"Rose-whip!" I deflected Kuronue's weapon as it came whirling toward me. It struck the whip and reversed back to its owner. I watched Kuronue's mouth twist into a sneer of concentration. You are far from the youkai I remember you to, old friend. I sincerely wish it never had to come to this. His wings flared out and he twisted in midair to catch me with a kick under the jaw. I grunted and dropped to the ground, and whirled and turned to face him again. I watched his movement, admiring the deadly grace that I knew he still possessed, yet mindful of any attack he would make. The scythe came after me again, and I deflected it. He isn't attacking seriously. He's gauging my strength.
"Your technique is a bit…different, Kurama," he stated, temporarily halting his attack to perch on a nearby tree. Why do my best friends have this fascination for standing on tree branches? "Do you actually think you can beat me with that puny weapon?" He tested the edge of the Dagger idly with his thumb. Its black edge seemed to gleam dully under his touch, throwing tiny black bolts of energy.
"Hn," I nodded, still watching the Dagger. I could clearly sense a low humming emitting from the weapon. A mind-spell? So it really is sentient. "You haven't seen all my tricks yet, Kuronue."
"The great Youko Kurama reduced to tricks," he said with mock-sympathy. "Why didn't you kill off that ningen body long ago, anyway? Don't tell me you're actually fond of it, weaknesses and all?"
"As a matter of fact, I am," I shrugged, smiling at the disbelief in his eyes. "Stealing is fun, but I've found someone to fill a void in my life in Ningenkai. Several people, actually."
"You are despicable, Kurama," Kuronue sneered, clutching the hilt of the dagger more firmly. An odd look of regret passed on his face. "Do you know that I've been waiting for you to come back? I really didn't want to believe that you're content being a ningen fool."
"You should try it, actually," I said softly, aware of the growing tension in his movement. "It has its moments."
"Which will all end today!" he leapt from the tree, bearing down at me with astonishing speed. The scythe flashed in the air, and I prepared to deflect it. It raced for my heart, but as I snapped the Rose-Whip--
The scythe changed direction and buried itself on Kashiesa' shoulder.
"Kashiesa!" I exclaimed in surprise, breaking off from combat to rush to her side. I saw blood flowing freely from the wound, and I saw that it had embedded itself on her collarbone. Cursing silently, I ripped apart my jacket, pulled the weapon free and jammed the cloth in her wound, trying to abate the flow of blood. Being a youkai, she should heal more quickly, but I wasn't taking any chances. She winced as she held the cloth to her wound, then she looked at me imploringly with those pale silver eyes.
"Kurama, whatever you do, don't let him draw blood with the Dagger," she whispered, her breath slightly ragged. "He is trying to lure you to share its power." She smiled briefly. "He still does care for you, deep inside. He wants you two to be together, like before."
I held her hand gently, my eyes misty from holding back tears. Kuronue. It shouldn't have come to this, old friend. And now you hurt her--to hurt me. "Stay here, Kashiesa. Whether we were friends once or not, I have to wrest that Dagger away from him." I stood to face Kuronue, who was grimly smiling a short distance off.
"Matte," she said, gripping my arm. "I want to tell you something before you go." The note of urgency in her voice made me sit down beside her again, and I was struck with how attractive I found her to be, even in siren form. I stroked tendrils of her soft, dark hair even as her eyes captured mine and glimmered brightly. "I love you, Kurama." She gently kissed my cheek and embraced me. She then released her hold and ushered me forward. "Now go."
I could only nod at her confession, even as I felt the impact of the sincerity behind those words. I could also feel a sense of unease, as if there was something about her fate that she refused to share with me. And I had a feeling I was not going to like what lay ahead very much. Then I steeled myself and turned to face Kuronue, green eyes burning with anger. He stood impassively, idly stroking the Dagger once again.
"This is best settled between you and me," I stated flatly. I took off the remains of my jacket and threw it on the forest floor.
"Angry because I hurt your companion?" he said, eyeing Kashiesa with contempt. "She isn't exactly being truthful to you, you know. She wants the Dagger, and I can feel her affinity with it. Do you want to die by my hand or hers?"
In response, I charged forward, using speed to keep him off-balance. He held the Dagger now in such a way that he could stab me if I got too close. I lunged at him, and saw the look of triumph flash across his face. I avoided his lunge and jumped behind him, lashing him with the Rose-Whip several times, hitting the base of his wings. He staggered with pain and fell, clutching at numerous cuts all over his arms. I also saw a huge welt in between his wings. He turned to face me, his wounds igniting his fury. He came at me again, but I knew his wounds would hamper his movements. I moved about deftly, lashing at him when I could detect an opening in his defense. I couldn't take him lightly, and I knew once false move could turn the tide of the battle.
