Sherkoni - Grr, I'm sorry I haven't been updating as quickly - volleyball just started and besides the fact that I can no longer move my arms, it takes up a bit of time. But imma trying - Until Proven Guilty is next Saeka-chan. I was glad to see I recieved no flames for putting in a lemon, which I feared. But most that didn't want it probably didn't read the chapter. -.-;; Hope you like this chapter - the plot begins to unfold. Bwahahahahaha! (rubs hands together evilly)

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Chapter 8

Forgotten, But Not Gone


Yusuke absently opened the frigde, silently cursing as he realized all of Kurama's food contained little or no sugar. Irritated, he closed it again and noticed his wife was no longer at his side. "Keiko?" he called, a little panic rising in his voice.

"Calm down," an amused voice came, the owner walking boisterously into the kitchen. "She went upstairs with Shizuru to play with Kiseki."
Yusuke gave a visible sigh of relief, ignoring the snicker Kuwabara gave.

Seconds later, Kurama came in as well, plopping tiredly into one of the table's chairs. Yusuke and Kuwabara joined him with happy grins. "So how's life with the new couple, Kurama?" Yusuke inquired mischiefly.

Kurama smiled. "As would be expected." His smile dimmed slightly and he glanced noticeably at his hands. "Botan seems a lot happier."

The change in tone was hardly noticed by the two humans, however. "What about Hiei? I would th--"

"Aw, man!" Kuwabara interrupted with an angry glare at the ceiling, placing his hands on his ears. "I can hear Shizuru's stupid music!"

Kurama rose an eyebrow and tilted his head so he could listen better. Sure enough, a musical voice could barely be discerned through the ceiling. Yusuke simply looked puzzled. "She brought music?"

"Yeah, she listens to those middle-aged foagies that croon about love and whatever. Kenny Rogers and all those suave gentlemen. I hate it."

Yusuke snorted. "Sounds like it belongs in paradise after listening to Kiseki and Ren cry all the time at my house."

"Who's Ren?"

"Keiko's cousin, I think. She figures Kiseki needs someone to play with - but all he does is cry!"

Kurama gave an arrogant smirk. "You should have Hiei babysit."

For a second, Yusuke believed he was serious and stared at him dumbfounded. Then, he let out a loud burst of laughter. "Yeah right, like Hiei wou--"

"Argh! It's getting louder!"

Yusuke ignored him and finished his sentence. "Like Hiei would ever agree to watch after a couple of sniveling brats."

Kurama tried to hide the amusement in his eyes. "Is that what you think they are?"

"Not Kiseki," Yusuke clarified proudly before giving a look of disgust. "Just Ren."

Kurama smiled at Yusuke's proud fatherhood. "As I should have guessed, but," he paused to make sure his face was completely sober, "I couldn't have been more serious about Hiei babysitting."

Yusuke's eyes widened more in curiosity then surprise, realizing Kurama was serious.

Kuwabara moaned. "Okay - WHAT is she doing?! Walking down the stairs with a stereo? I can never stand to listen to love songs!"

Sure enough, the music was getting louder, the rich voice rising through the halls, seeming to get closer. "Listen to my heart, can you hear it sing? Telling me to give you everything! Seasons may change, winter to spring, but I love you until the end of t--"

The source of the "music" abruptly stopped as "it" entered into the kitchen, abruptly stopping his song in shocked surprise.

"Hiei?" Yusuke's jaw dropped in surprise. The three men sitting at the table stared in surprise, expecting Hiei to flush with embarrassment and give them a snide remark or threat and quickly make his leave.

That's what they expected.

They didn't expect him to give an innocent,"What?" Seeing their faces now lined with confusion, he smirked pleasantly. "I think a man has got a right to sing." He turned on his heel, walking out the door again. Then, he stuck his head back in and gave an unexpected grin, his eyes dancing with rare happiness. "When he's in love." With a final beam, he went on his way.

Now, even Kurama's jaw dropped in complete and utter shock. "Uh . . . well then . . . ."

"Oh my god." Kuwabara said tonelessly. "Shizuru was right."

"He's suffered brain damage," Yusuke finished, still stunned in bewilderment.

Another few minutes passed in amazed silence before Keiko and Shizuru walked into the kitchen. The two girl's exchanged glances before Shizuru muttered, "Looks like we're not the only ones that heard Hiei singing."


(Hiei's POV)

I had to wonder if there was some type of universal law against feeling so . . . right all of the time. In truth, I hadn't even thought it possible to rise above the lonely solitude I had damned myself to. I was afraid to admit that I was happy, in fear of it all shattering away in front of my eyes. And yet, despite my paranoia, my heart slowly yielded to the truth. I was incomprehensibly in love and, for the first time in my life, content with my life.

