Delicate Petals

(Standard disclaimer)

Chapter 28

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After five minutes of pondering, someone stepped into the tavern in a cloak, wearing jeans and white sneakers. The scent drifting toward me...no. It could not be. The hood fell back to reveal... "Botan!?"

My mind was racing. The cerulean curls framing the pretty face that I longed to see ever since I left bounced when she shifted uncomfortably. I stood up immediately.

"What are you doing here?" I narrowed my amber eyes at her. She stared up at me innocently. Her smile dimmed after a moment before she gestured to the sack at her side.

"I have another part of your mission, I'm afraid." She said quietly. I stared at her for a moment before pulling her into my arms. She seemed to hesitate before wrapping her arms around me. Then she pulled away and punched me in the shoulder. "Do you have any idea how hard you are to track down? I should skin you alive!" Her amethyst eyes came alight with the beautiful fiery spirit that I was used to.

"We cannot exactly walk around with our energy signal unguarded." I gave her a look and she stuck her tongue out at me before going to the others.

"Kitten!" Kuronue cried happily. "It seems like forever!" He stood and ruffled her hair affectionately. She smiled at him and then gave Yuusuke a good lump on the head.

"You didn't bother to contact me at all, you oaf!" Hiei smirked and shook his head. I walked back over and sat down before pulling her into my lap. The blush was evident on her slightly pale face. I frowned and leaned forward, inhaling her scent.

"You are ill."

"It's just the weather. I have a cold is all." She waved it away. Then her eyes met up with Kyoichi's and she smiled.

"Why, if it isn't Kyoichi-kun!"

"Botan-san! It has been a while, indeed. What brings ye here?"

"The stubborn father of my child and his team." She leaned back into my arms. I frowned.

"How do you two know each other?" Kyoichi cleared his throat, indicating that he would tell the tale.

"It be a good ten years since then, eh?" After Botan's nod, he continued. "She be the ferry girl to take me mother away." My mate laughed lightly.

"You were such a gentleman that you offered me to stay while you said your goodbyes. I do believe that you wanted to kidnap me and every ferry girl to follow." I grinned.

"That sounds like you, Kyoichi." I stated lightly. Yuusuke chuckled.

"But then where would I have been without my lovely assistant?" He asked; glancing at me out of the corner of his eye. I could tell that he had a question. "Speaking of assistant, what have you got for us?" She frowned slightly.

"Well, I assume that since you are in a tavern, you have heard of the rumor that there is someone after the lord in the castle?" Yuusuke nodded. "Probably not in any full detail but that is no problem. I will inform you of it. You see, there is an heirloom to the family that this lord possesses. It is called the Shadow Staff. It has great powers that no one has ever heard of. At any rate, Koenma-sama discovered this secret too late. Someone has already found out about the staff and wishes to kill the lord for it. Lord Hisato has put his full forces to protect himself and the staff. I suggest that you try to make it there by tomorrow evening." I bit my lip for a moment.

"Why tomorrow night?"

"Well, the sooner the better. Hisato-sama is very concerned for the safety of the staff." I sighed. Things just had to turn around at the worst times. "We will do this as secretly as possible. The possible subjects will be easily found. Every demon on the most wanted list is bound to come to mind but only one of them knows the secrets. His name is Okura. Find him as quickly as possible and I will open the portal to Reikai. We have no time to play on this one." Yuusuke leaned back in his seat before the legs slid on the floor and he fell backwards. I sweat-dropped. Kuronue only laughed. I turned to Botan.

"Okura? I have heard of him."

"He was a criminal that was jealous of your position. He hated being in your shadow so he decided to do something about it."

"But why now?"

"Because you are no longer here to tower over him in our records." I had a bitter taste in my mouth. Something was definitely not right. But I pushed that aside for the time being. I cleared my throat.

"At any rate, you should not be here. It is too dangerous for you." She glared at me.

"Look, I may be pregnant and sick but I can take care of myself!" I rolled my eyes. Yuusuke picked himself up off the floor and grinned at her.

"What are you gonna do? Cry and then have a sudden mood swing to anger before you sneeze them to death?" I sighed. Yuusuke certainly knew how to start a war...

"Why you..." It took a lot to hold her back from clubbing our inept spirit detective senseless. Kuronue was cowering in fear under the table and Yuusuke's face was pure white.

