"Paradise 6" Chapter 15
2/8/03; END NOTES AND CONCLUSION SUMMARY ADDED
By: Hikari Nanase
NEW NOTES: I've been away from fanfiction for over a year due to changes in my life, as well as the personal need to no longer participate. I've realized over time that it was a mistake to leave this fanfic incomplete without due notice. For that you have my apologies. However, I have left some notes in the past suggesting that my writing may become more infrequent. At the time, it did not dawn upon me that I would choose to leave completely.
If you would like to skip the explanations of my absence to read my full story of Paradise 6, feel free to scroll down to the end of this chapter.
I left fanfiction for two primary reasons: The first was because I was losing interest in the hobby, as well as the story (this story) I was then currently working on. The second was because I had been accepted to the college of my dreams and the major of my deepest hopes. I was accepted to the University of Southern California, which has the most prestigious film school in the U.S. I was also accepted to the Writing for Screen and Television major, which required a very thorough portfolio. The acceptance rate for this major is 8%. Only 24 students per year are allowed to study this major. I am very proud, as well as very frightened, of this achievement. I do not know if I will succeed. I do not know if I am meant to do this.
In light of this fear, I felt I had to leave fanfiction and focus on original stories. To my dismay, I found writing originals very difficult and often fell into a depression over the quality of my work in comparison to the work of my peers. I still get very self-conscious over what I'm doing, and I sometimes second guess myself. I therefore will continue to avoid fanfiction until I develop enough confidence in my own work. I cannot accomplish my dreams without confidence and self-respect.
Bettina Elvina aka Hikari Nanase
They both froze- their feet glued onto the wooden floor by utter discomfort. Only their breathing was evidence that time was still dropping its grains of sand, as each breath that went through their noses became more ragged and intense. Kurama stared into Hiei's face, completely wide-eyed. Hiei looked back ruefully, not quite sure whether he had made the situation worse or better. His friend blinked a few times, appeared to have become aware of his surroundings, and shook his head. Gradually, his grip eased and slid off Hiei's slender arms. He had been holding onto him so forcefully that he left red marks in the shape of his palms all over Hiei's pale colored skin. Drawing away by taking a step back, Hiei wrung his wrists and looked upon them curiously. At last blood was beginning to return to his hands, distinct pink flushing within his flesh.
He then gazed at Kurama, faltering as to what to say next. His mouth opened, however, nothing tumbled out except perhaps a small breath. Slowly, he closed his mouth, tried to speak again, but became conscious of the fact he hadn't been too careful in response to Kurama's accusations. The shades of disbelief that hung over Kurama's face was difficult to interpret. Suddenly, sensing the possibilities behind the disbelief, Hiei grew both anxious and frightened.
He bit his lip. Immediately he felt as though that his professions of affection were to be disgracefully scathed. Flirtation was one thing, yes, but heated promises were another. But what other reply had he to give, what with his friend being equally heated- equally zealous?
Cautiously, he took the redhead's right hand into both of his and began to rub it with his thumbs. Kurama made no retaliation to this, but he also made no encouragement. This was very strange, especially in contrast to his earlier possessiveness yesterday afternoon.
The corner of Hiei's petite lips twitched uneasily, and beyond his own reason, he instinctively lifted Kurama's hand and laid it across his chest. "…You have it. It's yours."
Kurama felt a rush hit his head, distorting his vision and arousing a pounding throb. Hiei noted that the hand he was holding unexpectedly became cold, clammy, and trembling. Looking into his face, it was as though Kurama had become- somehow- intoxicated. His green eyes narrowed into black slits and perspiration swathed his skin.
"If it's mine, where is it?" He asked quietly. "Where is it, Hiei? I thought I had it… It was so lovely."
More than ever Hiei was confused. Kurama couldn't see straight at all, and it was unbelievably shocking to see him so distracted with seemingly rootless delirium. He did the only thing he was capable of: he held him close and didn't release him. Even then, it was as if he were embracing thick air. The fox demon's form swayed willowy and didn't respond to Kurosaisei's touch. Instead he gazed onward, lips moving slowly and speaking words that were unsound.
"Do you remember?" He asked once more. "You gave it to me only a month or so ago… It shone like glass in the light…" He clenched his eyelids tightly together, preventing dry tears from spilling. "You said you stole it. You said you had no use for it… Why did you tell me those things when it meant so much to you?" Kurama's chest heaved as he caught his breath, a slight hiccup resonating in his body. "You gave it to me! I remember you did!" He hissed desperately. "Where is it? Why did I lose it? I remember holding it- the shiny glass…"
Hiei allowed himself to be enveloped by Kurama's limp arms, throwing away all cares about whatever his friend was raving about. Gently, he kissed his friend's pulsing throat and later the center of his chest where the shoulder blades met. "It's here…"
The fox demon's eyes beated rapidly, pupils focused on a certain point where there was a small ball of light. His jaw quivered as the light seemed to be getting bigger, and all else around him was swirling into a black portal. The light raced into his eyes, stiffening his body and erasing everything in a flash. Then… there was darkness.
"Hiei, are you sure it's all right to do this?"
"Yes. Stop worrying."
"But what if we get seen?"
"Then whoever sees us will pretend he saw nothing."
With bare feet, they walked cautiously through the empty deck. Their shadows loomed over and across the metal walls and floors, clinging onto the ship the very same way the bottoms of their feet clung onto the icy floors. All the barracks had cleared once the hour had reached midnight, the ship having been set on auto. Complete silence bathed throughout- the comforting, steady hum of the vessel's engines and turbines the only exceptions. As they walked, they lurked like thieves- each step and movement gracefully calculated. This was their dance, naturally, as they were pairing so hypnotic that their elusiveness proved to be pure seduction. What soothing sensations their secrecy brought- memories of jewelry hoards, abandoned temples, and castles but mere visions in their hearts. Of course, what gems or crystals could possibly compare to emerald and ruby irises that could never be stolen by anyone but themselves?
Their eyes shimmered as they drew closer to the deep pool of water in the middle of the deck. Lack of light dyed the water an eerie hue of black ink, beckoning the foolish to take a step in and be lost forever in the depths of nothingness. Nevertheless, the two of them dared, and did so casually. Hiei withdrew his long sleeve, running the tips of his delicate fingers across the waters surface. These fingers drew a swirling line, fashioned so by subtle waves and smoldering steam. One could say a swan had trailed its feet along the pools edge, but a swan's grace could never match the cold hot passion the youkai's touch possessed.
Kurama watched in content, recognizing how subtle Hiei's messages were especially when unspoken. A gesture as this, only he could comprehend- that running touch across the waters feverish spine. Oh yes, that is not to be forgotten. Many a morning he had awoken with his lover at his lay, and those familiar hands tainted with blood and scars would glide across his smooth bare back. Kurama would shiver like the water as if blessed by a martyr of murder, anguish, and love.
The water was heated. The entire deck felt pleasantly warm.
"This is the intake pool?"
At first, without a word, the fire demon reclaimed his fingers and strode to a control panel by the wall. He was about to lift a switch, but chose to reply first. "Yes," he said coolly, staring deep into Kurama's silhouette. "It's what makes the Chimera submerge in the ocean."
