Disclaimer: Yu Yu Hakusho is the property of Yoshihiro Togashi. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This was written for an LJ community. They assign 50 random words, and I wrote a scene for each one from Kurama's POV.
Watnings: Some adult content and minor violence.
Snapshots: Kurama's Life in Fifty Words or Less
Yukina is beautiful, but cold and so fragile that she might melt away at the first touch of real heat. Kurama considers her a friend, and an innocent to be defended, but he doesn't count her as a member of the team. And he can never see her with Kuwabara, who is nothing if not strength and heat and fire and unbridled life.
Kurama has lived in the human world for years now but he hasn't truly kept human company aside from his mother until Urameshi Yuusuke came along. Now he is nearly surrounded by them, prefers their company to that of nearly all other demons (Hiei is, as ever, an exception) and goes to war with them. But sometimes he catches a moment in his mind and remembers how painfully, desperately young they are. And the knowledge that they will never become as old as he is a pain that could tear him apart if he dwelled on it too long.
The house is made of bricks. It's small and quaint and looks like the kind of house a family would be happy in. It's not at all what Kurama pictures when he thinks of Yuusuke.
"We have earthquakes here," Kuwabara points out. "Brick seems like a bad idea."
"It's so cute," Yuusuke says sadly. "I don't want to be cute."
"Keiko seems to like it," Kurama observes, and she does. She's inside the house with Yukina and Shizuru, poking into every corner and nook and planning where the furniture will go.
"Is building with brick even legal here?" Kuwabara asks.
"I hope so," Yuusuke says. "Cause I think I'm stuck with it."
Kurama has no fear of Koenma's judgment, nor Enma's, nor any other god. He has a life of purpose that is filled with the pleasure of friends and family. Any death he goes to face, any eternal judgment handed down to him, will only be the price he pays for the blessings he has already known. And whatever hell or purgatory may await a demon of his many crimes will be worth it.
Yuusuke smells like baby powder and mashed fruit and somehow still manages to come across like a gangster. Kurama has no idea how he manages it.
"Hiei doesn't look happy," Kuwabara said.
"Does he ever?" Yuusuke laughed.
Kurama hides a smile behind his hands. The fire demon is the only person in all three worlds that could look so grim and fierce in the face of a picnic in the park.
"It was a trap," Kuwabara says the way one would announce the time of day. "I think we're surrounded."
They are. And outnumbered. But never outclassed.
Reiki at a distance reminds Kurama of stars in a night sky.
Yuusuke's face twists grotesquely and for the first time Kurama thinks he could be afraid of this man.
Blood is already seeping through the bandage. Kurama can smell it, copper and salt and infinite fragility. The strongest humans can be terrifyingly fragile to a demon's eyes.
"It's a giant fucking clam," Kuwabara says.
"Oyster, I think," Kurama corrects him.
Kuwabara rolls his eyes. "Oh, don't tell him that. He'll make bad jokes about aphrodisiacs and spend the entire trip home propositioning everything he sees. Including us. And the occasional rock."
"Dude," Yuusuke says, shoving between the two of them. "How much do you think we could get for a pearl the size of my head?"
Tear gems fall to the floor and roll, bouncing off each other with a quiet, glass-like clink.
Kuwabara's job is a source of constant aggravation to his friends as Yuusuke and Kurama try to accept a change in the balance of power. That Kuwabara goes into dangerous situations without them every day is stressful. That there are times he isn't even allowed to speak of the danger he's in drives Yuusuke to distraction. Kurama long since figured a way around it – and if Kuwabara objects to Kurama's and Atsuko's spies inside the police department keeping tabs on him, he hasn't let on.
Kuwabara's fingers are long and graceful against Kurama's skin but they always seem to get tangled around each other when trying to undo the buttons on Kurama's shirt.
Kurama sits down beside Kuwabara, his back against the wall, his shoulder pressed against his friend's.
"This is a crime scene," Kuwabara says dully. "You shouldn't be here."
"They'll find no sign of my presence," Kurama assures him. "Did you find him?"
Mitarai's body hangs limp and grey in the closet, the belt around his neck makes the skin bulge. He was the last of the Seven to take his own life, and they had all thought he might make it. Kurama takes Kuwabara's hand in his own and returns the crushing grip with all the strength he can manage. "You were a good friend to him."
"Not good enough," Kuwabara says at last and stands to call the police.
The fire has long since burned down to nothing but embers and smoke. Kuwabara pokes at the fire with a stick and a flurry of sparks and ash rise into the air.
Kurama has redefined a great many things since he met Yuusuke. Friendship. Power. Wealth. Strength. None of them mean to him now what they did only twenty years ago. Forever means something different to him now. So does loss. And fear. And grief. Adding friendship to his vocabulary has forced him to make other changes as well.
Yuusuke and Kuwabara both sound like a herd of elephants coming down the stairs. It is a quality unique to human boys, Kurama thinks, a super-power all their own, that they can make that much noise with so little effort.
