The team has to learn and grow to survive, and to find the things worth surviving for. Violence and Angst, Yaoi.
"Yes, Mother, I am here. I am going to bed now, goodnight," Kurama replied, trying to keep his voice both steady and as sweet and innocent as possible, and to control his ragged breathing. Shiori, being his mother, did not fall for it.
As she groped for the lamp she began to ask, "What's the matter, Shuui...." Shiori never finished her question. At her touch the lamp burst into light revealing every mother's nightmare. Her son was half-standing before her, hands on his knees, gasping for air. His clothing was torn and tattered, hanging limply from his stooped frame. He was covered in mud and sweat and a large amount of what appeared to be blood. His face wore an expression that conveyed pain, guilt, and fear. "Shuuichi, what happened?" Shiori asked in a barely audible whisper as she took a hesitant step towards her son. Kurama tried to straighten into a standing position, but the battle had been too long, too hard; the trip home had been too far, especially carrying another, and now the shock of being discovered in the state he was in was too much. For the second time in five minutes he collapsed into a pile on the floor, shaking and choking to breathe.
"Shuuichi!" Shiori gasped as she flew to his side. Kneeling beside him she placed her arms gently around her son and tried to look him over to see if she could determine the cause of his condition.
"Mother," was all Kurama could gasp out.
"Shhh, don't speak. You need a doctor," Shiori hushed him gently.
"No!" Kurama choked out. Shiori, who was already reaching for the phone to call for an ambulance, stopped and turned to the red-haired youth before her. "Please, Mother, I'll be alright. No doctors," he said, pleading with his eyes.
"Shuuichi, be reasonable. You're obviously hurt. At least let me help you into bed and we'll discuss this..." Her voice trailed off as she noticed for the first time the limp figure already occupying the bed. It appeared to be a boy, and in as bad a condition as her son. "Who...." She tried to form the question, but no more words would pass her lips. Shiori sat on the floor unable to speak or move as the full scope of the situation began to sink into her mind.
"Hiei," Kurama replied quietly. "His name is Hiei." Kurama shifted weakly and leaned his side against the closest wall. He knew he was dangerously close to losing consciousness, but he could not let Shiori call a doctor for them. He almost smiled as he pictured the paramedics picking up the "boy" on the bed and removing the wards over his dragon tattoo on his right arm, and over his Jagan. He imagined the reaction of the humans when the Jagan opened, glowing and angry, and the dragon began smoking, freed from the physical ward of the bandage, and loosed from Hiei's control as he slept. Then he realized his mother had already arisen and was approaching Hiei. "Mother, wait!" he called hoarsely to her, stopping her just before she touched the hiyoukai.
"What is going on Shuuichi? I want an answer." Shiori locked her gaze onto her son's face, and was greatly surprised when he, her son, who was always so confident and sure, always the first to make eye contact and the last to break it, turned his head to the side and could not meet her gaze.
Kurama, the legendary bandit, the one whose name still struck fear in the hearts of many Makai residents, the smoothest talker and manipulator in the three worlds averted his face in shame and guilt and whispered gently "I cannot explain, Mother, but..."
"No buts, no excuses, no evasion, Shuuichi. I am your mother, I want an explanation." The always gentle and sweet voice of his mother now took on a more commanding tone. He gasped in surprise and stared at her. When no answer came Shiori again knelt before him and continued, in a much gentler tone. "Shuuichi, you are my son. Whatever has happened, whatever you are involved in, whatever you may have done, I want to know. I love you. I will always love you, no matter what." Kurama turned again towards the floor to his right, but Shiori continued. "I am scared, my son. You keep so much away from me. I never pry; I never ask the questions burning in my heart, but to see you like this. What happened? I want to help you. Let me in, Shuuichi! I lost your father so many years ago, and now I feel like I am losing you too!" She reached out her hand to gently grasp his chin and bring his eyes to look at hers. Instead of a look she expected from a teenage boy: defiance, frustration, anger, even hatred, Shiori was shocked beyond words to see the stream of tears cascading down her son's cheeks. She tried to draw him into a warm embrace, but to her surprise her normally cuddly and affectionate son wrenched himself away from her touch, gasping in pain, and swayed back and forth a bit before finally resting against the wall again.
