Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Awaken the Dawn
Chapter 2: If the Wind Could Talk, What Would it Have to Say 

by Korogi
_____________

   Koenma sunk back in his plush chair with a grumble, closing down
the large but small brown eyes to thin slits, chewing on the pacifier
intently.  It bobbled around in his little mouth, a few times, threatening
to topple from his lips and into his lap, each time being caught back up
by expert lips.  He could already tell that today was going to be a rough
day.
   The toddler continued to grumble, the odd noise from the small boy
seeming to help his thinking processes as he sat perfectly still in the
ridiculously large leather chair, stretched like a lounging cat in the sun. 
Beside him, hunched over on the arm of the chair was Joruju, his fat
blue cheeks resting on the side of the leather, watching Koenma
grumble and groan to himself.  He was the ever-present employee,
taken to himself to look after Koenma, though it mostly ended up that
it was Joruju who needed looking after.  He managed to get into little
things that escalated into bigger-little things.... spiraling from there. 
Koenma having to save his blue end.
   The blue kaibatsu looked nervously back and forth  between the
forward screen and the toddler in the chair, still grumbling, still
thinking.  His pointed ears twitched slightly, anxious for some sound to
come out of his boss other than the grumbling.  Something that
wouldn't make him fuss and worry over his boss any more.
   "Koenma-sama?" he asked quietly, bending down to rest his chin on
the arm of the chair, eye-level as the toddler opened and eye over to
him.  Joruju pouted slightly, eyes widening like a puppy who had been
caught relieving himself on the good oriental rug.
   "Nan da, Joruju?"
   "Say something, Koenma-sama."
   "Nuts."
   "N... nani!"
   Koenma sighed and sat up in the chair, wiggling about on it to
reposition his little body.  He struggled about, scooting forward to the
end of the chair, his little legs dangling off the edge.  "Nuts, as in we
have no say in this.  Yomatsu Hara-sakai is out of the Reikai's hands...
and plus, I wouldn't want to take another trip there.  Dad would have
my head if I let a team go under my knowledge."
   The blue monster shifted by the chair, scratching at an annoying itch
that materialized on his cheek.  Deep thought was something Joruju
never was very good at, but he tried, mostly to please his tiny boss.
"Hai, Koenma-sama.
   Koenma looked back to the monitor and flipped off the mute, the still
and unchanging face of Yo-mawari still framing most of the picture. 
"Well, here's the deal.  Everyone gather around."

   One by one the Reikai-tantei all gathered around Yo-mawari, looking
into the briefcase.  As all would have expected, Kurama nestled to rest
his chin on his brother's shoulder wrapping an arm about his shoulders,
that strong, brotherly bond.  It was so much more different than the
secret little hugs Kurama would give Hiei when he thought no one was
watching, totally out in the open. 
    Yo-mawari seemed relieved at Kurama's presence over his shoulder,
tilting his head over and raising a hand to grasp the other's, the simple
contact between opening the mental link into a burst of emotion.  They
just shared emotions at that time, both wanting to concentrate on what
Koenma was getting ready to say.
   And no one really noticed Hiei crawl over Kurama's outstretched leg
with a light touch to sit in front of them, close to the youko but not
touching him, sitting up to his straight, statuesque pose.
   "Okay..." Koenma's squeaky voice started, bringing in everyone's full
attention.  "Since Yomatsu is out of the Reikai's jurisdiction, I can't
request or ask a team to go down.  Not until there's a solid threat to the
Ningenkai... an invasion or distortion."
   "Yeah yeah," Yusuke grumbled.  "And all of this babble means
what?"
   "It means..." Koenma growled, "that technically, none of you by Yo-
mawari is allowed to go.  BUT!" he put in quickly before the retorts
would start, raising a chubby finger to the monitor.  "But, if  you decide
to go on your own, there's not much we can do to stop you here,
seeing as how the Reikai-tokubetsu no guntai won't step foot in
Yomatsu.  But, that also means, if you get into trouble, no one can help
you.  AND.. that also means, as soon as my father finds out, who ever
goes with Yo-mawari will be court marshalled, possibly thrown out
from the services."
   Yo-mawari took a deep breath and nodded solemnly, poising himself
to speak.  He intended to declare his position on the matter firmly,
hardly expecting anyone to follow him into a hopeless battle.  He had
almost completely forgotten his mind was physically linked to Kurama's
until he felt his twin's arm tighten around his shoulder.  :You're not
alone,: Kurama whispered through his mind, repeating that same line
again.  :If you're going, I'm coming with you.  No excuses.  It may be a
hopeless battle, but you can count me in.:
   Despite himself, Yo-mawari smiled as he leaned forward towards the
monitor, staring back at Koenma's prissy little face.  "Kyoudai-kun and
I are going to Yomatsu, Koenma-sama."
   Koenma grumbled again.  "I thought so... my best wishes, Kurama..."
   "I'm going too," Hiei's rough voice growled, almost whispering,
deeply serious and firm.  It challenged down any and all statements that
could have been made to Yo-mawari's defense, making it perfectly clear
that he didn't care if he was cast from the tantei or not.  "He'll need all
the help he can get."
   Yusuke pounded a fist into his hand beside them, rising to his feet
swiftly.  He had that fighting gleam in his eye, the same gleam that
followed him into every battle, from the simple brawls on the school
yard to the higher-ranked Makai battles he had participated in.  "If
there's a fight someplace, I'm there!  Count me in."  The handsome
smile winked off his face, once to Yo-mawari and once to the monitor,
also stating his position on the matter.  Reikai-tantei or no Reikai-
tantei, these were is friends, and he'd be damned if he didn't help them.
   Aside, Kuwabara sprung to his feet to tower almost a foot above
Yusuke, flicking at a stray strand of is orange hair.  He chuckled lightly
to himself and jammed a thumb to his chest proudly,  rustling his chest
to look more muscular than he already was.  "I, Kuwabara Kazuma
shall not rest until this beast is put to justice... besides!"  he laughed and
hunched over, rubbing his hands together.  "Here's my chance to show
Yukina-chan what I'm made of!"
    "Hai, meatloaf," Hiei grumbled more to himself, rising from in front
of the monitor, simply transplanting his statued body to his feet, still a
good two feet short of Kuwabara's immense height.
   "Nan desu de!" Kuwabara shrieked, pulling himself from his delusions
to begins lumbering across the dining area.  "Was there something
you'd like to say to my face, squirt!"
   Hiei scoffed and folded his arms across his chest, closing down the
blood-red eyes, more snide and emotionless that any living being could
possibly pull off.  "Hn.  Say what?   I'm sure you know it all by now,
seeing as how you're as smart..."
