Author's Notes: Way, way back in the Dark Ages of anime fandom I was heavy into the Gundam Wing fandom and they had something called the RFO: The Relena Finds Out fic. Relena would inevitably find out that Heero was madly in love with Duo (or whoever) and Relena would snap and enact some horrible revenge. This is the YYH version. Sort of.
Kuwabara Finds Out
For the second time that day, Kurama – or Minamino Shuichi, since that's who everyone was looking for – had to duck down a side alley. There was a fire escape at the back, near a high brick wall, and he leapt up gently, just high enough to grab the bottom rung and swing himself up onto the first floor landing. Anyone witnessing the move would think only that Shuichi had potential as a gymnastics student.
He let himself make a little noise as he climbed up the next three landings to the roof, but not much. He paused at the top, one leg thrown over the edge of the roof and paused, straddling the low concrete wall, listening to the sounds of his pursuit.
A couple of them slipped into the alley, but only a few feet, giggling nervously. Silently, he urged them to back up and they did, mournfully noting that Minamino-san wasn't there, but thank goodness because that alley looked dangerous.
Minamino-san, Kurama thought with a sharp stab of amusement, is the most dangerous thing in this alley, ladies.
"He must already be at cram school," one of the girls announced, loudly enough to be heard even by normal ears. "If we hurry maybe we can meet him at the front gate!"
That brought a fresh burst of giggles and the sound of running feet.
Kurama sighed and thought seriously about skipping.
This was the fourth time today that he had been greeted by a group of middle and high-school girls when he arrived somewhere. First at school, even though he had arrived early. A second time when he met Shuichi-kun to walk his younger brother home. Then again at the grocery when he picked up some things for his mother. It was almost as if they knew his schedule. Well, it wasn't impossible. One of his classmates could easily discern that he often arrived early, and it was no secret that he walked his brother home most days.
It was needless worry. They were schoolgirls, not vampires. No matter what Kuwabara insisted. Regardless, if he didn't hurry he'd never beat them to the cram school.
Demonic speed and judicious use of rooftops got him to the cram school just ahead of his admirers. He couldn't resist throwing them a wave as he slipped inside the doors and the chorus of disappointed groans followed him inside.
He slipped inside his assigned classroom only to find the other students gathered in a huddle by the bulletin board. It was neatly covered with announcements from the local schools about sport events, school plays or other educational events. Kurama had rarely seen it garner more than a glance from his classmates, let alone their whole, undivided attention.
One of the girls turned as he entered and immediately blushed bright pink. "Minamino-san!" she exclaimed, her voice high-pitched and squeaky with embarrassment and she immediately clapped both hands over her face.
Kurama couldn't remember her name off the top of his head; he was fairly certain he had only seen her once or twice before. She went to another school, so he'd had no occasion to get familiar with her. It didn't surprise him, however, that she knew him. He was spared having to figure out how to address her when the rest of the class turned as one and gaped incredulously.
"Hello, everyone," he said, a sinking feeling developing in the pit of his stomach.
Most of the girls reacted similarly, hiding their mouths behind their hands and sneaking peeks at him while giggling, their cheeks bright pink, while the others glared at him disapprovingly. The boys hooted and one gave him the victory sign. "Nice show!"
"I'm sorry?" He frowned at the more enthusiastic boys and tried to get a look at the bulletin board. "What do you – oh. Oh. My."
Tacked to the bulletin board was a collage of photographs showing him in various states of undress. Some he recognized from training sessions, or post-mission rests where his clothing had been torn badly enough that it was essentially gone. One showed the pool in Keiko's neighborhood, where he'd been talked into joining her and the boys for a swim. Another showed him working in his garden, his shirt unbuttoned for comfort on a hot day.
Someone had just made their very own Minamino Shuici centerfold.
"Who put that up?" he put as much outrage and embarrassment in his voice as he could manage. He was more upset that someone had apparently been taking pictures of him without him noticing.
"It was here when I got here." One of the glaring girls frowned at him. "It's highly inappropriate."
"I agree. I'd like it removed. Now." He frowned, trying to think back to the different occasions those pictures had been taken. Shizuru or Keiko or Yukina were always snapping pictures – it was possible someone had gotten them from the girls? Or had one of the girls done this? It wasn't really Keiko's style, and Shizuru struck him as the sort to frame him for murder or drug him with paralyzing agents if he ever crossed her. Yukina didn't seem to have a vengeaful bone in her body, except for people who hurt her brother. And since she didn't know Hiei was her brother, this couldn't be revenge for anything Kurama had done lately.
