The Meaning of Christmas

"Kurama, please explain to me again the point of all this idiocy," Hiei said, a sour look adorning his face. His brows furrowed and his lips puckered as he examined the new decorations in Kurama's living room. Hiei noted there were extra candles lit around the room. Everything was suddenly green and red, too, though Hiei didn't mind the color change so much. Several large, red flowers stood in pots around the room. Hiei wasn't certain if that had anything to with the new decorations or simply had to do with Kurama and his plant experiments. The strangest decoration of all, though, loomed before him. A large tree stood in front of the window—Hiei had yet to decipher how a tree could grow out of the ningen thing called "carpet." That wasn't the only strange thing about this tree. Somehow, lights grew on the tree as well as many different colored orbs, and on the top was a ridiculously large star. Hiei concluded that whatever this nonsense was about, he likely wanted no part in it.

"It's nearly Christmas, Hiei," Kurama stated, as if this should have been clear to Hiei, as if it was all so obvious.

"What?" Hiei asked blankly. "Kurama, is this another of your idiotic ningen customs?"

Kurama sighed as he placed the final colorful orb on the tree. "Christmas is celebrated by humans. It's not idiotic at all, though," he said defensively.

Hiei stared at him, doubt written all over his small face.

Kurama sighed again. "Come sit down, Hiei, and I'll explain Christmas to you. Do you want some hot chocolate?"

Hiei's eyes lit up. Kurama had given him hot chocolate before, and since the memory was favorable, Hiei was seriously considering saying yes. Then his eyes narrowed. "Does hot chocolate have something to do with Christmas?" He nearly spat the last word out.

Kurama covered his mouth, trying to hide his smile. "Well, not technically. It's just a good drink when it's cold, which it happens to be at Christmas time."

Hiei considered this, then nodded slowly. "Hot chocolate would be acceptable, then." He sat down.

A moment later, Kurama returned with two steaming mugs. Turning one, he handed it to Hiei and took a seat next to him. "Alright, are you ready to hear about Christmas?"

Hiei took a long sip in reply.

Kurama nodded. "Right. Well, Hiei, Christmas means something different to everyone. For some, it is a time of year when people show good will toward others. Religious people celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world. Some people view it as a time to spend with those they love. And some people view it a little more materialistically and buy and receive gifts. Does that sum Christmas up for you?"

"Not at all," Hiei said.

Kurama blinked, confused. "What question do you have, then?"

"Well, for one, what the hell is that tree growing out your floor? That has to take some work. Not to mention the fact that you somehow managed to make the tree sprout lights. How do you explain that to Shiori?"

Kurama blinked once, twice, and then burst out laughing. He bent over double on the sofa, his red hair touch the same carpet the tree was "growing" from.

Hiei growled. If there was one thing he disliked nearly more than anything else, it was being made to feel like a fool.

Kurama held a hand up, and tried to straighten himself. Breathing deeply, he wiped the tears streaming from his eyes. "Gomen ne, Hiei. The tree isn't growing out of the—the—the carpet!" Kurama struggled to keep from laughing again. Hiei's snarl was enough to calm him down. Face matching his hair, Kurama cleared his throat. "The tree is sitting in a pot of water, just like the other plants in the room. It won't live long like that, only a couple of weeks at most before it dries up and dies. Of course, if I wanted to, I could make that stretch out to three or four weeks, but there's really no point in that. As for the lights, they're not growing out of the tree, either. They are just a decoration, like the ornaments you have been seeing me put on the tree."

Hiei peered under the tree, and seeing the large bowl of water the tree sat in, he seemed to accept this strangeness. Thinking of something else, he frowned. "But what's the point of the tree? You can't climb it, or sleep in it, or hide in it. And even if you could, all those stupid lights and orbs would attract attention to your location."

Shaking his head, Kurama answered, "There's no practical point to the tree, Hiei. It's symbolic of the Christmas spirit, and it's aesthetically pleasing."

