Sweet and Sour
Chapter 4 – A Delicious Intrigue
Hiei had no idea why he had accepted Botan's offer to have dinner with her. Earlier that day, she had unexpectedly arrived at his doorstep dripping wet and only in a bath towel. Even more surprising was his discovery that she was housing in the apartment right beside him. When the small towel that barely wrapped around her already small figure fell on the ground exposing parts of her that he should not have saw, he did not allow her the time to react and possibly smack him in the face the way she had done to Shuuichi earlier that day. Instead, he had casually averted his eyes and proceeded back to walk inside his apartment, leaving the similarly stunned young lady to collect herself and put her towel back on.
Hiei had half-expected her to walk inside a few seconds after him, while the other half had absolutely no idea what to expect. She seemed so unpredictable. There was the possibility that she would actually go through with her initial, albeit completely absurd, idea of climbing from one balcony to the other, but there was also the possibility that she would turn around and yell at him for being a pervert or harp like the woman that she was. To his greater and most unexpected surprise, she chose to do nothing from the assortment of possibilities that he conjured up. The dainty girl wrapped her towel around her body once more, and, instead, chose to follow him inside his abode.
"I'm sorry," came her small voice, "but do you have an extra set of clothes that I could borrow for a few minutes?" She shyly cast her gaze in his direction and added, "Just until I can get back in my apartment."
Hiei stood there for a moment, contemplating her request, while his eyes unconsciously began to rove her supple figure. The dark haired youth was never one to let lust take over; he had always left that sort of thing for Shuuichi and the others. In his mind, he hadn't the time for matters such as women and sex. Hiei found himself too pre-occupied with school, work, and taking care of Yukina after the death of their parents. So he was perfectly content with just having his sister and his friends and having wild nights here and there. So it was a wonder when Hiei finally caught himself staring at Meiou's newest, foreign student. Mumbling an indiscernible apology, he quickly turned down the corridor and began rummaging in his closet for something she could throw on.
Once fully clothed, she immediately disappeared, and he had only to assume that the girl really did climb over to her balcony, leaving him astonished, perhaps impressed, at her bold, almost wild, disposition. He wasn't more than a few minutes back at the kitchen stirring his soup when a light tapping at his door interrupted him. Opening the door once more, he was not much surprised to see Botan standing there once more fully clothed in her own attire with his clothes folded neatly under one arm. What did come as a start, however, was when she steadfastly asked him to have dinner with her in her apartment, and even more shocking when the voice he heard, which surely sounded like his own, agreed.
Hiei found himself wandering around the living room and kitchen of her half-furnished apartment. Although her apartment was located right beside his own, hers happened to be the corner room, which he knew to be more spacious, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a living room. However, the boxes that contained her personal belongings, which were sitting in a messy array, in the main foyer, did not look like very much. There wasn't much in the living room except a black leather couch and an entertainment center with a big screen television that had no cable. With nothing much to look at, Hiei found his gaze on a solitary photo encased in a shiny, black frame sitting on the glass table in the corner beside the couch. Picking it up, he recognized it to be a professional photograph, and in it was a tall and thin, strikingly beautiful woman with a pale face and haunting amethyst eyes standing beside a blonde, blue-eyed, broad-shouldered man with a stoic expression. The man carried himself with pride and prestige, one arm encircling the waist of the woman beside him and a tender hand resting on the shoulder of a blue-haired girl no more than fourteen years of age. Her expression was jubilant, eyes shining with mischief, and a wide, triumphant grin on her face. She was dressed in a black and white uniform with a crest on the blazer that indicated she attended a prestigious school. There was no doubt that the teenager in the photo was the same girl who he seemed unable to get rid of the entire day, and her parents, Jackson and Airi Schwartz.
"Your parents haven't moved in yet?" he asked out of curiosity.
Botan stopped mincing the garlic and looked up at Hiei, who strolled into the kitchen. "Hm?"
"Your apartment is empty."
"Oh." Botan went back to mincing. "I live here by myself. My parents live in California."
Hiei was about to inquire about the need, then, for three bedrooms, but as if reading his mind, Botan continued. "This was the only apartment available when my parents had looked into places I could live and was relatively close to the school, transportation, and stores."
"And here I thought you were just another spoiled brat." He cast a glance at her to see her reaction but was taken aback at the soft giggling that escaped her lips.
"I learned the hard way that money and fame doesn't get you everything." She paused for a moment, an unbecoming frown knitting itself on her forehead. "Or what they do get you." With that response, she went back to making dinner, leaving Hiei to wonder what she meant. He did not press her on the matter, but it would only be a matter of time before he would soon learn the meaning of the words that she had spoken.
"What's your brother's problem with me anyway?" Kuwabara huffed in a rather annoyed tone as he and his companion waited for the elevator to reach the fifteenth floor of the apartment complex.
His girlfriend as of the summer, Yukina, who stood about two feet beneath him, offered a tinkling laugh as her answer. "Don't be like that. Hiei's just overprotective, but he doesn't have anything against you. It'll just take time for him to get used to the fact that you like me and, more importantly, that I like you."
