As he approached consciousness, Kurama's nose picked up a familiar, sweet scent from nearby. It was most definitely a flower of some sort, but being as acquainted with flora as he is, across several realms, it took some time to narrow down the exact scent. The more awake he grew the clearer the danger he was in became, overpowering the scent. His arms hung above him in shackles, only a few chain links separated him and the stonewall behind him. His feet were resting on the floor, allowing relief from his arms supporting the majority of his weight. A massive headache still clogged his senses and as he forced open his eyes the scent he identified earlier became clearer to him. Kurama suddenly knew exactly what the scent was.
The scent was hanging on the wall across from him, Kurama chuckled to himself, and how fitting was it that Botan smelled of peony? His emerald eyes evaluated her limp form, 'Some minor scraps on her cheek, her jacket is torn on her left arm but no blood…' Kurama's eyes widened as he saw the brownish stain of blood across the girls stomach. Concern spread through him but as far as he could tell the bleeding had stopped. Knowing there was nothing he could currently do to help the girl he turned his head to evaluate their prison, a throbbing pain arose in his neck. Kurama made a mental note of it, and began to take stock of the room they were held in.
Their cell was simple enough; stone covered the walls, ceiling, and floor surrounding the two captives. The ceiling rose several dozen feet above their heads and no windows were visible, nor could Kurama smell the freshness of outside air. Torches lined the walls and illuminated the room with a flickering glow, showing extra sets of chains, enough for three more victims Kurama noticed grimly. That confirmed it. 'They expected us.' The one thing Kurama could not see from his vantage point along the wall was a doorway.
After appraising the entre room Kurama turned his attention back to the still unconscious Botan. The last two days, Kurama mused, had been a reflective group for the fox. 'Never would I have considered saving a female from a fight back in my Youko days. Survival of the fittest was always my priority, and I would have never considered a mate who could not protect themselves.' Kurama had surprised himself once again. 'Mate? My, what conclusions am I jumping to? However… it is nice to feel needed, to protect someone. That's a feeling I haven't felt in centuries.'
Shaking off his thoughts for the time being, the boy began to take stock of his own well being. A headache already clouded his mind, and Kurama could feel his throat throbbing where the demon had choked him. Rope burns were rung into his wrists, as well as across his torso. His shirt was covered in small tears from the demons nails, and he could feel a few scratches to match them on his skin. Shaking his head slowly he discovered the seeds he usually kept stored in his hair had been removed.
After his assessment of himself, Kurama's mind began to catch up to his nervous system as pain began to consume his thoughts. Looking to Botan he saw no signs that the spirit guide would regain consciousness anytime soon, so the boy forced himself into a slumber to allow some of the pain to pass in the mean time.
Kurama found himself walking through a marvelous garden, filled with every flower he could imagine, from both the human and demon worlds. But there was one in particular he longed to find in this maze. Searching and searching, every wrong turn lead to more disappointment. Suddenly, his nose caught a whiff of the scent he so longed for. The scent only lingered in the air for a mere moment, hanging gently in the breeze, sending the boy into a frenzy to find its origin. His once calm steps soon accelerated to a sprint as he raced around corners through the maze of flowers. Desperate to claim the flower as his own.
Kurama rounded a left corner and at last the scent returned to him. The smell of recently bloomed peonies filled the air around him. But the flower itself was still nowhere to be found. Kurama slowed, concentrating on the direction the scent was coming from. Taking a right turn, Kurama came to a sudden halt.
Approximately one hundred feet ahead of him was a patch of peony flowers. Despite how majestic the rest of the garden had seemed before, none of the flora could compare to the peonies. The pink and white blossoms seemed to be glowing, and they covered the landscape as far as he could see, with green leaves peaking out behind them. The varying shades of pink surrounding him placed a soothing feeling in his mind. Kurama walked through them, pleased to have finally found the flower he longed for, but still felt as if something was missing.
Having walked deep into the spectacle of flowers, Kurama found himself exhausted. Lying in the bed of the flowers, he made himself comfortable. Immersing himself in the flowers, Kurama felt a comfort in them, unlike any feeling he had found in his plants before. The flowers cradled him, offering protection, warmth, and the inner peace he had so long sought. Kurama allowed his eyes to close and the flowers to envelop him.
Something was not right, Kurama knew. The comforting scent of the peonies had vanished, taking with it the warmth he had so long desired. Emerald eyes opened to see the once majestic and breath-taking garden left as dry and wilted as he had ever seen any plant. In the span of only five minutes the garden had gone from lush to desolate. Dried up, as if from lack of care.
'Is that what happens when you don't act on your desires? They become lost to you?' This thought haunted Kurama's waking moments, lingering with him as he processed his dream. Kurama was no fool, he knew what it meant, opportunities only last so long, and if he didn't act on one he would lose it, forever. But looking over at the slumbering girl across from him he didn't know if he was ready to act just yet.
Yusuke, Kuwabara, and Hiei had finished off the last of the attacking demons. After searching for their missing, friends the group realized they were nowhere to be found. Hiei had not been able to find them with his jagan. The trio was now arguing between searching for their lost companions, or moving forward with their mission. The division in the group, currently two against one.
"Guys, we can't just leave the two of them behind!" Kuwabara whined, again. "Real men don't just leave their friends behind, they go back for them and risk their lives for them!"
"Hn. Fool. Kurama would keep moving without us, he can take care of himself, as well as Botan. And if he can't then he deserves what happens to him."
"How can you say that Hiei?" Hiei did not offer a response, Kuwabara blanched at the fire demons silence. "You don't really mean that do you? Botan needs our help, Kurama is your best friend!"
