When It Rains
(Author's Note: Has it really been four years since I scribbled in the YuYu Hakusho fandom? Wow. Anyway, I am ashamed of my previous HxB works because of the lack of in-character interaction, so I thought I'd try it now, see if I could explore different sides of them without putting them out of character. There's not a lot of explanation here. Think of it as walking in on a scene between these two, without previous knowledge of what goes on before then. And perhaps the last line is supposed to be a little ambiguous? :P Anyway, enjoy.)
"Please wait!" she calls, and I can hear her feet stumbling through the brush behind me. "Wait!"
I can feel the scowl pulling my lips off my teeth as thunder rumbles through the sky above me. I still can't get over how perfectly appropriate this downpour is for my dismal mood. It soaks me through, my skin cold even beneath my cloak, and it dribbles off of my hair, down into my eyes, making it hard to see very well as I continue through the forest. I swipe my hand through my bangs, sending droplets flying, trying to readjust my eyesight so I can move a little more quickly, maybe find a branch to sprint up to, get away from her, from all of them.
"Hiei, please!" She calls again, and I hear her topple over into the plants, the splatter of mud against her clothing and her skin, and I keep going, even though her breathing is a roar in my ears, mixing with the rain and the trees.
She gets back to her feet, a bit slippery, and I keep walking. I didn't expect her to follow me in the first place. After what had happened… I assumed they knew to leave me alone. I couldn't possibly be bothered with them and their disconcerting, concerning looks. And yet the girl was adamant, her blue hair catching on twigs, tugged messily from her carefully coifed ponytail, small scratches leaving the scent of her blood in the air.
"Oh, Hiei, please don't walk away!" She cries. "She wouldn't want you to be this way!"
Finally, I can't take it anymore, and I whirl on her. "How would you have any clue what she wanted from me!" My voice feels harsh in my throat, and it hurts all the way into my teeth.
I eye her just long enough to see her falter, her eyes glossy, looking very worse for wear, then turn back around. "You know nothing about me. You cannot dare assume you know what she wanted."
"I don't have to know you to know what she wanted, Hiei!"
I draw my sword and I have her pinned against a tree within seconds, the cold blade pressed just close enough to her neck to draw blood. She is trembling with fear, but she doesn't look away from me, her amethyst eyes completely focused on my own. She grits her teeth, and I can tell she's gathering shrouds of courage, though it is far more difficult than she wants me to know (even though I do).
"H-Hiei," she stammers, her voice meek, "Y-you can't blame yourself! She wouldn't want you to l-leave her!"
I glare at her, but she never falters. Her eyes stay on mine. I speak again, my voice dying in my throat to a low whisper. "They will target her to get to me. Now that they know who she is, they will never cease until they have me. So I'm going."
"We can do this differently, Hiei," she whimpers. "Please trust me!"
Fury burns through my veins and I contemplate decapitating her right then and there, just to shut her up, her and her stupid, optimistic convictions, and those big glistening eyes, filled with so much hope and innocence. I hate them. They remind me too much of what I'm leaving behind. But because of that same reason, I can't kill her. I don't know when I got so soft, but I just can't do it. It's because of these people, I can't help thinking with a scowl, it's because of them that I am the way I am. They are why I've softened to this. I hold my ground regardless.
"How am I to believe you at all? You're filled with as much deceit as any of them. Don't be so condescending, wench."
"What do you mean? I'm not deceitful—"
Her eyes leave mine for just a moment to scan the blade pushed against her throat.
"Don't be an idiot," I hiss. "Your overly-pleasant nature is a put-on and you know it."
I can see the visible hurt in her eyes, but I know it's true.
"Not—all the time," she sighs.
The wind blows and it chills me to the bone, hardly lifting my sopping wet clothes from my form as much as blowing right through them.
"Hiei, you're right… to a degree."She flinches a bit, and I can see a small line of crimson run into her collar. "I know I… I get on your nerves, and I can be a bit…"
She searches for the word. I offer it. "Obnoxious."
"Sure," she replies, and her voice sounds different for some reason. "But I have my reasons for it."
Her hands clasp around my wrist, shivering, though I'm not sure if it's the fear or the cold now that makes her tremble so. "Please understand," she says, and her voice is strained and full of hurt. "It's not an easy job, what I do every day…. Every day, I transport souls from the land of the living – young mothers, children, lovers, dreamers, people who shouldn't have to die. I transport my friends, people I know, come across. And most of them are no ready to go. I've had to watch so many sob with desperation, begging me not to take them away from the people they love, not to leave them with regrets, and I have to. I HAVE to, Hiei." Tears prick at her eyes and her trembling is stronger against my arm. "So much pain, so much hurt… if I wasn't optimistic, Hiei, if I let them get to me, I… I don't know what I'd do. I don't think I could handle it." The tears are running freely down her face. "I focus on the good things, the people that are released from the pain of living, the happiness of my friends, the good humor we all share…. I do this because it keeps me going, Hiei."
