Lightning Strikes on Command... Almost
Note: This takes place first during the time Kurama is training Kuwabara for the Ankoku Bujutsukai, then after the Reikai has eliminated the barrier between the demon and human realms, or in relation to my fic, after Yuubaku Hakusho, which, I'm sorry to say, is still pending. I will say, though, that in Yuuwa Hakusho (also pending) and Yuubaku Hakusho, Kurama's stepbrother and mother learn of his true identity. I promise to get them finished… eventually. – Mist, November 2, 2006.
"Just exactly what have you been saying?" Shuuichi Hatanaka glared at his two best friends. The boys glanced at each other nervously, backed against a wall in the boys' bathroom.
"We didn't mean to..." Naitou stammered. "We just mentioned that we met your future stepbrother..."
"And they asked us what he was like," continued Kuroda, the shortest of the trio, "and... and..."
"... and I said he was tall and had long hair..." said Naitou, "and that moron Uchida said that was freaky... so I told him that it looked good on him..."
"So Uchida started teasing Naitou for thinking that a guy looked good, so he got pissed and blurted out that he wasn't the one who'd been drooling over him..." added Kuroda, glaring at his friend.
"Then Kuroda said that it's because he looked like a girl..." concluded Naitou.
Shuuichi stared at his friends in disbelief. "You two are idiots," he announced. He had spent the better part of the morning dealing with Uchida, the class bully, and his cohorts, who went around announcing that Shuuichi would soon have a "pretty older sister," and that he had better not get involved in "an incestuous relationship."
Great. This was just great...
The only good thing was that come April, he wouldn't have to see many of his classmates any more, since they were bound for different middle schools. But that was still over a month away.
"Well, what do you think?"
Shuuichi stared at the ring. "Woah, so you finally found the ring."
"Yes," said his father. "I hope Shiori-san will like it."
"Shouldn't you be more worried if she'll say 'yes?'" Shuuichi received a glare for the comment. He grinned. "Don't worry, Tousan. It's the thought that counts, right? Besides, all engagement rings pretty much look the same."
"Not to a woman, Shuuichi." The man closed the box and tucked it into his briefcase. "So, I'm going to do it tomorrow night at dinner."
"Cool, can I go home with Kuroda or Naitou after school, then?" He was still annoyed with them, but they were best friends after all...
"Actually, since you've had a chance to meet, I thought you and Shiori-san's Shuuichi-kun could get to know each other better. So you'll be going to the Minamino home after school."
Shuuichi felt a moment of panic. "Is he coming to my school?"
"Well, it's a bit out of his way, but he offered, so he will be meeting you at the school gate. I'll worry less knowing that he'll be going to get you."
"What's there to worry about? Just tell me where the house is, and I'll get there myself," said Shuuichi. What if Uchida should happen to see him?
"No, I don't want Kuroda-kun or Naitou-kun tempting you to go to an arcade after school," his father said, giving him a look. Shuuichi squirmed guiltily. Okay, so I got home a little late a couple of times...
However, having Shuuichi Minamino meet him at school was not a good idea. If he were lucky, maybe the young man would arrive late, and no one would see him... He doubted it, though. His future stepbrother did not seem the type to be late or flaky. Maybe he and his friends could beat up Uchida and lock him up someplace right after school... Right, in my dreams...
As Shuuichi expected, he was unlucky. He was sitting at his desk the next day, listening to the boring drone of the teacher and trying not to fall asleep. There were just fifteen minutes left in the school day. Suddenly, he was startled by a note being passed to him from behind. He opened the small piece of paper discreetly. It was from Naitou whose desk was right by the window.
Guess who's at the gate? - N
Shuuichi's first thought was... great... I just knew it... He grimaced.
"Hatanaka, give me that note, please." The teacher was suddenly standing right in front of him.
Oh, shit! was Shuuichi's second thought.
Nishino Sensei opened the note and gave it a quick glance. He raised an eyebrow. He walked to the window, gave Naitou a look, and looked down towards the gate. He raised his eyebrow once more, turning towards Naitou.
