Sorry about the general...dead-ness. But it was a therapeutic dead.

still not mine. blah.

:the touch of me:


"Here," Botan said quietly, looking up as Aven Vincent entered with Hiei. "Just put him on the mat."

"Right," Aven Vincent said, obeying and backing away quickly. "Anything I can do?"

"Make sure they don't die until I get back," Botan said, going to the door.

"Hey, you're supposed to be keeping them alive!" Aven Vincent protested.

"I can close their wounds up, but they'd go septic with all that goo caked all over them. I need some of my stuff," Botan pointed out. "I'll be right back."

"But I...thingy," the interrogator said helplessly as Botan vanished from the room. He then looked reproachfully at the two unconscious demons lying on the mat covering the floor. "I'm only good at making people talk!"

Hiei muttered something, then sat up with one hand to his head. "So shut the fuck up," he said succinctly.

"Hello," said Aven Vincent, startled. "I'm here to keep you from dying until Botan gets back."

Hiei gave this some weighty consideration. "The gnome in my head is telling me I should laugh hysterically at this." He then flopped back into unconsciousness.

"He's gone mad with terror of me," Aven Vincent remarked. He then plopped down onto the mat with a martyred sigh. "Ye gods and little fishies."

"All right, you can go," Botan said from the door. She edged past Aven Vincent, dragging a basin of water over to Kurama. "Unless you want to stay and watch me."

"Piss off," Hiei said, lapsing back into consciousness.

"I was just going," Aven Vincent said, sounding affronted. He then stalked out of the room.

"You should probably stay awake," Botan told Hiei. "If you thrash around while you're taking your nap or whatever, I'll have to hurt you worse."

Hiei looked unconvinced that this was a real threat, but sat up irritably anyway. "What are you doing now?"

"Making sure he stays unconscious. I don't want my ass kicked if I hurt him badly enough," Botan said, a white glow floating from her fingers to hover in front of Kurama's face. "I don't know how he managed to just shrug this off. His arms are stripped almost to the bone. And now for the fun part," she muttered, retrieving a wet cloth from the basin of water and starting to work on Kurama's hands and arms. "I could have sworn he had sleeves."

"I could have sworn he had skin," Hiei pointed out, finally taking a long look at the damage Kurama had incurred. And he did that...for...oh, what the hell am I thinking? He wasn't noticing anything then except Ramandai.

"That too," Botan said with a sigh. "Ugh. This isn't going to be easy, what with him bleeding so badly. The mud seems to be holding the blood in, mostly. I don't suppose you'd help me?"

"You can't just magic that stuff away? You're no help," Hiei remarked.

"Oh do shut up," Botan complained. "Tell me what happened."

Hiei, rather than trying to point out the obviousness of this contradiction, merely ignored her.

"Or sulk. You could always do that." Botan tossed the first cloth aside and picked up another. "This is horrible. At least tell me what did this."

"Seals," Hiei said idly. The bite on his mouth was really starting to make talking painful.

"I noticed," Botan murmured, picking bits of shredded seal out of Kurama's fingers and setting them aside for future inspection. She worked her way through about five more cloths in silence before she finished Kurama's right arm and hand. "I want to apologise for my plan going horribly wrong," she finally ventured, picking up the next clean cloth and switching arms.

"Don't snivel." Hiei then returned to semi-conscious silence.

"Had...had Ramandai actually done the ritual to become a fire demon?" Botan asked to break the uncomfortable silence.

"Yes."

"You're sure?"

Hiei glared rather than respond.

"I'm only asking because these look like burns, except there's no cauterization at all," Botan said hurriedly. "I was wondering if he had magic with fire."

"..."

"You just got very uncommunicative very quickly," Botan observed. "Why?"

Hiei sighed. "Talking is painful and unnecessary."

Botan glanced up at him, then nodded in comprehension. "Ah. That bite seems to be infected. My apologies then."

"Would you stop apologising?" Hiei demanded irritably.

"Sorry."

"..."

Botan decided that it was yet again a good time to stop talking, and finished her work on Kurama's arms and hands in silence. "All right," she finally breathed, running her fingers over the exposed bones, skin and muscle reforming in her wake. "I think he'll be fine from there. I can check back for infection in a bit." She glanced over at Hiei, noting the swollen bite mark on his face and the masticated rips in his clothes. "Let me see those bites."

