Time Traveler Katsumi

Dangerous Liaisons

He could hear it. Someone dangerous was approaching his swamp.

GLUB. GLUB. GURGGLE…

The surface of the water bubbled up around Mimisenri's large cranium as he raised it to get a better listen to determine exactly who or what this approaching danger was. He grinned when his suspicions were confirmed. His great, big ears were still as sharp as ever. They had to be, or else there was no way a blind youkai like him could have ever survived in this harsh world.

"Ke-ke-ke… So you came, Naraku." Mimisenri cackled. "I could hear you coming from over 4 ri away." He could hear the telltale buzzing of saimyōshō as well.

"Oh-ho… Well, that makes things easier." Naraku said, allowing the whirlwind around him to dissipate as he landed to stand on the shores of the swamp before the deformed and grotesque youkai. "Mimisenri. You are said to possess ears that can hear everything in this world." Naraku stated grimly, all business. It irked him that he could not locate the remaining shard with his own power, and the infant and Kagura had failed to corrupt Kagome and bring her under their control so he could make use of her eyes.

"Indeed, Naraku, I've heard rumors about you as well. Do you intend to absorb my ears into your body as well, eh?" Mimisenri asked, cocking his head to the side as his lips twisted into a mad grin that showed what were left of his crooked and jagged teeth.

"Don't worry. I have no interest in your filthy body." Naraku stated, not even bothering to hid his disgust. Bitch, please. He wasn't anywhere near that desperate. "Mimisenri… have you heard about where the remaining Shikon shards could be?"

"Well, then… as per the rumors between youkai, Naraku… Isn't it true that you have almost all of the shards in your hands?" Mimisenri asked.

"One more…" Naraku said. "There's only one remaining fragment that I don't know the location of."

"Humph, then… I shall listen carefully…" Mimisenri said, lifting his head to the dark sky. He hadn't missed the veiled threat laced in Naraku's voice. If he couldn't tell Naraku what he wanted to know… Well, who knows what this uppity but dangerous hanyou might do to him?

—∞—|—∞—

{The Next Day...}

Once again, Sesshoumaru was leading Katsumi and the others on a trek through a forest, when certain someone's tiny tummy let out a big growl.

"I take it you're hungry, Rin?" Katsumi asked, smiling wryly in amusement, as she glanced back to see Rin holding her tummy and trying to keep it quiet while perched on Ah-Un's back.

"Yes. Sesshoumaru-sama, Rin is hungry. May I go and look for something to eat?" Rin asked sweetly.

"Be quiet, Rin!" Jaken snapped, earning him a sharp look from Katsumi. "A forest like this will have nothing for you to eat. Just bear it." Katsumi raised an eyebrow at that. Was he serious?

"But…" Rin said hesitantly, not quite ready to give up.

"No buts!" Jaken said.

"But, aren't we always foraging for food in forests like this?" Katsumi pointed out. This forest didn't look that different from any of the others they had already been through.

"I'll be real quick!" Rin promised as she suddenly hopped off of Ah-Un's saddle and made a quick break for the woods before any of them could stop her.

"That girl!" Jaken said, nearly face-palming.

"Wow, Rin's really growing up. She's gotten so fast!" Katsumi said, smiling proudly after her adopted little sister. "I guess I might as well get some food too real quick while we're stopping. I'll be right back!" She told Sesshoumaru, giving them a little wave as she darted off into the woods after Rin.

"Hey! Get back here, you—" Jaken started to yell after her.

"Jaken!" Sesshoumaru said sternly, stopping the imp cold. "Leave them be."

'Ugh… I can't believe this…' Jaken thought, sighing. How did those two always manage to get away with stunts like this when he, Sesshoumaru-sama's most faithful servant, who had been serving him since long before either of those two brats were even born, could not?

—∞—

"Ah~!" Rin gasped in delight when she spotted some mushrooms growing on a tree. "Ne, Katsumi-nee! Do you think these are edible?" She asked excitedly, eager to fill her empty stomach and stop her hunger pains.

"Hmm, let's see…" Katsumi said thoughtfully as she squatted down beside Rin to inspect them. "I don't think they're deadly, but they don't exactly look too safe to eat either…" In fact, they kind of looked and smelled like they might have some kind of psychotropic chemicals in them, and the last thing any of them wanted was for the adorable eight-year-old to be tripping out of her mind on 'shrooms.

