Returning the shards was a little more complicated than Kurama had made it out to be. The main issue was how to get the tainted shards to her. If she'd
been hunting shards in the past, she must have the ability to see them, so she'd immediately spot the one they planned to keep.
While Kurama fully intended to tell her their plans, he wanted to wait until they were in the past and she wouldn't be able to refuse her help. They couldn't do
that if she took back the shard he'd taken from her earlier. And since Hiei would never agree to being separated from his teargem, he couldn't deliver the
tainted ones himself. He'd have to wait where Kagome wouldn't see him and whatever glow the shard gave off.
The tree they'd met at earlier served well enough for a waiting spot, and Kurama drew the humans to join them under it.
"I'm going to have to take the shards myself, so if you want to wait here, that would be best. Relena could come with me if she likes, since Kagome won't be
surprised to see the two of us visit a second time today. But it might seem strange if the rest of you came as well."
Relena sent a slow look at Heero before shaking her head. "I'd rather wait here."
She didn't like him anymore. That thought made Kurama smirk, and he nodded at the girl. "All right, then. I don't think it will take long. If all goes well, her
family will be there, so I can deliver them without giving her a chance to ask that many questions."
Hiei's eyes narrowed, and he sent Kurama a challenging look. "You plan to deliver these?"
He'd lifted his sword free, nodding to the glints in the hilt. "With or without the sword?"
"Without," Kurama said quickly. "I can't go up to her with a weapon in hand, especially one so unusual as that."
"Then you're planning to carry them."
Hiei stared for a long moment before smirking, a glint off one white fang catching the fading daylight. "This should be good."
Duo's gaze shifted from Hiei, over to Kurama, then back again. "Um, didn't you say the tainted ones were dangerous?"
"Yes," Kurama admitted.
He was frowning at Hiei's mocking expression, and he turned to include Duo in that. "But it's worth a try. Hiei can't do this or she'll see his shard, and we don't
want her to realize we have one of them. I suppose one of you might be safer, but I don't really know what sort of effect a tainted shard might have on a
"Right," Hiei smirked, holding the blade of his sword so the hilt was offered to Kurama. "Let's see your self control, fox."
The two cats in Duo's arms shifted a bit, their ears perked forward with interest, and Duo raised an eyebrow at the way Wing's tail was twitching merrily.
Whatever joke Hiei had planned, he could almost swear the cats were in on it.
Kurama merely looked at the offered shards, his expression droll and giving off an aura of irritation. Then he sniffed and plucked both pieces free, closing
them in the palm of his right hand. The effect was instantaneous.
Wing and Shinigami pressed closer to Duo as if avoiding some sort of wave that ruffled their fur, though they continued to show amusement. Kurama's eyes
widened, then narrowed, turning a mottled mix of gold and green, and his red hair flickered with bits of silver, lifting and falling as if he were standing in a light
breeze that didn't quite touch anyone else.
Kurama abruptly groaned and tossed the pieces away, Hiei catching them with a quiet laugh.
Glowering at the amusement directed at him, Kurama shook his head. "It is not funny."
"Yes it is," Hiei smirked.
His headband was glowing green again, but otherwise he didn't seem to be affected by the shards he held.
"You're too volatile. You can barely touch me without turning youko, did you really think you could hold these and retain that form? Let one of the humans
take them, you're not competent to do it."
That insult definitely prickled Kurama's pride, judging by the quiet growl he gave. And the wry smile on Hiei's face was one that made Duo decidedly
If he'd wondered about the two of them before, he had no doubt now. Kurama looked to be a few seconds away from pouncing, and Duo could have sworn
Hiei was enticing him to do just that.
He cleared his throat nervously, drawing their attention. "I'll take them if you want. I don't know Kagome, but she probably noticed you were at our table today,
so it wouldn't be too strange."
"Do the tainted ones have a bad effect on humans?" Hilde asked worriedly. "It might be dangerous."
"So long as you don't try to tap them it should be fine," Kurama answered. His eyes were still narrow, but he managed a weak smile for the girl. "If they're
wrapped in something I don't think it would make much difference."
Turning back to Hiei, he gave a disapproving frown, shaking his head as he pulled a small bit of cloth out of his vest. "Here."
