Author: OneAmahira
Content Rating: T-13
Published: 2012-11-18 21:13:00
Tags: yu yu hakusho, yyh, hiei, kurama, yusuke, kuwabara, anime, second person



Summary:
Yusuke Urameshi gave up being Spirit Detective after the first Demon World tournament. Now three years later the next tournament to determine who shall rule Demon World is slated to begin and a new Spirit Detective has been sent to observe. Something is awakening that endangers the very existence of all three worlds. Old friends must reunite and team up with new faces to save everything they hold dear. Or die trying.

Author´s Notes and Disclaimers:

Not quite preserved in it's original Quizilla form, part 30 of Somewhere Between Hope and Fear! Originally, this chapter was two long for Quizilla and had to be broken into two parts. Now I am able to post it all together, as it was meant to be!


Quizilla Memo: Before we begin, a couple shout outs again to xXSeleneXx and agelofdarkness!

Thanks to to these people for messaging me or commenting on my journal: kitsune2000, Alillanta, Moldyspamsandwich, and anonymous029! I think that's everyone, but if I missed you I'm really sorry.


Yu Yu Hakusho is property of Yoshihiro Togashi, Shueisha, Studio Pierrot, Funimation, and several other people or companies that are not me.

Chapter 30
First Chapter | Previous Chapter

Botan and Keiko have ushered you to your room, away from everyone else. Mindlessly you sit down at your desk and stare out your window. The day is still young but you have no desire to do anything.

"The nerve of him!" Botan huffs, breaking the painful silence. "After all you've done for him! Why, I ought to smack him!"

"... It wouldn't do any good." You wipe at your damp eyes. "If anybody needs a good smacking, I do. For being so stupid."

"Chiyo..." Keiko sits near you. "You can't help how you feel."

"I should have known better-" You stop and correct yourself. "I did know better."

"It isn't like you did that to be malicious." Keiko frowns. "You were just being honest."

"Exactly!" Botan nods her head a bit too enthusiastically. "Besides, he's the one who said not to waste time on words! Actions speak louder than words!"

"Which makes it worse!" You laugh angrily at yourself. "Worse than if I'd just said that I..." Unable to give voice to the last words of your sentence, Keiko finishes it for you.

"Love him." She looks you square in the eye. You stare at her and feel fresh tears come to your eyes.

I cry too much. You chastise yourself. It feels as if all you've been doing the past two days is crying about one thing or another.

"I know," Keiko squeezes your hand, "what it's like. Things with Yusuke and me, they weren't always like how they are now. It isn't quite the same, but I understand how you're feeling."

You nod slightly and listen as she continues.

"It hurts and there isn't anything we can say to make you feel any better, but we're here for you. Honestly, I'm glad Yusuke stopped you from leaving."

"You two... don't think any less of me, for any of it, do you?" You whisper. "After all the times I've screwed up..."

"You haven't screwed up! And even if you have, certainly not as much as Yusuke!" Botan protests. "You've done the best you can and that's all anybody can ask for."

"We're your friends, we won't think any less of you for not being perfect. What's going on is hard on me. I can only imagine it's harder for you, with the burden of having to fight." Keiko looks at you with kind eyes. You manage to choke out a 'thank you' before bursting into tears, partly in relief from what they've said to you.


Botan and Keiko finally leave your room and you continue to sit by the window. There isn't much to do besides wait on Koenma's orders, so you don't know what to do with yourself in the mean time.

Damnit. You look around your room for something to keep your mind occupied, settling on practicing your calligraphy. It's mindless in some ways, yet requires your full attention. Over and over beautiful black brush strokes contrast against stark white paper, forming the Chinese character for 'permanence'. It's an exercise you've done many times to practice the eight most common brush strokes. You waste away the rest of the day until dinner time comes around.

When you step into the main room, the conversation stops. You...

Do nothing.
Scowl.
Wave hello.

Dinner is at best, awkward. None of the guys really know what to say to you, and you have little to contribute to any conversation.

"I take it Koenma hasn't called or anything yet, huh?" Yusuke asks you.

"No." You shake your head.

"Wish he would. I don't like hangin' here waitin' like this." Kuwabara complains.

"He has many more responsibilities now that his father is dead." Kurama frowns. "Evacuating Human World is a priority."

The conversation turns to insignificant, trivial topics and you tune it out. When you've finished eating you excuse yourself and slip outside. Knowing Hiei isn't around, you're free to reclaim your old spot in the pine trees. The last time you'd been up there was when you were on the brink of insanity.

That seems like ages ago now. Everything is happening so fast, it's hard to keep up with the rapid changes. Yasuyama's confession, his death, the Goddess merging, and now your stupid mistake. You let out a sigh. So now what?

You have no idea what you'll say to Hiei when, or if, he even comes back. You wouldn't be surprised if he went off without everyone else. His parting words come back to you, and you realize nothing you say will matter. It never did.

Staring absently up through the branches you wish you could muster some kind of loathing with which to curse the day you met Hiei. But you can't, this is a mess of your own making in the end. The fault falls on you alone.

"I thought you might be up here." You see Kurama down below. "Do all short people enjoy retreating to high places?" He smiles and teases you gently.

"Don't compare him and me." You snap.
"It makes us feel taller." You retort.
"It was my spot first." You sweatdrop.

"What are you going to do when he comes back?" Kurama leans against the tree trunk.

"When? I'm not even sure he will." You mutter.

"He will." Kurama sounds confident of this. Several moments of silence follow before you speak again, recalling the conversation you had with Kurama before about your feelings.

"I told you... he'd only hate me for it if he knew." You close your eyes.

"I don't believe he hates you."

"Oh?" You raise an eyebrow and look down at your companion.

"Something like this isn't worth the energy needed to hate a person. Not to him, anyway." Kurama shrugs.

"So I'm not even worth hating. I think I had that conversation with him already," you scowl slightly, "and having it with you doesn't make me feel any better, Kurama."

"Sorry." He looks up at you. "But it's the truth."

"No." You disagree. "I saw the way he looked at me."

"Hiei is... complicated." Kurama sighs.

"Who isn't?" You counter.

"Indeed." You can't read the meaning in his tone of voice.

"... Sometimes it pisses me off how collected you are. Mostly because I can't pull that off. Seems you can always see right through me and things I want to keep to myself end up surfacing."

"Heh, sorry. It takes practice." Kurama straightens. "I know it will be difficult, Chiyori, but we all must keep working together. I'm certain Hiei knows this as well. We are stronger together. Koenma can't afford for something like this to fracture us."

As you climb down out of the tree you wonder what Kurama is really thinking about and mumble a response...

"I know."
"Right, right."
"Whatever."

You go back inside your house and start to get ready for bed. It surprises you to find Keiko setting up her futon in your room.

"I thought you might like some company." She smiles. "If not, I'll move back into the room with Botan..."

You open your mouth to say 'no thank you' but then think better of it. Haven't you been working to change? You realize you shouldn't push her away.

"Sure, thanks." You smile weakly and unfold your futon to make your bed. When you're both done you turn out the light and sigh.

"... When did you realize, Chiyo? I thought there might have been something, back when he was sick. You were so worried and almost always with him." Keiko asks.

"It snuck up on me, I guess." You stare up at the dark ceiling. "I don't think... that I really started to realize it until the night we ambushed the sickness demon and I thought he was going to die. Even then... it took Kurama outright asking me." You force yourself to talk about it, instead of keeping everything inside.

