Why, hello there, all you fellow ffers! =) My name is Amy (AKA Amersaurus Rex), and over the years since I first watched Yu Yu Hakusho back in middle school I've attempted to write a decent fic about it, but this is the only one that's ever reached the light of the internet. It came to me yesterday, and so I spent all of last night typing, and then today at work when I had a free second I wrote, and finally finished it here at home just now. =D
Officially, I'm a Koenma x Botan shipper, but I still enjoy me some Hiei x Botan. X3 I used to be a fan of Kurama x Botan too, but now…I just don't really see it anymore. I mean, it's not like they have something between them really, they don't have any special interactions. I realized the same can be said of Hiei x Botan, but their encounters are more spirited and less we're-just-total-awesome-friends like I look at Kurama and Botan now. And of course, opposites attract makes it appealing. X3 But yeah Ko x Bo's my NUMBER ONE.
But I don't need to convince you people of the merits of HB! Otherwise you wouldn't even be here! =D I originally intended for this to be from Botan's perspective entirely, or at the very least a split, switched perspective, but literally right after I typed that first line Hiei kind of just took over…. XD Actually more of a friendship fic, but I see it as the start of them acknowledging each other at all. With personalities like theirs, they're not just gonna jump into that, right? Right? =D Soooooooo, enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Yu Yu Hakusho.
"Why do you hate me?"
Her approach had been more than anticipated, her silent wait for acknowledgement easily noted and subsequently ignored; it was the soft question she finally asked when it became clear that he wasn't going to respond to her presence that actually caught him by surprise. Hiei opened his eyes.
She stood before him, kimono just the same obnoxious pink it always was, hair just as annoyingly bouncy as ever. But her stance, her expression, her very tone spoke towards a different demeanor than the ferry girl usually carried. Botan was watching him very carefully, a hint of apprehension peeking through that normally clear gaze. Her hands were clasped in front of her more tightly than was necessary, and her entire being seemed to shrink in a bit under his stare. He considered the inquiry.
The two of them hadn't seen each other in over a year, and it was only this gathering that had brought them together again. They were all here at Genkai's temple, the members of the Reikai Tantei and those close to the group, for what Hiei had been told was only to be a quick meeting to update each other on their own state of affairs. Apparently, 'quick' constituted a week and then some.
That damn fox… The real reason behind everything, according to the kitsune, was of a more personal nature. They hadn't all been together like this since Yusuke had returned from the Makai, and now had proven to be an opportune time for everyone to reassemble and share some time. The sentimentality of it all irked Hiei to no end. The only thing keeping him here was the fact that Yukina had been so happy to see him again.
He didn't plan to make a habit of it, of course, but her smile at the sight of him made up for confining himself here for ten long days. Still, it was only the third and he was already tired of being so relentlessly trapped in their company – not that he made any more of an effort to socialize than he ever had. Truth be told, though, he didn't hate any of them.
Well. The buffoon was a possible exception with the way he leered after his sister.
It was something he would openly admit to no one, except perhaps Kurama on a good day. But that didn't mean he wanted to spend endless amounts of time with them. He checked in on Yukina regularly, of course, and met up with the fox from time to time, and for him that was plenty. He had no desire to change the way things were; if he wanted to see any one of the others, he simply would.
Including this girl. He eyed her a bit critically, but didn't change his expression. There was no denying that she was bothersome; she managed to get on his nerves in some way or another nearly every time they met. She talked too much. She talked too loudly and cheerfully. She talked about trivial things. She talked to him in particular, insisted on it, no matter how many nonverbal – and occasionally not so nonverbal – signals he gave off that he wished she wouldn't. She talked. Essentially, the problem boiled down to just that. A quiet Botan was certainly tolerable, but it was as rare as it was preferred.
And yet she was being quiet now, waiting for an explanation, looking uncertain of herself but resolute nonetheless. This was probably the longest period of time he'd ever seen her remain silent.
He was tempted to list off, in quick succession, any number of reasons he could think up without trying and be done with it. Maybe then she would simply leave him alone. Choosing not to answer at all was also an option, with less hassle. Something in her eyes and her attitude, however, gave him pause in doing either. She was serious, and for whatever reason it troubled her.
Too soft, his thoughts criticized him as he turned to look out the window before finally offering his reply. Two abrupt words. "I don't."
He sensed her surprise before it manifested physically, immediately aware of her change in stance; she straightened up, clasped hands losing their grip, head cocking to the side. Her facial features probably displayed much of the same, knowing how open she was with her emotions. But he wasn't about to look. When she spoke, she sounded quite stunned. "You…don't?"
