A/N: This fic is in response to Jesanae Tekani's fic "Worthy," which is a companion to her fic "What You Will Never Say," which is a response to my fic "What I Won't Tell You," and I find that chain very amusing. I thought this turned out a little on the sappy side but she said to post it, so she's responsible for this in more ways than one.

Might Have Beens

People think it's Keiko.

I mean, there's got to be something that keeps us apart, right? We were ready to kill, die, and betray for each other the day that we met. He's the only one of my friends--girl or guy, human or demon--that I've never gotten into a genuine fight with. And that's because he's the only one of my friends--girl or guy, human or demon--who never expects anything from me but what I already want to give. He has a way of bringing out the best in people, and I'm no exception. He also has a way of bringing out longing--again, I'm no exception.

Keiko doesn't notice any of this. She likes him. Maybe she gets a little longing around him too, I don't know. She sees him as a fellow intellectual and a guy who knows how to be a gentleman, and she wants me to spend more time with him. Yeah, I know--the irony.

Other people have noticed it. Not very many, but I guess if you know us both well you can pick up on it. I think yearning's the right word for it. For something you can't have, tinged with a little resignation from me and a little confusion from him. And the couple of people who have noticed think it's sweetly, romantically tragic, how I'm so in love with Keiko that I won't leave her even though she's human and I'll outlive her by so long, even though Kurama would have me the instant I turned to him.

I would like to point out, with due respect, that my friends are all idiots. Keiko has nothing to do with it--it's me that would have Kurama in an instant, if he turned to me. He's even started to reach for me a handful of times over the years--looked at me almost like he was surprised and opened his mouth and I've thought now, maybe now, but every time he stops long before the words actually escape him, stops and turns away like he's ashamed of himself, quickly regaining control. And our friends think he's being noble. I guess he is--but not the way they think.

It's always subtle. So subtle that I don't think anyone but Kurama and I notice it, and Kurama probably believes I haven't noticed either. But every time Kurama's been about to speak to me, to look at me without anything hidden in his eyes--well, once Hiei made a ruder than usual comment to Kuwabara, and a fight broke out. Once Hiei knocked a book off a shelf. Once when we were at a crowded party he simply moved, only half a foot but he was suddenly standing between us and Kurama's unguarded gaze fell on him, not me. I couldn't help thinking, that time, how Kurama had once stood between him and me in exactly that way--only now Hiei was protecting Kurama from me, just as Kurama had protected me from him.

Hiei would never forget that day. He would never forgive it. And he would never allow Kurama that far out of his grasp again. His eyes would be on me forever, coldly calculating, blocking and parrying and isolating. And neither Kurama or I would ever be able to reach past that isolation because neither of us would ever be able to hurt him. And he knew that, and used it. The few times Kurama actually started to turn to me he stopped long, long before getting there, because Hiei was always there. Even when he wasn't actually physically with us, we knew it. Done before it began.

The weird thing is I don't resent it. Not really. I've had a lot of love in my life--I didn't used to think so, but there's nothing like dying a couple of times and seeing how your friends and family and even your enemies react to find out how much you matter. The only love Hiei has ever experiences is Kurama's. I mean, I trust him, I care about him, but love is something you can't fake and it's hard to get close enough to Hiei to love him. I really truly don't think anyone but Kurama's ever given that to him. So who can blame him if he holds onto Kurama so tightly? If he insists on possessing him completely, foreseeing every possible threat and coldly eliminating it, even using Kurama's over-developed sense of guilt against him to force him to stay--not realizing there's no need for force in this. Kurama never promised him anything, but he sees what Hiei wants and how much he wants it, and he loves him too much to say no. And Hiei makes sure it stays that way. So they'll be together until they die, and they'll be happy with one another.

Except for half a dozen moments in a lifetime, when my eyes cross with Kurama's for only a second or two and we find ourselves thinking what might have been, how could it have been, I could have loved you. Before we remember where we are and who we are about to kill, and when we remember that he doesn't turn away from me any faster than I turn away from him. So yeah--I guess, light of that, you could say Kurama's not the only one who loves him after all.