It all began on a quiet day like most others in Genkai’s temple where most of Team Urameshi would gather to reconvene after the week’s events and enjoy time among those who knew their struggles. Away from the city, the unsuspecting humans who knew not of the demons that walked amongst them, and the chaos of the Makai — it was easy to be at home and at peace. Laughing and talking about everything from school to embarrassing moments from tournaments or detective cases, the living area of the temple was filled with noise and cheer. Everyone seated at the low table, its surface covered with drinks and snacks of varying tastes. Genkai perched upon a cushion at the head of the table and sipping her tea as Yukina recounted a story to Kurama, Kuwabara, and Yuusuke’s delight. It was one of the recent happenings in the temple where one of the shōji had been broken by someone falling through it. Half-expecting it to be a cute story about his fated love’s clumsiness, Kuwabara was hanging off Yukina’s every word with a dopey expression that earned him one too many eye rolls from Yuusuke and Kurama.
“We had just waxed the floors and he was eager to get to the door,” Yukina said, either oblivious to or blatantly ignoring Kuwabara’s love-stricken gaze, stifling a giggle behind a hand covering her mouth. “I forgot to tell him and next thing I knew, he went sliding across the floor and fell through.”
Kuwabara chuckled dazedly, “Yeah. That’s funny, Yuki— wait.”
Yuusuke leaned back to catch Kurama’s eye and motioned with his fingers, flicking them up one by one and quietly mouthing, “1. 2. 3.”
“What do you mean, he?!” Kuwabara blurted out, whipping his head to look at Genkai then Yukina. “Wait, was it the shrimp?!”
Yukina looked to Kurama and tilted her head, “Shrimp?”
“It’s a nickname he has for Hiei, he doesn’t particularly like it though.”
Understanding bloomed in Yukina’s eyes at the same time as slight indignation, unbeknownst to Kuwabara who huffed and folded his arms across his chest seeming both haughty and amused at the same time.
“A shrimp is a shrimp, Kurama, it’s just the facts.”
“Kazuma-san,” Yukina snapped, the coldness in her voice enough to give even Genkai the need to pause. “Please refrain from calling Hiei such things, especially in front of him.”
Kurama almost felt bad for Kuwabara. He looked as if he’d been slapped by Yukina and although that would likely never be the case, it did put a bit of a spin on things. However, her reaction was curious. Kuwabara and Hiei squabbling was nothing new to Team Urameshi, in fact they often did so in front of Yukina to her chagrin. He could understand her not wanting to see aggression between people she valued as friends. Though why now of all times? Glancing away, he caught Yuusuke’s eye and at the former detective’s raised brow, could offer no answer. Both content to sit back and watch as Kuwabara folded in on himself like a scolded child, head bowed beneath Yukina’s irate glare.
“What’s the big deal anyway, he calls me names too. It’s a thing we’ve got goin on, Yukina, y’know between men.”
That must have been the wrong thing to say because the cup in Yukina’s hand began to grow frost around the bottom. Kurama lifting his own cup away and Yuusuke doing the same, although the latter did so with a barely-kept grin as he shifted away from Kuwabara who was in the “hot zone”. Even Genkai shifted away from the table although she did lower her cup with a sigh and a glance towards Yukina with a raised brow.
“I don’t believe he knows who you’re talking about.”
Yukina gave Kuwabara another hard stare which reminded Kurama of someone else very much before tearing her gaze away to regard Genkai with significantly less coldness. “What do you mean?”
“Hiei is a private person,” Genkai pointed out. Kurama’s eyebrow raised. So this was about Hiei?
“Surely he would have told them about something this important,” Yukina said, her coldness giving way to genuine curiosity and slight disbelief. “Although that would explain why everyone doesn’t come around as much.”
A wave of guilt swept through the other three occupants at the table. With life being as busy as it was, it was often hard to make the trek to the mountains which left Genkai and Yukina on their own very often. Shizuru often had to restrain Kuwabara to his room to make sure he studied and didn’t go gallivanting off to hang out with Yukina at a moment’s notice. While Yuusuke had quite a bit to catch up on after his time deceased and his frequent cases which impeded his studies. Kurama visited the most, though he couldn’t say it was as frequent as another of their group would have liked to come himself. With the danger averted, Kurama gently placed his cup on the table and looked over.
“So the incident with the shoji does involve Hiei but not directly?” Kurama asked, bringing Genkai and Yukina’s attention back to him.
