AN: ok, here it is. the final chapter of Savin Me, where you can find out whether Hiei lives or dies.


ekp95m: i'm glad you liked it. i made this chapter way longer, so i think you'll be satisfied.

for the rest of you, you'll have to read and find out if Hiei dies.

The question remained...

What were they supposed to do now, with Kurama's communicator broken, and with a gaping wound in an unconscious Hiei's stomach, while still in enemy territory?

Yusuke looked around, in case there were other demons they might have missed. There were none, and the only movement came from the wind blowing through the remains of the bodies left on the ground, playing amongst the hair, fur, clothes, anything that was loose.

A small glint is what caught his eye. Walking over slowly, he leaned down and widened his eyes.

It was a small, cracked, but still usable communicator. Picking it up, he flipped the lid to see that it was still usable. Hope began to gleam in his eyes again as he turned and practically teleported back to his friends, he ran so fast.

"Guys! Check this out!" Kurama didn't move from where he was, but Kuwabara looked over, disgruntled at the fact that Yusuke seemed so cheerful.

"What is it, you jerk?"

Yusuke grinned. "Our ticket out of here." He glanced at Hiei's too still body, and his voice grew solemn. "And maybe his only chance."

He held out the communicator and saw the same hope that he was feeling appear in his friend's eyes, before it faded again.

"I though' Kurama's got busted. Where'd this one come from?"

Yusuke shrugged. "Who knows? But it still works, and it's the only way we've got to contact Koenma and get out of here." Using his power to activate it, he watched as the communicator started glowing. "See if you can get Kurama to snap out of it. If he keeps going the way he is, we'll lose them both." Kuwabara nodded, and knelt down to shake Kurama.

Koenma's image appeared on the screen, appearing shocked to see Yusuke.

"Well, this is a surprise. I figured that you'd come here personally, Yusuke." He paled slightly. "Where's Hiei? He's not already on his way, is he?"

Yusuke scowled. "No, not yet, but I have the rather nasty feeling that he will be once he's healed. Do you have any idea of what you've done?" His voice rose in volume and aggravation at the last part.

Koenma frowned. "What do you mean, when Hiei's healed? What's happened?"

Yusuke forced himself to calm down. "Oh, you know, nothing too serious. He's just lying on the ground, unconscious, with a great big hole in his stomach." The sarcasm was all too evident in both his tone, and his body language.

Koenma raised his eyebrow. "Is that so? Well, why are you wasting time talking to me? Shouldn't you be getting Hiei to a healer as soon as possible?"

Yusuke rolled his eyes. "Why do you think I'm even bothering to call you? We need a portal to Grandma's place. With her and Yukina, we should be able to heal Hiei no sweat. If you'd just-"

"Out of the question." Koenma's words stopped Yusuke cold. "If we open up a portal there now, there's a strong possibility that some of the demons there would get through it." He shook his head. "I'm sorry, but you'll have to at least get out of the area before we even think about opening up a portal."

Yusuke was outraged, and would have given the tiny prince a piece of his mind, but another voice easily overrode his.

"So basically, what you are saying is that you've given up on Hiei, is that it?"

Yusuke looked over his shoulder to see Kurama standing up, his long hair covering his expression. Hiei was still unconscious, and still had a gaping hole in his stomach, but it appeared that the bleeding was no longer a threat. Not that it meant that Hiei would most definitely live, but at least he had a better chance, it looked like. Provided that he was treated as soon as possible.

Kurama slowly walked over to where Yusuke stood, the presence of danger hanging heavy over him. Yusuke shivered, quickly handing over the communicator. He certainly didn't want to get caught in the middle of this conversation, so he figured the best thing to do was play guard and make sure nothing attacked them. Obviously Kuwabara had the same idea, given how he was practically hovering over Hiei's prone form and had his eyes shut. It looked like he was focusing his abilities to try and detect any danger before it reached them. Yusuke quickly made his way over and joined him, hoping that he wouldn't be dragged into what appeared to be a major argument about to happen.

