Chapter 7: No Rest For the Wicked
(Or, Kurama Hates It When His Actions Have Consequences.)
The demon world, known to the Japanese as the Makai, is a terrible, wonderful place. That is- terrible for anyone wanting to live very long, and wonderful for those demons that were lucky enough to survive a usually short and messy childhood. The strange beings that inhabit such a cruel space learned to adapt eons ago. Ignoring the innumerable physical differences, demons could change their patterns at will- after much practice, of course. There were some demons that awoke once every two hundred and seventeen years exactly to feast on solar flares. Others could stay awake for weeks without tiring. But no conscious thing can stay awake forever, and even these masters of their own sleep cycles had to rest.
Kurama, meanwhile, could function for days with no rest, if it came to that. But his favorite thing to do after busy activities was to sleep in on rainy mornings. While his beloved flora opened their leaves and sang unearthly lullabies to the rain, he would lay in bed and listen, half dreaming. Even Hiei knew better than to disturb him on overcast mornings without good reason.
It was a Sunday morning, which, as everyone knows, are the very best days for rainy sleep-ins. There was a dull thud against the window. Kurama cracked open one eye, stared down the owl that perched behind the glass, and pulled the comforter over his head. The owl was Not Happy. It was wet and damnit, it had flown a VERY long way. It pecked at the glass. An arm slid out from under the covers and groped for the pen on the nightable, throwing it at the source of the noise. With an angry squawk, muffled by the letter in its beak, the owl flew upwards and began scratching the glass furiously with its claws.
"It's Sunday, you know," Kurama informed the bird crossly. The owl had the decency to look a bit guilty, pretending it understood what a Sunday was and why it had anything to do with an owl anyway. Kurama opened the window and let the wet thing fly in, landing on the warm bed and shaking itself dry. It returned the redhead's glare with an anxious hoot and, hoping to placate him, it hopped onto the warm, dry pillow instead.
Kurama sighed. "Really?" He muttered, picking up the envelope the owl had dropped on the floor before him. "I haven't gotten much sleep, you know," he scolded the animal. It didn't have to know he didn't need that much. Besides, it was an owl; it didn't really care either way except that Kurama was scary when he didn't want to be awake. Said scary fox demon ripped the envelope open on one end and slid the parchment out. He skimmed it, caught the words 'family and friends' and 'excruciating death by torture,' and decided to read the entire thing.
There was a purposeful rustle by the window, rather like a polite cough, and Kurama turned to see Hiei stick his head into the window, upside-down. The redhead waved him in quickly and Hiei sat on the bed without bothering to dry himself off.
"I think," Kurama said conversationally, as if commenting on the weather, "that it might be time to move."
Hiei reached out and grabbed the parchment, decided he didn't feel like taking the time to translate the angry-looking English writing, and handed it back. "Hn."
Kurama took pity on him and read it out loud.
"'Dear Minamino-Hatanaka,' something about the weather in England here, 'My loyal followers have found your real name and family home in Japan'- my address, something about coming here within a week 'should My demands not be met to My satisfaction,' several paragraphs describing what potions and wards he wants- oh, lovely, he found out I offer those too?- and then several more paragraphs with explicit detail about what he'll do to my mother and stepfather. They seem to be confused about whether or not I am my stepbrother. I'll just let them stay confused, shall I?"
Hiei tilted his head. "You won't be needing the owl then, will you?"
Kurama murmured something noncommittally, then snapped his head up at the loud SQUARK coming from the direction of his bed. He eyed the feathers and blood, and scorch marks on his headboard, and twitched. Before he could say anything to Hiei, however, a blue streak caught his eye from the window and Botan flew in on her oar, landing gracefully.
"Kurama, Hiei." She nodded at them both, smiling brightly. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"
Hiei grunted and bit the head off his fried owl. Botan stared and grimaced, then looked away, turning a bit green when she saw the blood. "Oh, ew. Eugh."
Kurama smiled pleasantly at her, though it looked a bit strained. He had been expecting her, though he was hoping she would show up much later. Say, in a few years. "Good morning, Botan. How are you?"
The ferry girl's skin turned less green until it was its usual paleness. "Koenma wants to see you. He said it's urgent." Then she added, with a conspiratory glance around, "He looked kind of peeved. What did you do?"
Kurama looked politely confused. "Why would I have done anything?"
Hiei couldn't quite contain his snort and tried to look as innocent as possible when the other two stared at him; it looked unnatural and they both shuddered.
"Well, hop on then." Botan said cheerfully. "Lots of work to do, you know. Hiei, you coming too?"
He 'hn'ed. "If I must."
"You don't." Kurama told him. Hiei ignored him and stood upright at the end of the oar.
"Here we go!" Botan chirped, and they lifted off.
Yusuke answered his phone in mid-ring. "Y'ello?"
Kuwabara's voice said, "We have a problem."
"Oh. Uh, yeah. I kind of was just fixing it. You too, huh?"
