Just For Show

Chapter 1 – Arrival

By: Diana-Jae

Shuuichi shuffled across the hallway to go and get the door at his mother's request while she was busy preparing a heavy lunch for their guest. He casually opened the door, completely unprepared for the very loud and sudden burst of excitement that greeted and then forced themselves upon him.

Though he was fluent in the English language, the only word he could make out that the young woman, currently cutting off his oxygen supply, was his name, and everything else was a flurry of incoherent sounds. Shuuichi was not even able to cast a momentary glance at the face of his would-be happy murderer because as soon as he was able to regain control of his vision and senses, she was already abounding down the hallway towards the kitchen, her demeanor so full of energy and mirth that had Shuuichi not been open-minded he would have simply frowned, shook his head, and decided that he did not like her. Of course, since he was just not the type to do such a thing given the first impression, believing that everyone deserved a second chance, he concluded that he would certainly have to give this young lady the benefit of the doubt. He also had to consider his mother, for according to her, Botan Rousseau Sugiyama, was a very intelligent and gifted individual.

Yes, gifted in the area of energy.

Shuuichi stood by the open front door for another moment before reaching out a ginger hand to close it and then walking down the hallway to join his mother and the blue-haired physical essence of frenzy itself. He came to a halt as he came to the archway that separated the crème-colored carpeting of the hallway from the gray and white swirls of the marbled kitchen floor. Shiori Minamino was holding the giggling blue-haired girl at arm's length and smiling in approval at her inspection. Shuuichi was not too puzzled by his mother's reaction. In fact, he had expected it. Botan was the daughter of his mother's former classmate Jeannette Rousseau, a French woman born to a French father and a Japanese mother. After high school, she had gone to America because her father, a military lieutenant, had received a new station there. That was also where she met Botan's father, K Sugiyama, a lawyer who was schooling in America and had an internship with a prestigious firm there. Botan was raised on American soil, and her parents had given her the option of going to college anywhere she pleased after graduating from high school. Upon hearing that there was no limitation to her choice, she decided to return to her parents' native land where she had only been to once on another occasion when she had just turned fifteen years old.

Despite her parents' own enthusiasm for her decision, they could not relocate themselves as easily as sending their daughter to the islands of Japan. So Jeannette, who had kept in touch with Shiori, had asked her friend the favor of allowing her daughter to board with them for a year or so in order to permit her and K time to resign, find stable jobs, and a new home. Shiori, on the other side, welcomed the proposal with arms wide open, and thus, was now studying the French-Japanese girl's features, trying to find her mother in them.

What had slightly shocked him, however, upon seeing the moment was the shell bracelet that hung loosely around one pale, slender wrist. If he remembered correctly, he could recall his long-time friend having one just like it before he sent it to a sweetheart; who exactly, Shuuichi was never able to extract from him. There was also something else about it that seemed oddly familiar, but he couldn't quite place what it was right then. He mentally reminded himself to inquire about it later, but for the time being, he simply leaned against one side of the arch, watching his mother dote on the strange girl.

"Won't you set the table, Shuuichi?" Shiori asked as soon as her cobalt eyes landed upon her son's casual figure.

A smirk twisted itself onto his lips and he nodded, walking over to one of the cupboards and pulling out three porcelain bowls with an intricate oriental design and matching ivory chopsticks to place on the table. Botan invited herself to sit down on one of the velvet cushions on the floor that served as a chair and picked up a pair of the long utensils. Inquisitive eyes scrutinized them for a moment before her round, bright lavender eyes caught Shuuichi's emerald ones as he sat down as well. Normally, it would usually be the woman to be captivated by the glow in Shuuichi's eyes, but in this strange turn of events, Shuuichi found himself drowning in a very odd but breathtaking shade of light purple and pink. After momentarily being put into the shoes of his fan-club, he shook his head, mentally wondering how those girls could possibly like the feeling for there was something very controlling in them.

"Dad had a set of these," she paused for a moment to contemplate the word she wanted to use and settled with pointing to the chopsticks as she continued, "thingys, but we never used them. Mom kept insisting on using spoons and forks."

The red-haired youth was not entirely prepared for Botan's sudden shift into the Japanese language nor was he prepared for her fluency and accent in it. Still slightly taken aback, he ventured, "Would you like me to go get you a fork and a spoon instead?"

Botan shook her head, and the soft tendrils of her unbound hair bounced lightly up and down on her bared shoulders and down her back. "No, thank you. I thought I'd just say what was on my mind. Besides, this would be the perfect opportunity for me to learn." She paused to look at him, a crease simultaneously forming on her light forehead.

"What?"

"I'm sorry. I just realized that I haven't introduced myself to you." She beamed at him and held out her right hand. "My name's Botan Rousseau Sugiyama. It's a pleasure to meet you."

