Chapter Four: "Playground Showdown"
Kurama lay on a bed, immobile, breathing steadily. The boy stirred, slowly opening his eyes. He blinked twice trying to focus. The lighting in the room was dull, coming from a window covered by white drapes.
The fox stared up at the ceiling, his head resting in a pillow. “What happened…? Why am I--- the boy gasped, the memories of the day came back to him all in a flash. He remembered a certain blue haired girl captured by the eerie figure who was after him.
The boy suddenly sat up. He winced as pain surged from his stomach then through his entire body. He collapsed back on the bed, shaking the mattress with the jolt of weight.
A moan, almost a whisper escaped the lips of someone in the room with the fox. “I’m…sor…ry…” the voice said, “Ku…ra…ma…”
Shock and relief washed over the boy as he recognized the voice. Botan…he thought slightly smiling. He slowly lifted himself up into an upright position.
He glanced around the room in search for the girl. His eyes soon came to rest upon a small figure lying against his bed frame. A small smile graced his lips. “Botan.” he reached his hand out to touch her but stopped when he saw a tear fall down her cheek. “Huh…?”
“Why’s she…?” The boy looked down at himself, warily, a little tentative. A tight bandage was wrapped around his torso. Kurama felt a slight, painful throb in his head. The fox boy brought his slim fingers to his forehead. He came in contact with a cloth like material. It went across his forehead and came around his head. The fox also noticed another tight bandage weaved around his right upper arm. He gazed at the ferry girl. His eyes shot her an understanding look, “Because of me…”
What happened…!!?? Kurama asked, touching his forehead, trying to remember what happened after Botan’s capture.
We went to the park and then…The fox gasped as the memories soon flooded back into his mind.
*Flashback* Kurama stared at the figure holding the unconscious Spirit Guide in his arm. The girl hung from his grip, like a Raggedy Anne doll. Her light blue hair fell from its neat ponytail. Her hands and feet pointed towards the ground as her lifeless form swayed with each movement the man holding her took.
He must have manipulated his energy! Kurama thought, or I would have surely sensed him…
“Who the hell is that?!” Yusuke Urameshi cried. Anger surged through him as he saw his captured friend.
“Ah..I’m disappointed with you…Kurama…” The figure began, “You didn’t tell them about me? It breaks my heart.” The eerie creature snickered slightly.
“What!!” Yusuke cried. “Kurama, you know who HE is!?”
“No,” Kurama said, “I do not…but,” The red head growled with anger, biting his lip. “He clearly knows who I am.”
Yusuke and Kuwabara starred at the boy, shocked.
“What do you want from me?!” Kurama questioned.
The figure laughed, “I want…” he paused. “…to kill you and everything you hold dear! You got away from me last time but this time you won’t be so lucky!”
“Last…time…?” Kurama whispered.
“What do you mean!” the boy roared.
“Escaping to the Human World was genius.”
Both Kurama and Yusuke gasped. Kurama had once told Yusuke about his close encounter with death. Leaving the fox little choice but to escape to the Human World and to be reborn as the child, Shuichi Minamino. Kuwabara on the other hand looked at the figure then at Kurama and Yusuke, then back at the figure again.
“Tell me something do you possess that boy or…?” the figure questioned with indifferent interest.
“I am Shuichi,” the boy replied.
“Heh…so does that human body come with human emotions as well?” He asked. “If I were to do this…?” the figure slashed the unconscious girl in his arms with his claw like nail, across her arm. The gash immediately opened and a red liquid leaked out. The liquid dripped on to the ground, where it began to form a puddle.
Kurama’s eyes narrowed, yet his other features stayed as they where. His bright green eyes showed malice and were filled of rage.
“So you do care… heh… heh…” The dark man raised his dagger like nail to Botan’s slender neck. “I wonder if I were to…?”
“If you so much as scratch Botan…” Kurama’s face turned stern. His eyes became cold and emotionless. “I’ll make you know the “true” definition of pain.”
