Fair Play

When Hiei woke up to find himself restrained, he flew into a panic. He immediately tried to incinerate the bonds, and when that didn't work he went into a series of twists and turns, faster than the human eye could have followed, designed to loosen them. This, too, proved completely ineffective. But it wasn't until Hiei looked around the room and found his best friend calmly watching him that he really began to feel pissed off.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Hiei growled, his voice low and dangerous.

"I wanted to talk to you," Kurama replied simply.

"You had to tie me to the fucking bed to talk to me?!"

"Yes." Kurama was calm, unperturbed from the change in Hiei's voice from controlled to furious. "You're going to want to run away in a minute."

"It didn't occur to you that I'm going to attack you the instant I get out of this?"

"It did."


"We need to talk."

"You couldn't have just opened your mouth and started talking? What the hell goes on in that mind, fox?"

"I should ask you the same." Kurama looked suddenly stern, and a little bit pissed himself.

"I'm not the one who had to tie someone down just to start a conversation," Hiei shot back, not willing to stop long enough to wonder what had put such an angry expression on Kurama's face. His own rage surely had the right to eclipse Kurama's; he was restrained while Kurama was free, he was lying down while Kurama was sitting up, he was wearing only the loose pants he'd worn to bed while Kurama was fully clothed. At the moment, he truly and completely hated the fox.

Kurama shrugged. "I have other reasons as well."

"And they are?"

"My reasons."

"Don't play your damned mind games with me, Kurama," Hiei said in disgust. "Just say whatever the hell you had to say and let me out of this. I'm never going to trust you again."

Kurama only crossed his legs and laced his fingers, regarding Hiei calmly, as though he were a mildly interesting display in a museum. This incensed Hiei enough to try escaping again, but Kurama had been thorough. The rope tying his hands to the headboard was immune to every type of flame that Hiei could summon, and expertly tied so that while Hiei was in no discomfort, he could not even begin to loosen it. Kurama had obviously thought this through.

Hiei stopped struggling to glare resentfully at the fox. "What the hell are you waiting for, then?"

"I'm waiting for you to be ready to talk to me."

"Clearly, I have nothing but time."

"And clearly anything I say to you now you'll reject out of hand because you're furious. And rightfully so. It was a dirty trick to restrain you while you were asleep; doubly so because I know how difficult it was for you to learn to sleep with someone else in the same room, let alone the same bed. I'm sorry to break your trust this way--"

"What way would you rather have broken it, then?"

Kurama refused to be hurt. "You know what I mean. I had to do this, Hiei, and I hope you can forgive me later."

Hiei glared, more murderously than before; Kurama continued to appear perfectly calm, and looked at him pointedly. Hiei realized he meant what he said; until Hiei could appear equally calm, Kurama would not explain his imprisonment. So, after allowing himself a final mental snarl of I fucking hate that fox, Hiei tried to talk himself down.

Okay. It's Kurama. While it's now obvious that he's seriously fucked up in the head, I doubt he means me any harm. And he's an expert at reading faces so unless I disassociate myself from this anger completely, he'll know. I don't want to have to fight him--especially while he's got my arms tied over my head. Once he's said what he wants to he'll let me go. It's just Kurama.

With that resolved, Hiei looked at Kurama inquiringly. Kurama studied him for a minute, then gave him a small smile. "Thank you."

"What did you want to talk about?"

"How long have you been in love with me?"

All of the work Hiei had just done to calm himself went straight out the window. Kurama's smile tightened a notch. "I told you you'd want to run," he commented grimly.

"…What the fuck is wrong with you?!!"

"Just answer me."

"What goes on in that head of yours?! I have never been in love with you, fox, or anyone, and--"

"Don't lie to me." Kurama's voice was suddenly cold and hard as steel, and his eyes, though still green, took on something of the Youko. "I'm sick of having to sift the truth out of what you say and don't say. I shouldn't have to. I know this is the only time I'll ever be able to capture you with a cheap trick like this, and I don't intend to waste it. You can tell me the truth, or you can stay there."

"Who the hell have you been talking to? Who put this into your head?"

"You did. I've been talking to you."

"That doesn't make sense," Hiei snapped.

"I agree. It doesn't make sense, Hiei, because what you say when you're awake and what you say when you're asleep are completely different things."