"Like a Ningenkai submarine." The redhead noted. Funny as it was, even in darkness he could clearly sense Hiei's sour grimace. He made himself welcome to laugh. "…You're still a little prejudiced against humans, I see."
In spite of himself, the demon smiled but mutely. "Only the stupid ones."
The switch was lifted and suddenly the aquatic lights flickered on one by one. The lights were situated against the interior walls of the intake pool and close to the two-door shaft. Luminosity brought a curious rainbow into the ship, one that was mild and chilling- as with sapphires and tanzanite. Blue, green, and violet of multiple shades spun dizzyingly around- the black ink now transformed into a healthy paradise. In absolute awe, Kurama's mouth slid open. His senses were drowning in a single beauty that was clashed by the suffocating constriction of chain and machinery. The fox demon sighed. "Marvelous."
"It's… not exactly like the lake in your dream." His lover admitted. "I suppose it will have to suffice for now."
Slowly, Kurama walked to the edge, sat down, and let his feet in. It was delightfully warm, so delightful he couldn't stop from closing his eyes. From behind, Hiei came to sit with his legs crossed. For a moment or two, he examined the fox demon's serenity before he decided to make his intentions clear.
An impious grin crossed his features, and he quickly hid it within the white folds of Kurama's thin shirt. The other smiled and seemed to know better. Soon his friend's arms came about him in a tentative embrace, one that would slyly transform into a snake-like hold he was happy to not escape from. He breathed deeply, recognizing the expert fingers undoing the buttons before his chest. The shirt came down, and leisurely. It wrapped just below his shoulders like a shawl, his bare blades swept by slow, warm lips. Those lips went away, however, to deliver a keen message to Kurama's flattered ear: "It is a sin to lie with a lover," Hiei whispered. "But I hold it a greater sin to do without."
"You puzzle." Kurama chuckled. "Play with words as you do, and granted you will be severely wounded by your own tongue."
"A cunning fox avoids danger if he can," Hiei countered. "However an intelligent fox can make a capture of his danger instead."
"I speak with no redundancy."
His brain was teased by Hiei's ambiguity, an asset in the fire demon's communication that could not be matched or used to such ingenuity by any other. It was essentially a lover's challenge, and with two individuals so engrossed with one mastering the other, this was a challenge not to be untaken. Kurama relished in his own victories, yet half of his mind couldn't help but think that Hiei planned those victories for him, amused as the fire demon was in Kurama's self-indulgence. The same could not be said on his part, surprisingly. For he ravished every second Hiei's face would reach full concentration, come up just a few millimeters short, and ultimately miss. At times he felt guilty, for making his friend wander about in search for an answer he could never obtain…
Or could he? Hiei was an excellent actor and strategist, having tricked his enemies into their pitiful demises innumerable times. He was a liar and also a sore, but reverential loser. Nothing could mistake that. And as Kurama came to realize this, he came to realize a solution: "It is a sin for there to be lies- infidelities." The redhead answered thoughtfully. "Yet it is a greater sin not to lie, that is, with you?"
He turned around slightly to face him. There was no readable expression on Hiei's face, and he was more than accustomed to this. Nevertheless, Hiei broke into a sad smile and brushed his lush crimson hair with his fingers. There was nothing that exited Hiei's lips on his part. Evidently, that was part of his design. His designs were always intricate and salient.
"Your tongue is a double-edged sword." Kurama hissed lowly.
It was always uncomfortable when Kurama tried to analyze him like this. The fox demon's gaze would be engorged with a deadly sort of love that caused Hiei to become wholly transparent. He did not resist his friend's attack in any way, manner, or form, but rather allowed himself to be broken down into the simplest of creatures and coveted. The fire demon gave a wry grin at this irony: a forbidden child coveted like a precious stone. Frightening as it was to be removed from his shell, he liked the idea of being a rare pearl. Pity it is to acknowledge that a pearl is a mistake of nature- the result of a plain grain of sand finding home in an ocean curse.
"I rarely use my voice." Hiei finally said, pinching his eyes shut as images of his mother flooded his mind. "My tongue knows too much, and it therefore needs to be carefully sheathed. Speak, and I draw blood with no color... be it my own or others."
"I take it you'd like to lie with me with no barriers of falsehood between us?" As he made this remark, Kurama slipped off his shirt entirely, exposing his chilled creamy skin. The article of clothing drooped onto the floor and became sodden with moisture. Hiei picked it up, folded it, and put it aside. He had his irises piercing the ground with his occupied stare, signaling to Kurama that his suggestion was so precise it struck an arrow into an aching part of Hiei's being.
"…There have been many who have lain with me and have- regardless- unsullied my virginity. You know that." Moving away, he sat beside his friend and dangled his feet over the edge. The water encircled his feet, sending many ripples across the pool. Kurama looked on as the ripples played with the light, altering the colors of blue rainbow. "Their reasons were spoiled by greed," he continued calmly. "And for it they received nothing."
"…What are you saying?"
"A story, inevitably." Said Hiei with a shallow sigh. "An old fairytale, if you will."
In response, Kurama raised his eyebrows and nearly frowned. "Fairytale?"
"Sort of." He stood and lent down his hand. "Come. I've taken you here to swim."
They removed their shirts and dove. Kurama surfaced after crossing from one end to the other, his bright red hair lengthening due to the water. He reached back to wring his hair, Hiei helping him by tearing a bit of ward from his arm to neatly tie those lovely tresses. The fox demon was about to turn around and kiss him, when Hiei lunged backwards, somersaulting beneath the water and swimming in the opposite direction. Taking in a large breath, he chased after him, Hiei being so bold as to dive further and further down into the pool. Before long, they were gliding over the bottom, and their bodies- viewed from above- drifted like strange ghosts. A few bubbles exited Kurama's mouth, as he was becoming strained with having to hold his breath for such a long period. Hiei, on the other hand, twisted in the water and looked at him as if he had no use for air. The fire demon smiled a bit, and the moment Kurama began heading toward him again, darted away like a fish.
Like a fish. The redhead admired his movements. He didn't use his arms, and he didn't flail around in an ordinary freestyle. Instead, he beated his legs together- smoothly up and down- and used the angling of his shoulder blades to make sharp and unexpected turns. His thin black ponytail would whip around after him, taunting Kurama whenever he reached out and tried to grab it within his fist.
Kurama winced. His head was starting to spin, and he felt nauseated. Stopping in his chase, he soared up- one arm outstretched- for a breath of air. He rose from the deep and his mouth opened wide. He gasped as oxygen filled his lungs, and sputtered at if it were poison. Pinching his nose bridge, he wiped his soaked eyelashes with another fist and swung around in search of his friend. Several meters away, he saw him. Moth to a flame, Hiei was captivated by the aquatic lights. He had swum further away from him, and mused over the rays of light that played with the water.
Observing him, Kurama noticed a spellbound look in Hiei's expression. The light, even when under water, brought a certain liveliness- a certain warmness- to Hiei's face. Sensing Kurama's astute vision, he looked up.
Astonishing eyes. Deep blue eyes, darker than possible, shot in the redhead's direction. Kurama shook his head, thinking he was hallucinating, and gazed down again to verify the absurd. Unfortunately, it was too late. Hiei was no longer by the embedded lamp, and was additionally no longer able to be seen.
