The first time you met Kurama, you were at Maze Castle.
It was a fucking train wreck. Traps. Tests of loyalty to a newly formed group. Overpowered demons who you knew outmatched you.
Yusuke introduced him to you. You returned the favor and gave him an awkward nod, noting his formal appearance. Not exactly the best attire to be fighting in.
Kurama volunteered to engage the first enemy. You had no idea what to expect, save for Yusuke mentioning in passing that he was an incredible strategist. You thought you understood what he meant.
Watching Kurama fight showed you something else. As quick as he was to jump in, he was completely unprepared for his opponent. For someone so hailed for his quick wit and intellect, you wondered why he preferred to charge ahead and put himself in danger first before letting his mind find the right path to defeat his opponent.
You all watched him battle, holding your breaths. He received multiple wounds. Bid his time. He took risks – suffering bodily harm first before unleashing on Genbu with quiet confidence. He adapted well, but still suffered a wound serious enough for him to return to you with his tail between his legs.
For the remainder of Maze Castle, you worked with the other three to cut down as many enemies as possible. You fought a beast of your own and wound up victorious. You saved Yusuke from the brink of death and the mission was a success.
“He was going to kill himself to save his mom, you know,” Yusuke told you one day when you visited him in bed. He was recovering from his fight with Suzaku. “I knew I couldn’t let him do that. He doesn’t know how much it would hurt her if he died.”
“She would rather be dead.” You clenched your jaw. “He’s stupid.”
“Yeah,” Yusuke laughed. “For a smart guy, he’s kinda dumb, huh?”
It really bothered you at the time. You weren’t sure why. Maybe it was because Kurama didn’t think about anyone but himself. He wasn’t motivated by things outside of his own desires. At a short glance, one would think that the sacrifice he intended to make was done with good intentions. But the more you observed him, the more you became infuriated with his quiet entitlement.
For Kurama, his mother was like a possession. Something that he held close because she had loved him unconditionally. He felt guilty for the laissez-faire way he had treated her when he was younger. A former king of thieves had no business being raised by a gentle soul such as she, and he knew that. He no doubt treated her cruelly, but her kindness had touched him in a way he didn’t know was possible. When he saw that she pursued in loving him despite his cruelty, he decided that she was worthy enough to protect.
Because not everyone was.
You joined the fight in the Dark Tournament for one reason: to protect humanity from demons who wanted nothing more than to lay your people to waste. Kurama joined because he felt an obligation to. You knew that because he was serving a sentence to Spirit World for his crimes.
Did he feel rage when demons mentioned murdering humans? Not particularly. Nothing showed behind that mask; it was made from a sheet of thick ice. He kept his composure at all times. It was infuriating.
“Would it kill him to show some fucking emotion?” you muttered under your breath.
Kurama stood shock-still, eyes glued to Roto. His fists clenched. He was looking for an opening. Some kind of weakness. Because threaten Kurama’s things and he would hunt you down with a vengeance. This was no different. He stuffed down everything that could’ve had you mistake him for being human, turning to cold calculation to get his desired result.
“I’ve sown the seed of the Death Plant inside of you, and it’s had plenty of time to take root.”
“Wait, Kurama! You don’t have to do this! I never would’ve actually pushed the button, I swear! I’m just a low-class! I don’t know any better! Come on, you believe in mercy, don’t you?!”
He finished Roto off in a torrent of violence.
You looked away as the rest of them cheered. One victory for your team. You knew that was the point of this entire thing, but it still made you sick to your stomach. You watched him walk back with no emotion on his face. His eyes were hollow and empty, glassy, with not a twinge of regret swimming in them whatsoever.
“You couldn’t immobilize him?” You asked him in passing, avoiding looking back at the blooming flowers on the battlefield. The stench of blood drowned out their scent. It was making you sick.
He paused for a moment, not bothering to look at you. “He made his decision. And I made mine.”
“Well, your decision fucking sucked.” You watched him go ahead without any hesitation. Dread settled in the pit of your stomach as you watched someone walk ahead to get rid of what was left of the body. “What the fuck did I get myself into?”
Kurama liked to put himself in danger. Seemed like he had an underlying desire to die – there was no other reason for him to get injured. He was quick enough, both mentally and physically, to avoid getting any wounds. That was clear. Did he just like toying with his opponents? Did he like bringing out the rage in Gama? Increasing the challenge by letting himself get caught in the demon’s onslaught of energy-infused war paint?
You weren’t sure.
He faced off against Touya. Someone who wanted Kurama to be torn apart for killing his teammate. You watched this demon express something other than indifference. It was proof that Kurama’s behavior was a decision, not something ingrained in him.
Then Kurama didn’t even kill him.
What was the difference? You narrowed your eyes at him when he gave Touya a shallow wound. Something that had him down for the count. You stared at his back, searching for answers. Why the sudden change of heart? Because of what you said? Did you make him feel guilty for being so brutal? If so, that wasn’t your problem – it was his.
Despite your bitterness, watching him motionless on the battlefield, completely unconscious and ready to be murdered by Bakken was enough to bring anger out of you.
Yusuke looked taken aback when you walked onto the battlefield. Kurama’s body was pulled out of the ring. You glanced at it and felt minor disgust. He was ready to die. Even if no one else saw it, you did. You weren’t going to let someone kill him just because he had some kind of death wish brought on by a past ridden with guilt.
“I’ll rip you apart, little girl!”
“Get your fucking eyes checked, Bakken. I’m not fucking little, I’m not a girl, and you’re about to know what it’s like to be obliterated.”
You felt the energy flow through you and watched as he charged toward you, screaming incoherently.
“You’re just as bad as he is.” Saying it made you felt better about yourself. Striking an opponent when they were down. You could see Kurama doing it to get ahead. You weren’t going to let this demon get away with it again.
Bakken bore down on you and you took the full force of the blow, your shoes skidding into the concrete and puncturing through the stone as if it were mud. Bakken didn’t think you were worthy of seeing his mist. Whatever the case, you didn’t care – you were more focused on watching the beads of sweat run down his temple as he pushed forward. The look of realization that his attack did nothing to you were enough for you to get a simple pleasure from it. You waited until the traction was enough that you both stopped moving.
He stepped backwards, away from you, visibly terrified at how unharmed you were. You sprang forward and went on the offensive, grabbing his arm and hurling him toward the ceiling where he crashed against several of the floodlights. He came spiraling down back into the ring. His body flopped unceremoniously onto the ground.
