Recap: After a brief and distant encounter with Team Toguro, the match between Team Urameshi and Team Uraotogi began.
Birds sang in the forest as they walked on to the new arena.
“Hiei, he’s the quiet one with the gifted eyes, isn’t he, the one who didn’t want to play cards with us all?”
Kuwabara visibly bristled at the comment and felt jealousy spread over his mind.
“Oh yeah, if you mean gifted eyes that are freakish! Why are you so interested in him?! Don’t think he’s cool, because he’s all crazy and he’ll bite off your head or something.”
Botan interrupted Kuwabara’s ramble, defending Hiei since she understood the situation. She almost let it slip that they were siblings, until she just started laughing like an idiot to cover her train of thought. Komeko cracked up at the site. Botan punched Komeko in the arm playfully when recovered. Immediately after, they spotted Yusuke and Puu resting in the forest.
Keiko rushed next to him and sat down beside him a moment. Her worry was apparent, but another emotion spread from her kind brown eyes – it looked like love. Not necessarily a big surprise, but it was still quite the development.
“What is it with this guy? First he didn’t show up for the match, now he’s asleep under a tree?” Kuwabara prodded.
“Something painful happened to him that made him stronger.” Shizuru spoke knowingly.
Kuwabara lifted Yusuke over his shoulder, after Shizuru threatened to beat him again for questioning her feelings, and the group made their way to the stadium that they could see just up ahead. A stinging sound hummed at Komeko’s sensitive ears and she faltered in her step momentarily. It went away quick enough, but it was sufficiently able to slam her mind with a migraine.
“You alright, K?” Botan asked, rubbing the girl’s shoulder.
“Yeah, it’s just a really bad headache. Something’s happening in the stadium, I can hear it.”
“I know what you mean. It’s not in my ears, but I can feel it.” Shizuru commented.
They came to the entrance in time to see most of the demons running from the arena.
“The nerve of that guy attacking the audience like that! Who does he think he is?!”
They mentioned Genkai before hurrying off. Kuwabara dumped Yusuke onto Botan and ran to the stadium.
“I got your back, Genkai!”
Shizuru flipped him the bird and grumbled at him. “Training to be a freaking man, my ass.”
The sound returned again and Komeko held her ears.
“You guys don’t hear that?” The girls shook their heads and Komeko picked up Yusuke to sling over her shoulder. “Let’s move. I don’t want to miss this, no matter how much it makes my ears want to bleed.”
“Let’s get ready to rock ‘n roll!” Kuwabara called from the stadium loudspeaker.
Shizuru, Botan, and Yukina ran off to go after Kuwabara, but Yusuke took that moment to wiggle from Komeko’s grip.
“Keiko…” he whispered.
“Looks like he wants you, girly.” She moved him over towards Keiko. “Don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll be fine. Just keep an eye on him and Puu!”
She gave the peace sign with her fingers and zipped into the stadium. Keiko looked disgruntled, but sat with Yusuke and Puu regardless.
Komeko stood in one of the entryways, watching the battle begin. Kuwabara’s punches were avoided and he summoned his spirit sword. Onji evaded the moves easily and taunted Kuwabara, calling him aimless. Swinging wildly, Kuwabara started to expend his energy.
“Fine, I’ll stand right here and promise not to move.”
“Fine!” Kuwabara struck and his opponent began to wield his own power towards him, creating a shiny shadowy sphere. Kuwabara landed right in the black bubble.
Komeko face-palmed as she watched him bumble around the bubble. Onji revealed that he was the one who made the items that the team had used in the fights and Kuwabara was sent away to the old ring again. As the dye fell to the floor, it revealed the next chosen fighter. Genkai stepped onto the stage and she grew tired of his banter quickly.
“Lose the disguise. I know you’re not an old man.” Genkai claimed. “I’m also not the kind of person to underestimate you based on false age.”
“You’ve got a sharp eye there for such an ugly, worn, past-its-time body. You’re the first to notice. I even concealed my energy.”
He began to pull his skin from his face, a mask, and chant. The smoke cleared to reveal a much younger demon, in colorful clown-like clothes.
“Are you kidding me?” Komeko muttered.
Onji, no, the beautiful Suzuka, laughed as he explained himself. Genkai insulted him and he reveled in his own ego, spewing on about his beauty and mystery. The crowd goaded him with insults, including the girls, until he launched a blast of energy into the stands. They dodged in time, barely, and Komeko grimaced before growling angrily at the demon in the ring from where she was. She jumped across the cavernous area and stood next to them protectively.
