AN: Wow, what a thrill it has been writing "Through the Looking Glass." I have received so many wonderful reviews: some praising the work and some criticizing my writing. All of the reviews have been extremely helpful.
I hope everyone enjoys the last chapter of "Through the Looking Glass."
This chapter is dedicated to the all the reviewers throughout this piece of fiction. Thank you everyone for being such wonderful supporters.
-Through the Looking Glass
Chapter 9: Reverse
The Judge of the Dead swiveled anxiously around in his armchair while Ayame and George, Koenma's loyal followers, stared at him apprehensively. The blue ogre and ferry woman disliked their employer's sour face; it was a bad omen for them, as well as the other workers.
"How could they do this?" Koenma grumbled through his pacifier (although it was not doing its job). "They were lucky enough that I allowed any of this to happen; and what do they do for thanks? They make more paperwork for me! Not to mention put all of Japan in chaos!"
"Koenma-sama," George and Ayame sighed hopelessly in unison, shaking their heads at Koenma's tantrum. The little toddler wildly flailed his arms in the air and childishly wailed all his frustrations.
"Koenma-sama, it wasn't their fault," George tried reasoning through the young ruler's incoherent ranting. "Do you really have to punish them for something out of their hands? It wasn't their fault that those humans--"
"Don't make excuses for them!" Prince of the Spirit World snapped, throwing his remote at his blue servant. Although he was a large, fumbling ogre, George nimbly dodged the missile and ducked behind Ayame for safety.
"But Koenma-sama," Ayame now tried, "you know they tried secluding themselves. You know very well they did their best to avoid the humans. Fate was unkind to them, Koenma-sama; so please do not punish them for what they cannot control." Koenma made no effort to reply. Instead, he crossed his arms and sat silently.
"Koenma-sama," a voice buzzed.
Pressing the intercom on his desk, Koenma placidly answered, "Yes?"
"Botan-san and Kurama-san have arrived."
"All right, thank you. Send them in please."
Ayame and George turned around and watched Botan and Kurama (human) enter Koenma's office. Botan appeared anxious and frightened, but Kurama's hand around hers silently calmed the ferry girl. A small smile was shared between the pair.
"You called for us, Koenma-sama?" Kurama inquired calmly as soon as he and Botan were in front of the smaller sovereign. The redhead was at ease, a serene air about him: almost like he did not know he was in trouble.
"I thought it would be nice that the two you knew what your punishment was," Koenma answered. His voice was nearly heartless, but somewhere sarcasm dribbled down his words.
"Punishment?" Botan paled. Her hand released Kurama's and fell loosely by her side. The young woman was in shock. "For what, Koenma-sama?"
Koenma rolled his eyes at Botan's stupid question. The blue-haired girl knew Spirit World's rules just as well as Koenma did, so the answer was fairly obvious. "Does 'that stunt from yesterday' ring any bells for you, Botan?"
"But that was an accident, and you know it, Koenma-sama!" Botan growled, picking up Koenma by the collar. She "slightly" shook the smaller spirit. "It wasn't our fault, so don't punish us for something we didn't do!"
"Ack!" Koenma struggled, trying to free himself from Botan's grasp. "Let go of me, Botan! Put me down!"
Kurama placed a gentle hand on Botan's shoulder and tried calming the young lady. Sadly to say, the young man's words did nothing for Botan's temper. "Botan, Koenma-sama isn't going to punish us harshly. It can't possibly be worst than Kuwabara-kun's punishment last week. Ah! Botan, don't throw Ko--"
Ayame and George sighed while Kurama tried rescuing Koenma from Botan's wrath. "If only those tourists hadn't found them," the ferry woman and the ogre sighed.
The Day Before
"Do you think that they're all right, Genkai 'baa-san?" Botan wondered fearfully, worriedly tugging at her pink kimono sleeves.
"I don't know, Botan," the old woman sighed, her arms crossed over her chest. She and Botan sat outside of her temple and tried calming their nerves. They were the only ones who remained in their reality. "From what you and Koenma-sama have told me about these demons, the others could be anywhere: the Spirit World, the Human World, the Demon World, or some other World we aren't aware about."
