Mind Links
By: Rose and Theresa
- Chapter 1 -

Dawn brought some ease to an aching fox demon. Kurama sat up, one hand automatically falling over his white bandaged ribs. He padded to his bedroom mirror to slowly unwind the fabric and stare at the laceration beneath.

It didn't burn like it had the previous day, and he was glad to see that the unusual color that had tinted it had also vanished. He dropped the old bandages into the waste basket.

Feeling no immediate side effects, he relaxed. After their battle yesterday, and Keiko's subsequent exposure to the wound and potential poisons, he'd been quite concerned. It had been short of disturbing to him to see his blood on her hands after she'd been shoved into him, knocking them both over.

However, if Yusuke hadn't been so careless and let the girl get shoved by his thug rival into him it wouldn't have happened at all, but there was no point in casting blame on the detective.

Still, he would go by her school this afternoon and walk her home and ask if she was alright. Just because he had not been affected didn't meant it hadn't done something to her.

She is just a human, after all. Youko reminded him.

'-Oh, no. Did Dad do laundry again? What happened to my panties? They aren't supposed to be this color-'

Shuichi blinked.

Well now, who was that? Youko asked, curiously. As far as he was aware, his telepathic abilities only worked when applied to specific subjects. How unusual to pick up something so random.

Hearing nothing else, he brushed if off as a fluke and Kurama continued with preparations. He quickly showered before the others had woke and returned to his room to dress. As he was buttoning the top of his uniform shirt, it happened again.

'-Oh, no! My homework-'

After breakfast, he headed out, new bandages firmly in place. He had just reached the school yard of Meiou High and into the sights of his adoring fan club when, again, he caught something unusual.

'-Did she just say she wants to grab his butt? Oh, I need to get to an all-girls school.'

He drew his lips up into a smile. Who was this? Was it the same person? How had he managed to acquire this unusual link with a random stranger? It had to be a female. He headed toward his classroom, perfectly aware of the adoring eyes that followed him and he politely ignored them.

Within him, Youko stirred lazily again. We have some crazy human girl's thoughts in our head? So far sounds boring, wake me if she does anything fun.

Kurama sat down at his desk, flipping open his math text. He had a problem from the night before he wanted to look over with a fresh eye. Finding it quickly he wrote it down on the corresponding page in his notebook, his pencil scrawling away as he calculated the total asked for.

'-No, I didn't just hear her say that and I didn't just look. Oh, don't look! I can't believe I looked-'

Kurama's pencil slipped from his grip, almost rolling off his desk.

Well, well, well, what have we here? Now this is more like it!

I thought you weren't interested, Shuichi commented.

Well that was before she started looking at things, now wasn't it?

We are at school, please control yourself.

Youko's reply was an indistinguishable grumble before he returned to being quiet.

Kurama returned the pencil to his hand and continued, finishing long before the teacher stepped into the room.

Kanzaki-sensei stepped into the room several minutes later and laid his book out open on the podium. "Remove your homework; we will go over it now." He turned his back to the group while they were organizing, searching for their homework to begin scrawling part of the lesson on the board.

Once more the mysterious voice fell silent; Kurama sighed softly and concentrated on the lesson before him.

Keiko smiled sweetly and waved goodbye to her classmates. It had been the royal day from hell. From the laundry fiasco that morning to the absent homework and then to her forgotten lunch...

Now she was irritated, hungry and still smarting from the humiliating set down the teacher had given her for forgetting her essay.

An essay she'd put her entire heart into perfecting.

It had been beautiful, it was absolutely "A" material, and she'd forgotten it. She could've kicked herself.

Not only that, but something else had happened too. Something strange and... scary, really.

The entire bad day had started when she'd woken up frazzled from strange dreams. She'd never had a dream that hadn't involved... well... clothes before. So it was certainly beyond odd.

To add to her utter confusion, it had been Kurama in the dream. Not Yusuke or even the school's heartthrob Sasuke, but Kurama, the red haired fox demon that worked with her best friend.

