Here I am with another chapter!

Sorry for the long wait, school's killing me with the amount of homework it gives me!


Culture Shock

Chapter 9: Aoi's Secret

"You're just like the beautiful lotus blossoms that bloom in the mud. You make the tainted world just a little more cleaner with your presence."

Blood

Blood is raining from the sky

A smile graced a certain blue-haired girl's lips as she raised her weapon to finish the already-dying youkai off so its misery would end. The deformed demon gurgled a curse at her before it fell like its other brothers and sisters had.

Hakkai couldn't help but find the sight beautiful. Strange, wasn't it? To find a woman surrounded by death and having endless blood on her hands attractive wasn't normal, without a doubt.

This was the very picture of sin, imperfection, and cruelty.

Yet, he found it painfully beautiful.

"Beautiful, isn't she?" A voice interrupted the healer's train of thought and brought him plummeting back down to earth. "Hmm? What did you say, Miss Yuhwa?"

Yuhwa snorted at Hakkai's politeness and waved it away as if it were a gadfly. "Please, just Yuhwa would be fine. Hakkai, is it?"

"Yes…Yuhwa." Hakkai said awkwardly. "I was a little distracted. Can you please repeat what you said?"

"I asked if you think Aoi was beautiful but I think I already have my answer." Yuhwa answered with a twinkle in her eye. "You look dumbstruck, in a good way. Usually, the reaction she would get would be horror or fear. I'm a little surprised that a refined man like you would find this scene beautiful but I guess I shouldn't think much of it."

Hakkai coughed in embarrassment. "I couldn't help but admire the scene."

Yuhwa laughed. "Don't worry, you're not the only one who finds beauty in the battlefield. I have the same feelings too. There's just something about the blood and the gore that makes her so beautiful in contrast."

"Actually Yuhwa, I find that the fact that she was the one who created this "blood and gore" very beautiful." Hakkai admitted. Yuhwa had a strange look cross her eyes before it disappeared as fast as it came. She shrugged and turned away from him.

"Just like him." Yuhwa murmured lowly to herself but Hakkai caught it. He made no show that he heard her but the simple sentence got him curious.

Who was this him? A brother? A friend?

A lover?

It suddenly struck the healer that he hardly knew anything about the blue-haired woman despite their long, intellectual conversations. Aoi struck him as the kind of woman who would be more open about her personal life. But she always had been a bit more distanced from the group than the others. Now that he thought about it, she always avoided the questions about her childhood.

What was Aoi trying to hide?

And why the hell was he so concerned about it? It was none of his business!


"-so that's how I managed to sneak into the temple and steal the offerings." Bi-dam said proudly.

They group decided to remain where they were for the time being because of the youkai infestation. Bi-dam assured them that there wouldn't be any more youkai coming there soon because of his recent kill. To make sure, Bi-dam hung the corpse of the annoying snake lord, Orichimaru, on a tree in a similar manner as he did with the equally annoying monk.

Somewhere, a certain monk trying to escape from his bonds sneezed.

So, to pass the time, they made a campfire (fire was another thing that drove youkai off unless it was a fire youkai) and made dinner. Bi-dam told the rest of the group about his life in Korea and ended up telling them the mischief that he also did there.

Lirin clapped. "That was a great story!"

"You didn't actually keep the offerings that you stole, did you?" Yaone looked at Bi-dam in concern. Bi-dam gave her a careless shrug. "Depends on what you mean by that."

Kougaiji gave Bi-dam a look. "Children your age shouldn't steal things from others."

"Children my age shouldn't be begging for food and medicine. Children my age shouldn't be worried every single second that there might be a sneaky youkai waiting to gobble them up. They should be playing games with smiles all around. But the world isn't fair like that, is it?" Bi-dam shot back smartly.

Kougaiji had no reply to that.

Dokugakuji chortled in laughter, breaking the uncomfortable silence. "Serves those high and mighty monks right! Good job, kiddo! So what did you do with the loot that you stole?"

"The fruits I shared with my friends. The pretty statues sold for a good price so I bought medicine with the money and gave it to the local infirmary. It was close to winter so there's a good chance that they would need it." Bi-dam said offhandedly. "I saved the leftover money to buy a sack of rice."

