Disclaimer: I don’t own Yu Yu Hakusho. By now, you’ve probably noticed that I like to have a vampire, a werewolf, and a mermaid story in every category I write with some exceptions. Well, I had a werewolf story and a vampire story with a sequel in Yu Yu Hakusho and here’s the mermaid, or rather merman, story.
Chapter One- The Discovery
The sea is a wondrous place. The sailors tell of all sorts of creatures that live in the water’s depths. Some creatures are those that people can see at the shoreline or while on a boat. Other creatures, however, are those considered to be legends or myths. One of those mythical beings is the race known as merpeople.
A merboy no older than sixteen darted about a large coral reef. The fish that lived there swam up eagerly to meet him. He greeted them with some food before stroking their scales and fins. Every so often, though, he would gaze at a village in the distance.
“Hey, Hiei!” a voice called.
The boy, Hiei, looked up to see a raven-haired boy swimming toward him. “Hn,” he said when the boy got closer. “Hi, Yusuke. You punk.”
Yusuke lightly punched Hiei’s arm. “Hey, same to you pal. How are our friends today?” He gestured at the coral reef.
“They’re fine.” Hiei stared at the village again.
Yusuke followed his gaze. “Thinking about your sister again?”
Hiei abruptly tore his eyes away from the village and turned to the reef. “Of course not,” he answered.
Yusuke had known Hiei long enough to know his friend meant yes. “Hey, she probably thinks about you, too.”
“No. She doesn’t. I’m forbidden to be in the village and she’s not allowed to leave it just like those she lives with, aside from our foolish mother. You know that.”
“Yeah, yeah. You were banished for being male and not looking like them.”
“Just being male was enough for banishment.”
Yusuke had a point, though. The village Hiei had been looking at was full of only mermaids. They all looked similar to one another and had icy powers. On top of that, they were forbidden to leave the village; it wasn’t necessary to leave and find a merman: They could give birth without males. Of course, the baby would be female.
Only one mermaid had ever violated those laws: Hiei’s mother, Hina. She had met a merman who had an unusual power: He could create fire that could exist underwater. They fell in love and when Hina returned to the village, she was pregnant.
Hina was concerned that her encounter with the merman would show in the baby. She was relieved when the baby turned out to be female, had ice powers, and almost looked like the others. The only difference was the girl had bright red eyes.
Her relief didn’t last long when she realized she was still in labor. Shock and terror filled her when she saw a baby merboy who was vastly different from his sister. Aside from being male, he had black hair with a white starburst, red eyes like the girl’s, and a long black tail except for the fins at his waist and end of his tail: They were red like his eyes. His power was the same as his father’s: Fire.
Upon hearing the news of Hina giving birth to twins, one of which was a boy, the Elders stormed her house and dragged all three to the town square. There, the Elders discussed what Hina’s punishment should be. It didn’t take them long to decide. Hina’s daughter, Yukina, was to be raised by her friend, Rui while Hina and Hiei were banished.
Mother and son lived in a cave together for several years. Hina died when Hiei was ten. The young merboy was resigned to a long, lonely life until he met Yusuke.
The raven-haired boy lived in another nearby village. His dark hair, brown eyes, and long smooth green tail made him the envy of all the mermaids in his town. Unfortunately, his reputation as a punk caused most merpeople to give him a wide berth. Only his childhood friend and girlfriend, Keiko, could see beneath his tough guy exterior.
Keiko’s ability had appeared to have rubbed off on Yusuke, because he was able to see beneath Hiei’s hard, cold exterior and see him for the kind person he truly was. He thought Hiei’s looks were cool and his powers even cooler. Yusuke just wished Hiei didn’t have in live alone in exile.
“Hey, what’s that?” Hiei asked suddenly, pointing down, where something glinted up from the sandy bottom.
Curious, both boys swam down. As they got closer, they could see the object was half buried. Yusuke sat on the seafloor and began digging in the sand until he was able to pull the object out. Yusuke and Hiei stared at it.
It was small, round, and golden with odd lines on both of its surfaces. Yusuke eyed it critically as he turned it over and over in his hand.
“It’s too small to be a sand dollar,” he said. He brought the item to his mouth and bit down. It didn’t break or bend.
“Ugh. It tastes terrible!” he exclaimed. “It’s just junk.”
“I don’t think it is junk,” Hiei spoke up.
“In that case, you can have it.” Yusuke dropped it into Hiei’s open palm.
Hiei admired the object. Upon closer inspection, the odd lines formed pictures of crowns or humans wearing crown.
Do humans heave kings and queens like we do? If so, is this how they carry images of them? Or maybe it’s part of a money system much like our sand dollar and clamshell system. I wonder if there are any other human objects lying around.
Chapter Two- Human Things and Pretty Boys
Hiei spent several days scouring the ocean floor for human objects before turning to sunken ships for his treasures. One such search yielded a cloth pouch on a string. He put the coin in it and put the pouch around his neck.
Hiei stored his collection in his cave. He didn’t have to worry about hiding them. One reason was because collecting human things wasn’t forbidden and furthermore Yusuke was the only one who came by to see him. Hiei was pleased with his collection. He didn’t know what each item did, but all of them were different from one another and that made them that much more special.
“Come on, Hiei! This is boring. Besides, we already searched this ship,” Yusuke complained two weeks after discovering the coin.
“I didn’t ask you to come along,” Hiei shot back. “Anyway, I always search ships again. There’s a chance that I missed something.”
“Yeah. Sure.” Deep down, Yusuke was just as interested in searching the ships as thoroughly as Hiei did. He couldn’t explain it, but there was something fascinating about finding human objects. True, some objects were duplicates of ones Hiei already had, but the prospect of finding something different was still enticing.
Hiei darted through a porthole and began searching. He noticed that he was in a human’s bedroom. He saw furniture that looked like a bed and a jewelry box.
