Chapter Eleven: Past and Present

Standard Disclaimer: I don't in any way, shape, or form, own Yu Yu Hakusho. It's so sad…I'd take care of it like it was my own too… sighs On with the story…:

"In the winter, when things were at the climax of fragility, she would stand out in the storm her hair catching every crystal until she sparkled just so, the shine in her eye depicting her innocence. And even in the midst of all that beauty, all I could see was her, but that didn't stop the flakes of snow from disappearing with a brief shift of our fingertips. It's so sad…I couldn't even touch her before she melted away before my very eyes…"

Sighs escaped the mouths of all the female students in the class. Their hands rested beneath their chins as they leaned forward, faraway looks gracing their eyes. Each one was dreaming that Shuichi Minamino was talking about the person they were hoping they were talking about. Themselves. And the young boys were just hoping that the perfect Shuichi wasn't talking about one of their girlfriends.

The teacher rose from her desk, clapping her hands with excitement. "Wonderful! Wonderful Mr. Minamino!" She patted the red head on the shoulder warmly. He took it with a small, but slightly embarrassed smile.

Maybe I should have written about something else…

"You see class! That was pure emotion. You could feel the angst, the pure despair of it all. That was quality prose Mr. Minamino. It had a story to it, yet it flowed so poetically. It provokes thoughts in the mind, even if the words and structure of it were simple." She made extravagant motions with her arms, walking up and down the aisles of her class as she continued her lecture.

"You see, by keeping the simplicity of some lines, more description in others, and reading it with emotion then it becomes alive and real. Very nice job Mr. Minamino." She sat down, flipping through the names on her clipboard, her finger following the line down the columns until she rested on the next name in line. "Ms. Mashatori you're up next."

The brunette straighten out her skirt as she stood up from her desk. She walked slowly to the front of the class, her steps irregular. It was as if she was nervously dancing towards her destination. Kurama made his way past her, but she stopped him. He paused, his green eyes looking down at her in question.

"That was lovely Shuichi. W-Who ever you wrote that for, I-I'm sure she really feels t-the same way."

Kurama kept staring at her. Ami Mashatori. Her remark wasn't an ambiguous one. It wasn't hinting anything. It was simple and it was pure, and it showed her emotion. Sincere. Sweet. "Thank you Ami. I appreciate that." He said it in a whisper, not wanting to be plagued with questionnaires from his psychotic fan club.

Ami nodded and stood in front of her peers, a sheet of paper clutched in her hand. It was quivering from her unstable hold. Suddenly the lights tickled her skin unpleasantly…so hot and so bright. She felt the other girls in the room snickering, talking about her.

"Ugh, that Mashatori kid…Honestly does she think she actually has a chance with Shuichi Minamino? Please, she's just so plain and…mousy."

"Yea, I know. She's sort of creepy you know? She doesn't talk to anybody."

"I bet she wants to blow up the school or something. It's always the quiet ones."

She shut her eyes, suddenly it seemed the room was spinning. Sweat started to form on her forehead, trickling down her brow. She opened her eyes, her breaths coming in shallow. But then…then a pair of eyes found hers. They were kind and not judgmental, friendly. She smiled at Shuichi's smile, happy for some encouragement rather than a negative comment.

"I-I couldn't t-think of a title, s-so here it goes." She breathed in deep, ignoring the snickers and just stared at the floor. "There are things we don't know about people, secrets they try to hide in their eyes. I wish one day, someone would try to decode mine, talk to me, smile with me. But even the ones who smile, the ones we find perfect have their false faces. They feign happiness when they're crying inside. Only those in tune, the ones drowning themselves can really see into their heads. So similar on the inside, but different once you look through everyone else's eyes. To most…the waterfalls don't matter, the rivers means nothing; the tears just become invisible. All that matters is the water from the tap."

"Dang, she really is a freak."

Ami hung her head low as she handed her paper to her creative writing teacher. "The end." She said sadly as she walked to her desk. Mrs. Fushigaru smiled sympathetically, watching her student push herself through all of the negative comments.

