by Dreaming of Everything
A/N: This is a definite Hiei and Botan fic, no exceptions. No changes for any reason at all. All other pairings are up in the air, though I'm partial to Yusuke/Keiko.
Why did I write this? I mean, I'm not an excellent writer; what makes me think that I can do a better job than all the (highly) superior writers who have done Hiei and Botan fics before me? Well, I was reading and I realized that the number of fics where Botan falls for Hiei first vastly outnumber the opposite ones. Also, I wasn't finding any new fics and nobody was updating. So I wrote something. Oh, hell, let's just put it down to undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder. And the fact that I never pass up a chance to mess with characters.
This will be a low PG-13 on the ratings scale, or its equivalent; rating is for use of the word 'sex,' occasional language and potential kissing scenarios. The rating is mostly for safety's sake. Also, it centers around demons mating. No lemons will be used in the fic. Or even lemonade.
The bold print indicates mental conversations. The italics are quotes from various non-existent sources that have information about my (somewhat altered) Japanese mythology. I've changed it slightly to close up plot holes. Feel free to flame me for that reason. Please don't for any other reasons; it wreaks havoc on my self-esteem, which has troubles as it is.
OOCness on Hiei's part is because he's got this huge overdose of demon sex hormones. It messes with him.
Disclaimer: Yu Yu Hakusho doesn't belong to me. Consider it disclaimed. The plot is mine. The books Demonogy, Demon, On the Habits of Demons, Demonic Sociology, The Demon Debates, Utterly Lovely, Entirely in Love and the poem 'Moonlight' a) don't exist and b) are mine, seeing as I made them up, ditto their authors.
"The marking habits of demons are both laden with symbolism and entirely instinctual. For the bond between two demons to be formed, one must bite the other at the junction of the shoulders and neck. The bond is irremovable, and will be sensed by all other demons; the connection is strengthened if the act is replicated by the other, or if blood is taken. The act is almost always accompanied by a completed mating..."
--Demonology by (author unknown)
"Death is the only way to break a mark; to separate themselves, a pair must fight till one falls."
--Demon by Jethra
It was raining. The sky glimmered over-head, steely with indirect light from a break in the clouds far off on the horizon; each drop of water shimmered with refracted light.
Botan hovered above a busy city, though she wasn't watching it. Instead, she was looking out above it, at the falling rain, watching the patterns it formed as it fell, blown by the wind and pulled by gravity. Rain had always fascinated her. Her pink kimono was dark with water, and strands of her hair were plastered to her face; she had been there a while, and was unlikely to leave soon.
The normally bouncy girl looked remarkably solemn, face serious and almost sorrowful. Botan was... lonely. She had friends, but no one... loved her. She knew why. She wasn't dead in the common sense of the word, but neither was she alive, and everyone else like her were, well, ferry girls. People had asked if her and Koenma were "romantically involved," but she viewed Koenma as an older brother. That would be just wrong.
And so Botan was lonely. Alone. It was better now she knew Yusuke, Kuwabara and Kurama, and Shizuru, Yukina and Keiko, but they were friends. Nothing more.
As for Hiei? Well, Hiei scared her. It wasn't just the death threats, and his past (she of all people should know that the past is dead and done with) but how little he cared. The only person he could be considered friends with, Kurama, he would never refer to as a friend. The only other person he cared for, Yukina, he refused to tell who he was, accidentally hurting her more.
So something in her had made her come up to watch the rain. Maybe it matched her mood. She always liked it when it rained, and generally it brightened her up, but today it made her thoughtful, and thoughtfully sad. Botan absent-mindedly brushed a wet strand of hair out of her eyes, normally pink or purple, but today a melancholy purple-washed blue.
Both mentally and physically shaking herself, she turned her attention away from the beautifully sorrowful rain and back to what she needed to do. Today was her day off, and she had nothing to do until school let out for Keiko. She skillfully piloted her oar a ways away from the city, to a more secluded area, where she landed. Looking at the tall maples that surrounded her, leafed out now that it was later on in the spring, she started walking down the road that led to the city. She had a few hours before she needed to be back, and a walk sounded nice. A walk in the rain.
