Genkai, Toguro 'Otouto,' and the rest of the shebang are nothing to o with me. Except I like Genkai. And I liked Toguro in his original appearance in the rescuing-Yukina sequence and again after he dies.

For the two mentions of WWII in a fantasy setting like this one I apologize, but Genkai definitely lived through it and approximated subtraction put it around the same time as the first Tournament won by a Team Toguro, which I seem to have put in 1940. So I mentioned, because it fit and provided historical grounding. Actually have no idea if radios were common in Japan in the late 1930's, but what the heck. Tiny kick-ass women with huge eyes aren't common anywhere or when.

"Toguro, you useless bastard!" I screamed. I hardly ever scream, and there was no one to hear me then and there, so I put every ounce of rage and strength in my body into this one. And it may be a little body, but it has a lot of rage and strength crammed into it.

I would never understand it, I told myself. I would never even try to understand it, just in case I managed it and started to forgive him a little. After we fought so hard to get through that damn tournament those jokers in suits and the ones with spikes and extra eyes dragged us into, he does this. After we lost Kaemon, after Moebi's mind was split open like a ripe melon so he might not have died but he'll never really live again. After we fought so hard.

Toguro, you did this. When I wanted nothing more than to go back to the world I belonged in – we all belonged in – you turned around and had yourself made part of theirs. What happened to hand-rolled smokes in the city, on top of those new tall buildings? What happened to sparring with your friends until someone falls down and can't get up and then you drag him by the ends of his hakama up the stairs and leave him on the porch while everyone else drinks inside? What happened to throwing things at the radio when the government people talk about the war in China? What happened to your cats? Do you expect your neighbor to look after all of them permanently?

I screamed again, more quietly this time and strained through my teeth, and aimed my index finger at the chain holding the punching bag to the ceiling, fired, then leapt across the room. The bag suffered a solid kick, a right, an uppercut, and another kick driving from my heel before I let it fall to the ground. I imagined it as Toguro. He'd land at least that heavily.

His big brother was always scum, but I'd had faith in the younger one. So when the three of us were left, standing there in the ring with pieces of dead demon scattered across the arena, and the crowd not even screaming in rage, so shocked were they that the guest team, the humans, could have won the tournament; and the representative of management asked us what we wanted for our boon, and I spat at his feet and said it was to never have to be involved in another of these tournaments again, it never occurred to me to worry what Toguro might ask. Not until he said it. Not until he made that wish, and the crowd went wild.

He walked out. On everything he'd ever been, he walked out. I didn't want to understand it. I didn't want to believe it.

Power, Toguro, is that all that matters? Is that why you did it? When you, as an angry young human avenging what had been taken from you could rip through the thing you've patterned yourself after and hold up its bleeding head? Are you that stupid? Or was it time you were afraid of? I told you, I told you, everyone grows old, we'd both… I can't believe I said something as mushy to a man as I said to you then.

It doesn't matter. What you did was selling them out, Toguro. I visited your dojo once, not that long before the tournament, and I met some of those kids that got spread all over the walls. You remember them? Mahiro, Katsuya, Omi, Tetsumaru, Hirashaku? Do you remember the look on your face when you knocked at my door the next day because the creature who'd killed them had told you I was supposed to be on the team, too?

Toguro, you useless fool. What kind of power do you think you've gotten this way? Do you think it's cheap power? Do you even realize what you paid?

I don't care. It doesn't matter what he did to himself. I'm the only one screaming about it, aren't I?

And I went on kicking the bag while it was down.

I still don't know exactly what his brother had himself turned into, and I don't care, but the sight of the two of them seeing me off after the tournament was over - a last nod between teammates that I acted as if I wasn't even seeing - was so sickening. The elder had his body sort of flattened out, with his face hovering at the end of a distended neck near his brother's crazily swollen shoulder. The younger didn't have any shirts big enough to cover that ridiculous muscle mass, especially when it would keep writhing and bulging and swelling to even larger dimensions, so he wasn't wearing one. His body had just started to add another layer of muscle when I boarded. So that was the last I saw of them before the ship tacked left and they were behind and out of sight. A pair of monsters.

As far as I'm concerned, I was the only one on our team who made it through that tournament alive.

And then I went home and stayed there, beating up the walls and the punching bags, and the local demon population whenever I wanted something that would give at least a little resistance. But after a while it faded. Things go on. I was famous, and got more famous. I trained a few students, not many. Never a full dojo. I moved with the times, got to be killer at video games, and ignored a world war that dropped torrents of fire upon our heads. No one firebombs a strategically useless piece of forest. And more people died. And I got older.

And then Toguro sent that ki-rin fruit to tell me my little protégée is about to go face the same hell we did, except that we were ten years older and had been training much longer. He's going to need a lot of training. It's going to take all I can give to bring him through this alive. Maybe this trial by fire is going to be the thing he needs to grow up. It had sure as hell better be. Because I know two things for sure: Toguro is going to be there.

And I am going to die.