“Yeah, you’ve got us in suspense now, what’s the big secret?” Yuusuke piped up, noisily sipping at his tea and earning a glare from Genkai.
“Well, it’s a good thing you’re already sitting,” Genkai grumbled, taking another sip of her tea. “Hiei’s kid broke the paper on my door.”
For a moment, it was silent. No one aside from Genkai and Yukina dared to move, the latter giggling quietly at the memory and the former sipping her tea without pause at the heavyweight she dropped in the room. Kurama was the first to recover and tilted his head to one side, eyebrow raised.
Yuusuke was the second, his eyes wide and one hand slamming on the table. “Hiei’s what?!” He shouted, which spurred Kuwabara from his trance-like state.
“You’re telling me the shrimp had a baby with someone?!”
While the thought of Hiei procreating never occurred to Kurama exactly , the idea of him doing so with another person was unpleasant to say the least. Questions began to fill the air heedlessly through Yuusuke and Kuwabara’s concerns and curiosities alike. Kurama filing the information away and resisting the urge to glare at the two to silence them. Odd, it wasn’t often that he felt this irritated. Though without all of the facts, it was pointless to be angry. Composing himself with another sip of his tea, he glanced up and caught Genkai’s eye, the old psychic raising a brow at him to which he smiled softly then turned to Yukina.
“So who is this child?”
Warding off Kuwabara and Yuusuke’s questions with a flustered face, Yukina seemed to breathe easier with Kurama’s calm and smiled gratefully as the field of questions died down in favor of listening to her answer of his.
“Hiei called him ‘Haku’, although sometimes he calls him ‘Kōhaku’ when he’s done something bad,” Yukina said. “Haku’s very sensitive about Hiei and doesn’t like bad things to be said about him or toward him. For instance, he saw Touya-san and Hiei in an argument and Touya-san said something harmless but a bit… cold. Haku still won’t talk to him nicely.”
Well, that was news to Kurama. He knew that the Ice Master and Hiei had a complicated relationship due to the events of the Dark Tournament and later on the Demon World Tournament, though he hadn’t expected the pair to actually hold a conversation outside of coming to blows. Or for that conversation to be overheard by a child who held an importance to Hiei. Though that raised more questions. Where did the child come from? Was Hiei often around enough to be considered a parent for them? Was the child Hiei’s by blood or was it by circumstance? Trying to find the opportune way to ask and sate this need to know , it slowly dawned on Kurama that Hiei had been by often. The two of them sharing meals after Kurama was off from work, talking about the going-ons in the Makai and Kurama’s daily life in turn, but never what Hiei was doing when he was away. True, he mentioned his patrol work or the politics that came from being Mukuro’s right hand but never anything about a child.
Or a family.
Or a life built with someone else.
It was uncomfortable. This feeling taking root in his heart but just as quickly as it sprouted, it was watered as the sound of shuffling feet from behind the fushuma silenced everyone at the table. The door sliding open and a young child, perhaps no older than the age of six, stood in the doorway while rubbing his eyes. A mass of dark hair skewed from sleep framed a cherubic face, dark eyes blearily gazing at the table’s occupants, tanned skin with rounded ears, blunt nails and teeth ( seen as he yawned loudly ) and a plain white t-shirt over beige pajama pants printed with kittens — with all intents and purposes, he looked human .
While Kuwabara and Yuusuke stared, Kurama put on his best smile as the child glanced around the table taking in each person before his gaze landed on Yukina. With slow and swaying steps, he stumbled around the table, seemingly unaware of Genkai as she patted his back on his way to deposit himself unceremoniously in Yukina’s lap. Kurama, seated beside Yukina, had an up close view to just how small and cuddly he looked. His hair was messy but thick, stopping shortly after his shoulder blades, a few marks and scars on his arms and his cheeks, but nonetheless he looked like a normal child. Yukina set down her cup and wrapped her arm around his shoulders, shifting him slightly so he was sitting up though he leant to rest his head against her chest.
To her credit, Genkai kept a straight face. “Aren’t you forgetting something, Haku?”
Lazily, Haku opened his eyes and pressed his lips together in a firm line, stretching out as best as he could without breaking Yukina’s hold then relaxing with a sigh.
“Haku,” Yukina gently prodded, nudging his shoulder to his chagrin as he mumbled in protest. “We have visitors.”
