Yu Yu Hakusho
In a dark corner behind McDonald's Tokyo, a girl with tousled teal hair sat, knees pulled up to her chest. Clouds of steam emitted when she breathed, ragged frost tinting the air. Screams of sirens echoed in the street outside, and she closed her eyes. It was an accident. The human had grabbed her wrist while she was walking through the crowd, and in her panic she had emitted a frost that had frozen his veins, causing them to burst. He had died in an instant.
They would be coming soon, she knew. All she had to do was wait.
Yusuke ran toward the source of the panic, wondering what had happened. Koenma had told him that a girl had killed a human in the middle of a crowded street before running away. As he stood in front of a brick McDonald's, he felt a chill in the ninety-degree weather. Yusuke powered up the Spirit Gun as he rounded the corner of the building. In the shadows of the Dumpster, he saw a small figure crouched. She watched him, eyes dull.
"Well, aren't you going to fight?" Yusuke demanded. The girl shook her head slowly, eyes half closing. "What's with you?" The girl blinked, climbing to her feet slowly. For the first time, she spoke in a rough whisper.
Koenma stood as the pair entered his office. The girl didn't even look up as he began to speak.
"Why did you kill a human?" He was answered by a dull silence. "Aura Lena Frost, did you hear the question?"
"Quite well. It was an accident."
"That's all? You just happened to kill a human in the middle of a busy street in Tokyo before running away?"
Aura looked at him evenly. "Yeah, that's about the gist of it."
"You do know that the penalty for such a crime is death?" Aura nodded. "Well, quite a few people noticed. I'm seriously considering it."
A dry laugh passed Aura's lips. "That may be the best news I've heard all day." Yusuke stepped sideways nervously, away from Aura.
Koenma looked at her oddly. "Either that, or you could travel with the Spirit Detective."
Aura glanced at Yusuke before falling to her knees, begging. "Kill me now."
The door opened to admit a ruffled Botan.
"The older Toguro's gone AWOL on us." She snapped.
"Aura, I will give you a second chance since you have no previous convictions. Yusuke, she's joining you."
Aura opened her mouth as if to say something, but stopped herself. She turned on her heel, following Yusuke out the door.
"So let me get this straight. We're going to the Dark Tournament again, and now we've picked up another girl. Except, oh wait, this one's on crack."
Yusuke shook his head at Kurama. "No, she's not on crack."
"Hn," Hiei grunted. "You mean not just crack. She reeked of cigarettes."
"How are we supposed to get her into shape? She's a suicidal druggie that happens to be stuck with us."
Hiei and Kurama glanced at each other. "I think we have a plan."
Early the next morning, Aura was awakened by the sound of running water. Curious, she crawled out of bed and peeked into the main part of the hotel room. Nothing was there. She shrugged, turning to her dresser. As she opened the drawer, an enraged shriek echoed through the room. Eyes burning, she flew out to where Hiei sat staring out the window.
"Where's my stuff?"
"I'm shocked you had the initiative to get out of bed, let alone get out here. Tell me, is being in a continual drug induced haze what made you a complete dump, or is that just your bed head look?"
"I asked you where my stuff is!"
Kurama leaned over the couch. "We have two months until the Tournament, Aura. You are a mess. You haven't washed in years, you are clinically depressed, and you are not fully trained. We're starting small."
Kurama held up a brush and bottle of shampoo. "We're going to wash you like a disobedient cat."
"No! I don't want a bath!" Aura whined as Kurama dragged her toward the bathroom. Hiei walked behind, grinning.
"I don't think you have a choice."
Kurama dumped her into the water filled tub, freezing her with a paralyzing seed. Aura sulked as he shampooed her head, washing layers of dirt into the tub.
"There are plants growing in here."
"No there aren't! Liar!" Aura cried.
Hiei stood back, amused. Kurama washed her face, arms, feet, and legs before pulling the plug on the drain. Aura was thoroughly annoyed, and attempted to storm out the door before Hiei stopped her.
"You're not done yet."
Kurama held her down while Hiei annihilated her hair with a blow dryer. By the time he was done, she had a frizzy mess. Kurama brushed it down, flipping out the ends. "See now, that wasn't so bad."
Aura crossed her arms, glaring up at her tormentors. "What are you going to do now, take away all my clothes?"
"Yusuke already burned them all while you were in the shower. Oh, and by the way, he got something for you." Kurama held out a prescription bottle, which Aura accepted.
"Zoloft? You got me Zoloft?"
Hiei nodded to the door. "Look, here's you fashion consultant."
Sapphire had blue hair that flowed down to her waist, and intelligent sapphire eyes peeked out from behind her bangs. A black, skintight shirt hugged her slim figure, and pants flaunted her slender legs. Aura could literally feel her buzzing with positive attitude as they checked into the hotel, and even when the great debate began she still glowed with a smile.
Aura was dragged behind a screen, where Sapphire proceeded to remove all of Aura's clothing except her undergarments. Sapphire held up a pair of jeans. Aura shook her head. Sapphire held up camouflage cargo pants. Aura nodded, grinning.
Aura stepped out, showing her new shirt and cargoes off to the boys. Kurama gave her an encouraging smile, and Hiei simply grunted.
"See, Aura? Zoloft can make any rain cloud disappear with only one pill a day."
The Debate started with Yusuke and Hiei trying to claim separate rooms. They had two hotel rooms, and the original plan was boys with boys, girls with girls. Kurama offered to be with Yusuke, and Sapphire attached to Hiei. Keiko and Aura stared at each other for a long moment.
Suddenly Aura pulled a fifty out of her pocket. "Hiei, please have mercy for Yusuke by sparing his life. If I share a room with him, he will surely die."
Hiei grinned evilly. "Don't you want a room with Superman?' He nodded at Yusuke.
Aura gestured rudely. "Kiss my ass, short stack."
She slammed into the hotel room followed by a grinning Yusuke and stern Kurama.
In the hallway, the three could hear Aura's voice. "Cool! They have a Subwoofer Stereo!"
That night loud music throbbed through the hotel, emitting from the room where Aura, Yusuke, Keiko, and Kurama played cards. Aura shuffled the cards in rhythm to D-12, dancing around while the others played. Kurama put a handful of coins in the center of the table, and something caught Aura's attention.
"These are fake!" Kurama bit down of one, and it easily broke in half. He stood.
"I'll be right back."
Kurama banged on the hotel room door, shouting over the music for Hiei. Receiving no reply, Kurama opened the door and stepped in. The scene before him froze Kurama in his tracks, shocked.
Hiei and Sapphire were on the sofa, backs to Kurama and the door. They were locked in a passionate embrace, and didn't notice the intruder. Kurama backed out slowly, closing the door. He leaned on the wall outside, letting the pounding bass of the stereo absorb what he had just witnessed. Kurama didn't hear the door open beside him, and when Hiei suddenly stood in front of him he jumped.
"H- Hiei. I was just walking down to ask about-"
"Yeah, right. You suck at lying, you know."
"I won't tell anyone, I swear."
"Become attached to your precious voice box, I see." Hiei turned away.
Aura came down the hall, yawning. "Bedtime, peeps." Kurama glanced back at Hiei before following Aura down the hall.
Hiei followed with Sapphire, joining all the others in their room. To the shock of all in the room, the two kissed in front of everyone. Hiei noted that Aura stormed out with a flushed expression, while Kurama glanced after her worriedly before letting it go. One after the other, everyone went to bed except for Aura. She hadn't returned when Hiei slipped out into the garden when every one was asleep.
Sapphire and Hiei had been together altogether for a year, keeping their relationship secret from their friends for twelve months now. Sapphire was extremely hyper, which sometime got on Hiei's nerves, but the two opposites balanced perfectly. Sapphire went into the garden of the hotel, unable to sleep after the romantic evening with Hiei. Ahead, she heard footsteps. She climbed to the top of a trellis to get a better view. Sapphire could see the moonlight glinting off of teal hair, followed by a shorter figure.
"Aura Lena Frost, the heartbroken winner. Every newspaper picked up your story, and told the hero's tale of little victory. Was it true what they said? If you hadn't screwed up that last move, Shiguri would have survived? Are you going to cry now, Aura? Shall I play my violin? A sad song, maybe one best to remember dearest Shiguri by? What was your wish? That it hadn't happened? Oh, I remember! You were too ridden with guilt to make a wish!"
Aura turned to him, voice steady. "You don't know anything about what happened."
Hiei laughed. "I know that it was your fault he died."
Aura stumbled backwards, as though slapped. "You bastard." She threw her momentum into a punch, but Hiei dodged her blow. Aura skidded on the dirt, skinning one of her knees. Blood dripped down her leg onto the dirt, hardening into clay. Ice crackled outward from Aura, coating the garden with crystal frost. Sapphire ran toward the hotel as fast as she could. If she didn't make it in time, Aura was sure to be harmed.
Sliding on a pathway of ice, Aura circled Hiei. "Touché, Hiei, an insult for an insult. Your darling sister, per say. I do say she is quite the weakling. Either that or more humans overpower demons than previously thought." A punch of massive strength tossed her into the air, slamming into a lattice of frosty roses. Aura rubbed her cheek as she climbed to her feet. "The right side of my face is numb now, you know."
"You're going to have a black eye."
