Author's Note (12.01.2008): I haven't updated this story in over three years... and, technically, I'm not updating it because it is in fact completed. I'm just correcting some mistakes and filling in certain plot holes that I've been meaning to do for years. Anyway, I hope those who enjoyed this story like even more; and those who are new to it, I hope it pleases you.
Secrets Secrets Are No Fun
Secret I: Rumor
"Mm, good afternoon, Botan-san. What brings you here today?" Kurama questioned kindly as he met Botan outside of his classroom in the empty hallway. The young Meiou student, clad in his rosy school uniform, smiled amiably at the young lady in a familiar blue girl's junior high uniform.
Smiling just as friendly in return, Botan slightly blushed at Kurama's beautiful visage. No matter how many times she saw him, regardless of their time working together, she would never get used to his radiance. Even though she knew his behavior was not authentic, she felt her heart beating just a bit faster. How does he manage to do that to me every single time? she mentally pouted. And does he really have to do that now? Everyone in his class is watching us!
Just as she said, everyone within Syuuichi's class intently watched the pair from inside: all the girls and a few boys for him and the rest of the class for Botan. It was study hall now, so no one needed to pay attention to any lecture but to Minamino Syuuichi and his unknown female friend. There were three main reasons why everyone was particularly interested in Botan: 1) she was distinctly wearing a junior high uniform, 2) she looked terribly adorable, but like Syuuichi, had an abnormal hair color, and 3) she presently was the only known girl he had ever excitedly gone out to meet.
Knowing she had to keep Kurama's identity safe, Botan decided to play along and grinned at her gorgeous companion. At the forced change of her mood, her sky-blue hair bouncing with her personality. "Ne, Syuuichi-senpai, you know you don't have to be so formal with me!" she giggled while batting at him playfully. "But I'll let it slide for now... We have bigger problems."
She took a quick glance to side and noticed all of the students pressed against the windows, trying their best to overhear the conversation. With a sheepish laugh, the young lady continued softly, "I'm sorry to interrupt your school time, Syuuichi-senpai, but our overbearing, childish employer whined at me to inform you of your next job. He complained that he wanted you to get on it as soon as you were available." Then bending closer, Botan whispered, "But don't tell him I said that--Koenma-sama will probably suspend me from the Human World for two months and then confiscate any other vacation time I've stored over the centuries."
The redhead nodded in understanding, chuckling at the ferry girl's subtle request and her description of the Spirit World prince. "I promise that I will not breathe a word to him. Well, Botan-kun, luckily our classes are in study session right now, and I just finished my classes for the day. I am ready to leave now. Shall we go before we are punished with more scolding?"
"Okay!" Botan giggled playfully at Kurama's jest, enjoying the pleasant atmosphere between them. Not very often did he ever convey this easygoing attitude, so she aptly noticed the shift. And just as easily, the she caught on to his change in formality. "Let's quickly go together!"
As the two Spirit World employees were about to race down the hallway towards another assignment, Kaito hastily rushed out of his classroom. He barely made it out of the room as Botan and Kurama were about to turn the corner. "Ah, Botan-san! Wait! May I ask you something before you leave?" the young man called out shyly.
"Yes?" Botan answered sweetly, stopping mid-step and turning to face Kurama's classmate. "We don't have much time, so you'll need to ask from there. Go ahead, Kaito-san!" she yelled back down the hallway. Kurama, somewhat embarrassed by his friend's shouting, stopped in his tracks as well. The redhead young man was very much curious as to what Kaito had to ask Botan; it was, after all, in his foxy nature to be inquisitive.
"Um, Botan-san, would you--would you mind if I asked--you would like to come with me to--what I mean to say is--would you go out with me this Sunday?" Kaito barely managed to stutter out as he tried to keep his glasses on his face. Kurama could not help himself but to feel slightly confused and impressed by his school mate's bold request.
Since when does Yuu-san like or had even considered giving affection to Botan?
Although the affection was unlikely, Kurama was still impressed that Kaito found the nerve to ask her out, nevertheless look less neurotic than he actually felt. He had found out long ago human males, especially teenage boys had a tendency to shut down when they asked human females for a date; the fox demon could smell and sense Kaito's storming nerves of thread. With how nervous he is, it's amazing that he's still even on his feet, he commented with an amused chuckle. But why now? Why ask her now for a date? And why Botan, of all girls?
Botan barely had herself think for her response, which puzzled the Spirit Detective further. One could visibly see the shock in his emerald eyes. Since when does she react without thought? He answered his own question when he remembered their time together in Kaito's psychic territory. She really is too innocent sometimes, he sighed.
"Sure, I would love to," she readily answered. "What time Sunday, Kaito-san?"
