Blood Call
Chapter Eight - 'White Reflections

by Talya Firedancer

"The truth is...we really have no information," Koenma admitted, spreading his hands wide.

Everyone fell over.

It was business as usual, in the Reikai. Two oni opened the door, hefting immense stacks of paper that they deposited on Koenma's desk, hiding him from view. The Urameshi team got to their feet from the twitching crushed-bug positions, except for Hiei who'd been standing by the door with his arms folded all along, mouth fixed in a small, intent frown. Irritably the little Prince of the Dead hopped off his chair, after trying vainly for a few times to maintain his dignity while craning his neck to peer around the massive piles of paperwork, and walked around his desk to join the reunited Urameshi team.

Kuwabara was his normal annoying self after a night of rest, and had instantly tried to pick a fight with Hiei the moment they'd walked in the room. He'd shut up with a surprised look on his face after being warned off by an unusually sharp word from Kurama. Hiei stood off a safe distance from the group, his face closed to all comers. And Yuusuke and Kurama were unscathed by the ordeals of the previous day, apparently none the worse from their recent brushes with death. Yuusuke, if anything, appeared eager to avenge the insult done to him by being attacked by his own double. But Kurama's face was a bit pale and tense.

"No information on Ekoi," Koenma clarified, gnawing at his fuukuman.

"Well, what DO you know?" Yuusuke demanded. "'Cause you know, she's only trying to kill me. So I am a little interested."

"Koenma-sama, I found it!" Botan called out, running full-tilt into the room. She waved around a sheaf of papers.

Koenma looked relieved. "Ah, Botan. Good. ...Yuusuke, you said you were attacked by a sphere of transformation?"

Yuusuke blinked. "I didn't say it. She did," he replied, pointing at Botan. "All I know is that Ekoi threw a little ball bearing at me, and later I was attacked by a guy who looked like me - could do my powers, and everything - and said he was protected by Ekoi's magic."

"That sounds more like a sphere of mimicry," Koenma frowned.

"Nani? What's the difference?" Kuwabara demanded.

Hiei snorted and opened his mouth.

"A sphere of transformation would act on something to change or alter its shape," Kurama answered swiftly, cutting off whatever scathing remark Hiei had been about to make about Kuwabara's intelligence. "But a sphere of mimicry..."

"Would mimic the shape and powers of whoever it acted on," Botan beamed, handing the sheaf of papers to Koenma.

"What's that?" Yuusuke demanded, jabbing his chin in the direction of the papers in the young god's hand.

"Information regarding the spheres of transformation and mimicry that you'll need to know," came the reply. "If Ekoi can use these, then all of you will have to be prepared. So you'll have to study-"

"STUDY!?" Yuusuke's eyes bugged out. He backed up, holding his hands up to fend off the evils of such a thing. "No way man!"

"Well if you don't study this closely, you won't know the information you'll need to," Koenma said irritably. He shoved the folder at Yuusuke, who eyed it mutely, dread scrawled over his face.

"It sounds boring," he said dubiously.

"Think how boring it will be when it saves your life," Hiei snorted, pushing himself away from the wall.

Yuusuke grabbed the file out of Koenma's hands and leafed through it, wide eyed. "Boring-boring-boooring..."

Koenma sighed and cast up his hands.

"Is there a way to counter the sphere of mimicry?" Kurama asked, looking around. Hiei was gone, predictably.

Koenma scowled darkly at Yuusuke, who was stuffing the file into his back pocket, folding it in half and creasing everything. "It's all in the file."

"And Miiraju is still in custody, ne, Koenma-sama?" Kuwabara demanded, looking a bit edgy. The experience had obviously been unsettling for him. Miiraju could have forced him to kill his own sister, or his best friends. Or Hiei, which wouldn't have upset him too terribly much.

"Hai. He won't be bothering you any more. However, there has been notice of another demon escaping across the barrier - haven't pinpointed the identity yet, but it's certainly another henchman of Hakamura's."

"I still don't understand how he could still be alive!" Yuusuke burst out explosively, slamming a fist into his hand. "Hiei and Ariodh killed him, didn't they!?"

