Author's Note: Um, so I lied. I promised to update this story earlier, but things didn't go as planned. For that, I am so sorry. I got sidetracked, especially during the holidays. There were parties here and there, food was overflowing, Christmas and New Year Specials on the TV… Good times, good times.
But here I am again with the last chapter of this story. Consider this as my post New Year offering.
Again, this was loosely based from the one-shot manga Ai No Tame Ni by Kawahara Kazune.
Also, UVERworld, one great Japanese rock band, is mentioned here.
Yu Yu Hakusho is not mine as well.
Match Number 3!
Kurama took another bite from his sandwich, sporting an uninterested look. He was lounging at one of the bleachers on a secluded part of the school's football field, eating his lunch. It was a Monday. A very boring Monday. Unfortunately, none of his friends was even present to join him in his wallowing. Heck, he even missed Kuwabara's whimpering and sudden outbursts. Now that he had a girlfriend, the carrot-top traveled all the way to Yukina's school during lunch just to eat together. Since she studies at an all-girls school, and boys were not allowed inside the campus, both agreed to meet at some food shop near her school.
And don't even let him get started with Yusuke. Kurama barely saw his shadow nowadays. He can't even remember the last time they hang out. Like Kuwabara, he seems to be spending most of his time with his girlfriend. Even the local gangsters were starting to miss having their buts kicked by the young delinquent.
Now, Hiei was a different story. As it turns out, he was Yukina's brother, his twin even. Them having the same family name, same crimson eyes, and even the same height was a dead give away. But Kuwabara was too smitten, not to mention too slow, to even notice these. And this is where things got a little nasty.
Everyday, Hiei does different kinds of thins just to prevent Kuwabara from meeting Yukina – sabotage his bike, locked him inside the janitor's closet, super-glued his shoes on the floor, virtually anything you can think of just to 'save his sister from the moron'. But Kuwabara can be really persistent, unfortunately, so is Hiei. If Kuwabara manages to meet up with Yukina unscathed, Hiei follows them secretly, ready to pounce on the carrot-top if he even thought of doing something inappropriate.
If you think about it, it seems that all of his friends, those who he can tolerate that is, were busy with girls in one way or another. Speaking of girls, there was this one girl he found himself spending most of his free time with. In the mornings before class starts, since they were in different classes, he visited her in her classroom at times to hear her rant about her latest match-ups. At lunch time, he found himself sitting opposite her at the lunch table casually talking to her, more like annoying her about the non-existence of romance in her life, and stealthily eat some of her food in the process. Even at weekends whenever he went out for an errand or something, fate somehow brought them together. It seems like the little Miu Pao had been his unexpected companion these past few weeks.
However, this day proves to be nothing but normal. It seems that, like his friends, Botan decided to occupy herself with something Kami-sama knows what. And that is why he sat there alone, eating his lunch. He sullenly bit off another piece from his sandwich and thought, 'Had Botan finally grew tired of me?' He pondered on the thought for a minute and then concluded, 'Nah. Knowing her, she's probably caught up in her matchmaking activities.' With that, he grabbed his juice box and took a sip on his orange juice.
Suddenly, a shadow passed by and then a voice was heard, "You got some of that left?" It was Hiei, pointing at sandwich. He sat himself beside Kurama, who in turn tossed him another bag of sandwich, "Good to see you, too, Hiei." He short teen simply shrugged and opened the plastic.
"So, what kind of torture did you put Kuwabara to this time?" Kurama asked, leaning idly to the wall as well.
"Burned his uniform," Hiei simply replied as if the act was the most natural thing in the world.
"Being that you're here, I suppose that you have successfully foiled Kuwabara's plan meeting up with Yukina-san."
"Hn. The idiot had an extra set of uniform in his locker," he grunted as he begrudgingly bit off from the sandwich.
"Aren't you supposed to carry out Plan B, also known as stalking the prey?"
"The teacher caught me with the 'evidence'. I had to stay to make some stupid reflection paper, why not to burn random things at school. Kuwabaka had a 20-minute headstart," Hiei replied surly.
"But that never stopped you before," Kurama said in a matter-of-factly manner.