"Um, about noon to one. Somewhere around then."
"Okay! I'll meet you at your house around that time then. How should I dress for the date?"
Another look of nervousness crossed Kaito's face, his crimson blush reddening further. His glass lenses seemed glossier than usual. "Er-- Casual."
"All right," Botan smiled sweetly, waving goodbye and giving him a trademark playful wink. "I'll see you Sunday then, Kaito-san!" Turning her attention to her companion, she then urged, "We better hurry now, Syuuichi-senpai or else we'll be late." With a final wave towards Kaito, Botan pulled Kurama out of the school and towards his next Spirit World assignment.
"That was a little bizarre," Kurama commented as he and Botan steadily made their way to the rendezvous point toward the others. "I never knew Yuu-san had feelings for you, Botan-kun. In fact, I never knew he was looking for a girlfriend."
Laughing at his comment, she jovially answered, "Oh, it isn't at all what you're thinking, Kurama-kun." Now that human ears were not in range, she could fall out of her guise as a junior high student. "Kaito-san has something else more important on his mind; the date is just a cover up." Her lavender eyes twinkled with excitement a she thought of the Sunday date.
"Oh, is that true, Botan-kun?" He felt even more bewildered that she knew this without hearing details from Kaito. What was that boy planning? Was it obvious enough for Botan to automatically know without more information? "Hm, still, it is strange that he would do something like that: very unlikely of Yuu-san. And what do you, Botan-kun, think he--" Kurama never got the chance to finish his question.
"Oi, Kurama! Botan! Hurry up!" Yusuke shouted impatiently from a distance, the young man stomping his feet in irritation. "The two of you are SO SLOW! I want to finish this mission before Keiko realizes I skipped out on her again to save this damn messed up world!"
Kurama groaned in aggravation as the ferry girl answered, "We're hurrying!"
I'll just have to ask her later, he thought as they met the others and embarked on their mission.
"Botan, what are you still doing here? Shouldn't you be finishing your errands for Koenma-sama in the Human World?" Ayame questioned curiously as she gracefully entered the ferry girl's chambers. The older ferry woman, her slender pale hands elegantly clasped in front of her, regarded the younger one with inquiring cerulean orbs.
Twirling in front of her mirror, Botan giggled cheerily, "No, I don't have to do anything for Koenma-sama right now, Ayame 'nee. And what I'm doing is I'm getting ready to meet someone in the Human World. I'm spending all of my day off there today." Observing her outfit, the sky-locked girl nodded in consent, very much pleased about her selection. With the designer help she had been receiving from Shizuru, Botan was sure she would fit in the Human World for this "date."
"Oh? And who are you meeting in the Human World?" Ayame quietly wondered, a sly grin on her usually composed, mature face. "One of your Spirit Detective charges maybe? Perhaps one with rose-colored hair?"
"No, it's not at all what you're thinking, Ayame 'nee!" the young lady pouted, disliking her superior's teasing and her insinuation about Kurama. She ceased her spinning and stomped an angry foot at her senpai. "It's not at all whatsoever what you're thinking."
"Then what is it, Botan?" Ayame teased, patting her kouhai on top of her head with good humor. The older woman tried to hide a giggle and the mischievous glint in her eyes. "Are you sneaking away for the night for a heated romance Koenma-sama has no idea that is going on between his former-thief Spirit Detective and top Ferry Girl? Ne, you've really grown bold these last few decades, haven't you?"
Frowning and folding her arms across her chest, Botan feverishly answered, "Oh! No, no, no! It's not like that at all! I'm not meeting Kurama-kun for those reasons, if that's what you're thinking, Ayame 'nee. In fact, I'm not even going to see Kurama-kun at all today; I'm meeting a classmate of his instead."
The dark-haired woman tilted her head slightly in thought; she was obviously amazed by this new information. "And is Kurama-san fine with that? He doesn't mind that you're going on a date with one of his classmates?"
Botan stared at Ayame with lavender pools in confusion. The younger ferry girl placed a thoughtful finger on her chin, her notions clearly jumbled. What was she trying to say about Kurama-kun? "Why would Kurama-kun have a problem with me going out?"
"Well, it would be a little odd for one of his human classmates to be romantically interested with an employee of the Spirit World which Kurama-san has had his own fair eye on for sometime," the woman sighed sympathetically. "And doesn't seem like the type to surrender someone important to him so easily. Wouldn't you agree, Botan?"
She titled her head ever more slightly, somewhat shocked at Botan's enormous reaction. But aside from the surprise, Ayame was clearly pleased that the younger ferry girl was so touchy about the topic. "What's wrong, Botan?"
