“But, okay, Kurama,” Yusuke slurred, the bottle in his hand coming dangerously close to tipping as he leaned back, stretching his arms so that his elbows were resting on the back of the leather couch. “Immunna ask the question, and we've all been thinking it so just shut up and answer: what the fucks up with the hair?”
There was a choking noise followed by laughter – Hiei absolutely cackling in the corner as he tried not to fall off of his perch. He'd been having considerable trouble for quite some time (approximately five minutes after he'd accepted the detective's challenge of masculinity despite the kitsune's warning and downing an entire bottle of the translucent stuff in one go). The sheer absurdity of the sight had sent Kuwabara into a fit of giggles, of course, once the initial shock had subsided. It was an unimaginable picture, the two of them sitting opposite each other, the ginger on the edge of the couch next to Urameshi and Hiei on his stool caddy corner to the kitsune's armchair, laughing as if they'd shared a joke no one else had gotten.
Kurama's face was rapidly changing from blank and expecting to severely pissed, his lower lip gaining a significant presence on his face and his eyebrows knitting together. He didn't even hesitate in kicking one of the legs of Hiei's stool out from under him, sending the fire demon gracelessly toward the floor with a startled noise, cutting off his glee. That only incented Kuwabara all the more, his finger jutting out as he pointed, his other hand clutching his side from the effort it took. Yusuke, on the other hand, managed to stay composed, his face focused (or as focused as it could be while the world was swirling) on his question.
“Really, Yusuke, you have no tact.” Even when clearly impaired, Kurama still had a way of speaking above the rest of them. Yusuke smacked his lips, giving the other a half grin but trying to keep his face serious.
“Nope!” Kurama shifted, crossing his arms and sinking into his chair. “Hey, we get it, it's a statement, but what the hell are you tryin' to say man?”
Hiei had stood and was staring down at the redhead as if debating how best to kill him. Kurama wasn't in the least bit bothered by this, not even looking at the fire demon as he pointed behind him at a displaced kitchen chair. Though his face was disturbed, Hiei maneuvered around the other and fetched it, bringing it up on the other side of his armchair as if that would dissuade him from kicking again.
“Yes Kurama, why don't you enlighten us?” He sneered, holding back a laugh as he tried to sound frightening. The redhead in turn debated seeing how many chips from the bowl on the table he could get into Hiei's hair without him noticing, but refrained as eyes were still on him.
“I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you.”
“Wait,” Kuwabara suddenly chimed in, the clouds behind his eyes clearing for a second. “I thought that was just a demon thing.” Hiei scoffed, capturing their attention. He'd somehow managed to find another bottle, and though he wasn't actively drinking the others were beginning to wonder about his tolerance.
“Heh. Does my head constantly look like it's on fire?” He sneered. The reaction he received was not what he expected, nor what he wanted.
“Yes,” the two on the couch said in unison, their eyes straying to his flame shaped cut. The bottle went flying, shattering against the back wall as the two dodged with a sloppy motion. Kurama smirked at that, but Hiei was not about to let him get away with the distraction.
“Give it up,” he said, knowing that they'd be sure to push all the harder now. “He won't tell me. He certainly won't tell the likes of you.”
“Oh yeah, because you're so close!” Kuwabara snapped, finding a new reason to turn on the fire demon. “Seriously, what's up with that?”
“I just like him more than you.” Hiei grinned, watching as the ginger grew inflamed at his words.
“He just kicked you!”
“Oh. Right.” And they were all back to staring at the somehow ephemeral redhead, mulling over their best methods of attack.
Either noticing that the other had no plans on speaking, or just being easily distracted due to the drink, Kuwabara chimed in again.
“But really, I'm jealous of you guys sometimes. I want what you have, you know... just with a girl.” This time Yusuke choked, having been about to swallow another mouthful of cheap beer and not expecting, well, whatever that had been. He was holding back a series of giggles as he spoke, losing his cool and having trouble regaining it.
“Yeah, but you've gotta get one first, like Kurama got Hiei. There's no point in being jealous if she hasn't gotten got.” Even Yusuke sounded confused by his own words, but shook it off.
“Who's got?” Hiei said, a bit more loudly than was necessary. “I'm not got.”
“Uh-huh. We all know it Hiei: you can stop pretending.” Yusuke was back on Kurama, leaning forward this time and taking a handful of chips before speaking. “Is that what it's all about? The hair I mean?”
Kurama only gaped at him.
“Jeez, Urameshi, it's not something as stupid as that.” Kuwabara made a face, then looked at the redhead sheepishly. “I mean, it's not stupid or anything.”
“I'm not got!” Everyone was contented to ignore this, only making Hiei all the more agitated and somewhat confused.
“Why don't we talk about your penchant for green instead?” Kurama shot back, taking a swig of his drink, something darker and far more refined than what the human side was working on. Yusuke did grin at that, but wasn't fazed, his focus steadier.
