A/N: Alright people, this is it! I hope this ending lives up to the expectations of all of my amazing readers. I love you all, and I hope I continue to see you guys over in "Crow's Call."
Ladyasile: thanks so much! I can't wait to see what you think for the end!
FantasyFanatic1: lol, I didn't go to either of my proms either. I don't really get the point of them (heh, I'm a bit like Yusuke, I guess :P) Anyway, hope you like the finale!
Happydemonhobo: well, here it is! Now I'm on the edge of my seat to see if you like it. : )
KyoHana: Thankyouthankyou! Well, you know what's coming… hope you like it as much as you did the first time around.
BlueUtopiah: Smiles mysteriously. Actually, in this chapter things start moving really fast. I hope the fast pace doesn't make it seem overly rushed or less dramatic… thanks for reviewing!
Well, I'm not going to be writing anything at the end ('cause it feels like it'll be more exciting that way :P ) so I just wanted to remind you that I live off your reviews. Well, that's all I can think to say. You guys rock!
And now on with the fic.
By: Yami no Kokoro
Keiko and I stand at the entrance to some large, crystal and sparkles, chandelier-lit ballroom place. My friend fits right in here, in a gorgeous golden dress with long white gloves that go to her elbows. She looks like the girl from that old cartoon . . . 'Beauty and the Beast.' Yeah, tell anyone I ever watched that and you'll get a fist full of Spirit Wave.
Anyway, I don't think I could feel more out of place. I'm at a giant party I don't wanna be at, with a bunch of people who either hate or fear me. Takanaka, the chaperone, is already casting me glares of warning from across the room.
Nope, I don't think that there's any place I'd less want to be tonight.
At least Kurama and Hiei aren't here.
No, wait. Knock on wood. Damn it, the walls are made of some fancy stonework. What else cures jinxes? Uh . . . rabbit feet? Horseshoes? Damn, there aren't any of those around here. I need something though, something to unjinx myself fast.
Because there he is, standing in front of a distant table, chatting with Yukina.
No way. Why would he be here? If I find some wood and knock on it will he disappear?
"Hey, Yusuke, what's wrong?"
He's dressed in a traditional black Chinese tunic, with silver vines encircling his wrists and going down the legs of matching pants.
A black rose.
His lips are smiling, but his eyes aren't sparkling with their usual light, and I have to wonder if he's faking the happiness. But . . . no, what does he have to be upset about? He made his choice; he has Hiei… doesn't he?
As though he can feel my eyes upon him he looks up, and freezes.
"Oh." Keiko murmurs from beside me. Yukina tries to see where Kurama's looking, and her garnet eyes, mirrors of her brothers', lock on me. For a moment the four of us stare at each other in a sort of a square eye-lock, before Kuwabara comes back to his date, making Yukina look away. Kurama continues to watch me with soft, sad eyes for a moment, before Keiko grabs my arm and begins to usher me in the other direction.
"Why is he here?" She whispers as we try to find our assigned table in the giant room.
"I don't know." My neck cranes back to catch sight of him again, and I see him turn to speak to Kuwabara quickly, as though to pretend that he wasn't looking after me.
He looks so sad . . .
And then it hits me.
Kurama feels the same way about Hiei that I do about him and, man, if he tried to kiss me now I don't think I'd be able to push him away despite how pissed I've been at him for the past week. But he did push Hiei away, for me.
Which means that I've gotta mean something to him, and the sadness in his eyes is for me. Whether or not he's with Hiei now I can't let go when I love him like this, and when I know there's at least a chance he could still feel something for me.
So when I find out that we've both been placed at table 12, the latecomers' table, I guess, I'm suddenly not so upset.
I can sense them both in there, in that building full of ningen teenagers.
Hn, I should have known that the only day this week the detective goes out save to his classes it would be to be with him. I shouldn't have waited for him to be alone and just gone to settle our differences in his house, despite the fact that his ningen mother was always there in front of the picture box.
They are together now, with only that girl who used to haunt the detective like a shadow between them.
The scene disturbs me as I watch it through the window, and not just because Yusuke is staring at my fox with pathetic puppy dog eyes. It looks familiar, like I should recognize this, or like I've seen it before.
But I cannot open my Jagan to look into these people's minds and get a clearer image. Not here. It seems that my heart is not the only one present in turmoil. Practically every ningen in this entire place is silently screaming in pain and anguish, anxiety and frustration. To bare their minds to me would be pure agony to put it lightly.
Do all ningen teenagers feel this way? Is my pain truly not so unfathomable after all?
Some pain, however, is louder than others. Of all of the screams I think I hear Kurama's the loudest.
I cast another glare at the spirit detective, who is now attempting to have a conversation with the girl without taking his eyes off of my kitsune. If he hadn't gotten involved in this than Kurama wouldn't need to be hurting, and he wouldn't have left me.