"Kurama asked you?" Keiko sounds a bit surprised.

"Yeah." You recount the conversation to her. "And like I told him, it will fade. Just some stupid... chaos of the moment type of thing, or something."

"Maybe." You hear Keiko shift positions from her back to her side, facing you. "How did you meet Hiei in Demon World?"

"He assumed I was a lost human and gave me the first of many blows to the head." You sweatdrop. "Hardly a stellar first impression."

"Neither was mine, if I actually remembered it." Keiko laughs. "It was forever before I could get Yusuke to tell me what had really happened."

"I read that case file. Didn't Hiei take you hostage?" You ask.

"And tried to turn me into some low level monster!" Keiko laughs again.

"The fact you can laugh about it speaks volumes about your character." You give a wry grin that can't be seen in the darkness. "I don't think I'd be nearly so forgiving."

"It's all in the past." Keiko sighs. "Looking back, those years seemed so simple compared to now. I wish I could do something to help, like you, or even Botan. But I don't have any special powers."

"That's probably one of the things Yusuke likes about you." You tease her. "You're just human, no more, no less. What he needs from you, you don't need special powers to give."

And whatever the hell it is Hiei needs... I can't give him. You don't give voice to that thought.

"You're right." If there was light you'd probably see Keiko smiling and blushing. "We should try and get some sleep, though."

"I guess." You sigh and shut your eyes. "Keiko...?"

"Yes?"

"Thank you." You really mean it.

"Good night, Chiyo." You hear her blankets rustle again as she shifts positions.

"You too!"
"..."
"Good night."

Of course. You look out the kitchen window in the morning as you make breakfast. Clouds fill the sky, leaving the morning a depressing shade of gray. You woke up early and no one else is up and about yet. I wonder if the evacuation has gone all right. If there's no one here... damn, I might have to break into the grocery store or something. You sweatdrop at the notion and glance at your dwindling stock of food. It isn't stealing if I leave money, right?

Breakfast is ready and waiting when everyone is out of bed. They quickly settle at the table to eat.

"I hate waiting!" Yusuke grumbles. "And I'm insulted they don't think they need to be worrying about us!"

"We should try and appreciate the reprieve. Koenma's orders could come at any time." Kurama sighs.

"Well, shorty better stop sulkin' or whatever and be back here when we get 'em!" Kuwabara huffs. Everyone gets suddenly quiet at the mention of Hiei and looks at you.

"Er... um..." Kuwabara sweatdrops.

"There's this thing called delicacy, bro." Shizuru rolls her eyes.

"It's all right." You force a smile. "I mean, at least he didn't hit my head again."

You laugh, but everyone else is silent with uncertainty. If there were crickets around, they would be chirping right about now.

"... You're supposed to laugh." You look down at your food.

"Oh! Oohohoho!" Botan laughs awkwardly. "Yes, he has hit your head a lot, hasn't he?"

"Argh, that runt! Real men don't hit girls!" Kuwabara starts rambling. You say nothing and continue looking down.

"Chiyo-?" Keiko asks.

"... You guys don't have to try and tip toe around my feelings." You don't raise your gaze to look at any of them.

"Well, you seemed kind of... you know, upset yesterday." Yusuke mumbles. "So we, um..."

"Don't treat me differently because of it! That only makes it worse!" You raise your voice to them slightly as you slam your hands on the table.

"Chiyori, we don't mean to do so, but yesterday has created an awkward situation for us all." Kurama speaks. "It effects all of us."

"Yeah." You look away and finish eating quickly. "I'm going to go buy some groceries."

"Hey, could be dangerous. Want one of us to come with?" Yusuke offers.

You decline, saying...

"I can take care of myself!"
"... I'd like to be alone."
"I don't need a baby sitter."

The streets are eerily silent, as if they were waiting for something. Gray clouds loom threateningly above as you wander the slightly scrambled streets and try tugging on the door of a small market. You aren't surprised that it's locked and move on, not feeling like breaking in unless you have to. There must be something that got left unlocked in town.

You keep walking. A few low class demons cross your path, but fall easily to a few ofuda. You can only assume that the more powerful demons are waiting for to see what happens, or have picked sides to fight on and aren't interesting in causing havoc. It's difficult as you walk to keep track of the town now scrambled with demonic wilderness. You're careful to remember your steps.

There's commotion coming from an alley way. Worried that someone hasn't evacuated yet, you bolt down the dreary alley. You turn sharply around a corner with ofuda in hand and come to an abrupt halt at a pile of low level demon corpses. The last vermin standing collapses as Hiei pulls his blade out.

"Fools." He mutters, then notices you and snarls. "What?"

Surprise at seeing him, running into him like this, keeps you silent for a moment and you stare at his eyes.

"If you have any other confessions to make, I don't care to hear them, Detective." He shakes some blood off his sword.

"... My apologies." You speak with a cold formality. "I was not aware you were here. Excuse me." You bow stiffly, then turn on your heel and walk back down the alley. Once back on the sidewalk you break into a sprint to put distance between you and him.

When you slow down and finally come to a stop, you find a twenty-four hour mini-mart. A tug on the door reveals it's unlocked, so you let yourself in and get some bottled water.

Damnit. You think as you drink water and catch you breath. You didn't want to see him right now and certainly not out of the blue like that. I hate your eyes.

You start throwing things into some plastic bags and put a frozen meat bun in the microwave in the back room of the store. When that's done cooking you total up the cost and leave money on the counter.

Glancing up at the sky, which is still threatening rain, you start ambling back in the direction you came from. You hear a woman's scream from another direction and change course. People were supposed to evacuate!

You find some winged monstrosity swooping down at a woman clutching a baby.

"Hey!" You throw your meat bun at its head to get its attention. Your snack gets stuck on one of the horns protruding from its forehead. The woman scurries behind you as you pull out some ofuda.

"That's my lunch!" The low level demon bemoans.

"And that was mine." You gesture to your meat bun.
"You're point being what, exactly?" You roll your eyes.
"You need to be on a diet, anyway." You taunt the demon.

Angered by your lack of fear, the demon flies up high and then swoops down toward you. The woman shrieks and protectively covers her child. It's so easy to see it coming, you aren't worried. As soon as it's in range you throw an ofuda up in its face. The one charm is enough to vaporize it instantly.

"You should find an evacuation portal." You turn to the woman, who still clutches her baby protectively. "It isn't safe here."

"Th-thank you very much, Miss." She bows hastily and hurries off. You hope she'll be all right as you watch her go. When she's out of your sight you let out a sigh and start trying to retrace all your steps. You have to turn around a few times, but for the most part recall your way.

You pause in front of the alley way where you encountered Hiei. Everything is silent now, so you walk down and peer around the corner. The alley is utterly void of anything alive. The scent of blood lingers and brings unpleasant memories to your mind. You turn away, walking back out of the alley.

I wonder where he went? You shake your head at yourself. The answer doesn't matter. A few fat drops of rain start splashing down on the ground.

Of course it would rain. You think bitterly, stopping to lean against and wall and look up at the sky. Part of you wants to...

Cry.
Laugh.
Scream.

"Damnit." You turn your eyes to the ground. Why wouldn't it rain? Rain is just the perfect way to top everything off so far. Just fucking perfect. The skies let loose more rain and you watch the heavy splatters hit the ground. It doesn't matter to you that you're starting to get soaked. Your blouse and wet hair begins to cling to your skin. Rain takes the place of tears. How much time passes as you stand there in a silent reverie you aren't sure.

