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A Million Miles From Home
Part 5

by: Korogi Nagisa

      Yoshiki more or less sleepwalked to the bathroom as nature called. He was so tired he could barely open his eyes to see his way though the dim hall.
      When he had finished, he slowly washed his hands, drying them lazily on his pants. Sleep bogged his mind so much that he forgot where he was as he stumbled out of the bathroom. In his mansion condo back in Japan, his room was directly at the end of the hall from the bathroom. He had made the groggy trek many times by night, and instincts took over. He plodded lazily down the hall to the last back room, opening the door. He stumbled through the moonlight and slipped into bed.
      Little did he realize that he had stumbled into Hide's room.
      Hide lay in the bed with his back to Yoshiki, green eyes staring widely at the wall as he felt the figure beside him, shuffling in the bed with him. He knew it was Yoshiki. At least, he had hoped it was the proper Yoshiki. He felt a hand reach over his body and tug at the blanket, the hand wandering over Hide's back and over to his chest, down his stomach to …
      Hide squeaked and sat straight up, causing Yoshiki to give a startled squeal and sit straight up next to him, instantly awake.
      "What the HELL are you doing in my room?" Yoshiki yelled… before he realized that he wasn't in his house… wasn't even in the room in which he was sleeping in Yo-mawari's place. The two stared and blinked back and forth at each other.
      Yoshiki blew air roughly out of his mouth, making an odd sound like a horse and flopped back on the bed, sending a shock wave through the old bed that nearly sent Hide sailing into orbit. "Ah shit… I'm not moving. I'm too tired to care." He raised a hand and rubbed an eye intently like a child just waking from a deep sleep.
      Hide watched him quietly a moment, watched the thirty-plus year-old man suddenly appear to be a 6 year old, roused from sleep by a loud bump in the night. He laughed silently to himself and lay back down, propping his body up on an elbow, watching. "Yo-chan…"
      The other mumbled and stopped rubbing his eyes, turning the brown gaze to his friend. "Nani?"
      "Why exactly did you come down here?"
      Yoshiki yawned and turned his head to look at Hide propped beside him, stray fingers of moonlight breaking the black and grey environment with shards of the brilliant pink of Hide's hair. "I dunno. I guess… you know, we never really talked after the break up," he said seriously. "I mean…" Yoshiki propped himself up on an elbow too to face Hide, mirroring his friend. "I heard you on the radio, saw you on TV, saw your albums plastered all over the record stores. But we never got to really talk like we used to. We used to just sit and talk like brothers for hours on end at times, and it just became common place."
      Again, Yoshiki rubbed an eye before he could continue, yawning widely. "Sure, there was the occasional birthday party or such… but then we never got to just sit down and talk again."
      "So… you came here to talk?" Hide raised an eyebrow.
      "Uh, sort of. Mostly…. I just wanted to see you again, Hide."
      The two just looked at each other for a handful of heartbeats, listening to the now deadly quiet night filter in to fill the space between them.
      "Yoshiki…" Hide whispered through the silence, unsure of really what to say or do next. "I guess… Well, I know how you feel now. I never really knew anything, even though I pretended that I did. I always acted like I did… I was always just THERE for you because I knew you'd respect me for just that and nothing else. I knew that no matter what happened, you would always forgive me for anything I did, anything I said."
      Hide scooted over in the bed closer to Yoshiki, reaching out with a stray hand to tuck a loose strand of Yoshiki's reddish hair behind his ear. "They let me see the funeral before I left."
      Yoshiki frowned a bit. "I don't understand."
      Hide took a deep breath before continuing, the air sputtering into his lungs. "I saw my calling… I saw you crying, saw you looking into my coffin. They let me watch my funeral, and they let me hear… I heard what you said at my burial. I knew everything then."
      Yoshiki, suddenly extremely interested, adjusted himself in place. "Go on."
      "Before then, I only saw you as our indestructible leader. After the death of your father, I thought you could handle everything… until I saw you at my funeral. And what you said. About me being like a brother to you. I knew what you meant. I had always felt a close relationship to you. I could tell you anything…" Hide trailed off and wiped a hand across his face absently, nonchalantly. "I never knew that you'd be so torn apart to see me leave."
      Yoshiki did not know what to say. The only thing he could do was lie there silently and watch as a single, solitary tear fell down Hide's cheek to loose itself in the faded sheets of the bed. He wanted to react, wanted to reassure his friend that everything was going to be okay. But for the life of him, he didn't know what to say.
      Hide sniffled and wiped his arm across his face again. "Well, say something!"
      He was on the verge of tears himself, still unsure of what to do, other than… "Hide…" he whispered, and stretched out to hug his friend closely, rolling over to lie almost completely on top of the other. "It was all a nightmare!" he found himself crying into Hide's ear, convulsions of sorrow filling his body. "Seeing you lying there in that coffin… and I couldn't wake you up, you just were lying there! I couldn't believe it! I was certain it was a nightmare. Hide, you CAN'T be dead!"
      At this point, Hide was almost on the verge of loosing control, holding his breath as he turned red to keep from crying. Yoshiki was on top of him now, arms wrapped around his neck and nearly squeezing him to the point of cracking his spine. He shook as he cried into Hide's hair, harder and harder with each passing moment, until Hide cracked and burst out sobbing.
      And together they cried in the darkness, holding each other as tight and as close as they could.

