Update: Hey everyone. First of all I'd like to take a moment to thank all of you beautiful, wonderful people for supporting me through the years with my fanfiction. Because of you, I now write for Fan/Fic Magazine (fanslashfic dot com) as a contributor. I also have my first novel out on Amazon!
If you have been wondering where I've been for this time, you'll be happy to know it's been a hiatus of productivity. I've been writing and polishing several manuscripts. The first of which is now available as an e-book and physical copy on Amazon. It's titled Death's Reject and is written under my pen name: C L Foltermann. It's a paranormal thriller with a flawed but strong female protagonist: Christina Liam. Early reviewers call her a love child between Jessica Jones and Buffy Summers. The second in the series, Monstrous, will be out this October (2016).
If you're interested in continuing to support my efforts as a writer, please check out the story and consider purchasing a copy. I'd sincerely appreciate it.
"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.
"Where'd the runt run off too?" Kuwabara asked, in step beside Yusuke. The short of the humans had his hands clasped behind his head leisurely, as if he hadn't a care in the world. Kurama offered a soft smile before responding.
"Just to see if we were being watched. I think he's getting bored with such easy fights. You know he has to be challenged or he tends to become stressed. That's one demon that's never meant to be tense." Kurama rubbed the back of his neck trying to lessen his own tension.
"Yeah, I guess we all are having our own little issues." Yusuke sighed, hunching his shoulders forward. "How's the second life?"
"It's going." Kurama shrugged slightly, his mind turning towards his mother and his studies. So much energy went into being Shuichi Minamino as well as Kurama that he drained him to the bone some times. He had three tests he hadn't studied for as well as usual, needing to aid his friends in searching for the low level demon they'd just killed. Being the prodigy of his school, his family, and his other world wore him down. "This reminds me, I have to go study for some tests tomorrow. Koenma's orders interfered a bit."
"Funny, I didn't know you actually studied. I figured you just knew everything." Kuwabara laughed, forcing Yusuke and Kurama to join in.
"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 uniforms 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.
"Well, they're just taking their sweet time aren't they?" Botan complained, sitting on the edge of Koenma's desk. It was the only paper free spot she could find. "Honestly. I called Yusuke an hour ago, he should've been here by now."
"Not like anything can be done without them." Koenma pointed out from behind his pacifier. "This mission should be enough to test their growth in power. Combined I see no problem, hell, even if just one went I don't see them losing."
"We've gotten our hopes up before," the blue haired girl blinked violet eyes. "Oh, Koenma sir, what if it really is him? What if he's back?"
"He's been back before and has fallen. I see no problem, he get's weaker with each round," the toddler paced his back wall, ducking behind the desk repeatedly so that he was constantly out of sight. "Yusuke and his team will have no problems what so ever."
"Still, I can't help but remember what I've heard." She looked down as she clasped the front of her kimono with her fist. I hope he's right. I'd hate for them to survive so much to die like this.
"What's the emergency Botan?" the Spirit Detective demanded walking into the office with his three companions. "I had to bail on Keiko again and she's get stronger with every slap."
"I'm sorry Yusuke, but this is important." She chastised. "Keiko will just have to understand."
"Yeah, you explain that to her," he griped. "What is it?"
"I have a mission for you. The others don't have to help, but I thought they might want to. Kurama and Hiei especially when they hear who you're after." Koenma hopped up into his large chair, so that he could face the team and explain the situation.
"Who is it?" Kurama asked warily, not like the ominous cloud hovering over the ferry girl. She looked distraught at the idea of this brewing fight, something he'd learned to take seriously. The others seemed to sense it too, everyone was tense.
"Well, let me start from why this is important. A series of priceless artifacts have been stolen from human, spirit and demon world alike. Vessels, swords and armor. Combined these could create quite the catastrophic force, if the wielder has the power to harness their strengths." He explained.
"And does this guy have the balls or not?" the dark haired Spirit Detective demanded.
"We don't know. That part of the problem. You see, we know who it is, but we don't know much about him other than the fact he's gone on a killing spree lately, gathering a mass of followers," Koenma pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. "It's been a nasty mess, and now he's somehow leaking his power into the human plane. We thought he was going to stay contained in the demon world, which would mean that they could handle it themselves, but apparently we have to involve you Yusuke."
"Oh Koenma! Just tell them already! Get it over with," Botan exclaimed, looking frazzled. "Tell them who they're going to be facing."
"It can't be that bad, after all we've been through," Kuwabara pointed out making Botan turn on him in anger.
"Of course it can! You can't possibly imagine some of the horrible creatures that have existed or still do! There are much worse things in the world than the trials you've been through." She sighed, eyes glittering with unshed tears. "You have to take these tasks seriously you guys."
"Just spit it out already, I haven't got all day," Hiei demanded, utterly annoyed with the emotions floating around him. It couldn't be any worse than demon world, or the Makai Tournament.
"Kurama, have you ever heard of a demon lord by the name of Amon-Shinpi?" Koenma asked, and the red head nodded. "What have you heard?"
"From what I understand, he was at first an underestimated fiend who was shunned into human world because of his kindness towards the mortals who served in his territory. He was said to be just and swift until one day, complete devastation met his village and castle, killing everyone within the village gates." Kurama stated, staring at the toddler prince. "It was suspected that he was the one who caused the ordeal but when he was summoned for trial he escaped, getting wounded. Since then hundreds or more demons have popped claiming to be him, though it is commonly believed he's dead."
"Yes well the demon you're after has assumed that name and the legend it bears. Without conclusive proof of the old Amon-Shinpi's death we can only assume that this could be the demon ruler of times past." Koenma stated. "That's who Yusuke will be after. Mostly because we need those artifacts back, but if you happen to kill him I don't think anyone would complain."
"I've heard of this fighter," Hiei acknowledged. "He was powerful, but vague. Few people fought him and lived and the ones that did refused to face him again. He had quite the loyal following."
"He also took a handful of students, all of whom were killed in the final raid of his village," Kurama nodded. "Yes, this could be very interesting."
"I'm in, I could use some real entertainment since our patrolling rounds have ceased," Hiei nodded. "Mukuro hasn't had anything overly stimulating to offer me lately."
"Yes, I would guess, I haven't ever heard of you so willingly coming into the human world without force or a reason," Koenma slyly cast his eyes to the short demon. "Do you have a reason?"
"I've got something important to keep an eye on," he snorted. "What business is it of yours?"
"Just making sure you aren't wanting to kill anyone."
"Not yet, but if this conversation lasts much longer, maybe I'll reconsider."
"Where is this guy?" Yusuke pressed, cutting the glare Hiei was sending the prince off.
"We don't really know, but we know he's close." Koenma played off the lack of details with nervous laughter, making Botan blanch as the others twitched in impatience. "That's one of the challenges of this particular mission. You're going to have a hard time locating this particular beast."
"It's not a challenge." Hiei boasted confidently. "Taking it slow enough to get the information you seek is what will be difficult, but slaying and finding a demon who wants nothing but power is easy enough."
"He has a point, they tend to find us actually," Kurama nodded.
"Yeah," Yusuke agreed. "I'm all for this."
"Well you better be careful! I don't want to haul your sorry souls around if you die!" Botan threatened. "But anyways, I guess I should go down and see Genkai and maybe Shizuru. It's been a while. I've just been so busy."
"Hey sis will be happy to see you!" Kazuma beamed. "She hasn't been going out as much lately, and I'm starting to get behind on my studies with her always bugging me."
"Hn. The fact these so called higher institutions allow minds like yours in demeans the whole ideal," Hiei smirked. "But it keeps you busy and out of my way."
"Shut up shrimp!" he yelled back.
"Why don't you try to make me?" the short demon commanded. When Kuwabara stepped back he smirked. "Exactly. Now, shut up."
"Are all of you going to be able to handle this or should I just let Yusuke go alone?" Koenma glared at them all, bringing silence to the room. "That's what I thought. Now work together or don't work at all."
"Geesh, someone's got a wet diaper." Yusuke smirked. "No worries we'll handle it."
"Check in with us as often as possible please. I'd like to keep abreast of this so that I can keep father informed." He sniffed, then cowered under his arms, "He's really upset that I've let it get this far!"
"Well, we'll work on it," the dark haired boy waved his hand dismissively. "Don't worry about it."
Before waiting for a response he walked out, and Kuwabara followed quickly. Sighing, Kurama watched them go. Hiei stayed where he was, eyes closed. Botan rolled her eyes and left, the intercom calling her to an emergency.
"Do you think this is the same one?" Kurama asked quietly, turning to Koenma.
"If I knew, I'd be less anxious don't you think?" he shot back, frustrated.
"It can't be. Shinpi died, the whole world knows it. A force that powerful doesn't just lay low, and it doesn't change faces so many times." Hiei spoke opening his crimson eyes to the other two. "Amon-Shinpi was a legendary fiend even Mukuro had left alone. I highly doubt a being like that would attract as much attention as this fool."
"You seem to forget I was similar once Hiei," Kurama pointed out. "There are many reasons a soul goes into hiding."
"From what I understand there was no soul in that particular fighter." Hiei squeezed his fist tightly, "And even if it is him, it won't be a challenge."
"You have gotten stronger haven't you?" Kurama asked stoically earning him an arrogant smile.
"Haven't we all? Even that useless human has become more useful. I doubt very much that anything can stand up to us while we combine our skills."
"Don't let your confidence blind you Hiei, it's killed more powerful demons than yourself," Kurama advised turning back to Koenma. "We'll do our best to make sure you're informed."
"Thank you Kurama. It's good to know someone still has their head on straight," the God-prince sighed. "Sometimes I wonder when the paperwork will end."
"I have to go," just as Koenma was about to ask them to help both demons ran out of the room, making him sigh again.
"I just can't win!" he complained, banging his head on the table. When he raised it a red bruise was already forming. "It's not my century."
Iruni stared into the open sky through the branches of the tree she was choosing to stand on. The branch of thick, but even if it wasn't it wouldn't have mattered. Staring at the white faced moon, she let the energy of the night caress her skin and tangle her hair. Yes, she was definitely more nocturnal the diurnal but she didn't have the chance to live this way. School was much too important for many reasons, and she couldn't afford to slip up. Not with her grades in the top three students of her class, following closely on Shuichi's heels like a hungry dog.
It was a real interesting thing that he never started at her presence and she smiled to herself with that thought. Hiei though, he was a different story. He no more trusted her than she did him. It was interesting for her to believe that as a human she posed a threat, because knowing the little demon's temperament it seemed unlikely.
Of course he was trying to follow her, and he had very nearly succeeded in spotting her when she'd hovered in the trees over his allies. They didn't have what she wanted though, which was a setback. She'd been so sure the Spirit Detective and his crew would have the information or at least the object she desired, but they were a bust.
"I've got to do everything myself," she sighed, looking through the trees to the ground outside the forest. The temple was supposed to be a sacred place, one she often respected. Today it housed an old psychic whose powers were the thing of legends, as well a young ice maiden. Yukina, the girl was called.
They'd met before, just once, back in what felt like a different life time. Back when she had been a miracle. They girl had saved her, and that was an act that Iruni would repay. It was only honorable to do just with those who had cared for you, and since she hadn't repaid the girl then, she'd have to do it now. When the moment arose.
Truthfully, in the short days they'd spent together Yukina had grown on her, she was the sort of soul Iruni admired and envied in the same breath. Such innocence in the face of a cruel world. She was young too, which was one of the last soft spots the dark haired girl had left. Clenching her fist around the branch her hand was resting on she took a deep breath and leapt to the ground soundlessly, kneeling against the soft impact that had once shook her bones.
Genkai was different though. Entirely.
"Why should I let you live?" the young pink haired girl demanded her hand to the throat of a faceless, featureless demon.
