Um. Look what I forgot to upload. Sorry about that.
It all belongs to the fabulously wealthy Togashi. I'm just indulging in my personal 80's braincandy.
...an inferiority complex is a feeling that one is inferior to others in some way.
it is often unconscious, and is thought to drive afflicted individuals to overcompensate, resulting either in spectacular achievement or extreme antisocial behaviour...
If he'd known ahead of time what was about to happen, Hiei would have damned the consequences and headed back to the hotel anyway, owing to being completely strung out on adrenaline and the natural high from having one's body consume itself from lack of food. That, and his arm was more or less in shreds. While shredding made an excellent discipline tool, he had better things to do with what might be the last night of his life than beat a dead horse – er, arm.
Not that he would openly admit that such a thing as his demise had ever occurred to him during this process. At all. Ever.
But in the darkest recesses of his mind, tangled up in hellfire and inner eyes, he knew.
He had left Yusuke to gaze tragically over the ocean with Kuwabara to ask the awkward questions that neither Hiei nor Kurama really wanted an answer to. They were aware, and that was enough.
In the hotel, Hiei mechanically flicked the light on and began a one-handed search for bandages. His arm was covered in blood clots and bruises, and the last thing he needed at that point was to have to divert energy to burning out an infection. He needed all he had, and possibly more.
If things went as planned, he could have that and beyond. But that would come with tomorrow.
There was a soft stretching noise from behind him, followed by the lights snapping back off. Hiei eyed the plant that was settling back into its normal form and decided not to get involved in what might become an impromptu light switch rave. "Some reason you want it dark?"
"If the light is on, then I can be seen from down there. I should prefer not to draw the curtains." While Hiei drew closer, Kurama looked at the glass he held, dipped one finger into the red liquid, licked it off, and began running the tip of his finger around the edge of the glass.
"What is that?" Hiei asked, perching on the back of the couch and running his tongue over the back of his injured hand meditatively. The wounds tasted like brimstone and diamonds.
"It's not merlot," Kurama answered, and smiled. The wineglass in his fingers was humming with an odd, prismatic note as he traced the rim. "Demon wine. Slightly more than fermented grapes."
"A drink to twist your aura, made with the blood of murderers," Hiei said. "How fitting that they serve it to us."
"I'm no better than a cannibal," Kurama mused, and drank.
"None of us are," Hiei corrected quietly. "Do you have anything in the way of bandages? I don't need my arm to become infected, not when I'm so close..."
Kurama froze with the glass to his lips for a long moment, then whirled and threw the half-full glass at Hiei without any warning whatsoever. The glass shattered against the far wall, the wine sliming down the paint to pool on the ground.
"What was that for?" Hiei asked, having (rather quickly) moved to stand by the window as well.
Kurama explained evenly, "You." Picking up another glass, filling it, and licking one finger before tracing the rim, he added, "All of you have been changing since this began. You've all gotten better. I've...stagnated, for lack of a better word. I always do the same thing. I have no room for growth anymore, though I need it most out of all of us. You particularly make me want to throw things."
"So I see," Hiei noted.
Kurama tilted his head back and laughed, soft and wild and mocking. "Only you would say something like that."
Hiei reached out and took the wineglass from Kurama, breaking the crystalline note off. "If you insist on doing that, then it needs to be another note." Sipping from the glass, he tasted liquor, blood, and darkly sweet fruit. "What are you going to do about it?" he continued, handing the glass back to Kurama.
"The wine?" Kurama asked, licking one finger and sliding it around the edge of the glass again. At Hiei's expansive eye roll, he smiled and answered himself, "No. That was your problem, and you fixed it."
Hiei waited for a long moment, then repeated, "What are you going to do about it?"
"I don't really know," said Kurama slowly. "I have an idea of what to do tomorrow, of course. I know who, and I know how."
"You chose someone?" Hiei asked, raising one eyebrow. "Unusual for you. You don't fixate on people much."
Kurama's eyes flickered at the word 'fixate', a thing he masked by sipping from the wineglass again. "I wouldn't say that I was the one with the fixation." The note the glass sounded was now slightly higher.
Hiei looked at Kurama for a long moment, then turned his eyes to the window. "I see."
"Maybe you do," said Kurama. "I wouldn't be surprised."
