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One Million Miles From Home

By Korogi Nagisa

Part One

"So alone, a million miles from home.
You sold us a lie while we're crying in pain
Now you're so alone like a fly in the rain.
So tired now."
      -Hide/Zilch "What's up, Mr. Jones?"

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      It was nearing nine o'clock that night when Minamino Shuuichi entered into his south Tokyo apartment that he shared both with his brother and the occasional visits of his demon lover from the underworld. The apartment was just as much home as both his home in the human world. the Ningenkai. and the demon world below, the Makai. It was a very humble-looking abode, plain and furnished only by what was needed in his everyday life. Despite the Minamino wealth, the apartment sat comfortably in a rather middle-class section of town and humbly decorated. It resembled more of a quaint, country house that you would find in the middle of the woods.
      Minamino Shuuichi, known to every one of his closest friends as just Kurama, removed his coat and laid it on the chair beside the door before flipping on the entrance lights. Immediately, his long, flaming red hair burst into light, completely unnatural among any race of humans, especially the Japanese. It fell over his shoulders and down his back in large, billowing waving wisps, section of his fiery hair sticking out at odd angles to crown his head. Carefully and quite femininely, he fluffed his beautiful hair, fluttering a large pair of soft, leafy-green eyes that seemed to possess a mind of their own.
      "It's about time you got home," a low growl came from within the depths of the dimly lit apartment, sending icy rivets through the dark house. The voice was enough to chill the air around Kurama to almost ice as he stood silent a moment, slowly and deftly turning from his primping to look off into the depths of his home.
      The front entrance light spilled into the room to be choked out by the dim orangish light that flowed from a lamplight that dimly lit the main dinning and living area. Within the area hidden by deep shadows was a low table that Kurama knew sat in the middle of the room. And seated upon that table was a short, silhouetted figure, red eyes glowing from within a darkened face. The hair on the back of Kurama's neck stood on end, sending a shock wave of chills through his body.
      But despite the effects of the chill, Kurama smiled and chuckled softly to himself, tossing his red hair about once more before reaching for the living room light. "Some 'welcome home' ", he chuckled as light flashed into view. Light spilled into the room like a burst damn, killing the icy tone that the air had taken on, replacing the darkness with an almost blinding light.
      The figure on the table was suddenly illuminated, hunching down slightly as the light hit his eyes, growling. He appeared to be a child dressed all in black, appearing to be no more than 8 or 9. His hair was black and stuck up and out from his head in an odd array of spikes. At his forehead, a tuft of white hair exploded in a starburst formation to frame his odd hair just above a large, purple third eye, centered perfectly on his forehead.
      But there was something unnatural about the child. In fact, he wasn't a child at all. His name was Hiei, and he was far from being a child. by about 100 years. Hiei was Kurama's demon lover from the Makai, a fire demon with a hair-trigger rage that seemed to be only stifled by Kurama's presence. He sat as a perfect statue centered in the middle of the low table, unmoving as Kurama began to pad slowly into the room, still messing with his beautiful hair. A set of small, blood red eyes followed the tall, red-headed figure as it glided with the skill of a cat into the room, bringing with him the distinct smell of roses.
      Kurama bent over and kissed Hiei's forehead lightly, brushing a finger down the fire demon's cheek. "Where's Wari-kun?"
      Hiei shrugged and only grunted, crossing his arms over his chest. "Was upstairs last time I knew."
      Kurama smiled, stood up straight and raised his hands to his mouth, cupping them tightly. He inhaled deeply, his chest expanding to an unnatural size before he let loose. "KYOUDAI-KUUUUUN!!!!!"
      Hiei frowned and growled at his lover, slouching down on the table, glaring. "Baka na kitsune."
      "Ya ha!" a chuckled answer came from the loft just up the stairs. "It's about time you got home, Kurama!" There was the sound of shuffling feet across the wooden floors above before a figure appeared at the top of the stairs, bounding down them two by two. All Kurama could see was a flash of black before long, tight arms wound around his neck and nearly sent him toppling backwards onto the floor. Kurama had to take a few uneasy steps backward to steady himself before the figure pulled back and smiled.
