Disclaimer: In my wildest dreams I own YYH. But in my wildest dreams, secret episodes exist in which Hiei violently makes out with Yusuke, Kuwabara has powers over fish, and Kurama is frequently seen in tight black leather and suspenders with nothing underneath them. … We all know that I don't own YYH from that.

Summary: Yusuke contemplates Hiei and Kurama, and wonders if he actually did have a chance with the fox demon. He wished it wasn't so easy for him to realize he didn't, when that chance was so far from his grasp. Hiei/Yusuke, one-sided Yusuke/Kurama.

Warnings: … Uh, shounen-ai. And present tense.

Author's Note: My first posted fic here, and also my attempt at a different writing style than usual, typed at 5:00 AM in the morning without any previous sleep in the past fifteen hours. It's been revised a little now. Reviews will be greeted with love from both me and my Kurama plushie, but go easy on us, kthnx?

Compensation

Yusuke decides that comparing Hiei and Kurama isn't so unusual when he sees them together so much. He can't help it when they contrast each other so badly. There's the physical differences, the obvious: Hiei is short, Kurama is tall. Hiei's musculature makes him look slightly stocky for his height; Kurama is slender, willowy, and that makes him look taller than he actually is. Hiei is nearly all angles, and while Kurama does have them, his are much softer, curved in a way. Hiei's eyes are small and deep red; Kurama's eyes are large and bright green. And there's the hair, of course.

Then there were the bits behind the physicality, the less obvious: Kurama's warmth, Hiei's coldness. Kurama is at constant ease with his smile, while the chance at seeing Hiei's is a prize to be earned, and could only be earned after endurance of his continuous critiquing. Therein lay another difference--Kurama's speech is formal and soft-spoken, always (almost prudishly, Yusuke sometimes thought) tactful; Hiei snapped whatever is his opinion, hurtful or not, whenever he damn well feels like it. And as much as the demon irritates him at times, Yusuke admires that trait about him.

Yusuke finds it strange the two could stand each other with those differences. But he finds it even stranger that despite all the friendship they supposedly had, he has never seen them laugh around each other. Not even once. Kurama jokes at times, but Hiei is too stubborn to chuckle, or even let out one of those bitter snorts of his, and Yusuke wonders if that ever bothers him. They both seem too serious--it's almost maddening.

He makes a mental resolution to make them both laugh sometime.

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Yusuke decides he likes Hiei's laugh. It was hard to get an actual laugh out of him--it was harder to know whether or not Hiei was actually listening--but he knew that after realizing snapping and struggling wasn't going to work, Hiei eventually forced himself to tolerate Yusuke's presence, and with even more reluctant slowness grew to enjoy it. He now laughs at things Yusuke doesn't expect him to, at silly things like his comments on the weather or at stories of people he knows. He has a deep laugh, a short laugh, but it is one that seems vaguely childish, and Yusuke wonders if Hiei actually laughed once or even at all when he was a child. He doubts it, and Yusuke thinks he will try to make Hiei laugh at least once every time he sees him.

But Yusuke loves Kurama's laugh. He loves it because Kurama laughs so easily, or maybe he only does so because Yusuke himself is so very ridiculous he can't help it, and at it's softest it sounds like the ring of a bell. At it's loudest, it is silver, like wind chimes, full and young and clear. To Yusuke, it is the most lucid part of Kurama--everything else is clouded, hidden behind his smile in a way that, even now, he's never quite sure of what Kurama is thinking. But through his laugh, Yusuke can tell without doubt he is happy, or at the very least amused.

He thinks that this is a good thing, that both sounds should be made heard more often, and makes a mental resolution to keep them laughing.

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Yusuke decides that Hiei has interesting eyes. They are already an interesting color--never has he seen anyone with red eyes before--, but Hiei thinks his fascination is foolish, saying that people always thought his eyes were merely intimidating. He thinks Hiei's eyes are made to be intimidating; they are blood-red, with almost cat-like pupils, and they are narrowed in a way that makes him look perpetually angry. He always used to think that Hiei's eyes were cold because of it. In actuality, they are not--his glares intensify the livid spark within them, and even in his rare calm moments, and his even rarer happy ones, the spark never dims entirely, only shifts and expands with his mercurial mood swings. His eyes are always burning, and Yusuke finds the play of flames a good distraction when he is the one subject to said swings.

