The Black Chimera
Kurama knew full well that it was dawn as his mind began to slowly
bring him from his sleep, logging back his eyes and body as he still sat
upright, leaning against the trunk of a large tree. The sweet smell of
dew on the morning leaves lingered on a light breeze, mingling with the
smell of a dying fire and the after affects of the night's rain. So it
seemed Yo-mawari and Kuronue had, after all, started a decent fire last
Thin fingers of golden sunlight gently caressed his face, leaving
dabbled spots of heat over his skin and down his clothing. The smell of
rain still hung heavily in the air, Kurama feeling the dampness still cold
in his clothing. His entire body felt chilled, save for a patch on his lap
and chest which still remained warm and dry - Hiei's resting place for
the previous night.
Kurama smiled at the thought, though he continued to feign sleeping,
enjoying the sensations around him. It was almost too precious, seeing
Hiei jealous over his old thieving partner last night, as if the youkai had
doubted the fact that he was Kurama's for the rest of their living lives,
and vice versa. Slowly and leisurely, Kurama tightened his arms
around the sleeping bundle in his arms as he still laid with his eyes
closed, feeling Hiei's soft, steady but shallow breaths under his arms.
His lover was still fast asleep.
A sharp, low grunt startled Kurama from his morning thinkings, the
large green eyes slowly blinking open to face the new day. Before him,
he could only see a silhouette of the figure that crouched before him,
the rays of the morning sun spearing off around the blackened image,
haloing the entire body in a brilliance of gold, splintered light. But still,
he could pick out the silhouette's features; Two thin, tattered wings
protruded from the figure's back to jut out over his shoulders, the
newly cut matted strands of long, black hair pulled back into it's usual
"Kuro," Kurama half yawned, further coveting the small hot bundle
on his lap, rocking it gently in his arms, nuzzling like a parent would to
a small child. "Awake early, ne? I figured you would sleep half the
"Yeah. But..." the youkai trailed off almost before he began, his bony
shoulders shrugging lightly under the hot, morning sun. Kuronue
seemed to be getting back to his old self, doing much of his old tricks
and what-not. His wings were still entirely to weak and fragile to be of
any use, and running was totally out of the question. But still, Kuronue
could leap from the bows of trees, his cat-like agility still in peak
performance as it ever was. Though being as thin and bony, now he
could glide much easier, exercising long-dormant muscles enough so he
could begin to get a handle back on his life.
Kurama leaned his head forward from the tree trunk in a futile
attempt to sit up, his back responding in jolts of stiff pain and cracking
joints. It was obvious that he would not get anywhere on his present
course of action, so instead, he chose to listen to their protests, leaning
back against the tree to settle in again. "But what?" the green eyes
narrowed coyly, watching the silhouette before him shift and bobble in
it's crouched position, Kuronue's balance still fighting with his mind to
reach a civil agreement.
"I want to see my daughter... after so many years. It's just," he trailed
off again and his silhouette rocked backwards onto his rear end,
sending the blinding rays of the sun down to beat mercilessly on
Kurama's weakened, morning eyes. "It's just, I'm not so sure still if she
deserves to see me this way. This is NOT who I am," he gestured
madly to his beaten, pale skin and matted hair. "I am not this man
here... I... I... gods, I look pathetic!!"
Kurama sighed heavily and chuckled, running a soft hand up Hiei's
back as the fire demon still sat sound asleep in his arms, wrapped
several times in his flat black cloak. "Kuro... she wouldn't care if you
looked like a half-dead, four headed donkey. I bet you anything she'll
be falling all over herself when her believed-to-be-dead father shows up
on her doorstep today. Don't WORRY, you sly fool!" With a large
grin, Kurama put an explanation on the statement by reaching out and
smacking his old partner on the knee, hard enough to leave a healthy,
red mark, but not nearly enough to do any harm.
His effort was rewarded with a low, warning grown from the winged
youkai, threatening reactions if the youko did that again. Nevertheless,
Kuronue still scooted back on his rear, out of arm-shot and sat defiantly
in the sunlight, basking silently.
