Somehow I find myself simply standing here, in the middle of a thick forest on this island. It’s calm here, and you cannot hear the cheers and shouts of youkai. You can’t hear them wishing for your death. Yet, those echoes linger in my mind and won’t fully be gone. Not that it matters to me, really, I know what I have to do and that’s all. Besides, their youkai of weak classes and they don’t understand all that is at stake here—don’t realize the type of monsters they’ve spurned on.
The Ankoku Bujutsukai has been challenging so far and I must say I do not look forward to the battle that will between our team and the Toguro-team. They’re strong, even Koenma has been wary about them. The humans of our group, Kuwabara and Yuusuke, they’re so highly confident that they believe they can defeat anything and anyone. Perhaps that is the attitude they should have, for me I believe to not get sucked up into pride. Instead, observe and know your limits, yet work to go past your limits to accomplish your goal.
I look up as the birds fly away from the trees and into the sky, making distressed noises. I reach out the plant life, waiting for a sign of who is coming.
‘Dark shadow,’ the leaves rustle softly.
I turn upon hearing the single footstep of the new arrival. I would have suspected Hiei, had the step not been made. He has an uncanny way to go about silently and never be detected. He wouldn’t care if he surprised someone; he wouldn’t have let his footstep be heard.
As I face this ‘shadow’ I hear the leaves trembling slightly nearby as they whisper of the dark and coldness. My breath catches and I can’t help but take a step back. This youkai actually frightens me, with his indescribable purple eyes and long, black hair to match his black clothing. The mask covering most of his lower face leaves only the eyes for expression—when he has any.
Involuntarily I shiver at the sight of him and try to turn away, or to reach up and pull out the rose in my hair. His eyes show that he wears a smirk. His voice, quiet and mysterious, greets me.
“Konnichi wa, boku no kirei kitsune.”
I hear the slight chuckle and I realize I must have reacted too openly to the greeting. ‘My fox?’ I wondered silently, uncomfortable.
He steps forward, silently, and makes me realize that he had purposefully let me know earlier that he was coming. As he moves closer, I take a few steps back. His eyes sparkle in the familiar look of interest and suddenly he in not in front of me anymore.
Remembering what had happened earlier, I looked around quickly, preparing myself. As I should have expected, he appears behind me, so close that I can feel his body temperature. I began to spin around, but one of his arms snags me around the waist, pulling my back to him. His other hand reaches my chin, jerking it back to look up at him. I swallow, trying to keep calm in his grasp.
Our gazes are locked and I find that I cannot turn away. His eyes are endless, yet there is nothing there. Only the color of his irises in a never-ending void. It’s desolate, haunting… and so very cold. His fingers tighten on my chin and I wince, guessing that bruises will remain later. He still stares at me, stoic, looking almost searchingly at me. I don’t know what to do, nor what to expect.
There was the option to call out for help, I knew the others were in the wood, but with my luck I might very well call some other youkai that would be quite content with me dead. Suddenly I find myself slammed down to the ground. He still stands, staring down at me while I gather my wits together. Just as I begin to stand, he drops to the ground and pins my arms behind my back.
Glaring at his face, I spit. He takes one finger to swipe it away easily, not seeming bothered at all. His weight is just below my ribs, the pressure causing my human heart to speed, uncertain and nervous. Keeping one hand pressed against my chest, he continues to stare down at me. Slowly, he reaches his other hand back beneath his hair. As I watch, the mask on his face slowly loosens, and then finally falls, hitting my chest and then rolling to the grass surrounding us.
I stare at him, at the pale face that is now fully revealed and framed by black strands of hair. His lips are pale too, as emotionless as his eyes have suddenly become. He still stares at me, having been silent since the first greeting. I don’t know what to expect at this point.
However, I greatly doubt that I ever expected him to lean over, just centimeters between our faces. He paused there for a few moments, then he finished his descent and my eyes widen in shock. A—a kis—kiss?
My breathing… is off, shocked… and this human body easily reacting. It scares me, really, the entire feeling I receive from this. It’s—so odd… Involuntarily my eyes close and I feel my muscles unwind. ‘Why?’ my mind demands. ‘Why am I reacting in such away? Why aren’t I struggling, pulling back, fighting this?’
