Author: OneAmahira
Content Rating: T-13
Published: 2012-08-02 21:41:55
Tags: yu yu hakusho, yyh, hiei, kurama, yusuke, kuwabara, anime, second person

Yusuke Urameshi gave up being Spirit Detective after the first Demon World tournament. Now three years later the next tournament to determine who shall rule Demon World is slated to begin and a new Spirit Detective has been sent to observe. Something is awakening that endangers the very existence of all three worlds. Old friends must reunite and team up with new faces to save everything they hold dear. Or die trying.

Author´s Notes and Disclaimers:

Still preserved in it's original Quizlla form, part 29 of Somewhere Between Hope and Fear!

Quizilla Memo: I've been sitting on some of the things in this chapter for awhile, so I hope to hear from you and that you all enjoy reading! Shout out to agelofdarkness who messaged me the other day. ^_^

Yu Yu Hakusho is property of Yoshihiro Togashi, Shueisha, Studio Pierrot, Funimation, and several other people or companies that are not me.

Chapter 29
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An obnoxious ringing startles you.

"That's your phone, Chiyori." Kurama tells you as the group stands and gets ready to leave.

"Oh! Right." You answer it. "Hello?"

"It's Koenma." The voice on the other end responds.

"Who?" You sweatdrop. You have a feeling you know who he is, but can't bring the face to mind at the moment.

"... Who? What do you mean who!?" He shouts loud enough for the others to hear him.

"Um, let me take that." Yusuke grabs the phone from your hand. "What's up, Koenma?"

"Don't as that so casually!" Koenma yells as Yusuke switches the phone to speaker. "You let the black and red goddesses merge, didn't you!?"

"I'm afraid we didn't have much say in the matter." Kurama sighs.

Koenma... I think... yeah, he was mentioned in my journal. Koenma... Oh, right! A face finally comes to mind as you listen to the conversation. He's the boss.

"Right now I'm going to issue an evacuation of the Human World. It isn't safe, I believe the Demon and Human worlds now exist as one." Koenma speaks quickly.

"You need us to do anything?" Yusuke asks.

"Not with the evacuation. Your group shouldn't worry about that. It's too massive an undertaking. Now that we aren't holding Ethelred's army back, I'll redirect the special forces to evacuating humans." Koenma explains.

"... Ethelred is dead." You speak up. "We were able to do that much."

"But he still got what he wanted." Kuwabara grumbles.

"Spirit World greatly appreciates your efforts. Myself or someone for me will contact you again later. Take care." Koenma hangs up.

"Right, got it." Yusuke hands your phone back to you.

"The trains aren't runnin' at this hour, huh?" Kuwabara inquires, looking around as if he might spot one somewhere.

"No, it will be a rather long walk." Kurama winces.

"Here, lemme help ya." Kuwabara offers. Kurama accepts and leans on Kuwabara to support some of his weight. The group heads in the vague direction of the city. Normally it would have been visible, but the power must be out. When the group hits the silent train tracks, they turn to follow it out of Mushiyori.

"Uh, that wasn't here before, right?" Yusuke sweatdrops as the group stops at the foot of a mountain, the train tracks disappearing.

"No, it was not." Kurama confirms. "Probably a result of the worlds merging. Hopefully Botan and the others are all right at the shrine."

"Hmph. Talk about an acid trip." Yusuke grumbles. "Guess we go around and hope the shrine is where we left it."

Just then, a giant Koenma head appears in the twilight sky, with a booming voice. There are subtitles in various different languages and it appears to be a prerecorded message of some kind.

"What the!?" Kuwabara gapes at it.

"Like that ain't gonna cause more panic." Yusuke rolls his eyes. You nod slightly and listen to the message. Apparently portals will be opened for humans to enter Spirit World at all major metropolitan areas and all religious sites worldwide. A forced evacuation. You can't help but wonder how well that will go over in some parts.

By the time the group gets back into your city, everything is in an uproar. The power is in the process of being restored, but Koenma's forces are pretty much herding people to safety and fighting off demons who decide they want a snack. You decide to do as Koenma says and not worry about the evacuation.

Your home seems unchanged when you arrive and with the shrine having been closed since your grandfather passed away, no one is there trying to find an evacuation portal. The morning is almost spent and you're tired and hungry. But stronger than your desire for sleep or food is the pull to ascend. Your hagoromo is so close to you now that you're home, but you can't quite recall where you hid it.

