Hiei had been watching the ferry-girl closely over the course of the past week. She was still a combination of all of the things that he was naturally averse to: optimistic, cheery and idealistic.
She shined too brightly, cared too deeply and displayed her emotions far too openly for his liking.
She still confused him beyond all belief, lying right outside of the realms of his understanding.
And despite all of that, he still wanted to know her more.
She wasn't simply the messenger ferry-girl who talked too much and smiled too often; she was something else entirely.
She was clever, often tricking Koenma into seeing things her way or coaxing Yusuke into a mission that he did not want to participate in. She was playful and devious, always teasing somebody about something with that ridiculous cat face she loved to wear. She was hard working and diligent, always on the move and up to something, whether it be ferrying souls, seeing to administrative tasks or assisting the team with missions.
She was loyal. Hiei was well aware of all of the times and ways she had stood up for him when the oaf had taken to insulting him in front of Yukina. She defended Kuwabara whenever he had taken to insulting the lumbering fool. And she supported Koenma when others in the spirit world doubted his eligibility. She did it without any hopes of recognition or gratitude and it often went unnoticed by the others, but not by him.
While she was not physically strong by his standards, she held an emotional depth and strength that impressed him. And even if she did not possess the raw power that he or the others did, she was perfectly capable of protecting herself and was not shy about doing so during missions and the like.
She was a far cry from the type of woman that he expected her to be, but he had learned time and time again that life was strange and unpredictable. This past week was supposed to strip him away from those strange feelings, but it only served to solidify them. Every conversation, every concerned-filled look and every smile that she had given him struck deep within and stayed with him. He still didn't completely understand the concept of love, but he was willing to learn. And the only way he could do that is if he stayed with her.
He stood on her balcony, watching her curiously. She was seated at the edge of her bed, staring down at the silly little weed he had given her. It was dried and shriveled up, but the thing that concerned him the most was the sad look on her face. He wasn't used to seeing her looking like that. She must have felt his eyes on her or sensed his presence, because her gaze snapped up to meet his in surprise and she quickly hid the weed behind her.
"Hiei?" she began nervously.
"Stay right there," he told her, steeling himself for what he was about to do.
She was in the midst of standing up, but upon hearing his words and the urgency in his tone, she sat back down and gave him a bewildered frown. He approached her slowly, his gait even and sure. There was no doubt or indecision in his heart now that he knew what he wanted. It was simply time to act. He stood right in front of her, taking in the natural sweet fragrance that she carried with her and the brightness in her eyes. Her breath hitched his hand made contact with her chin, but she allowed him to tilt her head upwards, angling her mouth until it was mere inches from his. He moved painfully slow, giving her the time to react and respond accordingly if she did not want this, but when she moved to meet him halfway, he knew that he wasn't in this alone. The moment his lips brushed against hers, a rush of warmth spread outwards from his chest to the tips of his fingertips and toes. He kissed her slowly and gently - his mind flashed back to the first time she had kissed him in the forest, the electricity of that moment coming through full force in this one.
Hiei pulled away reluctantly, gaging her reaction and committing the sight of her to memory. Amethyst eyes were wide in surprise, her pupils dilated in a daze and her cheeks flushed with color. Snapping out of her haze, thick lashes fluttered quickly underneath twisted blue brows as her expression took on more of a distressed and troubled look.
"Why... Why would you do that?" she asked breathlessly. "I had been convincing himself all night that I had to let you go and then you go and kiss me. And confuse me. And make me want you all over again. It's just not-"
He kissed her again – more urgently and fervently, the way he did at Genkai's temple. Much like that time, a need ignited within like an inextinguishable fire and want seared through his entire being. He applied more pressure, kissing her thoroughly and relentlessly, leaving no room for her to question his motives this time. And she seemed to understand it all when he pulled away and looked at her again. This time, she broke into a smile, draping her arms around his neck and beckoning him back to her.
Suffice it to say, he was more than willing to comply as he brought his lips down and kissed her a third time. The familiarity of his actions and the willingness in hers spurred him on and prompted him to prolong the moment for as long as he could. He dragged his lips over hers teasingly, enjoying the way she chased after his lips with hers. When she pulled him closer and let out a contented sigh, he knew that she wanted him just as badly as he did with her.
But actions weren't enough. He needed to make it clear to her. He wanted to do this right.
So he pulled away for the third time, lips tingling and his chest heavy with an emotion that he did not previously think himself capable of harboring.
"Now we're even," he told her lowly.
"Even?" she repeated, dazedly.
"Now we can continue on equal ground," he explained. "And with the right intentions."
