|A Healer's Kiss
Author: reiko PM
Botan had no choice but to run away to save her and her unborn child’s life. On the way to her new life, she stumbled upon Hiei who didn’t really care. All alone and scared, she asked for his help. In exchange, she gave him an offer he couldn't refuseRated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 5 - Words: 45,948 - Reviews: 137 - Favs: 30 - Follows: 21 - Updated: 10-24-04 - Published: 09-20-04 - id: 2064419
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Hello, minna-san! I'm sorry for the long update. I just got sick with tonsillitis and flu and had a hard time writing but here it is! Sorry if this chapter seemed a bit too long. It would mostly consist of Kurama, Hiei and Botan's POV. Oh, and I've decided to just add Kurama's scene in this chapter while making some revisions on it to fit in the story. ::turns to Yusuke:: Oh boy, Yusuke-kun, you're in big trouble! Hehehehe!!!
Yusuke: ::frowns:: What do you mean?
Reiko: ::smiles smugly:: Just wait and see.
This chapter will basically tell us how intelligent Kurama is… hehehe… so I hope you don't mind the ramblings about his POV.
As usual, disclaimers apply! I don't own them, not making money from them so please don't sue.
Chapter IV – In Undertones
Yusuke shoved his hands inside his pockets and sighed for the fifth time that day. Kurama's eyebrows went up a notch when he heard the Tantei leader muttered something about stupid missions and stupid Koenma for the third time under his breath while glaring at several Onis and ferry girls they met on the way. With that, everybody's favorite Kitsune couldn't help but let out a sigh too as he walked along side his friend, following the assigned ferry girl to show them a way to the portal location. Evidently, when the supposed "thievery" occurred, the Rei Kai became strict with its use of portals. To avoid the same thing from happening again, the portal usage was restricted only to a few ferry girls or Onis.
Going back to the subject, he couldn't blame Yusuke though. They had just been to Koenma's office and Kurama couldn't exactly point out if what happened inside the four corners of that room was bad or worse. Unconsciously, he raked his tapered fingers through his soft, red mane and mused. Behind them was Hiei, all brooding and silent as ever with an odd look on his face. The only missing in the group was Kuwabara who was taking extra classes in his college. Kurama secretly wondered if Kuwabara's absence was also the reason why Yusuke's feeling pissed. After all, THEY had all been UNFAIRLY berated except for the latter.
Evidently, that particular day had been extraordinarily strenuous for everybody especially for him. Ever since he decided to help his step-father run the family business, Kurama found himself nearly overworked. Actually, it was not only the strenuous office work that was making him dead tired these past couple of weeks. That was only the tip of the ice berg. It was his other job as one of Koenma's Rei Kai Tanteis that was getting to him. If the Rei Kai prince was bratty before, he was barely tolerable now. He had noticed that Koenma had successfully developed another annoying talent and that is to berate and grate them till they lose whatever sanity and reason they had left. It was a good thing that Shuiichi Minamino could control Youko Kurama effectively now because with Koenma's new disposition in life, the toddler prince would certainly find himself in deep trouble.
Well, not that he blamed Koenma though. Kurama perfectly understood that the Rei Kai prince was in a tight fix right now. A very powerful artifact suddenly went missing and they were led to believe that Botan, much to everybody's surprise of course, was the one who stole it. He had frowned at the information given to them, actually, with the phrase "were led to believe" being the key word.
Personally, he thought Botan wouldn't do something as low as that. Knowing how loyal Botan was with Koenma and Enma Daiou, she wouldn't have the guts to steal from them. Although, all evidences led to her and to her sudden disappearance, still Kurama wouldn't say she stole it. She had an accomplice. Something must have happened to her that compelled her to use it.
"Something's going on," he thought giving Yusuke a side-long glance. He also noted that Hiei was acting all weird all through out the meeting. He kept on giving Yusuke funny and wondering looks like he knew something and then he would be staring off into space with an almost smug look on his face, engrossed in his own little, demonic world. Usually, Hiei would be frowning and muttering curses during Koenma's antics or possibly walk out but at that particular meeting, he actually stayed and he looked like he was— he was… scheming.
He shook his head mentally. "No, I take that back," he thought. Not only today. Hiei had been acting weird these past two weeks.
After the initial "grocery" shopping the Koorime had wittingly "bullied" him to do alone, still, Hiei had been going to Ningenkai a little more than usual. Although the fire demon took great care not to bump into him during those weird "visits," still the Kitsune could feel his fiery energy around. And with everything going on, he couldn't also help but think that Koenma was hiding something from them. The nagging feeling intensified even more when Kurama noticed the sudden changes with his friends' behaviors, especially with Botan and Yusuke.
If he was not mistaken, the two individuals in question were taking great pains avoiding each other and the last time he heard, Yusuke and Keiko were having problems with their relationship. Kurama's nosy sixth sense couldn't help but think that Botan had something to do with it.
And now, Botan was missing and the fact that for the past nine months, they were unsuccessful in finding her— Hell, they didn't even know if she was still alive or dead (if a deity could even die ;)! Kuwabara was, sadly, losing interest already and Yusuke, much to his disbelief, was actually slacking off. He was not as dedicated into accomplishing this mission unlike in the past and God knows what's going on inside Hiei's complex head. They never really did understand how that Koorime operate anyway and Koenma's getting very, very unbearable…
"I need to talk to Yusuke about this," he vowed mentally noting the strained expression on his friend's face. He supposed that it was high time he knew what was going on about his friends' little secrets.
Kurama blinked as Yusuke's voice boomed in his ears. Before he could recover from the surprise, he stumbled a little forward when the Tantei leader tapped him none too gently on the shoulder. He turned to Yusuke, giving him a tiny smile.
"Hai?" he asked questioningly, as they reached the palace's courtyard.
"I'm going back to Ningenkai," the dark-haired youth said as the young deity channeled her energy and summoned a portal for them. "You coming or do you have to go Yomi's territory instead?" he asked.
Kurama thought for a second. There was no way in hell that he would pay Yomi a visit considering that the Three Makai Triads were holding there quarterly assembly in his territory as they speak. It was an arrangement set up by Enki in hopes of maintaining peace between the warring Makai territories but with Raizen's no-nonsense stubbornness and Mukuro's unyielding temper, add Yomi's harsh indifference, it was not a recipe for peace. It was a mixture for disaster. And Kurama didn't want to be caught in the middle of everything especially when things get ugly.
He looked at Yusuke and shook his head. "No, today's a bad time," he delicately said. "I'm going home with you."
Yusuke's brown eyes lit up. "Heh, I know what you mean," he said chuckling. "I should be there but," he shook his head disgustedly. "Feh! To hell with them! And to hell with him as well!" he cried referring to his forefather. Then he turned around to face Hiei.
"Oi, how about you, Hiei?" he called out. "Aren't you supposed to be with Mukuro?"
