Part 2:  Mukuro in Heat?

Since the people they were meeting had already been camping for days, another hour or so wouldn't hurt.  At least, that was the reasoning Kurama used to
stall Botan.  He'd missed breakfast with the girl's early wake up call, and that was as good an excuse as any.  With a happy wave, the girl left them to a quick
bit of coffee and rolls before heading out.  

Hiei didn't seem to mind the detour too much, sipping his tea as if no time had passed.  It was enough to send another wave of nostalgia over Kurama, just
seeing the demon sitting easily in the chair across the little table from him.

"How have you been?" Kurama asked, giving a speculative look at his old friend.  "You look good."

"You expected less?"

"I don't know," Kurama said, his eyes turning to the ceiling casually.  "I thought maybe you'd have grown a bit."  A sharp glare hit him and he smiled at the
demon's expression.  "Really, though, how are things?"

"Aside from the tournament, the same as always," Hiei sniffed. "Not much changes in the Makai these days."

"How did the tournament go?  Did the others show up?"

"If you mean those 'friends' of yours, no, they did not.  It was a wash.  Yomi and Shura took each other out in the third round, the same as Mukuro and I.  The
drawing was rigged."

"Are you serious about that?" Kurama frowned, "or are you just angry over the results?"

"Both."

"Then Kouga isn't any stronger than the last ruler?"

"He's strong," Hiei admitted, still scowling.  "But no stronger than Shura."

"Shura.  He really took out Yomi?  I knew he was very powerful for his age, but I didn't think he'd get that strong in only a few years."

"I guarantee Yomi regrets training him so well,” said Hiei, “now that he's lost his second chance to rule the Makai.  It was as simple as his fight with Yusuke,
they both slept through the final rounds."  Kurama smiled at him, and Hiei’s eyes took on a wry slant.  "Mukuro visited him afterward."

"Really?" asked Kurama.  He raised an eyebrow, leaning closer to the small table.  "After her own battle?  She wouldn't have much room to gloat if she lost the
same way."

"Tell her that,” Hiei snorted.  “They decided on a private match, but Kouga ruled against it. That's why they aren't allowed at this meet.  Kouga doesn't want
the two near each other - seems to think they'd destroy half the Makai if they started in on each other."

"Heh, I'd believe that.  I take it Mukuro is as strong as ever?  And you?"

"She's stronger."  A nasty glare took over Hiei's face and he folded his arms.  "I might have beaten her if I'd had more time to train before the tournament.  Idiot
female."  A soft laugh caught his ear and he glowered at Kurama, knowing the kitsune's hand was covering a smile.  "You would laugh.  You weren't the one in
a tank for six months."

"Tank?” asked Kurama.  “Were you injured that badly in the tournament?"  The demon smirked at him, making Kurama blink in surprise.  "What?"

"She may be one of the most powerful demons in the Makai," Hiei said slowly, a dark smile curving his lips, "but she's still a female."

Something about the demon's expression made a knot curl in his stomach, and Kurama leaned away.  He didn't really want to know.  "What do you mean?"  
The words passed his lips and he wanted to smack himself.  Hadn't he just thought that he didn't want to know?  Hiei's relation with Mukuro was something he
definitely did not need to hear about.

"She went into heat at the beginning of spring," said Hiei.  "And it lasted for weeks."

The dark-haired demon had a very sly grin on his face, as if he were sharing some joke that Kurama didn't get.  Just the thought of the powerful female in that
sort of position made him very uncomfortable.  Hearing it from Hiei was much worse.  He didn't want to think about the two of them like that.  Sure, he'd
suspected as much, but he didn't need such a bold confirmation.  

"Oh."

"If it had happened during the tournament, she would have won," Hiei continued, humor glinting in his eyes.  "She took out half her squad, nearly ran out of
healing tanks.  Idiot woman.  She should have gotten herself fixed years ago."

"F-fixed?"  Kurama's eyes widened, and he felt his lips twitching despite himself.  "Why would she want to do that...?"

"There's nothing worse than a frustrated female.  The guards were quitting left and right to get away from her, but she kept dragging them back - what was left
of them."

Kurama sweatdropped, staring at Hiei's evil expression.  "She attacked them?"

"She called it training," Hiei smirked, shaking his head.  "She'll never live down her lack of control.  Most of the Makai knows about it now."

"And you...?"

Hiei blinked, taking in Kurama's odd expression.  The redhead looked uncomfortable and tentative, definitely not enjoying the story as much as he did.  

"I don't care about her men,” Hiei shrugged.  “I didn't interfere with that.  The only reason I got involved was because she ran out of people to fight with.  I think
she kept a tank free just for me…"

Kuama's hand covered his mouth, stifling the sharp laugh that tried to break free.  Hiei's face was screwed up into a very disgruntled expression.  "Ah."  The
demon shook his head, and Kurama gave in.  "But why was she fighting?  If she was in heat..."

"Oh."  Hiei's eyes widened, blinking at the kistune.  "You don't know?  She has the hormones, and the demon nature, but that's it.  I told her to get it fixed,
there are enough surgeons that she could have been fixed, mated, and settled the entire issue.  But the idiot wouldn't listen.  It's her own fault none of her
men trust her now."

