Chapter 03

Yoko perched on the edge of the sofa the next morning, feeling content in his kitsune form. He was given few chances to just relax and enjoy himself, as there were generally a lot of jobs lined up that demanded his attention. But he had decided about six months ago that he needed a vacation because there were only so many possessions he could keep in one place. His nose twitched in amusement; his estate was beginning to look more like a dragon’s lair than a mansion. He needed his servants to start clearing it out. There were at least six other mansions in the makai that belonged to him where stuff could be stored.

He licked a paw absently, thinking about the things Mist had told him earlier that day. A male koorime. Yoko had heard of a few of them being born during his long lifetime, but he’d never heard about one surviving the swift execution normally visited upon them. He wondered idly how Hiei had managed to survive when all the other male koorime had died. What made him so durable?

Koorime were one of the fiercest demon species Yoko had ever come across. He had tangled with one once, in an attempt to steal a tear gem. That was one of the few jobs he had failed. Tear gems were so incredibly precious to koorime that they would fight harder to keep them away from an enemy than even to protect their own lives. In point of fact, the koorime he’d gone after for the tear gem had jumped off a cliff to keep the gem from him. Of course, Yoko had gone down to the bottom of the cliff and scoured the ground for days trying to locate it, but was forced to admit the futility of it.

He wondered if male koorime also possessed tear gems, or if they were unique to the females. If Hiei did agree to partner him, what would that mean for him? A tear gem was the most valuable gem in all of the makai. There were people who killed for any gem that had the potential to maybe be a tear gem, even though in ninety percent of those cases, the gem turned out to be a replica made out of crystallized stone. Which was completely worthless, of course. Still, it showed just how far people would go to possess such a precious jewel.

But of course, the possibility of a tear gem was the last thing that Yoko should be considering. Hiei was a male koorime with power over fire and the Jaganshi title. The first was the largest issue at hand. In the best case scenario with Hiei accepting his offer, the two of them would have to deal with the pressure of other demons who would find the very thought of partnering an imiko offensive. And for Yoko Kurama, the most notorious demon in the makai to do it, well… there was no telling what the response would be.

For the more experienced demons, of course, the fact that Hiei held the Jaganshi title would be enough to hold them back. As far as Yoko knew, he was the first in over a millenia to be able to claim such a title. The process of the Jagan insertion generally drove a person insane. To survive it… well, impressive was too mild a word. Others, of course, would just look at the fact that an imiko possessed such a title as a fluke or an aberration. They would use it as an excuse to come after him and after the demon who lay claim to him, as well.

In short, Yoko would be in more danger if he claimed Hiei than he had ever been in his entire life. It was a fact that would cause most demons to think twice before offering a claim. But to Yoko, the idea of danger sent a thrill through him. He loved the feel of the chase, whether he was the one doing the chasing or the one being chased. Predator or prey, it didn’t matter. Living on the edge like that was the only way to live. To him, Hiei represented a chance to truly feel alive again, a feeling that had only diminished over time.

That feeling, the lack of excitement, was what had brought on his desire for a vacation and his subsequent decision to look for a partner. He thought that maybe if someone were to accompany him during jobs, it would alleviate the boredom he’d been feeling.

It had been nearly a month since he’d announced to the general population that he was in search of a partner. The first week had been hell. The A and B class demons had flocked to his door in droves, eager to be the one that Yoko Kurama took under his wing. There had been a few potentials in the mix, but none of them ever treated him as anything other than legendary. Awestruck, terrified, and inferior. Not one of them had dared to treat him as a potential equal. And that was what he was looking for.

He had no use for a partner who wouldn’t be able to hold his own in an argument with him or one who would tremble in fear at the slightest narrowing of his eyes. All of the A and B class demons that had shown up so far had been so scared of the rumors of his ruthlessness that they had spent most of their time trying to convince him that they weren’t a threat to him.

Yoko snorted at the memory. One had even gone so far as to fall to his knees and swear on his life never to risk Yoko’s ire in front of at least two dozen other demons. The thought sobered him; he hoped Hiei wasn’t like all of them. Just because he was a living legend didn’t mean he wanted his partner to treat him like one.

If Hiei didn’t have the potential to be his partner, then Yoko would just go solo and forget about the whole partnering business. He didn’t need to have a companion. It was purely desire for him. After all, he had survived the last eight hundred years alone.

Yoko sighed and shifted back into his humanoid form. It was nearing noon. Mist should be back with Hiei at any time if the koorime had agreed to the request. If the tremor demon didn’t show up, it would be because he’d failed. Death wasn’t a threat Yoko offered easily, but lately his aide had been taking more and more liberties with him. For a servant, that type of attitude was entirely unacceptable. He’d have to seriously consider whether he wanted to retain Mist’s services later. Of course, if the tremor demon didn’t show up, he’d have to send someone out to kill him in his stead. No one escaped Yoko’s wrath.

Right as he was shifting, one of his servants ran up to him, shifting from his racoon form to his humanoid one in a fluid motion that made Yoko proud. “Master, Mist and the koorime are coming in on the south road. They should be here in the next fifteen minutes.”

Yoko inclined his head to let the boy know he’d heard him. He slipped his hakama on and headed down the stairs towards the parlor. He wasn’t really sure how he was supposed to greet Hiei, since he’d never dealt with an imiko before. Or a male koorime. Or a Jaganshi. It was going to be a day chalk full of new experiences. The thought made him smile.

Chapter 2     Chapter Index     Chapter 4

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