I guess I'm getting married.
If you were to ask me, (and for the record, no one is,) I'd say that I am in a relationship, moving in a direction that may lead to marriage someday, but with no plans made as of yet. But, everyone's asking Maya, and to her, we're getting married. As soon as I cave in, that is.
I was a little bit upset by this, but as she put it to me, "You drugged me and wiped my mind, Shuichi, so just shut up."
Yusuke thinks the whole thing is hilarious, but has attempted to reign in his mockery of my romantic history in light of the fact that I can kill him very, very easily. We're the only two in our group who have never traded blows, and I'm not positive who would win if we did, but Yusuke knows that even if he won the fight, I'd still have dealt him enough damage that living would be very, very painful for him.
Yukina and I aren't fighting anymore. It wasn't quite as simple as the make-up conversation she had with Yusuke, but hearing she was sorry made me willing to listen to her properly. The first time she explained herself, we were both furious and she was attacking me with snowballs. This time was much more rational.
Of course, I made it clear in no uncertain terms that if she meddled in my affairs again, I would turn her into fertilizer. She smiled demurely and looked over at Yusuke, who was in the middle of trying to repair the rift between him and Keiko. I was hoping that it had nothing to do with me, but somehow, I doubted it. Yukina laughed.
"Isn't meddling in each other's affairs what friends are for?" And she turned away, leaving me with old memories of a mirror and a lonely hospital rooftop.
So, now that Yukina, Yusuke and I have made nice, the rest of the company is willing to treat us with a little less callous disdain, and the situation is calming down. I thought we were going to have a problem with Hiei, but once Kuwabara dropped the house on him, I think he realized he was in no shape to be fighting.
Now he's in Yusuke's kitchen making brownies with Yukina. I think the parameters of my world have exploded.
Yusuke's apartment is much smaller than my house was, but we were running out of options, and Atsuko was the only one willing to let us in after all the destruction we've caused. In the past few years, her apartment has been set on fire, sniped, invaded by countless demons and survived all sorts of raucous parties. I guess there's not much more we can do to it, and Yusuke thinks she could probably use her connections to get herself a new place if we trashed it too bad.
As I'm still recovering, (though I do have my lung back, thanks to the combined efforts of Kamiya and Koenma,) I'm in Yusuke's room, where my parents are lecturing me endlessly.
And I'm grounded.
I'm a grown adult, with a job, capable of making my own decisions and a centuries old fox demon besides, and the two of them are grounding me! I'm not sure if they can do that, or how they plan to enforce it, but it's absolutely humiliating that they would try.
Not as humiliating as Yomi seeing me sob like a child, but it's up there.
One good thing about the lack of space is that we were able to clear most of the unwanted guests out. Yomi, Mukuro and Yusuke's minions all left, with more blackmail material than they'll ever be able to use up in their lifetimes, and Botan and Koenma left once they decided it wouldn't be worth the effort to press charges against anybody. Shizuru has graciously decided to help Kaito home after Yukina froze him to keep him from turning on his territory. I saw the way Kaito was looking at her when they left, and it's given me a few ideas to implement in the coming days.
Revenge, my friends, will be drawn out and sweet.
But to explain what's going on, since it's been a long time since anyone was able to put sense to this, we did all get out of jail. Genkai and Koenma managed to get the police to drop charges (or forget, I'm not sure which,) provided we paid the bail money, which was fronted by Yukina. I was skeptical about where she got the money, but she has a skill with making ice sculptures that's turned from a hobby into a reasonably lucrative side business. In fact, she had made a lovely centerpiece for my mother's wedding.
From there, we returned to my house, where I promptly informed Shuichi that if he dared to step foot into the kitchen this time, I was going to go fox demon and drop kick him into next week. Yukina took over meal duties while everyone else sniped at each other, and Yusuke and I tried very hard to stay out of it all.
As you can imagine, it was a futile effort, and everyone managed to corner me at one point or another to put in their two cents on the issue. I eventually let myself get commandeered by Maya, because she was one of the few people that didn't hate me and I felt we needed to get some things straight. Of course, once she got me visualizing her in wedding gowns, I realized that my mind had not yet found a way to detach emotions when it came to her. I found myself halfheartedly wishing for some dream-flower pollen.
The wish was no longer halfhearted after my step-father punched Yomi in the face and laid him flat on the floor. Were I in possession of some, I would have promptly used it on myself. "And don't you ever say that about him again!"
If I were half as smart as I like people thinking I am, I would have prepared for battle, because I couldn't see any way that Yomi wouldn't retaliate and beat poor Hatanaka to a pulp. But I was stunned into silence, and in my moment of weakness, forgot to keep an eye out for my mother. Due to the constant running and fighting for my life, I hadn't really been able to observe how she was taking this.
I tried not to panic when I saw standing in front of me. "Hey, mom."
"Shuichi." And the look in her eyes demanded that I confess all, even though Yukina had already done so. "Should I even call you that, anymore?"
My heart dropped. "I..." I had often gone over this scenario in my mind, but I had never come up with a way to apologize without making me sound completely heartless. "I didn't mean..." To what? To hurt her? I had been planning to leave once my powers returned, what did I think she would feel when her ten year old son just left and was never heard from again? And upon deciding to stay, what about all the times I've been placed in danger, possibly dying somewhere far, far away and never saying goodbye? Haven't I always known she would find out the truth, one way or another?
