by Talya Firedancer

Author's note: This story incorporates characters from Fushigi Yuugi, and carries HUGE SPOILERS for the end of that series. Just to warn you! And the premise for including these characters is borrowing on the assumption of a crossover between the YYH-FY universes where Hiei and Kurama *aren't* seriously involved yet, which I haven't written.

And just to prevent any comments, yes, I KNOW "exteriored" isn't a real word.

Kurama sighed luxuriantly, burrowing into the cool sheets that surrounded him. The air felt sweet and pleasant against his bare skin; it must be a *nice* day outside. . . Then as he rolled inevitably towards consciousness he became more aware - his skull was a pounding, reverberating dome, and there was a pucker of pain stitching across his left side - he frowned, wincing.

Oh yeah. They'd fought a pair of particularly nasty criminals last night, and one of them had unleashed some vicious youma - Kurama just barely remembered losing consciousness at some point, lightheaded and sick from the poison of the youma's claws, and a pair of glowing coals for eyes bending over him as strong arms scooped him up.

He slitted his eyes against the sunlight filtering into the room then his eyes popped open as he was confronted with a pair of intense crimson eyes *very* close in his field of vision.

"AAAAH!" Kurama yelled, sitting bolt upright in bed and yanking the sheets up close to his bare chest. "My honor! You've taken my honor!" he accused the little Koorime sitting on the floor. He hid a grin as he played it to the hilt, carrying on like a despoiled virgin.

Hiei hopped to his feet beside the futon, scowling down on him blackly. He snorted contemptuously as the redhead blinked up at him with wide eyes, sheets clutched to his naked torso.

"Ch', stupid fox - that's the last time I ever do you a favor," he growled. "I took your shirt off to get at the wound."

Kurama grinned up at him with sparkling innocence, batting his wide eyes. "I'm just kidding, Hiei," he assured the fire demon, then winced as his side twinged up at him. "Did you actually haul me all the way home and take care of me?"

"Hn," was the only reply he got, as the little Koorime folded his arms, regarding Kurama darkly from the vantage of now being a head taller.

Kurama gave him a sunny smile then explored the bandage that covered his left side, hiding the ragged gash that reached from hip to ribs. It had been poisoned from the youma's claws, which had put him out of the fight. Hiei had come to the rescue, as the Rose Whip dropped from suddenly benumbed fingers and he had clutched at the wound, feeling the poison spreading through his limbs. The youma had attacked again, but was suddenly split in two before Kurama's eyes. Hiei had stepped calmly through the falling pieces, and then Kurama had collapsed.

"What did you do, suck the poison out?" A sly, impish smile crossed Kurama's lips as he eyed the impassive fire demon. ". . .ne, Hiei?"

"Stupid fox," Hiei huffed at his teasing innuendo.

Kurama sighed, gingerly touching his head. There were a few bumps, and one really painful knot near his temple. He had to stop teasing Hiei. He'd been flippant to disguise his surprise, and the rush of desire, at seeing Hiei still here, and so close to being in his bed. . .Had he stayed all night? *Why?*

"Thank you for taking care of me."

Hiei was quiet for a moment, cocking his head to examine Kurama. Then, "It was the least I could do," he muttered, scarlet gaze sliding away to a corner of the room. "You always take care of me, after I release the Black Dragon."

"Ah," Kurama said, working his fingers into the sheets. So it had just been out of obligation.

Hiei looked back at him suddenly, arms still folded defensively. "Kurama - when humans talk in their sleep, what does it mean?" he asked unexpectedly, fixing him with that beveled ruby gaze.

*Oh shit.* Kurama's mouth was abruptly dry. "Why. . .did I talk in my sleep?" he asked uneasily.

Hiei didn't answer, instead looking down at him with those steady scarlet flames burning into his face, as if he was examining every feature, even inside of Kurama's head to see how each piece worked. Studying him intently. Almost as if seeing him for the first time.

Kurama's mouth was *very* dry.

"Hiei. . .what did I say?" Kurama began nervously, unable to look away, wide-eyed. He felt a flush spreading uncomfortably over his cheeks and cursed his fair complexion.

He'd fallen in love with this little Koorime so gradually he'd barely been aware of it happening. Maybe it was a human thing. He was fairly certain youko Kurama would have never acted the way he was now. . .well, he amended to himself, youko Kurama would have made a *much* more concerted attempt to tumble Hiei by now. But he wanted more than that. Just. . .how would Hiei react, if he knew?

Sitting as he was on the futon, Kurama was now shorter than Hiei, who seemed to loom over him. Kurama shifted uncomfortably, transfixed by Hiei's unwavering stare, twisting the sheets in his hands. The silence between them thrummed with tension as he looked up into those analytical eyes.