"Hey." Someone holds an umbrella over you, stopping the rain and startling you from your wandering thoughts.

"Kuwabara..." You look up at the tall young man.

"Keiko was startin' to worry about you. She an' Urameshi went one way and I thought I'd come this way." He shrugs. You feel a pang of guilt for making Keiko worry about you on top of her worrying over Yusuke.

"It's a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack, don't you think?" You sigh and look at the deserted streets.

"Nah, had a premonition." He stuffs his free hand in a pocket. The two of you start walking in silence back toward the shrine. It's some what awkward since you haven't really spent much time around Kuwabara.

"... Has he shown back up at the shrine?" You ask meekly.

"Wasn't there when we left. But that's typical of him." Kuwabara snorts. "Disappearin' on us an' stuff like that."

"Oh. I saw him in an alley earlier... fighting." You mumble.

"That's just how the little shrimp is. What more ya want?" Kuwabara laughs a bit uncomfortably. You stop walking abruptly.

"... I don't want anything from him. I never have. Other than maybe... just maybe he spare me his contempt." A frown spreads more strongly across your lips. "But that's just what I brought on."

"Well..." Kuwabara walks over to keep you covered under the umbrella, not that you care about being wet. He struggles to put his thoughts into words. "Hiei and me don't get along an' all, but he ain't a bad guy, really. He's just...uh, well. Hiei. He's..."

"Complicated, I know."
"A sociopathic midget."
"Just a little jackass."

You finish for Kuwabara. He makes a non-committal noise as you both start walking again. More silence hangs in the air around you until he speaks again.

"Hey, Fujiwara."

"Hm?" You glance up at him.

"... If that's how you really feel about 'im... I don't think you should give up."

"What?" You aren't quite sure what to make of Kuwabara's remark.

"Well, I mean..." He fumbles for words. "... I know Yukina doesn't understand the depths of my eternal and undying love for her, she don't feel the same way I do. But I'm not givin' up until she does." There's strong conviction in his eyes that surprises you. "So... I don't think you should give up either! A man's-er, or a woman's, gotta be true to their heart!"

"I'll keep that in mind." You sigh. "But the difference is there was nothing unclear about my feelings and that Yukina does like you."

"Um, yeah. I guess." He looks down.

"Hey." You change the subject. "I never properly got your first name. What was it again-?"

"Kazuma Kuwabara!" He answers pridefully and points at himself.

"May I call you by that?" You give a small smile.

"Huh? What? Oh! Uh... sure, Fujiwara!" He seems taken back by the request.

"Call me Chiyo."


You run into Yusuke and Keiko outside the shrine and they walk back with you and Kuwabara. It's a strange sight that greets your eyes when you enter your house.

Throughly bound in vines is a teenager with bleached hair, spiked out with gel. There's a bow and quiver of arrows on the table, while Kurama sits across the table from the youth, apparently waiting for your return. Shizuru and Botan sit at the table as well.

"Um..." You blink.

"Hey, hey!" The youth manages to hop over to the group and looks at Keiko. "If they," he nods his head in Botan and Shizuru's direction, "aren't Chiyori Fujiwara, you must be!"

"Excuse me?" Keiko exchanges a confused glance with you.

"Aren't you Chiyori Fujiwara?" He sounds absurdly energetic for somebody tied from head to toe in vines. You speak up.

"I'm Chiyori Fujiwara."
"No, dumbass, I am."
"That would be me."

"No way!" He stares down at you. He's about the same height as Yusuke, you think. "Emi said she was in her twenties. You look like you're fourteen!" His eyes are on your chest.

Your eyebrow twitches.

"Who is this punk, Kurama? I thought I was the only one who made fun of Fujiwara's boobs." Yusuke laughs. While you agree with the assessment of this kid being a punk, you don't object to Keiko hitting Yusuke.

"He says he's a relative of yours." Kurama ignores Yusuke and directs his answer to you.

"Showed up a little after they went out looking for you." Shizuru rolls her eyes. "And hasn't shut up since."

You look at the blond youth more closely. He doesn't look like anyone you know and you can't help but feel suspicious after what you went through with Yasuyama.

"First, I need dry clothes." You step past the youth, who falls over at your disinterest in him.

"Hey! I came a long way! You should offer me some tea or something!" He protests.

You don't respond and disappear into your room to change. When you come back out everyone is seated around the table and someone has set the newcomer back up right.

"So." You sit down across from him, appreciating the distraction now. "What's your name?"

"Utarou Yuminaga! We're like, first cousins once removed, or was it second cousins?" He frowns with intense thought. Probably a difficult feat for him to try and sort out confusing blood relations.

"Really now?" You lean on an elbow. The family name sounds familiar.

"Really! I came here all the way from Hokkaido! Your grandmother was my great aunt!"

"Yuminaga..." You muse. "One moment."

You leave the room and go down the hall to the room you and your grandfather used for storage. You dig through dusty old family files and return with a worn passport from the United States. It was your maternal grandmother's and it shows her maiden name as Yuminaga.

"All right." You toss the old passport on the table when you come back in. "I believe you when you say we're related. Second cousins."

"Then can I be untied?" Utarou sweatdrops.

"I think you need to answer some questions first." Kurama cuts in.

"I already told you, pretty boy, and you wouldn't believe me!"

"Well now you get to tell the rest of us." Yusuke smirks. You rub your temples and sigh. While the distraction is nice, you wonder how much more complicated this will make things, along with a number of questions for Utarou.

"Why are you here?" You ask.

"I came to help. Emi asked me to." He shrugs.

"And Emi is-?" You prompt him.

"A second cousin, too, or whatever. She can like, see the future and stuff, but her uncle doesn't really let her around many people. She's only fifteen, but she's really good at predicting the future." Utarou explains.

You mean like a premonition?" Kuwabara asks, interested in this bit of information.

"No, a premonition is more like a message of something that will happen, without doubt if action isn't taken. Divining the future is something different." Kurama interjects. "Is that what Emi does?"

"Divine? Yeah, I think that's what she calls it." Utarou shrugs. "I don't get to see her much, I don't live at the main house. But she got a letter out to me. She said she saw all this stuff about Chiyori Fujiwara and demons and goddesses."

All of you exchange looks, but say nothing and let him continue.

"She was super worried and wanted to help. But her uncle practically never lets her out of his sight. So she asked me to come; was really insistent about it. That my bein' there could be the difference between life and death."

"Right... and why you?" Yusuke quirks an eyebrow.

"... Nobody'd really care if I disappeared." Utarou answers quietly. "Might even be glad of it. Call me the black sheep of the family, if ya want."

"You're a juvenile delinquent! I can relate!" Yusuke laughs.

"I'm not a delinquent! I came here to help you guys! No way I could say no to Emi. I even left my cat and she's gonna have kittens soon! Without me there my bitch step mom might have thrown her out on the street!"

"Who could throw a helpless kitty cat out on the street at a time like this!?" Kuwabara's outburst surprises you.

"I know, man! It's still super cold up north!" Utarou looks at Kuwabara. "Ushi is the cutest thing ever, next to Emi!"

You and the others can only sweatdrop as the conversation between the two about cats continues. You find yourself thinking...

I can not possibly be related to this guy.
Didn't know Kazuma felt that strongly about cats.
Sounds like he's got a crush on that Emi girl.

