Crimson

Ahknee/Kitteen

A/N: Aiya ... well, hello there, four-day weekend. Pleasure to meet you.
Many thanks to every reviewer thus far for this revision! I love you all! You ghost readers, too!

.:Chapter 4: The Other Girl Who Leapt Through Time:.

Minako hummed lightly to herself as she rocked on her heels, waiting for her bus to arrive. The decision had been made, and she would go and hunt down Rei, not returning until she was fully able to drag the other female back to the rest of the group.

Artemis, who had taken refuge inside of the tote bag she'd slung over her shoulder, peered out from the top.

"Mina," he muttered, "why did you volunteer me for this?"

"Because, you're my partner, Art!" she grinned down at him. "Wherever I go, you go. We're a team, silly!"

"I hope you prepared well for this trip," he grumbled, ducking back inside her bag as the bus pulled up.

"Ah, but of course," she continued to grin to herself. She'd packed lightly, assuming her search for Rei wouldn't last over a week. Minako was a great detective sort, after all – no sleuth could outwit her, the great (former) Sailor V!

Well, that's what she kept telling herself as she began to hum one of her favorite spy tunes.

--

If she'd been the type, Kagome would've been gnawing her fingernails down to the cuticles over the matter of where Rei had managed to magically disappear off to.

'Okay, if I were her, where would I be?'

All logic in the question became null when she realized she didn't know her cousin's behaviors well enough to accurately guess where she'd gone, and it certainly wasn't like she had the time to sit around trying to figure it out.

Outside of the shrine, Minako twirled her old Crescent Compact around in her hands.

"So," she grinned, checking to make sure there wasn't anyone around. "It's been a while since I've had to use this, huh Art?"

Said white feline stuck his head out of Minako's tote bag, gasping for air. "Mina! It's too stuffy in there! Leave the top open a bit more next time."

"Right, right," the blonde laughed. "Well, what should I disguise myself as? Hmmm..."

"Are you sure that's necessary?" Artemis frowned.

"Well, I do wanna come back here later, and it'll look iffy if I'm the same both times!" she rationalized. "I mean, c'mon, I wanna look like an average visitor, right?"

"... right." For once, she was being sensible.

"Okay, let's see here, what schools did we pass while we were on our way here?"

"Not like I could've seen them," Artemis huffed as she thought. "Can you even pass off for a teenager anymore?"

"Of course!" Minako pouted. "Are you calling me old? I'll have you know-"

"I get it!"

"Good," she grinned. "Now, Crescent Moon Power Transform! Make me a student!"

"Please, be more original," Artemis muttered under his breath. The now-transformed Minako smiled down at him, oblivious to his comment.

"So, how do I look? Like my teenage self, hm?" She flicked her hair over her shoulder, giving a cute little wink to emphasize her point.

"Perfect." His reply was monotone. She ignored him and, dusting off her skirt, made her way up the last few steps to the shrine grounds.

"Y'know Art, being a bit less snarky would totally help you out in life."

--

By nature, Rei was of an easily irritable disposition. Sure, she had some nice part buried deep down inside her, squashed beneath a few layers of skin, muscle, and sarcastic remarks, but it took a good person to will that out of her.

Jaken was not the sort of being to will that kind part out of her.

It was only obvious that when one certain Sesshoumaru made his entrance into the campsite that he would find Rei practically bearing her claws and Jaken brandishing his staff at her in a semi-menacing fashion while Rin stood off to the side, an innocent bystander who would most likely end up swept into the hurricane that was Rei and Jaken.

It was also obvious that the two would cease their petty argument as soon as one certain Sesshoumaru entered, as neither party wanted to feel the wrath he would most undoubtedly smite them with.

The only effect Sesshoumaru's presence had upon the two was the separation effect; hence they retreated to different sides of the camp and started to glare at each other.

If he had been the less composed sort of demon and not some grand lordly fellow, Sesshoumaru would've certainly done a little facepalm as he heaved a great sigh of annoyance.

