More Than Anyone Else

Disclaimer: I do not own Yu Yu Hakusho!

Chapter 1

"Please, don't stare so much. We must try and blend in!" Botan urged as she led Shizuru and Keiko towards the stadium. After the two girls had pressured Botan to reveal everything about Yusuke and Kuwabara's dealings with Spirit World, they insisted on following the boys to the Dark Tournament. Botan had warned them that it would be highly dangerous, but the girls were determined.

"Unless we can magically grow horns, fangs, and claws, or force our skin to turn abnormal colors, trying to blend in with this crowd would be pointless," Shizuru stated, after taking a drag from her cigarette.

"I guess you're right…" Botan said with a sigh.

"Even though I'm here, I'm still finding it hard to believe that all of this could exist and that Yusuke could be wrapped up in all of this," Keiko revealed suddenly, reminding herself not to stare at the demons passing by. "I just wish he would've told me, instead of keeping me in the dark."

Botan put a hand on her shoulder.

"Please don't feel bad, Keiko. Yusuke didn't tell you anything because he was trying to protect you the only way he could." She glanced over in Shizuru's direction and smiled. "The same goes for you, Shizuru."

Shizuru nodded with a smirk.

"I know Kazuma means well, but that still doesn't mean I can't pummel him for keeping this big of a secret from me."

"Yeah, I'm going to give Yusuke a piece of my mind too," Keiko agreed, a slightly malevolent grin making its way onto her face.

Botan laughed nervously and turned away from the duo hesitantly, intent on reaching the stadium. While it was true that they had to be tough to keep Yusuke and Kuwabara in line, she didn't expect for them to be so scary! She just hoped she would never be on the receiving end of their anger and decided to stay on their good side. Soon enough, they reached the entrance of the stadium and gathered at the back of the crowd that had formed there.

"Listen well, because I'll only say this once," a burly demon said sternly to the crowd, his eyes hard and stance firm. "No tickets, no entrance, no exceptions."

The demons in the crowd began to groan while others attempted to persuade the guard into letting them in. Suddenly, Botan added to the general sound of discontentment as she began muttering to herself, leaving the two girls beside her highly skeptical.

"Is something the matter?" Shizuru drawled.

"I had the sneaking suspicion that I was forgetting something important…"

Botan dug through the folds in her kimono in search of tickets she knew wouldn't be there.

"Please tell me you didn't do what I think you did!" Keiko admonished, her frown deepening upon noticing Botan's guilty pout. "I didn't come this far only to be set-back because of some lousy tickets!" Keiko groaned.

"Never fear, Keiko! I'm sure Koenma will sort this whole mess out!" Botan reassured with a smile.

"Koenma?" Shizuru echoed.

"Yes, the ruler of Spirit World! He should be around here somewhere…"

She began looking around the area for him and realized, in his toddler form, she wouldn't be able to see him through the crowd of taller demons.

She walked off keeping her eyes on the grass below, intent on finding a brown-haired toddler with a large blue hat on and a blue pacifier between his lips. Instead, she was shocked to see a young demon child with black hair and red eyes. He had a tough expression on his face and didn't seem to be in the least disturbed by the fact that he was the youngest one here.

Botan couldn't help but notice he had the same type of characteristics as Hiei; granted their faces weren't identical, they did share the same traits: black hair, red eyes, and a serious expression to match. The boy's hair was more similar to Yusuke's, when it wasn't globed down in all of its gelled glory, his eyes were more innocent than Hiei's, and his expression seemed somewhat forced, as though he were trying to convince everyone that he was tough. Botan suddenly found herself wondering why a child would even be allowed witness such an aggressive event.

"Is there a reason why you're staring at me like that, lady? Try and kidnap me and I swear I won't hold back just because you're a girl!"

Botan realized that she was, in fact, staring at him and giggled at his response. She placed her hands on her knees and bent down a bit, in order to converse more easily with him.

"Did you come to watch the tournament as well?"

Crossing his arms and forcing a glare onto his face he replied, "Yeah, and what's it to you?"

"Oh nothing, I was just trying to make conversation. But, you know, to enter the stadium you must have a ticket!"

He waved his hand in the air cockily, revealing a single ticket grasped firmly in his grip.

Botan stared at him in amazement. Even he remembered to bring his ticket, yet she could not.

"How did you manage to get that? From what I hear these tournaments are very popular events."

"Well…" the boy began, obviously happy that she was pleased. "I have my ways."

