Keywords: Romance, Angst, Lust, Revelation
Summary: Koenma sighed impatiently..."I hate to break it to you, Yusuke, but the world doesn't revolve around you...This is what life and death is. People are born, they live, they eventually die..."
Disclaimer: I do not own Yu Yu Hakusho or any of the characters. They rightfully belong to their respective owners.
Author's Notes: Okay, we've finally dwindled down to our last chapter. Oh my gosh, I am so relieved and happy that this ficlet is out of my hands now. To all who waited so patiently, thank you. Honestly, there is no way I can tell you how difficult it was to end this story because all the alternate endings I typed up did not flow well with the rest of the story. So forgive me for taking so long, but I'd rather make my readers wait months for a good ending instead of giving you guys a crappy ending in only two weeks. But still, I apologize. I love you all for waiting so long. This story has thrived on all of your responses and encouragements. I never realized there were so many Yusuke/Botan fans! And knowing this, there is no way I'm going to stop with Nox. I'm going to keep going and make everyone at least tolerate of Yusuke/Botan fics because honestly, how can you not like them a little bit? They're too cute together! Anyway, here's the story and I've hoped all of you have enjoyed reading it just as much as I have enjoyed writing it!Okay, we've finally dwindled down to our last chapter. Oh my gosh, I am so relieved and happy that this ficlet is out of my hands now. To all who waited so patiently, thank you. Honestly, there is no way I can tell you how difficult it was to end this story because all the alternate endings I typed up did not flow well with the rest of the story. So forgive me for taking so long, but I'd rather make my readers wait months for a good ending instead of giving you guys a crappy ending in only two weeks. But still, I apologize. I love you all for waiting so long. This story has thrived on all of your responses and encouragements. I never realized there were so many Yusuke/Botan fans! And knowing this, there is no way I'm going to stop with I'm going to keep going and make everyone at least tolerate of Yusuke/Botan fics because honestly, how can you not like them a little bit? They're too cute together! Anyway, here's the story and I've hoped all of you have enjoyed reading it just as much as I have enjoyed writing it!
Botan adored playing with me. On any given day, we'd have different roles, different lives, different personas. But today, she wanted it to be simple, just us, the high school students. And all I had to do was smile and go along with her charade. In the end, I always got what I wanted.
I don't remember her being in any of my classes but today, she was there, sitting a few rows in front of me. I didn't know whether this was English or Math or whatever. My attention was completely focused on Botan. I watched her curiously, watched as she shifted her legs to bring her knees together. The movement was deliberate, my signal.
It only took a few minutes before we were locked away in an empty classroom. The tried and true excuse of 'needing to go to the bathroom' always came through. I was fairly certain we had both skipped that particular class enough times to fail but did it matter? No, nothing ever mattered when Botan smiled so innocently with that coy look in her eyes. She had a way of making you forget about everything else but her. However she wasn't so gentle today. She didn't want to be shy. As soon as I closed the door behind us, she already had me pinned to the wall, her fingers raking against my uniform. I shivered and she pouted.
"We only have twenty minutes. I waited too long."
I smirked. "That's still enough time. Besides, we have morning break next." I gripped at her arms and quickly swung her. She landed on the teacher's desk with a quiet yelp, pencils and pens clattering to the floor while stacks of papers drifting around us. My smirk fell when I stared into her eyes. I could always get lost in her eyes. "I missed you."
Botan blushed deeply but her tone became serious. "I never left you." Her fingers went to the first button of my uniform. Each button she unfastened was punctured with her next words. "I've been right here by your side." And she paused at my chest, resting her palm against my beating heart. She smiled softly. "I could never leave you, Yusuke. You know that."
I suddenly felt my shoulders shaking. I knew what was happening. It always happened. "Then why am I dreaming?"
She gave me a puzzled look. "What do you mean?" She smirked and I felt her legs wrap around my waist. She arched her back suggestively and I felt a warm shiver travel through me. Botan lifted herself up and circled her arms around my neck. "Do you still think you're dreaming?"
Instead of answering, I leaned forward and let my fingers trace her face. I always did this, just to make sure I didn't forget a single detail of her. Botan smiled again and then there was nothing but eyes and lips and skin and her. And as her caresses and touches became less gentle and more demanding, I forgot that I was dreaming.
"Yusuke! Wake up!"
I sat up in bed suddenly, glancing around quickly before focusing my gaze on my mother. "Okaasan...?" I rubbed at my eyes to clear my blurred vision. "For the nth time, what are you doing here?"
She had made herself comfortable in front of my bed. Fetching a chair from the kitchen, sipping on tea, and skimming through a stack of magazines. She hadn't bothered to look up at me, she was engrossed with some article she was reading. "I came to visit you. You do realize that it's past twelve in the afternoon."
My eyes narrowed dangerously. "Go home, mother." I muttered rudely. Hey, could you blame me for being awoken from a very pleasant dream? I climbed out of bed and stalked over to the bathroom, slamming the door behind me. When I came out a while later, dressed and still irritable, she was there, drinking her tea with a fresh magazine in her lap. "What are you still doing here? I thought I said-"
"Yusuke, what's the matter with you?"
She flipped the page, skimmed, then flipped the page once more. "What are you talking about? Ever since I got here you've been sulking! Not to mention these pasts weeks have been awful. Why? And you know what..."
I tuned her out as I stepped out my bedroom and made my way to the kitchen. So what if I was sulking? I have a right to be and it's none of my mother's business anyway! And for once, I've been keeping to myself. Usually, when I'm in a really bad mood, I make everyone else around me just as miserable. But now, I'm not bothering anyone. All I wanted was solitude. But I can't even get that. Everyone keeps hassling me, asking if I'm all right, telling me everything's going to be okay, and blah, blah, blah. But they don't understand. How can I be? How can it get any better? How-?
"Yusuke, are you listening to me!" My mother's shrieking voice pierced the air. I bit down on my lip when she snatch my ear and pulled me back to her with a strength I didn't know she had. "Don't you know that it's rude not to listen to your mother when she's speaking!"
Usually, I would have fought back to the bitter end but I was so exhausted. "Please," I begged quietly. "Let me go."