"You gonna change back, Fujiwara?" Yusuke asks you as everyone steps through the front gate.

"... I hid my hagoromo... but I don't remember where. I can't explain it... but I think I need to go...." You trail off. There's been a strong tug to see Fujihime and to ascend since you set out from Mushiyori.

"Wait, you mean you wanna leave?" Yusuke raises an eyebrow. You nod in response.

"Do you have the bracelet Fujihime gave you?" Kurama inquires.

"Um, yes, right here." You pull it out of your pocket and show him, while Kuwabara watches with confusion.

"Put it on." Kurama instructs.

"But..." You don't really want to put the seal back on. What you want to is remember where you put your hagoromo.

"It's only a natural instinct, the urge should fade when you change back." He advises.

"I don't know." You look at the bracelet.

"Would you rather we do it for you?" Hiei snaps.

You look at the bracelet, then the others. You grumble...

"All right."
"No fun."

You put the bracelet back on, then everything goes black.

"Huh!?" You sit up in the shrine courtyard. It's day, although the sky seems an unusual gray and you aren't quite sure how you got there. The others are looking at you.

"Wow, she is back to normal!" Kuwabara notes. "Pretty weird."

"What? How..." You glance around as Botan hurries from the front door to greet everyone. The bracelet, I took it off, and then... Bits and pieces of what followed pass through your mind as you find yourself staring longingly at the shrine. You shake yourself out of it and stand up, a slightly dopey grin crossing your face when you realize you had flown.

Botan ushers everyone inside and starts tending injuries with Keiko. At the same time, Kurama and Yusuke are getting in touch with their families. Shizuru hits her brother upside the head.

"Ow! Sis! Take it easy, we almost got killed!"

"That's happened so much I'm used to it now." She says flatly.

"So now what? We just wait for orders from Koenma?" Yusuke grumbles when he's off the phone. "It's stupid. And why haven't they attacked us or anything? I mean, we're down, so wouldn't now be the perfect damn time?"

"They don't have to, we aren't considered a threat anymore." Hiei scowls from the window. In the background you can hear Kurama on the phone with his mother, reassuring her that he'll be leaving with friends he's helping evacuate.

"What? Like hell we aren't!" Yusuke growls. "We aren't finished with them yet!"

"We should consider this fortunate. We are able to regroup and plan our strategy." Kurama closes his own cellphone.

"I guess..." Kuwabara shrugs. "But what's there next move gonna be?"

"To go after the last part. The white goddess." You sigh. Keiko brings out some tea from the kitchen and sits down next to Yusuke with a worried look on her face.

"Yes, without question." Kurama agrees with you.

"... Then you should all rest while you can." Keiko speaks softly.

Considering that a good idea, everyone does so, crashing out until evening. There's still no word from Koenma and you aren't sure if you're grateful for that or not. Your shrine is an unusual calm spot in a sea of disorder. From the last news broadcasts you heard on your radio as you drifted to sleep earlier, the city's infrastructure is a mess and it's a miracle you have electricity. After the first demons attacked humans, people were more inclined to believe Koenma and the need for evacuation.

After dinner when you go outside, you notice the stars are different. You think you find one of the constellations that Kin taught you. You stare at it, lost in thought for sometime about Kin, your grandfather, Yasuyama, and your hagoromo. It startles you when Yusuke comes outside.

"Oh, hey. Didn't know you were out here, Fujiwara."

"What's up?" You glance at him.

"Nothing. And that's what's pissing me off." He stuffs his hands in his pockets. "We aren't doing anything right now about any of this."

"Yeah." You sigh. "But what can we do? What can any of us really do?"

"You start with that crap again and you'll really piss me off. Forget whatever bullshit Yasuyama said." Yusuke walks over to you.

"What he said wasn't bullshit." You shut your eyes and see his face. "He really believed it. He wasn't lying, this is bigger than any of us. Aren't you worried at all, Yusuke?"

"Keiko does all my worrying for me." Yusuke rolls his eyes. You look at him disbelievingly.


"Oh, whatever. So what if I am? It doesn't change anything. I'm still going to fight."

"You came out here because you're worried and didn't want Keiko to see, didn't you?" You glance at him.

"... Yeah." He grumbles. "I think she'd worry more if she knew that I was worried. Why are you out here?"

"Just thinking." You shrug.

"You aren't going to back out on us like earlier, are you?" He asks uneasily.

