Disclaimer: I own nothing of importance.

Chapter One

The early morning sun shone in through a dirty window, its rays falling on an empty bed. In the room, a man stood in front of a mirror, surveying his appearance. He had hair that was dark grey in color, tangled locks brushing his shoulders. His face was heavily scarred, one beady eye glaring at his reflection. The left eye was electric blue and twisted in its socket independently of the first one, sometimes rolling back completely so that only the white was showing. Satisfied with his appearance, he added a traditional English bowler hat, pulling it low over his disturbing eye. With one last look in the mirror, he grabbed his cane and left the room, his wooden claw-shaped foot thudding on the floor as he walked.

As he entered the lobby, the clerk behind the desk looked up and smiled. "Good morning, Moody-san. You like breakfast?" he asked in heavily accented English, gesturing to the hotel restaurant. Knives could be seen chopping vegetables, which then jumped from the cutting board to the grill of their own accord, a spatula flipping the cooking items from time to time while a wizard supervised the utensils.

"No," the auror replied, heading for the exit.

"Have nice day!" the clerk called after him.

Moody grunted as the door swung shut behind him. He pulled out a map, ignoring the muggles as they walked by, not seeming to notice the establishment behind him despite the neon sign that read, "The Wobbly Wok." Studying the map for a moment or two, he carefully folded it, replacing it inside his coat and heading off down the road.

It wasn't long before the wizard found himself walking behind a young man who was seemingly on his way to school. He had long, vibrant red hair that flowed past his shoulders and swayed gently across his back as he moved. He was dressed in a magenta uniform and also carried a stack of books on one arm. He was traveling at an easy pace, apparently not in a hurry to get to his destination. Moody ignored him for the most part, concentrating on the signs and street names. He vaguely registered the fact that three girls had joined the young man and were walking with him. After a few more minutes of casual observation, he realized something was off.

Temporarily postponing his search, the wizard focused on the group ahead of him, wondering what had caught his attention. It didn't take him long to realize it was the redhead's behavior. It was too stiff, too formal. His answers to the girls' questions were impersonal and noncommittal. It was almost as if he had memorized what he was going to say beforehand and was merely repeating that now. It was the type of behavior that indicated a secret life, carefully concealed beneath lies and deceit. It was the type of behavior exhibited by dark wizards when Voldemort was in power.

Moody continued to follow the young man, wary of his suspicious conduct, especially now that the Dark Lord was rising once again. The group turned and walked through a gate that seemed to lead to a muggle school. The wizard rounded the corner behind them, only to find that the redhead had disappeared from sight. His magical eye darted back and forth in its socket, searching for the teen as the auror wondered how he could have lost his quarry in the first place. He jumped upon hearing a soft voice directly behind him.

"May I help you?"

He spun around, coming face to face with the object of his search. The redhead was leaning against the wall casually, a gentle smile on his face as his bright green gaze studied the wizard with a practiced eye. Moody became defensive, his glare narrowing. "Why are you following me?" he growled.

"I think I should ask you the same thing," the teen countered, not bothered in the least by the older man's churlish manner.

The auror grunted, his concealed left eye looking the redhead up and down, paying close attention to his left shoulder. He wasn't carrying a wand and the skin of his upper arm was clear of any markings. So, he's not a follower of the Dark Lord, then, he thought. He was about to turn away when two silver, canine ears caught his attention. His right eye glanced up to confirm the odd accessory, but they were already gone. Moody scowled, an intense dislike for wizards who flaunted their powers around muggles rising within him. "Are you an animagus?" he asked, his voice hard.

Although he showed no surprise at the question, the corners of the redhead's lips turned down slightly, his expression changing from polite to neutral. "No," he answered, no emotion coloring his voice.

The auror looked into the teen's face, trying to tell if he was lying. A cold amber glare challenged his magical eye, while impassive, yet guarded, emerald orbs met his right. He blinked, both eyes suddenly in agreement it was a green gaze that was watching his every move. Moody was bewildered by the oddities associated with the redhead-- a feeling he did not like. "What's the matter with your eyes, boy?!" he snarled.

The teen merely continued to study the wizard, not the slightest hint of his thoughts showing on his face. "There is nothing wrong with my eyes. I have perfect vision," he replied. He turned his head as the school bell rang, signaling that classes were to begin soon. "Excuse me-- I don't want to be late," he said, bowing slightly as he walked past the older man.

