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Chapter 7 - Unrequited Love
Hiei stared blankly at the sky, feeling bored beyond belief. He had trained alone for a few hours and then bathed before eating something that looked like snow and tasted really sweet. He missed Rumiko and wondered what she had to do. There wasn't any mission that had been assigned tp him and since the Spirit Detective was nowhere in sight, he had nothing to do.
I'm even beginning to miss Kuronue...
The bat had taken a liking to wandering around the city in the company of the young woman named Shizuru. He felt sick. Since when did he miss Kuronue's childish and idiotic antics? Oh, right. Ever since he began to stop them. It was just so odd not to have him around, causing some sort of catastrophe or small disaster.
"Hello? Is anyone here?" His ears picked up a smooth, feminine voice calling out and he moved to the edge of the roof.
"Rumiko?" She looked up at him, a grin brightening her features. Her bright brown eyes widened in glee. "What are you doing here? You are supposed to be in Reikai, right?" Rumiko nodded.
"Koenma-sama let me go because I'm not really in any trouble and I didn't have a warrant, not to mention that I finished my work early. And...hey! Am I supposed to yell at you while you stand up there all day?" He smirked and jumped down to talk to her and maybe even hold her. He have done the latter but there was something occupying her arms.
"Akina?" She laughed and set the baby down on the grass. "Rumiko... I..." He felt awkward even trying to say the words. "Weren't you going to finish speaking?" She laughed, her eyes twinkling merrily.
"I was going to say that I missed you, you little dummy." She threw her arms around him. After a moment, she pulled away. "Am I going to have to do all the work?" He chuckled with a smirk resting on his lips. Then he pulled her to him and kissed her gingerly. She pulled away and gave him a teasing glance. "Is that all you've got? You, the tough and deadly fire koorime?" He narrowed his eyes at her.
"If you believe that was all, then you've got something coming." He pushed her to the ground and kissed her hard, pressing his hot body against hers. She would've been worried if he weren't a fire koorime and had a normal body temperature above that of everyone else. He pulled away and raised a brow. "Well?" She laughed again, grabbing the front of his shirt.
"Much better." He rolled over, sitting down next to her. "You know, this place is kind of nice. Sort of reminds me of home..." The koorime snorted and lay back, pillowing his head with his hands.
"This place reeks of ningens. You're a dog demon, you should smell it. I hate this place." She sighed. The truth was, she could smell it but she didn't mind it. Some demons smelled worse. "The stench is overbearing." She looked over at Akina as the little baby played around with a piece of grass.
"So, anyway... Where's Kuronue?" She had to relieve his sudden foul mood or else he could possibly flip out on her. "I don't sense him around here."
"He's found a new way to occupy his time. The idiot's been prancing off with a ningen woman for the past couple days." She blinked in confusion. "Don't know what's the matter with that fool."
Kuronue was about to push Shizuru again on the swing when he suddenly turned away and sneezed. Trouble was, he didn't recover in time to avoid getting clobbered with the swing. Shizuru stopped herself and got off, hurrying over to him.
"Are you alright?" She set one hand on his shoulder and the other on the hand that he used to hold the spot on his chest where he got hit. "Kuronue?" He chuckled before nodding his head. However, she couldn't help but catch the cold, blood-thirsty glint in his eyes before it changed.
"Don't worry your pretty little head about me. I'm a demon, remember?" She tried to smile but found it to be difficult. It was different, easier to have it explained to her about demons and split personalities than to actually see it. The kind and warm gaze he gave to her made her think she had been seeing things. "Shizuru?" Demons were so different. They lived life on the edge of a double-edged sword. They were always in danger and never let down their guard. Demons were never meant to mingle with ningens. She shouldn't be around Kuronue... "Shizuru? Are you okay?" She began to tremble. No matter how much she liked him, they couldn't be friends. He was too different, too dangerous. "What's wrong?"
"What?" She asked softly. "Oh... I'm sorry. I sort of spaced out for a minute..." She noticed that she was still touching him and quickly withdrew her hold. His face softened into what she felt was a pain-filled expression.
"You're...afraid of me." He looked away. "I'm sorry that I scared you. It's fine if...you don't want to see me anymore." She put her hand up to her mouth. She had rarely felt such fear, even when it came to the supernatural. But the way he had looked... She backed away from him, feeling as though she had done enough damage.
"I-I'm...sorry." She turned around and ran from him. He stood there, alone, watching her run from him as memories of what had happened when he lost the most important woman in his life surfaced in his mind.
"Kuronue, I don't love you. Stop acting like we can fix this!"
He sat down on the swing, trying to force the memories to go away. He bit his lip so hard that he drew blood, though he didn't even realize it. His mind was buried in his past.