Haku opened his eyes a little and sniffed, shifting to sit up and rub at his eyes before he glanced around, his head bobbing as he tried to wake up.
“Papa,” Haku mumbled, half-closing his eyes before opening them again.
“He’s not here today, Haku,” Yukina said gently, running her fingers through his hair.
Haku pouted, tilting his head back to look at Yukina. “How many more times do I have to sleep before he comes back?”
Kuwabara let out a noise that sounded like a half-choked shriek which startled everyone at the table but Haku who seemed to be half-dozing while waiting for Yukina’s response. Long since knowing his love for cute things, Kuwabara seemed over the moon while Yuusuke eased him down with a hand to his shoulder. Kurama smiled faintly. It was cute. Although the bead of concern returned. How often was Hiei away? It was clear how close this child felt to him to call him something like ‘Papa’. Though it was a word that Kurama would have never associated with the fire demon, he was beginning to imagine and the thought was far too cute.
Yukina seemed grateful for Haku’s presence as his being there deterred Yuusuke and Kuwabara from pelting her with questions but she also seemed happy. And he seemed at home here, as if he’d been here for some time. A little family made between Genkai, Yukina, Hiei, and his child. Kurama wasn’t sure how to process it. This twisting feeling in his chest as Kuwabara fawned over him, Genkai spared him little smiles and Yukina talked to him quietly about when Hiei would be returning. This wasn’t contempt, he wasn’t jealous of a child, but the very nature of his existence was an unknown. Something that had been out of his sight for so long. It was damning. He knew that Hiei had his secrets, that despite their closeness, he wasn’t privy to all of them and neither was the fire demon privy to all of his doings. Though this was different.
After the fall of the barrier and Hiei’s ability to traverse the worlds was no longer impeded, his relationship with Yukina strengthened and they actually seemed like siblings. There were arguments. Moments where neither side would speak and a melancholy could be felt despite their silence. Yet after each one, they came together stronger again. Like two halves of one whole. And it warmed Kurama’s heart to see Hiei embrace his sister’s affections despite the pain the past held. Though, where did that leave them? Though he resigned himself to continuing his human life until his family had no need for Minamino Shuuichi, at his core, he was still Kurama. Even if it seemed as though he picked one side, did Hiei see it as him forsaking their partnership? Closing himself off to the fire demon?
Was that why he sought the help of Genkai and Yukina?
Excluded Kurama from this part of his life?
He knew he shouldn’t have felt hurt. It wasn’t only him after all who had been left “out of the loop”, but the feeling couldn’t be helped. Kurama couldn’t help but wonder if he knew about him at al. Did he know that Hiei was his partner? And for that matter, did Hiei find love in another enough to have a child of his own. What was the story there?
“Hey Kurama?” Yuusuke interjected, his voice close and Kurama blinked up at him startled, unsure of when he had come so close to stand beside him or touched his shoulder. “Head outside with me right fast, feel like getting some air.”
Glancing around the table, Kurama hadn’t noticed Yukina had left and Haku was nowhere to be seen or Kuwabara for that matter. Genkai sat at the table with her elbows propped up and her chin resting on bridged fingers, her gaze sliding to him then away as she shut her eyes. Kurama sighed and set down his tea cup, slowly rising.
“Of course, lead the way.”
Yuusuke nodded and headed to the entrance hall of the temple, slipping on his shoes and sliding open the door as Kurama followed with a glance spared down at the shoes left there. Of course there were Yukina’s, Genkai’s, and then a smaller pair. Foolish as it might have been, he thought he might have dreamt it all up in that one moment but it was real.
Kurama looked up at Yuusuke who stood in the doorway with his hands tucked in his pockets, a mixture of concern and curiosity in his eyes as he inclined his head to motion for him to follow. With a sigh, Kurama conceded and stepped out, letting the door shut behind him. In the fresh air and warmth of the sun beneath the boughs of the forest surrounding Genkai’s temple, nature soothed the jagged edges of Kurama’s agitation and his worry. Yuusuke remained quiet for awhile, taking to wandering the grounds with Kurama in tow. A safe distance away from the temple in a clearing with flowers blooming amidst the grass, Yuusuke stopped and glanced back.
Kurama stared at the tree tops, his eyes glazed over and unseeing as he came to a stop a few paces behind Yuusuke. The former detective’s eyebrows furrowed as he turned around to face him and tried to gauge how to say this.
