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Roses As Red As Blood

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Hiei pushed open the door of the large old house and coughed as he crossed the threshold. The house was dark and the air was stuffy. According to the real estate Hiei had purchased the house through, it had been closed up for years. The previous owner had died under suspicious circumstances and the locals believed it was cursed.

Hiei removed his shoes and walked into the living room. The furniture was covered in white sheets. He went straight to the large window and pushed it open. He had to put more force behind the push than he'd expected. It was obvious that no one had opened the window for some time. A fresh breeze met Hiei's nose and he breathed in the scent of roses. Outside the window was a bed of healthy, blooming roses. The garden was immaculate. It was the only thing about the house that had been cared for and it was what had drawn Hiei to the property in the first place.

He didn't hold with the rumours that the place was haunted. People liked to make up stories about old, abandoned houses like this one to scare each other. Not that Hiei had a right to judge. He had made quite a respectable amount of money writing fiction novels about the supernatural. He had came to this small, sleepy town in Japan because he was tired of travelling and wanted to settle down. The house was perhaps too large for one person but Hiei liked it's mysterious history and knew that it would provide inspiration for his novels.

And there was the garden. That beautiful, richly coloured expanse of flora. It was irresistible. The real estate had said that a local man tended it but strangely, they had not even been able to tell Hiei the young man's name. It seemed that no one knew who he was or where he lived, though some passerbys had spoken to him briefly. He had been described as polite but quiet and shy.

Hiei stepped away from the window and tugged one of the white sheets off the armchair. It pooled on the deep red and gold carpet at his feet. Making his way around the room, he yanked off the covers from the rest of the furniture.

The furniture was comfortable though aged.  It had came with the house. A large fireplace took up one wall. Hiei knew he would be making use of it soon as the weather was getting cooler. He suspected that the old house would be drafty.

Leaving the living room, he checked out the kitchen, finding that the cupboards were already stocked with food. The real estate had arranged for a local to shop for him. The appliances were, like the rest of the house, old but functional.

Hiei walked down the hall, admiring the artwork that lined the walls. Most of the paintings and tapestries were depictions of nature scenes. A large tapestry of a fox that hung beside the door to the office caught his eye. The detail was incredible. The fox stood tall and proud and it almost seemed as if it were watching him. Hiei wondered if any of the pieces were valuable. Not that he planned on selling any of them. They suited the atmosphere of the house.

Hiei planned on setting up the office to write his novels. There was an expansive window behind the desk that had an excellent view of the backyard. A large sakura tree took pride of place in the view but now it's branches were bare. It would look magical when it was in full bloom, Hiei thought.

He moved around the desk to the window to look out at the garden. He found it surprising that although it was nearly winter, some of the flowers were still in bloom, particularly the roses. The previous owner must have liked roses because they featured prominently in the garden, each one crimson red and perfect in form. Their scent filled the room as Hiei opened the window. He knew that soon the heady scent would fill every room in the house.

The master bedroom was large and the carpet beneath his feet was plush. Like the living room, it was comfortable and decorated in hues of deep brown and red. There was a bathroom off the bedroom that had both a shower and a large bathtub. Towels already hung on the racks. The real estate really had arranged everything, Hiei thought with approval.

Even his clothes had already been unpacked and put away in the closet and the dresser. He stood by the bed, feeling at a loss. There really wasn't anything left for him to do.

The sound of the doorbell echoed through the empty halls, making Hiei jump. Though, he thought he really should have expected it. It was probably someone from the real estate checking on him.

He walked through the halls to the front door. His bare feet were silent on the floor. None of the floorboards creaked. He opened the door to find a young woman standing on the porch. He was immediately struck by how strange her hair and eyes were. Her hair was a light shade of blue and her eyes were pink. She wore a cute blue and white dress with a yellow bowtie. The dress came almost to her knees. She smiled brightly at him and Hiei inwardly recoiled. He hated cheery people. In her arms she held a large box.

"You must be Hiei Jaganshi," she said in a chipper voice. "The author, right? Isn't the house lovely? I'm so glad someone finally bought it. It seems such a shame for it to just sit here neglected."

Hiei pointedly cleared his throat and the woman stopped speaking, her eyes widening. "Oh, how rude of me," she said. "I'm Botan. I live next door. I thought that since you'd just moved in here, you might not have had time to cook yourself dinner so I brought you over some."