"I see," Botan relented with a knowing smile. "Well, I don't mean to nag, but these things can get very dangerous. You should run along and get seated with your parents."

"I came here alone."

There was a high probability that he might not have parents and came here on his own, she should have known that, and yet she chose to believe otherwise.

"Oh, I'm sorry… I didn't-"

"My mother didn't want me coming, I came anyway," he cut in.

Suddenly Botan felt very relieved, that is, until she realized he had disobeyed his mother and was now all alone on the island.

"That was very reckless of you!" she admonished.

"What I do is my own business, lady!" he retorted, crossing his arms and suddenly becoming defensive again.

Botan's frown lightened and she couldn't help but smile at his bravado.

"I never told you my name, did I?"

He shook his head.

"It's not like I'm curious or anything, in fact I don't even care!"

"Well, I'm Botan!" She extended her hand. "What's your name?"

He looked at her hand for a while, contemplating whether or not he should accept it, and then shook it anyway.


"It's settled then," Botan said, suddenly straightening up, as Hiro looked at her with a confused expression. "We're officially friends from this point forward, so if there is anything you need at all, come and find me!"

"Hey!" he protested, clenching his fists at his side. "I'm not a child, I don't need you to hold my hand and-"

"-That's not it at all. If you want to talk or you just don't feel like being alone, you can come to me. I bet someone as strong as you can sense my energy no matter how far away I am!"

Suddenly he smirked.

"Of course, I can."

"Alright, now you've always got a way to find me. I'll be very mad if you don't pay me a visit, sometime, okay?"

He just nodded in return.

By the time Keiko and Shizuru finally decided to see where Botan had wandered off too, they were greeted with the sight of her talking to a young child and waving at him as he walked away.

"I sure hope that kid had tickets for us…" Shizuru muttered and Botan frowned.

"Don't worry, I'll get us in there, somehow!" she promised.

Her eyes scanned the area for any familiar face when she caught sight of black hair and red eyes. For a moment she thought it was Hiro again, but then she realized this person was too tall to be him.


He turned his head towards their general direction and Botan's smile brightened. He was a powerful demon and a competitor in the tournament, surely he would have enough pull to get them inside. She waved excitedly, hoping to catch his attention and she was sure that he was the answer she had been looking for, but after staring indifferently for less than a few seconds, he turned back around and proceeded to go his way. Botan faltered, her smile deflating instantly as she watched him slip in through the entrance.

If he had been anyone else she would have given him a piece of her mind, but the person she was dealing with was Hiei: the most callous and apathetic member on their team. Prior to this tournament they never had the chance to build the same relationship Botan had acquired with Yusuke and Kuwabara, but she had hoped that this would be the perfect opportunity to get closer to both Hiei and Kurama. She was the spirit detective's assistant, after all, and the former thieves were a great asset to the team. It was imperative to build good relations with them, seeing as there was a high probability that they would be working together in the near future. That is, if they all were lucky enough to live through this tournament.

"Someone you know?" Shizuru asked bemusedly, taking note of the deflated look on the girl's face.

"Oh, why couldn't I have bumped into one of the more social members of our team?" Botan whined. "Today is just not my day, everyone is so mean!" she pouted.

"Come on Shizuru, let's go," Keiko urged as she shook her head at Botan. "If she can't find a way in, then we'll have to find a way for ourselves."

Botan admired Keiko's determination, but at the same time she knew there would be no way to sneak in without those tickets. She surveyed the surrounding area and suddenly caught sight of someone. She let out a gasp and the two human girls looked over at her.

"Koenma, sir, is that really you…" she trailed off watching the man before her in fascination. He wasn't in his normal toddler form; in fact, he looked like a regular teenager. Either he had grown up in the past few days or he was using this get-up to avoid any teasing from others. She knew all too well how much Koenma hated when people made fun of his stature.

"Hello ladies," the prince began suavely and Botan just rolled her eyes as at his new persona. Not only had his height increased but his charisma and charm spiked as well. He quickly dismissed a lesser demon who had offered them discounted tickets, and led them inside the stadium, all the while continuing to play the part of a calm and collected ruler.

Hiei was in the forest practicing his darkness technique and by the time he reached back to the hotel and took a small nap, the tournament was already beginning. He briefly remembered Kuwabara waking him up, along with Kurama shortly after, but he chose to ignore them and continue resting. Just training with the technique drained him of all his energy and he was pushing himself all night, trying to get a better handle of the dragon.