The short spitfire let out an audible 'Hn' before giving Kurama a death glare, which, in human language, meant lay-off or you'll suffer torment a thousand times more painful than death. None of the two young men spoke for a while, both of them loosened up at the seemingly comfortable silence.
"I should kill you, y'know," Hiei said, breaking the silence, "It was you who gave him that stupid idea of seeking the help of the Matchmaking Queen."
"I no longer could stand Kuwabara's constant badgering, like you, I very much value my peace and quiet moments. Besides, how should I know that your sister would be part of that goukon?"
"Hn, fine. Maybe I'll just go release all my frustration on that overly bubbly matchmaker," Hiei muttered as he finished his food.
Kurama glanced at him, giving a cryptic smile, and simply said, "I don't think that would be such a good idea."
Hiei, who knew the kitsune all too well, was smart enough to heed the redhead's words. It was only once in a while that he got to see that mysterious smile of his which meant only one thing – Kurama was dead serious. Hiei knew better than to ask him about his sudden protectiveness over their blue haired schoolmate. Besides, he heard from the latest gossips, not that he intentionally listen to those kinds of stuff, that Kurama had been spending some time together with her, so Hiei had a slight idea to this new found attitude of his friend towards Botan. But he wasn't sure if Kurama was even aware of his own feelings.
"Fine, I'll just go kill Kuwabara, permanently," Hiei mocked, yet the idea seemed to be very pleasing.
"You do that," Kurama said, reverting back to his old self.
Hiei was about to say something when someone interrupted him, "Minamino-senpai! Thank Kami, I found you at last," a lower classman, who Kurama recognized as a member of the student council approached them, breathlessly.
"Ishitani-kun, why don't you catch your breath first," Kurama said, sympathetically.
The said lower classman heeded his senpai's advice before proceeding to his news, "Nobuya-sensei is looking for you, something about the upcoming conference."
"I see," Kurama stood up, picked his trash and tossed it in the nearest rubbish bin, "Why don't you go ahead and tell him I'll be on my way." With one final nod, Ishitani-kun left, leaving the two friends behind.
"Well, duty calls," Kurama said to Hiei who was still lounging at the bleachers, "See you later."
"Hn," Hiei grumbled and Kurama left.
Botan heaved a sigh as she stared helplessly at the piece of paper in front of her. Her mind registered blank as her eyes went through the words in it. How was she supposed to answer that freaking History Test reviewer when her stomach was grumbling and all her internal organs protesting? She let out another defeated sigh and thought, 'This is just hopeless.'
Her History teacher, Kawahara-sensei, gave her a look before saying, "The sooner you finish that, the sooner you get to eat." She was a nice and kind teacher, one of Botan's favorites, in fact. But when it comes to bringing her students' grades up, she can become really vicious. Botan was about to reply, but her grumbling stomach beat her to it.
"Tell you what, I'll go buy you some sweet buns to fill that empty stomach of yours. Just be sure you'll finish answering that test before the next period starts," Kawahara-sensei offered and Botan could only agree.
"Arigatou, Kawahara-sensei! I promise I'll finish this!" Botan said. With that the teacher left the faculty room, and in turn, Botan concentrated on the job at hand. She studied the questions and picked out the ones she knew the answer to. She was about to answer her fourth question when she heard the hinges of the faculty room door, which was close to Kawahara-sensei's table, squeak as someone entered the room. Hoping that it was her teacher, she looked up only to come eye to eye with one familiar redhead. Both stared at each other for a moment, but to Botan, she felt so embarrassed knowing that Kurama had caught her, once again, in one of her vulnerable moments.
No longer able to contain her self, Botan muttered, "My test scores weren't high enough, so the teacher gave me some mock exam to prepare me for the next quiz. And why are my scores low? It's because I suck at History, big time! Happy now, Mr. All High and Mighty?"
"Why the hostility? I wasn't even asking," Kurama in a nonchalant manner, irritating Botan in the process. Kurama walked behind her and peeked at her test paper as he leaned over her shoulder. "These questions seem easy," he said, studying the questions.
"It's easy for you because you're the smartest kid in school," Botan said sarcastically. "I'm sorry to disappoint you, but normal people like me aren't gifted with such intellectual prowess like yours. Go discuss the theory of relativity with Einstein for all I care! At least I'm not a --," Botan was about to go on with her ranting when Kurama spoke suddenly.
