Chapter One: The Demon
There were many things Yusuke Urameshi would have preferred doing that morning.
Sleeping for one, with the arcade as a close second; even the movies weren't far down on his list. But was he doing any of those things? No, of course not. Because that would mean (God forbid) that his life was normal. And that plainly was just not true.
Instead of all those wonderful places he could be, he was sitting in Koenma's, the Prince of the Spirit World's, office. He took some comfort in knowing, however, that he wasn't the only one not enjoying himself. Hiei had his usual cold look on his face that served as a mask to hide other emotion, though displeasure was practically vibrating off him and it filled the air around them.
Yusuke did throw his orange-haired friend an irritated look, noticing how he seemed glad to be there, though he did tend to get excited about new missions. More chances for Kuwabara to serve justice and impress Yukina along with all that other hero nonsense, Yusuke supposed. Kurama seemed to be the only one withholding his displeasure. That is, if he even had any.
Koenma cleared his throat, trying to grab Yusuke's attention since he was the only one not really paying attention, half-nodding off instead. Botan gave him a quick jab with her elbow, causing him to bolt upright.
Koenma almost rolled his eyes at the display. "There's a new assignment," he informed the four boys in front of him.
Yusuke spun his pointer finger around, as though waving a miniature flag. "Woo hoo," he said dryly, causing the young-looking—though certainly not young—prince to give him a withering look.
At the same time, Kuwabara asked, "what is it?" His reaction differed greatly from his friend's, as was evident from his position on the edge of his seat.
Koenma grabbed a remote that sat on his desk and with one press of a button, a picture came onto the screen behind them. A large house—a mansion really—standing at least three stories high was what was displayed behind them as they turned to see. But that was all. Sure, there were vines and other plant life growing all over the sides of it and yeah, it looked like it had not been used in decades, if not centuries. Besides that, it seemed normal enough.
Which was exactly why the Spirit Detective was less than impressed. "Is there a reason we're looking at a house?" Yusuke questioned. "Or is our mission to paint it?"
The sarcasm was still thick in his voice. What could he say? He was always sarcastic, more so when he was functioning on such little sleep. He was cranky and now Koenma had to deal with it.
Well, him and Botan. "You can at least try to show some respect!" she scolded from where she was beside Koenma's desk. Although he noticed that she, too, eyed the house oddly, a dead giveaway of her skepticism. Yusuke snorted at her obvious incredulity while she was trying to yell at him for the same thing.
"The last time anyone was living in this house was well over one hundred years ago. It's deep in the forest that's at the edge of the city. Realtors have been looking to sell the property and the house, but any people they sent to check out the house have never come back." He gestured toward the screen. "They went into that house, yet they never came out. And now we're starting to get weird energy vibes from it," Koenma explained.
"Ooh, it's haunted," Yusuke mocked, rolling his eyes. He jerked his thumb at his orange-haired friend beside him. "Send the ghost detector over here to deal with it," he said, while Kuwabara shot back, "that's not funny, Urameshi."
Koenma ignored both their comments, continuing as though they hadn't even spoken. If it was possible to revoke a person's right to speak, they would be his first choice. "I want you four to go live there for the time being and find out what's going on."
Kurama blinked once, the only evidence of his surprise. Had he heard right? "You want to send us to a house that no one has ever come back from alive." He said it more as a statement than a question.
Koenma nodded, looking quite serious. It was actually kind of comical, such a young face looking so stern. People of the world beware, the toddler might stare you down. "Yes."
"This is foolish," Hiei said, speaking for the first time.
He leaned against the wall, arms folded as he looked toward the Prince of Spirit World. He had little to no respect for the toddler and the longer the current conversation went on, the more he disdained him. Who said he would take part in this little expedition anyway?
"My thoughts exactly," Kurama agreed.
Koenma seemed annoyed, but once again ignored the group's words. He went on talking about the mission without faltering the slightest bit. "The people who lived there long ago… they were never seen coming out again. I believe it started with them..."
"This mission won't even have any fighting. I don't see why—" Yusuke began, but Botan interrupted his interruption. She had at least known that it would take some persuading to get the team to the house, but luckily she knew exactly what to say to get Yusuke to come. After that everything else would fall into place. Hopefully.
"Just think of it as a vacation, Yusuke. While you're living there for a week or two you won't have to do any other spirit detective work. Think of the possibilities. In a large mansion… there's has to be a lot of fun things you can do."