      The Toshi copy was stretched out on the floor of the main room staring at the ceiling. The lit lamps and candles were playing on the ceiling like a group of school children. "I'm bored," he declared out loud.
      Hiei grumbled to himself and continued to shine his katana.
      "You've said that more than a dozen times by now," Heath snarled across the room from him, his eyes beginning to droop from lack of sleep. It was nearing 6 am and the Yomatsu sun was peaking over the endless forest beyond, casting the room into orange shadows.
      Beside Heath, Taiji groaned heavily and flung his head back. "When the crap can we get going. At least if we're moving around I won't fall asleep."
      "I can sick Pata on you," Heath snorted, pointing to the bound Pata that sat beside the bound Yoshiki double.
      "Ha ha," Taiji snorted, pushing himself up from the couch to walk to the front window. Outside he could see the landscape, dotted by small glowing lights that Yo-mawari had told them all were the yosei.
      Toshi turned his head on the floor and watched Pata and Yoshiki briefly, adjusting his head as the sunlight through the window glinted off Yo-mawari's huge katana resting by the door. "Are those fairy thingies still out there?" he asked, turning his head to look over to Taiji.
      "I think so. I don't see what's so deadly about these damned little things. They look like little girls with wings."
      "That's exactly what they are," Hiei spoke quietly from his corner. "And they're the most deadly creature in Yomatsu. And they only attack men. So quiet down and live with waiting."
      "Guess he told you," Toshi chuckled.
      "Urusei!"
      "Oookay…" Toshi laughed and turned his head back around... to find only Pata alone and bound on the floor. Where was the other Yoshiki?
      Curious, Toshi pushed himself up on his elbows and looked again. Yo-mawari's long katana was gone, only the silver and black sheath left lying on the floor beside a pile of riling plant roots. "Uh, guys…"
      "Just sit down and be patient, Taiji."
      "No way, I'll fall asleep. And I have NO desire to see what my soul's like."
      "… guys…"
      "Sit down anyway!"
      "Make me!"
      "Hey guys!! I think you better…"
      "Do you wanna start something?"
      "All talk. Come on Heath, we all know you're just full of yourself!"
      "GUYS!!"
      Both Taiji and Heath turned from their quarreling and screamed. "WHAT!!"
      "He's gone!" Toshi pointed to the spot where the Yoshiki double should have been.
      "Aw shit."

