[Chapter 6 – Nostalgia's Other Face: What Color Are My Eyes?]
I like you…
What a coincidence! I like you too…
You have personality and you're cute... Feel like a movie tonight? …
Well, I, uhh… you're cute too. I mean… you have personality too. I mean… yes. I'd love to.
And then there's that but word…
I'm too old for you…
Botan sighed and slid another quarter into the slot machine, trying to get the flow of her thoughts to digress from their tormenting course down memory lane. Deep down, she knew that her relationship with the young man had only been a summer fling, but she had grown so attached to the familiarity of such intimateness that she had believed the situation to have been real.
The silver, metal claw suddenly went down for the nth time, trying to grasp the exaggerated head of a silver fox plushy.
A low growl escaped her throat and her hand reached into her pocket once more for another quarter. Her fumbling fingers had barely brushed against the slot when her partner, who she had unconsciously neglected since dessert, lightly pushed her aside and inserted his own round, shiny token.
Barely able to comprehend the second-long event because the machinery in her mind had come to a crawl, it added an even bigger strain when she found the toy she had been trying to retrieve for the last ten or so tries suddenly dropped into her arms.
She looked at her companion with large, befuddled lavender eyes as if to ask why he had done it or how he had gotten there. As if he were able to hear those unvoiced questions, he shrugged and both of them walked in silence side by side towards the entrance.
It was a light brush against the tight entrance.
But she knew…
And he knew…
Both heads simultaneously turned to face each other. From afar, someone would think the young man and girl were sizing each other up, but from a closer perspective, they would have seen that the young man's lips twitched upward as the image of the girl clutching the fuzzy toy registered.
"You don't remember me?"
"I… uhh, no. I mean, it's just weird running into you again, Koenma."
"Yeah, I'm here visiting my family. College is…" he smiled ruefully, trying to think of the perfect word to describe his experiences, "painful." When she only managed to draw in her breath, his eyes slid sideways to get a glimpse of the green-eyed youth. "And you're the boyfriend, I presume?"
Shuuichi reluctantly shook his head, oddly feeling Botan's anxiety emanating in various and reckless directions.
"No, he isn't my boyfriend. He's just a friend."
"Oh, well, why don't I buy you guys lunch? Maybe… we can catch up on things."
"No… thanks. We just ate and we were just leaving anyway. I have homework to finish."
"Over the summer?" He raised an eyebrow in surprised question.
"Mm… summer school, Koenma. Some people aren't blessed with the brains that others have, right?"
A sound resembling a cross between a soft chuckle and wild laughter escaped his lips. "Only friends?" he suddenly asked after a pause, catching a glimpse of the handcuffs. Botan blushed while trying to nod her head, involuntarily edging closer to Shuuichi.
Instinctively, Shuuichi had wrapped his arm around Botan's waist, and her initial reaction was a jump. Koenma did not fail to notice this, and he laughed.
"Well, you two take care. It was nice meeting you, Shuuichi."
"N… no. Koenma, this isn't what you think. Shuuichi and I – this was totally not supposed to happen. I mean…"
To Botan, he was getting the wrong impression, and she wanted to explain, but the right words failed to spill from her lips. And her frustration only escalated when Koenma laughed at her and shrugged. "You don't need to be so embarrassed about it," he called over his shoulder in a tone that indicated an underlying meaning in his words. "But I'll catch up with you another time, Botan." Then he began to walk in the opposite direction.
She nodded. "Y…yes. Definitely we will. I mean, that sounds like a time. Plan, I mean." She was wishing so bad to just bury her face in the more inviting fur of her toy at that moment.
Why do I still get so jittery around him?
When Koenma was out of sight, Botan turned and poked an accusing finger deep and hard into Shuuichi's chest, her mouth getting ready to verbally slap him but her attempt to do so faltered and only a sigh managed to draw out.
"Ow." The timbre of his voice was soft and monotone. It wasn't a wail; it wasn't a complaint; it wasn't a reaction to pain. The assault by her dainty finger on his chest didn't even hurt. He said it more to satisfy the young woman, though she did not tell him outright to say it. He just knew… though she did not.
Her head had come to a bow, and without warning, she took one step closer to his unprepared but inviting figure and buried her face in his chest, muttering incoherent phrases. Shuuichi could not decipher whether they were curses or if they were explanations… explanations she wished to convey more to herself than to him… but he allowed her his body to use as a means of comfort. When her slender arms brought themselves to wrap around him, the toy forgotten as it fell on the floor, instinct took hold of his muscles and his hand began to stroke her hair and his lips moved to form the words "It's okay".
"Summer's a beautiful season, don't you think?"
