Plight of Mayhem
"Matte, Kurama!" The red-haired student turned at the sound of the familiar voice. He smiled when he recognized Botan.
"Konnichiwa, Botan!" Kurama said in greeting, smiling. The blue-haired spirit guide smiled back and handed him an envelope. Curious, Kurama opened it and was surprised to find an invitation. "Hmm…Rei Kai Ball in honor of Koenma's birthday? Who else is invited?"
"Yusuke, Kuwabara and Hiei," Botan remarked, "along with Yukina, Keiko, Shizuru…hmm…and lots of other spirit-guests."
"I could imagine," Kurama held back a grin. So even Koenma-sama celebrates his birthday. And here I thought it was strictly a ningen thing. Oh well. "I'll be coming, of course. Thanks for the invitation."
"Nani?" Koenma exclaimed, grabbing George by the collar. The servant looked ridiculous in a pink tux. "The Sacred Bow is missing?"
"Hai!" George said weakly, cowering before Koenma. "I-I passed the room where the relic's been stored--but it wasn't there, along with the quiver of arrows!"
Koenma glared at George then released him. Koenma's brow was furrowed in thought, his eyes shut in concentration. And on my birthday, yet. Then, the young prince of Rei Kai leaned back on his chair and sighed. The Ball was barely an hour away, and what harm could the Bow really do?
Still, Yusuke and the others will be among the guests, and there was no telling where that would lead to…
"Don't you dare tell anyone that the relic is missing!" he glanced sternly at George. His servant just nodded in reply. "Now that's settled, let's get you into something more suitable to wear. Somehow, pink just isn't you…hmm…have you ever tried purple?"
"Feh, what idiocy," the short, black-cloaked figure muttered, his slender form leaning against a wall at the far end of the corridor. His hooded eyes took on the spirits flitting around, some dancing, while others were talking idly or sampling the expansive buffet. Hiei snorted. He'd never been much for socializing, and he was still wondering whatever made him attend the Rei Kai Ball. His gaze fell on a slim girl chatting with a brawny, brash ningen not far from where he stood watching. A slight twinkle appeared in his eyes. Yukina.
"You are planning on telling her eventually, aren't you?" a voice remarked from beside him, and he glared at the tall green-eyed ningen beside him. No, not really a ningen, but a cunning, crafty youkai thief. Hiei took in that merry gaze which held suppressed amusement. Can't leave me to my own business, can you, kitsune?
"None of your business," Hiei said softly, then looked away. His gaze fell once more on Yukina, and his cold, hard eyes softened imperceptibly. Not that Hiei planned on telling her about their kinship. No, sister, better you hang around with a brazen oaf than your murderer of a brother.
"So you say," Kurama said congenially, moving to stand beside Hiei. He was dressed in a black coat and slacks, with a blue shirt with a Chinese-style collar underneath. As usual, Hiei noted, the artful fox did look good in ningen clothes. And the fire demon suspected that Kurama liked being admired, though he'd never admit it.
"Kuwabara-kun looks so silly when he talks to Yukina," Kurama remarked, studying the tall ningen, who was tongue-tied as always when talking to Yukina. Yukina didn't seem to mind, and held Kuwabara's hand gently, which caused Kuwabara to redden even more. "Maybe they're really in-love, wouldn't you say?"
"Stupid fox," Hiei muttered darkly, his hand straying to the katana by his side. I could dice the fool to pieces, I suppose, but Yukina does seem to be fond of him. A little. "Still, he does seem to care for her, and I like seeing her happy. If she remains content for the rest of her life, then that would suit me just fine."
"You really aren't as bad as you make yourself to be, you know," Kurama said, smiling at his surly companion. Then, he shrugged and patted Hiei on the shoulder, causing the fire demon to glare even more. "Hn, you know that won't work on me. Ja mata!" Kurama grinned and wandered off, then joined the spirit guests and chatted idly with a few.
