The earth quakes.  The ground splits open.  Clouds of smoke shoot up from the crevice.  A dark figure rises up from the gaping hole…

Yoake:  I LIVE!!!!!! BWAHAHAHA--promptly gets bombarded with furniture, sharp objects and whoa—is that a bomb?!

Kurama:  pokes Yoake's prone figure with a stick  She's out.  shrugs  Anyway, konnichiwa minna!  As you can see, after making us wait for six whole months, cough the embodiment of laziness cough Yoake-chan has finally deemed it appropriate to work on the second half of chapter seven. And um, she wanted to thank the people who wrote her reviews but she's glances at still unconscious ficwriter kind of unable to right now so I'll just do it for her I guess.

Thanks to: Brady, Chambers, April Aries, Waku-chan, Angel, Shadow Queen, Punk Zell Dincht (Yoake's wondering if she can get more of When It's Over now?), Sheiakurei (Yoake sends you a hug. And she says no, she wasn't doing on it purpose.  Not that I believe her though.), Yuki Kitsune no Tsuki (Yoake says thanks for the chocolate. And is wondering if she can have more. Pagpasensyahan mo na, matakaw e.), Foxtails, the anonymous person (Yoake says: KABAYAN!), Sailor Chibi Star Fighter, Harlequin, Lady Violet (Yoake's waiting for more of your GW ficcies.), Kelly, blueleopard87, Sano (Yoake's wondering if you're the same Sano who wrote Realization. Are you?), aznstarangl88 (Yoake once again says, no, she's not doing it on purpose.  I still don't believe her though. And obviously, yes, she's still breathing.) and Tifa (Her summer classes were over five months ago.  She's blaming real life for the delay.).

Oh and Yoake also wants to thank her Neechans, Rei for the really long phone conversations and Alec for offering to make her a site. 

Finally, as Yoake always says: please make her happy and send your comments minna. Her e-mail's yoakehajime@yahoo.com now by the way.  glances at STILL unconscious ficwriter  Damn, it's scary when she's quiet.  sigh I guess, I'll be doing the honors as well. On with the fic!

            Finally unable to withstand his gaze, I tore my eyes away from the kitsune's, not wishing him to witness the emotions I was certain were flickering through my own.  It was an action I had grown accustomed to, one that I often employed when the circumstances tended to bear down on me.  In other words…it was a retreat whenever I became too much of a coward. 

I've always regarded emotions as a weakness and yet I've never grown quite strong enough to be above them, to be free of them.  So I hide…I build walls…I put up barriers.  Still, there are instances when my eyes betray me, when they mirror the turmoil tearing me up from inside.  When they remind me that I'm a fraud…that I'm a coward…that I'm weak. 

And I curse myself for being weak. 

Yet no matter how weak I was, I simply couldn't allow another soul to know.  I couldn't allow him to know.  So I prepare to lie again, I prepare to push him away again, I prepare to—to hurt him.  Hurt him again. 

            No. 

No, goddammit, no! 

The realization was a harsh slap to the face.  I shakily turned my head to face him once more, my eyes probably reflecting my shock for I saw his crimson brows furrow in concern and confusion. 

I knew!  I knew the fucking reason why!  

I knew why I hurt him.  Why I would always push him away.  Why I refuse to let him in. 

It was because he was getting dangerously close to breaking my walls, to breaking me.  It was because he was getting dangerously close to finding me, to knowing me.  It was because…because he made me feel. 

            And I couldn't feel…I shouldn't feel…I must not feel.

            I'm scared to feel. 

            I'm scared because…because to feel means to get hurt.  And I don't want to get hurt again.  I don't…I don't want to hurt.  Anymore…

            So I hurt him instead.  I hurt him because I'm scared.

            "I'm scared." 

            I watched the fox's eyes widen in astonishment and it was then that I realized that I had spoken my thoughts aloud.

            "Hiei…"  He started, as he moved to lift his hand to my face.

            "Don't!"  It sounded harsher than I had intended and he faltered.  I opened my mouth to speak once more when I felt cold sweat break over my skin and the words abruptly died in my throat.  I had been about to do it again.  I had been about to hurt him…refuse him…reject him.  Reject him all over again.

            Just because I was a hypocrite.  Because I was a selfish bastard.

            I felt my fists clenching and small, nearly imperceptible tremors shook my being.  My breathing grew labored, audible within the small confines of the four walls surrounding us.

            It was because…because…

            "I am a goddamn fucking coward!"  I choked out.

