Make your own free website on Tripod.com
AWAKEN THE DAWN

**Standard disclaimers apply**

This installment may contain slight yaoi implications.

CHAPTER 1:

   It was a warm noon in the Ningenkai despite the cooling winds that
threatened to shill the city and bring on the first frost of the autumn
season.  The sun high overhead seemed to be doing it's fair share,
keeping a warming blanket tucked invisibly over the large city and its
people.  Things seemed so calm and peaceful today, the lunch hour
rush starting to spark up in the crowded streets that bustled about the
perimeters of the park.
   Today, a small squirrel bounced about gently gathering nuts in a
secluded grove of the Shinjuku park, chattering to himself quietly as he
stuffed his pouches full of bread crumbs and nuts.  He was a busy little
thing this morning, bushy tail flicking back and forth rhythmically as he
went to work, gathering his supply for the winter months.  The longer,
grey furs of his little tail caught the soft wind, bending them over to
flatten his tail out much in the likeness of a beavers tail.  The feeling
didn't seem to agree with the small rodent, chattering more heavily now
and flicking the tail about him to shake off the wind.
   Overhead, the sun was bright and warm, despite the cooling wind
that was bringing the onslaught of autumn into the city.  Temperatures
were cooling, even going to the point as to start snowing in the
mountains beyond the city.  Tokyo was definitely a sight in winter... it
was a sight in any season, for that matter.  Things always seemed so
peaceful and secluded, the inhabitance almost forgetting the occurrence
no more than a few months ago.
  That was when the  Tsukiji fishmarket blew up, shattering into a
cratered hole in the central of the market district.  Authorities had never
been able to explain the sudden hole: no explosive debris, no odd
fragmentation paths, no earthquakes, no nothing!  Just the big hole.  In
fact, before the market blew, that particular area of town had been
evacuated in a sudden mad rush due to an odd, anonymous call from a
payphone just 100 meters from the blast sight.
   No matter, the winters in Tokyo would soon come and clear that
unpleasant incident from the minds of the people.  None of this stuff
bothered the squirrel who only cared about packing his home for the
winter.  As long as his park was intact when spring came, he could care
less about what happened around him.
   He shook his tail violently and went back to his work, listening to the
sounds around him : car horns, people talking, the rustle of leaves... but
there was something else, some sound that didn't quite fit in amongst
the other usual Tokyo sounds.
     The little squirrel shoved an acorn into his mouth, sitting up on his
haunches to sniff the air.  That sound was definitely getting louder...
like the swirl of a whirlpool... coming right fore him...
   Suddenly, a shrill wine brought a bright yellow light blazing into view
through the trunk of a tree, seconds before two silver figures fell
through it to land roughly in the cool grass inches from the squirrel's
little furry face.   He bolted out of instinct, dashing through the chin-
high grass to climb a neighboring tree.  He scurried  around the trunk a
few times to hang upside-down on the bark, tail flicking nervously as he
watched the two new figures.  They definitely were not human... they
had big pink ears... dogs?  Foxes?  Chattering through a full mouth of
food, the little rodent threw off a line of chittering curses before he
turned to scamper up the tree trunk to safety.
   One of the figures was Youko Kurama, red hair bleeding out from his
youko body as the liveliness of the Ningenkai brought him to the
realization of where he was.  They had made it safely despite the burst
of fear and pain he had felt on the journey through the portal.  It was a
feeling he wished to never feel again, the near-contact that would have
bridged both the youko's minds would have told him more.. that is, if
he WANTED to know more!
    Minamino Shuuichi ran a hand over his chest as he sat back on the
balls of his feet, checking to make sure he was intact and unharmed. 
He felt strange, like he was missing some key clue here, patting the
now deep pink school uniform he found himself in.  He was fine, so
who... "Gods!  'Wari-kun!!"
   Kurama whirled on his knees to the youko figure laying behind him,
streaks of sickening crimson bordering the shredded white cotton at his
back.  The flesh on his back lay split open, but the depth and degree of
the damage was hidden by the mass of blood that soaked through.  He
looked like he had been in a failed attempt at being gutted from the
wrong side, lateral slash marks following his ribs from one side to the
other.
   Carefully, Kurama reached over with a rising panic, feeling through
the air with his fingers until they came to the stained white cotton robe. 
It was warm and wet with his brothers blood, nearly dropping Kurama's
heart into his feet.  Oh gods, he couldn't loose Yo-mawari!  Kurama
swallowed hard, feeling the all-too familiar feel of viscous blood on the
tips of his fingers.  He parted through one of the shreds of fine fabric
with expert care, pressing a finger to one of the wounds.  The body
jerked.
