Disclaimer: Kenshin does not own the Yuu Yuu Hakusho characters (they are the property of Togashi Yoshihiro et al), and does not make any money from said characters.
What Kenshin does own, however, are all the original characters in this work. Any attempt to "borrow" these characters will be met with the katana, or worse.
Idiot Beloved takes place shortly after the Dark Tournament; Firebird Sweet directly follows. For reference, I use a combination of the subtitled YYH anime and the American manga, plus some of the CD dramas.
This particular tale is told from the antagonist's point of view.
Title: Five Rules For Fighting
Genre: Action/Adventure, General
Summary: Hiei encounters a youkai in disguise-and he means to have Hiei's hide.
A/N: As always, thanks for your reviews and faves!
A killer lies in wait for Hiei.
Five Rules For Fighting
"It's Hiei all right." AkaRaikou's informant ducked back into the reeking alley. "Even though he ain't wearing that black mantle or sword."
AkaRaikou scowled, thinking furiously.
In the Makai, Hiei was still notorious. But several years had passed since the Dark Tournament. It was said Hiei no longer wielded the Kokuryuuha, and indeed, hardly ever carried a sword.
It was also rumored that Hiei had lost a step or two, living as he did in the human realm. That he was an easy mark. But those who spoke of such things did so in hurried, fearful whispers, which meant anyone seeking to make a name for himself could still legitimately aim to take down Hiei.
AkaRaikou-the name meant Red Lightning-had been scouting for Hiei about a week now, and had been forced to pay first one insider, then another, and tonight, this human thug. What was his name? Yama-something? Hardly worth remembering.
But at least this one delivered.
Keeping his voice pitched high, as befitted his current form, Lightning said, "Are you sure it's Hiei?"
"Sure I'm sure." The thug bared tobacco-stained teeth. "But kid, are YOU sure?"
"Just do it. I'm not paying you to second-guess."
They stepped out of the alley, human and youkai. The thug a cheap punk-for-hire, to be had for the price of some booze.
Lightning looked human, but this was temporary. He had taken the appearance of a small and fragile ten-year-old boy, and it was a strain keeping his youki suppressed.
He was a shapeshifter, and his real form was ten feet of bronzed lightning and clawed thunder. Strength wasn't his only merit. He also had speed to spare.
Any moment now, he would secure his fearsome reputation with the murder of Jagan Master Hiei.
Lightning glanced down the near-empty street. A man ambled toward them, looking as though he hadn't a care in the world. He wore a white shirt, old-school tie, and navy blazer over khaki trousers. A somewhat foppish effect. The rumors must be true: Hiei had gone soft. Stifling a sense of disappointment, Lightning hissed, "He's coming!"
"It's your funeral, kid." The thug stepped forward and popped Lightning in the jaw.
Lightning wailed in surprise, only half-acting. Such a blow taken by an ordinary human certainly would have dislocated a jaw, perhaps even snapped a neck. But though he felt the meaty sting of the blow, Lightning took no real damage.
The set-up did its work. Hiei spotted the ruckus. Quick and fluid, he put himself between the thug and Lightning. With a right uppercut, then a left hook, too fast for the normal eye to see, Hiei sent the thug flying backward.
The informant landed butt-first in a trash can, and would probably wake up next week, wondering where his teeth had gone.
But as Hiei took out the thug, Lightning closely observed his technique.
Time to begin the deception. He let his mouth drop open. "Wow, Mister, thanks! That guy would have creamed me for sure."
"Maybe not." Hiei didn't so much glance his way.
But Red Lightning was looking at him. Blue-black hair that bristled upward to a flame-point, the telltale white starburst in front. It was Hiei, but impossible to tell what sort of shape he was in under that blazer.
He really doesn't seem like much. Taller than I am now, sure, but I'm supposed to be ten.
Hiei spoke. "What happened, kid-that guy try to steal your lunch money?"
"I-I-" Lightning let his teeth chatter.
Then, Hiei did look at him. His claret-colored eyes studied Lightning for so long that Lightning almost quailed under that steady, glacial regard.
At last, Hiei let his gaze shift away. "Wrong neighborhood?"
"I-" Lighting cleared his throat. "I'm Takahashi. I live just on the other side of the big park."
"Youyougi Kouen? All right, kid. You've got an escort."
As they walked toward the park, Lightning forced himself to cast admiring glances up at Hiei, even though it make him want to puke. "Gee, Mister, are you a pro boxer or something?"
"Then where'd you learn to fight like that?"
"You took him out easy! Wish I knew how to fight."
"You can learn."
"Yeah, but someone like me? This size?"
"I'm not exactly oversized myself."
"Yeah," he pressed, "but that guy was bigger."
"I have rules for fighting."
"Gosh, Mister! Rules?"
"There are five, to be precise."
"I don't suppose you'd tell me what they are."
They were nearing a ramen stand. "Why not?" Hiei shrugged. "One, never close with superior weight and strength."
Ha! thought Lightning, I have both, and plenty.
"You're probably faster than that guy. Could have run."
"Gee," he replied absently, thinking how impressive Hiei's head would look, mounted above his mantelpiece. Of course, he didn't have a mantelpiece, much less a home to put it in, but he was sure that once his reputation spread-
Hiei stopped in front of the ramen stand. "Hungry, kid?"
Lightning nodded. Having spent all his money on so-called informants, he'd gone without eating for 48 hours. Besides, this seemed a good chance to get Hiei to blab about his techniques before they reached the park. At this time of night, that park would be deserted. Lightning could destroy Hiei at will.
