Chapter 1: Return
Botan trooped up the steps of the temple with the heavy burden of carrying a heavy load of school material upon her back, and an equally cumbersome duffel bag filled with clothes to last her through the one week her father had excused her from school. Her father was re-marrying, and since Botan happened to be his only daughter, her soon-to-be stepmother, Hatsumi Miuchi, had requested her to be the maid of honor, a request that Botan did not have the heart to deny. Yet all the same, Botan still strongly believed that her father had planned it at the worst possible time and to the worst possible woman. She groaned inwardly. Not only would she have to treat Hatsumi with the respect that a child shows its mother, but she was also going to miss the chance to see and meet Black Dragon, an alternative-rock meets hip-hop band of four that she's worshipped over the past year or so since their debut. To say that she was upset with her father was an understatement, but she had to check herself. This was her father after all, and she could not deny him marriage for her selfish reasons because as far as she could see, he loved the woman, and if there was one thing that Botan could not deny anyone, it was the chance at love. And Botan decided there was no one more deserving of it than her father.
But not exactly quite loving her father for the time being due to those said selfish teenage reasons, she told her father she'd stay with Isato Hishizaki, her late mother's father, who took residence in a temple close to the inn at which her father and Hatsumi were staying.
Botan had not been to this area since she was a child.
It was the middle of summer when her father was suddenly asked to go to America to represent the company he was working for. Not able to take his daughter, he had asked Isato the big favor of taking care of his daughter until he returned. Being his granddaughter, Isato was not in the position to refuse and so warmly welcomed the little girl in. Botan had only been four at the time and was rather boyish in play and manners. She ran about the temple grounds and occasionally disturbed the serenity of the vicinity with her hollering. Old Isato was a very patient man and paid no heed to Botan's rambunctious demeanor. Her discipline during the evening and mealtimes also played a factor in the old man's tolerance.
Already gifted with the gift of wild imagination, it was magnified tenfold when she stayed at the temple that particular summer for there were no other children upon the temple grounds, or people, for that matter, other than her grandfather. Of course, Botan was more than aware that Grandpa Isato was no longer in any condition to run around after her so she opted to playing on her own during the day and reserved evenings for her grandfather's storytelling. Oh, but how the child's imagination soared when alone.
One particular evening just before she started heading back from the forest behind the temple, she thought she had seen what her grandfather had described to her the night prior as a kitsune, a fox demon, in one of his bed-time tales. The only difference, according to the young girl's innocent tongue, was the kitsune she had met was nothing like that in her grandfather's story. Quite contradictory to the 5000-year-old cunning and deadly demon, who showed no love to anything except priceless fortunes, hers was young, handsome, and utterly friendly. They had played together the entire afternoon, and the young fox demon had rescued her when she had become trapped upon one of the higher branches, which explained the scrape she had on her knee when she returned.
Isato Hishizaki merely chuckled at the story that his granddaughter had so cleverly woven, but he granted her amusement and indulged in her story as if it were true. And so for the rest of the summer, Isato no longer told the child his stories but listened to her own, sometimes becoming very fascinated at the way she told them for some of the events she spoke of almost convinced him that her stories were the truth.
At the end of that summer when her father came to pick her up, Botan had made a quick dash for the rear of the temple towards the forest, mumbling something about saying goodbye to her friend and giving him the charm she had made the night prior. Isato smiled fondly at her retreating figure, and in his amusement explained to her father how she had marveled him that summer with her tales of the young fox demon, whom she was giving the charm she made out of some temple wards. Such a funny thing because a demon cannot touch a temple ward. Except for that loophole, Isato said that her collection of stories would have made a grand novel.
Botan dropped the large duffel bag she held in her hand and let out a long sigh. Despite being young, agile, and physically wild, climbing her grandfather's temple steps still proved to be a challenge. She craned her neck around and immediately felt her stomach do Olympic somersaults. Botan was not the type to scare easy, but the one that always seemed to paralyze her was her fear of heights. Giving a short yelp, she immediately snatched her bag from where it sat on the ground and made a dash for the main temple where she knew her grandfather was probably in the midst of prayer, and there was no doubt in her mind that she would receive a reprimanding. This in her mind, Botan giggled childishly, and looked forward to spending the next week with her grandfather and the wonderful stories she had heard him tell so long ago.
… Or had they been her own?
Author Notes: Um, talk about an extremely short and B-O-R-I-N-G narration to kick off the fic, eh? Hehe. This isn't really my style (with the exception of Literary Juxtaposition, but that fic's just weird as it is anyway), but this, unfortunately, is just the way it came out. Anyway, I've actually had this baby written out for a while now (maybe a little before last summer), but I got lazy to upload it, and it got lost somewhere on my hard-drive. I completely forgot about it until tonight. So hmm… what type of story is this? My usual AU. x You can never escape my AU fics. –insert maniacal laughter– This is also light-hearted, believe it or not. Despite the fact that it's Youko Kurama and Botan falling in love in this fic, you won't be seeing the dark side of the demon-fox even though he is a little more sadistic and intimidating than our red-haired bishounen. :P For those of you who prefer his darker side, I can assure you that he will be significantly more aggressive here than in any of my other fics where he is simply just Shuuichi; he just won't be dark, per say. Aggressive, but not dark… if you get my drift. Oh goodness, I'm confusing myself.
And so the general storyline is something along the lines of two children (well, sort of) forming a bond over the course of summer and a difficult reunion (at least on Botan's part) as adolescents. Yeah, yeah… tres cheese-ay. What can I say? I suck at making up good plot lines. When I get an idea, even if it's bad, I'll stick with it… and then kill myself later. :P
Oh, and for those who are interested, this fic was actually inspired by a Sephiroth x Aerith artwork by Memori Sora that I saw a really long time ago. o.O Really weird cuz yeah… it was totally random too. Haha. Okay, I'll shut it now.
Any Kurama (Shuuichi) x Botan fans reading? Please visit and support this clique:
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Disclaimers: Yuu Yuu Hakusho and its characters belong to Yoshihiro Togashi, Shueisha, Fuji TV, Shounen Jump, etc. Don't sue. You are cool.