It was Kazuma who boomed first. "So, Urameshi, that's your new girl?" he questioned loudly from where he was sitting beside Yukina. Michiko blushed. Yusuke gave him a stiff look. Yukina nudged at Kazuma to shut up.
One by one, Yusuke introduced Michiko to the people in the temple. Botan, the blue-haired girl who was in jeans, laughing with Miyuki, Koenma, her boss, Shuichi Minamino, the I-know - it - all model student, Kazuma, the big carrot top bastard and his sister Shizuru who was always busy smoking, Yukina, the green haired cute little girl , who was also Kazuma's love.
"What is your name again?" Kurama asked politely before stepping out of the temple.
"Michiko Takeda," she answered , as equally polite as possible bowing her head. Kurama noddded, then went out.
Shizuru looked thoughtful, as though thinking hard. "Of what relation are you to Akira Takeda, you know, the businessman --?"
Michiko flushed even more , looking down at her lap. "Uh, I'm his daughter."
"Oh," Shizuru mumbled. After some time, Shizuru started a conversation again, which Michiko found easy to go along with. Even most of the people joined the conversation.
"How did you get to know Yyusuke, huh, Michiko?" Botan asked. Michiko caught Miyuki's golden eyes. The latter was beaming mischievously. Michiko reddened, but narrated the whole incident straightforwardly.
A smile spread on Botan's lips. Shizuru
clapped her hands together. Time ran so swiftly that Michiko barely noticed
it was time for her to go. Bowing politely to them, she and Yusuke left.
Kurama sat under the tree, thinking
to himself. Hiei watched him closely with a hint of affection as he sat
on one of the branches of the verdant tree, unnoticed by the so-called
model student, Shuichi Minamino. He grunted a little "hn" but cursed himself
when he realized he might endanger himself from getting caught by Kurama's
emerald eyes. It was as he had expected. The observant Kurama looked up
narrowing his eyes at him and beamed when he saw a black figure scramble
hurriedly off his position skipping from one tree to another in a speed
almost invisible to the eyes . Kurama retained his beam, still staring
up, somewhat hoping Hiei would return.
"What are you staring up there?" a sardonic voice asked . Kurama spun his head to the direction of the voice to see the black figure leaning on a tree, his arms crossed.
"You, Hiei. I'm looking for you," the sitting lad answered patiently.
"Baka. Why look up there when I'm here?" Kurama heard him grumble. Kurama didn't react to his friend's fiery reply. It was so common for Hiei to behave that way. Some just things *don't* change. Still, Kurama was able to hear the affection in Hiei's cold voice.
Could it be-- ??????!
"What brought you here, Hiei?" Kurama went on merrily, slumping his elbow over a knee. "You were with that Sakuwa girl again, huh?" He grinned even wider, meaning to wipe the harsh tone off Hiei's voice.
"Hn" was the respond Kurama received .
"I was just wondering --" Kurama started again, despite the assumption that Hiei wouldn't reply again..
"Kurama, what's going on between that vampire and you?" the other guy asked frankly.
Kurama looked up at him, raising a brow in astonishment. "Nothing. Why?"
Hiei made a face to himself, griping curses. Kurama strained his ears to listen. He caught something like "kill" and was not a bit surprised. He didn't know if Hiei believed him, but the truth shall always find its way out. "What is it, Hiei? Mind telling me?"
"Nothing. I just have a bad feeling about her," he muttered with a mark of disgust. The other fellow bit his lower lip hesitantly. He didn't know whether to tell Hiei about the deal he had with Yomi. Hiei was, after all, his friend. There were times that they had shared more than what usual friendship had to extend. An affinity which went against the winds of reality and sanity. Hidden behind the curtains of lies. Hidden from the vindictive eyes of the world . It all had to stop. So sad. Why did good things have end? Most of the good things in life had to be doomed by fear or shame or both. Or was it the unavoidable circumstances that life bestowed? Or was it destiny? Were they just unfortunate creatures, helpless against the wings of time? Was it written in their palms? Hn. They should have known. It was bitter. But he didn't want it to happen again. Once was enough. By now , they should have known how to deal with this for the time had fostered them in its hands. No. I shouldn't tell him. I don't want to get Hiei in this. This is all my business. He knew when he needed a comrade or when he had to face things alone.
