Hiei sneaked a look at the iron man. If he strikes up Yukina, I'll kill him. But the iron man remained passive, waiting for the two of them to strike first. Yumiko had her hands on her hips snootily, but Hiei knew she was on guard too, keeping an eye on his and the iron man's every move.
"Yumiko!" Yumiko spun and bared a friendly smile in seeing Yukina.
"Koenma was looking for you," Yukina narrated indifferently. Yumiko flashed, obviously embarrassed about her reporting right in front of the two creatures she did not trust at all. But a glitter of hope gleamed in her dark eyes, Hiei observed keenly. He knew Yumiko was just fighting the surge not to scream 'honto ni? honto ni? honto ni? honto ni?' and jump up and down excitedly. He shifted his gaze back at Yukina, who was already looking gloomy. He resisted the whim to go to her and comfort her lovingly in his arms as he had comforted Botan. "Will all of you go to the gathering tonight ?" She turned to Yumiko who raised a brow absently ."You, Yumiko?" - then to Hiei who was fuming to himself -"And , you, Hiei?" Hiei remained silent. Then she gave a little beam, her face brightening. "And, you'll go Mr. Nishimoto, right?"
Yukina knows him??
Hiei watched in bewilderment as the numskull accepted the invitation immediately even before he and Yumiko did without a bit of hesitation.
She faced the three with a faint spark
in her red eyes. "I didn't know you guys know each other!"
We don't. Yumiko looked dumbfounded, but she shut her mouth. "What is the gathering for, Yukina?"
Yumiko queried in regaining her concentration, trying to sound interested. Her rumbling stomach had thrown her head aching. Koenma's name had sent her heart aching.
Yukina's little beam disappeared, and once more, Hiei had the urge to wrap his arms around her to erase that churlish look in her pretty face. Forever. "She's leaving. Michiko's leaving."
"Where is she going?" the iron man cut in suddenly, as if the whole thing interested him. Hiei cramped his red eyes sharply. The numskull was interested , even showing far more interest than Yumiko. Or, he's a good actor. If there was any way he was acting it all out, well, he was succeeding.
The girl shook her head sadly. "I don't know," she mumbled. She looked up. " Maybe you can ask her that question. Will all of you come?" Yumiko looked as though she was going to shake her head in refusal, but she caught Hiei's killer look, and she nodded. Or, she probably considered the possibility of Koenma's presence......................................
The three of them nodded at her, and
she retained that little beam in her lips. "Arigatou!" She bowed to them
politely and skipped out, waving her good-byes.
Miyuki ran to the pagoda, gasping. She had just realized she was running. The route from her obasan's house to the pagoda was some kilometers away. The streets had been crowded with cars and people, all seemed to be busy in going home. She had ran, bumping to many people, crossed the streets on a green light and caused so many wheels to screech on the road. Some shouted curses on her, as their bumpers hit that of the preceding car. But she lent them no thought at all. She was so consumed in her own thoughts to notice them. Reaching the temple allowed her to catch her breath, as she held on her knees. Then, she stood up straight and walked in, calling names. "Genkai, are you there? Yukina? Michiko?"
She heard no answer. She sat on the steps, rubbing her head. "Where could they be?" She remained silent for a long time as she sat.
"Why worry for them when you have yourself to worry about?" a voice hissed at behind her. The voice was calm, but she knew it held not the same serenity as the koorime had. Before she could spin her head to look, the speaker put a hand on her left shoulder. "Don't move." he warned in her ears. "I'll kill you." Miyuki froze, feeling his hand. She knew she had heard that voice somewhere, but her memory seemed to be so obscure to provide any information where. But she was sure it was not her former aggressor, the one with the boomerang. His hand was warm, and was not cold as a metal.
The speaker laughed, quietly at first, then wickedly loud, without lifting his hand off her. "If you move, I'll kill you. If you don't move, I'll still kill you . You can't spare your life, filly."