      Yoshiki leaned back from Hide and wiped his face dry, reaching down to gently wipe the river beds of tears that stained the gentle face below him. Hide lay whimpering quietly, able to do nothing but watch Yoshiki above him, sniffling and trying to regain his composure.
      The other smiled and continued to wipe Hide's face dry. He had never seen Hide really cry before. The man had shed tears before, but never had cried, for all Yoshiki knew.
      "I'm glad you came," Hide whispered, trying to smile as he continued to sniffle. "I was upset before… gomen nasa…"
      Yoshiki put a finger to the other's lips and hushed him to silence, still smiling. "Daijoubu da, Hide-chan. You had no way of reacting to seeing me again. For all you knew, you were dead and a million miles from home, too far from anyone who really knew you."
      Hide managed a weak smile and reached a hand up, laying his palm flush with Yoshiki's cheek. He rubbed his thumb along Yoshiki's cheekbone. "I thought that I would be alone forever."
      "You'll never be alone, Hide," the other whispered.
      "I know that now."
      "Hide…" Yoshiki frowned slightly and leaned down slightly, closing the distance between them to a few inched. "I… um…"
      Hide's hand urged him down. "I know."
      Closer, their noses began to draw together, Hide smiling ever so slightly…
      Suddenly, Hide's unnatural green eyes widened, nearly doubling in size. "YOSHIKI!!"
      Hide nearly tossed Yoshiki off of him in one direction, rolling in the opposite direction moments before the long blade of Yo-mawari's katana sliced the bed cleanly in two, sending pillow fluff and bread springs in all directions.
      Yoshiki hit the floor roughly, rolling a few times before he managed to regain his footing.
      His double loomed over him, the long katana held back over his head, ready to strike.

      As a whole, Toshi, Taiji, and Heath sat straight up in the front parlor.
      They all heard Hide's yell simultaneously, each man to their feet as Hiei's residual image flashed by them for the back bedroom.
      "I think we found Yoshiki," Toshi pointed out, receiving a shove from Heath as he rushed by.

      Yoshiki rolled as the katana impacted the floor sending splinters of wood flying in every direction around him. Hide scampered around the bed to Yoshiki's side, tugging the man to his feet before the katana flew again, just clipping his cheek. A deep gash laid into Yoshiki's cheek to begin bleeding immediately. "Gods, Yoshiki, are you okay?" Hide almost yelled, reeling Yoshiki through the room.
      The katana flew again, causing the two to separate. And the viscous double caught a hold of Hide again.
      The door to the room burst open, spilling the remainder of the occupants in minus the original Toshi and both Patas who were still passed out on the couch and bound to the main room floor.
      "Here we are again," the other Yoshiki laughed, bringing the razor sharp blade up to Hide's throat. The original Yoshiki growled, but faltered back a moment. As he felt his cheek bleeding, he noticed an identical gash through his double's cheek.
      "That's it," he whispered to himself, running a hand lightly across the gouge on his cheek, digging a fingernail into the wound. He watched as the other cringed and wiped his wounded cheek across the shoulder of his shirt, leaving a crimson stain across the while fabric.
      Yoshiki grabbed Heath and shoved his hand into the front pocket of Heath's leather pants, fingers searching trough the pockets contents quickly.
      "What the.. Yoshiki you PERVERT!" Heath squealed as Yoshiki drew back with a pocketknife, Heath stumbling back into Taiji.
      "I'm ending this fiasco here and now," he said, popping open the knife.
      "What the hell are you doing, Yoshiki," Hide snarled back at him, Yoshiki's double jerking back on his hair roughly.
      Yoshiki sank to the floor, laying his arm on the old wood below. He raise the knife… "I'm ending this ..."
      "Yoshiki… don't you dare!!!"
      The knife flew… and the other Yoshiki reeled back in pain, dropping the katana to the floor and stumbling backwards across the room. His arm lay gouged open as he tumbled into one half of the bed, falling over it and backwards onto the floor.
      Hide almost crawled across the floor in his attempts to get to the original Yoshiki. His friend was slumped over his arm on the floor, a steady pool of blood beginning to trickle from the new wound, the pocket knife thrust completely through Yoshiki's arm to jab itself into the wood floor underneath. "Idiot.. idiot," Hide snarled as he pushed him back, reaching down to yank the knife out of Yoshiki's arm. The action sent rivets of pain through Yoshiki, nearly taking his consciousness.
      Kurama sank to the floor beside Yoshiki and took the arm into his hands, calling up his you-ki to begin working on the wound. Yoshiki was incoherent as Hide supported him, glazed brown eyes closing shut. He was too tired to do much to his own aid.
      "This is getting ridiculous," Yo-mawari cursed. "Yosei or not, we have to get to Reikai before someone ends up dying down here."
      "Why in the HELL could we not have left before things came to this?" Taiji snarled back to the WatchMan, bending down by Yoshiki to smooth back the short hair. Hide held Yoshiki tightly as the other drifted out of consciousness, his head slumping back to rest on Hide's chest.
      "Why is this happening," Hide whispered to Taiji, the large, green eyes searching frantically.
      "We'll make things better, Hide, I promise," Taiji nodded, smoothing another hand over Yoshiki's forehead. "This is ridiculous. We're all living personal nightmares whether we want to believe it or not."
      "Just get Yoshiki out of here, Tai-kun" Hide whispered.
      "I will."
      Taiji rose slowly from beside Hide, rounding around Kurama who continued to work on the wounded arm. "You best get us all to this Reikai place quickly, or I for one will become a major problem to the both of you," he pointed to Yo-mawari and Hiei.
      "You have no chance against either one of us," Hiei snarled back.
      "Watch me, kid." Taiji reached over and nabbed Toshi by the shirtsleeve. Next to Pata, Toshi was the only other person who could even attempt to carry Yoshiki for any distance. The double of Toshi seemed to know what Taiji was asking without a single word having to be said. Toshi carefully bent down and allowed Taiji and Hide to hoist Yoshiki up on his back like he had often carried the man as a comedy routine during their concerts.
      "It's time to leave," Taiji told Yo-mawari, not caring if he agreed or not. The other Yoshiki had already been retrieved and bound by the Makai plants, Yo-mawari dragging the man from behind the bed.
      "We're leaving then."

