[FFML] [yyh][ry][rewrite] Youtou Shinnoken Chapter 2: Heart of Sword (Part 2)

Abdiel gabriel_gabdiel at yahoo.com
Sat Aug 15 01:15:07 PDT 2009


"Kenshin! How does this taste?"

"Hey! Jo-chan! Don't poison Kenshin with that stuff!"

"Hell yeah! Kenshin still has to teach me some more defensive
techniques! He can't teach me anything while he's bed-ridden!"

Two loud cracks from a bamboo sword was heard, followed by course
language that shouldn't be heard from a prim and proper lady.

Kenshin sighed. How he missed them; how he missed them all.


________________________________________________________________________


Youtou Shinnoken: Demon Sword
A Rurouni Kenshin/Yuyu Hakusho fic
By Chester Castañeda
chester.castaneda at gmail.com
And Danyal Herder
dherder222 at hotmail.com
Original concept by Chad Yang
chadjill at ms3.hinet.net
http://www.fanfiction.net/~abdiel

Second chapter! This fic is sort of easier for me to do since there are
two authors writing this, but it is also harder for the very same reason
(Ne, Danyal? ^_~). So without further adieu, Chapter 2!

________________________________________________________________________

Chapter 2: Heart of Sword (Part 2)
________________________________________________________________________



Fifteen minutes before Yusuke met Kenshin...

Because Yusuke was so reckless, he attempted to shoot the buckled-down
Rando with the Rei-Gan once again, despite the fact that it didn't work
on the demon the first time. In any case, it wasn't as if he was doing
anything groundbreaking or out of character. He was reckless and
impulsive because he was Yusuke Urameshi, and that was that.

"Go ahead. Shoot that Rei-Gan and waste your energy. Once you're through,
I'll come over there and break your neck," Rando arrogantly bluffed, his
rubbery legs trembling after taking the full brunt of Yusuke's Octopus
Assault earlier. Nevertheless, his Inner Blood Turmoil technique was on
standby, ready to absorb the Spirit Ball when worse came to worst.

Once everything was said and done, Yusuke fired his Rei-Gan despite
Rando's Inner Blood Turmoil Technique, and Rando could not move to avoid
it because of Yusuke's Tako Nagure Technique. Their impasse was about to
end, and the balance was about to shift.

"Kyuuketsuki Kakuto Ryu--!" Rando started to chant, but was surprised
when the Rei-Gan blasted the ground in front of him instead of hitting
him. "HA! You missed!"

"No, I didn't." Yusuke smirked as an avalanche of debris shot straight
for the hapless Rando, breaking every bone in his body. 

However, once the high-velocity barrage was finished and the thoroughly
bloodied demon was about to fall into a dead faint, Rando defiantly 
shouted, "Who the HELL do you think I am, you BASTARD?!" 

"Dammit, why won't you die?" Yusuke likewise cried out as his steel
fists turned into speeding, flesh-colored blurs. "I'll finish you off
right now! If an eight-punch combo isn't enough to take you down, then
let's see you survive a hundred punches! HYAKU RETSU KEN!"

"No," came Rando's guttural growl of adamant denial. "I won't let you.
Kyuuketsuki Kakuto Ryu Ougi: BLOOD WIND!"

Even though the Rei-Gan didn't directly hit Rando, he was still able to
activate the Desperation Technique of the Blood Wind by combining the
ambient reiki of the surrounding area, the blood-ki of his own bleeding
body, and the Rei-Gan he absorbed earlier to form a crimson, energy-
absorbing tornado of pure death. It was the ultimate kamikaze attack
that allowed even injured fighters a fighting chance for a comeback.

"For the glory of Chojin-sama's eventual rise to power, I will not waste
the chance given by him to deliver my sweet revenge upon you, Urameshi!
Taste the suffering I've gone through in REIKAI'S HELL! CHOKE ON IT!" 

"Chojin? Who's...?"

Yusuke felt his spirit energy get halved as soon as his body went into
contact with the whirling scarlet vortex. 'I'm... losing? Rando's about
to beat me? But he's only about Class-B at best! I don't believe it.
This isn't the same Rando I fought with a year and a half ago.
Something's changed in him.' 

Just as a large portion of Yusuke's energy was sapped by the Blood Wind,
a portal opened from behind him and out appeared Kuwabara via the power
of his peerless Jigen Tou. He must be going batshit insane.

"URAMESHI! Leave Rando to me! Koenma says that you shouldn't let the
Demon Sword fall into the wrong hands or something!" the newly-arrived
Kazuma Kuwabara curtly informed Yusuke before braving the storms of
Rando's ougi. "What the hell are you waiting for? GO!"

"Damn interloper! BLOOD FIRE WAVE!" Rando shrieked after using the
energies that the Blood Wind had gathered to revitalize his battered
form, firing off a poor man's version of the Vampire Discipline's
ultimate counterattack at Kuwabara.

"Kuwabara," Yusuke gasped as he gingerly favored his midsection, feeling
rather worn out. "I owe you one." He proceeded to turn and run into the
dark depths of the cave, his silhouette fading soon afterwards.

From there, Kuwabara's Jigen Tou quickly flickered like a candle in the 
wind as he desperately slashed against Rando's crimson projectiles. 

"Fool. By taking the bullet meant for Urameshi, your spiritual powers
have now been sapped as well. Your interference is all for nothing,"
Rando boasted, but was surprised when Kuwabara kept coming forward. "W-
What are you doing? You've lost, so get lost!"

"No, I don't think so," Kuwabara growled as he slashed another portal
and tackled Rando into it before his Dimension Sword disappeared
altogether. After all, a _real_ man made sure to keep his word; when he
promised Yusuke that he'd take care of Rando, he meant it.

A few minutes later, they were transported into a mountain forest many,
many miles away.


***


Back to the present...

