Naughty Godlings and Demonic Pudding
After leaving Koenma's office, Botan led the four boys through a portal to Tokyo. They entered Ningenkai a few miles away from the pudding factory and began walking the remainder of the distance through the crowded downtown area. Everyone traveled together except for Hiei. He went about jumping from rooftop to rooftop. Yusuke and Kuwabara assumed that it was so he wouldn't be associated with ningens. Kurama, however, suspected that the reason was Botan.
The journey continued uninterrupted for quite a while. Botan and the others made small talk, which Hiei also excluded himself from.
Ainokami tailed along from a distance, making extra sure to mask his energy. He constantly reminded himself of what might happen should Hiei or Botan discover he caused their lovesick state.
However, caution soon gave way to boredom. The secret lovebirds weren't going to get anywhere if they were always separated!
Forget being careful! It was time to take some extreme measures. With a plan in mind, Ainokami nearly began giggling again. If this plot succeeded, Ainokami could care less if Hiei found out - the godling would die laughing. After summoning his bow and a non-magical arrow, Ainokami prepared to shoot away...
Hiei was in midair, on his way to the next rooftop, when he felt a sharp pain in his ankle. Surprised, he lost concentration and fell to the ground in a heap. The others heard the commotion and came running, but by the time they arrived, Hiei had already pulled a small arrow from his leg and was peering at it curiously.
It wasn't a fatal shot, but the mere fact that an archer caught him off guard was startling. Perhaps Kurama was right in saying his wandering mind might be the end of him.
"Hiei!" Botan asked, capturing the demon's complete attention. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine!" he answered gruffly, embarrassed that she saw his undignified state. Holding the arrow for all to see, he continued, "An enemy is near, and I doubt their next shot will be as kind as this one."
"But I don't feel anyone's ki," protested Kuwabara, unable to conceive the possibility that someone could slip past his spirit awareness.
"I'll go look around from the air!" volunteered Botan, eager to catch Hiei's attacker.
"No, it's too dangerous!" Hiei objected rather protectively before Botan could summon her oar. Yusuke glanced at him strangely and opened his mouth to comment on Hiei's strange show of concern, but Kurama quickly interfered.
"Hiei's right. This mysterious archer must be quite powerful. If they could catch Hiei unaware..." the fox trailed off, then muttered to himself, "Though that has been considerably easier lately..."
Having heard his comment, Hiei glared at Kurama, but it was only acknowledged with a small grin.
"So if we can't see or feel anything, what should we do? Go out and search?" Kuwabara asked dubiously.
"Oi, archer guy! Quit playing hide-and-seek and face us like a man!" yelled Yusuke for all to hear, answering Kuwabara's question. Already prepared for such a request, Ainokami performed a simple shape-shifting charm and appeared before the detectives.
All five stared in wonder at the odd creature before them.
"What IS that!" exclaimed Kuwabara.
"I think it looks like... pudding," Kurama stated calmly.
Strangely enough, he was right: Ainokami was a blob of pudding, hovering in midair. The five continued staring, not quite sure whether or not it was a threat. Then, without warning, the floating food began moving and reshaping. Yusuke warned redundantly, "It's changing!"
"Is it... trying to spell a word!" asked Botan, awed at the strange sight.
Indeed, the god had changed his pudding body to spell: H heart symbol B
It was quite a cryptic message unless, of course, you knew of Hiei and Botan's feelings. Kurama understood it perfectly and watched as the demon and ferry girl hastily looked away, blushing. Meanwhile, Kuwabara and Yusuke were squinting at the pudding.
"H heart B..." Yusuke read aloud. "What the heck?"
"Heavy heart burn?" guessed Kuwabara. "He's heart broken?"
If he had a mouth, Ainokami would have burst out laughing.
And Kurama may have joined in if he weren't too busy contemplating Hiei and Botan's reactions. It wasn't surprising that Hiei would blush, but what about Botan? Unless 'H' stood for something else, the fox would have to assume she either loved Hiei or knew he loved her. But she wasn't acting disgusted or frightened - only embarrassed. So, maybe Hiei actually stood a chance with the girl!
Wow, who would have thought pudding could bring such great news?
"Hey, the pudding is changing again!" Yusuke called out. He had long since shed any suspicions of the pudding suddenly attacking them, despite the assault on Hiei. After all it was just floating pudding - how dangerous could it be?
There it was, the second message the godling-gone-pudding had for them: ADMIT IT ALREADY.
Before Kuwabara or Yusuke could start their lame deciphering attempts, Ainokami broke all logical laws of nature the way only a god can by speaking in his mouth-less, shapeless pudding form.
"A girl and a demon sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G! First comes love..."
As the terrible song continued, Hiei blushed even more, making him appear severely sunburned, and attempted to send the pudding a half-hearted glare. But it was difficult to act angry when you stood mortified, watching your worst nightmare come to life.
Hiei couldn't believe what was happening. That horrible Mary Sue must have sent the pudding! Koenma had warned them of a demonic pudding factory, after all, and since Mary Sues know everything, it was no wonder that she knew he was infatuated with Botan.
