The room is dark and silent, not even a breeze to move the red curtains drawn over a falling-apart stage. Then, loud knocks can be heard from behind the double doors that lead inside, making the crouching girl gasp and run through a hidden trap-door. The knocks turn to banging and furious shouts fill the air until the doors are broken down and a pack or berserk readers come running in.

"DAMN YOU, D.D.! YOUR HEAD IS OURS!" They shout, only then noticing a small piece of paper glued on the curtains. The leader, Zoe, grasps it and starts to read in an angry tone:

Dear Readers:

Hello! Quite some time, ne? Not to worry, though! I present you with 'Rhythm's new chapter, full of drama, humor and LUV-LUV situations! However, I must remind you it won't be smart to hurt this poor authoress, for how shall she continue the fic if she's dead?

Love ya all!

Naty-chan

Zoe crushes the note in her hands, screaming in bloody rage: "I SHALL TORTURE YOU ON MSN, YOU LAZY RETARDED!"

Disclaimer: Dancing Doll, AKA Natalia G. Ritzmann, doesn't has the rights of her own life, let alone YYH.

Rhythm

By Dancing Doll

Life's a really cruel thing. When you have the time to try and fix broken hearts, there are none to be fixed. But when you don't have the time because of your incredibly hard, demanding, stressing and future-deciding final exam in the form of a presentation at the end of the year, Fate just decides to rip all hearts apart.

Adagio: Things

I sighed and went back to the starting point of the choreography. 'Malicious Psyche' really was a hard act, although Maya had been right when she said that I could portray very well the pain of the character.

"Still...Things have turned out in a way I'd never expect..." I spoke to no in particular. Somehow, I ended up being paired up with Maya's...How shall I put it...Exotic cousin, Karasu and even received some tips from CAA's greatest ballerina herself.

It's hard to admit, since Maya's one of the main reasons why everyone was miserable, but I would pretty much be lost if she hadn't helped me. Of course she's not a friend or colleague, but I don't see her as humanity's greatest nemesis anymore.

She's one of a kind, that demon.

Then again, maybe she just handed me this part because she knew how hard it was, and seeing me fail would just complete her evil, life-destroying revenge.

"Training already, Snow Princess?"

I cringed at the nickname Karasu had given me, filling with disgust as he entered the training room. Soooo creepy!

"I was doing the solo." I said while he warmed himself up.

"You should watch those pirouettes. You tend to lose the timing after you're done."

Ah, my old demons...

"I know...I'm working on it." I mumbled, wiping the sweat from my forehead. Karasu gave me a sly smile.

"Perhaps you'd like me to help you with your rhythm, but I fear I'd spoil all the memories..."

"You most certainly will." I replied bitterly, not even daring to imagine that boy on Kurama's place.

"Yes, yes...The beauty of a crow and the beauty of a rose can never be compared..." He said, tying his hair back. I felt myself turn blue.

"Whatever you say."

I guess it makes one wonder how can I put up with such a person and have the courage to dance with him, but I've got to say that Karasu, as a dancer, is very serious and devoted. I also see that in Maya, now that I think of it.

Flashback

The sun was setting by the time my training with Karasu ended. He left pretty quickly, but Maya lingered there as if waiting for me.

As if...

I looked at her profile as she stared out the wall-window, lost in thought, and the words blurted out before I could stop them.

"Why did you give me this ballet?"

"I said the reason back then. Have you forgotten, already?" She said, unmoving and unshaken.

"I mean the real reason!" I insisted, knowing full-well that this particular ballet was her favorite.

"That's a real reason..." She shrugged, "You want to hear the other reason, though."

I nodded. Maya walked to the window and sat before it, gazing at the people below. "I think you can fix things with this act."

"Fix?" I asked, sitting by her side. Maya nodded and a nostalgic smile spread on her face.

"You see, Kurama is a very complicate person. He has a very strong sense of honor and loyalty, much like the rest of the boys." She paused, seeing my stunned expression. "We were friends before Kurama and I broke up, y'know. No reason to get all shocked."

"Sorry."

She shook her head and went on, "Anyway, this trait of him is very good, since it shows integrity, but it doesn't allow people to do what's natural in a human's nature."

"Which is?" I asked, wondering if, by some twist of Fate, I was bonding with Maya.

"Make mistakes." She sighed. "It's not like I expected to be forgiven after what I did to him, but at least I wanted a chance to apologize." Maya told me, a sad look on her face. "But he only pushed me away, he never wanted to listen...Well, I can't say he's to blame, because I'd get so desperate I'd do all kinds of stupid things..."

"Like threatening new students?"

Maya chuckled, "Yeah...Sorry about that, by the way...Anyway, after you locked me in that tower I had to spend an entire night with my ghosts...And, I don't know why, but I decided to let go of this stupid obsession. And the reason I told him about the air-vent thing-"She spoke, reading my thoughts, "Is that he, at some point, will have to learn people are allowed to do stupid things and that he can't always lock himself away from them."

"And is that what am I supposed to fix?" I asked, shocked. That's kind of asking too much, Miss Maya.

"Maybe. I hope that when he sees how sad you are, he'll listen to you."

"But...Didn't you dance this same act after you two broke up? Weren't you sad then? What makes you think he'll listen to me if he hasn't listened to you?" I inquired her. Maya looked at me sternly and answered in a very quiet voice.

"Because, unlike me, you're not used to run after your goals. Your eyes are the ones of a person who has been trampled over time after time and was okay with it. They were different the night you locked me up, but that night you weren't thinking only about yourself. You had the other girls to worry about. When you go up the stage at the end of the year, you'll be after the one you love, not Keiko's, Botan's or the other girl's crushes. Kurama will see how you changed because of him, and hopefully..." She stopped, not sure if she should continue.

I could only stare at her as she stood, stretching. "By the way, a character does change from person to person...For instance, this isn't the act where she kills herself, so it won't matter if you change it so that she doesn't give up on him..."