Hiei watched as the charismatic Kurama socialized with the guests. He also noted with interest how Kurama's hand would twitch undiscernibly whenever he'd see a valuable piece of jewelry on some of the guests. Hn, you're still a thief, fox, no matter how much your ningen life may have influenced you. Old habits die hard, and sometimes they just don't.
Suddenly, the fire demon stiffened, his dark eyes detecting a flicker of movement from just beyond the corridor. Silently, he stalked out, his senses alert. Ripping the bandana from his head, he used his jagan to scan the surroundings. All was quiet in the dimly lit corridor, and Hiei sensed an arrow being nocked. There, just beyond the bend, near the slit on the wall. He walked with grace born of endless hours of stealth, his hand on his blade, on his mouth a grim smile. Maybe there's some excitement to this whole event after all, though…Yukina was here, and I don't want her to be in any form of danger. But then, if there's danger here, how come Koenma hadn't mentioned it at all?
As he rounded the bend, he spotted a squat figure somewhat shorter than his own dressed in one of those white robes Kurama liked to wear as a youko. On his side lay a small quiver of arrows, nearly half-empty, and the figure sat facing the slit on the wall with the bowstring drawn, an arrow ready to fly. Hiei frowned as he studied the arrow. There wasn't metal mounted on the tip, but instead a soft, pink, glowing substance. And the bow drew Hiei's attention as well. Too small, not made for combat at all, but perfect for the arrows…
Hiei's jagan flared open, and he leapt for the figure crouched near the wall, knocking the bow from his hand. Hiei whipped the katana from its sheath, aiming a slash at the throat of the intruder. One quick thrust is all it takes. But Hiei stopped the blade just millimeters from the child's throat, and he now saw that stranger was just a kid with curly blond hair and deep blue eyes. He was also sniffling and shaking with fright.
"Who are you, and what are you doing here?" Hiei said in an ominous whisper. He eyed the kid with suspicion.
"I didn't mean any harm, I swear!" the kid stated, his eyes firmly fixed on the glinting steel. "I-I just wanted to see if otou-san's bow and arrows are still effective, that's all! Enma took them a long time ago, and never gave them back."
"They're not used for killing, are they?" Hiei remarked, drawing an arrow from the quiver and studying the tip.
"Kill? No, of course not!" the kid exclaimed, scrambling away from the katana. "That's terribly barbarous. No, those arrows induce amorous affections--"
Suddenly, Hiei reached out and grabbed the kid, his flickering no warmer than his blade. The kid shrank back from his gaze, but Hiei relentlessly held the soft blue eyes. The kid was sweating profusely, frightened at the attack by this seemingly savage little youko.
"What did you say?!" Hiei growled. He suspected he already knew what the arrows were, but he wanted confirmation from the brat.
"They're love arrows!" the boy stated enthusiastically, his eyes gleaming. "I used them on some targets--just so they'd fall in-love! That was my father's job before…he'd be so proud if he'd seen me--"
"Never mind that," Hiei released the boy and stared ahead, his eyes on the ballroom hall's entrance. "Who was your father?" There was a sinking feeling on the fire demon's chest.
Cursing under his breath, Hiei left the boy sprawled on the ground and raced for the door. Not that anybody had likely been killed, but there was no saying what effect that arrows might have had on his companions, if they'd been hit. I'd dismember the brat if Yukina's been hurt in any way, Hiei thought darkly. He rounded the corner and headed for the entrance. He ran in, expecting some sort of mayhem. But even he wasn't prepared for what he'd found.
Now where did my elusive friend go this time?Kurama's eyes scanned the crowd for the fluttering of black robes, but didn't detect any. He saw Keiko dragging Yusuke to the dance floor, who was protesting all the while that he knew nothing about dancing. Keiko glared at him, and Yusuke sweatdropped, but allowed himself to be sulkily dragged to the center of the dance floor. Hmm…he's not doing too badly…but then again, I don't think Keiko-san minds. He saw Kuwabara still chatting with Yukina near a corner, though chatting was hardly a word he'd use. They're just staring into each other's eyes. Kurama chuckled softly, then sighed. Been a while since I've felt that way. I wonder if I ever will again?
