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Title: That Strange and Subtle Magic of Birthdays
Fandom: Yu Yu Hakusho
Pairing: Yusuke/Kurama
Rating: Probably PG, with only ridiculously vague allusions to sex.
A/N: Update, what? To reiterate, a short story that spiraled out of control, based on a variety of myth and sources, most notably "The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye". We're almost at the end now.


It isn't until much later that the question occurs to Yusuke.

“Hey, Kurama?” he murmurs, and beside him, the djinn shifts lazily, red hair whispering across damp sheets. Yusuke takes that to mean that Kurama’s listening. “Why didn’t I know before?”

“Hmm?” Or maybe he’s wrong – it wouldn’t be the first time.

“Why didn’t I know before?” he repeats, and then elaborates, just to be safe. “About us. I mean, if I’ve been following you, why didn’t I know you when you first appeared to me?”

There is a very long pause before Kurama sighs and rolls to face him, green eyes bright in the fading moonlight, and the mere sight of those eyes is enough to make Yusuke want the djinn again.

“Perhaps,” Kurama says slowly, “I misspoke.”

“Huh?”

“It seems it is not as simple as your soul following mine, nor my soul following yours,” the djinn muses, idly tracing his fingertips over Yusuke’s chest. “Instead, our souls may be…drawn to one another. And your soul can remember what it knew only when the two are reunited.”

Yusuke’s having a harder time concentrating than usual – he suspects it’s probably due to all that pale skin on display beside him – but he still manages to wonder about this conclusion.

“So…what?” he asks, rather distractedly. “I just…keep on getting…reborn? Wandering around until I happen to run into you? That seems...”

“Cruel?” Kurama finishes, with a bitter laugh. And while that’s not quite what Yusuke had in mind, it will suffice. “I was never supposed to find love. Fate has conspired to take you away from me time and time again, to leave us fumbling to find one another by chance. And yet, here we are.”

The djinn smiles gently. “We’ve won.”

But that doesn’t sit right with Yusuke. Because they haven’t really, have they? There’s one more thing to be done, and Yusuke’s pretty sure he knows what it is.

“Kurama?” he says softly, and though it comes out sounding more like a question than anything else, there is no doubt in Yusuke’s mind. Against his chest, the djinn stirs, makes a soft, inquisitive sound. And taking a deep breath, Yusuke speaks the last words of his life.

“I wish you were free.”

Immediately, Kurama tenses against his body, what feels like every muscle in the djinn’s body pulling taut at once. And then, slowly, Kurama sits up, staring incredulously down at Yusuke, who only smiles up at him.

“No,” the djinn mutters, and the look that falls over his face is absolutely horrified. “No, Yusuke, take it back. Quickly, take it back!”

But Yusuke can’t. This is what needs to happen; he knows that now. Maybe he’s always known that.

“Yusuke,” Kurama pleads. “Take it back. Take it back, and we can be together. As long as you never make a third wish, I can stay with you.”

Yusuke only shakes his head. To have the one he loves forever subject to his will? To be forced to carefully weigh everything he says, in order to avoid inadvertently making a final wish and sealing Kurama in the lamp once more? Judging from past experience, he’d fail miserably. No, Kurama must be free. There is no other way.

“Yusuke!” the djinn tries desperately, but it’s already too late. At his wrists and ankles, the bindings are glowing brighter and brighter, and it’s with a strange sense of irony that Yusuke realizes it at last: Kurama is as much a slave to his own magic as to that which binds him. He can no more refuse to grant this wish than he could have escaped his curse.

But his heart is breaking, Yusuke can see that in Kurama’s agonized expression, and Yusuke wants to reach out, to reassure him, but his voice seems to be gone. As the magic builds, his energy drains slowly away; so though he wants nothing more than to tell Kurama not to worry – because he’s seen it, after all: what else could those strange visions have meant? – that they will meet again, in some new life, he can’t.

He can only let his eyes slip closed and his breathing slow, to the sounds of his one true love – it must be true, he’s broken the curse – calling his name in anguish.

“Yusuke.”

“Yusuke!”

Yusuke!

Once more, comments and criticisms are more than welcome, and for anyone who's been waiting on this, I apologize that it's taken so long.
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