End Flashback

I had been shocked, back then. In a way Maya had called me a push-around, but I can't deny this is true. I had always given up too easily, too quickly...If someone didn't pull me by the hand, I would never advance. I'm pretty sure that I'd have considered quitting CAA at the beginning of the year if Kurama hadn't helped me with those training sessions...Also, if Maya hadn't scolded me that day at the tower, who knows what might have happened...

After the day she told me that, Maya never appeared to our training again. I understood the responsibility of being trusted someone's love and devotion. I doubt Kurama has the slightest idea of how high Maya esteems him and how she wants him to grow. I also got what she meant with her last words before leaving and it only adds more reasons for me not to get back. Maya is the last person who had to pick me up when I fall, because it's about time I mature.

The things we grow...

r.h.y.t.h.m

Such a heavy atmosphere...I, Kazuma Kuwabara, never thought I'd live to see the day when Shrimp didn't annoyed the Hell out of me, Yusuke restrained from fooling around and Kurama sang without a drop of emotion on his voice during rehearsal.

It's bad, really, since time isn't about to stop so we can recover and the end of the year only tends to get closer and closer...

Hey, that rhymed!

AH! NONONO! HERE I WAS, IN THE MIDDLE OF A SERIOUS AND PENSIVE MOMENT, AND THIS RANDOM CONCLUSION CROSSES MY MIND! IT SOOO BREAKS THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE SITUATION! KAZUMA KUWABARA, THE WORLD KNOWS YOU HAVE THE SOUL OF A POET, BUT YOU MUST RESTRAIN FROM RE-ASSURING YOURSELF THAT! OH, IT'S SO HARD TO BE PERFECT!

Let me clear my throat, now...

Aham...

So! It appears that despite the month that has passed, they can't let go of the bitterness filling them. In a way this is good, for it means they haven't forgotten the girls and that they do care! However, it's also bad because, well, they're bitter! Besides, according to my beloved poppy, it appears the girls are so down it's pitiful to watch, so it isn't like they're going to do something about it anytime soon!

Ooooooooooooh, we must put plan Cupid-I into action as soon as possible! But poppy said we should first probe what both sides think and intend to do about the entire situation so that we, Paladins of True Love and Forgiveness, can trace a precise course of action so that we don't sink their relationships as quickly as Titanic!

However, this situation I find myself in is far too stressful! My comrades look about to snap, and although I'm used to Yusuke's 24/7 punching habit and Shrimp's strikes that happen from time to time, making it easy to predict they'll come, I don't like the idea of being hit by broken-hearted men at all! Kurama's also a force to be feared, since he's just as strong as the first two, and he never had to hit me, so I won't know from where it'll come! Not to mention he's so much brighter he might just develop a strategy of DOOM and I'll perish under his-

"Kuwabara-kun?" Kurama's voice entered my ears and I lost it.

"WAH! FORGIVE ME, KURAMA-SAMA! PLEASE, DO NOT USE YOUR STRATEGY OF DOOM! DUN DUN DUN!" I shouted when I felt a hand land on my shoulder and, sure enough, it belonged to Kurama.

However, he didn't have a dangerous look on his face. Actually, his eyes were wide and a sweat-drop could be seen on his head. Then, the so intelligent reply...

"Eh?"

"I-I mean...!" I stuttered, "What is it?"

Kurama looked at me as if I had grown another head for a moment before saying, very slowly "I was wondering for how long you would sit and stare at nowhere now that practice is over."

Startled, I looked around at the empty room. Hiei and Yusuke had left without me even noticing! "You trained without me!"

"Actually, we didn't train at all..." Kurama sighed, "We weren't able to come up with anything for the song."

"Oh..." I replied, looking at the sticks on my hands. "Hey, Kurama..." I started, remembering Hinageshi's advice to remain subtle, "How are you feeling about this whole stuff?"

Oh, she would be so proud if she saw me now! Kurama didn't even look surprised! He was silent and pensive, much like I had been before. Well, it's no wonder, since great minds think alike.

"Strange." He finally said, sitting down. "One would think I'd be feeling betrayed, and I am, but most of me feels..." He paused, searching for words.

I could only stare as the unbelievable happened. Kurama, so smart and understandable, was at a loss of words. I'd never think I'd see him like this, unable to grasp what was going on inside his very own being. Twirling one stick around my finger, I offered without looking at him:

"Lost?"

He didn't reply, mulling my suggestion over and over again. "Yes...Lost...I don't know why, though..."

"Maybe...Maybe it's because..." I paused, knowing exactly what I should say. Funny how it's so clear to me and so out of reach for the three of them, though.

Kurama was looking at me now, and I could see in his eyes he knew I had the answer. Since he's such a good friend to me, I guess it would be only natural for me to tell him, offer him an advice.

But, thinking very deeply about the matter, do we ever listen to the advices our grandparents, who lived much more than us, give? Don't we, most of times, do our own thing and learn Life's lessons through pain or happiness?

I like to help my friends. Really, I do. But in this case, I'd be just like a grandfather telling him what he should do. Kurama would just throw my advice away and sink even deeper on this hole, thinking I didn't understand how he felt. The same goes for Yusuke and Hiei.

I guess sometimes we have to let people learn some answers out of their own choices, no matter how painful it's to just stand back and watch. That's why I only sighed and smiled fondly at him.

"Kurama...You're the smartest person I ever met, buddy. If I can figure out the answer to your problem, you can do so as well. Much quicker than me, by the way. Just be honest with your feelings."

The things we silence...

r.h.y.t.h.m

I could see my reflection from where I laid on my bed, wondering how such a quick event could put an end to my strengths like that. My brown hair was all over the place and my hands felt so heavy I couldn't draw a single thing. It had been so fast, the way all was over...

