A/N: Random idea that came to me while writing Mission X (which I am still writing on; this is a one-shot. It's pretty much a tide-me-over to my Mission X readers until I can get the next chapter out --my computer didn't want to cooperate and screwed up the disk I had the new chapter on).

It's my first attempt at anything with angst, so forgive me if it's not that good.

Essentially, it's a simple concept. Demons live for a long time, correct? Face facts, Youko Kurama was practically immortal until that Hunter caught up with him, and who knows how long Hiei's been alive.

So now that Yuusuke is also a demon . . .

Summary: What happens when all you have ahead of you is endless life . . . and nothing to live for? Toushin Yuusuke fic. One-shot.

- : - : - Immortality - : - : -


Some days . . . Some days it seemed as though the entire world was weeping. The sky would grow dim, and clouds would appear, covering the land in shadows, and fat, gray tears of sorrow would fall upon the world.

Days just like this one.

It was amazing, he reflected, that men would put so much effort into making even the most dreary, miserable places into cheerful havens. It wasn't as though they ever succeeded, but they tried nonetheless. Hospitals and cemeteries were the favorite places to 'make-over,' and he was presently standing in the middle of one of the latter.

Trees grew in small groves, scattered across the grassy hillside in artistically arranged clumps, a human attempt at making the perfect 'nature' setting, and rain dripped steadily from their leaves in streams of silver and gray. Lonely winds twined through their branches, whispering wretchedly amongst themselves.

Standing beneath the branches of an old elm, a lone man could still feel the slight impacts of raindrops against his shoulders and back. His shirt was already soaked, clinging to his skin, and the skin of his bare arms prickled with the cold.

His hair, long and jet black, was pulled back from his face in a ponytail that fell to his thighs, and his eyes, a unique shade of brown and crimson mixed, were locked upon the two small rectangles of gray stone set in the earth at the base of the tree.

He could easily read the words engraved on each glossy, rain-streaked surface, even without kneeling down.





He moved at last, stepping forward and crouching before the more recent grave of the two. Tan fingers ran lightly over the letters. There was no way to know if the wetness upon his cheeks was from tears or merely errant raindrops.

He fingered the delicate stem of the yellow and white rose held in his hand for several moments before placing it gently below the engraved name of the marker. "Your favorite kind, koibito."

The man made one more attempt to push the rain-soaked strands of his hair back out of his eyes before giving it up as a lost cause and rising slowly to his feet. He sighed softly, his eyes dark with pain.

"I know you're there, Kurama." The dark-haired man turned around to look pointedly toward one of the other trees growing some distance away. A dark-clad figure --a male possessing long, red hair-- detached itself from the shadows beside the trunk and walked slowly forward.

"I apologize, Yuusuke. I didn't want to interrupt you," murmured the other.

The dark-haired man merely narrowed his eyes. "What are you doing here?"

"Koenma sent me," replied Kurama simply.

Yuusuke let out a harsh laugh, sneering coldly, revealing the abnormally sharp canines at the corners of his mouth. "I'll bet he did. What does the Almighty Toddler want now? Wondering if his pet demon is about to snap the leash?" Yuusuke's eyes flashed ruby for a short moment, and blue markings darkened upon his skin. "Or if I'll be needing my crossing-over paperwork done sooner than expected?"

The smallest of smiles flickered upon the kitsune's lips. "To Koenma? More of the latter, I suppose, but there is little doubt in any of our minds that the former is a very real possibility."

Yuusuke gazed for a long time into the other demon's gold-flecked, jade eyes, finding nothing but understanding and sympathy there. Kurama was one of the few people that Yuusuke would ever accept sympathy from; the kitsune was familiar with Yuusuke's pain. Kurama' human mother had passed away not long before Atsuko had.

The ruby shade faded from the younger man's irises, and the markings disappeared.

He sighed, looking once more at the graves. "I'm not suicidal, no matter what Koenma might think . . . but giving up being Spirit Detective is a much more attractive option. I've been thinking about it quite a bit, actually."

"Then what's stopping you?"

The quiet, frank question brought Yuusuke's head up once more, and he stared at Kurama with something akin to amazement in his eyes. "What?"

Kurama brushed a stray strand of red hair back behind his ear, radiating calm and confidence the way that a fire radiated light and heat. "What's stopping you?"

Yuusuke still looked slightly surprised. "You're the last person I'd expect that from . . . Hiei, maybe, but not you."

