Author's Notes: Before anyone starts beating me up for not posting sooner. I'm sorry. I had the hugest writers block.

I'm sure most of you have moved on to bigger and better things but if by the off chance anyone has stuck around for another chapter here you go. And seriously, it is much deserved.

Chapter 18: It's Not a New Beginning It's the Same Tragic Ending

Keiko watched as Yusuke slurped on his noodles and usually it was a good sign but today he did it with extra delight. She tried not to stare but nothing new had been done to the recipe so she was left to wonder.

At first she wasn't going to say anything at all over it but his peculiar upbeat mood was making her extra curious. Hardly anything ever put him in such a precarious atmosphere especially as of lately. She was almost afraid to ask if it meant she would pop him out of his bubble just by doing so but damn was she curious, and almost hardly ever qualified as a definite true.

"You're in a good mood today, Yusuke." She said as she leaned over the counter a hand under her chin to support her head up.

"I am?" Yusuke asked, un-slurped noodles hanging from his lips.

"Yeah."

Yusuke gave it a seconds thought before brushing it off to continue his quest to find the bottom of the bowl with the same vigor.

"Yusuke?" Keiko continued a bit more irately. Sometimes she wondered if all boys where born with this inability to communicate properly or if it was just him?

"Yeah." Yusuke said his eyes wide as he looked up at Keiko. Was that displeasure he had just heard in Keiko's voice?

Keiko released a sigh. She knew he hadn't been doing it on purpose, again. Keeping her out of the loop, that was. But sometimes she felt like he was. She never wanted to ask but Yusuke usually never left her any other choice but to pry into his business.

"Spread the cheer, Yusuke." She began with a clearer head and hopefully a lot of patience. "Who can make you smile like that?"

"Smiling? I'm smiling?" He had to look down and away when he had spoken as if to hide the indiscretion and a hand had crossed his lips feeling for the truth in her statement.

"Yeah, Yusuke. All day, now."

He hadn't even realized he had been smiling but now that he knew that damn thing had taken control of his face he was having a hard time putting it away.

But why not smile? Why put it away? That never did anyone any good. He didn't need an excuse to smile. He just was. And being felt good.

"It's just a good day, today." He said. He looked back at her and she looked back at him perplexed. "Don't you think?"

XBMX

Usually, Hiei's chi would be felt within the city limits but today it had been MIA.

Kurama wouldn't say he'd been keeping tabs on the fiery demon but he had been without warrant overseeing that he'd do nothing extravagantly stupid.

And, sure, he'd been doing plenty of stupid over the summer but today made up for everything. The last thing he wanted was his friend to be so far away but he knew that if Yusuke knew what he knew the fiery demon would want to be as far from this city as possible. Today, being the special day that it was, held special catastrophe if Hiei would show up.

XBMX

When Kuwabara had finished with all the jazz if meeting his new guardians, finished getting acquainted with the new home and made friends with the other boys he was finally left at peace to settle in his new room.

He had been doing better according to the medical staff and he'd agree for the better part but it wasn't like his opinion had counted. It had taken them two extra weeks after he had initially told them just that for them to sign him out.

He was sure he wouldn't have survived his stay their but coincidentally enough his biggest enemy had saved him from that hell. He wasn't even sure he was able to call him that anymore. Things had changed. Not completely but on invert. If it was for the better or worse could be disputed. For him that presumption lied within the limits of his brain he dared not touch.

It was a fair life. His bedroom was warm. The new mother and father figures were accepting to his arrival, though he knew it hadn't and isn't unconditional. Cooked food was served three times a day and he was given a second chance to redeem his studies – his life.

It was fair. After everything was left to settle these where the best cards facing up and he either took them or left them.

XBMX

Kurama hadn't been surprised when on his way to visiting Kuwabara for the first time since his last stay in a hospital, at his knew residence, he spotted no one other then the infamously know half demon who couldn't be bothered to have friends was hiding behind a tree across the street to where Kuwabara would be just like a friend would be.

"Save it, Kurama." He had said over his shoulder.

"I wasn't going to say anything." Kurama responded.

"You were thinking it."

Kurama was happy to see him there and he wasn't the kind to wish distress over anyone (Well, at least not anymore.) but that was all the half demon was doing to himself by just standing their waiting for the world to come to him.

"Do you think he has forgotten?" Yusuke finally said after a few minutes of silence.

"Forgotten what?" Kurama had asked because though Yusuke might have felt at some point that evening that he had been a mind reader he had no clue what this was like for him.

"That we were friends?"

His voice had no stagger when the question had left his lips. His body remained rigid. You wouldn't see that little boy inside him at that moment because in those seconds of stale, pained confusion only the man was left to show his silhouette.

