Heh heh heh…put in a nice little twist for the battle's conclusion here…this should be good…

Disclaimer: I don't own original characters, but all the ones you haven't seen in the show belong to me. Duh.

Yu Yu Hakusho - Blossom

Chapter 9: An Heir…Or Two

Sakura looked pointedly down at the whip in her hand. "…Back to normal…" she whispered, but obviously, it wasn't listening to her. Actually, it had re-sprouted the thorns of its own accord, and she wasn't particularly happy about that.

Mamoru, next to her, picked up the edge of the spiny whip in interest. Almost immediately he let out a shout and dropped it, popping a bloodied finger into his mouth. "Ah…Those things are freakin' sharp!!"

"It cut through her first opponent like a sword, you fool." Kisho growled from behind him, tapping his staff impatiently on the ground. The master was insisting on a ten-minute break before the next round, but he wanted to fight now. "Of course those barbs are sharp."

Mamoru glared at the monk in distaste, then looked back at Sakura. The girl was slowly rolling the whip back up in her hands. "How come it doesn't cut you?!"

"My technique, I guess." Sakura shrugged. "I don't even feel it."

She took a deep breath, closing her eyes. This was very strange, this new…sense, she had to suppose it was…that the technique had awakened. It was as though someone had turned the sensors on her nose up a few notches. She could tell, now, that the tangy-yet-sweet lemon scent in front of her belonged to Mamoru, and that the rich, musty, pine radiated from the Master.

But this just increased the problem she was having…for besides feeling the icy-cold energy radiating from Kisho, she could also smell him…and she didn't like the scent. It made her nose itch, like pepper, except it wasn't spicy at all.

The Master appeared suddenly behind his grandson. "Alright then." he grinned. "All ready?"

"Yeah!" Mamoru cheered, leaping to his feet.

Kisho made a huffing noise. "About time."

"Alright then…" Yusuke waited a moment for the two to get in location on the field. "Second semi-final, Mamoru vs. Kisho…BEGIN!"

Mamoru raised his fists in a battle stance, sliding his left foot back. "Well?" he asked, laughing a little under his breath. "Would you like the first move, or shall I?"

Kisho sniffed. "I'm not here to play games, little boy." he sneared. "Why don't you just run on home to your mommy?"

Mamoru growled a bit and lunged forward, throwing his hardest punch. Kisho moved his staff and blocked it easily, snickering to himself. Mamoru growled and began a rapid-fire assault of punches and kicks, only to be blocked by Kisho's unnaturally fast movements.

Sakura shivered a bit, feeling the cold aura emanating from the monk's body, growing stronger and stronger with each blow blocked. The Master glanced her way and for a moment they locked eyes.

"Yes." the old man nodded. "He's the one."

Sakura's green eyes widened. "But…But sensei…What you said before…If…"

"I know what you're thinking." he said calmly, crossing his arms. "Would I allow these kinds of powers to fall into the hands of a demon? After everything the guys and I went through…?"

He beckoned her over and leaned down to whisper in the slightly smaller student's ear. "Not a chance in all the hells. But I can't interfere with the fight."

Sakura turned and looked at him in slight surprise, and his grin widened just a bit.

Kisho raised an eyebrow, this time grabbing Mamoru's fist and holding the boy still. "What was that I hear?" he asked, turning his cold eyes to the sidelines. "I think you should think about that a bit more, Master Urameshi."

Sakura and the teacher snapped their heads around. The blonde turned his head and a devilish grin spread over his features. Two sharp fangs showed in his smile.

With a sudden movement, he used a combination of his staff and his grip on Mamoru's arm to flip the boy over on his back, and fling him across the field. Taken off-guard, the boy tumbled head over heels, bounced twice and hit a tree, winded. A trickle of blood ran down the side of his head.

"Mamoru-kun!" Sakura gasped, taking a step forward.

"Stay back!" the master warned, grabbing her wrist.

Kisho turned towards the two watching, approaching them slowly, lifting his staff with each step, the chains on the decorative edge jingling.

"Do you honestly think I would go this far to be stopped by some withered old man?" he snickered. "I even took a step most demons cringe from…disguising myself as a member of this hated 'Order of the Cloth'. It was the perfect cover."

"Hey, did'ja forget?!" Mamoru shouted, racing at the demon/monk from behind. "You're still fighting ME!"

