A/N: I… am free! The two AP physics exams are over; yay! And so with the heavy weight lifted, the young writer sprints to Fry's to buy Kingdom Hearts II for inspiration (and Riku-Sora drooling).

Yup, yup. Apologizing at this point would be… sad. I really needed the spare time to study and sleep and, well, do… stuff. Thanks everyone who pm-ed me during that time. I'm glad that some people haven't forgotten my widdle story!

But as a present, I wrote a 5,000 word chapter. Considering that I'm usually a lazy bum and only write 1,000 words, this is a serious stretch for me. I'm going to write chapters this long from now on!

Thanks everyone for your support; I love you all!

(Oh and p.s. if any of you guys are in CA and are going to famine, I'll have a booth selling my artwork! So stop by, ok? My buddies and I are naming our made-up art company Studio-studio-studios. Hehehe… Hey, a name is a name, right?)


Chapter 13: Domino Effect

Cradled in a corner of the hallway, Yukina gnawed at her lip impatiently. How long were these two going to stay there? Sensui and Itsuki, or so she remembered the two calling each other, stood in a hall adjacent to hers, and the cacophony of noise they were making was nothing short of impossible not to notice. It baffled her to think about exactly what could create such noise, but in many ways she did not want to, or refused not to turn her head around the corner and sneak a peak. What if it… was something she was not supposed to see?

The biting of her lip soon ended only to be replaced with the fiddling of her fingers; sitting on the cold floor listening to this… this, whatever it was… had to be the most nervous experience she ever encountered. Her fingers soon found a strand of hair resting silently on her shoulder and quickly began to tangle themselves in it.

It was a nervous habit she picked up.

Yukina never used to have an obsessive need to tangle and untangle her hair. No, in fact she barely would touch anything when she was young. Just… stand absent-mindedly, sit quietly… remain still as a statue, a broken machine. Her eyes lowered to her clothing, wondering exactly where this habit began, but nothing came to mind immediately. Oh wait, now she remembered!

Shortly after she met Hiei and the others for the first time. The ice maiden had remained in isolation and was tortured and then they had come to rescue her. Shaken by the whole experience, Yukina had been grateful to see this not-exactly-tall dark man save her. But something in this man frightened her, the absence of warmth in his eyes… she could see him, just see so clearly that he intended to murder her captor. Her heart had frozen, and she begged the emotionless man not to do it… and… he complied.


Then the fear she had directed towards those lifeless expressions had evaporated. Yukina had been so happy! So content that someone had listened to her, but almost as quickly as her fear was lost, a new sensation quickly replaced it. Anxiety, the kind aroused from her nervousness around him. And so the hair tangling was the result. Whenever she saw him, Yukina would twirl those icy locks to divert frustration at her inability to speak long with him.

But now that all had changed… right?

She confessed to him; confessed that she loved him, and Hiei said he loved her. What more to it was there?

And yet…

That one moment… she could clearly see disgust in his eyes, his eyebrows rising in utter shock… what could that mean…

But she could not think! Not like this. Those two were still inches from her, not regarding her presence at all, and Yukina had half the mind to stand up, reel around the corner, and ask for silence. But lucky for her, she didn't have to.

Click. Clack. Click…

The sound of footsteps, and not far off too. Releasing some of her hair from the delicate fingers, Yukina parted her lips slightly in anticipation, and much to her relief the sounds of Sensui and Itsuki ceased rather abruptly. She could hear a pout from one of them, not entirely sure from whom, and soon their awkward presence disappeared.

They just… left? At the sound of footsteps? If she had known they were so easily frightened by something so trivial, Yukina could have scared them off herself. As if the maiden could summon up the courage to do that. She lifted herself gently, using the wall as leverage and made not a sound.

Courage, now that was something she didn't have. A sigh escaped her mute figure as Yukina berated herself. She shouldn't think that to herself. Confessing to Hiei took some form of courage, right? Though… (her fingers began tugging at her hair again) it was not her courage; Yukina simply borrowed Hiei's. Looking into his concerned eyes gave her what little resolve she had.

Funny, how his eyes had so many… faces. She could never quite predict what emotion they'd portray. Sometimes Yukina found herself in wonder of them, and others, in fear or doubt. Whatever each case was, Yukina never wanted to stray from them. And the thought of not seeing his beautiful red eyes now deflated her slightly. She wanted to find him.