Miyuki stayed frozen. It was hard for her to divert her thoughts from something which seemed more important now, and getting scared was an effort. "Why will you kill me ?"
The speaker moved forward its lips to her ear, breathing on her neck. "You know too much, baby." Then, he laughed once more, even more wickedly. Miyuki rolled her eyes wordlessly. She knew she had to live, to say her farewell to her friend, Michiko. After that, she could die. She was growing more and more to hate school and all those that claimed to be helping her, including her obasan. They're not helping me at all. They're making my life miserable. If the speaker was intending to scare her, well, he was not succeeding. He was not succeeding at all.
She laughed with him, and the speaker laid his hand heavily on her shoulder to stop her. He seemed disgusted to share his laughter. "Shut up."
In hearing his harsh tone, she followed him obediently. She did not mean to annoy him. She only laughed to cover her sadness. Suddenly, an idea came to her head. "Say, Mr. -"
"Yasuhiro --" the speaker supplied.
She nodded, even the guy did not bother to say his last name.. "Hai, Yasuhiro . Are you open for deals?"
The speaker chuckled, obviously pleased with her. "Sure." He leaned closer to her. "I've never been so open with deals before, Ms. --." His voice was clam, cold, and seducing .
She knew she'd get neither profit nor any gain in the deal she had to offer, but she did not care. She loved to gamble, and she did not expect she would be this helplessly be in love with gambling that she was willing to bet her life. There's nothing more he'd like from me, except my life. It's about time I give it to him. She smiled, leveling that wicked smile of his. Sell was an appropriate word. It was much better than to lose her life with nothing in return. The speaker patted her shoulder, encouraging her to go on, so she did. "Miyuki Sakuwa. Do you know Michiko Takeda?"
The speaker did not answer, as if thinking. "Yes, Ms. Sakuwa."
"Let her stay, wherever she's going. Take me instead."
The speaker did not speak for such a long time, Miyuki thought he was gone. But she felt him drumming his fingers on her shoulder, so she halted herself from turning around. "Fine with me."
"Deal?" Miyuki offered her hand, but he did not accept it. "Sorry, Ms. Sakuwa, but I don't easily entrust deals with handshakes." He unrolled a scroll in front of her face. What was written was unreadable, but two blanks were clear, and below were their names, clearly perceptible. He drew his hand to circular motion, and instantly, his signature appeared. Yasuhiro, in a red script. Miyuki raised her hand to shoulder level, her palm open. "Pen, please?"
He took her hand in his which was warm and broader, and enveloped hers. He released it, the tips of her pointing finger bleeding. "Pen."
Miyuki rolled her golden eyes to herself, but did not say a word. He pricked her left hand when she was right- handed. She signed, anyway, her handwriting unreadable, her blood rolling messily to the scroll. Miyuki Sakuwa. He did not seem to mind at all., grasping at the end of the scroll, and it bounced back to his hand like a yoyo. She stared at her bleeding finger absently for such a long time that he was gone before she could even ask when he intended to take her. She swung her head from side to side, looking for him. "Yasuhiro -?" She stood up, then understanding he had left unnoticed, she slumped to her knees on the floor as she stared at her finger helplessly. Maybe Yukina's gathering is meant to be for me, not for Michiko, she reflected sorrowfully. Then, she heard faint footsteps grow louder and louder gradually. It was too late to stand up and organize herself. Shuichi caught her slumped on the floor, looking helpless and morose. Immediately, a worried look crossed his face. He knelt down in front of her, holding her shoulders, trying to look in her eyes which mirrored nothing but grief.
"What's wrong, Miyuki?"
She stayed silent, shaking her head. It was only then that she realized what she did. Believing and accepting were so difficult. Yet, there was nothing to do. She threw her arms around Kurama ,and, for for the first time in so long a time, she burst into tears.
