I've been wanting to write this for a long, long time. As much as I love Hiei/Kurama fics, you see so many that end up with one or the other of them a bleeding mess in the best case, and stone-cold dead without even bearing their hearts in the worst. So, whilst I plan yet another one of those in-battle realization fics, I decided to write this one-shot of pure fluffy flufness! ^_^ Feel the love…

Disclaimer: I don't own Kurama or Hiei, but I do own this idea! *giggles* If they ever find out they may kill me…

Starting With 'A'

Kurama sat at his desk, bent low over his homework. Long, bright red hair brushed over his creative writing assignment, just out of his pen's way as in inscribed the paper with well-written kanji.

He felt a familiar youki coming closer and smiled. Then he heard the usual rustle of a cloak and near-silent footfall onto the room's carpeted floor.

Kurama smiled, turning to face his visitor. Hiei brushed his spiky black-and-white hair back as he pulled his cloak off and set it on the floor next to the window, under his katana. The tattered black shirt he'd been wearing underneath was now the only thing covering his top.

"Hiei." Kurama greeted him as usual, with a calm smile. "Good evening. What brings you here?"

"Hn." was usually the only reply he got. Then Kurama would return to his work, and Hiei would retreat to a perch on the windowsill, or on the edge of his bed if it was too cold, and he would wait. Once Kurama was through with his schoolwork, he'd change for bed and the two would sit up discussing the going-ons of the Reikai and Makai until one or the other of them fell asleep, just like they always did.

But things did not go as they always did tonight, starting with Hiei's first line. Rather than his usual little grunt, he crossed his arms over his chest, locked both garnet eyes on Kurama and gave a little huff before stating. "Teach me what you're doing."

Kurama started to go back to his work, then did a double-take. "What did you say?"

"Teach me what you're doing there, fox." Hiei mumbled. "What you're scribbling on that page."

Kurama blinked, looking down at the black ink-marks and the ball-point pen in his hand. Then it click. "You mean…writing? You want to learn to write, Hiei?"

"Whatever you call it." the little demon pulled a slightly smaller chair around toward the desk, sitting in it grumpily with his arms crossed. "Just teach me."

Kurama blinked again, then wiggled a finger in his ear to make sure he'd heard that right. Hiei wanted to learn to write? Write in the Ningen language? What had gotten into him? Was he sick?

Subconsciously, Kurama's hand drifted to the other demon's forehead. Hiei almost instantly knocked it away from his warded Jagan. "What the hell was that?"

"Just…checking your temperature." Kurama muttered, still eying the little creature in surprise. He re-capped his pen, turning to face his friend fully. "Are you really serious, Hiei? You want to learn to write?"

Hiei was starting to grow a bit impatient. "Yes, fox, I am serious. Teach me."

Kurama blinked, then stuttered something out. "But…But Hiei, do you even know how to read?"

"No." Hiei snapped. "What's that got to do with anything?"

"Well…" Kurama sighed. Sometimes talking to his partner was like talking to a stubborn two-year-old. "You can hardly write a language if you can't read it."

"Fine." Hiei growled. "Teach. Me. How."

"Okay, okay." Kurama turned back to the desk, clearing his homework away. It wasn't due until after the weekend anyway, he had plenty of time to spare. But where to begin? Kanji was way too hard to start Hiei out with right off the bat. He barely knew how to speak Ningen, let alone write it.

He pulled out a blank sheet of paper and wrote a single symbol down nice and neat. Better to start him off with simple Hiragana and work it up from them.

A thought struck him. He turned back to his friend, eyes taking a slightly curious glow. "You realize this is going to take quite a while to learn, don't you?" he said quietly.

"How long?" Hiei muttered.

"Weeks, at least." Kurama shrugged. "Maybe months, depending on how quickly you pick it up. It's not just going to be over-night."

"Fine then." Hiei pushed his chair closer to the desk, so he could better see the paper. "Just teach me."

Kurama sighed. He was a stubborn bastard, when he wanted to be. That's part of the reason he liked him so much.