   "Right!!"  Kuwabara announced quickly, standing tall and bold again
as if showing off for the dear snow maiden.  "I am very smart!  And for
a man of my intelligence..."
   "The intelligence of a slug..."
   "You little BRAT!  I'm gonna sweep the floor with that brush-head
hair-do of yours!  COMMERE!!"
   Kurama groaned, unwrapping himself from his brother, severing their
link gently.  "Excuse me, Koenma.  They're at it again."  Various
crashings and shouting of insults were heard behind him as Kurama
rose to take on his active duties as mediator, a seemingly regular job
whenever the group as a whole got together.  If it wasn't Yusuke and
Kuwabara, it was Yusuke and Koenma... and almost every time,
without fail, Hiei and Kuwabara would get into a battle of wits and
words, threatening to escalate into an all out fist fight if he didn't
intervene.

   Koenma grumbled heavily and sat back in the huge chair, chewing
again on the pacifier.  The monitor before him showed only Yo-mawari
in full view, smiling and listening to the brawl behind him, listening to
Kurama's handsome alto  gently try to calm the two fighters.  
  Joruju eyed his boss a bit nervously again, glancing back to the
monitor as Yo-mawari gently pushed himself to his feet and left the
view, replaced quickly with an open shot of the Minamino household. 
"Koenma-sama!  Is something worrying you?"
   One of the toddlers eyes popped open, a small, stubby hand reaching
forward to hit the 'mute' button again before Koenma even opened his
mouth to consider speaking.  "I doubt that they  have a chance, that's
what worries me.  That there," he pointed a chubby finger to the
monitor just as Kuwabara's face went shooting by the view to crash
somewhere off camera, Hiei darting quickly across in pursuit, followed
by Kurama, waving frantic hands.  "That is the best team of Reikai-
tantei we've seen in 300 years.  Yusuke is the only one of them who
could so much as hold a candle to that creature Yo-mawari described. 
But he's been out of practice since the Makai Bujuutsukai."
   Joruju stood up from beside the chair, rounding the desk to watch the
fight on the monitor, scratching his chin in thought.  The Minamino
household looked like total chaos, pillows flying this way, silver ware
flying that way.  It was a complete battle field, Joruju half expecting the
Rei-ken or the Kokuryuha to come blazing into view.  Kuwabara and
Hiei were like a two man army of destruction when they got into their
fights.  ... a two man army.  An army.  "What if..." Joruju thought out
loud.
   "What if.. what?" Koenma demanded, sitting forward.
   "What if..." he scampered around the desk and fell to his knees beside
the chair, cupping a hand to his mouth, leaning over to whisper into
Koenma's little ear.
   With each word, the brown eyes widened and sparkled, hanging off
every word until the blue kaibatsu pulled away, smiling at his success in
creating a good plan.  "You know, it just might work!"  Koenma reach
forward and swatted at the mute. "OI!  Minna-san!  Listen up!"

    "HIEI!!!  You're gonna eat that smirk for dinner!"
   "Kuwabara-kun!  Kudasai..."
   "Hn.  I'd like to see you try!"
   "Hiei... Kuwabara-kun... please calm down!"
   Across the apartment in the kitchen, Kiroshu stood up from beside
Claws, flicking a blood-red strand of hair from his face.  The fight had
moved into it's fifth minute already, each second bringing more insults
and more threats of bodily harm between the fighters.  He watched his
fathers closely, one trying to rip Kuwabara's head off, the other
feverishly mediating, pleading with the other to calm down.  He
watched them closely, watching the hopeless scene that seemed to be
taking place, Hiei struggling against Kurama's gentle grip, Kuwabara
dancing like a random fool, sticking his tongue out to further annoy the
youkai being restrained.
   It was quite childish, something he hardly expected adults to be
doing: fighting like that, especially 'tousan.  He didn't even fight like
that with Toge, so why was Hiei so bent on fighting with Kuwabara? 
Kiroshu shrugged and took to his feet, beginning slowly across the
floor to the brawl.
   Kurama had wrapped his arms about Hiei's waist tightly but gently,
and had hoisted him into the air, kicking and thrashing violently.  The
youkai snarled menacingly, gently gripping at the arms to let him down. 
But they refused to budge.  But even though Hiei was shouting every
curse he could think of, Kurama was smiling widely.  With his arms
around the youkai's waist, this gave Kurama the perfect chance to hold
his lover in public, clutching him tightly but sensually, burying his nose
down into Hiei's hair as he fought.  There was a playful spark in those
eyes as he continued to restrain Hiei, having to shift and compensate
constantly for Hiei's struggles.  It was like trying to hold onto a big
block of Jell-o.
   As the youkai continued to struggle and snarl, His eyes fell suddenly
to Kiroshu as the kit approached, the huge deep green stare of the kit
blinking back at him, asking questions and judging his father's actions. 
It was reprimanding, though Kiroshu didn't have to say a thing to
either's defense.  The sheer look was enough to bring Hiei back to his
senses, realizing the childishness of his actions and the display.  He
watched Kiroshu watching him, ending his struggles to dangle in
Kurama's arms defeatedly, his feet bobbling to swing a few inched off
the ground.
   Kiroshu blinked once and turned around, stepping back around
Kuwabara's feet to return to his cat and the milk carton.  He seemed the
only one in the room totally unaffected by the events that were going
on, perhaps too young to really realize just yet what could happen. 
Kiroshu had proved to be a bright little thing, though only a few years
in age.  He could read and write fairly well and seemed knowledgeable
in things that concerned the Makai and the Ningenkai. A quick learner
and a good listener, Kiroshu had amazed Kurama to no end whenever
he had the chance to sit down and chat with his new son.
    The Persian cat meowed beside the young boy and rubbed against
his knee, smearing his face and fur all over the boys dark pants.  Long,
fluffy strands of fur left their mark behind, the ct managing to shed on
just about everything in the house, including all their clothing.  This
especially bugged Yo-mawari since he mostly wore black, always
becoming upset when he found a big mess of white cat hairs all over his
clothing.
   Kiroshu sighed lightly  as he sat back down to stroke the soft fur,
listening to Claws purr, snuggling up to his lap.  The family cat had
always been specially bonded to Kiroshu from day one, though no one
knew quite why.  At some times, Kiroshu would stare down to the cat
and scream, crawling into one of his father's  laps.  He would shake and
nestle down, watching the cat stalk off into the house, claiming Claws
was talking to him... perhaps Kiroshu's youko powers were over
animals, where as most other youko's took powers over plants.
   Kurama snickered slightly across the room, still dangling Hiei in the
air, arms tightly wrapped.
   "Ahem," a little voice coughed from behind them all, startling the
Reikai-tantei into a collective 180 degree turn.  All eyes turned to see
Koenma's little picture blinking back at them all, the little vein on his
forehead beginning to throb.  "If you're all quite done... I think we may
have figured out a plan."