      Kurama's brother Yo-mawari was a complete exact double of Kurama. save for two distinct differences. Other than the fact that Yo-mawari's hair was solid black, catching the light of the room perfectly, his eyes were even darker black, if that was at all possible. They were a disconcerting sight at times, completely black and non-reflective. Kurama could never see himself in his brother's eyes like he could when he often looked into Hiei's vermilion ones. They seemed to devour all light that attempted to penetrate them. Definitely not human eyes.
      In fact, NONE of the three that lived in the small apartment were human at all. It was obvious that Hiei was not human: the red eyes and the glowing purple third eye upon his forehead gave that away. And Kurama and Yo-mawari were twin fox demons known in Japanese legends as Youko's. Each had the ability to hide their true form through a series of shape changes and illusions. While in the Ningenkai, they switched forms to appear human, hiding all signs that they were not of the race of people that inhabited the earth. But their true forms were that of humanoid silver foxes, standing at most a good foot taller than the two stood now. Truly beautiful creatures in both forms.
      Hiei grumbled to himself from the table and lept off, landing on the floor to immediately disappear in a rat of black wind. Kurama's curious green eyes fought to follow the demon as he lept off, eyes following the residual image to the living room. Hiei appeared again, lounged like a child in one of the chairs in the living room, the television flipping on across from him.
      "Kurama-kun," Yo-mawari chuckled, tugging on his brother's shirt sleeve. "Guess what?"
      Kurama turned back to his brother and smiled, cocking his head to the side. "Nani?"
      "No no, you have to GUESS!"
      "Oh, Wari-kun," Kurama groaned, wiping one of his green eyes lazily. "I'm too tired to guess. Just tell me."
      "Hmph. Fine. You're no fun." the black haired twin pouted and dug into his pocket a moment. He stuck his tongue out to the side in concentration as he dug further into his pocket, causing Kurama to laugh before Yo-mawari came back with his goal. "Hora!"
      Kurama looked back to see his brother thrust what looked like a credit card in his face, causing him to startle back a moment. "Nani.." he took the card and held it at a readable distance, examining it. "Wari. this is a social security card."
      "I know, I know. It's mine! I'm an inhabitant of the Ningenkai now."
      Kurama frowned and turned the card over in his hand, scrutinizing over its details. "How did you get this, kyoudai-kun?"
      "One of Yusuke-san's friends got it for me. Pretty good, huh?"
      "Oh, you mean you got it... illegally," Kurama stated easily, as if making a comment about the weather.
      "Well, not exactly. more like. I guess." Yo-mawari snorted and blew air out of his nose, stray strands of his black hair fluttering under the disturbance. Yo-mawari pondered a moment a bit vexed, making sure Kurama saw his distress before he admitted defeat. "Okay, fine. So I did get it illegally!"
      Kurama sighed and shook his head, turning into the house. Since his brother had been living in the Ningenkai, he had quickly learned his way around a computer, and learned how to obtain information through that computer. And most of what Yo-mawari came up with was stuff that he should never have gotten his hands on in the first place.
      "Matte! Kyoudai-kun. No one but you or I will ever know!" Yo-mawari called after his brother, giving chase. "It's a perfectly valid piece of identification," he tried to justify the act.
      Kurama laughed and put the card on the low table carefully. "You don't understand humans yet, Wari- kun. They'll find out if you're not careful."
      "And I'll get around it," Yo-mawari smiled, pointing to the desktop computer in the study. "Hey, if I could break into your company."
      Kurama shook his head again, laying a soft hand on his brother's shoulder and smiling. "Kyoudai. you don't quite understand the fact that."
      Kurama paused in mid sentence, his mouth hanging open as his last words were suddenly lost to him, the sound of the knock on the door echoing through the apartment.
      "Who in the world could that be this late at night?" Yo-mawari asked, rhetorically.
      "Humans," Hiei growled from his chair, the Jagan eye on his forehead glowing intently purple.
      Yo-mawari shrugged. "I'm coming!" he yelled to the door.