"Ariodh didn't say," Kurama interjected, green eyes dark with thought. "She just said that she knew that he was alive."

"Our office doesn't deal with deaths in the Makai," Koenma answered somewhat stuffily. "It's not our purview. And a background check would come too late to be of any use to you."

"So we're just going to have to plow through our opponents until we get to Hakamura?" Yuusuke asked sourly.

Koenma stopped chewing on the fuukuman and looked a bit edgy. "Ah...I think that's enough for one briefing. Botan, make sure everyone gets home, ne?"

Botan nodded cheerfully. "Hai, Koenma-sama!"

Yuusuke and Kuwabara groaned.


Hiei was standing on one of the highest vantage points of the palace when Kurama emerged onto the battlements. His dark cloak was tugged fitfully by the breeze, the spikes of his black hair waving softly. Kurama approached cautiously, unsure of what state of mind his new lover might be in. After Ariodh's death yesterday, Hiei had disappeared - presumably for the Makai, but he wasn't sure. And when Hiei had left the briefing, he'd felt his ki still nearby. He wondered if Hiei wanted him to follow, but wasn't sure.

It seemed there were a lot of things he had to be unsure about, lately.

"Hiei?" he said quietly, coming to stand by the stone railing.

Hiei's crimson eyes flicked sideways briefly, then looked back out over the Reikai, brooding.

"You didn't come home last night." Kurama was still wondering how to feel about that. He understood that Hiei might want to be alone, after what had happened - but what about him? He'd almost died! And then, thinking that, he felt very small and ashamed. Ariodh had died, to prevent the same from happening to Hiei.


"Are you upset about-"

"She was stupid," Hiei interrupted him, his voice short and curt, cutting him off.

Kurama was taken aback for an instant. Ariodh had saved him at the expense of her own life. And then he understood. Hiei didn't understand how Ariodh could have done such a thing. Or maybe, he thought...

"It wasn't your fault, you know," Kurama replied quietly.

Hiei turned from the railing, red eyes wide and wild an instant, before his face closed off abruptly. His hands clenched at his sides. "I must have made a mistake in training her. I knew her power could get out of control. I should have turned her over to Genkai. I should have-"

"She didn't trust Genkai, she trusted you," Kurama pointed out.

Hiei scowled up at him. "Obviously, wrongfully so."

Kurama sighed with frustration. "Hiei, blaming yourself is useless. You did the best you could. Ariodh did the best she could. And she succeeded in what she tried to do."

"And died." Hiei's face was stony.

Kurama was quiet for a moment, looking down on his lover's face. Hiei wouldn't meet his eyes, and in the expressionless mask that was the only thing others saw, he could detect traces of sadness and guilt, and an unsparingly harsh introspection. He reached up to brush gentle fingers over his cheek, and Hiei flinched back from his touch, rocking on his heels.

"It's not your fault," he repeated, and closed the gap between them, determined. Hiei struggled as he took him in his arms, shoving at Kurama's arms, squirming as he scooped him into an unrelenting embrace then he went limp, his only movement the soft huffs of breath against Kurama's neck.

"She was stupid," Hiei repeated into the crook of his neck.

"Is it so hard to admit you care for something?" Kurama asked suddenly.


"Ariodh. You obviously regret her death. You must have cared at least a little. And with you and me..."

Hiei started struggling again, and squirmed free of Kurama's embrace. He backed up a few paces and glared. "Hn. Stupid fox. No matter what you say, I failed. I shouldn't have been trapped so easily by Seiki. And you almost died. It was my fault the two of you were in danger. The shapeshifter took my shape, and that's the only reason you were fooled. I should stay in the Makai."

Kurama started. "Don't you even think of it!" he said fiercely. "And don't think for a moment that I wouldn't follow you, and chase after your trail until I found you! You're *mine,* Hiei, and I'm not letting you go!"

Hiei looked startled, then he turned back to the stone railing. "Hn."

But the soft snort sounded pleased.