Another familiar silhouette stepped into view, once again blocking
out the morning sun to ring themselves in a halo, almost unearthly
before him. It was a figure Kurama would see in the mirror every time
he looked, although that image would always be bled-out to black.
There was something utterly comforting in the solid expanse of cold,
heartless black eyes that would stare him back, pushing and shoving,
always just a bit taller than he himself was. Always, the feeling of utter
kinship followed Kurama's brother around, and it was that kinship that
Kurama had longed for all his life. Not just a familiar, smiling face...
but family. HIS family, his own blood. "And Kyoudai-kun," Kurama
managed easily without actually looking at the gold-rimmed figure.
"How was your night?"
"Wet," the other grumbled back, flipping back strands of his black
hair back over his shoulders as an exclamation to his point. Tiny water
droplets flung about from his tossing, dappling down onto Hiei and
Kurama, one of the drops landing square on the little demon's nose...
All movement froze from the brothers.
At the unwelcome disturbance, a single red eye popped lazily open
just in time to watch the water droplet spill off his nose to loose itself
somewhere off on his black, ragged cloak. Hiei always appeared as a
small, innocent child when asleep or curled in his lovers arms. The
ever-present aura of his snarling you-ki muted, his harsh, unblinking red
stare gone to melt his soft, small face into something totally alien to the
fire demon. Hiei had a heart, though he never showed it. And if he
knew how much his calmer side showed in his sleep, all bets were on
that the Koorime would never sleep again.
Half unconscious, Hiei raised a hand to dry the wet path on his nose,
clumsily wiping his face and eyes with the back of his hand. Other tiny
rain drops fell from their heights on his spiked hair to further
complicate his task, pattering lightly before running off. They only
served to further infuriate him, Hiei rubbing his hand quicker over his
face before Kurama's soft hand came in with a section of the black
cloak to help him out.
Quickly rid of the annoyance, Hiei snorted and swatted the other's
hand away, grumbling and growling deeply to himself before snuggling
deeper into Kurama's chest, rearranging locks of damp, red hair and
clothing to his liking. Further growling at his damp 'bed', Hiei curled
further into a ball on Kurama's lap, winding his hand up under the
button's of Kurama's top to warm flesh underneath.
Hiei's hands were damp and incredibly cold from the night's rain,
almost like moving points of ice on Kurama's fragile, soft skin. Careful
fingernails grated on his stomach as the hand moved, causing Kurama
to gasp suddenly, both at the fingernails and at the unexpected chill. It
didn't help the fact that he was already cold... The little fingers flexed
and wandered on their own over Kurama's warm skin, seeking out
warm spots that weren't corrupted by the wet shirt and cool morning
breeze - heading further and further down...
Kurama shifted a bit uneasily and grabbed Hiei's wandering hand
before it inched down any deeper, instead, pulling it out into the warm
sun to clasp it gently between his own hands. And Kuronue just
laughed, joined quickly by Yo-mawari's muffled chuckles.
The young human quickly turned wide green eyes to his long-lost
friend, cocking his head gently to the side, smiling slightly. "And
what's so funny, may I ask?"
"You, of course. All of you. This human body, your twin brother...
a male lover, let alone a fire demon..." Kuronue shook his head slowly
and chuckled, rising slowly from his seat on the ground. "You never
cease to amaze me, you know that."
"Thank you.. I think."
Hiei grumbled and nabbed his hand back, still half asleep, letting a
small, adorable yawn escape past his lips. Once again, he wiggled his
small hand under Kurama's shirt, once again, the youko quickly nabbing
it back, only to send Kuronue into another fit of hysterics.
Kurama frowned and watched his friend throw his head back to
laugh, his own brother still before him, chuckling softly in his aura of
golden light. "Youko, you're like a ningen parent!" the youkai laughed
back, trying to regain his balance on his weak body. "It wouldn't
surprise me if you two had yourself a child one of these days!"
"We do," Kurama added with a handsome smile.
"NANI YO! I was just kidding!"
Kuronue flailed for words, settling mostly at giving Kurama odd
looks from time to time, trying to piece together every little tidbit of
information. Indeed, he had been away from the forest for too long.
"Uh, four years, I think. He was still pretty young when we found
"Found him? So he's not biological?"
