What I Hold Dear

Another attempt at a Hiei/Kurama oneshot. A bit longer than the last one and with mindless plot...not sure if that makes it better. This is actually a different style than I normally write. A bit OOC but that's how it turned out as I was writing so hopefully it doesn't take away from the feel. And, yes, the scenes cut off a bit abruptly, on purpose I assure you. R for yaoi lemon. Precaution. Heh. Review if you desire...it would make the authoress very happy to hear comments and suggestions.

Disclaimer: YYH and its characters has put a restraining order on the Authoress. So, no, she doesn't own them.


XxX

Loathing seizes my vision as I stare down at the hideous item in my bandaged right hand. False light from high above the ceiling shielding the private events that have transpired bounces off its circular rarity, its horrible beauty.

A tear gem.

Black as midnight in Makai, dark as a criminal's heart.

Consequent of sympathy. Something I was never allowed to feel for another being. A repulsive reminder of how weakness comes to all like a rotting disease, striking without warning, slow and painful when in effect. In time, I suppose there is acceptance. Even if it tends to be deadened.

I . . . cried.

XxX

"Where do you think he ran off to?"

"It's been what, three months, and he doesn't even bother to tell us--who cares?"

"...Do you have a heart underneath all that fat?"

"Urameshi- Why I outta---!"

"BOYS, really! Now is not the time for fighting, Kurama could be in very serious danger if he hasn't contacted Lord Koemna about his assignment."

"You think he's in trouble Botan?"

"…I'm not sure...hey, where did Hiei disappear to?"

Before Kuwabara could utter so much as a 'good riddance', the short contour in the oversize coat was nearly two-thirds to his destination.

XxX

Raindrops that fell like bullets from the gray mist . . . they gave rise to the musty stink of decaying dirt and shriveling flora. Shrines float amid the fog, swimming into blurriness from the imprisoned tears of one of the few wanderers of the outside world. Allowing the punishment the afternoon storm brandished.

The overpowering stench of death and rain couldn't stop him from tracking the individual predominantly weighed down by a vague but achingly familiar aroma of fully bloomed roses.

Mud licked the edges of heavy dark boots as the owner halted some feet inside the old-fashion iron gated entrance. His form fizzed like television static before becoming completely solid behind the taller figure donning a worn fleece jacket drenched to the bone and once thick red hair now plastered to the scalp of the wearer. Hiei moved to the side to study what his ex-partner was staring so intently at.

Copper words engraved in concrete.

Minamino Shiori

Ruby red skimmed over the date, almost two months ago to the day. The other man ignored the thin strands of black bangs obstructing his sight, coming back into his position directly behind the redhead to say apathetically, "You cannot find her."

Whether it was his tone or the simple truth radiating from the sentence . . . could it have been frustration . . . The quiet and sullen man felt the first wave of stinging tears break free. A more rational, proud side to Kurama bore a brutal sense of shame at his emotional imperfection, having it witnessed to Hiei of all living beings, someone who must have been under the impression that he was more formidable than that.

In response to that side, he did not turn around. But the shuddering of his body; virtually unnoticeable to the naked human eye but to the higher class demon watching him, very clear.

No noises. No gasps of sobs. No cutting intakes of breath.

Despite the stillness, a painful tension crushed Kurama.

Hiei felt it as he had upon discovering his Mother's suicide.

The very raw and very real stripping of his insides, someone imaginary had forced his heart out through his breastbone, took his brain and rattled it a couple hundred times to bring an onstart of dizziness, squeezed his lungs clean of precious air and tied them into a neat little knot before chucking them carelessly into his stomach's acidic juices. To a degree. . .it had been something to rival mentally with the operation of his Jagan Eye.

He suddenly became very aware of the cool caress of the object dangling underneath his ragged shirt.

