...Hi. There's a whole chapter devoted to the understanding of this fic, and if you really want to read it--which you might; I've been told it's a good thing to do--it's here: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2030609/2/ Anyway, you could skip over this AN and get right to the story, but read it anyway. This fic is not about Yuusuke's death. It's not about Kuwabara's death. It's not about Hiei's death. It's not about Kurama's death. It's about the idea of death on the whole, and what we think when someone dear to us has died, versus what they may think, as well. In a situation where reincarnation is possible, and death is never really permanent, we may forget that the real world doesn't work that way. When animé tries to be as realistic as it can be in a world of make-believe, and fanfiction authors try to follow that animé as closely as possible, and the first episodes aren't necessarily the most important, they may be forgotten. It may be forgotten that Yuusuke almost wasn't revived, or what difficulties had to be gone through to see that it would even have a chance of happening, or that if it hadn't happened, they would have to wait fifty years before it could happen again and all his friends and family would be old and have moved on with their lives. Fic authors see that it did happen, however, and they figure it'll be dramatic to kill off characters, but they can just be revived and the ending will be all happy-go-lucky. Authors do that rather liberally, and I admit I've revived charaters, too (I've also not revived them, which is a different story entirely), but then the world all becomes make-believe and we might forget that it doesn't work that way. I can see you sitting there, thinking, "Shut up, already, I know YYH isn't real, and I know reincarnation doesn't really happen. Get on with the fic!" Well, to you I say, I believe in the subconscious, and I believe that when you get as involved with such shows as I do with YYH, sometimes you have flashes of subconscious thought that their world really does exist. Not to mention all the authors who "pretend" that Kurama is their boyfriend, or some such thing. I think you've either listened to me blather on long enough, or you've skipped over enough text. (By the way, this article is slightly similar to the chapter explaining the fic that is linked above, but not the same. If you were planning to read it, but then read this and decided not to, I suggest you go back and read it.) Onward! Final note: no names are mentioned. It's for a reason. Who's speaking? You tell me. Read the article linked above for further information on that. Walking Backwards Ten days ago, I saw a most interesting sight. I watched as four lives ended, together, all at once. I don't think I should ever see such a thing again. It was most peculiar; the last thing I remember—the last thing relevant to anything, at least—is that we were all together, the four of us, sitting on a hilltop together, waiting for our next mission instructions. Then, entirely out of nowhere, a group of four youkai leapt out of the trees and attacked us. They were quite strong, and we were quite unprepared. At the very least, we lost the battle, though we put up a good fight, all things considered. None of the others were killed. So why am I telling you this? None of the others were killed, so why would this story matter? Because, while none of the others died that day in the most literal sense of the word, I did, but that is not why four fighters lost their lives all at once. And I would like for someone to know why. Because it's sure as hell that no one else will listen to reason. The separation of soul from physical body is a painless thing, relatively. Besides, the soul is most likely distracted, at the time, by the act of their body's death. Much of the time, the soul doesn't even realize that its body has died at the time. I knew. That didn't necessarily mean I would accept or admit to it, but I did know. I blame my death on my brash overconfidence in the face of surprise at the attack. One would be hard pressed to find a youkai I had never heard of being stronger than I, and I did not assess the situation well. Assumption is a dangerous thing, and one slip can end in unfixable errors. For that is what death is, right? It's an unfixable error. The others wouldn't accept it at first. Like the loyal friends they are to each other, and to me, their first thoughts were of how to speak to Koenma to arrange for my reincarnation. They would need my approval first, something they didn't appear to remember—or they assumed I would agree, which I would not—but no one thought to even try to ask me. It would have been a fatal error if all things had gone according to their plans up to that point. They remembered all their experiences with revival, and they assumed it would happen for me, too. Now. Assumed I would want it. But I'm tired. I don't want to go through that living hell again. I don't want to go back to that life. I don't want to go back to life at all, but