For many years now I have been a part of team Urameshi more or less. The "more" part started right before Sensui opened the portal to Demon World and many humans woke up with powers that were not there the previous day. As opposed to my class mate Kaito, I did not go venturing into the unknown in search for master Genkai to better understand my powers, but kept my head lowered until I was found out by none other than my crush Suichi Minamino, or better yet Kurama as I soon learned. I guess it was then the magic actually dissipated as I saw the real face of the boy I used to swoon over.
Whether I liked it or not, wanted to or not, I was pushed in the middle of their team and gradually worked to earn my keep. After Genkai's death, two years down the road after the first Demon World tournament, there we were helping demons relocate, me and Yukina working as healers. It became my mission to turn the temple grounds into a hospital for apparitions as my powers bestowed me with the ability to heal the body and also reach out to touch the soul. Hiei would be often seen dealing with issues on his own, but by that time we all knew he was just keeping an eye on Yukina when we were in town dealing with errands.
As years passed I grew closer to the more lively members of the gang, Yusuke and Kuwabara, since mischief was our middle name. Even if I did attend the same classes with one of the smartest people I have ever met, I was my own person, skipping classes, having a loud mouth and colourful vocabulary and in the end I guess that's why Kurama never even glanced my way.
Whenever we would meet up at the temple, which became a weekly affair, pranks were played on repeat. I would wake up Yusuke with an entire bucket of ice water, having to run in order to avoid a slap across the head. We painted Kuwabara's face, washed Hiei's scarfs with red clothes making them pink, put vaseline on door handles, spread oil on the floors, the entire works. No one was excused as spirits always remained high, jokes made at everyone's expense and in a way we all waited for the weekend to roll up so the temple could fill up.
Now let me tell you, pranking or laughing at Kurama's expense was one of the hardest things to do and no matter how much thought we put into those ideas most of them failed or backfired on us. However when I presented to the gang my most recent find it was like we struck gold. When the song "What does the fox say?" hit the radio stations across the country I was out buying groceries for a weekend barbeque. My ears perked up, eyes light with joy and the next thing I knew I doubled over holding to a shelf laughing so loud my jaw and stomach hurt. You can imagine Yusuke and Kuwabara were the first ones to know.
When Kurama first heard the song, his right eye twitched, but shrugged it off. Bless his cotton socks he did not expect for us to go on and on and on asking "Hey Kurama, what does the fox say?" and on and on we went.
It was painfully obvious at one point what was going to come out of our mouths, so we went creative. On a Friday afternoon, I went by his house to pick him up and head to the temple. Shiori invited me inside as Kurama threw in a bag a few clothes to last him the weekend.
"Come on Suichi, I want to still catch some day light."
The response soon came in the form of footsteps down the stairs, where me and Shiori waited. She handed him a casserole of freshly made cookies and like always told him to be careful. As I was with one foot out the door I heard her call out to her son.
"Shuichi dear I forgot something."
Turning to her he smiled gracefully.
Not even batting an eye, she flashed her son a loving smile and took his hand into hers.
"What does the fox say dear?"
Totally ignoring the stink eye he gave me the streets resonated with my laughter while from the speaker of my phone snorts and giggles were heard from Yusuke, my partner in crime.
Honestly I didn't even know why he put up with us. The entire shenanigans would have stopped if Kurama would have just said "Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!" but I guess it was too beneath him.
At every corner something about the song just had to remind him he was not safe. Not in the kitchen when I was washing dishes and humming that stupid tune. Not in the garden helping out Yukina who with the most innocent face went as loud as she could "Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding". Nowhere!
"I hope you all know I can cut you in half with a rose." His face said it all, exasperation rolling off his features in cascades, nerves turning the twitch into a reflex whenever the slightest mention to the song was made.
Piping down, I elbowed Yusuke as he snickered away, Kuwabara having decided Yukina was more important than us torturing Kurama.
Hiei burst through the door, drawing our laughter to a halt, the urgency in his eyes evident. Something was wrong. Slowly me and Yusuke got up from our seats waiting for the fire demon to speak. He headed straight to Kurama.
"I need you for this."
His emerald eyes watched Hiei's stern expression, worry setting between his brows as he gave his friend a short nod assuring him he will provide his aid no matter that the task was.
"This is of utmost importance and only your big head can come up with the answer." There was a pause that made my stomach churn as I contemplated on grabbing Hiei by the collar and demand answers "Kurama, what does the fox say?"
Yusuke fell to the floor gasping for air between snorting like a pig and laughing as I watched Hiei dumb folded.
"For fucks sake not you too." Pinching the bridge of his nose, Kurama frowned as Hiei just smirked and shrug his shoulders. Just what did Yusuke promise to give him that managed to convince him to say it? I have tried for almost a month but could not get through to him.
"Oh come on Kurama" placing my hand on my hip I smiled cocking an eyebrow at him "You have to tell us what does the fox say, what sounds do they make?" Yusuke draped his hand over my shoulder, leaning onto my body for more support than I could carry, however I still struggled to maintain his weight as he grinned at Kurama from ear to ear.
"We're just pulling your leg my friend, although the faces you make are priceless." The lift in Kurama's brow did not intimidate Yusuke as it looked like his smile grew even bigger "But really now, does a fox purr, or does it moan?"
Rubbing his forehead, Kurama remained as calm as we have always knows him, but we both went stiff when he placed his hand behind his head. Joke or no joke, Kurama could cut us in half with a rose. Patting Yusuke's chest got his full attention as he turned a pair of round eyes to me.
"That's enough, we all know foxes don't purr or moan." I winked at him trying to bite back a smile "But Kurama is not your typical fox so maybe he squeals in delight."
"You two are impossible. I will not stoop to such a level." His eyes fell on a book that he opened as he became determined to ignore us fully.
I had to hand it to him, he never went overboard, but still chuckled away hiding behind a graceful hand whenever we came up with a new way of embarrassing ourselves. But in the end not even Hiei calling us imbeciles made any difference, this was our way of blowing out steam after a long week or school or work. As long as no one got hurt all was in good humor.
Even now, after weeks of being asked such a silly question, he still played along, indulging us as we still snickered away behind closed doors, never saying that line even if he knew that would put an end to the game and we would move on to the next big thing. He was annoyed and he didn't bother to hide it, yet just gave us a light scold when we went over the top.
He did not retaliate although he must have been hiding a plan up his sleeve when we set his alarm for 04:00 with that song, he just looked ill when we all wore fox onesies and shook his head asking how many more crazy ideas could we link to just a song. He almost chased us around the temple when we suggested for him to change the name of the Rose Whip technique to Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow, we laughed so hard until we cried.
"Say FOR FOX'S SAKE." The camera blitz went off as Kuwabara got his head out of the cardboard fox cut out that was installed near the main gate. Kurama just strut up the stairs his face falling flat as he stared at the cardboard as if it was an alien from another planet.
"I mustache you Kurama, what does the fox say?" the camera snapped once again as his eyes rolled up to the cloud probably asking for Koenma to strike me down on the spot.
"You know, I have to admit, you have been invested in this prank, very innovative."
Smirking, I scrolled through the pictures on the camera trying my best to ignore him as he edged closer without making a sound. Showing him the picture he chuckled seeing the expression on his face.
"Does this have anything to do with your feelings for me?"
My head shut up to look at him, eyes the size of flying round spaceships.
"I thought we clarified this subject."
And we did, years ago, when I decided enough is enough. I even took in account that he might not even like girls to begin with. So guarded, such a solitary creature. He knew I liked him, he had always known and even after he learned to show me a modicum of trust I wasn't what he wanted. He even had the nerve to say it to my face in his polite manner.
Clearing his throat it was then when I realised I spaced out. Placing the camera to my face, I focused him.
"So tell me" finger ready to snap the picture "what does the fox say?"
Through the small lens I could see him raising his index finger towards me and for a moment I was on alert until I remembered Yusuke had the Spirit Gun, not the witty fox before me. His lips parted slowly as he mimicked firing a gun.
"Bang! I have fallen for you." I almost dropped the camera when lowering it "Also ring-ding-ding-ding and wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow or so I've heard." Placing his index finger to his lips he smiled at me.
"Well fuck." i knew then I could not tell the gang. Damn this sly fox.
Chapter 2: Let the games begin
What started out as a simple one shot ended up blooming in my head as a regular fic and screaming at me to let it out.
Without any more delay let's dive in.
If I had more weight or any other powers I would have dug a hole through the wood boards in my room with the amount of pacing done. The line "I have fallen for you" rang in my ears as my little heart fluttered away uncontrollably. No, no! He was referring to the joke we have been playing, it had nothing to do with the one sided feelings. Crashing on my bed a groan escape my chest as I travelled back on memory lane, reliving the discussion me and Kurama had right on the last day of high school.
Like in one of those silly soap opera teen drama cheap settings, we were on the roof saying our goodbyes to the school that had witnessed the last years of our youth. By that time I have had confirmation that Kurama knew I had a crush on him. Ideas and ideologies changed once my horizons expanded, however I still wanted to know if there was a chance in Hell. Last day, last chance.
"Look Kurama" I wasn't going to go all full confession and be my boyfriend crap "I know you are aware of my feelings for you by this point" I wanted to slap myself as my voice started shaking "this isn't a confession if that's what you are thinking" he was just looking at me, unresponsive, waiting for me to finish. I have seen the same scene play out as many girls called him to confess their feelings and he rejected them flat. This was his "it's not you, it's me" face.
"You are human" he interrupted me "you smell human."
Inhaling sharply I did my best to sniff myself without drawing too much attention to the action. I did take a shower the previous night, perhaps I didn't scrub hard enough?
"So what I stink now?"
The look he gave me said all that he did not utter, he was talking to an idiot. Yusuke had explained the entire demons, spirits, humans web. Powers, stats and all that jazz, but the one member of the team I came close to wanting was watching me like I have lost all my neurons with that question.
"You do know I am not a human right? Demons and humans should not mix."
"That's racist." I blurred out feeling the need to just talk. I was fine with him telling me no, but I didn't need him invoking racial cultural bullshit to blow me off. A faint chuckle escaped his lips as his face finally gave out something else.
"In a way, I can see what you mean. However you don't interest me. This will probably be the last time we see each other as well. I'm sorry."
Placing my hands on my knees I let out a full breath of air and then grinned at him.
"Is it because I am a bad girl?"
Clearing his throat he tried to hide his amusement, but I also had an ace up my sleeve. I had Yusuke and Kuwabara. I had Keiko and Shizuru, I was part of the group, I was getting close to them. If they wanted to cast me out they made no indication of that happening.
"I am not the type of man you want in your life. For various reasons that would be too many to invoke right now I can tell you I have thought about all possibilities and there is no way that you and I could work."
He sounded so formal that I honestly was under the impression I was being kicked out of a job instead of rejected. Giving him my best smug look, I lifted my chin and smiled.
"I will surprise you, remember that silly."
As I turned to leave I knew very well I would not look back. It was because I couldn't, I just couldn't look him in the eye.
"This is not something personal, please understand."
Waving my hand in response to his last statement I tried to shrug off the feeling growing in my chest. It wasn't because of me, it was because of some nonsense he tried to use as a justification.
"I'm not taking it as a personal offence, I just think you're full of crap."
And that was that. We never spoke of it again, he didn't bring it, I didn't bring it up and we both acted like it didn't happen. Until now.
Yusuke's laughter reached my ears and I knew he probably saw the fox cardboard cutout so it was time to stop busting my imaginary balls over a line Kurama said and go greet him.
"Oi" my voice rang loud and cheerful as my hand lifted in the air "Tell me you got beer."
Lifting two large bags, he grinned from ear to ear coming to meet me half way. Turning back to the cardboard, he let out another giggle before placing the bags on the ground.
"Latest addition to the team?" he snickered away as he hunched to retrieve two beers from the bags, popping one open as I worked on the second. On queue a voice rang, making Yusuke cover the back of his head with the available hand fearing the worst slap or slaps. Keiko glared daggers telling him off for drinking before dinner making me laugh in response to their quarrel. Out of the blue, like walking on clouds, Kurama materialised next to us making me jump sideways.
"On edge are we?" the smirk on his thin lips made me question his motives once more. Oh so you want to play big boy? Fine we can play.
"You just startled me, but I am running out of foxs to give."
Yusuke let out a loud snort as Kurama's eyes begged me to stop but also warned me what would happen if I wouldn't.
"I do believe we can move on from that, no?" he insisted as I turned looking around me ignoring his tone that sounded sweet however if I were to put my tongue on it, it would sting.
"Oh you were talking to me?" I said pointing a finger to my chest looking back in his eyes "Sorry, I don't speak fox."
Waving a hand between us Yusuke looked confused. Kurama was hinting at something he did not get and I was deflecting.
"Did I miss something you two?" he took a big gulp from the beer "You know I don't like it when I don't get something."
Holding a burp in, I pounded my chest twice as the most judging face in the world came from the foxy boy.
"Kurama over here is no fun wouldn't you agree Yusuke?" bobbing his head from side to side like one of those dog toys you place at the back of your car he listened to me rant on "He doesn't like to play with others." Waving my hand casually I totally ignored how Kurama came close to me and took the beer from my hand taking a sip from it "So what I am saying is that we move on."
"What?!" Yusuke yelled "But we were doing so good." Pointing an accusatory finger at Kurama his voice elevated "You did it, didn't you? You said it!"
Passing me back the beer, he shrug his shoulders giving me a small wink before turning to smirk at Yusuke.
"You did didn't you!" I didn't know if Yusuke was more shocked or surprised, or both.
"Who knows." Shrugging his shoulders he chuckled as Yusuke flapped his arms like a headless chicken asking him to say it again. Looking at my beer can I stopped before it touched my lips. Throwing my head back I just poured it down my throat from a distance and then turned to the boys whipping my mouth with the back of my hand.
"By the way, I bought a new board game."
After dinner, we all sat on the living room floor as I presented to them the latest find.
"This my lovely bunch is called Alias Party, a word game." Rolling his eyes at the possibility of using his brain and not his muscles, Yusuke earned a poke on the forehead from me "In a minute you have to explain to your partner as many words from the cards as possible without using the actual words on the cards. For example if you have to explain the word black you can say it's the darkest colour, however if you mention black or blackish you lose the point."
"And how is this fun?" Yusuke insisted while Keiko elbowed and hushed him "Hey it's a legit question."
"Indeed it is." I flashed a smile as a couple of them took some cards to look at the words "This set of cards" I mentioned holding them up "Have challenges on them and you have to explain the words to your partner while doing let's see" I turned over a card and read it out to the gang "Explain to your partner while jumping on one foot and holding your index finger in your ear."
Kuwabara clapped his hands together "Sounds good to me, let's do this."
Kurama rose his eyes from the rule book pointing out the flaws in my explanation.
"You forgot to add that after the time runs out all of us can try and guess the word." rolling my eyes he went on while I laid out the board "We move forward depending on how many words the partner guesses, but if you say pass to a word that means it's one point in minus." The gang all nodded their heads in unison taking in the last of the explanations. Kurama tapped my shoulder as he put back the rule guide and I turned to look at a charming smile "So who goes first partner?"
"Partner?" looking over at the rest it was clear Yusuke would pair up with Keiko and Kuwabara with Yukina "We draw numbers partner."
Chapter 3: Boys get a turn
After some time and a beer later we have finally managed to settle down in order to play the game. Kuwabara came up with an idea that more than likely we would have ended up regretting for making total fools of ourselves, but we went with it. Instead of playing the challenges when we landed on the assigned numbers 4 and 8, we would do a challenge regardless of what number we were on. By popular demand me and Kurama went first since I bought the game and it was only fair for the smartest member of the group to show us how it was done. Extending a hand to the challenge pile he pulled the first card, face going pale as he saw what was on in. Letting out a heavy sigh he finally let us have it.
"Before you star explaining, get on all fours, roll two times and meow. The hourglass will be tipped over as to not loose time while you do your cat presentation."
Puffing my cheeks I tried to hold it together until Yusuke's bright laughter reached my ears. He already pulled out his phone to record while Kuwabara was trying to catch his breath, slapping his legs.
"So it looks like the fox goes meow after all eh buddy?" one look from Kurama silenced Kuwabara as he swallowed a hard lump, sweat already forming on his forehead.
"Very well." Taking a few cards he got on all fours "The first one is easy so pay attention." I stifled a small "Mhm" but lost it when he rolled over twice and looked me in the eye with an innocent face "Meow!"
Yukina who looked to be trying to add some decency to the group, turned the hourglass so our time could start, me barely hearing Kurama over the sea of laughter.
"It's a human leisure activity."
"Sex? I think that counts for all creatures."
Groaning he rolled his eyes looking at the hourglass. I could not take Kurama seriously while he was in front of me on all fours.
"No Hana, they take with them food and go in the park. You sit on a blanket and eat with someone the snacks brought."
Hitting my open palm with my fist it finally clicked.
His smile was short lived as Yukina tipped the hourglass as he gracefully rolled over and meowed. I had to hand it to him, even with something so silly Kurama still managed to make it look good, his body moving in a controlled manner.
"You go there during the summer" his voice snapped me out of my day dreaming "in order to get a tan and have a bath in the sea."
"Beach." Somehow I knew he didn't want me to guess, just so he wouldn't have to display himself on the floor in front of everyone laughing. The time was almost up as the sand in the hour glass indicated we were up to our last word.
"If you purr I promise to not laugh." But did so as soon as the sentence left my mouth as he rolled over twice meowing. Crawling closer to me his piercing eyes stifled the amusement boiling in my stomach.
"I am an animal, a predator that flies high in the sky."
My brained turned to mush as he urged me with his eyes to take a guess "Eagle?"
"Almost purrrfect. I prey on animal carcasses."
Before I could register the slight purring sound leaving his lips, Keiko seized the opportunity since the time was up and guessed "vulture" which was the correct one. Moving two spaces ahead, her win granted her and Yusuke one as well. Stopping the video, Yusuke grinned at us, waiting for Kuwabara to take his challenge card.
"While you explain the words" he looked at Yukina with an apologetic smile "the other players need to tickle your partner."
Me and Keiko got up, me taking the armpit tickle task as Keiko would go for the ribs. Yusuke and Kurama both took a foot and we all nodded in unison as Kuwabara started.
"While we were discussing who to start and everyone presented their ideas, what was the action we performed called? It's a verb."
Yukina let out a fit of giggles as she squirmed between us.
"Pa…." the ice maiden tried to get out as more laughter escaped her "Stop."
Placing the card down, Kuwabara called pass as we stopped letting the little ice maiden catch her breath. I had no idea if ice apparitions could blush or get a fever but her cheeks were red from all the wiggling and laughing.
"Go on Kazuma, you are wasting time." Kurama mentioned while turning to Yukina offering her his best "I am sorry" face. I also pitied her since I knew for a fact she was ticklish.
"Ok, go." Her laughter filled the room once again as Kuwabara was practically yelling to get his message across "When you go to the gym and are on a diet, why do you do it?"
Electric laughter stopped as the door to the room burst open, Hiei coming in with his sword drawn, murderous eyes watching all of us around his sister.
"What are you fools doing to her? I could hear her voice from the forest."
At the same time we held our hands up in surrender silently praying he would not jump us and have our heads for touching Yukina. The moment was saved by the blushing maiden who explained to him we were playing a game.
"A game?" his eyes traveled to all of us before taking a corner of the room in order to survey all our moves. Overprotective much?
"Well you didn't move at all. Let's see." Yusuke drew his card as another beer drained against his lips "Easy. While explaining yell out the end of the sentence, your partner needs to guess all the words while whispering."
Cracking open a few more beers while I presented one to the snarky protective brother we settled back as Yusuke started explaining the first word to Keiko while always nervously looking at the hour glass. Guess he didn't like the time pressure, probably reminded him of school exams.
"When you go to someone's home YOU RING THE?"
Annoyance crossed her face hearing the tone, immediately retaliating.
"Don't you yell at me Yusuke."
His eyes went wide as he checked the hour glass once more.
"It's the CHALLENGE!"
Keiko blinked a couple of times gathering her thoughts and indeed remembering that was the task they had to perform and whispered "doorbell".
"Huh? I can't HEAR YOU."
Laughter bloomed like the flowers during spring time as she tried to whisper at him angrily the word. Finally hearing it, he tossed the card aside, sneaked a peak at the time remaining and proceeded to the next one.
"Oh easy one Keiko. You know the expression in action movies TO PULL THE?"
It was clear as day light she didn't go for action movies yet still tried to guess.
"Ummm…finger. Is this one of your fart jokes?"
We barely heard her as we caught on to the idea when she said finger. Yusuke groaned and then the idea hit him.
"Scratch THAT. Think of a sex toy, something that goes in YOUR BUTT."
Kurama lost it, bear flying out of his mouth as I watched Keiko's hand interact with Yusuke's face. Yukina, bless her, looked so confused however me and Kuwabara were rolling on the floor holding onto our stomachs.
"What are you saying you big idiot?"
Yusuke held his cheek as his finger pointed to the hourglass.
"What do you PUT IN YOUR BUTT KEIKO?"
Clearing his throat, Kurama mentioned the time was up.
"He was referring to a plug, however the explanation provided, as correct as it was, did not register."
Rubbing his cheek Yusuke was as red as the hand print granted by Keiko.
"I panicked, I don't like this time thing."
"Logic is panic's prey Yusuke."
Eyes turned to me after we settled as now it was the girl's turn to explain.
Chapter 4: Girls get a turn
A bit reluctantly I pulled the card from the pile and glanced down at the challenge written on it amusement immediately bubbling inside of my chest as I turned it to Kurama.
"As you explain" he blinked and threw me a dirty look as he continued "your partner needs to try and guess the words while talking like Donald Duck." Stealing the card from my hand he flipped it a couple of times over, probably certain I rigged the game or something. Truth be told, I was a bit disappointed I didn't.
"Wouldn't it be fair for you to describe the words while talking like this mister Donald?" if she hadn't been the most innocent member of the group I would have said something really nasty, but at least for Yukina I tried to bite my tongue as much as possible. Entertained at the idea and prospect of laughing at my expense I had to accept, however in my defense I had only probably hear Donald Duck speak only one or twice.
"The Donald talk, formally called buccal speech, is an a laryngeal form of vocalization which uses the inner cheek to produce sound rather than the larynx." Rolling my eyes over at Kurama after the boring explanation provided, I extended my hands towards his throat wishing to strangle him, just a little, not a lot, just a tiny bit that would allow me to feel better. Taking a hold of my wrists, a devilish smirk crossed his lips as he further provided me with instructions "Put your tongue to the roof of your mouth and open your teeth slightly." I stared at him as he let go of my hands once certain I behaved and wondered WTF "Twist your tongue a little to the left or right. Go with whatever direction feels more comfortable to you." And then bam that gorgeous smile.
"What are you really teaching me here?" letting out a sigh I stared at Yusuke who already took his phone out "Fine, turn the hourglass."
The second I began explaining the word, spit flew from my mouth, Kurama letting out a full blown laugh, not even bothering to hide his amusement.
"Phey phey phettention phurama!" hearing how I sounded set me in a fit of giggles as I did my best to maintain character even then, even when from the corner of the room Hiei called us idiots and I replied back calling him "no fun", well "phno phun". Flapping my hands around and trying to talk to Kurama was too much, he lost it completely seeing how in the end I quit as well and pulled on my lips to create the impression of a duck beak.
"Phuck phou." Pointing his finger at me, he shook his head, whipping away at the corner or his eye. Well at least I got them to laugh, girls and boys united in my grief that now was registered on Yusuke's phone. While I had a thing for photos, he liked to records out pain and misery.
"Apologies, you did so well." Came my partner's encouragement that sent me in a dramatic eye roll. Yukina reached out a pale while hand to the card pile and with the brightest face started reading.
"Explain the words like you have your mouth full with candy, when your partner guesses you have to say I want more, give me more before moving forward to the next explanation."
Pulling at my cheeks with both my hands I stole a glance at Hiei who was already glaring daggers since he probably knew I would lose it first. A sharp pinch on my arm made me slap Kurama's hand away and divert my attention to Yusuke who by the looks of things had the same dilemma as me. It was like at that moment in time when our eyes locked the same question went through our minds "How do we stop from laughing when Yukina goes all I want more, give me more?"
"Would you mind bringing more beers as Yukina starts the round?" Kurama urged looking particularly at me and Yusuke as we both nodded and scrambled to our feet. I had just time to see the little ice maiden puffing her cheeks like a little bunny and begin the explanation. Kuwabara, who I was certain had the same stupid mind since he was in our band of misfits, contained himself like a rock when out of her cute little mouth came "I want more, give me more Kazuma."
"Fffucckkkk" giving Yusuke a hard slap on the back was enough to push him inside the kitchen, door closed behind us, where we both stared at the other ones face before we explored laughing inside another room, trying to be as silent as possible and at the same time cursing out our dirty young minds. I was certain sometimes we went over the top, but there was always this sort of balance in the group. Kurama would put us in our rightful place or predict a disaster before happening, Yusuke would always be honest and hotheaded and we needed that. Kuwabara would be the protector when us girls needed a knight in shining armor and Hiei would, despite his rough edges, pull though when needed the most.
As me and Yusuke snickered away, poking each other when the other was too loud, the door to the kitchen opened, a big pair of ruby eyes glaring our way. Hiei extended the empty beer can to me and held out his hand for another, which I granted with ease. This was the sort of relationship me and him had, few words, I would get him food and when he would feel like it, would train me, as rare as those moments are. As soon as the snarky fire demon had a new cold beer in his hands, a glare was shared between us.
"The turn is over."
Yusuke took a new six pack out of the fridge and gave him his everlasting grin.
"Want to try and play with us?"
Some days I had no idea why they liked to push his buttons, but since they were all in almost the same power league I guessed it was a given. I would not test it, just a small comment here in there, a smile, sometimes I would even push it for a laugh, but he gave me the creeps at any given time.
Like now, with his intense glaring, rarely blinking, frowning mouth.
"And stoop to your level, I think not."
Giving me a short nod in exchange for the beer we all returned to the living room to look at Keiko, looking red in the face, a card in her hand. Kuwabara snickered away, probably already seen it, but we were in the dark.
"When you guess a word, I need to provide a different explanation every time to someone else as to why I love bananas."
Yusuke did let out a loud laugh while I slapped my forehead. Keiko could have avoided the embarrassment easy, because they taste good, because they have lots of vitamins. Stopping my thoughts, my eyes went wide, it still sounded bad, just for the sexual connotation of it. Looked like the bad influence spread to even the lovely Keiko.
Settling down, she wore her best face while Yusuke looked truly determined to guess all the words.
"It's something you use to write with." She gestured erecting her index finger, Yusuke surprising us all as he quickly blurred out.
"Pen, pencil, marker, mechanical pen."
"Pen yes." she sighed and turned to me "The reason why I love bananas is because" her brain struggled to find something that would not embarrass her "they remind me of" my eyes went the size of saucers "the job Yusuke could have gotten at the banana factory."
"HUH?" I vocalized turning to look at him "What for straightening bananas with your ass?" he did not appreciated the comment as he shoot his middle finger in the air, but even Hiei let out a small sound in response. Turning to Yusuke, Keiko found new powers as she explained further.
"The computer has a lot of extra components, which one is used to move the cursor?" Letting out a loud long sigh he answered "mouse" having Keiko turn to Yukina. "The reason why I love bananas is because they remind me of the silly "What does the fox say" video."
"Touché." Kurama mentioned licking his lips and not saying more. Keiko was never used in the fox prank, although I was sure Yusuke tried to convince her to land one on Kurama. Pointing a finger at her, Yusuke looked so proud like he was about to cry, which made me laugh.
When we were hitting it off like that, hiding away at the temple in the weekend, forgetting the rest of the world existed, all feel into place. We would forget about how work did a real number on us or how much we had to study, we would leave the problems on the temple door steps, enjoy the weekend and get back to real life, picking those problems and facing them on Monday. None of us had it perfect, probably why we even got in such a routine, where we would make fun of each other and laugh. We all needed an escape and what better way that inside the mountain sanctuary?
Chapter 5: Spring rain
Let me tell you a bit about me, I am like a cat, as in not very silent or anything like that, but I need my sleep or else I get crankier than usual if you can imagine that. During the week there is a lot going on so I get little time to practice my hobby, however when the weekend rolls around I am the last one to get up especially if we are to stay up late like we did on Friday.
Sunday found me snoozing away in dream-ville, all tucked away under blankets and not even the morning light woke me up. That didn't but something else did. Cracking my eyes opened my brain barely registered the voice coming from inside the temple that at first I thought I was actually dreaming about even hearing it in the first place.
The second time it rang loud and clear as I sprung to action, throwing the covers off me. I was on my feet the next second, sure it was Kurama's voice calling out.
Who was hurt?
Opening the door after almost crashing into it, I head out of my bedroom, falling face first into something that sent me back to where I came from and landing with a loud thud on my back, head bobbing on the floor a couple of time like a rubber ball.
Groaning from the sudden pain I finally managed to push myself up on my elbows to see Yusuke throwing himself on the floor in a theatrical display of my fall, laughing away like he was in damn Lala Land and Hiei of all people shaking his head, however his shoulders rocking up and down were a good indication he found it just as funny as Yusuke did.
In the door frame, obscuring my vision of the two boys came Kurama who tapped on the clear clinging sheet that covered half the door's space.
"You are all a bunch of wankers."
Biting his thumb, Kurama tried his best to hold it together, but the amusement shined from his eyes as he looked down at me spread across the floor. With such an abrupt wakeup call, I didn't need a coffee, I needed a Xanax and a huge newspaper in my hand in order to swat them all over the head.
Our attention was directed to a loud thumping sound that drew closer, the sound of someone running soon becoming evident. Kuwabara rushed to the scene, in just a pair of boxers, hair a mess, drool still clinging to his face from how he slept.
"What happened? Is everyone alright? I heard a loud sound, like something fell."
"Try someone." I hissed finally finding the courage to get up after I was certain my brain was in the right place and not dislocated. Slamming the door on everyone, it was time to get dressed and to run a brush through my hair.
"Think she's mad at us?" came from the other side of the door. Mad? Try fuming! And to think I was worried something actually happened to Kurama.
By the time I had finally decided to get out of my room, I had planned an entire war scene and different torture methods involving all the boys. Not for nothing, but the back of my head did hurt.