"Thank you," Hiei said. He wished she'd go away but the gesture was a nice one and it would be rude to simply dismiss her. Besides, being a local and living next door to the house, she might know more about it's history. "Come in," he told her, stepping back. As she moved forward, he took the box from her arms.

She toed off her shoes while Hiei waited patiently and then he led her through the house to the kitchen. She stared curiously into every room as they passed.

"I've never been in here," she told Hiei as they entered the kitchen and Hiei set the box on the bench. "The artwork is gorgeous. Did it come with the house?"

"Yes," Hiei confirmed as he went through the contents of the box, putting the meals away in the freezer. "Do you know anything about the previous owner of the house?"

Botan pursed her lips thoughtfully. "He was a recluse," she said. "An artist. I guess that's where all the artwork came from. He never showed it to anyone though. You could probably sell it if you're so inclined. If you do, let me know."

"I don't intend to sell any of the pieces," Hiei said flatly. "At least not at this time."

She nodded. "I'm glad. Somehow, they seem to belong here, don't they? Are you going to write a story about this house? Is that why you bought it?"

"I bought it because I like solitude," Hiei said pointedly, but Botan was oblivious to his hint.

She smiled brightly at him. "It's perfect for that," she said. "But won't you get lonely?"

"I very much doubt it," Hiei grumbled as he closed the freezer door.

Botan moved around the bench and leaned over the sink to peer out the window. "The flowers are incredible," she said admiringly. "I wish my garden looked like this. Everything I plant dies. Can I take a few of the roses?"

"If you like," Hiei said. He really didn't care.

"Oh, thank you so much," she exclaimed. "They'll look lovely in my dining room."

Hiei retrieved some paper towels, a pair of scissors and gloves and they went out into the front yard. Hiei cut off several large blooms and tied the paper around the stems, handing the bouquet to Botan. He made a mental note to keep a stash of newspaper on hand. She buried her nose in the bouquet, taking in the scent. "The florist's flowers don't smell like this," she complained when she raised her head.

"Have you ever seen the gardener?" Hiei inquired as he walked Botan to the front gate.

"No," she pouted. "Well, I've seen him, but every time I come over to speak to him, he's gone. It's like he just disappears."

"What does he look like?" Hiei asked curiously.

"He has long red hair," she said. "I've heard he has green eyes but I've never seen him up close so I can't really say for sure. Actually, from a distance, he sort of looks like a girl. He always wears a dress shirt and slacks, even though he's gardening. It's weird how he never seems to get dirt on his clothes."

"That is strange," Hiei said thoughtfully. He began to wonder if perhaps the mysterious gardener might make a good character for one of his books.

"Oh, and one more thing," Botan said. She had been just about to leave but now turned to face him. "There's wild bats around here," she said. "They don't seem to be afraid of people and they are sometimes vicious. You should be careful if you go near the forest."

"I will," Hiei told her. He wasn't entirely surprised. The grounds of the house were vast and backed onto a national forest. It was natural that wildlife might come into the grounds, or even approach the house.

She smiled at him, her pink eyes dancing in the glow of the street light they were standing under.  It had just flicked on. The sky was dimming above them. "I live just over there," she said, pointing down the road. "If you need anything just come on over."

"Thank you," Hiei said.

"You're welcome," she said. "And thank you for the roses."

Hiei watched her make her way down the sidewalk, skipping every so often with the red bouquet clutched in one hand. He found his lips twitching upward into a smile. Botan's good mood was infectious and a nice contrast to the empty, stuffy air of the house behind him.

He walked back to the porch and entered the house, closing and locking the door behind him. During their time in the garden the porch light had automatically come on. He was glad that he didn't have to cook dinner tonight. He was actually pretty hungry and didn't want to wait for his dinner.

He went straight to the kitchen and heated up one of the meals Botan had cooked. He was surprised and pleased to find that it was good. Hiei was not a particularly good cook though he had grown accustomed to his own cooking.

He ate the meal while sitting on the barstool at the bench and staring out the window as the sun sank below the horizon. He had told Botan that he liked solitude but right now he felt that it would have been nice to have someone to share the evening with.

He shrugged off his melancholy thoughts as he washed up his dishes in the sink. His last relationship hadn't ended well and while it had been some time since the break-up he wasn't sure he was ready to enter a new relationship. Working on his new novel would hopefully be enough to keep him busy during the coming weeks. Maybe after that he would consider dating again, if the right person came along.