   Instantly everyone was tripping over everyone else to get back to
their seats before the monitor, Yusuke and Kuwabara causing the
largest amount of chaos as each tried to out-do the other.  Yo-mawari
sat directly in front of the screen, Hiei blinking to sit before him, tucked
off in a corner of Koenma's vision.  Over the WatchMan's right
shoulder, Kurama's head popped into view, the thin and bony chin
resting on his brother's shoulder again, long arms circling over his
shoulders to tug and yank playfully on the long trestles of black hair.
And of course, Yo-mawari tugged back.
   Yusuke and Kuwabara managed to crash into a pile next to the three,
instantly uprighting themselves and sitting straight as if they were two
perfectly behaved school children.  "What's up, Koenma?"
   The toddler shifted forward and stood on the chair, barely managing
to raise his small height any more than it had been before.  He leaned
forward onto the desk, balancing himself on his hands.  "Here's what
we've come up with.  From the description Yo-mawari has given me,
this is a very powerful oni, high up in the S- class regions of you-ki. 
And as you know, the only way to defeat or kill an S- class is to get
another S- class to do it.  Right?"
   "Hai," everyone added as a collective.
   "So... " Koenma leaned forward more, balancing his entire body on
his little hands, rising up on tip toes from the chair, leaning heavily on
the desk.  "So you...."
   "Nani?" Kuwabara whined.  "So we WHAT!"
   Koenma cursed and toppled from the desk and out of view, to land in
a squeaked 'plop' someplace out of camera view.  They all watched
intensely as Joruju yelped, scampering around the desk to retrieve his
boss, picking him up gently to sit him back on the desk.
   Yusuke turned in his position, glaring down Kuwabara with one of
those glimmered, brown gazes.  It was one of those 'you must be the
biggest MORON in the universe!' glares, known all to well by him by
know.   "Eh... nani, Urameshi!"
   Yusuke hauled off and smacked him roughly in the chest, hard
enough to echo the slap throughout the apartment and extract a cringe
from the rest of the tantei.  "Idiot!  In order to defeat an S- class, we
need MORE S- Classes!"
   "Exactly," Koenma groaned from the monitor.  "I'm glad to see I
haven't hired more than one brainless ningen employee!"
   Snickers rose around Kuwabara, an especially loud grumph from off
in Hiei's corner.  A red eye popped open to laugh at him, rubbing in the
comment like salt into a wound.  It was sure to spark a response from
Kuwabara... until Kurama tisked lightly and raised a fine red eye brow
in the direction of the youkai.
   Yusuke nodded solemnly at the monitor, turning back full attention. 
The only S- classes that he could even hope to get on their side were
the other owners of the Makai.  "Mukuro and Yomi," he declared,
shifting up onto his knees.

    Koenma sat on the desk, adjusting the ridiculously huge floppy blue
hat on his head, grumbling even more to himself as Joruju helped,
dusting his little shoulders off.  "That's right, Yusuke," he grumbled,
scampering over the desk to plop back in his big chair.  "And you need
to move fast.  There's no telling how long you have before Reikai
intelligence learns you've ALL gone against my father's orders and went
to Yomatsu.  And when that time comes and you're still in Makai
looking for Mukuro and Yomi, every member of the Special Forces will
be on your hides faster than you can blink.  You need to get into
Yomatsu fast!  I can't keep this under wraps for very long, not without
someone getting suspicious."
   "But Koenma, what will happen to you if your father finds out that
you were in on this?" Kurama asked, leaning more over Yo-mawari's
shoulder to place his face in full view.
   The toddler shuttered and switched the pacifier about in his mouth
uneasily.  Everyone one knew Enma-Daioh's anger and the
consequences for making him angry.  "Maybe I can play innocent.  I'm
a very busy man up here," he gestured to the piled of white documents
that littered the desk and the office.  "Keeping you five tantei in line is
my soul responsibility, so it's going to take some quick thinking to
avoid my father's punishments.  Still, the quicker you get to Yomatsu,
the easier it will be on ALL of us if and when Intelligence finds out."
   Yusuke nodded once more in agreement as Koenma signed off.  A
slow, mechanical hiss and beep fuzzed the monitor into pixel snow
before Botan shut it down, nabbing up the briefcase and calling up an
oar.  The slender wooden oar blinked into view in a tinker of fine bells
to hover obediently before her, awaiting her orders.
   Yusuke took a long deep breath, pushing himself to his feet, the
others following behind in the same action. "It looks like our first line
of work is to track down Yomi and Mukuro.  It would be best if we
split up, speed things up a bit; it looks like we're going to need all the
help we can get. 
   "I'll take Kuwabara and go to Yomi's city.  Kurama, I'd like it if you'd
join up.  Being his old partner and all, even though you two may not be
on best terms, you might be able to get his help more than I could."
   "And 'Wari and I will go to Mukuro's complex," Hiei butted in before
Yusuke had time to give him orders.  "I'm certain she'll help, that
shouldn't be a problem."
   "Right, sounds like a plan!"  Kuwabara cheered, cracking his
knuckles.  "When do we leave?"
   Yusuke began his string of plans, Hiei sharing his insight along side
him.  Kurama was listening intently when he felt a gentle tug on his
pant leg that demanded his attention.  Slowly, his eyes left the briefing
to find Kiroshu at his feet, looking up with those oddly sinister deep-
green eyes.  
   The child looked a bit lost and lonely, eyebrows sagging as he looked
back up to his papa.  His eyes clearly told Kurama that he knew
everything that was going on and knew the danger his uncle was in. 
Such adult matters that were supposed to be beyond a child's reasoning
seemed to break and shatter when around Kiroshu, the toddler always
showing higher knowledge and understanding than all the books on
patenting Kurama had read on his slow days at the office.
   Kiroshu sniffed lightly and rose both hands to Kurama, little fingers
feeling through the air to tug his father down for him, a ghostly pull
that lured in Kurama without even having to touch him.    Kurama
smiled and bent over, sweeping Kiroshu into his arms tightly, raising
back to his feet beside his brother.  "Nan da, Kiro-chan?"
   "I want to come," Kiroshu looked him straight in the eyes, serious as
he had ever made himself to be.  There was a sense of obligation behind
those eyes, nearly black in the dim dinning room, shadowing over his
face.  Serious lines and expressions replaced the child's face, darkening
around him, making his desires perfectly clear.
  "You what?" Kurama whispered to him, adjusting the small boy on his
hip.
   "I want to go with you, 'tousan and ojisan."
   "Absolutely not!  Out of the question!"
   "Why!"  Kiroshu whined back, wrinkling his forehead and pouting as
any experienced toddler could so easily do.
