Wow…my first YYH fanfiction. Whee! First, off, I'd like to thank Jesscheaux Kuwabara for beta-reading this. Thank you! You're the greatest! And any readers: please review! I live off of reviews!

Secondly, this is a Kuwabara-centric fanfiction. If this is not your cup of tea, then please don't read it. I really like ALL of the Spirit Detectives, and I don't play favorites. I like Kazuma because he's sweet, and he makes me laugh when he acts all silly-like. I'm a klutz, too; I can relate.

This recounts what could be termed an AU history of Kazuma's family. It's the story of the last two generations of the Kuwabara family, as seen through the eyes of Kazuma's mother (OC).

I don't own Yu Yu Hakusho. But you knew that already. The only things I do own are the two OCs that you will soon meet…

If you insist on flaming me, please be warned: your flames will be used to toast s'mores.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Enjoy.


Yume Kuwabara frowned as she stretched down, over a cloud. Heaven was a lovely place, but it still offered no reassurance as to the security of one's children. She spent so much time worrying over Shizuru and Kazuma that some of the other Kuwabara ancestors (and herself, included) wondered if she could ever relax and enjoy Heaven, until her children died.

It was a solid, undeniable fact that Yume Kuwabara and her husband Koushiro were devoted to their two children, who were as opposite as day and night. In life, those children had been their hope for the future.

Koushiro had been the last of the Kuwabara clan when Yume met him. An ancient family, descended from samurai and spiritualists, proud of their strange spiritual powers. As time went on, public opinion slowly ebbed against the family; the same powers that their neighbors had once revered now made them objects of scorn and enmity. Now, all the once-powerful clan had left were their strange powers, noble bloodline, and their ancient name.

Yume didn't know the extent of her own powers—by now, she figured she would never know. But Koushiro's innate power had drawn her like a moth to a flame. He had not been handsome, nor ugly…simply slightly nondescript. Koushiro had been a tall, quiet young man, with high cheekbones and piercing black eyes. Who could have guessed the incredible powers that lay within?

Not only that, but his mind…He was brilliant, but a hopeless romantic, and a dreamer. His gallant declarations made Yume flush almost as red as her hair. He had claimed once to her that members of his family knew they'd found their soul mates when a red string appeared to them, leading to their love: and the red string had led him straight to her heart. His chivalric nature won her heart soon enough. Koushiro had such dreams for the future—such passionate fervor—that she found herself swept along, caught in his enthusiasm. Koushiro desperately wanted to rise above the poverty they'd fallen into. He saw something better for his children than he'd ever had: education, a good home, never having to do without.

Yume had only begun to understand how wonderful the man she'd married was. Perhaps it was fully cemented once Shizuru was born. He had been ecstatic to be a father, and was soon wrapped firmly around his daughter's tiny finger. He was so loving and gentle, but even more so once the baby arrived.

The child showed amazing potential, even while still a tiny toddler. She could pick up on ghosts almost as fast as the fully trained Koushiro, and displayed a strong pre-cognitive ability. "It's fantastic!" he had cried, locks of cinnamon hair hanging in his face. "She has the potential to surpass even me!"

Yume had been wary at first of her talented daughter. Koushiro had similar powers, to be sure, but he had been trained and disciplined by his father and grandmother, while Shizuru's power ran untamed. "Don't worry, love," he murmured one night, gently holding her close. "I'll train her. Don't worry."

But she couldn't help worrying. He had told her little of his childhood, but Yume was sure that teasing from neighbor children had accompanied every small use of his power. Could the same thing happen to her child?

Should she let Koushiro train Shizuru? Would it keep her powers under control, or would it set her up for future heartbreak? Questions she couldn't answer plagued her, kept her up at night at times.

Years passed slowly, transforming her daughter from an ESP-gifted baby to a spunky six-year-old, ready to start school, with her father's cinnamon hair, her mother's hazel eyes, and an unyielding will all of her own. If she was to decide that her daughter's training should not commence, Yume realized, she needed to inform her husband before Shizuru began school. But then something happened, and thoughts of training were put out of her mind.

She got pregnant. They had been planning to have another child, of course, but the idea had somehow been put aside, like an unused trinket on a high shelf. This second child was a paradox: an 'accident' in the view of most adults, but truly wanted and needed by its parents.

