A/N: I did have several chapters in backup, including this one, but the more I read over my work, the more boring it seemed, what with the need to repeat stuff exactly like canon, so I guess the long break was partially due to that issue, and partially because I'm a lazy ass. Sorry.
"Merlin, a group like that is almost blinding," Harry huffed, as he squinted his eyes behind his new glasses.
"Yeah?" Yusuke commented. "You could always switch back to your old glasses. I still don't get how that works, really," he complained as he trudged along through the forest.
"My old glasses have been magically repaired so many times, they're almost like a magically conjured item," Harry explained, following the trail the other boy was leaving behind with his destructive hiking. "All the magic acted like a screen for my vision of Spirit Energy. And no, I really shouldn't switch back. If I do end up fighting, being able to see my opponent's Energy will be really useful. If I don't get used to this, the crowd of audience members will render that advantage null."
"Wait, what do you mean, 'if you end up fighting?'" Yusuke paused and turned around to look at his companion. "I mean, I hate to break it to you, but I think this whole tournament is organized to make sure all five members of a team have to fight matches. More blood and death that way."
Harry sighed. "I'm quite sure Genkai mentioned this to you already, Yusuke. You've fought me once, so you know perfectly well I'm no match for you, right? What my strength comes down to is the unknown properties of my magic, which would be rendered nearly useless after my first match-up. Maybe against low-level demons I'd be fine, or Energy readers since they can't read magic, but otherwise it's simply not worth gambling our victory on my weak fighting prowess."
"You'd've kicked ass in that darkness round of Grandma's tournament," Yusuke pointed out.
Harry chuckled. "Thank you. I imagine that with my Spirit Awareness and ability to contain my own aura as Genkai taught me, I'd probably be able to 'kick arse' in an open field as well. I own an invisibility cloak, after all, and I'm getting quite good at successive apparating."
"I've fought against an opponent with an invisibility cloak before," Yusuke recalled. "Yeah, he would've been a lot harder to get if it weren't for the hallways, 'cause he was too fast for even Kuwabara to see with his Spiritual Awareness. Why can't you do that during the tournament, though?"
Harry scowled. "I'd like to, especially since there's an Energy item equivalent to magical invisibility cloaks. The problem is that a tournament isn't just some place where a pair of fighters clash and whoever emerges alive is the winner. A tournament has rules, which means it has people that need to enforce those rules, which means you can't make yourself undetectable by said rule enforcers. Those same rules may say that any weapons are allowed in the tournament, but it's implied that unless you want to be disqualified by default, you have to limit yourself to visibly following the other rules."
"What a load of crap," Yusuke declared, furrowing his brows as he tried to follow what Harry was saying. "I'd bet they wouldn't care if a team other than the invited guests tried to fight invisible."
"Maybe, maybe not," Harry shrugged. "Regardless, Genkai found someone to join as our team's fifth member and I'll be the alternate. I'm not happy about this, of course; I like to fight my own battles. But at this point, it's more important that I get my wish as the end of the tournament for the committee to keep quiet about my abilities."
"Oh yeah, that thing about a big war slash major feeding frenzy if the information gets out, huh?" Yusuke recalled.
"So where is this fifth guy, then? I mean, we're heading for the boat to the tournament grounds right now."
Harry looked up towards the moon. Suddenly, a shadow appeared in front of the white orb before a small human figure fell quickly towards them.
It was a young woman with bright pink hair tied in a braid and large brown eyes. Her face was set in an indifferent expression as she examined the pair.
Yusuke gaped. "Geez, I wasn't expecting that. Well, if the old lady says you can fight, I'll bet you're pretty good."
"More than pretty good," Harry added with a sly grin. "In fact, I'd say she's just as strong as Genkai herself."
"So you're the dimwit," the woman interrupted, voice like a bell.
"Hey now, there, lady. You –" But the woman was already walking off towards their destination, so Harry calmed Yusuke's ire then pushed him to follow.