Kurama glared at the image of the young prince of Reikai. "Put it this way, Koenma." Yusuke and Kuwabara shivered at the murderous tone in his voice, not daring to look back at him, and it was fairly obvious that Koenma had heard it too. "If you don't have a barrier up and connected to Genkai's temple in the next five minutes, and Hiei dies as a result, I will personally come and collect retribution for him."

Koenma paled. He knew all too well what would happen if he encountered a pissed off fox-demon, especially one set on revenge for a fallen comrade. He nodded quickly and turned to his assistant. "Get a portal up there. Now!" The image on the communicator faded.

Kuwabara whistled in admiration. "Man, Kurama. You sure can be downright scary when you want to be." Yusuke put his hand out, signaling that now was not the time for little jokes.

Kurama ignored them, walking back to Hiei. Tossing the communicator back to Yusuke, he put his hand back on the younger demon's chest and closed his eyes in concentration. His hand started glowing, and his energy began flowing into Hiei.

Yusuke blinked in sudden realization. Kurama was using his energy to make sure that Hiei would live long enough to reach the temple, since Hiei had used up almost all of his own while fighting. And Kurama was trusting the two humans to guard them while he did so.

Yusuke was awed by the amount of trust that Kurama was giving them. And not just a little afraid. If they failed to protect the two of them, he had no doubts that he would not live long enough to regret it.

Fortunately, at that precise moment the portal appeared in front of them. "Hey, Kuwabara, you go first and make sure that grandma and Yukina will be ready for us." Kuwabara nodded and almost skipped through until Yusuke yelled after him, "And that doesn't mean that you do a bunch of flirting first!"

Kuwabara flinched, before waving his hand and running through. "Shoulda gone first myself." Yusuke muttered, before turning to Kurama, who was standing up with Hiei lying limply in his arms. "You ready?" It was a stupid question, really, but he didn't know what else to say.

Kurama nodded, already moving towards the portal, Yusuke right behind him, acting as the rearguard. And it was a good thing he did too, because no sooner had they stepped through than a demon raced right for them, obviously hoping to get through the portal and into Ningenkai.

Kurama didn't even look over his shoulder, while Yusuke channeled all of his rage in a blast that would serve as a warning to any other demons with the same thought. Letting go of the power, he watched as the demon running for them got blasted into tiny pieces, and the building behind it was incinerated, before turning and walking through the portal.

He closed his eyes at the pressure the portal created, and when he reopened them he found himself on the front steps of Genkai's temple. Genkai was already beside Kurama examining Hiei, and Kuwabara was quite audible in his complaints of being banned from disturbing Yukina from her task of preparing a room for Hiei.

Genkai finally got fed up with listening to "the oaf," as she called him. "Oh, get a hold of yourself. If you want to be useful, go and boil a large pot of water."

Kuwabara blinked, actually taking the time to pause in his tirade. "Water?" he frowned. "I thought you used your powers to heal? Why would you need water?"

The elderly woman pulled off a growl that would rival that of a demon's. "Don't ask questions, boy! Move it!" Kuwabara yelped and raced off.

Yusuke smirked, coming forward in time to see the tail end of a strained smile on Kurama's face. "That was mean, you old hag, sending him off on a useless chore like that." While worry for his comrade was evident in his body language, there was a good deal of warmth for the old woman in Yusuke's tone.

Genkai snorted. "Humph. Couldn't have the big oaf hanging around and getting in the way." She walked off, motioning the two of them to follow her. "That task should take him a while and keep him out of our hair."

Yusuke paused mid-step. "Do you actually need the water?" He asked. He knew better than to second-guess his master, but if there was something that needed doing, he wanted to do whatever he could to help. Right now he felt rather useless, and he hated it. Especially seeing his friend and comrade draped in the fox's arms, barely holding onto life.

Genkai didn't even look over her shoulder. "If I need something, I'll send you to get it. All Yukina and I need is some peace and quiet, so when the oaf comes back, you and Kurama are to make sure he doesn't barge in. You got that, Dimwit?"