You turn your gaze upward to the stars again. You still have doubts gnawing at you and you don't feel comfortable answering that question. You don't want to lie. You don't even know if you want to keep fighting, you're tired of it. All you really want is for things to be okay again, but you aren't sure how to make them that way. Maybe Yasuyama's path is the way, but you couldn't fight against these people, your friends.

"Fujiwara..." Yusuke walks in front of you.

"I am going to go pray." You turn and walk away. The former Spirit Detective doesn't follow you, only watches you go.

You feel bad being unable to answer him and want to be alone. The doubts you suppressed earlier are clinging to you now. Yasuyama's words were not without merit. You purify at the te-arai and head to the altar and bell, but can't think of anything to pray for. Defeatedly you sit down on the stairs and sigh.

"So are you?" Someone inquires. You spot Hiei in one of the trees and groan mentally.

"So am I what?" You stand up as he jumps down.

"Going to 'back out.'"

"And if I was?" You definitely don't feel like talking to him about any of this, that much is certain.

"If you join my enemy, I'll kill you personally, Chiyori." Hiei answers quite darkly. It's the first time you've ever heard him refer to you by name and the chill in his tone scares you some. He means what he is saying. You hide behind sarcasm and say...

"Hey, you remembered my name. Impressive!"
"Good idea. I'll hold be sure to hold you to that."
"Your social graces never cease to amaze me."

"You're the fool who told me not to doubt you again-"

"'Don't give me a reason to now.'" You finish for him and open one of the doors into the shrine. You really just want to be alone, especially after such a charming conversation. You can't sort yourself out with everyone digging at you for the answers you haven't found yet.

So you hide away in one of the empty halls typically used for wedding ceremonies. You sit against the wall and pull your knees to your chest. You need a good cry, for yourself and for Yasuyama. For everything. After that... after that you'll face whatever comes next.

The night is spent wallowing in your doubts and berating yourself for your weakness. You couldn't keep the Great Mother sealed, you screwed up killing your father, and you utterly failed last night. If I hadn't hesitated, or if I'd been faster. You cringe at your own thoughts. If I'd done my part and sealed the goddess before Ethelred showed up, then maybe this wouldn't have happened. But why? Why couldn't I do it? Is what we're doing right? Even if it's a battle we can't win, are we really fighting for the right thing?

Your current state of self-loathing is unparalleled. You've failed your friends, but worst of all you've let yourself down. You wanted to be stronger, to be more open, to overcome yourself. And yet here I am hiding and crying like a child. You hide your face in your arms. A world where no one felt this way doesn't sound like a such a bad thing right now.

Dawn is beginning to break when you finally pull yourself together enough to emerge. Everything is quiet as you wander into the courtyard. A brilliant pillar of light appears and you have to shield your eyes. The energy radiating from it is familiar. Tennyo.

You blink a few times as it fades and your eyes readjust. There are two of them, neither Fujihime. One wears light armor over her robe, while the other is dressed in the same elegant style as Fujihime. The bright light and energy has roused the others.

"What's goin' on?" Kuwabara gawks from the porch.

"Be at ease." The heavily robed tennyo calls. "I have descended to bespeak my newest daughter."

"Then you are Aoihime?" Kurama inquires, obviously recalling who Fujihime said was your other tennyo parent.

"Aoihime, Lady of the Hollyhock. This is my daughter, Matsuhime, Lady of the Pine." She introduces herself and the other, both of them bowing.

"I'm Chiyori Fujiwara." You...

Bow politely.
Look away.

"I know." Aoihime smiles gently. The first rays of morning light begin to appear.

"Is there some place where we might speak undisturbed? I harbor no love for the company of demons." She glances at the others outside your house.

"Hn." Hiei scowls at both tennyo. Matsuhime scowls right back at him.

This way..." You mumble and start back toward the shrine. You wonder what they want and also wonder if maybe Aoihime might have any helpful advice. You lead Aoihime into the empty hall you'd just left. Matsuhime stands guard outside the door.

"I'm sorry, I don't have any tea to offer you." You say as you both sit down.

"There is no need for such formalities between mother and child, my dear." She has such a kind smile.

"What did you wish to speak of?" You ask, not quite able to shake the formality.

"Please, daughter, you needn't speak so formally. It makes it difficult for one to express how they really feel. You are troubled, are you not?" Aoihime squeezes your hand. "That is what I wish to speak of."