He touched Hiei's arm, fleetingly. "Ne, Hiei...will you come home tonight? Or are you planning on staying in the Makai again?"

Hiei flicked an indifferent glance at him. "We'll see." But there was a barely detectable gleam in his eyes.


Today, it would be today.

Kuwabara stopped at a flower shop on the way over to Genkai's temple. This time, he swore resolutely, it would be different. He rubbed at his head ruefully, fingers wincing over the lump that Shizuru had left on his head from knocking him out yesterday.

No, he was worthy. He had to prove worthy of the dainty, beautiful ice maiden! He was Kuwabara Kazuma, the manly!

And besides, that nasty Miiraju was locked up. There would be no ambushes on the way to the temple, not today.

He hummed softly between his teeth as he mused over the selection of flowers in the shop. Roses were too...overdone, he decided. Everyone bought roses. Besides, Yukina's delicate beauty deserved something that would pay equal tribute.

Finally, he selected a few orchids that he knew Yukina would just love.

Kuwabara resumed his journey to the temple, fixing a manly expression on his face to reinforce his gruff exterior, aware that the flowers in his hand could perhaps be interpreted by rival delinquents as a sign of weakness. Fortunately no one challenged him on the way over, so he didn't need to kick the crap out of anyone, and risk damaging the orchids.

He couldn't wait to see the look on Yukina's face. He was approaching the steps of the temple when he stopped short, spotting a rangy figure lurking in the shadows by one of the sacred lamps. "Iie..." he groaned, hoping against hope that it would be Yuusuke, but knowing that the shadowed figure was too tall to be Yuusuke or any others of their friends.

The figure stepped forward and Kuwabara nearly dropped the flowers as he lurched back.

"My GOD you are ugly!" he blurted as the youkai stepped into the light.

"Look who's talking," the youkai sneered back, his darkly lumpish features looking misshapen, demonic. His amber eyes flared with a hungry light, slitted and inhuman.

Kuwabara rubbed a self-conscious hand over his orange hair. What was he talking about? He, Kuwabara Kazuma, was the manly epitome of rugged handsomeness!

The dark features of the youkai twisted up in a snarl, and he reached over his back, long leathery wings rustling as he drew nearly five feet of tempered steel, then the wings snapped tightly together over his back.

"I am Ryuji, and I will be your death."

"Ah, sou?" Kuwabara raised an eyebrow, then took a few steps sideways, placing the orchids carefully atop one of the sacred lanterns. He smirked as he extended his hand to the side. "REI KEN!"

The ugly demonic youkai - Ryuji - looked less than impressed as the strong reiki flared up in his hand, coalescing into a blade of light and power. He merely raised his own more conventional blade, falling into an en garde position.

"This time, Kuwabara Kazuma will not be defeated by the cowardly tricks of a sneaking youkai!" Kuwabara declared. "A man-to-man fight it will be, and you will reel back from my prowess. And how can Yukina resist a victor such as I!" He lunged, sword flashing out to test the other's defenses.

Ryuji raised an eyebrow at the speech, no doubt impressed by his eloquence, then met his strike easily, parrying the blow and deflecting the weight of his thrust to the side, then flashing back to strike at Kuwabara's torso. Clumsily he wrenched the reiken to meet the strike but the tip of Ryuji's blade still sliced into his side. Angrily he wrenched his blade upward, throwing Ryuji back a step or two. "First blood," the youkai smiled grimly, nodding in the direction of Kuwabara's torn shirt, where some blood seeped through to stain the cloth.

"How dare you!" Kuwabara raged, swinging the reiken wildly in the direction of Ryuji.

The demon merely lunged forward again, and Kuwabara had to scramble to parry the blow, their reverse strikes meeting simultaneously and sliding uselessly up steel and reiki until they met at the hilt. Demon and human growled at each other.

"Why me?" Kuwabara demanded. "Why today!? I was going to visit Yukina, you demon bastard!"

Ryuji ground his teeth together and shoved his sword harder against Kuwabara's. "Normally I would not sully my blade on an unworthy opponent the likes of you, but Hakamura gave me a summons that would not be denied. It calls for your death."

