Whooo, It's been a while. He's a long chapter.


"The strong bond of friendship is not always a balanced equation; friendship is not always about giving and taking in equal shares. Instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when."

~ Simon Sinek


It was April and he was now required to enter elementary school since he had turned six years old last December.

He wasn't exactly pleased.

(He simply had to hold out till his tenth year in the human realm. Then he could return.)

His hair did not match the yellow of his new uniform jacket and he didn't want to deal with human children all day. He glanced down at the sticky hand clutching his ungodly bright jacket. He already had to deal with his little human brother at home. He didn't want to deal with twenty of them in a classroom along with a teacher who would treat him like the child he technically was.

His sour attitude, of course, did not prevent his mother from excitedly taking pictures in the living room and on their way to Namimori elementary school. She apparently found it adorable.

The moment Kurama stepped onto the campus at Namimori elementary he knew he would hate it. Or more accurately, he would hate the children he would have to interact with on a regular basis. He tried to keep a smile on his face for his mother's sake, but he knew it must have been strained.

He kept their goodbyes to a minimum. Allowing his mother to cling to him briefly and take a couple more pictures before trying to go to the seat the teacher was directly him too. Tsunayoshi, as usual, didn't take well to the idea of separation and started bawling. No amount of platitudes and baby talk from their mother would convince the boy to stop.

He very nearly simply walked away and ignored the issue, but…

(The bandages were gone, but the scars remained. As attention turned to them over his human brother's antics, he could see the whispered comments and glances.)

He let out a soft sigh.

"Tsuna." Watery brown eyes blinked up at him. "I'll come home."

"Pomis?" He held up a sticky pinky and sniffed loudly.

"Promise." Kurama enunciated the word and tapped his own pinky briefly against Tsunayoshi's.

He was able to slide into his seat right before the teacher started corralling the other children still lingering among their mother's skirts.

Kurama expected a lot of things out of this whole affair. He expected frustration, annoyance, persistent little human children, and general shame that he had to put up with the indignity of human childhood. What he didn't expect, was the human child sitting next to him. The boy was average looking for a human, but there was something about his eyes or maybe the way he held himself that put him at odds with the other children.

There was something feral, animalistic, and almost demonic about the boy.

He had heard of some demons creating some offspring with humans. Perhaps this boy was a descendent of such a coupling? He would likely never know unless the boy activated his demonic blood in some way.

Perhaps the boy was nothing more than a normal human and Kurama was simply deluded by his own boredom.

Regardless, it was fun to tease the other boy.

Interrupting and ducking away from the fight the other boy obviously wanted through a variety of means was an amusing distraction from the mundane human lifestyle. It brought back some fond memories of his younger days. Slipping between cracks and teasing frustrated opponents with his sly trickery.

(Kuronue also loved that sort of dynamic. The trickery and the taunting. Teasing one's prey into a false sense of security before striking the killing blow. Yomi, on the other hand, never understood. It was one of their many disagreements. He reveled in crushing his opponents with brute force rather than wit and strategy. He had always been strong, so he didn't truly understand the need for such trickery. It was his undoing in the end.)

Not that he planned on killing this human child. There wasn't much point in such an action and he didn't want to draw attention to himself. Instead, he teased and taunted for his own amusement.

When the boy tried to corner him at recess, Kurama would cling to the skirts of the teacher. When the boy arrived early to try and corner him before school, he hid away in the branches of a tree until it was almost time for class. He led him on a merry chase through the neighborhood after school, before slipping out of sight and heading home, untouched. When the violent little human looked like he was about ready to just give up, Kurama would toss a smirk his way and ignite the fire once more.

It was fun for a little while, anyway.

(The human was getting closer and closer to following him home and he didn't want to have to deal with the aftermath if the violent little human managed to get it in his head to attack his human family. Not only that but as the days past he could almost see something burning in the boy's eyes. Something different, something powerful. A spark that was very close to becoming flames. If he truly was a descendent of a demon and he activated his demonic powers, then Kurama didn't want to be there when the Spirit Realm intervened to investigate.)

