A/N: So, another songfic from me... everyone who's not surprised, raise your hands. :) The title and lyrics are taken from Seether and Amy Lee's song "Broken," which has exactly the mood intended for this piece if you want to listen.

This was originally intended as a companion piece to a longer fic, but I honestly doubt that I'll ever get to it, so I'm posting this as a one-shot. Enjoy.

To Hold You High

Everything was alright now.

The battles were over. The enemies were vanquished, the tournaments were won, and the peace they had fought so hard for had finally arrived. Therefore, everything was alright. It was time to go home, time to return to lovers and to families, ready with open arms. What a relief, to no longer have the weight of the world pressing against your back; what a relief to be normal. It was time to enjoy what until now had only been a fragment of a dream; and if everything wasn't quite alright, well, it would be soon.

Yes, life would improve. The aches and pains of battles gone by surely would vanish in the warmth of the beloveds who had been patiently waiting all these years. So, time to lay down the armor and return home; time to be parted from those comrades whose lives had been bought with your own, who in turn had stood between you and death. Only the memory of their pain and their strength remained. After all, ha d they, too, not earned the right to their separate peace? And there was no need to cling to a warrior's life, no need to cling to each other or to anything they had once been, nothing to hold them back from anything they might now achieve.

After all, everything was alright now.

I wanted you to know
I love the way you laugh
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain away

Shizuru poured through the evidence: notebook after notebook filled with half-finished essays, sparse and listless notes, indifferent equations. And in the margins, filling every square inch, drawings. Sketches of winged demons and spirit masters and tournament rings, and then more detailed drawings of two dark boys, one smaller than the other and each with power crackling in their hands, and a redhead wielding a whip. "Is this what you do at school?"

Her brother was indifferent to her scolding; he knew the speech by heart now, and Shizuru did too, but she went through it anyway. How that life was over now and he couldn't spend forever hunting demons, he had to make a future for himself, and Kazuma stood there and stared out the window, almost as if waiting for a blue-haired ferry girl to swoop down from the sky and invite him onto her oar. "Kazuma, you have to listen to me," Shizuru demanded, nearly stamping her foot in frustration. "I don't like what I see here."

Kazuma turned away from the window, finally, and looked at her; and the expression on his face silenced her. He took the notebook from her and shut it. "Then you shouldn't have looked," he told her, and walked out of the room.

I keep your photograph
and I know it serves me well
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain

The only thing she found in the room was a photograph. A strange thing for him to have in the first place, and, if he was going to have one, a strange thing for him to forget. Photographs were a human invention anyway, and she had never suspected Hiei of having the sentimentality necessary for keeping them.

Yet there it was, discarded on the bed when Mukuro came into her heir's room to see if there was any indication as to why he had moved on again, why he had left without a word, rejecting everything she offered him. She had hoped that he had left her a note or message of some kind, but the wrinkled photograph was the only personal effect in the room. It was easy to tell by looking at it that its subjects had been unsuspecting of the presence of a camera when it was taken; they were not stiff and posed but laughing, cheerful, looking at each other and not the photographer. Even Hiei was smiling and unwary in it.

And after studying the photograph for a few minutes, Mukuro decided that Hiei had left her a message after all.

the worst is over now
and we can breathe again
I wanna hold you high, you steal my pain away

"You're not happy." Shiori said this with absolute authority, and when her son weakly began to protest she cut him off sharply. "Don't try to convince me otherwise. Don't try to tell me you're content, when all you have is me and your school. I know there's something you're missing, Shuichi; I just don't know what. I've never known what it was you did all those times you were gone, but it's missing now, and it's hurting you."

"Mother, I'm--"

"Don't even try. There's no point trying to tell me you're happy when I can hear you crying out in your nightmares nearly every night. It's not me you call out for; it's not anybody I know."

"I can't... I can't talk to you about it."

"Shuichi, I know that. But isn't there someone you can talk to?"

there's so much left to learn
and no one left to fight
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain

The accusation was forceful, not hurled at him like one of her slaps, but gentle, and sorrowful. "You don't love me. Not the way you used to, at least. I don't know if you ever really loved me the way I wanted you to, but you don't now."

Yusuke didn't try to deny it. He looked haggard and worn out to Keiko, and the thought drifted across her head, He's dying like this. He was never like this before. How long has he been dying for? "I do love you, Keiko," Yusuke said softly. "I don't know if it was ever what you wanted it to be either. But I'm tired of trying to make it that, I'm so damn tired." She could see that he was, in his eyes, in their faraway look and the dark shadows under them. "I can't be that thing you want, I never could. I can't do this."

"You've never been able to do it." There was no point in denial anymore. "You've always needed something that I couldn't give you. I don't even know what it is, so I don't know where you could get it."

"I know." Yusuke put his hands on her shoulders. "Keiko, I'm--"

"Don't," she cut him off, not wanting to hear apologies or pity. "It's okay. Just go."

because I'm broken
when I'm open
and I don't feel like
I am strong enough
because I'm broken
when I'm lonesome
and I don't feel right
when you're gone

Yusuke was the last to arrive at the park that the others were milling around at, not really talking or looking at each other but together all the same. Hiei was sitting on a retaining wall, chin in hand, and Kurama was standing nearby, and Kuwabara was ambling around in a circle looking at passersby. "You're late," he commented, when Yusuke turned up.

"How can I be late when we didn't agree to meet here?" Yusuke argued.

"Dunno, but you are."

"What are you all doing here anyway? Is something going on?"

"No, nothing's going on," Kurama assured him. "Not like a mission, or--there's nothing we need to fight for. We just all happened to come here."

"Well, I'd say that's a pretty damn big coincidence."

"No one said it was a coincidence," Hiei corrected him quietly.

Yusuke eyed him for a moment. "You staying this time?"

Hiei raised his eyebrows. "Are you?"

"Let's not argue about who left when," Kurama interjected, as ever the peacekeeper. "We're all here now."

There was a short silence, as the boys scuffed their feet or looked away from each other, no one quite knowing what to say. "Where do we go now?" Kuwabara finally wondered out loud.

The others shrugged. "Mall's open," Yusuke said facetiously.

"Very funny, Urameshi."

"Well, at least I had a suggestion. Where do we go?"

After another silence, longer than the first, Hiei spoke. "I think it might not matter so much where we go as how."

The other three looked at him with varying levels of confusion. Hiei rolled his eyes. "Look."

He jumped off the wall he'd been sitting on and moved away from the group; though he stopped before leaving the circle of their energy, his movement polarized that same energy. Kurama reacted without thinking to balance it, following and falling into step, as ever moving to stand next to Hiei. That soothed out the polarity but sudden a pair, a partnership had been formed, and Yusuke and Kuwabara instinctively moved closer together in order to counteract it, shoulder to shoulder, pitting themselves against the other two like a centrifugal force, balancing it out. All this was done very quickly and without thought, the one's movement causing the others to move until they had resolved into their solid, original four-pointed object--able to break down into pairings, diagonals, even individual points if need be, but quick to spring back together. "You see?" Hiei said.

They saw. "Admirably illustrated," Kurama commented.

"You could have just told us, jerk," Kuwabara commented.

"Huh--guess some things really never do change," Yusuke said with a grin, forestalling spate of insult-hurling between the two. "Really... the only thing that's different now is no bad guys. I thought I would like that, but..."

"I'm sure we can find some if we try hard enough," Kurama said, consolingly.

"Yeah... stupid lazy jerks, not coming to us..." Yusuke continued to grumble as the four set out, calm and casual, in search of monsters and in no hurry to return home.