Hiei looked away. "No."

"Why not?" Botan asked crossly.

"No," Hiei reiterated, gingerly touching the bite on his mouth.

Botan eyed the placement of the bites and rips in his clothing. "I'm assuming you weren't welcoming being chewed on."

"I wasn't."

"So Ramandai really was after you?"

Hiei's eyes narrowed sharply as he whipped back around. "Shut. Up."

Botan, sensing dangerous territory, started in on Kurama's face instead. "Did Ramandai hate him?"

"Very much," Hiei answered. He half-smiled. "It was a familiar look."

"Is there a reason that bits of his lungs are ruptured?" Botan inquired, holding her hands a few inches above Kurama's chest, where they were surrounded by a vague white glow.

"If that were true, shouldn't he be dead?" Hiei inquired.

"You have little sacs in your lungs that make up the walls. Some of these were broken," Botan explained. Hiei thought this over and seemed to be filing it for future reference. "There. Fixed. I think I'll bring him around now."

Hiei looked away again hurriedly, rising to his feet and stalking away into one of the many attached suites.

"Kurama?" Botan asked.

"...nnh?"

"We brought you back," Botan informed him. "You'll be fine now."

"Am I...hurt? My hands..."

"I fixed the burns on your hands, arms, and face, as well as your lungs," Botan said gently. "Is there anything else you'd like me to take care of?"

Kurama slowly sat up, looking wonderingly at his hands. "I don't...how did they look?"

"Well, I could see that your bones were all in excellent condition, aside from some light scouring," Botan said frankly. "Anything else?"

Kurama blinked hazily, then blinked again with alarming clarity. "Where am I?"

"You're in one of the guest rooms near Koenma-sama's offices," Botan informed him. "Hiei was here, but he went into a sulk over his injuries and went off to lick his wounds in private."

Kurama's eyes darkened. "I'm not surprised."

Botan leaned forward. "Ramandai didn't...didn't...?"

"He tried," Kurama said with an attempt at lightness. "He failed."

"Are you two really...really...?"

"No," Kurama said indignantly. "Ramandai is so not my type."

"No no no," Botan retorted impatiently. "You and Hiei."

Kurama looked rather put out. "I, er, don't know? I really don't know now. I'm going to be lucky if he doesn't murder me the second he sees me for what I pulled."

"Anyway, what happened? Hiei wouldn't tell me," Botan asked softly.

"We went ahead," Kurama said. "You see, your plan would have worked, except that you didn't ask me if I wanted help. I didn't. I'm sorry."

"You should have said so!" Botan complained.

Kurama stared at her, slightly perplexed arrogance glinting in his eyes. "Since when have I had to ask someone's permission to kill someone?"

"Since we – " Botan began.

Kurama interrupted, still with that prideful tilt to his head. "Botan, not to be rude, but it's me." He emphasized himself again. "I do what I want."

"Within reason," Botan pointed out. Kurama quietly took on an air of humoring her, indicating that she should change the subject. "All right, so where did you screw up?" As expected, this knocked the condescension off Kurama's face.

"I...look, I suppose I deserved that," Kurama said ruefully. "I'm not the fastest, but Yusuke wasn't expecting me to take off. Hiei and I have worked closely together before. He knows my methods; I think he was fairly sure I was going to go off on my own. I don't know why he followed me. Maybe he was covering for me. I don't know."

"So you two went haring off by yourselves. Then what?" Botan summarized.

Kurama stared at his hands. "I went to Ramandai's castle, killed his guards, stole his Ruby of Coals without taking off any of his trap spells, and put a couple holes in the wall. Then I went about fifty yards away into the woods and waited. Hiei got suspicious and left as soon as Ramandai came after me, but I...didn't know that Ramandai could control minds and bodies to that extent. And I also didn't count on it not being me he wanted," Kurama added. "I thought he hated me for being...I didn't know what he hated me for, but people do. Hate me, you know. I didn't think he'd care what Hiei did. But I was wrong again." Kurama traced an idle design on the mat next to him. "I think the only thing I did right was to leave you guys behind. And even that wasn't really under my control."

"You killed Ramandai, didn't you?" Botan replied. "That was all right."

