Of course it takes until the end of the World - which didn't happen, btw - for me to finally update. I should've planned this... great idea... Anyway, this is the last chapter of Lost, and probably the end for Kaori. I may write something else with her eventually, but I've got other stuff in my mind I wanna play with, like that Touya fic I've been hinting at.
Thank you everyone for sticking with this story/trilogy/me for so long. I do appreciate all of the reviews, hits, favs and follows. Can't make any promises about if/when new stuff will be showing up on here, but do know that I wasn't hit by a meteor and zombies have not reached my front door.
Of course, I don't own Yu Yu Hakusho, and please leave a Review.
Kaori just stared at the house. Kurama didn't notice her pause until he was a few paces in front of her. She was just… looking at it, full of dread and gloom and worry. The grip on her bag looked as if it a vice had clamped on the fabric and had been sealed. Her eyes were soft and she was trembling slightly, her lower lip caught in her teeth. She hadn't looked so defeated since they first met her.
He almost didn't recognize her.
"Kaori?" he questioned gently. She looked to him – practically startled at his presence – before looking back at the house and taking a step away from it.
"I can just go live with Ayame," she said softly. "That way, they won't have to deal with me, and I can still go to school with you and-"
"Kaori." Kurama turned to face her, taking her free hand in his and slowly uncurling the fist she had been holding at her side. "At least give it a chance. Besides, Koenma ordered you to stay with me, didn't he?"
"Then he should be here explaining that to them," she pleaded. "We should've told them I was an exchange student. Oh! A transfer with you assigned for my live in tutor! It's not your fault that they made me live in your house!"
Kurama let out a sigh. "I thought you wanted to get everything out in the open."
"Your stepdad hates me."
"He does not. Also, he's not even home."
"…what?" Kaori was almost dumbfounded. "But… humans are always home." Kurama almost let out a laugh, smiling instead.
"He works in a building downtown. He'll be there until just before dinner. And Shuuichi's at school, much like we would be if we didn't have work to do in the Demon World."
"Also, ours was on fire," Kaori added, taking a deep breath. "So we can do this one at a time?"
Kurama squeezed her hand in reassurance. "My mother with love you."
Before Kaori could change her mind, he pulled her gently towards the front door. He easily pulled out his house key and opened the door, grabbing Kaori's hand before she could dart away. "Mother! I'm home!" he called, slipping off his shoes and setting his own bag down by the door. Kaori mirrored his actions, holding her breath as she heard movement in the kitchen.
"Welcome back, Shuichi dear!" His mother called before leaning around the doorframe. Her eyes landed on Kaori before she visibly brightened. "Oh! You came back! I was so worried!"
"Good afternoon, Mrs. Minamino," Kaori said with a bow.
"A pleasure to see you again, Kaori dear," Shiori replied with a smile. "I can't leave the stove at the moment, but you two are welcome to join me in here if you'd like."
"Of course," Kurama said, smiling at his mother. He nudged Kaori forward and the two entered the kitchen, sitting at the table while Shiori continued to work on dinner at the counter. She paused a moment, turning to look at the young woman next to her son, and for a moment she looked concerned.
"I'm sorry Kaori, I should've asked you if you had any food allergies or anything before I made you dinner too," she said. Kaori blinked, looking between Shiori and Kurama, who seemed not nearly as surprised as Kaori was.
"Um, no, whatever you make is fine," she said. "I mean, I didn't want to intrude-"
"Nonsense!" Shiori said, turning back to the stove. "I'm sure Shuichi has an explanation. He never does things on a whim, and if he felt you living here was the best course of action, then I will stand by his decision until a better choice for you would arise."
"You're not… mad?" Kaori asked, tentatively. Shiori turned around to face her, an almost sad smile on her face.
"I will admit, I was a bit surprised by you suddenly being here," she said. "But after Shuichi told us about what happened to your parents, I couldn't be upset with you for needing somewhere to go." She walked over and set her hand on Kaori's. "You're a lovely young lady, who's been dealt a bad hand. You will be forever welcomed in my home and as a part of this family. Don't you ever think that you can't come to me for fear of rejection, Kaori. Unless you'd rather be somewhere else, this will be your home too now."
Kaori stared at this woman, tears filling her eyes as Shiori wiped away her own stray tear. Kaori stood quickly and pulled the older woman into a hug, crying into her shoulder while Shiori held her close. Kurama couldn't help the small smile that was growing on his own face. While he had expected his mother to be much more forgiving, he didn't expect her to accept Kaori so quickly and wholeheartedly.