He had stormed inside mine and Botan's dorm, startling me as I was doing my homework. I had been mad at the interruption, and even more so when he made me that apparently dumb question of what I would do if he ever read my diary. I was surprised at how his eyes were fueled by anger when I answered him that I would beat the living daylights out of him and how he hissed that reply that only confused me more.

"Then you be glad I'd never hit a girl, Yukimura, or you would be through right now."

Oh, how angry I was...This crazy delinquent comes in my dorm, stopping me in the middle of some important, and makes a dumb question and then says an even dumber reply. I shouted at him, wanting to know what that was all about.

"You're always so righteous, aren't you? Never giving one step out of the line! No, not Keiko Yukimura! She always tells the truth, she has integrity! In fact, she's so much greater than everyone else she can punish anyone who screws up around her! More than that, she can crawl around air-vents and hear people talking and still you can't say anything!"

The next thing I knew, he had turned and left, slamming the door shut behind him. Only at that moment I understood what had happened. Only then did I realize I had probably said the last words he would ever care to listen. No...I doubt he cared at that moment. What I had done was low and disgusting to him. I proved his trust on me wrong. Why should he care about what I had to say?

"Keiko Yukimura, the owner of the truth..." I whispered. Oh, yes...What an owner...A hypocrite, that's what I am. How many times have I preached about privacy to those around me? And what did I do back then? Like a coward, I chose to do a dangerous thing instead of directly asking Yusuke how he felt.

At least this time I won't have to worry. I know exactly how he feels.

"I'm so pathetic..." I cried quietly, unaware of the weight that sat by my side.

"Keiko?"

I sniffed, looking up at Botan's sleepy face. She had been looking worn-out for quite some time now, and I felt guilty for waking her up. "S-sorry, Botan. I'll just go back to slee-"

Botan sighed, laying by my side and holding me like a mother. "Keiko, let it all out."

I felt my lips tremble and my eyes watering up. It was like something growing from within my chest was making its way out by clawing and biting my soul and, before I knew it, I was sobbing uncontrollably and crying myself out as Botan just held me there.

"I-I fe-el alo-ne!" I cried, shaking. Botan only patted my head.

"I know, I know..."

I can't say for how long this went on...It could have been five minutes or two hours, but I can say she never let go as I told what had happened and how I felt about the entire thing. Botan listened patiently, not once interrupting me, and didn't even complain when I sneezed on her pajama's shirt, which was really nice of her, since she's a clean freak.

I probably shouldn't have done so, though.

Then, when I had calmed down, Botan sat again and smiled at me. "Better?"

"Yeah." I said, wiping a tear from my eyes.

"So, what's next?" She asked, staring at me.

I felt confused, wondering what she meant by that. Botan noticed that, for she re-phrased her question.

"What do you plan to do about it, Keiko?"

I sighed, looking down at my lap. "Nothing...It's all lost now..."

"So, you will just give up? Aren't you ashamed of yourself?" She asked coldly.

If she had slapped me, I'd be just as shocked.

"Excuse me!"

"I don't." Botan said, standing up and looking at me. "Hinageshi already made up with Kuwabara, although I don't think they really count. Yukina was the first one to take the blow, and due to her nature she would be the one more inclined to give up. Yet, she's doing her best to fix things her own way. I've been threatened by Hiei, something you were not, and his fury is ten times worse than Yusuke's and you know that." She said acidly, "But I haven't given up, and I'll be damned if I let you drown in self-pity."

I gaped at her, shot down cold by her words. "You...You don't know what I'm going through!"

"Yes, I do!" Botan shouted, "I do because I'm going through it as well! But crying isn't going to solve anything, and you're smart enough to figure that out, Keiko! You're not this girl! You're a girl who doesn't give up, who fights to the end! You made a mistake, and you won't do it again! You've got to fight!"

"He won't listen!" I snapped right back at her, "He just won't listen!"

"HAVE YOU TRIED SPEAKING?" Botan screamed, making me immediately shut up. "NO! IT'S OKAY TO CRY, KEIKO, AND IT'S OKAY TO FEEL TORN! BUT IT'S NOT OKAY TO LET SADNESS STOP YOU FROM TRYING TO GET HIM BACK! IF IT DOESN'T WORK OUT, YOU'LL HAVE TO MOVE ON, BUT YOU WON'T KNOW THE RESULT UNTIL YOU TRY!"

I could only stare as Botan finished her speech, her shoulders and chest rising and falling rapidly as she fought to regain control of her breathing. "More than angry, they're sad, too." She added, tears forming on the corner of her eyes "Is your love so weak you're willing to forget it at the first crisis you come upon?"

I didn't answer, looking at my hands. How! How could I fix it!

"You know, Keiko, sometimes we have to choose between the easy path and the hard one." Botan told me tiredly, "Right now, though, the easy one will only bring you sadness and pain."

"And the hard one?" I asked, voice void of emotion.

She shrugged, "I don't know. It changes from person to person."

I kept my silence and Botan went back to her bed, laying down so that her back was turned to me. Closing my hands into fists, I nodded in resolution.

"I guess I'll take the hard one, then. There's a chance of success, right?"

Botan raised a hand and made me a peace sign. "Yep."

I smiled, adjusting my pillow. "Night."

"Night."

I looked at my reflection again, and something in my eyes made me smile.

The things we choose...

r.h.y.t.h.m

The day after my scolding, Keiko was back in the game! I can't say I didn't feel proud of myself, but I do feel kind of bad for saying that about Yukina...Then again, she surprised us all with her reaction and if it hadn't been for her and Koenma I still would be scared to death of Hiei.

Nonono! I'm about to do my try-out for my class's play! I can't think about it now! I have to focus on the main character's feelings if I want to play it! YES! Shake these thoughts away from your head for now, Botan!

"-an-san? Botan-san?"

"Eh?" I gasped, looking at Ayame's (a classmate of mine) face. "Yeah?"

"It's your turn."