Oh yes, I was transforming into one of those love-sapped humans that thrived on chocolate and teddy bears. Not literally, thank Inari. I am perfectly capable of achieving happiness without stuffed cloth with button noses. No, I was just finding it hard to get my brain to focus on it's usual speculations - fighting, death, killing Mukuro, death, my heritage, more fighting and of course, death. Instead, my brain seemed to be constantly swimming in the depths of blue hair and sunshine that smelled amazingly like apple blossoms . . . .

"Hiei? Are you in here?"

Speaking of the object of my affection . . .

"Hn, what do you want onna?" Funny how I show my feelings, isn't it?

The ferry girl let out a loose giggle of amusement and bent down to kiss me on the cheek, carefully avoiding the sword in my lap that I had been polishing. "I'm glad to see you too." Funnier how she knows my feelings despite that . . .

I gave her a sly smirk. "Don't flatter yourself."

She gave a rueful sigh before wrapping her arms around my shoulders and leaning her forehead on my own. "It's hardly flattering anymore." Her lips whispered breaths of silk across my skin.

With a swift motion of my hand, I brushed my sword onto the floor with a slight cling of metal. Before she could question my motives, I lashed out and roughly grabbed her waist, pulling her into my lap. "That hurts," I whispered, kissing the corner of her mouth.

Dumb move. I'd gone almost a day without tasting her soft skin against my lips, but that effort had just been wasted. Evidently, I had a very uncontrolled, bittersweet addiction to her - and she knew it. I was defeated before we even got started.

She pushed a delicate finger to my lips and gave a slight push. "I'm not sure I want you to kiss me, Hiei Jaganshi. Since you're not glad to see me and all . . ."

I wasn't going to fall for that trick again. "I'm not," I said firmly, unwittingly tightening my grip on her waist.

Her eyes glinted with playful mischief and I cursed inside my head, knowing that look all too well. She brought her face down a little more, angling her lips in the perfect kissing position - taunting me, no doubt. "I know you're not," she all but purred against my lips.

My pride struggled against her agonizing tricks, but my heart, mind and body sort of overruled it. Unable to resist her any longer, I brought my lips to connect with hers, but the damn woman stopped me again! Her finger the only thing between our two lips, she gave a slight frown. "I thought I said Hiei–"

"Alright!" I growled impatiently. "I think about you every minute of every day, most particularly before you walked in and graced me with your presence, so I was of course glad to see you. I was thrilled beyond imagination because I love you and you're the only sweet elixir that can sustain me day to day."

Her eyes widened in surprise and amusement. "My. . . you really outdid yourself this time . . ."

I removed her finger from my lips, an arrogant smirk crossing my features. "You're looking particularly sexy this time," I mumbled before closing the small distance between our two lips, savoring how she responded immediately to my kiss.

Unfortunately, Kurama chose that exact moment to enter the room. I had swallowed my pride and went along with Botan's little game and I didn't even get to enjoy the rewards of my suffering. Dammit.

Much to my annoyance, Botan pulled away, choosing to lay her head in the crook of my neck instead of just continuing like Kurama wasn't there. Which was exactly what I had intended to do.

Kurama smiled upon seeing us, but I could tell it was a strained smile. Something was bothering him, and if something was bothering Kurama, then it would no doubt harass the rest of us. I straightened suspiciously and narrowed my eyes at the fox. "What's wrong?"

He seemed slightly perturbed at being read so easily, but he didn't try to cover his anxiety anymore. "Hiei, I. . ." He paused, as if trying to choose his words as carefully as possible. "Koenma wants you."
I tried to read his expression, but his face remained set and emotionless. Damn his years as Youko.

"Why just Hiei?" Botan asked, raising her head from my shoulder to peer at Kurama quizzically.

He shook his head, letting out a barely detectable sigh. "Yusuke is there as well. Everyone is. It's just. . . Hiei he needs. It's . . . important."

Botan tightened her grip around my shoulders protectively, but no words passed through her lips. I kissed her cheek comfortingly and rose to my feet, carrying her with me as I went. I set her down on her feet and stepped towards Kurama. "Let's go," I said shortly, my patience as well as my curiosity were growing thin.

Suddenly, I felt Botan's delicate, but firm hand grip my shoulder. "I'm coming too."

Half of me wanted to command that she stay here until I returned. But who was I, with my love-sick hazed mind, to make adequate judgement? I nodded in compliance and turned back to Kurama, who still bore that logic struck expression.

He made a slight sound of approval towards Botan, before running a hand through his crimson locks. "Since you are coming, it'd be best if you made a portal we could use, to save time."

Botan silently agreed with him, stepping away to create the portal. "Stand back you two. We don't want either of you falling into the dimensional abyss."

oOo

We entered the Spiritworld palace, swiftly making our way through the marble hall. I could feel Kurama's youki tensing more with each quick step. I knew Koenma had sent for me for an important reason, but the problem was I didn't have the slightest clue what. And it was clawing at me from the inside not knowing what could involve me and have Kurama in an unusual state of disarray.