She sighed.

She'd rolled from her own bed flustered. Kurama...

It was... Kurama.

You can't have dirty dreams of Kurama, she told herself. But she had. Beautiful, dirty dreams, she thought, recalling how she'd fanned her flaming cheeks.

But that had been this morning and she didn't want to think about it. She'd had enough trouble trying to concentrate without focusing on him with all the bad things that had happened to her during her day.

She slid her last book into her bag with a sigh of discontent and headed for the door. The halls were empty already, her classmates having gone home, to cram schools or to their after school club.

With Yusuke not even at school today she was free to go straight home. She would have time enough to help her family around the kitchen and maybe do some cleaning.

It would certainly keep her busy. She pushed open the main doors and stepped outside, yawning quietly. She noticed the presence at the school gate as she approached. He was the lone figure in the nearly abandoned school yard. All the others were in the sort fields or in their assigned club rooms.

She blushed slightly, realizing who she was staring at across the distance.

Kurama.

Naturally, what other way was there to end this horrible day?

If he was looking for Yusuke he was going to be disappointed, she thought, as they were now within a good distance of each other.

He pushed away from the wall and she knew he was going to talk to her. Why couldn't she have just one thing go her way today?

"Good afternoon Keiko-san, how are you?" He greeted pleasantly.

"I'm good. How are you? Are you feeling better? Your injuries from yesterday…" She trailed off awkwardly.

"I'm well enough, thank you. Would you mind if I walked you home?"

"N-No, I don't mind. I-Is there something wrong? Nothing has happened to Yusuke, has it?"

"No, to my knowledge Yusuke is perfectly fine." Kurama replied, looking at ease. He stepped onto the sidewalk and she followed after.

They walked together, neither saying a word, not really sure what to say.

'-Just watch, some idiot will come in the shop and try to feel me up. Wouldn't that just kill my perfect day?'

Kurama blinked. He'd been getting random thoughts from some female, apparently the same one, all day. Youko had commented little on it after that morning, but he'd re-emerged as they entered the courtyard of Keiko's school with some comment about a passing girl that had been oogling him.

There's something strange near here... Youko warned. It feels like the Makai...

The Makai? Shuichi wondered. A portal, perhaps? Why would one be open out here, so near a school yard? Koenma must be aware of-

"Kyyyahh!"

The shrill female scream had Kurama snatching Keiko before she could blink.

He pushed her beside the fence. "Stay here, don't go anywhere."

With that he darted toward the voice.

Maybe something is stealing high school girls? It hardly seems far-fetched... Shuichi commented.

Well there are lots of things one can do with a young human girl. There are all sorts of rumors about virgins, although I doubt they're true. I've had plenty of virgins and I think-

That isn't the issue, Youko. What could a- What's that... a centipede youkai?

Well see, that's not sex related at all. Centipede youkai are well known for being dense. Probably fell prey to the thought that rended human virgins increase virility. Last I remember the centipede populations were dwindling- not a bad thing if you ask me. They stink to heaven when you cut them open.

Kurama diverted his attention from Youko's random comments and instead focused on the huge bug-like demon that was at the moment cornering a trembling young woman. Kurama recognized her as one of the more fanatic members of his exclusive fan club and for an instant wondered if he couldn't just let the youkai have her. But no, his honor code (not to mention his human conscience) would not allow such a thing to pass. Stepping up, Kurama shouted out at the looming creature, distracting it long enough for its victim to scramble away. Assuring himself that she was out of sight, Kurama reached into his hair and withdrew his usual seed and with a flick of the wrist was adequately armed and ready to do battle.

He didn't notice, until he'd already drawn the whip that his lady admirer had only scrambled nearby to hide behind a tree and was, in fact, still watching with wide, love struck eyes.

He almost groaned in annoyance at seeing her there. Youko grinned. It is only natural, Shuichi, for all of the female species to notice us.