Sora bit her lip. "Did the monks know that you did it?"

"Who cares? Where's the evidence? With the fruits gone, the relics sold, and the money I got from it shared, what could they do to me? I'm just a little eight-year-old hanyou who managed to scrap up enough money to buy one bag of rice." Bi-dam explained with a smirk. "The villagers were grateful enough to keep their mouths shut. No one liked those phony monks anyways."

Sora gaped at the red head. "I never knew you could be so sneaky! Is there anything you can't do, Bi-dam?"

"I can't embroider a handkerchief for my life?" He offered.

"That's pretty much a useless talent anyways." Sora mumbled. "And you're a boy! Why would you care about embroidery?"

Bi-dam recalled his last life as a woman. It was a bit awkward knowing that you used to be a woman in your past life but the knowledge he received from that life was more than useful.

He used to be a very famous courtesan who was talented in all things

…aside from embroidery.

The pain from pricking his fingers countless times didn't escape his memory and he clearly remembered the loathing he used to have for that needle and thread.

"No idea. It's just the first thing I could come up with."

Sora grumbled. "Show off. So you know that you're talented."

"Hey, don't blame a boy for being honest." Bi-dam said with his hands up in defense. A roughish grin escaped onto his mouth. Sora couldn't help but grin back. You're not as modest as you make yourself seem to be. She thought to him.

Nope, but that's going to be a secret between us, 'kay Sora? Don't want Mom to get disappointed that I'm not exactly perfect.

Your Mom doesn't seem like the type who would want a perfect son. I think she would love you no matter what.

Yeah, but she deserves a better son. Don't you think? It's bad enough that I'm a hanyou.

Is being a hanyou really that bad?

Look at how we're treated by the world and ask that question again.

Oh.

Silence

But I'm sort of okay with the fact that I'm a hanyou. I got to be something that the heavens don't really approve of.

What kind of thought is that? Do you have something against the Gods?

You can say that. And with that, Bi-dam didn't think anything else to her for the rest of dinner.


How can finding one kid be so troublesome?

"Bi-dam! Bi-dam! Come 'ere boy! I got some food!" Goku called, receiving a slap on the back of his head. "Shut it ya stupid monkey. The kid isn't like you and he definitely doesn't have a stomach for a brain."

"Well I don't see you having any other good ideas! At least I'm doing something, you've been quiet the whole time we've been out here!" Goku snapped back. "We've been out here for hours! And I'm hungry!" He ended his rant with his usual complaint.

As if to make a point, his stomach grumbled.

Gojyo looked at his companion with a raised eyebrow. "You really have a stomach for a brain, don't you?"

"SHUT UP! I missed dinner so BUG OFF!"

Gojyo snorted. "Well you should've eaten a bit faster before the youkai horde came."

"How should I know when the sky throws up youkai? I'm not some youkai detector!"

"And I thought you'd at least be a bit useful in that area. Huh, my bad." Gojyo apologized mockingly.

"I'll kill ya!" Goku screeched before pouncing on Gojyo.

All youkai that saw this spectacle either sweatdropped, gaped, shook their heads, or ignored them.

Humans stupid enough to squabble in the midst of a youkai horde?

Yeah

This place was definitely not Japan.


Bi-dam had lots of different opinions in the strange group in front of him.

Yaone was nice. She was sort of like an older sister in his eyes. Her kindness and gentle touch reminded him of his mother.

Kougaiji…Bi-dam didn't really like him but even he could see that the youkai was a good leader who has the respect of his subordinates.

Dokugakuji gave him some mixed feelings. Someone like him should've set off some alarm bells in Bi-dam's mind but something about the gentle giant made the usually cautious hanyou trust him.

And the man felt strangely familiar…

Lirin was a brat. Funny, but she was still a brat.

"Bi-dam, Bi-dam, Bi-dam, Bi-dam…."

Bi-dam's eye twitched as his name was being abused, mauled, and overused by the energetic little sister of the man he didn't really like. "Yes? I heard you the first time."

"Nah, nothing. It's just that your name sounds really weird."

Twitch

"Really now? I guess it's just a different culture thing. Sora's name means 'sky' in Japanese. I'm sure that your name means something too in your language."