Botan creep an eye on her master, as he busily took the reigns of the horses of paper works which awaited nothing but his return. His brows were furrowed thoughtfully, as he held a paper in his hand, a pacifier on his mouth. George Watanabe was beside him, waiting for him to bark his orders. He wore his usual garb, the clothes he wore before he had his break in Ningenkai - a , blue and white kung-fu attire with a red stole that hung gracefully on his neck. Hiding behind the wall of his office, Botan sighed to herself. He had cured her bruises and wounds in their arrival, without fiery interrogation that might stumble her mouth to the truth.
Why did the truth have to be so annoying?
She cramped her hand, memorizing her lines. She had to tell him everything he had to know, even though it but burned her tongue with Yusuke's rei-gun. The truth was bruising her, but the guilt was distressing her even more.
She decided to step out, but she decided not to, withdrawing her foot. Koenma's possible reactions flashed to her mind.
Nani ? Chotto matte kudasai ? Damn, you, Botan! Why didn't you tell me ?? GO TO HELL!!!!!
She exhaled. What would happen to her? Would he fire her? Would he order for her execution? Would he ban her from all other worlds and put her to dungeon with chains on her neck with a metallic ball dangling heavily as though attempting to separate her skull from her body? She hesitated. If she wished to save herself from all of the possibilities which were all too bad to be true, it was the time to back out.
Why did the truth have to be scary?
"Botan? Are you there?"
Yes, Koenma-sama. I'm here.
"Botan! Where is she?"
Botan cleared her throat, realizing she was not able to say the word out. "Hai, Koenma-sama?" She stepped out, trembling, her pink eyes wide with fear. "What -" her voice was hoarse as she croaked the words out. Koenma and George exchanged questioning looks.
"Is anything wrong Botan?" George asked, mildly surprised.
The girl shook her head.
"Is anything wrong with us?" Koenma queried peculiarly. He laid down the paper he was holding to look at himself and George.
She laughed a scripted laugh that failed to fool the two. George gave her a dull look which seemed to say something Botan could not understand. "I- ah- nothing, Koenma-sama. I -- just want to - uh............."
Koenma displayed a questioning look, but when she did not reply, it was replaced by a bored one. "Really, Botan, you're not wasting my time." He took the paper again and inspected it. Botan was left speechless, her mouth opening and closing soundlessly, protesting the victory of the paper in his attention. George furnished that I-told- you -so look, even though he had not uttered a syllable. She made a face. She hated I-told-you-so looks . Maybe it's time I forget the results...
She straightened up herself and cleared her throat. Koenma looked up again impatiently.
"What now?" He was going to raise the paper to his face, but when he noticed that serious expression on her face, he stopped.
"I need to speak to you." She gave George a meaningful glance. "Alone." The blue creature made a sour face, but left when Koenma imparted the identical look of Botan .
"About what ?"
"Yumiko," she announced boldly. There was nothing to hide. Nothing she could hide, especially when his whole attention had been diverted from the paper to her, his kind brown eyes boring to her soul. It was very hard to lie when he was staring at her like that, like he could see every bit of that flesh within her kimono and every fragment that make up her soul..........
"What is this about her?" He walked nearer her, looking around. Enma was so interested in the affairs of his son. So interested, he would gladly send detectives just to spy on Koenma's every move.
Botan's throat tightened. It was one of those times that she wished the ground would just crack open and swallow her up. But wishes remain wishes in the perplex world of reality. She concentrated her eyes on the ground, avoiding his eyes. "She likes you, Koenma. She was looking for you."
He grabbed her elbow and shook her. "Where is she?"
"Ningenkai. I saw her and we talked," she narrated. She felt her tongue just spitting out the words with much distaste. But she knew it was not even the half of it.
Botan looked up and met her master's compassionate eyes. "Sorry, Koenma-sama. but I - " her voice trailed off and she opened and closed her mouth again wordlessly until finally, she got the words out: "Look , she does not like you. She's in love with you." She looked down again, her brows trembling this time. Here comes the punishment, Botan...............
