word count: 3550
Disclaimer: Buffy and YuYu Hakusho do not belong to me.
Pairings: Yusuke/Keiko, Hiei/Kuwabara
Author's Notes: The End.
Two days later found Xander busy and happily waiting tables, greeting customers, and learning how to cook. As a teenage boy he was in heaven, it was like a dream come true to be surrounded by food for the better part of the day. He was learning so much that he was already wondering which grocery stores back in the Dale had international sections. He'd never paid attention before, but now that he was learning a valued skill he wanted to keep it up. Not to mention he wouldn't have to depend on his mom's sometimes iffy culinary skills.
Tou-san waved him over and Xander approached the counter, only to walk around it to deposit the dirty dishes he was carrying into the sink. “Is table seven's order ready?”
“Ka-san will take care of it. Go check on table three, see if they want something sweet before they leave.”
Xander nodded and headed toward the small table for two, a smile already on his face. The women looked familiar and it took a couple of seconds to place their faces, but it came to him as he approached their table. He had danced with them both at the wedding.
That had happened a lot the past two days since the wedding. It seemed that almost every woman he danced with showed up at the shop at least once, sometimes twice. Evidently he was still a popular subject among the single women in the area. It was still creepy; if the Hellmouth wasn't across the ocean he'd blame their strange behavior on it. Why didn't women find him this interesting at home?
He kept up his smile, which wasn't hard as he loved working in the shop and the Yukimura's had practically adopted him. “Would you like anything else? Something sweet? We have some coffee jello already made.” The women giggled and nodded and he promised to return with their treats in hand.
Coffee jello was his personal favorite desert that the Yukimura's had taught him how to make. What could be better than jello with caffeine? Nothing that's what. It was no time at all before he had retrieved the confection from the fridge and had delivered it to the women who smiled and batted their lashes at him.
The not so subtle flirting was starting to get annoying, the women really needed to work on their technique, maybe even take lessons. Kurama could teach them a thing or two...not that Xander was encouraging Kurama. At least he didn't think he was encouraging his brother's friend. But as he told Giles in a conversation the day before, he was in uncharted territory.
“Xander, hello. How was the wedding?”
“It was interesting.”
“I think I danced with every available woman in town. Evidently I'm very exotic, which is weird cause I look like Yusuke.”
“Something different can always be seen as a novelty. Other than your sudden popularity, how have you been? Working hard in the shop?”
“It's been great. I'm learning all sorts of stuff, like how to make Tempura, Okonomiyaki, and Korokke, but that's not why I called.” He blushed and hoped that the screen on the communicator didn't show it.
“Uh, remember how you wanted me to keep you updated on the Kurama situation?”
“Hmm? Oh, yes. Have there been any more incidents where your shadow reacted?”
“Nah, nothing like that. I think I've got it convinced that Kurama is on the home team, which is good.”
“Then what's bothering you? It's not as if he's evil since he's your brother's friend.” He paused as if to ponder his statement. “Although he is also friends with Botan and she can be rather devious.”
Xander coughed. “He uh...he likes me, as in like-likes me.”
Giles gave him a look. “For a moment pretend I'm not sixteen and need a translator.”
“Uh...he's been flirting...with me.”
“Oh...Oh! Well...what does Yusuke think?” Giles wouldn't meet his eyes over the communicator and Xander watched as he took his glasses off, probably to polish them.
Xander gave him a shrug. “I've only heard from them once since they left for Okinawa and the subject never came up. But Yusuke didn't say anything at the reception after Kurama and I danced...and he sort of walked me home...to the Yukimura's.”
“Have you encouraged him? Other than dancing with him of course.” He replaced his glasses.
“Hey, it was a party and everybody was dancing. And I totally owed him for saving me from Yusuke's mom.” Giles gave him a raised brow. “I have no idea if I've encouraged him.”
“Hey, a guy is flirting with me. A demon guy. I'm still surprised that I'm not freaking out more than I am. Actually the fact that I'm not freaking out should be enough to freak me out...but I got nothin'. No wiggins here.”
Giles sighed. “Just remember that kitsune are somewhat possessive and try not to encourage him.”
“Yeah, yeah. You realize I'm clueless to this kinda thing. Uncharted waters here.”
“Just do your best, and you'll be fine...probably.”