"I admire your work Genkai, and I'm not here to kill you. I have nothing you need. You gain nothing by my death and I gain nothing from killing you for trying." Amon-Shinpi spoke clearly, with the voice of authority and counsel. That same voice had coaxed many a human and demon into his welcoming lands, and it coerced a loyalty from them no one else could muster without pain. "I merely wish to talk."
"Talk fast," the sweet voice of the girl was misleading as was her superficial beauty. A younger demon may have been disarmed, but not him. No, he could feel the current of power running through her veins.
"May I trust you to do something for me?" he'd ask simply taking her aback only mentally. Her body was ready to kill.
"What is it?" she requested equally as cautious as he'd spoken. He sensed a great power in the distance, one her body reacted to.
"I need your word that if in the future we cross paths you'll remember me Genkai."
Breaking into a sprint the girl took off through the shadows, headed towards her home. She'd pay a visit to the psychic later, and to Yukina then. Now she needed to prepare for the fast approaching day. The sky was already alight with the first rose tints of daylight and she still had to gather her things for school. She couldn't afford to be suspicious when there were eyes tracking her.
Of course very soon she wouldn't need to worry because her quest would be complete and she wouldn't have to be watched again. As long as no one got in her way no one would fall.
She didn't believe for a second she'd be that lucky.
"Hello Iruni, may I sit with you today?" the girl blinked up at Kurama with wide blue eyes seemingly unaware of his presence for a few seconds.
"I suppose, if you want to," she allowed turning her face back down towards her book. Some of the watching girls squealed their excited chatter at the famously brilliant Shuichi Minamino took his seat beside the quiet, seldom acknowledged Iruni Mikamoto. He was hesitant at first. Nervous perhaps? No, just uncomfortable. "I see your friend hasn't turned on you yet."
"No," he laughed. She lifted her head seriously and raised her eyebrows. "Do you not eat lunch?"
"I prefer to feed my mind," she lifted the book slightly and he nodded, understanding what she meant.
"Still, if you'd like something I'm open to sharing. I won't eat it all anyways." He offered with a warm smile. Most girls fainted at the sight of it, or swooned, but she held fast to herself and looked down at his tray.
"If you are going to insist I might as well be polite and accept," she sighed grabbing his apple and tossing it into the air casually. "You know, sometimes I forget I have to eat so often. I'm always engrossed in my own little world, I never remember to do the simplest things."
"I know how that can be," he smiled. "Life has the habit of getting overly complicated."
"You have no idea." She knew he was the one person who actually did. Biting into the apple she adjusted her legs so her skirt was appropriate but facing him. It was obvious he wanted to speak. "What's on your mind today?"
"I was wondering about our last lunch," he started.
"Don't," she cut him off with a small finger shake. "I was concerned, it doesn't happen much. I promise not to bother you again about it."
"No, I meant, I've never seen you talk to anyone really, but then you were so kind." She blinked as his features softened under the shade of his bangs. They were seated against a different tree, and this situation was entirely different today. Interesting. "Then I saw you with that girl in the woods and I got curious about you. I'm sorry if I'm prying but she doesn't seem like the type you'd hang out with."
"I don't really like people, she's no different," Iruni nodded taking another bite from the crisp apple before continuing. "I just wanted someone with me in those trees. They have a bad aura hovering round their branches. As if something in them is dangerous, waiting for the unsuspecting."
She might be like Kuwabara if anything at all, just hyper aware. "What would you have done if you'd come across something like that?"
"Out run Shikari," she stated simply. "What else would I do? I'm no fighter."
"You'd willing sacrifice your friend," he gaped, appalled.
"Not before she tried to slit my throat, I assure you. In fact we aren't really friends, and we don't really care for each other. As I said earlier, a means to an end." She shrugged.
"Did you find what you wanted?" he pressed, making her cut her eyes to him without turning her head.
"Not yet, but I'm moving closer. There's a few more places I need to check." She smiled at him and it made him smile back. Something in that grin was cool but something else was there that he couldn't identify.
"Why have such dangerous friends?" he asked, biting into his sandwich. She bit into the apple and read, swallowing before answering. Kurama looked past her to the demon watching from the thick of trees behind the school, camouflaged, knowing that every word was being listened to.
"So I can warn others so that they don't suffer through my mistakes, if I have a real reason. Maybe I like the thought of danger." She looked up at him, blinking. "You don't think we're friends do you?"
"Uh," he didn't answer and she smiled.
"Good. Because we aren't. You see, I don't trust people without much time or energy, neither of which either of us are really going to display. I appreciate your company, in fact I enjoy it, which is new. But in the end, we simply aren't meant to be friends," she stated with a warm smile, her eyes glowing with approachability. Her entire attitude was in contradiction with her words, and he didn't understand it for a second.
"Why?" he asked, and she chewed on the flesh of the red fruit in her hand. Taking another bite she made him wait.
"I've learned that trust is a luxury I cannot afford. I wish this weren't the case some days, but it is." Hiei, even from his distance, heard the sadness in her voice and saw the shadows cast into her eyes. There was a secret under those shadows that she was burying. Kurama wanted to comfort her, but didn't know what to do.
"Would you like it if I left you alone?" he asked finally, eyes downcast with her pain. It was impossible not to feel it around her. She blinked the clouds in her eyes away until they shined clearly and quietly she studied his face.
Warring with herself she wondered what was most advantageous of her situation. If she sent him away, she'd be alone and protected, but his proximity was welcomed. If she got close he might die. Sighing she answered the only way she honestly could.
"I'm not sure, Shuichi, if you should stay or go, but I won't fight either decision you make. I'm at a bypass." She laughed at herself, her own stubborn mind couldn't win even in its own confines.
"Why is that?" he asked her, worried about how to proceed.
"Because I like you Shuichi, you're a good person and I'm always drawn to them, but I just can't keep friends. I'm like an unstable chemical, just waiting for my catalyst at times. I'd hate to have you caught in the explosion." She laughed again, knowing exactly what would happen if he was near her when her 'explosion' occurred. "Stay if you want, but I gave you fair warning."
"Yes, you have," he smiled at her. "I can handle myself."
"That's what everyone says," she laughed, stifling it into a warm smile. Making a gun out of her fingers she pointed it at him. "And then bang. They take off like bats out of hell."
"It's amazing you don't talk more. It seems like you enjoy the company," he joked with her leaning closer. Adjusting herself to keep the space between them she laughed. The clock sounded the time and they rose together, both fluidly. "You're different from the others. A little more proper, a harder worker."
"Nothing should come from a life that doesn't require work," she shrugged. "Well I have to go, but it was nice talking to you Shuichi."
"Yes, tomorrow again?" he asked with a cheerful smile, and she paused, considering.
"If you want to risk it," she smiled back then ran across the field into a large building. Hiei was on the ground before the doors swung closed behind her, looking up at Kurama.
"Still don't believe that there's something strange?" he asked stoically.
"I never said I didn't believe. I just said it was unlikely," the taller demon pointed. "It's funny though, I can't sense anything from her. Except her sadness."
"Yes, even I felt that." Hiei nodded, "She's hiding something though."
"Well, maybe we'll find out soon. What did you learn of this Amon-Shinpi situation?" they started walking into the trees, unaware of blue eyes following their footsteps. As they crossed the barrier of the woods she ran through the building, exiting out the back so that it was short hike towards the temple. She'd already called Genkai so set up a meeting, but she would arrive early enough to meet Yukina and explain.
"I haven't found anything useful. Maybe the oaf the Spirit Detective have something." Hiei jumped into the nearest tree out of view and Kurama followed on foot, firmly planted on the ground. "I did hear he's created quite the blood bath though, I'm almost sorry I missed all the action."
"Yes, because I'm sure you would've been able to explain that all away," Kurama shook his head with a small smile. "You are just one force of destruction that cannot be quelled aren't you?"
"I enjoy the simple things in life, like death and power," Hiei smirked. "I'm easily satisfied I guess you could say."
Iruni came to the training grounds and had to slow down and catch her breath at the sheer abundance of power that had once called this temple home. The memory of it was impressive, but the real thing, that had been mesmerizing. She'd seen Genkai battle first hand in the Dark Tournament years ago, hiding in the crowd and going unnoticed. She'd watched the whole tournament, escaping just before the collapse of the building after Toguro's death. It was a compulsion, just that one time, to witness the barbaric events. Like her body had known Yusuke Urameshi's power would explode, and that it would be the most talked about fight of the century.
Whatever had caused her to run towards that arena had given her an advantage now, allowing her a glimpse at the team before they even knew who she was. It was rare, to be so far ahead of one's opponents, but she was thankful for the luck. Of course, she wished she could avoid fighting them completely, but that seemed unlikely. If they solved her secret she'd be hunted to the brinks of any world she entered and that was something she did not wish to live through.
Her feet were already working up the thousand steps leading up to the massive building, when she felt the first tug of energy on her awareness. Turning off the steps she walked across the grass coming to the far backside of the open lawn where a girl kneeled in a green kimono, a blue obi tied around her small waist. Turquoise hair was tied back by a thin ribbon the same deep red as her telling eyes.
"Yukina," she breathed, softening at the sight of the innocent girl doing laundry behind the temple.
"Oh, hello. I didn't see you," she looked up and smiled. "If you're looking for Genkai she's not here right this moment. Well, she is, but not out here."
"I know. That's alright. She's expecting later," Iruni bowed deeply, letting her dark hair spill from down her back to over her shoulders as if it were a curtain. Yukina rose, a little shocked, then returned the bow shallowly.
"You didn't have to do that," she stuttered. "Really. This isn't my temple."
"Actually, you saved my life once Yukina, though I doubt you'd remember." Iruni looked at the ground and blinked up at the ruby eyed ice maiden, memories overpowering her senses for a second. "I'd like a chance to finally say thank you and explain how deeply I am in your debt."
"What took you so long?" Hiei demanded of the human and the Spirit Detective, as they ran towards them. Kurama was looking over the street, watching them approach when it happened. The alert he was always on guard for. The Jagan eye flared quickly, before dying away, telling him that something was near Yukina that had no business being there.
Without waiting for his friends he ran, Kurama quickly following on his heels but not fast enough to keep up.
"She's at Genkai's," were the last words the red head could discern before the black blur disappeared.
"I, I really wasn't expecting this," Yukina blushed at Iruni as they stood with feet between them. "I swear, I won't reveal a thing. But honestly, you don't have to do this you know. I'm fine and I'm well protected. I don't need another guardian."
"I cannot live without fulfilling all my debts," Iruni waved a hand dismissively with a smile. She winked at the other girl openly, "it's part of my Code. You saved my life, and now you know I have to repay that favor. It's only right."
"Kazuma has a code," Yukina's blush deepened and Iruni laughed. "He's a very honorable man."
"Yes, you've said that," Iruni nodded happily. "I can't wait to meet him. He sounds like a catch."
"Oh, he is. He's kind, and warm, and strong." Yukina lost herself in her thoughts, oblivious to the approaching energy that burned around Iruni. That energy was quick, unmistakable. Looking out of the corner of her eye she placed it and jumped backwards into time to dodge a wide slash by the fire demon as he slid to a stop between her and Yukina. As his feet stopped he stripped himself of his black cloak, tossing it to the side.
"I see," Iruni looked between them. Their eyes, their size, the fearless protection labeling Hiei's features. She'd worn a mask like that once upon a time, and instant recognition slammed into her. She didn't have time to elaborate as she dodged another attack, hearing the distant voices of his friends as they approached.
"What are you doing here?" he demanded, as she stepped back taking a few deep breaths before the inevitable.
"I have an appointment," she explained.
"Liar," he shot forward as the line of his friends stopped within viewing range, but outside of the danger zone. She run backwards to avoid his attacks, and he pressed forward without hesitation.
"Damn it!" she swore, as his blade narrowly missed her face and cut through the long hair there, trimming it from feet to mere inches. "Now you've pissed me off."