   "Because I said so," Kurama put back firmly.  "You're too young."
   Kiroshu snorted and laid his head back on Kurama's shoulder, a
forlorn sigh sagging his little body.  "Why can't I go.  I want to stay
with you and 'tousan."
   "Kiro... it's too dangerous, love.  You'll get hurt, then Hiei and I will
be upset that we let you get hurt.  We're going to a place we should not
be, and we're going up against a creature we might not even be able to
beat."
   "But what if you or 'tousan never come back?"
   Kurama sighed heavily and hugged the kit tightly, rubbing a hand up
and down his back.  He hoped that Kiroshu wasn't quick enough to
catch what was being discussed around the house there today.  Facing
death was something Kurama had done countless times before without
so much as a second thought.  But now, with the responsibility of an
abandoned child resting on his shoulders, the perilous missions and
journeys began to tug on his conscious.  What WOULD happen to
Kiroshu if his father's died?  Who would take care of him?  Who would
take care of Shiori-kaasan!?
   Yukina and Kuwabara were busy as was, what with their wedding
plans and all.  Yukina had been under the weather for a few days now
and a kit to take care of would take her mind away from getting better
and keeping Kuwabara out of trouble.   
   Yusuke and Keiko had twice the responsibility as he and Hiei, after
adopting the youko twins left in the path of destruction from the Soul
Eater a little over a few weeks ago.  The very thought of that
creature... the thought of it coming within inches of killing him sparked
a sudden fear deep into his heart. He had come that close to never
seeing any of the people he loved again, way to close for comfort.  A
few hours later and he would be dead forever, only able to watch
Tokyo-tou from the miles upon miles of distance in the Reikai.
   He wasn't the haphazard youko he was a year ago... he had enormous
responsibilities.  An ailing mother, a husband, a new family... he was a
father now!  He couldn't risk his life as he had done so many times
before.  If he lost Kiroshu ... but if he lost Yo-mawari...
   "Well," Kurama finally spoke, his voice cracking in his throat as it
escaped into the air.  "Things won't come to that, Kiro-chan.  Hiei and
I'll be just fine, you'll see," he said firmly, adding a rough jerk of his
head to the end of the sentence.  "I'm not going to loose either of you. 
I refuse to let that happen."
   "Promise?"
   "Hai.  I promise," Kurama whispered, hugging the child closer to
him.  "I'm dying of old age and nothing will stop that."
   Hiei, listening intently to Yusuke, turned his gaze slightly to peer out
of the corner of his eye.  Behind them all, he saw Kurama with the
young redhead.  Kurama's face seemed pale and distant, struggling with
his inner emotions and the conflict of the mission he was going on...
and he swore he saw a single tear escape the green eyes.
   Hiei cringed inwardly, turning quickly back to the human before him,
trying to concentrate on what was ahead.  But to no avail.  He could
only think of Kiroshu.
   Hiei had full confidence in himself that he would make sure one of
them made it back alive, whether it be himself or Kurama.  Either way,
one of them would have to take care of the kit.  More duty and honor-
bound loyalty filled his head, Hiei wondering if he should threaten
Kurama enough to make him stay behind.  But that would be a
worthless endeavor, Kurama would follow both he and Yo-mawari no
matter what, no matter where or under what circumstances.
   The youkai growled deeply to himself and broke from the group,
disappearing quickly up to the loft of the apartment.

  Kiroshu wiggled in Kurama's arms until the tall, slender frame bent
down to gently set him on the floor.  Kurama's big green eyes floated
into view, trying to hide his pain as best as he could with a large,
playfull smile.  It was a pretty good attempt, his face seeming to be
void of all the fear and sadness that threatened to burst him at the
seems.  It would have worked until that single tear glistened out of the
corner of one of his emerald eyes, met quickly with his shirt sleeve. 
But it was alive long enough for the kit to notice as Kurama knelt
before him. "I'll see if Yukina will watch you until we get back okay? 
Or you could stay with Keiko and the twins."
   Kiroshu snorted and pouted, watching Kurama's face and eyes
carefully as the emotions faded, melting away into pure, inconditional
love.  "I don't know the twins that well, and besides, Toge hates me." 
The kit snorted and forded his arms across his chest, sticking his
bottom lip out.  As well as any full-blooded ningen child could have
done, Kiroshu pouted... Kurama half expected him to fly into a noisy
temper tantrum as he had seen ningen children do in grocery stores.
   "He doesn't hate you, he's just protective of his sister," Kurama cooed
back in his gentlest voice, smoothing back a stray blood-red spike of
the boy's hair.
   "He hates me," Kiroshu pouted.  The little boy turned on his heals
and stalked back across the room to the kitchen to plop back beside his
cat, pouting in his silent little temmper tantrum.  He was like a lost
child now, facing the seperation of himself from his new family.  He
didn't want to loose another family.
   Kurama knew something bad was bound to happen... it tugged on the
back of his mind insistantly, demanding attention.  Kurama had the
sinking feeling he would never see his adopted son again once he left
this appartment today.
   A thin touch graced his shoulder, a wild purple gaze floating next to
him to slide gently and slowly to his vision as he stood to his feet,
taking full advantage of his slender height.  Botan, now back in her
regular faded pink kimono looked back at Kurama, her fingers lightly
gripping his shoulder.  Wordlessly, she searched over his face, knowing
what he was thinking even without Kurama having to tell her.  It was
the kit, she knew Kiroshu was weighing heavly on his mind. "Kurama-
kun.  Are you okay?"
  Green eyes darted once to Kiroshu alone with his cat and then back to
Botan.  He smiled despite all that ran through his mind and took her
hand gently in his.  "Botan... can you go to Yukina's.  See if she'll
watch Kiroshu while we're gone?"
   "Hai, Kurama-kun.  I'll go right now," she gestered to the oar in one
of her hands.  "Take care of the rest, okay?  I'd say it to Yusuke, but
he'd just snort and yell, telling me I'm jinxing the mission or something
pig-headed like that."  Botan smiled a bit forlornly and bowed her head
in respect.  "Ja ne, Kurama.  Take care of them."
   Kurama noded a slow solemn nod and watched Botan hop up onto
her oar, zipping quickly out an open window in a whiz of displaced air. 
She flew straight through the night sky, not performing any of her
aerial acrobatics that she had been highly know for, blazing a straight
and serious bath through the Ningenkai skyline.
   The sweet smell of the noon blossums in the air outside the window
wafted about on the light, airy breezes that surrouded the small, quaint
appartment the entire group had een piled into.  They seemed unaware
and uncaring to the things that went on around it.  Disasters had
befallen the human civilization for centuries now, the only witness to
the horror and devestation was in fact, the wind itself.  A silent
watcher, noting every action, every movement, every death.
