A/N: Gah, another new fic, and it's another Hiei/Botan romp – in every sense of the word! I'm mostly writing this fic for a friend, and didn't know about posting it here, but decided to anyway. That said, this is a very unconventional fic, so:
Contains: Mild bad language, mild violence, and an absolutely shockingly amount of smut
Themes: Romance (but my definition of that word, so no candlelit dinners and walks in the moonlight), and Hurt/Comfort (and again, a strange definition of that theme, because it's not a sad hurt/comfort, it's more… Comedic/sick…)
Potentially anti-Yusuke/Keiko, and possibly offensive to fans of Yusuke/Botan and Hiei/Mukuro pairings.
I promise that this is a take on the Hiei/Botan pairing that's different from the norm.
Set 30 (yes, thirty) years after the end of the series.
Chapter 1: The Greatest Love
Botan smiled cheerfully at Yusuke, but he did not return her gesture. His head was tilted down and his eyes were unfocussed. He looked a little unusual, and Botan had to wonder just how much effort he had put into disguising himself. After his Mazoku side had been awoken, Yusuke had slowly mutated into the long, silver-haired demon he had been the first time he had transformed, complete with a variety of blue markings over his skin. The transformation was permanent, and Yusuke had long since accepted it. Usually, it never bothered him that he no longer looked especially human.
But it was bothering him now.
"Go in there," he muttered, tugging at his suit jacket.
He hated the outfit he was wearing. He had not said as much, but Botan knew that he did. He had made it obvious by the way he kept scratching at himself and rearranging the cuffs and hems. Finding a suit for him had been difficult. It was a big, important day and Botan had literally dragged him to a good tailor to ensure that he had a quality suit that would fit perfectly: and the result was a traditionally cut black suit, made slightly more modern by the top quality, dull silk it was made of, an ivory, embroidered waistcoat, ivory silk shirt and tie and stylish matte black dress shoes. The clothes fitted Yusuke as perfectly as a tailor-made outfit would, but he seemed to be pretending that he was suddenly unhappy with his choice of clothing as he continued to fiddle with the cuffs. His erratic silver hair had been combed flat and tied into a low ponytail at the back of his head – Botan had learned this was the best way to handle his Mazoku hair, which had a tendency to suddenly burst out of his head if it was cut short or gelled down. But he had done nothing to disguise the blue markings visible on his face.
"Did you hear me?"
Botan started as he turned his head and glared at her almost angrily.
"Um… No…" she said quietly. "Wh-what?"
"Go in there, Botan!" he said sharply. "Find out what's… See if she's… I can't go in there, to a woman's dressing room, but you… Just get in there, Botan!"
"Right, of course!"
Botan scrambled to her feet, gathering up her ceremonial kimono by her thighs, lifting the material until she could clearly see her feet and knew that she would not accidentally step on the gown. She then hurriedly made her way out of the small play-park she had been sat in with Yusuke, quickly checking the road for traffic and then hurrying across to the house at the other side.
The house at the other side was, of course, the Yukimura family home. There was bunting strung up around the roof edges and at the windows announcing that the family were celebrating a wedding that day, and as she approached the front door Botan felt her smile widen – she was becoming caught up in the excitement of the day herself.
"Knock, knock!" she said, knocking on the door. "Hello! It's Botan! Can I come in?"
Botan waited patiently for someone to answer the door, looking back over her shoulder to check on Yusuke: the bride did not want him to see her, which had made the morning so far a little awkward for Botan, who had been left playing go-between. Yusuke was still sat on the bench where she had left him, his head in his hands. He looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders, and Botan smiled sympathetically. She had been at Yusuke's side for several years, and in that time she had grown very fond of him, and she had come to feel the highs and lows of his life very keenly, and she knew that this was going to be a very stressful day for him.
She turned back to the door as she heard it opening and beamed brilliantly as a woman in her early twenties in a bridesmaids dress appeared before her, drawing on a cigarette as she eyed her over.
"Botan," she said through a mouthful of smoke.
"Hello!" Botan brightly replied. "Isn't this exciting?"
Botan opened her mouth to say more, but the girl stepped past her and touched a finger to a small device hooked into her ear.
"Yo, what's up?" she said.
Botan was momentarily confused, but then she remembered that the little device in the girl's ear was what humans in the living world used to communicate with. Human technology changed so quickly, Botan often felt left behind when she did not take the time to study it – which she often did forget to do, preferring to spend any spare time she had flying on her oar or with Yusuke in demon world.
"I'll just… Let myself in then…" she said, pointing into the house.