He also decides that Kurama has interesting eyes. He has seen people with green eyes before, but none with the same shade of green that Kurama has, and it is a shade Yusuke likes--green has always been his favorite color. But he has come to notice that shade of green shifts with Kurama's moods; bottle green when cheerful, emerald at his norm, dark jade when upset and a cold, bruised viridian when angry. Yusuke hasn't seen the latter shades often, and for this he is grateful. He prefers the bottle green or the emerald--it suits Kurama's large eyes and long eyelashes better. But there is something about those eyes that is too… ancient to be considered childish, and when Kurama thought no one was looking, they were always sad. Yusuke remembers that the very first time he saw Kurama, the first thing that hit him about the man was the thousand-year-old sadness reflected so vividly in his eyes.

Yusuke is glad that he can make Kurama laugh so easily, so that he doesn't have to see that sadness as much. And he is also glad that, even with his temper, Hiei doesn't seem as angry anymore. Yusuke and Hiei still argue often, but it is in a way that he knows they can both smile at later--smirk at, as was often Hiei's case.

He makes a mental resolution never to stop trying to make the both of them laugh.

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Yusuke decides to finally admit, only to himself, that Hiei is handsome. He was sure everyone else knew it, most especially the girls, and even the guys--most especially Kuwabara--were probably grudgingly aware of it as well. He only started thinking about it during a visit to Yukina at the temple earlier that morning, one that he had dragged Hiei along for, and the contemplation officially began when the two siblings were seated across from each other, in front of the breakfast Yukina insisted they have before leaving. Yusuke had always thought they were polar opposites until that moment, and while biting at an interestingly flavored piece of sausage, he suddenly realized there are, in fact, some similarities between the two. Their eyes, in color and spark (though Hiei's was more obvious), were the same, as were their noses and lips, both of which were small and short like a young child's. Their heights were obviously the same, Yusuke made sure as they both stood up--scarily at the same time--, and he surprised himself in noticing that they both had the same hips. This made him snicker; Hiei had feminine hips…! But as bewildered as his admission is, through the comparison he finally realized Hiei shared some of Yukina's good looks, as she shared some of his; that they really did share something other than blood.

Kurama, on the other hand, Yusuke had always known was beautiful, a fact that he admitted long since their first meeting. He thinks his quickness to say so was because of that beauty's near androgyny; Kurama's features are strikingly soft and delicate for either a male or female. (He is grateful to his gut instinct for pointing out the fox was actually male after a split second.) But after the initial shock, Yusuke had just accepted it as a good trait and didn't think much else of it, only bringing it up when it needed defense; yet now his beauty is something that his mind has been pointing out with increasing frequency, to the point of calling it to blatant notice whenever he dared even talk to Kurama. He has been catching himself staring longer than necessary lately, admiring longer than necessary; and afterwards, he wonders why this is happening, then wonders if it's wrong, then wonders if Kurama notices. No, Yusuke is sure Kurama notices--Kurama notices everything--, so instead he wonders if Kurama is disgusted by it, or thinks he's a freak, or something around those lines. He hopes not, and his sudden fear of Kurama condemning him for thinking such strangely-not-platonic things scares him more than the fear itself. After all, Kurama hasn't even said nor done anything to imply such revulsion yet.

He is starting to think he should stop hanging around them so much; maybe he should spend more time with Keiko, with Botan, or even his mother for "quality bonding". But he knows he has grown more attached than he ever thought he would, and that by this point he could never go through with the idea without trying to seek them out again.

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Yusuke decides that Hiei's increasing niceness is becoming slightly frightening. Hiei smiles more, which is good, and he laughs more, which is better. But he has come to accommodate Yusuke in a very unusual welcoming kind of way, speaking to him with less sharpness and even taking the role of seeking Yusuke out instead of the other way around. Yusuke enjoys Hiei's company and is glad he's finally opening up to him, but the main source of his disturbance is the volume of that revelation. Even after Hiei accepted his practice of referring to him as "homeboy", "peep", and other variations of "friend" with just a half-hearted protest, Yusuke still expected himself to endlessly prod the demon if he wanted any sort of semblance of a decent conversation. He hadn't expected Hiei to willingly initiate them himself. Yusuke eventually decides that this isn't such a bad thing--a mildly creepy thing, but not bad, and he becomes used to seeing Hiei waiting by his window to talk every other morning.

He somewhat wishes Kurama's behavior changed toward him as drastically as Hiei's did. Kurama still smiles at him as he does for everyone else, but probably the only change is that he laughs more around him than anyone else, which Yusuke is proud of. But Kurama doesn't take extra measures just to greet him each morning, doesn't make it a point to see him after lunch each afternoon, and doesn't purposely take the path around his house after school just to have a daily excuse to say goodnight... Yusuke thinks he is becoming too obsessed by this point. And he is definitely sure Kurama notices. He also thinks he's becoming paranoid in thinking that Kurama takes the exact opposite measures to avoid him, at least after school, when he begins seeing him less and less. And still he has that underlying fear that Kurama is repulsed by him and that Yusuke may lose him because of it, and with each day, with each time he doesn't see him, he fears the thought all the more.