Kurama turned around as well only to see the fire demon looking oddly at Yusuke's direction again while holding his right side a little carefully. If Kurama wasn't seeing things, he saw Hiei wince slightly. He frowned. Was he wounded?
"Hn!" Hiei answered while promptly dropping his hand. He gave Yusuke a glare first before turning away.
Yusuke rolled his eyes. "Keh! Whatever!" the younger man remarked flatly, obviously used to his comrade's quick and tempered answers.
"Are you all right, Hiei?" Kurama asked looking at him with concern. After all, the Koorime had come in a little late during their meeting with Koenma and there was this pained look on his usual scowling face when sauntered unannounced inside the office.
"Hn." There was a positive lilt in it that Kurama took a little favorably. "I just had a little run in with a demon," added Hiei.
Kurama frowned while Yusuke turned to him anxiously as well. "Are you wounded?" the fox asked walking towards him.
Hiei instinctively backed away. "No, now leave me alone," he grouched.
"Hey, it might be serious, Hiei," Yusuke seconded, taking a step towards him. "Have Kurama take a look at it."
"Shut up, Tantei," Hiei replied unpleasantly. "It's just a little scratch."
"Are you sure?" Kurama asked worriedly.
"Quit nagging me, you baka Kitsune!" Hiei growled, stopping both of his friends. He glowered at them menacingly. "It's nothing serious. I've already fixed it."
"Fine," Yusuke countered. "Come on, Kurama, let's leave Hiei alone," he added as he made his way towards the portal.
"But Yusuke, he might—"
"If he says he can take care of himself, he can take care of himself," the Tantei said impatiently. He was in no mood to deal with the imp's horrible, err… mood swings that day. He walked towards the portal instead and placed one foot inside it. "I'm going home. You coming?"
Kurama looked at Hiei first and noted the scowl plastered on the demon's face. Seeing that, Kurama knew that Hiei meant business. He knew better than to continuously badger the already irritated Koorime with that look on his face. Sighing, he turned his attentions back at the portal instead only to see Yusuke already throwing himself in.
"Everybody's touché today," he thought stepping in as well. Unbeknownst to him, Hiei followed suit.
After giving the cowering ferry girl one last glare, Hiei went in as well. Apparently, he needed to go to Ningenkai for some "business." It was just a matter of seconds when the two young men found themselves standing in the same old warehouse where Yusuke first fought Hiei.
Sure that he had planted his feet firmly on solid ground, Yusuke then turned to Kurama, sporting a fake but believable grin. "Well, I'll be off then, Kurama," he said facing away from him. The Tantei slid one hand inside his pocket and raised his right hand in mock salute. "Ja!"
He was about to take his first step away from the Youko when Kurama's hand suddenly shot up to touch the other man's shoulder, stopping him "Yusuke, wait," he said. Yusuke turned to him questioningly.
"Nani?" he asked, his eyebrows raising up in a notch.
Kurama stared at Yusuke first, meeting his brown eyes with his green ones. When Yusuke's confused expression turned to that of concern, he slowly let his hand down, sure that he already got the half-demon's unwavering attention. He took a deep breath first.
"Is something wrong, Kurama?" he asked, his voice getting soft.
"I need to talk to you about something," Kurama replied simply. "You have time?"
Yusuke frowned. "Can't that wait?" he asked, sniffing. He lifted his hands and studied his nails. "I have to go somewhere," he lied.
Kurama shook his head. "No," the fox replied, looking at him seriously. He waited for Yusuke to say something.
"Will it be long?"
"Yes," Kurama answered directly.
With that, Yusuke scratched the back of his head as the fox looked at him relentlessly. He was about to refuse but seeing the grave expression on Kurama's delicate features, he finally sighed.
"Fine," the Tantei replied exasperatedly. From the look the fox was giving him, Yusuke had a sudden sinking feeling that Kurama's over-active brain was already suspecting something and judging from the looks Hiei had been giving him— He shook his head mentally, his face hardening. "No, it might be something else," he thought.
"That's good," Kurama smoothly replied raising his left arm to look at his watch. "I'll see you at five? How about in the coffee shop near your place?" he asked finally looking at him.
Yusuke's frown deepened. "Why not now?" he asked.
"I have something important to take care of first," replied Kurama as he slid his hand inside his trouser pocket. Actually that important something was to head home first, have a long, luxurious warm bath, have a glass of his finest wine and forget everything in the mean time. With the way he was working, surely he deserved a break, right? And besides, he had a sudden suspicion that what he would find out from Yusuke later on would be big. He had to relax, clear his head and make room for in order to think clearly.
The other boy rolled his eyes. "Whatever," he said noncommittally. Then without waiting for Kurama to answer, he turned around and took his first step away from the taller man. "This better be good, Kurama," he said in a warning tone. He then raised his hand in mock salute. "Ja na!"
Kurama waited till Yusuke's form disappeared from his sight. Sure that the Tantei had sauntered off to his own business, he sighed while placing long, elegant fingers on the bridge of his nose. He felt him at long last. After a moment, he smiled wearily. He probably wouldn't be able to take his long-awaited bath.
"I didn't know that you're starting to enjoy being here in Ningenkai, Hiei," he said as the small form of the fire demon slowly emerged from the shadows. "You were just here weeks ago to shop for Yukina, hm? You here to shop for her again?" he added good-naturedly. He turned around and gave the fire demon a knowing smile. Maybe Hiei had waited for Yusuke to go first before actually letting him take a look at his wounds. He knew that Yusuke would never give Hiei a moment's peace if he caught the arrogant fire demon asking for his help especially after he condescendingly refused his offer a while ago.
"Hn, don't be stupid, fox," Hiei grumbled as he neared the red-head, his hands inside his pockets. When he stood before him and noticed the amused sheen in his green eyes, he scowled, ignoring the pain on the right side of his torso. "I didn't come here because I want to," he added.
"Oh," Kurama murmured thoughtfully, raising his eyebrows questioningly. "So why did you suddenly decide to grace the "baka" human world with your superior presence, hmm?" he asked curiously. There was a subtle sarcasm lilt in his usual gentle voice. Then he frowned noting the smirk on the fire demon's face. "Because if you're going to ask me to do Yukina's "errand" again, the answer is no. I'm about to—" Actually, "ask" was not the word. Hiei didn't ask him the first time, he bullied him.
The fire demon closed his eyes momentarily, ignoring Kurama's attempt to be cynical. He knew the nosy fox would ask him that. In all the years he had known him, Kurama never really did lose his annoying curious nature. It was his bad luck that the stupid buffoon was not here. Normally, he would trick Kuwabara into doing the task himself like what he had been doing the past two weeks. He would only have to say the magic words which only consisted of "Yukina asked me to tell you she needed those" and off the stupid Ningen would go, no questions asked. Kuwabara had been easy to manipulate unlike Kurama but he would have to do with the fox for now. He just needed to be careful.
"Mukuro sent me here," he finally replied in a clipped tone.