"Really? Cool." Aura sent ice rippling across the space between herself and Hiei. Hiei dodged her attack, destroying it with Fist of the Mortal Flame. Aura leaped into the air, avoiding his second attack. A front handspring twist sent her over Hiei's head, and the crucial moments while she was airborne were just enough time for Aura to change form. Her tail flicked playfully as she landed in a crouch. One fang showed under her lip as she grinned at Hiei, and her ears pricked forward, the tufts of gray fur at the ends moving slightly. Her fingernails were a brilliant teal, and were sharp like claws. Hiei looked her up and down, beginning to untie his bandana. His Jagan eye opened, and eyes began to appear all over his body. His skin turned green, and Aura felt a binding force pull her up, feet barely on the ground. She pressed down the panic in her chest, keeping a grin on her face.
"Show and tell, huh?" Hiei began to unwrap the bandages on his arm, but before he finished, Kurama tackled him from behind. Yusuke stood, ready to use his Rei gun to assist, but Hiei stood and brushed himself off.
"She's not worth it."
"Kiss my trigger happy ass!" Aura yelled after him. Kurama went to help Aura to her feet, but she spat angrily at him.
"Don't touch me!" She ran off into the garden, moonlight shining on her white fur.
Kurama stood outside the back door of the hotel, watching the stars. Hiei walked out of the door, his pace quickening as he neared the garden. Kurama watched him go, shaking his head. Wherever he was going, he would be back soon.
Hiei walked briskly through the garden maze, eyes flashing with impatience. As he reached the iced over location of the earlier fight, he paused as a glint of gold attached to a shredded ribbon caught his attention right before he stepped on the bell. He lifted the bell, pulling threads out of the ring. At that instant, a poodle walked by with a brand new collar on its' neck. Hiei grabbed the dog, silencing its yelps with a hand around its muzzle.
Aura stood on a rock in the middle of a stream, frosty crystals dancing across the water. A grand piano stood in a pavilion nearby, and when Aura sat down at the bench and began to play she closed her eyes.
Your dearest Shiguri, it seems, is out of commission.
Shiguri, Shiguri, no!
Hiei stood at the entrance, leaning against the support frame. In his hand was a blue collar, a tiny bell hanging. Aura stood so suddenly, the bench fell.
"What do you want?"
"I got you a new collar for your bell." Hiei held it out to her.
Aura eyed the token suspiciously. "For what?"
Hiei stared at the bell in his hand, turning it over. "It's odd that such a small token is so precious to you."
"Yeah, well, everything has a reason, you know. And it isn't odd at all, at least it wouldn't seem so if you knew anything about me."
"Then there must be precious few people who know anything at all about you." Aura slumped against the piano, hands on her ears.
"Shiguri Aminoto was his name. We competed in the Dark Tournament, and we made it to the finals. It was a two on two battle. I missed an attack, and Shiguri was killed. Nothing else to it." Hiei nodded, silent. Aura slammed a fist on the piano. "Just say it, dammit. You think it's my fault."
Hiei returned Aura's angry gaze, calm. "You speak like it happened to someone else."
"But it did. I'm not who I was back then, you know. Aura Lena Frost used to dress nicely, speak politely. She used to know what true love was, what it was to trust someone completely, no matter what, and to have that trust returned." Aura pulled her knees to her chest, making herself seem smaller, vulnerable. "In an instant her whole life changed. Shiguri died. Aura lost what little love for the world she had. She cut her hand, and swore on that blood that she would never again be at fault for a friend's death. What better way to keep that vow then to have no friends?"
"Doesn't it always seem to go that you don't know what you have until it's gone?"
To her surprise, Hiei began to speak. "My mother was an ice demon, and my father was a fire demon. I don't know who he was. I was what you could call a forbidden child, and my mother's friend threw me off the island to save my life. She gave me a tear gem, and I wore it on my neck until I lost it years later. I came back to the Island a short time ago. My mother committed suicide after she lost me."
The two stood in silence for a long while, reflecting. Aura whispered a line from a song as her eyes filled with tears. "Took all the trees, and put 'em inside a museum, and they charge the people a dollar and a half to see 'em."
Two crystals hit the piano, sending clear notes through the pavilion. Embarrassed, Aura scrambled for an excuse. "Darn allergies, always make my eyes water." Hiei picked up the two gems, placing them on the collar. Aura placed the broken chain she had found in the stream in his hand.
"Some memories are best remembered."
The next morning Aura was awakened by Hiei and Kurama bursting into her room. Kurama flung open the curtains, letting the sun shine onto the bed.
"Rise and shine, morning glory!" Kurama chirped. Hiei pulled a suitcase into the room. Aura snarled at Kurama as he tried to pull the sheets off of her.
"Go 'way, dreamin' about heated kitty bed t' sleep in."
Kurama finally wrenched the blankets off, but Aura was still curled up in her pajamas around a stuffed cat. One of her ears was relaxed, but the other twitched as she dreamed. Her tail was curled up over her nose, and her collar was still in place, though loosened. Her mouth was slightly open, and the tip of her tongue stuck out between her front teeth. In her sleep, Aura muttered.
"No, 'guri, don't wanna get up. Stop it; it's too early to get up. Kitty needs sleep-"
"You're getting up NOW!" Hiei and Sapphire poured a jug of ice-cold water over Aura. The girl literally flew out of the bed, landing on the dresser. Her ears hung next to her head in damp annoyance, and her tail puffed outward in shock. Kurama grinned as he took in the sight of the surprised girl.
"It's time to start training, 'Kitty.'"
Sapphire dragged Aura down to the third floor forcibly, her annoyance showing in the position of her blue ears. Aura was literally clawing at the carpet, trying to get leverage against her captor.
"Let go of me!"
Sapphire's foxtail swished impatiently. "Immature brat! Look, if you don't come along now I'll get Hiei to drag you down."
Aura was more subdued after that, and Sapphire turned to warn her as she knocked on a door downstairs. "Mind your manners with Toya, you hear me?"
Aura grinned shamelessly. "Toya? Like Boya Toya?"
Sapphire growled menacingly as Toya opened the door.
"Hey, Toya!" Sapphire chirped. Aura tried to make her exit, but Sapphire roughly grabbed her tail. Aura hissed angrily, and Toya looked to Sapphire.
"Is she always like this?" He inquired.
"Yeah, pretty much. Aura's an odd one." The three went inside, seating themselves on couches.
Toya began to talk to Sapphire, but Aura tuned him out and began to think. Why is he wearing silver? Could he be gay? Perhaps I should ask- But in a subtle manner. Maybe how his girlfriend is? Yeah, I'll ask that, it's better than saying he's a fag.
"Are you gay?" Aura blurted. Everyone froze, shocked.
"I beg your pardon?" Toya calmly replied.
"Do you go for other guys? Ow!" Sapphire delivered a sharp smack to the back of Aura's head, blushing a brilliant red.
"I'm sorry, Toya, Aura's very immature. Honestly, sometimes she's just like a kitten herself."
"How old is she?" Toya inquired, studying the sulking Aura.
"Only a hundred, I think. She hasn't told us."
"I'm older than that!" Aura protested.
Sapphire glanced sideways at her. "Yeah, I'm sure. By how much?"
Aura mumbled something. "Louder, kid."
"A hundred fifteen!" Aura snapped. "How old are you, bossy?"
"Three hundred thank you very much. No, don't you dare say it."
Aura sulked, glaring at Toya. Sapphire sighed.
"I'll leave her to you, Toya. Have fun. Tell me how it goes, it will be interesting to see who leaves unscathed."
As the door closed behind Sapphire, Aura continued to glare at Toya, who stood and walked toward her.
"Hiei wants me to train you, and I owe him a favor."
"Wow, I'm enthused. Let me contain my joy."
"Well, by the end of the day your enthusiasm will drastically decrease. If you train with me I will most certainly be sure that you are in control of your powers. Do you understand?"
"No. I know how to control my powers, and I have since I was fifty at least."
"Has it occurred to you that the reason your powers are going haywire is that your power has increased, therefore leaving you with the ability to control your former amount of power yet unprepared to maintain your current abilities?"
Aura stared at him, plainly confused. "What'th huh?"
"Never mind, you wouldn't understand it anyway."
"I got it, I understand, but how?" Aura's ears perked up, and her tail twitched with curiosity.
At that instant, Toya's girlfriend Mica stormed in.
"Who is that little skank, Toya?" She snapped.
Aura snarled angrily at the insult, and Toya replied calmly. "I have taken on the task of training her for the day."
"You know what, she's right. I'm intruding. I'll go now." Toya grabbed Aura by the collar as she tried to make her exit.
"Nice try. We'll be back this evening, Mica." As soon as the pair was out the door, Aura began to pull at her captor. Toya, thoroughly tired of her antics, bodily lifted her from the floor by her collar and carried her out of the hotel, Aura kicking and cussing all the way.
That evening, just before the sun began to set, a knock sounded at the door of the hotel room. Kurama answered to find Toya literally dragging an exhausted Aura. Toya dumped Aura onto Kurama, who smiled.
"Thanks, Toya. How did she do?"
Toya groaned. "God above, if I had to spend another day with her. She learns fast, even if she does complain the entire way through. Mica and I were about to head up to the roof, would you like to come along?"
"Hiei and Sapphire headed up a few minutes ago. See you up there."
Kurama stepped out into the main room to find Aura draped upside down over the couch with a Pixie Stick Giant in her mouth.
"What are you doing?"
Aura laughed, standing up. "These things have so much sugar in them it's like I haven't spent the last ten hours training!" As she laughed, she inhaled sharply before coughing violently.
"Are you alright?" Kurama asked.
"Inhaled my gum." Aura gasped.
"Come on, then. Let's head up to the roof." He ruffled Aura's hair teasingly before walking out the door.
