Title: Not All Heroes Are Shining
Category: Yu Yu Hakusho
Genre: Action/Adventure, Friendship
Summery: Yusuke finds a customer in someone he forgot existed. The kid always seems to get himself in trouble, but to be fair, this time it's not his fault.
Timeline: Follows canon end of the manga.
Warnings!: Possible spoilers if you never managed to finish the manga.
Updating schedule: Hopefully once a week.
Author's Note: I know, I know, it's been forever! This story was started in 2010! I have more information on my profile, but the basic rundown is that I decided to write something to practice in between my other projects. I thought about starting something new, but obviously I decided not to. Maybe I will in the future, but first, I wanted to rewrite this because I regretted not being able to before.
I am following the original outline, so I don't have huge expectations for the plot. This is more just a writing exercise for me.
To anyone who is still around, I hope you find improvement! To anyone new, hello!
Who built ramen stands on the corner of an abandoned street? Masaru knew the one he was looking for wasn't exactly your run-of-the-mill kind, but he would have expected them to at least attempt to be subtle.
Nobody came around here. Customers had to be few and far in between. What was the owner trying to pull? A supernatural investigator couldn't afford to be so sloppy!
Then again, he had heard this guy was really good. Like, so good he could build his ramen stand in the middle of nowhere and still get business.
Masaru imagined a big, burly man with narrow eyes and a mustache. And tattoos! Smoking a cigar, waiting for his next case, because life was tough but he was tougher –
Except when he slid into a seat and looked over the counter, the guy on the other side was disappointing with a side of familiar. He looked like he was in high school or university, with arms that, while not scrawny, were not nearly as big as he had imagined.
"Evening," The guy tapped the counter. "What'll it be, kid?"
Masaru looked around, wary of being overheard. He leaned forward. "I'm not here for ramen."
"Well, then, what're you doing at my stand? Scram!"
"You're suppose to be some kind of supernatural problem solver, aren't you?" He reached under his sweater and withdrew his prize. The pig was heavy with change when he set it down between them.
"You're joking?" When he didn't agree, the other rubbed the back of his neck. "I don't check under kids beds for monsters, okay? Why don't you go talk to your parents, like a good kid should."
"My mom is sick," Masaru said impatiently. "And the doctors don't believe me. Nobody listens to a kid. But I know there's something wrong, and I want you to find out what."
"People get sick," The guy leaned on his elbows and shook his head. His hair was tousled, but his brown eyes were definitely familiar.
"Not like this!" Masaru clenched his fists and brought them down on the counter. He was so tired of being ignored. "It's always when she comes home from the hospital. She's always so tired, and then she starts not feeling good, and then she collapses. The doctors say she's just really stressed out, but she always starts feeling better when she leaves home. And things don't feel right; I always feel like I'm being watched. And I'm not just being paranoid!"
The young man's mouth snapped shut.
"My friends don't like to come over anymore," He continued. He felt a burning lump form in his throat. "They get creeped out. Everyone's talking about the 'demons' on TV, but I know they're real!"
"So, you think... what? You're being haunted? A demon is stalking you?"
"That's what I want you to find out," He pushed the pig forward. "Isn't that what you do? I can pay!"
The guy sighed, letting his head hang limply, then looked up through his hair. "What is that, your life savings?"
"So what if it is?" He stuck his nose in the air. Did the guy think he was too good for his money, just because he was older? "Money is money!"
"Alright, look, here's the deal," The guy pushed his hair back and stood up like it was the most taxing thing. "I'll come and poke around a little. See what I see. Okay? And if I don't find anything, you'll accept there's no demons."
"You will," Masaru said.
"Yeah, okay. Let me close up here, then. Say, how did you find out about me anyway?"
"There was a rumor going around in school."
"You came here from a rumor?" The stranger laughed. "You're a determined kid, at least."
"My name is Masaru. Not 'kid'," Masaru's eyes narrowed. He hated being called that, like his age defined everything about him. He was smart! He was the only one who noticed the demon he knew had to be lurking somewhere around his house.
