Summary: The story of Kurama's life, from just before his rebirth as Shuuichi Minamino to his encounter with Yuusuke.
Warnings: Knowledge of Yu Yu Hakusho preferable. Rated for language and some adult content.
Author's Notes: The word "yuugou" refers to the blending of two separate entities. Kurama himself used the word to refer to his situation (comic #10, page 10). "Hakusho" literally means "blank pages," and is used to refer to a journal or diary. Japanese vocabulary can be found at the end of the fic.
Even the best laid plans... Kurama found himself with the same thought once more. He sat on his bed with his head in his hands. Damnit, how could this happen? His mother had been feeling weak and occasionally dizzy for sometime now, and now they knew that she had an unusual degenerative disease. The doctors didn't know how to help her, and Kurama didn't have the ability to do so. But that wasn't what had him seething in frustration. He had finally pieced together all of the signs, the feelings of guilt and protectiveness, the desire to see his mother happy, the inability to make the move to finally leave her... Damn! Damn! Damn! He smacked his palms against his forehead repeatedly. Eventually, he sat up, brushed a few long locks off his face, and leaned back on his arms, staring at the window in front of him. Okay, so I love this woman, he admitted, frowning. Now what?
He stood up and began to pace. He delved deep into his memory for some way to help the sick woman. Having acknowledged that he loved the human woman, he decided to stop wondering about how it had happened and move on. It was now his responsibility to save her, if possible.
Kurama paused, confirming his senses and almost smiling, then continued to pace. The window opened, letting in the fall evening air. He didn't stop pacing as Hiei entered the room. He stopped, however, when he sensed surprise.
"What?" he asked the demon, facing him. Hiei was looking him over with a slight frown.
"Humans change quickly," the demon noted. He had come and gone from Kurama's room several times initially, but now it had been over half a year since his last appearance. Kurama had actually missed the taciturn demon. But he was currently too distracted to try to engage him in conversation.
"What?" Kurama repeated, looking down at himself.
"You're taller," Hiei stated. The boy had always been taller than the demon, but now he was nearly a head taller than the just-over-five-feet-tall Hiei, and his body no longer had the awkward in-between look of a human in puberty. Hiei nodded slightly in approval. "And that hair..." he pointed out Kurama's hair which now hung below his shoulders.
"Oh, that, I encouraged the hair a bit..." Kurama dismissed the observation with a wave of his hand and resumed pacing. The demon watched, almost amused.
"You're agitated," he stated at length, definitely sounding amused.
"You're observant," Kurama snapped without stopping.
"I thought the great youko Kurama was supposed to be the epitome of calmness," said Hiei, one corner of his mouth raised slightly.
At that, Kurama stopped pacing. He's right. I'm not acting like myself. He closed his eyes and drew in a slow breath. Then he faced the demon. "Hiei, I'm glad to see you again after all these months, but I'm not feeling very sociable at the moment."
"That's fine, because I'm not here for tea." Hiei has a sense of humor? The demon walked over and took his usual spot on the bed. "I have a proposition."
Despite his mood, Kurama couldn't resist. "I thought you weren't going to let me taste you."
Hiei snorted. He looked up at Kurama, his lips pressed together. Kurama rolled his eyes, then nodded for the demon to continue.
"I want something that is in the Reikai vaults."
"No," Kurama responded immediately. The last time I was there... He closed his eyes as images of violently spurting blood and a tall, struggling, winged figure flashed before him. "No," he repeated firmly.
"No?" Hiei questioned. "Giving up on your old ways? Going to live a tame, law-abiding, human existence?"
Kurama didn't respond. He started to pace again.
"You could choose whatever you wanted for yourself," the demon offered.
Kurama stopped and faced the bed. "I have different priorities now, Hiei. And treasures aren't high on that list."
"I already have one demon who is in on the plan, but he has no brains nor much dexterity. I could really use you."
"I said, no."
Hiei watched the human pace across the room. Finally, he scooted back on the bed and leaned against the wall, arms crossed. "Ever heard of the Mirror of Darkness?"
Kurama glanced at Hiei without stopping, "Yes, I have."
"It grants wishes."
"So I've heard. But the bearer is supposed to offer something in exchange. I've never heard what that is, though."
