Okay everyone, I gave my original idea an ending. It may however not be the ending you were hoping for. If I can put a few ideas together with another story I was thinking about, I might be able to continue this or leave it as a stand alone and write a sequel. I don't know, we'll see where my imagination takes me.
One of my reviewers, a flame actually, accused me of using comments like that last one as a way of holding chapters or stories hostage as a way to get reviews. I would hope that after 29 published stories my true readers know I don't do that. I ask for input because I sincerely want it and I always finish my work. If I want reviews, which I do, I just plain beg for them. Oh well, the occasional flame doesn't bother me. I just wish they would log in and take credit for their words in stead of taking the cowards way out and doing it anonymously.
Enough rambling, enjoy the story and please leave lots of reviews. Thank you for reading and especially for the great reviews.
Standard disclaimer: I do not own YuYu Hakusho. Yu Yu Hakusho and it's characters are property of Yoshihiro Togashi, Fugi TV, Shueisha, Jump Comics and Studio Pierrot. The only thing I own is a love for Yu Yu Hakusho and it's characters. I make no money from this.
"Apparently you've been keeping some really big secrets from me and I want some answers Shuuichi. Or should I say… Yoko Kurama?" Watching his mother leave the room, Kurama's flu-muddled brain spun at her parting words.
Jumping from the bed, Kurama nearly fell from weakness before he managed to stumble across to the window. Using the ledge for support, Kurama leaned forward and called out. "HIEI! What the hell did you do?"
Behind him, Kurama heard amusement in his mother's voice as she called from the stairwell. "Get back in bed and drink your medicine Shuuichi!"
Not sure just what he was going to say to her, Kurama made his way to the bathroom. After taking the fastest shower in history, he slipped on a pair of jeans and grabbed a shirt. By the time he headed down the stairs he was so weak he wasn't sure he could make it to the kitchen. Pausing outside the kitchen, the redhead held the door frame for support and took a minute to catch his breath and collect his thoughts.
With a deep breath, Kurama stood tall and walked into the kitchen. The moment she saw him, Shiori began to fuss. "Shuuichi, you should be in bed. What were you thinking? Come and sit down."
Kurama's eyes never left her as he took the chair she indicated. When he was seated, Shiori went back to the stove. "There is still some of the medicine we brewed. Should I heat it up for you?"
Remembering the scent of his lavender blend in the mug upstairs, Kurama shook his head. "No Mother, I wasn't very sick, so I shouldn't need any more."
Shiori turned to him with a shocked expression. "Not very sick? Shuuichi, before Hiei arrived I was considering taking you to the hospital. Makai flu must be really bad if you weren't very sick."
With his heart pounding at her words, Kurama frowned. "Mother, hearing the words 'Yoko Kurama' and 'Makai flu' from you, I have to ask. Just what did Hiei tell you? You don't really believe what he said do you? I mean, Hiei loves to joke around as a way to pass the time."
Shiori set two plates of fried fish, rice and eggs on the little table before sitting across from him. "After everything I saw last night, this was no joke Shuuichi. I have to believe what Hiei told me was the truth."
When Shiori began to eat, Kurama dutifully did the same. After a moment he looked at her. "Perhaps it would help if you started with telling me what you think you saw last night."
Shiori smiled. "I'll just hit the highlights, you can probably fill in the rest. First Hiei said I could have killed you with the fever medicine because kitsunes were earth creatures and couldn't take conventional medicine. Then you took seeds from your hair and grew roots and leaves in the palm of your hand. Hiei boiling water with his finger and not getting burned was a bit exciting. Oh yes, he also mentioned having a Jagon eye that I saw glowing under his headband. That was all quite shocking, but the highlight of the evening was seeing my son with pointy silver fox ears and a long fluffy tail. Of course we had all night together for Hiei to explain all those things."
Kurama was speechless. After a moment, Shiori gave him a stern look. "I need to hear you say it Shuuichi. I've heard so many lies over the years, I'd like the truth now."
Pushing his plate away, looked at her sadly. "Hiei never lies Mother, nor does he joke. I have always dreaded this day, but I can see it's finally time to tell you the truth."
Summoning as much of his ki as he could, Kurama changed to his Youko form. Standing to his full height, Kurama walked around the table and went down on one knee before Shiori. "Your son was born with the soul of an ancient spirit fox. My name is Yoko Kurama, and I am a demon. I am who your son really is. I hope you can find it in your heart to accept me as a part of him."
