Hey all, I'm back with a new story. This one's reverting back to my original love story style. There won't even be a lemon for a while but I promise at least one nice tasty lemon before this is over.


Chapter 1

Flitting across the city Hiei allowed the jagon to glow briefly as he searched for Kurama's ki. Though it had been almost five years since he'd seen his former partner Hiei wasn't surprised to find him in the park. Carefully masking his energy Hiei landed in a tree to watch the Youko turned human from afar. When Hiei caught sight of the redhead he almost smiled but suddenly stopped.

Used to pain, Hiei didn't even notice the tightening in his chest as he watched Kurama push a small child on a swing. Eyes wide, Hiei could only stare at Kurama, smiling happily, as the little girl with long black hair laughed and begged to go higher. Hiei wasn't sure how long he continued to secretly observe them before Kurama moved in front of the swing and the child jumped into his arms. Hiei didn't even realize he'd looked away from the tender scene as the girl hugged Kurama and kissed his cheek.

Turning away, Hiei realized he no longer had a place in Kurama's life and would have flitted off but just then he felt Yusuke's powerful presence approaching. Glancing back Hiei heard the girl squeal as she rushed toward the former detective and threw herself into his arms. "DADDY!"

A frown crossed Hiei's brow as he wondered how Kurama and Yusuke had managed to have a child together. Though they were both demons neither man was capable of bearing children. When Yusuke put the girl down she ran off to play in the sand. Kurama and Yusuke then walked to the bench only few yards away from where Hiei perched. For some reason Hiei decided not to leave as he heard Yusuke speak. "Thanks for babysitting Li-Anne for me Kurama. She was getting to be too much for Keiko, what with the new baby and all."

Though he tried to ignore it's meaning, at Yusuke's words the tightening in Hiei's chest was suddenly released. Hiei got more comfortable on his branch as he waited for Kurama's reply. "It was my pleasure Yusuke. You know I love playing with my adorable niece in the park. How are Keiko and little Yoji?"

Yusuke's smile was huge as he answered. "They're great. My son is very demanding though and Keiko's not getting much sleep. With you taking Li-Anne and me watching Yoji she got a really good nap."

Closing his eyes there was a small smile on Hiei's lips as he listened to his former teammates talk. Not particularly interested in their conversation he wasn't really paying attention until he heard his name. "Kurama, Hiei still might come back you know. Maybe you should wait a little longer. I mean it's not too late to change your mind."

Curious as to why Yusuke thought Kurama should wait for him Hiei opened his eyes just in time to see the sadness that flitted momentarily across Kurama's face. "Actually Yusuke it is too late. Besides, there's nothing to wait for. Even if Hiei did come back it wouldn't be for me."

Yusuke shook his head. "What the hell else would he come for Kurama accept his best friend? His only other reason for coming to the Ningenkai was to watch over Yukina but now that she and Kuwabara are married that's his job now not Hiei's."

Not quite understanding the significance of their conversation Hiei frowned at Kurama's sad smile. "You are right about Hiei not returning for Yukina. He knows Kuwabara will watch over her. You are also right that I am Hiei's best friend, I would do anything for him Yusuke. You are however sadly mistaken if you think that Hiei has ever considered himself to be my friend. All I have ever been to Hiei is a convenience, a means to an end."

Hiei's eyes widened and he didn't realize his mouth fell open just as Yusuke's did. "Kurama, how can you say that? Until these last few years you and Hiei have been so close. I mean you've been friends since you were a kid or something."

Kurama gave a wistful smile. "I was eleven when Hiei and I met. We fought, then I took him home and treated his injuries. After that Hiei came to me whenever he was wounded, hungry or needed a safe place to sleep, not because he wanted my company. He recruited me to help him break into the Reikai vault when he wanted to take over the world, not because he wanted to help me save my mother."

Yusuke sighed. "Kurama listen…"

Kurama cut him off. "No Yusuke, you listen. Later, when we were forced to work our probation off by helping you, Hiei agreed to be my partner and if you'll remember, he told you why. He felt the best place to have a demon as powerful as me was at his side where he wouldn't have to fight me himself. The moment our probation ended, the danger was over and Yukina was safe he left and in case you haven't noticed he never came back. He never said it and I was never so arrogant as to assume that Hiei was ever my friend."