Hmm. That box is definitely different. I could store small items in it. Swimming over to it, he lifted the lid and was nearly blinded by what was inside.
He saw objects the same color as the one in his pouch necklace. Some were round, but had no middle and had some sparkling stones set on the outside edge of the circle. Other pieces were long like seaweed, but not as flexible.
Curious, he picked up one of the round objects. He marveled over how smooth it was when it slipped and encircled his third finger. He stopped and stared at his finger. The object fit perfectly and seemed to belong there.
“Human jewelry,” he murmured. “That must be what this stuff is.” Pulling off what he guessed was a human ring, he put it back in the box, closed it, and swam out of the room with it.
He found Yusuke in another room, peering inside larger versions of the jewelry box. Yusuke glanced over his shoulder at him and grinned.
“Hey, Hiei. What’cha find?”
“A box full of human jewelry.” He opened it to show his prize.
“Huh. Seems a little girly to me.”
“Well, too bad. I have nothing like them in my collection.”
“Probably nothing like this either.” Yusuke held up a curiously framed object.
“I wonder what it is,” Hiei said.
“I think it’s a smaller version of Keiko’s vanity mirror.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Oh, sorry. You’re seeing the back.” Yusuke turned the frame around and Hiei saw his reflection in the glass-or rather his face.
“Obviously, humans have mirrors too. Okay, let’s take them back home.”
Several weeks later, Hiei was scouring the ocean floor close to the shoreline. It had occurred to him that maybe humans threw what they considered junk into the sea from the land and decided to search these areas.
His searches proved fruitful. He had found several unique items for his collection. He had also found some pretty shells that Yusuke had already given to Keiko.
A glimmer on the surface by some jagged rocks caught his attention. He bit his lip as he stared at that gleam. It was an unspoken rule that merpeople should not go above the surface, especially near the shore. Surfacing near the shore was dangerous because of low tides, high tides, and most of all, humans. If a merperson was spotted by a human, it could put their entire race in terrible danger.
That glimmer is by those rocks. I can surface behind them to check it out. If I want it, I can grab it without being spotted. His decision made, Hiei headed for the surface.
Hiei felt a slight chill upon surfacing. He guessed this was due to the lack of water rushing over his skin. He soon got over it and peered around the rocks, gazing at the ocean’s surface. There, floating on the surface was a round silver object much like the gold one that started his collection! He glanced about quickly before grabbing it and dropping it in his pouch. He was about to sink down when a flash of red on the shore drew his attention.
A human boy about his age sat on the sand. The breeze ruffled his long red hair that seemed to shine in the sunlight. His body was slender and lean.
Hn. A pretty boy, Hiei silently scoffed. This human’s looks didn’t interest him. He had seen a few mermen who were considered pretty boys. The fact that they act wimpy or a wuss, made this classification stick. Hiei was sure this human was no different.
As Hiei continued to watch, the boy raised a hand at a pile of sea vines that had washed up on shore. He waggled his fingers and the vines began to move on their own! One end lifted itself off the ground and swayed beside the human like a leafy snake.
Hiei stared at the scene, mouth agape. This human had powers like himself and the ice mermaids, only he could control plants. What an amazing and interesting power. What I wouldn’t give to gain a power like that. I would be the most powerful merman in the Seven Seas.
Chapter Three- The Sorcerer
Hiei continued to come back to that beach, which was a conveniently secluded area. Every time, he came to his hiding place, the redhead was already there. The human seemed sad and Hiei couldn’t understand why. If he had power over plants, he would be elated.
It was clear that Hiei was obsessed with the boy’s power. This concerned Yusuke. “Hiei, get a grip. If you obsess over this too much, you’ll end up being reckless.”
“If he sees you, he might kill you.”
“Yusuke, I would never be so careless that I would be spotted.”
Yusuke, nevertheless, worried. He made it a point to join Hiei on his treks. The first time he did this, he was amazed at the human’s looks. Why would Hiei be interested in just his power? he wondered.
“Uh, Hiei?” Yusuke asked after joining Hiei on his trips for two weeks. “Is there any reason for just watching the human?”
“Yes,” was the immediate answer. “I want his power. I’m watching him in hopes of learning his weaknesses. Once I know them, I can exploit them and hopefully get him to give his power to me.”
Yusuke shook his head. “That’s cold, Hiei, even for you.”
“It’s the only way I can think of.”
“Wouldn’t it be better to know this guy and ask for his power instead of stealing it?”
“It would if I wanted him to know that I’m a merman.”
“You’re going to have to reveal yourself whether you follow your plan or mine.”
“That is true. However, I will stick to my plan. I have no interest in being friends with him. We are two different races. Friendship would be impossible and not logical.”
That night, Hiei tossed about, his sleep disturbed by images of the human with plant control. He soon gave up on sleep and settled for staring at the cave ceiling.
“I want that power. But, how can I get it?” he asked himself.
That was when Hiei learned that he wasn’t alone. From the darkness, a cool voice said, “I can help you, Hiei.”
Hiei was up out of his hammock and alert in an instant. “Who’s there?” he demanded.
“Someone who can help you.” Slowly, a merman with raven black hair, matching tail, pale skin, and purple eyes emerged from the darkness. “I am Karasu, the sorcerer.”
“So, you say you can help me get that human’s power?”
“Oh, yes. You are far more deserving of that power than Kurama.”
“Kurama, eh? Well, Karasu, how do you intend to help me?”
“Come to my cave at the foot of Skull Mountain tomorrow night. I will explain it all to you then.” With those words, Karasu disappeared as a fog of mist.
Hiei dwelled upon Karasu’s offer all day long. Should he accept this sorcerer’s help? Since Karasu had magic, he might have a way for Hiei to seize Kurama’s power without revealing himself. The opportunity to get what he wanted without endangering himself or his race was too good to pass up. So, at sunset, Hiei set out for Skull Mountain.
