My eyes watched her every graceful turn as she deposited the pieces of papers and folders I had just finished signing into their respective cabinets. All my secretaries had taken off for a break, but she remained in my office, dutifully helping me out.

I sighed quietly. Really now, I had a million things to do other than staring at her secretly like a teenage schoolboy. I mean, I had *never* felt this way before. I had never really appreciated little things like her graceful poise…

CRASH!

"Ouch! Gaaah!" Botan rubbed her forehead as she glared at the flower vase that toppled on her. "How did it come up from behind?"

I had to smile. "It never did. It had always been there from the time I assumed the office." I secretly liked her naïveté too. In fact, it had been one of the private sources of entertainment for me whenever we go out together. Well, not TOGETHER together. Together, as in, the two of us out in the field, personally supervising Yusuke's missions.

Speaking of Yusuke, I better go back to my job. These papers need my signature…

"Oh darn it!" Her frustrated cry made me look up. She was tugging on the hem of her kimono that got caught in the file cabinet. "This is my favorite outfit!!! Ooh!!! This is not my day!"

I sweatdropped. "Botan, you have to use diplomacy in dealing with that."

It was only then that she seemed to realize that her boss was inside the same room as hers, watching her glorious display of wrath. She blinked, then blushed in embarrassment. "K…Koenma-sama! G-Gomen nasai!"

"I knew there was something suspicious about you staying here working when others are having a time out." I eyed her intently. "You're here, yet you're not. What's on your mind?"

She bit her lip. "I-It won't happen again, Koenma-sama."

"I intend to make sure of that." I got out of my seat and floated towards her. "Tell me what's bothering you. It is an order." My eyes then narrowed at her. "Or you can't just tell me because I'm in my chibi form?" I then changed into my older, more mature, more imposing, more bishie-y and much cooler version of myself (or at least that's what George tells me). "OK, now talk."

Her jaw dropped open, then sighed. "A-Ah…it's nothing big or anything…" Her voice trailed off as her eyes started to shake. "I…I mean…it's dumb. Yusuke had long retired from being a Spirit Detective so he could return to his normal human life…"

"So it's about Yusuke…" I coughed. I was well aware of her secret infatuation for the sterling detective, something she kept hidden out of respect for her job as the Spirit World guide and her own respect for Yusuke's friends, especially Keiko herself.

"B-But there are just times that I…I would pause for awhile and think of him," she confessed quietly. "I mean, he is handsome…nice, smart…"

I snorted involuntarily.

"Well, NOT always smart…but he's smart…sometimes" she said defensively.

Well, he's smarter than Kuwabara. I couldn't argue with that."

She ignored my comment as she continued with her speech. "He is so easy to fall in love with, and I did…madly. But it's wrong…"

"Of course it's wrong!" My voice rose a decibel. "Granted that he has the blood of Raizen coursing through him, we still couldn't claim the same for his heart." I shrugged. "Like Kurama here, who has grown to love humans already…" I sighed. "But the point is, he's in love with someone else. Madly. See, the primary reason he went back from the dead years ago was because of Keiko. And now, he gave up his happy life of battles with powerful creatures just so he could be with her."

"I…I know…" Pain crossed her clear blue eyes, and I kicked myself silently while thinking, "Way to go, Koenma ol' boy! You just crushed her cardiovascular organ!"

We were quiet for awhile, and for a brief irrational moment, I felt furious at my former Spirit Detective for doing this to her. Couldn't he have known how special he was to her? Couldn't he have sensed that she cared for him so much? How could he break her beautiful heart just like that?

But then again, Yusuke might have known that. And he chose to keep quiet about it, to ignore her feelings and wait for them to wane and die of natural causes…like time.

But if I were Yusuke, I would have…well, I would have jumped with joy, not to mention swept her off her feet, twirled her around and around…

I lifted my eyes towards my miserable-looking assistant guiltily. Really now, here she was, pouring out all her thoughts on me trustingly, and I was secretly imagining myself with her!

Good grief!

I looked down at the floor again, eyes shaking in confusion. When had I started to see Botan differently anyway? Was it when I heard from Kurama his narration of the joyous reunion by the beach of Yusuke and Keiko? Or when I heard that Kuwabara was starting to consider courting Yukina seriously after his best friend got engaged? Maybe the news of Hiei finally finding a place to call a home in the presence of Mokuro did it. Perhaps, the day Botan picked peonies for me. These instances had started to make me think of romance, something I forbade myself to think of for the last hundred of years.

After all, I was simply too busy for anything. There were lots of issues to be resolved in keeping the balance among the different worlds, or keeping watch on dangerous monsters that could wreak havoc on the human world. I had too much to mind to even think of my lovelife.

But then, what I was doing right now –leaving my paperwork just to sit down on the floor with a very lovely brokenhearted lady and lend her a sympathetic ear--, this was illogical. This wasn't part of my system.

Absent-mindedly, I started to speak. "Hey Botan, you know…"

"Hmm?" she murmured, looking at me.

"Y-You…you shouldn't let him do this to you," I said slowly. "E-Even if he is the person you most cherish in the world, h-he…" I cleared my throat. "He has no right at all to make you feel this blue…this sad." My voice lowered into a murmur. "No right at all…"

"K-Koenma…sama?"

I turned to her, smiling forcibly. "Smile, Botan. Don't let him rain on your wonderful sunny smiles..." My voice squeaked when I saw her eyes widen. I shook my head vehemently. "Aaah!! I-I mean…" I banged my head on the wall repeatedly. Good heavens, what did I do? What the hell did I SAY?!! I turned to her slowly, fearful of her reaction to my outspokenness.

"M-My smiles…are sunny?" she echoed breathlessly.

"Y-Yeah…cheerful, pretty…p-pretty genki, I mean…" I stammered, clasping and unclasping my hands nervously. "Your smiles can, believe it or not, light up everyone's days…" And light up everyday of my life, you did. And you don't charge me an electric bill for that.

"That was…touching," she said softly, a tentative smile blossoming on her face. "I have no idea you see it that way…"

Of course you don't! I don't either, until I spoke it out loud awhile ago.

"Arigatou, Koenma-sama," she whispered, eyes shaking. "You are so kind-hearted…" Her lower lip trembled.

I panicked. "Aaah! Botan, I didn't…I didn't mean it for you to cry! O-Oh shoot, stop crying!" I fussed for a handkerchief, but when didn't find one, took off my mantle and handed it to her. "Here. Dry those tears."

She took it gratefully.

I looked around the room nervously. "Y-You shouldn't frighten me like that. I talked to you to try to make you feel better, not to make you bawl and feel worse!"

"But I do feel better!" she insisted. She looked down at her lap quietly, then spoke up. "You are so kind, Koenma-sama. Now I understand why Enma-sama is so proud of you."

I laughed dryly. "Oh good. Your humor is returning."

She smiled a little. "Oh, you don't believe me?"

I got up, smiling good-naturedly. "Let's go back to work."

She giggled. "Ah, Koenma-sama! You should believe me, for I myself could say anytime that you're a good man…a very, very good man."

I paused, then smiled slowly, my eyes twinkling. "Thank you."

I don't know if she had any idea how much that meant to me, and I knew she might never would.

But sue me when amidst my paperwork and document stamping and signing…

…I would steal a glance at her every now and then…

…smile…

…and wait for the day that she would finally, finally understand my feelings for her.









The end