So... I'm back? Heh? I'll bore you with the Author's Notes later. Onwards!

Silent Portrait: Chapter 34

Yusuke scanned his surroundings, suppressing the urge to sigh. Botan and Keiko were waiting for him outside, glancing around nervously. The gunmen had left, but the terror obviously hadn't. They did their best to calm the staff down, sent them home with strict orders directly from Hiei that they were not to tell anyone what happened unless they wanted to get their boss in trouble.

He stared at the empty safe with its door ajar, wondering how he had never known that there was a safe housing what appeared to be the bulk of Hiei's fortune.

And it would be all gone, while his boss would get to keep the company.

Yusuke knew he should be thankful that Hiei chose to give up the gems, since he'd still have a job after this, but for some reason, he really didn't think that Hiei enjoyed owning a company, anyway.

"Yusuke, are you done? Let's go already, we should check up on the rest and wait for Hiei to call us," said Keiko, glancing at her mobile phone anxiously.

The potted plant does well to mask the bloodstain, he thought absently as he locked the door, but I can still see it.

His mobile phone buzzed lightly in his coat pocket. Rather gruffly, he tossed it to Keiko as he locked the car door and started the engine. He scanned his surroundings again, his gaze sharp and alert.

"Who's it from?"

"It's from Hiei. Says to come pick Yukina and Kurama from the airport," Keiko read aloud, and her face brightened visibly, turning around to grin at Botan.

"Kurama's back!"

"That's great news! But how? And I thought Yukina was in Tokyo? What's going on?"

"I guess we'll find out soon enough," said Yusuke enthusiastically, his mood considerably lighter as he began driving towards Narita Airport.

Kurama had insisted on coming with him.

Kurama was an idiot.

"I'll come back to you," Hiei said to Yukina, squeezing her shoulder. He nodded to Kurama, fighting the urge to tell the red-head the same thing.

"Watch out for her," he ended up saying, ignoring the scowl on Kurama's face that clearly meant, you stupid idiot, you shouldn't be going alone.

"Don't worry Kurama-san," said Yukina, grasping his arm. "Shigure will not harm him."

How do you know? How can any of you know?

"It's not in his best interest to do so," Hiei answered, hailing a taxi. Without elaborating further, he added, "Yusuke will pick you up. Watch for his car, and wait for me."

He closed the door, watching his sister and Kurama stare after him as the taxi drove away.

Time to end this.

" - so, wait, you actually left Kuwabara's place early so you could go find Kurama and your brother had exactly the same idea?"

"Twins," Botan said triumphantly, as though she had always known that the siblings were magically connected through twin powers of awesomeness.


"And then, the phone call came from the office -"

"It was so scary! I've never seen that much blood in my life, and apparently that wasn't even a lot -"

"They wanted to phone the police, luckily for Botan -"

Kurama drowned all conversation out, and turned his worried thoughts to Hiei. He still wasn't entirely certain Hiei could come out of this unscathed, considering how little he knew about Shigure and the image that he'd already formed in his mind about their little deal. Aside from that, there was their little matter to decide... Where do they go from here? Hiei had essentially admitted his feelings, in the most Hiei-like way possible. Yukina seemed to already have guessed. What about the rest of their friends?

Rather ruefully, he shook his head and reminded himself that Hiei was not like to care if one of his "friends" decided that he or she didn't want to be around homosexuals.

It was thrilling, he supposed, the idea that he would be moving back into the apartment, living with them and having a place to belong. He took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly, counting to ten; releasing all the negative emotions he'd held in since he left Tokyo.

One step at a time, towards the future, he thought, smiling at the girls as they decided to pepper him with questions he couldn't answer, but feelings he could certainly share.

Later on, while waiting in Hiei's apartment, they entertained themselves with Oki, more conversation and discussion, while doing their best to ignore the impulse to glance at the door, their mobile phones, and the clock on the wall that slowly ticked towards midnight.

As the night went on, Yukina prepared her home for her guests to stay overnight, as neither of them particularly wanted to go anywhere at that hour. Botan would share a room with Yukina, whereas Yusuke and Keiko would take Kurama's old bedroom for the time being. Kurama insisted on staying up in the living room, and appeased Yukina by letting her know that he would wake her if he was tired.

Closing his eyes, he replayed the events of the day.

