Fandom: Yu Yu Hakusho
Pairing: Hiei x Kurama
A/N: If it's not too much trouble, could you please list your favourites in your review (if you choose to review – I'm not a review Nazi) and why you like them? It's useful for later chapters. I intend to finish all five sets, so check back later if you like it. Thanks!
Kurama adopted a faintly martyred air when Hiei shoved his clothes into his laundry hamper, but made no comment about Hiei walking around dressed in only a pair of his old slacks while they were being washed – that being the point of allowing Hiei to sponge off his washing machine, after all.
Apples reminded him of Kurama; shiny red on the outside, crisp white on the inside, and…Hiei wondered exactly when he'd begun thinking in idiotic colour metaphors.
They had been irreparably torn apart by the heist and its aftermath, Kurama knew, and when he and Hiei set out to rebuild their partnership and friendship in the years after that, they did so while thinking of it as a new beginning rather than a reconstruction, for that would have failed.
Koenma was the first to find out about them, obviously, because of the extensive spy system focused on his (less nobly motivated) detectives – he sincerely regretted doing so later, when he found that a mysterious attack of poisonous pollen had destroyed his entire videotape archive of the past three weeks.
Kurama took his coffee black, and Hiei with a mind-boggling pile of sugar; obviously, they never managed to convert the other.
Darkness suited Kurama; despite his flame hair and his white clothing, he could melt into the shadows – and Hiei, who felt he did not belong in the light, was happier for the companionship.
He despaired of ever understanding Kurama, but that didn't stop him from trying.
'It wouldn't hurt you to use the door for once,' Kurama told him with fond exasperation, and Hiei didn't bother to answer; the house was a stranger's, but Kurama's room was his alone, and that was where he wanted to be.
'Just shut up and drink it,' Hiei snapped, and Kurama obediently drained the cup of medicine, and reflected with weary amusement that all his research into poisons and cures in Hiei's presence had had a rather unexpected effect.
He regarded his protection of Yukina as a sacred duty, and he would have given his life for her without hesitation, for his ethics demanded it; it was deeply unsettling to find himself caring for Kurama with the same depth, but with only emotion to justify it.
'No, Hiei, I'm not bored enough yet to try taking over the world again…I can lend you a book if you like.'
He found himself remembering Kurama as Shigure's sword carved through him, the boy, earnest and determined; the teenager, treacherous and beautiful; the youkai, pale and deadly – it seemed appropriate to end it with that thought.
Hiei would have thought that Kurama, who loved plants so, would hate fall, but when he asked, Kurama shook his head and replied that there was a difference between change and death, even if Hiei didn't understand it yet.
Hiei's skin burned when he was injured – an unconscious defence, Kurama thought, because when he became aware of Kurama's presence, he turned the temperature down rather sheepishly.
Mukuro listened in hidden amusement as Hiei outlined why he should be allowed to continue his duties on the border, be given more flexible hours and be allowed to recruit whom he pleased, all without mentioning Kurama (who was, she knew, the main reason).
He watched Shigure's circular sword fly at Kurama as if it had a life of its own, and it was the worst sort of déjà vu for him as he saw Kurama place pride over life again, refusing to adopt his true form in a fight to the death.
The offering of food and shelter meant much more to youkai; more than a simple courtesy, it was an overture of friendship, an extension of trust, a permanent bond only close friends or family were allowed; when Kurama healed him and took care of him, Hiei put it down to the conditioning he had undergone in the human world, which took such things casually, never realising that Kurama was, in fact, saying precisely those things.
Hiei had ticklish feet, something Kurama discovered by accident, and which he exploited ruthlessly.
For centuries after Shiori's death, Kurama returned to her grave to pay his respects, and Hiei came with him to a world he hated, if only to thank the woman who had unwittingly given him a second shot at life.
'It was why I chose these foreign colours for my hair and eyes, you know,' Kurama said dreamily, 'Red for my blood, alien blood, and green for my eyes for the power I wield…' Hiei snorted and said, 'Red suits you better.'
It wasn't until Hiei abruptly became head of Mukuro's army that he realised just how much he had learned about tactics and leadership from Kurama over the years.
He would have given anything to hollow out his heart and rip away the pain, but the happiness balanced it and made losing his emotions impossible.
Yusuke once commented that both Hiei and Kurama were very honourable; Kurama shook his head, amused, and said that there was a difference between honour and pride, and only Hiei could lay claim to the former.
It was the one thing he had never succeeded in giving Hiei, so he hoped for both of them.