Kurama wiped his mouth with the back of one hand. "He tasted awful."

"What?" Botan turned a confused look on the redhead.

"I bit his throat out," Kurama said softly. "I tore his heart from his chest and drove my fingers through his eyes. I disemboweled him and gored him, and he didn't care. He regretted nothing. He didn't beg." Kurama's eyes turned to the floor. "I suppose I'm not as good as I used to be at making people scream."

Botan looked rather disconcerted. "Well, um, is there anything else you want healed?"

"I want to be clean," Kurama said plaintively.

"There," Botan explained, pointing. "Go and be merry."

Kurama wobbled to his feet and headed for the door. "Right. Thank you. Tell Yusuke and Kuwabara that I send my sincere apologies." He then vanished through the door, leaving Botan kneeling on the floor, surrounded by mud, bloodstains, and medical paraphernalia.

She sighed, then stood and walked into the hall. "Can I get someone to clean off the mats in here?"

Meanwhile, Hiei was intensively cleaning his sword without paying an ounce of attention to it.He wasn't really in a deep state of thought or anything interesting like that. His brain had simply more or less shut down as a defense mechanism, as coherent thought was probably not a good idea in the wake of what had just happened.

He blinked as he unfolded his right hand from around the blade and looked at the palm of his hand blankly. Hm. I seem to be bleeding. Ah. Yes. Holding the blade would do that.

Hiei promptly forgot all about cleaning off his sword and began pacing back and forth across the room. Snap out of it, idiot. I've never reacted like this before. This has never happened before. People don't try and seduce me. People try and kill me, mainly because not only am I really annoying, but I'm the Forbidden Child. Well. That's not really why people like to try and kill me, but it's why people don't like to try and...and...ARGH. I'm going to kill Kurama. Kill. Dead. I wish I'd been the one to kill Ramandai. I deserved to kill Ramandai. Except...GAH.

Hiei looked blankly at his sliced-up palm. Anyone who touches me deserves to die.

But if that's so...when did I start discerning between who can...?

It was around this point that Hiei started punching the wall. Depressingly enough, the wall was stable enough to not buckle under a few good shots. As a matter of fact, Hiei managed to keep himself occupied for about five minutes without even denting the wall. He finally turned away from the wall angrily and went back to pacing. Unfortunately, this took him in front of the mirror situated near the archway into the bathroom attached to the room he had claimed.

Hiei flitted over to the mirror, stared for a long moment at the bite mark on his face, then plunged to the nearest sink to scrub at the bites on his body until they were bloody for a third time.

No, Hiei is not reacting well.

In the next room over, Kurama was huddled under about a foot of water, cradling both hands and letting the water pound his mucky hair into submission, all the while exercising incredible breath control. Botan had worked a small miracle in regeneration, but Kurama was still trying to catch up on just what the last twenty-four hours had exactly entailed.

Sorry, no girly hair-tossing shower scene this time. Or even a shower. Maybe later, when Kurama's a little less traumatized.

I was so weak... Kurama shook his head violently. So pathetic! Gods, I couldn't even break those seals! Sixteen years of sloth in a human body. This is disgusting! I couldn't even...oh, gods, he'd have killed me if I had tried to help him, though. Hell, he's going to kill me anyway. At least I got my revenge. At the very least...

Kurama surfaced, spat out bits of flesh, and submerged again miserably. At least I killed him.

He then went back to the painstaking task of scrubbing Ramandai off his skin.

In the other room, Hiei was having a much harder time getting Ramandai off. He had hacked at the bites on his skin, tried to scratch the flesh off wherever Ramandai had licked, and was staring emptily at the as-yet-untouched bite on his mouth in the nearest convenient mirror.

I've never had someone under my skin before, Hiei reflected. I can't get him off. I don't know how. His flesh crawled as his body made repairs to the sliced-up areas. And I'm just going to have to live with it.

About the time that he made this internal declaration, someone hammered on the door. "Hiei!"

Hiei glared at the door full-force. Yusuke. Damn.

"Hiei, are you in there?"

Hiei realized that this question was in all likelihood a formality before Yusuke broke down the door. "Yes. Now go away."

Yusuke paused for a minute. "What?" he demanded, sounding injured.

Hiei stared at the empty mirror frame. "Go away."