Such utter shock was actually a little insulting. If it wasn't for that dash of irritation, he probably would have disregarded the comment rather than snapping back a confirmation. "No. I don't."
Was it really so astonishing? Was she a fool? He didn't recall indicating any such thing. He treated her the same way he treated anyone else in their group, if perhaps with a little less patience when she was being especially annoying. None of the others were foolish enough to think that he hated them.
"…why?" The surprise was still there, now colored with the beginnings of curiosity. She was losing some of the hesitancy she'd acquired since entering the room. From that single word he could pick up on the slow return of her typical light tone.
Even more irritated at having to clarify himself, Hiei spoke rather tersely. "Hating you would require pointless effort. A waste of my time and energy." It was true, but it was also a little bit untrue. Omission was key. It wasn't as if that was all there was to it. He didn't hate her, and he didn't quite dislike her either. He didn't dislike any of the people he'd come to associate with, despite how grating they could be. But delving into how he felt about them was too murky and undefined a subject, and it certainly wasn't one that he intended to explore with her.
He trusted them. Trusted them with his life, his safety – and begrudgingly with his secrets, for those who knew the identity of Yukina's brother. What he didn't trust them with were the inner workings of his mind – thoughts, feelings, history. Kurama was closer, but Kurama had always been closer. Been allowed to be closer. Though Hiei suspected that even if he hadn't been as forthcoming, the clever, sometimes infuriating redhead would have slipped his way in anyways. Hiei was comfortable around him, the first person he'd ever been truly comfortable around. But even Kurama wasn't told everything.
Mukuro was different. In many ways, Mukuro had forcibly drawn the information from him, some of it taken without his prior knowledge or consent, and he occasionally shifted between rage and relief towards her actions. Rage was obvious; she had invaded his mind, learned things that no one had the right to learn, become more involved with his stunted emotions than he'd ever planned for anyone – and then had the gall to flaunt it about almost casually.
And then there was the relief. To have it all taken off of his chest when he never would have done it himself, to share a weight that he'd known was heavy but had never realized just how much until he'd given some of the burden to another…and that that person was someone who understood. Someone who, despite undergoing experiences different from his own, could share in his turmoil, felt many of the same things. He knew they lightened each other's loads in various ways; a slow but sure healing process.
Kurama and Mukuro were unquestionably the closest people in his life, and without a doubt, Yukina was the most important. The former pair knew and accepted that they could never be expected to be placed above his sister – but for her, he had to uphold a carefully maintained distance. Slight or not, any risk that she might discover his relation to her was too much of a risk, so anything too involved was out of the question. She deserved better than his company, anyways.
Kurama disagreed. Mukuro was less clear on her feelings regarding the matter. Theirs were the only two opinions that had a chance of factoring into any of his decisions, but in this situation were guaranteed ineffective. Even so, Hiei still hadn't returned the necklace to his sister. He wasn't sure why he continued to wait, except for the uncomfortable conversation that it would entail.
In any case. He'd strayed from his original thought. In spite of the nearness he felt, the koorime was unable to come up with a label for the relationship he shared with either one. For the others, this left defining a connection even more difficult; it was all too complicated. So he did what he did with all difficult things: he ignored them. Haziness notwithstanding, he could still recognize a connection of varying degrees with the people in this temple. Sometimes he wasn't even against being in a room with them.
"Oh, I see…"
The incredibly belated response drew Hiei out of his musings, and he realized with no small degree of frustration towards himself that he'd almost forgotten he wasn't alone – and that she'd managed to inspire such intense thought. She sounded subdued once more. Inconspicuously, he shifted a glance her way, and found that her face matched her voice; her mouth was drawn into the smallest of frowns, eyebrows slightly drawn and eyes downcast, and he was aggravated all over again. What was wrong now? He'd alleviated her apparent fears, let her know in no uncertain terms that he didn't hate her, and she was still upset?
His agitation wasn't hidden in his harsh demand. "What?"
This seemed to startle her; her gaze snapped back up to his far too quickly, and in her completely open eyes the koorime could see…disappointment. Hurt? He didn't understand, which only served to foul his mood further. But he didn't speak out, instead waiting impatiently for her reply and prodding her wordlessly along with something akin to a glare.
The first reaction she provided was unsatisfactory. A half-smile, not quite fake but certainly lacking. She'd only just begun to hand him an excuse in a fair, but ultimately pitiful, approximation of her usual tediously bubbly self when he cut her off mid-word. His ruby eyes held no room for argument.
"I don't like being lied to." He hadn't imagined anything the stupid woman ever said or did would crawl under his skin so much, but this whole exchange was making him more ill-tempered than he'd been in a while. And it didn't show any signs of letting up.