Oh, that despicable Mary Sue! If this kept up, she was going to ruin any chance he may have had with Botan. It was bad enough that Yusuke and Kuwabara thought that Koenma had stolen Botan's heart; Hiei didn't need Mary Sue interfering too!
The very thought of a Sue affecting his love life had Hiei in fits. How dare she! That creature already had more than enough power - why did she have to use it to ruin his life! Unable to restrain his emotions, Hiei let loose a burst of ki and set fire to the pudding.
Everyone else gasped as the blob caught fire. What a strange sight - a burning mass hovering in midair, like a meteorite frozen in place. Immediately, they glanced at Hiei to see why he had done such a thing. The pudding had only been singing, after all. That's no reason to attack it! But the fire demon paid them no mind and smirked at the pudding in satisfaction, only the faintest remains of a blush staining his face.
Burning wasn't very fun for Ainokami. Though his pudding form was unable to feel pain, that didn't mean his life wasn't threatened. Pudding can burn as well as any other food. Within seconds, the god vanished from sight, much to the astonishment of his audience.
Ainokami reappeared in a side alley in his usual form, unscathed thanks to his godly powers. He had never considered that Hiei might attack! The god had been too anxious to witness Hiei and Botan's embarrassment to wonder if he might be in danger.
Oh, that Hiei had quite a temper... If it had been any other creature, Ainokami would be inclined to pay it back tenfold. But Hiei was a special case. If things went on as planned, then this minor setback would be forgiven.
The godling became even more determined to aid Hiei in the quest for a soul mate. It was obvious the demon needed someone to love. If he were busy catering to Botan's every need, then he would have no time to set poor blobs of pudding on fire!
His motivation reinforced, the god returned to watching the group as their journey towards the pudding factory continued...
None of the Spirit Detectives were quite sure what to do. One moment, there was burning pudding in front of them, and then, just as suddenly, it disappeared. Everyone stood bewildered, not knowing the proper protocol for this type of situation. Should they search for the strange enemy? Or should they leave it alone in its charred misery?
Of the five people present, Kurama was the only one who wished the pudding would return. It had known something about Hiei and Botan, and the fox wanted to find out what - especially if Mary Sue had sent it. This could be a valuable chance to determine how many of their secrets she knew and, more importantly, how she intended to use that knowledge against them.
On the other hand, Botan was glad for its disappearance. It had known she loved Hiei! If the fiend's antics had continued, then everyone else might have figured it out too. Oh, the horror! Botan couldn't bear to imagine what would happen if Hiei knew...
Interrupting everyone's thoughts, Yusuke finally said, "Well, guys, I don't think that weirdo pudding's coming back, so it's safe to keep going."
"Huh? Oh... hai, let's go!" Botan quickly pushed thoughts of Hiei into the back of her mind and focused on reaching the Mary Sue's factory.
Everyone else followed suit, and soon they were acting like the pudding incident had never happened. However, this time Hiei stayed close to the group, which proved the godling's stunt had been successful.
The fire demon walked beside Kurama with an angry scowl upon his face. Between the babbling morons, Botan's overwhelming presence and Kurama's curious stares, the whole situation was becoming way too stressful. This is why he had walked separately from them earlier.
He considered risking the danger and straying from the group again, but the embarrassment of being caught off guard was a worse alternative. Hiei simply had to endure the torture for the sake of his pride.
Eventually, just as Hiei was ready to bolt, the group spotted their destination on the distant horizon - Mary Sue's pudding factory! The place could have been any other human building if it didn't exude a demonic aura. Five sets of specially trained eyes (not to mention a certain Evil Eye) noticed the ghastly green glow of power as easily as if it were glowing radioactively.
"So that's Mary Sue's hideout, ne? Doesn't look so scary to me!" Kuwabara boasted as they journeyed closer.
"Oh, yeah, with all that youki just pouring out of it - not scary at ALL," Yusuke stated dryly.
"We should stop here," suggested Botan. "If you four venture much closer without the other girls around, something bad is bound to happen!"
Doubtful, the boys sized up the distance between them and the factory. It was still pretty far away, just daring the detectives to come take a closer look.
"Botan..." Kurama began. "Maybe we should-"
"No, no, no, don't start with me! I know you four are powerful fighters and that you've defeated your fair share of demons, but we are dealing with a Mary Sue here! Extra caution is necessary!" Botan warned them. "We cannot just waltz up to her lair and expect to go undetected. She probably knows exactly where we are right now - what's stopping her from killing you where you stand? Or worse, brainwash you until you're nothing more than her mindless love slave!"
"Botan, that won't happen to us," Kuwabara reassured, confident in his strength. "No girl could ever make me forget my lovely Yukina!"
"She is not a normal girl! Just ask Hiei or Kurama. They know how easily Mary Sue can sneak into your brain and make you do the stupidest things!" Botan argued passionately. She couldn't stand by and let Mary Sue capture them before the other girls even arrived! "The last time Kurama dealt with a Mary Sue, do you know how he ended up?"