We got to Koenma's office and Kurama pushed open the all too familiar doors, allowing Botan and myself through. We entered and saw Yusuke, Kuwabara and Koenma looking distraught and nervous, all three surrounding a third figure I didn't recognize. His scent reeked of low-class demon and he looked it too. He was short and stooped over, his ribs and spinal cord sticking out beneath his red scaled skin. I observed him in disgust, not bothering to hide the fact that I thought he was repulsive and weak.

He apparently did not notice however, or was just plain blind, because the second he looked up and saw me, he leapt (or hobbled) towards me, clutching desperately onto my cloak. "Master! Master Hono, you have returned to me! I thought I had lost you, but here you are! Oh master!"

I ignored him and glared up at Koenma, seeking answers. He gave me none, flushing slightly and turning his head away. Getting no help from the other two dolts, I shifted my gaze to Kurama. "What's going on?" I hissed, barely making myself heard through the demon's insistent praise.

For a second I saw sorrow and fear enter his green eyes, but he had it covered before I could determine if it was real or not. "Tell him who you are Hiei," he whispered, quickly turning away from my angry gaze.

I let out an irritated growl, angering in my own confusion. Figuring I could think better once this fool shut his trap, I gripped his shoulders and pried him off me. "Get off me you incompetent!"

He finally looked at my face, confusion and surprise etched in his features. "You . . . you are not Master Hono . . ." "Figure that out on your own, did you?" I retorted, rolling my eyes.

"But you sound like him. . ." he continued to protest in a low whisper. "And you look to be his double. . ."

"I'm not Hono!" I snarled, growing more than slightly irritated with this idiot's rambling. The demon's eyes grew wide as realization dawned on him (finally). "You're eyes are red like blood," he croaked, reaching two wobbly fingers up to rest on the tip of my brow.

I retaliated with an angry growl. "Don't touch me."

Despite my harsh words, the demon smiled a toothy smile, his eyes shining with unshed tears. "You must be Hiei, then." He gave an almost pitiful bow. "I have sworn to serve the son of my master."

My stomach clenched. I felt my head swimming with resurfaced rage, long suppressed over my many years of hardship . How dare this. . .this low life demon mention something that he did not know or concern him. "I have no father," I ground out, feeling my youki surging violently through my veins.

The demon only smiled wider, letting the tears cascade down his face. "And he thought he had no son! But he does! And it is you!"

I heard Botan gasp behind me, her hand raising daintily to cover her mouth. But apparently, she was the only one surprised by this demon's outburst. Kurama and Koenma bit their lips, carefully avoiding my angry glare. Yusuke and Kuwabara could do nothing but give me pitiful, sympathetic looks. The fools. "You believe him?!" I spat out in rage. Again, no one answered me. I felt my temper soaring through the roof.

Yusuke saved everyone a fired explosion, suddenly moving towards me with slow, firm steps, clutching a white paper in his hand as if it were his life force. He stopped in front of me, carefully handing me the crumpled paper, the sickly demon grinning like a crazed clown.

I issued a loud growl and snatched the paper from his hands, angrily unfolding it. What I saw made my entire body go numb and if not for Botan's soft presence in the back of my mind, I would have lost sense of reality.

I regret to inform you, Yusuke Urameshi, that I have reached my last days. Some idiotic baffoon poisoned me, the lucky bastard. I regretted only that all of my thieving earnings would simply fall into the hands of my greedy men. But, as fate would have it, I would receive the honor of giving my son the inheritance. Ironically, he killed one of my best spies, a snake demon known as Haru. I left my quarters (still in healthy enough condition) to rid the land of his remnants so as to not give any clues to the Shinobi.

To my utmost surprise, the killer was still there. Alive, but barely. Seeking the privilege of killing him myself, I turned the trodden body over only to find myself looking at . . .myself.
There could be no mistake that this was the son I had taken for dead. A little while later, you arrived and informed me of his name, therefore I was able to write it on my will. You should probably know–

I crumpled the paper recklessly in my hand, not wishing to read anymore. "He is not my father!" I yelled, barely noticing that my hand, my entire arm, was shaking uncontrollably. I knew my statement was more to convince myself than the others.

"Hiei," Koenma said softly. "We ran . . . we ran DNA tests." He exchanged a look with Kurama. "He is your father."

The truth that I had known deep down from the start came crashing through me like a ton of bricks, each spiked and heavy. I felt like my soul was suffocating. I couldn't get enough air and my body was growing increasingly hot. The red demon shrunk away, unable to stand within a ten foot radius of me for fear of getting burned.

I had never known my father and I had never wanted to. He had done me the pain of bringing me into the world with someone he knew was forbidden, making life hell from the first time I breathed. Then he left my mother and sister to die, not considering his son was persecuted and left for dead. This bastard had made my mother's life hell. My sister . . . Yukina, because of him, lost her mother. If not for him, she wouldn't have a brother - that was what she deserved, she had already wasted too many years searching for someone undeserving of her love. The selfish, asinine dick had thought of nothing but himself in his actions. It disgusted me.

I wanted to kill him.