This time, Kurama frowned, his curiosity aroused even more. "Why on earth would Mukuro send you here?" he asked as his right hand went up to loosen his tie. He never knew Mukuro also find Ningenkai interesting. The last time he checked, that woman was too busy minding her own realm.
"The blasted onna suddenly found Ningen food interesting," he said finally while averting his gaze. Well, that was, in a way, the truth, wasn't it? "It was a stupid onna who needed the stupid Ningen food, right?" his insides justified.
"The Koorime is hiding something," Youko, the demon inside him, suddenly said. First it was Yukina, now it's Mukuro? Hmm… Fishy, really fishy…"I can't believe this stupid Ningen body of mine is actually buying it!"
With that, Kurama's eyes twitched. "Don't tell me Mukuro sent you here to—" he paused as he tried to contain his laughter. Mental pictures of a very homey-looking Hiei, pushing a cart, grocery shopping swam inside his head. It was unthinkable and funny but then again, it was— a little scary. It didn't exactly paint a pretty picture. When Hiei gave him a deathly glare, he forced out a cough to mask the building amusement within him.
"So she sent you here to go shopping?" he asked bleakly. "Just like Yukina?" he added lamely. It was quite surprising to him how those two women could make Hiei do things he absolutely hated doing. He shook his head, his weariness temporarily forgotten. They simply never failed to amaze him.
"Shut up, Kurama," spat Hiei darkly, interrupting his thoughts. Then he turned around, his back facing him. "Get a move on! I'll go with you this time!" Oh yeah, he must not forget to ask Kurama about those stupid baby things too, he suddenly remembered.
Kurama raised his eyebrows at him. "Well, I don't recall saying that I'd be coming with you," he said in a light, mocking voice. He ran his fingers through his hair habitually while looking at him, clearly amused. "Do it yourself this time. Or better yet, why not ask Mukuro to "shop" with you?" he said innocently.
At that, Hiei turned to him again and this time, he glared daggers at his direction. He fumed even more upon noting the amused look Kurama gave him. The moronic Kitsune was finding this amusing!
"You're coming with me, Kurama, whether you like it or not," he threatened menacingly. "And I'm warning you, you baka Kitsune. No unnecessary and stupid questions!"
Youko smirked. "Yep, he's definitely hiding something,"
Kurama pretended to think it over. He stared at Hiei and somehow felt sorry for the little Koorime. He had noticed that Mukuro's habits were getting weirder and weirder by the second and Lord only knows how Hiei could endure whatever insanities she had up her sleeves. Now, it was Ningen food! He shook his head mentally. Who knew Hiei could be this tolerating? Of course, he would always help a friend in need and looking at Hiei, the fire demon clearly didn't even have a single idea on how to buy food the Ningen way. And besides, he couldn't make Hiei do that task ALONE. He didn't exactly go with him the first time he bought food for, ahem, "Yukina" so naturally, Hiei didn't know the ropes of "shopping etiquette." He might steal something or worse, lose patience falling in line and terrorize some people. Inadvertently, Hiei needed his help and he had a good and effective way of asking for it.
"Plus, this is entertainment," thought Kurama. It was not everyday you see Hiei grocery shopping, right? He was thinking of bringing his car, a white Toyota, which was inconspicuously parked at the back of the warehouse but thought better of it. He knew Hiei would never, ever ride in one of those "stupid human contraptions," as he would call it.
He sighed resignedly. "Say the magic word first," he finally said after a long moment of silence.
"Do you have a death wish?" he scowled as Kurama walked towards him.
The other young man shrugged as he gracefully shoved his hands inside his trouser pockets. "Good enough," he said decidedly as they slowly made their way out of the storage house, intent on going to Tokyo's busy shopping district. Oh, it was going to be a long day for the tired fox. He took a deep, strained breath.
"There goes my long luxurious bath," Kurama thought sadly as he followed Hiei's lead.
"Like this, Ms. Botan?"
Botan pursed her lips as she stared at Hame who was currently perched on Hiei's window, holding Ichiro. Sure of the lighting outside, she nodded. Smiling, she positioned her camera against her face and took aim.
"Great! Now smile!" she said. When Hame broke into a demonic grin, she giggled. "Hame-san, I said smile not scowl," she added, lowering the camera down.
Hame frowned. "This is how I smile," he said, frowning while struggling to keep Ichiro in place. He looked at the baby and smiled. Who would've thought that the babe would grow up this fast? Now he was having trouble holding it since it was gurgling and squirming madly against his arms.
Botan rolled her eyes. "Goodness, you're becoming Hiei every single day," she said, staring at him. "Did he also forbid you to smile?" When Hame gave her no heed, she frowned and was about to walk towards him to're-arrange' his face when suddenly she noticed him looking at Ichiro with a soft smile on his face. Perfect! Without any warning, she positioned her camera again and took aim.
Hame looked up as the flash went off, surprised. "What was that?" he asked, looking at the black object on her hand curiously. "Is it over?"
"Hai, hai," she nodded while walking towards Hiei's table, which was currently cluttered with photo albums and pictures. She never expected that she had so many pictures of the gang. Apparently, Botan decided that it was a lovely day to work on her photo albums.
"It's called a camera, Hame-san," she explained as the kind demon placed Ichiro on the bed. The baby in turn, gurgled happily as it let himself romp and crawl on the enormous sheets. "When I have the film inside developed, it would go out looking something like this," she added, pointing at the scattered pictures on the table.
Hame frowned and walked towards the desk. He took one photo and studied it curiously. Botan stared at him, amused. When Hame poked the image, Botan laughed, remembering Hiei's first encounter with the camera. Well, it was a good thing that Hame didn't exactly go ballistic when the flash went off unlike Hiei who nearly sliced her camera into sixteen pieces when they took a stolen shot of him. Apparently, it was the bright flash that startled the unsuspecting youkai. He was screaming and swearing, claiming that the demonic thing blinded him. Of course, it wasn't any better for the Koorime when they started howling with laughter. She sighed. Ah, those were the happy days.
"So, that flash of light freezes everything it catches?" Hame asked, interrupting Botan's musings.
He frowned as he took another pile, leafing through them. He saw their happy group pictures and some pictures of the legendary Kurama, all smiling and looking gentle. His eyes widened even more seeing Raizen's heir grinning cockily and there was a considerable number of shots of his master too and all of it consisted of his usual scowling face… Looking at the pictures, the demon could tell that they were, friends, in Ningen terms. Judging from the happy, smiling faces— well, wasn't it that his master chose to harbor this woman under his care? Does that mean that Hiei did exactly have friends? The thought somewhat disturbed him. He couldn't picture his cold and ruthless master to have friends and to actually keep them but then this woman was a living proof of that. He shook his head mentally. Nah, it was not his business anyway.
"Well, I wouldn't exactly call it freezing," Botan answered as she took a seat in front of the table and began leafing through her pictures. "It merely captures anything you want. Good for preserving memories, you know."
