Disclaimer: I don't own Yu Yu Hakusho.
Note: Ha, okay. I'm really bad at this whole updating thing. Sorry for taking so long, I lost my inspiration for a long while. I'd literally sit here staring at my computer screen for an hour straight before giving up.
Wild Goose Chase
Chapter Four: Game, Set, Match
"Katsu?" Yukina asked timidly while following behind her friend and their new escort. She knew she wasn't very familiar with area since the whole time she'd lived in Makai she was on the Koorime Isle, but she could have sworn they were going in the wrong direction.
Katsu glanced over his shoulder and down to the small woman behind him, "What's up?"
Yukina wrung her hands and debated on whether or not to mention anything. After all, he was being kind enough to help them so it would be rude to question his knowledge. He seemed like he knew where he was going. She shook her head and gave him a kind smile, "Never mind."
"You sure, Yukina?" Botan asked, examining the ice demon. She looked pretty worried; though it was understandable. They were in Makai with no idea where they were or how long it would actually take to get to Mukuro's territory. Botan just wasn't sure if that was the reason Yukina was troubled. Maybe she was still feeling guilty about killing that one guy…
Yukina nodded and gave Botan a reassuring smile, "Yes, I'm sure."
"If you say so…" Botan frowned, but tried not to show it. Turning to Katsu, she brightened up, "Any idea how much longer it'll take to get to Mukuro's territory? I'm itching to get back into a pink kimono," she pouted, looking down at the dark purple kimono she was wearing. Yukina giggled quietly behind their escort.
Katsu scratched the back of his head and looked up in a thinking pose of sorts, "Uh… I'm guessing five days at this rate," he enlightened, pushing down the urge to smirk. In all reality, they wouldn't be making it there at all; not even close.
"Oh," Botan murmured, glancing down at her feet.
Katsu glimpsed at her from the corner of his eye and shrugged, "You couldn't have expected to get there any earlier, could you? Makai is a big place," he told her, nearly rolling his eyes. Botan perked up immediately, "No, I suppose not! In fact, I guess that's no time at all!"
Yukina didn't want to be a pessimist, but she wished that no time at all was a little shorter. The path that Katsu was leading them through was in the middle of a forest; an extremely dark, extremely unsafe forest to be exact. The tall trees that covered the three blocked out any light from the sun, if it was still out. She could feel the eyes of lower demons on their backs as they walked, only not attacking because they weren't strong enough to do any damage; not that it made it any less unnerving. The breeze that would have been comforting in any other place made the leaves on the trees sway ominously in the shadier parts of the path and the bushes rustle as if creatures in them would jump out at any second. She could feel the hair on the back of her neck pricking up and she had to wonder if Botan or Katsu were as afraid as she was at the moment. At any rate, the group wasn't going to stop until they got out of the forest and Yukina had no idea how much longer that would take.
"Hey, don't get so worked up. It won't be much longer 'till we're out of here," Katsu told Yukina after looking back at her. She nodded and smiled her thanks to him.
I'm sure we'll be fine with Katsu's protection.
Yusuke sighed in boredom and tapped his fingers against the table loudly. Ignoring the glare he'd gained from Keiko, he twisted in his seat, leaned back into the couch, and put his feet up on the coffee table. A few seconds later he started banging his head against the cushion. Keiko narrowed her eyes at him again and he decided to stop, this time opting to whistle loudly.
"Yusuke Urameshi, if you don't stop this instant-" Keiko grit out, only to be cut off by him, "Well, you'd think Kurama and Shizuru would be back by now to give us some damn news!"
Keiko smacked him upside the head, ignoring his complaining, "That doesn't give you the right to be rude! And don't curse!"
"Yeah, Urameshi! You're so annoying!" Kuwabara added, taking a huge bite out of the sandwich he'd made only minutes before. Keiko sweat-dropped; that was definitely something akin to the pot calling the kettle black.
Before a fight could break out, Genkai, who had been silent the whole time, slammed her empty cup of tea on the table and crossed her arms. Taking a deep, calming breath she opened her eyes and looked at each of them, "You can shut up now. Kurama and Shizuru are here."
Yusuke shot up from his seat and ran to the door. Throwing it open, he ran out to meet them as they got to the top of the steps, "Finally! Damn, what did you two do the whole time?"
"It's called research, idiot. Ever heard of it?" Shizuru answered loftily before brushing past him and walking into the temple with a book in her arms. Kurama shook his head at his friend and walked in behind her. When inside, he noticed how fast they had cleaned up the place. Anything that was smashed the day before was either put back together and set in its rightful place or thrown away. All of the furniture was set correctly and any glass that was shattered had been picked up.