I took a shaky breath and raised my glare to Yusuke who was still standing next to me, waiting patiently for an answer, obviously having ignored the heat that had burst from my body in my outburst. I slowly uncurled my fingers, the note slipping out of my hand onto the floor. I stepped on it with my foot, never taking my eyes off Yusuke. "Tell him I would sooner die before stooping so low as taking something that once belonged in his lowly hands."

The demon servant let out a hurt whimper as if I had smacked him across the face. My anger boiled again and I wanted to let it all out on this sniveling demon. But I wouldn't. Botan wouldn't.

Yusuke lowered his eyes and nodded. "I'll tell him . . ."

"Hiei . . ." I flinched as Botan's hand rested on my arm. She quickly removed it, gazing at me with worried eyes. "Please tell me what's wrong . . ."

What's wrong?! I wanted to shove her ignorance down her throat. Violently. "Nothing's wrong," I snapped bitterly, wheeling away from her, heading towards the door.

But as always, she saw through my anger. She gripped my arm, ignoring when I shot her a deathly glare and instead returned the glare with more intensity than I thought she possessed. It at least softened my own anger enough that I let her restrain me. Once I loosened, her eyes softened with hurt and fear. Hurt and fear I knew I had caused and it struck my heart like a poisoned arrow. I forced my youki down, giving in to her hold. Her eyes searched my face in confusion and sympathy. "Will you be okay?"

"Hn." I tried to pull my arm away from her, but she only held tighter. I knew she wasn't going to let me leave until I gave her a straight answer. Giving a disgusted sigh, I ground out, "I'll live."

She swallowed quickly and increased her grip on my arm. "Please be where I can find you. Don't leave. I can't bear to lose you . . ."

I stiffened underneath her hold. I had really worried her. I gave her a small smile. "I won't." I couldn't, I needed her even when I was the happiest I'd been my entire life. I would shrivel to nothing but a meaningless hole if I didn't have her now.

She smiled brilliantly, unknowingly warming my soul with her ethereal smile - as always. She pulled me closer and pressed her lips to mine in a comforting kiss. I let the familiar feeling of peace drift through me, allowing my longing for her overcome my still present anger.

That was, until that disgusting vermin of a demon decided to speak. "Aw, such sweet love. It reminds me of Master and Lady Hina . . ."

I froze, my eyes flying open in rage. I ripped away from Botan and whipped around to face the demon, my rage seething through the very air like invisible fire. "That bastard was NOT in love with my mother!" I growled dangerously, throwing myself at him with the full intention of strangling him until his neck was severed from his body.
But before I could reach him, he flew out of my reach as if pulled by an invisible hand. Botan.

"Killing him won't help anything!" she exclaimed in exasperation, carefully setting the demon out of my reach.

I tensed unnaturally hard and clenched my fists at my side, determined to hold in my anger until I was out of Botan's presence. In a smudge of black I was at the door. I ripped it open and nearly collided with my sister. "Hiei-san?"

She flinched and tried to hide her discomfort, but I was hurting her. Even the slightest heat causes discomfort to an ice maiden. But I was beyond ridding myself of it. I turned to fix my hard stare on Yusuke. "Show her that note or tell her anything and I'll kill you."

Ignoring her confused face, I rushed past her, speeding through the portal before anyone could tell me otherwise. This rage seething through me was not vanishing through the ruthless speed I forced myself through, but I only pushed harder.

I had always known I had a father. But there was always the option of him being dead. Or secretly providing and caring for Yukina . . .

But the reality of him being a no account thief that wished to burden me with his inheritance was unspeakable. I wondered if he had even thought of Yukina in his will. But what made me more sick was the fact that I was no better. I had grown as heartless and cold as he was. That was why I distanced myself from other's and relationships - they would end up like the mess he had left in his wake. Or I had . . . until . . .

No. I would never do that to Botan. Not intentionally anyway. . . I pushed that thought out of my head as I approached Kurama's house. What I wanted was to take out my rage in the Makai. Such a common routine for me. But I had promised I would be where she could find me . . .


(Botan's POV)

What was Yukina doing here? It didn't make any sense to me, but my concerns were fixed elsewhere - specifically on her twin. I summoned my oar and gave a quick nod to Koenma and the others. "I'm going after him."

Koenma could only nod in reply as I quickly sped off, ignoring Yukina's cry of, "Botan! What's wrong with Hiei?"

I flashed through the Ningenkai sky, hardly noticing the bright, vibrant blue as I usually did. I landed in front of Kurama's door, my breath suddenly hitching in my throat. What if he wasn't in there? What if he went to the Makai?

I really wished I had demon powers so I could sense if he was in there or not, but I was stuck with my own feeble senses. I used the key Kurama had lent me and pushed the door open. The house seemed eerily quiet. "Hiei?" I called into the darkness, absently dropping the key on the counter. I made my way slowly up the stairs, getting more nervous with each rising step. "Hiei?" I tried again, peeking into the guest bedroom. Relief flooded over me as I saw a form buried in blankets and pillows.

