1 Understanding

Disclaimers: Yu Yu Hakusho and all mentioned characters are not mine. I bow down to Sir Yoshiro Togashi for this great anime (Hunter X Hunter!!! He made that too! *sighs* Brilliant, brilliant! I love this guy! ^-^)

Notes: Stupid title, I know *hides face in shame*. For those who have only watched the anime series, Kazuya (not sure with this first name) Hatanaka and Shuuichi Hatanaka are Kurama's stepfamily. Remember that wedding scene with Shiori? And the episode with Kurama and Yomi, the boy possessed by the youkai whom Kurama took the cigar from? I think those are the only episodes where these two minor characters were shown. Shuuichi-ototo mentioned that 'Shuu-ani' never really got along well with his father (*swoons* I love this kid! He's just about 14 now, a few months difference maybe, it could work, nyahahahaha!!! *gets hit with a dictionary*). So there, this fic is about Kurama's relationship with his new family ^-^ Nothing romantic, nothing K+B (*sweatdrops* I never would've thought I'd see the day when I'd get myself away from writing love stories ^-^), nothing Kurama and Hiei, nothing YYH except for Kurama ^-^'. I'm not sure if anybody would be interested to read, but I just had to write it ^_^



He knew he should back down. He knew it wouldn't matter even if he argued with the man for the whole night. He knew he wouldn't listen anyway.

Kurama stood up, his brows knotted, irritation evidently brewing in him. The chair created a sharp screech on the floor as it was abruptly pushed back, catching the attention of the older man across the table. Kazuya Hatanaka looked up from the negotiation papers to his stepson, who was just about to leave the office.

"Shuuichi…"

"I'll be going now," Kurama said sharply, swinging his backpack over his shoulders as he opened the office door. He had been helping Hatanaka and his company, obeying his mother's advice that it can bring him and his stepfather closer. But they almost always seem to be arguing, nothing seems to work for both of them. So finally, just to end it all, he gave up.

"Wait, let me explain it you again, I---"

But the door already slipped closed, the soft click of the lock signaling his departure. Hatanaka's statement was unfinished, he wasn't able to hear it, but he was happy that way. Kurama sighed, shaking his head, his body slumped over the wall as he sought to clear out his thoughts. But his senses got the better of him as his eyes suddenly opened, announcing the arrival of a familiar character.

His eyes widened.

"O-Okasan…" was all he could say, but the sadness and regret in his eyes and voice reflected all the unsaid words.

Shiori's expression was morose, her beautiful eyes looking sadly at her son. She sighed, walking up to hold him in her arms, savoring the moment as she felt her son's body soften in her touch, his arms tiredly creeping up to return her hug. "Shuuichi…" she called, tilting her head to the side to look at him. "I know this may be hard for you, and I thank you for understanding and supporting me with my decision, but please give him a chance."

The humble desperation in his mother's voice made him close his eyes, the burst of emotion almost unbearable. Ever since Shiori had introduced Hatanaka to him, he had always liked the guy. He seemed to be kind and understanding, and he had always shown a great love for his work. Kurama had always respected Hatanaka. And he knew his mother liked him, it was obvious in her eyes even if she had tried denying it.

But when she admitted it finally, when she finally told him how she felt for Hatanaka, when she told him that he had asked her to marry him, he didn't know what to say. His body felt numb, all but the fast beating of his heart seemed to stop as he eyed her. He didn't know why it surprised him, he was actually expecting the announcement to come. He had asked himself why, why all of a sudden, he hated Hatanaka.

But then he knew why. He was jealous. He was jealous of Hatanaka. Before, after his father had left them, it was always him who brought the smile to Shiori's beautiful face. It was always him who had filled her thoughts, it was always him whom she only cared for and loved. But when she met Hatanaka, Kurama felt like he had to share her. He felt like he needed to let a part of Shiori go, and let her love another, the kind of love he couldn't give her. The kind of love only Hatanaka could give.

It pained him to know that Shiori sought such love. It pained him that he's not able to satisfy Shiori any longer. Of course, his mother had always reassured him that if ever he felt that Hatanaka wasn't good enough for him, she could always back down. But Kurama had shaken his head to it. He knew Shiori was happy with the man, and he knew it worked the other way as well. They both needed each other, and he didn't want to be the one to go in between. But when the thought crossed him, it hurt. Before, he had always been number one for Shiori, but now, he felt like he had been the third person all of a sudden.

"Gomen. I guess I just need more time," he finally told her, pulling himself away from the hug. He caressed his mother's cheeks, wiping away the drop of tear that had threatened to fall from her bright eyes. He had always liked those eyes, they had been his place of comfort.

Shiori looked at him, holding his hand in her own. "Shuuichi, have I been asking too much from you? I don't want you to be burdened by my choice, I never would've---"

"Daijoubu, okaasan. I'm just tired. Don't worry about it," he assured her, patting her shoulder softly as he forced a smile on his face. But he knew Shiori would protest, saying how much she loved him, saying how much she needed him to understand Hatanaka. He wouldn't be able to take it. The admiration, the respect, that hatred for Hatanaka, he knew he had himself mixed up. He squeezed Shiori's hand tightly before he led her to her room, whispering words of assurance and comfort to her along the way.

"Shuuichi…"

"Daijoubu, okaasan. Oyasumi."

