DISCLAIMER: "InuYasha" and "Yu Yu Hakusho" were created by Takahashi and Togashi. All acclaim and profits belong to them. All I lay claim to is a huge case of the yawns for sitting up all night to try to make the deadline for the contest. (I missed. sigh)
Written for: kagome-x-hiei club songfic contest on DeviantArt
Song: "Wherever You Will Go" recorded by The Calling
The Crystal Forest
"He's headed back East now," Hiei informed the others after using the Jagan to pick up the kitsune's trail again. The damn youkai had been leading them on a merry chase all day and Hiei's nerves were on edge. Koenma had set them after him when he had crossed into the Ningenkai this morning. They had caught sight of him at a shrine in Tokyo, then he had disappeared back into the Makai. Since he had gone back and it didn't look like he had caused any mischief, they were ready to just let him go, but he had been skirting the border between the realms and crossed back and forth several times after that. They were sure this area had to be his home territory because every time they got close to him, he gave them the slip.
"What the hell is he up to?" Yusuke asked for the fifth time that day.
"He's obviously trying to lose us," Hiei replied, "but it will do him no good." And when they caught him, he was going to take his irritation out on his hide. Something about this felt off, but he just couldn't put his finger on it.
"I'm not so sure about that," Kurama said slowly. "I've been thinking, and it's almost like he's looking for something, but isn't quite certain where it is. We've covered this area twice now."
"Well, something about this place makes my senses tingle," Kuwabara said, stopping and looking around carefully. "It's like there's something nearby, but … not."
"Hiei, did the Jagan see anything unusual?" Kurama asked.
"Did I tell you it did?" the apparition snapped at him. No, the Jagan had not seen anything out of the ordinary, just the fox youkai scampering away. But the idiot was right. There was something out there. And he didn't like it. It almost felt … familiar.
Yusuke stopped and looked at Kuwabara, then Hiei. Finally, he turned to Kurama, "Do you sense anything? Could there be a trap of some sort around here? Or a barrier hiding something?"
"No, I don't sense anything like that. Everything feels normal. The trees and plants show no disturbances that would indicate something hidden from normal view, either."
"Well, shit. I know by now that it's stupid to ignore Kuwabara's feelings, but I'd really rather just nab that demon and take him to the Reikai so we can go home," Yusuke said, running a hand through his hair. "So, which do we do? Keep chasing him or look around for something?"
Hiei stared at him like he was a moron, which he was beginning to believe was the case. "Aren't you paying attention? If the fox is looking for something, then if we find it, we'll catch him, too."
"And how are supposed to do that?" Yusuke glared at him. "The sun is going down and none of us has seen anything unusual. All we've got to go on is Kuwabara's sixth sense and all he knows is that it feels like there's something nearby but not. Even that creepy thing in your forehead didn't see anything. Hell, even that damn demon can't find whatever it is! I say grab him and let Koenma find out what he's looking for."
"Then why don't you just go ahead and grab him, detective? It's not like we haven't been chasing him half the day," Hiei sneered.
"Damn kitsune," the toushin grumbled. "They're too damn good at hiding in the woods. I thought for sure you could catch him, Kurama."
"As I told you earlier, Yusuke, this was not my territory and it obviously is his. He has the advantage here."
"Fine. Lead the way, Kuwabara."
"But, I'm not sure where …" his voice trailed off as the last of the sunlight faded away and he felt a tremendous surge of power. "Did you guys feel that?"
Yusuke and Kurama just looked at him curiously. "I didn't feel anything. Did you two?" Yusuke asked.
"No. What about you, Hiei? Hiei?" The avatar glanced around quickly, but the smaller demon was nowhere to be seen.
"Shit! Where did he go?"
The second he had felt that wave of power roll through him, he had known where he needed to go. But he still didn't know why, and that pissed him off. Something was calling him. It was something he recognized deep down inside, but he had no idea what it was. He was close, though, and the feeling grew stronger the closer he got. Whatever the hell it was, it was between him and that damn fox youkai and the Jagan had alerted him to the fact that he had turned around and was headed back this way. So, he must have felt it, too.