"Please... Tamiko...don't leave me! Don't..." His voice cracked as she walked toward the entrance of their home. She stopped and looked back at him, her blue eyes filled with tears.
"Do not make this harder than it has to be. Let me go. Let me be with him." As she spoke, his vision began to blur. Her face became distorted, causing him to let out a startled whimper. "I can't stay here...with you...any longer..."
After that, his memory of the pain of that night was suppressed and he couldn't remember what happened. His indigo eyes took in the park, took in the couples, the families, the children... How badly he had wanted a family with her. He had devoted himself to her every whim. But she tossed him aside for someone else.
"I don't love you..."
Had she used him, as Hiei had claimed? The koorime and the kitsune had wanted nothing more than to find her and murder her. But Youko had held himself and his friend back. At times, Kuronue was angry enough to leave the cave and go back to their home to try and find her and scream at her until his vocals burst. But she was never there. He stood up, feeling as though his current bout of suffering would last as long as the stay on Ningenkai. However, he hoped that his mind would be merciful enough to just let it last the night.
By the time he made it back to the temple, the sun was setting. He couldn't have been more grateful for darkness. He wanted nothing more than to drown in dreams that he had not had in a very long time. If his wish came true, he would feel better by morning. The depression that was eating away at his mind made him lose his senses, made him more than vulnerable. He stumbled into his room and threw himself onto the bed, burying his face in the soft feather pillow. If only for that night, he would let tears fall from his eyes. If only for that night, he would succumb to the pain. If only for that night, he could wish for something more than loneliness and misery.
Not long after he had fallen asleep, he was woken up by a soft crying. It was muffled but he could hear it nonetheless. Standing up and going out to the main room of the temple, he found the front doors open and Rumiko sitting outside on the porch steps with a fussing Akina in her arms. He approached quietly and stood in the doorway.
"Let me take her. You can go back to bed." The dog demon turned to look at him, her brown eyes questioning. "Here, hand her to me." He reached out and took the baby kitsune from her arms. "I'll take care of her."
"Kuronue..." Rumiko tried to protest but there was no talking to Kuronue in his current state. She noticed the soft look on his face and the dim light of pain in his eyes. The way he held the baby made her stop crying. Rumiko smiled sadly before going back inside to go back to sleep, leaving the demon to his painful thoughts.
"That's right, little one. At least...I do have a family that cares about me, right? What do I need with another one?" He went inside, closing the doors behind him before going to his room with Akina cuddled to his chest, her small silver tail brushing against his arm and her tiny ears flicking every once in a while against his neck. He lay down on the bed with her cradled in his warm embrace. "Why do I need another baby in my life...?" She cooed at him and let out a tiny, continuous rumble that made him think of a cat purring. Her tiny hand gripped his shirt and her amethyst eyes searched his face for love and adoration. He smiled sadly at her before sighing. "Just...know that I love you...like I would love my own..."
Kuronue opened his eyes when the sun shone in from the window, directly onto the sleeping pair. He looked down to find Akina stirring, making a face because of the light shining onto her face. He sat up, shielding her from the brightness as his mind began taking in everything he was supposed to remember. He suddenly didn't feel like getting out of bed. A knock sounded at his door before Rumiko entered to take Akina for her breakfast. When he handed her over, the dog demon gave him a look of concern.
"You're not yourself. Are you going to be okay?" He stared up at her before shrugging and falling back to rest on the bed. "Hiei wants to talk to you. I'll tell him that you're not feeling well..."
"Just send him in here and I'll tell him myself." He stated dryly. She bit her lip to keep from protesting and nodded. The bat demon was most certainly acting strange. Before she left the room, she could have sworn that she heard him whimper. But it might have just been the baby...
About a half-hour later, Hiei barged into the room to see nothing but an empty bed. He had figured as much. Perhaps Kuronue went out to vent his feelings. After all, Ningenkai was making even the koorime feel edgy. He refused to listen to Rumiko's suggestion that his friend was upset about her. Kuronue had gotten over that loss...hadn't he? Not unless the stupid fool went and got tangled up in ningen emotion with that woman, Shizuru. Nonetheless, he couldn't talk to his friend about what happened. He had to go to the woman that must have caused his mental distress. After locating her with his Jagan, he took off to find her. The koorime never cared for rules so he didn't care what Koenma wanted him to do. At that point, he felt as though he had suffered enough of a punishment so the deal to remain at the temple unless he had a guide or whatever was null and void. He would talk to the girl, whether she wanted to talk or not.
Botan opened her eyes and groggily rolled over, half expecting to collide with a certain kitsune. However, the bedding was empty and cold, as though he had left more than an hour ago. She sat up, rubbing her eyes and searching the room.
"Youko?" She got out of bed and pulled on a robe before searching the bathroom and the other few adjoined rooms. Her mate was nowhere to be found. So, she decided to bathe and get dressed. Then she would search outside the guest room.
