A/N: I have been working on this story off and on for a grand total of seven years, ever since I came up with the idea in a drabble (chapter 28 of my drabble collection). After all that work and fuss I still think the drabble may be better! But I think this is as good as it's going to get, and also I'm halfway through the sequel so I realized I needed to let go of this one and post it. :) Enjoy!

Deathmatch

Yusuke was going crazy.

In his observation room above the stadium, he was behaving like a trapped bee - smashing against the windows in impotent rage, banging his fists on the glass, shouting unheeded words at the arena below. Chuu and Rinku were doing their best to restrain him. Jin and Touya were also in the room, but in stark contrast to their friends they stood silently to one side, doing nothing. The final two people who were usually part of this group, Shishiwakamaru and Sazuka, were not present. They, along with many others, had already been killed in the tournament.

Beneath the row of bubble-shaped observation rooms where the rich and influential watched to see who the next ruler of Demon World would be, the stadium was overflowing with fans. The buzz of reaction to the announcement that had caused Yusuke to go ballistic was loud. The ever-present Koto was talking enthusiastically into the microphone. "Wow! I mean... wow! Who would ever have expected this? Get ready for the fight of the century, people! By luck of the draw, former teammates Hiei and Kurama will be facing off against each other in the ring! For those of you unfamiliar with your tournament history, Hiei and Kurama previously fought alongside each other as the only demon contestants on the underdog winners of the last Dark Tournament, Team Urameshi! And that's not the only time those two have been spied teamed up, either! They're much better known for having each other's backs than being at each other's throats, and that can only mean one thing: the only way this battle can turn out is a fantastic, spectacular bloodfest between two fighters who already know all of each other's tricks, and just how to get past them! And with the only accepted terms of victory in this match being a kill, well, forgive the expression but this will be a battle to die for!"

The crowd screamed louder with every word Koto said.


In an observation room halfway across the stadium from Yusuke, the current King of Makai, Isamu, smiled as he listened to Koto's narration. This was his reward, for subduing the resistance to changing the tournament rules. Some fighters had protested when Isamu had required all previous contestants to participate, and others had objected to the decree that fighters prove themselves by ending all preliminary rounds with a kill. Isamu's supporters were powerful enough - and the desire by the masses to see a bloody tournament strong enough - that there had been no open revolt. Still, Isamu knew he had earned a few new enemies amongst the contestants.

But what of that, when so many of his old enemies had died in the preliminary rounds? So many threats eliminated not just for the next few years, but permanently, and all without Isamu having to lift a finger. And now, on one of the last fights where a kill was required, fate had sent two of Isamu's most vocal and dangerous enemies into the ring together. He couldn't help but win.


"Can we get the fighters' stats up on the board please?" Koto demanded. "Okay! Obviously both fighters have survived four rounds at this point, and looking at the recaps it looks like they've both been through some doozies! Hopefully they've still got enough energy left to counter whatever techniques the other might throw at them! Have they got any new tricks hidden up their sleeves? Will they be able to outsmart each other? I can't wait! Someone get this party started!"

Isamu smiled, Yusuke hit the windows of the observation room, and hundreds of thousands of eyes watched as Hiei and Kurama made their separate ways into the ring.


The referee shouted, "Begin!" but there was no immediate reaction from either contestant. Hiei appeared exhausted and somber; Kurama wore a bitter smile. They looked at each other without moving for a moment. Then Kurama took a tentative step forward. Hiei mirrored him. Moving slowly, careful to give each other no cause to mistake anything they did for aggression, they came to a silent agreement and met in the middle of the ring.

There was a searching quality to the way they looked at each other, with steady, unbroken eye contact. A desperate question hung unspoken in the air, and neither of them found the answer. After a long silence, Kurama spoke. "I want you to know," he said, his voice as bitter as his smile, "that whichever way this fight ends, I will consider it the highest honor."

Hiei's solemn, exhausted expression did not change. "To hell with honor."

Kurama raised his eyebrows. He saw Hiei's jaw tighten slightly. Hiei did not speak, but there was something in his eyes - a glimmer of struggle, of rebellion not yet subdued.

Feeling curiously calm, Kurama waited for the struggle to manifest as words. There was certainly no need to rush Hiei, not when this would be the last time they spoke. "I don't want to kill you," Hiei said. "And I don't want to be killed." Kurama nodded. In a stronger tone, Hiei went on. "It has always been my decision not to fight you. I refuse to have that decision taken away from me."