"Oh, right!" I said, getting up. Taking a deep breath, I entered the stage and quickly scanned the empty seats before it. On the first rows were sitting our teachers, but I didn't see any unfamiliar face (which is odd, since this face would belong to the writer of the play). Then, I noticed the girls sitting on a few rows behind, all of them encouraging me with signs. Also, Koenma was leaning against the theater's door, giving me a thumbs-up.

I smiled as I greeted the teachers. With their support, there's no way I can fail!

'Right, Koenma?' I caught myself thinking, and the memories that came with it made me smile.

Flashback

"Wanna talk about it?"

I didn't look up, ashamed that Koenma had seen such a scene. I heard him sigh before I felt his hand on my shoulder. "It will help. You don't need to give me the details. It's no use holding back the tears, too."

I started to cry, doing my best to tell Koenma what had happened, without telling him at all. "E-everything was doing so well! I finally heard him say nice things to me, but then that witch had to go and tell him that! And now...Now he hates me!" I sobbed out. He only scratched the back of his head.

"Let's see if I get it...Your, you and Hiei's, relationship was doing fine and he was being...Loving?" He tried. I nodded.

"Wow...Who knew that guy had a heart..." He mumbled before continuing, "Anyway, some mean girl told him a lie that made him that mad at you and – No?" Koenma paused when I started to shake my head.

"She told him something...Something some people and I did and that was really insensitive...And it involved him and...Well, he found out..." I explained, shoulders shaking. Koenma remained silent for a while before sitting by my side.

"Then she told him the truth and you're guilty, although you meant no harm."

I lowered my face so that my hair covered it. I'm even more ashamed now...Too bad that made me miss the way Koenma's eyes narrowed at my reaction and, before I knew it, he had grabbed me by the shoulders and lightly shook me.

"Hey!" He said fiercely, "You listen, now! We've been friends since you entered CAA and I'm not about to see you being threatened and do nothing!"

"Ko-Koenma!" I gasped. Could it be that he would stand up for me! He nodded and went on, his eyes glowing with strength and courag-

"As it is, Hiei would probably beat the crap out of me if I tried anything, so I'll only encourage you!"

The lousy coward...

"Why, you-!"

"NO! Let me finish! I feel inspired!" He said, fisting his hand. "If you were able to make the Son of Satan love you, this means his dark powers are now of no use against you!" He shouted, a wall of fire glowing behind him. I must say, I got pretty freaked out.

"Huh, Koenma..."

"YES! NOW HE WANTS YOU TO BE SO SCARED SO THAT YOU, BOTAN, ARE NOT ABLE TO STAND FIFTY FEET CLOSE TO HIM! THAT WAY, HE'LL NEVER BE CONFRONTED BY YOU!"

"Eh?" I replied, gasping when Koenma pulled me up.

"THAT'S RIGHT! YOU MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO MAKE HIM TRUST YOU LIKE HE DID BEFORE, BUT YOU CANNOT LET HIM STEP OVER YOU LIKE THAT! FIGHT FOR HIM! WILL YOU FIGHT FOR HIM!"

"Y-YES!" I shouted, considering the distance between me and that insane dude too short for comfort.

"Good! Now, go and make a strategy!" He added, pointing to the sky.

"Y-Yes! Right away!" I bowed before breaking on a mad run. "Scaaaaaaaaaaaaary!"

End Flashback

Only later I understood the reason of Koenma's insanity. He was only pretending to be like that to get me so scared I'd forget about the fear Hiei's threat placed upon me. It worked pretty well, because his words did have a meaning...

Hiei, as hurt as he may be, has no right to threaten me! He has no right to just assume I'm a girl who plays with people's feelings just to get a kick out of it! He has no right to do so until he listens to me and my reasons! If he thinks I'm about to get all 'Ooooh-Hiei-is-close-better-run!', he's got another thing coming!

Because, even if it means going against the Son of Satan, I won't let go of my feelings for him until I've cleaned this mess up! He may not return them in the end, and the same goes for the rest of the guys, but they will listen! THE POWER OF IN-LOVE GIRLS IS STRONGER THAN ANY BITTERNESS!

"You watch, Hiei..." I mumbled, preparing to start my try-out, "Even if I have to turn into the Daughter of Satan, I'll have you listen..."

That's all we can do, after all...And if I know my friends, no one is falling behind on this.

Right, Keiko?

The things we fight for...

r.h.y.t.h.m

I frowned, throwing myself on my bed, and wondered what the hell was going on inside me. I wasn't supposed to feel this guilty for saying those things to her. It wasn't like I had really meant to destroy her life (Yukina would never speak to me again), but I'll admit I wanted to see her scared and regretful of toying with me.

However, not only Botan recovered from her fear rather quickly (one day...Have my skills became rusty?), but I actually felt bad the moment I got to my dorm. That day I assumed it was her fault and that feeling was the result of being betrayed.

Fine, I know what you're thinking..."What a chicken! She just saw you naked and heard you liked her! So what!"...But what if we had been talking about deeper secrets? What if the talk had nothing to do with them at all? It's not the action per say, but rather what it implies.

"Damn..." I cursed, getting up and heading for Yukina's dorm. Kurama was...Somewhere I don't know and I'm not having any kind of deep, bonding talk with Oaf. Yusuke's just too dense to have any, so...

I was about to knock when I heard muffled laughter and goodbyes being exchanged when the door opened and I felt like I had just swallowed a bucket of ice. Yukina was having a reaction among the same lines if the way her eyes were jumping from me to Botan were any clue.

"What are you doing here?" I growled, eyes hardening. To my surprise (and discomfort) Botan only raised an eyebrow.

"The same thing you are. I came to talk to Yukina."

"You stay away-"

"That's for her to decide!" Botan interrupted me, "You don't have the right to choose her friends!"

"What a bunch of friends!" I sneered, making both girls frown.

"Don't talk about them in that tone." Yukina reprimanded me, voice cutting, and my eyes widened.