"What's my number?"
"09019238475!" Botan automatically said, feeling she had been tricked by the sly fox afterward.
Kurama, who had been looking at his watch, said with a little chuckle, "Wow, and that took only half a millisecond! Congratulations, Botan, you broke your own record!" The blue-haired girl simply gave a resounding 'Hmph' before turning her gaze back to the almost forgotten test paper.
"Seriously, Botan, with that super-humanoid memory of yours, you should find History very easy because it requires memorizing names, date, places and the like," Kurama said casually, as if he had no personal interest in the matter.
Botan pondered on his words for a moment. She was about to say something when an elderly member of the faculty butted in their conversation, "Ah, Minamino-kun, I'm glad you're finally here."
"I rushed back as soon as I heard you were looking for me, Nobuya-sensei" Kurama said politely to the student council adviser, "I heard from Ishitani-kun that you had something to discuss about some matter."
"Ah, yes," the teacher said, "The principal has informed me that there will be a teacher's conference next week which will be held here in our school where in all teachers in the district will participate. This will be held on the 24th, but our gymnasium, where the conference will be held, is not yet ready. Since you are the student council president, I need you to coordinate with the other class representatives for all year levels and inform them that on the 23rd, all students are to help setting up the gymnasium for the conference, 4pm onwards."
Botan, who had no intention of eavesdropping on the conversation, became alarmed when he heard the news. "On the 23rd you say?" Botan suddenly stood up, successfully interrupting what Kurama was about to say, "But that's the same date as the UVERworld concert! With us working, the students won't be able to enjoy the concert with them being too tired cleaning up the whole gymnasium! Everyone was looking forward attending it with their significant ones, some even bought expensive tickets in advance! You can't do this, sensei!"
"I'm sorry, young lady, but I most certainly can't do anything about it. The date is already set and we cannot cancel the conference since invitations were already given out," the elderly teacher said in his mellow voice, not even fazed by Botan's sudden outburst.
Botan thought for a moment for a contingency plan. Finally, she had an idea, "If I take care of the cleaning and the set-up, would you let the rest of the student body off the hook?"
"You're going to do all the set-up? By yourself?" the teacher was obviously surprised by the young student's offer, "I don't think you would be able to finish by the time of the conference."
"It is possible, sir. I'll start by 7am, or earlier if it is required, and I'm sure I'll be able to do it," Botan said with a determined look in her eyes.
The teacher thought about it for a moment, weighing the pros and cons of her suggested plan of action. He knew that it was a risky move, but that look she gave was telling him otherwise. He sighed before submitting to her request, "Alright, Fukuyama-san, you have my consent. I'll give your teachers notices to excuse you for the day. Good luck." After giving a few words to Kurama, Nobuya-sensei went back to his own desk and occupied himself with pending paper-work.
"That was pretty stupid," Kurama eyed Botan, who was now sinking in her chair, seriously. Botan mentally prepared herself for another round of verbal lashing from the red-haired young man only to be caught off-guard once again by his next words, "Stupid, indeed. But also, a very noble thing to do." Before Botan could even react, Kurama walked over to the door and left the room.
Too caught up in her own thoughts, Botan didn't even notice Kawahara-sensei enter with two sweet buns in her hand. She walked over Botan and peeked at her test paper. Her eyes widened in fury when she saw that only three out of thirty-five questions were answered, "Botan!" the said girl jumped in her seat when she heard her teacher shout her name, "didn't I tell you to finish that test? There's only 10 minutes left before lunch period ends! I change my mind; you won't get any food until you finish that!"
Botan simply groaned as her stomach grumbled.
23rd of December – Cleaning Day
Botan arrived at school exactly 7 am that day dressed in a shirt two sizes bigger than the usual and a pair sporty black sweat pants. There weren't much students present during that time since classes didn't start until 8 am. Unlike normal days when she brought a cutesy bag, she carried a sporty type backpack which carried spare clothes and a towel.
She went straight to the humongous gymnasium, with the size of three basketball courts put together, and settled her things inside the lockers found at the back. Going back to the main area of the gym, she saw the numerous stacks of chairs and round tables that she was to set up, the huge boxes that contained materials she would need for the decorations, and of course, the cleaning tools.