Yume would always wonder if this was her child's fate: accidental, second-rate, never quite measuring up to the standards of others. Nevertheless, she felt a strong bond with this child, because she, too, had been unplanned. No matter what, she vowed, she would love this child, care for it despite any flaws, see it for the human it was.

Then, Kazuma was born. Yume had named her daughter, giving her what she felt a practical, sensible name, but Koushiro decided to give his son one of the more traditional, poetic names of his clan.

But, she reflected glumly, not all the beautiful names in the worlds could mitigate circumstances, or change what seemed to be Nature's will. Her son turned out to be, more or less, the complete opposite of his sister.

She could see parts of herself and Koushiro in the boy: his father's high cheekbones and piercing ebony eyes, and her own coppery curls. He had inherited the trademark Kuwabara stubbornness, along with the family's spiritual powers, although to apparently a lesser degree than Shizuru.

He reminded her more of Koushiro, for her son displayed a sensitive, romantic nature, given to adventurous daydreams. Yume wondered what other traits he might possess; perhaps he might follow his sister in her prodigious strength and sharp wit. Only time would tell.

Kazuma grew up awkward: very tall for his age, and gangly, with a clumsiness that did not seem to spring from a lack of coordination. Even from a child, his face was far from comely, with his long, narrow eyes, and bony face. He lacked his sister's quick intelligence, or her forcefulness. The younger Kuwabara child was ridiculed.

She could never understand if he was ashamed into acting foolish, as a result of attempting to trail in Shizuru's shadow, for the boy could read simple sentences at age three, and was reading actual children's books by four. He is smart, she realized, not the intelligence that marks the most 'gifted' of his peers, but the boy is smart.

Koushiro was her son's hero; it was he who instilled a sense of pride into Kazuma. "You are one of the Kuwabara clan," her husband had told him, "a family marked not for high birth, or for wealth, but for the moral strength, and the compassion for one's fellow man that so many lacked. Never forget that. Your ancestors were righteous people, and you are born of their stock."

Kazuma learned moral values from his father: in all that you do, act like a man. Treat others equally. Never hit a woman in anger. Never lie, nor cheat, nor steal. If events come to fighting, fight nobly, and never strike from the behind.

And yet Yume still worried. Shizuru was no problem; the girl had demonstrated that she could look after herself, and could hold her own in any situation. But Kazuma, with his sensitive nature, and big heart, with the family honor code as his only inheritance…how could he hold his own in this world that they lived in, in this slum? If she and the others were not there to look after him, he would be ripped apart.

At age ten, Kazuma was fully as tall as a sixth grader, with some harder muscle from sparring matches with his father. Physically he looked able to take on the world, but Yume knew better: his gentle, loving heart would be torn by the cruel world outside.

She knew nothing of how his days at school passed, or the hour or so he was allowed to play in the city outside. He was a borderline 'B' student, frequently crossing the line between 'C' and 'B,' although Yume was sure he tried his hardest to keep up. If there was one thing that irked Kazuma, she was sure, it was being left behind, or missing out on information that was common knowledge to others.

Her mothering worries aside, her children were two wonderful individuals, strong physically, morally, and spiritually. There were great plans for their future, to help them succeed and climb out of the world they lived in.

Plans for the future don't involve car accidents on rainy nights.

Yume could recall with astonishing vividness that night: Shizuru left in charge for babysitting, kissing her son on the forehead and telling him to obey his sister, worrying if they'd burn the house down, and then bright lights shining in the windshield, accompanied by a frenzied honking…

She had awoken, floating in mid-air, over the wrecked remains of a smashed automobile. Koushiro hovered by her side, looking grim. Yume hadn't been able to piece things together until Koushiro gently explained what happened.

Dead? They couldn't be dead… As if by divine intervention, a somber-looking dark young woman in a black kimono appeared, riding a floating oar.

Yume was nearly sure she was hallucinating, or on drugs somehow. This whole thing had to be a joke.