With his powers warded and sealed away, Kurama can only tear at the door with his bare hands, attacking the wood with his fists as he tries to break his way free. He doesn't stop when his fingernails tear or splinters of woods cut into his skin and his blood leaves dark stains on the wood and floor.
Many demons think of humans as prey. Kurama watches Kuwabara move through the crowd, calming the panic with his presence, quelling the troublemakers with a look, and wishes all demons could see this man and know how very, very wrong they are.
It's backwards to grieve for someone before he's even dead, but sometimes Kurama can't stop himself from anticipating the inevitable consequences of loving mortals.
Trouble is another word for Yuusuke.
"Two days ago a demon called Hiei 'little' and Hiei disemboweled him before he cut his head off. Right?"
Kurama hummed agreement.
"So how come Kuwabara calls him 'chibi' all the time and Hiei just ignores him?"
"I'll leave that question to the philosophers," Kurama says without bothering to open his eyes. "But I'd suggest you not point it out to Hiei. His sword hand might slip."
"We should collar him," Yuusuke suggests one night after a particularly trying day, twisting red hair over his fingers.
"A bell?" Kurama teases as he runs his fingers over the smooth muscled chest beside him.
"I was thinking more like a leash," Yuusuke says as he flops down against the pillows. "Maybe with a tracking device installed so we can keep track of him. Like vets do with dogs. Think we could get him tagged?"
Kuwabara is already asleep between them, having heard it all before.
The circle is just like five others they've found, and the child murdered in the center of it painfully similar to five others before. Failure is bitter in Kurama's mouth as he watches Kuwabara kneel beside the tiny body and cover it with his jacket.
Kurama's hands are slippery with blood and he digs his fingers into Kuwabara's arm before he can slip away.
Kurama is held hostage by the lives of his mother and teammates, but as his freedom would mean giving them up, he'll stay a prisoner and be glad of it.
Yuusuke is always the first one in and the last one out, not because he is the strongest, even though he is, or because he is the fastest, even though he is, but because he takes being the leader seriously, even if the rest of them don't.
Kuronue's death is a wound that had barely begun to close when Yakumo's general ripped it open again. Afterwards, Kurama waits for the others to ask about it and it's only after weeks pass without so much as a word that he realizes they don't intend to pry.
He's not sure if he's grateful or not until one day Yuusuke digs a red gemstone pendant out of his pocket and hands it to Kurama. "We found that," he says. "Thought you might want it."
He closes his fingers over the stone, refuses to think about how it came to be in the hands of one of Yakumo's generals and thinks instead of how much time it would have taken them to scour the ground for this small stone.
There are no crowns in the Makai, for all that they have more kings than they really need.
Time moves faster in the Makai, where no one needs to keep track. But Kurama feels its passage infinitely stronger in the Ningenkai where he can count the grey hairs in his mother's bun, where he can watch his younger brother get taller nearly every month. It's the lines around Genkai's eyes that get a little deeper every year that really drive it home to him, and he can only thank whatever god will have his prayers that Kuwabara will outlive nearly every other mortal, even if he will still die far too soon for Kurama's preferences.
Yuusuke can cook exactly three things: rice, ramen and coffee. Not particularly well, but he can manage it. After the third time they had to scrape burned rice off the bottom of the pot, Kurama and Kuwabara mutually agree not to let Yuusuke be in charge of meals on any missions in the future. They task him instead with gathering firewood. Yuusuke finds more man-eating trees than the rest of his teammates combined, but pulling him out of the ground before the roots cover him is still better than eating burned meals after a hard fight.
"No," Kurama says. "When you spell it w-y-r-m it means a kind of dragon. Why?"
"Oh." Yuusuke suddenly looks very worried. "Then I think Kuwabara's in trouble."
Hiei took one look at the drop cloths, brushes and rollers and cans of paint and took off for the Makai without the slightest hesitation. The rest of them were either slower on their feet, or more susceptible to guilt, which is how they ended up painting Shizuru's living room. It took them the better part of three days, they ruined her couch, and at one point it turned into a free-for all as they attacked each other with paint rollers. It ends when Shizuru walks in to find her brother straddling Kurama's waist, holding a bucket of bright blue paint over Kurama's head with a wicked look on his face, Yuusuke holding the youko's hands while Kurama laughs himself breathless.
She doesn't make them pay for the paint or the couch, but she does upend a bucket of green paint over all three of them.
The funeral is quiet and understated. More people come than Kurama had expected, and more of them non-human than he had thought, but Kuwabara had been a good man, and had friends in all three worlds. It seems only fitting.
Kurama thinks he can make it through until he turns and finds Hiei at the back of the room.