   Kurama closed his eyes and stepped forward, facing out the window,
feeling the warm rays of the sun basking on his face, warming his skin
and heart.  And the youko wondered; If the wind could talk, what
would it have to say?  Would is relinquish it's secrets and give
testimony to the events of the Ningenkai.  Would it have some sort of
counsel to give him before he went with his brother on this journey that
would surely be the death of them all?  Or would it just smile and laugh
as he had always known it to?...
   "Oi, Kurama.  You coming, or what?"  Yusuke's harsh voice floated
over the gentle warmth of sunlight, intterupting his thoughts and
breaking him from his day-dreaming.  "We're heading off to The Makai. 
You still with us?" the voice tugged.
   Kurama sighed and turned from the window, the lingering heat of the
sun quickly disipating of his face to leave the cold, emptieness to settle
once more.  More saddned than anything else, Kurama straightened 
and ran a hand through his red hair that sat wild and flaming under the
light of the sun, taming it in a sudden breeze that sent the silken strands
into chaos.  He looked more mythical and whimsical than he ever had
before, the red hair swirling to halo his head and face, contrasting the
green eyes to shoot them about the room.
   ... ~perhaps there are things more important than a love of life~... he
heard a whisper gentle float by his ear, certain that it was only he who
could hear it. ...~the most important thing in the world is to follow your
heart.  It will never lead you wrong ~....
  "Hai," Kurama said simply, stepping forward calmly, the faint traces
of his ever-present smile starting to peek back through on his fine lips. 
"I'm coming."
   Hiei suddenly blinked down from the loft behind the others in an
angry puff of wind, rustling everyone's hait aroud him.  The black wind
flicked from step to step and out into the kitchen to stand over Kiroshu. 
The very presence silenced the room behind the others as they began to
gather for the mission, dampening all noice that hoped to reach either
Kiroshu or Hiei's ears.   Angry wind usualy brought an angry youkai to
seeth and hiss above it's intended target, but this time, Hiei seemed lost
in his thoughts and hidden emotions.  The youkai just stood for a
moment looking down to the small boy, clutching something tightly in
his hand, turning his knuckles white from the force that was put behind
them.
   The kit looked up, the deep green eyes full of so many emotions that
they seemed to be drowning in themselves, almost ready to haze over in
a mirky defeat.  Hiei smiled down to his new son, a barely visible shift
to his face that always seemed etched in stone and unmoveable. 
"You're the man of the house until we get back, Kiro.  Understand?"
the deep voice almost whispered, almost growled as the small, compact
body lowered itself to crouch before the kit.
   "Hai, 'tousan."
   Hiei took one of his hands and laid what looked like a scabbard in his
arms, the jeweled hilt of a katana resting  on the top to blink and shift in
the light.  "You take care of the house and your cat while we're all
gone, okay?" he brushed a finger over Kiroshu's cheek, bending
forward to kiss him on the forehead.  "You take care too, alright?" Red
orbs stared straight and unwavering at the child, scolding, but loving at
the same time, hidden deep withing a murky red that swirled about.
  "Okay."  The kit watched with wide eyes as Hiei crouched down
beside him, gently placing the sheethed katana down in his little hands,
covering them with his own lagrer hands.
   Hiei looked serious and firm, as if faced with the biggest decision of
his life... infact, this was probably going to be the bigest action he
would ever perform in his existence: Hiei had never had to care for
another as he had now, looking after Kiroshu during the days when
Kurama was off at work or visiting his mother.  And now, leaving him
to take off to an unforgiving world that threatened to chew him up and
swallow him whole, Hiei's hopes of ever having a family to call his own
were begining to crumble right before his eyes.  "Kiro... I want you to
take this, protect yourself if things go wrong.  I'm counting on you now
kiddo, okay?"  The youkai bent down and kissed the kit's forehead once
more, looking down deeply into those hard, green eyes that could tear
him apart faster than Kurama's own leafy stare could.
   Kiroshu gently laid the katana on the floor and rose to his feet,
flinging his arms around Hiei's neck. "Arigatou, 'tousan," he whispered,
hugging tightly until he felt Hiei's arms rise to circle over his back.
   Hiei had felt love before in his life, from his sister and from Kurama. 
But that was a differnet sort of love than what he felt from Kiroshu... a
love he had never felt before : from a son to his father.  It was so
dependent on the youkai, almost frightening him.  The slight fear
assured Hiei in his mind that leaving Kiroshu behind was the right thing
to do... it was the safest thing to do for the kit's safety and well being.
   The youkai sighed a bit and hugged the kit back, closing his eyes. 
"Kiro, you take care of yourself incase we don't come back, okay?"
   "You're coming back, 'tousan.  You and papa have to come back."
   "We'll do our best,"  Hiei whispered, pulling quickly away from
Kiroshu to stand back to his feet. "Keep the house safe from those
pesky ningens, okay?" he smiled, ruffling the little boy's hair.
   "Hai," Kiroshu laughed childishly, trying to fend off his father's hand,
struggling under the ragged mess his hair was quickly becoming. 
Instead, he ended up toppling backwards onto his rear beside Claws,
his deep red hair falling in messy spikes about his face to momentarily
blind him until he had the reserves to clear his vision.
   Kurama appeared next to Hiei, a light arm circling over the youkai's
shoulders in a possesive, light grip.  "Yukina-chan will be coming
shortly to watch you, ne?  Until then, will you be okay in the house
alone for a few minutes?"
   Kiroshu nodded, reaching out to accept another hug from Kurama
when the taller fram bent down.  It was like a final farewell, the kit
could see it in the older youko's eyes and feel it in his touch; strong and
sad, not wanting to let go, but having to... having to pull away from the
kit and break the ties that held them together, possibly forever. 
Kiroshu wanted to cry, he wanted to wrap his arms about Kurama
forever and never let him go off.  But he had to, he knew he had to let
him go and compose himself, as much as it started to tear him apart
from the inside out.  The bigest effort he had went into the large,
shining smile that he managed to paint across his face, so utterly
believable that it startled him.
   All to quick, the team piled out of the house, Yo-mawari the last to
go, further ruffling the kit's hair as he went.  "Keep your cat off my
clothes, kiddo," he winked, diappearing out the door like a black
phantom, seeming to hurry the group on away from the house as fast as
he could.  Almost unreal. They were all gone in a matter of seconds, a
mass exodus.
   And Kiroshu was alone.
   The apartment felt so dead and uneventful without anyone in it.  The
smallest sounds rang out to be monstrous beasts hiding under the stairs,
in the closets and cabinents, infesting the house in every shadow and
corner around him.  He didn't like the feeling at all and wished Hiei and
Kurama would come back so he could be with them, if only for a few
seconds to reassure him this was the right thing to be done.
