Disclaimer: Because you would have really thought I owned the people and places in the story if I didn't include a disclaimed...
Chapter one, The Beginning
"Kuwabara! How are you? It's so nice to see you again, come in." Shiori stepped aside letting Kuwabara through the doorway.
Kuwabara bowed his head slightly as he stepped inside, "Thanks Mrs. H, I'm doing just fine." Stepping on the back of his heels to pull off his shoes, Kuwabara slid into some old slippers he had left behind one visit and followed Shiori though the brightly lit living room.
"Shuichi is just in the kitchen cooking breakfast." Shiori waved to indicate the red head by the stove.
Kuwabara nodded to the women and sat down at the table. It was weird not seeing Kurama in his old high school uniform. Instead he was wearing brand new blue jeans and an ironed button down teal shirt. Of course, Kuwabara wasn't dressed in his school uniform either but was wearing almost the same thing, just a blue shirt instead. Though Kurama didn't seem to be having as hard of time with the itchiness of the stiff collar as Kuwabara. Kurama was also sporting a black apron with the words, "Kiss the cook," written across the front - much to Kuwabara's amusement.
"Hey Kuwabara, you like scrambled eggs? I'm trying out a new western recipe." Kurama asked looking over his shoulder, holding the handle to a large frying pan with one hand and a flipper in the other.
"Oh, no, no, no," The orange haired boy shook his head and waved his arms, "You don't have to make me anything."
"Nonsense!" Exclaimed Shiori, as she bodily removed the apron from her much taller son and pushed him towards the table to join his friend. She ignored her son's amusement and turned towards the stove using the flipper to scramble the eggs. "You're always welcome to breakfast or any other meal here, I know how hard it is with just you and your sister at home. Besides," She grabbed two plates from the cupboard and started to pile the on the eggs and toast, "you're both are going to need your strength today, it's your first day of university after all." She set a plate in front of each boy and went back to the stove to make some fresh tea.
Her excitement was contagious. Both Kurama and Kuwabara shared a humorous smile over their eggs as Shiori rushed around the kitchen, making sure they had drinks and enough food. "I'm so glad you decided to go to university Shuichi. I mean, I am happy you helped your step-father out with his company these last couple years but you're much too smart to do that forever and not get a degree." She took the kettle off the stove and filled up a tea pot.
"Yes well," Kurama coughed over his eggs, "I wanted to wait for Kuwabara to graduate so we could go together," He ducked his head down and mumbled, "and I thought it best if I didn't go to university with my year mates and waited a year when I'm not so," Kurama voice got a bit softer, "well known."
This time it was Shiori and Kuwabara who passed an amused glace over at each other. Shiori sat down and filled her cup with the freshly made tea. "I understand," she said with a straight face, though her sympathetic response was betrayed by the mischievous gleam in her eyes.
"So Kuwabara, you excited about starting university?" She asked, tuning away from her embarrassed son.
"Ya, I can't wait. I have four years of general studies before I can apply to be a teacher. It's nothing compared to Shuichi's double major in botany and archaeology but I think I'll make a good teacher." Kuwabara gave a shrug.
"You'll make a great teacher Kuwabara. You're so good with kids, my youngest just loves you. He was so disappointed he would miss you today but high school starts so early." Shiori trailed off with a happy smile and sipped her tea. A comfortable silence fell over the table as the boys finished up their first plate and went up for seconds.
"I haven't seen your other two friends in a while." Shiori spoke up, "What are Hiei and Yusuke doing now a day?"
Kuwabara froze, his chop sticks half way to his mouth trying to think of something to say, luckily Kurama's mind works a bit faster than the lovable fools. "Hiei is working abroad. He got a high level job working as a security guard." Well, it was kind of true. Hiei was still in Makai working for the border patrol with Mukuro. "And Yusuke is working at his girlfriend's parents noodle shop. He's been running small kiosks for them around town. I think he's hoping to inherit the shop when they retire."
"Good for them." Shiori said.