Walking around the castle hallways without a guide was pretty tedious but she did so nonetheless. Besides, if she continually followed Youko's faint scent, she would be able to find him. And it was really faint, not to mention hard to follow. There were probably so many people going all over the hallways that their scents covered his.
He must be with Eizan-san. I wonder...where they could be.
She had checked the dining hall but breakfast was long over so she decided to try and search the throne room. As she made her way there, many people stared at her and whispered rumors about her being to the Lord. Of course, she was but half of the story was so ridiculous that it made the entire thing a rumor.
"Excuse me." She stopped before a servant, nearly making him jump from the amount of authority in her voice. "Where is Eizan-san?" He blinked at her for a moment before bowing his head and gesturing that she follow him. "Do you know if my mate Youko is with him?"
"No, Lady." He responded shortly. She gave his back a frustrated glare but decided to let it go. It wasn't his fault he didn't know. They came to a set of double doors made of oak and the servant bowed to her before speaking. "This is the conference room. The Lord is inside." He left without waiting for her to dismiss him. She didn't really care. His job had been completed, anyway.
"Eizan-san?" She called as she pushed open one of the doors. There, at the large table sat Eizan and Youko, discussing things with someone that she never met. "I am sorry to intrude but I was looking for my mate." Youko looked back at her and smiled slightly. "I guess I'll go for a walk. Come and find me when you finish." After he nodded, she excused herself before leaving. She had a feeling that boredom might just find her before he did.
It hadn't taken Hiei very long to find her and, once he had, he figured that he would corner her when she was by herself. But it seemed that everyone knew her. It took close to a day of stalking before he caught her alone. Just as soon as she was seated on a bench by herself, he took full opportunity of the moment.
"Onna." He appeared in front of her, his crimson orbs giving her a deadly glare. "I want answers from you. I don't care if I take them by force." Of course, he meant by way of his Jagan. "What happened?" She stared at him calmly for a few moments before closing her eyes.
"I don't care to talk about it." Her voice was laced with something the koorime didn't recognize. He continued to stare quietly at her until finally, he sat down next to her. Shizuru knew that to be a challenge. If she didn't tell him, he would continue to follow her and wait until she answered...or he would...extract them. In what way, she had no idea.
"Will you take my offer? If you answer every question I present to you, I will leave you alone. If not, I will read your mind like an open book and gain my answers that way." He stated with boredom clear in his tone. She looked over at him with wide eyes. "Yes, I can read minds. You don't have to be so surprised. Demonic abilities far surpass anything you ningens could develop. So, you don't even need to be thinking of the incident. Don't worry, I don't usually erase memories. Why would I bother to concern myself with your personal matters?"
"Then why don't you just read my memories and find out that way? Why haven't you done it already?" She crossed her arms. "I don't see why you're so concerned about my memories..."
"What the hell did you say to Kuronue? What did you do to him?" His voice was low, his anger seeping slowly into tone. "What happened between you two?" She stared at him.
"I...don't understand. What do you mean? Nothing happened." He reached over and grabbed her arm, gripping it so tight that she could feel him nearly cut off her circulation.
"Don't lie to me, onna. I know that something happened. It isn't every night that my partner remembers that wench and wallows in sorrow so deep he could drown himself." He growled out the last sentence, making her wince as he squeezed harder with every word. "Speak." She nearly cried out but he pulled her closer, his eyes glaring daggers into her own.
"I...I left him at the park." She said quietly. His grip didn't ease, as she had so hoped it would. "He got hit by the swing and...the look that crossed his face... I was scared, okay?" Her voice began to get louder as she continued to talk. "He told me all about how demons have split personalities... One that's normal and the other allowing them to...kill others without a second thought. But it was so different seeing a look like that on his face when...he had been so kind and gentle before it."
"You stupid..." He shoved her, letting go of her arm with a look of disgust. "How could you be such an idiot?" His tone was sharp, cutting her deeply with his insulting words. "Don't you see what you've done?"
"No, I don't. He told me...that...I didn't have to see him anymore." Shizuru felt chills run down her spine. She was acting too strangely for her own good and she knew it. But pushing this demon's buttons wasn't one of the wisest options so she had to tell him or risk her life. She had never had to deal directly with demonic figures before. Now she was seeing them almost every day. The same ones, at that! She wasn't one to get scared but Kuronue had been so sweet...and that cold, unforgiving look on his face...
"He is such an idiot! You two would make a fine pair! What the hell is with everyone being such morons?" The koorime was angry enough to beat his said partner to a bloody pulp. "That..." He began mumbling words and she wasn't even sure if they were in her language. She began to grow curious about what had gotten him so fired up. And why had he mentioned Kuronue remembering a girl?