He told himself that he was getting bored and he allowed the boy to corner him. It harder than he expected to shift and curl around the blows to minimize the damage as much as possible.

(Another frustrating aspect of being a human child.)

But, he did what he could and strove to push himself further in training his body as well as attempting to train his demonic powers. The boy walked away, undoubtedly feeling superior and Kurama fell into a routine of ignoring the boy. If his attention turned to him once more, Kurama would put on his best subservient face until he moved onto a different target.

It was embarrassing and frankly a little frustrating to act weak, but he didn't want to draw attention. He didn't want the Spirit Realm to come calling should Kurama accidentally get a possible demon decedent to activate his powers through sheer irritation over trying to fight an elusive opponent. That would be even more embarrassing.

So, he bowed his head. He put on a mask, his own little play for the humans.

Shuichi Sawada quiet and reserved. He didn't hang out with the other kids because he was shy. A mama's boy, the adults whispered with fond smiles playing at their lips. A sissy who didn't like fighting, the boys at his school sneered. Dreamy and sweet, the girls whispered behind their hands with their cheeks tinged red.

The only way he allowed himself to stand out was through his intelligent.

(He could pretend to be weak, but he refused to be seen as a fool.)

It was frustrating. He seethed at the sheer insult of the whole situation.

But, he didn't leave.

When he had the chance, on his tenth year in the human realm, he decided to stay.

(For a long time, he refused to acknowledge why. Why would he, Yoko Kurama, make such a foolish decision. Why would he stay with the humans he despised. But, in the end, he knew why. He knew and he couldn't deny it any longer.)

It wasn't as difficult to continue his act after that. Faking smiles for the world was not hard, not when he could come home and smile more genuinely.

(Home. It was a strange thing to think about for someone who had wandered from place to place his whole life. Yet, somehow that normal house, in a normal human neighborhood, with human's who welcomed him and called him family. Yes, that had become home.)

Time passed slowly.

While there were a few strange characters here and there, very little happened in Namimori. He had to put a few minor demons in their place here and there. But, most of his days were spent smiling and politely edging out of conversations with the humans.

"Shuichi-nii?"

(It was admittedly boring.)

Kurama tilted his head and sniped a rose from the bush with practiced hands. His garden was truly a wonder to behold. The neighbor women chatted endlessly about it. Begging him for advice and promising to pay him if he helped with their own yards.

(Incredibly mundane.)

"Shuichi-nii…" He glanced back at the pouting eleven-year-old. "You promised."

A small smile touched his lips.

"I suppose I did."

(And yet…)

He twirled the rose in his hand idly for a moment, the boy was practically bouncing on his feet with impatience. He hid a smirk behind the soft red petals.

"Well, we should head over to the park then, before it gets too dark."

(He chose this. He made this decision on the night of his tenth birthday. He could have left. Could be back to his old self. And yet…)

"Be careful dears!" His mother called from the kitchen as they passed by. "And don't be late for dinner!"

"We'll be fine mother." He called back as he put on his shoes and was practically dragged out the door by Tsuna.

He took the smaller boys hand in his own and led them down the road at a moderate pace. Tsuna skipped beside him, chattering away about one thing or another. Kurama let him ramble as his own thoughts drifted.

There had been another disappearance today. A high school girl. Left a friends house and never made it home. She was the third. The first two were a couple. Last seen walking home from dinner at the Yamamoto Sushi restaurant. No bodies had been found and most of the residents of Namimori weren't all that worried.

(But Kurama had felt a change in the air. Something was wrong.)

He stretched out his senses, noting the higher level of demonic energy in the air.

"Is middle school scary?"

Kurama blinked and glanced down at the boy. "Where did this come from?"

Tsuna blinked and glanced away. "W-well, there's a girl in my class who has a brother in middle school too. He's in his second year. She said that he got beaten up the other day."

Kurama suppressed a grimace.