With a shaky hand, Shiori slowly reached out to stroke a long silver forelock. "Hiei tried to describe you, but I never imagined this. You're beautiful. I always thought demons were ugly, scary monsters. You and Hiei are neither."
Kurama smiled revealing a hint of his fangs. "Thank you. I'm sure Hiei wouldn't fail to tell you that Youko's are very vain. We love compliments."
Shiori laughed. "He did, but not with the contempt that you imply. He was actually quite proud as he told me about you."
Tucking that information away, Kurama nodded. "Yes, though Hiei befriended me as Shuuichi, he has always considered this to be my true self, and believes this is how I should be."
Seeing a sudden tension around his eyes, Shiori frowned. "Are you alright? Maybe we should get you back to bed."
With a sigh, Kurama closed his eyes and reverted back to his human form. Seeing him struggle to rise, Shiori jumped up to help him. "Thank you Mother. I guess I'm not fully recovered yet."
Once Kurama was back in bed, Shiori sat beside him. "Shuuichi, about what you said a moment ago. Are you afraid I won't accept you now that I know you're a demon?"
Unable to meet her gaze, Kurama nodded. "I have always been afraid that you would reject me or fear me if you knew what I was."
Reaching out, Shiori hugged him tight. "Oh Shuuichi, you are my son. I love you no matter what. I see mothers that reject their children because of their politics, their careers, their spouses or their sexual orientation, and I'm horrified. I don't understand how any mother could reject a child. Especially a loving child like you."
Relief flooded Kurama giving him an inner peace he hadn't felt in a long time. "Thank you Mother. I do love you."
After kissing his cheek, Shiori told him to rest and left him alone. Glancing out the window, Kurama sent out a telepathic message. "You're still not off the hook Hiei."
After a brief pause he added. "Thank you Dragon."
From a tree across the street, Hiei smiled.
Thanks to Hiei's help, Kurama was fully recovered after only a few days. With no sign of the fire demon, Kurama assumed he had returned to Makai. It was probably for the best if he had, because they both knew that Kurama was still mad that Hiei had revealed his secrets to Shiori. Though he wanted to believe that Hiei ran in fear of his wrath, Kurama was under no such delusion. Hiei came and went as he pleased and feared no one.
Over the years, Hiei would randomly visit his former teammates. Sometimes he came just for a day, other times he would stay for weeks on end. He never gave an explanation, and his friends never asked for one. Knowing how important being Mukuro's heir was to Hiei, Kurama and the others learned to be grateful for whatever time the demon would spare them.
Believing Hiei was gone, Kurama was more than a little surprised to feel a trace of the fire demon's spirit energy nearby. Entering his room, Kurama pretended not to notice as he dropped a book on the nightstand and turned as if to get ready for bed. Frowning, Kurama heard the normally stealth demon come through the window.
With a smirk creeping across his lips, Kurama heard Hiei grunt. Turning around, Kurama slowly moved forward to where Hiei hung, pinned against the wall by a vine coming in through the window. "If you were trying to mask your ki from me Hiei, you failed miserably. I'm glad to see you didn't run and hide in Makai. You know I would have found you eventually."
Kurama's calm voice was low and calm as he advanced on Hiei. Green eyes narrowed when Hiei made no move to struggle or argue. In fact the demon hadn't even lifted his head. "What's the matter Hiei. It's not like you to just bow down and take your punishment."
Wanting some kind of reaction, or resistance from Hiei, Kurama allowed his vines to drop him. What Kurama wasn't expecting was for the fire demon to crumple forward. Jumping forward, Kurama caught Hiei before he fell to the floor. The moment he had Hiei in his arms, Kurama knew something was wrong. "Damn it Hiei, you're burning up."
With the feverish fire demon in his arms, Kurama paused only a second to consider his options before taking action. "MOTHER! I need help!"
A pained groan told Kurama that his friend hadn't fully lost consciousness yet. By the time he lifted Hiei in his arms and turned toward the bed, Shiori was rushing in the room. "Shuuichi! What's wrong?"
Not taking his eyes from Hiei, Kurama set him on the bed and began removing his clothes. "Hiei's burning up Mother. He must have caught the flu from me. I need you to start preparing the medicine while I try to cool him down. Just like before, split the root and boil it. Also, turn the oven on high and I'll be down in a bit to help."
