I don't own Yu Yu Hakusho. Sorry for not putting any author notes in the first chapter (I'm sure you all cared...) but I'm not very good with technology yet, and was too busy rejoicing that it actually loaded to figure that I never gave any explanations etc.
K, here's the deal: The guys are all in seperate alternate realities, and the view point willalternate between them and their replacements every other chapter.
Back on Earth, Botan was in a panic. The Reikai Tantei had gone AWOL. They had not arrived at the assigned meeting place, and were so far no where she had searched. She cursed whatever god had decided to create a teenager as useless as Yuusuke Urameshi. 'He doesn't even keep his communicator switched on! Does he not understand the relevance of its name?'
She flew once more over Kurama's house with the demon compass. The last time she had checked, shortly before three o'clock in the morning, there had been not a trace of him. It was now half past five. She sighed and retrieved the compass from inside her kimono. Now, the little hand of the compass was definitely on to something. Botan smiled 'Yes!' and glided down to Kurama's window.
Shuichi awoke at about half past five because there was an accursed little bleeping in his ear. Or maybe it was because of the tapping on the window to his right. Or maybe both. He groaned, wondering who had tucked him into bed and swapped his clothes for clean, soft cotton pyjamas. In fact, the whole room smelt clean. He cracked open his eyes and flopped his hand out until it had reached the alarm, then he slammed it down with enough force to smash the irritating thing. There was still that tapping though. Growling in annoyance, Shuichi snuggled further beneath his duvet.
The tapping only got louder, and more frantic. Frantic, that reminded him of Keiko finding out the caterers had had to cancel because they'd double booked. He shot up in the bed. Wedding! He had a wedding! His wedding! Today! His eyes adjusted surprisingly quickly to the light. The tapping was forgotten when he took in his surroundings.
"Oh my God. Where am I?" He leapt out o f bed and looked at his obsessively neat surroundings. "Yuusuke, you are so dead!" That guy had been in charge of making sure that he didn't get so bladdered on the stag night that he went home with some random girl! Keiko would literally kill him. She had warned him, one more time and she'd leave him . Come to think of it, this looked like his old room when he had lived at home, only much, much neater. He'd lived here before his mother's death, when he had been taken in to care. Was this like 'A Christmas Carol'? Was it a warning to treat Keiko better? If it was, anything that happened here wouldn't translate back to reality. It certainly must be, because by all rights he deserved to have the hangover of a lifetime, and he felt perfectly fine.
The tapping was so loud now that he was sure whatever was making it was about to break through the glass. He wasn't so sure that it was a good idea to open the curtain. Did he really want to know? For some reason, he could tell that whatever it was did not have malignant intentions. Tentatively, he reached out a hand and yanked open the curtain. Outside, there floated an angry blue-haired lady in a pink kimono. Well, he certainly hadn't expected that. This was definitely not your average alcohol-induced fantasy.
"Kurama! Open up! I don't want to be floating around here all day!" Shuichi fumbled to open the familiar catch on his window. Memories of climbing out of here at the age of seven and breaking his arm when he had fallen came back to him, along with the memory that it had consequently been sealed. However, this window opened, so it couldn't be his house.
"I swear I've got oar burn! I've been flying around for about six hours!" The blue-haired girl complained as she hopped into his room. "It's unlike you not to get up immediately." That was enough to convince Shuichi that she was mistaking him for another person.
"Hey, lady. What the hell's going on? You the ghost of Wedding present?" Shuichi jibed. The lady looked at him as if he was mad.
"Kurama?" She said uncertainly.
"If you say so." Shuichi grinned. "You know, I think your daddy must have been a thief."
"E-excuse me?" Blue-hair looked utterly perplexed.
"That's right. I think he stole a couple of stars from heaven and dropped them in your eyes when you were a little girl."
Botan, for some reason, looked hurt. "That's just mean Kurama. You know I don't have a father, and I was never a little girl!"
Shuichi rocked on his heels. "Now, that doesn't make much sense. You're still cute, though." He winked at her. She huffed, whilst blushing a furious red. "What's your name, beautiful?"
"Botan, silly! I was created by king Enma. I'm a spirit! Different rules apply."