Finally, in the distance, he thought he could see a faint glow, and he could just make out a figure disappearing into it. He sped up, but stopped when he could clearly make out the shimmering barrier stretched across a path between two trees. Why did it look so damn familiar? He couldn't remember ever coming across a barrier like that before, and he was sure he would have remembered if he did because the power felt unbelievably pure. He walked up to it slowly and peered through. On the other side was a crystal forest.
That was the only way he could describe it. The trees, the grass, the plants--everything looked to be made out of sparkling crystal, though a slight breeze causing movement through the branches showed that they were indeed living and not some kind of carved decoration. There was an unearthly beauty to the place and Hiei could not deny the urge he felt to enter it. But when he reached out a hand to touch the barrier, it wouldn't let him pass.
He could see the kitsune inside, embracing a small figure. Was this merely some kind of lovers' rendezvous? And why did that thought make him feel so unsettled? He could hear his teammates' voices and knew they had spotted him, but he couldn't take his eyes off of the scene in front of him. When the two finally let go of each other, he got a look at the person the fox youkai had come to meet and was paralyzed with shock. He knew her! He could remember running his fingers through that dark, wavy hair and touching the curve of that delicate cheek. He had stared into those blue-gray eyes and he had kissed those soft, pink lips.
At the sound of his shout, the woman looked straight at him in stunned disbelief. "Hiei?"
When she said his name, he knew the barrier would let him pass and in a flash he was standing in front of her, grasping her upper arms. Giving her a violent shake, he demanded, "What did you do?"
"Damnit! He disappeared again," Yusuke swore. "How are we supposed to follow him when he gets up in the trees?"
"He just went through that shiny barrier right there. We'll catch him," Kuwabara assured him.
Kurama stepped in front of Kuwabara, forcing him to come to a stop. "You see a shiny barrier up ahead?"
The big man nodded. "Don't you? It's kind of glowing."
"Show me where it is."
Kuwabara led them over to it. Reaching out a hand, he touched it. It felt solid. "Right here. But it won't let me through."
"Shit. I don't even see it," Yusuke complained.
Kurama reached out a hand where Kuwabara had and felt it. "How big is it?"
"It's just between these two trees."
The avatar started examining the tree on the left. Feeding some of his youki into it, he searched for the edge of the barrier, but he found nothing. It was just a tree. There was no trace of outside energy or power anywhere around it. He got down to check the grass and earth, but it was perfectly normal, too. If whatever was there could not be seen or detected by a youkai of his level and experience, how did Hiei see it? Had he lied when he said the Jagan hadn't detected anything? Better still, how had he managed to pass through it? Since Kuwabara could see it, and had felt it earlier, it stood to reason that it was connected to some kind of reiki energy. It should certainly keep a demon like Hiei out. And there was no way he had enough time to find a weakness in the barrier to get through--the hiyoukai might be a talented thief in his own right, but he was no youko. Had something pulled him in?
"Um, guys? Hiei's got ahold of some girl in there. And that other demon is in there, too."
"Where? All I see is a dark forest." Yusuke stamped his foot in frustration.
"It's not dark at all. The trees are all clear and sparkly. It's really pretty," Kuwabara told them.
Kurama's eyes narrowed. "The kitsune is in there, too?" This might be his territory, but there was no way he had anything to do with a barrier like the one Kuwabara had described. And there was no way he was going to concede that a demon half his age had found a way in where he couldn't. He had to have a connection with the person who created the barrier, and that made it seem highly probable that Hiei did, also. But he hadn't seemed to know the kitsune or what he could be looking for around here.
"Can you tell what is happening?" he asked Kuwabara.
"Yeah. Hiei's yelling at the girl and the demon is yelling at him and … whoa! Didn't see that coming."
"What? What happened?" Yusuke asked him.