As he was, Sesshoumaru settled for taking a seat against the tree that he had staked silent claim over when camp had been set up earlier during the day.

Jaken had taken to muttering under his breath while shooting what he supposed were furtive glance at Rei, but she easily caught them. To her, his subtlety was worse than Usagi's.

"I heard that," Rei snapped dangerously from across camp, sending a scorching glare only she was capable of at the stout demon. "Wanna come over here and say that to my face?"

"If you didn't appear so fiendish to my eyes, I would!"

Sesshoumaru, from his silent spot against the tree, could see the vein starting to throb on Rei's forehead. Rin, having taken notice of the highly dangerous air floating about the area, ran over to seek some shelter in Sesshoumaru. Understandably, he allowed her to take refuge a couple of feet away from him.

"I dare you to say that again," Rei hissed.

"You're ugly!"

"Oh, that's it!" Rei heaved a rather formidable rock at Jaken's person. He squawked indignantly and attempted to dodge it, but failed to expect a second rock flying at the space he had fled to, receiving a hefty blow upon his forehead.

Rei cackled quietly to herself in victory. From her safety spot, Rin shuddered with fear. This side of Rei was not one she wanted to see often.

With Jaken suitably unconscious according to all medical laws, Rei settled back down in her spot, brushing off imaginary dust from her shoulders as she did so. Rin continued to stay in the safe(r) presence of Sesshoumaru.

It seemed like it would take a while for Rei and Jaken to arrive at a truce where neither would end up rending the other limb from limb or some other horrible fate that involved some painful torture and possible disembowelment via sharp tree branch.

--

Minako was crouched down in the shadows of the tree surrounding the Higurashi shrine and residence, Artemis on his haunches next to her as she spoke quietly into her communicator.

"'Operation: Ninja?'" Minako could hear Ami sigh off in the background. Usagi's visage laughed on the small screen as the blue haired girl's rant continued. "Really, Mina, at least be a bit more original with your titles..."

Minako merely laughed nervously.

"Anyway," the female dubbed V-babe by her companions continued, "I did a bit of snooping while the old man was giving me a tour of the shrine earlier today. And really, what's with old grandpas and working at ancient shrines? Is it like the cool trend for old men or-"

"Mina!" This time, it was Makoto.

"I think they want you to explain what you've found," Usagi laughed nervously as she glanced to the side. Maybe the remaining two primary guardians were threatening her to get Minako to explain more.

"Okay, well, using my mad sleuthing skills-"

"More like common sense-"

"-this old shack on the property-"

"-old man wouldn't show you it-"

"-pretty suspicious, y'know?"

"-requires that much thought."

Minako and Artemis found themselves simultaneously glaring at each other.

"Punk," she huffed, pouting at her feline companion.

"Minako, if you would kindly continue your explanation." Ami had apparently wrenched the communicator from Usagi's grasp during the small issue between woman and cat.

"Oh! Right!" she grinned. "Well, the shack kinda gave off this weird sort of energy. It felt real familiar and all but I couldn't put my finger on it. I guess it was a déjà vu energy vibe?"

"That's all?" the blue haired brainiac sighed dejectedly. "Nothing else?"

"Oh, yeah, I found two very familiar faces," the blonde smiled, suddenly turning her communicator to the ramshackle shack she'd spoken of. "Rei's ... erm, lovely crows!"

"Good. Anything else?"

"Well, I'm here to investigate the thing more now," she huffed. "I just figured I'd shout an update to you guys before I did anything in case, y'know, I have issues."

"Which we know you'll have," Artemis muttered darkly.

"Oh, hush, you!" she bopped Artemis on the head, and he yelped in pain, pawing gently at his now injured skull.

"Please try and be thorough," Ami sighed again. "And contact one of us as soon as you find anything remotely important, alright?"

