Disclaimer: I claim no rights to Yu Yu Hakusho, nor any related characters or merchandise, and make no profit from the writing or distribution of this work of fiction.
It's wet. That's most of what Kurama thinks, these days. With the constant rain and the floods that come like clockwork, there hasn't been a day in the past few months that Kurama's really been dry. And he supposes that's when he knew things were getting bad - when he stopped just seeing the rain and actually started feeling it.
He had known before that, of course, that things were starting to get a little hairy - Koenma had been surprisingly prompt in getting the information out, perhaps in light of what had happened the last time the River Styx decided to overflow its banks. But he doesn't think anyone could have predicted this.
It had started as light rainfall, a rain that only people with heightened Spirit Awareness could see in the corners of their vision. And it had only gotten heavier, the gentle drizzle turning into curtains of water that left Kuwabara stumbling around half-blind. And then the rest of them could see it, too - not as heavily, but there.
Not long after, it had turned into real water, ice cold - but they hadn't been the only ones to notice. Normal humans, with no business in anything having to do with the Spirit World other than it being the place their souls went when they died, had stopped, puzzled, at the feeling of droplets of rain on their skin from seemingly nowhere.
The isolated drops had turned into occasional showers, and the occasional showers into a near-constant downpour - the streets had become streams, then rivers. And then the demons came.
As far as anyone had been told, before all contact with the Spirit World was lost, the water pouring into and between worlds was doing what all water does - eroding. Specifically, what it was eroding was barriers - the barriers between. And suddenly, there were demons everywhere, the Human World, the Spirit World - and the souls of the dead were showing up, too.
The problem has only gotten worse with time, as the barriers degrade further. Passage from the Demon World has become essentially unhindered, Spirit World has disappeared under the raging waters, and dead souls with nowhere else to go roam the Human World instead, lost - seemingly forever.
Still, Kurama thinks, slogging through the streets, knee-deep in frigid water, there's a job to do. He's been assigned the duty of helping the Spirit Detective on his missions, and Yusuke's job has always been protecting Japan from the threats posed by the other worlds. It's not like that has changed - even though, Kurama considers, the place that first issued those commands hasn't been heard from in weeks.
If there's one good thing he has to say about all this, though, it's the fact that he no longer has to come up with elaborate excuses to explain his whereabouts on these demon-hunting missions. Students don't focus as well when they're sitting in six or seven inches of water, and all school has thus been cancelled. Indefinitely. A small smile crosses his face as he remembers Kuwabara's and Yusuke's exuberant reactions to that bit of news. And his family... The smile fades.
Bent forward against the current in a half-crouch that is nearly instinctual after all this time, Kurama spies a shop awning that has somehow held up after the onslaught of rain and changes his path almost without thinking. Under the relative cover provided by the metal overhang, he reaches up and wrings what feels like nearly ten pounds of water from his sodden hair. When all this began, Hiei had offered to cut it, but Kurama had refused - it was something of his old life, and that meant more to him than the inconvenience of it. Since then, he's had numerous second thoughts, but the opportunity seems to have disappeared.
With a sigh, Kurama leans back against the shop front and massages his weary legs. The current is strong today, and though he's become accustomed to it, his muscles will tense up if he leaves them alone in the cold - he knows this from experience. And he also knows from experience that it leaves him near incapacitated, which is not the most ideal of situations to be in when something big and hungry comes his way. He has the scars to prove it.
"Kinda wet, isn't it?" Yusuke asks, and Kurama has to close his eyes against the sudden rush of emotions. It's been a long day. He opens his mouth to say as much, but Yusuke beats him to it.
"I know, I know," the boy says, and even with his eyes closed, Kurama can see the way he's holding his hands up in front of him defensively. "Don't I have someplace better to be? Honestly, Kurama - not really. I still don't know where they are."
Kurama sighs again and tips his head back against the building behind him, taking a certain comfort in its solidity. It's a common occurrence, since the chaos began, that people are separated from their friends and family. It's what's happened to him, after all - although perhaps that's not quite accurate. He knows full well where their bodies are, having buried them himself. But their souls could be anywhere in the worlds - Human or Demon. He supposes that's part of what this endless wandering is about. Sure, he's taking down demons as he finds them, making the world a safer place for the humans left alive, but in the back of his mind, he knows that he's hoping he'll run across them someday. His mother, his stepfather, his stepbrother.
"Should probably think about finding a place to camp for the night," Yusuke says suddenly, surprising Kurama into opening his eyes. He hadn't realized it was getting so late, but the hazy gray light is quickly darkening into what will be the pitch black of night, and Kurama by no means wants to be caught outside as the temperature drops. Options scarce, he turns and bends to examine the lock on the door of the shop. It's exterior has sheltered him thus far - maybe its interior will serve for the night.
Most likely thanks to the awning that's been sheltering him, the lock is surprisingly rust-free, and it shouldn't be the work of more than a few minutes for Kurama to pick it and let himself inside. As his fingers go through motions old and familiar, Kurama lets his mind wander. It's not often Yusuke takes the time to think about such basic needs as a place to stay for the night. But things can change, Kurama knows.
The tumblers shift, the lock clicks open, and Kurama stands, stretching his back until his spine cracks in a series of satisfying pops. But he doesn't open the door yet. If the shop is sealed as well as it seems, he'll need to move quickly. Once the door is open, the water will rush inside, and Kurama doesn't exactly want to sacrifice the first dry place he's found to sleep in weeks. If he's good about opening the door just far enough to squeeze inside, quick enough about slipping in and shutting the door behind him, he might even have enough dry space to start a fire, really warm himself up for the first time in a very long time.
He turns, then, and in the rapidly fading light, he can almost pretend he can't see the rain through Yusuke's semi-translucent body. The barriers are thin, indeed, but Yusuke's is the only soul Kurama has yet managed to find.
"'Night, Kurama," Yusuke says with a grin, and fades - but Kurama isn't worried. He opens the door to the shop and slips inside in one graceful motion, pleased when only a thin layer of water sweeps its way across the floor before he can force the door closed again - leaving him plenty of dry (or that which will dry quickly) space for the night.
He knows Yusuke will be there in the morning, almost solid enough for Kurama to believe he's alive again. He doesn't know what Yusuke does during the night - continues the search for the souls of the others, Kurama guesses, traveling farther and faster than Kurama could ever manage on foot - but he is sure that Yusuke will be there when he awakens. He always is. And he can only hope that someday soon, Yusuke might return with one or more of the others in tow.
For now, though, he only takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, and leans back against the door again - only this time, from the opposite side, with the promise of a warm fire in the back of his mind, and a gentle smile on his face that feels at once both foreign and familiar.
And for a moment, he can almost feel the fleeting brush of a callused hand on his neck, can almost smell the musk of sweat and the tang of blue-white energy in the air - and the smile feels more natural than ever. Because there are some things that don't change, no matter what happens.
"Goodnight, Yusuke," he murmurs, and swears he hears an achingly familiar laugh drift through the night air.