Botan rolled up her sleeves and put on a midnight blue bandana on her head before shouting out loud, "Yosh! Let's start the cleaning!" She grabbed a red bucket on the side and went outside to fill it with water. It took her a while to return, it took all her strength to carry the huge bucket filled with water back to the gym. As she settled it down on the floor and massaged her arms to relieve the soreness. 'I didn't think it would be this hard. And to think this is just the beginning,' Botan thought to herself as sweat rolled down her face even with the cold weather, 'But I promised sensei to do this. I can't give up now, I refuse to let him and my friends down. You can do this, Botan!'
With a newfound resolve, she picked up the mop and the cleaning solution beside it. She put some solution on the water and mixed it using the mop. With it prepared, she began mopping the floor. After an hour, Botan found she was only able to clean up a small portion of the gym.'At this pace, I won't be able to cover much ground by lunch time,'Botan thought worriedly, 'I need a new strategy.' Remembering how the basketball team members cleaned their own gym, Botan got an idea.
She angled the mop in front of her and prepared to push it when she ran across the gym. At first, Botan ran at a slow pace and accelerated as she went farther. 'This isn't so bad, kinda fun, too,' Botan thought to herself. As her speed increased, the risk of slipping increased as well. With her speed together with the slippery wet floor, Botan's right foot slid below her and brought down her whole body in the process. The result, Botan crashed flat on the floor on her stomach.
"Ow, my stomach," Botan groaned as she sat on the floor clutching the damaged part of her anatomy. 'And not to mention my breasts, ow, really hurts,' she thought as she put an arm across her chest.
"My, my, you really are clumsy, Botan," said a familiar teasing voice. Botan was so sure that this person was, as always, laughing at her demise. "You're one hopeless case," he continued.
Botan looked up with a glare. But it was immediately wiped off her face when she saw Kurama, with a casual smile on his face, holding out a hand to her. Confused, Botan simply took his hand and he helped her up. As soon as she was in an upright position, she realized that Kurama was donning a similar outfit, a simple shirt and a pair jogging pants. His hair was set unusually in a ponytail.
"W-what are you –," before Botan could even finish her sentence, Kurama interjected, "Actually, I really don't know. But you really looked pitiful the other day when you –."
"What did you say, you stu –," Botan shouted, effectively cutting Kurama's speech. But he, too, decided to cut her lecture, "Okay, now that's settled, let's start moving if we want to finish early." He walked over to the cleaning materials and picked out another mop. Kurama dabbed it in the bucket with cleaning solution and water and started wiping the floor with the mop. However, Botan still stood there, quite surprised by Kurama's presence.
"What are you still doing there? Me helping you doesn't mean I'll do everything," Kurama exclaimed. "Yeah, sorry, just resting a bit. You don't need to scold me!" Botan shouted back as she picked the fallen mop on the floor.
Botan went on cleaning another spot, careful this time about slipping again. It would be really embarrassing if she fell a second time. She eyed Kurama carefully and saw how hard he worked on his spot. She saw him wipe off the sweat trickling down his face once in a while and thought, 'He didn't have to do this, and he could be sitting inside the comfort of his own classroom. But he still chose to do this grueling hard labor even if there won't be any rewards to sow.' Botan didn't know why, but she felt something warm grow inside her chest. She decided to ignore it and continued doing work.
By lunch time, the duo had finished mopping the floor and started setting up the tables and the chairs. They ate lunch together, both sharing their food. Knowing that Botan had a lot of physical work to do that day, her brother prepared her a big lunch. The same goes with Kurama, surely Shiori won't allow her son starve to death. They had a light conversation, too, about Botan's matchmaking, Kurama's work as student council president, academics, family and hobbies just to name a few. Both didn't mention it, but they were glad for it since they got to know each other better.
After lunch, they agreed to divide the work. Kurama would be in-charge of setting up the chairs and tables, since this is a more strenuous activity, which involves brawn and muscles. After all, Kurama was much of a gentleman to let the girl carry heavy things. Botan, on the other hand was assigned with the decorations, since it required patience, precision and artistic sense that most men don't have. They also agreed that whoever finished first will help the other finish his or her task.