Hiei stared, bewildered. "That's stupid."

"That's only because you think Christmas is stupid, Hiei," Kurama pointed out.

"So," Hiei began, "that is why Yusuke, his mate, and the idiot are coming over soon? To celebrate Christmas, since apparently you are supposed to be with people you care about?"

"Correct," Kurama said. "Don't forget that I invited Genkai and Yukina, as well."

Hiei made a noise of displeasure in the back of his throat. "Great, now I get to spend an evening of watching the oaf fawn over my sister and you telling me I can't cut his throat."

"The holidays can bring out the worst in people, too," Kurama said wisely.

Hiei chose to ignore his mate's last comment and finished his hot chocolate instead. As the last drop hit his tongue, he looked in the cup, making sure it was really empty. "I don't suppose you have any more of this?" Hiei asked holding his mug out.

"Of course, Hiei," Kurama said.

Two cups of hot chocolate later, the doorbell rang. "Looks like our first guest has arrived," Kurama announced. Answering the door, Kurama welcomed the guest, "Merry Christmas!"

Hiei sighed and prepared for the torture to commence. Hiei looked up, only mildly curious as to whom the first guest was. He scowled at his bad luck. Kuwabara, Genkai, and Yukina had all arrived at the same time. Hiei wondered if Kurama had anything stronger than hot chocolate in the kitchen.

Hiei's curiosity about the drink increased as Kuwabara's gravelly voice his eardrums. "Wow, Yukina, you look really nice in your new kimono."

"Arigatou, Kazuma. That's very sweet of you," Yukina's voice tinkled in reply. Hiei suppressed the itching his hand felt for his katana. Kurama had conveniently made him leave it upstairs in his bedroom. Damn fox.

Looking up, he discovered Yukina had come to stand in front of him. Hiei straightened. "Merry Christmas, Hiei-san. Are you enjoying the holiday? It's very beautiful, ne?"

"Hn. Not really."

"Oh," Yukina answered awkwardly. Hiei watched as Kuwabara dragged her away. He sat alone on the sofa, watching Kurama entertain the three. He couldn't understand what was so great about Christmas.

The doorbell rang again. Hiei's eyes stayed on Kurama as he hurried to the door again, opening it to find Yusuke and Keiko arguing on the other side of it.

"Why do you have to take so damn long to get ready? Your hair still looks the same as it always does, anyway," Yusuke grumbled.

"Oh, please, Yusuke! The whole reason we're late is because you didn't tell me about the party until an hour ago, you dim-witted fool! Don't blame me!"

"Ano…Merry Christmas?" Kurama said, posing the statement as a question.

Both Yusuke and Keiko looked up, unaware that they had an audience. "Merry Christmas!" Keiko bowed. "Thank you for inviting us. We are so sorry we're late, aren't we, Yusuke?" Keiko asked, glaring at the black-haired teen standing next to her.

"Sure, sure," Yusuke said, brushing her off. "Merry Christmas, Kurama!" Keiko fumed as she and Yusuke walked in the door.

Genkai chuckled. "Maybe you'll finally accept that you're a dimwit now that I'm not the only one who thinks so, Yusuke."

"Ha! Don't count on it, Grandma!" Yusuke countered.

Hiei sat for nearly an hour watching the others celebrate, never getting up or saying a word. He particularly watched Kurama, who was busy ensuring his guests were entertained and always had refreshments.

Kurama came over to the sofa and sat next to Hiei. He leaned back and sighed. Hiei's eyes narrowed. "I'm sure they can get their own drinks, Kurama."

Kurama arched one brow. "Worried, Hiei? Or just jealous?"

Hiei growled, eliciting a chuckle from Kurama.

"It's polite that whoever is hosting the party keeps the guests happy," Kurama explained. "Besides, Christmas is all about doing nice things for others. 'Good will toward men,' and all."