The young woman introduced herself as Ayame, stating that she was a guide to the realm of the dead. Yume realized that the supernatural activity that Koushiro's family was involved with must have included this, for he looked…almost expectant, with a strange air of doomed certainty. Yume's request to see her children was granted, and they were soon voyaging through the air towards the city.

They arrived in time to see the ever-impassive Shizuru collapse against the doorframe in tears, and Kazuma's face to grow stony, his eyes become older. It's a horrible thing; to be orphaned at eleven, your sister only a month away from turning eighteen.

Yume chose not to think about the crossing to the Reikai, the two of them being sent to Heaven. It only meant that she was not with her children, not there to take care of them.

And so, Yume Kuwabara became a heavenly voyeur, worrying over her children from afar. She felt she had a right to.

Her children were briefly dumped into foster care, before Shizuru turned legal and applied for guardianship of Kazuma. Any dreams for college for Shizuru were shattered; the girl worked as a hairdresser in a beauty salon to provide for the two of them. Shizuru became colder than she ever had been, freezing out everyone but her younger brother, whom she attempted to raise and care for her in her own rough way.

Kazuma…

The boy fell into a downward spiral. His grades dropped and he took to wandering the streets with several of his friends. Yume had watched, horrified, as he was introduced to the bloody, brutal world of street fighting.

Her son had two outlets for his pain, his grief, and his frustration: fighting, and his kitten. The cat had been found under a dumpster, and her son, delighting in something more fragile than himself to watch over, brought it home and christened it 'Eikichi.' His love for animals gave him a being that cared unconditionally for him.

Fighting became his only way of self-expression, all others being denied. He was reasonably good at it, too, his samurai blood showing clearly. Fighting one boy, a 'Yusuke,' became his obsession.

As Yume watched the two boys interact, something slowly became clear. Her son's popularity (which had never been high to begin with) had fallen to where he was a school-wide mockery, a target for derision. This 'Yusuke' seemed to symbolize everything that oppressed and mocked Kazuma; if he could only defeat it, he perhaps could begin to salvage his broken self-image.

But wasn't that a paradox, too? Yume wondered. Koushiro's lessons, and the family lineage he was descended from, were Kazuma's lifeline. In the face of all odds, he clung to those beliefs, transforming into a modern-day Arthurian street-punk knight. He fashioned a pride from these beliefs, believing in the power of his own pure heart.

It was when Yusuke died, and was reanimated, that Yume really began to worry. Kazuma was pulled into the supernatural world like Alice into Wonderland. He and Shizuru had never been trained in how to use their powers, and Yume cursed herself from her hindrance.

Neither parent could be prouder once Kazuma learned to harness his reiki.

But Yume still worried—for her son's mind. He had found friends, yes, but she wasn't so sure that these friends were the best for him. While Yusuke seemed to be very good friends with Kazuma, Yume worried about the others in their clique.

She couldn't make heads or tails of Kurama, although she supposed he meant well enough. Hiei…she fumed at his insults and cruelties, scolding Kazuma for stooping to fight back. She had told him a thousand times over that if one stoops to retribution for an insult, it places one even lower than the insulter.

Kazuma was belittled and mocked at every turn. Yume, Koushiro, and the kitten were the only witnesses to the times he sat up at night, brooding. He would ponder the cruel hand Fate had dealt him, and once wondered if he would be better off dead.

Yume had sent a psychic negative so loud, both he and Shizuru were up all night with a psychic headache.

It was times like this, watching over her son as he slept, that made Yume question the kindness of life. Kazuma had been up all night, struggling over a lesson, then brooding over a particularly vicious insult from his teammate Hiei.

Yume wished she were still alive, that she were privy to the insidious thoughts swirling inside his mind, the ones he kept locked away from everyone else. She wished that she could explain his worth to him.

"Kazuma. Look at how far you've come! You've never known training for your powers, and look what you taught yourself to do! You were a horrible student, but you've started to apply yourself!

"Look inside your heart. Your humanity is your strongest asset. Your compassion. Your honor. Your unrelenting will. Those are your greatest strengths.

"I could tell you a sappy speech of how looks and strength don't matter, and how inner strength is what truly matters. But I don't have to. Look at yourself, Kazuma. You've succeeded."

…You've never done anything according to plan; but believe me, Kazuma, you've succeeded.