Keiko and Genkai must have done all the work while Yusuke and Kuwabara lounged around.
Kurama dismissed the amusing thought before sitting down on the open arm chair. Yusuke came back into the temple moments later and demanded to know what he and Shizuru had found.
Damn it, that's nearly fifty towns I've checked and none of these fools know a thing.
It was true, using his immense agility, Hiei had questioned anyone and everyone he could find in each town he'd made it to in the few hours he'd been gone from Mukuro's castle. Not that he expected to find anything, Makai was an extremely large place, but it was frustrating nonetheless. He needed to find his sister as soon as possible; the onna too. It was a dangerous place for them to be alone.
Yukina was pretty; he wasn't blind. There would be a lot of demons who had no sense of morals after her if they wanted her. And if somebody found out that she made hiruseki stones, they'd most likely exploit her like Tarukane did. Plus, she was with the onna. Even though Yukina wouldn't be unaccompanied, after thinking about it that probably made it worse. Everyone knew Botan was Koenma's top ferry girl and assistant to the Reikai Tantei. Demons would probably either take her for revenge or use her against Koenma as leverage of some sort. If somebody didn't recognize her from the Dark Tournament, then it would be obvious enough from her blue hair and her oar.
Hiei cursed silently to himself before sprinting off to the next town.
Shizuru put the book she and Kurama took from Reikai's library and set it in her lap, turning to the page she'd marked off. She looked at each person in the room before sighing, "You aren't going to like it."
"We already know that! Tell us something we don't!" Yusuke cracked from the couch across from her and she glared pointedly at him. Kuwabara elbowed his friend in the ribs, "Shut up, Urameshi! You don't know how scary my sis' can really be!" he cowered, thinking back on all the times Shizuru beat him to a bloody pulp.
Shizuru rolled her eyes and brushed some of her hair behind her ear, "If you'll shut up now I'll start," she told them and they immediately quieted up. Seeing that she had everyone's attention she continued after glancing down at the words in the book one last time, "We could only find one thing that would really block the Jagan's power; it's an aura-inhibitor of sorts. And since Hiei's Jagan uses auras to pin-point locations… well, you get the point. The problem is the only person who can take it off is the person who put it on. If anyone else tries to take it off, the person wearing it is shocked," Shizuru took a deep breath and finished.
Kurama shifted from his position on the arm chair at that point and continued where Shizuru left off, "That's a problem; it means that Yukina and Botan can be controlled by whoever put it on them, if they even know it's on them," he explained and instantly his companion's faces went distressed. Keiko leaned back into the fluffy couch and stared at the ceiling before speaking up, "Is there any chance they put it on themselves?"
Kurama shook his head with a sigh, "They probably wouldn't have looked for one and it's a fairly rare item. You have to have the right connections to get your hands on it. Also, we couldn't find anything that would counter it, which means we won't be able to get it off of them."
"This is just great," Yusuke groaned, crossing his arms, "We can't get in contact with them, they could be injured, and some dude could have them. How much worse could this get?"
"Don't say that dimwit, you never know how true that might be," Genkai glared at him.
Botan trudged along, her backpack finally starting to feel heavy after hours of carrying it through the forest. To make matters worse, her feet hurt like they never had before. She was feeling slightly bad for Yukina, since the girl was in the same predicament as herself and even smaller, so the backpack was probably weighing even more down on her. Botan shifted the pack on her shoulders and blushed when her stomach growled, ending the eerie silence that had gathered as they walked through the dark trees.
Katsu, who was ahead of the two women, looked back, "You hungry? We could stop to eat, though it would take longer to get out of the forest."
Botan scratched the back of her head with an embarrassed grin and glanced behind her at Yukina asking silently for permission. The small Koorime nodded and took her own backpack off her back, "Of course, Botan. I'm a little hungry myself," she told her with a smile and pulled out some food for herself out of the front compartment of the bag.
"You're the greatest, Yukina dear!" Botan beamed and did the same, grabbing a snack to hold herself over with. She sat on the side of the path at a spot where there wasn't a creepy bush or tree and settled into the grass. Katsu came over and sat watching her as she ate, unnerving her to no end, "Um… are you hungry? I don't mind sharing."
"No, as a demon I don't need food everyday," He explained, as if she didn't know. Katsu didn't stop staring after she nodded and started eating again, but she chose to ignore it despite the feelings of being uncomfortable. Yukina watched the exchange with confusion, but could clearly see Botan's uneasiness and grabbed her pack before walking over to the two and settling next to them. Botan flashed her a quick smile before eating with much vigor, wanting to get out of the forest and to Hiei as quickly as possible.