It was Kurama's urging through telepathy that eventually woke him up. He informed him that the first round would be starting soon and it would be wise to come to the meeting room to discuss their upcoming battles. Hiei quickly got himself ready, pleased to know that all his energy had returned after a few hours of rest. It was a small price to pay for the power he gained.

When he made his way over to the arena he distinctly heard someone call his name and when he looked over in that direction, all he found were two human girls and another woman who seemed to be trying to gain his attention. He couldn't quite tell what the blue-haired one was, seeing as her spirit energy was different from the others, but for some reason she and the shorter human girl looked remotely familiar to him. Without answering, he turned back around, and entered the stadium. He never made it a habit of remembering unimportant people anyway, so if he couldn't remember her, she obviously didn't matter at all.

As he arrived at the small room within the stadium, he found Yusuke sleeping with his back leaned up against the wall, Kuwabara standing next to the detective, watching him in amazement, Kurama a little farther off into the room, and the masked fighter sitting down on a chair.

"'Bout time, Hiei!" Kuwabara exclaimed as Hiei walked inside. "I thought you were gonna bail out on us!"

"Is the detective planning on joining us anytime soon?" he asked, ignoring Kuwabara's comments as he turned towards Yusuke's sleeping form.

"His training was very intense, from what I gathered, he needs all the time he can get to regain his strength," the masked fighter said quietly.

"It doesn't matter," Hiei concluded. "We won't need him to win this round, I assure you that much."

"Cocky little thing, isn't he?" Kuwabara muttered from the corner and Kurama just chuckled.

"Albeit cocky, there is some truth to his statement," Kurama agreed. "I'm sure we can make do without Yusuke for a while."

Kuwabara brightened and nodded vigorously.

"I'll be the team-captain in Urameshi's place! That means I'll fight first, to pave the way for you guys."

"Yes, show us the proper way to get our asses kicked," Hiei interjected with a smirk and Kuwabara crossed his arms angrily.

"It wouldn't kill you to have some faith in your teammates you know," the orange-haired boy countered.

Hiei snorted at what he believed to be pathetic drabble.

"Such sentiments are for the weak. Your own strength is the only thing you can rely on in this tournament. Leave your fate to the hands of others and you will surely get what you deserve."

"We'll see," Kuwabara said with a determined look.

A few minutes later, Hiei was proven right. Kuwabara was seated on the grass, too weak to even stand at this point, and all because he couldn't control a child and his playthings. It would be a lie if Hiei said he wasn't entirely pleased that Kuwabara had gotten his ass kicked, but they were engaged in a tournament where everyone wanted them dead; it would have been beneficial to them if he had won this match.

Truth be told, if Hiei had a choice in the matter he would be anywhere but here, but the day his plans were obstructed by the haphazard spirit detective, everything changed. From then on he had become Spirit World's lapdog. He was thrown into prison, dragged into the fight against the beasts of Maze Castle, kept in the dark about the location of his own sister, and then forced to participate in this tournament.

Provided he made it out alive, he would finally cut all ties with both the human and spirit world. If the toddler followed through with their agreement, which Hiei fully intended to force him into doing if he tried otherwise, he would no longer need to serve a prolonged sentence in Spirit World prison and be absolved of his crimes. That fleeting chance for freedom was the sole reason why he was currently standing in a stadium surrounded by the sounds of crude remarks from the mouths of even cruder demons. If anything, this tournament would give him a good chance to hone his skills and perfect the darkness technique. There were more than enough low-class fools that he could experiment on until he got it right.

The only thing that disturbed him was the surprising strength of the Toguro team. He had known they were strong, but witnessing their strength first-hand was an entirely different thing. They were on a completely different level of skill than any of the other combatants and Hiei was sure that this tournament would not be as easy as he had previously thought.

To make matters worse, they were already losing and it was only the first round. It had been a few seconds since Kurama stepped into the ring and Hiei watched through bored eyes, fully well knowing that Kurama would come out victorious. It was too bad that the oaf was not capable of holding his own against a child.

"We will deal with the rest of their team, you relax," Hiei ordered as he looked down at Kuwabara.

"Hey! I'm not out of this yet. If Yusuke doesn't wake up, I'll take the last guy!" Kuwabara insisted.

