"So you're telling me you've been here for six months already after you got sucked in along with me."
"That is correct. I assume I arrived first because I already have a human body. The pain you say you felt in the long journey here must have been the barrier removing your demonic powers. You see, this dimension is not ruled by the same physics as ours. Demons—not like us, anyhow—do not exist here."
Hiei squinted, his fears at last realized.
"Are you saying I'm human now?"
"Hiei, did you not notice your Jagan eye?"
He reached a hand to his forehead, realizing neither his headband nor his third eye where there. Hiei blanched. How could he miss something so vital, so obvious! He could not sense his demonic energy because he didn't have any!
"This cannot be happening!"
"I assure you, it is."
"There must be some way—"
"If there is, I would have found it. Believe me, though I find this place amusing, I am aware of the importance of returning."
"I cannot be human! I detest—!"
"Peeka, pika pika!"
Furious, Hiei pointed an indignant finger at his loathsome companion who refused to leave his shadow.
"And this vile demon! It ignores any command or threat!"
"Well, of course. It seems this little guy has taking a liking to you. Stubborn creatures, these Pokémon. I doubt you can go far without him hounding you."
"Oh, pardon seems he is indeed a she."
"Kurama! You cannot be serious! Are you so accepting of your fate? Will you allow yourself to be—leashed down—like a cowardly dog?"
Smiling sadly, Kurama idly caressed a red and white metal ball at his hip, seeming to lose himself in a fond memory.
"I'm sad you feel that way. In any case, I will warn you."
Suddenly serious, Kurama realigned his posture to fully face Hiei, his usual kind eyes hard emeralds.
"Do not underestimate the creatures here. You no longer have any more power than a normal human—you can be easily killed or injured. Having said I lived here for a while, I can personally attest the shear force these beasts have. I also should caution you against stirring up trouble with the locals. It won't be so easy to escape at human speeds, Hiei."
"Hmp. Don't bother. I'll find my own way out of this—with or without your help."
Seething, Hiei turned his back on him, prepared to leap out of sight before he remembered such a feat wasn't possible any longer. He didn't exactly know what he was going to do, but standing in Kurama's condescending presence absolutely infuriated him. As he began to walk away, he heard Kurama chuckle lightly, like he was sharing a private joke with himself.
"What is it now. I'd watch yourself—I am in no mood for jests."
"Don't you wonder, Hiei? What I've been doing these last few months?"
"Hardly. Obviously you've allowed yourself to be brainwashed by—"
"Perhaps a demonstration would be more fitting."
A whirling object breezed past Hiei's face, startling him enough to stop and pay attention. It hit the ground and immediately recoiled into the air, exploding in a burst of red light with a distinctive pop. Hiei stepped back, watching with horror as a miniature yōko formed right before his eyes.
"Hiei, I'd be honored for you to meet my Ninetails, Naruto. He saved my life when I first arrived here, you see. We've been traveling together ever since."
"How?! You claim demons cannot exist—"
"Oh, Naruto is no demon, but he has the power of one. When I ascertained the dangers of this world, I quickly realized the advantages of befriending him—as well as the rewards. Do you know the global pastime, Hiei?"
He crossed his arms, trying his best to appear unimpressed.
"Fighting. With these Pokémon. I was horrified at first—after all, it is basically legalized cockfighting—but then I grew accustomed to it. I even enjoy it now, as long as they do as well."
"I see. You've gone daft."
"On the contrary. I've learned quite a lot. About hardship, bonds. And strength. You would do well to—"
"What can I possibly learn from such a puny creature, other than how to be completely pathetic."
"Standing your ground is not pathetic, Hiei."
"Hmp. I grow tired of your nonsense. Don't come looking for me when I figure out a way out of this hell hole."
Hiei continued to stay locked in position, his arms crossed severely over his chest.
"…what the hell is this blasphemous event for, anyway?" He asked, motioning to the surrounding tents and stalls. Kurama grinned, nodding to himself knowingly.
"It's a festival, honoring Pokémon trainers such as myself as well as an important historical event involving—"
"Save your speech for someone who cares."
"Well, you did ask…."
"…What did you just call yourself? A 'pocket-man trader'? You make it sound like you haggle drugs from children crack addicts."
Chuckling behind a hand, Kurama kicked out a chair to his stubborn friend, motioning for him to sit down. Hiei hesitantly acquiesced, figuring he could rest his legs a little before discovering a way to rid himself of his persistent pest and acquire means to accomplish inter-dimensional time travel. It wasn't like he was actually interested in this repulsive world. Any information Kurama could give him would merely be an asset to getting out. Yes, this was completely rudimentary to his survival and eventual escape… not appealing at all…
- - - -
Sleeping in trees was a lot harder than Hiei remembered it being. For one, the bark never dug into his back before—if it had, he certainly hadn't felt it—and he felt far from secure lacking both his sword and energy. The prissy fox had extended an invitation to use his hotel reservation, since he had "other" commendations, but Hiei quickly shot him down. After all, he never used human facilities before, so why should he now?
That had been his thought at the moment, but after picking the creepy crawlies from his ass cheeks and fending off caterpillars the size of his arm, Hiei decided four walls and a roof wouldn't be so bad. And the unbearable noise! Never—not even in the deepest, dankest forests of the demon realm—did he have as much trouble keeping his eardrums from bursting with the insidious racket those things created. He'd give his left testicle for a twelve-gage shot gun to kill the rotten creatures.
Then there was the Pikachu.