"Finally, it's finished!" Botan beamed, openly admiring the fruits of their labor. It was already 7 o'clock in the evening and it was already dark outside. But this fact didn't seem to dampen her mood. In fact, she was pretty happy that they didn't have to stay late that night. Kurama lay on the stage, feeling the waves of exhaustion overrun his senses, and commented, "I think I'll stay away from physical labor for a week. No, make that a month." Botan eyed Kurama. It's only normal for him to be that tired since he had to take care of a more arduous task.
"Um, you wait here, I'll get us something to drink," Botan offered as she jogged out of the gym.
"Don't worry, at this state, I doubt I'll be even able to stand up," Kurama said.
Botan rushed to the nearest vending machine she could find and searched her pockets for some spare change. Just then she realized something,'Stupid Botan! You forgot to ask him what he wanted to drink.' Botan counted her money and saw it was enough to buy one of every kind of drink in the machine, 'Oh well, I'll just buy everything.'
When Botan came back, she saw Kurama already sitting on the stage, 'Must mean he already recovered his strength.'
"Hey," Kurama greeted Botan.
"Here, have something to drink. Sort of like a thank you present or something, don't worry, it's my treat," Botan said cheerfully as she balanced eight cans in her arms.
Kurama helped her set down the cold drinks and asked, "Are your hands okay? You're really being careless again, holding many cans can cause blisters."
"Oh, it's okay! Like I said before, I'm cold resistant," Botan said as she placed her reddening arms behind her in an attempt to hide it from Kurama's scrutiny. "Okay then," Kurama said as he looked at the selection of drink offered to him and finally picked the can of lemon tea. Botan, who sat beside him, picked jasmine tea.
"Ah, that was refreshing," Kurama said as he finished his first drink, "I think I'll have another one."
Botan smiled knowing that Kurama like his drink. Then, a thought suddenly hit her, hard, 'What is happening to me? A-am I actually trying to please him?' She was surprised by this and thought, 'Nah, must be the exhaustion, really makes me crazy.' With that resolve, she dismissed the thought and continued with her drink.
It was already seven-thirty in the evening when they left the school grounds. Botan was talking about her past Christmases when someone interrupted her, "Fukuyama! Is that really you? I'm so glad I ran into you! You were absent in class so I wasn't able to talk to you this morning."
"Yamada-kun! What are you still doing here?" Botan asked when she recognized her classmate, "Don't you have a concert to attend to? I bet Kia-chan is worried sick waiting for you at the concert."
"Ah, that's the thing I wanted to talk to you about. You see, Kia-san and I broke up yesterday. She had to go to a family thing tonight, and I told her to ditch it for the concert. But she refused to, so I called the whole thing off."
By now, Botan was stunned by the horrible news, and Kurama couldn't help but worry seeing that look on her face.
"Can you set me up with another girl? You already know what my type is so –," before he could even finish, Botan let out a resounding "No."
"Why not? Its not that hard, you have a lot of friends anyway."
"Find someone on your own," Botan said coldly, already turning her back on Yamada.
"But that would be too much work for my part. Besides, it's another chance for you to test your matchmaking skills," Yamada said as if everything was alright.
Botan faced Yamada once again, doing her best to contain her shaking, "That girl you just broke up with is my friend, too! You expect me to find you another girl a day after breaking her heart? That's like rubbing salt to her wound!" Botan shouted, not even caring if passers-by looked at her weirdly, "I refuse to do it!"
Yamada, who was obviously taken aback by Botan's refusal, shot back, "Then if you won't introduce me to a new girl, then I don't see a reason why I even need boring friends like you! 'Matchmaking Queen' my ass! Don't act all haughty and proud just because people give you that title! Remove that title and all's left is a dull and insipid person!" After saying his last words, Yamada stormed off, purposely bumping Botan on the shoulder as he passed.
Kurama, who had been a spectator to that verbal joust, finally spoke up as he dangerously eyed the retreating back of the other man, "Such an abrasive friend," he paused, turning his gaze back to Botan, who's head was hung low, "Is it okay letting him say those words?"
"Yeah," Botan said lifelessly, her head still bowed down, "His words wasn't entirely untrue. Sometimes, I let all the praises inflate my ego, and as he said, I act all haughty and proud."