It was Kurama's turn to laugh now, quietly smiling and chuckling,
shaking his head slowly as he bundled Hiei again into his arms, wiggling
up from against the tree. "No. But nevertheless, little Kiro's our pride
and joy. Though I'm sure there's someplace in the Makai that could
breed us a child. Yomi did it..."
"Mukuro..." Hiei mumbled beneath him, again shifting and grumbling
as he struggled to get comfortable again. "Mukuro can do it."
"Hmm, is that a subtle hint, love?"
"Urusai yo, I'm sleeping. And don't you EVEN think about it, fox,"
the youkai mumbled, twisting around a bit more before drifting off
again. "All of you, shut up."
Both Kurama and Kuronue took it upon themselves to laugh
hysterically, the silhouette of Yo-mawari shrugging off in the sunlight
before joining in also.
"So. When's breakfast?" Kuronue chuckled. "I'm absolutely
"... and I keep telling you, this whole trip would go a LOT faster if
you would just let me carry you!"
"Attempt and die, youko!"
"Well, then stop complaining! Every 50 meters it's "Are we there yet"
or "I'm tired, can we rest?""
"Oi! I've been sitting on my ass for decades, excuse me!"
Hiei and Yo-mawari sighed as a single unit as the bickering before
them continued to escalate - again - following a good distance behind
the quarreling friends. Their trip from their campsite had been very
slow. The Makai forest was an unforgiving place to travelers of any
kind, let alone those who weren't in the best of shapes to begin with.
All along the way, Kuronue had needed to rest and regain his
composure as they trekked along, up hills, over rivers. Journeying by
foot on solid land was never one of Kuronue's strong points. During
the times when he and Kurama had gone on their thieving expeditions,
they would always use the trees as their mode of transportation. Each
had the agility of a cat, always bounding from tree branch to tree
branch, much in the way Hiei preferred to travel.
Instead, the entire company was forced to travel by the unforgiving
land and its many obstacles. And throughout the journey, Kurama and
Kuronue began to go more and more at each other's throats. It was a
type of argument Yo-mawari would often get into with Kurama; one
would begin picking, the other would pick back, and usually it ended
up with a huge brawl on the living room floor until either one gave in,
or Hiei reprimanded them both.
"... by the gods, can you complain," Kurama's voice sighed.
"Well excuse me, Mr. Congeniality!"
"Both of you...." Hiei interrupted quickly, catching each of the two
old partners with one of his flaming, red eyes. "Shut up before you
give me a headache. Then you'll REALLY have something to complain
Yo-mawari silently cheered on his meijin, sending out the mental
version of a raspberry to his brother.
Ahead, Kurama turned quickly, seconds before Yo-mawari caught a
mental punch in the gut. Even though he had been tensed for a
retaliation blow, the punch still managed to shuffle him back a few
paces, a few of the little shuriken on his shoulder toppling from their
perches to take refuge on Hiei's shoulder. They knew all to well what
Hiei made a move to warn them both, but to no avail as Yo-mawari
leapt from his position in a flash of black wind... a fraction later,
Kurama also leaping from his position.
"Nan da... where the hell'd they go?" Kuronue almost squeaked as he
looked about frantically for the two brothers.
Off a bit into the forest, a pair of yelling voices floated back to each
of their ears. Yelps of pain, cheers of triumph, playful insults...
"Kitsune-tachi no baka," Hiei grumble to himself, beginning to take
back up the path Kurama had been leading them. "Those two idiots
will catch up once they realize we're gone. I know the way from here.
Follow or stay, I don't really care what you do," he spoke lowly and
commanding, stalking past Kuronue.
Kuronue watched after the small youkai, specifically watching the shuriken
on his shoulders as they began to simultaneously glimmer. But he
followed, although a bit hesitantly, looking over his shoulder to the
shouts from beyond in the forest. "Will they be alright?"
Hiei slowed his pace deliberately to let the other catch up, quickly
glancing over his shoulder. "They do this all the time, unfortunately.