Kurama couldn't stand this much immediate pain in his current state, being the spawn of Youko or not. Carefully, the shorter stepped forward initially with the motives to ensure that the other man wouldn't collapse (he swayed little but remained firm), if worse came to worse. When Hiei came close enough, a light tingling rose in his chest, something soft blanketing his nerves, and without thinking on his actions, closed the distance. The redhead bowed his head in submission, his chest giving a faint tight heave at the sensation of a pair of strong arms slipping around his waist. A second later, the pressure of someone's head touching his back. Grateful for this...hugs came scarce in the vocabulary of this peculiar fire-Koorime...he let out a loud hoarse cry, shaking harder then ever while still managing to stand.

Hiei could feel the physical vibrations of sorrow through the wet material his cheek pressed against, wincing when his companion permitted himself one noise. One was all it took to express the pure torture, it snaked up into his system, icing his inners.

Before he realized it was happening, perhaps he might have tried to stop it, a tiny line of moisture seeped from the corner of his left eye quickly hardening together. The nearly soundless clink of a small round object hitting the toe of his shoe jolted him back from the numbness away from the time-honored remoteness of his character. . .erasing the tingling.

XxX

And as he stared at that reprehensible gem gleaming in his palm, the dealings of the past week washed over him dimly.

Bits and pieces he could pick out . . . coming back into Kurama's home, half supporting and half carrying him in their conquest of reaching the front door . . . standing at the bedroom window around two in the morning to guard over his friend's restless sleep . . . leaving one day and returning the next to find cereal sewn across the kitchen tiles and Kurama in the middle of it all on his knees, lost and wide eyed.

Plainest had been the night after Hiei found him at his Mother's grave site, the kitsune thief stayed up most of the evening telling the only one who would listen without interrupting the story of the past three months. Shiori's illness had roared its ugly head after so many months of remission, crippling and permanently keeping her bedridden. Kurama couldn't leave her at the time. He had thought of contacting everyone but it stayed a thought in the back of his worries as she steadily worsened. Without warning, she had passed away in her slumber, no goodbyes, no kisses on the hand or mouth. Kurama arranged the burial soon after and set out for Spirit World, in hopes of finding a way to contact the soul of his Mother. He had asked countless ferry girls, even did the unthinkable of considering tapping into Youko Kurama for guidance.

None of it brought him closer to what he desired. She was beyond his reaches.

He needed to hear it from someone's lips.

Lucky him the fire demon had decided to come to his 'rescue'.

Making a slight face at the prospect of anything fairytale-like involving him, Hiei tucked the little jewel in his stiffening grip into one of his hidden pockets. Attentiveness, of a fierce youki energy, heightened at the last minute of that alleged 'demon' examining him on the counter-stool.

A small smile plucked up the corners of a washed-out countenance, a silky calm whisper, "Hiei, how long have you been sitting there?"

"Not long."

White rays of early morning blocked his view of Kurama as the leaner of the two got up from inclining on the doorframe and crossed to the refrigerator. Hiei blinked against the strain momentarily, fighting to keep his inquiry neutral.

"How are...you feeling, fox?" The small smile reappeared to fix itself securely in place at the arrival of the question.

"Better. Thank you Hiei for staying with me through this--"

He hesitated.

Ordeal lay on the back of his tongue waiting to be spoken but somehow calling it an 'ordeal' would have made it sound like it wasn't important.

The occupant on the stool made an indifferent noise with his throat, signaling the dead haze in a green stare to vanish promptly. The human reached for a glass from the sink and said evenly as he poured some water, "Would you like anything?"

When there was no answer, Kurama put away the bottle. "I will be going back to the office. They are allowing me the standard two week vacation a little early." Hiei shifted in his seat, folding his arms over his white scarf and turning his face towards the now fairly less blinding window.

"Do they know what happened?" The redhead nodded, sounding almost amused.

"Indeed, they do. That is why they're letting me have it early."