"Wait," Kurama said, staring at Hiei in rising disbelief.  "You mean to say she went into heat and didn't - she couldn't mate?"

"Obviously not," Hiei sniffed, rolling his eyes at the dumb fox.  "If she had, then she wouldn't have nearly killed everyone working for her.  It's too bad Yomi
wasn't around then.  She could have taken it out on him."  The redhead laughed suddenly, and Hiei frowned, leaning back in his chair.  Was he just now
catching on?  "You're a slow one," Hiei said, raising an eyebrow when Kurama flashed him a brilliant smile.

"When you said she took out her men, I thought you meant she...wore them out."  

It was Hiei's turn to stare, and he raised an eyebrow.  "Wore them out? With sex?"  Kurama's smile widened just enough to become annoying.  "Perverted
youko."

"Well," Kurama shrugged, "what did you expect me to think?  She's a very powerful demon.  I don't know what species she is, but I can imagine she'd be very
strong if she were in heat.  And the way you were talking about what she did to her men..."

"Hn."

"It sounds like you've had a time of it," Kurama said quickly, changing the subject.  "Were you healing right up until the tournament?"  Hiei gave a disgusted
nod, and Kurama couldn't help but smile.  "I see.  Anything else interesting happen since the last tournament?"

"Not really," Hiei shrugged.  "A few petty territory disputes.  But that's one of the things Kouga plans to settle."

"So who is coming to this meeting?  Anyone I might know?"

"Those friends of yours?  They might be there," Hiei sniffed.  "The only ones forbidden from attending are Mukuro and Yomi - and Shura.  Actually, the only
ones from either of them allowed to attend are us."

"That makes sense," Kurama nodded, "no point having the discussions interrupted by some sort of conflict."

"The entire thing is stupid. There's no need to discuss the laws.  Kouga can make them without agreement.  I don't know why he's bothering with this.  Bui says
it will keep petty disputes down, but-"

"Bui?" asked Kurama.

Hiei blinked, frowning at the suddenly attentive redhead. "Team Toguro.  You don't remember him?"

"He's still around?"

"He's Kouga's second," Hiei nodded.  "Not much stronger than he was in the ningen tournament, he didn't fight in this one.  Good thing he didn't.  If he had he
would have been matched against Kouga.  The drawing was rigged."

"You keep saying that."  Kurama smiled as Hiei wrinkled his nose in distaste.  "But Bui...he disappeared after the dark tournament.  I can't believe he's now
second to the ruler of the Makai.  It's so strange the way things happen."

"He wouldn't be if Mukuro hadn't turned him away."  Bright green eyes snapped to him, and Hiei scowled. "I told her he was stronger than any of her regulars,
but the idiot woman wouldn't listen.  She's lucky he joined Kouga and not Yomi."

"He went to Mukuro?" asked Kurama.  He remembered Bui from that final fight against Team Toguro, but the demon had seemed relieved to be finished.  Bui
was the only one from the team to survive, and probably the only one worth sparing.  He was also one of the only people Hiei had ever spared in a fight.  

And that man had gone to Mukuro, where Hiei just happened to be commander?

"A few days after the last tournament," said Hiei.  "We'd just gotten back to Mukuro's territory when he caught up to us.  I told her he had potential.  As
powerful as he was in the human tournament, he'd do well in her force."

"But she turned him away."

"Idiot woman.  She says she had her reasons.  I warned her of the mistake she was making.  It's luck that he did join Kouga and not Yomi."

"Is Yomi still holding an army, then?" asked Kurama.

"He's keeping quiet mostly," Hiei shrugged.  "But it's common knowledge that he has an open invitation for any strong demons who care to join him."

"And Kouga?"

"No one seems to know much about him.  He showed up at the tournament and took it the same as the last.  He's a wind demon, at least partly.  I think he's
mixed with something, but no one knows what."

"Okay!" a chipper voice called out.  Botan grinned when the two turned to her.  "You ready now?  Koenma-sama says to get you two out of here before the
emissaries come looking for you."  Kurama raised an eyebrow at her and she let out a quick laugh.  "Don't worry.  That's just what he said.  They seem very
nice.  I'm sure they don't mind the wait.  If you're ready...?"

Hiei stood and moved past the girl, Kurama following.  

"Thank you for the refreshments," Kurama said, nodding politely.  

The blue-haired ferry girl waved the comment away, her smile widening.  "Gave you a chance to catch up on things, ne?"  She shared a smile with Kurama.  "I
think you'll have fun, you know.  And Yusuke really wanted to go.  He might show up eventually if he can talk Keiko into letting him."

"It's all right," Kurama smiled.  "If he does, that will be nice, but I don't mind going without him.  It'll be good to see the Makai again."

"And maybe you can talk Hiei into visiting the Ningenkai," Botan whispered, leaning close to him with her eyes trained on the dark demon ahead of them.  "Talk
him into seeing Yukina.  That would be a good thing."  

Red eyes snapped around to her, and Botan flitted back.  She muffled her weak laughter in her sleeve.  Kurama just smiled.

.-.

PART 3

.-.

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