Yusuke and Kuwabara were still standing at the foot of the cliffs. Neither of them were speaking much as far as Hiei could see, but Yusuke still looked incredibly grim. "So tell me," Hiei began, "who is it?"
Kurama stiffened. "If you hadn't been so eager to train and had remained to watch the team we will fight tomorrow, you wouldn't have to ask."
Hiei realized that pushing the point might get another glass thrown at his head. Something had happened, something that might not have happened if he had been present. Hiei had to wonder if it was the act itself or continually running over the what-ifs of the incident that was lending the dangerous edge to Kurama's voice. "While we're on that topic, what happened to the bandages I had for my arm?"
Kurama's languid gesture toward the table in the middle of the room was accompanied by "Kuwabara decided to clean house for some reason. I use the term 'clean' loosely."
"And you let him?" Hiei demanded, holding one end of the bandage against his palm with his thumb and wrapping the other end around the back of his hand to start.
Resuming his use of the wineglass as a musical instrument, Kurama said to the window, "I was otherwise...occupied."
Hiei looked up from his work. "Doing?"
It took Kurama some time to find words. "I was thinking," he finally put out carefully. "I had other things on my mind than housekeeping. He did not, however, get to go anywhere near anything of mine."
Hiei almost smiled into the gloom. "That would have been a sign of deep mental trauma." If he kept carefully working at it, Kurama might well give up and explain. He didn't like it when Kurama got evasive and quiet. Flying glasses tended to be the least of his worries at that point.
Kurama tilted his head forward so that his hair fell over his eyes. "Dammit, Hiei," he breathed, setting the wineglass down with an audible thunk. "What do you want me to tell you?"
Kurama sighed, said merely, "I see," and took another sip of wine.
Hiei waited expectantly for a few moments, then prompted, "Well?"
Kurama twisted to look at him, eyes blank. "I only asked to hear what you wanted to know. I never said that I would answer."
At that, Hiei found himself wishing for a wineglass to throw back at a certain fox demon. "So you're going to stand there, intoxicate yourself, and brood over it all night?"
"Well, when you put it like that, it doesn't sound like any fun." Kurama drained the glass, refilled it, and held it out to Hiei. "Care to join the party?"
Hiei glared at Kurama, then dropped the free end of his bandage and snapped the glass from outstretched fingers. "You are impossible sometimes." He drank of the wine anyway, the faint whisper of alcohol spiking the taste of blood. "You can't go into a fight to the death distracted, especially by your opponent."
Kurama looked like he was thinking about laughing. "I used to use that to my advantage."
Hiei began to wonder if he was ever going to get anywhere. He also began to wonder if Kurama might have the right idea, what with getting drunk. It would take a lot of demon wine to do it, as the alcohol content was so low, but the taste of blood was electrifying enough to his demon senses. "Is that what this is about?"
"No," Kurama replied, nearly before Hiei had finished talking. "No, it's not," he continued after a deep breath. "Why are you so insistent?"
"It's unlike you to be so distracted by such things," Hiei said. "I want to know what sort of thing happened to you that would not have occurred if I had been there."
Kurama's eyes narrowed. "You don't know that."
Hiei continued relentlessly. "Someone found you alone during that time, and whatever they did, you're still reacting to it. So who is it you have claimed? Or, rather, have been claimed by?"
Kurama snatched the wineglass back and took a fast mouthful. "I have not been claimed."
It occurred to Hiei that he hadn't finished wrapping his arm, leading him to bend to that task nonchalantly. "Nothing claims Kurama," he said to the bandages.
Kurama licked one finger and began tracing the edge of the wineglass again, keeping the rage off of his face. "I can't remember anyone ever speaking to me like he did. And I can't remember being so..." His eyes slanted to Hiei, then back to the window. "I left after the Toguro team finished, but I ran into two of the members on my way out."
"The brothers?" Hiei asked.
Kurama shook his head. "The other two. Bui and Karasu." If Hiei caught the slight pause before Karasu's name, he didn't show it. "He liked my hair," Kurama added wonderingly. "But he said it was somewhat damaged. I'm not surprised. I've had other things to do lately."
Hiei prompted, "Which one?"