The girl shook her head and rolled her eyes and Botan smiled tightly back at her. She continued on into the house, and she shortly heard raised voices shouting out orders, and one crying almost hysterically about a lost lipstick. When she reached the source of the voices, she found herself looking into a room that was the picture of pandemonium: there were women and clothes everything, and everyone was talking at once and none of them were listening.
At the back of the room, Keiko was standing by the fireplace, one arm resting on the mantelpiece, her head tilted downwards and her eyes on the hearth. She looked even more miserable than Yusuke, Botan thought. Botan quickly ducked and dodged her way across the room, giving Keiko's arm a small squeeze to catch her attention. She looked up and Botan waved at her and smiled cheerfully, and for a long and horrible moment, Botan thought that Keiko had somehow forgotten her, as she stared blankly at her, no sense of recognition or cheer in her features.
"What are you doing here?" she eventually said.
Botan gulped awkwardly.
"Well, um… I was invited?" she replied.
"Oh, no, I mean…" Keiko began, waving a hand. "Oh, sorry Botan, I'm so… It's just been a hectic few months in the lead up to this one day, and now that it's here, it's just chaos!"
"You look lovely!" Botan said encouragingly.
"Oh thanks," Keiko said, forcing a smile. "You look…"
Her eyes wandered up to the cascade of baby blue hair spilling down from one side of Botan's head.
"Uh… Where-where's Yusuke?" she asked, lowering her eyes to Botan's.
"He's outside," Botan replied.
Keiko's eyes grew wide and Botan gasped as she realised her blunder.
"Oh, no, not right outside, of course!" she hurriedly corrected herself. "He's just… Close by."
"Oh, good," Keiko said, nodding. "He's definitely gonna show, right?"
"Of course he is!" Botan immediately replied.
"Well, you know, probably not everybody wants him there today…"
Botan's smile started to fade as Keiko looked away from her, pretending to be interested in the painting hung over the fireplace.
"Oh…" Botan said, her eyes lowering to the ground. "I see… That's… Very unfortunate…"
"I'm sure you understand, Botan," Keiko said. "It's been a long time, I know, but I'm not sure she's ready to see him again yet. And we both know that the last time they were in a room together, things got a little… Hostile…"
Botan nodded her agreement, even though it was a wasted gesture, as Keiko was still not looking her way.
"Should I tell him not to go to the…?" Botan began, watching Keiko expectantly.
"That would be best, yes," Keiko said stiffly, looking her in the eye again, her face suddenly stern. "It was good to see you again Botan, but I have to go. I have a wedding to get to."
Botan nodded and started to carefully pick her way out of the room again as Keiko began calling the others into order. Botan watched her as she went, an increasing sadness consuming her soul as she thought about how this ought to be Yusuke's day, this ought to be the day he walked up the aisle. The day – as long as she had known about it – still felt surreal to Botan. She could scarcely believe it when she and Yusuke received invites from Keiko to the wedding, and she would never forget the look on Yusuke's face when he had read the contents of his invite. She thought that she could almost pinpoint the exact moment, as he was reading it, that his heart broke.
Yusuke was still hurting from the news of the wedding, and Botan was surprised and impressed that he had agreed to go, and disappointed now to learn that Keiko's invite had been the bluff Kuwabara had warned them that it might be. She doubted it would take much convincing to get Yusuke not to go, but she still dreaded breaking the news to him and seeing him saddened all over again, especially after he had gone to such great lengths to look as human and presentable as possible for the big day.
And yet, a part of her was happy.
Botan hated herself for it. As she left the Yukimura household and started across the street she tried to block the thought out, tried not to think about it. She tried to suppress it the same way she had been suppressing it for so many years. But suppressing the feeling was all Botan was ever able to do, because she could not deny it. Especially not when it grew stronger and stronger every day. It had always been her dark little secret, something she had been so proud of herself for being able to hide and ignore during her early days with Yusuke: but, after Yusuke had realised his demon side and the pressures of trying to live a double life had become too much and Keiko had finally made the difficult and heart-wrenching decision to move on and marry someone else, Botan had not been able to ignore it any more.
She was in love with Yusuke. She always had been, and she was certain that she always would be.
Botan had always known how happy Keiko made Yusuke, and she would never have done anything to stand between them, simply consoling herself that Yusuke was happy with Keiko and that was good enough for her. But when Keiko had, after many months of crying and trying, decided to end things with Yusuke, Botan had suddenly started to see a glimmer of hope. The main reasons Keiko had left Yusuke had been because of his extended demon lifespan and his need to be in demon world – a place she could not go with him because of the limitations of her human body – and neither of those things were a problem for Botan, who, as a ferry girl, would out-live Yusuke and, with her heightened spirit energy, she could and did visit demon world as often as she liked.