Inside the kitchen, waiting patiently with a charming smile on his face, Kurama sat at the table, a book on his lap. He slowly got up and poured me a cup of coffee, one which I took reluctantly since I did not trust his reasons at all.
"Would you care to join me?"
Cocking my brows I stared around me waiting for something to hit me, something to drop on my head, something to happen. Sensing my agitated little heart, he chuckled, pulling me gently by the arm, proceeding to sit me down at the table.
"You're being too nice, you are not nice, not to me."
Blinking a couple of time in my direction, something changed in his expression as he leaned in closer.
"As correct as you are about your current distrust in me please know it hurts to hear you say that and to know you think so poorly of me." Looking inside the cup I sniffed the content, we agreed to not play any laxative jokes, but still I had a bad feeling about what was going on. Looking back at him, I waited patiently for him to tell me what was going on "I purposely sat you on that chair so I could glue you to it."
Squinting my eyes, I put the cup on the table and performed a little hop, however true to his word, I was glued to the chair and it to my ass. The morning turned out to be prank nightmare until my eyes fell on the calendar, 1st of April, of course. I did not forget but it did slip my mind and also I never pranked people on that day because they expected it.
"You just ruined a chair and a pair of my pants Kurama."
Looking in another direction he did look sorry for doing that, but the damage was done either way. Struggling to get free proved nonproductive, not even with his help.
"What the fuck is this, glue from Demon World?"
"Very correct Hana, you're learning." Looking at the situation and after analyzing it, he turned back at me and shrugs his shoulders "Nothing I can do unfortunately."
Did he just check out my ass? While glued to a chair? All ration left my brain as I gave up trying to unglue myself and proceeded to wiggle out of my pants after thinking when the last time I went for a wax was and what sort of underwear I was wearing? Kurama's eyes doubled in size as in the end he turned away embarrassed, which frankly was the win of the day for me.
Leaving my pants glued to the chair as a companion for the sly fox, I strut back to my room since my mission was now to get back in a pair of new pants then head outside since I was late for cleaning duty. Every Sunday we would take the day to clean, both inside and outside, no exceptions unless it was winter or rainy. Tasks were assigned, who to sweep the leaves and dirt off the paths, who to mop the floors, who to tend to the garden and so on and so forth.
Spring is mostly unpredictable when it comes to weather, so by late afternoon when we were done with our chores and just wanted to start up a barbeque, fire already been made curtesy of Hiei, rain poured over us by the gallons. It started too abrupt that we didn't even know when it happened, catching us all by surprise. Taking off my shoes, I threw them in a random corner and just ran through the large yard, arms outstretched feeling the rain caressing my skin. It all looked like a prank from above, but it felt every bit right.
Slowing those who were shy at first, came out, the girls being more enthusiastic, but then came Kuwabara, then Yusuke, then Kurama, Hiei not agreeing but still watching over us as we trampled through puddles and ran as long as our feet could carry us, laughter overlapping with the sound of the heavy rain. We were kids again, not having a care in the words as we held hands and had fun. I was sure Genkai wanted this for us as well.
Chapter 6: Drive home
Sunday, the bane of my existence, not because it involved a three hour drive back to the city, or that I had to return to an empty small apartment, but because it meant our time together was once again over. During the week we barely had time to talk over the phone, or send out a text asking how the other was doing, going out and seeing each other was mostly out of the question.
Yusuke and Kurama both worked so they were on a schedule and even if Yusuke could always close the stand when he wanted, most of his free time was spent with Keiko and around town keeping us all safe. Keiko and Kuwabara both were in their second year of University and had classes and exams to worry about. I had a part time job at a non-stop café and nursing classes which took up all my mornings until early afternoon. Being an adult was not a fun process, but it had to be done and we had to survive another week until we managed to meet up again at the temple.
Saying our goodbyes, me and Kurama head down the stairs. I could not remember for the life of me how we ended up in this weekly agreement where we would share a car together but it was now on a solid routine ground which worked perfectly for both of us. On the final step, Hiei waited for us to reach him, looking a bit more relaxed than other days. Extending a folded paper I took it in my hand exchanging a smile and hid it in my pocket.
"See you next week Hiei."
Nodding his head was enough for him, but it was fine for me as well. Kurama offered him a smile of his own and off we went to where I parked the small pickup truck. You may find it funny but it was cheap and worked wonders on the forest roads.
"So what are his demands for next week?"
Looking at Kurama, I fished for the paper Hiei presented me and shrug my shoulders before I gave it a quick read once we were in the car. The fire demon would usually hand a list with items he needed, or thought he needed and I would do my best to comply especially since I found it was endearing how he paid attention to what Yukina needed in the kitchen and would request those things before she called on Thursday with her own list. Of course I would just cross-reference her brother's list but never gave him away.
"Well he needs milk, sugar, vegetables" going through the normal things I reached the end and burst out in laughter "and for me to get a life." Shoving the list in Kurama's hands he smiled sweetly before I turned to start the car and head on our way already cursing that I had to wash it due to all the mud that would stick to it after the rain.
"You've grown on him, that's good."
His voice rang from the passenger seat as I rolled my eyes already blurring out my comeback.
"Yeah, he considers me more a maid and nurse, but sure he likes me."
Rolling my eyes for added dramatic effect, I heard Kurama sigh and through the corner of my eye noticed he moved in his seat. Taking a second to glance his way, he was looking out the window all gloom and serious. Poking his leg did not register for him.
"Hey" placing my hand on his left leg he finally turned to glanced at me as I was trying to drive and also look at him with concern "What's gotten into you?" slowing down the car so I would have more control on the road, I squeezed his leg a bit since he wasn't saying a word "Kurama?"
"It's nothing, really, no need to concern yourself with it." Taking my hand away, I placed it back on the wheel. He wasn't a particularly easy person to be around with and don't get me wrong, he has his pleasant sides, but also a lot of secrets. Yusuke shared some bits with me but in the end words and just words, they never measure up to feelings as they are at the end of the day, and Kurama never shared his feelings with me. Shaking my head slightly I turned on the music and for a few moments he tensed near me.
"You thought I would play What Does The Fox Say didn't you?"
And there he was, back to life, with a smile on his lips and clear eyes watching me. Pointing him to the direction of my rucksack I promised him nothing would bite him, but that he could take back the book he had borrowed me on demon anatomy.
"You have managed to read it?" he sounded surprised and impressed all in one cute little sentence.
"Yes, of course, I take my job very seriously. I did write up a list of questions. Maybe you'll be willing to help me elude the mystery?" as he fumbled for the book, placing it in his own backpack he provided me the reassurance that we would sit together and go through the things I did not understand.
"I wanted to ask you, now that we are alone, if you have some spare time during the week?" Cocking my left brow I did asked him if he intended once again to ditch me "Nothing of the sorts, I wanted to go look at some apartments that are up for rent. I could use your opinion."
"Aww look at you all grown up." Ruffling his hair did not appeal to him but he let me have my fun regardless.
Rearranging the mess I created on top of his head "I do believe it's safe to say I am old enough to be living on my own."
"Well not my fault you are as old as dirt but sure I'll go with you, as long as I don't get stuck with Kaito again."
Kurama has been a real pain to meet up with after we finished high school and always avoided meeting with me all by himself. If he had to, he always made sure to send his apologies or someone else. Like Kaito for example. Besides us being former class mates, we had close to none in common. So you can imagine when I needed to work with someone on my powers, I have tried all options before resorting to him and asking Kurama out on a date so we could talk and work through my questions and fears. I was shocked to see Kaito who actually believed we were on an actual romantic date.
"I do apologise, I do believe I have gotten better at meeting up with you."
"By the way, do you know what Kaito said to me last week?" I asked ignoring his previous statement "He had the nerve to say he's smart enough to get a good job after university and to provide me all I need." I laughed since I thought the idea to be funny especially since he insisted even after I said no, like a gazillion times.
"Pardon?" confusion painted his face as the laughter died on my lips and quickly tried to search for a justification as to why his eyes looked so dangerous.
"Oh no, I think he wants a house wife, something I"
"Do you not have feelings for me?" pushing the break, the motion of the car came to a stop as I inhaled before turning to him.
"Kurama" he patiently waited for me to continue "We're friends" the words left such a bitter taste on my tongue "of course I have feelings for you. I care about you."
His eyebrows drew together as ideas ran though his mind, eyes never leaving my face as he spoke again.
"Friend?" he exhaled through his nose slowly as he leaned in as much as the seat belt allowed him "I am grateful that you consider me that. But what would you say if I told you I want more?"
Blinking rapidly, I tried not to look like I was going to lose it, although I was certain he could hear my heart beat. "Best friend?" anger flashed, subtle but there as he picked up I was playing games. Pinching the bridge of his nose he sat back in his chair after delivering a charming smile.
"Think about it Hana."
Starting up the engine, I felt my eyes sting. I knew where he was getting at, I wasn't stupid, but I just couldn't. I couldn't, not after two years of being friends, not after the rejections and four years of not even a glance in my direction until he found out I had powers. No, just no.
"Sure." I mentioned faking a smile "I'll think about you becoming my super duper friend."
Groaning he let me in on his annoyance and I smirked. The drive back home however was the most awkward we have had.
Late that evening after I had taken a bath and washed my hair ready to face a new week of running around my phone rang, a very pissed off Kurama texting me.
I giggled away since I knew what he was referring to. I was just a bit disappointed I didn't get to see his face. I had hidden in the anatomy book he gave me one of those butterfly contraptions that fly away as soon as you open a book or usually a birthday card. On it I wrote "So what did the fox say?"
"Do you hate me now?"
The reply came fast from him, the phone lighting up and alerting me another message came through.
"Sure, let's go with I hate you." followed by a winking emoji.
Smiling I sat on the edge of my bed. One step at a time Kurama, one step at a time.
Chapter 7: Pick up lines
Whenever I need my heart to settle about Kurama, I go back to the moment the magic faded and his true colours showed, that spring day when Suichi Minamino showed me Kurama. If was after classes and I was on cleaning duty with one of my class mates. She was a good kid, pure soul, good grades, perfect cute puffy cheeks, long lashes girlfriend material. Her only flaw, she liked bad boys and of course it was just a matter of time until one of them broke her heart. We weren't that close, but we did talk and for some reason she considered it alright to break out in tears in front of me.
I have never been a fan of people suffering so when my words could not get her tears to stop I expanded my territory, looking at her fragile soul that was starting to crack under the weight of her feelings. Souls are a fragile thing so Kaito taught me but I already knew that. I let my powers work, healing the pain that was new, since that resonated hard, pulsating like a vein pumping blood, that crack caused by love begging me to close it, to let the soul be whole again.
When the door to our classroom opened, I did not hide away my power as I did not believe many could see it. But when Kurama grabbed me by the wrist and dragged me inside the greenhouse on the high school grounds it was then I knew I done fucked up.
"What were you doing to her?"
His eyes turned to dangerous slits as words chocked inside my throat, menacing being the only word that I could use to describe him.
"I'll ask again and this is your final warning" the plants around us came alive as they drew closer to me "what were you doing to her? You expanded your territory, I felt it."
I have never been in the presence of a demon, or I have but did not know it. I was saved that day, as Kaito opened the door and stepped close to us, unphased by the plants around and reached his hand to me which I took without thinking twice.
"Her territory is not what you think Kurama, you can let her be. It's used for healing."
And it was then when an explanation followed. Needless to say I did not attend school for a few days.
Thursday was one of those days when I needed to tap into our first demon – physic encounter, I needed a reason to still my heart and remind myself he is not who I believe him to be. Finishing my shift, I did not dress out of the work outfit, hoping to God above there wasn't too much wind outside or else everyone would have been able to catch a good look at my underwear. I swear if they made the skirts anymore shorter I would truly consider suing them for sexual harassment or something.
Stepping out on the street I made a run for Kurama's work place in order to not be late for our meeting since we agreed to meet in order to go look at a few apartments and then he would help me with the shopping for the weekend. As I was running and trying my best to avoid bumping into people, a text message arrived on my phone, one I chose to ignore since I didn't want to lose any time. It was either look at my phone and be late and look like a hot mess trying to catch her breath or be on time and have a moment to catch my breath,
Arriving with a few minutes to spear, I ran my fingers through my hair and took a long deep breath in. Pulling my phone from my rucksack it was a text from Kurama: "Apologies, I need to cancel our arrangements today. I promise I will make it up to you." Just when I wanted to reply something silly or witty, he stepped outside of his work building next to a fancy woman who took hold of his arm and smiled bright like she had just won him at the lottery. I just stood there, watching them strut down the street in their best suits and I tugged at my stupid short barista skirt.
Another text distracted me just as I felt like I was about to burst into tears. Looking down at my phone Yusuke's dropped the weekend theme "silly pickup lines" and I just burst out laughing as my mind already thought up some silly ideas. Nodding my head, I pushed my chest forward and went shopping.
Friday I did not attend classes as I head directly to the temple. Once I parked my car, I looked in the back and shouted for Hiei. I needed help because there was no way in Hell I could carry everything up myself. After a few tries he finally materialised near my truck.
"I need your help with these."
Glancing at all the bags he scoffed but picked up a few as he matched my pace, glancing my way from time to time.
"Why isn't Kurama with you? You're early."
I was sure he didn't care much for my reasons so I just kept it short in order to spear him the trouble or having to hear a girl ranting on and on.
"I didn't feel like seeing the jackass just yet."
His eyes widened a fraction, probably taking note of my tone but just shrug it off going straight to what mattered to him.
"Will this situation be a nuisance for our agreements?"
Smiling his way I assured him I would still be in charge of shopping and not revealing to his sister the help he was lending. Satisfied with my answer, he just gave me a short nod as we continued up the stairs. Placing everything in their rightful place I took the bag where I had some stuff in and got to working.
Destination? Kurama's room.
Items required? Sticky notes.
By late afternoon when the last train made its way, I was already done and with Yukina in the kitchen making cupcakes. Hiei sat at the table inspecting the items laid out in front of him and handing the requested ones when either of us needed something. I liked this, the quiet moments that we shared, it was inviting and even if I loved the shenanigans we pulled, sometimes we just needed to relax and just enjoy each other's company.
Once familiar voices reached our ears, it was clear the gang had arrived and our little Yukina went to great them all. After a few minutes, Kurama stepped inside the kitchen, cocking an eyebrow at me, eyes and pose demanding answers.
"You do realise you are helping me clear everything right?"
Shrugging my shoulders I asked Hiei for the sugar, which he ignored as he looked at Kurama. His friend went from unhappy to worried really quick and then to dumbfounded when Hiei responded.
"She's not helping you with anything."
Turning back at me, Hiei held out the sugar and it was then I noticed the Jagan under his bandana glowing. I did want to know if he read my mind or not, but it wasn't like I would get answers out of him. From inside the temple I heard Yusuke and Kuwabara's colourful laughter as they probably saw Kurama's room. Finishing the last batch of cupcake mix, I grinned my teeth when the boys and girls also joined us and Yusuke looked at me.
"Damn girl, are you my appendix? I don't know what you do or how you work, but I feel like I should take you out."
Holding onto my stomach I laughed as Kurama explained to Hiei what we were up to that weekend. "This is idiotic." Came from him as always however I turned at him leaning over the table.
"Hiei, you put sass in assassination." His eyes widened slightly and I could almost hear the wheels in his head turn as he understood the pun made. Tilting his head to the side he demanded more with a very confident smirk "You put the laughter in slaughter dear." Yusuke and Kuwabara were using each other for support while a very impressed Kurama leaned against the counter.
That night I heard the most silly pickup lines ever, Yusuke wining by a mile with things such as "Are you French because Eiffel for you" or "What has 36 teeth and holds back the Incredible Hulk? My zipper." Kuwabara came with "You spend so much time in my mind, I should charge you rent" and "My lips are like skittles. Wanna taste the rainbow?" which I was laughing over but I am sure Yusuke could not look at Skittles the same way ever again.
Kurama though kept silent and did not add not even one witty remark. After dinner as me and him took the dishes in the kitchen he seized the opportunity to ask me why I was mad at him.
"I'm not." And at that point I really wasn't, there was no lie "I'm just disappointed" Taking a seat on a chair, he motioned me to join and I did once I was certain there was no glue on it "I got it, you had other plans on Thursday. So aside from being sexy all the time what else do you do for a living?"
Chuckling he hid his smile behind his hand.
"Smart, but I still want to talk to you."
Shrugging my shoulders, I let my hands fall on my lap, but I still had more to say.
"Look, you don't need to talk to me about it. I saw you with that lass." His eyes widened, surprise evident on his face as I glances to the side "It's fine, I get it. There's nothing to talk about."
"It's a misunderstanding." He spoke slowly, leaning in "It's not what you think."
At that moment I felt my blood boiling. If he was going to tell me he let her touch him out of politeness or something stupid like that I would lose it and flip my lid. Placing my hand over his mouth I muffled the next words he tried to speak and looked in his eyes.
"You know Kurama, you are" pausing I smirked "so hot that even my pants fell for you." He laughed against the palm of my hand eyes lighting up.
"That was a forced fall." He mentioned removing my hand from his mouth "But really Hana."
"No" I took my hand from his "you don't need to justify your actions to me. But I am done with you ditching me Kurama."
Getting up, I grabbed the cupcakes headed to the living room.
If he wanted me to trust him, he had to put a lot of work into it. Perhaps throw a cheesy pickup line. Who knows?
Chapter 8: Relocation - part 1
Now we see what the team does in case of a job. Chapter is in Kurama's POV.
Groaning, I sat up hearing all the commotion going on inside the temple. I had been the last to go to sleep last night since I had to clean up sticky notes, testimony of my work being two disposable bags filled with the little colourful papers. Yusuke's voice rang loud and clear as he was telling Kuwabara off for doing something. Rubbing my right eye I checked the clock to see it showing almost 7 am.
What could possibly be that important? Taking off the covers I noticed the chilly air inside the room which made the hairs on my arms prick, which was rather odd since the heating system had not failed us by then. Even if that were the case, the temperature outside could not drop so low now that spring has properly settled.
Planting my feet on the wooden floor, I immediately jumped back on the bed. A thin layer of ice presented itself waking me up completely with its cold kisses. Managing to slide to the door I opened it sheepishly to notice more ice spread across the floor, Yukina sliding on it with a happy smile on her face. Further down the hall Yusuke was gesticulating with wide arm moves, covering his face from time to time.
"Put some freaking pants on, I won't say it again."
In view came Kuwabara wearing the tiniest pair of shorts I have ever seen on a man and hoped to never see in my entire life. He was parading in just those while Yukina skated ignoring the entire scene. I had the impression that if he strut more they would break at the seams or I would get to see his, ignore that, too late. Glancing at the ceiling, I gathered the last of my patience before tuning to my friends once more.
"Yusuke, what is going on?"
Frustration riddled his face as he tried to catch Kuwabara but was too afraid to touch him in certain places and I did not blame him. Trying to hold my balance until I reached Yusuke and an ice free zone I quickly covered my nose, forehead creasing as the scent inhaled was not to my liking.
"Demon pheromones. Careful, we are not alone."
Ignoring Kuwabara for the time being, he looked at me with wide eyes, disgust wrinkling his small nose as I tried my hardest to ignore the large man next to us since I didn't want to see any more of his private bits.
"Come again Kurama?"
I proceeded to explain to him that in Demon World there were types of demons who could use their pheromones to make other demons do their bidding, or bed them, examples varying depending on their powers. Luckily for us since we had a higher energy level we were not affected, however lower class demons and humans were not immune, Kuwabara attesting to that as he started doing some lunges, both me and Yusuke turning away.
"Get Hiei, we need to find this demon before the situation gets out of hand."
We had a relocation case to attend to, but that was scheduled at 10:00. All I could think of was that the demon had used his power on Kido and Kaito which was not an ideal situation. Scouting further I reached the living room without any other encounters.
Laughter drew my attention back to the hallway as loud footsteps approached me at a rapid pace. Hana came in running, a smile from ear to ear lighting up her entire face.
"Are you safe?"
Her body slammed into mine as she jumped in my open arms forcing me to take a step back in order to steady myself. Wrapping her arms around my neck her voice chimed in my ear with a lively "good morning", however I soon found my knees almost giving out as she pressed her lips against mine, making my emotions run wild. Closing my eyes, I gently got her off me, this wasn't like her so she must have been under the influence of the demon.
She watched me with wide eyes as distance was created, then stuck her tongue out.
"I kissed you so you're mine."
Providing her with my best social fake smile I kissed the top of her head telling her I would be back soon and to patiently wait for me there, her complying surprisingly fast to my demand. Yes, definitely not Hana.
Heading outside all I wanted to do was find that trickster demon. He stole something from us, that was not how I wanted our first kiss to play out and although I did not dislike it, I wanted her to be able to remember it. In the yard, a different scene played out.
Up in a tree was Hiei hitting across the head with a branch Kaito, Kido and Kuwabara who were all wearing the same type shorts. When either of then tried to climb the tree he would retaliate, anger long gone from his face, confusion and the fear of a forever scarred memory inside his brain being the main concern.
"Get away from me you fools before I obliterate you."
Across the terrain Yusuke ran after someone, holding onto his nose although I had already told him the demon had no power over him. The new comer could be classified as a teenager, his small built and slim figure adding to the initial conclusion drawn. His grey hair shun in the sunlight, as he jumped and ran evading Yusuke's attempts, cobalt eyes watching everything unfold as the cheeky grin on his face never faded.
With a swift snap of the wrist, the rose whip was out and around his ankle, the kid falling with a small thud.
"We do not appreciate such games, especially when our job is to judge if you are fit to be relocated or not."
Just like that he stopped and stared at me, eyes round, lip trembling and the next thing I knew he was crying, streams of tears rolling down his cheeks.
"Shesh what a cry baby." Yusuke slapped the demon upside the head demanding answers on how to revert the damage done, however that did not had the desired effect as he cried even harder "Hey listen here smuck, you caused enough issues and I am scarred for life from what I've seen, so it's either you tell me how to reverse this or I beat it out of you. Chose."
Sniffing his nose, he finally mentioned between snobs that a strong smell could counteract the pheromone scent. Heading back to the temple, I brought out a bottle of vinegar that I handed to Yusuke and I took some medicinal alcohol, going directly to the living room and kneeling in front of Hana who smiled when our eyes met.
"You know, I don't intend to hurt you, but somehow all I do is bad for you."
Cupping my cheeks she stared deep in my eyes and leaned closer "Just let it happen Kurama." she softly begged when I turned away. Glancing back at her, I bit my lip, maybe I could indulge myself in one more kiss. Just one more could not hurt.
A short yank distracted me as Hiei pulled me by my sideburn.
"What are you doing fox? Don't take advantage of the situation and wake her up. We got work to do."
Suppressing the desire to say something I nodded my head, he was right, but he still lingered over my shoulder as I made her sniff the strong odor. Batting her lashes a few times, she looked at me confused.
"Why am I here?"
Hiei took on the task of explaining while we headed to the courtyard where the demon boy sat scared as Yusuke glared at him.
"Dude, what the fuck?"
Hana finally saw the other members of the group and in a matter of seconds she was doubled over laughing at how weird they looked. Weird is me being polite. After she had her fill she turned to the demon boy who was looking at her with those wide cold eyes, tears still clinging to his long lashes.
"Hello there, I'm Hana."
He sniffed and growled retreating and bearing his fangs at her causing me to step in front of her, Yusuke already getting ready to fight.
"You smell like him." Hana's eyes travelled from the boy's finger to myself and then back to him, brows raised, placing her hands inside back pockets as she tapped her foot on the ground a few times. With a quick turn she was in my face.
"Tell me Kurama, what did the fox do?"
Chapter 9: Relocation - part 2
Kurama's eyes narrowed telling me it was not the time for fun and games, however I cocked an eyebrow.
I was wearing no shoes or socks, but apparently had the decency to get dressed this morning. Pointing back at the temple, Yukina was skating on her handmade ice ring. Next to the demon who caused the ruckus, Yusuke was fuming and I had three men in tinny tiny shorts in my peripheral vision and believe me I could have lived the rest of my life without seeing that. Hiei was apparently the only normal one, yet the twitch in his left eye put that idea to rest.
"Fine." I sighed and turned back to the demon shooing Yusuke out of my way.
I have not extended my powers to look at their souls and did not wish to do that. Looking over my shoulder Hiei threw off his bandanna, Jagan opening ready to work as we slowly approached the demon. He backed away a bit until his back hit a tree and I stopped motioning to Hiei to give him space.
Crutching in front of him, I heard the gravel moving under someone's feet which probably meant Yusuke and Kurama were ready to attack in case the demon did something. At first glance he looked harmless, however I was not the type to believe and look into first appearances. Trust was won, not given away.
"Are you in any pain?" he flinched although I tried to keep my tone as low and sweet as possible "I can help, will you let me?" his cobalt eyes widened slightly as he looked at my hand that I stretched out in front of him, palm up. Energy glowed as I expanded my territory in order to catch a glimpse of his soul. When he realized neither me nor Hiei were hurting him he finally stopped trying to morph into the tree behind him as we worked.
Souls for me don't have colour, not like Kaito described them and honestly the fact that he had the power to draw out the living soul out of someone made me shiver. When I look at someone's soul, all lights and sounds around me fade and flicker away as I am also immersed inside my own territory. I see something that I can only describe as a sphere, almost transparent like ice or the ethereal wings of a dragon fly. In the middle burns the fire of each soul, some have ragging flames, some have a more subtle light, but it's there nonetheless, tucked away behind a vault of feelings. Those feelings can sometimes be seen on the transparent surface, hurt being the most evident as it leaves scars, literal scars.
The demon in front of me had a normal looking soul, warm and bubbly. The only thing that was out of place was the fog circling the sphere however that I knew was fear and it was normal in these types of situations.
Those wide eyes shifted between me and my hand, feeling I was doing something but couldn't understand what. Slowly, a very shaky hand dared to reach out and finally took mine and I gasped a bit noticing how cold his skin felt, like I was tracing an ice sculpture with my fingertips and I was actually afraid the boy in front of me would melt.
"He's alright, but he is not our relocation for today." Hiei's voice rang behind me and I dissipated my territory, the boy letting me go. To my right Kaito came and I regretted turning my head the moment my eyes fell in line with the bulge in his pants. Getting up faster than I thought possible, the top of my head interacted with his chin.
"Christ put some clothes on, no one wants to see that. From either of you." I pointed out to Kido and Kuwabara as well "Someone go wake up Yukina before the entire temple is an ice ring and could someone please tell me where Keiko is damn it! What the fuck?!" the gang just stared at me, new demon retreating back to the tree while I inhaled and exhaled in rapid successions.
"Hana, Koenma asked us to take on another relocation case, we still have the 10 am one." Grinding my teeth I tried my best to look only at Kaito's face and not explode once more.
"OK Kaito, but by then I expect you to be fully clothed."
"Naturally." He pushed his glasses back up his nose, looking at me without even a hint of embarrassment "Naturally." I mocked him.
Rolling my eyes, I stopped to look at Kurama asking him if we can go ahead of everyone to the relocation meeting point, invitation which he agreed to. Finally getting some shoes on, I tucked some things inside my rucksack and headed out with fox boy through the forest.
The morning had barely started for me and I was already stressed out, mad, scarred for life with the image of Kaito's nope, nauh, even through wanna be pants still a no. Ruffling my hair, I even forgot for a second Kurama was with me.
"URGH!" a pair of curios eyes came in view and mine took a moment to just look at him and not say a damn thing. I just wanted to enjoy his presence but apparently that was something he questioned more than my previous outburst as his brows drew together "Fine, I quit. Tell me what happened? What did I do?"
"Do you really want to know?" he suddenly stopped walking and turned to fully face me. I mentally slapped myself and also prepared for the worst possible scenario.
"Yes, hit me, come on what did I do to you?" Kurama looked at me probably debating if it was alright to let me have it. Finally looking to the side his lips parted and words came out of his mouth, but not before gazing back at me.
"You kissed me." slapping my knees with both hands I let out a small chuckle.
"Damn it Kurama, I thought I did something wrong, raped you or something." giving him my best smile I rose my eyes to witness the most intense look that I have ever seen directed my way. Stepping closer to me, I felt inclined to step back with every fibre of my body, but I held my ground under his predator emerald eyes.
"Do you really think it was a good thing to do?" his body took up too much of my personal space yet not even then did I back down, eyes locking with his is a direct counter attack.
"Are you mad about the kiss?" his gaze widened a fraction, left arm circling my waist closing the gap between us.
"At this moment I am intrigued I must admit. I expected a different response from you, however this is the puzzle I can't quite grasp with you. I can't predict how you will react."
My mind raced, warning me and wanting me to step away as he leaned close and closer. I knew I should have pulled away but in the end wasn't this exact moment what I wanted?
"Kurama." my voice came out as intended, strong and demanding "You are a bastard." he blinked once not understanding what I was on about but I knew exactly what I wanted "I kissed you ok?" I felt his grip getting loose and it was exactly what I hated. This cat and mouse game he played, his uncertain ways and hot and cold lashes on my heart. My hands gripped his shirt, anger making me feel hot. He did not expect that but I was going to let him have it "Take it as we kissed and made up." He looked down as I tapped his chest a couple of times with my open palm also smoothing out the creases I made, brows raised when he stared back at me, that edge in his eyes gone.
Dropping his hand to the side as his jaw clenched for a second with a loud clank, he swallowed and that was the moment I stepped away as he regarded me with a "What just happened face" and also a bit of intent to jump me right then and there. Pointing my index finger at him, I winked.
"Bang! I planted one on you."
His hand cupped his chin as his eyes lit up, a small smile playing on his lips.
"I don't think it counts since you were under the demon's influence."
Ohoooo, we was good. Pursing my lips and tapping them with my index finger I looked up to the trees obscuring the sun light in certain patches.
"Deal." the confusion on his face was priceless "From this moment on fox boy it's on." lines formed on his forehead as his brows drew together "I will give you one kiss, when I want, how I want and when you least expect it."
Running a hand through his bangs, he lowered his gaze, chest slowly expanding. He spoke in a low tone, however hints of amusement coloured his speech "This will be torture for me, but I accept your deal Hana." extending his hand, I took it and shook on it, sealing the deal.
Chapter 10: Relocation - part 3
The events from earlier this morning are not how relocations happen. Koenma is the first one to check the background on the demons allowed to cross into our world. They are brought in by a selected group of other demons and the SDF provide us with a meeting point where they open the portal. Me and Hiei do our part and after that, if we also give the thumbs up, those demons are allowed to stay in an establishment inside the mountains while we work through the remaining paper works and they receive regular visits from our team to ensure everything is going according to plan.