Hiei continued to smirk as he caught the cloth and wrapped the two shards. The tainted pieces might have pushed Kurama's self control, but his taunts were
just as powerful. He rather liked having that effect on the fox. It served as a nice payback for ruining his fun earlier.
Duo was watching him, and he handed the small bundle to the boy, watching carefully to see if it had an adverse effect on him. After a moment of waiting, it
seemed to be safe enough.
"They don't feel powerful," Duo commented, lifting his hand to look at it. "They just feel cold, or maybe hot, it tingles my palm. Sort of a queasy feeling, really."
"It shouldn't hurt you," said Kurama. "If you're willing, we can go now. And thank you for offering."
"No problem," Duo smirked.
"Just leave the familiars before they bite your hand off."
Duo's eyes widened and he looked down, blanching when he saw the way Wing and Shinigami were staring at his palm. They definitely looked like they were
ravenous and the little bundle was the first food they'd seen in weeks.
He shivered and handed the cats over to Hilde with wide eyes. "Why don't you hold them for me."
Kurama smirked, shaking his head at Duo's wary expression. "Don't worry, they're just feeling the same impulse any demon would from being so close to
these shards. They can't really help it, especially in their dormant forms."
Wing blinked suddenly, shaking his head. "So strong..."
"They are," said Hiei. "So keep your distance from them in the future."
The white cat turned to look at him, and he smirked at the way Kurama bristled. He raised an eyebrow at the redhead. "What are you waiting for?"
"We'll be right back," Kurama sniffed.
As it turned out, they didn't get to speak to Kagome in person. Where Kurama had hoped her family would be there to save him from answering any pointed
questions, he hadn't expected the girl to be isolated in her room, all visitors denied.
A bit of concerned prodding found that she'd suffered at least some injury from the attack, a broken leg. The news left Kurama cursing and spitting inside,
though the old man who'd answered the door had no idea from his seemingly sympathetic expression.
With a sad smile, Kurama explained that he'd found some items he thought were Kagome's and wished to return them. Duo shot him a sharp look when he
made no mention of the jar. Instead, he nodded to the cloth-wrapped tainted ones. The old man must have had some magic of his own, from the way he
stumbled over his words after accepting the bundle. But he didn't ask any questions, and Kurama didn't offer any information.
Minutes later the two of them were on their way back to the others.
"Why didn't you give him the jar?" Duo frowned, walking a bit quicker to keep up with the redhead's long-legged stride. "Wasn't that the point, so she could
keep them pure?"
"If her leg really is broken, then giving these to her would be inviting another theft," said Kurama. His eyes were sharp and narrow, and he was still fuming
inside. "I don't believe she can travel through the portal without the shards, but if it was an excuse, then our time is shorter than we thought. Regardless, with
those two tainted ones she can get through to the past. The only question is whether or not she's too injured to travel. If she is, then we'll have to do this
"But you said she was needed to purify the shards," said Duo. "Can you collect them if they're all tainted?"
Kurama's teeth gnashed, and he shook his head sharply. "I don't know. If we have to, we'll collect them and return here to get them purified. We don't have
time to wait for a broken bone to be healed, and the only person I know capable of healing her is not to be involved in this. She should never have kept the
shards on her person if she were incapable of guarding them."
The tone was icy, enough so that Duo found himself increasing the space between them. He was relieved when they returned to the others, more than glad to
take up a safer spot next to Heero. Kurama wasted no time giving the bad news in a few sharp words to Hiei. Then he was shaking his head at the humans.
"It's a set back," Kurama said, his voice calming some. "But we can't hesitate because of this. If you still want to be involved, we'll go to see Koenma now.
Know, though, that this will make our search for the shards more dangerous, having to keep tainted ones in our possession, rather than getting them purified
immediately. It does, however, mean that Koemna is more likely to accept your help. We'll need someone who can spot the shards."
He nodded to Heero with a solemn look. "Play that card when you meet him, it's your best shot at gaining his approval."
"So where is this Reikai?" asked Duo. "You never did say, earlier."
"It's another dimension, another plain."