"Okay, not a ghost but a spirit. You're still a cute spirit, then. Did my mind create you?"
"Kurama, we really haven't got time to stand here and philosophise." She turned away to hide the blush. "We need to find Yuusuke and the others. They're completely AWOL." She fiddled with her oar.
"Yuusuke? Now why would my mind bring him into a perfect fantasy like this?" Shuichi mused aloud.
"Are you alright Kurama? You know, I couldn't pick up your youki on my demon compass earlier. You seem totally different."
"I have demon ki?" Shuichi asked eagerly. "Like magic powers?"
"Um…I guess you could say they're like magic powers…" Botan felt Shuichi's forehead. "You don't seem to be sick, but you don't sound well."
Shuichi chuckled. "Has anyone ever told you, you have a way with words?" Botan slapped him lightly on the arm.
"Stop flirting! We've got more important things to do!"
"Was I being so transparent? Yuusuke's right when he says that Keiko's changed me." Shuichi said. Botan stared at him as if he had grown a new head. She didn't know whether to slap him, laugh or cry at the failure of her mission.
"Do I want to know?" She asked weakly. Shuichi smirked.
"Keiko's the most amazing girl. I was a real jerk before I met her. I bet you'd like her." Okay, so she hadn't wanted to know.
"Let's just get on with finding the others, okay? Use your foxy senses or something."
"Foxy senses eh? Not some kinky pornographic fantasy, is this?" He waggled his eyebrows in a way that reminded Botan uncomfortably of Yuusuke.
"Kurama! I'm going to…tear my hair out in a minute!"
Shuichi pursed his lips. "I wouldn't want that. You've got such pretty hair. A unique colour."
Botan had had enough. "Just stay here! Don't go anywhere, and I'll be back as soon as I've found the others." Shuichi held up his hands. "Can I trust you?" She pleaded him with her eyes.
"Hey, what do you take me for?"
"Not a sane being, that's for sure," Botan snapped, and remounted her oar with a wince. Shuichi watched with a faint smile on his face as she sailed through the window and into the sky lit with the pink of the morning sunrise. What a pleasant dream. Well, he certainly wasn't going to obey a figment of his own imagination, look where that had got Scrooge. He hadn't actually read 'A Christmas Carol' but he had seen enough of the movie (before he had fallen asleep) to know that Scrooge had been a thoroughly unpleasant man.
He glanced at his alarm. Damn, broken. What time was it? There were noises from downstairs and the smell of cooking food. Wondering what kind of spirit was going to be at the bottom of the stairs, and wondering whether he would be required to vanquish them with his new powers, Shuichi wandered down the hall and then the stairs.
He was ready for whatever lay in there. Monsters, demons, spirits, ghosts, you name it, he was up to fighting it. What he was not prepared for was the woman frying eggs with a smile on her face.
"M-mother?" Shuichi gasped.
"Oh! Morning Shuichi! I didn't know whether you'd be wanting eggs or bacon, so I made them both. I'll eat whatever you don't want."
Shiori jumped when she was suddenly embraced fiercely from behind.
"Darling, don't do that! I nearly had the egg all down my front!" She turned to Shuichi, who then attached himself to her front. "Shuichi, dear, is there something wrong?" To her shock, Shuichi's eyes were brimming with tears when he looked at her.
"Mother, mother…you're alive!"
"Oh, dear. Did you have a nightmare?" Shiori asked, concerned.
"Yes, yes I did." His emerald eyes met with hers, a bewildered smile on his lips. " I just woke up."
"Kazuma! Get your butt out of bed!"
Kuwabara rolled in his bed and fell out of the side. He groaned loudly and cursed his old bones. That voice…it reminded him of his Aneki, but she lived in Canada with her husband, so it couldn't be her. Unless she had decided to pop over. She always did so at the most inconvenient times. Had his wife let her in? He swore it, all women were out to get him.
He untangled himself from the mess of blankets and stood and stretched…and stopped. This wasn't his home, this was the flat he vaguely remembered from his youth. His parents and he had looked around it when they were deciding whether they should take the offered jobs in Tokyo and leave him in the care of his sister. This would have been for him and his sister and a weekend flat for them. In the end, they had the declined the jobs in order to stay with their children. But, what the hell was going on now?