Before long, they heard the mutterings of demons boasting of their strength as they neared the designated spot for the ship to pick them up and take them to the tournament.
"Imagine our power when we get that prize!"
"Yeah right! We're going to get that prize!"
"Hah, if you've seen us fight, you wouldn't be so arrogant of your own weak skills!"
"The ship is here mateys," said a rough voice. "Now let's try to get on board without any violence."
A young male voice spoke up in protest – probably Yusuke's classmate Kuwabara, Harry guessed, as the trio walked a little faster.
"Then we'll have to put a mark on their heads and send out a hitman," the voice, probably the ship's captain, retorted at the news that some of the contestants hadn't arrived yet. "Standard rules of the tournament."
"Now, now, that's not necessary," Yusuke quickly spoke up, announcing his presence as they emerged from the forest edge.
At this point, while Yusuke and Kuwabara quickly descended into petty insults as a form of greeting, Harry took a glance around. The feminine looking male with long red hair and green eyes was probably Kurama, the fox demon in a human body. The short male with spike black hair and a white bandage around his forehead was likely Hiei, a fire demon – as Harry could see from his Demon Energy – with a third eye. He was currently in his human form, which was more than Harry could say about the dozens of other demons present. Though it could be simply that they preferred their demon forms, Harry had a hunch that the reality was none of them were born strong enough to have a human form to choose.
Hiei approached the two fighting humans, and when Harry saw his Demon Energy held in tighter as a preparation to attack, he quickly took a step backwards.
A single utterance of Yusuke's name was the boy's only warning before the small demon unsheathed his sword and launched an attack at the teen boy. Yusuke, however, had suffered non-stop training with Genkai the past few months, who was just as fond of surprise attacks. He took a step back almost immediately before the first sword slash arrived, and soon he was sidestepping each one of Hiei's blows by a mere hairsbreadth. The fight was endless, but lasted only a few seconds before Yusuke managed to capture the sword mid-swing with his fingertips reinforced by his Spirit Energy.
"Damn Hiei, is this how you say hello to people now?" Yusuke quipped.
Hiei simply smirked, clearly pleased by the results. "I don't know where you've been all this time, but it seems you've improved your skills a little bit."
"A little bit!" Kuwabara protested, his orange pompadour bouncing lightly as he exclaimed over the amazing speed and agility his teammates demonstrated. "Oh, man, I'd say he improved a lotta bits!"
Kurama chuckled and was quick to reassure Kuwabara of his own improved skills as Hiei asked, "and who are the others?" with a dismissive glance at Harry and the young woman Genkai was disguised as.
"Oh yeah, guys, meet Harry. He was invited too, a few weeks after us. The girl is, uh, you know, I didn't catch your name."
"What! You're making a pretty girl like her fight in a tournament for a bunch of scary demons? Uh-uh, not happening, Urameshi," Kuwabara declared.
Yusuke rolled his eyes. "It's not like we're asking you to fight her, so your stupid honor code should be fine. Besides, Genkai recommended her. You remember Genkai, right? The old hag who could kick your ass any day while still being female?"
"Fine, but I'm not happy about this. And so why's this Harry guy been invited too? He looks kinda wimpy. And why's he wearing a yukata?"
Harry smiled tensely. Really, the kid had no tact. At least now he had confirmation that his robes could pass for slightly eccentric muggle clothing. Hermione didn't have the opportunity to spell any muggle clothing for extra defense. "It's true that I'm not much of a heavy hitter, so I hope you won't mind if I take the position of alternate for the team."
"Alright, alright!" the ship captain growled, annoyed at the delay, before barking at everyone to hurry and board the vessel.
The demons eagerly agreed, and the crowd quickly piled onto the large ship's deck.
The ship was surprisingly modern styled considering the captain's stereotypical 'old pirate' look with an eye patch, a peg leg, a full beard, and a hook replacing his left hand. It was almost the size of a cruise ship, though its barren deck and rusty captain's lookout made it look more like a retired fishing vessel.