"Thank you so much, Mrs. Minamino," Kaori said, pulling back quite reluctantly. "You are the sweetest woman I've ever met since my own mother."
"Don't you fret over it, Kaori," Shiori said with a smile. "Now go clean yourself up. Little Shuuichi will be home soon and we can't have him thinking something else terrible happened." Kaori nodded, smiling brilliantly at the woman in front of her. She headed out of the kitchen and up the stairs to the bathroom to wash her face, leaving the two Minaminos alone. Kurama stood and pulled his mother into an embrace and kissed her on her forehead.
"Thank you, mother," he said quietly, reveling in the calmness he always felt from her presence.
"I'm sure you thought this through," she said, taking the time to pull out any tangles only a mother would find in her son's hair. "I'm trusting you to take care of her."
"Of course, mother."
"You would have the most beautiful children."
Kurama pulled back abruptly, taken aback at his mother and the grin she had on her face. "Mother! Are you only allowing her to stay here in the hope that we'll give you grandchildren?" Shiori laughed, waving him off and turning back to the cooking.
"Of course not dear! She's a sweet girl and you said yourself she had nowhere else to go. I'm sure you will have beautiful children soon enough. I would just like to get to know her a little better is all."
Kurama was completely in shock. He had expected this from his little brother before his mother. "We're still in high school, mother! Then there's University to think about and-"
"Oh, you don't need more schooling. You're already so bright. Your stepfather would love to have you at his company once you graduate. You'll be more than ready to start a family in a couple years."
If Kurama's mouth could open any wider, it would have. Shiori either did not see her son's surprise, or completely ignored it while she continued to prepare dinner, smile permanently placed on her face for the rest of the evening, while her son was stuck sputtering.
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Kaori had to admit, while she felt much better than when they first headed back to Shuichi's house – her new permanent home – she was still nervous at dinner. Younger Shuuichi seemed neither surprised nor bothered by the decision to let her stay. He asked her questions about where she came from, and luckily Koenma's cover didn't need to be altered too much for it to be believable.
She described a location very similar to Genkai's land, claiming it to be outside Mushiori City, making it far enough away to be not directly known, yet close enough that her meeting with Kurama and 'that punk Yusuke' didn't seem too impossible.
The only one who seemed to be slightly bothered was Kazuya. Apparently Shiori had made this decision on her own, and while he agreed that it was probably for the best, he was slightly sore about being left out of the decision making process.
"I heard that your school has been repaired enough for classes to resume this week," Kazuya said. Kaori nodded, chewing her food and swallowing before responding verbally.
"We were told that the semester won't have to be extended," she said, looking towards the older man for the first time of the meal. He nodded, keeping his focus on the meal and not on her. Young Shuuichi, however, had been sneaking glances at her and Kurama continually.
"Wish I got to take a break like that," Shuuichi mumbled. This made Kurama chuckle and Shiori shake her head.
"You were on vacation for almost a month," he reminded his little brother.
"Well yeah, but I was still doing work," Shuuichi muttered. Kaori giggled at him, catching his eye again. "So what's it like being in classes with my brother? Is he as boring in school as he is at home?"
Kurama gave a half hearted glare, while Kaori and Shiori both laughed. "He's not that boring," Kaori said. "Sure, he's a nerd, but what do you expect? His brain is huge. What do you think is under all that hair?" Shuuichi nearly choked on his drink when Kurama's glare shifted to Kaori, who continued to sip as if nothing had happened.
"That was great!" he laughed. Even Kazuya was a bit taken aback, while Shiori covered her continuing laughter with a napkin over her mouth.
"I'm surprised Shuichi has finally opened up enough to allow a girl to get close to him," Shiori smiled. "My son has always shied away from a lot of the girls at his school."
"Mother," Kurama sighed.
"I believe it," Kaori said for him. "Some of them are on the crazy side. I'm surprised he's as sane as he is, being surrounded by so many fans all the time." There was a moment of silence at the table, when Kaori noticed Kurama's very, very slight flinch.
They don't know about the fan club?! Kaori's mind raced.
"Fans?" Kazuya asked. Kaori's eyes grew slightly.
"What kind of fans?" Shiori asked. Kaori's eyes became as large as saucers while Kurama's head dropped ever so slightly.
"Oh…" she trailed off. "I didn't… um… He has many admirers?" Kaori tried, looking between three shocked faces. "He's the smartest kid in school, he's such a gentleman, and, well, attractive. Many of the girls have crushes on him."
"But all he does is sit and read!" Shuuichi said.