In general, the subject in question comes from Demon World accompanied by Rinku, Chu and sometimes Shishiwakamaru. This morning however things played differently.
Yusuke gave his OK to the SDF soldiers while taking out a cigarette, his usual routine when Keiko wasn't around to tell him off. Kurama sat to my left and Hiei to my right as the portal opened in front of our eyes. Chu was the first one to step through, a huge grin on his face as he waved at us. After him Rinku quickly followed, hands at the back of his head, walking casually like relocations were a picnic in the park.
My eyes went wide as another demon walked in the clearing though the portal. He looked similar to the boy with the pheromones powers, only that his built was sturdier. He radiated confidence from head to toes, his cooper colored eyes watching us with an air of superiority. Behind him followed two more demons I had only heard stories about, Touya and Jin.
As the guys finished their greetings, Jin turned to me with a wide smile and the next thing I knew I was picked us, hovering above the tree line, clinging to the over sized demon's muscular figure as he laughed.
"No, no, put me down."
Holding me by the armpits like I was some sort of toddler his face came in view, curious cobalt beauties watching me as his ears wiggled on his head.
"Ya must be Hana, let me get a whiff of you." I squealed as he sniffed me and laughed rubbing his cheek against mine "You a cutie yeah ya are, stories my ears got wind of ya so I had to see you with me own two eyes yuppee."
One: I hate heights so this wasn't my cut of tea, not like I fancied tea either.
Two: why does he sound Irish?
"Guys, I think I broke her." Finally managing to wrap my hands against the demon leprechaun, I didn't dare look down "She be shaking like a leaf she is." Patting my back I coughed feeling my eyes ready to bulge out of my skull due to his force.
Screaming too close to his ear, Jin discarded me in thin air with a screech and I fell voice breaking out louder as I plunged toward the ground. Before I was one with the dirt, a pair of strong hangs caught me.
Screw recognizing the voice, getting a breath in of the smell was enough to have me scrambling out of Chu's arms faster than he could say booze.
"I'm still mad for whatever you gave me last time, I was sick for three days." Laughing he rubbed the back of his head while I smirked, hands flying to my hips "But I got something for you." winking at each other laughter fell from the lips of several members as we all knew we'd be drinking by the time the sun sets. Calming my nerves from the fright earlier, my legs stopped shaking as I relaxed at the sound of their good mood.
Jin came, hovering near us, taking his pinkie out of his ear that twitched probably trying to see if he could hear properly. His eyes took me in view, palms pressing together an apology leaving his mouth. Walking up to him, studying his expression with a curious stare as my hands squished his cheeks I knew powers were not needed to know his soul was strong and buzzing with energy. As I let him go, a toothy grin was directed at me as I rose my thumb giving him an OK.
"Told ya lot she will like old Jin, dinna I tell ya?"
Hiei cleared his throat, snapping me back to reality as there was still work to be done. Walking in front of the demon we were supposed to relocate, his upper lip twitched as he realized I was human, but it wasn't the first time I have seen such a reaction.
"Alright, let's do this."
Since there were so many around I had to concentrate more in order to capture only me and him inside my territory. Steady energy erupted as his eyes widened when it reached him. He flinched as I stared at his chest and let out an inconsistent breath.
Flames raged at me, his soul agitated and angry. It was bright and menacing, however it wasn't my primary concern. Fine lines, like sand scrapes on glass, were present on his entire soul almost making it opaque. If hurt more, those lines would turn to cracks, from hurt to torment, from pain to misery.
I heard like a chant Hiei's voice as the demon before me glared once out eyes met, anger making him shake on the spot.
"What are you doing human?"
In a split second his hand was coiled around my neck, hot skin colliding with my own and I froze for a moment, mind going numb. Calling back my territory I clearly heard Hiei talking out his sword as several feet created rustle, Kurama moving in my peripheral view, eyes focused on the demon holding me. Such a dangerous look.
Raising my hands slowly I made the OK sign within view of everyone. His grip was strong, but not life threatening as he was probably aware our words sealed his fate.
"Look at me dear" a thin white brow rose hearing that pet name "we don't need to get all grabby on the first date." Slowly I began to move one of my hands in order to get his off me, but he grabbed it first. One look from me made Kurama stop in his tracks as he motioned for the rest to stand down as well "I wasn't doing anything to you" I glanced back at the menace holding me "so don't flatter yourself. You see" I licked my lips slowly "I have the power of X-ray vision, just in case you want to or could hide any weapons that could not be felt on the first search."
The demon's eyes grew large as I practically saw the idea sinking in and in a way it made me gather my thoughts closer to home "Also, behind me there's a punk pointing a finger at us. His attack with tear right through both." His rusty glare traveled to Yusuke as I felt his grip losing its initial force "While I will be brought back, you will go to destination fucked." Hitting him between the legs, earning a collective groan from the male audience, I slipped from his grasp, Hiei pulling me further as he took the stage, sword at his neck, Touya and Kurama grabbing his arms.
Turning to the SDF I shook my head, I didn't like what I saw, direct attack on my person or not.
"Sorry Hana, this one came directly from Enki. We need to keep him safe until the water clears, Koenma gave his approval."
Me and the demon glared at one another, the moment coming to an end when he finally decided it's better to calm down and let Touya and Rinku escort him to the safe house. Letting out a sigh of relief I fanned my face with my hand, feeling all of the sudden hot.
Yusuke threw his hand over my shoulder and smiled wide showing all his perfect teeth as he leaned his weight on me.
"Nice job, I'll give you an extra beer today."
Poking his ribs or else I felt like I would collapse to my knees "You mean drink one extra in my honour?" I giggled when my jab made him jump sideways "Besides I need to get Chu drunk first." We both turned to look at him snickering when I told my partner in crime I had absinthe for him to test.
At the back of the group, Kurama caught my eye as he stared at me, not looking very happy by the looks of it. Sticking out my tongue, he made no gesture all the while Yusuke chatted my ear off about the time he fought Chu at the Dark Tournament, a freshly light cigarette in hand.
It was noon by the time we made it back to the temple and hunger spoke for all of us. We didn't care much for anything else as we all grabbed something and head to the beach for a huge barbeque. Since it was spring the water was ice cold, but that still didn't stop some of the guys from at least testing the water a bit, splashing it around, while others sat and tended to the barbeque.
Yusuke would get told off once again for stealing food off the grill and we'd all laugh at the influence and power Keiko had over him. Jin flew high up in the sky taking in the surroundings with one big happy smile while in the sand Chu was being buried by Hiei and Kuwabara. That's what you get for falling asleep while drunk. Mermaid sand body it is then.
I was a bit disappointed Rinku and Touya stayed behind to watch over our relocated demons, but it had to be done, especially after the commotion they caused. Speaking of, Kurama was talking with people here and there, making small talk, but he wasn't himself as I would steal harsh glances from him and I knew, just knew he had a bone to pick with me despite the outcome of the mission.
With a tap on my shoulder, I turned to look at Kaito who finally returned with Kido from the demon safe house in the mountains. Personally I found it funny how Kuwabara ditched them and head on ahead in order to spend more time with us.
"I see you finally found your decency." Gesturing with a finger to his attire, I rolled my eyes away from him until he spoke.
"There's nothing to be ashamed of Hana, it's just the human body…" raising my hand he stopped talking wrinkling his nose a bit at my probably too brutish gesture, but tried to cover it up quick while rearranging his glasses.
"Yeah, yeah, nakedness I am fine with as long as there's something to see Kaito."
Opening his mouth he closed it, a small clapping sound resonating as if he was a fish on dry land. Jin flew between us, looking at Kaito and then smirking at me.
"Ya need better words on you kiddo if ya want to land this fire cracker."
"What he said." I laughed away and went to get myself a beer and that's all the opportunity Kurama needed. He didn't say a word as his eyes fell on my neck, as his fingers gently lifted my chin and directed my face to the side.
"You're reckless. I know demons who would kill you for less." His voice rang crystal clear, strong and delivering a brutal message yet his eyes betrayed a hint of worry. Taking his hand away from my face, I held it in mine, thumb stroking the back of his hand.
"If you're going to be a bore, don't , please. I need to have fun and forget."
He nodded after several moments, closing his eyes.
"At least be more careful. For me?"
It caught me off guard, but I got it, he was worried and frankly that was not something I intended to explore.
"Alright Kurama, for you."
With that statement our hands separated as we headed to the group.
Nights like this fueled me for the upcoming week. Where we would dance around the bonfire laughing at how silly we looked. When we would sing and yell out, having the world at our feet as sand clasped to our skin and clothes. Nights when then events are not heavy and we are free. Alive, young and a group of misfits. The best there ever is.
Nights when we would sing "Fuck you I'm drunk, fuck you I'm drunk and I'm gonna be drunk until the next time I'm drunk." Nights when you'd fall over being intoxicated and a warm hand would always pull you up. Late nights when you'd teach a demon how to shake it and loose it while spinning like idiots until we'd drop. Nights when I could steal a smile from Hiei after a failed glare. When I would win and be with friends. Actually…
"I don't have friends, I have family."
And all would cheer.
Chapter 11: In vino veritas
Despite my careful planning, regardless of the words picked to deliver the message, I knew the moment I hit "send" there would be one person from inside the group questioning the event. My suspicions were confirmed when Hana read it but didn't reply to the house warming party invitation. I did have a woman companion helping me, but again just like other things daunting on my brain this week, it was another failed plan.
Tuesday morning found me inside a well-known cafe that had several others spread out around town, with the woman companion aforementioned. Taking advantage of my week off, she saw it fit to appear in front of my house using shopping for the new apartment as an excuse. Due to circumstances that revolved around certain needs, I foolishly accepted.
The "Dawn" cafe chain couldn't have looked more similar even if you printed them out, however they did. From placement inside the buildings, to decorations and setting, to the number of chairs and tables inside, they were all the same. I knew, not because I was an avid coffee drinker, but because Hana worked in one of them just two bus stops away from my current location.
That morning the fates did not shine on me. As I forced myself to smile in front of my company, she took the opportunity to place her hand on top of mine as her phone came in view, a picture of a living room decor dangling in front of my face.
"It looks interesting, however it's not truly what I am looking for."
Setting the phone on the table between us she scrolled further but didn't feel the need to take her hand away as I tried my hardest to focus on her well placed intentions of helping me out.
The people around me were of no interest that early in the morning so I failed to pay attention to them, or didn't really care to, until a familiar scent reached my nostrils. Raising my eyes from the telephone on the table, Hana was inside the cafe, dressed for work and tugging at her skirt as the manager looked like the happiest man on Earth now that help had arrived. My body tensed on the spot seeing her. She was pale, dark circles casting a shadow under her eyes as she suppressed a yawn shuddering lightly.
Her eyes didn't meet mine, yet her hands curled to fists gripping the fabric of her work attire between her fingers, all while anger did not reach her face as she smiled big assuring the manager all would be well.
As she went behind the counter, I got up, slamming on accident my knee against the table, my hand withdrawing from under my companions. Placing my hands to steady the cups on the table, I once again forced the corner of my lips upwards.
"Apologies, I need to use the restroom."
As I retreated passing the main bar, she didn't lift her eyes as her hands worked washing cups and small saucers used to serve coffee for the customers. She was mad, the tightness in her jaw speaking to me louder than any words could. Stopping in my tracks, I reevaluated my options, going to pay for the drinks instead.
Her name rolled off my tongue as she took the money providing me the receipt, hands quickly grabbing a cloth to wipe the bar's already clean surface. She hit my hand on purpose, a warning from her side, the rim of her eyes turning red and my heart sank. Hana didn't cry in front of others, she bottled everything up like a stubborn child.
Before I could say anything my companion came near me lacing her hands around my arm.
"I really like the coffee served here Suichi." Forcing a smile, Hana rose her eyes and thanked her without batting an eye "Oh dear, your eyes are red, are you alright?"
"Yes mam" she sniffed her nose slightly "just the allergies this time of year. Especially to roses."
It stung, more than I had even phantom it would. Her eyes travelled to me, a weak smile clinging to her lips with its last breath as she spoke "See you next Tuesday sir" nodding her head to us both "Mam" as my eyes went wide. The line delivered was a word play, one she laughed over thinking it was one of the best passive-aggressive things that could be used at work. It actually went "C U Next Tuesday" resulting in her calling me a CUNT to my face.
That Tuesday wasn't over by a long shot. Late afternoon found me in front of her apartment, the sound of the bell echoing behind the closed door. After several moments it opened, her face appearing just a bit through the crack.
"This isn't a good time."
Pushing the door further with my hand, the light from the hallway shined on her face and that confirmed it, my eyes were not playing tricks on me. Her right cheek was red, a clear hit on her face ragging with raw pain.
"Who is that Hana?"
Her father's voice rang angrily before stepping near her. I have seen this scene play out before and I loathed it. On graduation day she sat near her parents looking so small and broken despite her accomplishments. It was then she told them she would not be going to medical university.
"Minamino, long time no see."
He pulled her by the arm, her eyes squinting at the force exhibited by a hand he had not been able to use in a while. She must have come forth about her powers, healed him in order to prove her worth. Grinding my teeth, I bowed trying my best to maintain appearances.
"It's good to see you too sir."
"Yes, yes" he waved me off pushing Hana back inside "Please come back tomorrow, we travelled all the way here to spend some time together as a family."
The frightening sobs of Hana's mother reached me and I took a small step coming dangerously close to her father, my hand already reaching out to Hana. Her eyes told me to stay away as her head shook, the door slamming shut in my face. That look told me to trust her abilities just like in the missions we had together, that she could deal with the situation, but it made me sick to my stomach knowing she was there alone with that tyrant.
While walking down the stairs, glass shattering drew my attention as I ran back only to stop as Hana's territory expanded beyond her apartment, voice dripping with spite as another hit landed.
"I can do this all day."
I could not walk inside her territory, I could not let her see me.
That night my steps led me to Yusuke's food stand, my body craving a hot meal, my brain some understanding. Greetings were as per usual, cheerful and short, as I slid on one of the chairs and rested my chin on top of my hand. Yusuke's hands worked as he prepared the food, his mouth always smiling as he talked about his day and the customers he had.
After a couple of minutes a glass was shoved in my free hand, a pair of beaming eyes taking me in.
"You want to talk about it?" my head inclined as I asked what he meant, the answer coming at me fast "You look like your cat died or something. What's up?"
Setting down his knife, the pot behind him bubbled away as my lips touched the alcohol inside the glass.
His smile radiated as he confessed it was a gift from Chu. A much appreciated one at that as I indulged in it once more.
"I've made a mistake Yusuke. With Hana."
I cleared any confusion that was forming on his face. Lighting a cigarette, he took a long grab before grinning at me.
"What you two had a lover's quarrel?" without bothering to correct him on the "lover" part as it would have taken up too much time without a positive result, I concentrating on relating the events that took place "Her dad eh? Sounds to me he's a bastard asking for some old fashion ass whooping."
While the thought did cross my mind, I doubted Hana would have appreciated such an approach.
"Come to think of it" Yusuke turned tossing the cigarette bud in a random corner then removed the lid on the pot and stirred "she never really did tell me anything about her parents."
"In more ways than one" I spoke to his back finishing the liquid inside my glass "you two share a lot of similar traits."
Presenting me the bottle without turning I poured some more and left it on the counter.
"Maybe." He tasted the food before adding another ingredient "But she's tough as nails, just you watch her come up with another crazy idea this weekend." I could not help the chuckle flowing past my lips. I was almost certain this time around I would find my furniture glued to the ceiling or something along those lines "However" Yusuke turned to me "You need to make up your mind lover boy."
I have seen my friend on more than one account acting like a big brother for her and I was certain if I were to hurt her, he'd punch me first and after that listen to what I had to say.
"The situation is a tad more delicate Yusuke." And as the alcohol loosened my tongue I managed to tell him how the mysterious female companion was the daughter of my step father's friend. They have recently returned back to the city and since she didn't know anyone, I was the best option "My step father would like for us to be together and I have given him my word I would at least try."
As food was placed in front of me, my appetite was long gone as more words slurred out of my mouth.
"I find it difficult to let my family down." But I was letting Hana down.
Yusuke laughed, throwing the towel he had just used to wipe his hands clean, across his shoulder letting it drape.
"Listen, I may be no expert, but things are pretty simple. You either like her or you don't, but you can't play both." Scratching his cheek he looked up before making eye contact with me once again "I mean I'm sure you're smart enough to do that, but that's just rotten."
"Thank you for the vote of confidence, I think, but I assure you" my tongue failed to comply all the way "I have no interest in her."
He seemed satisfied with my answer, however that did not quiet my heart. I had to do something, to act before more mistakes and misinterpretations took place. However when from the fortress of his lips left the question "Why Hana then?" my heart left like it exploded.
Because she bounced back like a boomerang always in my face?
Because she burned so bright that my eyes could barely comprehend her?
Was it because maybe her wits travelled beyond her aura?
And soon after my thoughts blended and mend into a crisis inside my head, I saw her crystal clear, on the roof of our school back on graduation day, smug look shining through her eyes, smile radiant as she spoke "I will surprise you, remember that silly."
Next thing I could remember was feeling Yusuke's back against my chest.
"So looks like you really like Hana."
I laughed feeling the heat rising in my body.
"I do, she's my most precious rose."
Third thing I remember, I woke up in my apartment, the book I lent Hana on demon anatomy spread across my chest, phone ringing somewhere in the apartment. My head buzzed in pain as I got up noticing I didn't even bother changing my clothes the previous night. I must have gotten very drunk since Yusuke had to carry me and I was lacking serious chucks of events that happened. I would need to apologise later and never touch alcohol from Demon World while having a human body.
Apparently last night I managed to stumble over a few things, but thankfully I don't have much inside the new apartment apart from the furniture it came with. My phone was in the bathroom sink and I could not remember for the life of me why it was there.
Checking it, I had a missed call from Yusuke, I called Hana at 02:14 and the words "Fuck you!" were sent by her via text at 08:00, that was five hours ago. What did I say to her? Groaning I went to sit on the couch as my mind tried to work but failed miserably. I was sick, hungry, my breath smelled awful and it was pretty clear to me I must have thrown up some time last night. Taking a shower and brushing my teeth were immense tasks that took an hour to finish, but finally I was clean, dressed and ready to head out for some pain killers and food. The apology to Yusuke and Hana could wait.
The doorbell distracted me from my fluttering blurred thoughts and upon opening the door in just a few seconds I had a bag pushed in my hands and earned a hard slap on the forehead that resonated, the headache making me squint my eyes.
"Afternoon Hana." I couldn't look her in the eyes just then as I turned my attention to the bag in my hands "What is all this?"
"You sounded drunk last night."
To my ear her phone was pressed as I heard myself trying to talk. Pinching the bridge of my nose I felt like sinking into the floor as the voice message played to me my drunken self from last night telling her how I liked her, that she was sweet and that I hoped she could forgive me for upsetting her and also since of course I wasn't done to forgive me in case I woke her up with my call.
"Yeah, that happened foxy boy so I'll be going now. Hope you sober up soon."
"Hana, wait!" I set aside the bag calling out to her, turning on her heals she smiled my way.
"Sorry Kurama, I have stuff to do."
I had to act fast, to explain in just a few words, to at least set her mind at ease.
"I'm not interested in her."
Hana's arms crossed over her chest, eyes locking with mine as her brows rose, from her mouth a bubble gum balloon grew bigger and bigger until it popped.
"Mhm and I am sure all girls who you refuse are all happy like she was and get all touchy feely up in your personal space. Do I look stupid?"
Damn, point taken and message received loud and clear. Taking a few steps I got closer to her.
"Five minutes Hana, that's all I'm asking for."
She chewed on her bubblegum thinking the proposition over and I could smell the watermelon flavor coming from her mouth.
"No Kurama" damn again "as I say I got stuff to do today and tomorrow also a no. I'm heading out with Kuwabara and Yukina since they are arriving in town for your Friday house warming party and Jin wants to also come see everyone." I have never seen Jin wanting to come to the city and I had a hard time believing he would fit in "So I have to go buy some human clothes for him because God forbid I don't know what Kuwabara gave him." she ticked off all the things on her fingers, one by one as she explained to me her plans "And then we have a date."
A date? For a second I thought I didn't hear her right. My brows drew together as my mind questions everything she just said to me. Jin was happy to meet her that's true however he wouldn't have taken a liking toward her surely. Right? But then again he never wanted to come to the city and always waited for us to arrive at the temple during the weekend.
"Don't sweat it Kurama" she continued since I wasn't saying a word "I'm sure everything will be fine, besides my personal life is none of your concern. Got it?"
She was still mad and this was her pushing me away, warning me to not get close as she didn't trust me. But her and Jin? Then again why did it sink in further when she waved at me and was on her way?
"See you on Friday jackass."
Why did I fear a simple date would grow into something more? Because I hurt her and I felt I like I was close to loosing her. That's why.
Chapter 12: Cotton kisses and kaleidoscope colours
Thursday at two in the afternoon I sprinted out of my class room and got in my "fancy" pick-up truck in order to get myself to the train station on time to pick up the lovely bunch that would soon arrive in the city. For some reason my heart was beaming out of my chest, the idea of having a good time filling it. I was going to have fun and no one could stop it, not a damn single thing.
After pulling off longer hours in order to clear my schedule, facing Kurama and my parents randomly showing up, I was done with the week halfway through it. Now it was time for some me quality time away from what almost tore me apart.
I had a night shift before the fox incident and with one hour to go the other café manager called asking for a replacement since one of the girls called in sick, so I volunteered. Wish I hadn't by this point, but in the end it just goes to show life is hinting me to step away from Kurama. I don't belong in his fancy circle and his set up perfect human life, I knew that ever since we were in school.
After work just as I was heading to classes, Yukina called to tell me Kuwabara won four tickets to an amusement park close by and it sounded interesting to try out. The next thing I knew, before I even got a chance to say something and also try not to get a ticket or park my car in another one's rear on the road, Jin's strong accent rang in my ear and he sounded so happy and eager that I just had to say yes.
My parents were not part of the equation and once I decided to shut them up and show them why I had other plans than becoming a doctor, the events didn't work out in my favour. I swear they just made me, by accident I might add, and thought hey what the fuck, let's profit, make her study her ass off and then she'll pay us back by working a fancy job so we won't have to. I'm saying this because father told me so and when I rebelled he made certain I was punished.
Shaking my head, pushing back the thoughts as I parked the car, I took in my hands the bag sat in the passenger seat and head out. Today I will have fun. Today is going to be all about that.
When the train pulled in and the happy group got off, the first order of business was to push Kuwabara and Jin inside the men's room in order for Jin to change in something more than an overcoat and a hat, which looked creepy I might add.
Several minutes later they were out, Jin tugging at his clothes, looking uncomfortable although I tried my best to get him comfortable ones. From flats, to pants resembling his, to the top and hoodie, he pulled at all of them especially the beanie on his head.
"I'm sorry" I extended my hands trying to arrange it properly and brushed the bangs out of his face "humans are barely getting used to the idea of demons so things are a bit hectic for now. We'll get better, I promise and then you won't need to hide your ears and horn." His eyes fell on my face as I worked.
"Don't ya worry yur pretty little face, us Shinobi are used to disguising ourselves. So ya going to show old Jin around?"
Smiling I nodded my head and turned to the group in order to make the plan since it was rather early for the fair, especially since we wanted to stay until the end in order to watch the fireworks, so we all crowded up in my truck, Jin at the back with the wind in his face and headed to Yusuke's food stand to fill our bellies and then head off to the amusement park.
Yusuke was more than happy to see us although the paring was odd. Usually him and Keiko were the ones going out with Kuwabara and Yukina when they were both in town, but he payed no mind or commented.
"Hey" he placed the ramen bowl in front of me and then a hand on my shoulder "you alright?" all eyes were on me and all I could do was look at him with a wide stare.
"Yeah peachy, why?"
"No reason." He patted my shoulder and smiled but his eyes were too serious and then it hit me. Letting the others eat, we stepped away from the food cart.
"Kurama told you?"
Rubbing the back of his head, he finally admitted to as much and I did not appreciate it. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy he cares for my well-being, but it's not how I like things to play out.
"Look" he finally mentioned shoving his hands in his pockets "if you want to talk about it, just know I'm here. I might not be the best at giving advice but I know how it is to have a dysfunctional family."
Nodding I looked to the side "I'm fine. I'm healed, I got this Yusuke. You think about the weekend theme." After an exchange of smiles, we went back to the cart, finished eating and then we drove off to the amusement park.
Yukina and Jin have never been to one of these so me and Kuwabara took on the task of explaining and I could tell right away they didn't enjoy the huge crowd of people, but once we got in and started to browse the stands, they seemed to relax slightly.
"Jin, try not to get lost ok? Here you can hold my hand." He looked down and took it, his hand a lot bigger than mine and giggled like a school girl.
"If ya wanted to hold my hand just say to Hana."
Rolling my eyes I laughed and pulled him near a stand ordering two cotton candies.
"Here you go big guy."
I laughed when he sniffed it, a bit sticking to his nose as he looked at the cotton candy melting against his skin with cross eyes.
"Wha is this fluffy cloud then?" taking a bit from mine, I held it to his mouth. Slowly he took it, eyes growing wide "Holly sweetness Hana."
Behind him Kuwabara and Yukina were snickering away but I had to hand it to Jin. For such a buff tall demon he was cute as Hell, curious like a small child who warmed my heart and I couldn't contain the stupid smile tugging at my lips.
"Come on, I'll take you up on the bumper cars."
He blinked at me as I wiped his hands clean from the sugar with a wet tissue so we wouldn't stick together.
"Wha about that one?"
Following his finger I couldn't get what he was trying to show me until he placed me in front of him and took my hand, pointing it to something that looked like a huge hammer that would spin you in the air.
"You want that?" my knees already felt weak knowing I would be up in the air.
"Yup and that." He pointed me to the roller coaster "And that for the fire show." Lastly pointing to the ferris wheel. I felt sick to my stomach and looked at Kuwabara for help however he was making plans on what to ride with Yukina, smiling at each other as she was holding onto a stuffed plush animal he had won for her. Turning to Jin's broad chest I looked up at his toothy grin.
"Jin" I started to fidget with my sleeves "I'm afraid of heights." Even from under his beanie I could tell his ears stopped wiggling as his face fell flat "But alright, I'll ride those with you."
He jumped fist up in the air "Don't ya worry about a thing, Jin is with ya." Well if I was going to ride something as dangerous I'd sure as Hell chose a demon that could fly, just to be on the safe side.
"Kuwabara, meet you at the ferris wheel in two hours?"
"Sure thing. Come on Yukina."
He took her hand and smiled big as he led her through the crowd and I also found myself smiling. I really loved their dynamic, but what got me more was the fact that she didn't even care he's human. Same went for Yusuke and Keiko. Damn you Kurama, using that as an excuse.
"Ummm Hana" Jin tapped my shoulder as we were heading to the horrid hammer ride "I don't have any human money on me."
"Awww bless" I laughed "it's alright, with Kuwabara's ticket we get to ride each one for free. And for the drinks and food don't worry about it, it's my treat."
"Then" he pulled me by the hand a bit "we'd need to go out again and I will take ya somewhere nice."
"Are you asking me on a date wind master?"
The idea rolled in his mind before he smiled down at me "Ya bet ya I am, my ears twitch when I am with ya."
I guess it was that simple to go out with a demon. The time spent at the lines went by fast as we chatted our heads off and thank to his thick accent the majority around us didn't get half the things he was saying, well me included, but I did ask him to repeat. He told me about Demon World, his fight with Yusuke at the Dark Tournament and how he had a good wind to him. How he was fascinated by Human World and wanted to experiment more of what it had to offer.
I told him about my favourite foods and we shared a pair of head phones so that I could introduce him to some music I liked. I explained to him how it was my dream to work as a healer for demons at the temple and he was so easy to talk to.
With Jin what you saw was what you got. A simple intricate and relaxing being to have around. No wonder Yusuke liked him so much.
He held my hand as I screamed while we were plunged in the air and laughed at me for not appreciating the wind in my face.
By the time we sat in line for the ferris wheel ride, my hair was a mess, I was shaking and slurping on a slushie like it was going to save my life. Jin patted my back making me cough.
"Hey easy, I'm more breakable that you."
His hand dangled in thin air before reaching the back of his head.
"Sorry Hana, didn't mean it."
"I know" I said waving him off "you just need to practice containing your strength."
Our attention turned to Kuwabara who yelled from ten people across that there were only a couple of seats available until the fireworks and asked if we wanted to switch.
"Neah, it's fine, you take Yukina, we're good."
Jin also added "No sweat pal, she with me. Meet you up at the fluffy cloud stand after."
Leaving the line my next mission was finding a good spot for the show. From the corner of my eye I saw Jin having an internal battle as he was trying to grab my hand.
"What are you doing?"
He jumped, putting a hand to his heart "Geez I was so concentrated on not hurting you, don't scare me like that Hana."
I couldn't help but swoon as a giggle bubbled inside my chest. Taking his hand he slowly wrapped his fingers around mine, then held out hands up and pointed at them proudly.
"We need to find some higher ground Jin in order to have a good view of the fireworks."
Flashing me a wide smile he pulled me through the crowd, managing to take us behind some stands, him listening closely for something.
"Hold on tight."
When the first boom set off we were leaving the ground and flying up in the air. We were so high up that all the fireworks were in plain sight, a kaleidoscope of colours popping in front of our eyes, making us blink with each explosion, however I knew this was as close to something gorgeous as I'll ever get. All that sparkle and beauty and I was a witness to it all.
"Hana" I looked at Jin holding onto him although he also had a good grip on me "thank you."
Smiling at him I knew that in the end I was the one who should be thanking him. In the end he trusted a total stranger to lead him inside a crowd of humans and show him around a new place.
"No Jin, thank you."
A faint blush coloured his cheeks as he looked at me and them to the side embarrassed.
"Ya sweeter than the fluff cloud Hana. Don't be looking at me with those wide eyes or I might have a heart attack."
In a few seconds we were both laughing. What an odd and silly thing to say.
Chapter 13: House warming party
Alrighty then I have made a writing schedule after being on a roll for the Nano writing camp challenge. What does the fox say will appear twice a month, on the 1st and 3rd weekend of the month. Hope you enjoy it.