“Where were you, Komeko?”
She smiled at Yukina. “Nowhere important. I’m here now.”
Genkai rose from the rubble on the ground and jumped back into the ring easily. She threw Suzuka’s own red nose at his face and cracked her knuckles, tearing down the demon’s pride. He was both shocked at her speed and enraged at her taunting. It came down to more of a bare-knuckle brawl as they agreed to not use any energy.
“Go, Genkai!” The girls yelled from the stands. “Kick his ass!” Botan and Komeko high-fived each other as Genkai threw the demon into spins with her strength and hits.
The beautiful Suzuka was now marred with multiple bruises and bumps all over. He stayed down for all ten counts.
“Can you believe we made it to the finals?” Botan asked while they walked down the hallways. “You guys were all super!”
“I got a kick out of watching you fight, Kazuma.”
“Well, thank you, Yukina!” He was love struck as his ego was stroked. “I’m glad to see someone appreciates my strategy for once. See, there was no one worth wasting my energy on, so I had the bad guys reveal their weaknesses so Genkai could knock ‘em down.”
Yukina laughed at his explanation and Shizuru added her own commentary. “More like you made a big mess and Genkai cleaned up after you like someone always does.”
The siblings came face to face as Kuwabara tried to defend his manliness.
Komeko smiled over at Genkai and winked at the old woman who walked off. “I’m leaving.”
“It took all of us as a team to make it this far.” Kurama asserted.
“Not him!” Hiei clarified.
“I fought as just as many fights as you did!” Kuwabara defended.
“And lost them both.” Hiei countered.
Komeko tensed as the younger Toguro’s scent hit her nose. It was right where Genkai was walking and she looked wearily at the exit. The group didn’t notice her change and Komeko relaxed as his smell went away shortly after that. Kuwabara and Hiei continued arguing and Shizuru smacked him on the head to calm him.
“Hey, where’s Urameshi? Is he still with Keiko?” Kuwabara asked when he recovered.
Komeko paced around her female friends, a bit stir crazy. She knew Kurama was watching Team Toguro’s fight right now, but she was focused on making sure nothing happened to the girls. She thought back to how Genkai had told her to keep an eye on them, just in case. Nothing needed to get in Yusuke’s way right now – especially anything happening to Keiko.
They had just seen her in the woods and it gave them all an eerie feeling when they said goodbye. Genkai strolled off and Komeko recognized the way she walked. It was familiar to her in a way she wished wasn’t. It was the kind of gate that many soldiers held when they knew death was coming. Worry moved through her muscles and form, keeping her alert and on edge.
“Are you okay, Komeko?” Botan asked with her hand on her shoulder.
“Truthfully, something feels very wrong, B. Don’t you sense it?”
Botan nodded. “I feel something is off, but I can’t place my finger on it.”
The girls embraced in a quick hug that barely settled either’s nerves. Murmuring from Kuwabara reached their ears as they walked closer to the hotel.
“That’s really bad if he’s mumbling to himself and walking backwards.” Shizuru commented.
“Yukina, hey, you brought your four servants too!” Kuwabara yelled.
“For a joke to get old, it has to be funny in the first place, baby bro.” Shizuru smacked him down and he laughed it off. “Why were you talking to yourself anyway?”
“Urameshi ran away. I was just trying to catch him.”
Keiko’s eyes widened. “Yusuke isn’t in the hotel?”
“Well, if he is, I sure have been wasting my time out here yelling for him.”
“Perhaps he just left to get some exercise.” Botan supplied.
“No, it was more urgent than that. First Genkai steps out, then Yusuke wakes up and calls me an idiot and leaves too. I know I’m missing something!” Kuwabara stood up and ran off into the woods.
A chill ran down the girl’s spines, even Keiko’s. They exchanged looks and stared after Kuwabara. Komeko could feel the power building and she knew who it was from. The wind whipped around the girls and Komeko clenched her fists, upset. They stared at her.
“What’s wrong?” Keiko asked.
Komeko didn’t reply; she just kept her gaze completely focused on the forest, northward, tense.
Botan stood next to Keiko and reassured her, until she was interrupted by a terrible feeling, one she understood very well. Their empty gazes melted the forest into nothing in their mind’s eye.
Genkai was dead.