Notes: This would take place during the Dark Tournament, but it's not canon, anyway.

Summary: Yukina gets a visit from a wounded Hiei.

The Healer Is In

A YuYu Hakusho Fanfic by

Nate Grey )

She was awakened by a cold, wet nose poking at her neck. Yukina stirred slowly and opened her eyes, only to find her face buried in a great amount of white fur. The memory of the previous night quickly came back to her as she gently stroked the wolf cub's head.

A mother wolf had sought her out three days before. The youngest cub was suffering from a strange illness and had been on the brink of death. Yukina had healed him with no real difficulty, and was staying only to be sure there was no relapse. At least, that was the excuse she'd decided upon in her mind.

In truth, she enjoyed the company of the wolves immensely. Though mothers were generally fiercely protective of their cubs when it came to strangers, this one had practically adopted Yukina as one of her own. The cubs merely saw her as something of an oddly shaped wolf with less fur. But she was still a wolf to them, and so they played, wrestled, and romped with her as they would any other cub. They were a bit rough at times, but the mother always broke up any activity she saw as being too lively for Yukina.

It was getting to the point where Yukina dreaded the thought of leaving them, and not just for what it would do to her emotionally. If she stayed too long, the wolves would become too attached to her. But if she had already stayed too long, they would never let her leave. She was already sleeping among them, and getting used to being awakened by cold noses and warm tongues on her neck

But as she petted the cub that had nudged her awake, Yukina knew she would most likely have to leave the very same day. There were other animals that would eventually need her healing talents, and not many of them would be desperate enough to venture into a cave of wolves to reach her.

Her thoughts came to an abrupt end when the mother wolf nudged her, so hard that it nearly hurt. "What is it, Mother?" Yukina asked, genuinely concerned.

The mother wolf did not answer. Instead, she began to growl in increasing volume, glaring at the entrance of the cave.

Presently, the two missing cubs backed into the cave, barking and yipping at whatever had disturbed them.

The cave walls were bathed in shimmering, orange light as the intruder moved closer.

The mother wolf pushed her cubs over to Yukina and crouched protectively in front of them, ready to leap. Yukina gathered the cubs in her arms and tried to reassure them, even though she was worried herself.

The orange light stopped advancing suddenly and vanished. "Yukina," said a quiet voice.

She blinked uncertainly; shocked to hear that voice here. "Hiei-san…?"

He moved into view, dressed in black as always. Wisely, he did not proceed any further, obviously aware that he was putting the wolves on edge.

Yukina did her best to reassure the wolves that Hiei wouldn't harm them. She made sure to make eye contact with him, as if silently asking if he would keep that promise.

Hiei did not respond, but he didn't disagree, either.

Yukina stood up and moved away from the wolves, wondering what Hiei's purpose in coming out here was. He was just not the type to make friendly visits. She didn't think he even had any friends. At any rate, she could never recall seeing him outside of the times when she'd needed his help, and this wasn't really one of those times.

"It's…good to see you again, Hiei-san," Yukina said softly, and really meant it. Of course, she was just happy that he didn't look angry. He could be very frightening when he wanted to be.

Hiei stared at her, as if trying to decide precisely what she meant by that. But instead of returning the greeting, he asked what he always did. "Are you well?"

She nodded almost automatically. Yukina had learned very quickly that answering "no" to that question usually resulted in the bloodshed of some unfortunate soul. She thought it very odd that someone as violent as Hiei clearly was could be so considerate of her alone. And then there was the why of it, which she couldn't figure out for the life of her.

Then she asked the one thing he seemed to hate ever answering. "And are you well, Hiei-san?"

He began to scowl, decided against it, and blinked. "I needed to see you."

That was clearly not the answer she'd been expecting; the blush rising in her cheeks was proof enough of that. Usually, it was she that needed him, not the other way around. Yukina could only think of so many reasons why Hiei might need her, and she didn't really want any of them to happen in a cave of wolves.

But that train of thought came to an abrupt halt when Hiei withdrew his right arm from his pocket.

"Oh no…what….happened to you?" she whispered in horror, her eyes widening as she took in the sight.

From his fingers to his elbow, Hiei's arm appeared to be covered in a heavy coat of soot. But upon closer inspection, it became clear that he had been very badly burned.

"There was a battle," he said. "The victory came with…a cost." Hiei smirked, as if he found that funny. But the anguished look on Yukina's face made him freeze.

"Why didn't you call me?!" she cried, tears threatening to form in her crimson eyes. "I…I would've come to you! You KNOW I would have! Instead, you came all this way, and now it might be too late for-"

"Yukina," he interrupted firmly but gently. "Don't. I can't watch you cry for me."

She shook her head. "Hiei-san…after all you've done for me…how can I not? Sometimes, I thought you were the only who cared."

There was a pained look on his face, and he began to speak, but something stopped him. "Don't cry for me, Yukina," he whispered. "Ever."

"But…how else will you know?" she asked, coming closer. "How else will you know how much I worry about you?" Yukina slid her arms around his waist and pressed her face into his shoulder. "Don't ever scare me like that again, Hiei-san. Promise me you won't."

He stood motionless for a long moment, before finally reaching up and stroking her hair with his left hand. "…I didn't realize you cared so much," he admitted. "I thought you saw me as a monster."

"No," she whispered. "Some humans believe in guardian angels. They are entities that watch over mankind in every moment, guiding and protecting. That's how I've always thought of you, Hiei-san."

"Then…I don't frighten you?"

