Balm of Gilead

Rating: M for later chapters
Summary: Kurama needs more than friendship to recover from a horrific crime.
Author's Notes: This story is going to definitley be slash/yaoi along the line, but I haven't quite decided on the pairing yet. It is entirely possible there will be a threesome somewhere along the line, so don't read if you don't like. It is also going to be quite angsty. I realize Kurama-angst is generic, but I thought I'd make my contribution to the genre anyway. The titlte is a biblical quote.

Prologue: Ninety Seven Days

"He's different," Yusuke warned her as they sped up the mountainside, their need for speed slightly hampered by the fact that Shiori had never been on a motorbike before. She clung awkwardly behind the young man, arms wrapped tightly around his waist, willing him to go faster and yet feeling a gut-wrenching fear each time they went over a bump in the dirt road.

"Different how?" she demanded, speaking straight into his ear to be heard over the wind.

Yusuke didn't answer her. "Yusuke, tell me what happened to my son!"

"I don't know what happened. He hasn't been able to tell us yet."

Shiori's heart plummeted. "But you must know something."

"It's not my place to tell you, ma'am. Ku--Shuichi should be the one to talk to you about it, if and when he wants to."

Shiori heard the hesitation and correction all to clearly. Kurama, Yusuke had nearly said. The other name.

"You told me about him, though."

"That was different. Someone had to stop you from going and looking for him."

Shiori thought back to the day, eight four days ago now, that they were referring to. Yusuke was right, she had been on the verge of going to search for her son herself. He had been missing for nearly two weeks and the police had stopped trying to reassure her, and his friends from school were calling less and less frequently to ask if there was any news, and her husband and friends were gently trying to prepare her for the possibility that he might not be found.

Then, on the thirteenth day since she had seen her son, two friends of Shuichi's whom she had not heard from since his disappearance came to her doorstep. She let them in reluctantly--these were not her favorite acquaintances of Shuichi's. She knew he cared for both of the boys and so she didn't speak of it, but being the perfect student and son that he was it was odd that Shuichi should chose to spend his time with them. Yusuke's self proclaimed street punk status put her off, and Hiei simply frightened her. Shuichi must have known, at least subconsciously, that she didn't approve, because she never managed to be as welcoming to these three as to any other friends Shuichi brought home. She regretted this deeply now.

The two had come into her kitchen and wisely made her sit down before beginning, very straightforwardly, to tell her about Kurama. Only the sight of Hiei's Jagan eye, which left her oddly dizzy, had convinced her that they weren't stark raving mad.

The more they spoke, the more it made sense. They made certain to impress upon Shiori the seriousness of what her son was involved in, letting her sit for over an hour with a cold cup of coffee in front of her while Hiei spoke of Yoko Kurama's past, his death and rebirth and the startling attachment he had formed to her, and Yusuke talked of what Shuichi had really been doing the past years as he claimed to be going to academic training camps, killing demons and nearly being killed by them. They had ended by telling her that it was a demon who had kidnapped her son.

No--no, that hadn't been the end of the conversation. It had only felt like the end for to Shiori, when the utter terror of the thought swallowed her so completely it was like being under Hiei's Jagan again. But the boys went on to assure her that he was being looked for.

"The thing is," she remembered Yusuke saying, "ever since Kuwabara went back to school and gave up this business Kurama's been an entire third of our team. And until he's found Hiei and I have nothing to do but look for him. We're not taking on new missions until our team is intact. So the humans can give up, Koenma can give up, everyone else who's looking can give up and we still won't stop searching until we find him. You had to know so you didn't go looking for him yourself. You had to know that someone is already on the hunt--two someones who have the best shot of finding him." Hiei's Eye glowed meaningfully. "We'll bring him back."

That had been months ago, and she hadn't seen or heard from them since. She hadn't told her husband, too overwhelmed with the burden of knowledge of everything her son had done, both in this life and the last, to want to share it. But the visit had given her hope. The young men seemed sincere in what they said, that they wouldn't stop searching until Shuichi had been found, even if it took years. And then today--the ninety seventh since she had seen her son--Yusuke had come to her door again. His appearance had been haggard and windswept, with a grim set to his face. He told her that Shuichi had been found and was at a retreat in the mountains, and that was as far as he had gotten before Shiori had demanded to be taken to him.

The only mode of transportation available was Yusuke's motorcycle, so Shiori had climbed on, and now the terror of the ride was only adding to the bile already rising in her throat. "Yusuke, tell me what's happened. Not telling me only makes my mind go wild with terrible imaginings. I need to know what my son has gone through."

Yusuke slowed the bike. "I honestly can't tell you. He hasn't been conscious. All I can tell you is that the demon who did this to him is dead." He pulled over. "This is as far as the road goes. We'll have to walk from here."

He held out his hand to help Shiori off the bike, and she continued clinging to it after she was standing. "Yusuke--take me to him."

Yusuke nodded, and lead her into the forest.