Chapter Three: "Realizing the Unknown"(Smiles and waves) Hello again! It’s me Meiko, back for a new chapter of Without You! (pales) Sorry it took me so long to type this chapter, I’ve been extremely busy with school work. BUT, now it is summer, so I have all the time in the world for writing! Not many notes to tell you, besides just be prepared for a few things that may be coming up in the fiction. (I have a lot of stuff planned out for further chapters!) One, that there may be random cute moments/romance as well as times of immense sorrow, I don’t want to rush things to much in this fiction so I’ll be setting up more of a trust between the two (Kurama and Botan). But don’t worry! That doesn’t mean the pace will be that of a turtles! Two, there WILL be some romance in this chapter. Not to much, but some.
One minor note: Haru yo Koi (from last chapter) literally means “Come, Spring!” If you were wondering, there you go!
“Botan…,” Kurama began.
Botan blinked and looked up at him. “Yes?..”
Kurama gazed into her eyes. He sighed. “Lets go downstairs and have some tea.” He said with a small smile, closing his eyes.
Botan blinked. “Okay, that would be nice!” She said with a grin. They walked down the stairs, Kurama in front of Botan.
“(Sigh) You have such a nice house, Kurama. You also have a wonderful family.” Botan said, wistfully.
Kurama laughed. “All except for my brother, correct?” Botan laughed in return, as they walked into the kitchen.
“You’re brother is sweet,” Botan said, getting out two packets of tea while Kurama got the mugs. “He may be tiring,” she passed him the packets, "with all his running around and hyper activeness, but he’s very sweet. He…” she paused as her eyes softened, “…he reminds me of my little brother….” She trailed off, looking down with a small, sad, remembering smile.
Kurama stopped, setting the mugs down, and turning around. He looked at Botan, with surprise that wasn’t shown on his face. She had never spoken of her life before being a ferry girl before. All he knew was that she had been working for Koenma for a long time.
Botan’s eyes glazed over with the distance of her memory, thoughts long faded by the cold turning of the era. “He was Shuichi’s age… when I last saw him…” She looked up at Kurama. “Did… I ever tell you about my… life… before being a ferry girl?” She asked. Kurama shook his head, still in shock.
Botan paused for a moment, as if in consideration. She had never told anyone about her life… only Koenma and her knew. Why did she want to tell Kurama this? It’s the feeling… that I always get when I’m around him…
Kurama, recovering from the shock, smiled gently. “Would you like to tell me over tea?” He asked. Botan looked up and smiled. “Sure.” She said. Kurama put the tea bags into the mugs, then put a kettle full of hot water onto the stove. He walked over to Botan and led her to the living room where they sat down.
She gazed down at the marbled coffee table in uncertainty. “I… don’t really remember much…. But I’ll tell you what I can remember.” She said, hesitantly. Kurama’s eyes softened and he nodded.
“Well… I guess it begins when I was born. I was born in Yorokobi, a village in Reikai. My parents lived with the ideas of peace and harmony. They were never violent people. When I was seven, my kasaan became pregnant with my little brother, Shotaru. I was so excited that I was going to have a sibling… There was a flower field by where I lived, and it was full of so many different kinds, like irises, daises, roses, lavender, and, peonies.” Kurama blinked ‘I wonder if that’s her name sake…’
“My brother was born. But then… when I was eleven, a war broke out in Reikai. Reikai against a group of Reikain bandits everyone called “Hakai”, destruction. It reached my village, and men from every family, including my father were sent to fight. When he left, he told me to watch over my mother and brother. Then… he told me he’d return soon. That was the last thing I heard from him, ever.
“Two months later, after he left, I was returning home, and I saw the village, in flames. I ran to my home and…” She paused and her eyes dimmed. “my mother and brother were lying on the floor,… dead… I don’t remember much about what happened after that, I think I passed out, but… I woke up, and I was lying in ashes. The entire area had burned down, and surrounding me was the entire village, lying dead. I…. all I remember is the sad, yet smiling face of someone…. And a hand being held out to me. Then it becomes black.
