Disclaimer - I am a poor college student, I don't own anything.

Chapter 5

Three days (isn't that always the magic number?) after Hikari promised she would fight to live, she woke up from her deep healing sleep. Her efforts and the Spirit World healers had accomplished a great deal – her broken ribs, left arm, lower vertebrate, missing teeth, eyesight (from being in the dark so long), right ankle, and a few fingers and toes were all set and on their way to healing. The strained muscles all over her body would have to heal naturally. Her burns had started to scab over, and did many of the lacerations on her body.

Hikari blinked as sunlight steamed over her tender eyes through the open curtains of her infirmary bed. She scouled, wishing for the black drapes of the bed in her room – they kept out such annoying sunlight. At first all she could see was dark and light blurts around her.

"I'll close the blinds. Just give your eyes a bit of time to ajust. Try to avoid the temptation to keep them closed" a voice called.

Hikari thought she almost recognized it but her brain was too muddled to be sure, and her body was in too much pain to be nice, so she snapped, "who the hell are you?"

"I'm Kurama. I don't think we have officially been introduced. I am a member of team Urameshi and I part time healer for the Spirit World infirmary, when Koenma doesn't have me off somewhere."

"You are the one who is dear to Hiei" Hikari said matter of factly.

"Yes, I suppose you could say it that way" Kurama said, not bothering to hide his smile because Hikari couldn't see it yet. He was thinking, I could say the same thing about you, Hikari-san, but didn't dare say that aloud. Instead Kurama settled for small talk. He pulled up a chair to Hikari's bed as he stated, "They really did a number on you during the torture. To be honest I wasn't sure you were going to survive".

Hikari visibly shuttered when Kurama said the word torture, despite the protests of her aching body. "I will have to compare pain with Hiei sometime on which is worse, three weeks of torture or being thrown off a mountain" Hikari muttered.

"What was that?"

"Nothing, Kurama. Just don't under estimate what determination can do. I'm not very easy to kill."

"That I have seen for myself. How are your eyes doing?"

"Better" Hikari replied, blinking again, "Unless you don't really have red hair, in that case we are in trouble."

Kurama chuckled, "I do indeed have red hair." There was a small silence before Kurama asked, "Do you want to tell me about what happened? Soul healing is a lot more complicated than body healing. I won't pretend to know what it felt like to be tortured that way but. . ."

Hikari cut him off, "Kurama, you are sweet and thank you for your concern, but I am not that sort to start balling my eyes out and gushing about life's hardships. I'm good at taking care of myself."

"Hiei said you would say that."

"What?"

"Hiei said you would find a way to tell me you didn't want to talk, though to be honest you were much nicer about it than he thought you would be."

"I have learned a lot of things since. . . we parted. I am better at controlling my temper. The scene with Koenma a few days ago is rare compared to how things were before. I have learned power over my emotions. I had to."

"I see" Kurama said sadly. More than anyone else Kurama knew how Hiei had hurt Hikari, and how doing so was the biggest regret of Hiei's life. The whole situation was heart breaking because they may have lost their only chance to find someone who could love and care for them as mates must. Though Kurama loved Hiei as his best friend, and wanted his happiness, Kurama could not ignore what Hiei had done. He could never ask this woman to forgive Hiei.

"Kurama" Hikari mumbled, snapping his mind back to the present. "I would really like it if I could go back to my room. I ummm. . . hospitals make me very. . . uncomfortable and nervous. Since I'm not going to keel over and die at the moment, I would like to get out of here. Except. . ." she trailed off, asking for help was not her specialty.

"Well since I am not going to allow you to walk out of here, please do me the honor of carrying you to your lodgings" Kurama said with a mocking bow and the air of a butler.

In spite of herself, Hikari giggled and said, "Please good sir that would be ever so nice of you."

Without another word Kurama gentled picked up Hikari bridal style, and started for her room. All that talking must have worn her out," Kurama thought as he looked at the sleeping form of Hikari.