The sweet scent of roses lingered in the house even after Hiei closed and secured the windows. It was comforting and made the house feel less lonely. Hiei thought that perhaps he would pick some tomorrow and bring them inside.

He decided to leave the bedroom window open that evening. The breeze was just the right temperature and the place really needed the fresh air.

When he closed his eyes all he could see was the deep red roses of the garden in the setting sun.

Hiei awoke in the middle of the night to a sharp pain on his neck. He yelped and jerked his hand up out of the covers to slap at his neck. He hit something furry and it abruptly let out a squeak and flew up to the ceiling. In the dim light from the moonlight Hiei could not see what it was. All he could tell was that it was small and had wings. It circled the ceiling once and then flew out the window.

Hiei scrambled out from under the covers and closed the window, keeping his hand over his neck. He could feel from the wetness that it was bleeding profusely. Had the damn thing nicked a vein? He should have taken Botan's warning more seriously but he had completely forgotten about it.

He went into the bathroom and turned the light on, inspecting the cut. There were two small pinpricks on the side of his neck. They were, as Hiei had suspected, quite deep.

Hiei swore softly as he cleaned the cuts. He had to put a bandage over them as they refused to clot. He hoped that none of the blood had gotten on the new sheets. He felt a little sick so he took some medicine as well.

He turned off the bathroom light and went back to bed. His neck throbbed painfully and it was a long time before he was able to get back to sleep. He tried to think of the roses in an attempt to soothe his mind but now their colour only brought to mind visions of blood.

The next day Hiei peeled off the bandage to discover that the cuts had almost entirely healed up. He was a little confused by that but decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth. They might not have been as bad as he'd originally suspected. It had been the middle of the night, after all, and his awakening had been abrupt. He was probably still half-asleep when he'd examined them.

He still felt sick though. He barely managed to eat all of his breakfast. Botan's cooking, which had tasted so good last night, now no longer seemed as appetising to him. In fact, the thought of eating anything made him nauseous.

Hiei was in the garden picking some of the roses when a brown haired girl walked through his front gate. She was dressed in a sensible brown skirt and a blouse with her hair pulled back into a ponytail. She smiled at him when he set the roses he'd just picked onto the ground and rose to greet her.

As soon as she spoke he recognised her voice. "Hello, Mr. Jaganshi," she said. "I'm Keiko Yukimura. I work at the real estate. We spoke on the phone."

"Yes, I remember you, Mrs Yukimura," Hiei said, dusting off his dirty hands on his just as dirty slacks.

"I just came by to make sure you have everything you need," she said. "Have you had any problems so far?" Keiko didn't seem to be bothered by his less than clean clothes. Her polite, professional smile remained firmly in place.

"No. Everything's fine," Hiei assured her. "Thank you for arranging everything." He decided not to mention last night or his illness. He'd go to the local doctor if it didn't clear up on it's own.

"It was no trouble at all," Keiko said with a kind smile. "To be honest, most of us are relieved that this place is finally occupied. It's been pretty neglected." She glanced around herself. "Well, except for the garden," she added. "Have you met the gardener yet?" She looked hopefully at him.

"No," Hiei said. "Perhaps my presence has scared him off."

"I'm sure you'll come across him eventually," she said. "I think that someone who takes such excellent care of these plants won't be frightened off so easily. He's actually a bit of a local celebrity. The local school children have made a game out of trying to catch him." Her mouth turned down into a disapproving frown. "I hope they don't bother you."

Hiei frowned, visions of drunk teenagers running rampant through the well-kept garden coming to his mind. "I won't take it kindly if they damage my property," he warned her.

She smiled sympathetically. "I don't blame you," she said. "I think you could probably scare them off but if it becomes a problem, then call the local police. That poor young man doesn't deserve to be harassed. I think he's really just very shy."

"I will keep that in mind," Hiei said.

"Is there anything you need?" she asked him.

"No, thank you," Hiei said.

"I'll leave you to enjoy the garden, then," she said. "You have our number if you think of anything. Have a nice day, Mr. Jaganshi."

"You, too," Hiei told her. He watched her walk out the gate and turned back to the bed of roses beside him. He went to his knees and began to cut off more of the richly coloured blooms for his bouquets. He wished that the gardener had planted colours other than red, though. Some variety would have been nice. He intended to mix in some of the other flowers with the roses to balance out the red.