   "Damn, that was close," the youko groaned beneath him, more than
startling Kurama to jerk his hand back.  Anxiously and unmoving, he
watched Yo-mawari squirm, shifting in the grass he laid face-down in,
pushing himself up on his hands.  As he did, his silver hair and eyes
grayed and burst out in a devouring black to return him to his human
body, the white cotton robe fading to the usual black Chinese high-
collar he found himself most comfortable in.  Tensions dropped and the
bounding, sinking feeling in Kurama's chest began to subside
   "'Wari-kun, are you okay?" Kurama whispered breathlessly, reaching
forward with bloody fingers to help his brother to sit up.  The body
seemed oddly limp for only suffering minor wounds such as the
scratches... unless.  "Have you been poisoned!?" Kurama almost
screamed, wrapping his finger about Yo-mawari's shoulders and
drawing him to sit up.  There was frustration in those green eyes, and a
deep-seeded regret that he hadn't been fast enough to save his brother
from whatever now ailed him.
   Yo-mawari raised black eyes, wincing as he sat to his knees on his
own power, reading Kurama's expression like an open book.  He knew
all too well that Kurama was mentally kicking himself right now for
what just happened.  Truth was, Yo-mawari really wasn't in all that
much pain; he'd gotten worse injuries just romping with Kurama around
the apartment.  "I'll be fine, that thing just missed shredding me to
pieces back there!  No big deal" he laughed, reaching out to shove his
twin in the chest.
   Kurama nearly fell flatly back, catching himself on his hands only to
rebound swiftly.  His fingers moved quickly to grip tightly at the black
fabric covering the other's shoulders, staring off into the black depths of
Yo-mawari's onyx-black eyes.  His own green eyes desperately fought
through his emotions, darting back and forth over the soft face, always
backtracking to the black gaze, seeming to calm and comfort him in his
panic.  "Just what the hell was that thing, 'Wari-kun," Kurama
whispered, raising a hand to cup one of his brother's cheeks.  " 'Wari-
kun..."
   "I don't know, I've never seen anything like it before, either in
Yomatsu or the Makai."  He pause to take a careful breath, feeling
Kurama rub a thumb over his cheek to leave a stained, red trail.  "I
don't what that was, and I'm not even sure if sending a team down with
me is worth the lives that could be lost."
   "Than don't go back!" Kurama screamed, shaking his brother.  "If no
one can defeat that thing then don't go back!  You have a home in the
Ningenkai... and one in the Makai too, you don't need to go back, not if
you're only going to DIE!"
  "Kurama..." Yo-mawari began to protest.
  "No, don't try to give me your justifications, kyoudai!  Let's just
forget about it, okay?  As far as everyone's concerned, that monster did
not ever exist, ok?  We don't need to lead a team back to Yomatsu just
to die!  It's not worth it..."
   "Will you listen to yourself, Kurama!"  Yo-mawari said firmly,
grabbing his brother by the face and giving him a firm shake.  The
action seemed to jostle Kurama a bit, knocking his senses for a loop. 
He softness of his face seemed to die, replaced as his forehead wrinkled
and Kurama sniffed back his emotions.
   "I can't loose you, 'Wari.  You and 'Kaasan are the only true family I
have left."
   "Don't say that," Yo-mawari soothed, running a hand to smooth back
the red locks from in front of Kurama's eyes.  The orbs shook and
sparkled, bio-luminescent almost, full of tears that threatened to spill
out down his face at the slightest indication of the unsettling news.
  Yo-mawari sighed and reached forward, bundling Kurama  up to him,
taking him into a deep embrace.  Instantly, he felt Kurama sag his
weight and begin to cry, burying his face into the black silk of the tight
shirt.   He tried to pull Kurama closer until the healing slashes on his
back pulled and threatened to rip wide open before properly sealed,
Kurama's long arms already wound over them.  Instead, he could only
hold his brother loosely and rock him like a child, petting back the long
red silk of his hair.  
   "I can't loose you, not now, 'Wari.... not ever."
   "Don't be such a doom-sayer," He whispered back, kissing the side of
Kurama's head as he continued to rock the redhead.  On his shoulder,
he could feel the hot, wet tears soaking through to his skin, almost
burning with the emotion that was behind them, running and spilling off
the flesh to roll down his chest.  "You will always have a family,
Kurama.  Moreover, it should be ME worrying about YOU and not the
other way around.  You have Meijin-san now to mind after, and
keeping up with him is a chore in itself.  He loves you more than the
world, both you and the kit.  They're your new family.  Kurama, I will
always be with you no mater whether I live or die, but I can't promise
you what Hiei has given you.