Skull Mountain was situated in a part of the ocean that looked gloomy and depressing. Still, Hiei pressed on, heading for the tall skull-shaped rock in the distance. As he got closer, he spied an opening at the base of the mountain.
That must be his home, he thought, swimming inside.
The cave’s interior was just as depressing as the ocean that surrounded it. The water was murky, the plant life barely alive, and the walls were smooth, but slimy. Hiei wondered why a sorcerer would choose to live in such horrible conditions.
He rounded a bend in the wall and the tunnel opened up into a deep, cavernous room. A closed cabinet hung on one wall along with shelves full of bottles containing dead or live sea life. Two shelves of books lined the wall opposite the bottles. A large cauldron sat on the floor between the walls and sitting on a throne-like chair behind the cauldron was Karasu.
“Welcome to my home, Hiei. I’m pleased that you decided to come.”
“I’ll listen to your offer. That doesn’t mean I’ll accept.”
“Of course, of course,” Karasu agreed.
“So, what did you have in mind?”
“Yes. Well, I’ve heard of your plan from some passing fish and it’s all well and good, but rather risky. My idea is less risky.”
“In order to get close to Kurama, you need to become human.”
“What! Me, become human!?” Hiei was disgusted beyond words.
“It’s the perfect disguise. Besides, I’m not done yet. Now, I’ll cast a spell that will give you human form for seven days, which will start tomorrow morning if you accept. You would have that long to gain Kurama’s trust.
“Once you have his trust, you must kill him with this dagger,” Karasu held up a dagger. Its handle and blade were golden and small jewels were encrusted on the handle. “This dagger will not work if you don’t have his trust. Once you do, it will glow. You will plunge it into his heart and it will steal his power and infuse it within yourself.
“If you succeed, you’ll become a merman again and able to go home. If you fail, you still become a merman but you’ll be my slave forever.”
“So either way, I’ll be a merman again,” Hiei stated.
“Yes. There is one thing, though. My services aren’t free.”
Hiei quickly pried open his pouch and pulled out the two coins. “I can give you these.”
“I don’t accept money for my services.”
“What will you accept?” Hiei asked, putting the coins away.
“I’ll accept a trade, actually. You see, this dagger is very precious to me.”
“I can see why.”
“Therefore, I’ll loan you my dagger in exchange for something precious to you.”
“I get the feeling that you know exactly what you want from me, so say it.”
“Very well. I want your voice.”
“My voice? Why?”
“It would be interesting, not to mention impressive, if you were to win his trust with no voice.
“Here’s what I propose. I’ll take your voice tonight and give you my dagger in return. Then, you go to where you see Kurama before sunrise. Make sure you’re on land by dawn. Once you’re a merman again, return my dagger and I’ll give your voice back. Is it a deal?” Karasu swam up to Hiei and held out a hand.
Hiei stared at the hand, his mind racing. Karasu was offering him the chance to gain Kurama’s power and keep his race safe. In order to do so, he had to trade his tail and voice for seven days on land and a magical dagger. Was this a worthwhile trade?
I can turn down the offer and still follow my risky plan. But, there’s a chance that Kurama will see my tail and be frightened off his secluded beach for the rest of his life. Karasu’s plan is risk-free. The only possible downside is being his slave./i>
All this went through his mind in a few seconds before saying, “It’s a deal.” and taking the proffered hand.
The moment he grasped Karasu’s hand, a green mist rose from the sorcerer’s arm. Hiei gasped at this sight, giving the mist the opportunity to enter his mouth. It slid down to his throat, stopped, and then came back up. The mist hovered in front of Hiei, showing a glowing sphere in its clutches. His voice! The mist soon formed itself into a glass sphere, Hiei’s voice inside it.
Karasu plucked the sphere out of mid-space with one hand and handed Hiei the now sheathed dagger with the other hand. “You made a wise choice, my friend. I suggest you hurry to that beach. Dawn will be here before you know it.”
Hiei nodded before leaving the cave, the dagger clutched to his chest. As he swam, he reflected on accepting the deal. Karasu was right. It was a wise choice. What was seven days compared to the rest of his life with the powers of fire and plants?
I won’t fail, he thought. I’ll kill Kurama and get my tail and voice back.
Chapter Four- The First Morning
The sky was starting to lighten as Hiei broke the surface and crawled out of the water onto dry sand.
I made it. Barely. Hiei watched the sky, wondering how much his change would hurt. There was no doubt in his mind that it would hurt to change into a human. He imagined that his tail would split in two, each one becoming a leg. Of course, his fins would become what humans called feet.
He stared at his tail. It didn’t hit him until now that he was going to miss it for the seven days that he was going to be on land. But, it would be worth it for what he would have upon his return home: A brand new power.
His gaze trailed over to the dagger he clutched in his fist. It was the object that would kill Kurama, draw the power into itself before transferring it to Hiei. Of course, it wouldn’t work if he didn’t have Kurama’s trust.
As the sun’s first rays appeared over the horizon, Hiei began to writhe, toss, and turn on the sand. He felt glad that he didn’t have a voice because the pain was unbearable. His tail flapped wildly up and down on the sand before splitting down the middle and becoming legs. His fins became feet while the ones at his waist vanished. As the transformation ended, so did the pain.
Hiei panted for a few minutes before examining his new limbs. He frowned at them. They seemed fragile, ugly, and…short. Great, he was a short human. He hated them. They were nothing like his tail. I already wish I had my tail back.
He shoved that thought aside and focused on the task of standing. It shouldn’t be too hard. He had seen Kurama do it the several days he had watched him.
Slowly, he rolled so that he was resting on what looked like the legs’ equivalent of elbows. He planted his hands on the ground and pushed.