Well, Hiei had said he'd find her. Maybe these footsteps belonged to his?

She closed her eyes, listening intently to the rhythm of it, the repetitive clicking. No, those did not belong to Hiei. The echoing steps were too light on the ground; perhaps a woman. A woman? Her guesses were not ones to base judgment on, but they were enough to convince Yukina to leave her spot in the hallway. She headed in direction of where she thought the source of the sound was, but did not do so in any hurry. If they were not Hiei's, then she saw no point in it.

But her curiosity rose as the dark hallways grew in brightness, tinted in an orange-red hue.

"Hello?" she wavered, holding her hair in one hand and trailing the wall with the other. Upon hearing no response she quickened her pace and said louder, "is anyone there?"

"Why yes," a voice whispered from behind her, and Yukina suddenly jumped forwards. She stumbled a few feet until finally falling to her knees, and then turned to face the person to whom the voice belonged.

It was a woman.

Her lips curled into a placid smile as the woman let her eyelids droop slightly. Normally Yukina would have felt a pang of fear at this woman's orange skin, crimson locks, and eerie black eyes, but she felt safe. Not because Hiei existed in the same building as her and promised to help her if needed, but because the menacing woman appeared paradoxically harmless.

So when the woman extended a helping hand, Yukina took it and pulled herself to her feet. Glad to be strongly rooted on the ground again, she smiled weakly under her bangs and studied to entrancing silver pendant on the woman's cloak. Though, Yukina did not look into her eyes, or at least, not immediately.

"Ah, so you must be Yukina," were her only words, quiet and innocent yet strangely condescending.

She lifted her eyes, but not necessarily her head, to meet the charcoal ones of her new acquaintance. They were nothing like the red jewels Hiei sported but shared the same cold stare. She shuddered under the woman's stare.


"Nothing," she replied absently, rubbing her neck slightly, turning to stare at the oh-so-fascinating wall. "I had wished I never had to meet you."

Yukina simply… wilted at this.

What did she do now? This woman obviously knew something about Yukina, but the knowledge was not mutual. And the fact that whatever she did know disappointed the woman had made Yukina awkwardly aware of herself. Her hair was tangled and in a mess, her knees slightly darkened from the fall she had just taken, the fatigue in her eyes from sitting through that noise not too long ago. Yukina did not need a mirror to know she probably looked terrible but…was she really a disappointment?

"Do not look so sad," she frowned. "You would not want to have to meet me either."

Why the riddles? She tilted her head to convey a confused expression to the woman. And it was only then that Yukina realized how much taller this woman was than her. True, Yukina was not exactly the model of height, but this difference between them affected her greatly. Yukina probably was a disappointment.

Huddling lower, Yukina whispered, "How would I know that?"

"Well, I suppose I'm about to tell you." A hand rested on Yukina's shoulders suddenly, and the woman nudged her to walk forwards. Once Yukina complied (though had not done so immediately), however, the woman retracted her hand (which was surprisingly hot as Yukina noticed) and added with a quiet sigh, "Have you heard of me?"

"No, not particularly," but Yukina quickly wanted to retrace her words upon seeing the deepened frown the woman showed off. "Um… sorry, should I know?"

"No, no, not at all actually," she laughed quietly, allowing her arms to retreat into the safety and darkness beneath her cloak. "I am Phennix, but it is best you forget the name when I leave."

Dare she ask why? She wanted to, but somehow a "why" didn't seem appropriate at the moment. An opportune time? There was never a good time to bring up anything, so why was she bothering pondering it? She doubted there would ever be an appropriate moment so she might as well…

"You see, it would be best not to tell Hiei. That's why."

Yukina's eyes widened slightly at the response to the question she had not even formed on her lips.

"Tell him what?"

"Tell him that you spoke to me of course."

"Oh…" she exhaled. And to her quiet surprise, her lungs filled with heat as she inhaled her next breath. It was getting hotter in this hallway. Actually… she took a look around; Yukina was not even in the desolate hallway anymore. Her mouth dropped slightly, displaying a hint of her teeth, as Yukina, for the first time, looked expectantly at Phennix.

The woman's eyes sparkled in return, but she said nothing of the matter. "Hiei is a sensitive little guy, and if he knew you saw me, he might become a little…aggravated."

"But, why?"

"So many questions!" Phennix laughed, "you're just like him!"

Yukina smiled at this, despite the uneasiness of the sudden change of scenery. It almost looked as though they were walking on clouds now. Almost as though she were in a dream. Almost… but it wasn't.