"Ah, Yusuke. Good! You've made it! And you've brought the sword and its
guardian too. That's nice," Koenma complimented amicably as he greeted
the spirit detective and his red-haired companion. "This is the perfect
time for us to attain the abilities of the Demon Sword."

Yusuke skeptically looked at Koenma as he cleaned his ear with his
pinky finger. "What the heck is this all about, Koenma? I thought this
was just a clean-cut, artifact-gathering type of mission; nothing more
to it than that. You certainly didn't say anything about," Yusuke paused
for a while as he thumbed towards Kenshin's direction, "him. Or Rando.
Or demons that can combine themselves together."

"Ah, of course. I understand," Koenma cooed soothingly as he sweated
under the palpable atmosphere of a threat derived from Yusuke's rather
excitable demeanor. "Well, actually, the sword was supposed to be kept
sealed and some such for centuries to come because of its direct effect
on demons. It's..."

Yusuke rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah, yeah; it's bad for it to go to the
wrong hands, blah, blah, blah, the entirety of the Human World will be
in jeopardy, yackity-smackety-smack. Screw that, Koenma. What's the real
deal behind the sword without the Spirit World red tape? Whatever this
redhead thinks or feels, I do too. What's up with that?"

"Um, excuse me," Kenshin politely interjected, finally getting the
attention of both Mazoku Descendant and the Son of the Lord of the Dead.
"I _was_ sort of wondering why I am still in a physical form." He
gestured towards the sword. "The sword is my 'true' form now. How did I
get _this_ sort of flesh and blood type of form; my form when I was
still alive?"

Koenma's hazel eyes shifted uneasily from left to right. "I suppose the
reason why you were summoned again was because of the incredible amount
of reiki Yusuke could handle. I gather his almost unlimited spiritual
potential reacted to the sword in a different way than usual.  He's not,
after all, just a low-level youkai or a higher-echelon demon."

Feeling the intensity of Yusuke's 'What the hell?' gaze, Koenma
clarified, "I reckon you could consider Himura-san's manifestation in
reaction to your reiki to... well... you and Puu's spiritual connection.
To put it in even simpler terms, while you remain near the vicinity of
the Demon Sword, Yusuke, Himura-san will remain in the physical realm. 
Understand?"

Yusuke rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "Yeah, whatever. Say,
has Kuwabara come back yet? I was so surprised when he suddenly came
from out of nowhere and took on Rando, but when I exited the cave, he
was nowhere to be found." 

Koenma sadly shook his head, and Yusuke's eyes flared. "Don't tell me
that Rando actually...!" The half-demon started to call Botan in order
to go back to the Shrine of the Sword (because he had no idea that
Kuwabara had actually opened another portal to God-knew-where and
threw himself and Rando into it), but Koenma suddenly berated him.

"Yusuke, you moron! Where do you think you're going? Your mission isn't
over yet! You can't leave Kenshin like this; you're the holder of the
Demon Sword right now, and your priority is to protect it from the
Chojin's clutches!"


***


This is the first time Kuwabara had ever used the Jigen Tou to open and
travel through portals. Kurama had offhandedly pointed out that fact to
him during their many meetings together, so he started covertly
practicing that very skill in between heavy sessions of college exam
studying.

Unfortunately, because of the Blood Wind's frightening aftereffects, he
currently could not summon the Jigen Tou, which left him in a very
disadvantageous, if not altogether dangerous, position.

Kuwabara unceremoniously fell on his posterior for the umpteenth time
against the myriad of afterimages of his opponent. "Damn you, you
motherfucking bastard!"

A shrill cackle answered the curly-haired teenager's despairing curses.
For an incredibly tough and powerful demon, Rando sure had an
irritatingly high-pitched voice.

"I won't forgive you for getting in the way of my revenge against the
half-demon." Rando brushed up his thick, red mane hanging over his
forehead, revealing a whitened face decorated with various blue tattoos.
"It's about time I got my due. Your death will serve as a fitting
warning to that arrogant son of a bitch, Urameshi Yusuke."

Kuwabara grunted as he climbed to his feet. It seemed odd that Rando had
grown so much stronger, particularly since he had spent quite sometime
behind whatever Koenma's version of prison was--or so he assumed,
anyway. He wiped his hand across his lip. Yes, he noticed, a little
blood was trickling down his quivering mouth. He wasn't worried at the
sight of the red liquid, really being more annoyed than anxious as he
glared at the demon.

"You got your due a long time ago, bastard," Kuwabara muttered. "What
makes you think you can beat me this time?" Instantly, a yellow rod of
gleaming energy formed in his right fist; even though he didn't have
enough energy to make a Jigen Tou, the Rei-Ken was still a viable option
for him to use. "I can control my powers ten times better than when we
last fought! Not only that, I defeated one of the Toguro Brothers!"

Rando chortled. "I've heard of your exploits in the Ankoku Bujutsukai. 
Impressive, I admit. However," he hissed the last word as he rose in the
air, above the thick trees that populated the forest outside of area
they were in, "you still cannot defeat me." 

A flash of glowing red light suddenly appeared and encased his somewhat
compact body. Before long, Rando was completely absorbed in an orb of
blood-red energy. "How many of my techniques did you see that day? Two?
Three? I've got ninety-six more to show you."

Kuwabara bared his teeth. "Bring it on, Rando!" He charged through some
shrubs, sword outstretched like a knight on horseback would carry a
lance. When he was within striking distance, he jettisoned the Spirit
Sword to twice its length. Alas, as it made contact with the fearsome
aura surrounding Rando, it instantly dissipated.

Kuwabara gasped. Rando laughed his annoying laugh again. "You're even
more pathetic than before!" he shrieked, diving down and planting a huge
kick on Kuwabara's face. That, combined with the searing pain of the red
energy the young man came into contact with, catapulted him fifteen feet 
backwards, stopped only by a huge boulder.