In light of me not saying anything remotely intelligent, my mother continued. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I thought it was best not to." Her eyes narrowed.
"You thought it was best?" What did I say wrong? Granted, there probably wasn't much I could say right, but I was telling the truth, abridged as it was. I didn't want her to be scared, or hurt, disappointed, bereft...
And most of all, I wanted to be human. More than anything I didn't want her to be, I wanted to be her son. I wanted to be human.
But I'm not, and that's never going to change, nor do I really want it to go away completely."I thought you would be happier that way. I'm sorry to have lied, and that you had to find out like this..." If I ever fantasized about telling her before, none of the scenarios had ever involved so much destruction. "I'm sorry I hurt you, but I thought you'd be happier no knowing."
Shockingly, she actually growled. "I am so sick of this!" It was all but a hiss, and I stepped back, alarmed. "Always acting like you're superior, like you're so much smarter than the rest of us!" Her terrifying fury was slowly drawing the attention of everyone in the room, and I felt myself growing smaller by the second. For a fleeting moment, I actually wondered if she was going to kill me, and if I would dare to defend myself if she did. "Like we're inferior and too stupid to keep up with you!" I couldn't protest, for it was fairly true.
But I thought I'd be imbecilic, and try anyway. Because as a legendary fox demon, I've never been big on humility. "I don't think you're stupid..."
"Just not as smart as you." I shut up. "You thought I'd never suspect that you were sneaking out of the house, or that you were hurt and in trouble, or that you were constantly lying to me, right?"
"Well, you didn't," I pointed out meekly.
"I changed your diapers, Shuichi! Don't you dare give me that attitude!"
To my left, Yomi was lifting himself off the floor, and Hiei was waking up. But in that moment I was so shocked and surprised by current events, and overwhelmed by everything that had happened so far that I couldn't take action or thought. I felt like such a helpless, human child, and something I had been suppressing all these long years finally broke to the surface.
I broke down and cried like a baby.
That did end the argument flat, and everyone but Kuwabara and Hiei were looking away awkwardly. I'm not sure what exactly those two were doing, but it didn't take long for them to start a full scale fight, and once Yomi got to his feet, the drama doubled. As I was busy being emotional, and Yusuke was trying to find Keiko, it fell to Yukina to stop the fighting and defend the house.
Hiei surrendered on the spot, and Yomi discovered how opportune it would be for him to just step down and back out of my life for five minutes. Kuwabara, however, was in the midst of swinging his spirit sword, and in his surprise, lost control and took out the far wall. The building didn't hold up too well after that.
But, believe it or not, it was a catalyst that allowed us to calm down. Finally, finally, people stopped assuming Maya and I were getting married and let me get a word in edgewise. Yomi actually shook my stepfather's hand and complimented him as he left, and Hiei and Kuwabara finally have stopped fighting long enough to have the situation explained in full. And while neither of them are particularly happy about it, I do think they're adjusting.
I wouldn't say I'm all that happy about things myself. But, I still have my family, punished as I may be, Hiei hasn't killed anyone yet, and I'm dating my junior high crush. There are worst outcomes to be had with something like this.
I'm still never letting Yukina near another cell phone.
But no harm, no foul, as the saying goes. Not that there's truly been 'no harm' done, it does seem that all the necessary retribution has been paid, and we are gradually returning to a good state. Yusuke even managed to get back into Keiko's good graces, something that forgiving Yukina probably helped a long way towards.
Keiko approached me on our way to Yusuke's apartment, while things were still chaotic and before my parents could get to me. "I still can't believe that idiot would do something like this." 'Like this' was very vague, but I understood what she was saying.
"Well, he's Yusuke," I offered, hoping that it was enough of an explanation. In my mind, it was. He was Yusuke, and it was me having the crisis. This should have been somewhat expected. Yusuke, though I still can't believe it for myself, would do just about anything to help me. Including sacrficing his life to a mirror.
But we all want Yusuke's friendship, and it makes us jealous to have him continuously tossing his existence aside on noble whims. Keiko looked at me sideways, and I felt suddenly uncomfortable. The two of us have never really talked much, and I sometimes wonder what she thinks of me. The Dark Tournament probably didn't show off my best sides. "I suppose so." I wasn't sure what to say to clear the air, but she started talking again, and saved me the trouble. "You're the only friend he has that he doesn't get into fights with. You're probably the first friend that he could really talk to."
"And he's mine," I said quietly. The first human friendship I'd ever had, maybe the first true friendship I'd ever had, so perfectly open, trusting, and willing.
"Try to remember that the next time you're about to go postal. I'm not sure I can take another adventure like this." With that, and a small smile, she left. Just when I think I know my friends better than they know themselves, they present to me new and unexpected depths.
It makes life exciting.
Granted, there are some things I'm not sure about, some things that still don't make sense, and a few moments where I have to blink and ask myself what exactly is going on. But, right now, Hiei is marching into the room to inform all sundry that his sister says the food is done.
My friends and family love me, and there are brownies in the kitchen. Figuring out what's going on can wait until later.
Thanks, guys! Hope you enjoyed it, and I appreciate everyone who still remembers this story after that long, um, hiatus... But it's been one heck of a ride writing this, and I'm glad I could finally write the ending that could do it justice. Thank you for the comments, as I'm pleased people have been rolling on the floor as much as I have.