Once Kurama got to the floor with all their bedrooms he asked a passing Ogre, "Excute me, do you know where the room of Hikari-san is?"

"Oh yes, just keep following this hallway here on the left. Her's in the grey door."

Kurama nodded his thanks. When he opened her door he gasped slightly at what he saw. It revealed a room that was very intimately Hikari's. Soft black carpets, storm grey walls, and a mixture of black, white, and purples in the furniture and bedding. Heavy black drapes covered a magnificent window seat. In one corner was a bean bag chair, an easel, drawing pad, and stand littered with drawing materials. Evidence of Hikari's artistic skill hung in frames all over the walls. As Kurama went to take a closer look at the drawings he was caught off guard by a low and soft growl coming for somewhere in the room. He looked around for a moment, not seeing the source, until he heard it again and realized the noise was coming from under the bed.

"It's okay, Kurama, you just smell like stranger to him. He is a really protective puppy, but he won't hurt you. Just put me on the bed and I will take care of him" Hikari croaked, her voice full of sleep.

Kurama did as asked. After he settled her into a grey comforter, patterned with velvate black leaves Hikari whispered, "Shadow, here boy. Come on up." The animal under the bed growled a bit more before Hikari croaked, "Friend, Shadow, friend. Now get up here." This time the puppy was obedient. Kurama watched as a white ball of fluff with deep brown eyes and wolf like ears hopped onto Hikari's lap. Hikari smiled as she petted him ears, sinking deeper into her many pillows. "He's an American Eskimo and my dearest friend" Hikari said to Kurama before her eyes closed again.

Kurama smiled at girl and dog cuddled on the bed before closing the door behind him. Kurama headed towards Koenma's office to make his report.

"Well?" Koenma asked as Kurama entered, not taking his eyes off the reports he was reading on his over piled desk.

"She woke up and asked to be taken to her room, so I did. She felt asleep on the walk there, and is now resting with her protective and snuggly puppy. I was planning on asking Yukina to go watch over her and help Hikari bathe and change clothes when she wakes next." Kurama reported.

"Good, good. I approve." Koenma said distractedly. As Kurama turned to leave Koenma asked skidistly, "Was she very angry with me?"

"I have no doubt that she is, but she did not express those particular feelings. I do suggest getting your apology over with soon though, before her anger has any more time to stew. I can tell she has changed a lot, but in her place I would be furious too. You know what Hiei did."

"I know" Koenma sighed. "Go ahead with your plans to ask Yukina's help. If you would, tell Yukina I will have the cooks make some soup for Hikari, and when Hikari seems to have enough strength, whether it be today or tomorrow, send Hikari to me".

"Of course" Kurama replied, and went to search for Yukina.

Hikari blinked and then tensed as she felt another presence in her room other than Shadow.

"Sorry Hikari, I didn't mean to startle you" Yukina smiled as she walked over and sat on the edge of Hikari's bed. "Kurama thought you might enjoy a bit of help cleaning up and getting some new clothes on, maybe even eating a bit of soup if you are up to it. He thought you would appreciate my help verses someone else's."

"Oh" Hikari said, surprised for a moment. "Of course, actually that would be amazing. Thank you, Yukina." Hikari pulled the covers off her and settled them around the still sleeping Shadow before sliding out of bed and falling onto Yukina's supportive sholder. Hikari's recently broken ankle objected to standing, but between the two girls they managed to get Hikari undressed and into a warm bath already drawn and scented with eucalyptus oils for relaxing and healing. What Yukina didn't tell Hikari was that Hiei was responsible for keeping her bath just at the right temperature with his fire capabilities. Has Hikari got situated in the bath, Yukina walked over and shut the window Hiei must have used has his exit. "Do you want me to let you soak for awhile?" Yukina asked Hikari. Hikari grunted slightly as she nodded and said, "the water stings a bit, but I think it would be good to soak some of my muscles and to wash some of the opens wounds again. Infection is a bitch."

Yukina smiled, Hikari always had such a unique way with words. "Sounds good. I will go check on your soup and then come back to help you wash up."