“You know I don't know what that means. This is more fun anyway.” He mimicked the kitsune, drinking a bit more. “What's the big secret anyway?”
“You're being awfully defensive,” Kuwabara agreed, his drunken tone coming off slightly condescending and only serving to irritate the demons.
In that moment, Kurama seriously doubted his sanity in deciding that drinking with the others was a good idea. He'd really only agreed because it was the first time Hiei hadn't outright turned down their invitation and he'd been curious as to why that was (or what information he could gain from it). Now, he wasn't entirely sure that the whole thing hadn't been a plan concocted by the three of them to get some quality teasing in, and he certainly wasn't appreciative. Not in the least.
“I just don't understand why you're so interested, is all.” He'd thought diverting the question would buy him more time, but it was another failed attempt. His continual drinking wasn't particularly helpful, either, but it numbed his pride somewhat. That's what he told himself, anyway.
“Call it human curiosity. What gives?” The detective had met his eye, showing that no matter how ridiculous the question, he wasn't about to back down. Kurama stared back for as long as he could manage before sighing, long and breathy, running a hand through the item in question.
“It's really not all that mysterious. My standards for beauty aren't the same as yours, and I looked more like this when I was a demon than I do with short hair. It's familiar and comfortable. That's all there is to it.” While Kuwabara seemed satisfied with his answer, an immediate booing response came from Yusuke, followed by the clinking of his glass against the edge of the table in front of him.
“We ain't talking about the length here, but nice try. For an evil mastermind you really suck at this.” Kurama openly pouted, wounded.
“I'm not an evil mastermind.”
“You were, once.” Hiei muttered under his breath. The humans had forgotten about him since his outburst; apparently in the time between he'd managed to get himself another bottle of the strong stuff, though neither or them were sure if he had just moved too quickly for their eyes or if they'd just been too preoccupied to notice.
“Come on, man, you're just being stubborn. Why don't you want to tell us?” Yusuke was beginning to get frustrated, but is was nothing compared to the kitsune, apparently.
“Because it's embarrassing!” He shouted, immediately realizing what he'd done and clamping his hand over his mouth. Kuwabara stopped laughing immediately, Hiei raised an eyebrow at the outburst, but Yusuke managed to stay completely calm.
“More embarrassing than Hiei falling off his stool?”
The commotion that followed lasted for a good ten minutes.
The question was not forgotten, not by a long shot, but it was certainly sidetracked when a loud thud sounded and Kuwabara landed with his head against the floor. Kurama was perfectly happy to leave him to Yusuke, watching from his comfortable position as the detective tried to maneuver the bigger teen over his shoulder and bring him to bed. Kuwabara had only been mostly out of it and insisted at fighting every step of the way, but they had to give him some credit for keeping up with three demons for as long as he had. The struggling continued well into the hallway, where another bang was heard, and with a mischievous grin Kurama assumed that the larger of the two had met with the ground again.
He'd been ignoring the way Hiei was staring at him since the ruckus had died down, as if he were some kind of bird of prey scouting out his next meal. In all honesty, Kurama wasn't sure if he was looking forward to the next question or dreading it, his feelings a bit mixed up with aged whiskey and something a bit like hopefulness. Perhaps it was just curiosity, at what would transpire after they'd all sobered up, now that the other's had chimed in. Then there was the part of him that really didn't care, the somewhat hazy fuck-all feeling that was easily relatable to his earlier Youko days.
“What did Yusuke mean by that, earlier?” No lead in, no fanfare, absolutely pure Hiei in style. The kitsune suppressed his grin, any sense of suspense vanquished by the other's straightforwardness. It was all the better- he hadn't really wanted to lead the other there and wasn't really in the best condition to do it either.
“Why, Hiei, I'm not sure what you're talking about. You'll have to be more specific.” The fire demon glared at him, clearly not wanting to play the fox's games. The other, on the contrary, seemed quite content.
“You know what. About us.”
“Oh.” Kurama said simply, as if he'd actually needed the clarification. There was a pause for a drink. “He thinks we're together.”
“We are together,” Hiei said, giving him a look that said the obvious should not be restated and that he was still not understanding. Kurama didn't bother looking at him, happy to observe the other in his peripheral vision while looking nonchalant.
“He thinks we're having sex.”
“Ah.” He paused, a long stretch, “Why?”
“Because I'm irresistible, of course.” He'd meant for it to come off in a joking tone, but it ended up biter instead, damn the drink. He could have sworn Hiei hesitated before making a dissenting noise, taking another drink from his oversized bottle.
“You're plenty resistible, believe me.” The kitsune rolled his eyes, tilting his glass to and fro to circulate what little ice was left in it. With that single comment his attitude had taken a drastic turn, something he blamed entirely on the abundant supply of alcohol in his system.
