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Yu Yu Hakusho Fic: "If the Roses Die"

Discussion in 'The Story Board' started by KitsuneSilver, May 28, 2004.

  1. KitsuneSilver

    KitsuneSilver The Darkness cometh...

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    Part three [following "If Roses Are Dark"] of the Silver Obsidian trilogy. See part one for standard disclaimers and et cetera.

    Chapter One: Take Me Away

    * * * * *

    ~Hiei~

    Infinite darkness… Nothing was real, yet anything and everything had mass and everything existed… Falling, falling, falling down, but everything was real and everything existed, and down was up and up was sideways and he was falling down, up, sideways, falling all at once…

    He looked around and saw Silver…and Silver surrounded him from every side, and it had mass, and it was real… He reached out and touched Silver, and it was wonderful…

    Cool, soft, light and dark, and it was beautiful…oh, how beautiful it was… It was not only Silver, but it was Black, too…deep, rich ebony, the kind only found in nightmares… It was a glowing Silver made of Black…the darkest Black of the endless abyss…

    But where was he? Where was he that this glorious sensation, this reveling in the color Silver, made of the darkest of Black, could be so true?

    The Void? The Void of the Jagan? Where nothing made sense and everything was real?

    No…this had a certain…something…a certain life that the Jagan lacked… So this was surreal, and this did not exist…

    This was a dream.

    This was a dream, and dreams could not be controlled.

    * * * * *

    ~Kurama~

    Everything was black… Darkness engulfed him, and he couldn’t see, let alone move…

    What had happened?

    Hiei…

    Yes…that was it… Hiei had attacked the shape-shifter, he had stepped in to help, and now the shape-shifter was dead…dead and gone…dead and never coming back…

    But he had stepped in to help…

    Why had he done that? He was under no order to. Youko didn’t help anyone unless it benefited him in some way. Youko was selfish like that.

    Because he cared, of course. He loved the little youkai and so he stepped in to help, stepped in when no one else would, when everyone else could but was too afraid.

    Hiei will see that. Hiei will see that and know Youko helps only Youko, and he will realize Youko helped him because he cares. Hiei will see that and Hiei will know. Hiei will see that. Hiei will know.

    Repeating the mantra wouldn’t make Hiei see it any more than he might otherwise, and deep down, Kurama knew he wouldn’t. Hiei would see that Kurama had helped him and think that the ningen aspects of his personality had begun overtaking the kitsune ones. Hiei would see that Kurama had helped him and Hiei would not know.

    He won’t know unless you tell him, you fool.

    Because he truly was a fool.

    He had been baiting Hiei into leaving, into fleeing and never coming back, and he had nearly succeeded. But for one thing:

    Hiei loved him.

    Hiei loved him and couldn’t leave him to die. He should have, Kurama mused. Hiei wasn’t one for second chances. But he hadn’t. He kept coming back, kept making sure Kurama didn’t do something stupid and get himself killed. If Yukina had proved anything about Hiei, it was that he didn’t leave the ones he loved. Even if he had to watch them from afar, he wouldn’t leave them.

    It was sort of sweet. In an agonizingly painful kind of way.

    * * * * *

    ~Hiei~

    He was in a dream, he knew – a dream or a nightmare, they often held many of the same traits and it was hard to tell which was which. Either way, he wanted out.

    He needed his sleep, though. Needed the six hours after launching the Kokuryuuha to regain the strength to move. And it was hard, sometimes, to sleep without dreams.

    Dreams or nightmares, anyway; they were practically interchangeable.

    Succumbing to the nightmare, for he had decided, that was what it was, he reached out to touch this exquisite form known as Silver. It recoiled at his outreach – no, not recoiled, that was the wrong word. It edged back, just slightly – tantalizing. It was luring him on. Tugging him forward with the chance to overcome its mysteries.

    He swam towards it, or walked, or moved – he proceeded onward, but everything had mass and yet was weightless, and how he moved, he didn’t know – gliding towards the Silver, trying to touch it. Only to touch it, for that was all he wanted.

    It coiled around him but still didn’t touch him, mere centimeters from his skin and at the same time, nowhere near him. He moved down, tried to grasp it, and for all its closeness, he still could not reach it.

    It slithered away with a taunting whisper, a hush of air he nearly missed.

    Can’t catch me…

    He glided towards it, putting a bit of power into his movements, rushing forward and still not close enough. He darted left and right, following the whisper rather than the Silver, for the Silver was all around him and the whisper was soft and evanescent.

    Then, all at once, the Silver was not all around him, but standing off to the side. And it was standing, because it had taken form, and become something magnificent.

    Youko turned slightly, a mere half turn, gazing at Hiei out of the corner of one glittering golden eye. The gaze was laughing at him, and the laugh was leading him on. Youko chuckled quietly.

    Can’t catch me…

    The nothingness vanished, all at once, in a brilliant flash of black, and Hiei was standing. Standing on the edge of a forest, and Youko perched in a tree, laughing.

    * * * * *

    ~Kurama~

    Swimming up through the blackness, he tried to wake himself, to wrench his unconsciousness away and look around.

    Wake up.

    Swimming…climbing…walking…running…

    “Kurama?”

    Run faster…

    “Hey, Urameshi, I think he’s coming around.”

    You’re almost there…

    “Yeah? Hey, Kurama, you okay there?”

    Just a little more…

    “C’mon, buddy, wake up!”

    Dim light of the room…

    “Kurama…”

    He opened his eyes slightly and blinked them closed again.

    “Yeah, Kurama, you’re up – I saw you open your eyes, you can’t fool me.”

    “Yuusuke…?”

    The voice he heard was hardly his own.

    He couldn’t even call it a voice, really. High, soft, slightly raspy, and sounding as though he had never tried to speak before. It was less a voice than it was a noise.

    Kuwabara’s next comment only proved his point.

    “…Urameshi, what did he say?”

    “…I think… I think he said ‘Yuusuke.’”

    You “think?” What else would I have said?

    I must sound even worse than I think…

    “Hey, Kuwabara, get a glass of water, will you?”

    “Get your own water, Urameshi.”

    Kurama could even envision Yuusuke’s glare. “For Kurama, baka. I can get my own.”

    He nearly laughed, but his throat was dry and it came out a silent whisper of air.

    “Arigatou gozaimasu…”

    “Hey, don’t try to speak, alright?” Kurama opened his eyes a bit and saw Yuusuke hovering over him, his expression worried. “You want water?”

    He nodded. “Domo…”

    “Stop it,” Yuusuke chided. “I can’t read your lips that well. Not well enough for a whole conversation, anyway.”

    Kuwabara appeared again, a glass in his left hand. For a moment, he paused, looking down with concern at his friend, then walking over and handing him the liquid. “Drink it, Kurama, maybe you’ll be able to speak a little.”

    Maybe…

    He painstakingly raised himself a fraction off the bed, leaning back against the wall and taking the water. Drinking slowly, he relished in the feel of the cool drink sliding down his throat, feeling his ability to speak slowly return. The glass drained, he set it on the floor beside him and turned to Yuusuke, who was now looking at him hopefully.

    “Arigatou,” he said. His voice was still hushed, but no longer high and raspy. But before worrying about that, he had to get on to more important things. “Where’s Hiei?”

    Things like that.

    Yuusuke looked at Kuwabara, who looked back stoically. Some sort of understanding passed between the two, and Kuwabara picked up the glass, ambling to the kitchen to fill it again. Turning to Kurama, Yuusuke sighed.

    “He’s in bad shape, Kurama. It’s been five hours now, and he’s still out, but after moving him from the field to here, suddenly no one can touch him. It’s like some special automatic defense of his was raised once he was in a safe place. He’s in my room, on the floor, and lying at a pretty bad angle.” He looked away, his eyes half-lidded. “I think he may have broken his leg or something, but Botan can’t get near him, and even if any of us could, no one but her and Yukina could heal him. And Yukina’s busy at the temple now – Kuwabara went to check – she’s taking care of something she can’t leave, I don’t know what. But we can’t ask her to leave it.”

    Yuusuke sighed again. “It’s gonna get worse before it gets better, Kurama.”

    Kurama had long since turned his gaze from Yuusuke to the bed sheets, emerald eyes glassy and blank.

    It was all his fault. He didn’t know why, but somehow, everything that was wrong with Hiei, every defense he had raised to keep them all away, every second his injuries were worsening, somehow it was all his fault.