What happened next appeared to be instinct. His feet planted themselves, one at a time, firmly on the ground. The upward motion from his hands helped him stand erect. He blinked in surprise. Well, that was-, he began to think.
Suddenly, his knees trembled and Hiei soon found himself sitting on the ground, one leg out to either side of him. easy, his thought concluded. He pounded a fist on the sand. How was he supposed to find Kurama if he couldn’t even stand?
“Are you all right?”
Hiei’s head whipped around at the voice and saw Kurama standing behind him wearing some kind of second skin.
Hiei shook his head and pointed at his legs, a mute answer to Kurama’s question.
“Ah. Okay, I see.” Kurama leaned down, grasped one of Hiei’s hands and hoisted him to his feet with almost no effort. His knees trembled again and he fell against Kurama’s chest.
“Whoa! Easy now. I guess you haven’t walked in a while. Perhaps, you’ve been adrift in the sea before coming here this morning.”
Not quite, Hiei thought.
“What’s your name?”
Hiei couldn’t answer and honestly he didn’t want to. The only time he ever gave his name was when he met Yusuke. Oh, wait! If I pretend to be his friend, he’ll trust me in practically no time.
He moved his lips soundlessly and desperately, knowing it was in vain. He saw Kurama’s eyes, which he noticed were green, fill with sympathy.
“You can’t speak. Oh, don’t worry. I won’t leave you out here by yourself. You’ll come with me.” Kurama pulled a cloth hanging behind him off and wrapped it around Hiei’s body and helped him walk away from the beach.
Kurama was thrilled. He had found someone new who could eventually become a new friend. At least he hoped so. He had one friend already, but he was still rather lonely.
I wonder who he is. I’ve never seen him before. His eyes are most unusual, too. I’ve never met anyone with red eyes before.
They round the corner and an enormous palace came into view. His home. He felt his companion stop in his tracks and stare at the structure before looking at Kurama quizzically.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t introduce myself. My name’s Kurama. Prince Kurama.”
The short teenager nodded. Kurama deduced that he was a teenager despite his height. His face was certainly not child-like nor did it have the mature look of an adult. He led his guest inside and straight to the bathroom. It would be breakfast soon and Kurama wanted his guest washed and dressed before introducing him to his parents.
As he scrubbed the boy’s black hair, noticing the interesting white starburst, he said, “I wish you could speak. Then I would know your name. I guess I’ll have to give you one.”
No! he thought desperately. I don’t want a filthy human name! I wish there was a way to tell him my name’s Hiei.
Kurama suddenly looked around. “Who said that?” he said before turning to look at Hiei. “Did you hear that?”
Hiei shook his head. Kurama frowned. “That’s odd. I could have sworn I heard someone. Well, I didn’t actually hear it. It was more like a voice in my head. It said, “Hiei.” What? What’s wrong?” His guest was nodding and pointing at himself.
“Is that your name? Hiei?” An enthusiastic nod was his answer.
Hiei dwelled on what just happened as Kurama helped him dress. Kurama had said the he had heard a voice in his head. Hiei knew that he had a strong desire for Kurama to know his name.
Am I a telepath? he wondered. Why haven’t I realized it before? Perhaps winning Kurama’s trust won’t be so hard after all.
“Mother, Father. This is my new friend, Hiei.”
Hiei bowed at the waist, like he would if he was in the Sea King’s presence.
The king and queen nodded at Hiei’s greeting, but barely looked at Kurama. Even their younger son, Shuichi, didn’t look at his brother. Hiei found this rather rude and oddly cold. Why didn’t they look at Kurama?
Breakfast was a chilly affair. Kurama’s parents chatted happily with Shuichi, but ignored Kurama as if he wasn’t in the room. The redhead kept his eyes focused on his plate and had a sad look on his face. Hiei noticed this, but was far more interested in learning to use his utensils. Only when he had mastered their use did Kurama’s demeanor really catch his attention. The mystery of his sadness was finally solved.
If he’s unhappy because his parents are ignoring him, killing him will be easy. No one would miss him or care that he’s dead.
Chapter Five- Plants and Telepathy
“I’m sorry you had to go through that,” Kurama apologized as he led Hiei through the front doors and toward the small kingdom below. He looked at his friend to see him point at Kurama and then over his shoulder. The prince smiled sadly.
“My relationship with my parents was not always like this. When I was younger, they loved my brother and me equally. I knew that I would one day be king. But then on my thirteenth birthday, three years ago, everything changed.
“I was in the garden that day when I noticed a dying rose. I reached out with the intention of potting it and caring for it. But, the moment I touched it, it burst into full bloom. I found other sickly plants in the garden. All of them became healthy and in peak condition when I touched them. At first, it scared me but seeing them so healthy gave me a thrill and joy I had never known before.
“I was so excited, I ran to my parents to show them. I imagined the things I could do with this power that could help the kingdom. This was my mistake. When I demonstrated my power, they became afraid of me. They distance themselves from me and relieved me of all my royal duties and my brother will be the next king. My parents think I’m a freak even though they haven’t said it. If it weren’t for my only friend, Kuwabara, I probably would have already killed myself. You don’t think I’m a freak, do you Hiei?”
Hiei shook his head and held up his hand, palm up. He willed his power to come forth and it did. A mini campfire appeared in his palm. Kurama gasped as Hiei extinguished the fire by making a fist.
“Wow! You can create fire. That’s amazing,” he said softly.
Hiei then noticed that they had stopped at the town’s fountain. He hadn’t even noticed how far they had walked because he had been entranced by Kurama’s story. But now, the fountain provided Hiei with an opportunity to show off.
Sitting on the rim, he beckoned Kurama forward. The redhead did so. Hiei then dipped his hand under the water and summoned his fire. Kurama’s eyes widened and his mind screamed that what he was seeing was impossible. Fire can’t exist underwater and yet, here was evidence to the contrary.
