The One


I catch her watching me with inscrutable eyes, eyes as pale and luminous as the sliver of moonlight illuminating the blackness of night. Yet she is always merely watching, unmoving, never speaking. In a sense, she is partly my shadow and my conscience, both my admirer and my tormentor. She directs my life through watching me, never intervening directly in my actions. Yet her presence exudes a sureness and clarity that she knew I would do nothing that would shame me in her eyes.

It worked, all those years. She will not speak, and neither will I. However, during the course of those years I found myself. I discovered my strengths through her unspoken her belief in me. I sought to gain power in aspiring to find exultation and pride in those glorious resplendent eyes directed at myself. In many ways, I was a fool, seeking to win the love of a woman who would not even speak to me, and one I never spoke to in return. Yet, as I recall, in my foolishness there was happiness and even a sense of peace.

I think I would have spoken to her, one day, of the silent love that has burdened me in the depths of my being. Of the unspoken desire that has brought me to the heights of my powers and my strengths. I would have courted her, this marvelous silver youko, who was the daughter of the chief of the clan from whence I originated from. And I knew with a certainly in the depths of my being that I would have proved worthy of her affections and won her over.

All that, though, never happened, for she died. It came with a suddenness that shook me to the very core of my being, a swiftness that bereft me of coherent thought. For she had been the pillar I had built my life around, and with her gone, all that I had been building up for rapidly came tumbling down. All my aspirations had been buried with her, even as I stood before her grave and wept, hot, silent tears streaming openly down a stolid face. I remember kissing a rose and throwing it into her grave, swearing that she was the only one I would love so, for the rest of my life.

I made a vow then. That she is the one I will commit to memory and spirit, forever.

Then I walked away, strengthening my resolve until it formed a wall of ice around my heart. I swore that I would never give my love so blindly and irrevocably to anyone ever again. With the void that her absence left in my life, I rushed into other pursuits into an attempt to fill that vacuum of emptiness. And so emerged the famed Makai thief, Youko Kurama. The cunning, ruthless and deadly warrior I had spent becoming most of my life. I knew there were many who viewed me as uncompassionate and heartless. And perhaps they were right – I was.

Yet who knew that there would have come a day when this firm, solid façade I had been building around myself would slowly crumble and leave me as bare and bereft as the day when she had left my life? That the youko’s seemingly impenetrable armor would rust before the swift, merciless assault of human compassion and trust? The very things I swore I would never fall victim to again holds me in thrall, binds me in gossamer chains that I no longer struggle against, but even consider myself fortunate enough to be bound.

I stand before The One, the woman I had loved and cared for since the inception of my humanity, as she busily fusses over straightening the bow tie of the tuxedo I had chosen to wear for her wedding day. She tugs at my jacket to smooth out the wrinkles, her gentle face creasing into a warm smile. I smile back and hold her hand in mine, feeling the affection and the love she has offered me so unconditionally, a love I had eventually chosen to return.

"Ne, Shuichi, kakkoi da yo," she remarks, herself looking resplendent and positively radiant in her wedding gown. "Only you, I think, would outdo a bride’s beauty during her own wedding day."

"Iie, okaasan," I replied, trying to put up a protest, and it seemed to amuse her as she smiled all the more. "In my eyes, you will always be the most beautiful woman in the world." And one I had committed to memory and spirit, as I had her, long ago. And the memory of Minamino Shiori’s abiding love I will keep with me, always.

"Only a son could possibly say that," she said, "but thank you just the same." Her eyes lit up and her cheeks stained with a slight blush as she turned her sight to the man who was stood fidgeting near the altar.

"Oh, I think Hatanaka-san would agree with my assessment," I laughed, kissing her hand before I placed it on my arm. We both turned as I prepared to escort her to wed her husband-to-be. Then, in a more serious tone, I said, "I wish you all the happiness in the world, okaasan. I know no one else who deserves it more than you do."

"Would that all mothers were gifted with an ideal son such as you," she replied, tiptoeing to kiss me on the cheek. I basked in the warmth of her affection, even as I knew she would never come to know and recognize the youko I truly was. I was far from being ideal, though I had tried my best to please her in every way I could.

"No son would not be ideal with a mother such as you," I shot back. That brought a laugh from both of us. I squeezed her hand as we turned our attention to the aisle we were to walk together. As I prepared to hand her over to the custody of another man, a man she also loved. It pained me in a way – the jealousy of the favored son - though I knew I accept this change if she would be secure and content for the rest of her life.

The wedding march began, and we walked side by side to the rhythm of the music. I focused my gaze straight ahead, directly at the man who would become my stepfather. I met his eyes, my own partly challenging, partly accepting. He met my gaze with a nod and an understanding. I think we will not come into much conflict for we both had the same goal – to pledge our support to ensure the happiness of the woman we both loved.

I handed my mother over to Hatanaka-san, who accepted her hand with reverence and took it into his own. They turned to the priest who would be preceding over their western-style wedding. I took my place beside Kuwabara-kun and Botan. I tried to keep the tears from flowing as they had on her death. But these would be different tears – these would be tears of joy and pride.

I notice Botan peering up at me with a concerned expression. She blushed slightly when I turned my attention to her and smiled. I’ve always viewed her as quite a pretty girl and a friend. But up until that moment, I’d never noticed how truly attractive she is, with her sea-blue hair and slightly purplish eyes. Eyes that seemed to be trying to stare into my soul, just had hers had, before. Only Botan was never afraid to speak up.

"Daijobu ka, Kurama?" she inquired. I nodded, and she sighed in relief. "For a while, I was worried. You seemed so pre-occupied. But then again I’d suppose you’d be, now that your mother is getting married and all. I wonder how it feels to stand there, pledging love and devotion to the man you love…"

As if realizing she’d said too much, she suddenly lowered her eyes and began to fidget with her hands. I suddenly found it so disarming, this innocence and enthusiasm of hers. I took her hand in mine, squeezing it slightly before letting go. She raised her gaze, her eyes warm, embarrassed and inquiring.

"It probably feels fine, Botan-chan, making this vow your commitment," I replied, aware of the emotions that swiftly threatened to engulf me to the core of my being, touching the void that had left me feeling bereft for so long. Shattering the ice that had encased my heart for so long, releasing it from captivity to thaw and grow warm again in the promise of new love. "It probably feels fine."

Perhaps, at another time in the future, she and I will say the same vows. And there will be another who would for me be The One.

Finally out of my writer’s block (somewhat). ^^ This is a fic about Kurama’s past, relationship with Shiori, and of course Botan. Somehow the fics I write about Kurama have one or all those aspects integrated therein. ;) I’d appreciate any comments, feedback and suggestions regarding this fanfic.

Yu Yu Hakusho is a copyright of Yoshihiro Togashi / Shue Isha Fuji TV, Studio Pierrot. This fanfic is for non-commercial, entertainment purposes only.

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