      Toshi stumbled along the dirt road with Yoshiki on his back, Taiji beside him lending a hand as best as he could. Across from Taiji, Hide walked, keeping a close eye on Yoshiki as he still lay sleeping, hunched over Toshi's shoulder.
      "How long until we get there?" Heath complained, keeping an eye on the doubles of Yoshiki and Pata that trudged along in front of him.
      "The lands decide that. They'll determine when it's time for us to reach Reikai."
      "What the crap does that mean?" the other Toshi frowned. "A road is a road."
      "Distance is obsolete in Yomatsu. It's simply a road and forest that connects the dimensions of Reikai, Ningenkai, Makai, Meikai and Yomi no Kuni."
      "Huh?"
      "In a sence, Yomatsu is like an elevator, the different worlds like separate floors. You can get to Makai and Reikai through the Ningenkai… but there's no way to get to the afterlives without traveling the Yomatsu Hara-Sakai. Without traveling the Straight Road to Hades."
      Taiji shook his head. "That makes no sense whatsoever. See that tree over there," he pointed to a tree about 10 meters down the road. "There is a definite distance to that tree there. About 8 meters, I say."
      "Okay," Yo-mawari allowed. "Keep your eye on that tree and tell me when we reach it."
      Taiji did just that. He kept a close eye on the tree… but the tree never drew closer. Other trees passed them as they walked, but Taiji's target tree never moved. "What the…"
      "If you anticipate some distance coming, it will never come in Yomatsu. You simply travel until the lands bring you someplace. If it was possible, I'd have us all close our eyes so we couldn't gague distance. We'd reach Reikai a lot faster."
      The shuriken on Yo-mawari's shoulders suddenly took off into the trees, the sound of a small brawl taking up the air. It was enough to turn all attention to the trees as the commotion went on.
      "What's goin on?" Pata asked drowsily, rubbing his face.
      "Just watch your backs. The yosei are still out. Usually they
go back to their domain at daybreak. If we run into a pack as they're flying back, we could be in for it."
      "You're supposed to be putting us at ease," Toshi grunted, adjusting Yoshiki on his back. "Man, he's getting heavy."
      "Then you're in luck," Yo-mawari said, pointing over the hill they were rounding.
      All eyes turned to see the spires of a tall gate looming, rising up over the hill. "We've reached the gates."
      A few of the shuriken flew back through the trees to land on Yo-mawari's shoulder. "Go call Botan-san, if you will," he told a few of them before they flew off.
      The gates loomed as they rounded over the hill. Judging as best as they could, the gates had to be at lest ten stories tall, glimmering in the morning Yomatsu sun as brilliant gold.