I stepped softly over to the bed, not bothering to turn on the light, even though the curtain was drawn closed, casting eerie shadows across the room. I sat on the edge of the bed and placed a hand on the form. "Hiei? Are you alright?"

The blankets shifted and ruffled, worming their way around until slowly, Hiei's head emerged through an opening in the layered materials, promptly finding it's way to my lap. I stroked his hair comfortingly, a little bewildered at his actions. "Hiei?"

"My life is hell," he grumbled into my lap.

I turned his chin and leaned my head over so I could see his face. His eyes were glazed over and blood-shot, seemingly focused on nothing. Oh no.

He had been drinking. "Come on, Hiei," I mumbled, attempting to pull him upright.

He resisted and tried laxly to free himself of my grip. "Stop it onna," he slurred, blindly pushing away from me, only to get flop down on the bed again once he was free.

"Hiei, just go to sleep," I said in dull defeat.

"Why do you love me?" he suddenly asked, giving me an angry glare as if I had done something wrong.

I started, surprised at his sudden question. "I–"

He interrupted me with a bitter laugh. "I am my father's son. Don't waste your time on a heartless demon like me. . ."

He was starting to make me angry - drunk, or not. "I do not waste my time, Hiei."

He lurched upright and tackled me, wrapping two arms around my waist, surprisingly tight for being drunk. Pinned beneath his weight, I could only look at his darkened eyes in question. "I love you," he stated as if convincing a young child. He dropped his head near mine. "And I like," he brushed his lips across mine, "to kiss you . . ."

I could taste the pungent waft of liquor on his lips. "Well I don't like kissing you," I grumbled, placing my hands firmly on his shoulders, "when you're drunk."

"I'm not drunk," he argued, easily giving in to my push, flopping carelessly next to my side.

"Yes you are," I murmured, stroking his warm face. We'll talk about it in the morning. You need to get this weight off your chest. . .

oOo

I awoke to Hiei's body stirring restlessly next to me, obviously awake. With a low groan, I glanced at the clock. It was near eleven. With a sigh, I put my arms around my fire demon and pulled him close, nuzzling his cheek lovingly. "Hiei? Are you okay?"

"Hn . . ." He pulled away from me, burying his head into the dark sheets. Frowning, I scooted closer and wrapped a careful arm around his torso, resting my head on his back.

He placed a hand on my side and pushed me off of him with an irritably growl. "Don't touch me." His voice was hollow and empty, sending a chilling reality through the dark room. He was closing himself off again . . .

A bit annoyed myself, I leaned up on my elbow and placed a hand on his arm. He let out a low, animalistic growl that rumbled through his throat, making my heart freeze. Hiei hadn't done that to me since we had fought off Tiluka. "Don't growl at me! I'm on your side!"

He pulled away again and sat up, the blankets piled in a sort of nest around him. His hair was tussled messy and his eyes were darkened with exhaustion, small lines beneath his eyes. If not for the fact that he was in a particularly foul mood, I would've commented that he looked absolutely adorable like that. "Why did he have to show up?" Not a trace of emotion. His voice rang hollow and his face was set in sculpted stone - something I hadn't seen for seven years. His normally deep and enunciated red eyes held nothing to show the hurt and sorrow that I knew must be there.

If he would just open up . . . share some of the pain he was going through. I could help him if only he'd let me . . . "He's your father, Hiei."

"The only thing we will ever share is blood and even that disgusts me the point of suicide." He let out a bitter laugh - his eyes dancing with the same cruel emotion of his words. Well, at least it was an emotion.

"That can't be all you're feeling," I whispered, trying my luck with his small, but still valid, confession. I snaked an arm around his neck and played nimbly with the mussed hair around his ear.

He seemed hardly aware that I was even there, his eyes not moving from there staring contest with his hands. I frowned in confused frustration. Something was hurting him on the inside and it was hurting me to see him like this. I wanted to break open his soul so I could heal whatever wound might have been caused today.

He closed his eyes and let out a husky sigh. "I feel nothing. I have no heart."

Pushed over my limits of patience, I grabbed him and pulled him down on his back. He gave me a confused look and tried to struggle out of my grasp. I rolled on top of him and straddled his waist, holding his arms at his sides, effectively pinning him. He tried once more to squirm away, but I held on tight, pressuring him to give up. With a defeated sigh, he glanced up at me, obviously wanting an explanation. I leaned close to his face, forcing him to make eye contact. "Do you love me Hiei?"

For the first time his eyes softened with honest emotion - although, I was unsure of what. His voice sounded cracked and came out as a forced whisper. "Yes."

"With all your heart?" A smile crept onto my lips.

His face twisted with slight fear. "Why are you asking me this?"

I felt a little flattered at his worry and my smile increased. "Just answer the question."

He searched my face, trying to read behind my antics, but it left him only more confused. "With all my heart and soul," he finally answered, his voice questioning, but ringing with truth.