"That was beautiful Ms. Mashatori. It's something hard to comprehend, especially the last part. I doubt that very many in here could tap into the ninety-nine percent of their brains they don't ever use to understand your message, but it is enlightening. The subject on which she is writing about is a problem that I myself see in this world. I was hoping that this class would help some of you see things differently, but one class alone that changes your outlook would be asking too much." She stood there, primly arranging the items on her desk. The class sat quiet at the teacher's fury. "Class dismissed. I'll see you next week."

The students filed out of the classroom, several of them talking about their 'lame' teacher and how they hated the class. Kurama slowly gathered his things, hoping that his female peers would be so upset and caught up in their own lives that they would just leave him alone. He was stressed out as it was. The very last thing he needed was a pair of strange girls hanging from both his arms.

Kurama cast a look back at his teacher, she was sitting hunched over her cluttered desk. Her spectacles were sliding just over the bridge of her nose, but she paid no attention to it. She was just too angry, he could tell and he couldn't blame her. Sighing he stepped out of the door, turning his gaze to the outside world.

It was a rainy looking day. The sky had been overcast since morning, letting out brief showers and sneaking in lulls of recovery in between. There was no snow that day; in fact, a lot of it was melting away with each little droplet of rain. He forgot his umbrella, and had to walk to Genkai's temple. They would be leaving for Makai soon, and he did not want to be late.

Wouldn't want to 'worry' them now would I?

He shrugged his shoulders haplessly. Even after the few days that had passed after the incident he was still a little embarrassed about not only eavesdropping, but being caught too. Yet his initial anger had faded, replaced by determination to prove them wrong. It must have been his Youko pride shining through and shining strong because he just couldn't stand his friends thinking of him as weak. He felt weak enough when he couldn't stop Botan's 'death' or bring her back.

"I guess I'll just have to get a little wet." He said to himself as he walked from underneath the ceiling above him. The rain hadn't really started yet, but halfway there it was certain to start pouring. As he walked, he kept his eyes down on the pavement, a little drop here, a little drop there, each one creating a wet dot on the sidewalk. As he kept his stare placed downwards, they met a pair of simple school shoes. He lifted his gaze up and noticed that he had almost walked right into Ami Mashatori, who had the good sense to bring an umbrella with her.

"H-hi S-shuichi." She said nervously fidgeting as she took a deep breath to ease her natural stutter. She smiled tentatively at him as the rain started to fall a bit more frequently, the beads just dripping from the outside of Ami's umbrella.

Kurama just nodded politely in acknowledgement before speaking. "On your way home I suppose?"

She nodded vigorously and stopped, simply just to look at him curiously and slightly…gratefully too. "T-thanks." She looked up at the sky and then back to Shuichi. "W-would you like to s-share my umbrella w-with me. Y-you don't have one d-do you?"

Kurama tilted his head sideways, it was barely noticeable, but Ami caught it and started to finger the hem of her blouse in regret. "Well, I'm actually not on my way home. I'm supposed to be meeting some friends somewhere else." His eyes frowned a bit. Ami having or not having a crush on him never really worried him, since he never thought she would actually take a step further.

Ami noticed the conflict in his eyes and she gave her crooked smile. "N-no Shuichi. I-I don't l-like you or anything. I-I just wanna talk to y-you. I j-just thought it would be nice to have a f-friend." She brushed her bangs out of her eyes and turned around to leave him behind, but he stopped her.

"It's not like I'm brushing you off Ami. You're a very nice girl and—" Kurama stopped when he saw her shaking her head in a 'I've heard this before' fashion.

"It's o-okay. Y-you don't have to f-feel sorry for me."

"No, I don't. I really do have something important to tend to and I'll be running late soon, so I'll probably have to run there anyway. Rain or not." Kurama noticed Ami's face was drawn up in serious thought as she bit her lower lip. "Is something wrong?" He asked.