Up on the roof, the couples were enjoying the sunset in peace until Aura and Kurama arrived. Aura, running on her sixth Pixie Stick of the evening, chattered ceaselessly. Hiei, thoroughly annoyed, remarked to Kurama.
"What is she running off of? And how long until she stops?"
Kurama shook his head. "Ninety percent pure sugar, ten percent artificial flavoring, and the crash is sure to come soon." At that moment, Aura yawned widely and stretched.
"Getting tired?" Yusuke pressed. Aura shook her head.
"No, why on earth would I be tired? I feel great! I could go for hours and hours and hours and-"
With a thud, the kitten like girl fell to the ground, asleep and snoring quietly.
Hiei grinned. "Finally, now we can have some fun." He and Sapphire proceeded to begin making out, soon to be joined by the other couples. Kurama sat back after arranging Aura so her head was off the gravel of the roof. A few minutes later, he looked down to see Aura with her head snuggled against his leg while she had curled up beside him. Kurama laughed and patted the little feline on the head. A loud slam echoed over the roof as a girl exited, eyes burning with rage. Her hair was ebony, and her skin had a tinge of lavender.
"You there! Kurama, I assume. I'm Aza. You killed my boyfriend, Karasu, last year, and now I am here to let you know that I intend to exact revenge!"
"The vampire wannabe had a girlfriend? I thought he liked Kura-" Keiko was cut off by Yusuke covering her mouth with a hand.
"Instead of killing you, I'll teach you the pain you caused me. Killing your little sweetheart there, for instance." She gestured at the peaceful figure of Aura, smiling in her sleep. Kurama, startled by the misinterpretation, sat in silent shock as Aza left. His face turned a brilliant scarlet.
"I think I'll take her downstairs now." Hiei and Sapphire stared at him as Kurama picked up Aura before heading down the stairs.
Kurama pulled the sheets down before placing Aura in the bed, pulling off her shoes. As he began to pull the sheets over her, Aura cried out in alarm, sitting up. Kurama grabbed the panicked girl by the shoulders.
"It was just a dream! Aura! Aura!" She threw her arms around Kurama, shaking.
"He was so cold, and he wouldn't stop bleeding, and it was so hot, burning my hands, it wouldn't stop-" Kurama held her tightly, shushing her.
"It's fine, Aura. I won't let anything happen to you. It's fine. Get back to sleep." Aura relaxed and lay back down. Kurama pulled the sheets over her, stroking her hair gently as she fell asleep. Once her breathing had slowed, Kurama stood. As he left, closing the door quietly behind him, the shadowed main room emitted Hiei's voice from the couch.
"You shouldn't baby her like that, Kurama." He snapped, sitting in shadowed dark of the room.
Kurama sighed, sitting on the couch beside Hiei. "Innocence such as that girl's is rarely found in our kind, you know."
"She will have to grow up sooner or later, Kurama."
"The question is why? Why do we teach children death and murder?"
"Because it is survival of the fittest, Kurama." Hiei stood, heading toward the door. He paused, looking back at Kurama. "It's our nature, Kurama, as it has been since time began. Eventually Aura will grow up to be like every other demon before her, just like you and I and Sapphire did. A piece of advice for you; Don't get attached to your kitten sweet there. Soon enough she will figure out that the world is not a place for ribbons and candy." Hiei hesitated. "I don't want to see you hurt by unrealistic expectations of Aura's innocence." He slammed the door behind him, leaving a silent Kurama behind.
The next afternoon was a scramble as everyone prepared to leave for the boat. Aura, once she had packed her bag, climbed atop the armoire and sat watching the activity below. Just before they left, Aura hopped onto the luggage cart, grinning. Hiei, nonplussed, pushed it down the hallway sharply with a kick. Aura yelped, stopping in front of the elevator. Sapphire shoved the cart in the elevator, holding the door open for the boys. Aura pressed all the buttons on the panel while Sapphire was distracted, and as the door closed she grinned. It was going to be a long trip down.
Two hours later the sun was setting over the ocean, and a crowd of menacing shadows waited on the shore. Aura leaned back against Sapphire, yawning.
"Tell me a story, Sapphire." Aura mewed. Sapphire sighed, giving in.
"Well, alright. A long time ago on the Island of the Mortal Flame, a little girl was born. Thirteen years passed, and the girl's mother began to realize that this little girl was different, for she possessed the powers of the Dark Flame. Now on the Island it is forbidden to bear a child of the Dark Flame, so the mother attempted to kill the little girl by throwing her off the edge of the island. The little girl saved herself by burning her mother to death, leaving for the human world. For many years she killed mercilessly, until one day she fell in love. The downfall of many great demons. The girl turned herself in to be with the one she loved, and now she stays by his side always. She fights, goes to tournaments, and tells stories to bored little girls!" Sapphire playfully ruffled Aura's ears, waking up the half asleep girl. "And now the ship is here, so we have to get on or else nobody is getting to the tournament. Come on, kid." Aura trotted obediently behind Sapphire, yawning and staring around at all the demons, who glared back ominously. Kurama helped Aura sit on the railing as the ship prepared to leave port, sitting beside her.
"This is the part where I take my exit to the restroom. Be right back." Yusuke dashed off, leaving the others to watch the red sun set over the sea.
As dark fell, the intercom frizzled on to project the voice of the captain. Aura was draped gracefully over the railing, and her ears perked in the direction of the voice. She had long since lost interest in the assembly of demons around her, and as it was that nobody had a piece of string she was forced to endure the boredom. The announcer droned about preliminary rounds, and Yusuke grunted.
"We all know what's going to happen, so why do they bother?"
Aura groaned, rolling over onto her back. "Be right back. Yusuke, where's the loo?"
"It's slang for restroom. Never mind, I'll find it on my own."
As she jogged into the crowd, a hulking green creature laughed. "Look at the kitty cat!" He mocked.
Aura straightened herself, indignant. "I've been in litter boxes that smell better than you. The lice in your hair are dying from the stench." She nimbly jogged away to the restroom.
On deck Yusuke and the others witnessed the first of the preliminary battles before chaos broke loose. Yusuke sent a demon flying, and it landed in a corridor where the restroom was. Aura, still in the restroom, tried the door to find it impossible to budge.
"Urgh! Open- up!" She threw her weight against the door, grunting. The top moved, but the bottom stayed still. She backed to the far wall, bracing herself. With a leap, she pushed off the wall and slammed into the top of the door, sending it flying outward with her on top. Rubbing her shoulder, she stood to see three figures blocking her exit.
"Here, pretty kitty." They chuckled. Aura sighed, rolling her eyes.
"Hey losers, beat it. I don't feel like kicking your butts tonight."
"Oh. What're you going to do, scratch me? Meow, meow, hiss!" One mocked. Aura snarled, hands tightening into fists. Her ears went flat to her head, and her pupils narrowed into feline slits.
"The cutest cats have claws, you overgrown bacteria."
Kurama was looking down the deck when two spindly demons soared out of an opening, followed by an extremely furious Aura. The two stood, but where hit hard with a punch from Aura. She used one's momentum to chuck him over the railing and a kick sent the other after him.
"Who's a pretty kitty now, scumbag?" Aura shouted after them. Behind her, a huge green demon lurched toward her. Kurama almost called out, but was distracted by Yusuke and an opponent. When he turned back, Aura was standing with her back to her attacker, who had a fist raised. As the fist came down, Kurama was sure it would hit her. Moments later, a familiar voice chirped.
"If you don't intend to take a bath soon, you might want to attack from downwind. I could smell you coming, you giant cockroach."
Aura stood on the railing of the bow, examining her gloves. Her attacker charged, but Aura ignored the impending threat. He hit the railing at high speed, but Aura was already in the air. The railing snapped, and he disappeared over the edge. Aura grinned, but moments later she lurched backward, hands snatching the rail. The demon had grabbed her tail as he fell, and his mass was pulling her toward the water below.
"Let go!" She cried, struggling to keep her grip.
Kurama stepped forward, but Hiei stopped him. "This is her battle."
Aura's fingernails scraped on the railing, and she took a deep breath. "I warned you!" With a shriek, one hand fell, leaving her barely dangling from the edge. The demon yanked one final time as Aura sent out a deathly frost, bursting his veins. As he fell, Aura's hand slipped, and for a terrible moment she fell in space before she hit the water hard. She gasped as the sudden cold of the water hit her skin, and she paddled ferociously to stay afloat. A piece of the railing was in the hull of the ship, and she grabbed on before the ship could get out of reach. A rope dangled down, and Aura snatched it, clinging on as she was pulled onto the deck. She shivered miserably as her tail and ears hung completely drenched, and as she crawled onto the deck she shook herself, sending a spray of water over Yusuke. Aura glared at him.
"N-next t-time, d-don't th-throw stuff in f-front of the d-door." She stuttered through chattering teeth. Kurama wrapped Yusuke's coat around her shoulders, grinning.
"Cats really don't like water, then."
"Not when it's colder than freezing point." Aura mewed firmly, shaking her head once again. Kurama pulled her gloves off, as well as the brass knuckles. She cringed, grinning shamefully. "Heh, heh. Where could those have come from?" Kurama looked down at her sternly. She looked up at him with her big blue eyes, mewing pitifully and rubbing her head against his shoulder.
Kurama laughed, hugging her playfully. "I should get a leash for you, you little troublemaker."
"At least you'd never lose me." Hiei and Sapphire rounded the corner, followed by Toya and Mica.
"Hello, Aura." Toya greeted her. Aura jumped, hiding behind Kurama. She waved, peeking out from behind Kurama.