"Can't you realize," Rando began, patiently waiting for Kuwabara to
climb to his feet, "that Urameshi beat me only by stupid luck? It was a
fluke, plain and simple. But you won't be so lucky." He grinned. As he



spoke, the sphere of energy began shrinking dramatically. By the time
his opponent had regained a vertical base, the red light was the size of
a basketball, hovering above his head.

"I shouldn't be surprised that you've survived so far," Rando assessed.
"But still, you'll never survive another blast of my BLOOD FIRE WAVE!"
As he shouted the last three words, the ball of energy burst into a
thousand beams of destructive power, all aimed at Kuwabara. The salvo
lasted a few seconds, and when the smoke that formed had cleared, Rando
could make out the embers of a few fires that had consequently started.

The demon turned around, content with his revenge. "Pity. I expected
more of a fight."

"And you're getting one!" Kuwabara screamed from above. Rando turned
back around to see Kuwabara waiting atop the long branch of a tall tree
nearby, with a twenty-foot high Rei-Ken next to him. 

The boy had used his sword as a pole vault to avoid the attack. Before
Rando could respond with a dodge, Kuwabara had leapt from the tree and
dealt his own roundhouse kick to the demon's head, causing the latter
to fly backwards a few feet, stopping when he grabbed onto another tree
to lessen the damage of the crash.

Rando got up, breathing heavily. There was a huge gash on his cheek, and
blood was flowing freely. 'How could a human kick do this much damage to
me?' he thought incredulously. 'Either I truly have been weakened as a
result of my incarceration, or...' Rando eyed the human. 'My fight with
Urameshi has taken more of a toll on me than I anticipated. Dammit.'

Wiping his nose, Rando stood up. 'Very good, human; but now--' He moved
into his attack stance. "The real fight begins."

Kuwabara followed by bowing into his own fighting posture. "Bring it on,
Rando."


***


Yusuke halted his exit in mid-step. "I've been hearing that name a lot
lately. Will someone tell me who this Chojin fucker is? Is he anything
like Toguro or Sensui, or is he more like Sakyo from the Black Book
Club?" His eyes narrowed. "Perhaps his sudden appearance has something
to do with Enma Daio's impeachment, your rise to power, and your
decision to get rid of the barrier between the Demon World and Human
World?"

Koenma exhaled laboriously. "I'm rather surprised that you were able to
hit the nail right on the head on your first try, but you're correct.
The threat of the Chojin has been in the sidelines for so long... about
a good century or so... that we thought he'd never strike. But now that
there's been a shift of power here in the Spirit World that's caused a
lot of people to become restless and discontented, he's found the
perfect opportunity to finally make his presence known."

Kenshin watched mutely as Yusuke and Koenma had a silent, if brief,
stare-down with each other. "Any particular reason why you've mentioned
this supposed threat just now? I remember a certain 'Meikai' incident
that was only reported to us Spirit Detectives after the shit has
already hit the fan."

"Yusuke, the Spirit World has so many enemies lying in the shadows that
it'll be impractical for us to report them to you all at once. We can
only wait for each of them to strike at a given time before any of
them can be addressed. But since you're so concerned, aside from the
Chojin, there's a so-called Church of the True Disciples waiting on the
wings to get a crack at us. I'd ask you to investigate, but the
Overfiend takes precedence above all else right now."

Yusuke gulped as he wiped the big bead of sweat off his brow. "Okay, I
get your point. But still, what about Kuwabara? He said that you asked
him to come and help me out with my fight against Rando, but now that
he himself could be in grave danger, you won't let me help _him_ out?
That's fucked up, dude!"

Koenma, to Yusuke's surprise, held him by the shoulders (the toddler god
was standing on his desk at the time) and begged, "Please, you'll just
have to trust Kuwabara to beat Rando by himself, because you have a much
more important mission to do! To help Kuwabara at this point is to risk
getting the sword into the wrong hands, and as of this moment, you're
the only one I can trust to safeguard the sword! The Chojin's an evil
mastermind that has been covertly gathering forces from the already
deceased and turning them into his own Army of the Living Dead. He must
never, _ever_ get a hold of the Youtou Shinnoken."

Yusuke raised an eyebrow at Koenma's plea. "Sorry, but you kind of lost
me at the 'Army of the Living Dead' thing. What you're saying sounds like
the bullshit plot of a cheap B-Movie!" The boy wanted to retort some
more, but the (pardon the pun) grave look the Prince of the Dead sported 
silenced him immediately.

"I have my hands full right now, and Kurama and Hiei are doing their
very best to contain the current crisis on the Demon World's side. It
may all sound like a joke to you, but we here at the Spirit World take
the fact that the Chojin has usurped our jurisdiction over the dead very 
seriously."

Koenma let go of the teenager, hopped down his table, and started pacing
around the room. "Rando had already been executed by orders of my father
a long time ago. That demon is supposed to be dead, but the Chojin
somehow found a way to capture his evil spirit and include him in his
horde of zombies; resurrected abominations that aren't supposed to
exist. These deplorable sins against nature will seriously unhinge the
Natural Order, so the sooner we figure out how to use the Demon Sword
against the Chojin, the better our chances of restoring balance to the
three worlds."

Yusuke clenched his fists so tightly, his knuckles turned white. "So
you're serious about this? You want me to abandon my friend in his time
of need against a demon that nearly defeated me because you're afraid of
some guy's zombie army?"

"Please, for the Spirit World's sake, trust in Kuwabara's skills and
protect the Demon Sword. You may be the key in unlocking its true
abilities, the same way that you were the one who was able to unleash
the power of the Meikai Sphere and defeat the Nether World God, Yakumo.
I beg of you; stand firm, keep faith, and fulfill this mission. We don't
have much time left."

Frustrated, Yusuke scratched his head hard before relenting, "Fine,
fine; I'll just have to trust that Kuwabara will get through Rando now
that I've softened that demon up for him. Now, what do you want me to do
with the peacenik samurai and his sword?"