One of the guys, under Kurama's glare, unpinned the collage and offered it to him sheepishly. Kurama made a show of crumpling it up and putting it in his satchel. "I think," he said stiffly, putting on an embarrassed show, "that it would be best if I didn't attend the session today."
He made his way back home without being stalked, attacked or bothered in any other way. "I'm home," he called out, hearing the sound of his mother working in the kitchen, and Shuichi-chan's video games in the living room. "I'm going to take a shower before dinner!"
Safely in his room, he pulled the collage out again and examined each photo, but couldn't honestly remember anything specific. Just that each one was taken during relatively peaceful times, and that he was fairly certain that only one of his friends could have taken the photos. There was the chance that whoever posted this could have gotten the pictures from the girls, but they'd never have given them to someone they didn't know well. Which meant…
Kurama pursed his lips and resolved to have a talk with Yuusuke first thing in the morning.
One mystery solved and the more he thought about the crowd following him around today, the more he thought that his earlier suspicion that someone had supplied them with his daily schedule was likely. Yuusuke certainly knew his habits well enough to have done something like that. Hadn't he mentioned needing to go to the store for his mother when he'd been at Genkai's the night before? He was certain he had.
Content that the mystery was solved, and contemplating ways to make Urameshi suitably apologetic, Kurama hastily stripped out of his school uniform, removed the seeds hidden through his hair and grabbed his robe and towel. The hall was chilly as he made his way to the bathroom and he enjoyed the thought of a long soak after he bathed. He was supposed to still be at cram school, after all. Dinner wouldn't be ready for another hour or so at least.
He set the tub to filling, running hot water over his hand until it was an acceptable temperature, then stripped out of his robe and stepped into the shower for a quick wash. He pressed the top of his shampoo and squeezed a generous portion into his hand, amused to see that his mother had once again purchased for him the kind that promised to eliminate tangles and add volume.
Then he paused. He lifted his hand to his nose and sniffed carefully. Something chemical and harsh lurked underneath the artificial scents of the shampoo. Something only vaguely familiar, but… Well, he had a fair idea how practical jokes worked.
On a suspicion, he rubbed the shampoo over the back of his arm, then scrubbed it off with a washcloth. He rinsed it in the water, and when he looked closely, the fine hairs along his arm had been removed. Hair remover. Someone had put hair remover in his shampoo.
He was going to kill Yuusuke.
He rushed through a shower, regretfully drained the tub and threw on street cloths. "Mother," he called from the stairs. "I need to run out for a moment. I'll be back for dinner." After I hide the body, he thought unkindly and jammed his feet into his shoes.
"Shuichi?" His mother stood in the doorway, clutching a letter in her hands. "I need to talk to you."
"Mom?" He hesitated. "Is anything wrong?"
She smiled. "Come into the kitchen. I don't think you want your brother to listen in to this conversation."
That made him slightly apprehensive. There were no secrets in their family, well, except for his rather huge one, and neither his mother nor his step-father ever made an effort to leave either son out of conversations.
Once in the kitchen she pushed him into a chair and sat down beside him. She took a deep breath and met his eyes firmly, and the seriousness there, and the fact that she looked like she was about to cry, struck right to the core of him. Something was wrong.
"I want you to know that I love you. No matter what."
She was dying, oh god, and the Mirror of Utterdark had been such a long-shot the first time.
She cut him off. "No matter what! Do you believe me?"
"Of course." He blinked. "Mother, what's wrong? Has something happened?"
She held out the letter that she'd been clutching in the hall. "I got a letter today. It told me something. Something about – about you, that I hadn't known before."
So this is panic, Kurama thought. He could feel his body reacting and it took every sliver of self-control not to grab the letter out of her hands, set it to the burner on the stove and set it aflame. It would do no good, aside from scaring her. She'd already read the letter.
"Mother," he began, with no idea how he was going to end the sentence. "Mother, I never meant to lie to you. I'm sorry. I honestly – I wanted to protect you-"
"Protect me from my own son?" she scoffed. "I don't know where you got such an idea, but I want you to put it out of your head right this second." She reached across his lap and grabbed his left hand, squeezing it tightly. "Now, I admit I was a little surprised, learning that my son was gay, but-"
"What?" Kurama was horrified at the way his voice squeaked and cracked, just like the girl at the cram school.
His mother blinked. "That you're gay. Sweetheart, that's what the letter told me. What," she paused. "What were you talking about?"
"That! I mean – that is – what does the letter say, exactly?" He'd walked right into this.