You stepped over him and grabbed an arm, using your foot against his chest to anchor yourself. You pulled hard enough for him to scream in agony, the rest of the nerves splitting from his arm as it was torn out of its socket. He looked like he was going to pass out from the pain. Whatever words lingered on his lips, you weren’t interested, but you wouldn’t kill him. Instead, you just immobilized him, snapping each and every limb until he couldn’t move, leaving him boneless and helpless, but alive.
Koto began the countdown. You faced the booing crowd. You didn’t have any blood staining your clothes, since you didn’t cause any open wounds, but you felt like you’d been bathed in it. You brushed the hair out of your eyes and walked back to the rest of the team. Kurama was awake now, and you made eye contact for a brief moment before you turned away.
The Dark Tournament was brutal. Maybe there wasn’t any room for mercy, like Kurama thought. Kuwabara was able to prove you wrong with that, too. It took a human to bring some real, actual sense back into the tournament. Kuwabara suffered wounds beyond imagination just to pull complete strangers out of the trance they were forced into. You knew that at that point, all of the demons were complete bullshit. Kurama included.
You watched from the sidelines when Kurama attempted to negotiate with Ura Urashima. You didn’t know what their conversation was about. The unsaid words caused Kurama to hesitate, but his trust in this demon was violated when he was instead attacked.
Then he showed his true form. The silver fox that caused countless deaths and stole any and all artifacts for his own amusement. An infamous criminal, notorious for his cruelty as well as his desire to take and take until there was nothing left.
You watched Kurama transform. He was vulnerable now. Showing his true colors to the world again. He thought he’d changed. You didn’t think he had.
Whatever the case, Kurama wasn’t forced to decide on whether Ura should die. His teammate did it for him.
Your finals were coming up. You were nervous as hell, to be expected. Yusuke was off with Genkai again. Kuwabara was in the process of trying to figure out how to use the new hilt he received. Hiei was off doing his best to repair his arm, which had been incredibly damaged in his earlier fight. You weren’t sure about Kurama – who knew what he did on his off nights.
You sat down on the couch and listened to the CDs you brought, the stereo skipping only when someone upstairs jumped on the ground too hard. You thought you would be alone to gather your thoughts, but Kurama entered the room and spotted you by yourself. He approached you, much to your chagrin.
“Seems everyone else is busy.”
“Guess so.” You continued to stir the tip of your finger into the warm cup of tea. “Did you need something?”
“Not particularly. Does my company bother you?”
“I didn’t say that.” Although he wasn’t wrong. You both settled into awkward silence.
“If we win the tournament, do you know what your wish is?”
You weren’t expecting that. Kurama was a private person. You thought he would just give up on the conversation and leave. But he was purposefully trying to gain more out of you.
“I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest with you.”
“Because you just want to win.”
“And make sure no more demons cause trouble for humans? Yeah.”
He paused for a moment. “You hate demons.”
“Not any more than I hate physics.” You sighed when he gave you a questioning look. “I just don’t understand it.”
He laughed. You weren’t sure what was more jarring – his sudden outburst, or the fact that you were the one who managed to evoke it out of him. You’d only seen him do this a handful of times, and never from a conversation with you. At least not that you remembered.
“Did I say something funny?”
Kurama tilted his head and his eyes fixed on your cup. “It’s almost cold.” He stood up without another word and headed in direction of the kitchen.
You thought you were free from his presence, but he returned – this time, with the kettle you were using to boil water. He poured you another cup filled to the brim and the steam warmed your cheeks. You were able to get a better look at the features on his profile from that angle. The slope of his nose, curve of his lips, how long his lashes were. His eyes flicked to yours for a brief moment before he chuckled under his breath, pulling away and letting the tea speak for him instead.
“You should sleep soon. You’ll need it.”
Kurama put his hands in his pockets and went back to the direction of the exit. He smiled at you once more before disappearing out the door.
After you knew he was gone, you glanced at steaming cup. It went down the drain untouched.
Genkai was gone. You were facing off against Team Toguro. Your hands couldn’t stop shaking.
You put them in your pockets so no one would see. Your anxiety was at its peak. Nausea took its hold over you. You swallowed hard as the stadium erupted into a series of jeers against you. You squeezed your eyes shut and tried to drown out the thunderous roar of the world around you.
Kurama stepped in front of you and blocked your view of the stadium. You stared at his back and wondered what compelled him to do that. Maybe it was to shield you. Or maybe it was because, once again, he felt obligated to shoulder the burden on his own. It irritated you enough that you stepped around him and ended up standing at his side. He glanced at you in curiosity, but a ghost of a smile crossed his lips.
You were the first one to fight against a demon that had his eye on you since the beginning of the tournament. If Kurama had to deal with the morbidly obsessed Karasu, then you had your own stalker in Okita. He was a demon that worked exclusively with consuming blood of his opponents and mirroring their abilities. Every time his teeth were bared near your skin, you could sense the rush of desire that told you he wasn’t just interested in biting you for tactical reasons.
He struck out toward you with elongated claws, trying to shred your skin and take your blood with it. You dodged his attacks with much difficulty. When he finally did pin you to the ground, he took his time with you. Nudging his knee between your legs and grinding himself against you, lowering down just enough so he could swirl his tongue against your neck – until you promptly found the elusive, original energy floating in his body, grabbed hold of it, and crushed his ribcage by increasing gravity on his own chest.
You stepped away from him and wiped the saliva from your cheek, staring down at his body as he let out a peal of choked laughter.
When you returned to the team, Kurama was the one who gave you a handkerchief and rubbed away the lone tear of fear that managed to escape down the corner of your eye. You weren’t sure why he insisted on showing you an act of kindness, but this time you accepted it begrudgingly.
Kurama won his match, of course he did – but technicality cost you a victory. He was battered and bruised when he returned. It was more difficult than you would’ve liked, watching him dodge and run as he tried to buy time. The torture he went through, the agony that crossed his face, losing blood and his pride going down the drain (just like the tea he made for you). He pushed forward, knowing defeat meant his death.
There was a newfound passion in him and you weren’t sure if you should find it irritating or inspiring.
He was barely able to stand when you and Yusuke ran up to assist him back to your side of the ring. Yusuke released his grip and Kurama leaned on you. Sweat, blood, and his musk mixed together. You leaned away from him just the slightest bit. He noticed.
“Sorry. I must smell,” he chuckled, clutching his injury and wincing.
You rolled your eyes. “Just focus on the girls healing you. And stop worrying so much about what I think.”
He paused for a moment and his gaze seemed to soften.