    The last time parents left him alone, they had left him alone to die.
   And this was NOT the right thing to do!
   For a few stray minutes, Kiroshu listened and felt the five ki's fading
off to diappear into the Ningenkai, his eyes begining to sting with the
threat of tears and emotions that needed to spill.  He was going to do
something, he had to.  He had to go with them and watch after his
fathers, to make sure that they would come back.  Kiroshu's real father
had promised he would come back for him when he was left in the
woods nearly a year ago.  For four days straight he waited under the
canopy of a large pine, crying himself to sleep everynight, calling for his
youko mother and father.
   But they never returned.
   He had lost his family and every hope of ever being happy again.  He
had been alone in the world that dark and rainy night when the
realization suddenly dawned on him that his parents were never coming
back.  He knew they didn't love hin... he KNEW no one would ever
love him by the beasts that threatened to make him their next meal. He
had lost all hope, breaking down and crying through the pooring rain
and the crashing thunder around him. 
    Totally alone... until a smiling youko in human form found him, a
form with the greenest, most caring eyes in the world.  That youko and
his youkai boyfiend.  Kurama and Hiei.  They would be his new family.
   He already lost one family, he wasn't going to loose another one! 
Kiroshu knew he had to follow and look after his new fathers or he
would never forgive himself if neither one of them came back alive. 
The thought of once again waiting for his parents to return haunted
him.  His youko parents promised the same thing... but they never
returned.  What proof would he have that Hiei and Kurama would keep
their promise and return back to him?
   Kiroshu snorting having made his decision,  took up the katana and
tied the belt about his waist, pulling out his shirt over top to somewhat
hide it from view.  "Listen up, Claws.  When Yuki-oba-chan gets here,
you tell her that I went with papa and 'tousan okay?  You're the man of
the house now," he spoke proudly, repeating Hiei's solemn words.  "I'm
going to Yomatsu with them, keep them safe, make sure they DO come
back to me.  You guard the house against humans, okay?"

   Keiko sighed and slunk back in the easy-chair in the apartment, Bara
climbing expertly up to nestle down in her lap, blinking wide, hazeled
eyes to her.  Keiko was thouroughly exhausted from the day... so much
had gone on in school today, and the fact that Yo-mawari, nearly
frantic to the point where he couldn't talk straight, had burst into her
school with unexpected and horrible news.  News that made the young
girl shudder just thinking about it.
   Bara smiled and snuggled down as Keiko wrapped an arm around
her, herding her over to clear a spot for Toge who climbed up next. 
Together, the two youko kits giggled at each other, Toge reaching over
to give his twin sister's tail a firm tug, raising a slight yelp.
   "Are you two hungry?"  Keiko laughed, smiling as she watched the
two siblings pick and tease each other.
   The kits quickly shook their heads, a firm negative.
   "You look tired, Keiko-obachan," Toge said simply in his darkened
little voice, shifting to crawl back onto the arms of the chair.  "You
look like you need some rest."  As bright as daylight, the kit huddled
down on the arm of the chair and smiled, blinking large, fox eyes over
to the young woman he know looked to for love and comfort.  As
innocent as any child could be.
   "Hai," Bara agreed, climbing up onto the other arm, clearing out so
Keiko could rise from the chair.  Together, the kits winked silently at
each other, plotting and sceming from their respective perches on the
arms of the large chair. If the space allowed it, one would have long
tackled the other in  a fit of hysterics, pulling, biting and shoving to let
their built up mischevousness release.  They had gone pretty much half
the day plotting and sceeming since Yusuke had come home, telling
them he had to go away for a little bit.  Humans often mistook young
youko kits as having the intelligence of human children their same age. 
But the fact was, that in order to survive in the wilds of the Makai, you
learned quickly to see hidden truths behind words and actions.
   The twins' seemingly innocent little statments made Keiko realize just
how tired she really was.  It wasn't like the day had been overly
stressful, just more than usual.  Yusuke's rudness and crass behavior
was often enough to wear her out by the end of the day.
    Keiko yawned and sat up in the chair, streatching her back and arms
from the days strains.  And there had been quite a few, all building up
to a tense knot in her back and arms, traveling to her legs and going
from there.  Just another normal day around Yusuke.  "I need to do my
homework.  Can you two just play for a few hours?" she smiled cutely,
blinking large, brown eyes to each of the youko kits.
   "Yoshi!"  they both chimmed back in unison, hopping from the arms
of the chair and disappearing.  Keiko leaned over one of the arms to
watch the little kits that Yusuke had let invade their apartment.  She
had loved them to pieces since day-one, delighting at their antics and
playfulness.  In total, she saw just what made Kurama and Yo-mawari
so playful and inseperable around each other, the bonds between twin
siblings.  If one kit was at one end of the apartment, the other kit in
another end, both would be misserable and droopy until they found
each other... and then the playings would begin all over again.  Bara
and oge rarely left each others sides.  They played, ate and slept
together...
   Bara met expertly with the ground when she had jumped, leaping
instantly from the floor to tackel her twin brother flat on his back,
rolling over and over a few times.  Absolutely precious and priceless! 
The kits squealed and bound off into another part of the apartment, the
sound of scamppering feet sliding across the kitchen limoleum echoing
back to Keiko's ears as they slid around and crashed, probably into the
table or something else.
   She smiled and retieved her school pack from its resting place at the
front entrance, going back into the bedroom to begin her hours upon
hours of studying.  A routine that she wished Yusuke would at least
TRY sometimes!

   Yusuke's apartment was silent now...
   Bara leaned around the corner of the kitchen door, Toge peaking
over her shoulder to lean around her, the two piled on top of each other
like a comedic routine.  They seemed to be two disembodied heads,
one stacked upon the other, hanging in the doorway, the slightest shift
threatening to toppel them into a chuckling heep.  "Do you think it
worked?" Toge whispered in her ear, giving it a playful tug before
ruffling her white, streaming hair.
   Bara just shrugged, swatting at her brother behind her.  "I think so. 
But won't Keiko-chan be mad if she finds us missing?"
   "Won't Keiko-chan be even more madderer if Yuu-chan's missing? 
Come on, we have to go help him now.  Keiko-chan will be fine!"
   "But.."
   "Come on, sis! "  Toge humphed immatiently, grabbing his sister's
wrist and tugging.  Let's go!"

   Hiei's portal opened widely before the tantei as they all gathered
around him, a swirling yellow mass of you-ki off in the private,
secluded grove of the park just minutes from the apartment he shared
with Kurama and Yo-mawari.  They had all been there before for
various reasons: a picnic, more briefings from either Yusuke or
Koenma... it was a pretty regular spot for all of them.
