"Spirit gun!" Yusuke yelled, his pointed finger aimed at a lumbering demon. It fell backwards without so much as a scream after the blinding flash of blue energy, a massive hole in its chest revealing where its internal organs had once been.
"Damn it Urameshi, maybe I wanted a chance to stretch my muscles," Kuwabara complained, straightening from his wide open fighting stance, the glowing swords of spirit energy disappearing from his hands. He let out an annoyed sigh.
"It seems something's bothering him," Kurama whispered to his towering friend, staring softly at the young Spirit Detective. "I wouldn't push the issue, unless you want to be on the receiving end."
"Geesh, he just needs to see Keiko," Kuwabara laughed, clasping a large hand on the slender boy's shoulder.
"Have they been fighting?" the answer was obvious as those careful green eyes assessed his friend.
"Yeah. She yelled at him for forgetting a date or something. He's got no conception of love or romance. See, I'd never leave my beautiful Yukina behind. Not even if the world were torn in two."
"Watch yourself lummox," deep crimson eyes narrowed on the burnt orange headed boy. "And leave Yukina alone. She's of no concern to you."
"We're soul mates," the distant gaze all but had hearts floating in it as he wistfully thought of his love.
"You're an idiot," Hiei scoffed.
"Will you three stop jabbering on like school girls?" the dark headed boy yelled sarcastically. "I'm going to die of old age before we get to leave!"
"Hn. Clean up your own mess. I'm no babysitter," Hiei turned his face towards a thicket of trees, his eyes following swift movements untraceable even under his scrutiny. The shadows were too dense, which made his senses more aware. Kurama blinked and followed the shorter demon's example, turning to face the woods with a similar stare.
"Did you see something?" he asked quietly, his hand already preparing to utilize his powers over plants as his fingers clasped a single red rose.
"No." the short response made the other relax. "I heard something, but there's nothing past the shadows."
"I see," the red head nodded, turning back to their human friends. "I can tell you want to go check it out. I'll stay here."
Hiei gave a crisp nod, not bothering to speak before disappearing with his hand resting on the hilt of his blade. The breeze of his movements had lost most of its shock on his allies and friends, but the awe of his quickness remained.
"Finally, it's done," red hair poured over slender shoulders, shielding is face from the sunlight as he stepped outside onto the back campus of his school. With his tray in hand he headed towards a large, round tree that always seemed to bring him comfort. Anything rooted in soil had this effect, helping him relax as much as he'd let himself.
"Yeah, those tests were a real pain. Everyone took so long to get it over with, that made it worse. I finished mine in half an hour, and then actually got to read my books all the way through for once."
Iruni Mikamoto sat beside him, no tray or bag containing a lunch in her grasp. She just stiffly planted herself down as she spoke. Kurama looked at his own lunch, and back to her.
"Are you hungry?" he finally asked, politely as ever. The shade from the tree they sat against was cool and comfortable. The thick trunk his back pressed against was filled with life, and that eased into him just enough to lessen his tension some more.
"No." she shook her head. He let himself study her more seriously, realizing that her back was straight instead of pressed against the tree. She always seemed to sit straighter than the other girls they went to school with, always a bit more proper. But she was solitary by nature he remembered. Iruni preferred to spend her time reading away from her fellow students, even in class she remained reserved and closed off. Her deliberately starting a conversation with him, as bothered as she seemed to be to go through with it, was the most forward gesture she'd ever made that Kurama had seen. He wondered why she was speaking to him, what she could possible want that concerned him.
"What's wrong, if I may ask, Mikamoto?" he asked gently, grasping the apple on his tray. He watched her as he took a bite, noticing her eyes scanning campus before settling on him out the corner of her gaze.
"Look, normally I stick to myself and stay out of the way because I don't like being involved in the affairs of others, but quite honestly this isn't just about you. I've been looking around all day, and some short man in black has been keeping his eyes tracked on you." She looked around the tree to the edge of campus where Hiei stood, leaning casually against a wall as he stared. "He looks like trouble you know. You should handle that."
"What? Oh. No, no. That's alright," Kurama laughed dismissively, offering his hands up in a casual gesture to dispel the girl's concern. She took a deep breath and stood up, not looking ready to leave.
"Are you sure Shuichi? He's got this sort of aura around him that is nothing but aggression. People like that, they're up to no good." She turned her dark blue eyes to him with a lazy expression of concern, as if she were slightly put out with having to deal with this situation or society at all. There was a sincere helpfulness to her tone though, one he appreciated. Shaking her head her black hair shivered down her back, trailing from the control of her low ponytail. Her lazy gaze turned back to the fire demon, as if she was more aware of him than she'd let on.
