A/N of Great Length: First off, I apologize for not updating my other YYH fics. The Muse and I have been arguing and right now I am just following where she leads in the hope of not losing her company.
This is another songfic; I try not to write them but they bite with increasing regularity. The lyrics are from Savin' Me by Nickleback. They can be interpretted as the feelings of, if not the exact wording telepathically used by, Hiei. I'm pretty happy with this fic, so I hope you all enjoy!
"It would be ironic for you to go to all this trouble to save your human mother, including risking your own life, and then have it given back to you by the Spirit Detective only to spend it rotting in jail, wouldn't it?" The toddler steepled his fingers, intending to let Kurama squirm for a minute, but Kurama showed no intentions of squirming. He just sat there with a dull look on his face--too dull for someone whose own life, not to mention that of his mother's, had just been spared. "Very ironic indeed." Koenma leaned forward. "However, I do not care for irony."
Kurama met his eyes, which he hadn't been doing, and Koenma detected a spark of gratitude underneath whatever other turbulent emotions were stirring. The fox was positively curled into the chair before Koenma, and Koenma felt the urge to put him more at ease. He had thought Yusuke had been crazy when he'd talked about instantly trusting and liking the demon who had stolen the Forlorn Hope, but now he understood. There was no malice in Kurama. "So I'm going to release you on good behavior. You can go back to her. Just don't break any more laws, and I don't see any good reason why I should ever have to interfere in your life again, Kurama."
Kurama nodded, looking down again. "You can go now."
Kurama rose to leave, but he stopped halfway out of the office, hesitating. He looked like he was listening to something, or maybe hearing again in his head something he had listened to before. "Was there something else?" Koenma inquired.
Kurama turned back to him. "Gouki was killed, wasn't he," he said quietly.
"What about Hiei? You know he wasn't killed, you were there."
"I meant what are you doing with him."
"Keeping him here, obviously. Indefinitely. He's too dangerous to let go now that we've got him trapped. Besides, from what I understand he was the mastermind behind this, was he not?" Kurama didn't answer, and Koenma nodded. "I see." Noting the somewhat distraught expression on Kurama's face, he tentatively added, "If you're worried he will seek retribution for your betrayal, don't be. We have him securely locked up."
Kurama stood still for a moment longer, still seeming to be listening. Then, he slowly walked back to chair he had been occupying before and sat down, clasping his hands on his knees. "Is there any way," he began softly, "that I can convince you to show Hiei mercy."
Koenma frowned. He couldn't guess, after Kurama's willing betrayal of Hiei to come to Yusuke's defense, why he was asking. "Define mercy."
"I need you to let him go."
gates won't open up for me
With these broken wings I'm falling
And all I see is you--come, please, I'm calling
And all I need from you--hurry, I'm falling/
Koenma's eyes widened, and he nearly dropped his pacifier. "Kurama, are you nuts? Don't you know he's threatened to kill you?"
"I'll take my chances."
"But aren't you safer with him locked up?"
Kurama's lips quirked in half a smile. "Perhaps. But I still must ask you for mercy."
"Give me one good reason why I should be merciful."
"I don't have any good reasons; I'll tell you that from the beginning. But you trusted Yusuke, and he trusted me, and he turned out to be right; now I'm asking you to trust me, that I'm right about Hiei. If you let him go, I seriously doubt that he'll ever try anything like this again."
"That's not good enough."
"What would be good enough?"
"I can't even imagine. To start out with, I'd need his word."
"I doubt he'll give that."
"Then I can't do anything."
Kurama steepled his fingers, looking more pulled together than he had a moment ago. "You do realize," he said, "that Yusuke barely escaped this mission with his life."
Koenma tensed. "Yes."
"Not to mention the life of that human girl, Keiko."
"I'm presuming that the reason you sent him after us was that you didn't have anyone else to send." Koenma turned an icy look on the fox demon in front of him, but his silence was his answer. "And Hiei and I are, what--I believe you refer to us as B class demons?" Koenma nodded, surprised Kurama was aware of the classification system. "And Gouki was less than that, correct, a C or a D class? And even he nearly vanquished Yusuke from what I heard. Hiei could have done it, I believe, if he had been fighting with his head; indeed, had the stroke that wounded me fell where it was intended to, you would not have a Spirit Detective. And you are glad that I chose not to fight." Koenma paled slightly at the calm confidence with which Kurama stated this. "Now I hear you've got him chasing after the human hunter Rando." Koenma paled further--how did Kurama stay so well informed? "You know he doesn't have much chance of surviving this one, either."
"Nevertheless, he's what I have."
Kurama examined his fingernails. "He could use some help."
Silence hung in the air for a moment. "I suppose," Koenma said carefully, "that he could. But what help is there?"
"I would be willing to assist Yusuke in whatever way I can in exchange for your releasing Hiei."
Koenma took a moment to ponder this. "I'm almost suspicious of your motives, Kurama," he said finally. "Is there some plot that Hiei can't set into motion until he's freed? Is--"
"No plot," Kurama cut him off. "Just mercy. And some well deserved help for your Spirit Detective."
Koenma studied him. "Why are you so worried about getting Hiei out of jail?"
Kurama's gaze hardened slightly. "Perhaps because I feel guilty."
city walls ain't got no love for me
I'm on the edge of the eighteenth story
And oh, I scream for you--come please, I'm calling
And all I need from you--hurry, I'm falling/
"Guilt? For Hiei? You do remember him threatening to kill you?"
"Kurama, I really don't understand you. I don't even understand why you were with Hiei and Gouki in the first place, they seem so different from you, and now--"
"I would prefer," Kurama said, "for the line to be drawn between the two of us and Gouki, rather than between me and them."