Xander shook the memory away as he cleared a table and started washing dishes. He really didn't know what to do about Kurama. He was a nice guy and his brother's friend, he was cool, and Xander didn't feel awkward around him. It was a mystery and he really didn't want to poke at it much.
“Table ten's order is ready!”
“I got it!” Xander pushed away the serious contemplating; he'd worry about the Kurama situation later.
Kuwabara rubbed at his head, willing his headache to go away as he walked down the street. He'd stayed at cram school later than usual and had missed the bus to his neighborhood. It wasn't too far to walk, but he liked the convenience of riding the bus. He sighed and shouldered his backpack higher and walked along the mostly empty side walk. The Yukimura shop wasn't far, a couple of blocks out of his way, and Hiei wouldn't mind him detouring if he brought home food. Having made up his mind he started to turn down an alley, intending to use an old short cut. However the sound of voices made him pause, and he could only think of one reason why a bunch of guys would be secluded in an alley. A fight was probably about to start. He almost changed his mind when a familiar energy caught his attention, with a sigh he decided to rescue the kid. It would be bad if Uremeshi's brother got wailed on.
The first thing he saw was Xander swerving to avoid a muscled arm that snaked out to grab him. He absently nodded in approval, the kid was good at dodging, but he wasn't fighting back...and that was just...odd. He looked so much like Yusuke, but was so different in so many ways...though there were some similarities. Kuwabara sighed as Xander was eventually snagged by his assailants, unable to dodge them all at once.
As they started to drag him further down the alley Kuwabara cleared his throat. “Aren't you guys a little old for bullying? We're not in junior high anymore.” He recognized the five of them from his own gang days; a couple still wore old tattered school jackets. They recognized him immediately, as did Xander.
“Thank god I'm saved!” Xander grinned.
Kuwabara nodded at him. “Just like your brother, can't stay out of trouble.”
“Hey, I was just running an errand. They started it.” Xander pouted before glaring as one of the thugs dumped the package they'd taken from him on the ground. “Hey, that tofu's for dinner!” They ignored him and focused on Kuwabara.
“Long time no see.”
“Yeah, haven't seen you on the streets in a while.”
“What are you doing here? Heard you went straight?”
One snickered. “Not what I heard. Where's your boyfriend?”
“I meant that he graduated, idiot. He's a valuable member of society now. Isn't that right Kuwabara?”
Kuwabara rolled his eyes. “Yeah, not that you drop outs would know.”
“Yeah, yeah. That's right, look down on us, just like everyone else. What happened to you man? You used to be a real rebel.”
He shrugged. “I grew up, which is more than I can say for you. Let the kid go will ya.”
The leader spit on the pavement between them. “What's this pipsqueak to you?”
Kuwabara grinned. “You guys blind as well as stupid? Can't you see the resemblance?” They all looked at one another, confusion clear on their faces. Xander continued to glare at his captors, who looked again at Kuwabara. “Not to me you idiots. To Urameshi.”
Their attention returned to Xander who gave them his best scowl. It must have been somewhat effective because they let go of him.
The leader sneered at Kuwabara. “What's this kid got to do with Urameshi?”
Another studied Xander closely. “He does kind of look like him. What's their connection?”
Kuwabara snickered. “He's Urameshi's kid brother.”
The silence in the alley was deafening. Xander gazed at them in surprise, he knew Yusuke had a reputation...but damn.
“Yeah.” Kuwabara was practically gloating. It wasn't often he got to surprise the hell out of a bunch of has-beens still hanging onto their glory days. “Come on Xander. Keiko's folks are probably wondering where you are.”
Xander bent down to retrieve the tofu when the leader grabbed his arm. “Urameshi's not around and it'd be nice to get one up on him. For old time's sake.”
Kuwabara dropped his backpack and was in the guy's face before he could say another word. He lifted the suddenly trembling man up off the ground by his shirt collar, Xander tugged his own arm out of the jerk's grasp. “Urameshi may not be here; but I am.” He smiled and it wasn't a friendly look. In fact the rest of them all scrambled to get away, completely ignoring Xander and leaving their boss on his own as Kuwabara shook him, his feet kicking at air. Xander was suddenly aware of how tall Kuwabara was, it wasn't something you really noticed because he was such a nice guy...but suddenly he could see why the other guys had run away like demons were at their heels.