"What other option do you see? Forfeit will have only one result." They both knew the stadium was crawling with Isamu's guards and supporters, those either wicked or fearful enough to join up with this cruelest of demons.

"Maybe so. But if there are a million people in this stadium, then that makes one million people I would rather fight than you. The way I see it, this battle ends when both of us are dead, or everyone else is."

Kurama's face became mask-like while he considered, betraying nothing. Hiei found himself holding his breath, tuning out the sound of the crowd screaming and Koto complaining about the delay, focusing on nothing but that blank expression. He couldn't plan past Kurama giving him an answer, couldn't think of anything except how imperative it was that he say yes, because this was the last available choice Hiei could agree to and still be himself.

"You mean to go out in a blaze of glory," Kurama said.

"Well?"

"I'm completely ashamed I didn't think of it first."

Hiei's grin spoke of relief, pride in his choice of collaborator, and the anticipation of killing things. Kurama shared the grin with him, before becoming business-like. "What's your strategy?"

"Strategy?" Hiei said blankly. Kurama tilted his head inquiringly, and Hiei shrugged. "You're the strategist."

"... Ah."

The referee came bounding over. "What is the holdup?" she demanded. "The fight's already started!"

"We're agreeing on terms of battle," Kurama replied.

"The first term is than anyone other than us in the ring dies immediately," Hiei added.

The tip of the rose whip snapped at the girl's ankle almost before Hiei finished speaking. She squealed and ran out of the ring to report to Koto.


Up in his observation room, Isamu watched the proceedings with a slight frown. He was confident that he had left the contestants no way out - but not so confident as to be completely at ease when an accomplished team of thieves put their heads together and started plotting in the middle of the ring.

Isamu raised his hand, and one of his retainers came forward. "Get the stadium guards to pull in tight around the battle ring. I don't like the look of this. And don't forget how fast Hiei moves! He's the one I'd keep my eye on."


Hiei listened as Kurama quickly created and outlined a much more thorough and effective plan than Hiei's original kill things that aren't each other. The outcome was still the same. "The chances of survival are, of course, minimal," Kurama added as an afterthought when he was done. "For us." He glanced away from Hiei for a fraction of a second, so quickly it might have been unconscious. Hiei followed the direction Kurama's eyes had looked and noticed Yusuke's energy, strong as ever, in one of the observation bubbles.

Hiei knew Kurama was being overly optimistic in giving them any chance at all of survival, but it was possible that they could do enough damage before they died that someone else could take up the fight and win. Not only possible, but - judging by the way Yusuke usually responded to seeing his friends hurt or killed - probable. Apparently it was Hiei's lot in life to cede some of his most important fights to Yusuke.

And if he was honest with himself? Today, he didn't care. He didn't even care if Yusuke figured out the plan and made use of the advantage they were handing him, or not. Hiei would have agreed to literally any plan that did not involve fighting Kurama to the death. Dying alongside Kurama, in battle, against someone he hated, was everything he could have asked for.

So he agreed without question to every detail of Kurama's plan, although at Kurama's direction he made it appear that he was disagreeing, gradually increasing the intensity of his negative gestures and the expression on his face. Some explanation for their long conversation was needed; the impression that they had attempted to reach some sort of agreement and failed would hopefully be enough.

"I'll make it worth it," Hiei promised as he stepped back from Kurama, broadly looking him up and down with a derisive expression.

"I know." Kurama surveyed him with a perfectly blended expression of anger and disappointment. "How should I signal you?"

"Retract the whip into a rose. I'll pretend to go in for a killing move - that should distract them sufficiently."

"Agreed." Kurama turned sharply on his heel and stalked to the edge of the ring. The crowd screamed in excitement at the sign that the match might finally commence. Hiei turned his back, allowed himself one deep breath, and went to his own side of the ring.


In the observation bubble, Yusuke had watched the entire conversation with bated breath. He trusted Hiei and Kurama to possibly be able to work some way out of this unbearable situation, even when he couldn't see the way himself. But when the conversation turned sour, when what Yusuke could see of their body language seemed so characteristic of their fights - Hiei's temper flaring and making him push people away, Kurama's pride causing him to lash back - then Yusuke despaired.