"Go with Botan and have Genkai take a look at that sword. Your master
was the one who helped me seal the sword's power about forty years ago,
so she'll know what's the best course of action in unleashing its
fearsome power yet again," Koenma commanded before jumping back to his
office chair, happy that the tense situation was finally settled.

"So everything is set? Good," Koenma declared, nodding to himself in a
self-congratulatory manner. "Yusuke, take care of the sword and bring it
to Genkai. I'm sure you and Himura-san will get along fine."

"Koenma-dono," Kenshin finally spoke after his lengthy period of
contemplative silence, which immediately got the attention of his two
compatriots. "I didn't realize that I was sealed up for forty years.
Does it have something to do with the stipulation that you made
forbidding me to kill demons and humans alike?"

Yusuke turned towards Koenma in askance. "What's he talking about,
Koenma?" To Kenshin, he queried, "Is that the reason why you stopped me
from killing Iehog? Because I was the holder of the sword, and I could
have indirectly been responsible for you breaking some sort of condition
I even didn't know about?" 

Koenma couldn't help but sigh yet again as Yusuke and Kenshin confronted
him for a second time. "Okay, fine. If it's going to help convince you
two to go through with my request, then I'll tell you the whole story
behind the Youtou Shinnoken. It started about a century or so ago, when
I was judging the ultimate fate of Himura Kenshin-san's recently
deceased soul..."


*** 


A memory from Kenshin's distant past...

Koenma Daio, the acting Overseer for the Spirit World, sat before
Kenshin with a solemn look on his infantile face. As the judge, jury,
and executioner of the fates of all souls, he had quite the intimidating
task on his shoulders. Case in point was this one special case he had
during the latter parts of the year 1878:

"Himura Kenshin. For all the murders, assassinations, and crimes against 
humanity that you've committed in your lifetime, I, Koenma Daio, shall
now sentence you to an eternity of suffering in Level 16, Block 1 of the 
Corporeal Punishments Sector: You and all the rest of the Sinners of
Violence shall be boiled in Phlegethon, the River of Blood found in the 
entranceway of the River Styx's Left Fork," the pint-sized prince
declared with hesitant finality after retrieving and meticulously
evaluating the former vagabond's file from the Book of Fate itself.

The recently departed Kenshin accepted the verdict in all humbleness,
his head bowed down low on the ground in complete submission; in his 
mind, it was fitting for a man who made it rain blood to be _boiled_ in
a river of blood as punishment for all his crimes. There was a twisted
but apt irony to the sentence, when one thought about it. 

Koenma cleared his throat, his eyes twinkling impishly for some reason. 
"HOWEVER, since you've done quite a lot to atone for many of your past
sins--your ten-year sabbatical where you vowed never to murder again
and the resulting good deeds you've done during and after that period,
in particular--I've decided to, well, _lighten_ your sentence a bit.
It's only fair." 

The toddler got up from his desk and started to deliberately stride
around the stooping, bemused Kenshin. "Your new sentence: an eternity
of community service by becoming the guardian of a newly-forged, demon-
slaying Reikai Artifact, the Youtou Shinnoken."

Kenshin's head shot up at the surprising turn of events. "Oro? A-Are you
sure about that, Lord Koenma? I mean, my non-killing vow doesn't really
change the fact that I've murdered countless of husbands, fathers, sons,
brothers, fiances--" The former hitokiri's voice faltered as he bit his
lip in remembrance of Akira Kiyosato, Tomoe Yukishiro, and Enishi
Yukishiro. 

Kenshin squeezed his eyes shut; for him to have died so early, when he
still had so much to atone for--Dammit. "I cannot accept such a fate--
not in good conscience, at the very least. Please, do reconsider...!"

The centuries-old child hushed Kenshin by simply taking hold of the
swordsman's hair and ruffling it gently. "You're a good man, Himura
Kenshin-san, and an even nobler spirit. I can't just mercilessly throw
you into Phlegethon, knowing all the good you've done for the sake of
your own salvation. I've made up my mind. Guardianship of the Demon
Sword is now your ultimate fate; the eternal symbol of your penitence."

Koenma nodded to himself, let go of Kenshin, and was about to make his
way back to his desk when he dramatically pivoted on his tiny little
boots, did a perfect one-eighty turn, and performed a cheesy yet
strangely impressive spit-take.

"NEVERTHELESS, since your soul is currently in between salvation and
damnation, tainting its future vessel--the Demon Sword--with sin and
murder, even that of demons, will condemn your spirit to the Lowest
Ranks of Hell far worse than Phlegethon or good ol' Fire and Brimstone."

The metaphorical youngster paused as he readjusted the pacifier in his
mouth. "And if that happens, the Hitokiri Battousai will probably take
over, and it's good-bye to the noble Himura Kenshin as he is replaced by
a madman who helps wreak havoc upon the world."


***


"I've heard rumors of Urameshi's other companions. The powerful Jaganshi
Hiei and his Kokuryuha technique; the cruel Youko Kurama and his demonic
plant manipulation; now those are worthy opponents to beat. But you,"
Rando sneered, "you're nothing. Less than nothing. Disappear from my
midst."

The red-haired youkai merely tuned out the oncoming exclamations from the
curly-haired boy afterwards. He flippantly looked at the wiped blood on
his thumb; blood from the wound he got from Kuwabara's kick. "Humph."

"Spirit Guillotine!" Rando suddenly roared. A flat energy disk ripped
in front of him, charging forward like a furious wave. After traveling
about twenty feet, it disappeared instantly and reappeared next to him.

Kuwabara clutched his leg and his shoulder to keep more of his blood
from spilling out. He was beginning to sense the onset of shock and
panic as has arm began to become limp and his leg numbed. He was afraid
that the muscles and tendons of his appendages might be permanently
damaged, all because of a fight with one youkai that just refused to
die.