"Naitou, I would like to think that my lesson is more important than a young woman standing in front of the school," the annoyed teacher said. Shuuichi let his head fall against his desk with a groan. It was apparent that the young man outside, for some reason, was not wearing his school uniform.
The room erupted in chaos as students rushed to the window for a look, many guessing by Shuuichi's reaction exactly who was waiting at the gate. Before Nishino could do anything, Uchida, who was at the back end of the room, opened a window and stuck his head out, whistling loudly.
"Hey, pretty lady!" he yelled. The class erupted in laughter and cheers.
The tall figure at the gate looked up towards the second floor classroom. He was wearing a white jacket zipped up to his neck, and loose-fitting black pants that looked almost like a long skirt from the way he was standing. He had a white scarf wrapped around his neck once, with the long ends hanging and blowing a little in the slight wind. His hair was also getting whipped around. He tilted his head to the side as the hollering and cheering continued. Then, he shook his head, possibly in disbelief, and looked away.
Nishino was yelling at the students to return to their seats. They started to do so reluctantly, but some stopped as one of the secretaries came running out of the building towards the figure at the gate. The children watched as the woman spoke to the tall young man and pointed towards Shuuichi's classroom, clearly agitated. She immediately calmed down, however, after the young man said a few words, then ushered him towards the building.
"The secretary's bringing the person inside!" someone exclaimed.
"To your seats! Class is not yet over!" yelled Nishino Sensei. He returned to Shuuichi's desk, where the boy was hoping desperately to be ignored. "I assume you know who that young woman is?"
Shuuichi sank even lower in his chair. "That's my father's girlfriend's son..."
The man let out an exasperated sound. "Hatanaka, I said 'young woman.'"
"No, it's true, Sensei," Naitou spoke up. "That's the one who's going to become Hatanaka's brother."
The confused man looked at Naitou. Then he looked back at Shuuichi. "Your brother? Well, what is he doing here?"
"...I'm supposed to go home with him today because my father won't be home till later."
Nishino absorbed the information, then glanced at the clock. He rolled his eyes. "Alright, settle down. We'll have to finish the lesson another time. Don't forget to copy down the homework assignment on the board. And Arita, you need to take home your sculpture. It's been sitting there for days." The children scrambled to get their bags packed, chatting loudly all the while about Shuuichi's visitor. Nishino sighed in relief when the dismissal bell rang.
The children started to rush out the door in a wave, and abruptly, the wave hit a wall. For a moment, no one moved. Then, there were excited chatterings and giggles from the front of the wave which slowly filtered out into the hallway. Finally, only Shuuichi, his best friends, Uchida and his cohorts, and Nishino were left in the classroom. Uchida started to approach Shuuichi, then stopped as Kuroda looked at the doorway, startled. All eyes went to the doorway as well. The tall young man stepped into the classroom with a smile and approached Nishino. He had unwrapped the scarf and unzipped the jacket. He was wearing a white v-neck shirt underneath.
"Nishino Sensei, I wanted to apologize for the distraction I seemed to have caused your class," he said, his voice soft but his manner confident. "I didn't think anyone would notice me standing out there." He smiled apologetically. "I hope you won't hold it against Hatanaka-kun."
The teacher stammered out a response, stunned by the young man's appearance. "I... it's... no, it's okay... it was not your fault. Or his," he added quickly.
Uchida and his two friends were staring at the tall young man with their mouths hanging open.
"So you will be Hatanaka-kun's brother soon?" inquired Nishino.
"Yes, we believe so," the young man responded with a grin at Shuuichi. "I'm Minamino. Pleased to meet you," he added, smiling at the teacher.
The man smiled hesitantly in return. "Pleased to meet you, too."
"Shuuichi-kun, we shouldn't take any more of your teacher's time. Let's get going." The young man motioned for Shuuichi to leave the classroom. Shuuichi gave his friends a quick goodbye and hurried out of the room, not looking at Uchida. The young man gave the teacher a quick bow and followed.
Shuuichi walked hurriedly down the hall, ignoring the questions the stragglers bombarded him with. The young man caught up and placed a hand on the boy's shoulder. "Shuuichi-kun, I'm sorry. I didn't plan on causing you any embarrassment or getting you into trouble."
