"What are you talking about?" Yuusuke looked out the window, not turning to face Koenma. From this high up in his fortress, he could see for miles in all directions, trees and trees and a village or two and trees and trees.
"Haven't you been listening to me for the last half hour?" the son of Enma demanded, incensed.
Yuusuke placed his fingertips lightly on the windowsill and leaned forward so that he could look directly down, at the moat surrounding his castle, the water muddy and moving like slugs round and round. "Oh, I've been listening," he murmured, smiling a little.
"Then you know that I need your help-"
"Why should I help you?"
"-to- Huh? What did you say?"
"I said, why should I help you?" Yuusuke finally turned around, and regarded the Reikai prince with mild curiosity in his eyes.
"Why... uh..." The seven-hundred-year-old little god seemed at a lost for words. "You are Reikai Tantei, you..."
"I'm not." Yuusuke's voice still hadn't changed. He was merely stating a fact. "There is no more Reikai Tantei. It's over."
"No," Koenma started to protest, but Yuusuke held up a hand to stall him.
"Everything's different now, don't you see? Kuwabara's married to Yukina, they're living in the Ningenkai and they have a family, kids who go to school and bring friends home and stay out past their curfew. Kuwabara runs a dojo. They have a normal life. When's the last time he's used his Reiken?"
"And Hiei." Yuusuke was almost smiling in amusement. "How do you plan to rope him in to help you? Do you know what he has done, in the Makai, the past years? He's even killed a number of my people. But I let him be, as long as he stays out of my territory, I let him be, because..."
He stopped. Something seemed to be constricting his throat. He swallowed, but it was still there. Was it something he ate? He looked at Koenma, and his expression did not change. "And Kurama's gone. You see, everything's changed now. How can you expect us to come at your beck and call anymore?"
"Yuusuke." Koenma studied him with his narrow eyes, and Yuusuke was reminded of the little god's seven hundred years. He tended to forget, sometimes. "Kurama's death was not your fault."
"No, it wasn't," Yuusuke agreed. "But I can't help you."
Shizuru and Keiko left the cafe and stood outside in the sunlight for a moment.
"So... I'll see you around, Shizuru," Keiko said.
Shizuru lit a cigarette. "Where are you going?"
"Home, I guess." Keiko looked away, some indiscernable emotion in her eyes.
"Well, if you've got nothing to do, you can come shopping with me," Shizuru announced. She linked her arms with Keiko's and started walking down the street.
"Shopping?" the other woman repeated.
"Yes. You know, the activity that women worldwide are supposedly famed for doing?" Shizuru smiled. "It's even rumored to be therapeutic. The wonder drug of the new millennium!"
"B-But I didn't bring enough cash..."
"So? I've got plastic." Shizuru's smile widened into a grin. "Let's go!"
"Er... Koenma?" Botan sat twiddling her fingers nervously and peered at Baby Koenma.
He was sucking furiously on his pacifier.
"What!" He looked up, and his squinched-eyed baby glare sent the blue-haired girl tumbling out of her chair. Botan picked herself up and readjusted her kimono, stalling for time. They didn't shoot messengers bearing bad news in the Reikai, as far as she knew, but being grounded for a couple hundred years or so seemed likely.
"Um... well... remember you told me to go look for Hiei in the Makai?"
"Er... well, um... the thing is..."
"Spit it out, Botan!"
"I found him."