She immediately did, taken aback by my tone of voice. She was silent for a moment before she spoke up. "Yusuke..." Her voice was gentle now, motherly. "What's wrong? I just want to-"
"Help?" I offered. I walked towards the refrigerator and pulled the door open. Nothing except bottled water. "You and everyone else, Okaasan."
"But I'm different from everyone else." She declared. "I have a mother's intuition."
I half scoffed, half laughed. "What good could that-?"
"Did Botan leave you?"
My hands involuntarily clenched and my throat tightened up. Stop, mom. Please don't talk about her. Please, please.
"I knew you two were dating." Okaasan stated matter-of-factly.. "I mean, who didn't? But I had my doubts with your behavior."
I managed to find my voice again. "What do you mean?"
Mother stepped into the kitchen and took a seat at the table. She pointed an accusing finger at me. "The way you ran back to Keiko all the time, I thought that maybe you two were still in love or something. That all you needed was a little time. That maybe-"
"I don't love Keiko." I replied. How many times have I said that? "At least, not like that anymore." I turned around to face her, quiet for several moments. I was clearly aware of my wishy-washy behavior. But I had never taken the opportunity to actually explain why I acted so selfishly. I never thought anyone would understand. Now, here was my chance. I spoke up again. "I...clung to her because having something familiar was comforting." I took a seat across from her. "My relationship with Keiko didn't work out so how was I supposed to know if it would work with a new girlfriend?"
When my mother didn't answer right away, I turned away from her, embarrassed and flushed. I can't believe I'm having this conversation with her, of all people. But then again, I can't really imagine myself having this conversation with any other person in the world. Eventually, Okaasan smiled knowingly.
"That's the beauty of relationships, Yusuke." She said. "Tell me, how was your relationship with Keiko?"
"Like opposites attracting," I muttered. "But we argued...everyday over everything. She and I were too different and I realized that before she did."
"So you have doubts? Big deal, everyone person goes through that." She leaned forward. "You know what your problem is, Yusuke? You bring problems from your old relationship into your new one. You never completely severed ties with Keiko. When you didn't do that, unnecessary chaos and drama was inevitable." When I didn't answer her, she spoke again. "But when you had Botan, were things that bad?"
I looked at her. "I don't know." I answered truthfully. My eyes went downcast. "She left me before I could find out."
"Then what are you waiting for?" She inquired. "Go after her."
"It's not that simple." I stood up and headed towards the front door. "Things are not that simple."
"Where are you going, Yusuke?" Okaasan called. The legs of the chair scraped the floor as she stood up.
"Just to take a walk." I replied.
"Do you mind if I talk to you first?"
I stopped walking and I saw my mother step out of the kitchen to join me. We glanced at each other before we turned our attention to the living room where Koenma sat, dressed in regular clothing and the pacifier gone. I frowned to myself. He was the last person I wanted to see right now. And just like that, my slightly elevated mood came crashing down. The more I looked at him, the more I couldn't help but think about what he'd said the last time we talked.
"Is this a friend of yours, Yusuke?" Mother asked.
My eyes narrowed. "Something like that." I murmured softly.
I watched her bow slightly. "Good afternoon, I don't think you and I have met. My name is Atsuko."
Koenma smiled while standing up. "No, we haven't formally met. My name is Koenma." And to my mother's surprise and my annoyance, politely took her hand and kissed it. "Yusuke talks about you all the time."
"Oh really?" She seemed very pleased about that. She laughed a little. "Well, I hope it's all good things. Or else..." She ruffled my slicked-back hair until all my bangs fell in front of my eyes. "Would you like something to eat? Drink?"
The Reikai prince shook his head. "No, thank you. I was just dropping by. I shouldn't be staying long."
"If you change your mind, Yusuke's here." Okaasan stood up on her toes and kissed my cheek. "Stop by for dinner, I'm ordering pizza." And then she was gone with the slam of the front door.
Koenma turned to face me, his smile gone. "How are you?"
I ignored his question. "You really have some nerve, coming in here unannounced like that. Oh, and just to let you know, I'm not doing any more of your stupid cases, Koenma."
His eyebrow rose. "But I always come unannounced, that's my style. I thought you would have gotten used to it by now. It's been five years." When I didn't respond, he continued. "So, what are you saying? Are you quitting?"
"Yeah, I think I am."
Koenma sighed impatiently, in a way that made me feel somehow inferior to him. "Why do you always insist on being so immature?"
"And why do you always have to be such an asshole!" I countered, barely controlling my anger. "It's been three weeks, Koenma! Three weeks! Why won't you bring her back! I know you can!"
"I hate to break it to you, Yusuke, but the world doesn't revolve around you."
"But it wasn't fair."
Koenma held my gaze for a moment before he pointed towards the window. "One hour ago a little girl lost her mother when she was hit and killed instantly by a drunk driver. Do you think that's fair? Ten minutes ago a boy watched his older brother die from a stray bullet from a nearby robbery. Do you think that's fair? And tomorrow, a husband will lose his wife of five years to cancer. Do you think that's fair, Yusuke?" When I didn't reply, Koenma continued. "This is what life and death is. Everyone, everyday, loses a loved one and they eventually move on with their lives. People are born, they live, they eventually die. That's how the endless waltz goes.
"Besides, you oversimplify everything. I can't just bring Botan back with the snap of my fingers. It's a pretty hard process." He was quiet for a moment. "And I know it's hard for you, but try not to be selfish and think of this: haven't you ever thought that maybe she doesn't want to come back? Maybe she's happier now, wherever she is."
My eyes went a little wide. "Wait, you don't know where she is?"
"Yes and no." Koenma answered. "Botan was the first deity to die. So, she kind of caused a little confusion for us. She's in spirit world but Reikai is a really big place. She could be anywhere."
I stared at him for a few tense moments before I spoke again. "Then what do you want? The demon's dead. Kurama's okay again. Ningenkai is safe. What do you want from me?"
"Just to see how you're doing." He replied. "After the fight, you locked yourself away from everyone else except your mother."
"Gee, I wonder why?" I questioned sarcastically.
"I don't know. No one's seen him. You should ask Hiei."
"I already did. He doesn't seem to know either."
