A/N: Madhumalati and I recently exchanged "bonus" groups of prompts for this couple, as we'd both already blown through the original sets for them; if you haven't already, go read hers too (and marvel at our ability to produce evil prompts...) As ever, please let me know what your favorites are. I think I've gotten wordier than ever with these. :)
#1 (Farce): It was difficult to pigeonhole Hiei and Kurama, whether they were business associates, or friends, or much more than friends, or simply two people who couldn't get rid of each other; occasionally someone would come close enough to realize each of these interpretations was false, a farce deliberately created to confuse others, but no one ever got close enough to find out the truth.
#2 (Infuriating): "You don't find that infuriating?" Kuwabara spluttered, after Hiei had delivered a few of his trademark cutting remarks and disappeared before they could be replied to; "I find it intriguing," Kurama replied, with a smile that was a bit too feral for Kuwabara's comfort.
#3 (Vendor): Hiei's eyebrows shot nearly into his hairline when he witnessed Kurama actually purchasing a trinket from a vendor in a Makai marketplace; he wondered if it was just for variety, as Kurama'd been shamelessly lifting items right and left all day, but later (without being asked) Kurama explained that the item was for Shiori, and so he didn't feel right stealing it.
#4 (Blade): "You should really learn not to jump until you know what you're getting into," Kurama sighed, helping Hiei break in the umpteenth replacement for a shattered katana blade; "But you never jump until you're positive what you're getting into, so we're evenly balanced this way," Hiei replied, without pausing in his practice.
#5 (Zenith): As terrible as the Dark Tournament had been, Kurama sometimes--frequently--found himself looking back on it fondly, because it was the only time Hiei had worked with the rest of them without being offered a bribe in return; the highest point their relationship reached before the inevitable decline and parting.
#6 (Fanciful): Sometimes when there was nothing else to do, an odd mood would strike the fox and he would begin to spin fanciful, drawn-out stories about improbable fates awaiting himself and Hiei as a couple; and though he often glanced at Hiei to see if he was disturbing him, and upped the level of the stories in a concerted effort to do so, Hiei never offered anything but a mild, unperturbed glance in response.
#7 (Arrogance): The worst part about Kurama's arrogance was that whenever Hiei would actually call him on it, Kurama would only smile and fall silent, and Hiei would have to admit that Kurama had, in fact, been correct before the conversation could proceed.
#8 (Deception): Kurama calmly told Hiei that Koenma's deal extended to both of them or neither of them, knowing that even in the wake of Kurama's recent betrayal Hiei's honor would not permit him to jail Kurama out of spite, and he would be forced to take the deal; also knowing that he would never be able to tell Hiei the truth, that Kurama could have walked out of there with or without him, and hating the pattern of deception that was forming between them.
#9 (Layers): "One would almost think you were trying to hide something," Kurama sighed, working his way through the fifth layer of Hiei's clothing to finally reach his wound and reflecting that it was a shame Hiei wasn't conscious to appreciate the irony.
#10 (Insouciance): When Kurama first met Hiei he found the smaller demon's insouciance amusing--Hiei didn't have the power, skill, or connections to even back up his attitude, much less his actions--but over the years the insouciance disappeared to be replaced by an intensely powerful, intensely weary demon whom Kurama could no longer put in his place when necessary, and Kurama mourned the loss.
#11 (Nadir): There were certain things you just knew would come back, like the sun after night or summer after winter; Kurama was old enough to know when something was inescapable, and so Hiei's temporary removal to Mukuro's fortress bothered him not at all, and Hiei's plans to surprise him some years later with his return were disappointed.
#12 (Axis): Everyone, knowing or unknowing, had their own private axis which they were oriented around, a central belief that all other facts must be compliant to, and the destruction of such an axis was inevitably devastating; Hiei's axis had been demolished so many times in childhood that he quickly came to rely on the belief that no one and nothing could really touch him, but even that belief was eventually broken in the hands of a red-haired fox.
#13 (Economy): Kurama viewed their interaction as a series of business transactions, where they bought and sold such commodities as skills, firepower, and trust for limited periods of time, a mutual understanding with a clause of secrecy; it was years before he could admit that neither of them had ever really believed that was what it was.
#14 (Windswept): When Kurama returned from investigating their surroundings, his cheeks bright and hair windswept, a few autumn leaves residing in it, Hiei was deeply troubled by the first word that came into his mind: adorable.
#15 (Scatter) It was important to both of them to appear in control at all times, and in even the most minute aspects of their lives; when they finally began to let their guard down against each other, Kurama's room was quickly transformed from being so pristine you wouldn't believe anyone lived into it to being so deeply coated in scattered clothes, discarded weapons, and other random possessions that you wouldn't have believed less than ten people lived in it, and they both had to laugh at themselves and their initial carefulness.
#16 (Flay): Kurama's whip was quick to flay someone to pieces, but his words were much slower to do so; unless, Hiei discovered, you got close enough that you could truly hurt him, and then his tongue could tear you to shreds faster and more effectively than any whip.