Then, he intensified the flurry of his attacks, the Dagger blurring in his hands. I was hard-pressed to keep the distance between us, Kashiesa's warning clearly in my mind. I will not be that Dagger's pawn, Kuronue. And I'll find a way to release you of its hold, short of having to kill you. Without warning, he threw the Dagger in my direction. I sidestepped as the Dagger almost nicked my shoulder. The Dagger hit the ground, almost in front of Kashiesa. I turned to see the look of despair in her eyes, as her clear voice lifted in song. She picked up the Dagger of Night--
--and plunged it into her heart.
I stood transfixed, and even Kuronue was gazing in shock. I saw the Dagger flare into darkness, and for a moment, Kashiesa and the artifact where shrouded in its dark light. Then, the darkness receeded, and I could see her face, haggard and drawn, yet she was smiling peacefully. The silver eyes met mine and I could sense the regret coupled with joy on her face. Then, her eyes closed and her head hung to one side. And I knew that she had died.
"Kashiesa! NOOO!" I rushed forward, half-blinded by tears. I fell to my knees and cradled her limp form in my eyes. "You had meant to die, haven't you?" my voice was barely a whisper as my eyes fell to the Dagger. "But why? What purpose does it serve if you die? And I never told you…how much I cared…"
"She's gone, Kurama," Kuronue's voice said from behind me. This time, he sounded tired and detached, no longer angry. "Look at the stone at the pommel."
I did, as I pulled the Dagger free from her breast, resting her hands peacefully on her chest and arranging in body in a more fitting position. I had noted before we fought that the stone was ruby-red, but now, the stone was almost incandescent white. What was more, the black steel of the dagger was no more and had become silver steel like the other half of the blade. I peered at the stone, noting that the droning sound that had been emanating from the Dagger was gone. It had been replaced by a musical whisper akin to the sighing of the wind amidst the leaves of the forest. The melody was gentle, soothing, and somehow sang of mixed hope and grief.
"She knew this would happen," I said, still staring at the Dagger tiredly. "You know why, don't you, Kuronue?" I could see him nod reluctantly. I gripped the Dagger tightly, the image of Kashiesa's death haunting my thoughts. Then I threw the Dagger to him in disgust. He caught it easily with one hand. "Go ahead, kill me, if my death's really what you're after."
"This Dagger's almost just a plain blade now," he said, throwing the Dagger back at me. It landed beside me with a thud, but I made no move to pick it up. "She trapped the darkness within herself and willingly accepted the curse. I've never seen a greater act…to give up such power for eternal loss." He walked toward me and slumped beside me on the ground. I didn't reply, and silence hung in the air for a while.
"What curse?" I finally said, eyeing my companion wearily. Kashiesa…why? Would you leave me alone to find the answers?
"I can guess why she never told you," Kuronue remarked, his mood turned somber. "The Dagger's gift of power comes with a curse. Once subjected to its temptations…you either become more powerful by letting it possess you, or you let it go knowing you've given up enormous power…" He shook his head in disbelief. "But it's been said that if one is willing to offer one's soul to be entrapped within the Dagger forever--if that person has no desire for great power--then the Dagger's dark powers will be neutralized. It becomes an artifact of value, but a mere shade of its former power." He turned his eyes to Kashiesa's limp form. "She had great courage, to have offered herself like that."
I nodded, finally comprehending Kashiesa's veiled references to the Dagger and her impending death. She had tasted the power before, but had somehow given it up. That part still wasn't clear to me. She had warned me not to get too close…to avoid being tempted? You didn't want me to have the power, but was that because you cared, Kashiesa? I glanced at Kuronue's passive form, aware of the apprehension and tiredness in his eyes. The fury had gone from its depths, leaving behind only what seemed to me only a hollow shell.
"You didn't really want me dead, right?" I sighed, knowing that somehow, fate has kept me and my old friend separated once again. "You wanted me to come over to your side. By giving in to the Dagger's lure."
Kuronue glanced at me with veiled eyes, a frown on his face. Then, he shrugged and got up, then started to walk away. "You're right, of course," he said as he turned to regard me with solemnly. "Was it a crime wanting you to share the same fate? To serve Yatsuke-sama with me? Much as I hated you for having left, I have always wished for your return. We were partners, you and I."
