A/N: Cheesiest. End. Story. Ever.

Breaking format, chapter told partly from Hiei's POV and then the remainder from Botan's POV.

Recap: The tides of fate totally reversed, and everything in the "norm" reality had become the same as (or better then) things in the "paradise" reality had been, most especially Hiei got the girl! (Was there ever any doubt?)

Chapter 53: Utopia

The yard outside of Mukuro's fortress was quite chaotic as Hiei approached it. There was an abundance of trainees in Mukuro's camp that day – though there had been an abundance of the cocky little bastards arriving there over the last two years, so it was hardly surprising that their number had become so many. They were too young and impetuous to make useful soldiers or border patrol guards, but they were all of significant strength that turning them away would have been a mistake. Strong, but stupid, Hiei thought as he passed two of the boys producing origami art of intimate body parts. They had no idea how to control or use their powers, and he supposed that the duty of teaching them would ultimately befall him. He had made something of an art of avoiding the task so far, but as more and more of the little pests arrived, it became harder and harder to find a decent excuse to evade them.

Hiei did not really mind the influx of young fire demons into Mukuro's ranks – at first it had made him quite nauseous to think that the ice maidens of the ice village must have all gone on some sort of breeding frenzy during the first year of their liberation – but the children training with Mukuro's soldiers had been something he had learned to tolerate. Or rather, he had tolerated it for the first of the two years it had been happening. The second year had not been quite so straightforward, because at the start of the second year, Botan's time as a human had come to an end, and she had become a spirit and moved to demon world with Hiei.

Which meant that their own children had moved to a lawless place filled with their own kind.

In the living world, having children in the tree-house had rarely bothered Hiei, as they had mostly been well-behaved and sensible, but since moving to demon world, they had rebelled slightly from spending so much time around children like themselves, becoming competitive and almost overbearing in their bid to be better than their newfound rivals.

But, he supposed, that was just another part of his life. He had always lived his life in stages, working towards a goal, achieving it and then searching for another to begin the process all over, and after achieving his goal of returning to demon world with his wife and children, he supposed that his next goal was going to be playing facilitator to all the young recruits in Mukuro's army – who possibly out-numbered the veterans, he thought with a small frown.

But, despite his apprehension about the massing fire demons, Hiei was quite glad to be back. He had spent the last few days with Yusuke and Kurama, and although that had been a nice break, Hiei had come to miss his family during that time. He had once found that strange, that when he was separated from them he missed them, but he now understood, accepted and even embraced the feeling. He loved his wife and children, he was proud of them and he was not ashamed of wanting to be with them. He knew that they were not currently in Mukuro's territory, but they would be soon, and he was looking forward to being reunited with them. Unlike the alternate version of himself he had once known, Hiei had made a conscious effort from the beginning of his relationship with Botan to stay at her side as much as possible, including through the births of their children, and he had even learned to tolerate dealing with irrational babies for the sake of living up to his role as their father. And although it had all been strange and sometimes very difficult for him, Hiei still lived a life without regret, because he knew that it had been the right thing to do.

One of the best things about his new life was the reminder he felt every day that what Botan had told him in another reality was true – their love never faded with time, in any sense, and no matter how much time they spent together and what awkward situations they had come through, nothing ever took away that sense of ease and empowerment Hiei felt when he was near Botan. Prior to his experiences in other realities, Hiei had never cared for love and he had certainly never been looking for it, and yet, some eleven years later, he wondered how he had ever survived without it. Whilst he still cared for his own personal development, Hiei no longer thought of things that he would do in his future, rather he thought of things that they would do together in their future – and even that was not the pathetically sentimental weakness he had once thought such an approach to life would be, because, thanks to Botan, he now understood that real love was not the silly thing humans had it seem to be, but rather it was a partnership between two people, intellectually, spiritually and physically, that became stronger and more secure for ever trial it overcame. And no part of that had ever faded. He still felt himself relax every time he looked into Botan's eyes, the tenderness of her touches and kisses still made him feel loved and alive, she could still strengthen or weaken him with just one word or gesture and he was still pleased that she was the mother of his children.