He spun around, shot his eyes in every direction, but found nothing. After a while, he even started getting slightly nervous, and his constant jerking around and splashing of water were proof of this. To his dismay, of course, Hiei suddenly appeared before him, grasped him by the shoulders, and pushed him against one of the walls.
Wide-eyed like a deer, his stare penetrated into eyes he knew- the ones he remembered. Shadowy red, hot, and sad. Not blue.
"When you look for me like that…" Hiei spoke softly. "What are your intentions?"
"My intentions are to catch you." His friend said unhesitatingly. "To snatch you, and hold you fast."
"And what would you do with me then?"
"I would kiss you, keep you with me, and not let you be taken away." He swerved his arms around Hiei's thin neck and drew him close before adding: "…I'll put you in my breast pocket."
An odd smile stole itself across Hiei's manner, but it was a smile that communicated something other than what Kurama had been hoping.
"…Am I your possession, Kurama?" He inquired, almost in a tone of despair. The tone differentiated so drastically from the one he often used that his lover was taken far aback. The redhead furrowed his eyebrows and lifted Hiei's chin to force him to look his way. Distantly, Hiei removed his touch. He tried to smile, but it came out crooked. It was very difficult for Hiei to give false expressions. "Tell me…"
The fire demon opened his mouth, was about to say something, but on the last second changed his mind. "Why does Yusuke wear that ring on his left hand? What is it for?"
In Kurama's perspective, Hiei had fled again. This time, however, it was fitting for him to humor his friend by not chasing after him. Desiring to indulge in Hiei's small talk, which was extraordinarily rare, he countered the question with one of his own. "Why do you want to know?"
"No reason…" The sly grin played across Kurama's sensuous lips pulled Hiei out of his preoccupation. He gave Kurama's tease a playful sneer and trickled out a few drops of ill humor: "Except, perhaps, I'll steal it."
This remark was snorted at. No way in hell would Kurama ever believe that Hiei would steal such a precious thing, most especially if it belonged to Yusuke of all people. Once again Hiei spoke with a double-edged tongue, and Kurama decided it was better to be frank than to rattle his mind with Hiei's motives.
"Yusuke's engaged to Keiko, right? That means he will marry her- that he's bound to her." He laid a simple kiss on Hiei's warm Jagan. "By wearing the ring on his left hand, he's wearing Keiko's love around his heart because the left arm is closest to it."
"Hn." Just barely, Hiei pulled away unimpressed. "Is this a prime example of human traditions?"
"Only one of them." Kurama said affectionately. "Traditions don't go on without meanings- not even the small ones. I'd like to think it's the same in Makai. Makai has relatively few of them, but that just adds to their value."
"You mean the tradition of giving?"
Hiei looked at the bracelet around his right wrist. The gold had never tarnished. "I can't think of what to give you in return for this. And I'm afraid whatever actions I have to offer feel inadequate."
"Fear of inadequacy seems to be your number one weakness, Hiei."
He didn't reply to this statement. Normally, when there was no reply, it meant that he agreed wholeheartedly with whatever was being said. Hiei idly played with Kurama's long side-locks, appreciatively running his fingers through the wet strands like a comb. He stopped, suddenly, and lowered his head. In concentration, he traced the curves of his lover's chest- wiping away a few drops of water that were speckled here and there. Kurama's frame was changing. As slender as the redhead was, Hiei was deeply aware that it was aging as well. Beauty remained and would always be there, this he knew, but the skeleton beneath the perfect skin and muscles was now sturdy and thick. Hiei's face contorted as he mentally placed his own frame next to Kurama's. Over the years he had been constantly losing weight, and growing more and more… brittle. Regardless he was deemed one of the most powerful demons in Makai. Frequently, many believed that Hiei had a physiological construction analogous to a crane or heron: thin, yes, but fast, lithe, and quick to strike.
Placing his hands around Kurama's waist, he lifted the fox demon out of the water and seated him carefully on the deck. Water surged forth as he did this, the sound of its rush bouncing off the walls and creating the echo of a waterfall. Hiei gazed up, gradually releasing a well held-in exhale as he scrutinized the redhead's shivering. He moved forward, in between Kurama's legs, and let his mouth fall over the other's left nipple.
His friend moaned elatedly, entangling his hands inside Hiei's jagged hair. He lowered his eyelids as he felt his lips leave the area and trace over his collarbone. It was so good to feel his lover's controlled breath over his skin.
"Have I been away so long that you've become more sensitive?"
"…Hiei… A year in a human life… is equal to perhaps- perhaps a month… in a demon's."
"Then what is it you seek from me? What makes you so excited as now?"
"… I miss you… That is- is enough of an answer." Kurama slowly leaned back his head as one of Hiei's adroit hands caressed the unzipped juncture his sodden pants. "And… and you… Hiei? Are you excited?"
"That's not the right word." Hiei whispered, kissing Kurama fully on the lips and coyly drifting his other hand over his lover's abdomen. "No." He whispered again. "Not excited."
"Then … what do you feel?"
"I feel stressed." He repeated. "As if…As if I cannot take honest pleasure in you."
The redhead grimaced- partially out of disappointment. For a long time already, their lovemaking had been calm, gentle, and quite regular. However, what Hiei said seemed to be true. Every time Hiei would lay him across the bed and nuzzle against his neck, he had this strange impression that his lover's attentions were somehow divided. "What can I do… to change that then?"
"It's not something you can change. I-"
"Hiei, if you're not satisfied…"
"No. I'm satisfied, Kurama." He took Kurama's hand into his and later leaned his cold cheek against his palm. A small smile was revealed as he closed his eyes and relished the smooth texture of his lover's skin. "I like your touch." He continued. "It's different from mine."
"You shouldn't be afraid to talk about it." Unexpectedly, the fox demon put on a devilish grin. His eyes sparkled as some wicked intentions crossed his mind. "Tell me…" He said coaxingly. "What do you want?"
"Nothing." Hiei replied, amused with the redhead's sensual humor. "Your presence is enough. I'm at ease if you're simply standing by. That alone is always more than I desire."
Ironically, his lover's reply did little console Kurama. It felt disturbingly out of place when going at sex while one's mind was elsewhere. If accompaniment was everything his friend had ever wanted from him, Kurama was sure that there was an erroneous aspect in the way their friendship was conducted. He swallowed thickly and prepared his next inquiry: "You're not… attracted to me in that sense?"
"I am…" The other assured, yet he bowed his head. "…But not when we're in bed… Not anymore."
"Oh…" Kurama's stomach twisted inside of him like a tightly wrenched towel. He could even feel the dirty dew drip from the pit of his gut. All the same, he petted his lover's spiky hairs as Hiei laid his head across Kurama's lap. The fire demon's arms were wrapping around his waist like loose vines. It was light possession, and the awareness of this made the fox demon relatively soothed. "How long have you felt like this?" He asked softly.
"Only recently." Hiei whispered back. "I'm not comfortable in closed-in spaces. I've told you. It's not something you can change." His embrace tightened significantly. "Bed isn't that important, Kurama- at least not to me."