"Then I can't help you-"
"Was it painful, Yusuke?" Koenma asked, his voice very low but curious. "The way she died."
Despite myself, I suddenly laughed. But it was bitter. "How can you ask me that?" I demanded. "Besides, weren't you watching?"
"I watched the fight. I stopped after Botan stepped in the way of Kurama's attack."
I could still hear her gasping and...the blood. "Yeah, it was painful." I took a few steps towards him. I wanted him to feel guilty, I wanted someone else to blame besides myself. "She was gagging and gasping. She couldn't breathe, Koenma. She started coughing up blood and stuttering and I just sat there and watched because she wanted me to stay." I got in front of him, silently challenging him.
"I've never been a big fan of death." Koenma confessed after a moment, commenting more to himself than to me. "It comes to a point that the thought of it doesn't phase you anymore. I guess it didn't bother her either."
"Death bothered her." I corrected him. "She just kept it hidden really well from you."
Koenma's eyes flickered when he finally stared at me. "You think you knew her better?" He asked. His voice was neutral but to me, he sounded offended.
I never answered his inquiry. "Why did you say she's foolish?"
"Because she was and you just used present tense. I already explained this to you, remember Yusuke?" He responded. Finally, he headed towards the front door. "Anyway, it's good to see that you haven't tried anything stupid. Suicides are always the worst." He wrinkled his nose in distaste. "Very messy, you know."
"Wait," I called. Koenma turned around, gazing at me expectantly. "There...was something Botan said that bothers me."
"What is it?"
"She said she'd never died before."
"I already told you, Yusuke. She was the first-"
"I know that." I snapped. "But I thought the only way for human girls to become deities was to die. Why did she say it was her first time? Why is she the exception?"
Koenma continued to stare at me for what seemed like forever. Then he turned around and opened the front door. "I'll see you later, Yusuke."
"You never answered my question!"
He didn't spare me a glance as he walked away. "Because you never answered mine."
It was raining. But then again, it's been raining for the past week. I had finally ventured out of my home but I had no idea where to go. I wasn't supposed to be at my mother's for another four hours and there was no way I was going to visit Kuwabara or anyone else. I just wanted to be left alone but not in my apartment. Staying there for so long was like living in a tomb. So, after an hour of wandering the streets, I ended up on top of my school's roof, attempting and failing to light a cigarette. My clothes were drenched and my skin was chilled to the bone but I couldn't feel it.
I don't know how long I stayed out there, lost in reveries about a certain girl with blue hair. But I was still there when the rain began to pound harder and a clasp of thunder sounded around me while the final dismissal bell rang. I glanced downwards, at the spot a few feet away from the roof's door. And I couldn't help it, I smiled a little. I first kissed Botan right there. In the rain, her fingers combing through my hair, her body leaning against mine-
"Are you thinking about our first kiss, too?"
I glanced behind me to see Botan grinning fondly in my direction. Dressed in her school uniform and a pink umbrella in her hand. I already knew I was dreaming but I couldn't help but get caught up in it. I just wondered when I had fallen asleep and not realized it.
"Yes," I finally answered.
"I wasn't expecting it, honestly. The kiss and all." She continued. Her grin became a dreamy smile. "But it was nice. No, more than nice. Feels like it all happened yesterday." Botan glanced down at my hands and gave me a look of disgust as she snatched up my cigarettes. "I'm forbidding you from having these, Yusuke! They'll kill you!"
I chuckled. "Death wouldn't be so bad compared to this."
Her eyes widened before she felt my forehead. "Yusuke, you've been acting strange lately. Are you all right? You're not sick are you?"
"No, I'm just sad."
Botan's voice was heavy with concern. "Why?" She wrapped her arms around me, disregarding that fact that I was completely wet. "Did I do something? If I did, I'm really sorry." She shyly kissed my cheek. "I can make it up to you and-"
"I miss you,"
She smiled, grasping my hand. She leaned her forehead against my cheek. "I'm right here, Yusuke." Botan hugged me again. "I never left you."
"Yusuke, wake up." This time it was Keiko, gently shaking my shoulders. Her expression was filled with worry. "How long have you been out here?"
I opened my eyes and realized I was on my back, staring into Keiko's brown eyes, looking up at her red umbrella. "I don't know. At least an hour." My chest tightened when my thoughts drifted back to my dream. They always felt so real.
"You'll catch your death out here."
For once, her voice wasn't scolding and fussing. Her smile looked just as exhausted as I felt.
"How did you know I was up here?"
"You kind of gave yourself away." She replied. "I saw someone up here and I knew it was you." Keiko was quiet for several moments before she spoke again. "I know you've probably heard this a million times but, are you all right?"
"No," I answered.
"I thought so." She sighed. "You've missed so much school but you still have time to make up all the work. I can help you."
I snorted. "School is the last thing on my mind, Keiko."
Her eyes dropped low, to my hands, noticing my lighter and my soggy cigarette. "That stuff will kill you one day."
"I know, Botan said the same thing." I saw Keiko's hand ball up tight at the mention of Botan's name and I chuckled. "Look what she's done to me, Keiko. I can't smoke, can't drink, can't do anything anymore because of her." Out of frustration, I threw the lighter and the cigarette over the rooftop, just another habit broken.
"She had that kind of affect on the people she adored." Keiko stated. "You know, I know this is silly and random but she and I talked about weddings one time-"
I groaned aloud. "Keiko, I don't think this is the time-"
"Just listen!" She snapped abruptly, irritably. Her voice became quiet again. "Just listen because I need you to." I stared at her for a second before I nodded. She cleared her throat and started once more. "Like I was saying, Botan and I were talking about weddings one time. I mean, we did everything. We picked out our dresses, our bridesmaids' dresses, the flowers, the food, our hairstyles and anything else we could think of.
"I was the more conservative type, you know? I wanted a small, quiet wedding, a little reception, and maybe a short honeymoon. No one but close friends and family would be invited. But she wanted everything big and loud and wild but still elegant. Botan had said she would invite everyone to her wedding. Even people she had met only once." Keiko gazed into her lap. "Falling in love...was such a big thing for her. She wanted to announce it to the world that someday, some person would capture her heart.