"We'll pray that doesn't happen," Hiei retorted dismally. Light footsteps coming towards them diverted both boys' attention and Hiei turned his head only to find a blue-haired woman running towards them. He recognized her, noting that she was the girl from before, but something was telling him he had met her long before coming to this island.

"Alright boys I'm here, now let's whip this team into shape!"

Her voice was so bubbly it made him want to cringe.

"Hey how'd you get here?" Kuwabara asked.

"Well, I—" she began, but was cut off by Hiei.

"Leave, before you hurt yourself," Hiei ordered condescendingly as he turned back towards the ring. He could care less about how she got here, what her intentions were, or who she was; all he wanted was for her to be gone.

"Well that's a jolly thing to say to someone to whose going to help you win, don't you think?" she countered, her eyes narrowed and lips twisted into a frown. "Especially after you downright snubbed me earlier!"

"Help us win?" Hiei echoed as he raised a brow, choosing to ignore her last comment. As far as he was concerned, the only thing she would end up doing was get in the way. He looked her over once and concluded her body was definitely not made for fighting.

"Ah! You mean you're the replacement fighter for Urameshi?" Kuwabara said as he pointed to her.

Hiei snorted at Kuwabara's incessant stupidity while she just giggled.

"No, silly! Tada!"

Hiei watched as she flung off her kimono and was slightly disappointed to find that she was fully clothed underneath.

"In addition to Detective's Assistant and Pilot of the River Styx, I'm also a licensed trainer! I'll be looking after you all and making sure you stay in tip-top shape!" she informed cheerily.

Now he remembered her vaguely. She was the one who he communicated with telepathically when he kidnapped the detective's girl. She was the idiot that tried to thwart the effects of the demonic sword with her white magic. She was the loudmouth that accompanied the detective and the fool on their quest to save Yukina from that bastard crime lord, Tarukane. A useless woman working with an equally useless spirit detective, for an even more useless establishment: Spirit World.

He found it strange that he even remembered her, but he would be a fool not to, seeing as she was just about everywhere he turned. She worked for Spirit World, the one and only institution that had him imprisoned, tied down to the human world, and locked in this competition. It gave him even more reason to dislike her, and that bubbly attitude wasn't helping much.

"Speaking of tip-top shape…" she muttered, her words breaking Hiei out of his thoughts. His eyes followed her as she walked over to Yusuke, grabbed him by his collar, and slapped him repeatedly. "Spirit World to Yusuke: wake up! Come on now!"

As much as Hiei enjoyed seeing Yusuke get bitch-slapped by the loud-mouthed woman, it was getting distracting. She didn't seem to realize that no matter what she did, he simply wouldn't wake up. So, in addition to working for Spirit World, she was also dense. Hiei wasn't surprised though, after all, he wouldn't expect anything less from a ferry-girl employed by Koenma.

"None of that will work, the boy is determined," Hiei told her and she relented in her efforts, looking up at him from her crouched position. She sighed and then proceeded to look back at the sleeping spirit-detective.

"Well, at least let me get him out of the way…" Botan muttered, dragging his body off to the side. She then sat down next to him and watched the ensuing match from her position near the stands.

At the start of the match Kurama seemed to have the upper-hand against Roto, but all of a sudden he became despondent. It was almost like he was allowing the opponent to beat the living daylights out of him.

"Come on, Kurama!" Botan cheered quietly as she watched him intently. It didn't make any sense. She knew he was strong, so why was he just standing there?

Without warning, Roto's movements slowed down and he relented in his assault on Kurama. He stiffened and suddenly became immobile. Botan watched on as Kurama walked away and flowers sprouted from his opponent's body. The match was over and they had the victory. She jumped up from her seated position and ran over to Kuwabara and Hiei.

"Now we're tied!" she exclaimed happily.

"Yes, although we would have been in the lead if Kuwabara had the wits and strength to outmaneuver a child and his toys," Hiei rebuked as he glanced over at the orange-haired boy haughtily.

"Hey!" Kuwabara shouted with clenched fists, but Botan cut him off as she stepped in the space between the two quarrelsome teammates.

"Now, now, boys. Let's not fight!" she mediated with a sheepish grin as she briefly wondered how they would fare with the rest of the tournament if they couldn't keep the peace within their own team. "Let's focus on more important things," she offered, looking around for any signs of a distraction before continuing, "like the condition of our dear teammate, Kurama!"

They all turned to see Kurama rejoin them, a little cut up, but victorious nonetheless.