"What is it?" Yusuke asked. "Seriously, you're the only one I can talk to about what happened?"

"Go away," Hiei reiterated simply.

"Hiei – "

"Leave me alone!" The door burst into flame and exploded outward. Hiei blinked and looked at his hands. That wasn't intentional. I hate it when that happens.

"I'm going! I'm going! Jesus, someone's cranky." Yusuke scurried back into the hall. "Botaaaaan! Hiei just set the room on fire!"

Hiei gazed blankly at the fire for a long time, then whirled and fled back into the bathroom to hack at the bites yet again. Or maybe throw up. Or both.

Kurama stuck his head out of his door and looked around for what all the screaming and massive youki outbreaks were about. He blinked at the fire, rummaged in his hair, and pulled a face when he realized that he was still weaponless.

"Kurama!" Yusuke skidded back into the room. "Oh dear God what did I do? I only asked him what happened!"

"It's a point of shame," Kurama said after a pause. "I wouldn't press the issue with Hiei unless you want to have your head lopped off."

"Can you tell me what happened?" Yusuke asked in an undertone. "You're my friends. I want to know what that bastard did to you two, and then I'm going to find his body and – "

"I'll tell you once I've finished scrubbing his internal organs off my skin and brushed my teeth about fifteen more times," Kurama said blandly, and shut the door in Yusuke's face.

Yusuke stared at the door, then at the fire, then back at the door. "I'm going to go rip Ramandai a new one," he said conversationally to the room, and left.

As soon as he showed back up in Koenma's room, he was pounced upon by Botan, Koenma, and Kuwabara all at once.

"Did he really set the room on fire?"

"If he told you what happened, I need to record it!"

"Urameshi, you look like you're going to kill someone. Can I help?"

"Yes, he did. No, he didn't tell me. By all means come along," Yusuke ground out. "Hiei won't come out of his room and exploded the door on me when I tried to talk to him. Kurama told me to leave him alone until he finished showering internal organs and stuff off. And I'm going to go tear Ramandai's body to pieces. We have anyone who can resurrect the dead? I want to kill Ramandai."

"No, don't do that, it's a waste of good necromancy," Koenma said wearily. "Calm down and we'll talk, shall we?"

Kuwabara put Yusuke into a headlock with what could be termed gentleness. "We're listening."

"I wouldn't push either of them too hard to tell you what happened," Koenma said bluntly. "They screwed up and they know it. I really should punish them, but I think that might be overkill and down, Yusuke! I said I wasn't going to punish them. I have no idea how Ramandai caught them that off-guard, or what he did to them, or how he kept them after he'd captured them, though."

"Sir?" Botan ventured, sliding small pieces of shredded paper forward onto the desk. "I think these might explain what happened to Kurama...at least a little. I picked these from his wounds."

Koenma took a small piece of metal rod from his desk and began sliding the papers around. "Generic ki depletion, ki depletion, null magic, depression, null magic, anti-cauterization?" Koenma blinked. "Limited motion, null magic, metal allergy, metal allergy, clouded mind, fence of fire, null magic, fence of fire..." Koenma left the rest of the pile alone. "Well."

"I don't even get to use some of those," Aven Vincent piped up from the back of the room. "Anti-cauterization sounds fun. Can I use that one from now on?" Everyone ignored him.

"Did you find any of these on Hiei?" Koenma asked Botan.

Botan shook her head. "He wouldn't let me look at any of his injuries, but they all looked like bite marks. They're infected, but he didn't have anything on the caliber of Kurama's injuries."

"Bite marks?" Kuwabara demanded.

"Bite marks," Botan confirmed. "They're...in, er, delicate places on his torso."

Everyone stopped and thought about this.

"That's really fucking sick," Kuwabara volunteered.

"I was wondering how to articulate that in a language you'd know," Aven Vincent said languidly.

Yusuke extricated himself from Kuwabara's headlock and smirked. "Now there's a whole new spin on Hiei."

"I thought Ramandai wanted his power," Koenma mused.

Botan shrugged. "He probably just wanted a signing bonus to go with the power."

"He practically wanted to be Hiei. Anything that got him closer seemed good." Everyone whirled and stared at the redheaded demon that had appeared in the doorway. "Did you want to see me?"