"Die." He sped up his attacks and she narrowed her eyes, aggravated. She couldn't afford to die in a useless grudge match with the fire demon, and she wouldn't kill him in front of Yukina.
"Stop this!" the girl screamed from the wayside, while the others watched. Ducking under the blade Iruni managed to land a punch on Hiei's abdomen, sending him back a few inches. The shock was enough time for her short knife from her pocket bringing a rumble of laughter from the demon's throat. The attacks renewed.
Back flipping and tumbling Iruni dodged each of the attacks not bothering to go on the defensive as he advanced. They were moving must faster now, his annoyance speeding his actions up, but it still wasn't enough of a challenge to make her lose her grip on defense.
The fight was kicked into higher gear, moving forward in brief flashes of sight showing only when one or both opponents slowed down. Dodging the blade was becoming more difficult as Yukina called for an end to the fight and Hiei moved faster. Mukuro had been doing him right with her training. Jumping out of the way of a killing blow Iruni took a second to breath before diving back into the fight, realizing she couldn't back away from this one.
"She's fast," Kurama said softly of his school mate, his mouth slightly open in shock. "I've never seen a human move so easily with such speed."
"Hiei is faster," Yusuke shrugged unconcerned, but following each of the movements he could.
"Don't be so unforgiving Hiei! You don't know what was happening!" Yukina begged, her wide crimson eyes shining up at the team. "Iruni is not a monster! She wasn't going to hurt me! Please make him stop. She doesn't need to die!"
"I disagree," Hiei directly where the cold eyed girl was standing, grinning victoriously when her breathless body didn't move. No, her speed had cut out on her this time, and his smirk widened as blood splashed to the ground.
"Oh, wow," Yukina stared at the scene, eyes alight with awe and respect as the others blinked in curiosity.
"What!" Hiei growled in anger, snarling as he stared at the end of his blade, his arms having to call muscles into action he shouldn't have needed.
"I offer a stalemate," Iruni kneeled on the length of his sword, her left hand gripping so tightly half up the blade that her blood was dripping to the ground into the puddle she'd caused for herself. He'd missed completely, and now her short blade was pressed into the white cloth protecting his third eye. On her toes, with one knee down and her right arm outstretched the tip of her previously scoffed knife pressed into his Jagan, enough for the pressure to keep him still but not enough to damage it or him. He'd never had this happen and so he held the sword with her balancing on it, as her cold blue eyes met his crimson orbs.
Locked in that stagnant pose, they stared at each other, neither wanting to release first. Finally she stood, rising on the tip of his katana and back flipping off as if it were a tree branch or balance beam. The grace and control of her body was telling of her absolute control and skill. Tossing her useless knife into the shadowed woods she shook her wounded left hand spreading droplets of her blood over the ground.
"Did she really just perch on his sword?" Kuwabara asked finally, filling the silence the battle's end had enveloped them with.
"Iruni!" Yukina ran forward taking her hand and examining it, "you're hurt."
"Check on your friend, not me Yukina. Your loyalties should lie with him." The dark haired girl gave the turquoise headed girl a soft smile unlike the one she'd bestowed on Kurama. This one was purely good intentions. Slipping her hand away she turned towards Hiei. "He just nearly died assuring your safety. I'm sure that's a rare honor from a demon of his caliber."
He was still staring at his sword, angry and shocked of what had just occurred. He couldn't shake his infuriation of it all. He'd barely realized she was there before her blade had touched him. She could have pushed forward an inch and blinded him, or further and killed him. But she hadn't. He wasn't decided on what aggravated him more, the loss or the pity.
"Why didn't you press through?" he demanded, pointing his sword at her with narrowed eyes. "Why attempt to escape?"
"Yukina has cried enough tears for one lifetime," she replied coldly, assuring the team she'd done them no favors by this. "I refuse to do that to her."
The group of four and the girl with them each stammered a bit at the confession. Kurama was the first to recover.
"That's honorable," he told her, making her scoff.
"She's an innocent girl. As if any true fighter would hurt her." She shook her dark hair, fingering the shortened sections that had been cut by Hiei's sword. "Plus, I didn't come here to stain my hands red."
"You knew of my Jagan," Hiei confirmed.
"I know a lot of things," she replied vaguely, letting her eyes wander leisurely. "Where is Genkai?"
"Oh she's-" Yukina was cut off by Yusuke.
"The hag is busy, so anything you need from her you can run by me, as her official apprentice," Yusuke cracked his knuckles with an arrogant smile. "That old woman doesn't like visitors anyways."
"Do you really think you could kill her when I couldn't?" Hiei snapped at him. Yukina crossed over to him and stood with her hands clasped under her chin.
"Are you hurt Hiei?" she asked quietly, eyes glittering with emotion. In response he bent down, swinging his cloak around his shoulders and fastening it.
"No," he told her sheathing his sword. After a moment he blinked at the dark headed girl, realizing they were close in height. "You don't happen to have the ability to adapt to the pain of your enemies defenses do you?"
"I don't need such crude skills. I'm simply a superior fighter," she told him firmly. "Do not compare me to any fool who ever worked for a demon as ridiculous as Suzuka. He may have the skills to create interesting toys, but real fighters use their own bodies and specialties, not something made in a workshop."
"Is it just me or do they seem a lot alike?" Kuwabara quietly asked his closer friends.
"So it's not just me." Kurama chuckled behind his hand watching the two shorter members of the party stand off.
"How do you know about Suzuka?" Yusuke asked curiously, his hands behind his head. The girl's eyes twitched in annoyance, making Hiei smirk.
"You people, your grate on my nerves," she stated. Then through clenched teeth she ground out, "I was at the Dark Tournament, Spirit Detective. Now move. I am expected by Genkai and you've made me late."
"Dimwit, I hope you aren't causing trouble on my grounds," Genkai's rough voice resounded seconds before she walked out of the shadows before the temple. Her arms were clasped behind her back.
"Just dealing with this," he gestured to Iruni, who narrowed her eyes on him then turned to the psychic.
"So is that why you're taking so long?" she asked the short girl who shrugged carelessly. "What do you want?"
"Any information on Amon-Shinpi you can offer," Iruni demanded quickly. The team exchanged a look, each wondering the same thing. How does she know that name?
"What do you plan on doing with that information?" Genkai questioned, the wind stirring her grey hair.
"He stole something of mine and I want it back." Iruni blinked, obviously uncomfortable with being nearly surrounded. Her eyes shifted around the group, her feet moving restlessly like a trapped animal.
"Why don't you come inside and have some tea, then we'll talk," the old woman offered turning without waiting for a response and heading into the temple, passing through the shadows. Without speaking Iruni followed her, making a wide arc around the seething demon and the group of boy's around him. Yukina walked at her side.
"I told you," Hiei stated firmly, walking passed the others and into the open doors.
"I honestly never suspected her as anything but human, but now that seems highly unlikely. No human can move that way," Kurama, Yusuke and Kuwabara turned towards the temple and started walking. "Even fighting Hiei she never used spirit or demonic energy though."
"I bet she can hide her power," Kuwabara guessed, tapping his chin. "But that means she must have a good deal of energy."
"Why's that?" Yusuke asked, moving his arms so he could peek through at his taller friend without removing his arms from his head.
"Well, why bother hiding it if there isn't enough to draw attention to? I mean, if I was super powerful then I'd never let anyone know it. That why I'd always have the element of surprise," he explained feeling his awareness awaken. "She's something though. My senses are tingly."
"Her eyes do have that effect," Kurama agreed. "They're very cold, but it's a detached awareness. As if she's seeing a world that she controls. I've never seen anything like it."
"She reminds me of Hiei, except nicer and less prone to murder." Kuwabara laughed.
"If we hurry we might actually get to hear what Genkai has to say. The old bat wouldn't tell me a damn thing when I called earlier." Yusuke pointed out, breaking into a sprint.
They arrived in time to see Yukina pouring steaming tea into small cups, only setup for three. The old woman and the dark haired girl sat opposite each other, kneeling in their seats. Hiei was leaning against a wall, beside an open window, watching the scene. His eyes flicked to the entrance of his teammates then back to the table as Yukina took her seat on a cushion beside their guest.
"Nice of you three to join us. Now get in and shut up," Genkai snapped.
"They can speak, if it's constructive. I've heard of their work and they might actually be useful. After all, we're all hunting the same beast." Iruni sipped her tea, then nodded a bow towards her host, not bothering to elaborate on her claim. "Thank you for honoring my request to visit your temple Master Genkai."
"I was shocked to receive it, most people just come as they please."
"As you can tell, I'm not most people."
"So I'm noticing," Genkai tried to size up the girl to no effect. "You aren't human are you?"
"I am," Iruni met the psychic's eyes imploringly, searching for something no one understood. She smiled though. "Mostly."
"You aren't going to explain that are you?" Kurama asked.
"What information do you want, because I'm not exactly a walking encyclopedia or anything. I don't know everything girl," Genkai stared, setting her tea cup on the table.
"It's lucky then, that I'm only after a specific set of information. What do you know of Amon-Shinpi?" Iruni asked, reaching back to tie her hair away from her face in a long practiced motion.
"Which one? The original or the countless imposter?"
"The imposter, currently, is a poor imitation from what I understand. He's a large cumbersome beast with a thirst for power and blood. He kills without regard but maintains no respect. He's a high class butcher." Genkai snorted in disgust.
"Yes, I've heard that," The group watched the flight of anger across the previously stoic face. "I was hoping they'd learn to have more class, but I guess not."
"Not so much," Genkai shrugged. "I'm not entirely convinced he's even powerful."
"What an insult to the real Amon-Shinpi. So many years of graceful power to be stolen by any rogue with a history lesson. From what I understand, there have been nearly a thousand faces of Amon-Shinpi in his short absence, none of them touching close to the original." Iruni bowed her head, casting her face in shadow. "This one is no different. A trail of blood leading straight to the front door of his under protected fortress."
"I agree. It's rather messy and barbaric," the old woman nodded sagely, sounding annoyed for the both of them. "You seem well informed."
"I never trust the mouths of demons," Iruni stated. "I always double check my information, I've learned it's the safest way to secure it. But please, go on."
"Well, the original, if I recall, was a different breed of beast. He was powerful in many ways, but I don't remember any story of him initiating a war, or causing a massacre. He was a ruthless fighter in battle, eventually earning his right to abstain from such actions. He was a just competitor though, always fair in his own way.
"His castle was full of power, protecting a village around its case. It's said that he loved that village and its occupants, despite their humanity. He protected it mercilessly.
"There's one story that claims a priestess from the village was his lover. A beautiful fire hearted woman of tremendous spiritual power. She was killed in a siege that left the caste in rubble and the village in ashes."
"Yes, that's when he lost his brother. The action that drove him over the edge," Iruni nodded, looking up from under bangs before shaking the anger from her features. "I've heard no one knows why this attack was completed when countless others were thwarted. All the times before the onslaughts were massacred outside the village gates.
"But this time everyone died. The village was burned to the ground, the people slaughtered regardless of sex or age, and for the first time utter destruction accompanied Shinpi's name. They claim his brother's death drove him to ruin anything that he had ever cared about."
Genkai nodded as Kurama's thoughts bombarded him with questions about this mysterious girl. From the twist of Hiei's features, his mind was along the same lines.
"What did this demon steal from you?" Kurama asked. "If he's such a killer, what would he need your possessions for?"
"That's my business," she snapped at him, then made a face as if in apology. "It's a family heirloom alright?"
"How did you get involved in this?" he continued. Knowingly she raised her eyebrows at him.
"It's obvious you figured out Shikari was a demon, which isn't surprising." She nodded. "and now you assume I am one as well."
"It is a curious relationship," he allowed.
"It isn't a relationship, I told you. It's also none of your business and if I was, wouldn't you be able to tell by now Kurama? After all, the Youko has an amazing sense of smell. He could discern my energy before getting close to me." Her words made him narrow his eyes darkly, radiating danger. "I told you already, I watched you all at the Dark Tournament."
