On the Line
Chapter Two: "One Last Time"
Yusuke dashed towards the circle of people, his heart beating as fast as his running pace. He prayed with all his might that the person they spoke of was not Keiko; not that so very dear person.
He pushed through the crowd of horror stricken people. They continued to cry out in shock and fear at the sight that lay before them.
Blood lay in a puddle around a young girl. Her blue school uniform was soaked with the red liquid and the dampness of the snow. The majority of her was covered in the white matter, indicating why she had just recently been discovered. The girl’s blonde hair blew slightly in the breeze and her blue eyes shined of no life. Blonde hair? Blue eyes? It was not Keiko!
Yusuke let out a sigh of relief. This girl, though she quite obviously went to his school, was not Keiko. Yusuke backed away from the dead girl, pushing through the crowd, who eyed him for his rudeness. He walked around the building and when he was on the other side leaned back against the cold wall. His knees gave way and he slid down to the snow, closing his eyes.
Slowly his heart beat returned to its normal pace. He took in deep breathes and slowly let them out. He felt the sweat drip down his face and he opened his eyes. The sparkle of relief shined in them. It was not Keiko.
But where was she?
Yusuke looked down at the bag that he held tightly in his right hand. It was Keiko’s school bag. He strengthened his grip on it. Keiko…
Keiko awoke cold and eyes only seeing black. Under her she felt the cold and hard surface of wood. Or was it marble? She could not tell in the dark. It was hard to breathe. The air was thick and musty. Against her lips was cloth, gagging her. Her hands and legs were bound together, tied by rope. Her hands were tied behind her back. She lay flat on her stomach, her head turned to the side.
She tried to lift her body, but couldn’t. She felt weak and only managed to fall back down. Her stomach hurt. She felt sick. Hunger, undoubtedly. Who knew what time it was and when she had last eaten. Again, it was too dark to even assume the time. But why; why was she here? And where exactly was she?
A creaking sound came from somewhere. Keiko slowed her breathing. What was that? she thought. The noise repeated again and again. Keiko’s heart beat quickened. It was too dark to see anything. Something could be in this black with her and she wouldn’t know. A dim light made a line across the ground and up top her body. Wooden floorboards appeared on the ground which she lay, confirmed by the light. Was the light coming from an open door? Keiko tried to turn to see what it was, but her bound body enabled her. The creaks of possible foot steps grew louder and a shadow fell upon the ground in front of her, silhouetted against the light. The creaks grew louder, coming closer and closer. The shadow grew bigger and bigger.
Keiko slammed her eyes together. Her breath came out short and sharp through her nose. Yusuke! she cried in her mind and tears trickled down her cheeks. She gagged on the bind on her lips. How she wanted to call out to him. Any other time he would be here; here to save her. Yusuke, help me!
The creaking stopped and she saw the shadow was now much greater in size and she knew that someone was looming down upon her. Yusuke!
Yusuke peeked from a building corner down the street at the crowd encircling the dead girl. The crowd had grown since he last looked and it would probably only get larger. Soon police would come, too. No doubt about that.
What was he going to do? The only clue he had found to Keiko’s whereabouts was a few yards away from the dead girl. The area would be closed off soon and the only chance of him finding another clue would be gone.
“Dammit!” Yusuke cursed aloud. “What am I going to do?”
Even if he did find something else he doubted he could figure out what it meant and what to do next. And if by chance he did, what if it was too late? Where was Sherlock Holmes when you needed him!
Yusuke leaned back against the wall of the building. What was he going to do? He needed to find Keiko. He needed her. He closed his eyes. He half hoped the answer would come to him and half hoped that this was sort of terrible nightmare.
“Yeah, he was acting really strange,” an all too familiar voice said. It was a bit hoarse of a voice.
“Perhaps he is under a lot of stress,” yet another familiar voice suggested. The tone was soft and kind.
“Maybe. He was asking about Kei- Hey, what’s going on over there?”
Yusuke knew the two voices as belonging to Kuwabara and Kurama, and by peeking over from the corner wall confirmed it. The two boys were staring at the crowd and had not noticed him, though he was only a few feet away. Yusuke etched away, more out of sight. He didn’t want his friends to worry too, and he was not ready to explain his behavior earlier.
Kurama’s nosed twitched as he stated, “I smell blood.”
Kuwabara looked at him, shocked, “What? Really?” Worry was in his voice.
“Nothing to worry about. We do not know the person. But we may come to wonder why Yusuke is hiding from us.” He turned to face Yusuke, a warm smile on his lips. Kuwabara followed his gaze.
“Urameshi! What are you doing here?” Kuwabara asked, hoping Yusuke hadn’t heard anything they had said about him.
Yusuke didn’t say anything. He didn’t plan to say anything. He didn’t want them to worry. He stared down at the ground, which was white with snow.
Kuwabara must have decided that his friend wasn’t going to say anything and decided to change the subject. “So,” he said. “What’s going on over there?” He glanced down at the crowd then turned back to Yusuke for an answer.
Yusuke looked up at him. For a moment Kuwabara and Kurama thought he wasn’t going to answer, but he did. “Some girl” Yusuke said, his voice calm, which was surprising to himself, “was found dead.”