    He had to do something…anything…

    * * * * *

    ~Hiei~

    I will catch you…

    Part of it was the game, the chase. Youko taunted that he couldn’t be caught, and Hiei rose to the challenge. But another part was something different, something more. Hiei wanted to catch Youko, he wanted to know what was wrong. Why was Youko here? Why had he been formed of Silver, and why had the Silver been formed of Black? What was going on?

    Can’t catch me…

    Hiei snarled at the laugh. Or so you think.

    He leapt towards the tree, flying into the branches, to the one where Youko knelt. As he arrived, suddenly, he was alone. Youko was gone.

    Can’t catch me…

    He looked back, down at the ground, and saw Youko standing exactly where he had been moments ago. Hiei was the one with the greater speed, and Youko couldn’t have known he would rise to the branch, so how had this happened?

    Because this was a dream, and dreams could not always be controlled.

    One step behind…

    I am NOT!

    One step ahead…

    Stop saying that!

    Can’t catch me…

    “I can!”

    Youko smirked at Hiei’s outcry.

    End game begin…
     
    #1 KitsuneSilver, May 28, 2004
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2004
  2. KitsuneSilver

    KitsuneSilver The Darkness cometh...

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    Chapter Two

    Chapter Two: To a Secret

    * * * * *

    ~Kurama~

    The news of Hiei’s self-confinement still ringing in his ears, Kurama continued his futile attempts to drag himself out of bed. Unfortunately, the strain of launching a full-on Kyuuketsu Shokubutsu was wearing heavily on his body, and he still couldn’t talk properly, let alone stand on his own.

    Resigned to waiting for himself to recover, Kurama lay against the wall and huffed quietly.

    He had been resigned to occupying himself with thought quite often the last few days, he noticed absently.

    But his thoughts were droll and boring, and the half of him that was Youko quickly protested.

    No mathematics. No sciences. No verbal arts. No school. You know where your mind is going to run in the end, don’t you? Why fight it at all? Give in. You like it. You know it.

    …I do, don’t I?

    He could virtually see Youko standing before him, smirking, waving his hand in a taunting goad. I’ve already admitted my love for him, what more can I give?

    You can give me everything I ever wanted, my little friend, but that’s hardly the issue here. Is it?

    Don’t ask questions you know the answer to.

    Perhaps.

    …What can I do? He’s shut himself off from the world and I can’t break his walls… I can’t save him, so what good am I?

    None. I am worthless. I can do nothing useful.

    …Can I?

    Maybe Hiei would open himself to Kurama where he had opened to no one else. Maybe the love he held for Kurama would let him through. Maybe only Kurama could break through the walls, and he was killing Hiei in his resistant biding.

    …But maybe not.

    * * * * *

    ~Hiei~

    You will not fool me.

    Youko laughed again, a wicked, deep sound. Hiei shivered in spite of himself and Youko smirked.

    You see? You quiver at the mere sound of my voice, and at the same time, you hope to become my lover? My mate? Is that what you desire?

    Hiei shook his head, turning stubbornly away, his eyes burning in spite of himself. “No, no, no it’s not, no, no…”

    It is, isn’t it? You cannot lie to me. You cannot lie to me who is part of your own mind. You cannot hide your true desires from me. You wish to tame the wild spirit living inside Kurama, do you not? You wish to claim Youko, to make him docile, to own him.

    “I do NOT!”

    You wish Youko to be your own, and as your own, he shall be under your order, he must respect your desires. And he must break for you.

    “NO! Stop saying that, it isn’t true!”

    It is.

    “NO!”

    I am Youko, and I am you. I am a perfect balance. I am the Black of your Forbidden soul, and I am the Silver of his brilliant beauty, and I am one and the same, and I know.

    “You don’t know anything…”

    But I do.

    “You DON’T!”

    Stop fooling yourself, child – you can’t hope to understand me. And in your lack of understanding, you have a lack of power. You cannot own me, for you do not know me. Do you not know that every lover I take I discard?

    “Of course I know. Do you take me for a fool?”

    But, little one, do you know that every one I take – do you know what I tell them?

    “You’re a liar.”

    Do you know that I tell them all I love them?

    Hiei stumbled back in the tree where he sat, nearly falling, catching himself at the last possible moment. A heated flush rose to his face, but it wasn’t embarrassment, or anything of the sort – no, it was anger. A raging fury burning inside of him, the proof of the ages of hatred and betrayal roiling in the pits of his soul.

    “I DON’T CARE!” he thundered. “I knew you would betray me when I told you I loved you! I knew I was being stupid! Don’t you think I knew?” He took a heaving breath, not daring to look at Youko below him. “But these stupid feelings got in the way of what should have been simply a heated kiss, of making love, of forgetting about it the next day! I hate you! Get out of my head!”

    Don’t you care, child? I am you, and you are me, and I know… Child, I know you care… Child, you are me, and I am you…and I know…

    “But you aren’t really him…you can’t be… I am not him, and I cannot be him, and if you are a part of me, you cannot be him… No part of me could ever attain his perfection…” Hiei dropped to the ground, and Youko did not flee. “You’re lying…”

    Youko made no move to leave, but knelt to Hiei’s eye level and smiled. Not warmly, but not bitter, either. Something between the two, something even. Something, somehow, unthreatening.

    “Maybe you’re right, little one, maybe I’m not Youko. Maybe I’m only you. Maybe I’m only a figment of your imagination that you’ve sent to trick yourself, to make yourself unworthy. Did you ever think of that? Did you ever think of ‘maybe?’”

    Hiei nodded this time, kneeling to the ground as well and raising Youko even further above him. He shook with unshed tears and silent sobs. Had he been watching, he would have seen Youko’s smile go soft.

    “It’s been nearly seven hours, little one… Do you suppose it’s time to wake up?”

    Hiei shook his head no, bending over, his forehead pressed against the ground and his arms over his neck. “No…no, I don’t ever want to leave… I don’t ever want to leave you… No…”

    Youko bent over further now, almost to the ground, and slipped his fingers under Hiei’s chin, raising his head. The little youkai’s cheeks were flushed, his eyes tightly shut and his hands raised over them.

    “You’ll never leave me, little one. Never. Even if I never love you, I’m a part of you whether you like it or not, and we’ll never be apart. You know that, don’t you?”

    Hiei choked out a response that may have been a yes, or may have been a no. Youko smiled again, even softer this time.

    “Come on now, it’s time to wake up.”

    * * * * *

    ~Kurama~

    Regardless of what he could or could not do, he had to try, for his own sake as well as Hiei’s. He had to try to reach him. He had to do something.

    Carefully, slowly, he dragged his legs over to the edge of the mattress, resting his feet on the floor. His breathing quickened just slightly, and he paused before moving on.

    Resting a hand on the floorboards, Kurama raised himself up off the floor, wavering just slightly and bracing himself on the wall. Moving his hand along the flat surface as a blind person might, he guided himself to the door and crossed from “his” room to the one Hiei was supposedly in. Leaning on the doorframe, he gazed in.

    Sure enough, there was Hiei, exactly as Yuusuke had said – lying on the floor at a bad angle, his left leg apparently broken.

    He instinctively wanted to run to his friend, to kneel beside him and heal him, reset his leg and banish the darkness clearly surrounding him. But that wasn’t really an option, was it? Hiei would chase him away, probably, and even if he wouldn’t, Kurama wasn’t sure he was strong enough yet to reach Hiei, much less heal him.

    Hiei stirred slightly and silently murmured a name.

    “Kurama…”

    Kurama started. He hadn’t been mistaken, he was sure – if nothing else, he knew he could always read his name on someone’s lips. Did Hiei sense his presence? Was Hiei awake? Or…no, Hiei wasn’t awake – perhaps dreaming…? Dreaming of him…?

    “Hiei…” he whispered in response. Hiei stirred again. “Are you awake?”

    He asked it even when he knew – Hiei was not awake, and Hiei could not hear him.

    Dreaming…? Dreaming of him…?

    * * * * *

    ~Hiei~

    “Yes…” he whispered, near silent, now floating in the blackest reaches of his mind. “Yes, it’s time to wake up…”

    He sighed noiselessly. “Arigatou gozaimasu…Kurama…”

    He twitched in his half-sleep.

    * * * * *

    ~Kurama~

    He stood watching from the doorframe.

    Please, Hiei…please wake up… We need you, Hiei…please wake up…

    Hiei twitched.

    Kurama prayed.

    One crimson eye opened, and Hiei looked over to the door.

    “Kurama…?”
     
  3. KitsuneSilver

    KitsuneSilver The Darkness cometh...