Yusuke groaned at the nickname, but didn't argue. He walked with them until they reached the room that Yukina had prepared, where he leaned against the wall. He didn't really want to see Yukina's reaction to her brother's current state. Just hearing her gasp and the sound of hiruseki gems clinking to the floor was enough to make him cringe.

However, he was surprised when he saw Kurama come stumbling out of the room, Genkai's hand disappearing back into the room, before the door slammed shut.

Yusuke raised his eyebrow at his comrade. "Got kicked out, huh? Guess they didn't want you getting in their way." He was surprised at the glare that was sent his way as Kurama allowed himself to finally transform back into his ningen form.

Kurama shook his head to get his hair out of his face. "Right now Hiei's in a rather delicate condition. He needs to be near someone that he knows that he can trust unconditionally, and while he does, reluctantly, admire Genkai and care for Yukina, he doesn't trust them to be able to keep him alive without trying to change him." He shook his head. "He's afraid that their healing power will somehow affect him in an unwanted way."

Yusuke blinked. "How do you know all that? Did Hiei told you this before?"

Kurama's bangs hid his eyes. "No. He told me on the way here."

Yusuke put on his clueless face, not having even the slightest idea of what Kurama was talking about. 'Told him on the way here? Hiei wasn't even conscious, so how could he have told Kurama?' He sighed. 'Why doesn't anyone tell me anything around here?' His sigh turned into a faint sulk. 'I thought I was the team leader around here, so I should know about this.' With that thought in mind, he turned to face Kurama.

Unfortunately for him, Kurama was way ahead of him as per usual, and spoke before Yusuke even had the chance to open his mouth. "Don't even ask. I'm not in the mood for it right now." He sat down against the wall beside the door, closing his eyes and looking as though he was prepared to run in at the slightest summons. Verbal or not.

Yusuke blinked, before copying him, leaning against the wall across from the door. The position also gave him a perfect view of the hall from which Kuwabara would most likely be coming down quite soon. Which reminded him…

"Hey, Kurama?" Green eyes flickered open, before sliding shut again. He took that as consent to continue. "How are we going to stop Kuwabara from barging in on them? I mean, he's bound to be pretty pissed at being fooled like that. Not that it that hard to do." He mumbled.

Kurama didn't even twitch. "Just don't worry about it. I've got it taken care of."

At that, Yusuke straightened up. "Okay, now I'm curious. Exactly what are you planning… to…?" He trailed off as his hand encountered something small and hard on the floor beside him. Glancing down, he saw a small seed, and upon further inspection he noticed a series of seeds spread all around the area. Swallowing slightly, he leaned back against the wall and wisely remained silent.

It appeared that Kurama was not willing to risk anything or anyone disturbing the two healers, and would take whatever measures he deemed appropriate, and to hell with even checking who or what it was. Which, while it was quite dangerous, was also the best kind of defense when you were dealing with an idiot who didn't even know when to stay quiet and not argue.

At that exact moment, Kuwabara came pounding around the corner as fast as he could with a pot of steaming water clutched in his hands.

Yusuke stood up cautiously. If things turned violent, which they were bound to, he didn't exactly feel like being soaked in boiling water. A glance at Kurama told him that the fox felt the same, except he hadn't budged from his spot.

Kuwabara panted as he rushed up to the door. "I … got the … water." He managed to gasp out. He reached out a hand to open the door, but he didn't get very far when a slender hand shot out and grabbed his arm, yanking him away from the door while another set of hands snatched the pot from him.

Kuwabara yelped, yanking his wrist from Kurama's hand, and turned to glare at him. "What do you think you're doin', fox-boy? I'm trying to get that water to Master Genkai."

Yusuke snorted, putting the water down at a safe distance. "You idiot." He decided to use Hiei's favorite insult for the guy. "Grandma doesn't need the water." He relished Kuwabara's brief dumbfounded expression, before it quickly turned to rage.

"Whaddya mean she doesn't need it?!" He turned and tried to punch Yusuke's face, Yusuke preparing to block him, when they were both grabbed by vines, Kurama's annoyed voice speaking for the first time in 10 minutes.

