Kurama's Roots

BY : LadyClassical
Category: Yuyu Hakusho > Yaoi - Male/Male > Hiei/Kurama
Dragon prints: 72
Disclaimer: I do not own Yu Yu Hakusho, or the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

September 21, 1997

“Are you sure this is a good idea, Kurama?” said Hiei. “Going to your kitsune hometown with a human, an elemental, and—above all—the son of the Mazoku?”

“They are hospitable,” Kurama replied. “There’s nothing to worry about.”

Hiei thought of when he returned to the ice village, and how the ice women certainly hadn’t been very hospitable to him. The place had been so desolate that he couldn’t even bring himself to set fire to it and destroy everyone.

“I’m okay with it,” said Yusuke. “Besides…Kurama’s got two elementals coming along for the ride, not one.”

“Oh, yes, the baby counts,” Kurama agreed, handing the little one over to Hiei, who used his scarf to tie the baby securely to his back, all set to travel.

“Doesn’t your back get tired like that?” said Kuwabara, addressing Hiei. “Carrying Masaki around on it all day?”

“He’s only fourteen pounds,” said Hiei, feeling one tiny hand tug at his hair. “And if he ever does get too heavy on my back, I can always just hold him in my arms instead.”

“But why not just use a baby carriage instead?” Kuwabara insisted, pointing to Masaki’s living room bassinet. “It’s like one of those, but on wheels.”

“Well, first of all, 99% of the time he screams bloody murder if I set him down in the bassinet,” Hiei replied irritably. “And second of all, I need my hands free.”

“Free for what?” Kuwabara teased. “Washing dishes?”

“No, for killing stupid bastards who ask too many annoying questions,” Hiei snapped, carefully sheathing his sword. “I swear, you wouldn’t last one day in Makai, not even in a time of peace.”

“I am glad Enki won,” Yusuke said. “The place is a lot better now, isn’t it?”

“Part of it is that he created jobs for demons to do,” said Hiei. “I guess he figured we would cause less trouble if we had something to do with our time, so everyone got assigned a job. That’s how I got stuck on patrol duty for a year.” He paused. “But Kurama, doesn’t that mean the kitsunes won’t be in their villages anymore? Didn’t Enki give them jobs?”

“They already had jobs, Hiei,” said Kurama with a smile. “Kitsunes in Makai are a self-sufficient, horticultural society.”

“Horti-what?” said Kuwabara.

“It means they’re farmers, you idiot,” said Hiei, rolling his eyes. “Look, just try not to embarrass me when we get there, okay?”

Hiei didn’t know a lot about the kitsune community, at least, not as much as Kurama did, but one thing he did know was that they lived in the Green Forest, his favorite place in Makai. It was easy to reach the Green Forest, too; there was a portal to it in the nature park nearby Kurama and Hiei’s apartment building. The portal was supposed to be a temporary one, but it had been left open permanently, so they could go and visit Makai whenever they wanted to.

Walking through the Green Forest was always enjoyable (even for Kurama, who had recently suffered a back injury), but this time they had a destination. They headed deeper and deeper into the forest, until they saw light, accompanied by the faint sounds of music and laughter.

Because the ice village was the only hometown he’d ever been to, Hiei thought the kitsune village would be somewhat like it, but he was pleasantly surprised. It was sunny and bright here. Far off into the distance, Hiei could see their farmland, miles upon miles of flourishing crops, as far as the eye could see. Some of the kitsunes were silver, like Kurama; this meant they were over one thousand years old. But the younger ones came in all different colors, sometimes with ears and tails that matched the hair on their heads, sometimes not. There were plenty of Kurama’s people helping in the fields with the harvest, but there were also children playing, young and old couples alike walking hand in hand, and kitsunes snoozing in the shade. There were trees everywhere, too, with the fox spirits doing everything from picking fruit to climbing to the highest branches.

Kurama breathed in deeply, eyes shut, a contented smile on his face.

“Do you smell that, Hiei?” he said. “That’s fertile soil—so rich and deep, anything can grow here.”

Hiei breathed in and smelled the soil, too. It was definitely time for the harvest.