“When I woke up again, I was in a strange room in Koenma’s palace. I asked him what had happened, and he told me that The Hakai had…killed everyone, in my village… then burned it down… Somehow I managed to survive. …When I finally realized I had no home to go to, Koenma offered me a home, at the palace. He then offered me the job of ferry girl. He said that I could train and someday be the chief pilot of the river Styx. …
“He said he saw in me potential for greatness, I had lived through something that would bring complete depression on someone else… and yet I could hold myself together, to a certain extent. He saw that I would be able to handle it. He had a feeling that I would be the right person for the job. …That leads me to where I am today.” She said. With a sorrowful smile, she looked up at Kurama, who gazed at her with a sympathetic, but understanding smile. Sad, but not pitying. He would not lower the woman he loved to such a level. ‘I merely wish she did not have to undertake all the experiences she has faced…’ he thought solemnly.
“I suppose I just wanted to make sure that my parents were happy after they died. I wanted to understand what they went through after their horrible death. . . and I think I just wanted to find a way to change death, to make it not so horrible; I wanted to make sure that people would be happy, or at least not full of evil things such as fear, hatred, or sorrow. I wanted to stop those things in any way that I could… And that was were the goal to become a ferry girl came in. I accepted Koenma’s offer. . . with a hope that I could conquer sorrow.” She finished thoughtfully, staring off.
Kurama looked at Botan tenderly and he slowly, gently wrapped his arms around her.
Botan’s eyes widened as she was snapped back to reality. She blinked, and then slowly her tense shoulders relaxed. Her eyes softened as she slowly embraced the red-haired man back, for a moment just happy to have someone to understand and to listen. It was nice; she was so used to people talking about themselves while she was on the receiving end. For the first time… she had shared her life with someone else. She had never done that before.
‘But why am I surprised? Around Kurama, I’m so relaxed… I know I can tell him anything…And he’s always there for me, listening, understanding…’ She closed her eyes, resting her head on his shoulder.
Kurama’s gentle smile grew slightly as he felt Botan rest her head on his shoulder. He inhaled her scent. ‘Mmm...she smells nice… of sakura blossoms, and rain…’ Suddenly his eyes shot open, ‘That scent.. the same scent as the woman in my dream…But-‘ He was interrupted and the moment was broke as Botan sneezed.
“Oh, I’m so sorry Kurama!” Botan said, quickly backing away, looking down in embarrassment, her face scarlet. ‘Why did I have to do that!’ She mentally berated herself. ‘Now he’s going to be… (pause) …wait… is he angry?’ Botan looked up quickly, her sparkling amethyst eyes catching his deep emerald pools.
Kurama stared back at Botan, the shock of what he had started putting together wearing off and the thought being cast to the back of his mind… for now. He blinked and his eyes softened as he gently smiled at Botan. “No need for apologies Botan. You only sneezed, something I believe everyone does at some point.” He said, his smile more of a teasing grin now.
“Yes, well,…” Botan trailed off, her blush returning. Of course Kurama wouldn’t be angry. Kurama chuckled as he picked up his mug of tea, taking a sip. He looked out of the corner of his eye at Botan. “You might want to drink your tea before it gets cold.” He commented, pushing her mug towards her.
Botan nodded and picked up the mug. Taking a mouthful she swallowed as her eyes widened. “Kurama, this tea is wonderful! What kind is it?” She asked, taking another drink of the liquid.
“It’s an herbal tea, made from chamomile, orange, ginseng, and rosebuds. It’s something I came up with during summer.” He said, thoughtfully, remembering when he had created the drink. Botan’s eyes widened in surprise.
“You made this?” She asked, blinking and looking into the tea. Kurama nodded. “Yes, I used to create different things from the herbs and plants I grew in my garden…. Tea among them.” He finished.
Botan smiled. “That’s really nice… I never met anyone who could make their own tea. There were a few people I ferried that said that they had similar hobbies, such as creating their own perfumes, but none that did that.”
