The cinnamon cake was put aside, its crumbs beaten off the bedding and onto the ground. Hiei was always hungry when he came, and always too proud to admit it; but Kurama saw through his disguise. He knew, however, that there was a delicate balance between ningen food and Hiei. Hiei preferred even the simplest things to the finest cuisine of the Makai, but Kurama understood without testing that if he were teased or made uncomfortable, he might punish him by disappearing for a week. In that vein, the coffeecake Kurama'd been nursing in his bedroom for the last hour had been shared without a murmur. They had lapsed into quiet serenity after that, sitting on Kurama's bed, aloof but comfortable as they puffed spice into each other's faces and wished Shiori wasn't downstairs blocking the cupboards.

Hiei twisted Kurama's forelock idly between two fingers. He found himself suddenly annoyed at its just-brushed texture and careful ringlets, and, reactionary as always, he fisted and yanked without a second thought. Kurama bit back an undignified squawk, turning to fix him with his hardest glare. Hiei grinned at the exasperated look on Kurama's face and continued winding his hand, feeling the strands being yanked painfully from Kurama's scalp. Hiei dared Kurama to stop him with the tilt of his head and a heavy, sardonic smile.

"You should cut your hair," he grumbled, his fond words masking his actions as he nuzzled closer to Kurama. The moment felt oddly tender to him—even with Kurama's expression closing into a polite smile—and Hiei tugged harder.

"Should I really?" Kurama finally murmured, as if dangling a treat for a misbehaving dog.

"Yes," Hiei said, right on the edge of grousing. "It's a display of vanity and weakness. Anyone you fight can use it against you."

This observation was met with another chilled smile. Hiei felt his dander rising at Kurama's lack of response.

"And certainly, you're in a position to chide me on this," Kurama observed, unable to keep his voice from straying into a lofty, professorial tone. He was honestly annoyed at the consistent lack of conversation that was a prerequisite with Hiei. As a Youko, he was used to coaxing difficult lovers out of their shells; in fact, in situations where he was less invested than now, he viewed the coaxing as a game with stakes he always enjoyed. He knew that was one of the reasons he'd been attracted to Hiei in the first place: but that didn't exclude him from wishing for more personal, tractable contact.

"Of course I am," Hiei grunted, his good humor evaporating. "My hair is spiked and oiled, difficult to grasp. Yours, on the other hand…" He pulled up roughly. "Is not."

Kurama was finally tired of the rapport Hiei was trying to establish, and activated some of the choicer seeds nestled in his long hair. He grew several stinging nettles and wrapped them around Hiei's fingers, breaking their grasps one by one as vines swished, untangling the thick, luxurious curls. Kurama reached back and grabbed Hiei's small hand, bending and twisting it skillfully as he smiled at his lover, his beaming face still neither open nor unexacting.

"Have you learned your lesson?"

Hiei sneered, resisting the urge to ask 'what lesson,' understanding the trap Kurama had set for him. He refused to allow himself to be shown as a child by the ancient Youko, or even the ancient Youko's humanesque form, and opted for a low-pitched 'hn' instead.

"The lesson, Hiei, is nothing more than that I need my hair to hide seeds in, and it would be ridiculous for anyone who knows where I keep my weapons to try and grab there. It's one thing if they'd warded me first, but in such a case I would have much deeper problems than my opponent having a hold on my hair."

Hiei hid behind an arrogant, doubtful look, trying to conceal the pangs he felt that Kurama didn't understand what he was really trying to say, or the trust that he was showing him. For his part, Kurama was miffed; and looking too deep into his lover at the petulance Hiei fell back on in times of emotional diffidence.

Silence stretched between the two fighters as they nursed their rather petty hurts. Finally, though, Kurama softened his aggravation by delicately convincing himself that this was not a contention of pride, and he wouldn't lose face for breaking the exaggerated quiet. In fact, he decided, it was rather magnanimous of him to speak first and relieve his partner of the need to voice his thoughts. Hiei was never much of a talker.

"Oh, Hiei," he sighed. "You know how much I love you."

Hiei snorted and looked away, showing his skepticism with his body. Kurama reached out and trailed a finger down Hiei's face, smiling gently. He reached down to the scarf of Hiei's cloak, and pulled him upwards to waiting lips for a deep, leisurely kiss. Kurama didn't miss the way Hiei's mouth twitched into a relieved smirk right before they collided.