The boy stopped and turned towards the taller figure. He opened his mouth, then closed it, looking into the young man's large eyes. His anger and annoyance decreased. He sighed. "It's okay. You didn't do anything wrong." Then he looked the tall figure over. "But next time, come in your school uniform, okay?"
His future stepbrother grinned. "Of course." They began walking again.
"Why aren't you in your uniform? Did you cut school?" Shuuichi asked, although he doubted it. The young man hesitated next to him. "Oh, wow! Did you, really?"
"A friend needed my help," he explained. "And I'd appreciate if you'd refrain from mentioning this to my mother, because it's a private matter."
Shuuichi considered the request. Then shrugged. "Sure thing." He walked alongside the taller figure for several seconds before speaking again. "Actually, it's cool to know you aren't too much of an honor student to cut school."
The young man grinned wryly. "Well, I'm glad you approve of my truancy..." he said, "but I don't recommend imitating me, okay? Not that I have a right to judge you if you do..." he added sheepishly.
The boy gave the young man a sidewise glance, grinning. He had to admit, he was glad his father had arranged for him to spend the evening with Shuuichi Minamino. Already, he was liking the young man more than when they had first met. Which was a good thing, since he was certain that their parents would be engaged before the day was over. It seemed that the young man next to him had the same feeling. And he wasn't voicing any opposition to the idea of ending up with Shuuichi as his younger brother.
Definitely a good sign.
"Well? How'd it go?" Kuroda demanded back at school. Shuuichi gave the shorter boy a questioning look. "Hanging out with that guy, Hatanaka!" Kuroda gave Shuuichi an exasperated look.
"Oh... It was cool. We stopped by a bookstore, then we went to his house. He made dinner, we played video games, then our parents returned from their date, and I went home with my father. Oh, and they're officially engaged now."
"And?" encouraged Naitou.
"And they'll be getting married in the fall."
Naitou rolled his eyes. "No, I mean, about hanging out with your future brother!"
"And, what?" Shuuichi asked. "What are you expecting?"
"I don't know," mumbled Naitou, "It's just that he's so... different..."
"So maybe we were just expecting something more interesting, or unusual," said Kuroda.
"Or," came a voice from a few yards away, "maybe they want more details about your date with the pretty boy?" The trio turned to see Uchida standing there, an amused look on his face. His two cohorts were standing slightly behind him, also grinning.
Unconsciously, Shuuichi clenched his fists, the fingernails digging into his palms. Uchida had been bullying him the whole year, but there had been nothing he could do about it. The large boy had never actually laid a finger on him, so Shuuichi couldn't complain of being beat up by the boy. But Uchida harassed him and his best friends relentlessly for no real reason that Shuuichi could think of. Then again, Uchida was generally mean to almost everyone in the class...
But this time, Shuuichi took it personally, possibly because the bully wasn't mistaken in calling his future stepbrother "pretty." And because of the implications behind Uchida's words. Before he could consider the repercussions, Shuuichi spoke.
"At least he's not an ugly bully who will never even get a date."
The fist hit him in the face even before he could blink. The next moment, Shuuichi was sitting on the floor, having hit the hard surface very forcefully. A female classmate who had just stepped into the hall screamed piercingly.
Kuroda and Naitou launched themselves at Uchida. Fortunately, a teacher came out, alerted by the girl's scream, and put a stop to the brave but foolish attempt. He grabbed Uchida by the collar and pushed him in the direction of the staff room.
"You, Uchida, wait for me in the staff room."
Uchida snarled at Shuuichi who was still sitting on the floor, then turned and stomped down the hall.
Shuuichi reached up and felt the blood that was running from his nose. He narrowed his eyes at the retreating figure. I'll get you some day, you bastard...
"Some day" was a long time coming, but it came, nonetheless. Two years later, Shuuichi and Kurama, for he now knew that was the young man's true name, were shopping together for their father's birthday gift. It was a cool spring day, but the sky was clear and it was a Sunday, so the streets and shops were crowded.