"I am?"

"Well there is a key difference between the two of you…" she rubbed her chin briefly, hiding a growing smile. "But you'll have to figure out that one on your own."

"Sorry, but I'm confused."

"How so?"

Yukina toyed with her hair briefly. Why was she nervous now?

"You haven't actually said anything," Yukina said strongly at first but trailed off into a whimper. "You're being so vague. I don't understand; why would Hiei not want to know of you? Why do you not want to meet me? What are you trying to tell me?"

Phennix lowered her eyes to meet Yukina's but then turned away. "Come," she said quietly, as she pointed to a lump of cloud, a lump that gradually gained shape and molded into a pearly red bench. Phennix approached it, but did not sit down until she patted it gently and shifted her peculiar feathery cloak. Slightly relieved to not have to walk any further, Yukina joined Phennix.

The bench was not exactly the most comfortable thing Yukina would have liked to sit on, especially since it was too tall for her feet to touch the ground. And so Yukina simply stared at the swaying feet, waiting patiently for Phennix to say whatever she had to say.

"Hiei…is in trouble you see."

Yukina's head shot up. "He is?"

"Not the way you think of trouble. But he is in it nonetheless. I am…" Phennix trailed off, making Yukina raise her eyebrows in quiet surprise. This was the first the woman appeared unsure of what to say. "I am a guide of his… of sorts."

"…A guide?"

"You must not tell him this," she said quickly and looked straight into the distance. "I trust you Yukina. Do you… trust me?"

She lifted her legs to her chin and pondered this question. The silence did not appear to fluster Phennix, so Yukina took her time to consider the question. If Phennix was Hiei's ally, then what more did she need? "I suppose so…"

"You see Yukina, I do not really exist, or at least, not anymore. I worked with Hiei once upon a time. I helped him obtain his precious Jagan eye. That organ is not exactly the cheapest thing on the market. But then, things changed." Phennix paused. The sound of a long exhale passed Yukina's ears, and she looked to find Phennix leaning back into the cloudy bench.

"Yukina, I'm a phoenix, a creature that lives but five hundred years, which is a short period for a demon, no? When that time is up, the phoenix sacrifices itself to be reborn as another phoenix. Quite ridiculous when you think of it…"

Yukina waited to hear more but when Phennix said nothing else, she said delicately, "but what does that have to do with you being Hiei's guide?"

"Something… went wrong."

Yukina waited.

…and waited.

And waited, but Phennix did not continue. "You weren't reborn?"

But Phennix said nothing, only turned to look at Yukina. Her face pained at the question and Yukina did not pry further.

"The fact is, now I am here. Yukina, you're dreaming. I can only retain my form in Hiei's dreams or someone's who is close to him."

Her heart leapt; she was close to Hiei.

"…And it is because of this that I consider myself his guide… of sorts. I am not a guardian spirit so I cannot call myself one, but I cannot be stuck inside Hiei's dreams and not try to help him."

"But you still haven't said… what kind of trouble is Hiei in?"

"That… is something you must find out, Yukina. He is very torn and too stubborn to confront the issue." Phennix crookedly smiled at this, not bothering to acknowledge the confused expression of Yukina. She closed her eyes and grudgingly opened them as if it were a chore, as she rose to her feet. "He refuses to listen to me, so I won't appear in his dreams any longer."

Yukina remained perched on the bench, feeling sympathy towards this trapped creature. "He'll come around, I'm sure. That's why I love him so." But the ice maiden soon dropped her enthusiasm upon seeing Phennix shake her head and reveal her cloak to be folded wings. The phoenix stretched them majestically and then began to walk away, the cloudy mist around them vanishing along with her.


"Don't talk to a traitor, dear."

"Wait a second, Phennix…" but the woman would not hear it and flew off, vanishing as quickly as she had appeared.



"Yukina!" The bench she sat on shook violently, for whatever reason, and the ice maiden opened her eyes groggily. Since when had she closed her eyes? Oh right… Yukina sighed inwardly; she was dreaming. How else could she talk to someone who only existed in dreams?


She blinked several times, trying to make her swirling vision clear. It was not helping particularly well, for immediately before her was a blue face. "Uh?"

"Oh good, you're awake!" No wait, it wasn't blue. The hair was blue… Yukina smiled knowingly and blinked a final time until her exhaustion faded into the distance.