"Don't you worry too much , Hiei," Kurama assured in a sound voice. He was a good liar. Pretty good one. "I'll take care of her myself." He heard but a faint "Hn" as a reply. Hiei had begun to strode off quietly. "Hiei," Kurama called on calmly. Hiei spun around, half of his body already eaten in the darkness. "Don't get into this one, OK?" The fellow seemed to shrug, but Kurama didn't trust his shrug. "I want your word, Hiei. Promise me to leave this thing alone. Hiei?"
There was no answer. Kurama repeated his call, more seriously this time.
"You get it," he heard after a long time. Kurama caught something from his voice.
Not all things had to be doomed by
fear or shame. There are things that just *don't* change.
Michiko strode lazily to her next
class. The morning had been a great one, if her father had not barged in
the temple and threatened to sue the kind woman Genkai who had informed
him about Michiko's whereabouts. He was hot-tempered, really mad, didn't
even call the driver and had gone all by himself. Furiously, he dragged
Michiko out of the temple without even saying any thank you or apology
to the people deserving it. She tried turning back, saying her apologies
and recognition , feeling much shame of her father's misbehavior.
She didn't feel like going home yet, but she didn't want to anger her dad even more.
Her father had shouted and slammed
the steering wheel furiously when they got in to the car.
"I am suing them," he had said firmly. He clenched the steering wheel hard that his knuckles turned white. He was very mad that he drove the car by himself and didn't have and driver went with him.
"No, dad. You can't," she had protested meekly. She was still shocked of what had happened the day before. The monsters. They were still clear in her mind. She held her head, her eyes shut. "You can't, dad," she objected sheepishly. They argued for a while, then her dad gave in, shaking his head. His father grumbled curses under his breath, throwing up his hands in disbelief . The traffic light turned red. He kicked the brakes angrily, drumming his fingers against the steering wheel. Michiko turned to him pleadingly." Please, dad. Promise me not to sue them."
He had turned to her, looking at her doubtfully. Michiko leaned her head against his arm. He laughed, and put an arm around her, saying, "All right, all right. You won, Michiko. "
She had leaned back to her seat and sighed. Her dad was really a kind man, but with a fiery temper when it comes to the safety of his daughter. She appreciated his worrying, but was a little annoyed. He had always regarded her as a child and never considered she could make her own decisions by now. I am far older than you, dad, she thought to herself. The thought made her smile, at the same time, made her feel forlorn. She had gotten her way, and was driving back to her glamorous manor before going to school . Yet, she was not happy. Material things failed to make her happy now. She missed Hiro.
She pondered on her thoughts as she walked to her next class, lifting her head from her hand. She didn't feel like attending another class. She needed a break. It didn't make any sense at all for her attention either sailed away or was menaced by the demons she had encountered. She spun on her heels and went to the other directions, away from the mob of students crowding the hall busily. She knew she had to sort out herself first. Maybe she should cut classes. Just this once.
She strode to a tree and sat under its shade. Hiro. What a beautiful name. She shut her eyes for a moment, canting against the tree. Her flaxen hair fell loosely on her shoulders as a smile coated in her cherry lips. Thoughts of Hiro sent a mixture of guilt and sadness to her, that was why she hated thinking about him. However, she decided to be brave and think about him again. She couldn't help it. Maybe she was just making herself suffer. If that was the case, then she better be able to ease the pain herself. It did not bother her so much anymore. Maybe she was just giving herself a hard time ? After she saw how Miyuki deal with her problems......? The pain was decreasing. Gradually. She opened her eyes and beamed when she saw Hiro sitting next to her, smiling back. It was all in her mind, that was why it was real. He leaned forward to brush the hair that played along her cheeks. Her eyes cleared. She gasped. "Yusuke?" She made a face to herself. She could never get to forget that name. It was music for her ears . There was something with that guy. That- that - that guy with slick black hair and brown eyes -- the owner of the name ?! She just wasn't sure what.