Without warning, Kurama stood in front of her and gently placed his hand on top of her head and said, "Let me tell you secret," he paused giving her a gentle smile, "I feel that being with you is a lot of fun."
Botan, no longer able to contain her feelings inside, shed tears. She sobbed uncontrollably as Kurama pulled her close with an arm, letting her cry on his chest. Being betrayed by someone she thought of as a friend was a wounding experience. Yet, she received comfort from someone who she never expected would give her kind words. Kurama, who always teased her and laughed at her, expressed that he enjoyed her company not because of her title, but because of her own individuality.
"You idiot, I'm actually trying to be nice to you and you cry on me," Kurama said as he patted her head gently, "You really are funny."
"W-what do I-I do?" Botan's voice cracked as she cried, "I-I can't believe I a-actually introduced Kia-chan t-to a jerk!"
"Just go apologize to her, okay? Help her get over her heart ache. I'm sure she'd appreciate that."
"O-okay," Botan said as more tears streamed down her face.
'Kurama,'Botan thought, 'I hope he stays by my side. If he's always by my side, maybe, just maybe, I'll be happy…'
Just kidding... Wouldn't want to conclude this story without Kurama and Botan ending up together, now would we? Read on!
It was New Year's Eve. Usually, she spent New Year with her brother, but this year's different. He was off to his girlfriend's, and soon-to-be fiancé, house to celebrate the coming of a new year. Ryo was planning to propose to her when the clock strikes twelve. Not wanting to bother the romantic mood his brother set for that night, she decided to join her friends welcome the New Year at the Aisurutani Shrine up on the mountain.
It is common knowledge that every year, the shrine's keeper organizes a huge New Year celebration inviting vendors to set up their stalls, and there would also be a countdown followed by a colossal fire works display. It was the talk of the town and everyone was looking forward to celebrate the New Year at the shrine.
Now walking on the steps of the shrine, Botan chattered casually with friends about how they spent the holidays. Like other girls, she wore a traditional kimono. She wore a midnight blue hued kimono with a pink and white sakura petals pattern set artistically and a red obi. Her hair was set in a tight bun with her signature curly side locks framing her pretty face.
Walking beside her was Kia-chan, the girl that awful Yamada-san dumped. She was doing fine now with Botan and her other friends' help. At first, she had been inconsolable. But, Botan got through with her, and she let her see that she was not to blame for the break-up. Botan even promised to help her find a better guy if she wanted to. Somehow, Botan owed this to one red haired young lad who lent her his strength in her time of despair.
She felt closer to him after that incident with Yamada-san. That night, Kurama, despite protests from Botan, insisted on taking her home. He argued that it wasn't safe for her walking down the streets alone especially since she looked so fragile that time. Fortunately, her brother was still at the University, teaching a night class, when she got home or else he would have gone ballistic if he saw her puffy red eyes.
That was the last time she saw Kurama since the school was closed for the holidays. Even if she had his number, she never had the courage to send him a message. Besides, that would seem so un-Botan and Kurama might think weird of her. Why would she even want to send him a message? What would she say? By that time, she had already dropped the idea.
"Hey, Botan-chan! Let's go over there," Kia dragged her towards the direction of some stall. It was an hour before midnight and Botan noticed that most people are already finding a good spot where they can watch the fireworks.
"Botan-chan!" her ears perked up as she heard her name being called, "It's so nice to see you here!"
"Kuwabara-kun!" Botan excalaimed, "I haven't seen you for a long time. How are you? Who are you with?"
"I'm doing great, thanks to you! I'm here with my girlfriend," Kuwabara said as a faint blush spread on his cheeks, "I just went here to buy her some drink."
"Yukina-chan's here too? I haven't talked to her for a while. Please tell her I said 'hi' and I'll call her sometime in the future," Botan said and paused for a second, pondering on something, but continued anyway, "Oh, I don't want to keep you from your errand. I'll see you at school!"
"Okay! It was nice bumping into you," with that, Kuwabara's tall figure melted into the crowd. She had meant to ask him about Kurama, if he was here too, but changed her mind at the last minute. Besides, Kurama, being the perfect son he is, would surely spend the New Year with his family.