            And with the words came the soft clink of a sphere hitting the marble floor.

            It was a teargem.

            It was my teargem.  

            I shakily raised a hand to my cheek and realized with no small amount of surprise that it was wet.  Could it be that I was…I was…

            "You're crying."  Came the fox's stunned whisper.  And I dared to look the kitsune in the eye if only to witness his shock at my appalling weakness, when instead I found none.  All I found was concern, worry and…and was that pain?  But why?  Am I hurting you still kitsune?  Am I still causing you pain?

            I moved my hand from my cheek, reaching out to shakily press it upon his face.  "Kurama…"  I whispered, my voice barely an audible murmur even in the resounding stillness of the room. 

            "Kurama, g-gomen."

            "Gomen nasai." 

            I knew the words weren't enough.  They were far from being an acceptable offering for all the pain I've caused, for all the words I've spoken, for all my harshness, for all my cruelty…for…for everything.

            But they were all I could offer at the moment.  They were the best I had—they were all I had.  So I said them, with all the courage and truthfulness I could muster, my heart racing rapidly along with my breathing.

            Then I saw him smile.

            It was quite sad but it was a smile nonetheless.  He raised an unsteady finger to my lips, quieting me.  "Shh."  He whispered, whilst wiping the wet tracks on my cheeks away with his thumb.

            "It's okay."

            I was dumbfounded.  Several moments passed before I found my voice again. 

"It's…okay?"  I asked, trying my best to hold his gaze.  "Just like that kitsune?"  He nodded, the sad smile never leaving his features.  I searched the fox's eyes for an explanation, wishing to find something in them that would help me make sense of what was happening.  I just couldn't bring myself to understand, couldn't bring myself to accept that he had forgiven me in a mere instant.

            "Don't you hate me even a little Kurama?"  I insisted.  "Don't you feel even an ounce of anger towards me?" 

There was no answer.  Not a single sound came from the kitsune's lips.  He merely continued to stare back at me, his gaze strong and unwavering. 

"Don't."  I choked out. 

"Don't do this to me fox."  I pleaded. 

"Don't act as if I didn't make you suffer.  As if breaking your heart and trampling on it was of no consequence."

There was only silence.

            I couldn't take any more.  I found my hands gripping his shoulders, my control and sanity swiftly slipping away.  "Damn it, Kurama!"  I cried out.  "Hate me!  Hurt me back!"  I found my grip tightening as I shook him, warm tracks beginning to flow down my cheeks again.    

"Make me suffer! Make me bleed!"  I sobbed out.  "Like I…like did to you…"

Just…just don't make me feel guiltier than I already am.

"Please…"

            I stared helplessly into his eyes but no.  No blows were coming, no spiteful words, no angry glares.  I felt my grip loosen and my arms fell limply to my sides as I released his shoulders.  All I could do was to repeat the fox's words a few moments ago.

            "Kurama…"

            "Doushite?"

            His answer was swift and certain, so unlike mine. 

            "Because I love you."

            Silence reigned for a few moments before I asked once more.

            "Doushite?"

            And he smiled at me, this time sweeter than the last.

            "When you love someone, you don't know the reason why Hiei.  You just do."

            At that, I knew I was lost.

            "Kurama, I…"

            "I don't understand."

            Once again, he raised a finger to my lips, silencing me.

            "Hush, it doesn't matter."  And I felt a soft caress on my cheek.

            "All that matters is you."

            The smile vanished and something I couldn't quite grasp flashed through his eyes.

            "I missed you, Hiei."

            "I missed you so much."

            His jaded gaze bore through me and I couldn't bring myself to reply.  It was his voice which once again pierced the silence.

            "Will you—will you do something for me?"  He whispered, emerald orbs beseeching my garnet ones.

            Kurama…

How could I possibly refuse?

"Hn."

A smile broke through his features, brightening the pale porcelain mask.

"Hold me?"

So I did.

To be continued…

Kurama: And there you have it folks!

Yoake: twitches  groggily raises her head  Whu—what happened?

Kurama: Oh.  You're awake.

Yoake: I felt like I got hit by a brick.

Kurama: It was a marble statue dear.

Yoake: blinks  Oh.  Anyway, um, sorry for making everyone wait so long.  I really wasn't doing it on purpose.  Real life can be such a hassle at times. I'll be posting the side story next by the way.  It's going to connect chapters seven and eight.  I just need to finalize some stuff and then type it up.  Hopefully it will be posted in a few days. grin

Kurama: Don't get your hopes up people.

Yoake: HEY!!!