Okay, really they mostly bitch about how they have no work. But anyway.
The Other Side of Reality: Chapter Two
In which Kuwbara really needs to use the bathroom, and Kurama goes missing
Kuwabara dreamed about a room made of night and stars that dripped blood down on his head. The blood gathered and pooled around his feet, rising swiftly till he was wading in the thick, slick liquid. There was no smell, and that's how he knew it was a dream; because he'd been bathed in blood before and the copper stink of it gave him a headache and made his throat clench.
Something tugged at his calves, an undertow in the ocean of blood. The stars still rained down into the room, but now the blood was churning, a whirlpool forming in the center of the room, a perfect circle of churning red. The blood flowed past him, the force pulling at him enough to drag him forward into the center of the circle, and he fell under the surface.
As soon as he was submerged the blood was gone and he lay on his back on the floor. Above him the stars had gone dark, and the sky was black and empty. Everything was black and empty, but when he looked down at himself, he could still see.
He stood, and he was dry and clean, no blood anywhere. He wondered if the blood had been pulled out of his veins as well, if he would still be alive when he left the night.
Around him, a perfect circle of red began to glow in the night, and another within it. Symbols, designs glowed blood red and pulsed around him like a heartbeat. He stood in the center of it and each pulse of the red light made his breath catch in his chest. Somehow he understood that he wasn't part of this circle, that the symbols it contained were pushing him away.
He raised his hands before his eyes, and the same pattern was carved into the palm of each hand. Wonderingly he turned them over, and there was a different circle, different symbols, carved into the skin on the backs of his hands.
The black beneath his feet vanished and he fell.
Kuwabara woke and eyed the ceiling warily, but it was the same off-white it had always been, with no sign of blood-spewing stars in sight. He checked his hands for strange occult patters, just in case. He hadn't had any weird dreams come true on him for a while, but stranger things happened. There was nothing out of the ordinary though, so he just rubbed a hand across his eyes and stretched.
The absolute best thing about being self-employed was the ability to sleep in. It was a liberty that Kuwabara had taken to abusing over the last few months, to the point where Shizuru had threatened to start sending clients up to his bedroom if he couldn't be out of bed by the time the office opened. He'd have been a lot more intimidated if they ever had any clients.
Still, some things could only be ignored for so long and Kuwabara reluctantly rolled out of bed. He scratched his chest and rolled his shoulder and staggered down the hall toward the bathroom. No sounds came from downstairs, but it was the weekend, and Shizuru wouldn't be by to open the office until after lunch. Which was good, because it meant he wouldn't have to worry about getting dressed before he got his coffee.
But first. He yawned, cracking his jaw as he knocked on the closed bathroom door. "Kurama? Man, tell me you're not turning the room into a sauna again." He would have added something about taking more time in the bathroom than any three girls Kuwabara knew, but his self-preservation kicked in at the last minute.
He yawned and stretched, locking his fingers together and reaching above his head. "Kurama," he managed through the yawn.
His spine crawled and the hair on the back of his neck stood up. He craned his neck to glance behind him, thinking maybe Shizuru had snuck up on him. She could do that, her own psychic abilities effectively canceling out his when she wanted them to. When he was a kid she'd done that all the time. He was fairly certain she was to blame for at least half his paranoia.
But the hallway behind him was empty, and he shrugged it off.
Coffee, he decided. Coffee, coffee. Maybe by the time he'd set a pot to brewing, Kurama would be done curling his hair and doing his nails.
The downstairs was dim and shadowy. Kuwabara flipped on the kitchen lights as he grabbed the coffee tin out of the cupboards. A glance out the window over the sink showed a dark, overcast sky and the signs of rain from the night before.
The coffee machine was the only new thing in the room. Other kitchen appliances had come with the house, and varied in age from decrepit to merely old, but the coffee maker was brand new and bright white. After his apartment burned and the insurance fell through, Kuwabara had shelled out of pocket to make sure he could still get his caffeine fix every morning – even if he got it while sleeping on the floor in Urameshi's living room.
Coffee grounds; filter; button pressed. The drizzly sound of percolating coffee filled in some of the empty space in the silent house. Kuwabara leaned on the counter and inhaled deeply, trying to suck the caffeine straight into his lungs. It distracted him from how much he needed to use the bathroom, and the lingering feeling that something was sneaking up on him.
Breakfast, he decided. He wasn't usually up early enough to eat breakfast, so it'd be a nice change. He pushed off the counter and crossed the kitchen, planning to check the fridge and see if they actually had anything that could be considered food. They must have bread at least. Toast maybe. Or rice. They had to have rice, didn't they?
