December 4, 2007 – Hi, all! For those who have been following my fics recently, you know that I've been in the process of overhauling most of them after some MUCH needed lessons from my excellent beta, MyAibou. This one is no exception. Originally posted as a single fic in two chapters, I started breaking down each half and realized that it would be too awkward to leave it as one fic. So, the story is reposted in two parts, each a (short) chaptered fic in itself.

Disclaimer – "Yu Yu Hakusho" and all known related characters do not belong to me. I get no monetary benefit from this. My benefit is the enjoyment of dealing with beloved characters.

"Partners, Friends: Part 2 - Hiei"
by DragonDancer5150

Chapter 1 - Choice

Hiei lay on his back on the roof, staring at the clouds high overhead, his mind wandering back over the past several days. The infamous Four Saint Beasts of Maze Castle were dead, their keep in ruins, the central tower all but obliterated by the final confrontation between Yusuke and the Saint Beasts' leader, Suzaku. Hiei closed his eyes, remembering the power of the blast Yusuke had unleashed. He had never seen anything like it from a human. And all for the sake of his girlfriend, whom he won't even acknowledge he cares for in such a way. Hiei sighed inwardly. I'll never understand humans. That last conversation echoed in his mind as Kurama had knelt by Yusuke's unmoving body once the dust had cleared. That big lout, Kuwabara, had been frantic.

"Hey, Urameshi! Urameshi!"

"This is bad. He's used up just about all of his life's energy. His heart is stopping."

"I'll transfer some of my Reiki to him."

"That would be suicidal! You still haven't recovered from the damage you took from battling Byakko, right? That's too much to ask!"

"Are you saying I should just shut up and watch him die? I'm the only one who can transfer Reiki to him! I don't want any arguments!"

Well, Hiei thought. He certainly didn't get any from me. He had watched as Kuwabara dropped his oversized hands on Yusuke's chest. Both humans glowed brightly with Reiki before Kuwabara collapsed over his friend's body. Kurama apparently had found some humor in it.

"It looks as though we'll have to carry both of them back to the Human Realm, huh, Hiei?"

"Geez, these guys are such a pain . . . Here's what I don't understand. Why would they wear themselves out completely for someone else? Why would Yusuke bother saving that girl if he died in the process?"

Hiei still remembered the haunted look in his partner's green eyes. "Trust me, Hiei. There are reasons." Indeed, it had not been that long since Kurama had nearly done the same himself.

Hiei mentally shook his head now even as he had done then. "I suppose, though I couldn't possibly mimic them. Not fighting for someone else . . . and moreover, not in a fight it was uncertain I could win."

They had waited for what seemed like an hour before a pair of ferry girls finally showed up to take the group across the barrier to the Human Realm. By then, Kuwabara at least had regained consciousness and suggested they all go back to his house. He put Yusuke in his own bed, none of them knowing when - or if - Yusuke would come around. That had been three days ago. A third ferry girl, Yusuke's assistant Botan, arrived soon after with the human girl Keiko. Once she knew Keiko would be safe, Botan was to report back to the Spirit Realm with the two convicts but one of the other girls - Kurama had introduced her as Hinageshi - informed them that Lord Koenma had obtained a brief reprieve for them, or at least for Kurama. Koenma had anticipated that they would want to remain until Yusuke recovered and that Kurama would want to check on his mother. With an odd look on her face, Botan had suggested that Hiei stick with Kurama for now. Whatever. That Koenma had better have pulled through on his side of the bargain. I am NOT returning to the Pit! Hiei suppressed a shudder at the thought, then sighed, disgusted at himself for letting that bother him.

He had gone with when Kurama went home to check on his mother and to change clothes. He had listened with amusement as Kurama tried to explain away the gash across his stomach, saying he had been caught in the middle of one of the riots. The human woman had fussed over him quite a bit before she let him leave again and only on the promise that he be extra careful. It had taken Kurama the better part of the next two days to completely heal the wound.

"Well, about time you woke up." Kuwabara's voice floated up to Hiei from the open window below.

He heard Yusuke moan. "Where am I?"

"You're in my room - which, by the way, is back on Earth."

"You've been sleeping for three days straight," Kurama added.

"Three days?!" Yusuke groaned again. "It feels like I've been out for a while."

"School looks like a war zone and classes got canceled for a week!" Kurama and Hiei had checked out the school the night they returned. Kuwabara was not exaggerating about its state of disarray. "I talked to your mom, too, so don't worry about that."

"Okay . . . and what about Keiko?" There was no response. "What about Keiko and Botan? What? . . . What?! Hey!" Hiei heard him leap out of bed, presumably grabbing at Kuwabara. Hiei knew what Kuwabara was up to. He really did not see the point in the so-called joke. "You better start doing more than clenching your teeth! Tell me what happened to her!"

Hiei heard the bedroom door open and the ferry girl's over-cheery voice. "I recognize that yell anywhere! What's up, Yusuke?"

In spite of himself, Hiei could not help a small grin as he pictured Yusuke's stricken face. "Botan . . . Keiko . . . "

Kuwabara's laughter suddenly burst out. "Oh, my gosh, that was so great!"

"Sorry, Yusuke. He insisted. I told him that even as a joke, it wasn't very funny." His words notwithstanding, Hiei could hear the smile in Kurama's voice.

Kuwabara guffawed, "The look on your face! There was nothing else like it!"

Yusuke growled. "Come here, you jerk! I'll show you a look!"

"Ow! Hey! Hey!!"

Hiei rolled his eyes at the commotion in the room below. Humans! You can't tell best friends from bullies the way those two beat up on each other. A few minutes later, he heard someone pull open the sliding door in the master bedroom and step out onto the balcony. He pushed up to a sitting position, then leaned over to see Kurama gazing up at him.

"I'm sure I don't have to tell you that Yusuke's finally awake." Humor twinkled in those emerald green eyes.

"Yes, I heard. In fact, half the neighborhood must have." Hiei thought about what he could do with a volume control if he could just figure out how to put one on Kuwabara. What that ox needs is a mute button!

The expression changed ever so slightly in Kurama's eyes, darkening, as he murmured, "Botan is ready to take us back to the Spirit Realm as soon as she's gotten Keiko safely home. We are to meet her in the rear courtyard of Yusuke's school just after sundown."

Hiei did not bother to respond, only nodded. He had considered taking off several times over the past few days. Even now, he was not sure what was making him stay. He knew what he faced if he went back to the Spirit Realm. Why am I doing this? Looking back at Kurama as the other sighed, mind heavy with his own thoughts, and went back inside, Hiei thought maybe he knew. He shook his head. Why do I care? If he chooses to go back, that's fine, but why should I?

But what would happen if I don't?

Hiei startled at the thought. What would happen was he could return to the Demon Realm and be done with all this or even stay here in the Human Realm to continue his search - except there would probably be Spirit Realm agents after him either way, maybe even Yusuke. That was not what bothered him, though. What bothered him was the question of what would happen to Kurama. He scowled. What does it matter? It's his choice to go back. He'd only get what he deserves, what he's asking for by going back in the first place!

Hiei was no such fool.

Author's Notes: Please be sure to check my bio page for any updates, etc. Thanks!