   "Believe me, when oba-san died, I felt the same way you do now, but
I fought to live on, to scoff at the idiots who burned my home and
killed our aunt.  I thought I was alone then.. and I WAS alone for
nearly 300 years.  Until I found you again."
   Kurama shifted forward, his sobbing dying off some to leave a
lingering jerk and shudder to his shoulders, a left-over effect.  The last
time the two sat like this was when Kurama's nightmares over his old
partner had returned to torture every hour his eyes shut.  Yo-mawari
remembered how small and fragile Kurama had seemed then, clutching
both to him and Hiei who laid cradled between them like an out-of-
place rag doll.  That night had really opened his eyes to how twisted
and confused his twin's life had been, not as straight and even as his
own had been.
  And again, Kurama sat like a fragile china doll in his arms, burying his
face down further into the neck of Yo-mawari's black-silk shirt as if he
could hide from everything there.
  "Kurama?"
  "Hmm?"
  "I have to.  I have to fight for the only thing that has put a true
meaning behind obasan's death.  I have to fight for Yomatsu."
  " 'Wari..."
  "You can't talk me out of it.  If some terrible creature was threatening
the Ningenkai, you'd do the same."
   "But that.. that THING isn't threatening Yomatsu, it's only
threatening you!  Can't you just.. just..."  
   "Give up?  Kurama, you don't understand.  I'm bound to my lands,
not by force but by obligation.  By my life"  Yo-mawari paused to take
another deep breath, Kurama's grip tightening around him again. 
"Kurama, I have to go.  I just can't leave things like this and you know
that."
   "It's not fair," Kurama sniffed, taking in a labored, broken breath. 
"Why you?  Why not some other person.  Not you, not now."
   Yo-mawari grumbled and pulled away, pushing at his brothers
shoulders to displaying him out before his black eyes.  "We can sit and
argue through this all day.  In the mean time, that monster is still loose
in Yomatsu.  There's no telling what he plans to do."  Commandingly,
Yo-mawari hauled Kurama to his feet, adjusting the other's shirt and
wiping his face dry.  "You go home and tell Meijin-san... I'm going to
get Yusuke-san and Kuwabara-san."
  "But..."
  "AH!  No excuses, kyoudai-kun!  Just go!"

    Yusuke yawned widely up on the roof commons area of his new
highschool, stretching an arm to drape absently over Keiko's shoulder
beside him.  It was an action he barely noticed himself until Botan
giggled quaintly to herself in that bubble-headed chuckle of hers, and
something moved in close to his side.  Yusuke smiled internally even
though his still smirked on the outside, gently twitching his fingers to
let Keiko know the act had been intentional.  Even if it wasn't.
   Beside him, Kuwabara Kazuma troddled along with heavy feet, hands
shoved down in his pockets.  He wore that usual dashing grin of his,
blowing the few rebellious strands of bright orange hair from his
forehead. It was one of their daily rounds of the school the two best
friends upholding their titles as the best fighters around. "Urameshi. 
Oi, why don't we skip out on this and get some decent food.  I'm
starving."
   "Best thing I've heard all day," the other snorted.
   "Forget it!"  Keiko chimed in, hugging her biology book firmly to her
chest.  She swished her short, brown hair about, watching strands float
into the path of her eyes.  "You're staying put, Yusuke-kun."
   "Geeze,  you're just like 'baasan... overbearing, stubborn and rude! 
I'm going and there ain't no one who can stop me.  This school business
is crap!"
   "Make one move Yusuke..."
   "Or what!" Yusuke laughed back to his girlfriend, sticking his tongue
out.  Soon to follow, Urameshi Yusuke began acting like a
testosterone-driven moron, lashing his tongue out at his made various
odd faces.  Kuwabara seemed immune, unwavering from his walk
beside his flailing companion.  Botan, however, tugging along that
ridiculously heavy black briefcase, frazzled at the sight, shaking her
head at the fact she was assigned to be the assistant to such a
delinquent. 
   Yusuke stumbled through his last act, quieting from his show to
reached over and poked Keiko's biology book with a snort.  "You can't
stop me.  Come on, Kuwabara."
   "Yusuke!!  I'm warning you!"  Keiko began to seeth, Botan just
innocently standing on the sidelines, rocking back and forth on her feet.