"You could find out, I'm sure," said Hiei, slyly.
"If I wanted to make the effort," Kurama responded with a snort.
"And I'm sure you would find a good use for the mirror," Hiei continued evenly.
Kurama stopped in his tracks, finally seeing the point Hiei was making. Then he narrowed his eyes. "And just what do you suggest I use it for?"
"That's up to you," the demon replied with a shrug. "I'm sure there's something you want."
"...You've been spying on me," Kurama said slowly, his voice almost a growl. The tree outside the window began to rustle dangerously.
The demon didn't deny it. "That's what I do," he said, unconcerned. He scooted off of the bed and planted himself in front of Kurama. "Well, when do you want to meet Gouki to discuss plans?"
Kurama opened his mouth, then shut it, unable to respond. Hiei continued to look up at him. "I assume you don't have that much time," he said, "and I'm sure there are tools you might want to acquire before we do the job."
"I haven't agreed to anything!" Kurama exclaimed, infuriated.
"Maybe you'd like to ask your mother's permission?"
Kurama flinched, his thoughts immediately going to his mother lying in a hospital bed. "You..." he said through clenched teeth, "devious, manipulative, calculating..."
"Coming from you, that's praise," Hiei smiled. He knew he had won.
The boy sighed, defeated. The tree stopped its rustling. He's right. I could try to find another way to save her, but there isn't much time. And with my previous experience there, and with his speed and jagan sight, this shouldn't be too difficult a job...
"Fine, you've got me," Kurama said resolutely, less angry now. "But we do it my way." Hiei might have started to build a name for himself, but he was known more as an aggressive thief, often using brute force and little subtlety. Kurama had no intention of drawing attention to himself, so the job would need to be planned meticulously. It was much more difficult to steal without leaving behind signs of the thieves.
"That's fine. I've always been curious about how the legendary Kurama operated," responded Hiei, with just a hint of respect for the much older fox demon. "You start planning. I'll be in touch shortly after I contact Gouki again."
The demon stepped out the window, leaving Kurama standing in the middle of the room alone. Kurama closed the window, then banged his forehead against the glass once, eyes closed. Damn... He suddenly felt too weary to stand. He flicked off the light, and without getting out of his clothes, lay on the bed and shut his eyes. However, sleep did not come immediately.
The job itself went without a hitch, but the fool Gouki proved to be their downfall. He got distracted as they were running back, then called out their names.
"Hiei, Kurama, wait!" the large demon rushed to catch up.
"Gouki, you moron!" Hiei hissed, but it was too late.
As a result, the Reikai knew who to go after, and Kurama ended up a wanted criminal again after fifteen years of anonymity.
I'd kill that idiot if it mattered, Kurama groaned inwardly. But knowing what he now did of the Mirror of Utter Dark, he decided it wasn't worth his time or energy to kill the soul-eating demon. They had made it back from the Reikai vault and were meeting in the woods at the edge of Shuuichi's hometown. Gouki and Hiei were going on about plans to create a zombie army out of humans using their stolen items. Gouki, he could understand, since he ate human souls, but Kurama had never understood why Hiei seemed to dislike humans so much. He was certain, though, that it had something to do with that mysterious Yukina.
"You two do what you want, but I'll have nothing to do with it," stated Kurama.
"You're leaving us?" Hiei demanded, although he did not look surprised. "Coward," he added with a snort.
"Well, if you're leaving, we're not sharing the treasure with you," Gouki snarled. "Give back the mirror!"
"That wasn't part of the agreement," Kurama said to Gouki, but the comment was directed at Hiei. "I need this mirror." Hiei stood silently.
"Yeah? Guess I'll just have to take it from you!" Gouki rushed towards the slender youth. Hiei and Kurama turned as they sensed a presence.
"Hold on just one moment!" a voice yelled.
The three thieves watched as a boy entered the clearing. He was wearing a Sarayashiki Middle School uniform and had his hair slicked back off his forehead. He was a few inches shorter than Shuuichi, but it was apparent that the boy was built like a boxer.