   To Kiroshu, the portal looked like the swirl of sickly yellow soap that
went down the bathtub drain after a bath, continually swirling, getting
quicker and quicker in the center where a voided black hole sat
motionless, undisturbed by the wave around it. Though his ki had been
camoflaged in the tree he hid behind, he could feel his father's ki
through the surrounding air, putting every burst and feeling tohis
amazing memory. "So that's how 'tousan does it," he whispered silently,
his mind easily logging the ki bursts and the feelings from the
surrouding nature.  This was going to be easier than he thought.
   One by one, the kit watched as the group disappeared into the portal
to flash off into the Makai where they had been planning to start their
mission.  Kiroshu knew next to nothing about these two youkai they
were looking for: Yomi and Mukuro.  All he knew was that Yo-
mawari-ojisan had a distinct dislike for Yomi, though the kit never
found out why.  
   And this Mukuro... Kiroshu had been around a few times when the
little black boxes would appear on the table or atop the television set
during his cartoons, always a woman with short orange hair and one
eye blinking back at him.  Hiei usually had to leave the apartment after
the boxes arrived, Kurama saying that the youkai had had buisness to
attend to and was helping the woman out.
   Kiroshu smirked and wiggled his nose as it began to tingle.  Human
alergies, he found, that sprung up when he transformed into human
form.  Before him, he watched the yellow swirling portal diminish,
sealing silently behind the group that had disappeared somewhere
beyond.  This would be easy.  All Kiroshu would have to do was
immitate Hiei's energy and bring up a portal... he could track him then
by...
   Another presence stirred a squirrel in a tree beside him, the furry
rodent scampering over to climb the bark he was hiding against and sit
on his shoulder, chattering away.  Two other ki's were coming quickly
this way, the squirrel relaying to to the kit what he had seen.  Two
small figures all in white... probably some horrible group of Ningenkai
animals.
   Kiroshu tapped the squirrels little head, watcing it bound off his
shoulder to the safety of his tree as Kiroshu crouched, a hand going to
the hilt of the katana Hiei had given him minutes ago.  It was his duty
now to protect both of his father's best interests, including saving them
from the ningens that were sure to stick their noses into things they just
didn't belong in.  And he would help them out in the Makai too when
he was finished.
   As he watched, the ki's began to evolve into familiar feelings... he
knew those two energies from someplace!  One of them began to spark
hints of anger in the back of his mind, sending the boy crouching down
by the tree, ready to leap with fangs barred at whoever entered the
clearing.  He had felt the you-ki's before, his mind still to young to pick
out and detect the sublte variences that came around in other people's
ki.  He couldn't put a name or face to the energies: just feelings.  And
he had the feeling he didn't particularly like one of them.
   Toge and Bara suddenly burst into the grove, piling to a stop when
they found no one there.  It was those kit twins Yusuke had taken in a
few weeks ago... THAT was the familiar energies that sparked the
reactions.  And it wasn't just anger Kiroshu felt, there was another
emotion there to... though he couldn't place a finger to it.
   "What are YOU doing here!"  Kiroshu yelled from behind his tree,
jumping into the grove across from them.  He stood his human form up
as tall as he could, towering a few inches more than he could in kitsune
form, using the slight increase in height to his advantge.
   Toge instantly placed himself before Bara, shufeling to hide his twin
behind him to fend off any creature that would dare come too close. 
"Who are YOU!  Get out of here before I kill you!" he screamed,
pushing a hand back to Bara as she gripped his shoulder.  Her little pink
nose burrowed down into the soft white cloth that draped in bulky lines
over his thin figure, big hazel eyes peaking over his shoulder to the
figure of a human boy that stood across the glade.
   Kiroshu smirked from his possition, crossing his arms over his chest,
a statuesque pose he had seen Hiei make whenever being serious or
menacing.  "You're dense, aren't you, Toge" he chidded, ending the
sentance with a firm snort.
    Concentrating his you-ki, Kiroshu felt the slower, more bulky human
body began to shift around him, the first change noted being the black-
tipped red spikes of hair bleaching before his vision into solid silver,
flowing down over his shoulders and down his back.  His body thinned
and followed suit, blinking and shimmering out to silver to blend his
hair, the deeply green and glaring eyes flashing out bright gold.
   "Kiro?" Toge snorted from across the glade, almost cursing the word
as he spat it out.  Behind him, Bara let out a tiny sigh of relief and
scampered around to her brother's side, waving a gentle flick of her
little, chubby hand.  "What are you doing here?" Toge groaned, placing
a hand out before his sister to keep her back.
  "I asked you first," Kiroshu snubbed, prissy in tone.  He shifted
through his stance and began forward a few steps, tossing back a
portion of his white robe to flicker the jeweled hilt of the katana into
view.
   "Fine!" Toge shouted back, herding Bara behind him despite her
uncooperative grunts.  "Yuu-chan's going to Yomatsu and we're
following.  And YOU'RE not coming with us!"  He stuck his tongue
out and shook his head, the action clearly something he had picked up
around Yusuke and his many fights with Keiko.
   "Hmph, we'll see.  Just how do you plan to GET to Yomatsu, Toge! 
You can't open a portal!  And besides, they're all going to the Makai
first, NOT Yomatsu."  Kiroshu stuck HIS tongue out to counter.
   "Can you help us?"  Bara asked calmly behind her brother, recieveing
a quick repremand.
   "We don't need his help, Bara!" the other spat, keeping glaring green-
golden eyes on the youko kit across from them.
   Kiroshu smirked in retort, chuckling.  The rivalry that had sparked
between Toge and Kiroshu was purely over Bara's behalf.  Kiroshu had
tried to make friends with Bara, her brother refusing.  It wasn't until
Kiroshu made the mistake of touching her little hand, instantly sparking
her empathic abilities, that he had earned Toges hate and anger. "Oh
yeah?  Can YOU open a portal to the Makai?"  Kiroshu crossed his
arms over his chest proudly, imitating Hiei again.  "I've watched and
learned from 'tousan how to do it... you don't know how to open a
portal do you?"
   "Uh, well, no, but..."
   "Ha!  Then you need me after all!"
   Toge growled across the glade at the kit, wanting to leap across and
wring that snooty little neck of his until his head popped off.  He hadn't
had a fond likeing for Kiroshu ever since the kit touched his empathic
sister, sending her into a terrible headache that lasted the remainder of
the day.  Bara hadn't seemed to mind much, she had enjoyed the
company of another kit, wanting to play when everyone had gathered at
Yusuke's appartment for a party.  But Toge, ever the over-protective
brother that he was, had refused to let her near Kiroshu, instead,
coveting her away on the other side of the table as they ate dinner,
glaring back at the kit who sat in Kurama's lap.