"What's the matter, human?" Rando asked, smirking. "Why don't you block
my special attack with your negligibly useful Rei-Ken?" the demon
hooted. "My Spirit Guillotine attack was developed to counter even
Urameshi's Rei-Gan; a superior technique than yours! It can cut through
even reiki! How could you stand a chance against me now?"

"SHUT... THE FUCK... UP!!!" Kuwabara roared as he awkwardly sprinted and
limped towards Rando, summoning yet another Rei-Ken in hopes of getting
close enough for a strike.

"Spirit Guillotine," Rando simply announced, gently savoring the words.
He easily sliced through the Rei-Ken and most of the flesh of Kuwabara's 
forearm. Kuwabara howled in utter agony.

"Fool. You knew that it can even cut through reiki. You never stood a
chance." Rando leered, though he sweated profusely from all his efforts.
'Good. I have the human where I want him. My strength is near depleted.
Too bad he has no new attacks for me to steal, but just as well; he is,
after all, the weak link of the so-called Urameshi Team.'

"Damn... you... I... can... take you... on... just... you... wait...!"
Kuwbara growled as his blood was spilled mercilessly on the ground.
'Damn. I thought he'd still be just a lower class youkai. I never
realized that he'd improve so much! This technique is certainly a
thousand times less cowardly than the one he used against me once upon a
time, in Genkai's tournament.'

"Finally, I shall get my revenge," Rando affirmed proudly as he
summoned yet another Spirit Guillotine. "It's time for you to die,
human."

"You're deluded. For someone who's hell-bent on getting revenge on
Urameshi, you sure are taking your sweet time with killing me. From what
I can see, most of your attacks still mean less that nothing to me.
Hell, I was able to get a hit! You think you can actually survive
Urameshi, knowing that you can barely survive me?" Kuwabara reasoned,
finally regaining most of his composure back.

"Is that so?" Rando drawled through his grit teeth as he slashed
Kuwabara anew, mercilessly mutilating the hapless Spirit Detective--all
the same, the adolescent didn't even give him the benefit of a scream
of pain this time around.

"Actually, I see it all in a more different light," Rando sneered after
he was finished with his heartless acts, the smell of burnt flesh
emanating all around the area. "I'm just following the code and edicts
of the Art of War; attack the weak link of the enemy. You're the weakest
link, human."

Now it was Kuwabara's turn to fume. "You son of a bitch."

Rando smirked. 'No. I don't need to worry about the current condition of
my body. I can take on this human. I'll have enough strength to bring
him, the jaganshi, the youko, and the hanyou known as Urameshi Yusuke
down for the count. I can take them all on!' To Kuwabara, he forewarned,
"It's now time for my final strike," as he aimed his technique directly
towards the teenager's neck.


***


"Seriously? You made Kenshin promise never to kill any living thing
again by placing him in a sword designed to kill demons? WHAT THE FUCK
WERE YOU THINKING?" Yusuke demanded as he clutched Koenma's collar and
lifted the tyke up in midair. "And you can't honestly expect me to
believe that Kenshin was an expert assassin a century ago! I mean, just
look at him!"

Both Yusuke and Koenma turned to stare at Kenshin, with the swordsman
blinking innocently in kind. 

"SEE?" Yusuke seethed as he started to shake the toddler, but his basic
paternal instincts of not abusing weak children--even thousands-of-
years-old princes--kept him from shaking the Spirit World Son of God too

hard.

"But Yusuke, I had no choice but to do that to Himura-san! His kismet
was such that it had equal amounts of good and bad karma. On one hand,
he'd helped save hundreds of lives with his good deeds and ten-year-long
non-killing vow. On the other hand, he'd murdered just about an equal
amount of lives and ruined many others' in his three year career as an
Ishin Shishi Hitokiri.

"Placing him in the Demon Sword as penance is the best way to cleanse
his soul! Besides, he himself eventually agreed with my decision,
despite his earlier misgivings. Like you, I don't trust anyone else to
serve as guardian to the Youtou Shinnoken except Himura-san!"

Yusuke let go of Koenma and turned towards Kenshin. "Really? You agreed
to all this?"

Kenshin nodded serenely to Yusuke's insistent questions. "I did. Don't
ask me why; it's a long story, but suffice it to say that I was willing
to take the responsibility of making sure the Demon Sword is only used
for the benefit on mankind." 

From there, the redheaded spirit addressed Koenma, venturing, "I was
kind of wondering what was the reason for the sealing of my sword by 
this Genkai person, Koenma-dono. I remember the sword and myself being
used for a couple of missions here and there, but I never remembered a
'Genkai' in any of them. Did I somehow fail in my mission to keep the
sword pure and untainted?"

Koenma cleared his throat as both Yusuke and Kenshin warily watched his
curious reaction. "I'm afraid you'll have to ask Genkai-shihan about
it." He scuttled back to his seat. "Go ahead and call Botan now. You
need to get there as fast as you can."

Yusuke shook his head as he and Kenshin exchanged a knowing look; it
seemed like once again, Koenma was hiding something important from them,
and the only way for them to find out the truth was to experience its
consequences firsthand. "Fine. I'll call her. HEY BOTAN! C'mere."

Within an instant, Botan appeared on her oar, grinning from ear to ear.
"Yes, Yusuke? Did I miss anything important?"

"No, I just want you to take me back to the Human World. Keiko wants me
to see a movie with her, and I'm already late." Yusuke groaned.

"Movie?" Kenshin queried curiously. "I heard a couple of things about
these 'movies' in the Spirit World, here and there, but I've never
actually saw one. What exactly are they, pardon my asking?"

Yusuke, not in the mood for a lesson in modern technology, just
shrugged. "Think of a play, but not live and recorded on film so that
you can watch it over and over again."

Kenshin was still confused, but nodded dumbly.

Yusuke rolled his eyes. "Figures. Botan, just take me home." He was met
with a whack to his head from Botan's oar. He glared at her angrily.
"Hey! What was that for?"