The centipede youkai squirmed and lunged, tearing huge ditches into the dirt as Kurama dodged.

Meanwhile, Keiko remained by the fence that Kurama had shoved her to before, worried about why Kurama had seemed so insistent that she stay there. Was there some sort of trouble? The scream they'd heard earlier suggested just that, but still... should she be trying to find Yusuke so that he could assist? Or would Kurama be able to handle the situation on his own? Oh, she was so confused!

Well there's lots of things one can do with a young human girl. There's all sorts of rumors about virgins, although I doubt they're true. I've had plenty of virgins and I think-

'Wait... what?'

Keiko blinked, then blushed as the words she'd just heard in her head actually registered. Just who the hell's voice was that anyway!

The voice had been deep and sultry and... She reached a hand up to her flaming cheek. Well, it was the kind of voice she'd...

Wait a second...

That voice...

Hadn't she heard that voice somewhere? She mentally began running down the list ruling out the people she knew didn't own it when her thoughts turned back to Kurama. It wasn't Kurama's voice but...

It is only natural, Shuichi, for all of the female species to notice us.

She almost choked.

'Youko!'

She pushed away from the fence and dashed toward where she'd last seen Kurama. It couldn't have been, this just didn't happen.

She paused as she came to stand by a brick wall. What if Youko really was in her head? She glanced up to see a school girl cowering behind a tree and beyond that...

'Oh my...'

Well, she'd found Kurama. He was just there, about a yard away, rose whip in hand as he battled on with the even now advancing huge... insect.

'Eww.'

She stood stock still, not sure what to do, but knowing that if she moved then she might distract Kurama from his concentration on the fight. Or worse, attract his rather large opponent's attention. She remained where she was, keeping a sharp eye on the ensuing battle, hoping for the best and fearing the worst.

Don't cut it open! Youko all but snarled as the rose whip tore into the youkai flesh and dark colored liquid spewed forth onto the courtyard.

Shuichi leapt back, assaulted by the odor, bringing his sleeve up to his face.

Too late, I'm afraid, Shuichi noted, watching as the body crumbled to a thin ash. The liquid and the odor remained. Let us collect Keiko and go from here.

Sneaking a glance at the girl behind the tree, Kurama quickly detoured in another direction, escaping her and re-emerging at the fence where he'd left Keiko.

She was gone.

What- Youko! Where is she?

Like I would know? Youko asked sardonically, Well, obviously, she is not here. Do you think she got tired of waiting and walked home by herself?

Possible, but somehow, I doubt that is the case. Shuichi replied, scanning the area, but still finding no sign of the petite brunette. Damn it, where did she go!

Uh, again, I don't know. Really, Shuichi, you're overreacting, if you ask me.

Well, I didn't, so kindly shut up before- Shuichi paused, giving an audible sigh of relief when he spotted Keiko, then promptly frowned when he noticed the direction in which she was coming from.

"Did you-" He began, only to be cut off by Keiko's nod.

"Um, yeah., sorry about that. But I just couldn't stand back here and not know if you were okay or not. Are you okay?" She asked, giving him a look that Kurama couldn't quite place and so simply categorized it as odd.

"Yes, fine. I apologize for the distraction." His wounds from the previous battle had healed more of the day and were now only a minor ache.

Her scent was on the breeze and he unconsciously lifted his nose to catch more of it.

Youko didn't miss the action.

She does smell sweet, doesn't she? Youko purred.

Keiko yelped suddenly, her face flushed. "Oh, I um... just remembered something important. I really have to get home!"

Kurama nodded, not sure what to say or what to make of the sudden spike her scent had taken and the fact that it seemed to be drifting from beneath her skirt.

"Of course, at least allow me to walk you home."

She shifted and nodded. "Okay."

They proceeded to start walking, only to suddenly be confronted by the girl that he'd previously saved. She popped up, seemingly out of nowhere, attaching herself to his right arm, seeing as Keiko was standing at his left side. She was panting quite a bit, her long dark hair mused and her sweat dampened bangs clung to her forehead, most likely from having sprinted all the way here in order to corner- er, to find him.