Kurama insisted he keep it with him—for appearance, if nothing else, as he looked like a "suspicious character" and having a friendly Pokémon "deterred harsher judgment"—and Hiei doubted he could physically remove the little freak anyway. Hiei tried kicking it—but it just moved out of the way—attempted yelling obscenities—it just gaped dumbly at him, like he was a seventeen-foot-tall apple crumb cake—he strived to chuck it as far away as possibly—but the bastard ensnared its prickly arms around his neck and nestled there. Nothing worked.
He did manage to catch a few hours of sleep, muttering dark threats to Shit-head when the beast endeavored to use his chest as a cuddle toy. The shear stupidity of the thing astounded Hiei—just how long would it take for it to get the point and leave?
Dropping like a sack of lopsided logs to the ground, Hiei stretched his back with a pained groan and peered around, almost hopeful when he didn't spot his fuzzy yellow cancer attached to his person. He was quickly disappointed when the bloody thing quickly appeared from the tree with a shrill squeak, using his head as a springboard. Knowing it was futile to try to remove, Hiei left Shit-head to her own devices, cringing when the mental image of her tangled in his hair appeared in his mind.
"Just so you know, I utterly loath you," he growled, glaring at her though his bangs. It smiled cheerfully back down at him, waving tiny fingers in a joyful hello.
I've seen more intelligent pond scum, he thought bitterly to himself, pocketing his hands. As he neared the forest path, Hiei felt a sharp pull on his scalp, anger blossoming like ferns after a hurricane.
"Damn the repercussions! YOU DIE NOW!"
Hiei furiously reached for the wretched creature, taken back when it wasn't there.
"So now you run!"
Crouching into a fighting stance, he scoured the area for the obnoxious crooked tail and flash of nearly fluorescent lemon colored fur, instinctively guarding his now many blind spots. He forgot what it was like functioning with only two eyes again. So much so he couldn't even find Shit-head, despite the cretin's ridiculously impractical complexion.
A strangled cry sounded from above, startling Hiei into lowering himself to the ground with caution as he focused his sharp gaze upwards. Sure enough, Shit-head was there—in the merciless claws of an absurdly oversized discolored turkey. Hiei smirked, releasing his tense stance, ready to let the feathered freak have his breakfast. Ignoring the squirmy bastard's pitiful protests, he began to walk away feeling more lighthearted than a buzzard who walked into an abandoned slaughter house.
Feeling a bit smothered, he loosened his collar around his throat, stopping in his tracks when a ripping pain erupted from his back. At the same time, a frenzied scream echoed his own from the struggling Pikachu dangling above, the burn growing as it spread to his throat and arms. Hiei backed himself into a trunk, wrathfully scanning for the source of the invisible barrage. Shit-head's anguished shriek caught his attention exactly as swore he felt her ribs cracking in half, mirrored by his own.
Desperate to halt the pain, Hiei tore his cloak from his back and feverously waved it at the hovering villain, his movements crippled by his aching chest. Another bone crunched someplace in his side, making him almost positive he and the blasted Pokémon were linked physically somehow. Panic rose when he realized the bird was taking off with Shit-head, knowing somehow if he let that creep die—he wouldn't be around much longer to enjoy the peace.
Hiei stumbled after them, tripping over a fallen bough in his path. Catching his fall on his knees, he picked it up and hurled the sturdy limb like a javelin at his target, realizing after he flung the branch he just might kill the Pikachu, too. He kneeled down, nearly praying his dramatic drop in strength was enough to mar his aim. Luckily, the branch smashed into a tree just below the monstrous pheasant, effectively scaring it enough to relax his grip on the bloodied bundle. Hiei didn't think twice to react, flinging himself forward to catch the furry ball before she crushed her delicate neck in a collision course with the earth.
He easily snagged his target from the air, landing harshly on his busted back with an inaudible crunch. Grimacing, he watched with relief as the enormous bird shrieked harmlessly at him and flew off, leaving a handful of feathers in his wake.
Looking down, Hiei coughed viciously and loosened his grip on the barely breathing creature in his arms, surprised when he could breath easier when he did. A frown crossed his features.
Kurama lied. This had to be hell.
- - - -
"And you're sure?"
"Yes—yes, I'm sure! Your Pikachu will be just fine! Now, please, sir, sit down and stop scaring the children!" Nurse Joy pleaded, growing frustrated with the troublesome trainer. Nothing but paranoid and derogatory since he crawled to the center's doorway in the middle of the day, the man insisted on being present during his Pokémon's treatment. Of course, such procedures were behind curtains for reasons, so she tried referring him to the clinic next door, but…
She watched him pace the lobby holding his side, the most ferocious scowl on his face. Though her head ached from dealing with his outrageous accusations and course language, she did admire his concern for Shihad, a name she heard him mutter every once in a while. Even as he appeared injured himself, the man refused to be separated a distance of twenty meters or so from his Pikachu. Her heart couldn't help but hold a soft spot for him, since he couldn't be a bad guy with such an adoring Pokémon and obvious love for it. Joy smiled. He rather reminded her of Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights.
"Shihad is doing great, sir, we expect a full recovery by tomorrow, so please—"
"Kurama will be a whole day ahead! How the hell will I catch up with him now?"
Joy held her hands up defensively, trying her best to keep a pleasant smile. After all, it was her duty to remain calm in the face of adversity. Besides, he was just worried—completely consumed with compassion for his Shihad, probably beside himself with anxiety—
"Damn you, Shit-head!"
The man stormed out the door, returning a few seconds later with a pained twitch in his expression. He dragged himself to the counter, resuming his earlier position leaning against it, ironically placing himself in the closest place to his Pokémon in the other room. Biting her lower lip to regain her composure, she leaned over the countertop and raised a tentative eyebrow.