"The one I'm to fight?" Kurama asked. "I'm getting there. He managed to get behind me when I was distracted. I never should have been distracted! But he was playing with my hair and touching me. He told me he liked me best of all of us, and that he killed the things he liked." Kurama's hands were starting to shake, and the high bright note sounding from the glass wavered and cut off as he put the glass down. "I was waiting for him to kill me! Waiting!"
Hiei paused in the act of tucking away the last few inches of bandage. "You what?"
"No one ever speaks to me like that!" Kurama continued, barely noticing that Hiei was still staring at him in complete shock. "Ever! And I would have let him kill me," he added, dropping into a slightly more normal tone of voice, "rather than let him have me. Because if he can, he'll break me before he kills me. And no one breaks me."
"But you think he might," Hiei finished.
Kurama flipped his hands palm-up and looked at the bone structure, slender and delicate. "I think many things, and I hate every thought."
Hiei slid the last bit of bandage away and went to the window. "Which one is it?"
Kurama looked away, picking up the wineglass and sipping from it. When Hiei reached out and took the glass for himself, Kurama bit his lip before saying, "The one who can make things explode by touching them. Karasu."
The few odd details in Kurama's narrative fell into place for Hiei. "Karasu. Very well, I won't think about challenging him." He took another drink, absently rolled the blood-taste across his tongue, and swallowed. "You do fight long-range. It's probably for the best."
"Probably," Kurama agreed, and cast his eyes to the ground outside. "They're still talking out there. Do you think that Yusuke will tell him? He seemed reluctant to even speak of it, and I'm not one to spoil a good atmosphere."
"It might make things easier on us," Hiei said, "but Yusuke's never been known for that."
Kurama took the wineglass from Hiei and drank. "Humans grieve by being in denial, I think."
"Denial is a dangerous thing, and not only for humans," Hiei warned.
"I'm not in denial that this might be my last night alive, if that's what you mean," Kurama told him. "But you never know. Even if I die, I might not stay that way." Kurama smiled vaguely at the window and continued, "I've found that if one doesn't care what they become in order to kill someone else, things tend to go as planned. Plans fail when the maker can't face their own part in it. If I die, the hell with it. I'm taking him with me at all costs." He looked at his free hand, noting the lack of claws. "If I'd been squeamish about what I became, I wouldn't have a life to stake tomorrow."
Hiei watched Kurama's eyes darken and flicker with a sudden rush of loathing. "And he's worth your life?" he demanded.
Kurama's entire stance subtly shifted at that, his eyes filling with disdain and his lips parting with scorn. "Yes." He lifted the wine to his lips thoughtfully, then raised one hand to his mouth in preamble to his plying notes from the glass.
Hiei sighed and grabbed Kurama's wrist, knocking his hand out of the way. "Not now," he explained impatiently, and roughly brought their lips together in what might have been a bite or what might have been a kiss, hands winding into Kurama's hair and fingers getting pricked on the thorns of a hidden rose. "You have your priorities all wrong," Hiei said quietly, because from that distance he didn't need to be any louder. "You always have your priorities wrong, you selfish bastard."
"But it's my life," Kurama whispered.
Hiei's mouth slid into a smirk. "When have I ever counted ownership as a force to be reckoned with? And when have you, for that matter?"
"Possession is everything," Kurama said darkly, "and that's why I'll do anything to keep from being possessed."
Hiei's smirk took on a wicked edge. "Would you?"
Kurama carelessly tossed the wineglass aside to free his hands as Hiei kissed him again, deep and searching for the soul that was in there somewhere, selfish and twisted and dark and confused. "I suppose it depends," here Kurama was forced to pause, "on who stakes the claim."
"Correct," Hiei said, and smiled properly. It was a fleeting thing, however, as he found other things to do with his mouth, all of which were more worthy to him than a mere expression.
And when Kuwabara had finally coaxed Yusuke to go back into the hotel and get some rest, they found nothing there but darkness, broken glasses, and spilled wine.
In case you're really confused and/or never saw the beginning of the episode where Karasu shows himself as a sketchy stalker, Genkai tells Hiei and Kurama to stick around and watch the Toguro team. Hiei ditches Kurama, who then runs into Karasu and Bui. Hence, Kurama has a lot of pent-up rage. I played with this.