*Inari. . .does he know?* Kurama's thoughts raced in panic.

"You said my name," Hiei replied finally, something flickering in the depths of his eyes. "A lot."

"Oh," Kurama replied weakly, vague embarrassment swirling up in him. He could just only imagine the tone of voice he might've said it in. . . *This could be very awkward. Hells this IS very awkward. . .* He was unable to look away from Hiei's eyes, but afraid that any minute a look of contempt would cross the Koorime's face, revulsion as he revealed whatever it was Kurama had said during the night, and throw it back in his face with disgust.

"You said. . ." Hiei hesitated, his brow creasing as he uncrossed his arms, fisting his hands at his sides.

Kurama regarded the clenched fists with dread. Was Hiei going to punch him? . . .After the joke about claiming his honor, piled on all the other hopeful-but-hopeless insinuations and teasing advances he'd made for the longest time - was Hiei finally taking offense, realizing he *meant* it?

"You said please don't leave me," Hiei said quietly, still standing beside him as he sat clutching the sheets of the futon, his body feeling cold.

Kurama began to breath again.

So *that's* why Hiei had stayed with him, all night. He'd been wondering, knowing that his wounds weren't bad enough for him to have been in danger during the night. Not by far.

He smiled up into Hiei's face, watchful under brows lowered in concentration. "Arigato, Hiei," he said quietly, knowing his eyes were shining but he couldn't help it. Hiei had *stayed* with him. Did that mean he cared?

*As a friend,* Kurama hauled himself up short, cutting off racing, wistful speculations, and his gaze dropped to his hands twisting the sheets. Hiei still stood there, silent, immobile. Kurama felt a flush spreading across his cheeks again. How many times *had* he called Hiei's name? Had it been with the longing - had Hiei heard the desperate longing in his voice? The feelings that tugged and crushed his heart?

A hand seized his chin, tipping his head up, and Kurama's eyes flew open to their widest as Hiei commandered his attention. Hiei was regarding him with a peculiarly intense expression. His lips were slightly parted. Then he moved forward, brushing his lips along the corner of Kurama's mouth.

He hesitated, then did it again, nudging at Kurama's parted lips gently with his own.

Kurama froze, wide-eyed. Letting him do it.

*I'm dreaming, I MUST be dreaming. . .*

Hiei's breath whispered over his top lip, tickling a little. Their lips were barely touching. Hiei started to pull away as Kurama remained frozen, a little frown creasing his brow and his eyes opened.

*No you don't!* Kurama blinked, galvanized into action.

With a little involuntary noise escaping from the depths of his throat, Kurama reached out, sliding an arm around Hiei's waist and pulling him close, breath pouring out in a rush into Hiei's still-parted lips. He captured Hiei's lips firmly with his own, kissing him back. His tongue moved almost of its own volition, slipping out to trace the firm slick line of the underside of Hiei's upper lip, then sliding in to tasted the heated depths of his mouth.

Hiei shuddered and his body stiffened in the circle of Kurama's arm. He broke away abruptly, with a sharp intake of breath, crimson eyes wide and wild for an instant before the mask, cold and impersonal, settled in place. Without a word he was gone, flitting away in a displacement of air that left Kurama staring at nothing.

"Shimatta," he swore, unraveling the sheets still gathered up in one fist with a hissing sigh of frustration and loss.

*Now I bet he'll never come back.*

* * *

*". . .one fine day. . .you'll look at me. . ."*

Kurama walked down the street with his head down, hands stuffed deep in his pockets.

It was a beautiful day outside, a perfect autumn summer-filtered afternoon, but Kurama was too wrapped up in thoughts of Hiei to appreciate it. He couldn't get his mind off the kiss, and he knew he *hadn't* imagined it. It hadn't been a dream. Hiei had even initiated the kiss. So. . .did that mean Hiei felt the same way he did?

Sunlight shivered down on him, wrapping him up in a sweet embrace of warmth that encouraged him to play and he tipped his head up, thinking of another, more intimate embrace. Then Kurama suddenly smiled, shaking his head and locks of wild red hair shifted and tumbled around his shoulders. It was a perfect day to go to the park, to enjoy all this warmth and greenery. And of course the connection with nature would soothe him, restore his sense of equilibrium.

He would sort things out with Hiei later. The more he thought about it, the more he decided he had pushed him too quickly - it was only natural for Hiei to flee from experiencing emotion, or intense physical sensation. Especially when that had been Hiei's first kiss.

Actually he was a little ashamed at his lack of control. It was shocking enough that Hiei had kissed him *at all.* Hiei had been no match for youko Kurama's instant, instinctively sensual response. He had pulled away when Kurama sought to deepen the kiss - much too quick for a first time, he realized now.