"I know. But it's not right for me to be, excuse the term, spoiled when you're like this." Tilting his head to the side, Kurama affectionately leaned over and kissed Hiei's ear. "Should we step back for a while?"
The fire demon snorted. "I'm not sure if that's a subliminal insult."
"It's not an insult!" His friend laughed. "It's an indulgence! Tell me what you want to do. I'll do it." He felt Hiei stir from beneath him, causing him to rise. The fire demon had a perplexed expression on his face, never having deigned the idea that Kurama was one to take orders instead of performing spontaneously. The redhead evidently was able to read into this expression, endeared with Hiei's ineptitude in the language of amour. He chuckled. "You're not used to asking?"
Hiei's countenance flushed as though he had shot-down a bottle of red wine. "Well, what am I supposed to ask!"
"Be blunt." Kurama answered, laughing harder. "You always tell me to be blunt, and now it's your turn. What do you want?"
"I don't know." Murmured the other. "I've never thought deeply about sex- let alone happiness."
"Really?" Kurama joked. "I find that hard to believe."
Slipping completely out of Kurama's legs, Hiei swam to the edge next to him. He hauled himself up with both palms on the floor, flipping himself around to sit with dangling feet in water. Out of habit, Kurama swept his right arm around Hiei's body- pulling him very close. Hiei sighed, and leaned against Kurama's shoulder, which was swathed with dripping hair.
"What I mean is: I never thought about what I liked about it." Quietly, he slipped his arm across Kurama's knees. The fox demon's left hand was settled there and it was difficult to resist holding onto it… especially now, when Hiei felt rather unwell. The first few days in the Chimera hardly phased him, but as the days proceeded, the youkai felt spells of dizziness and sometimes hallucination. This made intimacy extremely unnerving, mostly since he had to keep himself from vomiting while kissing.
All these issues crawled lazily across Hiei's thoughts while Kurama serenely cradled him in his arms. The youkai didn't even notice when and how Kurama had managed to pull him from his side and over his lap, and he frankly didn't care. Instead he found himself leaning against his lover's chest, his small face buried in alabaster skin.
"Just tell me as soon as you figure out whatever it is you feel is missing." His friend said optimistically, squeezing Hiei's still enlaced fingers. "Until then, take as long as you need to put things in perspective. You've been just as patient with me, and I will gladly return that gesture."
He removed his fingers from Kurama's and touched Kurama's face. The feel of the redhead's soft eyelashes batting against his fingertips made Hiei tremble. Being so close to him, yes, he remembered such closeness. When he could feel Kurama's heart pound against his, when their breaths were rushing, and they couldn't see straight, no, they could only feel. With others, it was something else. He saw everything. He saw what they did.
He felt sick again. He wanted to throw-up.
"Hiei?" The other grew concerned as Hiei's skin unexpectedly went clammy. It had originally been slick with water, but now his skin became tender and sticky. "Hiei?"
There was a small movement of him turning over in his arms like a child. He held tightly onto Kurama's torso and did his best to hide his face away from him. An acidic taste- mixed with blood- went into his mouth. Promptly he swallowed, and later shuddered as his puke went back into his stomach.
"You've always went out of your way to make room for my requests." Hiei whispered hoarsely, perspiring from the forehead. "That is why I lay with you. It makes you happy."
"Only because you are the one who is touching me. I wouldn't be contented otherwise." Kurama rubbed his thumbs over Hiei's damp eyebrows. It was so evocative the way they curved under his careful fondling- as if caught in between the longing for more or the longing for reserved pride. Which ever it was always skirted Kurama before he could figure it out. Then again, if he couldn't figure it out, it must be too deep for him to ever realize.
"You have a strange understanding of love." The fire demon spoke.
"I can easily say the same for you, Hiei." The fox demon delicately countered.
"My understanding is only what most demons know." The youkai said coldly, and possibly, angrily. "It's a putrid thing that's either very sweet or very sour."
Kurama reached forward and pulled his lover closer to him. In response, Hiei's entire frame curled-in. How he hungry he was for such protectiveness, so hungry he felt himself a hypocrite. Squeezing his eyes, he tried not to think about it. In fact, he didn't want to make logical sense of it at all. It was just easier being weak and trapped within loving arms. Holding his regular barriers in place strained him excessively, even for the protection of his friend… Most definitely for the protection of his friend. He was tired of holding the walls, and more than once did he push them down in the face of bright green eyes.
"They must have done terrible things to you as a child." Said Kurama, kissing Hiei on both eyelids. "You have yet to share those moments with me."
"Why should I share with you memories that are most vile?" Hiei asked.
"Because you are a conundrum that not even I have completed." His lover reasoned. "I cannot be fulfilled until I know the darkest parts of you, for it is those parts that have designed you."
"And what of you, Kurama? Have you told me your most evil secrets?"
"I have not, but only because you do not ask." His own reply brought forth a new question, one that bothered him into the nights when they were in light sleep at each other's side: "Why don't you ask, Hiei?"
"Time is a delicate thing to play with." Was his stiff retort. "If I dare to inquire, would you be ashamed for your behavior? Or would you be proud? The past will stimulate the Youko, you know this."
To this unforeseen statement, he forced Hiei out of his comfort and sat him upright. Aggressively, he gripped onto Hiei's chin, and brought his friend's face to a millimeter away from his own. "Are you saying that the Youko is my evil secret?" Kurama hissed.
Kurama was now clearly offended. Destroying the delineation between the two aspects of his soul never failed to destroy his temper as well. Long ago did he decide his place in Ningenkai, and long ago did he make peace with his double-life. The fire demon understood Kurama's offence perfectly, and dutifully accepted his reaction. Calmly, he moved Kurama's hand away- kissed the fingers, the knuckles, and the palm- and his firmed voice. "I am saying that if you stimulate the Youko, you will be confused again." Hiei explained honestly. "And if you are confused, I know I cannot depend on you to be either friend or lover. I am a selfish creature, Kurama. If you are neither of these things, I am ultimately alone again."
"Not true. You have Mukuro."
"I do… but I am not her equal." Hiei paused to envision his Lordess, tall, proud, and regal. To her side, he saw himself- short, proud, and second in command. "In her eyes I deserve no less respect than she obtains, but in secret she knows my real position… And it is not a question of class, but of relationship. I help her survive. She helps me live. There is a grave difference."
"That makes me wonder…"
"What does that make me?"
"Hn. That makes you Kurama." There, Hiei finished and clamped his mouth shut. The other questioned no further, laid his arms over Hiei's shoulders, and nestled his head over his long throat. Hiei ran his hands over Kurama's spine, making him tremble like the water. The redhead smiled beamingly, and raised his mouth to nibble Hiei's earlobe. His friend squinted at the ticklish sensation, hugging Kurama again and settling down him with his back against the floor. Kurama giggled as he moved to nibble on the other lobe, and then to lick the tip of Hiei's nose. After that, they stopped to gaze at one another under the blue light.
"Remove the rest of my clothes. I feel cold."
Reaching down, he unbuckled the belts encircling Hiei's lean figure. He struggled a little as he tried to pull down his pants, however. They had become as heavy as lead- completely waterlogged. It was no wonder that the fire demon was shivering. Kurama's pants were thin and dried quickly, but his lover's were thick and were literally becoming a block of ice. As he carefully peeled the garment off Hiei's skin, the youkai laid himself directly on top of him- careless of being nude and possibly seen. When Kurama was through, he dragged his palms over the soles of Hiei's feet, up his taut calves, his thighs, and held him square over his rear end.