Yusuke stepped over the unconscious body of a man in one of those black robes he called a dress. The man's white mask had shattered. While he was wearing it. There was a hole in the kitchen wall; Atsuko would be pissed. They'd just gotten the house a few months ago.
"What do you mean, fixing it? Did they come to your house too?"
"More like through it." He nudged the second man with his socked foot. "D'you think insurance covers wizard explosions?"
"Wizard explosions? Did they explode or did they make something else explode?"
The first man groaned and touched his bleeding face. He let out a shrill scream. Yusuke kicked him in the head and he shut up.
"Err, no. They made something else explode. But now I'm thinking of exploded wizards and, eww."
"I'll call genkai and get her to call Koenma."
"Alrighty. Kurama might have beat us to it, he hasn't been answering his phone."
"I'll let her know."
There was a click and Yusuke sat on his debris-covered floor and waited.
"What in the hells were you THINKING?!" Koenma was in teenager form, and leaned across the desk. Kurama looked mildly surprised and not at all intimidated. Hiei sat in the corner and ruined Kurama's attempt at seeming innocent when he said,
"I was wondering when he'd find out."
"You are far finding this much too amusing." Kurama warned him. Koenma's face took on an unattractive purple.
"I already covered for you once, Kurama," he snapped. "I hid your family in return for the Potter job. But you didn't tell me that you were WORKING for VOLDEMORT!"
Kurama frowned and straightened in his chair. "I wasn't working for Voldemort," he said, as though explaining to a child why the sun was hot. "I told you that I was making level-4 potions for a professor of magic in Britain."
Koenma let out a colorful string of swears that made even Kurama raise an eyebrow. "I didn't know you poke the Yrejqk dialect," he said, sounding almost impressed.
"Hn." Hiei blinked. "I didn't know he knew most of those."
Koenma took that as a slight against his intelligence (since that was most of what came out of Hiei whenever he was in his office) and actually calmed down so he could glare at the fire demon, who was unaffected. Kurama took the chance to explain.
"I did give him several potions. They were all level-4 or below, and all correspondence was through a Severus Snape. I didn't know until you asked me about the warding job that he was a professor at Potter's school, and I had no direct contact with Voldemort until the threats started. Speaking of which..."
Kurama took the folded letter from his pocket and tossed it at Koenma. His face and tone changed from polite to cold, with a dash of dangerous.
"He could not have known my human address. Until now, all letters and potions orders were delivered to an off-the-grid mailbox in-between a bar and a host club on the other side of town."
Koenma stilled and looked up from the letter slowly. He coughed. "I wonder how he could have-"
Kurama's hands slammed down on the desk and he looked directly into Koenma's startled face, which turned into a toddler's inches from his own. His eyes glittered and were more gold than green.
"I wonder," he hissed, "if perhaps he found out from... other sources." His eyes narrowed and were more terrifying. "From say, someone in this office."
Koenma was paler than the envelope the parchment letter had come in and he scrambled backwards, hand hovering over a red button in the wall behind him. Kurama sat down again, all traces of the Youko gone. He crossed his legs and examined his nails.
"Now, I admit that I am less worried about how he found it, and why." His voice was smoother than high-class wine. He waited patiently and scraped an imaginary bit of dirt from under his thumbnail.
Koenma seemed to regain some composure and glanced at Hiei warningly when a short came from his direction. Hiei remained stone-faced.
"It was an order from my father," he revealed after some hesitation. "I think he wants to see what you will do. It wasn't my idea," he spluttered when Kurama gave him a disbelieving look.
"I... see." Kurama was beginning to realize that his actions had, perhaps, worse consequences than he had anticipated. "And now?"
"Well, err." Koenma cleared his throat and attempted to regain some control over the meeting. "I can protect your family, of course. But-"
His phone rang, making him jump, then flush a bit in embarrassment. He snatched up the receiver. "What!" He snapped. Then he colored again, a bit darker. "Oh, yes. Hello, Genkai. What is it? I'm in a meeting... uh huh. Yes, Kurama is here. Hiei too. Uh... huh. I see. I- yes, yes. Okay." He hung up.
Kurama waited patiently.
"Err." Koenma cleared his throat again. "We might have a problem."
Kurama nodded politely and even smiled. An ogre burst into the office.
"Err, sir," Jorge said quickly. "Urameshi and Kuwabara are here to see you. It's urgent, they said."
The two shoved past him without waiting for a response. "What on earth is- oh, hey Kurama. Hiei." Yusuke nodded at them. "We were looking for you, actually," he added to the redhead. "Some wizards put a hole in my mom's new kitchen."
"They came round my place too," Kuwabara added. "Shizuru got one as I was coming home. I got the other one though."
Kurama kept the smile on his face as he turned to the desk Koenma was attempting to hide underneath.
"Koenma." He said calmly.
"Er." The toddler's head poked up and he pretended as though he'd been doing something important. "Yes?"
"Why does Voldemort know where Yusuke and Kazuma live?"