"And I said to her, whoever does will be the luckiest person in the world. I don't know why, even though we'd known each other for years, there was something about her. There were things I still did not know about her. But what I do know is that she never took anything for granted. She always appreciated everything and everyone everyday. So when Botan did fall in love, I felt...threatened and scared. Part of me knew that you and I wouldn't last but I was too afraid of admitting it. It was like she had wooed you without even trying." She shook her head. "I know I was childish but I wanted to be her, Yusuke. Have that innocence, that blithe, her unattainable beauty." Keiko glanced towards the gray sky.
I was quiet for a moment. Then, "Why didn't you ever tell her?"
She laughed. "Because I could never tell her. But I guess, telling the truth is always like a big relief." She pressed a finger to her lips. "You can't tell her I told you this. If she ever found out, she'd think I was ridiculous."
I frowned slightly. "You act as if she's coming back."
"And why wouldn't she be, Yusuke?"
"Because Koenma doesn't want her to come back." I pounded my hands against my legs, my anger returning. "You should have seen him, Keiko. He acted so cold, like he didn't give a crap if Botan died or not. He said that she was careless but that shouldn't have mattered. She was brave. I'm still so angry at her for doing it. But at the same time, I can't help but-"
"Admire her." Keiko finished for me, completely understanding. She paused for a second. "As for Koenma, have you ever seen the way he looks at Botan whenever no one is around?" When I shook my head, she continued. "At first I thought it could have been slight infatuation but then I realized it wasn't. I don't really know Koenma well but he definitely seems like the aloof type when it comes to expressing his emotions. However, when he looks at Botan, you can see it. He loves her like a little sister."
"But you weren't there when he said that-"
"When you're angry, it's amazing what you can say and do. Remember us? We said some terrible things to each other when we were upset. But we never meant them, we were just...caught up in our emotions. That's what makes us human, Yusuke. We make mistakes. So when Koenma saw Botan dead in your arms like that, he couldn't fathom why she had been so willing to sacrifice everything over something like love. He's a believer but, to him, love is fleeting. He was just angry with her." She smiled sympathetically. "It's really simple if you think about it. Older brothers always want to protect their little sisters from all the evils of the world." Keiko glanced at me. "All right, your turn."
"My turn? What do you mean?"
"I told a story. Now, it's your turn."
"I don't want to."
"Come on, Yusuke." She urged gently. "Talking always helps, I promise. Do you think when you first died, I kept it all bottled up forever?"
My curiosity was roused. "Who did you talk to?"
She waved her hand dismissively. "Another story for another time, Yusuke."
I stayed silent for a long time, listening to the rain pound against Keiko's umbrella. "I dream about her. Every night."
"And what are your dreams about?"
"I can't even call them dreams. It's more like lucid dreaming." I answered. "I already know she's dead and every time I tell her that this moment, her, and everything is a dream, she tells me it's not. And I have no choice but to believe her until I wake up." I was quiet for a moment. "Koenma said that there is a chance that, wherever Botan is in Reikai, she could be happier there than she was here. But I don't care. I was always selfish when it came to her. And the possibility of not having her to myself...I would never let it cross my mind until now."
"So you're afraid that it will actually happen?" Keiko asked. "That she would stay in Reikai forever?" When I didn't reply, she ventured on. "She would at least visit, wouldn't she?"
"No. I can't see her again, Koenma made sure of it."
I looked away when Keiko smiled sadly. "Why are you being so pessimistic?"
"I'm just being realistic."
Keiko suddenly touched my cheek and wiped away the raindrops. "You look like you're crying." She murmured. I licked my lips, tasting sweet rainwater and salt from tears but I didn't say anything. She dropped her umbrella, took her free hands, and wrapped them around my shoulders, hugging me.
"I just need some reassurance." Keiko muttered. "I'm sorry for being so girly." But I knew she was lying for my sake. I was the one who needed it.
I was stiff in her embrace for just a few seconds before I gave in and grasped her arm in my hand. "I miss her." I confessed.
Keiko was crying now, she never hid it when she did. She was one of the few who was never ashamed of weeping. "I know you do." Her voice was steady. "I do, too." We were quiet for several minutes before I abruptly pulled away from her, sneezing violently. She blinked before laughing. "Aww, you've caught a cold."
I sniffled. "Fantastic," I muttered. I could feel the beginnings of a pounding headache coming on.
Keiko grabbed her umbrella. She extended her hand. "Let's go to my house, Yusuke. I'll make you some hot chocolate. You'll feel better."
I didn't bother to take her hand as I stood up. "I doubt it."
She found my fingers and squeezed them and I suddenly understood what she meant. "You will," She promised and I believed her.
"What the hell were doing out in the rain, Yusuke?" Mother asked as she slapped her hand against my forehead, feeling for a fever. She plopped down beside me on the couch. "And it was raining so hard outside today. I can't believe you! Are you trying to kill yourself from sickness?"
"Maybe," I responded. When I caught the quick but worried look in my mother's eyes, I sighed. "It's just a cold, Okaasan." I muttered.
"You're a little warm." She murmured. "I'm going to go get you that medicine." She moved away from me and towards the kitchen.
"No way!" I suddenly exclaimed. "That stuff tastes like crap!" Quickly, I stood up but a swift wave of dizziness washed over me. I stumbled before I landed on the couch. Maybe this cold was worse than I thought. Mother was already back by my side, helping me up.
"Don't move." She instructed. "And think logically about this, Yusuke. If you want this cold to go away as quickly as possible, you'll take the medicine." She frowned to herself. "I ordered the pizza too. But since you're sick, you'll just have to have some soup and tea instead."
I shook my head. "I don't like soup. Just one slice of pizza and I'll take all the medicine you want me to until I overdose."
Her eyes grew hard; so was the hand that struck the back of my head. "Urameshi Yusuke!" Her cheeks flushed red with anger. "Why do you-!" But she never got to finish, to my relief. The doorbell had rung. Mother looked towards the door, her fury gone as quickly as it came. "I wonder who that could be?" She stood and walked the short distance to the door. I collapsed on the couch again, ready to fall asleep when I heard Okassan's yelp of delight. I opened a weary eye to see her right in front of my face. "Someone's here to see you, Yusuke."