"Kurama?" The brothers heard a voice from behind. They turned to see Kuwabara's head peeking above the crowd. They stopped and waited as the tall youth approached with Yukina.
"Kuwabara-kun, Yukina-chan," smiled Kurama. "Are you two shopping, too?"
The ice maiden smiled shyly. "No, Kazuma-san suggested that we go out because I've spent most of my time indoors since coming to live at his home."
"Yeah," grinned Kuwabara, "it's becoming more common to see obvious demons around here, so I thought it wouldn't hurt her."
"Well, except for her hair, she could easily pass as human, so I'm sure she'll be safe," said Kurama.
Yukina was dressed not in her usual kimono but in a blouse and a long floral skirt. She made a cute pair with Kuwabara who was dressed in a loud patterned shirt, a light-colored blazer, and baggy pants with big boots.
"And Kazuma-san will protect me if there is a problem," said Yukina, giving the tall man a radiant smile.
"What are you guys up to?" Kuwabara asked.
"Tousan's birthday is coming up," said Shuuichi, "so we're looking for a gift."
"Yeah? Well, good luck. I'm going to take Yukina-san to a cafe." Kuwabara gave Kurama a mock salute, smiled at Shuuichi, then walked away with Yukina, who turned to give the brothers a quick wave.
Shuuichi and Kurama started to walk as well, but were stopped by a voice yet again.
"Well, well, well, if it isn't Hatanaka and his girlfriend."
Shuuichi flinched at the familiar voice. It had been two years since he had last seen Uchida, and the voice was slightly deeper now, but he recognized it immediately.
"Uchida," he spat out the name as he turned to face the boy who had grown slightly wider but looked more or less the same. The nasty snarl was still there.
"A friend?" Kurama inquired casually, although he could tell that there was nothing but animosity between the two boys.
"Classmate from sixth grade," responded Shuuichi, not taking his eyes off of Uchida.
Uchida, in turn, was staring at Kurama. Now eighteen, Kurama had lost some of the softness he had two years ago, but the flawless skin and smooth jaw line were still there, and he was still regularly mistaken for a young woman. He was dressed in a long-sleeved white shirt with the top two buttons undone and not tucked in at the waist, slim dark jeans, and black loafers without socks. Uchida snorted. Without a winter jacket, the young man looked even more like a woman, slender and frail. Well, minus the breasts...
Kurama glanced at his stepbrother. "One of the classmates you'd like to introduce to my friends..." he said lightly.
Shuuichi took his eyes off of Uchida and grinned at the tall young man. "Definitely." Your friends when they're feeling particularly nasty and demonic...
"Makoto, what's up?" a young man asked as he came out of a convenience store and joined the group. He was unwrapping a new packet of cigarettes.
Uchida looked up at the new arrival. "Hey, Niisan, this is the classmate I used to tell you about. The one with the girly brother," he sneered, looking again at Kurama.
"Hn, the pretty one, huh?" The older Uchida looked at Kurama as well, a nasty smile on his lips. Then he frowned slightly. "Hey, you look familiar..."
Kurama smiled slowly. "I should have seen the family resemblance. Masato Uchida, it's been almost three years."
The older brother tilted his head, still frowning. He couldn't remember any middle school classmate with long hair. He looked more closely at the slender figure's face. Those eyes... He narrowed his eyes warily. "Minamino?"
"I see bullying runs in the family," Kurama grinned, crossing his arms across his chest.
Shuuichi looked up at his stepbrother. Uchida's brother bullied Niisan? He shook his head mentally. No, there was no way Kurama would put up with being bullied. He looked at the older Uchida who stood staring at Kurama nervously. Shuuichi smiled perceptively.
"You went to the same middle school?" he asked his stepbrother.
Kurama nodded. "Yes, and I can see you haven't forgotten me, Uchida. How's that arm doing these days?"
The older Uchida flinched. Shuuichi almost laughed. I knew it!
"What, Niisan? What's he talking about?" the younger Uchida asked, confused.
"It's nothing, Makoto, forget about it," the older brother grunted. "Let's get going."
"Wait, Niisan, I'm not done here. C'mon, let's have some fun."