"Well then." I laid down on his chest, a position I had found to be very comfortable. "I must say that your love has filled me like nothing else in this world. Therefore, you must have a large and intricate heart with a just as beautiful soul."

The confusion in his face only deepened, but I was happy to see that he didn't blush from my comment - he was finally getting used to my praise and love.

He opened his mouth to voice his confusion, but I cut him off, placing a tender kiss on his firm lips. "So don't you dare tell me you have no heart," I whispered against his lips before kissing him again.

In the flash of an eye, his strong arms were crushing me to him, his face releasing my lips to bury into the crook of neck. It only lasted a second before I felt a definite pull of skepticism in his hold.

I felt relieved when I felt him relinquish his grip to a certain point, sighing in resign. I was just starting to think he was actually going to talk to me for once when his sarcastic tone crashed those hopes down. "You truly test my patience, Botan."

I fumed in anger at his unbelievable cynicism, but tried not to show it. "And you truly test mine."

"And what if I said that your attempts are truly beginning to irritate me?" His tone treaded carefully. "I'd say it's about time you told me the truth then."

Silence ruled while I watched a span of inner dbate showing in the narrow slits of his eyes. A confident lifting of his chin indicated which side of him had won - at least for the moment. "And what if I told you truth?" His voice held that familiar sinister ring as he propped himself up on his elbows, bringing me with him, still laid peacefully in his chest. I took it as a hint to get off and removed myself to sit at his side. "I'll tell you everything Botan, if that's what you want."

"I want the truth," I demanded, feeling hopeful and afraid at the same time. "No more hiding. No more acting."

"Are you certain?" he asked, and one brow rose deviously. "Perhaps the truth would make you afraid of me."

"I would venture to guess that no one is afraid of your truths except you."

"My, my." He chuckled tersely, but I could tell that I had struck a prominent chord. "Aren't we bold."

I held his gaze firmly. "One has to be in such circumstances . . ." "I think you're pressing the issue a bit."

His anger turned genuine as I realized I had indeed struck a chord that I couldn't comprehend. He gripped the back of my neck with a firm hand, forcing me to look into his eyes. "I think the truth might make you afraid to be with me. I say truth for truth, onna. No more faking."

"I'm not sure you know the difference."

"Well," his eyes turned to fire, "see if you derive any truth from this."

With no warning, I became suffocated with something that resembled a kiss, completly absent of the warmth and affection that he usually showed me. I knew he was trying to make me feel used and humiliated, but all I could feel was anger at his complete immaturity and stupidity of the situation.

"Stop it!" I insisted, trying to pull away.

"You see," he said against my ear, "you are afraid of me." "No, I am not!" I snapped, angry that he thought this little game of his would fool me into believing such. "I'm disgusted." His expression remained blank, as if my protests only seemed to prove his point.

"Truth for truth you say." I struggled for the words that would prove that I did know him better than anyone else - words that would cut him to the quick. "The truth, Hiei Jaganshi, is that what you really want is love and acceptance. But you have to earn it, show that you want it."

Hiei drew back to look into my eyes and my voice deepened in an effort to drive home the point I sensed he was absorbing. "What do you know of love, Hiei?" I wished my voice hadn't started to sound cracked with emotion. "Did you ever let anyone in your past break past your walls of bitterness and cruelty enough to touch your will to love?"

Hiei came to his feet and off the bed so quickly, I almost feared he would bolt from the room. He stood like a wild beast that might be sizing up it's prey, contemplating whether to strike or flee. I quickly tried to think of something to say that would discourage him from doing either. "You love me Hiei, I know you do." His shoulders went back, but he seemed to relax a little. "I think you might actually want to accept your father. Love him and have him love you."

Watching him closely, I sensed something yeilding, however slight. I softened my voice to match the fragileness appearing in his eyes. "You're not nearly so cruel as you are trying to prove, Hiei. And neither is he as cruel as you percieve him to be. And I know . . . even Spiritworld ferry girls experience pain."

"What would you know of pain?" he asked in a toneless voice that defied the lighted fire in his eyes.

"What would you know of love?" I repeated gently. He lifted his chin again, not in confidence, but as if he was expecting a blow that might knock him over. "Perhaps sharing some truths could benefit us both."

I held my breath as he knelt beside me again on the bed. I watched his eyes and saw them go through many phases of thought and emotion. He returned my gaze so vividly that I felt as if he was attempting to convey some silent message or meaning. I held his gaze with the same intensity, hoping to grasp whatever he might convey to me.

He took a shaky breath, his voice coming out in a hoarse whisper and began to tell me of his past. Everything. He started with how he knew of his parents' forbidden love and how she unwittingly gave birth to him. He told me how and why he had the title of the Forbidden Child and how he had obtained the Jagan eye and the price that came with it. He told me about his feelings for Yukina and the precious tear gem he had lost and recovered through Mukuro.

