The second time around

A/N: my contribution to the much-neglected canon pairing of Shizuru and Sakyou. One of the more interesting YYH couples, in my opinion. And nobody seems to have written this angle, which I find surprising.

It was with some amusement that Botan observed that Shizuru's spirit still had a cigarette in her mouth. She eyed the accident scene before her dispassionately.

'I don't suppose you're here to give me the same spiel you gave Urameshi,' she mumbled, not turning to face the reaper who had come up behind her.

Botan started. She'd forgotten how acute Shizuru's senses were – all of them. 'Um, no, I don't think so. This is your time, that's all.'

'Heh.' She scrubbed a hand through her honey-brown hair (unstreaked by the gray that had crept in over the years, Shizuru had asserted control over her spirit self rather faster than most) and faced Botan. 'Right. Ready to go.'

'What, that's it? You don't want to tell anyone goodbye or anything?'

'What's the point?' Shizuru asked reasonably. 'They wouldn't hear me, and I can't stand all that sentimental crap anyway.'

'Oh.' Botan was slightly struck by the logic. 'Oh. Okay.'


Shizuru was silent through the trip back to the Reikai. There wasn't any point in saying anything; Botan already knew, and she'd be delivering the news to the others as soon as she'd dropped Shizuru off; the ferry girl was a friend of sorts, after all.

She then proceeded to get her papers and very nearly gave several ogres heart attacks by addressing Koenma as 'hey' and smoking in the office.

What could they do, kill her?

'Well,' Koenma said, 'you've got an option. You can either spend your time here in the afterlife or apply for reincarnation–'

'Reincarnation,' Shizuru interrupted.

Koenma frowned, which looked far more impressive in his current teenaged form. 'That's strange,' he said contemplatively. 'He told me you'd say that.'

'My brother?' she asked.

'No. Someone else.' Koenma hesitated. 'All right then. You'll be reincarnated at a time of your choosing.' He stamped her papers. 'Good luck, Shizuru.'


'Oh, and Shizuru?' she looked back. 'You've got a visitor.'

An eyebrow rose. Kazuma was here already?

She opened the door, stepped out into the nearly deserted hallway, and the spirit form of what had been her heart stopped dead in her chest before speeding faster than it had in years.

He leaned against the wall, still in that black suit, pretty blue eyes and scarred face exactly as she remembered. 'Hi,' he said simply.

Shizuru sighed. 'I might have known,' she grumbled. 'It had to be you.'

'I'm glad,' he replied, smiling. 'Do you still have my lighter?'

'Yeah. Or I used to – I'm kind of dead now.' She scrubbed at her eyes, out of exhaustion and something else. 'It still works, you know.'

'Does it? That's quite impressive.'

'Why did you want to see me?'

'Why not catch up with an old friend?' he asked mildly.

'An old friend you met a grand total of three times,' she reminded. 'Points for effort in pursuing a relationship. If that is what you were trying to do.'

'Yes. And I would have if we'd had the time.'

'Yeah, in between you trying to kill my friends, you saving my life and you dying a rather pointless death.'

'You cried for me, didn't you?'

She blinked.

'You know, nobody's ever cried for me before or after. Cursed me, but never cried for me. Granted, I didn't do much to deserve it.'

'You were the resident psycho at the Dark Tournament,' she batted back. 'Except for Karasu, who took stalking to new and disturbing levels. Oh, and you'll be glad to know that Ani Toguro and Sensui tried to carry out your plan.'

'Did they?' he looked genuinely intrigued. 'Did it work?'

'Obviously not, or I'd have been here a lot sooner.'

'You haven't changed a bit, have you?'

She looked down at herself and then at him. 'Guess not. You?'

'Hmm,' he said contemplatively.

'What did they do to you?' she asked, knowing she wouldn't like the answer. 'I don't think they just let you off with a slap on the wrist.'

'Hell,' he said quietly. 'One of the worse places. I'm not a good man, Shizuru.'

'I know that. How long?'

He looked away for the first time. 'Time is irrelevant in these places. I've served my sentence already, and that's all I want to say about it.'

I'm sorry, she would have said, but he looked back at her evenly, as if daring her to say it, and it would have been hypocritical of her to say it anyway. 'So what do you have in mind next?'

'Reincarnation,' he said. 'Koenma authorised it. I'll be on my way in a few hours. I'm guessing you applied for reincarnation too?'

'From what I've seen of the Reikai, and I've seen a lot of it, it's not someplace I want to spend more time than I have to.' Ogres, paperwork and fluffy magenta clouds. She shuddered. 'No, I'm happier off where I can have some fun.'

'I see,' he said thoughtfully. 'You do realise that certain…connections…do maintain themselves over lives. Unfinished business, or a deep bond. And you did keep the lighter.'

'I hoped,' she replied. 'Maybe it was enough.'

'Perhaps. Will you come with me?'

'I didn't think you needed to ask.'

He looked more serious than she'd ever seen him. 'I'm not who I appeared to be when I was with you. There's more evil in me than you might anticipate.'

'I was listening when you spoke to Toguro. I know about the Black Chapters. And I'm still here.'

'I might still be…that way…even after being reborn.'

'You do that and I'll kick your ass, Sakyou. I can do it too, and you know it.'

'Yes, you probably can,' he acknowledged. 'I was never much of a fighter. A killer, but not a fighter.'

'And even so…I don't care,' she said quietly.

He exhaled slowly and reached for her hand. 'Then perhaps we can see what we can make of life, together.'

She took it. 'We do seem to meet in shadowy hallways, don't we?'

'It would be interesting to see if that happens again.'

For the first time in years, a real smile, giddy with relief and hope and blossoming joy, inched its way onto Kuwabara Shizuru's face. 'Hell no.'

He frowned. 'Oh?'

'Yeah. I promised my mother I wouldn't run away with a man whose first name I didn't know.'

'Ah,' he said sagely. 'That's easily remedied. But you'll have to wait until we meet again.'

And they began to laugh.