"I am not a recluse," Kurama spoke up. Shuuichi turned up his nose at his older brother, making Kurama sigh again and rub the bridge of his nose. "A hermit, Shuuichi."
"It's nice to know I did a good job making you amicable," Shiori smiled. Kurama couldn't help but smile at his mother. "I'm also glad that those 'admirers' didn't drive you away, Kaori. You're such a lovely young lady. I couldn't imagine Shuichi finding anyone else. You make a lovely addition to our family." Kaori smiled warmly as well, a slight blush on her cheeks while Kurama's face fell. Again.
"You have a wonderful son, Shiori," Kaori said. "Your whole family is beautiful. I'm sure it's just a matter of time in your household until young Shuuichi starts getting admirers of his own." Here the younger brother blushed, and Kazuya couldn't help the slightly prideful smile from crossing his face.
Shiori giggled, almost like a high school girl yourself. "You're so sweet," she said. "I'm sure you've been rubbing off on my Shuichi while we've been gone. Your home will be even more lovely, I'm sure." Kurama looked up to his mother, seeing the wheels turning in her head. Luckily, he wasn't the only one.
"Oh relax, Shiori," Kazuya chuckled. "It's not like they're engaged yet."
"Only a matter of time, Kazuya dear," Shiori smiled, clasping her hands in front of her and watching the blushes grow.
"Patience, mother," Kurama said, only adding to the woman's mirth. "We do need to get out of high school first. Then, we will see what happens."
"Just don't make me wait too long for grandchildren, Shuichi," Shiori said. Kaori nearly choked on her drink, coughing and sputtering for a moment before looking between Shiori and Kurama.
"Gross," Shuuichi said, setting his fork down. "Good thing I'm done eating."
"We'll clear the table," Kurama said, standing and taking his mother's plate as well as his own. Kaori stood as well, taking Kazuya's and the younger Shuuichi's. She followed Kurama into the kitchen, and cornered him by the sink.
"She wants grandchildren?" Kaori asked in a loud whisper. Kurama sighed and nodded. "Does she want them with tails?!"
"We will have to deal with that when the time comes," Kurama said, taking Kaori's hand.
"Does Koenma have a charm I can wear to make me have a normal human pregnancy?" Kaori asked next. "And what about at the hospital? I can't have a litter in a human hospital!"
"There is always Genkai's. And by then… by then, hopefully all will be well enough that we don't need to keep it a secret from my mother." Kaori looked at him in surprise for a moment.
"You'll tell her about Yoko?" She asked. Kurama sighed and nodded, looking back towards the dining room. Apparently his brother hadn't completed all of his homework for the next day, and his parents were too distracted in lecturing him to notice their absence much.
"I have been lying to her for my entire life, keeping a wall up between us to keep her safe when my time came to take leave of this world." His eyes returned to Kaori's, holding them still. "I'm not quite ready to fill her in on all of my exploits, but she will one day have to learn the truth. If I want to raise our kits in the Makai, then we need to explain why we're leaving. If we raise them here, she'll find out the truth eventually, and I'd rather it came from me instead of some frazzled doctor."
Kaori smiled at Kurama, pulling him into an embrace. "I'm glad you're alright with sharing yourself with your mother," she said into his chest. He chuckled, the rumble going through his body into hers.
"As I've previously stated, I am not a recluse."
Kaori giggled, nodding into his chest. "I'm glad your mother at least likes me enough that she things I'm worthy to have her human grand-ooooh goodness do you want human children?! I can't have – they'd be half I guess if we were in these forms but – what are we gonna do?!" Kaori pulled back, looking at a pair of green eyes framed by red hair. Kurama chuckled, rubbing a hand down Kaori's arm.
"I would never ask you to try and pretend to be completely human, or be a surrogate for human children," he said. "We will have kits, because we are kitsunes. If we are still in this world, they will have to pretend as we do, but they will be able to freely go to the Demon World if they wish, as we will, if you wish."
"Ok." Kaori nodded, biting her bottom lip in thought. Kurama caught her chin and made her look back into his eyes.
"However, we are too young to be worrying about reproducing." She couldn't help but smirk and raise an eyebrow.
"I dunno, you're-"
"Kaori, I am not old," Kurama interrupted, eyes narrowing at her. She giggled, drawing a small circle on his chest.
"Of course not, Shuichi," Kaori purred. Kurama couldn't help but chuckle at her antics. He pulled her into a kiss, holding her against him tightly. She practically melted into the kiss, relaxing completely for the first time all night.