Hiei stared at him, silent. After a moment in which it became clear that Hiei had nothing to say to that, Kurama continued, calm again. "Do you know you talk in your sleep, Hiei? You must; I told you that you did the very first time we met. That's how I learned about Yukina. Is that the reason you hate to sleep with anyone else around?"

"Well, that and a fear of waking up tied to the bed."

"Completely justified, apparently. Then why did you start sleeping in my bed?"

"Many reasons."

"And they are?"

"My reasons."

Kurama tried but did not quite manage to suppress a smile. Hiei had been unable to resist taking that shot, but now that it had been acknowledged he continued. "Safety… though I'm beginning to doubt my sanity in that reasoning…convenience, mostly. Comfort; even I get sick of sleeping in trees. Besides, you're vulnerable when you're asleep. It would be entirely too easy for someone to break your neck, and then I'd have to go through the headache of hunting down a new partner."

Kurama raised one eyebrow slightly. "I'm vulnerable when I sleep?" Hiei flushed darkly. "You seem to be under the impression that if you talk long enough, I'll forget my original question. I assure that is not the case."

"I think I've forgotten your original question."

"No, you haven't."

There was a moment of silence, in which they tested each other for weakness with their eyes. Hiei, for his part, had come nowhere near forgetting the original question and was disinclined to answer it. Kurama seemed unconcerned by the temporary stalemate; in fact, he gave the impression that he would be perfectly willing to spend the whole night like this if need be. "How long have you been planning this?" Hiei wondered out loud.

Kurama shrugged as though it didn't matter. "Awhile, now. I had entertained a brief hope that you would say something while you were awake, but I realized that was optimistic to the point of idiocy. So I had to find an alternate plan."

"How clever."

"You still haven't answered me."

"Imagine that."

Kurama seemed unperturbed by Hiei's sour tone, or his glare. The fox just sat there, looking at him calmly, waiting for an answer Hiei was in no way prepared to give. Bloody hell--this is why I don't fight him! Because he's so insufferably patient, and five steps ahead of me. I was supposed to not have to fight him.

And yet, here they were--locked in battle, and Kurama had a sound advantage. Hiei was not used to Kurama's style of battle--he preferred to win with brute strength, rather than plot his strategy around the enemy's. But this time, neatly trussed up and tied to the bed, there was no hope of anything resembling victory until he could put Kurama on the defensive. He would have to do this Kurama's way.

But so far, Kurama seemed disinclined to allow Hiei to do anything other than parry. He spoke before Hiei could think things through very far. "Hiei, help me to understand. I can't believe that after our first meeting, after I told you that you talked in your sleep, you would ever discount it again. So I have to believe you started sleeping in here because you honestly didn't care if I heard you. Up to that point I'm fairly certain of my conclusions. But if you don't care that I know you love me, why are you denying it now?"

"I don't love you," Hiei growled.

"Are you suggesting your unconscious self lies?"

"I'm suggesting you lie."

"Honestly, Hiei, I would rather be asleep right now that doing this. I don't have a reason to make this up."

"What exactly is it that you claim I say?" Hiei almost managed to pull off the intended amount of disdain in that question, but the tiniest quaver of his voice crept in, indicating that he really needed to know. Most of their friends would not have heard it--Hiei himself did not so much hear it as feel it--but he knew Kurama would notice.

Kurama regarded him without speaking for a moment, apparently deciding how to answer. Finally, he spoke plainly and evenly. "You tell me you need me. Want me. You say that you don't want to be apart from me. You ask me to hold you, and to love you. And you say you love me."

That was worse than Hiei could have imagined it. He was forced to look away, pretend disinterest. "Is it true?" Kurama inquired.


"Then why do you say it?"

Hiei fixed his gaze on the window and schooled his face into an indifferent expression he knew he could hold, and said nothing. "Hiei?" Kurama pressed.

"I won't speak to you. Not until you let me go. This is absurd."

"Fair enough." Kurama stood, seeming perfectly at ease, as though he had anticipated this. "It is, of course, your decision." He left the room.

Hiei anticipated him returning in a moment or two with some new form of persuasion, though he dreaded to think what it might be. He couldn't imagine being further humiliated--or rather, he couldn't imagine a further means of humiliation that Kurama would employ against him. Kurama did have his own sense of honor, even if it differed from Hiei's.