"!" Katsumi gasped when felt something start to shift in the ground and the smell of a youkai suddenly hit her nose. "Rin, get back!" Katsumi said urgently, pushing Rin behind her she spun around to face a huge and scaly green hand as it burst forth from the ground behind them.

"Kyaa!" Rin screamed, startled. It tried to grab them, but Katsumi had already drawn her sword. It was over in flash. With one clean strike, Katsumi cleaved the large youkai's hand in half, slicing through its thick skin, muscles, and bones like butter.

"Wow~! So cool, Katsumi-nee!" Rin cheered as Katsumi sheathed her sword.

"Haha, thanks Rin." Katsumi said, blushing a little as she rubbed the back of her neck, a little shy to be praised so enthusiastically for something so simple. "Come on. Let's see if we can find something edible before Sesshoumaru-sama gets tired of wait—!?" Katsumi whipped her head around, alarmed to hear the familiar buzzing of saimyōshō. Her eyes widened when she realized the swarm was forming out of the remains of the hand she had just cut. "What the…!? Sesshoumaru!!"

—∞—

Sesshoumaru instantly snapped to attention when he heard Katsumi shout for him. He had assumed she could handle the weak youkai he smelled on her own, but clearly something had gone wrong.

"Ah, Sesshoumaru-sama!" Jaken gasped, startled when Sesshoumaru suddenly took off like a shot. "Wait for me!"

—∞—

"!" Sesshoumaru said when he saw the swarm for himself, surprised to see so many of them. No wonder Katsumi had called for him. There were far too many for her to handle on her own while trying to protect Rin. Fortunately, she had somehow managed to erect a small kekkai around herself and Rin, similar to the one that had saved them from being absorbed by Naraku, to shield them from the swarm of saimyōshō. It seems training her had paid off… However, Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes slightly when he realized she had been stung on her left arm. Fortunately, it seems she was able to remove the stingers in time, because although she had a thin sheen of sweat glistening on her forehead and had paled slightly, she still had enough strength to stand and fight.

" Hah! Those are poisonous saimyōshō!" Jaken exclaimed, sweating nervously, when he realized the mess he had just followed them into.

"No. Really?" Katsumi asked sarcastically, feigning a look of exaggerated surprise. She wasn't really in the best of moods at the moment since saimyōshō stings hurt like a mother.

"Don't lower your kekkai." Sesshoumaru told her calmly as he drew Tokijin. "That Naraku… He left behind some annoying vermin." He raised his sword as the saimyōshō solidified back into the form of a youkai hand. "Jaken. There should be a hive nearby."

"Yes! I'll go look for it." Jaken said, immediately understanding his lord's intentions. The imp wasted no time as he raced off to find the saimyōshō hive so it could be destroyed.

Meanwhile, Sesshoumaru faced the huge, disembodied youkai hand, gracefully dodging its attacks before delivering his own blow, slicing it cleanly in half, just as Katsumi had earlier.

"Tch." Sesshoumaru clicked his tongue when the hand simply reverted back into a swarm of poisonous insects, clearly annoyed beneath his stoic expression.

"Yeah, I tried already tried that. It didn't work for me either." Katsumi said sympathetically, smiling a little wryly, as she sweat dropped. That didn't make Sesshoumaru feel any better, however, he did take great satisfaction in watching the irritating insects disintegrate when blasted them with his sword's kenatsu. There were hardly any of the pests left now.

"Wah~! Sesshoumaru-sama's so cool!" Rin gushed, full of admiration for their hero.

"Ah!" Rin gasped behind her. "Jaken-sama, look!" Rin shouted, pointing to a tree a couple of yards away. "There! The hive of the poison insects!"

"Whaa…" Jaken said, a little impressed Rin was able to spot that with her human eyes from her position inside Katsumi's barrier… not that he would ever admit it. "Take this! Nintoujou!" Jaken shouted, aiming his staff at the hive, torching it to a crisp. "Hah! Take that!"

"Nice one, Jaken." Katsumi said, impressed he managed to get something right without ripping over himself.

"Yay! You saved us~!" Rin cheered, jumping up and down. "Thank you, Sesshoumaru-sama."