"Botan," she whispered, her eyes shining. "Why are you here?"

"I work here silly!" The woman cheered and cautiously helped the maiden to her feet. "Come on, Hiei, Kurama, and Koenma are still talking so maybe you'd like to have some tea with me? It's much better than sitting here on the cold floor!"

"But what about…" Those two boys making so much noise… where were they? Were they a part of her dream just as much as Phennix? Or had she fallen asleep afterwards… As if anyone could fall asleep, listening to that.

"What about what?"

Phennix… she was just here.

"Oh it was nothing," Yukina laughed, closing her eyes in the process. Phennix told her not to tell Hiei, and telling Botan… The epitome of gossip and talk… that was as good as telling Hiei himself. "Tea sounds delightful."

Botan returned the laugh but did not necessarily trust Yukina. It was not like Hiei's sister to lie, so it was fairly easy to see through a façade of hers. But nonetheless, Botan knew when not to pry. Or so she liked to tell herself. "Follow me then; my little office is close to here."

"Near this dark hallway?" Yukina complied and walked closely to the confident Botan, undaunted by the sheer etherealness of the place.

"That's because I spend so much time in Koenma's office, I barely visit my own. This section is a bit abandoned, but I still like to stop by here every once in a while to check and see that no one has made my office a home."

"…Has that happened before?"

They turned a corner, and continued until reaching an open door. "No, but it could," Botan smiled innocently. "Here it is."

Yukina snuck a peak inside to see absolutely nothing resembling an office. "But it's…"

"A bunch of furniture."

"And an oven and cabinets and…" It looked like a kitchen and living room smashed into the same space. "This is your office?"

"Cool, huh?" Botan waited for a reply, and satisfied by a quiet nod she said, "So sit down, I'll whip up some tea!"

As Botan rushed to her beautifully crafted counter, Yukina made her way to an oversized, burgundy couch, placed behind a wooden coffee table. She watched quietly as Botan grabbed a pair of matching mugs without looking into her cabinets. Filling a pan with water from her faucet with her other hand, Botan began to hum loudly.

Yukina fiddled with her hair, unsure of what to do at this point, and decided to wait until Botan sat beside her. There was something she initially wanted to talk to Botan about. What was it?

Unaware of Yukina's thoughts, Botan hummed slightly, "So you came here with Hiei? That's so great."

Hiei… that was it. She wanted to ask some advice. Best to wait till Botan did sit down. It would give the maiden time to come with something concrete to ask.


Botan bubbled with excitement as the water boiled (much faster than any human device could boil water; the wonders of spirit world), and she quickly poured it into each cup. Haphazardly, she grabbed the mugs and tea bags, and rushed to place them on her coffee table. Botan brushed her hair back and then flopped down onto a red cushion opposite Yukina, and stirred the tea bags in the cups.

"Wait for it to sit a little bit," she exhaled. "Oh I forgot; would you like honey in it?"

"I don't want to inconvenience you…"

"Not at all!" Botan smirked and leapt to her feet, opening a cabinet filled with spices. "Odd… where is it?" She dug deep into the case, and finding nothing, Botan then searched the next cabinet without bothering to close the first one.

Yukina sighed quietly… this would take some time. "Botan?"

Above the racket of tossed aside plastic cups and saucers, a muffled "yes?" could be heard from inside the cabinet.

She gently touched her cup and traced her fingers around the rim. "I need some advice."

A head shot out from inside the cabinet as Botan turned to face Yukina with a growing smile. "What kind?"

"It's… about Hiei."

And the smile fleeted, fading into a frown.

Botan abandoned the search for the honey and slowly returned to her seat on the cushion. "Yes?"

Nervous at the attention sharply focused on her, Yukina sipped the tea, which unfortunately has not time to actually absorb any taste from the tea bag. She made a face.

"I told you to let it settle silly."

"Oh, sorry," Yukina replied absently and returned the mug to the table.

"You were saying?"

"Right. Hiei…"

Botan waited patiently, seeing Yukina gulp and clear her throat (probably to rid her tongue of the tea that did not taste like tea).

"Where should I begin?"

"From the beginning I suppose," Botan relaxed into the cushion, snatching her own mug and letting it rest in between her hands.

"So I really like Hiei."

Botan smiled, settling deeper into her cushion. "You should. Everyone likes Hiei. He's a… charming guy."