As they walked in, Kurama leading the other three behind him, it occurred to Hiei that many of these demons had probably never seen someone like him before, or a human. Maybe they’d heard of Yusuke, but he doubted they’d seen him in person. There were many children, but they seemed more curious than afraid; they ran right up to their visitors and tagged alongside them. Some of the older kitsunes whispered behind their hands; others waved. One tiny girl insisted on getting an autograph from Yusuke (he was a good sport about it), but Hiei was startled when two young females, probably teenagers, darted right in front of him and Kurama.

“Welcome to the village!” said the shorter one. Her eyes were a deep blue and her hair a shiny black bob, but her ears and tail were hot pink. “My name is Mei, and this is my friend Harumi.”

“Take these,” said Harumi, and held out her open palm. “Seeds. As a gift from our people.”

“Seeds,” Hiei repeated, taking them into his hands. “What kind of seeds?”

Mei and Harumi didn’t respond at first, but before Hiei could say anything more, the seeds blew up in a miniature explosion, hurting no one but leaving Hiei’s face dirty and his hair singed.

“Exploding seeds!” Mei answered. She and her friend burst into laughter and ran away. Hiei looked at his hands. No seeds to be found!

“Is this what all kitsunes are like?” Hiei demanded. “If so, I want to go home now.”

“Lighten up, Hiei, it was just a prank,” said Yusuke (he and Kuwabara had been laughing quite as hard as the girls, and even Kurama was having trouble concealing a smile). “Don’t tell me you didn’t expect fox demons to play tricks on you.”

Hiei sighed. By now he was in the process of switching Masaki to his arms, not because the baby was getting heavy but because he was whining for comfort. Soon enough, the whines escalated into wails. Kitsunes left and right turned to stare. Hiei felt his cheeks getting warm, knowing what they were thinking: What a terrible father, or, That kid is such a spoiled brat. But it wasn’t as simple as all that. Masaki was a shy and rather fearful baby, and only two months old at that; if too much was going on, he was likely to cry. Didn’t they ever think about how they would feel if they were in Hiei’s situation? Didn’t they know that Masaki would just love to communicate in words how he was feeling, but he couldn’t, because he was only two months old? Didn’t they—

“It looks like Masaki is getting overstimulated,” Kurama observed, interrupting Hiei’s increasingly furious thoughts. “We might have to take him home now.”

“Yeah, that would be best,” Hiei agreed, trying to look sorry that they had to leave so soon, even though to be honest, he really didn’t mind. The only reason he felt a little bad was because he could see in Kurama’s face how much he wanted to stay longer.

They were just about to turn around when they heard an unfamiliar voice: “So it’s true!”

Well, the voice was unfamiliar to Hiei, at least. Kurama seemed to recognize the silver kitsune that had spoken: “Tamashi! Is that you?”

“I would recognize you anywhere, Kurama, whether you have taken a human form or not,” the kitsune, presumably named Tamashi, replied as he approached them. Addressing the group at large, he added, “Welcome. I am Tamashi, one of the village elders, and Kurama’s sensei.”

Hiei became that much more aware that he was the one with a screaming infant in his arms right in front of what could easily be the most influential demon in the entire village. After all, he knew quite a bit about village elders. What they said was law, wasn’t it? Surely this Tamashi would be angry that Hiei was causing a public disturbance. And then there was the fact that he had been Kurama’s sensei, of all people. Hiei was sure Tamashi was going to scold him and tell him to get out of the village and take the crying baby with him, and he seriously didn’t want to risk this guy getting pissed off at him.

“I’m sorry, Tamashi,” Hiei apologized. “Nothing personal. My son doesn’t take kindly to strangers, that’s all. We were just leaving.”

“Nonsense,” said Tamashi. Hiei was surprised to see a twinkle in his eyes. “I think I know just how to cheer the little fellow up.”

Tamashi put his fingers to his bottom lip, letting out a soft breath, and an energy bubble about the size of a golf ball, glowing yellow, appeared in the palm of his hand. He held it out in front of Masaki, and Hiei was shocked to see that his baby actually seemed interested. The screaming stopped, at least, although silent tears still streamed down his face, solidifying into stones as they hit the grass.

