"You will take care, won't you, Shuu-chan?" mother said as she embraced me. I returned her embrace, thinking how much I will miss the warmth and love of this woman that has so held me to stay in Ningenkai. After a while, we separated, and I tried to give her assurance with a kiss on the cheek and a smile.
"I'm always careful, okaa-san," I said, hefting a small bag beside me. Well, most of the time, when I can afford to be careful, anyway. I was dressed in a white shirt, a red jacket and white slacks. I actually liked ningen clothes, even though Hiei found then uncomfortable and confining. And I didn't look all that bad in them, either. Vain youkai. "I'd best be going! Shitsurei shimasu!"
"Oh, and Shuu-chan?"
"Maybe you can drop by Yuira's house and inquire how she's doing." She stated with a twinkle in her eye.
I did blush a little, but not too much. Mother apparently had no objections to me having a girlfriend. Yuira yet. If she only knew the truth.
"I'll see if I can do just that," I stated, and went out the door. With a last wave, I rushed down the street to where I was supposed to meet the siren youkai.
My mind was on the Dagger and how we might be able to track down its present…owner. Or possession, whatever the case might be. Such an adversary was likely to be dangerous, but the Dagger intrigued me as Yuira/Kashiesa did. She was hiding back something from me, I knew, especially about the "someone" who had helped her avoid the Dagger of Night's allure before. But I was determined to find out what Kashiesa intended to do with the Dagger. Or, more importantly, what role I would play once we actually found the fabled artifact.
Just then, I spotted Yusuke with Kuwabara chatting near the street. They both turned when I approached, and I could see worried frowns on their faces. I nodded to them and smiled. Apparently they've heard that the fox was about to go back to his lair in Makai, if only for a short while. And they weren't particularly pleased about my choice of companion.
"Konnichiwa, Yusuke, Kuwabara-kun," I stated, slowing down as I came abreast with them. "You've heard, haven't you?"
"Can't say we're not worried about you, Kurama," Yusuke muttered. "This Dagger business…it sounds dangerous."
"We all live dangerous lives," I shrugged. "Somehow I'll manage to survive this one and return for the team and okaa-san."
"Do you need--want us to go with you?" Yusuke offered. I could sense that he was uncomfortable with the idea, but he was concerned about me as well. Ningen. Their loyalty and concern were touching.
"I don't know what lies ahead in Makai," I said, bringing my gaze to bear. "And I can't ask you to compromise your lives for me, particularly since this isn't even an official rei kai tantei business. Thanks for asking, though."
"Damn, Kurama, you can't just leave us behind," Kuwabara stated with fervor. He always was the expressive one. He took a deep breath. "Okay, you're going, but we don't have to like it. Just this--if you ever come to need us, we'll make it somehow."
"That's the most I can hope for." I smiled. Then I turned and prepared to leave. "I'd best be going. Yuira's probably waiting."
"And…Kurama?" Kuwabara stated, somehow seeming a bit subdued and uncomfortable.
"If…if you see Yukina, tell her…Kazuma Kuwabara wishes her well," he said with awe and concern in his voice.
"I will," I smiled. Too bad you don't know the entire truth about her, Kuwabara. But it is Hiei's prerogative to divulge the truth about their kinship. "Ja mata!"
She was dressed in white suspenders and a plain black shirt. She smiled and waved as I approached her. Even now, I find her attractive, with her sparkling brown eyes and her purple hair unbraided and flowing with the breeze. Must be something about long hair. She wiped her hair from her face as I approached. She had an open, inviting manner that masked her determination and cunning wit. Is this what you are returning to Makai for, Youko Kurama? Not just for the attraction of thievery, despite a haunted past. To be with her.
"Kurama-chan," she stated brightly. She saw my bag and smiled. "Do you really need those with you?" She sounded amused.
"No, but there was no need to alarm okaa-san if she suspected I'm not going on just a plain camping trip." I set the bag down. It did not contain more than a few change of clothes, particularly the ones I used for fighting. "And how did you fare with your father?"
"I told him I'll be spending some time with a girl friend on a tour around Japan," she said. "Since he thought it might be good for me to go on a vacation, he didn't object much."
"You know, I'd like to meet him someday." I could tell she had high regard for the man.
"I hope so," she said softly, sounding slightly wistful. She appeared to be outwardly calm, but I could sense ripples of worry from her. What aren't you telling me, siren? Why can't I have the truth when I have pledged my support, and perhaps my life?
"I just might get the chance, after our adventure in Makai." I smiled emphatically, trying to lift the tension I felt in her. "By the way, do you have any idea where we might start looking?"
This time, she slipped her arms around me and bent her head against my chest. I was surprised, but at the moment, she seemed to need affection. I wonder how much is genuine and how much is guile. She was trembling slightly, as if afraid to face what lay ahead of us. But she always seemed so self-assured, as if she could go through any obstacle through canniness and wile. And as a siren, I knew that her voice was a formidable weapon, and could have easily stopped the youkai who had been chasing her when I first met her. But she had chosen to let me dispose of them. A test perhaps? How far must I go for you, Kashiesa?
