AN: This is for my sweet, loveable, cute, adorable, kick-ass brudder James! I know I said I was gonna' dedicate the next chapter of DL to you, but it seems unfair that you only get a chap while Vix and Shizu get whole stories, don't you think? So, this story is for you!

It's amazing how he can change my whole frame of mind around with only one word. One word; so simple.

Am I that easy?

Or is he that good?

I watch entranced as the corner of his smooth, thin lips curl upward in a soft smile and I subconsciously lick my own. He looks down at the ground and shakes his head slowly, a soft chuckle escaping his lips.

--Why are you laughing? Are you laughing at me, at the yearning ablaze in my eyes? At the pitifully masked face I wear whenever I see you? Or do you find it amusing that my nonchalant facade is slipping, my resolve breaking off in tiny wisps with every breeze?--

My face contorts into one of pensiveness, my jaw set firmly and I narrow my eyes at him.

Gingerly, he touches my arm and for a moment, I forget how to breathe. He rubs it softly now, and slowly, my eyes trail upward to meet his amazingly green ones. His hand drops back to his side and he shifts his head to an angle as he looks at me oddly.

"What are you thinking of, Botan?" he asks me curiously. I shake my head slowly. I avert my gaze away from his in a bashful manner as I feel the blush creep up my chest to my face ever so slowly.

--I can't tell him, can I? No, I can't tell him he is the centerpiece of my thoughts, my main focus morning until night, day in and day out. I can't. I won't. I refuse.--

"Oh, come now," he chuckles good-naturedly. "What harm could it bring?"

My eyes shift back to him to see his face is playful, his majestically green eyes setting off his impish grin rather nicely.

"I don't know yet. That's why I can't tell you..." I say to him. And honestly, there is nothing closer to the truth. I really don't know what type of reaction he might have to it, and I'd rather save myself the embarrassment of a worst-case-scenario for another day.

His face softens dearly and I can see the curiosity working him over as he tries to piece together my statement.

"Is it so important...?" he asks me, reaching out to touch the underside of my chin to his smooth fingertips.

"Yes, it is. I think so, anyway..." I respond. I nearly blanch at the sound of my voice; so meek, so ghostly. But then again, he always manages to bring out the oddest sides in me.

"As a dear friend of yours, I would like to think that what is important to you is important to me also," he says. His voice is so warm that for a split second, I consider just blurting the words out to him. But then I think again...

As a dear friend... This is why I can't tell him. He is just a friend. I cannot risk getting my heart broken because of my own one-sided whimsical fantasies. At this revelation, I want to cry. I want to wail until my eyeballs become soggy and slide from their sockets. But I laugh instead. I giggle softly, trying to give the impression that this matter bares no weight on me, that it is just a trivial fallacy. But he is no moron.

"Botan," he says firmly, yet earnestly. "Please do not take me for a fool."

-- Oh no, I could never think that of you. Never, my love...-- my heart calls out to him. I, on the other hand, just smile, shaking my head slowly.

"I could never think that of you... chijin," I say to him, a false laugh accompanying my last word.

"Then why do you think I cannot see the turmoil inside of you, the urgency brewing inside of those misty eyes, hm?" he asks me kindly, sincerely. And I watch him closely. I watch the raw emotions boil over in his own eyes. I watch his beautiful lips as they part and his words pass so silkily through them.

"Hanashi touhou goshujin kakushigoto..."

A shaken sigh leaves my lungs as my eyelids fall closed. I jump at the feel of hands on the small of my back. He pulls me closer to him, gathering me to his chest and I lie my head his shoulder.

"Just tell me... please. It hurts me to know you would want to keep anything from me..." he whispers. I can feel his breath warm my scalp as it mingles with my hair.

--Dare I say it? Dare I tell him my secret?--

"Tell me..." he urges. His hand is unusually heated as it slides up my bare arm and I shiver from the contact.

--Dare I?--

"Kurama..." I breathe. Then I swallow hard, slaking my throat from the coarse desert it has suddenly turned into. My eyes open slowly and I hesitantly pull my face from his shoulder. I look up at him to see he is looking down intently, a nearly eager gleam in his eyes. I cannot keep it from him any longer.

"...I love you."

His eyebrows lift in surprise as his chest locks up from breathing and I feel my stomach fall to my feet. I shake my head slowly. I was a fool. I should have told him something else. I ready myself to pull away, but I receive quite the shock when he pulls me back to his chest, tighter than before. He buries his nose in my head and I can feel his chest swell as he inhales deeply. Then he exhales, my name escaping as a sigh through his lips.

"Yes?" I whisper, clasping onto the back of his shirt tightly. Although I doubt Kurama would let me fall, I need some sort of leverage in case he tells me he loves me in return and I faint.

"Botan, I--"

AN: And so it begins. Now, there's a reason why this chapter is so short and so mushy. I won't tell you why yet, you'll discover that in the second chapter. I have to write it first, though. I wrote this on the road to Louisiana and totally forgot all about it. Thus, no follow-ups. But I tell you, this story will be good...

Okay, I don't know Japanese, so it's all made up. No, I'm just playing. It might not be accurate, though cuz I got the words from an online dictionary. So don't badger me about it if you DO know Japanese. Anyway...

chijin friend

hanashi touhou goshujin kakushigoto tell me your secret

I love you guys... so don't forget to review!!