"Yes," Koenma finally spluttered.

"I assume you want to know why I left," Kurama continued.

"Yes," Koenma repeated, this time with a touch of impatience.

Kurama stared directly at Koenma. "I wanted to."

Everyone waited. "Well?" Yusuke finally prompted. "What else?"

With a vague smile, Kurama continued, "Oh, sorry. About what I did?" At Koenma's nod, Kurama's smile died. "I allowed Hiei to think that we were just leaving the others behind, and I didn't explain what was going on until about two seconds before Ramandai caught us. His fault for following me. I didn't tell him to come with. The Ruby of Coals was returned to Ramandai, but if you'd like to prosecute me for the theft of said object, I won't mind. I didn't even bother to hide that I was stealing it. It was a most ungraceful thing. So if you'd like to revoke my parole or any such thing, I really won't care. I've done what I needed to do, and I have no regrets."

Koenma sighed. "You do seem to enjoy putting me in very difficult positions, Kurama."

"What were you expecting from me?" Kurama replied. He smiled briefly. "Really, you have to remember who I am from time to time. By the way, that wasn't what this was about."

Koenma drew a paper across his desk and fidgeted with his seal. "You say you have no regrets."

"None."

"I don't believe you."

Kurama smiled again, hollowly. "You should."

Koenma looked thoroughly exasperated. "And why is that? You're the most defeatist demon I've ever met in my life! Has it ever occurred to you that your life is not a good thing to use as a bartering piece to get what you want? You haven't got infinite ones! And let me tell you, the day I know you have no regrets is when you and Hiei land side by side in my maximum security prisons or maybe some level of hell, saying 'Damn, was that fun!'. So don't think I'm firing you yet. Dismissed."

Everyone was looking a little stunned by then. "Wh-wha...?" Kurama finally managed.

Koenma gave him a long look. "How blind do you think I am?"

"Blind about what, sir?" Kurama replied delicately. "You mean I'm not in trouble?"

"Of course you're in trouble!" Koenma bounced up onto his desk and glared at Kurama. "You habitually do stupid things like this! It's in your blood, I'm sure! Demon impetuosity and a human disregard for life! It's an awful combination!"

Kurama looked at Koenma. "I'm still unclear on whether or not you're going to punish me."

"Oh just get out of here before I change my mind and pitch you in prison," Koenma said, pointing at the door.

Kurama slipped over to the door and vanished out of it without another word.

"Are we sure he's telling the truth? I mean, I can..." Aven Vincent trailed off when Yusuke whirled around with a snarl and a reiki spike powerful enough that it could be felt in Milwaukee. "...er."

Koenma propped his head in his hands. "I'd send someone to go drag Hiei out here and ask him, mostly because he's not as given to being dramatic, but I know Kurama's listening and would manage to somehow thwart it. Go away, you blasted demon!" He made a flapping gesture at the door with one glowing hand.

There was an affronted noise from outside the door. "I've never been exorcised so inelegantly before," Kurama announced, sounding wounded, and unwillingly stalked away.

"He really does think I'm that stupid, doesn't he?" Koenma asked the collected people. "No, don't answer that. I'll ask them what happened later, when they're DONE SULKING."

Disappointingly enough, Kurama didn't rise to the bait. He was instead picking his way through the burned-out rubble of Hiei's door. "Listen," he announced, and explained what had just transpired in Koenma's office.

Hiei absorbed this silently from wherever he was hidden, then finally contributed, "I note you haven't said anything about what precisely happened."

"No."

"Are you planning to?"

Kurama didn't stop to think about it. "No. I'm not. I have no control over what you do, but I prefer to keep my account of things to myself."

"Do," said Hiei, "because I don't plan to explain what happened, either."

"That sounds like a deal."

"Oh, of course. You're very well known for keeping your pacts with me," Hiei added, finally appearing in the door but not looking at Kurama.

Kurama cast his eyes to the ceiling. "You are not still harping on that, are you?"

Hiei grinned maliciously at nothing in particular. "No. But every time I mention it, I can make you twitch." He brushed one hand against the puffed and oozing marks on his face and the evil expression died. "This one won't seal up."

"You should know why," Kurama said. "Your body is dealing with the infection before closing the skin. We're not like humans. We evolved better than that, mostly because of all the toxins and general filth floating around our world."