Before the clock on my wrist indicated five in the afternoon, I had already been in every room at least twice, checking to see if things were indeed all in order. Drinks and snacks were arranged on the kitchen counters and table as per everyone's favorite. Toilet paper, hand soap and fresh towels in both bathrooms, enough chairs and pillows for everyone were set in the living room so all was left was for the people invited to arrive. I did it, I managed to get everything together just in time.
My heart leaped inside my chest every time the doorbell rang as all those feelings were circling only one name. Hana did depart with a promise that she'll also join us, however I was having a hard time believing her words. Hana would not face me until she had formed inside her head a weird sort of resolve for her feelings.
She had done so since the very beginning and it only intensified when she found out who Suichi Minamino really was. After several days of absence she finally came back and decided to never manage me. She would always help me preserve the act, however when we were with the group or on very rare occasions alone, she would speak her mind, concoct witty lines that contoured her personality more and never backed down. The Hana from school was not the Hana from the group that was certain, despite her trouble maker track record, however from under her mischiefs and all the ruse, she shined as fearless, fierce and a true friend. Hmmm….friend…I was beginning to dislike the word when referring to her.
First to step through the door were Keiko and Yusuke, the latter letting out a whistle at the sight of my apartment. Apparently when I was drunk I was adamant to keep the place a surprise.
"Damn Kurama" he exclaimed talking off his shoes and heading straight inside "you must be paying a fortune for this bachelor pad."
Smiling I thanked Keiko for the gift and set it on the spare table in the living room, watching Yusuke's jovial spirit bounce around "Nothing I can't handle." glancing around the house my eyes fell on Keiko "Although it is rather big for only one person." Keiko caught on, Yusuke being too distracted to take notice of my words "Please help yourselves to drinks and snacks."
"Will your parents be joining us?" Keiko enquired gently touching my arm in a reassuring manner but I informed her I already celebrated with my family the previous night.
The doorbell rang once more and inside the apartment stepped Yukina and the Kuwabara siblings.
"Sorry for being late man, we had to do some shopping for the temple and help Hana with everything." Concern set between my brows, but I forced it away flashing them a smile.
"No need for apologies my friend, I am happy you could make it. Did you enjoy yourselves yesterday?"
The reason for my question was not because I cared to hear about the rides at the amusement park or the types of food they tried out, but to learn more about the interaction between Hana and Jin. I felt my stomach churn when learning they actually spent most of the time apart. Setting the presents on the table I couldn't help a sigh leaving my chest. In the end if she were to go with Jin I couldn't say that I blamed her.
"You look positively miserable for someone hosting a house warming party." Turning I tried to fake a smile in front of Shizuru "Don't bother. Can I smoke?" gesturing with my hand she went ahead as I slipped in the kitchen to retrieve an ashtray bought for such an occasion.
"I must admit I find myself in a serious predicament." She nodded her head, yet her expression didn't change the slightest.
"She's a good kid, but in the end the choice belongs to you two."
I couldn't help the shock that surged through my body. Had Hana talked to Shizuru about me? Thoughts were interrupted by the ringing doorbell revealing Botan greeting me with a cheerful smile. It was almost six in the afternoon and Hana was being more than late.
Opening a beer I took a mouthful and tried to entertain myself with small talk and not keep my eyes on the seconds passing. At 18:15 on the dot, the doorbell rang once more, this time my prayers being answered as inside my home stepped Hana with Jin.
"Bloody Hell bud wha' luxury." He immediately went scouting like Yusuke previously had, but Hana remained behind smiling as she placed in my hands three gifts.
"This is from me" she winked "this is from Jin. And this" she pulled me closer and whispered in my ear "from Hiei. That's why I'm late." Her lips pressed against my cheek, adding a tender kiss in the mix then retreated placing her index finger to her lips "Shhh, secret ok?" she took me by surprise that I didn't even know what was a secret, the kiss on the cheek or that the gift was from Hiei, so I just found myself smiling and nodding.
"Thank you for coming Hana."
Her wide eyes watched me for a few moments not addressing a though that lingered inside her mind.
"And miss the party? Let's be serious."
I could finally relax. Everyone came and all were enjoying themselves. Soon Yusuke set out the weekend theme, we all had to use strange phrases from all around the world so for me at least it was clear the weekend would be riddled with a lot of "what" questions being addressed left and right.
"So tomorrow we're all going to go by train and we'll meet up at Hana's first to help out with the groceries." Kuwabara laid out the plan for the morning as I sat in a chair and continued enjoying my beer.
"At least that way I know Hana won't be able to pull any tricks." She looked my way, a devious smirk playing on her lips.
"What makes you think I haven't already?" winking at me laughter burst inside the living room. Of course she planned something, her mind never did rest.
Around eight while we were sitting listening to a story Yusuke was telling, the doorbell rang again.
"Expecting someone else?"
Shaking my head I got up to see who was at the door, a slight panic rushing inside my chest when I saw in my doorway none other than the female companion that was only going to cause me more grief.
"Is this a bad time?" she searched beyond me as I heard Hana whisper something called "code Suichi Minamino" and in other circumstances I would have laughed but that was certainly not the feeling flowing through me.
"I have some friends over, however you are not intruding." Stepping aside, I let her in.
Once inside the living room, she latched onto my arm as I stiffened against her touch.
"Everyone, this is Sora, a friend of the family."
They all sat up and waved awkwardly as they blurred out their names almost in unison, a sight painful to watch. Hana turned, her arms dropping from arranging Jin's party hat over his horn, his ears going down as she looked to the ground. With a sigh, she braced herself, lifting her eyes and walked in front of us with a wide smile.
"Hello, nice to make your acquaintance, I'm Hana." Sora let me go taking a small bow and then exclaimed.
"You're that barista. I didn't know you were friends." She searched for my eyes, lacing her fingers with mine, but I couldn't take my eyes off Hana. Everyone was just standing there witnessing the scene waiting for something to happen. Jin took a step extending a hand to touch her and I felt my chest tighten. Damn it, no more, I couldn't bare it.
"No." removing my hand from hers I felt like trying to escape a serpent. Stepping next to Hana, my hand wrapped around her waist before Jin could get a hold of her "I tend to keep my life private, but since we are here, yes I do know her." Taking her right hand I put it to my lips, brushing against her skin a gentle kiss "She's someone very precious to me."
The room fell silent, apart from a muffled laugh from Yusuke, a soft "bingo" whispered from Botan and a proud fist pound against Kuwabara's chest. Sora glared at me for a brief moment before faking a smile.
"I see" she barely managed not to hiss that through her teeth.
"Would you like a drink?" I insisted my voice dangerously low, but with new found strengths since Hana didn't bolt from my side.
"Perhaps another time." She bowed facing the crowd as she took her leave. Once the door was closed the room exploded with cheers, Hana still in the center of the room looking dumbfounded.
"The fuck just happened?" left her lips ans I shrug my shoulders offering her an innocent smile.
"Whatever do you mean Hana?"
Her mouth opened slowly, but she took her time to speak "I'll get you for this Kurama."
Before placing the beer to my lips I smirked "Of that I am sure."
After everyone left, I placed everything in their rightful places and finished cleaning up. Once that was out of the way, I made myself a cup of tea and sat on the living room floor opening the presents received.
Yusuke and Keiko concentrated on kitchen based gifts, getting me a set of glasses and a coffee filter machine. Yukina and Kuwabara bought for me a vase and a small painting of a field with sunflowers to hang up on my wall. Wonder if they know the flowers represent longevity and feelings of adoration and platonic love towards a person? Perhaps I am overthinking it. Taking a sip from my cup my hands worked on opening the gift from Shizuru which was a set of frames for pictures.
Jin brought me a clock to hang up on the wall, however I was more than certain Hana was the one who payed for it. Hiei's present revealed a scarf and I couldn't help but laugh imagining how the interaction between him and Hana played out. But it did warm my heart to know he travelled all this way to give a gift even if he didn't join us. Also he trusted Hana, would never admit it, but he did and was certain she would never betray his secrets.
Last one was Hana's which I opened carefully, expecting something to fly out of it again, however no pranks were played. Inside there was an album she had put together with pictures she took over the years alongside some fox shaped stickers. Smiling, I pealed one off and stuck it next to a picture of us.
"Are you sure Hiei?" his fiery eyes rose to look at me, the certainty in them never wavering.
"You just do your part, leave the rest to me."
Nodding my head, I proceeded to my destination Hell bent on distracting my brain from the events of this morning. Early, like super early for me at least, I received a visit from Jin. He was the first one to come to my apartment although the group already agreed on an hour to drop by and help me with all of the bags. Having slept just a few hours did not make me a very pleasant company either and I was sure to give him a heads up. Minutes after his abrupt visit,though the freaking balcony I might add, as the filter was bubbling away making a huge pot of coffee, my doorbell rang, Kurama being revealed in the door way.
Although I was so tired, I did not fail to see, well how should I put it: a reflection of myself from the past week. All the signs were there, falling rapidly in place before my eyes as he glanced over at Jin, happily humming a tune to himself while flipping through the TV channels. For a moment my mind went sideways as I found myself wondering if I paid the cable this month. Getting back on track Kurama showered me with the same insecure look I also gave him in the past, his eyes asking questions, distrust rooting in his heart and all I could do was wave him off.
"Don't, apparently you two had the same funny idea what I would be equipped for early visitors and talking. I am not, so" I used my thumb to smoothen the wrinkles forming between Kurama's brows "don't give me that look." He inhaled sharply, muscles relaxing and I was left thinking what the fuck was that all about? Needless to say, I ignored them all the way to the temple.
Getting back to the current situation, target? Kuwabara's room. Whenever we would arrive at the temple, he would retreat to his room to take a shower after the hike, style his hair once more, wear perfume, the works.
Today, for reasons unbeknownst to me, Hiei was feeling generous in the mischief department. I didn't get it, I didn't stop to think of the reasons behind it and just like the rest of this morning, I was ready to take on any distraction I could get from the two redheads wishing to talk to me.
With a bag of sticky slime, I swear I buy the most weird shit possible, I slowly entered my future victim's room after I made sure he stopped the water and had time to be at least decent. Or at least I hoped so because I didn't want an eyeful of his junk, but I wasn't going to back down and disappoint Hiei.
Slowly I creped inside his room where he stood, huge towel around his waist, his hands working to style his locks in front of the mirror. Catching a glimpse of me, he turned startled and confused.
All the slime was sticking to him and I turned, running as he chased after me at full speed down the hall. In my mind I calculated how much longer I had until the diversion happened. In a split second Hiei picked me up, leaving me breathless due to his strength and speed, Kuwabara slipping on some oil we set out on the floor, body heading directly into a wall.
Using most of the strength I had, I managed to lift and hold the large male on my back with the help of Hiei as the demon worked to duct tape him to the wall in record time before he snapped out of his daze and prior to my legs giving out from his weight. By that time it was already too late as poor Kuwabara yelled at us, me laughing and Hiei smirking while twirling the duct tape on his index finger.
"This is for scaring me for life you fool." Damn, Hiei could sure hold a grudge "What next woman?" my brows lifted as I was not used to him as a partner in crime, but perhaps he missed us. Or maybe it was because I brought him new shirts and candy. Grinning in his directing I motioned for him to come closer and whispered my next plan in his ear.
"Hey stop ignoring me and get me down. You two are really stepping on my cake."
Sharing a confused look among ourselves I could only predict he was using the weekend theme and he meant that he was mad?
"Sorry Kuwa-chan you needed to pay for not playing with us like you used to."
Waving it him, me and Hiei took the direction of my room as balloons needed to be filled with water. As we were working, one at the sink and the other at the bathtub, Hiei suddenly had an enquiry.
"What is your plan for the fox?"
"None of the usual." His hands dropped everything as he looked at me, stopping the water "It's something I need to do alone." Winking at him, I concluded there were enough balloons "What?"
"You shouldn't let his old soul scare you."
He managed to surprise me with that statement, but Hiei did always have these certain moments when he showed he really cared about his band of trouble makers. A "thank you" would have made him retreat back in his shell so I just nodded once to show him I got it.
"Shall we?" I asked placing the balloons in a plastic bag and extending one for him to use. As we were ready to emerge, a knock was heard at the door before someone entered.
"Hey Hana you here? Kurama wants to know how you managed to strap Kuwabara to the wall." Me and Hiei shared a look as Yusuke's footsteps approached "What are you doing, taking a dump?" After an unanimous nod, Hiei opened the bathroom door and we both attacked Yusuke.
Laughter and running around soon echoed inside the temple as splashing sounds drew people together.
"Ha, take that Hana."
I laughed, stretched out on my back after having a balloon explode in my face, leaving the defense to Hiei. It was my fault, I was the one who dropped the water balloon bag in the first place. Hiei's hand came in view, as he pulled me to my feet, both running to the yard taking a hose, the little fire demon producing more balloons from a pocket.
Yusuke was joined by Kuwabara, Kurama probably freeing him and providing them some extra balloons as me and Hiei hid behind the fox cardboard cut out that was still in the main yard. Poor thing has seen better days, however it would suffice for our current mission. Kuwabara, bless him, was still covered in certain areas with slime, yet he got dressed for the battle this time around.
The rest sat on the porch laughing at our display until we decided to turn the battle their way. Kurama was very good at dogging and stuck more to filling up balloons for his team. Shizuru was relentlessly aiming for her brother because he dared to destroy a perfectly good cigarette that was now half broken and wet, but still clutched between her teeth. Keiko sided with Yusuke and Kuwabara, while Yukina joined us, Hiei now having to protect two girls. Jin used his wind to make the water hoses fly, him also suspended above the ground.
"Hey that's cheating." I covered my face from a direct spray.
"Not if ya smile like that it ain't." from behind, a water balloon smacked against the back of him head, Kurama looking proud of his good aim "Hey we are on the same team."
Throwing a balloon up in the air and catching it back in his right hand, the fox boy answered with a small smirk "We are, however if you intend to play dirty and get too close I will retaliate, remember that."
"Why am I getting the impression you aren't referring to the game here pal?"
Hiei let out a small snort as I dropped my balloon looking at him look at Kurama, Kurama looking at Jin who was starring, head going between me and Kurama, me doing a take around the yard.
"JIN!" we all turned to see Touya at the main gate, his body giving out energy that was turning the temperature down around us, making me shiver. Jin turned away startled, letting out a yelp, probably already knowing the source of his anger "You said you'd be away only on Thursday, then you go missing on Friday and not even today do you care to return? I hope you have a good enough explanation."
The very next second Jin's finger pointed at me, Touya glaring in my direction "Hey!" my hands shot up in defense as I went near Jin who finally came down, my mind trying to understand exactly what he wanted me to say to Touya "Well, yes, Jin has been with me for the these past days, however" I took hold of Jin's ear and dragged him in front of Touya "I didn't know he should have returned sooner, I apologise." Taking a bow, I pulled Jin alongside me and after some protest from the wind master, he also apologised.
"It's fine, however you are needed at the safe house." Jin didn't look too happy about it and I felt sorry in a way for his situation. He was an intermediary for the relocated demons and it must have been difficult for him.
"Jin!" I yelled running to the top of the stairs "See you soon." Smiling big he waved back at me. That's better, a frown didn't suit him.
Since the fun was over, we all retreated to our rooms in order to dry up and change out of the wet clothes before starting out on lunch. A knock was heard, gently enough to be overlooked if I was doing something else apart from hanging on the shower curtain bar my wet clothes "One second." I placed the last clothing item before running to the door, opening it to see Kurama with a towel draping over his shoulders.
"Sorry to bother, do you by an chance have a hair dryer I can borrow?"
"Mhm" I moved out of the way letting him in "I can dry your hair for you if you want so it won't get all puffy." Presenting me a smile he accepted my offer going to sit in front of my bed while I gathered the necessary stuff, jumping on the bed behind him.
Sectioning his hair "Will anything bite me?" he looked over his shoulder assuring me he already took out everything. Not like I expected him to let his plants hurt me, but it was still impressive how much power the man in front of me had.
"May I ask you something personal Hana?"
Oh boy, rolling my eyes although he couldn't see me, my hands worked on brushing the first section of his long hair "Sure, ask away." He shivered slightly when my fingers brushed the back of his neck, however he was quick to ask his question, not giving me time to enjoy that moment.
"Why did you confess your feelings so late?"
It was a good question on his behalf, but I had my reasons in the end for waiting four years to finally come clean. Spoiler alert unless you figured it out by now, I am very bad at facing myself.
Before I even knew who Suichi Minamino was, I took my time studying him. At first I did not get what all the damn fuss was about really. With a fan club of girls I initially thought talking to him would be very hard, yet that was not the case. He would be willing to talk to everyone, smile politely , help if it was something school related, however he would never hang out with the groups, preferring to keep to himself and be alone most of the time.
Some days I would catch him giving people the stink eye, making me believe he was just a stuck up know it all. On other days he looked like he was the only one alone in a classroom full of students. Once our first year was over I thought I had him figured out pretty well, but since his mother was sick, I decided he liked to just keep his private life a secret and it was fine. So apart from exchanging a few books, we didn't really interact.
In our second year I didn't want to confess, it was just a crush and that was fine. But amidst all that happened by the end of it and Kurama coming forth as a demon, what I generally saw was him turning down a bunch of girls. On Valentine's day he would be bombarded with chocolates and love letters and frankly I didn't really trust him. Even as I became friends with his group, he was as evasive as ever.
During our third year it was either me skipping classes or him being out on missions and that was fine too. I had decided by then to not even confess and keep my head down while working on my powers.
All that stayed unchanged until suddenly he was the one seeking me out for class notes, book or small talk. So in the end what did I have to lose?
We appeared to have gotten to know each other a bit better, we were closer and I felt privileged. Guess my stupid head thought I had a chance. And then he flat our rejected me, invoking racial bullshit. I should have stuck with my gut and not say a damn word. He knew and hinted at nothing so I was in the wrong. I assumed too much.
"I see" his voice travelled to my ears as I was drying out the last portion of his fiery hair "apologies, it looks like I caused you quite some trouble."
"It's fine." I mentioned stopping the blow dryer and combing out all his hair "What's done is done."
"Then perhaps you'd be willing to listen to a confession I have to make?" he turned looking at me dead in the eye and I nodded slightly, brows lifting "Your powers, they are intimidating." A human power intimidating a demon, wow, that's unheard of "I am reluctant, that if you are to see my soul, you'd run away from me." I did not expect that, I did not count on the pain burning deep inside those forest green eyes "If I expose myself to you, what if you actually realise I am not what you want?" his voice dropped to a whisper as I leaned in pressing my forehead against his, those gorgeous eyes widening.
"Then you'll just have to take a risk and see how it plays out." Retreating I got off my bed and gathered my utensils "I had no idea if you'd return my feelings now did I?" He nodded in acknowledgement also getting up on his feet, constantly watching me "At this point, I'm still not sure."
"I thought I…"
"No" I turned to him quickly "You assumed wrong. What I saw was you playing on two fronts that's all." He looked at me in utter disbelief as I continued to run my mouth "You don't get to play me and Sora to see who fits you best. You make a decision and you stick to it."
"I see, you're still mad at me." Looking to the side, his hands slid inside the pockets of his pants "It would seem that once again I have misjudged the situation." I hated seeing him like this, uncertain and almost insecure as his mind worked picking up and piecing together new scenarios. But I was also hurt and he needed to understand that.
"I set aside my anger for the benefit of the group and our long lasting friendship." Placing the items back in their rightful place I saw him twitch slightly "But you need to get your head out of your ass because I am having a hard time understanding what you want from me."
Finally making eye contact we kept that pose just staring as each other like the bunch of idiots we were.
"I want you to give me time."
Opening the door he looked at me startled as I shook from head to toes "Wrong fucking answer. You want time and you had it, six years if I remember well. You need something else. Now get out."
Lowering his head, the long bangs covered his eyes completely. Time, phea, the nerve of this guy. I'll show him what the difference between want and need actually is. Stupid fox!
"Thank you for helping me with the hair Hana."
"Are you not done leaving?"
Closing the door with a loud enough sound I smirked. Heading to the bathroom, I pulled out of a small bag my makeup and stared at myself in the mirror. Shock treatment is in order.
Alright folks, confession time. I have hated this chapter from the beginning since it was such a pain. I had deleted 6 pages worth of writing because I didn't like where I was going with it. It all looked too dark, too gloomy and then I was like, nope, no way, this is not what the story is about. Even as I finally sat down and started copying my notes, I still modified a lot of it, so now I am fairly ok with it.
Next one will probably be double in size if not more since I have a lot to go over, with a lot of scenes and things unfolding and damn it, I haven't even begun to scratch the surface with this story.
So what is Hana up to this time? What does she have in play for the fox?
Chapter 15: Come on fox
Staring at my reflection in the bathroom mirror for one last time, I winked over at myself for some extra encouragement. Plans and ideas shifted in my head as I spent more time than usual on my exterior aspect.
Thoughts scattered in my brain as the door to my room burst open hitting the wall on its way, me jumping with a short yell. I didn't even have enough time to understand what was going on, as I almost tumbled to my knees as Yusuke's punch interacted with the top of my head.
"Fucking twat what was that for?" winching and rubbing the sore spot I finally looked up at his very mad face then at his finger pointing towards his hair, laughter bursting from my mouth although I wasn't in a position to do so "Going for the unicorn look?"
"Very funny you bitch." His hair sparkled in a multitude of colors, all shifting in the light with every move of his head. From the looks of it someone dumped glitter in his hair gel and it was hilarious. However it dawned on me, does Yusuke put the gel in his hair and after that faces a mirror?
"I don't know who did it, but it's brilliant." This time I avoided another smack from his fist, running past him and out of the room, him screaming after me, but it was obvious if I even thought of stopping or slowing down I would be hit again just because I dared to make fun of the glitter fairy on my heels.
Heading directly for the kitchen, barely being able to stop, my shoulder collided with the door frame, a very startled Yukina turning to look at me as Shizuru shook her head knowing very well we were up to no good. Sure that she was judging me.
"Stop running and let me smack you."
Red hair came in view as Kurama turned form what he was doing at the counter to look at what was causing all the commotion.
"Save me." His gorgeous eyes widened before my body slammed into his, a huff leaving his chest on the impact. One of my hands wrapped behind his neck as the other grabbed hold of his belt. With a quick maneuver and an exhale our bodies shifted as we spun around until I hit the counter, using Kurama as a human shield.
Yusuke's speed was just as impractical as mine had been, his socks sliding on the floor, stopping just to collide with me and Kurama, taking the feet from under us. Foxy boy was quick to wrap his arms around me taking the fall, Yusuke groaning from the weight dropped suddenly on top of him. However, despite the tangled mess, he was the first to scramble to his feet, swearing all the way as he exited the kitchen accompanied by a chorus of laughter resonating from Yukina and Shizuru.
"I'll get you for this Hana." Was the last grumble I heard from Yusuke.
Slowly I lifted my head from Kurama's chest as his arms unraveled from my body. Like on queue the girls went after Yusuke mumbling something about making a photo collage of funky hair styles and that's when I made a mental note to ask Shizuru if she managed to snap a picture.
Putting a bit of distance between our bodies, me and Kurama remained on the floor, both looking in other directions, both an awkward mess. WTF, wake up Hana!
"Are you hurt?" I asked inspecting his face. He finally settled his eyes on me, trying to see past my expression, squinting slightly as he finally glanced at my shoulder.
"It will bruise if you don't heal it."
He was inclined to reach out and touch the red sore spot however he was being more calculated and reluctant to face me which was a good thing. I needed him on the same page as me, for him to understand and it was certain one way or another I would end up where I needed.
Getting up he extended a hand out to help me which I accepted without batting an eye despite the fact that he did it out of politeness, smiling without it reaching his eyes.
"You were right Hana" that mask fell fast, an intense stare taking over that would make anyone melt, but I held my own retracting my hand away from his "you have given me enough time."
"Sour pants." Passing him, my mission became the candy bowl on the table that I would always fill in the weekend.
"I am being serious Hana."
"When are you not?" fumbling a bit with the wrapper, opening a lollipop I looked behind me "Green apple or strawberry Kurama?"
Cocking his brows his eyes fell on the lollipop moving slowly past my lips, confusion regarding the situation making his brows draw together. Yet there was more in those hungry eyes of his.
"You do know I can smell it's green apples." His eyes darted to mine. Waking over to him I pulled the most innocent face I could make.
"Want one?" his eyes fell back to my lips once more, his own parting slowly when I took out the sweet candy and licked my lips.
"No thank you, I'm fine." Shrugging my shoulders I ignored his stare completely, trying to focus on something else and not the lack of space between us "Hana" his voice dropped low as he also licked his lips "Don't try to play with me." Pulling at the candy with my teeth I finally managed to detach it from the small straw. And there it was again, that look in his eyes as he tried to read me but didn't understand completely what I was up to.
"Ok." I said bluntly and turned on my heels and just started walking. Behind me he let out a sigh probably and more than likely on purpose as to hint me at his exasperation. Annoyance maybe?
"Are you being serious right now Hana?"
Stopping I turned glaring at him, his eyes taking me in as I charged forward, pushing his body on the table, both my hands taking residence on each side of his head.
"What are…" those beautiful pools of emerald mystery and knowledge went the size of saucers as I cupped his cheeks closing in on his face. The round sweet candy in my mouth pushed against his lips and my lower body between his legs making him gaps slightly, lips parting. Pushing gently with my tongue, he let the candy fall slowly in his mouth as I stared in his eyes, making certain my lips would not touch his.
"I am very serious Kurama." Shivering slightly, he caught his breath when I got off him and pushed myself off the table. This time he let me exit the kitchen, no problem what so ever.
From the hallway, Hiei came in view who more than likely saw the entire scene as a pair of wide eyes met mine.
"Is this a prank?" his tone held some edge to it, the wide stare quickly turning to a glare. Shaking my head I smiled, placing a hand on his shoulder for a few seconds.
"I have no intention of hurting him." Removing my hand I was a bit surprised he let me touch him in the first place. Scoffing, a more confident look took over his menacing usual one.
"You can't hurt him."
Looking back at the kitchen Kurama was sitting on the table, a graceful hand covering his mouth, the cutest blush I have ever seen coloured his cheeks. Passing Hiei I mumbled a small whispered "fuck you" as I stormed to my room. At least I managed to take a few good steps until he yanked me by the hand, those scary bug eyes giving out something extremely dangerous.
"Let go Hiei." My jaw tightened, mind racing to scramble up a way of escaping.
"Perhaps your little human brain didn't understand. I am not saying you can't" my breath hitched in my chest as he went on "just don't."
I wouldn't phantom about it however Hiei's Jagan did glow from under the bandana. Of course I did not expect for him to trust me 100% so I allowed the moment where he would see for himself my intentions were not laced with anything bad. But Kurama needed to come to a conclusion and step up or step down, all depending on what he truly wanted.
Hiei's fingers unraveled slowly, marks already present on my white skin. He wasn't one to mess around with, that I knew for certain, so I didn't take for granted the fact that he allowed me to get a bit closer. I was not in the safe zone, not by a long shot.
Once the deed was done and Hiei happy with my thoughts I retreated to the toilet before joining the group in the living room. As I sat down, I slid falling on the floor, the back of my head hitting against the toilet bowl.
"What the actual fuck?"
Oil? Vaseline? Great.
After washing the freaking toilet, taking a shower and doing what I was set out to do from the very beginning, I entered the living room fuming.
"Alright, who's the piece of shit that put oil on the toilet seat?" Eyes turned to me, Yusuke and Kuwabara immediately bursting out in colourful laughter. After a punch in the head each I learned they didn't do it. Or at least swore they didn't "You're just trying to blow steam my way."
After explaining to them the expression actually went along the lines of "pulling my leg" we were bickering, throwing the blame around. Yusuke for his gel glitter who blamed me, I blamed them and Kuwabara apparently us for putting hot sauce in his toothpaste tube.
Kurama entered the scene as we were all butting heads, annoyance vividly painted on his face, his hands holding for us to see the sheets, covers and pillow from his bed all glued together.
"Who was it?"
The mischief gang laughed since of course we did, however in a brief period we all realized none of us played those pranks. Hiei sat lounging on the window sill, ignoring us completely and nearly jumped through the glass when seeing four people with ominous auras glaring at him.
"Ok shortly what did you do?" Hiei threw Kuwabara an equally dangerous look for having the audacity to even suggest he was the one behind the pranks until Kurama stepped in, more than likely trying to avoid a disaster.
"Have you been at the temple this week?" apparently he lingered around until Yukina and Kuwabara left for the city which meant the temple was left unmanned for two days. He apparently had better things to do than sit in an empty place, instead choosing to train in the woods.
"What do you mean no one was at the temple? This is our main building in the mountains." I stopped, realizing something that Kurama was already thinking. Someone from the safe house must have come here and decided to do a number on us. But what if something worse happened? What if someone had bad intentions and torched the place or destroyed it?
"Screw the weekend theme" Yusuke voiced out smacking a fist in his open palm "I declare this weekend - find the motherfucking prankster."
"In that case" Kurama stepped in once again quieting the almost torches and pitchforks display "we all need to first off search every inch of the temple. Who knows what else we'll find."
Messaged was received loud and clear as everyone scattered being on full alert as to not be tricked. Even Hiei joined in on the fun after some protest, however for some reason he was adamant to prove to us "idiots" that he hasn't done anything wrong. Sure, leave the temple unattended, what could possibly happen?
As we turned the temple upside down, more of us found things that were not in order. Yukina discovered in a bathroom, all the bottles, toiletries, toilet lid, even on the damn mirror and walls, googly eyes stuck to practically everything. Whoever did this had way too much time on their hands.
Keiko emerged from the kitchen, full of flower after opening a cabinet no one touched before her. The mechanism was fairly simple but super efficient as the majority of the content exploded in her face. I would certainly not want her to be the first one to find the person behind these pranks. Human or not, she could be scary and even if I was never on the receiving end of her slap, it looked painful.
Every room had been targeted which made me even wonder if just one person was behind it. Maybe Touya wanted to get back at us for keeping Jin too much in the city, however he needed to know where to find certain items and neither him, Chu or Rinku knew the temple that well. Running a hand through my hair, my brain worked trying to figure out everything. Even took in account that Yukina and Kuwabara decided to pull this elaborate scheme, however that idea went down the drain when a mountain of unrolled toilet paper fell on top of Yukina from one of the closets.