"That's enough, you two." His voice was a low growl. "You are both going to sit quietly or I will be forced to take drastic measures."

Yusuke scoffed. "Oh, like you aren't already?" He nodded to the vines, raising an eyebrow. Kuwabara nodded in agreement.

Kurama lifted his head, opening his eyes to reveal a dangerous gleam within the green-gold orbs. "Trust me. You'll know when I resort to being drastic." He released them, and closed his eyes again.

Yusuke and Kuwabara stared for a moment, before sitting down. They were both rather shaken by the idea of Kurama losing his temper, but fighting was the only way they knew how to relax. Especially in this kind of situation, where they were completely useless.

A pained shriek suddenly rang through the temple air, and the three boys were immediately on their feet, staring at the door. They could feel the heat through the closed door, so they could only imagine what it felt like inside the room. Yusuke and Kuwabara were rooted to the spot, but the same could not be said of Kurama.

As soon as the cry rang out, he was up and moving towards the door, and reached out to slide open the door. Yusuke noticed this, and leaped forward to stop him.

"Hold it, Kurama! I know you want to help, but there's nothing you can do for him right now!" He would have said more, but he was abruptly grabbed from behind by a vine and thrown back into the wall beside Kuwabara. He looked up in time to see the fox disappear into the room, more vines slithering across the door, effectively barring anyone else from entering after him.

The two boys exchanged glances, before carefully sidling up to the barricade to try and peek through. The vines shifted, ready to attack at the slightest hint, but did nothing more, for which they were grateful.

Nothing, however, could prepare them for the sight inside the room.

Genkai and Yukina had been thrown back from Hiei, who was currently thrashing about, his body on fire and the flames lashing out at anything that got too close for comfort. It was a miracle that the room wasn't on fire yet, with the heat the small demon was giving off.

Kurama wasn't cringing away from the heat like the two healers were. Instead, he was steadily making his way towards his friend, not even flinching at the heat or the burns that he was receiving in the process. He had shifted back into his demon form, his pale skin beginning to turn a dark red, but still far more resistant to the heat than his human form would be.

Reaching Hiei's side, he stretched out a hand and laid it on the Imiko's cheek. Upon doing so, he went completely rigid, his eyes going blank. Hiei suddenly froze, his body tense, before he suddenly sagged back down. He was breathing hard, and his eyebrows were scrunched up, showing that he was feeling a great deal of pain.

Yusuke moved his gaze over to Kurama and noticed that his breathing had increased as well. Not quite as hard as Hiei was, but close enough. He frowned. 'Just what the heck is happening in there?' He looked down at the vines that were barring his way into the room and contemplated ripping them apart.

Genkai looked over at him and frowned, knowing exactly what he was thinking. "Don't even think about it, Dimwit." She was satisfied when Yusuke jerked upright, a look of surprise and guilt on his face. "The two of you will just get in the way, so stay out there with the Oaf." She turned to Yukina and helped her off the floor, keeping an eye on her charges.

Kurama suddenly straightened up, glancing briefly at Genkai and nodding, before going back into his little trance-like state, this time closing his eyes. Almost as if she was waiting for such a signal, Genkai and Yukina rushed back to Hiei's side and began healing him again. A sudden gust of heat prevented them, however.

Kurama frowned, forcing his way further into Hiei's mind, hoping to convince him to allow the healers to do their work. If he couldn't, he would be forced to completely take over the mind of his friend, placing his own in the fore, taking all the pain onto his own mind. Not exactly something that would be in his list of Things To Do, but also not something he would be able to prevent from happening if the worst came to pass.

As he sank deeper and deeper into Hiei's subconscious, he noticed that the barriers were becoming weaker, and that the pain was fading. Normally, he would be pleased, because it should mean that Genkai and Yukina were finally getting somewhere with their healing. Instead, it filled him with a sense of dread, because he knew that Hiei was still resisting the healing, and was fading faster than he had been before they had arrived at the temple.

He immediately focused his full attention on getting past the mental defenses in front of him. He needed to find the center of Hiei's mind before he could do anything.

