A/N: I've thought about this story for a long time and wavered back and forth on it, and finally decided to go ahead and write it. Updates may be slow, but I promise I'm still working on it.



Shuichi looked up, startled. A man he had just walked past was staring at him intently. The man looked vaguely familiar, like Shuichi might have known him a long time ago, but he couldn't come up with a name or a place. "Yes?" he said cautiously.

The man was still staring at him--not just intently, but with some kind of shock or dismay. Something sad. The hairs on Shuichi's neck started to raise slightly--he wished the light would change so he could cross the street. Maybe this man wouldn't be going the same way. "Do you know who I am?" the man asked.

Shuichi shook his head. "I'm sorry," he said, as politely as he could manage while feeling slightly spooked out. "I don't recognize you."

The man sighed. His face seemed to grow a little longer. "That's how it's supposed to be. But I thought I'd try first."

The light changed. Shuichi immediately stepped onto the crosswalk, but to his chagrin the stranger kept pace with him. His tone when he spoke again was more brisk. "Well, hey, you may not remember me, but we used to be friends," he said. "Good friends."

"If we had been friends, I would remember you," Shuichi said curtly.

"Not necessarily. There's huge chunks of your life that you don't remember, Shuichi. I'm one of them."

Shuichi stopped in his tracks, staring. The stranger was a few steps ahead before he realized Shuichi had stopped and turned around. "I'd wait until we're back on the sidewalk to do that, if I were you."

Shuichi shut his mouth--which he had opened without realizing it--and took the last few steps to get off the crosswalk. "Who are you?"

"Name's Kuwabara. Ring a bell?"


"Damn. This is going to be hard."

"What makes you think I--"

"Look, let's keep walking while we talk, okay?" Kuwabara's voice sounded urgent, and he took Shuichi's elbow to get him moving again. "This is going to take a really long time to explain and we don't have that much time, so we gotta move while we talk. And I gotta start by saying I really, really wish I didn't have to do this, and I meant to leave you alone and everything like Kurama had us promise and--"

"Kurama?" Shuichi said sharply.

Kuwabara looked at him appraisingly. "That rang a bell, didn't it."

Shuichi nodded mutely. He didn't know what he could have possibly said. Didn't know what was going on or who he was walking with, so he couldn't possibly explain that the name Kurama was sprawled in his childhood penmanship books with more diligence than his own; that it was on a note, half-burned and full of words he didn't know, that he'd found in the back of his closet; that twice strangers had hailed him by that name, and then hurriedly faded into the background when they saw his confusion. That neither of those strangers had been human.

"How much do you remember about Kurama?" Kuwabara asked.

"Nothing," Shuichi answered truthfully.

Kuwabara waited for more, but Shuichi didn't say anything. "You remember his name," Kuwabara finally pointed out.

Shuichi's heart was thudding in his chest, but he kept his tone composed. "Kuwabara-san, I don't know you. You seem to know me. You have me at a complete disadvantage; therefore, I'd appreciate it if you'd explain yourself before expecting me to do the same."

Kuwabara paused, and then smiled. "That sounds like something Kurama would say."

"Who is Kurama?"

"Walk this way, would you?" Kuwabara pulled him down a different street than the one they had been on--Shuichi followed him without hesitation, even though it was out of his way. "Kurama is--man, this is hard. No wonder no one else volunteered to come get you. Listen, can this wait until we get on the train?"

Shuichi came to a dead halt. Kuwabara, again, was a few steps ahead of him before he realized he had lost his companion and turned around. "I'm not going anywhere with you," Shuichi said.

Kuwabara nodded. "Yeah, I get it. I'm a stranger and I sound like a lunatic and you don't think it's safe to get on a train with me. But I don't have time to make you comfortable or make myself clear to you, okay? Some friends of mine are in real trouble and you might be the only person in the world who can find them. We don't have a lot of time, and we do have a long way to go."

Shuichi folded his arms and looked at him skeptically. Kuwabara took a few steps closer to him. "Ever see a ghost?" he asked casually.

Shuichi didn't say anything, but he felt his eyes widen. "Ever see something that wasn't human?" Kuwabara continued. "Or known something was going to happen before it did? Didn't you ever wonder why you can see all this stuff that no one else can? It's because of everything that happened to you. Even if you don't remember it, your body and your brain were there. So you're psychic--you have heightened spirit awareness. Like mine. I know a lot about you, I know your family, I know most of what happened to you when you can't remember it. I can answer all your questions, but I don't have time to do it here. If you listen to everything I have to say and you still think I'm nuts, you can get off the train. I won't stop you."

Kuwabara waited. Shuichi felt paralyzed. He felt like he was in a Twilight Zone rerun, or a strange dream, and he knew more than guessed that he was about to get involved in something very dangerous--

But he didn't remember half of his life. And this person knew. So Shuichi stepped forward. Kuwabara nodded. "This way."