"Of all the things you choose to put your hands on: my damn ass." Hiei mumbled into Kurama's chest. When there was no returning tease, he furrowed his eyebrows. The redhead was running his eyes all over him- almost drinking up every pore that lay in his arms and wanting to drink more. Despite this, there was still anxiety- a fear for losing this small being who could move mountains… or rather make them explode.
"You look at me with pity?"
"I look at you with admiration." Corrected his friend. "I've never seen a body as lovely as yours."
"You mean my ass." Hiei grumbled.
Kurama took a daring second to squeeze his butt. "That too."
As much as he liked feeling flattered, especially by Kurama who had connoisseur taste…"I take no compliments."
"Which is why I give you facts." Fighting Hiei's arrogant modesty with simplicity was the best way to weed-out his lover's much-needed hedonism.
"You think I'm beautiful?"
Worked like a charm.
"The vulnerable who are strong are always beautiful." Kurama added, laying it on extra buttery. Hiei, on the other hand, felt as though his ears were suddenly poisoned with cyanide and microwaved iodine.
"If you praise your enemies as much as you praise me," muttered Hiei. "You could easily kill them for they would be too distracted with your overly dressed-up words."
"It's not my fault you've stimulated my Youko-side." Kurama chuckled, kissing Hiei and running his tongue along the fire demon's lower lip. "Oh, Hiei…" He went on in muffled tones. "You make me… so confused…"
"I thought- mnhn… you said we were going to step back."
"We are. I'm only kissing you. What? You want me to stop that too?"
"You're an idiot."
Hiei smiled blissfully as Kurama rolled him over from his stomach and pressed him against the ground. The fire demon ran his hands up and down, sighing at the feel of Kurama's lips brushing against his. Opening his eyes, he pulled on Kurama's side-locks for another generous kiss. His friend laughed a bit. Hiei's bangs always tickled him.
"Do you remember, Hiei, when you we made love in your garden?"
"How can I forget? It was just less than a week ago."
"The grass was so moist. You smelt like rain."
Rain. Hiei liked rain. It was always outstandingly fresh, and everything in the world smelt new and purified. He remembered clearly, stepping out of the Minnamino household after a spring shower and letting his boots sink into the rich soil. It seemed he respected the earth more after a sweet rainfall. Everything became delicate and dewy. Everything was clean and good to his senses. Kurama had followed him outside that morning- still in his pajamas. He was gorgeous in that cool morning, when the suns rays were strings of white-gold and not burning fire.
"You miss your home." Hiei said without thinking. At mention of this, Kurama stopped kissing his chest and curled his fingers along Hiei's side.
"I do." He replied slowly. "Am I obvious?"
"Only to me." He rose and framed Kurama's face in between both of his palms. "I should have requested Koenma to leave you be in Ningenkai. You must be upset, leaving your mother's home and moving into your stepfather's." Hiei frowned, and cocked his head to the side thoughtfully. "You shouldn't be here. You should be with Shiori."
Green irises welled with warm tears. They spilt from his long lashes and ran rivers over Hiei's spread fingers. "You are so gentle."
"Gentle?" Hiei scoffed. "No. If I were gentle, I would have died in my youth. There is no room for such compassion in Makai- not if you want to live." Hiei draped his legs around Kurama's sides and pulled himself closer. He then narrowed his crimson eyes and scrutinized the wetness all along his friend's cheeks. His lover hardly ever cries, especially not in front of Yusuke and Kuwabara. Touching these drops of fresh salt was a miracle in itself. The youkai knew this, and he appreciated those snapshots in time when Kurama trustingly unfurled within his deadly hands. "I love you."
The fire demon felt his chest swell, and so many things wanted to tumble out of his mouth that he couldn't say anything more. The other gaped at him in a mixture of delight and bewilderment, fully struck by a torrent of flames that entered his ears and engulfed his soul. Unfortunately, his silence made Hiei anxious. It was absurd to him that his lover would be this overwhelmed with spoken professions, when Hiei made his unspoken professions virtually every night and day.
"I say it rarely." He began timidly. "Yet it worries me when you look so shocked to hear it. Do you lose faith in me?"
"I don't doubt you. You always catch me by surprise, that's all." Kurama grinned sheepishly, Hiei's disappointment having dawned on him. "I only… never expect those words from you."
The corner of Hiei's lip twitched visibly, and he pressed those already petite lips into a thin line. He released Kurama's face and let his left arm fall to his side. The other arm, the right, went over his chest and the fist it held balled tightly. "…My chest hurts…"
"Why? Are you ill?" Asked Kurama. Before his friend could reply, he began to cough violently- so much so that Hiei's body shook as he tried to hold himself straight. The next oncoming vertigo was making him feel even worse. He hated this ship! As great an accomplishment it was, he hated it with a malevolent passion. The narrow corridors, the compact rooms, the lack of sunlight and windows- everything about the Chimera made it a chamber of Hell.
"No… Not ill- only… a small fit that comes when least wanted." He said at last, covering his mouth to suppress another cough. "It's… nothing... I was born with it."
Kurama touched Hiei lightly on the shoulder, stunned to see that his lover was breathing heavily and becoming worn out. He had never seen him like this before, and true to Hiei's word, he sensed neither fever nor flu. Kurama tried pushing down on a fold of skin beneath Hiei's eyes, but discovered no change in color. He then ran his middle and index finger over Hiei's throat, checking for pulse. It was only a bit slow, but otherwise perfectly healthy. The fox demon rubbed his back, not knowing what else he could do, until Hiei's body was no longer stiff.
"You need more laughter in your life." Suggested Kurama, allowing Hiei to rest his watering eyes against his collarbone. "Being down here is making you gag."
Hiei blinked in confusion. "What?"
Patting the nape of Hiei's neck, the redhead warmly smiled "Can we invite Yusuke and Kuwabara-kun?"
"You think that will make me feel better!" The fire demon snapped incredulously. Kurama merely cajoled him further with another feathery hug.
"They make you laugh, don't they?" His lover crooned.
"They make me cry is more accurate." Hiei retorted mercilessly. Kurama took no effort in hiding his chuckling; Hiei's disparages against his Reigun-firing captain and swashbuckling carrot top were always concealed signs of utmost fondness. The youkai rubbed his face along Kurama's collarbone, sneering at the very idea that their privacy would be lost in but a few seconds. Kurama took the liberty of extending the melodrama by waiting patiently for Hiei's consent. Bitterly did Hiei observe that he always gave the dominatrix fox demon consent, be it through sarcasm: 'sure, why the hell should I care?' or genuineness 'Kurama, if it's that important to you…' He wanted to spit at the irony, but made do with biting the redhead's skin.
"Oww!" His friend snarled. "What was that for?"
"Hn." In false reluctance, Hiei kissed the place he bit and relinquished his power- not that he had any to begin with as far as Kurama was concerned. "If we must." He sighed.
