Fanfiction Title: Dirt in the Snow
Anime/Manga Fandom: Yu Yu Hakusho
Author: Harley Cooper
Pairings: Yukina / Hiei (family-oriented)
Warning: themes of emotional violence, self-loathing and trauma on both twins. There could be possible incestuous, pseudo-sexual feelings that Yukina might develop for Hiei but we'll see how it goes from here first. Yukina's POV would be plenty angsty and may seem out-of-character but I'm examining an angle to her personality; I believe there is a depth to her that is not as saintly as most of us interpret it. And that dark side of hers is what I plan on writing about through second-person narration.
Summary: Yukina knew for a while that Hiei is her brother. She confronts him about it and slowly persuades a relationship with him. But the supposed sibling love became too much for both to handle.
Chapter One - Grounds to shatter
You washed the stains of blood from Momoko's underwear.
The girl always visited Genkai's shrine for almost two months now and she was the only friend you had since you came to live here in human world. Momoko is fifteen and she didn't know it was her time of the month that afternoon. So after she timidly protested but to no avail, you now sat on a corner at the back of the shrine, scrubbing the underwear in your hands. There's nothing to it, really, and you're only glad to assist your friend in need. You had no idea that washing someone's underwear is not considered a normal convention in the human society as you later found out that evening.
The pile of dishes on the sink is your only comfort tonight. Genkai retired to bed, only too accustomed to your habits and rituals. In fact, the old psychic doesn't mind that you enjoy household chores. What else would be there to occupy your fancy? The shrine is your shelter and you consider it vital to keep it in great health.
At six in the morning, you rose to cook breakfast and gather water from the well. You remembered that you need to buy milk and eggs later and you asked Genkai for money and the old woman even requested a pack of cigarettes and some doughnuts.
You examined yourself in the mirror, making sure your hair is tied presentably and that your clothes are neat. You glanced at the calendar on your desk and wondered if Hiei will visit you again.
You stopped momentarily when you thought about him. It took you time to put the pieces together but now you knew that Hiei is the long-lost brother you've been looking for. Perhaps you always knew since there was something so oddly familiar about him. You recall the time he rescued you; that dazed look in his expression when you inquired who he is. He said he's no one. You thanked your curiosity that enables you to probe Botan and the others about him casually; every reaction you get is a clue and then you realized it somehow. You gave him your mother's pearl to insinuate that you already know the truth. And he still kept his damn mouth shut. You admitted you hated the glacial village and that they all deserve to die and he just stares you down and demanded that you shouldn't depend on some phantom twin. And you swallowed your sadness and thanked him.
You don't mind his reasons for not telling but secretly you wish he would just admit it and stop running away from it. You'll ask nothing from him but his acknowledgment that you two are family.
No, I know better, you frowned as you began toying the hem of your skirt, I know I just wanted him to come home to me.
"Silly me," You chuckled sadly. You put on some sandals and went out.
It became pretty difficult to carry the carton of eggs and the box of doughnuts while walking. You grasped on the bottle of milk on your right hand with all your might. Sooner of later one of these items are going to drop. You kept walking, contemplating that whichever item falls first would be detrimental. The eggs can never be salvaged. The doughnuts can be. The bottle of milk would be the most problematic. You stopped on some corner and bent down to place the bottle of milk on the ground. You do need a bigger plastic bag to carry the eggs and doughnuts in one hand; that's the conceivable solution in this tiny dilemma of yours.
But then where could you leave these items? You could not carry them all the way back to the store to get a plastic bag from the counter. You sigh irritably but you know you had to find a way out of this. Think, little girl, think!
So you stashed the box of doughnuts in an alleyway close to the store. You saw how many garbage cans are around and you suddenly missed the snow; the cold white blanket is better than this filth. And then you thought about your brother Hiei and wondered if he used to eat from garbage while you enjoyed a home-cooked meal.
You headed back to the store hurriedly, the carton of eggs and the bottle of milk clutched protectively against your body. When you got what you needed, you looked for Genkai's food but it was gone. A homeless person might have taken it. It's an unavoidable prospect, really, since it looks like a stupid person dumped it there for anyone's taking. You hated yourself for that. You could have asked for a big plastic bag in the first place as you were buying these items. You thought about that now that's it's too late.