Hiei snuffed out the fire and pulled his hand out before looking at Kurama. The prince’s eyes were wide with shock, but delight sparkled in those green depths.
“Hey, Kurama!” a voice called.
Both boys looked over to see a tall, orange-haired teen running over to them. The boy seemed rather friendly to Hiei and deduced that he must be the Kuwabara Kurama had mentioned.
“Hi, Kuwabara. I’d like you to meet my new friend, Hiei.”
Hiei stood up and was, once again, struck by just how short he was. He just about had to lean backwards and crane his neck to see Kuwabara properly.
“You sure are short,” the teen remarked.
And you’re a big oaf, Hiei thought savagely.
Kuwabara’s face turned red. “W-What did you call me?” he demanded.
“Uh, Kuwabara. Hiei can’t speak,” Kurama said.
“But, he did! I heard him! Or I think I did.”
“I didn’t hear anything.”
“Well, it was more like a voice in my head.”
“I heard a voice in my head earlier today.”
Both humans lapsed into thoughtful silence. Hiei’s mind, however, was racing. This was the second time a strong thought was projected into someone else’s mind. Maybe I am telepathic. Cool. I can’t wait to tell Yusuke when I come home.
Yusuke paced his room for the umpteenth time. He hadn’t seen Hiei for four days. The first day was because Keiko wanted him to accompany her to the marketplace. The last three days, however, he hung around Hiei’s favorite haunts, but hadn’t seen him at all.
Where could he be? I’ve been to his home, the coral reef, and the sunken ships. No sign of him. Wait! The beach! What if that’s where he’s been all this time? He’s watching that human! Shocked that he didn’t think of it before, Yusuke swam for the beach.
Hiei sat on the sand and gazed longingly at the sea. It had three days since he became human and he missed his home terribly.
I have four days left to kill Kurama. I probably have to wait until day seven to strike. Hopefully, Kurama will do or say something to indicate that he confides in me.
Despite the time limit, being human is not all bad. Their beds are a lot more comfortable than my hammock. Their legs aren’t so ugly after all. Unlike that Kuwabara. I can’t believe Kurama’s friends with him. Speaking of friends, I wish Yusuke was here.
Hiei’s gaze traveled over to the rocks where he had spent two weeks spying on Kurama. Suddenly, he blinked. A pair of brown eyes was peering out from behind a rock.
He leaped to his feet and waded into the shallows as his mind cried out to his friend. Yusuke! Over here!
Yusuke came out from behind his rock and swam over to his friend, eyes wide in shock. “Hiei, is that really you? You’re human!”
I know. I made a deal with a merman sorcerer called Karasu. He knew that I desired Kurama’s power.
The human with power over plants.
Anyway, he cast a spell to make me human for seven days. This is currently my third day. I have to gain Kurama’s trust before seven days are up.
“Two questions: How come you’re talking in my mind and when could you do that?”
I’m getting there. In order to get Kurama’s power, I have to gain his trust and then kill him with Karasu’s magical dagger. Kurama’s power will flow into the dagger and then into me. I had to give Karasu something so I could use the dagger. I traded my voice for it. I think I’ve always been telepathic. The loss of my voice must have triggered it.
“So, if you succeed, do you stay human?”
Hell, no. If I fail or succeed, I become a merman again. Then I trade the dagger for my voice. If I succeed, I can go back to my home. If I fail, I’m Karasu’s slave forever.
“What!? Hiei, as much as I detest murder, you can’t fail!”
I don’t intend to fail. Kurama considers me a friend. He’s even told me how he got his power.
“Sounds like he’s starting to trust you.”
Yeah. I came to that conclusion this morning when the dagger gave off a faint glow, just like Karasu said. I think when it is glowing brightly and constantly that will be the signal to strike.
“Man, I hope so. I really miss you down here.”
I miss you, too. But, I’ll be home in four days.
“Okay. Bye.” Yusuke dove underwater while Hiei headed back towards Kurama’s palace.
Chapter Six- Dilemma
Hiei spent the following day trying to work up the nerve to tell Kurama he was telepathic. He knew he wouldn’t be pushed away for that ability. After all, Kurama thought his fire power was amazing.
Hiei looked beside him to see Kurama sitting under the same tree in the palace garden. He hadn’t even heard the redhead walk up or sit down. As he looked at the prince, his heart gave a funny jerk. He wondered briefly why it did before dismissing the question. He had something else to wonder about: Kurama’s nickname for him. What did he call him firefly for?
“You know, Hiei,” Kurama continued, leaning against the tree trunk. “I wish you could speak. Even if it was a language I had to learn, at least we could talk.”
Why did you call me firefly?
Kurama sat up, looking about wildly before looking at Hiei. “I heard that voice in my head again.”
I know. I’m the one who “spoke” to you.
“Wow. When could you speak telepathically?”
A few days ago.
“To answer your question: I call you that because of your power. Also…I know this is sudden and odd but, I think I’m falling in love with you.”
Hiei gaped at the redhead for a moment before answering, But you don’t know me.
“I know enough. I’ve told you things about myself and you didn’t judge me. You’re the first one besides my family who knows about my power. Even Kuwabara doesn’t know. I’ve liked you as a friend when I met you and now I feel myself loving you.”
Hiei didn’t know what to “say.” Kurama loved him after only four days? Well, he didn’t feel that way…or did he? He recalled his heart giving a little jerk earlier. Was he starting to feel something for Kurama?
“You don’t need to answer. I just wanted to tell you how I feel.”
Karasu grinned as he gazed into his magic crystal. He couldn’t hear what the human was saying, but that didn’t matter to him. Hiei was the one he was interested in watching. He had learned of Hiei’s history from the same fish that told him of Hiei’s plan and interest in Kurama’s power. He had been looking for someone to be his slave and Hiei fit the bill, providing he failed to acquire the prince’s power. Karasu had always wanted someone to order around. As he turned his attention back to the crystal, Kurama’s looks intrigued him.