"Yeah, it's me," Yusuke answered simply, grinning naughtily. He lied down on the grass, keeping both arms crossed beneath his head.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, pulling her knees to her chest. They just remained there for a long time wordlessly. An answer need not be words. It could be something else. Michiko kept the smile in her face. But she realized something. The pain was not decreasing at all. It was increasing instead. But she was sick and tired of being miserable. At least, the incident had brought one good thing -- she met that guy -- what's his name again ? Ah, Yusuke. It was not all that bad. She should stop whimpering of the bad things and look at the brighter side.
"You're sad ," he commented suddenly.
She cycled to his direction, a bit surprised. She was already trying to hide her anguish, yet he knew. "How did you know?" she whispered ethereally.
He didn't reply as though he did not
hear anything. She felt a hot tear trickle down her cheek again. It was
not Hiro. It was still painful. She should stop this pretenses and make-believe.
It was leading her nowhere. Miyuki had her ways. She also had hers. She
wiped the tear quickly before Yusuke had any chances of seeing it. " I
am sad," she admitted morosely, burying her face in her arms.
Twelve centuries ago, she was a lover of Hiro, a general of Lord Kentaro. Known all over Makai for being a great warrior that he was, he brought victories and fame to the East Makai. He was one of the prominent warriors , crowned and famed as the dazzling jewel of Nether land , respected and feared as the greatest of Lord Kentaro's generals, celebrated over all of Kentaro's army for his skills, his abilities and his elegance all in the name of his honor.
The incident replayed on her mind.
Hiro was walking toward her , a repose smile spread on his lips, his long olive hair flowing carelessly. He had made it. He had won the battle, in the name of his lord , Lord Kentaro. The warlord had come back , with his army, Hiro on his right side, signifying his importance to the battalion.
She opened her arms to welcome him, sincerely glad for his safe return . Then everything changed in an instant as an arrow hit her lover in the heels. It was his weakness. Her eyes widened as she witnessed his knightly body falling heavily on the ground. Dead. She turned white, ghostly white as she realized all that had happened. The whole mob clamored after minutes of silence.
The crowd rioted wildly ,unprepared for the assassination but the murderer had escaped. They heard a big roar in the air. Veering their heads to see, they witnessed the happy smug face of Raizen. The war god had come personally just to slay the idolized warrior, Hiro. Grinning wickedly , he fled off with two of his assistants beside him, holding his bow . Kentaro clenched his fists in the air, muttering curses while she fell on her knees and wept sorrowfully. Her anguishes lasted for long, but the lord accompanied her in her remorse and grieves, comforted her and tried to wipe her sadness away. She was entitled to stay in his glorious palace to live the life of a princess. But it helped only a little to fill the emptiness inside. The wealth and treasures could never bring back her only happiness. Her only Hiro. She had desired to revenge and vowed upon her blood that she would take vengeance to Raizen for Hiro's death at whatever cost. She had announced her pledge in the very spot Hiro had died, promising on herself that she would exterminate everything that traced the line of Raizen and everyone that was related to him. The only foremost consolation she received was from the warlord's compassionate slave, the former slave of her archenemy, Ayane . She hesitated in hearing the slave's comforting words:
" Roses shall come by and shed its petals for you. Someday."
Then she placed a comforting hand on Michiko's shoulder. Michiko looked up to see her dark eyes as she smiled mildly. Michiko's gaze penetrated through the deeper soul of her consoler, seeing such beautiful light for a Makai creature to behold. The slave managed to comfort her, as she placed her soft hands on Michiko's shoulder. For a moment, she was able to think clearly. But as she lifted her hand, everything went back to what it was : she craved for vengeance.