Kurama shook his head as he pulled a small compact from his vest and flicked it open. "Think of it as a skyscraper with multiple levels. At the bottom are the
levels of the Makai, middle is the Ningenkai, top, the Reikai. But it isn't some invisible place in the sky, it's a true overlaying dimension in itself. Just accept
that it exists. There's little point in trying to understand how they've set it up."
The redhead was typing something, and Duo stood on his toes a bit to see the thing he held. Sure enough, it looked more like a tiny computer than the
makeup compact he'd thought it was. Kurama pressed a few buttons and snapped it closed, sliding it back into his vest.
"Can you open doors to this other dimension, then?" asked Duo.
"Not normally," said Kurama. "It's illegal to break into the Reikai. Though I could if I chose to, there's no need to add to our crimes. I've sent a call in, one of
the ferry girls will lead us through."
He nodded over at Hiei. "Probably Botan."
Hiei sniffed, his face twisting in distaste. "If she offers you another ride on her oar, I'm going to hit her over the head with it."
"Be nice," Kurama laughed. "She's still more human than anything, so she can't help her reaction."
Duo didn't understand what the demons were talking about, so he kept his gaze shifting around them. "How long will it take this ferry girl to get here?"
He might as well have saved his breath. No sooner had he spoken than his ears popped, and he blinked to find a person a few feet above them where clear
sky had been a moment before. She had pale blue hair that was pulled back into a long, bushy pony tail, and pale pink robes. The pastels weren't nearly as
unusual as the strange oar she was riding, in a sidesaddle position that made Duo raise an eyebrow.
He wanted to ask how she stayed on the thing, but he might as well ask how she was floating it above the ground as if she were some witch on a broomstick.
The girl beamed, her gaze on Kurama. She was waving her hand as if he couldn't see her perfectly well.
"Botan," Kurama smiled, his eyes flicking to the side to take in Hiei's sneer.
The ferry girl started to lower her oar, only catching sight of the others once she was on her feet.
"Oh!" Botan gasped, her pale blue eyes widening on the four humans. "They're...did you see...?"
"They're human," Kurama nodded, "but they know about us and our mission. They want to help, in return for a favor from Koenma. That's why I called you, so
you could take us to see him."
Botan stared at the humans for a long moment before turning a disapproving look on the redhead.
"You weren't supposed to involve the local people," she said, shaking her head. "Koenma-sama will not like this one bit."
"I know," said Kurama. "Unfortunately, we've had a setback and their help may be the only way we can accomplish our mission. If you'll take us there, I'm
prepared to explain to Koenma."
His expression turned into a light, teasing smile. "Don't worry, I won't let him yell at you. You'd just be doing what I asked you to do."
"He still won't like it," Botan fretted, tugging on a bit of her hair as she sent another look at the four. "I'm not supposed to take regular ningens to the Reikai.
And he's so busy right now...he's going to be really unhappy with this."
"Just do it," Hiei sniffed. "Or I'll take them myself."
A sharp look hit him, but he pointedly ignored Kurama. His dark red eyes stared hard at Botan and the ferry girl abruptly paled. She might be friendlier than
ever with Kurama, but she was still more than a little intimidated by him. And for good reason.
"I'm in a hurry," he warned, his eyes glinting.
Botan shivered, hopping onto her oar so she could put a little more distance between her and the volatile demon. "R-right," she said quickly. She waved a
hand at the four teens, giving them a weak smile. "Ano...if you'll just stand together, I'll open a passage for us. You just walk in and it'll take us all to the
Heero raised an eyebrow when the girl promptly moved her hand, doing something that he couldn't see the significance of. Whatever she'd done, it seemed
to have worked. The air in front of her shimmered and opened in a sort of bubble, the inside a startling mix of moving colors. Without a word for it, he thought
it was what a vortex might look like.
The two demons nodded to them before stepping in and Heero waited till Hilde and Duo followed. Relena was sticking close to his side, so he had to proceed
her before she'd enter the suspicious thing.
The moment they were all inside, with the open bubble giving them a shot of tree they'd left behind, the blue-haired girl smiled at them. Then the bubble
closed and the colors changed.
It was one of the most disorienting experiences Duo had ever been through and all they did was stand still. As if they were standing in some cylinder, the walls
flowed past them, the colors mixing in a way that made his stomach flip.