The tournament was over. Yusuke won. The stadium was going to self-destruct. Despite all of your injuries, you were forced to evacuate. The building crumbled down as you rushed to escape. Yusuke was busy slapping the shit out of Keiko – you weren’t even going to comment on that. Yukina was nearly crushed by a slab of concrete. You went to intervene, but Hiei was much faster than you were and managed to save her unscathed. It was interesting to see how tender he was with her.
“Can you move?” you asked.
“Just lean on me anyway.”
You guided Kurama toward the exit, not bothering to do anything but keep your gaze ahead. You were going to make it out alive.
The waves crashed against the shore, the surface of the water sparkling like the happiness in everyone’s eyes as Genkai came back. You smiled, a little embarrassed to throw yourself into a hug that all of the others seemed to gravitate to. You, Hiei and Kurama stood on the sidelines. All three of you were content and relieved to see she was okay, keeping your distance respectful.
“I’m glad it’s over,” you blurted. All of the anxiety and stress seemed to dissipate on those words alone. The weight you’d been carrying from day one was on its way out the door.
“We’ll see.” Hiei didn’t seem as optimistic. “If history tells us anything, I suspect the detective will find his way to even stronger opponents.”
“And you’ll just so happen to be along for the ride, right?” you teased. He scowled. “I’m just kidding. It was…nice, getting to know you. Hopefully we have a better understanding of each other.”
He only grunted and withheld some venomous comment that sat on the tip of his tongue. He wasn’t trying to kill the mood just yet.
“We’ll see less of each other now that things have been settled.”
You tucked a piece of hair behind your ear. “Guess so. Just try to stay out of trouble, Kurama.”
He paused for a moment. You realized it was the first time you’d called him by his first name.
“I can’t make any promises, but…I’m grateful for your concern.”
The three of you drifted into comfortable silence, the rest of the day melting away.
After the tournament ended, true to your word, you hadn’t encountered the rest of the gang very much. You were busy working. Trying to find a second to breathe. Spending your days in quiet solitude, enjoying the peace. You had nightmares sometimes, but it wasn’t often enough for you to be concerned.
You were starting to let your guard down.
Then Yusuke got himself kidnapped.
At first, you thought it was a joke. Some kind of excuse for Botan to round everyone up for fun and games. But the unshed tears in her eyes, panic in her voice, and quiver to her fingers brought you to reality. So, you had to gather what strength you had to say yes, and followed her and Kuwabara to recruit Kurama, who was still at school.
Walking through the halls was a little awkward. You stood out. Some of the students whispered when you walked past them. You didn’t pay them any mind.
Kurama was sticking around after school, of course – you didn’t expect any less of him. He seemed like the type. He glanced up from his work and realized you were among the crowd.
“Yeah. I’m here.” You flashed him a brief, polite smile. “Good to see you.”
“Is it?” He didn’t sound convinced. “I suspect we have a lot to talk about on the way. We should hurry.”
Finding Hiei wasn’t much of a problem, either. He was probably tailing you the entire time but was so tsundere he refused to actually drop down and join you.
“I could care less about what happens to the detective.”
“Uh, yeah. Sure.” You stared at him pointedly. “Maybe you should stop wasting time. Yusuke’s saved our asses more times than you can count, and he’s always been there for us. If I’m not mistaken, you’re not the type to owe us any favors. So how about you just tag along, and we can skip the argument on whether or not you care?”
Hiei seethed at your words. “You assume quite a bit for a hypocrite.”
“What did you call me?”
“Perhaps we can talk about this later.” Kurama stepped between you. The air was tense. “The faster we get this done, the faster we may go our separate ways.”
You headed to the mansion together. The vibes from it were just downright confusing. It didn’t feel safe, but not quite dangerous, either. It was like a sleeping giant. A husk of something with great potential. You didn’t want to stick around to watch it bare its teeth.
The first obstacle’s name was Kaito. He was Kurama’s classmate and had an air of confidence that screamed revenge of the nerds.
“You are in my territory, which follows my rules.” He smirked from behind his laced fingers, settled comfortably in his chair.
Hiei’s soul was snatched up quickly. It wasn’t too much of a surprise – the prideful demon hated being told what to do. You blocked Kaito’s view from Hiei’s comatose body, not liking the way he raked his eyes over the rest of you. You’d seen Kurama make that look before – he was calculating his next move. With Kaito’s intellect, it was likely he was already at least twenty steps ahead of your own thought process.
Kuwabara slipped up.
It was just the three of you left.
You surveyed their expressions. Kurama was going to take another risk, as was his nature. Put him at less of an advantage. You opted to keep your mouth shut entirely.
That was, until Kaito decided to engage in conversation with you.
“You and Shuichi have been friends for some time, then?”
It was a loaded question. You balked. “I wouldn’t say that.”
“Acquaintances, then. Interesting.” He hummed. “There’s something about you. You were the human who joined the Dark Tournament. Are you not?”
“Yeah, that was me.”
“I heard you put on quite a show while you were there. Particularly brutal with several opponents. Why were you so hard on Bakken, if you don’t mind me asking?”
You swallowed once. “He was a terrible person.”
“Is that all?”
“I thought it might have been because he was incredibly unsportsmanlike. Specifically when fighting Shuichi.”
“That was one of the reasons why, sure. Kurama deserved better than that. Anyone would. Only a coward would attack someone who can’t even fight back.”
“You’re a very passionate person. I can appreciate that. Can’t you say the same, Shuichi?”
You kept your gaze locked on Kaito, but Kurama’s answer was what surprised you enough to break you away from your staredown.
“She is. I admire that about her.”
An ice-cold feeling washed over you. You were embarrassed beyond belief. Whatever the implication behind those words, he didn’t have the right to be so casual about it.
“Let’s stop talking.”
“Have I struck a nerve?” Kaito smiled gently. It was faker than his concern for you. “I didn’t mean to offend. I don’t think Shuichi did, either. Is there a problem with him expressing his feelings for you?”
“Like I said. Change the subject. Or not. Just keep me out of earshot.”
You knew you fucked up before the word even finished leaving your mouth. Your soul was sucked out of your chest with a POP. You watched your body slump in the chair as you traveled against your will toward Kaito and his collection. You could faintly hear a few more words before you were sent into unconsciousness.
“Her soul is so bright. Is that why you covet it? Or is it…something more?”
You snapped awake. You wiggled your fingers and toes, peering at the backs of your hands and sucking in a deep breath. Fuck. You let your guard down and it was your own fault. You ran your fingers through your hair, shuddering at all of your sensations returning at once.