      The porch light flipped on moments before the wooden door opened on the tall, thin young man dressed in a flat black Armani suit and tie. Despite the darkness, the figure still wore deep, black sunglasses, reflecting the light of the porch lamp about him, shrouding him in mystery.
      Yo-mawari's face appeared in place of the door to greet the guest with a smile, bowing once. Yo-mawari was a gentle looking young man, dressed in an odd almost Chinese black and white gi. "Can I help you?" he asked politely.
      "Is this the Minamino residence?" the man at the door asked quietly, adjusting the dark sunglasses.
      "Hai. Irashaimase. May I help you?" he smiled.
      The man nodded once and removed his sunglasses, stepping into the light with a flowing ease. Reddish- brown hair framed his face perfectly in short, slightly curled wisps. He was definitely Japanese by his thin, femanine brown eyes which caught Yo-mawari's quickly, wincing slightly at the lifeless, black depths that they found.
      "Can. can I help you with something?" Yo-mawari asked again, frowning a bit as the man at the door just stared at him.
      "Yes, you can help me a great deal," the man said, tucking his glasses in the breast pocket of his suit jacket. He turned around and waved to a sleek, black limo parked just at the end of the walk.
      Yo-mawari peered around the man to see the doors to the limo open out, another man stepping out. He watched closely as man after man stepped out of the limo, four in all, to begin a steady procession up the front walk toward the apartment. "What is this? Who are you?" Yo-mawari asked the man as he turned the brown eyes back around.
      The man bowed once very formally and began to introduce himself. "My name is Hayashi Yoshiki."

      Kurama rested his chin on the arm of Hiei's chair and smiled up to his lover, playfulness sparking in the green depths of his eyes. "Were you waiting for me to come home, Hiei?"
      "Maybe," the other grumbled, trying to ignore him. "You were three hours late."
      "So you were worried about me."
      "I didn't say that," the other bit back quickly, looking out of the corner of his eye to make sure that he hadn't offended Kurama. "It's just. hn. I was waiting for you to get home because. " Hiei trailed off, grabbing the TV controller and flipping on the news.
      "You missed me."
      "I didn't say that either."
      "You didn't have to," Kurama smiled, resting his head over on Hiei's head as the fire demon lay cradled like a child in the chair. He smiled as he heard Hiei grumble again in protest before the wave of emotion hit him, his brother's voice filling his head.
      :Kyoudai. you should come see this,: the mental speech came through the mind link that Kurama shared with his brother. It was filled with a barrage of different emotions; confusion, excitement, impatience.
      Kurama looked up from the chair to the door. :Dou shita, kyoudai-kun?: he called back through his mind.
      :Just get over here!: The equivalent of a mental tug brought Kurama clumsily to his feet, shuffling across the wooden floors against his will, an unseen force pulling him across the room. "I'm coming, I'm coming," he protested out loud as he was pulled insistently across the dinning area to the front door.
      His brother's long arm grabbed him by the elbow and pulled him into the door jam with him, crowding the two men in the doorframe like a comedy routine. Before Kurama, there were five men piled into the small confines of the front porch, each dressed rather darkly, each rather serious in expression.
      "Can we help you?" Kurama asked, frowning slightly at each guest in sequence, letting his eyes fall back on the lead most man, short reddish brown hair centering his face.
      "You're Minanimo Kurama, I presume?" one of the men asked behind the foremost, short, cropped black hair framing his face.
      "Wha. no. I'm Minamino Shuuichi. Who. who are you?" Kurama said flatly. It wasn't a lie.. exactly. Kurama was his demon name, Shuuichi being his human name. The two were completely separate identities. There WAS still truth in the statement.
      "That's the same person, from what we've heard; this Shuuichi and Kurama," another man spoke up, long, curly brown hair hiding a good portion of his face.
      Yo-mawari and Kurama frowned in unison. :Who are they?: Kurama asked his brother, mentally, beginning to frown heavier with each passing moment.
      :You're kidding. You don't recognize them?:
      :Should I?:
      :You own one of their albums, stupid.:
      Kurama blinked a few times at the statement and looked each man over carefully. He DID recognize them. Three of them, at least. He frowned a bit but found himself smiling slightly, placing faces to voices. "Forgive me if I'm being rude," Kurama said, pointing a finger at Yoshiki. "I recognize you. and you. and you," he pointed around at the group. "You performed a song at a funeral ceremony a week ago, ne?"
      One by one, three of them nodded.
      "Former members of X Japan, ne?"