"Silly me," you said aloud.
You don't have enough money to buy doughnuts. You decided to accept your defeat, go home and apologize profusely to Genkai. And yes, you will feel bad that you're inconsiderate to this kind old woman who gave you a roof on top of your head and a place to eat and sleep. It's surprisingly tragic how a box of doughnuts could make you feel so irrelevant.
But you still stood there in the middle of the street, with the carton of eggs inside the plastic bag and the bottle of milk on the other. And you felt useless.
Why doesn't he just come out and say it? Say it right to my face whenever he visits and stays for dinner. Say it right to my face instead of talking to Genkai about how things are in demon world.
Why can't he say it? You head back to the shrine, climbing the multitude of stairs with your heart still tucked under your sleeve for good measure. You felt so exposed.
"It's all right, Yukina, you can lift your head up." Genkai lighted her cigarette languidly and blew the smoke away from you. "It's just a craving of mine. It's food, it spoils. I have my cancer stick anyway."
You nod and look at the old psychic with weary eyes. Genkai blinked, eyes narrowing. "You wonder if anyone will come today?"
"Momoko won't be coming. She's going to another country." You remarked. It was silly but maybe Momoko is leaving because you crossed her comfort zone without permission. Washing someone's underwear must be very taboo indeed.
This world is nothing like the glacial village, nothing like it at all.
"How about Kuwabara and his sister?"
"I haven't heard from them but I'm sure they'll call first before they drop by." You answered, one hand on top of the other as you stood there in front of Genkai.
The old woman paused and then she asked. "And Hiei? Have you heard from him?"
"No." You looked off, kept your stance relaxed.
"Well, I heard from him."
"Oh." You fought not to squirm, commanded your facial muscles not to react to that. It's not a difficult thing to do anyway. You got enough skill in you to practice faking apathy, thanks to the times you were repeatedly tortured by greedy humans to shed your precious pearls. No, you're not thankful for that, that's just wrong. But the pain you have undergone brought you closer to your brother's, perhaps. Every night while you were held captive you wondered if he suffered as much as you have or worse; this kept you stiff and resilient to more horrors to come. You believed you should be punished because your twin had no one to care for him.
"He says he'll love to join us for dinner."
He'll love to join them for dinner? Not exactly the kind of statement he would use. You know that he probably just agreed with Genkai because the old woman can be persuasive. You imagine your brother's discomfort and how devoid of any courtesy and feeling his response would have been. It's always like that with your brother as you figured out later; crude and simple.
You close your eyes, opened them again, took one deep breath and turned around. Your twin brother stood there, hands shoved inside his pockets. He was a dark sight because his clothes are the same murky color of black and red but you didn't care. He's here.
"Good morning." You greeted him courteously but you avoided sounding too eager. You also tried to ignore the sudden urge to approach him closer than what is expected from you.
"You're early, Hiei." Genkai lit up another cigarette after discarding the last one. "Or did you forget that dinner happens during night time?"
A scoff, a smirk here, Hiei walked past you, eyes on Genkai the whole time he spoke. "I suppose there is a good reason why you want me to eat here again."
"Isn't seeing Yukina reason enough?" Genkai offhandedly replied.
A twitch, another scoff, Hiei glanced briefly at you. "The old hag has gone senile. You better watch out for her."
"I don't mean to be rude but your observation is not correct." Genkai stretched her legs and yawned. "Have you eaten breakfast?"
"I don't need to eat." Hiei expressed his aversion quite well on his face. You spend quite some time staring at that face, every detail, and every change in mood that occurs. You were sure your brother noticed and he didn't mind.
Genkai released some smoke, soothing her lips with a finger. "I'd better leave now. I guess I really wanted those doughnuts after all."
"Oh!" You said. "I'm sorry. I should be the one to go back there and—"
"You should stay here, entertain our guest." Genkai interjected. "I should be able to get my own crap before I become senile for good."
She winked at you and started walking away.
While Genkai walked off, you turned to Hiei and bowed your head. "I apologize for any inconvenience I might have caused you again. Master Genkai keeps requesting for your presence only because she knows I'm too shy to ask for it myself."