"Why would a human girl with no stakes be at such an event?" Hiei demanded.
"Indeed why. I like watching skilled fighters and I was invited." She shrugged, not in the least bit bothered by his aggression. "Your team especially enthralled me. I enjoyed watching you win. Well most of you anyways."
"I don't believe you," Hiei stated coolly, his hand on his hilt.
"Did I ask you to?" she asked him sarcastically, unafraid of his anger or his sword. "At any rate, Shikari is the one who swiped my damn heirloom, then she took off. Once I found her, she told me she'd sold it to this imposter demon. I want it back."
"Was it a gift?" Yukina asked quietly.
"From my grandfather," Iruni nodded. "You're a good spirit Yukina. I admire that in apparitions. It reveals a good heart and character."
"Thank you," the red eyed girl blushed.
"Just remember, if you ever need anything at all, let me know. I'll do what is within my power to help you at all times my friend. As repayment for you caring for me." In a lower voice, one that even the demons couldn't understand she leant forward and whispered. "My secrets are not worth your life however. Never put me before yourself."
"Alright," Yukina nodded with determination. Genkai swiveled her eyes between them.
"Your eyes are interesting Iruni. Calculating, cold, strong," Genkai stated, and for a brief second the girl had hope that she'd made the connection. "But when you look at Yukina you soften."
"She reminds me of someone I used to know. It's refreshing," the dark haired girl smiled with a shrug. "Well, I guess I can't ask for much else. You've been more than helpful Genkai, thank you."
"I only reaffirmed what you knew," she pointed out in her gravelly voice.
"That's more than enough. Now may I offer my help I finding this beast? It would be easier on all of us." Iruni turned and stared at Yusuke, "Spirit Detective, if your team agrees I'm at your disposal."
"We'll talk it over," he told in his authoritarian voice, which she nearly chuckled at.
"Another human will only slow us down," Hiei complained.
"But with her apparent expertise she could be an asset," Kurama pointed out.
"Not to mention we should keep her close until she reveals what she is," Kuwabara argued.
"Do what you will, but my babysitting days are through. I have no interesting in saving some wench who can't keep her thoughts to herself," Hiei closed his eyes and angled his face up and away from them.
"What a snob," Iruni accused. "Like I'd need your help anyways. I have no use for a demon who can't even cut me with his own weapon of choice."
"I went easy on you so that I don't get found out by Koenma again." He warned with a harsh smile. "Next time you won't be so lucky."
"Does that mean I can actually try and fight, or do I have to keep lowering myself to your standards Hiei?" she smirked at his anger, watching it make him tense.
"Wow she's something else. She's not even blinking an eye at him and he's starting to that look like he's going to cut her in half or something," Kuwabara stepped back.
"For once the fool is being perceptive," Hiei cut his eyes to the infuriating mortal at the table. "You should put yourself in check."
"No thank you," she declined with an eager smile. He twitched as she rose fluidly, bowing to her host again, and then to Yusuke. "Kurama, or should I say, Shuichi, can find me when you decide whether or not you want my help. I recommend hurrying because quite frankly, I'm impatient, and with or without your help, I'm going to face this demon."
"I say we let her go, I'd like to watch him pick her from his teeth," Hiei smirked.
"Whatever you decide, let me know," she walked towards the doors. "Thank you Genkai, for your time."
"You're a respectable little scoundrel aren't you?" Genkai asked with a half smile.
"Yes, well, I always said we'd meet face to face Master Genkai," Iruni turned her blue eyes full force onto the psychic, imploring her one last to remember her faded promises. Giving up for the night, she shook her head and walked out the door. "Have a good night."
"Wait Iruni, I'll walk you home," Kurama ran out after her, leaving the group dumbfounded.
"Looks like your world has finally corrupted him completely," Hiei scoffed. "Now he's in love."
"No, that's not it," Genkai shook her head. "He's curious, and you know Kurama, he must know everything about the people he's involved with. If he doesn't understand something it will drive him nuts."
"I still say the ningen has done something to him," he scoffed.
"Sounds like jealously to me," Yusuke laughed, making Yukina blink in confusion. "You're just pissed she dodged all your attacks. I mean the only blood you spilled she caused. That was a bad ass move."
"Shut up," the demon demanded.
"Well it was," the detective grinned.
Kurama caught up with Iruni half down the stairs, where she'd stopped walking. He couldn't tell if she was waiting for him, or if it was a happy coincidence.
"I believe we'll decide to let you come," he told her cheerfully, standing at her side. Her eyes removed themselves from the moon and met his. "I'd like to talk to you as we walk, if that's alright."
"I won't stop you, but I can't guarantee my responses," she told him, starting back down the stairs. He fell into pace beside her easily. "What would you like to talk about?"
"Your fight with Hiei," he started and noticed the immediate grin on her face. "You were very skilled in it, and that's surprises all of us. I was wondering why you seem to enjoy annoying him."
"While I sat in the stands of the Dark Tournament I witnessed many fighters." She started with a half smile, lost in her memories. "But my favorite team was the wild card. Watching the bursts of power and the shifting into former personas it was like I was watching history. Your team was absolutely amazing."
"Thank you, I'll relate that information," he smiled.
"You and Hiei, you were my favorites. At first I preferred you, because I'm always partial to animal apparitions. But when Hiei unleashed the Dragon of the Darkness Flame for the first time, my mind went blank with shock. I'd never expected that. Just like watching the great Youka Kurama stand in the ring, it was just surreal." She grinned to herself.
"So you challenge him because you enjoyed watching him grow as a fighter," he nodded.
"No, I challenged him to prove I could beat him," she clarified. "But he is an amazing swordsman. Mukuro is the best teacher he could have, because she will demand and command his respect and his loyalty. She'll change him into a great warrior. But he's still stubborn and arrogant, it's a little embarrassing."
"How do you know so much of the workings of demon world and spirit world?" he asked her seriously, suspicious.
"You'll find out soon enough." She sighed, stopping in front of an empty home. There were no lights, no signs of life besides the tended lawn. The house itself was sad, looking broken. The black wrought iron fence enclosing its small plot of land was rusted. "I can't wait to fight all of you, at some point Kurama. And yet, I hope I never have to. I've seen all of your capabilities but that was years ago. I can only imagine how much you've grown."
"Yes, we are very different than we were then. Hiei and Yusuke especially," he nodded.
"Don't tell people that Kurama." She chastised him quickly, with a sharp tone. "Do you wish your teammates to die? You must protect them and their secrets. It's part of that loyalty. If I were an enemy I could use what you've said against them, just as I know I could use Yukina against Hiei."
"How do you know that supposing its true?" he pulled out his rose, ready to fight. She looked at it and smiled coldly.
"When he threw himself between us, he had this look on his face. I've seen it before. It's the look of an older sibling valiantly putting themselves between death and their younger brother or sister. That determination to protect and live. Not to mention the radical eye color common to the ice maidens. I'm no fool, I know this is a secret and its one I will die with. Hiei will never know I know, because the information is useless to me." She told him coldly. "I would never come between them."
"Why is that?" he watched her push the fence open and walk up the cracked concrete that lead to her door.
"Because I'm not heartless and he's got nothing I want." She admitted honestly. Looking down she smiled, hiding her eyes from them because she knew the emotions in them would betray her. "Goodnight Shuichi, I'll see you when you decide."
"Don't you have classes?" he asked.
"Not until next week," she shook her head. "Some of us excel in small doses."
"I see, well, then I'll see you when we have a decision for you." He nodded, and turned away. As he left her sight she noticed the single red rose shoved into the grass just inside the gate.
"What a tricky fox you are," she smiled letting herself into her home.
"This is a complete waste of time," Hiei muttered, waiting as Kurama walked to the door of the dilapidated house. "Who lives in a home like this anyways? It would be easier just to live outside instead of worrying about a building collapsing on you."
"She's not here," Kurama blinked, confused. This was the right house, he even saw the rose he'd left here as a marker.
"What do ya mean she's not here Kurama?" Yusuke demanded. "Thought you said she'd wait on us."
"Maybe we got lucky and she went into battle unprepared." Hiei smirked. "Her arrogance seems high enough."
"I'm glad you think so highly of me Hiei," Iruni stood behind the short demon juggling a few grocery bags. Shoving one into his arms she passed, leading the way to the door. After opening it she turned to the group of four, "Well hurry up. I don't have all day you know."
"Do I look like a slave?" he hissed.
"No, you look useful. Just carry the bag please." The other three followed her in, the shorter demon coming in last and shoving the bag into Kuwabara's hands.
"Put yourself to use human," he demanded.
"Just set it on the counter, thanks," Iruni set the other bags down then bustled around the kitchen, putting things up. "Sorry about the mess, I'm not used to company."
"This is messy?" Yusuke looked around the bare floors, clean walls and neat furniture. The small house had no personality, like it was a shell.
"I think she was referring to the overall state of the house, not the cleanliness." Hiei informed him dryly.
"Did someone pull your chain?" she asked sharply making the most human boys snicker. "Feel free to watch as I do all the work."
"Oh, I'm sorry, would you like help?" Hiei offered sarcastically. "Do I look like a maid. It's your house, do it yourself."
"You're an inch away from making my bad day your worst nightmare shrimp," she snapped. This time the others couldn't contain themselves and burst into laughter, lightening the girl's features against her will. "Damn. I can't keep a straight face when you guys are laughing."
"They just spared your life," Hiei snarled.
"You just spared yourself from a free lunch. Enjoy hunger," she set out some food and put more away. "Sorry I wasn't home, but I needed some groceries. How do you boys feel about a home cooked meal really fast? While I'm cooking you can tell me what you've learned and all that exciting news."
"Food sounds great!" Kuwabara grinned. Yusuke nodded with bright eyes, grabbing her hand and Kuwabara grabbed the other.
"You're a life saver Iruni. Of course we can to tell you that we want you to come with us, and now you cook for us. This is the," Yusuke sniffled. "the best day of my life."
"I wouldn't get excited until you taste it." She giggled nervously, pulling her hands away. "It won't take too long. Make yourselves at home if you want. Get off my counter Hiei, I do not clean just to have to redo it."
"You said make yourself at home," he pointed out, continuing to sit on her counter so he could look out the window.
"An invitation for guests, not pests," she clarified hopelessly. "Whatever just keep your hands to yourself and don't get in my way."
"Can I be of any help Iruni?" Kurama asked quietly, his smile warm.
"Yes, keep them contained," she pointed at Yusuke and Kuwabara. "I don't want them destroying my house. After all, it could collapse at any minute."
"Hn." Hiei huffed to himself.
Cutting vegetables Iruni started singing to herself, losing contact with the fact four boys were in her home. Cooking was relaxing for her, a treat for herself. The more she cooked the happier she would be for a short time, always glad to be busy and especially useful. Not many things compelled her this way.
"That's a lovely song," Kurama told her, sitting neatly in a chair, watching the other two.
"Something my mother taught me," she kept her head down, moving on to the rice she'd started before she left. It was ready, but the meat hadn't been cooked yet. Sighing she took out a pan and added a touch of oil, then through the chopped meat in. Waiting for that to sizzle she turned back to the rice, adding soy sauce to it and then the vegetables. Dividing herself between two tasks she stirred the rice, mixing the soy sauce and the vegetables, and stirred the cut chicken until it was done all the way through. Combining them she added more soy sauce and mixed everything in the rice, then smiled. Sure it was simple, but hey, it was food.
"It's just fried rice," she told the boys as they hovered in the kitchen, eyes half closed.
"It smells great," Yusuke grabbed a large bowl of it, as did Kuwabara. Blinking she watched Kurama had a healthy portion himself, then Hiei. Looking in the nearly empty bowl she blinked again.
"Wow, there's hardly any left," she sighed, taking what she got. She did the dishes before she ate, emptying the sink for the bowls and chopsticks the group would be using.