A hand entered your vision and you grasped it without thinking. It was warm and rough, calloused. You recoiled from the sudden realization it wasn’t Botan’s. Kurama blinked at you once. You hadn’t meant to flinch away from him, but he looked more surprised than offended.
“Sorry. You caught me off guard.”
“No, I should have called your name.” He offered you a slight smile. “Are you alright?”
“I mean, aside from being super embarrassed, just peachy.”
“I’m glad to hear it.”
You wondered what he had to do to win against Kaito. You suspected something brutal, completely unaware to the truth.
Yusuke was in the attic of the mansion the entire time. Being held captive by someone with shadow manipulation. He was straining himself. As the clock continued to run, he was still unsure of who set up this entire kidnapping. But he was relieved to see all of you.
The question remained – who was the impostor?
“Botan, what’re your measurements?”
She considered telling him, then got pissed. “I never told you that, you pervert!”
He zeroed in on you. “That’s definitely the real [Y/N]. I’d recognize that resting bitch face anywhere.”
“Wow, I didn’t even SAY anything.”
“You don’t have to.” He winked. “I know you too well by now.”
He asked Kurama about his mother, and he answered just as expected. Yusuke didn’t seem too convinced still, as he shot both of you a suspicious glance.
“So, have you two gotten rid of all that nasty sexual tension yet?”
If looks could kill, he would’ve been dead in less than a second. “Move. The fuck. On.”
“Oh man. The look on your face. If I die tonight, I can die happy knowing I got to see it one last time.” He guffawed. “You two should seriously just kiss already. Kurama, go for it. You’re staring at her lips like ninety percent of the time anyway.”
“Yusuke? SHUT. THE FUCK. UP!” You snapped, causing him to laugh harder. “Take this fucking seriously. Or do you want to die?”
In the end, Kuwabara was the one who’d been snatched up. With a masterful punch, the impostor was revealed.
The exercise was a training lesson from your number one martial arts master, Genkai. Hiei was not happy to hear he’d been tricked. Especially not when he was informed of his current ranking in Demon World standards. Tonight was just a series of low blows for him. So, as expected, he stormed off. His ego took as much as it could handle, and he had some of his own priorities to sort out.
Over the next few days, you were in a whirlwind of investigation. Tracking down the members of Sensui’s gang. You managed to bring one of them back to the apartment.
“What do you think of Seaman?”
“Fuck if I know, Yusuke. He tried to kill Kuwabara. That doesn’t sit well with me.”
He shrugged. “Hiei tried to kill me once upon a time. You learn to get over it.”
“I guess.” You sucked in a breath. “Sensui is a master manipulator and classic cult leader, whoever he is. This…kid. Is looking for guidance and acceptance. He sounded so desperate when speaking about it all.”
“Yeah.” Yusuke shrugged. “But we’re the good guys.”
“And good guys always win, right?” You smiled at him.
“You should do that more often, you know.”
“Don’t be weird.”
You stood up and realized Kurama had been standing in the corner of the room, listening in on your conversation, no doubt. “Oh. Hey. You need something?”
“I wanted your opinion.”
“I’ll leave you two alone.” Yusuke wiggled his eyebrows and dove out the doorway. You watched him go with a look of disbelief. Why was he acting so damn weird?
Kurama looked out the window to the crowded streets below. “You believe in forgiveness, don’t you?”
“I guess. I’m also good at holding grudges, though.”
He chuckled. “I find that hard to believe.”
“You’d be surprised. But why are you asking?”
“You’re right about Sensui. We may not be able to win quite as smoothly as we have in the past. Not when he’s an expert at bending others to his will. I question how far we may have to go in order to secure our victory.”
You weren’t sure what he was insinuating, but went along with it, anyway. “I guess we’ll just have to see.”
“I hope it doesn’t come to anything too extreme.” He pulled back from the window. “The night you made you the fresh cup of tea. You looked at it like I had poisoned it. Why did you toss it out?”
Your stomach dropped. “I—uh. Oh. I didn’t know you noticed.”
“I had a feeling. You just confirmed it now.”
“Ugh. Okay, well, I don’t know. It was kind of weird.”
“I see.” His brow furrowed. “Seems we don’t know each other well enough to give gifts then, do we?”
“Look, if this is about what I said to Kaito, I’m sorry. He caught me off guard. I was on edge the whole night. And I don’t know. ‘Friends’ seems like a strong word. ‘Acquaintances’ is too informal. I guess at the very least I would call us teammates.”
He nodded. “That’s…fair. I suppose I shouldn’t have expected more than that.”
“Sorry. I’m just a guarded person.” You weren’t sure how much more you should disclose to him without making it awkward. “You were once, too.”
“Yeah. When we first met. You were just so flat. And cut-to-the-chase. Now it’s like…you’re more willing to emote and express yourself. I didn’t even know you could joke until you pulled that prank with Kuwabara when Yusuke woke up from his fight with Toguro. I guess it’s just different.”
He chewed on your words and you felt him shift closer to you. He moved to get a better angle at witnessing what was down below, but your shoulders were touching now. A slight brush. Instead of pulling away, he stayed there. As if he was testing his boundaries. Without peeling his eyes away from the window, he continued.
“I blame your influence.”
“Me? What’d I do?”
He turned toward you finally. “I’m not sure. It’s peculiar.” The glint in his eyes was hiding something. Something almost profound. You were scared of what it meant.
You stepped away from him, creating a wide berth between you. Despite the gap in distance, you still felt like you were being suffocated. “I need to check on Kuwabara. Hope I answered your question.”
He didn’t answer, merely grasping his hands behind his back and returning his attention to the busy streets below.
You weren’t sure what his deal was lately. He was pushing. Like he was trying to get to know you more than you wanted. You didn’t like it at all. With Yusuke and Kuwabara, it was easier. Maybe because you knew that they had other people in their lives who meant more to them than you did. There wasn’t so much pressure. But for some reason, Kurama felt like it was necessary to keep cornering you. Like he was closing the distance because he knew you were resistant to it.
He had improved significantly, like you said. Before, he was someone who was only focused on getting what he wanted out of something. He used Hiei and Gouki to steal the artifact to save his mother. He thought of it as repaying a debt. He didn’t even consider her feelings in his rash decision. He made the effort to train Kuwabara although he participated in the tournament just as good faith toward Yusuke. He started off immensely cruel and ended the tournament with a little more recognizable humanity.