"Gotcha!" Minako winked, flashing her trademark V sign before cutting off the link. She grinned down at Artemis. "Well? Ready for some action, Art? It'll be just like the good ol' days, just you and me!"

"Right, the good old days..." He continued to nurse his injured head, wishing he could find it in himself to utter a curse upon his dearest friend.

--

Ami sighed as the handed the communicator back to Usagi. "Do you really think she'll be able to pull this off without us having to send in backup?"

"I'm confident," Usagi nodded as she stuffed the communicator away. "Really."

"Well, I guess if Usagi's fine with it..." Makoto shrugged.

"Give Mina some faith," Luna chipped in. "She's matured quite a bit over the years."

"Yeah, as in she's stalking less celebrities."

"Indeed," Ami shook her head. "Well, if she needs backup, we can't afford to send anyone else out. It would leave you too defenseless, Usagi."

"We could always contact Haruka and the others," Usagi pouted. "I'm sure they'd be willing to help."

"What, in a matter like that?" A frown crossed Ami's normally passive features, her brows knitting together and causing her forehead to crease. "Usagi, you know how they are. They have their own lives to attend to. We can't simply ask them to drop whatever they may be doing for a simple search and retrieve mission."

"But we wouldn't be!" Everyone could practically see the light bulb flick on over Usagi's head, and the look that spread across her face said that she thought this plan she had made was foolproof. "I could just ask them to become my primary guardians while I send you guys off!"

"Usagi, you know that's not what they've been trained to do," Luna sighed. "They're all combat specialists. They're supposed to keep everything away from you from a distance, not close-up. If they don't continue working to improve their skills in their particular field, then we could very well destroy our primary defenses for the future."

"Luna, you worry too much."

The feline sighed. Once Usagi set her mind upon something, she was pretty much set until it all panned out her way,

--

Rei found herself shocked when a sudden noisy beeping began to come from the pocket of her relatively ruffled clothes. All eyes focused upon her and she grinned sheepishly.

"Pardon me for one moment." And with that she dashed off for the shelter of the trees. Once in the sanctuary of the forest, she yanked her communicator out of her pocket.

"Oh Rei!" Sailor Venus chirped in a singsong voice through the device. "I've found you!"

"... Mina?" The raven-haired girl was stunned stupid.

"That's right! The great V-babe is here to recover you and bring you straight back home!" the blonde cheered. "So, tell me where you are, how to get there, and we're set!"

"... Mina, you do realize that you'll end up getting lost here, right?" Artemis' low grumble was picked up by the communicator and Rei sighed.

"I can't exactly figure out where I am, you know," she began. "Even if I did, I couldn't tell you how to get here."

"Huh, bummer," Sailor Venus frowned in thought. "Well, could ya tell me exactly where I am?"

"I'd wager we're in the past," Rei replied. "... how did you even get here?"

"Oh, Usagi and the gang sent me to find you!" she beamed. "I just investigated your cousin's shrine grounds, found that suspicious looking well, and jumped-"

"-more like tripped on the stairs and fell-"

"-right in!" Venus easily ignored her feline counterpart's grumpy remark.

"Uh ... huh ..." Rei trailed off. "I think you should go back through the well."

"What?" Venus almost shrieked. Rei could hear the distinct cawing of a few crows in the background, probably disturbed by the blonde's voice. "No, no, and no! I was given strict orders to not return until I had you in tow!"

"Everyone's really that worried about me?" she murmured.

"Yep! And, you'll be really proud of me, too."

"Why?" The odd look spreading over Venus' features was worrying Rei.

"Your crows came with me! They almost pecked out my eyeballs on the way through that well, I'll have you know," Venus grumbled as she turned the communicator to the two crows perched on the edge of the well. "I reckon you owe me a few free shrine prayers for that."

"... right."

"Well, whatever. I'm gonna do my best to bring you back! I am the great Sailor V and nothing will stop me!" The blonde had a look in her eye that said she was not giving up. Rei was all too familiar with that stubborn look. "In fact, I think I'll see if your dear Phobos and Deimos are willing to scout out the area for me."