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    Chapter Three

    Chapter Three: Place Amongst Stars

    ~Hiei~

    He strained to open one eye, his vision fuzzy and full of blurred masses of color. A tall, slender mass stood before a block of darkness, topped in blue and red, its lower half decked in white. Hiei blinked, and the colors solidified themselves into Kurama standing before an open door, the lights behind him all turned off.

    “Kurama…?”

    Kurama walked stiffly into the room, kneeling before him and raising a hand over his head. Hiei could make out a hazy, dark glow, and as the colors solidified and his vision returned, he became aware of a pulsing headache echoing throughout his mind. He closed his eyes tightly, even letting out a small whimper as he tried to sit up and found something wrong with one of his legs.

    “My – my leg–” he began, trying to move his arm to gesture at the offending limb.

    “Shh,” came the soft whisper from above him. “It’s alright, Hiei. Don’t speak. I’m going to try and heal you – but you have to let down your mental barriers, alright? So I can touch you.”

    That must have been the black glow – Kurama’s hand meeting his barriers. But…but that must have hurt, and he had promised himself never to hurt Kurama…

    Hiei nodded slightly, pressuring himself to lower the barriers. He felt the familiar tickle flicker, then fade completely, and opened his mouth to speak.

    Kurama laid a finger on his lips. “Shh. It’s alright. I can touch you. Don’t speak. Don’t strain.”

    Hiei nodded again.

    He felt Kurama lay his hands on the injured bone, feeling for the break to heal it. A warmth spread through his leg as the familiar red youki seeped into it, resetting the crack and mending it.

    “Domo…arigatou, Kurama.”

    He looked up at Kurama’s gentle smile. “Hiei, it’s nearly midnight. Do you want to sleep here? Until morning, at least. It would be good for your wound.” He rocked back on his heels. “We should both be back up to at least ninety percent with a full night’s rest, maybe even one hundred. What with all the sleeping we just did, anyway.”

    Hiei turned his head a bit and looked around at the unfamiliar room. “Where are we?”

    Kurama laughed softly. “Yuusuke’s house. You feel save with him around – I know you do, don’t try to deny it – and I’m sure they won’t sleep until they know you’re well.”

    “Won’t they know I’m well when they come in here?”

    A shake of Kurama’s head negated his question. “They think I’m trying to heal you.”

    “But you did heal me,” Hiei interrupted. Kurama waved a hand passively. “I know that, and so do you, but they think I’m still working at it. They won’t want to interrupt me, but they’ll stay awake all night, if they have to, waiting for me to come out and tell them how you’re doing.”

    Hiei looked sideways at the floor where he lay. He was so tired, and the offer was tempting… A safe place to sleep off his weary half-powered state, and a friend to sleep in his room…

    But that was precisely the problem, wasn’t it? No matter how much Kurama promised he was a friend, that Youko would stay dormant, Hiei couldn’t help but review the dream over and over, every time he closed his eyes.

    You wish to tame the wild spirit living inside Kurama, do you not? You wish to claim Youko, to make him docile, to own him.

    It wasn’t true, it couldn’t be true, and he knew it wasn’t. But what Youko had said, what the Youko living inside the deepest reaches of his mind had known…it was too glaring to ignore…

    You cannot own me, for you do not know me. Do you not know that every lover I take I discard?

    Every lover discarded, thrown away with the trash, banned from his dens, never allowed to return, to even see him again, unless to be killed for something or another… Hiei didn’t want to end up like that.

    But he knew, if he drew himself too deep into Kurama’s world, it would happen, and there was nothing he could do to change it. Youko would take him and use him, make him feel wanted, needed, and return it by throwing him away. He couldn’t bear any more pain in his life, not from someone else he loved. Not from Kurama. Not from Youko. For he loved them both, loved them equally; they were one and the same, and he could not love one and hate the other.

    But, what the Youko inside him had said, it still haunted his vision every time he closed his eyes…

    But, little one, do you know that every one I take – do you know what I tell them?

    No, no, I don’t, and I don’t want to know… I’m happy in my ignorance… I want you to love me, at no price…

    Do you know that I tell them all I love them?

    It wasn’t true, it couldn’t be… Kurama was different now… He wouldn’t tell Hiei he loved him unless he meant it…

    He blinked, and the rest of the vision came to him, bleary and cool…

    “Maybe you’re right, little one, maybe I’m not Youko. Maybe I’m only you…”

    Maybe, maybe, maybe…

    “…Did you ever think of ‘maybe?’”

    Maybe he did, maybe he thought, maybe he knew… Maybe…

    Maybe he could sleep in the presence of his friend…

    Maybe…

    * * * * *

    ~Kurama~

    Kurama rolled over from his spot on the floor, gazing at Hiei. His prone form lay against the wall, back turned to Kurama, fists clenched tightly by his heart as he panted slightly. His newly healed leg was curled beneath his uninjured one, pulled in against his body. He slept restlessly, tossing slightly, but he did sleep. Sort of…

    Kurama nearly wept for him.

    Hiei…what are you thinking?

    Are you dreaming of me, Hiei?

    …Am I frightening you?

    Kurama thought, long and hard, dictating a letter to his friend. His best friend, his little youkai no faia, his precious partner, his beautiful Forbidden Child…

    I don’t mean to scare you, Hiei… I love you far too much to hurt you like that…

    You don’t believe me, do you? Don’t lie, my friend – I can see it in your eyes.

    Your beautiful ruby eyes… So elegant, so deep, so pained and yet so beautiful…

    You know Youko was – is – a ruthless lover, and you know – you must know, I can’t bear to tell you… You know he doesn’t ever truly love anyone… Please, Hiei, don’t take that wrong… I’m different now, and I love you. Youko loves you too, even if he never admits it – I wouldn’t bet that he would, but he – the half of me that is him – he loves you too, and I – all of me – can’t handle seeing you hurt.

    Please don’t hurt me this way, Hiei… I never meant to hurt you… But I don’t deserve you, and you deserve so much better than me… You probably think the same of yourself, don’t you? You think I deserve better than you, you think I deserve something untainted, something that isn’t Forbidden…

    Hiei, I don’t deserve much. And even if I did, I wouldn’t want any of it. I want you. I want you because I love you, not some sleazy hooker trying to pick me up. And Hiei, my friend, even if you are tainted, Forbidden, whatever you may be…maybe I want that, too.

    Hiei, I want you.

    * * * * *

    ~Hiei~

    He slept, sort of, turning over and over amidst the images surrounding him. Kurama with his human mother… Kurama with Yuusuke… Kurama with Kuwabara… Kurama with Yukina… Kurama with…with Hiei…

    Youko fighting for his life… Youko with Uraurishima… Youko with Karasu… Youko with Sensui… Youko with Kuronue… Youko with Team Urameshi… Youko with Hiei…

    Do you know that I tell them all I love them?

    Was it true? No, no, it couldn’t be. His doubts were overcoming him and banishing all logic and reason. Even so, Kurama hadn’t quite said he loved Hiei, not the way he wanted, so it didn’t matter.

    But what if he did?

    That was wishful thinking, absurd thought that he wanted to be true so much that he was beginning to believe it was. Kurama, no matter what he said, didn’t love Hiei “that way.”

    Did he?

    No, dammit, no. Stop saying that, he berated himself.

    There is a way to find out, you know.

    Submersed in his alternate half-reality, Hiei spoke to himself as two different people, and both had the answer. But only one knew it.

    I can’t. There is no way I will do that to him.

    It’s the only way to know for sure.

    I will not. It could damage him beyond healing.

    You would ask first, of course.

    That doesn’t matter. He can’t know all the possible side effects.

    You could tell him.

    The decision would be rash. He wouldn’t think it through enough.

    He thinks everything through enough.

    But…but I can’t… I can’t hurt someone else I love…

    But you have no other choice.

    …I have to…

    You do.

    I have the power to do it…

    You do.

    …I can.

    Yes.

    He would do it. He would probe into Kurama’s mind, his very soul, to find the answers he sought. He would use the Jagan, and everything would be all right.

    Awareness came slowly and he dragged himself through murky layers of unconsciousness, up towards the light, up towards Kurama.

    He woke, and he rolled over.

    “Kurama, are you awake?”

    Emerald green met ruby red and Kurama smiled.

    “Yes.”

    Hiei took a breath. “Kurama…there is something I must do…to you.”
     
  4. KitsuneSilver

    KitsuneSilver The Darkness cometh...