Yukina saw Botan swirl her tea bag and reach to take a sip before the maiden turned her eyes to the side. "Not like that. I love him and I told him that I did and…"

But she stopped. She had to. How could she ignore the sound of Botan spitting out her tea so loudly?

"You w-what?"

"I told him I loved him," Yukina whispered, not at all confident by the reaction of her friend. The comment was barely audible too, but it seemed enough for Botan to understand.

"That's… what I thought you said," she coughed and returned the mug to the table lest she spill the whole thing on herself. "You love him as in…sisterly love?"

Yukina's eyes narrowed in confusion. "No."


"Like, um, passionate love?"

Botan said nothing, just… gaped. Her mouth had dropped and remained there, for Botan was too astonished for words or movement or… anything. The happiness in her eyes vanished to be replaced by hint of disgust, the same kind she saw in Hiei's.

"Is something wrong? Botan?"

"H-how did this happen?"

"I don't know… how can you explain how love happens? Doesn't it just… happen?"

Botan covered her eyes and then let her palm trail her stressed facial features until resting on her mouth. Barely audible Botan panicked, "Figures this would happen…"

"Sorry? What did you say? I couldn't here you," Yukina pleaded. "Is there something wrong?"

"N-no. I just, um… what did Hiei do? When you told him this?"

Yukina rubbed her arm and soon resumed tangling her hair. "That's what I needed advice about. He looked kind of… disgusted. I don't understand why. But after some time he told me he loved me too, and I got really excited and then… we came here. But Hiei looked distraught and I dunno, conflicted… and what do I do?"

Botan did not speak immediately. She watched the swaying of her tea bag in the cup and tried desperately not to think about the problem Yukina presented her with. But she had to think about it. As gross and disgusting and… incestuous as it was, she had to.

She could not exactly stand up and leave and avoid Yukina. But she couldn't tell Yukina this was wrong and sick. That would mean Botan would have to tell Yukina why it was wrong. And that would mean… telling her that she was Hiei's sister.

Sister! She was his sister; how could she be in love with him!

And at that point, rage filled Botan. This was Hiei's fault. If he wanted to protect his sister so much, then why did he let this happen? If Yukina found out now, she'd be crushed. A person cannot just magically forget they love someone. But Hiei could not love Yukina in return, not in the same 'passionate' way.

No matter what, Yukina would lose.

What could Botan possibly say?

Possibility number one: tell Yukina nothing was wrong. Hiei just was not used to someone's open affection. He'd come around; she knew Hiei liked Yukina, and it would just take time. But then again… This was adding fuel to the fire.

Possibility number two: tell Yukina that Hiei didn't love her. No, that one was out for sure.

Possibility number three: tell Yukina the truth. Botan laughed at this one. She would rather die then be the one to tell Yukina that!


The blue-haired woman let her hand fall from her face, "Hm?"

"What do I do?"

"Talk to him I suppose."

"But I already tried that. What do I say?"

Botan raised her eyes giving Yukina a look of sheer pity. And the ice maiden did not like it at all.

"Look Yukina…" she shifted her position on the couch uncomfortably. "Love is something you shouldn't throw around. Are you sure you love him this way?"


Good luck, Botan frowned. "I know he loves you. Maybe not the way you think, but he does love you. More than anything actually."

"Then why…"

"Look, I'll talk to him," Botan offered sympathetically. And boy would she give him a piece of her mind! He would limp profoundly before she was through with him. "Let's head back over to Koenma's office. The fires they're talking about are not as important as this."

Yukina smiled as Botan rose to her feet and headed for the door, completely forgetting about her tea. She followed quietly, but not before nervously sipping her own. It was tasty once it settled.

"Coming," Yukina answered innocently, leaving her mug on the coffee table.


Hiei groaned at Kurama's and Koenma's constant banter. He had lost interest a while back. This was nothing he had not heard already. Fires and magic and demons and nonsense. It bored him; it really did. Especially since he had other things to worry about. Like his predicament with Yukina.

Uhg, Yukina…

"What do you think Hiei?" Kurama said intentionally loudly to wake the fire demon from his thoughts.


"About Kurama's theory," Koenma sighed from behind his desk. "I think you're forgetting that you're freedom is riding on the success of this case."

He shrugged. It wasn't as though Hiei had anything to do with this freedom once he would actually obtain it. He couldn't return to thievery; that would mean hurting Yukina. And he couldn't possibly pretend to be in passionate love with Yukina for the rest of his life. Hiei deflated at this thought. Yukina deserved happiness, and if it meant that he would suffer under the knowledge that he was an incestuous freak then so be it.

