Hey everyone, long time no write. I know, I've been bad. Sorry but I've been addicted to my new Kindle Fire, or Kindle Crack as it's known at my house.
Well, I finally did it, I've finished this story. The end is mostly fluff as I tie up all the loose ends. I hope you enjoyed this. I've got an idea for new a story but I probably won't post it for a while. Since this one took so long for me to update, I think I'll write it and finish it before posting anything so I don't leave you all hanging for months waiting on chapters. It's getting harder and harder to come up with original ideas but so far I think I've done alright.
Thank you all for reading and I hope you'll leave me a review to let me know what you think.
It was mid afternoon as Kurama sat high in the old tree looking over the garden. Allowing his ki to gently caress her, Kurama whispered. "You've seen a lot in this garden over the years, haven't you Old Woman?"
Turning his golden eyes to the roses Kurama's mind traveled back to his childhood. In his mind's eye he could see himself as a small kit kneeling next to his mother as she showed him how to make the roses bloom. He remembered grinning up at the surprise in her lovely eyes when a single touch of his finger produced a brilliant bloom. He would never forget the pride and love in his father's eyes as he watched them.
Shifting his gaze to an old willow he smiled sadly at a particularly fond memory. His beautiful sister Kayla was giggling happily as he used the cascading tendrils of the old willow to tickle and tease her. Even now he could hear her sweet voice squealing at him. "Yo… Yo… Yoko! That tickles! Hee hee hee. Do it again!"
Kayla had died that following winter. With the pain of Kayla and his mother's loss as fresh as the day it happened, Kurama's mind moved to a happier memory. Looking now at the bonsai next to a small sand garden, Kurama could clearly see Aki as a kit. His son had been an eager pupil and had proved to be as talented as he was.
Just as Rose had planted the old woman when Kurama was born, Kurama had planted the bonsai when Aki was born. Kurama began sneaking him into the garden when he was just an infant and continued to over the decades until he'd gone away. Each time they came Aki worked on sculpting the bonsai. Now, centuries later it was a work of art.
A movement beneath him drew Kurama from his memories. With a smile, he dropped from the tree branch to land gracefully on the walkway beside Hiei. Leaning over, Kurama kissed his mate's cheek. "Thank you for coming with me Hiei. Now I have memories of you here with me to add to the memories of the others that I love."
Not bothering to question the sentimental statement, Hiei pulled Kurama into his arms. "Let's go find some place more private and I'll give you a memory you'll never forget."
Shivering with excitement, Kurama pulled Hiei deeper into the garden.
Sitting in the window seat in Mashiro's private living quarters, Hiei silently watched his mate. They were returning home to Alaric in the morning and the Youko clan was all gathered to say goodbye. Saphiro was beside Kurama giving him a big hug. "Thank you so much for helping me with Daddy and the council. Without your help they never would have taken my application for the Ambassador's position seriously."
Kissing her temple, Kurama smiled. "I'm not so sure about that. You had a strong presentation and in my opinion proved you were worthy of the position. Listen to Valai, she was very powerful when she held the ambassador position, so don't discount her teachings just because she's an elder now."
Saphiro blushed under his praise. "I promise to learn all I can from her before I leave. It's funny, I'm so excited yet a bit nervous too. I've never traveled outside our territory and I've only met a few demons that weren't Youko."
Kurama chuckled. "You don't have to worry about that. Make Alaric one of your first stops and Hiei and I will introduce you to Yusuke and Yomi, the other Makai kings. Yusuke also works closely with Oushi, the current ruler of Makai. With the three kings and the ruler opening doors for you, and making it clear that you are under their protection, you shouldn't have any trouble."
From where he sat across from them, Mashiro leaned forward. "Oh she will definitely be going to Alaric first Yoko. Even under royal protection I want her to train with you and Hiei to protect herself."
Liking the idea, Kurama nodded to his father. "That's an excellent idea Papa."
Mashiro met his son's gaze. "Actually, it was Hiei's suggestion. Not only does he want to train Saphiro, but Aki as well."
Rising, Kurama went to Hiei. Leaning down to his mate, Kurama kissed him. "Thank you Dragon. It means a lot to me that you want to help protect my family."
Not even embarrassed by Kurama's show of affection, Hiei grunted. "Hn. Your son will be king someday Kurama and a king must be powerful enough to protect his people."
In a small voice, that he hoped only Kurama would here, Hiei added. "Besides, they're my family now too Fox."