He turned to rush down to the ring, then stopped, looking back at the window. Then he turned again, almost dancing on the spot in his indecision. He was not going to let them kill each other. Maybe one of them could fake being dead. No, the referee would know. Well, what if he punched out the referee?

He didn't need the exclamations of the others in the room to know the fight had begun - Koto's voice rang through the stadium. He ran to the window again. "And finally we have action! Hiei goes after Kurama with the katana, but it's easily deflected by Kurama's famous whip - and now they're racing around the ring, wow, both their weapons are moving so fast I can hardly see them - "

"It's a skills match," Jin said, his tone oddly calm. He had not sounded like himself since the tournament began. "That must be what they were discussing. No special attacks - just each fighter's best weapon and their hard-won skill."

"It's a show of respect," Touya said quietly. "Of honor to each other."

No one spoke for a moment. Yusuke was studying the fight intensely, his eyes squinting to follow the fighters' movements. No one seemed comfortable breaking his concentration. After less than a minute, Yusuke seemed to relax. He rubbed his forehead, leaned back from the window, and announced, "They're faking it."

"You're crazy, mate," Chuu said.

"Don't you see it? There's no way this is what either of them would do if they wanted to take each other down. It's too easy. They've got a plan."

"Doesn't look easy to me," Rinku muttered.

"Yusuke," Touya said, "don't you think you might want to believe that - "

Yusuke hit the wall. "I'm telling you, I have fought with both of them for half my life and they are planning something. We've got to get down there and find a way to help."

"How are we supposed to do that if we don't know what they're planning?" Rinku protested.

"I don't know, but we can't do any good up here! Just spread out! Put yourself by the guards or Isamu's people or other contestants. Tell the other fighters that are pissed off about this tournament that something might be about to happen. If we get enough guys in enough places, someone will be in the right spot when it goes down."


In the ring, Hiei was trying to make the faux battle with Kurama look real while mentally keeping track of how many seeds Kurama had planted in the audience. It unnerved him to realize Kurama was emptying his entire arsenal. He should have realized that after the first step of the plan, Kurama would keep nothing but the rose whip to defend himself with.

The second step was Hiei's responsibility; Kurama would make himself vulnerable to give Hiei one shot at Isamu. He would die before Hiei did.

"Are you sure someone won't notice they've been hit?" Hiei asked telepathically as he "fended off" the whip.

"I put anesthetic on the seeds. We need to make this fight more believable; I'll give you an opening for blood in a moment."

Hiei obligingly made a shallow but showy cut on Kurama's arm a moment later, which got a big reaction from the crowd and Koto. Gore and glory, same as it had always been. He supposed there was no reason to believe the afterlife would be any more peaceful than life had been. He would need Kurama there too.

Hiei left an opening in his guard a moment later; Kurama picked up on it and gave the crowd another splash of blood. Then, before Hiei was quite ready for it, the whip disappeared and Kurama was holding a rose.

"Don't let Koenma send you off somewhere before I get there." Hiei pointed his katana directly at Kurama. "Wait for me after the fight." He dove.

The noise level dropped, like the entire stadium had just taken a collective gasp. At the last possible moment, Kurama dropped to the ground. Hiei stood over him, scanning the ring, on guard against any possible threat that could interfere during these few vital seconds -

At various locations around the stadium, over a hundred deadly plants simultaneously blossomed into full growth and health. For three or four precious seconds, Hiei forgot how much every second counted and that all of incipient chaos was for his benefit. He stood and stared. Even while "fighting" in the ring Kurama had aimed spectacularly, hitting Isamu's guards or known sympathizers with most of the seeds; circles of corpses were already forming as the plants, bereft of the control Kurama would normally exert, made short work of their hosts and attacked anyone else within their reach.

Shaking fingers tapped Hiei's boot. "Go," Kurama reminded him. "I'll wait for you after."

Hiei was gone before Kurama was done speaking.


Isamu was still standing in his observation room, staring out the window in shock, when he sensed Hiei enter the room.

Isamu turned in time to see those of his guards who were still in the room being efficiently decapitated. He swallowed; then he let anger and arrogance cover his fear. "This changes nothing, you know," he said in a dismissive tone. "You'll both die, and I'll get to declare the tournament invalid because of this nonsense and keep the crown. Maybe I should thank you for cutting to the chase."