Kuwabara blushed, not at all a large feat to attain for Yukina, who needed only to show her presence before him to elicit the rose tinge that now graced the sharp and defined features of his face. The doors to the elevator opened and both teenagers stepped out, the bigger of the two still wearing a comical expression on his face. They were narrowing down the corridor, and about to turn the corner when, out of the corner of his eye, Kuwabara caught sight of Hiei at the apartment door just beside his and Yukina's. Had it not been for his swift reflexes, Kuwabara might have expressed his disgruntled feelings toward Yukina's elder twin brother; however, he was able to hold in all of the absurdities that could have spewed from his mouth and pulled himself and Yukina back behind the corner. Curiosity was the main motivator in the almost intuitive motion of his hand clamping over the lips of the startled teenage girl beside him for it was an odd thing to find Hiei in the company of someone other than himself, Yukina, or his close circle of friends.
Suspiciously peering around the corner, Kuwabara found that Hiei's trademark aloof demeanor, to his jaw-dropping astonishment, was swayed by an individual standing on the other side of the door that he was currently unable to see. Under any normal circumstances, Hiei would have detected his twin and Kuwabara's presence a long time ago, but he had yet to notice them. The fact that a small chuckle managed to escape the iron gates that were Hiei's mouth was shocking in itself, but when the object of Hiei's "carelessness" was revealed to him, he almost screamed in what could have been described as maniacal glee. Rumors, gobs of it – and Shuuichi would be at the center of it, very unpleased.
Kuwabara had been sitting in front of Hiei with a silly grin slapped across his face for the past ten minutes, much to the latter's aggravation. Yukina, who watched her boyfriend delighting in every second of what he knew, wriggled uncomfortably in her seat beside them as Hiei transferred his gaze from the carrot-top to her.
"You're just provoking his anger," Yukina finally spoke up to a still silly-faced Kuwabara.
Sensing something amiss but having no desire in trying to pull it out of Kuwabara or intimidating his twin, Hiei grunted and headed to his room.
"Do whatever you guys want," he called back to them before entering his room. They heard a crash before Hiei popped his head back out of the doorframe. "And you guys better not do anything that would make me an uncle anytime soon." His glare was directed more at Kuwabara, and the latter gulped while his girlfriend just giggled nervously beside him.
As soon as the couple heard Hiei's bedroom door close, both engaged in a whispering frenzy. Although no one would ever suspect Yukina of ever being part of the gossip body, the reality was that there was none in all of Meiou Academy who was exempt from being intrigued by anything juicy that happened to any of its members, most especially if it involved Shuuichi Minamino and a female member of the student body. In this particular case, however, her twin somehow got thrown into the mix, and that, in itself, was juicy enough because as far as everyone knew, Hiei was just not the type to show interest in anything, much more women. So it wasn't too surprising to find Yukina just as hysterical as her giddy boyfriend.
"How long do you suppose…?"
"I don't even know how long I'll be able to keep my mouth shut," Kuwabara interjected implying how quickly the news might travel. "And knowing Arashiro, she'll be able to sniff this story out the second she sees any one of them."
For the first time since the two of them had seen Hiei with Botan, Yukina threw Kuwabara a worried glance. Should Koto Arashiro get a hold of the news, Hiei's name will circle around the school like wildfire, and she knew for a fact that Hiei would go on a rampage should he be a target of Koto's gossip columns.
Sensing this, Kuwabara's face blanked for a moment before twisting itself into the same worried expression. Having been friends for a very long time now, it was no mystery that Hiei was a like a walking time bomb. Set him off, and he'll explode. And this wasn't a good thing for their circle of friends either because when Hiei was angry, he hated everyone and would not speak for days. "I know."
"Should we try to cover it up?" Yukina suggested.
"How the hell do we try to cover up something that big? Arashiro isn't blind, Yukina," Kuwabara stated matter-of-factly and then tentatively, "Maybe we should see how things play out tomorrow and then intervene if things look like they'll get bad."
Both teenagers were silent as they averted their gazes towards the dark hallway that lead to Hiei's bedroom.
Inside the room, however, Hiei was laying on his bed, staring at the ceiling, contemplating the events that had occurred that day. This was not the way things would have unfolded had it been a similar occurrence. Despite the alternate course of action that had taken place in every aspect of his life that day, he was not in any way bothered by it. In fact, he found it slightly thrilling. And to think what Minamino would have to say to him should he ever find out what happened that day. This, of course, was not to say that Hiei had fallen for the blue-haired transfer student because as far as the world knew, Hiei was unintelligent in the area of love and affection, and if he, in fact, were falling for her, he had absolutely no idea that he was. He simply thought that things had come about in a very unordinary fashion, which he found to be exciting since life was starting to get boring playing out the way they were everyday in the same way.
Hiei was also not unaware of the talk that had been rallied back and forth between his younger sibling and Kuwabara. In fact, he heard everything they said, verbatim, through the thin partition that made up the walls, which separated his bedroom from everything outside. And frankly, it didn't matter to him; it wasn't like Arashiro was intimidating. Most probably, Arashiro may find him to be the one worth avoiding. And with that, his crimson irises wandered over to the screen of his cell phone where his new found friend's number was displayed.
Author Notes: Well, here's the fourth installation to Sweet and Sour. I hope you guys like it. I would appreciate any feedback, comments, constructive criticism, etc. Standard disclaimers apply. Enjoy.