Kurama nodded. “It’s an interesting process. It’s not hard, as it would seem. All you must –“ He was once again interrupted as the telephone rang. He sighed and stood up, walking gracefully over to the phone and answering it.
“Hey Kurama! It’s me Keiko.”
“Hello, Keiko. How are you?”
“I’m fine, I just wanted to talk to you about something.”
Kurama nodded. “Proceed.”
“Okay, well you know about the inter-school ball that your school and my school is having?”
“Yes…” Kurama said, pensively.
“Well we, as in Yusuke, Kuwabara, and I want you to go.” Keiko said, smiling.
Kurama blinked. “But—“ He was again, for the tenth time interrupted that evening as Yusuke grabbed the phone from Keiko.
“Hey, fox-boy! You need to get out more! Be more social! And don’t you give me the excuse that you can’t find a date! Ask one of the girls from your fan-club if you have to!” Kurama raised an eyebrow, sweatdropping. “You better come or else—“ He was cut off as Keiko grabbed the phone back.
“Yusuke you jerk!” Kurama heard a slapping sound, then Keiko as she turned her attention back to the phone. “Sorry about that Kurama. Anyway, come! We’re all meeting at my house at five on Saturday night so you better be there! Preferably with a girl! See you then!” She said, then hung up.
Kurama stared at the phone in his hand. ‘That was… interesting…’ He sighed as he put the phone down on the cradle and closed his eyes. “Kurama?” Came a light, melodic voice.
Kurama turned around to see Botan’s concerned eyes. He smiled lightly and sat back down. “Who was that?” She asked curiously. He smiled as an idea formed in his mind.
“It was Keiko.” He replied, slowly. His emerald orbs sparkling. “She was reminding me of a school event that is going to take place in the future.”
Botan nodded, interested.
Kurama paused. “Botan?” He asked slowly. She looked up, her smile still on her face.
Kurama paused. ‘Why am I nervous? Botan is simply a friend and I’m presently asking her to come with me to a dance… “Would you care to accompany me to a ball?” His masculine voice asked.
Botan blinked, surprised. A light blush crept onto her cheeks as she realized what he was asking. Was he asking her out on a date? ‘Of course, I wouldn’t mind if he was…’ Botan thought before mentally shaking her head. There’s those thoughts again! ‘Kurama’s just a… f-frien..d.. friend.’ It didn’t feel right. That category. For some weird reason, she wanted to say he was more…
“Botan?” Kurama asked, interrupting her musings.
Botan looked up, startled as she realized that the blush on her face had deepened. “Oh! Sorry. O-Of course I’d like to g.. go with you Kurama! It sounds f-fun!” Dang that stuttering.
Kurama blinked as a handsome smile overcame his face. “Wonderful! It is a formal ball, similar to the European Gaijin ones in the eighteen hundreds. Do you still approve?” He asked. Botan blinked again. She could have sworn for a second he looked nervous again.
She smiled warmly. “Of course! It sounds great!” Her smile fell slightly as she thought of something. ‘But… I’m not sure how to dance… it’s been so long…’
Kurama, noticing the slightly worried look that had come onto Botan’s face, frowned. ‘Maybe she does not really wish to come…?...’ “Is something the matter?” He asked.
Botan looked up with a sheepish grin. “Well, it’s just… it’s been a long time since I’ve ever danced… I don’t think I remember how.” She said, sweatdropping. Kurama blinked, then sweatdropped. He smiled again.
“It’s all right. I know how to, and I can help you.” He said, softly. Botan’s nerves faded and she smiled warmly. “Thank-you Kurama.” She said. Kurama nodded. For a few moments, they just sat in silence. Then—
“BEEEP!” Botan jumped while Kurama stiffened, slightly startled. He looked around, then down at Botan’s waist, where the sound had come from. Botan looked down, then blinked again.
“Sorry, it’s just my communicator.” She said, smiling awkwardly pulling out the compact device with another apology. She flipped open the screen. “BOTAN!” Koenma’s voice shouted. “Where have you been! I don’t have nearly enough people here and I need you pronto” He yelled in his toddler form. Botan sweatdropped, her features looking annoyed.
