-1Author's Note: Whee! Today's YCSM's third birthday! Rather sad that it's taken this long, actually...Thank yous to all my lovely reviewers, who get a hug and a cookie apiece. Yay! I realize the ending of the last chapter sounds kind of rushed, but that's probably because my inspiration came at 1:30 in the morning and I wanted to go to bed. But I do plan to update a bit faster from now on. Or at least I'll try to. Just don't hurt me. x)
Disclaimer: Things I Don't Own: The rights to the characters or plot of YuYu Hakusho.
Things I Own: Zilch.
You Can't See Me
Chapter 9 - Unveiled
My lungs were going to explode in a few seconds, but I couldn't stop running. I was pretty sure I was going to fall over right then and there from the incredibly painful stitch in my side. But I would not. Could not. There was too much at stake. And the frustrating part was knowing Botan was going to get there before I did even though I'd been halfway there when I'd given her the message to meet me. Damn ferrygirls and their flying oars. Another irritating realization also made itself known. My parents were right, I did need to get out of the house and exercise more. Gym class clearly wasn't cutting it. Then, finally, I reached Yusuke's apartment building.
And then I remembered the stairs. ...Dammit.
After many agonizing, torturous minutes of climbing stairs and stubbornly refusing to give myself any rest, I reached Yusuke's apartment. With Yuki around so often, Atsuko was out drinking more often than not these days, so I didn't have to worry about her being home. I didn't even need to reach for the doorknob when Botan yanked it open and pulled me inside. I paced frantically, trying to catch my breath while Botan stared at me, alarmed.
"Keiko, what in the world is going on? Is someone trying to hurt you? What's all this fuss about? And why are we meeting here of all places?" Botan grabbed my shoulders to stop my pacing, forcing me to face her directly. Her eyes widened, and I knew she could see the panic and frustration in mine. I pulled away wordlessly, and dug the tape out of my bag. I shoved it in the VCR and jammed the Play button.
I didn't watch the tape again. I tried to block out Yusuke's screams. So I watched Botan's face instead. At first she looked confused and curious. But as the scene progressed, she blanched and went white as a sheet. I hate to think of what my face looked like when I saw it. Leaning against a counter, her hands gripped it hard until her knuckles turned white. She was gasping in horror in all the right places, like it was some new teen horror movie. When it was over she had her hand over her mouth and I could see tears pouring down her face. It made me feel like I'd underreacted.
Botan turned to me. "Oh kami-sama...how could we not have known?! I must tell Koenma immediately!"
As she contacted Koenma, I slid down the wall and buried my face in my hands. Really, how did I not see it? I realize that demon identification isn't my specialty, but still...I should have at least considered the possibility. And as much as I hated to admit it to myself, even if Yuki wasn't a demon I still should have done something about her a long time ago. I moaned and wailed about how much I missed Yusuke and how useless I was without him, but what had I done to fight for him? Nothing. I had sat back and all I had done was feel sorry for myself. How pathetic was I?
Well that was going to change. Starting now. As soon as Botan finished with contacting the Reikai Tantei, I was going to hunt her down. With or without them. There would be no question of them leaving me behind. Not this time. I knew things they didn't, and this time I was not going to sit by and watch the person who was my whole world suffer anymore. And this fight with "Yuki" or whoever she was was beyond personal. I was done grieving and being pathetic. It was time to kick some ugly-boyfriend-stealing-demonic ass.
I heard footsteps outside the door, indicating that it had not taken Hiei and Kurama long to get here. I heard Koenma's voice outside the door as well. I stood up and straightened my face just as they entered, all of them looking very grave. But this was nothing new. No one spoke until Kuwabara arrived a few moments later, looking for all the world like a raging bull. No doubt he was furious at the kidnapping of his best friend slash rival by some succubus.
"Alright, where's this bitch and what did she do with Urameshi?!" he demanded. His hands were fisted so hard I thought he was going to break his own fingers. It was almost a relief to see someone angry and not all somber looking. I looked down and realized my own fists were clenched. And then it dawned on me that I really was violently angry. So angry I could kill someone. I guess I still wasn't used to any sensations other than numbness.
The tape was played again for the benefit of everyone who hadn't yet seen it, but I couldn't concentrate on it or the plans they discussed afterward. I couldn't focus on anything beyond the desire to rip Yuki to pieces, to exact every ounce of misery she'd put me through, and any other retribution I could think of. There was no question of her paying for what she'd done to Yusuke. My only problem was that nothing seemed horrible enough to do to her.
"...so it's settled then. Kuwabara and Hiei will make a sweep of the forests and Kurama and Botan will scour the city. I, meanwhile, will contact Ayame and have her see what she can find on this demon in the underground." Koenma paused here and sighed, looking older than ever, even for a teenager. He looked at every face long and hard. Every face except mine. "I don't need to tell you all how important it is that we find this demon. I know Yusuke is dear to all of you, even if you don't like to admit it." Koenma flashed a small grin in Hiei's direction. Hiei grunted and looked away.
