Hi! The previous 2 chapters were kinda plotless. I wanted to have some fun before I started on the 'real thing' . Anyway, thanks for being so patient with me!
Hiei: Hn. What do you expect from a writer whose puny mind is suffering from a braincell deficit?
Kenshin: Ano... I don't think you should say that de gozaru...
Kurama: Yah. Look at the way she got rid of the great Reikai Tantei, Urameshi Yuusuke...
Kuwabara: [squealing highly excitedly] Hey! Do you mean to say that the Shorty will go 'poof' on the writer's say-so?
Yuusuke: Yeah. I went 'poof' like it was nobody's business. What stupid dumb timeline crappy nonsense! I say, Rurouni just can't write a fic well enough to fittingly depict my prowess... That's why she took the easy way out, by erasing me from the timeline.
Koenma: And you had to mess things up for me? I'm going to be spanked! Do you know who you just released into Ningenkai? ARGH!!!
Yuusuke: Don't know and don't care.
"Get off me, kyoudai. You're not weightless," Kenshin said quietly instead of starting a little scrimage by tugging at Shuuichi's hair as he usually did.
"I am hurt! I think my heart is broken!" Shuuichi touched a spot over his left chest and fluttered his eyelashes in an overly dramatic gesture. "Still thinking about that unsolvable sheep-pen mystery?"
"No. Can you get off me?" Kenshin managed to wheeze out.
"My, you certainly are cranky today."
"So?" Shuuichi prompted.
"So?" Kenshin countered. Shuuichi frowned, it was going to taking quite a bit of effort to crack that shell, especially when his twin was in such a mood. He looked at his irate twin, whose usually gentle eyes were narrowed into slits and touched by the faint glint of gold. He looked just about ready to usher a few souls along their way to the afterworld, starting with an irritating red-haired twin. The "Hitokiri" mood as Shuuichi termed it, what Shiori feared most for her son, that Kenshin would... Shuuichi gripped Kenshin shoulders and Kenshin's eyes narrowed further, the violet in them receding into the gold, a pallor of it's usual deep lustre. "Don't lose it," Shuuichi half-pleaded, half-commanded. "Don't you dare lose it now."
After what seemed like a millenium to Shuuichi, Kenshin blinked, a confused look settling in his eyes, "Oro? Shuuichi-kun, you're hurting me." Kenshin winced.
"Oh! Gomenasai!" Shuuichi hurriedly relaxed his grip on Kenshin's shoulders. He did not completely release him though.
"I did it again, didn't I?" Kenshin asked softly, his eyes downcast and gradually filling up with glistening tears. Shuuichi hugged Kenshin to him tightly and rocked him for a while, softly crooning in his ear and stroking his hair. "I'm a nutcase, you should just send me to the asylum and get done with it," Kenshin said bitterly,
"No," Shuuichi said firmly. "You're getting better, at least you didn't whip my butt this time round. It lasted only a few seconds. Once we find out what the root cause of the problem is... once we figure out what triggers the personality-switch..."
Kenshin nodded slowly. "What did I do this time?"
"Nothing much. Just glared at me like I was the scum of the earth and looked like you couldn't wait to scrape me off its surface."
Kenshin smiled wryly, "That's because you are."
"Oho! That's the thanks I get for-"
"Thank you," Kenshin said softly with a slight smile.
"I said,'Thank you.'"
"I know but... you usually... ah, never mind. So, what's eating you?"
"A pesky kyoudai who refuses to get off me."
After a couple of pillows got smashed in Kenshin's face, Shuuichi finally got back on track. "I'm serious now. What's bothering you? Maybe your tensai kyoudai can spare you a couple of his braincells." Shuuichi winked and smiled warmly down at Kenshin.
Kenshin hestitated an instant, then blurted out a "Do you believe in ghosts?"
"You know, spirits, demons, the undead dead, youkais, youkos, onis, zombies, vampires, pontianaks and such?"
Shuuichi sobered up. After a while, he said slowly, "They do exist."
"Have you seen them before?"