Thinking about children – and it was hard not to, being surrounded by them – Hiei had always been amazed that the first child he and Botan had was Monzan. It seemed odd that the child had turned out to look and act exactly the same as he had in the paradise reality, because he had not been born at the same time or even in the same stage of Hiei's marriage to Botan. But nevertheless, Hiei's eldest child was Monzan, the same stubborn, determined, cake-loving, sword-wielding, jaganshi little fire demon. He had initially grown to be the same, slightly overweight and oddly proportioned child he had been in that other reality, but in the past year – since the family had moved to demon world – he had taken a strange and sudden growth spurt that had left him standing as high as Hiei's shoulder – not including his hair, the tip of which came to Hiei's jagan eye in height – and his weight had spread out over his body a little better, making him no longer appear so "chunky".

But Monzan had not been Hiei's last surprise when it came to family, as his second child came out exactly the same as he had seemed to be in the paradise reality – though Hiei could not be sure if he looked the same, since Botan had never birthed their second child during his time in that other reality. And Botan had remained true to her word and let Hiei name their second son – and he had chosen Ryu. Ryu was, unlike his older brother, quite scrawny and he was not nearly as physically strong as Monzan, though he did have a very powerful third eye, and it was clearly the focus of his strength. His hair was as spiked and slanted upwards as his brother's and his father's, but it lacked the white star and was the exact same shade of blue as his mother's. His eyes were as deeply red as Hiei's and although he was not very physically gifted, he was, like his father and siblings, very fast.

Hiei would never know if that other Hiei from that other reality ever fulfilled Botan's secondary wish when it came to children, but Hiei himself had through their third and final child, their daughter Sayori – Botan had chosen her name. Sayori had been the only of Hiei's children to be born without a jagan eye, but her powers centred around her fire abilities, and, as she had grown up playing with the many fire demon children who had visited Yukina at the temple, she had learned plenty of powerful tricks at a young age to compensate for her lack of other abilities. Her hair was as black as Hiei's but in the same style as Botan's – it grew downward with a slight kink at the ends – and she had her mother's pure pink eyes. And, though neither Hiei nor Botan believed in favouritism, they both knew that their daughter was Mukuro's favourite of their three children, purely because she was a strong woman and a potential future ruler of her kingdom.

Hiei's children were all different, but one thing they did all have in common was their competitiveness and their strange habit of stealing things. Hiei had never been a thief in their lifetimes, but they seemed to have almost inherited that trait from him as though it was a part of his DNA in much the same way that his demonic powers were. And they had a nasty habit of banding together and scheming raids on people they disliked.

Hiei smiled to himself at the thought of his family: they were not without their faults, but strangely it was their faults that often endeared him to them the most. He was proud of his children and he was proud of himself for having been there for them in the way his own father should have been there for him. But most of all, he was proud of Botan for holding them all together as the perfect mother and the perfect wife. She truly was the lynchpin of their family unit, and everyday she did something that reminded Hiei why he had fought so hard to make her his wife. For a long time, he had considered the fact that he had not rescued her from the rock monster to be a mistake and a regret in his life, but, over time, he had come to accept it as a necessary mistake that made him realise and truly appreciate how precious Botan was to him – if she had come to him easily, he probably would have left her on her own all the time like that other Hiei had. As it was, Hiei and Botan were mostly inseparable.

The last few days had been one of the few exceptions to that though. Hiei had been away from home, and he had heard, through the power of telepathy, that Botan was in the living world and would not be waiting for him when he got home. Hiei did not mind her leaving their home to go and visit her friends, but he did miss her when she went, and he most especially disliked arriving home to find his house empty – which was something he still felt odd admitting to. Sometimes his home was noisy and hectic – usually when the kids managed to steal something sugary or else got their hands on something caffeinated – and although Hiei disliked the manic moments, he had grown to prefer them to the quiet, lonely times.

As he arrived at his front door, Hiei wondered what Botan was doing and if she would be home soon – but he resisted the urge to literally check on her with his jagan eye: he was sure that she would be back as reliably as ever soon enough.

