Author's Note: Hey, everyone! Sorry this took a while to get up. I have started a novel (at least, I'm attempting one…wish me luck!). But I'm definitely not giving up on this story or "Healer," so no worries about it (seriously, I love both stories way too much) :D And now, without further ado, on with the fluffy shounen-ai goodness!

Chapter 12 Smile

Warmth. I felt warmth. Why? My eyes opened blearily, my vision slightly unfocused from sleep. Something was wrong…different. My hand automatically went to my katana which was ever at my side, even in slumber. Especially in slumber. I stopped myself before I pulled it from its sheath. I looked over at the source of the warmth I felt. Kurama. I glanced down at our hands, fingers still linked together. For some reason, I felt…happy. I glanced over at the sleeping fox again, studying his face. A piece of hair fell over his face slightly, half hiding his left eye. His lips parted slightly, and I could hear the small inhale and exhale of his breathing. His lids closed softly over those emerald eyes of his. When sleeping, it was difficult to believe that behind that innocent face was actually a ruthless, calculating demon. His eyes scrunched together, and he began fidgeting. I glanced away quickly before he woke up completely and found me analyzing him so closely. From the corner of my eye, I watched as his lids opened slowly, blinking a few times. His hand that was free curled into a fist and rubbed his eyes. The sight alone was enough to make me chuckle. Just waking up, Kurama looked more like a small child instead of a bloodthirsty youko. His eyes turned on me as soon as the sound was emitted from my mouth.

"Good morning, Hiei," he said sleepily, albeit cheerfully, as usual. His head laid back on his pillow, his brilliant red hair haloing his head. "Did you sleep well?"

I merely nodded in reply.

Kurama smiled, managing to disarm me completely, as always. "Much more comfortable than a tree branch, ne?"

"Hn," I snorted. Finally, "It's a little stuffy. I prefer the fresh air."

"Of course you do," Kurama said, his eyes twinkling. "But all the same, if you ever want a comfortable bed, feel free to share mine."

I glanced at him uneasily. "Hn, only a youko would so readily invite someone he only half knows into his bed."

For a brief moment, I regretted what I said as I saw Kurama flinch slightly. Suddenly, though, he was laughing. "I haven't lived as a youko in quite some time."

I could hardly believe he'd abandoned Youko's sexuality so easily. "Truly?" I asked, cocking an eyebrow.

Kurama nodded. "Truly."

I was shocked by the answer, then even more, realizing I was actually discussing Kurama's nightly activities with him. What did it matter to me whether or not he had any mates? I quickly changed the topic. "We should be going."

Kurama stood. "Yes, we should be." He started pulling down his pants.

"Wh-what the hell are you doing?" I stammered.

He looked at me curiously. "Changing, of course. I can hardly show up to the docks in my pajamas." Completely unperturbed, he continued stripping.

I turned my back to him, staring at the wall, my arms crossed. No way that youko had left behind his ways. I pushed the thought away. I cursed in my mind and grit my teeth. "It doesn't matter!" I stiffened as a felt a hand on my shoulder.

"Are you alright, Hiei?" Kurama asked. When I peered over my shoulder, I saw that his face showed nothing but pure worry.

I felt myself loosen up, my facial features relaxing at the sight of his face and sound of his voice. I shook my head. "It's nothing. Are you finished primping so we can leave?"

I walked to the window, placing my foot on the ledge.

"I have a door," Kurama said.

"Yes, downstairs—where your human mother is. No thank you," I said, jumping from the sill. The earth felt wonderful beneath my feet; the wind on my face relaxed me. I leaned against a tree across the street, waiting for Kurama.

He was emerging from the house, and I strained my hearing to listen to what he was saying. "Yes, mother, I will be careful. Of course I'll call." Kurama had a smile on his face. It looked…off for some reason. His mouth smiled, but his eyes did not. My breath caught as he waved goodbye to his mother and turned, his eyes meeting mine and lighting up. His smile with me was different than the one he wore as his human counterpart…Shuichi, his mother had called him. I briefly wondered what it must be like to live the existence of a lie.

"Come on, Hiei, I thought you were in a hurry," he said cheerfully, the smile ever present on his face.

"Hn. You're the one holding us back with your ningen sentimentalities," I said in an attempted sour tone.

Kurama laughed and together we headed toward whatever fate held in store for us at the dock to Hanging Neck Island.