The way he had said it made it seem as if the idea were a joke, cat-like eyes narrowed. Hiei would never understand this world's bizarre, almost unhealthy humor. Kurama sipped his water un-bothered, "I'll have another week to do bills and various other things," long slender fingers absently flipped some papers on the kitchen table, "Groceries must be picked up, Kaasan will-"

All of his muscles froze up mid-sentence, emerald green orbs widened impossibly big. Hiei tore his eyes from the window and braced himself for another breakdown, preparing for anything. Of what he had seen, crying, incoherent babbling, exhaustion . . . There was no telling what the type, the loss of control that would take him. Hiei couldn't feel it then, but later on he would suppress the concern etched in his normally empty expression.

The poisonous haze remained but Kurama merely cleared his throat as if he had experienced an insignificant hiccup, going for the trench coat hanging in the hallway, "I'm going to the store." The other asked quietly, not moving to stop him, "Are you sure?"

"I can go alone."

The front door slammed behind him.

XxX

Arms full of brown bags, the body snatcher of Shuichi Minamino returned to his Mother's property, a placid look safely replacing upsetting consciousness. Up through his thick red bangs, he spotted a black speck off in the foreground. Resting against the porch terrace, the dark-haired yōkai stared ahead blankly, one hand hanging over on his precious katana. Kurama was gravely tempted to smirk. Was it just his imagination. . . or did Hiei look bored?

Going over the street and coming up the walkway, he allowed himself a moment to openly rake his vision across to the features of the Forbidden Child. There was no denying the handsome exterior about him, Hiei would never agree, but this was his opinion.

Without the black and red coat, his powerful arms with years of training exposed themselves, unfortunately the powerful muscles in his chest and stomach were concealed beneath the same shirt he had worn since Kurama had met him ages ago. Just as powerful legs trapped in black material and the same old dirty boots. A clump of his spiky hair fell just over his closing left eye, serenely moving to the breeze. It flattered his already good-looking self. In fact, many things Hiei had seemed to flatter him. . .

Kurama bit back another smirk.

The fire demon had noidea what he did to him. . .

Good-naturedly, the redhead commented, climbing the porch steps, "You're not worried about the neighbors looking across the street and finding a strange man carrying a sword in broad daylight?"

With his eyes still shut, Hiei spoke matter-of-factly, "They should be use to it by now."

As Kurama entered his home, he expected the other man to stay where he was, or more accurately get up and find something more important to do. But he didn't act surprised after putting away some cans of fruit to find that Hiei had once again located himself near the stools. Cross-armed and quiet as a mouse. Mouse. Pulling down the corners of his twitching lips, Kurama tried his best to look uninterestedly busy. Oh, how Hiei hated that nickname. Especially coming from the overly eager mouth of the 'baka'.

"Fox, what's so amusing?"

His face didn't convulse with a telltale of his lie as the kitsune thief crumpled up a paper bag, "Absolutely nothing," and with great efficiency managed to switch the subject, all the while Hiei now mildly eying him with wariness.

"Have you checked on Yukina lately? I fear that you remaining here has brought on a sense of deficiency to your sworn duty." Crimson blinked slowly, wiping away the wary.

"My Jagan doesn't sense any danger for her." Kurama insisted, not looking up.

"You should go see her." Hiei may have appeared perfectly unresponsive at that moment but on the inside, a sliver of fascination and a much larger portion of a darker emotion wormed its slimy stream into his logic.

Hurt?

At first it had been too soft, too unreal passing from his lips, but after a few seconds the redhead was very sure it had been spoken.

"She will be fine. You are a different case."

The sentence rang true in his eardrums. Genuinely startled, Kurama whipped around only to be further startled by the sight he was seeing. An angular light red eyebrow rose. "What are you doing?"

The Jaganshi paused with his hand inside the cabinet and released the tomato can, simply stating, "They don't put themselves away, do they?"

Kurama had a feeling he was seriously asking.

"No...I suppose they don't."