By lunchtime Hiei was starving. But, like breakfast, he found the food unsatisfying. In fact, he became so sick that he threw it up only minutes after eating it.

He called the real estate's number and asked for the local doctor's number. He was pleased to learn that the doctor made house calls and could fit him in that afternoon.

The doctor was a large man with hard features and small eyes but a kindly manner. His hair was styled in an orange pompadour that Hiei thought he should have outgrown years ago. As he examined Hiei, he began to look confused, worrying Hiei.

"This is strange," he said finally. "I think I need to do a blood test."

"Why?" Hiei demanded suspiciously.

The doctor, who had introduced himself as Kazuma Kuwabara, frowned at him. "I don't know exactly what's wrong," he admitted. "Your symptoms don't seem to fit with the usual illnesses for this time of year."

The doctor took the blood necessary for the test and advised Hiei to try to eat, even if he didn't feel like it, and to drink lots of water. He told Hiei that he would call with the blood test results in the next few days. Hiei was disturbed by the man's expression, which remained concerned even as he wished Hiei a good afternoon and departed.

Hiei tried to spend some more time in the garden before the light faded into evening but found that the sun felt too hot. He was surprised when he discovered that he had actually developed a sunburn. His tan skin usually wasn't so sensitive to the sun. He rubbed some cream on the burns before going to bed. He made sure to keep the window closed. He didn't want any more uninvited nocturnal visitors.

The next morning Hiei sat in his office working on a plan for his novel. He had been entirely unable to eat breakfast and now felt quite weak. He was also getting nowhere with his novel.

He turned his chair around to look out the window. To his surprise, he glimpsed a spot of red moving through the garden. He leaned forward to get a better look.

He stood from his chair and went to the door,  exiting the house. He made his way along the garden paths. He wore a long-sleeved shirt and a straw hat. He hoped that the clothing would keep him from getting sunburned again, although today was overcast so it shouldn't be a problem.

A figure was kneeling next to a bed of roses. As Hiei approached it rose to it's feet. Long red hair cascaded down it's slender back. It turned to reveal that it was a young man dressed in dark blue pressed slacks and a white button-up dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up, baring tanned arms. As Botan had said, not a spot of dirt clung to the immaculate clothes. Hiei raised his eyes from the young man's shapely body to find that he had a handsome face. His features were perfectly symmetrical and his eyes were a deep shade of forest green. He looked to be in his late teens or early twenties. Hiei's eyes were drawn to the open collar of the man's shirt. His slender neck looked very appealing to Hiei, though he couldn't say why.

"You must be the new owner," the stranger said, his face set in a frown. Unlike the other people Hiei had met here, this man's manner was not welcoming. Instead, he seemed defensive as if Hiei were a trespasser on his property.

"Yes," Hiei said. "You've done a lovely job with the garden." He hoped the compliment would make the man feel a little more relaxed around him. He really didn't want to scare him off. It was his hope that the young man would continue to tend the garden for him.

The gardener met his eyes, his own green gaze hard. "It's my garden," he said quietly. He brushed invisible dirt from his shirt in a gesture that appeared to be an unconscious habit.

"I have no intention of making you leave," Hiei told him. "You can stay and keep looking after it if you want."

"You won't interfere?" the man asked doubtfully. "You won't change it or plant anything without asking me first?"

Hiei frowned. He certainly was quite possessive of the garden. "No," he agreed. While he appreciated the beauty of the garden he had no idea how to tend plants himself. He was more than happy to leave it in the hands of it's lovely young caretaker.

"Have you had anything to eat yet?" Hiei asked. "Would you like to come inside?"

The gardener considered his options. He looked back at the roses he'd been pruning and then shrugged. "All right," he said. Hiei led him along the garden path and into the house. Hiei noticed as the man entered his house that his feet were bare. Like the rest of him, they were clean.

As Hiei hung his hat on a hook just inside the door he was surprised to hear a chuckle from behind him. He turned to see that the redhead had covered his mouth with his hand.

"What?" Hiei asked, feeling irritated.

"Your hair," the young man said, lowering his hand to reveal an amused grin.

Hiei reached up to pat his head. His normally spiky dark hair was flattened to his head by the hat. He glared at the gardener, whose grin only grew wider at his annoyance.

"Come on," Hiei said gruffly, taking him to the kitchen where he heated up one of Botan's meals for him.