Kurama's eyes glimmered with amusement for a short moment. "I'm not Minamino Shuichi, Yuusuke. Shiori taught me the value of emotions, but I am Kurama at heart . . . I'll ask again: what's stopping you?"

Yuusuke sifted through his thoughts for the answer. It wasn't as though he was paid for being a part of the Reikai Tantei . . . or even if he did receive money for what he did, he had more than enough gold and jewels within his vault in the Makai to live independently.

Nor did he depend on Reikai for travel between the worlds. As an S-superior demon with through-the-roof reiki levels to back it up, he had more than enough power to transfer himself between dimensions when it was necessary; it took a lot out of him, but it could be done.

Hiei and Kurama . . . whether he was Detective or not didn't matter to them one way or another. Kurama led his own life in Ningenkai, only leaving for brief visits to Makai or on missions for Koenma. Hiei only left Mukuro's territory for missions if Yuusuke or Kurama asked for his help (Koenma and his orders held very low priority with the Jaganshi).

Botan and Koenma . . .

Therein lay the source of his hesitation.

"Loyalty," he replied at last. "Botan and Koenma have both stood by me when I needed it. They may annoy me, but I have no intention of abandoning them."

Kurama nodded slightly, as though Yuusuke's reply was nothing unexpected. "True enough, but there are other Spirit Detectives now. As the senior team, we are rarely called on missions anymore; Koenma freely admits that the current criminals on the run from Reikai can barely stand up to the most junior of detectives he currently has on staff. There's no reason to call on us any more. Why use a sledgehammer to crack the shells of peanuts?"

Yuusuke laughed quietly. "Peanuts?" he asked, amused.

Kurama smiled. "Botan's words, not mine."

"You've discussed this with Botan?"

"Hiei as well."


"I have not, however, spoken with Koenma."

Yuusuke quirked an eyebrow in question. Kurama responded automatically.

"Botan, Hiei and I all agreed that it was for the best."

The eyebrow inched higher. Kurama's fangs were oddly accented when he smiled once more, giving him a wolfish --or rather, foxish-- air.

"We all want to see his face if and when I deliver the news that you have --how did you put it?-- 'snapped the leash.'"

Kurama met Yuusuke's intense, studying gaze steadily, until the Toushin spoke once more.

"You, fox, could argue with a rock and win."

"I've had nearly a century of practice with you and Hiei," responded the redhead evenly.

The disconcerting, red-brown eyes turned back to the two graves, lingering upon the more recent of the pair, and any peace the Toushin had gained from his conversation with his companion drained away in the face of the memories of what he had lost.

Yuusuke's voice was quiet when he spoke once more. "Do you still miss her, Kurama?"

"Shiori, you mean?" Kurama's green eyes darkened to the shade of ivy leaves, taking on a faraway look that spoke of many memories surfacing within his thoughts. "Yes, Yuusuke. I still miss her."

"Does it still hurt?"

The kitsune remained silent. Yuusuke turned back toward the redhead, his eyes sparking with some emotion that the other couldn't recognize.

"It hurts, Kurama, even now. Sometimes I can't sleep at night; I can smell her on the sheets and pillows of the bed, and on the couch, even in the kitchen . . . Hell, anywhere inside our apartment is covered in her scent! Unless I pull a Hiei and start sleeping in trees, I'm going to go insane . . ."

Kurama shook his head slightly, his eyes sad. "I cannot say that it ever stops hurting. It never does . . . but the pain does lessen over time."

That cold glimmer of cruel cynicism returned to the pained, ruby eyes. "I'm a demon, Kurama. I've got nothing but time."

The red-haired kitsune studied the younger man for a long moment. The signs of stress and lack of sleep were beginning to show through upon the dark-haired young man's face, indicating just how bad his situation truly was; the strain that would cause any demon --much less an S-class-- to look even slightly haggard would most likely kill a strong human. Yuusuke's cheeks were pale, the flesh stretched tightly over the bones, and the skin beneath his eyes appeared bruised from lack of sleep.

"All the more reason for you to do something with yourself," said Kurama at last, his voice soft. "You're doing yourself no good lingering here. Go somewhere . . . anywhere. Makai, Ningenkai . . . somewhere that you can start a new life without memories to constantly haunt you."

"You make it sound so simple."

"Isn't it, though?" challenged the other quietly. "You're killing yourself, Yuusuke. Koenma may not see it, but I do, and Hiei does as well."