Kisho turned and brought the staff down. Mamoru backtracked a bit and tried to dodge, but the other end of the wood caught him in the stomach and he dropped to the ground, winded. Sakura took a step forward, hands curling around the end of the whip.

The master took a step back, moving his hands back in a battle-ready stance. "Sakura, get behind me." he ordered. She turned around, staring at him. "You're not ready for this kind of thing yet. You haven't had the training, and demons are a tricky type. I owe your grandfather at least enough to keep you alive."

The redhead nodded hesitantly, hurrying to stand just behind the master. Kisho laughed heartily, and this time it sounded cruel and dark.

"Noble, Urameshi. It fits your reputation perfectly…" he snickered, still approaching them. "I know well of your feats against the apparitions. The plots you stopped…the demons you've killed…the techniques you've inherited and developed… and your foolish loyalties."

Mamoru managed to stagger to his feet, still gasping for breath. Kisho glanced back at him with distaste, then turned back to the Master.

"In all honesty, your training held only little interest in me. I'm here for one thing: your life." he stopped a few feet away, with a grin on his face. "But, if you don't want your precious little students-to-be getting in the way, I'm sure we can handle that…"

He spun his staff around and struck out. The pole extended at a hyper-fast speed, catching Sakura on her right shoulder. The girl let out a cry as the sharp barb at the end pierced her shoulder about an inch deep, the force flinging her back.

"Sakura!" Mamoru exclaimed, but he didn't have time to react before the other side of the staff plunged into his stomach, hurling back the other direction.

"Mamoru, stay down!" Yusuke shouted, plunging forward in his attack.

Kisho looked up just as the old Master's punch connected with his head. He couldn't get his defenses up quite fast enough, and was knocked off-balance. The next spirit-backed kick sent him flying, cracking a tree in half.

The demon pulled himself up, spitting some blood out of his cut lip. "Hm…Not bad…"

"Woah, Gramps…" Mamoru blinked in surprise. "He's really getting serious now…"

Sakura hurried over and knelt beside him, checking his wounds calmly. "Mamoru-san…" she said quietly. "Have you ever seen a demon before?"

"Once." the boy allowed. "About five years ago…just after Gramps started training me…I wandered off and got ambushed by this huge demon. It nearly killed me…then Gramps showed up and saved my butt. He threw that demon around so hard he didn't know what hit him."

Sakura turned her eyes back to the fight. "Is the Master really that strong?"

"Oh, yeah." Mamoru nodded. "If he can't beat this thing, no one can."

Yusuke leaned back in his assault, hands ready in a battle stance. He gave the demon a coy look, a slight grin on his lips.

Kisho glared at him, raising his staff high in the air and spinning it quickly. "You may be powerful, old man." he sneared. "But that strength will do you no good against me!"

"Oh, really?" Yusuke raised an eyebrow. "I'm shaking in my boots."

"You won't even be able to do that!" Kisho roared, and lunged forward.

Yusuke blocked as he came down with his staff, allowing himself to be pushed backwards just a bit under the rapid assault. The two combatants slid backwards, then began rotating slightly, the old man the central radius.

"This'll be a synch." Mamoru clinched his fists. "Gramps can beat anybody!"

"Mm-hm…" Sakura muttered, sounding distracted.

Mamoru glanced at her, raising an eyebrow. "What's up?"

Sakura's green eyes looked serious, calculating, and were looking at the ground rather than the fighters, as though watching their footwork. "It's strange…" she murmured, "Why is the monk dragging his staff? Surly that slows him down…"

"Huh?" Mamoru turned back to the fight, looking at the ground. She was right, Kisho was dragging the end of his staff in the dirt as he moved slowly around Yusuke, a cloud of dust raising in his wake.

The demon suddenly grinned, pushing off to leap away from the Master. Yusuke smirked, brushing back his bangs. "What's the matter? Getting tired already?"

Kisho started in a low chuckle, which quickly raised to a loud, cackling laugh. Yusuke raised an eyebrow. "What's your problem?"

"You're a fool, old man." Kisho laughed. "So busy showing off to your little pupils that you didn't even notice the trap!"

"What…?"

Kisho struck the ground hard with his staff. The drag trail spiral around Yusuke suddenly glowed bright red, energy shooting upwards out of it. Yusuke let out a gasp and was suddenly pulled to his knees, his whole body freezing up in a crouch.

"Gramps!" Mamoru exclaimed.

"Sensei!" Sakura gasped.