I turned around. "Kuwabara? What are you doing here?"
Mother glanced at her watch. "Oh, look at the time. I think I should go hit the town!"
I gave her a confused look before realization hit me in the face. "You set this up!" I yelled. "I told you I didn't want to see anyone!"
Mother seemed to have not heard me or chose to ignore me as she walked to the closet to retrieve her coat. "Yusuke, if you need anything, just tell Kazuma. He'll take good care of you." She turned her attention to Kuwabara. "Thank you so much for coming, Yusuke's been very lonely."
"No, I haven't!" I barked.
"No problem, Urameshi-san."
Okaasan laughed. "No need for formalities, Kazuma. Just call me Atsuko. I'm not that old, am I?"
"Yes, you are!" I yelled. I received a heated glare from her.
"Of course you're not." Kuwabara assured her. "I swear, the first time I saw you, I thought you were Yusuke's sister."
"You're full of it, Kuwabara!"
Mother giggled. "Oh, you're too much, Kazuma. Thank you. Oh, before I forget. The pizza should be here in about ten minutes. I left the money on the counter. Yusuke's medicine should be on the counter too and I left emergency numbers by the phone."
"I don't need a babysitter, Mom!"
"Bye, Kazuma! Bye, Yusuke!" And she was gone.
Kuwabara turned to face me, the polite smile gone from his face. "Urameshi,"
My eyes narrowed. "What are you doing here?"
"Came to visit." He responded. "Your mother and Keiko strongly recommended."
I rolled my eyes. "Why can't those two ever mind their own business?" I scowled. "They need boyfriends or something."
"Maybe they care about you a little too much." He snapped. Kuwabara walked over before seating himself on the couch. "Look at you, Urameshi. Locking yourself away in your apartment. Talking to no one. I was really tempted to come over here and beat you up."
I looked at him for a moment before I burst into laughter. That's one thing about Kuwabara, he can always make you laugh. "You have to be kidding?" I said between gasps. "You? Beat me up?" I smirked as my laughter died down. "Even if I was on my deathbed, Kuwabara, I could still kick your ass."
He wasn't laughing. "That may be so." He commented. "But at least I'm not a coward."
My smile quickly fell. "What are you...?" Then I frowned, realizing what he meant. "I don't need this from you. I've already heard it enough from Keiko and my mother. So do me a favor and get the hell out."
But Kuwabara made no move to do so. "Almost three weeks of sulking. I don't know how you can take it. I know I couldn't."
"It's called mourning, Kuwabara."
"I know what it's called, Urameshi." He replied. "I bet if Botan was here right now-"
"Well she's not so shut up."
"-She'd really let you have it." He finished, pretending he had not been interrupted.
"Stop talking like you knew her so well."
"Urameshi," When I looked up I was treated to another punch to my head. Damn, that was the fifth one today. Why does everyone like hitting me? "Don't act like that. You weren't the only one who knew her. We did too. Besides, you didn't start paying attention to Botan until things between you and Keiko got a little rough."
"That's not true." I felt my cheeks get warm. "When I first saw Botan, I...knew she was attractive."
"Yeah, yeah. But eventually, everyone knew that you guys had a thing for each other after things were sort of over with you and Keiko. You wouldn't even admit it to yourself."
I scoffed. "Didn't know you were smart enough to put it together. But then again, I take that back. Who told you?"
"No one told me. I had my suspicions and my sister confirmed them for me after she talked to Botan that night during your birthday party." He was quiet for a moment before he spoke again. "You know, you made Botan really upset with the way you were acting, running back and forth from her to Keiko. Personally, I think it made you look pathetic."
"I was drunk, Kuwabara. I can barely remember what I did that night."
Kuwabara grinned mischievously. "Oh, then let me refresh your memory." He cleared his throat and I groaned softly. "After Keiko arrived at your party, you ditched Botan on the dance floor. Botan went to the deck, where she started talking to Shizuru for a while. Then after conversing with Keiko and several bottles of beer later, she gave you her gift." He chuckled. "Now, here's the funny part: after Keiko gave you her gift, you tried to kiss her and she slyly dodged your advances knowing full well that Botan was five feet away and-"
"All right, I get it." I ground out. "You can stop."
However, Kuwabara had no intention of doing so. "I don't blame Botan for running off with Kurama like that. I mean, with you being such a total jackass and leading Botan on and on and..."
I tuned Kuwabara out as he ranted on. Okay, I take back what I said about being drunk. Obviously, I wasn't. I still can remember everything. But I don't have a better explanation for why I acted the way I did that night. I know it's completely ridiculous but maybe I just wanted to see Botan get a little jealous. I mean, what guy doesn't feel his ego go up a little when a girl he's interested in gets jealous when he starts hanging around another girl? Selfish? Yes. And it completely backfired on me. I wasn't too happy when I found out she had ditched my party and spent the rest of the night with Kurama. Talk about bad karma.
When I still heard Kuwabara talking, I interrupted. "Are you finished?" I demanded.
"Yeah, just about."
"Then take me up on my offer and get out. Can't you see I'm sick?"
"Can't do that, I promised your mother I would keep you company until she came back."
"You don't know my mother." I frowned. "When she decides to go 'hit the town,' it's normal for me not to hear from her for about a day or so. She won't be back until tomorrow afternoon."
"Then I guess I'll be here for a while." Kuwabara beamed and my frown deepened.
"I'm so lucky." I murmured before I suddenly sneezed violently. "Stupid cold."
Later that night, I ended up dreaming again. Dreaming about my birthday party. Everything was the same except for a few things. Botan had never run off with Kurama, I had never left her for Keiko, and everything was right. We were dancing slow, swaying back and forth to the rhythm of a song.
Now that I think about it, I know my biggest fear was forgetting about her. I'm afraid I'll forget what Botan feels like when I hold her, or how her eyes light up when she smiles, or how she runs her fingers through my hair until my bangs fall. I'm always afraid that I won't remember her.
"This is a dream." I murmured against her.
Her face was buried in the crook of my neck. I could feel her lips curl. She misunderstood my meaning. "Yeah, it does feel like a dream. I always feel that way when I am with you. Did you know that?"