You were starting to wonder if he was truly changing, or if this was just little white lies of action he did to make us feel more at ease around him. If he was just trying to reassure himself that he wasn’t the monster he used to be.
You got your answer shortly.
In the depths of the tunnel leading to the barrier, Kurama showed his true nature.
The echo of Amanuma’s body hitting the floor reverberated through your entire body.
You were numb.
Kurama walked toward you. Yusuke tried to reach out and comfort him, but Kurama shot him a look that consisted purely of malice.
“You…fucking killed him.”
“Are you guys…fucking kidding me?” You turned toward all of them, looking each of them in the eye. They refused to meet you head on. “You’re defending his actions? He sat there and psychologically terrorized a CHILD just to get him to slip up.”
Yusuke’s fists clenched. “Look, I KNOW you’re pissed off. But we don’t have time for this. Kuwabara--”
“We don’t have time to mourn the death of a child? Right here, in front of us? Why is no one freaking out? Why are all of you just standing there like this is fucking normal?” You could hear your voice getting thin. The image of him falling played repeatedly across your mind. Snapshots of him pleading with Kurama. “He begged you not to kill him. He didn’t want to die.”
“You heard what he said! We couldn’t use violence, and if Kurama lost, HE would have died! Do you want that instead?!”
You snapped. “Yes! Is that what you want me to say? Kurama killed a fucking child in cold blood! You heard Hiei, this wasn’t the first time he did it, either! That child was the one who created this territory! You don’t think he could have changed the rules and made it so the loser doesn’t die? He tortured him for full minutes before he died in fear!”
“You need to wait outside. You’re only going to hinder our journey.” Genkai snarled. “He made the necessary decision. You want to keep making a scene? Fine. Do it outside where everyone can hear you. Shout it off the damn rooftops if you feel like it. Get your shit together or leave.”
You screamed in anguish and all of them went flying backwards, bodies rag-dolling as they went careening into the cavern walls. This was it. The tears streaming down your face, the months of all your suppressed emotions coming out in unadulterated rage. You couldn’t contain it any longer. Not this. The sheer agony of knowing who it was that you fought alongside with all this time was enough to make you sick. And in the heat of the moment, you were willing to destroy everyone as punishment for it.
Genkai jumped up and immediately set off a blast that you struggled to repel. It eventually absorbed itself into your stomach and you felt all of your free will leave your body.
You collapsed to the ground, unmoving, barely holding yourself up. Tears littered the ground as you sobbed for all of the victims Kurama had taken in all his years of being alive. Yet he was still here, unflinching, pretending to be bothered about his decision. This was who he truly was. A monster.
“[Y/N], what the fuck!” Yusuke boomed, but another voice cut through his oncoming tirade.
“Enough, Yusuke. She’s right.” You heard Kurama straighten himself. “I am a murderer.”
“No, you did that so we could pass! There was no way! Even if you figured out a way to change the territory, the kid was too inexperienced to handle it on his own. The time would’ve run out, and you would’ve died!”
The rest of the group was eerily silent.
“We need to keep going,” Kaito advised carefully. “By my calculations, the barrier will be open in approximately thirty minutes.”
“You’re not going to leave her here, are you?” That was Yana.
“She’s dead weight.” Eloquently put, Hiei.
“Just give her a second.” Yusuke still had faith in you, you guessed.
You brought yourself to a sitting position. You had nothing left to give. Genkai drained you of all your emotions in an attempt to placate you. She must’ve had some serious balls to eat away the whirlwind of wrath that grew inside of you. You lifted your chin up and found Kurama at your side.
He searched your eyes and saw how much hatred sat behind them. It didn’t faze him. Instead, he reached out and placed his hand against your cheek. It was clammy. Beads of cold sweat ran down his forehead. He was visibly shaken from what he did. You couldn’t find it in yourself to care.
“You fucking disgust me,” you spat. Your voice was level and monotone, due to Genkai taking away what she could, but even now you could feel the strength of your hatred creeping back. “You’re a selfish asshole. I don’t like you, Kurama. I never have and you never will. You throw people’s lives away like it’s nothing. You put on this façade like you’re a martyr when in fact you’re nothing but a coward running away from his own insecurities and guilt.”
Each word you spoke stung him. It was easy to see how deep each cut went. And you were glad to see that – because he didn’t deserve to be coddled. Not for that. He needed to be punished for the actions he took both past and present. No one held him accountable but himself.
“I know.” His touch faded and you realized he was moving away from you. “You’re right. And…I think you have my answer.”
You didn’t bother asking him what the question was. You didn’t care.
Kido helped you off from the floor. You stood shock still as Kaito bent down to retrieve Amanuma’s body. You saw his hand drop limply to his side and hoped with all of your might that your strength could return by the time you faced Sensui head on.
Your wish…was granted.
Suspended and forced to watch Sensui overpower Yusuke and eventually kill him, you were at your limit. All of you were.
Despite your differences, the annoyance and ire you had for each other, you were still able to break free and attack. Hiei and Kurama unleashed their demon forms. You went straight for Sensui’s throat, wanting to watch his windpipe fracture under the weight of the world on top of him. He deserved to choke and gasp for air until his last, garbled breath. To draw it out for as long as humanly possible, to make up for all of his victims, both living and dead.
You followed him to Demon World. The demons around you evaporated as you propelled yourself through the portal, crushing any opposition in your way.
For the briefest of moments, your attacks all synchronized. Your heart ached. Your spirit was nowhere near broken. Your body was weary. Yet you fought on, Yusuke’s final words reached something in you that you thought was long gone. Kurama, in his demon form, weaved around you and you worked in tandem to drive Sensui toward several corners. Neither of you spoke a word about the underlying animosity you had bubbling in your veins, but you managed to put it aside to work together in bringing justice for your friend.
Yusuke showed you all up, anyway.
He drove Sensui into submission in his newfound demon form. Sensui retreated with his lover and you felt yourself seethe with rage as they disappeared. You wanted to watch him die.
“So much for a benevolent human,” Hiei scoffed. “You’re just as bloodthirsty as you are.”
“For the right reasons.” You were embarrassed to admit he was right. You had gone through your own transformations, and you weren’t particularly proud of it.
Yusuke scratched his head. “So. I don’t have a heartbeat. Should I be worried?”
The loud rolling laughter that erupted from Kurama and Hiei was infectious. You found yourself joining them without knowing why.
You stared across the horizon. Pensive. It was a really hard day for everyone. Things turned out okay. But there was a level of exhaustion that settled over your shoulders, something too difficult to shake off with a few positive thoughts.