Kuwabara was practically snarling in the leader's face and the guy looked ready to faint. “In fact, as Urameshi's best friend and former rival, it's kinda my job to keep an eye on his family when he's away. You mess with this kid again, and you won't be around to worry about what Urameshi will do to you when he gets back from his honeymoon. Got it?”
“I got it! I got it!” Kuwabara threw him down the alley and the guy tripped over his own feet as he tried to run away.
Xander gaped at him. “That...was...awesome! And thanks by the way.”
Kuwabara gave him a weird look before retrieving his backpack. “Why didn't you fight back?”
Xander blinked at him. “I don't fight much. As in not at all except vampires, and that requires a stake, an ax, or holy water. Or if you're Buffy, an exacto knife.”
Kuwabara shook his head. “Come on, I'll walk you home.”
Xander grabbed the packaged tofu from the ground and followed him out of the alley. “I'm glad you were in the area.”
“Me too. You really need to learn how to defend yourself.”
Xander shrugged. “I do okay. Like I said I'm not used to fighting humans, and I was more worried about getting the tofu home. We're having stir-fry tonight.”
Kuwabara nodded; his face thoughtful. “You busy later?”
Xander gazed up at him, suddenly suspicious. “Why?”
“I can show you some moves, it might help you on the Hellmouth, because the bad guy won't always be a demon.” Xander gave him a puzzled look. “One of the guys we faced was the one who killed Urameshi, that's when he died a second time.” He glowered at the memory. “The guy, Sensui, was human. He was crazy, had multiple personalities, and tried to end the world.” Kuwabara waited while Xander contemplated that.
“Wow...intense. I guess it would be good to do more than swing an ax around. It would help with the vampires too. I mean I can throw a punch, and I'm good at dodging, but knowing how to fight would make patrolling easier.” Xander nodded. “Come by after dinner in a few hours, I should be done with my chores by then.”
Kuwabara nodded. “I'll be there.”
“So you and Yusuke really had some wild times back in the day.” Xander smirked.
“The stories I could tell.” Kuwabara laughed. “Hell, I'll tell you one while you fix me something to go. Hiei's waiting at home, but food will put him in a better mood.”
“You got a deal.”
The next day it was all Xander could do to keep up his usual bouncy routine. He was exhausted; Kuwabara's training was nothing to sneeze at. In fact, if he were a betting man he figured Kuwabara could probably run circles around Buffy. The guy moved faster than any vampire he'd ever seen, and he knew Kuwabara was holding back, his movements were so controlled that Xander was in awe. What was really scary was that Kuwabara claimed to be the weakest among them. Evidently Kurama, Hiei, and Yusuke were loads more powerful.
It made him feel even more insignificant than standing next to Buffy. And he never realized how not in shape he was until Kuwabara had taken his shirt off to spar with him. Buffy was...well buff, but she was still female and all curves. Not Kuwabara...he was built like a brick house, nothing soft about him.
Xander shook those thoughts away when he felt eyes on him. He looked up into those eyes and blinked, they were a familiar green. Kurama.
“You seem to be moving slowly today. Are you feeling well?”
“Just a little sore.” He blushed. “Uh...from training...Kuwabara's teaching me how to fight.” Kurama's eyes narrowed just a bit. “I had a run in with some guys last night...he scared them off.”
“Did they hurt you?”
Xander rolled his eyes. “Will you relax? I'm no stranger to being bullied. It's been happening since I was in diapers. It takes more than a little shoving to scare me.” Kurama's eyes only narrowed more, Xander met his gaze. “I'm not some damsel in distress.”
The statement made the fox look away and he coughed in embarrassment. “I realize that.”
“You want your usual tea?” Xander asked.
Xander nodded and put the kettle on and waited on a few more tables until the water was hot and the tea was made. When he returned Kurama seemed to have composed himself.
“Are you busy this evening?”
Xander blinked as he set the tea on the table. “Kuwabara is giving me a break tonight. He's got cram school till way late, and can I just say the very idea of cram school fills me with juvenile terror.”
Kurama chuckled. “Would you like to go for a walk then? Perhaps some ice cream?”
He froze. “Are you asking me out? Like on a date?”
“Do you want it to be a date?” Kurama smiled, giving nothing away.
“I'm not sure...this is...new.” Xander blushed.