"I'm Reikai detective Yuusuke Urameshi! You are all under arrest! Hand over the treasures!" Gouki laughed out loud. Hiei stood for a moment, then leapt up into a tree and bounded away. Kurama considered the new arrival. He didn't want to fight a human, but with Gouki there, he didn't think he'd be given an opportunity to have a calm discussion with the boy. He turned away and walked to the edge of the clearing.
"Hey, come back, both of you!" the boy yelled. Kurama ignored him and kept walking. Behind him, he heard Gouki call the boy back, perfectly willing to engage in a fight. Kurama walked far enough into the woods so as not be detected, but then he stopped, letting his senses flow back to the clearing. The fight was not going well for the human boy. Kurama bit his lower lip, trying to decide what to do. I have no loyalty to this human. But neither do I have any desire to see Gouki kill him...
Fortunately, he didn't have to decide. He sensed a strong rei presence appear near the clearing, then a voice called out as if to a large group of campers. Kurama breathed a sigh of relief as he sensed Gouki leave hurriedly. The boy was still alive.
Kurama left the woods and headed for his empty house, the mirror tucked safely in his pocket.
Kurama slid through the crowd, sensing the boy's ki approaching. Abruptly, he was there in front of Kurama, dressed for school and limping in pain. The boy looked at the taller figure warily.
"You don't need to look so defensive," Kurama said. "I'm not here to fight you." The boy's eyebrows raised in mistrust. "I want to ask a favor of you," Kurama continued.
Kurama pulled the mirror out of a pocket and held it up. "You can have the mirror back in three days." He looked the boy in the eyes. "And I will go to the Reikai without a fight." The boy's eyes widened.
"Why...?" he asked slowly.
Kurama shook his head. "In three days. I promise." He held his breath as the detective considered the offer.
"Okay." Okay? Kurama released the breath in relief. He hadn't realized how much he had not wanted to have to kill the human boy.
"Thank you," he said, smiling grimly, then turned and made himself disappear into the crowd.
The stocky boy looked surprised to find Kurama in front of his school.
"I promised to return the mirror today," Kurama reminded him. Yuusuke pondered the statement for a moment before his expression gave away the fact that he'd completely forgotten about their agreement. "But there's someone I'd like you to meet first."
They didn't talk as they walked to the station, rode the train for several stops, then eventually ended up at a hospital. Yuusuke stared at the hospital as they approached, confused. He glanced at the name on the wall as they entered one of the rooms. Minamino. A middle-aged woman was resting in the only bed in the room. She looked up as the two boys crossed the room.
"My, how unusual!" she said, extremely surprised. "You brought a friend?" She started to sit up.
"It's okay, Kaasan, don't get up," Kurama said, resting a hand against the woman's shoulder.
Kaasan? Yuusuke was thoroughly confused. He could have sworn that Botan had said Kurama was a demon. And the meter had responded to Kurama's youki... But this woman was clearly human. He looked her over again and noticed the angry-looking scars on both of her arms. Yuusuke stood silently as Kurama peeled fruit for the woman and made her eat it, scolding her as he did so.
"You have to keep up your strength," he chastised, but his tone was gentle.
"You are so strict, Shuuichi," the woman said, smiling lovingly.
What the hell? The demon was acting like a perfectly normal, loving son. But then, Yuusuke hadn't actually seen Kurama fight, so maybe he was in fact a gentle demon.
Later, as they stood on the hospital rooftop, Kurama explained his situation. Yuusuke stared at Kurama's back as the long-haired boy looked down at the street. The sun was just beginning to set.
"Shuuichi is my human name. And that woman is my human mother. My father died awhile back." He paused, scanning the sky. Night would fall shortly, then he would be able to act and repay Shiori.
Without turning to face Yuusuke, Kurama continued, explaining his true identity and how he had come to be in a human body. And the fact that he had planned on leaving his human family as soon as he was able.
"So why didn't you?"
Kurama remained silent for a long moment. "Did you see the scars on her arm?"
"Yeah, they looked old," responded Yuusuke.
Kurama sighed, then told the boy about the incident six years ago, the day that had so shocked him. "Since then, every time I see those scars, I'm reminded of her smile of relief." Relief because I hadn't been hurt. That a demon with the ability to heal easily hadn't been hurt... He closed his eyes briefly before continuing. "I didn't think I could ever have such feelings, but when she fell ill, I was forced to see the truth. That I love this human as my mother."