Once onboard, the Urameshi team placed themselves by the edge, with Hiei balancing on the railing, Kuwabara and Kurama leaning on the railing beside him, and Genkai standing alertly slightly in front of them all. Yusuke flopped down to the ground in a loose, cross-legged sitting position and yawned. Harry sat beside him and placed a hand on the boy's shoulder.
"You can sleep if you wish. I'm sure you can feel how weak everyone on board is. Even I could take on a few if they decide to attack," Harry murmured into Yusuke's ear.
Yusuke gave a sleepy affirmation before he was out.
"So how exactly did you get involved in this mess, Harry?" Kurama asked pleasantly, as if greeting a fellow classmate in afterschool detention.
"A bit of bad luck," Harry grinned ruefully, before recounting the cover story he and Koenma created last week. "A demon tried to possess me a few months ago, and it awakened my Spiritual Awareness. I've apparently got a rare version of it, and my Spirit Energy also developed some unique properties. I guess after all the trouble with Yusuke and Kuwabara, and no doubt previous Spirit Detectives, the demons are starting to think along the lines of 'nipping problems in the bud,' so to speak. Once my ability was made known to the committee for the tournament, I was invited, likely in the hopes that I be killed before I become a threat."
"Wow, man, that kinda sucks," Kuwabara sympathized. "So, do you not have any fighting abilities and stuff?"
"I can beat any ordinary human in a fight to the death, but I've only received about six weeks of training in using my Spirit Energy against other Energy users. Of course, those six weeks were spent with Genkai, so I'm no pushover. If there ever comes a time when you'll need an alternate, I can guarantee a good fight."
Kuwabara seemed skeptical, and Hiei never stopped looking at the wizard like he was some sort of bug, but at that point the captain started an announcement with a microphone from his place on the captain's deck.
"Now there's still quite a bit of time before our ship finds its way to the harbor," he informed them. "So until then, we'll be holding the preliminaries aboard my trusty ship. Only one team of you all will receive the chance to fight on dry land."
Demons immediately began to protest at this, but they were quickly shut up when the entire ship began to rumble. The middle third of the boat split in half and slowly began to move apart. From the uncovered pit a large circle stage rose up, held above the ship's passengers' heads by a large robotic support beam.
"All teams bring out your strongest men to fight in a battle royale! And whoever comes out alive gets his team a ticket to fight on Hanging Neck Island!"
At the idea of a battle royale, the demons quickly changed their tune, eager for blood and violence.
Several made their opinions loudly known about how they intended to first rip Yusuke to shreds before starting on each other.
Kuwabara, who had just started boasting about how he was looking forward to the big 'beat-down,' soon appeared a little queasy at a few of the more gruesome images the demons were evoking with their trash talk.
"Ahaha, well, I guess this kind of fight really should be part of the group leader's responsibilities. Go get'em, Urameshi!"
But Yusuke, of course, did not respond.
"He's asleep, Kuwabara," Harry informed, "and don't bother waking him. He needs time to recuperate from his training. I'll go," he offered, standing up and lightly patting down his robes. "I'm sure you'll feel better with a demonstration of my abilities, right?"
"I wouldn't mind a look at hers either," Hiei drawled with a glance at Genkai, "but I suppose just you will do for now. If you fail, we can simply kill everyone else on board and no one will be able to deny that we won the preliminaries."
Kuwabara squinted at the small demon. "You didn't have too many friends growing up, did you?"
"Harry," Genkai called out as the wizard walked towards the stage. The others in the team quickly looked in her direction. That was the first word she'd spoken since they met her, and they still didn't even know her name.
Harry turned his head back and gave Genkai a reassuring grin. "Don't stop me," he requested. "It's bad enough you pushed me off to be a bench player when I'm the invited guest. I have to earn at least one win, and you know perfectly well this fight is as ideal as its going to get when paired up against the techniques I've learned. I can even pull out all the stops, since it's not like I have to hide any aces from the watching demons who won't even be participating in the main event, let alone as our opponents."