"She's touching his face. And now she's hugging him!"
"She's hugging Hiei?"
"I think it's safe to say, Yusuke, that the girl is the one responsible for the barrier, and that Hiei knew her sometime in his past," Kurama commented.
"Yeah, but she's hugging him?"
"Kagome," he said, the name rolling off his tongue so easily he couldn't understand how he could ever have forgotten it, "what the hell did you do?"
"I … Hiei, it was time to resume the fight. You couldn't stay. If you had, you would have been trapped in here," she told him softly.
"Then you should have left that up to me, shouldn't you?" he spat out bitterly.
"You were so young."
He stared at her like she was crazy. "I was older than you were."
"But this was my doing--my destiny. There was no reason for you to give up your freedom to fight a fight that wasn't yours."
There was no humor in his laughter. "So you made an excuse to send me out without bothering to tell me that everything would be gone when the sun went down --you, this forest, my memories. Who do you think you are to decide my life for me? What did you think I had to go back to? Don't give me any shit about it being for my own good."
His head was spinning from the flood of memories and he just couldn't believe this onna had stolen all of that from him. He had been a fool to trust her. At least he'd learned that lesson even if she had taken away his memories of why it was foolhardy to trust a female. He should have never forgotten it in the first place after having the audacity to be born male on Koorime Isle. He had certainly never let another one manipulate him with warmth and tenderness, and he had learned long ago that the pleasures of the body could be had cheaply enough without the need for any pretense of soft emotions. The pitiful thing was that even knowing all that and having lived for almost 400 years since his time with her, he was still affected by the look of pain in her eyes.
"I thought as long as you didn't remember, it wouldn't matter. You could go on and live your life the way you should. You were so full of talk about how you would do whatever it took to become strong so your reputation would speak for you. And I could tell that you felt your past was unsettled. You needed to face it so you could put it behind you for good. How could you do any of that in here?" she asked him.
She reached out and touched his forehead next to the Jagan. "Look at you." Then her hand trailed down his arm over the mark of the dragon. "Look at all you've done. Can you honestly tell me you have gained nothing by staying outside?"
"You don't know what you're talking about, onna. You have no idea what I needed or what my world is like. This little glass prison you made for yourself is so full of light that you think you can see better than anyone else. But maybe you're just blind to what anyone wants or needs but yourself. And you want to save the world, regardless of what that means to anyone who might rather have you, or at the very least their memories," he accused her coldly.
Then his eyes fell upon something sparkling on a chain around her neck. It couldn't be. But now he remembered when he had given it to her. A loud cry had woken him from a sound sleep and when he had wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close, she had confessed she often had nightmares. He had sat up and pulled the chain over his head, telling her what it was and how it often soothed him. When he had placed it around her neck, she had protested that he should keep it, but he had told her that as long as she was near, his soul already felt soothed.
Sonofabitch! She had taken away his memory of that and he had conjured himself up a new one to explain away the loss of the hiroseki stone. No wonder he hadn't been able to find it when he went back and searched the bottom of that cliff where he thought he had lost it during a fight. Fuck! How long had he searched for that damned thing? It was part of the reason he had the Jagan implanted.
"I'm sorry, Hiei. I really did think it was for the best. I never meant to hurt you, or anyone--that's why everyone's memories vanish when this forest does. That way everyone can go on with their lives without worrying about me," she glanced over at Shippou when she said that last part.
"You didn't hurt me," the apparition said with a sneer. "In order for someone to hurt, they'd have to care. However, I did miss this." He grabbed the hiroseki stone and gave it a powerful yank until the chain snapped, ignoring the way it cut her neck. "I'll leave you to enjoy your 'time off' with your new companion. I trust all these unpleasant memories will go away again in two months when you disappear." And he stormed back out through the barrier, not even pausing to say a word to his three teammates who were standing right outside.
"So, that's Hiei?" Shippou walked up and put his arms around her as she stared out through the barrier where the fire demon had gone. He wondered if she even saw the three males who were also watching the smaller youkai leave. "I never thought I'd get to meet him. Do you want me to go after him?"