Hiei was nearly staring as ferry onna walked away from his tree, down the road that led to town. What on earth was wrong with her? She never looked that serious. Normally she was smiling at least, or laughing. It was the most annoying thing about her, actually. But now? She looked almost painfully sad, as if she was already crying, and only the rain was hiding it.
The fire demon shook himself. He couldn't care less about whatever the idiot was feeling. He had only imagined that much sorrow on her face; it was probably just annoyance at the rain. Yeah, that was it. She was always eternally happy, and a sorrow as big as the one he saw on her would never have remained hidden this long.
Still though, she looked so sad...
No. It had nothing to do with him. Nothing at all...
"The severity of instinctual urges caused by the demon mating season are greatly exaggerated; in reality, the demon in question is likely to merely have an increase in what is often termed "interesting dreams" and be more open to advances by others. However, in the case that the demon has an interest, no matter how slight, in another person, the demonic instinct will be highly unmanageable. The interesting factor in this is that the demon may have no knowledge of the interest until the instinct begins to affect him..."
--On the Habits of Demons by Professor Jonothon Ringgold.
Hiei was having trouble sleeping. Something kept on niggling at him... Maybe the light from the moon was keeping him up? Wait... Full moon. Late spring... Mating season.
Swearing slightly under his breath, the demon climbed out of his tree; at the base of it he was met by Kurama.
"You remembered? I thought I'd remind you that tonight's the first night of mating season."
"I couldn't sleep."
"No? So, there's someone you're interested in? Who?"
"There's no one."
Kurama sighed. "There has to be someone. It's only the first night, and already you're restless."
Hiei growled slightly.
"You'll know better than anyone who it is."
"There's no one."
"Did somebody catch your eye, recently?"
"Someone who was nice to Yukina?"
"You can't keep on denying it. You know that only makes it worse. And if you want to impress this girl, a losing control and mating her with or without her consent is unlikely to work."
"If you insist."
As Kurama walked away, Hiei climbed back up his tree. It was going to be along night. A long, long, night. One with nine more nights just like it coming, only worse.
"Demons as a species tend to be emotionally unavailable, cut off from their feelings. Emotions are viewed as a weakness, meaning that child-raising would be done for as short a time as possible by one parent, even though most demons admit that it's superior to care for the child for a long period of time with both parents. Long-term emotional bonds would be considered dangerous. Marking would occur only rarely, but for the phenomena of a unique branch of demon instinct. This instinct makes it a) very difficult to mate without marking and b) makes it very difficult for the demon to resist mating and marking with someone but only when the instinct has found someone it considers a good mate, probably to prevent bad pairings The demon himself rarely has any choice in the matter, though often realizes the attraction. In some cases, however, a person the demon would never approach is chosen by the instinct and suddenly becomes nearly irresistible..."
--Demonic Sociology by Theodore Levens and Louisa Terents
"There is a lot of debate over demonic mating rituals. On one side is the belief that the instinct alone picks the potential mate, while on the other side is the idea that the instinct picks up on subconscious preferences of the demon. Demons themselves stay out of the debate, figuring that it's useless; either way, the job gets done."
-The Demon Debates by Beth Livingry
Hiei was angry. Very, very angry. For his entire, and long, life, he had never had a mating season that made any difference in his life other than a few "interesting dreams." Nothing he had experienced so far had prepared him for this. The intensity he was feeling... What made it worse was that he didn't even know who the urges were directed towards, just that they were there. It was the early morning of the second day; he hadn't gotten any sleep the night before, instead training himself, trying to use up all this restless energy. It hadn't worked that well; he no longer had any energy, just a lot of restlessness and an urge to mate with someone.
Quite honestly, Hiei didn't want to find out who he wanted to mate with. Ignorance was the key in this situation. He had no need for a mate, no one he was interested in, definitely no need for any emotional connections to hold him down.
"...and what of the miracle that is love?"
--Moonlight (author unknown)
"Curiously enough, during the mating season, while a demon's first instinct is fairly typical, i.e. sex, and a lot of it, as quickly as possible, it is also accompanied by a desire to be kind and helpful to the potential mate. This is probably linked to the marking ritual which in turn is linked to mating; essentially raping a potential mate and then finding yourself forever linked to them would not work well. Consensual sex would prevent tensions caused by the other method..."