He was silent, staring at Botan without a bit expression. Shaking his head, he shook her again. "Why didn't you -- "
"I couldn't. I - I - I wanted you to go home very badly. I -" She did not finish whatever was on the tips of her tongue. Maybe Koenma now knew what was to come in just seeing her face.
The truth sucks!
She lowered her head, shutting her eyes, waiting for Koenma to strike. She had never been so afraid of Koenma so much before. "I'm so sorry , Koenma. I've been so -"
He cut her statement by placing his hands comfortingly on her shoulders. "It's fine." He patted her, lifted her chin with his hand. "Gambatte kudasai!!" She gawked at him, stunned. He was beaming at her cheerfully. "Let's go back to Ningenkai, Botan-chan!! "
"But the wish --"
"Forget the wish. " He grabbed her hand. "C'mon!!!"
"You're not going to -? ! "
"No, of course not."
Botan sighed, whispering gratefulness
in the thin air. A thin smile spread in her charming face. Koenma - sama
is in love. Only those who were too stupid to give up a wish were really
so in love. Her eyes lowered. But maybe Yumiko is his only wish.........
The dry leaves crunched crisply under Yusuke's shoes as he walked silently to the empty park that was located only some kilometers from his house. His hand was deep in the pocket of his jeans, his ebony eyes so solemn, his lips set in a firm line. The setting sun sneaked its way through the branches that boasted of its leaves, turning his hair to a darker shade of brown. The gentle breeze caressed his slick mane and his clothes, manifesting his strong figure and his powerful arms. The sun was merry as the surroundings, but that was evidently of no help. All in his eyes were reflections of heavy rain. He halted in his steps, glancing up. He gaped at the setting sun as it shared the city with its wondrous light, like he did not see anything at all. His only light was gone.
Michiko held a dagger in her left hand, feeling equally sad. It consumed so much of her will power to agree with what Hiro had planned. She shot up behind one tree, waiting for him to pass by. And as he passed, she would welcome him with the silver dagger Hiro gave her. She would stab him in the chest hard and let him feel her hatred of being betrayed. She leaned her head back to the tree, clasping at the hilt of her dagger. He felt him walking nearer, the leaves crunched noisily beneath him. She did not know if her power had returned as her memory did, but if it did, Yusuke was showing no sign he was able to sense it with his youki. He drew closer, and Michiko prepared herself. That was what the real Michiko was - violent, hateful, and fierce. Hiro's death had turned her to something as violent as the blood-thirsty vampires of Makai, as hateful as the chosen warriors of Kentaro, and as fierce as Raizen raised to the third power.
She sprung from her position and to Yusuke, the tips of her dagger pointing at his chest. He side- stepped quietly, a little surprised, missing her hit by two inches.
"Michiko ?!" She fell on the ground with a soft thud. Yusuke reached down to help her. "I'm so sorry -"
She glared at him , a glare that stopped Yusuke. She drew far away from him, refusing his help. She staggered up, her hand gripping the dagger.
"I'm sorry, Michiko." His voice was grave and sincere, not like the real Urameshi who scoffed at Michiko Takeda during the first time they met. He stood dormant, watching her aim her knife at him, cursing him under her breath. He met her eyes for a while, that caused her to pause. But she slid her eyes away from him, hating every moment that she held the dagger.
Suddenly, she lunged for him, her dagger first. He did not move a bit to save himself. Before the dagger could reach his flesh, he grabbed both her wrists and pinned her arms to her side. He wrapped his arms around her comfortingly, holding her hand which had the knife. He got her to release it, as she remained emotionless. Her blue eyes were wide as if she saw some guys walk naked to the street, her face was as pale as a ghost's and her long brown hair was a mess, like the leaves that carpeted the park. But it smelled good.