For a moment Hiei could only look at you. You just blurted out that you wanted his company and he didn't want that kind of intimacy with you. He spent a great deal lurking in the shadows and looking out for you but that is all.
Still he answers, "it's fine."
"Your transportation to human world must be very uncomfortable." You continued. "I'm sorry to put you through that again."
"Let me make it up to you later." You looked at his face earnestly, your eyes steady. "But are you sure you don't want me to serve you breakfast? At least lunch, Hiei-san, if you care to."
He doesn't want me.
"I'm okay." Hiei kept responding in a strange monotone.
"Do you want to talk?" you offered.
Hiei suddenly looked bewildered as if he only noticed you for the first time. You couldn't blame him; this was the only time that the two of you are alone without Genkai facilitating means and length of the conversation.
"I started learning how to cook," you said. "I've only been here for five months but it's safe to say my life now is very satisfactory. Kazuma-san and Shizuru-san visit often and bring me some books to read or music to listen to."
He doesn't have to know how I'm doing. Ask him how he's doing.
I'm the lucky one. I wasn't thrown in a cliff and left for dead like he was.
"That's good then." Hiei finally answered after he just stood there, eyes slightly wide, listening to you talk.
You gazed into his eyes silently. You should say something to keep this going, to achieve some sort of progress from this, from him. But his eyes were a darker shade of crimson than yours and it's getting harder by every second to look away. You're the same people, same thoughts and feelings; maybe different actions and experiences...but still very the same.
I'm your family. "Hiei-san, would you like some tea?"
"That's fine." Hiei followed you inside and you noticed he kept his distance while trailing behind you. You're not sure you liked that but do you have a choice? This is just borrowed time and you should just make the most of it.
"It's ginger tea." You told him as you placed the cup in front of him. You poured the tea on it and your hand started quivering. You don't know why and he noticed but he chose to say nothing about it. So you forced to keep your smile on and steady yourself. Still, clumsy as you are, you dropped the kettle but he quickly caught it on his hand, unaffected by the hot temperature. You gasped, apologized over and over. You saw that his clothing was drenched. He told you it's fine, it's okay.
It's not. "Please, let me help you clean up."
"I can do it myself." Hiei placed the kettle on the table as you began pressing a clean cloth on his clothes so it could absorb the—
"Stop." Hiei grabbed your wrist tightly. You looked at him, terrified.
"No, I'm—" Hiei lets you go and looks off. He sat there looking at nothing as you knelt beside him, your hand immobile from the portion of his wet clothing. You withdrew. You wanted to give up.
"You don't want me to touch you," you said without realizing it. Hiei must have looked at you in surprise but you couldn't tell since your eyes are still at your lap, at your awful, intruding hands.
"Yukina?" he said you name softly, inquiring what you're feeling, maybe? Isn't he far gone and messed up to care?
"I shouldn't have done that." You managed to smile weakly as you looked up. "It's my fault."
It's always been my fault. I'm sorry I couldn't help you feel better. I'm sorry I couldn't do anything more but to watch you hate what our people have done to you.
"It's my fault." You repeated silently.
"Do you want me to go?" He asked.
"You can stay." And let me make it feel better.
"Okay." Hiei sighed and just sat there and you can feel him watching you but you're looking at your lap again, at your hands that almost wanted to touch his face and body and soul. Silly me.
"Where's that old hag?" Hiei looked behind him, growing impatient.
"I'm sorry, Hiei-san." You said. "If you wish to leave then I don't have a problem with that. I think this room is not big enough for the both of us."
You can run back to demon world, you can let time and space divide us because if you don't want to be here, then just go.
"I don't want you here." You managed to say, your voice colder than you expected.
He stood up. You surprised yourself when you reached out and pulled him into your arms. Your arms are around him just like that. You only realized what you had done when Hiei remained stone-like but tense in your rushed gesture to claim him and his breathing matched yours in confusion...and in a tinge of eagerness that you made him feel and he is now returning back to you even though it was hesitantly done. You withdrew and you can see he looks stunned. And so close. Close enough that you could press into him and melt his skin into yours and it would be feel like you weren't separated from birth at all. Close enough that he is actually a part of you, the discarded infant that nobody from back home wanted, except this dense girl who believes there is something in him to love. When he made a move away from you, you weren't thinking straight anymore so you took him by the shoulders and buried your face on his chest. So selfish of you; you didn't want him to just leave you empty there, not this time. Hiei then moved his hands to your back, supporting your weight. The two of you just stayed like that.