Strangely his lips to mine are smooth as any of my roses’ petals. He puts some pressure into the kiss, a firm force, really, yet I somehow don’t mind. This feeling—I don’t…understand. I try to gasp for breath, my heart working overtime. As soon as my lips part I feel his own capturing my bottom lip, smoothing a tongue over it.
If I had thought to obtain some air, I was quite wrong. Though I thought it impossible, my heart speeds up and my eyes snap open again. Yet his hair blocks my view and I can’t see him—only black. I sigh without really realizing it. His strands of hair are cool and soft, blanketing my vision from the rest of the world.
In a few seconds I am fully aware that his tongue is pressing into my mouth. I give in without resistance, causing my mind to scream in frustration for being so easy. But his tongue is velvet and feels wonderful to me. I’m reacting, I realize, and responding with my own tongue going to meet his.
My minds arguing with me but I hardly realize. I feel… I—there’s no way to describe it. The incredible feeling and I realize I don’t want to move, to go away. I want to stay here, like this, alone in this strange void with this mysterious and dangerous youkai. Somewhere within me I know I still am frightened of him, yet my soul is saying otherwise.
How completely bizarre—it’s not something I can understand nor explain to any more depth. All I know is that the raw feeling of this filled me all the way through and I held tightly to it.
He pulls back slightly and his hair moves against my face. My eyes open and I look up at him, wondering. His lips are slightly swollen and I wonder how mine must look. His eyes locked with mine, his hand reaches up and strokes through my hair. I shiver, but not out of fright. I note that his eyes slightly narrow, perhaps not understanding my reaction.
I realize that he has released my hair and begun moving back, ready to stand. I sit up as soon as I can and surprise even myself as my arms suddenly encircle his neck and I force our mouths to meet again, this time mine the one demanding. With the force that I threw myself at him, we tumble back onto the ground and I land on top of him, not caring anymore.
I feel and taste his slight laugh that escaped, sounding a bit surprised. He forces me over so I’m on my back again. I hold onto him tightly, not letting us part. One of his hands weaves into my hair and grasps it tightly, nearly pulling. But I don’t mind as I clutch a handful of his own silky mane.
I begin to panic as I note his other hand at the fastenings of my Chinese tunic and I pause, pulling back slightly so there’s a few centimeters between our lips. I stare up at him, breathing hard. He’s in much of the same state, I realize, and his eyes dance oddly with the smirk across his mouth.
“Don’t you realize,” he began, then pausing for breath, “what you are getting into?”
Staring into his face, I know that I truly don’t know. I shake my head slowly. The corner of his lips twitch and his hand abandons my tunic to trace across my face.
“My little fox,” her murmured, “don’t start the hunt unless you know what you are going for.”
His smile turned from day to night and I fought back pained tears as he jerked my head by tugging my hair roughly. I bite the inside of my cheek to keep from sounding the pain.
He shakes my head, making me close my eyes so as not to get dizzy. He manages to turn me onto my stomach and proceeds to force my face painfully to the ground. With one hand holding my head down, he leans in and speaks next to my ear so that his breath brushes past me.
“I will fight you, don’t let someone else come up to face me. I love this beauty of yours and your skill, but don’t you know what sort of game you get into with me?” I remained silent, waiting. “I’ll kill you. By now you must realize that, ne?” He chuckled, lips brushing against my ear in what I can only guess as a light kiss. “I kill all I love, did you know that?”
I still did not respond to him. He pressed my face harder into the dirt and then suddenly his weight was gone. I turned over, wincing at the pain of my face and scalp. He was retrieving the mask and placing it back on, back to me.
I stand up, walking a few steps, then stop. “Chotto matte.”
Quite obviously he wasn’t expecting me to be there, for her turned quickly, an eyebrow raised.
I reach out, then drop my hand, realizing it useless. I shake my head slowly, not sure what to say, just knowing that I want that feeling back. My eyes fall to the ground, not able to match his gaze. His shadow falls over me and I look up, stunned as his mask is removed once again. I feel his arms come about me, pulling me to my toes so that my face meets his easier.
My lips reach his again and I’m thrown into eternity. I want this to last, to stay with me so that I may always retreat to such a place. I breathe in his scent and realize that he has the smell of something akin to candle or incense smoke about him.
