“Alright, so you hold it like this.” Yusuke raised the controller up for Hiei to see.
“This is pointless.”
“You haven’t even tried it, yet.”
Hiei quietly obliged, wrapping his fingers around the plastic, poising his thumbs over the shiny buttons just as Yusuke was.
It was raining in the human world, as it was ought to do during that time of year, but it was cool and dry at Genkai’s house. A breeze blew in through the open doors. The afternoon was quiet but for the tinny melody playing from the television and Yusuke’s instruction.
“Kuwabara’s gonna be so jealous that he missed out on your first video game,” Yusuke said with a grin. “Serves him right for lying about his date with Kurama today, huh?”
Hiei found that Yusuke spoke quieter when it was just the two of them. Without the big oaf’s instigating or Kurama’s gentle energy to rely on, the detective became somewhat softer. He regarded Hiei gently, as if he were some scared, wild creature. In many ways, he was.
Yusuke pointed at the cross-shaped button on Hiei’s controller. “So this is your control pad. You use it to make your fighter move. And these ones are you fighting buttons. You got punch, medium punch, kick, medium kick, and then these shoulder buttons up here for hard kick and hard punch. Does that all make sense?”
“What do you take me for?” Hiei asked coolly.
Yusuke snickered. “Right, I guess Kurama plays a lot of games, too. Here, I’ll walk you through the characters.”
Hiei glanced down at the buttons Yusuke had pointed out. He already forgot which ones did what.
Yusuke pushed a few buttons on his controller, and the screen chirped in response. “I’m playing Ryu because he’s a bad ass and he kinda fights like me. You might like Dhalsim because he’s got fire attacks. Ooh! Or this dude right here,” Yusuke’s character disappeared from the screen as he maneuvered his character selection box over to a angry, green man. “He looks kinda like you, right? All green and mad.”
“Hmp. You think I would pick a fighter strictly based on appearance?”
“Gimme a break, man, everyone does it.”
“Which one’s the most powerful?”
Hiei glanced over at Yusuke’s face. He didn’t look pensive so much as exasperated, yet he held that goodnatured grin.
“I mean, it really depends on your play-style, which you don’t have yet. Honestly, Genkai and Kuwabara are better at explaining this kind of stuff. Here, gimme you controller? Why don’t you pick…. This one.” With a press of a button, a blond man's face appeared on screen. “He’s pretty straight-forward, so you’ll probably pick up on him fast.”
“Seems logical. Do we start now?”
“Ready to get it over with, huh?” Yusuke settled down into an alert sitting position and his character reappeared onscreen. “Alright, I’m hitting start. Don’t go kicking my ass outta nowhere, now. Otherwise we’ll have a real fight!”
While Hiei didn’t fully comprehend the instructions given to him by Yusuke, he found that he desperately wanted to do well. It wasn’t necessarily his pride that made him feel that way, though. It was something else, something foreign.
The countdown on screen reached 1, and Yusuke’s character sprang to life, darting back and forth on the screen. Hiei experimentally pressed a button. Ken leapt into the air! Up for jumping, that made sense. He tapped the directional pad to the right, and the fighter backed away from Ryu.
“Why don’t you try taking a swing at me, big shot?”
“In the game?”
Yusuke snorted. “Yes, in the game! Please do not swing at me in Genkai’s house. She'd beat our asses."
Hiei studied the smaller circle buttons under his right thumb. He liked the looks of the blue one. Ken threw a jab. So realistic!
“Good! Try coming at me with that,” Yusuke said.
Hiei tapped the directional pad. Ken backed away again. He could feel Yusuke’s eyes on his fingers.
The detective leaned forward. “No, you gotta move toward me. Pretend the directional pad’s on the screen and press the button that’s closest to where I’m standing. There you go, you got it!”
Hiei felt a stir of... something. He was doing it! He made Ken stop moving right on top of Ryu and pressed the punch button again. Ryu let out a grunt as Ken’s fist connected with his torso!
“Yeah! Now try the kick button.”
“Which is that?”
Yusuke leaned into Hiei’s space to point. His scent was all cigarette smoke. “Either of these ones.”
Ken landed a solid high-kick on Ryu!
“There we go, you’re getting it!”
He was, wasn’t he? Ryu backed away, and Ken stepped forward to strike again, but was just out of range!
“You can move and hit at the same time.”
Hiei glanced down at his controller. He could? He hastily tried the move out, and Ken doubled over, thrusting a ball of energy with a cry, "Hadouken!" Yusuke whooped and sent Ryu soaring over it.
“Oh, trying some advanced moves on me, huh?” He launched Ryu across the screen, walloping Ken over and over. “Well, we’re running out of time for this match, so I guess it’s time to sink or swim!” All Hiei could do was frantically mash buttons.
From the start, he and Yusuke’s friendship was on Hiei’s terms. It just was. Sitting with him like this on a rainy afternoon partaking in a human activity felt more like Hiei was stepping into some other country, even if he hadn’t gone anywhere. Wasn’t this droll? This human pastime, wasn’t it beneath him?
Yusuke flashed a winning smile at him just as Ken fainted from defeat. “Gotcha! Well, I'm satisfied." He set down his controller, leaning back on his elbows. "You don't have to keep playing if you don't want to.”
Hiei averted his eyes. Maybe he was softer, too, when it was just the two of them.
“These droll human games are nothing. Again.”