"What!"

"You heard her." Botan cut in, "Now, if Yukina will excuse me, I have a class to attend."

And then she walked past me without a second glance, as if the fact I could very well beat the blue out of her hair didn't matter at all! I stood glued on my spot, trying to understand what the hell had just happened when Yukina put a hand on my shoulder.

"Hiei? Hiei!" She called, shaking me lightly. I snapped out of my stupor and glared at her.

"What was that about?"

Yukina raised an eyebrow, "About you saying what you wanted and hearing what you didn't want." She explained calmly, stepping aside to let me in. I was in such a shocked state I didn't even reply. "What is it?"

I sat on her bed and she placed herself by my side, waiting. "I'm sorry."

Yukina looked at me with interest, "For...?"

"Implying things about them."

She sighed, leaning her head on my shoulder, "If you're feeling this bad-"

"I'm not."

"-Then maybe you should try and listen."

"Why! To hear more lies!" I snapped. Yukina squeezed my hand and I lowered my tone a bit, "What could she possibly have to say?"

"We have a lot to say, Hiei." She whispered, "All four of us. You forgave me without even wanting to know why I did it! Is it that hard to at least hear her reasons?"

"You're my sister. I love you."

Yukina looked at me fondly, "I know, but even brothers and sisters are allowed to get mad at each other. Everyone has the right to feel mad, betrayed, lost, sad...But it's no use to just go deepening the hole until you hit the bottom!" She told me before a frown appeared on her face, "What you can't do is go around frightening people-"

"She told you?"

"- I'm not dumb and I know you. One plus one is two, after all. – And mistreating them for something they did wrong without hearing their side of the story."

"Oh, but it's all right for her to take that tone on m-"

"You gave her room to!" Yukina interrupted me, "You gave her room to say exactly what she said and much more! Just like she gave you room to feel mad at her! You forgave me because of your brotherly love, but you just push the love you have for her to the back of your mind so that you can feel miserable and angry! What for!" She shouted.

"What will this bring you, Hiei? This behavior? Will it make you forget her faster? If anything, her face's gonna linger on your mind forever and it'll appear every time you get interested in a girl! It's just gonna get you away from people, thinking you can't trust anyone!"

"I can trust you." I mumbled. Yukina sighed.

"You can, brother, you can...But eventually this will affect us, too." She whispered, hugging me, "I know how mad you all are at us...How hurt and hopeless we have left you...I can't offer you any reasons, because you're not the one I have to explain myself to...But please, please don't act like this! Don't be that person again!" She sobbed and I immediately regretted my childish antics when I felt a wetness hit my shoulder.

"Man, no matter how much you grow, you always cry!" I complained fondly to Yukina, putting my arms around her. "Just don't sneeze on me!"

She laughed a little and we stayed like that until Hinageshi came in, some good three hours later. "Yukina, dinner's about-" She said while opening the door, but stopped once she saw me, "Oh. Sorry, I'll just-"

"Good evening." I said sternly, making Yukina and Hinageshi fidget.

"Evening..."

"Yukina, I better get ready for dinner." I said, getting up. Yukina nodded and smiled at me.

"See you at dinner."

I nodded and went out, making my way slowly through the packed halls while reflecting about all the things Yukina had told me. It wasn't that I didn't get the meaning of her words, but it sounded like something so hard to be done! Like having a good night of sleep on a bed of nails...And about just as painful, too...

I frowned, throwing some boy out of my way and asked myself if I cared for Botan's reasons. Were they really that important?

"Here! Have the chocolate!"

I so should have let her starve back then...

"I feel thirsty!"

Maybe she just handed me that chocolate to make me feel thirsty, too...

"I'm afraid of ghosts, and everyone says this bedroom is haunted!"

Yeah, well, next time I'll just let Gasper & Co. scare you to death...

Next time!

"You look nice!"

Ah, damn those memories! I grabbed my head, not caring for all the scared looks I was getting on the way to my dorm.

"Hi-chan!"

"If we had had time..."

"No more Lake of The Swan!"

"...If I had never known..."

"Hiei!"

"...Maybe this way...Maybe we could have..."

"I have a crush on you!"

"Maybe I would have told you..."

"Hiei?"

"Despite all my fears and suspicions..."

"Am I your Alpha female?"

"Time..."

"Hiei!"

"I need time..."

"Save a slice of cake for me!"

"Give me time to tell you..."

"Hiei..."

"HIEI!"

"I NEED TIME!" I screamed, spinning around to see a very worried Yusuke looking at me.

"What!" He frowned, before shaking his head and grabbing me by the shoulders. "Whatever, man, are you okay! You looked like you were feeling some great pain!"

I breathed hard, vaguely aware that Kurama and Kuwabara were also there, and could feel the beads of sweat rolling down my face. Bringing a hand to my forehead, I wiped the wetness there and grinned maniacally. "I-I'm fine..."

"Hiei..." Yusuke looked worriedly at me before Kurama's firm voice made him turn to look at the redhead.

"Yusuke, you and Kuwabara go have dinner. I'll handle him."

"Okay..." Yusuke agreed as Kuwabara could only nod. Kurama grabbed my arms and steadied me.

"Can you walk?"

I nodded, feeling drained. Kurama led me the rest of the way into our dorm and placed me on my bed. I couldn't even find the strength to look up, let alone thanks him. He was quiet for a moment, most surely trying to find the safe way across thin ice, and when he spoke his voice had the smallest of wavering.

"Did you see her?"

I paused, "Yukina or Botan?"

"Botan."

"Yeah."

"Is that why you're like that?"

"It is...And it is not..." I mumbled as I squeezed my eyes shut. Kurama's next question held a great surprise.

"Is it because of Yukina you're like that!"

I shook my head, "We talked and she told me some things...I was thinking about them when I just..." I mumbled, "Started to remember..."

"I see..." Kurama nodded, looking at the dark sky. A few moments of silence passed between us before I spoke quietly.

