Category:  Anime, Yu Yu Hakusho, Yaoi
Warnings:  shonen ai, possible sap (I doubt it, though), short
Pairings:  Kurama+Hiei
Author:  Arigatomina


Pieces of black plastic littered the grass, bits of filmy tape curled among blades of green.  Such a mundane cluster of human creation didn't appear to have
any significance.  But that had been the piece of evidence he'd searched for with undying patience.  Hours were meaningless to the youkai, red eyes going
over every tape in the Reikai library, checking, searching.  He wanted that tape, his cold voice expressing the need to view the scenes of horror and violence
perpetrated by the ningens, heartless humans.  The need was even stronger than his desperation for return to the Makai; Yusuke's bribe had kept him,
gained his assistance.  But the tape lay in ruins amid healthy grass, hints of something glinting in those deep, unreadable eyes.  And Kurama didn't
understand, guesses were useless with Hiei.  He wanted to understand.

Those eyes turned to him, wide in an eternally youthful face.  That face was elfin, curving as if made only to frame the cat eyes that bore through whatever
they gazed upon.  Black eyebrows barely reached out from beneath the white headband, but he knew they followed close to those eyes.  Dark, unruly hair
trailed down, wisps accentuating his pale, flawless skin.  The bits seemed to have escaped the defiance of gravity that lifted the rest of his thick hair, holding it
back till it met at a point like the flame of a candle.  So appropriate, his black hair resembled a black flame with sparks of white instead of blue within the fire.  
But he didn't look dangerous.  He looked like a child, oddly innocent.  It was those eyes more than his small stature.  His expression was too schooled, those
eyes too deep, and he stepped forward, tilting his head back as he barely reached Kurama's shoulders.  One eye narrowed, but his raised eyebrow was
hidden by the band of white that covered his jagan.

"Why?" Kurama murmured, keeping his own expression as blank as Hiei's.  "You didn't even watch it."

"Do you think it held anything I don't already know?"

His voice was mocking, a slight rise to express the humor.  That voice was at odds with his appearance, deep and masculine as if it originated in some thick
chest.  It was capable of bringing terror to those much larger than him and it never failed to send tingles through Kurama's nerves.  The tone was light.  He
recognized that and wondered if he really had missed something that should have been obvious.  "I don't think that," he said softly, his own voice odd in his
ears after that low growl.   "But I thought you would watch it, or use it.  You could have gotten back into the Makai.  You know they would be glad to send you
back in exchange."

"Would have been," Hiei said sharply, the corner of his lips twitching upward.  Kurama's green eyes were blinking at him and he knew the ningen thought he
hid his feelings.  He wasn't fooled.  "Do you think me a fool, Kurama?  Why didn't you leave me there?"

"Hiei..."  The small demon turned, presenting him with the black cloth of that long cloak.  He stared at the white scarf wrapped about Hiei's neck until red eyes
glinted over one narrow shoulder.  They hid something, but they always did, hiding the emotions so very deep inside.  The tree was a few feet away and he
turned when Hiei sank down against it, face tilted as if asking why he hesitated to answer.  His fingers brushed the white cloth of his sleeves and he glanced
away.  "If you stayed, you might not have a way back."

"Why would I want a way back?"  Kurama flinched away from him and Hiei's eyes narrowed a bit more before his face cleared.  He knew humans now, well
enough to read clearly.  At first he had been certain it was a game, that the red-haired male played at being a kind-hearted human whose love for his mother
ruled his life.  The teasing was done to keep up the ruse, the small smiles, glittering green eyes all a part of the impression of an easy soul.  But it wasn't.  
Those averted eyes were not easy, they were clouded and dark within the thick black lashes that partially hid them.  It had taken time for him to become
familiar with the pain closed in those eyes, so long that he was amazed he'd been able to miss it before.  Not a flash of inspiration, but he felt he'd known and
not admitted to what he saw.  Kurama's shoulders were forward, his arms wrapped around his waist as if he wanted to cave inwards.  He knew the signs and
he turned away from them, closing his eyes against the daylight.  "I left when I heard the hole would open, do you forget that?  It was my chance to return to
the Makai.  And then, I was there.  And you let them bring me back when I was unable to protest.  I ask you why?"  His lashes flickered a bit at the indrawn
breath near him, but he didn't look.  "Answer that, and I'll tell you why I destroyed the tape."