Moody made no move to stop the redhead, not having found anything about the teen that indicated he was a threat. Well, not to us, at any rate. The Asian Ministry can deal with him showing off to the muggles here. Although, I've never heard of an animagus doing only a partial transformation before, he thought, his magical eye following the mysterious boy as he crossed the courtyard. A silver tail swished languorously behind him as he walked, seemingly taunting the old wizard. The auror quickly stuck his head around the corner, but the extra appendage had disappeared before his right eye could verify its existence. He shook his head. Not even Tonks can grow ears or a tail like that! When the peculiar teen had disappeared inside the building, Moody turned away, pulling a map from his coat pocket. It was probably nothing. My eye hasn't been tuned in a while, so I guess I'll need to take it to the repair shop when I get back to London. In the meantime, I've got a mission to complete, he thought, his right eye moving searchingly over the creased paper in front of him. After getting his bearings, he studied the map a few minutes more before replacing it in his coat and limping down the street.

. . .

The noon sun shone down upon the busy streets of Tokyo, people hurrying here and there, filling up the restaurants for their midday meal. A certain individual managed to stay apart from the crowd, the throng of people filling the sidewalks unconsciously giving a wide berth to the scowling man that limped down the road, one eye glowering at any who dared to meet his gaze. Moody turned off the street, following a path through a grassy park to the koi ponds within it. A young couple were sitting on a bench near the water's edge, smiling and laughing as they talked softly amongst themselves. The auror glared at the oblivious teenagers, walking a little ways away from them. He pulled out his wand, being careful to hold it low enough to keep it from sight and muttered a few unintelligible words. He kept his left eye trained on the lovebirds while a red beam of light shot out from the magical stick, disappearing beneath the surface of the water. The pair remained blissfully ignorant of everything around them and Moody half wondered if they would notice the kappa jumping out of the pond to challenge him. He waited for a few minutes more, disappointed when no Japanese water demons were forthcoming. Sighing heavily, he left the adolescents alone as he made his way back to the main road. Pulling out the map again, as well as a pencil, he put a small 'x' over the icon representing the park. There were at least fifteen similar marks on the worn paper, showing the failure his mission had met thus far. Looking over the route to his next destination, he replaced the map in his pocket. "It would be nice if the Asian Ministry wasn't so blasted efficient," he muttered, limping down back out to the road.

The auror moved over to the curb, sticking out his right arm. Almost immediately, a bus with the words 'Samurai Bus' written on the side came around the corner, screeching to a halt in front of him. The doors opened, revealing two Japanese wizards conversing in their native tongue. They looked up, a bit surprised to see their next customer.

"Moody-san! You like our bus so much you come back again?" The first asked jovially. "You already ride so many times today!"

The grumpy wizard ignored the cheerful conductor, growling the address to the driver before turning to find a seat in the crowded bus. It did not escape his notice that the other patrons edged away slightly as he passed.

It took the auror about a half hour to reach his next stop, hoping the location would work to his advantage for better results. He climbed off the bus, ignoring the friendly goodbye from the driver before the door closed and the vehicle sped away again. He pulled out his map, looking around to make sure he had been deposited in the right place. There weren't very many buildings nearby, as this particular park was located on the outskirts of town. Satisfied this was where he was supposed to be, the aged wizard started limping down the path, searching for the koi ponds.

It wasn't long before the manicured pools came into sight, bridges spanning across them to afford a better view of the fish within. Moody's footsteps slowed, however, a feeling of uneasiness coming over him. He scanned the area around him, searching for anything that might explain his paranoia. Walking past a tree he stopped, noticing a young man leaning against it. He looked to be in his teens, arms crossed in front of his chest with his eyes closed. The auror's gaze narrowed, glancing over the un-mugglish hairstyle the boy was sporting. His entire head of hair stood straight up, mostly black with a white starburst on the front. Definitely not a normal muggle style, indeed.

Still feeling ill at ease, the aged wizard ran his magical eye over the teen. He carried no wand, but he did have a sword at his side. Although the skin just below his left shoulder was free of any tattoos, what really caught Moody's attention was the fact that he couldn't see what was beneath the bandages wrapped around the boy's right arm or the bandana on his forehead.

The teen ignored the auror's presence, not even so much as glancing at him. The black-haired youth remained where he was, seemingly relaxed although his eyebrow twitched once, almost as if in annoyance at the unwanted attention.

Moody noticed the slight movement before his gaze was drawn to a faint oval outline shining through the bandana. Without warning, a colossal dragon appeared, red eyes glaring down at the wizard. It was unlike any dragon the auror had ever seen, its sleek black body long and thin with no wings to speak of. It seemed to be curled almost protectively around the apparently oblivious adolescent.

