It's strange. The difference a single day can make. Yesterday,
were all alive and as peaceful as a group of detectives for the
spirit world can be. Yesterday, Yukina was smiling as happy as
Today... Well, today is different.
Today we are a member short and the ground is littered by my twin's
So strange. I never thought the death of a teammate would affect
so strongly. With the exception of Kurama, I've never been all that
close to them. I respect them, and to an extent, trust them to watch
my back in a fight.
But now I'm... sad. His death has made me sad and not just because
it caused my sister pain.
That damned id-.. No, I can not bring myself to insult him anymore,
not even in my head. Because I saw the truth in those last seconds.
I saw the real Kuwabara Kazuma that was hidden behind the annoying
It happened so fast. So damned fast.
"I doubt we'll find him down here, Yusuke. Perhaps it would be best
if we left this mine and just waited up top for him to surface.
There is only one way out after all, right Hiei?"
"Hn.." My fox, always the voice of reason. He was right though.
There was only one way out of this damn mine and the demon would have
to surface sooner or later. It wasn't the kind that would be overly
fond of remaining underground for very long.
The faint rumbling under our feet made it an easy decision. As soon
as we came to a fork in the passage, we turned around, this time with
Kuwabara in the lead followed by Urameshi, Kurama and myself at the
The earth rumbled around us a few more times as we wound our way
through the dark caverns. Kurama had an arm over his face trying to
block the dirt that fell on us occasionally.
"How much further do you think it is, Kuwabara?" Urameshi asked.
The taller boy shrugged. "Not too far now."
"Hn.. The idiot has probably gotten us lost," I muttered just loud
enough for the others to hear.
"That's not nice, Hiei." I just shrugged at Kurama's admonishment,
but smirked to myself at the indignant sputtering coming from the
front of the line. Insulting the carrot-topped ningen was a
satisfying way to pass the time and I wasn't going to apologize for
it. Besides, for all I knew, he had gotten us lost.
It seemed an eternity passed before we finally saw light in the
distance. Another 50 yards and we would be out. Out of the mine and
safe from the threat of a cave in.
So close. So close and yet so damn far.
One minute we were all breathing a sigh of relief to be nearly out of
the mine and the next the shoring that held the tons of earth above
our heads came crashing down. Somehow, we all managed to avoid being
crushed but when the dust had settled, it became quiet clear that we
Kurama groaned and rolled from where he'd fallen atop me. Kuwabara
had sat up and was shaking his head, dazed. Yusuke was gritting his
teeth and cursing softly. A sharp stone had embedded itself in his
leg and his arm was bent at an odd angle.
"How bad is it, Yusuke?" Kurama asked scooting over to look at our
leader's injured leg.
"Hurts like hell, but I don't think it's broken." He winced when
Kurama's hands moved to his arm. "Then again, maybe it is."
The ground rumbled ominously again. When at last it stilled once
more, I'm fairly certain the foremost thing in all our minds was the
sure knowledge that we didn't have a lot of time. We needed to get
past the fallen timbers now.
Closer inspection proved that I would be the only one able to squeeze
into the small opening left. I wasn't happy about it, but I did what
had to be done. Wriggling around a little, hoping that I wouldn't
inadvertently cause the rest of the structure to collapse and crush
me, I managed to get my back under the main support beam. If I could
just get it up enough, the others might be able to get through. It
was important that they escape; Yusuke whom I respected and Kurama
whom I.... cared for.
I did get it up a little. Not enough though.
Not nearly enough. Yusuke couldn't really move under his own steam,
and he and Kurama couldn't both fit through at once. I think Kurama
had just about decided to go through and drag Yusuke behind when
Kuwabara took matters into his own hands.
I have to admit that at first I thought he was just trying to save
his own hide. He shoved the other two out of his way a little more
roughly than was probably necessary and squeezed his own much larger
body into the opening I had enlarged.
Before I could gripe at him though, he stopped and began to heave
upwards. Grudgingly, I had to acknowledge that he was a great deal
more successful than I had been. The weight of the timber was soon
off my own back and resting fully on his.