"Yusuke Urameshi," The guy said, and something about that had Masaru's heart fluttering. Yusuke disappeared and there was the clanging of metal as he covered his grill and cleaned his utensils. When he appeared again, Masaru looked over his face and his dirty shirt intensely.
"Is there something on my face?" Yusuke ran a towel over it, just to make sure.
"No. Have we met before?"
"I don't exactly deal with many kids, so I doubt it."
It didn't feel like a recent memory. It tugged at Masaru like a sneeze that just wouldn't come. It was there, but it was too far. He couldn't remember.
Yusuke finished closing up his shop, and they left together. Masaru led the way, taking the bus because his house was too far too walk. It was less awkward when he had someone with him. People looked at him less for being alone, without even a group of friends, but this wasn't the first time. Lately, all his friends were too busy with clubs or studying to play or hang out.
Well, so what? He didn't need them. He had more important things to worry about, like his mother. She'd been looked gray just that morning, her eyes rimmed with her sleeplessness. She'd almost missed his cheek that morning when she kissed him goodbye.
They entered his neighborhood. The houses were all bunched together, the street narrow. He led the way up through the gate and noticed that the mailbox was full. He dutifully got it all, noticing with worry that there were several marked important. At least one of them was a bill, and he knew his mom had been missing a lot of work lately.
"This is your house?" Yusuke looked around nonchalantly.
"Yeah," Masaru opened the door and quickly slipped off his shoes for slippers. He set the mail on the table just inside along with his pig.
"Masaru, is that you?" His mother called, voice tired.
"It's me, mom, I'm home!" He called back. "How do you feel?"
"I'm fine," She said, like she always did. "Welcome home."
He watched as Yusuke looked around briefly, but he seemed distracted. He began to lightly pad into the hallway, and looked up the stairs. He jerked a thumb questioningly.
Masaru shrugged and motioned for the other to go on. They went up, and he followed until they stopped in front of a single door. He covered a chill that ran down his spine.
"That's mom's room," He whispered, certain that there had to be something inside. How had Yusuke known to go there? He almost said something, stopped him from entering because it was his mom's room, he never went in there, but the door was opened a wave of something unpleasant hit him.
Even though it was wrong, even though he shouldn't, he followed Yusuke inside. It was very neat and clean, everything put in its place so well it hardly looked lived in. But other than a small, strange smell, nothing stuck out as being off.
"Alright," Yusuke said. "You got me. You wanna come out, or do I have to go a hunting?"
Masaru's heart hurt, beating so fast. He had been right, something was there, nobody else had listened but he'd been right-
"So you're not one of those fake human sensors," A disembodied voice came from somewhere in the room but he couldn't place it. "This home is mine. Leave it be."
"I'm not here to mess up the home. I'm here for you, stinky," Yusuke crossed his arms and Masaru gripped the back of his shirt. Being close made him feel better.
"I've kept them alive," The voice said. "I wouldn't see them dead so soon. What have I done wrong, then?"
"I don't have time for this," Yusuke sighed, tapping his foot impatiently. "Look, slimeball, you're making people sick. It's not cool. So either scram, or I'm going to have to dig you out the hard way."
"You can't just let it go!" Masaru hissed. "It's just going to hurt someone else, it's a demon!"
He was shushed with a sharp hand motion that he resented. They were in the middle of a city! If this demon left, it only had to go across his yard to find a different family to latch onto.
"You can't kill me faster than I can kill these humans," The demon said. "They're mine. Is it worth their lives?"
Yusuke looked around the room, tilting his head as if he was very interested in what the demon had to say, nodding his head. "I hear you, I hear you. I raise you a 'you're full of shit'."
He took a couple long strides to the storage closet, where the futons were, and yanked open the door.
Masaru was struck by intense dizziness, the room spinning around. His head was too light, and he didn't remember falling but the floor was suddenly in his face. He thought he saw a blue light, too bright, flash from somewhere, but he didn't even have the strength to move his eyeballs let alone his head. He thought of his mother and wondered if maybe he shouldn't have said anything after all.
