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Disclaimer: For the last time, no.


Epilogue

Fireflies


"So he was a manifestation of Karasu's darkest emotions after the Tournament?" Koenma asked, sitting – in teenage form of course – in Genkai's temple with the others. Kurama nodded. Koenma sighed. "I feel foolish for not putting together your dreams and the rogue energy reading we were getting."

"But Karasu?" Genkai asked. "Would you really have made that connection?"

"No, I suppose not," Koenma relented. A cough was heard from Hiei's direction and the Prince sighed. "Though Hiei had been trying to tell me there was a connection the whole time." The fire demon nodded, though still looking out the window.

"But everything turned out in the end," Yusuke said.

"Kurama's fine and Karasu won't be causing any more trouble," Kuwabara added. However, the others turned to Kurama. Though a month had passed since Karasu had been killed – again – Kurama's eyes were still more haunted and far away than they had been before. The wounds weren't the only things that had left scars.

Are you really 'fine'? Hiei asked.

In time, Kurama replied. It's getting better. Easier. Botan squeezed his hand reassuringly and he returned the gesture.

"With time," he told everyone. They all nodded their understanding. Some wounds took more time to heal.


Kurama walked hand-in-hand with Botan as they strolled along the grounds together. They made their way slowly along the paths and through a garden the psychic had once tended to. Now it was overgrown with weeds. Kurama smiled slightly. Botan let go of his hand, immediately knowing what he would do.

Kurama made his way to the middle of the garden and knelt. He placed a hand to the ground and closed his eyes. Botan watched with a smile as the weeds began to shrink and the flowers began to blossom in bright colors. A few minutes of work caused the garden to completely transform. It felt good to the fox to do something like this after so long of being weakened. His energy had finally returned; it felt to Kurama as if he were finally whole again. And with Botan around, Kurama had realized he had filled another part of his heart that he hadn't known was empty. It was a wonderful feeling.

Botan walked up to him from behind and wrapped her arms around his waist and kissed him lightly on the cheek. He smiled and, with a little urging, brought a rose forward and presented it to Botan. She immediately took it, knowing there would be no thorns. That's just how Kurama was.

"It's beautiful," she told him. He turned to face her.

"Like you," he replied. She smiled. Slipping her hand back into his, Botan held her flower in her free hand. The two continued their walk, mostly in companionable silence. There was not much to be said that hadn't been said, and they were both fine with that.


The two arrived back at the temple, still hand-in-hand around sunset. If they couldn't tell their friends about their relationship, who could they tell? The others merely smiled at the sight of the couple that had been brought together during a crisis. Yusuke smiled slyly at Kurama when he saw the rose. The fox returned the grin causing them both to laugh. They were happy, and after all they had gone through they deserved it.

A meal was eaten on the grounds under the fading sunlight. The first stars of the night began to appear over the happy group. The moon began to rise as they continued to talk. With the additions of Keiko, Shizuru, and Yukina, the whole group, including Hiei, was there that night. And that night they all witnessed it.

Botan was watching the fireflies with delight. It was the first time in what seemed like ages that she could enjoy such simple pleasures. She watched as Keiko and Yukina tried catching the luminous insects. She turned to Kurama.

"Would you show me how?" she asked. He smiled at her carefree innocence.

"Of course." Botan proved to be a quick study, laughing when she caught one and it lit up in her hands. Kurama was overjoyed to see the ferry girl so happy. She was especially beautiful when she laughed, he thought, which suddenly gave him an idea. A mischievous grin graced his handsome features. Yusuke laughed.

"I know that look," he said as Kurama stood up.

"A fox at play," Hiei droned. Kurama flashed his friend a grin and walked over to Botan. She grinned when she saw him approach.

"Watch it light up!" she said happily. The light flashed a moment later and Botan laughed again. "Why do they light up?" she asked suddenly. Kurama grinned.

"Perhaps they don't like being caught," he said.

"What?" she asked, her features confused. Kurama stifled the urge to laugh at her innocence.

"Well, how would you like to be caught?" he asked mischievously. Botan, catching the meaning, squeaked and turned to run. Kurama gave her a small head start before chasing. It was a matter of moments before the fox caught her. He grabbed her around the middle and tickled her to the ground so he was on top of her.

"That's not fair!" she laughed.

"And neither is how wonderful you are," he replied. He leaned down and kissed her squarely on the lips. After a moment, he broke away and rolled over next to her on his back.

"That wasn't fair," she said breathlessly. Kurama laughed. In response, Botan rolled so she was on top of the fox. She poked him in the stomach and he playfully grunted as if in pain. She laughed and kissed him on the lips.

The fireflies all seemed to light up.


The End

Revised as of 1/8/06