"Nah, I bet your name sounds really weird even in your own country, right? I mean, Bee Dam. What was your mother thinking naming you after an insect and a beaver home?"

Twitch, Twitch, Twitch

"…"

"Bee Dam, Bee Dam~" Lirin sang.

Kougaiji sent Bi-dam an apologetic look. They may not like each other, but he could sympathize. The girl was his little sister. He went through that pain for a while.

Snap

Lirin stopped singing and stared at Bi dam in surprise. In the young boy's hands was a broken branch as thick as Dokugakuji's arm and that was thick.

Maybe…she pushed him a little too far?

"…Oi." Bi-dam murmured darkly, making Lirin jump. "Didn't I tell you that it's a different culture thing? Back in Korea, my name doesn't mean 'Bee' or 'Dam'. Only the most superstitious would name their children something as stupid as that." Bi-dam smirked. "Oh, and your name would mean giraffe in my language."

Well, not really. But her name did rhyme with the word so…close enough.

Lirin glared at him and stuck out her tongue. "Well I think your language is dumb!"

"Lirin!" Yaone scolded.

Bi-dam shook his head. "It's okay, Yaone. She's just a child. She'll mature eventually."

Dokugakuji snorted and Sora giggled.

Lirin nodded in agreement, not yet realizing the subtle insult. "Yeah! I'm just a-Hey! You're younger than me!"

Bi-dam nodded in mock agreement. "Yes, yes, you're right and your actions definitely show your maturity."

Oh

Burn

"Why you-

"Enough." Kou gave his younger sister a firm look.

Lirin looked like she wanted to complain. "But he-

"No."

"Didn't you just hear-

"Yes. And I think you shouldn't embarrass yourself any further." Kou's tense statement made Lirin to grudgingly back down…for now.

Bi-dam internally smirked at his victory. It was a rare childish emotion that he experienced. Usually, he would act more mature, but something about this group pushed away the other nine lives and boiled him down to just Bi-dam.

An eight-year-old hanyou who can kick serious Japanese youkai ass

It was slightly…refreshing.

Bi-dam?

Yeah?

I don't think she likes you. Sora noted.

Bi-dam snickered. Good. I don't like her either. No one insults my home country and no one insults my mother's naming abilities.

What?

You're a Mama's boy, aren't you?

Bi-dam began to splutter. What? I'm not.

Uh huh. Right.

Fine. You don't have to believe me. Bi-dam began to sulk.

Sora giggled. You're funny.

And you're mean.

You don't really mean that. And I think it's nice that you love your mother that much. You're lucky. I wish I had a mother.

Sora's wistful tone wasn't missed by Bi-dam. You don't have a mother?

She died when she gave birth to Kiku. Dad didn't want anything to do with us when mom died. We were useless to him.

I'm sorry.

It's fine. Because of that, I met Kasumi and the rest of the hanyou village. I got a family who cares whether or not I live or die.

Sora turned to him.

And I got to meet you!

The way her eyes shined when she said that made his stomach flip and his heart speed up. Yeah…that's a good thing.

You're really lucky. You know that, right?

Bi-dam was very well aware of how lucky he was. He went through nine lives of having terrible parents. He considered himself lucky in this life to have at least one good parent.

That was why he loved his mother so much. There was one little part of him, the eight-year-old Bi-dam part, which feared the day when he had to leave his mother and make his own life.

He was afraid that he wouldn't experience this kind of mother-love in his next life.

Uh huh. I know it. I remind myself every day.

Sora could tell that he meant it. She could feel it.

Hey, Bi-dam.

What now?

What does your name mean in your language?

Bi-dam smiled a bit bitterly. The character 'Bi' means 'rain. 'Bi-dam' means 'sad story'. Fitting for a creature like me, huh?

Sora wrinkled her nose in confusion. Your mother named you that?

She would do better than that if she did. She wanted to name me after my father. Our culture, though, prevented her from naming me. Someone else got first dibs.

Then…who named you?

Bi-dam mentally chuckled. My good old, youkai-hating grandfather did, of course.


Yuhwa knew.

She saw the look on too many faces to not know what it meant. She had that look on her face too, once upon a time, when she was reunited with Jien.