Suddenly sensing a glimmer of power, he instantly wrapped his own spirit energy around it, shielding it from outside influence. Finding himself in temporary control, he lowered the body's defenses and allowed Genkai and Yukina's auras to enter and counteract the pain, surrendering himself to maintain Hiei's life for as long as he had to.

Yusuke, even with his limited spiritual awareness, was instantly alerted the moment that Kurama made contact with Hiei's mind. Their auras became intertwined, and pulsed in sync. He frowned, now having a fair idea of what was happening, and it didn't make him happy.

Especially not with Kuwabara beside him, practically having a fit. "Dude! Would you please shut up?" He turned and decked the carrot-top, hoping to knock him out and get some peace and quiet. No such luck.

As soon as he hit the ground, Kuwabara was back up and ready to fight. "You wanna go?"

Again, vines shot out and grabbed both of them, pulling them in separate directions. And far enough from the door that they couldn't see in. They both sulked at this.

Nothing changed for the next few hours. The sun had set by the time something did happen.

Yusuke and Kuwabara, both having been tied up for the duration and having fallen asleep, suddenly found themselves dropped to the ground, forcing them awake. Stumbling and looking around, they slowly walked over to the door, now bereft of the vine blockade, and peeked in. What they saw made them race into the room, slightly panicked.

Genkai, Yukina, and Kurama had all collapsed on the floor beside Hiei, unconscious. Kurama still had a hold of Hiei's wrist, apparently having moved it sometime during the healing. As for Hiei, he was certainly not in the same condition from before.

Hiei's breathing had steadied, and the hole in his torso was gone. While there was still blood all over him, and he was still too pale, it was completely apparent that he was on the mend, much to their relief.

Yusuke saw Kuwabara reaching down for Yukina, and shot out his hand to make his friend pause. "We'd better make sure they're cared for. They've used up a lot of power, so they'll be pretty defenseless for a while."

Kuwabara nodded, and predictably picked up Yukina first, carrying her off to her own room. Yusuke just shook his head, before grabbing a spare futon and setting it up in the room. Gently, he lifted Genkai onto it and set her down so that she could rest properly. He repeated his actions for Kurama, but found that he couldn't make him let go of Hiei's wrist. Shrugging, he simply maneuvered the futon under the fox's prone form, making sure that he was as close to his friend as possible.

Kuwabara came back, apparently with the intent of helping Yusuke with the others, only to find that there was nothing for him to do. "So what do we do now, Urameshi? They're all out of it, and there's nothing to do here."

Yusuke snorted. "Of course there's something to do, idiot. We can watch over these guys and make sure that nothing else happens. If a demon were to attack, we're the only defense here, so we'd better stay alert." He looked down at Hiei's blood-covered form, and an idea hit him. "Hey, Kuwabara. Go reheat that water from earlier, okay?"

Kuwabara gaped for a second, before his temper took over. "Why should I? You said Genkai didn't need it! If you want it done, go do it yourself!" He missed the glare that Yusuke sent his way because he was so angry.

Yusuke stood up and stalked over to the taller boy, scowling. "Would you lower your voice? How can they rest if all you're doing is yelling loud enough to wake the dead?" When he saw that Kuwabara didn't have a comeback for that one, he relaxed a bit before continuing. "Besides, you were the one complaining about not having anything to do. So make yourself useful." He deliberately repeated Genkai's words from earlier.

Kuwabara blinked. "How, exactly, would that make me 'useful'?"

Yusuke sighed, rolling his eyes. "Hiei's still covered in blood, dim bulb. We should put a blanket over him, but that blood will only make it harder for him to get warm. So, we have to wash it off before we cover him." Where he was getting this kind of knowledge he didn't know, but somehow he knew that it was right, so he just let it flow. "Besides, the hot water should help with his recovery. He's a fire demon after all. Heat's supposed to be good for them." He raised an eyebrow, almost daring him to argue with this logic.

Kuwabara blinked, before scowling. "I hate you," was all he said, before stalking off and grabbing the pot they'd all discarded earlier and bringing it to the kitchen to get more hot water.