I didn't know I was crying until a tear fell against my hand. What could I possibly say? The truth was evident in his eyes. I had suspected that his anger and cruelty were a cover for pain. But I had never believed things this awful had happened to him, one thing coinciding with the other without relent.

"Yes," he said, "That is pure truth. Perhaps the only real truth I know. You asked what I know of love, and the truth is that it was never a part of my world. I believe when I first came to the Reikai Tentai, they might have tried to teach me love, but it was something that frightened me at the time, and I rejected it. Perhaps it still frightens me."

"Do you believe that any amount of love could ever ease such pain?" My voice portrayed the compassion I felt.

His eyes narrowed, not with cruelty, but sincerity. "If anyone but you were to tell me that, I wouldn't believe it."

"Why me?"

He sent me a sideways smile. "I find myself asking the same thing on numerous occasions." He sighed, closing his eyes. "My entire life, pain has burned inside of me, Botan. And in so little time as a week, you seem to have somehow doused a lifetime of fire."

"Can it be doused so easily?" I questioned.

"I don't know," he admitted. "Perhaps it's still smoldering. Sometimes I feel like it will explode and kill me from the inside out." His face tightened angrily. "Like when I found out who my father was." He deepened his gaze on me. "I don't want you to be caught by the flying pieces."

I could find nothing to say and he collapsed on his back, exhausted from his confessions. He chuckled with irony. "Perhaps now you can understand my feelings. I never expected to tell anyone those things and then pour my heart out to bleed all over the ground." He closed his eyes in a defeated manner. "Trample on it if you must. I wouldn't blame you, and I might not even feel it. Pain is my best subject."

I felt my throat tighten. "Enough of pain . . ."

He rolled over, his back facing me, and I feared we'd lost all that we'd just gained. "Are you alright?" was the only thing I could think of to say.

He rolled back over and gave me a comforting smirk. Comforting and smirk shouldn't go together and make someone feel warm inside, but Hiei managed to accomplish it. "Yes. I am."

I smiled happily and reach over to touch his face. "Do you still hate your father?" I breifly brought back what had started our conversation, something he had yet to discuss.

His gaze hardened considerably and his eyes darkened with hate. "Yes," he admitted truthfully. His face changed back into one of peace. "But I feel a lot better."

I laid down next to him so I could see his face better. "That's good, I suppose."

"Wonderful," he corrected before twisting his face into a pretend glare. "But if you tell anyone I had a 'heart-to-heart' chat, I'll sacrifice you to the unheathen gods of the underworld." His glare faltered. "But not before I have my way with you."

"How long will that take?"

"Forever."

"Sounds promising"

I curled into his arms happily, feeling the peace he had discovered radiate into my own body. I had not healed the wound in his soul that had been caused today, but somehow I knew that I had done all I could tonight and it helped a great deal in healing the wound caused by his father. With a final kiss, I fell asleep on his shoulder.


(Yukina's POV)

I had been in my room in Genkai's, reading comfortably after doing my usual cleaning, when I felt a definite twinge of hurt. Pain. I had contemplated it in confusion for a second, since nothing was happening to make me feel such things. And then it had hit me with unbelievable clearity.

Hiei.

How I knew he was hurting and angry, I didn't know. But I did know that I had to help. And so now here I was, in the Spiritworld palace and no one would tell me what was wrong with him! "He's just having a bad day," Kazuma assured me for the tenth time.
I nodded, though I still wasn't satisified.

The demon I had observed earlier, one I didn't know, was being restrained by Yusuke and Koenma, letting out a few whimpers now and then. He kept muttering things like, "Hina! Lady Hina, I must speak to Lady Hina!"

Hina was my mother's name. And I was a clone of her, so naturally he might mistake me for her. But how did he know her to begin with?

When Hiei left, he had told Yusuke not to let me see 'the note'. As promised, Yusuke had scooped up a crinkled piece of paper off of the floor and stuffed it into his pocket. I felt sure that the red demon had given it to Hiei. Unfortunately, not being able to read it wasn't answering many of my questions.

My brow furrowed with confused frustration. "Kazuma?" I placed a hand on his arm.

"Yeah Yukina?" he asked, gazing down at me lovingly.

I smiled softly, regretting that I was about to decieve him. But he was the only one that I knew would help me right now. I just hoped he would forgive me, and more importantly, that it would work.
"I really need to see that note," I pleaded softly. I placed a hand over my heart. "Something is wrong with Hiei and I can feel it. I just want to help him, please Kazuma?"

His face looked skeptical at first, but slowly twisted into one of sympathy and regret. "Hiei's goin' through a tough time right now."

"I know!" I all but cried. "I just want to help. Please tell me yourself if you can't get the note!"

Obviously, telling me seemed less appealing than getting the note because after a few moments he gave me a soft smile. "Well, maybe . . ."

I felt almost ashamed, but I forced my eyes to well with tears and I used the phrase he seemed so fond of telling me. "Please, Kazuma, I love you. Will you do it?" I paused, swallowing dutifully. "For me?"