"You can go to dinner, you know..."

"Will you be okay alone?"

"I'll be fine."

"I'll bring you something back, then."

"Thanks." I said, watching as he left. I sighed and looked at Yukina's picture on my nightstand. "You're gonna understand pretty soon, too, Kurama...You're gonna remember as well..."

I closed my eyes, feeling like the world was crashing around me, and drifted to a very troubled sleep, where all I saw was a pair of amethyst eyes.

The things we need...

r.h.y.t.h.m

I ate in silence, way too shocked with Hiei's breakdown to say anything. Kuwabara felt the same, since he didn't skip off to find Hinageshi as soon as we set foot on the dining room. He probably thought he had to stay with me after such a scene, and although I'd never say it out-loud, I'm grateful he did.

Women are demons...

No, really! I know it sounds like I'm joking around, but I'm serious here! Hiei's an emotional fortress, able to take the worst personal blows without blinking and Botan, just another girl, managed to throw his balance off like that! I mean, Hiei has girls throwing themselves at his feet (much like Kurama)! Why should he care for-

Unless Botan isn't just another girl to him, right, Urameshi?

I looked down at my plate to avoid watch Keiko crossing the room. She had been looking terrible this past month. So terrible, in fact, Kuwabara scolded me. I told him I didn't care and that she could rot on a dark corner, but truth is I never imagined my words would have that effect on her. Keiko, on my opinion up to that day, was an emotional fortress as well.

"Hey." Kuwabara nudged me on the ribs, making me look at him, "She looks better."

"Really?" I said, without noticing I was happy for the enemy, and examined Keiko from afar. She was still thin, but her face had gained color and a determined smile. Frowning, I shrugged. "Yeah, well, good for her."

Kuwabara only shook his head and continued eating, but I could almost see the red words on his forehead.

You're hopeless.

So what if I am, damn it! So what if I am not the great Kazuma Kuwabara, able to overlook that incident and forgive Hinageshi so naturally! So what if I am not that in touch with my feelings! So what if I can't admit I miss being with her! No one has anything to do with it!

I let go of my fork and pushed my chair back hastily, suddenly feeling an urge to breathe some fresh air. "I'll be right back." I told Kuwabara, who only sighed and mumbled a 'Suit yourself'. Hurriedly making my way out to CAA's gardens, I really don't know when I started to run, all I know is that I ended up sitting on the same bench where I asked Keiko out.

Before I could stop it, all these memories came crashing down on me, like a river that has been stopped by a barrier and was breaking free violent and desperately.

Flashback

"Ne, Yusuke, we're gonna be friends for a long time, right?" A six-year-old Keiko asked her friend. The boy scratched his nose as if considering her question before placing both hands behind his head.

"I dunno..."

"Eh!" Keiko gasped, shocked at his answer. Grabbing his sleeve with one hand, she pulled gently, "Why?"

"Because I'm macho." He said, punching his chest, "And machos can't have girls as friends. They need other machos so that people don't think they're chickens."

Keiko frowned, "So, if a macho has girls as friends, he's chicken?"

"Yeah, because girls are chickens."

"YOU ARE CHICKEN!" Keiko shouted, eyes glowing red and shaking Yusuke with all her might, "I'll show you macho!"

"EH!"

SLAP, SLAP, PUNCH, SLAP, KICK, PINCH, SLAP, PUNCH, KICK!

"Promise we'll be friends!" Little Keiko shouted, immobilizing Yusuke with a wrestling move.

"OUCH! You meanie!"

"Promise!"

"All right, all right!" Little Yusuke shouted desperately, "We'll be friends forever and ever! FOREVAAAAAA!"

"Okie Dokie!" Keiko smiled happily, releasing her hold on Yusuke, who remained twitching on the grass. "Ne, ne, Yusuke!"

"W-What?" He asked, slowly getting up.

"My mama told me she met papa when she was our age and that they were friends since then...Then they fell in LUV and got married and had me and stuff..." Keiko said, blushing, "Do you think we're gonna fall in LUV, too?"

"I'd rather kiss Toguro."

PUNCH, SLAP, KICK, KICK, PUNCH, SLAP, PINCH, SLAP, SLAP, KICK, PUNCH, SLAP!

"AAAARRRGH! YOU EVIL FAIRY-TALE WITCH!"

"SAY WE'RE GONNA FALL IN LUV!"

"NEVAAAAA!"

"SAY IT OR I'LL BREAK YOUR NECK!"

"FINE! WE'RE GONNA FALL IN LUV! WE'RE GONNA FALL IN LUV!"

"Yeah?" Keiko huffed, "Like I'd ever fall for a dumb baka like you!"

"What!" Yusuke frowned, "'Course you would!"

"Why?" Keiko crossed her arms, "You're not even cute!"

"Of course I'm not cute! I'm macho, and machos are hot!" Yusuke grinned, flexing his non-existent muscles. "Also, I'll be a good kisser! Watch!" He said, grabbing Keiko's head and pulling her to him. Keiko gasped, losing her balance and falling over Yusuke, his mouth falling over her-

"OUCH! YOU IDIOT, YOU BIT MY NOSE!"

End of Flashback

I laughed, remembering how Keiko's nose had swollen that day. I laughed so hard, in fact, that tears started to gather at the corner of my eyes and a sob was torn from my chest. No, really, I was crying because of the laughing...Even after my laughing died, and all I had left were tears and sobs...

The things we remember...

r.h.y.t.h.m

"RED POPPY!"

PUNCH!

I have to thank Keiko for those hitting lessons...

"What have I told you about the red poppy thing!" I growled, my eyes burning with anger. Kuwabara bowed about five times, apologizing.

"Forgive me, my fair scarlet flower!"

A vein popped on my head. How can this guy be so dense!

"Whatever, Kuwabara..." I sighed, massaging my temples. We had to do this meeting quickly, or else our targets could get suspicious!