(He had little doubt over who was behind that incident. Hibari was bad in elementary, but now that they had entered middle school the boy had become vicious. Like a beast testing the limits of his new territory. Thus far, no one had the guts to stop him.)

"I just...I was worried that you'd get hurt too."

He almost didn't catch the soft comment while lost in his own musings over the violent human. A soft smile touched his lips and he ruffled the boy's hair gently before taking his hand once more.

"Your big brother is stronger than he looks. So, don't fret, ok?" He tilted his head to the side and offered a sly smile. "I'll take care of any trouble."

Tsuna giggled. "I believe you."

(There was a touch of orange to those brown eyes and that uncanny understanding. It was fascinating really.)

Kurama nodded and they continued on toward the park.

They had barely entered the park before he felt it. As he watched Tsuna dart towards the playground equipment there was a flash of rage and a gust of wind as his opponent threw themselves toward him. He reacted on instinct. The rose he had slipped into his pocket before they left the house changed in an instant and curled itself around his assailant's neck.

(He had trained and trained after that vile incident several years ago. He refused to freeze like that again in the face of danger whether human or supernatural. Though mostly hidden beneath her clothing, he knew the scar from that day remained. The day his mother nearly threw her life away to save his.)

The demons sword pointed at his chest, but they both knew that Kurama had the upper hand in this situation. His expression didn't change when the demon let out a hoarse laugh. He merely tightened his whip as a warning.

(He was curious; however, as to why a more powerful demon like this was lingering in the human realm. Worry nagged at the back of his mind at the threat it presented to his family.)

Neither moved for a long moment. Slowly, deliberately, the demon looked down at the weapon that held him captive. Kurama winced internally.

(He had moved instinctively and used his most prized weapon. A weapon that was rather distinctive. He should have used a blade of grass instead…)

"So, the great Yoko Kurama has lowered himself to not only a human body but also working for Yatsude?"

Kurama raised an eyebrow.

"Yatsude?"

He had heard of the demon. He made sure to keep up with the current events in the supernatural world as much as he could when his informants were weak spirits and demons he crushed into submission. What he had heard of the demon was not pretty. If he was in town…

Kurama frown.

"I do not work for or with him. Tell me, is he here? In Namimori?"

When the demon didn't answer immediately he tightened the whip in warning until the demon finally coughed out an answer.

"Yes...he is here...I've been tracking him waiting for a chance to attack then I sensed your demonic energy."

"And you thought I was allied with him."

He took the scowl he received as a yes. He hummed thoughtfully and glanced toward the playground equipment. Tsuna was still playing happily, unaware of what was going on.

If this Yatsude character was in town…

(His mind flashed to the missing people.)

He narrowed his eyes and slowly released the other demon.

"Well, if he is in town then we have a common enemy." He stepped back, still tense for another attack. "What's your name?"

The demon lowered his sword just as warily and reached up to rub at the sluggishly bleeding pinpricks circling his neck.

"Hiei." He grunted.

Kurama nodded. He had heard of him as well. "As you've already guessed, my name is Kurama. What can you tell me about Yatsude? I know very little, but perhaps we can work together…"

"I work alone." The demon snapped and disappeared as suddenly as he came.

Kurama tilted his head. "Well, that was rude and here I thought we were starting to get along."

"Nii-san?" Tsuna was a few feet away, his head tilted to the side. "Who were you talking to?"

He smiled at the boys. "Just the wind Tsuna. Don't worry about it."

Kurama watched Tsuna play for a little while longer before they headed home for dinner. He answered questions and chatted with his family almost on autopilot while his thoughts remained distant. His family seemed to notice his inattention and didn't seem surprised we he retired to bed early. Instead of going to sleep; however, he sat by his window deep in thought.

