4-30-01: OK... and here's another one. @.@ I know I said I wasn't going to start any new fi-- Wait a minute. *sweatdrop* I never said that. ^_^ Nevermind! Here's yet another new fic snippet/teaser from yours truly. This is my first real live YYH bunny since Constant. I kinda like where it's going. ^_^ Since it isn't really a spoiler (I pretty much say this in the first paragraph), I'll tell you that this will eventually be a Yuusuke x Koenma/Koenma x Yuusuke fic. (I haven't decided which, yet... ^_^ *blinks* And since I don't write graphic yaoi, it really doesn't matter, does it? ^_^) *coughs* Anyhoo... This episode takes place during the Ankoku Bujuutsukai arc of the story, right after Toguro's fight with Genkai. If you don't know the result of that fight then this fic contains a HUMONGOUS SPOILER. If you don't want to know that spoiler, then please don't read this fanfic.

Warning: Let's see... anything else you really need to know? This fic carries a yaoi warning. Nothing graphic, but I know that shounen ai squicks some people. If you know what I mean, and you're one of the peaple squicked by it, turn back now. If you don't know what yaoi is, click the link. I think you've been warned enough, but in case you're too lazy to click the link, here's a brief version: Yaoi means boys kissing boys. If this bothers you, stop reading right now. ^_^ Thank you.

Little minor warning: This fic is written in first person, but the viewpoint is going to switch depending on who's talking. I'll try to color-code it. Since there are only 2 POVs so far, the color codings are as follows: Koenma and Botan.

And now... on with the fic!

Oh Yuusuke... Your pain tears at my heart. I didn't think it was still possible for me to feel so deeply about another, but once again, you've proved me wrong. You do that so often... it's enough to make even an omniscient being feel like an ignoramus. How do you do that, Yuusuke? Tear the rug out from under my feet with such ease? There's just something about you... It makes me feel alive... But such thoughts are useless. Even in this mortal skin, I'm not alive, and in spite of your reluctance to admit it, you are destined for someone else. I should know - I wrote the book, didn't I? But I didn't foresee this. I didn't foresee my feelings for you. How could I have?

I take a step closer to Yuusuke's hunched up form. Seeing him hurting is sending daggers of guilt through my heart, because I know his pain is my fault. If I had known, 70 years ago, how much I would care for him, then maybe-- I freeze at that thought, appalled. Kami-sama... I didn't just contemplate altering fate for him, did I? No wonder Father discouraged me from getting too close to the Reikai Tantei... This is dangerous. Father would skin me if he knew I'd so much as let the idea cross my mind.

A quiet heart-broken sob brings my attention back to Yuusuke. Kami-sama... there has to be something I can do. My next step comes down on top of a small twig, causing that dark, weary head to tip to the side, listening. He doesn't tense, doesn't immediately leap into an attack posture, only whispers my name on an exhaled breath. I suppose I should be flattered that he's comfortable enough around me to let his guard down. I'm not sure what to say to that display of trust, so I hedge, looking for a way to break through the walls he's building around himself, "How did you know it was me?"

His response is far from what I want to hear. "I don't want to talk to you, Koenma. Go away." His voice is heavy with grief, but I can hear something else underneath it: anger. That anger is yet another dagger through the heart that I'm not supposed to have. It's bad enough that I blame myself for Genkai's death, but somehow I didn't expect that he would. I'm his friend. Or, at least I thought I was...

That thought leaves me with the most ridiculous urge to break into tears. But I haven't cried since I truly was the child I often pretend to be, and I don't intend to start again, now. I swallow the pain and deliberately step further into Yuusuke's personal space. I have to get him to let go of that knot of grief - it will tear him apart if I can't. So... since kindness doesn't work, I'll have to try something a little harsher.

I have lived what many would call a privileged life. I sit in my office and stamp my papers, for the most part unconnected with the lives I am affecting with each impression of ink. The few times I am forced to involve myself directly, it is generally only as a middleman. Yuusuke's case is the one recent exception that comes readily to mind. However... there is a darker side to everyone's nature and mine is no exception. I didn't get the name "Lord of Judgment" by stamping forms, after all. Yuusuke has never seen that side of me. The other Reikai Tantei haven't, either, and I've been very careful to keep Botan away from me whenever I have to present that harder, colder side to someone. As cheerful and innocent as she is, I don't think she would take it very well. In spite of her awe of me, I know she tends to think of me as a friend and as innocent as she is in my own way. I don't have the heart to show her how much of an untruth that that is. In fact, now that I think of it, aside from those unfortunate few who have been on the receiving end of my darker nature, George is the only one who has seen me go cold. Yuusuke is about to be the second.