The older Uchida grabbed his brother's arm. "I said, no. Don't mess with that one." He tried to drag the boy away.
"What?! He's just a pretty boy!"
Shuuichi looked at Kurama with a wicked grin. "Say, Niisan, you'll tell me what this is about, right?"
"Oh, I don't really want to embarrass Uchida," said Kurama, returning the grin.
"Embarrass? What's he talking about?" the younger Uchida asked.
"Figure it out, Uchida. My brother beat up your brother back in middle school," laughed Shuuichi.
"That's a lie!" exclaimed Uchida, rushing for Shuuichi, arm cocked. He was stopped by a firm grip on his arm. He looked up into Kurama's eyes.
"I'd really prefer if you not hit my brother," Kurama said softly, his voice giving no hint of the strength in his grip.
"Makoto, let's go," insisted the older Uchida. The younger brother glared back, disbelief in his eyes.
"Are you kidding, Niisan? This pretty boy's trying to tell me what to do!" He smacked his brother on the arm. "Tell me it's a lie! There's no way he could have beaten you up."
His brother didn't respond. But his eyes widened as he noted the approach of two figures.
"Yo, Kurama, having a problem?" the immensely tall young man asked.
"Kuwabara-kun," Kurama looked up at the young man.
"We saw you guys from the cafe window," he nodded across the street, "and I thought you might need help."
Kurama raised an eyebrow. "Kuwabara-kun, they're only humans."
"Right," laughed Kuwabara. "Sorry. It's easy to forget that you can kick ass."
"What the hell are you guys talking about!" shouted the younger Uchida angrily, although he looked at Kuwabara nervously.
Meanwhile, his brother was looking at Kuwabara in shock. "Kuwabara? Of Sarayashiki Middle School?"
Kuwabara glanced at the taller Uchida. "Yeah, used to go there. What, you've heard of me?"
"Shit, Makoto, c'mon. Let's get out of here. He was Sarayashiki's number two thug!"
Kuwabara looked offended. "Number two? Number two!?"
Kurama laughed. "I know you've never beaten Yuusuke, Kuwabara-kun."
The older Uchida looked seriously panicked now as Kurama casually mentioned the infamous Urameshi by first name. "Come on, Makoto! Don't you get it? Minamino did beat me up, and he even knows the notorious Urameshi of Sarayashiki Middle School!"
Once again, Kuwabara looked offended. "Hey, what about me?" Then he paused. "What? Kurama, you beat him up? I thought you didn't fight humans."
The young Uchida was thoroughly confused now with the second unusual reference. "What the hell are you talking about? What do you mean, humans? And why the hell do you keep calling him by that name?"
Shuuichi laughed. He was so enjoying this. "Don't you watch the news, Uchida? Or are you totally clueless? There are demons among us."
Uchida turned on Shuuichi with a snarl. "Yeah, I've heard that crap on the news. It's all just a bunch of freaks who want attention. There're no such things as demons."
"Kazuma-san, am I a freak?" Yukina asked timidly. The Uchidas turned to look at her, having ignored her until then. They noted the unusual hair and eyes...
"Of course, not, Yukina-san!" exclaimed Kuwabara. "You are a wonderful, lovely, charming, warm-hearted..."
"Kuwabara-kun," Kurama sighed. Kuwabara shut his mouth in a sheepish grin.
"You're saying that she's a demon?" the older Uchida asked, curiousity mixed in the slightly mocking tone.
His younger brother smacked him again. "Never mind that, Niisan! This pretty boy beat you up?!" he demanded, returning to the more important matter. "I don't believe it! It couldn't have been a fair fight!"
"It wasn't," admitted Kurama. "It was three against one. Your brother didn't have a chance."
"I knew it!" exclaimed the younger Uchida. "You ganged up on my brother."
Kurama smiled apologetically. "Actually, I was the one fighting against three. Your brother and his friends ambushed me because they were annoyed with my grades and popularity with the teachers and girls."