"Hi. Five feet away, please."
"Well, at least you remember your training." Toya nodded at Hiei. "You said that you wanted me to train her as the tournament proceeds?"
"Of course." Hiei grinned as Aura whimpered.
Kurama looked down at her. "It's good for you to improve your abilities."
"I know, but it's so hard." Aura whined.
"You have to work to get better at anything, Aura. Who knows, if you work hard enough, one day you could be as good as Toya."
Aura's ears perked, betraying her excitement. "Really? That good?"
"If you work at it." In the distance, the shore of Hanging Neck Island was visible. The lights of a huge hotel twinkled as the ship drew near.
Mica and Aura had been getting along famously, the elder of the two finally giving in to the kitten's affectionate approaches. Sapphire, Mica, and Aura decided to share a room in the hotel. Aura had seemingly permanently attached herself to Kurama, following him everywhere. She helped with the luggage, carrying it to the rooms. As everyone prepared to go to bed, Aura went to look for the vending machines.
Aura had inserted her quarters into the machine, yet it still refused to surrender the can of soda. She had tried everything, from the classic arm up the dispenser to the shake the machine to scream into submission, and nothing had worked. She was kicking the side of the machine when a pair of powerful arms slammed her face first into the metal surface. Aura turned to see her attacker, who shoved her back yet again, holding her captive against the soda machine. Aura didn't recognize the girl with short black hair who was grinning maliciously at her, and struggled against the powerful grip.
"What do you want?" she cried in alarm.
Aza smiled a malevolent smirk, showing sharp fangs to her victim. "You no longer need that useless little soul of yours. It has been awhile since I enjoyed the soul of a fellow demon." Aza put a hand over the girl's throat, tightening her grip until Aura's windpipe creaked under the pressure. Aura choked, struggling for air. Aza laughed at the terror in the girl's face, slamming Aura's head into the wall with such force that her eyes began to water.
"It hurts, doesn't it?" Aza hissed, releasing her grip on the girl's throat. Aura whimpered, trying to edge away. Aza kicked her kneecaps, sending her to the floor. Aura bit back a cry of pain as she slumped against the wall, panting. "Pitiful. Most of my victims take longer to frighten than this." Aza hauled the girl to her feet by her hair, ignoring the gasp of pain. "Aren't you going to scream for your friends?" Aura glared at Aza, defiant.
"Never." Aza delivered a hard punch to the side of her head. Aura bit her lip. Aza sighed.
"Let's put a quick end to this game." Aura's eyes widened in terror as a chill invaded the surrounding air. Against her will, her gaze locked with Aza's, and Aza inhaled a hissing, slow breath. Aura felt the room around her fade into white oblivion, leaving only the pair. Her head felt as though she had sucked too much helium, and invisible weights pulled at her limbs. Aura cried out as she felt her soul being ripped from her body. Her eyes lost focus before she sank to the floor, letting out a sharp breath before darkness encompassed her, and she knew no more.
Upstairs, Sapphire sat straight up in bed, breathing heavily. On the couch, Hiei looked over at her. Sapphire stood, opening the door.
"I feel like getting a soda, I'll be right back."
"Get me a Coke while you're there." Hiei called after her. As she left, he wondered why she had looked so morose and serious.
Sapphire strode quickly down the hall, each step echoing in the dimly lit hallway of the hotel. When she reached the stairwell to the floor below, she leapt over the railing to land at the base of the stairs. Down the hall, dim light shone from the small vending machine room. Sapphire was about to walk past the room when a flash of teal caught her eye. She turned to see the limp figure of Aura next to the vending machine, eyes staring blankly into space.
Sapphire knelt beside the lifeless girl, brushing aside the teal hair to reveal pale, dull eyes. Gently, she closed Aura's eyelids.
I was right. Aza has stolen her soul. She slammed a fist into the wall, denting the brick with the force of the blow. Aza would be long gone by now, in whatever room had been assigned to her team. Sapphire laughed as she saw the dents in the side of the machine where Aura had beat the machine mercilessly. Kurama rounded the corner, talking.
"Hiei sent me down to see where his soda was, Sapphire. It's been twenty minutes since-" He froze as he looked behind Sapphire to see Aura, fur shining in the light from the pop machine.
"Aza got her." Sapphire shakily whispered. Kurama lifted Aura into his arms, turning away.
"We have to find Aza, before it's too late."
"I apologize, miss. I am unable to disclose that information."
"I'm going to disclose your servile ass through the wall! What room is Aza Kaminuri in?" Sapphire roared at the attendant.
"As I told you before, I am unable-" Sapphire stormed away, seething with rage as the clock in the lobby boomed midnight. The elevator took her to the floor the room was on, and she found the door open. Inside, Hiei and Kurama sat on the couch, with Yusuke pacing the floor.
"I swear to God, if I have to deal with another servile mouse. They refuse to tell me what room she's in."
Hiei looked at the clock, grunting. "Hn. We need to rest before tomorrow's battles. The odds are that Aza will be at the tournament opening."
"We have twenty four hours to find her and get Aura's soul back!" Yusuke cried, frustrated. "We need to keep looking!"
Kurama put a hand on his shoulder. "I would keep looking if I didn't know that my ability to fight tomorrow is what we will be depending upon. We need to rest in order to get her back."
"How can I sleep?" Yusuke shouted.
Hiei smirked. "I would be glad to assist, as long as you don't mind a headache from where I hit you."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means what it sounds like." Kurama replied, heading for the bedroom. "In the morning you should all be prepared to fight, so get some sleep."
Later, when all the others where sleeping soundly, Kurama went into the room where Aura's body lay, breathing slowly as though her soul were still present. He put a hand on her head, watching until the sun rose into the windows of the hotel.
In the arena the next morning Team Urameshi went face to face with Team Kaminuri. Kurama carried Aura in his arms, and Sapphire was burning with heat as they met in the center. Aza laughed at the sight of Aura lying in Kurama's arms.
"Missing something, Sapphire dear? I never have been one for foreign foods, but I do say the soul of a snow leopard kitten is quite satisfying, especially when steeped in pain and fear. Children are so easily frightened. And the shout of pain when you wrap your fingers around their throat, feeling their heart rate triple as their supply of oxygen is cut off. Defiant little things always refuse to cry out for help, but in the end they always scream-" Aza was thrown to the ground by a hard punch from Sapphire, who was surrounded by tinges of dark flame that scorched those around her.
"You're sick. Attacking when you knew she couldn't defend herself is despicable." She punched her again, harder this time. Aza's lip began to bleed.
Hiei calmly spoke. "Have patience, Sapphire. You'll get your kill."
A cruel laugh echoed from Aza, sending the entire stadium into silence. "You fool. You think you can win this? The cat is as good as dead. If you do rescue her soul, the issue will be trying to prevent one of my friends from destroying her body."
Sapphire kicked her harshly in the ribs, snarling. "Stand and defend yourself. Prepare to die."
As Sapphire erupted in black flames, Yusuke edged nervously back.
"I think that's our cue to exit." Hiei gave him a scornful look. Kurama retreated to the end of the field, followed by the rest of the team.
Sapphire and Aza stood on the field, locked in a staring contest. Dark flame roared around Sapphire as Juri, the referee, started the match. In an instant, Sapphire was on top of Aza, hands around her throat.
"Not so tough when you're opponent can fight back, are you?" Sapphire kicked Aza in the stomach, sending her sliding backward. The force of the blow made Aza begin to heave dryly. Sapphire laughed. "Still not giving it up? Let me help you with that!" She slammed into Aza full force with her fist, slamming her into the wall of the stadium. Aza vomited a mist like substance into the air before grimacing.
"There. You won."
"Who said I was done?" Black flame tinted the air about Sapphire, who was grinning maliciously.
Across the stadium, Aura stirred in Kurama's arms. She yawned widely, blinking sleepily.
"Where are we?"
Sapphire's hair blew away from her back, revealing a tattoo of a black dragon twining down her spine. Sapphire was now blazing in dark flames, and they whirled about her as though dancing. Aza was terrified, eyes wide.
"Prepare to meet a true dragon, soul stealer." Sapphire laughed maniacally.
Aza made a last ditch effort to save herself. "I beg of you, have mercy!"
"I show no mercy to those who harm my friends." Aza screamed as the blazing furnace engulfed her. As the smoke cleared, Juri looked around.
"It looks like a fighter is missing! One-"
"She's not coming back into the ring unless the breeze blow her few remaining ashes this way." Sapphire turned, walking out of the arena.
"And Team Urameshi is victorious for our first round!"
Aura looked around. "Where's Aza? And the Coke machine- I wanted a Coke, but it wouldn't come out and then-"
Kurama laughed. "Why don't I buy you a Coke when we get back to the hotel tonight?" Aura stood, totally puzzled, as he hugged her tightly. "I'll buy you as many Cokes as you want." Sapphire came toward the group, smirking.
"So you're finally up, kid. Took you long enough."
"I'm so confused." Aura scratched her ears, puzzled.
"Who will be our next fighter?" Hiei snapped, silencing the group.
"The last battle would have been captain versus captain." Yusuke added.
"Due to unfortunate circumstances, Miss Kaminuri will be unable to accept a challenge from Yusuke." Sapphire jibed, leaning against the wall.
Mica stepped forward, looking bored. "I suppose I should go instead of waiting around here."
Her opponent was a humanoid slime creature, dripping gunk onto the arena. Mica tsk'ed disapprovingly. "Now I have to clean up this mess." She blasted the sludge demon with a blast of water, sending the muck flying everywhere. Sapphire put up a barrier around the group, intentionally excluding Aura. A wave of brown mud covered the less than enthused girl, who wiped her eyes off to show her annoyed glare.