Then the moment stretched on, and on, and Hiei realized what Kurama's strategy was. To leave him here until he agreed to talk.

God damn him.

Hiei tried escaping again, but without much hope. Kurama knew Hiei well enough to anticipate every method of escape he might try, and Hiei knew Kurama well enough to know they were all sealed off. Kurama was nothing if not thorough.

And inevitably, as the fox had no doubt planned, after he had lain there for awhile with no hope of escape through physical prowess, he started to think about Kurama's questions.Why had he started sleeping here, anyway? Everything he had said to Kurama was true--it was safe, it was more comfortable than a tree branch, it was convenient. And he was truly concerned with Kurama's safety as well; even though he knew better than most exactly how well Kurama could take care of himself, it didn't stop him from worrying. And I know exactly how clever he is, and how observant. I know how I feel, and I know I talk in my sleep. How in hell did I not see this happening?

There was no excuse for such a lapse. He could have told himself that he had believed some things too secret to be spoken of even in sleep, but he knew from the aforementioned Yukina incident that that wasn't true. He could have claimed he didn't care what Kurama knew, but he obviously did. Maybe I wanted him to find out.

Displaying a spectacular knack for bad timing, it was right as Hiei had that thought that Kurama came back into the room. "Ready to talk?"

Hiei looked at him mutely and resentfully. Kurama turned around and started to leave again, and Hiei found himself calling, "Fox.'

Kurama turned halfway back, looking at him expectantly; but Hiei didn't know what more to say. His tone had already asked Kurama not to leave. After a moment Kurama raised an eyebrow. "I honestly don't care how long this takes, Hiei. Are you ready to answer my questions, or should I find something else to do?"

Hiei didn't answer. Because he was not ready to answer Kurama's questions, but neither did he wish for Kurama to leave.

Kurama watched him impassively, waiting for an answer. But just when Hiei would have expected him to turn and leave again, his expression shifted very slightly. The stern façade slipped--not far enough for Hiei to see what Kurama was really thinking, but far enough that when Kurama crossed over to his desk chair and sat down, Hiei knew that had not been part of the plan. He was grateful that Kurama's affection for him had caused him to slip. Kurama was not infallible; his emotions were his weakness.

And who are you to call another's emotions weakness, when your own have landed you here? This is not a victory on your part; it is a concession on Kurama's.

"Something you wanted to say?" Kurama asked quietly. Hiei shook his head--no, there was nothing he could say to get out of this that he actually wanted to say. "Then there's something you want me to say?" Hiei looked at him in confusion. "Why did you stop me?"

"I'm bored."

"Me too. Maybe we should talk about the weather."

"How did you fireproof this rope?"

"Understand that as soon as it's not restraining you I'll be willing to answer; but if I tell you now, you may find a weakness in it that I did not."

"How did you keep me asleep while you were doing it?"


"How long have you been planning this?"

"I already answered that. Your memory's rather short tonight."

Hiei turned his face to the window again. It had started to rain; how cliché. "A long time," he muttered.

"I don't--"

"Your question. A long time."

There was silence. Hiei didn't dare to look at Kurama's face, so he kept his gaze where it was, and let the fox absorb the shock of suddenly receiving an answer. "How long a time?" Kurama finally asked.

Hiei carefully followed the paths the raindrops were taking down the windowsill, watching them meet up and split apart; focusing his mind on it because the only way he could give the answers required to get out of here was if he didn't think about it. "I became aware of it sometime around the Dark Tournament. I can't be more specific than that. Now turn me loose."

"No. That's not my only question."

Angry heat flared around the bed. "Goddammit, Kurama--!"

"Hiei, I meant it when I said I knew I'd never get another opportunity like this. It would be foolish of me to let you go while I still have questions. Like when the hell you were planning on telling me, for example."

Kurama's tone was completely changed--where before he had been calm, now his words were sharp and angry. Hiei risked a glance at his face and found fury there. He didn't know what to make of it. Speaking the answers had taken a lot out of him, and after that one burst of anger he felt limp and defeated, letting his arms hang loosely over his head. He looked away, again, from the person who held so much power over him--the power of his current binding being the least of it. But he put spirit into his reply; Kurama would not know how much speaking the truth had cost him. "Who ever said I was planning on telling you?"