YES! Tonight I'm analyzing Kuwabara's and my reports in order to create Cupid-I's plan! "Report, agent!"

"Yes, ma'am!" Kuwabara shouted, saluting me. "My investigations have resulted on this!" He said, handing me a piece of paper. I eagerly took it, knowing that the future of our friends depended on what was written on it!

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Leafs are green,

And I don't know you.

Roses are red,

But they can also be pink,

One night I dreamed

I was made of ink

Duel! Duel! I'll wear my mask with 'Meat' written on it!

Duel! Duel! Let's have a Yu-Gi-Oh Duel!

I luvluvluvluvluvluvluvluvluvluv Hinageshi-sama!

Mr. Red Poppy! WAAAAAAAH! Doggy, doggy me! Ohohohoho!

WHY, GOD, WHY ME!

"THE HELL IS THIS!" I screamed, shoving the paper inside his mouth. "WHERE'S YOUR REPORT!"

"Waaaaaaaaaaah! Forgive me, red poppy, I must have gotten carried away by the wings of my poetic spirit! I can tell you all I've noticed, though!"

"YOU BETTER!"

"Okay...Here it goes!" Kuwabara took a deep breath and gave me a detailed explanation of all important things that happened between him and the boys. I cringed when he told me how he had approached Kurama, but decided that his 'subtleness' had actually been a good thing. "So, what do you think, red poppy?"

I sighed, massaging my chin, "I'm pretty sure the girls are very important to them, but they're just too hurt to admit it...As Step 1 of Cupid-I we must have them notice that!" I said, punching my right hand, "We must arrange a situation where this can be done!"

"Hmmm..." Kuwabara nodded, "You're right, red poppy...Something among the lines of a rescue, perhaps?"

"Yeah...NO!" I shouted, "A rescue would mean the girls will be in danger, you stupid oaf!"

"Ah!" Kuwabara pointed a finger at me, "But what if it's all an act?"

"Eh?" I blinked, "No, we've lied to you all once and, if they find out that it's an act, they can get even angrier! Besides, I think the only one who can really act is Bo-"

"Nonono, red poppy!" He interrupted me, "They won't know as well! Only the two of us will!"

I stared at him, weighing our chance of success. "Do you have our man, agent?"

"Oh, yes...I have our man." He replied darkly.

The things we do...

r.h.y.t.h.m

As soon as I left Hiei alone, I felt a heavy weight land on my shoulders. He was obviously incredibly shaken and in need of a rock to lean on. In his case, I knew the rock's name and what I should do...

I lacked the strength, though.

It wasn't that I was afraid or ashamed of facing her. If anything, Yukina should be the one feeling like that. Maybe not afraid, because it's not like I'm going to physically attack her, but she should definitely be ashamed. Not to mention it's going to be quite an awkward moment, seeing as how our last exchange of words hadn't been exactly friendly and it had happened about a month ago.

All of sudden the realization that I should have foreseen this situation (calling Yukina) and kept at least Yusuke or Kuwabara with me hit me full-force, and I cursed my so-called intelligence that just kept failing me on moments or crisis. Because, hey, I just had to be the Lonely Hero!

You've probably noticed I really don't want to do this, right?

"Damn..." I cursed, grudgingly making my way through CAA's nearly empty halls. By now everyone probably was downstairs enjoying a hot meal, and I vaguely wondered going down to see if she was already there. Then again, if she wasn't, I'd have to climb all these stairs again...

And the thought of that didn't fancy me.

My eyes scanned the faces of the students, hoping that I'd come across Keiko, Botan or Hinageshi so that they could warn Yukina about Hiei's state, but I knew this was one chance in a million. Even so, I guess I was so reluctant with the entire thing that when my eyes met brown tresses, I just shouted Keiko's name without thinking.

When the owner of the hair turned around with mild surprise written all over her face, I felt the world crash around me.

"She has long hair, you know." Maya commented calmly, "Are you really this nervous?"

"What makes you think I'm nervous?" I asked her dryly. She only shrugged.

"I saw Hiei." She explained and I wondered how my brain, set to 'See-And-Avoid', missed her face.

Maybe I'm nervous...

"Is he okay?" Maya asked, crossing her arms. I studied her face.

"Do you really care?"

Maya rolled her eyes and waved a dismissive hand, "Fine, be that way. I don't care anymore. I'll just ask Yukina later."

For a fleeting second I wondered if that meant 'threaten the answer out of Yukina later' as Maya slowly started to climb down the steps, but once the real phrase sunk into my system, the gasp came out before I could stop it.

"You will what?"

Maya paused and turned around, her face a pool of naturalness "I'll ask her later, during our training sessions."

"As in your and Yukina's training sessions!"

Maya smiled, "No...As in mine, Yukina's and Karasu's training sessions."

The Hell!

"How is that!" I snapped, getting angry for no reason. I mean, it's Yukina's problem if she's training with the Hellish Cousins, not mine! I have nothing to do with what she does and does not!

"Theresa-sensei handed her the act of 'Malicious Psyche', and since I danced it once I'm helping her out."

Will this ballet haunt me during all my CAA's years!

"Yukina asked you to help her!" I inquired, going down a few steps so I was standing face-to-face with Maya.

"No. I'm just doing it."

"Oh?" I raised an eyebrow, voice turning into acid. "Out of the imaginary goodness of your heart?"

"If you must put it that way." Maya sighed before a smile curved her lips, "Of course, it's a pretty stupid thing to say to someone who can very well call her for you."

My eyes filled with incredulity and, I hate to admit it, gratefulness. "For real! Would you really do it!"

Maya smiled brightly, "Of course not, silly! I'm just messing around with you!" She giggled, continuing her way down, "Now, be a strong boy and go tell her!"

The guts of that girl...!