"The human world is pretty damn sordid," Hiei retorted.

Kurama eyed him. "You look like Ramandai's chew toy, you know."

Hiei turned the full minor-life-form-killing glare on Kurama at full power. "Interesting."

"I'm just pointing out that 'partially skinned' is not a good look for you," Kurama said innocently.

"You're one to talk."

After a rueful look at his arms, Kurama began meditatively tapping his fingers together. "You didn't touch that one on your face. Why? Vanity kicking in?"

"What is it with you and the way things look?" Hiei demanded.

Kurama batted his eyelashes with a faint smirk. "You three spend your time body-building, I spend my time being pretty?"

Hiei stared at him in complete disbelief, pus and a touch of blood streaking down one side of his face.

"While we're on the subject of looks, that bite mark looks really gnarly," Kurama commented.

"What, you're criticizing my war wounds now?" Hiei demanded.

Kurama looked at the ground studiously, then the walls, and following that just about anything else in the room that wasn't Hiei. "Some war wound," he said softly.

Hiei pressed the bite and let more liquid flow onto his face, eyelids lowering almost euphorically from the pain. "Nn."

"Look," Kurama began, then gestured a bit while lost for words. "I have to get out of here."

"Human world?" Hiei asked.

Kurama went to the door. "Do I live anywhere else?"

"No," Hiei said, "you don't." His eyes turned to the door, or to be more precise, the person beyond it. "You've got a visitor."

Kurama merely said, "I know," and walked out to join the wraith-Shiori in the corridor.

During the subsequent conversation, Kuwabara was occupied with hauling the rather icky corpse of Ramandai through several different dimensions, all for the purpose of jumping on said corpse's ribcage a bit out of general anger. It had occurred to him that there wasn't much left of Ramandai's ribcage to jump on, but this had never stopped such activities historically.

"That it?" Yusuke asked as Kuwabara approached, aura sword wrapped around the most stable-looking leg.

"Urg," Kuwabara said coherently, looking back at the trail of entrails and slime. "I hitched a ride with one of the girls who went to fetch the soul, but I didn't get a ride back."

"I'm not surprised," Yusuke said.

They both looked down at the body meditatively.

"He smells a bit off," Kuwabara reported.

"It's probably part mud, part intestines, and part...decay, I suppose," Yusuke said dubiously.

Again with the examination of the body.

"So Kurama did this?" Kuwabara broke the silence again.

Yusuke nodded. "Definitely a few screws loose in that brain. Probably a few more after all this happened."

"Aren't dead people supposed to look peaceful and harmless?" Kuwabara demanded.

"I suppose being butchered would change that somewhat," Yusuke said. "I didn't think that he would be so thoroughly...dead. I was expecting him to be sliced in half or something. This is ridiculously brutal."

"Maybe it was some super plant of doom," Kuwabara offered.

Yusuke nodded, though he was absolutely positive that the ravaged throat had bite marks on it, and not the friendly kind. "Mm."

The contemplative silence was shattered by Botan screaming from about two inches behind them, "What is that? Why is it here? That's disgusting! Get that out of here! Get! It! Away! It smells like...like...awful things! Take that back to wherever it came from RIGHT NOW!"

The acrimonious debate that ensued was one of the most spectacular on that dimensional plane in all history. And if Ramandai was stepped on more than a little bit during such a thing, no one really minded.

Well, all right, it meant new shoes for whoever did so.

At a certain point in time during that debate, Shiori began retracing her steps back to the ferry girl who had brought her, massive amounts of paperwork in hand. Kurama watched her go, then shook his head and turned for the way out.

"That's it, isn't it?" Hiei asked from behind him.

Kurama stopped and contemplated the wall. "Well...yes. Yes, I suppose so."

"What was that about? I thought she'd gone off already," Hiei informed him.

"She wanted to know why I lied earlier about my being able to see her after she dies. She also wanted to know who I was, I suppose. One thousand years of life history truncated into twenty minutes. Gave her best to her fiancé and all that. I told her not to get her hopes up about me being sent to the same place where she's going. I'm for prison or some other place where they shove me in, lose the key, and melt the lock." Something amusing seemed to strike Kurama, and he smiled vaguely. "Or something like that."