But my fox's screaming will silence soon enough. I just have to have a direct confrontation with the ningen who presumes to take Kurama away from me, and then he will be able to be happy again.
Reaching out carefully I touch the detective's mind, making sure not to intercept and alert Kurama or the oaf across the table drooling on my sister.
/Detective./ He looks away from my fox suddenly, and I see green eyes crease in a concern that nearly makes me nauseas. /Don't tell him I'm here. Let's settle this on our own. Now./
My adversary gives no response, but flashes a smile at his companions and quickly excuses himself, moving through the crowd of dancing ningen to the main door.
Within two minutes he has managed to force his way out the front doors, and wastes no time shouting my name angrily. I smirk as his ki feebly searches the air around him for my yoki. Of course it is a futile effort. Over the years Yusuke Urameshi may have improved his skill in many areas, but he still has about the spiritual awareness of an F-class.
"Damn it, Hiei!" He brushes his ungelled hair out of his face in a useless attempt to get it back into its usual 'battle mode.' It falls right back down and he growls in annoyance, though I doubt his anger is truly directed towards his hair. "Quit hiding! Or did you just decide that you're too big of a coward to face me and you'd rather run away for another half a year?"
I am in front of him in a second, smirking as he stumbles backward in surprise.
"I don't run." I correct him evenly as he struggles to regain his composure. My, the child looks angry.
"Right. Then why'd you leave Kurama? I get the whole job offer thing, but have you ever heard of a long-distance relationship? If you'd really wanted him then you coulda come back and visited. There were a dozen ways you could have worked things out, but you were too afraid of letting someone close. Admit it, Hiei, you got scared, spotted a chance, and bolted."
How is it possible for this boy to infuriate me even more? Do his usually incompetent words strike a chord . . . of truth?
"I'm back now." I reply coolly, but Yusuke crosses his arms and shakes his head in an act of foolish stubbornness.
"Too little too late. I love him, Hiei, and I'm not letting him go for you."
"Same goes for you. If you wanted him then you should have claimed him before I did."
His dark brown eyes widen in surprise, and he shakes his head slowly.
"Wow, Hiei, you really don't get it. Kurama was yours before I even met him."
Before he'd met him . . . but that had been years ago. Had Kurama had feelings for me for that long? Was there a deeper reason for the constant feuds between the detective and myself? Had this all begun long before I'd even realized it?
Either way, I win.
"If he and I were meant to be together for so long then you might as well give up now. You're obviously the third wheel in this relationship."
The blow hits me before I know it's coming, hard enough to send me sprawling backward, jaw throbbing at the impact.
"I'm not leaving until you're KOed on the concrete," he snarls, his face twisting in a dark anger he has never before directed my way.
I lick the blood beading on my lip away and grin, baring my teeth and growling.
"Do you really think that this fight will solve anything? That Kurama will choose to be with the winner?"
"Actually," he replies, shrugging out of his black tuxedo jacket, "no. He's got way higher standards than choosing the winner of some street brawl. Actually, I'm pretty sure he'd say that we're being idiots right now. But it'll make me feel a hell of a lot better to pound your face in."
"Then I'm sorry, but I'll have to disappoint."
"Sure." He tosses the extra garment away and loosens his stiff necktie. "That is what you're best at, isn't it?"
The katana at my side is forgotten as I launch myself forward, fist flying towards the detective's gut.
Maybe he's right about one thing: a good fight is just what I need.
My eyes shoot to the main doors as I sense two familiar ki signatures flare from the direction of the parking lot.
No . . . I knew that this night would mean trouble ever since I saw Yusuke standing with Keiko at the entrance an hour ago, but didn't think . . . I can't believe that Hiei's appeared here as well. Now their respective energies are reaching dangerously high levels, which must mean that they're in battle.
Quickly I excuse myself from the two giggling girls that have been flirting with me for the past five minutes, trying to get me to ask one of them to dance. Ignoring their crestfallen faces, I begin moving towards the exit.
From over the pounding music I hear Kuwabara shout my name, and turn to see both him and Yukina trying to get to the door as well. I nod to them, but don't wait for them to catch up. With the crowd they have to get through it could take as long as five minutes for them to get all the way to the door. Anyway, unless both of my ex-kois have decided to team up against an adversary with no spirit energy to speak of then what is going on outside is my problem to solve.
I need to stop them. Now.
In a few seconds I manage to shove my way rudely through the dancing students, and pull open the main doors, nearly running into two smoking teens - both of which (I can tell by an automatic ki scan) are unhealthily drunk as well. They both ignore me, staring - wide eyed - into the parking lot.
"Yo . . . always knew Urameshi wazza freak . . ." one drawls, squinting dizzily up ahead.
"Heh . . . I'm rootin' for tha short one." The other slurs back.