Botan hummed cheerfully to herself as she helped Yukina package up some small cakes into food parcels, only pausing in her actions when she noticed how large the package Yukina had made was.

"Um, Yukina?" she said, eyeing the bundle nervously. "That's a lot of cakes, sweetie."

"I packed some extra for your new friends," Yukina replied, continuing with her task.

Botan laughed nervously.

"My new friends, yes…" she said slowly. "It's very cute that you think they'll make it that far…"

Yukina stopped abruptly, her hands halfway through tying a bow into the ribbon holding the parcel together, her large red eyes moving to Botan curiously.

"Even I can smell what's in that parcel, I don't stand a chance of sneaking it past the kids," Botan said gently.

Yukina looked down at the substantially smaller parcel Botan had made.

"But you have some cakes there for them, don't you?" she asked.

"Yes, but one of your lovely cakes is never enough for them and they're expert little thieves," Botan replied. "I can't hide anything from them, least of all a parcel containing enough sweet cakes to meet their sugar needs for the next three years…"

"Oh…" Yukina muttered. "Well I suppose I could take these to demon world myself tomorrow."

"That's probably a better idea," Botan advised her.

"Where are the kids today anyway?"

"Well, knowing that I was coming here to pick up cakes, I left them in spirit world."

Yukina choked on nothing, quickly trying to hide her reaction by putting a hand over her mouth.

"Spirit world?" she asked, looking up at Botan.

"Yes," Botan replied. "They like it there."

"But… You left them there alone?" Yukina asked, taking her hand from her mouth again.

"No, of course not!" Botan said. "I left them with Koenma."

"Lord Koenma is babysitting the kids?" Yukina asked in a voice almost flat and low enough to be her brother's.

"It's okay," Botan assured her. "They love Koenma and he just adores them!"

"But I thought you weren't ever going to leave them with Lord Koenma again… After what happened the last time that you did…"

"That was an accident! And besides, nobody got hurt!"

Yukina arched her eyebrows and Botan gulped nervously.

"Nobody got hurt!" she insisted. "Much…"

"Monzan stole the potion that separates a soul from a physical body," Yukina reminded her.

"He didn't steal it!" Botan said indignantly. "He didn't even know what it was! He was just playing with the bottle because it was a pretty colour!"

"…Didn't he make Lord Koenma and George drink it?" Yukina asked.

"No he did not! Koenma and George drank it themselves!"

"…I thought Monzan pinched Lord Koenma's nose to force him to open his mouth and then he poured the bottle down his throat."

"Yukina! Where did you get a ridiculous idea like that from?"

Botan sighed in annoyance, gathering up her parcel of cakes.

"Monzan slipped the potion into Koenma's tea," she said quietly. "He held George's nose and forced it down his throat."

Yukina gave her a withering look but Botan turned away to avoid having to see it.

"He wasn't to know what that potion actually did!" she said stubbornly.

"But after he gave it to Lord Koenma and George, he tried to implant two human souls – recently arrived in spirit world after dying – into their bodies."

"That was an accident!"


Botan waved a hand in the air and smiled sweetly.

"He's a good boy," she said. "He just sometimes gets himself into troublesome situations with his curiosity… And his thieving… But he's a good boy really."

Yukina nodded, but she looked less than convinced.

"Thank you for the cakes!" Botan said. "They'll definitely be enjoyed… If they're not swallowed whole before anyone can actually taste them…"

She slouched her shoulders slightly and grumbled a complaint about bad eating habits before breaking into a smile again.

"I'm off," she said. "If you're coming to demon world tomorrow, be sure to visit us!"

"Of course," Yukina said. "I'll be visiting Rui anyway, and since you all live in the same place… I'll see you tomorrow."