Never did he want to admit so many weaknesses, but Yusuke hates lying to himself; the truth is always there no matter what possible tactic you take to hide it. And as impossible as the idea would have seemed to him a year ago, in the same way, he knows that now he cannot deny the possibility that he may have actually fallen for Kurama.

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Yusuke decides that Hiei might be going through the male demon form of a human woman's pre-menstrual period. The fire of his eyes is out of control, and he is suddenly moody again, suddenly snapping again, and refuses to let Yusuke walk out in the streets in living daylight alone. He is almost tyrannically over-protective of him, and the air of it is more like a jealous lover than a brother or good friend as Yusuke had expected it would be. He thinks he should stop expecting things of Hiei now, as Hiei seems to be able to read those expectations and nearly always chooses instead to defy them. But Yusuke knows Hiei well by this point, and as unfamiliar as his actions may be in comparison to his norm, he strangely doesn't find it odd to suspect Hiei might have developed an attraction toward him; for some of those actions mirror the ones he himself has taken (in great pains) for Kurama. Yusuke isn't sure what to think about that, and he tries to protest against it at times, but Hiei is too snappy to listen. He decides that if he really wanted to crush Hiei's hopes for a mutual attraction, it was better he say it when the demon was reasonable. They argued too often and made up too quickly for any bickering to make much of an effect.

He is somewhat reluctant to admit that, again on other hand, Kurama still remains so incredibly familiar that it is both relieving and frustrating for him. It's a relief for the fact their relationship is completely unchanged and Kurama doesn't seem to loathe him for his thoughts, still remaining very close, nearby, and soundly there, but that very sameness is made frustrating in knowing that Kurama does know about his thoughts--Yusuke knew without a doubt he already did--and continues to feign obliviousness. Either Kurama is too shy to speak of his possible mutual affection, which Yusuke doubts, or he cares too much to want to crush him so completely, which Yusuke is quite sure of.

He feels guilty for wanting to do so to Hiei, since he knows the both of them would prefer to hold onto any kind of hope in such situations just as an excuse to stay close. They are similar in that way, and Yusuke cannot give him--or Kurama--up because of it.

But he begins to wonder if giving up would be a much less painful option.

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Yusuke isn't sure what to decide anymore. Hiei has grown impatient with "beating around the bush", as he calls it, and declared his attraction in a voice so monotone he would be more enthusiastic in reading prices off a grocery receipt, which he didn't even know how to read. But Yusuke knows it's just an act; Hiei doesn't want to seem vulnerable in saying such a poignant phrase that could be crushed in little more or less than four words, doesn't want to show how pained he would be if it was--doesn't want to show he finally gave in to loving someone. Yusuke tries to follow suit with the charade, keeping it light by teasing him as he always does, then tells him "I'll think about it", and Yusuke can see the smallest flash of relief through Hiei's eyes. Hearing a maybe was better than a flat-out rejection.

He desperately wants to hear at least a maybe from Kurama. Of course a yes would be preferred, but he would be happy enough if a maybe was all he could get. He visits Kurama as soon as possible, now more than ever thinking he's painfully, strikingly beautiful, and resists the urge to immediately blurt out a confession on the spot to instead casually talk with him as always. Yusuke's frustration toward their familiarity is completely gone now, and he embraces the ease of it all, how easily they talk, how easily they smile, how easily they laugh.

How easily it slips out of his mouth.

Kurama stops. For a split second, Yusuke wonders if his hopes have a chance. He wonders if, possibly, he would get a "maybe". But the hope fades as quickly as Kurama's eyes do. He wonders why he even thought he had one in the first place, when Kurama was always so obviously far out of his grasp, was always careful not to give him too much hope, but not to be so aloof he destroys him either--he cared about him enough for that, but never loved. And Yusuke wishes more than ever that things weren't so easy with Kurama, that everything wasn't so easy to say around him, that it hadn't been so easy for them to become so close, and that it wasn't so easy for him to realize how easy all of it was to lose at the same time.

He is too afraid to wait for Kurama's vocal response, and he quickly tries to cover up the fear with a joke, trying to make it "like always". He leaves as soon as he can blurt out an excuse, and Kurama doesn't stop him. But he knows he didn't believe a word of it--Kurama knew him too well. And as Yusuke runs, he takes some comfort in knowing that fact, and that this was what he wanted to avoid.

He arrives home again quickly, and Hiei still waits for him; he is by the window as usual. Yusuke tries to smile.

He makes a mental resolution to love him, but knows it will never be enough.