A/N- This story takes place completely outside of the timeline I have created for my other stories; it is not linked with them at all. This is a response to a challenge issued on the yahoo group 'the burning rose'. It's my first challenge fic, and the two requirements were that it must be a Hiei/Kurama story that includes a kiss at midnight. So without further ado, I present: New Year.

Okay, maybe just a little more ado: I don't own 'em, I'm just playing with 'em. Please review.


"Hiei, would you hand me the large plate from the table, please?" Kurama asked politely. The bewildered fire demon took the serving plate and handed it to the kitsune.

"Why are you doing this again, Kurama?" he asked, staring at the frantic fox as he tried to arrange small hors d'oeuvres on the dish.

"It's a human tradition, Hiei. Tonight is the last night of the year, New Year's Eve. It is a human custom to spend the evening with friends and family. Then, at midnight, we all celebrate the beginning of the new year together."

"I see. So, where is your mother?" the still confused hiyoukai responded.

"She and her fiancé went out to a party together. She said I could invite some friends over as long as it doesn't get out of hand, and as long as they stay overnight. She doesn't want anyone walking home tonight because of the potential number of drunk drivers out there." At Hiei's glance, the fox just shrugged. "Drinking alcohol is a tradition at these parties, and some humans drink more responsibly than others." Kurama elucidated. Hiei just nodded.

After a few more minutes, all the refreshments were displayed on their various plates, and Kurama began carrying them into the living room. Following suit, Hiei grabbed some plates and carried them in as well. Briefly, the hiyoukai wondered why he humored the fox like this. Had anyone else asked to attend some ridiculous ningen festivities, he'd have declined with a simple 'Hn'. But for his fox, he would do anything. He had been having feelings for his the kitsune for some time now. When Kurama was near, Hiei's heart would race, and he would feel like a huge pit opened up in his stomach. He had some notion of what this meant, but no idea how to tell the fox without driving him off. So the small demon played the part of the best friend, suffering both guilt for hiding his affections and shame for not being able to confess them.

Just as the last plates were placed the doorbell rang. Kurama hurried to the door to admit his guests. He had invited the entire team and their family and friends. Surprisingly enough, they all agreed to come. A small army trooped in past the kitsune. Yusuke tossed his coat over a chair, and brandished several jugs of sake. Keiko just shook her head and picked up the discarded jacket to hang it, along with her own, on the coat stand by the door. Kuwabara took Yukina's light cloak and hung it up as well. Shizuru, in a rare display of courtesy, put her cigarette out before entering the house. Genkai entered quickly and quietly, claiming a chair for her own, and pouring some sake.

Just as these guests were getting settled, the doorbell rang again, and the final team member arrived. Botan walked into the house cheerfully chattering away to her escort. To the shock of the entire group, her escort was none other then a teenage Koenma.

Finally, the entire group was assembled. They sat around the living room chatting with each other softly and nibbling on the snacks Kurama had made. The night wore on, and by eleven o' clock, Yusuke and Kuwabara were smashed on sake, Shizuru was tipsy, and Botan was at the giggling, hugging stage of drunk. Genkai, although she preferred tea, could easily drink any of the youngsters under the table, as she had so effectively proven. Kurama had had a drink or two himself, and was feeling comfortably warm. Hiei, although he refused to let it show, had taken several drinks, and was feeling pleasantly giddy, despite the death glares he continually shot at the oaf as the large human tried to woo his sister. Yukina had one drink, and had only drunk half of it. She smiled and laughed at Kuwabara's antics. Keiko and Koenma had not drunk anything. Keiko was too busy trying to keep a somewhat amorous, drunk Yusuke at bay, and Koenma had no desire to show his team what a poor alcohol tolerance he had.

As it grew closer and closer to midnight, the group grew more and more rowdy. Finally, Keiko pushed Yusuke away from her. "Yusuke! You are so infuriating when you are drunk! I don't want to kiss you when you smell like sake!" she said, just loudly enough to bring an eerie, uncomfortable silence to the room, as every person present turned their attention to the couple.

"C'mon, Keiko. You don't even want to kiss me at midnight?" Yusuke slurred, giving Keiko a cute, puppy dog look.

"Well, that's different, Yusuke." she replied softly, blushing.

"What is so special about midnight?" Yukina asked curiously.

"It's a tradition." Shizuru answered. "At the stroke of midnight on New Year, everyone kisses everyone else. But it's also tradition to start with your true love. Kind of like, you are starting the year together with that person, or some romantic mush like that."

"Oh, I think that's so sweet. To start a whole new year by showing your love for someone." Yukina mused.

"Yukina? Can I kiss you first at midnight?" Kuwabara asked, the sake having lowered his inhibitions enough to finally approach her.

Despite Hiei's infuriated glare, the ice maiden blushed and replied, "I would be honored, Kazuma. I want to kiss you first, too."

Hiei scowled at the oaf, as his mind raced feverishly. To kiss your true love at the stroke of midnight was tradition. So, if he timed this just right, he could tell the fox how he felt with no words. Of course, telling him in front of the entire gang was not something the hiyoukai had considered, but in his somewhat drunken state, he didn't really considered details like that at all.

