Yusuke was awakened from his first peacefully dream-free sleep in weeks by the sound of a clamor outside. Even with the sharp spike of familiar power that accompanied the racket, Yusuke was still debating whether to wake up or roll over and continue his blissful slumber. The choice was taken away from him when the tent flap was torn open and the clamor outside invaded his sleeping place.
Too-bright moonlight spilled briefly into the tent, but Yusuke didn't have time to think about the fact it was still night. Hiei had Kurama by the wrist, and the expression on his face was murderous as he dragged the fox into the tent.
"You! Detective!" he snarled. "Get the hell up!"
"What the hell, man?" if he hadn't already been in the process of sitting up, Yusuke would never have followed the angrily barked order. He cast a questioning look to Kurama, but the fox quickly traded his own expression of confusion for a meaningless, harmless smile.
"I'm afraid he simply took one look at me and flew into a rage," he confessed. "I haven't the slightest idea why."
Except Yusuke could guess on his own, just by the expression on Hiei's face – an expression which only darkened under his gaze.
"You. Fucking. Told. Him." Hiei's voice was quiet. Seething with rage, but quiet nonetheless.
"Um…what did I tell him?"
A low growl was the only answer.
If his time housing Hiei's soul had taught him anything, however, it had shown him how terrifyingly well the small demon knew Kurama. Part of it, Yusuke knew, was due to the jagan – but part of it was also the fact that he simply understood the fox. It wasn't just because they had been so very close once – he just somehow, instinctually, understood.
It was intimidating as hell, really, but Yusuke couldn't argue that it was true. As slippery and manipulative as Kurama was, he couldn't fool Hiei. After all, it had only taken one glance the small demon to know it hadn't been Shuichi who had been brought back from the dead. Yusuke had the sinking suspicion that that fatal 'one glance' had been all Hiei had needed to know Kurama knew he still loved him, too.
"Let's not be silly," Kurama began.
"I didn't tell him the important stuff," Yusuke interrupted.
"The…important…?" for a moment the anger on Hiei's face was replaced by a lost expression. The fury returned all too quickly. "He knows how I…that I…how the fuck is that not the important stuff?"
"Cause I didn't tell him how I knew!"
"You…?" Hiei sputtered a moment, face turning an interesting shade of purple. "You would tell him intimate details about my personal feelings, and yet neglect to tell him how you know?"
"That seemed the most important, so…"
"It wasn't yours to tell!"
Embarassed, Yusuke realized as silence fell. Hiei was embarrassed. He knew it irked him that he couldn't let go of his feelings for Kurama, but Yusuke hadn't considered how telling the fox would make Hiei feel. Yusuke hadn't really considered anything aside from his own burden.
Several moments passed without a word between the three of them: Yusuke, stunned by the realization of the mistake he had made; Kurama, analytically processing every last detail of the confrontation; and Hiei, scowling as he worked to reel in his temper.
"Perhaps," Kurama said at last, speaking slowly, "Now would be the time to finish telling me the details of your…trip."
Hiei barked out a short, harsh laugh. "Only a fool like the detective could forget to tell you…"
"I didn't forget!" Yusuke interrupted.
"You don't say."
"I just…" Yusuke fidgeted like a child caught passing embarrassing notes in class as he searched for an explanation more manly than I was afraid to tell him.
"You 'just'?" Hiei arched a sark brow. "You were 'just' too frightened to tell him!" he accused, as if pulling the thought from his mind. Bastard very well probably had.
"No way in hell!" Yusuke lied. "I just…I just thought you should tell him!"
They glared at each other in challenge, Hiei not believing Yusuke's excuse for a moment, Yusuke stubbornly insistent on sticking to his story.
Kurama gave a quiet cough, covering his now-smiling mouth with a hand. "Oh, my…" he said, losing some of his concern in favor of amusement – a standard Kurama reaction. "You two didn't sleep together, did you?" he teased. "You should know better than to fear telling me something like…"
"No, fox. Although the reality is nearly as disgusting."
Kurama still looked amused. "Nearly?" he repeated.
Hiei crossed his arms. "In the end. Yes."
"Whatever could - ?"
"The detective killed me."
Kurama's smile twitched. "Killed?" he repeated. He made an obvious attempt to keep his voice light, but failed. "This is not something I appreciate the two of you joking about."
The two were so busy glaring at each other that they barely noticed.
"I wasn't the one who fired th' damn arrows – Cupid was!" Yusuke shot.
All amusement vanished from Kurama's face – along with most of the color. "Cupid?"
"It wouldn't have gone through my system so quickly had I not been forced to help you kill him," Hiei said acidly. "Your weakness was my undoing."
"Well, I wouldn't have fucking asked you if you'da fucking told me!" Yusuke moved threateningly toward Hiei, but was stopped as Kurama grabbed his arm.
"Stop. You two are leaving too much out," his voice would have sounded calm, had Yusuke not known him too well to be fooled. He was frowning, his eyes large and full of confused concern – giving him the appearance, almost, or a child trying to work through a difficult problem. "You two…you fought Cupid? And Hiei…Hiei was struck by one of his arrows?"
"Hell, it was more than one."
He blinked those large green eyes. "Impossible. How could he have survived?"
"We told you. He didn't."
Hiei crossed his arms, looking away and glaring at nothing. "Your idiotic lover kept my soul from escaping into hell," he spat. "He housed it within his own body until mine could be healed."
Yusuke could feel Kurama's eyes on him – their bright green fire burning into his very soul. Yusuke shrugged uncomfortably.
"I couldn't…you know…let him go. Not that I really cared or anything, but you…"
"I couldn't stand the thought of seeing your face when you found out he was gone."