The other didn't hear him as he was too busy rubbing that sore spot. A small kiss is not enough to get rid of those red marks Hiei's fangs left behind. "Hm? What did you say?"
"Go ahead." He mumbled. "Invite them. I'll wait on the pool deck."
Going on his knees, Kurama kissed Hiei on the forehead, stood, and ran out around the corridor to the port rooms. Hiei watched him leave, nimbly reaching for his pants to put them on again. With his friend's presence gone, there was something eerie looming within the vicinities. The pool, to his own amazement, suddenly looked scary. It didn't help that the overhanging rafters of steel and chain shook and creaked as the Chimera cruised within the ocean- it made the shadows bounce.
Angrily, he shook himself to rid the paranoia.
As he held his pants, he contemplated the folds of black that lay soaked in his hands. Curious, he contrasted the dark cloth against his white skin and frowned. He disappeared behind the cloth- behind the black. It was as if he were a ghost. Perplexed, he stared at his hand again, made it moved with his thoughts- flexed the muscles. Yes, his bones were there.
He shook himself again. What was he thinking? Doubting that there were bones beneath his skin! Of course there were!
He flexed his arm again, checking. 'What's wrong with me?'
"What?!" Hiei's eyes widened as he witnessed Yusuke running by, ready to bowl him over with trampling legs. Ducking down, he braced himself with his forearms and waited for a loud splash to ensure his safety. Hearing the splash, he looked up again, only to be thoroughly doused with water. Hiei growled silently to himself, gripping tightly onto his pants and pulling it over his crotch to hide something he would much rather not share with the others.
"Their lack of discretion is, as always, unparalleled." He grumbled impatiently, doing his best to slide his legs through his clothing without drawing unnecessary attention to himself.
As Yusuke resurfaced, he blew water out of his mouth like a spout and laughed playfully. "Hey, the water's warm!"
"You better thank Hiei for that one." Kurama smiled with a charming wink. "He heated it up himself."
Carrot top, however, was a little more than wary as he swayed through the shallow end.
"You guys didn't… do anything in here did you?" He asked tentatively. Of course, as tentative as he was, his words were point blank blunt. Kurama's face instantly drained of blood, but his eyes flared into an enigmatic shade of amber that couldn't possibly spell anything optimistic. As for Hiei, well, the fire demon had finished buckling his belts and was now taking a perilous step into the pool.
"Just kidding! Just kidding! Feels grrrrrreat!" Kuwabara said hastily, punching the water with a little too much enthusiasm. In response, Hiei merely rolled his eyes at the imbecile whom he has come to know as 'friend.' It vaguely crossed the fire demon's mind, however, that for a split second in time, Kuwabara had just imagined him and his lover doing… things… in the water. He bit his lip at this realization, not quite sure whether to feel thoroughly violated or mildly flattered for the innocent implication courtesy of Kurama and the heated water. Glancing at Kurama, who apparently had the same thoughts coursing through his head, Hiei decided it was better to settle with the latter notion. After all, Kurama winked a second time. That was always a good thing.
"Late night swim, too bad we don't got the girls with us." Yusuke sighed as he backstroked in circles. "Keiko's got a nice bod for swimsuits. I missed a lot of slimming down while I was in Makai, ne?"
Kurama sweat dropped. "That was not a very flattering thing to say, Yusuke."
The boy ignored him, stopped propelling his arms, and took to floating. Kuwabara, at last, surrendered his previous squeamishness and began exhaling his lungs to slowly sink into the water. For a few minutes, he disappeared into a large dark shadow, one that clandestinely swam just beneath Yusuke's float. The redhead bit his thumb to suppress his fiendish smile, ready for the most cliché trick in 'midnight-dipping'. Hiei remained as stoic as ever, and was held completely indifferent until Kazuma seized Yusuke by the stomach and pulled him in. The expected struggle between the two boys, in the demons' eyes at least, was synonymous to the impossible battle of trying to submerge an enormous floatable beneath several gallons of water. No matter how hard each of the combatants tried, one kept on getting head-dunked while the other kept on bobbing up and down like an ocean buoy.
"Sadly, neither of them will die this way." Commented Hiei, who had paddled up to his lover at a certain corner.
Thoughtfully, Kurama rubbed the tip of his chin with his finger and markedly observed Kuwabara take a foot in the mouth whereas Yusuke suffered a nuclear wedgie. Kuwabara had managed to pull the back of his pants far over his head and completely covered his eyes. "Yes, I know."
Flailing about frantically, Yusuke pushed Kuwabara hard on the chest and put his hands together.
All the while, Kurama and Hiei made not a word or gesture for the cease of arms. Instead, they quietly glided away from the even horizon that was about to ignite. It would be very much like American fireworks in July… better yet, Tokyo New Years Eve- with the all the pops, the pretty colors, the headaches, and no less.
"Shall we exeunt, Kurama?"
"Now wait a minute, Urameshi! Let's be reasonable!"
"By all means."
Before that last syllable, and in a nick of time, Hiei helped Kurama out of the pool by lending out a hand and heaving him out before a conspicuous 'KA- BOOM' could sound off. He had additionally created a fire barrier to evaporate whatever tidal wave was aimed at them. The way his fire glimmered and bursted was mysteriously enchanting. Kurama had seen the various types of flames Hiei had wielded. There was earth fire: red, yellow, and orange; there was Makai fire: black, purple, and violet; there was spirit fire, an electric shade of blue; lastly there was soul fire, a strange hue of green edged with smoldering black. As the water was about to strike them, the flames that engulfed Hiei's arm shifted between black and streaks of bright silver. When the water struck, there was a loud hiss and an explosion of smoke that would soon clear the way to a most peculiar seen.
"The fool blasted him and the village idiot, both, into the rafters."
Making a funny face, the fox demon swiftly ran for the flight of stairs that led to the second floor, transferred onto a slim ladder that scaled up through the third and fourth floor, and skipped out onto Hiei's protruding platform where he presented his general agendas before the entire crew. Kurama leaned over the rail, fleetingly glanced at Hiei from below, and snickered seeing as Yusuke was still blind-folded by his atomic wedgie and that Kuwabara was saved by a hook and chain that had miraculously snared the back of his white tank top.
He snorted, coughed, and bawled over laughing so hard that his face became as red as his hair. Meanwhile, Hiei composedly ascended the steps- hands tucked within the pants pockets- and sneered maliciously when he reached the declaration platform.
Kurama was more humored with the situation, shaking his head and leaning it lazily against his fist. "This is quite the reminiscent of Kuwabara's fight with Byakko, ne Hiei?"
This was true. Poor carrot top was blasted and bouncing around like a ping-pong ball in one of Suzaku's lower chambers. The difference was, there was no molten lava- there was quite the opposite, actually. "I'm amazed." The youkai sighed. "The intake pool still has most of its water. I didn't know a Reigun could be so defective. You are out of practice, Urameshi Yusuke."
"Ha ha." His whole body lay draped over a heavy lead pipe. At least he did himself a favor by taking the time to free the back of his pants from his forehead. The strength of the garter left a pretty dark red line over his skin and it made his face look oddly naked.
" Grab onto Kuwabara and hold on." Kurama said helpfully. "I'll pull in the chains using the wheel and crank."