When he was sure he had Masaki’s complete attention, the soft golden glow reflecting in those big emerald-green eyes, Tamashi gave the energy bubble a poke—and it vanished in a puff of smoke, leaving a huge raspberry sound in its wake. Masaki let out an excited squeal, his crying completely forgotten.

“How about another one, yes?” Tamashi created another energy bubble and poked it in the same manner, but this time it made a sound like a dolphin chirping. Masaki squealed again and even made a clumsy attempt to squirm out of Hiei’s arms.

“It seems he’s taken to Tamashi quite a bit,” said Kurama, giving Hiei an encouraging smile.

“Um…thank you,” said Hiei, not knowing what else to say.

“Hiei, how about we let Tamashi hold Masaki?” Kurama suggested.

For a minute, Hiei hesitated. This guy was a complete stranger, wasn’t he? But Kurama knew him and trusted him, and Masaki seemed to like him. So finally Hiei nodded and handed the baby over. Tamashi smiled as he held the baby.

“I see you don’t suffer from a poor constitution, do you, child?” he observed.

“Nope,” said Hiei proudly, glad Tamashi had noticed that Masaki was healthy and strong—which, of course, was exactly how demons liked their babies. “He’s gained almost 5 pounds since birth, and no medical issues yet.”

“Indeed,” said Tamashi, but then his eye seemed to catch the Hiruseki stone around Masaki’s neck. “My goodness—I never thought I’d get to see one of these in person. This is a Hiruseki stone, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is.” Hiei pulled his own necklace out of his shirt. “I’ve got one of my own, see? Masaki’s one-quarter Koorime.”

“And the chain…is that grass from the Green Forest of Makai?”

“I fashioned it myself,” Kurama said, “as a gift for Hiei. That way Masaki’s necklace will always be unique, and it will reflect all of his heritage.”

“Oh, and his abilities!” Tamashi added. “Definitely a high-empath, and how very unusual—an elemental with the power to control vegetation? That almost never happens.”

“Masaki has some unusual powers, but he also has unusual ancestry, I suppose you could say,” Kurama pointed out. “He’s an elemental because that’s what Hiei is, but it seems he’s inherited my powers, just as we predicted.”

“How can you be sure?” Hiei asked.

“Well, that’s Tamashi’s power, Hiei,” said Kurama with a grin. “He can read souls. That includes knowing what people’s abilities are.”

“Ooh! Ooh! Read my soul!” Kuwabara said.

“Back off, you fool, he’s not a carnival exhibit,” Hiei snapped, but Tamashi didn’t seem to mind; he handed Masaki back to Hiei, and they got to watch him read Kuwabara’s soul.

“Evil cannot be defeated with evil,” he said, looking closely at Kuwabara and nodding approvingly. “Only with goodness, honesty, and loyalty can evil be kept at bay.”

“See that, Hiei?” said Kuwabara. “He knows I’m nice and manly.”

Hiei just rolled his eyes, but Tamashi was already reading Yusuke’s soul.

“You are out for lunch, but you will be home for dinner,” he observed.

“Depends on what we’re having for dinner,” Yusuke joked.

“Looks like it’s still lunchtime, I see,” Kurama muttered to Hiei. Yusuke didn’t look like he really understood the metaphor, but when Tamashi turned to read Hiei’s soul, it was the strangest sort of feeling—like he was being X-rayed. Hiei was sure Tamashi would say something depressing like, I sense a troubled soul, or, There is only so much pain one heart can bear, but once again, the old fox spirit surprised him.

“Wise men judge a tree not by its roots, but by its fruits,” he said finally with a slight bow.

“What does fruit have to do with anything?” Hiei whispered in confusion.

“It means that who you are is more important than what you are,” Kurama explained. “See? I told you he was a soul reader.”

Hiei didn’t normally have a lot of patience with people who spoke in riddles, but Tamashi had left a mostly good impression on him today, so he decided to let it slide. As they walked farther on into the village, the kitsunes still observing them keenly, they got lost in conversation.

“I hope you’re doing well for yourself,” Tamashi said, seeming to notice Kurama’s injury. “I’m sure what knowledge you have comes in handy, despite the fact that you changed career tracks.”

“Changed career tracks?” said Kuwabara. “What does he mean?”