Kisho laughed again, louder this time. "No mortal could possibly get out of THAT spell!" he cackled. "You won't move an inch, not until I release you! But first…" his cold blue eyes turned to look in the direction of the two teens. "…I think I'll take care of the students first."

Yusuke growled.

Mamoru took a step back, eyes narrowing. "Sakura…" he whispered. "We're gonna have to take him together. You ready?"

"…Yes." the girl whispered, pulling her whip taunt in her hands.

"Okay…go!"

Mamoru shot off to the right, and Sakura dashed to the left. Kisho stood still, smirking, and turned slightly to follow Mamoru.

The boy slid to a stop and lunged forward, pushing his spirit energy behind a strong right upper cut. Kisho blocked it easily, a lower left to the gut bringing the boy to his knees.

There was a cracking noise and Sakura suddenly leapt up from behind him, her whip snapping forwards. The smirk only widened as the demon spun around, the whip wrapping around his staff.

"Don't be a fool, girl!" he laughed. "One technique can't solve everything!"

With that, he gave the vine a furious yank backwards. It pulled the girl clean off he feet and over his head, flinging her head-first across the field, sliding to a stop just behind a partially-ruined tree. The whip came loose and landed far from her reach.

"Sakura!" Mamoru gasped, pulling himself to his feet.

Kisho spun around and grabbed him by the collar. "Don't worry, boy." he sneared. "I'll take care of her soon enough…"

Sakura shrank hesitantly back against the tree, shaking a bit as she pulled her knees up close. She could hear the noises of their fight behind her…and couldn't help but feel utterly helpless. Her only technique was useless…Mamoru was getting beaten up… The Master was trapped, unable to move…

"There's got to be something I can do…" she shivered, a single tear escaping her eyes. "Mamoru-san…Sensei.…"

Flashes of memory glimmered past her. The loving, smiling face…The flowers and plants…gentle words of kindness and advice…

"Grandpa…" she croaked, hearing Mamoru cry out behind her. "I need you… Grandpa…"

A familiar feeling suddenly registered in her mind. Her head shot up with a short gasp, suddenly finding herself eye-to-golden-eye with the large, silver fox. It nudged up against her hand, looking up at her with determination.

"You again." she whispered. "But…what?"

The fox bumped her hand a few times, and she opened it hesitantly. The fox dropped something into the outstretched palm…a small brown seed, shaped like a teardrop, a small red line rounding its middle.

Sakura blinked in surprise. "I don't understand."

The fox sat back on its hind legs, pulling its tails…yes, tails plural, there were five of them…around to reach into one with its teeth. It reached in and pulled out a blooming red rose, brandishing it in Sakura's direction. Then it disappeared, dashing away.

The information clicked after a moment. "Use the seed like I used the rose." Sakura muttered, shifting the small seed into her grip. She peaked around the trunk of the tree, just in time to see Mamoru go flying once again. "Okay…think…how did I do it?"

The focused on the seed, remembering the Rose Whip she had created. The second time, especially, when it had been easy for her to control. An extension of my arm…and extension of my arm…

Kisho laughed a bit, glaring at Mamoru in arrogance as the boy struggled to pull himself to his feet. "Fool." he snickered. "Did you honestly think a wimp like you could beat me? You're pathetic…"

He started towards the boy threateningly. Mamoru slid back, bracing himself in battle-ready position. "I'll take care of you, first." Kisho laughed. "And then I'll get rid of your little girlfriend, and then…"

He suddenly stopped walking. A look of confusion spread across his face and he looked down. His eyes widened. "What the…?"

"Sakura…" Mamoru gaped.

The girl was still standing twenty feet from the demon, her hand stretched out in front of her and eyes squeezed shut in focus. From her hands was a long, writhing tangle of vines, which had already wound their way around Kisho's legs and were moving up.

"You…You little brat!" Kisho growled, spinning around, his staff raised to strike out again. But just as he turned the vines shot upward, wrapping around the demon-monk's arms and pulling them down taunt. It even yanked the staff out of his hands.

"I-I didn't know she could do that…" Mamoru whispered, eyes wide. The Master just grinned from his frozen spot.

"Mamoru…" Sakura whispered, eyes still closed. "H-Hurry up and beat him…I can't…keep this up…much longer…"

"Right!" Mamoru shot to attention, about to lunged forward and attack. Then something struck him.

"Wait a sec…My punches don't affect him. Even if he can't move, it's not going to help. So how can I…?"