Turning briefly, Kurama grew the elderberry root and handed it to Shiori. As he heard her hurry down the stairs, Kurama finished undressing Hiei. The fire demon was so hot, Kurama could barely touch him. Drawing several seeds from his hair, Kurama spread them around the bed. Within a few minutes Hiei was practically wrapped in thick succulent leaves. Even though their cooling moisture began absorbing the heat from Hiei's fever, the fire demon didn't relax. "I know you can hear me Hiei. Hold on just a little longer Dragon and I'll give you something to make you better."
Covering him to the waist with a sheet, Kurama ran downstairs to join Shiori in the kitchen. "Oh Shuuichi, the water's not ready yet. How's Hiei?"
Shiori watched in amazement as Kurama grew several plants and began preparing them. "His fever is controlled for the moment, but he needs to take this medicine before he gets any worse."
Instead of just the green sprig of leaves from last time, this time there was also a purple one and a red, flowery one. Laying them out on a pan Kurama held his hands over them for a moment. Shiori's eyes widened when the vibrant plants suddenly looked dead. After Kurama placed them in the oven he went around the kitchen gathering an orange, vanilla, honey and two tins from his tea collection.
Into the pot he squeezed the orange, added vanilla and squeezed a generous amount of honey. Removing the pan from the oven Shiori gasped when he gathered the hot, dried plants in his hands and crumbled them into the pot. He then he added several pinches from each of the tea tins. "Shuuichi, why is this medicine so different from the one Hiei and I made you?"
Taking a clean cloth from the drawer, Kurama began straining the mixture into a tea pot. "I am a Youko and very responsive to natural medicine. I need to treat Hiei differently because he is a fire demon, and it will be much harder lower his temperature. Because of his tremendous power I have to take him into a deep sleep. If he begins to hallucinate, he could lose control of his powers and use them against us. Hiei is also very young, and hasn't built up resistances to disease the way a demon of my age has."
Putting the pot and a mug on a small tray, Kurama looked at Shiori. "We have to hurry. I'm not sure how much longer Hiei can maintain control. Mother, I may have to do some strange things to control Hiei's powers and temperature. I don't want you to be frightened though, I will protect you."
With a little trepidation, Shiori hurried up the stairs behind her son. At the door, Kurama turned. "Mother I need you to hold the tray for a moment. Until I've got Hiei fully sedated you need to do whatever I say quickly and without question. Do you understand?"
Trusting him, Shiori nodded. As Kurama opened the door, he immediately blocked her path. "Close your eyes Mother, and do not move or open them until I tell you."
With her eyes closed, Shiori didn't see Kurama rush to the bed. Restless, Hiei had kicked both the covers off and some of the cooling plants away. What concerned Kurama however was that the ward over the Jagon was gone, exposing the dangerous purple eye. Cautiously reaching out to cover the Jagon, Kurama spoke calmly. "Hiei. Listen Dragon, I need you to help me close the Jagon before someone gets hurt. I'm going to cover it with my hands and use my energy to help you."
Kneeling on the edge of the bed, Kurama held his palms out over the Jagon as he tried to get the eye to close. The moment Kurama's spirit energy began flowing into him, Hiei began to settle down. "That's it Hiei. It's almost closed. I'm going to need Mother's help too, so please try hard to control it."
Hiei hissed "Hurry Fox", through clenched teeth. Kurama quickly pulled the sheet over Hiei's nakedness then turned to Shiori. "Mother! Go into my bathroom and get the first aid kit from under the sink! Hurry!"
Setting down the tray, Shiori rushed to the bathroom. Just as she was coming back with the first aid kit there was a commotion on the stairs, then Yusuke and Kuwabara appeared in the door way. Before either of them could enter or speak Kurama shouted. "Yusuke! Stay out! Kuwabara! Get over here and help me!"
At Kurama's authoritative tone, both men knew better than to question him. As Kuwabara went around to the other side of the bed, Kurama continued giving orders. "Mother, there is a roll of bandages in there. I need a piece about one and a half feet long as well as the marker that's there. Kuwabara, use your spirit energy to hold the Jagon closed while I write the spell for the ward."