The obnoxious ring of your cellphone interrupts everything. The caller ID reveals it's from Spirit World. You hush Utarou and Kuwabara before answering.

"Hello?"

"Oh hello, Miss Fujiwara! It's been such a long time!" It's George. You hate getting calls from George, he always likes to talk. "How have you been?"

"Miserable, now let's cut to the point and tell me that you have orders from Koenma." You don't waste time.

"Yes, of course! He wants you all to meet up with Koko's forces at Master Genkai's compound. We're working on opening a gateway there to Spirit World, large enough for everyone."

"Anything else?" You ask.

"Nope. So why are you feeling so bad-"

"Thanks." You shut your phone and cut George's attempt at chitchat off. Then you relay Koenma's orders to the others.

"Well now we just need to find Hiei-" Botan clamps a hand over her mouth and glances at you. You're silent for a moment, having been briefly able to forget about that little mess you made.

"... Yeah." You answer quietly.

"Do we have those Spirit Detective tools?" Kurama inquires.

"Um, hey." Utarou tries to cut in.

They were issued to Chiyori." Botan looks at you.

"Hey guys?"

"I never used them, they're in my closet." You rise to get them.

"Can I be untied now!?" Utarou shouts to get everyone's attention.

"Er, sure, I guess so." Yusuke shrugs. Kurama's vines release the hold they have on your cousin. You fetch the case of Spirit Detective tools. Botan takes the case, opens it, and pulls out a whistle.

"Uh, you sure you wanna use that?" Kuwabara sweatdrops. "What if it gets the attention of every demon in the city?"

"They'll know it's an obnoxious noise, but only Hiei will remember we've used it to get his attention before." Botan laughs and brings the whistle to her lips. Kurama braces and covers his ears.

"Hey, isn't that the whistle that makes some sound only demons can he-ACK!" Yusuke falls over when Botan blows the whistle. You hear nothing, but Kurama grimaces. Yusuke is flat on the floor.

You spot a silhouette fall from the roof, through the movable paper and wood frame walls. Then one flies open when Botan is done.

"Why don't you just shout next time, fool!? Your voice is just as shrill!" Hiei snarls at Botan.

"My voice is not shrill!" Botan looks indignant.

"Hey, can I try?" Utarou asks, taking the whistle from Botan and giving it a hard blow before anyone can stop him. Yusuke, Kurama, and Hiei all hit the floor.

"That's pretty cool!" Utarou examines the whistle, until Yusuke hits his head and takes it. "Ow!"

"Wanna be tied up again, kid?"

"And what new kind of idiot is he?" Hiei glowers at Utarou.

"He's Chiyori's second cousin." Shizuru seems mildly amused.

"That would explain it." Hiei doesn't even glance at you.

"What's that supposed to mean!?" Utarou shouts. You remain silent and are grateful when Keiko brings the conversation back to dealing with Utarou.

"You said you came to help, right?" She asks him.

"Huh? Oh, yeah." Utarou settles down.

"Can you fight?" Kurama seems relieved that things didn't escalate due to Hiei's remark.

"Wanna see?" Utarou picks his bow and arrows up off the table.

"All right." Yusuke grins. "What do you think you can do with that toy?"

Everyone relocates outside, the rain having stopped for now.

"Pick a target. Anything." Utarou shrugs and you think he sounds over confident. "There's nothing I can't hit."

"Hn." Hiei steps forward.

"You sure, short stuff? I don't have any practice arrows on me." The blond youth smirks.

"What arrow you use won't make a difference." Hiei snorts.

You watch the two of them walk out into the spacious courtyard. You think...

He's going to make a fool out of himself.
It'd serve Hiei right if he gets hit.
There's no way he's going to hit Hiei.

Utarou strings an arrow and readies his bow. His expression suddenly turns intense. Hiei vanishes from your sight and you assume he's moving. Utarou doesn't seem fazed though and you watch curiously with the others.

Utarou's eyes seem to be following unseen movement, more than the occasional black blur you manage to glimpse. He suddenly changes his aim and lets his arrow fly.

Hiei comes to a stop, holding the arrow an inch from his face.

"Not bad, for a human." He snaps the wooden shaft in two.

"Whoa." Kuwabara rubs his eyes.

"Must be gettin' slow, Hiei!" Yusuke taunts his friend. The short demon tosses the broken arrow aside and says nothing.

"So do I pass?" Utarou looks at you expectantly.

"Might as well." You sigh. "If I said no, you'd just follow us anyway, right?"

"Damn right!" He grins. "Now what?"

"Now we gotta get to Genkai's." Kuwabara crosses his arms in thought.

"The trains aren't running, though." Keiko frowns.

"We could walk, but that would take too much time, I fear." Kurama muses.

"Well, Keiko can ride on my bike with me." Yusuke shrugs and stuff his hands in his pockets.

"I can fly ahead on my oar." Botan produces said oar.

"I'll get there myself." Hiei is gone the instant he finishes his sentence.

"Doesn't that car parked on the street belong to one of you?" Utarou asks.

"Car? Oh..." You look down. Yasuyama's car has been sitting on the street outside the shrine. "That doesn't belong to anyone, now."

"Then let's take it!" Utarou holds up a fist triumphantly.

"What?" You blink at him.

"I can hot wire it. Come on, you want to get to this Genkai's place, right? And the sooner the better!" He seems to like the idea.

"... Wow, you really are a delinquent." Kuwabara sweatdrops. "Even Urameshi an' me didn't steal cars."

"Hey!" Utarou sounds offended.

"Got a better idea, bro?" Shizuru asks. "Or do you really wanna walk? I know I sure as hell don't."

"Time is important. Let's get some things gathered and set out immediately." Kurama takes charge of the situation, much to your relief. After some more discussion, Botan takes off on her oar and the rest of you pack things that might be needed. You grab most of your calligraphy supplies for making ofuda and a change of clothes. You also retrieve your hagoromo from your room. You hadn't had a chance to hide it in the shrine after you removed it yesterday. You muse about Utarou and think he is...

Annoying.
Not so bad.
Weird.

Yusuke leaves with Keiko while Utarou breaks into Yasuyama's car. He fiddles around with some wires and in a few minutes the engine grumbles to life.

"All right!" Utarou cheers, slipping his head and arms out from under the steering column.

"I'll drive." Kurama states.

"Aw, whatever, man." Utarou shrugs and moves out of the way to let Kurama take the driver's seat. Kuwabara tosses things into the trunk and takes the passenger seat, leaving you sandwiched in the backseat between Shizuru and Utarou.

"We're on some epic, save the world quest, right?" Utarou asks you once the car is moving.

"You could say that." You roll your eyes. He makes it sound so simple, talking about it like that.

"Awesome." He grins like an idiot.

"No, it isn't." You snap at him.

"... Sorry." He mumbles an apology. You decide to keep to yourself and let Kurama and Kuwabara start filling the youngster in on the details of the situation.

Eventually you're forced to tune Utarou out since he seems to have no intention of shutting up. At least someone is enthusiastic. You close your eyes and let your mind wander over recent events. Maybe I don't belong here?

You fall into a light slumber and when you wake, both Kuwabara and Utarou are snoring.

"Yeah, I don't see how they can sleep through themselves, either." Shizuru says when she notices you're awake.

"Mm." You rub your eyes, then look at your watch. It's only been an hour since you left the shrine. Kurama glances at you in the rear view mirror. Shizuru's attempt at conversation dies. You don't feel much like taking and it seems those awake aren't quite sure what to say to you anyway.