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    Chapter Four

    Chapter Four: Where Everything Is

    ~Kurama~

    His response was instantaneous and reflexive. “Anything.”

    Hiei gazed at him with a sort of hesitant admiration, thankfulness buried under startled awe. He sat up slowly and blinked, looking away, but just slightly. It was as if he wanted nothing more than to gaze upon the fox, but could not. Kurama smiled warmly.

    Gently resting two fingers under Hiei’s chin, he lifted his friend’s gaze to meet his own. “It’s alright, Hiei. I can take whatever it is you need to do. I’ll be all right.” Hiei averted his gaze with half-lidded eyes and Kurama knelt slightly, catching the youkai’s gaze again. “You can’t worry about hurting me, Hiei. If this is something you need to do, then I accept that, and I’m ready. Promise me you’ll do whatever it is you need to.”

    Hiei blinked and looked up at Kurama. “…I promise.” He took a breath and smiled, just slightly, the barest hint of a grin on his lips. Kurama saw it, and Kurama leaned in, pressing his forehead to Hiei’s.

    “Do whatever you need to, Hiei. I want you to feel secure around me, alright?”

    “…Alright.”

    Kurama took one of Hiei’s hands in his. “This has to do with the Jagan, doesn’t it?”

    Hiei nodded against Kurama’s forehead, his eyes closed again. “It does. Are you sure you still want to do it?” Prolonged exposure to the probing of the Jagan could be mentally damaging for life, Kurama knew, but if Hiei felt he needed to know something he could only know with the Jagan, then Kurama would accept that.

    “I am.”

    Hiei reached up and tore away his bandana, revealing the glowing purple eye. He cradled one hand against Kurama’s face and Kurama leaned into the touch, barely noticing when Hiei activated his third eye and they both slipped into unconsciousness.

    * * * * *

    ~Hiei~

    The familiar wave of unreality and confusion brought on by the Jagan swept over him, and he swam down towards what his perspective told him would be ground. Of course, no such thing awaited him; the Jagan had no up or down, and there was no ground to stand upon.

    He floated for some time, but the Jagan had no time, either, and so he simply floated in nothingness in some cross-dimensional pocket. Everything was black and created of swirls, but as he registered this, it was suddenly no longer black, but pulsing, fiery red. Each time he noticed the color of the Void, it changed, and as he looked about, the colors flickered from green to blue to orange to white to something indiscernible, indescribable.

    He landed with a weightless thump on the ground that suddenly was.

    He spun in a slow circle, looking up as he turned. Image after image looped around him, from Kurama sitting in a tree as a child to Youko watching Kuronue meet his bloody demise.

    He walked towards a deep ravine, a dip in the flat planes of Kurama’s otherwise overflowing mind. Kneeling and peering into it, he saw nothing for miles in either direction.

    Then he saw Kurama.

    He was sitting on the ground, knees drawn up to his chest and arms wrapped around them, one hand supporting his chin. Bloodred hair blew in the wind from nowhere, and as Hiei watched, the red began to fade. Streaks lightened to silver, and Kurama lay flat on his back on the ground and sighed. Two furry silver ears slowly poked through the top of his hair, flicking to catch the sounds surrounding him, and a long, silky tail draped itself over his waist.

    Hiei carefully climbed down the ravine, so as not to startle Kurama upon his arrival. He padded over to his friend softly and noticed that, while Kurama appeared to be caught in the process of transforming into Youko, he still had Kurama’s lesser height and sparkling green eyes.

    “…Kurama?”

    Emerald eyes didn’t turn from their gazing, locked on nothing, as Kurama responded. “Konbanwa, Hiei.”

    Hiei paused at the answer, startled by Kurama’s tone. It was not the soft alto he had come to expect from his friend, but a flat, monotonous drone, meant purely to communicate a point. He sat by Kurama’s head, making sure not to touch the interlacing bloodred and glittering silver strands, and keeping well clear of the soft silver triangles.

    “What’s wrong with you, Kurama?”

    Kurama still didn’t look at him as he responded. “What’s wrong? Nothing’s wrong. I’m just tired, that’s all.”

    “Bullshìt,” Hiei snapped. “Tell me, Kurama. Tell me what’s wrong so we can fix it. I don’t want you this way – this isn’t the way you were meant to be. Tell me.”

    “What’s wrong?” Kurama whispered. “Everything’s wrong.”

    Hiei stopped, his expression freezing somewhere between extraordinary pity and impatient anger. “Hontouni,” he retorted.

    “Hontouni…”

    “Well then, you’d better begin talking.”

    Kurama looked to the side again, a foolish sort of smile on his face and a strange glitter in his eyes. Gold began to blend with emerald and Hiei shivered.

    “Mother is getting married soon…” he whispered.

    “Yes, Kurama, I know,” Hiei replied, making sure to keep his voice soft and inviting. “I know she is.”

    “He has a son named Shuuichi…”

    “I know,” Hiei lied smoothly. “I know he does, it’s alright. It’s alright, Kurama.”

    “My life is going to change again…”

    Again.

    “Kurama, don’t you want your mother to be happy? To get married again? To start a new life, to have someone to care for and to care for her when you leave?”

    Tears glittered at the corners of Kurama’s gold-speckled green eyes, threatening to spill. “I don’t want a new life… Not again… Youko can’t handle another one…”

    Hiei tentatively laid a hand on Kurama’s arm and lightly rubbed up and down. “Youko can handle anything you throw at him, Kurama, because Youko is you, and I know you can do it all. Youko can leave when he has to, when he wants to, and Youko will be okay.”

    Tears trailed down his cheek and he curled into a ball, turned towards Hiei. A sob wracked his body, and he lowered his head. “I don’t want to, not again… She can’t take me this way and I don’t have anywhere else to put it… These feelings, I’ve got nothing else to do with them…”

    “You don’t have to bear this alone, Kurama. You don’t have to be the stoic one. That’s my job,” Hiei murmured. “I’m the one with no one, not you. You’ve got Yuusuke and Kuwabara, and Shiori, and a life. You’ve got all of that.”

    You’ve got me.

    “Do I? Really, do I?”

    The question caught Hiei off guard, but then he realized that in Kurama’s mind, Kurama was in control, and if he wanted to see Hiei’s thoughts before him, he would. Hiei nodded.

    “Yes, Kurama, you’ve got me too. I’m here for you and I can forget I love you when you need me.” He laughed hollowly. “Maybe, later on, I won’t even love you anymore, and it won’t be a problem.”

    * * * * *

    ~Kurama~

    No…I don’t want that… You don’t understand…

    “I want her to be happy…”

    “Kurama,” Hiei murmured warmly, “she can’t be happy with her precious, perfect son brooding around the house being a sulky little punk who won’t even tell her what’s wrong. But you can’t tell her what’s wrong until you know, can you? And do you know? Kurama?”

    He closed his eyes and curled in on himself even tighter. “I do…”

    “Kurama…tell me… Tell me, and we can make it… Together, we can get you out of this madness… Because I know that’s what it is, Kurama – it’s madness. You aren’t like this, not really, but you can’t get yourself back to…yourself, the real you, until you figure out what’s wrong and get beyond it.” Hiei brushed back a lock of red hair, and it turned silver at his touch. “Tell me, Kurama, tell me what’s wrong.”

    “…I can’t… Hiei, this isn’t you talking to me…and I can’t tell someone I don’t know what’s tearing me up inside…”

    “What do you mean, Kurama?” Hiei asked, sounding genuinely confused. “This is me. This is as real as I get.”

    “No, it isn’t… This is some warped variation of you, turning yourself into someone who can talk to me and understand my pain, but Hiei, you aren’t really this… You aren’t this talkative, you aren’t this sweet on a whim, aren’t this…perfect. You’re hurting, Hiei, operating under the influence of broken dreams. I don’t want that. I don’t want that for you.”

    Hiei paused, the silver-red lock of hair between his fingers, and Kurama suddenly leapt out of his stillness to wrap Hiei in a fierce hug. Burrowing his face into Hiei’s neck, Kurama whispered softly to him, suddenly reversing the roles.

    “Can’t you be you, Hiei? Can’t you do that for me? For Yukina? For the rest of the team? For you? This isn’t real, Hiei, this is just some façade you’ve put on to make me feel better, but Hiei, I can’t feel better until I know you’re being you. Please, Hiei, this isn’t the you I know so well. Please, go back to before…”

    Hiei balked, frozen in place, his arms raised as if to set a defensive stance, body poised to leap up and run. Kurama nuzzled his hair and choked back a sob.