"... It's been a long two days." You shrug. For all her gentleness, it feels slightly awkward having a woman besides your true mother act so motherly toward you.

"Of course, it has been long for everyone. So much has happened. Why the sorrow in your eyes?" She asks.

"Um..." You shrug. "It's... hard to explain. I haven't quite figured it out myself."

"Take off your seal then and let us be honest with one another." She suggests.

"I'll transform." You look at her curiously. "I'm not really... completely... integrated or something, yet."

"I know, but then we may speak, tennyo to tennyo." She lets go of your hand so you can remove the bracelet Fujihime gave you.

"Why?" You ask...


"I heard you transformed earlier after the merging. You felt better, did you not?" She presses. "You were as you should be."

You think of your time transformed. You weren't dwelling on your doubts then, you knew what you wanted to do. You had wanted to ascend.

"As I should be-?" You wonder aloud. Is that the root or your problem? You aren't certain. It doesn't quite feel right, but it's something to look into.

"I believe you shall feel better if you do, now give it here, my dear." She slips the bracelet off before you have a chance to protest. Like before you feel a surge of energy, strange and different. However you realize your mind is much more clear than last time, you recall exactly what you were discussing with Aoihime, though much else feels like a distant dream. The distance... it feels better. Like she said, you do feel better.

"You... were right." You blink.

"The sorrow that was in your eyes seems less." She smiles. "You and your... friends. You have all suffered much." She gazes at you with her striking gold eyes. You nod slightly in response.

"My daughter... I do not want to see you suffer so. Nor should you have to." She shifts her gaze to the floor.

"... What do you mean?"

"No mother desires to watch her children suffer. That is why the Goddess is doing this. She is not doing it make any of you suffer, but because she wishes to alleviate that suffering."

"Are you-" You stare at her in mild shock.

"Please, I want you to understand the truth. Will you not hear us out? Will you not at least allow me that?" Aoihime cuts you off.

"I'll... listen." You decide you're willing to at least hear her out. You wouldn't listen to Yasuyama and that left you with doubts and confusion. Perhaps Aoihime's words will bring some kind of clarification.

"Thank you." You sighs. "Much has been sacrificed on both sides, this I know. But the sacrificing needn't continue. The suffering needn't be prolonged." She shuts her eyes. "This is what The Lady Who Weaves the Brocade believes and why she gave herself to be a vessel for the white goddess. To help end the endless suffering."

"But..." You furrow your brow. Though at least now you have an idea how the white goddess manifested.

"Do you want your friends to continue to suffer in this impossible battle?" Aoihime challenges you.

"No, I don't want anyone to needlessly suffer!" You protest.

"Of course, that is only natural, my daughter. Then naturally you must now realize what you are all doing is only causing more needless suffering! One can no sooner still the seas than they can stop the will of the primordial Mother. I want you to come with me. You are tennyo and you belong with tennyo." She clasps your hands in her own.

"Join... you?" You stare at her and your words catch in your throat. "If you join my enemy, I will kill you personally, Chiyori."

You shiver involuntarily at the recollection of Hiei's words.

"Why do you tremble?" Aoihime asks.

"I..." You stammer. You don't want fight any of them, but at the same time, you don't want to see them suffering. You want to stop everyone's suffering. You want to stop his suffering, too. You want a better world, a world where Kohaku and her human mate could have lived together, with Kin as well. A world without goodbye. But is that even possible? As much as you want it, something instinctual tugs at you to reject it.

Matsuhime cries out and a massive shock wave blows her through the doors.

"Aoihime!" Fujihime's voice booms. "You dare join those who defy The Lady Who Causes Trees to Bloom and Lord Koenma!?"

"I obey a higher power, Fujihime." Aoihime rises to her feet. "As should the rest of you who have chosen to follow them to your demise. Had you any care for your own children, you would see that this is the only way."

All you can do is stare at your two tennyo mothers as the commotion brings the others running. Fujihime holds out her arm in a 'stop' motion.

"Do not interfere." She calls coolly. Matsuhime picks herself up, jumping into the courtyard, ready to fight. She snaps a twig of pine from one of the trees, causing it to transform into a taichi sword, bundles of pine needles hanging like tassels from the hilt.

"Interesting." Kurama steps forward to face her.

Fujihime and Aoihime's auras start to crackle with energy and both unfold fans. It looks more like they are dancing than fighting. All you can bring yourself to do is sit and watch them. You don't know who you should be fighting.