Sitting in front of another closer door, I checked the door frame first. No evident wires, nothing sticky or stinky for that matter was near me. The door handle didn't have glue or any other weird substance on it, it wasn't hot or super cold so it was safe. Opening the door something, or better yet several things jumped at me. Getting over the initial shock I stared at my feet feeling the blood in my veins run cold. My mouth opened as a response to what my brain registered and I just screamed stumbling on my back trying to get away.
In a matter of seconds Kurama ran to my location, picking me up from the floor and holding me to his chest as I trembled like a leaf ready to cry my eyes out. As he stroked my hair trying to get me to calm down he probably evaluated the closet situation and what had scared me out of my wits.
"Hana, it's alright." Slowly he spoke as to not startle me further "They are not real, they are plastic." Glancing up at his face, my eyes widened as my brain finally worked. What scared me out of my mind? Plastic spiders by the looks of it "You are scared of spiders, but not of demons? " Of course he chuckled and I did find it funny.
"Hey love birds." Shizuru smirked in our direction, taking a long drag from her cigarette "We have visitors."
Finally me and Kurama pulled away from each other following Shizuru in the main yard where Botan arrived alongside a young man I didn't know. He looked to be around our age, however he looked off with a stupid pacifier in his mouth and a JR tattooed on his forehead. Wait pacifier?
"Oh shit you're pacifier breath." The second that line left my mouth Yusuke doubled over in laughter, the man in question frowning at my remark.
"I see you taught her to behave like you." Yusuke ignored the line completely, patting my back instead like I had done a good thing. But he did look ridiculous, however he seemed to be very proud of his own person "Hello Hana, we have not been properly introduced, I am lord Koenma, ruler of Spirit World."
"Yo." was the only solid word my brain came out with. Koenma was royalty from what I gathered, he would choose if I'd go to Heaven or Hell when my life ended. Oh well, Hell it is then. Should I bow? Should I shake his hand? Koenma slapped his forehead, letting out a breath full of air before speaking again.
"Indeed, you are the female version of Yusuke. Why do I keep getting myself mixed up in these situations?"
Passing us, looking dead serious, Kurama addressed the ruler of Spirit World without even taking note of our silly interaction "Why are you here Koenma?" his eyes dimmed and dulled as a sort of darkness set in them and Koenma saw that too since he dropped the act of being insulted and just provided a frank answer.
"I came here to one, teach you a lesson to never leave the temple unguarded and unlocked, yes we performed all those genius pranks" Botan hid behind him as she stuck out her tongue at us however referring to their pranks as genius was a bit exaggerated if you ask me "and second I need a word in person with the last relocated demon."
"May I ask what the matter is?" Kurama pushed forward however Koenma didn't look to be budging either. It was either he was used to him by now or was not intimidated "Does it have anything to do with the order Enki gave?" there it was, a second push on his behalf, however for whatever reason and it better be a good one, Koenma chose to look at me before turning back to Kurama and answering.
"It's only just a small interrogation since he is not a usual case. He might have some interesting information but I must make sure it is correct before I start spreading the word."
We all shared equal concerned looks as the last demon brought to Human World was not a typical case, especially since he did not receive our clearance, well mine at least since Hiei didn't even get to perform his part. But I saw why they were all concerned, Koenma was going to interrogate the demon, he didn't do that, he always trusted our judgment so for him to come in person it meant that whatever information the relocated demon had to offer was priceless and not meant for everyone.
Botan stepped in front, laughing and trying to lighten the mood and even if we should have scolded them for the pranks and what we had to endure, that was not the case. Koenma glanced my way once again and I had a good mind to ask him what the fuck his problem was but before I could do that I was distracted by Botan's bright laugh as she pushed a small present in Kurama's hands.
"Sorry I didn't give you something sooner, I didn't know the custom was to get a house warming present." Kurama smiled her way, uttering a sweet thank you for the present received. I had to hand it to her, we had so many customs that were more than likely confusing but she always tried to follow our rules while here and it was heartwarming to see someone from another place or world in her case adapting and growing in Human World.
Koenma looked to be more in his element, however since he had a lot of diplomatic meetings it was a must to know the customs and traditions of other worlds. Must have been great to be king of Spirit World. His sharp eyes glowed as he took us all in, there was something always working in that head of his despite his carefree exterior. Even if I haven't met him until this point, he felt very old, something weighing on him, something we couldn't understand. All those thoughts formed inside my head even after we retreated inside and took over the living room for a snack and drinks.
"Hana." His voice distracted me from my thoughts and I wondered how he managed to speak so clearly with that pacifier in his mouth. His hand extended to me, a cold beer being pushed my way. I didn't like this "I wanted to thank you personally for the work you have done." Taking the beer I just bobbed my head once carefully watching him. He wanted something, which was certain by the way he looked at me, trying to pin point something.
"Ok you're annoying me, what is it?" his eyes widened a bit, yet still held a little sharpness in the corners "You want something so out with it." Royalty or not, I did not care.
"I would like to see how your powers actually work. Can you heal other beings? Plants? What do you deem as a damaged soul?" taking a big gulp, I felt the cold liquid rushing through me as I churned the questions in my head. What did he want me to show him exactly?
"No, yes, yes, that's a tough one, I'll write down a report." A small smile appeared on his face, him nodding his head getting the hint. I wasn't willing to talk to him that much, not until I put my finger on his intentions. Thankfully he left me alone, going to talk to Botan instead.
The following day, bright and early, we ladies packed some food and drinks and we all headed out to the safe house. Plan as follows: Koenma goes and speaks with snarky demon then we all head to the beach for a picnic and then catch the last train home.
Me and Yusuke were leading the group, having managed to put quite some distance between us so he could smoke a cigarette, Keiko being all the way at the back talking with Yukina and Shizuru.
"You know she can smell you even if she can't see you right now?" waving me off, he rummaged through his pockets producing a few mints he snatched from the candy bowl in the kitchen.
"I'll just tell her you smoked." He dodged easily when I tried to punch his arm, grinning at me, a smile spread on his face from ear to ear. We both knew she would never believe such a silly lie, especially since I quit after high school. Been tempted a bunch of time to stsrt again, especially with the bad influence near me puffing away like a chu-chu train, but I didn't. Oh how I wished I could be one of those social smokers, just one or two when out with friends, but noooo, I had to have an addictive nature and go for a pack a day if not more.
"Hey Yusuke?" his brows lifted seeing a more serious side of me taking over "What do you think is going on that requires Koenma's visit in person?"
Shrugging his shoulders he flicked the ash gathering at the top of his cigarette "Beats me, but if it's important, he'll let us know. Besides, we got your back in case of something." That was a certainty but I didn't like being dead weight.
They have tried to teach me how to use my spirit energy in order to form attacks. I have managed once a small sphere of compact raw pure force but when I launched it, let's just say I wasn't that proud of myself anymore. My target was a tree, however I didn't managed to hit it, the attack travelled similarly to the direction of a deflating balloon. Yusuke said I could probably launch a stronger fart than my spirit attack. Even Hiei laughed and I mean laughed.
At the end of the day I was just a healer and mainly that's where it stopped. No fancy strong attacks, no ability to wield weapons. I could kick and punch, sure, thanks to Hiei and Yusuke training me, but again it was nothing too fancy.
Once at the safe-house, Koenma went inside to do his thing, Chu and Touya being on guard in case things went tits up. Speaking of up, we had barely arrived and Jin whooshed in the air and picked me up, flying with me several feet off the ground.
"You know I hate heights Jin."
"Aye" his ears wiggled "but ya like being up in the air with me."
Beside the point, but I let him have it. Glancing at the group below us, Jin's face lit up, something going through that mind of his. He asked Touya if he was needed and somehow got clearance, which was honestly unexpected, especially after he went missing for a few days without as much as a note. If it were me in his place I would have probably made him work double or something along those lines.
"In that case I will be taking Hana."
"You what?" I panicked, I really panicked since I had no idea what this buff leprechaun was up to. Kurama looked up at us, Jin also locking him in with this eyes "Jin put me down please."
"No can do." With a wide grin we lifted even further, the wind picking up around us. In all the commotion I heard Kurama yelled out for him to bring me back, but he was ignored completely as we flew as great speed to wherever Jin wished to take me.
That sick feeling to my stomach didn't do away, not even minutes after we landed, my legs giving out from under me. The rides from the amusement part were easy compared to the wind master's speed. He gently rubbed my back trying to calm me down, as I took deep breaths trying to control my shaking limbs and the acid in my stomach. I really didn't want to hurl right there in front of him.
"I'm sorry." His voice reached my ears and I raised my eyes to look at his bubbly cute face forcing a weak smile on my lips. It wasn't his fault I was such a mess when it came to heights. If I had a ledge or something to hold onto I was fine, but with him in the air all the mundane elements I have learned to rely on weren't there. We had our bodies suspended in midair and it terrified me to the bones. Whipping the cold sweat from my forehead, I finally dared to take in the surrounding area.
Jin had landed us in the middle of a small clearing, water running in the form of a small river a few feet before us. I was certain the mountains in Genkai's territory held many secrets and wonders however I could not go on foot, especially since there were low class demons roaming around.
"Are we safe here?"
"Ya bet, no demon around us is stronger that me." I swallowed a lump that was forming in my throat, trying to push back the fear and doubt clawing at my nerves. I will be fine, I heard Jin was strong, nothing bad will happen.
Shifting my focus on the scenery around us, the spot was quite nice. Everything was so calm and inviting that I soon found myself being able to get up and use my own two feet. Since it was still spring everything was coming to life, nature at its finest, also my favorite season.
"I really like this spot, what's the occasion?" that toothy grin bloomed as he sat down on a rock, patting the spot next to him.
"Second date Hana." Oh, that's right, I did promise him a second date. Pff he could have asked, not kidnap me. Taking my place next to him, I took out of my backpack two sodas handing one over.
"Look Jin" I took a deep breath before opening the can and continuing my speech "before anything else happens I believe it's only right I told you something."
"Mhm, you like Kurama. I know." I had to do a double take since I couldn't believe one, the words that came out of his mouth and two, how ok he was with everything "Kinda figured that one out, he'd probably have my head if I keep pushing the matter."
"Then why did you bring me here if you know it will piss him off?" laughing he took a swing from the can, placing a strong hand around my shoulders.
"Because I fancy you too. Can't blame a guy for trying." Well, he did have a point and I found myself smiling.
If I am to be honest with myself, which is a hard thing to do, it was clear to me that if I had met Jin in any other circumstances and before my feelings for Kurama cemented themselves the way they did, we could have really hit it off. He is sweet and clumsy like me and just does what he thinks is right. Hell, we hit it off from day one and I am still just at the beginning of discovering who he really is. He was easy to talk to and I needed that, not a complicated situation where more than likely all my words were being analyzed, used for later. With Jin I didn't need to hide or shape myself into someone else, I was me. With Kurama, parts of me were scared to come out so sarcastic me took over most of the time. It did become easier over the years, but it took a lot of work.
After a couple of hours of just walking around and talking, we finally made our way to the beach where everyone gathered already and were eating. We waved at the group walking closer until Kurama put down his food and came near us. He didn't look my way, but eyed Jin carefully.
"Hey, it's ok, we just talked." I placed my hand on Kurama's chest trying to back him up just in case and I noticed how tense his muscles were. He probably wouldn't hurt Jin, but why risk it right?
"Let em go Hana, he wants a word with me." Staring at Jin I mouthed if he's crazy and he just stuck his tongue out at me. Kurama placed a hand over mine, removing it from his body and looked at me. He wasn't saying a word, Jin was asking for it at this point and the gang thankfully didn't have any popcorn or else they would have brought it out and started eating it staring at us like we were a movie. Finally he seemed to relax a bit and looked at Jin with different eyes.
"Please don't do that again Jin, it's dangerous out there as it is."
The wind master was not surprised by the outcome of today, he either knew some things beforehand or expected for them to play out like that. Or he wanted to piss off Kurama since he stole a sandwich and a beer bottle and bid everyone goodbye as he flew back to the safe house.
Botan and Koenma were already gone by the time I came back so more than likely they returned to Spirit World to handle other matters. I was curious about what he discussed with the demon relocated but the others looked calm so it was either nothing happened, or he didn't tell anyone how the interrogation really went. Only time would tell if something was important, if Yusuke trusted Koenma and his judgment then so did I.
Speaking of judgment, Kurama was looking at me, trying to figure out some things for himself. With my thumb I wiped away at his lower lip a small bread crumb, action that took him by surprise. He looked at me, as in really looked at me, but wasn't saying a damn thing.
A small sigh was heard near us as Shizuru exhaled the toxic fumes from her cigarette before speaking "Watch and learn." The very next second she pulled me in, hand behind my head and kissed me out of the fucking blue. And no, not a peck on the lips, a full on going to town kiss that made my head dizzy.
"For fucks sake Shizuru." Was all Kurama muttered when we both looked back at him. Casually she just shrug her shoulders placing the cigarette back in her mouth and smirked.
"Not like you were going to do it."
Somewhere in the background her brother was losing it which was a funny sight on its own. But I knew why Kurama would not be the first to kiss me. I had promised him a kiss that would surprise him, it would be on my own terms and he is too decent to take advantage. His mind would need to be fed up or reach all possible conclusions to even pull a stunt like Shizuru. For a second I even considered grabbing her for round two. Keeping my options opened here.
The weekend has been eventful, with a lot of things happening, but since the clock did not strike midnight there was still time for more, even if we were on the train, all heading back home. Kurama hadn't spoken more than needed after the kiss displayed in front of him so I was surprised when he suddenly came up to me and asked a weird question.
"Tell me, do you still have your old high school uniform?"
"Ummm" I blinked several times trying to recall where it was "I didn't throw it away. Why, is this some kind of weird fetish you have?"
"Yes." And with that he went back to his seat. What the actual fuck?
Chapter 16: Strange encounters
I knew ever since the weekend that the upcoming week would require a lot of energy. With two tests at nursing school, practice at the hospital and running around to get the paper work done for the pheromone demon, I would barely have time to take a breather.
With no sleep on Sunday night to boast, I entered my class room ready for the test. I did study and knew first aid even if you jolted me from my sleep at three in the morning and started asking questions. The second one on all the damn utensils needed in operations was nagging me, representing the reason for the stay up act.
I however knew my body well enough. Even after a sleepless night I would have a large cup of coffee and manage to concentrate well enough until about twelve in the afternoon. And honestly that was more than enough since classes ended then and I had two hours to kill before starting my shift.
I sat down at my desk, fishing for my pens when a couple of pair of legs came in view. Looking up, two of my classmates were there wanting to have a chat. They went on and on about a new place opening and how fun it would be if we all went together.
"Sorry, as much as I'd like to go you know very well my weekends are full."
I could read the disappointment on their faces and unfortunately I knew the source. In our first year we managed to grow close to one another in just the span of a few weeks. However since Genkai's passing the weekend trip became a thing and while I had or could make some time during the week to see them, I could not in the weekend. Of course we grew apart but still talked in class when we came in or on our breaks. Unless I stuck my head in a book provided by Kurama. Then no one would talk to me. But it was for the best. The less people I had close, the less chances were of them finding out about my double life.
As soon as classes finished, just like many times before, I bolted out the door. By now teachers have gotten used to it since they knew I also had a job. Today with a two hour break I had time to get some food and an energy drink. And I knew just the place.
One of my favorite places to run off and eat quickly was a little corner pastry shop. You could grab a bite to eat, vanilla stuffed éclairs being my all time favorite, and also sit there reading one of the many books they had to offer from their shelves. The setup was very intimate and private, I sometimes felt like I could forget everything that was around me and just get lost in my own little corner. Plus is was close to my work place so bonus points.
After ordering a pizza roll and an éclair, I gulped down half of an energy drink and started reading some notes I had with me for the remaining test this week. Unfortunately I was barely able to keep my focus on the letters displayed on the white page, my eyes feeling heavy with sleep.
"Hana?" Oh no "It's been a while." It could have been a lot more, but oh well.
In front of my table sat Sora, yes, the Sora after Kurama. Faking a sweet smile we engaged in small talk, her taking a seat at the table.
I'm not going to lie, compared to my messy bun, dark circles barely concealed, large clothes and altogether mess that represented me, she was on fleek. Perfect looking, fitting clothes, graceful gestures, every part of her was on point. What the fuck did she get up at four in the morning to get ready?
"I must say" my eyes refocused her, I had spaced out "I was surprised last time we met. I had no idea you two were together." Yup, there is was, the kick that woke me up completely.
"We're not together Sora, there's no point in lying."
Her perfectly manicured hand reached over to mine, nails digging deep in my skin. By how they hurt and how hard they were, those pointy which nails were gel for sure.
"Then why are you bothering him dear?" setting my notes back in the open backpack near me, I leaned closer to her.
"I think he's a big boy who can make his own decisions." Her nails dug deeper, my eyes squinting slightly, jaw tightening. I didn't dare peal my eyes off her face, but it was certain she was drawing blood "I would really appreciate if you saw to your business Hana. After all it's clear you two belong in separate worlds." Oh this cunt, how can she say such things with a smile on her face?
"You should know I am not a very patient person and I am brutally honest. Like for now I would so like nothing more than to sink your stupid teeth in." I leaned back in my chair enjoying the moment of shock that set on her face "But it's clear you have some serious issues to work through so don't bother me with them."
In a split second I yanked my hand away, her eyes lowering to see the damaged done to me. All I did was get up to pack my things. The sight of blood didn't distract me as I moved too fast too even take note of the hot liquid pouring over my hand. Just what the fuck where those nails made of? "Oh and about you and Suichi?" I laughed gesturing with my right hand her way, drops of blood splashing against her horrified face and expensive clothes "Don't kid yourself."
I took my leave, turning the corner fast. I needed a place where I could heal and wash the blood off. Hiding my hand inside the sleeve of my hoody, I ran to a nearby park and hopped there was a working water source or something.
Once my destination was reached I finally stopped and stared at the back of my hand, she did draw blood, a lot, just what the Hell did she hit? A vein? I couldn't keep my hand or my body from shaking, I was so angry I would have screamed.
I shouldn't have been embarrassed, I was doing good, holding a job and school. I was part of something better, had a purpose. My powers quickly placed the torn skin into its rightful place, all healed in a matter of seconds. I was something special right? Right?
But as I washed the blood off my skin I felt like my own feelings were chocking me. The tears bit at my eyes and me at my lower lip in an attempt to hold it all back. I couldn't cry. I wouldn't.
"Never took you for a cry baby." Turning around fast, Yusuke stood there just watching me, a cigarette dangling between his fingers. His tone was as I had always known it, but he kept a straight face, eyes locking me in place with sheer determination "You're a gazillion times better than her you know and you proved it by standing up to that bitch." His eyes trailed to my right hand and then back to me.
"You saw didn't you?" a smirk played on his lips and that confirmed it for me. He probably passed by, saw me through the window and I didn't pay attention. Not like I was seeing anything else around me, I had been too focused on Sora.
Drying my hands against my pants I took the moment to divert my eyes from his intense stare and did not look back until one of his hands landed on top of my head, a not so gentle ruffle of my hair being in order apparently.
"I should have punched her." I mumbled annoyed at myself, at the situation and I knew it all got me acting up because I was so damn tired.
Yusuke chuckled removing his hand "It would have been more fun to watch." His cheerful grin had me laughing a moment later.
It would have felt better, no doubt in my mind about it, but I wasn't going to stoop to her level. Girls like her were the worst. I've seen this type of behavior when we were in school, I just never thought I would see it growing up. Sora must have been the queen bitch back in the days. Guess it's true what they say, high school never ends.
Yusuke proceeded to walk me to my work place where I learned he was in the neighborhood to visit his mom and get her some groceries. She wasn't the picture perfect mother and we were all aware of that, she wasn't like Kurama's mother, but she was far off from being the worse version like mine was. Guess you can't have it all in life. As we said our goodbyes I was feeling better. More awake for one thanks to Sora so I knew I could survive the shift.
Even if I hoped there would be no more surprises in store for me, at 19:45 with fifteen minutes before my shift ended inside the café stepped someone I did not expect to see. With a sweet smile and a soft voice Kurama's mother ordered a strawberry tea and cappuccino for go. After I carefully prepared her order, I bid her a good day and headed out back to change and pass my shift over to the next one.
As I waved to the manager closing the door behind me I let out a small sigh. I was finally done. Turning I noticed Shiori still in the café, that sweet smile falling perfectly on her lips when she saw me. Her left hand extended, the cappuccino I had just prepared being place in my hands.
"Walk with me?" I just nodded not understanding. She lived on the other side of the city so seeing her there at that hour was odd. I had to get her home.
"Did something happen? Is everyone alright?" my mind went directly to Kurama, but her head shake brought me back to reality, that was not the reason she came to see me.
Since my place was nearby we head over there to get my truck. It was pleasant hearing her talk about her day, what she recently cooked and what else she wanted to make and I was left scratching my head in confusion. I was too tired to think.
"Shiori" I stopped realizing I called her by her first name out of the blue but she smiled so I just let it slide "Are you sure everything is alright?"
Looping her arm with mine, I noticed she started walking slower, stalling time until we reached my truck.
"Everything is just fine. I just think I miss Suichi being in the house."
Offering her a heartfelt smile I placed my hand on top of hers offering it a gentle reassuring squeeze "I think it's difficult for parents to see their children grow up, but you have every reason to be proud of him."
"Of course." She took a sip of her tea to gather her thoughts "But I am also happy he has you to take care of him."
I would be lying if I said that statement didn't melt my heart "He's a very close friend, I got his back don't worry." I flashed her one of my best smiles, one which dropped once she asked her next question.
"Is that all he is to you?" my cheeks caught on fire in an instant although I am not the type to blush. But this was not a casual talk with a friend, this was Kurama's mother for fucks sake.
"I would be lying to you if I said yes." I finally found the courage to speak just when we reached my car. But by the look in her eyes she already knew the answer.
Fortunately she didn't push the matter further but something told me her abrupt visit was solely for the purpose of receiving confirmation I was into her son. Maybe she didn't like Sora either.
Once she waved goodbye and the front door to the Hatanaka residence shut behind her I finally drove off to my apartment. I still needed to cook and finally get some sleep. Fortune shined on me since no one took my parking spot from earlier. Taking off my seatbelt and stopping the engine I felt so exhausted. Pressing my forehead against the stirring wheel I wanted desperately to fall asleep right there inside my car. At least a power nap. Just a few minutes.
My head shot up when the car door opened. I looked at Kurama with wide eyes as he took the keys from the ignition with a dead serious expression and pulled me out of the car locking it, keys falling in the depths of his pocket.
He took hold of my right hand and sniffed the sleeve, a dangerous look dancing in his eyes as I retracted my hand, heart beating wildly inside my chest. Yusuke must have told him. So stupid.
"I was having lunch with my mother when Yusuke called me."
Suddenly it clicked, he must have uttered my name and something on his face must have changed when the discussion took place. That's why Shiori came to visit me. Kurama's nose lifted as he sniffed again, confusion taking over.
His hands boxed me in as I tried to get away, my back hitting against the car. For the second time that day I felt like crying. I needed to get away. I couldn't deal with my feelings that moment.
"Why are you here silly?" my breath came out sharp, a knot forming at the back of my throat "I'm fine, give me my keys." Sniffing my nose I looked away as I extended my hand as much as the space between our bodies allowed it. His hands moved closer, arms taking me in his embrace.
"I'm sorry Hana." His breath tickled my ear as he spoke.
"No" I replied shaking my head against his chest "You don't need to apologize for someone else's actions." Wrapping my arms around him I suddenly wanted to exchange sleeping in the car with sleeping against his chest. "Want to come up for a late dinner?"
"There's nothing else I'd rather do." But his hands didn't let me go.
Chapter 17: A different type of healer
Tuesday I actually managed to sleep in and thankfully I only had practice at the hospital in the afternoon and the night shift at the café.
I woke up at around ten, on my couch, my TV still running, phone plugged in with 100% battery. Stretching my hands above my head, my back made a cracking sound since the couch wasn't one of the most comfortable pieces of furniture to sleep on in my apartment.
I surely fell asleep after the late dinner as me and Kurama sat down to watch a movie. Good job Hana! I literally slapped my face with force dragging the palm of my hand against my skin letting out an annoyed huff. Way to fucking go stupid, falling asleep on Kurama.
Inside the kitchen the filter was holding fresh coffee, still warm despite my late waking hour. Beside it a note mentioning Kurama had closed the door behind him and hopes I had a decent sleep. Wait! How the fuck did he lock the door? Scratching my head confused I envisioned some vines working in order to achieve that mission. Will need to ask him to show me one day.
After a shower and making myself presentable I rushed to the immigration office in order to sort out some papers for our recent relocation however I arrived when they were on a break. Not having time to sit around doing nothing I proceeded to my next appointment where I called Kido who of course didn't pick up right away.
When he did return the call I held back a sharp yell and answered. Basically I needed him to go finish up the paper work.
"Why? He's not even being relocated in Mushiori. I'd have to jump on train, get there in time and then get back home."
Letting out a sharp exhale, I replied "Oh come on man have a heart. I don't have any more time today." He ignored the hiss that travelled through my teeth giving me a very short reply.
"Ask Kaito." Rolling my eyes at the proposition I had to squint them shut as pain radiated.
"You know how he gets if I disrupt his schedule. Fuck!" I glared sharply "Sorry, wasn't directed at you. Please! Consider it a favor."
Silence stretched as he contemplated on what to ask of me. Of course I knew it wasn't going to be cheap, but I didn't want to delay the migration to the city and the integration of the pheromone nut to a normal human life. Each of us had a role to play in this new era that dawned on human kind and we were all taking it very seriously.
I breathed in deep and exhaled sharply which was enough to rouse Kido's curiosity "Ok what are you doing, you sound like you are in pain."
Stealing another glance at the source of it "That's because I am. So will you help or not?" inhaling through my nose I felt like I was reaching the limit of my patience.
"Only if you take the next two relocations for Mushiori, we are only two people over here as it is and also no pranks on me for the entire summer."
A small whimper left my mouth before I managed to create words and also verbalize them "That's bullshit, a ridiculous request. Fuck!" my eyes shut tight as I grinded my teeth "And you know it Kido."
He proceeded to chuckle away in the speaker "Figured as much. Fine, fine. Tell me what is going on right now with you and I'll go." I could hear him rummaging through his apartment so I figured he was probably getting ready to go to the train station.
The only issues with the immigration office is that only four people had the necessary clearance to process papers and collect them. Those people were only two per city, me and Kaito in Sarayashiki and Kido with Yanagisawa in Mushiori. We had been allowed to cover for one another from time to time as long as the jobs got done, but it was still a bit too much. Apart from papers we also took care of meeting demons in Human World where me and Hiei stepped in. Kuwabara and Yusuke were on the grunt work if anything went south. Kurama mainly stayed away in order to preserve his human identity however he never said no when we needed his help. Between a handful of people with abilities and all the craze surrounding this change, we had our hands full.
"I'm getting a wax." Silence followed and I bit back a laugh as I imagined the face he was making "You know, hot wax covering the skin, legs spread, huha on display my dear boy. Men can do it to. You know she takes that wooden stick covered in hot wax and applies it directly on…"
"Fuck, sorry I asked, too much information Hana!"
This time I couldn't contain my amusement and quickly ended the call before he changed his mind. I would check up on him later to make sure he did get everything sorted, but he knows as well as I do that the papers were also an important part of the process. Without them the relocation would reach a dead end.
After the modern day torture ended and a quick meal I headed over to the hospital to meet up with two other colleagues that were in a sense on the same shift as me. We couldn't all go at the same time so the professors created a schedule by rotation so we would all get a chance to practice at the hospital.
As we entered a young woman greeted us with a small smile and asked that we sign in for our visit. She looked so confident in her white robe, watching us with an intelligent look. She represented something I wanted to become, but it would be for demons and not humans. Well maybe a little bit of both worlds. Taking a clipboard in her skinny white hands she led us down the halls in order to assign work. One of my classmates went with a nurse to change bandages, the second was assigned to sort out pills for several patients so I was in the end left alone with the female doctor, eagerly waiting to be assigned to my task.
"You'll be with me today. Please follow me Hana."
I was surprised to find out she had taken me to the Oncology wing, even more so when she took me inside a salon with a terminal ill patient.
"What can I do for him doctor?" I only took a glance at his chart, he was dying. Probably had a few days at best with the state he was in. All that the hospital could do now was to make him as comfortable as possible.
"Please, call me Ayame." Nodding my head I looked at the amount of pain killers given to him, damn only 36, so young "I want you to break some rules Hana." Placing the file back at the foot of the bed, I left like my chest tightened. What she said did not sit well with me.
"Meaning?" I watched her hands carefully hopping to God above she wasn't a maniac ready to whip out a scalpel and cut me open. As if she sensed the tension in my muscles she offered a small smile and looked over at the patient lying on the bed.
"I understand why you're reluctant, my request is odd." her eyes traveled to the monitors "He's dying and will do so shortly. By the end of the day to be more precise." Taking a step back I analyzed my options. This woman with her still eyes made my blood run cold, there was something off about her.
"How do you know that?" her eyes took me in, an almost bored look, yet still sharp, a sweeter smile being tried on by her face.
"I am a pilot for the river Styx, an employee of Spirit World, like Botan."
"Fucking hell lady!" I erupted finally managing to find my sanity "You scared me."
"I apologize, that was not my intention." A small giggle left her chest, a very controlled gesture "I want you to try and save him. There will be no punishment since we are asking this of you."
I swallowed feeling my mouth instantly fill up with saliva "Why?" the reason was apparently a simple one. In the entire mayhem of demons being introduced to Human World, Koenma didn't have time to create a file on me, so Ayame was asking for a live show. Certainly explains pacifier sucker eyeing me in the weekend.
"Try please. We already know you have been practicing your powers a lot." A short glare was delivered but I refrained from speaking. So there must have been some kind of readings for spiritual energy that they were monitoring. How else would they have known I practiced when not even the gang knew?
I didn't like spreading my territory inside a hospital. People don't usually end up in one because of a good thing. Souls are scared, hectic, suffocating. Limiting myself to the small perimeter I took my eyes off Ayame and looked at the patient. I didn't need my territory to expand in order to heal him but I wanted to see his soul. See who I was trying to save.