I don't want to be here. Again you wish you'd been able to ascend without interference. Then you wouldn't be facing all this awkwardness or heartache. It doesn't feel like anything will ever be the same after yesterday, though you let your mind wander back over Kuwabara's words to you earlier today.

"... If that's how you really feel about 'im... I don't think you should give up."

"You seem lost in thought." Shizuru notes, bringing you from your thoughts.

"Huh? Oh... yeah." You mumble. I did bring my hagoromo, so maybe... I could try again? You fail to keep the conversation going and fall back inside yourself, mulling over yesterday. You wonder what exactly Hiei and Kurama were discussing when you came out to apologize and decide to ask.

"Hey." You catch Kurama's green eyes in the rear view mirror.

"Yes?"

"... Yesterday. After that. What were you two talking about? I heard a little bit, but..." You shrug, unsure now that you've brought it up, if you really do want to know. Kurama's eyes shift back from the mirror to the road.

"You." He answers.

"I knew that already from what I heard." You sigh.

"If you really want to know, I think you should ask Hiei."

You don't respond and look down.

"These guys always make life more complicated." Shizuru says as she stares out the window. "It's best not to dwell on it."

Utarou's head flops on your shoulder. You...

Elbow him.
Hit is head.
Poke him.

"Wha-?" Utarou yawns. "Are we there yet?"

"No." Shizuru rolls her eyes in his direction.

"Hey, Kurama." You take the opportunity to change topics. "Why don't you have a girlfriend, anyway? I understand you could have had your pick back at Meiou."

"Huh?" Utarou blinks. "Oh man, you're one of those kinda guys? I hate guys like you at my school!"

"Sorry." Kurama chuckles at your cousin.

"Well?" You press a bit when he doesn't answer, realizing you hardly know anything about him personally, yet he knows so much about you.

"No longer being entirely human yourself anymore, I'm sure you can appreciate my situation." Kurama replies.

"You aren't human!?" Utarou turns his head to gape at you. "But aren't we related? Crap, does that mean I'm not human!?"

"Hey, tryin' to sleep." Kuwabara grumbles from up front.

"I was born human." You sweatdrop at Utarou.

"But-"

"Yes, we are related. I'm not human really anymore because of some tennyo gene, and you are human as far as I know because tennyo are only female." You explain before he can ask about the why and how.

"... Okay. Cool, I guess." Utarou stares blankly at you.

Things grow quiet again, and its moments before you suddenly realize Kurama had actually dodged answering you, leaving what he meant to speculation.

"So guys, I never got proper introductions." Utarou mentions off hand. You name the people present in the car for him, then close your eyes to try and get some more sleep. You can hear Kuwabara yawn and stretch.

"We there yet?" He asks.

"Does it look like we are?" Shizuru kicks the back of Kuwabara's seat, causing him to grumble.

"Utarou, how did you become so skilled with a bow? Yours is no ordinary talent." It sounds like Kurama is digging for information.

"Archery is a big thing for the family. Always has been." You can feel him shrug, since your crammed together in the back seat. "I thought... maybe if I became the best... that maybe my old man might remember me."

You open your eyes to look at Utarou. Briefly he looks sad but pulls himself from it almost immediately.

"But that bitch wife of his, he'll do whatever to keep her from naggin' and shit. It's all about her son. I hate step mothers." Utarou groans.

"That sucks." Kuwabara peers around his seat, then speaks to Kurama. "You got a step parent. But it ain't bad for you, huh?"

"He's a good man; my mother is very happy." Kurama answers.

"Huh? But I thought you were a demon?" Utarou frowns with thought.

"I am, but I inhabit this human body." Kurama explains with slight amusement.

"Augh! What is with you people!?" Utarou slumps.

"We aren't normal. But isn't that why you came here?" Shizuru laughs at him. "I'm sure you'll get used to it, kid."

"Geeze..." Utarou shakes his head. The conversation carries on about rather trivial things and by the time Kuwabara and Utarou begin discussing kittens you manage to doze off. You have strange dreams about...

Armies of kittens.
Giant bugs.
The Yuminaga clan.

"Yo, cuz." Utarou elbows you awake. "Wake up."

"Hm?" You open your eyes.

"We'll need to walk the rest of the way." Kurama turns the car off by disconnecting the wires Utarou had put together. "There are no roads."

"Right." You rub your eyes. Yusuke has parked his motorcycle and waits with Keiko for your group. The five of you climb out and get your things, ready to begin the hike up to Genkai's compound.

Various encampments of demons are scattered about the landscape. It looks more like a refugee camp than a military camp. Some demons gather to observe the group. Word must be spreading and the audience grows as you proceed. Soon there's a commotion and sounds of protest as a group forces there way through to the front.

You turn your head in that direction. A handful of cat people have pushed to the front. Two faces bring you to a dead stop, until you sprint toward them.

"Long time, no see!"

"K-Kane! Kanona!" You're barely able to squeak their names out as you rush toward them.

"Ya sound so surprised to see us." The fiery haired Kanona grins. "Think I'm a lil' hurt."

"But you- We saw the fire!" You can't form a complete sentence as you stare at their faces. Kanona seems weary, Kane bears s scar over his eye.

"Yep. Burned to th' ground to cover yer trail an' our retreat." Kane shrugs. "Did it ourselves."

"I thought you were dead!" You feel tears threatening to spill, but for the first time in a long time it's because you're happy.

"We almost were." One of their companions speaks up. He has Kane's stature and coloring, but his skin is darker like Kanona's. It startles you when you realize he's missing an arm.

"This is what we lost everythin' for?" He looks down at you, bitterness blazing in his eyes. "Wasn't she th' one who was supposed to keep it from goin' this far?"

"Takeru!" Kane snaps. "Kin took 'er as a sister, so she's family an' you'll treat 'er as such!"

This Takeru fellow curls his lips into a snarl but doesn't argue. Instead he turns, giving you a cold look over his shoulder as he leaves.

Kanona glances at you and Kane before going after Takeru.

"Would it be safe to assume he lost his arm in the battle?" Kurama and the others have joined you.

"Yeah." Kane glances down. You lower your eyes as well.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't mind 'im." Kane grumbles. "He's my kit, but he don't know his place an' oversteps his bounds all th' time."

"Didn't know you had a son. He wasn't with you when we met, was he?" Yusuke asks, filling the pause between you and Kane.

"Lives wit' his mate's tribe." Kane shrugs. "... Kanona's strong, but he's 'er weakness. Takeru's 'er only kit to survive. Rest of th' litter didn't make it, an' she barely did 'erself. She dotes on 'im 'cause she can't have any more kits."

"I'm sorry." You say again.

"Nah, don't worry 'bout it." Kane half smiles. "He's just young an' stupid."

"I know this is a touching reunion and all, but Genkai is waiting for us." Shizuru reminds everyone.

"Right." You nod. "I'm really glad to see you. Please take care." You wipe your tear brimmed eyes.

"Same to you. Now get goin'." Kane smirks. "We can catch up later."

"Sounds good." You give a faint smile. The group moves on and you dry your eyes some more.

"Friends?" Keiko falls in step behind you.

"Yes." You nod.

"So, uh, who were they, exactly?" Utarou is walking behind you.

"We met them in Demon World." Kurama answers for you. "A rather long story we don't have time to indulge in, I"m afraid."