no one seems to understand that. No one even tries. As I watch them, and I do, constantly, I see them plan fervently and not take into account the most potent variable, as to whether I want to return. But because I am watching them always, and I can travel through solid masses, I see what they think, but will not say. And they all have their doubts. They all think the same things, really. In different ways, perhaps, seeing it through different windows, but it's all one idea. Death is irreversible, no matter how we may wish to think otherwise. A new entity may be born from the ashes of defeat, but that soul cannot carry with it the one it leaves behind, and those very ashes that used to be one life are no longer able to. They all know it, but they all pretend, because they think that if they believe hard enough, everything will work out for the best. What they don't seem to realize, though, is that there are two bests in this situation: what they desire, which is my full return to life with all my memories and persona intact. And what I desire, which is the final frontier. To be left to my own demise. To be lost and not forgotten. To be preserved in their memories as their friend, their comrade, their ally. The person they envisioned me to be, whatever that may have been. A new entity I may return as, for my old body was far too torn apart to ever be mended and reused, would never be the same person I was before. New life may begin, but it cannot bring back an old one, and what they may think this new soul to be would destroy what they thought I was. I don't want that. It may be selfish of me—I believe it is, in fact—but I want them to remember who I was in their eyes. Not some new person with my name and an entirely different life. If you could even call it that. Half life may be more like it, living in the shadow of a person he never even knew existed. I like to pretend that that thought alone makes it unselfish, but really, I don't think so. More like, I don't want him stealing and ruining the life I worked so hard to make my own. And suddenly it's selfish again. It always will be, and there's nothing I can do or say to change that. They sense my presence, once in awhile. Or, at least, I think they do. Maybe they only look wistfully into the sky and wish, but I make myself believe they sense that I still watch over them. Who knows, really. Maybe they do. I can't hover forever in the echoes of lives that should be led as real lives. Theirs, I mean. They should still live to their utmost, the way all lives were meant to be. They have to let go of me, and in turn, I have to let go of them. I have to do it first, I know. They can't forget someone who can't forget them. Or maybe they can't forget me at all, and I'm using the wrong words. They don't need to forget. They can't, and neither can I. We just need to forgive. I need to forgive them for fighting their own battles alongside me as I fought mine, and they need to forgive me for losing. Both stupid things. I shouldn't blame them for not protecting me. There was no reason, none at all, to believe they would. They shouldn't have, and I know I would have been furious at them if they had. They can't resent me for losing, because they know I tried. They know I was surprised, as little as I should have been, and they know they were, too. I just didn't deal with it as well as they did. I'm not weak, or anything. I was just under pressure. Life was hard for me, and it only got more so as I got older and older and yet, kept on going as a Reikai Tantei. Pressure I should have been used to, maybe, after dealing with it for so long, but every once in awhile, it gets to you, and that was just one of those times. Inconvenient, yes, but nothing could be done about it. Nothing could be done, because death is permanent. You cannot reverse death, and a new life does not bring back an old one. Accepting that would be the first step to releasing the ties that bind, and I would be free. As I said at first, all I remember of any consequence, before my death, is that we were all sitting together on that hill in the forest. That damn hill, where my life and the lives of my friends ended. Where life was lost when it should have been restored. I'll always feel resentment, I think. I'll forgive, and not forget, and I will return, sometimes. I won't lock myself in the shadows of my friends and I will move on. At least, I'll try. I don't know; I may just end up walking backwards instead of moving forwards. It won't help that I'll be seeing them all move on; fix their lives, grow into adults—the ones who aren't already, depending on your definition of adults—live the ways they were meant to, and be their own persons. I'll wish I was there with them, from time to time, but that's only to be expected. I'll watch them laugh, and I'll watch them cry, and I'll wish I could join in their fun, and dry their tears, and I'll have to be content with simply watching. Or, that's what I hope, anyway. It may not be allowed. But I'll take whatever death throws my way.