As the sunbeams slipped away from your field of vision, you let out a deep sigh as you felt a familiar figure settle down next to you.
“Hey, you didn’t know rooftops were your thing, too. Shoulda told me.”
You glanced at Yusuke from the corner of your eye. “You should be asleep by now.”
“Eh. I figure I’ll pass out soon.” He ran his hands over his fresh haircut. It was a little more comforting knowing that all the extra length had been razored away. It didn’t suit him. “Thought I’d come and check on ya. How you feeling?”
You shrugged. “You tell me. We saved the world again. The barrier’s closed for now. Sensui was defeated. Everything’s back to normal.”
You didn’t bother mentioning how glad you were that the darkened, foreboding cloud had disappeared. The unpleasant weight of the demon world pressing in on yours was horrifying. Just thinking about it made your stomach clench.
“Sooo. You want to talk about what happened with Kurama, or…?”
Ugh. You knew he was going to press you. “Not really. But I’m guessing you do.”
“Well, at the time we kind of just blew it off since we were more concerned about getting to Kuwabara. Now that we’ve got all the time in the world, why not revisit that ridiculously uncomfortable moment?” He grinned.
You sighed. “Did you come out here on your own, or did someone force you to come talk to me about this?”
“Kurama didn’t, if that’s what you’re asking. I tried to bring it up to him, but he changed the subject.”
Your eyes narrowed. “Typical of him.”
“Hey, [Y/N], let’s be serious for a sec…what you said, whether it was in the heat of the moment or whatever, is that how you really feel? I mean. Why now? We’re a team.”
You scoffed and leaned backwards on your hands, closing your eyes and letting the fresh breeze ruffle through your hair. “I don’t know what to feel any more.”
“Well, whatever you think about Kurama, you know he’s a good person. We might not understand him all the time, but he’s been a friend to everyone. Especially you. I think you really gotta learn that not everyone’s perfect. And not to be an ass, but telling your teammate you’d be okay with them dying isn’t exactly sportsmanlike, either. It’s actually pretty fucked up.”
“Yeah. I know.”
You could hear him open and close his mouth, then he decided to go ahead and say the rest of what was on his mind.
“Kurama really likes you, you know. He respects you.”
“I don’t know why. I’ve been nothing but a bitch to him.”
He shrugged. “You could ask him yourself.”
You couldn’t bring yourself to apologize to Kurama. Not on your own. It was too awkward. Although everyone had pretty much understood why you went off the handle, and glossed over your reaction to his decision, you still felt out of place. Like you wanted to make amends, but you couldn’t bring yourself to do it.
“So, your ancestor is a ridiculously powerful demon who’s currently in a stalemate for full control of the entire Demon World. Hiei has been approached by one of them, and Kurama another. Which means that the three of you will be on opposing sides of the war.”
“Uh, yeah. That’s the gist of it.”
“Yusuke, why do you always try my patience?”
“Hey! I’m at least siding with family.” He scowled, sinking into his jacket. “Why don’t you ever nag them about their decisions?”
“Because I love you the most.” You grinned. “You know I don’t approve. But it’s your life. And if you’re not satisfied with how things are now, then go for it.”
“Uh, thanks, mom. I’ll keep that in mind. Oh yeah.” He fished in his pocket and slapped something down on the table. “Kurama’s mom is getting married. I got you an exclusive invite.”
“Sheesh, you didn’t even look at it!”
“I don’t know his mom like you do. And it would just be weird. We haven’t talked since…you know.”
“Which is why you need to go. Seriously.” Yusuke slid it closer to you. “Bring a gift. Surprise him. Patch it up. Amanuma’s alive now, so you basically went off on him for no reason.”
You held your tongue, not wanting to pick a fight with him too. “I don’t even have anything to wear to this wedding. Is Kuwabara going?”
“Yeah, he is.”
“I call dibs on him as my date.”
“You’re not even going. So there.”
You stood in front of the mirror, the pale pink dress flared out at your hips. You put makeup on today for the event. An obligatory gift in one hand. You were going to meet Kuwabara at the venue. It was going to be a fairly big event. Not your style. But Yusuke was right – you needed to squash things with Kurama once and for all.
It was actually difficult finding him. Being someone critical to the wedding’s success, he was nowhere to be found. You chatted with Kuwabara, introduced yourself to Kurama’s parents. His mom was glowing with joy. It was a sight to see. She was a kind soul. You wondered if she knew how deeply she reached Kurama’s heart.
“I’m gonna grab a drink. Want something?”
“Uh, yeah. Shochu.” You almost laughed when you saw his incredulous look. “Just kidding. Something fruity, please.”
You watched everyone enjoy each other’s company. There was a small dancefloor where several of the extended family members were twirling and laughing. Children ran around with sparklers. So much love in one room. Unconditional support for a happy couple just looking to start their lives together. You wondered if there was ever a future like that in store for you.
You froze at your name being called from such a familiar voice. It nearly made you jump. Kurama came up from behind you and broke into a warm smile.
“I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“It’s okay. It’s kind of like…sensory overload right now.” You stammered. “I was just waiting for Kuwabara.”
“I see. I won’t bother you. Thank you for coming.”
“Uh, no, wait.” You reached out and grabbed his sleeve before he could leave. You couldn’t believe what you’d done. “Sorry.” You released him. He stared down at the spot you had latched onto. “I was actually here for you.”
A moment of silence.
“I mean – ugh, I’m here for your mom, it’s her wedding, obviously. But I know you’re leaving soon for the Demon World. And I thought I could…”
He said your name again, softer this time. “You don’t have to force yourself. I told Yusuke that things are fine between us. You were honest with how you felt. You shouldn’t have to apologize for that.”
“Okay, but I’m not done.” You kept eye contact with him, steady and true. “I was wrong.”
“I was. I am. I judged you for things you’re trying to put past you.” You fumbled with your hands, exasperated. “I had these preconceived notions about you since the beginning. Trying to figure you out. Because I didn’t like how you handled things. I was searching for your faults. And even though I know a lot of what I said was accurate, it’s not…that’s not all who you are. I know for a fact that there’s a side to you that is merciful, who does want to change and be a better person. Who wants to atone for crimes you’ve committed. You asked me before if I believe in forgiveness, but I don’t think it’s up to me to decide whether or not you’re forgiven. I think that’s up to you.”
He didn’t look convinced with what you thought was a stellar speech.
