The Importance of Moving On
Summary: Hiei is dead, and Botan has to come collect his soul and hear his dying words.
A/N: This one was suddenly inspired by who knows what. It'll only be continued if there is positive feedback, and if I want to. So. Please read and enjoy!
"This one is important, Botan," Koenma said seriously.
"Oh, come on. I've been taking back souls all day today." Botan was beat. Running around non-stop with no pause was getting her in an irate mood. "Can just this one wait?"
Koenma was not in the mood either. He gave her an uncharacteristic, stern look that threw Botan off her feet a little.
Perhaps he's had a trying day as well, she mused to herself, assessing her boss's face. "Well, alright. But this is the absolute last time, okay?"
Koenma nodded seriously. "Even I would be insane to give you more work after this one." He sighed. "You'll be going to the Makai."
"But I don't normally work there. If it's important, get Ayame or someone to do it."
Koenma just continued. "The soul will be found at coordinates 3450, 7852. It's at the edge of Mukuro's territory."
Botan's eyes grew large and saucer-like. "You don't mean… You can't be serious!"
Koenma pushed a small file towards her and tapped the picture on the front. "I'm afraid I haven't informed the others yet, but I will in due time. Meaning, after he has moved on."
Botan was still had a faint sense of shock. "I'll… I think I'll go get him now."
Koenma gave her a curt nod. Despite all of the short arguments the two had had, deep down he still needed to know what had happened.
Botan frowned. She actually looked like a grim reaper today, and she wasn't used to it. All of the fatigue she had acquired over the day was forgotten as she raced on her oar over the barren wasteland. It felt like the natural laws of the world had been ripped away from under her. She had thought he was invincible. She knew she was wrong.
"It took you long enough," Hiei said, without even turning to look at her.
She found the place easily enough; it was a small oasis of blood, guts and corpses. All of the other souls had been ferried already, leaving one. She landed behind him, disintegrating her oar. She didn't reply when he spoke.
He twisted his head around. "It figures he'd send you." He spoke as rough as ever, but the look on his face clearly said I'm actually finally dead, aren't I?
"Hiei, before we go…" She trailed off. It seemed like a strange question to be asking him, of all people. Her mind shifted as her eyes got a faraway look in them. She decided she had more than one question to ask.
"Well? Spit it out, idiot ferrywoman."
Botan blinked. "How did this happen?" It was the first question to flow out of her mouth. She felt like millions would follow.
He smirked, like he was proud of it. "I was patrolling with the top squad," He stood up and stretched. "And there was rebellion in the ranks."
"That's it? That's all there is to it?" She was surprised. She had every right to be. It was a very… un-noble way to go down. For lack of a better word, of course.
"It was the top squad. They're stronger. I managed to take out three fourths before they started to wear me down." He stopped, thinking. His features were no longer proud of the fact that he had gotten killed. Disgusted was now a better word. Disgusted with himself, because he was not able to hold off forty or so demons, whether they be top rank or not. Disgusted that he couldn't keep them in order.
Botan looked at him. She tried to pity him. She tried to feel sympathy for his plight. She tried to have any emotion for him but contempt and anger for him, but found that she couldn't. She was mad. He went and got himself killed, just when everyone decided they didn't really have to worry. She took a deep breath to keep herself from lashing out at him.
Hiei fully turned around to look at her, and Botan was captivated by his expression. He was bewildered, if anything, about what was going on around him. Everything. His arm was raised and his fingers were brushing his forehead. Botan decided that he'd been doing that for a long time. "It's gone." He stated simply.
Botan nodded. "The Jagan wasn't part of your original body," she explained monotonously. Her mind was somewhere else. "So it didn't carry on with you into spirit form."
Again, he didn't respond. He continued to poke the area which was once an eyeball. He felt reasonably less powerful without it, and was once again disgusted with himself. He didn't like spirit form. It revealed your weaknesses.
Botan opened her mouth to ask another question. She failed. She tried once more, and instead asked what she was supposed to. She followed regimen this time, instead of asking what she really wanted to. "What do you want to be reincarnated into?" Usually it wasn't part of procedure to ask this, but for all those who worked for Koenma, they got the option to choose when they died.
"I don't want to be reincarnated," He snapped, lowering his arm. He looked at her for face for the first time since she arrived, and was surprised to see her anger all over it.
"How can you be like that? Don't you want to live again?"
Hiei remained silent for a few minutes, and then dodged the question. "Mukuro will be upset that her heir died."
"You know," It was hard for Botan to keep her voice level. The feeling of loss was starting to overwhelm her, and she was irritated at Hiei for causing the feeling. 'Irritated' may be an understatement. "You might be surprised that more people than your boss care about you."
She had Hiei's attention. He looked on at her, listening to her despite wanting to block it out.