Shuuichi laughed, delighted. This was going so perfectly. Kuwabara laughed as well. "What? This poor fool tried to ambush you with his friends? Well, they deserved whatever you gave them." He looked down at the older Uchida. "What were you thinking, attacking Kurama? He could beat the crap out of you in his sleep!" He laughed again.
"I don't believe it!" yelled the younger Uchida again.
"Believe it, Uchida," said Shuuichi. "My brother hunts demons. What chance does your poor brother have against him?"
"Shuu-kun," Kurama sighed. "You know that's not true." Uchida narrowed his eyes at Shuuichi. "At least not anymore." Uchida's eyes widened. He stared at the slender young man as if he were crazy. His older brother grabbed his arm again.
"Makoto, come on! I'm serious. You don't want to mess with Minamino. He's trouble."
Kurama laughed. "Well, I haven't ever been called that by a human." He turned his gaze on the younger Uchida, a smile on his lips. "But your brother is right. You don't want to make me angry."
The boy stared at the beautiful young man. He looked even more delicate standing next to the burly Kuwabara, but now Uchida could hear the confidence in the soft voice and see the threat in the gentle smile. He looked at his brother who was gesturing with his head to leave. He then looked at Shuuichi who was grinning smugly. Uchida was filled with the sudden urge to wipe that grin off of the boy's face.
Without warning, he rushed for Shuuichi again, intending to smash his fist in the grinning face. A swift motion stopped him, a hand grabbing him by the collar and lifting him off of the ground. Shocked, he stared into narrowed eyes as the slender young man held him a foot above the ground with one hand. Kurama wasn't smiling this time.
"I told you. You don't want to make me angry." He released his hold, causing the boy to fall backwards and stumble into his brother. "Go. Before I do something I'll later regret."
The boy stared at the stern young man in disbelief. How could this pretty boy just lift him off of the ground? How could he have beaten up three classmates alone? How could he have hunted demons and made friends with bullies even more notorious than his brother? This just wasn't possible.
He took a long look into the large eyes. Abruptly, he felt a chill. For a brief moment, he had seen a hint of a merciless ruthlessness, hidden deep within those beautiful eyes. Instantly, he understood that this was a young man who didn't make empty threats...
For the first time in his life, Makoto Uchida felt fear towards another person. He glanced at his older brother and saw his fear mirrored in the young man's eyes. Without a word, the Uchida brothers turned and ran away, jostling through the crowd to get as far away as quickly as possible.
Shuuichi burst out laughing. "Oh, Niisan, I have waited years to get back at Uchida! That was awesome!"
Kurama sighed. "Shuu-kun, I'd rather not repeat an incident like that. I don't want to have to hurt a human."
"I know, Niisan. Sorry. But he bullied me non-stop about you, and he's the one who whistled at you from the classroom that time." He paused. "And he punched me and gave me a nosebleed."
"He punched you?"
"Yeah, I got mad and insulted him because he was calling you a pretty boy and hinting that we were dating..."
Kurama rolled his eyes. "While I appreciate you standing up for my honor, it's not a smart move to insult someone you can't hope to beat." He sighed. "And he wouldn't be the first to make comments like that."
"Right. Sorry, Niisan."
Kurama placed a hand on the boy's head and ruffled his hair affectionately. "No harm done, I suppose," he smiled.
"You could always cut your hair, Kurama," Kuwabara suggested. "And bulk up a little."
The young man raised his eyebrows at his friend. "I have no intention of, nor need to, bulk up. As for my hair," he tilted his head, "I'd originally grown it so I could retain at least one of my former traits... but now that I'm able to change..." He sighed. "I'll keep it in mind."
"You shouldn't have to change yourself for others, Niisan," Shuuichi said wisely. His stepbrother grinned and ruffled his hair again.
"You're absolutely right. Now let's go find Tousan's gift. We've wasted enough time."
They said goodbye to Kuwabara and Yukina and started down the sidewalk once more, with the other pair heading in the other direction. The gawking crowd that had witnessed the incident parted nervously to let both pairs pass through. Shuuichi grinned, immensely pleased with the results of the incident.
Revenge is sweet!
Now if he could only get his all-mighty stepbrother to do his homework for him and take his high school entrance exams next year...