"Alright then, Hiei." he sighed, showing him the symbol he'd written. "Let's start with 'A'…"

~ * ~ * ~

As it turned out, Hiei was a rather fast learner, as well as a very persistent one. He came back to Kurama's window every night after that, waiting until the fox-demon finished his homework, then jumping into the chair for another night's worth of lessons. After a week and a half he'd mastered reading the alphabet and other syllables, and had moved on to simple words. Two weeks later he was reading the simple children's books Kurama's mother had stashed away, and doing quite well, though he was rather frustrated that the only things he understood were about talking hamsters and blue cat-robots.

About that time, Kurama started him with writing the alphabet, and, to the fox's amusement, wound up giving Hiei homework. He worked mainly on sheets of paper Kurama gave him, but if he ran out he wasn't above tearing off a hunk of bark and writing on that, making Kurama flinch whenever he thought about the poor trees in the park.

And all this time he never once questioned the reason that Hiei would want to learn to write so badly.

About five weeks after his first request, Hiei came flitting in the window to find Kurama already done with his work and pulling out the blank sheets. The red-haired kitsune turned back to great his 'student', smiling warmly.

"Good evening, Hiei." he said, motioning to the chair next to him.

Hiei dropped his cloak and sword by the window, leaping up into his seat. With a strange sort of pride he presented about a dozen sheets of paper, each lined front and back with all 45 symbols he'd been taught.

Kurama smiled a bit as he looked them over, the pulled a blank sheet in front of the little demon. "Alright then." he brushed his hands together and standing so he could watch from a better angle. "I think you've got the symbols down pretty well. Now we move on to spelling."

"Spell?" Hiei's eyes raised questioningly.

"No, not that kind of spell." Kurama corrected quickly. "It's how you set up the words, each word has its own spelling."

"First off…" he moved directly above Hiei, smiling a bit of a mischievous smile. "You'll need to know one thing that everyone should always be able to spell."

"…What?" the black-haired demon asked after a pause. "What is it?"

"You'll see when you're done." Kurama smiled again. "Now…First syllable is the 'H' with an 'I' sound attached."

Hiei paused a moment, then drew a symbol on the page. Kurama stopped him just as he finished. "No, not quite. That's the H with A sound, remember? The one with I looks like this…"

He put his hand over the other's. In a split second, Kurama felt a short spark running up his arm from where his bare flesh touched Hiei's. It had only been to guide the pen's point to the correct symbol, but at the same time it felt…pleasant…to have contact with him like this. It struck him then, how much he'd been enjoying these nightly tutoring sessions…

"Looks like what?" Hiei asked, snapping Kurama out of his thoughts. He was still preoccupied with the work. "Which one is it again…?"

"Ah…" Kurama shook his head, pushing the thoughts out. "This one…"

He guided Hiei's hand into the looped U-shape, then pulled back. "There. Now an 'E'…" the black-haired demon made the two marks. "And another 'I', and you've got it!"

Hiei put the pen down, looking at the page a moment. "Got…What?" he finally asked. "What did I just…?"

"Read it." Kurama pointed to the page, smiling at the word.

Hiei picked the paper up, squinting at his own writing. "Hye…"

"No no." Kurama shook his head. "The 'i' sounds like an 'e', remember? Try again."

Hiei scowled, then tried again. "He…He-eye…"

"Almost…" Kurama coached. "It's a little complicated, but that's more of an 'a' sound…"

"He…He…" the little demon stumbled a moment before he could put it together, and his eyes spread in surprise. "He…ay…Hiei…That's…my name."

Kurama smiled. "There you go." he patted him on the back. "Everybody should know how to spell their own name. It's the first thing anyone learns."

Hiei turned around in his chair, locking Kurama with his ruby-eyes glare. "How do you spell your name?"

Kurama was a bit taken aback. "What?"

"Your name. Spell your name." Hiei demanded, handing the fox his pen.

"Well…" Kurama leaned over, sitting back in his chair. "If you insist…Mine's three syllables. Ku-ra-ma. See?"