"Your entire team is going be devastated to hear of your death! Kurama will wonder what the hell happened, just like the rest! Even if you don't think it, Yukina, your sister, is going to practically go into a coma! You're going to just stop your soul from proceeding into its next life without even telling her? You've got some nerve!" She couldn't hold her voice down any longer, and it was slowly starting to escalate. "Even Koenma was freaked out. God knows what goes on in your mind, but I think you ought to know that more people than those who can gain something out of you care about you! Don't you even care? Don't you even care what they think!"
"What do you think?"
The question nearly knocked her down, and she was temporarily thrown off her rant. "Huh?"
"You went over everyone else, but what do you think?"
Hiei was staring at her with such resignation, such acceptance of what was happening to him that she was rendered speechless for an instant. But only an instant.
"I think… I think you should at least let them know."
"Know everything. Every secret you have, before letting them die along with you."
"And how would that go about happening?" He said, the sneer barely audible in his voice. "I'm supposed to be moving on right about now, aren't I?
"We can delay that."
There was a long time of silence. Botan's face fell, and she knew it meant that he wasn't going to do it. The passion left her voice when she asked another procedure-friendly question. "Do you have any last wishes?"
"Take my shirt off."
"Excuse me!" Despite the heavy atmosphere, she was able to pick up on innuendos—even strange ones.
Hiei narrowed his eyes at her. "Not my shirt, idiot woman." He pointed to his corpse, which looked completely pummeled. "That shirt."
She sighed and moved over to it, ready to carry out his request, since in his spirit form Hiei wasn't able to do it himself.
After she was done and disposed of the blood soaked cloth next to her, she spotted what he was probably talking about. It was blood soaked, but when she rolled it in her fingers, his mother's tear gem started to become clean again.
"Give it to Yukina," Hiei ordered, knowing full well she knew what he was talking about.
Botan snapped the chain off his neck and stood up, holding it close to her heart. It was still warm, and she knew it carried the essence of his heart. It was irreplaceable and invaluable.
"But only after everyone forgets." He stared her hard, waiting to see her responses.
"I don't think they'll ever forget," She murmured into her clasped hands, which held the tear gem tightly.
Hiei almost sounded like he was smirking. "Then you'll just have to keep it forever then, won't you?"
Botan felt one of her own tears falling down her face. He really wasn't going to stay. He wasn't going to exist anymore. He was getting rid of his gem, and he wasn't going to say anything to anybody. She suddenly felt like she was the only and last link between Hiei and the rest of the world, and she was going to be the one holding his last words on her chest.
Hiei watched her tear fall silently. Then, "You should be getting rid of me by now, right?"
"Can I…" She couldn't really bring herself to look at him, but she could feel his eyes. "Can I give you a hug?"
And before he could respond with some witty comment, she threw herself at his waist, burying her face in his stomach with her knees on the ground. The tear gem was clamped tightly in one hand, and she mumbled words unrecognizable to him through the cloth of his shirt.
After a few minutes of her mourning, he found his own hands stiffly holding on to her back, rubbing it in what he hoped was a comforting motion. He was surprised at what Botan looked like when crying, and was surprised by his own reactions in return. So this is what a real embrace feels like.
For the first time in his life, he felt like the tallest man in the world. All three of them.
It lasted this way for a long time, but it felt like mere seconds. Botan leaned away, sniffing out a low, "I'm sorry," gesturing to his soaked shirt, and slowly looking at his face. It was surprisingly soft looking. "Should we uh… get started now?"
"…Yes. Get your oar. We're going back to speak with that brat of a ruler."
Botan's face was blank, and then big-eyed with unabashed glee. "You mean…?"
"We're going to get the same thing done as what happened to that dense detective. I have heads to chop off."
Botan grinned like a lunatic, and plunged into his shirt again. This time, however, Hiei would have none of it. "Get off of me, you idiot ferry girl. Stop touching me, and let's leave!"
She nodded, obeying, and summoned her trusty flying stick. After which, she placed the gem back in his hands, and flashed him a smile of drastic proportions. "Hop on, Mr. Jaganshi. It's going to be a wild ride from here on in."
One month later, there was mass panic within Lord Mukuro's territory. Mukuro herself and her close assistant, Kirin, sat within her chambers watching Hiei slaughtering any demons he thought were connected with those who opposed him.
"Lord, are we going to do anything?" Kirin, asked, keeping one eye on the screen depicting the massacre.
"No, I don't believe so."
Kirin was quiet for a moment, watching his master's relaxed stance. "They say he was dead and came back to life three weeks later in the middle of the desert. It is a very biblical sounding tale that the soldiers are telling."
"I believe it," Mukuro said. "But I could have sworn that he would choose to stay dead."
She leaned her head on her hand thoughtfully. "I wonder what made him decide to stay."