But then he was looking up into Yusuke's face. Though his head still swam slightly, he felt better with every second that passed.
"Sorry about that," Yusuke said. "There's this really nasty splatter in the closet now. Might want to pretend you have no idea how it got there."
Masaru laughed. It hurt his head, but he couldn't help it. They were free. He'd been right, and they were free.
He was helped to his feet.
"How do you feel?"
"Head hurts," He admitted with a grunt. "What happened?"
"Demon was feeding off of spiritual energy," Yusuke scratched the back of his head. "Your moms but yours too, I guess. Had to have been. Tried a last ditch effort to take you out with him, but it didn't work out."
"You saved us," Masaru smiled unevenly. "Thanks."
"Like you said, kid. It's my job."
They descended from the upstairs. The only thing he regretted was that he wouldn't be able to tell anyone about it. They'd go on thinking he had just been imaginative, or too worried about his mother, that he was 'just a kid'. He was the only one that would know the truth.
But his mother would get better now. She'd be able to go back to work, and she wouldn't have to go to the hospital. She'd look pretty again, and wouldn't be tired all the time.
He smiled, and when they reached the bottom of the stairs, he called, "I'm going out for a little while, okay, mom?"
Except even after several beats of silence, there was no answer.
He looked at Yusuke, who frowned but said nothing. Masaru went towards the kitchen worriedly. She'd probably fallen asleep again; She did that sometimes, and it wasn't like she'd magically be all better right afterwards-
People didn't fall asleep on the kitchen floor.
He darted forward, knees sliding as he went to her side. She was sprawled out on her side, hair covering her face. Was she breathing? He couldn't tell and didn't know how to check, so he shouted for Yusuke, who came running.
"She's alive," Yusuke said, holding the back of his hand in front of her mouth. "The demon must have drawn from her too."
"What do we do?" Masaru asked, panicked. The other boy hesitated uncertainly, and he reached out to grab Yusuke's arm. "Hey? Is she gonna be okay?"
He was shaken off and a glow encased Yusuke's hand where he laid it on his mother's chest. It felt like gentle waves of coolness – the kind of relief on a hot day. After a moment, the hand was pulled back.
"That's the best I've got," Yusuke leaned back. "You should call an ambulance. I tried to give her a little energy and stabilize her, but healing isn't my strong suit. Don't know there's anything the doctors can do, but she'll need to rest."
He hadn't been halfway through what he was saying before Masaru had lunged for the phone, calling for help. Afterwards, he looked at the other. "There's nothing else you can do?"
"I know some people, okay? Let me make a few phone calls."
Yusuke pulled a flip phone from his pocket and began to dial, drifting out of the kitchen and back towards the front room. Masaru reluctantly followed. He didn't want to leave his mother just lying there, afraid that the moment she was out of his sight she would stop breathing, but he felt something similar for Yusuke. If he let the other boy get away, what if he never came back with help?
There was soft talking while he lingered in the doorway, clenching his fists. What if the demon took too much? What if this time she couldn't get better? What if she couldn't work anymore? What if she died?
His eyes drifted, and eventually landed on the small stand in the corner, where a stick of incense had been burning in front of a picture frame. He frowned. Clenched his fists again. Unclenched them. Widened his eyes.
"Alright," Yusuke said. "Kuwabara's not home, which means Yukina is out too. That leaves Kurama."
"Yusuke Urameshi," Masaru breathed.
"Yeah? What's with that look, kid?"
Masaru looked at the boy who, five years ago, had saved him from a car. Whose wake he had attended, and whose picture had maintained a steady presence in his living room ever since.
"You're suppose to be dead," He said.
"Which time?" Yusuke asked. "And what do you know about that, anyway?"
Masaru pointed, and Yusuke turned to look. The picture was definitely of him – he wore a junior high uniform and his hair was slicked back with gel, but the eyes were the same warm brown.
"Oh, man, I remember you now," Yusuke laughed, rubbing the back of his neck. "You're that stupid kid with the ball."