"Yeah, you really saved us." Katsumi said, sighing in relief. She was about to drop her barrier when two extremely lucky saimyōshō that had managed to dodge Sesshoumaru's attack, flew out of from hiding place. They were trying to escape!

"If I pursue them…" Sesshoumaru thought out loud, following the fleeing with sharp eyes. If he pursued them, they just might lead him to Naraku… Sesshoumaru glanced at Katsumi. Judging by the look of comprehension and understanding in her eyes, she had come to the same conclusion.

"I'll be fine. Go kick his ass." Katsumi said, grinning impishly despite her pain as she gave him a thumbs up. And jut like that, Sesshoumaru was gone, hot on the new trail to Naraku.

"Ah, Sesshoumaru-sama!?" Jaken said, startled when he realized he was being left behind again. "Wait, Sesshoumaru-samaaaa!" He cried, hurrying to scramble after his lord.

"Looks like it's just you and me, Rin." Katsumi said, ruffling her the younger girl's hair, as she let out a sigh of relief and released the barrier before dropping to the ground. Even though she could usually make a kekkai whenever she wanted, it still left her pretty wiped to keep it up. "Ah-ah, and I thought regular wasp stings were painful… No wonder Miroku has such a problem with these buggers." Although she didn't feel like her life was in any danger at the moment, her arm felt like it had been doused in kerosene and lit on fire using an industrial blowtorch.

"Is that so? My apologies." A deep and dangerously familiar voice said from right behind them.

"!?" Katsumi exclaimed, instantly jumping to her feet and placing herself protectively in front of Rin. "Naraku! What're you doing here!?" She demanded, glaring fiercely, at him as she drew Taifu-Kochou. She couldn't believe he had managed to sneak up on her like that. Even with him only a foot away, she still hadn't been able to sense even a hint of his presence or scent! Katsumi decided she really hated Naraku's new barrier. Why did the bad guys always end up getting the good stuff?

It was barely audible, but Katsumi heard Rin utter a small whimper as she hid from her abductor, gripping her Katsumi-nee's kimono for comfort. Katsumi grit her teeth as she tightened her grip on her sword. Barrier-schmarrier, if he tried to touch so much as a hair on Rin's head, she was going kill him. He was never getting his slimy tentacles on her again. That was a promise.

"Hn. That's a great look you have in your eye, Katsumi-chan." Naraku said, smirking deviously at her. "But I wonder what exactly you think drawing you sword is going to accomplish? We both know your attacks are useless against my barrier. Are you sure you want to pick a fight with me, when all came here for was to ask you a few questions?"

"…" Katsumi said as she kept her sword aimed at him, wondering just how stupid he thought she was. If all he wanted to do was ask questions, then why bother setting up that saimyōshō hive trick to lure Sesshoumaru away? No, actually, there might have been a legitimate reason for that when you consider the fact that Sesshoumaru would've started trying to kill him on sight, regardless of Naraku's new and super-improved portable barrier… Still, this is Naraku we're talking about here. Who knows what kind of underhanded tricks he's got waiting up his sleeve.

Naraku chuckled, abruptly bringing her back to the real world and the danger facing her and Rin.

"What's so funny?" Katsumi asked tartly. She really wanted to smack that smug smirk off his face.

"Oh, nothing really… I just find it entertaining to watch you think. You're a very honest girl, aren't you? Even while silently thinking to yourself, whatever emotions you feel are clearly written all over your face." He explained, obviously amused. His amusement only grew at the priceless expression on her face upon hearing that. "It's such a shame. You know you can't win against me, and it would be a waste to kill someone so amusing... So why don't you just save yourself a lot of pain and grief, and cooperate with me, like a good girl?"

A vein mark throbbed on Katsumi's forehead.

"Is that so? Well, when you put it that way…" Katsumi said, smiling a brilliant shit-eating grin that did very little to conceal her irritation and anger. Honestly, she wanted nothing more than kick Naraku's snarky ass, but as much as she hated to admit it, he was right. She couldn't beat him on her own, and if she started a fight with him here, it would put Rin in danger… Katsumi sighed, resigning herself for the unsavory task ahead of her.

"Alright, Naraku. I'll talk… but only if you let Rin leave first."


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