Hiei passed out again on the way back to Kurama's house after beating Yatsude; he lifted the youkai on his back as he'd lifted Maya, and was surprised all over again that so much will and strength could be concealed in a form so light.
Hiei did not think of himself as lost before he met Kurama – to be lost, one must have belonged, and he had never had a home before, not even in the seconds after his birth had he been held in his mother's arms.
Hiei once sneered that Kurama's whips were weak, easily ripped apart by his sword; the next time they sparred, he found his sword hissing and dripping, dissolving, and Kurama running his fingers over his whip with a satisfied smile and announcing sweetly that acid ate metal, didn't he know?
When Kurama needed supplies of seeds, it was Hiei who retrieved them for him from the Makai if he couldn't go there himself.
The crackling silversmoke aura that enfolded Youko was ancient, familiar, alien and reborn all at once, and the contradictions in it – so like Kurama himself – were enough to make him smile; just a little, mind.
As calm as he appeared, there was little peace in Kurama; his aura, beneath the harsh pragmatism and overriding discipline, boiled and raged so violently that Hiei had to take great care when scanning it with his jagan, lest he be overwhelmed.
Kurama was a gentle poison, deceptive and deadly; he had come to crave him like an addict, something desired and hated.
'You use your looks as distraction,' Hiei accused him once, and Kurama smirked and replied, 'Ah, so it's working, is it?'
They both noticed that of late, Hiei had stopped using rain as an excuse to visit Kurama, but neither mentioned it.
Kurama never tried to apologise for being responsible for Hiei's imprisonment, even though he sincerely regretted having to do it; there were some betrayals that ran too deep to be healed by simple words, and Hiei would never have accepted it.
He knew he was really turning into a sappy idiot when the colour of roses reminded him of the precise shade (so different, so much deeper) of a pair of crimson eyes, and for a whole week Hiei was puzzled by Kurama's inexplicable, gigantic snit.
He thought he had kept his feelings for Kurama a well-hidden secret, but Kurama laughed and told him it had been spilling from his eyes for years.
Kurama had a fear of snakes that stemmed from his fox instincts, and though he never let him know, it was a while after the Dark Tournament before he could tolerate the added presence of Hiei's dragon without the animal growling in his mind.
Hiei disliked the rain, it made him short-tempered and sarcastic, but snow made him melancholic and weary; those were the dangerous times, the ones when he most needed reminding that there was a reason for his existence.
The first hint Hiei had that he might have control over his mother's ice powers as well as his father's fire was when he accidentally froze a fruit he was trying to eat at breakfast into a hard, solid ball; the look on his face was so comical that Kurama burst out laughing.
Spring was a time when Kurama came alive, prowling parks and woods by moonlight in his youkai form, delighting in the gentle rains, almost open in his joy, and Hiei never revealed that he often returned to the human world at that time just so he could witness that rare lowering of his ever-present defences.
Hiei, with his lighter weight, tested the stairs as they navigated Suzaku's dangerously wobbly maze, warning Kurama about the unstable ones on their mental link and watching with poorly hidden amusement as Yusuke and Kuwabara stumbled and cursed.
Kurama thought it strange when Hiei stopped reminding him how easily he could discard their alliance every other day, but he knew better than to question it.
Though he denied it, he always waited for Kurama's university to declare summer holidays, and whisked the kitsune away for a month or two in the Makai.
Hiei had lived with the knowledge that he was taboo all his life – and suddenly, to be faced with…friends…who barely even noticed that fact was almost intolerably wonderful.
He watched the detached expression on Kurama's face as they viewed Yomi's message, and even before the kitsune had decided his path, Hiei already knew the ugly truth; once again, they were going to end up on opposing sides of a battle.
'They're just paintballs, Hiei, there was no need to draw your sword on him!'
He was ice, unforgiving, harsh, lifeless and sterile – but the thawing of that very ice freed the water that made the earth live.
When Hiei finally returned to the human world, the greetings were varied; Yusuke gave him a bear hug (and nearly died for it), Yukina asked after his health, Shizuru gave him a lazy wave, Kuwabara made manly comments that invited sarcasm, Genkai a sharp comment on his power having increased; Kurama, silent in the back of the temple where they had gathered, simply met his eyes and nodded, and Hiei nodded back, anticipating the more private welcome that would follow.
On one of their journeys, they ran into an unexpected winter storm, and without a word Hiei took the lead; walking ahead of Kurama, the snow evaporated under his boots, leaving dry ground for slipper-clad feet to tread on as the kitsune followed.
He knew Kurama controlled plants of all descriptions, but the stiff oak headboard imprisoning his hands during sex while Kurama smirked evilly did prove something of a surprise.