Kurama wanted nothing more than to crawl into his mother's lap and cry himself into welcome sleep. His wounds ached, his head swam, and his stomach turned. He was dizzy and scared, and just wanted a hug. But when this woman, the one who had given him everything and asked for nothing in return, reached out for him he coldly turned away, ashamed of the wrongs he had committed against her. His sudden movement made him dizzy and drained most of what little strength he had left, and he leaned against the wall to prevent himself from falling over. "I'm sorry, Mother." was all he could say. He closed his eyes and concentrated on breathing to keep himself from falling into the black oblivion that threatened to claim him. He could vaguely feel warm liquid running down his arm, and realized with a foggy mind that one of his wounds must have reopened when he jerked away. Without recognizing the sounds, he heard a person moving, then quick, soft footsteps walked away, only to return a few moments later. A cool, wet, refreshing feeling graced his brow, and his eyes fluttered open to see his mother gently wiping his forehead with a damp cloth.
"Please tell me, Shuuichi, when you are ready," Shiori said softly, in a resigned tone. She wiped her son's face and neck with the cloth, pausing often to dip it into the bowl of cool water she had brought to his room. Just as she had thought that her son would, yet again, block her out of his personal life she heard his weak voice.
"Mother. I am so sorry. What I have to tell you is not pleasant. I have wanted to tell you for so long, but I..." Kurama stopped. He had said more than he had ever intended to, and now that he had let her hear that, he had to tell her something. His brain raced feverishly to come up with something, anything that could pass as 'normal'. Cloudy visions of gang involvement, drug dealing, fighter for hire, mafia hit man, and many others swam through his thoughts, each idea more outrageous than the last. He glanced up through half closed eyes to see his mother watching him expectantly. When he did not continue, Shiori sighed softly and arose to check on the boy her son had dragged home.
Looking at the still form on the bed, Shiori thought to herself that she had seen this boy before. Dismissing that thought she reached out and began to take off his cloak.
"Mother?' Kurama queried, trying unsuccessfully to sit up.
"We can't leave him here like this. I need to check to make sure he's alive, and then I will call for the ambulance."
"No!" Kurama cried out again.
"You would rather he laid on your bed until he dies? He needs a doctor, quickly!" Shiori replied. With a resigned sigh Kurama knew that the charade he had so carefully constructed over the last fifteen years was finally drawing to an end. He closed his eyes and spoke.
"Hiei cannot see a doctor, Mother, because Hiei is not human."
Shiori stopped removing Hiei's cloak and turned slowly to her son, a confused and worried expression on her face. "Hiei's...what?"
"Not human, Mother. Hiei is...a demon."
"Shuuichi, whatever nicknames and titles you and your friends may give yourselves, now is not the time to be obstinate. Your friend is seriously wounded, and needs medical attention."
"No, Mother, you misunderstand. 'Demon' is not a nickname or a title. Hiei truly is a demon." Kurama slowly dragged himself to his hands and knees and crawled to his bedside. His mother had turned Hiei onto his back, and the fire youkai was lying supine, with his mouth slightly open. His breathing had become regular and his pulse was much stronger than it had been before Kurama had started the long journey home. Kurama gently took the bandage ward covering Hiei's jagan. "Please, Mother, do not panic," he warned her softly as he slid the material up towards Hiei's hairline.