"So, we know where this guy is now," Yusuke mumbled around the rice in his mouth. Iruni hit him in the back of the head with a glare, warning him of his manners. He swallowed heavily. "Like I was saying. Amon-Shinpi popped up on the radar. He's on the edge of the city, in a forest area."
"Creative," she sighed.
"Yeah, but it gives Kurama an edge and us some cover." Kuwabara smiled, rubbing his stomach "That was great Iruni."
"Thanks, I don't cook for more than myself normally." She smiled in gratitude.
"That's obvious. This is hardly a meal," Hiei set his empty bowl on the table.
"That batch would have lasted me a week," her eyebrow twitched. "I'd like to see you do better."
"I don't have to do domestic chores." He looked like there was something he wanted to add but Kurama nudged him with his elbow and he glaringly fell silent.
"So when do we leave to find this guy?" Iruni collected the empty bowls from the content boys and began to wash them. It didn't take long and they were done. Everything had been cleaned up already, leaving the kitchen crisp as when they entered.
"Today. We're going to head up to that area and fight him," Yusuke jumped to his feet. "And now that you're here we can go. Koenma said that if you know a lot about this guy, you might be able to identify whether he is the original or not."
"I suppose," she studied them. "Well I'm ready when you are."
"Aren't you a brave human child?" Hiei sneered.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" she shot back, with raised eyebrows. "For such a scrawny demon, you sure do invite a lot of pain Hiei."
He didn't respond to that, just growled and closed his eyes, arms crossed over his chest. Kurama looked between them, as did Yusuke. She had a sharp tongue on her, and it seemed she wasn't in the least bit afraid of Hiei's well known temper.
"We should get going," Kurama rose, and Iruni nodded. "Do you have anything you wish to bring?"
"No, I prefer traveling light," she smiled. "Makes it easier to run if I have to."
"I'll say. I'm glad there's finally a woman who doesn't have to pack three bags for an overnight trip," Kuwabara laughed. "Sis would have, and then I'd have to carry all of it. Well, let's go!"
"He's excitable," Iruni commented, following Yusuke out.
"Yeah, well, he has to have something of a personality to make up for his lack of skills and intellect," he laughed loudly. "Hey Kuwabara man, stop being so cheery. I think you might be freaking the new girl out."
"Iruni," she corrected. "Call me Iruni."
"You get a name when you earn it," Hiei spoke from behind her. "The idiot is still the idiot, even after all these years."
"Kurama has always been Kurama," she guessed. The red head chuckled. "I suppose your innate power is what drew his respect."
They left the house and she locked the door, dropping the key into a small satchel at her side. It contained everything she'd need, if she needed anything at all. Her small ID, a few spare dollars, her key and a small chain. It was thin, and seemed inconsequential, but it was a smart weapon and the only thing that wasn't hers that she'd use, and that was because it had been a gift. By tying someone with the chain, and infusing some of her energy, she could effectively bind their powers. It also worked as a whip when she wasn't willing to conjure her own.
"I think Iruni works," Kuwabara stuck his tongue out behind him, "Hiei is just a jerk. Something about being so short limits his capacity for manners or something."
"You seem to forget that she's as little as he is," Kurama pointed out, comparing them again. "They're very evenly matched in height."
"I love being short. It makes underestimating me easier for people," she closed her eyes with a small smile. "I've always been short."
"Well, yeah," Yusuke told her. "So, what do you do for fun? If we're going to be working together might as well get to know you."
"I read, and I practice," she shrugged. "Sometimes I go and I watch people. Sometimes I do nothing."
"Wow, don't you have friends?" he pried, fluttering his lashes he got closer. "Maybe a boyfriend?"
"What boy could possibly appeal to me?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. "I don't have friends. If you'd like an explanation you can ask Kurama."
"How did you get to be at the Dark Tournament anyways? I mean, who'd invite you?" he switched subjects at the dangerous tone of her voice.
"You know, I think we've all been wondering that." Kuwabara nodded. "I mean, the only reason we got to go was because Urameshi pissed off Toguro or whatever. How does a little girl like you get onto an island like that?"
"With great skill and determination," she smiled back.
"Meaning she killed whoever she had to and stole their ticket," Hiei surmised quickly, eyeing her steadily. "Maybe your secret is worth my interest after all."
"It is, but you'll never know," she told him. "In fact, forget I even said anything about it. Ever. I'm not going to tell you. You're not going to guess. So it's a pointless waste of effort to try and solve this riddle, so just don't try."
"You know, taking orders was never our strong point," Kuwabara muttered.
"This is why I don't trust people. Curiosity." She growled. Turning to Kurama she jabbed him in the chest with her finger, "I should've just stayed to myself, but now, I got soft hearted and thought I was protecting you. Next time, I'm just letting the stalked die."
"That hardly seems like you. You were genuinely concerned about me, I doubt you could shut it off like that," Kurama argued.
"You doubted I was powerful too, look where that's gotten you." She pointed out, closing her eyes. "You aren't going to drop this are you?"
"Not a chance in hell," Yusuke grinned. "You'd be surprised. People get attached to us. Even this little badass loves us, in his own morbidly sadistic way."
"I don't love anyone," Hiei argued. "I tolerate you because I prefer having allies to enemies."
"That's smart," Iruni nodded. "This is going to be a long trip."
"You really have no idea," Hiei sighed.
"Master, the Spirit Detective and his friends are approaching." A tall woman bowed to the demon in his throne. Shadows hid his features from view but his green skin was discernable, this long nails blue. His eyes glowed yellow as she rose, glinting in the far off light.
"Good, I was wondering when I'd get to face them. It was only a matter of time." He maliciously laughed. "After raiding so many treasures I'll be invincible!"
"What about the sword sir? Can you use it yet?" she asked curiously, dark hair pulled back in a bun with strands falling around her face. "The armor should be more than enough I should think."
"I'll be able to wield it soon enough." He grunted. "Keep an eye on them."
"As you wish," she bowed before exiting. "Oh, there's a girl with them. She looks human."
"That's fine," he waved his hand. "They'll all be dead when it's over anyways."
"Hn. This hardly seems worth the effort," Hiei studied the compound from where they had stopped.
"For once I agree," Yusuke nodded. "I don't even feel his energy."
"Maybe someone got here first," Kuwabara suggested.
"He's got the Takigari armor." Iruni interrupted, stepping forward with her eyes narrowed. "It cloaks his energy and strengthens him. That's the specialty it holds. Which makes him more dangerous than you can imagine because it's forged of something impenetrable, be careful."
"How do you know that?" Kuwabara asked. Kurama had checked those items from the list Koenma had given them.
"Because she knows he stole it," Kurama stepped forward too. "I don't know how, but you are rather well informed Iruni."
"More than you can know." She started walking. "I'm guessing you have a list of the objects known to be in his arsenal. Most of them are dangerous. Much more dangerous than some of you can accept."
"Thanks for the warning but we aren't school children," Hiei snorted. "We've all been trained adequately. It's you whose going to have to be aware."
"You're arrogance disarms you," she scolded him. "It's amazing no one has cut your tongue out."
"They've tried, and failed."
"An arrangement of vessels containing potions are on that list I'm sure. Be very alert, poisons have always been a favorite of these sorts of imposters. Anything that can wound from afar they grasp between their greedy claws because up close they stand no chance. This is no different, and from his greed I can already tell you this is no Amon-Shinpi." She reached into her purse and wrapped the chain around her wrist, so that it was like a bracelet. Its frail thickness meant the many feet wound together without much attention.
"You seem angered by this," Kurama told her, leaning over her shoulder from behind. He towered over her as they all did, except for the fire demon. She scoffed.
"It's an insult, one that I take close to heart." She stopped in front of the large doors of the fortress. Well, it was now a fortress but previously it looked like a mill or warehouse of some sort. "Are you ready?"
"Let us go first. You should stay in the middle." She smiled up at him for his concern, an honest smile that slowly turned malicious.
"Yeah, sure, you're the leader here," she fell in step behind Kurama who followed him in. Kuwabara followed her, Hiei bringing up the rear.
Something hadn't settled with the three demons after they'd entered the woods surrounding the compound with her. Hiei had watched her closely, and she hadn't been bothered. Even the most ordinary human would shudder at the menace in those trees. The moron had practically fallen over, but she trudged on as if it hadn't fazed her. That made him suspicious. The fact she openly admitted to not being entirely human, yet had no energy about her deepened that suspicion.
Kurama had been carefully following her too, waiting for some reaction that never came. It seemed she was entirely composed and either unaware of the situation at hand, or simply didn't care. Both seemed unlikely because whenever the demon at hand was mentioned her eyes would harden, and it was obvious she was very displeased with him. He wondered why. Watching Yusuke he could tell the group leader was trying to figure it out too.
"So, are you like some mastermind about demons or something?" Kuwabara asked as the doors opened for them, allowing them to enter.
"I read, a lot, on a variety of subjects. Somehow or another Spirit and Demon world got involved in that," she told him. "I find it interesting."
"You are a strong mind," Kurama nodded. "Third in our class in junior high."
"Yeah," she nodded, a distant look in her eyes. "I follow in the footsteps of the prodigy child."
"Are you alright?" he asked her.
"Shh," she stopped, making the human behind her bump into her. Hiei stepped carefully to the side, as Kuwabara moved from behind her. "Listen."
The two leaders stopped and looked around, as the faintest sounds of rumbling resounded. Hiei eyed the girl, then steadied at the whole building shook. The rumbling grew louder with the shaking, as three large demons walked into the expanse of the warehouse. There were no walls, just a single door at the end of the room, the rest of the warehouse was empty. Metal beams ran from the ceiling to the floor, connecting the concrete with the metal of the roof.
The first was a short, broad bodied brown demon wielding a belt of jars and pots, all with different markings on them to advertise the lethal contents. The tallest was next, with purple skin, black hair and leather sandals that seemed too small for his feet. He was grinning evilly. The last was blue, bald and had a face only a mother could love. In his hands were a long spear, the tip of which glinted in the light.
"Oh look, a warm up," Yusuke laughed, "For a second I thought we were going to get challenged."
"Be careful Yusuke," Kurama warned. "those weapons are enchanted."
"Watch out!" Kuwabara yelled, knocking Kurama out of the way as a clay vase was thrown at him. It released a purple gas when broken, which melted the metal pillar it had crashed against. "Geesh, that could've been you."
"Thank you Kuwabara," the demon fox nodded, standing with his friend. "We'll have to be very careful."
"Didn't I say that?" Iruni yelled sarcastically. "Avoid the pots and the smoke they pour out. Not all of it would be acidic. Some of it will just choke you to death, or bind your energy temporarily."
"Well, what are we supposed to do?" Yusuke asked, jumping out of the way as the same broad brown demon launched two more vessels at him. These two were green, but they exploded on impact with the floor. "Damn it. These guys are pissing me off already."
"They have no skills in fighting," Iruni yelled, "so they keep you at a distance. Overcome that and you'll get the upper hand Yusuke."
"Who the hell are you girly?" blue eyes widened as the tallest of the offending parties appeared behind her, leather strapped sandals muffling the noises he should've made. She jumped out of the way with a glare. "You're pretty, maybe we can keep you around. Use you 'til you break!"
"You'll be the first to die," Hiei pulled his sword out and made four unseen movements with his blade and the demon slid apart, collapsing on the floor in a bloody pile. Iruni blinked at the small demon, wondering why he had gotten involved. He sheathed the blade and walked past her, stripping the demon of the sandals and tossing them to her. "These are on the list. Make yourself useful and hold on to them."
"Oh, alright," she nodded. "Why'd you kill him."
"His voice annoyed me, much like yours does."
"Well, thank you anyways." She looked down at the sandals. "I wish I had brought a bag or something. These things smell awful."
"How dare you!" The second demon, armed with a sharpened spear with long symbols tracing up the shaft, screamed. "How dare you kill one of our team!"