"Calm down." I chided them gently. I looked at Kyoichi. "You will help us?"

"I be glad to." He said cheerfully.

"Thank you."

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The moon was high in the sky before we reached the castle grounds. Kyoichi and Botan were our only hopes of getting us past the guards. Fortunately, they let us pass without having to inform any others since they had known Botan from once or twice before.

"Now, Kyoichi-kun, you can drop us off before you drop off your supplies. Right in the front, if you would." He nodded at her instructions and once we were off, he left us. I looked around before sniffing at the air. "This is the letter. Kurama, you and I will take this. Yuusuke and Kuronue, you two ask around about Okura." She turned lastly to Hiei. "You can stand watch up there. Since you have the Jagan, you can alert us to anything coming our way." Once we had our orders, we spread out. I managed to maintain a protective glare throughout our walk. Many servants shied away from us but one stopped us and asked for our purpose. Botan smiled kindly at her. "I have a message for Lord Hisato from Koenma-sama of Reikai." She nodded and led us to the private chambers of Hisato.

Kitsune, I see someone on the grounds. Be on your guard just in case.

I blinked. Hiei...

Hiei? Can you get a closer look at who it is?

Afraid not. He's got about ten men with him, though. The detective might intercept him before he gets to you.

I felt the link fade and growled. Botan looked at me before assuring me with a soft smile as if to say that everything would be fine. We arrived at a large oak door with a gold handle. Intricate vines were carved into the wood and formed a name. Hisato.

"This is where the lord is now." The servant rushed off and I knocked sharply on the door. A big demon, probably about a foot taller than I was, answered. He glared down at us with sharp eyes before he seemed to recognize Botan.

"Ah! Lady Botan!" He ushered us in quickly before closing and locking the door back up. "To what do I owe this visit? And why do you have a guard?" I growled at him before my mate took my arm and frowned at my behavior.

"We don't have much time to explain, Hisato-sama. You see, this is for you from Koenma-sama." He looked at it before taking it into his hands and scanning the contents.

"Another treaty?" He sighed and took out a pen before signing it and handing it back to her. He stared at her before looking at me. "You two...are mates?" Botan grinned and nodded cheerfully. "And you are expecting, ne, Lady Botan?"

"Sharp senses as always, Hisato-sama." She blushed a light pink and I felt the corner of my mouth twitch up.

"And you must be Youko, hm?" I froze and looked up at him. "I know you're not here to steal this so don't worry. Okura is coming later, I believe. He usually tries to steal it at night."

"Botan, Hiei saw someone from the roof." I said suddenly. Then I looked back at Hisato. "Does he have about ten men with him?"

"No, those are my guards that I send into town." I nodded.

Hiei, leave them be. They are just guards that were in town.

Hn. Fine, kitsune.

Look for someone with a strange type of power. He cannot be far from his prize.

I sense something not too far off that is coming closer. I will tell Yuusuke to check it out. Let me see if I can tell if it is him first.

The link was severed. Botan and Hisato were talking so I, of course, had time to play with. He obviously would not harm her. However, the thought of leaving her without my protection was a different matter altogether. Instead, I looked around the room for anything that could be considered trap doors and the like.

"Hisato, do you have secret corridors leading to this room?" I asked curiously. If this thief got past the others, I would need to meet him here without a surprise attack happening.

"Only one that was used as an escape for the generations before me. The trap door is beneath your feet, under the carpet. It leads outside to the courtyard." He answered my question as though he had known in advance that I would ask it. Botan looked around the room. "There is also one door over there. However, it is completely blocked off. No one can get through. We destroyed the other door so if one uses this, he is in for a meeting with a dead end." Suddenly, something happened that was not expected. I ran toward Botan as fast as I could and pulled her into my arms before gesturing to the lord.

"We need to take the trap door!" An explosion suddenly ripped through the castle. It shook the very foundation of the stone fortress. I fell to my knees and set her beneath me to shield her from any and all harm. I had to protect her, even if it meant my death. She looked at me with wide eyes and gripped my shirt in her fists.

"Kurama..."

"Everything will be all right, Botan. I promise. Just stay down." She nodded and buried her face in my shirt. I heard laughter from the doorway. I looked at Hisato to find that he was behind me. At least I would have to be first.

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Heh... Sorry to leave you at a cliff-hanger but I had to end it somewhere.

Next chapter will have some action. Promise!

Please review!