"They won't listen to you," Rei quickly butted in. "They're very set in their ways and refuse to listen to anyone but me."

"Then tell them to do it!"

"What? I'm not about to send my pets out into this crazy world where they could possibly die!"

"...what could kill them?" Sailor Venus frowned.

"Demons."

"Ahaha, you're real funny Rei. Seriously, though, afraid a cat's gonna get them? Maybe a fox at worst?"

"I'm serious here," she snapped in response. "Apparently demons were commonplace back in this day and age."

"R-really?" Sailor Venus had dealt with much in her day. Robbers, common criminals, various monsters, humans turned to the dark side, and even other sailor soldiers. She hadn't been pitted against anything like a demon yet, and she wasn't really quite sure she was ready for that, if the waver in her voice was any indication.

"Really," Rei affirmed. "which is why you need to take Phobos and Deimos and hurl all your asses back through the well before you get seriously hurt."

"What about you?" Artemis' voice piped up as he squeezed his head into the screen's view.

"I'll be fine," Rei assured, "I've found some people to travel with, and I doubt anything will disturb us."

"Are you sure?"

"Of course."

"I'm gonna stay here, mind you," Venus shoved Artemis' head out of the way so she could have Rei's full attention again. "I'm not leaving you here to get randomly mauled to death by some rabid creature, got that? I'm not as tactless as I appear, y'know."

"Mina!" Rei snapped.

"No way! Usagi gave me a mission and I'm gonna see it through to the end. I'm your leader and you have to put up with my decision to stay here and look for you, got it?"

"You'll get killed out here!"

"Well, you haven't!" Venus frowned. "I'm going to find you and that's that. I'll give you a ring when I can."

And with that, the link was cut. Rei could've just hit the orange button that was for contacting the blonde, but decided against it, as her temper had flared despite how calm she had appeared during the conversation. Shoving the communicator away, she made her way back to camp, only to find Rin looking at her expectantly while Jaken was failing to maintain a look of indifference.

"What?" she snapped, storming off to her own little area of the camp and plopping down to take a seat. Jaken, already having been on the receiving end of her wrath, decided not bothering her would be a wise idea. Rin, on the other hand, knew she would be able to get away from the raven-haired woman's temper unscathed, and made her way over to the fuming female.

"What was that weird noise?" she asked, making sure to throw in the big pleading eyes of innocence. Rin knew the power that this particular look held; it had earned her more than enough wins over Jaken in the time she'd been around him, and she figured putting it to use here would easily score her a victory.

"Nothing," Rei grumped in response. Rin frowned, realizing her attempts were not working. She upped the ante a notch, forcing her lower lip out in a mild pout. Rei's anger seemed to dissipate a touch, and Rin did a mental victory cheer.

"Where'd the noise come from?"

"My pocket," Rei replied. "You don't need to worry about it."

Sensing she was getting somewhere with this, Rin continued to pour on the cute factor. "What made the noise?"

"It's nothing," she replied. "Please, don't bother with it any more."

Rin realized she probably wouldn't get anywhere else with this conversation, and her attention over the matter was starting to waver a bit. Deciding to cut it short, she beamed at the older woman before prancing off with a light 'thank you' tossed over her shoulder.

It was then that Rin decided she'd never fully understand adults and their stubborn ways.

--

Kagome shoved the final snack food into her book bag with great effort, and when she stepped back to admire her handiwork, she found herself tempted to cry. The yellow monstrosity (for it was, in fact, the largest of its kind) stared back at her, almost sending her a cry of 'why do you do this to me?!'

And she really did wonder, why did she do this to the poor thing? How had it not ripped at the seams from being stuffed so full that is looked ready to burst?

It was one of the greater mysteries of life, Kagome decided, and she would be better off not knowing why the poor thing hadn't gone and exploded on her.