"Good to see familiar faces though. I wonder if Jin and Toya and all of them are here, too?" Yusuke muses.

After climbing several stairs the front gate comes into view. Both Botan and Hiei are waiting outside of it. No words are exchanged as the group opens the gate and enters the courtyard. The first thing to greet everyone is a crooning blue phoenix, obscuring the view of anything else.

"Hey, Puu!" Yusuke pats the bird.

"Um, friend of yours?" You sweatdrop at Yusuke.

"It's Puu, Yusuke's spirit beast." Keiko pets Puu as well.

"Yeah, but Puu used to be this little fat penguin thing." Kuwabara laughs. "With Urameshi's hair!"

"You exchanges looks with Utarou, the only other person unfamiliar with the spirit beast and try to imagine what it used to look like as a fat blue penguin thing.

"Are you all just going to stand their dawdling?" A worn voice snaps from beyond Puu.

"Master Genkai!" Botan waves as Puu moves out of the way. You look over the old woman. She's quite small and quite old, but the way she holds herself reveals the strength of her character. You remember your grandfather and know you'll always miss him.

"Yo, Grandma." Yusuke smirks.

"Hmph. Maybe I'll have peace in the afterlife." She smirks and leads everyone inside. The table is crowded with people, including Yusuke's demon friends, a woman you know of as Enki's wife, Koko, along with Yukina, Shura, Rui, Fubuki, and a few others you don't know. Some are human, but most aren't.

"Urameshi!"

"Let's 'ave a drink together!"

"It's been awhile, Yusuke!"

"How ye be, lad?" They clamor around him excitedly. It's a bit overwhelming and you feel exceptionally out of place.

"Hey, guys! I knew you were all okay!" Yusuke exchanges greetings with them.

"It's good to see you, Miss Chiyori." Yukina draws your attention. Beside her you notice Rui has fallen silent, staring. You follow her gaze to Hiei, who seems surprised to see her, but masks it quickly. He says nothing while more greetings are exchanged, along with proper introductions. You meet Natsume and Kujo, who were friends of Raizen, along with Kuroko Satou, the first Spirit Detective, and Yuu Kaitou, Mitsunari Yanagisawa, and Asato Kido whose names you recognize from the Sensui case files.

"Chiyori Fujiwara? You went to Meiou, correct?" Kaitou pushes his glasses back up.

"Yes." You glance at him, not caring for his tone.

"Interesting." He looks you over. "I heard from classmates you were rather unduly stuck up even for a shrine maiden, especially being half."

"Quarter." You growl because that's just the kind of attitude your mother faced and why she worked so hard to make sure you were a 'Japanese girl.' "My mother was half Japanese, my father was full Japanese."

"Hm. My apologies." He doesn't sound very sincere. You narrow your eyes at him, thinking back over your high school years. Your mother was dying and you didn't associate that much with any classmates. Apparently it must have been taken as looking down on them.

"So this is your replacement?" Kuroko cuts into the tension. Her long hair is pulled into a low ponytail and it's hard to gauge her age based on appearance alone. Being already irritated, you answers before Yusuke can speak.

"You make it sound like I was being settled for."
"Replacement? I think that's a little demeaning."
"I have merit, I'm not just some stand in."

"Sorry." She raises an eyebrow at your reaction.

"If everyone's done chitchatting," Genkai clears her throat, "can we get down to business?"

"Yes, let us." Kurama nods. Everyone settles down around the table and listens to the elderly woman.

"As most of you already know, Koenma's people are working to open a massive portal to Spirit World for us. They're opening it from their side to try and conceal it from the enemy. They don't want to make it easy for them to reach Spirit World, but I don't doubt the enemy knows what we're planning. I'm expecting an attack when it opens, which is two days from now. I want everyone to have their people ready to go, and patrols in the meantime around the perimeter for any prying eyes. Got it?" She doesn't mince words.

A chorus of confirmations fill the room and people begin to trickle out. Everyone you're familiar with, except Utarou, disappears with other friends or acquaintances to catch up, leaving you alone in the company of Master Genkai and Kuroku Satou. The silence is awkward and Utarou looks to you for some kind of lead.

"... Is there some place we can put our things and rest?" You ask.

"We're rather packed, so take whatever you can find." Genkai shrugs. You don't like the way she studies you and rise swiftly with your things. It's like she's seeing right to your core.

"Right, thank you. Utarou, are you coming?" You glance at the spiky haired youth.

"Um... Yeah. Definitely." He scrambles to his feet and follows you outside. You start making your way back down the mountain.

"Where are we goin', cuz?"

"To see Kane and Kanona, I'm sure they'll have some room." You glance back at Utarou. You don't mind at this point if it's camping with them or even just sleeping on the bare ground.

"What about the others? Shouldn't we tell them?" Utarou picks up his pace to walk beside you. You don't answer him.

"Cuz?"

"They obviously didn't feel the need to extend us that courtesy, so I don't see why we should." There's a hint of ice in your voice.

"Aw, come on, Chi. Let's-"

"Don't call me that." You snap at the bleach blond.

"It's so cute though!" He grins like an idiot, unaffected by your foul mood.

"Utarou..." You feel a vein throb.

"But seriously, cuz." His expression changes instantly.

"If you want to find any of them and let them know where we're staying, then go ahead and do it yourself. Or better yet, just go and leave me alone." Your patience is utterly gone.

"Whoa, chill out, cuz." Utarou holds up his hands.

"Chill out? You have no idea what any of this is about. If you did, you wouldn't be so damned cheerful about things! Why are you even here, anyway? What difference do you think you can make? Can any of us make, even!? Stop following me like a stray dog and calling me 'cuz' like we're suddenly close family, because we aren't! I don't even know you!" You yell at him.

"Well, you could try! But fine! I didn't think you'd turn out to be such a bitchy chick, cuz. I'll catch up with you later. Maybe."

You don't make a retort and keep walking. You hear Utarou's footsteps going the other way and let out a sigh once they're gone, focusing on locating where Kane and Kanona are camped out.

It takes some time to find his people, let alone his specific tribe and clan. But you find them just in time to join them for dinner in their tent. The two seem happy to see you, despite their son's earlier outburst.

"Ain't got much, but have as much as ya like." Kane ushers you inside. Kanona find a spare bowl in her pack for you. She isn't treating you any differently because of her son and you're grateful for that. You also...

Are glad Takeru's not around.
Wonder where Takeru is.
Don't care for Takeru at all.

"So where's yer pals?" Kanona fills your bowl with a thin stew.

"... I don't know." You look down. The two cats give you confused looks, but don't press you for details and switch subjects.

"Sorry we had ya worried 'bout us." Kane pats your shoulder.

"It's all right. I'm just happy your alive and that I can see you again." You smile slightly, but with a hint of sadness in Kin's memory. You won't ever have a chance to see her again.

"Been fightin' hard?" Kanona asks, keeping the conversation going.

"I've done what I can..." You look down at your dinner. It isn't as much as you'd like, no matter what anyone says.

"All anybody can do." Kane shrugs. "Say, somethin' 'bout yer scent seems a bit different."

"Huh?" You blink.

"Thought it was just a fluke when I saw ya earlier, but now..." He sniffs the air.

"I noticed it, too." Kanona sniffs at you. "Somethin'... not human?"

"Oh." You sweatdrop. "It, um, recently came about. I'm descended from tennyo."