Botan could have sworn she saw a light bulb flash over the teen's head. She hid a smirk of satisfaction, especially when he declared, "hey, yeah! And no school then." Not that he went anyway, but if he was on a mission, Keiko couldn't nag him about it, a major plus.
He looked to Koenma. "I'm in."
"If Urameshi's in, there's no way I'm not going," Kuwabara told him immediately after Yusuke had spoke.
Kurama sighed. Somehow he knew he was going to regret this, but… "It seems then that I will be joining them too." He glanced at the two other teens. "Who knows what trouble you two would get into on your own." His comment only made Yusuke grin, which was not exactly the desired effect.
Koenma turned to Hiei, who had been very quiet during the whole discussion. Not that that came as such a surprise. "And you?"
Hiei turned to the prince before he spoke, feeling his gaze on him. He met his eyes squarely. "There's no way I'm going on a mission to live in a human house," he said in a matter-of-fact tone, though putting emphasis on the word 'human' as if it were something disgusting. The entire assignment was idiotic all on its own. Why should he opt to go?
The prince shrugged nonchalantly, taking his gaze from the fire demon. "Fine," Koenma was all said, making Hiei eye him suspiciously. It wasn't like him to give up so easily.
Koenma continued, "Oh, and the girls will be joining you also. Botan and Yukina, since their abilities might be needed. And Keiko chose to come along as well."
He said it offhandedly as though it were no big deal, though he averted his eyes from the group after. If things got dangerous and they got hurt… He shook his head at even the thought. No, nothing bad would happen. It was just a simple task.
"WHAT?" Yusuke exclaimed as he stood up abruptly, disliking the new turn of events. Kuwabara was right behind him, looking worried now that his dear sweet Yukina would be involved. "What are you doing asking them before you even ask us, anyway!"
Hiei, his body slightly tense, looked away as Yusuke continued yelling. This had been Koenma's plan all along to get Hiei to go. Maybe it was the reason he asked Yukina to go, or maybe it was just an added bonus. Either way, he was not going to trust his sister's safety in the hands of the others, mainly Yusuke and definitely not Kuwabara.
"Alright, I'll go," Hiei snapped abruptly, but he was not happy about it.
Kagome knew that the Feudal Era had many redeeming qualities. I mean, why else would I keep coming back? she thought to herself. The land was beautiful with all its pre-industrialized wonders. There were also her friends, ranging from demons like Kirara and the little kitsune Shippo, to Miroku the "monk" (though she used that term loosely) and Sango, a trained demon slayer. And then there was Inuyasha. That on its own was enough.
But there were less pleasant things. Like the hordes upon hordes of demons that seemed to try to kill them on a daily basis in an attempt steal their jewel shards.
At the moment, there happen to be one of those infamous demons standing twenty feet in front of her and her friends. And, big surprise, it was trying to exterminate them or at the very least, beat them to bloody pulp. How lovely. Just gives you that warm, tingly feeling inside, doesn't it?
"Inuyasha!" Kagome yelled, but her words—or rather, word—fell on deaf ears. The half demon in question just continued on, charging blindly at the demon in front of them. Would he ever learn to think before he charged? Apparently not, she thought as she watch him swing his Tetsusaiga at it.
She must have made a move to follow him because Sango's hand was suddenly on her arm, preventing her from going forward. Then without a word, the slayer let go and proceeded toward the demon, using more caution than Inuyasha had.
And she was right to. The demon was twice the height of any man and much wider than one as well. Its mouth held fangs, though they were no match in sharpness for its deadly claws on its hands and feet. She bet they could easily tear through flesh and bones. Kagome shuddered at the thought.
The demon was not the most intelligent, not even being able to speak in words like most demons could, but its strength was more than enough to compensate that, which made it harder for the group to defeat it. The fact that Naraku's poisonous bees were all around didn't help nor the fact that it possessed at least one jewel shard.
What was most devastating, however, were the large yellow bumps that were littered across the demon's skin. Inuyasha and the rest had learned the hard way not to hit them during battle. Inuyasha had burst one and instead of blood spurting out, a yellow liquid began oozing from its skin, an acid that ate away at anything it touched. Inuyasha and Sango had avoided getting hurt by it, but just barely.
"Inuyasha's going to get himself killed!" Shippo exclaimed, watching as the half-demon just managed to avoid more of the dangerous liquid. It sizzled as it melted a tree bark in Inuyasha's stead.
