**Standard disclaimers apply. Yo-mawari's mine!**
Warning: This piece contains the following: Yaoi, yaoi/lemon
Chapter 2: The Dream-Path Walked Again
"Hiei?" The soft voice floated as a gentle wind to the youkai that
laid silently atop Kurama's bare chest, almond eyes sliding lazily open
to meet up with the soft words. They floated in and around him, all
with a life of their own, caressing and smoothing over his lazy frame.
The little youkai propped his chin on a fist, glinting ruby eyes up from
under his stringy, black bangs that fell from the white starburst at his
forehead, exploding like an internal extension of the complexity that
inhabited his mind. For just a second, Hiei let his gaze wander
through the luscious greenery of his lovers eyes, watching the light
from the open window glisten off them playfully to shoot back into
his own, vermillion glare.
"Nani?" Hiei finally answered back after his wanderings, breaking
the silence and soft passion of Kurama's single word with the cold,
harsh knives of his own. He sighed a bit and closed his eyes,
scowling inwardly at the tension and disgust he still held in his voice
from memories of past battles. "Never mind, I think I know what
you're going to ask."
Kurama's eyes widened and he struggled to sit up a bit against
Hiei's soft weight, raising his head to prop a pillow under it. "What?"
Hiei slid one eye open and glared the human down, nestling down
further into Kurama's chest to be more eye-to-eye. "I know what you
wanted to ask... you want to go to the Makai Treasure House and
look for Kuronue... or whatever's left of him. Correct?"
Kurama tried his best not to smile, though in his mind, the
statement struck a painful blow close to home, easily shooting down
the smile. Without even realizing it, that was precisely what he
wanted to do... to search out any and all evidence of his past partner,
whether it meant bad news (which was all he expected), or a hint of
good news. In his mind, he knew Kuronue couldn't possibly still be
But what was he thinking? Kuronue was always a fighter,
stretching his life to the limits he could through every mission. If
there was the smallest possibility that the youkai could have lived,
Kuronue would have found it. Kurama had complete confidence in
So perhaps there was hope, he smiled, rolling over onto Hiei and
curling him up into his chest. Slowly, he nestled his nose down into
the spiky black hair, closing down his eyes as rough, unforgiving
splinters of the hair brushed and poked at his fine skin. The smell of
the Makai forest drifted to his nose up from the fragment trapped in
the black hair, capturing the pureness and sanctity the seemingly
morbid forest always portrayed. It sparked the nightmare back into
action... Kuronue's bone chilling screams echoing back to his mind
like a phantasmal call.... The thin body shuddered, curling more
around Hiei, pulling the little body tightly into his chest.
"Kurama..." Hiei whispered, nuzzling into Kurama's neck. "Why
don't we just get 'Wari and go? Obviously you're never going to rest
until you know the truth, I know you too well."
Morning cartoons bleeped back at Yo-mawari and his little
audience of tiny, shuriken-youkai, glimmering and conversing mentally
among themselves and their master, sat comfortably on a pillow
Idiotic talk shows...
You don't wanna know!
"Grief, ningen programming is terrible!" Yo-mawari whined,
flipping again through the channels... not like he even HAD television back
in yomatsu. He wielded the remote like a
child with his father's gun, taking aim at the heads and noses of the
various personalities and oddly familiar cartoon characters that
laughed back at him. "Humans..."
"Then turn it off," a dark voice grumbled behind him, chilling his
blood cold in an instant. Even the personalities on the TV seemed to
shudder under the voice, racking and clawing at Yo-mawari's back
before the WatchMan could successfully place a face to the tone.
"Ohayo gozaimasu, Meijin-san," he whispered a bit sheepishly, as if
in the presence of a much higher and lawful body than his own. If
times called, he felt he would kneel on the floor and bow... there was
something oddly black and commanding in that voice this morning
that could have made Yo-mawari run himself through on his own
blade if the voice of his master so commanded.
