J.J. - Hooo... wow. Finally, eh?


Chapter Three

The Forced Rescue


She was in that glorious state of subconsciousness when you knew you were dreaming, but you continued to slumber in that blissful, carefree place your mind created nonetheless. She was laying on something soft. She wasn't sure what, but details were lost on her. She was happy and she had nothing to worry about. She wasn't going to ruin it by asking questions.

But then slowly, distantly, something began to pull at her, something from the outside. It originated from her cheek. A soft, growing pressure...

Her eyes blinked blearily open, and she gazed about her, disoriented. A pair of scarlet eyes stared back, inches from her face. With a surprised shriek, she slapped in the general direction of the eyes and tried to scramble away. Unfortunately, something snagged her wrist in mid-motion and gripped her waist to keep her from running away. She struggled for a moment more before realization began to seep in her just-woken mind.

Hiei regarded her with an annoyed look. "Finally," came the irritated voice. "You were 'sleeping' so long I thought you had died."

Botan groaned, squeezing her eyes shut in a desperate attempt to latch onto what was left of her dream. For sleeping so long, it sure felt like it had only been a few hours. Her body, specifically her legs, ached all over.

"Lucky for you I decided to check your breathing before I buried you."

"How kind," she grumbled, attempting to roll on her side and shut the demon above her out. The movement failed and she ended up only squirming awkwardly, as he still had a tight hold on her wrist and waist.

"So can we get going again?" he asked almost threateningly.

With an irritated growl, her eyes snapped open and she glared at him. She ripped her wrist from his grasp and shoved him away with both hands against his chest (a very nice, hard chest, but whatever...). Grumbling the whole time, she swiped up her canvas bag and shoved her things inside of it, abandoning any hope of organization for the moment.

Dazed, Hiei remained seated in the spot where she had shoved him, watching her curiously. She stalked over to him and dropped the bag heavily into his lap. She was still sleep worn, her clothes disheveled and askew, her hair mussed and her eyes tired. "Well, let's go," she piped. "I'm ready. I can keep going for hours. I'm like a freaking energizer bunny!"

With a huff, she turned on her heel and marched down the closest corridor. Wisely choosing to remain silent, Hiei slung the pack over his shoulder and rose to his feet. He followed after her in slight confusion, briefly wondering what in the nine hells a 'freaking energizer bunny' was.


Suppressing the ninth yawn of the hour, Botan searched the stone walls for an arrow. Luckily, they hadn't run into a lot of stairs yet, just a lot twisting corridors. But stairs or no stairs, she still felt exhausted. That's what she got for determining to keep up with her demon companion's pace. She had felt her usually non-existent temper flare up this morning and the last thing she wanted to do was make Hiei hate her even more, so instead of snapping at him, she had continued the trek at double their previous pace. At first, it had been a nice way to vent some frustration and early morning nerves, but now it felt like she had assigned herself a death sentence. She hadn't even eaten breakfast!

"Uughn... kill me..."

"Is that an order?" Hiei quipped pleasantly from behind her.

She rolled her eyes. "Sorry, no."

There was a long pause. "Right... so are all humans this moody?"

Letting out a long sigh, she stopped and turned to face him. "No, Hiei," she said, her voice softening. "I'm sorry, I really am. I'm just a little tired, and hungry."

"Hn. Whatever, I don't care. I actually prefer it," he replied. "Do you know how annoying that perky voice of yours can get?"

She flushed, turning quickly back around. "I didn't realize, no."

They continued on their hike, and Botan kept respectively to herself. A few minutes had passed when Hiei suddenly gave a disgusted sound, as if he had swallowed a nasty bug. "Ughnn... what the hell is that?"

Botan stopped, glancing back at him in curiosity. "Are you alright?"

Hiei was glaring down at his stomach, his hand was pressed against it, his mouth open in pure revolt. "It's this weird feeling... detestable... it was like, I insulted you and then this feeling just... hit me." And then, so softly that Botan almost didn't hear it, a faint whimper escaped him that seemed to say, Make it go away.

Botan pondered for a minute, just as lost as he was. A feeling? Hmm...

Tilting her head, she regarded him carefully. "Perhaps," she began slowly, a satisfied smile creeping it's way up her lips, "it's... guilt?"

He looked up at her. "Guilt?" he repeated in disbelief.

She nodded. "Yes. You feel bad about what you said to me?"

Hiei scoffed, rolling his eyes and crossing his arms haughtily across his chest. "Yeah. You wish."

She shrugged indifferently and headed back down the corridor, but the satisfied smile never left her lips. The entire incident appeased her for the next fifteen minutes and her mood lightened. That was, however, until they rounded a corner and came face to face with a corroded wall, revealing a dank passageway. The way the dust and scattered stones appeared against the ground, it seemed like it had been knocked loose recently.

