The reconciliation of opposites
"Marriage will never become unpopular. There is no other state in which an adult can be certain that someone is worrying about him and wishing him well while being annoyed with him at the same time."
It was dinnertime when Hiei returned to Mukuro's fortress, weary and aching and almost ready to call it a day and collapse onto the nearest convenient sleeping surface. He had found himself on the human side of the border that evening – twice – pushed back by a wave of concerted attacks by a band of middle-class youkai looking for easy pickings on the other side; the dragon had decided matters in the end, but it had been close, and all he wanted was to sleep. Then that idiotic message arrived, and he'd had to ride seven hours to get back to Alaric.
'Mukuro,' he began as he barged unceremoniously into the dining room, intending to tell his boss exactly what he thought of this, 'whatever's trying to go through that h–'
What. The. Hell?
'Kurama,' he said numbly. 'What are you doing here?'
'I'm on vacation. I was tying up some loose ends with Yomi's people, taking care of the paperwork and all, and I thought I'd…' he trailed off. 'How are you?'
Several scathing remarks occurred to him. He settled for a neutral 'Fine.'
Mukuro murmured some sort of excuse and edged past them. Hiei barely noticed her go.
The sound of the door shutting, a soft mechanical whine, seemed to punctuate her departure.
'What are you here for?' Hiei asked bluntly.
'I wanted to see you,' Kurama said simply.
'Just because.' The kitsune shrugged gracefully. 'Do I always have to have another reason?'
'Yes,' Hiei said simply, because this was Kurama.
'Well, I don't this time,' Kurama said sharply.
'Ah.' Hiei stared blankly at the wall past the mane of red hair, fluttering in the breeze blowing through the open window. More than ever, it reminded him of blood at this moment. 'So.'
'Hiei? Did you use your dragon today?' A sharp, worried edge to Kurama's voice. So familiar, that edge, familiar from a hundred battles and a hundred times when Hiei had turned up on his window or at his house or by his side. Familiar from hours of healing, gentle conversation. Horribly, achingly familiar.
Such a worrier, he was, even when Hiei was just…
Hair like blood, everywhere, dark across his vision…
He was barely aware of being caught as his eyes closed and he slumped forward.
When he woke from the deep, drugged, dreamless sleep summoning his dragon brought in its wake, he was lying on his back on the deep, rough carpeting of the floor, his head against the wall. Kurama was leaning against the wall, crosslegged, a distant expression on his face. The long scarf Kurama had wrapped around his neck was gone, and from the silky feel of cloth under his head and neck Hiei supposed it was supporting him.
Kurama started visibly. 'Hiei. You're awake.'
'You're letting your guard down. Living in the human world making you soft?'
'I didn't need my hand held on the way here,' Kurama retorted. 'And you fell asleep quite easily in my presence for one who said he'd never ask for my help again.'
'It's not my problem if you're fool enough to keep giving it.' Hiei sat up, ignoring protesting muscles. 'Now, what the devil are you doing here?'
'I already told you that,' Kurama said severely. 'I don't like having to repeat myself.'
'I refuse to believe you've no ulterior motives.'
'Your beliefs aren't under my control. Still, there is such a thing as missing the obvious.' Kurama huffed. 'If you haven't noticed yet, Hiei, you probably won't for the next century or so. It's quite infuriating, this tendency of yours to underestimate the extent to which you matter to those around you.'
Hiei eyed him suspiciously. 'That sounded almost like a declaration of friendship.'
To his surprise, Kurama chuckled and rapped him on the head lightly, as he'd seen Kuwabara do to Yusuke sometimes. 'Definitely hollow,' he said mournfully.
'What the hell are you doing?'
'Checking the consistency, of course,' Kurama said cheerfully. 'I'm the closest thing the Urameshi gang has to a doctor, after all, now that Genkai isn't fighting anymore.'
'You have the most incredible mood swings sometimes,' Hiei noted.
'And I wanted to come back,' Kurama continued undisturbed, as if the two sentences were connected. 'I've grown…quite fond…of the other world, but home is home. I don't quite feel like myself over there.'
'I thought your home was with that woman.'
'If she weren't there, I wouldn't be either. But as it is, I'm afraid I'll have to stay there until that time.'