"Thanks ever so for the mud bath."
Sapphire shrugged. "Darn it, I thought I had missed someone." Hiei grinned, amused. Kurama bit his thumb to keep from bursting out laughing at the dripping cat. Aura grinned mischievously, walking over between Sapphire and Hiei. Sapphire looked at her nervously. "What are you doing? Wait, not here- Ah!" Aura shook the muck off of herself, sending it flying over Sapphire and Hiei. With a grin she walked away toward the door. Hiei and Sapphire followed, snarling. Kurama looked at the two mud soaked demons, turning towards the door where Aura was exiting the arena.
"Start running!" Aura took one glance behind her before dashing out, Hiei and Sapphire on her heels.
"I just got these clothes cleaned, you imbecile." Hiei called after the girl.
Kurama shook his head, turning back to the fight. Yusuke scratched his head, laughing. "Wonder if she'll be in one piece by the time we finish this."
"Sapphire and Hiei wouldn't hit hard enough to do any permanent damage."
"Permanent as in…?"
"No missing limbs or brain damage, and they'll probably avoid the spinal cord. Otherwise, anything will go." Yusuke flinched.
"Ouch. So I guess we consider her to be a fighter down?"
"We can hope she keeps running. Who knows, she might actually only get a few bones broken."
Aura sniffed the air cautiously, trying to detect any scent of her hunters. She crouched on a branch, jumping from tree to tree as she made her way toward the hotel. As she jumped onto another branch, Hiei's voice made her jump.
"Going somewhere?" He was reclining at the base of the branch, Sapphire standing on a nearby branch. With a yelp, Aura raced away at top speed toward the hotel.
"Speed of a leopard, speed of a leopard!" The tree she had just been on smoked from heat created by Sapphire. "Never mind leopard, just run like hell!"
Aura burst into the hotel lobby at full tilt, fur frizzing slightly from nerves. She slid around the corner leading to the elevators, looking behind her. With a shout, she collided with a red headed boy. Aura twitched as she lay on the floor, sprawled from her crash. Her vision cleared as the boy leaned over her, laughing.
"Ai, what's a wee lass like ye doin' runnin' through the hotel like a whirlwind in June?" The boy spoke so quickly that it took Aura a moment to respond.
"I'm really sorry about that, I'm running away from Hiei and Sapphire, because if they catch me I am so dead because- Wait a second, that's awesome! Dude, how do you talk like that?" She paused as Toya walked up behind her.
"Oh, thank god it's you! I thought it might be Hiei or Sapphire coming-"
"Why would they be chasing you?"
Aura grinned sheepishly. "No reason, who said they were chasing me, why on earth would they chase me, heh heh, um, who's the dude with the awesome talking?"
Toya looked down at the girl. "Talented change of subject, Aura. This is Jinn. He's the wind master. And his accent is Irish."
Toya looked at her incredulously. "You've been to the human world, you must know."
"I was only in Tokyo, alright? It's not as though I went to school or anything. Why do I need to know that anyway?"
"Let's look at it this way, Aura. You are stubbornly hard set on not learning anything you don't feel like learning, as I would know. Shoving one attack down your throat took the best of twelve hours, and most of it was wasted on you insisting on some ridiculous argument or another. If you had just listened we could have been done in four hours. I would hate to see you stuck in the human world having to ask for directions."
"Are ye training the lass then, Toya?" Jinn laughed.
"What is that supposed to mean? Both of those, the laugh and the other thingy."
"The laugh and the advice were both insults to your competence." Toya informed her. Aura, annoyed, sat down.
"Oh, boo hoo. You shouldn't tease her so bad."
Aura rolled her eyes. "Let me guess. That chipper blue haired ditz is standing behind me." Botan seethed, patting Aura on the head.
"Oh, you sweet little girl-" Aura jumped away, behind Jinn.
"Don't touch me, please. You're a little too chipper for my taste, and whatever's wrong with you might rub off on me."
"You know not everyone is a pessimist like you! Maybe if you acted happy more often you would have more fun with life!"
"I'm not the one flying on a broom working for a kid half my age! Oh yeah, I don't have to work at all! Ha ha ha! And my hair's natural! Dye job! Dye job!" Aura shouted in laughter. Botan flew at her.
"Take that back! It is natural! It is!"
"Stop- strangling me! Ack! No fair biting!"
"Get off of me! No scratching!" Botan shrieked. Toya and Jinn looked on with amused expressions. Aura was bodily lifted from the fray by her collar.
Hiei grinned. "Fancy meeting you here, Aura. And here Sapphire and I were about to go up to the hotel room to find you."
Aura laughed nervously. "Hey guys, what's up? I would totally love to stick around and chat, but I have to go elsewhere."
"Really? From the looks of it your only appointment is to get your ass kicked by us. What a coincidence!" Sapphire and Hiei dragged her away, laughing.
Kurama walked up to the group assembled in the hallway. "Have you seen Aura recently? And was she in one piece?"
Aura ran past; tail smoking as she skidded into the elevator. Hiei and Sapphire arrived just as the door closed behind her. Kurama and the others stared at the dirt-covered pair with wide eyes.
"Something to stare at over here?" Hiei snapped. Sapphire slammed into the stairway, snarling.
"She can only go up from here!"
"Maybe you guys should just let it go?" Kurama suggested. Suddenly Hiei grinned sadistically.
"I have an idea."
Aura sat against the elevator wall, panting. A lurch and a groan followed by flickering lights signaled the stop, and Aura groaned in frustration. "Not now!" The door in the top of the elevator opened before Sapphire and Hiei jumped down.
"We have a job for you."
Aura whimpered pathetically.
As Kurama dumped a sleeping Aura into bed, the red numbers of the clock flashed eleven o' clock.
"What did you do to her to make her so tired?" Yusuke inquired. Sapphire grunted.
"We made her wash the mud off the clothes."
Hiei smiled slightly. "Then we gave her a bath. In the ocean."
Sapphire laughed. "It's amazing how long she can hold her breath." Kurama rolled his eyes as Yusuke and Kuwabara entered.
"Aren't you a little late?" Hiei snapped at Kuwabara.
"My sister made me late, okay? It's not my fault."
"Pity she didn't get rid of you for us. Everyone get some rest before tomorrow." Hiei left the room, Sapphire trailing behind. Kurama stretched.
"He's right. Good night, everyone."
The next morning the team was rushing about, getting ready. Sapphire shouted. "Where's my blow dryer? Kayko, where's my blow dryer!"
"I don't know! Botan! Get out of the shower!"
"Kuwabara! Get out of bed! Where's Aura?" Yusuke yelled.
"I can't find my sweatshirt! I'm not going wearing this!" Aura trilled, digging under the pile of clothes.
Hiei pulled on the navy sweatshirt, sitting in the window. Kurama leaned against the wall.
"How long do you think it will take her to notice?" Hiei jibed.
Aura growled. "Who stole my sweatshirt!"
"First fight of the day, folks! It's a beautiful day, perfect for a gore fest at the Dark Tournament, and the match is between Team Urameshi and Kaori Team!"
Aura bristled. "My sweatshirt has to be somewhere! Who has it?" Hiei grinned.
"It's been thirty minutes. She'll have to notice soon."
"Wait just a second! Why is Hiei wearing my sweatshirt?"
"A test of your complete idiocy. He's been wearing it since we left the hotel." Toya sneered. Aura pulled it on, sulking.
Hiei froze as he looked across the arena at the opposing team. Kurama followed his gaze, stiffening as he saw the source of surprise.
"What is Kaori doing here?" Yusuke yelped. Aura, completely puzzled, looked around.
"What are you guys talking about? Who's Kaori?" Kurama bit his lip.
"An old acquaintance that won't be very happy to see her replacements at all." Hiei shook his head.
"Well, I'm not going to fight her. Aura can."
"What?" She fell over in shock.
"First match! Kaori Hideo versus Aura Frost!" Aura was shoved onto the arena.
"Ready, begin!" Juri shouted. Aura hesitated.
"Just great, why me?" She muttered, sizing up her opponent. Kaori was black haired with pale skin. Her eyes were hidden by a shadow over her forehead, but she was smiling menacingly. She doesn't smell powerful in any element, but there's something else- Aura sniffed the air. I know what it is, I just can't remember!
"Stop standing there and fight." Kaori sneered. Aura jumped across the arena so fast that only a blur of color could be seen. Kaori stood her ground as Aura punched her repetitively. Aura fell back, panting.
"Something wrong?" Kaori jibed. Yusuke snarled.
"What's going on up there? Kaori is still in her human form! Aura should be kicking her ass!"
Hiei stared at the two combatants. "Something's different about Kaori-"
As he spoke, the girl blazed crimson before her demon form was unveiled. Now she had blonde hair and pale blue eyes that blazed with emotion. Aura groaned. "I'm so confused!"
"Is my replacement a little below cut?" Kaori roared. Aura growled, gesturing rudely with her hand.
"Below cut my ass, you ugly slut!"
"WHAT?" Yet again Kaori changed, this time into a black haired mature girl. Aura sighed in exasperation.
"Would you stop doing that? It's getting a little old."
Kaori laughed, pointing at Aura. A red glow lifted Aura far into the air above the arena until the teams were dots below her.
"Ah- ah!" Kaori slammed Aura into the arena yet again. Aura got to her feet gingerly.