"I didn't want to leave you there," Kurama whispered, turning so he could look down at those closed eyes.  His voice was so weak he knew the youkai must
think him a foolish ningen.  But his face was hot, his skin burning not from a blush of embarrassment and he didn't care how he sounded.  Anger made his
youki spark and he knew Hiei felt the increase.  Those pale lips had curved into a smirk.  "What do you have there, Hiei?  I *know* you hate the humans, but
there's nothing for you in the Makai.  Do you want to disappear?  To spend more centuries running from those more powerful than you and killing the weaker
ones, that isn't living.  Koenma told you your class was B and you ran off in anger.  I thought it was because you had hopes for a higher class, but that wasn't
it, was it.  You knew your chances of getting back into the Makai were limited.  You planned to get stronger and you had to get back to the Makai before you
were trapped here.  I understand that, I did then.  I even explained to Yusuke.  But I *never* understood why you wanted to go back so desperately."  Slits of
red snapped to him and he held his back straight, not flinching from the glare.


"You stood by when Yusuke was almost killed.  But you were right there with Kuwabara when we went to have revenge.  I know how much Yusuke means to
you.  It must have been hard to turn your back on him.  You were desperate."

"Baka."  The youko thought he was angry, Hiei realized that and it amused him to no ends.  But he wasn't smiling, even the smirk left his face as he caught
those dark green eyes.  "I was tired, Kurama, not desperate.  And you...what were you when you looked at me and decided to take me back here?"

"I didn't want you to be alone."  Those eyes closed at his words and he felt the anger burn when a low chuckle sounded from the youkai.  His feelings were
disregarded, fuel for Hiei's enjoyment at his expense.  That youki he'd used up so recently was rearing, coiling again as if it wanted to lash out at the small
demon.  "Hiei..."

"I have been alone all my life."

"That's why I didn't want to leave you there!"  Kurama's eyes burned and he glared at the red gaze that lifted to him lazily.  His hands were clenched around
the cloth of his sleeves, crushing the fibers.  If he had been a youko, he would have ripped the threads apart with the force of his anger.  He was humiliated.  
Hiei knew already, those eyes missed nothing, ever, they simply refused to acknowledge his feelings.  He was discarded so easily it tore him apart.  "You don't
care why, Hiei.  If you were angry, you wouldn't be sitting there.  You wouldn't have let me find you earlier.  You don't care, so why even ask?"

"Yusuke, Kuwabara, and Kurama, human blood running through weak hearts.  They can't support evil, it's repelled so easily.  Why should the world be turned
against them because of the past?  No one has the right to see that tape."  Wide green eyes stared at him and Hiei smiled, resting his forehead on his right
hand.  Bandages touched as his fingers splayed over the shielded jagan, the tattoo on his arm blocked from sight but not mind.  "I am tired, Kurama, do you
understand that?  I'm tired of this world, the insipient fighting, the humans needing protection, and you.  I am so tired of you, Kurama.  The friendship, the
smiles, the distance, I don't want any of it.  Can't you see that I have nothing to prepare me for this?  I have no place in this world while the Makai calls to me.  I
came for Yukina.  She has no need of me now."

"You could have gone back with the tape..."  The anger left him as quickly as it had gathered.  Hiei didn't move, his elbow propped on one dark knee,
bandaged arm barely seen within a dark sleeve.  Steps silenced by the grass, Kurama moved forward to crouch beside him, staring at the hand that covered
those eyes.  "Hiei, do you mean you would rather stay here than let people see that tape?"

Lowering his hand, he stared at Kurama, taking in the badly concealed hope.  He'd had a revelation during their stint in the Makai and he thought of it now as
he looked into that open face.  The human world hadn't ruined Kurama.  Or, if it had, it had affected the youko as well.  He'd laughed with him and the sound
was one he would never forget.  "You're wrong, Kurama.  I will find a way back to the Makai without using the tape.  But not now."  The red-haired teen leaned
back on his heels, blinking in confusion and a small smirk claimed his lips again.  "If you had left me there, I might have died while sleeping.  You could have
used that as an excuse.  But you didn't.  It's just as well."

"I don't understand," Kurama muttered, frowning at the mysterious demon.  He didn't know what to make of Hiei's expression, or his words.

"If you had left me there," Hiei continued, his eyes narrowing slowly, "I would have been forced to find a way back to the Ningenkai.  I discovered something I
want to know more about."

"What's that?"

"Your human heart is weak."  Kurama frowned at him, but he nodded sharply.  "During the tournament, you allowed yourself to be tricked, used because of
your kindness.  It was disgusting to witness.  But the youko was without a heart, black and cold and unbending.  I knew then that you weren't hopeless, that
you might have a life after this ningen existence.  And then, you laughed."

"What?"  He was being insulted, clearly, but the small demon was actually smiling at him, not a mocking smile at all.  "When?"