I know that deep down inside, Yuusuke needs and wants a friend right now. But the harsh truth is that, if he won't let me in to help, then we don't have time for that. So, instead of his friend, he's going to get Koenma-sama, Lord of Judgment, and no matter how much it will hurt me to do this to him, he's left me no choice. I let myself go still, dropping my voice into a deeper, colder version of my usual light tenor, "You are being extremely selfish, Urameshi Yuusuke." I can feel George tense up behind me - he recognizes my posture and tone of voice. He makes an abortive movement to protest, but doesn't interrupt. Good. I don't need his conscience hounding me on top of my own. I couldn't take that right now.

Yuusuke turns to stare at me, buried anger quickly fanning into fury, "Nanii??" His eyes are blazing with that rising fury, but underneath that I see pain... betrayal. My sudden coldness in his moment of weakness has hurt him - hurt him badly. Damn... That wasn't what I wanted. Somehow, in spite of constant proof to the contrary, I didn't think he would take this so personally. But it's too late. The damage is already done. Underneath the cold, my nonexistent heart is praying that he can forgive me for this, but I can't think about that now. I don't dare take the time.

I narrow my eyes so that they bore straight into his and let my voice chill down another notch, "You heard me and you know that I'm right. You can't afford to indulge in self-pity like this. Genkai trained you better than that."

He's on his feet now, the hurt combining with the anger until he is barely coherent. He only managed to growl out one furious, "Temee...!" before he grabs my tunic and lifts me up onto my toes. Inwardly, I'm amused - not many people would dare to manhandle the Lord of Hell, but Yuusuke doesn't even think twice about it. Sometimes I wonder if that's an asset or a character flaw... I'm abruptly brought back to myself by a firm shake. He's a bit more controlled now - at least he's able to speak. He growls then shakes me again. Now there is disgust in his eyes along with the betrayal and the fury, "Bastard. You don't even care. You see humans and youkai die all the time, so what's one more, ne? That's sick. 'Baasan meant a lot to me, and just 'cause that cold, unfeeling lump of coal that you pass off as your heart can't mourn her doesn't make it selfish for me to." He gives me another shake for good measure.

Inside, I'm screaming. He really did take this badly. I want to rail at him, tell him how wrong he is, how sorry I am that Genkai is dead, how dearly I miss her already, how much my heart aches for him, and desperately I wish I could take him into my arms and try to ease his pain. But I can't. I've started this, and it's too late to take it all back now, no matter how dearly I may wish to. I allow my eyes to go even colder. My voice is impersonal now, as if I'm talking to a stranger instead of the one being I care most about in all three worlds, "It is selfish. You have too many responsibilities to take the time out to mourn like this. When the Tournament is over, and other lives aren't hanging in the balance, then you can wallow in self-pity as much as you like. However, if you shirk your duties right now, then you condemn your friends to die at Toguro's hands... just like Genkai."

That verbal knife slid right between the ribs and hit home. I'm right and now Yuusuke knows it... and it hurts. But I can't help that, as much as I'd like to. He's shaking his head, trying to deny my words, but he can't deny their truth. I close my eyes, sparing him from their cold glare for a moment. I need to find some way to take the edge of off this. I've woken him up, now I need to do something to take away the worst of the pain - otherwise it will destroy him as surely as his grief would. But I can't think when I'm pressed up so close to him! I open my eyes and catch his gaze, "Do you think you might let me go, now?"

He drops me like a hot coal, perhaps only just realizing the magnitude of what he did - and how very lucky he is that I allow him such liberties without punishment. I take a moment to straighten my clothing as he turns away to stare off into the night. It is the twinkling blanket of stars that gives me my answer. I warm the tone of my voice just enough to show that the scolding is over, and take a step closer to Yuusuke's trembling form, "Genkai had a message for you, if you'd like to hear it." A small nod. "She said, ~Don't lose.~"

Yuusuke flinches, folding in on himself in response to my words. But I think... I think that has done the trick for him. He never could refuse an order from his Shishou... He performs a sudden set of acrobatics, landing lightly on his feet. He raises his arm to the sky, pointing at one particularly bright cluster of stars and bracing his right hand with his left. Even I am impressed by the size of the rei bullet he lets loose. He lets his body fall back gently onto the ground to better watch as his shot takes off into the night sky. He looks content... peaceful. But things between us are far from OK. I've hurt him, and he won't forget that very quickly. For now, all I can do is back off and give him time. He won't be able to forgive me now, and it wouldn't be fair of me to ask him to try. So, I'll back off... for now. I let my form slowly dissipate into the air, leaving George to make his own way home.