For a very short instant, Shuuichi did not quite know what to do with the offered hand. He was so much more used to the formal and informal bows that came with a greeting, but for those not quick enough to catch it, they would have never guessed that he had to think about what he was supposed to do with the hand that was in front of him. Shuuichi gingerly took it in his and shook it. "Shuuichi Minamino, and likewise."

Shiori walked towards the table with a tray full of hot and steaming food. Botan's eyes looked up at the older woman and smiled as she complimented her on the delicious smell of the food. Then she immediately went back to fiddling with the ivory chopsticks in her hands. At that moment, the doorbell rang again, and Shuuichi excused himself to go and get it.

"I'm sorry, dear," Shiori started as she sat down opposite from Botan. "My son always has guests."

A soft giggle escaped her lips and she shook her head. "It's okay. My friends used to come over to the house all the time too."

"Won't you be missing your friends with your decision to come and school here?"

"My education's very important to me," Botan beamed, "and my friends understand that." Then she reached in her back pocket and pulled out her cell-phone. "Besides, with today's technology, I can always call or e-mail them anyway."

"You answer seems a little mature for your age," came Shiori's observation as she began to set the food on the table.

Botan was about to reply when Shuuichi poked his head into the dining room and asked his mother if he could be excused for a few minutes to find something for a certain someone named Keiko.

"Yukimura is here?"

"She just needs to pick up a book she left here last night."

Shiori motioned to the empty side of the table. "Why don't you just invite her to stay for lunch? We have more than enough food here, and I'm sure you could introduce her to Botan."

Shuuichi cast a fleeting glance at Botan, who seemed not to hear them as she played with the chopsticks, trying to teach her fingers to hold them correctly. He arched his brow and watched with both an amused expression and one that conveyed that he thought she was strange. Looking back down the hall, he called to Keiko, and seconds later, a slim, brunette young woman entered the dining room.

"Good afternoon, Mrs. Minamino." She bowed to show her respect and then sat down in one of the empty seats while Shuuichi went to get an extra bowl and chopsticks.

"Why don't you have a seat Keiko?"

Upon seeing that Botan's attention was finally diverted from her previous task, Shuuichi casually introduced Botan to Keiko.

"And this," he motioned to the brunette, "is my girlfriend, Keiko."

"Hi," Botan all but bubbled.

Keiko looked at the foreigner with awe for she seemed something different in manner and speech and with the typical suspicion of every girlfriend towards an unrelated girl living in the same house as her boyfriend – especially if the aforementioned boyfriend was voted the district's top male. "I don't mean to sound rude, but do you mind if I ask why you've decided to board here instead of renting out an apartment?"

The young woman sitting opposite her looked stunned for a mere second before it was replaced with an almost dim-witted expression of cheer as a soft giggle escaped her glossed pink lips. "It's okay. I actually asked my mom the same thing when she told me that she'd like me to stay here. I was the one that decided to go to school here, so I was expecting to be out on my own, but my parents wanted me to adjust first before letting me loose." She laughed nervously. "My parents are a little too protective, I think. I agreed to this plan because they are, after all, paying for my education, and Mrs. Minamino had already prepared the room." She glanced over at Shuuichi who just nodded before shifting her gaze back to the brunette, and with glinting mischief most evident in her bright eyes, she managed to half-jokingly assure the other girl that she had no interest in Shuuichi and that her primary reason for being there at all was for her education.

Keiko, at having been found out, blushed and looked towards the kitchen where Shuuichi's mother was gathering the final bits for their dinner and then motioned for his son to come over and help her. Shuuichi momentarily excused himself and went to the kitchen to help his mother. Botan was about to get up herself and offer a helping hand when a question out of Keiko's mouth halted her.

"I'll be attending the International University," Botan replied. "I'm actually not very confident about my Japanese so I thought it was best that I go to an international school." Botan did not miss the slight furrow of Keiko's brow at the mention of her attendance at Tokyo International, but it wouldn't be until her first day that she would meet the reason why.

-

Author Notes: Yes, it is definitely another one of Diana-Jae's crazy concoctions. I don't know how the hell I came up with this one, but yeah. Here it is. More AU fluff... and hopefully humor. God, there better be humor. Hee-hee.

Botan's being half American isn't random. There's actually a reason behind it, but you won't know it until later on when the story unravels more. Until then, you can just sit back... and wait half a century for an update. Just kidding. I really should destroy that habit though. I feel really bad when I can't update fast enough.

Oh, and I apologize if this chapter is lacking anywhere. If you've got suggestions or comments (good or bad), I'd appreciate it. Tell me what you guys like and what you don't like. It might help me update faster. HINT-HINT! Hehe.

Visit the Kurama x Botan fansite/clique at:

http : pyreflies . nu / tomorrow

Disclaimers: Yuu Yuu Hakusho and its characters belong to Yoshihiro Togashi, Shounen Jump, Fuji TV, Studio Pierrot, and all them snazzy people. So don't sue. You are cool.