The moment Kuwabara tried to take Kurama's place, Hiei began to growl and thrash. From behind them Yusuke shouted. "Damn it Kurama! Let me help!"
Golden eyes froze the Toushin with a glare. "Don't move Yusuke! Hiei has Makai flu! No matter how powerful you are Yusuke, you are much too young to have much chance of surviving it!"
Smacking the door frame in frustration, Yusuke stayed put. Kuwabara however reached for the bandage and the marker. "Kurama, Hiei's not going to let me near him. Yukina has been teaching me some spells, just talk me through it."
Shiori watched in amazement as Kurama talked and Kuwabara wrote in, what to her appeared to be, an alien language. After only a few minutes, the two men were tying a ward around Hiei's forehead. Even though the ward was in place, Hiei's jaw was still clenched as were his fists. Again when he spoke, his voice came out as little more than a hiss. "Fox… dragon."
When the men's eyes all turned toward Hiei's right arm, Shiori looked and gasped. The dragon tattoo that graced Hiei's arm was moving. It's head even seemed to be smoking. As Kuwabara reached for the roll of bandages, he questioned. "Damn it Kurama! How is that possible? The ward over the Jagon should have tamed the dragon."
Before Kurama could answer, Hiei's head turned and ruby eyes bore down on Yusuke. Almost instantly, Yusuke's head snapped around. "I'm on it Hiei!"
With Hiei's right hand cradled in his, Kurama's other hand was gently stroking the head of the dragon. "Hiei's fever is wrecking havoc with his spirit energy. Since the ward is preventing the Jagon from using the eye, it is channeling it's energy straight to the dragon."
Kuwabara unrolled a generous amount of bandage and again Kurama helped him with the spell. When Kurama began wrapping Hiei's arm in the new ward, Kuwabara noticed Shiori standing back against the wall. "Don't worry Shiori. We've got everything under control."
Feeling a little like she was in the Twilight Zone, Shiori looked up at him. "Where did Yusuke go?"
When Kuwabara suddenly realized what she'd just witnessed, he looked at Kurama. The redhead smiled as he finished wrapping Hiei's arm. "It's alright Kuwabara, she knows everything. Mother, a small group of demons must have sensed Hiei's erratic energy and came to investigate. Yusuke just went to advise them to leave."
From the doorway, Yusuke chuckled. "Always the diplomat aren't you Kurama? Luckily these demons practice my kind of diplomacy."
Ignoring Yusuke as he made his point by blowing the tip of his index finger as if he were blowing the smoke from the barrel of a gun. Kurama turned to Shiori. "Mother, can you pour Hiei's medicine please?"
Nodding, Shiori quickly poured the medicine. Lifting Hiei up, Kurama slipped behind him on the bed the settled the fire demon back against his chest. Taking the mug from her, Kurama coaxed Hiei to drink. "Yusuke, Kuwabara, listen carefully. Get the green bottle from under my bathroom sink. When you leave here I want you to go straight to the hot spring by the temple. Make a fire and burn your clothes. I'll call Keiko to bring you both clean ones. Pour half of that bottle into the spring then get in and scrub yourselves from head to toe. When you get home, take a shower to remove any residue from what's in that bottle. Don't ask what it is, you don't want to know."
Yusuke grunted. "Damn Kurama, if you're going to make us bathe in one of your creepy concoctions, you at least have to tell us why."
As Kurama talked, Hiei finished what was in the mug. Holding it out, Shiori refilled it as Kurama explained. "Makai flu is highly contagious. It strikes fast and it strikes hard. The younger you are, and the weaker you are, the more serious it can be. Luckily Hiei came to me as soon as he got sick. With his strength and the medicine I made, I'm hoping he'll be better in a few days. Even though you are powerful Yusuke, you are a baby by demon standards. Makai flu could be deadly for you."
Kuwabara's eyes widened nervously. "I'm human, I can't get it, right Kurama?"
Kurama shook his head. "No, you can't get it Kuwabara, but Yukina can. She may not be as young as Yusuke, but like Hiei she is still very young. Unfortunately she's not as powerful as they are. She would be the most vulnerable. I'm taking precautions with you so she doesn't get it."
Everyone thought Hiei was too sick to move until he reached out with lightning speed and grabbed Kuwabara by the shirt and pulled him down. Flaming ruby eyes glared at the big human. "If Yukina gets sick, you're a dead man."