      "Koenma-sama!" Botan called as she entered into the large, spacious office, tossing her long, blue pony tail over her shoulder. She dissipated the oar she normal rode upon and straightened the lines of her pink kimono. "Koenma-sama? Are you busy?"
      "Ah, Botan!" a shrill, childish voice popped up, Botan dropping her wild pink eyes to see a small toddler waddle to her feet. "You're just in time."
      "In time for what, Koenma-sama?"
      Koemna threw a chubby thumb over his shoulder to a desk that was the only piece of furniture in the large, spacious office. And atop that desk was a huge stack of manila folders, leaning like the Tower of Piza. "Jorugu's sick for the day and there's been a staff meeting in the offices. I need someone to take those to Filing for me." He grinned widely.
      Botan sweat-dropped and tried to think up a quick solution. "Uh, Koenma-sama… I, uh…"
      A shrill wind whizzed through the office, swirling to settle into three of the tiny shurikens that found their way to the top of Koenma's big hat. The toddler-ruler snorted up to the shuriken. "Nani… Yo-mawari's shuriken."
      Koenma and Botan locked eyes instantly. " The lost soul Yo-mawari-san found!" Botan piped, stumbling forward. The shuriken made the equivalent of a three-man wave.
      "Botan, send a transport!"
      "Hai!"

      Koenma sat at his desk, having moved all the paperwork to the floor for the time being. Before him on the desk, he had a single folder opened. The kanji on the file tab read "Matsumoto Hideto" in big, block characters. He knew what he expected, and he knew the basic procedures that needed to be fulfilled to cross this soul over.
      He thought he had this all down to a single, programmed decision… until Botan lead eight new people into the large office.
      He stood to his feet immediately on the chair, his height really unaffected by the change. "Botan. Who are all these people?"
      "Friends," Taiji was quick to answer, helping Hide take Yoshiki off of Toshi's shoulders.
      "Ah, thank GOD!" Toshi exhaled, stretching out his back. "He is NOT light, you know. Next time, Taiji, YOU'RE carrying him!"
      "Ha ha. Toshi, you're other self is a real jerk sometimes, you know that?"
      "Thanks," both Toshi's rang in unison.
      "Whoo hoo!" the copy cheered. "Toshi-chan, we're in stereo now! Sing something for us!"
      Heath reached forward and smacked both Toshi's on the head. "Do and face the consequences."
      "What IS this!" Koenma demanded. "Which one of you is Matsumoto-san?" he tried to raise his voice, succeeding only in squeaking.
      Hide gently lead Yoshiki to the floor and stepped forward. "Boku wa Matsumoto Hideto desu."
      "And the rest of you?" Koenma addressed each of the other members with a large, brown eye.
      "Friends," Hide answered. "They came to see me off… but there's been a problem."
      "I'll say so!" Koenma snorted, scampering up to sit atop his desk. "Yo-mawari. What happened?"
      "It's a long story, Koenma-sama. But three of them have had their souls separated from their physical bodies in Yomatsu. Can you fix things?"
      "I can… but my father will be furious if he finds out, you know that? He declared Matsumoto a lost soul the instant he found out that he had accidentally crossed into Yomatsu. My father still doesn't believe in you or your powers. Nor does he trust you and your lands."
      "Hai, I understand," Yo-mawari bowed. "As soon as this matter is dealt with, I will return to my lands."
      "Good. We can get around my father's knowledge and reunite the bodies with their souls. It's a simple matter of you passing through the gates of judgment with your souls and passing out again."