Botan nodded and headed out of the temple. It was a bright sunny day outside and she could not help but look back at the tree-house. She had moved out of it almost a year ago, though she still stayed there sometimes with her family. They used it as a holiday home, but Kuwabara had warned them that it would not last forever, because the trees would eventually grow over the supports – he had guessed that it might last another 10 years, but probably no more. Botan always felt sad when she thought about the house falling or breaking apart: it had been her home for 10 years, and she had so many happy memories of it. She would miss it, but she was quite settled and happy in her new home in demon world, and she doubted her children would even care when they stopped going to stay at the tree-house.

And thinking about her children, she started to walk faster.

Hiei had been at a meeting in Yusuke's territory for the last few days, allegedly to discuss reinstating some sort of regular tournaments to help the leaders of demon world find strong soldiers – but Botan suspected that Hiei, Yusuke and Kurama were actually just messing about together and using the "meeting" as an excuse to take a little holiday together. She did not mind, but it did mean that her children looked to her for entertainment as opposed to indulging in their favourite hobby of trying to catch their father off-guard and best him in a fight. She had not visited spirit world in some time – least of all with her children – and going there had seemed like a good idea that morning, as had leaving the children there when they seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Botan had never witnessed her children misbehaving when under the supervision of anyone other than her or Hiei, but she knew that they probably did at least a little bit, especially around Koenma, who they often took advantage of. In the past they had stolen some important items from spirit world that Botan had not discovered until days later, they had played a few nearly disastrous pranks on Koenma himself and they often broke things there, but Koenma never complained or lost his temper with them, so Botan had to assume that he enjoyed their antics.

Koenma had always been surprisingly accepting of everything in her life, Botan thought to herself. They had always been good friends, but, after jilting him, lying to him and leaving him, Botan had thought that he would never forgive her. It always pleased her that he had and that he took such an interest in her family.

As she arrived in spirit world to retrieve her children, Botan was greeted by the usual chaos of ferry girls and ogres, most of whom barely noticed her in their rush, though some did nod a greeting to her or else call out in acknowledgement of her presence. She answered them all accordingly, continuing on to Koenma's office, which she entered without knocking – as she always had done – to find Koenma in his adult form leering over Monzan, who was barely half his height but doing a fairly impressive job of standing up to him.

"Is everything alright in here?" Botan asked.

"No," Koenma said, folding his arms and turning to her. "Something's gone missing."

Botan immediately turned to Monzan, who shrugged innocently. She narrowed her eyes at him threateningly but he continued to maintain his aura of innocence.

"What is it?" she asked.

"Isn't it obvious?" Koenma snapped, pointing at his mouth.

"Oh dear!" Botan gasped.

"Aren't you too old to still need that thing anyway?" Monzan muttered.

"This form is a disguise!" Koenma pointed out.

"Even in your other form, you're still too old to need a pacifier," Monzan replied. "I mean what are you, like a thousand years old?"

"You don't understand the importance of it," Koenma tightly answered.

Botan turned sharply at the sound of sniggering, finding her youngest son, Ryu, sat in Koenma's chair, his hands over his mouth. She arched her eyebrows at him expectantly and he quickly became solemn and shook his head.

"Did you see either of them take it?" Botan asked, turning back to Koenma.

"I never see it when they take things," Koenma pointed out. "They're experts at sneaking things from people!"

"Yes, I know," Botan agreed with a sigh. "Well, there's only one way to sort this: hold this for me."

Botan passed the parcel of cakes to Koenma and then turned to Monzan, lifting up his arms and proceeding to pat him down, checking for any concealed items about his person. He muttered complaints about her comprising his integrity with her actions but she ignored his protests until she was sure that he was not hiding anything.

"He's clean," she said, turning to Koenma.

"It was probably the other one," Koenma said, nodding at Ryu. "He could steal something from me from a thousand miles away with his telekinetic abilities."

Botan patted him on the arm sympathetically, but did not bother to tell him that her youngest son had already done that to him more time than she cared to recall, since she had always managed to sneak the items back into Koenma's office without his noticing – usually via Monzan.

"Stand up," she said to Ryu.

He climbed up onto Koenma's desk and Botan repeated the exercise of checking him for any concealed treasures, but all she found on him was a few marbles and a half-eaten candy he had put back into his pocket, where it had become a sticky mess of fluff.