The earth shook again and more dirt and rocks began falling around
us. But that wasn't what spurred Kurama to sling Yusuke over his
shoulder, completely ignoring the injured boys yelps of pain, and
hurry past Kuwabara. It was the scent that lay so heavily in the air
around us. I don't know how we'd missed it before, but now the smell
of gas(1) was thick enough that even Kuwabara had covered his nose to
block it out.
Gas like that in a collapsing mine is definitely bad. It would be
simple thing for the falling rocks to ignite a spark. You don't
have to be a fire demon to know sparks and gas don't mix.
As I moved to pass through the opening myself, Kuwabara's massive
hand fell on my shoulder, stopping me. In that one instant, I saw
the man who existed under the rough exterior of the boy. His face
was deadly serious and bore the look of someone who'd seen the future
and his own fate.
"You tell her the truth, Hiei. You tell her you're her brother or
I'll come back and haunt you forever."
Then he shoved me forward with all his strength just as the mine
seemed to give a loud belch and fire spurted up and out.
Covering my face was instinctive, even if I have a better chance of
surviving such a thing, that didn't mean it wouldn't hurt like hell.
When the heat was gone, and the rumbling had stopped I turned back to
where I had last seen my teammate. It only took a glance to know
there was no hope. Even if, by some miracle, he had survived the
explosion, the tunnel was now completely filled with dirt and rock.
My movements are more instinctive than planned as my mind begins to
I must have passed out after that one look at the filled tunnel
because the next thing I remember, I was out in the forest, Kurama
bent over me cleaning the burns and cuts I'd sustained. Yusuke was
sitting at my other side, his arm in a splint and his leg wrapped up
with his torn shirt. His face was turned away so I couldn't see his
expression, but his slumped shoulders told the story as did Kurama's
own grim face. Added to the absence of a certain complaining
presence and I knew.
It hadn't been some kind of strange nightmare. It had been real.
Our famous luck had finally deserted us in the worst way.
It was a weary, disinheartened Urameshi team that made it's way back
to Genkai's that day.
A shudder ripples through my body as I recall the tear gems my twin
shed. It was Kurama and Botan that held her as she sobbed. I had no
right to provide comfort, no matter how much I longed to.
The soft sound of voices warns me that I've reached my destination.
The memorial service had been earlier today and the whole group had
decided to gather here afterwards. I know my own presence isn't
expected, but somehow it seems wrong to just stay away. It seemed...
disrespectful to repay his sacrifice like that.
I ignore everyone else as I approach Yukina.
I've spent all night thinking. I made a promise long ago that I
would never tell Yukina about our relationship. I've never even been
tempted to break that oath. After all, it was better for her, safer,
if no one knew we were related. But now...
His words and the look on his face will be forever etched in my
mind. I don't know how he found out that I was Yukina's brother. To
be honest, at this point I don't really care. Right now I have to
make a decision. Do I keep the oath I made so long ago? Or do I
tell her, as he wanted me to?
Part of me sneers at my indecision. It shouldn't be that difficult.
No one else knows of what he asked me. Kuwabara is dead and no
matter what he said, I doubt that Koemna would allow him to haunt me
for eternity. That part of me constantly replays all the reasons I
never liked the big ningen.
But then I'm also forced to remember that no matter what he'd done in
the past, he sacrificed his life that day so that the rest of us
could live. So that Kurama and Yusuke, and even myself, would make
it out of that fiery tomb. Glancing at Kurama's tired features, I
have to admit that his sacrifice saved my life.. and my soul.
Doesn't that in itself earn something?
His death saved so much for me. How then, can I deny his last
Her gentle, sad face is vaguely questioning when I stop in front of
My throat closes as I search for something to say. Anything that
might lessen the grief etched on her delicate features. I can almost
feel the prodding at my shoulder and I frown. I guess I was wrong.
Maybe Koemna will let him haunt me after all...
I don't need a ghost to tell me what I must say. I can't say the
idea of dealing with Kuwabara for the rest of my life doesn't help
speed the words up, though.
That's okay though. The smile on her face, small and sad though it
is, makes it all worth it.
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