"Ah, sou ka," Hame replied as though enlightened. He lightly brought the pictures down on the table, careful not damage it anyway. His very literal youkai intelligence about Ningen technology actually made him extra careful so as not to damage "Botan's memories." A smile of utter happiness grazed his face. He would exactly be a part of Botan's memories! It would be an honor! Botan had been nothing but kind to him, always asking him if he was hungry and actually offering him Ningen food. He never knew that Ningen food tasted great! Much better than what they have here. It was softer, much tastier. He couldn't wait to find out what Botan would cook for dinner that coming night.
"Hame-san, do you think Hiei's going to be back soon?" she asked after a moment, oblivious to what was going on inside his head.
"I don't exactly know," Hame replied thoughtfully. "I'm not exactly sure if Hiei-sama went with Mukuro-sama to Yomi's territory for their quarterly gathering."
Botan's face fell. "Oh, I see," she muttered.
She knew about the Makai Triad's quarterly meetings. And she knew better than to ask Hiei for additional baby supplies when he gets back. Actually, to put it bluntly, it shouldn't be called quarterly meetings at all. It should be called quarterly squabbles. One could only imagine the chaos in there if you mix the three hotheads together in one room. The meeting would undoubtedly be stressful for everybody especially for Hiei since he was, after all, Mukuro's heir. Let's just say that it wouldn't be very pretty if she suddenly decides to badger Hiei to buy some diapers for Ichiro when he gets back.
"But Ichiro's running out of diapers and I'm running out of Ningen food to cook," she thought, looking at her baby helplessly. "If only I could go out myself," she added thinking furiously. But she knew it was terribly out of the question. Then her eyes settled on Hame's face. What if she asked him to buy something for her? Just this once? But then— she shook her head, deciding against it. Hame didn't have a single clue on what Ningenkai's like much less go shopping there. And besides, if she sent Hame, she would never hear the end of it from Hiei. He would be furious.
"Is something the matter, Ms Botan?" Hame asked suddenly. Whatever it was, he would be glad to help.
Botan blinked. "Uh, no," she said, shaking her head, giving him a light smile. Then she focused her attentions back to her pictures, humming while carefully gluing them and sticking them in her albums in an orderly fashion. She chose not to think of her dilemma as of the moment. She would deal with it when Hiei gets back.
After a moment, Hame spoke up. "Um, Ms. Botan?"
Botan looked up, quite surprised to see Hame still standing there. "Yes, Hame-san?" she asked, raising her eyebrows.
"Well, I was just wondering if the child needs to go out," he said timidly. "For some fresh air or—"
Botan pursed her lips to keep from giggling. "You want to take him out?" she asked delightedly.
The gentle demon scratched his head and smiled. "Well, if you like, I could—"
Botan shook his head. "Be my guest, Hame-san," she replied, gesturing for him to take Ichiro out. And with that, she stood up and dressed Ichiro with his little hat and gloves and his tiny jacket. Smiling, she lifted the baby from the bed and handed him to Hame who was more than willing to carry him. "This way, I could finish my album as well," she added as Hame and Ichiro waved goodbye, promising to go as far as to Mukuro's spirit barrier only.
All alone, Botan smiled wistfully. If there was one demon in Mukuro's realm that she trusted with her baby, it would be Hame. The kind demon had been spending most of his free time with her, helping her with Ichiro, making sure to relay everything that she needed to his master. She could also tell that the demon was quite fond of Ichiro since he would always volunteer to take Ichiro out for some sun every morning right after his training.
She decided to place herself on top of the bed and think.
Actually, the past two weeks was quite surprising for the ferry onna. Hiei hadn't given her a definite answer after their talk that night. He didn't exactly say yes or no but she found herself staying here quite comfortably for the past two weeks, without any sort of complaints and protests from him. As a matter of fact, the fire demon was careful enough not to be left alone with her. He would be gone when she wakes up and would stay out all day, doing some errands and God-know-what all through out the day. Then he would return only when she was already fast asleep. She just came to a sudden conclusion that Hiei didn't use his bed at all. He would just prop himself against his window and close his eyes. Botan wasn't even sure if he was sleeping or just resting. Then she would wake up the next morning to find him gone again. It was a never ending cycle and honestly, she was getting sick of it. Admittedly, she was becoming lonely. Even with Hame's and Nobu's visits, still she felt alone. Hiei was the only demon she was familiar with. After all, they had worked together for the past couple of years, going out on missions and hanging out… Having just one decent conversation with him would certainly make a difference.
And speaking of Hiei, Botan was not really sure on what to make of that fire demon. She was led to believe that Hiei was aloof, cold-hearted and ruthless to boot. The truth was, Botan was scared of him. She was even afraid to go near him. Sometimes, she couldn't really understand how Yusuke and Kurama or even Kuwabara did it. Hiei's social graces drastically improved when he got to know the gang. Never did she imagine that she would be living quite peacefully with him under one roof.
Another surprising thing that she discovered about Hiei was-- it didn't occur to her that Hiei, too, was a— well, a good provider.
Just looking at the baby things and clothes and Ningen food plus the yukata she was wearing— she smiled, while shaking her head, her hands automatically smoothing out her cotton yukata. She had on a bright yellow yukata that was doing wonders against her light blue mane. It was a nice contrast against her hair and eyes. Botan didn't have any idea when and why Hiei also thought of buying her clothes but she sure was touched when Hiei got her yukatas.
Actually, she preferred comfortable Ningen clothes but who was she to complain? It was good enough that Hiei bought loose cotton yukatas instead of kimonos. And besides, he was not really familiar with Ningen clothes, right? She'd rather wear these than mismatched and clashing outfits. He actually bought her five; pink (much to her delight), yellow; white, dark blue, and of course, black. At first, the black yukata with white snowflake prints at the bottom raised her eyebrows but it got her thinking. Probably, the Koorime couldn't resist buying black. It was, after all, his favorite color.
But with all that, deep inside, she knew that Hiei was only doing this because he was merely keeping his part of the bargain. After all, the fire demon had this complex honor code that he followed faithfully, right? He actually refused her when she, one time, handed him some of the Ningen money she had managed to grab to buy some milk for Ichiro. She just woke up one afternoon after her nap, all the milk her son needed laid on the table and the money still on the shelf, untouched. Somehow, the action was disturbing. The thought of owing Hiei something was a little scary. You never know what that demented demon brain of his would ask in return. And her debts were piling up fast. She mentally scolded herself for being actually giddy at the thought of Hiei helping her.
She sighed and looked at the window. She decided to rid herself with those thoughts. Lately, she had been thinking a lot about him. Well, one couldn't blame her though. The fire demon was becoming an enigma to her. He would be cold most of the time but one couldn't exactly explain the time when she caught him staring at Ichiro first, as if making sure that he was all right, before leaving the room. He would be a good provider, giving her all the she and her baby needed but would always stubbornly refuse to eat the food that she painstakingly prepared for him.