"I think you must have misplaced it yourself," she concluded, turning to Koenma.

"I had it when they got here, and I don't have it now," he replied.

"Maybe George took it," Botan suggested. "Maybe he wanted to clean it or hide it from thieving little hands."

Monzan and Ryu both turned away as she glared at them, feigning their innocence.

"I have to go," she said, turning back to Koenma. "I hope you find it soon."

Ryu leapt from Koenma's desk and hurried to the door and Botan and Monzan started after him.

"Where's your sister?" Botan asked her oldest son.

"Oh, right…" he muttered, spinning around and moving back into the office.

Botan waited while he collected her youngest child – her daughter Sayori – from the corner of the room, where she had been sitting playing with a potted plant.

"What was she doing over there?" Botan asked Koenma.

"She thought it was a demon plant, she wanted to fight it," he flatly replied.

"Oh, alright," Botan said. "As long as she wasn't try to eat it."


"She's just at that age where she puts everything in her mouth. Surely you can understand that?"

Koenma smiled awkwardly, but Botan was sure that he knew better than anyone about the addiction of an oral fixation, and so she made her way out of the office, trying to keep Ryu in her sights as he hurried through the busy corridors ahead of her, and she trusted Monzan to keep a hold of Sayori's hand behind her.

"Thanks again, Koenma!" she called back over her shoulder, waving to her former boss.

He smiled a little falsely and waved back at her.

"Next time just let me babysit," Monzan moaned, falling into step at Botan's side.

"You're not old enough to look after yourself," Botan told him. "And you're especially not old enough to supervise your brother and your sister."

"Dad was running his own gang when he was my age," Monzan pointed out.

"No he wasn't," Botan lied. "That was just a story he told you."

"But Koenma's an idiot–"

"Monzan, he's the prince of spirit world!"


Botan sighed and rolled her eyes.

"Just… Show some respect for your elders," she said.

"He's maybe older than me, but I'm more of a man," Monzan argued.

"That's very rude, Monzan!" Botan snapped.

"But it's true! He said that body is a disguise he wears, and I've seen what he really looks like. Without that disguise, he's smaller and less developed than the runt."

"Don't call your sister a runt. And… Koenma's pacifier stores his spirit energy in it, and by sucking on it, he adds a little bit of his energy to the reserve it contains every day, making it gradually more and more powerful. It can–"

"Mom, I'm not a little kid any more!"


"Save the stories for the runt, I know he just sucks it because he's a big baby!"

Botan stopped walking to glare at her son, but he walked on obliviously, picking his sister up to help her through the portal to demon world – not that she needed the assistance, but, despite calling her names, Monzan was very protective of Sayori. Botan sighed and followed after them, joining them as Monzan set Sayori on the ground again.

"I want up!" she complained.

"Just walk, you lazy little runt!" he scolded her.

"Mommy, I want up!" she said, turning to Botan and tugging at her dress.

"Are you tired already, honey?" Botan asked her.

"I'm too heavy, I want up!" she moaned.

Sayori looked like she might cry, and so to save her ears the pain, Botan put out her arms and started to crouch down to pick her daughter up, starting in alarm and almost falling over when Monzan suddenly grabbed Sayori up and Ryu stepped in between them.

"I'll carry her," Monzan said. "I don't mind."

"I'll help," Ryu said.

Botan eyed them both suspiciously, their sudden interest in helping their sister in a moment of laziness a clear sign that mischief was afoot.

"No," she said slowly. "Put her down."

"I don't mind," Monzan insisted.

"Put her down," Botan said sternly.

"I can manage!"

"You put your sister down this instant, Monzan!"

Monzan slowly placed Sayori on the ground again and Botan bent down to pick her up, watching her sons as she did so, only moving her eyes from them when she heard a soft clanging sound at her feet. She looked down to see a gold-plated inkpad from Koenma's office on the ground, staring at it for some time before lifting her eyes to her sons. They were both trying to look confused, but Botan was not fooled. She took a breath to demand where they had hidden it and what else they had taken but stopped as a spirit world stamp fell out of Sayori's dress.