"That ain't somethin' that just recently comes 'bout!" Kane stares at you.

"No, no, it is. Let me explain..." You laugh a little and spend the rest of dinner telling them about tennyo bloodlines and your less than complete and hardly normal transformation.

It seemed a lot more... whole, or something, last time. Maybe I'm close? You muse after dinner while chatting with the couple. Their humor is almost infectious and being around them is a relaxing distraction that helps with your previously foul mood. You find yourself feeling bad for lashing out at Utarou.

"Shouldn't ya get back soon? Yer stayin' at Genkai's wit' all th' other important people, right?" Kane asks after several more hours of conversation have carried you further into the night.

"... Would it... would it be all right if stayed here tonight?" You ask awkwardly.

"Seein' how yer family an' all, don't see why not." Kanona tips her head curiously. "But this ain't where ya belong, is it?"

"No, I suppose not." You rise slowly to your feet with your things. "Sorry to trouble you."

"Chiyo-"

You leave before they can say anything, wandering aimlessly through the encampments. You wonder if Utarou mentioned where you'd be to the others, but aren't surprised he didn't rejoin you. Not after that outburst you had. It wasn't really him you were mad at, he was just the one there at the wrong time.

I should apologize... None of this his fault. It's me... With a sigh you start back up the mountain steps, surrounding by the forest. You'll have to find Utarou tonight or in the morning and apologize to him. I'm the one causing problems for everyone, even for Kane and Kanona with their son.

Too late do you realize you aren't alone. Someone wrenches your arm behind you and pins you face first against a tree. Your things fall to the ground and the rough bark scratches your face. The urge to produce a telekinetic shock wave is killed by the tightness of the grip on you. Your assailant would probably take your arm with them.

"Pathetic. We went through all that to protect somebody this weak?"

"Takeru..." You turn your head enough to see his dark form from the corner of your eye. The pressure on your wrist is painful and brings unpleasant memories to mind, making it harder to keep yourself from sending him flying back along with your arm.

"Well then, I'd like to see you seal a goddess." You hiss through gritted teeth as you slip an ofuda out of your pocket with your freehand. A quick flick of your free wrist and you're able to tag his side. It burns into him and he yowls, releasing you. You whirl around to face him.

Fangs flash in the moonlight and sink into your shoulder. You let out a small scream of pain and hurl him back into a tree on telekinetic reflex. He's Kanona's only kit, so you don't want to fight him. You'll have to find a peaceful way to resolve this.

"Personally, I don't like the taste of human flesh." Takeru spits out your blood.

"I've never tried it." You retort, holding some more ofuda defensively. "Now listen, we have a common enemy, so we shouldn't be fighting each other."

Running away is an option, but you...

Don't like running from fights.
Don't think he'll let you get away.
Want to try and reason with him.

"What use is a weak lil' girl?" He springs at you, claws first. They tear part of your shirt and barely graze your skin as you retreat backward.

"That isn't the point, Takeru-"

"Ya didn't make a difference then, ya ain't gonna now!"

Before he can attack again you unleash another telekinetic shock wave, forcing him back from you. He isn't going to listen to anything that I say. But Kanona... he's her only son. If I can get away and make it back to them...

The two of you stare at and circle one another. You're starting to think your best bet will be to get to Kane and Kanona's. Confronted by them, you're certain he'll back down. However, it's getting there that's the problem.

Breaking the stare done, you make a move, flinging three ofuda from your back pocket, aiming for his face. Your true intent is distraction and it seems to work. It buys you enough time to scurry up into one of the large pines.

"Think I can't reach ya up there?" He growls, glancing at his one arm before sinking his claws into the tree trunk, working hard with the claws on his feet to start working his way up."

"Well, I was hoping." You mumble, climbing higher into the branches. Down below you hear him slip and growl. It was a vague hope, but you weren't counting on it to give you the head start you'll need to escape him.

"Kitty can't get up this high?" You taunt to lure him further up. Quietly you stick an ofuda to another branch. Once he gets close enough to it, it should explode in response to his demon energy like a mine. It isn't lethal, but it will do what you need it to do.

"A fall from 'ere will break yer scrawny neck." He stands with excellent balance on the sturdy branch you've allowed yourself to be cornered on. If he thinks your trapped, he'll be less cautious. You move further out on it,knowing he'll follow and that it will be more difficult for him with his heavier weight and larger body.

"Oh, really?" You smirk, causing a brief look of confusion to pass over his face as he approaches and you brace to push off the branch. In the same instant as the explosion from the ofuda, you push off the branch and slow your descent enough to hit the ground running while Takeru is caught up in the blast. The landing should be hard on him too, so you hope with this head start you can lose him and get back to Kane and Kanona's.

The footing is poor, though you go as fast as the steep terrain allows. Roots and dead fall litter your way. Then you remember you don't have to run. If you get your bracelet off, you can fly. You fumble for it as you run, not wanting to stop and risk Takeru catching up to you. His growling is getting closer and a swishing sound follows. Before you can get Fujihime's seal off, something ensnares you. Losing balance, you tumble down the steep hillside.

You come to an abrupt halt, slamming against something hard. All awareness leaves you for a moment as you stare up through the trees in a daze. The forest seems so quiet, then you snap back to alertness, pressed against an old fallen tree. A bola is tangled around your legs, preventing you from getting to your feet and bolting again. If you're injured, you aren't registering it. You shift so your shoulder isn't pinned between your body and the dead tree, making another reach to remove your bracelet.

Before you can, Takeru is on you, hefting you by an arm like a rag doll. If it wasn't you in this situation, you might have been impressed by how easily you manages with his one arm. With said arm occupied holding you though, he relies on his legs to to hit you, slamming his knee into your gut, then throwing you to the ground. Any notion of trying not to hurt him for Kanona's sake has left your mind now. That kind of handicap is only going to get you killed, if your fate isn't sealed already.

You start to push yourself out of the dirt, but collapse, one arm unable to support the weight. You feel his hand curl into your hair and he pulls you painfully to your knees.

"Yer dead, like ya should be." He hisses in your ear while you reach to get one of the last ofuda you have out of your pocket.

"Killing me won't change what happened to you." You growl and reach back with your good arm, slapping the ofuda to his leg. It's a more powerful charm and he releases you, sinking to a knee from the fresh new wound.

"Stubborn lil rat." Takeru snarls, throwing all his weight down against you as you try to get up. You cry out, shoving him off telekinetically. He struggles to his feet, favoring his injured leg.

My bracelet.You try to move your arm to remove the seal, but an intense pain shoots up and down your arm as you do so. You let that arm go limp, while each heavy breath you draw brings agony to your chest.

An arrow embeds itself in the short distance between you and your assailant.

"That's just a warning shot. The next one won't miss!" Utarou calls from a small ways up the hill, drawing your attention as well as Takeru's. Beside Utarou, Kuwabara's and his Spirit Sword cast some light in the night.

"Don't you know real men don't hit girls!?" Kuwabara yells. A mixture of surprise and relief washes over you as Takeru backs down.

"Filthy humans." Takeru snarls and limps away. Seems he's smart enough to see the odds have turned against him.

"Hey, I'll have you know that I bathe regularly, stupid monster cat!" Kuwabara shakes a fist. He and Utarou lower their weapons and rush to you once they're certain Takeru is gone.

"Cuz!"

"How'd you find me?" You chuckle at the dumb luck of it all but wince from the pain.