It's damned annoying too. They can fight over the littlest things for
"For hours?" Kuronue raised a thin, black eyebrow and looked back
into the forest behind him. "Hmph. Well, anyway, how long do you
suppose it will take us to reach my house?"
"Half an hour. Depending on how you can fair."
Behind them through the forest, the sound of sighing branches and
rustling leaves began to kick up, two separate shapes whisking from
tree to tree in quick pursuit. Purely on long-dormant instincts,
Kuronue turned and braced himself for an attack as Hiei calmly
continued on, hands deep within the pockets of his trowsers. "It's just
the youko's," he grumbled, a bit condescending. "They're catching up."
Sure enough, one of the figures resolved into Kurama, red hair
blazing like scarlet fire in the sunlight as he leapt from his tree... only to
be tackled flat by Yo-mawari a second later. The two wrestled again
on the forest floor, the black double catching his twin in a headlock,
sitting him up on the wet ground. "Take it back, Kyoudai-kun! Take it
Hiei grumbled and pulled his body to a steady halt, not bothering to
turn around to confront the quarreling twins. "Oi. If you two were any
"It's Kurama-kun's fault!"
"Shut up! I swear if I get a headache..." Hiei warned, moving his
hand out to grasp the hilt of his katana.
"Gomen nasai!" the brothers chimed in unison, still laughing and
"Hmm... maybe you should upgrade your travel time to an HOUR
and a half," Kuronue commented, shaking his head slowly at the two
humans, still sitting on the forest floor, still shoving and pulling hair.
"Like a couple of kids."
"You have no idea."
"I can't do it."
Kuronue broke from Kurama's side and lowered himself carefully
onto the stump of a fallen tree, the looming stone structure of his
enormous house about 10 meters off through the forest. "I just can't do
Kurama's leafy green eyes floated down to meet his friend's gaze
head-on, calm but commanding at the same time. "You CAN do this,
and you will. You've come this far..."
"Give me a minute to rest."
"You said that ten minutes ago, Kuro."
"So I need a few more," the other growled lowly, his deep, electric
blue eyes glaring back at the human form before him. "Quit being such
a... such a... just quit acting like my mother!"
"Grief, Kuro. You've never backed down from anything in your
"I forgot how annoying you can be at times. Especially in this
disgusting new body of yours. Of all the species, why the hell did you
choose human form?"
Kurama sighed and stood up slowly, as a flowing red figure, catching
just about ever hint of sunlight and glory he could. Indeed, Kuronue did think
Kurama's human form was gentle on the eyes, but humans had never
struck him as superior beings. They were slow and weak, not capable
of any type of the incredible feats that youkai were able to so easily
He thought the same of Yo-mawari, despite the fact that the
menacing katana and tiny band of shuriken-youkai always were at his
side. The few times Kuronue had come in contact with humans from
the Ningenkai, he became utterly sure that they were a useless breed of
animal, incapable of anything besides reproduction and death. Hard as
it seemed, he still had great difficulty accepting the fact that his old
partner and best friend was now half human... or worse.
Kuronue watched the redhead pace back to stand beside his
blackened twin and the small youkai that seemed to never leave his
side. They seemed like a fitting bunch, something completely unreal
about all of them that seemed to tie them all together.
Diverting his thoughts, Kuronue turned to look over his shoulder at
the looming stone house. It still looked as tall and commanding as he
had last seen it, the stone facade still shimmering in the sunlight tucked
away in a heavy ring of trees. The large windows in their stained wood
trims and shutters, the large oak front door, still as handsome as ever
after all these years... He frowned and turned on the log. The front
door was hanging wide open.
Nervously he scanned the woodlands with wide, blue eyes, catching
on every moving leaf, every scurrying squirrel. There was a small
figure moving about the flower beds that flanked the door, bend over
the marigolds and daffodils that shone still as bright as the evening sun.
He stood to his feet to get a better look, wide eyes searching. The
figure at the flower beds sat in a dark tan dress, several long braids of
black hair falling around thin shoulders. A pair of black wings sprouted
from her back, gently stretching under the noon sun.
Slowly and deftly, avoiding dry leaves and twigs, Kuronue began to
navigate through the last stretch of woods as fast as he could, finding
back his old strength and stalking skills. The last ten meters of forest
was like a quick jaunt for him, quickly spitting him out onto the dirt and
stone path that spiraled through the woods to the front door.