XxX

Floods of streetlamp yellow slit through the bedroom blinds, adequate to light the barely pitch-dark setting they situated themselves in. From his position stretched out on the spread of the mattress, the taller yōkai murmured determinedly to the smaller standing against the windowpane across the modestly-sized room, "You should rest Hiei."

At the sound of an unmoved 'Hrm', Kurama sat up and redoubled his efforts, "You can't use the Jagan when you're falling asleep on your feet," a brief perceptible pat of the sheets, and lesser of a smile, "There is room."

"Let's not start that up again."

At the blunt rebuttal Hiei provided, the smile grew absurdly. He had thought the fire demon had forgotten those intruding memories; of a secret laced solely between infrequent dusk visits, a mystical cloaked figure emerging from the opening of his screen. . .full of insecurity and a physical need of comfort. He had happily welcomed the feel of another's heat surging through him, through light inexperienced kisses (at least one convicted felon to be specific), trembling exploring touches, and lazy sleepy embraces that ended as the sun returned. Nothing more. Their relationship, if it could even be considered as such, the romantic element became short-term. Hiei became surer of himself and in time, no longer needed the 'consolation' Kurama supplied. And it hadn't bothered Kurama one bit. Nothing but a harmless fling.

Nothing was surely beginning to feel like. . .something.

"It won't be like that."

'No promise, old friend.'

The smaller looked away before peeking through his spiky bangs at a gentle gaze from the other. Kurama brazenly dealt a low blow by using the voice he knew Hiei didn't have internal defenses against. Slightly deepened in the voice box; all velvet as the dewdrop petals of his infamous roses. And like those roses when put to use, at times, extremely lethal.

"Hiei. Please rest."

The deliberate, lingering emphasis of his name shattered the loose ends of the lasting cracks in his emotional shield. Releasing what gave the impression of a defeated sigh; the hiyoukai untied his katana to sling the strip of hide holding the scabbard to the foot of the bedpost, removing his black boots unhurriedly. Scooting to the opposite end, Kurama burrowed under the blankets, smirking humorlessly when he heard his companion do the same.

How long they lay there, neither sleeping. . .greatly mindful of each other's body heat just inches from wandering fingertips. . .

The springs of the mattress creaked feebly as one of the lodgers sat up, frantically tossing away blanket. Kurama propped himself up by the elbows, "Hiei?"

"Too warm," came a low mumble; and the kitsune demon forgot his minor anxiety quickly at the gracious show the other demon gave stripping off his worn baggy shirt, emerald green greedily enlarging as the tendons and planes of his smooth muscular skin rippled. Regaining his wits, Kurama turned his back to Hiei, no longer giving his eyes the pleasure.

XxX

Soft snoring.

That was the second thing that had stirred him some of the best sleep he had had in. . .well, years. Curling his legs to his chest and yawning into his free hand, the other comfortably extended out in front of him, the human paused intrigued from getting up.

Where was that snoring coming from?

The very thing that had awaken him was a rather unyielding fist buried into his button up shirt, attached to the smaller male built curled up to him in a fashion similar to a satisfied cat. Right above the fist, probably the cutest thing Kurama ever had the pleasure of coming around to. No longer tirelessly kept blank to protect his emotions, Hiei's rounded face was at its most content when dead to the world. It was so cute that Kurama could not help but stroke the tuft of hair within his extended arm's range and stretch his neck down to plant a harmless kiss in the black mane smelling of woods and rain.

It wasn't his fault that Hiei had been alert enough to feel the odd but dutiful caresses.

Almond-shaped crimson eyes opened up slowly to take in the face hovering a good inch from his, surprise and panic not settling in until the innocent smile the other cast parted to whisper, "Good morning firebaby."

The single time that that nickname had been used was one particular midnight Hiei came in without permission, somehow in the total darkness pinpointing Kurama's bed, and slid into the fox demon's arms, silent and shivering not from the cold. Kurama had accidentally cooed the nickname while stroking his hair and the back of his neck; Hiei had stiffened but had not protested as it was repeated once more before sleep had its way with them.