Unable to look Ayame in the eye, she stared at the floor with a hot face. "First off, Kaito-san isn't romantically interested in me. He just has something really important to tell me: all business. And Ayame 'nee, Kurama-kun would never regard me like in any romantic manner. Besides, he's one of my closest friends; we can't possibly consider each other like that."
The beautiful ferry woman grinned foxily, seeing her teasing had reached its highest mark. "All right, Botan. It'll be as whatever you say it is. I won't say another word." Gathering herself, she gracefully left the young woman's room. "Well, you better hurry or you'll be late for your business engagement."
"It can't be that late," she murmured while looking at the human watch Kurama had given her. Looking at it, she smiled about the reason why he had given her such a gift. She had a tendency to be late to the group's outings because of the different time flow between Human World and Spirit World. Kurama had been considerate enough to fix Botan's tardiness by buying her the watch.
Hopefully, now you won't be late whenever we go out together, he had said with his charming smile. It would be a pity if you weren't with us when we played together--it wouldn't be the whole group then, would it?
Recovering from her reminiscing, the ferry girl glanced at her watch again and gasped at the time. "Iie! I'm going to be late if I don't hurry!" Scrambling together her things, she rushed from her room and sped towards Human World as quickly as she could.
"Kaito-san! Good afternoon!" Botan greeted Sunday at noon as she rushed up to the high school student, who waited outside by his apartment door.
As the young man had suggested the other day, Botan, with Shizuru's expert help, had dressed herself in casual human clothing. Sporting a sakura pink long-sleeved shirt, a light white jacket over it with matching shoes, and trim beige pants, the excited girl met up with Yuu Kaito. "I hope I didn't arrive too early or too late," she panted while trying to catch her breath. "I ran into some problems in Spirit World on the way here."
She blushed madly as she remembered her conversation with Ayame. Ne! Now is not the time to think of such things--besides, none of it is true.
"No, not at all, Botan-san!" Kaito exclaimed anxiously. "I'm just glad that you followed my suggestion."
Yes, he was very glad that she had listened to him and had found some casual human dress. He himself wore a mustard turtleneck, a windbreaker, and blue jeans; ever still did he wear his thick-brimmed, black square glasses. Ah, well, he personally preferred the intellectual look anyway. Everyone did consider him the class genius--second to Minamino Syuuichi, that is.
"But, I'm sure that I'm late."
"Don't stress about it, Botan-san. You're right on time," he assured her with a small smile. "I just came outside to wait for you so you wouldn't miss my home." Once he was sure that she would no longer argue about her punctuality, he then moved on to the greater matter. "Now that you're here, where would you like to go, Botan-san? I'll treat you to anywhere you want today."
The ferry girl blushed excitedly from his question; never had anyone offered her something as Kaito just had. She clapped her hands from the overwhelming happiness that flowed through her. "Wow, really? That's really kind of you, Kaito-san!"
"Well, I did invite you today," Kaito pinked, staring at his shoes sheepishly. "I would like us to go somewhere that you would enjoy."
And at his words, Botan realized she was in debt. A small frown graced itself upon her natural cheery face at the thought. "Oh, but I have nothing to repay you and your kindness with, Kaito-san. I don't deserve you treating me."
Why are you saying this, you fool?! her inner voice yelled. Don't you want to go out and experience this? You've never had the chance to "date" like humans do--so why not take advantage of this perfect opportunity?
I don't want to be in debt to him, she argued with herself. I don't have anything that I would be willing to give to him, and I can't do anything for him either. Him treating me wouldn't be right.
"Your company will be enough, Botan-san," Kaito answered with a neurotic chuckle, tucking a hand behind his head. "I don't need to be paid back for anything, really. This is purely on me."
"Are you sure? Oh--Well, if that's how you feel..." With the argument between herself settled, Botan placed a finger on her chin thoughtfully. She pondered of all the wonderful things she had ever desired to do as a human; she remembered all of the lively wants she had felt when she looked upon her human friends and their mortal amusements. "How about the carnival, Kaito-san? May we go there?"
"Mm, all right, if that's what you want, Botan-san."
"Yeah!" In her excitement, she hugged the young man fiercely and laughed happily. She did not notice him turn redder than a tomato. "Thank you so much, Kaito-san!"
"How are you, Hiei?" Kurama questioned uneasily as he spotted a familiar black shadow entering through his bedroom window. The redhead gave his friend a polite nod since the injured lad could not properly greet Hiei at his entry. "And please close the window and curtains when you're through."
Complying to his bedridden cohort's request, after Hiei had entered Kurama's bedroom, the demon swordsman promptly shut the medium window. "Feh, I'm doing a lot better than you, Fox, that's for sure," Hiei haughtily answered his friend's first question.