   "Ah, quiet down and go grow a figure.  I'm bored with school."
  "YUSUKE NO BAKA!!!"  
  SMASH!!!
  Kuwabara blinked and looked up from his walking, a thick cloud of
dust replacing the spot where his friend used to stand.  Kuwabara
snorted, thin eyes following down to where the figure of Yusuke lay
sprawled on the concrete, the biology book desperately trying to make
itself a permanent feature on his face.  "Oi, Urameshi.  You coming or
what?"
   Yusuke had no time to answer as a sudden shriek of school girls
followed up to the commons.
   "Minamino-kun!  Wait up!"
   "Minamino-kun, have you died your hair?
   "Minamino-kun...."
   "Minamino-kun... Minamino-kun... Minamino-kun...."
   Kuwabara, Keiko and Botan all huddled to see Yo-mawari burst from
a crowd of curious girls, growling under his breath as he removed his
arms from their grasp only to have more glomp onto him.  It was like a
vicious mob jabbering on about science tests and studying for exams...
and other stuff the WatchMan couldn't hope to make heads nor tails of
right now.  All he knew was that he was being swarmed upon!
   "Uh, isn't that Yo-mawari?" Botan stated the obvious, receiving a
grumble from Kuwabara in return.  She pointed a slim finger across the
commons area.
   Kuwabara shuffled forward, pulling himself through the mob, parting
through the sea of shoujo to pluck out the tall black head of hair.  "Yo-
ma-san, what are you doing here?"  He looked him over good.  Yo-
mawari had a red smear over his cheek.. blood? and he seemed to be in
pain as the girls tugged and swooned at his feet, only frazzling and
annoying the tall figure.
   Yo-mawari scooted past, jerking his arms from the little fingers,
fleeing the mob of girls as Yusuke recovered with a rising bump on his
noggin.  The very sight of him growling and glaring as he made it to his
feet stopped the shoujo-mob dead in its tracks.  Yusuke's reputation
followed him everywhere he went, always proving useful at the right
times; this time, aiding to help the WatchMan to make his escape.
  Yusuke rubbed his head and threw a sideways glare to Keiko before 
turning his attention back to Yo-mawari.  "Yeah, what the hell ARE
you doing here?  You're gonna have half the female population of
Tokyo calling up Kurama on the phone tonight.  What's up?"
   Yo-mawari flailed for a moment, trying to find a spot to begin.  Every
thought mingled with every other thought, just blurring into one big
mess in his mind.  He faltered at every beginning, just struggling to get
out a decent string of words that could explain the situation.
   Yusuke frowned and reached forward,  taking a hold of his shoulder
firmly.  "Why don't you just start from the beginning.  Slowly."

   "Hiei!!  Hiei, are you home!!" Kurama screamed, throwing open the
front door to the apartment.  Like a run away wall, the door swung in
it's oak arc, smashing into that chair that always sat nestled so snugly
by the front entry, sending it crashing over onto whatever unfortunate
object or thing was in its way: Kiroshu's new cat, Claws.
   The black and white Persian howled furiously and bolted in a puff of
fluffed hair, the sharp claws scrapping across the wooden floor as it
screamed across the apartment to dash up the stairs to the loft.
   Hiei growled one of his low and menacing growls from somewhere
within the family room, and hung his head over the arm of the large
reclining chair to see the human figure that had burst into the apartment
in a blaze of red hair.  "Shh," he hissed coarsely, glaring down Kurama
as the young man hopped about, taking his shoes off to fling them to a
corner of the entry way.  The youkai watched carefully, squinting one
eye at the nervous and bumbling facade that had overtaken the calm
and collected nature Kurama almost always had over himself.
    In great leaps and bounds, Kurama was across the room, having
leapt over the low table and the couch in single strides, taking cushions
and  lamps with him in the process.  The redhead gracefully flew
through the air, tossing a blanket to one side before  he crashed to his
knees at the foot of Hiei's chair, panicked and out of breath.
  "Gods, Kurama," Hiei whispered harshly, reprimanding the fox with
every syllable.  "Could you possibly be any louder!"
   Kurama opened his mouth to begin the long string of words that filled
his mind... until a small, sleeping figure caught his eye and wordlessly
ordered silence from him.  It could only have been Kiroshu curled there
on Hiei's stomach, a thumb stuck up in his little mouth for him to suck
on.  But yet, it wasn't Kiroshu.
