After a busy week like the one I’ve had (and will continue to have until the week’s actually over), there’s really only one thing I want to do: sleep. However, in lieu of that, I wanted to find some fic that wasn’t overly long, since I doubted I would have been able to devote that much time to it, and something to help me wind down. I’m still not quite sure if I achieved the latter, but the nostalgic little piece of writing I ended up finding more than made up for any stress it happened to cause me.
One of my not-at-all-guilty pleasures is Yu Yu Hakusho. It remains, to this day, one of two anime series I’ve actually bought the entirety of, and the only series over fifty episodes that I would have no qualms about sitting down and marathoning at the drop of a hat. As most fans have come to accept, the final season wasn’t exactly stellar; however, it still gave us a satisfying ending where everyone was happy and easing into their new lives. Rosage’s Behind the Mirror, in that same vein, gives readers a glimpse into life after the series. But instead of focusing on the main four, it gives focus to a character who really deserved it: Yukina.
Watchers actually met Yukina in the first season of the show. From there, she became an easily forgettable side-character who was more “Hiei’s sister” or “Kuwabara’s’ crush” than an actual character of her own, only showing up to lament how she didn’t know who or where her brother was or to cheer on the other characters, and not much else. When the crew first meets her, Yukina is a captive of a terrible human, Tarukane, who tortures her as each tear she produces turns into a valuable gem (as is the way of all ice maidens). Not much is said about this after they free her, but that’s where Behind the Mirror really shines—Yukina gets a chance to cope with the trauma in her life and is not forced to deal with it alone.
Behind the Mirror slowly kills off the human characters, as humans age much faster than their demon companions, and soon, feeling out of place and anxious in the human world, Yukina travels with Hiei to the demon world. More specifically, they travel to Mukuro’s castle. It’s there Yukina starts grappling with her powers; she’s unsatisfied with remaining weak, but doesn’t know how to handle her ice power, or her underlying fire powers, which tend to go out of control if she lets her emotions get the better of her (which she usually does). More importantly, though, Yukina finds a strange friend in the past king Mukuro, and they both help the other with their lingering traumas.
“What did you do for work in the Human World?”
It’s the second question Mukuro’s asked that day, the other being where did the fool who just left put my remote? She’s since found it and seems bored by the content on the monitors, which after a false alarm hasn’t changed. Yukina has been knitting her a new headband.
“Mostly I did housework. I also helped rescue and nurse stray animals. There was a job I wanted, but…”
“Humans have doctors called therapists. They listen to people’s problems and try to help them feel better. But given everything, I wasn’t qualified to get the training.”
“An entire profession just to listen to others’ problems? I can’t imagine what sort of training could be required for that.”
“It’s not so easy. Most humans have a hard time absorbing people’s feelings that way, not to mention figuring out the best way to help. But I’m trained to turn off my emotions, or at least not show them.”
“In that case, why don’t you get some practice by listening to me?”
Yukina looks up from her knitting with surprise; since the night she stumbled into Mukuro’s room, Mukuro has not discussed her personal life. “Of course,” Yukina says.
Mukuro glances toward the closed door, then kneels in front of Yukina and places a finger against her forehead. “I communicate better without my voice.”
Seeing Mukuro’s scars hasn’t prepared her for the images that flood her mind. It throws walls up instinctively, but they crack and melt at even a fraction of the story Mukuro is trying to tell. Mukuro recedes before getting far.
“I thought you said you were trained to turn off your emotions?”
Tears are hardening at the corner of Yukina’s eyes. While wiping them away she realizes she’s quivering. “I am, but…”
After a few halting attempts at speech, Yukina takes Mukuro’s hand and returns it to her forehead. She manages to convey her own past imprisonment and torture before her mind shuts Mukuro out. Absently Mukuro brushes Yukina’s bangs.
“It may not be your ideal nest, but perhaps it’s not so bad you found your way here,” Mukuro murmurs.
Although a big draw of this fic is Yukina and Hiei learning how to be siblings after so long of a) Hiei avoiding the topic and b) Yukina simply not knowing, what really kept me invested was the friendship between Mukuro and Yukina. Although they’re somewhat linked together through Hiei—Hiei being Mukuro’s right hand man and lover—they get on fine without him. While they’re both able to express that they’re jealous of the other for the importance they hold in Hiei’s life, they share an emotional intimacy that no one else would be able to share. When she was young, Mukuro, too, was the victim of heinous abuse, and finding stability and understanding in a fellow abuse survivor allows Mukuro to further build her safety net and feel that she’s not alone in her suffering. Not to mention that the other lady friendship between Boton and Yukina is fantastic and lighthearted enough to give some relief from the inner struggle of Yukina’s mind.
At a little more than 27k words, Behind the Mirror gives an interesting and very needed look into Yukina’s coping methods from her traumas and losing her friends. So, if you’re looking for one of the rare YYH fics that doesn’t focus on any romantic ships and instead focuses on the friendships between everyone (and especially some of the oft-overlooked ladies), look no further than this. Make sure to check it out here at AO3.