      Hiei had retreated to the loft when Kurama and Yo-mawari had invited the group of five men into the house, Kurama quickly making some coffee for them all as they sat at the low table. Introductions were made around the table so that everyone knew everyone else as Kurama sat down at the table with the coffee. The five men all sat quietly: Yoshiki, Toshi, Pata, Heath and Taiji.
      "I'm not really quite sure why you're all here," Yo-mawari said, placing his coffee cup before him, adjusting it's position so that it was in perfect reaching distance.
      Yoshiki signed lightly to himself and bowed his thanks as Kurama handed him a cup of coffee. "It's difficult to explain," he said, keeping his eyes on the coffee swirling before him, refusing to look at anyone else. "The funeral a week ago was for a very dear friend."
      "We're aware of the funeral and whom it was for," Kurama commented, suspicion in his voice. "So what does that funeral have to do with all five of you being here?" He looked around the table at each of them, Yoshiki, Toshi, Pata, Heath and Taiji.
      "I think you know," Heath almost growled, pushing his coffee cup out from before him. "Why ELSE would we all drag our butts here at this ridiculous time of the night?"
      "That's what I'm hoping you'll tell us," Yo-mawari said, matching tone, never faltering in his pose.
      "We already know who you are," Toshi commented quietly, sipping his coffee. "You're Kurama and Yo- mawari of the underworld, known as Shuuichi and Toyousei Minamino up here. And one of you is the caretaker of souls in the demon underworld."
      :How in the HELL did they find that out?: Yo-mawari's voice snarled into Kurama's consciousness like a viscous predator, Yo-mawari's presence at the table remaining clear and calm. The perfect poker face.
      :I don't know. They could just be pulling strings.:
      :Or not,: the other snarled back. :Those would have to be some major strings. You don't just walk up to someone and accuse them from coming from a different plane of existence.:
      Kurama chuckled softly, shaking his head slightly, more to clear his brother's thoughts from his mind. "Uh, could you run that by me again?" he laughed. "Did I miss something here?"
      "He's good at playing stupid," Taiji nodded over his cup of coffee, keeping careful eyes on Kurama as if he expected the red-haired man to sprout wings and become a devil. Kurama only frowned back at being caught.
      "I know this is the right place," Toshi said, glancing sideways to Yoshiki, trying not to be too obvious in his attempts to look at the man. His short, deep brown hair slipped out from behind his ear and toppled down his face, demanding immediate attention.
      "We need your help," Yoshiki spoke up, still staring at the coffee cup. "We want you to take us to our friend. We want you to take us to Hide."
      Kurama startled back from the table as his brother bolted to his feet beside him, both brothers conveying the same message in the two separate actions. "I think you should all leave now," Yo-mawari stressed trying to remain calm as he pointed to the door. "I don't know who you think we are."
      "We KNOW who you are," Heath said, curtly. "We know what you do, we know where you're all from."
      "Leave now!"
      "Please." Yoshiki said quietly above all, the gentle voice taking a commanding precedence over all other movement. He sat still staring at his coffee. "You don't understand. I need to see Hide. for reasons I can't explain, nor am I willing to explain just yet. And I know he's having problems."
      "I don't really care what you think you know. I want you all out now!"
      "Let them speak," a dim voice came from the loft above, the same dim and fiery voice that greeted Kurama every night in bed. All eyes, both human and non, turned to see Hiei perched on the banister like a cat, staring down at them all, his Jagan now hidden by a thin, white bandana. "The least you can do, Wari is hear them out. A human who knows about things outside their own dimension deserves a voice."
      Yoshiki watched the small figure quite curiously, paying careful attention to the blood-red eyes that seemed to look everywhere at once by no place at all. The little figure hopped from the banister to land a few stairs down, careful eyes trained on them all with each movement he made. "Tell me, how did you find out about Kurama and Yo-mawari?"
      "Hiei!" Kurama hissed, rising from the table.
      "Let them speak Kurama."

