Hiei awoke to an embarrassed squeal and irritable mumbling as Botan zipped cheerfully through Yusuke's window, not bothering to check first to see if they were even decent. Luckily, they were both in sleep pants, Yusuke being uncomfortable naked and Hiei utterly indifferent. Still, he had forgotten that both Yusuke and Kuwabara often complained that the ferry girl had a bad tendency to burst in on them at the most inconvenient times.
Ignoring Botan's flustered ramblings, Hiei dressed himself then leapt easily out Yusuke's window, leaving the boy to deal with the blue-haired female. Her overly-cheerful personality usually left him in a foul mood for hours. No doubt Yusuke would report whatever she had to say later. For now, though, Hiei supposed he ought to go see Kurama. The fox had probably already heard from Botan, and sent her their way for fun.
He chuckled to himself as he heard Yusuke's raised voice. "Botan! Can't you at least call first or somethin'?" Turning away, he headed for Kurama's home, leaving Yusuke to deal with his uninvited guest. Hopefully she'd at least be able to tell them something useful before she lost coherency altogether.
Slowing as he neared Kurama's neighborhood, Hiei frowned; the fox wasn't home. Hiei hadn't passed him, and the fox would have told him if he was heading for Genkai's. Which meant that he was either in the Spirit World – unlikely, as Botan was here – or he was in the Makai, trying to keep track of the chaos surrounding Yusuke's second rescue. As that was more probable, Hiei turned around and headed back for Yusuke's place. Botan was gone when he slipped in the door, which had been unlocked between last night and his return, and Yusuke was waiting for him, his expression intent.
"I've gotta go to the Makai, Hiei," he said. The fire demon just nodded; he had suspected as much, though he had hoped Yusuke might have another day or two. "That bastard caused a lot of damage, and there's still unrest among my people. This isn't gonna be fixed just because the ringleader is dead now," he admitted unhappily.
Hiei just shrugged. "War is easier to start than end," he stated simply. "Kurama is probably there already, either in your lands or with Yomi. I need to see Mukuro, you need to see to your people." Yusuke just nodded his agreement, picked up a small pack that had been lying at his feet, and walked out the door, Hiei at his side. Botan must've given Yusuke coordinates, because the boy headed east, occasionally glancing down at a small compact in his hand that beeped and flickered.
When they arrived, Yusuke stopped, scowling. "Wow. Things must be really bad if this is the portal," he grumbled. Hiei silently agreed; they were standing above a street grate. With a sigh, Yusuke tugged the large grate out of its place and set it aside. One of Koenma's people would probably close it and the portal once they were through.
Yusuke made a small retching sound at the smell, but then leapt in feet first. A flash of light indicated that he had hit the barrier and was in the in-between area that separated the Ningenkai from the Makai. With a small grimace of disgust, Hiei followed, grateful when he joined Yusuke in the portal's tunnel. He could feel the gate closing behind them as they took off down the straight path, heading for the Makai. As they ran, Yusuke's power breathed around them, his hair sprouting as his Mazoku markings appeared across his skin. He would be going into the Makai as a King, not a human. Hiei approved, but maintained his stoic silence. Whatever happened in the toushin's lands would depend on what Yusuke did in the next several hours or days.
The two youkai were spilled rather unceremoniously into the Makai, landing swiftly on their feet and looking around. They were right on the border between Yusuke's lands and Mukuro's, and Hiei wasted no time. Without so much as a wave, he turned and headed for Mukuro. Both he and Kurama had chosen to help Yusuke rather than their former lords, but they were both welcome in the lands of both great youkai. Hiei wanted to know what Mukuro intended to do about the unrest in Yusuke's lands. He was hoping that she had decided on a wait-and-see policy, but Mukuro wasn't as patient as Yomi, so she might decide to try and take a hand in settling the problem instead.
Hiei felt several the calm youki of toushin behind him, indicating that some of Yusuke's advisors had come to meet him. No doubt they'd have sage advice to offer, which their ruler might or might not actually pay attention to. Yusuke's aura flared up slightly in response to their sudden appearance, but settled quickly. The Mazoku was still wary, but not about to attack, and Hiei stopped worrying. If Yusuke's advisors were stupid enough to get themselves killed because they startled their king, that was their problem.
Mukuro was sitting idle in her fortified castle when Hiei walked up, the guards nodding a respectful greeting at him as they let him pass. Hiei ignored them, intent on his own mission. The youkai lord stood to greet him as he entered, and Hiei bowed briefly before straightening up again. He hadn't knelt before her in years. "Ah, Hiei. I had the feeling you'd be coming to visit. So much excitement lately," Mukuro spoke with a quiet amusement.