Wiping a tear from her cheek, she took a deep breath. "No, it's all right, Shippou. I never expected to see him again. But, it's better this way. In a week, he won't remember. But would you mind writing yourself a note this time to make sure he can't find the forest again?"
While Yusuke yelled after Hiei, Kuwabara watched the two people still on the other side of the barrier. "She's crying. And that little bastard took her necklace. I'm going to kick his ass."
Kurama merely lifted a brow at him before turning to Yusuke. "What shall we do now? Follow Hiei, which will prove futile, or stay here and wait for the kitsune to come out, which will also more than likely prove futile unless we are prepared to camp out for days?"
"Shit." The toushin rested a hand on the back of his neck and shook his head. "Koenma said to bring the kitsune in, so I guess we have to set up camp here. But it's obvious Hiei knows something, so at least one of us should go after him and find out what the hell is going on here."
"Then I suggest you bring back some supplies after you speak with him."
"Yeah, bring food, Urameshi. I'm starving!"
"Wait just a minute," he frowned at the avatar. "Who said anything about me going to talk to him? It would make more sense for you to do it. He'd be more likely to talk to you than me."
"Actually, no. It makes more sense for me to stay here and continue trying to find a way through that barrier. The sooner we catch the kitsune, the better. And Kuwabara is needed here because he's the only one who can see what they are doing on the other side of it. Besides, Hiei wouldn't speak to me about a personal matter, like this so obviously seems to be. He respects me, but he trusts you," Kurama told him with a small smile.
"Yeah? Well, how the heck am I supposed to find him?"
Looking out of the corner of his eye at Kuwabara, the avatar replied, "Try Genkai's. I believe he finds the temple grounds soothing when he needs to think."
Yusuke's eyes widened a bit in understanding and he nodded. Made sense that he would want to check on his sister when he was unsettled about something. "Okay. I'll see you later then." And he took off to head back into the Ningenkai.
After they had eaten and Shippou had shared the news he had brought about her family, they settled down near the fire they had started. A silence fell between them and Kagome knew he was struggling to find a way to ask her something. She was sure it was about Hiei and she really didn't know what she could tell him. So, she misunderstood him when he asked, "Kagome, do you ever regret it?"
"I couldn't ask him to give everything up."
Shippou flashed her a toothy grin. "Still thinking about him, huh? But that wasn't what I meant. At least, it's only part of it. Do you ever regret this?" he gestured all around them.
She frowned at the question. "And what would you do if I said yes? What's done is done."
The kitsune blinked repeatedly. He hadn't expected her to say that and it broke his heart to hear it. "Oh, Kagome …"
Moving next to him, she put an arm around his shoulders. "I'm still human, Shippou. And I get lonely. And tired. So, of course there are moments when I wish I hadn't done it. But they pass quickly," she smiled. "There was nothing else I could do. I couldn't let Naraku win, could I? But I wasn't strong enough to defeat him. The fighting had gone on so long and everyone was wounded. And all I could think about was how similar the situation was to Midoriko's and what she had done.
But her solution caused so many more problems. The idea of isolating the battle so no one else would be hurt was good, but the way she did it was wrong. By forging the jewel and imprisoning the souls of the youkai she fought, along with her own, inside it, she had created a powerful weapon that men and youkai fought for century after century.
We were at the same stalemate she was. And if we were to fall, Naraku would be free to continue terrorizing the land. If we couldn't win, then the least we could do was not let him win, either. I knew I could isolate the fight like she did. It was the right thing to do. But I didn't want to create something that could be corrupted and fought over for evil means and gain."
"So, instead of imprisoning your souls in a jewel forged from your heart, you imprisoned your bodies inside a forest forged from your soul," Shippou finished for her.
"And how is the battle going? You said Hiei's memories would be gone in a week. That means the crystal forest will vanish then and the fight will resume."