A pause. "Sometimes," Shuuichi finally said. "Tell me what happened? What did you see?"
"A ghost... I think."
"Yes? And?" Shuuichi almost died of pent-up frustration at Kenshin's elusive answer.
"It was this morning... in school..."
"Uh-huh? Yes? Go on!" Shuuichi said excitedly. Kenshin could just imagine a pair of little fox ears peeping out from Shuuichi's head. He smothered a giggle at the mental image his mind presented to him and continued.
"There was this guy with his hair slicked right back. He was wearing a green uniform." Kenshin swallowed before going on. "He was transluscent. He mouthed out a single word to me before he vanished like the morning mist. It doesn't make sense though."
"The word he was trying to say, 'Kurama'."
Shuuichi stared at Kenshin, his apparent surprise laid out on his face for all the world to see. He looked aghast, his jaw hanging loose but he recovered almost immediately, a mask sliding in place to hide his actual emotions. "Go on," he urged Kenshin. It's a good thing Kenshin wasn't looking at me then, if he were, he'd suspect something.
"I've never heard of 'Kurama'. Do you think he got knocked down by a car and is now haunting that area?"
"I think..." Kenshin stared at Shuuichi intently, waiting for him to impart some of his fruits of wisdom to him. "I think... you've been working too hard on your Maths." Kenshin facefaulted.
"Kyoudai, that wasn't what you said before. You said ghosts DO exist. That and the fact that your jaw as good as touched the floor for a brief split-second before you snapped it shut at the word 'Kurama' plainly tells me that you know more about it than you let on. I want to be in on it too."
Shuuichi frowned. Kenshin had always been the observant one, hardly anything escaped his eye. Still, he wondered if Kenshin would accept him after he revealed his secret. "Can we talk about this later?" Kenshin pursed up his lip, obviously not about to let him get of the hook easily. "I promise I'll tell you later. Right now, I'm supposed to drag your sorry hide down to meet 'Kaasan's new flame. He's really cool, come on."
"He's here?" Kenshin hurriedly bounced after Shuuichi, the ghostly apparition and Shuuichi's drastic reaction temporarily forgotten.
Their dinner guest was tall and lanky, with long jet-black hair cascading pass his waist. He appeared to like the colour black for he was dressed from top to toe in black. His violet eyes were somewhat similiar to Kenshin's, sharp and alert but wisdom sparkled within their depths. He introduced himself as...
Shuuichi had to pinch Kenshin to keep him from laughing out loud when he heard Kurokarasu's name. Kenshin coughed, then whispered to Shuuichi, "Looks delicious... Black Crow."
"Keep your paws off him, hentai," Shuuichi whispered back harshly through the sweet smile he directed at Kurokarasu. Most people would have found that an impossible feat, but Shuuichi apparently was not 'most people'.
"I meant he's good enough for 'Kaasan, in terms of looks. I have not accessed his character though, that's a more important criteria to look out for if he's dreaming of being my 'Tousan... I don't want a nasty abusive step-father."
"What are you talking about? You'd probably abuse any step-father before they have the chance to show their true colours. No, make that, you'll scare them off before they even become step-fathers."
"And this is my Kenshin," Shiori happily showed off her twin pride of joys.
"Charmed," Kurokarasu replied with a warm smile that lit up Shiori's as well.
Throughout dinner, Kurokarasu proved to be an exceedingly wonderful conversationalist, often eliciting peals of laughter from the Minaminos with his extremely witty repertoire. He seem genuinely concerned about the boys' welfare and their schoolwork. He even offered to help to tutor Kenshin in Maths. Kenshin especially approved of the way he treated Shiori, he was a perfect gentleman around her. Kurokarasu's eyes soften whenever his gaze wandered over to Shiori. He had offered to help to do the dishes. Shiori, of course, adamantly refused to let him. In short, he passed Kenshin's little character assessment.
After dinner, Kenshin helped Shiori to do the dishes while the task of entertaining Kurokarasu fell entirely to Shuuichi. Shuuichi had been in a pensive mood the entire night, often frowning and at times staring off to space.