Sniffling pathetically, she (literally) dragged the book bag out of the house while her family sat back and watched. They feared the backpack. It was an enemy. They had vowed not to touch it for fear of immediate death by a broken spinal chord.

They were smart in that choice.

As Kagome finished heaving the poor carrying case into the shack and to the well, her mother approached her.

"Dear, we'll keep looking for Rei while you're busy," she sighed softly. "But please try to hurry back to help us. It's trouble enough for your grandfather to make excuses for your prolonged absence from school, alright?"

"Gotcha," Kagome nodded, heaving the backpack onto the edge of the well with a grunt. She wiped a thin layer of sweat off from her forehead. "I'll see if I can make it back in a week or so?"

"That sounds good," her grandpa nodded sagely.

"Okay then, I'm off!" she shoved the backpack over the side of the well as she climbed onto the ledge. Waving, she pushed off and let herself fall in.

On the other side of the well, one Sailor Venus would've been chewing on her perfectly manicured nails had it not been for the gloves (and her beauty sense) impeding her.

"Art, what do we do?!" she practically wailed. "We're in the middle of the past – which means no plumbing, mind you – and we lost Rei's crows! DO THE FATES HATE ME?!"

Artemis had clapped his paws over his ears in an attempt to drown out the woman's moaning. Waiting until she was done listing off her grievances, he finally spoke.

"Mina," he began, not bothering with the title her current state of being called for, "First off, CALM DOWN!"

She sniffled and looked at him, obviously working on her nerves.

"Secondly," he stared straight at her, "that well's glowing."

"What?" Venus spun around to stare at the well she'd previously been using to lean against. Her eyes did meet the glow of the well, which faded away when she blinked. "Whoa, trippy ..."

Artemis rolled his eyes.

Sailor Venus stood up, dusting off her sailor skirt as she did, before slowly starting to peer into the well. She almost fell back in shock.

"Holy crap there's a girl in there!" she pointed an accusing finger at the well as she inched away.

"You don't say?" Artemis grumbled. "I mean, it's how we got here, isn't it?"

"Oh, hush," she sent a glare his way before leaning back over into the well. "Uh, hello down there?"

Kagome, from the bottom of the well, was surprised to hear an unfamiliar voice call down into the well.

"Wha-?" when she glanced up, she almost doubled over. "Sailor Venus?!"

"Oh, hey, you know my name!" Venus grinned from the top of the well. Her eyes landed on the enormous backpack that Kagome's hand loosely clutched onto. "Do you ... need help with that?"

"Hm?" Kagome glanced down at her book bag before laughing nervously. "Oh, uh, yeah, that'd be great."

"I'll be back in a jiff, Art," Venus grinned back at her companion before leaping into the well. She was half-surprised it didn't light up again with the effects of the time-travel ... effect or whatever it was (she wasn't quite sure on the proper name for it). Lugging the backpack up with ease, she leapt back out of the well as Kagome began her climb up the vines.

As soon as Sailor Venus emerged from the well, Artemis began his lecture.

"How do you know she's not an enemy? She could very well be-" He was cut short, however, as Kagome hefted herself up from the well. Her average appearance was enough to signal to the feline that he was not to talk in her presence.

"So," Venus grinned, completely ignoring Artemis as she turned to face Kagome. "What's your name, since you're so well-acquainted with mine?"

"It's Kagome," Kagome replied, smiling broadly. "Thanks for the help!"

"Oh, it's no problem," Venus waved her hand.

"But I've got a question ..."

"Hmm?"

"... why are you here?"

Venus shot Artemis a nervous glance, and he just glared at her, not willing to drag her out of this problem.

"Well," she began with a slightly nervous laugh, "you see..."

.:Fin:.

For the record, I'm getting to be an unmotivated bum. I have to apply to colleges. And purchase my graduation gown and cap. Ohoho, I am not a slacker, I swear!

Vote in my profile poll, you punks, or I'll be forced to take drastic measures.