The village houses looked old but sturdy. Hiei led the way to a simple house with a small farm beside it, where an old lady was bent over, her back facing them, plucking the vegetables from the fields and putting them into her basket. Hiei did not acknowledge the presence of this lady and neither did she look up to greet them. They walked past her and into the house.

Hiei strode into a sparse bedroom, looking for all the world as though he ought to be there. Kurama and Yukina looked at each other uncertainly, wondering whose house they were intruding upon and how rude it was! They watched curiously as Hiei opened a bedside drawer filled with sewing needles and thread, and a few bottles of what appeared to be beads in them.

"I used to live in one of the bigger cities nearby," Hiei said, taking the bottles and after examining it, held it out to Yukina. The beads tinkled innocently in the bottle as Yukina peered at it closely.

"I ran away, of course. I couldn't stand it."


"Yeah. It wasn't too far away. I stopped here only briefly, but... the woman... she opened her doors to a hungry and thirsty boy, and cared for him until he vanished the next morning."

Hiei held out his hand to Yukina, prompting her to drop the bottle into his hands. He pocketed it and turned to Kurama.

"She's deaf."


Hiei nodded.

"After I met Shigure, and the whole thing with the gems happened... I came back here. She's kept it safe for me ever since... in plain sight."

"In plain sight - you mean those beads in the bottle are the - ?"

"Yes. I was counting on the rather risky assumption that even if thieves broke into her house, they would not have any interest in a bunch of beads in a bottle. Perception has something to do with it... these beads look ordinary in a tiny bottle, but laid out in expensive silk, they look valuable. They're perfectly spherical... extremely rare. Most other gems' natural forms are not like that."

They left the house, and this time the lady caught sight of them. Her face lit up into a huge smile when she saw Hiei.

"Obasan," Hiei said softly and slowly, grasping her shoulder to make sure she was looking at him directly. "I won't come back anymore. Take care of yourself."

"Take care, okay? You're so grown up now!"

And for the first time, Kurama saw Hiei's true smile.

The door suddenly clicked open, startling Kurama. He stood up abruptly, realizing that if it were anyone other than Hiei he really couldn't alert the whole house. He kicked himself mentally for his stupidity and selfishness.

The door swung open, and in walked Hiei, looking tired.

"Is Yukina asleep?" said Hiei, his voice hoarse. He reached down to pull off his shoes, completely missing Kurama's affirming nod. He noticed the extra pairs of shoes. "Who else is here? Yusuke?"

"Well?" Hiei turned to him, expecting an answer. Kurama stared back at him with an annoyed expression on his face.

"...Forgot, sorry."

He tossed his briefcase aside and sat down heavily opposite Kurama, who was watching him closely. Feeling jittery and tense, Hiei exhaled deeply in an effort to relax his body. He avoided Kurama's gaze and let his head fall back against the couch.

"It's done, Kurama," he spoke to the ceiling, absently watching the shadows of cars passing by.

"I gave Shigure all of the gems and told him to fuck off."

"There will probably be an investigation into my company, depending on whether or not they catch him first. I don't think they'll get to him so soon, but I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Shigure would turn me over in an instant if it meant a lesser sentence for him -"

He stopped abruptly, feeling Kurama's weight on the couch beside him. His breath caught in his throat as he straightened and turned towards the redhead.

"But -" Hiei said slowly, "I think we'll be okay."

He took Kurama's hand and clasped it tightly.

"I think we'll be okay," he repeated to himself - but that statement was not regarding the state of his company. He looked up, searching Kurama's face for a sign; a hint that maybe he wasn't so sure; wanted more time maybe to think things through; perhaps even a change of mind -

Kurama nodded firmly, and leaned in.

A/N: Yes, that was a kiss. More deeeets to come.

I'm sorry it's been 3 years, everyone! This isn't the last chapter, unfortunately, because I love kiss-hangers.

As you can tell, the reason why this did not get written for a very long time was because I was stuck at the Shigure-Hiei negotiation scene forever. It was only recently that I realized that I could just not write the scene, and instead write out the consequences, which is what people want anyway. Kind of fail cop-out, I know, but hey, I'm not the greatest writer out there in the world, sorry if you're expecting that!

Thank you to all of you who have stuck around this long, and sorry to have disappointed those of you who no longer follow the story...

And to those of you who have yet to check it out, I do have a one-shot sequel to this story where Hiei and Kurama are already together. It's in my profile, titled Silent Portrait: The Artist's Hands.

Thanks again!