The answers came quick flooding my eyesight. Broken, dim, colorless. He had given up a long time ago. The cracks on his soul had jagged edges, like the pain ripped through it and made its way by force inside the soul. He must have fought and hopped until the last moment.
Sometimes the disease kills you faster when your soul breaks.
Calling back my territory my power focused inside the palm of my hands. Closing my eyes, my palms rested on the patient's chest as my spiritual power searched. Inside his body, mainly his lungs where the cancer was eating away at him, feasting on his last thread of life with its ravenous teeth. I worked slowly and with caution, pouring myself into this man, this complete stranger. His chest expanded more and more until he was able to finally take a full normal breath.
I don't know for how long I had kept it up. Time stood still for me as my mind cleared, healthy cells tingling under my fingertips, happy to be rid of the threat. My arms were numb by the time the light under my palms dimmed. My forehead pressed against the man's chest as I took in a shuddered breath. I felt cold, depleted of all happy thoughts. There wasn't more I could do, it was up to him now to get better, healthier, to eat and drink properly. His soul would heal as well, a scar will remain, but once he learns he's cancer free, he will start to mend his own pain and he will succeeded.
When I felt capable of sitting up straight Ayame was no longer in the room. Checking my clock I realized I would soon start work. I didn't care if the ripper noted my attendance in the logs. I didn't care for goodbyes offered to my colleagues. I ran. Ran as much as my legs could endure and I made sure they would, I don't have healing powers for nothing.
Stumbling inside a store near the café I paid for a lighter and a pack of cigarettes getting out in the same manner I came in. Hectic and distraught. Struggling to keep a straight thought.
Hiding in the shadows at the back of the café I had twenty minutes to pull myself together. Straightening my back against the cold stone I wished I could morph inside the bricks. My hands were shaking as I barely managed to peel the wrapper away from my pack. First cigarette broke against my useless fingers, a violent curse leaving my mouth as I slid against the wall, cradling my head in my hands.
The sound of my phone vibrating inside my bag was heard but I ignored it. Managing to get out a cigarette I held it between my lips, the fire on the lighter dimming.
"Hana, you ok?"
I had no idea what Kido was doing there but his bag immediately hit the pavement when seeing my face. Kneeling next to me, he touched my forehead feeling my temperature, looking at my body to see if I was hurt in any way.
"I'm fine" I mentioned pushing him away and the cigarettes in a pocket "used my powers too much, that's all."
"All? You look like shit Hana." He took a hold of my wrist staring into my eyes not really knowing what to make of my state.
"I…" I barely managed to breathe in "Kido I…" blinking rapidly my vision blurred "I can kill cancer cells." I smiled but tears streamed down my face, pain lashing at my heart. His arms wrapped awkwardly around me as he rocked me back and forth, me sniffing my nose and pleading him not to tell a soul about tonight.
My manager found us as Kido answered my phone. In the dim light he looked like a delinquent hurting a poor crying girl. I was taken to the bathroom where I washed my face and cried some more. My soul hurt, I was devastated without knowing why.
The effects wore off in a couple of hours, but Kido did not leave the café. We went over the relocation papers when customers scattered, both with a big cup of coffee to fuel us through the night. Kaito joined us around three in the morning since Kido did not crash at his place as he said he would. But I am sure he felt something was off, Kido wouldn't have lost a night of sleep if it wasn't important.
But I was fine.
In the end I guess my reaction was something due to the amount of damage I healed, the bigger the project, the bigger the burden.
But it was nice that they were there with me, Kaito listening to my answers for the exams I had to take in the morning. Kido offering a reassuring smile to keep me leveled.
I was fine.
But I never want to experience that ever again.
"So Hana, I heard you provided Kido a very detailed explanation on your waxing experience today."
"Kaito!" me and Kido yelled out in unison.
Yesterday, even if I expected it and somewhere between the lines hoped for it, Hana did not contact me. It took a day and half, however around one in the afternoon a text message finally arrived. Short, concise: "Sorry, been busy with tests and work. Thank you for everything *kissy face*". Rolling my eyes with a short sigh I placed the phone back on my desk without responding.
What is she working through this time?
Perhaps she did not appreciate that Yusuke related to me the encounter with Sora. If so, she has taken a step back from me. Ultimately I am to blame for bringing them face to face. While I did not count on Sora acting out the way she did, I was fully aware Hana was the one getting hurt.
She has a delicate soul, fragile even, despite her sharp tongue and bad girl attitude. She is more in denial of her true feelings that Yusuke, walls built around her true self. But I understand that and should have understood that if she managed to confess her feelings all those years ago and still continued to care for me, her feelings must have reached the top of those walls and overflowed. Or else she wouldn't have allowed herself to be that honest.
Combing my fingers through my bangs I realized I have been staring at the monitor for quite some time, lost in my own thoughts.
I have decided. With a press of a few buttons and a short call, a meeting was set up.
At 17:13, two minutes prior to the actual time decided, I rang the doorbell to Sora's apartment. A big smile graced her face as she led me inside. Being in the real estate business she managed to get her claws on a gorgeous establishment close to the city center and for a fair price I might add. Some jobs come with bigger perks than others.
Empty chit chat began as she brought some refreshments, meaningless words being spilled from our mouths alongside carefully placed smiles added as a formality. We both wore masks suited for society, suffocating false personas brought to life in order to serve one purpose, not letting anyone know our true self. But in our particular cases, the reasons were not the same.
She brought Hana up first with such a clear expression that me sick. I had not expected her to have the audacity to say "Do you know your little special girl is helping in the entire human and demon movement?"
"I see, I can't say that I have." I didn't need to ask how she found out. In the next sentence that formed from her mouth she told me, rubbing it in my face.
"I have friends in the immigration office since I need to check papers if the buyers are foreign." She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear as she tried to hold back a smirk, but the muscles in her jaw twitched giving away her true intention "She has been countless times inside the new office. As if it isn't enough we have demons trying to act all human."
Stirring in the cup of coffee offered I closed my eyes for a second as she trailed on about how she believes she had sold an apartment to a demon pair. Not like the commission granted after a sale would be something to complain about.
"Demons have lived amongst humans since before it was made common knowledge Sora." She opened her mouth to speak once more but I rudely interrupted her "Take me for example." the words froze in her throat as I glanced back at her "I have been right here, under your noses."
"Oh I see" she laughed nervously before giving in to a full bloomed laugh "I didn't know you have a sense of humor Suichi." I didn't, not with or for her.
"My name is actually Kurama." I replied with a dead pan expression leaning closer, her eyes widening, pupils dilating. She was scared. I could smell the fear spewing from her pores, installing itself in every nook and cranny it could find. In the back of her mind, even if she tried to convince herself I was joking, ration and my entire change of demeanor alerted her in every way. Taking her hand I brought it closer to my nose and sniffed. Her muscles tensed, heartbeat picking up "You have washed your hands, however blood still resides under these monstrosities."
Yanking herself from my grasp she picked up her cup with a pair of shaky hands, but on her skin goose bumps formed. A moment of curiosity drilled into me, was she actually disgusted by the fact she was touched by a demon or just frightened? "So what? You came here to play knight in shining armor or try to scare me?"
"No Sora, I don't need to try." Crossing one leg over the other I leaned back in the couch "For Hana I am not a knight." She looked over a sharp yelled leaving her mouth as vines started spreading before her eyes. She was too petrified to scream, probably knew better, she wasn't stupid that's for sure "For her I am like a wild untamed garden of roses. She had battled the thorns for years, getting hurt by them for so long. Do you know why she kept going?"
She swallowed an impossibly big mouth of coffee before speaking again, a drop rolling down her chin "Because she wanted to reach the roses?" her eyes tried to focus on me, however the plants were her main concern.
"Wrong." A vine traveled past me reaching out to her "Because she wants to touch me. Untangle me from the thorns, unravel my world and perception, try to heal if I allow her the privilege."
Even in her state, as sweat started coating her skin she let out a chuckle "You must think highly of yourself." I did enjoy the retaliation to some degree. Her mask did not fall completely, she was addicted to it, but it was cracking, showing some of her true colors.
"No, she does." Taking a small pouch out of my breast pocket I placed a pinch of its content inside her cup "Drink."
"No." she finally struggled against the vines surrounding her and I had to take the cup from her hands to ensure the content would not land on the floor. My eyes froze her in place, her face draining from all color.
"Don't be simple Sora, I am not going to kill you." Her eyes traveled to the cup inching closer to her "I will not hurt you if you do as I say." A small whimper left her mouth as I proceeded closer "Inside I placed the pollen the fantasy flower. You will feel sleepy but after you have awakened, memories, certain ones will be forgotten. You will be confused for a couple of days, but everything will fall into place eventually."
Opening her jaw she had no choice but to drink, coughing hard at the end making me turn my face away from her violent display "I did forget to mention it's highly bitter. My mistake." The smile offered was nothing close to sweet "You will forget about Hana." She was shaking like a leaf, the vines dancing along with her trepidations "You will forget your futile attempt to win me over. You will remember Suichi Minamino because unfortunately we are family friends." A yawn escaped her mouth.
"Then how are you so sure I will not pursue you again?"
A smirk formed in the corner of my mouth "Because the fear you feel now will remain locked away in your subconscious. You will not understand why you feel such terror, but you will and your decision will be just one, to stay away." Away from me and those I care for.
As her lids fell heavy, she had but one more thing to say "I feel sorry for her." As she fell asleep I cleaned my cup and made sure she wouldn't know another person had been inside the apartment.
After dinner I took my phone out and sent a message to Hana: "Meet me tomorrow at 18:00 in front of our former school. Come wearing the old uniform." Ten minutes later she replied "Ok kinky fox, but I am bringing a leash for you."
By all means Hana, do as you please.
A/N: Hello lovely people, published this more than a week ahead of schedule since next week will be very busy for me. Really excited about this chapter and how it went, even if it was a bit shorter than usual. What is Kurama planning now? What will be his next move with Hana?
After a rather cryptic message from Kurama, here I am at 18:00 at our former school, dressed up in what used to be our uniform. I am not late, however he is nowhere near the gates. Damn it, knew I should have stopped at that pet shot and gotten that collar. Tie him to a heating station or something and leave his ass there like he is letting my ass wait now.
Just when I was ready to call and give him a piece of my mind the phone chimed, a new message coming through: "Come and find me."
What sort of game are you playing at Kurama? Shrugging my shoulders I made my way through the yard that was now deserted since most classes were over by this hour. There were probably a few club activities, a student president around or two, but other than that and with the uniform I could walk around freely.
Glancing behind my shoulder, my mind went back to the first moment Yusuke presented himself at my school, that punk ass attitude emanating from him like an aura. At that time I was uncertain if he wanted to beat me up or talk to me about the things that were happening around us. Needless to say we clicked after a few name calling, over a cigarette while skipping classes. That day we sat in the park where his colourful tongue mixed with my acidic remarks brought out new worlds, unraveled hidden mysteries that I could only dream about. He liked me and I him, just like that.
The main doors brought a smile on my face as I pushed them open arriving at the lockers located in the main hall. Kurama's former locker was number 14 and even with a paint job over the old one, you could still see the shape of hearts girls scratched on the surface of it. Mine was 29, opposite of his so when we would intersect and leave school at the same hour I would always see letters falling out of his locker, him picking them up with a small sigh and placing them in his briefcase. Probably threw them in the nearest trash can on his way home, but that was just an assumption on my part. But I knew none of those letters made his eyes shine.
Climbing the stairs I scouted the hall, but thankfully no one was there so I went and sat in our former class, sitting in the last chair from the window row where Kurama used to sit. I was on the third bench, wall row for the first two years, until I was moved in the last bench middle row after I grew in height when I took up volleyball.
Looking out the window, I had a clear view of the school's front yard. Giggling I imagined him rolling his eyes seeing me run out of the yard, sometimes with teachers yelling after me.
My parents were living and still are in Mushiori, on the outskirts of the city, in a nice quiet house neighborhood and needed to travel for a few hours by car, through traffic to get here. I was staying at the same apartment I am now, which belonged to my late grandmother. Teachers always blamed my parents for their lack of attention whenever I got in trouble and were always considerate since I was a minor living alone. Unfortunately some teachers also knew how violent my father would get.
One time the principal called him to discuss me skipping classes. Fucking pricks, my grades were good, however I soon found out it wasn't enough. Father was so pissed that he had to drive to Sarayashiki that the second he stepped in the office the principal didn't even manage to get out a word before he started slapping me around and pushed me in a book rack, cracking my head open. Needless to say they thought twice about calling my parents after my blood soaked the principal's carpet.
Sighing I got up and decided to head to the green house in search for Kurama. He dragged me there when he saw my powers manifested, however apart from the humidity and heat, I was alone with the plants. Not a lot has changed around school, however you could tell Kurama wasn't the one who was taking care of the plants.
Filling a watering can, I watered a few that looked like they needed it. I was far from being referred to as having a green thumb, but I did pay attention to some hints Kurama provided whenever we were attending the flowers at the temple. Satisfied with my work I ran a hand across my forehead exiting the green house. My eyes lifted to the roof top so I figured why not. He probably was there to begin with but it was nice walking around my former school.
Several flights of stairs later, my hands pushed open the metal door and I stepped on the roof top. Kurama turned to me after checking his clock and looked at me with an expression I honestly couldn't read.
"Ok, what gives?" I asked pointing to his ex uniform. God how I hatted that pink mockery for the boys and don't get me started on this not red, not pink version for the girls. He looked at me, unresponsive, making sure I was done before he could speak. I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. There must be a reason for him bringing me up here and asking to be dressed like this.
His eyes flickered to the ground as I stood there silent, waiting for him to speak.
"Look Hana" that tone was too serious and it made me shiver despite the sun being extra warm for a spring day "I am fully aware that it's late and that you are tired." my brows drew together, agitation making me grip the straps of my backpack "You are aware of my feelings for you" his eyes finally focused back to me "so this isn't really a confession."
As my gaze widened I finally understood, he was pulling a me. He was reenacting more or less our last day of high school, our last discussion.
"But you're a demon." He smirked, probably proud I caught on.
"I was trying to protect you from myself." he again looked to the side, that probably being the only indication that he was a bit nervous since he was treading on uncertain grounds "I thought I was doing you a favor, yet you still loved the danger more than your normal life. And honestly I should not be the one making decisions for you." taking a few steps he came closer to me "I should have done this long ago, but I didn't." taking my hands into his he gave them a gentle squeeze "I know what I want and that is you."
Blinking a couple of times I retracted my hands shaking my head for better focus, trying to gather my thoughts.
"Did I misjudge the situation once again?" he finally asked after a long moment of silence.
"If we do this" I spoke using short sentences or else I felt like my voice would break down "We won't be friends" I let out a shuddered breath "if it won't work…things will change."
"True, it would be hard to go back to normal if things don't work out, however I would like to give us a bit more credit in that sense."
For some reason I felt like crying and it was more a sense of relief than happiness filling me. I was actually relieved. My hands were shaking, I was blinking fast trying to hold back tears and he didn't know what to make of it as worry set in his eyes.
"Are you saying you're actually giving me a chance?" looking down at my face, a small chuckle escaped him "What is so funny mister?" his right hand travelled up my arm, long gentle fingers playing with a strand of my hair.
"You always had a chance Hana" I have never seen him look at me like that, so gentle and yet so agitated "this is me giving myself a chance." I looked away churning that information, trying to keep the countless questions forming inside my head at bay. This was so confusing, so infuriating even.
"Why?" I just had to ask, I could not refrain myself from asking that question. Screw the harsh lines that appeared near his eyes, screw the disappointment taking place on his face "Answer me that Kurama."
"A bit curious are we?" even if he tried to make it sound like a joke, he was scolding me for the simple three letters addressed. He probably expected me to jump in his arms, say YES in a breathless beat and melt at his feet. He most certainly expected for me to put the pieces together, realise when it all started, to get it and take hints, but no. I designed myself to be this impractical.
"Fine!" I raised my tone since he wasn't answering "Is it because I don't manage you at all? I won't ever just so you know. Because I did manage to surprise you like I fucking said I would?" his hand dropped as his eyes widened "Have a bit more faith Kurama dear."
"Yes." he admitted silently "Those are some of those reasons. I am a complicated creature."
"Foxy understatement." a colorful laugh exploded from his mouth, his rigid posture finally relaxing in front of me causing me to crack a smile of my own.
"Thank you Hana." I rolled my eyes just for dramatic purposes. It was clear he wasn't going to tell me why but his next question did surprise me "Do you not want to be with me?" Turning a pair of glossy eyes to him I extended my arms out to reach him and wrapped them around him. I did, I do, I will in the future. Being so close I could feel his heart beat against my body, fast, fluttering. He was nervous, good at hiding but that pace of heart betrayed him.
"I do." it took two simple words for his heart beat to pick up before settling down to a normal rhythm "But I still get to prank you."
"You'd better up your game then especially now that we will be spending more time together."
Challenge accepted Kurama, with all that it implies, challenge accepted.
A/N: Woot! We have finally reached this moment. Hana and Kurama together at last. Now, now, there is still a lot waiting to happen believe me, I have a lot planned for you guys.
However I do have an announcement to make. I will be taking a break since I have to plan a wedding so this means that I will be going on hiatus for July and August. I will still be around, just not as active and not publishing, however believe me I will come back in full force.
Big thanks all around, you lovely bunch you.
Friday afternoon I was radiating from head to toes. The results for my tests came in and I passed both of them with fairly good grades which in my book was a win. The first test landed me a score of 90 points out of 100 and the second was which I actually dreaded got me 85. In my usual fashion once the classes were over I bolted out of the classroom and hopped in my car in order to go pick up my favorite all time fox so we could head to the temple.
This weekend it would be a fairly small crowd composed of yours truly, Yusuke, Kurama and of course Hiei who basically lives around the area. Kuwabara will be joining us on Sunday morning since Yukina is in town for some clothes shopping and toiletries she required. Frankly it's good that she gets to leave the temple, she can't keep sitting there, locked away from the world around her. And if I were to put honesty in front of everything, there were demons stronger than her roaming about.
Once I reached the parking lot at Kurama's building, he was already there waiting for me, looking quite handsome if I do say to myself. I don't know if it's because of the butterflies swarming inside my stomach, but it's clear this giddy feeling is making me smile more.
"Sorry, traffic is infernal."
Securing his bag in the back of my truck next to all the bags of groceries and other stuff I got my hands on, he jumped in the passenger seat. We looked at each other, him leaning in his seat before deciding against the action performed and sat back looking out the window after securing the seat belt. My brows lifted as I tried not to cringe at the awkwardness. If he felt even a modicum of what I was feeling, he also had no clue how to handle the warmth in his chest.
We had in the begging, middle and all the way to the end, no freaking clue how to act now that we were together. We have never been on a date, did not share a kiss (one that is not induced by creepy pheromones off a teen demon), we never held hands while walking down the street, no intimate moments, nada, zilch. We have been friends more or less and surrounded by friends.
Gripping the stirring wheel I shifted to reverse backing out of the parking spot. On the road, the sound coming from the radio and filling the car made me even more agitated. After asking each other in unison how our day was we once again in perfect sync reacted, me with a face palm, him with running a hand through his bangs as he exhaled annoyed. Silence formed between us, thick and daunting as we took time to regroup and form ideas in our heads.
"You know" I mentioned trying to focus on the road "I heard sex is the perfect ice breaker." glancing his way I caught his eyes going wide and then that cheeky cute frown once I started laughing. With the tension dispersing slowly but surely we started chatting like normal people and I couldn't be more relieved. I would have hated for us to end up a silly mess. Like come on, really?
"Hey" I nudged him with my right hand poking his leg "we'll take it slow, learn about one another ok?" his hand found mine, thumb stroking the back of it in a gentle gesture.
"I'd like that very much, however until then…" I heard the seat belt unbuckle, his hand leaving mine. Next thing I knew his lips pressed to my cheek, a smile creeping up on me. We'll be just fine.
Once we arrived, Hiei helped with the bags, the three of us splitting up on the temple grounds. I cleaned, Kurama tended to the garden and Hiei sorted all the groceries, placing them in their rightful place.
In the middle of those tasks I was checking my phone rather frequently. Yusuke had messaged me to brag that Keiko had a project and thus needed to work on it so she couldn't come this weekend. That ensured he could drink, smoke and curse without having someone smashing something over his head or constantly telling him off for doing this and that. What I was actually checking was the weekend challenge, but got nothing. Even reset my phone thinking it probably went stupid, but no, Yusuke actually did not send his weekend text message across.
Several hours later around ten in the evening as we all sat down for a small snack, Yusuke finally made his way to the temple. Setting down a rather heavy looking bag he grinned at us from ear to ear as his butt hit the chair. Apparently he accompanied the pheromone demon to the train station where he was picked up by Kaito, hence the reason for being so late.
"And the other one?" I asked pushing a bowl of nachos in front of him.
"Still at the safe house. Jin and the rest also left. Koenma's orders apparently."
So there was no need for him to be supervised? It all seemed rather odd but I didn't have time to dwell on the thought too much since Yusuke reached inside his bag and plopped on the table a bottle of tequila followed by one of lemon liquor and then a bottle of white rum. As he light up a cigarette I grabbed him an ashtray after opening the windows wide, me, Hiei and Kurama watching the booze as if it was going to escape the table surface and land in our mouths trying to get us drunk. As Kurama went to grab us some shot glasses, I glanced at Hiei shrugging my shoulders since Yusuke was too engrossed in his phone.
"Ha!" I jumped a bit startled by his exclamation "Here, this is the weekend theme." through the cigarette smoke his phone was placed on the table, an application on it opened for all of us to view. Kurama raised a brow as he poured some tequila.
"Never have I ever?"
"Aha!" Yusuke delivered another smile our way "The app generates random things based on different topics. If you have done what it states then you take a shot." getting up I grabbed the salt shaker and some lemon slices while Yusuke took out some cold beer form the refrigerator.
All of us had a task even if they weren't verbalized between us, just Hiei sat at the table, his wide eyes watching the phone with a deadly glare "Fine." he suddenly spoke crossing his hands over his chest. I smiled. Hiei never, well almost never played with us, so I rather liked this twist of events. It meant he liked the idea for once and also the company that surrounded him.
"Ok" Yusuke took the phone "We cross out high school since it's not a topic for everyone." Kurama went behind him analyzing the topics as well.
"Cross out work as well." Yusuke's finger tapped at the screen "And gross please."
"Sour sport. Taking out the best bit." Yusuke complained but still ticked the category off. We were in the end left with: adolescence, sexuality, shame and alcohol.
"Hit it." I urged him as the phone was placed in the middle of the table, all of us squinting and twisting our necks to try and get a look. Kurama picked it up reading the first one.
"Never have I ever gone to high school." Eyes traveled to Hiei who smirked since he did not attend one but the same applied to Yusuke who actually looked disappointed since he didn't get the first shot. Me and Kurama toasted to us and down the hatch it went. The phone was then presented to me after Yusuke checked the categories once more since he found it weird the first one had been a high school theme although it was not selected. Looking at the screen I related the message.
"Never have I ever thought the people present here would not achieve anything in life. What is this bullshit?" Hiei's glass lifted from the table, reaching his lips, not as much as a grimace coming from him, but the dirty looks he got from each of us was enough.
"Well you took out all the fun stuff." Yusuke protested as his phone reached Hiei. His eyes went wide as he read through his teeth.
"Never have I ever had erotic phone conversations." Another shot hit my throat and so did Yusuke's, while Hiei's and Kurama's remained untouched on the table. Kurama's brow lifted as he glanced over at me.
"What?" I am no saint honey."
After a heartfelt laugh from Yusuke's side he finally read his part "Never have I ever lost my virginity at a friend's house." Despite us looking at each other, no one drank "Either you are all a bunch of virgins or all of you got freaky shagging somewhere else."
Kurama hid a smile behind his hand while Hiei delivered his famous "Hn" but there was a hint of amusement present in that small monosyllabic expression of his. The phone travelled back to Kurama who took a moment to read what was on the screen "Never have I ever made out with someone of the same sex." Both of us had a shot, them all knowing the kiss Shizuru planted on me, however eyes were glued to fox boy whishing we could get more dirt on him "A long time ago, can we please move on?" handing me the phone, he hoped I at least had the decency to keep my mouth shut. Wrong again there pal.
"Well apparently I am not the only one keeping my options opened." Pushing the phone in my hand his head tilted to the side, eyes never leaving my face.
"I think I'm good where I am now, wouldn't you agree?" ignoring him I took a sip of beer straight from the can.
"Never have I ever had a friend with benefits." We shared some looks and although I did not have one, my hand went to the lemon liquor since I could not take too many shots of tequila without feeling ill at one point. However when we looked at Hiei, his empty glass hit the table "Ummm, Hiei?" his eyes stopped at my face "A friend with benefits is someone you have occasional sex with but is also a friend."
"I know what it means woman."
Yusuke almost spilled the beer from his hand as a portion of what was in his mouth flew straight out of his nose upon hearing that. Kurama chose to look at the ceiling probably knowing more on the subject but ignoring it altogether.
"Good for you Hiei." Was all I could say really since I was felt perplex as I passed him the phone. A frown on his behalf indicated he did not like what he had.
"Never have I ever changed a contact name to hide who it was." He didn't drink and neither did I so I guess he just didn't like technology related topics, however the other two guys in the room did drink. Guess being an ex Spirit Detective and an ex demon, well full demon, did come with sneaking certain information or masking it to the eyes of others.
Yusuke's turn came up and by that point we were pretty close in shots numbers "Never have I ever forgotten something from the night before because of alcohol. Pfff, drink up everyone." And sadly he was right, we all have been in that position at one point in our lives.
Glaring slightly as he picked the phone in his hand, Kurama pinched the bridge of his nose "Never have I ever received oral sex without being shaved." Hiei and Yusuke literally fist bumped before drinking the shot causing me to roll my eyes.
"Really Kurama, you shave?" I honestly didn't get what Yusuke was so surprised about.
"Of course." He replied with a dead serious expression looking directly at the puffed cheeks trying to hold it together "If my partner takes time to be…" he tried to contain the laughter bubbling inside him a while longer "presentable Yusuke, it's only fair I do the same." An amused sound was heard from Hiei's side which drew the attention to him while Yusuke snickered away "Care to add something Hiei?"
"No one cares about body hair, you're a demon so you especially shouldn't."
Kurama rested his chin in the palm of his hand, an amused look swimming in his eyes "I'm fairly certain my pubes are really none of your concern."
Me and Yusuke burst out in laughter, him just having to ask if the carpet matched the drapes. Kurama apparently was surprised by his own statement, his eyes lowering to the glass in front of him.
"Light weight." I commented snatching the phone from him "Never have I ever gone into the wrong hole." Yusuke was the only one to drink, washing it down with beer since he was not necessarily the salt and lemon adding to the mix type of guy.
Hiei calmly took his turn, reading out loud the line to us "Never have I ever drunk alcohol because of social pressure." To that we all drank in unison after which Kurama got up to make a filter full of coffee as we all munched on some snacks as we all waited for him to finish. We knew by this point, Kurama had enough hard alcohol ingested and it was clear he was not the shots drinking kind.
Once coffee was brought for everyone, we took all the stuff to the living room so we could just sit on the floor and continue our game. Yusuke's eyes fell on the screen as he read "Never have I ever doubted one of the player's sexual orientation." That was once more another round the table drink.
"Geez guys, we suck." Stretching on a pillow, the first sip of coffee hit my lips, promising to at least try to wake me up from the incoming shots.
Gracefully taking the phone from me Kurama rolled his eyes as he read "Never have I ever groped my partner on public transport." We knew for sure Yusuke did, I did, but the lemon liquor made it more bearable. Kurama also poured the alcohol down his throat, ignoring our looks entirely, but this was actually fun. We were finding out things we had no idea either of us had done. The shock of the moment came from Hiei though as his glass also became empty.
Kurama got up to make sandwiched and honestly I could not blame him. With all the work we did once arriving on the grounds, food was not a priority. Yusuke also got up to help him telling Hiei he was lying. Really now what type of public transport exists in Demon World?
Looking over his shoulder, the fire demon smirked "On patrol, with my partner that was assigned. It was on accident, but it counts." my eyes lingered on his figure, jaw line moving as he talked. Hiei was an attractive demon, rough around the edges yes, but that tone tanned body of his and deep bloody coloured eyes made him pleasing in a sense. Honestly apart from a few demons that I have met, Hiei has been the one closest to me. Turning a pair of semi hazy eyes, confidence radiated off him in large waves.
"Really woman? I don't need my Jagan to feel your stare." he laughed at my startled face causing Kurama to peak back in the room upon hearing him. I found myself laughing as well at how silly I was. God they were all great.
Once food was presented to me and Hiei who didn't even bother lifting our butts off the pillows, my turn began "Never have I ever looked at a friend's boobs." They all looked at my chest, a sideway glance from Kurama making the other boys raise their drinks. That was once again another full shot round around the table because let's be honest, boobs are one of the greatest things on this planet.
Hiei accepted the phone and went very easily along with "Never have I ever sneaked away to have sex." I didn't, having my own place did have some advantages. Kurama also didn't but that smelled fishy to me. Looking at me I stared at the ceiling whistling. Yusuke and Hiei however downed another shot.
Yusuke took the phone very close to his face, a drunken disappointed grunt leaving his lips as he took a swing from his beer instead "Never have I ever had sex with someone present." Nope we didn't, none of us did, yet Kurama looked over at me before taking the phone from Yusuke, a rosy hint coloring his cheeks due to the alcohol. I kicked him gently under the table his eyes widening while mine were telling him to get his mind out of the gutter.
"Right." He surveyed the table "Last turn, we haven't eaten properly."
Yusuke's quick dismissal followed. It was either Kurama played, quit or got too drunk to function properly, but honestly out of all of us he had it bad in the tolerance department. I was pretty sure no one could beat Kurama in a red wine drink out, but shots were another thing. Yusuke took the cake, topping us with ten short ingested while me, Hiei and Kurama all had eight of our own. Guess we were all pretty tight in the misfits department.
"I think he's right Yusuke, we can continue drinking since we're not that lame as to go to sleep but everyone will drink at their own pace." Sticking his tongue out, he showed me the middle finger, so I retaliated in the same manner offering a cheeky grin of my own. Choosing to not pay too much attention to our shenanigans as we were now battling to see who had the longest tongue, Kurama played on.
"Never have I ever gotten a friend hooked up." I drank but was genuinely surprised I was the only one.