He would go slower next time, he promised himself - let Hiei set the pace himself. But at least now he *knew* Hiei might return his interest. . .Kurama hugged himself ecstatically, then broke into an easy run, enjoying the feel of the light breeze on his face, only wanting now to get to the park, to his special place, as soon as possible.

He reached the park and kept up an easy lope as he jogged along the outskirts. There was a certain place he always loved to go. He frowned suddenly as he rounded a corner, feeling a nagging sensation of someone watching him. He glanced over his shoulder.

"Aie!" a female voice thrilled out, as something - someone! - thudded heavily into him, and they both went down in a tangle of limbs.

"S-sumimasen!" Kurama stammered, embarrassed, as he scrambled to his feet, offering his hand to the brown-haired girl he'd knocked down - waitaminute - she looked familiar. . .

"S-sumimasen!" the girl echoed, red-faced. "I'm such a klutz!"

"Miaka?" Kurama said in astonishment, as the girl stood and brushed her clothes off.

"Who?" she looked at him more closely, then gave him a wide, delighted smile. "Kurama-san!" Miaka exclaimed happily, throwing her arms around him. "I haven't seen you in soooo long! How are you!"

Kurama smiled back at her, brushing back stray locks of bright red hair. "Good, good - you're back from the Shijintenchisho, I see! How did things go for you - Suzaku no Miko?" he added teasingly.

Miaka's smile dimmed a bit. "Ano. . .good for the most part. I-it - things turned out okay in the end," she faltered a bit, then smiled bravely. "We summoned Suzaku, but not all of the seishi. . .only Tasuki and Chichiri are still alive."

Kurama felt like he'd received a blow to the gut. "Nani!? Miaka. . .I'm so sorry. . ." he managed, at a loss for what to say. All of the rest of them. . . dead? Killed? It was impossible to believe.

She smiled up at him again, obviously trying to be cheerful. "It's okay! Everyone was very happy, when I left - they assured me so, in person, and told me to be happy too. Even their spirits will be reborn, so nothing is really ever over. And I passed my high school exams!"

"That's great!" Kurama replied, happy for her. Then he remembered something. "Ne. . .Miaka. . .what about Tamahome?" he asked sadly, unwilling to believe that the fighter who had loved his Miko so much had also perished.

Miaka tilted her head a little, regarding him with a smile in her brown eyes. "I was waiting for Taka when you bumped into me."

"Huh?" Kurama was totally confused by the non-sequitur.

He felt a tightness constrict his chest. If he had ever seen true love in his life, it had existed between Miaka and Tamahome. Something so pure and true they would never allow themselves to be parted, no matter what! But if Miaka was here, then what about. . .

"Taka!" Miaka had turned to scan the crowd of passersby, and she was waving. "Taka, I'll be right there!"

A young man poised on the opposite side of the street spotted her and waved back, his face brightening. He nodded, a tender smile lighting up his features.

"Tamahome," Kurama breathed incredulously, hardly able to believe what his eyes were showing him. How. . .?

"Taka," Miaka corrected, giving him a smile as she turned back to him. "Sukunami Taka. . .he was reborn, you see. . ."

"How?" Kurama voiced his wonder.

Miaka offered him a beatific smile. "When two people love each other - truly, truly love! - then barriers don't matter. Nothing can stop true love."

Kurama's thoughts wandered reflexively to Hiei. Stubborn little fire demon.. .

"Ne, Kurama?"

"I think so too," Kurama replied, returning attention to the smiling girl.

"Ja ne!" She waved brightly and hurried to cross the street. He watched her for a moment longer, as Miaka joined Tamahome's reincarnation and they moved off. He noticed how they almost seemed to glow together. Kurama smiled wistfully.

*". . .and then you'll know our love was meant to be. . ."*

His thoughts had drifted back to Hiei, inevitably. Yoshi, he would take it slow. He wagered that he could prove more patient and persistent than that icy-exteriored Koorime.

Kurama looked up again, hair whipping about in a wind-blown, bright red ensign, feeling that same nagging little feeling of being watched. His eyes combed through the trees.

There. Hiei.

Watching him.

The Koorime stood lightly balanced on a tree limb, almost completely screened by greenery. Kurama saw him start as their eyes locked for a brief instant, and in the next breath Hiei was gone.

*". . .and one fine day. . .you're gonna want me. . ."*

Kurama smiled, an inwardly-directed expression full of contemplation. Suddenly cheerful, he shoved his hands in his pockets and continued through the park.

Hiei would come back, eventually.

And Kurama would be waiting.

"*. . .one fine day. . .you're gonna want me. . .for your love."*