"I hope they're all right," Botan prayed quietly, biting her lip. "If I were a little better at anything, I could have at least saved Kurama-kun, but I couldn't even do that. I wish they would all return safely home."
Right then, a huge portal opened before Botan and Genkai. The dimensional gateway was immense; energy cracked at its edges while it pulsed into the area. At first, Genkai suspected the portal, thinking it could be the demons returning for another victim. But when the old psychic recognized the light-hearted energy, she turned and stared in shock at Botan. The energy signature was uncanny, however, it was improbable. 'Or is it?' Genkai wondered sternly. 'No one but Koenma-sama and Enma-sama knows enough about Botan to determine if she capable of doing this.'
Looking through the vortex, the ferry girl smiled when she recognized seven silhouettes emerging. With a giggle and a sigh of relief, she rushed over to meet them. "Yusuke! Keiko-chan! Kurama-kun! Everyone! You're all right!"
Stepping through the time-portal, everyone smiled and laughed at a familiar and comforting sight. "Botan!" the entire group called out cheerily. Six people (even Hiei) eagerly raced towards the ferry girl and embraced her in reprieve.
"Ah! What's this?" Botan gasped in surprise, pressure coming at her from all sides. She could hardly breathe from the bear hugs Yusuke and Kazuma were giving her, not to mention the additional strength from Keiko, Shizuru, and Yukina. "What's wrong, everyone? Why are you all crying?"
"Botan," Yusuke cried, his hold on her ever fierce, "don't ever do anything stupid like that again! I don't care if you want to save us. Don't you ever do something like that again! If you do, I swear I'll kill you!"
"Huh?" Botan stared confusedly at her friends. Something was definitely amiss. Turning to glance at everyone, the young woman noticed tears in her friends' eyes and looks of deep relief. It was as if Botan had come back from the dead and no one could believe it; at least, that is what the ferry girl felt like.
"Botan." At the sound of the soft-spoken voice, everyone released Botan from his or her killer hug. They turned towards the now redhead Kurama.
"Kurama-kun," Botan whispered quietly, also seeing tears in her friend's emerald eyes, "Kurama-kun, what's wrong? Why are you so--" She did not get to finish her sentence as Kurama tightly embraced her and buried his face into her shoulder. Botan's face radiated with heat as it turned a lovely shade of rose-red; her mind drew a complete blank. After a silent moment, Kurama pulled away from the dumbstruck Botan, took her hand, and began leading her away. The others did not bother following, knowing quite well what the pair would talk about.
Walking up to Yusuke and his friends, Genkai solemnly questioned, "What happened?"
"Are you talking about them," Yusuke wondered, pointing at Kurama and Botan's shrinking forms, "or about where we've been?"
With a short nod, Genkai replied, "Both."
"Where we went was back in time," Yusuke started, sighing jadedly and slapping his forehead with exasperation. He rolled his eyes at the tiresome experience. "Gah, and what a pain that's been! First, Kurama and I--"
"That didn't happen first, Yusuke," Keiko reminded, cutting the boy off. "What first happened was Shizuru-san was kidnapped and then I was, resulting the two of us being in the feudal era for a few months before you guys showed up."
"And during those months, I got brainwashed and made to think I was the Head General of the Demon Army," Shizuru muttered with shame and sorrow. "And it was then I met Sakyou and worked with him."
"Sakyou?" Genkai raised a curious brow. The familiar name gave the old woman chills and pangs of annoyance all at once; Sakyou related to any major problems in the Human World in the last ten years. "I thought he died during the Dark Tournament?"
"He did. The person I met was his former self," Shizuru explained with a sad smile. "I guess the one we saw at the Dark Tournament was a reincarnation or something of the like. He wasn't as bad as everyone thought; he saved my after all."
"Well, after that, we appeared on the scene," Kazuma explained proudly. "Yukina-san, shrimp--" Hiei growled at the human's name for him--"and I met Taka-sama and were hired to work for him after he saw our amazing fighting skills."
Genkai was unfamiliar with a name. "Who is 'Taka-sama'?"
"Yukina-chan's new boyfriend," Shizuru and Keiko grinned gently, patting Yukina cheerily on the back. "They shared a good-bye kiss before we left: two kisses, actually."