A glimmer of silver suddenly caught his attention. He spun around to look for what had caused it, but didn't see it. Instead he spotted the discarded green vine, curled and ready, its sharp thorns obvious in the sun.

Sakura's whip

He lunged forward and grabbed a hold of the long, green rope, ignoring the thorns as they sliced open his hands. He raced to the writhing mound of vines, throwing the cord around Kisho's exposed throat.

"Got'cha now…" he growled, wrapping the rope around his hands for extra leverage. "Any last words?"

"This is…impossible…" Kisho growled. "How could you…?"

"Time's up." Mamoru yanked the vine taunt.

Black blood dripped down the corpse as the vines withered away. Mamoru dropped the whip as it changed back into the rose. He grimaced a bit at the pain of his hand, but he grinned. "We got him."

Sakura nodded as the vine withered away. Then she let out a small moan and dropped to her knees.

"Sakura!" Mamoru gasped, racing forward.

The Master, freed from Kisho's spell, was suddenly beside the girl, and caught her before she feel limp. Mamoru stopped, staring worriedly.

"It's alright." Yusuke nodded to him with a smile. "She's not hurt. Just wore out her energy, that's all…not used to this kind of stuff. She'll recover soon."

He looped his arm through hers and put his other under her knees, sweeping her off the ground 'bridal-style'. "For now, let's just get the both of you back to the house. You both need to recover a bit, now don't you?"

o

Yusuke sighed, glancing over his shoulder, into the house. Keiko was gently wrapping Mamoru's hands in bandages, while Sakura was in a corner of the room, newly-woken. The Master sighed, shutting the screen behind him and crossing to sit in the gaze of a large Buddha statue.

Genkai had always used this room as a meditation area, and, in respect of his old master, he kept up her tradition. He sat on the worn old mat, poured himself a cup of tea, and waited.

After a moment he felt a slight tell-tale disturbance in the room's general feel that told him someone else had entered. There was also the fact that he didn't sense their energy as they entered, which meant they were masking it to keep from being noticed by the others in the house.

Yusuke sighed, setting down his cup and glancing sideways into a shadowed corner. "You sly old fox." he snickered. "You just couldn't help but interfere, could you?"

There was a small rush of wind, then a gentle, familiar chuckle filled his ears. He poured another cup of tea, and it was retrieved by a slender, long-fingered, clawed hand.

"I was expecting a bit more gratitude, Yusuke." a deep voice chuckled, sipping the spicy, green liquid. "After all, it was your flesh and blood as well as mine that was saved."

"Humph." Yusuke had to grin a bit, looking over at the pale-haired figure. "That sounds just like you."

The demon grinned as well, showing sharp canines in the gloom. "It seams, however, that I was not the only one to offer my assistance in the matter…was I, Yusuke?"

Now it was the master's turn to smirk. "Help? No, not me…I held back, after all."

"And allowed yourself to be trapped…All to give the two a chance to defeat the demon on their own." the other brushed back silver hair from gleaming gold eyes. "…With the insane hope that they could do it by themselves."

"We always were a little crazy."

The two figures chuckled slightly, and for a moment there was silence. Then the visitor spoke again.

"I suppose this throws a wrench in your plans for a single successor, doesn't it?"

"With those two in the same tournament? Honestly, what choice did I really have?" Yusuke sighed, shaking his head. "Sooner or later we'll figure out which one of them needs it, but for now…they do seam to make a good team, don't they?"

"Indeed." the cup was set back on the tray, and golden eyes gleamed in quiet amusement. "I must be going…Hiei is waiting, after all."

Yusuke nodded. The light wind came again, and a sliver fox leapt off through the screen door, unseen by the world. He lifted his cup once more, sipping contently.

"This…" he muttered, half to himself. "…Should be most interesting…"

Hope you guys enjoyed the little cameo in there! I told you you'd see him sooner or later!

Yes, I realize Sakura seams a bit weak…but be realistic. The poor girl's never been in a food fight before, let alone something big like this. You can expect her to be more than a little shaken, demonic animal instincts or not.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: As decided in the Reviews, we'll be going by the 'Saga Box Set' plan. The next three missions will be cataloged in a new story, under the name Blossom: Tantei Saga. And don't worry…This is gonna be a VERY original story, not just a Yu Yu re-make. Wait'll you meet the other two…snicker

If you want to receive an e-mail when I start it, put you e-mail in your review and I'll send out a general announcement. Ideas for cases welcome! Very welcome! See you then!

GS