   Instead, the figure looked... human!  The large, alert youko ears were
gone from sight as Kurama leaned in over Hiei's chest to closely inspect
the sleeping figure.  Deep red hair lay in short, well kept spikes, wild
streaks of black fire blazing through it out to the ends, tipping each
deep red spike in a cone of the black.  The young boy vaguely
resembled the little youko kit who now inhabited the house along with
them, encompassed in a deep silent sleep upon one of his surrogate
father's chest.
   Kurama raised confused eyes to the vermillion glare of the youkai
who lounged in the chair, watching Hiei closely as the youkai ran a
hand over the young boys back.  "He learned it from 'Wari," the deep
voice whispered almost inaudible, the harsh tones that were always
present in the words ringing through much clearer now.  Hiei had
become incredibly protective of the little kit, adjusting and becoming
more accustomed to the parental role than Kurama had been able to.  It
was almost like Hiei was born a natural father, the way he could so
easily take to his roles when Kiroshu was around.  After all, it was Hiei
who was practically raising him now, what with Yo-mawari constantly
away in either Yomatsu or the Makai, and Kurama off at work.
   "Nani?  Learned what!"  Kurama finally whispered, watching the
human toddler shift and nuzzle its little face further into the large bulky
black cloak that encircled Hiei's compact body.  He seemed  a bit larger
than the youko body, about the size of a human 2 year old.
   "Learned how to take human shape.  You miss alot when you're at
work, fox."
   Kurama fumbled for words, still lowering his head to stare at the
intriguing new figure that napped on his lover's chest.  Kurama rested
an ear to Hiei's thickly-covered chest, watching the sweet angelic face
of Kiroshu, the little figure absently jerking to suck at his thumb in
sporadic intervals in his dreaming.
   "So," Hiei whispered, running another stroke over Kiroshu's back,
the movement so strongly protective that it even made Kurama flinch
back slightly in fear of getting ripped to shreds if he dared touch the
toddler.  "What brings you home so soon and so loudly?  You burst in
here as if you were being chased down by half the Makai.  Dou-ko shita
no desu ka, Kurama."  The red glare caught him cold.
   Kurama volleyed glances back and forth between the human toddler
and Hiei for a number of heartbeats, each time coming back to that cold
stare as if it was a lifeline, an anchor to keep him from drowning alive. 
How would he get this out?  How ever could he explain...  "Hiei, you
have to talk to him, reason with him before he kills himself!  Or GETS
himself killed!!"
   "Keep it down!"  Hiei growled lowly, frowning at the redhead.  Little
Kiroshu shifted and cooed in his sleep, digging a hand under the bulky
folds of Hiei's cloak.  "It took me three hours to get Kiro to take a
nap... now hush it, fox."
   "Hiei!" Kurama whispered through clenched teeth, reaching forward
to cup a hand over one of the youkai's soft cheeks.  " 'Wari-kun!  It's
'Wari-kun, he's going to get himself killed!!"
   Hiei frowned and turned his crimson glare fully to Kurama, drawing
all his attention out to the green eyes that sat panicked before him.  It
was an expression unlike any he had ever seen before on that perfect
face, so alien and disrespectful.  If it had been any other man....  "What
do you mean, Kurama  What's going on?"
   "It's this whole business with Yomatsu.  Some huge demon has taken
over and wants his head... and 'Wari-kun's to thick-headed to realize
when he's out-classed!"
  "Out-classed?" Hiei rose his voice, forgetting the sleeping figure atop
him.  Untrained ears would not have caught the twinge of fear that
sparked there in the youkai's deep words, the glare fluctuating for only
a moment under his smirk.  For a swordsman of Yo-mawari's skill to be
out-classed, the challenger would have to be either very powerful, or
very cunning.  Possibly even both.  "What do you mean, out-classed,
'Wari's A-class... what the hell were you two doing today!"
   "Nothing!"  Kurama squealed outloud like a child wrongly accused,
pulling back from Hiei with a jerk.  Kiroshu startled awake suddenly in
a violent jerk, moaning and popping his thumb out of his mouth.  Big
deep green, almost black eyes slid open, challenging down Kurama's
forestry gaze as they fixed on the eyes, a smile forming up over sleepy
lips.  
   Kiroshu stretched and arched his back, crawling up to nestle his head
tightly under Hiei's chin.  The large eyes reflected the tired smile,
blinking away sleep lazily to focus on Kurama.  "Papa... why are you
home early?"