Botan lifted her head from her boyfriend's shoulder and moved her gaze from the sparkling waters to meet a pair of hazel eyes. "Only alright?"
"Yeah," he shrugged.
"It gets too hot and complicated," he stated simply and confidently making it seem almost as if it were a fact and not his opinion.
"So what season do you like best then?"
"But it's so cold," she reasoned.
"Maybe, but I can always put on more layers of clothing whereas in summer, you can't strip down past your skin."
"…I guess that's logical."
A subtle tension took hold of the relaxing atmosphere just then. It was not a tension that held any form of danger. The young lady's demeanor just became less composed now that she wanted to press her partner on the matter as childish and irrelevant the topic may be. He felt it too for they sat another few minutes and still he couldn't shake that feeling that she was perturbed and so decided to approach it another way.
"Why do you find summer so… intriguing, if you don't mind my asking?"
He felt her tense against him for a moment, slightly taken aback at the way the tables were turned and then shrugged. "I don't know. It's just, well, I suppose very exotic, very relaxing. The season's aestheticism appeals more to me than it does to others, I guess. I mean… look at the sunset."
"You get equally beautiful sunsets in the winter," he argued.
"Maybe, but not as often and not with the same ambiance that accompanies summer."
"Hmm… to each his own, as they say."
He didn't know whether they had come to an unsaid compromise, but the tension did leave. Anything they disagreed upon never did get beyond "disagreement" anyway. It would come to a minute-debate before the girl would get tired and just stop. Perhaps she preferred silence and understanding rather than intelligent conversation – which is what might happen had they continued their little talk; he had always been gifted at that. But he had to take into consideration, which came to plague him quite often, that she was still a child by his standards.
"What color are my eyes?"
"What kind of a question is that?
"Just give me an answer," she pleaded, jutting her lower lip for emphasis.
He rolled his eyes and smiled. "They're a unique lavender. Suits your complexion, lovely."
"Love you," she whispered tiredly, only a little less than completely content with his answer, but that's how it always was or so it seemed.
Botan snuggled closer to him, greedily embracing the warmth he willingly gave to her – the only form of acceptance she had that was not in the form of friendship ever since her parents left her. Yes, a child indeed.
"I've been thinking."
He fidgeted, carefully debating the words he would use and then hesitating the moment his voice was ready to speak. "…Botan."
She looked so happy that he didn't know whether what he was going to do would hurt him more than it would hurt her, but he took a deep breath and placed strong hands upon her delicate shoulders and nearly croaked an "us".
Hearing this word, she cringed and an undisguised fear now contorted onto her previous cheery countenance. Had his tone not been so serious and apologetic, perhaps she would have had nothing to fear. "Us?" she repeated.
"Understand that I like you. I like you a lot, and you… you're pretty, smart, fun to be with, and well…young…"
"Young?" she stuttered. "Why are you talking to me like I'm a child?"
"Botan, all I'm trying to say is that… you and I. We'd never work out."
"What are you… trying to say?"
"Things are just really complicated right now, Botan. And maybe we need some time away from each other."
"Are you breaking up with me, Koenma?" She wriggled out of his grasp and intense gaze by fixing her eyes on the small pebbles that littered the street.
"If that's your intention, then…" she looked up and smiled at him, "…you can save yourself the trouble of explaining. I'm a big girl. I can take it, and I've had enough explanations from my parents to last me another lifetime. So maybe… you could be abrupt, please?"
He was taken aback. When he didn't expect her to be mature about the situation, she was, but when he did want her to be, she was just so… goofy. It almost didn't make sense, but then again, he never was able to follow Botan's logic, so all he did was nod in response to her earlier question.
"But don't think that I didn't think you were someone special to me. You were."
She laughed. "Didn't I just tell you to save the explanations?"
He grinned sheepishly. "Yeah. You did. I'm sorry."
"Well… I'll just be seeing you around then, Koenma." She turned to walk down the street and maybe indulge in some pastry and noodles until she no forgot about her current situation.
"Botan!" He called, obviously forgetting to have said something that he had wanted to. He ran up to her.
"Know that I'll always be here for you. As a friend, I mean."
She smiled wistfully. "I'm sure you will."
Time stood still the moment he had stepped closer to shroud her arms around her small frame in an embrace, and the moment seemed to linger everywhere around her even after he had casually walked away and disappeared around the corner.
And then she began to wonder if it were her curse to be truly alone always.
Shuuichi decided not to make any sudden conversations because, after much contemplation, he had guessed that she looked rather content to be walking in silence after just having spilled her past relationship with her first boyfriend to him. He didn't know quite how to react or what to say to her because he had never in the position where he would listen to a girl's problems. Though he had been in many relationships, he could not quite relate and offer her some kind of advice or words of sympathy because he had never been in the shoes of the one whose heart became broken – he had always been the one to break the hearts.
