He flipped his hair back over his shoulders and wiped the perspiration from his brow with the back of his hand. The Makai sun scorched the parched land. Heat rose in simmering waves from the overheated ground. For once, the denizens of Makai had taken to hiding out in the cool shelter provided by the natural green canopy covering the land instead of pitting themselves against each other to better their skills. So what in the whole of Makai am I doing out here in the sweltering heat when I can be back at home having a nice and cosy nap in my nice and cosy bed? He frowned. You are getting soft after enjoying all the comforts the Ningenkai has to offer. He sighed and plodded onwards. I must be insane to do this... I must be insane to do this... I must be insane... I am insane to even think of doing this. But I have to know...
This was it. He paused outside the naturally hollowed out cave that had been turned into a youkai's dwelling, hesitated for an instant, then knocked. A rather cheerful voice called out, "Door's unlocked! Come in!" Without further ado, he pushed open the door and stepped in. The little hide-out was surprisingly neat and well-furnished, by Makai standards. Blood on the floor, rotting skeletons lying around after being randomly thrown aside with decapitated heads displayed proudly for all to see on a mantelpiece; all these were nowhere to be seen. Yet given the youkai's reputation...
"Just leave everything on the table and take a seat, I'll be out in a minute!" He looked around, there weren't any chairs to sit on, it seemed impolite to sit on the table; therefore he chose to stand instead, leaning against the rocky wall, arms crossed before his chest and waited.
He wondered what the youkai's definition of a minute was when the youkai failed to emerge after quite some time. "Excuse me?" he ventured.
Almost immediately the youkai he had travelled so far to see stepped out, still attired in his characteristic black. His long black hair was however, was tied up in a ponytail instead of its usually loose cascade down his back. "Sorry I took so... you..." The youkai's violet eyes widened slightly, a faint glitter of fear appeared beneath its depths. "What are you doing here? Have you come to finished what you started at the Ankoku?"
"I mean you no harm."
"Yeah right and the sun comes out at night. Get lost!"
"But..." Our 'young' protagonist protested. Youki flowed forth from the youkai in dark waves and little green orbs materialized from thin air, surrounding the agitated youkai in a protective cocoon.
"Karasu, listen to me! I just..." Youko Kurama watched as Karasu faltered. He moved towards him, hoping to catch Karasu before he fell.
"NO! STAY BACK!" Several green orbs flew towards Kurama with blinding speed. With a slight wave of his hand, Kurama scattered several seeds in a wide arc and harmlessly disintegrated the bombs.
Karasu watched as Kurama approached him slowly. He lay on the ground, too drained to even move, dread flooding the very core of his being with each step that brought Kurama closer to him. It was still too early, he should not have used his youki. His health only just took a turn for the better a couple of days ago. He winced as the dull ache in his heart steadily intensified. The silver youko's shadow loomed over him, he cringed and shut his eyes, his hands balled into tight fists, one over the painful throb in his chest and the other at his side, praying that his end would be over fast.
Kurama realised with a start that Karasu was afraid of him. He knelt down next to him, Karasu's youki was weak. He had a tightly clenched fist over his heart and appeared to be in great pain. Kurama gently touched Karasu's brow. Karasu flinched as if he'd been burnt. Kurama tilted his chin up and forced him to swallow some herbs which he drew out from his silver mane. "Is that better?"
Even though the pain subsided, Karasu relaxed only slightly, then hissed, "What do you want from me?"
Kurama sighed then transformed into his weaker ningen form before replying, "Answers." As Karasu considered whether to grant Kurama an audience with him, the remaining little green orbs slowly faded into the background once more. "Well?" Kurama cocked his head to the side, his red bangs falling over his large green eyes.
"Fine. But I reserve the right not to answer any question of yours if I do not-"
"Of course," Kurama hastened to assure Karasu.
"Sit," Karasu indicated to the few cushions that lay scattered around the low table. "I have a couple of questions for you myself."
Kurama nodded, "You start."
"How did you get here? Powerful youkais shouldn't be able to..."
"Ah... but Minamino Shuuichi isn't as powerful as Youko Kurama." Kurama answered with a twinkle in his bright green eyes. I switched to youko form only after I crossed the border. My turn. How are your injuries?"
Karasu looked irritated. "Accessing your enemies' physical condition before you plan your attack, kitsune?"
Kurama smirked, "And what if I am? Nothing you can do is going to be of any help. So you might as well tell me."
"I'm not dead yet."
"I can't use my powers."
"You saw what happened just now! Whenever I try to... but it's only temporary, I'll live."
"You'll live? I'm glad to hear that."
Karasu flared up. "What kind of game are you playing at?!"
"Huh?" Kurama looked genuinely innocent.
"I tried to kill you and you're glad I'm still alive?! I suppose you want to catch me unaware, turn back into your youko form, sodomize and rip me up, then leave me to die slowly and painfully while you watch on with a cruel smile played across your lips?! I don't think so. You'd best just leave now."
Kurama arched an eyebrow up and flashed Karasu an amused smile. "You do have an very creative imagination. Point aside, why would I want to do a thing like that?"
"I tried to kill you."
"That's just it. You did not."
"What do you mean?"
"If you really wanted to kill me, I wouldn't be here right this very minute scaring the *ahem* out of you."
"You are not scaring the-"
"We're digressing. What I want to know is why you did not kill me when you had the chance."
Karasu scowled. He hated the way Kurama cut him off. If looks could kill... still Kurama clearly had the upperhand here, even though he was in his human form. "I wanted to toy around with you before I finished you off. Things didn't go according to plan though."
"I want the truth."
"I've already told you the truth."
"And that's not it. I want the real truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
"I've already told you that..." Kurama frowned. He never thought a frightened youkai could be so tight-lipped. "...at the Ankoku... before we fought... I told you..."
"You like me?"
"I heard you kill the things you like."
"Why did you make me an exception?"
"You-" Karasu spluttered.
"Just answer the question," Kurama said in a cold voice.
"Fine. Even if I had defeated you, even if I had finished you off, I'd still be under the Toguro brothers' thumb. I wanted to get out from under their wing. And the only way I could, is if someone else defeated them. I wanted to kill Toguro with my bare hands but I knew I wasn't strong enough. I was hoping that the Urameshi team would win."
"I see," Kurama smiled. "Well, thank you for being so cooperative."
"As if I had a choice," Karasu muttered darkly.
"I'll just pretend I did not hear that." Kurama sniffed, then metamorphed into his youko self once more. "I'll be taking my leave now."
"Don't worry, I'll be back for another visit soon."
"Look, you really shouldn't. It's too much of a bother."
"No bother at all." Kurama called cheerfully as he stepped out of the doorway. "By the way, " he called over his shoulder, "I think your dinner's burnt."
End of Part 1.