"Oh, well that's no fun. Stay down, now." Aura was chucked into the stands. "Getting up?" Each time Aura stood, Kaori slammed her into another wall until the cat was bashed bloody. Kurama clenched his fists. Just stay down.
"That's it!" Aura snarled, still on the ground. Ice cracked across the arena, and the temperature dropped below zero. "You're going down!"
"What-" Kaori growled. Aura was behind her in an instant, and before Kaori could even react the cat bit into the back of Kaori's neck, snapping her spinal cord. She fell to the ground, dead. Aura licked the demon's blood from her lips, missing a trail running down from the corner of her mouth.
"Looks like somebody let the cat out of the bag." Hiei commented mildly as Aura jumped down from the ring. As her feet hit the ground, she stumbled, but Kurama grabbed her before she fell.
"You're so stupid! If you had even slightly underestimated her speed you would have been killed-" Kurama admonished. Aura groaned, putting a hand to her sore head.
"Look, I won, she's dead, everyone's happy, so-" The girl slumped into Kurama's arms, unconscious. Hiei watched as Kurama cradled Aura gently, looking down at her with soft eyes as he carried her out of the stadium. Sapphire stood beside Hiei, face shadowed. Hiei stared across the field at the debris of the far wall.
"The way Kurama looked at Aura-" Sapphire was cut off.
"The fool has fallen for the girl, finally. It was coming ever since she first showed up." Hiei snapped. Sapphire looked at him questioningly.
"What do you mean?"
"You'll see what I mean in due time." Hiei followed the team out of the stadium, Sapphire trailing behind.
As the team left, the stadium emptied out. A girl sat in the shadows far above the field, watching the clouds. A weasel-like creature was draped over her shoulders, covered by the girl's blue hair that flowed to her mid-back. She willed herself to the hotel, outside the window of the team's window. Aura was curled up as Kurama pulled the sheets over her, smoothing down a stray piece of teal hair. The girl ran a hand over her pet, grinning maliciously.
"Rest in peace, dear kitten."
The rising sun woke Sapphire from a deep sleep untroubled by dreams. Hiei groaned as she opened the door to the boys' room.
"Rise and shine, lovelies." She called. She waited to make sure that they were getting up before moving on to Aura's room. The lump under the sheets snarled as Sapphire threw open the shades to let the sun in.
"Good morning, sleeping beauty! Isn't it just a lovely day to get up and relax before we risk life and limb tomorrow in the next round?" Sapphire jumped onto the bed.
"It's too damn early for this." Aura groaned.
"Ooh, somebody's crabby this morning. What's with you?"
"I just had a visit from Hell's annoying wake-up fairy." Aura yanked the pillow over her head.
"Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey!" Sapphire pulled the sheets off the whining girl.
"I hate you." Aura pitifully complained.
"Good to know. Get up." Sapphire pulled the cat out of bed by her leg, dragging her along the floor to the door.
"It's a day for sleeping in. Not dealing with you." Aura mewed.
"You're going to have really bad rug burn after this." Sapphire pointed out. Aura growled, eyes still closed. Sapphire dropped her.
"Ouch! What now?" Aura sat up grumpily, rubbing her eyes.
"We're going to watch the matches today, silly!" Botan chirped.
"What happened last night while I was asleep? Why are you all so happy? Oh my god, it's a conspiracy!"
"Paranoid little thing, isn't she?" Keiko said. Yusuke walked in, stretching.
"How are you guys doing? It's a great day!"
Aura groaned, crawling back toward the bedroom. "Dammit, all of you have lost it. I'm going back to bed."
"That's what you think." Sapphire poured a glass of water over the cat. Aura sputtered, shocked.
"I'll go get dressed."
"That's the spirit!"
At the stadium, the group stood at the railing above the field. Kurama looked around. "Where did Aura go?"
The cat walked into the group from behind, a smoothie in hand. She slurped noisily at the straw. Hiei sniffed.
"What's that smell?"
Aura twirled a strand of her hair around her finger. "Hotel shampoo. It was in the shower. It does smell familiar, doesn't it?"
Yusuke smelled her hair. "Kind of fruity."
"I was thinking almost peachy, but not quite." Sapphire put in.
Kurama grinned, amused. "Peach mango, perhaps?"
"How did you know?" Everyone asked.
"It was simple. I read the label on the bottle."
"Ah. Good to know." The group resumed watching the fight, interrupted only by the slurping of Aura's smoothie. As the fight ended, Aura bristled as the hair on the back of her neck stood on end.
"We should go, guys. Like now. Want to go back to the hotel?" She pushed. Yusuke grabbed her as she tried to scoot away.
"Whoa, whoa! What's your hurry?" Aura tried to pull away.
"I just think we should go do something else, somewhere else."
"Lame excuse, Frost." Aura froze, ears back. She turned to face the girl behind her.
"Last time I checked, that would be your name too." Aura snarled. The girl flipped her blue hair over a shoulder, grinning.
"Not anymore, Cold Cat. Dad gave me his looks, his powers, and I decided to take his name. It's Simons now." The girl sneered.
"Ivy Simons? Since you're sticking to the truth of things you should change it to Bitch Simons." Aura snarled.
"Did you just ask for a bitch slapping-" Ivy stepped forward, but Kurama pulled Aura back before she could respond to the challenge. The cat fought against his grip, growling.
"Toya, would you take care of this for a second." He handed Aura off to him.
"Let go of me!" Aura screeched. Toya smacked her on the back of the head, sending her off balance. She landed on her stomach, and Toya put one foot on her back.
"I never thought of that." Hiei muttered. Toya smiled, watching Kurama attempt to mediate.
"Why don't you come back to the hotel with us so we can discuss this rationally?"
"Before I kill the little spawn?" Ivy snarled. "The company you've lowered to, Aura. Humans and detectives, although I can't expect more from the family disappointment."
"You can kiss my white leopard ass, slut!" Aura roared. Toya leaned down and whispered something in her ear. The cat glared at him stubbornly for a moment before huffing. Toya helped her sit up.
"Fine then. Let's get out of here."
Ivy draped herself gracefully onto an armchair in the hotel room. Kurama and Toya sat on either side of Aura on the couch. Aura grumbled.
"Who the hell do you think you two are, my bodyguards?"
"Guarding you from your own temper, yes." Toya stated calmly.
"Kurama! Come on!" She whined. He ruffled her hair playfully.
"Stay, kitty kitty. Good kitty kitty."
"I hate you." She pouted.
"So you want to hear the real story my sister won't tell you?" Ivy purred. Toya silenced a protest from Aura. "Well, a hundred and sixteen years ago, an ice demon decided to have a fling with my father, a respectable plant apparition. Aura was born, and my father left a few years after that. When she was fifty, bandits destroyed the village, and her mother was killed along with the rest of the village. They were after a treasure of some sort the temple in the village supposedly possessed, but I don't think they found it. I found Aura there the next morning. I took her to another village where I knew a family, and they took care of her until about fifteen years ago." Ivy yawned languidly. A slight snore came from where Aura was on the couch. She had fallen asleep in the few minutes it had taken her sister to tell the brief tale, her head falling onto Toya's shoulder. Kurama had an odd look on his face.
"What village did she live in with her mother?" He asked, voice sounding strained.
"Taiyuan's temple community, I think. Why?" Ivy inquired, genuinely curious.
"No reason." The group dispersed after that, going about their own business. Aura remained napping on the couch, troubled dreams stealing into her resting mind.
Aura had just celebrated her fiftieth birthday the morning before, her mother tucking her in that night with a kiss goodnight.
"I have sentry duty tonight, love, but I'll be here in the morning. My big girl will be fine here, won't she?" She crooned to her daughter.
"Don't go, Momma. I have a bad feeling." Little Aura begged. Her mother laughed gently, pulling up the quilts.
"Everything will be fine, hon. Just go to sleep. Good night, Aura." She put out the light as she prepared to leave.
"Night, Momma." Aura sleepily replied. Her mother went to her post, guarding the temple grounds from no particular threat. The night drew on, and as she was drifting off at her post the sharp whistle of arrows cut through the night. The guard to her left fell, an arrow sprouting from her throat.
"Attack! Attack!" She cried, arming herself with her crossbow. A group of bandits was scattered throughout the temple grounds, searching the buildings. The guards were cut down as they attacked, and the leader of the bandits emerged from the shrine's main building.
"Where is it?" The silver fox demon roared. "Search every building for it! Kill any who get in your way!" Aura's mother retreated discreetly, fleeing for her home. The fox demon caught sight of the running woman, and he followed her. Aura's mother burst into their hut, pulling her daughter out of bed and bundling her into her arms. She raced to the door, but her escape was blocked by the fox demon. Aura woke, startled by the screams from outside. Her mother pushed Aura back into the house as she was struck down. Fires illuminated the night through the doorway, and Aura felt her mother's blood spray onto her. Aura ran to her mother's side.
"Momma? Wake up, Momma!" The cat cried, shaking her mother's body. The fox demon turned, hearing the child's shouts.
"What is a child doing in a temple community?" He snarled, searching for the source of the cries. Aura scrambled away, running toward the outer edges of the village.
"Get her!" He shouted. "She has it!" A pair of burly demons pursued the girl. Aura ran through the trees, branches slapping her bare arms as she pushed through the foliage. A sharp branch sliced her cheek, and in the instant she slowed one of the demons was in front of her. Another was behind her, and she ran back toward the village having lost her sense of direction in the dark. When she realized where she had returned, she had been surrounded. The demons laughed as she tried to run past them, pushing her back to the center. Pure terror pushed up her throat, bitter acid in her mouth as the surrounding demons taunted her. The silver demon stood a distance away from the circle, watching. He waited for what seemed like an eternity to Aura and stepped forward, the demons stepping aside. He grabbed the girl by her shirtfront, lifting her feet from the ground. Aura kicked at her captor, shouting. The demons laughed at her futile attempts. She froze in complete terror, as she looked into the eyes of her captor, deep gold.