“It's just a walk. Friends go on walks, and go for ice cream.” He sipped his tea.
Xander nodded. Getting ice cream was a time honored tradition between himself and Willow. “Sure. Why not...just as friends.”
The beaming smile Kurama gave him made him wonder if Giles would consider this encouragement.
The walk as it turned out, was nice. The park was inviting in the twilight, the lights just starting to flicker on in the fading daylight. They'd gone for ice cream first, cones that would be easy to eat as they walked and talked. He'd been nervous about this since Kurama's visit earlier in the day, but now he was relaxed as they walked side by side, Kurama's hand occasionally ghosting close enough to brush against his.
“How is your ice cream?”
Kurama nodded. “I want you to try something.”
Kurama smiled and tugged something out of his hair; he opened his hand and showed Xander a seed.
“Foxes and other animal type spirits are well known for their affinity with plants. Watch.” He left his hand open and the seed started to glow as it grew into a flower. “Hold out your ice cream.”
“The pollen is a delicacy.”
Xander waited a moment, but figured that Kurama wouldn't try to drug him and held out his chocolate ice cream cone. Kurama smiled and shook the flower over it before reversing the process until it was a seed once more. Tentatively Xander tasted the pink pollen covering his ice cream, his eyes widened in disbelief.
“Cherry flavored pollen?”
Kurama laughed. “That flower is only found in Reikai, Botan occasionally brings me seeds.”
“That's a pretty neat trick.”
“I know a few more; I'll save them for another time.” Kurama seemed very pleased with himself.
Xander nodded, a thought suddenly occurred to him. “I know I'm not away from the Hellmouth much...but I was wondering why I haven't seen a single vampire here.”
Kurama looked thoughtful for a moment. “I myself have only seen a few since I came to live here. I believe there are simply too many stronger adversaries. With Yusuke, Kuwabara, Hiei and myself all living in the area they simply don't come here. There is also a strong Miko a few districts away at the Higurashi Shrine, vampires usually don't last long in this part of Japan.”
That actually made sense. If he were a vampire this part of Tokyo wouldn't even be on his list of places to visit. He refocused on what Kurama had said. “Higurashi Shrine?”
“It's high up on a hill on sacred ground, and from what I've heard the Miko is powerful enough that she can reduce vampires to ashes simply by touching them.”
“So she's like a giant holy object?”
“In a way. She also places wards on on the businesses in her neighborhood to protect her neighbors from vampires and other nasty things.”
“Like what Genkai has on her mountain?”
“Similar. Why the interest?”
Xander shrugged. “Vampires can't enter a home without an invite. But other things can just waltz right in.”
Kurama looked thoughtful. “It only takes a minimum of Reikei to make a basic spell-ward. I could show you how to make them.”
Xander stopped walking and focused his gaze on Kurama. “Really?”
Kurama looked back at the boy and smiled softly. “If you want.”
Xander nodded. “That would come in handy.”
“I could also introduce you to a few plants that would help keep your home safe.”
“Like a watch dog?”
Kurama chuckled and looped his arm through Xander's and Xander let him. “Something like that.”
Xander gulped, not encouraging someone that was so nice was really hard.
Koenma sipped his tea, savoring the flavor for a moment before sighing in content. Genkai sat next to him as they watched the sky turn pink over the forest as the sun set. “Genkai, have you ever heard of a prophecy being broken?”
“No, why?” She asked, sipping at her own tea.
“It's a rare thing. It takes a special kind of person to do it.”
Genkai nodded. “That boy is of Raizen's line, and the dimwit's brother. I think that qualifies as special.”
“True, but he also befriended a Slayer and lives on a highly active Hellmouth. She died and he brought her back.”
Genkai smirked. “It may be interesting to see what he does next.”
Koenma frowned. “That worries me...once a human steps away from the mold, and breaks away from the path the fates have written for him...He can't undo it. Xander has made them aware of him. They don't like it when someone messes with their plans. There's always a price.”
Genkai was silent for a moment as if lost in thought. “But that boy...there is something about him... I'd like to see the fates try and stop him.”
Koenma snorted. “He'll walk all over them.”
Genkai nodded and glanced at him. “And give them puppy eyes.”
Koenma choked on his tea, spluttering. “You heard about that?!”
Genkai nodded again. “You're pathetic.”