He froze just on the edge of the front walk, standing on the intricate
pattern of rocks and brickwork that marked the edge of the entry way,
just merely staring and watching the small girl as she tended the
flowers. He watched his daughter closely.
She was so grown up from the last time he had seen her, far from the
giggling little child he used to bounce on his knee and chase around the
house. She was much older now, much more mature looking...
She shifted a bit and paused in her gardening, one hand sliding from
the pick she had been using to wipe carefully on her dress. "I'm afraid
if you need a healer, you must go someplace else. I can't attend to you
today for various reasons. But if you like, I could put you up for the
night in the back cabin."
Kuronue still stood completely frozen, his mouth flopping like a fish
out of water as he struggled to find his words. His heart raced in his
chest, beating furiously and tiredly on his rib cage, causing his entire
chest to heave and sigh in rhythm with it. "Ha.. Hana-chan..."
Again the girl shifted, cocking her head to the side. Kuronue shuffled
to the side to avoid her gaze, inching along behind her even as she
stood up. In rings, he shuffled as she slowly turned, always staying just
at her back.
Kuraihana frowned a bit in confusion, only catching stray strands of
ragged black fabric on a tall figure. "Yo-mawari-kun. Is that you?" she
chuckled, stopping her circle, crossing her arms over her chest. "A bit
far from home again?" But oddly, the you-ki that hovered behind her
was not what she thought she had felt around Yo-mawari. She
recognized the feeling, but could not put a finger on it...
A light touch came to her shoulder, almost startling her. She looked
down to it, a very thin and bony pale hand...
She broke quickly and spun around to face the visitor...
Hiei shrugged slightly and wrinkled his nose, each of the two human
figures flanking him. "He can make his own decisions, but I for one am
not going to just stand around in the forest while Kuronue whines. I
have better things to do."
Kurama sighed lightly and laid a hand down on Hiei's shoulder, scooting
over one of the shuriken that still perched obediently. "Put yourself in
his shoes: If you were locked up for decades on end on the verge of
death and suddenly were given a new chance at life, what would you
Again, Hiei shrugged, turning his attention from Kurama in a very
plain 'leave me the hell alone' snort.
It was then that the scream pierced through the forest, high and
distinctly female, like Kurama had heard the young girls scream in the
theaters while watching horror movies. He was to his senses in an
As a collective, the three leapt off through the woods toward the
large stone house in their respective bursts of wind. Hiei, being the
swiftest of the three, was to the path, katana in hand well before he
actually confronted the scream and the dark figure on the path.
Kuraihana stood pale and tense, hands covering her mouth as she
stared in disbelief at the tall, bony figure that stood before her. She
neither moved or glanced to Hiei as the youkai slowly walked up to
flank them both, darting confused red eyes back and forth between the
two of them.
Kurama and Yo-mawari came swiftly next, both sliding to a halt as
one mind behind Kuraihana.
As best as he could, Kuronue faked a smiled and chuckled, pushing
stray, matted strands of his black hair out from before his face. "Do I
look THAT bad?"
Kuraihana just squeaked, a small feeble sound from her throat.
"Masaka... ... 'tousan..."
Kuronue slowly stepped forward and laid his thin hands on his
daughters shoulders, bringing his face into view so that mostly his eyes
were in view, blinding out the rest of his starved and mal-nourished
body. "Hello again, chibi-Hana. My, how you've grown up, my dear."
Silence filled the air for a handful of heartbeats, Kurama pulling Hiei
back out of the way from the reunion before them. Kuraihana seemed
completely in shock, still pale, just staring up into her fathers eyes. It
was Kuronue who made the first move, bending down slightly to wrap
his long arms around his daughter.
Slowly, Kuraihana did the same, her body gently starting to shake as
she began to sob into her father's shoulder, grasping at the tattered
fabric laying over his back. It had been so long since she had seen the
familiar blue eyes that belonged only to her father... a father she had
been told was dead for the past few decades.
© December 1997 by Jiminy Cricket Presses
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