He spied Botan dancing with Koenma, who was in his teenage boy form. Still with the pacifier. Kurama gave them a wave, and received a smile from Botan in return. He continued wandering around, observing the guests, and especially the jewelry. But he didn't want to make a spectacle of himself, and Koenma would certainly be displeased if his guests "misplaced" a few valuable trinkets during the ball. So Kurama repressed his instincts and headed for the buffet table instead. At least the food did look a little tasty, and maybe he could find someone to engage in conversation or even dance with.
Suddenly, he whirled, a rose in his hand. He saw Kuwabara lurch a little as an arrow hit him squarely in the chest, yet Yukina didn't seem to notice. As Kurama watched, the arrow faded from sight, and Kuwabara was more or less intact and very much alive. Now what was that all about? Everything seemed normal, except that Kuwabara let go of Yukina's grasp and ran toward Botan. He then pushed a startled Koenma aside, and began to whirl Botan around the dance floor. Botan had been too surprised to react, while Koenma stood near the two, still looking dazed and more than a little upset. He saw Yusuke flirting with Shizuru near the wall, and the brown-haired girl didn't seem entirely displeased. Kurama expected to see Keiko stalking both any moment now, but he found her gazing adoringly at Koenma. His eyes then fell back on Yukina, just when an arrow pierced his chest.
Kurama's gaze blurred, and he staggered slightly. He shook his head in an attempt to clear his vision, and when it did, he found Yukina's concerned face gazing up at him. He stared at her petite form, her eyes clear and pretty, almost a mirror of her brother's without the darkness of a thousand deaths. He found himself willingly sinking into those depths, wondering languidly while he had never seen it all before. Of course, she'd always been with Kuwabara, but then again…Kurama stared at her calm, open face and smiled.
"Kurama-san, daijobu?" Yukina said concernedly. She recalled that Kuwabara had acted the same way, but before she could inquire about his health, he was whirling around with Botan. Then he'd seen Kurama flinch, and had hurried to his side.
"H-hai," Kurama replied, offering the rose to Yukina instead. "More than okay. Uh…ano…this rose is for you."
Yukina blinked but accepted the rose anyway. It was pretty, with shades of pink hidden within the folds of the red petals. But then, Kurama did have an expert touch around plants, even when he wasn't trying to use them for fighting. She'd always liked the companionable, sympathetic young man with sparkling green eyes. He'd always been friendly, and he was Hiei's closest friend. Yukina had somehow felt a strange closeness to the aloft fire demon, though she did not know why she liked and trusted him so. He was strange, but he'd always been gentle when with her and had acted as a true friend.
"A-arigato, Kurama-san," Yukina said, smiling. She'd expected that the rose was some token of friendship, but found her hand grasped and enfolded by Kurama's own. And it was disconcerting how he was staring at him with those beautiful green eyes. The look reminded her of something. Then she stared in surprise and panic. It was the same look that Kazuma Kuwabara often gave her.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Yukina remarked, slight panic building up within her. She liked Kurama, but just as a friend. She frantically searched the crowd for Kuwabara, but found him babbling before Botan. She gazed up at Kurama hopelessly. He certainly was handsome, even beautiful in a way, but her heart belonged to another. And it tore her to see him interested in someone else.
Kurama followed her gaze and spied Kuwabara still talking to Botan. The messenger looked confused and was trying to avoid Kuwabara's advances, but to no avail. Kurama smirked, then returned his gaze to Yukina. She reminded him of her brother, and wondered what Hiei would be like if he had not suffered and grew hard and unyielding as a consequence. They'd probably have the same gentleness, though I think that there is gentleness in Hiei underneath it all. She looked hurt, torn and confused to him, and he smiled at her encouragingly. How could I have missed her beauty? But no matter…there is time for us to get to know each other better.