"Minamino-san! Oh, thank you for saving me! You were so wonderful and brave and where did you get that whip? It was so amazing. It just appeared out of thin air! I didn't know you could do magic!" The babbling continued, even as the red head attempted to disengage their linked arms as discreetly as possible, wincing as she proceeded to squeal in his ear after getting particularly excited over a certain move he had performed during his confrontation. She then went on to ask just what the thing was he'd fought. "Was it, like, one of those overgrown mutant bugs, or.. Oh! I know! It was a space alien, right? I knew those things were real!"

Honestly, where does she come up with this stuff? Science fiction theater?

Kurama was taken a bit by surprise when Keiko chose that moment to giggle. Kurama cast a glance in her direction wonderingly as he saw her attempt to stifle her random outburst of laughter with her hand.

Keiko smiled to herself, her giggles successfully squashed after several moments of restraint. So, she had both Youko and Shuichi in her head. She turned to Kurama.

"Space aliens?" Keiko perked up, looking interesting. "Is that what it was?"

Kurama shot her a look that was just short of stunned. "K-Keiko? Are you sure you're all right? Truly?"

She smiled sweetly at him and nodded, casting the fan girl a glance. She didn't seem happy and tightened her grip on Kurama's arm.

"Minamino-san, who is this?"

He glanced back at the other girl. "Yukimura Keiko, we share mutual friends."

"Yukimura Keiko - you mean, weren't you dating that school bully? Urameshi?"

Keiko shot her a glare at the mention, not wanting to think about Yusuke and his general lack of sensitivity. She still wasn't talking to him.

What could she say to get the girl to go away?

"Yusuke and I have decided to see other people," Keiko replied flatly. She reached for Kurama's other arm. "In fact, Shuichi was just walking me home."

Kurama's eyes widened slightly in alarm at the action, and widened even more at the hostile expression that immediately took the place of the sweet and innocent one that his fan girl had previously been sporting.

"Is that so?" The girl asked in a voice that dripped with sweet sarcasm as she tugged on Kurama's right arm.

"Yes, it is." Keiko replied just as "sweetly" and tugged just a bit on his left arm.

Caught in the middle, Kurama sweat dropped, even as Youko chuckled darkly in his mind. Oh! A cat fight, Shuichi! And look, neither are neko youkai! This should be interesting!

'Can't this hussy take a hint and get lost? She can't be that dense!'

And there was that damned voice again! For an instant, Kurama wished he weren't such a gentleman. He would-

Wait a minute. That...voice...

Keiko stopped walking and tugged on Kurama's arm so he stopped too. The girl glared at her. "Shuichi's mine, do I have to spell it out for you? Be sure to tell all your equally half-wit friends to keep their hands off him or I'll demonstrate personally just how much I learned when I was Yusuke's girlfriend."

Kurama just stared at her. "My, how assertive of you, Keiko. I'm flattered."

He grinned at her, more than a little surprised at the outburst.

The other female, however, seemed a bit leery at the mention of Yusuke and his reputation preceded him and she released Kurama's arm, but she didn't back off.

"You might be sweet with him right now, but you won't last. It's against the fan club rules to actually date Minamino-san. I'll be sure to let the others know."

Keiko's smile disappeared. "I'm not part of your fan club and I'm rapidly losing what was left of my good mood. So you've got five seconds to get lost."

The girl glared at her, but ultimately decided she wasn't going to press the issue without reinforcements and she left.

Keiko sighed. 'I can't believe I just did that, I'm such an idiot. I let the situation get completely out of hand - did I just tell her I was his girlfriend and that I'd fight for him?'

Kurama smiled at her. "Very impressive, Keiko."

She glanced at him and frowned. "I'm so sorry, Kurama. I just embarrassed you and me and I used your given name without your permission and-" she trailed off spying his smirk.