"You could be a little more polite when people ask you things like
that!" the ferry-girl lectured, fuming. "Kenshin! What's the matter?
Who hit you?"

"You did, ma'am!" the swirly-eyed swordsman declared as he gingerly
touched the lump on his head.

Yusuke moaned in pain. "I really wish the Demon Sword didn't affect us
this way; this "shared pain" shit is getting old. I've had enough of
that crap from Puu, pardon the pun."

"W-Wait a minute? A date?" Koenma sputtered, shocked by the sudden turn
of events. "But Yusuke, the sword...!"

"Relax, Koenma. When it comes to visiting granny's temple, the more,
the merrier! Besides, what's the worse that could happen? It's not like
anybody's going to die or anything; we're just going there to find out
more about the Demon Sword," Yusuke reassured, but Koenma's next few
words made him rethink his statement.

"Yusuke, Genkai's about to die; for real, this time. You have to get to
her before she finally rests in peace."


***


"It's now time for my final strike," Rando suddenly declared as he let
the Spirit Guillotine fall towards his opponent's direction.

As the long, thin ki-blade neared Kuwabara's neck, the orange-haired
boy's life passed before his eyes, freezing in one particular moment in
time; one memory that was forever etched in his mind.

A vision of Yusuke soon appeared in Kuwabara's mind's eye.

'Am I really the weak link?'

It was a familiar apparition from a familiar memory.

'Am I really just in everybody's way?'

It was the memory of Yusuke walking away from him after one of their
fights that Kuwabara usually lost.

'Answer me, Urameshi!'

"You moron. Didn't you know that I've never held back on you in any of
our fights? That's the only reason you lost," Yusuke seemed to say
inside Kuwabara's head.

That was the very thing Kuwabara wanted to know as he held up one hand
and shouted words of thunder.

"JIGEN TOU!"


***


After a few minutes of teleportation and flying around, the trio of
Yusuke, Botan, and Kenshin arrived in a small, grassy field about two
miles outside of Tokyo; Botan knew that Kenshin was still very new to
this modern world, and wanted him to soak up as much as he could before
being blown away by what Tokyo had become. 

Kenshin, as Koenma had requested before they left, tried to remain
within ten feet of Yusuke at all times, just to make sure that his form
remained corporeal for the time being.

"Here we are! Back on Earth!" Botan giggled, making her oar disappear in
a flash. Kenshin beamed and took a deep breath, inhaling all the air.
"Oh, this is truly wonderful, Botan-dono." He took a few steps forward
and began examining the insect life on the ground, watching in apparent
fascination as an army of red ants munched on a decaying bird.

Yusuke rolled his eyes. "You're getting a lot out of stuff like this,
aren't you?" he asked, only the smallest bit curious. He was anxious to
get the whole Demon Sword situation over with as soon as possible so he
could finally tend to his food stand.

Kenshin stood up and nodded. "My apologies for keeping you waiting; we
can go now." He noticed something in the sky and looked at it,
mystified. It looked something like a bird, but it was moving incredibly
fast and making a lot of noise. Botan tried explaining what it was, but
she had to wait before it passed over them completely to avoid the huge
amount of noise it created.

When the plane passed, Kenshin looked at his two new companions. "What
was that flying metal bird, pardon my asking? More technology from this century?"

Botan nodded, grinning ear to ear. "That's called an airplane, and it's
the way most humans travel when going long distances. They're able to
fly those all over the world now, and much quicker than a ship or train.
I was on one once, just to see what it would be like." She tittered
again. "It was fun."

Kenshin nodded. "What do they run on? It can't be coal like trains do."

"Jet engines," Yusuke divulged a bit impatiently.

The answer prompted a confused look from Kenshin. "...Jet engine? My
pardons, but I don't know of what you speak of."

Yusuke looked down in despair. "It's another kind of... Look, it'll take
a century just to tell you about the stuff from this century, so let's
leave it for later, okay?" Just as before, Yusuke wasn't particularly
interested in lectures on everyday things like microwaves and washing
machines.

Kenshin nodded politely. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be so pushy in
regard to these new inventions. I was curious, is all. Anyway, let's
go."

The three departed for a rarely used backstreet that would lead to
Tokyo, as Botan had explained. The ferry-girl and Yusuke walked in
front, while Kenshin stayed behind to continue observing everything.

"You know, Yusuke," Botan mumbled quietly as Kenshin enjoyed gazing at a
bird fluttering from tree to tree, "it really wouldn't take too much out
of you to treat Kenshin a little nicer. Don't you think that if you got 
transported to the future, you'd want to know about what's happened
since then?"

Yusuke sighed. "Maybe, but there are thousands of things that are around
that weren't when that guy was alive, and I just don't want to become
his History teacher."

"You don't have to, but when we get to Tokyo, you know he'll have a lot
of questions for you, so just humor him and knock it off...!" Botan
stopped when she saw Kenshin glancing at the two of them curiously.
Sheepishly, the ferry-girl hoped that Kenshin hadn't heard what they
were saying.

"Ah! Here we are!" Botan exclaimed, catching both of her companions'
attentions.

"What is it, Botan?" Yusuke asked.

Botan walked away from the road, which led further down the small hill
they were on. From there, she headed to a nearby cliff that was used as
a parking lot for cars passing through. She waved for the two men to
join her. As they did, she sighed. "It's a nice view, isn't it? You can
see a good panorama of the city from here."

Kenshin, able to see for several miles in front of him, was speechless.
As he gazed at the incredible sight in front of him, his mouth dropped,
as if what he saw totally stupefied him. "This... This is..." was all he
could muster. Botan, knowing that that would be his reaction, chuckled.

"Surprised, huh?" she inquired, taking his hand. "It's changed since you
were last here, if you couldn't tell. Kenshin, welcome back to Tokyo."