"Hiei is a friend of mine. He's probably just waiting to tell me something." Kurama waved his hands again with a disarming smile. He met eyes with the topic of the conversation. Taking the invitation, Hiei slowly started walking forward. His crimson eyes betrayed his hatred for the careful human pace he had to use in front of company. Kurama watched the girl as she watched his friend, something about her reaction was strange, even for a human. Her body stiffened, then relaxed when he got within a few yards. She had straightened up to her full height, which was only barely taller than the dark haired boy. Her eyes stayed trained on him as he came to a stop in front of them, Kurama still sitting under the protection of the tree.
The red eyed fire demon looked at his careful friend, then moved from emerald eyes to sapphire. She narrowed her eyes slightly, but other than that remained relaxed. It didn't more than a second for Kurama to understand the looks on their faces. It was the look one gave an opponent when they were faced with each other outside the ring, distrust. This shocked him.
"It can wait," Hiei closed his eyes and turned away, bored apparently. The words were curt, and he turned over his shoulder to look back at his friend. "You'll be able to find me."
"Of course." Kurama nodded, as empty air took the space the demon had stood.
"You need better taste in friends Shuichi, trusting men like that will get you killed. And it will be a disgraceful death," Iruni told him coldly, her eyes revealing nothing to him. Her words themselves bothered him though, as if she'd known Hiei was a demon, and that was incredibly dedicated to that title.
"He's not a bad guy," he defended quietly, looking up at her through his bangs. Her back was already turned as she walked away, her steps a little stiff. "How strange."
She hesitated after he spoke to himself, as if she'd heard then loosened up and continued to walk more gracefully into the building. The clock on campus chimed shortly after, and Kurama sighed exasperated that he had only taken a few bites of an apple for his lunch. The rest of the day he turned over the events he'd gone through, waiting for the signal from his professor that leaving was alright so he could ease his distraction by talking to Hiei about what he'd found.
"So, you said Hiei had news right? Well then where is the midget punk? I don't have all day. I've got to be at the theater to meet Keiko or she'll really do a number on me." Yusuke griped, clenching and unclenching his fists as he flexed.
"He's in the park naturally," Kurama pointed out. He had changed his clothes into casual jeans and a t-shirt, tired of ruining school clothes and having to explain it to his mother.
"What I don't get is why he never comes to us," Kuwabara muttered. Yusuke and Kurama stared at him, eyebrows twitching.
"You can't be serious." The dark headed boy blinked at his giant friend. "I mean, come on man, you have to know exactly why he won't come to us."
"Because him and Kurama are secretly in love?" Kuwabara guessed with a loud laugh as they stepped into the park. He keeled forward, a dark knot rising on the back of his head. Hiei stood behind him, lowering his hand with his eyes closed and a smirk on his face.
"The level your idiocy can reach is forever growing. One would think you'd hit a wall sometime," Hiei told him coolly.
"I agree, Kurama is much to pretty for you anyways." The smart comment was met with a kick to the head. "Ow!"
"Romance is for those who don't hold power," he scoffed turning his face upwards and cutting his eyes down. "All love does is ruin a good fighter, and I have no use for it."
"So you're admitting you would love Kurama if you did have a use for it?" Kurama sighed, annoyed as Kuwabara dug himself a shallow grave. Hiei raised an eyebrow but didn't bother responding.
"I'm admitting I love no one, and never will." He explained slowly. "Kurama has an admirer though, perhaps love is next on his list of priorities."
"What do you mean?" the red head asked curiously.
"The girl who was guarding you at lunch," Hiei rolled his eyes to his most familiar friend. "I've seen the way love struck humans act over their lovers. It's like watching a hungry dog guard a bone."
"Iruni?" Kurama thought for a second, reliving his lunch quickly. "She didn't like you actually. That's the only reason she spoke to me, to warn me you were watching. Your presence really got under her skin."
"I noticed." He admitted, not bothered in the least. "She stared at me like she wanted to say something, but couldn't manage. It's pitiful."
"She distrusts you entirely, and it's strange. She's never met you before and yet she warned me knowing you would end in my death," Kurama chuckled, finding the thought funny. "She's a strange girl though. That's the first I've ever seen her talk to anyone without being forced."
"Aren't we supposed to be getting information or something?" Yusuke demanded as Kuwabara finally righted himself, rubbing his head.
"We were being watched last night. I didn't find whoever it was, but I know they were there, in the shadows. I heard them and when I went to follow I found emptiness." The short statured demon spoke, his cloak lifted only an inch by the breeze.
"But I didn't feel anything," Yusuke told him confused. "Normally I can sense them now. No one else did either."