    Not myself…?

    “No, Hiei, you’re not yourself and I can’t live with myself until I know you’re being you. Not some faked-up illusion to make me feel better. You deserve to be happy and that means you have to be who you are, not who I need.”

    “But…”

    “But what, Hiei?” he asked, perhaps more harshly than he’d intended.

    “But you’ll – I can’t–”

    What if – what if you betray me?

    Kurama leaned back and looked Hiei in the eye, his expression firm and stoic.

    “Is that what this is about, Hiei? The Jagan? This delving into my mind to find ‘something?’ Is that what this is?”

    “I – I don’t – I didn’t mean it to turn out–”

    “But that’s what this is, Hiei,” Kurama whispered, his voice low and nearly silent, his expression defeated. “Hiei…I understand why you might think that, but… I don’t know how to tell you this any other way… I won’t betray anything that’s mine…”

    Hiei looked away, glaring at nothing. Is that what this will be? “You’ll ‘own’ me, is that it?” he asked sharply, remembering that the confines of his mind were no longer safe.

    “No! Hiei – I don’t think anyone could ever own you, I wouldn’t dream of it – I just – I would… Hiei…”

    More tears fell from Kurama’s eyes and he, too, looked to the ground.

    “Hiei, I want to wake up…”

    * * * * *

    Hontouni: Really
     
  5. KitsuneSilver

    KitsuneSilver The Darkness cometh...

    Joined:
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    Chapter Five

    Chapter Five: Mysterious and Magical

    ~Hiei~

    Was he kind and giving? Even if only to a precious few? Was he the caring big brother to Yukina?

    …Was he the selfish bastard, Forbidden in his own right?

    “…Kurama, I need to know. This is the only place I can truly find out.”

    Kurama released him and turned away, his eyes watering again. “You don’t trust my word…?” he whispered, hurt and even confused. Hiei painstakingly held back his own tears.

    “No, Kurama, that isn’t it – I do trust you, with all my heart, but…but I don’t know…”

    “Hiei, you must know…for my sake… You must know, for me.”

    Swallowing his heart and replacing “stoic” upon his face, Hiei looked directly at Kurama. “I trust you with my life, Kurama. I don’t know if I trust Youko.”

    The half-transformed boy gasped and edged back a bit, lacing his fingers through silver and red hair and curling the brilliant tail protectively around his waist. His ears twitched wildly for a moment before flattening to his skull, glittering amidst newly turned patches of pure silver and shining in a light that seemed to only affect Kurama.

    A million thoughts darted around Hiei at once, diving down from the cliff ledges above the ravine and swirling through the pair’s very existences, taking on and losing substance like water and ice. He doesn’t trust me? He doesn’t trust all of me? He doesn’t trust Youko? Doesn’t trust Youko to do what? Why won’t he open himself to me? What have I done wrong? What have I said? What haven’t I said? What haven’t I done that I should have? Why is this my fault? What did I do?

    “NO!” Hiei shouted suddenly, overwhelmed by the hundreds of uncertain questions. “No, Kurama, you’ve done nothing wrong! It’s not your fault, not at all!” Crawling towards his friend, Hiei drowned the last of his pride, as well, and grasped Kurama’s arms. “Kurama, if it’s anyone’s fault, it’s mine. I should never have done this to you, put you in this situation, dived so deeply into your mind and corrupted such a precious thing. If you must blame someone, let it be me.

    “Hiei…” came the frightened whisper, the uncertainty of a thousand years old kitsune confronted with a situation he did not know how to handle and exposed in such a manner that nothing was safe, and nothing could be concealed. Youko was unsure, and so Shuuichi did not know what he was confronting, and Kurama was scared.

    “Hiei…we are one and the same, Youko and I. Two beings make up this body, and they are equally combined into the being you are holding in your arms.” For Hiei was holding him in his arms, clasped in something like a desperate hug, an attempt to wrench them both back to reality in the confines of an ancient mind that perhaps did not even know what reality was anymore. “You cannot love one and fear the other… You will only be hurt for it, and that isn’t what I want…”

    Hiei leaned back, still not releasing his hold, and blinked back something that may have been a tear.

    “Kurama… I don’t know if I – I mean, I can’t – I…”

    For once, his fluid intellect had turned to a mass of nothingness, and Hiei couldn’t even arrange his thoughts to portray the idea he meant to get across.

    “Kurama, I think it’s time to wake up…”

    * * * * *

    ~Kurama~

    He was lying spreadeagle on the floor, eyes tightly shut and fists clenched. The first thing Kurama noticed about his position was that something heavy was lying across him, but the last thing he wanted was to open his eyes.

    Instead, he felt around his torso, drawing his hand across a long, thin mass of something solid that he quickly named as muscle. That would mean the mass was Hiei, unless one of the others had come to interrupt him, which was unlikely. He took great pains to drag his eyes open, and saw his little friend draped over his body, a blanket hugging him, keeping his warm against the unseasonable summer breeze penetrating the walls.

    Hiei’s eyes were also locked shut, but the Jagan remained open, purple glowing faintly, lowered to Kurama’s chest when Hiei had lost his balance. Kurama lightly trailed a finger across Hiei’s back, and the Jaganshi shuddered.

    “Hiei-chan,” he teased quietly, “time to wake up.”

    Hiei’s eyes squeezed shut further, and he ducked his head slightly. Shaking it back and forth tickled Kurama’s chest, and the kitsune laughed.

    “C’mon, Hiei… I have something to tell you,” he tantalized. “I can’t exactly tell the top of your head, now, can I?”

    A little joking sometimes went a long way, but Kurama hoped this time wouldn’t land him further in hot water than he already might be. Hiei shivered, involuntarily or otherwise, Kurama couldn’t tell, and raised himself up above Kurama, a hand to his head.

    “Head rush?” Kurama asked kindly, stroking his friend’s back lightly. Hiei nodded. “The Jagan does that sometimes…but I should be alright in a minute.”

    “I would certainly hope so…”

    Hiei peered at him questioningly. Hope so?

    He hopes I’m going to be alright? But…but Youko doesn’t…and we aren’t even in battle…and I don’t…

    I don’t know…

    “Why?”

    Kurama looked sideways, a tint of a blush decorating his features and his eyes half-lidded. Crimson strands fell across his throat and shielded his face, and he murmured a shaky response.

    “Of course, Hiei, you’re my friend, and I want you to be better. Even if it is just a simple head rush.”

    “That’s not it,” Hiei scolded instantly. Something more was there, and he wanted to know what it was.

    “Hiei, are you feeling better?” he asked instead, distracting the conversation. Hiei blinked.

    “Yes…”

    “Then I’m happy,” Kurama concluded. “No questions asked, not here. Not in such a…tranquil environment. My friend was pained, he is healthy now, and I am happy.”

    Hiei picked himself up and sat back on Kurama’s waist, frowning in confusion. Kurama was not speaking in the liquid alto Hiei knew so well, but a choppy, strained voice, a voice keeping a secret it could not let out. Kurama smiled at his adorable confusion, stubbornly ignoring the slight discomfort of Hiei’s weight on his middle.

    “Hiei, this is nice and all, but would you kindly…get up?” he asked finally, not sure he could take any more of the ever-growing soreness in his abdomen. The little youkai rolled off him, and they both stood up, one leaning on the other.

    “Think you can stand on your own?” Hiei asked, only the smallest hint of stinging sarcasm behind the words. Kurama reached around and knocked on his head lightly.

    “That wasn’t necessary.”

    “No,” Hiei countered, “but it entertained me.” He paused, posing as if in thought. “Barely.”

    Kurama glared at his friend, who stepped back and dropped his supportive hold on Kurama’s waist. Not expecting the loss, Kurama stumbled, tripping over the mat and almost falling flat on his face, but for Hiei’s arm snapping out and pulling him upright at the last moment.

    “That wasn’t, either.”

    “That’s true,” Hiei replied nonchalantly, making his way towards the door.

    * * * * *

    ~Hiei~

    Having his fun with the red-haired kitsune was all well and good, but they were in need of a serious discussion. One he wouldn’t be at a disadvantage for, when Kurama couldn’t read his every thought before he could even decipher them. Somehow, he felt a change in atmosphere would be necessary for the conversation, or, if not necessary, then at least a great help, to his nerves if not to his friend’s.

    Gaining stability with every passing second, Hiei made his way to the last room of the house he was sure would be vacant: the one where Kurama had slept off the Kyuuketsu Shokubutsu.