----Demonic Sociology by Theodore Levens and Louisa Terents
Botan was much cheerier this morning than she had been the day before. She had had fun with Keiko, had a good nights' sleep in her apartment, cooked herself a nice breakfast and then finished painting the last wall. Now it was noon, and Kurama was coming over to help with her patio garden and furniture moving. She had a nice lunch ready for him (after all, he was going to be helping her!) and everything. All in all, she was in an excellent mood.
...Except for still feeling slightly lonely, underneath all her other emotions. She buried it, though, knowing that there was no other option. No use crying over spilt milk...
Botan's doorbell rang, and she hurried over to it. "Hi Kurama! Thanks for offering to put in a patio garden for me. All the supplies you asked for are out on the deck, but I thought you'd like lunch first."
"Why, thank you, lunch sounds great." They both sat down and had a good, if simple, lunch. Botan wasn't an accomplished cook, but she could manage, if she concentrated enough. It was when she didn't concentrate that there was problems.
After lunch Kurama went out onto the deck, where he started filling several large pots with plants, mostly ornamental foliage plants, with a few flowering plants and the occasional makai plant with instructions to protect the house and Botan. He finished fairly quickly, leaving Botan with a balcony lush with foliage and dotted with a few bright blooms. The entire set was crowned with a pot filled with water and a lotus just opening its first bud, revealing the color as a soft cream. It was, in a word, gorgeous.
"Wow! This is gorgeous!" exclaimed Botan once Kurama had finished. An hour and a half of moving furniture after he finished that made Botan's apartment mostly done, and Kurama left to Botan giving him even more, highly energetic, thanks.
As she shut the door behind him she flopped onto her couch with a sigh. She had no idea what to do now... She hadn't had free time in so long that now that she did she didn't know what to do with it. Actually, just sitting and relaxing was really nice...
It was noon and Hiei needed to do something. Anything to get his mind off of, well, everything. Mating season, sex, females in general, marking, all of it.
So, with nothing else to do, Hiei went looking for Kurama. If nothing else, the fox could spar with him. A fight might absorb him for a while.
So he found himself at Botan's new apartment, where he had tracked down Kurama. As he crouched in a tree next to her apartment, watching the two eat lunch together, he was surprised by a sudden spike of jealousy. But that meant that Botan was the person his instinct wanted him to mate... Botan? The baka ferry onna? The annoying, bubbly, cheerful, friendshippy happy Botan? The un-grim reaper? Her?
He leaned back against his tree, stunned. Why her? Why not anyone else? Even the annoying girl who was always slapping Yusuke would be better. Anyone else, other than her.
Now he really needed to talk to Kurama. Badly.
He settled in to wait.
"Love is both wonderful and frightening; opening yourself to someone completely, making yourself totally vulnerable, is both exhilarating and a source of joy in trusting someone and scary, all at once. Love is a paradox..."
--Utterly Lovely, Entirely in Love: A Romance Novel by Psued O'Nym.
As Kurama left Botan's house he was startled to find a slightly wild-eyed Hiei facing him.
"Well?" he asked.
"I need your help," admitted Hiei. Kurama raised an eyebrow; whatever had happened must be serious. Hiei didn't even look like he had noticed he had just asked for help.
"We'll go to the park; it's cloudy again today, we should be alone."
A few minutes later found Hiei up another tree, Kurama leaning against its trunk, both talking mentally using Hiei's jagan.
What happened? asked Kurama straight off.
I found out who my instinct picked out, said Hiei tersely.
Well, who is it? It can't be that bad.
'Can't be that bad?'
It could be worse. It could be... umm... hmm.
I know! Genkai!
Fox... said Hiei, mental voice laden with heavy menace.
Well, what are you going to do? said Kurama, recovering from the shock and starting to take it seriously. He knew as well as any demon that the mating instincts rarely chose wrong, and also that the urges they gave off were nearly impossible to resist.
I don't know.
You can't go somewhere else, you can run too well once the instinct takes over completely. You're too strong to contain if you're really determined, and I doubt you'll be able to keep from giving in to instinct, not if you're this bad two days in. Your mating season lasts 10 days, right?