Though his words were low, his lethal intent was still apparent. For once, Kuwabara didn't take offence to Hiei's protective behavior towards his wife. "Relax Shrimp. You know I will do whatever it takes to protect my beautiful Yukina."
When he released Kuwabara, Hiei pushed the mug away. Feeling the fire demon finally begin to relax, Kurama laid him down and tried to make him comfortable. "Sleep Hiei. With Yusuke's powerful ki signature lingering in the area, I don't think we'll have any more trouble. Even if there is, I'll be right here to protect you."
When Kurama turned back to his friends, Yusuke frowned. "What about you Kurama? How are you going to keep from getting sick?"
Kurama sighed. "Actually, this is all my fault. I caught the flu when I went hunting for herbs for Yukina not long ago. Luckily, I wasn't feeling well and came straight home instead of delivering them to her. Kuwabara, just in case my precautions aren't enough, I want you to keep a close eye on her. If she shows any sign of not feeling well or if her energy is off at all, call me. You too Yusuke."
When the two men left, Kurama was finally able to go to Shiori. Without a word, he wrapped his arms around her. "Thank you Mother. I'm proud of how brave you have been. Are you alright?"
Sighing, Shiori returned his hug before pulling away. "I am now. Shuuichi, from the tone of your voice earlier, I take it we were in a great amount of danger just now."
Pulling out the chair from his desk, Kurama waited until she was seated, then sat on the edge of the bed facing her. "Yes Mother, we were. Hiei is a very powerful demon. The primary source of his power comes from his Jagon eye. He is also master of a spirit world dragon, which is represented by the tattoo on his arm. Without Hiei controlling them, the Jagon would do irreparable damage to our minds, especially yours, and the dragon would destroy anything in it's path until it was contained. Not that any of it would matter since either of them would probably kill us anyway."
Shiori looked horrified. "Shuuichi! You just joked that we didn't have to worry about having our brains melted because we would have died first."
Kurama smiled. "I know I must sound callous, joking about death, but when you face it every day, you learn to accept it."
With a sigh, Shiori nodded. "I suppose I can understand that."
Reluctant though it may be, Kurama was grateful for her acceptance. "Mother, Hiei will sleep for a while. Why don't you go get some rest? It's going to be a long night."
Standing, Shiori shook her head. "I have a better idea. I'm going to go fix us a little bite to eat. Then I'm going to be here to help you take care of Hiei."
Knowing better than to argue with his mother, Kurama smiled as she kissed his cheek and simply whispered. "Thank you."
Before she left, Shiori paused to look at Hiei. "Shuuichi, don't you think you should have some blankets ready for when Hiei's fever breaks?"
Kurama frowned. "Why would I need blankets?"
Shrugging, Shiori reflected. "Well, I don't know if it will be different with Hiei, but when your fever broke, you woke up freezing. Hiei had to climb in bed with you and use his energy to warm you up."
When she left, Kurama went to Hiei and checked his temperature. Though he was warmer than usual, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. When Shiori returned, Kurama was sitting at his desk. Pausing in the doorway, she saw him writing furiously then just as quickly scribbling out what he'd written. Kurama was so deep in thought, he didn't even sense her return until she set a tray on the edge of the desk.
When he looked up, Shiori smiled. "Enough working Shuuichi. You need to eat something."
Shaking his head, Kurama dutifully picked up half a sandwich. "I'm not working Mother. I'm trying to figure out what dropped my temperature like that. If something I gave Hiei might harm him, I want to know it."
Absently eating with one hand, Kurama kept writing with the other. A few minutes later Kurama suddenly jumped up. "Damn it! You were right! I forgot that I changed the formula in my lavender blend! Mother, find that electric blanket you use in the winter! Hiei's going to be in trouble if his temperature drops too low!"
By the time he finished, the plants Kurama had used earlier to help keep Hiei cool had been reduced to seeds. Brushing them aside, Kurama checked Hiei's temperature again. Noting that he felt normal, in fact human normal, which would be too cool for a fire demon, Kurama turned and grabbed a few things from his dresser. He had just wiggled Hiei into a pair of long flannel sleep pajama pants when Shiori returned with the blanket.
Shiori watched as Kurama lifted Hiei enough to put him in a long-sleeved flannel pajama top. When Hiei was settled against the pillows again, the redhead slipped a thick fuzzy pair of socks on the fire demon's feet. "Thank you Mother. Let's put the sheet on him first, then the electric blanket, then my blanket on top to insulate the heat."
