Jewels of Our Hearts
The seed landed in his stomach. Hiei studied him carefully, shoulders tense, jaw clenched. He met his friend's gaze. Hiei nodded slightly. Expression serious, he nodded as well, then focused his power and activated the seed.
The world dimmed around Kurama. He was suddenly consumed with intense emotions, the predominant being terror. His heart raced, and pain lanced through him. With a wince, he fell to one knee, breathing heavily, and from the corner of his eye saw Hiei take on a similar stance. Distantly he noticed a glowing purple under the hybrid's white bandana. It seemed Hiei had decided to take this journey with him fully, for better or worse. The blood from the seed coursed through him, tingling against his veins with sensations he didn't understand. It didn't hurt, but it felt alien all the same. Curious even. Nonetheless it tried to consume him, flooding him further with images she saw, spiking him with a fever she suffered. He fought for control. If he wasn't careful, he would lose himself completely to her influence. 'Why is there so much blood?' Another spike of terror flooded them both, and he almost lost himself to it. Somewhere in the distance of his mind Yoko was shouting at him. Oddly the spell made his connection to the Yoko very weak, and soon he could not hear Yoko at all.
"Just what the hell have you done Fox!?"
For a moment, Hiei's frustrated accusation had him wondering the same. Kagome's desperation and fear battled for dominance, but as more time passed the pressure faded. Finally he was able to re-establish himself, to separate what was him and what was her. He breathed a sigh of relief. The worst had passed. Kagome's blood had chosen not to harm him, for whatever reason. Now he could use it to find her. If he was quick enough. 'Are you there Yoko?'
'…Yes. I am now. Are you ok?'
'I think so?'
'How did that happen?'
'I'm not too sure.'
Hiei let out a strained gasp. Sweat beaded his brow, and his breathing was slightly laboured. The little fire demon stood, legs shaky, but otherwise showed no outward sign of what he had just experienced. Kagome's presence lingered, but now at a manageable distance. They could feel her terror, her pain, her sadness, but it was all muted. Crimson eyes bore up at him. "Lead the way."
He nodded, closed his eyes, and focused on the temporary spiritual blood bond that connected him and Kagome together. He felt a pulse pull at his awareness. He concentrated, homing in, and followed the trail as quickly as possible. The blood inside him was burning, disappearing faster than he expected. 'Almost…just a bit more.' In his mind's eye he was flying past buildings, over cars, through people, towards a forest, twisting in random directions at an alarming speed. His brows furrowed together, this path was starting to look familiar. The connection dragged him deeper, past a field, into more forest, before it took a turn and he ended up at the bottom of some very familiar steps. He was about to be lead up it when his mind went blank. Darkness. He blinked his eyes open. The connection had already burned itself out.
Hiei stared at him in shock. "That couldn't be…?"
"I-I think it was?"
They both turned in the direction of Genkai's shrine.
Shippo eyed the old woman with clear distrust.
Genkai ignored him, and continued on with whatever she was doing.
Kagome lay before them in a guest bed, sweat pouring off her skin, thrashing against the covers as whatever nightmare she had consumed her. Distressed noises fell from her lips, and her laboured breathing grated against his sensitive ears. He kept from looking at her, the suffering almost too much for him to bare. The jewel sat exposed, resting just above her chest. It continued to glow deceitfully innocent, calm and controlled while its guardian was anything but. He felt himself tense when Genkai reached for it. Her hand paused, pink eyes turning to stare into his. She raised an eyebrow. "Do you trust me?"
How to answer that?
She scowled, "Well, you don't really have a choice if you want your idiot friend to live now do you?"
He crossed his arms, but said nothing to contradict her statement.
She watched him a moment more, pink eyes calculating. He wasn't too sure what she was waiting for. Her hand then closed around the jewel, and he saw her face tighten with strain as her eyes focused back to her task. A sudden angry electric pink crackled around her fist, and he couldn't tell if that was from Kagome or the jewel. Genkai growled, an annoyed expression crossing her features. "You truly are a stupid girl." He couldn't help but feel slightly amused. 'Definitely from Kagome then.'
A blue light suddenly erupted from her hands, battling against the pink energy that was trying to harm her, but of course could not. She was human after all. He felt himself grow suspicious; just what was the old hag trying to do?
The blue light intensified and grew. In response the pink energy flared to match. He had to step away, senses throwing alarm signals at him as the two lethal energies battled each other. Genkai's expression was focused, determined even. Kagome's condition seemed to grow worse as more time passed. He felt his anxiety spike and had to forcibly restrain himself from pulling Genkai away. Despite his earlier unease he did reluctantly trust the old wretch to do what was needed. If Genkai said she could help Kagome, then she would. He had to believe in that.
"I would leave the room very quickly if I were you."