      Yo-mawari frowned deeply, slumped at the table beside his brother and his brother's master, grumbling to himself like a vexed child. Yoshiki placed his empty coffee cup gently on the table as his story ended about just how they came to find out about the land of the dead, the demon world and the spiritual world. He also explained the nature surrounding the death of the band's former guitarist and why it was so important for them to see him once more.
      And Yo-mawari was anything but pleased. "You have NO idea what you're asking," he snarled across the table to Yoshiki, his mind sparked open to his six living shuriken youkai that he knew resided just in the rafters of the room.
      "Then Hide DID end up in Yomatsu instead of Reikai?" Kurama asked his brother carefully, reaching out to tuck a strand of his brother's black hair back behind his ears. "How in the worlds did that happen?"
      "I really don't know. Normally, when humans die and their souls are to cross over, they go directly to Reikai, unless they possess large amounts of ki. Only then are they judged in Yomatsu before they go to the afterlife. But I know for a fact that Matsumoto-san does not possess any sort of energies that normal humans don't usually posses."
      "Are you sure? How do you know?" Yoshiki asked quietly, turning his head slightly to look up from the table, meeting eyes with both brothers simultaneously.
      "Because. I just know. It's my job to know these things. We youkai can feel and sense things that humans have no hope of ever sensing. even those so-called psychics."
      "How do you know?" Yoshiki emphasized again, growling lowly.
      "I. He. he's living with me until the gates back to Reikai open back up to Yomatsu tomorrow morning."
      A certain gleam popped into the five men's eyes at what Yo-mawari had said.
      "Take us there," Pata whispered, speaking his few words of the night.
      "You have no idea what you're asking! Human souls don't belong in Yomatsu. You can't go."
      "Why not?" he spoke again.
      "If you want to know. it's because your souls aren't safe there. Human souls don't have power against the forces of Yomatsu and the Straight Road. The lands will try to separate you from your souls because it won't know what to do with you. If you so much as daydream, your soul escapes your body. And then you'll have bigger problems than what you started with."
      "So, then we go long enough to talk to Hide and assure that he's going to be okay, and then come back. This isn't brain surgery," Heath said.
      Yo-mawari snorted and looked to his brother.
      Hiei was seated in Kurama's lap now, a living shadow as he nursed a small cup of sake. "Your call, 'Wari."
      "You have one hour. No more. In one hour, you all come back to the Ningenkai regardless of what happens. Got that?"
      Each member nodded once in agreement, hiding the fact that the warning went in one ear and out the other.
      "No one sleeps. Just nodding off for a few seconds could spell disaster. And also. I can't guarantee that Matsumoto-san will want to see you," Yo-mawari explained like a parent reprimanding his child. "I won't force him to see any of you against his will, and I won't let any of you violate his afterlife. Is that clear?"

© 1998-1999 WIRED: K&K Inc.

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