    Padding in the door, he immediately collapsed on the futon, leaning back against the wall and looking at the door expectantly, waiting for Kurama. He didn’t have to wait long before his friend entered, kneeling on the mat somewhat more gracefully than Hiei himself had, and laying himself down, propped up on one arm.

    “Chat?” he asked conversationally. Hiei nodded slightly.

    “Yes…chat.”

    It was indeed a productive idea, but neither party seemed willing to instigate it.

    Kurama opened his mouth as if to speak, and Hiei nearly smiled at the end of the silence, until Kurama’s mouth closed and no words came out.

    Hiei turned his head to watch the wall and appeared to be ready to speak something himself, and it was Kurama’s turn to smile at the silence’s end, but Hiei, too, closed his mouth before speaking.

    The each looked off at a different wall, sometimes the floor, sometimes the ceiling, but never at each other. Kurama blushed, and Hiei rubbed a hand through his hair.

    Alright, this has gone far enough.

    Hiei spontaneously leaned in and kissed Kurama.
     
  6. KitsuneSilver

    KitsuneSilver The Darkness cometh...

    Joined:
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    Chapter Six

    Last chapter in the series, an epilogue in the works, thanks to Kylewayne for reviewing. Yeah, all that stuff.

    Chapter Six: And Nobody Knows

    ~Kurama~

    Kurama would have gasped in shock if he had been able. As it was, he could only look down at his friend, crouched on all fours and craning his neck upwards towards Kurama. His eyes still wide, Kurama lost his balance and fell back to the mattress, Hiei falling with him and landing sprawled across his chest.

    His contact slipping with the fall, Hiei raised himself up on his elbows and looked down into Kurama’s still-wide emerald eyes.

    “…I take it you didn’t approve,” he said matter-of-factly. Kurama gaped a bit.

    “I suppose I knew you wouldn’t,” Hiei continued softly, sounding defeated. “But now, at least, I know what it’s like for the others you’ve had. At least…sort of.”

    Kurama blinked back the resonating awe at Hiei’s actions and sat up, toppling the little youkai to his lap. “What are you, insane?” he asked bluntly, raking a hand through his tousled red locks. “That was nothing like anything anyone’s ever tried to do to me.”

    Hiei looked at him sadly, picking himself up out of Kurama’s lap and padding to the door.

    “Alright,” he murmured, “I see. I’d better let Yuusuke and the fool know I’m alright before they get worried enough to come check on me.”

    Kurama blinked confusedly at his retreating back. “…See what?” he asked quietly, though he knew the youkai was already too far down the hall to hear him.

    Oh well. You’ll see him later – you can ask him then.

    Of course. He would ask Hiei the next time they were in the same room.

    …Together. Alone. Just the two of them.

    You don’t want to tell Yuusuke or Kuwabara?

    No. This is personal, especially if Hiei thinks what I believe he does.

    What does he think?

    …He thinks I hate him.

    Kurama started halfway through raising himself off the floor, falling back to the mat. Hiei probably did think that, didn’t he? Kurama hadn’t exactly been…inviting when describing the kiss. “…Nothing like anything anyone’s ever done to me.”

    It had been unlike anything he had ever experienced, but for once in his life, he had been running on emotion and not on his mind, and look where it had gotten him. He had been rash and blunt, and Hiei couldn’t have taken it well. Hiei had misinterpreted his words and now he thought the one he loved had abandoned any care for him at all.

    Pressing his hand to the hardwood floor and pushing off it to jump to his feet, Kurama followed Hiei’s path out the door to greet Yuusuke and Kuwabara.

    * * * * *

    ~Hiei~

    I should have known. Hell, who am I kidding, I did know. I did it anyway. Oh well…at least I’m not disappointed…

    Disappointed in more ways than one, he thought sullenly.

    Did it anyway, at any cost…

    Shut up.

    Ch, you can’t run from the truth forever.

    He stepped into the foyer and took in the scene before him. Yuusuke was sitting on the couch with his head in his hands, muttering under his breath, and Kuwabara was pacing before his friend, periodically stopping to utter some truth-seeking jargon to the ceiling. Hiei watched for another moment before clearing his throat.

    Kuwabara looked over, hurriedly covering his relief with scorn. “Shrimp,” he acknowledged solemnly. Hiei glared, entirely not in the mood to tolerate his teammate’s manners.

    Yuusuke turned and saw him, his face instantly lighting up. “Hey, Hiei. So Kurama was able to get through to you, ne?”

    Hiei walked around to sit on the far end of the couch, opposite Yuusuke. “You could say that,” he allowed cryptically.

    Yuusuke blinked. “…Right. So, where is Kurama? I thought he’d come out with you when he was finished. Or is he passed out, or something?”

    Hiei shook his head. “He’s not passed out, but I don’t know where he is,” he lied. “He’ll probably come out in a minute.”

    Exactly on cue, Kurama stepped through the doorway and leaned over the back of the couch. “Hello, Yuusuke,” he said politely. “Everything alright here?”

    Yuusuke jumped, distracted by Hiei’s mysterious tones and not hearing his friend enter the room. “H-hey,” he said hurriedly, rubbing the back of his neck. “How’re you doing, Kurama? Not too tired?”

    “No,” Kurama answered with a smile. He was practiced enough at faking good cheer that Yuusuke wasn’t suspicious, despite what Kurama thought was obvious falseness to the expression. “I took a bit of a rest before coming out here, and I’m all right. And you all?”

    “Oh, we’re fine,” Yuusuke assured him. “No problems. Kuwabara’s waxing philosophical over there, so there hasn’t been much for me to do but wonder what’s going on with you two back there.” His smile faltered a bit. “You’re sure you’re both okay? You look sort of tense, or something like that.”

    “It’s nothing,” Hiei interrupted sharply. “There are no problems between Kurama and myself.” He paused a bit before continuing. “And if there were, if there ever are, it is hardly your place to try solving them.”

    Yuusuke balked. He was used to Hiei being anti-social, but this was crossing the line a little. No, actually, that was ridiculous – this wasn’t “crossing the line a little,” this was leaping a clear kilometer beyond it.

    “What’s your deal?” he asked snappishly. Hiei glared at his tone, but nothing more.

    “Not that it’s any of your business,” he began, stressing the word, “but we were having a rather important discussion before we came in here. Far beyond your mental capacity, I’m sure.”

    “Now, Hiei,” Kurama berated. “Let’s not get Yuusuke dragged down into our personal problems, alright? He’s…got enough to deal with on his own.” The scolding was less that than it was a subtle hint not to bring up their relationship in front of anyone who didn’t need to be brought into it. And that was essentially everyone. Hiei gave Yuusuke one more glare for good measure and dropped the subject.

    “Anti-social…” Yuusuke countered weakly. Hiei huffed slightly and turned his head away, consequentially looking right at Kurama, who returned his gaze evenly, clear emerald locked to glittering ruby.

    Hiei looked away a little too quickly.

    * * * * *

    ~Kurama~

    “Yuusuke,” he said placidly, “would you and Kuwabara mind sitting in the kitchen for just a moment? Hiei and I have something we need to discuss.”

    Yuusuke looked suspiciously between the much-too-calm Kurama and the much-too-riled Hiei, cocking an eyebrow at the redhead as if to ask, ‘You sure you want to do that?’ Hiei looked ready to kill, and he wouldn’t have anything against taking it out on someone who willingly locked themselves alone in a room with him.

    “It won’t be a problem, I’m sure,” Kurama said, subtly stressing the last word just slightly. “Besides, it will only be a few minutes.”

    “Well…alright, but if you end up almost getting yourself killed in here, Kurama, I’m not gonna be the one to save you. I’m gonna be the one on the sidelines saying ‘I told you so.’”

    Kurama laughed softly. For a false bit of humor, it was surprisingly convincing. Hiei raised an eyebrow off to the side. “I’m sure I’ll be okay. Thanks for your concern.” If you could call it that.

    “Aright. Oi! Kuwabara! Let’s go into the kitchen or something. Give these guys a minute to rest, they both look pretty tired still.”

    The carrot top looked over, a hand resting under his chin and his eyes slit at the interruption of his latest theory. He calmed marginally on seeing Kurama and Hiei looking near exhaustion – it was all faked, of course, but he didn’t have to know that. They were both excellent actors when they needed to be.

    “Okay, Urameshi, but if things get ugly, let’s take it outside and keep it clean, okay?”

    “Yeah, yeah, sure,” Yuusuke replied casually, waving his hand as he stood. “Ch, if things get ugly…”

    “Yeah, if, you got a problem with that?”