"When has melting the lock stopped you?" Hiei asked.

"Oxyacetylene is an excellent thing," Kurama replied, his smile widening.

"I thought so."

Kurama exhaled and started to walk again, then looked curiously at his newfound companion. "You're coming with me?"

Hiei shrugged. "It's the least likely place for someone to find me."

Kurama gave this some thought. It looked slightly painful. "If you say so. Do you have anything specific to do in mind?"

Hiei said bluntly, "No. I just don't want to be here right now and you're the first person I see leaving." Kurama stared at him somewhat blankly as Hiei continued, "What are you insinuating?"

"I'm insinuating that I myself have something specific to do in mind. I am going home, going to sleep, and not getting up for maybe three days. I'm not going to school for a good solid week, I'm not going to play human for the same amount of time, and I think I'm going to watch incredible amounts of television. The world can deal with it."

Hiei quietly marveled at the ability of Kurama to be deeply egocentric at the oddest of times. It probably went hand-in-hand with the using-life-as-bartering-piece mentality. "Nn."

Kurama ran one hand through his hair gingerly. "You still want to come with?" he asked, extending the same hand to Hiei.

Hiei's fingers twisted around his, the callus of a sword hand scraping on the callus from a whip handle. "If people are leaving you alone, they will be leaving me alone."

"Or maybe you just like my company," Kurama volunteered devilishly.

Hiei smiled, crooked and oozing fluid. "Maybe."

"I can fix this," Kurama said, stepping closer and gesturing with two fingers over the still-open wound on Hiei's face. "Would you prefer it?"

"Maybe," Hiei repeated, and when Kurama smiled like sin and sunshine he ignored the faint sharp pain from cheekbone to jaw and instead kissed Kurama roughly.

"Are you biting me?" Kurama asked breathlessly, licking his now-torn lower lip. Hiei didn't bother to answer and kissed him again, with fangs and hunger and some slight dizziness.

It was Kuwabara's unfortunate luck to walk into the hallway at that moment. He studied the situation for a few seconds, winced, and announced, "I did not need that image. I feel my brain burning." He then turned and staggered through the nearest door.

"He has a brain?" Hiei asked curiously.

Kurama laughed and they left in silence, fingers still twined together.

:touch of you:


...so, um, that's it. Done. It's been a hell of a ride. I love you all. I'll see you in Skeleton Dancer, which will NOT take place in the same universe as this. Ah, that cross-dimensional writing.

lilmatchgirl: Um. Sorry about the lack of soon.

kikira-san: If you think this one was gory, wait for SD. SD will be redefining gory.

MikaSamu: aw man, now I feel really bad for not updating.

Liviania: I'M ALIVE.

Kooriya Yui: I live to serve.

RehdFawx: Thank you:blush:

Kerei Kitsune: I, uh, wrote two SO FULL OF ANGST chapters that went nowhere near an ending, then deleted them and stared for a while at what was left. It was bad. But you were right!

KuramasKitsuneGirl: I'm sorry!

boyxboyislove: I KNOW. gah. He's the uberdisturbing one of the series. Thanks for a million reviews!

Kuranga108: I'm sorry! I'M SORRY!

darksaphire: I don't know. It just kind of slipped out during one chapter, then kept coming back.

Niana Kuonji: Ehehe. Heh.

Princess Random: You all hate me now, don't you. :grin:

ForeverFornever: Aheh. I swear, my writing muse has that seasonal affective disorder and refuses to work during the winter.

anonymous: I have done so. :elegant bow:

Henrika: I didn't get to put Yusuke and Kuwabara in as much as I would have liked in here. It made me sad, because they're fun to write.

Dane Soar: I dunno. It seems like something he might do if he got angry enough. Aven Vincent...eh, he tortures people for work, not so much for fun. He has down time.

SunStar Kitsune: Um...you're...welcome?

Alyssa-Anime-Angel: I'm sorry for the wait:flail:

Cattibrie393: Thanks:grin:

baka-basher: I revolutionized angst-humor. Ah, the moodswings.

Capella Alpha Aurigae: Thanks! Eeeheh. I invite you to use your imagination in any way you see fit here.

Oya: His moment of brainage. Hee.


i luff you. please review. it makes the hole-punchers happy.