"So you use plants as well." Matsuhime says with disdain and twirls her sword. She jabs at Kurama who shifts just enough to the side so that all she gets is hair, then makes a counter with his whip.

Matsuhime leaps aside, only to have the whip catch the backs of her legs as Kurama brings it back in toward himself. She flips, preventing herself from falling onto her back.

"... Aw, man, I can't hit girls." Kuwabara sweatdrops, watching.

"You wouldn't make a difference anyway." Hiei snorts.

"HEY! If they were men, I'd pound 'em into the ground!" Kuwabara shouts.

The roots of one of your pines spike up like spears, forcing Kurama back a bit as he cuts them down with his whip.

"Your weapon is meant for closer range, it's a mistake to drive me back." Kurama speaks calmly to Matsuhime.

"Perhaps." She makes a slash with her sword, sending a crescent of white energy at Kurama. It's too easy to see coming and Kurama jumps over it, closing the distance between them as he wraps his whip around the tennyo's sword arm.

"You are not someone who has seen much real combat." Kurama notes to her. She snarls and tosses her sword to her free hand, cutting the whip and disentangling herself.

You continue to watch the two fights unfolding. Matsuhime is growing frustrated and is distracted by keeping an eye on her mother's fight, while Kurama remains composed and focused. Fujihime and Aoihime seem evenly matches. Neither has actually landed a blow, only clashed metal ribbed fans. It really is more like a dance than a fight and you wonder if there is some other purpose to it in tennyo culture. As you watch them, mesmerized, you think...

I'm confused.
What am I doing?
Who is right?

You think back on your conversation with Aoihime, thoughts turning inward, away from the fights. Of course you don't want your friends to suffer, but could you live with yourself in a new world and not suffer, knowing the pain and sacrifice that it was built on? Would you even be yourself if you were 'blessed' to not recall any of it?

How can there ever be a world without suffering? You've forgotten the past before, you didn't like it. "What you are all doing is only causing more suffering!" ... "Do you want your friends to continue to suffer in this impossible battle?"

It's then a realization hits you, like a shock to your entire system. Aoihime was trying to manipulate you through those feelings, just like your father did. Exploiting and twisting them until... like Yasuyama, you realize. His feelings were exploited in much the same, though at his end he died not for their cause, but for you.

The memories may feel distant now, but the rage that ignites within you is a familiar feeling. The same feeling you felt when you fought Nibori.

"Aoihime!" You stand up. Your call stops her battle with Fujihime as they both look at you.

"I will not forgive you!" You snarl, debris of the door rising up as your own aura flares up.

"Chiyori..." She stares at you. "Do you still not understand?"

Matsuhime shrieks, drawing everyone's attention. Kurama has her sword, but he stops the blade just short of her, much to her surprise.

"You should kill me, demon." She growls.

"It's a mistake to be so willing to throw your life away when someone offers to spare it." Kurama looks down at her, his face revealing nothing. It surprises him when she throws herself forward onto her blade, using the chance to sink a pine dagger into his shoulder.

"Matsuhime!" Aoihime throws her fan in Fujihime's face and rushes to her other daughter. Wrapping her arms around the wounded tennyo she shoots up into the air.

"... Foolish." Kurama yanks the weapon out.

You run into the courtyard, about the launch yourself into the air after Aoihime, but Fujihime holds out a hand.

"She will not escape." Fujihime says calmly, then begins making motions with her hands. "Honorable Kami, lend to me your messenger so that I may track my prey."

A piercing howl comes from the shrine, followed by a mass of energy, which leaps from the shrine to the courtyard, manifesting into a wolf at least the size of two horses. It comes to Fujihime's side.

"What the hell!?" Yusuke stares.

"What is that thing!?" Kuwabara moves back in surprise.

"Kami, as you know, have animal messengers. Foxes are the messengers of Inari, for example." Kurama comes to his companion's side. "Wolves, especially in mountain areas are also thought to be messengers." There's a certain amount of wonder in his voice. "You see, when you place an honorific "o" in front of Kami, it sounds the same as okami [wolf]."

"Follow them for me." Fujihime orders the massive beast. It howls again and takes to the air is if it were running on it.

After several moments of weird silence pass, Yusuke speaks up.

"So, uh, what was all that about?"

You open your mouth to explain, but Fujihime speaks before you can begin.