Genkai reluctantly nodded in assent and Harry joined the ten demons on the arena, choosing to stand near an edge with all the demons on one side to minimize potential attacks from behind. From his pocket, he retrieved a vial and downed the potion before casting the spell portion of his physical defense ward. After, he began to push his aura to pulse around him about a meter in radius. The misty green Spirit Energy drew a lot of interested glances, but most demons dismissed the danger of it as it seemed thin and easy to bypass.
"Attack!" the captain screamed.
With a raucous roar, all the demons leapt towards Harry, intent on dealing with the inferior human first.
"Impedimenta!" Harry quickly incanted, throwing several Impediment hexes and tripping jinxes at the leading attackers. He grinned viciously when each one hit their target dead on.
Invisible spells weren't only harder to dodge, they were harder to aim. If he missed, he had no way of telling by how much to correct himself with the next attack, so he spent a large chunk of his time the past weeks doing target practice with Yusuke. Nowadays, he could hit a sitting apple from six meters away. As for hitting Yusuke, well, if the boy was blindfolded and entirely on the defensive, Harry had a perfect hit rate from four meters away. A Yusuke with vision quickly picked up the ability to react to where Harry's wand was pointed and dodge that way.
The demons had no such understanding, and the ones trailing behind the felled leaders didn't react in time to avoid the falling victims, creating pile-ups with a domino effect, each fallen demon bringing down more. Caught in a bad position, none were able to react when Harry cast an overpowered Aguamenti, followed by a Glacius to trap them to the ground. After that, it was merely a matter of using stunning spells to incapacitate as many as possible before they broke free of the ice.
Half a dozen were put out of the fight before the first demon broke free. A large horned creature, the demon charged forward with his green-colored fist raised high in a clear attempt to punch Harry in the head. A quick analysis of the demon's energy showed there was no intention of making a feint, so Harry rapidly thickened his Spirit Energy barrier in the appropriate area before shooting an Impediment Jinx to slow the attacker's speed.
In slow motion, the fist passed through the green barrier with seemingly little resistance except for the curious sluggishness of the demon's entire body, but to Harry and the demon, a sizzling could just barely be heard.
Every inch of skin that passed through the green mist was fizzing with a disgusting melting look, as if an acid was eating away at the arm. The demon froze in pain and shock at the sight, allowing Harry to aim a stunning spell point blank at his forehead.
The danger past, Harry thinned his barrier once more, breathing heavily. He wouldn't be able to do that again for awhile if he wanted to keep up this fight for much longer.
The effect of his barrier when it was thin was negligible. After demonstrating its full power once, he kept up the appearance of still having a shield mostly for show, as a bluff to stall further attempts at close combat.
A bluff that seemed to be paying off. The scattered remaining demons didn't try coming nearer, and instead paced in front of the wizard while snarling, almost foaming at their mouths like rabid animals.
Finally, one seemed lose patience and bounded forward, the other quickly following suit as they didn't wish to miss out their chance to be the one to take out the human.
Quickly tugging a charm off a necklace beneath his robe collar, Harry snapped out an Enlargement Charm. Jumping onto his broom, the wizard shot up above their heads, and, aiming carefully at the first demon to skid to a halt in surprise, firmly incanted, "Imperio," and ordered him to attack the others.
At this 'betrayal,' the other demons fought back, and soon forgot their original prey in favor of killing each other. The last demon standing was easily taken out by another stunning spell from above, and Harry lightly leapt off from his broom onto the stage of unconscious and dead demons, the clear winner of the battle royale.
Shrinking his broom to put into his pocket, he grimly walked down the stairs from the arena to his team as the captain announced the victory to 'the human.' There was a certain thrill to winning a fight like that, but he didn't enjoy the slaughter towards the finish. In the end, Harry considered fighting as a means to an end, rather than an enjoyable activity in its own right as Yusuke often seemed to think during his spars with the demons in Genkai's dark forest.