But it did make sense to him how she had been in the right to feel loneliness and betrayed for having been left by someone she thought understood her complex and rather poignant situation and therefore would stick by her. This was not the case; Shuuichi came to the conclusion that Koenma was just not in that position to be able to fully understand the loneliness of not having a parent, but he couldn't blame him. You would have to be in that situation to feel it and fully understand it.
And maybe that was why he had not wanted to let her go so quickly that night at his studio.
That was probably why he had stupidly cuffed them together.
But he did not regret having done it, and given the chance to do it again, he would not hesitate to do so – even if it were only to irritate the young woman all over again.
He watched her calm figure from the corner of his eye as they were about to make their way outside of the shopping center, but once they had gotten to a particular end of the mall, she had abruptly stopped and began to fidget nervously, keeping her gaze away from him.
"Shuuichi?" she asked rather awkwardly.
"I," she blushed and looked at the ground.
"What is it?" He was determined not to make her day a bad one – at least, not when they were linked together anyway. "If it's about…"
A minimum amount of liquid began to materialize at the bottom of her eyes. "No, no. It isn't that," she whined.
"I…" she bit her lip and then turned away from him, whispering harshly, "Shuuichi, I really need to use the bathroom!"
He nearly fell over. He had thought it was something more serious… but upon looking at their cuffed wrists, he blanched. This was something serious.
Shuuichi and Botan peeked into the women's bathroom, and seeing it empty, they quickly ducked into it. The former was relieved that they had gotten this far without so much as a cry from another woman that there was a pervert in the bathroom. No, that would definitely not handle well with his reputation, and more so with his ego.
They cautiously walked down the bathroom aisle, Shuuichi hiding behind Botan as she tried to pick out a decent stall.
"I still say you should go in a bush or something," he commented dryly.
The sound of the door slamming made him jump and cling to Botan for dear life. She just laughed and brushed him off.
"Oh God," he cried, "I nearly shit my pants."
"Then you'd be in trouble, wouldn't you?" She stopped in front of wooden swinging door and directed him to stand outside it while she went ahead inside.
Shuuichi gaped and then shook his head childishly. "No way!"
"What?" she nearly yelled. "Why not?"
"Because we're going to get caught."
Botan growled in irritation. "Shuuichi, I really have to relieve my bladder before it bursts. And no, we will not get caught. You will because you'll be the one standing out there on fair ground." She ignored him and closed the swinging door in his face before she realized that the door wouldn't close all the way. "Shuuichi?"
"I haven't even gone yet," she cried. "The door won't close with the link caught in between. I need you to hold the door for me."
As soon as he did, Botan walked in but had not gotten more than two steps before she got pulled back. "Hey! What gives? I really have to go, Shuuichi! You really won't want to walk with me if I don't get to."
They could both feel the atmosphere of a bicker coming on.
"I know you do, but it's not my fault that whoever made these cuffs made them too small."
"Oh this is just great. My bladder's about to explode, and because the cuff links are too short, I can't go. This is your fault."
The door to the bathroom slowly creaked open, and Shuuichi's eyes dilated in fear. Without thinking, he pushed his way into the bathroom startling Botan and causing her to bring her hand against his face.
"Shuuichi!" she shrieked. "Get out!"
"That slap was not necessary," he whispered to her as he cradled his reddened cheek, hoping that she'd get the hint to lower her voice, but she did not.
"Yes, it was! Get out!"
"Botan, shh," he whispered anxiously as he cupped his hand over her mouth. "Some little old lady just walked in here."
Lavender oculars began to move from side to side at first in confusion and then when reason met reality, she jumped towards the stall door and tried to peek through the small slanted gaps and catch a glimpse of the newcomer. Dressed rather conservatively, the elderly woman wore a look of confusion and disapproving curiosity on her aging face. The heels of her shoes made loud, clicking noises against the cold marble tiles of the bathroom floor as she indiscreetly moved towards their stall almost telling them that they were guilty. Botan turned on her heel and tried to hide behind Shuuichi.
"Oh my god. That woman's coming down here. This is all your fault," she accused in a whisper.
"So everything's my fault now?"
"It was always your fault, remember?"
"I demand that you two stop this foul play right now." The woman was right outside of their stall and was spitting her heated surprise like fire at the barrier that separated her from the teenagers behind it. "You come out or I'll have security come in here and escort you out."
And even before Shuuichi knew what he was doing, he had already turned his head over his shoulder and muttered loud enough for the woman outside the stall to hear, "Get lost, lady."