"Since the red and black goddesses came together, factions have made themselves known in Spirit World. The Lady Who Weaves the Brocade, who we thought had been in ascetic isolation was really the one who made it possible for the white goddess to manifest herself physically. She allowed herself to be the vessel. Others, like, Aoihime, have chosen to side against Lord Koenma."

"Why did Aoihime come here to speak to Chiyori?" Kurama inquires, looking at you.

"... She wanted to convince me as her daughter to... join them." You stare at the ground shamefully.

"Well, it isn't like you were gonna... right?" Kuwabara frowns. You don't look at any of them.

"I'm not going to lie and say I didn't think about it." You speak quietly. "But then I realized she was doing the exact same thing my father had done. Using my feelings against me to take advantage of my weak will."

"Guess it didn't work, 'cause your still with us!" Yusuke slaps you on the back. Still you can't look at any of them. You're too ashamed of yourself.

"No. I'm going to go with Fujihime." You turn away and head into the shrine to fetch your hagoromo. You remember where it is now.

I'll ascend and start over... You don't feel like you can face any of them, not as this weak willed person. You...

Are ashamed of your yourself and your inadequacies.
Are mad at yourself for having almost betrayed them.
Wouldn't have this problem if you'd kept your distance.

The call to ascend is strong, and you've lost any desire to fight it. I'm tennyo. It will be better if I am with other tennyo. I can sort myself out, away from people who know the kind of person I am right now. You retrieve your robe from the shrine's honden.

Everyone is gathered outside your house when you come outside, so you head over there. Botan, Keiko, and Shizuru out outside as well.

"You're leaving?" Botan stares at you with almost puppy like eyes.

"Yes." You nod.

"Are you sure you are ready?" Fujihime holds in her hand the bracelet she made for you. "If not..."

"I am." You nod again and force yourself to look at everyone. I should at least say good bye. The memories of your interactions with them have a certain dullness to them for which you find yourself grateful, the distance helps lessen your guilt. The emotions though, they're still clear in your mind and in your heart. They're your friends, but you aren't really worthy of it.

"Keiko..." You hug her. "We haven't really had a chance to know each other, but thank you so much for being my friend."

"Chiyo..." She forces a smile after you let go and offers up a weak protest. "But how can we have the wedding here without you?"

"It's all right. You two don't even need a ceremony, anyway. Everyone knows already how you feel about each other. You're very lucky." You smile sadly.

"Oh, you can't go! You just can't!" Botan protests when you turn to her.

"I'm sorry, Botan." You hug her next. "It's just better this way. Thank you so much though, you're a great friend. Thank you for being there for me."

"Chiyo!" She hugs you tighter, and it takes some effort to pull away. Next you face Kuwabara and Shizuru.

"I don't actually know that much about either of you... but we couldn't have tried to handle the cult without you, Kuwabara. And thank you, Shizuru, for telling me what I really needed to hear, even though the truth hurt."

"You're really goin', Fujiwara? But what about the Goddess?" Kuwabara asks.

"I'm going to keep fighting... with the tennyo." You look down.

"Good luck." Shizuru shrugs. You nod and walk up to Yusuke.

"So yer sure about this? I mean... well... " Yusuke scratches his head.

"I've made up my mind." You hug him, too. "Thanks for believing in me even when I didn't believe in myself. I'm sorry though that some of that belief was unfounded."

"Um... sure. Yeah. No problem. Don't worry about, Fujiwara." He seems a bit uncomfortable. "I just don't see why you gotta leave right now..."

You don't answer and go to say good bye to Kurama.

"... I will not try to stop you, if this is what you truly want, Chiyori." He looks down at you and frowns. "But I don't think this is it. Why are you leaving? It's quite clear you aren't yet fully yourself when you transform."

"... You've always been able to see through me pretty well, huh?" You laugh, but it's an empty laugh. Kurama doesn't answer.

"I'm sorry for having lied about finding my father." You hug him. "You're a good friend, and I shouldn't have done that. But thank you for being there to listen to me."

"You didn't answer my question. Why are you leaving?"

"This is what I want."
"The call is strong."
"I already have said."

"I don't believe that is the case." Kurama narrows his eyes. You move away because you've said what you wanted to say and turn to face Hiei. Momentarily your words catch in your throat.

"What?" He scowls as you stand in front of him.

"... I'm sorry there wasn't more I could do for you, Hiei."