Kurama agreed. With both him and Kuwabara going to university, Yusuke working and Hiei in Makai, the group, including Hiei though he would deny it, were worried about their lives becoming too busy and them losing touch. Luckily, King Enma removed the price on Yusuke's head, letting Koenma give them their jobs back. It gave the whole group, including the girls, a concrete reason to get together and a way for the boys not living Makai to keep in fighting shape.
'Though it's not quite what it was,' Kurama thought remembering the tantrum Koenma threw when they told him that they wanted to be paid for each mission and that they would pick which mission they wanted to do leaving the rest for the SDF and the team Erki created as Demon King. Kurama couldn't hide the smirk that came over his face from the memories so grabbed his tea cup to hide behind.
"You mentioned general studies Kuwabara, what classes does that require?" Shiori asked refilling the boy's cups.
"It's just your regular base ones for first year at least. Classes like, writing, math, ethics and a couple of options. There's one class I'm really looking forward to." Kuwabara shot a sly look towards Kurama. Said red head raised a curious eyebrow at the look.
"What is it?" Shiori asked leaning slightly over the table.
"It's call Demon Lore." Kurama shot an irritated, warning look over at Kuwabara but didn't say anything, trusting his friend not to say too much. "The teacher is supposed to be amazing. It's her first time teaching a full course load but she has done guest lectures at other places and universities. They also say she's a little crazy." Kuwabara gives Kurama another sly look and ignores the warning look in return. "They say she really believes that her stories are true, that demons really exist!"
"She believes they're real? But they're just made up creatures!" Shiori laughed, thankfully not noticing the glare Kurama sent Kuwabara over the table. Kuwabara in his defence just shrugged and smiled. "But it will lead to some pretty interesting discussions."She stood up and gathered their finished plates to rinse and place in the dishwasher.
"Ya, I'm looking forward to it." Kuwabara stood up and took the plates away from Shiori and went over to the sink to rinse them. He handed the rinsed plates to Kurama who placed them into the dishwasher. Shiori smiled from where she was and sat back down at the table.
"So, what is the teacher's name?" She asked.
"Kagome Tashio." Kuwabara said.
"Mother!" Kurama raced around the table and to his mother's side, she didn't respond. "Are you ok? What happened?" He picked up the biggest piece of the shattered cup off the table and out of the puddle of hot tea. "Kuwabara can you grab the dishcloth by the sink and the garbage can?" He only gave the boy a quick glace before turning back to his unresponsive mother.
Shiori had gone white. Her face was pale, almost greenish. Her eyes were unseeing just staring at the far wall. She didn't register her son beside her, even him lightly shacking her by the shoulders didn't create a response from the shocked woman. Then, after five whole minutes of the boy's panicked actions, she turned to Kuwabara. "Did you say Kagome Tashio?"
Kuwabara was startled from where he was picking up the pieces of the broken cup and mopping up the split tea. His fingers slipped in his surprised and he got a shallow cut from one of the small shards. He immediately place said figure into his mouth to steam the bleeding. Turning to look at Shiori and taking in her frightened eyes, he removed his finger from his mouth and slowly nodded his head.
"Yes," He answered steadily, softly as not to startle her. He looked over top of her head at Kurama but noticed that he seemed just as lost as he was.
"Oh," She said. The word was said with no absolutely no emotion and blank face. She looked at Kuwabara, turned her head to look at her son then turned back to Kuwabara. Her mouth opened and closed as if to say something but nothing came out.
"Mother, are you ok?" Kurama asked again, resting his hand on her shoulder. She turned her whole body to face him and stared for a moment. Then her eyes cleared up and the colour returned to her face.
She smiled, "Of course dear." She got up and walked over to the stove. The two boys were confused to say the least. They finished cleaning up the broken cup and mopped up the tea. Then, "Oh, you're going to be late!" Shiori shouted spinning around started to push the two boys out into the hall way towards the door.
"Wait mom, we still have twenty minutes before we have to go to the train station." Kurama said but was completely ignored. They were barely able to get their shoes on and grabbed their bags before they were pushed out the door.
"Have a great day at school!" Shiori called out to the boys then shut the door. They could hear the lock slide into place. The boys just stared.
What happened?" Kuwabara asked, turning towards Kurama.
