DISCLAIMER: I do not own anything in this story except for the plot.

Characters: Hiei and Kurama, with appearances by various other Reikai Tentei members and Yu Yu cast

Setting: Any time after the Dark Tournament

Warnings: Self-harm, dark thoughts

Chapter 1

This world,

This world is cold.

But you don't,

You don't have to go.

You're feeling sad,

You're feeling lonely,

And no one seems to care.

You're mother's gone and your father hits you.

This pain you cannot bear.

Hiei watched with interest as the blood dripped down his arm, falling onto the snow beneath him. He had never tried this before, and it felt…strange. Painful, but not, like he was doing it to someone else. He drew his sword across his arm again, higher this time, and a second river of blood joined the first, accompanied by the flicker of pain that was Hiei's goal.

As he waited for the blood to slow so that he could make his third cut, he looked around him. He was in the Ningenkai, in the park. It was either very late at night or quite early in the morning. Either way, the park was dark and deserted, except for him.

Looking down again, Hiei saw that the blood from the second cut was stopping, and so he cut a third, about an inch above the first. As he watched the blood flow, his mind drifted back through all of the battles his body had survived, how many rivers exactly like this one he had seen sliding down his body, most of them of his own blood. But this was unlike any fight he'd ever been involved in. This was open war…on himself.

But we all bleed

The same way as you do,

And we all have the same things to go through.

Hold on

If you feel like letting go.

Hold on.

It gets better than you know.

It was as the last cut was drying on his arm that Hiei noticed how light the sky was getting. He had better get going; he knew of at least one person who got up this early every morning, and usually took a walk in this very park before breakfast. And that person just happened to be the last one Hiei wanted to see him like this. Even the Oaf would have been better.

Hiei gathered up his sword, cloak, and sheath, using his cut arm as much as possible, and flitted off over the snow, leaving such shallow prints that they were filled by the falling snowflakes a couple of seconds after each step, heading for the only tree nearby that was tall enough for him to see the whole park without being seen, where he always waited at this time of the morning.

He found it easily, as he always used the same tree, but the real difficulty this morning lay in climbing the thing. Usually, he simply leapt from one branch to the other all the way to the top, but today, he was having a bit of a problem that involved his arms and legs suddenly turning to lead at odd moments. He wasn't worried—he knew from experience that he hadn't cut too deep—but it was annoying.

Finally, he reached his spot, and settled himself on the branch he always sat on. Absently, he folded his cloak into a rectangle, and wrapped it around his arm—he'd clean it later to get rid of the scent of blood—his mind faraway as he looked around the park.

At last, he saw a figure walking slowly into view, his nose, as usual, buried in a book. Hiei smiled fondly as Kurama walked over to the park bench he himself had just vacated, never looking up…well, not at first.

But then the kitsune stiffened and closed his book, laying it aside. He stood up, and did something rather odd—he began to walk slowly in a circle, staring at the ground.

Hiei, realizing what he was doing, muttered, "Damn…" But there was nothing he could do about it, not now.

Kurama seemed at last to find what he had been looking for, and he stopped and knelt, sifting his hand through the snow, which was still red under the fresh powdering. The snow had covered the small puddle of Hiei's blood, but it hadn't had time to mix yet, and Kurama's sensitive sense of smell would, of course, have picked the scent up.

Kurama stood, and looked around him. "Hiei?" he called tensely. "Hiei, are you here? If you are, please, come out. Hiei?"

Hiei made himself as small as possible and didn't move, praying Kurama wouldn't see him through the bare branches and trying to ignore the flicker of internal pain at the worry in Kurama's voice. Kurama kept calling to him, but eventually, when Hiei never answered, the kitsune got his book and headed back to his house, looking preoccupied, worried, and extremely, horribly sad.

Your days,

You say they're way too long,

And your nights,

You can't sleep at all.

Hold on.

And you're not sure what you're looking for,

But you don't want to no more.

And you're not sure what you're waiting for,

But you don't want to no more.

Kurama barely managed to contain his relief when he saw Hiei the next morning as the group headed to the Reikai to meet with Koenma, even though the Jaganshi looked terrible. He had been so worried all night, fearing that his teammate had been hurt, or, far, far, worse, killed. He had spent half the night listening to the voice of logic in his head telling him that he would have caught the attacker's scent along with Hiei's if the fire demon had been attacked, and the other half telling that first voice to shut up and let him panic.

Now, though, his fear died, though his concern only deepened. Hiei obviously hadn't eaten or slept in days…weeks…probably not since the accident.

Well did he remember that night. He knew it was burned in his memory forever. Over and over, he saw the two bodies, lying side by side, both of them looking peaceful enough to be asleep, if not for the gaping, bloody wounds in each of their chests.

And it must have been so much worse for Hiei. The Jaganshi had not spoken—unless someone else asked him a direct question—since then. Nor had he eaten or slept, obviously. Kurama was just glad that they hadn't had any missions. How could Hiei hold his own in combat in this state?

With immense difficulty, Kurama turned his thoughts away from Hiei and forced himself to wonder idly why Koenma had summoned them. He really hoped that if it was a mission, Hiei would be forced by Koenma to sit it out…something he had never, ever even thought of as a possibility before.

But we all bleed

The same way as you do,

And we all have the same things to go through.

Hold on

If you feel like letting go.

Hold on,

It gets better than you know.

Koenma was in his usual bad temper when Yusuke, Kuwabara, Kurama and Hiei entered his office, all looking unusually grave. They took up chairs, except for Hiei, who went to stand against the wall.