"If you're going to go, then go. Don't waste time on meaningless words." He snaps.

"Meaningless words, huh?" You look thoughtful. "Very well. Say good bye to Yukina for me, and..."

A small smirk tugs at your lips. You're going to be leaving anyway. It seems a bit wrong to leave having made your feelings clear with everyone else but him.

Taking advantage of the element of surprise, you lean in close suddenly and bring your lips to his.

"Farewell." You move away, while he stares, unable to muster any snide retort. Yusuke is sputtering and the only one who looks more shocked than Hiei is Fujihime.

"Chi-Chiyori!" She sounds outright offended.

"Eeew." Kuwabara makes a face.

"Gimmie that!" Yusuke snatches the bracelet from the flabbergasted tennyo.

"Yusuke-" Kurama watches him.

"H-hey!" You drop the cloth wrapped bundle containing your robe when Yusuke grabs your arm. "What do you think you're doing!?"

"Oh, there's no way your just leaving after that display, Fujiwara!" He seems more amused than anything else.

"Don't you-! Let go of me!" You can't believe he's trying to stop you. You move to slap him but he catches your hand and forces the bracelet back on on you.


Everything goes black.

"What the hell?" You open your eyes and see ceiling above you. You're in the main room of your house and it takes you a moment to recall what was going on between Aoihime taking your bracelet and waking up just now. Someone must have dragged in inside, but the events are blurry at best and you can't recall what you were saying. Something about leaving with Fujihime. Weren't you saying good bye to everyone?

"Oh shit!" You sit upright, clasping your hands over your mouth. One memory is crystal clear. You notice Fujihime isn't around, and neither Kurama nor Hiei are in the room either. Botan can't contain herself any longer and lets loose a peal of laughter.

"Wh-what happened?" You manage to squeak the words out.

"Well." Yusuke sits down by you. "You wanted to leave. You gave Hiei a nice little good bye kiss and then I insisted you stay. Fujihime was pretty flustered and went after the wolf she summoned to look for Aoihime and Matsuhime. Anything you wanna tell us?"

"N-no." You mumble. You never wanted him to know, well, maybe on some level you did as evidenced by your actions, but rationally you never wanted him to know.

"So you don't want to practice your explanation to Hiei?" Yusuke starts laughing and you cringe.

"Yusuke, leave her alone!" Keiko orders.

"Yeah, dumbass." Shizuru hits his head.

"W-where is he?" You ask, though you aren't sure what to say or do.

"He's still outside with Kurama... Botan made us drag you inside." Kuwabara shrugs.

You scramble to your feet and rush to the door, not bothering to put your shoes on. You can hear them outside as you open the door.

"And how long have you known, Kurama?" Their backs are to you.

"Perhaps before she realized, but you should consider that she wasn't quite herself just now."

"Don't make excuses for her-"

"H-Hiei!" You call from the edge of the veranda that surrounds your house, desperately trying to bring more words to your mouth. Kurama turns, and Hiei looks over his shoulder at you.

"You can't take her place, so don't bother trying." His voice is quiet and cold.

"I... I wasn't! I'm sorry, I didn't mean-" You interrupt yourself. "I didn't want- I never wanted you to know how I felt-"

"What makes you think I care?" He turns his back to you. For a moment his words cause your voice to fail and you are silent.

"... Yeah. Why should you?" You look down. "I guess... I'm foolish like mother. I won't... trouble you with myself again."

You slip back inside as Hiei walks toward the front gate. You hear Kurama call after him as you slide the door shut. You laugh bitterly at yourself, but there are tears in your eyes. You don't care that everyone is staring at you as you slump against the door. To yourself, you whisper...

"I knew... I knew that this would happen."
"I'm so stupid... why am I so damn stupid?"
"I should have taken my hagoromo and left."

Ouch. I mean, ouch. But that's where we end today. Seems the cat is out of the bag, huh? I thought it'd been pretty clear for you readers since part 24, but a few of you were asking me about any love interests. I assume this part has made every quite clear, yes? Not that it went well... in fact, it couldn't have gone much worse!

As I said in the memo, I'd been sitting on some of this stuff for awhile, since I started writing, even. So I'd really love to hear what you think of the chapter because it's been in the works for a very long time!

How could you be so evil? Meanie!
Ouch is right, that really did hurt.
Well I wasn't asking about it!

Chapter 29
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