~*~*~*~*~ Roses and Peonies ~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~ Chapter 1 ~*~*~*~*~

Botan couldn't help but smile. She couldn't help but smile every time Yusuke's arm inched around Keiko's waist and Keiko's gaze would drift to Yusuke's eyes and a pinkish tinge would emerge on their cheeks.

Botan couldn't help but smile every time Kuwabara would go off in a passionate speech about the meaning of love and Yukina would respond with a sweet smile and a giggle.

She'd smile as she watched lovers lost in each other's eyes. They'd hold hands; their fingers laced, and walk side by side. When Botan smiled she knew that the lovers' cares had diminished. Wiped away by the caress of their companion's lips.

Botan would smile, but the smile was forced. The ends of her mouth would pull downward but Botan strained to keep them up. Straining and straining, until her jaw became sore.

She smiled to hide from the others her deep yearning for the feeling human's called love. She'd often walk down the dark streets at night and catch glimpses of two people bathed in the light of the street lamp, locked in each other's embrace. In the shadows, where no one was around, only then did she feel it save to let silent streams of tears flow down her cheeks. For that embrace was something she'd never feel.

Botan would often wake up to her empty room and walk over to her window, which overlooked a small park. Hers eyes would rove over the dew covered grass to the meandering brick path that ran throughout the expanse of the park. A small sigh would escape her lips as she saw a different couple walk that brick path. Even in the dead of winter, when the duck pond had turned into ice and snow blanketed everything as far as the eye could see in mantle of purest white, a couple or two would come. Though their breath crystallized in front of them and all the world was frozen, Botan new they were warm and the jackets weren't the cause.

And after she'd seen all that she could take Botan would crawl back under her wool quilt and curl up in an attempt to keep warm. Head buried in her pillow and eyes scrunched up tight, her mind would wander to and fro on the boundary of unconsciousness until at least she succumbed to its pull.


It had been a spur of the moment decision. Something about the park beckoned Botan from her dreamless sleep. Slightly unaware of what she was doing, Botan sprain out from under her quilt and to her closet. Selecting her light blue coat and the warmest pair of pants she had, she threw them on the bed and went about finding her light blue scarf.

Botan tore of her nightgown and pulled on the clothes she'd selected in a hurry. She didn't have a clue why she was rushing but she strangely felt a sense of urgency in the air, some unknown source was drawing her to the park. Fully clothed and wide-awake she strode over to her bedroom door. As an afterthought Botan flung a pair of ice skates over her shoulder.

With the utmost of caution, Botan crept down the hallway. Slowing the fast speed in which she'd erupted from her room to a mere tiptoe. She shared the apartment with Keiko, and Botan had learned from experience that Keiko did not like being woken up. Botan tried to keep quiet but she often lost control of her naturally loud disposition. It didn't help that Keiko was a light sleeper either. Whether she had found her hidden talent for stealth or the strange pulling force had somehow quieted her footsteps, she made it to the front door without incident.

A few more steps and Botan was in the elevator and punched the button for the first floor. (Botan and Keiko's apartment was located on the seventh.) The park was across the street so getting there was no great obstacle.

Botan much enjoyed the outdoors. The winter wind blowing through her blue hair, the crunch of snow under her boots, and the smell of pine wafting through the air. Her coat kept her warm but it could not prevent her cheeks, ears and nose from taking on a red hue. She loved winter; everything about it seemed...Cheery.

She entered the park and circled the playground. Botan flashed a genuine smile as tiny children frolicked and played on the jungle gym. They seemed so happy and carefree. One of the many joys of innocence.

Whether purposeful or not, Botan found her way to the brick path. From her window she had often longed to walk the path. To be enveloped the arms of a man and walk as though on air. The longing was not fulfilled. Botan expected it never would be. But as she walked her mind couldn't help but invent an imaginary man walking beside her. His hands wrapped around her own. Botan indulged the fantasy by cupping her hand slightly. The longer she walked, the more realistic the man seemed to be. By the time she reached the frozen pond Botan could even feel the warmth of his hand.

She looked up hopefully, but she wasn't surprised to find no one there. Her attention turned to the pond. Skaters crowded the surface, gliding across the ice with grace. She let her skates slide from her shoulder and into her hand. She was scanning the north end of the pond for an empty bench when a familiar voice entered her thoughts.


Botan turned around at the sound of her name. A friendly smile snagged the edges of her lips and pulled them upward.


Kurama it was. He sported his own winter gear, a tan jacket, black sweater, and denim jeans. Botan admired his red hair, which attracted nearly every girls attention, but what Botan thought was his most astounding feature was his eyes. They were deep and thoughtful with a deep emerald color. He gazed at her with them now, a faint smile on his lips.

"So, what brings you to the park?" Botan asked cheerfully.

"Same reason as you." Kurama answered nodding toward her skates and lifting his own into view.

"Oh! How lovely! I was afraid I would skate alone!" Botan exclaimed relieved.

Kurama laughed, "Agreed. Skating is far more enjoyable when done with friends." And with that Kurama pointed his finger to an empty bench.

They both sat down and pulled of their boots.

"Blue seems to be your favorite color."

The statement had caught Botan somewhat off guard. She looked at him with a questioning look, asking with her eyes how he knew that. Smiling, Kurama nodded his head toward her skates. Botan looked at them; they were a light blue, then her gaze drifted from her skates to her pants. They were also a light blue, as well as her jacket. In fact, everything she had on was blue! Right down to her hair.

"Ha! So it is!" Seeing her chance for a conversation Botan inquired, "What's your favorite color?"

"Hmm..." Kurama looked down thoughtfully then back up; "I don't really have a favorite. I suppose it's re-"

Kurama stopped mid-sentence and in a flash he was standing. Whirling around, looking for something.

"What is it Kurama?" Botan asked concerned.

"I sense..." Kurama's eyes widened. "Botan! Get down!"

Not waiting for her to oblige, Kurama collapsed to the ground and pulled her down with him. He draped an arm over her, shielding Botan from whatever would happen next.

And then, the ground erupted.


So...What do you think? It's my first Yu Yu Hakusho fic so be nice! Please review! ^_^