AN: It's not much, but this is for you, J.

The man had absolutely no idea what he was in for. Surely he had no clue. If he had, he wouldn't have been so reckless. He would have chosen his words a little more carefully. He would have been a little more respectful.

He hadn't known who his victim was, nor had he known what he did for a living. Of course he hadn't known these things. How could he have? He was only a lowly crook; a petty, small-time, purse snatching pick-pocket.

...Which was bad for him.

Laughter. It swirled about his eerily gem-hued irises. Mocking, jeering as they unblinkingly gazed into a far less powerful, frightened pair.

He was a captive. He had been for nearly a whole month. He was so frightened, more so than he had ever been in his entire life. He was hurting mentally and emotionally, but most importantly, physically. He had several stab wounds all over his body, but none too deep so as to kill him. There were old ones from when he had first arrived at his place of captivity, then there were fresher ones. He was punctured torturously slow, making sure his organs were missed, but also that he felt it as the short double-edged blade sliced through the fibers in his weakened muscles. They'd allow him little time to heal before he was tormented all over again.

They did some of the most horrible things to him... Beat him, stabbed him, whipped him, starved him... and then there were the more tedious things, the small, yet most effective ways of torture... The things they seemed to enjoy the most.

Jade orbs flickered with something lucidly akin to amusement, rousing the captive man from his woeful pondering. He whimpered helplessly, causing the man before him to smirk cynically.

"Look at you," he said as he rested his chin on his arms that were folded along the back of the chair that he was sitting reversed in.

"Disgusting. You look absolutely pungent lying there in your own filth," he snarled. Indeed it was true. Not once was he let up to use a bathroom facility, so he had no choice but to soil himself. Humiliating, it was. He was lying in the middle of the room chained to one wall by his wrists, and to another by his ankles.

"Don't you agree? Aren't you disgusting?" asked the green-eyed man, tilting his head so that his cheek lay on his arm. If someone who had never met him before had seen him then, they would have mistaken him for the perfect picture of innocence. The chained man did not answer; he was too far gone in his fear. The last time he had spoken, he ended up where he was now. The other man frowned.

"I asked you a question..." he said sitting straight in the chair for a moment to look at the ID card he held in his hand, "... Louise Bodega. Are... you... disgusting?"

Louise hesitated for a moment before he nodded slowly. The man in the chair nodded as well, a satisfied smirk on his lips.

"Yes, I agree. You are disgusting. And I don't mean just... this," he said waving his hand at him.

"What you do is disgusting. Alleyway robbery, pick-pocketing... foul thieves like you give good thieves like us a soiled name. It is a way of life for us, our part in God's 'Big Plan'," he said, raising his leather clad hands to form quotation marks.

"But you... roaches steal to support your filthy drug habits, your alcoholic urges... filthy... just filthy," he explained.

It became deafeningly quiet as the man sneered down upon his prisoner in utter disgust. Louise stared up at him, his eyes pleading and sorrowful, windows to the broken soul hidden inside. The villain growled low in his throat standing abruptly and knocking over his chair to stride over to Louise. The chair fell over with a loud clatter and Louise snapped his eyes shut and yelped fearfully. The green-eyed man kneeled beside Louise and leaned over his frail form.

"Don't you dare fucking look at me like that! I don't feel one ounce of pity for you, you putrid shit!" he shouted in his face, spittle landing on his cheeks. Louise bit his dreadfully chapped bottom lip in an attempt to silence himself from crying out woefully, lest he be punished for it. The tears slipped down his cheeks slowly, streaking through the grime on his face like tiny rivers.

"Please..." he pleaded quietly.

"Please what?" the man snorted. Louise opened his eyes slowly, looking deep into the grassy irises of his captor hoping to gain some form of sympathy.

"P-please don't... kill me. I got a... I got a daughter at home, man," he begged. The man's eyebrows lifted in amusement as he barked out a short, haughty laugh. He raised a gloved hand and reached out to slap Louise harshly across the mouth.

Louise's face snapped to the side as blood sprayed from his mouth, spattering the floor with fresh red dots.

"Don't think you can gain sympathy from me by tooling your family, you fool. Maybe you should have thought about them before you decided to snatch from my pocket, or before you so insubordinately spat on my coat when I caught you," he laughed. This, also, was true. When Louise got caught, he had spat on the man's crisp white overcoat, a sign of gross disrespect. If he had known then what he knew now, he would have kept his hands in his own pockets.

