Shiori took her son to the park as often as she could. The pediatrician told her that it might help Shuichi get over his shyness. He was always so alone, and she was afraid there was something wrong. The doctor encouraged her that it was just a phase, that if she exposed him to other children in a positive manner that he would get over it. After all, what child didn't like to play?

Shuichi was five, and they were at the park again.

"Love? Do you want to play with one of the other children today?" Shiori asked hopefully.

His eyes are disgusted, and they tell her she's crazy.

Shiori was called, yet again, into the teacher's office for a conference with the dean and the principal. Shuichi was so advanced for second grade that they wanted him to move up and be challenged. Shiori always hesitated. She refused again. The teachers could never understand. The other parents were delighted to hear of their children's accomplishments, but she seemed saddened by them.

Shuichi was seven, and they were at home again.

"Love, I want you to make friends. If you are always moving up with children so much older than you, I don't think you will be able to connect with them as well." Shiori said, hoping he'd understand.

His eyes hate her for this.

Shiori knew the importance of setting rules and enforcing them. Fortunately, Shuichi was such a cooperative child that he didn't need much telling. There was a city curfew at eleven, but Shiori wanted him in at ten. There were stories on the news of criminals and murderers who wandered about at night, and she was worried.

Shuichi was twelve, and the curfew police had to bring him home again.

"Love, I know you want to be in charge of your own life, but you aren't ready yet." Shiori almost begged.

His eyes glare fierce independence.

Shiori had been seeing a lot more of Mister Hatanaka after her illness. They saw each other at lunch now, but they were both ready to be more involved. Shiori wanted Shuichi to know in case they decided to get more serious. She wracked her nerves over the best way to tell him so he wouldn't think she was replacing him or his father.

Shuichi was sixteen, and Shiori was looking seriously at him over the dinner table.

"Love, I'm going to be dating again. It must be odd for you to have a mother doing the same as I'm sure many of your friends are by now, and I… I love him. I wanted you to know." Shiori said shyly, hoping he wouldn't be upset.

His eyes are old and knowing.

Shuichi had been seeing a lot more of Makai after Shiori's marriage and Yomi's offer. He was there at least one day a week now if not more. He was ready to move back. Shiori was settled now with a husband and step child. He paced around his room, thinking of the best way to explain it all to her. He didn't want her to have a bad last impression.

Shuichi was eighteen and ready to move on with his life.

"Mom, I don't know how best to tell you," he began cautiously, "but I'm leaving."

"Shuichi! Where? Do you have to?" She knew he wasn't going to college, had no job, no girlfriend to tempt him away.

"I'm going home. I'm sorry it had to end this way; I've thought of leaving a hundred times, and it's so hard." He couldn't meet her eyes.

"Why?"

"Mom, I'm not human."

"But you're my son! I should know who you are."

"You should, but you don't."

"If you aren't human, what are you?"

"Youko."

"Love, demons don't exist."

He looked pained. "Yes, they do."

"How? It couldn't have come from me."

"I died. A long time ago, in Makai, I was shot."

"Is this a New Age thing?"

"No, Mom. I ran from there to Japan, to you."

"Why me then?"

"You were five weeks pregnant. Your son would have been stillborn anyway."

"How do you know?"

"He had no soul."

"So you…"

"Attached my own soul to your son. I took his life as my own."

"But he would have been stillborn. What life could he give you?"

"His heart never started as it should have. I made it work."

"Then I have you to thank for my son's life."

"Yes."

"I shouldn't say that. You are my son. I never knew the other."

Kurama was happy to leave his mother happy and at peace.

Shiori was happy that she finally understood her fey child.