Though her voice was calm, there was a sense of urgency to it. He could understand, the energies swirling in the room were already pressing savagely against him, causing his youkai to flare defensively. Even his tail was bristled in aggravation. Every instinct screamed for him to flee. If this were any other situation, he would. 'But…' His eyes landed on Kagome's thrashing, vulnerable form. It wasn't any other situation, and he found it difficult.
Biting his lip, he tore his gaze away and forced himself to leap through the nearby open window. 'I'm useless to her dead.' He landed in a bush, a single leaf falling atop his head just as blue and pink burst in a giant wave out the window above him. His hair stood on end, a shiver passing down his spine. That had been close. Cautiously he peeked over the window's ledge, studying a panting Genkai and a disconcertingly still Kagome. "What the hell old hag?!"
She shot him a look. "Quiet idiot. She's fine." Her hand rose and in it sat the jewel. It seemed dimmer in her grasp, the pure pink glow no longer present. It wasn't corrupted, but it wasn't completely safe either. He felt a whisper in his mind, a pulling urge of promised power. He shot Genkai an alarmed look which she shrugged off.
"I destroyed her spiritual link to the jewel. She had poured some of her soul into this little gem to keep it hidden. Normally it wouldn't be a problem, but with her energy the way it was…she was being influenced, staying as unstable as the thing she protected." Genkai studied the Shikon curiously. "Extraordinary, this tiny thing. To think this slip of a girl is strong enough to withstand its evil lure?" Her eyes were unfocused, and Shippo felt himself growing tense.
Genkai suddenly blinked. She shook her head, and reached for a nearby small treasure chest. Opening the lid she gently placed the Shikon inside, and then she forcibly closed it. A wave of magic passed through his senses, and the calling of the Shikon disappeared from his mind. She turned and gave him a Cheshire cat grin. "Don't worry your pretty little head. I have no use for such a trinket, nor the trouble it likes to bring. This box will keep it safe, long enough for the girl to pull herself together anyway."
He relaxed, then turned his focus to Kagome and felt relieved. Already colour was returning to her features. Her breathing had eased, and her brows were no longer creased from whatever nightmare plagued her. She still seemed to be fighting some pain, but her state was nowhere near as dire as before. "Thank-you."
Genkai huffed. "Nothing but trouble every time I see you. Make yourself useful and go find Yukina. She's out in the woods somewhere collecting herbs. When you find her, tell her I need her back. We have work to do."
He felt a growl flare across his lips. "I'm not leaving. Not when she's like this."
His arms crossed in firm resolution. "Really."
She shrugged. "You're right, who cares if your friend is still in agony from numerous lacerations? It's much more important for you to sit here and watch her suffer instead of getting someone who can actually help her." She turned to him and smirked. "But what do I know?"
He felt his eye twitching in annoyance. "Fine! Fine! I'll go get her already." Pursing his lips angrily he muttered. "Damn old bitch."
"What was that?"
"Which direction did she head?"
Staring at him dangerously she pointed. "That way."
He turned from the window to leave, but paused after two steps. "If anything happens to her while I'm gone…"
"You'll do what exactly, Shifter?" Genkai smiled impishly.
Deep green eyes turned to study her, deadly serious. "I'll kill you."
Her smile never fell as she nodded her understanding, "You can try." Satisfied he hurried off into the forest to find Yukina.
Yusuke felt his hair rise the moment he landed in Spirit World. A heavy demonic presence hung in the air, and it was doing nothing to hide itself. He rubbed his arms nervously, already feeling in his gut that he was right to worry about that stupid Toddler.
Kuwabara stood just in front of him, finally silent in wake of the energy that wrapped around them. The carrot-top gave a small shiver. "Feel that Urameshi?"
He stepped forward and nodded. "Yeah, hard to miss." Brown eyes scanned the area warily. "Seems like it's coming from Koenma's office."
"I…I've never felt anything like it. Who do you think it is?"
He flashed a smile, trying to ease his companion's anxiety. "Only one way to find out right?" He pushed passed Kuwabara and headed for Koenma's giant doors with a confidence he didn't really feel. It worked well enough because he heard Kuwabara grunt in agreement before hastily following, shoulders lowering to a more relaxed posture. Looking back at his friend one more time he placed a hand on the door, nodded, then pulled it open.
Koenma's annoyed scowl, in his teenager form, greeted him. "Well it's about time."
He felt his lips lift to his customary smirk. "Can't rush greatness. Now what's so ur-"His words died has his gaze flew to the individual who was off to the side leaning against a wall, posture regal, eyes closed, and the source of the giant energy that was smothering Spirit World. Long silver hair seemed to glow even in the dim lighting, magenta stripes tattooed his arms and face while pointed ears adorned the sides of his head. He glanced back at Koenma in question, body tense and ready to fight if necessary.