But none the less the question had come to him as a surprise and it had taken a gust of wind to blow by for him to recover all senses but by then it had been too late. The silhouette was gone, the boy turned to show his face with a grin that barely surpassed the usual length of his lips.

"Where're you going?" Kurama asked as he watched Yusuke walk passed him.

Yusuke's turned and quickly his eyes landed on Kuwabara's new residence. It was a bricked red building. Nice place. Nice neighborhood. Better skies and trees. He was even pretty sure the air had to gone through a filter so it would smell as sweet. At least it same like it.

"Home." He finally said. "This place gives me the creeps."

XBMX

Three knocks on the door had Kuwabara turning to look towards his bedroom door. Just outside on the hallway stood his new mother figure. They hadn't gotten time to correctly come to know each other but if Kuwabara wasn't mistaking that smile never left her face. It was a welcoming feature of hers. Not at all did he want to it change, he had just felt it lacked a certain aspect. Dimension maybe. Truth.

He had stood and quickly she shook her head side to side. "No, don't get up on my account. This is your home. I just came upstairs to tell you you have a visitor."

His brows had wrinkled at the mention but nonetheless he had followed her to the living room.

Red locks turned to greet him. As always the fox demon was gentle in his embrace, his stare and especially his attitude. Contraire to his whole reality, his relationship with this particular person had not changed. Their relationship had remained adhered by their past bond. And if anything, Kuwabara greatly appreciated it because all though everything was fair now what the fox had brought with him was better. And the realization of how much he completely yearned for it had formed a knot in his throat. He was sure he would have started balling but that comfort brought only the whisper of his dead life and he was sure that just as soon as the fox demon would leave it too would be gone.

So, he welcomed the fox demon into his knew life. They sat down and watched some TV as they caught up on the little things. For the while he was there the whisper kept talking, singing that old tune of normalcy and friendship. And just like a fulfilled promise, it was gone when the fox demon had departed.

XBMX

Yusuke had found his way back to Keiko that night. For those moments as Yusuke took step after step towards her, his face cheerless, she had abruptly stopped what she had been doing, dropping all her meaningless tasks to embrace him.

Usually, he wasn't that touchy-feely unless it was for something more appetizing like her ass. But this time his arms wrapped themselves around her smaller back, his hands stayed cleared of her temptations as they rested one on each shoulder.

"What's wrong, Yusuke?" She asked when he didn't let go.

Yusuke dug his face on the nook of her shoulder rubbing away at his eyes there. There was no way he could look up. He didn't want to.

"Yusuke," she said sounding more worried. "Tell me what's wrong?"

But he couldn't. There was nothing to say. Nothing was wrong. Nothing at all. He just was.

XBMX

Three knocks and Kuwabara had turned to look at the door. "Come in." He called out but as he waited for someone to enter the door remained shut.

It hadn't been long since Kurama had left and he had somehow ended up back in his bedroom. He had been quietly sitting on the bed with nothing to do but ponder over the fox demon's short visit.

Another three knocks and Kuwabara's head quickly turned to look at the door. This time he stood and made his way to it. Slowly he turned the knob and swung it open only to see no one standing there.

The knocks came three more times and this time he was confident it hadn't been the door since he was look straight at the other side of it. He searched the room till his sight came to land on the window.

He didn't even give himself time to wonder as he quickly walked over to it and pulled the drapes open and his lips gave half a smile at the sight.

"Hiei," he said after pushing the window open to let the demon in. Who would have thought he would be so happy to see him? But it had been such an emotionally strenuous day meeting new faces and having one visit him from the past and to see his was somehow the most comforting of all. His was not new nor did a hold a string to his distant past. His was current. Hiei's presence had developed a usual familiarity. Like a friend. Nothing that held a lot in its meaning but, nowadays, friendships seamed to come and go. So, Kuwabara held no meaning to it and he had expected as much for Hiei to feel as well. That's exactly what made Hiei's presence so welcomed to begin with. That expectation to expect nothing to come of it. Because it was a mutual experience when Hiei came over to waste time together. They bickered with one another every once in a while but Hiei had kept his tongue tamed while they where together, never letting the little bitter words that had ever rarely come to be exchanged with one another escalate. At the end, it had become more than just a comfortable, welcoming presence to which Kuwabara was almost afraid to give it a name. Or refused because a friendship like that should always exist when every other had disappeared. And because friendships like that should not be called friendships because friendships can one day be gone and the one that he had experienced with this particular fiery demon should never have to.

Hiei quickly inspected the room. Kuwabara rolled his eyes. It was a usual thing to witness when it came to Hiei's paranoia but it was a characteristic Kuwabara wouldn't change.

"Like the new digs?" Kuwabara asked as he fell onto his new mattress as if that was the most comfortable spot he could be on at the moment.