Botan and Kia strolled down the pathway while eyeing each stalls they passed by. However, their fun was disrupted when someone called to her again, "Botan-chan! I'm glad to bump into you." It was Marika, accompanied by four other girls, who spoke, "You see, a lot of my kouhai don't have boyfriends yet. Can I trust your expertise to help them meet guys?"
The blue haired girl almost immediately accepted the new job, her hand itching for a pen and that little green notebook of hers. But now that those two were inaccessible, she had to rely on her powerful memory this time, "Sure, no problem. What are their preferences for a boyfriend?"
"Ah, they were really specific," Marika said, "They said they fancy Shuuichi Minamino, the Student Council President. I saw you hang out with him a lot, so I guess it would be easy for you to ask him, right?"
"Yeah, the girls really have the hots for him since the first time they laid eyes on him. In all honesty, if I weren't in a relationship right now, I'd go for him as well," Marika paused, cutting her speech before it veered into something else, "So, you'll set them up with Minamino-kun, okay? And if it's possible, persuade Hiei Jaganshi as well. They say he's kinda cute, too, but personally, I think he's kinda sca –," before she could even finish Botan interrupted.
"No!" Botan said, her voice becoming soft as she continued, "I can't do that."
"Botan-chan?" Kia, both confused and worried about her sudden outburst, asked.
"I-I refuse to introduce Kurama to anyone. It's only him that I won't introduce to anyone." The rest of the girls gave Botan a curious look, obviously interested in what her next words would be.
"I won't do it, because," the girls gave Botan an encouraging look that prompted her to go on, "I like," by now, the girls' eyes shot upward and looked shocked at what they saw, "Kurama!"
"Botan-chan! Behind you," wide-eyed and nervous, it was Marika who broke the news to Botan.
As if in slow motion, Botan glanced up to her left only for her eyes to bulge out of its sockets as she was welcomed with the sight of Kurama wearing an unreadable expression on his face, "Have I been… Confessed to?"
After what seemed like years to Botan, she just stood there, staring at Kurama, hoping it was only a dream. But reality finally sunk in and all Botan could do was shout in a mortified tone, "No way!" With that, even with her snug kimono, Botan bolted to who knows where. The rest of the girls chased Botan, but with the numerous people promenading about, they eventually lost her.
Botan ran blindly about, hearing pained complaints from random people she bumped into in the process. She didn't even mind apologizing. All she wanted to do was disappear from the face of this planet, never to be seen again. After what seemed like hours of running, she felt her legs give out and before she knew it, Botan was already kneeling on the ground, teary eyed. If she had paid attention to her surroundings, Botan would have noticed she had stumbled upon a wide meadow absent of any signs of people.
Botan placed her left hand on the tree trunk on her left for support. She shifted so she was on a sitting position, her back flat on the huge trunk, as she hugged her legs to her chest. Even if she didn't want to, her mind kept on showing her the events earlier, especially the look on Kurama's face when she unknowingly told him how she felt. "Gah, I must have sounded so stupid to him!" Botan cried to no one in particular, "I wouldn't be surprised if he's laughing at me right now."
"I really am pathetic," Botan said, her head now resting on her knees.
'Besides,'she thought painfully, 'Even if I told him what I felt, I doubt it would really matter to him. After all, a lowly girl like me wouldn't even live up to his high standards.'
"So this is where you stormed off to," a calm familiar voice penetrated Botan's ears, "I didn't expect you'd be able go this far."
Botan looked up, wide periwinkle eyes shocked to see Kurama's lean figure dressed in a traditional gi and hakama walking towards her. Almost immediately, Botan stood up forced her shaking legs move, ready to run as soon as possible. But a firm grip on her wrist prevented her from doing so.
"You're friends are worried sick looking for you. They really are good friends," Kurama said, Botan's wrist still clasped in his right hand.
"It really doesn't matter right now," Botan paused as she tried to free herself from his hold without looking at him directly, "If they asked you to look for me, then I'll be the one to apologize for them even bothering you. So, let me go so you can head back to your friends or family."
"Actually, I came here on my own will," Kurama paused, as he pulled Botan closer, urging her to meet his eyes, "I was just thinking of talking to you myself."
Botan stiffened, "You don't have to say anything, Kurama, I get it."