Kenshin looked dumbstruck for a bit as he looked at Botan's hand, his
mouth forming a little 'o' of shock. He smiled a bit, as if somehow this
was what was supposed to happen in his life--his past life--the sort of
thing that _should_ have happened after he fought Shishio.

Regrets; so many 'if onlys.' But they had no place in his so-called life
now. Yet, it could have happened this way, if only he could have
survived Shishio, then perhaps...


***


They went as one toward the dojo. Kenshin remembered each and everyone
of them well; his friends, his family. Sanosuke was there with his manly
swagger and uncouth demeanor; then there was Yahiko, who was currently
trying to put up a posture that was worthy of a Tokyo Samurai descendant;
then there was Kaoru, who was looking wistfully at the horizon.

Or perhaps she was actually gazing at the nearby grove; a grove
populated seasonally with hundreds of fireflies, the grove where he and
she...

Kenshin sighed, a mixture of guilt and nostalgia in him.

Afterwards, Kaoru looked towards him and smiled a heartbreaking smile.
She tilted her head to the side and offered her hand, saying, "Welcome
back, Kenshin."

Kenshin flashed an equally poignant smile, took hold of Kaoru's hand,
and replied, "I'm home."

Perhaps it could have happened that way, couldn't it?


***


Yusuke could only stare at Kenshin and Botan in dumbstruck silence as
they held each other's hands, seemingly frozen in time. The raven-
haired boy then shook his head and quipped, "Hey, are you two
finished?"

Botan quickly let go of Kenshin's hand, unconsciously pushing the
redhead off of her in embarrassment.

"ORO!?"

...Not realizing that she had just shoved the spirit to a nearby tree.
A low thud was heard as head connected to bark.

"Oh my! Kenshin! Are you all right? I'm so sorry!" Botan worriedly
inquired to the swirly-eyed former wanderer.

Yusuke sighed sullenly as he rubbed his bleeding nose and throbbing
head, cursing the Demon Sword's ability to make him emphatic of
Kenshin's pain. Of course, he also perceived Kenshin's tear-jerking
flashback of regret, but he gave those mental images no heed.


***


Rando barely had time to avoid the Jigen Tou's trajectory as it cut
through his precious Spirit Guillotine like it was made out of paper.
"WHAT THE HELL? You were supposed to be sapped of spiritual power!"

"Get with the program," Kuwabara rasped as he struggled to get up. "I'm
willing to risk my life and use my _life force_ to kill you, because
that's the way a real man fights!"

"Ridiculous! You merely swung that sword at thin air, and yet it was
still able to destroy my Spirit Guillotine and split the ground at the
same time? What sorcery is this?"

Kuwabara snorted derisively, though at this point he could barely stand
up as it was. "Figure it out for yourself, dumbass. The name says it
all."

'I know what it is, human; it's a sword that can cut through spaces and
dimensions as well as slice through faraway objects. In fact, it's what
you used to make that portal earlier.' Rando narrowed his eyes. 'What I
don't get is how a mere human could develop such a high-level attack.
Perhaps he's not the small fry I thought he was after all.'

"Give up and go back to hell," Kuwabara deadpanned as he pointed the
Jigen Tou at Rando's face. "You look smart enough to figure out the
secret of this sword, so know you now that at this point you couldn't
even defeat the 'weakest link' of Urameshi team, which only means that
you're even weaker than the weakest link. It's over."

The red-haired, pasty-skinned youkai looked nonplussed for a bit before
he chuckled darkly. "No. Not yet. Not until I've tried it for myself."

"What do you...?" Kuwabara blubbered.

"JIGEN TOU!" Rando yelled as he formed his own version of Kuwabara's
attack, swinging it directly at the trajectory of the Reikai Tantei's
own reflexive strike.


***


"You're late!" Keiko berated, tapping her foot impatiently while her
arms were crossed. Her dress billowed in the wind dramatically.

"Yeah, well, Koenma had me do some more of his stupid missions. Jeez,
you think he could have just let go of me after the Makai Unification
Tournament, but no..." Yusuke's face brightened. "Oh yeah! Then we don't
have to watch that stupid romantic movie? All right!"

The crackle of a painful slap was heard a block away.

Tears streamed down Kenshin's eyes as the glow of Keiko's slap somehow
made his cross-shaped scar become redder than before.

"You won't skip out on me this time, Yusuke!" Keiko pledged
determinedly, flinging a wicker basket in front of Yusuke's hand-
imprinted face.

"Eh? What's this for?" Yusuke queried, blinking confusedly.

"See? I planned ahead. We're going on a picnic," Keiko cheered, her
demeanor immediately changing.

Yusuke simply groaned at his overly-sappy girlfriend. 'Oh man.' He
noticed the inquiring look on his girlfriend's face. "What is it,
Keiko?"

"Who's your red-haired friend, Yusuke? Is he one of your acquaintances
from one of those tournaments of yours?" Keiko queried curiously, her
head tilted inquisitively at the apparent stranger.

'Oh boy. How am I going to explain this one?' Yusuke thought as he
observed the unsaid awkwardness between Kenshin and Botan, both looking
at the opposite direction of each other in apparent unease.

Seeing the puzzled look on Keiko's face, Yusuke chose that particular
moment to fill in his significant other on some of the details of his
latest mission.

"Long story. He, Himura Kenshin, is a guardian of some powerful Reikai
artifact and shit, if you could believe that. Koenma sent me to act as
babysitter to him and his lame-ass sword for a while, and..." Yusuke
stopped in mid-sentence as he saw the shadow of a glare on Keiko's
usually soft features. 'Uh-oh. I don't know what's going on, but I don't
like that glare.'

'Oh boy, I knew it. Keiko's giving Yusuke her _three or more is a
crowd_ glare, and the clueless, moronic and insensitive oaf might just
blow it by making yet another one of his _witty_ comments,' Botan
reckoned as she worriedly looked at Yusuke's slowly opening mouth. 'Uh-
oh! It's almost _foot in his mouth_ time for Yusuke! I better act fast!'