They heard a chair slide out from the table and instantly separated, Kaori immediately turning to the sink and cleaning the plates while Kurama grabbed the garbage and prepared to take it out. He turned, feigning surprise at seeing his mother at the door, but he couldn't help but pause at the slight disappointment on her face. "What is it, mother?" he asked, setting the garbage down again.
"Oh, nothing dear," she said, giving him a smile, walking over and getting the kitchen door for him. Kurama picked up the garbage again and kissed his mother on the forehead before taking it out to the street. Shiori turned her attention to Kaori by the sink, who was humming a song and setting the now-cleaned plates on the counter to be dried. "Kaori?"
"Hm?" the girl replied, looking up to Shiori. She had a serious look on her face, so Kaori sat down the sponge. "What's wrong?"
"You're in love with my son," Shiori said. Kaori baulked, and Shiori back-pedaled. "Sorry, that isn't the problem. I haven't met many of his female friends, and he never looked at any the way he's looked at you. I know you're special and I wish you every happiness with him."
"Thank you, Mrs. Minamino," Kaori said with a slight bow. Shiori looked behind her to the door, thought about it for a moment, and then shut and locked it, making Kaori raise an eyebrow.
"Oh, he can go around to the front," Shiori said, leaning against the door for good measure. "The thing is… I've always felt that there was more to my son than he would let on." A knowing look crossed Kaori's face, and she leaned against the counter, giving Shiori's concerns her full attention. Both women heard an attempt to open the door, but Shiori completely ignored it. "He's very private, as I'm sure you've noticed. It's been difficult for me to always figure out what really go through his mind, but it's as if he burdens himself with other concerns that he doesn't share with anyone else. But you two love each other, and he cares for you more than I've seen him care for anyone else. I don't know what he's always so concerned about, but I know he trusts you, and I know you can help him through it, whatever it is."
"You're worried about him," Kaori said, smiling at Shiori's nod and the knocking she heard on the door. "I can't tell you everything that's going through your son's mind, but I can guarantee that I'll keep an eye on him."
Here she walked up to the older woman and took her hands into her own palms. "I know Shuichi worries for you, and only wants you to be happy," she continued. "He loves you even more than he shows, and he shows it quite often. I'm sure that one day he will open up to you and me with what burdens him, but for now, he's taking care of everything he needs to take care of to ensure your happiness."
Shiori smiled, giving Kaori's hands a squeeze. "Thank you." Kaori smiled back.
Both women jumped when the knocking turned to a not so gentle pounding. "Kaori!" a distinct voice called from outside. Shiori flashed the young girl another smile, holding a finger up to her lips before silently running back towards the living room. She paused, giving Kaori a wink over her shoulder before going through the doorway.
Kaori took a deep breath before opening the door. She smiled at Kurama, who simply looked at her, arms folded across his chest. "Kaori," he repeated, but she put up a hand to stop him.
"Your mother and I were having a very important, private conversation," she said, crossing her own arms. "I just opened the door. I have nothing to do with how it got locked."
"What's bothering her?" Kurama asked, looking towards the living room.
"You not being completely open with her." At this, Kurama sighed for the umpteenth time of the evening. "Hey, don't be sad. We already talked about this. You'll tell her about you when you're ready. Don't try and rush it."
Kurama nodded. "I just want her to be happy," he began. Kaori put a finger to his lips to silence him.
"She is happy. You're her son. She doesn't want any more from you." Kaori smiled. "Everything else will fall into place in due time."
"You're right," Kurama said, adding another sigh. Kaori poked him in the ribs, making him twitch.
"Of course I'm right. I'm always right. Who else keeps you from going crazy? Definitely not Hiei." Kurama laughed, pulling Kaori against him in a tight embrace. She relaxed against him, taking a deep breath and letting out her own, contented sigh.
"Don't mention it."
Kurama pulled back just enough to catch Kaori's lips in a kiss. She returned the favor, a hand sliding up to hold his cheek and keep him from pulling away, not that he wanted to. Kurama felt all of the weight of the past few weeks melting off of him as he savored the moment with Kaori, fingers tangling in her hair as he let himself go.
This was what Shiori saw as she peeked back into the kitchen, a small grin on her face as she managed to catch her son having at least one tender moment in his life. My darling Shuichi is human after all, she thought, turning back to the dining room and letting them have their privacy. She hardly reached the living room before the grin was an uncontrollable smile pulling at her cheeks. She sat down in her chair and picked up a book she had been meaning to finish, smile still in place.
I'm going to have to most beautiful grandchildren!