She wondered what Youko was saying to him, but didn't dare voice the question aloud.

Aww... back to the meek and mild one now? What happened to our little yamaneko, Shuichi?

Hush, Youko. She was only defending us as a friend, and she is most definitely not ours.

But she could be. Shuichi, she confessed to not belonging to the Detective. We could have her if we tried.

Before Kurama could tell Youko to shut up, a soft gasp from beside him caught him off guard.

"Keiko?" He asked curiously, noting that the odd expression was back on her face, but that her face was also lightly flushed. "Is there something wrong?"

"N-No," she stammered quickly, looking away.

I think we should try, you saw how aggressive she got when she was defending us, didn't you? Can you imagine a little yamaneko like that in our bedroom, tying us up, the feel of her tongue along our bodies.

Keiko's face flushed bright red and she covered it with her hands, shaking her head.

"K-Keiko?" Kurama reached to touch her shoulder and she tried, gently, to push him away.

"I'm, I'm sorry, Kurama. I'm just... I'm ... um... homework, I have homework."

He half smiled. "Does homework usually make you blush, Keiko?"

Her flush only increased and she tried to clear her throat. "It's um... health, health homework. I just recalled something I needed to do for health class. Well, we should go." She started walking without him and he followed.

'Tie him up? Oh, I can't believe he thought that. And… wildcat? Oh, how does he stand it, he can't be like this all the time.'

Kurama slowed at the thought in his head that was neither his nor Youko's, but kept walking all the same.

Oh yes, restraints are fun. Youko picked up, as though it had been Shuichi's comment and he was familiar with responding. A nice tight knot around the wrists and a good, hot mouth around our... heh...

Shuichi noticed Keiko tense.

Youko, do calm down, would you?

We aren't hard enough yet.

Keiko stopped and spun around and he felt himself almost flush as her eyes dropped down to this crotch.

Youko howled with laughter.

"You can... hear us, I assume?" Kurama asked faintly.

Keiko nodded, though her eyes still maintained their downward gaze. "You can hear me? My thoughts I mean?"

He cleared his throat and she yelped and tore her eyes away. 'This is so bad.'

"I'm so sorry... Is he... always so... " She trailed off and she didn't need to continue as Kurama grinned.

"Yes, he's always like this."

She squirmed. "It doesn't bother you?"

He made sort of a half shrug. "I've always known him this way, I'm just used to it."

She nodded numbly. "It's like having hentai radio broadcast straight into your head."

Kurama took a step forward, noting how Keiko suddenly seemed weary. "Um, shall we continue on?"

She didn't say anything, but she walked with him.

The walk continued in silence, neither Keiko, nor Kurama, were sure if they could come up with anything appropriate to ease the sudden tension that seemed to thicken the atmosphere around them. Finally, Youko seemed to grow tired of the prolonged silence and was in fact a bit disappointed that his playful banter from earlier had been wasted. Apparently, the two needed a bit more incentive.

You know, Shuichi, that smell you were so interested in earlier came from our sweet little yamaneko. It was the smell of arousal, dear boy. In fact, I believe that we were the cause of it.

Keiko blinked and shifted, refusing to look in their direction. Her feet quickened as she saw her house ahead.

Shuichi frowned. You're making her uncomfortable Youko, ease off, she's not used to your behavior and we don't know how many of our thoughts she can hear.

Youko didn't reply.

"Keiko?"

She stopped and turned back as though she hadn't quite realized she was now walking a distance a head of him.

"I apologize for Youko, he gets... enthusiastic."

She nodded. "It's okay, really. Um... You want to come in?"

Youko snickered.

"My parents are home," She added quickly, as though fearing what Youko might be saying. "Um, I wasn't sure, maybe, if we should talk about this or not."

"I think it best that we do discuss this, yes." Kurama replied, a bit relieved that she wasn't retreating behind closed doors in order to avoid him. He hoped that, for the most part, Youko would be on his best behavior throughout their conversation.

TBC…