Kurama initiated contact, but after that he relaxed and let his diminutive lover take the lead, knowing Hiei's hatred of being dominated. He was not disappointed. A small, yet oddly strong hand threaded forcefully through the crimson tresses at the back of Kurama's head, and fisted, even as the little fire demon moved to straddle his waist. Kurama sighed into hard lips as he felt Hiei's partial erection settle against his own, evident even through his thick layers of clothing. He broke the kiss and let a palm rest on Hiei's side, savoring the sweet taste of cinnamon, and something indefinably male, and Hiei.

"No," he said, a light in his eyes saying he couldn't wait to pester his lover. "Let's try it like this."

Hiei allowed himself to be pushed off, and then smirked again, pleased by Kurama's idea. It wasn't often that a creature as proud as a fox placed themselves on their hands and knees for their partner. Hiei grinned to himself, his stolid exterior cracking slightly at the sight of that round, teasing ass, offered as an unvoiced apology for his insensitivity before. Hiei accepted the felicitous gift and gave his own by showing that he had no qualms about taking full advantage. They had a largely wordless relationship, but it had its ebb and flow, like any other.

Kurama moaned as hot hands drew up the striped button-down bedshirt, tracing his back. He arched himself as one burning finger dragged down his spine, and then a whole hand reached across the sculpted satin of his chest to trail over his abs and up, finding a nipple to stroke and pinch lightly. Hiei was purposefully surrounding his skin with a fiery aura as he played with the nipple in a deceivingly gentle fashion, knowing that Kurama loved the feeling of pain mixed in with his pleasure. The heat quickly took its toll on Kurama's nerves; they responded enthusiastically, singing and hissing with pleasure at the sparks of pain.

When he let go of the now puckered and erect nipple, he glided his hand over the creamy skin, leaving an inch between Kurama's body and his. He could practically taste the sweat and goosebumps that his taunts aroused. Overcome with a playful urge, he pretended he was bringing his hand back up to the nipple it had tormented, then suddenly swept down, so fast even Kurama couldn't prepare himself in time, and grabbed Kurama's cock through his pajama pants, feeling the cloth bunch up under his hand and create a counter-balance to his movements. The tension was almost unbearable to Kurama, who writhed and yelped, already far gone with desire at the feeling of warmth and heat and delicious friction.

His center was tensed and hard, not impressively sized, and so familiar to Hiei that he almost let out a real, sweetened smile. Instead, though, he snarled and ripped the pants off Kurama, who met his efforts with a loud groan. He allowed them to pool around his knees, before Hiei cupped the dick harshly in his hand once more, reaching from between his legs. Kurama bucked wildly into the heat, pre-cum dripping down from his cock and absorbed by his simple cotton underwear. Desperate moans filled the back of his throat, and Hiei worked the underwear off with ironic patience, wanting to see how far he could push the lust-driven fox.

"H-Hiei… Please…" Kurama whimpered shamelessly, arching his back and spreading his legs for him. His balls sat lightly on Hiei's forearm as Hiei fondled and caressed his dick with intent to torment. Kurama knew what was happening, and made himself as erotic as possible to tempt his little lover. His brows were knit together, soft moans and whines scorching their way out of his throat, and his tongue teased the tip of his mouth and his lips in an effort to arouse Hiei: an effort that was more than successful.

Hiei smirked, controlling his own concupiscence with some difficulty at the sight of his wayward lover. His aching shaft begged to be freed from its binding and plunged into Kurama's tight, familiar warmth; but Hiei opted for another route.

Kurama had great expectations, and was looking forward to Hiei's creativity in pleasuring him. He was not disappointed.

"What do you want, Fox?" Hiei snarled in his ear, releasing the erection to run a hand over his smooth, rounded ass. His finger traced the teasing hole and put just a bit of pressure on it while he listened to Kurama's needy yips.

Kurama reached back and grabbed Hiei's hand, the one bracing him against Kurama's bed. It was brought to the front, and a silky red tongue dragged up the palm, loving the taste of salt and sweat and that strange spice, before the index finger was taken adroitly between his lips. Hiei couldn't stop a half-stifled moan as his shaft became fuller and tighter at the wet warmth and hard insides of Kurama's mouth.