The man rose from his position next to Louise and began to walk around the room, all the while dusting off the sleeves of his pinstriped suit jacket.

"No, Mr. Bodega, I'm not going to kill you..." he said, and Louise felt like crying with joy. Then he stopped in front of the open doorway and motioned to someone outside of it, who in turn, nodded then took off down the hallway.

"...But..." he began. From down the hall, a frighteningly loud whirring noise started up, and the most devious and sinister of smiles made it's way across his lips.

"...I will be taking certain precautionary steps..." he drawled. The noise began to grow louder, and the dense sounds of thundering footfalls accompanied them. Louise's eyes widened marginally and he began to struggle futilely against his bonds. But it was useless, just as it had been before. His eyes darted around the room frantically, searching for something, anything...

" ensure that those larcenous hands of yours..." he said slowly, drawing out Louise's tension for as long as possible. Louise clenched his hands closed, his nails digging into his palms so hard that tiny rivulets of blood began to trickle down his wrists.

".. don't get you into anymore..." he said slowly, Louise closed his eyes tightly and his breathing increased tenfold, his chest heaving up and down as steady streams of tears cascaded down his cheeks. The whirring was terribly close now, just a few more steps and he would find out what his fate would be.

"...trouble," the man chuckled. Louise's eyes sprang open and his heart nearly gave out. At the door stood the scariest man he had ever seen. He had to duck just to enter the room. He wore thick, black leather boots strapped with chains, and dusty faded black jeans, which were torn in various places.

He wore no shirt; his bare brawny chest glistening with sticky sweat and what could only be described as dirt. He wore a red bandana over his face, hiding the grimy grin he sported underneath. His bald head gleamed with sweat, decorated with an ugly, jagged scar that ran from the top of his head and down the side of his face to disappear under the rag. His arms were large and bulky, and he wore leather gloves. He was what nightmares were made of. But his size was not the thing that scared him, nor was his scarred arms, or the low growl that emitted from him every time his chest heaved...

It was the chainsaw in his hand.

"Well, I'd better go. These things tend to get a bit... messy," the man said with a wink at Louise. He turned and casually exited the room, patting the burly man on the arm on his way out. He closed the door behind him and began his stroll down the dim basement corridor.

When he was midway down the hallway, he sighed, raising his hand to flip a lock of long, red hair from his eyes. Then the screaming began. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. Music to his ears. He smiled smugly to himself as he stuffed his hands into his pockets.

"I think it's time for my coffee..."

The phone was ringing again. It had been for minutes at a time for the past two hours. The first time, hoping it was Shuichi, Botan jolted up from the couch and made a dash for the cordless phone stationed on its charger on the living room table. She told herself to breathe deeply; she didn't want to come off as desperate. Making sure her hair was proper, as if he could see her, she looked down at the caller ID...

... and saw the name Urameshi, Yusuke. With an undignified growl, she hurled the communication device across the room and into a cushy loveseat. She flipped it the bird, as if he could her, then stomped back to the couch, remote raised to flick through the many channels of her cable television. The phone was once again ringing, and after checking several more times just to be on the safe side, Botan resigned herself to ignoring it.

... But it just kept ringing. Finally, she hopped to her feet, her hands outstretched in front of her like claws as she headed across the room, the irritating device in her sights. But a knock at her front door interrupted her plans of tearing the phone apart wire by wire.

She stalked over to the door and undid all the locks, the incessant ringing causing her anger to only climb. She snatched the door open with a snarl, the fierceness of the swing blowing her unbound hair from her shoulders.

"What?!" She shouted before her brain even registered who was standing in front of her, who happened to be Koenma. With one hand stuck in the pocket of his black suit jacket and the other holding a cellular phone to his ear, he stood there glaring at her, his lips pressed in a thin line.

"Koenma? What are you doing here?" she asked him, scratching the top of her head in utter confusion. Koenma took the phone away from his ear and waved it at her showingly before snapping it shut. Upon deactivating his cellular phone, the ringing of the phone in Botan's home ceased.

"I've been calling you for the past hour," he said flatly. Placing a hand on her hip, Botan moved aside to allow him into her home. She closed the door behind him and turned around to watch as he moved to take a seat on her couch.

