Category:  Anime, Rurouni Kenshin, Yu Yu Hakusho, AU, Yaoi
Warnings:  violence, blood
Pairings:  will be SanosukexKenshin, KuramaxHiei
Author:  Arigatomina


Part 1

Sanosuke Sagara didn’t believe in magic.  Although he considered himself rather superstitious, his worries concerned making sure he didn’t walk under any
ladders while black cats strolled across his path.  He didn’t care about the occult.

His last partner had complained that he lacked imagination, but anyone who really knew him was quick to claim the opposite.  When it came to wild stories,
Sano could spin with the best of them.  He simply didn’t believe the yarns he told or heard.  They were stories, nothing more.  He’d never had any reason to
believe in things he couldn’t see, things that were even less provable than good and bad luck.

He was furious to think that he would die because some idiot believed in demons.

He’d wasted the last month of his life pretending to be as psychotic as the rest of the cult members.  And for what?  So he could become their next victim?  

If by some strange chance he did manage to survive, he’d have to remember to work on his acting skills.  He still didn’t know what part of his act had given him
away.  One minute he’d been playing the part of cult worshipper, and the next he was drugged, bound and prepped.

A glinting blade invaded his vision, his eyes momentarily unfocused from the tall flames he'd been staring at.  He forgot about the fire across the room from
him and focused on the knife that was hovering in front of his face.  The weapon was unreal, two feet long if it were an inch, and barely wide enough for the
crooked metal handle swirled around the end of it.  He’d heard Masayuki praise the weapon, going on and on about how difficult it had been to mold the metal
‘just so’.

Sano glared at the person holding that knife, his head tilting back against the wooden beam they’d bound him to.  

Masayuki was a small, weathered old man.  Even with Sano on his knees, the man was barely a head taller.  He was the only member of the cult with the hood
of his dark robe tossed back to show his face.  Sano wasn’t sure why he bothered when the man couldn’t see a thing.  He usually kept his eyes closed, but the
one time Sano had spotted them, they’d been filmy lifeless orbs in his wrinkled head.

Sano’s glare intensified, his teeth crushing the wad of cloths they’d pressed into his mouth.  He couldn’t believe he was going to die like this, bled to death by a
blind man who was still chanting ridiculous monosyllable words.  How was Masayuki even supposed to know where he was cutting him?

Before he’d managed to infiltrate the cult, Sano had been a member of the homicide teem at the cult’s previous attempts.  He’d spent quite some time studying
the ritualistic murders, so he was very familiar with the pattern that identified this particular cult’s torture ritual.  He’d even had Masayuki and the others explain
the pattern to him, before he realized his cover was blown.  Although Masayuki was the only one ‘qualified’ to do the cutting, he’d been sure to explain the
steps to all of the cult members, Sano included.

Sano had worked damn hard to listen to the old man’s spiel without showing his disgust and ridicule.  And for his hard work, he’d get to experience the torture
firsthand.  So much for preventing more of the ritualistic murders.

Masayuki’s hands touched his bare shoulders, and Sano looked down at the one holding the knife.  A muffled growl sounded in his throat.

He couldn’t stand it.  The worst part wasn’t even his eminent death.  The worst part was what his coworkers would be saying once they found out.  He just
knew Saitoh would never let anyone forget how he died.  The entire squad would be calling him a bloody baka before that jerk let it pass.

‘And bloody is right,’ Sano thought with a wince. If Masayuki did what he'd seen at the other crime scenes, this was going to be a slow death.

His mahogany brown eyes narrowed as the sharp blade pressed down on his shoulder.  His skin split in a thin line of red that thickened slowly, blood welling to
the surface where it beaded before spilling over into rivulets that trailed down his chest.  The second cut mirrored the first, and Sanosuke was almost glad for
the gag in his mouth that gave him something to clench in his teeth.  

He already knew what was next.  The psychos had explained the entire ritual to him in detail.  It made him wonder if they'd known he was a cop then, and if so,
why they'd bothered to tell him at all.  Then again, if they hadn't told him, he might have suspected something was amiss.  

He dropped his gaze to the basin he was kneeling in.  The bottom of it was just starting to be spotted with his blood.  He'd seen the silver pan often enough in
the last week to know much more blood would be needed before it would drain into the crystal bowl set beneath it.  

The blade was now curving down to make the first slash of the 'x' across his chest and he stifled a pained growl.  If they'd used a physical blow, he'd have
been grateful.  He hadn't been cut once during his three years on the force, and he was amazed at how much those thin lines on his shoulders had hurt.  
These cuts were a fraction deeper, severing more than just skin.

Sano jerked his head back against the beam again, his jaws clenched at the feel of metal scraping along his ribs.  His vision hazed at the instant pain of it.  He
found himself staring into the leaping flames that suddenly seemed to fill the room, dark fiery red, the color of his blood.