Kurama, squirming to place himself in a better position on his bed, winced as more pain shot through his chest. A light delicate hand hastily found itself across his bandaged torso. "Well, that would be the truth, although I highly wish it were not so."
Hiei watched the redhead carefully across the room, the petite apparition glaring down, which was quite a rarity, at his taller friend in disdain. "Does your human mother know anything about your injuries?" When Kurama made no effort to reply, the fire demon rolled his eyes and sighed, "Knowing the type human mothers are, she probably racked it out of that bubble head as soon as she saw you two cross the door."
Closing his emerald eyes, Kurama tried to hold back a grimace when he remembered his mother's frightened expression when Botan had dragged him back to his home. I'm really thankful that Botan was there from the beginning, he thought. Without her, I really would have been in trouble.
After the complicated mission the other day, the weather in the Human World had gotten worse for the wear, and everyone but Botan had their hands full with closing the case. So with the situation then, Botan had been assigned by Koenma to transport a badly injured Kurama safely back to the his home and make up a good cover story to tell his family if they were discovered. If she failed to do so, she was fired.
Yusuke and the others wondered how this was possible; they did never suspected that Botan had a choice to be employed or not. But being occupied at the moment, no one bothered to ask and simply did as they were told. Quickly and efficiently, the Yusuke and Kazuma finished their business, Hiei returned to Demon World, and Botan transported Kurama home.
Sighing with some relief from the memories, Kurama remarked, "Thankfully for Botan-kun's clever and convincing story, no one in my family suspected anything. Add to that, Botan-kun found a way for Okaa-san not to check me into a hospital." Truly, he was thankful for that since he used his Demon Energy to quickly heal his body. Additionally, the doctors would have found the demonic poison in his body and would not have been able to identify it. That situation would have only led to further unwanted complications.
Doing his best to fight back a chuckle, he continued, "Okaa-san seemed to sympathize for Botan-kun's somewhat authentic tale about a wild crazed dog trying to attack her at the park and me heroically rescuing her--that is, if you replace the wild crazed dog with a wild crazed demon heavily armed with poison strong enough to kill half of the human population."
Shaking his unruly head, Hiei muttered quietly but not quietly enough, "Humans are so stupid."
"Hiei." Kurama narrowed his dangerous grassy eyes to a spine-chilling glare.
The fire demon grunted in disapproval and indifference as he observed a pathetic immobile Kurama. "If only you weren't such an idiot yesterday. Why were you so careless the other day? You very well knew the danger and what that damn demon was capable of. And he wasn't even ranked higher than a C. It is very unlike you to be so--so sloppy."
Daring not to face his friend, Kurama painfully turned his gaze towards his closed window. Although the fox could imagine the chill that came from autumn, the day seemed warm and pleasant with the sun out and cloudless skies. "I was thinking of something else during the fight."
"I'm not even going to wonder what." Hiei then took another glance at the redhead's battle wound. Just the sight of it made the violent demon of flame cringe. "How long do you think it's going to take you to recover from that?"
Kurama carefully peeled away his blood-soaked bandages, revealing a bloody gash only partially healed. "Ugh, at this rate, Hiei, a good two weeks. None of my plants, remedies, potions, or powers have any strong effects on this wound, and my demonic abilities are already at their max trying to heal myself on their own." He sighed from frustration at his helplessness. "If I could find Botan-kun today, with her powers and some Holy Water, I would only have to heal for less than two days."
Her touch would do wonders for me, I'm sure.
"And the reason you're not tracking down that damn woman is because?"
"She is on her day off, Hiei," Kurama hissed through his teeth as he tried relaxing in his bed, avoiding resting on his wound. He frowned at the thought of changing his bandages soon--at least, he would have to do it before his mother came again to check on him. "No need to ruin her free day for her with more work. Besides, she's currently in an engagement that will require all of her attention and thought since she is a rather delicate situation."
"Translation?" Hiei demanded in annoyance. Do I look like I care?
Kurama sighed at the fire demon's limited knowledge on human lifestyle and society. "She's on a date, Hiei."
"A date?" His face scrunched up in obscurity, his blood-red eyes reflecting waves of confusion. "Do you mean those things where the Detective takes his woman and that carrot-top bastard takes Yukina out to some place and have 'fun'?"
Nodding with as much strength he can muster, Kurama answered weakly, "Yes, similar to those outings; however, I believe Botan-kun's will be less smothering: hopefully."
It would be a pity if it were anything more. He narrowed his verdant eyes from simply thinking about the possibilities. Yes, it would be a pity for him if it is anything more.