Together they bundled Hiei up. When they finished, Kurama sat on the side of the bed as Shiori pulled the chair close and smiled. "It's hard to believe just a few hours ago he was burning up, now he's swaddled to stay warm like a baby. Is he going to be alright now?"
Reaching around the covers, Kurama pressed his hand to Hiei's neck. "He's alright for now, but if his temperature goes down any more I'll change the electric blanket from medium to high."
Picking up their forgotten plates, Shiori handed Kurama his. "Finish your food Shuuichi, while you've got the chance. Now tell me why your and Hiei's temperatures dropped more than you expected."
Grateful for the chance to talk since he didn't want to eat, Kurama set his plate on the night stand. "Every ingredient serves a purpose, but if it is combined with another ingredient it's purpose changes. As a Youko, all I needed was a simple fever reducer with something to clear my chest and help me breathe. At my age and strength, I could handle the rest on my own once my symptoms were treated."
Shiori was stunned by his knowledge. "As a hundred year old fire demon though, Hiei needed a more complicated fever reducer as well as something to keep his energy from dropping too low. The problem happened when I copied Hiei's use of my lavender blend. I'm usually very careful what I mix together because of possible side effects."
Shiori frowned. "What is this lavender blend you keep mentioning? It sounded like tea to help someone sleep."
Kurama nodded. "By itself that's exactly what it is. Normally, even mixed with the elderberry root that's all it is. In the summer months though I add an ingredient that cools the skin's temperature to make it easier to sleep in the heat. Combined with the elderberry root, which lowers the core temperature, it makes for a dangerous combination. I'm not sure just how dangerous for a fire demon. I don't know how Hiei's body will handle the lower temperature."
As he finished speaking, Kurama suddenly frowned and turned to Hiei. "Dragon?"
In answer, Hiei's teeth chattered. Quickly switching the heating blanket to high, Kurama raised his spirit energy to surround Hiei. For a couple of minutes, Hiei settled down. Just when Kurama thought it would be alright, he felt Hiei's temperature dip.
Not wasting any time, Kurama pulled a seed from his hair and tossed it on the floor. Then he gathered Hiei up, blankets and all. A moment later Kurama heard Shiori gasp as the seed on the floor grew into a giant plant with a huge pod at the center. "Shuuichi, I can feel heat coming from that thing. Are you going to somehow use that on Hiei?"
Carefully spreading his energy to surround Hiei and control the plant, Kurama nodded. "The plant is called a Lava Lily. I'm going to put Hiei in the pod. The plant's temperature can be raised higher than the electric blanket. It will also get hotter than I can tolerate. Hiei should be just fine though."
Both Kurama and Shiori were surprised when there was a sudden growl. "Not plant food Fox!"
Kurama smiled. "I might still be a little upset with you Hiei, but not enough to feed you to my plants… yet. The Lava Lily pod will work like an incubator to keep you warm."
Again Hiei growled. "No plant! Warm enough right here!"
Clawing his way out of the cocoon he was wrapped in, Hiei grabbed the front of Kurama's shirt and buried his face against the redhead's neck. With a sigh, Kurama nodded. "Alright Dragon, no plant, but if I think you're in any danger you won't have a choice."
Seconds later the plant had reverted back to a seed. Lifting Hiei, Kurama climbed on the bed and held him close. "Relax and sleep Hiei. I'll take care of you."
Burrowing closer to Kurama, Hiei sighed and went back to sleep. Shiori picked the seed up from the floor and set it on the night stand before moving her chair closer. "Is he still cold?"
Kurama nodded. "Yes, but I won't force him into the plant's pod unless it's absolutely necessary."
Shiori frowned. "If it and the heating blanket are both warmer than you, why is it you Hiei wants?"
With a little chuckle, Kurama pulled the blanket better around Hiei. "Well, Hiei's always been wary that I might feed him to one of my plants some day, and I don't plan on dispelling that threat any time soon. As for me verses the blanket, it's my demon energy he's getting closer to, not me. If his body can consume enough of it, it will help him regulate his own temperature."
Shaking her head, Shiori smiled. "I think it's sweet the way the two of you rely on each other so much. When you were sick you called to him. Now he's sick and he came straight to you. You've cared for each other so tenderly and sought warmth and comfort from each other so easily."
