Sorry it took so long…writer's block.

This chapter has been rather enjoyable. Harumi's tough to write, but really fun…actually, almost all the characters are like that. I love how diverse this is getting…

Disclaimer: I don't own any original YYH characters, nor do I own Harumi or Sad. But Misato and Luna belong to me, as well as Kokuru.

The Tomuraigassen Tournament

Chapter 13: A Concert of Problems

Kurama hurried through the maze at a easy-set pace, not quite at a run but not quite walking either, allowing his still-human muscles to adjust to the distance needed. As he had not been attacked, it was obvious that he was not the one Kokuru had announced. But that would mean that…

He slide to a stop, hearing a gentle music over the edge of the wall. But the music was laced with high-pitched cries of pain…cries his advanced hearing quickly deduced as belonging to Misato.

Kokuru's platform hovered just above him, as the dog-like demon shouted into the mic. "The fox-demon Kurama is only a few feet away from where is teammate is being tortured! But with that wall separating the two, there's nothing he can do!"

The kitsune snapped his head around at that. From the pure joy in Kokuru's voice, it was obvious that whatever was happening on the other side would not end well for his friend. Not unless he could do something about it…

Kokuru's tail was wagging with excitement. "Ooh, this is amazing! As we have seen in her earlier matches, Harumi's Melody of Misery has Misato pinned in agony! Woah…wait a sec…" he leaned forward, squinting, then reared back up in surprise. "This is…remarkable! Kurama is actually climbing over the wall!"

It was true. The youko-turned-human had created a length of vines, and was using them to systematically scale the wall like a rock-climber. He'd nearly made it to the top after only a few seconds of climbing.

"Hang on…" Kokuru leaned back. "Is that legal? Sad-san?!"

"I'm checking." the calm voice came from the press box. The sound of rustling pages was over the loudspeaker a moment, then the girl returned. "No, Kokuru, there's nothing in the rules about going over walls…"

Kurama wasn't listening. He'd reached the top of the wall, and could now clearly see what was happening on the other side.

Misato had been forced to her knees, trying desperately to cover her ears from the devastating tune coming from Harumi's flute. Kurama grimaced as the sound reached his own, extra-sensitive hearing. It felt like it was tearing his brain into shreds…

Harumi was taken by surprise as the flute was knocked from her hands by a sharpened flower, thrown so that it hit the end of the instrument and flung it away from her.

"Who did that?!" she demanded, glaring.

Kurama nimbly leapt down from the wall, coming to help Misato up. "Are you alright?" he asked quietly.

"Yes…yes, thank you." Misato shook her head out and tried to stand, but nearly fell over. "Oooh…I feel like my head's being split open…"

"Things like that can happen." he muttered, keeping his eyes on Harumi. "I've heard of it before. The sound waves from her music are combined with her energy. It creates a kind of sonic wavelength that affects anyone who hears it."

"Smart." Harumi smirked, climbing to her feet. She picked up her flute and twirled it in her hand. "But just knowing what I can do isn't going to help you much in the defense, now is it?"

She lifted the flute back to her lips. "Oh no you don't!" Misato exclaimed, throwing one of her Starlight Marbles at her. The otter demon leapt into the air, flipping to avoid the explosion.

Kurama was swift, he reached back into his hair and pulled out four small seeds. "Here." he tossed two of them to Misato, using his other hand to follow out his own orders. "Put these in your ears. They're Fukureru Hana…Makai Puff-Blossoms. When they sprout, they should block out her music."

Misato did as she was told, slipping the small, brown seeds into her ears. Harumi straightened. "You think I'm going to give you time to do that?" she laughed, lifting the flute to her lips. "Not yet, I don't think. It's time you two got a taste of my Tune of Terror…"

And the tune began to play…

. . . . . .


Kurama blinked. He did it again, unbelieving of what he saw before him.

A second ago, he'd been looking at a petite little otter-demon, threatening a mysterious sound-based attack and about to make her move. A second ago, he'd been standing next to a blonde, teenage girl, a recently-discovered ally who packed more of a punch that what she looked. A second ago, he was in a life-or-death battle royal inside of a giant maze for the amusement of hundreds of rabid demon sports fans. But he wasn't there anymore.

Instead, he was standing outside of his normal, human home, on the sidewalk that led almost directly to his normal, human school. He was facing his normal, human mother, standing in the doorway of said normal, human home, her graying-black hair tied in a bun and a happy smile on her face. Beside him was his normal, human stepbrother, or he had been standing beside him before taking a run into the house, ducking in behind his stepmother.

Shiori Minamino-Hatanaka smiled at him. "Come inside, Shuichi dear." she said. "It's dinner time. I hope you had a good day at school."

Kurama wavered a moment, slightly confused. "…Ka-san?"

She smiled again. "Of course, dear." she motioned. "Come on in and let's have a nice dinner, okay?"

"Yeah, Nii-san!" Shuichi the younger called. "Let's go! It smells great!"

Kurama hesitated a moment, wondering if he had lost his mind, then began the trip up the front walk.

He stopped suddenly, feeling a pounding in his chest. Something was wrong here…this wasn't right…what was happening?

His mother turned back, Shuichi looking over her shoulder. "Honey?" she called. "Shuichi-kun? Are you alright?"