Whatever touched the liquid disintegrated, the only exceptions being the demon itself, having an immunity to its own fluids, and Tetsusaiga, lucky for Inuyasha. Glancing at Sango, it was obvious she was itching to fight, but it was determined that her hiraikotsu was too risky against the demon. If thrown it could hit the yellow bumps and the acidic mess would squirt out everywhere, not to mention her weapon would be eaten away by it. She could only content herself with killing the poisonous bees, which turned out to be only frustrating work. No matter how many she killed, it seemed like more took its place.
Inuyasha became slightly more cautious to the relief of Kagome and made extra effort to slice at the demon only where his skin was. Hot blood poured out of the demon in mass quantities, mixing with the acid on the ground. The demon, beginning to realize it was losing, did one of the more cowardly things that a demon could. It turned tail and ran.
Inuyasha seemed to think so too, because he yelled after it, "hey! Come back here! What are you, a coward?"
It, of course, did not pay any attention, not even at being called a coward. It just kept bounding away with Inuyasha hot on its heels. The rest didn't even take the time to exchange looks before heading after the two, Kagome jumping on her bike with Shippo holding onto her neck tightly, while Kirara took both Miroku and Sango onto her back to follow.
The demon reached the clearing with the well and, with a quick look around, it ran toward the structure that connected the Feudal Era with Kagome's. Inuyasha only scoffed at this. "You've got no where to run, baka!"
It didn't even hesitate in its steps as it sprinted toward the well. It then did the unthinkable; it jumped right into it. By all laws of physics, science, or whatnot, the demon shouldn't have fit. But it did. A great light appeared around him and the demon was gone.
Inuyasha stopped dead in his tracks, looking over the edge. He began cursing with such vulgar language it made Kagome's ears burn. Kirara reached him first, with Kagome not too far behind, peddling her bike with all her might. The miko jumped off the bike as it was still moving and it crashed to the ground. She hardly even noticed.
Sango was the one that asked even though she was sure she already knew the answer. Still, she questioned him once his cursing had stopped. "What's wrong, Inuyasha?"
He didn't answer, but no words were needed. He glanced at Kagome and her face grew very, very pale just from seeing his expression, seeing the look in his eyes. She didn't have to look over the side, she already knew.
The well was empty.
"It couldn't have… could it?" Kagome asked tentatively, watching as Sango and Miroku peered over the edge.
"Does it look like he's there?" the half-demon snapped.
He didn't mean to sound so angry with her, he was just angry in general. But it seemed whoever talked to him would get the brunt of his anger.
"He went into the well…" Miroku started.
"…which means he's in your time now, Kagome," Sango finished for him, glancing at the miko.
Shippo jumped off of Kagome's shoulder, staring down into the emptiness and a sense of foreboding filled the kitsune. "Uh-oh."
Uh-oh was right.
Inuyasha glanced at Kagome. "Well Kagome, what are you waiting for? Let's go."
She took a step toward the well, still dreading what the demon would do in her time, before she glanced back at the rest. "Are you guys coming?"
"We can't, remember?" Sango responded kindly while Inuyasha looked at her like he was sure her IQ had just dropped a few points. Then again, he didn't really know what a person's IQ was in the first place, did he? Either way, he glanced at her in a way that told her that he thought she had just said something really stupid.
Okay, now that made her kind of mad. And look who was talking! He wasn't exactly the sharpest knife in the spoon. Wait, that didn't entirely make sense either…
She shook her head to dislodge the thoughts, worse for wear with all that sleep she didn't get the night before. But it was true, only Inuyasha and Kagome were able to pass through the well… and apparently, this demon as well. Unless something had changed… but what could have changed the power of the well? Nothing she could think of.
That brought her mind to a new possibility. "Have you ever tried?"
That made them pause for a moment. They had never actually tried to go through, they had just always assumed they could not. Shippo, however, only pouted. "I tried with a jewel fragment and I still couldn't."
"Well if that demon could get through I'm sure you could too now," Kagome assured the sulking kitsune.
Inuyasha nearly stomped his foot impatiently. As it was, he gave them all dirty looks and snapped, "we don't have time for this! The demon's getting farther and father away!"
Kagome quickly handed them all a jewel shard, telling them all to at least try. If it didn't work, no harm, no foul, right? Inuyasha rolled his eyes and with an exasperated sigh, jumped into the well with all his patience used up. Kagome followed moments later.
Sango gathered Kirara in her arms before exchanging a knowing look with Miroku. The monk then offered her a charming smile. "Ladies first."
Sango scoffed at his words. "You're only saying that because if it doesn't work, then I'll be the one to hit the bottom and find out," she told him wryly.