It was a face of a heartbroken person considering on taking another chance in love.

The Healer had that look on his face when he saw Aoi caked in blood and gore. It was an expression of awe and fondness as well as confusion.

She felt happiness for her friend when she saw this. The healer was a kind man. She knew that if Aoi gave him a chance, he would make her very happy.

Yuhwa frowned. She shouldn't be celebrating right now. Considering is not a word that is finite. He could simply choose to hang onto his old love. She saw that happen many times too with disastrous results. That usually ended with a pair of broken hearts from both sides and regret.

Will I get hurt again? The question was written all over his face. Will I lose her like I did with the last one?

Will you take that chance? Yuhwa wanted to ask him but she knew that it would be in vain. It was a question that he would have to ask himself eventually.

She hoped he chose yes.

Yuhwa prayed to whatever Gods up there that the tragedy that happened years before wouldn't be repeated. Fate wouldn't be that cruel, would it? Please, she prayed, let it end happily.

For Aoi's sake


Kanzeon drummed her fingers on her 'humble' throne and sighed in boredom.

"What's with this lack of drama?"


The battle seemed to go on forever. It got to the point where Yuki had to step in and help. Komu freaked out when his 'Yuki-sama' actually did work without anyone telling her to. It just wasn't normal for the poor Tengu.

The youkai horde attack finally came to a standstill when Suzume fired an arrow with a complex seal tied to it. It gave the whole ground a couple of hours rest.

Yuki randomly lied down on the grass and fell asleep.

They definitely needed it.

"Gah! When is it going to end?" Sado complained. "I thought I was going to die from fatigue!" He shook he fist at the air. "You stupid youkai portal! It's all your fault!"

"Sado," Ikki put his hands on the mole hanyou and turned him so he was facing the other direction, "The portal is that way. You were screaming at grouchy monk."

"Oh…heh." Sado laughed sheepishly. "My bad."

Sanzo was too tired to yell at them but he managed a nasty glare. He was grouchy, dammit! Well, grouchier than his usual grouchy self. His bullets were all used up, his newspaper was probably being digested in a random youkai's stomach (if it isn't dead), and the air smelled of burnt bugs.

Sanzo hated bugs.

Well, hated them more than many of the other things he hated.

Suzume's herb-like scent filled his nose before he felt her hands on his shoulders. He was about to snap at her to get her hands off of him but she began to massage his shoulders, ridding him from the aching knots. Sanzo stifled a moan. It was a while since the last time he got a massage and it was from Kaede, Suzume's Aunt and Sensei.

In Sanzo's standards, a while meant a while.

Suzume smiled softly when she felt Sanzo relax. She wasn't thrilled to feel the endless knots in his body (how much stress did he go though while she was gone?) but it just told her that she would be giving him massages more often in the future.

"You're too stressed."

"You expect me not to be with those idiots?" Sanzo asked rhetorically.

Suzume chuckled. "I'm happy that you're having fun. They must keep you entertained."

"More like put me through complete hell."

"Awww, you poor baby." Aoi mocked causing some of the hanyou children to giggle. "Don't worry, Suzume will take good care of you. She's great with children."

"Shut it." Sanzo growled, tensing up again. Suzume sighed. "Aoi, look what you've done. And just when I got him to relax."

Hakkai brought over a bag filled with some youkai beetle shells. "These were what you needed, right Miss Aoi?"

Aoi grinned. "Thanks Hakkai! How did you know I needed those?"

"I told him to get them." Yuhwa piped up from behind. The Korean woman held up a bag filled with…whatever it was.

Aoi's grin widened. "Yuhwa, you shouldn't have!"

"What the hell did they get this time?" Sanzo groaned in annoyance. At the same time, he was covering up the fact that he was groaning because the massage felt so good.

"Spider Webs spun by the spider youkai themselves! How did you manage to get them in such good condition? This will make the perfect net to capture stronger youkai!"

As Aoi admired Yuhwa's gift, Hakkai set his bag filled with beetle shells down and took a seat next to Sanzo. "That was exhausting."

"Then why did you do it?" Sanzo asked flatly.

Hakkai shrugged sheepishly. "They seemed to need the extra pair of hands."

"Pushover." Sanzo muttered before lighting a cigarette.