“I’ll be there in a moment, Koenma-sama.” She said, flat-toned.
“Where were you anyway? You’ve been gone all day!” Koenma yelled.
“Helping Kurama baby-sit his brother…” Botan said, cautiously.
“Well that’s fine and dandy but I need you here more! You should have been here, filing papers! Getting something done!"
Botan’s eye twitched. “I’ll be there in a little while Koenma-sama.” She said, her tone obviously slightly irritated.
“Well hurry!” Koenma said, closing the connection. Botan closed her eyes, closing the compact. ‘If I didn’t work for him as his chief captain of the River Styx and head ferry-girl… sometimes I think I’d do something I’d later regret…’
She looked over at Kurama. He raised an eyebrow. She sighed.
“I’m afraid I must leave… Koenma needs me back in Reikai.” She said, sadly. Kurama’s face looked slightly disappointed.
“That’s all right. Are you still able to attend the ball with me?” He asked.
Botan nodded, smiling. “Of course.” Kurama smiled back.
”Okay, then would you come to my house at 4:45 on Saturday? From there we’ll go to Keiko’s.” He explained. Botan nodded once again. “Then it’s set.” Kurama replied, standing up along with Botan as she headed for the door.
When they walked outside, Botan turned and smiled at Kurama. “Well, thank-you for letting me stay at your house, and for breakfast.” She said, bowing. Kurama smiled, bowing in return.
“It was my pleasure.” He pulled a rose out of his hair and handed it to Botan. “Until Saturday?” He said, more then asked.
Botan blushed, taking the magenta rose and nodding. “Yes, until Saturday!” She replied.
Kurama smiled. “Then I’ll see you then.”
Botan nodded, mounting her oar. “Goodnight, Kurama. Tell Shuichi I said good-bye when he wakes up.” Kurama nodded.
“I’ll tell him.” He said. Botan smiled.
“Goodnight, Botan.” Kurama said. Botan nodded, then flew up into the night sky, holding onto the magenta rose with a tender grip.
Kurama watched until at last she was no longer in site, then walked back into the house with a sigh.
Reikai/thirty minutes later
Botan landed on the tiled ground of Reikai. Walking into the palace, she smiled down at the rose she held in her hands. ‘What is this feeling that I’m getting? Do I…… l-love Kurama?...But…’ She shook her head. Now was not the time to be thinking of that.
She sighed. Walking past a flurry of papers and ogres shouting at each other, she walked down a hall and into Koenma’s office. He was in his teenager form, sitting in his chair, stamping papers.
She knocked on the door then entered, hiding the rose behind her back. She didn’t want him to ask why she had the flower… because, quite truthfully, she wasn’t sure of the answer herself. “I’m back Koenma-sama!” She said, perking up. She’d more then likely get in a lot of trouble if Koenma ever caught her being wistful and daydreaming. Koenma looked up from his papers, looking exhausted and grumpy. ‘What’s new.’ Botan thought.
“Oh, Botan. It’s about time. I need you to file these papers in the records room and then I need you to send these things to Ayame. After that you can go to bed.” He said, yawning, and handing her a stack of files then another file, slightly smaller, that she was supposed to bring to Ayame.
“I’ll get right on it Koenma-sama!” Botan said, bowing and walking back out, the rose still clutched in her hand.
Koenma watched her retreating form with a sigh. He had seen the rose when she reached out for the papers, and had noticed the light pink blush that was on her face. ‘So Botan’s finally falling in love with Kurama…. Oh well. I knew this would happen at some point or another.’ He had always cared for Botan as if she were a younger sister. He had always felt a bit… protective of her. He didn’t want her to face any more pain, and had always looked after her. Ever since he had found her, those many years ago in the pile of debris and broken wood and ash…
Koenma rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand as he yawned again. He was getting to old to do all this paperwork! “GEORGE!” He yelled, calling in the ogre.