He ran past Hiei again, to the crank that controlled the movements of the hooks and pulls on the ceiling. According to Hiei, these pulleys were designed to not only transport cargo and missiles, but were also made to upper and lower walls and flooring. Supposedly the reason behind this feature was to enable to add and remove levels of the Chimera, depending upon the length of the voyage and the number of hands needed.
Gripping onto the handle bar, Kurama rotated the crank counterclockwise- slowly reeling in a hovering bundle composed of an orange-haired human esper and a half-breed demon that died twice, and grew a new heart the second round. What an interesting haul indeed!
"I think I ruptured my spleen." Kuwabara wheezed, a little thankful for Hiei's aid detaching him from the crane.
"Yeah, well you gave me a hemorrhoid that will take days to go away." Yusuke grumbled, stepping off from Kuwabara's back and strutting around as if someone had tossed a wire hanger into the crotch his trousers. "If I have problems taking a crap," he mumbled. "You'll know why."
"Luckily for you, my soldiers sleep the sleep of the dead." Scolded Hiei, who folded his arms over his bare chest and frowned. "We should return to our rooms now, before you destroy the rest of the Chimera and kill us all."
"Kill is too strong a word." Kurama argued, and as he said this, proceeded for the ladder to return to ground deck. "We've survived most of their disasters which leads me to believe that the Gods smile nicely upon us."
The others followed his example and slid down the ladder by putting their feet either side of the handrails. Hiei landed neatly beside his lover, and took a precise step back to make room for Kazuma's crashing into Yusuke's face ass first.
"Either that or they're getting a kick watching our misfortunes with Crabbe and Goyle." Quipped the fire demon.
"Really? I was thinking more along the lines of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Have you been looking into my reading again?" He looked at Hiei meaningfully as they crossed the third flooring and was about to descend the next ladder.
"How can I not? You leave all your books on my desk, and I can hardly find my papers." Hiei replied, stopping in the middle of the floor. "I'm more surprised at you for taking enjoyment in childish books."
The term 'childish' bought the other an expression that was a mixture of embarrassment and defensiveness. Be that as it may, there was a tight curl on the far right of Kurama's mouth, which told Hiei that cheek taken was but mild. "I happen to like light reads from time to time." The redhead responded in the most erudite voice he could muster. His lover gave him a laughing, maybe even mocking, squint.
"Didn't know he was a Rowling fan." Kuwabara whispered to Yusuke.
"Snape fan." The redhead corrected promptly. It was impossible to gossip around a human with ears no less sharp than the shrewdest of dog species.
"Only because he's bad tempered, pale, and perpetually dressed in black." Yusuke blanched, lining up against the third floor rail behind Hiei.
"That I won't deny," The fox demon admitted jokily. "But I happen to like this nose better."
He playfully poked Hiei on the tip of his kitten-like nose. Somewhat tickled, the youkai's nose twitched and he momentarily crossed his eyes to focus on Kurama's taunting finger. Upon hearing the chortling that buzzed about him, Hiei delivered his infamous glare. It was the one that crept almost everyone out, most especially Botan. It was the glare of vampiric red eyes glowing amidst darkness.
"Do not overstep your boundaries, Kurama." Hiei warned as he assisted him in getting on the ladder. In that split second, he noticed that the hand that held tightly onto Kurama's wrist lacked a familiar sparkle that never failed to draw his attention. "My bracelet…"
"Bracelet?" Kazuma asked, literally pushing himself over Yusuke's shoulder to see what was going on.
"You must have left it on the pool deck. It's all right, we'll find it tomorrow."
Hiei stared at Kurama as if he were half-crazy. The redhead was rather confused to witness such a disappointed face, and was even more shocked to see Hiei release his wrist and walk to the far end of third deck. "No, the water revitalizes itself through the circulatory pipes." He leaned over the balcony and surveyed the intake area. "If it fell off while we were swimming, it might get trapped in the system." He scanned the area twice- left and right, up and down- until at last he saw distinct twinkling somewhere in the bottom of the pool. "There it is. " He slowly pointed. "I see it."
"Huh? Where? I don't see anything." Yusuke and Kuwabara put their hands over their brows and started darting their heads. Kurama, on the other hand, had his eyes land in the exact same line of vision as Hiei's. He saw it too, the three-ringed bracelet. At first glance it looked like a golden ripple in the water. He was not given the time analyze how the bracelet could have so easily fallen from Hiei's wrist, however, as he heard a sharp pang against steel piping. He looked up from his position on the ladder, and blinked at the sight of Hiei calmly setting his foot on top of the handrail.
"O-o-oi!" Kuwabara sputtered. "What the heck are you doing?"
"I'm going to get it."
"What? Wait! Don't dive-" Yusuke's mouth was left hanging. There was a slight change in the air- a gust of air passing by as Hiei freefell from the barring. "…From here." He pathetically finished.
And there he went- he dove down three stories as straight as an arrow. With outstretched arms on either side, he also looked like a plummeting crucifix.
Yusuke and the others watched in impervious awe. Hiei's body shrank in size as it got lower and lower, and Hiei's shadow- conversely- appeared to grow larger and larger until the two willowy figures united in a large splash.
His body sped through the water, cutting it like a sword against blood and bone. He was so fast that he left a streak behind him as he swam. Focusing on that one target, that sparkling ripple at the bottom of the water, Hiei extending forth his arms. Deeper, deeper… bluer, bluer… Swiftly he snatched the cherished charm from the smooth pool floor, stepped on the floor with the balls of his feet, and pushed himself upwards- arms still extended.
Brighter, brighter… whiter, whiter… When he his head bursted for air he could feel the water trickle from his face like morning dew. Taking a deep breath in, he stroked for the edge, sat on the soaked floor, and slipped his bracelet on. Just as he slid the cuff over his right fist, something warm and smooth dripped from his face and landed in a single drop over the top of his hand. Astonished, he blinked. It was a drop of blood.
As though his eyes had been deceiving him, Hiei touched the crimson speckle with his index finger and rubbed that finger against his thumb until it made a blushing smear over his skin. His hand began to tremble, realizing that it was-indeed- blood, and he it continued to tremble until he reached up to touch his face. At first he had expected the blood to come from his nose, but to his dismay, his nostrils remained free of any sort of warm red. Thickly he swallowed, lifting his hand from his nose to his forehead.
"Hiei!" Kurama and the others were running down the staircase to the pool deck. The redhead carefully skipped around the spills of water here and there, and quickly came to kneel on one knee next to his lover. "Are you all right?!" He asked worriedly, noting the sudden paleness in Hiei's appearance. " What's wrong?" He asked again, only this time to be responded with the unveiling of a forehead streaming with scarlet ribbons. "Hiei… your Jagan… it's bleeding."
The fire demon took the back of his hand and swiped it across his brow. "Shit."
"It's not a lot, Hiei." Yusuke said, coming to kneel on his other side. "You probably just popped a blood vessel from that killer dive."
Kuwabara studied Hiei thoroughly with his eyes, and Hiei felt his stare tear into him like a magnifying glass. The youkai defied his inspection by looking directly at Kazuma, offering his blazing ruby eyes. However, the supernatural glow of those irises did not elicit the customary chills he had hoped for. Instead, Kuwabara continued to stare at him warily- almost suspicious.