The Jagan began to open to moment the ward had moved. Kurama knew better than to completely remove the ward, but he allowed his mother a brief peek, too rapid for her to look directly into the Jagan, before drawing the bandage back over the third eye, closing it once more. He noticed as he did this a pained expression passed over Hiei's features and he groaned softly. Shiori stepped back numbly and sat in her son's chair by his desk. She would have thought that the third eye was a fake, except that the circumstances were so dire, arranging a fake demonic trait would have been impossible. There was also the feeling that the eye gave her when it opened, even so slightly. It seemed to have a life of its own, and she was sure if she had been able to look directly into it, it would have sucked her soul inside. "Now you see why we cannot summon a doctor," Kurama stated as he slipped back into a sitting position next to his bed, leaned his head back wearily and closed his eyes. He hoped, prayed that his mother would be shocked enough to accept that news without the next logical set of questions.
When Shiori finally trusted her voice to function again she turned to her son. "Why do you have a wounded, unconscious demon in your room?" So much for hoping.
"Hiei is a...a friend of mine. We have been friends for...a long time," Kurama began hesitantly. "He was injured in a fight, and I brought him here to recover. His demon body will heal itself in time, he just needs rest." And a few plant concoctions I have in the desk drawer he added silently.
"Who were you fighting?" Shiori asked, turning again to the being on the bed.
"Another demon." was the only reply.
"Why are you fighting demons, Shuuichi? Why are you involved?" Kurama knew his cover story was about to end here and now. There were no more excuses, no more lies. Quite frankly, he was too tired and hurt to bother anymore. He knew the time to tell his secret was at hand. Part of him realized he should have told Shiori years ago.
He drew a hesitant breath, moistened his dry lips, and said in a soft voice, "Because I am a demon as well."
Shiori had known what the answer would be. Something inside of her realized it in the brief moment before she asked the question. Her son was special, and had always been. Though he was young, he possessed wisdom beyond his years. The way he acted and moved, his speech, his demeanor all spoke of an age and a grace that was, for lack of a better term, otherworldly. Hearing it from him, however, was something for which no feeling or hunch could prepare her. Her eyes opened and she looked at him, calm and composed on the outside, but scared and confused within. "My son is a demon, not a human?" she repeated softly.
"Not exactly, Mother. I am both." Trepidation gave way to resignation and finally to anticipation. Kurama found the slow, difficult news tumbling from him faster and faster as he told his story to his mother for the first time. He described his true form, Youko Kurama, the silver fox spirit. He described how he had been powerful and feared, and ruthless. He described the day he was hunted, shot, and forced to seek refuge in Ningenkai. With a lump in his throat he described how he needed to merge with a human body, and how he had taken her son's unborn body to house him until he was strong enough to again emerge. He quickly described his current life as a member of the spirit detective group, and even elucidated on his relationship with Hiei, who was slowly growing much closer than just a friend.
Finally he said the last thing he needed her to hear before she kicked him out of her home. "Thank you, Mother. For giving me life and for teaching me love. I am sorry for all of the lies, and for stealing the life and body of your unborn child." He closed his eyes and waited for the anger, the hatred, the cold demand that he leave her and never return. He was greeted with only silence.
Finally he heard her stir and move from the chair. He was so certain she was going to walk out his life right then and there that he was startled to feel her hands around his shoulders. "Mother?" he asked cautiously as she sank to the floor next to him, drawing him closer into her embrace.
"My child. His life. I never told you, but when I was carrying you, at first I was very ill. The doctors told me that I could not carry the baby, and they were certain the baby would die. They told me to give you up. One day, that all ended abruptly. All of a sudden instead of the dead feeling, I felt life inside me, and I knew my baby would survive. You did not claim his life, Shuuichi, you saved it," Shiori whispered as she gently drew him down into her lap. Kurama closed his eyes and let his mother guide him to lie across her lap as he did when he was a small child. "You are my son. Nothing you say can ever change that. Nothing you do can ever change that. I love you more than life itself, and would gladly give up everything for you. You have brought me such happiness and joy. Demon or not, I love you, Shuuichi, my son." Kurama's shoulders heaved as the tears he had been fighting finally won their way free. He cried into her lap until he had no tears left. Finally darkness claimed him and he slept, secure in the arms of his m