“My, he is a handsome one. A shame he has to die. I would have loved to make him mine.”
Hiei woke up on his fifth day as a human and his first thought was on Kurama. The sudden confession the day before had been on his mind all day. Was Kurama able to see his true personality like Yusuke could?
Hiei looked at the dagger on his bedside table. The faint glow had gotten brighter and it pulsed on and off constantly. Was Kurama’s love based on trust? If so, then before sunset on day seven, Kurama would be dead. He knew he had to strike before nightfall. Karasu said the spell would only last seven days. So after sunset on the seventh day, he would become a merman again.
There was no grin or smile of pleasure on his face when he pictured that moment. Two days ago, he had been certain that he could kill the prince and return home, but now he wasn’t so sure. Kurama had been kind to him, when he found him on the beach, even after he learned Hiei couldn’t speak. He told Hiei things he hadn’t even told Kuwabara and now he confessed romantic feelings for Hiei.
Hiei first came on land with the intention of gaining Kurama’s confidence in order to kill him and steal his power. He got sympathy and the few grains of trust on that first day. His telepathic ability had opened up the lines of communication yesterday. Kurama was an entertaining companion and seemed full of life despite his parents’ treatment of him. It didn’t seem right to rob him of life.
But I don’t want to be Karasu’s slave. I only have two options: Kill or don’t kill. His head began to ache as he agonized over these choices. Hiei hopped out of bed, got dressed, and headed for the marketplace. He needed to keep busy so he could avoid making a choice.
The marketplace was fascinating place. He saw more human things that weren’t in his collection and wondered how they were acquired. After observing several booths, he found out that humans gave the vendors those round gold and silver things he still had in his pouch. Delighted, he started to look at the objects more closely.
Perhaps I can find something for Kurama as a show of friendship.
He paused at a jewelry booth and looked at the various pieces. Some of them reminded him of the ones back home and he quickly turned away from them. That was when he saw it: a circle of gold with green and red gems in it. He caught the vendor’s attention and gestured at the object.
“Ah, you have good taste, my friend. This bracelet is one of my finest works,” the vendor boasted.
And Kurama deserves no less, Hiei thought as he fished out his coins and held them out.
“I’m sorry, sir. You don’t have enough money for it.”
Hiei’s face fell. He couldn’t believe it. The perfect gift for his friend and he couldn’t get it.
“So,” came Kurama’s voice. “this is where you’ve been.”
“Your Highness,” the vendor said.
“I see you’ve met my friend, vendor.”
“Yes, sire. He wished to buy this bracelet, but he does not have enough.”
Kurama glanced at Hiei’s two coins and then at the bracelet. He reached into a bag tied to his waist, pulled out a handful of coins, counted, and handed them to the vendor. “I believe that will cover it.”
“Yes, sire. It does.” The vendor dropped the coins into a bag of his own and handed the bracelet to Hiei. “Here you are, sir.”
As the pair left the booth, Hiei held out the bracelet to Kurama. Actually, I wanted this to give to you.
“Why, thank you Hiei.” Kurama took the bracelet and slipped it onto his wrist. It was a perfect fit. Kurama smiled as he admired it.
Hiei’s heart fluttered at Kurama’s smile. That happy face made him happy. Hiei then came to a troubling conclusion: He couldn’t kill Kurama because he had fallen in love.
Now, what am I going to do? Hiei agonized over this question later that day. I don’t want to be Karasu’s slave, but I can’t kill Kurama because I love him. Getting his power doesn’t matter anymore. Getting out of this deal’s more important.
That night, Karasu visited Hiei in his dreams. Hiei found out early on in the dream that he could talk. It certainly made the conversation go more smoothly.
“You’re running of time, Hiei. Just two days left.”
“I don’t want his power anymore. I want to end this deal.”
Karasu shook a finger at him. “Sorry, Hiei, but the deal cannot be dissolved or altered in any way. I expended my magic for you and loaned you my dagger to seize that power. Surely, you don’t want to be my slave.”
“No. I don’t.”
“Then I suggest you care about that power again or you’ll be mine. Remember you have until after sunset on the seventh day.”
Chapter Seven- Loss
Hiei sat on the sand, watching the sun slowly sink. The gold dagger lay beside him, glowing bright and steady. It told Hiei that he had Kurama’s faith.
I have more than that. I have his love and he has mine. I just can’t tell him. Tonight I’ll turn back into a merman and begin my life as a slave.
Hiei had tried to care about the power, but it was no use. The dagger had mocked him on the table, trying to tempt him into using it. But Hiei couldn’t bring himself to use it. He pictured himself plunging the dagger into Kurama’s heart and seeing the light fade from his eyes. The very image made his heart ache with sorrow.
“Hiei! I’m glad I found you,” came Kurama’s voice.
Hiei’s heart sank and panic started to rise within. He couldn’t let Kurama see him change!
“Hiei, what would you say to a picnic tomorrow? I know this romantic secluded cove just down the-,”
I can’t go with you.
I have to go home tonight. I have to leave immediately after sunset.
“Did I do something? Did my confession scare you off?”
Not at all. Believe me if I could stay, I would. I just don’t have a choice.
“I don’t understand.”
Please leave Kurama. Forget about me.
“I’ll leave, but I’ll never forget about you. I love you.” Kurama planted a kiss on Hiei’s cheek before turning the bend in the rock and stopping. He had no intention in completely leaving until he saw who or what was making Hiei leave.
As twilight shadows crept across the land, Kurama saw Hiei get up, pull off his clothes, grab a glowing dagger, move to the coming tide, and sit down on the wet sand, with his legs sticking straight out. His actions confused Kurama. What was going on?