Silence passed among the three of them for several long moments, broken only when Hiei gave a sudden, harsh laugh. "You only expose your own foolishness, detective. The fox's feelings for me do not run nearly so deep as you assume."
"Like hell they don't! Right, Kur - ?" Yusuke stopped. Kurama didn't need to answer; the expression on his face was confirmation enough. He bowed his head, letting his long hair fall forward to obscure his traitorous countenance. Silence fell once again, and this time it was Yusuke's turn to break it.
"Look, it doesn't have t' get weird or anything!" he reasoned. "It's not like it's a secret or anything!"
"No. Thanks to you there are no secrets," Hiei seethed.
"I've known Kurama's feelings all along," Yusuke said, ignoring the smaller demon's words. "And I was pretty sure about yours, Hiei, even before your soul told me, so…"
"Yusuke…" Kurama's voice was pained.
"What?" it was a struggle for Yusuke to keep his voice light, a struggle to grin, but the stubborn detective managed anyway. "I said it doesn't have'ta be weird! You think I'd be threatened by something like this?"
"Ok, ok, so maybe I was. A little. At first. But I've decided t' believe in you, Kurama, so I'm not gonna doubt your feelings for me no matter how many other guys…" Yusuke had to stop for a moment on that one. "Well, just keep it below twenty," he amended. "Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I'm okay with you two loving each other."
"Yusuke…" Kurama said his name like a sigh. He reached up as if to touch him, then let his hand fall away without ever so much as brushing his fingers against his lover. "Have you not considered the possible ramifications of your decisions?"
"Of saying I'm willing to share a little?"
Kurama brushed the question away impatiently. "I am not even prepared to address that aspect of this foolishness."
"Shit…you mean the soul thing? Look…I know it sounds scary, but it's fine, okay? He's not dead and you're not crying. End of story. Let's all go live happily ever after or something."
"I am afraid it will not and cannot be so simple!" Kurama's face contorted, and he turned away quickly to hide it. When he next spoke, his voice was even quieter. "Death…is a difficult entity to have dealings with."
Yusuke stared at him, not understanding. He had expected his lover to get mad at him over the incident. To rage, to lash out, or perhaps even cry. He'd even imagined a best-case-scenario where the fox actually thanked him.
Somehow, he had never expected to be forced to discuss 'ramifications.'
"You mean, like, Hiei's gonna turn into a zombie or something?" Yusuke asked at last, only half joking.
"Wha…really?" Yusuke glanced at Hiei, who was, predictably, scowling. "I mean…that could be kinda cool, right?"
"Cool?" Hiei snarled.
"Well, I mean, it's hard to imagine you shambling around with a hard-on for brains, but…"
"I am not saying he will become a zombie!" Kurama sighed, turning back to face them once again as Hiei began to growl. Despite the situation, the fox seemed to be fighting a smile. "Really, Yusuke!"
"Really? Okay…I gotta admit you lost me, then. If we're not talkin' about zombies, then what are we talking about?"
Kurama sighed again, looking reluctantly amused. "My point was that we don't know what could happen. I've never heard of someone taking in someone else's soul for purposes other than absorption or consumption."
"Well, I feel fine now. How about you, Hiei?"
He growled and grumbled something very unkind about Yusuke's mother. Kurama shook his head.
"We shall be forced to discuss the matter with Spirit World, I'm afraid." he decided.
"Why the hell would we wanna do a stupid-ass thing like that? Look – no one ever came t' get his soul. No one tried t' stop me from taking it. They can't cry foul when they don't even show up to clean up their own messes!"
"'Mess' am I?"
Kurama waved off Hiei's growl.
"This is for your own safety, Yusuke – and for Hiei's safety as well," he said sternly. "I would rather not be blindsided by unforeseen adverse effects."
"And what if the only 'adverse effect' is that Spirit World gets pissed off and decides t' punish us?"
Kurama blinked at him slowly, as if processing something particularly difficult to grasp. "Yusuke…" he hesitated. "Yusuke, are you…frightened?"
"Hell no!" the detective e managed to make the lie sound indignant.
"No! It's just…well, I didn't drag his sorry carcass all the way here just to let those banoons take his soul back! I'm sick of watching members of this team die!"
Kurama blinked at him again. "We always come back," he reasoned. "So far, in any case."
"Just don't suddenly decide you have a new appreciation for me and start salivating after my ass," Hiei said darkly.
"Please. Don't even pretend I don't know about those disturbingly kinky dreams you've had about me!"
Hiei's lips curled into a snarl and Kurama laughed. Yusuke realized his lover was putting on a show trying to disguise the fact that the situation terrified him every bit as much as it did Yusuke. His reasons for his fear might be different than Yusuke's, but fear was still fear.
Yusuke frowned. "You're gonna go behind my back and tell the toddler no matter how much I tell you not to, aren't you?"
Kurama looked momentarily startled, then his face settled back into its pleasant, even vaguely amused, expression.
"My, but you know me well," he said softly. "When oh when did I allow that to happen?"
"Must be getting soft in your old age."
"You two are disgusting," Hiei snorted.
"I'm not letting you go to Spirit World alone," Yusuke said, ignoring the insult. "They've fucked you over enough times. I don't want you out of my sight."
"I am flattered by your concern, Yusuke," Kurama smiled. "However, as I suspect they will want to examine you as well as Hiei, I was intending for you both to come anyway."
"What if we said no?"
He offered an elegant shrug, smiling. "Do you really think your cooperation would have been a prerequisite?"
"You…would have kidnapped us?"
"Yes. Of course."
Hiei snorted, almost sounding amused. "Enough talk, then," he decided. "Let's get this over with."