It didn't take long for him to bring back the water, but it was Yusuke who used it to wash the blood off, simply because he didn't trust Kuwabara to be gentle enough not to injure the demon again. He had good reason to, after all, Hiei and Kuwabara were always having spats, and Kuwabara might take this opportunity to get a little payback. Instead, he sent the other boy to check out the area around the temple to make sure all of the wards were working.

After that, they set up a watch, with one of them sleeping while the other watched over everyone, before they switched. Yusuke took the first watch, sitting in Hiei's normal seat on the windowsill, granting him a perfect view of both the outside, and his friends. Now he understood why the fire-koorime liked to sit there so much. He could see any threat, outside or in, before it actually became a threat. A small smirk tugged at his lips. Maybe one of these days he'd just kind of… steal it. Hiei was a thief, or rather, ex-thief, so… nah, a good seat and an angry Hiei was not really worth losing his head over.

Noticing the time, he went and woke up Kuwabara, telling him that it was his turn to watch. Making himself comfy, he fell asleep.

When he awoke in the morning, it was only to see Genkai's face staring down at him. He blinked, before yelling in surprise, jumping up and scrambling away from her.

"What do you think you're doing, you old hag? You almost gave me a heart attack!"

Genkai rolled her eyes. "Oh, get over yourself." She waved her arm at him carelessly. "Get off the floor, Dimwit, and get over here." She walked off towards the other side of the room.

Yusuke frowned, before following her, curious despite himself. "What's going on? I thought you'd still be out of it."

She snorted. "I'm not like you, Slacker." Yet another one of her annoying nicknames. "Now quit your yapping and move it!"

Yusuke's frown quickly became a scowl, but he didn't say anything else, merely followed her to find…

"Hiei! You're awake!" To his amazement, Hiei was awake and already looking ten times better than he had the night before. Although he was still lying down and looking quite frustrated.

Whatever condition he'd been in last night, Hiei already had enough strength back to glare at Yusuke's remark. "Hn. Obviously you moron, if I can see you gaping like a fish."

Yusuke gaped, before sulking. "And here I was all worried about you." He mumbled, not noticing the brief flash of surprise in Hiei's eyes at his words. He decided to turn his attention to the fox-demon who was still unconscious. "Is he alright? Why hasn't he woken up if you have, Granny?"

Hiei was the one to answer him. "It's not really that surprising, Detective. He was with me the whole time, sharing the pain." He shrugged. "He'll probably wake up in a few hours." He exchanged a look with Genkai. "In a way, he used up more energy then Genkai and Yukina."

Yusuke blinked. "Wait a second, back up." He shook his head. "What do you mean he was with you? Sharing the pain? What's that supposed to mean?" He frowned thoughtfully. 'Does this have to do with Kurama telling me last night that he knew what Hiei was thinking?'

Genkai frowned. "Oh come on, surely you know that one of the abilities of the Jagan is telepathy. Hiei can communicate with someone mentally." She raised an eyebrow. "In case you were wondering, that means that he doesn't have to speak out loud to talk to someone."

Yusuke flushed. "I know what that means. And yes, I did know that." 'Okay, so I didn't, but I do now.'

Hiei smirked. "Liar." Before Yusuke could turn on him, he elaborated. "You just thought to yourself that you didn't know before." His smirk turned condescending. "Can you refute that?"

Yusuke stiffened. "You, you… Grrgh." He turned and stomped out of the room, leaving Genkai and Hiei to chuckle. Smiling softly, he relaxed a bit. He was really relieved that Hiei was alright. Now all they had to worry about was when Kurama would wake up and everything would be back to normal. His eyes darkened slightly. But first they'd have to let Koenma have it. Sure they couldn't really hurt the little bugger, but they'd be able to do a little bit of damage at least. He grinned slightly, the thought cheering him immensely.

Back in the room, Genkai was examining what was left of Hiei's wound. "Hmm. It's coming along nicely. I'd say give it three or four days and you'll be back to normal." She raised her eyes to glare lightly at the stoic fire demon. "Just don't do anything stupid in the meantime."