He tested the waters.
"What?" Was the irritated reply. Oh dear, this looked rather an elaborate set-up to be a practical joke. Kuwabara left the bedroom to looked about for his sister.
"Ah, what's going on?" He asked meekly. He found her in the kitchen smoking a cigarette. "Since when did you smoke?"
"Ha, ha." Shizuru said monotonously without turning to face him. She was buttering some bread on the counter. "I hope you're ready, 'cause I'm not driving you to school again if you miss the bus."
"School?" Kuwabara asked, baffled. He was pushing thirty from the wrong direction, and his sister wasn't one to make stupid jokes.
"Yeah, you know, the place where some people go to learn stuff…" She turned to him. "Good Lord! What's happened to you! You've aged terribly!"
"Well, hello to you too. I was hoping you could tell me where I am, and what's going on. Did Ai arrange to have you abduct me?"
Shizuru rubbed her temples with her hands, one still clutching the buttery knife. "Kazuma, I don't want to know what kind of Spirit World deal you've got mixed up in now, but you better have it sorted out by tomorrow. God knows you don't need any more catching up to do. Now go away, you look creepy with wrinkles."
He wasn't that bad, was he? "Aneki?" Kuwabara asked.
"What year is this? I think I may have gone back in time. But, this isn't what happened when I was…about fifteen?"
Shizuru raised her head and nodded. "That's right. But…you're saying that you're not Kazuma?"
"Yes, I am. Just, not as you know him, I believe."
"The Kazuma I know couldn't have drawn those conclusions without a brain transplant, so I guess you're right."
Kuwabara glanced around. "So, Spirit World, hey? Was that an inside joke?"
"No." Shizuru replied bluntly. "Spirit World. Kind of like school, except you go there when you die."
"I see." Shizuru had always been a strange one. "And, do I…work for them?" He asked. Shizuru nodded, face to the ground. She obviously had a problem with his age. "I thought so, I've always been able to form some sort of glowing sword out of thin air. I never told anyone about it back…home."
"There must be some major time and/or dimension warping going on here. Koenma's going to fry if his dad finds out." She looked sharply out of the window. "It's okay, Botan's going to be here in two minutes, so she'll take you where you need to go."
"Botan? That's the name of my personal assistant in the hospital I work at." Kuwabara replied. He took a seat at the table. "You know, the Shizuru of twenty that I used to know didn't smoke." Shizuru stubbed out her cigarette and sat down beside him.
"Oh yeah? What went right in her life?"
"Well, they didn't take the job in Tokyo. Our parents, I mean. They stayed in Moshiyori to look after you-my sister and me. I'm a neurosurgeon by the way."
Shizuru didn't look up for the time it took for Botan to fly in through the window. Kuwabara decided not to mention the fact that she also looked exactly like his personal assistant from another dimension. It (they) really was (were) a small world (s) wasn't it? (weren't they?). It would only complicate matters, and that really wasn't advisable given the current situation.
"Kuwabara! You look so old!" Botan cried when she saw him. Honestly, Kuwabara mused, he should really be worrying that finding his personal assistant was the one about to fly him to the Spirit World wasn't surprising to him any more.
"He'll explain later," Shizuru cut in. "Just take him to the Reikai. Koenma's got some major explaining to do." Botan nodded and beckoned to Kuwabara to get on her oar. He was stopped with a hand on his arm. "You know, I think Kazuma could have really benefited from meeting you. He has very low expectations of himself."
Keiko knocked rapidly on Yuusuke Urameshi's bedroom door. His mother had let her in, and Keiko was currently waiting for him to get up and walk her to school. After about five minutes of rapping, the door was flung open from inside and Yuusuke's sleep-ridden face filled the space between door and frame, barring her entrance.
"Finally, Yuusuke! You know, I've been waiting here for a quarter of an hour! We're going to be late for school if you don't get dressed right now!"