"Why wouldn't you?"

"Why would I?"

"Well, it is customary. But disregarding that, how do you expect anything to come of it if you keep something like that a secret from me?"

"See, that's your problem. You think I expect something to come of it."

"So you won't even give me a chance?"

Unbidden, Hiei's gaze returned to his partner. He was too surprised by the cold fury in Kurama's voice, by the way he was glaring daggers at him, to keep from looking. "Why are you so angry with me?" he wondered aloud.

"Because, you--you--" Kurama couldn't even find the words for his pique. "Because you kept secrets from me. Because you assumed that I scorn you, that I couldn't ever feel that way about you. Because you don't even want to try. I despise you, Hiei, I really do, and it's for every reason you would never think, because the things you think I despise you for are the things I love you for. But even knowing that, even knowing that I've loved you for years I don't except you to let me love you, and that's why I hate you."

"…That was… complicated."

"Yes." Kurama's fury seemed to have spent itself in the torrent of words; he was calm and casual again, but he was also now the one with his gaze fixed on the window, to avoid his partner's eyes. "Emotions can be."

Pursuing the shift in the conversation towards Kurama and away from himself--delighted to finally be on the offensive--Hiei asked, "So which is it, fox, do you love me or hate me?"

"Believe me, Hiei, I am entirely capable of doing both."

"Seems like such a waste of energy."

"You should talk," Kurama shot back, clearly agitated past the point of suaveness. "You're so tied up in knots over it that it disturbs your sleep nearly every night. At least I've kept my head."

Hiei made a small, limp gesture with his hands, this being the most he could move them. "You call this keeping your head?"

Kurama's eyes flashed; with sudden speed, he darted from the chair and to the bed, and Hiei, realizing he'd pushed too far, tensed in expectation of a blow. "Shut up," Kurama growled, leaning down to--

Oh hell. Hiei didn't realize Kurama meant to kiss him until a second before he was, and consequently was unable to evade. He wasn't angry enough to bite, and so he remained frozen and did his best to ignore the flood of turbulent feelings such a gentle, emotional touch from Kurama could provoke in him. End this, Kurama, before I lose control.

After a moment of non-response from Hiei, Kurama pulled back enough to deliver a glare. "Just how stubborn do you intend to be about this?"

"I don't want this." I can't believe this--I'm stammering!!

"So help me, Hiei, I will keep you tied here until you stop lying to me, I don't care if it takes a century. I'm sick of it. I deserve to hear the truth from you at least once."

Feeling a bit wounded, Hiei pointed out, "I don't lie to you all the time. Just about--this."

"Hiei, I really don't understand how you can trust me enough to fight next to me and sleep next to me, but not to kiss me."

"It's not trust!" Hiei was alarmed to hear genuine hurt eclipsing anger in Kurama's tone. "It's not--Kurama, this is ridiculous, I'm not going to lie here and try to convince you I trust you. You know better."

"If it's not trust, what is it?"

"Would you… get off me, while we have this conversation?"

"No." Kurama was lying on top of him, and had been since the abortive kiss. "Why, is it making you uncomfortable?"

Hiei glared, but Kurama had long ago grown impervious to Hiei's glares on account of being such a frequent recipient of them. "I won't answer you while you're there."

"Should I infer that if I move, you will answer me?"

Hiei hesitated for a moment. Might as well. "Yes."

Kurama blinked in surprise--then lifted himself completely off of Hiei, sitting back on his heels at the foot of the bed. He gave Hiei a look that clearly said, Now start talking.

Hiei fixed his gaze yet again on the window--which he would be exiting by soon, if he had any say in it--and again tried to force himself to speak without thinking. It was more difficult this time, because he didn't really know the answer, or at least had never put it into words. To find the right words without thinking about them was difficult. "I'm not lying to you, when I say I don't want this. It's a half truth. Of course I… I mean, being in love would imply that…" A surge of irritation, at his situation and at not being able to finish a sentence, gripped Hiei, and since he wasn't thinking about what he was saying the irritation took over. "You overwhelm me, Kurama, do you know how badly that pisses me off? That you beat me when you're not even trying to? You overwhelm me constantly--every time I think I've got this thing under control, every time I think I understand you, you do something and it starts all over again. I can't control it, so all I can do is live with it. I don't want to need anything, much less a person, someone independent who could hurt me so easily just by--I never ever considered that love was a possibility for someone like me, and I don't have any use for it. I can't fight it, but I don't want it."