From what he knew about Yatsude he wasn't the most powerful demon that could have stumbled into town. A lower level C rank who had a penchant for devouring the weak. Unfortunately for him, that's just what he was right now. Kurama leaned forward, eyes roving sightlessly over his moonlit garden as his fingers tapped thoughtfully at the window sill. He had trained more after the incident with his mother, but he wasn't sure if he could take out a C rank demon, and likely his minions, by himself.

(He would need to gather more information and plan very carefully.)

His mind drifted to the other powerful demon in town.

Kurama had heard a little more about the bandit Hiei, likely because he didn't make a habit of killing weaker opponents unless they had truly wronged him. Unlike a certain eight armed demon. However, what he had heard about the demon's violence and cunning didn't do much to soothe his worry.

(Very little could soothe his worry with an A rank demon in his town, close to his family.)

He paused and his fingers stilled.

A rank.

The demon Kurama had threatened with his rose whip today, did not feel like an A rank demon. Kurama knew all too well what that power felt like. Not only that, but the barrier would have prevented him from moving between the demon and human realm.

No...the demon he met today was no an A rank demon. Which meant one of three things, either his informants were wrong or lying, the demon he met today wasn't the true Hiei, or something happened to the demon.

(There were several missing pieces to this puzzle and he was not very fond of not having the answers.)

However, there was little he could do to get the answers he wanted immediately.

"Nii-san?"

Kurama sighed. "Come in Tsuna. What's the matter?"

His opened the door slowly and shuffled awkwardly in the doorway for a moment.

"Mom started coughing again and went to bed early. She looked really pale."

Kurama nodded thoughtfully. "She may have caught a small illness. I'm sure some rest and cough medicine will help."

"Hm." Tsuna nodded, but he didn't move out of the doorway.

"Was there something else?" Kurama glanced over the nervous boy.

"Um," He paused. "You just seemed worried over something. I thought, maybe, you could tell me and, um, maybe you'd worry less?"

Kurama turned to fully face his brother, a soft smile tugging at his lips. "Why do you think I'd worry less?"

Tsuna chewed on his lips briefly before answer. "Well...I always feel better when I talk to you about my worries."

"Is that so?" Kurama chuckled. "Well, I wouldn't worry too much about my worrying Tsuna. I'm just trying to solve a puzzle, but I'll figure it out."

"Alone?" Tsuna asked.

Kurama blinked. "Excuse me?"

Tsuna blinked as well as if he was even confused over his sudden question.

"Ah, well, um." He ducked his head and shuffled his feet. "Nevermind. Um, forget I said anything. Good luck with your puzzle!"

With that said, the boy stumbled out of the room without a glance back.

"Ah…" Kurama shook his head as he turned back to the window.

His little brother was strange sometimes. Another puzzle he was still trying to piece together.

(That presence…)

Kurama tensed and jumped away from the window, with a flick of his wrist a blade of grass turned into a sword. However, the demon did not hurl his way through the glass to attack as Kurama half expected. Instead, he opened the window gently and eased his way into the room, his red eyes darting about before landing on Kurama.

"I didn't come here to…" Hiei cursed softly as he stumbled.

Blood splashed across the floor.

The demon sway once, twice, then crumpled to the ground leaving Kurama standing there awkwardly with sword still in hand.

"Ah, that's going to be hard to clean out of the carpet."

Despite his confusion, he wasted no time dragging the demon onto his bed and removing his shirt and jacket to assess his injury. The claw marks extended from Hiei's right shoulder to his left hip. However, it wasn't the length of them that worried Kurama. No, they were deep.

"I'm surprised you made it here." He said softly as he tended to the wounds with his meager supplies of demon realm remedies.

He was also surprised the demon knew where he lived. Surprised and concerned.

(If Hiei knew...then perhaps Yatsude knew as well. If so…)

Kurama scowled and extended his senses as he dabbed at the remained blood with an old towel. Nothing.

(Yet.)

While he hadn't sensed anything outside his home, he found himself eyeing the demon thoughtfully. Was that? He wiped off his own bloodied hands and reached slowly for the headband on the demon's forehead.