Having actually said the words for the first time, that he loved her, Kurama was able to confirm how true those words were. He hadn't hesitated as he'd said them. And he had no intention of taking them back. He knew that he was making the right choice, the only choice he could make.
"The way things are going, she won't last another month. I want to use this mirror to save her life. Once that is accomplished, I will return the treasure and go turn myself in," he said.
"Won't she be alone if you turn yourself in?" asked Yuusuke.
Kurama paused, surprised that the Reikai detective would even think to ask that. "It's okay. She's dating someone, the president of a small business. Once she's well, she'll be happier without me around." Kurama had done some research and knew that the man was honest and dependable. He loved Shiori, and he would take good care of her after Kurama was gone.
Yuusuke was silent for several seconds. "Why are you telling me all this?" he finally asked.
Why? Kurama wasn't certain himself. He thought for a moment. "I guess I just wanted someone to hear my final confessions..." He smiled slightly. "And you trusted me."
The door slammed open and a middle-aged man ran out onto the roof. "Shuuichi-kun! I'd been looking for you! Come! Shiori-san is..." the man exclaimed, out of breath.
Kurama ran towards the door without waiting for another word. Yuusuke followed the taller boy back to Shiori Minamino's room. The woman had lost consciousness and was hooked up to a respirator.
"She may not last the night," the doctor said sorrowfully. "We will do what we can, but perhaps you should consider contacting family members..."
Yuusuke sat uncomfortably by the wall as Kurama and the woman's boyfriend sat by the bed, keeping vigilance. The sky continued to darken outside the window. Finally, when night had fallen, the tall boy stood and walked quickly out of the room. Yuusuke followed hurriedly as Kurama walked down the hall and towards the stairs leading to the roof.
"I have no choice but to do it," Kurama said.
"You're going to use the mirror?" asked Yuusuke. "I was told you have to offer something in exchange to have your wish granted. Do you know what that is?"
Kurama didn't respond immediately. "Yes. My life."
Yuusuke almost missed the step. He righted himself and continued up the stairs after Kurama. Once out on the roof, Kurama took the mirror out of a pocket, knelt, and set it on the floor. The moonlight reflected eerily off of it. Yuusuke knelt beside the other boy as he summoned the mirror's power. It came to life, projecting an image of a smiling Shiori.
"You wish for her happiness," a voice boomed from the mirror.
"Yes, I do," Kurama said softly.
"Are you insane?" Yuusuke hissed. "It's going to kill you!"
Kurama smiled at the younger boy, his face oddly peaceful. Yuusuke blinked, noting for the first time that the other boy was extremely attractive. Kurama sighed, a sad, wistful sound. "It's the least I can do for her... to make up for lying to her all of these years..."
Kurama gave the boy a reassuring smile before placing an open palm above the mirror. He had made his choice, and he had no regrets about it... save not being able to be with Shiori any longer... What an irony that it took me a millenia to find love and now I willingly give it up... He closed his eyes as a bright light flashed from the mirror and pain surged through his body like electricity. He could feel his life force being drained from him.
I'm sorry, Kaasan, but this is the only way I can help you right now.
Abruptly, the drain lessened. He opened his eyes to see Yuusuke holding a hand above the mirror as well.
"Look, if I share my life, maybe it won't have to take all of yours," the boy said through clenched teeth.
"Are you a fool? You..." What was this boy doing, risking his own life?
"...Have you ever seen your mother crying over you? There's nothing worse..."
Kurama stared at Yuusuke. No, he hadn't actually considered what his mother would go through with his death. As a demon, it didn't immediately occur to him that one would grieve severely over a death, especially his own. Yet, hadn't he grieved over...
The brightness increased, flooding their awareness with white until all was black.
Kurama stared at his hand that was right next to his face. He tentatively moved a finger.
Suddenly remembering what he had been doing, he pushed himself off of the floor and ran to the door. He threw it open and took the stairs at a run. He continued down the hall, ignoring the nurse who tried to slow him down, and rushed into his mother's room.
Shiori's boyfriend greeted him at the door. "Shuuichi-kun!" There was pure relief and joy in his voice. "She's okay!"