They struggled, swords locked at the hilt, pitting not skill but brute strength against each other. Finally Kuwabara's muscle won out against the leaner frame of the swordfighter, and he threw him back. Ryuji fell against the sacred lantern he'd placed the orchids on, and Kuwabara cried out as the flowers fell to the ground as the stone lamp was jostled. Ryuji gave him a cold smile.

"Were these important to you?" he inquired deliberately, grinding the orchids under his heel.

"Yu-yurusenai!" Kuwabara shouted, eyes wide with dismay. His hopes were being crushed under that youkai's heel. "Not again!"

He leapt into action again, swinging his sword in a wild arc that Ryuji dodged easily, flicking his wrist out in a slash of steel that stitched a diagonal track of pain up Kuwabara's ribs. He stumbled back, reiken clanging belatedly over Ryuji's blade, and the youkai stepped back, diverting the reiken easily to the side, moving back into his en garde position.

"Wretched swordwork," Ryuji scoffed, holding his katana firmly in both hands. "What do you rely on, your brute strength and luck to get you through a fight?"

Kuwabara cursed viciously and lunged forward again, launching a series of overhanded strokes at the youkai. Ryuji merely moved aside from each blow, his horrible lumpish face creasing in a vague smile, his blade not bothering to move an inch to counter Kuwabara's strikes. Finally Ryuji leapt back, his black leathery wings snapping out to full extension as he alighted on the temple steps.

"You are *hardly* a worthy opponent," Ryuji declared coldly, obviously having passed some kind of judgment. He sheathed his sword. "I will finish you later, at my leisure."

"NANI!?" Kuwabara shrieked, mortally insulted. He lunged forward again, reiken burning in his hands, ready to deliver a message of his insulted vengeance and thwarted fury.

Ryuji vanished in an upward displacement of rushing air, leathery wings flapping strongly and leaving Kuwabara swamped in the backwash of his dusty beats.

He coughed for a few moments, then let his reiken vanish. Futile. It was futile. He eyed the crushed orchids forlornly, then exhaled a sigh from the very bottoms of his toes.

Maybe some other day.


Iryoku dropped the splintered pieces of the bloodied Orb fragment she had crushed in her fist and ground it under her heel, gritting her teeth at the same time. Blood spattered beside her boot, a trickle, followed by a few drops.

"Fools. I. Am. Surrounded. By. Fools and incompetents." Her violet eyes sparked as she turned, acquired a definite sapphire gleam as Ryuji Ekoi, and Hatsu faced her, their torsos inclined slightly - not quite bowing. But at least *they* were still alive.

"First Miiraju, then that moron Seiki - and you, Ekoi, and YOU, Hatsu!" Her finger stabbed out accusingly. "You failed! And Ryuji - "

"As I said, it was a preliminary encounter," the demon responded, tone coldly dangerous.

Iryoku sniffed dismissively. "Well, with Seiki dead, you'll have to take care of Hiei, too."

Ryuji's eyes kindled. "As you wish." He stepped to the edge of the building, wings snapping out to full length as he gathered himself and leapt.

Iryoku took a few deep breaths, then eyed her two remaining subordinates from the corner of her eye. Looking at them head-on right now would only induce another frenzy.

"Hatsu. Ekoi."

"Hai." They wisely remained unmoving.

"I will give you one more chance to fulfill your blood obligation, before I exercise the *other* option of the contract."

On the edge of her vision, she saw the flicker as they both flinched, and she smiled grimly. Good. Maybe now they would realize how truly serious she was.

Unto death.


The apartment had been quiet and dark for a few hours before Kurama heard a rustle at the curtains by the window. He knew it was deliberate. Hiei was far too good to make such a mistake unless it were on purpose. He smiled sleepily and kept his breathing quiet and even, letting Hiei think he was still deep in dreamland.

Weight settled on the futon and he moved a little, curling up on his side, sighing.

Soft pressure stroked over his cheek, and he turned his face into the caress, smiling.

"...Hiei..." "Hn. What if I were the shapeshifter, baka?"