Hiei glanced at the neat writing, then was bent over the page again, copying it down. Kurama was rather impressed, but didn't think much more of it as the lesson continued…

~ * ~ * ~

The lessons continued for the next two months, Hiei's spelling and pronunciation getting better with each word. Soon his written vocabulary was almost matching his spoken one, and he was rather rapidly going through the books on Kurama's shelf.

As the weeks wore on, Kurama found himself thinking more and more of his little 'student' when he wasn't around. And his thoughts didn't have to do with spellings or lessons, oh no. Most consisted of wild day-dreams, caused by sudden a rush of humors, and fantasies pushed up through his heart. Now he knew why westerners though love was caused by a god's arrow. It hurt, it hurt so much, but at the same time he reveled in it, enjoying every second.

It was hard for him to keep hands off the little demon during lessons now, leaning over more than necessary to guide his hand correctly, reaching over so that he had his arm around him. For all he knew, Hiei had no idea, but he still thrilled at the feeling, getting the same spark he had when he first touched his hand.

But, every night, Hiei left through the window as usual, leaving the redhead to retire to his longing dreams…

"Are you listening, fox?" Hiei snapped.

Kurama turned, pulling out of his thoughts. He turned, smiling as he buttoned up the shirt of his pajamas. "I'm sorry, Hiei. What did you say?"

"Hn." was the demon's reply, pulling his cloak and scarf back over his shoulders. "You're acting strangely, fox. Is something bothering you?"

"…Nothing, Hiei." he muttered after a moment, heading towards the bathroom for final preparations. "Nothing at all…Good night."

When he returned he found Hiei, as expected, gone for the evening. The papers and pens were still messily strewn around the desk, save the ones Hiei had taken to practice with.

Kurama sighed, beginning to gather up the sheets. Already his mind was planning his lesson for Hiei the next evening…He had recently taken to allowing himself to be read to, a chapter at the time. Hiei seamed to being enjoying it too, in his strange sort of way. Perhaps he'd be apt to sitting a bit closer after being tired out by a nice long spelling quiz, which was giving him a bit harder time…

Then his hand stumbled upon something that was definitely not one of their lesson sheets. It was folded, and it had his name on it, as neat and exactly printed as the very day he'd first written it above Hiei's.

It was not the same kind of paper, either. It was heavier, almost parchment-like, and a very pale peach color. There were roses printed on the top. Kurama really hoped Hiei had gotten it from Yukina or one of the other girls, and hadn't stolen it from a stationary store.

Kurama turned the note over in his hands curiously. Just his name looked like Hiei had taken quite a while to write. Each line was carefully drawn, placed the best he could, and was much neater than his usual writing had been.

This whole thing had a strange air around it. Why would Hiei write him a note at all? They saw each other every night, there was nothing he couldn't tell him face-to-face…was there?

'Get with it, Kurama.' he scolded himself. 'You're getting all nervous about it and you haven't even opened the thing yet.'

But still, his hands shook as he opened the note. These feelings…this passion, he'd been feeling for these past months made him like that whenever he thought of that cute little fire-bug. He was scared it said something he didn't want to hear…and maybe more afraid if it was something that he did…

Finally, with a resounding sigh, he unfolded the letter and read what it said.

It only took him a split second the first time, but he read it another three times, smile growing wider at each time. Finally, he pulled it close to his chest, leaning back so far he fell onto his bed, eyes closed.

He fell asleep that way, smiling against closed eyes. Now he understood. Now he realized what Hiei had been planning this whole time. He'd been enjoying the lessons, had he? Well, he'd enjoy them even more tomorrow night…

As he slipped into the dark of his night-time slumber, his hand slipped away from the letter, letting it fall, open, to the ground. The moonlight crept through the window to shine one the last line of letter…

…Ai shiteru, kitsune. Ai shiteru…forever…

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

Okay…my first try at this kinda thing. Please be gentle…If anyone can think of a better (non-angst) ending, I'll do a re-write.