"Holy crap," Kuwabara exclaimed as Harry returned. "I can see why the demons want you dead…"
"That's nothing," Harry smirked as he sat back down next to Yusuke and then gestured towards Genkai. "Kai would've blown them all away in less than ten seconds."
"You're very versatile," Kuruma observed. "To utilize water, ice, acid, flight, object manipulation, mental suggestion, and instantaneous loss of consciousness all in the space of ten minutes is extraordinary. Is that a result of your unique Spiritual Awareness?"
"Yeah," Harry fibbed, hiding his wince at Kurama's long list – it did seem a bit too much now – and offering the lie prepared to explain away his magical abilities. "I'm much better at seeing the nuances of Energy, and so I'm able to use my own to imitate all sorts of attacks, rather than specialize in just one type. None of the attacks are devastating, but it keeps me unpredictable."
"Boys," Genkai demanded firmly, pointing over Kuwabara's shoulder, alerting the team to the demons who were eyeing them eagerly.
"Who cares about the rules?" they scoffed.
"There's only one way to find out who's the strongest team on this ship."
"Yeah, let's just kill them all right here, right now."
"I think they stole my idea," Hiei said in a very insulted tone. "We'll have to make them pay dearly for that."
Kurama withdrew a rose from his hair and smirked. "Of course."
Genkai, Kurama, and Hiei split off to deal with their enemies more efficiently, leaving Kuwabara to deal with the nearby group. Concentrating his Spirit Energy into his hands, the human formed a long yellow rod he wielded like a sword to cut up those who attacked him.
Kurama channeled his Demon Energy into the rose, and to Harry's surprise, the flower grew into a long whip lined with thorns. Circling it over his head like a lasso, Kurama formed a wheel that sliced through all the demons in its range.
Hiei simply used his quick speed and swordsmanship to cut down demon after demon, and Genkai similarly didn't bother using Energy attacks, choosing instead to leap on top of demons' heads and shoulders to knock them out with sharp blows to critical points along their spinal cords.
Throughout the commotion, Yusuke slept on without care, and the one demon that tried to attack the unconscious boy was blasted back with a Reducto from a highly cranky wizard. Low Spirit Energy reserves made Harry irritable.
"So I guess that's it, then," Kuwabara announced proudly when he tossed the last demon overboard. "And hey, look, you can the island." He pointed ahead of the ship where an island could be seen with two strangely shaped mountains, one of which curved inwards at the top, perfect for hanging a thick noose to execute a giant. "This is going to be wild, you guys!"
Harry wasn't sure how he felt about this incredibly naïve sentiment.
"Wow, I've never seen this much rich stuff in my whole life."
While Harry couldn't say the same, what with experiencing Hogwarts and a brief visit to Malfoy Manor, he could understand Kuwabara's shock. This seemed a bit overboard for guests invited to die. Perhaps they merely felt pity for the pathetic human team that would be slaughtered in the next few days.
'This is their last chance to enjoy life,' they likely thought, those bloody posh bastards.
Kuwabara dropped a sleeping Yusuke on a shiny leather couch and the rest of the team took their seats around the glass coffee table that gleamed under the light of a gold and crystal chandelier.
The door was knocked on to announce the presence of room service. A thin man in a waiter uniform walked in and placed six cups of coffee on the table, 'compliments of the hotel.'
As the man left, a child walked in through the open door before it closed shut behind him. If it weren't for Harry's Spirit Awareness, he might not have noticed the small being, but his burnt orange Demon Energy was eye-catching, despite his trained ability to hide it.
Genkai had explained that Harry's Spirit Awareness was unique in the how he could see Spirit Energy. Other Spiritually Aware people read Energy waves as they emitted from a human, demon, object, or attack. Harry could do that too, feeling varying sensations like cold chills or oily textures on his skin in the presence of maliciously intended energy. However, his body also subconsciously set aside some of his own Spirit Energy for emitting from his body – the reason behind his low reserves – and his eyes read the return signals like a bat used echolocation with sound waves and its ears. Thus, even though this demon held in his Energy to hide his presence, it was useless against Harry.