"I'm sorry," you whispered. That hateful word: sorry. It gives people the wrong idea that a mistake can be fixed by one word.
"It was never your fault, Yukina."
You looked at him, your eyes tearless. But you wanted to cry so you could give him your tears and perhaps that would make up for what he had to go through because of your people's crime and their atrocity that scarred him deep.
But instead you told him, "you don't know anything."
"Neither do you." Hiei's face darkened. "So stop this."
"I love you, brother." You panicked. You babbled. "If you don't think I am your home then I don't want you here anymore. You can go. But know that I love you. I love you, brother, I do! I love—"
"Stop." Hiei stayed where he is and you could hear his breath speed up.
"You choose not to believe me, I understand." You kept going. "You think I don't feel how you feel. And I don't, you're right. But I love you."
I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you...
To anybody else, this outpour of emotions called love would help but your brother's ailment is far too rotten to cure. So yes, he's right, you should shut the hell up. Your love doesn't comfort him, it only pisses him off.
"Then go!" You wanted to hit him, shake him back to sanity. "Go away and don't come back here if you can't accept that! You don't belong here if you believe so yourself. You don't want to belong here with me! So go!"
You start pushing him out of the room now with all the force your body can give. Hiei didn't struggle; he allowed your fists to clutch his sleeves, to tear him to pieces. You pushed until both of you were outside. You close your eyes, blinded by tears that should never come. You're embarrassed to death and Hiei was silent, his hands gently grasping on your wrists as you push him off, shove him and make him feel unwanted. And the next instant, while the two of you tugged and held onto each other, he was murmuring, "it's okay" and he means it for he keeps saying it and you wonder why he does. You know it's not okay and he's shouldn't mean it at all.
"Go!" You screamed and started choking, sobbing. He held your wrists up, like he doesn't want you to cover your face with them. Maybe he wants to see you cry. He wants to see you in pain. So you gave him that, it's all you could give him for now. It will never make up for the kind of hell he must have endured. You know that the Jagan eye he had implanted on him must've stung. You know why he's moody and sulking in corners when everyone else is having a good time. You know why his childhood was tainted with nothing but blood and sin. It's your fault, you and the other ice apparitions. Oh, how you hate your breed, treating everyone like dirt in their perfect snow.
You feel like collapsing to your knees but the strength of his hands on you kept you on foot. Your eyes are half-opened, seeing his own eyes with the same hue of red like yours flickering with concern. Stop caring about me! But you can't say it right now, your throat, your nose, your eyes are clogging, pouring out. A flood of pearls hit the ground you both stood on. He didn't stop you, he lets you cry.
Hiei carried you back inside, collected you in his arms when he's not supposed to because you don't deserve his kindness and you wondered what he was thinking right now. You were hysterical and you wondered how it made him feel.
He thought you were asleep but you were faking. But either way he was dying to get away and ends up destroying some trees around the shrine. And you can hear him slashing trunks with his katana. While he remained outside slaughtering anything that comes in contact with his sword, you begged for his forgiveness in your semi-sluggish condition. He has to forgive you for toying with his good intentions like that, shouting for him to go. He was already thrown off a cliff, Yukina, why do you have to torment him some more? He came to have dinner, although begrudgingly, but that doesn't change the fact that he's here to spend time with you, to share a table and eat with you and pretend, even for a short time, that nothing is broken.
You crawl close to the door and listened. You heard Genkai. "You know, those trees are older than you."
"I don't think so." Hiei answered. "And neither are you."
"So much for respecting your elders." Genkai remarked. "What happened? Is your sister okay?"
"She's tired. She went to sleep."
"Whatever you say." Genkai said. "You're lucky I don't interfere with family qualms especially of this sort. But you're gonna have to talk to her."
"I don't remember asking for an advice."
"You're still getting one, asshole. For someone older than I am, you sure act like a brat. You make me miss Yusuke and I don't like that."
"I'll handle it the way I see fit."
"Okay, genius. Now stop cutting down my damn trees."