"What a fool, so intent on proving himself that he couldn't notice your moves. Don't worry about his demon friend, he vanished the moment Roto died," Hiei said.

"Then you knew…" Kurama replied with a smile. Roto used Kurama's mother as a hostage, forcing him take whatever beatings Roto dished out. Evidently, as most lower-class demons were, this one was incredibly oblivious and did not notice the redhead sew the death seed into his body.

Hiei simply nodded.

Botan pouted, unhappy with the secrecy and silence. She was just about to speak up, that is until she heard the unmistakable sound of Yusuke's voice.

"What a relief," Yusuke muttered in his sleep. All eyes turned to him for a brief moment, wondering how he had the ability to comment on the fight that he had so peacefully slept through, but the silence was broken by Kuwabara.

"Okay, enough of the secret plans and stuff, what just happened?" he asked angrily, tired of being kept in the dark for so long.

"Yes, do tell," Botan urged as her amethyst eyes wandered between the two eagerly. Their conversation could have been in another language, as far as Botan was concerned, because she hadn't been able to keep up with a word of it.

"It's already in the past," Hiei said flatly as he turned around.

"Agreed," Kurama finished, following suit.

"That isn't very friendly of them!" Botan exclaimed, leaning closer to Kuwabara and whispering her next question. "Do they usually keep you out of the loop like that?"

"Yeah," Kuwabara revealed with a nod. "Those demons think they're so cool."

"If you guys are through gossiping, we have a tournament to continue, you know!" Koto interrupted them, signaling the start of the new fight. They all looked to the ring only to see the team-leader, Zeru, stepping up, cockily.

"The team leader is fighting next?" Kurama questioned in disbelief.

"He's fighting angrily; it's obvious he doesn't take us seriously," Hiei said as he eyed Zeru down.

"Yes, and we're just the picture of professionalism," Botan muttered as she looked down at Yusuke's sleeping form.

Hiei smirked, his eyes never once leaving Zeru's form, and his hands twitched in anticipation.

"I'll go next, this one's been irritating me ever since last night," he volunteered as he flung his scarf off.

"Last night?" Botan questioned. "What on earth could have happened for Hiei to have already made enemies?"

"Zeru came into our room yesterday spouting a whole bunch of garbage," Kuwabara informed. "He was probably trying to intimidate us and I guess it rubbed Hiei the wrong way."

"Do you think he can win, I mean the team leader must be incredibly strong, right?" Botan whispered.

Kuwabara merely shrugged, his eyes glued to the ring.

Hiei, who apparently heard her, cast her one hard glance.

"There is no need for doubts, woman. I will win this battle and that is a fact," he said loud enough for Zeru to hear, before hopping into the ring.

Botan just gulped in response, noting that along with the ability to read people's minds, he had excellent hearing.

"It seems Hiei is eager to fight this match," Kurama mentioned and Botan and Kuwabara nodded in response.


The moment Koto gave them the signal, Zeru threw a melee of fire attacks and Hiei repeatedly dodged them. Hordes of fans were engulfed in flames or crushed by debris. Botan watched on in fear, but Hiei seemed to have fun with this, that familiar smirk never once leaving his face. Not one ounce of fear in the face of danger, he was truly something.

Soon enough, the demon stopped his fire attacks and suddenly became engulfed in his own heat. At a sickeningly fast pace he sliced his hand right through Hiei's gut and Hiei's body became swallowed up in flames as well. Not satisfied, Zeru threw a fireball that connected with Hiei's already burning body. Everyone watched in horror as his stiffened form made its downward descent.

His body landed on the ground with a terrible thud and the crowd became silent. It couldn't be happening, this was unreal. The danger of this tournament suddenly became a harsh reality to all of them, they were too afraid to speak.

That is until Hiei's voice cut through the silence and Botan let out a sigh of relief. Her squared shoulders relaxed and she unclenched her fists. She briefly wondered if it was necessary put on a show and make them all worry like that, but brushed that thought aside, seeing as this match was far from over.

"So talented I'm reluctant to make the kill," Hiei mocked, his body enclosed in fire. He looked absolutely horrifying with that murderous sneer on his face. Botan now remembered why everyone was so afraid of him.

"Dragon of the Darkness Flame!" he roared.

"He's going to attempt the darkness technique…" Kurama commented warily.

"Huh? What is that supposed to mean?" Botan asked fearfully.