Hiei glared right back, but didn't argue. After all, the woman had helped save his life, so it wouldn't really reflect well on him.

Besides, he had a more pressing issue. The remains of the telepathic bond between the fox and him had alerted him to the fact that Kurama was waking up. And since he had the feeling that he was in for quite the little lecture, he didn't exactly feel like having the old lady in the room with him.

"Hn, fine. Just leave me." He could sense that Genkai was ready to berate him, and cut her off before she could. "Kurama's waking up."

Genkai blinked, before sudden understanding dawned in her eyes. To her credit, she just nodded, not saying a word, and left. Hiei heard her railing on Yusuke for hovering outside the door, and demanding that he and Kuwabara get themselves ready for some intensive training. He smirked. She was smart. She knew that the argument that would be unfolding wouldn't be pretty, so she was giving them some privacy. She'd let Yukina know that he was awake, but not to go near the room for awhile.

Green eyes flickered open to blearily at the ceiling. Looking around, they came to a stop on Hiei's form.

"I see you're awake." Hiei repeated Kurama's words from the Dark Tournament. He was just waiting for Kurama to get up and start in on him. He knew there was nothing he could do to stop it, so he might as well let the fox get it off his chest.

Kurama stared at him for a second, before shooting up into a sitting position. "Hiei!" The surprise that Hiei had actually awoken before him quickly faded into rage. "Just what in Hell's name did you think you were doing, taking that mission without telling us?" Hiei's eyes widened and, to Kurama's satisfaction, he actually flinched slightly. "Do you have any idea how worried I was?"

Hiei stared, blinking at the tone Kurama was using. He expected a lecture, but what he was getting was a rant. Still, he decided to listen to Kurama, if only because he knew that the fox would know if he wasn't. Although he was forced to hide his sigh at having to do so, as well as refrain from sighing multiple times.

He didn't say a word until something that Kurama said caught his attention. He held up a hand, slightly aggravated that he couldn't sit up yet. "Hold it. What do you mean, shielding me? Did you-" His eyes widened. "You did enter my mind, didn't you?" He forced himself up onto his elbows, much to Kurama's consternation. "I sensed your presence, but I thought it was the pain making me hallucinate."

Kurama forced him back onto the futon. "Lie down before you reopen your wound. You know that Master Genkai would be furious if that happened."

Hiei cringed. Despite the fact that Genkai was human, he knew that in the state he was in the old woman could easily take him out.

Kurama nodded in satisfaction when it became obvious that Hiei wouldn't try and sit up again. "Good. Now, to answer your question, yes I did enter your mind. You weren't letting Genkai and Yukina heal you, so I had no choice. If things had gone on in that way, you would have died. I didn't want that." He whispered the last part.

Hiei frowned. "What do you mean, you didn't want that?" He was genuinely confused. He was the Imiko, the forbidden child. Who wouldn't want him dead?

Kurama turned his head, looking uncomfortable. "I didn't want you to die. You're my friend." His voice was low, as if he was unsure of how his words would be taken.

Hiei blinked in surprise, before a small smile appeared. He turned his head away to hide it. "Hn." He had to say something to get the fox out of his funk. And he had the perfect excuse. "Whatever." Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Kurama look at him indignantly. "I'm hungry."

Kurama stopped himself from yelling when he saw the look in Hiei's eye. The little demon looked almost… content, somehow. He smiled softly. "Hungry, huh? Well, let's see if I can't do something about that." Daringly, he reached out a hand, putting it on Hiei's shoulder for a moment, before walking out of the room to get something for his friend to eat.

After Kurama had closed the door, Hiei turned his head to look after him. For a few moments, there was only silence. And then … "Hn. Stupid fox."

It was something that he always said, but there was no bite in it. Instead, a vague sort of contentment was audible in the words. Leaving a listener to wonder whether or not he actually meant what he said, or if it was a kind of endearment. Only two people knew for sure, and they'd never tell.

After all, who could friends trust, if not each other?