When Hiei stopped speaking Kurama was quiet for a moment, head tilted down so Hiei couldn't read his expression, apparently absorbing everything that had been said. "Thank you for answering," he finally said quietly. From another person that sentence might have come out as hurtful or sarcastic, but Hiei knew from Kurama it was genuine. Kurama always made a point of giving thanks when Hiei had done something difficult for Kurama's sake, and the fox must have known how near to impossible it was for Hiei to say all that.

Feeling that they were done here, Hiei was about to make another verbal bid for freedom when Kurama suddenly unfolded himself and returned to his earlier position stretched out over Hiei. Just as soon as indignation swept in, Hiei realized--That goddamned fox, he didn't promise to stay moved!

He would have voiced his anger, but before he could do so he found himself being kissed again. He deeply considered biting--was angry enough to, but even through the fury it felt good. He wound up holding his head still while the rest of his body flailed; his emotions were completely muddled by the time Kurama broke the kiss to say with exasperation, "Hiei, please stop kicking me. It's really not polite when you're being kissed."

"It's not polite to tie someone to the bed either!!"

Hiei suddenly realized how much trouble he was in when a very Youko-esque smile spread across his partner's face. "Oh, I don't know about that--some people beg for it."

"If you think that for one fucking second--"

"Hiei, please don't challenge me when it comes to sex. I have a proud streak that would force me to prove that I can make you beg, but you'd hate me afterwards and that's not what I'm trying to achieve here."

Hiei stared at Kurama, dumbfounded. All the anger was gone; the fox seemed almost chipper. How could he be so unaffected, when Hiei had just poured his heart out? "If you don't want me to hate you, let me go. Now."

"But if I do that, you'll leave. And right now I'm not sure if I'd ever see you again. I'm not okay with that."

Hiei hated Kurama right now. He was nearly as pulled together as he had been at the start of this battle, whereas Hiei was steadily disintegrating to the point that he no longer knew how he felt about what was happening, no longer knew if he even wanted to leave. If this was a battle, Kurama was thrashing him. He had Hiei at a distinct disadvantage, emotionally…

… not to mention, he was still tied to the bed.

Kurama was looking at him like he expected Hiei to say something now. Hiei looked back at him while scrambling for some sort of response, and found a small smile hiding in the corners of Kurama's mouth. It irked him. "So you're happy now, are you?"

"Yes." Kurama was unapologetic. "I learned what I needed to know."

"Congratulations. Then you can let me--off this--damned bed--" The pauses in Hiei's speech were due to necessity, as he furiously turned his head from side to side trying to evade Kurama's renewed attempts to kiss him. "Stop--"

It was no good. He could only evade for so long, and when Kurama did manage to kiss him his body betrayed him. Because it was the only touch designed to bring pleasure that he had ever felt--and on top of that, it was Kurama who was giving it to him. And for just one moment, he stopped fighting completely. It was brief, but Hiei knew Kurama would feel the difference in his body. He could almost wish Kurama didn't know him so well.

When Kurama took his mouth from Hiei's it was not to comment on Hiei's submission, but rather to ask, "You haven't done this before, have you?"

"Been tied to the bed? Absolutely not."

"Kissed someone."

"No," Hiei said defiantly. "Why would I? I don't like people."

"You like me."

"I like the detective too, and you don't see me--"

"You love me," Kurama interrupted. "And I love you. I don't see any reason in the world we shouldn't kiss."

Hiei didn't reply. Kurama hovered above him, their faces close but not touching, but Hiei refused to meet his eyes. He had been able to ignore it when Kurama had mentioned love in his earlier tirade on the various ways in which he loved and hated Hiei, but now he couldn't pretend the fox hadn't said what he had. Gradually, the effect of Kurama's words became more and more obvious, in the increasing rapidness of Hiei's breath and the blinking of his eyes.