"Yes, occasionally. But I know it's only because you care so much." She raised her head to look at him. "Though…I wish you would tell me why you do…someday."

Hiei avoided her eyes. "I wouldn't put too much faith in anything humans believe, Yukina. Or have you forgotten what the last bunch did to you?"

"Humans are as different from one another as demons are," Yukina replied, carefully examining his arm. "Some of them are evil, but not all of them. Like your friend, Kuwabara-kun."

He snorted at that, but said nothing else.

Yukina took that to mean he didn't feel like talking anymore and focused on her work. His arm was badly damaged, but she could fix it. "Do you mind if I ask exactly what happened to your arm? You don't strike me as a person who gets this badly wounded easily."

Hiei didn't answer at first, and Yukina lowered her eyes in what might've been disappointment. "I did it to myself," he said after a moment. "Performing a summon."

She nodded faintly and closed her eyes, focusing her energy on his arm. It didn't surprise her that Hiei had harmed himself in battle. What did surprise her was that he was so badly burned, since he had always controlled fire so expertly. Just the thought of him being burned at all was ridiculous. "It must have been quite a summon, to do this," Yukina murmured.

"You should've seen the demon on the other end of it…or what was left of him."

Yukina couldn't help smiling weakly at that. After a moment, she opened her eyes and turned his arm over carefully. "This is all I can do, I'm afraid."

Hiei raised his arm and flexed it experimentally. His eyes widened slightly as the blackened skin fell away in flakes, revealing a totally healed arm underneath. "I think this will more than suffice."

"You're going to do it again, aren't you?" she whispered. "The summon?"

He glanced at her. "Most likely."

"Then there's nothing I could say to change your mind?"

"No." He turned, as if to leave.

Yukina bit her lip. "Could…I go with you?"

Hiei stood very still for a long moment. Finally, he turned back to look at her. "Why would you want to?"

"So you wouldn't have to go so far to be healed," she said quickly.

He didn't seem to believe her, but accepted that answer. "It won't be pretty. The damage will only be worse next time."

"I only want to be near you, Hiei-san," Yukina insisted. "Please?"

After a long moment, he sighed in what seemed to be annoyance. "It would be easier to keep an eye on you if you were close by, I suppose. But I don't like the thought of you being in the midst of so many unruly demons."

"I know you would never let anything happen to me," she said, smiling brightly.

Aided by her complete confidence in him, his resistance faded at once. "Come along, then." His gaze went to her feet. "The wolves stay."

Yukina looked down to see one of the cubs tugging at her kimono. Smiling, she bent down and gently pulled it from his mouth. "I'll miss you, too, little one." She stroked his head a few times before carrying him back to his mother. "You must stay here, with your family."

As if in approval, the mother wolf licked Yukina's face as she drew her cub to her.

Yukina waved sadly as she backed away, then turned and took Hiei's arm. "I'm ready now."

Hiei led her out of the cave, and when they had gone several feet, he stopped. "Yukina."

"Yes, Hiei-san?" She looked up at him, half-expecting a question about why she'd been in the cave.

His nose wrinkled slightly. "How long has it been since you've had a bath?"

Yukina blushed to the roots of her hair. "Um…quite a while, I suppose…"

"I imagined as much. You stink of wolf."

She did her best to treat that as an observation and not an insult. "Do I really smell that bad?"

"The smell doesn't bother me. It's just that I know several species of demon that would find you completely irresistible in this unclean state."

"…oh. I see." It took amazing strength of will for Yukina not to ask if he was among those demons. "Is there time enough to stop somewhere so I could clean up?"

"We'll make time," Hiei said firmly, leaving no room for argument. "I wouldn't have even the filth I'll be fighting in front of see you at anything less than your most presentable."

"Am I trying to impress someone?" she asked curiously.

"No. But it's the closest most of them will ever get to someone like you, and we want them insanely jealous when I win with you cheering me on."

"That almost seems cruel, Hiei-san, but I think there was a compliment in there somewhere."

"Of course there was. You're the only female I'd ever even consider being seen within ten feet of."

"What about Botan-san?"

Hiei scowled firmly. "I meant what I said."

Yukina frowned at him. "You're just being mean, Hiei-san. She's perfectly nice."

"And that's only half of what's wrong with her."

Realizing that she would never win this argument, Yukina decided to change the topic to something Hiei wouldn't mind discussing. "So tell me more about this summon you used."

He paused, turning to look at her. "You want to discuss battle?" he asked, his lips curving in what might've been amusement.

"Not especially, but if you're going to do it again and make it even worse, I'd at least like some idea of what I'll be dealing with."

"Fair enough," he said mildly. He launched into a rather detailed description of the Dragon of the Darkness Flame, hoping he didn't scare her too badly.

Yukina merely nodded at the appropriate times, showing she understood the more complicated parts, all the while treasuring the insignificant but reassuring feel of his arm looped through hers. Had she actively set out to find a suitable companion, Hiei probably would not have been at the top of her list. However, his bravery and utter devotion had won her heart all too quickly, and as long as he would allow her to, she would walk by his side.

The End.

Endnotes: For the life of me, I don't know why I did this. Obviously, I'm heavily influenced by the dub, and so I don't know the proper Japanese names for the Dark Tournament or the Dragon of the Darkness Flame. If you do, good for you. Don't bother telling me, though, as I seriously doubt I'll need the info in the foreseeable future. Don't plan on too many (read: any) more YYH fics, and the rest would prolly be mush-fests featuring Botan or Yukina, anyway, so there.