      Koenma and Botan more or less smuggled the group through the main palace. Since most of the staff was in a meeting, that was a relatively easy task which brought them all to the Gates of Judgement soon. They were a tall, golden set of gates, the sparking waters of the Sanzu no Kawa, the River Styx, flowing about a mile beyond a long, white corridor.
      "Each pair must pass through to be reunited," Koenma was explaining. "Matsumoto-san, I've already filled and filed your paperwork, so you will need to cross over at this time also. Botan will guide you past the gates once you've crossed and take you to your afterlife.
      Hide nodded, watching as Kurama and Yo-mawari had pooled together, bringing Yoshiki back to consciousness. He was mentally and physically exhausted, barely able to stand on his own as he raised his head and managed a half smile to Hide.
      "One thing though… each pair has to pass through of their own will, or they'll wander the living worlds as restless ghosts. But being in Reikai, the effects the Yomatsu pull has been fading." Koenma nodded once in the direction of the copies of Pata and Yoshiki that were still bound in living Makai plants. They seemed more calm, and Pata wasn't glaring everyone down.
      "I'll go first," both Toshi's volunteered at once."
      "Okay then. Just step through the gates," Koenma motioned down the long, white hall.
      The Toshi's looked at each other, almost indistinguishable from one another, and smiled. They nodded once to each other and walked through the gate. A brilliant bluish white light exploded as they crossed the plane, the light dissipating to revile only one Toshi as he continued down the corridor. In pairs, it was relatively easy to send the other two sets through, the copies being much more cooperative as their souls adjusted to the Reikai pull of the good sides of their souls. And last through the gate, Hide passed with Botan. Goodbyes were all said.. all except Yoshiki's.
      Toshi tugged on the sleeve of Pata's Jack Daniels T-Shirt. "Come on, I think those two need to talk."
      "Hai."
      They all left, leaving Yoshiki and Hide with Botan. Respectfully, Botan began down the hall to wait by the Sanzu no Kawa.
      "Well, I guess this is it," Yoshiki signed, flexing his arm. It held a terrible looking scar from the self- inflicted wound.
      "You're not saying goodbye.. I'm not letting you," Hide said straightly. "That's not what this is about."
      "But… this IS goodbye, Hide. I'm never going to see you again!"
      "That's not true! I… Yoshiki… I'll always be with you, you just won't know it all the time."
      Yoshiki chuckled and reached out, drawing Hide in to hug him tightly, the pain and stiffness in his arm momentarily forgotten. Slowly, he drew back and took Hide's face in his hands and looked back at him. Hide's eyes had faded from the unnatural green that they were in Yomatsu back to the clever, wild brown that they normally were. "Hide-chan… " Yoshiki smiled quietly. "Ai shiteru," and he moved forward, laying a light kiss on Hide's lips, letting his mouth linger there for a few moments before he drew back.
      "Boku mo," Hide winked back, lightly smacking Yoshiki on the cheek in a playful grin. "You need to get back to earth now… back to the Ningenkai. Yoshiki. I want you to tell the others something. You all can't be strangers anymore. We were once a family… we all can BE a family again. I want you all to be together again. I don't think Toshi will ever be the same again… he's no longer the one keeping you all apart."
      "You want me to start the band up again?"
      "Not necessarily. Just bring everyone back together. Stop being strangers. Stop ignoring everyone. If that means reuniting the band, then so be it. But you all have to be a family again. Do you understand, Yo- chan?" Hide said, laying his hands on Yoshiki's shoulders, shaking him slightly. "Do you understand!?"
      "Wakatta! Wakatta!" Yoshiki chuckled, pushing back slightly. "But… things will never be the same without having you to talk to."
      "You'll move on, then. Talk with some of the others. Adapt, Yoshiki! You have to move on. It'll be hard… but you have to do it to survive." Hide reached up to his ear and took his earring out, the silver loop which held a silver skull dangling lightly on it. He took Yoshiki's hand and laid it in there. "You'll be just fine, Yoshiki. Go home, settle down. Find yourself a woman! It can certainly do you a world of good. Don't underestimate how good a caring woman can make you feel. You'll find her."
      Hide closed Yoshiki's hand with his own. "Don't forget me."
      "I could never forget you," Yoshiki whispered, reaching out to hug Hide again.
      Hide hugged him back until they broke and smiled widely. And without another word, he turned and walked down the cooridor.

      Back on earth, the guys all get together again and discuss possibly pooling efforts to make a band up for the 2000 concerts in Tokyo.

      They host the Tokyo Grand Prix together again with hide's old band Spread Beaver.

      Yoshiki gets his ear pierced and wears Hide's earring. He also found a plain but very beautiful woman and is planning on marrying her soon. He still has the scar from the knife.

© 1998-1999 WIRED: K&K Inc

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