Hiei padded slowly across the kitchen, dressed in his usual black
trousers and cloak, Kurama moping behind him in a loose shirt and
jeans. They seemed like a two-person funeral procession, Hiei even
more stoic and rigid than usual, Kurama poised on the edge of just
falling to pieces. His regal eyes followed Hiei's movement for a few
seconds like a lifeline, daring to break only momentarily to navigate
his tall, slender figure about obstacles on his way to the kitchen.
"So, what's going on, Meijin-san?" Yo-mawari dared to speak,
feeling the words tighten through his throat before they could escape
into meaningful sound. For a moment, he thought to link to Kurama,
just to ask if he was okay... but from the languid movements and
glossed eyes of his twin, he thought it best to leave well-enough
"We're going to the Makai," Hiei announced easily, pouring himself
a glass of water from a large, crystalline pitcher. "We're on a
mission of our own now."
Kurama raised a steaming glass of coffee to his lips, blowing the
curls of white steam out to disappear in the air of the apartment. The
steam rose and massed like a fogged-ridden morning... a stabbing
reminder to the mists that black-haired, blue-eyes partner of his
would surround himself in, creating his illusions through the network
of finely tuned scythes. "Kuronue," he spoke softly, sipping, cringing
as the caffeinated drink burnt his tender lips. "We're looking for
Yo-mawari adjusted on the pillow, commanding the shuriken onto
his shoulder. Intentionally, he let the call float to Kurama's mind as a
gentle tug that possibly could pass off as an accident. Through the
corner of his eye as Yo-mawari watched the shuriken take position
on his shoulder, he saw his brother's attention turn fully down to him,
the coffee steaming directly under his mouth, enveloping his face.
:Kurama... I just want you to know that I'm here for you no matter
what, : he whispered gently, sending out a soft hug to press on
: Thank you. : was all he received back, watching forlornly as
Kurama dumped the rest of his coffee down the sink.
"When do we leave?" Yo-mawari rose to his feet, balancing
expertly on the top of the cushion, standing his tall frame up to it's
full height, ready for battle.
"Now," Kurama said with a nod. He left no room for discussion.
All too familiar.
The terrain... it was all too terrifying, too familiar.
It was all Kurama could do to keep from becoming physically ill at
the sights of all the familiar land marks and swaying foliage that had
been burned into his mind as a death memento on that evening so
long ago. Discarded bamboo spears still peppered the ground as they
made their way through the forest, moss and fungus growing off
them like a living cover to keep them from Kurama's view.
Along side him, the taller, youko frame of Yo-mawari glimmered
silver as he walked in the sun, the menacing katana following only a
few inches off the ground before him, seemingly scanning the terrain.
The contrasting dark, metallic glimmers of the tiny shuriken were
nearly hidden from all view in the white-cotton folds of the tunic he
now wore, white and brilliant, contrasting his normally black garb.
And between the two of them, eyes set straight ahead towards their
destination, was Hiei, nearly figureless under the bulky black cloak
and white scarf, draping haphazardly over his body. His weapon was
well hidden, the vague outline of his arms barely visible under the
black fabric as he walked, almost double-pace to keep up with the
Youko and the redhead.
Before them, the bamboo spears were steadily becoming more and
more densely populated, the vague hint of a make-shift confinement
cell made from the spears just visible before them. Kurama's eyes
searched it out and weeded it from the rest of the bamboo, his pace
quickening in eagerness and dead.
Beside him, sensing the eagerness, Yo-mawari broke formation
and let the human body pass before him, to squeeze through the
narrow openings. The glint of the rich red hair through the faded
yellow-green of the forest made his mind wince, his consciousness
beginning to put together piece by piece what could have happened
here. Either way he could come up with was an unpleasant and
continually haunting vision he strived to ignore.