Hakkai rubbed the back of his neck. "I guess I am."

The healer felt something tug on his pants. He looked down to see a pair of purple eyes. "Kiku? Is there something wrong?"

"I got a boo boo. Hakkai make it better?" Kiku asked cutely.

Hakkai knelt down to her level. "Of course Kiku, that's what I'm here for. So, where is the boo boo, Kiku?"

The little hanyou turned around and showed her back. Hakkai let out a small gasp when he saw the 'boo boo'. "Oh my. Where did you get this?"

"A meanie youkai scratched me." Kiku pouted.

A scratch was an understatement. Hakkai wondered how the child was even standing. Her back sported a huge gash that was spilling buckets of blood, staining her kimono.

"Kiku, I want you to stand still for me, okay? I'm going to sew this up before you lose any more blood. But first, I need to clean this."

"Okay!" Kiku chirped.

How is she even smiling? Isn't it painful?

Aoi walked over and whistled at Kiku's wound. "That looks huge, kid. Good thing I have silkworm balm to patch that up." Aoi took out a small marble and crushed it. She knelt down and gently rubbed the substance onto Kiku's back. Kiku wiggled a little at the contact to her wound. "It feels funny."

"It's supposed to sweetheart." Aoi told her patiently. "Now stand still."

Hakkai watched in surprise when the wound closed by itself in a matter of seconds. "How…?"

"It's Silkworm Balm. Made from the threads that the Silkworm Youkai squirts at you when it attacks." Aoi explained while Kiku skipped away with a "thanks!"

"Amazing."

Aoi smirked. "It's a pain in the ass to get but it heals people fast. It also gets rid of poison from the bloodstream if you swallow it. Tastes like shit though."

"You swallowed one?"

"Teacher forced fed it to me when a youkai squirted poison into my mouth."

"Ah."

Aoi's features became a little softer when she watched Kiku skip towards her fellow hanyou. All of them giggled as she attempted to catch Hakuryuu and pet him but he avoided her confrontations skillfully. Aoi's expression when she watched them held affection, amusement, and…wistfulness.

"Miss Aoi, do you like children?" Hakkai found himself asking.

Aoi looked at him in surprise. "Um…yeah. I like kids. I'm sort of hoping to have some once I settle down in the future. Why?"

"Just curiosity."

"Curiosity, huh? What else are you curious about Mister Hakkai?" Aoi mimicked Hakkai's habit of calling people "Miss" or "Mister" jokingly.

Hakkai actually considered her offer. "Hmmm. Would you mind telling me your blood type?"

Aoi raised her eyebrow. "Blood type? Seriously?"

"Yes. As a doctor and a friend, I feel that knowing your blood type is very important."

"Okay then, doc. I have blood type AB."

Hakkai mauled over the information. "Hmm, then it's good that I too have the same blood type. There's no need to have you die of blood loss." He said cheerfully.

Aoi sweatdropped at his optimistic personality

She understood that it was normal for someone like him to be that cheerful but…really? Even when talking about blood loss he's that darn cheerful?

Yeesh, he's scarier than she thought.

Aoi began to walk away. "Well, I'll be helping Yuhwa out now, mind checking the other kids for me? I think one of the twins cut her cheek though I'm not sure."

Hakkai began busying himself with taking care of the children.

"Pushover." He heard Sanzo mutter again.

Suzume lightly punched his shoulder. "Stop it. He's just being helpful, unlike someone I know."

"Hey Hakkai! Wanna see something cool?" Aoi asked out before chucking a small packet into a boiling cauldron that came out of nowhere. The cauldron exploded and a youkai, alive and whole, flew out. "Nice, huh? I just brought a youkai back to life!"

Yuhwa stood behind her, rolling her eyes. "Show off."

"Now why would you do that?" Sanzo snarled while jumping onto his feet. Suzume sighed in slight frustration at Sanzo's tense posture. "Kouryuu, you're tense again."

Aoi waved the monk away. "It's not alive. The powder that I put just makes limbs unconsciously move."

Hakkai took a closer look at the 'live' youkai. "Interesting…"

The blue haired girl smiled in pride. "I knew a guy like you would like it! Next time, I'll use it on that snake youkai corpse I found."