Kuwabara’s face became streaked with shock and worry.
“As I said before,” Kurama interrupted. “we don’t know her and don’t need to worry.”
Kuwabara looked at the fox demon. How could he say that? Someone was dead and it didn’t mean a thing! Kurama must have sensed a fight might be in the works so he turned to Yusuke. He wasn‘t much concerned about the girl. Something was wrong with Yusuke and that was far more important. He could sense that something was wrong. “What brings you here?” His voice wasn’t as warm as usual and something in his eye made Yusuke feel like he was going to have to answer.
But he didn’t want to. He wanted to get away from here; to go find Keiko. The sands of the hourglass were falling to the glass’s bottom. He could not afford to waste time. Not when Keiko’s life was on the line. “Nothing,” he said, a little too fast and too strong. “I was just out for a walk and now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be continuing that walk.” Yusuke began to round the corner and started down the street in the opposite direction in which the crowd, dead body, and the only chance of finding Keiko were. He would come back when Kurama and Kuwabara were gone. Hopefully they would be gone in a few minutes.
“Don’t walk away from me, Yusuke,” Kurama said harshly, causing Yusuke to stop dead in his tracks. “Don’t think I can’t sense your uneasiness or the fear in your heart.” Yusuke turned around, slowly. Kurama had his back to him and Kuwabara was looking from Yusuke to Kurama, repeatedly, confused. Damn that fox and his keen sense! thought Yusuke. He just wanted to get out of here and find Keiko, not explain why he was here.
“What’s on your mind?” Kurama continued, still not looking at whom he was talking to. “What are you worried about?”
Yusuke hated the calmness in his voice. How could he be so calm when who knows what happened to Keiko! “Nothing’s wrong,” Yusuke lied.
“Stop lying, Yusuke. I know something’s wrong.”
There it was again. That unnervingly calm voice. He didn’t know what Yusuke’s heart was going through. The pain, the fear. He didn’t know. “Who’s lying?” Yusuke said, annoyance beginning to be apparent in his voice.
“Why, you are.”
“Shut up!” said Yusuke. He ran over to the fox demon, threw him round to face him, and grasped the collar of his shirt in his hand. He was really getting close to slamming his face in, but then Kurama’s eyes stopped him. The two’s eyes locked. Kurama’s were stern, yet calm, but trust was hidden in them.
“You can tell me,” he said kindly and that hint of trust shined in his eye.
Yusuke stared at him, shocked, wondering what to do. He then let go of his friend and turned away from him, not wanting to look at him. He had almost hit Kurama, his friend.
“Okay, what’s going on?” Kuwabara asked, looking from one to the other.
“Yusuke was just about to tell us what he was doing here. Weren’t you, Yusuke?” Kurama glanced over at Yusuke and Kuwabara’s eyes followed.
Yusuke tightened his grip on the bag in his hand. “Keiko…” he said slowly, through gritted teeth.
“What?” asked Kuwabara and Kurama made a questioning, “Hmmm?”
“Keiko’s missing…” Yusuke said just loud enough for them to hear. He didn’t bother to look at his friends. He knew they were probably eyeing him oddly. “She went to school this morning, but never showed up there. And…” Yusuke lifted her bag up. “..I found her bag lying on the ground.”
“What?” Kuwabara exclaimed. “Keiko’s missing? Are you sure?” He turned in the direction of the deceased girl. “That isn’t her, is it?”
“No,” Yusuke said simply. How could Kuwabara think that? How could he think of the possibility that Keiko was gone…? “That’s not her. I don’t know where she is.”
“Give me the bag, Yusuke,” said Kurama. Yusuke finally looked at him. Why did Kurama want her bag? He starred at him in wonder. “We’ll help you find Keiko.” It hit Yusuke. Of course! Kurama was a fox. Basically a dog. He could find Keiko using the scent on her bag! A small smile crossed Yusuke’s lips as he handed Kurama Keiko’s bag.
A fierce hand grabbed Keiko’s shoulder and pulled her up. Keiko opened her eyes. The tears were falling from them. A middle-aged man glanced down at her. Malice was in his twisted smile and a glint of wickedness gleamed in his eyes. His face was greasy and whiskers were scattered about. His eyes were probably brown, but appeared black in the dim light; black and sinister.
Keiko struggled to break free of his hold, but he just held tighter and grabbed her other shoulder with his free hand. His grip was painful. It cut her circulation off. She gasped at the agony, but only managed to choke on the clothe covering her mouth.
The man laughed slightly. “Looks like I got a pretty one this time, but you won’t be that way much longer.” He laughed harder, wickedly.
Keiko’s eyes widened in horror and tears trickled down her cheeks. He was going to kill her. He was going to kill her! Yusuke! her mind screamed. Where was he? If she was going to die she wanted to see him one last time. Just one last time.
To be continued….
Yu Yu Hakusho and all associated characters are copyright of Togashi Yoshihiro, Studio Pierrot, Fuji TV, Shounen Jump Weekly, and Shueisha. It's licensed by FUNimation Productions, Ltd. This is simply a fan site to it.