Yusuke was about to answer when something behind Kurama caught his eye. Smiling, Yusuke turned and called out. "Li-Anne, come say goodbye to Uncle Kurama, it's time to go home!"

Surprised that Yusuke didn't argue Kurama remained silent as Li-Anne rushed over to jump in his lap. "Thank you for bringing me to the park Uncle Kurama."

Accepting her hug and kiss Kurama smiled. "You're very welcome Sweetheart. Help Daddy with your little brother so Mommy doesn't get too tired. Okay?"

Lynne seemed distracted as she nodded. "Uh huh. Uncle Kurama, isn't that the man from your pictures?"

Turning to see what she was talking about Kurama gasped. Only a few feet behind him stood Hiei. Kurama was grateful that Yusuke answered her because he could only stare speechless at his former partner. "Yes Honey, that's your Uncle Hiei. Now say goodbye. Uncle Hiei's going to set his best friend straight about a few things or I'm going to have to kick his ass."

Gasping, Li-Anne shook a finger at Yusuke as she scolded him. "Daddy! Mommy says you're not allowed to say those words. Bye Uncle Kurama, bye Uncle Hiei."

Kurama could only wave as Li-Anne hopped off his lap and walked away holding Yusuke's hand. With a laugh the Toushin called over his shoulder. "Have fun catching up with your best friend Kurama. We'll all get together tomorrow and give Hiei a proper welcome. See ya guys."

Hiei and Kurama stared at each other for some time after Yusuke left. Kurama used the moment of silence to take in everything about Hiei. The fire demon had changed since he'd last seen him. The most noticeable change was that Hiei had grown several inches, he was now about the same height as Yusuke. The cloak he was wearing was similar to his old ratty one though new, custom tailored and obviously expensive. The cut of the cloak showed off his slender form while accenting his muscular physique.

At first Hiei's hair didn't appear to be any different but on closer inspection Kurama noticed it was pulled back in a ponytail that appeared to hang several inches below his shoulders. His gravity defying bangs however remained unchanged. When Kurama's eyes finally met Hiei's he blushed as the fire demon smirked at his close appraisal. Without breaking eye contact Hiei moved to take Yusuke's seat on the bench. Before Kurama could decide what to say Hiei spoke. "Kurama… you don't actually believe all that crap you just told Yusuke, do you?"

When Kurama lowered his eyes and didn't answer Hiei's eyes widened. "I know I'm not good with words or open about my feelings but I didn't think I needed to be with you of all people. Mukuro is my boss. Yusuke and the oaf were my teammates. But you Kurama… you are the only living creature I have ever truly considered to be my friend. You have always been my best friend and I thought you knew that I was yours."

Watching Kurama, Hiei couldn't read his expression, it was a combination of doubt and hope. Kurama took several unsteady breaths before he spoke. "Those words mean more to me than I can ever tell you Hiei. I know you may kill me for what I'm about to do but I'll take the risk."

Before Hiei could react Kurama threw his arms around the fire demon and drew him into a warm hug. Hiei stiffened not sure what to do. A moment later he heard Kurama whisper against his ear. "I missed you so much Shadow."

The unmasked emotion he heard along with Kurama's breath caressing his ear made Hiei shiver. Almost of their own accord Hiei's arms circled Kurama and he hesitantly returned the hug. "Me too Fox."

Feeling Hiei's arms creep around him Kurama's breath caught. After a moment though he relaxed and held Hiei even tighter. They stayed like that for only a minute before awkwardly pulling apart. Sitting back and looking into Kurama's green eyes Hiei had only a moment to wait before he was graced with the redhead's beautiful smile. "So Hiei, what brings you to the Ningenkai? I'm sure Yukina was happy to see you."