"You are lovely, Yukina-san," Kurama said softly, and he could feel the impact of his words on her. She'd blushed more deeply, and her eyes were brimming with unshed tears. "There's no need to cry. You know I would never--could never--hurt you." And he leaned forward as if to kiss her.
"I-iie! Matte!" Yukina broke free from his grasp and fled toward the door. Her thoughts were spinning, and she sought to escape the Kurama's gaze. He was certainly good-looking, but her heart belonged to another, and she hurt inside knowing that Kuwabara was ignoring her for Botan. I thought you were sincere, Kazuma-san, that you truly did care for me… Then tears began to fall from her eyes, forming sparkling pearls as they emerged. They hit the floor with a resounding clink, but Yukina did not seem to notice. She just had to get away.
Hiei first saw Kuwabara spinning around the dance floor with Botan, grinning foolishly. He scanned the crowd for Yukina, and saw the baffled and hurt expression that marked her face. Immediately, the fire demon's face darkened. How dare that idiot leave her! I'll kill him this time, I swear I will. He was about to stalk toward Kuwabara, when he saw that Kurama was with Yukina, and was in fact holding her hand, gawking at her adoringly. He could not believe he would ever see that expression on his friend's face, but it was there. And he's toying with my sister, damn him! He changed direction, ready to confront Kurama. Whatever you're up to, fox, you won't involve my sister in your little affairs!
Just then, Yukina bolted from Kurama and ran toward him. Hiei felt surprised, but saw that she was staring at nothing, and that pearls were falling to the floor, unheeded. Nani?! She was crying, and it was the idiot fox's fault! Grimly, he turned to face the youko, who seemed oblivious to the fact that Hiei was glaring at him with murder in his eyes. Kurama started to run after Yukina, expecting to catch up with her, and tell her that he was in-love with her--
And Kurama found himself blocked by cold steel and the burning wrath of a fire demon.
"Kitsune no baka!" Hiei exclaimed, his voice edged. "What the hell do you think you're doing, Kurama?"
"Demo…I…" Kurama said as he saw Yukina exit the door, and he started to chase after her. But his path was firmly being blocked by Hiei.
"Stop it, Kurama," Hiei hissed, his blade inches from Kurama's chest. "You've upset her enough. Leave her alone. She's no concern of yours."
"No concern of mine?!" Kurama flared, glaring at Hiei. "Just when I find out that I'm in-love with her?! Let me go to her, Hiei! She needs me!"
"She does not," Hiei growled, dropping his cloak and facing Kurama in a fighting stance. "I'll explain later, but don't you dare fool around with my sister!"
"I'm not fooling around," Kurama snapped, drawing a rose seemingly out of nowhere. He made a swift gesture, and he was suddenly grasping a rose-whip. "Now step aside!"
"I won't have my sister involved in one of your petty love affairs, fox," Hiei stated firmly. "If you want to fight me, I won't hesitate to unleash the Black Dragon unless you cease with this foolishness."
Koenma had been watching the whole affair, frowning. He'd seen Yukina and Kurama, and now Hiei and Kurama were poised to fight each other. Something strange was certainly going on, with Kuwabara suddenly wanting to be with Botan, Keiko giving him tender glances, and Yusuke and Shizuru oblivious to what was going on. With a curse, he rushed forward and position himself between Hiei and Kurama, eyeing both sternly. So the arrows were loosed. And damned if it didn't create a mess.
"Stop it, both of you!" Koenma boomed. Hiei and Kurama backed away, but the tension hadn't dissipated much. He then turned to Hiei, who was glaring at him with suspicion. So the fire demon knows. And now I have to fix this whole thing. "You're being affected by the effects of the love arrows! That's why my father took them away from Cupid, so he can stop playing with ningen feelings."
"Eh? Love arrows?" Kurama frowned. "You mean, someone took them and fired at the guests?"