The ferry girl, Botan, was seated on her oar, and the moving walls gave her an appearance of flying rapidly. But she never got any further away from the rest
of them. Duo shook his head and glanced over at Hilde to see how she was taking the strange travel.
He quickly smirked at her pale face and reached his hands out to take the cats. She didn't look like she could hold them and keep her balance at the same
time. The two cats had their ears back, but their eyes were closed, no doubt keeping them from feeling out of sorts.
Heero had come into the strange place after him, and Duo glanced back to check his status. He immediately wished he hadn't. Relena had her face pressed
to Heero's back, hiding her eyes, but also getting close enough to the boy that Duo wanted to rip her away. The only thing that kept him from it was the
resigned, slightly nauseated expression on Heero's face. Duo caught his gaze and gave the boy a sympathetic wince.
Since she'd never taken normal, unprepared humans to the Reikai, Botan took them directly inside. She had an idea it would be better if they didn't have to
walk through the crowded halls. They might know about Kurama and Hiei being demons, but she doubted they would take the sight of dozens of oni very well.
Those large, simple-minded demons didn't look nearly as human as Kurama did.
Besides that, the quicker she got them to Koenma's office, the quicker she could hide behind the door where he couldn't yell at her. She just knew he was
going to be mad about the interruption, not to mention the involvement of humans in what was supposed to be a Reikai matter.
Kurama caught her gaze, giving her a reassuring smile, and she found herself drifting a bit closer to him. He might have been gorgeous before, but now he
Hiei growled the moment their feet set down in the room outside Koenma's office. With a sharp, dangerous look, he sent Botan scurrying back a few feet.
The ferry girl abruptly turned business-like, hiding her oar away and knocking smartly on the large door. A few seconds later, a large head peaked out,
George's eyes widening as he saw her.
"They need to talk to Koenma," said Botan, her voice quiet so hopefully it wouldn't carry inside the office.
The oni nodded at her and she ducked back so the others would enter without her being spotted. A choking sound reached her before George pulled the
doors shut behind them.
"What is this?!" Koenma demanded, his mouth falling open as he nearly fell out of his chair. The pacifier he was slowly recharging almost dropped out of his
open mouth, and he quickly closed it.
Stepping ahead of the humans, Kurama nodded. "A demon attacked us and these four came to our aid. Relena, Heero, Duo, and Hilde," he introduced.
"And the two cats are familiars, Wing and Shinigami. From what we can tell, they could both be B class demons or higher."
That did it. Koenma's flabbergasted expression turned into one of suspicion.
"In return for helping us, and the Reikai, they want to keep their familiars here with them. They're willing to go to the past with us to prove that they and their
familiars can be trusted. And," he said, raising his voice when it looked like Koenma would interrupt, "we need their help. Kagome was injured in the attack so
we need someone who will be able to spot the shards. Heero has that ability."
"What about the rest of them?" Koenma scowled.
He stood on his chair, staring hard at the four teens. "Their reiki is very low."
"It's not," Hiei sniffed. "They hide it."
"We don't hide it," Duo frowned, "it just doesn't show till we transform."
The baby turned to look at him, and he felt a drop of sweat break out on his forehead. Koenma looked just like a one year old infant, complete with the round
pacifier that bobbed in his mouth. His high pitched voice had complimented the appearance and Duo couldn't for the life of him figure out how this guy could
be the leader.
Koenma raised an eyebrow, leaning over his table as he stared at the longhaired boy in rising interest. "Transform? What do you transform into? You don't
have latent demon blood, do you?"
"No," Kurama said quickly. "From what they've told us, they tap into the power of planets in this solar system."
Wide brown eyes flicked to him, and he gave a smirk, shrugging lightly. "I can't find any other explanation for the power they have."
"Planets," Koenma murmured, dropping his chin to rest on one chubby fist. "Power from planets?"
"They're S class," Hiei spat, not looking at any of them.
"Surely not," Koenma sputtered. "They'd never be able to suppress that much power!"
Kurama nodded to Heero, catching the boy's dark gaze. "You'll have to show him yourselves."
Since Heero didn't look particularly enthusiastic about that, Duo took the honors. He stepped forward to give what he hoped was an impartial smile to the
toddler. There was little chance he could fake respect for someone who looked like a chubby infant, godling or not.