She looked taken aback at his interruption, suddenly at a loss for words – a first, the fire demon thought humorlessly. Back when they'd first "met," if one could refer to it as such, it was glaringly obvious that she was afraid of him. The feeling had lasted for a time, even after they'd become teammates, but even then she'd made a point to speak with him, no matter how nervous she got. It appeared almost as if she'd taken it as a personal challenge.
Eventually, her tension had faded along with her fear, but all Hiei had really noticed at the time was how increasingly overbearing she became. The change in perception hadn't made much of a difference; he was, after all, used to being feared and hated. It was why her display of concern now was still so foreign. Did it really matter to her what he thought of her?
Apparently so, if the explanation she mustered after several minutes was to be believed.
"It's just…I suppose I thought that by now you might think more of me. After all this time, everything we've all been through together, I'd hoped your opinion of me would have improved, even a little bit."
Her speech, starting off uncharacteristically reserved as she had been previously, grew in speed and fervor as she went on. After a moment she joined him on the windowsill, still talking; Hiei stiffened slightly, but otherwise didn't move a muscle. Botan noticed. When had she become so astute?
"I mean, I try, I really do! I do my very best to make things better between us, but it doesn't work if you don't try as w- AH-HA!" Here she'd practically shrieked it at him about his movement, interrupting herself and waving a wild finger in his face – causing him to clench his jaw – a triumphant sort of smile spreading her mouth. "Like that! Right there! You see? You tensed up the very second I sat beside you! The second! It's always something! Why is that?"
Before he could get a word in edgewise she plunged forward, actually overriding the syllable he'd started to form; how daring of her. Hiei was suddenly struck with the sneaking suspicion that she had planned out the small event from the very start. She hadn't gotten more watchful at all; she'd been waiting, keeping a strict eye out for the reaction she'd hoped to garner. He berated himself for playing so unwittingly into her hands and thereby proving her point.
Then again, why should it matter? He did do those things around her, it was no secret; he'd absolutely never been subtle about it. Yet under her accusations, it somehow felt like it might matter after all. Hiei was distinctly uncomfortable beneath what seemed to be his conscience towards the situation, arising for reasons he couldn't quite fathom.
"Really, Hiei, we've known each other for five years, I expected our relationship to be stronger by now – yes, I know how hard it is for you to let people in, don't give me that look" – at the word "relationship" his eyebrows had ticked the smallest bit, and she had picked up on it; maybe her observational skills really were improving – "– but I'm the one you shut out the most, the only one you completely shut out, truly! Three days we've been here, and I don't think you've spoken one word to me until now!"
She'd gotten familiarly indignant now, actually pounding her fists into her lap like a spoiled child, but the koorime was still fixated on the offhanded comment she'd just made. She knew, she'd said. She knew how hard it was for him to let people in. She didn't simply assume that he was antisocial, that he disliked company at all times – not that both of those reasons weren't true quite often. But there was more to it than that. He didn't know what to make of her unexpected clarity on the subject. He didn't want to acknowledge it.
Thankfully, it didn't seem like he'd have to. "Hiei! Are you even listening to me?" The ferry girl released a long, loud, exasperated sigh when he didn't reply, though his eyes did refocus on her. She continued much more gently, folding her arms across her chest in a self-protective gesture and glancing briefly away. "Well, what it all comes down to is…really wishing I could change your mind about me. I do think of you as my friend, you know, even if you don't think the same. But I wish you would." She glanced back at him now, hesitantly passing him the baton, a full-bodied smile touching her lips but not the entirety of her eyes. Unfortunately, almost back to her bothersome self, he thought vaguely, mind running through strained loops.
Useless. Feelings like that were useless.
That would have been his immediate response in years past, discarding any measure of emotionality or companionship for the sake of companionship as weakness. However, events of more recent years had led him to differing beliefs in the present. He still didn't believe that being a hopeless romantic would get anyone anywhere, and he still didn't plan to become an overemotional sap anytime in the future. He didn't expect to run his mouth nonstop about trite things just because someone was there to hear him, and he didn't see himself spilling his private thoughts or the secrets of his past left and right.
But still, feelings and companions…he was coming to realize, on his own time, in his own way, their heavy significance.
Hiei didn't reply right away, but that was nothing new – most of the time those he knew would be lucky to receive a reply at all. But this time was different. This time, he was actually attempting to calculate his answer, processing everything she'd said to come up with something decent to say in return. He couldn't believe he was even doing so much as considering. He couldn't believe that he was contemplating going beyond even that as an actual possibility.