Hiei knew he was overheard however when Aki grinned. "Hey that's right Hiei. You're mated to my father, so I guess that makes you my step-father now. I've heard stories about you two though. I'm not sure if I should be excited or afraid of what you'll do to me. Either way, I can't wait."
Looking at his grandson, Mashiro smiled. "Well, you'll have to wait a little while Aki. While Yoko and Hiei are training Saphiro, you will be here learning the responsibilities of being a prince and leading the council. After that I will delegate you to them for however long your training takes. Perhaps while you're gone, one of your aunts can assume your position on the council."
Jade and Ruby both looked at their father in shock. Seeing their expressions Mashiro shrugged. "Alright, so I've been living in the dark ages. When your brother was pleading Saphiro's case for the ambassador's position he included the two of you in his argument. He pointed out that all of you had had the best education, and that if I allowed you to be more involved, perhaps there wouldn't be a repeat of what we went through with Kin."
Recovering from their shock, Jade and Ruby rushed to hug their father. Excitedly, they both started telling him what they'd like to do and change. After kissing them both, Mashiro shooed them back to their seats. "We'll have plenty of time for that later kits. Tonight is for Yoko and Hiei."
After taking her seat, Jade held a hand out to Kurama. When he came and sat on the arm of her chair, she looked up at him. "Yoko, why does Hiei call you Kurama?"
When the others all nodded and looked at him questioningly, Kurama smiled. "When I left here and became a thief I continued to go by Yoko. When I was reborn as a human, my human mother Shiori named me Shuuichi. Later, when I regained my demon powers, I no longer felt like Shuuichi, and technically Yoko was dead. It was all very confusing. Then I met Hiei. He was the first demon friend I had as a human. It was like starting a new chapter in my life, and I decided that chapter needed a new name so I chose Kurama."
Kurama turned to look at Hiei. "I don't think I ever told you this Hiei, but Kurama is our clan name. We are all Kuramas. It was a way I could begin to reclaim my Youko life without being Prince Yoko."
Turning when Ruby touched his arm, Kurama saw her look at him shyly. "Yoko, were you really a human? We never got to see you as a human. When the name Kurama was announced at the Dark tournament all those years ago, Daddy locked himself alone in the office to watch the feed. We did get to hear about the matches though."
When Kurama turned to look at his father, Mashiro sighed. "I was very proud of you Musuko. I was also afraid for you. Afraid you would die again before we could resolve our differences."
Kurama gave him a little smile. "I'm glad we got that chance Papa. Though I am glad to be a Youko again, I'm not sorry for my time as a human. Father, may I show Aki and the girls my human form?"
All eyes turned to Mashiro, anxiously looking for his nod of approval. When he gave it, Kurama shifted his energy and easily changed forms. Beside him Ruby gasped and snatched her hand from his arm. "Oh my. So that's what a human looks like."
Seeing the Youko family's hesitant curiosity, Hiei crossed to his mate's side. Burying a hand in Kurama's red tresses, Hiei leaned over and kissed him gently before turning to Mashiro. "Youko or human, my fox is beautiful, sexy, cunning, intelligent, powerful and deadly. I am very proud to have such a creature as my mate."
Saphiro gushed. "Oh isn't he sweet. So who did you fall for first, Yoko or … Shushi?"
Hiei grunted. "Hn, it's Shuuichi. He was human when we first met and became partners. So I suppose the first attraction was to this beautiful redhead. The soul inside though is who I chose as my mate, that's my Kurama."
Not caring who saw them, the redhead pulled Hiei down for a passionate kiss. When his sisters couldn't contain their giggles, Kurama released him. "I love you too Dragon."
Though he rolled his eyes, Hiei's blush gave away his pleasure at his mate's declaration. When the girls giggled again, Mashiro frowned at them before turning to Kurama. "Musuko, tell us how you became human and about your human life and family."
With his father's consent Kurama began his story. When Jade heard what had transpired with Gungin that brought about his Youko death, she whispered sadly. "So it really was Gunny who shot you."
Remembering how close Jade and Gunny had been as kits, Kurama sighed. "I've come to believe that Kin had Gunny brainwashed to believe that he was secretly working under Father's orders."
Seeing his words gave her some comfort Kurama told them how he became Shuuichi Minamino. There was a hint of sadness in Mashiro's eyes as Kurama spoke of his human parents. "I don't remember much about my human father. He died when I was three. My mother Shiori raised me alone. As I became aware of the demon within me I was horrid to her. I was five and knew I was older, smarter and more powerful than her. She was nothing more than a weak human."
Ruby giggled. "In other words, Prince Yoko looked down his nose at her like she was a lower life form."