It was inevitable I was going to wake up and lose her like I did every night. So instead, I didn't say anything and I held her tighter to me as we danced. And it felt like forever before I pulled away from Botan to look into her eyes.
"I miss you." I know I said it every night but I had to. I needed to her to somehow know. Everyday, every minute, every second I missed her. And I knew what she would always say.
Botan giggled. "You're so silly, Yusuke." Her hand touched my chest, resting above my heart. "I'm right here."
"No, you're not." I persisted. "If you were, you'd be alive. I...would have saved you." My vision blurred over as a very familiar burning came to my eyes. No, not again, not again.
"Yusuke, I was never dead. See?" She took my hand and pressed it against her cheek. Her free hand came to rest on top of mine. "Everything is fine, nothing's wrong-"
"I love you."
Botan's eyes widened slightly before she eventually sighed in relief. "You have no idea how long I've waited to hear you say that." She threw her arms around me. "I love you. I love you. I love you. I-"
I woke up with a start, my heading pounding in pain and my heart hammering against my chest. I glanced down and was able to make out Kuwabara's sleeping figure in the darkness. After I caught my breath, I laid back down and focused my eyes on the ceiling. I had lost count of how many times I had dreamt about Botan. But these dreams weren't bad compared to the ones at the beginning. At first, all I would dream about was her death, her blood everywhere. Now, even though these dreams were bliss compared to the nightmares, it was like being unable to touch what I really wanted. No matter how many times I showed her my love, my remorse, my longing, I knew Botan was dead and I couldn't get her back.
I felt my eyes burn for a moment and I slapped a hand against my eyes. "I'm sorry, Botan."
"I'm actually very surprised, Yusuke." Keiko said. "I thought it would come to the point I'd have to drag you to school."
"Yeah, I thought it was about time I graced the class with my presence." I replied. "Besides, we're almost done with high school. I never thought we'd get here. But we're here." When I glanced down, she was smiling brightly. "What are you so cheery about?"
She shook her head. "Nothing. Just glad to see you up and about. The last time I saw you, that cold looked really bad."
"It was bad. I'm still suffering a little."
"Hmm," Keiko stepped towards the roof's wired gate, looking down at all the other students in the courtyard. "You know, I was thinking of staying in Japan instead of studying abroad. I think I might get a little too homesick from being so far away from home." She glanced at me before her eyes went to the sky. "What do you think?"
"Do whatever you want. I can't really stop you from leaving, can I?" When I looked at her again, Keiko was frowning.
"Would you miss me if I did leave?"
I scoffed. "That's a stupid question." I snapped. When she turned to me again, I smiled. "You should already know the answer to that."
Instead of returning my gesture, her frown deepened. "The bell's about to ring. You're not coming back to class, are you Yusuke?"
"How'd you know?"
"I always know, a girl's intuition." Eventually she did smile, but her gaze had drifted to my hand. Or rather, what was in it. "You've been carrying that journal with you for the past few days. I didn't know you liked to write."
I gripped at the journal tighter, suddenly protective. "I don't and I've had it for a while."
"Really?" Keiko's smile grew wider. She held out her hand. "May I see?"
She approached me. "Please? Yusuke?" When I stepped back, she stepped forward. Then she pounced.
I struggled but she was too fast and too determined. "Oi! Let me go! I said no!"
Keiko snatched it up quickly from my fingers with a triumphant laugh. "Just a little peek, Yusuke." She opened the journal and began to read the first page. "Happy Birthday, Yusuke. I know boys usually don't like journals but..." And she trailed off as she began to read to herself. It wasn't long before her eyes widened and she looked up at me. Keiko suddenly shut the book before she handed it back to me. "Gomen nasai. I didn't know."
I merely shrugged. "Someone was bound to find out. I guess it might as well be you, Keiko." I laughed and she frowned. "Don't look at me like that, it's not that big of a deal." My eyes wandered to the journal in my hands. "Last week, I was actually cleaning my apartment and I stumbled upon it. I had no idea who it belonged to. At first, I thought it was yours but you're so careful with your stuff and this," I shook the journal for emphasis. "Was falling apart at the bindings. I...completely forgot Botan gave it to me as a present." I smiled sheepishly. "Now that I think about it, I even remember throwing it against the wall because I was so angry she took off with Kurama that night. Cruel of me, wasn't it?"
Keiko stepped forward, her hand extended. "Yusuke-"
The bell ringing cut her off.
She gave me a pleading look. "Come back to class with me."
"Not now," I answered. "Maybe later. But you'd better get to class. Don't ruin your perfect record because of me."
I knew Keiko wanted to say more but I turned away from her and didn't look back until I heard the roof's door slam shut. Alone at last. I hadn't been by myself for the past week. My mother, Keiko, and Kuwabara had taken it upon themselves to take shifts in order to look after me. To make sure, like Koenma said, I didn't do anything stupid. Believe me, I am appreciative of all the attention but it's come to the point that it's just down right annoying. All I wanted was some time to think.
I glanced up at the sky, blue and cloudless, hoping I would catch a glimpse of Botan's oar or hear her laugh. I still wanted to be mad with Koenma but I couldn't bring myself to be anymore, I was so tired. But I had come to one decision. If he didn't want to bring her back then I wouldn't be a spirit detective. Childish? Yes, but at this point, I couldn't have cared less. I wanted to see her again. Right now, I'm on the brink of going to Reikai, getting on my hands and knees, and begging Koenma for just a few minutes with her.
I don't know how long I stayed out there but it felt like hours before a breeze suddenly picked up and I sighed. I looked up at the sky again. "Why won't you bring her back?
"You know how Koenma works, Detective. But as of late...he has been acting peculiar."
I didn't bother to turn around. I smiled. "I know, tell me about it. But what are you doing here, Hiei? After everyone stopped looking for you?"
Hiei slowly approached before he was standing by my side at the gate. He didn't answer my question but got right to the point. "I've heard some things you might be interested in knowing."
I turned to look at him. "What is it?"
"Apparently Koenma's been keeping secrets from you."
I snorted. "That's nothing special. I always knew that he keeps information from me."