Hiei shrugged. "I wouldn't know, I haven't seen her yet. Things in Makai have been really quiet and boring and I've been driving Mukuro crazy so she kicked me out and said I was on vacation. Why the hell I'd need a vacation I don't know but with no where else to go I ended up here."

Kurama was shocked at Hiei's words. Not only had he admitted to being Kurama's friend for the first time, he had also come to see him even before seeing his precious sister. Suddenly Kurama felt more alive than he had in years and smiled again at the fire demon. "Well Hiei, I for one am very happy to see you. Life as a ningen can be very boring as well and you my friend are the closest link to my demon heritage. I'm looking forward to spending some time with you so I hope your vacation is a long one and you won't be rushing back any time soon."

Smirking, Hiei shrugged again. "You know I do as I please Kurama so I'll stay as long as I like."

Taking Hiei by the hand Kurama stood, pulling the fire demon along with him. "If memory serves me you usually show up hungry so let's go to my house and see what I can find to feed you."

As the sun began setting Hiei made no comment as they left the park. Walking down the street they passed two teenaged girls. The girls grinned at them and giggled behind their hands. After a moment Kurama realized he was still holding Hiei's hand. Trying not to blush Kurama released Hiei. "Sorry."

Turning to glare at the girls Hiei grunted. "Hn."

They walked in silence until they approached Kurama's house. When Kurama unlocked the door Hiei looked at him questioningly. "Kurama, why are we here? You were living in an apartment the last time I was here."

Kurama tossed his keys on the table and toed off his shoes. One glance at Hiei and the fire demon grunted and removed his boots. "I moved back home three years ago after my stepfather was killed in a car accident. My stepbrother took his father's death very hard and began getting in a lot of trouble. Kokota was cutting class and doing poorly in school and my mother needed help so I came back."

As Kurama talked they went into the kitchen. "Together Mother and I showed him that he wasn't alone, that he was still a part of our family and that we still loved him. He straightened out and last year he went off to college. With both Kokota and Kazuya gone I felt guilty about my mother being alone so I stayed."

Pulling out a chair Hiei straddled it backwards and watched Kurama as he prepared them a meal. "Hn. Even after all these years your life still revolves around that human. Damn it Kurama, when will you stop living this boring ningen life and return to Makai where you belong?"

With his back to him Kurama thought about Hiei's words a moment before answering. "I know you think it's stupid for me to be so devoted to her Hiei but believe me, I've done much worse things in my two lives than care for my mother. At least here I have her, a job I enjoy, my friends and their beautiful children to play with. What do I have in Makai Hiei besides you? Under different circumstances you might be enough reason for me to return but you are devoted to your job and that bionic bitch. That doesn't leave much room for me."

Hiei, frowned wondering if he'd heard correctly. Kurama almost sounded jealous of Mukuro. There was silence after that until Kurama served the food. As they began to eat Hiei looked at Kurama. "Where is Shiori anyways?"

Hiei was surprised when Kurama gave a little grin. "She's out with a friend tonight. She doesn't want me to know it yet but she has a boyfriend. I'm not sure but I think it's getting serious."

After that Hiei caught Kurama up on things going on in Makai as they ate. Kurama then cleaned up the kitchen before they headed up to his room. Walking ahead of Hiei Kurama didn't see the wistful look in the fire demon's eyes as they passed the piano at the base of the stairs. "So Hiei, did you want to hang out here tonight or head over to see Yukina?"

When they entered the bedroom Kurama had his answer as Hiei shrugged out of his cloak. "I'm tired Fox. It sounds like Yusuke's planning a party so I'll just see Yukina there."

Smiling, Kurama watched Hiei flop down on his bed. Laying on his back Hiei rested his hands behind his head and closed his eyes. As comfortably as if he'd just done it yesterday Kurama picked up Hiei's cloak and hung it up. Turning back Kurama shook his head at how easily Hiei fell asleep in his presence.

Knowing Hiei probably needed the rest Kurama moved to sit on the other side of the bed, picked up his book and began to read. Two hours later Kurama went downstairs for Hiei's boots before returning to his room. Though there was no real reason to conceal Hiei's presence from Shiori, old habits died hard.

