The suitability of suitors

A/N: herein can be found the reason I get annoyed when people flame Hatanaka. Does anyone really believe Kurama wouldn't have quietly disposed of anyone who was obnoxious/violent/unfaithful/whatever? Considering how protective he is of Shiori, I'd say that Hatanaka has to be some sort of saint to have got to the wedding.

Shuuichi was twelve when Shiori first realised why her love life had taken a definite downswing since her husband's death. She supposed she should have noticed earlier, but her son had the best poker face (in three worlds, not that she knew that) she had ever seen, and he was so well-behaved, it was a little hard to believe when her date accused her of having a 'strange son'.

'Why, what did he do?' she asked him, mildly surprised.

He wiped at his forehead. 'He smiled at me,' he mumbled.

'Ah,' she said politely, hoping he would realise that that didn't mean she understood at all.

He didn't elaborate further, and excused himself soon after. Puzzled, Shiori went home, determined to find out what had happened. 'Shuuichi?' she called.

'Coming, mom!' and he ran down the stairs, quick and sure-footed but absolutely silent. She'd been rather unnerved by his silence when he was young, but she was used to it by now.

'What did you say to him?'

'To whom, mom?'

'My date.'

'Nothing,' he said cheerfully. Too cheerfully, something small and suspicious in Shiori noted. 'Did he leave already? I thought he was taking you out for dinner.'

'No, he said he had some – Shuuichi, did you say something to him?'

'I didn't,' he said with the perfect mix of outrage and bewilderment. 'You can ask the babysitter if you want.'

She would normally have taken her son's word, since he rarely lied outright, but the nagging feeling that there was something she was missing prompted her to ask the babysitter.

'He didn't say anything,' the teenager said, wringing her handkerchief. 'But he looked at your date, and he, well, he smiled.'

'And?' Shiori prompted gently.

'And that's all. But he…well, I can't really describe it, but it was a creepy smile.' Wring, wring, the delicate embroidery twisting nervously. Shiori gave up and dismissed her for the night.


When Kurama was ten, he realised that his mother was – horror of horrors – intending to date again.

He wasn't like other human children, of course – he wasn't revolted by the notion of sex, which he could hazard he had far more experience in than Shiori (and his kindergarten teacher had wondered why he kept reading biology books and giggling), and he wasn't given to possessiveness or petty jealousies as other children his (apparent) age were. Even though he'd decided to give up a world (and a lucrative career and a mind-boggling amount of illegal wealth) for her, he wasn't going to suddenly become a silly child and wail and throw tantrums.

It was simply, he thought to himself, that he had such a good understanding of the various kinds of nefarious behaviour most men indulged in that he wanted her to have someone who was, well, perfect. (He would have said godlike, but most of the gods he'd met were arrogant, manipulative paper-pushers, and she would take exception to the notion anyway. Oh well.)

It was really quite easy, of course. He'd only lost his power, not his skills; and Shiori, who was quite impressed by how mature he was being about her dating, was quite willing to discuss her forthcoming dates, and the fact that he always enquired into their names and birthdays escaped her, since he had also (again apparently) developed an interest in astrology. The school computer was in excellent condition, and he'd had a passkey since he was old enough to reach the locks (and his teacher's pockets). It was a matter of seconds for him to sneak in at night and access the appropriate records, and to find out just whom she was going out with. And if he deemed them inappropriate, well.

Really, Shiori would have been grateful if she'd known.

Or so he told himself.


Hiei had known Kurama for three years when he realised that his (notfriend) eccentric almost-physician and occasional (notpartner) associate in crime took filial devotion to new and slightly disturbing levels.

He had been practicing with the jagan, training its abilities to find a specific individual and look through their eyes, and Kurama had agreed to be a guinea pig (he had even said he didn't mind if Hiei watched him when he was in the shower, and relished Hiei's expression hugely, damn him, the manipulative sadistic underage nymphomaniac), since Hiei had found it was surprisingly easy for him to lock onto the fox's mind compared to most people's.

He vaguely realised that the downtown area the redhead was moving purposefully through was nowhere near anywhere he was supposed to be during school hours, but didn't pay any attention until he saw Kurama stride past a frosted glass door and into a plush office.

'If I may have a moment of your time?' he enquired coolly before seating himself before the man in the chair and crossing his legs in a posture that screamed warning to Hiei.

'Shuuichi? What are you doing here?'

'Never mind what I'm doing here,' Kurama said serenely. 'Let's talk about what you were doing on Wednesday. Nine o' clock on Wednesday night, to be precise.'

Hiei was impressed. He knew Kurama was spying on this latest (boyfriend, he thought the word was) acquaintance of his mother's, who had stuck around longer than most, but he had no idea Kurama had stuck plants on him. At least he presumed he had used plants, because on Wednesday night he'd been doing his homework like a good boy while Hiei snored in his bed.

'Nine o' – Shuuichi, what are you doing here on a schoolday? How do you know this is where I work?'

'Irrelevant,' Kurama said, with a smile that made Hiei wonder how it would have looked with fangs. 'What is relevant here is that you and that pretty secretary of yours – not this one, the temp from last week – were in a hotel making the night hideous with your wails, while you're oozing over to my mother's every weeknight making claims to fidelity that should, by all rights, result in your being hit by an exceptionally large bolt of lightning. And if I ever see you anywhere near her again, you will wish – will pray – for death before the kind of exposure I can give you.' He dropped a stack of papers on the desk before the man, who had turned a shade of green that Hiei had believed he'd had claim to until this moment. 'Accounts, last year's tax records – the real ones – oh, and a tape of Wednesday's activities.' Interesting. So that's what he'd been doing with that recorder all weekend. Makai recordings were so hard to capture on human sound systems. 'Am I making myself clear, or would you like to see more proof?'

'Who sent you here?' the man demanded. 'Was it them?'

'Them?' a red eyebrow lifted. 'I assure you, I'm working for myself; what you do and who you do it with is a matter of supreme indifference to me as long as you stay well away from my mother. Do you understand? Good. Now call her up and break up with her.'

He watched, and Hiei watched, as the man made the call. When it was over, he uncrossed his legs, tossed the tapes at the man, nodded. 'This conversation never occurred. But I didn't have to tell you that, did I?'

The man gulped. Satisfied, Kurama left the office.


Hiei was, unfortunately, not present on the night when Shiori introduced Hatanaka to her son. He was, however, the first to hear it from Kurama.

'Married?' he asked, raising an eyebrow. 'And you're not objecting?'

'Not to this one, I think,' Kurama replied lightly.

Hiei snorted. 'What, is he a higher class of youkai than you or something?'

'As if that would stop me,' Kurama murmured, looking stung at the implication. 'No, he's all human. And he is rather madly in love with her.'

'You're being terribly virtuous about this,' Hiei commented.

'Well, it's not as if I run her life, you know,' Kurama protested.

Hiei shot him a speaking look.

'Not always,' Kurama amended shamelessly. 'I can't help it if the others weren't right for her, can I?'

'There are times,' Hiei said, 'when I wonder just which one of you is the parent in this relationship.'

Kurama raised an eyebrow. 'You mean you've doubts?'