"Really, just me? Ya boring!" taking the phone from Kurama who nodded my way a small thank you for trying to save the night I laughed being amused at the text in front of my eyes "Ok, let's see this one. Never have I ever fallen asleep during sex." Hiei slowly raised his glass glaring at us. His smile turned upside down as he tried to ignore the comments going around the table, that it was rude and who the fuck falls asleep during sex. Yanking the phone from my hand I shut my trap.
"Never have I ever been ashamed of having sex with someone." we all drank apart from Yusuke who of course had nothing to be ashamed of since he probably only been with Keiko.
"Fuck me." Kurama frowned after drinking, quickly slapping a hand over his mouth causing me to giggle. It's fun seeing him like this, dropping the F bomb, alcohol sure does wonders. All eyes turned to Yusuke, trying to concentrate on reading his last line.
"Never have I ever made out with the person reading this question? What the actual Hell?"
That sealed it, we were safe from another forced shot. Getting up, I went between Yusuke and Hiei lifting their hands in the air "We three are the winners, the misfit champions, the best of the best with ten shots each to boast. Which we will all probably regret in the morning." looking over at a giggling Kurama I added "Sorry honey you only had…" I took a double count "Nine. You are a mini misfit."
With a pair of cloudy eyes and a gorgeous smile he looked over at me "I am fine with that, someone has to."
The night air filled the room where we chatted, beers being drained against our intoxicated bodies, jokes and random jabber ringing all across the living room. Yusuke had to mention three times, because I am certain he forget the previous ones, that it was such a pity having my powers but not being able to cure hangovers. Yup, would have been one hell of a power. Honestly it all went by so fast that don't even recall the hour when we fell asleep.
OK, ok I know I said I was going on hiatus, but I really wanted to get a chapter out. It would not leave me alone, it wanted published, it wanted to be free so I said fine, here, have at it fox boy.
Hope you enjoyed their little game, see you next time lovelies.
Chapter 21: Hangover cure
When I finally started waking up from the grasp of sleep, I was stunned to see we were all still in the living room, partially because I couldn't even remember falling asleep in the first place. I was all snug and cozy under a blanket with Kurama's arms wrapped around my body. Lifting my head slightly as to not wake up Kurama, I saw Yusuke was spread on the floor, snoring a bit and I suppressed the urge to giggle. He once told me men don't actually snore, they dream about being a motorcycle. Well if that was the case he needed to have a mechanic check his pipes. On the window sill Hiei also slept peacefully, his hands folded over his chest in his usual pose. Turning back to Kurama's face I smiled as my hand slowly brushed some hair away from his face. As slowly as I could I crept closer, placing on his lips a gentle kiss "Ssshh! Kiss but don't tell." I whispered like a small chant, hoping to everyone and everything above he would not wake up.
I almost jumped out of my skin the following moment when Kuwabara's cheery voice reached my ears, echoing from the temple entrance. I flinched, headache growing as Kurama suddenly got up startled, his forehead interacting brutally with my mouth, his head bouncing back on the pillow. A pair of gentle eyes went wide as he saw my hand flying over my mouth as I groaned in pain.
Hiei shifted in his spot, calling Kuwabara stupid without even bothering to open his eyes, all while Yusuke just turned to the side mumbling something in his sleep. Kuwabara presented himself seconds into the scene unfolding, stopping in the door frame, confusion rising between his brows seeing everyone in the living room.
"Smells like a distillery in here." right hand went quickly, pinching his nose and distorting his voice "How much did you guys drink last night?" his feet shifted and shuffled between empty beer cans, shot plastic cups, bottles and snacks.
Ignoring him and his loud voice my hands glowed, one healing the broken lip just earned, the other the horrid headache. Looking at Kurama and his big apologetic eyes I pressed a hand to his forehead dealing with his pain as well. Wish I could cure the sickness in my stomach, but unfortunately I can't. Glaring at Yusuke I hated the fact that he had to remind me of that as well last night. Imagine the money I could make, hangover cure – just one touch away, that would be my slogan.
Pushing the blanket off I got up, heading to Hiei's spot. No protest left his lips as I healed his headache as well, his eyes not even opening to look over at me. Guess I was just as important as Kuwabara's intrusion. Turning to Yusuke, Kurama was placing a pillow under his head and the blanket we shared over his body.
"He will probably sleep it off." Nodding my head made me feel sicker. I needed cold soda, that was my main cure. Kurama needed tea since that was the only thing that could slowly bring him back to a normal state while Hiei battles his sickness with black coffee but generally after it's almost cold. He can't stand hot coffee in his stomach after a night of drinking.
"Hey could you stop ignoring me?" but we did ignore poor Kuwabara. Not necessary because we were doing it intentionally, but because we weren't functional. Once I reached my room and managed to take a shower, I finally saw the time since the haze over my eyes lifted somewhat. Heading to the kitchen my fists coiled in Kuwabara's shirt, pulling him to my height.
"It's not even eight in the damn morning." my voice sounded dry, like I had been battling a throat infection "Why am I up?" rubbing the back of his head he presented me the best version of puppy dog eyes he could manage. Yukina came closer to us but decided to wait until I unhanded her hubby before addressing her question.
"Do you want me to make breakfast?"
I didn't shake my head in fear of the headache crashing back in my skull. I needed comfort food, we all did actually.
"Neah, we need something fatty, bad for us."
Entering the kitchen, Yusuke looked at everyone present as he scratched his belly. In his right hand he had a new beer can, that's how he woke up from a hangover. Different people, different cures I recon. Dragging his feet he came in front of me, taking my hand and placing it on top of his head, grunting at me like an ape. He only spoke once I healed his pain.
After stretching and indulging us with a magnificent loud burp "Man I would kill for a burger." He had a great idea. With some fries and sauces that would be the best handover meal I could ask for. Kurama and Hiei shortly joined us, however the idea although a good one, apparently had flaws.
I just sat there enjoying my soda and just listened to them bickering. It looked like everyone had a different idea if what the perfect burger was. Yukina watched with her small hands cupped close to her chest, worry painted on her cute face.
"Oi!" I yelled once Yusuke and Kuwabara were ready to settle the matter with their fists, Yukina jumping to the side and further away from me "We are all groggy and impatient at this hour. How about you four studs each rock your perfect fucking burger and me and Yukina handle the fries?" they all directed their attention towards me "I'll also throw in some mojitos and we'll judge the best burger. Deal boys?"
Apparently that was all they needed to hear. The kitchen soon became a swarm of hands cutting, mixing, spicing, each of the boys making their own batch of meat. Once the grills were heated up, the mojito promised was already on the table outside and the potatoes pealed and ready for a deep fry bath.
Sitting on the porch, me and Yukina smiled at one another while the chaps worked and cooked. She mostly studied Kuwabara, who would every once in a while turn to wave at her or smile, but I saw her eyes glancing at Hiei as well. Some days I wondered if she suspected anything or if I was just imaging it.
Peering over to Kurama's cooking station I could tell the minute my eyes landed on him that he was hot. Not the hot everyone sees in him and makes girl swoon, but actual sweating hot. Filling up a glass with some cold mojito for him, I walked over. Turning to me he smiled thanking for the cool drink that landed in his sight. Extending my hands out I took hold of his fine scarlet hair, tying it in a high ponytail and securing it with a hair tie I always have at hand on my wrist.
"Aren't you going to kiss the cook as well?"
"Now, now" I said placing a hand on my hip "you did not win yet did you?"
Pursing my lips he nodded smiling and my heart melted. Leaving him to his stuff my eyes caught Hiei staring over at us with a shocked expression. Oh, that's right, we didn't tell anyone that we decided to become a couple. Sticking my tongue out at him brought the little fire demon out of his daze and back to his glaring charming self. It's more fun playing with them than outright saying it.
Once everyone had their drinks, me and Yukina retreated to fry the potatoes as per instructions received. As the oil was sizzling away and a new batch promised to turn from raw to golden goodness, Yukina stepped near me with a glass of mojito.
"Thank you, I forgot about me." Laughing away I glanced out the window being distracted by Yusuke shouting some obscenities and blowing against his fingers with great ferocity.
"Were you scared at the beginning?" my eyes travelled to hers, straw dangling from my mouth "When you found out about everything?" me and Yukina have never had these types of conversations because honestly I never saw the reason behind them. For her to ask out of the blue something personal was odd to say the least. Placing the glass on the counter, I focused my attention on her.
"You mean being afraid of demons?" her light head nod soon followed so I had to answer "I guess. Kurama scared me when he found out I possessed powers. Hiei too in a way though he never hurt me really. I was sure Yusuke came to punch my teeth in."
"But you're over it now. You and the team are so close." Still had no idea where she was getting at.
"I guess in a way. I've met humans capable of more bad things than demons to be honest." Her hands wrapped around my arm making me jump slightly at her cool touch against my skin. I didn't know her past, just what Yusuke has shared over the years, but this demon girl was sad, that much I could tell. She was scared more than likely by what humans have done to her. When Yusuke related saving her I have not believed I would get a chance to meet her in person. She wasn't what I had imagined, yet I was glad she wasn't.
"Did humans hurt you too?" there it was. How could I answer her question? Damn it, I was never very good at these types of conversations.
"Look" I stirred in the fries and then placed a hand on top of hers "I can't pretend to know what happened to you, but know this, no species has just good or bad. We mix ok?" her eyes bore into mine, deep pools of curiosity sucking me in "Besides, we'd all kick the ass of someone trying to hurt you." She giggled away in the sleeve of her pale kimono, head resting against my left arm as she happily watched the potatoes changing colours. We sat like that until I needed both my arms to take out the finished product. Outside I caught a glimpse of Hiei, paying yet again attention to the interactions around him. With a smirk he turned back to the grill, but nothing harsh clouded his face.
"Come on Yukina, let's judge the best burger in the temple."
Once outside we scouted the boys assembling the final pieces. Everything smelled lovely and looked very appealing, but they still had to pass the taste test. Yukina and myself, like the true judges that we were, first surveyed the final dishes before tasting. It was so delightful to see a part of their personality landing on the plates.
Yusuke for example had a type of messy burger, but even while cooking it the confidence radiated from his body. He knows how to cook, loves it and is damn good at it even if hamburgers are not a traditional dish. But the way his burger tasted was divine. The cheese was oozing out of the steamy lushness, pickles were not necessarily my thing, however they really brought everything together.
"You'd better like it bitch ass or else." His hand extended a napkin to Yukina first and then myself, however that remark was set for me from the get go. That's what he called me the first time we met in front of my high school when I was certain he would kick my ass for daring to call him an "ass bitch" in return. Still makes me laugh.
Giving him the thumbs up, I wiped away at my mouth and then proceeded to Kuwabara. His approach was more classic, cheese, lettuce, regular burger buns, damn we buy a load of peculiar stuff.
"What's this sauce you made?" his face light up, him being very proud I noticed the kick in the mix. Apparently it was something simple: ketchup, mayonnaise and just a dash of vinegar all mixed into a cute pinkish delicious sauce. He blushed, rubbing his head at the compliment Yukina gave him so I moved over to Kurama's table in order to taste his dish.
On point, neat, all stacked up perfectly, cut to exact pieces. His eyes followed my expression and smiled when my eyes went wide.
"Cheddar, coleslaw salad with a touch of brandy in the mix for an extra kick, bread crumbs in the meat and lastly" he leaned closer "I warmed the buns so they would not get soggy." Smiling I also leaned closer to him.
"Are you flirting with me in order to win favour points mister?" as he shrug his shoulders gently Yukina came near us to also test his version of the perfect hamburger. Somehow without even talking about it we both looked to be on the same page regarding our status. We would not hide it from others, but we would let them catch the idea on their own. It was better, it felt right. It felt mischievous not to declare our relationship.
Hiei cleared his throat, losing chucks of his patience in the process, so after thanking Kurama for the presentation we went close to his station.
"Tell me" I asked as he cut the burger in two halves "how come you know how to cook a burger? I doubt it's a Demon World specialty." A well-deserved glare pierced my face causing me to roll my eyes away from his fury.
"Don't be thick headed woman, following a set of instructions is pitifully simple."
He did have a point, the presentation looked good, the meat was done right and at the first bite the flavours exploded in my mouth, spices and hotness colliding. Just what has he been learning recently? Yukina looked at me fanning her face a little so I guessed it was probably too hot for her taste, but for me Hiei's burger was heaven sent.
"Hiei's burger is the best for me." Yusuke shouted something in my direction but his empty threats fell on deaf ears as I continued eating while Hiei's looked over at everyone with a triumphant smirk on his lips. Yukina however voted for Kuwabara's take on the burger which made him swell with pride.
In the end we just all gathered on the porch, sharing burgers and drinks, the hangover long gone. So I guess it's not necessarily the food that proved to be the hangover cure, but just being in each other's presence on a lazy morning. But damn, that burger though!
Chapter 22: Making a decision
Sunday evening I dropped Kuwabara off at the train station since it was easier for both of us that way since my small truck only had 3 seats and even those were not big enough for me, Yusuke and Kurama. Thank God none of us were fat. The first destination was Kurama's apartment, him having to just wave goodbye at us, offering me a long look before choosing to actually leave. Yusuke didn't get it since he didn't know, but I did. He wanted a few moments alone with me and so did I.
Once the last passenger had arrived safely to the destination, I made one more stop at a local supermarket in order to pick up some things for myself. Once I had finally reached my building I was forced to walk up the stairs, balancing two heavy bags while trying not to fall backwards since my back pack was also heavy. I swear this stupid elevator needs repairing every two weeks or so. Not that I generally use it since I live on one of the lower floors, but it's no fun when I have groceries.
Setting a few clothes in the washing machine, I turned it on to let it do its thing before progressing to the kitchen. With all the relevant stuff in their rightful place my next assignment was the coffee filter. It needed to be set and ready to provide me a steaming cup of hot goodness before I woke up. It was one of the few things that actually made me feel less alone in my apartment, like the smell of the fresh coffee in the early morning granted me a modicum of comfort.
Behind me as I was happily pressing the timer button, someone cleared their throat. I jumped, turning around, trying to morph in the counter. My territory bloomed from inside my body, spilling energy wider than my apartment, as fear made my heart pound against my rib cage with great ferocity. Covering my eyes, I groaned at the bright light forcing me to cover my face. Calling back my territory I could finally see, although my vision was blurry.
"Fucking Hell Koenma!" my brain fired up instantly as I shouted more obscenities, heart finally daring to settle after the scare received. But as I was running my mouth and he watched me with wide eyes probably taken by surprise just as much as myself, questions started swarming inside my head.
"Apologies." He finally managed to get out as I caught my breath. His brows drew together, eyes a bit weary as he looked at me, however the reason behind that look was unbeknownst to me "It wasn't in my intention to startle you. Do you mind?" he asked, index finger pointed to the coffee filter near me.
"I do mind actually." Taking a step closer to him my voice rose "Why the fuck are you in my house? I couldn't care less who you are, you could have arranged a proper meeting. Warn me." Showing him the door his brows rose making the JR on his forehead look funny "Now get out and knock like a normal person."
Seeing I would not budge in my stubbornness he made a comment about being as rude as Yusuke before finally getting out of my apartment. After a few seconds a knock was heard, slow and annoyed. Opening the door, my hand flew to my mouth, eyes going big.
"Oh my, I did not expect any visitors at this hour. Please come in."
Passing me with a huff "Was that really necessary?" he did frown whhe I laughed, but I didn't care. Respect if you want to be respected "I would not be here in person if it wasn't important Hana." With that sole statement the blood in my veins changed course making me feel cold. I have not seen him in all the years I have been with the team and suddenly there he was, the second time in a month. As the coffee was being made, I sat on the counter while the king of Spirit World took a seat at my table.
"What is this about?" all traces of humor drained from my core "Is anyone in danger?"
"No." he quickly answered sparing me the anguish "I have come to discuss with you the possibility of a mission." My eyes widened in shock "What I am going to discuss with you is classified, if word got out we could be facing severe consequences."
"Koenma?" I timidly interrupted him "I am not a fighter." But he knew that, of course he did. His eyes held that knowledge, a trace of sadness darkening his honey coloured orbs.
"That's why I am suggesting this with a heavy heart. You have no offence or defense so I will understand if your answer will be no."
The bubbling filter signaled the coffee was just about done but I had too many ideas clicking in my head, making sense. And it became clear he wanted to send just me. If it involved all of us, he would have told us at the temple or request a meeting at a certain space and time.
"Does this have anything to do with the hospital patient I healed?" shaking his head the difficulty of the situation became painfully obvious. I could not kid around anymore, Spirit World needed me. For once I was needed for something more, a mission just like the boys used to have. Extending my hand to an upper cupboard I got off the counter and presented to him the coffee and sugar jar "Ok then tell me, give it to me straight."
"Very well." He nodded his head once, eyes never leaving my face "I need a healer for this certain mission. A different type, someone who can search more than the body." I was that person but his expression indicated he was holding something back. Without prior warning I expanded my territory slowly, eyes squinting at the blinding light his soul gave out. Despite the light, a fog like substance surrounded his core, worry and stress clutched at his radiant center. Yet he shinned through despite that almost opaque surface, the light stronger than anything I have ever seen. Was his soul so bright because he was a different being entirely?
"What do you see?" he spoke softly, his voice barely registering under the weight of my territory. I could feel his gaze never leaving me, I hasn't once since he came to see me. I didn't speak as my hand touched his chest. I didn't answer as my energy worked on just a scratch, soon creating a clear, clean line on his soul "That's enough Hana." His hand rose, yet he didn't touch me, probably due to worry of what might happen if he did.
"There is no reason to be scared." my eyes took him in "By healing the pain I just provide a more stable mind set. I don't and can't tamper with memories or such, just ease pain for a clearer mind." Calling back my territory he sighed touching the place where my hand had previously been on his chest.
"Your powers developed despite not having a master. You have alerted us a lot of times as you wandered around, looking at souls around you, understanding scars and scratches, healing. Tell me, have you ever tried the opposite?" my lips pressed in a tight line, no words leaving my mouth. His eyes widened a fraction "How many times have you practiced on yourself?"
"Where do you want to send me, SIR."
Getting the hint as I hissed the words through my teeth he indulged me "Somewhere where humans tend to become the main course. I will not sugar coat it for you, I want to send you to Demon World.'' It felt like someone short circuited my brain, I wasn't looking at him, but through him, through the furniture and apartment walls, his voice sounding dim "Hana, are you listening to me?" I blinked rapidly shaking my head "Your powers run deeper than that of a normal healer, yet I fear there is still a lot left to master as it affects you." Circling back to the hospital scene it seems. If he said they were alerted by me using my powers that means Ayame was lying and that was just a test "The closer the person is to death or the more damage their soul has, you appear to take a part of that pain with you."
Swallowing a lump in my throat I tried to keep myself from shivering at the memory of that night when Kido found a mess of my usual self "So how far off is this demon?" shaking his head told me he had no idea "Who is it?" he couldn't tell me, not until I said yes and I was already gone. Turning to the coffee filter, I poured a cup for myself and took a big gulp feeling my tongue and throat burning "So you can't tell me anything apart that I am going to Demon World?" crossing his hands over his chest he bobbed his head once.
"I have taken every precaution I could think of, escorts and safe lines but this might still be dangerous for you. The demons there are nothing like the ones you are used to. Your ideals and beliefs…"
"Are none of your concern." His mouth would have flung open further if not for that dreadful pacifier "You said it yourself, you wouldn't be here in person if it wasn't important." He sat calmly, back on the first chair he pulled for himself, fingers tracing the coffee rim "Is this mission part of something bigger?"
His eyes squinted slightly "That's what I believe, but I need proof." Of course, he could not go pointing accusatory fingers without solid evidence "So do you understand why I can't reveal the true nature of this mission and its details?"
"Because you know I'll tell the boys or that Hiei will read my thoughts if he sniffs something odd?"
His eyes traveled to the coffee cup, yet not once had be took a sip "Very funny Hana, but now that you mentioned it, those are some of the reasons." Getting up he offered me a few more words before departing. I was allowed to tell the boys I would be gone and where if I choose to agree and also that Ayame would contact me soon in order to provide me a file with more information on Demon World.
"If I say yes am I signing my death sentence?" I guess it wasn't necessarily the question in itself that made him look at me like that, but the calm inside my voice. Deep down I knew the moment these powers were bestowed on me, trouble would follow.
"I can't make any promises. I'm sorry." He examined me further, sharp eyes taking me in and at that moment he did not look like the ruler Yusuke would always make fun of. Koenma looked older than any of us, despite his young teenage appearance. Getting close to a matter, meeting people who would go out on his behalf must have been difficult. Countless years shaped his soul and no matter what others thought of him, he actually cared. Probably too much for someone in his position. You could see it clear as day light.
"Fine, I'm in." curiosity got the better part of my rational brain. I wanted to see it for myself, to be on the other side of that portal and not be one of the judges that everyone sat before. I felt I needed to count, not just as a healer after a rough training, not as a paper shoving girl for relocated demons. I needed this, this acknowledgement made my soul bounce.
"Are you certain you wish to do this?"
Scoffing I woke myself up from my daze "You got another healer like me available?" his lips curved at the corners in a small smile, yet his eyes didn't shine. Where are you sending me Koenma? Is this so big and serious that you can't even afford to smile? Well this just ruined and made my weekend at the same time.
Chapter 23: Brother like figure
I usually like to believe I am a tough cookie and that I can handle hardship in my own way and not let the outside world see what makes me crumble. Get it? Cookie…crumble…screw it.
Apparently after the talk with Koenma, my brain decided to do a number on me. As soon as sleep caught up to me, which was late I might add, my subconscious bloomed and bleed in the form of nightmares. Monsters spread across distant vast lands ran towards me, each one baring sharp claws and fangs ready to tear and rip into my flesh. I woke up terrified, bright hungry eyes still starring at the back of my head, relentless creatures haunting me even if they were just a figment of my imagination. I jumped out of bed as if it was ready to engulf me, sheets burning me alive.
I urged myself to think, beer feet clapping against the cold floor. Ever since Human World was announced of the existence of demons, things went two ways. Some supported this, wished for it to happen, saw it as a good thing and then there was the opposing camp ready to riot and do anything to send them back to their world. Our work was not for the faint of heart to know about. We were a filter for another filter, countless heads and procedures standing at the base of each relocated demon. Most that made it shared similar traits with us humans and it was hard to distinguish them. The rest, if they made it and were accepted in the relocation program, were allowed to live in an established settlement on Genkai's land, deep inside the forest, away from prying eyes and people that would harm them. But it always dawned on me, what actually made them want to leave Demon World?
It's clear that I didn't sleep that night. On Monday the only trip I took was to school and work, leaving my phone at home thus ignoring all incoming calls and messages. Ayame had arrived just as Koenma promised in order to provide me some documents on Demon World and a contract. Her words barely registered when she mentioned I could still back down. And believe me at one point I wanted to, especially when I learned how little Spirit World actually knew of the world they were about to send me to. In a fit of rage I yelled at her since she didn't give me anything important, but just hovered on her stupid oar in front of my balcony. I closed the drapes thinking that would teach her, no light shining in my living room.
I tried to fall asleep the following night, but the same pattern followed, Ayame at one point knocking on the balcony door as I was startled awake by a scream, a scream that belonged to me. With my brain fried, on Tuesday morning I picked up the phone and dialled Yusuke's number. I needed my partner in crime, someone who would indeed worry about me going to Demon World, but won't exaggerate. He's my best bet.
Of course I woke him up, a grumpy remark being directed at me "Yusuke" my eyes travelled to the clock showing 05:50 in the morning "I need you. Can you please come over?" I felt small, lost and even my voice failed to cooperate, it sounded so dim.
"I'll be right there." Was the only response received before he hung up. In less than ten minutes he rang my doorbell, hair a mess, the first clothes he got his hands on grasping his body, a serious alert expression set in his eyes. He was worried.
Stepping inside my apartment, his shoes were discarded randomly on the floor before he followed me in the kitchen.
"Look at me." I did, not because he demanded it, but because I turned to hand him a cup of hot coffee. He definitely didn't like being left in the dark especially when it came down to people he cared about so I was a bit surprised he didn't smash the coffee cup against my skull, yell at me and demand answers. He stared at my face looking for obvious signs, crying, bruises or cuts but there were none there. I was tired yes, a mess probably. Surprised honestly my dark circles didn't have their own post code.
Passing him we both went to my bedroom where I opened the window wide and stepped outside on the rooftop of a small store below the apartment. Living on the first floor was not that bad, I was thankful mainly that below me wasn't a bar or club however that could change overtime for sure.
Sitting down on the window sill I light up a cigarette, Yusuke following my lead without questioning the action as we both stared out at the rising sun above the buildings. He waited for me to finish my cigarette taking note of my trembling fingers and how I chewed at my bottom lip, pulling on the skin until I could taste blood.
"Hana seriously now you're freaking me out, what the fuck?" he took the second cigarette I wanted to light up from between my fingers "What is eating you up?"
Ruffling my hair, I slapped my cheek once before getting up, cussing between my teeth "Wait here." Stomping towards the kitchen I took two beers from the fridge then went back to him all the while repeating to myself to man the fuck up.
"Ok" I shouted startling Yusuke on my return "I need to know. What is Demon World like?" he blinked probably then waking up completely and took the beer extended to him once again not questioning my behaviour. I have always listened to their stories, put things together from here and there but on my own. I did not ask too many questions, I tried not to impose and look like the dumb human chick who woke up with powers overnight.
"Geez Hana couldn't this have waited until I don't know" smacking me upside the head made me almost lose my beer "a normal hour?"
"Ass bitch!" for that I took a cigarette from the pack near him "I need to know." My head already hurt, his light slap did nothing more to it so I didn't even rub my head.
"No." his sharp voice brought me back to reality as his hand confiscated the cigarette just stolen "I need to know why you need to know." He was right to glare at me. This punk was smarter than he usually let on.
"I actually wanted to avoid this but fine." Returning the glare proved to be difficult "Koenma gave a mission in Demon World." He almost fell back into my room but the very next moment when his balance was regained he light up the cigarette snatched from me earlier and handed it back finally ready to listen to me. Listen to me not knowing any details. With each passing word the anger inside him grew, last puff of smoke being exhaled through his nose, bud flicked into the street without a care if it landed on someone's head.
"What the fuck?" he wrecked his brain switching from his coffee to his beer and back around making me feel sick. That could not taste good at all "Has the rash from his ass travelled to his brain?" he went quiet when I confessed the event might be earlier than expected and I might not be at the temple in the weekend, his shoulder going rigid under the fabric of his white T-shirt.
"It's different Hana, but not necessarily in a bad way." I always loved hearing Yusuke relate stories, how he spoke of the late king Raizen with so much fondness that even I felt affection for him. My ears picked up every word about how he founded the Demon World tournament and the fights he had in it. He talked better with his fists that was certain. But as Yusuke talked I knew he could not relate to my dilemma. He was strong, demons feared him. I had a sharp sick tongue, a weak body when it came to fighting and a power that should be used only by the winning side.
For the first time I felt like a pawn and nothing more. As much as it hurt Koenma, we were tools that needed to be used. No wonder Kurama tried to stay on neutral grounds while we all did the grunt work. He valued the life he built for himself and would do anything to keep his picture perfect bubble intact.
"Listen, they'll probably try to stomp all over you just because they think humans are weak." He looked directly in my eyes taking me by the shoulders "But you are better than what they might throw at you. Unless it's a huge rock, then I would suggest you run." He snickered a bit before resuming his serious look from before "Use that brain and mouth of yours to the max, fight like a girl because you're a damn tough one." Pressing his forehead against mine I felt his energy overflowing "And if anyone hurts you I'll rip them a new asshole ok? I got you." A small nod indicated to him that I got it. Creating some distance he flicked my forehead making me groan "And if you ever try to handle things like these alone I will kick your ass."
There was no doubt in my mind that he would hurt someone who dared touch me. We had this sort of sibling relationship even if we were not bonded by blood, but he was so dear to me.
After he left around eight in the morning I signed the contract and finally let some light into the apartment. Handing the papers back to the hovering lady she just nodded and left, probably to Spirit World, but not before asking me if I was absolutely certain. Sorry lady, I don't go back on my word.
I didn't tell Yusuke I was not totally satisfied with his explanation, but I picked up the phone and dialled a new number.
As the ringing sound hit my ear drum I felt like I was back inside the secluded temple, like every weekend, rushing to the phone echoing and causing more disturbance that it should. Time and time again I wondered how the line was actually patched in since it looked close to impossible, but then again impossible held a new meaning for me these days. Genkai must have paid a fortune or beat up a cable guy/company just to install that phone all the way in the mountains.
Without fail Yukina's sweet voice tickled my ear. Listening to my half sleepy apology since I must have woken her up by the sounds of it, she let the silence drag on for a few moments when I asked if she could bring Hiei to the phone.
"Of course." setting the receiver aside I slid against the wall closing my eyes, humming a song to myself as I waited, trying my best to not fall asleep. My fingers drummed against my bare knees as I struggled to keep a rhythm, but honestly I felt like I was losing chunks of time. I couldn't even recall an entire song, all of the lyrics being a slur of letters inside my brain.
Roughly around twenty minutes after I initiated the call, I heard a rustle against the speaker so I pulled the phone to my ear, a snarky voice on the other end making me open my eyes.
"What woman?" I bit back a laugh as I imagined Hiei glaring at the phone, his distaste for anything related to technology being painfully obvious. I didn't bother with petty conversations though since that had no place between us.
"Would I survive if I ever went to Demon World?" I wished I could be there in person just to see those crimson pools widen and mistrust my intentions, to see him looking at me like I had just lost my marbles.
"Are you drunk?" I wish I was, I truly did, but I needed a clear mind, well as clear as a tired mind can be.
"Please answer me Hiei." A huff was heard before he delivered, his cold deep voice sending chills down my spine.
"No." just like that he let me have it and I needed it "You're weak, a human, you could not handle five minutes out there." A soft chuckle left my mouth and he probably thought I lost my mind completely since his tone held a harsher edge to it as he scolded me "It's your fault for not using your abilities properly." Guess he wasn't done.
"I see, thank you, I appreciate it." Damn, what's with the formal speech? "Any tips on trying my best to stay alive?" silence followed, so deep and disturbing that I had to ask if he was still there or if I directed the question to an empty room.