   "Uh, Kiro-chan..." Kurama smiled sweetly, reaching over to smooth a
hand through the deep red and black hair.  It was silken and smooth,
almost like water under his blood-stained finger tips, not at all like the
course, rough spikes that sat atop Hiei's head.  "When were you going
to tell me about this?" he smiled, tugging gently on a deed-red lock.
   Kiroshu stretched again, reaching out and tugging gently on a strand
of his other father's hair in response. "Surprise."  Kiroshu closed his
eyes again and nestled further into the thick black cloak, trying to pull it
up over his body.  He was like a little puppy trying to find a
comfortable spot to lay, pulling and tugging the cloak, rising the
slightest of smiles over Hiei's firm lips.
   Gently, Kurama reached to the couch behind him and pulled the
blanket off, unfurling it in a huge sweep of air to drape over the little
figure and Hiei.  The blanket molded perfectly, Kurama tucking the
fuzzy, soft blue blanket under his little chin.
   "Kurama," Hiei spoke, raising his voice.  "What is going on with Yo-
mawari, or have you forgotten your own brother already?"
    "Of course not!  But... it's something I don't want to trouble Kiro-
chan with."
   At the mention of his name, a large deep green eye slid open to pin
Kurama in place, almost managing one of Hiei's trademark glares.
"Papa, what's wrong with Ojisan?"
  Kurama sat back on his rear, propping his chin on the arm of the chair
Hiei laid cradled in, a seemingly childish scene among all three of them
despite the tension in the air.  He didn't want to bring Kiroshu into this,
he didn't want to worry him.  But how would the little kit feel if out of
the blue his uncle turned up dead! Or worse!
   "Papa?"
   "Are you going to tell him, or do you want me?" Hiei said flatly,
unemotionally.
   Kurama frowned softly and blinked slowly, stalling as long as he
could.  "How could you when you don't even know fully yourself?"
   "You told me enough.  'Wari's in danger, and I'm sure Kiro would
like to know why, as would I, Kurama."  He realized he just put the
youko on the spot, not really wanting to, but  he felt it was necessary,
or else Kurama would never get out what he had to say.  He could see
the torment and pain that hung in that perfect face, Hiei taken back a
moment at how alien the redhead actually was now.  It wasn't the face
of that caring human who had pledged the youkai his soul, it wasn't the
face that masked the playful and flirtatious youko and the sensual,
romantic human Hiei had come to love.  It was the face given Kurama
by some devilish monster delighting in twisting and deforming the face
beyond his reasoning, a monster that would have to be killed now that
it dared disgrace that perfect face.
   "Okay..." Kurama sighed, hanging his head a bit.  "I don't know
exactly who that demon is... 'Wari-kun and I stumbled upon it when he
was on watch.  I don't remember the name - something odd that I've
never heard before.  It claimed to be the only heir to Dai-Warugi, and
promptly staked his claim on Yomatsu."  
   Hiei shrugged.  "So, what's so unusual about that?  Just a successor. 
Hn, a powerful successor at that, but..."
   "But he want's  'Wari-kun dead!"  Kurama whined.  "And I'm willing
to bet that monster will go to any lengths to see that he dies!  Invading
the Ningenkai would not be beyond him!  Dai-Warugi did!  He wants
him DEAD!"
  Kiroshu sat up roughly in Hiei's chest, his weight sinking down on to
his father's stomach before Hiei could correct, up-righting himself
beneath him.  "Wants him... dead?" the little voice repeated, tugging the
blanket up to his neck,  shivering.  
   Kurama reached forward and smoothed back the locks of deep
blood-red hair that had been ruffled from the kit's slumber.  "Don't
worry, Kiro-chan..."
   Hiei shifted the toddler on his lap,  watching Kurama carefully as he
did so, well aware of the fact he burrowed holes through his lovers
forehead.  Kurama's ways of manipulating his emotions were amazing;
every shred of that alien fear and dread, had been fully replaced by soft,
caring eyes and a gentle smile, playfully gleaming.  Such emotional
powers had always put a hinge of fear in Hiei's heart:  Kurama could be
a cruel, heartless youko bastard one second, ripping apart unsuspecting
enemies with his plants.... but a loving caring soul the next, laughing
and playing, untouched by worry or past mistakes.  
   But all that soon faded when Kurama's eyes met back with Hiei's, the
once again uninvited fear darkening on the peachy skin and forestry
eyes.  "Hiei... I am NOT going to let him go back there and face that
thing, it nearly sliced him in three just when we were trying to get away
5 minutes ago!  There is no way he's going back there!"
