Fear of Fire

Disclaimer - Don't own YYH.

Chapter 1 - The Test

Botan yawned and opened her eyes. She sighed.

"Another day of work at Reikai." She looked at the clock. 5:05 AM. She had some time to herself anyway. She would take a shower and then go to work.

Botan walked down the hallway, tying her damp hair up in a ponytail. She stopped when she saw Kurama and Koenma walking towards her. She smiled and gave them a slight bow.

"Good morning!" She looked at Kurama. "What's up? Anything wrong?"

"Well... no." Kurama looked at Koenma. "Today is Hiei's birthday and, as a member of the team, he has to have a test." Koenma nodded then smiled.

"Come with us to my office, Botan." She nodded and followed them.

Hiei's birthday? Man, how did Kurama know that? How old is he turning, I wonder... But wait... a test? Oh yes! Now I remember! Koenma-sama trained every ferry girl for the demonic tests in case a demon ever worked here. I wonder why he wants me to follow him, though. I wasn't trained for these new ones.

Her thoughts were interrupted when they arrived at the office. Koenma began digging through drawers and papers until he found the one he was looking for then attached it to a clipboard.

"Here." She took it and looked at it. "Since you are the only authorized ferry girl who may treat a demon for the test that hasn't had a traumatic experience with him, you give him the test." Botan stared at him before she fell backwards into Kurama, who caught her around the waist.

She groaned and sat up, putting a hand to her forehead. She opened her eyes to see Kurama smile at her.

"What happened?" She asked, frowning. And so, he answered.

"... Then you fainted." She winced and fell back on the pillows, closing her eyes. "Uhm... Botan?" She groaned.

"I can't believe this. Kurama, Hiei hates me. He can't stand being within five feet of me, much less me giving him that test." Kurama blinked.

"Where did you get that idea?" She sniffled, tears brimming in her beautiful amethyst eyes. Kurama swallowed. He was in love with her and it seemed as though, to him, that she didn't love him back.

"He told me. I-I didn't believe him at first but..." She bit her lip. "I can't do this test, Kurama. I just can't." He frowned, looking away from her. "I will admit that I wasn't close to him but it hurt to hear him say that." She sighed. "Anyway... I'm just not ready to die. When everything in my life starts going wrong, then I'll lock myself in a room with him." He couldn't believe that Hiei would sink so low as to tell her to get away from him in such a manner. At any rate, Botan was the only one who could give the test to Hiei and not be hurt in some way. He knew the koorime hated ferry girls, even Botan, but he saw the bubbly girl enough to be used to her.

"Listen, I'm sure Hiei was in... a really bad mood when he told you that and I'm sorry. But refusing to do this test is not the way to make amends for whatever happened, nor the way to get out of it. I know you well enough to know that you don't back down. Don't let him win." Kurama stood up. "I know Hiei can be very moody and often scary but give him a chance. Maybe he'll just be in a bad mood today. You should get going before Koenma gets ready to give you the trained monkey stamping job." She nodded and got off the bed, walking out of the room in front of Kurama.

Lord knows, I hope he isn't still angry at me from that stupid fight...

Hiei was in the middle of his all-day training when he stopped and looked up. Botan was hovering above him on her oar. He scowled and decided to ignore her until she told him what she was there for. And so, he continued to train. Botan watched for a few moments before going a little lower so that they were in speaking distance.

"Uhm... Hiei? I-I have to take you to Reikai." He stopped and looked up at her once again, narrowing his crimson orbs.

"Why?" She swallowed.

"Well... today is your birthday and-"

"That damned kitsune!" He growled, baring his fangs.

"You need this test to make sure you're healthy, Hiei!" She said in a rush, hoping it would calm him down.

"I'm fine, baka onna. Can you not see that I am healthy?"

"I can but Koenma-sama wants you to take it." He scowled and put his katana away, grabbed his cloak, and stood there glaring up at her. She came down and he got on behind her. She flew up as fast as she could, hoping not to lose her passenger. He hung onto the oar, staring down at the fading Ningenkai. Then they passed the clouds, flying at that level for a while until she entered Reikai. They flew over the river Styx. The wind blew harshly in their ears as she sped up. An unexpected gust nearly blew them over and Hiei was forced to hang onto her and the oar, lest both of them fall off. His arm went around her waist and she blushed, not knowing why it had any affect at all on her. But she shook it off and slowed down so that they didn't get blown off. They got to the Reikai palace and she touched down, letting Hiei get off first. Then she got off and made the oar disappear.