    The two continued their bickering into the opposite side of the house, and Kurama covered a near-silent laugh with his hand. Hiei sat back and glared.

    “You wanted to say something?” he asked icily. Kurama looked up, his eyes slightly widened.

    “Hiei,” he murmured softly, “I…think we have to have an understanding here. A – well, about that kiss…”

    Hiei’s glare was venomous, but Kurama’s sturdy gaze was unflinching. “Understanding?” Hiei bit out. “You disapproved of me. What’s more to understand that that?”

    “First of all,” Kurama said abruptly, “if I disapproved of anything about that kiss, it wasn’t you. I was just…surprised.”

    “What do you mean, ‘if?’ You clearly objected to something, or you wouldn’t have moved away.”

    Kurama shook his head. “No, Hiei, remember, I said I was surprised.” Hiei’s glare clearly said that he didn’t think that mattered much.

    “Hiei, if you don’t believe me here and now, I don’t know what more I can do! I’ve told you it was an accident, that I fell, I’ve tried to say I don’t hate you, or blame you for anything – what more do you want?

    “In a perfect world?” Hiei asked calmly. “In a perfect world, in a secret place inside my mind, you love me, too. You’re the first person to love me because you know me – despite knowing me – and not try to throw me off a cliff. That’s what happens inside my mind, Kurama. That’s what my secret world is like, and you know what? I’m tired of it. I don’t want that secret world for me. I want you to love me here, for real, or I don’t want you at all.”

    Kurama paused, his mouth slightly agape and his eyes wide. “Hiei…”

    What happened in the Jagan…

    When he said he would forget he loved me, if to save me from myself…

    Was that all a lie?

    No…because there is no lying in the Jagan.

    That is what he would do for me, but this…this is what he wants to do, for me, for everyone.

    His heart went out to the little Jaganshi, and Kurama could feel tears prickling at the corners of his eyes. How could he do that for me? I don’t want him to hurt… Not for me…

    “Don’t cry, Kurama.” The redhead jerked himself back to reality, blinking back tears and looking across at Hiei. “I don’t want to see you cry.

    “Kurama, whether you see it, accept it, scorn it, whatever you will – whether you do that or not, I still love you. I still love you and I always will. I only ask that you not hurt me in return.” Kurama opened his mouth to speak, but Hiei held up a hand. “No. Let me finish. Kurama, you’ve already hurt me by not returning my feelings. You can’t do that anymore. That card has been played. I only ask that you not hurt me further – that you not bend yourself to shape what I want you to be, that you not let yourself get hurt on my account. I don’t want to be responsible for your pain, Kurama. I have enough blame laid on me already. I don’t need any more from the one I love.”

    Kurama could do nothing more than look at Hiei, stunned beyond words at his revelation. The youkai’s emotions were so well hidden, so protected, that Kurama had never even guessed the pain he had been putting Hiei through.

    His heart going out to his friend, Kurama made a choice.

    * * * * *

    ~Hiei~

    I wonder if that was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do…

    Maybe.

    “Hiei, I love you.”

    What?

    That couldn’t have been right. And yet, at the same time he denied it, he knew it was true. His senses didn’t lie. The question was no longer “what?” but “why?”

    Except his voice wouldn’t work properly. Hiei stared at Kurama, slack-jawed and mute. Nearly five full minutes passed by before he could force himself to speak.

    “You have terrible timing, Kurama.”

    Kurama looked at the floor, expressionless, and Hiei watched him silently.

    “I’m sorry.”

    Why?

    “I’m sorry for hurting you further, Hiei. That’s never been what I was trying to do. Especially not now. But…I didn’t know what else to tell you.”

    Kurama, I…

    But they were no longer in the confines of his friend’s mind, and if Hiei wanted his thoughts to be known, he had to force himself to speak again.

    Kurama, I don’t know…

    Not to mention, he had to sort out what his thoughts were.

    * * * * *

    ~Kurama~

    “You have terrible timing, Kurama.”

    I didn’t know how else to time it… I didn’t know what else to say…

    “I thought you said you didn’t love me ‘that way.’”

    He was running on automatic now, completely apart from his conscious mind. “I didn’t.”

    “But now you do?”

    “…Yes.”

    “When it’s convenient for you. When it makes me feel better about myself and this little ‘revelation’ I’ve just made to you.”

    That’s not it at all…

    “Automatic Kurama” didn’t quite know how to answer that one, so he remained silent. Hiei looked at him with something balanced precariously between uncertainty, want, hurt, and pleading.

    “Is that it, Kurama?” Hiei looked directly into his eyes. “That’s it?”

    “No…”

    Hurt took over, and a weaker soul would have broken down into hopelessly confused tears. “Then what is it?”

    “It’s… I don’t know, Hiei… All I know is that I love you – I don’t know why; maybe I forced myself to, maybe it was only a matter of time after you told me you loved me, maybe I’ve always loved you and never known it – but I know it now, and I don’t want anything less than to see you so upset as you are now.”

    “Kurama…I… I don’t know what…to do, to say… I’m so confused…”

    You knew this wouldn’t be all hugs and kisses and confessions of undying devotion.

    But I never thought it would hurt him so…

    You knew it might.

    But I don’t want him hurt on my account…

    You know what you have to do, then? Make it all better now. Say something to him.

    “Hiei?”

    Teary ruby raised from the floor to meet equally tearing emerald, and Kurama forced a weak smile.

    “Whenever you’re ready, I’ll be right here, and everything is going to be okay.”

    Hiei rubbed at his eyes with the back of his hand and looked over at Kurama. The kitsune’s smiled became more genuine, and the last traces of tears left Hiei’s eyes. He rested a hand on the couch beside him, and as Kurama made a move to lay his hand on his friend’s, Hiei raised himself an inch off the cushion.

    But Kurama was ready this time, and the kiss was sweeter than the first one had been. Hiei broke it after a long moment, leaning over to whisper in Kurama’s ear.

    “One day, kitsune. I’ll be ready, and I’ll come to you, and everything is going to be okay.”

    Kurama smiled.
     
  7. Kylewayne

    Kylewayne Mrs. Outlander00

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    Finally, I caught up in reading your fanfic =D *does a happy dance*
    Wow! You inspire me to write =) I love the way you pull everything together.

    More please! :)
     
  8. KitsuneSilver

    KitsuneSilver The Darkness cometh...

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    Epilogue

    Epilogue! Because...well, I don't really know why. Because I can.

    Nobody But Me

    Dear Kurama,

    “I should be used to your using the window after all these years, shouldn’t I?”

    “You should,” Hiei answered the laughing question shortly. “I don’t see the point of a door when there’s a perfectly good window right here.”

    Kurama smiled. “Well, Hiei, most humans aren’t as athletic as you or me. They need doors because they can’t jump all the way to the top of a tree.”

    “Have them climb, then.”

    Another laugh. “They can’t all do that, either.”

    “Hn.”

    Hiei moved to sit on the bed, flinging his cloak onto the hook Kurama had so thoughtfully installed under the sill due to his frequent visits. He tucked his legs under him, kneeling to face the happy kitsune sitting opposite him.

    I dreamt about you last night.

    “‘Can’t all?’” Hiei repeated flatly. “So some of them can. Make the rest of them do it, too. Life would be easier. They’re too lazy as it is. Learning to climb trees would help them.”

    Kurama let another bubbling laugh escape him, turning to his papers as Hiei stared at his back, confused. Their relationship had changed since the “love fiasco,” as Kurama had dubbed it, and the kitsune laughed more now, as if trying to chase away the invisible darkness. It rarely sounded faked, though, and Hiei didn’t mind. If it made Kurama feel better about whatever was bothering him, then let it go. It didn’t hurt him.

    Curiosity poked at Hiei’s mind as Kurama wrote, and he craned his neck slightly to see the work before his friend.

    “What’s that?”

    Kurama made a face. “English. Want to help?”

    Hiei lay back against the cushions, closing his eyes. English? What the hell? No one needed that, whatever it was. Hiei had survived just fine without English, and he was well into his multi-hundreds. Maybe it was all a joke.

    “What do you need?”

    Kurama held out a piece of paper. “I need to memorize these irregular verbs and their conjugations. Can you quiz me?”

    Taking the paper, Hiei looked down and frowned. So it wasn’t a joke, it was a language. He knew the tongue well enough, English or whatever Kurama called it, but whatever this list was, it looked worthless.

    “Conjugate ‘desu’ in the present tense,” he said, tilting his head in confusion.