Kurama chuckled. "Basically, yes. I was wrong though. When I was about five I did something stupid and she got hurt protecting me. That changed how I thought of her. I realized there was something the human woman could give me that I had been missing for a long time. A mother's love. After that I cherished her as my mother, in the same way that I cherished Rose as my mother."
Trying not to let the hurt in Mashiro's eyes affect him Kurama moved on in his story. When he told how he and Hiei had met, he took his mate's hand and smiled up at him. At the part where he told of them stealing the dark artifacts and meeting Yusuke, Mashiro didn't miss Hiei's scowl. "Hiei, my son seems to have skimmed over an important detail you're not happy about."
When Kurama looked away, Hiei filled in the details. "Shiori got sick. She was going to die and the human healers couldn't save her. Kurama helped me break into the Reikai vault so he could use the Forlorn Hope to save her."
Mashiro stiffened. "The price for granting such a request would have been your life Yoko."
Looking at his father, Kurama nodded. "Yes Father it was. By this time I had given up my dream of returning to Makai. I didn't think I had anything or anyone to return to. Shiori had unwittingly given life to and loved a demon. To repay her, I chose to devote my life to her happiness, even if the price was my own life."
Not liking the uncomfortable silence after Kurama's statement, Hiei continued for him. "Fortunately, Yusuke with his usual dumb luck intervened and Kurama and Shiori were both saved. Unfortunately, Kurama felt obligated to Yusuke and turned us both in to the Spirit Detective. For robbing the Reikai vault we were sentenced to assist the Spirit Detective on missions to protect the Ningenkai."
Aki's eyes were wide with interest at their adventures. "Was it really you that defeated the Saint Beasts? That's also how you ended up in the Dark Tournament, isn't it?"
Kurama grinned at his enthusiastic son. "Yes, our team did defeat the Saint Beasts. We were also drawn into the Dark Tournament when the Ningenkai and our loved ones there were threatened. When things settled down after the Makai Tournament, I decided to live out my human life while Hiei and our other friends came home to Makai."
Jade's big eyes looked up at him. "So you've been alone in the Ningenkai all these years? I mean, did you have… anyone… besides your human mother?"
Smiling at her, Kurama held on to Hiei's hand as he answered. "If you're asking if I had a mate or lover as a human, the answer is no. I've wanted no one but Hiei for all of my human life. For the fifty or so short years left of Shiori's life, I held on to the hope that Hiei would be here waiting for me when I finally came home."
With a caressing hand on his hair, Hiei whispered. "Always and forever my fox."
After accepting another kiss from his mate, Kurama changed back to his Youko form and turned to his family. "Shiori is gone now and I will always miss her, but I'm not sorry for the road my life took, because along the way I have made lifelong friends that I now call family and I have found my soul mate. The only thing I was missing was my Youko family. Now that we have been reunited my life has finally come around full circle, and I am complete."
Hiei stepped back as Kurama was swarmed by his family. After they all released him, Mashiro called an end to the evening. "Alright my kits, it's getting late. Jade, Ruby, go home to your families. Saphiro, Aki, get up to your rooms."
With good natured grumbles Aki and the girls bid everyone good night. Following them, Hiei called over his shoulder. "See you upstairs Fox."
Kurama grinned at his mate's tact. As soon as they were alone Mashiro would have spoken, but Kurama stopped him. "Father wait. I want to apologize. I know I put you through a lot and I'm sorry. I…"
Mashiro moved forward and put his arms around him. "You have nothing to apologize for Musuko. If I had only listened, and let you follow your heart, I would not have driven you away."
Kurama returned the hug before pulling away. "How about we agree to leave all of that in the past? Today is a new beginning for all of us."
Smiling at his son, Mashiro hugged him again. "Agreed."
A few days later Hiei sat high in a tree on the outskirt of the garden at Alaric. They had been home for weeks, but Hiei had seen little of his mate. By the time the sun rose each morning Kurama was in the garden and late each night Hiei had to drag him up to bed. Before they'd visited Kurama's homeland the garden at Alaric had been little more than a few scattered bushes and shrubs. The day they returned Kurama had gone straight to the center of the garden, spread his arms wide, and in a burst of energy reduced every living thing in the garden back to seed.
For hours he'd walked the garden, like an artist assessing a blank canvas. Then he'd brought in workers to first sculpt the earth to his specifications. Holes and trenches were later dug that would become ponds and streams. Wood workers were brought in to construct several small pagodas and a large gazebo. Lastly stones were brought in to create paths and walkways. Only when he was satisfied with their work and sent them away did Kurama finally begin planting his garden.