"Yes." Confirmation, followed by silence that made me feel more uncomfortable. I could hear my own heartbeat, feel it pounding against my chest, the motion inside me making my stomach churn. The hairs on my arms stood up and I summoned a deep breath as I waited. Then a thought hit me, fleeting and weak, but there nonetheless. Was he watching me through his Jagan?
"Never mind Hiei, I understand." As I tried to pick myself from the floor and hang up the useless conversation taking place that ended up being a waste of both our time, he finally spoke.
"You need to convince them that the power you possess is indispensable. Only then will you be allowed to speak. Prove to everyone you can be an asset, especially your foes, healers of your magnitude are rare." Cocking an eyebrow I just had to ask.
"And after I convince my foes I am an asset?"
"Kill them." Came without missing a beat. Smiling, I finally found the strength to stand up straight. He made multiple valid points and I'll be damned if I wanted to end up special demon food "Does he know?" now I was certain he used his Jagan or he was just that smart. He didn't need to tell me who he was referring to, I got it.
"Not yet, it's all rather fresh out of Spirit World. Think he will take it well?" once more without even running the answer through his brain, his answer came.
"No." and with that he hung up. I figured as much, just hopped he could provide me more. I got Yusuke to keep his mouth shut, Hiei would not bother.
Rubbing my forehead I retreated back to the bedroom, popping two pain killed in my mouth, washing them down with the beer that I barely touch during the talk with Yusuke. Laughter exploded from within me, vibrant and colorful. What the fuck was I actually doing taking pain killers?
I needed sleep, but the phone tempted me once more so I picked up dialing another number. Shortly after I got dressed and headed out. With a strong coffee to go, walking down the street felt more like a scene from a dream than reality. I was not paying attention, my head felt light, my eyes hazy. The sound of the phone ringing in my headphones startled me so I answered more on impulse. On the other end, Kurama's voice was coated in concern.
"Is everything alright Hana? You have not answered my calls or messages at all."
Shit! Fuck! Fudge muffins!
"Yes." I paused also stopping on the sidewalk, pressing my back against a wall as to avoid being bumped into by people "Actually no, I'm lying. Can we meet when you get off work?"
"Naturally." His response came fast, I said yes to the location suggested and then excused myself without further explanation. I would tell him everything in the afternoon, if I don't collapse by then. Sighing, I pushed myself away from the wall and continued to my destination.
My steps led me to the Kuwabara residence. Shizuru opened the door to allow me passage, skeptical eyes taking in my sleep deprived face. It wasn't unnatural for them to see me miss sleep since that was something I did in order to balance school, work and a slightly normal social life. Eikichi came rubbing against my feet after a sniffing session in which she concluded I was in fact someone safe and harmless. I smiled as she purred when I picked her up "My, my look at you." Snuggling the cat against my cheek the tightness in my chest loosened "Let me see those cute toe beans."
Hearing voices Kuwabara also came to greet me, a wide smile lighting up his face. Placing the cat in his open arms I didn't look over at Shizuru again, I was too tired to deal with her, but I did address something her way "Let it go please, this involves just me." Exhaling as if she kept her breath for a long time told me more than her words could, all the while her brother shifted his eyes between us before deciding it's best to lead me to his room.
Glancing over at his desk I saw he was working on a project and there was a sudden urge to apologize. Taking a seat at his desk instead I promised to be short. By the end of my story he was pacing the room, up and down, not being able to sit still.
"Geez Hana this sounds bad. Is Koenma crazy, you're a girl." His elevated voice dripped with concern for my wellbeing but it only made me squint my eyes. Those pain killers barely took the edge off while my friend panicked, sat on the bed then quickly decided he could not stay put.
"Kazuma!" me shouting out at him by his name nonetheless, brought him to a sudden halt "I already accepted." His eyes widened to large proportions I did not believe possible as the disbelief settled in his brain once he registered the words that left my mouth "Look" I mentioned dragging two fingers against my forehead elevating the nagging pain "I just need to know how you handled it, nothing more."
He had only been to Demon World once in his entire life, when they battled Sensui, so his knowledge was close to none. However he did mention something I had not heard of before, the pseudo space, apparently a place between the worlds inside the tunnel and to not be scared of that since the sensation was "freaky". He even recommended a motion sickness pill.
"Are you scared Hana?" the concern on his face sharpened his features, but I smiled trying to take the edge off.
"I am concerned since I don't know where I'm being sent, but I am not afraid anymore, or too tired to be. I guess I don't have the entire picture to be truly scared." He didn't need to know my brain decided to jinx me in the form of nightmares.
"It's probably for the best." At least he found no fault in my logic, that or we were both idiots who refused to be afraid of something that was very real and extremely dangerous. He was human, like me, but also unlike me he was probably the strongest Human World had to offer. He was fearless, loyal, a true friend, but not even he could relate to me and I to him this time around. I was in this on my own, because I said yes to Koenma.
Getting up, I took a low bow, feeling dizzy getting back up. Geez, I'm tired.
"Hana? Here." Rummaging through a drawer he presented me a ribbon with the inscription "warrior of love" spread across it. One of us was losing it and that wasn't me.
"I don't get it." That was probably more honest than it should have been, but he still wrapped it on my wrist after seeing me back down when he wanted to place it on my head.
"I'm sorry I can't give you any words of wisdom, I am not as smart as Kurama and I don't know Demon World like Hiei or Yusuke do." I didn't come here to make him feel bad. Rising my hand, my brows lifted "Yeah that" he rubbed the back of his head "I guess that behind all the cursing and pranks there is a big heart hiding in there that just wants to help. Plus, I believe it will keep you safe."
What a goof, but he did manage to make me smile.
"Thank you, I want to believe that as well." Turning to leave I took one last look at him before exiting his room "Oi Shizuru! Ca I borrow some makeup? I need to look less dead." I knew if I went to sleep I would miss my meeting with Kurama so I fixed myself up, stayed a bit behind to chit chat with Shizuru and then just aimlessly walked around town just to stay awake. A dread squeezed at my heart, but there was no avoiding it anymore. I had to tell Kurama about the mission.
Dun-dun-dun. Wonder how Kurama will take it? Muahahaha this will be so much fun.
Hope you guys enjoyed this chapter. Thank you for the comments, kudos and for all of you who took a moment to read this story. It really means the world to me.
Kurama selected for the meeting a small secluded terrace, table already being reserved under his name when I got there. The metal chairs were heavy to lift and cold to the touch so I just slid onto one without bothering to move it further. I could barely focus on the pattern the table in front of me had, but not like I was too good at focusing anything else around me either just then. Wrapping the hoodie closer to my body, I did my best to keep the chills at bay. I just needed sleep, a good restless night of sleep.
Lifting my heavy lids I saw Kurama approaching, his fingers working on loosening the tie around his neck. I have always wondered if those clothes were actually uncomfortable for him or if by this point in his life he was actually used to them. I could not see Hiei wearing something like that, not even if you promised him the world. I have washed his clothes countless times when at the temple and they were all loose and comfortable, fit for fighting. Suits however were not flexible at all, especially if you had to fight. Sure you would look fly as fuck but that's about it.
Unbuttoning his suit he sat opposite of me, eyes scanning me relentlessly. He did not bother to smile and in truth he had no reason to play pretend. We were long past that stage. He was mad and I have been avoiding him. After our orders were brought his elbows propped on the table as he fixed his coffee with the right amount of sugar and milk, but his eyes stopped to look at my shaky hand as I placed the water glass back on the table.
"I assume your state is the result of something severe." His nose lifted, cold eyes burning through my retina "You have been drinking and spoiling your lungs with cigarettes. I was certain you quit that awful habit." I just stood there, too tired to retaliate, too numb to react to his words "By the looks of it sleep has not been your companion in a long time." His brows drew together, but worry suddenly softened his judgemental gaze. Probably worried by my lack of response and emotions, I had no energy for either "What is going on?" his deep voice was now devoid of the previous harshness.
Taking a deep breath made me yawn, eyes watering as the action took me by surprise. Shaking my head slightly I forced my body forward, forearms placed on the table "Koenma broke in my apartment for a sudden visit." His eyes widened a fraction, he did not understand the reason behind it but let me continue feeding him information "He's sending me on a mission, but the details are close to none."
"Where is he sending you Hana?" his body tensed, hands coiling into tight fists as I uttered just above a whisper the location of my mission. Danger lurked in his eyes, darkness setting in his features. All of this was not directed at me but at the situation, at the lack of information that did not allow him to think of all possible scenarios and outcomes.
"If he came to you the situation must be rather delicate due to the secrecy around it, but not one that requires brute force. However that does not excuse the fact that he is sending a healer to a very dangerous place." All emotions drained from his face, a calm and cool Kurama leaning back in his chair "What could you possibly do there?" there was a sting in his blunt question. I was weak, I knew that and when it came down to a situation like the one presented to him, I was lacking in every aspect.
"He needs a different type of healer." His eyes were dangerous slits, posture although giving out something laid back to the external eyes of viewers, was still rigid, his nails not leaving the palm of his hands.
"You have nothing to prove Hana, you are already doing enough." His brows lifted slowly in realization, hands clasping together. He was no longer in the worry section, but moved past it, evolved and was now analyzing me, all in the span of a few measly minutes "You are an amateur at best when it comes to fighting and your knowledge on the intricacies of political affairs and rules is lacking as well. Koenma would have not come to you if he did not believe you possess some modicum of power or abilities that could help resolve his dilemma or at least provide him with some answers." His index finger was pointed at me and by the time he finished talking I was rolling my eyes as I rested my back against the metal chair.
"Well you're fun to have as a boyfriend." His face fell flat, unimpressed by my little attack. I have all but forgotten how his analytical mind worked and how hard and fast it could reinforce me back to reality. I had all but stopped feeling sleepy "I have already accepted." His jaw tightened, the coldness in his eyes trying to penetrate me. How could eyes that reminded me of the rich deep forest on a hot summer day lash out at me and deliver more danger than any of Hiei's best glares.
"I see." His voice dropped and it sounded like he was speaking more for himself to hear "Something happened. You are going in blind yet you can see things clearly. My only guess and please do correct me if I am wrong" leaning in like a predator stalking his pray he continued "but you have been training, developing your abilities. To what extend I am curios." His right hand once again formed a strong tight fist, his nails now returning red before my eyes "You don't need to touch in order to heal do you Hana? You have been hiding from us."
No, he was right, every part of it was on point. I didn't even need to use my territory as long as they were close enough. Handing him a wet tissue I produced from a pack in my backpack his eyes stared wide at his healed palm.
"You concealed your light under your sleeves, I sensed but a small increase in energy, yet your powers worked their way to me." He scrubbed away asking for another tissue after I confessed I didn't need a lot of energy since the wound was superficial. Reaching for the pack I presented it, his eyes dropping to the ribbon on my wrist.
"I would be lying if I said I'm not bothered by the fact that I may be the last you decided to speak to and that because you couldn't avoid the situation any longer." I've had enough. His worry was so carefully masked that it made me sick. I knew he would put aside our freshly changed status and help me the best way he could, but just as Hiei stated he wasn't taking it well.
"I came to you last because with you I can't do this over the phone or in a few minutes and leave when I want. I knew your words would hurt the most, but also matter the most."
Tucking away in his pocket the damp blood stained tissues he lifted a brow "Interesting." His lips curved into a small smile "You set aside our relationship since you realized it could hinder your cause. You pushed me away so you could receive the best response." The coffee cup touched his lips, but I refrained from touching my water. By this point no amount of liquid could help with the dryness on my tongue. Producing a pack of bubble gum I popped two in my mouth before placing them back in the pocket, fingers tracing the pack of cigarettes.
After the hospital test that Ayame gave me just to confirm Spirit World's hunches I cracked under the pressure. One cigarette I broke against my trembling fingers, the second I didn't manage to light up as Kido just found me and I dropped it on the pavement as I cried and begged him not to say a word to anyone. He did not call to check up on me after, but I am sure his eyes will linger on me a moment longer the next time we'll meet.
Today was the first time I returned to the pack, smoking one with Yusuke and then having the fourth one stolen by that punk. I did steal one back, but it was given more given to me than obtained. With Shizuru I didn't smoke, she would have picked up on something more and I didn't need that. Not with being so tired.
But now I was thinking that having fifteen cigarettes instead of sixteen would be good number especially with the dirty looks I was getting. Sighing I took my hand out of my pocket and instead reached out for Kurama's. It felt like trying to tame an animal that had just bit and chewed off one of my limbs and I was bleeding drawing him into something not good for me. Those eyes were devoid of feelings, well more lacking any real good vibes. I am too tired, my brain is not functioning in normal parameters.
Kurama jumped when I leaned back retracting my hand. He jumped because I kicked him, no other reason at all. His eyes widened as if telling me I was crazy for poking the bear. I could see it on his face, he was trying to read into reasons behind it all, behind why I was doing it.
"There is no doubt that an escort must be arranged for you. If a healer is needed, Spirit World will ensure that their non-fighter arrives safely to the destination." I nodded my head, hands itching for a smoke "Go ahead, maybe that way you will be able to properly speak with me."
"Bastard!" I spoke too fast, didn't think and the surprise did show on my face as I slapped a hand against my mouth.
"Lovely as always." Taking another sip of coffee he contained his feelings well. If he was angry due to my last outburst there were no obvious signs.
"I'm sorry, I'm not thinking straight." He interrupted my apology to add only one word "clearly" and I stopped talking so I could glare. My upper lip twitched as I tried to bite back a snarl "I see." Taking out a cigarette, Kurama wrinkled his nose. Before lighting it up I spoke "I can cure cancer cells and some other illnesses so I think I get a pass." Admiration dawned on his face as the smoke rose between us but he didn't like the fact that he was kept in the dark about my evolution. But I didn't have time for that "I need to know something. If you were still a demon, if you were just coming from Demon World and you would have met me, would you have killed me?"
"More than likely yes." Something broke inside him "I would have perceived your territory as a threat. I did the first time I saw it in case you forgot." I didn't. I could never. Questions swam deep inside my brain, my curiosity begging me to ask him and the boys about their demon lives. But I smiled instead.
"Then help me." His eyes travelled from his cup to me slowly, taking time to analyze everything. Putting out the cigarette I took a mouthful of water and waited patiently for him to talk.
"Tonight we need to get you home, but tomorrow we will start with you having a clear head and me less of a problem with your rash decision." I nodded once shaping my hands in a heart figure "You need knowledge, understanding and we will start with your questions on demon anatomy. I will dedicate my free time to you and ensuring your survival. Because I want you alive Hana and above this situation Koenma has put you in." leaning forward he took hold of my hand "What possessed you to say yes?"
"Probably the same insanity that possessed me to pursue you." Rolling his eyes he did his best to look offended but his eyes did soften when I smiled back at him.
Thank you so much everyone for the positive words. I appreciate every effort you make to take time to read and leave some love, it's all so encouraging and beautiful.
Since September is right around the corner I will be getting back to my normal publishing schedule, so please consider this as the chapter for the 1st weekend of September. I will be busy this weekend so this is a sort of early publish *hugs*
Chapter 26: All aboard to Demon World
True to his word, although a part of me did brace for another disappointment, Kurama dedicated his free time to helping me. Books were brought to my place, him trying to cram in my already tired brain as much information as possible. Despite his efforts and mine since I am not a push over we soon learned time was not on our side. It was then when Kurama's calm mask cracked, frustration and worry shining through as he flipped through the pages of the countless books before him. In the past he always found excuses to avoid spending time with me no matter the reasons behind those meetings. And now suddenly time was slipping from our grasp and he was trying to find the most important pieces of information that would ensure my survival. But I didn't think that knowledge could be gained from his books.
By then I didn't push it since I knew that deep down he was mad. Mad I made the decision on my own, angry he wasn't the first one to know, jealous maybe that I at least in his eyes trusted the boys more. And I for once had no intention of running my mouth a million miles an hour trying to explain to him the differences between relationships.
"Please stop." My hand took hold of his "We'll go through what we can ok?" his hand gripped mine tightly as his eyes landed on my face.
"Do you now know this is not alright?" my jaw tightened from the pain rising in my arm.
"You need to trust me." Grinding my teeth I didn't break eye contact "You need to show me that you're supporting me, but also believing in my abilities." His expression didn't change, like my words barely registered "Oh and Kurama?" his brows rose at the mention of his name "If you don't stop squeezing my hand I'll knee you in the balls." Finally free from his strong hold I shook and rubbed my hand vigorously as he apologized "Coffee. Break. Now!"
On Thursday the SDF took my truck away and confined me to my apartment. Teachers and my managers were informed I had been in a terrible car accident and while I survived time for healing was in order so I would recuperate. I learned quickly they were very good at spinning webs of lies and forged documents just to reach their goals.
As soon as we were informed my departure would be on Friday night Kurama called his step father faking an excuse in order to take a day off work. That night I managed to close my eyes for about three hours but something told me he didn't sleep a wink. No distractions were allowed in the hours that were spent awake and honestly it felt like having a drill sergeant take over my couch than a boyfriend but in the end I saw his logic. I really had a lot to learn from his way of existence.
At one point at around five in the morning it was clear our thoughts were concentrated more on my departure. With a heavy sigh his hands closed the last book, body stretching before heading to the kitchen. I followed him with my eyes until he was out of sight, cupboards being opened and drawers as he searched for something.
"Coffee is in the blue jar on the counter." Silence followed before he finally spoke.
"Right, thank you."
Switching through random TV channels it was best to leave him alone for a few minutes. A couple of moments so we could both gather our thoughts. Once I finally decided he had enough alone time the smell of coffee greeted me, Kurama sitting at the table, phone in his hand as he looked to be reading emails from work.
Shrugging his shoulders he did his best to fill the time with small talk about work "The company is also looking to organize a summer party somewhere in July, depending on the budget they are looking to spend of course." Resting my chin in the palm of my hand I took some time to just properly look at him. In the beginning I couldn't really get what girls liked about him. For me he looked off, misplaced, like he didn't belong at all his unique looks making his stand out. Well guess who joined the liking Kurama wagon? Lifting his eyes from the phone his brows did the same "Would you like to be my date then?" a smile formed on his lips, probably the first real one since we got put on "house arrest".
"Formal attire?" his head bob caused me to roll my eyes, of course it was "How could I say no to you?" tired eyes continued to scan me and the reasons I didn't verbalize.
"I have tried…" he paused a yawn taking over, one he tried to suppress "Apologies. I have tried to arrange a meeting with Koenma, however just as I expected he appears to be very busy."
"Don't you trust me?" my fingers drummed against the coffee cup in my hands, him picking up on the action performed.
"That is not the case I can assure you." His chest expanded as he took a deep breath, eyes shifting to a random item on the kitchen counter "I do not trust this secrecy and the true reasons behind it."
Getting up I pulled him by the hand "Come on." Following me was not a problem until we reached my bedroom door. With one hand on the handle and the other being pulled back I turned to look at Kurama "What?" questions swam in those glorious eyes, all silencing as I cocked my brow "You need proper sleep." Seeing how he wouldn't budge made me question the situation for a change "Not tired?"
"Nothing I cannot handle." This man was just impossible. Going behind him I actually pushed him towards the door causing him to chuckle "What are you doing?" the humor in his voice reaching my ears actually eased my heart a fraction.
"You get in my bed now." Clearing his throat he turned to look at me.
"Will you be joining me?" cheeky, I liked it. Rising a bit on my toes he made no gesture to push me away. Pulling his hair back my lips grazed his neck. His smell invaded my senses, the air around us feeling like it went up a few good degrees. My tongue caressed his neck as I worked my way up to his ear lobe earning a shiver from his part. Whispering I responded.
"I thought you said no distraction were allowed." Creating some distance I looked up in his eyes. Want and desire radiated between our bodies, him leaning closer until I could feel his breath on my face. With a gentle touch his thumb ran across my lower lip, his nose touching mine.
"I guess you are right. I might actually need some sleep." Recreating the previous distance he motioned with his head to the door "Are you certain this is alright?"
"Please" I smirked "Rest." Fucking tease, well played. And I also allocated a point to myself since he did go to sleep. I checked.
Late at night, wrapped in an oversized hoodie, I pulled the large hood over my head and tried to keep a low profile as we escaped the city, taking the last train to our destination. The portal would be opened on Genkai's land since it's secluded and also protected thanks to the countless seals surrounding the terrain.
Kurama's hand had not left mine for the duration of the hike. For some reason the SDF and Spirit World upper management thought the best place to open the stupid tunnel was in the middle of the freaking forest. I had no idea where I was but Kurama apparently did.
Once the procedure started, one I have seen many times during relocations, his eyes were glued to the tunnel expanding slowly in front of us and I found myself squeezing his hand a bit tighter as we waited. Once the expansion was complete from inside the portal stepped someone I did not expect, Shishiwakamaru. Rolling my eyes caused him to wrinkle his nose at me rather displeased. Yes, we didn't like each other since the very beginning.
"Shishi." Kurama's hand left mine as he took a few steps forward. His eyes burned with such intensity that the demon bound to escort me almost leaped back inside the portal without me. Even the SDF members stiffened as they looked at him. Damn just how dangerous is Kurama really? "Where are you taking her?"
The demon shrug his shoulders revealing he was my escort to only a certain point where he would hand me over to the next one. Kurama looked back at me, sadness and worry mixing inside his mind painting his face with something I didn't wish to see again "If any harm comes to her." His gaze travelled back to Shishiwakamaru.
"I know, don't worry, the little urchin is a top priority." Sticking out my tongue in protests caused an eye roll from his part. From his sleeve he produced a sort of gas mask used to cover my mouth and nose. Taking it, Kurama came closer explaining.
"The air in certain areas can be quite toxic for humans. I trust this is just a precaution?" Shishiwakamaru only let out an annoyed huff, one Kurama didn't appreciate.
"Hey" I touched his arm making him look back at me "I'll be fine, just don't go forgetting about me ok?"
As he leaned closer to my ear, his arms wrapped around me keeping me close to his body "Don't let your mouth get you in trouble Hana." His hands tangled in my hair and clothes "Don't let anyone touch you. I'll find a way to you, always remember that." Hearing that made the air in my lungs feel heavy, like we were saying goodbye and not see you later. Placing my hands on his chest he finally looked at me.
"See you soon ok?" that troubled gaze lingered on me a moment longer before Shishiwakamaru spoke.
"Not to interrupt you or anything but we should get going since we're on the clock."
It left like led was stuck to the soles of my shoes as I ventured closer to Shishiwakamaru leaving the safe place of Kurama's embrace. Slowly the mask was placed on my face, covering my nose and mouth. It distorted my voice making me look like one of those goth chicks as I used my phone to glance at my appearance.
"Shishiwakamaru?" his eyes rolled to me "I am your father." Pun he didn't get but I still laughed. Looking behind, Kurama slowly raised his hand to wave at me as I did the same. When I turned back Shishiwakamaru grabbed my arm without waiting any longer and down the tunnel we went.
I couldn't control the gasp leaving my mouth as I stared around me at what was probably the Pseudo space connecting Human to Demon world. My mind rapidly went to its joke drawer since it felt like I was trapped in a video game. Looking over my shoulder I felt sick for two different reasons. One was the motion that made my stomach churn and damn it Kuwabara did warn me about it. But the one reason that made the feeling sink even deeper revolved around my own stupidity. How could I just leave and not kiss Kurama? What if I get my idiotic ass killed?
"Shishi?" he glared at the misuse of his full name, guess that was reserved for friends only but at least he provided me his attention "Please don't let me die there." He wasn't impressed by my plea, more annoyed is the word I could use to describe his expression but in the end I did receive a small nod.
Before reaching the end of the Pseudo space, Shishiwakamaru grabbed and tossed me on his back. The sinking feeling of falling made me clutch onto him with all my might, wind hitting my face at rapid speed. Thankfully it didn't take long for us to reach solid ground, my balance a bit off when my feet touched the soil.
Before my eyes a sky of an unearthly colour spread above distant lands of forests and hill. Thunder struck somewhere in the distance several lightning bolts painting across the sky.
"How come it's not dark, it should be past midnight." With yet another shrug of his shoulders, Shishiwakamaru told me that was the usual sky at any given time of day or night, at least in those parts.
"We should get going." Following him without any complaint I tugged at the strap of my backpack "We are a day away from the next escort" looking over his shoulder he flashed me a cocky grin "well probably two considering I have a human with me."
Screw this joker "Just lead the freaking way."
Of course the walk was drowned in silence. Me and Shishiwakamaru had nothing in common, no chemistry. More than the previously mentioned we clashed since the first encounter. I am not the type to romance ego out of the goodness of my heart and since me and him had barely had any contact no sort of relationship was formed apart from excessive dramatic eye rolls performed by both parties. He always moaned about relocations so how he came to be my first escort was beyond me.
Since silence was my main companion my attention focused on my surroundings. The scenery was not that different from what Human world had to offer especially since we were walking through a forest, but one thing did stand out most of all. The freaking smell in the area was sickening even with the mask on.
"Hey" Shishiwakamaru didn't stop because time was of the essence but I was sure he was listening "is that smell what I think it is?"
"Rotting flesh? At least your senses aren't as dull like you are."
"Tell me how you became my escort again?" I seriously wanted to smack the back of his purple/lavender/not so manly at all colour off his stupid head. Ignoring me, he didn't even bother to turn, guess I was not as important as to even waste a glance on me. Motherfucking cocky…
"Someone had to. Someone who wouldn't coddle you."
"Coddle me?" I ran a bit to walk in line with him. Apparently Rinku, Chu or any other could have done this but Koenma chose him as to avoid distractions.
"Look here you" he suddenly hushed me, entire body on alert. Urging me with a simple head gesture was enough to get me behind him. Shishiwakamaru's hands travelled to his sword taking it out in the open.
"Do as I say." His voice was serious and by the tension in his shoulders the demon or demons were drawing closer and were probably stronger than he was telling me.
"Mind if I do a sweep?" turning to look at me he only kept his eyes on my face for a second before scanning the area one more time.
"Just sit behind me and let me handle this." My heart generated more beats per minute that it normally should. I could not sense a thing, I was blind to the energies around me. The only way I would know where someone was coming from was if I unleashed my territory.
A small rustle to our left was enough to draw his attention and scare me, territory blooming out of control.
"What the Hell?" Shishiwakamaru's voice barely registered as from behind some trees several demons froze in place sensing they walked into something that was not familiar. Weapons directed at us once their initial fright was over cemented me in place as Shisiwakamaru yelled for them to stand down.
"Tell her to call off whatever she's doing!" their faces didn't register, just the souls before me, souls that have seen more pain than they should have.
"It's not harmful are you insane, lower your weapons!"
Even if obscured behind a tree I could see another soul. That demon slowly emerged Shishiwakamaru shouting some obscenities before lowering his sword.
"Lower your weapons men." Based on his soul, I shouldn't have been scared "It's ok Hana." As I slowly called back my territory, before me stood a man I had never seen before. On the other hand Shishiwakamaru knew him as he just lost it, horns and fangs revealing causing me to take a step back. Drawing closer to one of the armed demons I stopped. Sharp teeth that could barely be contained in that mouth shinned before me, the smell of rot suddenly becoming more evident. Their shape was not human, skins of different inhumane colours danced before my eyes, weapons threatening to cut me down in one swift move.
"What are you even doing here Suzuki? We still have 18 hours until the next checkpoint." The man called Suzuki scratched his head trying to recall the actual hour he should have met us so I figured he was my second escort. Then I recalled he was the only one I had not met. In all seriousness he did not look like a demon as he stood there looking very human apart from his gravity defying hair, apologizing to Shishiwakamaru for mixing up the times. Suzuki turned a pair of light green eyes to me and smiled.
"Sorry we scared you, my bad." I just nodded, eyes still shifting to the demons in the escort "You look pale, are you feeling alright?" another nod from my part and I gulped trying to gather my thoughts.
"How many more escorts are there Suzuki?" a small frown I didn't understand was short lived as he finally decided to answer me. He was the second one, one more to follow. An exasperated groan escaped my mouth "Fine, let's go. The sooner we get this over with, the better for everyone."
"Told you she's a cranky one." Shishiwakamaru commented only to meet my middle finger as I marched near them. Fuck this secret mission.
By the time we have made it to the third checkpoint many hours later I was fed up with walking, fed up with the smell of rot that I desperately wanted to wash off. I had enough of the demons sniffing me and I recalled Koenma's words that humans ended up a main dish. Fear clouded my mind, especially when they handed me over like I was some object.
The men before me did have distinct features that made them stand out as demons but not that much. Like Jin, a horn there, three eyes like Hiei, more teeth. Great. They were all wearing the same uniform and didn't bother talking to me or presenting themselves. One of them just sized me up, picked me up in his arms and started running at great speed to our final destination. I was thankful I wasn't going to walk anymore but I just wanted to go back. What did I get myself into? Stupid, so so fucking stupid.
All my fears and tiredness faded as I stood before a great city, scenery finally not blurring before my eyes form the speed. Imposing buildings, taller than anything I have ever seen towered over me making me feel small. My backpack was taken away from me, body searched for any weapons I could have on me before I was escorted to the demon I was supposed to heal. They took away my mask assuring me the air was safe for me to breath, the word human spilling out of their mouths in disgust.
I was shoved inside a room, where a loud voice told the escort to leave at once.
"Hello, I'm Hana." My eyes scouted the room for the demon in question. From behind some curtains the voice was heard again.
"So it has come to this? A human girl is the famous healer I was promised?" a low growl froze my soul and body in place as rustle followed "Is this a joke to Spirit World?"
Shaking my head the voice registered in my brain "Look, I came here to help. If you don't want it, I can leave."
The curtains were pushed back and in a second the demon was in front of me, hands around my neck "How dare you? Do you have any idea who I am?" I didn't know when everything happened, I was shaking and gasping for air when the next second I was fine. Managing to let out a strained "no" his grip finally loosened, a violent cough leaving my throat. Once I was certain I was intact I looked up to have a good look at the demon I should have helped. I gasped as I have not seen so many different demons, especially ones that looked different from a human like appearance.
"You will not catch me off guard again, I can assure you. So do you want my fucking help or not? " Turning to me, anger emanated, but at least I was not strangled again "Good. Are those files on your condition?" a short nod followed. Pulling my sleeved up I shuddered trying to stop shaking. I had work to do and I needed to work fast. Something told me patience was not a strong suit for the cranky demon in the room with me. Rubbing me eyes I started reading through the file.
What the fuck did I get myself into?