“Yes Koenma sir?” George asked, the blue demon running in.
“Do this paperwork for me! I’m taking a nap!” The prince said, turning into his toddler form and walking away.
“But Koenma sir!” George said, whining.
“I SAID DO IT!” Koenma yelled, walking out.
“Oh brother..” George said, looking annoyed.
Reikai, Botan’s room
Botan finished filling the small pink vase with water and placed the magenta rose in it. She smiled in a daydream-like sense. She couldn’t believe that Kurama had asked her to attend the ball with him. She sighed wistfully, for what seemed like the hundredth time that night. She didn’t quite understand these feelings.
‘But… it’s just whenever I’m with him… It’s so surreal, so much happiness I feel. Is this… l-love?...But... what if he doesn’t feel the same for me?...’ But somewhere in her mind she didn’t quite think that was a possibility. At least, she hoped is wasn’t. He was so kind, and sophisticated… always the gentleman and caring about others before himself…
Coming to a conclusion, Botan smiled to herself. ‘I love Kurama..’ She thought, blushing. Shaking her head, she looked over at the stack of papers Koenma gave her to file. “I better start working.” She said to herself, picking them up and walking down the hall.
Reikai, The records room, One hour later
Botan closed the cabinet, with a “Phew!”. I had taken the poor deity far to long to complete the task of filing 40 new demons. The records room, which was supposively alphabetically organized, was a MESS! Papers everywhere and files in all of the wrong places. ‘And those stupid ogres had told me they cleaned it up…’ She thought to herself, shaking her head.
Looking up at the clock she groaned. It was already one in the morning. Oh well. At least tomorrow was Friday. She could catch up on a bit of sleep then. Walking out of the room, she walked down a hallway and met Ayame. “Oh, good evening Botan-chan!” Ayame said, bowing to her friend.
Botan returned the gesture with cheerfulness. “Koenma-sama asked for me to give these to you.” She said, handing Ayame the folders. Ayame took them and then looked back up and studied her friend. “You look like you’re in a really good mood. What happened?” She asked, smiling. Botan smiled back, a small blush appearing.
“Oh, n-nothing really important…” She trailed off. Ayame shock her head, she new what it meant when Botan trailed off and stuttered, let alone blushed.
“Oh, so this wouldn’t have anything to do with Kurama now would it?” She asked.
“W-what!” Botan asked, startled. Ayame laughed. She knew Botan liked Kurama. It was just something that she saw in her eyes whenever Kurama was helping out in Reikai. A certain sparkle in her eyes and new bounce to her walk whenever he was around.
“Well… yes… he asked me to go to a ball with him….” Botan said, looking away. Ayame’s eyes widened.
“Really! That’s wonderful! But… Botan-chan… you don’t have a ball gown…” She said. “In fact, I don’t think you own any dresses at all, for that matter.” She said, pointedly. Botan’s eyes widened.
“I hadn’t even thought of that!” She said, shocked. “Oh no! What am I going to do then?” She wondered out loud. Ayame looked at her thoughtfully.
“We can ask Koenma for a few hours off tomorrow and go to the mall and pick you out a gown. What else.”
Botan blinked, then smiled. “You’d help me pick one out Ayame-chan?” She asked, excitedly.
“Okay, then tomorrow we can go!” Botan exclaimed happily, hugging Ayame, then saying a quick goodnight then walking to her room for a well-deserved night’s sleep. Ayame smiled after the girl then finished up her task before heading to bed herself.
Reikai/The next morning/Koenma’s office
Koenma looked down at his two best ferry girls thoughtfully. “Well, I suppose I could give you from now until two o’clock off. Just as long as you be back by then.” He said, coming to his final decision, after much pleading from the girls.
“Yes!” Botan exclaimed, Ayame sighing with a smile. “Thank-you Koenma-sama!” They both said. Koenma nodded. After all, they were his best ferry girls, and worked hard enough to earn a break every now and then.
They both smiled before exiting and walking down the hall. They dressed in different, more normal apparel then walked outside, each one pulling out an oar.