"I don't know..." Kurama trailed off, still staring at the door.
"Why did she get all quiet when I said my professor's name?"
"I don't know. I've never heard that name before." They both turned back to the door and waited for a minute. There was no sign of Shiori anywhere from inside the house. "Come on." Kurama hesitatingly turned away, "let's get to the train station, I'll ask her about it after school."
~ OoO ~
"Nothing?" Kuwabara turned to Kurama tying to maintain eye contact as the train sped down the tracks. The boys were heading home on the express line after a hard day of classes.
"Nothing, she won't tell me what happened. She keeps saying the cup slipped from her hands." Kurama grabbed onto the back of his seat to try and stay upright as the train slowed to a stop at a station. The doors opened and a rush of people came on broad. Thankfully it wasn't rush hour. The two boys got up and gave their seats to two elderly ladies. Ignoring the ladies comments about, "what nice, attractive young men," a calm Kurama and a red faced Kuwabara continued their conversation standing.
"It's been a week," Kurama continued, "and she hasn't said a word about why hearing the name Kagome Tashio shocked her so much." Kurama sighed and ran a hand through his hair. The group of girls down the train giggled. "I've even tried to trick her into telling me but she's not moving."
Kuwabara took in Kurama's frustrated eyes and tired stance. He had never seen him act this way when there wasn't some life or death disaster going on. He approached what he was about to say with caution, "Maybe she's right, and it was no big deal." He shrugged. "Why would she lie?"
Kurama's voice got deeper. "That's what worries me. There is something wrong." He stared straight into Kuwabara's eyes, a look of mild desperation in his. "She keeps looking out the window as if someone was coming. She's barely left the house all week. She's nervous about something."
"And you think that something is Mrs. Tashio?" Kuwabara asked surprised.
Kurama looked up at the roof and ran his hand through his hair again. Kuwabara took keen notice of it. The move was more then just nervous habit, for Kurama when he runs his hand through his hair he was also checking to see if all his seeds are in place. He was really worried about this. Kurama sighed again. "I've looked on the internet but besides a few sites about her professional tours, there is nothing. I can't even find out who she is marries to, or if she even is."
Kuwabara was silent as they moved out of the way to let the group of giggling school girls off. They ignored the way some of the group squeezed past, brushing up against them when there was more than enough room. They did give shy smiles to the two old ladies who were laughing at them behind their hands.
Once the train started moving again Kuwabara turned back to Kurama. "I don't think Mrs. Tashio is dangerous." Kuwabara swallowed and lowered his voice to a whisper. "Her lectures are too real for her not to know about the three worlds, I mean we just spent last class learning about the war with the netherworld, but," Kuwabara's expression turned into confusion, "her spiritual power is lower than the average persons. Even if she does know, she's no danger to us."
"She doesn't have high spiritual powers?" Kurama asked.
Kuwabara shook his head.
"That's a bit of a relief but I wasn't really worried about the danger. Our group can handle just about anything. It was more about the fact I don't know why mother's so worried." Kurama ran his hand through his hair again and began to rub at his temples. Kuwabara placed a silent hand on his shoulder for a second and then let it fall.
They remain in the comfortable, yet worried silence until they had gotten off the train and were half a block away from where they would have to separate to go to their respective houses. "I'm going to see Koenma." Kurama said. He stopped walking.
Kuwabara also stopped a couple of steps ahead and looked back. "How is he going to help? Do you think he might know something?"
"No, but every person has a file with all their information in it. It's called a person's life file and it's what is studied to find out where one goes after their death." He turned around and started to head towards the park and the portal that would take him to spirit world.
"You can just look at another person's file?" Kuwabara hurried to catch up to the red head.
"Not without permission from either Koenma or his father, but I'm sure I can convince Koenma to give me it." He shot a sly look over his shoulder.
Kuwabara laughed, "hold up, I'm coming with you."
~ OoO ~
Edited: July 22 / 10
So why is Shiori so nervous about hearing the name Kagome Tashio? Sorry to say but the next chapter answers very few questions and adds a whole bunch more.
Chapter Two, Rising