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Chapter Text

“I thought you were with Mukuro now.”

“I am.”

Kurama turns his head, tightness in his lips concealing the emotion bubbling beneath his skin. “Then what are you doing here?”

Hiei doesn’t change his curt tone or soften the snarl in his voice when responds, “I am with her. As her second. Her ally.”

Hot anger tracks its way along Kurama’s skin, dirty and unfamiliar in its fervour. His rage is usually cold and measured, not this wild and burning heat that sears his insides into ugly ruins. Hiei’s influence is more than skin deep. “Only consorts share the same room as their ruler. After everything between us you would resort to lying?”

Hiei bares his teeth, limited patience already wearing thin. “Why would I lie to you, sneaky fox? What would I gain?”

“You’re scared. Scared to tell your past lover that you have moved on. That you've found someone who knows you in ways that they never could...that I never could.” Untamed emotion wells in Kurama as he speaks, sickening his stomach and prickling his eyes. He feels weak. For the first time standing before Hiei, he feels weak.

Hiei blurs and vanishes from his sight and before Kurama can so much as blink, small fists knot in his shirt and yank him down roughly. “Impudent fox, running your mouth again,” he snarls, points of his teeth bared in the kind of anger he only unleashes during a fight. “She is not that to me. I don’t have to justify myself to you.”

The air is thick with tension, faces only an inch apart and breaths mingling with fury and fight. Kurama wraps his hands around Hiei’s, still bunched in his shirt. With one swift movement he tears them away, causing the little demon’s claws to leave large gashes in the fabric and the skin below. The physical pain is like a balm to the anguish in his head.

Kurama lunges to him, too overcome with hurt and too far provoked to continue this conversation any longer. Hiei makes discussion a punishment with his contemptuous attitude. He manages to grasp Hiei’s upper arm before he can dash away again, digging his fingers into the hot muscle. His other arm wraps around the little demon’s body, crushing his face to torn skin, just to feel that inhuman body pressed against his once more. A sob tears past his lips as he breathes as one with his lover for the last time. This time is as limited as it is painful.

Youko never cried. Never for anyone, much less a lover. Many had come and gone like the passing of the seasons and even the departure of his favourites had never brought a tear to his eye. This kind of pain is far worse than that. Far more agonising than the loss of a lover. Hiei had been severed from him in a way that was incomplete, unfinished. The pain was only made greater when the wounds kept reopening as they each tried to tug themselves apart, bleeding together afresh. They still inhabited this same world, still conducted reflected roles. Still met each other with the same implication that this can no longer go on. This is the last time.

Hiei had managed to move on. Maybe he took a piece of Kurama when he tore himself away because Kurama is still tending his wounds, hungering for that which fate decided he could not have. The small body pressed against his own bleeding one is unyielding.

Hiei does not touch him in return.

Kurama’s hold loosens, his steel grip on Hiei’s arm leaving a purple ring around it. A marking. A claim.

One that will darken, inky and black like wine. Fading with the days to violet tainted at the edges by green. Eventually blending to the olive of his skin in yellow and brown before it disappears completely, as if it were never there to begin with.

Kurama walks away, sob locked in his throat along with all of the unspoken words that he will never say.

Chapter Text

He returns to the Ningenkai. This place is a home as much as the Makai. Both are familiar and in that is comfort as well as a curse. He chooses Ningenkai because it is easier. Crimson eyes and sharp claws and smokey skin don’t lurk in these shadows any longer. A relief as much as it is an agony.

Kurama still lives at home. A new, spacious home with sparkly renovated tiles in the bathroom and an airy bedroom to himself, all white walls and bare furniture. The room is permeated by the bitter taste of rejection, something akin to heartbreak. Perhaps it is heartbreak, his human heart feels as if it is seizing in his chest, susceptible to stop at any moment.

He allows himself a night and a day to dwell on the way Hiei felt pressed against him once more. How his skin burned so hot that it was on the edge of unbearable. The warmth that had slowly started softening the cruel glint of his eyes was gone, just as his body was unyielding.

This attachment...he’s never felt anything like it in all his centuries of life. He never had a connection with another individual in which he yearned for them, where he felt as if the presence of another made him better in turn. It haunts him that perhaps Hiei is also unable to feel this sense of soul affinity, that these past years had been all but one-sided. The scale is so large that Kurama banishes the thought from his head as to not fall into deeper despair.