"It's a miracle, really," the doctor added with a smile. "The human body has amazing resilience..."
A soft voice came from the bed hesitantly. "Shuuichi... are you there?" Shiori's hand reached up, searching for her son.
Emotion threatened to overtake Kurama. He felt his eyes grow moist, something that had happened only a handful of times in his entire long life, and never in Shuuichi's life. He moved swiftly to the bedside and took the woman's hand in his.
"I'm here, Kaasan. I'm not going anywhere..."
From the doorway, Yuusuke watched the human/demon with his mother. He grinned. I guess not all demons are evil.
Kurama looked up, sensing the boy's presence. He gave Yuusuke a grateful smile. Yuusuke blinked, slightly surprised by the radiant smile. He shrugged. I guess not all demons are hideous-looking either. He placed the mirror safely in his pocket and left, pleased with himself.
The amazed hospital staff released Shiori Minamino the next day, finding no reason to keep her any longer. Her boyfriend left work so that he could drive her home, and Kurama left school early so that he could join them. Shiori smiled as her son fussed over her, hovering near her as she walked from the hospital room she'd been confined to for several weeks, to her boyfriend's car. He'd been protective of her for years, but it seemed that, amazingly, it had gotten even worse.
"Shuuichi, I'm not going to break," she finally laughed as he tried to help her up the few stairs in to their house.
The boy paused. "I know, Kaasan. But you've been ill for so long... Just humor me," his grin was light-hearted, but Shiori could see that the weeks of worrying had affected him. Now that she was well and could spare the attention, she could tell that her son hadn't been sleeping enough nor eating well. My poor boy... how awful this must have been for you...
Kurama unlocked the front door and stepped through with Shiori. He helped her remove her shoes as her boyfriend followed with her travel bag.
"Sit down," Kurama ordered his mother after leading her into the living room.
"Shuuichi," she protested.
"Are you hungry? What do you feel like for dinner?" the boy asked, ignoring her protest. He turned and walked into the kitchen.
Shiori gave her boyfriend a helpless smile. He laughed back. "Shiori-san, you should know by now that you can't argue with Shuuichi-kun."
"I'm supposed to be taking care of him. He's been neglected for too long."
He knelt beside the sofa and took her hands. "Let him take care of you. It'll be good for him. You aren't the only one who's been feeling helpless these past weeks."
"I know..." Shiori said guiltily.
"And, you can take care of him again starting tomorrow. Sound fair?"
The woman nodded as her son entered the room with a tray holding three cups and a tea server. He knelt by the table and proceeded to pour the tea. "Genmai tea," he informed his mother who was trying to see over the rim of the cups. "Hatanaka-san, will you be staying for dinner?"
"Oh, no, I need to stop by work for a bit and then get home to my son. Thank you," the man responded as he accepted a cup from the boy.
He left about ten minutes later, and then it was just mother and son. Shiori watched as her son cleared the low table and disappeared into the kitchen again. He returned shortly and sat beside her on the sofa.
"No preferences?" Kurama inquired. "How's your appetite?"
"Honestly, Shuuichi, I feel better than I have in years. I don't understand it, but it's just wonderful."
He looked at her for a long moment, as if afraid that she would disappear. Finally, he sighed. "I'm just so glad you're well. And that we're together..."
Shiori smiled at him, even as she wondered briefly about the slight emphasis on the word "together." "I'm glad, too. I couldn't have made it through this without you, Shuuichi."
Kurama returned the smile. Then he stood briskly. "Well, Kaasan, since you're going to be absolutely no help, I'll just have to make the weighty decision of what we'll have for dinner," he teased.
He went back into the kitchen and stood in front of the closed refrigerator for several seconds. He closed his eyes and let out a long breath. He still couldn't believe that both of them had made it back home. I owe Yuusuke so much! He had no idea what the Reikai had in store for him, but as long as he could remain with Shiori while she lived, he would accept any consequence. Because now that he had survived the ordeal, he wasn't going to willingly give up the chance he'd been given to continue living with the woman he had grown to love.
They could throw him in Hell for centuries. Later. But for the next three, maybe four decades, he was determined to remain in the Ningenkai.
The great demon thief Kurama had lost his heart to a human woman, and for now, he would call her world his home.