"Where is it?" Aura stammered for a moment before beginning to cry pitifully. The demon threw her down in disgust. "She's useless. Do as you will." The demons laughed, moving in. One grabbed her arm and pulled his knife down her shoulder blade, laughing as the cat shrieked in pain and fear. Aura pulled away, cradling her sore arm. An opening behind her had appeared in the circle of demons. She screamed and turned to run, but the gravel under her sock slid and threw her off balance. She slammed into the ground, rocks digging into her elbows as she caught herself a moment too late. Her head hit the ground and everything went out of focus.
Aura snapped awake to see two little beady red eyes staring at her from a furry face. With a shout, she flipped over the arm of the couch, landing hard on the floor.
"Demon!" She shrieked. Kurama put down the magazine he was reading, looking at her with amusement.
"You're a demon, you silly girl."
"I know that! But what is that?" She pointed at the fluffy thing on the couch that was still staring at her with its tiny eyes.
"It's Sapphire's. It showed up while you were asleep. And then it just started staring at you and hasn't stopped since about-" He looked at the clock. "Two hours ago." Sapphire walked in, grinning.
"Aw, did Aura meet Hinto?" Sapphire picked up the red fox like creature, which swayed its black tipped tail. "It's not like he's going to hurt you. Well, unless I tell him too."
Aura huffed, standing and brushing herself off. "I'm going for a walk. If I'm not back in about four hours- well, who am I kidding? One of you will probably be following me." Hinto hissed nastily as the girl stormed out, closing the door a little harder than necessary. The others stared at each other for a moment, waiting to see if any pictures would come off the walls.
"So who's going after her? I went last time." Sapphire asked. Kurama rolled his eyes.
"I'm reading. It's someone else's turn."
Sapphire looked at Hiei. "Don't even bother asking." He snarled, staring out the window. "Oh, and Sapphire? She's going toward the beach."
"Good to know. I'll be back later, slackers. Somebody else needs to take some responsibility for the little burden soon." She left, Hinto on her arm. The door slammed behind her. Kurama flinched as a picture crashed off the wall.
"She does that on purpose." Koenma came in the door looking rather flustered.
"Why did Sapphire practically bowl me over in the hall? And her new scarf?" Kurama and Hiei shook their heads.
"She's in a mood, and the scarf's a fox."
Koenma looked between them, clearing his throat. "Where is Aura? I have something for her."
Hiei looked out the window. "Oh, she's trying to lose Sapphire. Just go to the beach on the complete opposite side of the island from where Sapphire is."
Later that evening, Aura was on the beach watching the moonrise. She had lost Sapphire a while ago, or so she thought until Sapphire sat down beside her on the beach.
Aura snarled quietly. "Come to give me an instant counseling session? Couldn't get the others to come?"
"That's not what I'm paid for, kid. There's no talking to you when you're like this."
"So what do you want?" Aura rolled over, pushing herself to her feet and walking away. Sapphire followed.
"To follow you around until you listen to me." She answered bluntly.
"Why bother? You know it won't get through." Aura snapped.
"You're such an idiot! Would you just try to listen for once?" Sapphire was exasperated.
Aura stopped as though to think about it. "Well… No." Sapphire snarled, pantomiming twisting something's neck with her hands. Koenma stepped out of the trees, startling Aura.
"What now? They send two of you to stalk me?"
"Well actually, I had something for you back at the hotel, but since you feel that way-" Aura's ears perked up.
"Present? Let's be friends." She was next to him practically begging, looking up adorably from under her teal hair. Koenma looked down at her.
"My, how quickly you change your tune." He remarked. "It's in your room at the hotel. Come on, let's go."
Aura opened the door to her room to see a bluish tinted snow leopard kitten on the bed, gnawing viciously at what apparently used to be a pillow. Squealing with delight, she picked up the kitten and ran a hand down its fuzzy spine, scratching behind its ears.
"He's adorable!" Koenma watched her playing with her new pet.
"I thought you would get bored just sitting around all day." Sapphire came to stand beside him in the doorway. Hinto hopped onto Sapphire's shoulder to get a better look.
"Well, isn't that cute?" Sapphire remarked. "Admit it, she got you too."
"What on earth are you talking about?" Koenma asked.
"She's got everybody hooked, because she's too cute for her own good." Sapphire replied, as if that explained everything. Koenma gave her an odd look, scooting sideways.
"Do you need a few minutes to get over you conspiracy paranoia?" Yusuke jibed, sneaking up behind them. Sapphire jumped.
"I am not paranoid! Don't sneak up on me like that!" She barked.
Yusuke laughed, mocking her. "I'm not paranoid! What was that noise? They're coming to get me in their little spaceship!" Koenma snorted, leaving the room quickly. Aura went to show everyone her new cat, which was perched comfortably on her shoulder.
"What's its name?" Botan asked.
"His name's Nyaako." Aura declared. Nyaako purred proudly, sticking his nose up in the air. Kurama looked at the pair, amused.
"You two match perfectly. I can see why Koenma gave him to you. But you two need to get to bed, it's ten already."
"Aw, c'mon." Aura groaned. "Please let me stay up late tonight?"
"Growing kittens need their sleep." Kurama ushered her toward her room. Aura dug in her heels.
"My pajamas are on so I can stay up! Please, Kurama?" Her begging got her nowhere.
"Let's compensate, alright? I'll get you to sleep in less than ten minutes." Kurama bargained. Aura scoffed.
"Yeah, right. How's that?"
"I'm going to recite a beautiful poem by Robert Frost called 'Fire and Ice.' Now lie down." Aura grudgingly obliged, pulling up the quilts under her chin. "Relax, and close your eyes." He whispered the poem in a singsong voice, running a hand over her hair."Some say the world will end in fire
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice."
Aura was out before he was done. Kurama chuckled, patting down the sheets and turning off the lights.
"Sweet dreams," He whispered as he closed the door.
Almost before she fell asleep, she knew the dreams would return. Phantom pains throbbed through her skull where her head had hit the ground. She cried out, scrambling to escape from the circle her captors created. Aura reached a hand out to grab hold of something, anything, but she grasped empty air. In that instant, she felt complete and utter hopelessness seeping in, taking over every part of her being. She let her hand fall, staring at the ground in front of her, tears welling in her eyes. She endured the blows of her tormentors silently, eyes tightly shut. When she saw the creeping blue preceding dawn, she thought she was crazy. The fox demon's voice snapped at the group.
"Time to go!" He looked down in disdain at the bloodied and bruised girl on the ground. "Pitiful." He started as one of her hands grabbed onto him, and she looked up at him with her non-blackened eye pleadingly. The demon hesitated before shaking her off, turning sharply and walking away. Aura slumped, letting the sunrise wash over her before everything went black.
Aura was crying when she woke up, pains from phantom bruises and cuts adding to her panic. In an instant, Sapphire was there, hugging her tightly and rocking her back and forth in her arms.
"It's okay, Aura, it was just a nightmare," She tried to calm the girl. Aura sobbed uncontrollably, burying herself in Sapphire's sisterly embrace. Kurama stood in the doorway, watching with sad eyes.
"No it wasn't." He said softly. Sapphire didn't hear, cradling Aura protectively against enemies imagined and real. Kurama turned away from the sight, coming face to face with Hiei. He had been behind him the whole time.
"Each of us has nightmares of our own, Kurama. What is any different about hers?" Hiei looked evenly at Kurama, as if expecting an answer. Kurama walked briskly past him, almost shoving him aside. Hiei regained his composure after a few moments of shock, staring after Kurama before looking in on Sapphire and Aura. The little girl was calm again, breathing slowly as Sapphire whispered into her ear.
"Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been? I've been to London to visit the Queen. Pussycat, pussycat, what did you there? I frightened a little mouse under her chair," Hiei put a hand on Sapphire's shoulder, a silent question. Sapphire nodded in response, rubbing her head on his hand.
"She'll be fine."
"It's not her I'm worried about."
Sapphire and Hiei went out onto the roof, looking over the island covered in moonlight. After a long silence, Hiei spoke.
"So what is it that's been bothering you?"
Sapphire sighed. "It's just- I used to be the worst thing coming to you back home. I killed hundreds of people and didn't care, just enjoyed it. Now I see Aura crying like that, how scared she is, and I want to protect her, keep the world from affecting her. I didn't care about that before! I'm developing a superhero complex, and I hate it. I don't want to be the good guy." She rubbed her forehead with one hand, gritting her teeth.
Hiei looked down at her. "We all still are who we were, Sapphire. You haven't changed, you just realized a new aspect of who you are. Apparently, this aspect is a cat person."
Sapphire laughed, pushing at him playfully. "Silly!" Hiei turned as he heard footfalls behind them. Kurama leaned against the wall near the door. Sapphire, thrown off balance, crashed into the gravel covering the roof face first. Her tail stood straight, puffed out. Hiei ignored her yelp as Kurama came over to stand near them.
"What have you been moping about all night?" Hiei inquired.
"Nothing." Kurama denied.
Hiei snorted. "Ever since that Ivy girl was here you've been walking around like a scolded dog. Now tell me, what exactly is your problem?"
Sapphire sat up, ears perking with interest. "Ooh, secrets, secrets!"