“When I was a young kitsune, I wasn’t just Tamashi’s student,” said Kurama. “I was his apprentice as well. I used to want to follow in his footsteps and become a professional healer, like Yukina is.”

“What happened?” Hiei asked.

“Just a small-town, big-dreams sort of thing, I suppose,” Kurama replied. “I wanted to see the world and make something of myself. I’d like to say I succeeded.”

“Well, that’s a bit of an understatement,” said Hiei. “Just about every demon in Makai knew your name. And the very sound of it could make them quiver in their shoes.”

Hiei had meant it as a compliment, so he was disappointed to see that Kurama looked a little pained. Luckily, Tamashi’s soul-reading powers seemed to pick up on it, and he quickly changed the subject.

“You would not know it, but this is the best harvest we’ve had in centuries,” he said, gazing out over the sprawling farmland that was the majority of the kitsunes’ land. “We are all immensely pleased that Reikai has lifted the embargo on goods from the human world. Of course, we’ve been growing Ningenkai crops here long before the Kekkai Barrier was erected, back before trade with them was prohibited, but it seems like the human world has made many advancements in the time we were closed off from each other.”

“Many of the Ningenkai crops you see here are actually native to Makai,” Kurama added. “Lots of things humans have come from demon culture, you know—everything from makeup to marriage rings. We used to trade seeds with each other, and sometimes we’d trade things like traditional plant-based cures we’d made or handcrafted goods. I can see why you’re happy the embargo was lifted.”

Hiei hadn’t heard about any embargo; in fact, he wasn’t even quite sure what that word meant, but if they were saying Reikai had been trying to cut off a mutually beneficial trade relationship between humans and demons…well, he wouldn’t be surprised.

“In fact,” said Tamashi, “how would you four like to help with the harvest? We’re going to take a break for lunch in about an hour, but we’re working until then.”

At first, Hiei thought it was pretty rude that this guy was asking them to be his volunteer farmhands for the next hour, but when he saw how excited Kurama looked, he realized it was less of an attempt to get free labor out of them and more of an invitation to participate in a cultural activity—that is, something that was part of the experience.

“We’d love to,” said Kurama. “Thank you for offering.”

“Can’t you see Kurama’s still walking with a cane?” said Hiei, pointing to Kurama, whose cheeks flushed just a little. “He’s in no shape to work in the fields.”

“I can manage it, Hiei,” said Kurama. “I’m really making progress.”

“And we’re not going to undo it all in one little hometown visit,” Hiei finished. “You even step foot in those fields, Kurama, and I’ll give you a real injury.”

“There’s no arguing with you, is there, Hiei?” said Kurama, but he was looking amused. “Tamashi, is there anything I can help with?”

“We had a very successful fruit harvesting session yesterday,” said Tamashi. “Perhaps you would like to help our cooks with their recipes?”

“Kurama’s a great cook,” said Hiei. Kurama smiled and nodded.

Before he left with Kurama, Tamashi led Yusuke, Kuwabara, and Hiei to the fields of Makaian corn. The stalks towered at least three feet above Kuwabara’s head, but there were many giant ears of corn on the stalk, starting from the bottom and going all the way up, so even Hiei could reach.

“Have a good time,” said Kurama. Tamashi gave out baskets and the two of them left to do the cooking.

“I’m gonna harvest way more corn than you, Urameshi!” Kuwabara challenged.

“Like hell you are!” Yusuke said back, and they ran off to pick corn. Hiei sighed exasperatedly, but at the same time, if they were competing, they would probably harvest more than if they’d been doing it on their own.

Well, this can’t be so difficult, Hiei thought, glad the baby was tied to his back so he had both his hands free. He held the basket in one hand and reached out to the stalk with the other, but he was surprised to see that it stayed where it was! For a minute he thought about yanking, but what if he ruined the corn? So he kept gently pulling until he heard a familiar voice behind him:

“You’ll never get any corn picked that way!”

“Mei?” Hiei turned around. Sure enough, there was the same kitsune girl who had played the exploding seeds trick on him earlier. She was carrying a large basket almost filled to the brim with shucked corn.

“I know a beginner when I see one,” she said. “Come on, I’ll help you. I’ve been picking corn here since I was a child.”