She handed him the letter. "There's nothing there that is meant just for me, I don't think. You shouldn't be embarrassed, sweetheart. It's obvious he loves you very much."
Oh god. Kurama skimmed the letter quickly recognizing – even if the bastard hadn't signed his name at the bottom, bold as you please – Kuwabara's handwriting proclaiming his love for Shuichi and his intent to court him. "I'm going to kill him."
His mother glared at him. "Stop it. I'm glad he wrote that. I'm glad I know. I'm sorry I ever did anything to make you think you couldn't tell me the truth, Shuichi. Whatever it was that made you think you had to be afraid of telling me, I never, ever meant it to hurt you. But now that I know, I will do everything I can to support you." She squeezed his hand again and smiled tremulously, her eyes tearing up. "I know it isn't easy, not in the world we live in. But both your step-father and I are going to be here for you."
"He knows?" This just got better and better.
Rising from her seat, his mother patted his cheek with one hand. "Your sweet young man did us all a favor, Shuichi. I'm glad I know. And I'm glad you've found such a nice boyfriend." She blushed slightly, but smiled down at him. "Now you run off. Dinner will be ready in an hour."
Kurama was pretty sure he knocked the chair over in his hurry to escape.
Kuwabara wasn't home. Shizuru was standing in the open doorway, a cigarette pinched between her thumb and forefinger and she blew a smoke ring at him as he arrived. "Hello, future brother-in-law," she called cheerfully. "Kazu's not here. Go talk to the moron." If she had anything further to say about it, she didn't volunteer the data, so Kurama grit his teeth and left.
He was at Yuusuke's front door in less than three minutes. The younger boy opened the door, took one look at Kurama's face, and started backpedaling into the apartment.
"Yuusuke," Kurama said, false pleasantry oozing off every word.
"Kurama. What brings you over?" Yuusuke was a terrible actor, and from the way his gaze kept sliding off to the side every time he tried to meet Kurama's eyes, he definitely knew what was going on.
"I seem to be the victim of a prank war," Kurama said through gritted teeth. "And a line has been crossed. I want to know what the hell you and Kuwabara were thinking-"
"Hey!" Yuusuke held up both hands. "Dude, I don't know what he came up with, but don't look at me."
That brought him up short, but only for a moment. While Yuusuke was the usual suspect, it wasn't as if anything that had happened today was beyond Kuwabara's capabilities. And he had written the note. "Fine," Kurama said. "But you know what's going on. Don't bother lying to me. Talk. Now. Or I tell Hiei how his katana ended up being used as an axe in Genkai's woodpile last autumn."
"That's mean," Yuusuke said petulantly. "It's not like your life was every in danger."
"That is entirely a matter of perspective."
Yuusuke sighed and dropped into a chair, scrubbing a hand through his already haphazard hair. "I sort of let slip about Yukina being Hiei's sister."
"In front of Kuwabara-kun?"
Yuusuke nodded sheepishly.
"And that's why the prank war?"
"He was mostly pissed that we didn't tell him." Yuusuke looked pretty hangdog for a minute. "Thought we'd been lying to him on purpose. I said it wasn't our fault he ran off before the mission tape stopped playing. That was a mistake, cause then he figured out just how long I'd known."
Kurama jammed his hands into his pockets and sighed. "So this was payback for embarrassing him?"
He gave Urameshi a suspicious glance. "How did you manage to avoid such creative retribution?"
His friend grinned at him. "I told him it was your idea to keep it a secret."
"And he believed you?" Kuwabara knew Yuusuke even better than Kurama did, and Kurama would never have believed anything Yuusuke said when he was trying to get out of trouble.
"Not really, no. But I offered to distract Hiei the next time he decided to try and talk Yukina into a make-out session." Yuusuke shrugged, and shot Kurama a smirk.
The youko couldn't help but grin back, recognizing the offer for what it was: the closest Yuusuke would bring himself to offering his oldest rival an apology. "So I get to bear the brunt of his vengeance?"
"Basically, yes. I figured you could take it."
"Thank. You're a real friend. You realize that now my mother thinks I'm gay."
Yuusuke burst out laughing so hard he ended up nearly coughing. "Oh geez. What did he do?"
Kurama leaned against the wall and considered whether he should contemplate payback. It would be unsporting to strike back at Kuwabara; the human had been wronged, technically, and anyway Yuusuke deserved it more for selling him out like that.
Kurama grinned at Yuusuke, enjoying the suddenly uncomfortable look on the boy's face, and began to plan.