I couldn't return to the hotel, not after that fiasco with Yuusuke. I just couldn't face the questions that the other Reikai Tantei would surely have. But where else is there to go? Back to my office, I suppose. People haven't stopped dying merely because I took off to watch the Ankoku Bujuutsukai. But I feel weary... so bone tired that I can hardly think. How am I supposed to get any work accomplished when I feel like this? I take the back entrance into the Reikai office, not feeling up to dealing with any of the oni out front. I slip quietly into my office and settle myself behind the desk. Somehow... it feels wrong to sit here in my teenaged form. The desk seems too small. My balance is thrown slightly because my feet are firmly on the floor. For a moment, it almost seems like I can't read the documents in front of me because they are too far away. Maybe I need glasses... No, that's ridiculous. I'm just not used to this body.

My thoughts are interrupted by a quiet, hesitant knock on the door. For a moment, I consider ignoring it, but then I catch a whiff of the psychic presence accompanying the knock. I never could tell Botan "No"... I let a small tendril of power slip out to unlock the door and open it a fraction. That would satisfy the requirements of being an invitation to enter, yet still give her a chance to turn around and leave. It shouldn't surprise me that she took the invitation for what it was and pushed open the door to slip inside.

She stood by the door for a moment, fingers twiddling with the sleeves of her kimono, before approaching my desk. She looked as if she'd just gone through an extended bout of weeping, and knowing Botan, she may have done just that. Genkai's death had hit us all hard, but being the one to escort her to the Reikai, Botan had been hit the hardest of all - barring Yuusuke, of course. She looked at me from tear-bright eyes, looking more lost than I've ever seen her look before. Perhaps that's what gave me the strength to rise and shake off my own dismal thoughts. I stepped around the desk and took her into my arms, guiding her head to rest on my shoulder. I'd nearly forgotten how perfectly she fit there... "Daijoubu, Botan... You'll see... Please don't cry..."

She buried her face in the crook of my neck as her arms closed convulsively around my waist. She let out one strangled little sob, then quieted, "Gomen nasai, Koenma-sama... It's just that I..."

I sighed. I knew exactly how she felt. Neither one of us was going to be very popular with the Urameshi Team in the near future. They needed time to grieve, time to forgive. Somehow, I thought that forgiveness would come quicker for Botan than for myself, but I didn't want to dwell on that. I also didn't want her to dwell on it, so I needed to distract her. A small smile crossed my lips - when all else fails, start up an old argument... "Do you have to use the -sama when we're alone?"

Her head shot up off my shoulder and she immediately began to protest... and then stopped. Perhaps she realized the ridiculousness of the situation. No one was watching us, not even George, who acted as my Father's eyes and ears, and she was crying on my shoulder while I held her in my arms. Given that context, it seemed a bit silly to persist with that whole "Koenma-sama" business. A slight smile crossed her face, "Mou... what am I going to do with you?"

I had to laugh at that, a quiet self-effacing chuckle, "I don't know. You've been trying to train me properly since we were born. So far you've been failing abysmally. If I were you, I would just give up."

She shook her head, "Baka. You'll get us both into trouble." She paused, "Or more likely, you'll only get me into trouble. Enma-daioh-sama would never punish you... not severely anyway."

I sighed and let her go, "You're probably right. I shouldn't press... Gomen..." I don't know why this suddenly mattered so much. I had only brought it up to distract her from her grief, not to cause myself more. I just... I needed to feel a connection to someone. And here she was - the one person that I shouldn't feel disconnected from... and yet I did. That one honorific created this wide gulf in between us every time that we spoke. I missed the way it used to be between us... but those days were long gone, likely long past any possibility of retrieving. I turned back to face my desk, bracing my hands against it. I shouldn't matter... it really shouldn't... it just did.