"Hiei." Hiei closed his eyes against the understanding in Kurama's voice, and the sorrow--a mixture that was dangerously close to pity. "Hiei, I love you."

"Stop." Hiei's teeth were gritted; Kurama would hear and feel the tension. "Just stop it, fox."

Kurama made a negative noise, and began pressing gentle, unhurried kisses along Hiei's face and neck. "Stop. Let me go." Hiei was aware how unconvincing his own tone was becoming.

Kurama paused in his exploration to kiss Hiei's lips again, briefly. "No," he murmured against them. "I won't let you go."

Hiei heard both meanings, as he was meant to. Unable to come up with a rejoinder, he muttered weakly, "Stupid fox."

Kurama smiled at the insult. He kissed Hiei again, deeper, and Hiei didn't bother to put up a fight this time. He was well out of control of the situation, and they both knew it. When Kurama spoke next his tone was reassuring, not combative, because the victory was already his. "I can empathize with your terror of losing control to someone; I admit that loving gives the loved one immense power. But you haven't made the connection that this isn't some random, unknown individual you've given this power to. It's just me."

Hiei blinked at him, and Kurama smiled. "Whatever power I have over you, I have absolutely no interest in using it. It is a matter of trust, Hiei, no matter what you say, and you should know that this isn't any more dangerous than the thousand times you've let me guard you in battle. I have never wanted to hurt you."

Hiei continued to look at Kurama mutely. He had, in truth, never looked at it that way before--never brought his intense fear of this emotion and his equally intense trust in Kurama to the same playing field, so to speak. He didn't know how to respond. "Whether you believe it or not, I do love you, and that gives you the same power to harm me," Kurama continued. "So we can stay terrified of each other and continue to fight it and eventually lose, or we can remember that in addition to love we genuinely like each other, and trust each other, so there's really no reason to fear. I highly recommend the second option," Kurama added, with a glint of humor in his eyes.

Hiei only wanted to know one thing. "How can you be so fucking calm about all this?"

"Calm?" Kurama echoed with a smile, a different kind than the charming ones he had been using all night--the kind that Hiei had always known, without dwelling too much on it, were reserved only for him. "I think I've lost three or four decades off my life in the last few hours. You know this is just how I cope. Also, since it's you and me, I don't see any need for dramatics."

Hiei made another limp gesture with his hands, and looked at Kurama pointedly.

The genuine smile turned into a sheepish grin. "Okay--maybe some dramatics." He kissed Hiei, languidly. "Can I help it if you look terrific like that?" Another kiss. "Besides, how else was I to make you stay and listen?"

"I'm sure there was another way," Hiei grumbled, half-heartedly evading the kisses.

"Let me know when you think of it."

"Fox--stop," Hiei muttered awkwardly.

"No." Kurama had moved his mouth to Hiei's earlobe now, and was gently exploring, testing Hiei's reaction to each touch. "You really do look fantastic like this, and I really do think it's the only chance I'll ever have to tie you to the bed. I don't plan on wasting it."

"I am not ready to do this."

"That's a shame. Because I want to very badly, and seeing as how you're tied to the bed--"

"Fox!! You aren't playing fair!"

"Never claimed I was." Even the most arrogant of Kurama's smiles was beautiful--how infuriating. "Do feel free to attack me at any time," Kurama added, before leaning down to kiss Hiei's chest.

Hiei couldn't attack him. His mobility was too limited to make any sort of physical attack effective, and he couldn't use any of his energy attacks--including just setting the damned rope on fire and the bed with it--because it would cause serious damage to Kurama, damage he was not willing to inflict. Furthermore, Kurama knew all this, so his invitation to Hiei to attack him had been nothing more than a reminder that Hiei couldn't. Insufferable, gloating fox.

Kurama's fingers joined his mouth on Hiei's chest, and Hiei felt his body heat up so much that for a moment he was afraid he actually had started one of his energy attacks without meaning to. "How long--have you been planning this?" he panted, well aware that he had already asked that question more than once--but any statement or question that was coherent was looking pretty good to him right now, anything that might delay Kurama long enough for Hiei to pull himself together.

"Long time," Kurama replied absently, nuzzling Hiei's chest. "I was afraid to--didn't want you to hate me."