Yo-mawari stumbled a bit, catching himself on the tip of the katana
to steady his disobedient feet through his daydreaming. He could
sense Hiei jerk an eye to him quickly, checking on his progress as if
to assure himself the youko that meant the world to Kurama was still
alive. Tension always built when the youko caught rare glimpses of
the twin, always the images of that tall, glaring figure that had tried
so hard to kill him months ago popping back to haunt him. Clear,
vivid pictures of the harm and cruelty that smirked at him behind the
black eyes could be seen clearly in the Youko form, menacing Hiei
before the truth finally came out... a truth he though he would regret
for the rest of his life.
Yet here he was, emotionally tied not only to that deadly figure, so
much like Kurama in every aspect, but to the very heritage and life
behind him. He had remembered the first night Yo-mawari had
returned to Yomatsu Hara-sakai, Hiei meeting and drilling him for
hours on end, at each turn threatening to beat him senseless at the
explanations, what he took as lies. He had wanted the man dead,
never again to appear, mocking Kurama's perfect form and features
with the blackness that surrounded him. He had wanted him dead
until he had learned the truth behind those words. Until he saw how
Kurama bonded to the brother he had been threatened about by his
parents for so long, he saw how the similarities coalesced into a
"Meijin-san... Kore wa...!" Yo-mawari's sudden deep and sultry
voice whispered down to him, startling Hiei out of his daydreaming.
Red eyes popped back to existence and he found himself staring at an
age-worn prison of spears, sticking and rotting out of the ground in a
macabre that he had never seen before. Dried and cracked blood had
long since petrified after being dripped down some of the spears, the
over head sun suddenly choked by clouds as if in mourning of the
gruesome event that Kurama had to witness...
Hiei darted his eyes from the massive cell, searching out quickly
around the area.... until the shimmer of red hair peaked around one of
the sphere, the green eyes wide and full of what looked like
excitement, completely alien to the gruesome surroundings they were
Yo-mawari was frozen, golden eyes staring unbelievably back to
the horror that must have befallen here, blocking out Kurama as he
tried to explain... things he did NOT want to hear.
"Hiei, come here," Kurama whispered, curling a slender finger
towards him, millions of out-of-place emotions flickering o his face.
Kurama was actually smiling.
"Nani?" Hiei hissed, stepping lightly past the Youko to kneel at
Kurama's side, his finger brushing for just a moment to Kurama's
shoulder. "Are you alright? Have you lost your mind or something?"
"No!" Kurama snorted, chuckling, picking up an old piece of black
cloth. "You see this? Part of Kuronue's cloak."
"Hn, could be anyone's."
"Nope... " he turned it over carefully, cuddling it in his hands like
fine glass, as if it could shatter into a million unrecoverable pieces.
Through the underside, a thin, glimmering black thread weaved
through it in intricate patterns, winking in the loss of sunlight as if it
was as bright as day. "Beautiful, ne?" Kurama spoke softly. "He had
the cloak specially made to be reversible... turning it inside out in
daylight. In the sun, he passed as a glimmering ray of sunshine,
barely visible... in the shadows, " he turned the cloth over carefully,
the strange shinning beauty swallowed in a wave of flat, almost
devouring black, "he could hide under any light or lack of."
Hiei smirked softly, sitting back on his haunches, tossing a quick
glance to Yo-mawari. The Youko was lightly touching the veins that
circled about the bamboo, tracing patters, holding conversations with
the shuriken on his shoulder. "Hn, so? A piece of fabric," he turned
his gaze back down to the cloth and poked at it. "Doesn't mean
"Yes it does. Here... feel!" Kurama ushered the black cloth into
Hiei's hands carefully, looking back with wide eyes to his youkai
Hiei frowned. The cloth settled unnaturally in his hand, molding
down to conform to his fingers as if it lived and breathed. It couldn't
be alive! It was a stupid piece of cloth!