"Thank you, Yukina. I am ashamed to say it, but I couldn't have done this on my own. I. . . I haven't been this beat up in a long time, so thank you. And thank you for not hating me after Hiei and I. . ."

"I have always treasured the friendship we developed over those years, Hikari. I don't want to give that up just because Hiei was a scared fool. I am angry at him for not understanding what a treasure you are, that's all. I love and care about you both; that will not change" Yukina finished and left Hikari to herself.

Hikari felt touched by Yukina's devotion. Hikari had just assumed she would side with Hiei no matter what, so Hikari had abandoned her friendship with Yukina when Hiei. . . Maybe there was hope of reforging her bonds with Yukina. It would be nice to have a friend again, besides Shadow of course. Hikari sunk down into the bath, letting the water come up to her neck as she lay her head back, closing her eyes into the relaxing heat. Slowly, starting with her toes, she mentally loosened each muscle in her body, calling for it to relax into the water and drunk up strength, and healing.

When Hikari reached the muscles near her broken vertebrate, an image flashed before her eyes and her whole body tensed as a wave of pain shook through it. The image flashed again this time longer, enough time for Hikari to realize it was the moment her torturers had grinded into her back, shattering the bone. Hikari moaned in pain as if the injury was reoccurring. Hikari moaned louder, her mouth filling with the bath water. Frantically she gasped for air, only to get more water in her mouth and down to her tired lungs. Spots where forming in front of Hikari's eyes as her brain screamed for air she couldn't seem to hold onto. Faintly Hikari heard Shadow barking and pawing at the door to the bathroom. Go get help Hikari thought, go get help, Shadow. Hikari's eyelids closed as hands and arms grabbed her out of the tub, and pounded on her chest and back. She coughed violently again and again as her body fought lustfully for air.

"Hikari!" Kurama yelled at her, "What happened?" Kurama was interrupted by an "Ow!" and then a thud as something wacked his own head. Kurama looked down at the object and then looked up at Keiko to realize it was one of her shoes that had hit him.

"This is a girl's bathroom, you pervs!" Keiko yelled, "Get out!"

"Keiko, hunni, she was drowning, her dog was freaking out, we only came in here to see. . ."

"No excuses Yusuke, get out!"

Hikari was keenly aware that she was naked, and now shaking from the cold and violence of her coughing. Kurama and Yusuke hurried out and Keiko came in, closely followed by Yukina and an armful of towels. "Let's get you washed up and warm." Together Keiko and Yukina got Hikari back into the bath just long enough to soap her down, wash her hair, and rinse it out. In a blink Hikari was back out, wrapped in the heated towels Yukina had brought. Whose heated these? Hikari thought vaguely, as the towels snuggled around her. She heard Yukina's and Keiko's whispers by her dresser, but Hikari didn't have the will or energy to say anything. Like a rag doll she was dressed in baggy sports shorts, bra, and a t-shirt, followed by a heavy sweatshirt. The next moment Hikari found herself back in her bed, covers over her and Shadow snuggling into her. "Good boy" Hikari said, petting him weakly. In moments she was asleep.

When next Hikari woke it was to voices in her dark room.

"What the hell happened, I thought you were watching her, Yukina!"

"I was Hiei, but I also wanted to give her privacy, and get her soup. I was afraid she wouldn't stay awake long enough to eat it if there was too much delay, and knowing her it has been ages since she ate properly. I doubt she takes care of herself now any better than before."

"Then what happened?! How was she drowning."

"She must have fallen asleep in the bath and then sunk too far under. It was an accident, she is fine and everything is okay. Stop fretting, you are being a baby about this whole thing."

Hikari heard footsteps as the figures left the room. She sighed and thanked the gods for Yukina, with her excuse everyone would think Hikari just fell asleep and Hikari would not have to explain to anyone what the hell happened to her in those moments before water filled her lungs. Those images, Hikari shuttered, and resolved to push them from her mind, resolving to make them a secret for now. Soon, sleep took Hikari again.