"Let's hurry this along." She nodded and led him inside, going into the room to where she would be giving it to him. She opened the door and walked in. He closed it behind them. "I don't want to be here all day."

"Neither do I, Hiei. Just wait a minute. Go and sit on the table." He rolled his eyes and did as she said. She went into another door to see Koenma waiting for her. "Koenma-sama?"

"I'm leaving in a minute. I merely wanted to hand you this instead of leaving it for you. We all know that Kurama gets proper nourishment and enrichment from his human mother's meals but we have no idea as to the eating habits of Hiei. So I want you to make sure that he eats things that aren't of horrible consequences to him. For a week." She stared at him. "Watch him for a week."

"WHAT? You mean this isn't enough?" He shook his head and tried to calm her down.

"Don't take this the wrong way but Kurama told us Hiei has stopped eating with him and his family. Probably because he got sick of the company."

"And don't you think that he'll get sick of my company?"

"I do but we don't have any other choice. Just have him stay at your apartment for the week and watch his sleeping hours, training hours, and eating habits. It's all I ask of you other than this test. Botan, I can't have Kurama do it because it isn't his job." She sighed.

"I'd better get vacation time for this. I'm gonna need to go to a solitary place to straighten out my sanity when this is over." Koenma nodded and gave her a pat on the back.

"I'll give you two weeks vacation time. Extra." He added.

"Good." He left and she picked up the clipboard. She looked down at her blue kimono, hoping it wouldn't be stained with her blood before this was test was over, much less after today with the watching. "Hiei?" She went back out and bit her lip. He looked angry, annoyed, irate, and just plain pissed off.

"I heard every word, onna. You don't need to tell me." She sighed.

"I don't want it either, believe me. You heard me fighting it. I know you'll get annoyed with me and frustrated... but.."

"Just get this over-with so that I can train." She nodded and took the little suction cup things and knew what it meant.

"You need to take your shirt off." He frowned and did as she said. She swallowed the lump in her throat and put them where she knew they would go. "This will tell us if anything is wrong inside... and then we have to do the rest."

The tests proved that everything was fine and that Hiei was pretty much okay. He glared at her as if to say 'I told you so.' She just sighed. She was actually surprised that he didn't even threaten to murder her. She looked at her watch.

"Since it's past noon, I guess I'll take you to lunch." They walked down the halls towards Koenma's office to give him the papers then leave. Once done, they went outside and she summoned her oar. She got on and Hiei followed suit. Then, just as he had before, he held onto the oar instead of her, for which she was thankful. She went slower now, as if dreading what being with him would be like. And, indeed, she was dreading it. They were still going fast but not as fast as before. Then she began the descent, going through the clouds and watching Ningenkai come into view.

"You could go faster, onna."

"Calm down, Hiei. I don't want to fall off or lose you." He scowled. He was already regretting telling Kurama about his birthday. Now, he would definitely regret it. He had to be around this annoying, intolerable, inferior, bubbly, loud-mouthed ferry girl all week long. "Where should we go?"

"Hn." She didn't bother to acknowledge that he made a sound. She landed in the woods, making certain that no one would see them just appear out of no where after they got off. Then they walked out of the woods together, Botan slightly ahead of him. She was trying to think of a nice little quiet place where they wouldn't be bothered. Or, rather, one where no one would see them. She smiled and decided that the store was their best bet. She would just need to cook.

"We're going to the store and then I'll cook lunch, okay?"

"Hn." She clenched her teeth and tried not to make a comment. Hopefully, neither of them would drive the other mad. She was hoping to escape with her sanity and so was he. It was clear that they didn't like each other at all. It was like they were mortal enemies at war. Botan grabbed a cart and went inside, Hiei following miserably.

"Well... do you know what you like? Stay with me so that I don't get something you won't eat." He nodded and looked around the store. People stared but he disregarded them. He let his eyes land on the ferry girl he had to spend time with. What luck.

Hn. It isn't as if I can't get away from her for a while by... no. I don't want to visit that sneaky little kitsune. I'd better just cooperate... at least to my standards.

He stopped thinking and looked at the item Botan put in the cart. It was a box... with a picture on the front...

"What is that?" Botan turned her head and raised a brow.