He pulls back just barely and then places quick, teasing kisses against my lips. My arms encircle him, trying to keep him to me so that I know him only this way and not as the youkai that makes me nervous and frightened. I know not how much time passes, how long I stand there with him locked in that odd feeling, in that strange kiss.
I know time passes too quickly for his hand rests on my chest and then pushes me back. I hit the ground hard and stare up at him, swallowing. His eyes don’t meet mind and he busies himself straightening his hair and picking up his mask again to place it back on his face.
Silently I watch, knowing that he is—and has been—the cold youkai that will fight me and try all there is to kill me. Once his mask is back in place, he stands before me, staring down, indifferent.
“You shall fight me,” he stated, although it sounded like an order. “One of us will die in the fight. You already know that I will kill you at some point.”
He begins to turn and walk away. Then he pauses and turns again. I believe his voice wavers, but perhaps I just am hearing things, “A—arigatou. If for only a heartbeat, I knew the ‘love’ that humans talk of.”
He’s gone; just as sudden as that statement. I stare to where he had stood and wonder. My heartbeat is back to normal yet I still sit there. After many minutes have gone by, I realize there’s wetness on my cheeks. Reaching up, I touch my cheeks, then look to my fingertips. Thin liquid clings to my fingertips—like tears—but they are red as my hair, like blood.
It’s too thin to be blood, I know, and the taste that enters my mouth as the liquid reaches there is salty like tears. I shake my head, not caring for this mystery. I bring my knees to my chest and rest my head on them, silent and trying to keep emotionless.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
My eyes open and I blink slowly, realizing how silent the arena is and how odd that event. Slowly, carefully, I force myself up and I hear the crowd begin to murmur in surprise. My first look goes across the platform and I see my plant only. My opponent is buried beneath it, I know. I swallow, knowing not to think of the other day and my feelings then.
I catch the end of my name and turn weakly as Yuusuke rushes across the platform towards me and kneels beside me, supporting me.
“Are you all right?” he asks, worry apparent on his face. “I didn’t think you’d survive! Don’t scare me like that!”
I manage to weakly smile at him, but my gaze turns back to my fallen opponent. Unlike me, he will not stand again. I swallow, tasting blood that has entered my mouth.
The judge announces the winner, “Kurama-senshi has gained the first point for Urameshi-team!”
Yuusuke helps me up and I lean against him heavily as we walk towards the side where the others wait. A loud ‘ping’ sounds from the score board and everyone’s attention turns towards it. I look with Yuusuke too. I watch unemotionally as the winner is marked different.
“Na-nani?” the judge questions, her tail flicking in confusion.
Loud calls are sounded from all around the arena. Yuusuke is cursing beside me. “What the hell! Kurama won, damnit!”
I don’t feel like explaining to him, so I stay silent, just wanting to rest. The commentator on the finals spoke up. “Headquarters has decided that Karasu-senshi wins because of Kurama-senshi being down past the count.”
Confusion is let loose. It’s announced that a video tape has been obtained and I watch dully as the footage is played from the time I was knocked down up to the time the blood-sucking plant was let loose. The counter at the bottom was past ten seconds. If I’d only stood up—but I couldn’t. I was too weak and tired. Even now I felt myself growing heavier against Yuusuke’s support and I know I can’t hold up much longer.
He curses again, but takes me outside the ring and lets me rest against the wall while he works on temporary bandages for me. Through slit eyes I see Hiei watching me silently. He found me that day after my encounter. He had been passing by, then stopped when seeing me, probably not expecting me to be in the state I was in.
He’d looked over me, frowning, then questioned ‘what the hell happened’ to me. I hadn’t responded but he joined me at a pool of water as I cleaned my face. Looking at my reflection in the water, I tentatively touched my lips and winced. It was painfully obvious what I had done. Speaking again—and surprising me that he was still there—Hiei pointed out my swollen lips and I flushed, looking down. I didn’t answer him, but I believe he guessed and figured it out.
The look on his face now assured me that yes, he had guessed correctly. I sighed, letting my head lean back. From beside me I heard Hiei, “Baka.”
I open my eyes, looking towards him. He was already heading up to go in the next battle. Karasu’s body and my plant have been removed from the platform. Somewhere inside me I feel a painful clench and no longer can I cling to that memory of tranquility in a void caused by a kiss from a crow. Exhausted, my eyes work against me and close.