"Why you horrible young man!" she burst out in insult. "I'm calling security."
Shuuichi nearly yelped when the woman, now wearing an appalled countenance, began banging on the door with a petite but very powerful fist. And so in his surprise and anxious fear, his first instinct was to run, but upon realizing that there really was no place to go, and realizing this too late, he nearly stumbled upon Botan.
Then as if timing could not have possibly been worse, the stall door swung open, and to the woman's shocked and disgusted eyes, revealed a red-haired boy hovering above a young woman, his palms pressed firmly against the wall to keep from falling atop her. And the young woman's hands clung tightly to the thin material of this boy's undershirt while she was awkwardly situated between his legs. She shook her head in a mixture of revulsion and hatred.
"You teenagers today! No sense of decency at all. What is this world coming to?" She quickly turned and headed out the door mumbling other things to herself and then yelling back at them. "I'm calling security to report you two troublemakers. Don't you dare think for one second that you'll get away with this!"
"I told you that you should have gone in a bush instead," Shuuichi pouted and immediately earned a light punch on the shoulder causing him to laugh.
"Shuuichi! Have a little more sense of tact," she paused, "and to think that your ego's so inflated." She snorted and he just laughed some more.
After running out of the mall in a panic, hearts racing with the rush of adrenaline, they walked into another store where there was a co-ed restroom. Botan, after having relieved herself, looked up at her companion and smiled. Though this was certainly not the way she had imagined any part of her life to go, she was grateful that she had met him and for the excitement that he brought along. She couldn't really remember the last time when she felt so much thrill and the fun that accompanied it.
"That would be me, sweetheart," he grinned arrogantly.
"What color are my eyes?"
She had not expected him to answer so when he took her by the shoulders, and had it not been for the fact that it was only a second, it would have seemed that, leaning in, he was looking to study the lavender shade of her irises and perhaps even the texture of her glossy lips before dipping in for a swift contact of lip upon lip. But then he shrugged.
Author Notes: Yippee! I finally finished Chapter 6! And now, I must find some way to express my apologies that are like yay-long for making you guys wait forever and a day to read this installment. ^^' But believe me, even though I've got the basic skeleton down pat, I still find it difficult to find the right words to incorporate into my writing. It's frustrating for me. . But heh… I'm super proud of myself that I finished even the words and the plot line for this chapter didn't come out exactly the way I was hoping it would! I'm just happy I got to the end. *evil laugh*
And did I leave you hanging? Did I? Did I? Ooh, I hope I did. ^______^ This fic is almost done. I've got about another four chapters to go before this whole thing is completed and your soul (my soul) can finally rest in peace. x) I can't wait… I'm giddy already. When did I start this? Like a million years ago?
Well, as you probably notice, your authoress is on a sugar high. ^^' And heh… what do ya know? This is my first fic to reach 100 reviews. =*) Should I pop open some champagne? Mm… I'm underage. How bout some soda? ^____^
But to "Dark chobit", my 100'th reviewer, if you, by any chance, happen upon this little piece of note, please do e-mail me and request a fic or art of your choice as a gift to you. My treat cuz you're my 100th reviewer. =) You made my day. I'd like to warn you that I'm no pro though so please don't expect anything top of the line. ^^'
And to all my reviewers, thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I heart you all! *huggles* You guys are the best, and if it was humanly possible, I'd allow a request of a fic or art for all you guys too, but I think I'd keel over and die from overload or something. ^^'
Oh, and a couple other things. This first one I wanna clear up because I've been meaning to for a long time now. About their being handcuffed and it being impossible for them to change… uhh, I was aware of that. I just chose to ignore it for all intents and purposes of this fic. T_T Either that or you can believe that I'm stupid, which I will not dispute. ^_____^ Or you can believe they cut their shirts open to get it off and then cut it and sewed it together when they had to change, but that's really unrealistic. Find me people two people of the opposite sex who actually have the patience to do what I just described and not rip each other to pieces sexually, and that's when I shall take back my previous comment. :P
Second, about the dog and how to get that key spit out. Hmm… ^____^ …I'm glad you're guessing, but really, it's a secret. I know how that key's gonna come out, but I don't wanna spoil anything.
Well, please read and review. Comments, suggestions, flames, etc – they're all very welcome.
Any Kurama (Shuuichi) x Botan fans reading? Please visit and support this clique:
www . geocities . com / kb _ reflections
Disclaimers: Yuu Yuu Hakusho and its characters belong to Yoshihiro Togashi, Shueisha, Fuji TV, Shounen Jump, etc. Don't sue, You are cool. =]