"Even still, go to Reikai. You might be surprised at what you find."
I felt my curiosity coming to the surface. "What is it? Tell me."
"Just go to Reikai and see for yourself, Yusuke." Hiei replied instead. He leapt up, landing on top of the gate with ease.
Before I could demand for more information. Hiei was already gone. I thought for a moment, wondering what could possibly be so important that Hiei would personally come and tell me. My eyes narrowed slightly, unable to come a conclusion. But there was at least one thing I had learned from all the years of being a spirit detective and I was finally going to put it to good use.
I don't know why it took me so long to put everything together. Koenma's attitude should have been my biggest lead but sometimes, it was too hard to tell with him. Koenma, I personally believed, like to be difficult to understand. However, it was no excuse for not solving this little mystery sooner. Getting into Reikai unnoticed was the easy part, getting into Koenma's office was another thing. But I came late into the night, when the Reikai palace wasn't so busy and most of the halls were deserted.
Like I had hoped, Koenma was still in his office, scribbling furiously away on a piece of paper. He was in his older from, pacifier missing. It was a newly developed habit of his. Koenma retreated back less and less to his original form. I was aware he always enjoyed hiding himself but I couldn't explain this. Irrelevant information but still something.
I stood outside his office doors, careful to control my breathing and movements. I was there for about a good half hour but nothing out of the ordinary was happening. and I was ready to leave. But then again, Hiei was not the type to send anyone on a wild goose chase unless-
I reacted first before my brain could catch up with me. I forgot how to breathe, my knees buckled slightly. And there was Botan, standing near a corner with a frown on her lips. My first thought was to run in there and literally tackle her, scream to everyone in hearing distance that she was alive and well, and tell her how much I missed her. But that was my irrational side talking, my rational side was reeling with new questions. Koenma was lying? Why was Botan here? Was anyone going to eventually tell me about this?
I watched as Koenma glanced up, going back to his paperwork a second later. "Yes, Botan?"
"I've completed my duties for the night. All the souls I were assigned have been collected and guided to their proper place. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
I felt myself frowning. Why was her voice so...dead? Not the greatest choice in words but it was the only way I could describe it.
"No, that will be all." Koenma sighed. "It's late, Botan. Why don't you turn in?"
Botan bowed deeply. "Of course, Koenma-sama. Goodnight."
I took a step back as she approached the doors. This was it. I only had a few choices but I had already made my decision before I realized it. I moved forward and pushed the doors open just as Botan was about to reach for them. She looked at me and her eyes widened and from there, it was hard to name the emotions chasing each other across her face. Her hand came to her mouth.
I could see Koenma had not bothering to look up until he had finished his paperwork. But eventually he was standing and approaching us. "Yusuke, I was wondering when you'd arrive."
"How did you know I was coming?"
He smiled lazily. "Hiei stopped by this afternoon, accidentally saw her," He nodded towards Botan. "And I knew he'd tell you. It was only a matter of time."
I focused my attention on Botan. "How long have you been alive?"
She looked away from me. "Yusuke..."
"How long?" My voice was echoing, my anger barely controlled.
"Koenma-sama, he..." Botan trailed off for a second, glancing back at Koenma. She started again. "He brought me back to life a few hours after Kurama killed me." She attempted to smile. "But it doesn't matter, Yusuke. The whole thing...it was complicated and-"
I stepped in front her, my hands clenching. "You lied to me, Koenma."
"Whatever you're thinking of doing, I wouldn't try it." Koenma replied smoothly, coldly.
Even though I wasn't looking, I knew Botan was nearing me. "Please, Yusuke. It doesn't matter."
"It doesn't matter?" I repeated. I suddenly felt so numb and I realized I was shaking. But I didn't know if it was from anger or something else. I had to be dreaming. I had to be. I faced Botan again, my fury reaching its peak. "I begged Koenma, Botan! I pleaded with him for weeks to bring you back because I thought what happened to you wasn't fair! But I bet you thought it was funny, right? I bet you two were laughing your asses off in Reikai. Did you think it was funny? Seeing me like that?"
Botan was quiet for a moment as her eyes widened in horror. They eventually began to water and it was so strange how I took satisfaction in her sadness.
"No," She shook her head vigorously, pleading with me. "You don't understand, it wasn't like that." She gripped at my hand. "You don't know how many times I wanted to come back and tell you I was all right. But Koenma-sama..." Botan didn't finish.
"Then why didn't you?" She was looking at the floor and I felt my free hand tremble. I wanted to touch her face.
"Because...I have to decide." Botan finally answered, her voice firm. "Koenma-sama said that it's not fair for me to have the best of both worlds, Yusuke. He thought it would be appropriate if I stayed in Reikai until I made decision. But he and I knew that I was eventually going to run off to find you."
"Who did you choose?" I asked gently.
She closed her eyes for a moment and I watched as tears streamed down her face. "Yusuke-"
"Don't be surprise if she decides to stay in Reikai, Yusuke." Koenma piped up. "Until recently, I believe you truly haven't appreciated this girl's presence in your life. No one had. You claim to know Botan better than me? I highly doubt that. I've known Botan for well over a millennia and I could never understand why you or anyone else never took her seriously." He sounded a little mocking now, but that could have just been my imagination. "Botan has always been flawless at hiding her true emotions behind her smile." Koenma took a step forward, "Really think about, Yusuke? Why should she choose you?"
I was silent for several moments before my I grinned bitterly. "You're right." I agreed. "Why should you choose me, Botan? Over immortality? Over everything you have here? Over Koenma?"
Botan wiped at her face roughly, her lips curving into a frown. "I wouldn't have had immortality or Reikai or this life if it wasn't for you, Koenma!" Her eyes narrowed. "You never gave me the chance to choose the life I wanted. You took that away from me and now, you owe me. It's only fair."
"Botan," Koenma murmured softly. "You know I would never keep you from what you really want. But think about this. What if you regret your decision five years, ten years from now? Love is so unpredictable, so fickle. It's a waste of time for people like us."
Botan visibly calmed down. She sighed deeply. "Yes, love is unpredictable. Because of it, I have experienced anger, jealousy, sadness and so much more. But the thing is," She smiled. "It makes me feel human, And that's what makes me happy."