Her grip tightens on me. "You're so focused on the bad things that could happen to her because you're around. I know Yukina got hurt, Hiei, but you have to understand that she's willing to take that risk because she loves you! She wants you to be around. You both spent so much time away from each other, and she's finally got you back. Please, don't abandon her now that she knows who you are. She'd be devastated."
For a moment, I think the woman has actually stopped shaking, but then I realize that I'm trembling too, in tune with her. I'm at a catch twenty-two. If I stay, she's hurt physically. If I leave, she's hurt emotionally. The ache in my chest is hard to ignore as the sword falls from my hand and into the mud with a splat. There is a red line on her neck, bleeding into the collar of her shirt. I prefer to stare at it than in her eyes, because to look her in the eyes would be admitting she is right and I don't think I'm ready to do that. I run my fingers over the line, the dark red fluid warm against my fingertips. She sucks in her breath, and seems almost more frightened than when the weapon was at her throat. Or perhaps I'm causing her pain.
"Your job must be… quite difficult," I say quietly. "As is mine. I… respect you for your willpower. You are stronger than I would come to expect."
"Hiei, I don't want you to hurt Yukina further. Stay. You can protect her better than any of us. I think she would be happier to know you're with her."
"I don't want her to get hurt," my voice feels foreign on my tongue, strange, painful. "I am responsible for much of her pain already. I cannot understand how she could even forgive me for that."
I can't believe what I've said. Not even for a second. But the words leak from my mouth before I can stop them, and my control falters.
"You can't repent by being away from her. And she still loves you, no matter what happens. You mustn't blame yourself for the things that happened to her. Circumstances were out of both of your control."
"I was completely in control of slaughtering her entire race. I left her alone and that bastard Tarukane captured her. How can that be beyond my control?"
"You never did these things to hurt her, Hiei. You were young and hurt and scared. You can't take blame for what other people caused you to do."
I bow my head. I can't believe her. I just can't.
"Will you come back, Hiei?" she asks, and it's simple with a complete lack of fear. "They'll be looking for you. She'll be looking for you."
I finally take my hand from her neck and suck the blood off my fingers, the coppery taste slipping over my tongue. "I honestly don't think I am as good as you think I am. I really don't know what you see."
"It's simple, I think," she says. "I see what Yukina sees in you, and I don't think she's wrong."
I can't argue. It's hard for me to ever believe Yukina is wrong, even when it comes to the oaf she seems to adore (much to my irritancy). The ferry girl has surprised me, really. I never expected her to be so wise, understanding. She makes more sense to me now, and suddenly her cheerful outbursts don't feel so obnoxious in the back of my mind. In hindsight, and I can remember seeing the flicker of pain behind her eyes when she laughs, or how in the enjoyable moments of her life, she seems to try her best to take in every moment, feeling, smell, sight, sound, everything. Because it matters to her.
The rain is beginning to cease, the downpour more of a drizzle, and it leaves me feeling nearly frozen in the bitter wind that replaces it. I finally release her completely and her body falls forward from the tree, the leaves giving with the sudden shift and sending droplets of glistening water everywhere around us. She is still watching me expectantly, waiting for an answer. I have to ask.
"And if I refuse to return with you?"
She frowns, and I suddenly see how ugly it is on her features, ugly and difficult to understand. "I honestly didn't come running after you thinking you would."
Her faith in me is remarkable.
"Because I know how much you love Yukina, and… well, I know you'll deny it, but I know that you care about all of us, Yusuke, Kurama, even Kuwabara. To walk away from us now, when we need you… it just doesn't seem like something you would do."
"It seems like something that I would do exactly," I argue, though it lacks conviction.
She smiles sadly, yet almost knowingly, and extends her hand. "Come back, Hiei."
I stare at it quietly. It's a decision I've never had to make. She is offering me a peek into her hopeful disposition, and I'm not sure if I can move into that ideal. I don't think my brain works that way, and after seeing the horrors of both worlds, it's still hard for me to believe. But I honor her decision to try.
I take her hand. Her fingers wrap around my gently, and they're warmer than I expected.
She leans over, collects my sword, and returns it to me, and we began our walk out of the woods. Then, as if on cue, the sun peeks out of the clouds, a bright ball of yellow that warms my face. I watch her as she smiles upwards at the sky, soaking it in with a long breath and squeezing my hand subconsciously.
I suppose I can learn to appreciate it a little bit.