“I’m just saying, my opinion doesn’t matter. What you should value is all your efforts to this point. What you’ve done to try and make things right. No matter how misguided you can be. You’ve only been exposed to humans for such a short time – I can’t expect you to know everything there is about us when you’ve spent the majority of your life living the way you wanted to, without remorse.”
Kurama’s shoulders slumped. “I think…you’re giving me far too much credit.”
“No. I’m being critical of myself as well as you. I want to start over. I saw just the bad in you. I’m not perfect. No one is. And even though you tell yourself you have to be, you’re allowed to make mistakes, too. So…” You swallowed thickly. “I’m proud to call you a friend, Kurama.”
He broke out into a series of hearty chuckles. You weren’t sure if he was laughing at you, or the situation, but your cheeks were warm either way.
“I’m afraid I’ve already considered you a friend for quite some time, even if my feelings weren’t reciprocated.” He smiled gently. “Unfortunately, that’s not enough for me.”
“My apology?” You really thought it was passable.
“No. Being friends.” He reached down and curled his fingers underneath yours. You watched in shock as he kissed the back of your hand. His lips were feather-soft. His touch set off an uncomfortable spark, as well as his next words. “I want more.”
“Um. No. I mean.” Your mind was a mess. “No, just no.”
“No?” He seemed amused with your answer. “Sorry. I’m not satisfied with what’s between us right now.”
“That’s. I’m not.” You were about to short-circuit here. “I—I just apologized for months…of being a dick to you? Are you some kind of masochist?”
“I might be.” He let your hand drop down to your side. “I wanted you to know. The person who summoned me…he and I have unfinished business. If you understood what that was, you would expect me to go. I am alongside him in name only. His ideals don’t coincide with my own.”
“And what ideals would those be?”
“Wishing to consume humans freely and as often as one would please.” He said it so casually you felt sick to your stomach. “I would rather go to him than make him chase after me.”
“I hope you’re safe while I’m gone.”
“I’ll try. I mean, I should be saying that to you.”
“I will be. I have my own goal, after all.” He started to leave. You felt yourself following his figure as it approached the sea of bodies behind him. “Goodbye.”
Stranded in the outskirts of the wedding reception, and your head twisting with unpleasant thoughts, you spent the rest of the night in a heady daze.
It was difficult to know what kind of tensions were being resolved in the Demon World. With Kurama, Yusuke and Hiei gone, the city was definitely less entertaining than it was before. You were still on edge thinking about the motivations of all three members of the so-called demon royalty. Morality was such a bitch when it came to the eating habits of one intelligent species consuming the other. You really tried not to think about it.
It was hard not to, not when you were being tailed by a demon.
You caught the sucker trying to sneak into your window and promptly captured it. It was a weak thing. Not used to receiving threats when it went largely undetected.
“And what demon did I piss off enough for them to send you?” you asked it, peering through the cage of spirit energy that held it in place. It was the best way to keep it from escaping and reporting back to the person who ordered it around.
“I am Rugu, and I was sent by King Yomi!” he cried. “You’re…collateral.”
Rugu chuckled. “Kurama, of course! You’re his weakness.”
“Wow. Real original.” You flicked him against the forehead and settled back into your desk chair. “Unfortunately, Yomi didn’t get the memo that I’m more than capable in defending myself from low classes like you. Better luck next time.”
“You are powerful…” Rugu murmured, nuzzling himself closer to the bars. “Your energy is…thick.”
“Uhhh. I don’t know if I should be creeped out, but maybe you should tone it down a little bit.” You went back to working on your writing. “Besides, Kurama knows better than to worry about me.”
“So you think. You should’ve seen his face when my King told him about your whereabouts!” The demon cackled. “You’re special to him.”
“Give me a break. Not you, too.” You tossed a blanket over the cage, much to the demon’s chagrin. “Just try to keep it down while I work.”
Kuwabara was over for his weekly tutoring session with you since he was studying to get into Gai Tech. “Hey, you hear that Urameshi got the war to stop?”
“Botan told me. He’s really something.”
“Yeah. I guess Kurama was the one who sealed the deal. He double-crossed the king he was working with!” Kuwabara laughed. “He’s scary. I’m glad he’s on our side.”
That comment gave you pause. “He is, isn’t he?”
“Sure he is. Plus, he’s sweet on you.” Kuwabara rubbed his chin and closed his eyes. “I remember the first time I noticed it. It was the day we all went to have lunch after the Dark Tournament ended. You ended up having to sit next to him in the same booth. And you both drank out of the same cup on accident.”
You narrowed your eyes at him. “Don’t remind me, okay?”
“An indirect kiss~” Kuwabara teased.
“Okay, that’s it. Study session is over.”
You walked through the park, ignoring the eyes of the lower-class demons on you. You somehow managed to tame the little one that you trapped in the cage. Now he was your link to reaching Yusuke on a near daily basis. The demons watching you knew you were getting prepared to travel to the Demon World, which was why they’d been tailing you for who knows how long.
“Idiots,” Rugu tittered. “You should kill them.”
You rolled your eyes. “How about no? We have to make it to the tournament on time.”
Perched upon your shoulder, Rugu opened up his mouth. A portal ripped open in a flash of light. You stepped inside and ignored the claws that reached out toward your legs. If they weren’t quick enough, the closing portal would sever their limbs.
You ended up right in the middle of the crowd. Demons walked back and forth, chatting with each other as they drew numbers for their lots. You didn’t stick out quite yet – with Rugu, you seemed just like one of the more humanoid members of their species. It wasn’t until someone walked by and sniffed deeply that they looked back and snarled at you some kind of slur you didn’t quite understand.
“Sure. I was going to.”
You would recognize that voice anywhere. “Yusuke!”
He pushed through the crowd and immediately bolted toward you. Without waiting for your approval, he swept you up in a hug that lifted you up off the ground. You laughed long and hard, delighted to see him, wrapping your arms around his neck as he swung you around like it was nothing at all.
When he stepped back, you realized Rugu had bit him and was dangling from his shoulder. “Rugu!” you cracked up. “What are you doing?!”
“Protecting you?” He huffed. “You don’t just launch yourself at strange men!”
“I mean, the squirt’s got a point.” Yusuke tore him off like it was nothing, placing Rugu back where he was before. “You’re so scandalous~”
“Ugggghhh. Don’t make me punch you before the match. I don’t want to walk around with a bruised hand.”
You chatted for a long time, catching up. Your friends from the Dark Tournament showed up and they were raring to go. It was so good to see them. Although some of them more than others. You were still not impressed with Shishiwakamaru’s attitude, and you thought you caught him hissing at you at one point in the conversation.