"Yes," she finally said after a long pause. "A week."
"The last time the crystal forest appeared, it was here for two weeks. And the time before that, three. I'm not stupid. Your contact with this world is growing shorter each time and the amount of time between your 'visits' has been growing steadily longer. I may forget when you are not here, but I know the truth now," he said angrily.
"The forest first appeared just a year after the battle, and it was here for 6 months. Six months! During that time, you were able to rest and we could visit you when you let us in."
"But that was a mistake," she told him. "With me here for so long, none of you could move on with your lives. You felt you had to spend that time with me, and all of you would have waited and worried until the next time. That's why your memories vanish when the forest does."
"Are you saying you deliberately waited 25 years to take another chance to refresh yourself because of us?" he demanded.
"No. But it was for the best. It gave you a chance to live your lives."
"You mean it gave Inuyasha time to find someone else."
"Yes," she smiled. "I was so happy that he had moved on. He deserved to be able to do that."
Looking at the way her eyes lit up, he knew she meant it and that she was truly happy for him. He sighed and hugged her. "And then the next time the forest appeared, 50 years later, you met Hiei. But the two of you only had two months together before the forest vanished again."
He wanted to pursue that topic further, but he bit his tongue to stop himself. "I didn't see you that time because I was doing a lot of traveling in those years and didn't know there was a reason to stick close to home, thanks to the memory loss about the forest. Or the next, which I'm guessing was in another 75 years?" When she nodded again, he continued, "Now, the forest only appears every 100 years and you are down to 1 week. I have to know, will it really do me any good to write myself a note and hide it somewhere where I'll find it in another hundred years?"
Kagome stood up and walked a few steps away. He could barely hear her answer when she whispered, "I don't know."
"Hiei, damnit, get down here and answer me!" Yusuke shouted.
When the apparition landed right in front of him, he felt the nick of a sharp blade on his cheek. "I could spare everyone the sound of your grating voice if I were to cut your tongue out right now."
"Whew! For a second there, I thought you were all upset over that girl. Glad to see you're just your usual asshole self," the toushin grinned.
"If you're quite finished being witty, I'll get out of your way so you can clap your self on the back."
"Hold on there. You're not going anywhere until you tell me what the hell is going on. We were sent to capture a kitsune who visited a shrine in Tokyo then spent the day bouncing in and out of the Ningenkai, apparently looking for something. The 'something' turned out to be some kind of lit-up forest behind a barrier no one can see, except you, obviously, Kuwabara, and that kitsune. Inside that forest is some butt-ugly girl you were slobbering all over--shit!" Yusuke ducked, but he still felt some hair fall down his face where Hiei had just taken a little off the top.
"Damn it, Hiei! I was just …"
"Letting your tongue run away with your good sense."
"Fine. I won't say another word. You can do the talking."
Several minutes later, Yusuke threw his hand in the air in frustration. "Argh! Say something!" At the mutinous look on the fire demon's face, Yusuke knew he was going to have to figure out a way to get him to talk. "You're not the first guy to have a bad love affair, you know."
Hiei just raised a brow and stared at him.
"Before I realized there was really something there between me and Keiko, there was another girl I liked. Ayumi. Man, she was hot! A tight, firm ass and great big …"
"Your fantasy life does not interest me, detective."
"She was real! And we went out for a while. But it turned out all she wanted to do was make her old boyfriend jealous, and as soon as it worked, she dumped me."
"So she was mildly intelligent."
"But then I beat the shit out of him and she came crawling back. Only I told her I wasn't interested," Yusuke laughed.
Hiei stared at him for a few minutes. "You are a moron. Your pathetic story has absolutely no bearing at all on my situation with Kagome."
"Kagome, huh? So, how'd you meet her?"