“Is the corn always this gigantic?” Hiei asked. Each individual husk was bigger than the corn he had seen back in Ningenkai, about a foot long at minimum, and thicker, too.

“Well, this is the best crop I’ve seen in my life, but they’re usually not much smaller than this,” she replied, and looked at Hiei in confusion. “How do you even know the difference? Elementals don’t grow corn.”

“I’ve had corn back in Ningenkai,” Hiei explained. “It’s a little smaller than it is here. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.”

As they walked along the corn rows, Mei showed Hiei how to harvest corn by hand, the way the kitsunes did it. He had to admit, she did know what she was doing. She shucked each ear of corn in one fluid motion and dropped it into the basket, even using Hiei’s basket when hers got too full. Hiei could move fast, but he was still a newbie at actually shucking the corn, so his impressive speed didn’t do much for his productivity.

“I forgot to say it earlier, but your baby is really cute,” said Mei, her deep blue eyes drifting to the little one tied to Hiei’s back. “What’s his name? How old is he?”

“His name is Masaki,” Hiei replied. “It means ‘elegant tree.’ And he just turned two months old.”

“You’ve definitely been feeding him well, then,” said Mei. “I thought he looked bigger than that. And he’s lucky to be the one to come along, too. What did you do with the others?”

“What others?”

“You know, all his brothers and sisters.”

“There are none,” Hiei told her. “It’s just him, me, and Kurama.”

“Only one born to a litter,” Mei said mournfully. “No wonder you take such good care of him.”

“We would take good care of him regardless,” Hiei said irritably, not bothering to remind her that he wasn’t a kitsune and it didn’t work that way.

“I’m going to have my first litter this spring,” said Mei cheerfully. “I love children, so I’m hoping I have a lot. Want to hear a secret?”

“Um…sure.”

“They’re half-human,” she said, her eyes gleaming. “At night I like to sneak into Ningenkai and take on a human form, then seduce helpless human men. It’s fun.”

“Fun?” said Hiei in disbelief. “What are you—really?!”

“No, not really!” Mei laughed, bumping her fist lightly on top of Hiei’s head. “I’ve never even left the village, much less Makai! I’m carrying my husband’s babies, and he’s a kitsune, like me. Are all elementals this gullible?”

“Fox spirits have been known to do what you just described,” said Hiei, glaring at her. “You can’t blame me for believing your silly joke.”

“Well, perhaps not.” Mei winked. They gathered corn in silence for a few minutes until Mei’s friend Harumi caught up with her, carrying another basket full of corn. The two got to chattering away, and Hiei was able to escape from them. Needless to say, he still wasn’t quite as productive as someone who had been shucking corn since childhood, but he was a fast learner, and Mei’s lessons allowed him to get by. He continued to fill his basket, letting his thoughts wander, until he heard a whistle.

“Lunchtime!” one of the children called, pulling his mother along beside him, both of them carrying baskets of corn. Hiei was proud that his basket was more than halfway full, despite the fact that Mei had gathered some of it. He met up with Yusuke and Kuwabara at the edge of the cornfields. Both of their baskets had only a few ears of corn.

“Looks like you two aren’t very good farmers,” Hiei observed, proudly showing them his half-full basket.

“Hiei! Over here!”

The three of them turned to see Kurama trying to wave, but he couldn’t, because one hand was holding onto his walking cane and the other had a porcelain bowl tucked underneath. Whatever was in it smelled delicious, so Hiei headed towards him, Yusuke and Kuwabara on his heels.

“Hey, Kurama, what’s in the bowl?” Yusuke asked.

“It’s a bit like applesauce, but made from a native Makaian fruit,” Kurama explained. “And it’s freshly prepared.”

“Sounds good,” said Hiei, and they sat down to eat lunch.

Hiei had to help Kurama sit down so he wouldn’t hurt his back, but as soon as they were settled, Hiei had Kurama hold Masaki, and he pressed his hands to the point of injury on Kurama’s spine, using heat energy to soothe the ache. It was all worth it when he felt Kurama’s body relax under his touch. Hiei was digging into the fruit dish Kurama had prepared (it really was delicious) when Masaki, who had been lulled to sleep by Hiei’s steady movements in the fields, woke up and began to cry again. This time Hiei knew what it was; the baby wanted to be fed.