He ordered some tako yaki and a bowl of ramen. "About those rules," he said, between slurps.
Hiei wasn't eating. "Two, run your opponent around. Make him work harder than you."
His mouth full of octopus, Lightning nodded eagerly.
Hiei lifted a finger to indicate another helping, which the counterman placed before Lightning.
Hiei didn't talk much while they were sitting. Maybe it was time to get walking again. Walking seemed to have the effect of opening his mouth. "I ought to be getting home."
"Sure, kid." Hiei strolled past a kiosk selling frozen custard, bought a pink-topped cone and handed it to Lightning.
The cool, strawberry-flavored treat made Lightning thirsty. Stopping in front of a beverage machine, he glanced up at Hiei, all the while planning his first strike.
Two bottles of water and one of fruit juice later, they were nearing the park, and Hiei had only divulged two rules.
"But about fighting? Can't you tell me any more?"
"Right," Hiei said absently. "Fighting. Knock your man off-balance. Let the ground beat him up for you."
They had entered the park. Lightning's tongue felt swollen and salty. At a water fountain, he stopped to wash out his mouth, then swallow a little water so as not to start a death battle in a dehydrated state.
"And the fourth rule?"
"Always try to get in the first shot."
"Not this time!" With a great gust of breath, Lightning blew up like a kernel of popcorn to his full size and strength.
Hiei seemed frozen, nothing to offer in defense but a blank, open-mouthed stare.
"You're mine!" With a speed that had dazzled countless opponents, Lightning came down on Hiei like a runaway train.
There was a golden burst of light, as though fireworks had exploded inside Lightning's head. In less than an eyeblink, he had Hiei in his grip, crushing the life out of him, and in the next, Hiei was ten feet away-and Lightning lay paralyzed.
Unable to lift a finger, perhaps even mortally wounded, Lightning cried, "How is this possible? I had you!"
"You thought you did," said Hiei. "You grabbed my afterimage and a handful of air."
"I-I'm dying, damn you!"
"Nah," said Hiei, returning to stand over Lightning. "You're not even hurt. Just immobilized."
"C-can't feel a thing-numb-"
"Yeah." Raising a supremely disdainful brow, Hiei continued. "With a series of blows the likes of you couldn't even track."
Reduced to mouthing off, Lightning called into question Hiei's ancestry. Hiei in turn slipped something like a mobile phone from his pocket.
Making a call? At this hour? Who-
Appearing in a flash-bulb of light was a girl, her long blue hair caught up in a ponytail, wearing a pink, flowered kimono. She hovered in mid-air, delicately sidesaddle on an oar.
One of those ferry girls! thought Lightning, the ones who bring you to Reikai for judgment when you're-
"You look happy," she told Hiei. "Who's dead?"
"Me?" Lightning wondered. "Then I really am dead?"
"Hardly," said Hiei. "Just under arrest."
"Don't you even know who I am?" snarled Lightning.
Hiei laughed. "You punks never learn. I saw you coming."
"Where to start?" Hiei held up one hand, ticking fingers off a list. "First, you think you can hide a youki like yours?"
"Don't interrupt your betters." Hiei waved toward Botan. "Second, this nitwit here-"
"Hey!" Botan put her hands on her hips.
"This nitwit was informed of a youkai running loose in the neighborhood, flapping his lips about finding me. Why do you think I 'just happened' to come along when I did? I was attending an alumni reunion and thought I'd take care of a trifling matter such as yourself on my way home."
Hiei put his hands in his pockets. "Forget it, I'm done counting. I also recognized your idiot henchman. And the fact that you're a shapeshifter."
"How did you know I-"
"I stopped at the ramen stand because I know it takes energy for your type to maintain a disguise for very long."
Lightning told Hiei what he could do with himself, to which Botan gasped in shock.
Hiei merely rolled his eyes. "Listen, Red-"
"And how the hell do you know who I am?"
"Red Lightning, who insists on being called 'Lightning,' but whom everyone calls 'Red.'" Hiei chuckled. "Besides...Takahashi? One of the most commonplace names. That's not a bad neighborhood. A ten-year-old kid would know his way home. And that gosh-gee act. You spread it on thick as okonomiyaki. Next time, tone it down."
"Next time I'll snap your neck before-"
"Doubtful. I'm faster than anyone who's stronger than me, and stronger than anyone who's faster than me."
"But you had an unfair advantage!"
"Why do you think I encouraged you to inhale second helpings of ramen and tako yaki? With ice cream for dessert? Digesting all that food slowed you down and made you thirsty, so you bloated yourself further, guzzling drinks."
All Lightning could do now was respond with an escalating series of anatomically-implausible suggestions. Botan squealed, then covered her ears.
Hiei sighed. "Should've paralyzed your vocal cords, too."
"Fine. So kill me already."
"What-and bend my suit?"
Hiei said to Botan, "This clown will remain frozen for about a half hour. Whether you want to hang around until he can move again or run him in now is your choice."
"Gee, thanks," Botan responded.
"Wait a minute!" It burst from Lightning's throat before he could stop himself. "You never told me the fifth rule!"
"The fifth rule?" Hiei paused, then turned back.
"But, Hiei!" Botan cautioned. "Is this wise?"
Hiei gave Lightning a wolf's grin. There Hiei stood, small, unassuming, to all outward appearances foppish, and yet-!
"The fifth rule is, I'm so far beyond the likes of you that I can tell you what I'm going to do, how I'm going to do it-and still beat you."
Adjusting his tie, Hiei ambled away.