Kuwabara stood beside him, a scowl on his face as he studied the regal demon warily. His footing moved casually into a stance more accessible to quick movement. A sign that he was ready to back Yusuke if things got heated.
Koenma stood, trying to peer past them, face growing more frantic as he didn't find what he was looking for. "Where are the others?"
Yusuke blinked in surprise. "Why?"
"Don't ask questions just answer! Where is Hiei and Kurama?"
"We split up." Kuwabara answered, looking uneasy.
Gold eyes snapped open, and Yusuke had to restrain himself from falling into a battle stance. The strange demon did nothing more, so he forced himself to relax.
Koenma had noticed too, and his anxiety grew. He looked back to Yusuke desperately, "What do you mean 'split up'? Why?"
"Well we had a solid lead on this girl and had to act fast. I'm sure she has something to do with…that thing you wanted us to look into. So we came here and they went after her." Yusuke cracked his knuckles and popped his neck. "Is there a problem with that?"
Koenma exploded. "YES THERE IS! What part of 'abort mission' did you not understand?!"
He felt his face heat up. "What part of 'no fucking way' did you not understand? I'm not just dropping this! Not with the safety of the Human World at stake!"
"Since when did you take your duty seriously!?"
"Since always you stupid fucking annoying Toddler!"
"DON'T CALL ME TODDLER!"
A low growl silenced everyone in the room. "Enough of this petty squabble. You have a problem to fix Lord Koenma, and it will be fixed." Gold eyes narrowed. "Or should I seek the assistance of your Father? Perhaps he won't be such a disappointment."
Koenma paled. "O-Of course not Lord Sesshomaru! I assure you that you can count on my team and me to uphold any wish you desire!" He shot Yusuke a seething glare. Yusuke crossed his arms and looked away angrily.
The demon dipped his head, then gracefully stood. "I expect nothing less. Do not make me return, Lord Koenma." He paused to study the two detectives, eyes cold as steel, before exiting the room.
When the door closed Koenma let out a ragged breath and popped back into his toddler form. He then rounded on Yusuke, "Are you trying to get everyone killed!?"
Yusuke instantly felt defensive. "Are you trying to piss me off? What the hell is going on here?"
"Just who was that demon?" Kuwabara was still staring at the closed door.
"Oh no one too important…just The Ruler of the demon realm! And you made him angry!"
"What do you mean Ruler? Like my old man? I thought there was only three?"
Koenma shook his head. "No, I mean The Ruler, the one top guy above all other top guys. You have your three demon kings and then you have The Demon King. That is Lord Sesshomaru."
Yusuke scratched his head. "Just how old is that guy?"
Kuwabara looked at him. "What do you mean?"
"Well my old man was pushing his thousands when I met him. If this guy is stronger than him he must be ancient. Demon power only increases with age right? At least in the noble bloodlines I heard that's the case."
Koenma nodded. "That is true. Lord Sesshomaru is much older than Raizen, by a few thousand years at least. They both lived during the time before the barrier, but Lord Sesshomaru was much older even then and had already established himself as a ruthless leader among the Western lands."
"Why would someone like him care about our case?"
Koenma laughed humorously. "That is the question of the day."
"You don't know?" Kuwabara asked, surprised.
Koenma shook his head. "No, and it's not my place to pry either. That demon…he is not a force to be trifled with. Lucky for us he cares about humans at least a little or this world could be a very different place."
"Keh. The barrier would keep him in Demon World anyway."
"He has ways, and spies. In his employ is the one known only as 'Shifter'. For some reason this demon can shift across the border between the demon and human world without restriction, despite being an S Class demon."
Yusuke felt very disturbed by that piece of news. S Class demons were nothing to sneeze at. One quick glance at Kuwabara told him that his friend felt the same. "Why haven't you guys caught this demon?"
"No one knows the demon's true face. Rumor says the demon can change it at will. Those two qualities apparently is how they earned their nickname."
Kuwabara frowned at that. He didn't like imagining that someone could steal his face.
Koenma sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "You must stop Hiei and Kurama from continuing the mission. That girl is involved in something much larger than the four of you. Your lives aren't worth the risk, even if it means we never discover the jewel."
Kuwabara growled. "What about the demons who keep slipping into Human World because they want that stupid jewel?"
Koenma shook his head. "Apparently, that won't be an issue for long. Lord Sesshomaru has assured me he will take care of it. I trust that he will do as promised. As far as I'm concerned, this case is closed."
"Well I'm not satisfied with that! This is bullshit Koenma! Are you really gonna let some bigshot demon tell you how to manage Human World?" Yusuke slammed his hands on Koenma's desk, "When are you going to be honest and tell us the whole story?"