“Okay, hand him over,” said Hiei, holding out his arms, into which Kurama placed the hungry baby. Hiei didn’t think he should get naked from the waist up like he might have at home, so he pushed up his shirt and the bra underneath it, then gently guided the baby until he was latched. To his relief, the crying stopped immediately (Masaki had always been good at latching), but he noticed Kuwabara had suddenly stopped eating. He looked up to see that Kuwabara’s cheeks were rather flushed, and he was obviously trying to look anywhere except at Hiei, so Hiei demanded, “What’s your problem?”

“I totally support what you’re doing!” said Kuwabara, staring determinedly down at the grass. “I’m just not one of those creeps who stares, that’s all.”

“Well, you can still look at me when you speak to me,” Hiei said irritably. “And what do you mean, you ‘support’ what I’m doing? What’s there to support?”

“Public breastfeeding,” said Kuwabara, though he still wouldn’t look in Hiei’s direction. “I think a woman, or—” (he coughed) “a…a man, should be able to do it anywhere, anytime the baby needs it.”

“Jeez, Kuwabara, if you were this uncomfortable around a set of boobs, maybe you shouldn’t have gotten married,” Yusuke teased him.

“I don’t mind them on my wife!” said Kuwabara defensively. “I’m just not used to them on a man, okay?”

Hiei must have been looking confused by the sudden tension, because Kurama gently said, “Hiei, some parents in Ningenkai don’t feed their babies this way. It’s really the parents’ decision, but it’s a topic of debate among some of them, and a lot of humans have never seen someone doing it in public, so even if they’re completely in support of it, they might feel a little awkward.” Then, addressing Kuwabara, he added, “Demons don’t have grocery stores or bottles or formula. To most of us, this is no more controversial or awkward than if he’d just taken out a bottle.”

Kuwabara seemed to understand, and Hiei did, too. It was true that Kuwabara still wouldn’t look anywhere in Hiei’s direction, but if it was like Kurama said, and he wasn’t used to it, there was plenty of time to adjust. Hiei still hadn’t gotten the hang of one-armed breastfeeding, so Kurama picked up a spoon and fed Hiei with it instead. Yusuke teased them about being “lovebirds,” but they just laughed it off.

By the time the whistle blew for all kitsunes working in the fields to go back to work, Hiei was done feeding Masaki, and the baby had gone to sleep once more. Yusuke and Kuwabara headed off to the fields with their baskets, once again determined to outdo each other. Hiei was about to stand up, too, the baby tied to his back again, but Kurama stopped him.

“Hiei, I’d like to go with you,” he said. “I promise I won’t do any work. I’ll just hold the basket for you so you can harvest the corn faster. That’s all.”

“Oh, all right, you can come.” Hiei did want to spend more time with Kurama, and it would be convenient to have someone to hold his basket. As they headed off into the fields together, Hiei looked around him, marveling at the beauty of nature, admiring the work of the kitsunes and the pride they took in it, and observing the happiness all around him. No wonder Kurama seemed so well-adjusted and calm. This seemed like a wonderful place to grow up—and to live in for your entire life, like Mei. So he asked, “Why did you ever leave here, Kurama?”

“I’m surprised you’d ask that, Hiei,” said Kurama. “You like it here?”

“To be honest, yes,” Hiei admitted. “I don’t see why anyone would want to leave.”

“Well, like I said, I just wanted to become something more than a farmer or a healer, and to see all of Makai,” said Kurama kindly. “It’s a nice life here, but it’s a simple one. I can understand why you would like this place so much, though. We can come back to visit more often, if you’d like.”

Hiei looked up at Kurama, giving him a smile, and blushed when he felt his husband’s warm, soft hand slip into his. The same feeling of love coursed through Hiei’s body when their fingers perfectly interlocked, just as strong as always, perhaps even stronger now that they were in such a peaceful place. Maybe it was true; wherever Kurama was, that was where Hiei would follow, whether it was in Makai or Ningenkai. Hiei squeezed Kurama’s hand as they headed together into the cornfields.

“Yes,” he said quietly. “I would like that very much.”



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