“Oh, is that a threat?” The figure moved his finger up to Botan’s cheek and scraped it down toward her jaw. “Do you care that much for the life of this girl?” A small amount of blood came out of the ferry girl’s cut.
Kurama answered with another cold glare. The eerie man laughed. “I guess you do…”
Kurama lifted his hand up into his long scarlet hair and pulled out a ruby red rose. The fox manifested his Spiritual energy into the beautiful flower, transforming it into a long green whip, blanketed with sharp thorns. Kurama gave the figure a threatening glare. When the boy spoke his tone was cold and icy but at the same time calm, “I swear if you hurt anyone of my friends or my family, I will kill you. You’ll know a pain far worst than death.”
The figure snickered amused at the boy’s reaction, “Will I now?” The creature raised Botan’s limb body and brought his claw up towards the girls stomach. “Why don’t we find out!”
“Botan!” cried Yusuke and Kuwabara in unison.
The demon brought it’s claw swiftly upward then downwards toward the ferry girl’s lower torso. Botan! Kurama cried in his mind. His green orbs showed sorrow and regret as he has incapable of stopping what was happening.
A loud, odd “clank” noise filled the air, as a spinning object soared through the sky. It stabbed into the ground, a few feet away from the Spirit Detective team. It was followed by a “thump” sound as something hit the ground.
Relief swept over the fox boy when he saw the spiky haired demon, Hiei, holding his sword by the hilt, which was now broken in half. The tiny man stared at the Spirit Detectives.
“Nice going Hiei!” Yusuke exclaimed raising a fist into the air.
“AAARRGGHHHH!” the figure screamed, cradling his finger, his nail had nearly been completely ripped off. A red liquid oozed out of the tip of his index finger. The dark creature peered down at the three-eyed demon, with hatred.
Hiei chuckled, grinning. “So you capture someone weaker than you to get Kurama?” The demon glanced down at the unconscious girl now laying in the grass. “I have to say that’s quite low even for a lowlife such as yourself.”
“Botan!” Kuwabara cried as he ran to the girl’s side. He knelt next to her. “Hey, Botan? Come on!” the boy said, shaking the deity. But she didn’t awake. He turned to his teammates. “She’s out cold.”
Yusuke glared at the demon. “I don’t care who you are or why the hell you are after Kurama, but I do care about my friends! And I won’t let you hurt them!” The boy made a fist and charged towards the dark figure.
He pulled back his fist, readying his punch.
“No, Yusuke!” Kurama cried. “That won’t work!”
The boy threw an obverse punch at the demon’s chest, but to no prevail. The demon vanished. Yusuke fell forward slightly, but he quickly regained his balance.
“Yusuke!” Kurama cried. “Behind you!” But it was too late. A bright beam of red light blasted the boy from behind.
Yusuke soared through the air, slamming into a slide in the nearby sand box. The boy slid down the slide, head first.
Small children screamed and ran away from the sandbox. The kids on the swings recklessly jumped off the still swinging swings, landing hard on to the sand padded ground. But they quickly got up and left. Mothers grabbed their childrens’ hands, pulling them away from the approaching battle. A few young couples stared in awe and terror at the man who had sent the young man flying through the air. Girls hide behind their boyfriends for protection as they quickly huddled away.
“Yusuke!” Kurama cried running towards his friend.
Kuwabara picked up the unconscious ferry girl and followed Kurama. “Urameshi!” the boy cried.
The red headed boy knelt down next to Yusuke. “Are you hurt?” he asked slight concern in his voice.
Yusuke flipped himself over, landing on his feet and into an up right position. “Yeah, I’m fine,” he answered, holding his head.
Kurama sighed. I can’t let him hurt the people I love. I have to bring a stop to this now! The fox stood up, holding his rose whip tightly in his hand. The boy shot an angry glare at the creature.
“Who are you?” the fox asked, his eyes showed no emotion but anger.
“Heh heh,” the figure laughed. “Kurama you haven’t forgotten about me yet, have you?” Kurama continued to glare at him. “I am the bounty hunter that went after you those many years ago.”