"What?!" Kazuma demanded furiously, his eyes growing wide in shock. "They kissed? That jerk! How dare he make a move on Yukina-san like that!" Shizuru made no comment and only rolled her eyes; her little brother was so oblivious at times it hurt her brain just to think about it.
"But who exactly was he, Yukina-chan? It seemed like you knew who he was," Keiko asked.
"Like Shizuru-san, I also met someone from my past," Yukina murmured sadly. "Before Yusuke and Kazuma rescued me from Tarukane's mansion, there was a young man who worked for Tarukane that tried freeing me." Kazuma somewhat gasped, remembering an image from Yukina's memory when he had shared her memories that day.
Raising a curious brow, Yusuke asked, "Well, what happened to him? Where is he now?"
"Tarukane killed him while we tried escaping," Yukina whispered. "He took all the blame for the escape and protected me the entire time; he was killed because of me. I've felt awful for many years, letting Taka die and never knowing who he was or his real name."
Keiko gave her friend a small, sympathetic hug. "Yukina-chan."
"But now," Yukina grinned, letting go of her sadness, "I met Taka again, and I'm glad that I did. Twice he comforted me and saved my life, and now he knows how grateful I am. I'm very sure I'll meet him another time." The ice maiden smiled brightly, warming everyone especially her brother's heart.
"And so what's wrong with Kurama?" Genkai questioned soon afterward.
"Well, after we met Taka-sama, Kurama and Yusuke met Botan-hime," Yukina promptly answered. "At least, I believe that is what happened."
"We found out that she's Botan-chan's past self," Keiko explained. "By then, Botan-hime had rescued me, and I had been working for her for about a month or so. A while after, Botan-hime was kidnapped by the demons."
"We killed the demons," Yusuke growled fiercely. He punched an angry fist into his hand with a satisfying smack. "And they deserved dying after wounding Botan-hime like that. I just wish I could kill them again, those bastards."
Genkai put the pieces of the story together and found the gaps along the way. "That doesn't make sense. Then how did all of you get back here if you killed the only way home? Koenma-sama said that those demons were the only ones able to go through time."
With heavy reluctance and remorse, Yusuke muttered, "Botan-hime wished us here."
"Wished you here?"
"It's a long story, Genkai 'baa-san, much longer than the one we just told you," Keiko tried smiling, taking the elderly woman's hand. The young lady led Genkai inside. "Let's just say that Botan-chan has an interesting family tree with amazing powers."
"Kurama-kun, what's wrong?" Botan demanded, trying her hardest to keep up with Kurama's longer strides. "Where are you taking me? What's going on, Kurama-kun?" The young man did not answer Botan's inquiries and remained stoically silent. They traveled quickly, already a mile away from Genkai's temple. After a minute or so of more fast-pace walking, Kurama slowly eased himself to a slower gait.
"Kurama-kun, what's wrong? What happened when you went through the portal?" Botan questioned once more, watching Kurama's back carefully. She could not see his face, but the lady was quite sure it was unreadable as always. "Everyone came back dressed in old clothing, and all of you look about a few months older. What happened to you?"
"Why didn't you tell me about this?" Kurama whispered, his back still towards Botan.
Kurama's quiet voice frightened Botan; it was eerily sad and frustrated all at once. "About what, Kurama-kun?"
"Why didn't you tell me," Kurama murmured, turning and staring into Botan's amethyst eyes, "that I would fall in love with you, Botan?" Tears then slowly streamed down Kurama's face, each drop creating an uneasy ripple in Botan's heart. She then knew what had happened through the portal.
"Kurama, I'm sorry," Botan apologized, pulling the redhead into a hug. She held him tightly against her, allowing him to cry onto her shoulder. "I'm sorry that you had to see, had to experience something like that. I wish you didn't have to see something like that, but what happened can't be helped. I'm sorry you felt helpless, Kurama; you did everything you could, and that was enough."
'Loving me was more than enough.'
After a few minutes, Kurama becalmed himself, and he and Botan quietly strolled through the park. The pair was silent as they walked, absorbing the security the other's presence gave. When Kurama and Botan were sure normal humans could not hear nor see them, they began discussing what had happened. "So you saw myself in the past," Botan muttered thoughtfully, a sad smile gracing her lips. "I thought this wouldn't happen until a few more years."
