Author's Note: Just something that came to mind as I reminisced the good ol' days of watching Yu Yu Hakusho on Toonami. Enjoy!
"Yo Hiei." Yusuke called out, giving the fire demon a two fingered salute. "Genkai's at seven. You're not going to want to miss the ridic' amount of meat we've got going for the barbecue."
Hiei replied with no more than a bored quirk of a brow, but that was enough for Yusuke. He knew Hiei would show up, late and nonchalant as always, but there nonetheless.
Yusuke grinned like a cheshire cat, "Later, bud."
As Hiei peered down from his perch at Yusuke's retreating back, he wondered how after all these years he still managed to be a part of the mismatched, rowdy gang. Looking back, he couldn't say exactly, nor pinpoint the moment when time spent with them ceased being a chore and became, surprisingly, wholly voluntary and enjoyable – not that anyone would ever catch him saying that aloud.
At the beginning of his 'partnership' with the Spirit Detective, Kurama had asked why he bothered attending their social gatherings. He replied insipidly that he went for the sake of seeing his sister; before shooting Kurama a look that plainly said, Why the hell else would I go, Fox? Kurama had accepted his answer without protest, but even Hiei knew how vacuous his excuse sounded. After all, one needn't attend every gathering simply to see the sister he already saw on a daily basis – with or without her knowledge.
But Hiei learned by now, that when he spoke, people took his words at face value, or at the very least, not many had the nerve to question him. Getting a response out of him was no small task, and if he did dignify them with a response they trusted that he didn't waste his breath to lie – not on such mundane things at least.
To his surprise, months after the Dark Tournament, Shizuru had posed a similar question. While Hiei always held some respect for the elder Kuwabara, they were only mere acquaintances, and acquaintances didn't deserve an outright response. He simply glanced over at her idiot brother who was making a ruckus and said that there wasn't much else a demon could do around here for entertainment without having Koenma and the rest of the Spirit world up his ass.
Shizuru took a drag from her cigarette and let out a small chuckle. She hadn't really except an honest answer anyways.
He might have been more forthcoming if she'd asked later in their relationship, when they had bonded over ridiculing Kuwabara's melodramatic attempts at wooing Yukina. But Shizuru never did, and for that, he was glad.
And when Botan asked, while flying him from Mukuro's to the Human Realm, he simply answered with a 'Hn' – if that could be considered an answer at all.
Perhaps, the reason was that simple.
It is always the same dream; so lucid he almost believes he is a trembling child again.
The clouds billow overhead, covering and uncovering the crescent moon, casting shadows upon his face. He hears the hags squabbling and cursing his deformity, as if it was his choice to be born like this. He shivers as someone removes him from the bassinet and holds him at arms length as the water roiled close beneath him. The waves whip against the rocks sending sea foam high into the sky. He shivers again as the mist settles over him and his shallow breaths comes out in weak wisps of vapor.
It is so cold, a biting coldness he is unused to.
He struggles to move, his tiny limbs flailing against the bonds. The woman holding him begins to hush him, trying to soothe him to no avail. But when she tucks a necklace into his tiny fist he settles down, reveling in the sudden peace that washes over him.
A woman's shrieks breaks the fleeting calm.
"No! No, no, no, no, no!" he hears her sob.
He feels his stomach flip – he's falling.
There is nothing else but blinding darkness as he falls.
Choking, his tiny lungs gasps for air as he bobs in the frozen water.
It's so cold, he thinks, before all is black.
Botan knows Hiei has nightmares more often than not.
She knew since the Dark Tournament, when they had lived in close quarters, her room adjacent to his.
During at time she would often hear odd noises coming from his room, but ignored them. They weren't friends and it wasn't her place to intrude, not when it seemed like he wanted to kill her more often than not.
It was only when she had gotten up to get water one night, that her curiosity got the better of her. 'Curiosity killed the cat, Botan,' she thought to herself, '...but a cat has nine lives!'
And with her foolproof reasoning, she made her way to his door and gripped the doorknob, pausing as she briefly contemplated the consequences and decided to hell with it.
She was a dead woman if he caught her, but she was technically already a dead woman.
She found him thrashing in a tangle of sheets, brow soaked with sweat. In slumber, Hiei's face lost its hard look, and with his already petite stature, she thought he looked almost looked childlike. At that moment, regardless of repercussions, Botan wanted badly to comfort him. So she leaned over him, and brushed the sweaty hair that clung to his face aside. Instinctively and still dazed in sleep, Hiei he grabbed her wrist pulled her awkwardly into his arms. Because his movements relented and his breathing calmed, Botan stayed there until the sky began to lighten.
She was a deader than a dead woman if he ever found out.
Hiei wasn't an idiot. He was a demon after all, with senses sharper than a bloodhound.
The first time he had awoken to the faint smell of jasmine knew something was wrong. His suspicions were only confirmed when she greeted him with her usual cheery, "Good morning, Hiei!" but with her eyes downcast and avoiding his. He would have threatened her, if he wasn't so preoccupied with trying to decipher the motives the ferry-girl would have to sneak into his bed, of all beds. Especially, when he could count on one hand the number of sentences they've exchanged - most of which involved threats from his end.
He was going to catch her in the act and she was going to wish she hadn't trespassed.
No one, no one, crossed his boundaries.
That night, he found himself laying awake in anticipation.
She didn't come.
Nor did she come the following few nights.
Hiei only realized much later, that Botan came only when he dreamt. And with this realization, he also noticed his nightmares melted into the warmth of her arms. When she would slowly ran her hand through his hair, he felt an unfamiliar sense of security and a knot tighten in the pit of his stomach.
He hated that she had that affect on him.
'Stupid, stupid woman,' he thought as he drifted back to sleep.
Botan grew bolder with each visit. There were nights when he'd awaken to her touch. Sometimes he felt her trace his jaw with her fingertips, other times he felt her place a timid kiss on his cheek, sighing right before she left.
He'd never admit it, but during these tender moments, he'd feel his heart clench, and it took all his self-restraint not to open his eyes and stare blatantly at her, accusing, questioning, because part of him feared her visits would stop if he did.
And like that, with each lingering touch and with each stirring of his heart, Hiei began to look forward to her nightly visits.
At first, he'd laid still as a plank against her until he drifted back to sleep. But as she became bolder, so did he.
Feigning sleep, he'd slide his hand under her short nightgown, relishing the smoothness of her skin before resting his hands on the cool curve of her hips. With every drag of his finger, her breath hitched and her heart pounded whether from fear or arousal, Botan couldn't quite tell.
The nights when Hiei felt more daring, his hand would drift upwards dragging her gown along with it, until his thumb rested just below the swell of her breast. Gently, he'd sweep his thumb across the sensitive skin. His keen ears would always catch the small moan that would slip out.
She never moved to stop him. And he never thought to stop.
This was the only way, after all, that he could take comfort in her warmth without dealing with the bothersome repercussions when he wasn't even sure what exactly it was he was beginning to feel for the ferry-girl.
"Shorty, you came!" Kuwbara announced as he absentmindedly waved a pair of tongs holding meat. "Oops!"
"Hn," he breathed in dry amusement as he watched Yusuke and Kuwabara quarrel over the dropped meat, "I see you still haven't mastered the art of multitasking Kuwbara."
He hears a soft giggle to his left. Looking across the table, his crimson eyes met her violet ones. She grinned cheekily at him and blushes as she remembered the way his fingers danced across her skin.
His lips curved up in the faintest of smiles.
The reason of course was her.
It was always for her.