The young man devoured the food as if he hadn't had a decent meal in weeks. When he was done he looked up at Hiei, his expression puzzled.

"Aren't you going to have something to eat as well?" he asked.

"No," Hiei said. He was standing as far from his guest as he could get, his back pressed against the counter. The breeze from the open window behind him blew into his back, bringing the scent of roses with it.

In an attempt to distract himself from wanting to jump the young man, Hiei asked, "What's your name?"

"Kurama," the gardener said, taking a sip of the water Hiei had set out for him.

"Just Kurama?" Hiei asked curiously.

"Yes," Kurama said in a tone that dared Hiei to push the issue.

"I'm Hiei," Hiei told him.

"I know," Kurama said. "I've been watching you."

The admission surprised Hiei. Kurama seemed so innocent and naive, yet he had been cautious enough to scope Hiei out. And didn't mind admitting it straight to his face.

The distant ringing of Hiei's phone made Kurama turn around on his stool to look back into the house. He turned back to Hiei, who hadn't moved.

"Aren't you going to get that?" he asked.

"No," Hiei said quietly. The scent of roses was overpowering. Hiei was suddenly overcome by a curious thought. Did Kurama smell like the roses he tended? He had to know. He moved around the bench Kurama was sitting at, unaware that his movements were predatory. His eyes locked onto Kurama's and held his gaze. The redhead didn't move, his green eyes glazing over, transfixed by Hiei. His head turned to follow Hiei's progress as if he were under a spell.

Even when Hiei broke the eye contact to move behind Kurama, the young man remained still, his breathing even. Hiei brushed his hand through his hair, marvelling at how soft it was, the colour rich as blood. Though Kurama clearly didn't care for it very well. Hiei pushed the red curtain aside and slanted Kurama's head to reveal his neck. He pushed the collar of the shirt aside and lowered his lips to the soft skin. He breathed in deeply. Kurama really did smell like his roses.

Hiei brushed his lips along Kurama's throat. The man's breathing hitched and his pulse jumped. Hiei felt as though he were in a dream, as though he were no longer in control of his actions as he kissed Kurama's neck.

Kurama moaned, tipping his head further to the side. Hiei's fingers danced down the buttons of the dress shirt, tugging it down his arms though he did not completely remove it. The gardener's arms were now behind him, tangled in the sleeves of his shirt. He returned to kissing and nipping Kurama's neck without the annoyance of the collar in his way. Kurama moaned in approval and pleasure, lips parted and eyes half-closed.

The redhead's pulse beat steadily under Hiei's lips. He didn't plan on doing it. He didn't even realise he'd done it until the sweetest substance he'd ever tasted filled his mouth. It tasted like sunshine, like green growing things, like life. Kurama cried out but Hiei had one arm around him and his hand buried in his hair, holding him firmly in place. He sucked eagerly on the wound he'd bitten into the man's throat.

It tasted so good. It satisfied Hiei's hunger in a way that no food could. A small part of him knew that what he was doing was wrong, that it was hurting Kurama but it felt so good that he didn't care.

Kurama's cries of pain finally quieted to weak whimpers. When the redhead began to go limp, Hiei pulled back, licking at the wound for a moment before lifting his head. His tongue scraped over his fangs as he licked the excess blood from his lips, savouring the taste. He had never tasted anything so delicious. He held the redhead against him, arms wrapped tenderly around him. Kurama's head lolled limply, his hair falling forward to hide his face.

Hiei began to feel regret. He hadn't meant to hurt the young gardener. He hadn't meant to get carried away. He checked Kurama's pulse and was relieved to find that it was there, though weak. He carried Kurama through the silent house and to his bedroom, where he laid him gently on the bed.

Kurama's skin was very pale, his shirt still partially undone, his arms tangled in the sleeves. His eyes were closed and his face was peaceful. The wound on his neck was already closed up, due to his saliva, Hiei suspected. His breathing was even but shallow. Hiei was certain that, while he had lost a significant amount of blood, the young gardener would live.

The phone rang again, but Hiei ignored it. He knew that it would be that doctor. Though he thought he no longer needed to know the results of his blood test. The reason for his illness was now undeniably obvious. He was a vampire.

Kurama's eyes fluttered open. He stared up at the unfamiliar ceiling above him for a moment, disorientated. His neck ached. He tried to raise his hand to rub it but quickly realised that his movement was restricted. He wriggled into a sitting position and fully removed his shirt, freeing his hands from it's sleeves. He rubbed at his neck, feeling the two small, scabbed over cuts.