"I think he does Kuwabara. But either way, it's two against one, we're moving forward with our mission. The portal to demon world is the more important mission at the moment, if we don't stop it there might not be a Kurama and Botan to save." Without waiting for another response, Yusuke pushed off the tree he had been leaning against and headed back towards their fighting grounds. Hiei silently followed, leaving Kuwabara to bring up the rear.
As they bypassed the demon corpses that they had slaughtered earlier, Hiei used his jagan eye to search for Kurama and Botan's energies, a second time. While Hiei was focused elsewhere Kuwabara began arguing once again against Yusuke's decision, citing his moral code multiple times. Hiei did his best to ignore the pair, but Kuwabara's voice had a way of penetrating even the deepest concentration. Yusuke, though not normally so annoying on his own, was not helping the fire demons attempts as he egged on Kuwabara.
'I swear, these two are no better then a babbling, bumbling band of baboons.' Hiei paused and considered this for a moment, 'I may have just found the perfect description of Kuwabara, I'll have to remember to tell the fox.' With that the little fire demon resumed his search from his friends energies.
The two human boys calmed down their arguments the deeper the group went into the forest, falling into a tense silence. The energy from the portal growing stronger with each step the boys took. If the energy were solidified it might have formed a brick wall, Hiei understood why they were able to get so close without meeting any resistance. The barrier had covered them from the creator, possibly why all the guards had attacked at once, 'trying to make up for lost time by attempting to over-whelm us. Unfortunate decision on their part.'
The trio came up to a breach in the dense forest, the energy surrounding them, encasing them in warning. They crouched down behind the brush and crawled to the edge of the cover. Beneath the cover of branches from a bush the three looked out over the portal site.
A massive silver orb hung in the air. Black wisps were wafting through it in a pattern that reminded Hiei of smoke from a recently blown out candle. The orb also had an electric look to it, as light was flashing through it at random intervals. The orb itself was hovering below them in a valley enshrouded by a mountain range. The trio was at the top of a steep cliff, had they been running to the portal it was possible they would have fallen to their deaths. Looking down the wall Hiei saw a few ledges jutting out in the otherwise flat surface, but paid no mind to them. The three sets of eyes sought out the source of power fueling the portal.
Sharpening his vision Hiei could see the outline of a figure underneath the orb, pacing in a small square. Six steps forward, a turn right, six more steps, and repeat infinitely. The man had a fighters build; tall, lean frame, bulked up muscles in the arms and legs. One thing that was unusual about the character was a set of wings folded into his back. The man turned and Hiei could swear he saw a beak where the man's nose and mouth should have been.
Hiei turned to the detective only to find him not where to be seen. Looking around quickly, the fire demon caught the outline of his friend sliding down the cliff face to the first of the ledges. 'Well, strategy never was quite his style.' Hiei thought before jumping to meet the detective at the ledge, leaving Kuwabara to fend for himself. The figure beneath the orb kept pacing, either feigning ignorance to the three intruders or waiting for them to make the first move. Either way, Yusuke didn't appreciate being ignored.
"Oye!" The detective called out, "what do you think you're doing over there?" The winged demon below turned his head in acknowledgement of Yusuke, but did not utter a single word, keeping his pacing the same as before, not faltering in the slightest by the boy's exclamation.
This of course, only angered the boy more.
Botan was surrounded by change. Image after image flashed through her mind, each drastically different then the last. Some mirroring reality, others she knew to be fantasy.
A single rose floating in a pond, spinning gently in the waves rippling through the water, the full moon shining down, fireflies dancing all around her as she reached for the rose…
Hiei's icy glare, which still held a fire in it, that she was greeted with every time she had turned to look at Kurama during their long trek through the forest, the discouragement his eyes held within them…
Kurama dragging her away from the fight, the feel of his hand on her back, how close he was to her as they ran, the worry that had been laced through his voice as he told her to fly away from the fight, his attempts to stop the demons from attacking her…
Soft hands ghosting across her skin, tickling her, straightening her spine and spreading a smile across her face, lighting her eyes as she looked into his…
The chains Gama ensnared Kurama in all through his fight with Toya, and the disasters that could have led to, but the fox had out smarted the make-up, but what if he hadn't…
A garden filled with peonies surrounding Kurama, as the fox bathed in his joy, appreciating the scene around him, a simple look of contentedness on his face…
Kurama's fight with Karasu in the Dark Tournament, the desperation it took to take the powers of the Idun Box, and trust them to be enough…
Fire surrounding her, she was alone, the fire was closing in, Kurama was no where to be seen…
Kurama saving Keiko from Hiei when she wasn't enough, the boy had saved possibly both her and Keiko's lives by risking his own…
Soft lips pressing against her own, the warmth of them spreading throughout her whole body, allowing passion to take over, she reached into the boys red strands and pulled him closer, refusing to let go…
The smile Kurama wore when she met him in his school just two days ago…
A simple kiss on her forehead, the smile on the foxes face as he leaned away from her head and looked her in the eyes…
Smoke filled her lungs, she looked around, desperate to find the fox, refusing to leave him in danger. The fire was growing; she had to escape the building before she suffocated. Reaching for a window, she threw it open and fell out of it. Botan lay on the ground panting, desperate to fill her lungs with fresh air. Slowly taking in her surroundings, her pink eyes landed on Kurama. She gasped suddenly. The boy was holding a box of matches and a gallon of gasoline.
The girls pink eyes shot open.
Author's-Note: Sorry my updates are so sporadic! I had this whole plan for a update timeline, but that kind of got thrown out a window. Oh well. Thank You Again for the wonderful reviews and the story alert requests! You guys brighten my day with every e-mail I get. Seriously. AND you have officially caught up to my current writings. Suggestions are welcomed, haha.
Oh, did anyone catch the Harry Potter reference? Haha