"Why don't you shut up!" Yusuke demanded. "Which one of you claims to be Amon-Shinpi!"
"Ha ha, man, you guys have no idea what you're up against!" The one with a spear had a rough voice and Iruni watched Kurama pull his trademarked rose out, elongating the stem into a whip. "None of us are the Master. Do you think he'd face you when you aren't worth it?"
"Amon-Shinpi met all contenders face to face," Iruni told him sharply. "And most of them escaped if he didn't want to fight them. He was not a senseless killer, he was a leader. Something you and your boss no nothing about."
"Look who's done her homework," the brown moved forward, cradling a small pot in his hands. "Why don't you do your job to shut up, let the men talk."
"When you die, I hope you scream in pain. It would reveal the weakness I can smell on you," she glared. The others swallowed at the malice in the threat, at her hot anger. And at the knowledge that even when confronted she felt no reason to reveal her power.
"Die wench!" The spear was thrown at her and she didn't move, watching it carefully.
"Watch out!" Kurama yelled, his whip lashing out to deflect the attack. She just smiled, bowing her head. The spear split into fifteen others, spreading around the spot the girl had been standing, the original landing just behind the empty space left open by her absence. It would have torn through her heart.
"You missed," Yusuke pointed out to the red headed fox.
"I'm not the only one," Kurama narrowed his eyes on the dark haired woman standing on a line of piping high above them. The jump had to be twenty feet, and she'd made it without assistance.
"How the hell can you do that?" Yusuke demanded, turning his back on the remaining beasts. Hiei looked up at her too, wondering much the same thing.
"No, definitely not human," Kurama breathed.
"Damn it, if you don't handle this I'll do it myself!" she yelled, looking down at them. "Do any of you realize that they are about to attack! Stop being idiots and fight!"
"Geesh, she got into a bad mood all of the sudden." Kuwabara created his Spirit Sword, turning to the demon who had thrown the spear. "You know, these guys don't feel powerful. In fact, without their weapons, they're really useless."
"Must be nice to finally have a match worthy of your time," Hiei shot out.
"Shut up Hiei!" Kuwabara yelled, going toe to toe with the blue skinned demon. It was quick work, even by their standards. "Wow, that was really easy."
"Do none of you listen when I speak?" Iruni jumped off the pipe she'd taken refuge on. Landing in a crouch, she quickly rose, angrily eyeing the group. "Are you all really that thick headed? Did I not tell you that they were weak fighters?"
"Will you shut up? Your voice is more grating than the moron's," Hiei complained walking past her. With a swipe of his sword the brown demon fell.
"I get rather aggressive when I've been ignored," she seethed, the anger coloring her face as she walked up to him. "And do not order me around!"
"That's the most emotion she's shown in years," Kurama blinked, before giving a nervous chuckle, "I don't suppose we can apologize now can we?"
"Oh shut up," she walked passed the group and towards the door. "Honestly, how you four managed to survive as a team is beyond. I've seen you at each other's throats. Bunch of males doing nothing but acting like arrogant fools."
"She's not impressed by us," Kuwabara stood up and let the light of his sword die.
"You got that right," Yusuke nodded. As she touched the door he yelled at her, "Hey, let us go in first!"
"I hate men," she muttered, stepping back from the door. "Hurry up, I haven't got all day you know."
"Actually you do," Kurama pointed out. "We're supposed to camp here tonight."
"We'll see," cryptically she looked away, waiting for them to enter. Yusuke was the first, then the human, then the two demons one after the other. She followed last, already decided on her next action. They wouldn't want to spend much time with her after this fight, if it could be considered such.
"Stay back!" A dark haired woman guarded a throne, occupied with a green skinned demon. The room had a distinct odor of death, blood and unwashed bodies. Wincing, Iruni watched Kurama step forward. "I will not let you kill him!"
"As if they could," the demon rose and Iruni watched, stiffly enraptured with him. No, he was nothing of what he claimed to be. There was no grace in his heavy movements, no honor in his armored body. Such things had been beneath the Lord, and this low life was nothing more than a mockery of that lost title.
"You're right, they won't." Iruni stepped forward, passing the boys with ease. Hiei watched her deliberate movements, as if she were intentionally being stiff and uncomfortable. Narrowing his eyes he thought about that, and her attitude. Was it possible she was playing them all?
"I'm not scared of a little girl!" the demon laughed, until the girl beside him collapsed, unconscious. "What, what the hell?"
"You know, I get very tired of being mocked." Iruni loosened her fist, and looked up at him as if she hadn't moved. The others knew different now, they had seen her speed when she'd struck the woman with enough strength to make her pass out but not die. The control was uncanny. "Now, give me what I want."
"You're demanding aren't you?" Yusuke questioned sarcastically. "Listen sister, let us handle this. It's what we do. You don't need to risk your life."
"I'm not risking anything," she told him. "I'm very sorry for my half-dedicated deceit Spirit Detective, but I simply needed a way to find this demon before he went too far. It is one thing to slander a name, an offense I dislike anyways, but to assume an identity and drag it through the dirt is a high offense in my book, and one I hate."
"I'm not scared of you!" the false Amon-Shinpi yelled and she smiled up at him as he towered over them all. The smile was not anything of comfort or happiness, but the smirk of one whose already won a fight and just hasn't told anyone yet. It was confidence and oncoming pain in a pretty bundle.
"Let me do this," she looked over her shoulder towards the group, "If I die, oh well, I deserve it. But I won't." Turning back to the object of her attention she spoke again. "Just so you know, your lack of fear was your last mistake."
"Fine, take him. You aren't going to listen anyways," Yusuke grunted.
"Do you think that's wise Yusuke?" Kurama asked quietly, not liking the idea of watching the girl get mauled that flitted through his head.
"Let her die," Hiei spoke darkly. "She already agreed to it, why not let her prove us right?"
"What was my first mistake?" The bald demon laughed at the blue eyed girl who reached back and tied her hair into the low ponytail that made it most controllable. After this simple task, she slowly unwound the chain from her wrist, spreading it between both her hands. One end stayed tied around her wrist and hand with the rest was loosely held in her other.
"That would be stealing my name," she looked up at him from under bangs, allowing the shadows to create menace in her features. He stepped back at the look, stuttering. "I never did like imitations."
"What? You can't be serious?" he gasped. "Amon-Shinpi is dead! He has been! And he most certainly wasn't a girl!"
"History is written by the victor my poor deluded victim, and that was always me." Eyeing his armor she went on. "Ah yes, the armor that never breaks. It's truly a weapon to have on your side. I recall others wanting it, but I never understood why. If you were a good enough fighter you wouldn't need such things."
"Did she just admit that she's the demon we're looking for?" Kuwabara asked. Silence was the only response he received, which made him swallow. "This is not good."
"As long as I wear it, you can't harm me!" the demon bellowed forcing a punch into the concrete she had been standing on. She was on his fist instead of under it, looking at him with bored eyed. "I will kill you!"
"Do you honestly believe that?" she asked, looking at his face. "Wow, you really do. And I thought I'd seen the limits of stupidity in your guards."
"How dare you!" he yelled, moving to grab her. She was gone, standing behind him with a smirk.
"If you give me my sword I'll hand you over to them," she nodded towards the team when he turned around, staring up at him. When he went to attack again, forcing an annoyed sigh from her lungs as she kicked him in his unprotected ankle, dropping him to his knees. Taking advantage of this state she hauled back her arm and punched him in the nose, listening to the crack of bone under her knuckles.
"That was something," Kurama blinked.
"It's mine now!" the demon roared, landing a punch on the small girl. She flipped through the air and landed on her toes, already wiping her lip with the back of her hand.
"Don't make me laugh, it'll be the last sound you hear," she warned with humor. "No one but a Yakani can control that blade and I know you aren't one. I was the last."
"You're human!" the bellow shook the building, but not the occupants, who stared at him in shock.
"Only in body," she hissed, dodging his next attack and then the many after. Soon she was left standing in front of him, clutching her hand to her chest. Kurama gasped when he saw the faintest glint of light off the thin metal of the chain she'd had in her hands.
"Are you tired?" the demon asked with arrogance, making her smile.
"No, I'm giving you time to give up," she challenged.
"You bitch!" he yelled, and without waiting she tightened her net, letting it ensnare him. "What have you done? Why can't I move?"
"The chain in her hands," Kurama stated, "While you attacked her she dodged and with every failed hit she wound a thicker next out of that metal."
"I didn't even notice," Yusuke complained, hunching over. "How is this girl so fast?"
"Fool, didn't you hear her?" Hiei asked, annoyed. "She's only human in body."
"Still," he continued. "That's really fast."
"I should've stayed in Makai," Hiei closed his eyes. "This is a waste of time."
"You might learn something," Iruni called out, fusing her power with the metal. The armor went dull as did the demon's energy.
"What are you doing?" the blue one demanded.
"You see, the thing about this chain is I can use it however I want. If I want it to be a whip it is, if I want it to tie you up it will. The best part is the more power I put into, the stronger it gets and the better job it does. Right now it's cancelling out your power, and therefore that of the armor which hides your true power, because that's its job." Iruni smirked. "It was gift from Hiro, back when we could speak."
"Hiro the demon warrior?" Kurama's eyes widened in shock and alarm. "He was brutal!"
"Yeah, he was, later on," she shook her head. "Look, hold on to that thought and I'll explain later, but right now I have to get my sword back!"
"It's a stupid sword, what does it matter?" Yusuke demanded angrily. "Why are you hogging the main fight anyways?"
"It's personal!" she yelled tightening her hold until the sound of the demon's scream were heard as the armor tightened on its flesh under the pressure of the chain. "Now give it to me you wretch!"
"It's beside the throne!" he called out, and she relaxed the attack, whipping the chain back into hands at once and rewinding it around her wrist. Running she grasped the stamped sheath, running her fingers down the smooth finish.
"I've found you," she whispered, offering the blade a soft smile.
"Now you die!" the demon yelled, springing forward. The others yelled their warnings, unaware of the total knowledge the girl had of the assault.
"You've got that wrong," she used her thumb to push the hilt away from the sheath before she pulled it out completely. Jumping high into the air she made four slashes, "because you're already dead."
His body slid apart, his head falling from his neck, each arm coming off and both legs cut at the knees with a single swipe of her blade. She was replacing it into its guardian sheath on the ground before the demon had fully compacted into this various parts. The four boys gaped, none quite sure how to approach or what to do next.
"Uh," Kuwabara stared at the girl, clean of all blood or evidence of the fight, "so you're a demon in a human body huh?"
"Yeah, I guess that's how it's described," she nodded to him, looking softly at Yusuke.
"You realize we have to take you in," he told her and she nodded.
"More than aware. I knew it when we first met, but that's alright. I think Koenma may understand," she tied the top of the sheath and a notch at the bottom with the thin chain before draping it around her back.
"What do you plan on telling him?" Kurama asked curiously, watching her soft eyes as they studied the floor.
"The truth. The horrible, plain, long winded truth," she told him. "There's nothing else to tell him. I have no reason to lie."
"So, why are you human?" Hiei asked.
"You'll get to hear that when I tell my story." She looked up at them without happiness. "Not that you'll care."
"Why keep it a secret that you are one of the most powerful beings in history?" Yusuke asked, "I don't understand. If you did nothing wrong, why fake all this? Why lie to us? To Genkai?"
"I never lied to Genkai," she blinked at him. "You I don't trust, why would I tell you?"
"Why not?" he demanded. "I'm a damn trust worthy guy!"
"Then why didn't Kurama tell you he was Youko before the Dark Tournament?" she smiled at his inability to respond. "Well, might as well take me in now. It's a long story and I want to be home for dinner."
"Eager for death and punishment?" Hiei guessed quietly as they walked out with her, all four playing guard.
"Is that concern in your eyes or are you just wanting to watch me suffer?" she asked.