"How did you know I'd be home?" Botan asked him. Koenma plopped down on the couch with a sigh then picked her remote up to change the channel.

"Honestly, you don't have much of a life, Hasaki," he answered her. Botan took a step towards him.

"Hey!" she exclaimed.

"Why weren't you answering my calls?" Koenma said, ignoring her exclamation completely.

"I thought you were Yusuke," Botan explained vaguely.

"Why didn't you just check your caller ID? I know you have it," he asked her.

"Because," she sighed as she came to join him on the couch, "He had been calling me for a whole hour already. Then he stopped for about ten minutes. Then the ringing started again and I just assumed it was him."

"Now why aren't you accepting his calls?" Koenma asked, briefly glancing at her from the corner of his eye before looking back at the television.

"Because he's an asshole!" Botan exclaimed with a nod while folding her legs beneath her meditative-style.

"Oh yeah," Koenma said waving his hand about lethargically, "he told me all about the ball. And from the sound of it, you ditched him again... this time, with a man." Botan turned around to face him fully, a horrified expression on her face.

"What?! That's a damn lie and he knows it! He was gonna' leave me there all by myself to go sleep with some random woman and this guy I just happened to be talking with offered to give me a ride home!" she said defensively, although Koenma was presented no argument.

"Yeah, I figured it was something like that. I know you'd never sleep with someone you don't even know," said Koenma distractedly as his eyes remained glued on the T.V screen.

"...Wait, what? Sleep... sleep with him? Is that what he told you I did?! Left him by himself so that I could go home and fuck some guy like some careless slut?!" Botan screeched angrily.

"No, but that's what he's assuming. Hey, what is that, chicken?" Koenma said as he squinted at the screen.

Anger, like she couldn't believe, hit Botan like oncoming traffic and she clenched her jaw hard to refrain from striking out at something. She wanted to destroy something, anything. It didn't matter what as long as something got shattered.


Sadness. Botan felt her facial muscles sag from the frown it was set in to a disappointed slouch as the fury that had simmered up within her died down to a more sorrowful grief. Her shoulders fell limp from the angry hunch she held them in and her eyes slowly trailed downward and onto the empty space between herself and Koenma.

"Is... is that what he thinks of me...?" she asked solemnly to no one in particular. Koenma looked up at her then, his eyebrows set in a concerned furrow as his cinnamon eyes watched her hurt face.

"No, Botan, he doesn't. He was just worried that you had out of anger for him. More importantly, you know you're not like that, so what does it matter?" he asked her firmly. Botan looked back up at him and shrugged one shoulder vaguely.

"I guess you're right. But as much as he and I fight, we are still friends and I'd be sorely hurt if he really did think of me that way," she said to him. Koenma rose from his seat and stretched then looked back at Botan.

"Forget about Urameshi. Come on, let's go get something to eat," he told her while stuffing his hands into his pants pockets.

"I'm not really hungry. Besides, I'm already late for my morning jog," she replied. Koenma frowned, pulling a hand from his pocket to look down at his watch.

"Hasaki, it's eleven-thirteen," he told her. Botan stood from her seat as well.

"Really?" she said, taking a look at his watch. Then she shrugged, a goofy grin on her face.

"Guess I'd better jump on it then, huh?" she laughed.

Adorned in black spandex shorts, a gray hoodie, and white sneakers, Botan jogged down a long pathway of Central Park, her high, curly ponytail swishing behind her. She had been jogging for roughly an hour and she was exhausted. But she trudged onward, the thought of rewarding herself later with cappuccino and a hot cinnabun serving as her only fuel.

So she kept on jogging until the pathway met sidewalk, upon which she began to walk briskly. Then she rounded the corner to her favorite coffee shop, licking her chops as if they were already smothered in caffeine enhanced goodness. She entered the small coffee establishment and took a quick look around as she approached the register, a delirious smile on her lips.

"Hi, Maye!" she chirped at the young blonde working the counter. Maye looked up and smiled.

"Hi, Miss H. I see you're a little late for your stop. Everything alright?" she giggled. Botan licked her lips as she looked up at the menu on the wall above Maye's head.

"Yeah, everything's just dandy, Maye, just dandy. So, what's the special today?" she said as her eyes dropped back to the girl.