Hiei looked entirely too calm for Isamu's tastes. Isamu couldn't tell if he, too, was bluffing, or if he really felt no fear. "Are you sure you'll have any authority left to do anything? Most of your people are down there feeding the plants."

"I almost hoped something like this would happen," Isamu claimed. "It gives me a chance to do away with this stupid tournament altogether and prove that I am in control."

Hiei gestured over Isamu's shoulder, out the window. "Does that look like control to you?"

Isamu glanced back over his shoulder, reflexively. He knew even as he did it that it was a mistake, but before he could rectify it, Hiei drove two fists wreathed in fire into his stomach.


Yusuke fought his way through the wreckage of the stadium and a crowd that was stampeding in ten directions at once, dodging the occasional violent vine as he went. He set his course for Isamu, because he knew that was where he would find Hiei. Couldn't be anything else.

Yet at the same time, he couldn't stop looking frantically around him as he went for any sign of Kurama's distinctive hair. Yusuke didn't know a lot about how Kurama manipulated plants, but he knew proximity mattered and quantity mattered. His gut told him that after summoning a stadium's worth of killer plants at once, Kurama wouldn't have enough strength left to defend himself from the referee girl, let alone one of Isamu's people. Which would mean Kurama needed him more.

But Kurama was no longer in the ring, Yusuke could tell that much, and Yusuke had no idea where he was. He might have hidden himself away safely somewhere. Meanwhile, Yusuke was sure Kurama had caused this chaos in order to distract everyone from what Hiei was doing, and that could only mean Hiei was going after Isamu, which would mean Hiei needed Yusuke's help. Not Kurama.

Right?

Frustrated and torn between courses of action, Yusuke made his way across the stadium towards Isamu a bit slower than he could have, paying attention to what was going on around him. He saw Rinku using his yo-yos to make sure several plants were well fed and thriving on a steady diet of Isamu's guards. He also saw a group of contestants, led by Jin and Touya, preventing the escape of one of Isamu's key supporters.

Yusuke smiled grimly. This fight was looking more fair by the second.


Due to his ability to evade the plants, Kurama had encountered little difficulty in following Hiei up to Isamu's observation room, although at a much slower pace. But he did not join the fight. Instead, he crouched beneath the bubble-like room, surveying the paths of approach, waiting to engage anyone who might try to come to Isamu's aid.

Not that he was at all certain he would be successful in stopping even a very weak demon. His hands were shaking, he was light-headed, and he felt a profound sense of detachment, all characteristic of someone on the verge of passing out. He carried the whip in rose form, in order to conserve even that little amount of energy until it was absolutely necessary. He was vaguely surprised to still be alive.

A man in the uniform of Isamu's guards charged up the stairs toward the room where Hiei and Isamu fought. Kurama couldn't tell if the man was aware of him, lurking in the shadows, but he would be soon enough. This will probably be it, Kurama thought calmly, raising the rose with shaking fingers.

Someone jumped down from the roof of the observation bubble and landed on top of the guard, yelling profanities. The guard's legs crumpled and the pair went rolling down the stairs. Kurama wasn't certain, but he thought the voice had belonged to Mukuro. He smiled slightly at the idea that old friends other than Yusuke had taken up the fight. But the thought left him quickly. He could only concentrate well enough to hold one thought at a time in his head: I have to get Hiei as much time as I can.


Inside the observation room, the fighters were finding themselves evenly matched. Under different circumstances, Hiei would have avoided getting close to Isamu, whose skin contained a mild venom. Over time and with multiple doses, the poison slowed and eventually paralyzed an opponent who strayed too close.

Since Hiei had no intention of surviving the fight, he hadn't let this stop him. He also hadn't let the close quarters stop him from summoning the Dragon. Hiei was starting to feel the effects of the toxin, but Isamu had taken heavy damage. So had the observation room. The floor was tilting as the fighters moved; the small passageway which connected it to the stadium was buckling.

Isamu was terrified. There was something manic in Hiei's expression, especially his grin, something completely vicious and unrestrained. Isamu was used to fighters keeping their distance from him, afraid of a glancing blow getting too much venom into their systems. He didn't know how to defend himself against someone who didn't plan on living. Now, the fact that Hiei didn't seem to care that the room was slowly starting to buckle and turn sideways just added to Isamu's fear. He's lost his mind, Isamu thought. I have to end this now.