A grin split Kurama's face and he sat up, sheets pooling in his lap, and wound his arms around the fire demon. Hiei accepted the gesture without blinking, but he still frowned ferociously, waiting for an answer.

"I knew it was you," he assured his lover. He pressed a kiss on Hiei's collarbone, over the tank top, grinning as he realized that Hiei had already unwound his cloak and set aside his katana. He tugged at the fire demon, urging him further onto the futon, and Hiei grumbled at him but moved as he did, curling one arm around his waist.

Kurama lay back on the bed very deliberately, knowing that his red hair fanned out around his face to frame it, and blinked wide eyes up at Hiei."I'm glad you came tonight."

Hiei snorted, but the sound was not nearly as impersonal as he might have wished. He bent to press closed lips in the hollow of Kurama's throat, lingering over the pulse.

When he pulled back, there was hesitation in his face.

"What, shy?" Kurama teased. "Isn't it a little late for that?"

Hiei shook his head, the minute frown re-forming on his lips. "It's just that - yesterday - are you okay?"

Kurama reached up to grab Hiei by the ears, pulling a very surprised fire demon's head down into the range of his hungry lips, and kissed him soundly. When he drew back Hiei's breath caught in his throat, and the uncertainty was mingled with desire.

"Does that answer it for you, Hiei? Give me credit for being less fragile than you suddenly seem to think I am."

Hiei grinned at him suddenly, the tips of his fangs just barely showing. "All right, kitsune. If you're that determined..."

"I am," Kurama replied, voice soft but a note of steel underneath. Hiei kissed him abruptly, hands beginning to move in tingling circles over his chest, applying firm pressure to the flat muscled planes before seeking a nipple.

"Hiei..." Kurama sighed against his mouth, and he took advantage of the opening to lick both of the fox's lips before dipping his tongue into the recess, exploring his sweet-tasting mouth thoroughly. Kurama's hands rubbed over his lower back then reached down further, cupping his buttocks. Hiei grinned into his mouth at the fox's eagerness, reached between their bodies to cup Kurama's hardening length. He kissed his way down Kurama's torso, pushing aside the sheets, and raised an eyebrow at the youko's state of undress.

Kurama grinned down at him unashamed. "I thought it would be convenient in case you *did* show up," he told him happily.

Hiei snorted. "You're about as subtle as a brick in the face." He bent to press his lips to the youko's navel - which he seemed to like a lot, the way he squirmed and carried on every time Hiei paid attention to that area. Hiei grinned, licked his bellybutton again, and moved further.

"Take your clothes off," Kurama complained, although he arched up into Hiei's hands, wrapping his legs around him.

Hiei paused long enough to skin the tank top over his head and tossed it over the edge of the bed, then brushed his lips over the tip of Kurama's arousal. He'd decided to pleasure his fox first, as a way to apologize for leaving him last night. Kurama's hips lifted and a throttled moan escaped his throat. Then he *really* began to moan, as Hiei paid his entire attention to his fox's sex, curling his hands around the half-youko's hips to grip them tightly as he rubbed firmly against the sheets, his mouth on Kurama mimicking the pace of the slow strokes of his pelvis into the mattress.

"Hiei..." Kurama gasped. "Hiei...?"

He glanced up, to meet Kurama's wild and brilliant eyes. "Hmm...?" Hiei nuzzled at his thigh and bit lightly when at first he made no response.

"Wait - don't - I want to come when you're inside of me," Kurama said, gasping. "Please?"

Hiei stared up at him, crimson eyes wide and startled. "H-honto?" he exclaimed, hands clutching at Kurama's hips a little harder to prevent them from trembling.

Kurama nodded, a smile breaking out over his face. "Don't you want to?"

"H-hai..." he replied cautiously, shifting a little on the futon and flushing. Dammit...why did Kurama have to be How could the youko make him love him so damned much? Even though he'd nearly been killed yesterday, because of Hiei. And even though Hiei had left him last night. Why did Kurama still want him?

The redhead flexed his legs around Hiei, pulling him closer, and smiled. "Well?"