"Hm?" She looked at the box. "Oh, that's just popcorn. I figure Koenma-sama won't kill me if we have a few snacks. Now, you like ice cream, don't you? Sweet snow? I like strawberry so we'll get my kind and yours." He stared at her with that emotionless look he gets all the time.

Strawberry? Isn't that the kind that Kurama got me?

"Do you like these?" He nodded to the package of hambergers and to the other meats that she asked and put in. "And we need vegetables. Corn sound fine? And green beans? I don't think you like spinach..." She trailed off while putting cans in the cart. Hiei wasn't even listening. He tuned her out, all the while thinking about what the rest of the week would be like.

I can't stand this. What if she keeps blabbering like this for the rest of the week? I may as well succumb to insanity now. And is that all this irritating onna knows how to do? For sanity's sake!

They turned the corner and Hiei perked right up. Ice cream.

"Sweet snow..." He said softly. Botan rolled her eyes and stopped the cart.

"Strawberry?" She took it out and Hiei recognized it as his favorite. He gave her a nod. She took out another carton and set them both down in the cart. Then they moved on.

"Botan!" She turned around to see Kurama. He smiled at her and ran up to them. He gave a cheerful grin to Hiei, who scoffed and crossed his arms. "What are you two doing here?" Hiei rolled his eyes and went to find an isle to hide in. He knew about Kurama's odd attraction to the ferry woman. As if it wasn't obvious.

"Well, I need to watch Hiei's eating habits for a week so he'll be staying at my place." She frowned. Hiei stopped in the next isle so he could listen in.

"Well, he isn't that bad. Just keep the ice cream coming and he won't kill you." She laughed.

"Well, we're only getting a half-gallon every three days so it better last." She looked up at him curiously. "Why are you here? An errand from your mother?"

"Yeah, we were out of milk." She snapped her fingers.

"I knew I forgot something." She was about to turn the cart around when Kurama placed the milk he had in his hands in it. "Hm?"

"Well, I can always go back and get more." She looked at it and noticed it was the right kind. "I hope you fare well in this mission."

"I hope you have the perfect plant concoction for curing insanity because I think we both may need it." He laughed and put his hand on her shoulder.

"Don't worry about it. You two should be well off. I mean, you both know you can tolerate each other for more than five minutes so you should be fine."

"Thanks." She smiled. "Anyway, we'd better continue shopping before he gets impatient to train."

"You know him well, I see."

"What is there to know?" She grinned. "I guess I'll see you around." He nodded and watched her walk away. "Hiei!" The koorime used his famous speed to catch up and miserably tag along.

Why didn't the dolt tell her yet? I can tell they aren't lovers... Why hasn't he just told her? I mean, clearly, he needs her. What a foolish emotion. Love, as they call it. Why waste any thought on it?

Clearly, getting Hiei to carry bags wasn't hard... it was getting him to help put them away that was the chore.

"Come on! The faster this goes, the faster we can eat, and the faster you can train!" This stopped the argument and he cooperated. Only for the sake of training and getting better. In his mind, being better than Yuusuke was his goal. It was the only thing holding his attention, the only thing he had to look to. It was different than his relationship with Yukina, because, frankly, that was going nowhere. He wouldn't tell her that he was her brother. All this time, he was striving to make her happy by means of shadowing himself. The only thing holding him here was Yukina. He wanted to protect her but stay in the shadows at the same time. "Hiei? Are you all right?" He looked up to see Botan staring at him with a worried look.

"I'm fine, onna." He snapped. "Just cook something so that I-"

"So that you can train. I know." She frowned and shook her head.

Why do I bother worrying about him? I swear, if he doesn't have a one-track mind, I don't know who does.

She bit her lip. Worrying about Hiei was getting her nowhere. It only made her angry and down-right annoyed at his coldness. Hiei could sense the anger coming from her so he took that as his cue to leave the room.

Why is she so angry all of a sudden? It's not like I did anything.

What he didn't realize, was that he did do something. He hurt her feelings. It may sound dumb, but it wasn't. She was hurt that he didn't consider them friends after all that had happened. It wasn't fair that all the emotions everyone else had weren't in him. He'd somehow rid himself of his emotions and locked his true self away. Or maybe, this was how he really was. She wished it wasn't. She was assigned as Yuusuke's assistant. As much as she hated to admit it, she wanted to be friends with Hiei. They had to be around each other so they might as well call a truce.

I wonder what he'll say...

In the next chapter, we'll see how our favorite little fire demon will tolerate Botan and how she will tolerate him. Please review!