"Who the hell are you?" Yuusuke asked. His eyes were blood-shot and his figure stooped. Keiko stepped back out of instinct. "Fuck the hell off, damn wench." He slammed the door in Keiko's face. This was beyond slapping. This was beyond fuming or the silent treatment. In fact, this was so far beyond anything that Yuusuke had ever done before that Keiko didn't know what to do but sit on the floor and cry. So, she did just that.
Atsuko found her a few minutes later.
"Don't worry, Keiko. I'll teach that brat some manners." She slammed on the door with her fist. "Yuusuke! How dare you be so rude to Keiko! She's stuck by you through thick and thin! The least you can do to repay her is acknowledge her presence!"
"The-the least you c-can do is be n-nice to m-me! That's the l-least I d-deserve" Keiko corrected Atsuko through her sobs.
"Exactly!" Atsuko said. The door opened again. "Oh! Yuusuke, what have you been doing? Have you been drinking? You look a state!"
Yuusuke smirked ironically. "You'd know all about that, wouldn't you." This time Keiko noticed the grating quality of his voice.
"Yuusuke!" She said worriedly, her previous anger forgotten. "What made you do it? Are you feeling depressed? You can tell me, we'll deal with it together."
Yuusuke frowned at the brown-haired girl. "Who're you, my keeper? What, I'm not allowed to enjoy myself anymore?" He was about to slam the door again, but Keiko's foot stopped it.
"Please, Yuusuke. We all care about you."
Yuusuke glanced around the hallway. "All? I only see two of you, and I don't know who the hell you are." He said to Keiko. "Did my mum hire you? Hey? Did you mum? Feeling guilty you never came to see any of my concerts? The weeping girlfriend is a nice touch, mum, but really a bit too unbelievable. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a lot of sleeping to do before the Tokyo concert."
This time, Keiko was too confused to prevent Yuusuke from shutting his door. There was no time for tears of self-pity, there was definitely something wrong with Yuusuke, and she'd get to the bottom of it or her name wasn't Keiko Yukimura.
"What're we looking at?" Piped up a voice from directly behind Keiko. She jumped and saw Botan. "I only see Yuusuke's bedroom door."
"Oh, yes…we're just in shock," Keiko replied awkwardly. Atsuko shook her head and wondered off, muttering something about finding some sake. Keiko frowned at her back. She wasn't even going to try?
"Shock over what?" Botan asked. "You know," She went on before Keiko could reply, "Some really weird stuff's been happening lately. Kurama's started acting really…" she blushed, "flirtatious. Kuwabara's aged about fifteen years and God knows where Hiei is!"
Keiko frowned. "Well, I've got more bad news then. Yuusuke doesn't know who I am. In fact, I don't think he neither knows nor cares what's going on."
Botan buried her face in her hands. "I've been up since midnight!"
Keiko patted her on the back reassuringly. "If it's any consolation, it really doesn't show," Botan looked up at her, "-that much."
"Thanks Keiko. Let's go and get Yuusuke to the Reikai. Maybe we can figure out what's going on there."
On the other side of town, Hiei fell out of a tree. He was pretty sure he hadn't fallen asleep in one, but for some reason his mind had recently been tricking him. He got up, surprised at the lack of damage he had sustained. Feeling around his body for breaks, his hand closed around something long. And hard.
"Hello, am I just pleased to see myself this morning or is that…" He opened his black cloak. "A…Katana!" He turned his head to the sky. "THANK YOU GOD!" He cried to the heavens. The passers-by who had not heard his earlier mutterings soon joined the movement away from the strange black-clad man. He withdrew the gleaming blade from its sheath and swished it around in the air for a bit. Finding its swishiness to be in order, Hiei proceeded to check how it was at just sitting in his hand while he walked around. There were several screams and the sound of running feet on the gravel pathways of the park, but other than that, Hiei was allowed to enjoy his newly found freedom to the accompaniment of the wind in the trees and birdsong.
Yep. Hiei is one crazy demon in this story. In case you hadn't noticed, they have each gained the abilities (or lack of) of their replacements.
Furthermore, I have nothing against mentally unstable people and apologise if the last chapter and coming chapters offend(ed) anyone.
This chapter is dedicated to dk-joy, Meri Kaisla and Lanie N. who were very nice and reviewed the first chapter!