'So it wasn't permanent, then.'
'Did I ever say it was?' Kurama asked innocently, despite having implied exactly the same thing when they'd parted. 'A man who doesn't age is going to become conspicuous eventually, and illusion spells can only do so much for that. No, I will return.' He breathed deeply. 'The air's more real here, somehow.'
'Real air,' Hiei echoed skeptically.
'Or maybe this is where I'm real.' He tilted his head. 'Do you think so?'
'You're insane in either world.'
'Yukina's fine, too.'
Yukina, Hiei thought with a start. He'd completely forgotten…maybe he was even more tired than he'd thought. 'Hn.'
'Yusuke and I were talking about you the other day. There's something we wanted to show Mukuro; something about you, actually.'
Hiei looked up at Kurama from the corner of his eye. That tone of voice was never good news.
'Unfortunately, Yusuke couldn't make it this weekend, and he told me he'd kill me if I showed it to her without him, so I guess I'll have to come another time.'
'And you're telling me this why?'
'Simply to give you advance notice.' Definitely not good news. 'In case you wanted to leave the country and save yourself some embarrassment.'
Hiei considered everything the statement implied very carefully indeed. 'Like I give a damn what you tell anyone about me,' he sneered, and knew Kurama would read the consent he'd given.
Kurama smiled for the first time, bright and relieved, and Hiei realised that he'd actually mis–
No. No, no, no, he hadn't.
'Well, you can't say I didn't warn you,' Kurama said cheerily.
'So this was a mission of mercy?'
'Something of the sort, if you wish,' he agreed, eyes still bright with happiness; concealed, but Hiei could read him as well as Kurama could retaliate.
'So you did have another motive for coming over here,' Hiei accused.
'You have no faith in my virtue.'
Kurama averted his eyes, and Hiei knew there was something else coming. 'Yukina was asking whether your search had had any results so far,' he said, and looked at him sideways.
'And what did you tell her, exactly?'
'Oh, merely that you would provide better answers than I could. She looked rather upset by that.'
'Yes, okay, fine,' Hiei snapped and scrubbed wearily at his face. He still needed sleep.
'Hiei?' Oh, yes, there were the youko eyes. Innocent, wide, pretty, even as they manipulated you into doing exactly what they wanted.
'I'll go see her,' he snarled. 'Satisfied?'
'What do I have to do with any of that?'
'I might,' Hiei said, 'make the journey expressly to kill you.'
'I'll have to be on my guard then.' Kurama grinned. 'Eight o' clock in the evening in the woods off the park, say? I'll go if I sense you. It's been a while since I sparred with someone interesting.'
'I might have to kill you right now, fox,' Hiei said. The words sounded far less ominous when they were forced out around a gigantic yawn.
'You're too tired,' Kurama retorted. 'I could flick you on the forehead right now and you'd pass out.'
Unfortunately, Hiei thought, he was right.
'When I wake up, then,' he muttered stubbornly.
'Whatever you say, Hiei,' Kurama agreed demurely, which fooled Hiei not at all; an agreeable Kurama, Hiei knew, usually meant that what he was agreeing to was what he'd wanted in the first place.
Damn him for being such a manipulator.
'You can sleep,' Kurama continued. 'I'll be awake.'
As if I need you to watch my back, Hiei wanted to retort, but he was already falling asleep again, so instead of falling back down to the floor, he rested his head on Kurama's shoulder and slumped sideways.
'It's lucky you've got all these people to haul you around,' Kurama murmured, laughter in his voice. 'You really do choose the most inconvenient times to fall asleep.'
Sticking his tongue out would be immature, so he settled for ignoring that with dignity.
A/N: Hiei passes out. A lot, actually. And someone or the other always ends up dragging him limp and unconscious off the battlefield. He's very troublesome that way. Ah, well, the disadvantages of lickable jaganshis. And the quote at the top just seemed so HK, it was the first thing I thought of when I read it. I realise that the gap between posts has been abominably long, and will probably be abominably longer, but I'm not finished with this story yet – I still have things to resolve – and a certain game hasn't wound to its conclusion yet. That said, the HK drabbles I'm writing are getting updated more regularly, so check those out if you're really dying for want of my work (winks). End of insanely wordy a/n.