“I came to collect my reward…your life!”
Yusuke got up. He snickered slightly. “Well you’ll have to go through me first,” he said.
“Me too,” added Kuwabara, who was beside Yusuke. Botan lay a few feet away, still unconscious. Hiei appeared and placed himself next to Yusuke.
“Yusuke? Kuwabara…?” Kurama asked in a confused tone. “Hiei…?”
“Come on, we’re friends aren’t we?” Yusuke began. “Besides I can’t let you have all the fun.” Yusuke grinned.
The fox nodded. A small smile formed on his lips. “Yes, friends…”
“Alright then! Let’s go kick some ass!”
The three boys nodded.
“Spirit Sword!” Kuwabara cried as he harnessed his spiritual energy into his hand and formed a brightly glowing sword. The sword glowed with jagged orange light.
“Ladies first,” Yusuke said to the dark creature.
“Heh, heh. It’s rude not knowing the name of your opponent,” The figure laughed. “Allow me to introduce myself, I am Sagashi the Bounty Hunter.”
“Yeah, yeah. Well I’m sorry if we’re not as polite!”
The Bounty Hunter stared at him slightly amused at his response. “I just thought you’d like to know the name of the one that KILLS you!” Sagashi ran towards the boys. His palm out stretched. A dark aura began to form around his hand. A dark red glow surrounded his body then shot out of his palm, towards the four.
The Spirit Detectives jumped, evading the attack.
Kurama pulled his whip above his head then swung it down upon his foe. Sagashi yet again vanished and reappeared behind Kurama.
“Do you want to know what it is that enables me to evade all of your attacks? Read your every thoughts…?” The hunter’s voice whispered in the fox’s ear. The dark man chuckled. “It’s because…” he paused,. “Because you’re now human…Kurama!”
“What!” Kurama cried twisting his body around. Suddenly pain surged through the fox demon. “Uh….”
Sagashi had embedded his long claws into the boy’s stomach. Blood dripped out of Kurama’s mouth. He coughed, causing blood to pour out. The red liquid trickled down his lips and down his chin, where it fell to the sand covered ground below.
“…Uh…uh…” Kurama’s eyes widened then slowly closed as he fell forward. His Rose Whip slipped out of his hand’s grasp, falling to the ground, where it there, returned to it’s former state, a red rose.
“Kurama!” Yusuke screamed running to aid his friend. Sagashi made a swiping gesture with his hand. A large ball of red energy shot out of his hand straight toward Yusuke. The blast hit the boy head on, causing him to fly backwards.
“Urameshi!” Kuwabara cried as his friend slammed into the ground.
“Humans are so easy to read,” the hunter continued. “Their emotions can tell you everything.”
Our…e…motions…? Kurama thought lifting his head to look at Sagashi.
“Yes your emotions,” Sagashi confirmed after reading the fox’s mind. “I practiced this art for seventeen years now! Since that day you escaped from me!”
Sagashi calmed. “It’s not as if I’m a physic, let’s just say knowing your emotions I can easily read what you’re thinking.” He paused then added, “Anger is the easiest to read.”
That’s why…that’s why he’s hurting my friends and my family…Because I care about so much…he can read me… Kurama thought sorrowfully. It seems I always bring them pain…
“You catch on quick, don’t you?” Sagashi mocked. “Now it’s time…” The man’s eyes glowed red with a thirst for blood, red with the desire to kill.
Botan’s eyes fluttered open. “What happened…” she murmured under her breath. The deity sat up and glanced around, flakes of sand fell from her clothes and hair. “Why am I in a sandbox…?” The girl questioned, bewildered.
“You DIE!!!” The hunter growled. He pulled his claw-like finger nails upward into the fox’s chest. A loud “crack” sound erupted from within his body. The sound of bones cracking, breaking. The red head screamed, cries of pain echoed in Botan’s ears as she sat there staring, watching.