"Please don't or you'll give Kouryuu a headache." Suzume sighed. "And where's Kasumi? She disappeared after I closed the barrier."

Aoi shrugged. "Beats me."


When Kasumi found Gojyo and Goku squabbling, she smiled in relief but also felt the foreign feeling of irritation.

So, she whacked them over the head.

"Guys! I thought you were looking for Bi-dam!" Kasumi scolded. "I can't believe you two were arguing this whole time!"

Goku winced. "Sorry."

"Yeah, sorry about that sweetheart."

Kasumi grinned. "It's okay. Bi-dam isn't weak so he should be fine. Yuhwa is getting a little concerned so she sent me. If she ever asks, both of a mountain youkai swallowed you and I had to fish you two out. No need to disappoint her, right?"

"Right…" Gojyo said guiltily.

Knowing what he felt, Kasumi patted his shoulder comfortingly. "Don't worry. I would've felt Bi-dam's horror if he was attacked. So far, he's calm and…irritated?" Kasumi ended the last part as a question.

"Irritated?" Both Gojyo and Goku echoed with the same amount of confusion.

Gojyo then went on to say. "What the heck annoyed that kid? If he's that much like me then not many things should annoy him. Except…don't tell me there's another annoying monkey out there!"

"HEY!"


"Ah-CHOO!" Lirin sneezed.

Yaone was at her side in an instant. "Lirin-sama! Are you catching a cold?"

Lirin shrugged carelessly while wiping her nose. "Not sure. Hey Yaone, can I have another pork bun?"

Bi-dam rolled his eyes. "You're always hungry. How do you manage to fit all that food in your body?"

"That's something for me to know and you to never find out." Lirin said in a creepy voice.

"…High Metabolism?" Sora suggested.

Lirin fell back in shock. "Gah! How did you know?"

"She didn't." Bi-dam deadpanned. "She just guessed."

Dokugakuji held Lirin back before she could get her hands on him. "Hey, hey, play nice Lirin. He's just a kid." He winked at Bi-dam over Lirin's shoulder.

Bi-dam couldn't help but smile.


Sora tried to focus on Yaone as the woman explained about the basics in medicine but got distracted when she saw the transparent form of a woman and a man behind her, looking at her proudly.

Those people must've been her parents.

"Sora? Are you listening?" Yaone's gentle and concerned voice brought Sora back into reality. Sora smiled sheepishly. "Sorry Yaone. I'm just getting a little tired."

"Of course! You've been running from scary Japanese youkai all day!" Yaone nodded understandingly. Out of nowhere, she whipped out a blanket and placed it around Sora's small body. "There."

"Thank you." Sora murmured while burying her face into the soft material and tried to ignore the impish sprit of a dead child poking her.

"Hey, hey, play with me. I know you can see me."

Sora went on in ignoring him.

"Stupid hanyou, you should be honored that a noble's son wants to play with something like you. Stop ignoring me!"

Sora wanted to tell the brat to bug off but she knew that it would only encourage him. She simply waited until the kid decided that she couldn't see him after all.

Sora pulled the covers closer to her body.

She hated it.

Sha hated that she was able to see dead people. She hated that she couldn't do anything to make them content enough to leave. She hated that everyone she met had at least one ghost clinging onto them.

Because those ghosts always needed her help.

"Tell him for me that I love him."

"Kill that man for me."

"Take care of that child for me."

"Love me."

"I'm sorry."

So many of those ghosts bothered her to the point where she didn't even bother making friends. They always ended up looking at her funny. It was bad enough that she was a hanyou.

She hated not being normal.

But then there's Bi-dam. He wasn't normal, just like her.

She knew that he was someone really special.

She knew because, when she met him, he didn't have a single ghost.

He didn't have a ghost because all ghosts disappeared in his presence like he as if he was something to be feared.


Hakkai couldn't help but to begin comparing Aoi with Kanan.

It wasn't fair. He knew that but he couldn't help it. The two were too similar to not be compared.

Aoi couldn't cook for her life, she was wonderful with children, and she gave him feelings that he thought only Kanan could make him feel. Lately, everything that she did reminded him of his dead lover.

But Aoi wasn't Kanan.

