Kill All the Redheads!

The fact was, that had been Hiei's first thought when he had heard the casualty list. Kuwabara. Jin. Kurama. Mukuro. All four redheaded. All four gone.

He had not mentioned this to anybody, and not only because it was irrelevant and not only because he was presently not speaking to anyone. And certainly not because if Yusuke had heard that that was his first thought he would have hit Hiei with all his strength, and with that surprising speed he acquired in true rage. After all, Hiei had been part of the battle in which those four had been lost. Hiei had hardly been hindmost in the vengeful, bitter rally the next day, when the nameless force and its undemon hordes had been thrust back into the nothing-sea from whence they had come, and no one had shed more enemy blood than Hiei, on the day after the redheads died.

Kuwabara, the color of ripe carrots, had always been weak. It was natural. He was only a human, and he had been getting on in years. But he had stood gallantly and defended well until the end. It had been...fitting.

Jin, the color of snapping coals, had been a more than respectable power, but he had been soft. He fought happily, lightly, as if nothing important hung in the balance, as if all reality were a game. He thought the world was good. Doomed.

And Kurama, the color of old roses, was always dying. His life, as far as Hiei understood the fox's thoughts, was now a borrowed thing, having been lost once already and stolen back. He had lost a fierceness that he had probably once had, a hungry desire to live and fight on. Kurama was always dying. Perhaps all those inconclusive ends had made him overconfident, or perhaps he had simply not cared to take care, but since he had gone on fighting like a man whose death was incidental, he had always been about to die. Hiei had accustomed himself, with irritation, to the potentiality. Though he would curse Kurama's foolishness in many darknesses not yet fallen, it had been no shock.

But Mukuro. The color of faded leaves. She had had what was necessary to survive. Her power was vast. Her wits were sharp. She was completely selfish, and she would never have resigned herself to death for an instant. She was—by a little—never by too much—his superior, and only her own will could break itself. It was impossible that she was dead. It was unreasonable. It could not be so. Even once he had avenged her death, and gone back to her house to see that it was not disgracefully looted by anyone but himself, Hiei simply didn't believe that Mukuro could be gone.