Not really thinking about what she was doing, Botan suddenly grabbed
Kenshin by the arm and blurted out, "It's okay, Keiko-chan! He's with
me! Kenshin and I are going on a double date with you!"

Stray leaves floated past the two hushed 'couples.'

"Er, my pardons; Keiko-dono, correct? It's a pleasure to meet you, that
it is," Kenshin immediately interposed as he did his best to allay
Botan's sudden accidental outburst.

"Y-Yes. It's a pleasure to meet you too, um, Himura-san," Keiko
stuttered uncertainly, her eyes darting back and forth at the strange
red-haired person and Botan. 'Eh? Double date?'

"My pardons, Keiko-dono; you need not be so formal. I would be perfectly
happy to simply be referred to as Kenshin," Kenshin assured.

Keiko's eyes lighted up as her cheeks became pink after experiencing
Kenshin's politeness, which elicited an unconscious frown on Yusuke's
mouth.

"Sometimes I wish you could be as polite as Botan's date is," Keiko
berated Yusuke jokingly, a subtle blush on her cheeks as he merely
rolled his eyes; although he did have enough decency to discreetly
squeeze her hand in acknowledgement to her request.

Speaking of couples holding hands, Botan was quite painfully aware of
_that_ and the fact that Keiko called Kenshin her date. Beet-red, she
whispered to Kenshin, "This is all for Keiko-chan and Yusuke's sake;
don't get any funny ideas, samurai."

Kenshin merely gave the blue-haired girl a uplifting beam. "Yes, ma'am.
Of course not," earning him a discreet yet brief small smile from his
receptive audience.

For an instant, a flash of Kaoru's face was superimposed on Botan's face
in Kenshin's mind.

Kenshin shook his head from his brief reverie. 'Silly thoughts; things
to be done, things already done. I cannot go back to my past anymore.
What's done is done, after all. But...' He unconsciously clutched
Botan's hand as the two followed Yusuke and Keiko's lead toward the
park. 'Let me enjoy this _what if_ even for a little while longer.'

Due to the present circumstances, the foursome didn't at all notice the
crimson eyes that espied them the entire time, its orbs filled with
malicious intent.


***


Many, many miles away, inside yet another cave...

"Boss Iehik! We found the sword again! It's in the hands of that pesky
human from before," a blue-eyed, blond-haired, fair-skinned demon
reported.

"Very good, Bi. Your ability to blend into the Human World is
commendable. Now off with you; my brother and I have important things
to discuss," Iehik ordered, waving off his spy offhandedly. To Iehog, he
inquired, "I really don't see how human's could consider the likes of
Bi as 'attractive.' Blech. Did you see that pale, soft skin?
Disgusting."

"Whatever, big brother. What about the sword? That really powerful half-
demon still has it! What are we going to do?" Iehog demanded, slamming
his fist on a nearby boulder, breaking it into many, many pieces.

"Patience, little one. Patience," Iehik cooed, grinning. "We'll get our
due. Besides, like I've always said..."

Iehog rolled his eyes. "Yes, yes. You have a plan. But you sure are
taking your sweet time in executing this supposed plan of yours," he
bitterly retorted.

Iehik cackled maniacally. "It's all right, little brother. One of our
employers is currently gathering information for us already. All we have
to do is wait for him and his further instructions and we'll be ready."

Iehog seemed to consider this. "I've got to admit, if we have backup,
then yeah, you do think of everything, big brother."

Iehik harrumphed. "Of course I would."


***


Kuwabara looked numbly at his Jigen Tou as its broken pieces dissipated
into thin air. 'My strongest attack was defeated by that asshole's
copycat technique!? Dammit!' His wounds flared in pain yet again as he
cautiously eyed the thicker-looking Jigen Tou Rando was currently
sporting, with only one word on his lips. "How?"

Rando smirked. "You look like a smart lad. Figure it out for yourself."

Kuwabara's head raced with many wild conclusions, but the most apparent
one was Rando's basic copycat techniques. "Jackass. That Spirit
Guillotine of yours is a combination of all the ki-blade techniques
you've seen, including my Rei-Ken. Now you've stolen my Jigen Tou
technique and fused it with your lame-ass one!"

"Correct," Rando proclaimed proudly. "My Jigen Tou is superior to yours
because it can also cut through reiki, which is what your Dimension
Sword is made of." He chuckled maliciously. "This fight is definitely
over now."

"Fucking asshole! You can't even create your own lines! You're a copycat
through and through!" Kuwabara sneered, even though his heavily-damaged
body was now shaking like a leaf.

"Yeah? Well this copycat is about to send your ass back to your
employer, Koenma. Good-bye!"

Rando stopped at mid-strike once he realized something was wrong--very
wrong. "Shit."

His body was suddenly cut in half, blood spurting everywhere.

'The Jigen Tou of the human has already cut me in half all along and I
didn't even realize it!'

Kuwabara, in a sudden burst of desperation upon seeing that small
window of opportunity, charged toward the nearly mutilated Rando, his
fists flailing wildly. "Your time has run out, you low-class demon!"

Rando felt his youki reserves drop dramatically upon receiving the
pummeling blows of his opponent. He had no choice this time; though
using it again would result in a great sacrifice to his constitution,
he had to do that final attack of his.

Tapping upon the energy stored within his tainted blood, he chanted, 
"BLOOD WIND!"


***


To be Continued...

Next: The Immortal Wolf.

Disclaimer: Yuyu Hakusho is the rightful property of Yoshihiro
Togashi, Shueisha, Fuji TV and St. Pierrot. Rurouni Kenshin is the
rightful property of Nobuhiro Watsuki and Sony. Don't sue me please,
I'm very poor.

Ja ne!
Abdiel


      Get your new Email address!
Grab the Email name you've always wanted before someone else does!
http://mail.promotions.yahoo.com/newdomains/aa/


More information about the ffml mailing list