Normally I would be worried about two ningen seeing demons battle, even if they were too smashed to properly remember it in the morning, but right now they are the last things on my mind, because I look past them and see what they're speaking about.
Yusuke's dark hair has grown long and black tattoo lines cover his pale arms as he summons a powerful blue energy in the palm of his hands. He has morphed into his Majin form. Hiei hardly looks intimidated, however, as he glares at Raizen's heir with all three eyes, a poignant dark mist surrounding him.
I call out their names, pushing past the gaping addicts, but they don't respond, too deep in their battle and in the summoning of their powers to even hear my shouts.
This needs to be stopped, and quickly. I reach out with both hands, sending my spirit power to the lazy weeds growing through the concrete around them, ordering them to strengthen, grow, and snake around the two fighters. To restrain them before they kill each other.
My mouth goes dry, my heart nearly stopping in my chest. No . . . my power cannot still be gone, cannot abandon me when I need it the most. Without it I have no chance of slowing them down, catching their attention, of stopping this insanity before it goes too far.
Yusuke lets a malicious grin show, and Hiei bares his teeth in a growl.
"Feel the wrath of my rage, ningen." His voice is steady and even, so eerily out of place when coupled with the rage twisting his features. He hesitates for the barest instant before crying out an attack I've never seen before.
"Fist of the Forbidden Flame!" Black and violet energy flies forward from his outstretched palm, carrying with it a knee-buckling surge of energy, just as Yusuke retaliates with his own new move.
"Spirit Shards!" A hundred blue daggers of energy release from his palms, heading for Hiei. It doesn't take much to realize that with the power that these two are putting off these two attacks will most definitely kill one of them, possibly both.
Inari . . . this is it. The two people I love most in both worlds are about to kill each other… over me… and I can only stand on the sidelines and watch them, unable to summon anything to help.
No . . . my energy may not be responding to my calls, but there is one thing I still have that can act as a shield.
Time seems to slow as I make a decision, allowing legs to bend and release with a speed beyond any I had ever before managed as I spring forward, dodging into the way of the two clashing energies.
Finally they notice my presence, but far too late. Hiei rushes forward as though to shove me out of the way of the impact, but at that instant both powers collide with my body, the most deadly attacks of two S-class demons nearly shattering me completely.
Someone catches me as I crumple, and I realize dimly through the shock that it's my garnet-eyed koorime belatedly reaching my side. He lowers me to the ground as Yusuke races up and collapses to his knees, tears streaming down his cheeks as he slowly reverts to his human form.
Hiei's red eyes are wet too as he holds me, rocking my body with the motion of a nervous panic. I can tell because my head is bobbing a bit with the motion. They both look horrified. But at least I don't seem to be hurting at all. In fact, I can't feel much of anything besides a jagged cut across my left cheek.
And Hiei and Yusuke are both safe now. That's good. It's all that matters, really.
I try to move my hand, or to sit up and let them know that I feel fine, they don't need to be crying… but for some reason I can't seem to move. I must be tired, I suppose. It has been a very stressful week. But because I'm so tired I can't seem to show Yusuke and Hiei that I'm alright. They probably think that something's really wrong with me, just lying here like this.
"I'm sorry." My voice comes out a cracked whisper that makes Yusuke cry even harder and Hiei blink furiously.
"Oh, gods, what are you sorry for, kit? Can y- can you move? Gods, I'm so sorry." Yusuke is on the verge of babbling as he touches my cheek gently, making the cut sting. Hiei's lip trembles, his composure almost shattered as he murmurs reassuringly,
"It's alright, fox. It's going to be alright. Yukina's right inside, I just told her to come quickly. You're going to be alright."
I blink at him, suddenly realizing just how tired I am when it's hard to reopen my eyes. Of course I'm alright . . . well, except for the cut on my cheek, but that hardly needs Yukina's immediate attention. Everything else feels fine - there's no pain anywhere at all.
"Hiei, can we do anything until she gets here?" My koorime glances away from me, locking eyes with Yusuke and shaking his head gravely. "S-so what do you think is wrong with him?"
"He's either going into some kind of shock or . . ." Hiei trails off, then glances down at me and picks up again, "or his spine . . ." My detective takes in a sharp gasp.
"Oh . . . oh gods . . . Hiei, we . . ."
It's nice to see them getting along again, even if it is over something as silly as being worried if I'm alright. I was so afraid that someone might end up getting killed when they were fighting before. I'm glad I could stop it.
I blink again heavily, before looking back at them through half-lidded eyes. They're both staring down at me with something resembling terror in their gazes.
"Just stay conscious, fox."
"Damn it, where's Yukina?!"
I don't think I can stay conscious much longer, Hiei, I'm sorry. Stopping your fight took a lot more out of me than I'd thought it would. You can just wake me up when Yukina comes, even though I'm sure I don't need healing.