Tears immediately fell from her eyes. “K-kura…ma…” She shut her eyes tightly. The tears continued to fall. “KURAMA!!!!” she cried.
“Bo-tan…” Kurama whispered weakly. He slightly opened his eyes. From the cover of his eye, through his long black eyelashes he saw the ferry girl. Her purple eyes were now felled with tears. Her eyes stared at the hunter almost begging he’d stop. But he didn’t.
Kurama’s strength was almost gone. His body felt heavy. The boy let himself fall forward making the claw lie deeper within his body. Blood, the dark liquid covered his shirt and his once orange jacket. Pain, an almost unbearable pain surged through his body.
A red liquid filled the fox’s mouth, as if it was drowning him. Mother…I’m sorry…I just …I won’t always be there to pro...tect…you… The thought went through the boy’s mind over and over, countless times.
“Kurama!” Kuwabara cried as he ran toward his friend, with his sword in hand. Hiei followed close behind.
“Fools!” Sagashi scolded. He raised his arm and shot a beam of energy toward the two. Kuwabara flew back as the energy came in contact with his body. The beam continued on.
Hiei jumped out of range, dodging the blow. The three eyed demon vanished and reappeared in front of Sagashi. Hiei struck the bounty hunter, causing him to fall backwards, his claws slide out of Kurama’s chest.
Kurama, feeling much pain, struggled as he slowly backed away dizzily. He fell to the ground onto a puddle of his own blood.
“Kurama!” Yusuke cried getting up. He ran to the red head.
“I’m fine…” The fox said pushing his body off the ground. Kurama winched from the pain in his stomach. He then fell down again.
“Don’t move,” Yusuke ordered kneeling down next to the boy. “You’re badly hurt.”
A wicked laugh escaped the lips of those of the hunter’s. “You think I’m finished yet…? I won’t stop until that fox is dead!” Sagashi jumped to his feet. He ran up to Yusuke and Kurama, pushing Yusuke aside he grabbed Kurama by his long red hair, pulling the fox up. He brought his face up to his head, making his eyes meet his. The bounty hunter snickered.
“You escaped me! No one ever had escaped the Great Sagashi the Bounty Hunter…until you appeared…I would have made so much on your bounty. But now it’s not about the bounty…it’s about REVENGE!!”
Kurama glanced weakly at Sagashi. His eyes flickered from his lost of blood. “Who knows pain now?!” Sagashi yelled, restating Kurama’s words from earlier. The bounty hunter slashed his claws across the fox’s forehead, cutting the skin. Kurama winched from the slight pain. Some blood escaped from the wound and dripped down his cheeks onto his lips. The bitter taste of blood filled his mouth.
“Poor Kurama,” The hunter laughed hysterically. He then slashed once more at the fox’s stomach, tunneling his claws in his interior.
“Kurama…” Botan wept. “No…” A tear trinkled down her cheek. “Please…Ku…ra…ma…”
“No!” She screamed.
Black. Black darkness began to consume the fox boy. Botan…I can hear you but I can’t…see anything…Is this death…?
“Kurama!” Yusuke cried as he got to his feet once again and headed for the two demons.
Kuwabara ran toward the hunter, slashing his sword. Followed closely by the tiny finger of Hiei.
Kuwabara…? Hiei…? The boy closed his eyes. A small smile on his face. My friends…His smile faded. I’m sorry…
Kurama reopened his eyes. His vision began to blur. Blood leaked out of his mouth. The black darkened, beckoning the fox demon. I can’t…protect…you…
The boy fell forward, his limb body crashing into Sagashi. Sagashi laughed and removed his hand from Kurama’s stomach. The other hand still held tight to Kurama’s scarlet hair. His grip tightened. The hunter began kicking him. Repeating the motion over and over. He then threw the fox, letting go of his hold on Kurama. Kurama’s almost lifeless body came crashing to the ground a few feet away. A puddle of a dark red liquid shortly formed.
I can’t move…I feel so…weak…
The hunter began to harness his Spirit Energy into the palm of his hand. “Goodbye,” the man said. He aimed his hand at the immobile form of Kurama.