Botan stepped up behind me and wrapped her arms around my waist, resting her head against my back, "No. I'm the one who's sorry. You have every right to ask, and since Enma-daioh-sama will never find out..." My breath caught in my throat. Would she really do it? Would she really say it? Her lips stretched into a smile against my back, "I've missed you, too, onii-san..."

I swear I nearly broke down and bawled at that. I don't understand. I haven't cried in forever, and here I'd wanted to do it twice in one day. Damned emotions. I turned in her hold and wrapped my own arms back around her. That one word shouldn't have meant so much, except that I so desperately needed to hear it. I needed to know that someone still cared for me because I was me - not because I was "Koenma-sama". But of course she knew that. She understood. She always had. My sister, my twin. How could she not understand? She leaned up and pressed a kiss to my cheek, "How are you holding up? To tell you the truth, you don't look so good..."

I loosened my hold on her, allowing her to step back, "Yuusuke is a bit upset with me at the moment." I shrugged, "But such is life, ne?"

She frowned at me, "I heard. Did you talk to him?"

I snorted, "I think I've said enough, don't you?"

Another scowl was my only answer. It seemed I'd upset her... Oh dear. That wasn't good. Botan upset tended to get rather creatively vindictive. She rested her hands on her hips and looked me straight in the eye, "Give me credit for knowing you a little better than this, OK? This isn't "no big deal". He hurt you. It does matter."

I leaned my weight back against my desk, "He may have hurt me, but I hurt him first. It was no more than what I deserved."

Apparently that answer didn't satisfy her. She paced back and forth across my office a few times. Every now and again she would pause and look up as if she were trying to puzzle something out. Knowing Botan, that's likely exactly what she was doing. Finally, she paused and didn't continue pacing. She turned her head to face me, her ponytail whipping out behind her as she moved. Her mouth formed a silent, "Oh..." Oh crap. She probably just got the wrong idea... or worse yet, she got the right idea. Damn. Before I could say a word, she disappeared. Double damn. I slumped against my desk, my earlier weariness coming back to haunt me. I ought to go after her... but I just couldn't bring myself to care anymore. I resettled myself in my chair, picked up my stamp, and started running through the paperwork. Maybe by the time I got through the backlog, I would have a solution to this sticky little mess I'd gotten into...

I'm going to kill him. That's the thought that's been running through my brain for the last 20 minutes. Yuusuke no baka! That's the thought that's been keeping it company. I can't believe he would be so... so... obtuse! But I suppose it isn't totally his fault. After all, Kami-sama-help-him, my dear onii-san isn't any better. Onii-san... it's been so long since I could say that word out loud without risking a severe punishment from Enma-daioh-sama... Why is it that he has such problems with someone finding out that he has a second child? Why would anyone care? I've wondered about that for a long time. I still haven't found an answer.

I've reached the hotel. Now, I just need to find that baka Reikai Tantei. It's the work of a moment's flight to reach the hotel suite that the girls are sharing. I duck in through the window, startling poor Yukina-chan who'd been perched on the sill. "Ah! Gomen, Yukin-chan! I didn't mean to startle you... Have you seen Yuusuke?"

She shakes her head, still startled by my sudden appearance. I turn my gaze to Shizuru-san and Keiko-chan, "Have either of you seen Yuusuke?" I feel a moment's guilt when I ask Keiko that question. I mean... I'm essentially trying to find Yuusuke so that I can fix him up with my brother... even though he loves Keiko... and Keiko loves him... I have to stop thinking about this. I'll end up with a complex...

Shizuru-san answers for both of them, "Iie. Not since Genkai..." Her voice trails off, unwilling to finish that sentence - maybe for my sake. Then again, Yukina-chan and Keiko-chan don't know. So maybe it's for their sakes...

I nod, "Wakatta. Thank you, Shizuru-san. If you see him, will you tell him that I need to speak with him?" At her solemn nod, I bow, "Thank you." I don't really want to stay and talk to any of them. Not now. Shizuru-san's quiet sympathy, Keiko-chan's silent worrying, Yukina-chan's innocence... I don't think I can take any of them right now. So, what am I going to do? I'm going to run away. It isn't very mature, but it's the best I can do right now. I retrieve my oar and soar back out the window into the velvety blackness that is the Makai at night. There has to be a way to find Yuusuke... Ah! Botan no baka... Of course there's a way! I glance up into the sky and sure enough... that rather impressive rei bullet left a trail. If he hasn't moved... I can trace it back to him.

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