Emerald eyes stared at the ground in shame, Kurama not able to cast aside his guilt. Why would the guilt not go away, even when Botan stood right next to him? Why, when the one he loved smiled by his side, could he not smile back? "I wish I could have protected you from those demons. Maybe then, you would have lived a life you deserved."
"Kurama-kun, I would have eventually died anyway. Another demon or some greedy warlord would have discovered my powers and used me for their own evil wills; and then none of us would exist right now. It's fine you didn't save me that day. Actually, if you think about it, it's better that you didn't save me," Botan replied cheerfully.
"How so?" Kurama questioned. He did not believe Botan could speak of her death so lightly, as if it had been the greatest moment of her life.
"What I remember," Botan smiled, watching some birds flying in the sky, "from the day I died is that I wished for my friends to be able to return home."
Kurama was dumbstruck. "What?"
Grinning sheepishly, the young lady amiably repeated, "With all of my blood and my heart, Kurama, I wished to return you to the time you were from."
"So in the end--"
"It was better for me to die that day and save your life than for you to have saved mine and I never meeting you again." Botan glowed with her benevolent nature, her beauty blooming with her confession. Kurama then remembered Princess Botan's words in the garden.
'I cannot accept your love, Kurama-san, because it is not right for me to do so.'
'How did she know? How did she know that this would happen, that we would meet again?'
'It is not in my place to accept your love.'
'Because it's Botan's place.'
"And even in the end," Kurama smiled, holding his hand out to the ferry girl, "we meet one another again."
"We were meant to be," Botan grinned, taking Kurama's hand. She covered his hand over her heart and smiled at him endearingly. The gentleness in her amethyst eyes made Kurama forget all his doubts and fears.
"I still do not understand how you know my heart so well, and I have yet to understand you, Botan."
"You're such a silly fox," Botan giggled as she patted Kurama's hand playfully. "Kurama, if you hadn't understood my heart, then you would have never left me to die in the past. Your soul recognized mine, and this is why we are able to be with each other now. We understand each other perfectly."
The truth in Botan's words stunned but did not surprise Kurama because inside he knew this truth as well. Like his love had said, his soul had known that since the beginning. "But you must have been so lonely waiting for me to return your feelings. Wasn't it tiring keeping your secret?"
"No," Botan smiled, "even if you never fell in love with me again, I would have waited and loved you. I figured it was only fair after what I had done to you in the past." She placed a gentle hand on Kurama's cheek and stared at him apologetically. "I'm sorry for hurting you."
The young man's eyes narrowed. "And this is what you get for leaving me like that." Grabbing her arm firmly and pulling her towards him, Kurama sweetly kissed Botan, allowing her an understanding of his pent-up emotions. Their lips, familiar from a distant memory, united blissfully with incredible joy. Their souls went back to a dazzling garden where two lovers, a lustrous silver spirit and a beautiful flower princess, awaited being reunited once more. The kiss was enchanting.
When Kurama and Botan finally broke their kiss, applause broke out. The couple, utterly surprised, turned their heads and found themselves surrounded by a rather large crowd. People whistled, clapped, and cheered for Kurama and Botan's romantic moment. Flashes of light erupted from here and there, disorienting the lovers.
"Wow, that was an amazing scene."
"I wonder what movie they're making?"
"I want to watch it when it comes out!"
"But where are the cameras and other people?"
"I don't care! That was awesome."
"I love their costumes."
"That scene was so sweet!
Blushing from all of the attention and sheepish their confessions had been overheard, Kurama and Botan tried escaping; unfortunately, all humanly possible exits were blocked. A smoke bomb then erupted, fleeing from it a white apparition and a heavenly maiden. The crowd cheered once more, still believing that the scene was a theatrical stunt.
The next day, the city newspaper, not to mention every other major media, had these headlines: "FOX AND PRINCESS: ANTICIPATED BLOCKBUSTER HIT"; "WHO ARE THESE STAR ACTORS, FOX AND PRINCESS"; "NO TICKETS FOR FOX AND PRINCESS; SOLD OUT"; and "FOX AND PRINCESS WANTED".
The Human World was in chaos.
Koenma was definitely most displeased.