"Bastard," he muttered as he recalled the events that had led to his current position. Clearly he hadn't been watching the author for long enough because he hadn't realised that the man was a vampire.

The sound of the door creaking open made Kurama's head jerk around, his hair whipping across his face. He brushed it aside to see Hiei entering the room. He wore a long-sleeved dark shirt and jeans. His black hair was spiked up and his expression was wary. And his eyes were a bloody red. Kurama was sure that they had been brown before. Hiei slowly approached the bed, carrying a tray in his hands. He set it down near Kurama before retreating to lean against the wall, giving the gardener space.

Kurama frowned at the tray. He was hungry and the scent of the food was heavenly but he wasn't sure if he could trust the other man.

"It's not drugged or poisoned," Hiei muttered from his position across the room. "Why the hell would I do that to you?"

"You tell me," Kurama retorted. "Why the hell would you bite me?"

Hiei scowled. "It was an accident," he said. "I didn't mean to do it." He stared down at his feet for a moment before adding, "I'm sorry."

Kurama's eyebrows rose. He hadn't been expecting an apology. Or breakfast in bed, for that matter. He picked at the meal, working his way through it slowly. Hiei watched him but remained silent until Kurama had finished drinking the orange juice.

"You don't seem particularly surprised to learn that I'm a vampire," Hiei said quietly. "Why is that?"

Kurama frowned in confusion. "You don't know?" he asked. "I thought everyone around here knew. I know you haven't been here long but..."

Hiei's lips twisted into a grimace. "What do you mean, everyone around here knows?" he demanded.

"You've only just been turned, haven't you?" Kurama asked in shock. "No one's explained it to you?"

"No," Hiei snapped. He crossed his arms and gave Kurama a sour look.

The gardener didn't appreciate Hiei's tone. "Don't get angry with me," he snapped back. "I had nothing to do with it."

Hiei's expression softened. "I'm sorry," he said. "It's just... this is very strange."

Kurama settled back against the pillows and made himself comfortable. The mattress was soft and the covers warm. He hadn't slept in a bed this comfortable for a long time.

"The locals know about the bats," he said finally. "They know to avoid them. You aren't the first person this has happened to. People will leave you alone as long as you don't kill anyone. And don't flaunt what you are to tourists. Not that we get many of them here."

"What about the blood?" Hiei asked, looking uncomfortable.

"Well, you don't need to kill someone to get enough to live on," Kurama pointed out. "What you took from me earlier should be enough to keep you satisfied for a week. You'll probably have to go to the local hospital and ask for blood there. They'll give you some, no questions asked. The doctor's wife is a vampire so they're pretty sympathetic."

"How do you know all this?" Hiei asked suspiciously.

"I watch," Kurama told him bluntly.

"Yet so few people have actually met you," Hiei pointed out.

"Do you think that vampires are the only supernatural creatures around here?" A smug smirk had spread across the redhead's face and his eyes held a mischievous gleam. "What did my blood taste like to you?"

Hiei frowned thoughtfully. "Green things," he said finally. "Nature."

Kurama's smirk grew. "That's because I'm a kitsune," he informed Hiei. "Normal humans will not taste that good."

A kitsune. A Japanese fox spirit. Hiei shook his head. "A bit full of yourself, aren't you?" he muttered. "Some might consider having sweet tasting blood a bad thing."

Kurama chuckled softly. "You won't be taking my blood without my permission again," he informed Hiei. "I can forgive this time, since it was an accident. But next time you won't be so lucky."

Looking into the keen emerald gaze of the younger man, Hiei knew that there was truth in his words. He had no idea what a kitsune was capable of and he wasn't sure he wanted to find out. He was beginning to see that Kurama's pretty facade was a mask, hiding something far older and dangerous than he knew. No wonder he was possessive of the garden. How long had he been tending it?

"Are you going to just laze around in my bed all day?" he demanded, in an attempt to draw the conversation away from darker topics.

"Yes," Kurama said smugly. "I'm afraid I'm still a little tired from the blood loss." He yawned exaggeratedly, covering his mouth with his hand.

"Liar," Hiei muttered. He pushed off from the wall and took the tray from the bed. He left the room, leaving the kitsune to enjoy his relaxation. He couldn't wait to get to his office and start on his novel. He had a feeling that the words would come much easier now.