"W-well, not all," Koenma said slowly, "since they only affect ningen. And…since you're part ningen, at least for now, Kurama, they also affected you."
"So ka," Kurama muttered. Then, he fixed his gaze firmly on Koenma. "And just how were the arrows fired at us all of a sudden?"
"My guess is that the bow and arrows were stolen," Hiei stated, sheathing his katana, "and the little twerp I confronted earlier was Cupid's son." Then, he too glared at Koenma. "What I'd like to know is--how come you never told us about it?"
"D-demo…" Koenma sweatdropped as he stood between two annoyed warriors. Not a good situation. Damn, I knew it--I'll get George for this. "Okay, okay, I didn't want to worry my guests, and I thought I'd get the bow and arrows back anyway. I didn't expect Cupid-do to act at once."
"Hn," Hiei snorted. "I'd say you'd better get them back immediately before you have a bigger mess in your hands."
"Speaking of which," Kurama stated, "just how do we get everyone affected--including myself--out of this spell?"
"I have the antidote in my quarters," Koenma stated. "It's a simple potion that you'll have to drink. Now, excuse me, I'll go get it at once." He stared again at Kuwabara attempting to kiss Botan in one corner, and he stalked out of the room, quickening his pace. Definitely not good.
As Koenma left, Kurama glanced at Hiei and sighed. We'd almost fought just because someone played with a few arrows. He squared his shoulders and started to head for the door. Hiei fell in step beside him, but did not speak.
"Gomen ne, Hiei," Kurama said, eyeing the fire demon. "I didn't want to fight you. Just that, well…" He shrugged. "Things got a little uncontrollable."
"To fall for a trick like that," Hiei remarked sardonically, "means you aren't sharp enough. You need to train more, Kurama." The edge in his voice was warmed by a slight smile.
"As soon as I can come up with some plausible excuses for mother," Kurama shrugged, then smiled as well. "Come on, let's find Yukina!"
Hiei stopped walking and glared at Kurama. Kurama chuckled and held out his hand.
"I'd like to apologize to her, Hiei, nothing more," Kurama said firmly. Then, his face took on a grim expression. "Then let's find that bow and those arrows."
"You're finally making sense, fox," Hiei remarked, nodding. "More than usual."
They found Yukina near one of the windows, staring wistfully into the night. She'd almost fled when Kurama approached, but relaxed when she saw he was with Hiei. Kurama had apologized and explained the entire situation, and she'd accepted his apology with a smile. She really wasn't mad at the youko, and it wasn't entirely his fault. Also, she was glad to find out that Kuwabara just fell prey to a misguided arrow, and would be back to his normal self in a little while. Somehow, she found out that she missed having him around.
"He'll be good as before, Yukina," Kurama had promised. Hiei had snorted.
"He's never been good, Kurama," Hiei said contemptuously. "Just say that he'll be back to being brash instead of insane."
Yukina had smiled and fell in-step with Hiei. The fire demon seemed uncomfortable for some reason, but had relaxed when she smiled at him. He almost smiled back, but then, his cold, hard face seemed so unused to smiling. But the tenderness in his eyes had been touching. There was something about him that bothered her, as if they had ties beyond being friends. But she liked him despite his flinty demeanor, and she somehow did regard him as a big brother of sorts. I wonder if he'd mind if I told him so? She shook her head sadly. No, he might be upset, and I don't want to destroy our friendship.
Hiei and Kurama then apprehended the little thief, who was still sitting sullenly in one of the corridors with the bow and arrows. He'd shrunk back from Hiei, but Kurama smiled at him and Cupid-do willingly gave the youko the bow and arrows and allowed Kurama to lead him back to the ball. Cupid-do had told Kurama how he'd stolen the relics, and Kurama had shook his head and given the boy a lecture on a few of the finer points of stealth. So the fox gains a new fan. I wonder if he'd make the brat an apprentice thief.