As the sun’s last rays touched the horizon, Kurama beheld a shocking sight. Hiei’s legs were merging together and becoming a long scaled black tail. Red fins replaced his feet and appeared at his waist.
Whoa. He was a merman all this time? he thought.
Hiei rolled onto his stomach and started to crawl out toward the sea. When Hiei was waist-deep, Kurama ran to the water’s edge. “Hiei! Please, don’t go!”
Hiei turned around, surprised that Kurama was still there. He stared across the water and into Kurama’s pleading eyes.
I’m sorry. I have to go. Goodbye, Kurama. I love you. With that, Hiei dove underwater, his tail surfacing for a moment before vanishing.
Kurama’s legs trembled before collapsing and he slid down onto the sand, tears spilling down his cheeks.
“Ah, there you are Hiei. I see you have my dagger. What’s this? It still glows. You didn’t kill him, did you?”
Hiei shook his head. He didn’t bother with his telepathy. He decided it would be a secret known only to his friends and his love.
“Oh, that’s too bad-for you. As per our deal, you return my dagger and in return you get your voice and a lifetime of servitude to me.”
As Hiei handed over the dagger, his voice flew out of its prison and back to his voice box.
“Now, your first task will be to clean those empty potion bottles behind my chair and put them in the cabinet in the back of the cave.
Hiei nodded and swam off to do his task while Karasu turned to his crystal to spy on Kurama. He still desired the handsome prince and was determined to find a way to own him.
Kurama returned to the beach the morning after Hiei left. He sat in his favorite spot and stared at the ocean. Hiei was out there somewhere and he had no way to search for him.
While he thought about Hiei, he gestured at the vines nearby and they wiggled, slithered, swayed, and coiled themselves. A small smile graced his lips as the vines moved as his fingers and mind willed them to.
A huge gasp sounded behind him. Startled, Kurama lost his concentration. He turned around as the vines dropped to the ground motionlessly. Kuwabara was standing at the beach’s entrance staring at Kurama, mouth agape.
“Kuwabara,” Kurama said as he got up. He nodded at the vines. “You saw me moving those vines. Cool, isn’t it?”
“Cool?” Kuwabara choked out. “Cool? No way. That’s freaky. I don’t want to be friends with a freak.” The teen ran from the scene, leaving Kurama swaying slightly, looking as if he had been punched in the stomach.
Chapter Eight- Karasu’s Scheme
“Perfect,” Karasu purred softly. “He’s vulnerable. I can use this to my advantage.” He opened his wall cabinet, grabbed a flask of liquid, and swam out of the cave, leaving Hiei confused at the sorcerer’s departure.
Kurama stared at where his friend had been. He had been afraid this would happen. His family was distant from him, but he had hoped his friend would be more tolerant. Such was not the case. Worst of all, Kuwabara called him a freak.
Hiei’s the only one who didn’t think I was a freak, he thought. But he’s gone and I’m all alone.
“Poor little prince,” a smooth voice spoke up from behind him.
Kurama whirled around and saw another merman in the shallow water. He had long black hair, pale skin, purple eyes, and a black tail.
“Who are you?” the redhead asked as he walked toward the stranger.
Karasu was surprised at Kurama’s calm reaction at seeing him. It was possible that the prince had seen Hiei’s transformation the night before. That would make his explanation of himself unnecessary. “I am Karasu the sorcerer. I’ve been watching you for some time. I know of your power and how you feel about the one called Hiei. I believe I can help you.”
“I can help you find Hiei. I have a potion right here that can change you into a merman.”
Kurama stared at the flask of blue liquid the sorcerer now held up. It sounded too good to be true. He could find Hiei by becoming a merman.
“How long would it last?” he asked, remembering that Hiei had been human for only a week.
“Ah, yes. Well, this potion is a permanent kind. I can whip up a temporary one so you can return home later.”
“No. That won’t be necessary. There’s nothing here for me to return to.”
“No. My family has no concerns about my whereabouts and my only friend has deserted me. I would gladly give up my life here for a life with Hiei.”
“In that case, join me in the water, and drink this potion.”
Kurama’s heart pounded and his stomach squirmed as he sat down beside Karasu. He was going to be a merman and would find Hiei. His hand shook with excitement and nervousness as he took the flask. He eyed the liquid as he said, “Will the transformation hurt?”
“It would if taken unknowingly or forced to drink it. However, I have been forthcoming in what it does and you’re willing to give up your life on land.”
Kurama nodded, pulled out the cork, and swallowed the potion. It tasted bitter and he nearly gagged at the taste. But after the last drop was swallowed, a warm sensation enveloped his legs. He watched in amazement as his legs merged together into a long white tail with pale white fins at the end and his waist.
Kurama sat and stared at his tail. It was beautiful. He tried to move it and the fins flicked back and forth.
“Very nice,” Karasu said. “You’re like an angelfish.”
“I’m ready to find Hiei,” Kurama stated.
“You won’t have to actually search. I know where he is.”
“You do? Please take me to him. I could use some lessons, first.”
“You swam with legs, yes?”
“Swimming with a tail’s not that different. It’s like your legs are stuck together.”
“It certainly feels that way.”
“Come along, prince. We don’t want to be spotted.”
“Oh, yes. Of course.” Kurama dragged himself into deeper waters and followed Karasu down into the depths.
Kurama was struck by how different the ocean was under the surface. It was an entirely different world. He saw areas full of life like a garden or a forest. However, Karasu led him to a dark and murky part that reminded him of a wasteland or a dead forest. It was rather depressing. Why would Hiei live here? It didn’t seem suited for the kind of person Hiei was.
“This way, Kurama. Hiei’s in here,” Karasu called as he pointed to the mouth of a cave at the base of a mountain. Excited to see his love again, Kurama quickly swam inside.