Kurokarasu coughed politely then asked, "Is there something you want to say to me?"
Shuuichi's frown deepened,"Am I that obvious?"
"Since you broached the subject... what exactly are you and what do you want?"
"Ah! I guess you already know then. It's not surprising, seeing as you are one yourself. Like you, I am a youkai."
"How did you know?" Shuuichi asked in a dangerous voice.
"The way you know about me I suppose. I sensed your ki, youki. It's different from your twin's. As for what I'm doing, that's quite a redundant question if I may add. I am trying to strike up a conversation with you and possibly try to build up a good relationship between us, so that things won't be so abrupt when I move in to live with you."
"Moving in. It would more precise to say, I'm getting married soon, to your 'Kaasan. Shiori wanted the both of you to get to know me before she breaks the news to you. Kenshin isn't a problem, he seems to like me."
"He's innocent and naive. He hasn't fully mastered the concept of never judging a book by its cover."
"Ah, but I really do love Shiori. If I didn't remember wrongly there isn't a rule in either Makai or Ningenkai forbidding youkais and ningens to live happily ever after."
"If you dare hurt 'Kaasan..."
"You really don't think I'd hurt the woman of my dreams do you? One who has captured my dark youkai heart."
Shuuichi smiled wryly, " You haven't changed one bit, Kuro."
"Do you want me to? I can always go around destroying that which I love, starting with you... dear Kurama... or do you prefer Shuuichi? Speaking of which, what in Makai are you doing in a female human body?!"
"It's male. Long story, I'll tell you some other time. Right now there is one thing I must know..."
"And that is?"
"How in the world did you manage to hide your ratty batty wings?" Shuuichi said as he pounced on his best friend and tackled him as they used to do so, so many centuries ago.
"Don't you ever hurt Kaasan, or I'll..."
"Feed me to some gunpowder-eating, blood-sucking carnivorous Makai plant... yah yah, I've only heard that threat about a million times before. Try something more original. You really do love that human, don't you? Hard to imagine, the great capricious bandit youkai, Youko Kurama... in love... and with a human too!"
"Hey! It's not that kind of love."
"I know. Shiori is a wonderful woman. That's why I intend to marry her and keep her for myself, I'll give anyone who so much as looks at her funny a complimentay black eye or two."
"Wait a minute! Does this mean I have to call you ''Tousan'?"
"I like the sound of that."
Shuuichi groaned, "Don't even think about it!"
Shiori stared in shock at the scene before her eyes. Her hopes of getting together with Kurokarasu imploded like a burst balloon.
"Shuuichi! What are you doing?!" Shuuichi looked up from where he sat, perched atop Kurokarasu, with a fistful of his black hair in one hand and the black collar of Kurokarasu's shirt in the other.
"Don't worry about it, Shiori, we were merely getting acquainted with each other. I like both your sons very much, I'm sure they like me too, right Kura-Shuuichi." Kurokarasu fondly ruffled Shuuichi's red locks. Shuuichi tried not to grimace. "At this rate, I'll be able to marry you tomorrow. At least, Shuuichi has given me the permission to live happily ever after with you-" Shuuichi pretended to sock Kurokarasu one while Kurokarasu feinted injury and doubled over in pain. Shiori looked distressed.
"Don't worry 'Kaasan, if they're playing like that, it means they really like each other. Shuuichi plays rough with me too, and I know he likes me." Kenshin flashed Shiori a playful smile as he joined in the fun. Shiori could not hide the smile spreading across her face. It was only the first time Kurokarasu had met Shuuichi and Kenshin, yet, the boys already treated him like one of the family. She could not see how things could get any better.
She was right. They couldn't.
More author's notes:
Kurokarasu is a figment of my own imagination... well, basically I just dumped the ingredients for creating a Black Bird [Kuronue] and a Crow [Karasu] together and voila! I got Kurokarasu [Black Crow]. Hmm... highly original... this is so fun! I never expected Kurokarasu's appearance, he wrote himself into the story. The orginal 'flame' up till a few minutes ago was supposed to be Karasu...