I'm getting a rash. Would you stop scaring the poor girl?"

Kuwabara stopped making faces at little Eris to make one at Yusuke and appealed to Kurama. "Can I hold her? Babies love me!"

"No!" Yusuke snatched Eris away from Kurama to save her from Kuwabara. "I refuse to stand by and watch such a cute baby catch your ugly!"

"Grrr, quite hiding behind the kid so I can knock your face into the ground!"

"At least I wouldn't have to look at yours, Kuwabara." Yusuke cooed in a baby voice, tapping Eris on the nose. "Isn't that right? Oh! See! She laughed! Eris agrees."

Kurama chortled, taking her back. "Come on, we should get back to the temple. The girls must be worried about us, right Eris?"

Eris gave a gurgling giggle and snuggled into Hiei's cloak.

"Race you to the portal!" Yusuke took off, not waiting for the others.

"You cheater!" Kuwabara shook his fist, whisking off after his friend and tackling him to the ground before getting up and going on ahead.

Kurama shook his head as he walked leisurely through the cool night after them. "As per usual you are the most mature between them, Eris." He admired the nodding off baby, feeling both elated and apprehensive.

"Alex is going to kill me." He sighed, stepping through the portal that would take them back to Koenma's office and from there…finally home.


AN: HAAAA!!!! You thought I really killed her off, didn't ya? DIDN'T YA?? Come on, admit it. XD Sillies, I said the sequel was going to be cute, not depressing! You know I originally planned for Eris to be locked in a dungeon and for Kenmei to be the sympathetic lackey of the evil mad scientist? There was going to be scenes with her singing show tunes to piss him off too. Tehee. I mostly pulled these last three parts out of my ass in three weeks. Hadn't thought of Kenmei's name before last week and Shina and Shinsa didn't even exist. Not bad, eh?

Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday and was patient with this last installment! Cookies and Happy Christmas to all who've stuck with me on this story since the first chapters!

Footnotes:
(1) "You went against the cardinal rule of the Makai. Don't get involved with a mortal; it always ends bad!"—Actually an unintentional spin on a quote from Moulin Rouge by the Argentinean man: "Never fall in love with a woman who sells herself. It always ends BAD!"
I knew it sounded familiar when I wrote it, and after hours of head banging I pin pointed it after looking at the movie poster above my bed. I heart that movie. XD

(2) "It was my intention to capture the Koorime maiden."—I read this on a good website some time ago, but I can't seem to find it again. No idea if it's true, but it fit so I put it in. Remind me never to do this again. XD

Review Replies!:

Spatial Monkey: And you put "a" instead of "an" in front of a vowel. wink wink I make plenty of stupid mistakes in my chapters, but I've given up trying to find them all. Thanks for laughing!! I like knowing I'm not the only one who thinks what I write is funny.

Fireyoukaipaige: Seventeen baby! Woot!!

Tears of Payne: Thanks for reading!! I hope you'll stick around for the sequel!

InuKurama: Yeah so it took longer than a few days. I was making cookies. No really!

RaindropsRteardrops: Yay! I'm a favorite!! I is happy.

Dolphingirl32173: You really like that chapter don't you? Woot! I'M A TOP SPOTTER!! YEAH!! Kick ass.

Danie: Was it explained kinda better in this one? :/ I forget you all can't read my mind where it actually makes sense.

Princess Kandra: Almost 10,000 words and 26 pages more. That should hold you for awhile!

Hitokiri-of-the-shadows: GAH! Not the Hiei plushie!! Have mercy!!!

Ookami Aya: Thank yoooouuu!! Extra cookies for you.

Renara: Thank you! The expression means like you're waiting for something you want with suspended breath.

FluffysBijin05: Did I waste another two days of your life? Hehe. Kenmei's actually a combination of the three. He's mostly in his own grouping of antagonists. I love making Yusuke torture poor Kuwa. Bwahaha! And thank you for the birthday wishes! They are well received.

Sakura-chan: Yay! Someone gets it! XD

Koroga: I go all over the place with my stories without originally planning to. I guess it works! Heh. Don't ask me how the whole transformation thing really works. Kenmei made me do it!! XD I'm glad Hiei's taking the whole Yukina deal so well. I was half expecting to see him outside my window with his lovely katana, but instead you bring me GREN!! :D

Gren: beams Always fabulous to hear from you Mr. Saxophone. XD And singing one of my favorite songs! Brilliant! Switchfoot actually helped me write part two and three (the title of this chapter should sound familiar), so it was quite a treat for me. Thank you!

Sun Priestess: Yeah break!! XD I liked writing the bit with Yukina and Hiei. It so had to be done, and I've never seen anyone actually put it in a story. I also hate stories that don't tell of what the other characters are doing. It provides nice tidbits that add to the story, and I make sure to include everyone present at least once. Was the relationship between Kurama and Eris more prominent than I'm giving it credit for? To me it seems like they seem like they're still just really good friends, which isn't really what I wanted. Too late now I guess, huh?

Give some lovin' to the official RTR livejournal community! Don't be shy! You can read about me being lazy! www. livejournal .com/ community / erratic petals /
Take out the spaces, and put the underscore in between "erratic" and "petals".

Happy Christmas everyone, and see you in the sequel!!
—Nefus