“Have you seen Hiei? Or Kurama?”
“Not yet. I’m sure they’ll turn up.” He beamed. “Hey, Kurama told me that you two made up.”
“Uh, sure, if you want to call it that.”
Yusuke smirked knowingly. “Well. It’s about to start. See you on the other side.”
“Sure. I’ll find a safe spot to watch.”
The Demon World tournament was more fast-paced than anything you’d ever seen before. Powerful demons with razor-sharp senses, years of martial arts mastery and sheer determination was a recipe for chaos. You could barely keep up with how many of them were disqualified.
With the all-out brawl completed, it was time for one-on-one matches. You still hadn’t seen anyone else you knew, so you mostly kept to yourself. You ignored the world around you and kept your eyes glued to the screens that showed various angles of each fight.
“Next round. Shigure versus Kurama.”
You froze. So he was participating after all. You knew he was, but you hadn’t even gotten an inkling of where he was.
You rushed over to the best side for viewing the match. The announcer went on with introducing both opponents. A previous interview that had been recorded was playing on several loudspeakers and TV screens posted up around the battlefield.
You watched a close-up of Kurama’s face as several statistics and predictions were labeled against his photo.
“What do you wish to accomplish should you win the tournament?” the voice asked in its monotonous lilt.
Kurama stared straight into the camera, and no matter what angle you looked at it, it felt like he was addressing you.
“A world where demons may learn from humans,” he answered thoughtfully, no trace of hesitation in his voice. “A world where the woman I love would flourish without worry.”
Your heart pounded. Your cheeks were hot. You swallowed thickly and Rugu seemed to notice, fanning you with his tiny claws.
You searched the battlefield until you saw Kurama stand there, ready to fight. It was different. There was real passion within him now. He wasn’t doing this because he felt like he should. He was doing it because he wanted to. Because he now had more to fight for. Because he felt an attachment to the world where you came from.
You were on the edge of your seat when he finally defeated Shigure, who you later learned was the person who gave Hiei his Jagan Eye. Kurama was exhausted and drained by the end of the match. You could tell that he was forcing himself to stand. He wanted to continue. He no longer fought like he wanted to become mortally injured and die. He stood on his own two feet, refusing to back down, ready for whatever punishment were to befall him – so he could triumph.
But with all the energy he expended against Shigure, there was no way he could continue. He was defeated fair and square against one of Raizen’s friends. Despite his injuries, and his plans dashed away, he stood proud and tall. He had an air you’d never seen in him before.
You waited for him as he exited the battlefield. Yusuke was with you, you guessed for moral support. You were nervous.
As soon as he came within view, Yusuke walked over and clapped him on the back, congratulating him for how far he’d gotten. The two chatted for a moment before Yusuke’s eyes darted toward you. Kurama followed his not-so subtle direction before he realized who it was that was waiting to meet with him.
You met each other halfway. Kurama opened his mouth to say something, but you didn’t give him a chance to finish his thought. Not when you curled your arm around his neck and pulled his mouth to yours.
Yusuke whooped with glee and several of the people in the crowd turned to witness it all, murmurs following their wandering eyes.
The kiss was hard. Like you were still mad – and you were. Because you didn’t want it to be like this. When you met, you held nothing but contempt for him. But here you were. Relieved he was alive, ecstatic to see him become so powerful, moved that he was changing in subtle ways. Yes, of course he regressed sometimes, but that was to be expected. Old habits die hard.
You pulled back for air and he gazed at you through half-lidded eyes. You watched his tongue flick out and taste his lips.
“Shh.” You kissed him a second time.
Each time you pulled away, he tried to get a word out, but you weren’t going to let him. He was a skilled kisser. That was for sure. You could feel that all the way down to your bones. You angled your head so you could kiss him deeper, bodies flush against each other, pinning him so he knew exactly who was in control right now. He needed to know that this was your decision.
After a few intense minutes of kissing, you finally separated. You were both flushed, your lips swollen. He looked speechless. That was what you wanted. You stepped back so you could cool off for a second. The cold air was welcome against your heated skin.
“I’m next,” Yusuke shouted, causing a ripple of laughter among your friends, who had come to crowd around the spectacle.
Kurama couldn’t tear his eyes off you anymore. Not when you reached down for his hand and wove your fingers together in a tight grip. You led him toward the others, who were more than happy to greet you with all kinds of lascivious comments and observations about you. They even had a betting pool on how things would turn out between you. Rugu ended up stealing all of the money they put down.
“I can’t wait for Kuwabara to see this,” Yusuke snickered. “So, when should I book the wedding?”
Kurama shrugged noncommittally, a hardly contained smile on his lips. “It may be sooner than you think.”
“Don’t push your luck, oh my god.”
As the barrier came down, and demons were free to cross as they pleased, you formally introduced yourself to Kurama’s family. They welcomed you with open arms and you found yourself having more in common with Shiori than you thought you would. Kurama’s stepfather was a hardworking man. His stepbrother was a kind and caring sibling who wished for nothing but Kurama’s happiness. You couldn’t have asked for an easier transition in your relationship.
You and Shiori were sitting outside on her veranda when she made a passing comment that caused you to look down and blush.
“I wonder if you know how strong you are. You changed my son for the better. He’s softer now.”
“I…don’t know what to say.”
She beamed at you. “Thank you for helping my son find love.”
You stared ahead at the full moon, knowing Kurama was listening to you despite being further ahead, skipping stones in the small pond.
“I should be thanking him. He saved me, too.”
Shiori left you alone. Kurama joined you where his mother once sat. Without a word, his hand found yours. Warmth seeped into you, a welcome break from the slight chill of the air. He used his thumb to stroke a familiar kanji on the back of your hand.
“'Ai', huh…?” You shook your head. “Uggghhh. Don’t be so disgustingly romantic.”
He chuckled and kissed you wordlessly and you returned it despite your protests. He was so greedy. In his past life he stole whatever he liked depending on his whimsy, and it was the same even now. Not that you were complaining, though. You never did anymore.
You watched the cherry blossoms scatter when the wind kicked up. It was nearing midnight now. Another day fast approached the both of you, with an uncertain future that was sure to be filled with misunderstandings, grief and setbacks. You would have to learn to be patient, just as he needed to focus more on living the rest of his days with conviction to change.
“Ready to come inside?”
You glanced upwards and saw him extend his hand to you. He looked ethereal in the moonlight. You knew full well the weight of your decision should you take it.
And so you did.