Before Kurama could answer a black dragon shot out from Hiei's right arm and connected point black with Zeru's body. The inferno heated up the entire stadium and everyone could feel its power emanating from Hiei's arm. Once the dragon disappeared, only an imprint of Zeru was left behind and his ashes littered the grass below.

All was silent, everyone amazed by the intensity of Hiei's attack. It was unfathomable that something that fierce and destructive could be contained by one demon. Soon enough the initial shock wore off and some demons began shouting their disdain that the human team had won again, while others were thinking of switching their loyalties.

"Hiei could beat anyone with that attack!" Kuwabara exclaimed in triumph, a smirk on his face. Suddenly, his expression turned grim and his eyes widened in fear as he realized the severity of his words. "Wait a minute what am I saying!" Panic leaked through his words as he frowned. "What if he decides to be evil again and uses it on us?"

Normally, Botan would have admonished Kuwabara for even suggesting such a crazy thing, but a small part of her was thinking the same thing. That dragon was powerful enough to obliterate them all! Hiei's voice broke her out of her thoughts and she looked up to see him in front of them, still standing in the ring.

"Don't worry you fool. We've entered into an alliance and I'm not the type to break it. Of course once this is over, I can't guarantee a thing," Hiei informed.

Botan let out a relieved sigh; it was good that Hiei was the honor-code type. He was on their side for now, and he would stay with them until this whole mess was over with. She smiled. They only had to win one more match and they would live to fight on another day. Things were looking up for them.

Botan watched as he made his way off of the ring and for a brief moment she could have sworn she saw him falter. A look of discomfort flashed across his features, but just as soon as it had appeared, it was gone, and he shoved his hand into his pocket and continued walking. She watched him critically as he took his place at Kurama's side and couldn't seem to find anything wrong with him. He took notice of her staring and sent a pointed glare her way, causing Botan to look away immediately. She would only be lying to herself if she said she that she wasn't still a little bit afraid of Hiei; he was just so intimidating!

Her eyes landed on Yusuke and she frowned. She hoped that she was just imagining things and that he was truly alright after that last fight, but if Hiei truly was injured, it wasn't a good sign. And the fact that the team leader was currently unconscious only added to her list of worries.

Yusuke had woken up just in time for the last match, in which the team's actual leader, Chu, decided to show up. After some grueling punches, Yusuke had put his hard head to use and won the match. They were victorious and Botan couldn't contain her excitement as she squealed in joy. They had won their first round, and all the boys were safe.

Keiko and Shizuru joined everyone on the field with unhappy looks on their faces.

"Hey!" Yusuke said sheepishly. "How did you two get here?"

The two brunettes turned to Botan, and the ferry-girl pulled her kitty-face.

"Botan! You brought them here?"

"Well… they deserved to know where you two were! I couldn't exactly leave them in the dark for so long!" Botan defended as she crossed her arms.

"Don't try to turn this around on her, Yusuke. I can't believe you wouldn't tell me something as important as this!" Keiko argued.

"Same goes for you baby bro," Shizuru scolded.

Kuwabara put his hands up in defense.

"It really wasn't our choice; we got dragged into this whole thing!" Kuwabara said as he began to explain the whole situation to them.

Hiei simply looked on in disgust. It was amazing how weak and pitiful humans were if they couldn't even stand up to mere women who had little to no spirit energy. Why Yusuke and Kuwabara had to even explain anything to those two nagging women were beyond him. They shouldn't have even come here; they would just prove to be unnecessary distractions and bothers.

He turned away from the scene only to watch as a demon child walked up to the ferry-girl. She had been eying the encounter between Yusuke and Keiko through amused eyes, when the child tugged on her pants. She looked down and made a surprised face.

"Hiro!" Botan exclaimed with a smile. "I didn't expect to see you down here!"

"I should be the one saying that to you," the child countered. As he was watching the fight from the stands he saw a familiar blue-haired woman roam over to the ring. He thought it couldn't possibly be the same woman he just met, but clearly he was wrong. "I thought only fighters were allowed to be near the ring during matches."

Botan smiled brightly.

"Well somebody has to keep these boys in shape, and I'm just the girl to do it!"

"So… you're helping this team?"

Botan nodded and Hiro frowned.

"Why? This is the team that everyone hates!"

She looked at his confused face and smiled.

"Yes, well, they're all my friends. And friends stand by each other no matter what."

Now it was Hiro's turn to nod slowly.

"I guess I can understand that much."