Botan stopped in the middle of a bite out of her cracker and sweat-dropped. The thought was so foreign, odd to her; the want to get to Hiei because she'd finally be safe. If anything, she should be afraid of him and should want to stay as far away from him as possible. The feelings of safety she knew would be there when they finally made it to Mukuro's territory were just so weird because Hiei would be the one evoking them. But she knew Hiei would get them out of Makai as soon as he saw them, especially if Yukina was with her. He wouldn't leave Yukina here. He wouldn't leave her here, either.
Botan shook herself out of it and finished her bite when she noticed Katsu laughing at her. She swallowed and huffed at him, "What?"
"You space out easily," He commented off-handedly and grinned, "You both ready to get out of here?"
Yukina perked up and grabbed her pack before standing, "Readier than you'd think," she said with a light giggle and helped Botan to her feet. Botan put her heavy backpack on her shoulders after putting the food back and managed a happy smile, "Let's get out of here!"
"As you wish," Katsu mumbled to himself of sorts, but still making sure Botan and Yukina heard it; they thought nothing of it.
Hiei stopped flitting from tree to tree in his trek to the next city when an annoying jingle sounded from his pocket. Gritting his teeth in annoyance, Hiei grabbed the ugly pink contraption from his pocket and flipped it open to see Kurama's face on screen, "Hn?"
"Hiei, I believe we've found the reason why your Jagan cannot locate Botan and your sister," he said before elaborating the story to Hiei, his facial expression grim. Though it didn't seem so horrible that the girls were wearing an item like that, it meant that whoever had put it on them has control of the situation.
Hiei nodded dismally and shut the communicator, moving on to the next city.
"He took that well enough," Shizuru remarked, coming up behind Kurama as he closed the pink communicator. He glanced back over his shoulder at her and nodded. She had left to get herself a drink when he'd announced that they should give Hiei the information they found out.
Yusuke got off the couch and walked up next to the two, "Yeah, the little guy didn't kill anything. I'm surprised. Anyway, that old hag said we're all welcome to stay for dinner. Keiko's already out there helping her in the kitchen."
Shizuru smiled, "I'm staying; I'm starved. Besides, I doubt Kazuma would even leave without getting some food in that bottomless pit he calls a stomach," she scoffed and raised an eyebrow at Kurama. He nodded at them both, "I'm a bit hungry myself. I suppose I'll volunteer to set the table, because I know Yusuke and Kuwabara aren't going to," Kurama answered with a smirk in Yusuke's direction and walked off.
Yusuke shook his fist in the direction Kurama walked away, "Damn right I'm not going to!" he growled and stalked off towards Kuwabara and whapped him in the back of the head, starting another fight. Shizuru shook her head and made her way out of the warm 'living room' of the temple and into the kitchen to help Keiko and Genkai.
"It shouldn't be much longer now," Katsu stated as he, Botan, and Yukina walked by another row of creepy bushes. Botan let out a breath of relief at the thought; being in the forest was just asking to get attacked. She grabbed Yukina's hand and ran up to Katsu's side, "That's wonderful! Where will we be heading when we get out of here?"
"A few friends of mine don't live too far from this forest, we'll be going there," He answered and flashed the two girls a grin. The problem was Katsu didn't have very nice friends. Well, in any case, they wouldn't be very nice when they finally got their hands on the two girls he was traveling with. Not very nice at all.
Katsu could still remember the first day he saw the blue-haired woman. It was a few years back when he and his friends were still working for one of the illustrious crime organizations Makai. Unfortunately, that business got out of hand when humans started getting killed, and of course the damn Reikai Tantei had to interfere with everything.
Everything was ruined. The place they called 'headquarters' was completely destroyed and their leader was dead. Everyone was running; including himself. The Reikai Tantei were leaving, but eliminating any demons they saw as a threat along the way. Katsu pulled his brother along, he had been wounded when the Reikai Tantei had busted in and could barely walk on his own.
All of his efforts to keep his brother safe were wasted when he heard someone shout, "Spirit Gun!" and a hot pain shot through his back. Katsu fell to the ground in pain, his vision blurry. Managing to lift his head up, he watched as the Reikai Tantei ran past. And that's when he saw her. The blue-haired woman looked back at him and his brother as she ran, and it felt as if time had stopped as her eyes practically bore through them, but then she quickly looked back ahead as the man with spiky black hair and red eyes scathingly told her to hurry up.