Against the others, however… Well, Kuwabara was currently worrying about the possibility that the coffee cups were poisoned while Kurama and Hiei were trying to reassure him that no one would try something like that since they were brought all the way here to be violently murdered in front of a rabid crowd, not quietly assassinated by poison in their own room.
Genkai noticed – the demon wasn't invisible, after all, just because he stopped emitting Energy. But she merely gave the demon a dismissive side-glance, perhaps deciding he posed no danger.
Yusuke slept on.
As they all sat down to enjoy their drinks – though Kuwabara chose to stick with a can of vending machine coffee he brought with him, a pair of small yo-yos crept around the sofa to the coffee table to grab one of the remaining coffee cups.
"That's very rude," Harry spoke up, unwilling to let the small demon continue hiding. He had a human form, which was worrying in terms of his power level, and the wizard would feel more at ease if the rest of the team knew of the intruder's presence.
"What's rude?" Kuwabara asked, before turning in shock when an unfamiliar voice spoke next.
"Oh rats, guess I was caught, huh?" the child pouted, but the coffee cup was already in his hands, and he slurped at it mischievously. His large red and yellow striped cap pulled sideways over his messy brown hair and the three pink stars tattooed beneath his left eye added to his 'rebel' look. Well, as 'rebel' as an eight year old could look. Perhaps 'bratty' was a better word.
"The invited guests sure are lucky they don't have to listen to the boring opening ceremony stuff and meetings about the rules. You just have to show up and fight! Guess it doesn't matter that you learn the special finals rules and prizes since you'll be dead soon."
Yeah, a real brat.
"I'm Rinku, by the way, of the Rokuyukai team you're fighting tomorrow," he said from his position on their cabinet. Finishing the coffee, he placed it sideways in front of him, and then began to balance his entire body with his index fingers pointed on the cup's handle. "You know, I came looking because somebody told me the guests this year were special so I got excited, but you don't look that special to me. Maybe I'll even beat you all by myself."
"Don't you think you're talking too much?" The voice was deep and disdainful.
The new comer was leaning against the wall just inside the closed door. He was pale skinned with light blond hair in a tall crew cut. His tight t-shirt emphasized his defined musculature, but what caught Harry's eye was his Energy signature. As soon as he stopped hiding his presence, his acid yellow-green Demon Energy that roiled like lava began to flicker from his aura like yellow tongues of fire. It was quite obvious what kind of attacks he specialized in.
Rinku leapt off the cabinet to stand in front of the fire demon, giggling all the while. "Hey there, Zeru," he greeted with a grin. "I was just saying howdy-do to our enemies."
The demon, Zeru, ignored Rinku's explanation and opened the door to leave. For a moment, he paused in the doorway to speak at them over his shoulder. "Enjoy your last night with the living. Let's just say tomorrow will find you strongly resembling your coffee cup."
A blade of energy whipped out from behind the demon towards one of the remaining cups on the table. The amount of energy used wasn't nearly enough to do anything but tip the object, but the speed and high temperature of the blade was sufficient to slice through the delicate porcelain, the contents of the destroyed cup spilling over the untouched saucer.
Harry's breathe hitched. This demon had power, yes, but also a fine-tuned control over his abilities. Whoever faced him tomorrow would have his work cut out for them.
With this parting demonstration, the 'representatives' of their opponents tomorrow left without another word, the door swinging silently shut in their wake.
A/N: I enjoy writing Yu Yu Hakusho from Harry's perspective. It let's me write out all my funky theories about magic and Spirit Energy I've developed over the years in the guise of providing strangers with entertainment! Hahaha!
Thank you to everyone who reviewed or alerted! It's the continuing interest in all my stories that keeps me coming back :)
44 reviews as of today, 7/25/12
(I'm not too sure about in Japan, but in China, 4 is an unlucky number, and 44 even more so! Then add that to the fact that this is the 4th chapter of my 4th crossover fic... damn. If I was feeling any more superstitious, I'd write a character death scene into this chapter to use up the bad luck!)