Hiei found that it was suddenly very hard to breathe. "H-hai..." He fumbled at the belts around his waist.

Kurama sat up, his stomach muscles rippling with the movement. "Let me," he purred, his fingers a lot more steady than Hiei's. His green eyes were intent as he undid the buckles, one by one, and pulled the thin white belts out of the loops. "Baka...why four belts? Trying to make life harder for me?" His expression was teasing.

Inside, Hiei flinched. His very *presence* made things harder for Kurama. He had known this was a bad idea from the start. Getting close to someone only put them in jeopardy. But he leaned forward anyway, pushing Kurama to the bed, kissing him fiercely.

Kurama lifted his legs, squeezed Hiei's waist, turned his face up into the kiss and wrapped his arms around him, trying to pull him as close as possible. Become one with him, melding in flesh and spirit. "Now...please, now..." he mumbled against Hiei's cheek, then nibbled at his ear.

Hiei's stomach muscles tensed, it felt like his whole body went tense and then he was pushing deeply inside and Kurama was clutching at him panting in his ear and he let go of the groan that was clawing its way out of his throat and the soft warmth surrounding him was so hotly inextricably entwined with everything that was Kurama that the next sound that fluttered past his lips was the youko's name as he let go and began to move on top of him.

And remembered how to breathe, in fits and gasps, as Kurama's teeth latched onto his shoulder, arms and legs tugging him closer. Gently Kurama urged him further in and Hiei struggled to move cautiously after that initial, ecstatic push, knowing it must hurt. But the only sound that welled up from his lover's mouth - at first he thought it was a pained noise - was voluble, tremulously urgent, as every part of Kurama sought to clutch at him. His hands grasped at him, his lips tugged at Hiei's bottom lip, his legs hooked firmly around his waist and that tight ring of muscle seizing him as something stroked against his lower belly again and again.

He frowned. Weren't Kurama's hands - he blushed furiously, realizing that it was Kurama's own arousal moving against him, and he was so inexperienced he hadn't quite known that was where it would go. Hiei cried out, stunned by the escalating cascade of heat that curled around them hotter - hell - hotter than his own fires, as he lurched over Kurama, in him gods through him in a process that felt like becoming him, and he Hiei, until they overlapped to explosion.

Kurama wrapped his arms around him, wouldn't let go even after Hiei mumbled a protest into his sweat-mussed hair. "No, you won't hurt me," he replied to the mostly-incoherent muttered phrases. He drew a hand along Hiei's spine, fingertip-light, and sighed happily. "I love you, Hiei."

Hiei's stomach muscles tightened again, but not from the rush of exhilaration that had consumed him last time. Silently he pulled out of the tight heated space of Kurama's body, to disguise his sudden flinch, but let the youko cradle him possessively.

You won't hurt me.

He'd nearly died. Hadn't, thanks to a loophole. If it were to happen again...


Yuusuke met Keiko outside of the restaurant.

Keiko met Yuusuke with a furious glint in her eye, and a wicked uppercut. "Itai!" Yuusuke wheezed weakly from his prone position on the sidewalk. He sat up, rubbing his chin, and squinted at her painfully. "Have you been practicing?"

"Yuusuke you baka! Isn't dying twice already enough for you!?" she yelled, stomping a foot.

He froze. "Who told you?" he asked, a guilt-filled look flitting over his face.

Keiko planted her fists on her hips. "Kuwabara spilled it during miso soup," she replied. Then reached out and took a firm hold of his ear, as he got to his feet. Keiko hauled on it, as she turned and marched down the sidewalk.

"Itetetetete!" Yuusuke yowled, but Keiko wasn't letting up.

She dragged him up the walk until they reached the restaurant alley. Her fingers twisted at his ear like crab pinchers and he yelped, then obediently followed her direction into the alley. She pushed him against the brick wall, thankfully letting go of his ear.

"What's this for?" Yuusuke inquired. His face fell. "Are you going to make me take out the trash, Keiko?" Mournfully he contemplated the mounds of trash a restaurant could produce in a day.