Once back in his room Kurama got ready for bed. When he came out of the bathroom Hiei's pants were on the floor and the fire demon was tucked under the covers. With a smile Kurama folded the fire demon's pants and placing them over his desk chair before crawling in beside Hiei. In the dark Hiei grunted. "Still as neat as ever I see Fox."

Grinning, Kurama turned towards Hiei. "Yes, and I see you're still a slob. Some things never change do they Shadow?"

Hiei yawned. "Nope, and I still sleep best right here with you Fox."

As Hiei's eyes closed Kurama smiled at yet another unexpected admission from his long time friend. "Sleep well my friend and know that you're safe with me right here watching over you."

The next day Hiei made himself scarce while Kurama was at work. Relaxing in his favorite tree Hiei had a lot of time to think and realized for the first time that his time spent here in the Ningenkai really hadn't been so bad. Kurama saw to it that he'd had food and shelter when he'd needed it. The fox had been the perfect fighting partner and even tended his wounds better than most healers. What stuck out most in his mind however was that Kurama was the first being that Hiei had actually trusted and even to this day he was still the only one that he trusted without reservation.

Reflecting back Hiei wondered what it was about Kurama that made him different from anyone else he'd ever known. Though Kurama was a powerful demon he had not tried to take advantage of Hiei and had offered him kindness, compassion and his unconditional friendship since the first day they'd met. Never in his life was he more at peace than when he was with Kurama. The redhead's soft voice and gentle touches were the things he'd missed most when he'd returned to Makai.

Yesterday Hiei had told Kurama that he was here because he had no where else to go. That however was only partially true. If Hiei were honest he'd have to admit that he'd come back because he'd known that Kurama was the only creature in the three worlds that could calm the restlessness he'd been feeling for most of the last year. When Kurama had hugged him yesterday Hiei had felt completely at peace, as if that brief embrace had healed a part of him that he hadn't even known was wounded.

Sensing Kurama's approach Hiei shook his head, pushing the unfamiliar feelings aside. He couldn't believe he'd spent most of the day thinking about the fox. Hopping down, Hiei landed just a few feet away from Kurama's path. For some reason when Kurama smiled at him Hiei felt his face heat up. Turning, Hiei fell into step just ahead of him so Kurama couldn't see his blush. "Hello Hiei. I take it you spent a relaxing day napping here in the park."

In usual Hiei fashion he just grunted when Kurama stated what he considered to be the obvious. "Hn."

As if Hiei had given him a real answer Kurama continued. "Good, then you'll be well rested because as you predicted Yusuke's planning a party for tonight. We called Kuwabara and Koenma and we're meeting at the temple at six thirty. Kuwabara agreed not to tell Yukina so that you can surprise her."

Hiei nodded but before he could answer Kurama's cell phone rang. After answering it Hiei raised an eyebrow when Kurama hung back and even stepped away to take the call in private. After only a minute Kurama rejoined him but neither of them mentioned the call. When they arrived at the house Kurama was surprised when, for the second day, Hiei entered with him through the front door. "You've changed Hiei. In all the time I've known you I don't think you've ever used my front door unless my mother was expecting you."

Rolling his eyes, Hiei grunted. "Mukuro says that as her heir I have to practice proper etiquette. She even makes me take lessons."

Hiei growled when Kurama laughed. "Sorry Hiei but that's just too funny, you in charm school."

Again Hiei grunted. "Stupid Fox."

Knowing it was safer to hold his tongue Kurama swallowed his laughter. "Give me a few minutes to change and leave my mother a note and we'll be on our way."

True to his word they were on their way in no time. Since the temple was so far away and the trains wouldn't be running when the party was over Kurama was able to persuade Hiei to ride in his car.

Kurama brought Hiei up to date on their friends during the hour long trip and before long they were parked at the base of the temple steps. Right beside them Yusuke was helping Keiko get baby Yoji out of his car seat. Li-Anne started hopping around excitedly when she spotted Kurama getting out of his car. "Uncle Kurama!"