#17 (Video Games): "Think of it as a kind of sparring or training," Kurama suggested, entirely too chipper, as a weary Hiei gave up and took the controller for what felt like the millionth time.
#18 (Unleash): When the false Kuronue made his fatal error and unleashed Kurama's long-restrained wrath, Hiei was lying when he said it was good to see there was something even Kurama would lose his temper over; what he really meant was it's terrifying to see you lose your temper, or it's terrifying to lose your temper over him, or perhaps even would you ever lash out like that for my sake?
#19 (Carnal): Kurama had had centuries in which to learn how to seduce, and never did so without careful thought; Hiei, younger both literally and figuratively, was predictably and completely helpless as Kurama began to lace their every interaction with sensuality--the movement of his hands across his own skin casually carnal, the act of licking sauce from his fingertips sinful, the healing touch no longer an innocent one.
#20 (Innocence): Hiei found it disconcerting and beyond infuriating that Kurama's portrayal of innocence was so good that Hiei often would not realize Kurama had stolen something until the fox outright admitted it, bored with waiting for Hiei to notice.
#21 (Alibi): When Yusuke uneasily mentioned that there had been a string of unexplained arson in the city last night, Kurama lied smoothly and reassured him, commenting that Hiei would regret having missed out on it as he'd been training with Kurama; later, he told Hiei he was sick of lying for him, but Hiei paid him no mind because they both knew that no matter what he said, Kurama would always provide an alibi if Hiei needed one.
#22 (Staircase): "You know, I'm getting tired of staring at your rear end," Hiei commented on the two hundred and eighty-first step of a tightly wound spiral staircase; "Then trade me places," Kurama replied, stepping below him with a wink and an expression that kept Hiei paranoid all the way to the final five hundreth step.
#23 (Follow): Neither of them had ever been able to follow to any degree, lacking both the trust and the docility it required; yet one day, most of the way out of a nest of treacherous enemies, Hiei realized he had been blindly following Kurama's steps for a good twenty minutes, and immediately began to resent the fox for it.
#24 (Inconceivable): In a very short time, Kurama had managed to completely bypass every defense mechanism Hiei had and make the thought that Kurama would ever leave or betray him virtually inconceivable, which of course rendered it a hundred times more effective when Kurama did just that; later, when Hiei understood how calculated and thought out Kurama's every action was, he bluntly asked how Kurama had done it, but the fox--while denying nothing--declined to answer.
#25 (Trust): Trust in battle was one thing, because the absence of it was deadlier than it's presence, but trust outside battle was another thing entirely; and though they were friends it was years before they slept more than lightly in each other's presence, years before they gave up secrets for no reason but that they wanted to, years before their mutual attraction overwhelmed their mutual mistrust and lead to something more.
#26 (Deduce): Hiei knew that Kurama was frequently appealed to by the other members of their fighting team to explain Hiei's behavior, and it bothered him on two counts: one, because Kurama was as likely as not to get the wrong answer (or give the wrong answer on purpose), and two, because Hiei was even more skilled at deducing Kurama's motives than vice versa, but the fox still got all the credit.
#27 (Betray): The sting of betrayal, when Kurama defected and aided Yusuke, was sharp but nothing new; the confusion of restitution, later, was entirely new and something that Hiei considered final proof of Kurama's eccentricity... but nevertheless, he knew no more betrayals would pass between them.
#28 (Pet): "I swear by all the gods," Kurama growled, "if you do not stop petting me like that I will--" But the fascination of the new and furry ears was too great, and Hiei knew when to pay attention to Kurama's umbrage and when not to, and soon the fox had stopped threatening and started melting.
#29 (Anger): Because it was rare for Kurama to lose his temper, most people thought it was also rare for him to be angry; Hiei, whose plans had suffered from the machinations of a quietly furious fox, knew better, and kept a weather eye out for the silence and darkened eyes that meant trouble.
#30 (Reality): Hiei was familiar with the sensation of simultaneously hating someone and appreciating their abilities; he had never felt it so strongly as when he stood in his jail cell and watched Kurama lean against the opposite wall, ostentatiously free and calculatedly confident, saying, "Whatever may be true of the past, Hiei, the reality of the present is that you need me."
#31 (Seeking): It took Hiei a long time to realize that though he thought of himself as constantly searching, he had in reality found what he sought when he met Kurama; and it took Kurama a similarly long time to realize that, though he thought of himself as content to remain with Shiori, when Hiei appeared he had begun to seek for something more.
#32 (Analyze): It was Kurama's habit to analyze anything he came across, so it was no surprise when he was able to come up with a working understanding of Hiei's personality within a very short time; what was astounding was later, when Hiei calmly returned that understanding, pegging Kurama's guilt and anger and battlelust for what they were with an ease that left the fox, used to being considered inscrutable, desperately intrigued.
#33 (Equivalence): The reason Kurama got along with Hiei so well was that it hadn't taken him long to learn to translate: That was stupid was the equivalent of I was scared for you, I hate that meant I don't understand that, and You look like a girl was a simple You're beautiful.