   Kiroshu had then grown a dislike for Toge along with Toge's hate,
the two quickly becoming rivals in the short span of a few hours,
growling at each other across the table, eyeing each other until either
Yusuke or Kurama reprimanded them.  The whole situation had risen
chuckles and giggles around the group, only making the rivalry
escallate until Kiroshu had tried to leap across the table at Toge.  And
still, more from the sake then anything else, a fit of hysterics had driven
both the kits to tears, Bara just sitting quietly off in Keiko's lap,
watching.
   While Toge and Kiroshu sat glaring each other down in the glade,
Bara broke formation, scampering across the grass the reached nearly
to her kness towards Kiroshu before her brother could react.
   "BARA!!  Get back here!"
   Bara chuckled and increased her pace, hopping expertly over bushes
and rocks until she stumbled to a hault beside Kiroshu, bowing quickly. 
"Konnichiwa!"
   Kiroshu blinked over to her a bit confused, tilting his head ever so
slightly.  The kit watched the girl wave back at her brother as he was
slowly stalking across the glade, snarling and grumbling to himself. 
Little Kiroshu was a bit werry of them both, although he didn't hold a
deeply seeded hatred for Bara.  It was more of a facination, for he had
never seen a girl kit before.  She was so much different from he and
Toge, much shorter and thinner, a fragile looking little thing, dwarfed
beside him and the much taller twin.
   More on curiosity, Kiroshu reached out and poked her bare arm,
rising and instant reaction from both the twins.
   Bara reeled back, raising a hand quickly to her shoulder where
Kiroshu had touched her,  looking up to him with her large eyes as the
quick feed of emotions and feelings flowed through that simple touch.  
   "Keep your hands off my sister!!" Toge bellowed across the glade,
his stalk quickening to a run, bounding across the park, ready to
intercept and do whatever was nessesary to ensure his sister's safety.
   Bara squeaked and stepped forward before Kiroshu, holding her arms
out to the side, intending to block her brother's path as he crashed
forwards toward them.  She knew the action was probably nearly
worthless, backing slowly as Toge approached until she backed into the
slightly taller kit behind her.
   Toge slid to a quick halt when he saw Kiroshu raise his hands to lay
them softly on the shoulders of his sister in a protective and friendly
motion.  Closely, he watched her reaction... but there wasn't one. 
Instead, Bara just looked back at her brother, blinking, tilting her head
to the side in silent questioning.  "Toge-kun... why are you always so
mad at Kiro-kun?"
   Toge humphed and straightened, walking in a tantrum across the few
remaining meters to stand before his sister.  "Are you okay, Bara-
chan?"
  "Hai, of course."
   Kiroshu lowered his hands from the girl kit's sholders and stepped
back, nodding once to Toge.  "Listen... we can follow them all easier if
we can just get along."
   "Fine, then.  I just want to go with Yuu-chan and the others.  We'll
help you if you help us.  Deal?"
   The two boys nodded and shook hands, though glares were still set in
each of their eyes.  Each knew that if the other stepped so much as a
fraction out of line, they'd both go their separate ways, determined to
snuff the other out.  The Makai wasn't necessarily as forgiving a land as
the Ningenkai often prooved to be, but it would be better that putting
up with the rivalry if needs be.
   Bara pushed forward and stood between them, glaring at both the
boys, raising hiands to rest them on her hips.  "No, we help each other! 
Things will be all better when we find Yuu-chan and Kurama-san. 
Until then, be friends, okay!  No more fighting, okay!"
   Kiroshu turned without so much as another word, facing the tree line
where Hiei had brought up the Makai portal.  He neither nodded or
agreed to Bara's insists, and neither did Toge.  But he felt he could
cooperate as long as it took to find atleast one of his fathers.
   Kiroshu surveyed the tree line...  Things had to be just right and
perfect or else it wouldn't work.
   Slowly, the kit began to spark his ki, imitating to the exact pitch and
frequency that he had felt from Hiei, matching every fluctuation in the
fabrics of time as he had felt his father do.  A new range of senses and
feelings began to flow around him, a quick and gentle breeze kicking up
through the glade to merge into a swirling, invisible whirlpool before
him, only detected trough the three kit's feelings. 
   Bara backed to her brothers side, clutching at his arm, shivering.  The
ki around her was warping and twisting, her empathic mind picking it
up in more detail than Toge could.  "What's he doing?" she whispered,
tucking her head under his arm, hugging to him.
   "Shh," Toge put a finger to his lips and hugged his sister to him as
she shivered.  "I think he's opening that portal thingy."
   Slowly, the swirling air began to glow yellow before the three kits,
Kiroshu struggling to keep a hold of things.  This wasn't as easy as he
thought it was going to be.  Tiny sparks in ki flowed from the
surrounding air and plant life, intending to help hold the portal open,
but just making struggles harder on Kiroshu to compensate.  He could
see the view of the sunlit Makai forest peaking through the yellow swirl
beyond, perfect and peaceful as it had always been.
   Things seemed to shift one last time, the last burst of ki exploding to
tack the portal in place, knocking Kiroshu back on his hind end from
the impact of the force.  It was just how he had seen it before Hiei,
thought it looked much bigger this close up.  It was like a mirror or a
television set, conveying the image of the tree trunks of the Makai
forest beyond, dimly highlighted by the Makai sun, filtering through the
trees above.
   Toge reached forward to haul Kiroshu to his feet, keeping a close eye
on the portal and it's dull, yellow picture.  "Is that thing safe?"
   "Only one way to find out!"  Kiroshu smiled.  "We all go through,
ne?"
   "I don't like this idea," Bara spoke softly.  "Are you sure that's the
Makai?"
   "Yes, I'm sure,"  Kiroshu giggled.
   He huddled down to the ground, hunching like a cat ready to pounce
on an unsuspecting dinner.  His bushy, white tail flicked preditorily
back and forth, his body shifting under him to steady itself on his feet. 
Small muscles in his legs and arms tensed to the coming thrust, all at
once springing before in a great leap, the kit bound through the portal
and disappeared.
  Bara and Toge leaned forward as a collective, watching through the
portal as Kiroshu tumbled out into the forest beyond the swirl of
yellow, rolling in a mass of leaves before the little kit could correct. 
The kit picked himself to his feet and adjusted his clothing, brushing off
leaves and dirt.    Kiroshu's yellowed form turned and waved at the
portal, motioning the two thers to follow him.
   "Are you ready?" Toge asked his sister, taking her little hand.  "On
three we go, oaky?"  He waited patiently as she nodded back a bit
reluctantly, grapsing firmly at his hand.
   "One... two... .... THREE!"

(c) September 1997 by Jiminy Cricket Presses.