Yusuke who was looking for any sort of distraction to quell Keiko's wrath, turned his head to the left, only to find Botan chatting away with some kid.

"Who's your little boyfriend, Botan?" the detective inquired upon pointing at Hiro. "If I knew you had a thing for babies I would have set you and pacifier breath up ages ago!"

"Yusuke!" Botan shouted, narrowing her amethyst orbs in Yusuke's direction.

"Urameshi, that's not right," Kuwabara defended and Botan smiled. "Maybe she's attracted to midgets. In that case, shorty would be perfect for her!"

Hiei, who had only been half-heartedly listening to the conversation, was now giving it his full attention as glared murderously at Kuwabara, his hand reaching for his sword. Before he could get a word in, Hiro spoke up.

"These loudmouthed fools are your friends?" Hiro asked before snorting and pointedly staring at the two boys. "It's no wonder why everyone hates Team Urameshi…"

Botan restrained herself from laughing at the outraged looks on the boys' faces, but the smug grin on her face was more than enough to let them know how she felt.

"It seems the child has a valid point," Hiei smirked, finding no need to restrain the obvious amusement the situation brought for him.

Kurama, who had remained silent during the encounter, finally spoke up.

"Did you come here unaccompanied?"

Hiro nodded.

"Oh no, where will he stay?" Botan asked as she turned to Kurama.

"There is an inn a little ways off from the hotel we are staying in. I'm assuming it is for the demons that came to watch the tournament, am I right?" Kurama presumed and upon seeing the boy nod, he continued. "We can make arrangements for him to acquire a room."

"I already have my own room booked," Hiro answered, his eyes wandering around the empty stadium. "I guess I should be going back now. Everyone else already left."

"Do you want me to walk you, there?" Botan asked good-naturedly.

Hiro shook his head adamantly.

"I'm not a child; I can get back on my own."

"Of course you can," Botan relented. "I'll see you tomorrow then."

He began to walk off, turning around one last time to wave, before breaking off into a light jog.

"He's a regular bundle of joy, that kid…" Yusuke muttered.

"Don't think I'm finished with you, Yusuke!" Keiko said as she rounded on him.

"You either, Kazuma," Shizuru warned.

"When you two are finished, it's my turn! I can't even believe you guys would even suggest that Hiei and I become a couple! That is absolutely-" Botan stopped, covering a hand over her mouth as she looked in Hiei's direction, but he pointedly ignored her. She began to laugh nervously before continuing in a sheepish voice. "Not that the idea is a necessarily bad one! I didn't mean that you wouldn't be good boyfriend material or anything, in fact I'm sure you would be a great catch for a very lucky girl, I was just trying to-"

"Woman?" Hiei began through gritted teeth.

"Yes, Hiei?" Botan replied in the sweetest voice she could muster, hoping it would distract him from her previous statements.

"Do us all a favor and shut up."

"Right. You won't hear another peep out of me, I promise. I'll be as quiet as a-"

The glare he sent in her direction promptly silenced her and she hid behind the person closest to her: Kurama. The spirit-fox merely shook his head at the duo's antics. She then proceeded to whisper and asked Kurama if Hiei had always been so irritable, and Kurama nodded his head.

She seemed to forget that he was perfectly capable of hearing her, so he merely cocked his head in the other direction, intent on ignoring her and the other two quarreling females. He could deal with the enigmatic masked fighter, seeing as the fighter rarely talked to anyone else on the team. The detective and oaf would be too preoccupied with their human companions to bother him, and over the years he had grown accustomed to Kurama's ways. The only thing that bothered him now was the ferry-girl.

More than anyone else, he had a feeling she would be the source of many problems to come.

I have this whole story planned out. There was supposed to be more to this chapter, but it was getting too long so I had to cut it! I really love the Dark Tournament and there is SO much potential for Hiei and Botan seeing as they were staying in the same vicinity for so long and Botan claimed to be the team-trainer. She cares too much about everyone's well-being while Hiei doesn't care at all. But that will change soon!

Oh and I was watching some episodes of the Dark Tournament [I'm sure you all noticed, parts of the dialogue b/w Kuwabara-Botan-Hiei were right from the episode!] for reference, and Hiei is such a lil arrogant demon! He actually talks a lot more than I remember [heh] and most of the time he's is insulting everyone else. What a mean little man. But we all still love him.

Anyway, thanks for reading. If you liked it, please leave a review!