   "Kurama... it's his job, he's been in the Borderlands nearly all his life,
you can't ask him to just give it up because someone else came along
and laid claim.  Yomatsu is his land and his responsibility.  It would be
no different than a ningen big-shot walking into this apartment and
demanding you to move out.  You'd fight back, I know you would. 
You worked for all of this and you wouldn't let anyone take it from
you, and you wouldn't let anyone harm the people inside this apartment. 
And that's just what 'Wari's doing."
   "I know, I know," Kurama groaned, laying his forehead down on one
of Hiei's knees, feeling Kiroshu's little hand move to stroke down
through his red hair.  "But... it's different.  'Wari-kun's my only original
family that I have left in the worlds, and if I loose him... I'll... I'll"
   Hiei snorted and lowered Kiroshu, blanket and all, to the floor, rising
swiftly from the chair, taking Kurama's support with him.  Wordlessly,
he crossed the apartment to the kitchen and threw open the refrigerator
door, sticking his spiky black head into the chilling appliance.
   Kurama sighed heavily and ran a hand back through his hair,
attempting to tame the wind strands that always stuck out at
provocative angles from about his face.  This wasn't working.
  "Papa... why's 'tousan so angry?" Kiroshu spoke softly, watching
Kurama closely.  The big deep-green eyes held a mountain of worry
and concern in them,  another facade Hiei would have disapproved.
   Kurama sputtered and reached for the kit, bundling him up into his
lap in strong, long arms.  "It's difficult to explain, Kiro-chan.  Do you
remember your parents much?"
   "Mm, not really, just that my real 'tousan screamed at 'kaasan alot. 
They fought all the time."  The little toddler arched his head back to
rest on Kurama's shoulder.  "I'm... curious. Why did you want to know,
papa?"
   Kurama sighed and watched Hiei tug a carton of milk from the
refrigerator, the youkai grumbling about how damn cold that thing kept
their food.  A glass clattered to the counter and was soon slopped full
of milk, spilling most of it onto the counter.  
  "I just... wanted to know.  We haven't had much time to sit and talk."
   "Mm.  'Tousan and ojisan talk lots with me.  Ojisan takes me to the
park, lets me feed the birds..." the toddler trailed off, wrapping a finger
through a lock of Kurama's hair that fell at his cheek.  "Papa... what's
going to happen?"
   Hiei tossed his glass in the sink with a loud clang, managing not to
break it before he began across the room to his chair.  "Kurama, I know
you're feeling like your world's going to end if Yo-mawari dies.  But
just what gives you the right to chose his fate for him!?  He's your
brother, not your mortal responsibility."  He sank indian-style beside
him and rested his chin on his hand.  "Kurama... aren't you forgetting
something?  Or someone here?"
   Kurama chuckled slightly and glanced to Hiei, rubbing his nose. "Of
course not," he whispered.  "Oh Hiei... " Kurama sputtered in a shaky
breath as he locked eyes with the small, compact figure.
   The youkai crawled over and wrapped his arms about Kurama's
shoulders, feeling Kiroshu crawl out from under them to scamper off to
the kitchen.  It was more of an action when Kiroshu thought he was in
both his fathers' ways, clearing room since the two had precious little
time nowadays to really spend together.  Hiei soon found his way to
Kurama's lap and sighed heavily, positioning himself comfortably as he
had done so many times before.  "You know, you can't let things like
this get to you so mad, Kurama," Hiei spoke gently despite the deep
tone.  "Have faith, 'Wari knows what he's doing.
   "So do I..."
   "But?"
   "But nothing.  I know in my heart he's going no matter what anyone
else says."  The long limbs encompassed the much smaller body,  a soft
nose burying down into the spiked black hair.  "I also know what fate
has in store for him."
  "There you go again, Kurama.  You have no idea what will happen...
you have no idea the events that will lead to any of our deaths.  We
could all die tomorrow from a freak invasion, or live on for the rest of
our lives.  Not even the soul-watchers in the Reikai know when any of
us will die.  Except it.  It's a part of life."
   "I can't except it," Kurama growled through clenched teeth.  "He'll
die.. unless he has an army behind him."
   "So.. we'll raise an army," Hiei said simply.  "... in a manner of
speaking."
    Kurama looked down slowly to Hiei a bit confused, narrowing his
eyes.  "What do you mean?"
   "We have friends... I'm sure Yusuke will want to come along, and
he's gained some powerful allies throughout the Makai.  Why not get
help?"
   "You mean..."  Kurama smiled down to his lover perhaps the first
time that night.  "You're coming too?"