This time Hiei's reaction was lightning-fast and unspoken, within moments, Kurama was left alone in his cot, Hiei's shirt and katana gone, and the large window in the bedroom half open. . .the morning wind whispering soothingly through the curtains.

XxX

There had been a phrase he had heard once, it described the circumstances flawlessly. Where he had heard it before, from the mouth and what situation, he couldn't place.

Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile I caught hell for. (1)

He truly believed it was so.

If anything in his life had meant something, it had been the care and love of his human Mother. Look where that got him. A broken heart, a shattered soul, and a new affirmed tendency to empathize; compassion had been something Youko couldn't have understood in a million lifetimes. More than anything, having that feeling for a frail old nigen.

But it had been worth it, worth this state of hell. Having that woman to raise him, nearly seventeen years, taught him the art of devotion and how delicate and precious living could be when it intended to take away a thing dear to you. It sincerely opened one's eyes to what was valuable, what truly treasure was.

Friends had meant something to him as well. Yusuke and his genuine concern for others, Kuwabara and his more-often-than-not juvenile antics, Botan and her uncustomary cheerful spirit for a shinigami, and a range of individuals passing through his years.

Hiei...

Kurama buried himself deeper into the useless planning of his stepfather's company policies, tightening his grip on the documents he concentrated on when the sound of a swishing cloak approached from his right side.

"What are you doing?"

Exhaustion lacing between his words, the redhead replied without blinking or moving his eyes from the line he was staring at blindly, "Work. I'm a little busy, do you need something?" In all honesty, Kurama had not expected him to return that evening, considering what had happened that morning.

A light sheen of red flushed high above his cheekbones. Irritated by the unforeseen heat, the kitsune-thief bent forward, fixing a piece of paper over his face mostly to cover the burning dots. Hiei's voice, for the first time in a long time, drew out in a bewildered tone, "Isn't this supposed to be a vay-kay-?"

To save him the trouble of stumbling through the sentence, Kurama cut him off briskly, "Vacation. Hatanaka insists that these be finished by the time I return to the office."

In hopes that the half Koorime would not argue further, usually he lost interest, the taller man narrowed his eyes, staring harder at the painstakingly small print in front of him but not at all focusing on the meaning. Not with the increasing awareness of his short-tempered companion boring holes into his profile.

With a great force, Kurama realized he was being hustled into the arch of the hallway, the clutch on his sweatshirt sleeve cruel and abrupt. In the distance, he heard the thud of the kitchen chair he once sat in smack onto the tiled floor. Several seconds later, the redhead was no longer at the mercy of the hiyoukai; Kurama steadied himself by putting both hands on his bedpost as he was thrown unceremoniously towards the direction of his mattress in his lamp lit bedroom. Behind Hiei, the bedroom door slammed shut by itself at the gust of both figures moving quickly, by accident naturally. He ordered coldly, "Go to bed."

Slightly disoriented, the redhead shook his head.

"What are you…?" Crimson darkened.

"Fox, you can barely stay on your own feet. I will not repeat myself."

Kurama merely examined the stubborn demon in front of him, letting his eyes roam every inch of the creature blocking his exit. There was something almost defensive in his stance, as if he thought he was doing a favor by suggesting, no, demanding for him to sleep. And perhaps it was for the best, he was feeling weary, a lot of things had weighted him down in the elapsed twenty-four hours…many intruding thoughts…

As the staring contest persisted between them, Hiei grew to distrust the glint in the fox's gaze. Unmistakenly coming to surface behind composed emerald green, threatening to destroy whatever self-control the nearly-human had left. It was a hunger he knew was preserved exclusively for objects desired, beautiful sexual objectst. It was not like Kurama to lose control, to succumb to any instinct without reason, but as the last month had shown, Kurama had a terrible sense of abandonment about him Hiei could not imagine.