She shook her head and stood up, forgetting her pictures for a moment. Hame and Ichiro would be back any moment. "And they would be expecting dinner," her mind added as she stepped out of the chamber to make her way towards the mess hall while greeting several demons she met on the way. The demons, if not friendly, took to her with utmost courtesy and respect, which made her a little uneasy. She wondered if this was Mukuro-sama's or Hiei's doing but little did Botan know that the demons in Mukuro's realm automatically assumed that she was their General's woman. Of course, whether it was the truth or not, nobody in their right mind dared ask her what the real score was. Everybody knew that her "mate" wasn't exactly the tolerating type.
Reaching the mess hall, Botan found herself frowning upon noting the mess and junk that greeted her. As usual, the sink was cluttered with dirty pots and pans. The huge table was cluttered with piles of dirty dishes and there were servant demons loitering around, giving her no particular attention. It seemed to her that they were used to seeing her there. Her presence was actually mundane for them now. Scratching her head, she automatically went to her own cupboard in her own little space to get her ingredients. She shooed the overwhelming urge to clean the mess hall away as she busied herself with her cooking.
"I see that Mukuro's not exactly the homey type," she muttered, making sure to make some extra for Hame and Hiei, should the stubborn Koorime decide to join them. If not, then she could always have Nobu eat it, anyway. The demons seemed to love her cooking. She smiled as she washed two pans. It was all thanks to Momoko-san.
After the task, she smiled and congratulated herself, looking at the scrumptious dinner she had prepared. Thanking the female demon servant who helped her, she placed everything on her enormous tray and showed herself out of the hall with the intention of getting to her room as quickly as possible.
Slightly wincing with pain, he trudged on towards his private quarters. After the strenuous meeting he had with Hame, which practically took all night (he was, after all, in charge of the realm in Mukuro's absence), he was already feeling dead tired. His wound was already getting to him and he found himself grumbling as he shoved the door open to his room, intent on using the bandages he had bought earlier. He was about to bang the door shut when he suddenly saw Botan, lying on the bed, her baby a little away beside her, already fast asleep. Gritting his teeth in annoyance, he forced himself to close the door with a small click, afraid of waking the child up and having it wailing all through out the night.
He silently padded his way inside the room and looked at Botan first. Sure that the onna was fast asleep, he allowed himself to limp a little and purposely made for the bed. Due to a developed habit, he peered at the child first. Noting the gentle rising and falling of its chest, Hiei gave a satisfied grunt while turning away. He was half-hoping that the child would rouse from sleep though he didn't know why. It was actually funny. Hiei couldn't really leave the castle without giving the child a peek first. Admittedly, that was also the first thing that he does whenever he gets back. Of course, he was careful not to let the baka onna see or he would never have a moment's peace.
He then walked towards the table and was pleased to see all the shopping bags already there just as he had instructed. Gingerly, he fished out the bandages, cotton and the anti-septic that Kurama had bullied him to buy (Was it me or did Kurama know that I really needed it? Hiei asked himself wonderingly) from one of the bags and quickly walked towards his window. Setting the things aside, he carefully took his cloak off then his shirt only to reveal a nasty gash on the right side of his torso.
He swore as the blood immediately gushed out of the wound. He had underestimated the demon. Although he was able to kill it, he was seriously wounded in the process. He didn't quite expect that the demon was strong.
"It wasn't strong," his ego suddenly said. "You are just becoming rusty. When was the last time you trained, anyway?"
Yeah, that was probably it, his insides reasoned out as he opened the bottle of anti-septic. With all happening around him, having Botan and her brat staying here and Mukuro's temporary departure, Hiei barely had the time to train. And with those realizations, he vowed to make time for his training as he poured the stinging liquid mercilessly on the cut.
He hissed with pain as the liquid touched the raw flesh.
And that was all it took.
Botan stirred. Unbeknownst to the demon, the woman was only half-asleep. Hearing the soft hiss of pain, she slowly opened her eyes only to seem, looking for the source. Then her lethargic eyes saw Hiei perched on his window, shirtless, injured and all bloody.
"Shit," Hiei thought upon hearing Botan's soft voice. "Now the stupid woman would pester me about this!" With that thought, he summoned the nastiest glare he could muster and bestowed it upon the blue-haired woman. The last thing that needed right now was to have this annoying woman fussing over his injury.
Seeing the wound, her eyes widened. Ignoring the look he gave her, Botan immediately shrugged the covers aside and hopped out of bed, now fully awake. "Hiei, you're wounded," she cried softly while padding towards him. "What happened? Let me see." Her voice was filled with worry.
The demon rolled his eyes. "No, shit," he replied sarcastically. Then he gave Botan a look that says You-Touch-Me-And-You-Die. "Don't start with me, baka onna," he began in a warning tone. "Leave me alone. I can do this by myself."
Botan shook her head stubbornly. "But you're doing it all wrong," she protested. "Look at the wound, it's still bleeding uncontrollably!" she cried softly, her eyes landing on the torn skin. She took a deep breath as her eyes traveled down. "And look!" she said pointing at the blood staining the floor. "You're leaving a mess everywhere!"
Botan took a deep, patient breath as she stretched out her hand. "Hiei, give me those. You're doing it all wrong! And look at the gash! It's too deep and—" She stopped as Hiei looked at her. Then much to her surprise, the Koorime let out a humorless laugh. She frowned. "And what is so amusing?" she asked, placing her hands on her hips.
"You," the fire demon replied simply.
Her frown deepened as she shook her head. "I don't really understand that demented brain of yours, Hiei, and frankly I won't waste my time figuring it out. And I can't believe you still had the grace to laugh. Well, I hardly find this amusing and just by looking—"
Hiei chuckled sarcastically. And that raised Botan's ire even more. She made a step towards the fire demon, her eyes alight with annoyance. Was he laughing at her?
"You really don't know how to shut your trap even if your life depended on it, do you, you baka onna?" he rasped while he tried his best not to wince with pain.
"And what is that supposed to mean?" she asked haughtily.
Hiei smirked at her. "You can't keep your mouth shut for 5 measly seconds," he said. The tone of his voice was even, as if he had said nothing out of the ordinary. "And I'm willing to bet my life on it," he added surely.
"Are you telling me that I'm a nagger?" she asked shrilly. She couldn't believe it! The stupid fire demon still found the energy to insult her after she solicitously offered him her help! With that, she gritted her teeth and waited for him to say something.
"Hn, you're the one who said it."
Arg! Botan rolled her eyes. Stubborn and stupid Hiei! To hell with him! She was not a nagger! She was just concerned! Since when did being concerned become nagging?
"Fine! Be that way!" She took a step backwards. "Do it yourself! I don't care! Just don't go blaming me if that wound gets worse or infected."
Hiei looked at her with a bored expression on his face. "Five seconds." Was all he said as he raised his right palm up for effect. He smirked at her knowingly.
"Was that a dare?" Botan found herself asking. Upon noting the knowing look on Hiei's face, she superciliously turned her head away from him and made for her bed. She crossed her arms over her chest and sat down, determined to win the silent dare the Koorime had laid before her. She pursed her lips and looked at him darkly. There was no way in this world that she would give Hiei the satisfaction of winning.