"Hiei…" Kurama whispered, the pestering, lascivious look back in his cloudy green eyes, "stop teasing me." He couldn't hold in the smirk that crept onto his face as he rocked back towards the finger that stayed just out of reach.

Hiei grinned, his restraints overcome by the sight of the smile on Kurama's hungry face. He leaned over and placed an uncharacteristic kiss on the side of Kurama's mouth, and, all in one, he summoned just the right amount of energy to his finger and thrust it inside. The digit remained ramrod straight, knowing instinctively the perfect angle to jab the prostate with a heated claw.

Kurama howled, one of his hands straying down to his own deprived cock. He was glad for the barrier he'd set up around his room to blank out any noise and persuade ningen to walk past without entering. It was a necessary evil; he was a screamer, and he liked to give Hiei an exaggerated view of how good he was besides that. To his credit, Hiei saw through the obfuscation and rewarded it by tormenting his lover just a titch past the point of good humor.

Kurama grabbed the comforter, spread his legs, and arched his back so that his hardened nipples could rub against the harsh weave of his bedding and the tip of his erection could catch on the cloth, as his awkwardly positioned hand tried to work the balls and base with only marginal success. He tightened himself teasingly around Hiei's finger, making soft, high-pitched noises. He wouldn't reward himself or his lover by writhing fully just yet, but he did bite the comforter and arch his brows, knowing that Hiei found expressions like that erotic. Even Kurama, however, was unprepared for the tongue that suddenly replaced the finger.

Hiei usually avoided such acts, acts that would loosen his tenuous hold on control with the dangerous fox, but in this case the piece of his mind that longed for neither death nor destruction broke through. This was the real Hiei, the emotionally stunted Hiei, who still dared to wish for love and acceptance by someone, anyone. It was true that in his waking hours he never even said "I love you," to Kurama, but at night, when the fox fixed him with that beautiful smile, he let a little more of himself out—opened himself up in a way he never had before he met Kurama, Yuusuke and the rest.

Kurama was in a state of pure bliss when he felt the change in his lover, and, though part of him wanted the long, impossibly hot tongue to continue pleasuring him in ways he only dimly remembered from his life as a Youko, he still wished he'd chosen a more intimate position. In spite of those times when he bothered Hiei, in spite of his aggravation at his continued coldness, he understood the difficulties Hiei had faced, and underneath his vain exterior he really did want to make Hiei happy. The hand that had been grasping his erection moved back and pushed on Hiei's confused forehead, his cock twitching when Hiei's tongue was jolted. After the unbelievable, scorching muscle had receded, Kurama rolled over with a tired smile, suddenly feeling drained of his lust and filled with something else, something he had no knowledge of. "I'm not going to last much longer, so let's speed this up, shall we?"

Hiei grinned, and was between Kurama's raised knees in an instant, knowing that Kurama was just trying to give him a chance to take what he wanted and neutralize the power plays they were both resorting to. His mouth reached up to roll a nipple between his tongue and his teeth, and Kurama responded with a muffled whine. Hiei hooked Kurama's legs over his narrow, muscular shoulders; looked up into surprisingly clear, crystalline eyes; and smirked.

"This is what you wanted, Fox," he said, and then thrust in suddenly. Kurama arched and gasped, the heat, if not the girth, filling him completely. Somehow, the love-making that occurred felt different from any that had happened between them before. Hiei wasn't tender, and Kurama continued to taunt him and amuse himself with Hiei's mind, but in one way or another, there was gentleness, closeness, and a sort of moral fatigue that brought them both quickly over the edge. The sex itself was uneventful, but when Kurama pulled the covers over them instead of getting up to put his clothes on, and Hiei didn't sweep on his cloak and leave, they both knew there was another side to their relationship, a side they hadn't before explored. They lay there in each other's arms, and marveled that two beings as flawed and conceited as them could ever share a romance, or even a love interest at all.

All good things must come to an end. Hiei felt himself letting down his defenses and falling asleep, and immediately shook himself awake like a dog and started clothing himself in quick spurts, only just managing to hide how sated and tired he felt, drained by emotions more than sex.

"Tomorrow, Fox," he said, and left, taking the scent of burnt cinnamon with him.

Kurama cracked an eye from his lazy position on the bed, and smiled. "Tomorrow."