Oddly, you-ki lightly coursed through the fabric, a silent, almost
undetectable flow unless you were specifically looking for oddities in
the fabric. Hiei placed it to the odd feeling he got when he first
touched one of Yo-mawari's shuriken.. though this was completely
different, but the same...
"Hiei..." Kurama whispered, laying a hand over the fabric.
Together, they felt it shift and move, repositioning itself to hug both
sets of hands at the same time. "Do you know what this means?"
The green eyes flashed an astoundingly bright shade of green,
blowing into a foresty explosion out from his face. "Hiei, Kuronue's
"Nani! From a stupid piece of fabric! Kurama, maybe this wasn't
such a good idea in the first place!"
"Hiei, no listen to me! This fabric.. it's part of Kuronue's illusions.
He had his own hair woven into the fabric, each piece carrying some
of his you-ki to trap itself forever within this fabric."
"Kurama you're crazy!"
"NO! Listen to me! The you-ki you're feeling is Kuronue's you-
ki... after all this time I can remember it now. I can't explain to you
easily what I'm getting at her, but if his ki is still alive in the fabric, it
has to still be alive in him! Kuronue's alive!"
Hiei rose quickly to his feet to tower above Kurama, glaring back
down on him, the deep frown laying trenches through his skin and
facial features. "Kurama... you're linking anything you possibly can
to try to find some thread of hope that he's still alive. A possessed
shred of cloth that could have come from ANYONE is no evidence
of anything! You can't judge the scale of a mountain by a random
rock you pick off the ground."
Kurama pocketed the shred of fabric into the folds of his silk pants
and rose swiftly to his feet, meeting Hiei's glare with an equally hot
and threatening one. "I am not crazy and I am NOT delusional. I'm
going to the Treasure House and I am searching Kuronue out
whether you're helping me or not! You can't stop me!"
Kurama made a move to turn, stopped cold by Hiei's grip firmly at
his arm, stronger than any other grip he had ever felt Hiei lay onto
him. It hurt. Again, the two glared, only Hiei's softened back,
retreating under Kurama's suddenly icy stare that threatened to pound
holes in whoever tried to get in his way. "Kurama... " Hiei trailed of
and lightened the grip, rubbing his thumb up and down the warm
flesh underneath. "You can't go alone. Even though this seems so
utterly ludicrous, I'm by your side and always will be. You have to
calm down and take this cautiously. If he IS alive, there's no telling
what they've done to him. And if they've tortured him to the brink of
all humanity, there is nothing that will stop them from doing the same
"So listen good, fox. We all take this one step at a time. If we run
in there half-cocked we'll all be beat down before we've even begun
to fight. I swear to the gods, Kurama, if anything were to ever
happen to you I would not forgive myself."
"Hiei..." Kurama breathed the word as if it was the finest porcelain,
reaching forward to take the youkai tightly into his arms, holding him
close incase he was to be swept away if he didn't.
Aside from him, the taller figure of Youko Yo-mawari slid up
silently, scanning back behind them, every instinct he had learned as
being a WatchMan of the Boarders springing up to him, protecting
them all. He seemed nervous, golden eyes darting back and forth
among his brother and master, the grotesque make-shift prison, and
the tall iron doors to the Makai Treasure House just visible through
"One step at a time," Kurama agreed, releasing Hiei to look back at
his brother. "Then first off, we get into the Treasure House
"We need to find the dungeons. That could be our biggest
obstacle." Kurama smiled vainly and flipped a lock, tossing it over his
shoulder. His poise suggested a deep pride in himself, a knowledge
that no one else around him could possess. "I know that place by
heart, we've raided it too many times to count. The masters of the
House had not changed their plans or techniques in the 10 years that
Kuronue and I had raided it... and even if they HAVE tried to up
their defenses, I can get around them easily."
"Awfully confident, fox," Hiei tossed back a portion of the black
cloak to bring out the double-edged katana. "Then quit jabbin' and
lead the way."
© September 1997 by Jiminy Cricket Presses
On to Chapter 3