He paused with his hand an inch from the refrigerator handle, feeling something huge and dark and empty pressing down on him.
Okay, he thought. The fridge isn't that empty.
He backed away a step or two and the sensation faded. A step forward and it came back, something huge and… yawning.
His hands hurt. He glanced down, expected to see circles cut into the backs of his hands, but all he saw were two angry red circles of raised flesh, like a burn. He clenched his fists and they were gone.
Tentatively, he lowered his shields, reaching out. He prodded at the emptiness, and it was like, like being numb and deaf and blind. He was used to his psychic abilities bringing him too much input, more details than he could handle, but this was nothingness was just as hard to cope with. It was a dark place of vacuum in the middle of what was otherwise a perfectly ordinary world.
He stepped forward again until he was practically pressed against the fridge, until he could feel the void above him. He tipped his head back, staring at the ceiling. The paint was browned and peeling, the wood beneath it looked soft and rotten.
Kuwabara pictured the upstairs and figured he was standing directly beneath the bathtub.
He forgot the coffee and took the stairs two and three at a time. The bathroom door was locked, and the doorknob didn't give under his grip. "Kurama?" he called, just in case his senses were messing with him, just in case he was about to bust in on Kurama jerking off in the shower or plucking his eyebrows.
No answer. He lowered his shoulder and hit the door hard enough to take it off the hinges. Except that suddenly the door seemed to be made of concrete, and Kuwabara backed away with an aching shoulder and a slightly dizzy feeling.
The door wasn't even made of real wood. It should have splintered easily. He narrowed his eyes and rested one hand flat against the door, probing at it tentatively with his sixth sense.
Dark. Black. Empty. He saw blood pooling behind his eyelids and shook his head to chase the image away. His palms itched, and when he backed away, the door was smeared with his blood, even though the skin of his palm was unblemished.
"Okay," he said, wincing at the slight nausea that bubbled in his stomach. "No touching the door. Right."
Possibly it was time to call in reinforcements.
Yuusuke was on the Tarzan level of Kingdom Hearts, getting his ass kicked by evil monkeys for about the twentieth time, when Genkai appeared in the door way and threw the phone at his head. He ducked on reflex and caught the phone in his left hand, tucked it under his ear and quickly had Sora keyblade a heartless into non-existence. "What?"
"We have a problem." Kuwabara sounded terse and a little worried.
"Tell me about it," Yuusuke said in disgust. "I'm getting my ass kicked by freaking monkeys. I hate this game."
Kuwabara grunted into his ear. "We have bigger problems than your inability to win at a children's video game, Urameshi."
"It is not a kid's game," Yuusuke said hotly. "And just because this one level is a little tough doesn't mean I never win!"
"Urameshi," Kuwabara said. "Concentrate. I know that's asking a lot of you-"
"-but we have a problem."
Yuusuke hit pause and grabbed the phone to hold it more securely. "What's going on?"
"Kurama's trapped in the bathroom."
Yuusuke blinked and pulled the phone away to stare at it, as if it could explain what the hell Kuwabara was talking about. "Could you repeat that, please?"
His friend was starting to sound tense. "You heard me the first time, Urameshi."
"This already sounds like something I don't want to be involved with." Yuusuke eyed the television screen regretfully and set the controller down.
"It gets better. I'm pretty sure the bathroom isn't actually there anymore."
"This is your bathroom, right?" Yuusuke grabbed his jean jacket and slid his arms into the sleeves, somehow managing not to drop the phone. "The one in your house? With the tacky shower curtains?"
"My sister bought those shower curtains. And yes, that bathroom. It seems to be gone. Or at least, inaccessible."
Yuusuke paused at the front door as he shoved his feet into his sneakers – a pair so ratty Genkai had told him to leave them out on the porch instead of by the front door. "Okay, maybe this is a dumb question-"
"-but did you stop to think Kurama just, you know, locked the door? Maybe he's taking a piss and you have some kind of weird separation anxiety that I don't need to know about?"
"Urameshi, the downstairs ceiling is rotting. The ceiling directly beneath the bathroom. There's blood running down the walls in the kitchen. Kurama went in there and never came out. Get your ass over here."
"You know," Yuusuke said tightly, "I never liked that creepy house."
Kuwabara laughed shortly, "You like it enough when you break in and eat all my food." Then he hung up.
Yuusuke tossed the phone over his shoulder to Genkai, who caught it without acknowledging him, and ran out the door.