Kurama swam into the cavernous room and stopped right next to a cauldron. On his right, next to a wall, was Hiei who seemed to be wiping slime from the rocky surface. Hiei looked up at the sound of someone approaching and a look of shock and disbelief came to his face. “Kurama?” he said in a voice that sounded just like his telepathic one.
“Hiei! Are you a slave?”
“He certainly is,” spoke up Karasu, coming in from behind. “And from this point on, neither of you are to speak or interact with each other.”
Kurama whirled around to face him. “What is this, Karasu?” he demanded.
“Yes, I suppose I should tell you. See, Hiei saw you use your power several days ago and wanted it. So, he and I made a deal. I cast a spell to make him human for seven days. In that time, he was to gain your trust and then kill you with my magical dagger which would give Hiei your power. He gave me his voice in trade.
“If he succeeded, he would be a merman again, trade the dagger for his voice, and go home. But he failed. So, he got his tail and voice back, but he’s my slave forever.”
“Then, why bring me down here if Hiei and I cannot speak to each other?”
“I found you to be a very handsome human. I wanted you for myself.”
Kurama heard Hiei gasp before he said, “You tricked me into becoming a merman!”
“I suppose I did. It’s too late to do anything about it now. You’re a merman permanently and you’re all mine.”
Kurama, I’m so sorry, Hiei thought-spoke. It’s true that I originally planned to kill you. But when I fell in love, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Can you hear me, Hiei? Kurama thought.
Yeah. I can.
You have nothing to apologize for. You know my family life wasn’t good.
What about Kuwabara?
He found out about my power. He deserted me. I was lonely and all alone.
I still love you.
I love you too, firefly. We’ll find a way to escape.
Chapter Nine- Escape
Kurama and Hiei discussed various tactics, thanks to Hiei’s telepathy. Their discussions proved fruitless, seeing as how Karasu was a sorcerer.
Their captor made sure that neither of them had contact with the other. He was successful physically, but not mentally. He set Hiei to making the cave clean and presentable while he had Kurama keep him entertained.
It was those times that Kurama was grateful for the telepathy. While Karasu was kissing him or running his hands along his body, Hiei would “talk” to Kurama. Neither one risked angering Karasu for the sorcerer might separate them further than the length and width of the cave. For example, making Hiei a permanent human.
Hiei hated seeing Kurama being used as Karasu’s love toy. Kurama was showing the effects of Karasu’s demands: His hair laid flat against neck and back instead of floating, his eyes were dull, and his spirit seemed to be broken.
Karasu didn’t appear to notice Kurama’s condition. He continued to have his way with the redhead and Hiei felt powerless to stop him. Karasu didn’t deserve someone like Kurama.
When he first saw Kurama as a merman, he had been shocked. How did Kurama change? He soon got his answer when Karasu revealed his true intentions. Once the shock wore off, he admired Kurama’s new tail. It was gorgeous and seemed to glow with a silver light…or maybe it looked that way because it was next to a black tail. Either way, it drew attention to Kurama’s red hair and the hair drew attention to the tail in turn.
Two Weeks Later
Hiei was re-organizing Karasu’s potions and thought longingly of his home. Surely, Yusuke must have realized that Hiei had failed by now. If so, he was wisely staying away from the sorcerer. A deal was a deal and it would be wrong to try and break it even though Hiei had tried that a couple of weeks ago.
Suddenly, Kurama darted into the room. The prince had become a fast swimmer since his change. The matter of his speed left Hiei’s mind when he saw the stricken, yet exhausted look on the redhead’s face.
“Kurama? What’s wrong?” Hiei asked, ignoring the taboo since their captor wasn’t around.
That soon changed when Karasu swam in, an angry look on his face. “Kurama, get your tail back to my chambers,” he demanded.
Kurama fell to his tail’s “knees.” “Please,” he pleaded. “Please, Karasu. No more. At least for today.”
“I don’t think so. I am far from done today.”
“Leave him alone!” Hiei hissed. “He’s had enough today!”
“Silence, you sea urchin!” Karasu swung his tail and knocked Hiei to the ground. Karasu then grabbed Hiei by the throat and slammed him up against the wall. Hiei grunted from the impact.
“I’ll teach you to mind your place. I’m your master and you will show me respect and you will hold your tongue in my presence.” Karasu continued to apply pressure to Hiei’s throat as he spoke.
“I’ll speak as I please,” Hiei rasped. His retort earned him a fiercely slapped cheek.
“I told you silence!” Karasu slammed Hiei’s head against the wall again.
Kurama watched in horror as Karasu abused Hiei. If this kept up, Karasu was going to kill him!
I have to do something, he thought. He looked around desperately before spying a scraggly vine hanging from the ceiling. He swam up to it and put both hands firmly on the plant.
The vine instantly became healthy and grew in length. It snaked its way down and wrapped itself around Karasu’s entire body, forcing him to release Hiei. The merboy slid to the floor, gasping for breath.
Karasu struggled as the vine tightened its grip. Immense pressure was applied to his throat and gills. Within minutes, Karasu had been strangled to death.
“Hiei, are you all right?” Kurama swam up to him, concerned.
“I’m fine now.” He looked at Karasu’s body. “I guess I’m not a slave anymore, seeing as he’s dead now.”
“I-I didn’t mean to kill him,” Kurama said, horrified. “I just wanted him to stop hurting you.”
“I think he wouldn’t have stopped until he killed me. You saved my life.”
“You’re welcome.” Kurama brought his lips to Hiei’s. “Now, shall we leave this place?”
“Yes. My place is in a nicer part of the sea. I have a large cave with a collection of human things. You could tell me about them.”
“I’d like that.”
“I’ll also introduce you to my friend, Yusuke. You’ll like him.”
“I’m sure I will.”
The two mermen swam out of the cave, through the murky water, and into the clear blue water where their future together awaited them.