Summary: Keiko overhears a conversation between the gang that causes her to leave everything behind.
Disclaimers: Yu Yu Hakusho and everything related is not mine.
Pairings: Keiko/Yusuke Botan/Koenma Kurama/OC
Keiko Yukimura knew it was going to be a bad day. She clutched her book bag and Puu tighter to her as she ran towards school. Her light brown hair was in disarray around her face, her uniform was rumpled and slightly askew. Keiko's alarm had not gone off this morning and she only had 10 minutes to get to school when she had finally woke up. Keiko glance again at her watch and almost shrieked when she saw she was down to only 2 minutes. She picked up the pace and cut down an alley, determined to be on time.
Puu hooted a greeting from his position in her arms as Keiko finally hit the end of the alley and onto the street in front of the school. Keiko looked across the street and saw Yusuke and the rest of the gang at the gate. She smiled at the sight of her childhood friend. His black hair was slicked back, his arms folded behind his head and his normal green uniform. Puu's greeting was lost in the noise of the other kids and of the traffic and for the moment the team was oblivious to her arrival. Keiko raised her hand and began to call out a greeting when the gang suddenly turned away from the gate and she began to hear their conversation.
"So we're agreed," Yusuke stated as he looked over at Botan. "We're going to get rid of Keiko."
"You bet," Botan agreed and smiled as she tucked her hand into his arm. "I don't think it would be too much of problem, with you graduating from high school and her getting ready to start college."
"Much easier," Kurama agreed as he drew along side of them. "Keiko's is very big on her studying, correct Yusuke?"
"Studying is everything to Keiko," Yusuke agreed as he smiled down at Botan. "It will be nice to lose Miss Busy Body."
The rest of the conversation was lost in the sounds of traffic but Keiko didn't pay any attention to the noise around her. She stood motionlessly on the sidewalk, her deep brown eyes wide and dull with shock. Their words looped continuously in her mind as she stood there. The gang disappeared down the street, their words fading away to nothing as Keiko looked down at Puu. A lone tear slid down her cheek to fall onto Puu's beak. Puu hooted softly up at her, his big brown eyes staring up at her sympathetically. His face a study in misery as he tried to snuggle closer, his soft hooting a comfort as his ears wrapped around her arms.
Keiko pulled Puu closer to her and wiped the tear from his beak. "Is that really what they think Puu?" She asked him as she turned away from the school. "Am I such a bother that they are plotting to get rid of me?" Puu only hooted softly at her and snuggled closer to her. As Keiko slowly walked back home, a plan began to form in her mind. It was the last day of school anyway and she didn't have to be present at her graduation ceremony to get her diploma. She had recently got an offer from Harvard to come study there. When she had first received the offer, she had dismissed the possibility. Yusuke was here and they had already been separated too many times.
Now that Keiko knew the gang was tired of her hanging around, she no longer had a reason to stay in Japan. Keiko looked up at the sun shining brightly in the clear blue sky and made her decision. It wouldn't take that long to fill out the forms and get accepted. In just under a week, she would be gone. Her arms tightened around Puu and a determined look crossed her face. She could fool them for a week. They would never know anything was wrong, especially if she was just too busy. A sadistic smile crossed her face. Let the games begin, Keiko thought to herself as she entered her house.
Keiko quickly filled out the forms and expressed mailed them. She then placed a call to Harvard University and received confirmation from them that her spot was on hold and they would await her records. Next she returned to the school and talked to her principal and informed him of the change of plans. The principal looked at her oddly, but Keiko didn't notice. She had no way of knowing that her decision had begun to change her.
Keiko's warm, open brown eyes were now cold and closed. The smile that normally graced her features was gone and was replaced with a blankness that sent chills up and down the Principals' spine. He wondered what had happened to make her change so radically since she had left yesterday. For the first time he began to understand why Uremeshi listened to this girl. There was a hidden strength to her that spoke of her determination to never break. As he finished agreeing to everything and signing the necessary forms, he watched Keiko walk out the door, taking in the grace and poise she hadn't had yesterday. As she disappeared from his view, he heard the secretary call and greeting and for the first time, he didn't hear an answer. A sad expression crossed his face as he realized that something precious had died within Keiko.