The group turned on the television to watch the countdown to midnight. As the minutes ticked by, those present began to inch closer to their chosen 'first kiss'. Finally, the final minute came. The people on television were counting down the final ten seconds. When they all shouted, "Happy New Year!" many things happened at once. All the people on television began kissing each other, right in front of the cameras. Yusuke leaned over and covered Keiko's lips with his own. She responded by wrapping her arms around his neck, and kissing him back passionately. Kuwabara leaned towards Yukina, and gently pressed his lips to hers. She smiled, and allowed this, and the two shared a closed mouth kiss. Koenma quickly planted a kiss on a surprised Botan's lips. As he began to pull back, she looped her arms around his head and pulled him in for more. Genkai just sat in her chair, sipping her tea and thinking of New Years celebrated long ago. Shizuru, unseen by anyone, reached into a pocket and slipped out a small, gold cigarette lighter, and held it to her heart with her eyes closed. Kurama smiled slightly, and closed his eyes. With a small smile he thought of the lips he wanted to have against his, and his inability to admit that to anyone but himself. He was very surprised to feel a soft, warm pair of lips press firmly against his own, before they were replaced with cold air once more. Opening his eyes quickly, the fox saw the others in their various stages of smooch, and a black blur shoot out the window. Raising his hand to his lips in confusion, the fox jumped off the couch and bolted out the door in pursuit.

After a few moments, the kisses around the room began to break apart. Many of the participants' heads spun from the intensity of their first kiss of the year. Finally, Keiko looked around. "Where is Kurama?" she asked. The rest of the gang looked around as well.

"I dunno." Yusuke replied. "But he couldn't have gone too far, his shoes are still by the door, and his jacket is still on the stand."

"Hey, the Shrimp is gone, too." Kuwabara noted. "Maybe they got jealous 'cause they don't have someone to kiss."

Shrugging off the absence of their friends, the group returned to the festivities, sharing platonic kisses with each other, and shaking hands, and ringing in the new year.

Kurama continued running through the snow, following in the direction he had last seen the blur. He found himself in the park. Walking along the path between the snow-laden trees, he continued searching for his small friend. Only after a few minutes did he realize just how cold he truly was. The warm effects of the sake had completely worn off. He was completely sober, and shivering violently. Wrapping his arms around himself, he tried to walk faster, but his wet, freezing feet would not comply. Doggedly, he kept searching.

Hiei sat in a tree, cursing himself. The snow did not bother him at all. The hiyoukai barely noticed the weather as he stewed over his rash actions. He had decided to share his feelings with Kurama at midnight. But as the magical hour approached the effect of the sake faded completely, so did his resolve. By the time the chimes struck twelve, he only had enough courage to give a quick kiss to his kitsune and then flee out the window. The fox had his beautiful, green eyes closed at the time, and Hiei only hoped that they had not opened in time to see his escape. Hiei was musing over his own inadequacy when a noise from below caught his attention.

A figure was staggering through the snow, calling to the fire demon. The dark silhouette was not recognizable in the heavy storm. Hiei tried to look closer as the figure stumbled to lean against a nearby tree, then slumped to the ground to huddle in a small ball among the roots. With a start, Hiei recognized the other, and swiftly went to its side.

Kurama was barely conscious when the black shadow appeared beside him. The fox's lips were blue, and he had stopped shivering some time ago because his body had no more energy with which to move. He whimpered one word before he lay his head back in defeat, "Hiei..."

Hiei heard this, and realized that the kitsune had seen his escape, and had followed him hastily, forgetting his coat and shoes. Quickly the small youkai raised the temperature around the two of them, gathering the semi conscious fox into his arms. After about twenty minutes, the red head began to stir, as color slowly returned to his face and lips.

Kurama was unsure how much time had passed. Slowly he opened his eyes, only to find a pair of concerned crimson orbs staring back at him. "Hiei?" he gasped out.

"Shh. Rest." Hiei crooned softly. Then, almost as if he realized how smitten that sounded, he snipped out, "What the hell were you thinking, running outside in a snowstorm with no shoes and no coat?"

Kurama just smiled weakly. "You kissed me, didn't you, Hiei?"

Taken aback by the directness of the question, Hiei only nodded.

"Why?" the tired kitsune pressed.

"I...I..."Hiei stammered. Looking into the eyes of the fox in his arms, he decided that it was now or never. "I...love you, Fox. I have wanted to tell you for so long, but I was afraid you would hate me for it. I thought....if I kissed you at midnight....maybe..." Hiei trailed off, unable to form words to complete his thoughts.

"That's silly, Hiei." Kurama remarked. Hiei flinched inwardly. He knew the fox would think that of him. Kurama continued, "That's silly to think I would hate you." Hiei drew in a sudden breath at these words. "There in no one else I would want to kiss. Not at midnight, not at noon, not any time in between. I love you, too, Hiei. I was always afraid you would run away if I said anything, so I settled for your friendship."

The two merely looked at each other for awhile in silence. Finally, Kurama broke the quiet. "Let's try that again, and this time, we can both be honest with each other. Happy New Year, Hiei, my love." he said, bringing one hand to rest gently on the base of Hiei's neck to draw the other closer.

"Happy New Year, Kurama, my fox." Hiei whispered back, lowering his head to the other. Their lips met again, not in the frantic, covert type of kiss they had shared before, but in a genuine kiss that communicated all their feelings to each other. After a long moment, they broke away, both breathless. Smiling at each other, they nuzzled close together. No words were needed between them, their lips had said everything that needed to be said without a sound. Finally, they pulled apart.

"Can you walk, Fox?" Hiei asked gently.

"Yes, I believe I can." Kurama answered, but made no move to stand.

"What's wrong, Fox?" Hiei asked, concerned.

"I like it here." Kurama said simply.

With a smile, Hiei stood, and pulled the kitsune to his feet. "I think it would be even more comfortable in your home." 'Perhaps in your bed.' he finished silently in his mind. The thought did not escape Kurama, however. The kitsune winked at his new love, and the two began walking back to the Minamino house, hand in hand.