Author's Note: konnichiwa, minna-san, well, I'm back w/ more Hiei and Kurama^_^ I just couldn't help writing some more stories with 'em... so, remember, this yaoi, so if you don't like...why are you here? So, no flames for the story content, 'cuz you got fair warning and I'll just become very snippy at the one who flamed me just for it being yaoi! K, well, enjoy Hiei and Kurama^._.^ (yay kitties) oh, yeah, a small spoiler warning with the fight between Kurama and Karasu in the Dark Tournament^_^ ~venusgirl

~*~To Late for Love?: Part I~*~

The gang all stood around Koenma's desk, waiting to hear what was so important that the young Reikai prince had to drag them here at such a God- awful hour of the night. Koenma cleared his throat and turned to face the four Reikai Tantei.

"I suppose you're wondering why I've called you all together at such a late hour."

Yusuke rolled his eyes and made sure the sarcasm was ready to drip from his lips. "No, not at all. In fact, it's so great, we were actually wondering why we don't do this sort of thing more often." Yep, the sarcasm dripped...more like RAN from Yusuke's words like a waterfall.

Koenma glared at him, then chose to ignore the black-haired teen. "As I was saying, I'm sure you're all wondering why I've called you all together at such a late hour." He looked over at Yusuke to make sure he didn't have a "comment" of his own to add. Seeing that, for once, Yusuke was going to keep silent, he went on. He turned back, eyeing Kurama out of the corner of his eye as he spoke. "It's Karasu."

Kurama looked at Koenma in confusion. *What does he mean it's Karasu? He's dead. My plant killed him.*

Koenma continued. "I don't know how, but he's back. He's been creating havoc all throughout the Makai."

"He's back? That's impossible," Kurama stated. On the outside he appeared to be calm and collected, but if you looked deeper he was terrified. Hiei noticed this, even if no one else did.

"Apparently it's not impossible because he's very much alive," Koenma said, shaking his head. "I need you four to get rid of him as soon as possible before any more damage is done in the Makai. Or worse, he figures a way into the Ningenkai. I wish I could give you more information than this. I don't know if his powers are all still the same or if he's gotten stronger, but this just sort of happened one day and we need to stop it all costs. He's already taken many lives...and he doesn't stop at just adults, he'll attack anyone, women and children included."

Kuwabara stood up from the seat he was in where he had been silent since they walked in the door (very un-Kuwabara-like, ne?). "That's just not right! I, the great Kuwabara, Kazuma, will stop him! He can't go around hurting the innocents, especially women and children! What kind of monster is he?!"

Hiei stood. "Stop with romantic crap, already." He stood next to Kurama and snuck a look at him. He could feel his fear. *If Kurama's scared, this is NOT good...* "Rest assured, though, we will stop him. I haven't had a challenge in a long time, this might be fun."

"Fun?! What's wrong with you, shorty? We're going up against one of our toughest enemies, and you say 'this might be fun'?!" Kuwabara shrieked, mocking Hiei.

"Come on, you two! We don't have time for your petty arguing," Yusuke yelled, irritated. "Let's just get this over with!"

Koenma cleared his throat. "Alright, Botan will escort you to the portal and then you'll be on your own from there." Everyone nodded in agreement.

Hiei stole a few more glances at his friend as they walked down the corridor towards the portal with Botan. He could still easily sense the fear that was making Kurama's heart race at a million miles per hour. Hiei reached out, just enough so he barely touched the red-haired half demon, as an act of reassurance.

Kurama jumped a bit and a shiver of pleasure shot down his spine at Hiei's touch. He looked down at Hiei and gave him a weak smile, trying to convince the little youkai that he was fine.

Hiei frowned, then sent a telepathic message to Kurama. *You may be fooling the other idiots, but you're act isn't working on me, fox.*

Kurama looked a bit surprised. *No, I suppose it wouldn't. I don't know why I'm so fearful, I've beaten Karasu before...barely, but beat him all the same and I can do it again.* With that the conversation ended.

"Hn," Hiei snorted. "You can be awful stubborn, kitsune."

Kurama smiled. *If only I could tell you, Hiei* he thought sadly.

"Well, this is where I leave you, boys," Botan announced, stepping up to a big oak-looking door. "Now, this portal will close as soon as you get to the other side. We'll know to let you back when your mission is through." She reached out her hand and twisted the big brass knob. She stood back, tears shimmering in her eyes. "Please be careful. I want everyone coming back with their life." Everyone nodded and stepped through the doorway. Botan closed the door securely behind them and leaned against the frame and sighed, tears still sliding down her cheeks. *Please! Come back alive!*

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"Well, cheerful place as always," Yusuke commented, glaring as the mist rolled around everyone's ankles. "Kuso! We don't even know where to start looking for the damn bastard!" he growled.