"Now I'm really kickin' myself for leaving you alone." Utarou grumbles. "Even if you were being a bitch."

"... Watching out for me isn't your responsibility." You look down while he uses a pocket knife to cut your still tangled legs free.

"Yes it is." He mutters. "Emi knew. She knew if I wasn't here you were gonna get killed. I almost let her down."

"What?" You blink and wonder why your death would matter so much.

"She couldn't see anyway for the world to be saved if you weren't around, cuz. She didn't really explain it to me, but she sounded really adamant about it in her letter. Argh, I should have stuck with you." Utarou berates himself.

"He came an' talked to me about it. He was pretty freaked out that you'd be dead and then we found yer stuff. I had a premonition then, and I guess it got us here just in time." Kuwabara shrugs and you realize he has your bag.

"... Thank you, both." You look at Utarou. "I'm sorry for yelling at you, Utarou. Why didn't you say something about Emi's death prediction?"

"Ain't good to know too much about the future! Emi says that, and she'd know." Utarou shrugs and offers you a hand up. You accept with you uninjured arm, but stumble as you rise.

"Chiyo, you okay?" Kuwabara looks worried.

"My leg, and I think I bruised my ribs, but I'm not sure." You try to step forward, but one of your ankles won't support your weight. Utarou tries to catch you by your injured arm. You cry out in pain and he immediately lets go. Shakily you rise to your feet once more, careful not to place too much weight on your right ankle.

"Do you really think you can walk back up the mountain?" Utarou asks.

"Y-yeah. Just let me lean on you." You grumble. The adrenaline is leaving you now, making your pain rather painfully obvious.

"No way, we can't let you walk like this!" Kuwabara protests, handing off your things to Utarou. "I'll carry you back."

"I can walk..." You mumble, pride slightly injured along with your body.

"Nuh-uh!" He shakes his head. "That goes against my honor code. A guy's always gotta help a lady in trouble!"

"I said I can walk-"

"I get ya don't want anybody thinkin' you're weak, cuz, but sometimes it takes more strength to accept help than to do without." It's probably the most profound thing Utarou has ever uttered. You finally relent.

"Okay, fine."
"If you insist."
"You're right."

You let Kuwabara pick you up, grimacing at the pain of changing positions.

"Hey, you're lighter than I thought you'd be." Kuwabara laughs.

"... Um, thanks. I think." You sweatdrop as they escort you back to Genkai's temple.

"That was the one armed cat guy from earlier today, right?" Utarou inquires.

"Takeru. He's Kanona's only child, so I didn't want to hurt him..." You shut your eyes. "Obviously one of my many mistakes the past few days."

"No reasonin' with some guys." Kuwabara huffs. "But we all make mistakes."

"... Yeah." You sigh.

Your arrival is met with surprise and concern by some, however Kuwabara and Utarou are left to do most of the explaining. You're immediately placed in Yukina and Rui's care. The two woman work together to heal most of your injuries while you briefly explain to them how you obtained said injuries. They do a good job, and you feel almost as good as new physically.

It startles you when Kurama comes into the room.

"Chiyori, I'm sorry. We were rather caught up in our own things and I'm afraid we forgot about you." He frowns.

"I'll be all right." You shrug. "There are a lot of people here you guys know and haven't seen in awhile. I decided to see Kane and Kanona while you were all busy." You force a smile, even though your fairly certain he can see right through you.

"Still, it was a mistake. We didn't consider your feelings-"

"I said it's all right. I understand." You tone gives away your true feelings, contradicting your words. "These are people that came into everyone's lives well before me. I know I'm an outsider."

"No, you're a friend and ally." Kurama looks at you. You can't read his expression and look away.

"... It's hard to tell if you ever mean what you say, Kurama, or if you're just saying it because it's the strategic thing to say at the moment." Deep down you know your being unfair.

"I understand." He sighs and leaves the room.

"Miss Chiyori, I think Kurama is right." Yukina smiles at you kindly.

"... Maybe." You shrug.


Fully healed, you hang around on the veranda, leaning against the wooden rail and watching the night. So far you've managed to avoid everyone.

"Hey, kid." Kuroko comes out and leans on the rail.

"I'm not a child." You glance at the tall woman.

"How old are you then? You look pretty young." She asks.

"Twenty three. I'll be turning twenty four in May. If we live that long." You answer.

"Someday you'll be happy people mistake you for being younger than you are." She laughs.

"If someday ever comes around." You grumble and wonder what she wants.

"Yusuke's grown a lot, and Koenma seems to have assembled a pretty tight group." She comments.

"Yeah, they are." Again deep down, you know you aren't being fair to them, that you don't really mean what you're saying. But it's been a long time since you were close enough to let your feelings get hurt like this and combined with the incident with Hiei yesterday, there's quite an emotional sting.

"They? What about you?" She raises an eyebrow.

"Things can't really be the same after that." You shrug. She doesn't press to know what that is.

"Well, I think we got off on the wrong foot earlier." She smiles. There's a mothering quality about her. "I'm Kuroko Satou."

"Chiyori Fujiwara." You reintroduce yourself to her. "Did you want something?"

"Yes, actually. I'm curious to know why you decided to become Spirit Detective."

"Why?" You straighten up, the question almost a shock. Why? You search your mind for the answer, but you aren't really sure what the answer is. All other Spirit Detectives had been appointed to your understanding. Why were you given the choice, and why did you say yes?

"I don't know... I guess..."

"Well, I just don't know."
"I thought it might be fun."
"I could put my skills to use."

"I see." Kuroko shrugs. "You might want to think about it some more."

You say nothing and watch her leave out of the corner of your eye. Solitude isn't yours for long. Botan is carrying blankets and pillows, toward what you think was Yukina's room here at Genkai's temple.

"Chiyo! You should get some sleep after what happened." She chides you.

"I guess I should find a place to crash." You shrug.

"Come with me!" Botan laughs, forcing some of the blankets and pillows upon you as you pick up your bag. Her cheer makes your spirits rise some.

"Um, all right." You follow her. She opens the door to the room. The floor is covered with futons. Like your own room at home it must be an eight tatami mat room. Inside Keiko, Shizuru, Yukina, Shura, Rui, and Fubuki are getting set for bed.

"I brought Chiyo!" Botan announces.

"We were wondering where you disappeared." Keiko smiles and waves to you.

"There isn't room for anymore futons, Botan." Shizuru glances at you, then the floor.

"Oh." Botan looks around. You feel your heart sink back down.

"It... It's all right. I can find some place else." You set down the pillows you were carrying and force a smile. There isn't room for me. Of course there isn't room for me.

"No, wait!" Botan grabs your arm as you start to leave. "We can make room, right, Keiko?"

"Well, if we put our futons together, the three of us could share." She offers.

"There! You see?" Botan lets go of you. "I insist you stay here!"

You nod meekly and set your bag down with some of the other's things. Everyone gets settled in and the lights go out. You lie in silence between Botan and Keiko, staring at the dark ceiling. Tears slip silently down to your pillow.

Botan slips her hand into yours and squeezes it reassuringly. You...

Pull your hand away.
Squeeze her hand.
Let more tears out.

Yay! Kane and Kanona are alive! And whew, this was a long chapter. I can't believe I broke Quizilla and had to split it up into two parts! I hope you've enjoyed them! Please feel free to rate and message.

They're alive! YAY!
Yeah, big deal, whatever.
Thanks for the long read!



Chapter 30
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