It was getting late. He walked to his room, threw the bag on the study table and slumped on his bed. His arm threw itself over his tired eyes, his breathing coming in shallow gasps as he tried to calm himself. He would've laughed. Here was the calm, silent and almost stress-free Minamino Shuuichi, slouched on his bed as if the burden of the whole world had been placed onto him. But wasn't it really though? After all, he had considered Shiori to be his whole world ever since Youko Kurama, and it hurts to know that she still is, even if he's not hers anymore.

"Ne, Shuu-ani?"

Kurama sat up at the sound of the soft knocking, recognizing the form of his stepbrother from the hazy view of the doorway. "Oh, it's you, Shuuichi. Is something wrong?" he asked the younger lad, gesturing for him to come in.

The younger one sat down on the bed, cross-legged as he sat across his stepbrother. "You and otousan having a problem?" he asked, eyeing Kurama curiously.

For a moment, Kurama stayed silent, looking up out his open window. But Shuuichi was patient enough to wait. Green eyes met brown, as Kurama finally sighed and shrugged. "Hatanaka-san and I just seem to have different points, that's all. But it's his business, I'm just there to help."

"Not that it works much, does it?" Shuuichi asked.

Kurama was taken aback, the bold words sinking in. But he knew the boy was right. He shook his head and chuckled. "No, it doesn't." He may be a bit uncomfortable around Hatanaka, but Shuuichi, who's supposed to be his brother now, has always acted casually and easily around him that he felt like he could act the same way with him. And maybe because it both amused them that they had the same first name, they can never forget about that. But even though the younger boy was as playful as a teenaged adolescent was supposed to be, he still treated Kurama with the appropriate amount of respect. He had to admire him though, because he knew that Shuuichi was just as trying to adjust to their new home as he was.

"Don't worry, otousan's just nervous around you, it'll pass," Shuuichi suddenly said, his hand waving in mild nonchalance as he leaned back on the bed's headboard. Before Kurama could react at what he said, Shuuichi grinned at his stepbrother and held up a finger. "Otousan really likes you, Shuu-ani. Ever since he met Shiori-san, he had always talked and talked about her every time we were together. And there were also times when he'd talk about you. You wouldn't believe how much he admires you," the boy explained, a bright twinkle lighting in his eyes, his grin never leaving his face. "That's why I've always tried my best since then. Because otousan had always told me how much he liked you, I thought that I could make him happy if I would be like you."

Kurama eyed him, figuring out whether or not the boy was telling the truth or not. But the smile that met him was genuine, the brightness and hope in his stepbrother's eyes almost similar to his mother's. It made him smile. "Anou…arigatou, Shuuichi."

Shuuichi winked at him. "Well, I better go before we turn even sappier, it does ruin our masculine reputation, don't you think so?" he laughed.

Kurama laughed with him, feeling lighter than he had been a few minutes ago. He watched Shuuichi stand up, giving Kurama a high five before walked slowly out of the dimly lit room.

But before Shuuichi could completely walk out, he looked back at Kurama and seemed to have found a sudden interest on the carpeted floor. "Uh…Shuu- ani, you don't mind if I call Shiori-san, 'okaasan' too, do you?" he asked, finally daring to meet Kurama eyes again. But it didn't last long before he sheepishly looked down again and started playing with his shirt. "It's just that, I never had the chance to call anybody that. I never knew who my mother was, I only had pictures of her. And Shiori-san…she's the closest person in the world when it comes to me having a mother and…"

Kurama was silent, wondering why Shuuichi had suddenly gone from the happy, playful young man to this sentimental, almost lonely boy. He supposed there was more to his 'brother' than what meets the eye. "It's okay, I know okaasan would like that," he said, cutting the boy off from mid-sentence. Shuuichi looked up suddenly, almost surprised. Kurama winked at him and smiled. "Oyasumi."

Shuuichi was still for a minute as he struggled to take the words in. When he finally settled himself, the usual, familiar grin that Kurama was used to seeing came back, the boy's eyes lighting up again. "Arigatou!" he exclaimed, almost jumping in place from delight. He skipped out of the room, humming happily to himself as his steps disappeared through the walls. But just as Kurama thought that he was gone, sudden patter of slipper-clad feet sounded back on the hallway floor. Shuuichi's head popped on the door, as he came up and waved at Kurama. "I almost forgot. Oyasumi, oniichan!" Then he left.

Kurama stared back at Shuuichi's retreating form. He smiled, mentally thanking him.

After cleaning up, he was just about ready to slip into bed when another set of knocks sounded through the door. "Shuuichi?"

Kurama didn't look up, didn't even stop to acknowledge Hatanaka. He pulled up the sheets over his head and rolled to his side, trying to avoid as much view of Hatanaka as possible. He knew he was acting stubborn and hard-headed, but he wasn't at all ready to face him at the moment.

"Shuuichi, I ran through the documents again. You were right, negotiating with the competition might just pose as a threat to the company. I'll wait for the right time before I call in a meeting," Hatanaka said nonetheless, even if he knew Shuuichi wouldn't say anything. He raised his hand to turn off the lights, pulling the door closed as he made his exit. "Oyasumi, Shuuichi-kun. Arigatou."

The distant sounds of Hatanaka walking away, and of Hatanaka typing in his computer as he resumed his work were the only sounds that rang through his room now. He knew he can never match up to him, he knew he can never put himself between Hatanaka and his life. True, he still hated him, and he still loathed the fact that he had to live with someone who can compete with him for the love of Shiori. But remembering his mother's kindness, Shuuichi's words, and Hatanaka's determination, he knew he finally found something in the man that he can never find anywhere else.

Much as he would deny it, he found himself a father.

1.1 Owari