After they were out of his sight he was slowly was able to sit up despite the pain and blood oozing from the wound on his back. He swallowed and turned to his brother who wasn't moving on the ground. He quickly shook him, but there was no response. Flipping his brother onto his back, Katsu saw the blankness of his eyes; it was obvious. He was dead. He clutched the grass under him and bit back the horrid, rage-filled scream that was building in his throat.
Those bastards had killed his brother and they would pay, if it was the last thing he would do.
To add insult to injury, that idiot Botan hadn't even remembered him when she'd seen him. But that was okay, Katsu told himself. She would get what was coming to her all in due time. It was a shame she ended up dragging her innocent friend into this, but he really didn't care; it was more leverage against the Reikai Tantei.
Seriously, his revenge so far was going so nicely. It was just the easiest thing to send a few people who also had a grudge against the Reikai Tantei over to the old hag's temple and go after the two women there. Now, of course they weren't supposed to get away, but it had all worked out in the end when they walked into the shop he was in. And had anybody been there to stop him? No, not one of those idiots was smart enough to know what was going on.
Katsu snapped back to reality when Botan, who was still next to him, giggled. Turning to her he raised an eyebrow, "What's so funny?"
"You, silly!" She exclaimed and Yukina tried to stifle her own giggle behind her hand.
Katsu pouted at them and scratched the back of his head, "I don't get it…"
"It seems like I'm not the only one who spaces out easily," Botan explained and out of nowhere her cat face appeared. Katsu sweat-dropped and shook his head, "You're really weird, Botan."
"I tend to get that a lot," She said and finally quieted down. A few minutes later she suddenly grabbed on to Yukina and shook her excitedly, "Look ahead! There's the end of the forest!" she pointed in front of them while jumping up and down. Yukina smiled brilliantly along with Botan; they would finally get out of the eerie forest and be one step closer to getting to Mukuro's territory.
Katsu could barely contain the smirk threatening to come up. He was so, so close. All they had to do was walk out of the forest. And those stupid girls; they had no idea what was coming. Their smiling faces made this whole thing even better; they were so naïve. They wouldn't be smiling for long, "Alright!" Katsu spoke up and pushed them along in the friendliest manner he could muster, "Let's get the hell out of here."
"You don't have to tell me twice!" Botan exclaimed and nearly skipped the rest of the way. Yukina silently followed behind, but how pleased she was nearly radiated off of her in waves. Katsu walked in the back a few feet behind the koorime. His hands shook in anticipation as they made it out of the forest.
Shizuru sighed and dropped her chopsticks onto the table. The room was in an awkward state of silence as they ate. The only thing that could be heard in the room was chewing and the sound of chopsticks scraping bowls and plates. It was starting to get on her nerves, "Okay, I know it's not the same without Yukina and Botan, but could we at least try to have a nice dinner?"
"It's just so dim without them," Keiko frowned, also setting down her chopsticks. She was really trying to be optimistic, but she just couldn't. Two of her best friends could die any minute and she wouldn't even know. The temple just seemed so dreary without the two bright faces of Yukina and Botan; she couldn't even imagine how Genkai felt living here without them all of the sudden. Keiko kept her head low, looking at her plate because she could feel the tears springing to her eyes. She looked up only when she felt a strong arm encircle her shoulders, "Yusuke?"
"We'll get 'em back. Don't worry, with Hiei on the job it shouldn't take long," Yusuke said, locking eyes with everyone in the room. Kurama and Kuwabara nodded in agreement, Genkai grunted, and Shizuru smirked. Keiko smiled at him, "Thanks Yusuke. You're right. Though I never understood why Hiei was so protective of Yukina…"
Yusuke sweat-dropped and scratched the back of his head while laughing nervously, "Oh, who knows! We all know how weird Hiei is; no use trying to figure him out!"
"He better not be after my snow popsicle!" Kuwabara shouted and clutched his chopsticks so tight that they broke. Kurama chuckled and shook his head at him, "I highly doubt that's the reason."
"Oh, finally!" Botan cheered as the three walked past the last tree of the forest. It was nearly nighttime; the sun was just going down, leaving a pallet of bright colors in the sky. It would have been calming if the moment they had stepped out Yukina hadn't turned around to see Katsu smiling sadistically at them, his fangs clear to see. She took a step away from him and towards her blue-haired friend. She swallowed and whispered to Botan to turn around.
The instant Botan saw Katsu's face she pulled Yukina further away from him and backed up even further herself, "W-why are you looking at us like that?" she asked as more demons appeared from along the path and surrounded them, "What is this?"
Sorry if this chapter was boring, guys. But have no worries, something I'm sure you'll all consider good is going to happen next chapter! There, you have your preview, so click the cute little button on the bottom that says review.