Cursing Maya (for tricking me), myself (for being tricked) and the entire situation, I decided it was better to finish this quickly than to stall and buy a few minutes before the inevitable, reason why I fastened my pace. I wish I hadn't, though, for I was so distracted I didn't notice someone coming on the opposite direction when I turned around a corner and ended up bumping into the person.

"Sorry! My bad!" I said, offering a hand to the fallen person without checking who it was.

"It's okay..." The blond girl said, taking my hand. Helping her up, I waited for her to let go of me.

(A/N: Ohohoho! I bet you all thought she was Yukina! Gotcha! I'm so mischievous!)

Only...She didn't.

"Well..." I started uneasily, "I really should be going...Sorry, again."

"It's okay, Kurama-sama!" The girl said all brightly and dreamy, still holding my hand. Pulling away gently, I nodded.

"Take care, then." I said, hurriedly putting some distance between us. The girl nodded and skipped away happily, but I still caught the excited mumble among the lines of 'Never, ever gonna wash this hand again!'

These fan-girls seriously need a reality-check...

Brushing the event off, I finally reached her door and prepared myself. I didn't want to be rude, but I didn't want to be nice, either. I raised a fist and was about to knock when I heard a loud thud and a muffled cry. Frowning, I knocked but received no answer. I tried again, harder this time, and the door finally opened to reveal me a teary-eyed Yukina, clutching the top of her head with one hand.

We looked at each other, but neither said anything. I don't know what was going on through her mind, but all words left me as soon as I saw her pained eyes. I opened my mouth and she took her right hand away from her head in reflex. What I saw on her fingers made me lose my words again.

"You're bleeding!"

"Wha-!" She gasped, looking at her hand. Sure enough, her fingers were covered by blood. "Oh, my head!" Yukina gasped, about to reach for it again. I stopped her, catching her wrist, and took a step forward, carefully pulling the hair around the wound.

"What happened?" I asked, studying it. It was pretty small, although the bleeding was somewhat strong.

"I was trying to put that box –" Yukina explained, pointing to a heavy-looking wooden box lying on the floor, "On the top of the wardrobe, but it slipped and one of the sides hit my head."

I examined the wardrobe and looked sternly at Yukina, "No matter how much you might dislike the fact, you are short. Don't try doing these things without a ladder or chair." I told her, heading for the bathroom and taking her with me. "Sit."

Yukina nodded and watched as I grabbed a nearby towel and wetted the tip, "It might sting." I warned her, pressing the fabric against the cut. I felt her cringe, but Yukina voiced no complaints or pain.

Silence fell between us while I cleaned her wound and I asked myself how things had turned out in such a way when her voice brought me back to reality.

"Do you want something?"

I took my time to answer while I cleaned the blood from the starts of her aqua hair. "I...Your brother isn't feeling very well-"

"What!" Yukina gasped, hastily getting up and successfully managing to connect my chin to her head. Falling into a sitting position again, she moaned in pain and apologized in such a small voice I nearly didn't get it. "I'm sorry! Oh, I'm such an idiot..."

To my horror, I felt the ends of my mouth pulling upwards and cleared my throat in order to stop that sneaky smile from appearing. "It's okay. It didn't hit your injury." I said, "Anyway, Hiei isn't feeling very well and I think you should go see him."

"Okay." Yukina nodded, waiting for me to distance myself so she could get up without further accidents. "Huh...Sorry about your chin..."

I shook my head, letting her get out first. We exited the dorm in silence and remained so until the end of the hallway. I was about to head for the stairs when I heard her calling out to me.

"And thanks for taking the trouble of cleaning my head and calling me!" Yukina said, a small smile on her lips. Then, she turned around and broke into a small run towards our dorm. Since her back was turned to me, I didn't feel the need to hide the sad curve on my lips.

"You're welcome."

The things we love...

To be continued...

For further info about the updates of 'Rhythm', check my bio! AND DON'T FORGET TO REVIEW!

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'Nameless' Sneak Peak!

The whispered prayer echoed on the dark tunnel, all comfort that it could bring her in such a situation vanished by that natural effect. Hugging her legs, the girl tried to warm herself from the coldness surrounding her, whishing nothing more than to see sunlight again. She had lost account of how many days she had been kept hostage and the question of what that monster had done to the other six girls still lingered in her head, just like their screams...

Name – Mission

"It started around the Darkness Tournament, actually, but Reikai was so caught up with it we overlooked the fact...Now, it's repeating itself." Botan sighed from her seat across Kurama and Hiei, her face tired and dark. "Last time, thirty-one females around 16 and 25 disappeared on that beach. Up till now, seven were caught."

"One for each day of the month." Kurama concluded. They had just arrived at a small resort for a mission. Apparently, Reikai had detected some strange supernatural activity concerning these kidnappings. "As for never finding a single body..."

"Hn. Either they're being absorbed or eaten." Hiei finished, making Botan shiver. He had accepted going on this mission for sheer lack of something better to do, but it now began to seem like they were up against something good.

"If it's using them for energy..." Kurama added, scanning the apartment. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a small living room. Much like the one they used during the tournament.

"And here I was thinking Koenma-sama would give me a vacation..." Botan mumbled, getting up. "And on top of it all, he sends me to this kind of mission!" She said more loudly, "Ah! I'm going to sleep! This trip killed me! Good night, you two."

"Good night." Kurama replied as Hiei 'Hn'ed. After she was gone, the fire demon frowned.

"I wonder if she's fully aware of her situation."

Kurama nodded in agreement. "Yes...She looks around 16, and her Reiki will only highlight her to the enemy."

"Hn. I knew she would be a bother."

"Don't say that." Kurama reprimanded his friend, staring at the full moon hanging on the sky, "Botan has been proved useful many times."

Hiei grinned, "Well, she can be eventual bait."

Kurama frowned, shaking his head. "You're hopeless."

'Nameless' is a Kurama/Maya, Hiei/Botan, Yusuke/Keiko, Kuwabara/Hina fic.