That had done it. His face relented into a defeated grin. "Well alright, I'll do it for you babe. But we have to make it convincing. Pretend like you're leaving and I'll hurry and snatch the note."

I smiled brightly. "Okay." I gave his hand a soft squeeze before heading to the door. I turned back to gaze at the others. "I should leave, I guess. Please tell me if anything happens to Hiei. I would love to assisst."

Yusuke motioned me out with a wide grin. "Don't worry about it. He'll be fine, just go on home!"

I gave a respectful bow and quietly left the room, walking down the hall. After about ten feet, I stopped to wait for Kazuma, nervously twisting my hands.

I didn't have to wait long, for in less than a minute he came out of the door holding a crinkled white paper. He quickly placed it into my hand and gave me a triumphant grin. "There. Now, hurry and read it so I can go back - I told 'em I was just going to the bathroom."

I nodded, not wanting to know how going to the bathroom and bringing the note along made sense together. I unfolded the note and shifted my gaze to the now worn lettering.

I regret to inform you, Yusuke Urameshi, that I have reached my last days. Some idiotic baffoon poisoned me, the lucky bastard. I regretted only that all of my thieving earnings would simply fall into the hands of my greedy men. But, as fate would have it, I would receive the honor of giving my son the inheritance. Ironically, he killed one of my best spies, a snake demon known as Haru. I left my quarters (still in healthy enough condition) to rid the land of his remnants so as to not give any clues to the Shinobi.

To my utmost surprise, the killer was still there. Alive, but barely. Seeking the privilege of killing him myself, I turned the trodden body over only to find myself looking at . . .myself.
There could be no mistake that this was the son I had taken for dead. A little while later, you arrived and informed me of his name, therefore I was able to write it on my will. You should probably know that Yukina is somewhat of my daughter as well. Although not in blood. Ice maidens create clones of themselves so there is no need to bond with a male. Especially not a fire demon.

So you can see how wrong it was of me to fall in love with an ice maiden, Hina. However foolish, we were determined to make it work, promising to see each other only in private. Unfortunately,
not too long after, she became pregnant. I visited her as often as possible without getting caught, comforting her through the nine months. One night when I came by for my usual visit, I was greeted by Hina's good friend, Ruri, like always. To my surprise, she informed me that she already given birth. She told me that, as was to be accepted, a female clone of herself was born,
as well as her twin brother - a male fire demon. At first I was fiilled with joy at having a son of my own flesh and blood and I demanded to see them both. She informed me that they had considered the child of the devil and that his gender and fire qualities would contaminate their land. They had thrown him off their land to die. In an outrage, I ignored Ruri's protests and stormed into the village. I found Hina's dwelling and found her coddling a young girl as silent tears fell from her face. I was torn apart at the grieven look she had on her face. Obviously mourning the loss of our son.

She looked happy to see me and quickly told me they had confined her to this room and she was sure our son would be killed. I didn't have the heart to tell her that he had already perished. Filled with rage, I tore from the room to take vengeance on the ice maidens. Ruri stopped me before I could do anything and made me leave, saying it would be foolish to act now. However angry I was, I had to agree she was right. I left.

I tried several times to come back, but the ice maidens had confined Ruri as well, I had no way in.
Five years later, with a small group of strong demons, I forced my way into the island and demanded to see Hina. To my horror I discovered she had passed from this life. My daughter was gone, searching for her brother. A brother who didn't exist, she was waisting her life away. These people had stolen the lives of my son and lover. I wanted revenge with a pure hatred, such that I had never known.

I killed off everyone except Ruri and those that had been born after the events of the 'Forbidden Child'. That didn't leave many, the island now looked like a ghost town. I don't know if you have a son, or a lover, or a loved one that can never be reached . . . but please try to imagine my pain and regret through these years of my life.

Please apologize to Hiei for me, tell him that I do love him and if you would . . . I left my address at the bottom for him to recieve his inheritence any time he wishes.

Hono Subarashi

My reeling mind was only interrupted by Kazuma's worried voice. "Yukina? Yukina, are you okay?"

I finally snapped my gaze up. "Yes, yes I'm fine." I handed the note back gratefully. "Thank you, Kazuma."

"Anytime babe."

I stood frozen in my position in the hall long after Kuwabara's retreating back disappeared through the doors. The reality of it all was sending ice through my blood, shock through my brain, and warmth through my heart - all at the same time.

Hiei was my brother.


Sherkoni - Woo-hoo, 14 pages again - I'm on a roll! (does cheesy victory dance) Just a note, I'm editing the first chapter so it indicates that this is semi-AU, but I figured I might as well put it here too so someone doesn't flame me. I have no idea who Hiei's father really is, his name, etc. Nor do I know how Yukina would really react - just an educated guess here, capiche? Also, I forgot a few chapters back, but I might as well give the meaning of the names now.

Kiseki - Miracle

Hono Subarashi - Lonely flames

Please review, it makes meh happy. n.n;;