Karasu: I can't take it anymore!
Kuronue: Me too! Another minute with that awful Crow and I'll...
Karasu: Hey! I'm suffering more than you are. And who're you calling a Crow?!
Kuronue: Shut up, Blackie! Rurouni, I want out!
Rurouni: Uhm... please... just a while more.
Karasu: I don't want to merge with that Bat!
Kuronue: Why you...
Karasu: What ever gave you the idea to merge us anyway!
Kuronue: We're so different! I'm an angel and he's a devil!
Karasu: [sardonic tone] Yah right!
Rurouni: But you aren't too different. You both like black. Both have long black hair, both have violet eyes, both are youkais, both are super bishounens...
Karasu: Now that's true...
Rurouni: Most importantly, you both like Kurama!
Kuronue: Well, yah, so maybe we are alike. So the deal's I get to be alive?
Karasu: And Kurama must be nice to me?
Karasu and Kuronue: OKIE!
Rurouni: But you don't appear in this chapter.
Karasu and Kuronue: WHAT?!
On a typical fairytale morning, the sun was shinning brightly in the clear blue sky... the birds were awake long before dawn and were currently singing their hearts out. One red-head in the Minamino household stubbornly refused to be awaken.
"Kurama! Wake up! We have that museum trip today! KURAMAAAAAAAAAA!" Kenshin was about to dump a pail of water over Shuuichi's head when he finally stirred.
"...give me 5 minutes..." Shuuichi murmured and snuggled back under his warm covers again. Kenshin seethed. The pail of water previously hovering dangerously over Shuuichi head now found its sleepy mark. Shuuichi awoke with a squeal akin to that of a drowning rat..
"WHAT IS IT!?! Some people are trying to sleep here!"
"Some people have a museum excursion to go to today, Kurama."
"Oh yah! I almost forgot! The musuem!" Shuuichi jumped out of bed and changed out of his drenched pyjamas.
"Kurama?" Kenshin tried.
"What are you?" Kenshin asked nonchalantly.
"That's just it. What are you? You answered to the name 'Kurama'. And you obviously knew Kurokarasu-ojisan from long before yesterday." Kenshin idly twisted a corner of Shuuchi's blanket.
"Hey! Stop that." Shuuichi rescued the corner from Kenshin.
"Stop trying to throw me off-track," Kenshin said coldly. Shuuichi sighed. When Kenshin was in this mood, nothing he could whip up would deter him.
"I'm a youkai."
"I thought so," Kenshin smiled. "Now was that so hard?"
"What?!" Shuuichi spluttered, "You mean you knew?!"
"I suspected. I haven't been your twin for 15 years for nothing, you know. I've seen you with plants, they obey your every whim and fancy. At times, I look over at you and see a silhouette of a silver fox-man. A very good-looking one, cold golden eyes, long silver hair and a silky tail, with cute little furry ears to match, all dressed in white. That's you, isn't it? Your true form?" Kenshin looked up at his twin, catching his emerald orbs with his own questioning violet ones.
Kenshin had seen his true form? Could it be due to the unique bond that only twins share? Shuuichi knew that he could refute everything. However, he also knew that his secret would be let out eventually. Since Kenshin had already hazard an accurate guess about him and did not seem to mind, perhaps it would be better to reveal his dark past to him. Shuuichi slowly nodded. "Yes... I'm a youko, a fox-demon. I'll tell you more some other time, right now we have that museum to go to."
"Tell me all about yourself, your other life. Now. I woke you up early so we have plenty of time." Kenshin said firmly.
"You what?!" Shuuichi practically screeched, then groaned and heaved a sigh of defeat.
After a bout of story-telling came a question-and-answer session, with Kenshin acting as the interrogator and Shuuichi, the interrogated. "So you used to be the greatest bandit in Makai. And Kurokarasu-ojisan was your partner." Shuuichi nodded. "Till you got shot one day by Makai bounty hunters?"
Shuuichi shuddered slightly at the memory of that day, the sound of the gunshot still ringing plainly in his mind, the day Youko Kurama died. "You could say that," Shuuichi said slowly.
"I don't get it."
"If you were that great why were you shot?" Shuuichi sweatdropped while Kenshin babbled on. "And you said Kurokarasu-ojisan had a fetish for killing things that he like?"
"Uh-huh. 'Has'. Kuro still enjoys killing anything he likes." Shuuichi did not like where this was heading.
"Then, why aren't you killed yet? Does this mean Kuroka-ojisan doesn't like you? Kuroka-ojisan said that he liked 'Kaasan. Is he going to kill her then?"
"No. Kuro only kills when whoever he bestowed his love upon doesn't love him in return or stops loving him."
"Good insurance. I might try that." Kenshin said thoughtfully.
"Don't you dare!"
"Last question. Do I have another twin? I mean, what happened to my real twin when you took over his body?" An innocent question which cut Shuuichi to the heart.
"Aren't I real enough?" Shuuichi asked in a quiet voice, his eyes sad.
"I've been being living in a human body for 15 years. Though that's only
a blink of an eye as compared with all the centuries I've lived in the
Makai, it is within these 15 years that I experienced what true love is.
'Kaasan loves me, you love me. Between the 2 of you, I finally learnt what
is it like to love and be loved." Kenshin hugged Shuuichi and whispered
a "I'm sorry."