The two boys looked sideways at her for a moment before continuing their conversation.
Kurama looked away, hesitating. Hiei waited patiently as his friend struggled to find the right words. "The bandits that destroyed her village- I mean, Aura's village- Well, I-"
"Stop stuttering and say it, or we'll be here all night." Hiei snapped.
Kurama gritted his teeth, clenching his fists. "I was the leader of the bandits that destroyed her village. I killed her mother." A long silence reigned; Hiei and Sapphire stared at him blankly. Sapphire snarled.
"So you were the one who let them torture a little girl?" He nodded, and she threw herself at him. Hiei jumped back as she wrapped her hands around Kurama's throat, shaking violently as she strangled him. Kurama tried to pull her off, but she was firmly attached. Hiei stared for a second before trying to pry the girl off of Kurama.
Hiei shouted at her. "Breathe, Sapphire, breathe! If you don't calm down the hotel will start to-" Black flames ignited on the roof. "burn." He finished.
The dragon began to wind its way off of Sapphire's spine as her rage increased. Everyone stopped as the door to the stairs creaked open. Aura stood there, rubbing her eyes.
"What's going on?" She mewed. Sapphire dropped Kurama, going over to Aura.
"Nothing's going on, Aura. Let's get you back to bed." As she led Aura away she mouthed a few expletives and gestured rudely at Kurama.
Hiei looked down at Kurama, who sat rubbing his neck with one hand. "Anything badly damaged?"
"My windpipe may have been crushed, but the rest is fine." Kurama replied wryly. Hiei could tell Sapphire's reaction had bothered him.
"Well, you can look at it this way. At least when Aura finds out, she can't unleash any great destructive power to annihilate us all."
Kurama shook his head. "She can never find out! I couldn't stand to see her face when she knew that I had taken away her home, her life with the mother I killed!"
Hiei stared ahead at the moon-bathed island. "Eventually she will find out. You can't hide it forever. I won't be the one to get beaten up by Sapphire when Aura does find out, either. Speak of the devil; I think I'll go find her. She might be putting a knife in your pillow as we speak." As he walked away, he looked over his shoulder. "I hear the number one assassination attempt she uses is highly poisonous creatures in the bed. Be sure to check the sheets. Have a nice night, Kurama!"
Aura woke up around noon, head hurting terribly. She rolled over, head shoved under her pillow. Kayko came in, knocking politely before entering.
"The others are at the arena fighting the semi finals. They wanted to let you sleep in."
Aura growled indiscernibly, pulling the quilt over her head along with the pillow.
"What sort of an attitude is that on such a beautiful day? I swear, you apparitions never cease to amaze me with your moods." Kayko sat at the end of the bed, looking out at the ocean. Aura looked down at her.
"What's your problem with demons? You act like- never mind." She cut herself off as Kayko glared death at her. "I want a Tylenol now."
"Get out of bed and get it for yourself. Get dressed and go for a walk or read a book."
"Why would I do that?" Aura looked at her in horror. Kayko shook her head, standing up.
"For the enjoyment. I'm sorry I was being stupid, of course you wouldn't know how to read."
"I know how to read at college level, thank you!" Aura protested indignantly.
"It doesn't show. You act like a kindergartner." Kayko sniffed.
Aura climbed out of bed, using the brush on the nightstand to straighten her hair.
"Ah, well. I guess you have your opinion, and I have mine. Are you going to stay to watch me take a shower, because that would be really weird, or watch your beau fight?"
"He's not my 'beau'!" Keiko seethed, slamming the door behind her. Aura snickered, crawling back into bed.
Around four, she came out to the empty main room, flipping onto the couch with lazy acrobatic ease. Nyaako jumped onto her stomach, curling up comfortably.
"Hey there, boy. Anything interesting going on?" She addressed the cat as though expecting an answer.
Nyaako sighed, making a low grunting noise. Aura sighed in response, pulling at the fraying sleeve of her sweater.
"On a Monday, I am waiting-" Aura murmured, grinning. "Tuesday, I am fading, and on Wednesday, I can't sleep!" Nyaako snarled gently, jumping onto the remote.
"I highly doubt they have entertaining television here. We're in the middle of the godforsaken ocean with no entertainment, not even a stereo!"
Hiei grunted, suddenly perched on the back of the couch. Aura yelped, ears back as she jumped in surprise.
"What are you doing there? I thought the semifinals were going on!"
Hiei grunted, amused. "Your extensive talents do not reach to singing, I can tell you that."
Aura turned red, annoyed. "How long have you been there?"
"I wasn't aware you listened to American music. The others are socializing at the stadium; they ran into some old friends. I came back to see what ridiculous antics you may have gotten into." He glanced around. "Unfortunately, you haven't destroyed anything. However did you manage it?"
Aura glared at him nastily. "I slept all day, okay? Bully, I didn't do anything to you."
"You don't have to, he just does it for sport." Kurama interjected. Aura squawked, yet again caught off guard.
"How do you manage to not notice him opening the door and walking in?" Hiei exclaimed. Kurama laughed as she shoved him off the back of the couch.
"You arrogant little-" Hiei snarled. Aura sniffed, picking up a magazine.
"Hey, guys! Guess who we found?" Yusuke chirped.
Aura rolled her eyes. "Damn, three guesses? I'd have to say I honestly am against practicing same sex marriage, so you can keep your boyfriends a complete secret from me."
Yusuke glared at her. "No, asshole. Some friends from last year's tournament! This is Chu! And this is Rinku!" A huge man with a violet Mohawk stepped in, a petite boy with brown hair on his shoulder. Aura and the boy stared at each other, eyes huge.
The boy jumped onto the arm of the couch, grinning. "Hey there, I'm Rinku! What's your name?"
Aura shook her head, ruffling her hair. "Aura."
Rinku smiled. "Well, Chu saw you fight that girl before, whatever her name was, and he noticed you were close to my age, and since we're fighting each other in the finals I thought it would be really cool if we met each other beforehand, huh? I mean, you looked really awesome in the ring, I can't wait till tomorrow!"
Aura stared at him for a second, eyebright. She giggled. "I'm fighting you? Cool! That would totally rock!"
Hiei and Kurama watched the two, amused. Aura and Rinku kept talking, drinking sodas. They were bouncing off the walls in a rush of caffeine, but as the night wore on the two crashed on the couch, snoring in the pillows.
Hiei smiled. "How adorably pathetic."
Kurama laughed. "It's rather nice to see her with another demon closer to her age. She doesn't often get to play with other children."
"She's older than she acts, you know that." Hiei snapped.
"What do you mean?" Kurama replied.
"The girl is immature, but not quite grown up yet, either. She's almost to the point where she'll start getting serious about life."
Kurama watched her, sprawled across the couch. "Let's hope that doesn't happen too soon."
Hinto and Nyaako crawled over the back of the couch, peering down at Aura. With a growl, the two slammed into her stomach. Aura woke up with a 'woof' of surprise. Sapphire laughed, patting Hinto on the head happily.
"Good boy, Hinto!" Aura giggled, hugging Nyaako.
"Snuggles!" She buried her nose in the kitten's fur, smiling.
The next day was scorchingly hot, the sun burning down onto the island and withering the grass with tendrils of heat. The arena where the finals were held was packed, demons lined up to pack inside. Team Urameshi was in their locker room, listening to the roar of the crowd outside. Aura perched on the windowsill, sweltering.
"It's so damn hot in here- Ugh!" She groaned. Hiei grunted.
"Take off your sweater, you imbecile." He snapped. Aura sniffed, indignant, but after a few minutes yanked it over her head and tossed it onto the table. Her undershirt was a light blue ribbed tank top. Kuwabara jumped back from where her sweatshirt landed.
"That's disgusting! How long has it been since you last washed that thing?"
Aura sneered at him. "Since last week, you moron." Yusuke yawned, looking at the clock.
"How long until we get to fight?" He groaned.
"I'm sorry we aren't doing a good enough job entertaining you." Hiei snapped, walking out the door. Kurama followed him, smiling slightly.
"We make our entrance now." The group walked down the hall leading to the doors. Sapphire grinned sadistically, tugging playfully at one of Aura's ears.
"Aren't you excited? You get to kick ass on that rug rat that beat Kuwabara!" She teased.
"Hey, I would have won if he hadn't been better than me!" Kuwabara protested. Hiei rolled his eyes.
"Your lack of intelligence is beyond pitiful." Outside the huge doors, Aura could hear the roaring of the crowd above the announcer's voice. Her ears twitched nervously as the doors swung slowly open. Sapphire grinned, muttering to the cat.
"You're going to kick ass, don't be nervous." Assured, Aura smiled. The crowd's booing hit deaf ears as the team entered the field, confident in their stride. Sapphire shoved Aura forward. She jumped onto the arena, meeting Rinku in the center. The referee smiled adorably, chirping out their names.
"Hey there! Hope you won't be mad when I win, it was fun hanging out last night." Rinku giggled.
Aura laughed. "Don't get ahead of yourself, 'cause I'm the one who's winning this round." The referee raised her hand.
"Ready- Begin!" Rinku and Aura both jumped into the air at the same moment, eyes locked. They circled each other, testing. After several minutes of this, Rinku stopped.
"Well, this is getting boring." He sighed, hands behind his head. Aura grinned, nodding.
"Of course it is, we're not even trying." She retorted.
Rinku pulled out his yo-yos, humming. "I wonder if you'll be able to beat me now." Aura jumped away as the weapons snaked toward her, barely avoiding them.
"I'm going to win this fight!"