There was a laughing in the back of his mind…it was familiar, but it couldn't be like that…He didn't want to, he would never…No, no, no…

"Nii-san?" the younger brother came up the walk, looking concerned. "Stop playing around, this isn't funny…"

Kurama looked up, but he was seeing through different eyes. The colors were enhanced and the details were sharpened, he could read every movement with the greatest efficiency. They were the eyes of a hunter…

Shuichi drew back, taking in a gasp. Shiori let out a scream of horror that registered painfully against very sensitive ears. A low, in human growl escaped his throat as he looked up, past white-silver hair, and reached out with clawed hands for his own brother's throat…

Stop it stop it stop it stop it!! his mind screamed, but his body wouldn't obey.

He wanted to hunt…humans were so annoying…The mother ran forward and pulled the younger boy back, putting herself between the two of them…Hn…So protective…Get rid of her first…

You can't attack Shiori!! Youko, no!!

This is a dream.

The thought registered with him quite suddenly. It was a dream, a bad one, a nightmare he'd had once before, just after his first re-transformation into Youko Kurama. His body continued to move forward, claws stretching towards the mother and the young boy, but the details seamed…wrong. His mother looked much younger than she should, and Shuichi's hair was too dark…

It's just a dream…A trick, an illusion. She's putting this into my head…

Yes…Yes, there it was! The soft, almost unnoticeable tune, echoing in his ear, as though he was listening to it through a hose. He focused all his senses on the sound, blocking it out, growing the plant and getting rid of it completely.

The colors of the picture began to bleach away, leaving a pale, unfocused, black-and-white imitation that looked rather like a bad old movie.

It isn't real…It isn't real…IT ISN'T REAL…

There was a slight shattering sound, and the picture faded away.

Kurama was now standing in the corridor-like hall of the Labyrinth, a tickling sensation in his ears assuring him that his Fukureru Hana had sprouted without taking root, effectively blocking Harumi's music.

The otter demon was still playing her flute, obviously enjoying the results. Misato had small, white-fluff plants curling around her ears, but without real control over plants in her, it hadn't grown to block out the sound completely.

The blonde-haired girl was on her knees, hugging herself and crying. Kurama checked to make sure Harumi's eyes were still closed…which they were…before moving over to put a hand next to Misato's ear.

"Misato…" he urged, pushing his power into the plant. "It's just a dream. Just a nightmare. Calm down…Don't listen to her."

The plants grew more lush, slowly blocking out the signals. Misato muttered something he lip-read as "You…me…" before her eyes cracked open.

She blinked at him, uncomprehending. "Kur…Kurama?"

He nodded, helping her up. "You okay?"

She nodded, the looked to Harumi and motioned to go against her. Kurama nodded in agreement, producing his Rose Whip in an instant, as Misato produced her Starlight Marbles. He held up three fingers and counted down. Three…Two…One…

Harumi looked up, just as the whip came crashing down on her from above. She leapt backwards, barely avoiding it, and got caught in the wake of a Starlight explosion.

She looked up with a growl as the two approached, venomous looks in both their eyes. She picked up her flute again, but realized that the…the things in both their ears were keeping her from using that.

"Dammit all…" she growled under her breath, leaping backwards in an attempt to run for it.

And ran right into a dead-end.

The small otter demon cursed under her breath, spinning back around to face the two approaching members of Team Urameshi. Kurama was more than happy to dispose of her, for the way her song had used his mother's image, and Misato was about ready to spit from her own anger.

"Ready?" Kurama mouthed to his teammate. She nodded, producing more than enough Starlight Marbles to blow the little thing to pieces.

Harumi snatched up her flute and began playing furiously, as though in an act of desperation. And she kept playing until Rose Whip and Starlight Explosion collided at almost the exact same time.

The flute clattered harmlessly to the ground. High above them, Kokuru was nearly hyperventilating from the excitement of the win, and a point rang itself up on the board.

Kurama removed the Fukureru from his ears, causing it to wilt back into a seed at his touch. He did the same to Misato, who caught the seeds as they fell.

"Thanks." she smiled, handing them back to him. "I'd be dead if it weren't for you."

Kurama nodded as though to agree, then suddenly stopped. His body went rigid and his ears gave a very fox-like twitch as he spun around.

"What is it?" Misato asked.

Kurama's green eyes were focused on Harumi's flute. The wind was blowing through it very gently, but there wasn't just those small notes. It was a tune, echoing out and growing louder by the second.

"It's still play?!" the girl exclaimed.

Kurama could feel his arms getting heavy. "We've got to…destroy that thing…" he muttered, not feeling confident at all. "She must've charmed it…to keep…playing…"

"Just hang on!" Misato cried, trying to steady him. Kurama's sensitive animal hearing was affecting him more, but she could already feel the effects of the song drawing her down. "S-So…tired…"

Kurama's energy was gone, he'd already hit the ground. Misato stumbled over to the flute, throwing it into the air. She fired a single Starlight Marble at it, hitting it square in the middle and causing quite a pretty fireworks display.

Then she slide down the wall as the Song of Sleep took hold. Both combatants slumped, unresponsive, out of commission, and completely unawares that they were very tempting targets to the enemies lurking just around the corner…


NEXT TIME: Kurama and Misato have both been put to sleep by Harumi's Song of Sleep! If one of their teammates finds them first, they'll be okay, but if the other team comes along before then…You can probably guess.

Tune in Next Time! Ta-at!

- GS