But, even though Keiko had moved on as best she could – she said that a part of her would always love Yusuke – Yusuke was still madly in love with Keiko and still raw from her leaving him, even though it had been years since that fateful day. And as long as Yusuke was still in love with Keiko, Botan's dreams of being with Yusuke were just that: dreams. Dreams that could never be realised. It left Botan with a mixture of joy and despair to see the loving way Yusuke still watched Keiko when they visited the living world and he insisted on spying on her. He had so much love in his heart, but it was all directed towards Keiko, and although Botan admired and was touched by his loyalty, she was also distraught by it, because it seemed unending, and as long as he was so devoted to Keiko, he would never love anyone else, not even Botan.
Botan had loyally been at Yusuke's side through everything from the day he had been killed by the car, but sometimes she felt like he thought of her as just a buddy, like Kuwabara or Kurama, or else as a pest from spirit world like Koenma or George, or even just as an accessory, a tool for getting information and flying him to places that he needed to be. Yusuke was still in love with Keiko, and it was beautiful and touching, but Botan was in love with Yusuke, and her love felt painful at times, because she could never tell anyone about it or express it freely. She spent almost every day with Yusuke, and they often scrapped physically – strictly in a light-hearted sense – and he had taken to putting his arms around her when she flew him somewhere on her oar (which had led to her always flying above the clouds so that she could take a longer route without him noticing and prolong the moment) and he often fell asleep in her arms.
But she might as well be invisible to him, she thought miserably as she approached him still sat on the bench. This maybe was a special day, but for Botan it was about the same as any other: she was breaking her heart over Yusuke and he was breaking his heart over Keiko.
"Well?" he asked, lifting his head to look at her.
Botan paused for long enough to note that he looked at her quite plainly, as though she was nothing special. He was not being cold or cruel: she had gone to great lengths to hide her true feelings from him, so why should he act any differently when he did not know the truth?
"I spoke to Keiko," she said quietly.
"She doesn't want me there," Yusuke said, hanging his head again.
Botan carefully sat down at his side once more, eying him over as he sighed heavily. He looked gorgeous in his perfectly-fitted suit and with his hair swept back, and, although he was hiding his face from her, she knew that he was in pain, and that pained her.
"Oh Yusuke, I'm so sorry," she said gently, touching a hand to his shoulder.
"I knew this would happen," he muttered. "I don't know why I bothered with this stupid suit…"
He sat upright and grabbed at the lapels of his suit jacket, a glint of something bitter flashing across his eyes.
"Yusuke, no!" Botan cried, grabbing his wrists desperately. "Don't tear it!"
"Why not?" he asked, shifting his eyes to her. "What's the point? You know better than anyone that I've been getting less and less human with every month that passes, so why am I even trying to dress like a human when I'm clearly not one any more?"
"Yusuke, don't be silly!" she pleaded.
"I'm a monster," he said quietly. "That's what she called me the last time she saw me. You were there, Botan, you saw the way she looked at me and the way she spoke to me… Do you remember the first time she ever saw me? She cried!"
"Yusuke, she was just a baby back then. She cried when she saw Kuwabara too!"
"She didn't cry when she saw Kurama – shit, even Kurama's more human than I am!"
Yusuke stood up and stamped a foot in frustration. Botan gently stood up at his side and touched a hand to his shoulder again. He turned to look at her, searching her eyes as though looking for an answer to something he thought might fix all of his problems. He then drew in a deep breath and as he sighed the air out he lunged at Botan, grabbing his arms around her. She gladly put her arms around him and cuddled into him, closing her eyes and pressing her cheek against his. He had become increasingly physical with her over the years and more and more comfortable hugging her, and she always enjoyed it every time that he did. She knew that she ought to be focusing on counselling him through the difficult day ahead of him, but instead she spent that moment pretending – as she too often did when he embraced her – that he loved her just as much as she loved him, and that they were going to live happily ever after together.
Botan's devotion to Yusuke was everlasting. He had lost one love, but he had another one right in front of him, a committed, eternal one: but he would never know it.
Botan stepped under the arched garland of pure white flowers and smiled. She clasped her hands together and gazed out across the empty seats facing the small, raised dais she was standing on. The chairs, the flowers, the platform and the ribbons tied in bows to everything around them were all pristine and white. Botan started to imagine what it would be like to stand there with Yusuke, in that perfect suit he was wearing, to marry him in a ceremony of flowers and friends. She sighed.
"I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to move, Miss."