"You laughed at Yusuke, youko or human, you remain the same."  The sparks of hope were back on Kurama's face and Hiei turned his eyes away, inclining
his head.  "I have never shared laughter, with anyone."

He hadn't forgotten, the carefree laughter that had shook them, breaking away their pain.  Yusuke, resurrected yet unchanged as he acted the reckless young
fool.  And they'd laughed at him.  Staring at Hiei, Kurama sank down lower onto his legs, his arms falling to his sides.  "I didn't laugh much as a youko, never
like that."  The demon glanced at him and his own lips curved into a smile to match Hiei's.  "It felt wonderful."

"They're both bakas," Hiei murmured.  Kurama's smile widened and he smirked when the teen nodded quickly.  "Who would have guessed Yusuke had demon
blood mixed with his human idiocy?  And he is an S class."

"Does that prove to you that human blood doesn't ruin a demon?"  That eyebrow rose again but Kurama wasn't bothered by it this time.  "Humans have it
easier, Hiei.  If you're tired, you could rest here for a while, until the opportunity to return to the Makai comes again."

"I'm still here, aren't I?"

"Yes," Kurama said quickly, laying a hand on Hiei's curved arm.  He started to say something but wide eyes stopped him and he followed the gaze down,
staring at his own hand.  Warmth reached him through the black cloth and he lifted his fingers away quickly.  Had he ever touched the youkai?  Suddenly, he
couldn't remember.  His wrist was caught with barely a flash of visible movement and he frowned at Hiei.  "I'm sorry, I didn't think."

"Did I complain?" Hiei asked quietly, his own eyes darkening.  "Where is the ease you spoke of?  Why am I the only one you shy away from?  Yusuke isn't
afraid to touch my shoulder, Kuwabara carried me back from the Makai, and you flinch as if burned.  And *apologize* for it."  

"I..."  The black clothed demon rose so quickly he almost missed him and Kurama lunged forward, grabbing his arm.  "Wait!"  Hiei turned his head, staring over
his shoulder with cold eyes.  He tightened his grip, both hands pressing the skin beneath the cloak.  "I didn't think you liked to be touched, Hiei, that's all.  I
don't want to make you uncomfortable."

"I thought humans took comfort from physical contact."  Glaring at Kurama's bright green eyes, Hiei was too aware of the hands on him.  They held him the
same way an enemy would if he were slow enough to be caught.  But they didn't feel like the grip of an enemy.  "Are you different?"

"No," Kurama said softly, watching the demon's angry gaze.  He was waiting for a sign, something to tell him what he should do.  "You're right."

"I'm not a ningen, but you are.  You act like one, but not with me, not when the others are gone.  Why?"

"You hate humans."  He felt foolish, reminding him of that fact, but he was honestly confused.  Hiei's glare was dissolving before his eyes and he felt his heart
beating faster.  If he didn't figure out what it was he was supposed to do, he'd miss the opportunity.  Hiei was waiting for something, giving him a chance, and
he didn't know what.

"Do I look like I hate you?  Ningen youko, complete contradiction that you are."  His anger was gone suddenly and Hiei felt a wave of the exhaustion that
seemed to seep through him of late.  He wanted nothing more than to find a limb in some desolate tree and sleep for days.  It had nothing to do with using his
youki.  He was tired of everything.  "Let go."

Kurama's eyes narrowed suddenly and he clenched his teeth, releasing Hiei's arm.  Red eyes turned from him and he grabbed the demon's shoulders,
wrapping his arms around a lightly muscled chest and holding tight.  He could feel the iron stiffness as Hiei's breath caught and he closed his eyes, leaning
down on the youkai's back.  "Can I take comfort from you, Hiei?  Or will you throw me off and kill me?  Or worse, disappear?"  The muscles beneath his arms
continued to tighten for a moment, then the dark head moved against his chest, tilting back.  He looked into the upturned eyes, searching that pale face.  
"Hiei?"  They blinked at him, then closed and his own breath caught as a slow smile curved the demon's lips.  Thick black hair pressed into his arm and he let
out a slow, tentative sigh.  "You don't mind?"

"Baka."  The warmth was alien to him, strong arms restricting his movement in a way he'd never allowed before.  But he wasn't a fool, Kurama was the fool for
taking comfort from him.  He was the one gaining from the embrace, though he wouldn't admit it.  Silky hair brushed his cheek but he didn't open his eyes,
letting Kurama rest against his neck.  He could practically feel the warm breath against his skin and he was content to stand there.  Until Kurama pulled away,
he wouldn't move a muscle.