"We were," I said in agreement, rising and approaching him with firm steps. Though he was taller than I in this form was, I had no difficulty meeting his stare. "We yet could be." I held out my hand. "Come with me, and help me fight this Youkai Mage. He is the source of all this trouble."
He smiled, then shook my hand. Then, he let go of my grasp and shook his head sadly. "Without the Dagger, this body I have will fall apart. I have suffered wounds too great." He sighed, then regarded me with grudging pride. "But it was worth it, to have seen you again, Kurama." His wings flared, and he prepared to leave. "Who knows? Maybe we'll meet again. I'll certainly search for you wherever I end up, kitsune."
"And I'll do my best to make your search interesting," I smiled back. Kuronue's wings then flared behind him as he prepared to leave. "Matte! Where will you go?"
"Our old lair, where else?" his eyes were sparkling with suppressed mirth. "If I were to finally die, I'd choose to pass away where I can see what I've been working for…for most of my--our--youkai life. Dewa, sayonara, Kurama!" With a silent smile that was partly a salute, he flew into the night sky. And I knew he would be returning.
"Sayonara, Kuronue!" I called after him. My eyes then fell on Kashiesa's limp form once again. Grief once again overcame me, and I knelt my her side, gently grasping her hands. I stroked her face, already gone cold against my hand. I let the tears fall silently, thinking that not once did I tell her I have come to love her for who she was--beautiful, determined, deeply committed to her goals, perhaps the most resolute person I have come to know.
"You hunted me down, siren," I whispered, my eyes tracing the soft lines of her pale face. "Just when you've tracked me down, the huntress chooses to flee."
I picked up the Dagger of Night, now perhaps just another edged weapon, and laid it across her chest. "You gave your soul to negate its power. Would that I can do the same, to be with you…"
I could remember holding her hand, slumping on the ground, then I let exhaustion and fatigue take me, and I fell into sleep under the eaves of the trees where I witnessed much, and beside a siren who had not only seen but had ultimately given up everything for what she believed in.
"Kurama," a soft, familiar voice broke into my thoughts, and I woke to find everything misty around me. The cold lanced through me, and where I could see, my eyes only penetrated endlessly shifting mists into darkness. The voice had been familiar. Too familiar.
"Kashiesa?" I called out. But she was dead. How could I be hearing her voice? I felt a chill wind blow behind me, and a wispy hand grasped my shoulder. I turned and found myself staring into her gleaming golden eyes fringed by unruly purple hair.
"Yuira?" I smiled. I was looking at her ningen form, at that shy smile that had drawn me to her initially. Yuira and Kashiesa were one and the same, I knew, just as Shuichi Minamino was also Youko Kurama. Then, I embraced her, and I heard her giggle in reply. "It's good to see you. Demo…where is this place?"
"You're inside the Dagger, so to speak," she said, smiling. "Or part of your soul is, anyway. Don't worry, you're not being trapped our anything. I just thought…maybe you'd like to visit my new home." A wistful sadness touched her voice.
"Then it's true…" I said, staring sadly at her form and tried to commit all her features to memory. "You're gone."
"My body is, once again," she shrugged. "But I still live, Kurama. Is that not enough?"
"But won't you be confined in this place…?" I stammered, and I didn't wish to continue. Instead, I embraced her again, cradling her head against my chest, gently stroking her hair.
"Forever?" her voice sounded amused, though she leaned against me and closed her eyes. "Not until my soul is set free. You see, the enchantment placed on the Dagger was not permanent. When the spell breaks, I'll be set free. Until then, I think I'll sleep. It'll help me pass the time, if anything."
"Then you'll be in Makai again…someday?" I asked, hope surging up within me.
"Or Ningenkai, wherever you might happen to be," she smiled impishly, then poked me lightly on the ribs. "I'll chase you, kitsune. You can't hide that well from me."
"In that case," I remarked idly, bending my head down for a kiss, "for once, I can't wait to be caught. I do love you."
"But then I already have caught you," she protested, and her lips found mine. I stared deeply into her eyes, and she into mine. My fingers laced with hers, but we didn't stop there. And our destinies, and souls, where inevitably linked again, deep into the swirling mists of night.
Whew, this is actually Part VI! A couple of chapters more to go. =) 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. This is a non-yaoi fanfic, at least for the moment. For any comments, suggestions, and (heck) even flames, justmail to ryquest! I'd appreciate any feedback I can get about the fanfics. Ja ne!
Yu Yu Hakusho is a copyright of Yoshihiro Togashi / Shue Isha Fuji TV, Studio Pierrot. This fanfic is for non-commercial, entertainment purposes only.