Kurama, often known as Shuuichi Minamino, was dreaming.  Bloody flames burned his eyes, lapping up hungrily as if he were suspended over them.  He
struggled to pull back from the intense heat, the smokeless fumes drying his glazed eyes.  Those flames snapped up, flickering higher until they tasted him.  
He could feel the sharp tongues flicking across his shoulders.  And the fire grew, darkening from bloody red to deep black so suddenly he gasped.

His eyes snapped open, leaving the dream only to find something just as disorienting.  For a long moment, he was dazed.  He didn't understand why the
inferno he'd hovered over was suddenly yards away, a small blaze carefully contained in a manmade pit surrounded by stacked cinder blocks.  

A trickle of sweat trailed his cheek and someone moved between him and that distant fire.  Kurama jerked back, emerald eyes widening.  Dull blue eyes
sparkled back at him from a shockingly normal, and familiar, face.  An image leapt to his mind, even as he listened to the man's unintelligible mutterings.  

This man's eyes had watched him before, from a younger form, an infinitely familiar one that brought a name to his lips.  He’d never seen the man before, but
he knew his son.  The resemblance was uncanny.

Cloth muffled his word when Kurama tried to speak the name aloud.  He twisted his head to the side, too stunned to wonder why Yamatto's father was in front
of him.  He’d just realized he was tied to something, gagged and weakened.

Pain sliced a path down his chest, from his right shoulder down, arching painfully over his ribs and ending at his waistband.  His teeth closed over the dry
cloths filling his mouth, and he no longer cared how he'd gone from standing outside his mother's house to being cut by his classmate's father.  

Fury at the inexplicable assault sparked his eyes, feeding his youki until the blue-eyed man reeled back with an audible gasp.

The inferno Kurama had dreamt about now roared behind his closed eyes.  It was a real blaze, only he felt it on the inside.  A ward, blocking his energy so that
it couldn’t leave his body. Kurama clenched his teeth, nearly shredding the gag as heat lanced through him.  Hissing crackles reached his ears, the only
audible sound of the kekkai asserting its dominion.  

His anger entwined with the pain, and he shoved the youki down, bleary eyes dropping to actually look at the cool metal he felt through his white pants.  He
couldn't see the markings on the outside of the square basin, his human form didn't allow for such an ability, but he recognized it as the object of power that it
was.  And he recognized the stupidity of his actions.  

He knew better than to react without first understanding his situation. He hadn't lived one third of a youko's lifespan without learning that.  But he'd never been
attacked once in the seventeen years he'd spent in human form, either.

The muttering had resumed after the crackling battle of youki and kekkai, and Kurama glared when the man carved a line down the left side of his body.  

He found that his hands were bound behind him, around a pole or board, or something wooden.  If not for that, he wouldn’t have been able to hold himself
upright.  The kekkai and bloodloss had worked together to leave him weak to the point of exhaustion.

He looked past the man and spotted others beyond that small fire.  They were hooded, anonymous forms with shadowed eyes.  And there was something
familiar about that, the way they circled the other side of the orange flames, their low echo of the man's words.  They reminded him of movies he'd seen, older
films, horror flicks so poorly made they'd never graduated from black and white into color.  

It hit him like the punch line of some sick joke.  He was the sacrifice, to a bunch of humans, who thought him nothing more than the perfect student he
pretended to be.  And, somehow, they'd managed to find an object with such binding power that he might have stolen it in his wilder past.  The question was
whether they actually knew how to use it.

Yamatto's father, for the man had to be that boy's kin, considering he'd obviously drugged him, was watching him with bright eyes.  Kurama could feel more
sweat beading his brow, but his skin felt cold now.  He didn't have to look down to know he was losing blood, quickly.  The man looked even more excited now
than he had before, and some part of Kurama wanted to smack the idiot before killing him.  

Kurama was absolutely certain the fool had seen the kekkai's reaction as a good sign.  As far as he knew, the human was wrong.  Humans didn't have any
spells that would work on him, surely they didn't.  All the man could do was bleed him to death, and only the power of the basin he knelt in kept him bound to
suffer through that death.  

The pain he'd done his best to ignore was slipping away, replaced by creeping numbness.  

Kurama wanted to sigh at the irony of it.  Now he wouldn't have to worry about how he would cross back into the Makai after he tired of his human life.  He was
about to die without ever having the chance.

A frown passed over the chanting man's face and Kurama realized, with dull humor, that he had sighed.  How amusing.

With a tired glare, Kurama stiffened his weakening muscles and raised his head.  He barely felt the hard surface his hair pressed against as he lifted his gaze
to the small fire.  

That fire was so insignificantly weak and human.  To think he would die so easily, by ningen hands.  It was hard to believe, but that pale, bloody sun of a fire
proved it.  Makai flame, demon flame, was much more vivid, realer, darker with a heat that far surpassed anything these humans would ever know.  

His breathing weakened slowly, as he fought to center his blurring vision.  He could almost imagine those dull flames were creeping higher, an ebony vein
bleeding from the center to flicker up, consuming the red, darkening the room.