Moody stepped back in alarm, thrusting his right hand into his coat in search of his wand. He didn't even have a chance to withdraw it before the dragon vanished, disappearing as quickly as he had come. The auror glanced around, searching for the reptilian beast that could not have possibly escaped so fast. The trees were swaying innocently in the breeze, showing no indication that the dangerous creature had been there. His gaze eventually drawn back to the youth in front of him, Moody was displeased to note the slight smirk that played around the dark-haired boy's lips. His eyes focused once again on the impenetrable bandages as the pieces started to fall into place.

So, he conceals his wand beneath the warded bandages and uses it to summon illusions, eh? The bandana probably is what has the enchantment on it and he just uses his wand to activate it. Judging by the illusion he chose, I'd bet this troublemaker is a member of one of the local gangs, Moody thought. Grunting, he continued on his way, not having time to waste on some small-fry member of the yakuza. Nearing the water's edge, he withdrew his wand and sent out a seeking spell. His eye lit up as he saw a spot near the middle of the pond start glowing. The object of his search was lurking just below the surface.

Readying his wand, Moody waited for the demon to show itself. The water rippled just before the kappa jumped out, landing on the bank a mere two feet from the auror. However, the aged wizard had barely even gotten a glimpse of the water creature before it unexpectedly burst into flames. It burned remarkably fast, nothing but ashes left seconds after its feet had touched the earth.

Moody paused, trying to make sense of what had just happened. A growl rose in his throat as he turned, cursing the boy that had destroyed his quarry. He paused mid-rant, blinking as he noticed the absence of the one on the receiving end of his lecture and soon to be his wand. His magical eye spun in its socket as he searched for the teen, a bewildered expression settling on his features. Just like the dragon, the boy was gone. The auror turned back to the pile of ash in front of him. Cursing vehemently, he kicked the burnt remains before limping out of the park.

. . .

Hiei sat in a tree, watching the sun sink lower in the sky. He felt a familiar presence nearing him, stopping directly beneath his perch. In the blink of an eye, he was on the ground standing in front of the tall redhead who had come to meet him. "You're late."

Kurama raised one elegant eyebrow. "How can one be late when a meeting time was not appointed?" he asked.

"Hn." The fire demon crossed his arms, as if to imply that that was no excuse for his friend's tardiness.

The kitsune ignored the gesture. "I ran into a British wizard today," he said, changing the topic. "I wonder what brought him here? There are very few magical components in Japan that cannot be found elsewhere."

"He wasn't after either of us," Hiei replied, guessing his ally's concern. "A kappa was what he came for."

"So you met him as well, I see."

The swordsman shrugged. "I was in the park earlier today when he stopped by. Did you know that he got at least a glimpse of your kitsune ears, eyes and tail?"

Kurama looked a little confused. "How...?"

"He has one of those fake eyes."

"That should have made no difference. Wizards can see spirits and ghosts, but my soul is currently inhabiting this body, which should make it invisible to them. Unless..." he trailed off, shaking his head. "It seems I shall have to be more careful around members of the magical community."

Hiei snorted, giving the kitsune his opinion of wizards in general. "A bunch of arrogant weaklings who rely too much on their little sticks," he replied disdainfully. "They can't even tell the difference between a dragon and an illusion."

The redhead carefully studied his friend. "Hiei, please tell me you didn't..."

"The wizard lives. I relaxed my control enough for him to see the dragon, nothing more. The old fool thought it was an illusion," he said darkly.

"And you were able to restrain yourself from attacking after such insulting thoughts?"

"I don't much care for the d├ęcor in the Reikai prison and think it would be in my best interest to take precautions against going back there again," the fire demon replied churlishly. "So, I killed the kappa instead."

"Yes, I remember the last time Koenma found out you didn't save a human in Ningenkai from a youkai. However, the wizard was looking for the water demon, so you simple killed it out of spite?" Kurama asked.

Hiei gave the kitsune a look as if to say 'that's a stupid question' before turning away. "Hn."

The redhead chuckled. "In any case, I have received permission from Koenma for us to travel to the mountains near Genkai's temple for training, provided we are back by sunrise."

"Why does the toddler want us back by sunrise?" the swordsman questioned.

"He doesn't. However, mother will notice if I'm not back by then and you can only stay there as long as I am with you," Kurama explained. "Besides, our sparring match shouldn't last that long."

"Hn. Whatever." With a shrug, Hiei disappeared into the trees, the kitsune following close behind him.

The End