"Isn't it obvious?" he blinked.
"I don't like you Hiei, no matter how much I respect you as a fighter. I just don't like you."
"You're Amon-Shinpi?!" Koenma yelled, pointing a small finger at the cold eyed girl. "How is this possible?"
"We've all asked that but she refused to speak about it until we were here," Kurama lounged in an arm chair while Hiei and Yusuke leaned against a wall. The pile of good they'd retrieved sat beside the large desk of the toddler god's work station. Kuwabara took the other chair, leaving Iruni to stand alone in the center of attention.
"You were supposed to be keeping me informed!" the child shrieked.
"Calm down," Iruni demanded softly. "Do not blame them, they all just found out. This is my burden and mine alone."
"I see," he sat back more relaxed and watched her. "So why don't you begin?"
"That's a broad question Prince Koenma," Botan saw the girl's hesitation and turned to her boss with imploring eyes. "Maybe you should narrow it down. She doesn't seem to know where to start."
"Why not start with how you are able to use that sword?" Hiei suggested, eyeing the blade. It alone wielded a strong energy, and he wanted to know why. "You said only a Takani could wield it."
"Oh yes, this," she lifted the sword with happy eyes that swelled with pride. "This is the Takani family sword, crafted centuries ago and passed through the family from first born male to first born male."
"Which explains nothing, because you aren't a boy," Yusuke pointed out.
"Try to keep up," she told him, turning to the big screen. "Koenma can you bring up a picture of Lord Amon-Shinpi?"
"Sure thing," he pressed a button and the eye screen was filled with the image of a red headed warrior dressed in white. The only facial features visible were large blue eyes; the nose and mouth were both covered by a metal mask. Iruni stared at the picture for a second then turned back to them.
"Really? No one sees the resemblance?" she asked, and they all crowded forward, staring at the picture with their noses nearly pressed to the screen.
"I guess I can see it," Botan blinked before squinting.
"Yes, a little in the hair," Kuwabara nodded.
"You morons, she means the eyes. The overall size of the body." Hiei pulled away from the group and studied the human in front of him.
"Thank god someone has a brain worth saving," she sighed. "Look, I'm Amon-Shinpi incarnate you dolts. As in, my soul is Amon-Shinpi but my body is Iruni Mikamoto. This shouldn't be too hard, you've faced this concept before."
"Well yeah, but we thought Kurama was special," Yusuke eyed the red headed demon at his side then the girl. "I guess saying I expected you to be taller would be rude huh?"
"I should cut your shins off," she rolled her eyes. "I've always been this tall. This body isn't much different than my old form at all actually. The hair is really the only change."
"I see, you do look very alike," Kurama glanced back at the picture. "But this picture has you looking very masculine."
"Because I wanted to be masculine," she explained coolly. "Look, in Makai it was hard enough keeping the family from war without the addition of not having a son. So I decided to take up the role."
"But you have boobs," Yusuke pointed out before getting smacked in the head by Botan.
"Don't be such a pig!" she yelled.
"I had them then too." Iruni shrugged. "I got very good at wrapping my torso."
"So you flattened yourself out?" he guessed.
"Please tell me thinking isn't part of his job," she turned to Koenma with pleading eyes. He stifled a laugh then turned serious.
"Why would you do this?" he asked instead of laughing.
"Because my father and mother wouldn't be around forever and if I was their daughter I'd be weak. If I was their son I'd be taken more seriously." She explained. "When Kin Jiro, my younger brother, was born I considered reverting to the daughter figure, but my parents were killed before I got the chance."
"You had to stay this way to keep him safe," Kurama nodded.
"Exactly. Kin was my life; he was the son I'd never have so I treated him as such. He became my prodigy, my priority and my only connection until I took in some students." She told them seriously. "My brother was my life and I would have died for him twice if I'd been given the choice. But I wasn't. He died, and that's something I still crave revenge for."
"What do you mean, son you'd never have?" Koenma asked curiously.
"I couldn't very well get married or mate and have a child if I was supposed to be male," Iruni pointed out awkwardly.
"Who killed him?" Kuwabara asked as a picture of young, bright blue eyed dark headed boy, Amon-Shinpi and a girl who looked just like him except with gold eyes stood together somberly. "Who are they?"
"The boy is my brother, the gold eyed girl my sister Kuya. She married a human later on, and that's the second half of my explanation about the sword. The Mikamotos are descendents of my blood line, born of my sister's children. It wasn't an accident I found this child," sighing Iruni rubbed her neck. This next part was her least favorite. "And Hiro is the one who killed him. He killed my whole village."
"Why?" Botan asked, leaning forward. Iruni raised her eyebrow dangerously, making the ferry girl retract her steps.
"Because he couldn't get what he wanted," she sneered. "It's a bitter story."
"Might as well spit it out," Hiei warned her, hand on his sword. "Or we'll force it out of you."
"You're attitude is as outrageous as you hair," she insulted bitterly. Talking about Hiro always did this to her, angered her, frustrated her just as their last meeting had.
"Please," Botan asked and the girl weakened.
"Fine. It's an awful story though and it puts me in a bad mood." She warned. Everyone nodded and she went on. "After I gained control of our territory when my father and mother died, I spent most of my time raising and training Kin Jiro and Kuya. I became the parent to them both, despite me and Kuya being twins in age. She was the dutiful daughter that I had never been.
"Well, when Kin Jiro got older I took on some apprentices. See I was quite the fighter, the warrior, but when Kin came of age I was going to hand the land over to him and pretty much do whatever the hell I wanted to. So every year he got more and more involved in ruling and that gave me more and more time. The only batch I ever took was of five boys. The only one who survived was Hiro.
"I remember the smallest died the first day because he hadn't listened. His blood is on my hands, but if he'd paid attention it wouldn't have happened. I claim no fault in that. Well, as time went on I pushed harder, and finally Hiro was the last who could take it. So he was the one I chose.
"I taught him everything he knows, from harnessing his energy to controlling his temper."
"Which is why he's so formidable," Koenma blanched. "Should I thank you for that now or later?"
"Thank me when he's dead." She hissed. "We got too close to each other and I told him the secret only my siblings knew. He used it against me. It broke me apart and I kicked him out of my life and my land. He came back with a vengeance and stripped me of everything. I got what I deserved for such weakness."
"You two were in love," Kurama surmised, nodding slightly.
"I was in love with him," she corrected, "he was in love with my power. It was a mistake that I'll keep with me forever, to remind me why trusting isn't supposed to be in my vocabulary."
"That isn't the whole story," Koenma pressed, waving a thick files of papers at her. "After all, you did jump into a human body and there are countless crimes against you before your brother died."
"Damn," she gave him a half smile, "I was hoping you weren't paying attention."
"Get on with it," he demanded and she shrugged.
"Well, when my father was in charge and I was training, I caused trouble. Loads of trouble." She smiled at some of the memories flooding her mind, enjoying the experiences over. "I challenged anyone I could and I'd fight hard and to the death. Few walked away because I was the best. I stole what I really wanted, if I wanted it. I made alliances with anyone who I didn't want to fight, for fear of losing, and I was just in summary a holy terror.
"But I wasn't a senseless killer Koenma. I didn't walk around looking for someone to kill. All I wanted was a worthy fight with someone who wasn't my father or my mother. I wanted a challenge that never came. But I'm guessing one of the high crimes against me is the aiding and training Hiro?"
"It is now," the baby prince narrowed his eyes. "And massacring a whole village of humans. And stealing that damn sword from its protector. And hijacking a human body. And crossing the barrier between Human and Demon world."
"Okay, well I trained Hiro because he was the strongest fighter I'd ever met. He learned fast and adapted even faster, it was like fighting myself sometimes. That's what drew me to him. He had all this power, and he just needed to learn how to utilize it. I taught him, even though electricity isn't in my bag of tricks, I helped him harness it into his specialty.
"So we trained, for years we stayed together and we fought together and it was all about getting stronger and doing what it took to be the best we could. I mean, we both breached our limits so many times in those years, looking back, I'm shocked we didn't trip any sensors. Seriously. There was this one fight were Hiro called in the power of lightning and literally disintegrated our opponent. I mean, it left him useless for days, but the sheer shock of energy was enough to make me proud.
"Well, Hiro wanted to learn some of my more powerful techniques and I wanted to know he wasn't going to be brash before teaching him. Then he went and killed some human child who'd somehow or another crossed over to our plane and I realized he was too volatile and I refused to continue his training. He hadn't demonstrated the grace, honor or restraint necessary to mimic me. I sent him away heavy hearted and it bit me in the ass.
"He came back, and we fought outside my land, not too far from the village but far enough. It was an earth quaking battle. Lasted for hours. He'd attack and I'd dodge, and vice versa, like some beautifully morbid dance we'd created. Then I heard my brother yelling for me and I dropped my guard. That's when Hiro performed his then incomplete but still powerful Binding Net of Lightning technique. I remember screaming his name in anger because I'd taught him that skill. Then my world went black, and I woke to a body of singed fleshed, and a destroyed home.
"I was just happy Kuya had already crossed over to Human World to be with her husband and children. Well, that and she was already dead, had been for a while too, killed for being a demon. So I awoke as Amon-Shinpi Demon Lord and last Takani."
"Wow, how horrible that you've lost everyone!" Botan squealed. "You poor darling!"
"Please don't pity me, it makes me itch," Iruni shook her head, letting her still tied back, hair sway down her back. "No, it wasn't fun, but it gave me time. I was a little over four hundred years old when this happened. My parents had been dead for two hundred years, my sister for seventy. It was just how things worked and I decided dwelling on revenge would be my most productive avenue."
"But you disappeared right after the fire," Kurama offered. "What happened between then and now? That was almost seventy years ago."
"Yeah, it was." She nodded. "Well I was injured, and weak, and had nowhere to go so I traveled. I traveled a lot. Crossed all over Makai, trying to avoid any major power if I could, because with my reputation and my injuries I knew I wouldn't have survived a single scrimmage. Finally I came up with a sort of half assed plan and I started to put it into action."
"And that's when I met Amon-Shinpi for the first time, because the demon needed a human's favor," Genkai walked into the crowded room and spoke with her gravelly voice, looking at Koenma.
"I was wondering when you'd figure it out," Iruni stared.
"Yukina freaked out about you going with Hiei and the group after your fight and told me what I'd already suspected." Genkai shrugged. "I'm surprised though, I remember even when you were weak you had more of a power radiating from you."
"I learned to suppress that," Iruni nodded. "Well, Master Genkai was my next stop. I crossed to Human World and met her, asking her to remember me if she could and then I gave her something very special to me."
"Her sword," Genkai nodded, eyeing the scabbard in question. "I didn't get it at first, because she asked me to hide it in my temple. Then she said one day she'd be back to reclaim it, of course she looked like a he then, but whatever. I did as she asked because she promised to repay however I wanted."
"A promise I'll keep," Iruni reaffirmed. "I always keep my promises."
"Alright, so when did you break in and retrieve it?" Koenma asked.
"When I was twelve," she shrugged. "I just wanted to have it in my hands again, and then Shikari stole it."
"Wouldn't your parents notice a sword?" Yusuke asked, then thought of his mom and her inability to see what he was doing most of the time. "Well, maybe not…"
"My mother, a single woman, died that same year. Right before I retrieved it actually. I've been alone since," Iruni stared at the weapon in her hands sadly, as if seeing the image of her dead mother was its fault. "She was a good person and as much as I didn't want to, I loved her."
"How did she die?" Kurama asked, reminded of Shiori and her time in the hospital. "My mother nearly died a few years ago herself, and I'm very sorry you had to deal with that alone."
"Yeah," she just stared. "Car accident."
"I'm very sorry," he offered and she looked up at him with a puzzled look on her face.
"Why? It's not your problem." She blinked, head tilted to the side.