She decided to join Kentaro's army to fight the troops of the conceited Raizen as the two warlords fought for supremacy. Before she could even begin, the tides turned against Kentaro, and Raizen with his eating legions defeated the their forces. The prosperous reign of Kentaro was ,thus, put to an end. Kentaro took his slave and fled away, leaving his army and subjects in chaos, mostly dying, helpless against Raizen's forces, while his army rivaled for leadership. His empire very soon collapsed, and those who survived were either tortured or lived as a fugitive or as an outcast. But shortly, they all died. As for her, she had escaped the prison to live freely again but resolved to incarnate in the form of a teen girl, Michiko Takeda. That was the only way. But life as a Ningen was easier, and she had existed for fourteen years in Makai, slowly forgetting the catastrophic past, as her kind parents nourished her with much love she had only felt with Hiro. Then, the past hunted her again. She didn't like to feel what she felt before : hatred, anger, sorrow. It was all encouraging her to keep her word. After all, twelve hundred years had passed. She trembled as confusion filled her. She did not know what to do. She had been through pretending. It did not work. What else should she do?
She felt a firm hand land on her shoulder.
She gasped, surprised, looking up. Yusuke was sitting up, and wiped the
tear off her face. She beamed at him gratefully. "Arigatou." Then she found
herself crying on Yusuke's shoulder as she contemplated on her decisions.
She sighed, holding Yusuke close to her. It felt like Hiro's. Yes. She
had made her decision. She was going to keep her word. At whatever cost.
"Should I continue with my job ?" Sasaki asked , bowing his head down at Yomi, who was looking very solemn. He did not know why he had to bow when his master was blind to see the reverence he paid, but something told him he just had to .
"Yes. Of Course. Go on," Yomi answered sternly. He was getting impatient. He had to end Ayane's life before Kentaro succeeds in his plans. He had this feeling that the boy's plans were not going to be nice. He didn't trust that boy. Not at all. He was already deceiving. With a great power as Enma's son, he won't just be treacherous, he'll be dangerous as well. Inexperienced minors like Kentaro couldn't be trusted with such great powers. (though he knew how old Kentaro was) Their competition for Makai domination will be a lot complex. Yomi didn't like that. He had his own dreams to keep him fighting. That was why he decided to betray Kentaro, through a grea warrior, Sasaki. Sasaki just had to kill the slave so that she could not fulfill her mission. Sasaki should easily defeat her. After all, she was just a girl.
Yomi almost laughed. But something almost wiped away the evil smile in Yomi's face - Sakuwa Miyuki. That crone! She knows too much!! She had to be killed before she could have the chance to tell Kentaro of what she knows. Yomi's eyebrows trembled as Sakuwa's vision filled his head. That girl had witnessed their plan of treachery to Kentaro, and if any way this gets to the boy, he will definitely finish off Yomi with his thumb. And right now, Yomi was just to weak to face him. Moreover, he couldn't take Kentaro getting stronger with the help of his slave. Ayane and Sakuwa had to be ended, before it was too late. Everything had to go as planned.
Sasaki sighed quietly to himself. He did not want to go on with his job. All his creatures were nothing but failure, always completely defeated. Or maybe Sakuwa was just too lucky -- always had somebody to rescue her. And the annoying part is that his creatures all ended up rotten on the ground, slain by Sakuwa's rescuer.