"Hn," Hiei snorted. "You wouldn't catch me playing servant to anyone."

"Hey, Kurama, you got anymore of this eggnog?" Yusuke interrupted, hiccupping.

Seeing Keiko's glare, Kurama suggested punch instead.

"As long as it's as eggnogged as the spike is," Yusuke said drunkenly.

"Of course," Kurama lied, shaking his head to let Keiko know it was a non-alcoholic punch. Keiko sighed in relief.

As the night ended, Keiko thanking Kuwabara for taking care to see that Yusuke made it home, Kurama waved good-bye to his guests and closed the door.

Kurama switched the lights off, walked to the couch groggily and reclined, laying his head in Hiei's lap. "I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the Christmas party, koibito."

Hiei shrugged his shoulders. He glanced over at the Christmas tree, the only illumination in the room. He had to admit, it was kind of nice looking, especially in the dark.

Kurama followed his glance. "Pretty isn't it, especially when there are no lights on."

"Hn," Hiei answered, shrugging his shoulders again. "It's alright." Hiei placed his hand on Kurama's head, stroking his hair.

Kurama purred.

Hiei stood, Kurama's head unceremoniously hitting the arm of the couch. Kurama hissed. "Hiei," he began.

Hiei cut him short. "Would you like anything to drink?" he asked.

Kurama straightened and sputtered, "What? You're serving me?" His brow arched, and a smile touched his lips.

"Do you want anything or don't you?" Hiei pressed, blushing.

"Hm…some eggnog sounds nice. Bring two cups—one for you, one for me."

Hiei returned briefly, bearing two cups of the creamy drink. "What is this stuff, anyway?"

"Well, technically," Kurama admitted, "eggnog is a Christmas drink."

Hiei paused. Shrugging his shoulders, he took a sip. Smacking his lips, he passed his judgment, "For a Christmas drink, it's not half bad." He finished the rest of his drink in one gulp and returned to kitchen for a second drink.

Kurama sipped his slowly, smiling.

Twelve cups of eggnog later, Hiei's head was resting in Kurama's lap. "Christmas can't be too bad with a drink like that. Are you sure those are just eggs in there?"

Kurama chuckled. "There may have been more ingredients." A pause. Then, "Hiei."

"Hm?" Hiei answered, somehow managing to slur a one syllable word.

"I have something for you."

Hiei's attention caught, he looked up and met Kurama's eyes. "What?"

"Remember I told you people usually give a gift to others at Christmas?" When Hiei nodded, Kurama continued. "Well, I have a Christmas gift for you."

Hiei watched as Kurama stood and retrieved a small package from the branches of the tree, hidden among the shiny orbs. As Kurama sat back down, Hiei took the package from Kurama's outstretched hand.

The small, square package looked mysterious. It was covered in a colorfully patterned paper and topped with a bright red bow. Hiei eagerly ripped the package open. Inside was a small, velvet box. Hiei looked at it curiously, and then glanced up at Kurama.

"Go ahead, open the box," Kurama encouraged.

Hiei fingered the velvet box. It was very soft. Opening the lid slowly, he peered inside. A silver ring lay encased inside on another velvet cushion. Hiei carefully picked up the ring. He stared at it. Engraved on the outside was a dragon entwining a fox. It was the most intricately beautiful thing Hiei had ever seen. On the inside of the band read, "Merry Christmas Love, Kurama." Hiei turned it over in his hand multiple times. "But, I don't have anything to give you in return," he whispered finally.

"Yes, you do," Kurama answered, whispering as well. "Just say you'll accept it and wear it. That's all I could ask."

Hiei nodded and slipped it on his ring finger. Hiei looked up just in time to see Kurama flying at him, tackle him to the couch, and kiss him. "Merry Christmas, Hiei," Kurama breathed, breaking the kiss, his cheeks flushed.

Hiei smiled a rare, genuine smile. "Merry Christmas, fox."