He moved his mouth over to Hiei's nipple and sucked gently, and any response Hiei might have made was lost in a moan. He pulled hard against the bonds, more out of reflex than anything, while Kurama continued to tease the nipple with his tongue, licking and circling while using his hands to gently caress Hiei's chest and abdomen. "And--what made you--think I wouldn't?" Hiei panted, still tugging futilely at the rope.

Kurama released his nipple long enough to inquire, "Do you?"


"Didn't think so. Now please stop talking, Hiei, I have to stop what I'm doing to answer and I know there's better ways I can be using my mouth right now."

"I sti--" Hiei hissed at a bite, not particularly gentle and excruciatingly pleasurable. "I ha-aave… ah… ques… I…"

"You're not coherent, love," Kurama informed him affectionately. "Maybe you should give it up."

Hiei did not give up. He did still have questions, and he intended to ask them all--and he would get straight answers, too. He was not defeated; he was merely postponing the inquisition.

Hell with it. You're not even fooling yourself; you're certainly not fooling him.

Kurama was making use of Hiei's momentary lack of resistance to get rid of every article of clothing that had remained on either of their bodies. Despite their long association, Hiei had never seen Kurama naked. He doubted anyone had since Kurama had gained control of Shuichi's motor functions; the fox was ruthlessly modest. Hiei was not, and had been naked in front of Kurama frequently.

So it wasn't when Kurama made it past Hiei's belts and stripped his pants away that Hiei's breath hitched and refused to start again; it was when Kurama took off the last of his own clothes, and Hiei could finally and for the first time truly see him. Part of Hiei's mind desperately tried to analyze him like a fighter, told him to look for the strengths and weaknesses in Kurama's body--but what was the point, anymore? Hiei was tied to the bed, had been thoroughly beaten in both the verbal maneuvering and emotional battle, and was completely in Kurama's power. So what did it matter if he thought that Kurama was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, more beautiful than any god or angel; why should it matter if he wanted him, so badly he couldn't breathe? There was no point to fighting what he'd already lost to.

Kurama seemed to sense this final, silent surrender; he lost the playfulness he had more or less maintained throughout the evening, the gently amused determination that had served to simultaneously tell Hiei he was not going to win and that it was okay to lose. In its place Hiei felt a level of need that easily matched his own, unmasked and unapologetic. He welcomed it.

Without the surrender Kurama had so carefully won from him Hiei would have soon been terrified by the intensity of the reactions Kurama was able to put his body through; but since he'd already established that Kurama was controlling this, he was able to let himself experience them. Between Hiei's utter and complete lack of experience with any pleasurable kind of touch, and Kurama's mastery of just such touches, Hiei was soon largely incoherent, only aware of scattered, disconnected parts of what was happening. Aware that Kurama's teeth were set here, and causing that unbearable excruciating edge between pain and pleasure that Hiei always sought for himself, only Kurama kept him balanced on the pleasure side of it; aware that his hand was stroking there, and it was creating fire unlike any that Hiei had experienced. No words were spoken; they were both too out of breath, and perhaps too overwhelmed. Hiei had thought, as a fighter, that he understood his own body; but Kurama could make pleasure come from the most unexpected of touches, in places on his body Hiei had never even paid attention to, and yet every touch felt natural and right.

Hiei's only complaint was that he didn't have a hand free. Before, when Kurama had been so insistent on kissing him, he had turned aside; now that Kurama was doing other things, he would have given anything to be able to grab a handful of Kurama's hair and haul the fox's mouth back up to kissing distance. He would have even lowered his pride enough to ask, but he had somehow lost the ability to speak--all he could make were little incomprehensible whining noises. Kurama was making similar noises, but Hiei felt they sounded much better coming from the fox.

Hiei was unsurprised and way beyond the point of protest when Kurama began gently fingering his chest, something cool and slick coating his fingers. He was not ignorant of the ways men loved one another; he had, in point of fact, spent many a night lying six inches away from Kurama and thinking about such things, wondering all the ways he might touch him if he only dared. Some perverse part of him screamed in gladness that Kurama had taken the choice away from him. Would I ever have dared? Could I have done what he did? It doesn't seem to make a difference how much I learn; Kurama is always proving himself stronger than me.