How else are you supposed to bring up to one of your friends that his closest partner might be stepping out on him?
Though, he had to ask himself whether or not Kurama and Hiei had that sort of relationship. They were certainly close and worked together with a teamwork unlike any other he’d ever seen but there was a difference between battlefield closeness and domestic closeness. And if the mood from earlier meant anything, Hiei must have achieved the latter and Kurama either wasn’t aware or wasn’t part of it. Yuusuke wasn’t sure which stung worse for him to think about and he didn’t want to imagine what was going on in Kurama’s head.
“So, Hiei’s a dad,” Yuusuke points out, shifting from one foot to the other.
The look Kurama levels him with is flat and he hates that he started this off with stating the obvious but at least Kurama was looking at him now.
“It seems as such, I never took him as one who would like children,” Kurama said, detached as his voice might have been, there was a hint of bitterness somewhere in those words.
Yuusuke nodded in agreement nonetheless. The idea of Hiei being a stereotypical dad was unnerving to say the least. He wondered what kind of kid Haku was, and what kind of parent Hiei had been, but neither of those thoughts were important right now. To him or Kurama it seemed. There’s a hard look in Kurama’s eyes and it makes Yuusuke feel small almost, as if he’d done something wrong though he knew nothing about Hiei taking a trip into fatherhood.
“Well, guess he’s full of surprises still,” Yuusuke joked weakly.
Yuusuke sighed, eyes narrowing and eyebrows raising. “It’s alright to feel hurt, you know.”
“You and Hiei are close, and he definitely wouldn’t have told me or Kuwabara about this, but you? He tells you everything.”
A look crossed Kurama’s face and Yuusuke immediately regretted his words, the hurt in those green eyes made him want to apologize and he wasn’t even the focus of the conversation. As quick as it came, the look was gone and Kurama looked away from him.
“Not anymore, it seems.”
Yuusuke wasn’t sure what to say to that. Sure, Hiei had never been forthcoming with him but he never held back with Kurama from the looks of it. This might have been the fire demon’s usual in his eyes but to Kurama, it might have been something entirely other . A breach of trust, maybe. But definitely not their norm.
“I hadn’t realized how far Hiei might have grown from me, I did desire this, to see him live rather than just survive but…” Kurama trailed off as he turned to face Yuusuke, a soft smile gracing his lips though it didn’t reach his eyes. His eyes were a darker shade of green, dull almost, forlorn. “It hadn’t occurred to me that upon making my decision, Hiei had also made his.”
“”It doesn’t have to be like that,” Yuusuke said. “If you talked to him, you guys could get to the bottom of this like you do everything else.”
“If he didn’t come to talk to me before, why would he talk to me about this now?”
For that, Yuusuke didn’t have an answer and looking at Kurama like this was tugging at his heart strings something uncomfortable. Nature filled the silence for them and the walk back to Genkai’s temple was with a solemness of a situation still unresolved. Yet as they passed through the treeline, one of the doors to the temple opened and Kuwabara came flying out to skid across the grass and dirt on his back. Kurama and Yuusuke side-stepped the oncoming human bullet, looking at one another then at the doorway as a dark figure walked up and stood with his hands tucked the pockets of his cloak.
Crimson eyes slowly opened and gauged Yuusuke and Kurama’s faces before centering on Kuwabara’s twitching form with contempt. Yukina’s loud cry of “brother” from behind snapped Yuusuke out of his stupor as the clouds rolled away from overhead, relinquishing the shadows that covered his face.
“Hiei?!” Yuusuke shouted, his voice dying as he glanced at Kurama who seemed transfixed on Hiei. The same could be said for the fire demon who refused to look away from Kurama or even acknowledge Yukina’s scolding or Yuusuke’s outburst.
It was as if the world had stopped for them and they were having a conversation by just staring at one another. Then by shutting his eyes, Hiei ended the conversation and turned away. Yuusuke could pinpoint the exact moment Kurama’s face fell but was quickly guarded as he regained his composure. This was insane. One too many bombshells in one day. From Hiei having a kid to this fledgling idea he had of what Kurama might be feeling for the fire demon to —
“Bring the oaf with you,” Hiei said, his voice cutting clean through Yuusuke’s thoughts and the stillness. “We need to talk.”
With that, he disappeared inside and Yuusuke glanced towards Kurama. His breath hitched. The look of determination in those green eyes almost reminded him of the Youko.