"Tired . . ." is all I can manage out loud, and in that same weak croak of a whisper as well. Something seems to be wrong with my voice. My lungs are tight, and feel wet somehow… it's hard to speak…
"No! No, don't even think about it, Kurama."
Sorry, Yusuke. The thought of me getting some rest seems to really be bothering you, but I'm so exhausted, and I do think I deserve a rest after all that the three of us went through this past week.
"S-sorry." I whisper again, smiling softly at the both of them, before my eyes drift shut. I just need a short nap, and then I'll be ok. Breathing seems like a lot of trouble for some reason, as though I've dunked my head under water and am trying to inhale.
Maybe they're right. Yukina should have a look at me after all.
But after I get some rest.
No, this can't be happening. Gods, please tell me that this isn't happening.
Kurama is dying slowly in Hiei's arms. I can feel his yoki fading away and all I can do is kneel helplessly beside him, waiting for Yukina to force her way outside and stop my rose from choking on the blood pouring into his pierced lungs.
Hiei is, if possible, paler than Kurama as he kneels there, rocking him softly in his arms. A small pile of black gems are accumulating on his lap, and I don't think he even notices that he's shedding them. I've never seen Hiei this way before, and I can tell that he's going as crazy as I am, panic getting worse with every second that passes without his sister's arrival, every second that Kurama slips further and further beyond hope of recovery.
No, panic doesn't even begin to describe it. I can barely breathe. I want to grab Kurama and hold him close, begging for forgiveness. I want to shake him to keep him awake, to keep him from falling away from me forever. But I can't breathe. I can't move. I'm losing him…
His life is beyond critically low now. If I wasn't constantly reaching out to feel snatches of his yoki trace I would say he was dead.
And then Hiei looks up to me, eyes glistening in the street lamp's light as he whispers, "His screaming stopped."
The comment makes no sense to me until I reach out to touch Kurama's soothing energy again, and find nothing.
No. No, gods, no.
I press my hand to my forehead, forcing back a sob, and freeze as I feel a sticky red fluid matting my hair down. The blood. The blood from Kurama's cheek. And the feel of it brings back a hurricane of horrible memories that I can't believe I forgot until now.
...blood-red rain begins to fall from the heavens, matting my hair against my forehead.
A dragon appears and tries to snatch the rose from my grasp . . .
The rose pricks me . . .
It hits the puddle and begins to sink quickly, while I only stand and watch in horror.
The dream. That dream I'd had exactly one week ago, last Friday. It had told me everything that was going to happen. It had somehow warned me.
I'd just been too thickheaded to understand the message.
And because of my ignorance Kurama is dead.
Kurama is dead…
The screaming stopped. Kurama's turmoiled heart is now silent and at peace, just like I'd promised it would be.
The thought only hurts me more.
"Hiei! Yusuke!" My sister's cry is ignored as I continue to rock my fox safely in my arms.
I could have stopped this. He'd asked me to leave, but I'd stayed and I'd fought, and now he's just… gone. Killed by my own energy.
"Shh!" I shoot my sister a glare, staring coldly through the tears. "He said he wanted rest. You have to be quiet."
I'm making no sense, I know that. I'm not acting like myself… but who is there left to be now that Kurama is gone? Now that my love was killed by my own twisted jealousy?
I saw this night in my dream. I saw the ningen dancing. I saw the rising blood at their feet. I saw Kurama's bleeding hearts in the garden, symbolizing his sorrow. I saw the fox drowning in it, and yet I selfishly ignored his pain.
Of course the Forbidden Child would end up destroying the only thing that he cherished.
From beside me I hear the detective's soft sobs, and I tilt my head slowly to look at him.
He cherished Kurama as well, and because neither of us could stand to be without him we both lost him forever.
We are both alone.
For the first time, I think, I understand him.
I stand at the doorway to the party, gaping. Pounding music rings behind me, a haunting silence up ahead.
Three people kneel around one body, tears streaming down their cheeks and I watch, unable to move to join them.
My sweet love, Yukina, must have arrived too late to save him. I knew she would. I could feel Kurama's life-force fading even as I forced my way past my Professor Akashi, who'd been threatening something about not letting me pass science if I got into any more fights. School… like that matters right now.
Yukina kneels now in the asphalt, hands clasped, face down. I want to go to her, but I'm still frozen, eyes moving between Urameshi and Hiei.
The fire demon is holding Kurama's broken form, rocking slowly with it, and for some reason the same type of solid tears Yukina cries are rolling down his cheeks.
Yusuke is nearly crumpled in on himself, body wracking with quiet sobs.
Maybe it's just the shock of what's happened messing with my brain, but suddenly they look exactly the same in my eyes.
Despite all their differences they're now bound together by guilt and by grief.
In this moment, at least, they are brothers.