His face held genuine surprise, making her almost take back her words. He hadn't actually thought of what she said and he'd never wish harm on any lovely young lady. "Well then I'll—"
The demon slayer shook her head and stood on the edge, though there was slight smile on her face. She knew he hadn't meant it, but she interrupted, "too late, monk," before she jumped in, Kirara held tightly in her arms.
Miroku watched her go with carefully concealed worry, but a light appeared halfway through her descent, engulfing her. He frowned, however, when he saw it. The white light that appeared wasn't the same as the one that usually took Kagome back and forth between times. Something was wrong here, but he didn't know what.
He pushed the thoughts away before jumping in, knowing that they wouldn't do him any good at the moment since he had no answers. Besides, he couldn't begin to understand how the time travel was possible anyway. What did it matter what color the light was?
Shippo watched the thoughtful monk disappear before descending himself, all the while praying he'd be able to go through. There was a moment where everything seemed blurred and his stomach churned with discontent. He was sure he hadn't made it, but when he opened his tightly shut eyes and looked upward, he saw Kagome smiling down at him from the top.
He quickly scrambled up the side and launched himself at Kagome. "I made it! I made it through!"
She hugged him just as tight. "Yes, you did."
Inuyasha broke up the touching scene by taking hold on Kagome. Both her and Shippo were put on his back as he muttered, "we don't have time for this."
Miroku's gaze was on the gaping hole in Kagome's family shrine. "How do we know which way it went?" the monk asked, his voice dry.
Without another word, Inuyasha took off with Kirara and her two passengers only a second behind. Those that had not been to Kagome's era before marveled at the sights as they passed, but they did not have the time to sightsee. Inuyasha was keeping a fast pace, following in the direction Kagome could feel the shards.
They ran through a forest in the outskirts of the city, Inuyasha beginning to pick up the demon's scent. He dodged out of the way of trees and their branches, following where the scent was strongest. A large house came into view, and ancient looking one. The bricks that made up its exterior were mostly chipped and broken. A few of the windows were destroyed and green vines that had grown up the walls crept their way inside through the gaps. And there, on one of the sides, was a large hole, newly made.
"He's in there," Inuyasha said, jerking his head toward the long forgotten mansion.
Two days they had been in the mansion and everything was… well, normal. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Even Kuwabara, Mr. Sensitive, didn't feel any bad vibes from the place. This was the so-called "haunted house" that people had disappeared from? It was more likely they didn't want to leave. They were too busy living the life of luxury in the gigantic mansion.
This is going to be an easy two weeks, Yusuke thought, lounging back on the couch. Well, aside from the fact that Botan would nag him to death before they ended. She kept telling him to check out the house, explore it. Check out what? Nothing was even remotely wrong.
Her cheeriness was also getting on his nerves. It would have been fine if it was just the guys but, no, Koenma had them bring the girls along too. Yusuke had concluded Koenma, the little sneak, probably only did it so that he could go on a vacation of his own or something along those lines. Then he wouldn't have to worry about what his Spirit Detectives and the girls were up to when he wasn't keeping an eye on them. Boy, was he going to get an ear-full in two weeks' time.
The mansion was big enough so that they all got their own room and although there were many hallways of rooms, they decided to stay together, since supposedly it was a haunted house. Now the seven of them sat together in a particularly large room with quite a few couches, though the furniture hardly took up much space in the room, giving it an empty feeling.
"This is so dull," Kuwabara said through the thick silence. His words echoed around the room.
"So is your brain," Hiei responded. It was a cheap shot, but the insult came automatically. He didn't even have to think about it, it was a reflex action to whatever the idiot would say.
Before they could start bickering back and forth, Keiko said, "this doesn't seem like a ghost house."
Koenma had informed her what they were getting into to, but Yusuke and the others had explained more about it. She glanced nervously around the almost vacant room.
"We don't really know what we're supposed to find here," Kurama responded, to which Hiei gave a soft, "hn." That was only if they found anything at all.
"I think I'll get bored without any fighting to do," Yusuke said.
A large blast was heard throughout the room, making all of them turn abruptly toward the noise. One of the walls burst open, throwing debris everywhere and scattering it around the floor as half the group ducked to avoid getting hit. A large demon leapt through the hole it just made and instantly spotted them. It growled, a sound coming deep within its throat and the floor vibrating because of it.
Botan glared at Yusuke. "You know this is your fault for saying it."
Disclaimer: I do not own Yu Yu Hakusho or Inuyasha.