"Well, we've got brownie bars for fifty cents and our mint tea is only seventy-five a cup. Would you like to try one?" asked the girl, cocking her head cutely. Botan jutted her bottom lip in thought, then shook her head after a moment.

"Nah, not today. I'll just have the usual," she decided. Maye nodded.

"One white chocolate cappuccino and a hot cinnabun it is, then," she said as she moved over to the cash register.

"Make that two," interjected a voice from behind Botan. The clerk looked past Botan and immediately blushed at the sight of the handsome man who had spoken. She nodded and turned to set about making their orders, trying hard to hide her ruddiness. Botan turned around and frowned at seeing who was standing behind her.

"You..." she said narrowing her eyes. Shuichi nodded, sticking his hands into his pants pockets.

"Me..." he stated. Botan, who wasn't as angry about seeing him as she was making out to be, wanted to smile. She didn't know why, but there was something about him so dangerously serious, yet so handsomely comical. But she didn't want him to know that. So, she kept on her stern mask.

"Hey, what are you doing here? I come here every morning and I've never seen you in here before..." she asked suspiciously.

"That is true. Rarely have I come in here. But now that I know this is a daily stop for you, I'll have to become a regular as well," Shuichi said with a small smile.

Now, from anyone else, that would have sounded so cheap and corny. But it was something about this one man that made it sound so... elegant and endearing; Botan couldn't help it. She blushed. And when she felt her cheeks warming up, she became so horrified, for she hardly blushed, if ever.

"Yeah..." she muttered embarrassedly as she turned her face to hide it.

"So how are you feeling?" he asked her. She looked up at him, confused as to what he was talking about.

"Huh?" she said dumbly.

"You know, your injuries," he clarified. Botan shrugged, the blush slowly receding from her cheeks.

"Eh, they're fine," she answered with a shrug. "I am a big girl, you know."

Shuichi laughed a little. "Yes, I don't doubt that you are," he said playfully. Botan smiled. This guy was interesting.

"I see your bruises are gone..." Shuichi said quietly, lifting a hand to brush his thumb along her cheekbone lightly.

-Dammit! He's gonna' make me blush again...- Despite her contradictory thoughts, Botan's lips parted in a soft smile.

"Orders are up," called Maye. Botan shook herself as Shuichi stepped past her to retrieve his order, thankful for the interruption.

"Thank you. How much?" said Shuichi, pulling out his wallet.

"Five dollars each," said Maye, keeping her blue eyes on the counter.

"Here, you go. Keep the change," he said with a wink as he handed her a twenty. She smiled timidly as she accepted the money. Botan rolled her eyes.

"You don't have to pay for me. I have my own money... I just left it at home," she said. Shuichi gave a short laugh.

"Join me at a table?" he said invitingly. She nodded and followed him towards the table near the window. He pulled out her chair before he made his way over to his own across from her.

"You know, that whole 'disheveled look' works for you," Shuichi said, lifting his coffee cup to his lips. Botan frowned.

"What?" she said in a clueless manner. He nodded towards her and she looked down at herself.

"It's nice. It looks like you've just had a really rough roll in the hay..." he chuckled. He gave her a wink and a sly smile then sipped from his cup. It took Botan a moment to comprehend what he was talking about, but when she did, her jaw fell like an anchor. She wanted to say something badly... but speech was failing her. Oh, her mind had plenty to say (You sick bastard! How dare you! What gives you the right...etc), but her lips didn't seem to want to move.

Shuichi set his cup down, angling his head teasingly as his eyes sparkled in mischief. When Botan's lips decided to work again, they did the exact opposite of what her mind was telling it to do-- they smiled.

"Pervert," she laughed. Shuichi shrugged.

"All men have a perverted side," he told her casually with a small grin. Botan shook her head again then turned her head to look out the window. She began watching a mother as she put her child inside of a car.

The small boy, no older than three, fought against his mother, pulling at her hair with one hand while the other pinched at her shirt. He bucked against her as she strapped him in the pried his hands off of her. She stuck her finger in his face and the boy immediately straightened up, his eyes growing as wide as saucers. She uttered a few threatening words to him before reaching over to grab the stuffed animal that lay beside him. She put it in his lap before moving out to load her bags into the car.