"What's this theory again?"

Kurama rolled his eyes innocently and began (again) his theory, "I think that Phennix is involved with these fires because she's the only phoenix, and this kind of fire can only be defined as phoenix fire. It cannot fit under any other category…"

"You already told me this…" Hiei sighed.

"Yes well how do I know how much you have actually listened to?"

The fire demon raised his eyebrow and then shoved his hands in his pockets. "Touche."

"Since you worked with her and probably saw her last, we need you to track her down because she's obviously involved. And if she isn't she can stop it. And when you do… you're free."

"I'm not going to look for her," he spat. As if he wanted to talk to her in his dreams again! That witch, telling him what to do? The last thing he needed was seeing her again.

"But your…"

"Freedom. Yeah, yeah." The demon sighed loudly, taking both Koenma and Kurama back. Was it really worth it? This whole adventure led to nothing but problems. And so he returned to a question he vaguely recalled Phoenix hinting at: was his freedom what he valued most?

…was it?

"Forget it," Hiei said flatly.

His freedom was not what he valued most. Yukina was. And talking to Phennix ever again was something Hiei flat-out refused to do.

"What?" Koenma scoffed, leaning forward into his desk, panic written across his face.

"I don't want it. Lock me up; I don't care. You can't break me Koenma." Because Yukina already has.

And with that, he began to walk out of the office filled with piles of paperwork. He heard the footsteps of Kurama from behind him, but this only led him to quicken his pace. The faster he reached the door the better. But unfortunately for him, Botan stopped him.


The fire demon raised his eyes to her with a look of death but forcibly lifted the hatred when he saw Yukina standing sweetly beside her.

Botan clearly had a look of mutual anger as she tried to steady her voice. "I have to talk to you. Now."

At this point Hiei simply did not care. At all. Throw daggers at him, flame him, whatever, it didn't matter. He did not even bother to brace himself for the worst; he was done shielding himself.

"Can it wait?" Koenma sighed. "Or better yet, can you help us convince Hiei not to leave?"

"Leave?" Yukina echoed. She suddenly filled with silent dread. Maybe Hiei really was in trouble, just like Phennix said!

But Koenma ignored her and added, "Botan, tell him to help us hunt down Phennix."


No one could ignore Yukina after that outburst. Everyone, everyone, looked at her with surprise, and the maiden wanted to melt into the floor suddenly. She had just accidentally admitted to knowing who Phennix was and after promising the phoenix she would not to tell! Her eyes traveled from person to person, and finally landed on Hiei.

He looked so… disheveled. She wanted to embrace him, for whatever reason, but did no such thing when she saw the mixture of confusion and disgust and pain. Was this directed at her? But what upset her most was how he could not even look back at her.

"Phennix…" Hiei grumbled, "cannot be found, and I refuse to look for her, so shut up Koenma about things you obviously don't understand." He coiled into himself and stormed out of the room, ignoring Yukina's reaching hand.

But Botan would not be dissuaded so easily, and she ran after him. "Hiei; I need to talk to you."

They were in the hallway now, alone, but Hiei did not comply.

"Now you listen, Hiei," Botan condescended, "you can't do this to Yukina!" His back facing her, the demon stopped, prepared to listen. "You can't toy with her this way!"

"What… are you talking about?" he asked cautiously.

"You know exactly what I'm talking about! You never told her the truth and now she's in love you… And no matter what you do, you're going to hurt her!" Botan rushed immediately behind him, clutching him by the shoulder and swinging him around to face her. "How dare you?"

He didn't even bother to attempt a reply.

"Hiei! You selfish bastard! Answer me. Do you think that it's going to get better by telling her you love her back?"

…How did she know?

"Do you realize what you're doing? You and her? That's… that's just sick! And if she knew why, she'd think the same thing. Are you lying just to protect yourself? You want her affection?"

"Not this way…"

"I certainly would hope not!" Botan screeched, still clutching Hiei's shoulders. Her face was barely an inch from his, and she could feel the shame resonating from him. "You… you… You selfish, ignorant…."

But then, Hiei did something Botan did not expect. One piece at a time, her scrunched up face lifted as she saw the wetness in the demon's eyes. He was fighting back, dare she think it, tears?


"Shut up."