   "Does that mean you're joining 'Wari?"  The little youkai strained his
neck and pressed his lips up to Kurama's, shifting to a more
comfortable position.  Gently, Kurama began to kiss back, darting his
warm tongue down into Hiei's mouth in slow, passionately movements,
feeling the compact body sigh and sag, surrendering.
   From the kitchen, Kiroshu smiled widely with the milk carton, leaning
down by the cat's dishes.  He watched a few moments, studying his
adopted  parent's movements closely, not quite understanding the
human desire of constant physical contact between two mates. 
Kiroshu's biological parents hardly ever touched each other unless it
was to hit the other...
   Kiroshu sighed and clutched the carton with both hands, tilting it to
pour the liquid carefully into one of the bowls.  It slopped and made a
mess, no matter how carefully and how accurately he tried to pour.
   Claws, as if sensing the milk, popped a little poofy head from
Kiroshu's room at the top of the stairs.  It's big, icy blue eyes watched
the child set the carton on the kitchen floor, swinging it's feline head
over to the two other figures in the house, still totally engrossed with
each other.
   Cautiously, Claws padded lightly out of the room to the stairs,
floating in wisps of black and white fur.  She watched her owner smile
and blow a blood-red lock of hair from his face, curling a finger at her. 
"Come here, kitty.  Are you hungry?"
   "URAMESHI!!!"
   Every soul in the house jerked-to at the bellow floating up the front
walk to the still-open front door.  Kuwabara Kazuma was storming up
after his best friend, rubbing a red spot that was forming on his nose. 
"Urameshi!  I'll get you back!!"
   Hiei groaned in Kurama's lap, picking himself to his feet and
straightening the lines of his cloak.  "Baka..."  But it wasn't Kuwabara's
who's figure graced the door first... but Yo-mawari's, tall and sleek.  He
looked even more serious than usual, pausing at the entry to tug off his
boots and bring out the menacingly long katana, setting it against the
wall by the door will careful accuracy.
  Yusuke and Kuwabara, arguing as usual, followed in next, kicking off
their shoes as they continued.  And directly behind, Botan walked,
tugging along the big black briefcase.
   She gently removed her shoes and nestled them neatly by the door,
flicking her blue pony tail back over her shoulder as it got in her way. 
She seemed calm next to the quarrelling friends and the overly serious
Yo-mawari, twirling in the school uniform she mostly wore in the
Ningenkai.  "Koenma-sama wants to talk to you all."
  "Oh great," Yusuke wined.  "Another one of his lectures?"
  Botan smirked slightly and set the briefcase down on the table with a
gentle plop, throwing a greeting-smile to little Kiroshu as he petted his
cat.  "Nope... he wants to know what's going on.  So, who volunteers
to tell him?" she spoke, opening the briefcase and flipping a switch.
  On the laminated screen of the laptop computer housed inside, the
small, chibi face of a toddler appeared sucking intently on a sky blue
pacifier.  On the big floppy hat, the Japanese kanji for 'king' sat in plane
but bold black character, shifting as the head of Koenma,
unproportioned to the rest of his little body, moved up further to the
screen.  Just beside him, the blue face of Joruju Saotomei slid over into
view, grinning.
    "Ah, Yusuke... Kuwabara.  Is everyone there?" Koenma's squeaky
little voice rattled off, turning wide but small eyes over to Botan.
   "Hai, Koenma-sama."
   "Good.  Now, explain to me what's going on."  He chewed heavily on
the pacifier and leaned back in the absolutely enormous brown leather
chair.
  "That's what WE'D like to know," Yusuke grumbled, directing the
statement off towards Yo-mawari's general direction.
   All eyes turned to the WatchMan, quietly standing off to the side,
separate from everyone else in the room.  His eyes were closed, face
lowered to the floor as if in deep thought.  But he was well aware of
the people staring at him from about the apartment.  No matter, he
knew what he was going to do, and no one, not even Koenma, could
give him orders to stop.
   Slowly, Yo-mawari pushed himself forward to sit before the screen,
adjusting his tall figure on one of the cushions.  The large, jet-black
eyes looked slowly and solemnly up at the toddler watching back. 
"Koenma-sama.  I will tell you what's happened, but nothing you or
anyone else says will make me alter the path that I tend to take."
   The little toddler grumbled to himself and sat curiously forward,
closing in on the screen.  "Nan da, Yo-mawari?"
   The youko took a deep breath...

(c) September 1997 by Jiminy Cricket Presses