Unable to sleep, Kagome stared into the fire. She had never expected to see Hiei again. He had changed. He wasn't the brash, young youkai she had met all those years ago. There was no mistaking the power that emanated from him. He had indeed become a formidable man. And she wasn't sure about the two entities that were now a part of him--the eye and dragon, but she knew that the merging or absorption of another entity of power like that did not come without a price. He was strong, and she couldn't help but feel proud of him even as she felt sorrow for what he must have gone through. And … she missed him.
It was funny, because she had loved Inuyasha for a long time, and yet she had been completely at peace with disappearing from his life. She had known he would find love again. He had overcome his insecurities and had opened his heart. All she had to do was make sure he didn't waste an opportunity because he felt obligated to someone else who was between worlds. The irony of being in a similar position to Kikyou made her laugh. But she had known immediately to do what it took Kikyou so long to learn: to let him go.
With Hiei, though, it had been difficult for her to leave. Maybe it was because their feelings were so new or because she had never hesitated to act on them and neither had he. Maybe it was because he was her first and only lover. Or maybe it was because she was worried that he wouldn't find love again. Not because there weren't women who would love him, but because he wouldn't let them. He hadn't meant to let her.
She had let him practically fall through the barrier when she had seen him come staggering through the trees towards it. He had been wounded and she had wanted to help. He had fought her every step of the way, cursing and knocking her hands away when she tried to check his injuries. But he was exhausted and eventually he had fallen unconscious. She had cared for him for three days while he slept.
And he had awoken right when she was changing clothes. The first words out of his mouth were a crude comment and he had been shocked when she stalked over to him and slapped him. Then he had laughed because she had spent so much time taking care of him just to turn around and attack him. And he had grabbed her arm and pulled her down on top of him. Her blush had betrayed her innocence and he had chuckled right next to her ear, sending shivers down her spine. But as she scrambled to get off of him, her hand brushed against his cock and he had blushed--not a dark blush, but noticeable. He had started to leave right then, but stayed when she offered him food. Then he stayed while she washed his clothes. He didn't have any place to go, so he decided he may as well sleep another night on the cozy pallet she had fixed for him.
When he asked her about the crystal forest, he had been intrigued to learn he was "walking around inside her soul." He had grown very serious when he said that. And he had stayed around the next day. Until one day, several weeks later, he had joined her as she was bathing. They had been lovers for two weeks when he had given her the hiroseki stone necklace. She had known then just how much he trusted her and when she asked him why, he had replied that it was because she had trusted him enough to let him in. Putting a hand to her neck, she rubbed the thin cut, but the place that really ached was her heart. She hadn't wanted to send him away, but what kind of person would she be if she let him give everything up? But it had been so hard to watch him go, knowing she would never see him again.
So lately, been wonderin
Who will be there to take my place
When I'm gone, you'll need love
To light the shadows on your face
If a great wave shall fall
It would fall upon us all
And between the sand and stone
Could you make it on your own
If I could, then I would
I'll go wherever you will go
Way up high or down low
I'll go wherever you will go
"So, she asked you to go to the nearest village for some sake, and when the sun went down you just forgot all about her?"
"Yes," Hiei answered through gritted teeth.
"But she said if you had stayed when the forest disappeared, you would have been stuck in it forever?" Yusuke asked.
"That's what she said."
"You lucked out. It would have sucked to be stuck there. And you never would have found out you had a sister and been able to help rescue her. Or had the Jagan implanted. Or mastered the dragon. Or met me!" Yusuke smiled.
"Yet another sin to lay at her door. She tricked me. Manipulated me to control the course of my life."
"Saved your sorry ass."
"Hmph. You would see it that way. You're a lot like her, toushin," Hiei sneered.
"What do you mean by that?" he frowned.
"Self-sacrificing heroes. Do you know what she does in that crystal forest? She fights. She trapped herself in there with her worst enemy--a youkai who is made up of thousands of youkai. He can shape shift and split youkai off from himself and who knows what else."
Yusuke's eyes grew wide. "You're worried about her."
"Don't be absurd. She's been fighting him for centuries," the apparition said, irritation evident in his voice.
"You respect her."