"Right...," Koenma resumed, "So let's get going".
I coughed loudly. They all turned to stare at me as though noticing me for the first time. Apparently they also thought I was crazy. By this point I wasn't sure myself. But I'd be damned if I let them leave me behind.
"I'm going too," I said quietly.
There was an uncomfortable silence as everyone looked at each other, trying to figure out what to do about the "extra". I wasn't surprised. I knew they wouldn't want to have to drag me along. Well, too bad for them. I was inviting myself. Botan was the first to speak. "Keiko...I don't know if that would be a good idea..." I stared at her hard, and she backed down. Hiei, however, wasn't so easily intimidated. "You'd be a hindrance, an inconvenience. It would be foolish to have you along, slowing us down."
Hiei and I spent the next five minutes in a heated staring contest, neither able to out-intimidate the other. Even his stupid Jagan and demonic red eyes weren't enough to scare me. The tension in the room could be cut with a knife, and Kurama stepped in to ease it. Hiei glared at the thief kitsune whose hand rested on his shoulder and finally looked away. I wasn't going to beg or pleade with them to take me, if that's what they wanted. Kurama looked at me thoughtfully for a moment and sighed.
"I can see that you're not going to relent on this. Very well, I think we should take you along. You probably know more about this girl or demon or whatever she is than the rest of us. You'll go with me and Botan. Do you have any idea where we should start?" The tension in my chest eased with the knowledge that I would not be left behind. I thought for a moment. Where in the world would Yuki take Yusuke? Where the hell did she live anyway? Then it hit me. There was a way to find out.
"The school records..." I started slowly. They looked at me in surprise. Apparently it hadn't occured to them. "Her school record should show her home address, or wherever it is that she's hiding. I doubt she'd be paranoid enough to give a fake one. She probably thinks there's no way we'd ever think to check. We'll have to sneak into the office, but that shouldn't be too hard."
Kurama nodded, smiling. "That's where we'll start then. Let's get going."
Half an hour later, Botan, Kurama, and I were rifling through the permanent records in Takanawa-sensei's office. Kurama had made quick work of any locks, so we really didn't have any obstacles to worry about, other than that bastard Uwamoto skulking around. The only hindrance we faced was the fact that I had no idea what Yuki's surname was. I'd never cared enough to find out. So the three of us were forced to sit there searching meticulously through the records for Yuki's file. Just another reason for me to hate her.
"Here it is!" Botan chimed in a singsong voice that grated on my nerves. She slapped it on the desk, and we all eagerly bent over it. And there, right in the middle of the page, was the address we were looking for. Shockingly enough, Yuki lived way out of town, way out of this school district. Obviously she had gone way out of her way to get at Yusuke. Why though?
Kurama put the papers back inside the file and stuffed it under his arm. "I don't think they'll be needing this anymore," he said with a small smile. "Not after I get done with her..." I muttered under my breath. Kurama threw me a sharp glance. He had probably guessed my intentions by now, and I could tell he wasn't pleased. But he said nothing about it. For the time being anyway.
"Now that we have this, we should get back to the others. I'll call them and we'll set up a meeting place and discuss strategy." Botan flipped open her compact and began speaking to Kuwabara. Kurama pulled me aside, away from Botan. I knew what he was going to say, but I let him get it out anyway.
"Keiko, I know what you're thinking and it's too dangerous. Let us handle this demon, it's our job." He smiled then, but the stubborn expression remained on my face. No way was I backing down. I sighed and looked away. "Kurama...has there ever been anybody you wanted to protect more than anything? Someone you loved so much that you'd give anything in the world just to make them happy?" Kurama pursed his lips. "Yes," he smiled again, "my mother, Shiori."
"Then you understand. Yusuke has always been there to protect me, has saved me from any danger. And now that it's him in danger, I can't just sit back and let someone else save him for me. This is more than just a personal vendetta against Yuki. This is about saving the other half of myself. I have to be the one to do it. I can feel it. So please don't try to stop me."
Kurama sighed and grinned ruefully at me. "I guess I have no choice."
Botan finished her conversation and walked over to us. "Ready to go?"
I grinned at the both of them, beginning to feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins again.
"You know it! Let's go bring Yusuke home!"
And that, ladies and gents, was chapter 9. And it didn't take years. ;D Next chapter, they begin the hunt for Yusuke and his demon captor. Show some love, and I update faster. -winkwinknudgenudge- Yay! The old Keiko is coming back! And she's going to go Rambo on Yuki's ass. xD Anyway, again I thank all my beautimus lovely reviewers whom I love more than life itself. But not more than chocolate. Mwa ha. Chapter 10 coming soon, folks! The Review button needs attention! ;p