Chapter Twp; Signs of Doom
"Here we go," Kurama held open the door for Keiko, letting her pass through first. "How's your leg?"
"Fine, thanks," Keiko replied, grimacing inside at the memory of the chairlift fiasco. She was just grateful that it had only been Kurama as a witness; anybody else would have taken great pleasure in spreading the story through their group within minutes. Well, with the exception of Yukina.
Keiko followed her red-headed guide through the restaurant. He seemed to know where to go, and all the foreigners were so tall, it was hard to see over their heads for Yuusuke and the others. Her boots made loud clacking noises on the ground as she walked, and Keiko wondered briefly how Kurama was hardly making a sound.
"Hey! Keiko! Fox-boy! Over here!" came a loud shout from ahead. Botan and Yuusuke had secured a table next to a large window, overlooking the resort. Kurama greeted them both warmly. "Kuwabara and Yukina went to get drinks. You'll have a vodka orange, right?" Yuusuke asked, turning to his girlfriend.
Keiko frowned. "Thanks for the thought Yuusuke, but you should know that I don't drink alcohol in the middle of the day," she answered, sliding along the wooden bench towards him.
"Oh." Yuusuke looked like he hadn't known or hadn't been listening when she had passed that information. "No matter. First time for everything, right?" He gave a grin that he knew Keiko found hard to resist. "Oh yeah, and I got you a pint, Kurama." He turned to the redhead across from him.
"Thank you." Was the polite reply, though Keiko didn't suppose he was really a lager sort of guy.
"So Keiko!" Said girl turned to the blue haired deity opposite her. "How did the skiing go?" Keiko noticed with a degree of annoyance that the ferry girl looked not the slightest bit guilty for abandoning her.
"Fine," she said, rather abruptly. Botan's perpetual smile faltered. "I think I've got the hang of it now, anyway," she amended.
"Great!" The smile was back. "You can come down with Yukina and me, now!" She giggled. Keiko smiled weakly and turned to face away from Kurama, who was the only one who knew the extent of her incompetence, and whose eyes she could feel studying her.
Kuwabara retuned, keeping one large hand on Yukina's shoulder and the other under the drinks tray.
"Hey Kurama!" He sloshed the drinks over slightly in his hurry to get back to the table. It was strange; he didn't look like such a giant surrounded by the westerners. "I've seen you tearing up the slopes!" He said with a grin. Kurama replied with a smile.
"Snowboards are faster, however good you are," Yuusuke interjected with a proud puffing out of his chest. "You might have missed me passing you; I'm too fast for human eyes to follow," he told Keiko, who rolled her eyes.
"Sure, Yuusuke." She wasn't quite sure if it was true or not. If you had told her four years ago that there were such things as demons, she would have laughed in your face. Her answer fitted though, she didn't want to inflate his ego unnecessarily.
Yuusuke got louder and louder as the lunch progressed. The atmosphere around the little mountain restaurant became ever gloomier.
"Maybe we should go now," Keiko said, talking for the first time. The rest of lunch, she had been lost in thought and general exhaustion. Gentle snowflakes fell as she looked through the window to the slopes. People all around them seemed to be leaving too. She glanced back at the table to await Yuusuke's reaction, as he seemed always to take charge in these situations. He was laughing raucously at some lame joke that Kuwabara had made. 'If only Hiei were here, we wouldn't have to put up with that kind of thing...no-one else is going to tell Kuwabara to shut up,' Keiko thought wistfully. Her annoyance had gathered in a ball inside her at being ignored. Frowning, she found her eyes drawn to Kurama's, who was bestowing a thoughtful expression upon her. She hastened to lighten her expression; so far he had not done anything to annoy her.
"Keiko is right." Kurama began. His clear voice carried over the tables occupants, and silence reigned. 'Oh, sure, they listen to him'. "I cannot foresee the weather improving. In fact, it is becoming worse the longer we stay."
Everyone looked out of the window, where the light flakes had already become heavy, large crystals.
"Oh! Isn't it beautiful!" Yukina exclaimed, to which Kuwabara instantly agreed.
"Should be a challenge," Yuusuke put in, a grin shaping his lips. "Hey, Kuwabara! I bet you can't take on the Ice Bank in this!" Kuwabara blanched, and clenched his jaw.
"I can too! Just watch me feed you your own words, Urameshi!"
"Oh! The Ice bank! Yukina and I were going to do that, too. We heard it was one of the most advanced ski slopes in Europe! We can go together!"
"Let's all go," Yukina said, joy at going out into the snow again apparent in her voice. Keiko felt her stomach fall into the vicinity of her knees at the idea.
"How about you, Keiko?" Keiko turned to look into Kurama's green eyes. If he knew about her fear, which he probably did, he was hiding it very well form the others.
"Oh, um...Of course, I'll go with you- with all of you," She replied, blushing slightly at her slip and eagerness to correct herself. 'I'm not going to be left behind again'.
Kurama nodded slowly at her decision. 'He thinks that I think that I'm good enough, and he thinks that I'm not! Oh, God, I really don't!' Keiko's thoughts were in a slight jumble by that time.
"Let's go!" Botan cried enthusiastically.
"Yeah...let's go..." Keiko added her voice to the others'.
The cold wind hit the group like a slap in the face as they ventured onto the slopes. Keiko fitted the skis to her boots with a large feeling of dread. 'They're not coming off till the bottom...'
Yukina pushed off first on her skis, not travelling too fast, but looking in her element nonetheless. As Yuusuke and Kuwabara had started kicking off to the 'Ice Bank' with one foot on their snowboards to cross the flatter land, Keiko took a deep breath and readied herself for whatever was ahead.
There was something attached to her arm, which she shook of distractedly.
"Keiko." She jumped. She had forgotten that he was still behind her.
"What?" She answered rather snappishly; the others were disappearing out of sight into the white oblivion.
"You don't have to go down the Ice Bank. There are easier ways down."
"You're the one who told me not to underestimate myself!" Keiko retorted, the panic making her act slightly wildly.
She couldn't make out Kurama's eyes through his reflective glasses, but she could tell they were observing her intently. As always.
"Really, Keiko. I wouldn't recommend that particular slope for a beginner." His voice held finality. "If you want to take an easier slope, I'll accompany you."
'Oh, how chivalric of you, Kurama' Keiko though sarcastically. 'Now I have to go down the Ice Bank just to prove you wrong...and I don't want to owe you anything.'
"No, I want to do this. Please, let me do this," Keiko said, her voice also final. Kurama released her sleeve and gave a short nod, his brows creased under the glasses.
"As you wish." 'It's your funeral...' were the unspoken words.
I'm so sorry to everyone who is reading this who is also waiting (I flatter myself) for updates of Harry Potter and the Demon...I've had so much work at the moment that updating has been impossible. I promise to get the next chapter up asap.
I was going to make this chapter longer, but as I said, I'm swaped with work at the moment. There will be ACTION! not just lovey-dovey romantic stuff...well, if my writing is up to it...
I don't own Yu Yu Hakusho.