The tot fiddled with the toy bunny for a minute then flung it out of the car. Then he clapped his hands together, laughing mirthfully when it hit the ground. Botan smiled to herself, silently wishing the glass window wasn't so thick so that she might be able to hear the ring of his tiny voice.

A movement from the corner of her eye caught Botan's attention and she turned to look at Shuichi digging in his pants pocket. She watched as he dug into one of his pockets. Moments later, his hand emerged with a small black rubber band. He then reached up to tie his hair into a ponytail which ended right below his shoulder blades. It was then that she noticed the two small hoops that dangled from one of his earlobes. Her eyebrows shot up in surprise.

"You have your ears pierced," she noted aloud. Shuichi looked confusedly at her for a moment before an expression of remembrance washed over his face.

"Ah yes..." he said, reaching to finger the jewelry. The small loops jangled musically. "Only one ear. It's been pierced since I was seventeen. The earrings were my mothers."

"Were? She passed?" she asked.

"Passed? No, but she is very ill," he told her. It became quite for a while before Botan decided to ask the question that had been bugging her for a while.

"So how come you didn't call me? You told me you'd like to have my number and then when I gave it to you, you didn't call. I mean, if you had no real intentions on calling me then you didn't have to take it. I would have under--"

"No, it is nothing like that. I like you very much, Botan. I may not have known you for very long, but I like what I know so far," he said. He sighed, running his fingers through his bangs.

"I guess I am just old fashioned. I believe in not rushing things and not pushing a woman into something just because I want to. I was going to call you today... or tomorrow. Either way, I was going to call you. I just wanted to give you time," he explained to her as he watched the busy streets.

And a thought struck Botan as she bit her cinnabun. He looked so composed and serene as he watched the bustle of the streets. The bright sun hit him dead on and it seemed to sift through every thread of his red hair and illuminate his whole mane as if his head was alight with flames. It glinted off the chain dangling from the pocket of his pinstriped vest. His green eyes sparkled brilliantly, reminding her of staring out the window at the lawn sheeted with a fresh coat of gleaming dew. His lips were thin and smooth as he ran his tongue along them distractedly and she shook herself from the naughty thoughts that popped into her brain.

"Would you like to go out with me?" he asked her as he looked at her once again. She nearly choked on her cinnabun. She swallowed then pointed to herself.

"Me?" she said disbelievingly. Shuichi nodded.

"Yes, you," he replied. Botan looked a bit uncertain and she squirmed in her seat a little as she set her treat back down on the table.

"You mean like a date or something?" she said. Shuichi nodded again.

"Yes, on a date," he said, placing his elbows on the table to lean forward. His face was totally calm as he stared at her patiently.

"Um... Yes..." Botan said hesitantly. Shuichi half smiled, reaching out to twine his gloved index finger with her pinky.

"You don't have to... But I would like to see you when I have more time," he said softly. Botan nodded.

"I do. I mean, I would like to go on a date with you. But I don't go on many so don't be angry with me when it goes south," she warned him. He laugh.

"I'm sure we could find a way to stop that from happening," he said kindly as he withdrew his hand. He glanced down at his watch and shook his head.

"I have to go. I have a very important engagement planned," he said, rising from his seat.

"Okay," Botan said. He smiled at her as he leaned over the table to give her a small kiss on the cheek.

"I will call you tonight, alright? I promise," he said. Botan's heart nearly stopped when she felt the small bit of warm pressure on her skin.

"O-okay," she stuttered.

"Goodbye, Miss Hasaki. I hope the rest of your day finds you well," he said with a nod. Then he turned and smoothly stepped away from the table and towards the door. When he was out of the door, Maye scrambled from behind the counter and to Botan's table.

"Miss Hasaki, I didn't know you knew him!" she screeched. Botan shrugged.

"I don't, really..." she said quietly. When Maye saw she would get no more information from her, she went back to work with a disappointed pout. Botan smiled to herself.

"But I would like to..."

AN: Okay, I'm sorry for taking so damn long with this update. My computer crashed while my disk was in it or something and it all got erased. Most of this was written from the brain so I had to go back and write it AGAIN, which was a pain in the ass.

So, I think we all know who it was at the beginning. Initially, that part was supposed to be longer, but you know, things happen.

Yeah, so, if you'd like to visit my place of dwelling, my xanga account address is on my page. Or... you could send me an e-mail! Either way, I still love you.

Please Review! It'd be very much appreciated.