Hiei snorted. "Well, that's simple enough to figure out. We just go around asking questions. The taverns would be the best place to start... Mukuro might have some information, too."

Yusuke nodded.

"Wow, the shrimp had a good idea!" Kuwabara said, amazed.

Hiei growled and put his hand on the hilt of his katana. "Don't test me, ningen!" Yusuke and Kurama just looked at each other and shook their heads, then walked on.

"Come on, half-pint," Kuwabara challenged. Hiei dodged easily and caught up with Yusuke and Kurama, walking side by side with Kurama. Kuwabara blinked in confusion, then he finally realized what happened. "Ha! You're just scared of the great Kuwabara, Kazuma! That's why you're hiding behind Kurama and Urameshi!"

"You only wish, baka!" Hiei shot back. "We just don't have time for me beating you to a pulp right now. We'll need even you for this fight."

Everybody stopped dead in their tracks. Did Hiei really just say that?

"Who else will act as bait?" Hiei retorted, never missing a beat. Everyone sweat-dropped.

"You take that back, shrimp!" Kuwabara yelped. Everyone sighed and finally the fighting stopped and all was quiet as everyone trudged along. They came across a tavern and stepped inside to investigate and get (or beat...whichever^_^) the information out of anyone who knew anything about the ticking time bomb of a devil.

"Um...excuse me?" Kuwabara said, a little freaked at all the demons and apparitions in the bar.

"Oh, for God's sake!" Yusuke said irritated. Blunt as ever, he stood up on a table and shouted out at the top of his lungs. "Hey, all you ugly apparitions in here!" The tavern went silent and all heads turned towards Yusuke, angry growls rising in the back of their throats. Yusuke smiled and stepped down and rubbed his hands together. "Yup, that ought o' do it."

"You certainly have a way with everyone," Kurama pointed out as the demons closed in around the bunch of ningens.

"Dirty ningens? Here? What business do you have in the Makai?" one apparition asked.

"Get back to your own damn world!" another one yelled, swaying from the Makai liquor.

Another looked closely at Hiei. "Hey, this one's not a ningen!" He leaned close and sniffed Hiei. "He's a youkai!" Those were the last words the apparition ever said before being decapitated by Hiei's katana.

One of the apparitions put Kurama in a death lock and glared evilly at Hiei. "Let's not try that one again, or your lass here gets it!" Suddenly he coughed up blood and fell to the floor, a leaf blade protruding from his middle, insides spilling out and staining the wood beneath him.

"Lass indeed!" Kurama cried indignantly. Everyone in the tavern looked down at the apparition who had just been slaughtered by Kurama. They all turned faces back towards the Reikai Tantei.

"We've had just about enough of you!" cried one and the fighting broke out. The four Tantei backed up against each other.

"Spirit Sword!"

"Rose Whip!"

Hiei unsheathed his katana, while Yusuke simply raised his fists up in the air.

The corners of Yusuke's mouth raised into a smile. "Alright, this is more like it. I haven't had anyone to fight in a long time!" The apparitions charged at the gang and they all jumped up into the air at the same time, causing a few of the less agile apparitions to crash into each other.

"Spirit Sword, get longer!" Kuwabara yelled out. The spirit energy blade pierced into five apparitions stomachs that had been charging him. They all staggered, sputtering up oddly colored blood, then dropped dead to the floor. Kuwabara smiled (that retarded smile of his) and shouted out in glee. "Yeah, anyone else wanna mess with the great Kuwabara, Kazuma?!" Several apparitions turned towards Kuwabara, obviously ready to meet this challenge. "Ah!" Kuwabara cried out. "Not all at once!"

"Can't you ever keep your big mouth shut, Kuwabara?!" Yusuke yelled from across the room, where he was having problems of his own, a demon jumping onto his back. "Ugh!" he cried out as he flipped the apparition off of him and then punched his lights out.

"Shut up, Urameshi!" Kuwabara cried out as he slashed at some more apparitions.

Hiei and Kurama stood back to back, taking on apparitions from all sides together. Hiei jumped in the air, taking out several demons at once with one swift swipe of his katana.

Kurama, meanwhile, jumped in the air doing an amazing display of acrobatics and flips bringing down his whip on whoever got in his way (since it was a big group crowding around 'em...that's pretty much everyone^_^).

"Oh, screw this!" Yusuke shouted. "Shotgun!" Several blue jets of spirit energy flew from his palm and took out the remaining apparitions in the shop. Everyone sighed, thankful the fight was over (except Hiei, of course^_^0).

Hiei gasped and flew to the air, katana at the ready, and pounced an apparition who was about to attack Kurama from behind, knocking the deadly blade it carried from its hands.

Kurama gasped. He didn't even realized death was practically knocking at the door only a few short moments before.