“Ready?” Ayame asked Botan, rising a little in the air.
“Yep! Let’s go!” Botan said, as they flew down to Ningenkai.
Ningenkai/forty minutes later
Botan and Ayame walked through the crowded hall, casually looking into any clothes stores they saw to see if they had anything similar to a gown. After fifteen minutes, Botan sighed. “Ayame-chan? I don’t think we’re getting anywhere with this. The mall is just to big! I’m not used to it!” Ayame nodded. Then looked around.
Spotting a lit-up map of the mall and it’s stores, she grabbed Botan’s hand, pulling her towards it. “Look, now we can just look for it on here.” She pointed out. Botan nodded, smiling. “Good-eye, Ayame-chan!” She said.
They found a store called “Sophisticated Lady”, and read that it made dresses for all formal occasions. “Should we go there?” Botan asked.
“Might as well, it sounds like they make the right type of dresses you might need.” Ayame commented. They walked down the escalator to the first level and into the shop. Botan’s eyes lit up.
“This is definitely the right shop!” She exclaimed, looking around. There were literally thousands of different types of gowns! Red, satiny ones, blue velvet ones, purple linens, pink sequins, etc.
Ayame’s smile got bigger with excitement. “Well, lets not just stand her! Time to try on dresses, Botan!” She said, as she attacked the dresses with picky eyes only one who had a lot of experience with shopping would have.
Botan’s mouth hung open as at least fifteen dresses flew into her arms. “Um… Ayame-chan?” She asked. Ayame stopped ravaging through some purple halters and looked up at Botan. “Yes?” She asked.
“Just out of curiosity… But do I have a say in this?”
“No!” Ayame said, giggling, then went back to the dresses.
‘Well that certainly answers my question.’ Botan thought, then looking back at Ayame, sweatdropped. ‘Exactly how much coffee did Ayame drink this morning?' She wondered. The usually calm, cool, and collected ferry-girl was very excited and energetic this morning, something not TO unusual for Botan to see, but then again not common if you only saw Ayame occasionally.
“Okay, now it’s time for you to try them on!” Ayame said, pushing Botan into the changing room. Botan giggled. “Okay, hang on.” She said, trying on the first dress. Walking out, Ayame pursed her lips.
It was a scarlet dress, strapless and tight, and flared out slightly. It reached just above Botan’s knees. It had black lace, sewn into the hem of her dress. “I don’t think this one is quite you. Maybe it’s a bit to seductive for your sweet demeanor.” Ayame commented. Botan nodded then went back in to try on a different one.
She came back out in a crème-colored gown this time. It was double sleeved, with spaghetti-straps holding the dress onto the deity and then loose, two inch sleeves falling off her shoulders. The body went to Botan’s waist where it parted and showed a lighter white color and went right to her ankles. It was nice… but not quite what she was aiming for. Botan went back in to change again.
This time, when she came back out, Ayame’s eyes lit up. This was the one. She was wearing a silver-blue dress this time. Spaghetti-strapped, it v-necked just slightly to reveal Botan’s slender neck and collar-bones. It hugged her, showing off her slim curves, until it reached to her waist, then elegantly flowed out into a more bodied dress, the bottom length at her feet curving at different angles to give a mystical appearance. There were sapphire and silver roses sewn into the dress every now and then, just to add more detail and beauty. It also came with a silvery sash. The entire dress complimented the deity’s complexion so much, Ayame knew that Botan had to have this one.
Botan smiled. “I like this one a lot. What do you think?” She asked. Ayame nodded. “This is definitely the one you’re getting.” Botan nodded, still smiling, then went back inside to change into normal clothes. Walking back out, with the dress in her hands, the ferry-girls went to pay for the dress then went back to Reikai.
‘I hope Kurama likes the gown I choose..’ Botan thought to herself. She smiled. She couldn’t wait.
Chapter Three end! nn
The ball’s coming up, and we’ll get to see a certain kitsune’s reaction to a certain deity!
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