He had assumed that right after Yomi get his son back, his job would be over. But he could not do anything. He owed Yomi a lot. He had given him the power he had lost when he first died. He had helped him remember everything. He had raised Sasaki as though his own child. He stood up and bowed to Yomi before leaving the chamber. He would have to go to Ningenkai. Curses. How he hated the world. But he could not do anything. His services were bounded by gratitude. Yomi had made him see how cruel the all world really was. It was pay back time. It was time they feel all the pain he had felt. He had lost his everything. Fortunately, luck was on his side. The kind hearted Yomi adapted him and gave back what the world took away: his power, his name, his sanity, his integrity, his skills, his honor. Yomi had made him what he wanted to be, protected him with under the wings of his power, protected his weaknesses with a silver metal that loomed in his great body. But one thing Yomi could not give him was his Sayuri . Beautifil Sayuri. How he loved her! Now, she was gone. He grasped his fists. He still loved her. He would get her back, no matter what. No world nor power could surpass his pure love for her. Where are you, Sayuri ? The thought struck that almost froze him in his steps. He did not know where or why or how she had vanished. He was left alone with no clue. How could life be so hard? Could she still be ...alive? The thought brought much light in him, melting every doubt he was having. Yes. He had to finish his job quick and ask Yomi for permission to look for his beloved Sayuri . He was uncertain if Yomi would permit him ,but he was determined to make him do so. He have to succeed in this one.
He shrugged all the anxieties he had
in doing his task. A little sympathy still streamed in his veins. He was
sick and tired of making people's lives miserable. But that was his task.
Miyuki strode on Genkai's garden quietly chuckling to herself. Yukina was nearby, watering the plants gingerly. She looked charming in her motherly look. Miyuki sighed to herself. She had a fight with her obasan about going home or not. She did not like to go home already. It was so much safer in Genkai;s temple. Her obasan agreed, as she was assisted by Genkai in defending her side, looking frustrated. Her obasan was hardheaded . Why can't she see I like it here? Genkai's temple had become almost as cozy as her obasan's house or maybe even more. Her obasan had given her one more day to stay there, leaving their phone number at Miyuki's hand. Sheesh. I know my telephone number, obasan. I am not stupid. She left humbly, saying her apologies and gratitude in her usual stern manner. Then came a big red-haired guy , greeting Yukina with flowery words. Yukina smiled, as though very happy to see such an ugly guy. She made a face to herself. Yukina could not be fooled by his words, or could she? For one thing, he was swinish in appearance. Such nice words from such brute creature was .........deceiving.
"Would I be of any help?" he interrupted again at Yukina, following her with his admiring gaze. Miyuki shook her head in disgust, witnessing Yukina's patience, as she refused him gently with much tenderness , tapping his hand off. The scene was annoying her. It was as if they meant to do that before her.
She treaded away, trying as much to shake out her disgust. Her head started to hurt again. She rubbed it wearily. A figure was waiting for her, standing under a tree calmly. The Prince? No. It could not be him. She was seeing things again. But she was unwilling to believe, unwilling to accept. It was a manly creature. Only he possessed that bold body. She knew it. She could perceive a strange vigor and unnaturally strong presence dwelling nearby. Her mind knotted with confusion. It was very hard to believe what she saw. Before, she was but a shallow ningen who believed in what she perceived. But everything seemed to change. Her life made a sharp turn to a disconcerting world. Thinking twice before believing what she was seeing was a wise move. She hesitated to herself, contemplating on her decision. He seemed to be waiting. Waiting for something. For someone. She took a little step toward him, still uncertain. She herself had been waiting. But she never knew if she was waiting for someone or something. She had overlooked that one. She gave a sympathetic giggle to herself. She remembered the day before. Those monsters. Miyuki shuddered. Death almost came. She almost accepted it. She was confused. She shook her head and walked straightly to him.. She was determined to fight it, no matter what, if he was another of those horrid creatures that would lunge at her once she gets close.
She stopped her paces, some feet away from him. She could go no further. She had been too stupid enough to almost give her life away, and now, she did not have the face to apologize to him for mocking him when he saved her life. She felt miserable and confused. She decided to look at him straight in the eye. His ruby eyes were comforting her. Maybe it was what she waiting for.