"I'm so sorry Michiko, for everything that made you suffer, for not telling you everything from the very start ............ and ............. for being the son of Raizen." His voice dawdled down for a pause. He hugged her hard. "But nothing could ever stop my love for you, and I don't care if you were a demon in Makai with a mighty lover who was killed by my otousama, or if you had a bad past and lived your life as a criminal . When you love someone, you don't give a damn to whatever she won or lost or whatever of she thought, said or did. I may not be the perfect guy for you, or just be some street bastards who knows no manners or I may be your knight in shining armor with the best breeding, but I'm a guy who makes mistakes, a son of a demon who has a heart like ordinary Ningenkai dwellers but, still may not deserve a bit of your love. But let me love you, Michiko, because my heart is as stubborn as my father. You can't teach it a lesson with the use of a dagger."
She did not answer. His words lingered in her head repeatedly. But Yusuke knew she had heard him, even when she did not reply. She was inactive for along time, like a corpse whose life just sipped out. But her body was warm, a warmth that probably came from Yusuke. He felt her move up her hand.
"Yusuke?" she whispered. It was like she was blind, her eyes wide open, moving but was unable to see anything. And yes, maybe she was, or she had been just some minutes ago. But she was being cured by her own tears that welled in her azure eyes and by the person who brought her back to her sanity. He loosened his arms. She crawled her fingers on his face, caressing it, as if trying to memorize it again.
He wiped away her tears, grinning
joyfully. The dagger slipped from her other hand and it fell on the ground
with a thud.
I'm giving you one last chance, Sasaki.
one last chance
one last chance
one last chance
Yomi's assertive voice echoed to the empty place sharply . Sasaki could not see him, but he was certain it was Yomi's voice. Sasaki could feel him just nearby, scrutinizing his every move observantly.
Do you understand?
No, it was not Yomi's voice at all. It was completely silent, completely dark. Yomi was talking to him in his mind. He decided to close his eyes and answer him. He had owed that man so much. He had to please him, by prioritizing his orders , even before his aims. Even before his Sayuri.
He had heard Yomi calling him in the grove, as he was preparing to battle the red-eyed dunce and that blood thirsty vampire of his ex-lord Kentaro.
Why battle those fools? Did I not tell you to kill that girl Sakuwa first and foremost before she speaks up?
Yes, I know! I ordered you to kill both of them.
I was wondering, Sasaki, why you kept on hanging out with that brunette girl? His voice became lighter and kinder. The harsh tone he used was gradually evaporating.
Sasaki's gritted his teeth. How could have I been so foolish??? He was watching me all this time!! What if Sayuri --?
The question left unfinished and unanswered in his head. He hated facing the possibilities. Hated the outcome. Hated the cause. I have put Sayuri's life in danger!!
But Yomi seemed kinder this time.
He agreed to give Sasaki one more chance.
one last chance
one last chance
one last chance
Or he would face Yomi's wrath.
Or Sayuri would face Yomi's wrath.
That, he hated too. He scorned to
offend the creature he bows to as a lord, who took care of him, who loved
him like his own child, who tried to give him everything. He hated to lose
his new master. But he hated to lose his beloved Sayuri too, who gave him
but happiness. Why can't he have both?
It was because both of them require his loyalty and his devotion. Without Yomi, he would be lifeless. Without Sayuri, he would be unhappy. He had to have both. But he can't.
Power and happiness don't stay together. (according to Naito) (Nikita, tinatamaan ka ba?) (Sana nga!)
He felt the steel helmet loosening. He held it with both hands, starting to panic. But it dissolved, melted in his very own hands, slipped down to the unseen ground like sand.
I'm taking back what is mine, Sasaki. Let's make a deal. Forget Sakuwa - I'll handle her. Just be sure to end Ayane or I'll take back every piece of your garment.
Sasaki's fist moistened. What a tough decision. He had lived again, and the last thing he wanted was to die once more. In losing his garment, he will be nothing. He will be as weak and as frail as a Ningen. In short, he will die. Again.
"Yes, master," Sasaki answered dutifully.
Come what may.