"Just listen to what I have to say," Kurama said calmly as both of his hands went up to her shoulders to make Botan face his way. But Botan was really stubborn and decided to just lower her head and stare at her feet.
"You don't have to do this, Kurama," Botan's voice was starting to rise, "I already know what you're gonna say. You have high standards, right?"
"Just listen," Kurama insisted but kept his voice composed.
"Stop it already, Kurama! I'm just being my old idiotic self a while back; I'm a stupid miu pao anyways!" Botan shouted to block out any words from Kurama. But as soon as he heard Botan mentioned her being a miu pao, Kurama couldn't help himself but let out a small laughter.
At an impulse, Botan's head shot up and banged her fist to his chest, "You see? You're laughing again!"
"I love you," Kurama said as he grasped her wrists with both hands, taking advantage of the moment Botan looked up at him.
"10," in the background, the people's collective shouts were heard as they started counting down the last seconds of the current year.
"Did you hear me? I love you."
"Didn't you tell me you have h-high standards?"
"That's because I don't like any girls other than you."
"But you always laugh at me."
Kurama laughed in response.
"See, you're doing it again!"
"That's because, I think you're really cute."
Without even waiting for Botan's witty reply, not that she had anything to say with that, Kurama leaned forward to capture her lips for a sweet and gentle kiss.
"0. Happy New Year!"
At first, Botan was too stunned to even react, but when his words started to sink in and the magnitude of her own feelings overflowed deep inside her, she slowly closed her eyes and started to respond. Kurama let go of her wrists and crept his hands down to the small of back to pull her closer. Now, with her hands free, Botan slid her small hands on his chest and rose to his neck. Both were oblivious to the magnificent show of fireworks above them, making their kiss under the Sakura Tree even more picturesque.
It was Botan who first pulled away from the kiss when she suddenly remembered that breathing was a necessity. Her cheeks were tinted pink as this was her first kiss. Kurama, on the other hand, had to chuckle at the sight Botan presented to him. But this time, she no longer got irritated for she now knew the reason behind those small bouts of laughter.
"So does that mean you won't call me miu pao anymore?" Botan looked up, love and happiness mirrored in her eyes.
"No," Kurama said casually, " that's because you are my miu pao." Kurama looked back with the same intensity, even greater, of love reflected in those bottle green eyes. In response, she hugged Kurama tightly, as he did the same, kissing the top of her head softly.
Miu Pao. A word Botan abhorred from the very beginning. Yet, it was also a word close to her heart as she learned to love it, especially when hearing it from Kurama's mouth.
(the real end, this time)
A/N: So, how do you like it? Pretty long, but it was fun for me to write. Not just because I finally finished one of my multi-chaptered fictions, but also weird things happened when I wrote this. I don't know why, but while I was writing this, especially the last part, critters kept appearing in my room (a rat, a cockroach, a HUGE spider and a lizard). I was cursing every time my eye caught some movement, it was really freaky. But, I kinda got used to them, my new best friends actually…
Anyway, before I go tell you my life story, if you want to read the manga where this was based from (so you can compare this fiction to that and tell me what you think), you can download it from mangatraders . com (Be warned, the file here is in .rar, so you have to use WinRAR to extract the file. It is also about 55MB in size since it has 3 one-shots in it). However, if you want the .zip file, PM me and I'll send you the savefile link where I placed a .zip file, which is about 20MB (This only contains the First Story where I based this fic).
(Ooh, there goes the creepy cockroach again… scampering off across my room…)
Btw, Kouhai is a Japanese term which means lower-classman.
My heartfelt appreciation goes out to who took the time to read this story especially those who reviewed the last chapter, namelyToonyTwilight, Ryuuie Mizishi, heartluv, majo18, midnight 1987, Smexy Kitten, MiaHime, xxBroken21xx, sweetcanines, anime/videogame freak, Masgb, stubbornheroine, Thornspike, and Sonzai Taz.
Special shout out goes to jdcocoagirl and Botan and Kurama lover! Thank you so much for showing a great deal of concern for this story!
(Now the cockroach is on the wall…)
Please do not forget to drop by a review for this chapter! Who knows? I might make a sequel for this one with just the right motivation.
Thank you for all the good memories!
And that's a wrap!