Shuuichi held Kenshin in his arms as he continued to explain his transition from the Makai to the Ningenkai, when he threw his soul into his current fragile human body in a desperate attempt to save his life. "There wasn't another twin. In the eyes of Youko Kurama, the only thing that mattered at that moment was survival. At any cost. When he threw his soul into this body, his intention was to take over the unborn child, heart, mind and soul. But you were stronger than that, Kenshin. You refused to be suppressed and pushed out of existence. You fought back. You managed to free yourself from Kurama. You survived, and I love you for that. We became two entities, united in ways no one understands, yet each an individual with our own hopes and dreams. You became part of the reason Youko Kurama became a compassionate human-loving wuss." Both brothers remained silent for a while, each occupied with his own thoughts.
"Kenshin, I'm sorry. For trying to snuff out your little life." Shuuichi tried to ease the sour tension in the air.
"I hate you." Kenshin sulked.
"And I love you too!" Shuuichi gave Kenshin his very best youko-hug.
"Now let's get going or we'll miss the trip entirely," Shuuichi gave his twin a little shove.
"Hai hai," Kenshin said as he let himself be pushed out of the room.
Strange. Kenshin is not acting like himself. Why is he so calm about everything? Shuuichi sneaked a glance at Kenshin. Kenshin spotted the stolen glance and smiled. His eyes were flecks of gold. Slitted golden eyes... just like me when I'm Youko Kurama, but he's smiling... Could it be that his schizophrenia is a result of my trying to merge with him in the past?
"Oei! Hiei! Whatcha doing there?" Kuwabara yelled as he waved wildly to his fellow classmate. Hiei sauntered over and halted before Kuwabara. "Cool bandanna, Hiei! Where did you get it? Come on, take it off, I want to have a look at it."
Hiei looked irritated. "Hn. Look but don't touch."
"Hey, what's with you? That time of the month? Why are you being such a grouse today?" Kuwabara asked in that loud screechy voice of his.
"Hn. The Minaminos are here," Hiei observed.
"OEI! MINAMINOS!!!" Kuwabara screeched. All living things around the vicinity shuddered, the birds took to the skies to calm their frayed nerves, leaves rained down from the trees, flowers withered and homo-sapiens cringed. Such is the power of Kuwabara Kazuma's voice.
"He sure is ... uhm... verbose?" Kenshin smiled at his twin.
"I prefer the word 'loud'." Shuuichi winked at Kenshin and grinned.
"Hn. I call it 'awful'." Hiei put in his 2 cents.
Kuwabara appeared not to have heard, "YES! Now that everyone's here we can go! I'm so excited!!!"
"You're just glad we don't have to be stuck in class for a 3 hour long lecture about the history of Japan." Shuuichi laughed merrily as he gently shoved Kuwabara up their hired transport.
"Hn. I don't see what' so interesting about a bunch of mouldy artifacts coined antiques and several wax statues of dead people. I think it's sick. Why should we gawk over mummified bodies?" Hiei said condescendingly.
Kenshin touched Hiei's forehead. "Are you feeling alright? You were being quite mean to your best friend."
Hiei roughly shoved his hand away. "Who ever said anything about Kuwabara being my best friend?"
"Uhm... I mean... never mind." Kenshin fell silent as Hiei glowered at him.
I can't tell them. I can't tell them that there's a third eye on my forehead. I can't tell them that I've remembered. That this is all wrong. That Yuusuke should be here instead of Kenshin. They wouldn't believe me anyway. If I do that I'd lose a valuable comrade... and if I don't... I'd have lost one too.
"Yoshi! Hiei remembers!" Yuusuke called out in delight as he observed the monitor in Koenma's office.
"Heheh... all thanks to me," The little Koenma in toddler form grinned through his pacifier.
"Oh Koenma-sama, that was a terrific feat! You are so brave, so smart, so cool, so intelligent." The blue oni, George gushed. "So, what exactly did you do?"
"With a little Koenma-magic, I reawakened the youkai blood in Hiei, reopening his jagan. And his jagan helped him to remember, from hence onwards, things should be a lot easily. At least, we have reestablished our link with the Reikai Tantei in Ningenkai." Koenma did a merry little dance on the table of his office. Yuusuke looked at Koenma questioningly. Koenma noticed. "What's wrong?"
"That's for me to know and for you to find out."
"I'm trying to."
"Keep trying." Koenma said haughtily.
Yuusuke shrugged and scratched his head, "A question, your honour."
"Now that Hiei remembers and is a threat to the timeline, won't he be wiped out of existence too?" Yuusuke asked.
"That's different. At that point in time, someone had to be erased so that Himura Kenshin can fill in the void. Now, there is no void to be filled in, so no one will be wiped out." Koenma happily explained.
"What about the escaped youkais, Kuronue and Karasu?" Botan asked.
"They did not escape! Yuusuke made a blunder with my files! Now they've merged as one and are living in Kurama's place!"
"Kurama's place?" Botan asked puzzled, "Why there?"
"Kurama's mother wants them to get used to living with their new evil step-father before she marries him. Don't you watch the television?" An irritated Koenma pointed at the screen in his office. "It may be a blunder on Yuusuke’s part but I have to admit that was just what we needed… a monkey wrench thrown into the gears of time causing a slight time displacement that I needed in order for my Koenma-magic to work."
"Huh?" George and Botan scratched their heads simultaneously, more than a little confused at what Koenma had just told them.
"Well, apparently I have just saved the day again. It's as simple as that." Yuusuke smirked.
"Just keep quiet and let me watch in peace," Koenma scowled fiercely at Yuusuke, then turned to the screen and stared at it intently, occasionally chewing on his pacifier.
Yuusuke shrugged and followed suit, as did Botan and George.
End of Part 8.