Koenma stiffened. "What do you mean?"
"Yeah, what do you mean Urameshi?"
Brown eyes bore into brown. Neither relented. Yusuke growled. "I know about the barrier."
Koenma gulped. "W-What about it?"
Yusuke threw some papers to the floor in frustration. "Damn it toddler! Do you think I'm that stupid not to wonder how so many low class demons were suddenly able to slip through?"
Kuwabara eyed the Spirit Ruler warily. "What's he saying?"
Koenma studied Yusuke, before he looked away with a sigh. "Fine. You're right I wasn't being completely honest." He picked a controller up and turned on the giant screen behind his desk. On it the gold line of the barrier glowed, still littered with numerous red dots at every turn. "It's what you suspect, the barrier is growing unstable."
"U-Unstable? What's that mean?"
Koenma stared at the screen. "It means it's failing, Kuwabara. The barrier is breaking down and we can only suspect it's because the jewel has resurface and is disrupting the power somehow."
Yusuke shot him a look. "You don't know for sure?"
"No, we weren't involved in its creation so we can only speculate at best. There has never been any history of the barrier weakening. We always assumed it would just stay that way forever. We were wrong, it seems. The only change I can think of is that the Shikon must be present now."
"That's the real reason you wanted us to find the jewel so badly, right?"
Koenma nodded. "I'm not sure how much time we have left, but Lord Sesshomaru disagrees with my assessment and has now blocked any involvement I had in the matter." He eyed the two detectives. "That includes Hiei and Kurama. You must stop them if you want them to live. They will be killed over this."
"There has to be something we can do! You can't actually expect us to sit here and hope this random demon is able to save the barrier somehow?!" Yusuke threw his hands up and turned away. "This whole situation is just fucked up!"
Kuwabara looked horrified at the thought. "I'm not leaving the fate of the Human World in the hands of a demon!"
"You don't have a choice! None of us do. This isn't a request it's an order. Bring back Hiei and Kurama. I want all of you off this case immediately!"
Yusuke kicked open the door. "I'm leaving, but it aint to bring them back." He looked over his shoulder at Koenma. "We're the protectors of Human World, and we're gonna protect it." Then he walked out the door.
Kuwabara stared at the stunned Spirit Ruler. "You can count on us!" He grinned, and then followed Yusuke out.
The door clicked shut behind them.
Koenma stood on his chair, staring at his empty office. His eye twitched. Lord Sesshomaru was going to kill them all.
Aaaand that's a wrap! Phew. I know it took me a super long time to update! I'm sorry :( This chapter was a bit difficult to get through, then I got sick for a while and that stole all my creative motivation. Excuses excuses I know. I hope it was worth waiting for?
Review responses: thanks for all your lovely reviews! You may have noticed I up-dated this before replying to all of them (which I normally never do). Since this chapter was so late I just wanted to get it out to you as soon as possible (because I' going to bed right after I post it). So instead of making you wait until tomorrow to read it, I thought I'd post it tonight and then I fully intent on replying to all of your reviews on chapter 5 tomorrow evening when I get back home from work. For everyone who reviews on this current chapter, I will reply to those reviews before I post up Chapter 7 (hopefully not quite as far down the road this time). For the people who did not log in, I will respond now because I can't PM you later:
Diane: Blast I always seem to screw up! I need to find me a good beta reader T.T I hope this chapter had less errors? I fully intent on going through my last chapter and correcting what I can find. Thank you always for your constructive reviews and I hope you keep enjoying my work!
bubr bur: Glad to hear you are enjoying my story so much! I'm sorry this update wasn't very fast but I'll work harder on updating sooner next time ok? Thanks for reviewing my work!
Alice: As always I love hearing from you, even if it's in French. Keep enjoying my work!
Erica: I'm very happy to hear you enjoyed seeing Kagome through Shippo's eyes! I really felt that it was important to include that. I hope what ended up happening with Kagome's blood was satisfactory :P Thank so much for your review and as always I look forward to hearing more from you!
Kaylzzz: Thanks for your review! Glad you are enjoying the story so much! I hope you liked this chapter too. Looking forward to hearing from you again! :)
dragonlily22: I know I know…I took a little longer to up-date this one I'm sorry! As for my other stories…I just have no motivation for them right now. I'll get back to them eventually though, when I can write a decent chapter on them without wanting to delete it all. I hope you enjoy this story in the meantime though and I look forward to hearing more from you! Thanks for your review!
Ann: Thanks for your reviews on my other chapters and this one! I love hearing what people think about each one so I really appreciate that you took the time to let me know! I hope this chapter was worth waiting for and that you enjoyed it just as much as the others :) Who knows what's in store next? Shippo still has no idea about Kagome's woes. I look forward to hearing from you further! Thanks for your reviews!