She had stopped so abruptly, Hiei actually ran into her this time, getting a face full of blue hair. Growling, he spat and swatted it away. But before he could deliver a harsh reprimand, she touched his arm and pointed. "Look. This passage wasn't open before..."

This news seemed to have an opposite effect on the demon than on her and he smirked happily. "Oh, so the brilliant scholar doesn't remember everything, does she?" He leaned in closer and dangled the bag by her face. "Need to check your 'notes'?"

She pushed the bag away. "Don't be so smug. This is serious. This entrance was blocked and locked with a magic seal."

Hiei looked on the verge of offering an even more smug reply, but a noise interrupted him that sounded akin to giant nails scratching and scuffling against the stone. The pair simultaneously froze, glancing into the darkened entrance. Botan paled and shuffled closer to Hiei. "Okay, now I'm scared..."

Hiei took the torch from her trembling hand and raised it higher towards the passageway. He stepped slowly into the illuminated area, and Botan had no choice but to follow along after him. She watched as he sniffed at the air. A quiet, sort of shriek echoed against the stone.

"This is not good... so not good.."

Skreeeeek-ehe-k-k-khhh!

The ear splitting noise came from directly above them. Botan screamed and gripped Hiei as if he were a life force. Above them, inching it's way down from the ceiling was a gigantic spider. Roughly the size of an elephant, it was devoid of all skin and flesh, clacking a pair of tusk like fangs as it hissed and screeched.

"Huh..." Hiei raised an eyebrow. "So that's what's making all that noise..."

"It's... it's a Necrachid!"

Seemingly oblivious to Botan's terror, Hiei casually gestured a thumb in the monster's direction. "So this things got a name?"

"Yes!" Botan trilled, gripping at the fabric of his shirt. "Bone-spider! Devourer of flesh! Ancient horror of darkness and black magic! Take your pick! Just kill it! Kill it kill it kill it!"

Hiei was trying, unsuccessfully, to pry Botan away from him. "Why?"

"Before it kills us!" she yelled in exasperation.

His eyebrow arched partly in annoyance, partly in amusement. He leaned away, giving up on his efforts to force her off. "You mean kill you. I am an immortal."

She gaped at him in disbelief. He was serious. She looked frantically over his shoulder. The spider was now on the ground, approaching them ominously. Well, there was only one thing to do if she wanted to escape with her skin still in tact. Leaving no room for debate, she quickly took Hiei's face into her hands and, ignoring the look of confusion on his face, swooped in and kissed him.

There was an explosion of smoke and then a loud rumbling, quickly followed by the ear-splitting sound of bones shattering beneath the weight of an enormous demon. Botan was launched forward amidst the transformation, tumbling and crashing her way through the debris. After she landed, she groaned and pushed herself upright, trying to see through the dust and smoke.

As it began to clear, she crawled her way over to Hiei's large shape, coughing and fanning the air in front of her face. "Did you kill it?" she called.

She heard a grunt and more cracking as he shifted. He had transformed right on top of the Necrachid, effectively 'squashing' it, if you will. She gave a cry of delight and stood to her feet, clapping her hands. "You did it!" She picked her way through broken bones and loose stone and made it to her demon's side. She hoisted herself onto his stomach and crawled over his skin to kneel on his chest, where she could better see his eyes. "You saved my life."

Hiei only glared, raising his head up slightly. "Great for you!" he growled in that deep, guttural voice. "Next time you want to kiss me and alter my size– let me know! Okay?"

Botan was too happy to even care about the sarcasm and bitter diatribe. She nodded. "Okay. Are you ready this time?" She reached up and touched his cheek.

"Uh..."

She leaned forward placed a kiss against his lower lip. The transformation, complete with smoke, occurred, but Botan didn't pull back immediately. She found herself half on top of his smaller form, letting her lips linger against his for longer than necessary. Even so, the demon didn't protest.

When she finally raised her head, she smiled down at him as he blinked in bewilderment. "Was that better?"

"Well, um... I guess so," he muttered.

"Good! Then let's go." She stood to her feet.

"Wait."

She paused, turning hopefully. The demon's cheeks flushed a little and he frowned. "The uh.. I mean, the clothes I was wearing, sort of..."

"Oh." Botan blushed as well, turning quickly around. She should have remembered that going to his original size would rip and render useless his small wardrobe. She waited, listening as he gathered the shreds, arranging them around his waist. When he announced he was finished, she turned to find the pieces of fabric woven intricately around him in such a way that they stood up and resembled an odd sort of pants. However, he was now lacking in shirt. Not that she was complaining in any way. The toned chest was more than enough eye candy for her.

"Well!" She laughed nervously, reddening at her own thought. "Let's be on our way, shall we?"

"Ugh... another weird feeling!" she heard him mutter to himself behind her, his tone ugly and confused.

Oh dear...


J.J. - Hope you enjoyed, as I certainly enjoyed writing it.

Next chapter: Moving Too Fast