Yusuke could see clearly from halfway across the stadium that the room where Hiei and Isamu were fighting was starting to collapse. However, he had acquired a new impediment to getting there in time to help Hiei.

"GET THE HELL OFF ME!"

"I'm scaaaared!" Koto, recognizing Yusuke as someone who might prevent her from getting trampled, had quite literally latched onto him. Her arms were tight around his neck and she was trying to climb onto his back.

"Go away! I'm busy here!"

"But I'm scaaaaaared!"

Realizing that it would be faster to take her than to get rid of her, Yusuke shouted, "Fine!" and let Koto scramble on piggy-back.

Just then, a blast of white light shot across the watched helplessly as it landed next to the room where Hiei and Isamu fought. Whether someone had deliberately shot at them - and it would have been anyone's guess who the shot would have been intended to help - or whether someone had just lost control of their attack, the result was the same: the observation bubble finally lost its connection to the ring and came plummeting down towards the center of the stadium, bringing a trail of rubble with it.


The room seemed to disintegrate on contact with the arena floor, like a pudding thrown at a wall. Isamu had seen the blast coming and had only a moment's warning to hold onto something; now he pulled himself free from the wreckage and onto his feet as fast as possible, looking around tensely. He had no idea what had just happened, but he was not going to let his opponent figure out a way to use it to his advantage.

A large slab of concrete that looked like it used to have been part of the stairs below the observation bubbles moved, and someone coughed beneath it. Isamu darted forward, intending to grab Hiei and get another dose of venom into his system, then move back before the brat could get a strike in. He wasn't sure he could survive another direct hit, much less if his opponent called the dragon again - but another dose of poison, then a little distraction to give the venom a chance to work in...

Isamu reached the area the coughing had come from, pulled the concrete away and seized - Kurama?

"I don't think much of your tournament." Kurama didn't even fight, didn't so much as flinch away from Isamu's grip. He looked half-dead. "I mean to say, I've seen my share, and this was definitely sub-par. Thrilling ending, though." Kurama smiled wanly.

Isamu hesitated. It would be so easy to kill Kurama - as easy as reaching out and snapping his neck. He could tell there would be no resistance. And it would be such a satisfying thing to taunt Hiei with, to use to throw him off balance when he reappeared: the death of his partner in this failed coup, at Isamu's hands.

But Hiei had disappeared, at exactly the moment Kurama had appeared, and that made Isamu deeply uneasy. Kurama was no threat now; Isamu should ignore him and find Hiei...

"Also, you've made a mistake," Kurama said conversationally, as Isamu released him, halfway turning away.

Isamu could not keep himself from looking back at him, responding to his arrogance. "If you want to lecture, do it fast. You've only got a few minutes left to live."

"You didn't hesitate over me very long, all told," Kurama said. "But Hiei doesn't need very long." The fox's smile sent shivers down Isamu's spine. "My job was time."

Isamu turned around - just in time to meet the second dragon.

The dragon lifted Isamu into the air and carried him across half the stadium. Hiei came forward from where he'd been standing half-concealed in the rubble, stumbling like every step might be the one that pitched him forward onto the ground. He and Kurama stood next to each other, watching the dragon's progress around the arena with a sort of distant weariness. When the dragon finally disintegrated it took with it not only Isamu but most of a wall, a dozen unlucky bystanders, and four plants.

For a long moment nothing stirred. Then a few figures started crawling towards the blast site. From inside it, there was no motion. Then a voice came squawking out of what was left of the audio system. It was - inevitably - Koto.

"Amazing! Amazing! Are you seeing what I'm seeing, everyone who's still alive out there? Isamu has been completely disintegrated! Along with most of the tournament staff. Is there a referee alive out there anywhere? Can I get an a.p.b. on Hiei and Kurama? How do we call this fight?"

A few loud scuffling noises and the muffled sound of Koto protesting the theft of her microphone came over the sound system. Then Yusuke's voice thundered from the speakers. "Here's how I call it. King Isamu is dead. The king before him, Enki, died earlier in the tournament. I guess as the founder of this tournament that puts me in charge. And I would like to politely suggest that since Hiei and Kurama defeated Isamu and his followers, they should be declared joint victors of this year's tournament. Does anybody disagree?"

Yusuke's tone could have frozen fire. The only sound was the rustling of those of Kurama's plants that were still alive. "Okay, how about does anybody agree?"

Immediate cheers. "Then that's that," Yusuke said decisively.