He could hardly entertain the idea that he was entertaining the idea of being open with this girl in any capacity.
Because of all this, when he spoke his tone was as rigid as his frame. "You're an idiot."
"Wh-what?" Her incredulous squawk was enough to make up for some of the trouble she was putting him through. But only some. At the very least, it eased just the slightest amount of his edginess, made it just the slightest amount easier to carry on. And so he did, using the same sharp monotone.
"I treat you no differently than I treat any of the others. If you think otherwise, you're a fool. If I ever single you out, it is only because you're being especially foolish. The same can be said for any of the morons here that I choose to associate with."
He was more than willing to leave it at that. Botan was more than happy with it, if the cringe-worthy sparkle in her eyes was any indication. But some sadistic side of him had apparently decided he hadn't degraded himself quite enough for today, and so the next part, the part he'd decided at the last minute to omit, came out anyway.
"As I said before, I don't hate you. Nor do I dislike you."
The declaration, in his eyes, was so close to affectionate that he could feel the humiliation burn throughout his body. Quickly, he cut his gaze away from hers, sending a dark glower across the expanse of the empty room. Running, at this point, seemed like an entirely viable option. What the hell had he been thinking?
"So…does that make us friends, then?" Her voice was dancing with joy, and in that instant Hiei hated every inch of it. He refused to incriminate himself further.
"Hn. Think what you want."
The statement, cold and filled with all the disdain he could summon, did not have the desired effect. She stood, light on her feet, and soon her tinkling laughter was scratching its way down his ear canal. A split second later she'd moved directly in front of him again, the very same position she'd taken when she'd first entered. And just like that moment, the fire demon could not have been more eager for her to leave as soon as possible.
"You silly thing, you!" She giggled, beaming at him on his perch and moving to encase him in a hug. The black glare he sent her way just before she touched him had her retreating as quickly as she'd drawn near, awkwardly patting his shoulders instead with a hasty, nervous chuckle.
Then she straightened again, happiness still on her face and in her tone; Hiei's look had lessened from its death stare to just generally unwelcoming, but Botan smiled wider anyway at the sight of it. "Well, I'll see you later then, partner!" She winked at him, but he paid no heed to the gesture or the nickname except for a slight flare of irritation. With any luck, such ridiculous little terms wouldn't become the norm; not only would it be severely irksome, but he would surely never hear the end of it if the detective or the oaf heard even one.
Which reminded him. "Wait."
It was not a request, and the reaper turned back obligingly. "What is it?" Benign curiosity colored her tone; this didn't take him long to express at all.
"If you tell anyone about this conversation…"
The implied threat was obvious, and didn't need to be finished; she'd started to nod her head before he'd even stopped speaking, then abruptly caught herself and turned it into a vigorous shake. "Oh, of course not, I would never! I swear to you, nothing will go beyond this room." She mimed locking her lips and throwing away the key, then swirled towards the door once more, but once more she was stopped.
She spun around on the spot two steps from the doorway, sending yet another bright grin in his direction before answering in an almost singsongy voice that aggravated the hell out of him. "Yes, Hiei?" Her prompt agreement to secrecy had been anticipated, but a solid confirmation had still been necessary. This, however…
…was only fair.
He sounded only a few shades away from mocking. "I like you better when you don't talk."
As expected, her expression quickly formed into a displeased pout, predictably followed by a highly offended rant, but Hiei merely smirked in reply. Soon enough, due to his lack of response, she ended with a huff and stormed off into the hall. The koorime closed his eyes and leaned back against the window frame, pleased with himself over the petty victory as he listened to her stomp all through the temple.
She was still too cheery. She still talked too much. She still spent far too much time on inane things. And she was still tolerable only in small doses – though, admittedly, the dosage may have been increased, if only by the slightest margin. She was still sure to irritate him on a consistent basis.
The fresh knowledge that she cared about him - despite being who she was and how she was – was enough.
Thoughts? Comments? Praise? Critique? Constructive criticism? Anything is appreciated and loved, as long as it's not pointless bashing! That's why it's called CONSTRUCTIVE, folks. =D How do you think I did with both of their characters? Dialogue? Writing/style in general? Just shoot me a review, I'm dying to know!
So, you know how I said up there Hiei took over this one? Well I still have tons of ideas buzzing around in my head for how this whole scenario would look from Botan's end…would you guys be interested in seeing that? After that, I think I possibly have ideas for a continuation chapter as well…tell me what you think! =)
Thank you SO MUCH for stopping by and reading, hope you enjoyed! =D
PS – Also PLEEEEEEEEEEASE tell me if you see any typos!