Of course not, Aoi is her own person! He mentally scolded himself.

Despite those similarities, both were completely different people. Aoi, for one, knew how to fight. She lived for the battle and she loved shedding blood. Her language wasn't the most refined and she had the same cocky air as Gojyo did.

She knew so much about poison and the uses that youkai body parts could provide.

She kept to herself and didn't seem to care what others thought of her. She unconsciously attracted people with her strong personality and charisma.

She was Aoi

Hakkai suddenly recalled a conversation he had with Gojyo about Hazel's ability to bring back the dead and his confession that he would've done the same thing in the past.

The healer laughed under his breath when he remembered the things that he listed that his next love interest would have to have.

"She has to have a nice figure and a fetching personality."

Aoi most definitely had a nice figure. Hakkai would've been a dimwitted fool if he didn't see that when he took care of her wounds a few nights back. Her strong and sarcastic personality made her even more charming, though Gojyo would beg to differ.

"She'll be happy to have my children one after the other."

Children, Aoi did say that she wanted them when she settled down in the future. Her fondness for the hanyou children was also apparent.

"And even if I slave to support our large family, she'll push me around saying, "Now Father, you're a nuisance!"

Hakkai chuckled. No need to have a good imagination to image Aoi doing that if she ever got married.

Hakkai's smile slowly faded.

Of course

If Aoi even got married, it would be with a Japanese man. Her stay in with them was only temporary. After she helped break the barrier, she'll be whisked off back to Japan.

Hakkai sighed.

It was for the better. She was a youkai-hunter. The only reason why she wasn't hunting him down was because she had no idea that he was a youkai, thanks to the power limiters.

Hakkai touched the silver cuffs on his left ear gingerly.

My sins

In his mind, he was standing in a dark place with blood all over his hands like it was during that night. An image of Aoi appeared in front of him. Her back was facing him, seemingly staring off at something that caught her interest. Hakkai began to reach out for her. When his hands were millimeters away from her shoulder, he paused.

There was no way that the Gods would allow these hands to touch her.

Hakkai slowly drew his hand back and Aoi's figure disappeared, immediately making him regret his decision.

Wait…

Even though he told himself he didn't deserve it, he still wanted…he still wanted to…

Enough. Do you want her to die too?

"Hakkai?"

Hakkai forced himself away from his thoughts to face Aoi's questioning eyes. He smiled. "Hmm? Miss Aoi, is there anything that you need?"

Instead of answering, Aoi looked closer. "You're not smiling."

"Pardon?"

Aoi pointed at her mouth. "You're smiling here but," she pointed at her eyes, "you're not smiling here at all. I'm not Kasumi, but even I know that's not good. Anything troubling you?"

"I'm just tired." It wasn't a lie. He truly was tired.

Aoi patted his shoulder. "Then rest."

The expression on her face made Hakkai want to hurl. It was too caring, too honest, too kind, all pointed at him.

But what made him sick were his thoughts when he saw her expression. It made him want to take her and hide away someplace where only he could keep her.

Somewhere where death wouldn't even reach her.

He heard someone call her name and she was gone from his side in an instant.

He touched the air where she once stood and smiled, bitterly this time.

Well at least she wasn't indestructible, Hakkai thought sardonically, then I would've never let her go.

A scream ripped through the silence, causing Hakkai to stand suddenly and look at what caused the scream.

What he saw next caused his heart to stop.


It attacked when they least expected it.

Suzume's normally foolproof seals was broken by something…something strong.

And now it got Aoi.

Hakkai looked like a statue with how still he was at the moment.

Kiku stared at the scythe protruding from Aoi's stomach in horror. "A-A-Aoi-nee."

Aoi took the hit that was supposed to be for her.

Aoi smirked shakily. "Heh, is that all you got ya shitty youkai? It'll take more than that to knock me dead."

"It looks like your time is up." The youkai who inflicted the wound noted flatly. "You're going to die soon, witch."

As if on cue, Aoi hacked up a huge amount of blood before going limp. The youkai pulled his weapon out of her in disgust.

"Heh, I can't believe that something as weak as her managed to wipe out my whole squadron. Pathetic." He kicked Aoi's limp body away. "Now, who's next? The half-demon? Wait, she's not here. The Priestess then."