    Kurama leaned back in his chair, resting his chin in one hand. “Desu…” he murmured softly, closing his eyes. “Desu: to be. ‘I am,’ ‘he is,’ ‘she is,’ ‘they are,’ ‘we are,’ ‘you are.’” He opened his eyes, sitting up and landing his chair in the proper position. “Am I right?”

    Hiei blinked. “Yes…this is stupid. Why you need to know this is called “conjugating,” I have no idea. Who cares what a language is called, by the way? What did you call it, English?”

    A slight nod. “Yes, English. It’s something ningen do, giving names to things, to make them easier to organize and keep track of.” Kurama reached out to take the list back. “Thank you.”

    But Hiei wasn’t ready to give it. “Now do it in past tense,” he said, still sounding a bit perplexed.

    “To be: ‘I was,’ ‘he was,’ ‘she was,’ ‘they were,’ ‘we were,’ ‘you were.’” He smiled. “Alright? Is that enough for now?”

    “I guess,” Hiei replied, relinquishing the list. Truthfully, he was glad to give it up, as he didn’t like things he didn’t understand and he didn’t think he would ever understand the purpose of most things ningen.

    You told me I was special. And I believed it.

    “So, Hiei,” Kurama asked casually, “what’s the cause of this unexpected visit?”

    “I was bored,” was the equally casual reply. Hiei shrugged. “Your house is better than Yuusuke’s or the fool’s.” He lay back on the bed with a soft flump. Kurama smiled, putting the list back in his folders and standing to stretch.

    He moved to the door, pausing as his hand reached the knob. “Hey, Hiei – want some ice cream?”

    Hiei sat up abruptly, turning to watch Kurama. “Yes,” he answered instantly. Flitting to the door, he waited a bit impatiently for his friend to open it, his eyes trained on the knob. Kurama laughed.

    “Downstairs, in the freezer,” he reminded the youkai, opening the door. Hiei took a moment to pause and glare. “I know where it is, kitsune,” he growled, blurring down the stairs.

    Kurama arrived a minute too late to save any ice cream that may have survived Hiei’s freezer raid, coming just in time to watch as Hiei polished off the first half-empty carton. He smiled affectionately, taking a chance to ruffle the youkai’s hair. Hiei shook him off, turning to the next carton, this one nearly full.

    “You’re going to get brain freeze,” Kurama warned, sitting in the chair opposite him at the table. Hiei looked up.

    “‘Brain freeze?’” he asked suspiciously, poking at the now nearly empty carton. “What’s that, exactly?”

    “When you eat too much cold food in too short a time,” Kurama explained, “your brain feels like it’s frozen. Numb and shocked and such.”

    Hiei shrugged again, returning to finish off the last few slips of the chilled treat. “I haven’t gotten it yet,” he answered indifferently.

    Kurama only smiled again.

    Kurama, am I special to you? Or is it all a dream? Am I just a hopeless child with dreams of a better tomorrow? Or do you really care?



    Kurama, will I ever really know? Or will your words always be clouded by lies for what you think is my well-being, and will I always be confused?



    As Hiei finished the third and last carton, Kurama stood to throw them in the recycling bin and Hiei stood with him. Kurama looked over his shoulder curiously, but Hiei wouldn’t return his gaze. The redhead shrugged it off and bypassed his seat in favor of the couch, his friend coming around to sit beside him.

    “Kurama…”

    Kurama started instantly. That beginning always resulted in something important, but Hiei hadn’t brought it up in over a year. He didn’t like to discuss his feelings, so this had to warrant undivided attention.

    “Yes, Hiei?”

    The little youkai took a breath and locked his eyes to the kitsune’s. “Remember when you told me you’d be there when I was ready?”

    Kurama nodded. The day was as clearly imprinted in his mind as his own name.

    Hiei’s gaze was unflinching. “What if I’m ready?”

    I want to believe…

    Kurama moved an inch closer. “So am I.” He laid his hand atop Hiei’s. “Are you sure you want to talk about this? Now?”

    A slight nod. “Kurama, I’ve been waiting for this for nearly a year. I know when I’m ready.”

    “Alright, Hiei. I’m here.”

    “You always said you would be…” Hiei murmured, practically silently, and Kurama didn’t strain to hear him. “Kurama,” he said louder, blinking up at the redhead, “remember, nearly a year ago, when I entered your mind with the Jagan?”

    Kurama nodded. Another fact that had been difficult to forget.

    “Remember when I said I didn’t trust Youko? But I trusted you?”

    Another nod. Kurama was struck silent, waiting, waiting to hear what Hiei was getting at.

    But this world is unsure, and I can’t risk believing in what might not ever be there. But I want to, want to so much…



    Just this once, Kurama. I’m taking a risk. I’m believing in what might never be there. Because I want to believe.

    “…Remember when I asked if Youko would betray me? …Remember when I said I was afraid?”

    Afraid?

    “Yes, Hiei, I remember… I remember all that.”

    “But you said Youko and you were the same being – I couldn’t love one and hate the other…and I was so confused…”

    “I remember that, Hiei – I didn’t mean to hurt you – It’s just that…it’s true – we are the same being.”

    It was Hiei’s turn to nod now, the barest hint of a smile gracing his lips. “I know it, Kurama. It’s okay. Don’t worry about it.” His smile widened, very slightly. “I’m over it. Are you?”

    “Yes, Hiei,” Kurama laughed at the question. “I am. …Is there anything else bothering you? About…this?”

    I want to believe, because I love you, Kurama. And so I’m believing in something that might never be there.



    Please don’t let me believe in something that will never be there, Kurama. You’re holding my heart in your hands, and I trust you with it. I trust you not to break it. Because I want to believe.

    “One thing…”

    “What is it?”

    Dearest Hiei,

    Hiei looked away at a moment he perhaps should not have, watching the floor when it was Kurama he so needed to see. He took a breath and did not turn his gaze.

    “Kurama, I…have a question for you.”

    Kurama tilted his head slightly, the smile gone, leaving a subtly kind expression in its place. “What is it, Hiei?”

    “…Am I special?”

    I loved someone once, a long time ago.

    They left me, a long time ago. And I thought I would never love again.

    His expression shifting from curious to playfully confused, Kurama sat up and looked at Hiei. “Is that what your biggest fear had been, Hiei? That I don’t think you’re special, or different or unique?” He stood and walked over to the bed where Hiei was sitting. “Because that’s ridiculous, Hiei.”

    The little youkai looked up into Kurama’s eyes, obviously mystified. His grip tightened on the bed sheets and he blinked.

    “…Why?”

    But dearest, Hiei, may I tell you something?

    Sitting beside Hiei, the redhead tentatively laid an arm across his shoulders. “Because you are unique, Hiei. You are far different from anyone I’ve ever met. Do you remember that day, nearly a year ago, when you kissed me? I told you it was nothing like anything anyone had ever done to me?”

    Hiei nodded, his expression a mysterious blend of childlike innocence and ages-old wisdom. “Yes, I remember.”

    “You ran off, Hiei. I thought you would stay and let me say more, because I was foolish and in that moment, I didn’t truly know you any more than I did when we first met. But, Hiei, the truth is that no one has ever kissed me the way you did.” Kurama even had the grace to blush as he spoke. “Do you know why?”

    Hiei tried to look away, but he was frozen in place by some mysterious force he didn’t know. “No…”

    The blush had turned from pale pink to bright red, but Kurama kept speaking. “You’re the best, Hiei, and that’s no lie.”

    Stunned and still frozen in place, Hiei could do no more than blink up at his friend for a long minute. Finally regaining his bearings, he shook his head once to clear it and spoke softly.

    “Are you…are you willing to give me a chance at this relationship stuff?”

    Kurama held Hiei in a tight hug. “That depends, Hiei. Are you willing to give an old kitsune another chance at love?”

    Hiei smiled. “Always, Kurama.”

    I love you, Kurama. Always and forever.



    --Hiei



    I do love you.



    Forever,

    Kurama
     
  9. kat_meditating

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    hey i never got a chance to reply before. i would just like to say that your writting is wonderful. i have never seen someone desribe emotions so well in my whole life. your writting is dark and beautiful all in one. much kudos to you! ;)
     
  10. purplehairedwonder

    purplehairedwonder No woman should suffer at the hands of men
    Staff Member Moderator

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    I'm sure you've figured that I'm not much into the Kurama-Hiei relationship deal, but I loved your story. It was very well written and enjoyable to read:)
     

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