Yuusuke could tie a cherry stem into a knot with his tongue. He demonstrated this one day by popping the stem into his mouth and kissing Kuwabara rather without warning. Kurama popped a cherry in his mouth and watched with a raised eyebrow as Kuwabara flailed slightly, finally breaking away with a laugh and spitting the stem in Yuusuke's general direction. "I could teach you," Yuusuke told Kurama with a waggle of his eyebrows.
"I'd rather you show me," Kurama said and Kuwabara rolled his eyes but handed Yuusuke a cherry with a long stem.
He remembers a lot of things from high school, but perhaps nothing as fondly as he remembers all the afternoons and evenings and weekends spent in the library tutoring Kuwabara.
Winning is less about beating the enemy these days and more about getting his teammates home safe and alive.
When you have something you can't bear to lose, losing becomes so much easier. Kurama can win a battle and still lose, depending on whether he came through alone.
Keiko always insists on folding Yuusuke's laundry even though most of it looks like it's been set on fire at least once and will instantly become tattered and wrinkled the second Yuusuke puts it on. It's almost a super-power, she complains on occasion, but she continues to do it long after Kurama would have given up and let him pick his clothes up off the floor himself.
None of them have the same taste in music, though there is the occasional overlap. Yuusuke likes the weirdest things, from heavy metal to American hip-hop to some of the more inventive Makai drinking songs that Hiei has taken to teaching him. Kurama prefers classical composers and orchestral music. Kuwabara likes hard rock. Hiei doesn't usually show any interest in the musical choices presented, but Kurama can't help but notice that Hiei complains about Kuwabara's music far less than anything he or Yuusuke choose.
Kurama forgets most of the time that Kuwabara and Yuusuke weren't always best friends who would fight and die for each other. Oh, they bicker and squabble and occasionally beat the stuffing out of each other but Kurama has seen them when the chips are down, when everything really counts, and there's no denying the friendship between them.
Which makes it strange when he sees them on a school trip only a few weeks after the Maze Castle affair and realizes just how many of his classmates are more than a little afraid of Yuusuke. In fact, aside from Kuwabara and Keiko, most of them keep their distance entirely.
Kuwabara's friends are an exception, making a point of sticking close to Kuwabara and Yuusuke. Kurama doesn't know quite what to make of it at first, until he realizes that those three are protecting Kuwabara. The idea is ludicrous to Kurama, that Kuwabara would need protecting from Yuusuke – that anyone would, save a killer or monster – but then he remembers comments that one or the other of them had made over the last few weeks that suddenly make more sense.
The chaperone from Kurama's school rings a little bell to signal that the lunch break is over. Kuarma balls up his trash and makes a three-point shot for the trashcan beside the table where Kuwabara and Yuusuke squabble while Kuwabara's friends watch with an air of vague confusion. They look up as the ball drops in and Kurama smiles as Yuusuke and Kuwabara wave at him and Kuwabara's friends look even more confused.
Exhaustion pulls at Kurama's bones like quicksand but he keeps watch until sunrise. Asleep, the lines of grief fade from Kuwabara's face and Kurama can almost pretend that they aren't going home without half their team.
Humans touch more than demons do, seem to need it in a way Kurama never understood until he met Yuusuke and Kuwabara. Yuusuke touches people all the time, especially people he likes and Kurama has long become accustomed to being poked in the chest or clapped on the back or having an arm slung over his shoulders. Kuwabara is more restrained, to the point where he makes a conscious effort not to touch some people – Yukina, for example – which makes the casual way he nudges Kurama's foot with his own, or leans on Kurama's shoulder as if the youko were his own personal arm rest all the more telling. They're ten times worse with each other; Kurama can't always follow how they can go from pounding on each other one minute to sitting side-to-side sharing a beer in the next, but whatever works. The problem is that he finds himself leaning into those touches, seeking out that contact, sometimes even initiating it himself, and he wonders how he will adjust when the time comes to return to the Makai.
Kuwabara is the heat and power of lightning, the cold and cleanliness of rain. He smells like leather and cigarettes, he tastes like oranges and beer and his hands feel like electricity on Kurama's skin.
"You have a milk-mustache," he informs Yuusuke.
"Kind of kills the demon lord mystique," Kuwabara agrees.
Urameshi is a true demon lord, untamed and wild. Yuusuke is becoming less a demon and more a force of nature. Lightning with a human soul, if such a thing were possible. It's breathtaking and beautiful, and something a full-blooded demon could never have become.
It's humbling, and a little frightening, the way his teammates so often expect him to have the way out. Their trust is amazing, but the responsibility of knowing that they'll trust his word unto their deaths is almost too much even for Kurama.
The human world is a marvel of technology. Kurama would take much of it back to the Makai with him if he could, if only because a Playstation 3 would make entertaining Shura so much easier.
It has to end eventually and Kurama knows when that will be. He doesn't think the team will outlive Kuwabara, but there's something fitting to that. They shouldn't come out the other side of such a loss unchanged.
c&c always appreciated