Wanting to curb the direction her thoughts were headed, Kurama frowned. "It's not what you think Mother. Hiei and I are partners… FIGHTING PARTNERS! To a demon there is no one short of a mate that we would trust more, especially when we are vulnerable like now. That doesn't mean there is anything else between us."
Shiori was still smiling. "It also doesn't mean there couldn't be more. Why does the idea of a relationship between you two make you both so nervous?"
Silently praying that Hiei really was asleep and not listening, Kurama sighed. "It doesn't make me nervous Mother, just unlikely. I am curious however to know why you seem to be encouraging a relationship between me and Hiei? I always thought you wanted me to get married and have children."
Giving him a motherly look, Shiori shrugged. "Perhaps if you'd shown even the slightest interest in even one girl, I might try to influence you in that direction. You haven't though. In fact the only person I've ever seen you show any affection towards, besides me, is Hiei. I just thought maybe girls weren't your thing."
Surprised to see his mother so calmly fishing to see if he might be gay, Kurama told her the truth. "In Makai we don't use terms like straight or gay. If you love someone, it doesn't matter who they are."
With a confused frown, Shiori nodded towards the demon in his arms. "That's not what Hiei thinks. I don't mean about the sexuality thing, but he definitely thinks it matters who you are."
Horrified, Kurama cringed. "You talked to Hiei about this? Wait… what do you mean he thinks who you are matters?"
A little giggle escaped her at how confused he looked. "Yes I talked to Hiei about this. He took such good care of you. He held you and stroked your hair and back, just as you're doing his. As for the other thing, when I mentioned the possibility of you two being a couple he called himself lowly. He said you were from a distinguished Youko clan that were descendents of Inari, and would never consider taking the forbidden child as his mate."
As if he forgot his mother was even there, Kurama growled at the fire demon. "Damn it Hiei! You know that forbidden crap never meant anything to me. Oh Hiei, if only…"
As Kurama's voice trailed away, he shook his head. As if he suddenly remembered she were there, Kurama looked at his mother. Giving him a hopeful look, Shiori waited. After a moment, Kurama shook his head. "Perhaps in another place and time, there might be something between me and Hiei. For now though, it's not meant to be."
Shocked that he would give up so easily on something she was positive he and Hiei both wanted, Shiori tried to argue. "Shuuichi, I don't understand."
Holding a hand up, Kurama interrupted her. "No Mother, and you won't. I love you, but this conversation is over. Now I want you to go to bed. Hiei's temperature has stabilized and he's resting comfortably now, so you and I should get some sleep as well. Good night Mother."
Not used to her son dismissing her so abruptly, Shiori was dumbfounded. Eventually though, she rose and kissed his cheek. "Good night Shuuichi. I'll leave our doors open so I can hear you if you need me."
Kurama sat thinking for a long time after she left. Now that she knew his secret feelings for Hiei, he knew she'd be relentless in the future. Unfortunately, a future with Hiei was not something she was likely to see in her lifetime.
Looking down, Kurama brushed Hiei's hair back, then leaned over to gently kiss his temple. "I love you Hiei, and I'm sorry. For your sake, I hope my mother is wrong. The last thing I ever wanted was to hurt you."
Holding Hiei close, Kurama knew he wouldn't sleep. He would only have this one memory of holding the man he loved and he wanted to treasure and remember every moment. Soon, Hiei would recover and return to Makai. Though they would see each other on occasion, Kurama knew that Hiei's visits were becoming less frequent and would eventually come to an end.
As dawn approached, Kurama slept peacefully with Hiei still cuddled against him. Carefully loosening the ward over the Jagon, Hiei used it to keep Kurama asleep as he slipped from the redhead's arms and quickly dressed. Though he was recovering, Hiei was far from well. He knew however that he would suffer more if he remained with the fox.
Leaning over the bed, Hiei brushed Kurama's hair back to whisper softly in his ear. "I love you too Kurama. Be happy, and come home soon. I'll be waiting."
After pressing a gentle kiss to Kurama's cheek, Hiei turned and fled out the window. The moment Hiei was gone, the Jagon released Kurama. With an aching heart, Kurama turned and clutched one of the pillows to his chest. "Be safe Hiei. I'll be home someday."