As it had dawned on Yusuke and Kuwabara that they were missing something important, they turned to the toddler as well and crossed their arms.
"I'm sure," Kurama went on, "that it wasn't you who told them, correct?"
"He what? Why?" Yusuke demanded.
"Hey!" Koenma snapped. "Need I remind you this is all your fault, Kurama?"
Yusuke and Kuwabara turned as one to Kurama, waiting for answers.
Hiei waited in the corner, face impassive. Inwardly, however, he hoped that maybe this would teach Kurama about what was okay and probably not a good idea next time he was bored.
'Though,' Hiei admitted to himself, 'he's probably more upset that he got caught than anything else.'
The hours-long meeting had left the entire office covered in reiki scorch marks, burnt paper, and bits of leaves and bark all over the floor and desk. The trip to Kuwabara's apartment was silent. Shizuru took one look at them and left to 'run errands,' despite it being about ten at night.
Kuwabara waited until she was gone until he said, "I'll make some coffee." He grabbed his cat and disappeared into the kitchen.
Yusuke nodded tiredly, running a hand through his messy (and in some places singed) hair. "I'll order a pizza or something."
"Here." Kurama tossed him a credit card.
Yusuke opened his mouth to ask something, then changed his mind and asked Hiei what he wanted to eat.
"Owl sounds good," Hiei suggested. Kurama glared at him.
"Right. Chinese it is then." He left quickly. Kurama sank a little more into the couch cushions, trying to figure out what this odd feeling in his gut was.
He flipped through his emotional rotary, landed on guilt, and sighed. Damnit.
In the kitchen, Yusuke hung up the phone and watched Eikichi sniff the coffeemaker on the counter.
"So," he said conversationally, his question implied. Kuwabara shrugged.
"Are you?" He countered.
To his credit, Yusuke only thought it over for about six seconds before he said, "Nah. I mean, yeah, Kurama messed up this time. But he never has before."
"Mm." Kuwabara leaned against the counter, keeping a safe distance from the old, and sometimes iffy, coffee machine. He let out a breath he might have been holding. "I'm not happy about it. It does put other people in danger. But you're right. He's Kurama. He's our teammate and, no matter what he does, he's also our friend." He admitted, "I can't even try to be angry."
The coffee began to boil into the pot.
"But damnit, I'm sure as hell even more not happy with Koenma. I mean, seriously, we didn't do nothin', so why'd he tell this wizard guy our information?"
Yusuke rubbed his face. "He can't go against Enma. I know that. And I know Koenma didn't agree with it." He scowled at the counter. "Whatever reasons he had, though, I know that we're not gonna let Kurama go to England by himself. Those minion guys, they attacked us, too. Koenma'll keep his word and protect my mom and stuff but I'm not about to sit around and let them attack."
The reply came from above them and they both jumped, instincts kicking in and then subsiding when they realized Botan was standing in the corner. She hopped off her oar, unsmiling.
"Good?" Kuwabara questioned.
The blue-haired grim reaper smiled this time, tightly. "Koenma sent me to help. You're right, he doesn't agree with Enma's orders. He can't overtly defy him, but he can help you in other ways. Enma might want you guys out of the way but Koenma won't sit back and let it happen. You guys have all helped him, and the world, out too much for that."
Yusuke grinned at her. "Yeah well. He got a plan?"
"Well, you already know that he hinted to some of the wizards you guys met about hiring Kurama to help out at the school the Potter kid goes to." Botan waited for their nods and added, "I think he found a way for all of you to go. So he gave me this." She held up a black envelope marked 'confidential' in white kanji. "Once we read it, it'll burn up. So we'll wait for everyone to get to Genkai's first."
The doorbell rang and Kuwabara went to answer it. "Food?" He asked hopefully, opening the door.
The delivery boy was pushed to the side by an irate Keiko, who stormed in past Kuwabara and yelled, "Yusuke!"
"Oh dear." Kuwabara took the food and nodded at Kurama, who came to sign for it. "I'd better go help him out."
"He'll be fine," Hiei grunted from is sudden spot by the open door, making the delivery boy shriek in surprise.
"Of all the stupid-" SLAP! "Seriously, England?! What are you THINKING-"
Kurama smiled charmingly at the poor boy, grabbed the food from him, and handed him a nice tip. He slammed the door in his face and retreated back to his spot on the couch, waiting for the yelling to die down.
Yusuke rubbed the red handprint on his face and scowled at Botan, who coughed delicately and managed to pull Keiko into the living room and distract her with Yusuke's order of spring rolls.
A/N: Hey guys! I really hope this chapter isn't too confusing. I'm trying to keep it a bit vague until chapter 8.
A slightly longer chapter this time, hoorah. :3 I was a bit lost with this story after the last chapter and almost considered just ending it until I solved a few problems and tweaked a few plot points. I finally have a good direction again. This story has actually gone through several transformations since I first thought it up; I like to think it changes as much as I do. -w-
Please let me know what you think! I'm actually much happier with this chapter than any of the others and I hope you are too!