The way I see it, you try to hold out and probably rape her, you could explain it to her and see if she'll let you mate her but not mark her early on, or you could let the season run its course, try to make her love you and then mate and mark her.
NO! I'm not mating the baka onna and I'm not marking her.
You need to tell her, at least, Hiei. You know you'll probably lose control, and she should know why you'll force her to your bed, at least.
If you don't, I will.
...yes. I will.
Good. We're going now.
Botan stirred as she heard a knock on her door. Stumbling slightly over her coffee table as she went over to it, she opened it to find Hiei and Kurama.
"Hello!" she said cheerily, hiding her surprise. "Come in!"
Hiei was having to work harder at restraining himself than he ever had before. Every instinct was screaming at him to do something; half of him wanted him to mark her there and then, and then mate her, while the other half wanted him to say something nice. "Hn. Stupid ferry onna." he said, refusing to give in to either instinct.
The hurt on Botan's face made him feel surprisingly guilty, setting off a sharp pang that twinged at him.
Botan was hurt. Hiei would have to show up and remind her of who she was... It was easier for everyone, especially her, if she tried to forget. Deciding to ignore him now that her good mood was spoiled, she led Kurama into her living room, chatting with him about this and that.
As she left the room Hiei caught fear, anger and sorrow in her scent, bitter and heavy. Anger... she is angry at me. But fear? What does she fear? Some part of him refused to answer that it was him she feared. Sorrow? What has made her so sad? I've called her that before, but she's never reacted this strongly... Why do I feel so guilty?
"When instinct has chosen a mate for a demon, instead of the demon itself, a strong protective urge and a need to comfort and care for the other will occur, mixed with an urge to mark the other as theirs immediately and mate, simultaneously. The latter will happen if the partner is willing; if not, however, the urge will fade while the protective urge will increase. This stage is sometimes known as a 'courting' phase, to use a human word. During this time period the two demons will get to know each other. If, at the end of this time, mating occurs, all the typical mating instincts will return and avoiding marking will be nearly impossible. If mating does not occur or the two abandon the 'courting' before the time period is over, at the end of it the two will go their separate ways and nothing will come of it, though tensions may remain between the two..."
--Demon Mating Habits: A Scientific Study by Erich Baumer
Hiei followed Botan and Kurama, coming into the living room just as Botan started laughing at something Kurama had just said, leaning against him for support as her body shook. A growl sprang, unbidden, to his lips. Wait... I'm growling at Kurama? Because I'm jealous over the ferry onna?
While Botan hadn't heard the growls, Kurama had. Glancing pointedly in Hiei's direction, he turned to face Botan.
"I'm afraid we're here on serious business. Hiei?"
Hiei swallowed suddenly as Botan turned to look at him. Her face was almost serious, as if she wasn't smiling underneath, and her eyes were opaque with some muddled emotion. Fear was still there, and sorrow, and...loneliness? Why was the onna lonely?
Realizing he hadn't spoken yet, he shook his head imperceptibly and started. "This week and the half of the next one are the demon mating season. You know how that works, onna?"
At Botan's affirmative nod he continued. "Then you know that instinct picks the mate sometimes? Mine's chosen you."
"What?" said Botan, horror curling over her face in a slow wave.
"I wouldn't tell you, except that it's unlikely I'll be able to control myself. The instinct... is not designed to be controllable."
"You want to mate with me?"
"My instinct does. I certainly don't."
"Oh." Botan's face fell, and a few seconds later a tear fell into her lap.
In a split second Hiei was at her side, feeling a ridiculous urge to comfort her, help her, do anything to make her feel better...
"What's wrong, Botan?" asked Kurama softly as another tear fell.
Hiei gave up and, loosening the bandanna around his head, scanned her mind with his jagan. "You think no one will love you?"
A small, shameful nod agreed.
Carefully, gingerly, Hiei rested his hand on Botan's shoulder. "Why?" he asked.
"I'm not dead, and I'm not alive, and I'm not human and I'm not demon. I'm just someone stuck in the middle..."
"Botan..." began Kurama, before letting Hiei take over. This was actually very interesting...
"You're nice to everyone. You're cheery, you do your best to help, you're a good friend. You're beautiful... Why won't anyone love you?" Why did he want to be so nice to her?