Hiei sat atop the apparition, katana pressed to his throat. "I don't know who you are or what you think you're doing but I do know that you will answer me this simple question."

The apparition sneered, but then gulped and did his best to nod as the blade pushed closer to his throat, drawing only a little blood. "Ok, I'll do anything, just please don't kill me. I'll give you the information you want if I know, in exchange for my life."

"Alright, fine then," Yusuke agreed. "Now, tell us, what do you know about Karasu and the incidents that've been happening around here...the Makai I mean."

The apparition's pupils dilated as he stared in shock at the four teens above him. The blade pushed closer yet to his throat until he couldn't even swallow without the blade cutting him. "Ok, ok," he managed. "Wow, you don't wanna get mixed up with Karasu. He's a rough one. Everyone who's gone up against him have been killed."

"Where is he right now?" Kurama inquired.

"How should I know?" he questioned incredulously. Hiei shot him a glare that clearly said 'that is not the answer we're looking for. Do you really value your life so little?' (A/N: wow, Hiei's talented to say all that with just a glare...^_^)

"Are you sure?" Hiei asked dangerously.

"Ok, ok!" the apparition said, his eyes wide. He sighed and looked around nervously. "But you didn't hear this from me. I don't wanna get mixed up with that crazy. He usually hangs out near a group of caves down south of here...about fifty miles from this very spot." He looked up nervously. "There, I've told you all I know, now let me go as we agreed upon.

Hiei smirked evilly. The apparition's eyes widened even further if that was possible.

"We had an agreement!" the apparition yelled.

Hiei shook his head. "No, you had an agreement with him," he said pointing to Yusuke. "Not with me, I never agreed to anything." He lunged his katana into the chest of the apparition faster than lightning. He twisted the blade around inside the apparition's body.

The apparition's face twisted in pain right along with the twist of the blade within him.

"But, thank you for all your help, I'm sure it'll come in handy...don't worry, we won't mention to anyone that it was you who told us." With that he yanked the katana out of his opponent's chest, the still-pulsing organ attached the end of the blade. The apparition slid down to the floor, agony still twisting his features.

"Ew!" Kuwabara yelled out. "What did you have to do something so gross for, Hiei?!"

"Hn, stupid ningen," Hiei snorted. "What's wrong, can't you stomach it?" Hiei asked, pushing the heart up closer to Kuwabara's face.

"Ew! Get that thing away from me, shrimp!" Kuwabara shrieked. Hiei snorted disdainfully.

Yusuke sighed deeply while Kurama merely smiled, watching Hiei.

*Hiei...* he thought to himself. *I wish you knew how much I love you...* Kurama made up his mind then and there. *As soon as we get back to the Ningenkai after this is all over with I'm telling you how I feel and making you mine for life, itooshi.* He only hoped that Hiei would accept his love and return it with the same feelings. He sighed walking up to Hiei after the bickering had stopped.

"Thank you, Hiei," Kurama said.

"Hn, 'thank you' for what, kitsune?"

"For earlier with apparition. I'd have been a goner; I didn't even feel his ki as he approached."

"Hn, sentimental youko." Kurama smiled and laid a hand on Hiei's shoulder.

"Well, thank you all the same, Hiei," Kurama said, the smile on his face ever present.

"Kitsune no baka," Hiei muttered under his breath as he removed the apparition's heart that was starting to crust to Hiei's katana. He then tore a piece of cloth off of his cape and cleaned off the blade until the dull red was once again replaced by the deadly sheen of the metal underneath.

"Well, let's blow this popsicle stand," Yusuke said starting for the door. Everyone stared at him.

"What? I heard in it in one of those American movies," he explained.

"Boy, those Americans sure have some weird sayings over there," Kuwabara mentioned, perplexed by the meaning of the statement still.

"Yes, we should be getting on," Kurama agreed, grabbing Hiei's hand to pull him away from polishing his katana.

The four continued out the door and headed south just as the apparition inside had told them towards the caves.

2nd A/N: so what'd ya think? Hm...?? Well, this won't be a very long story... it was originally supposed to be a one-shot, but it would have been way to long... k, well, ja ne, cya 'round in part II^_^ ~venusgirl

Japanese terms (in order of appearance):

Konnichiwa: hello

Minna: everyone (Minna-san)

Reikai Tantei: spirit detectives

Makai: demon world

Ningenkai: human world

Kitsune: fox

Kuso: shit

Katana: Japanese sword

Ningen: human

Baka: stupid, idiot

Apparition: low class demon

Youkai: demon

Itooshi: beloved (I believe? If I'm wrong please tell me...I know it's along those lines...)

Youko: demon fox

Kitsune no Baka: stupid/idiot fox

Ja: goodbye (Ja ne)