"His name had been spoken in whispers, even as I was seeking you in Makai," her voice soft, if slightly edged. "I had been focused on finding you, that I paid no need to the rumors. Now…it may be too late to stop him. But I--we--have to try.
"He is known by many names, mostly aliases, and is said to be a thief almost as skillful as the legendary Youko Kurama. Some say that once…Kurama and he had known each other and been…good friends. He is crafty and sly, but loyal to a fault. He was killed by being staked with bamboo poles. But somehow…he had managed to survive. How, I know not yet. But it is important that he now serves Yatsuke, the Demon Mage. And that nothing but hatred rages in his once-proud heart."
I felt a chill pass through me. I only knew one man such as Yuira was describing. And I had left him as we were being chased by angry youkai. Left him because I was certain he would die. And I did want to cling to life longer. Had I been selfish? Or just a grieving fox who wanted to survive? I knew him as sure as I knew myself--for we have worked with each other, been accomplices, been allies, been the best of friends. Cold shock wrenched my heart. A raven's reawakening.
I felt Yuira going limp in my arms, and I was still in shock that I could barely make out her sobs. The Black Raven. I thought I had lost him for sure. I stared at the girl sobbing silently against my chest, anguish in her face. Had she known all along what she was about to ask. That I go against a friend that for whose death I bore much guilt. I had been duped once by a demon from the Netherworld who had assumed his form. Was this yet another trick? And yet, somehow, I realized with shock, it just might not be.
"Gomen ne, Kurama," Yuira said gently, tears still streaming down her face. "I did not want to ask this of you, but you are the only one capable of defeating him."
"Kuronue…" I said the name as if it was some sort of curse on my own youkai soul. "I had left him for dead. How did he survive, Kashiesa?" I found that my eyes were misty, and I was struggling to hold back tears.
"Yatsuke arrived, and fought of the youkai," she began to explain, afraid to meet my gaze. Are you afraid to share in my damnation? In what I had wrought when I was still a youkai thief? "Your friend…he really was mortally wounded, but the Mage has strange powers. He healed the wounds, but not without a price. He had extracted a part of Kuronue's soul and bound the Raven to his cause. And somehow, he made Kuronue steal the Dagger of Night.
"Now, Kuronue is extremely loyal to Yatsuke, and he holds the Dagger. But Yatsuke goaded him into submitting to the Dagger's allure. Now, he is virtually a mindless husk whose soul has been trapped in the darkest depths of Night. But he remembers you, and he hates you. For leaving him, when there may have been hope. He thinks you're a selfish, emotionless bastard. He searches for you in Makai, and lusts after your blood."
"I wanted to save him, Kashiesa," I said in a broken voice almost a whisper. I found myself leaning against her as she had leaned against me. I could feel the hot tears bathe my cheeks, but I did not pay heed. Kuronue. "I thought it was a lost cause, and I left. But I mourned his death for a long time. When I saw the treasures we had amassed, I could not hold them without sorrow. He was a good and faithful friend. I could never betray him." I thought I never could. But I have. I stared into her brown eyes, seeing a trace of sympathy and sorrow. "I couldn't have."
"Oh, Kurama-chan," she breathed, compassion and belief in those captivating eyes. I felt a wave of relief sweep through me. You alleviate my fairs, Kashiesa. I need someone to believe in me. For a while, we just held each other, oblivious of our surroundings. Then I felt her touch on my cheek, and I forced myself to meet her gaze. There was something enticing there, even an invitation. For what, for pity? Then I smiled wryly. No, she was inviting me to share her soul, as she has laid mine bare.
"Are you still willing to return to Makai, Kurama?" her tone was openly imploring. I couldn't blame you if you do not want to return." There was uncertainly in her clear voice. Yet she burned with conviction and resolve.
"If I do not go, you will still return, won't you?"
The quiet admission only strengthened my admiration for this ardent siren youkai. You are braver than I could be in this circumstance, Kashiesa. You will face the danger because you feel you must. You will leave me here wondering, never knowing your faith. And when this human body dies, and Youko Kurama is set free, what will he find in Makai? But I know if you go alone, when Youko Kurama returns to Makai, a siren youkai will no longer be there.
"Feh, as if I could leave you alone," I said, holding her and stroking her fine purple hair. And Kuronue deserves to know the truth. Intense green eyes met sparkling brown ones. And for a moment, we were kindred souls sharing the same destiny.
"Well, I'm glad you still have your senses, youkai thief," she remarked sardonically, but a smile erased the malice in her remark. "And I, for one, am glad that you haven't."
She took my hand in hers. And fate claimed us instruments of her strange, mysterious will.
Okay, that's Part IV. =) Before any Hiei-Kurama fans flame me, this fanfic is a "what-if" based on a discussion I had with a friend about what it would be like if Kurama was somehow attached to a girl. I've resurrected Kuronue, and now the Fox has more reason than ever to search for the dagger. I'm still toying with ideas about Yatsune. (Gotta have an element of suspense somewhere.) This is a non-yaoi fanfic, at least for the moment. For any comments, suggestions, and (heck) even flames, justmail to ryquest!
Yu Yu Hakusho is a copyright of Yoshihiro Togashi / Shue Isha Fuji TV, Studio Pierrot. This fanfic is for non-commercial, entertainment purposes only.