#34 (Arbitrary): Kurama's decisions were never arbitrary, no matter what lesser minds might think of them; the decision to give or withhold mercy was always calculated, the choice to trust or distrust supportable, the offering or refusing of friendship earned--and though Hiei often disagreed with Kurama's decisions, when he realized how much went into them he felt the honor of being the recipient of mercy, trust, and friendship all the more keenly.
#35 (Oranges): "Show off," Kurama muttered, just exactly loud enough for Hiei to hear him; "I'm bored," Hiei replied with a shrug, tossing another orange into the air and, using his katana, divesting it of its peel without piercing the fruit.
#36 (Deliberate): Over the years Hiei had begun to suspect Kurama of manipulating situations to keep Hiei in the human world, but he had never expected so blatant or deliberate a move as to be taken from Makai to Ningenkai while he slept; and no amount of explanation afterwards, no matter how rational, could erase the mistrust and resentment it caused.
#37 (Artistic): "I don't like your use of color," Hiei commented, eyeing the latest battle scene; "Next time I'll do it in black and red roses, just for you," Kurama replied, having to privately admit that the poppies had really been a rather poor choice.
#38 (Professional): "It's a matter of professionalism," Kurama replied when asked how he and Hiei had wound up on the same team and the same bail a short period of time after attempting to destroy each other.
#39 (Inept): For all his centuries of skill, there were some areas Hiei considered Hiei completely inept in; one of them was ending relationships, because all of Kurama's past partners came back to haunt him, and so Hiei resolved that if it ever became necessary to end their relationship, he would do Kurama the final favor of ending it quickly, firmly, and as thoroughly as possible.
#40 (Spartan): "You know, you are allowed to decorate now that you live here," Kurama commented dryly, looking around Hiei's spartan quarters in Alaric; Hiei only shrugged, and Kurama realized--largely inspired by the fact that Hiei had long ago successfully gotten Kurama to change some things in his own room just to make Hiei more comfortable there--that Hiei didn't plan on making a permanent abode here.
#41 (Teeth): Most demons considered lightning-fast adaptability and fluidity essential to survival, and prized them highly--Hiei, too, understood their necessity, but from birth his nature had been to sink his teeth into something hard and never let go, never surrender the goal; during their separation, Kurama found this trait quite bothersome, but later was grateful that Hiei had not allowed their relationship to be broken.
#42 (Shopping): "What on earth makes you think I would have the slightest interest in going shopping with you?" Hiei asked disparagingly; "Because for me, shopping involves staking out the site beforehand and exiting rapidly while occasionally forgetting to pay for the purchase," Kurama replied with a straight face, and Hiei was suddenly much more interested.
#43 (Tail): Kurama's teasing of Hiei was subtle, gleeful, and constant; Hiei's retaliation was less frequent but also rather more pointed, and Kurama would have rather died than admit part of his reluctance to take his Youko form had to do with Hiei's penchant for pulling his tail.
#44 (Choice): "I had a choice to say to hell with you years ago, you know," Hiei grumbled half-heartedly as he helped Kurama plot his latest scheme; but Kurama, who was considerably better than Hiei realized at reading facing, only smiled and thought no, you never did.
#45 (Golden): To most humans, the phrase that something was "golden" meant it was untouchable, unbeatable, prefect; to Kurama, gold was only something of mediocre value that could be stolen with relative ease, so he attached no such labels to the relationship he found himself participating in with Hiei, for it was far more valuable and not something Kurama would allow to be stolen.
#46 (Scarf): Kurama surprised even himself the day he reached out and grabbed Hiei's scarf hard to keep the other demon from leaving; but the ensuing indignity of Hiei's expression and minor coughing fit quickly had all three of his teammates laughing, and Hiei, finding himself outnumbered, was forced to shelve revenge for another day.
#47(Outfoxed): Kurama had a tendency to be near-sighted when it came to his widely acclaimed brilliance; he could predict the movements of the entire political structure of Makai, and was rarely surprised by an opponent in or out of the ring, yet a certain fire demon could flit in and out of his awareness and surprise him with what they both, privately, considered troubling ease.
#48 (Bitter): Occasionally Kurama would complain that one of his plant attacks had left a bitter taste or smell behind it, and start searching for a chance to wash his hair; Hiei started to catalog which plants had this effect, but quickly saw there was absolutely no consistency to it, no pattern except for this--it was only when Kurama felt shame or guilt during the fight that his plants tasted bitter.
#49 (Together): Literally worlds apart, they studied the same political intrigues, kept watch over the same individuals, felt the same longings, woke from the same nightmares, looked at the same sky with the awareness that the other was also looking; and most people would have called it a separation, but they knew better.
#50 (Cling): They both existed within shifting realities--where a race once despised could become one's own, where friendship once shunned could suddenly become essential, where a sister once believed cold could show warmth and a mother once disdained could teach gentleness--and as their worlds continued to rearrange themselves, year after year, it began to matter more and more that there was one person whose presence and support was constant, and it began to matter less and less if it became obvious to others that they were clinging to each other.