She searched his gaze meaningfully, the realization slowly dawning on her and lighting up her eyes.
"You really want to…with someone like me…?"
Hiei nodded, expression unchanging.
"Against my better judgment, I do," he confessed. "But only if it's with you."
She smiled softly.
Yusuke watched the two with a smirk from the comfort and privacy of Koenma's spacious office.
"Told you everything would be fine," he ribbed, nudging Kuwabara with his elbow.
"You didn't know anything! They found their way to each other on their own – it had nothing to do with you," Kuwabara countered.
"I think you're just upset 'cause your little love instincts failed you."
"You don't know what you're talking about, Urameshi," Kuwabara grumbled, crossing his arms over his chest stubbornly.
"Who knows, maybe I'm the real Warrior of Love," Yusuke continued, puffing his chest out smugly. "After all, it was me who got them together."
"I would advise against indulging in this type of talk in front of them. I doubt they will see things in the same self-glorifying manner that you do," Kurama cautioned.
"That'd be pretty ungrateful of them, considering I'm the one who gave her the idea to kiss him in the first place."
"And you seem to be conveniently forgetting that you almost got her killed in the process," Kurama reminded him calmly.
"Psh… Hiei talks a big game, but he wouldn't have actually gone through with it," Yusuke dismissed with a wave of his hand. His proud stance fell a bit as he looked between the two. "...Right?"
The room was drenched in silence and Yusuke paled. Kuwabara looked genuinely doubtful on the question of Hiei's morals - which was to be expected - while Kurama remained as unreadable as always. Yusuke was seventy-five percent positive that Kurama was only screwing around with him, but he could never be too sure. He cleared his throat and looked around the room.
"Anyway, all's well that ends well!" he finished. "Now let's get outta dodge before pacifier breath gets back."
"I think it's too late for that, Yusuke," a familiar, high-pitched voice said.
Yusuke turned to see the toddler standing in the threshold of the door, a suspicious look on his face as he entered.
"Mind telling me what you three are doing in my office?" Koenma asked warily. "I don't remember calling a team meeting."
"Uh, we were just…" Kuwabara panicked, fumbling for the remote and catching the prince's attention.
Large, rounded eyes trailed towards the large screen, before squinting suspiciously and then widening in shock.
"I-is that who I think it is?" he exclaimed out, pointing a shaky finger at the image of Botan and Hiei on his screen.
"Sure is," Yusuke confirmed with a wolfish grin.
"But how did they…?" Koenma asked, looking between the rest of the group in complete horror and surprise. "When did they…?"
"Well, it started with a kiss..." Yusuke trailed off.
Botan certainly did not expect that Hiei would come here and suggest that they continue courting, but she wasn't complaining. Especially not when he was doing such a good job of showing her exactly how much he liked her.
It was almost unfathomable how quickly things had changed. Moments earlier, she was lamenting her inevitable separation from the fire-demon and the subsequent heartache it would bring and now, she was officially bound to him by the rules of their courtship. It almost felt too good to be true, but when she felt his hands settle on her waist, strong and sure, she knew that this wasn't a dream. Hiei really did feel the same way that she did and he was willing to give them a try.
"Hiei," Botan said, breaking apart from him with a curious look in her eyes. He appeared to be slightly vexed by the interruption and she had to bite back a grin. She had no idea that Hiei would come to enjoy any sort of affectionate gesture so much, let alone something as sweet as kissing.
"What is it?" he asked impatiently.
"If we're going to be courting properly, does that mean you'll really be participating this time?"
"I thought I was participating right now," he said, his voice slightly rough with lust as his eyes trailed towards her rosy lips.
"No, I meant, would you possibly be willing to partake in some of the more romantic things?" she tried. "Like…actual dating and thoughtful gifts and pretty flowers?"
"Woman, if we can keep doing this, I'll give you anything you want," he promised.
"How romantic," she teased, her fingers sifting through the hair at the back of his head languidly.
The edge of his mouth slanted upwards, softening his crimson-eyed gaze in a rare moment of unguarded ease and she felt herself falling for him even more.
"I'm really glad that you decided to give it a go," she admitted.
He nodded in return, no words needed to convey the truth that was in his eyes.
"Do you think any of this would have happened without Yusuke's meddling?" she mused.
"I don't know," he answered honestly. "But I suppose it doesn't matter now."
She hummed in agreement.
It really didn't matter how they had found their way to each other, she was just happy that they eventually did.
Thanks everyone! I had such fun writing this up and I hope it brought you all some laughter and entertainment, too.
See you all in the next fic!