"What is all of this about?" She asked, finally regaining her composure since she had something else to focus on. "Was Kuronue in a relationship before?" This stopped the koorime's tiraid only briefly.
"It isn't any of your business. Excuse me now while I go find my idiot partner and kick his ass." He disappeared from her sight, going so fast that her eyes could hardly follow. She was far too curious because of the current situation. So, she began running in the direction of the temple, hoping that her questions would be answered.
"I love you so much that...it hurts..." He leaned down, touching his lips to hers. She stared up at him with her beautiful azure eyes. "Don't ever leave me." His whispered words made an innocent blush caress her pale skin. "Become my mate, Tamiko...my love."
"Kuronue..." She looked startled at his declaration. But his fevered touches made her surprise melt into something different. "Of course, love..." The childish joy that lit up his face made her laugh. His raven hair brushed her face, making her realize how close he was. She put her hands on his face and pulled him to her, kissing him with such passion that he had no clue that soon those dreaded words would leave her lips...
"You will be with me...forever?" She stared up at him. "You will...always love...me?" His voice cracked slightly from his emotions.
"Just so long as your heart belongs only to me."
My heart...still belongs to you and only you...Tamiko...
Kuronue leaned against a tree, sliding down it as beads of perspiration ran down his face. He felt hollow, empty. His hand went to the scar where...she had sunk her teeth into his neck.
My heart can never...belong to another.
He closed his eyes, reliving the happier memories, when he thought misery was the last thing he would feel. A part of him wished her happiness but the other part of him...wished her misery. It was as though...he could never be himself again. His panting slowed as he regained his breath. Training wasn't taking his mind off of his problems. It was making them harder to deal with. Though, the frustration he was venting was monumental. Before another thought could cross his mind, he narrowly dodged a blow from a very swift opponent.
"You are too foolish for your own good." Hiei stood from his crouching position and glared at his friend, his crimson eyes swirling with so much anger. Most of it, Kuronue could tell, was dragged up from the past. "I can't even believe how idiotic you're being."
"Hiei..." Kuronue dropped his explanation, figuring correctly that it would be a waste of breath. For the koorime wouldn't listen. He merely attacked his already worn-out partner. "Will you cut it out? Tell me where this is coming from!" The bat demon was beginning to lose his breath again. He dodged the koorime's attacks only narrowly and they kept coming. He collapsed on the ground after a few minutes of 'training.' Then he had to roll out of the way as Hiei continued to attack without a moment of hesitation.
"Idiot." The koorime paused, standing over Kuronue, eyes narrowed. Not even one bead of sweat rested on his skin nor did his breathing change from it usual calm rhythm.
"You sure know...how to drop a person..." The demon tried to recover as quickly as possible. "Just...know that I prefer to be swept...off my feet. I hate it when...my knees turn to Jell-O..." Hiei's glare only seemed to get harder and, if possible, sharper.
"Shut up and catch your breath so that I can beat the shit out of you." He stated coldly. There was no room for doubt that he was being completely serious.
"What kind of motivational speaker are you?" The koorime waited for a brief moment before answering with a kick to the grounded demon's ribs. "Uhnn..." Kuronue clutched at the spot where his partner's foot connected with his body and tried to roll away. "Why...?" The question was choked out, along with a few grating coughs. Hiei didn't answer. He only stepped closer and pulled the other demon to his feet...by his hair. "Ow!"
"You're thinking of her again, aren't you?" He shoved the taller demon into the nearest tree. "I thought I told you that she was nothing but a ungrateful bitch! What happened is in the past and it should stay there, no matter what happens with some human wench!" Kuronue froze, his eyes growing wide. "Yes, I confronted her about the incident. You shouldn't be so stupid. She is nothing like that cheating..." He went on and on but in all of his rants since Tamiko left, the koorime never used her name.
"Stop talking about her that way, Hiei. She couldn't help the way she felt. But you have to stop getting so worked up over my feelings. The ache will never go away and I've accepted that, so why can't you?" Hiei narrowed his eyes at his partner, not really knowing what to say. "Just...give me time to make it hurt less, like before...all right?" Kuronue knew that it was only Hiei's way of showing that he cared but...enough was enough. "Let me deal with it. It's my problem."
"You couldn't deal with it alone before, how can you do it now?" The koorime backed away and jumped onto the lowest branch of the tree, just above Kuronue's head. "I know that...you still care for her but it is time to stop. You're...killing yourself without even realizing it." The bat demon slumped to the ground, knowing that his friend was right.
"I know you're right... I know it but...I just can't..."
Well, I think that's about enough for now... I figured that I would give you a long chapter to make up for lost time. Anyway, I'll see what I can do about getting the next chapter out soon. Thank you all for your kind reviews and please continue to read!