Botan turned to find a man suddenly standing at her side frowning at her sternly. He looked familiar, and yet not. He was dressed very smartly, though not quite so extravagantly as Yusuke or Botan was, so she had to assume that he was a minor guest from the wedding, still at the scene of the ceremony and not yet moved on to the after-party the rest of the guests had gone to some time before.
"Are you going to disappoint me again?" he asked, tilting his head slightly.
She felt her face twist involuntarily. He sounded familiar, and yet not.
"Botan?" he said.
"How did you know…?" she whispered faintly.
"Well, the blue hair, the pink eyes and the rather… Colourful kimono were somewhat of a giveaway," he replied, smiling warmly.
He was quite a strange man, Botan thought to herself. He held himself like a young man, but he was showing signs of aging, faint lines beating a path to the corners of his features and curling around the edges of his mouth and undersides of his eyes. His short but messy hair was grey, but small hints of colour at the back of his neck suggested that it had once been a vibrant shade of red.
"Botan, it's only been a few years," he said. "I may be a little greyer than before, but surely you still recognise my face?"
"Kurama!" Botan yelped, realisation finally striking her as she looked into his brilliant green eyes.
He smiled and gave a single, polite nod of his head.
"But what are you doing here?" she asked.
"I could ask the same of you, Botan!" he replied, his smile widening slightly. "The party has long since moved on. I'm here to remove the demon flowers before anyone takes them and… Well I should really get on with removing them…"
"Oh I did wonder why they were so pure white and beautiful!" Botan gushed. "It's amazing that something like that could grow in demon world, isn't it?"
Kurama wrapped a hand around one strut of the garland and the flowers around it began slowly closing into buds and then receding back into a single stalk that was gradually shrinking to the point Kurama was holding.
"Where's Yusuke?" he asked. "I didn't see him at the ceremony."
"No, Hitomi still isn't speaking to him," Botan explained. "Keiko did invite us, but I think she… I don't know what to think…"
"It was a lovely ceremony," Kurama replied. "But a rather startling reminder of just how much time has passed since our time together as the spirit detective team."
"It's certainly been a long time since we solved a case together," Botan agreed.
"What?" she asked.
"It's been thirty years since Yusuke defeated Sensui," he replied. "Well, almost thirty-one years now."
"Goodness, has it really been that long?"
"It's a long time to harbour an unrequited love."
"Poor Yusuke," she said. "He does still love Keiko. Here we are, all these years later, at Keiko's oldest daughter's wedding, but still Yusuke can't accept that he's lost her. I think he felt he should have been the one giving Hitomi away today."
"Yusuke is not Hitomi's father, Botan," Kurama pointed out.
"That's not what I meant," Botan said, shaking her head. "I meant that Yusuke should have married Keiko and been the father of her children and he should have been the father of the bride today, the day Keiko's daughter was getting married."
Kurama stepped away from the archway and opened out his fist to reveal a single seed.
"Should he have?" he asked, fixing Botan with an almost accusing glare.
"I-I don't know what you mean!" Botan said hurriedly. "I mean, of course Yusuke should have married Keiko and… What are you implying?"
Kurama smiled gently.
"Like I already told you, thirty years is a long time to harbour an unrequited love," he said.
Botan felt her face drop. Typical that Kurama should have seen through her, she thought darkly. Her only consolation was that Hiei was not there to read her mind and confirm his accusations.
Hiei had been such a moody and haughty little bastard, she thought darkly, always intruding on her thoughts at the most inopportune of moments and saying nasty, hurtful things unnecessarily. She had not seen him since watching him lose to Mukuro at the first demon world tournament many years ago, and, until that moment, she had never thought about him even once. He never really had been a part of their group – only ever begrudgingly and because he wanted to be free of his sentence from spirit world for his various crimes.
If the changes in the others were any indication, Hiei had probably changed too. He was probably a full black dragon. He probably lived in a cave high in a mountainside somewhere, gathering treasures and blowing fire at anyone who came close.
Botan wondered if that really was what had become of him, but she shortly realised that she did not actually care: he had always been especially rude to and dismissive of her.
"And I agree," she said, trying to sound casual. "Poor Yusuke, still loving Keiko despite the fact that she has long since moved on, married and had a family of her own."
Botan could tell that Kurama was not in the least bit convinced by her act and she wondered why he even cared. He had never had a romantic relationship as long as she had known him, so what did he care if she was in love with Yusuke?
Botan quietly and subtly sighed in relief at the sound of another familiar voice. She spun around to see a large suited figure starting towards them, unable to stop herself from making two consecutive and inappropriate noises – first one of shock and then one of confusion.