"Boys?" Botan said quietly. "Have you been stealing things from Koenma and hiding them on your sister?"

They both shook their heads. Botan turned back to Sayori, who she was still holding at arms' length, and she gently shook her in the air, cringing as several more items clattered to the ground.

"Maybe just a little bit," Monzan admitted.

"It wasn't my idea, mom," Ryu quickly said.

"Shut-up, clown!" Monzan snapped at him.

"You shut-up, ugly!" Ryu argued back.

"Stop it!" Botan snapped.

She sighed and put Sayori down again, searching through the items that had fallen out of her clothing, but not finding the one item Koenma had actually noticed missing.

"Pick this up," she said to her sons, standing up and pointing at the discarded items. "You can take it back to spirit world tomorrow and apologise for taking it."

"Aw, do we have to?" Ryu moaned.

"Yes!" Botan replied.

As the boys picked up their spoils Botan took Sayori's hand and walked on, finding that her daughter was happy enough to walk now that she was free of the additional weight. They soon arrived back at Mukuro's headquarters, turning to one side of the yard and moving to the tower that had been built there specifically for Hiei and his family. As they reached their home, Botan was relieved to see Hiei's coat thrown over the banister of the stairs, a sure sign that he was back.

"Hiei!" she called out.

She waited for him to respond and when he did not she gave a small sigh before resorting to bribery.

"I brought cakes from Yukina!" she sang.

Hiei appeared at her side and she smiled, touching a hand to his cheek.

"I wasn't expecting you home today," she said.

Hiei leaned closer to her and lightly kissed her on the lips, bringing a contented smile to her face: she always told him how good he made her feel, but she often wondered if he would ever understand. She knew that he loved her – he had such beautiful ways of telling her just how much he did – and she wished that she could impress upon him just how amazing it was to her that, even after eleven years together, he could still make her shiver and go weak at the knees with just one look and that she still felt secure and loved with just one word from him.

"I missed you," he said gently. "I always do when you're not with me."

"Well they say that time apart makes the heart grow fonder," Botan said.

"And I say that time together makes me love you longer," he growled back.

Botan made to kiss him again but stopped as she heard Monzan and Ryu making retching noises behind her. She turned to glare at them and they quickly hid their actions behind a mask of false innocence.

"What's this?" Hiei asked, pulling the gold-plated inkpad from Monzan's pocket.

"Something we'll be taking back to spirit world tomorrow," Botan answered.

"It wasn't my idea," Ryu said.

"Shut-up!" Monzan snapped at him.

"Both of you stop!" Botan warned them. "You see this?" she said, taking the inkpad from Hiei. "This is why Koenma accused you of stealing his pacifier! If you keep behaving like criminals, he'll keep treating you like criminals!"

"Sorry mom," Monzan said, trying to look cute.

"It wasn't my idea mom, he made me do it," Ryu said.

Monzan and Ryu glared at each other angrily, and by the faint blue glow at their foreheads, Botan had to assume that they were fighting telepathically – which, for her at least, was possibly the most annoying thing that they both did.

"Never mind, let's have some cakes, shall we?" she said, holding up the parcel.

"Yes," Hiei said, taking it from her.

He headed off to the dining room with the parcel and Botan followed after him, both stopping by the dining table. Botan turned in preparation of trying to control three half-demon children all trying to get their hands on the cakes at once, but, to her utter shock, not one of her children had followed her. She leaned back, looking back through the doorway for any sign of them, but found none, seeing only Hiei's coat, still hanging on the banister, the hem rippling slightly as though a blast of air had just whipped past it. She turned back to Hiei to remark on how odd and sudden their disappearance was, but before she could make that observation, Hiei opened the parcel to reveal the box of cakes Botan had wrapped up, and Koenma's pacifier placed on top of it.

"What?" she gasped, leaning towards it.

Hiei slowly plucked it up between his thumb and forefinger, letting it hang in the air between them.