Kurama managed to pant the first words in many minutes--another thing Hiei didn't have the strength to do--to warn Hiei that the next part would be painful. Hiei dismissed this with a shrug, a scowl, and a few incoherent noises that despite their lack of resemblance to words seemed to communicate to Kurama how little the thought of pain mattered to Hiei. Kurama didn't hesitate any further.

Hiei closed his eyes as Kurama began to enter him, caught up in the pleasure and pain and the concept of consenting to another's taking of his body; but Kurama's fingers immediately stroked the side of his face, a silent entreaty, and Hiei opened his eyes and looked at him.

He knew immediately that if Kurama had ever once looked at him like this before, anytime they were sitting around next to each other or on a mission or even in the middle of a bloody tournament, Hiei would not have hesitated--he would have dropped everything, grabbed Kurama and run off with him. This was not a look that could be misinterpreted; and it was not something Hiei had any intention of allowing anyone but himself to ever see. It was love and lust and a deep desire mixed with a deeper understanding, and Hiei recognized as soon as he saw it that this was how he was also looking at Kurama, that Kurama would see a reflection of it in Hiei's own eyes, because the way Kurama looked was how Hiei felt. How could they have denied this for as long as they had?

Then the moment was past, and Hiei was swept up in physical pleasure again. He was halfway aware that he was still instinctively trying to free his hands, but he knew that he meant to free them to pull Kurama closer, not push him away. While his upper boy struggled, his lower body bucked and twisted and tried to pull Kurama deeper; Kurama accepted both reactions equally. Hiei could have cried for relief when the fox abandoned pressing kisses against his shoulder, his torso, his neck, and finally kissed his mouth again. He returned the kiss without restraint, and felt Kurama smiling around it.

Some sort of pressure was building; Hiei couldn't tell whether it was pleasurable or painful, but even though a moment ago he had been desperate to be kissed he suddenly found he needed to pull his mouth away from Kurama and get some air. But Kurama refused to allow the kiss to be broken, using his hand on Hiei's face and the force of his own mouth to prevent Hiei from turning away, instead kissing deeper. Hiei could not breathe, and he needed to desperately; the lack of air quickly narrowed his whole world down to Kurama, the only thing he couldn't help but be aware of, and he could feel the pressure suddenly boiling up and consuming him--

He couldn't see. For a moment, everything was really and truly gone, even Kurama, and there was only a blinding pleasure that seemed to rush through every pore and leave an exhilarating shakiness in its wake. He felt Kurama shaking also, and the warmth inside him that let him know Kurama had also reached the height of his pleasure. Hiei was glad, but it was a detached feeling; he almost felt as though he'd left his body, during that most intense moment of pleasure, and that it would take another moment or two to settle back into it.

He was brought back before he was ready, by a stinging in his wrists that demanded attention. Kurama had untied the rope, and blood was rushing back through the constricted vessels. Hiei looked at Kurama, and for the first time all night saw fear in his eyes.

Hiei considered his options briefly. Then he made full use of his regained mobility by stretching, long and thorough, and then lazily wrapping his arms around Kurama and pulling him close, settling against him.

Kurama let his breath out; Hiei's face was hidden against Kurama's neck, but he could sense both the relief and the smile that accompanied that exhale. Kurama wrapped his arms around Hiei in turn, and a small kiss was pressed to his forehead. Hiei thought about returning it, but decided that he didn't have the energy required to move again. He could sense exhaustion pouring from Kurama, too--after all, they had both gone through quite a lot this evening--there was no shame, really, in taking a brief nap…

Hiei did not wake up until several hours later, with dawn spilling through the window. He was disoriented for a moment, and then remembered pleasure flowed through him and he pressed closer to the warm body that he appeared to be sleeping on top of. Reflecting on the events of the night before, a small part of him demanded that he be furious at having been outwitted so badly; but he ignored it, and took several moments to bask in his defeat.

Then he propped himself up on his elbows, studying Kurama. The poor fox had clearly been even more exhausted than Hiei by last night--after all, he had had to plan all that out in addition to going through it. No wonder he was dead to the world. Hiei's first reaction was fondness; then, mischief. He spoke Kurama's name quietly, and when the kitsune didn't even twitch Hiei retrieved the rope from the floor and started examining it.

Turnabout was, after all, fair play.