"You are rapidly getting on my nerves."
"You've got all your memories back now and you miss her."
"I won't miss you a second time," Hiei threatened, brandishing his katana.
"Well, tell you what. She's here for two months, right? Go renew your acquaintance with her--screw her brains out. Then when you leave this time, it'll be your decision and maybe she'll miss you."
"I'm not interested in sharing her with her new companion," Hiei said stiffly.
"Oh, damn. You're jealous, too! Well, I say you should try anyway. Besides, I haven't seen you with a chick since … hell, I've never seen you with a chick. You're overdue to get laid. Then maybe you won't be such an ass all the time," he laughed as he took off running. "By the way, we're setting up camp outside the barrier to catch that kitsune."
Hiei growled as Yusuke ran up the steps to the temple. He should have known better than to tell him anything. He just needed some time to sort out his thoughts. Being hit with all those memories threw him off-balance. Now, if he closed his eyes, he could see her face and smell her scent. Damn Yusuke for suggesting he just go fuck her. She had been a virgin the first time they were together … and so had he. He wasn't sure if it was the Koorime blood that ran in his veins or the fact that he had been so busy fighting to stay alive, but he couldn't remember really being tempted to bed a female before he had ended up in her forest.
And it hadn't been sex for the sake of sex, either. Yes, he had been physically attracted to her from the moment he opened his eyes and saw her bending over to step into her panties. But there had been a lot of feeling between them from the start, too. She was the first person to ever truly care for him. And it had made him want to cherish her. No one had ever trusted him before, either. That's what made her betrayal so bitter.
She had sent him away without a word, without a goodbye. Without a choice. He looked up at the stars and admitted that Yusuke was right. Now that he had his memories back, he missed her. And he worried about her. He didn't want to forget her again.
And maybe, I'll find out
The way to make it back someday
To watch you, to guide you
Through the darkest of your days
If a great wave shall fall
It would fall upon us all
Well, I hope there's someone out there
Who can bring me back to you
If I could, then I would
I'll go wherever you will go
Way up high or down low
I'll go wherever you will go
Two days later, Shippou stepped out of the crystal forest.
"It's about time! Come on, we're going to the Reikai," Yusuke told him, grabbing him by the arm.
"Good. I need to speak to Koenma."
"Huh? I kind of expected you to kick up a fuss."
"I don't guess Hiei is here, is he?" Shippou asked, looking around.
"No, and I wouldn't expect him, either. Your girlfriend pissed him off and Hiei doesn't forgive too easily," the toushin told him.
Shippou blinked. "My … girlfriend? Shit. I never would have guessed the little jerk was jealous. That would be funny if it wasn't so damn stupid. I really don't have time to be trekking all over the Makai after a sulky demon."
"Yeah, well, the only place you're going is to the Reikai."
"Your friends told me I'd find you here."
Hiei glanced down at the kitsune leaning against the tree he was resting in. "If they told you that, they're no friends of mine."
"I know you're angry about what Kagome did. I was, too, the first time I got my memories back."
"The first time?" Hiei jumped down from his branch. "How many times have you been to her forest?"
"It wouldn't be gentlemanly of me to say," Shippou winked.
Damn kitsune. "How'd you like your fur singed?"
"Okay, okay. I've been there every time except the year you were and the one after that. I traveled with Kagome when she was fighting Naraku. I was there the day she created that damn crystal forest," Shippou told him. "And in case you're wondering, no, she hasn't taken in any stray youkai since you were there."
"Of course not."
"If that's what you came here to tell me, you can leave now."
Shippou sighed. "Why she likes rude youkai is beyond me. But you need to believe she really wasn't trying to leave you out or run your life by not telling you what would happen--she honestly believes we are all better off not spending our time waiting for her or thinking about her. And as much as I hate to admit it, she may be right. I get to worry about her and think about how much I would have missed her once every hundred years now. Other than that, I have a beautiful mate and a wonderful family who get all of my attention. I am very happy and content. It's true that you can't miss something you don't remember having. Kagome, on the other hand, does remember all of us. Every day. She thinks about us, worries about us, wonders what we're doing, hopes we are well and happy, and misses us. I wish she could make herself forget. But she can't, and she won't. Because we're the reason she created that damn forest in the first place."