Seeing that, Hiei turned his attentions back to his wounds. Taking a hold of the anti-septic, he once again, poured the clear liquid on the cut. He gritted his teeth to keep from crying out. Truth be told, it was very painful even for a strong youkai like him.
Botan swallowed hard as more blood poured out. She bit her lower lip to keep from saying something but when Hiei proceeded to wipe the wound with his used cloak, her jaw dropped. Before she could stop it, the words were already flowing out of her mouth.
"Hiei, that is unsanita—"
Hearing her voice, the fire demon immediately turned to her sharply, silencing her. Noting the look, Botan stopped abruptly and took a deep breath. She took her eyes away from him and decided to just busy herself with something else like staring at the alarm clock on the bedside table. Her pink eyes bored through the poor clock as she tried her best to keep herself from looking at him.
Hiei shook his head and continued tending his wound. He wiped the gash none too gently with his cloak and before he could hold it back, a hiss of pain escaped his lips. Hearing that, Botan turned to him, wincing.
"Come on, just let me—"
Hiei smirked at her and raised one finger as a warning sign. "Five seconds, onna," he said softly.
The woman's small mouth closed then it opened then it closed again. Then deciding against it, she looked away and pouted. She laid her hands on her lap, her fingers intertwined as if she was trying her best to hold the urge to snatch and tend him herself.
Hiei then grunted with satisfaction upon hearing nothing more from her.
Only the ticking sound of the clock could be heard…
Sure that Botan would not utter another word, he then proceeded to clean the wound in blissful silence.
Botan furiously tried to think of other things other than Hiei's wounds as she propped her chin against her hand.
When his "dirty" hands accidentally poked a sensitive part of the torn flesh, another grunt of pain went out of his lips.
And Botan decided that it was enough. Losing, winning-- it didn't matter anymore. Let him win and gloat about it! Standing up, she furiously made her way towards the stubborn fire demon, determined to get the job done herself.
"You see!" she cried out in a hushed tone. "You're doing it wrong! You're not supposed to immediately pour medicine on it, Hiei. You have to stop the bleeding first! And you don't use that cloak! That's dirty! You have to use a clean cloth! And your hands! For crying out loud, Hiei, at your age—" And she continuously rambled on while snatching the things away from his hands.
Hiei rolled his eyes in annoyance. "Arg! You baka onna! You see, I was right!" he grunted as Botan stood before him, rattling on. "Will you, just for once, shut up?" Apparently he was too annoyed to even gloat about winning the bet.
"No, you shut up and let me work in peace, okay?" she said as she proceeded to take a bunch of clean linen from one of her drawers. Completely powerless to stop her now, Hiei finally submitted and could do nothing but glare at her.
Ignoring the look he gave her, Botan, ever so gently, wiped the skin till even the sides of the wound were already clean. Taking a seat beside him, she took another cloth and placed it on top of the wound to suppress the bleeding. She continuously repeated the process in attempt to stop the blood from pouring out.
"So, you didn't go with Mukuro-sama?" she asked after a moment as she gently pressed another cloth on the wound.
He shook his head as he fought to keep a straight face. "Nobu went with her," he replied shortly.
"Sou ka," she replied softly as she replaced the already soaked cloth with another one. She did it twice before the bleeding actually stopped. Heaving a relieved sigh, she took the bandages from him. Then after a moment, she sighed. "I'm sorry for treating your wound this way, Hiei. I could've treated it much better with spirit energy but you do understand that it is out of the question, right?" she added as she unrolled the bandages.
He looked at her. "Hn," he finally replied, looking away.
"I need you to sit straighter, kudasai," she said while leaning on him. Hiei complied and Botan proceeded to wrap the bandages around his injured side.
Hiei found himself shutting up, his mind busy thinking about how almost painless it was when Botan tended it. He then found his eyes unwillingly settling itself on her face which was dangerously close to his. His eyes narrowed as he studied the onna's face.
Botan still had those unusual pink, smiling eyes that would turn to lavender and purple depending on her mood. She still had the same silliness and cheerfulness of her features as he noted the shape of her lips, which was always quirked up with a ready grin. She still had the same blue hair, the same small nose, the same stupid, irritating laugh, the same unstoppable mouth but with all those, there was something different. He mentally shook his head as he stared at the onna more closely, looking for it.
And there he saw it.
Shadowed by her ready smile was a woman who had known many hardships.
She was not the same Botan he used to know. She was not the same Botan who knew nothing but to laugh, act silly and stupid. She was not the same carefree and idiotic girl he had met. Unconsciously, she had matured before his eyes. Sitting before him, tending him with care, was a woman. She was not a girl anymore. She had turned into a woman who had a taste of how hard life could be. It was clear to him that Botan struggled when she ran away from Rei Kai. He may not know how but it was obvious to him that the onna already felt the lowest moment of her after life. But much to his surprise, the woman he had deemed as weak and helpless before actually managed to fight through it independently. It never occurred to him that Botan was indeed-- a survivor.
And that thought amazed him.
But then, his male eyes didn't stop there.
Along with those assumptions came the physical changes in the onna. She was looking so soft and gentle, her eyes having those lovely purple sheen on them. Her blue hair which was usually up in a ponytail was free of their elastic prison. It cascaded down to her unusually err… he swallowed hard in spite of himself… generous breast and she was emanating the sweetest scent as far as his youkai nose could tell. His eyes going down, he noted that the onna matured physically too. Other than her chest, he also noted the slim waist, the pleasantly rounded hips and even with the fabric of her sleepwear covering them, he could tell that she had these long, slim legs just by looking at her slender hands and wrist.
Seeing those, a new feeling of respect and subtle attraction for the onna surged up within him. It was disturbing and confusing at the same time but—
"Yosh!" Botan said as she tied the last knot securely in place. He grunted as her over genki voice interrupted his thoughts. She looked at Hiei and smiled. "You're all done now." She stood up and meticulously put the things away, cleaning the mess.
"Hn!" He looked away wordlessly. Because of the new found feeling for the onna, Hiei found himself having a difficult time looking at her. He remained his eyes on his window as he carefully bended his right knee and perched his right arm on it. He rested his bare back against the rough surface of the stone wall, heaving a small sigh.
Botan shook her head as she saw Hiei lost again in his small world. She bit her lip thoughtfully. This was her chance to talk to him. Besides, she was not feeling so sleepy anymore. Having him for company, surely, would not be so bad, right? And so, fixing a smile on her face, she bounded up to the fire demon's relaxed form.
"Cat got your tongue?" she asked walking towards him.
Hiei turned to her slowly in a half-lidded gaze. "Hn." Then without so much another word, he turned his attentions back to his window again.
Botan frowned at this. What was so special about that window anyway? Crossing her arms over her chest, she tilted her head. "Why do you keep on looking at that window anyway, Hiei?" she asked wonderingly. "Is there something special about it?"