"Now, now, Botan, it really isn't necessary to tell them that..." Kurama protested.
She ignored him and answered the question, "He was found half-dressed and tied to a tree in some tiny American town with no memory of what happened! We can only guess the horrors he was put through! Do you want that to happen to you?"
The fox shuddered involuntarily at the unpleasant memory. That had not been fun to explain to his mother...
With a grimace, Kurama replied, "Of course we don't want that to happen! But if we don't stop Mary Sue now, then not only will we be in danger, but all creatures! Do you want Mary Sue to create an army of brainwashed humans?"
"He's right, Botan," Yusuke agreed. "We are the only ones who can stop her!"
"Which is EXACTLY why you shouldn't rush off and get captured!" Botan argued. She opened her mouth to say more, but Hiei interrupted her.
"Just leave. We'll be fine," Hiei stated with complete confidence. Hmph, he would never let a Mary Sue capture him - especially when Botan was watching...
Struck speechless, Botan stared at the fire demon. Suddenly, her argument seemed so silly... Hiei wanted her to leave? Well... maybe he was right. Hiei had plenty of experience dealing with Mary Sues, after all. He certainly seemed confident enough. So, maybe it was time she trusted him to take care of himself, and go do her part in the mission!
Silently, Kurama noted her reaction. So she would argue with everyone else, but listened to Hiei? How strange...
Kuwabara repeated the demon's request, "Yeah, Botan. Just go already and stop holding us up!"
"Okay, fine! I'll go, but only if you promise me this," Botan said as she summoned her oar. "Don't try to fight her until I return!"
"Yeah, yeah, we'll wait like good little boys, alright? Now, would you just LEAVE!" Yusuke retorted.
With a final worried glance at a certain fire demon, the ferry girl soared away.
"Phew! Finally!" Kuwabara exclaimed. "Come on, everybody, let's get a closer look!"
Without another word, the four boys continued on, certain that Mary Sue couldn't possibly harm them.
In a small, dark room, hidden deep within the factory's long-forgotten cellars, two figures - one male and one female - stood and watched their enemy's progress on a screen on the wall.
"Hmmm, those poor fools... They have no idea what you're capable of, do they?" said the man.
"No, I suppose not. Shall I give them a demonstration?" asked the woman.
She grinned, her teeth gleaming eerily. "Which one shall it be?"
"I pick... that one." He pointed at one of the boys on the screen.
"Ah, of course. I should have known."
Then, like the clichéd characters they were, the two broke out into evil, maniacal laughter that echoed horribly.
"Mwahahahaha!" the woman laughed.
"Bufufufu!" the man laughed in reply.
"MWAHAHA-" she stopped, annoyed. "Wait, what kind of evil laugh is 'bufufu'!"
"MY kind of evil laugh!"
"Well, get a new one! You are RUINING my evil entrance scene!"
"NO! I happen to like laughing like that!"
"I don't care! If you laugh like that one more time, I will-"
"Fine then! HEEHEEHEEHEE! Is THAT better!"
"Yes, thank you."
If anyone else had been there to witness the scene, they would have sweat-dropped. But, as fate goes, no one was there, so the crazy pair simply continued their evil laughter like nothing had happened.
And so they continued, laughing their selves hoarse while their enemies came closer and closer...
Finally, perched on the roof of a multi-story building, not even a mile away from the pudding factory, the four boys stopped to observe their enemy.
The factory's demonic aura grew even more impressive closer up. Squinting at the blinding aura, Kuwabara said, "This sucks! We walk closer so we can see better, but now the energy's so bright we can't see anything!"
"Speak for yourself, baka. I can see just fine!" Yusuke bragged as he stared straight at the factory.
"Then your spirit awareness must not be as good as mine. I feel like I'm trying to stare at the sun here!" Kuwabara exclaimed.
"Or maybe you're just too sensitive for your own good!"
"Shut up, both of you," Hiei ordered. Stupid humans - didn't they ever stop arguing? "If you insist on being useless, then at least refrain from hindering others from doing their job!"
Kuwabara blinked, taken aback at the hostility. "Sheesh, Hiei, did you wake up on the wrong side of the tree today?"
"Yeah, man, you've been really tense today! Is it your time of the month, or what?" asked Yusuke, grinning idiotically.
Kurama intervened before Hiei completely lost it. "Oh, don't worry about him. He's just going through some difficult changes right now."
"What, like a demon midlife crisis, or something?" Yusuke suggested, quite amused at the idea.
"Well... sort of," answered Kurama.
"Right..." Yusuke said. "Well, it's official then: Hiei is STILL a freak!"
Kuwabara nodded. "Definitely!"
The fox glanced over at Hiei to see if he would respond, but... he wasn't there. In fact, he wasn't even on the rooftop any more!
"Um... Does anyone know where Hiei is?" Kurama asked.
"He's right there," Yusuke turned to where Hiei had been, only to find an empty space. "Err, he WAS there..."
The three boys searched the area frantically, but found nothing. Hiei had simply disappeared without a trace!