You went back to your futon. You buried your face in the pillow and tried to suffocate yourself if it saves your brother the trouble of confronting you. But no, you shouldn't be unfair to him; you should give a chance to talk to you about everything. And you will listen. You will spend all day just listening to him if that's what it takes. You have to find a way, a way for him to feel he belongs with you. You know you're being selfish because you did leave the glacial village to find him; because you wanted him for yourself; you wanted your brother to complete a small fracture of whatever family the two of you can conceive. But you'll hold back that information for now. You should hear him out first. You should listen.
Your brother stayed in the shrine, supposedly waiting for you to wake up. When you did, Genkai pointed the direction to where he is and you found him resting under a tree. His defenses are down when he sleeps, as you can see, and you were almost hypnotized that you stood there and watched him. He could feel you staring. He cracked open his eyes and gazed at you. His expression was unreadable but he didn't seem mad. He should be. You bowed your head, ready to render another vain apology when he stopped you. He got up to his feet and looked at you and you were forced to keep your mouth shut. With that one look you forgot how to breathe.
"Hiei-san," you managed to greet him.
"Are you feeling much better?" he asked. You want to tell him that your welfare is irrelevant but instead you told him you're fine.
He looked at your face with that dazed expression again from the first time you met. He is warm but not warm like he-finds-you-endearing-warm, just warm. You cleared your throat and told him you were embarrassed for your previous actions and words and you hope that he will find no bad intent. Hiei just nods.
"Yukina," he begins, pauses. He didn't speak up for two minutes after saying your name. And then he says, "I never should have come here."
"But you had. Thank you."
"You're doing great, you told me that yourself." He went on, "I don't want to get in the way of that."
"It's not like I earned it." You looked off, pained.
"Stop saying foolish things." Hiei scolded you mildly, apparently unimpressed with your self-pity. "You got here because there are people who cared enough to see you happy."
That didn't help the guilt kicking you in your heart. You glanced back at him and shook your head. "Not when you suffer amidst my good health."
"This is one of the reasons I never revealed that I was your brother." He explained, his expression soft and apologetic.
"I know." You assured him. "You care about me."
His eyes widened, he couldn't believe you just said that. You almost died when you saw that it seemed to shake him and you feel bad that you caused it. But it must have been true because he confirmed it with a sigh.
"I won't gloat and act like I have a right to you." You told him, tried to convince him. "But it would grant me peace if I could be part of your life somehow; maybe not all the way or maybe not right now...but hopefully we could work something out."
Hiei listened and his eyes never left yours as if he is searching for something there, something he could find if he looked harder enough. You dared yourself to take a step forward and when you did, he just watched. You stepped forward again. And again. And you can detect his uncertainty when you pressed a hand on his chest.
Your touch affects him in ways you could never understand. He lived a terrible life and was forced to survive as a criminal and surely you could at least comprehend that. You know he was never cared for and so this simple gesture is too strange to him. But you appreciated how he meekly lets your hand stay where it is, on his heart, reaching for a core underneath.
"Human hearts beat, you know." You told him. "Kazuma-san once let me feel his heartbeat. It's an amazing thing; it's like listening to a soul's sound while it lives."
"Unfortunate that we don't have that privilege." Hiei sounded sarcastic but you understood why he always retorts this way.
"Are you wearing the necklace?" you ask.
And he shows it to you. He had two of them now and he said that you should get yours back. You refused, you said it's your gift. Your brother simply shrugged his shoulders and waited for you to say something else.
Removing your hand from his chest, you kept your eyes on his face and you only realized now that he had scars on his cheeks and even though you wanted to ask how he got it, you're still afraid your concern will be rejected.
"What do you want for dinner?" you decided to keep the mood light. Your brother gazes upon you like you're some kind of a saint. You feel his eyes burn on you whenever he thinks of you this way; you knew he does even when he doesn't speak it. And it bothers you that he's doing it right now.
"Anything will do."
"Like the last time?"
You glanced at the clock and then across the sky. Sighing and brushing a loose strand of hair from your face, you smiled at him.