The Koorime stared at her first. When Botan was sure that the he wouldn't say anything more, she laid her hands on her side and took a step backwards, intent on leaving the demon alone, giving up. So much for trying, she thought sarcastically. Hiei would never change. She was about to turn around and accept defeat when Hiei's deep voice resonated inside the chamber.
"Why don't you see for yourself?" he drawled out.
At that, the onna smiled with genuine pleasure as her curiosity got the better of her. She made her way closer to him and looked out as well. After a moment, Botan sighed. "It's—" she paused, her eyes widening. "It's beautiful." She shook her head with wonder. Nothing had prepared her for this.
Seeing the look of appreciation etched on the woman's face, Hiei moved his legs closer to him, giving her room to sit on as an invitation. She plopped herself down beside him and smoothed her sleeping yukata first, giggling softly. Hiei momentarily closed his eyes before turning his attentions back to the view outside.
Hiei's window gave a majestic view of the enormous lake just a little outside of Mukuro's realm. Her eyes danced upon seeing the dark water glittering against the bright Makai moon, illuminating it, making the small waves seem like little diamonds floating mindlessly. Botan's eyes darted up only to see the moon shining brighter than ever in the starless sky. She frowned. She never expected that the moon appeared bigger and brighter here in the Demon World. Then she smiled softly, casting her eyes down. Who would've thought that Hiei enjoyed peaceful moments like this? She had always thought that he liked killing and training and taking over the world but this was a bit different. She looked at him in the corner of her eyes only to find him staring at the view as well, his face soft and almost gentle. Seeing that, Botan wondered what the fire demon was thinking about.
And they sat there in comfortable silence. Unconsciously, Hiei was already showing Botan the different side of his personality. Ignoring her presence, he let out a deep breath as he carelessly lifted his right hand and raked it against his black hair. The sudden movement made Botan jump, slightly surprised. She whipped her head to the side and looked at the male sitting beside her.
"I never knew Hiei is attractive," her insides immediately said when her eyes landed once again on his face. She had to admit, she liked Hiei this way better. The almost sad and quiet look on his face brought out the crimson hue of his eyes even more. Before, when one said the word 'attractive,' Kurama would always pop in her head but— as if having a mind of their own, her eyes trailed down only to settle themselves on the demon's chest. She took a deep breath, her eyes stubbornly resisting her brain's command to turn away.
"Wow," she whispered to herself upon seeing his smooth, white skin. At that time, much to her pleasure, Hiei closed his eyes to rest. Noting that, she resumed her observation more freely.
For a demon male, Hiei sure had an almost porcelain skin. It looked soft and smooth to the touch. She swallowed hard as her eyes traversed from his lean chest to his abdomen then to his arms… she wondered how those strong arms would feel around her. In her opinion, he had the nicest built even with his small stature. He was neither brawny nor thin. He was actually lean and slim with all the muscles and the fat in the right places. She bit her lip as a sudden physical attraction for the Koorime hit her. She had seen Hiei without the shirt on, in fact, so many times but now, right this very moment, he was— it was different… He was looking different in her eyes. It was a good kind of different and frankly she didn't know why and what it was. It was a good thing that he kept his eyes closed or he would surely—
Botan blinked and was horrified to see his ruby red eyes already open and staring at her sharply. Completely embarrassed, she blushed and hurriedly turned her attentions at the view outside. Oh God, he had seen her! She didn't want to die!
"N—nothing," she stammered. "I was just," she paused and cleared her throat. "I was just checking to see if— the bandages are still intact." She scrunched her eyes closed. Ooh, that was so lame, she lamented to herself.
Hiei raised one eyebrow. "Right, bandages" his ego sarcastically said. But he merely grunted as he reached for his shirt, quickly putting it on.
He didn't know why but all of a sudden, having her seeing him shirtless affected him so much, made him uneasy and a little embarrassed. She had actually seen him in the worst state before, with or without the shirt on, but now he couldn't really exactly point out why he was feeling so uneasy. And if he was not mistaken, the onna was surely "checking him out" earlier. Even with his eyes closed, he could still feel her eyes on him. Unwillingly, it made him wonder. What does she think? Did she find him unsightly? Did she find the nasty gash appalling? But then— He smirked, remembering the pink tints grazing the onna's cheeks a while ago. It was just a pity that he spoke too soon before he could probe her mind of her thoughts. Admittedly, he was curious.
Feeling uncomfortable, the disconcerting and confusing feelings already creeping him out, Hiei stood up abruptly. He reached for his soiled cloak and his trusty Katana. He needed to get out of here. He needed to be away from her. She was doing things to him without her being aware of it and he didn't like it one bit. The past two weeks had been nothing but crazy and—
"Where are you going?" Botan suddenly asked as he latched his Katana on his waist securely.
"Out," he replied as he slipped on his cloak.
"At this time of night?" she asked, standing up as well. She shook her head. "Hiei, you're wounded and—"
"In case you haven't noticed, I haven't eaten yet," Hiei replied shortly as he made for the door. "I need to go out and hunt."
"But I— I made dinner. I made something for you as well. You can have that in the mean time," she called out to his retreating form. When Hiei paid her no heed, she sighed tiredly and walked towards him. "Please Hiei," she began upon reaching him. "You're wounded and I doubt, in your state, right now, you'll get something good and—"
"Leave me alone, onna," he said but his voice was soft but final.
With that, Botan frowned and stepped back. "Fine, I give up! Go out then," she said clearly displeased. "See if you can get something there and— No, I take that back. I hope you don't get anything. You're very stubborn and reckless and I hope that--" And she rambled things again, all not too friendly to his ears.
Hearing the tone of her voice, Hiei shook his head and rolled his eyes. The stupid onna couldn't really keep her mouth shut for long. He shrugged and opened the door. He was about to take a step out when his eyes unwillingly landed on the sleeping infant. After giving the baby a quick glance, he stepped out and closed the door with a soft click.
Infuriated of having been ignored, Botan padded her way towards her bed and lay down. Grumbling about stupid and stubborn fire demons who wanted to hunt at the middle of the night, she pulled the covers to her chin and closed her eyes tightly. Good riddance to him then, she thought, as she fought hard for sleep. Thankfully, in just a minute, the deal about Hiei was already forgotten as Botan suddenly found herself relaxing as deep, peaceful slumber took over her.
The next morning, she woke up alone. But much to her surprise and delight, she found the tray nowhere in sight and all the plates clean and spotless on top of the table. She giggled while standing up to clean the mess he had left behind. She shook her head as she picked the plates up. Hiei really needed to work on his manners, she thought.
And the food?
Well, the food was all gone.
To be continued…
Was it boring? Dragging? Heh, sorry ::scratches head:: I must admit, the chapters are getting longer and longer as I go…
Yusuke: No, you just love to talk a lot.
Reiko: Whatever… Anyway, time to thank the beautiful people!
timeless – Thank you for finding the time to read the story. Wow, thanks for the nice compliment about Hiei… to tell you honestly, I'm having a hard time keeping him in character. But I'll try my best!