The youkai took a step toward Suzume. Sanzo pulled out his gun and stood protectively in front of her. The youkai looked at the priest blandly. "Move. I have no time for trash like you."

Sanzo shot without warning, hitting the youkai on the shoulder.

"Next time, I won't miss."

The youkai pulled the bullet out of his shoulder, clearly irritated. "I told you that I have no time for you." The bullet wound closed up and it appeared as if he didn't have one in the first place.

In moments, the youkai was in front of Sanzo. He gave the monk a smug smile before kicking him in the stomach. Sanzo doubled over in pain before passing out. Suzume coldly glared at the youkai as he walked toward her. "You seem to know us."

"You forgot me? How hurtful."

The youkai was at Suzume's face in an instant with his scythe at her neck. He waved a piece of paper in front of her face. "You remember this? Huh? You remember how you sealed our master with this two years ago? Hmm?"

Suzume's eyes widened in realization

"You're one of the survivors."

The youkai smirked. "Yes. And I'm going to take care of you lot before my master wakes up."

"Wakes up?"

The youkai chuckled. "A charitable man managed to break your petty seal. Now, it will only be a little bit before my master wakes up. He'll be thrilled to hear that you four are dead."

"So that's what it is."

The youkai froze in shock before looking at his empty hand and then looking at the scythe's blade protruding from his abdomen. "H-How?"

Aoi smirked at the youkai. "I was able to wipe out your squadron for a reason, Lieutenant Zhao. Your fault for underestimating me."

The youkai began laughing hysterically. "YOU! So it was YOU who master wanted. To think that the Demonslayer who caused us so much trouble was the woman he was searching for!" He sneered. "You don't deserve him."

"Then you take him." Aoi told him mockingly. "I'll make sure to send him to hell for you so you won't get lonely. Don't worry, it won't be that long." Aoi turned to a pale Hakkai and smiled in greeting. "'Sup?"

Disbelief and relief covered Hakkai's features. "Miss Aoi…Thank goodness. I thought you were-

"Dead?" Aoi finished. "Nah, I feel fine and dandy. Though," she inspected her clothes, "I think I should change into less bloody clothing after this. Think the monk will mind if we drain his magical card of his?"

Hakkai just let out a breathy laugh.

The youkai made a gurgling sound. "You…your eyes. It's different."

It was true. Instead of her familiar brown eyes, it was replaced with steely, silver eyes that seemed to pierce whatever it looked at.

"What? You have problems with silver-eyed girls?" Aoi asked with a dangerous smile.

"…Not…human." The youkai gurgled. "You're a…Hanatsuki."

Hakkai looked at Aoi in confusion. "Hanatsuki?"

The youkai laughed. "You…not tell…your comrades? How…cute. Probably didn't…want…tell them…about that…youkai's heart…in your…body."

Aoi lifted her brow. "So? They know now. Now it's up to them to decide if they'll accept me or not."

"Stupid…Hypocritical…Demon…slayer." The youkai spat. "You use…tha…t heart…t…o…live yet...kill demons."

"Yes. This heart gave me the ability to live. And guess what? It gives me another cool ability. You should feel lucky that I'm telling you this 'cause not many people get to know before they die by my hands. I have the blood of a youkai flowing through me. I'm practically immortal which means,"

Aoi slit the youkai's throat. "I'm freakin' indestructible. Now go and tell your master that."


Ha! Finally finished!

Hope people caught that I used the Hanatsuki idea from the manga Hanatsuki Hime. It's a great manga ;)

If people didn't remember Hakkai's telling Gojyo about his 'ideal type' then go to Saiyuki Reload Chapter 28 Page 13-15, it's a hilarious/sad part of the manga that earns a spot in my favorite scenes.

I finally made progress in Hakkai and Aoi's relationship. (Yay!)

Next chapter will focus more on Sanzo/Suzume, the annoying monk (yes, he's still alive), Yuki/Goku, and Bi-dam.

Don't worry, there'll still be some Aoi/Hakkai and Gojyo/Kasumi. Just not as much.

I also want to know how people like Bi-dam's character. Should I make him more interesting? Devious?

That's all for now. Until next time.

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