"Well, that doesn't mean I want you to feel pain," he watched her accept that then stare at him. She wasn't sure if he was lying or not, that was obvious, and she really didn't understand the concept of someone else caring about what happened to her. She must've been a lone for a very long time. Or betrayed completely enough to damage all her future relationships.
"At any rate, she's dead, and I got my sword. I would've told Genkai, but I wasn't ready to repay her. I wasn't strong enough." Iruni watched them all with blue eyes, carefully assessing each of them. They all had similar looks of sorrow and determination on their faces, as if they could right her wrongs. She would have scoffed if she hadn't been so curious about it. "About the barrier thing and the human body, that's simple. I had to do it, and I didn't cause any harm. The spirit of Iruni Mikamoto was supplemented with Amon-Shinpi, not eradicated. Makes it almost like having two souls, but really, it's just one. Always one."
"So if you turn back into Amon-Shinpi what will happen?" Yusuke asked. "Because Youko referred to Shuichi as a separate person and when he came around, Shuichi didn't exist anymore."
"Same deal," she told him. "If I ever get the chance to revert, it'll just be Amon-Shinpi in her own skin again. But for now it's both of us."
"Interesting," Botan put her finger to her chin and looked up in thought. "So all this time we thought so many demons were you, you were in school with one of our assets."
"Notice how many of them didn't make it," Iruni pointed out dangerously, studying her sword again. "Like I said, I don't like impersonators, especially bad ones. Those weaklings taking my name was an insult and I dealt with it as much as I could, as fast as I could, without drawing attention. I've managed to not even use my energy in over two years in the presence of others."
"You killed them?" Kuwabara fell backwards at that thought. "But you're so tiny, and thin, and well, a girl."
"Want me to demonstrate?" she offered with an evil grin.
"No, no that's alright," he laughed nervously, a bead of sweat appearing on the side of his forehead. "I believe you."
"Good," she narrowed her eyes.
"So what are you?" Koenma leant forward when he asked, and everyone else around her mimicked the movement except the closed eyed demon against the wall. He didn't seem in the least bit interested. "I mean, there's no real record of your breed of demon."
"You can go screw yourself if you want that information. I've kept that safe for over three hundred years, I'm certainly not revealing it to a full house," she snapped at him dangerously. "Send me to prison I don't really care."
"It can't be that important," he pressed.
"Is it worth your life?" she asked seriously, straightening into a stoic faced stance that was as dangerous as unyielding.
"Well of course not!" he moved backwards away from her intimidation and she nodded.
"Then don't ask about it," she argued.
"Wait, how old was Genkai when you met her?" Yusuke asked, looking from the old woman to the young demon.
"It was the year I won the Dark Tournament," Genkai clarified for him. "Before we went for it."
"By the way, amazing job with him," Iruni gestured to Yusuke, "He's an amazing fighter, and I can see a lot of you in his style."
"The dimwit has a style all of his own, I'm just trying to get him to realize his full potential."
"It's a challenge I bet, with that hard head."
"You have no idea."
"Hn. You'd be surprised."
"I'm right here damn it!" Yusuke was on his feet shaking his fist at his mentor.
"Can we get back on topic here?" Koenma requested aggravated with his team.
"We're done aren't we? I mean, what else do you want to know?" Iruni furrowed her brow, trying to come up with more details.
"After you met Genkai what happened?" he sighed, pointing her in the direction he wanted her to go.
"Oh. Well, I returned to Makai. You know, there are a lot of holes in that barrier I think, because it wasn't too hard to jump through. Of course it took me a few years, and in that time on this plane I found my descendents and my plan deepened." She stood thoughtful for a second before continuing. "I went back, and I guess I got knocked off course because I ended up with the koorimes. That's when I met Yukina for the first time. There were others but I don't remember them. The green haired ice maiden was the only one that stuck really because she was the sweetest. She was so tiny and she realized that I was weak and offered to take me to the other women because she figured they could help me."
"Really?" Hiei blinked open his eyes wide, crimson irises staring at her harshly. "Just like that?"
"Well no, it took some convincing, but then finally one of the elders decided to give me this tea that eased my pain a bit." She smiled softly. "Not the injuries, the internal stuff. It was very nice to not feel burdened for a few days."
"Uh huh," Kuwabara nodded.
"Then I hunted down Hiro." She eyed Koenma seriously, a fire in those dark blues warning him this topic was not her favorite and that she'd only say it once. "It was the showdown of a lifetime. Me, him, and army, a village. I destroyed all of them that I could, wiping out the entire village and half the wave of warriors. Then it was me and Hiro and I could hardly stand. It was his goal to wear me out first, to make me use as much energy as possible."
"Why kill the villagers?" he asked.
"Because it was me or them and I always win," she stated simply. "Look, don't get me wrong, my loyalties are iron-tight once given. But it takes a long time and an act of god to get that far. I had no connection to those casualties. I didn't care. I still don't. You try to kill me and you die, that's how I fight," she explained.
"What happened when you two clashed?" Kurama thought back to some of his own battles. To his old allies.
"I was weak, I didn't have my sword and I was having to use energy just to stay on my feet." She shook her head angrily. "What a coward. I regret ever knowing him, ever teaching him. No real fighter works that way. He waited until everyone else was down or dead to face me himself, acting cocky as all hell when he did.
"'What's the matter Ichi?' he said. 'Kin got your tongue?' Oh god I'd wanted to rip his tongue out through his throat. We fought hard, harder than I'd ever had to fight for anything and then he shocked me, sending me to my knees. Then his damn net of electro-energy strangled me and I collapsed. I got up after that, once, and we fought again, hand to hand. He pushed his hand through my chest and bam.
"I jumped into the just recognized body of Iruni Mikamoto six months before her mother gave birth. It's funny, but apparently I was timed perfectly for the first ultrasound. But anyways, that's how I got here, that's why, that's Hiro, and do not ever ask me any of this again."
"Wow," the group collectively let out, making Iruni's eyebrows twitch.
"So what now?" Botan turned to Koenma. "I mean, what do we do?"
"Well, I need time to decide how to proceed and since I can't very well let her going walking around, send her to a hold in Spirit Jail. Then when I decide what I'm going to do, we'll go get her for sentencing." Koenma nodded as a blue ogre walked in with a stack of papers up to his nose. "Ogre! Can't this wait? I'm about to sentence Amon-Shinpi!"
"Is he here?" the blue man looked around, confused. Iruni's mouth moved at the corners as she tried to suppress a smile.
"By the way, that's another good reason why I chose to pretend to be a man," she pointed to the ogre with a grin that wide open and friendly. "Makes it a lot easier to confuse people and swoop in under the radar."
"That's because they have no reason to be afraid," Hiei pointed out.
"When I want your opinion I'll beat it out of you," she shot back, still smiling. "Alright, so who's going to escort the most wanted man down to the holding block? Kuwabara? Kurama? Yusuke?"
"We have our own guards, and their coming now. I need to speak to the team. Botan, Hiei, can you go with her? Supervision purposes," Koenma looked between the ferry girl with blue hair and the short man. She bounced to the doors and he shrugged off the wall, sluggishly letting out a sigh.
"As if I get a choice," he muttered walking to Iruni. "So, do we call you Iruni or Amon-Shinpi?"
"Don't really care, just as long as you don't let my secret out," she shrugged. "Not that it's much of a secret now anyways."
"Yeah, yeah, just don't get yourself killed until we can find out how to deal with you," Yusuke waved at her as she was escorted out, three demons on each side and Botan and Hiei right behind her. "Man, she's one badass little girl."
"I heard that," she shouted from outside and he rubbed the back of his neck with a covering smile.
"Her friends seem to call her Ichi," Kurama noted. "Maybe one day that'll be our title for her."
"That's what I was afraid of," Koenma sat back in his chair as if under a great deal of pressure. He looked out at them all over his pacifier and flitted his eyes around the room. "I have no idea what to do with her. She doesn't seem like a danger, but she's capable of a great deal of things. If she can access her powers that it."
"It's highly likely she can, after all, she slew the imposter with no problem and she's already very quick." Kurama commented looking at the overseer of Human and Spirit Worlds. "But she seems harmless enough towards us."
"The 'us' part is what bothers me," the child rubbed his eyes and blinked. "What if she's unstable? She could go power crazy any moment and kill everyone. We might be dealing with another Sensui or Toguro."
"Nah, I don't think so," Kuwabara stared at the door after the girl. "She's not like them. She has a real fighter spirit and she's dangerous and all, but listen to how she describes people. She likes to be honorable and strong, but she's not blood thirsty. That guy in the woods really pissed her off with his killing spree."
"That's a good point," Kurama acknowledge, sounding only mildly surprised. "And I've known her all my school career. She's never stepped out of line."
"You're all missing the big picture," Genkai voiced, her eyes closed.
"And what's that grandma?" Yusuke asked tensely.
"It's not how she is now, but what she might become that's the issue. She's still young and maybe powerless, but if she reverted to her old ways she could be the reckoning force to end all reckoning forces. The demon I dealt with was weak, but still influential and strong willed." Genkai stated, staring at them in turn. "What she needs is a cause to side with."
"What do you suggest?" Koenma asked from behind his desk, leaning on it with his hands splayed wide.
"I say give her some community service," the old woman told him. "Let me handle Iruni or Amon-Shinpi or whatever the hell she wants to be called. She can live in the temple and I'll train with her and see what's going on in that head of hers. If she can't keep herself controlled after one month, you can do whatever you like."
"You like her," Yusuke accused, a bit bitterly.
"She has the ability to be great just like you. She can be one of our greatest allies. Forgive me for being the one who thinks ahead," she swirled around and faced the nineteen year old. "One of us should."
"Oh great, another immaturity pun, you old bat. Get some new material," he scoffed, crossing his arms over his chest.
"I use what you give me," she retorted quickly.
"You're all forgetting that she doesn't trust us," the deep voice from the corner made them realize Hiei had already returned. "But the psychic is right. She can be of some help, if she's willing."
"You of all people want her to stay?" Yusuke asked dumbly.
"Man shorty, what's gotten into you?" Kuwabara asked standing to close to the fire demon. Hiei's red eyes rolled to him and he dropped away.
"Like I've said before, I prefer powerful allies to powerful enemies."
"So it's settled." Koenma took out his gavel and a stamp for a piece of paper in front of him. It had appeared like magic. "She'll stay here for the night, just in case, but her sentence will be to live under Genkai for one month and to do as she says as a probation, then if she can handle that we'll throw her on community service duty for a few years and have her help you guys."
"Sounds good," Yusuke punched the air. "Oh man, I can't wait for her to meet Keiko. That's going to be rich!"
"We'll come back tomorrow," Kurama told the child prince in his smooth voice. "To be at her sentencing and to take her back."
"Fine with me," Koenma stated, taking more papers out and stamping them without reading what they say. He looked up when he realized no one had left. "What?"
"What if this goes bad?" Yusuke was the first to ask, cautiously trying to guard himself from enthusiasm.
"Then you have to handle it," he signed a little dismally. "I'm sorry but it's part of your job."
"Yeah, that's what I was worried about," the dark headed teen let out a deep breath. After a moment of silent contemplation he brightened up with a wide grin. "No worries though because that shrimp can't help but accept a challenge I think and she likes Kurama so we shouldn't have any issues. Alright, no more moping. Let's get home and we'll be back tomorrow."
"Wow, he's excited," Kurama said blankly as Yusuke walked out of the room still yelling about tomorrow. "I wasn't expecting that."
"That's the dimwit for you, always being spontaneous," Genkai shrugged her tiny shoulders. "I admit I'm interesting in how this is going to go."
"I have a feeling," Kuwabara started, "that we're going to be surprised."
"Hn. You always think that," Hiei pointed out.
"Yeah, well, I'm probably right." The carrot top stated simply. "Don't be so sour Hiei, you'll always be our favorite little demonic pip squeak."
"I hate you."
"Yeah, love you too buddy."