The next day Kurama plasters his composure back on. He washes his hair and ties it in a ponytail, moisturises the bags beneath his eyes. Continues with his life as if he is the prodigious youth who in twelve months climbed the ladder from the kid answering the phones to a respected recruiter in his stepfather's company. A young man who already knows exactly who he is and exactly where he’s going in life. Someone who has never felt the stabbing pain of lost love and severed ties.

Pretty. Cool. Confident.

The flimsy door shudders as he pulls it closed and walks to work.

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Weeks pass by normally and turn into a month and then two. Kurama is true to form and thus remains first place in the company’s productivity reviews. He avoids his friends, unwilling to falter before them as those which provide yet another connection between him and his unreciprocated soulmate. He corresponds with the Makai but makes excuses when he is asked to come back for this or that task. He takes his mother out for lunch every Sunday to her favorite cafe.

The pain hasn’t dulled but he has the strength to bear it. Kurama is somewhat experienced with biting his cheeks and persisting, one of iron will and unfaltering durability.

He lays in his bed and wonders why it feels so empty. Hiei has never slept in this bed, a sagging double that a relative had offered. Hiei has never even been in this room yet his signature marks the air as if he breathes it.

Shuuichi feels a sepia rainbow of emotions- so deep and so painful.

Sleep doesn’t come for a few hours, mind busy with wakeful thoughts of work and errands and loved ones and demon politics. Kurama toys with his hair as he waits for the void to swamp him, letting the silky strands slip through his fingers like time.

Split. Where should his loyalty lie, with his mate or his family?

But didn’t Hiei take that decision out of his hands? Kurama is a fool to think they were committed for life. Demon life is long and difficult to snuff, but they had barely made it past three years, pitiful even by human standards. Two of those years hadn’t even been spent together, right hands to warring kings unable to mirror and interlock. At least then Kurama had peace of mind in Hiei’s constancy.

Kurama sighs and leans to a pot on his windowsill, a flourishing bloom. He picks a petal and it shudders, perhaps from the pain of losing part of itself. Regretfully, he crushes the blushing crescent between his fingers, releasing a gentle scent that he brings to his nose. Inhalation of this species dulls the senses, bringing sleep easily but he is becoming too reliant on it.

Minutes later he is fast asleep, remnants of the sedative bloom staining his fingertips violet.

Chapter Text

In the morning he’s groggy. He almost always is. The flower certainly has its drawbacks but none are worse than tackling life on no sleep.

A shower and shave later, Kurama busies himself in the kitchen with breakfast. A black coffee to counteract the stupor left over from the flower. An apple to keep the doctor away. He greets his family politely before heading back to his room to eat in privacy, preferring to not engage in small talk.

What’s next? Kurama had once believed that his only tie to the Nigenkai was his human mother, the instinctual love that he has for her. But as he grew older he also grew to love the world itself. The other humans which fate had tied him to. The culture that reflects that of his birth through a fractured mirror, nostalgic behind a lens of deja vu. The gentle flora and fauna moulded by human influence and that which flourished untouched, coexisting in worlds old and new.

He had never felt content though, some part of him always longing for the Makai, his primal roots. He felt as if he was forgetting something, perpetual and unsettling.

Until a fire demon attacked him and promptly passed out at his feet, wounded and small. Kurama took him back to his house where he tended his wounds and breathed his primal, smokey scent like oxygen. The blood that flowed from the snappy demon’s wounds was the same kind that used to flow through Youko’s veins. The inhuman point of his teeth and the aura ebbing from his taut form stoked the ways of the wild in Kurama’s core.

Suddenly he felt...well, complete wouldn’t describe it. He felt a connection, a balance. The little demon was stained with the Makai, musky and untamed. Sharp and cruel. Yet the demon was drawn to human company, drawn to the oddity that was Kurama. Their relationship was one of mutual respect and wary trust, attraction and repulsion. Like a flame, Hiei was difficult to contain. Hold him too closely and he may be snuffed, let him free and he will consume all around him. Kurama’s gentle touch had been the perfect balance to rear the little demon, to keep him in the palm of his hand.

And when Hiei left and did not return, the balance had skewed until it tipped and Kurama with it. Too demon for the human world, too human for the demon world. Belonging to both and neither without a companion to melt into the shadows with for comfort and concealment.

Shuuichi cries sometimes. But he will not today. He finishes his breakfast and brushes his teeth before walking to work.