“Yes, Hiei, I'm well aware that you're not attracted to me. I don't know why you take such amusement in it.” He didn't hide the fact that he was miffed, something that usually only Hiei was allowed to see, and very rarely at that. The fire demon watched him curiously as he brooded, rocking a bit without realizing that he was doing it.
“I am.” Kurama huffed, misunderstanding. Hiei almost enjoyed watching as his displeasure stewed. No, he definitely enjoyed it, but choose not to bask in it. “Attracted to you.”
By some chance, the kitsune didn't notice when Yusuke stuck his head around the corner, having been listening for quite some time but wanting to see the other's face in reaction to that. It had bee well worth it to watch the redhead blink, almost stupidly, as the words sunk in.
“Oh.” He seemed bothered by something, the way his face fell before his eyes met the fire demon's. “And you didn't think to ever mention this because?”
“It's not important.” Hiei said simply, shrugging with such strength that it almost caught him off balance.
“It's not important.” Kurama repeated, as if he wasn't sure he'd heard correctly.
“How is that not important?” The kitsune exclaimed, astounded at the other's perceived idiocy. Hiei only looked at him with incredible patronizing, coming off worse because he was in no state to be doing so.
“How is it important, Kurama?” Yusuke had sobered up considerably since earlier and it was to his great pleasure as he was able to witness one of the rare moments in which Kurama found himself dumbfounded and at a loss for words. The kitsune was absolutely floundering, his mouth opening and closing without saying anything as if language was beyond him.
“Well, it isn't unimportant,” the redhead settled on lamely, looking down into his glass with wide eyes and wondering just how far he'd strayed from his goal and what the hell was happening instead. The fire demon made an unimpressed sound, crossing his arms in front of him and looking at the other accusingly.
“Don't play games with me Kurama; you and information are a dangerous mix.” He stopped short, realizing something, and put his face in his hands. “And now you'll use that information to manipulate me.” He seemed absolutely distraught, showing the true extent of his inebriation and that, most likely, this conversation was not a part of a greater plan, as it should have been. Kurama stared before settling on being hurt by this, again making a face that Yusuke was recognizing as an adorable pout. He wondered if Kurama knew he was doing it.
“That's not very fair of you,” he started, but Hiei cut him off with a dark look.
“You will. Be honest, you will.” The kitsune bit his lip in thought, something that neither of the two watching had ever seen him do before, but very much wanted to again. It was strange how expressive he'd become in his state, enough to make them curious as to how much he held back during the rest of his time with the human mask.
“...Yes.” Kurama admitted, surprising the detective by not coming up with a witty rejoinder or a sarcastic rebuttal. Hiei only seemed more dismayed by this, cursing while Kurama recovered from his apparent shamefulness by jumping and startling the living daylights out of every soul in the room.
“Oh! Let's make it even, then. I'll tell you about my hair.”
Hiei's face changed immediately, his eyes growing wide before he leaned over, trying to get close enough to hear in case Kurama whispered. Yusuke panicked for a moment, looking around to try to find a way back into the room so he could hear without attracting their attention. It was a difficult maneuver, a stop, drop, and roll sort of sequence, but he managed to plant himself against the far wall, behind the others and out of immediate sight.
“It's a tactic, you see.” The kitsune's tone had grown serious, the way it did when he was explaining a stratagem or analyzing another fighter for weakness. “Like what a flower does. The red marks something dangerous, calls notice to it. It's noticeably different, and therefore revokes an emotional response. Though,” he admitted with clear remorse. “It was supposed to be a tint, like an added layer of shimmer over black. I don't know why it's so red.” Hiei took that in, his face completely unchanging from before.
“It's red,” he said, incredulity laced in his words. “Because you want to be pretty?”
Kurama nearly flipped the table.
“Because it's different!” He almost shouted, a cruel edge coming to aid his words. “Did you hear nothing I just said, you buffoon? It's tactical!”
“You're embarrassed because you're too pretty,” Hiei lost all semblance of control, bursting into cynical laughter that only enraged the other more. Yusuke was forced to clamp his mouth shut to keep from joining him – seeing Hiei laugh was uncommon enough, but seeing him laugh so uninhibited was priceless.
“Well,” Kurama huffed, moving to kick at Hiei's new position but this time being evaded. “I'm glad to know you think so.” The fire demon stopped laughing to growl, his ears red either from the booze or the comment, but not noticeable until now.
Seeing that there was no further progress to witness, and that the two were very likely to start tearing each other apart (physically or verbally wasn't particularly discernible), the detective took the opportunity to intervene.
“So,” Yusuke started, making the others aware of his presence in the room. They froze, having been too caught up in their conversation to notice. “Are you guys gonna go have sex?”
Yusuke watched as Kurama, in good fashion, stood up and simply left, knowing that it was beyond his abilities in his current state to win and accepting defeat with what dignity he had left. If there was any mercy in the worlds, the next morning would reveal hangovers bad enough for none off them to remember what had been discussed and save him from total humiliation.
Hiei, smirk on his face, followed.