Annoyance showed in his voice. "Because Gouki was a monster, a mindless demonic machine that thought only of his hunger. We only recruited him because neither of us is at our full strength right now, and brute force can be useful. I'm trapped in this human body, and Hiei--" Kurama paused, as if not sure he should go on. "Hiei's Jagan is a recent acquisition," he finally continued. "He's not fully recovered yet."
"He's foolish enough to wander around like this after just acquiring a Jagan?"
"He doesn't have much choice. He's looking for someone--someone who's probably in danger."
"I'm not at liberty to say. But trust me; in his mind, even this action to carve out an army of human followers was not done for sheer power, it was a means to an end, and I think it is a good end. In his mind, it's all for her."
"Her?" Kurama's eyes turned icy. "Okay, I get it, I won't ask who she is." Koenma sighed, rubbing his forehead. "Kurama, even if any of this made a difference, I can't let Hiei go now. He's been acting like a madman ever since we brought him here; he's burned down three cells. We have him in maximum security now. How can I let him go when he shows that kind of anger?"
"It's not anger, Koenma; it doesn't surprise me that he's acting that way."
"If it's not anger, then what is it?"
"Fear." Kurama rose and looked out the window. "Koenma... Hiei is extremely claustrophobic. To the point that imprisoning him like this is akin to torture."
gates won't open up for me
On these hands and knees I'm crawling
Oh, I reach for you
Well I'm terrified of these four walls
These iron bars can't hold my soul in
And all I need is you--come, please, I'm calling
And oh, I scream for you--hurry, I'm falling/
Now it was Koenma's turn to hesitate. He had strict rules against torturing the living, whether demon or human, and he did not want to stoop to the level of those he sought to protect the world from. But neither did he want to let Hiei go.
"Now you see why I must get him out of prison," Kurama continued.
"No, I don't. What is he to you, that you care?"
"A friend that you betrayed at need."
Kurama smiled a twisted smile. "I am a demon, am I not?"
Koenma studied him for a moment. "Is that all it is? That you're a demon?"
Kurama studied him right back--and a little of his guard came down. "No. Hiei's a friend, a good friend--but I thought he was wrong. So I acted how my conscience told me to act, and now that it's over I'm trying to help my friend again. Is that so hard to understand?"
When Koenma didn't answer, Kurama spoke again, his face taking on a slightly haunted look as he did so. "He's been crying out, telepathically--to anyone, really, but mostly to me because he thinks I'm the only one who will listen. And he's probably right about that. It's not something I want to hear. Hiei's at the end of his rope--I can't guarantee anything because I'm not him, but as close as I can come to that I tell you he's ready to start over if you give him a chance."
"What is he saying to you?"
"Again, I'm not at liberty to say." Kurama's eyes took on a shadow, though his voice remained smooth. "It's not all coherent, anyway. But I can't ignore his cry, even if I am the only one to hear it. I'm offering you my help if you will let him go."
"I'm not leaving Hiei to his own devices. I've seen what happens when he has time on his hands." A plan was forming in Koenma's mind. The help of one B-class demon was good; therefore, the help of two was better. "If I let him go, it will be for the reason you suggested earlier--to help Yusuke. I'll admit, I'd be unhappy to see that kid get squashed."
"I wasn't offering Hiei's services, I was offering my own."
"And I'm telling you it won't work that way. Get Hiei to agree to this and to not break the law while he's at it, and I might let him go."
"Might isn't good enough. Hiei's out of his mind right now, he can't agree to anything. You have to let him go."
"How can I let him go if he hasn't agreed to the terms of the parole?"
Kurama thought for a moment. "I will agree on his behalf," he said finally. "And, as the person who agreed to the arrangement, I will be held responsible if it is broken."
Koenma stared at him. "If I agreed to that, and Hiei was to break the law, both of you would be sent back to prison."
"You would do that for him?"
"He's my friend," Kurama repeated simply.
Koenma looked down at his desk, thinking hard. His father would laugh at him--submitting to an appeal for compassion from a demon, on behalf of another demon who had killed ruthlessly, who was now locked away in a cell tormented by his own phobia. But Koenma knew it wasn't really the compassion angle that he was going for--not compassion for Hiei, at any rate. It was Kurama's offer, Kurama's prize bargaining chip, that he was after. It was compassion for Yusuke that concerned him.
"Very well," Koenma said softly. Then, a little louder. "Very well. If you can get near him without getting burned to a crisp, you can take him. And I'll have a copy of our arrangement delivered to you in writing. You're responsible for both of you keeping to it."
Kurama stood and bowed slightly. "Thank you for your mercy." He swiftly left the room.
me what it's like to be the last one standing
Teach me wrong from right and I'll show you what I can be
And say it for me, say it to me
And I'll leave this live behind me
Say it, if it's worth saving me./
Kurama reached the cell without incident. Several ogres had been incinerated in the process of getting Hiei contained, and now no one was willing to go near him. It took Kurama a minute to unbar the door; but he was Makai's greatest thief, and it took no longer than that. Hiei was slumped in a corner, watching; he was aware of Kurama's presence, but said nothing as he worked his way past the lock. Once the door was open, Kurama entered cautiously. "Hiei."
"Fox." The voice was dull, and the body that housed it shivered.
Kurama knelt next to Hiei, trying not to startle him. "I've come to get you out."
"It doesn't matter now. What matters is that we can walk out that door, now, and no one will stop us. We'll deal with the rest later."
Hiei had exhausted himself trying to escape; he could only look at Kurama. Kurama reached out to lift him to his feet. "Incidentally, the answer is yes."
"To the question that's been plaguing you; the one you shouted out in your mind. To the challenge you gave me. It is worth saving you."
And so saying, he wrapped Hiei's arm around his shoulder, and took his friend out into the free air again.