Bending down Kurama scooped the little girl up in his arms giving her a big hug. "Hello little one. This is a special treat, I get to see my favorite niece two days in a row."

Kissing his cheek Li-Anne giggled. "Silly, I'm your only niece Uncle Kurama."

Before either of them could react Li-Anne leaned over and, from Kurama's arms, hugged Hiei. "Hello Uncle Hiei."

Knowing the show of affection would make Hiei uncomfortable Kurama held onto Li-Anne pulling her back into his arms but not before she could kiss Hiei's cheek. Kurama watched as Hiei's eyes widened in shock. Kurama was a little surprised when Hiei only replied softly. "Hi."

Over Li-Anne's shoulder Kurama gave Hiei a big smile. A moment later Koenma and Botan appeared. Setting Li-Anne down Kurama looked around. "Since it looks like we're all here lets go up."

Together the group climbed the temple steps. Kuwabara and Yukina had been married just a few months before Genkai's death. When Koenma hadn't brought the old psychic back from the dead again the gang agreed that Kuwabara and Yukina would live at the temple and continue Genkai's work.

When they reached the top of the steps everyone hung back a little allowing Hiei to move ahead as they entered the courtyard. Before they'd gone more than a few steps Yukina came out on the porch. She smiled and waved when she saw her friends then squealed and rushed forward when she realized Hiei led the group. "Hiei!"

Catching Yukina in his arms Hiei had no choice but to return her embrace. "Oh Hiei, I've missed you so much. This is such a wonderful surprise. I'll bet you were all in on it too weren't you?"

After everyone headed inside Hiei was warmly greeted by all, even Kuwabara. A few minutes later Botan looked around before turning to Kurama. "Kurama, where's…"

Suddenly Koenma slipped an arm around his wife and pulled her away, Yusuke handed Kurama a drink and Yukina quickly claimed Hiei's attention. "So Brother, I hope this will be a long visit. We've all missed you a lot."

Though Hiei answered Yukina's question, Koenma and Botan held his attention. In the corner of the room Koenma was frowning as he talked to Botan. Botan's eyes widened and she covered her gaping mouth with her hand. Hearing his sister try to claim his full attention Hiei was very aware that they seemed to be keeping a secret. Turning his ruby gaze to hers Hiei frowned. "Yukina, what the hell is going on here?"

Yukina just smiled. "Why where having a party Hiei. Oh no, the food!"

When Yukina rushed off Hiei looked around the room. Everything appeared to have returned to normal. Deciding the best thing to do was watch and listen Hiei took his usual place at the window and waited. Unfortunately he didn't learn a thing. When Kurama approached him a while later with a plate of food Hiei accepted it and chose to let his suspicions go. "It's good to have you back Hiei. We haven't gotten together for a party in ages. Somehow it isn't the same when one of us is missing."

Seeing the sincerity in Kurama's eyes Hiei looked away shyly. "As much as I hate to admit it Fox, it's good to be back. Repeat that though and I'll deny it."

Kurama laughed. "I wouldn't dream of it Shadow."

The rest of the party was much like any other party they'd ever had. Yusuke and Kuwabara drank too much. Luckily because Keiko was still nursing Yoji she wasn't drinking and could drive. Kuwabara merely had to be poured into his bed. Always the responsible one Kurama only had the one drink Yusuke had given him and took care of his friends before driving Hiei home.

Once there they snuck quietly up to Kurama's room and got ready for bed. After they were under the covers Kurama turned to Hiei and leaned up on his elbow. "I had such a good time tonight Hiei. Even though they are my friends I always feel a bit like an outsider around them. It's always easier when you're there with me. Thank you Hiei."

When he finished speaking Kurama hesitated a moment then leaned over and gently kissed Hiei's cheek. "Goodnight Hiei."

Hiei was frozen in shock as Kurama lay down beside him and closed his eyes. Though Kurama didn't touch him Hiei had never been more aware of how close the fox was than at that moment. After a moment Hiei released the breath he hadn't been aware he was holding and whispered back. "Goodnight Kurama."

Staring into the darkness it was a long time before Hiei slept.