With a kiss goodbye and a quick "don't worry" Kurama had then disappeared for days. When he returned and began planting Hiei realized he'd been gathering seeds for his garden. First came the trees. Most Kurama grew only to saplings. A few he grew to adulthood. Next bushes and shrubs were sculpted along walkways and to create borders between different parts of the garden.
Flowers were next. In some areas Kurama meticulously planted each seed. At other times he simply scattered seeds and let the wind carry them. When he was finished, Hiei didn't think he'd ever seen so many different species of flowers. By now he realized that though the entire garden was an exquisite masterpiece, planted along the border were some of the deadliest plants in Kurama's arsenal. Even here in the beautiful Eden he'd created, the warrior in Kurama would protect the things he loved.
Curiously, the only area of the garden that didn't have plants was around the gazebo in the center of the garden. Watching him closely, Hiei saw Kurama walk the path around the gazebo several times before reaching into his hair for seeds. After walking the path again, Kurama climbed the steps of the gazebo and held out his arms. Wielding his Youko magic like a conductor leading an orchestra, Hiei could only stare in amazement as the roses grew and bloomed.
For weeks Hiei had come here to watch his mate work. In all the years he'd known Kurama he'd seen the fox make his plants grow, bloom, sing, dance and even kill, but never had he seen the incredible magic he'd seen as he created this garden. There were no words to describe it's majestic beauty.
Watching his mate, Hiei saw him lower his arms and sigh. Though Hiei hadn't hidden his presence when he came to watch, Kurama had never acknowledge him until now. When golden eyes turned to him, Hiei gasped. As Kurama smiled and held out a hand to him, Hiei thought he had never looked more beautiful. Flitting to his side, Hiei took his hand. "It's about time Fox."
Kurama chuckled. "Thank you for your patience Dragon."
Drawing Hiei to the top step of the gazebo, Kurama waved his arm out towards the garden and gave him a beautiful smile. "Welcome to my garden Hiei."
Taking in its beauty, Hiei sighed. "It's magnificent Kurama. Just as you are. I take it you are finally finished?"
With a smile, Kurama shook his head. "Oh no, far from it Hiei. A garden like this is never finished. It is constantly growing and evolving. In fact there is one more thing I want to plant today, but I need your help."
Following Kurama down the steps, Hiei found himself led to a secluded part of the garden. Though it was surrounded by bushes, a few flowers and lots of roses, the only thing in this part of the garden was a patch of grass and a lone bench. Together they sat on the bench. "Look around Hiei, what do you notice about this spot?"
Looking around, it took a moment to realize what Kurama meant. "It's completely isolated. Someone would have to be standing right at the entrance to see us."
Grinning at his mate, Kurama nodded. "I am creating this spot to be our private haven. Now come, I want your help with the last seed I'll plant today."
Curious how he could help, Hiei followed. Kneeling beside Kurama in the grass, Hiei watched as he withdrew a seed from his hair. "My mother planted the Old Woman the day I was born. Before we left the palace I asked the her for this."
In Kurama's hand was a large seed. Taking his hand, Kurama placed the seed in it, then put his own hands around Hiei's and the seed. "Hiei, today is the one month anniversary of our mating. I want us to plant this here in our home, in our garden. Together we will feed it and help it grow throughout our lives. Now feed your ki into the seed."
As he fed his ki into the seed he felt Kurama's energy pass through his hand and into the seed. Immediately it sprouted into a seedling. After a moment Kurama removed his hands and took the seedling. Together they made a whole to place the seedling in. After covering it with dirt, Kurama took Hiei's hand again and held it over the dirt. Again they fed ki into it and within seconds it sprouted. "This is our tree Hiei. It will feed off our energy, so we will need to share with it whenever we are near."
Leaning over, Kurama kissed him. "Now there is only one last thing we need to do to seal this as our private haven. Make love to me Hiei."
Pulling Kurama into his arms, he thoroughly kissed his mate as he began to undress him. Pulling back Hiei smirked at the half naked Youko. "Making love here will definitely insure that our tree gets lots of our energy."
Sliding his hands under Hiei's shirt and pulling it over his head, Kurama nodded. "Oh yes, we will have to make love here often then. We want our Pretty Lady to grow strong and tall."
Liking the name Kurama had given their tree, Hiei pushed his mate back in the grass. Neither was able to speak after that as they lost themselves in each other. Beside them the little sapling quivered as it fed from their powerful energy. Over the years their Pretty Lady would grow as strong and pure as her masters love.