Hiei nodded. "Yes. Lord Urameshi is here now, reassuring his people," he responded formally. "However, I wish only to verify that you do not intend to interfere." Hiei spoke as bluntly as he always had. There was no need for him to dance around the topic with Mukuro. She wouldn't appreciate it even if he did, which suited him just fine.
Her head tilted back as Mukuro laughed, the sound joyous and filled with mirth. "Oh, Hiei. I wouldn't dream of trying to claim the boy's lands right now." Crimson eyes stared at her steadily, not entirely convinced, and she smiled at him, her face bare. She had no need to hide here in her own home. "I'm quite serious, Hiei," he murmured. "That boy is strong in his own right, and he's here, trying to make things right among his people. He could have abandoned the toushin people after the betrayal, but he has chosen to truly be king. Both Yomi and I have great respect for him, even if it's not always obvious."
Hiei shook his head. He knew that they both respected Yusuke, but he hadn't realized that they saw the same thing in the Mazoku as Hiei and Kurama did. An inner strength that would never fail him, a heart that was capable of both mercy and compassion, and an incorrigible desire to do the right thing. It was what had gotten him killed twice now. Hiei still considered it a miracle that the other boy was alive. Koenma had saved him the first time, giving him a second chance at life with the help of Kuwabara and Keiko. And his own ancestry had saved him the second time, giving him a part of his heritage that he would have never imagined existed.
Hiei often wondered why it was that everybody else saw Yusuke's redeeming qualities so much more quickly than he had. Then again, when he had first met the Spirit Detective, the boy had been new and hunting him. Hiei was just glad now that Yusuke had beaten him by sheer luck. If it had been anything else, Hiei would've been screwed.
"Will you stay here for a while?" Mukuro's question broke Hiei out of his thoughts, and he shook his head; he needed to meet up with Kurama, and then they needed to go see how Yusuke was doing. "Very well, then," Mukuro replied easily. "But at least rest here for a while. I'm sure that while Lord Urameshi would no doubt appreciate your presence, it is, perhaps, not what he needs right now."
Hiei glared at her, wanting to be angry, but well aware that she spoke only the truth. What Yusuke needed to do right now was focus on his land, on his people. He needed to ensure that the dead got proper burials, and that the living were taken care of. He had to try and restore the land, and before that, he'd have to crush any pockets of resistance that still existed. No doubt with Uragiri gone, they'd be in a state of confusion right now, but that didn't make them less dangerous, just desperate. And sometimes, desperation made them more dangerous, because they had nothing to lose, and nobody to reign them in.
The desire to rush to Yusuke's side flooded through Hiei, but he grit his teeth and nodded acceptance of Mukuro's gracious offer. If anything happened to the Mazoku, Hiei would know. For now, though, he realized that his very desire to see the other boy was detrimental. For both of them. Yusuke would need to stand on his own, to show his people that he was strong enough to protect himself, and them. His toushin advisors would provide their assistance, and Yusuke had friends and allies among his people that would help him take on any enemies.
Hiei allowed Mukuro to lead him to a guest suite, not questioning it. Mukuro hadn't used servants to attend to Hiei in years, and he was, in a strange way, touched by that. They had been lovers for a brief while, but Hiei had been too angry, too much of a villain, to stay with her for long. She might be a powerful youkai lord, and was ruthless in battle, but she still felt those softer emotions, too. At the time, Hiei hadn't felt any of that, and their romps had meant little more to him than stress relief, a brief moment of indulgence before he was back to stealing or killing or whatever it was he felt like doing.
Now, Hiei realized that they would have never worked together anyhow, and the realization was a relief. Neither he nor Mukuro had any obligations to each other as lovers. Their past had bound them together, but neither one had any interest in holding on to the other. So things would stay as they were between them.
Mukuro turned to look back at him. "What are you thinking about, Hiei?" she asked, and her voice was genuinely curious. There was no ill intent meant by the question, and Hiei decided to answer her as honestly as possible.
"I'm thinking that I've finally found what I'm looking for," he replied. "I think I might actually be happy." Mukuro smiled back at him, but said nothing, continuing on her way, Hiei following her, turning his newest revelation over and over in his head. It was an odd feeling, the knowledge that you just might have found the one thing in the whole world that could make you happy. Hiei savored the emotions, and the handful of servants they passed were smart enough to keep silent, though later they'd whisper in hushed tones about the odd sight of a smiling fire demon.