His eyes were so hard to see, as the sun stood behind him . It was painful for the eyes. She bowed her head, avoiding the sun's glorious light. She took some steps nearer, until he was but some three feet away. She chuckled to herself, standing in front of a tree. It was no use. She could still not see him clearly. But he was not moving, and instead stood as mild as though he did not see her approaching.
"I - ah, hi ," she greeted him , much uncertainty audible in her voice. She laughed to herself. Why was she acting this way? She was not certain of anything anymore. "Hello," she approached him more naturally this time. He did not say anything as though he did not hear her. He was still the same. She beamed to herself, straining her eyes, until finally her eyes could not bear the light that she lowered her head and instead craned her ears to listen. He said no word, or if he did, she did not hear anything. "Hello," she repeated loudly. She knew she had succeeded in getting his attention in the first try, for she felt him watching her intently. She decided to look up again and meet his gaze, no matter how painful it was for her eyes. Before she knew it, a pair of seemingly black boomerang flew to her direction and clasped her wrists, sending her body against the tree. "What the fucking shit --"
Another boomerang flew and landed before her and clasped around her neck. "Shit, you -- " she stopped, biting her lower lip. She could not remember his name. She sniggered to herself. What is going on with me? Why can't I remember his name?
The figure drew nearer, walking to
the tree she was pinned on. He still looked as placid as ever.
Kurama walked speechlessly in the darkness that befell on him . It was supposed to be a sunny afternoon, but it was dark anyway, in Yomi's place. He adjusted his eyes to the murkiness around him. He had to stop this foolishness now.
"Kurama. What brought you?" Yomi's voice floated in the air. He liked to see Kurama that way. He looked serious.
The red-haired guy had easily detected him despite the dimness that surrounded him. He rotated around to meet his old friend. "I want to speak to you, Yomi ."
The dark environment suddenly transformed to the actual environment in Ningenkai-- a bright sunny afternoon. Kurama did not retort to the abrupt shifting. Everything was possible in Makai. Although he was not sure if it was just in his eyes or if it was really happening. Maybe everything was possible in his eyes. He saw Yomi, standing nearby. They were on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the Eastern part of Makai . Yomi stood, his back facing Kurama, his hands shoved on the pocket of his trousers, a satisfied smile on his face. He looked contented with the barren fields that filled the area below. "What is it, Kurama?"
The other fellow did not move. "Yomi, I want to stop the deal," Kurama declared bleakly.
"Me too," Yomi retorted in an aloof voice. Kurama blinked in surprise, but refused to voice it out. What does he mean? Are my ears deceiving me? He stole a glance at his old friend who was still standing calmly.
As though reading the question on his head, Yomi answered, " You heard me right, Kurama. I myself want to stop this."
Kurama spun to Yomi and walked beside him. Maybe this is not going to be that hard after all. Letting her stay in his house with his okasan in danger was already too much. He looked down at the impotent fields below. It was strange that Yomi seemed appeased with what he saw. "Then let's quit it."
Yomi shook his head and walked away from Kurama. He stopped by the other side and gazed up as though he was seeing something. "I can't."
More questions soared in Kurama's
head. What does he mean? Is the vampire telling the truth? What is going
on? He kept his gaze down, searching for something else to say, but Yomi
interrupted again. "It's not what you think it is, Kurama. I work for Yumiko"
Kurama almost coughed, but he was able to control himself. "What?" So, the girl was telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Aw, that hurts. Naked truth. It stinks. Why did it have to be this way? So, there's nothing I can do?
"Yes. There's nothing you and I can do," Yomi cut in again, reading his mind.
Kurama made a face to himself. Great, Kurama. You never learn. He was a little annoyed at Yomi for being able to comprehend what he was thinking. He was a bit irritated to himself for not being able to figure things out. And lastly, he was very enraged by the veracity. He felt a hand on his left shoulder. "If you want to help Enma Daio's son, kill her. That's the only way."
Kurama nodded, a decision forming
in his head.