"That's impossible!" Botan said. "I gave the parcel to Koenma and he was holding it almost the whole time I was there! How can they possibly have…? Koenma said it was missing when I got there! He was accusing Monzan of stealing it when I arrived and he was probably right! But how the heck did they manage to…?"

Hiei looked thoughtful for a moment, but Botan noticed the faint hint of a smile on his face and the sparkle in his blood-red eyes.

"It's not funny Hiei," she said. "Not at all. That's more than just a pacifier, it's the container for all of Koenma's spirit energy. It's one of the most powerful items in spirit world. It has the power to… Hiei? Are you laughing?"

Hiei cleared his throat and shook his head, but Botan knew him well enough to know when he was containing a smirk of amusement. It was true that what the children had done was not funny – Koenma's pacifier was a very valuable, important and powerful item, and stealing it and bringing it to demon world had been a very irresponsible thing for them to do – but, despite knowing that the stolen treasure ought to be her main priority, Botan started to forget about it as she watched Hiei attempt to hide his amusement. It was still a novel concept for her to see him smile and more especially to hear him laugh.

"I'm going to make Monzan take that back and apologise," she said, trying to sound stern.

"Monzan didn't take it," Hiei answered her, his lips twitching as he found it harder to contain a smile.

"Ryu then," Botan replied.

Hiei shook his head and Botan's eyes doubled in size.

"Not my little girl!" she protested.

Hiei nodded, and gave into the smile that had been trying to tug at his mouth.

"But… She's so young and cute!" Botan moaned. "She's just a little girl in pig-tails!"

"A little girl in pig-tails who is an expert at deception, even without telekinetic or telepathic abilities," Hiei said.

Botan sighed, taking the pacifier from Hiei's fingers and holding it up in front of her face to study it. She was not looking forward to admitting to Koenma that one of her children had taken it after all, and she was especially dreading admitting to him that all three of her children were now active thieves.

"They grow up so fast," she said with a sigh. "My little girl's first robbery – who'd have thought she'd aim so high and be such a success on her first attempt."

Hiei snorted in amusement and Botan pretended to look annoyed.

"It's really not funny, Hiei!" she insisted.

He made an effort to look serious then too before answering her.

"It is funny," he said, taking the pacifier from her and placing it down by the box of cakes. "But what isn't funny is that the kids are gone, we have this place all to ourselves, and we're wasting time talking about a baby and his oral fixation."

He took Botan's hands in his and she could not help but smile with him as she felt a small rush of joy and desire at the contact: she wondered if he would ever know just how much she loved him, how wonderful his touch still made her feel and how grateful she was for that.

"Right," she said, stepping closer to him. "Silly me. Why are we talking about Koenma's oral fixation when we could be fulfilling your oral fixation?"

He grinned almost darkly at her words before moving his hands to her face and pulling her mouth to his. She closed her eyes and melted into his lips, sliding her hands around his back and pulling herself closer to him. She could have happily stood there for the rest of time simply enjoying the tender ministrations of his lips but he broke the contact after a minute or so and nodded towards the door, reminding her that it was not really wise to remain in the kitchen for what they were about to do. He took her hand and together they made their way to their chambers.

As they walked, Botan thought about her life with Hiei. The story of their love was not a traditional one and, in the beginning at least, it was not a romantic one either: but she knew that, even if she was given the choice to start over and do it all again, she would not change a single thing.

"I love you Hiei," she said as she sat down onto their bed.

"I love you Botan," he replied.

He leaned down and pushing his hands into her hair, easing it back to expose her throat to his lips.

"Do you ever wonder about fate?" she asked.

He placed a soft kiss on her neck before leaning back far enough to look her in the eye. He had a slightly sceptical look on his face and Botan giggled as she remembered why.

"Do you still hate the guardian of fate?" she asked him.

"No," he said softly. "She said "some things are just meant to be", and I agreed with that."

"You do?" she asked, unable to contain her surprise.

He nodded.

"It's meant to be forever you and me," he said.

Botan felt her heart flutter and, ignoring his grunt of surprise, she grabbed her arms around Hiei and pulled him down on top of her as she fell back on the bed.

He always knew just the right thing to say.

The End