"There was no trace of energy, just the sounds of the shadows moving," Hiei explained. "It's not surprising that you two missed it, but Kurama, I'm a little disappointed in your hearing."
"My mind was elsewhere," the half hearted argument went untouched. The short demon stared at them silently, content with his report.
"We'll have to keep our eyes open," Yusuke told them. Each nodded to himself and to the ring leader, as the sun was eclipsed by a passing formation of rain laden clouds. Kurama looked down at his watch, seeing the time.
"When did your movie start Yusuke?" he asked casually, alerting his friend to the time and the fact he was most likely late.
"Uh," grabbing Kurama's wrist he blanched, choking on his words. "I gotta go!"
He turned and high tailed it back towards the city in a cloud of smoke, his training allowing for more speed than the average human. The tallest and the red head exchanged an amused look that went over the shorter demon's head. There was a rustling and all three tensed, their bodies prepping for a war.
"Honestly I don't see where you think we're going." The unfamiliar female voice sounded just seconds before Iruni and a taller blonde made their way through the trees, further down from the boys. Both girls had dirt on their school uniforms, and leaves jutted out of their tousled hair.
"I didn't ask you to follow me." Iruni snapped back, stopping as the breeze blew her hair around her face. Turning slowly she found the three fighters watching her and her companion, more than aware of the way their bodies were positioned towards what they had seen as a threat. All of them relaxed realizing she was harmless, which almost made her smile. Only almost.
"Iruni, what are you doing in the woods? It's dangerous." Kurama smiled warmly, which she did not return. Her eyes settled on the short dark headed demon then on the human around him.
"Were you in the woods earlier Shuichi?" she asked suddenly, and the blonde next to her tensed.
"Iruni," she warned.
"It's an honest question Shikari," she responded curtly. Hiei's eyes narrowed at her words and fleetingly she questioned whether he was aware of the girl at her side. Dismissing the idea she went on. "You see, I lost something a while back and I was just wondering if you might've found it."
"Well I haven't been in there in a while, but maybe we could help you look." He offered with a smile.
"That's alright, you're friends look like they'd rather walk across a road of tacks." She shook her head, shifting her hair over her shoulders since it was free from the clasp of the hair tie. "Thank you for the offer though Shuichi. I'll see you at school. Take care."
"You too," he nodded watching as she walked away with her friend, both their heads bent toward the other, as if in conversation. The blonde looked very different, much more loose and messy and the long haired Iruni. Her hair was short and wildly curly, while the other's ran straight and dark to the small of her back. Shikari was her name, and turning to Hiei he realized why his friend had tensed so slightly.
"I think your friend has secrets Kurama," Hiei said with narrowed eyes. "Shikari is a low level demon."
"So low her energy was virtually nothing," Kuwabara stated simply. The others nodded at his fact. "But the dark haired girl didn't seem to notice anything, and with the distance between her and the blonde maybe her inner voice was warning her of danger. They didn't seem close friends or anything."
"When did she first appear?" Hiei questioned his taller friend, staring up at him from the corner of his eyes.
"She's been here her whole life. I've been in school with Iruni for years. She's very smart and very solitary. I can hardly believe she'd be a demon or entangled with them."
"Many would say the same of you." Hiei pointed out, blinking pointed in the direction the girls had gone. "What could she possibly have lost in those trees?"
"Maybe she dropped her wallet," Kuwabara suggested, earning him a harsh glare.
"Hardly." Hiei shifted his eyes back to the empty space before he angled himself towards Kurama.
"I'll keep an eye on her," the red head nodded. "I don't see why though. If she had any spirit energy we'd have felt it."
"Humor me," the crimson eyed demon demanded. With an exasperated sigh Kurama nodded, giving up on explaining to Hiei that not everyone posed a threat. The slender figured girl hardly bore enough muscle to look healthy, much less menacing.
"I don't understand. She seemed human to me. A little cold, but normal." Kuwabara stated, scratching his head.
"It's amazing you've lived this long," Hiei scoffed, stepping away from them. "I have business to attend to."
"I hate when he does that," Kuwabara complained, staring at the empty space and the slight dust cloud revealing their short friend's departure. "Was that the girl he was whining about earlier?"
"Yes, but honestly, sometimes I think our friend get's carried away by his paranoia," Kurama admitted with a half smile. "I'll talk to her tomorrow and do some probing, but I doubt I'll find anything."
"Yeah. Well, are you coming to Genkai's with me too or are you planning on taking off?" he asked as they began walking away from the park.
"Well now that my tests are done, I have plenty of time," Kurama offered. "I'll go with you. How is Yukina doing lately?"
"Oh, my sweet lady love is just fine." He beamed, widening the other's smile.