Kurama and Hiei glanced at each other. The fact that they had just been proclaimed rulers of Makai, much less the fact that they were still alive, ought to have merited a strong reaction. Instead, they exchanged feeble half-shrugs. Kurama started to cough concrete dust out of his lungs again; Hiei made a motion that was supposed to steady him, but his muscles were so unexpectedly stiff from Isamu's venom that he wound up clinging to Kurama's arm while he lost his balance, and then pulling them both to the ground.

"What, were we looking too dignified for you?" Kurama asked through the coughing.

"I thought we'd hide," Hiei deadpanned, as his muscles continued to seize up. "The Detective should have to do at least some work."

"Brilliant."

Those were the last words spoken. When Yusuke arrived several seconds later, they were both unconscious.


They didn't wake up for days. By that time, pieces of Isamu's body had been identified and those of his supporters who were still alive had been locked up to await Hiei and Kurama's decision regarding them. Since all the previous kings of the united demon world were dead, Yusuke, Mukuro and Yomi had temporarily taken control of the government. That caused some consternation amongst a few parties, but no one could come up with a better idea.

Kurama woke up on the afternoon of the third day. By the time Hiei woke up a few hours later Kurama had cheerfully evicted the three former kings, invited them all back as counselors, and was halfway through the creation of a complex, multi-tiered system of government. Hiei took one look at Kurama's diagrams and loudly said he was going back to sleep. Kurama agreed to stop toying around with things, or at the very least stop until tomorrow. Then Yusuke dragged them to the victory party their friends had been eagerly waiting three days to throw.

Less than an hour into the party, the victors were absent. Their friends carried on anyway, figuring their injuries were still plaguing them and they had gone back to bed. In reality, Hiei had climbed onto the roof to escape an excess of jubilation and frenzied admiration being directed at him. Kurama, after careful consideration, had decided to follow.

There was silence for a long moment up on the roof, not as comfortable as silence often was between them. Both were settled back against the tiles, ostensibly watching the stars. Kurama was first to speak. "Do you realize, I've entered this tournament twice now without either expecting or desiring to win?"

"I know."

"I'll live here, and visit there," Kurama said, answering an unspoken question. " I'm going to tell her I've taken a job out of town."

"... You do realize that's actually the truth."

"Yes. Unfortunate, but it can't be helped."

Hiei smiled. Kurama returned it conspiratorially. "Want to hear something truly horrifying?" he asked.

"What?"

"You and I have to act in complete agreement from now on. Concerning everything."

"The hell we do."

"But if we don't, things will go back to how they were before. Kings bickering with each other, getting followings, splitting off and forming factions."

"And what's wrong with that? I may have signed onto this idea of electing kings by tournament, but I did not invent it."

Kurama raised his eyebrows. "I thought your decision was not to fight me."

"... Point taken."

Kurama grinned fondly. But then the grin faded into something more uncertain. "Hiei... I need to say something. I know that you don't want to hear it, so I'll try to keep it brief. But I've got to say it."

It was Hiei's turn to raise his eyebrows. "I'm listening."

"It means everything to me," Kurama said carefully, "that you would rather accept the certainty of death than fight me. You had every chance of winning, but you chose to fight literally the entire world instead. And even when you saw that I had given up, you refused to do the same. You found the way out, and I..." Kurama trailed off, shaking his head.

Hiei resettled himself against the rooftop. "You're wrong, fox."

"Oh?" Kurama looked disconcerted. "About which part?"

A smile appropriate to cats who have recently eaten canaries was making its way onto Hiei's face, although he was trying to suppress it. "I did want to hear that."

"Ah." Kurama's answering grin was not suppressed, and looked to take over his whole face.

They lay on the roof stargazing while their victory party continued below. Once Kurama pointed out a shooting star. Once, with no context, Kurama muttered, "Partners again," to which Hiei replied, "Again," with an inflection which made Kurama chuckle. Several minutes later, Hiei asked, "Do you think it's permanent?" He got no answer, and discovered the fox was asleep.


The next morning, a search party had been formed and was about to leave when somebody spotted the new kings crawling in through an open window. They were helping each other move bodies very stiff with the aftereffects of poison and a night on the roof, and arguing about who had been in charge of waking who up. And if people felt that the new rulers of demon world were getting off to an eccentric start, nobody cared to mention it.