"..." Botan looked at the fire demon beside her, half-scowling and resting a comforting hand against her, bandanna still slightly loose.
"If... if I'm all that you just said, why do you hate me?"
"I don't hate you.
"Oh..." Botan turned, tears forming again. "Then why am I so horrible? Why do you never call me by name? Why is the idea of me so repulsive that you're instinct choosing me makes you scramble for any other option?"
"I... I don't know." admitted Hiei. He knew, once he'd said it, that everything he'd stated was true. But everything she had said had been true too...
Luminescent pink eyes verging on a light fuchsia, still starry with tears, turned to lock with bright red ones.
"Why should I believe you?" asked Botan.
"You shouldn't. You don't." said Hiei, turning to leave, fighting the urge to turn back. A hand reaching out to catch his wrist stopped him.
"But I do," said Botan.
Silence fell, before Kurama spoke again. "Hiei, maybe you should rethink your decision? I think maybe your instinct was right. You obviously don't hate each other as much as you thought, not anymore, at least. And you know you'd lose control. Do you know what that would do to Botan?"
Hiei did. He could imagine the uncontrolled rush of emotions and instinctive urges that would cause the act, and then the fear, the broken look that Botan would have, the lack of trust, the hatred for him she would harbor... He couldn't imagine living with that. Living with himself if he did that to her... And being bonded to her, bound forever by a small scar right where the neck flows into the shoulder, and never being able to leave...
"Yes. I...understand. Botan, I don't really know you and I never really liked you, but I think that's changed. Would you spend time with me, to... learn about each other?"
"I... Yes, I would."
"Well, Hiei, we should probably leave Botan to her own devices. She's got... a lot to think about."
"Will you come by tomorrow morning?" asked Botan softly, shyly. "If we're going to get to know each other..."
"That's Hiei for 'yes,'" said Kurama with a slight smile, one that Botan returned. "Bye!"
"Bye Kurama! Good bye, Hiei!"
"Bye, Botan," said Kurama.
Botan flopped back on her couch, heaving a big sigh. "I don't think I'm entirely sure what just happened..."
The phone ringing a while later interrupted her thoughts. She heaved herself to her feet, walked over and picked it up. "Hello, Botan here,"
"Hi Botan! It's Keiko. I've decided to hold a girls night tonight--I'm inviting Yukina too."
"You know, that sounds great. What time is it now? Five? I'll just take a quick shower, eat some dinner and be over by six. I have news. Big news."
Botan walked into the bathroom, turning the water on as hot as she could stand and waiting for it to heat up before stripping and getting under the warm rush. As she washed, luxuriating in the miracle of very hot running water, she thought over what had happened that afternoon. Does Hiei really think I'm everything he said I am? Nice, a good friend, beautiful? Or is that just the mating instinct? Will he even show up tomorrow? Why does he want to get to know me better--is he considering me as a mate after all? I wonder what he's doing now...
Hiei was actually sitting in the tree he had waited for Kurama in, a big maple higher than Botan's third-floor apartment. Why did I say what I did about her? I don't think it was just the mating instinct. Or is it? Do I really like her that much? Why did my opinions change so much? Why do I want to get to know her better? For that matter, why does she want to get to know me better? Is she considering me as a potential mate...? Am I considering her? I wonder what she's doing right now...
He watched through a window as she came out of her bathroom, dripping wet and wrapped in a big fluffy towel. Hiei was very pleased to note that the 'grab her, mate her, mark her' instinct had receded now that he was in a 'courtship' period. Very pleased.
Botan walked into her bedroom, coming out five or so minutes later dressed in a white tank top and a flowing white skirt. She looked very thoughtful, and very serious, with a worried suspicion clouding her face. A backpack was slung over her shoulder, and she deposited it by the door before walking into her kitchen, where she rummaged through the refrigerator. Pulling out a carton of leftover takeout Chinese she grabbed a pair of chopsticks and began eating standing up, obviously a hurried meal.
Finishing quickly she grabbed her bag and left the apartment, carefully locking it behind her. Not that she needs to, thought Hiei. Kurama's warded the place with his plants and all of the Reikai Tantei would go after anyone who invaded her space, even... me?