Botan lifted her body off the ground and dashed to the fox, tears rolling down her cheeks. He heart raced as she saw Sagashi readying his attack.
When she reached him she embraced his limb body close to her, shielding him with her own form.
Botan…? Kurama thought as he opened his eyes slightly then closed them.
Sagashi shot his assault. The red energy ball zoomed towards them. Botan shut her eyes tightly, fearful of the impact. But it never came.
The blue- haired girl slowly opened her eyes and looked in the direction the hunter had stood. She stared in awe as she saw Kuwabara holding back the mighty ball of red light. He skidded backwards from the force. The broad boy gathered all his strength and flung the energy ball into the air. Kuwabara fell to his knees, exhausted. “No one messes with our buddies,” the boy huffed.
“You know why?” Yusuke questioned. He stood a few feet distance from his best friend. He held a fist in the air. “Because it really pisses us off!!” Yusuke jumped forward and threw a jab at the figure. Hitting him square in the face. The hunter fidgeted backwards.
“Fist of the Mortal Flame!” Hiei cried punching Sagashi, a blue flame engulfed his fist.
Yusuke backed away from the hunter and then cried, “Spirit Gun!” He pointed his index finger at Sagashi. A glowing aura formed then shot out of his finger, blasting the bounty hunter into the sky. The hunter fell a few meters from them.
“How!? How did you attack me!? My art is suppose to be invincible! I should be able to read your every actions!”
“Heh, no one’s invincible,” Yusuke smirked. He then turned serious. “But when your fighting to protect someone you care about you can become stronger than you ever thought possible.”
A small smile graced the fox’s lips when he heard Yusuke’s words.
The hunter rose to his feet, a little unstable. “I’ll be back wait and see. And once I kill that fox you’ll be next!” he said pointing to Hiei, Yusuke, and Kuwabara. A small fog of smoke surrounded him. An eerie laugh lingered in the air. When the smoke cleared Sagashi was gone.
“Damn it!” Yusuke cursed. “He got away!” The boy’s attention soon fell upon his injured friend. “Kurama!” he cried running to the fox, Hiei and Kuwabara followed suit.
“Kurama?” Botan called to the boy now in her lap. She gentle shook him. “Kurama,” she called again.
The boy remotely opened his eyes. His friends peered down at him calling his name. The fox nodded off as the darkness consumed him.
*End of Flashback* The boy stared at the sleeping girl laying on the bed. Her light blue hair lay neatly on her shoulders. Dim light seeping from the window glittered on her features.
“She hasn’t left your side since it happened,” A voice said. Kurama turned to the voice. From the doorway came Yusuke, strolling into the room. Concern was plastered on his face.
“But why…?” Kurama asked peering once again down at the girl.
Yusuke shrugged, “I don’t know. I think she blames herself for what happened.”
“Hey, that’s what I said, but she didn’t listen,” The black haired boy replied. “So, are you doing all right?” he asked changing the subject.
“I’m fine now,” the fox answered.
“Well, take it easy and get some rest, don’t want your wounds reopening,” Yusuke said making a goodbye hand gesture as he turned around and left the room, shutting the door behind him. The scarlet headed man nodded.
Kurama’s gaze wandered back to Botan. Her bright eyes stared back at him. “You’re awake,” he smiled. The girl nodded as she turned her gaze away from him.
“I’m sorry…” she said in a whisper. Kurama was at first taken back by this but he soon understood.
“No,” he said. “Don’t be.” The ferry girl stared at him in shock. “I should be,” he said reaching his hand out to caress her tear stained cheek. “For making you cry.”
Another tear fell from Botan’s eyes. Kurama gently wiped it away with his thumb. “Please don’t cry anymore. Don’t, not because of me.”
The deity placed her hand on top of his. “Yes,” she said nodding. Kurama gave her a warm smile.
I won’t let him hurt anyone else I care for…Not again.
To be continued…
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