He just stared at you and shoved his hands back in his pockets. It was almost ten in the morning and you haven't eaten anything yet. But it seemed to be the least of your priorities right now. Right now you want to talk to your brother and get to know him. He sometimes raises his eyebrow when you inquire about that Mukuro he is living with back in demon world; especially when you used the term 'living with.' You noticed a cast of shadow in his features. He doesn't like that but he said nothing. You picked up on this subtle vibe and started thinking about other things you can talk to him about.
"Kazuma-san asked me if there is a custom in demon world where two individuals can be bound by a contract that lasts for a lifetime; a male and female of the same species, that is, bound as one."
"Was he specific on his intent or was he simply stumbling again inside the haze of his stupidity?" he bitterly retorted.
"You don't like him," you pointed out the obvious. "He's very thoughtful and caring, Hiei-san. I think that you two could along quite well if..."
If what, Yukina? You don't even know how to continue that sentence.
But your brother ignores your sentiment. He clearly doesn't want that kind of relationship with Kazuma and so he asked instead. "And what is this contract he speaks about?"
"Marriage, the humans call it that."
"I heard it from Yusuke once. The male proposes to the female and if the female accepts, there is some kind of ceremony to unite them."
"They wear white garments." You added. "And they put rings on each other."
"To symbolize property, no doubt."
You frown. "I think the said ornament is more of a symbol for their devotion."
Hiei scoffed under his breath and you wonder if he's bored around you. You bite your lip and even though you wanted to ask, you didn't.
"So did Kayko say yes?"
He looked at you, confused for a moment. And then he answered, "I don't know, Yusuke and I don't exactly hang around that much. Kayko is here. Does she not visit you?"
"Not for quite some time. She's busy with school."
"Ah, school." Hiei said the word as if it offended him. "Education is a fluke to keep the young humans sheltered and behaved inside an institution that controls them."
"I think schools and education are important for someone to be literate."
Your brother gives a cold glare and this silenced you. He softened a little when he saw you looking down on your feet again. He said. "I'm sure some people can find it useful. Kurama has been accustomed to such practice so I guess..."
You know this is his way of apologizing for being so blunt about the discussion. You're both unsure how to act around one another, treading on an invisible line that will snap if both of you are not paying attention. Your brother isn't used to your presence just yet and even in this small exchange of opinions you already formed a disagreement.
"I heard the demon world is quite peaceful now," you resumed. "And it must be very nice for you to help facilitate it."
The remark caused him to look at you blankly. You know he doesn't care about things like that but you wanted him to; you wanted him to care about the goodness in both worlds because if he does he might just see things differently, in a more serene perspective. You waited for his response.
He said. "It's fine. Nothing interesting happens lately, save the occasional dumb humans stepping on the territory. It's a chore."
There is still hostility in his manner of speaking but you try to believe this isn't because he doesn't like talking to you. "Oh, in that case, you can always come here then if you don't have better things to do." You wave your hands in front of you. "But that is just a suggestion, of course."
Your brother nods, to your pleasant amazement. "Why not," he says.
This is going smoothly than you expected. You smiled wider, blushing and he noticed it and he looks off somewhere, suddenly reluctant to look you in the eye. But it's all well, he's opening up to you. If you're patient enough, he can be with you and you can be with him. You'll be his home and your mother, bless her, would be so happy to see her children united.
"Kazuma-san asked me about marriage because he wondered if he could marry me."
"What?" the shock and rage in your brother's voice puzzled you.
"I told him that I never thought about it."
"He has a death wish." Hiei clenched his jaw and fell silent after that.
"I think it was sweet of him to ask." You tried to console him. "Kazuma-san genuinely cares about me. He's one of the people you said who cares to see me happy. Like yourself."
"That's a bleak comparison."
You know you shouldn't but you chuckled at his comment. His mood swings don't scare you anymore and his stance stopped being rigid. You can see his shoulders relax and his face calm.
So you felt confident when you told him you are hungry and you need to eat. He looks at you and asks why you told him that just now and you know that he could tell you were ignoring your hunger to spend time talking to him. He didn't like that but you told him that you're your own person and if you choose to do things, sacrifice little comforts, to spend time with your family then that's non-negotiable. He shuts up after this and you see a faint color of blush on his cheeks that made you wish you've met him earlier in life. Or better yet; that you should've been thrown to the cliff together with him. It's a morbid thought but it doesn't scare you like it should.
It even grants you peace.