"Duo," he said brightly, "and my planet is Saturn."
The boy closed his eyes, and Koenma leaned forward in his seat, almost reaching out to feel the energy being tapped. It wasn't that the boy had repressed
his energy. Rather, he'd been an empty container that was now being refilled.
Koenma's gaze shifted away from the violet glow obscuring Duo and glanced at Hiei. This wasn't too different from what happened when the demon absorbed
the kokoryuuha. The only question was whether or not this 'power of Saturn' was an intelligent entity.
It felt like pure energy, particular to the human it was flowing into. He wasn't borrowing energy so much as reclaiming a stock of his own that had been stored
elsewhere. And as old as he was, Koenma had never heard of such a thing.
The violet light dissipated to reveal a dark outfit of the same shade, complete with a long black cape. A silver cross glinted from his neck, where the shirt
opened in a slight V, and black fingerless gloves shown beneath the ruffles that ended the long sleeves. His hair was now loose, falling down to the back of
his knees, the rich mahogany color brightened by the black headdress that partially covered it, ending near his shoulders and just above his bangs. A dark
violet band kept it in place.
But as unusual as his outfit was, the weapon was what drew Koenma's gaze. The boy was holding a black staff taller than himself, one that ended in a dark,
Koenma jerked around, scowling at the frightened oni cowering in the corner of his office. George had been standing quietly, but now he was waving a shaky
finger at Duo, completely oblivious to the boy's confused expression.
"Shut up," Koenma groaned. "Go file something."
The big demon shivered and hurried out of the room, sticking close the wall and watching Duo as if the boy would smite him if he dared to turn his back. Once
the door closed behind him, Koenma sighed and shook his head.
"It's so hard to find good help these days. Mixing up Death and Destruction..."
"Destruction?" Hiei straightened, sending a sharp look at Duo. He'd moved away when the boy transformed, and he still didn't come any closer.
He folded his arms with a dark glare. "He's too young to be Silence."
"But that legend could have base in fact," Kurama murmured, easing a bit forward so he was directly between Hiei and Duo. The human was simply letting off
far too much reiki.
"Only it wouldn't explain the others."
"What are you guys talking about?" asked Duo.
He turned to frown at Kurama, noting curiously that Hiei's shoulders were hunched just as they'd been the last time he transformed. The only thing missing
was the sword and the growl.
"And why are you acting like that?" he muttered crossly.
"Later." Koenma waved, his eyes gleaming with a mad light that would have sent George cowering if he'd still been in the room. "Let's see the rest of you
before we jump to conclusions."
Duo turned to look at Heero, not quite loosing his irritated frown. "Well?" he prompted.
The boy sniffed at him, not bothering to announce his planet before transforming. Though he'd seen it before, Duo couldn't help the appreciative smile that
spread over his face as that dark blue light faded away to reveal the boy once more.
Heero's hand automatically shifted to rest on the hilt of the straight sword hanging at his waist, the ivory chain bright in the well lit room. Unlike Duo, his dark
blue clothing brought out the color of his bare arms, the black fingerless gloves prominent and - Duo thought - sexy as hell. The ivory band around his
forehead and matching cape gave him a medieval, princely appearance, as did his high white boots, bright against the dark blue lining of that long cape.
Dark blue eyes flicked over to Duo, and he grinned at Heero's quirked, questioning eyebrow. He carefully refrained from telling Heero how good he looked,
not in front of the others.
That infant 'god' was watching them, and Duo nodded to him. "Heero's planet is Earth. As far as we can tell, the colors of our powers and clothing match the
types of attacks we have. But Heero uses white, so he's an exception."
He turned to smile at Hilde, giving the girl a nod so she moved forward a bit. "Hilde, though, she uses an element - water."
Duo had never really seen one of the girls transform, so he was as curious as the others. Unlike his own power, Hilde seemed to call forth a colored wind that
swept up from her feet, rifling her dark bluish black hair before wrapping her in a bluish glow that hid her from view. A moment later it seemed to burst
outward, with sparkles of color that matched her short skirt. Dark blue boots reached nearly to her knees, a gap of pale leg before the overly short skirt.
