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Standard disclaimers as seen in part one of this fic, apply here also. As do the Warnings: Up-and- coming scenes of lemon, yaoi violence.


      It wasn't long before everyone was notified, gathering quickly at Keiko's ramen shop in the restaurant district. Early morning business was always good, but not too crowded to where you couldn't hold a decent conversation.
      Hiei sat hidden in the corner of the booth the gang had chosen, sneering from being in public. Kuwabara and Yukina were off in their own little world, Koenma was looking over last- minute files, and Yusuke and Keiko were at each others throats, as usual.
      "You're not going, and that's FINAL!" Yusuke sneered up to Keiko. "It's too dangerous! And I know how you get around these Makai demons." He sat back in the booth, closing his eyes and crossing his hands over his chest. "And that's that!"
      All eyes in the restaurant turned to the large booth where Keiko had nabbed a wok and smashed it over her fiance's head. "What are you trying to say, Yusuke? That I'm too WEAK for the job? Is that it?"
      Kuwabara looked up from flirting with Yukina ... Hiei looked up from glaring at Kuwabara ... Kurama looked up from staring at Hiei ...
      Yusuke leapt to his feet, three separate welts beginning to form on the top of his head. "WILL YA QUIT!!!!"
      Koenma reached over and grabbed Yusuke by the shirt, reeling him back down to the table. "You're attracting attention, Urameshi."
      "She started it!" he protested, pointing an accusing finger at her.
      "OH!" Keiko yelled. "So now we're back in grade school! ... and don't point that thing at me!!"
      "Why you.... " Yusuke threatened, trying to rise from his feet.
      All hands at the table moved to wrestle Yusuke back into his seat.
      "Can we get back to the matter at hand?" Koenma asked, trying to keep his cool.
      Off at another booth, a group of girls giggled quietly, Koenma threw them a suave smile and they giggled louder.
      Kurama sipped his tea casually, glancing around the table. "So, exactly what's the plan here, Yusuke?"
      He grasped his aching head, glaring back to the kitchen area, mumbling something under his breath. "Well ... it's obvious that humans can't deal with this ... so it looks like it's our problem now."
      Keiko came back out of the kitchen with an armload of food, setting it down before each of them on the table. She threw a cute smile down to Yusuke who only groaned and glared at his food. "So, what's the deal? We all off to America?" she chimed in.
      " 'WE?' " Yusuke growled.
      Keiko frowned and took up a stray plate, raised the plate to strike ... but stopped short, staring out the window. She stood frozen, plate in hand and raised to pummelling height, staring blankly out the window at the passing cars.
      Hiei, practically hidden in the corner of the booth, volleyed glances back and forth between her and the window.
      "What?" Kurama whispered
      Kurama leaned over Hiei, staring out the window, his green eyes surveying the environment beyond the restaurant.
      Through the passing traffic, every once and a while a tall, dark figure would blink through behind passing vehicles. It was tall and thin, glaring back at the window as the others stared back. He stood motionless, only appearing every so often.
      Something glinted in the man's hand ... a long, razor-sharp katana, almost reaching down to the sidewalk. It glimmered around between passing vehicles, the man flashing an evil smile at the group.
      Yusuke bound from the table in a heartbeat and was out the door before anyone could react. Hiei was next, blinking from view as the group all began to file out of the ramen shop and onto the sidewalk outside.
      Across the road as Yusuke expertly hopped cars and dodged motorcycles, Hiei appeared where the man should have been. He turned around in circles, scanning the environment both mentally and physically for any sign of the phantasmal man. But is was like he was never there ... there was only a psychic residue, almost undetectable from the life around him, floating in and out of his perception.
      Behind him, Yusuke clambered to the sidewalk in a serenade of car horns and yelling drivers, surveying the site as he steadied himself. "Where'd he go?"
      Hiei circled again, rubbing the bandanna on his forehead. " Good question."
      A glint caught Yusuke's eye from the bushes, immediately retreating into the foliage and out of sight. He crossed behind Hiei through a mob of pedestrians, shoving his way through to the neatly kept, waist-tall hedge. He reached the bush and began sifting through it with his hands, folding back the branches.
      "What is it?" Kurama yelled, joining them on the sidewalk and pushing through the pedestrians to Yusuke.
      "There's something in these bushes, but it keeps moving. Here, you try." he said, standing back.
      Kurama casually shoved his hands in his pockets and concentrated, watching as the bush writhed before them. It shifted and shuttered, occasionally reveling a glint of metal, but it was soon somehow lost back into the greenery. Kurama concentrated a bit harder... Through the foliage, a small, six-pronged shuriken, a ninja throwing star, glimmered into view before scurrying off to hide back in the living bush.
      "That was odd," Yusuke said as Kurama reached into the bush. "Was it just me, or did that thing move on its own?"
      Kurama bent down into the bush, grasping around for a few moments as the others all joined them, gently pulling on something. It seemed to be putting up quite a fight, as Kurama was jerked in and out of the bush, everyone watching on in anticipation.
      Finally, Kurama's arm burst out of the bush, flinging him backwards into Yusuke, his hand tightly clasped around the fist-sized shuriken. It writhed and wriggled in his grip, desperately fighting to free itself from Kurama's grip.
      "It's alive!" Keiko exclaimed from behind them, pushing forward to lean over Yusuke's shoulder.
      "Can you feel that?" Yusuke asked, reaching out to touch the wriggling star. "It's a weird sort of energy ... not you-ki ... not rei-ki ... "
      Kurama suddenly flinched, releasing the shuriken with a hiss. The small, metal star clambered to the ground and rolled quickly off into the bush, disappearing almost instantly.
      Kurama held his hand tightly, a large gash running down the length of his palm. "Damn it!" he whispered to himself as blood ran off his hand. He closed it tightly, calling up his youko healing abilities to seal the wound.
      "Great, now we're dealing with ninja's!" Kuwabara cursed.
      "Not just any ninja ... there's a strong aura of power that came from that star. And it wasn't you-ki."
      "This case is getting weirder by the minute," Koenma said silently.

© April 1997 by Jiminy Cricket Presses

On to part 3