Time had not been nearly as kind to Kuwabara as it had to Kurama – presumably because of Kurama's demon soul. Kuwabara looked like a grandfather figure, the top of his head bald and the hair he had left wiry and grey. He was dressed in a slightly obnoxious white suit, though Botan understood that it was the fashion of the time. It unfortunately did not flatter his slightly bloated gut, something he had been acquiring the last time she had met with him, and he had blamed that on his appetite not lessening but his physical activity being reduced over time. She had then pointed out to him that Genkai had fought in the Dark Tournament when she had been twenty years older than he was now, but he had brushed her off with excuses about times of peace and his trusting Yusuke and Kurama to take care of any future battles.
And as Kuwabara had been her shock, the person clinging to his arm had been her confusion. Inexplicably, despite being a bald, overweight old man in a mildly hideous suit, Kuwabara had a stunningly gorgeous young woman at his side, her arm looped through his. She was almost as tall as Kuwabara himself, and dressed in a long, plain yet stylish sleeveless black dress, her face mostly hidden behind an over-sized pair of bug-eyed dark glasses and her long, loose black hair which fell over one side of her face. But the shape of her figure, the tautness of her bare arms and the perfectly flawless skin on her face clearly showed that she was very young, easily less than half Kuwabara's age: was she his daughter? And if so, why had Botan never met her before?
"Hey, Botan, you made it!" Kuwabara said as he and his partner joined Botan and Kurama on the stage.
"Yes," she replied, bowing a greeting to them.
"Where's Urameshi?" he asked, looking slightly confused. "Usually you guys are always together…"
Botan glanced at Kurama, who tried to hide the knowing smile he had been wearing, but failing to do so before Botan caught a glimpse of it.
"Oh dear, was it all too much for him today?"
Botan turned to the girl, as she had asked the question, and sounded genuinely concerned as she did so.
"Um…" Botan began, still trying to figure out just who the girl was. "Yes, I think so…"
"It was awful," the girl said sadly. "That fight Yusuke and Hitomi had… I cried when Hitomi called Yusuke a monster and told him to never come near her family again!"
"Me too…" Botan flatly replied.
She squinted slightly at the girl, but still gained no clue as to who she was.
"I could cry thinking about it right now," the girl whispered.
She reached up a hand and slowly pulled off her dark glasses, revealing a face that was unmistakable, but did not match the hair or body that came with it.
"Yukina?" Botan asked.
Red eyes lifted up to hers and a gentle smile appeared beneath them.
"It's been such a long time, Botan," she said. "I've missed you!"
Botan made another noise of confusion, ignoring the way the others laughed at her.
"But…" she began. "What happened to your hair?"
"I dye it black to help me blend in with the humans," Yukina explained. "I don't really like wearing the coloured contact lenses though, they're quite uncomfortable, so I tend to just wear these dark glasses to hide my eye colour."
"You have beautiful eyes just as they are, my love," Kuwabara said to her.
He turned to her and she leaned closer to kiss him softly on the lips. Botan swallowed hard, pushing down a remark about how bizarre it was to see aging Kuwabara kissing still-youthful Yukina. It was amazing that they were still so in love – and in that moment Botan was glad that Yusuke was not present to see them together like that, as it was sure to make him wonder why Keiko could not have overlooked his demon lifespan in the same way Kuwabara had for Yukina.
"And…" Botan began, waving a hand up and down in the air. "You've grown so tall!"
"I was still young when we first met, Botan!" Yukina replied, smiling in amusement. "I was still just a girl back then. I'm a woman now though."
She smiled at Kuwabara and they nuzzled noses together. Seeing them still so ludicrously happy together, Botan began to wonder if she ought to just bite the bullet and tell Yusuke about her true feelings for him.
"Why are you two still here?" she asked the loving couple. "Kurama's excuse was that he needed to gather the demon flowers, but why aren't you two at the party?"
"Keiko told us you and Urameshi were in the living world, and we figured you might be here," Kuwabara replied.
"Where is Yusuke?" Yukina asked. "Is he alright?"
Botan slowly shook her head.
"He's hurting quite badly," she said. "It's almost as bad as the day Keiko got married herself. He uh… In his heart he holds the greatest love, but it will never be known or returned."
Yukina's eyes began to water over and Kuwabara quickly took her into a reassuring hug. Kurama placed a hand on Botan's shoulder and gave her a reassuring smile as she looked up at him.
"These things have a way of working themselves out," he said softly.
Next Chapter: After briefly joining the party, Botan and Yusuke return to demon world, where they have differing opinions about how to pass the remainder of the evening. After some confusion and a small mishap, Botan makes a bold advance to express her true feelings for Yusuke: but things don't quite go as she expected. Chapter 2 – Living for a Fantasy
A/N: Please review, because I like getting attention…!