Duo's face warmed a bit as he'd honestly never realized the girls had such short skirts. Compared to his and Heero's clothing, the girls were at a serious
disadvantage. He was almost tempted to offer her his cape so she wouldn't look so...naked.
The large paler blue bow over her breasts were at least more covering, and her long white gloves helped to make up for the lack of sleeves, those thin dark
blue sleeves hardly worthy of the name.
Reaching a hand up to finger the silver crown that came to a slight v over her forehead, Hilde addressed the godling. Koenma was giving her a wide smile,
and infant or not, it made her want to tug on the bottom edge of her skirt.
"Mercury is my planet. The other girls - the ones who aren't here, are Mars and Jupiter. We represent the inner planets, aside from Heero. I guess Earth is
"I," Relena said, stepping forward with her chin lifted, "represent Venus. But I don't have an element-based attack. My specialty is healing more than
She turned shy eyes on Heero, trying to catch his gaze so he'd be watching when she transformed.
After Hilde, Relena's transformation was expected and not watched as closely. Neither Duo nor Heero particularly liked the way that golden wind ruffled her
skirt. They didn't want to be looking down when her legs were shown, either. And it was good that they hadn't looked since her high heeled shoes revealed
much more skin than Hilde's boots.
The similarities between the outfits were blatant, and Hilde nodded. "For us girls, our outfits look the same with only a few differences - namely color. Mars is
red, with fire based attacks, and Jupiter is green, wind and electric types. They can also heal, though, they just have to do it together."
"Hilde here," Duo smirked, "is our best blocker. She has a cool shield she picked up that blocks attacks. It's just too bad it's pink."
"I think it's pretty," Relena frowned, looking over at the boy.
Smiling widely, Duo nodded. "I'm sure you do."
"Well," Koenma commented, easing back in his seat. "This is interesting. How many of you are there aside from these two other girls?"
"Three more," Kurama answered. "Nine altogether. The five remaining have offered to assist guarding the portal while we're gone."
Koenma frowned, his pacifier bobbing thoughtfully. "Touya's coming for that."
"True." Kurama gave a light shrug. "But having assistance would just make it safer. I didn't read the others, but if one of them is S class, they could come in
quite useful. If we can get through the barrier, you know others could find a way over to stage a back attack on the portal."
"Hm..." Looking between the four youths, Koenma sighed. "And in return they want to keep...them."
His gaze had shifted to the two cats Duo was still holding. He raised an eyebrow when the felines continued watching him calmly. "Are they intelligent?"
"Depends on who you ask," Wing sniffed, shooting a look over to where Heero was standing.
"Ah! Very good," Koenma smiled, looking at the cat. "And what are your other forms? Let's see them."
"They can't shift," said Kurama. "That's why they want to go to the past with us - so they can prove themselves in the Makai. They're certain to recall their
past forms if they spend time surrounded by demons."
He didn't mention that he and Hiei had already given them impetus to recall those forms, by the way of direct contact and outright challenge.
Koenma frowned in disappointment, settling down to rest his elbow on the desk. "I see. What about names? Do either of you have a record?"
"If they do, they've forgotten," Kurama said, answering for them. He sent a sharp look at the white cat, hoping he caught the order to keep silent. "Their
names are Wind and Shi-chan."
Violet eyes blinked over at him, Duo frowning at the mistake. He started to correct the redhead, but a light touch from Heero stopped him.
He didn't get a chance to wonder why Kurama had given Wing's name wrong. The moment Heero moved to him, that baby god jumped to his feet. Duo
blinked wary eyes at him.
Koenma hopped out of his chair, crossing the room to stand directly in front of the pair. "No sense of energy at all. You, step back again!"
Heero did, giving him a droll stare. "And it's full strength just like that. Does it work with all of you, or just you two?"
"All of them," Kurama said, nodding to the godling. "If any one of them is physically apart, the energy is apparent. But the moment two or more are together, it
masks itself. They don't notice since they don't feel reiki - or youki for that matter."
"Not at all?" Koenma asked, blinking up at Duo in surprise. "So much power and you can't sense other energies?"
"Well, no," Duo said slowly. "But I did feel something odd from those shards they were looking for. And Heero could see a glow from them that the rest of us
couldn't. So I guess those are energies."