"Let me go, Koenma-sama." She urged him gently, "Please...let me live."
The Reikai prince scrutinized her for several, long moments before he turned away without a word. And I knew it would be a long time before I saw Koenma again as Botan took my hand and lead me away from his office and away from Reikai.
It took a full month for all the effects to become noticeable. But I knew Botan felt it from the moment she left Reikai and knew she was not coming back. Later on, she would confess to me that she missed her oar the most. The ability to fly, the clouds, the endless blue skies.
During that month, Botan and I readjusted. She was a human now with absolutely nothing. She'd politely refused to live anywhere else except in my apartment to avoid being a burden to anyone. At the beginning, we barely talked. But we both knew we couldn't avoid each other forever. At least Keiko, Kuwabara, and my mother made sure we didn't. However, Botan was the one who officially put an end to our silent treatment. A few unexpected kisses from her and I was done.
Now, about two months since Botan's death, and one month since she left Reikai, we're spiraled on the sofa, shrouded in darkness, enjoying each other's company. Which, I might add, we've been doing a lot of. Every few minutes, I would comb my fingers through her hair, just to make sure she was really there, that I was not dreaming again. Botan found my free hand and took hold of it, bringing it up to her lips and kissing it.
"There's something I've been wanting to ask you." I could hear myself say.
"What is it?" She shifted her head slightly, letting her face rest in the crook of my neck.
I shivered when she exhaled. "It's obvious how you became a ferry girl. But...what did Koenma do exactly?"
She moved slightly and sighed. "When I was a little girl I wandered into a meadow by myself. That's where I saw Koenma for the first time. I don't think he meant for me to catch him, he must have not realized I had a significant amount of spirit energy. From then on, I met him there everyday for several years until I was fourteen. In a way, Koenma-sama had convinced me that my life as a human was nothing compared to the benefits of being a ferry girl, being immortality.
"I fell for it without much thought. The things he told me were just too tempting. Then it happened, I became the first Deity of Death under his authority. Before me, I think he used to do the soul collecting himself. But there were problems. For one, all people, ferry girls included, are supposed to die of natural causes. Koenma broke this rule and would have faced a severe punishment for it. But no one ever found out, it remained a secret between us. But I guess deep down, Koenma-sama knew I would want to leave Reikai someday. He knew he would have to let me go without a choice."
"So...how did he-"
"He didn't really kill me, if that's what you're thinking." Botan interrupted. "All Koenma-sama did was touch me on my cheek and he took my soul and...then I died. I'll admit, my actual death is not as interesting or climatic as some of the other ferry girls' deaths but in my file, it claims I died by accidentally slipping off a cliff." I felt her shrug her shoulders against me. "Oh well."
Botan lifted her head to meet my gaze. She smiled. "Absolutely not." She blushed deeply. "You know how I feel. How I've felt for years." She leaned her head against my shoulder again, running her fingers against my arm. "I love you."
I couldn't help myself, I smirked. "Same here." My reward was a slap on the chest. "I'm only joking-"
"Then say it." Botan suddenly demanded, but her voice remained soft. "I've been patient enough, haven't I?"
She stared into my eyes again and sighed once more, defeated. "You're lucky I understand you and can be even more patient." She found my hand again. "If you can't say those three little words just yet. At least...at least promise me always. Just say always." Botan squeezed my hand.
I wrapped an arm around her waist, my mind quickly going back to the awkward beginnings of our relationship and toward its end. An end that led to us both laying on a couch in each other's arms. We knew that these simple, meaningful moments were just enough, they made everything worthwhile. But to say that this was the end was wrong. We had just officially become couple a month ago but we had already been through so much ordeals together to last us a couple of years. In other words, we knew each other, we had found our equal ground. It was proven when Botan knew that I didn't need to say 'I love you' to show her that I do love her. That, plus the little macho thing I have...
I hugged her to me and sighed. There was no word that could describe how I felt right now. Happiness was probably the closest thing. I smiled and finally whispered in Botan's ear, "Always,"
Author's Notes: Yay! It's finished! I didn't want to end the story too romantically. I wanted just enough to keep everyone, hopefully, satisfied. And I think it fits better than too many declarations of love. Anyway, like I said before, it was a blast writing this story. Thank you to all who waited so faithfully. No matter how long I take to update, I NEVER leave a story unfinished. Now for being so patient with me, I have a little something to share with y'all. It may not be out for a while, but keep your eyes open for another Yu Yu Hakusho fic, written by yours truly, featuring what other couple but Yusuke/Botan. But here's a generalization.
How To Woo A Woman
AU, Romance, Humor, Angst, and bit of Drama
Yusuke/Botan, implied to slight Kurama/Botan
Short Summary: A puzzling, entangling tale of an unlikely trio with strange beginnings and extraordinary results that will leave you wondering, who is really seducing who?
Long Summary: Meet Yusuke Urameshi. A regular teenage boy with his mind set on one thing: a certain blue haired woman. She has everything any boy his age would appreciate: boldness, spontaneity, mystery, not to mention seven more years worth in experience. Without warning, he meets her and she seduces him into her world and there, potential romance blossoms. As hard as Yusuke tries and wants to deny it, he is falling for Botan. Quickly and hard. But there are a few problems. One of them being Kurama, Botan's supposedly ex-lover. So how can anyone explain their accidental meetings and suspicious escapades? Kurama is aware of Botan's involvement with Yusuke and is quietly and slyly plotting to end it. By any means he sees necessary.Meet Yusuke Urameshi. A regular teenage boy with his mind set on one thing: a certain blue haired woman. She has everything any boy his age would appreciate: boldness, spontaneity, mystery, not to mention seven more years worth in Without warning, he meets her and she seduces him into her world and there, potential romance blossoms. As hard as Yusuke tries and wants to deny it, he is falling for Botan. Quickly and hard. But there are a few problems. One of them being Kurama, Botan's supposedly ex-lover. So how can anyone explain their accidental meetings and suspicious escapades? Kurama is aware of Botan's involvement with Yusuke and is quietly and slyly plotting to end it. By any means he sees necessary.