"BA-ka," Keiko pronounced, and Yuusuke had just enough time to draw his brows up in puzzlement before her lips caught at his, pressing on him, heavy and clumsy in a fumbling sort of excitement.

Yuusuke 'hmmed' in startlement against her mouth then his lips went around her as she continued the kiss hungry-mouthed, her body moving against him in startling ways.

Finally Keiko let him up for breath, still pressed vibrantly against him, her wide eyes framing unspoken expectancy.

"Wow-" he managed, and bent to capture that livid sensation again. Keiko met him halfway and more, kissing through him to press the entire line of his body against the brick wall. They trembled together, her breath seeping by warm flashes into his mouth, his body taut wherever she touched - and she touched everywhere.

"Keiko-" he groaned, head tipping back to roll against the sharp ridges of interlocked brick.

She didn't answer, her fingers slipping into the gaps between buttons of his shirt. He mouth - he groaned as the slick wet line of questing tongue sought and struck the sensitive cluster of sensation - closed over a nipple.

His hips kilted towards her. "Keiko - ah - Keiko..."

"Yuusuke..." the voice shrilled from his pocket, high and thin and irritable. "Yuusuke!"

He shook his head. He could have sworn Keiko didn't sound like Koenma, but she WAS excited...but she wasn't anywhere near his pocket, she was- "Yuusuke, pick up!" the communicator shrilled insistently.

"Oh damn," Yuusuke muttered thickly.

"Urameshi Yuusuke - " Keiko leaned back, wiping her mouth, her voice husky, lower than usual.

"I'm sorry, Keiko," he apologized, pulling it out of his pocket and flipping it open. He tried to keep his voice even and agreeable.

"Nani, kisama!?" ...but he didn't try TOO hard.

"Yuusuke, good," Botan's face beamed out at him, crowding aside the little god who gave her an outraged look, fuukuman dangling from his lips. "We found her file."

"Whose?" Yuusuke asked blankly, trying to concentrate. It was really hard. Keiko's hand was toying with the top edge of his jeans.

"Ekoi's," Botan and Koenma chorused.

"Ekoi's?" he echoed, a bit clearer now as Keiko's hand abruptly left his jeans and she stepped back, glaring at him.

"Aa, Ekoi's - apparently, she is an adept at spheres of mimicry and transformation, and bochu magic-"

Yuusuke stared dry-mouthed at Keiko, who was suddenly looking very grim.

"Bochu magic..." he repeated weakly.


Hiei moved that yawing millimeter to the right and kissed Kurama's mouth, leisurely, his lips heavy on the salt-slicked skin. He could feel Kurama's breath slowing, the quicksilver triphammer of his heart resuming its normal rhythm.

"I wanted to make sure you were satisfied, first," Hiei muttered, burying his face in the tangles of darkened red hair. He was embarrassed that Kurama's unexpected offer had completely wiped his resolution from mind. To see to Kurama's pleasure above his own, in an effort to make up for yesterday's leavetaking.

"Oh, I am," Kurama mumbled back dreamily. He could feel the shape of Kurama's smile against his cheek. "I've been waiting for this for so long, Hiei."

The youko was falling asleep, he could feel it. Abruptly he squirmed in Kurama's stranglehold embrace. "Let me go," he commanded, and sensed Kurama's sleepy disappointment.

"Hiei - don't - "

He rolled off of Kurama, then stretched out on the futon, blinking innocently into the wide, glimmering emeralds that the moon sheened over with faint opalescence. "Don't what?" He fitted himself very deliberately to the youko's side, bumping the underside of Kurama's chin with the white starburst of spikes.

Kurama relaxed and snugged an arm around him. "I love you," he repeated, eyes closing.

Hiei kept up the reverberating thrum of his purr until he sensed Kurama had fallen asleep, felt the regular liquid throb of his heard below his ear, heard the steady even intakes of breath. Then gently he disengaged, leaving Kurama awash in the moon-piled sheets.

He brushed his fingers over the half-parted lips. "I love you, too," he replied, and dressed swiftly.

His departure was even swifter.

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