"Very interesting, very. I'd love to keep your group here for tests some time," Koenma commented, turning back to his desk. "But there's too much to do right
now. I'll take Kurama at his word for this one."
He flicked a smirking glance at the redhead, noting how he stiffened, just a bit at being put on the spot. "I'll give the go for them helping, but it's still up to you
to direct them. The ones staying here, though, we'll need some liaison so Touya's group can contact them if needed."
"I'll get a communicator from Botan," Kurama nodded. "We'll leave it with the group staying in the town."
"Better put Quatre in charge of it," Duo said, looking over at Heero. "Wufei isn't much of a people person, and Trowa's even worse than he is."
The Japanese boy smirked and gave a slight nod in agreement.
"I'll leave you to it, then," Koenma said sharply.
He turned his attention to the papers on his desk, not looking up when until Kurama cleared his throat. "What? Is there more?"
Obviously there wasn't, if Koenma was dismissing them that quickly. Kurama sighed. "No."
Turning to the humans, he nodded them to the door. Hiei followed a few steps behind him, and he reminded himself to make them all turn back before they
got into Botan's tunnel. It wouldn't do to be so close to them when they were exuding such energy.
They met up with Botan outside the office, George straightening when they approached. The large demon squealed when he saw Duo and scurried into the
office, slamming the door behind him. Duo sweatdropped.
"What's up with him, anyway?" he asked, scowling at Kurama. The redhead gave him a benign smile.
"It's the scythe," said Kurama. "There are many legends about beings with scythes, you know. None of them are good legends, and oni tend to be easily
frightened - they aren't the bravest of youkai. You should shift back now."
They did, the flickers of various lights making Botan's eyes widen from where she stood watching. He nodded to the girl and went over to get another
communicator for the team staying behind. When he turned back, it was to find Heero frowning at him.
"This girl," Heero said sharply, the frown making his voice tense. "Kagome. If her being injured causes complications, would it be worse to reveal your plan
now than to go on without her?"
"No," Kurama admitted, "but even if we were to reveal our intentions now, it wouldn't change her injury. I doubt she can travel, and it would be too dangerous
to cart an invalid with us."
He gave a sad smile. "She would slow us down."
"But if she were healed, then it would be worth revealing everything now," Heero prodded.
The redhead frowned at him for a long moment before turning to stare at Relena.
"You," Kurama said softly, his wide eyes barely noting the way the girl looked suspiciously at him. "Do you think you could heal a broken bone?"
"I don't see why not," Relena sniffed. "But if you expect me to tell Kagome about my powers, you're sorely mistaken. I do have a reputation to uphold in the
Hilde winced, placing a light hand on her friend's shoulder. "But Relena, if we go with them, then Kagome will know anyway - whether she finds out now or
The blonde girl froze, a sickly pale taking over her face. Hilde quickly smiled at her. "I'm sure Kagome won't tell anyone. After all, we know her secret - about
why she's been absent so much this year. I doubt she'd break a pact if it meant she would be revealed as well."
"But she doesn't have as much to lose," Relena said, her voice still faint at the thought of the entire school pointing and whispering about her. "She's been
absent so much they already think she's dying. So what if they think she's insane as well? It's not like her friends would care about the gossip."
"No more than yours would," Hilde said, beaming at the girl. "After all, your friends are just like you. And besides, if everyone thinks she's crazy right now, who
would believe her if she spread wild tales about you?"
That did the trick. She could practically see the confidence snap down around Relena.
"No one would." Nodding sharply, Relena turned to give Kurama a bold look. "I'll heal her now, if you want."
Kurama smiled, as if he hadn't just learned the way to manipulate the girl. "It's certainly worth a try, thank you. I doubt she'd go to the Makai at night, so I'll
leave a message for her to let her know she'll be getting visitors tomorrow. In the morning would be best."
He shot a quick look at the other humans. "Whether she can be healed or not, we need to get on with our plans. We'll be identifying the portal tomorrow,
hopefully going through it immediately. You should expect to be away for days at the least. Food isn't a problem, but you'll want to bring packs with provisions
you think might be needed - extra clothing, bedding."
- - -