Following behind the oblivious girl as she walked down the street, turning here and there, obviously one she'd walked before he grew more and more puzzled. What was she doing?
He was answered when she knocked on the door of a house, which was answered almost immediately by Keiko, who greeted her excitedly, answered with equal excitement in Botan. Realizing where she had been going he left, knowing she was safe; Yusuke had made sure Keiko's house was more than as safe as she'd need it.
Once Botan was inside she was greeted by the other girl, Yukina.
"You said you had news?" said Keiko happily.
"Yeah. This might sound weird, so just hear me out?"
There was a silence, everyone obviously waiting for her to continue.
"Well, Hiei and Kurama showed up at my apartment this afternoon, and Hiei told me that his instinct had picked me as his next mate and he was warning me in case he couldn't control it. Then Hiei told me that his instinct wanted to mate with me, not him at all. It just echoed something I've been dwelling on lately, about how nobody really loved me, and I broke down and started crying--this is where it gets weird--and Hiei comes over and comforts me, and tells me that of course someone will love me, because I'm a good friend, and nice, and beautiful...So I ask him why he hated me, and he says he doesn't know. Then Kurama says that Hiei probably wouldn't be able to control himself, so we should probably work out another method, because we don't seem to hate each other too much after all. So we agree to have a sort of period of time to get to know each other..." The last part of the epic paragraph was done more and more quickly, Botan obviously confused and slightly embarrassed.
"He did what?" yelped a voice from behind the door. Scowling, Keiko walked over to it, yanking it open.
"Yusuke Urameshi," she said, a dangerous glint coming into her eyes. "What exactly were you doing behind my door?"
"Well, I dropped by to say hello, and your mom sent me up here. I just sort of over-heard you?"
Botan was blushing bright pink and had her head buried in her hands. "I'm so embarrassed," she moaned.
"I'll...just be leaving, then?" said Yusuke, making an abrupt about-turn and dash for the stairs.
"You are dead, Urameshi, dead!" yelled Keiko after him. Turning away, she said to Botan, "I think he knows enough not to tell anyone," in a simultaneously hopeless and comforting tone.
"You've been lonely?" asked Yukina. "Why didn't you tell us?"
"Well," began Botan, "In a way, I think I felt almost selfish, because I've got so many nice friends, and it really isn't all that important... I just wanted someone to love me, I think, and I've been more sad recently because of it...There wasn't anything you could do, and it's such a little sorrow..."
"You really should have told us, Botan," said Keiko, wrapping her in a hug. "Even if we can't help, you deserve to have someone to talk too."
"Thanks," said Botan, looking slightly ashamed of herself and more than slightly relieved. "On the other hand, what do you think Hiei meant with his courtship offer?"
Yukina frowned slightly with thought. "I almost think of Hiei as an adoptive brother, the way he's always looked out for me; he's not as unemotional or cold as he tries to make people think. He'd do anything to save me, at least, and I think that the more time he spends with us, the more he's opening up. And if his instinct picked you, you're most likely a good mate for him."
"What do you think of him?" asked Keiko. "That's important too."
"I... I don't know. He used to scare me slightly, always threatening people, and how he refused to connect with anyone, and was so cut off from his emotions, how much he denied them, but... but this afternoon he was different. There was this soft look in his eyes, like he wanted to help me... And then, when he was comforting me... I realized that there's this whole other side to him that I've never seen."
"Yes, I've seen that," said Yukina softly.
"So why did you agree to a--how did you put it? Courtship period?"
"I'm...not entirely sure. On one side, I do want to get to know him better, and he's less likely to loose control and rape me, but on the other it means that I'm considering him as a mate. Does that mean he's considering me as one, or is it just instinct? Is it just a way to keep him from losing control and forcing me to do... things?"
"I don't think so," said Yukina softly. "I think he might learn to like you at the least, maybe love you. Demon mating instincts are good at picking compatible partners; there are a lot of cases of two people who don't know each other well falling in love."
"I just don't know..." sighed Botan. "I just don't know."
Ending A/N: Well, what do you think? Maybe if you yell really loudly at your computer I'll hear you! If that doesn't work, why don't you leave a review... Not that I'm hinting, or anything.
Till next chapter, then!