Hiei looked over at it and made a face as if to snarl at it and took a spot on his new desk.

Leaning up of his bed to come into a sitting position, Kuwabara looked over at Hiei as he made himself comfortable. "Yeah, I always thought the desk looked more comfortable."

Hiei almost smiled but all of his gestures where always given in almost. Kuwabara was now acquainted with them. He has come to understand that in their intent was not as a partial gesture but a shy whole.

It was hard to consider the little demon with the venomous tongue as shy but in certain aspects he was. No wonder he didn't have any friends. No wonder he was so distant. Kuwabara had figured for the longest time that he was just bitter and mean.

Kuwabara could say that almost smile was enough of an emotion to show because at least it wasn't a lie. It was an almost true emotion without the lie and that was all he could ask for from anyone at the moment.

"Kurama was here, today." Kuwabara felt obligated to mention.

"What did he want?" Hiei said bitterly and this time it lacked in the almost.

Kuwabara would have asked about it but figured that was a subject that had absolutely nothing to do with him so he let it go. Instead he went ahead and answered his question. "Nothing, we just hung out."

He could see the inner workings of Hiei's mind begin to work but again he didn't ask nor did he want to feeling that it really wasn't up to him to bud in.

Hiei got up to shut the blinds while Kuwabara watched suspiciously.

"Do you have something to hide?" Kuwabara asked having held his curiosity back long enough.

Turning around to face him, Hiei seemed to completely disregard his question and refrained from looking at him straight in the eye.

"Hiei?" Kuwabara asked worried. He wasn't even sure why he was feeling worried or if he even should. This was Hiei after all.

"I need to know something right now." Hiei said with downcast eyes, not looking at him. Looking at anything but him.

He could tell there was something really up with Hiei. Sure, he should have known before hand but things usually had to slap him in the face for him to get it. And this one was making him nervous with apprehension.

"Sure, what is it?"

"Promise me," he said with almost trepidation.

"I promise." Kuwabara said immediately. He wasn't sure why. Maybe it was because he needed to know what he was going to say like a cat had to know where the mouse was heading off to. But nothing he did really could be considered 'thought all the way threw' and this was no exception. That was usually the main reason people often saw him as a big buffoon. A big, ugly, stupid buffoon. Sure, it had hurt whenever he had been called that in many occasions but he knew the truth (even if it was just a little) it held. He always jumped the gun without thinking. It wasn't unexpected behavior from him.

But this time Hiei held him back from completely repeating his mistake. He shook his head side to side thoughtfully all the while his eyes refused to make eye contact.

"Listen to me first." He said almost exasperated. "Promise me," he begun again and this time Kuwabara waited patiently for him to finish. "No matter what happens," the almost trepidation in his voice was back and it killed Kuwabara with curiosity to know what it really was all about but he kept to himself refraining from saying anything no matter how much he wanted to tell Hiei to just get on with it. "Promise me you will never hate me."

After it had all left his system, Kuwabara was left to only blink away the shock. It was a good thing Hiei's eyes had remained downcasted because he wasn't sure what all of that had to do with them. If their ever was a them?

But there had to if the question had meant that much to Hiei that he had to ask. And if there was, what kind of dimension did the relationship hold that Kuwabara had not been aware of? How much of his perception of it held true? And most importantly, how much of it was he willing to lose if he did not recognize with it?

"Hiei, I" – he begun but failed to find any words that could convey what he truly wanted to say because there was a lot to say, a lot to define, a lot to ask before he jumped the gun.

But he knew that the longer he left it to be thought threw the longer the gap between them grew. A measurable distance that Kuwabara had been oblivious to. He wasn't sure when it had materialized to make such in impact in the situation but somehow it was there, now.

Kuwabara hadn't know how to answer then, and still hadn't had it all figure out when his answer left his lips but he had finally come out with it and somehow his answer had stuck to what had been most important to him. The steadily growing relationship he had built with the fire demon retrospectively held meaning to him. And that realization had not kicked in until he was backed into a corner with that question but in that reflection he was certain of one thing, he knew that above all he didn't want to lose any of it at all because at that moment he was all he had.

"I promise." He said.

It was to those words that Hiei finally decided to look at him straight in the eye and in his eyes he saw relief. And in those moments that it took Hiei to approach Kuwabara to grasp him by the shoulders and plant a dominating kiss on his lips, his whole world seemed to fall perfectly together.

But in those moments it took Hiei to leave Kuwabara alone in his new room, with his new family, in his new home Kuwabara's whole world was jumbled into confusion.

TBC…

Author's Notes: Thank you for sticking around and please, I know I don't deserve it, but a review would be appreciated. And again, don't beat me up. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words still sting. Yeah, I'm a wimp like that. hehe*sigh*