Koenma gave all the affected parties the potion, and plenty of apologies were exchanged. Kuwabara, in particular, had been comical to watch. He had knelt in front of Yukina, begging for her forgiveness for his actions. Yukina had smiled and said that it wasn't it fault, and Kuwabara had broken into a wide grin and began jumping around. Hiei had been watching, and had nearly choked at the display. Why does Yukina put up with this dolt? Hn, maybe she'd been better off with Kurama chasing after her. Still, the fox could be flighty, and at least Kuwabara was dependable enough. Barely.
Hiei turned to leave when a hand fell on his shoulder, and he glanced back to see Kurama smiling at him idly. He shrugged his shoulders, and the hand fell, but Kurama continued to stand beside him. The two left the ball in silence, only their footsteps resounding hollowly on the marble floor. Hiei glanced at Kurama to see him staring ahead with a bemused expression in his face. Hiei felt a tug of curiosity at his companion's pensiveness, but he'd be damned if he'd voice it out.
"Been a while since I felt that way," Kurama said suddenly, glancing at Hiei. "I wonder if it'd be worth it to sneak in one time and steal the bow and arrows."
"What for, fox?" Hiei muttered, still thinking of the mess the ball had been turned into.
"Just that they might be useful," Kurama stated idly, "if I found a suitable target."
"As if you need those to ensnare a heart," Hiei snorted. The youko thief was attractive even as a ningen, with his long red locks and expressive green eyes. He also had a calm, gentle manner that seemed to draw others to him, though few know of the cold, ruthless thief underneath. Hiei knew about the scores of girls from Kurama's school who chased him around, and probably many more admirers lurking around. From both genders.
"Maybe you're right," Kurama conceded, the corners of his mouth twitching into a grin. "Forcing love had never been my way."
"And what is your way, Kurama?" Hiei asked casually, avoiding Kurama's amused gaze.
"Building trust, Hiei," Kurama said, smiling in bemusement. "And I'm patient enough to wait for the right time…for the best opportunity."
"Then you just don't steal hearts as you go, fox?" The fire demon shifted his eyes to the moonlight streaming into the window, giving the hall a soft, marked glow.
"I do that too," Kurama acknowledged, following Hiei's eyes. He smiled as he saw the soft light outlining the hall in a sort of ethereal luminescence. Nice night for the romantically-inclined. So what am I doing with a surly fire demon? "But even a thief knows not everything stolen is valuable. Sometimes…you can't steal love, but just give it, and hope its receiver gives some back to you."
"Ningen fantasies," Hiei muttered. Still, what you said makes sense, kitsune. Not that I'll ever tell you that I agree with you on that. But…that's what I've been doing with Yukina. Yet, it hurt him knowing that he must keep his distance from her, lest he risk exposing the secret he'd long kept hidden in his heart.
"Whatever," Kurama stated pensively. But I hope you do feel how valuable you are to me, Hiei…My best friend…we are both creatures of darkness, you and I. No matter how much light will ever be shed on our souls. And I, for one, am glad to have found one such as you…who understands this darkness, and has made it your own. Just as I have.
They didn't know that they were being watched from the shadows by a figure clothe in white, his blue eyes staring at them, unblinking. The watcher smiled. You need no arrows to bind you, because your friendship binds you closer than any of my bolt ever could. He watched their banter for a while, noting the wary closeness, the mutual concern left unsaid.
Cupid-do grinned, glancing at them once last time, then turned to return to the ball.
Okay, just an attempt at a more "angst-less" YYH story. ;) Hey, I know it's an overused story line, but I needed something to experiment with. And well, this concept works just as well as any I can think of for the moment. How you'll interpret any and all relationships is up to you, of course. =) For any comments, suggestions, and (heck) even flames, justmail to ryquest! I'd appreciate any and all feedback. Ja, arigato!
Yu Yu Hakusho is a copyright of Yoshihiro Togashi / Shue Isha Fuji TV, Studio Pierrot. This fanfic is for non-commercial, entertainment purposes only.