Unable to bear his scrutiny any further, Hiei looked away and rose to his feet. This movement alone caused some more blood to rush out of his third eye and dribble onto a small puddle. "Shit."
He turned around and started leaving the group, his state dazed and perceptibly apprehensive.
"Hiei, where are you going?" Kurama called after him.
He stopped, hesitated in facing his friend, and decided not to. "The lavatory… and then the clinic."
Then he began walking away again, steps slow and careful- almost afraid to touch the flooring. Kurama gazed upon him troubled, not missing the detail that Hiei's usual erect posture had become limp and shambling. When his lover was completely out of sight, it suddenly occurred to him that his palm had been immersed in another one of the deck puddles. Sharply looking down, his eyebrows came together in a tight crease. There were pink dots dappled everywhere, and when he moved his palm, the water became pink entirely… blushing his faint reflection like a sakura blossom.
To be truthful, the story is a little sketchy to my memory. I had a lot of details and subplots going on that the main road for this story became ridiculously convoluted. A lot of events were to take place intended to create a different sort of relationship between Kurama and the reincarnated Hiei when compared to Kurama and the real Hiei.
If nothing else, I should say that the theme of Paradise 6 is the absolute meaning of death, and all the meanings that accompany it. You cannot reverse death, for even when new life is created, the old life cannot be restored. For that reason, Kurosaisei Hiei would never recover Hiei's memories. Kurosaisei literally means black rebirth, as so many of you have correctly concluded. Black, an archetype color associated with death, is the adjective for rebirth. There's a paradox here which implies what Kurosaisei Hiei really is. He's a completely different entity which means the old part of him is dead. Consequently, Kurama's lesson in this story was to comprehend what death truly is, as well as the love and loss that accompany it.
It would make more sense if I explain what happened in the past. I originally wanted to put-in a lot of flashbacks for Kurama to remember. Usually traumatizing memories cause us to block them, and as Kurama spends more and more time with Kurosaisei, he begins to remember pieces of what happened on the Chimera ship.
The glass Kurama was holding, the crystal stone that Hiei claimed he stole, is in fact Hiei's heart. The back-story I made-up for this was that Hiei was given a curse at birth by the Koorime. The curse was an elaborate one, meant to ensure Hiei's suffering, if not his death. The curse was placed on his heart. I should mention that a demon can function without one, and that a demon heart is simply a power core so to speak. The curse, however, would remain dormant until activated in a moment of 'self-completion.' In that moment, the heart will slowly begin to freeze into glass. Death will approach in about two weeks of onset.
The jagan, which is a parasite that uses its host's nervous system, became aware of the onset. In this chapter, when the jagan began to bleed, Hiei realized that his third eye was corroding. The eye would bleed erratically until the death of the host.
Now, before this happened, some time during the journey under water within the Chimera, Hiei and Kurama decided to commit to one another. One day later, Hiei fell ill. It was at this time that Hiei vomited his fully crystallized heart, and later gave it to Kurama to keep. Throughout the rest of the journey, Hiei attempts to break to Kurama slowly that he may not see Kurama for a very long time (if not permanently) after the mission is completed. Kurama, not understanding what Hiei was hiding from him, became upset with the possibility that perhaps Hiei was backing-out of their original promise. Hiei, on the other hand, couldn't find it within himself to tell Kurama that he was actually in the process of dying.
As the venture under sea continued into the second week, Hiei secretly works on a set of documents while Kurama sleeps (when Kurama was in truth watching him from bed). These documents are actually the contents of the package sent to Mukuro that Kurama was meant to pick-up. These documents, furthermore, were not only Hiei's will handing down his land to Kurama, but also his memoirs. In Paradise 6, Kurama does not open the parcel until near the very end of the story.
Unfortunately, because of Hiei's secretiveness, the relationship becomes highly strained. While Hiei makes love to Kurama as frequently as possible, Kurama remains indifferent. On the final night before the sinking of the Chimera, and also the final night before Hiei's death, Hiei requests for Kurama to make love to him. Kurama declined. It was the refusal of this request which was to haunt Kurama throughout his relationship with Kurosaisei Hiei.
The Chimera sank because a ship from the rebel forces fired a missile into one of the most important decks of the Chimera. As the ship began to fill with water, Hiei commanded all to evacuate. He, however, remained behind to die.
Kurama, in one of the escape vessels, realized that Hiei was not escaping. He went back to the Chimera to get Hiei out. He found Hiei and convinced him to retreat with him. However, Kurama's air supply ran out in the middle of the chaos. He passed out, which inevitably gave Hiei more than enough reason to give him his air while allowing himself to drown. Yusuke and Kuwabara managed to retrieve their bodies, both of them shocked at Kurama's survival and Hiei's death.
At a Makai hospital, Kurama wakes-up in a bed and overhears talking in another room. He gets up to eavesdrop, and discovers that it is Yusuke and Kuwabara talking to the doctor who performed an autopsy. The secret of Hiei's physical condition is then revealed, and it is then that Kurama unconsciously blocks-out every memory from this point backward.
In present time, as Kurama slowly remembers these memories and puts the pieces together, he realizes he does not love Kurosaisei at all- even though he has been having romantic relations with him. This leads to a mass of complications and misunderstandings. The turning point is when Kurosaisei Hiei returns the stuffed fox, 'Kitsune,' to Kurama. He asks Kurama to take care of it for him, as he can't do it himself anymore.
They ultimately have a fall-out, however when Kurama discovers that Kurosaisei is diabetic, and at one point goes into diabetic shock, it dawns on Kurama how selfish his actions have been throughout the whole ordeal. Thus, he does all he can to help Kurosaisei Hiei deal with all of his problems. He listens more intently to the stories of this Hiei's past: how his mother was drunken, selfish, and abusive. How his father had an affair. How he ran to Kurama's home every time he couldn't stand to be alone. Lastly, how he was raised under the love of Shiori and was taught the same three things Kurama had taught him in "Let's Fly as the Birds Do."
They mend their fences as best as they could, their relationship healing from completely defunct to a mutual friendship that is neither intimate nor superficial. Thus, they help one another in a number of subplots, each of them balancing the weight either carries in life. This includes Kurosaisei Hiei giving the support and encouragement Kurama needed to confront his stepfather and switch his major to premed. For Kurosaisei, Kurama helps him prepare for the scholarship exams, which Hiei succeeds in (as a small detail, Kurama secretly put the stuffed fox in Hiei's backpack during the day of the exam).Once everything balances on both ends of the story, Kurama and Hiei decide it's time for them to move-out of their apartment: number 6. The final scene of the story ends with Kurama and Hiei facing one another, both with their suitcases in hand. They embrace, look at one another, and say 'See you around.' Hiei turns on his heel, and exits down the hall to the left. Kurama watches after him before turning on his own heel, and exits to the right.
The door with number 6 on it stands shut in between both paths.
And that's the end of something old, and the rebirth of something new.
It was, is, and will be, a bittersweet Paradise.
If you have any further questions as to the other details of the story, feel free to ask. I admit I left a lot of devices out of this summary. Thank you for reading. It has been a pleasure.
Bettina Elvina aka Hikari Nanase