Wanting to escape that confusing stare, he reached for the door but no less than the second after his palm closed around the metal knob jutting from the wood, Hiei's back mysteriously found itself pushed against the panels of the bedroom wall, the fox's tilted face lowered, the tips of their sharp noses almost touching. A vulnerable position…one Hiei didn't care for at all.

The Jaganshi send a message telepathically, ruby red orbs twitching with the underscore of: What the hell are you thinking?

He didn't get the answer he was quite expecting.

Two very intimate lips applied a gentle dizzy pressure, closing momentarily around the firm line of his mouth, the ends softly puckering. Ruby widened to the size of dinner plates at the feel of this tender invasion to his personal space, fists violently yanked at clumps of dark red hair, insisting that what he believed to be as madnessto end.

Ignoring the throbbing happening at his scalp, Kurama intensified the kiss, using his own coveting hands to curl around the shorter man and pull him bodily closer. Hiei yanked unkindly, somehow bringing their faces closer if it were possible, the impulse a response to his shock. Almond-shaped eyes slit with struggle, the next telepathic message passing between them a breathless gasp.

Please stop.

Hotly, the redhead obeyed, panting and releasing his prey. Kurama barely had time to comprehend what he had done, to imagine the damage he could have achieved to their strain of a friendship, before he was once again accosted by a foreign grasp. This time by the thick scruff of his gray shirt.

Panting just as loudly, Hiei used brute strength to thrust the taller demon up onto the haphazard downy blankets, crawling on top of his chest to attach his open mouth to the half eager, half gaping mouth below him.

After two full lustful minutes, the hiyoukai calmed himself temporarily, sitting up and bowing his head so that his chin tapped his collarbone. Disappointed and at the same time troubled at their obvious loss of restraint, Kurama eyed him from his position lying flat on the mattress. A part of his system, the fox-in-heat part, was having a hell of a time suppressing the basic primal instinct of taking him right then and there, despite knowing the chances of this going that far, he wouldn't allow Hiei a bad experience.

Silence.

"What do you want, Hiei?"

Large crimson eyes snapped back up, leveling with shrewd green. In a moment of mental turmoil, Hiei's mouth opened and closed inaudibly, small fingers clenching and unclenching in his palms.

"I-I want….I want…"

XxX

He remembers feeling warm. Considering his status as a half fire demon, he knew the differences of his demonic heat and another's. But he had never, never felt a sweltering course through every vein in his body like this, an intoxicated hum, as he had when Kurama touched his left hand and guided it underneath his sweatshirt.

Had never felt such a quell to tear away the atrocious fabric in his way, to eagerly claim the pink rosebud flesh beneath it with his teeth and lips. The groaning sounds erupting from the baka kitsune's mouth more than enough motivation to bite harder.

Had never undressed so fast, had never felt his heart beat so loudly in his ears, had never felt more in control in his life with the amplified sensations of Kurama inside of him.

He didn't need to understand the definition of 'sex' to know what they were accomplishing. Kurama would needlessly remind him that it wasn't just 'sex'. It was making love. Hiei would have gladly made this love until all the three world's ended, would have forgotten all else, his duties, his honor, to remain trapped in the sway they created, the lovely friction, full and sweating.

Then suddenly, the world stilled.

Behind the blinding white washes of pleasure spotting his vision, he heard his own hoarse voice moan the connection. And soon as he thought it was over, Kurama brought him back to the edge of withering, matching his cries in volume.

XxX

A tear gem.

Black as midnight in Makai and as dark as a criminal's heart.

Sympathy. Weakness.

It symbolizes pieces of myself I could live without. And yet, I present the loathsome object to him as a gift, the only teargem I've ever cried. In a tiny nest of vines he summoned from seeds he carries, it is cradled next to his heart.

After all. . .it was for him.


Hope you enjoyed. :)

(1) quoted by Earl Warren