(((Dedication: Kendall Russell—you are the touch of ice on my bleeding heart.
Kurama needed some help to keep going, and Hiei discovered an ability he didn't know he had.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Info: Yu-Yu-Hakusho; one-shot; nonromantic, nonyaoi; mostly Hiei and Kurama; friendship, fantasy/adventure; mostly canon; set during the Saint Beasts arc, around the episode where Kurama defeats Genbu
Warnings: some violence, strong language
Author notes: It seems rather rushed, but I don't know how to fix it.)))
Touch of Ice
He stumbled and tripped over another stair. Damn it. The others were getting ahead of him again, and it bothered him. Perhaps it was merely vanity, but it disturbed him to be so weak, to be falling behind even the humans.
Kurama braced himself against one of the staircase's stone walls, clutching his stomach and trying to catch his breath. The wound across his torso stung and seared, stabbing at him with needle-sharp pains that refused to go away. Gritting his teeth, Kurama forced himself up another step, then another. He would see this through. He had to see this through.
He found Hiei waiting for him around another curve of the stair, although Yusuke and Kuwabara had raced on ahead. Hiei caught Kurama's arm as he staggered again. "You're an idiot," the hiyoukai muttered, shaking his head in exasperation, but he nevertheless took most of Kurama's weight against his side and supported him up the next few stairs.
"Don't," Kurama instructed through gritted teeth. "Keep walking, please. If I cannot keep up, I cannot keep up. You will be of more help in the coming battles than I, at this point. They need you."
"Don't be stupid. You'll make it." Hiei pulled on him insistently, hauling him up one more step.
"Hiei, please. I can't."
"Don't say that!" His voice was a guttural growl, lips pulled back in a snarl. "Come on, Fox. The humans are getting ahead of us."
Kurama smiled grimly. "I imagine you will catch up to them quite easily."
"Stop it." Suddenly, unexpectedly, Hiei pushed Kurama against a wall, forcing him down to the ground so the he was crouching by the wall, looking up at the Jaganshi. Hiei dropped to one knee beside him and placed his hand over Kurama's wound.
"Save your energy," Kurama advised.
"Shut up." Hiei pressed his lips tight together, concentrating intensely. "This is going to hurt. A lot."
Kurama braced himself. Hiei's hand heated abruptly and searing agony flashed over the thief lord's wound, racing across the opening inside and out. He could feel his body sealing up from the cauterization and the blood returning to its normal course, but most of his attention was taken by the fiery pain now flooding through him. It burned not just what it touched, but his entire body. Despite himself, Kurama gasped and then moaned.
Hiei flinched at the sound, making as if to remove his hand, but he ground his teeth and forced himself to finish the job. He had to work from the inside out to make sure no blood ended up trapped where it didn't belong in Kurama's body. His fiery tourniquet would damage the skin, but it would stop the bleeding, and that was what really mattered.
Kurama winced again and laid his hand over Hiei's, catching him with a pleading emerald gaze. Hiei lowered his face so that he wouldn't have to meet his partner's eyes and drew his warm hand out from beneath Kurama's cool skin.
"That's the best I can do," he said roughly, standing up in one swift movement and helping the kitsune to his feet. Kurama heard the unspoken apology in his voice and knew that Hiei wished he could cause a little less pain when trying to prevent… well, pain. He squeezed his friend's hand reassuringly.
"Thank you," he whispered.
"Hn." Hiei couldn't help trailing his fingers once more over the burned skin. Damn it all, he destroyed things even when he was trying to save them. He destroyed the people he loved even when he was trying to heal them. The burned area was warmer than the rest of Kurama's skin, which was cool when compared to Hiei's blazing body temperature.
"Why did it have to be fire?" Hiei murmured. Kurama didn't have to ask what he meant; instead, he laid one of his hands atop Hiei's, closing his slender fingers around the fire-demon's palm.
Hiei gave a start when he felt Kurama's skin. The skin on his hands was even colder than his side…
Just thinking the word gave Hiei a tremor. There was a deep wellspring of something untapped within him that he was afraid to approach, something that would disturb his image of himself as it was. He was a fire demon! He didn't cooperate with ice. He destroyed it!
But in this case, ice could do what fire could not. Ice could numb. Ice could heal.
Ice could help Kurama.
His eyes narrowed. He was unwilling to admit—even to himself—how much he wanted this to work. "Kurama," he said softly.
Kurama stared at him quizzically. "Yes?"
"Just… hold still." Hiei placed both hands over the sealed wound and closed his eyes. Think ice, he told himself. Ice. Iceiceiceiceice. Think snow. Frost. Think Koorime.
There's still something of that in you. Don't forget. Think Koorime. Think Yukina.
Snow. Ice. Frost. Snow. Snow, snow, snow… pure, cold, white snow…
Kurama's skin was cooling beneath his hands…
Liquid cold began somewhere in his chest and trickled through his arms, ending in his fingertips. Kurama's skin was cooling more rapidly now. The fox gave a slight shudder and a sigh of relief. Hiei shuddered as well, but out of disorientation as opposed to liberation. He quickly quelled the river of ice in his blood, shivering violently.
Kurama took Hiei's hands and looked directly into his face. "Thank you," he said sincerely.
Hiei stared at him for a moment, the pulled away. "Hn." He started back up the stairs.
Kurama smiled and started after him, knowing that they could both catch up easily now. He could still feel the touch of ice lingering in his body, to soothe and heal all of his scars—inside and out.