H/B Fan – Thank you very much! I think that's the reason why they keep on getting longer. I'm paying too much attention to details. I don't know, I think it's a good idea to also write something about what they are feeling and thinking in detail. But again, thanks!
fath8252 – Heh, who doesn't love the so-called 'romantic tension?' In this chapter, I'm opting for the 'physical tension.' I don't know, I just believe that the romance and emotions always come after the physical err… impulse between a man and a woman. Thank you so much and I hope you liked this one too. ::hugs tightly:: I like getting hugs too!
Botan: I'm—I'm not liking this one bit… ::blushes::
Reiko: Really, Botan dear?
Botan: Rea—really… I just—
Reiko: Look! ::points behind Botan:: There's Hiei!
Botan: ::whips around:: Where? Where?
Reiko: LOL! Made you look!
Distant Voice – I'm just glad that you don't mind the long chapters. And about the Shikigamis, why don't you try looking them up in the net. I got them from the anime Yami No Matsui. You will see how gorgeous those guys are from that anime!
Kurama: Actually Shizuka, I also couldn't help but ask that. Do I look like I always have the answer to everything?
All: ::nods:: Yup! Yes!
Kurama: ::sighs:: Sometimes I hate being me!
About Yusuke, well, this chapter is a sort of prologue on what would happen with him and Keiko. Kurama's getting a little suspicious about everything. As for Keiko finding out, well lets just say that there is a bigger possibility that she will… Hehehehe…
Kurama: ::turns to Yusuke:: I sympathize for you man. ::pats Yusuke on the back::
Yusuke:: ::turns pale:: Gulp!
Hiei: You're a dead man walking, Tantei, my condolences.
Ele Goddess of Elements – I'm so sorry about that and thank you very much for pointing that out. And yes, I'm aware that it was actually Ruri who threw him off the cliff but when I was writing that chapter, I was always using Hiei's point of view about the matter. Anyway, I apologize if that chapter may have caused some questions, misunderstandings and misconceptions about everything. Thanks again! ::hugs::
Nishigirl – Yah, I believe that's what mother's do, ne? And I do believe that Botan deserves some happiness so I'll try my best to give her that… Thank you!
Reiko: Oh, actually, it was Hiei's job to do that, right? ::nudges Hiei::
Hiei: ::blush:: Shut up, baka onna!
Vashlover9 – Thank you and I'll just do that then! If it'll make you happy… Hehehehe… I do hope you don't mind if I temporarily stopped writing the past week. I could've finished this a week before but I had a very high fever running… ::sigh:: Never thought that at my age, I could still get horribly sick!
Suki-Saki-14 – The 'removing the shirt' thing was just on impulse. Why not make Botan a little daring, right? And yes, I think that Botan would make a wonderful mommy. I just hope that my writing skill would do that too. Thank you so much!
Hiei: I thought I said that you're dead if the next chapter's not decent?
Reiko: For goodness sake Hiei don't be a hypocrite! Tell me you didn't like that!
Hiei: I didn't!
Botan: ::comes up from behind him:: So what's that supposed to mean?
Reiko: You couldn't take your eyes off her, moron.
Hiei: I— I just— well gulp
Botan: Hiei, you creep! So you think I'm ugly? Well, have you looked at the mirror lately?
Hiei: ::turns to Reiko:: You're dead, onna!
Reiko: ::scoffs:: Haven't I heard that before!
Suntiger – Yup! I think being a mother changes a lot of things, don't you think? Thank you so much! ::glomps::
t – I am too! To tell you honestly, I still don't know how to incorporate everything yet! I have ideas on my head but I just don't know how to piece them altogether! But hey! Thanks so much!
sailor-z-360 – I am so sorry for not mentioning you in the previous chapter. Gomen, gomen! I just posted Chapter 3 and was re-reading it when, to my horror, I didn't see your name there!!! I can't believe I forgot! But anyway, thank you for reviewing! I'll make sure to make the review part of my chapters when I'm awake this time!
Mystery Chick – Hey thanks! I just hope that you will love this too!
Crystal Koneko – Hai! Here it is! Thank you for reviewing!
Kitty2satan – Instead of reposting that, I've just added Kurama's scene here while making some revisions. I hope you liked it! Thank you so much for reading and reviewing!
Dyinglight – Wow, thanks! Well, I hope that this 21-page chapter will not bore you out! I tried my best shortening it but it seems I can't. I've crammed three scenes in this chapter and having them butchered wouldn't really seem good. It would be awkward to the story so I finally made up my mind to have everything here ::sigh:: Thanks again!
KayHiei – Thank you! ::huggles:: Actually, having him fed the baby was risk for me since I'm trying my best not to make him too OOC but hearing these from you makes the effort worthwhile. Thank you for the nice words, KayHiei! ::hugs::
Kurama-Haku – Thank you, Kurama-Haku! And about the Kurama scene, I've decided to just have it added here. Of course I made some minor revisions to fit in the chapter storyline.
Tuatha – Again, I apologize if I seem to be slacking off with the e-mail! Actually, these past couple of weeks, I've been slacking off! Ugh! I hate getting sick! It hinders me to do the normal things that I'm used to doing! But hey, thanks for the review and for the gelaties!
Kurama: This is the first time I've had those! ::turns to Tuatha:: Thank you, Tuatha! They were so good! Here's a rose!
Yusuke: Yeah! Right on! ::glomps then turns to Hiei with an evil glint in his eyes:: Hey Hiei, are you still going to eat that?
Hiei: ::looks around with shifty eyes while hugging the container to his chest::
Reiko: What are you doing, Hiei?
Hiei: This is mine! All mine!
Kurama: ::scratches head:: Well, as you can see all of us had our fair share. ::turns to Yusuke who was on the verge of snatching Hiei's container:: Except, of course, for Yusuke here who ate Kuwabara-kun's.
Yusuke: ::shrugs:: Well, he isn't here anyway so I don't see the big deal. ::turns to Hiei again:: Now Hiei about that gelaties… they're not sweet snow anyway so why don't you—
Hiei: You come near me and my sweet snow, Tantei, and I'll kill you!
Reiko: Look, why don't you just eat the damn gelaties already! They're gonna melt! ::scratches head:: Do they even melt?
Kurama: I'm going away. Just call me if everybody's sane again.
Well, anyway… yah, Kurikara RyuOh's not a nice kid! Hey, have you seen Hisoka? He's soooooo cute!!! He's my favorite, by the way! I'll get to your e-mail after I'm done with this. And about Mukuro… heh, I was a bit unsure about her characterization but I couldn't think of any possible way on how I could show her concern for Hiei without having it looking romantic or something so I opted out for subtle humor… but thank you so much after your kind words, now I'm feeling better. ::huggles::
Hiei's Ice Maiden – And here it is! I hope you liked it! Arigato!
Well, that's about it! Any complaints, suggestions, just tell me, awright? Thanks everybody! Ja ne!