"I was w-wondering, that important thing…i-is it about that girl?" She leaned in closer to look Kurama in the eye and watched as his jaw just dropped open very slightly. She watched his eyes widen a little, but it was barely noticeable and he recovered quickly. It was almost as if he wasn't shaken at all by her remark, even though she knew he was.

"No, of course not." He replied, keeping cool, he remained calm. He even stared right at her, right into Ami's eyes, as if challenging her. It was still a touchy subject, and he was certain, that this shy and well meaning girl would just leave it alone.

Unfortunately, she didn't get the memo.

"What is her name?" She asked, huddling beneath the umbrella to hide from the rain. She contemplated stepping forward to cover Shuichi's head, his hair had droplets of water on it. Soon, he would be soaked to the bone.

Kurama wanted to be angry, he wanted to tell Ami Mashatori to buzz off, to go take a long walk off of a short pier, but he wasn't feeling mad. He didn't say any of those things. He was too distracted by the fact that she actually mentioned Botan in a present tense. For a long time now, they had been talking about how she was, how she used to do things. But Ami didn't, and it made this little fluttering of hope in his heart, like the soft utterances of white wings, a dove tapping gently on the inside.

"Botan. Her name…is Botan." He replied carefully, as if tasting each word on the tip of his tongue. He liked talking about her in present tense. It was almost like…she had never left for a moment, and even when he realized that she was gone, it made him feel like he could bring her back. And suddenly he stopped caring about the facts, the odds, and the statistics of it all.

"What is she like?"

Kurama looked at Ami, this girl he barely knew, this girl who barely knew him or his situation. Did it really matter if she never knew Botan? Just talking about her to this girl who thought she was alive almost made it true. There was nothing wrong with that. Anyway, Ami Mashatori looked like she needed a friend and it already seemed that she would be a fairly good one herself.

"She is beautiful. Inside and out." He almost whispered as he stepped under the protective span of Ami's umbrella. She nodded and smiled with interest as they slowly made their way under the school archway. "She has her flaws of course, but we all do. Yet, every flaw she has…only seems to make her more beautiful." He started to smile, and to laugh.

"What?" Ami questioned innocently. Her head tilting upwards to look at him. "Why are you laughing?"

"I love her laugh. It was loud, always making others join in, putting us at ease. She smiles and laughs a lot, but I really don't mind at all."

"Where did you meet her?"

"At work. She is something of a message girl I guess you could say. It's a rather tough job, but she just makes it so much easier for me. She has to be, one of the most amazing people that I have ever met. I miss her…" He drifted off, somewhat sadly.

"Is she out of town?"

"I guess you could say that."

"Then don't worry. She'll come back." Kurama himself just couldn't stop grinning. It felt so good, just talking about Botan in present tense. Maybe he was lying to himself, but somehow, he felt he wasn't. "Thank you Ami."

She looked up at him puzzled, the question was doing a tap dance in her mouth, wanting to be let out. She wanted to ask: Thanks for what? But instead she requested something of her new friend. "Just promise me something Shuichi." He looked at her, from beneath the umbrella, wondering what she was going to make him promise, but he nodded in acknowledgement all the same. "Promise me that when Botan comes back, that I can meet this amazing girl."

Kurama stuck his hand out, shaking Ami's with a firm grip. The rain had stopped its harsh and bitter parade on the streets, and instead had turned back to a misting shower, light and foggy. "You can count on it."

Author's Note

My apologies for this long update, I've had this chapter ready for posting for a few weeks, but there were some complications with my parents and my grounding from the internet. But I will try to make it up to you. I was actually planning on making this much longer, but this is all I was able to conjure up. Sorry, sorry… I was also hoping on moving the story forward a bit, but I am a slave to the meager inspiration I get. I really want to keep it moving and I hope this didn't bore you too much. I'll get back up on my feet, I hope. Thank you for you support Hieifan666. Those emails really got me going. And also to Botan and Kurama lover whom I am very sorry for saying that I had twelve chapters when I only have eleven so far. I was thinking of some other fic. Yes, another mistake on my part. I love you all.

Reika