Keiko moved quickly now that everything was in motion. A quick call to the airport had her flight scheduled and luckily enough she had just renewed her passport. Puu hooted softly from his position on her desk as she began to sort everything. A suitcase was dragged out and placed on the bed. Keiko looked over at Puu and smiled softly at him, for the first time since that morning her eyes softened. She held out her arms and he flew over to her and snuggled into her embrace. She rubbed her cheek against the hair on his head and closed her eyes.
"I'm going to miss you, Puu," she whispered to him. "You have to stay here with Yusuke and make sure that he is protected for me." Keiko placed a kiss on top of Puu's head, "Please Puu?"
Puu hooted an agreement and allowed her to place him on her bed. He watched with sadness in his dark eyes as she continued her packing. The blank expression returning to her face as one suitcase was filled and she moved onto the next one. For the next couple of hours, Puu was the only witness to Keiko's packing.
It was just past 4:00 when Yusuke and the rest of the gang finished with the quick assignment. They were walking home when a loud voice was heard behind them.
"Hey Uremeshi!!!" Kuwabara yelled as he raced down the street towards them.
"Look it's the idiot," Hiei stated and stepped out of Kuwabara's way as he tripped on his own two feet and fell face first onto the concrete.
"Jeez, Kuwabara," Yusuke chided as he bent down to look at his friend, "haven't you learned how to walk yet?"
"Stuff it Uremeshi!" Kuwabara yelled up at him as he braced himself on his hands. "I was in a hurry." He defended huffily as he made it back to his feet.
"Why?" Kurama asked as Kuwabara brushed at the dirt and dust on his clothing.
"It's about Keiko," Kuwabara explained.
"What about Keiko?" Yusuke growled as he grabbed Kuwabara's collar.
"She wasn't in school today," Kuwabara explained as he tried to pry Yusukes' hands off his collar. "Word around school is she went in for a meeting with the principal midmorning and then left immediately afterwards." Kuwabara finally managed to break Yusuke's hold and tumbled backwards.
"That doesn't sound like Keiko," Yusuke said as he gazed off into the distance. He couldn't help but worry about her. She was the one thing that kept him sane, that was why they were plotting a way to make sure she stayed behind on this latest mission. He couldn't take the chance that she might get hurt.
"You are quite correct," Kurama stated as he glanced over a Hiei and received a quick nod of his head. "Perhaps we should try and find her?" Kurama asked as he looked back at Yusuke.
"Definitely," Yusuke agreed as he ran a hand through his hair and frowned. "Of course, it would help if we knew where to start," he mused as he pulled at his lip.
"Why don't try her house first Yusuke?" Botan tossed in as she leaned around him to look at the rest of the group, her blue hair bouncing cheerfully around her face as she did so.
"Might as well," Yusuke mused as he began to walk towards the Yukimara's shop. His thoughts were chaotic and he didn't seem to notice anything around him. Why would Keiko skip school? Even on the last day, Keiko was always at school, cleaning and organizing. And he knew for the fact that Keiko was supposed to make a speech and that several of the teachers wanted a chance to speak with her about it.
Sometimes it amazed him that they had managed to stay friends for so long. He could still remember meeting her when he was 2 and looking into her big soft brown eyes and knowing that everything he would ever need was there. It had seemed so right at that time, Yusuke had never thought to question the feeling. Yusuke couldn't help but smile at the memory. Nothing had changed since; she was still the only thing that mattered. He knew it and she knew it. The fights and the nagging meant nothing at the end of the day because they loved each other.
Which was why he couldn't let her go with him on this next mission. It was too dangerous and he needed to know that she was safe. Now he just needed to come up with a way to convince her of that fact.