Yuusuke brushed his damp bangs away from his forehead, his eyes dark, almost black, with pain. "But if you need me . . ."

"Hiei will be able to find you, if we are truly in need of help," Kurama reassured him.

"And Koenma?"

Kurama's eyes narrowed, a small spark of his Youko nature showing through. "---will have far less than favorable chances of getting any help from myself or Hiei in finding you."

Yuusuke looked back toward the grave. " . . . I don't want to leave her."

Kurama's eyes closed in sympathy for the other's loss. "That isn't her anymore, Yuusuke. She's in Reikai now, with the others. All that remains here is a memory."

"Memories have a way of holding onto you. You should know that better than anyone . . . Youko."

Kurama opened his eyes and gazed at the younger demon. "All the more reason for you to listen to me. I know of what I speak. If you let the memories trap you, you'll never break free."

Yuusuke's eyes were abnormally thoughtful as he turned back toward his friend of many years. "And what if I don't want to be free of them?"

"Then you'll live as I did for so long; a prisoner of your past." Kurama shook his head slightly. "I would not wish that upon my worst enemies . . . much less you, Yuusuke-sama."

The Toushin's dark eyes flared ruby for a brief moment. "Don't call me that."

Kurama said nothing.

A lonely wind twined listlessly through the branches overhead, sending a shower of sparkling droplets down upon the two men. The rain had slowly faded away, and now the sun was peering hesitantly through the clouds overhead, making the water clinging to the grass shine like bright jewels.

After many long moments of thoughtful silence, Yuusuke closed his eyes. "I'll go."

"Very well."

The Toushin turned and walked a short distance away, seeking a place open enough to hold the energy necessary to fuel a portal without damaging anything nearby . . . namely, Kurama. The dark-haired young man paused momentarily.

"But I will come back . . . someday."

"I expected nothing less." Kurama smiled slightly. "Sayonara, Yuusuke."

The younger demon glanced back over his shoulder at his companion. "Sayonara, Kurama."

Blue-white light flared around Yuusuke's body, a mix of his demon youki and human reiki. The air around him began to shimmer with the immense energy radiating from the young man.

The last glimpse that Kurama had of the young Toushin was an image of long, dark hair swaying wildly in the strong wind stirred by the deep blue youki, before the light grew to blinding intensity, obscuring everything from sight, and there was an audible snap of a portal closing. Yuusuke's youki disappeared from Kurama's senses, and the light faded away, revealing the empty, lonely expanse of the rain-soaked cemetery.

Kurama closed his eyes, a silent sigh escaping from between his lips. "Good luck, Yuusuke-sama."

Several moments passed in silence before Kurama was startled into movement by a muted beeping from the pocket of his jacket. A resigned look upon his face, he pulled out the small, compact mirror used for communicating with Reikai and opened it, revealing the blue-violet face of one of Koenma's new oni secretaries.

"Kurama? Are you there?"

"I'm here."

"Koenma wants you. There's been an unauthorized portal opened in Ningenkai, and you're to investigate."

Kurama's eyes slid of their own volition toward the area of ground that had until recently held the Toushin. "That shouldn't be a problem."

"Good. Get back here as soon as you find anything." The image fizzled out.

Kurama frowned at the small compact before closing it and returning it to his pocket. "Reikai support staff has definitely gone downhill recently . . . May Enma have mercy on their souls if they give Hiei a call like that."

He pushed back the thick curtain of his red hair, sighing once more tiredly.

His eyes fell upon the more recent of the two graves.

Almost without conscious thought, he knelt once more on the grass before the grave, reaching out with one hand toward the marker.

Pale fingers brushed lightly over the engraved name, and a small smile of fond remembrance appeared briefly upon the kitsune's lips. "It has been a while, Keiko-chan. I apologize for not visiting sooner."

Kurama's eyes went once more to the area where he had last seen Yuusuke. "Watch over him, will you, Keiko-chan? Inari knows, if one of us doesn't do it, who will?"

With something akin to regret shining in his eyes, Kurama slowly rose to his feet, drawing his jacket closer around himself, and walked away.

Soon, all that remained beneath the glimmering, rain-laden branches of the tree was a delicate, yellow and white rose, lying atop a lonely granite marker that was the only physical remnant of a love that was lost all too soon . . .

- : - : - Owari - : - : -

A/N: *winces* Was that overly-dramatic at the end? I thought it was, but I couldn't find any other way to end it that sounded good . . .

Tell me what you think, please.