"Because she wanted to save the world," Hiei scoffed.
"Because she wanted to save the world for the people she loves," Shippou said quietly. "She's not a martyr. She just has an incredible heart and believes other people are more important than she is."
Getting no response from the hiyoukai, he turned to leave. "I don't know if it will mean anything to you or not, but I thought you should know … she's running out of time here. The longer the battle takes and the more time she spends locked up inside her own soul, the weaker her connection to this world grows. The time between her forest's appearances has grown longer and the duration of its time here has grown shorter. I always hoped that one day she would defeat Naraku and be able to return to live a normal life here.
Koenma let me come to the Ningenkai to escort her family to see her. Your friends are helping. She wanted to see them if she could because she's not sure if the crystal forest will return, and even if it does, it may be 250 years from now."
"When will the forest vanish?"
"In three days."
Runaway with my heart
Runaway with my hope
Runaway with my love
Hiei approached the barrier as the sun began to sink on the horizon. He saw the kitsune stepping out to stand with his teammates. The thought crossed his mind that this was the first time since she had created the crystal forest that people would remember it, and remember her and that she was fighting this battle to keep it out of this world. She deserved to be remembered.
"Come to say goodbye, Hiei? Yusuke asked when he saw him.
"Good. I think it's the right thing to do. And it will help you put it behind you."
Hiei rolled his eyes at him. "You really do sound like her. I trust you will keep this world in reasonably decent shape. I'd hate to return to chaos."
"What? What do you mean return?"
"I believe this is his goodbye, Yusuke," Kurama said, looking at the hiyoukai appraisingly.
"I also trust the idiot will keep his promises to the youkai he has been making sheep's eyes at ever since he rescued her."
"You mean Yukina? Damn right I will!" Kuwabara declared.
"If not, I trust Kurama will feed him to a tree."
"As you wish," the avatar smirked slightly. "This is an unexpected turn of events, but I hope you will enjoy your paradise."
"Somehow I never thought of you as someone who would consider a crystal forest a paradise, Hiei," Yusuke said.
"A place where I can fight and kill to my heart's content? And not be disturbed by Koenma or Botan or any other idiots? A paradise indeed."
Yusuke grinned at him. "Yeah, well, at least you can finally get back what you lost in there."
Inclining his head slightly in acknowledgement of their camaraderie, he turned and entered the forest.
"What did he lose, Urameshi? That necklace?"
"No, his heart."
I know now, just quite how
My life and love might still go on
In your heart and your mind
I'll stay with you for all of time
"So, do you really think they'll return?" Shippou asked them.
"Don't count him out."
Kagome had been standing with her back to the barrier because she couldn't bear to watch the world outside vanish again. It was foolish she knew, but she had been hoping that Hiei might come to see her again. She was grateful she had been able to see the man he had grown up to be. Lost in her thoughts, she jumped slightly when she felt something slide around her neck. Putting her hand on it, she instantly recognized the hiroseki stone.
"Hiei?" She turned and was pulled into a firm embrace. Hiei touched his lips to hers just briefly in a tender yet possessive kiss. "What are you doing here? The sun is almost down--you have to leave!"
"Quiet, onna. I am quite old enough to make my own decisions now. My past is settled and I have nothing holding me back. And as you pointed out, I am much stronger now--strong enough to kick your Naraku's ass and strong enough to keep one tricky, manipulative, control-happy martyr in line. Besides, you owe me and I plan to be here to collect."
"What do I owe you?"
If I could, then I would
I'd go wherever you will go
Way up high or down low
I'll go wherever you will go
If I could turn back time
I'll go wherever you will go
If I could make you mine
I'll go wherever you will go