Koenma stamped the last paper in one stack and, sighing, dragged over another one before closing his inkpad and setting it and the stamp aside, and looking up. "Well, I'll make this as quick as possible. You have a mission, which you no doubt figured out on your way here. This one shouldn't be difficult—it's just a low-class demon that escaped from one of the lesser-security Reikai prisons, and went to Makai. He shouldn't be that hard to track down, which is what you're obviously going to do—get him and bring him back here, alive if possible. However, since this is such a simple task, I will only be sending Hiei this time."

Kurama tried hard to keep his reaction from showing, but he felt all of the blood drain from his face at these words, and knew he was as white as a ghost. Yusuke and Kuwabara had a bit of trouble, though. Kuwabara gaped openly, and Yusuke said quickly, "Wouldn't it be faster for me to go?"

Koenma shuffled the papers on his desk, looking nervous. "Yes, well…Hiei is the only one who…doesn't have…erm…school."

"Since when have you cared about that?" Yusuke snapped. "Look, toddler, I…"

"The subject is closed, Yusuke," Koenma said firmly. "Hiei, you can leave for Makai today. I'll expect you back in no less than two days. Now, goodbye."

Hiei got up and left without a word, and Yusuke and Kuwabara followed, both looked angry and worried. Kurama, though, hung back, and as soon as everyone was gone, he turned on Koenma. "What the hell do you think you're playing at? He can't possibly go and fight in that state!" he snarled, slamming his hands on the desk and scattering papers everywhere.

Koenma pulled his stamp toward him, picked up the first paper in the enormous stack, read the top line, stamped "DENIED" on it, and picked up the next paper. "That's just it, we don't know that. We can't know until we let him fight alone! He's a valuable member of this team, my dad would kill me if I let him go, and I need to make sure that I haven't lost him as a detective, Kurama. The only way to do that is to send him away alone! Don't worry, there isn't even any demon to chase; I made that up! He'll just spend a couple of days there, fighting low class demons and then come home completely unscathed. So calm down!"

"But…I…you bastard!" Kurama said, shouting now. "You're gonna send him out there, in that emotional and physical condition, alone, just to make sure you're off the hook with your father? I knew you were a cold little man, Koenma, but this is low even for you!"

"I don't need to justify myself to you, Kurama. Trust me, this is for the best. Now go, you'll be late for school," Koenma said coolly.

Kurama debated whether or not to keep arguing, but he doubted even he could win over the fear and coldness that the Reikai King had instilled in his son. So, he stood up straight, and gave Koenma a glare that would have rivaled one of Hiei's own. "If anything happens to him, Koenma, you will regret ever meeting me, no matter what form I have taken."

And as he stalked out of the office, Koenma would have been willing to swear that there was a golden glint in his eyes.

Don't stop looking,

You're one step closer.

Don't stop searching,

It's not over.

Hold on.

Hiei walked slowly across eternally flat land, sword drawn but hanging limply at his side, head down and steps dragging. Two more cuts brought forth fresh blood, each twice as long as the others, but he still had not achieved his goal—to get the pain in his body to match the pain in his heart, which he hoped would make the inner pain…less, somehow.

A month ago, he would have laughed at himself for even thinking those last soft words, but now it was simply the truth. He just wanted it to go away…

But then why couldn't he just do it? Why could he not make himself cut the vein in his wrist rather than just skin? One smooth slash and it would all be over.

The fact was, though, that every time he tried it, a face swam into view, a face with bright green eyes, framed by red hair, accompanied by that gentle smile, and then he simply lost the will to take his own life. It wasn't a good feeling…it just made him feel temporarily empty rather than sad. But it had kept him alive.

Not that it mattered, of course. He found it hard to believe, now, that he had ever considered life worth living. No one had ever given him a reason to think so, except…


Hiei forced the thought from his mind and kept dragging himself forward. The sooner he got this done, the sooner he could go back…

This was another new thing about him. Every time he was in Makai now, he found himself thinking longingly of the Ningenkai, even the snow-covered parts of it.

He was human-whipped, no getting around it.

Now, why did that thought make him feel slightly less sad?

What are you looking for?

What are you waiting for?

Do you know what you're doing to me?

Go ahead.

What are you waiting for?

It was on the second day that Hiei ran into another demon for the first time since entering Makai, and this demon could have easily won the award for worst timing possible.

Hiei had been resting against a tree, making a couple of new slashes in his arm—he had seven now—and wondering where to look next, when a low voice said, "Now, this is an interesting sight." Hiei jumped, for once startled, and bit back a yelp as his blade slid off course and made a curving line down his arm, crossing two other cuts.

Now, normally, he would have reacted immediately, and killed the demon with one slice of his sword, but he was moving a bit slower these days, and before he could move, a club caught him in the ribs, and he fell. He rolled as the demon came for another attack and went to raise his sword, but something odd was happening…he did manage to wrap his fingers around the hilt, but his grip was strangely weak, and his fingers weren't obeying his brain.

Oh, Kami-sama…Hiei thought, as his hand slackened of its own accord and his sword fell to the ground. I've cut too deep…

Hold on

If you feel like letting go.

Hold on,

It gets better than you know.

Don't stop looking.

You're one step closer.

Don't stop searching.

It's not over.

Hold on.

Author's Note: Well, what did you think? Horrible? I'm not too great at the angsty-mega-depressed type stories—I mostly do fluff—but maybe it wasn't so bad for a first try…REVIEW, PLEASE! Anyone to guess what two things Hiei is unhappy about gets a virtual plushie!