A Jagan Eye blinks lazily up at him, pupil cloudy and unfocused. The shape and color didn't match the demon's other two eyes and as he looked closer he noticed that the skin around it was still tinged the light pink of a slowly healing incision. He replaced the cloth and leaned back with a sigh.

(He supposed that explain how the demon found this place...and perhaps why he wasn't the rank Kurama had expected. A procedure like that would undoubtedly cause side effects.)

"Yukina."

He blinked and glanced down at his unexpected patient, expecting him to be stirring. He wasn't. He was still fast asleep. Though his dreams didn't appear to be pleasant. The demon's face was twisted in both pain and sorrow.

(Like Tsuna when he had a nightmare.)

Kurama shook his head and got to his feet. He hesitated for a moment before picking up a small tin from his desk. With practiced hands, he plucked a small amount of the contents and sprinkled the dust over the demon's face.

At once all signs of distress faded and his breaths evened out into a steady rhythm.

"If you led Yatsude to my home, I swear I will kill you." He murmured as he settled down on the opposite wall from his bed to keep watch for the night. "But, for now. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt."

The night passed quickly without any more unexpected visitors.

"Tsu-kun, Shu-kun! It's time to get up for school!" His mother called up the stairs.

"Yes, mother!" He called back as he began to dress.

School was an annoyance at the best of times, but it was even worse today. Kurama leaned his chin on his hand and stared vacantly out the window as the teacher droned on about something or another. He tapped his other hand on the desk silently.

(As much as he wanted to find Yatsude's hideout and drive the demon far away from his home, he knew he had to be careful.)

He closed his eyes briefly when he felt the presence he was waiting for enter the school grounds.

"Sensei?" He raised his hand abruptly.

"Ah, yes, Sawada?" The teacher brought off his lecture and blinked at Kurama in surprise.

"May I use the restroom?"

"Of course." The teacher smiled slightly and gesture for him to be on his way before he continued his lecture.

Kurama slipped out of the room, ignoring the sharp glare burning into his shoulder blades.

(Hibari seemed to be in a terrible mood today. He best watch his step and keep his head down.)

He walked to the roof, his steps measured and calm to avoid any unwanted attention. No one stopped him.

"I'm glad you got my note." He greeted as soon as he stepped out onto the rooftop.

Hiei didn't reply from his spot on top of the fence. Kurama didn't say anything more for a moment as he observed the other demon. With his shirt and jacket back on, cleaned and mended by Kurama the night before, it was difficult to tell that the demon had been so injured last night.

Kurama walked closer and leaned his back against the fence.

"How are your wounds?" He asked softly. "They were pretty severe, but the remedy I used should have sealed the wound. If not I can give you some more."

"You better not expect my thanks."

Kurama tilted his head down to hid a smirk.

"Of course not."

"Hmph."

They remained silent for a moment before the other demon broke the silence.

"You left me alone...with that human. I had assumed that you cared about your human family from the way you acted around the child." The demon glanced at him. "Was I wrong?"

Kurama smiled at him pleasantly. "If you had raised a hand to her, then the demonic seeds I planted in your bloodstream would have activated and eaten you from the inside out."

Red eyes widened, and the demon's face went a few shades paler.

"Hmph." Hiei turned his head away with a scowl. "Perhaps I should have expected that from the great Yoko Kurama."

Kurama laughed softly under his breath. "Perhaps. However, if you could not call me by that name in public, I would appreciate it. I do not wish to attract attention to my current...situation."

"Alright fox," Kurama felt his eyebrow twitched. "However, while we're on the subject how did you come to find yourself in a human body and...caring for them?"

"Who is this Yukina and why did you undergo a procedure to get a Jagan eye?" Kurama replied.

He got a nasty glare in response. Kurama smiled blandly.

"Equivalent exchange. Don't ask questions if you are unwilling and answer mine."

"Tch."

"In any case, we have more pressing matters than a few personal questions. I take it you confronted Yatsude last night? Did you win?"

The demon growled lowly and muttered through gritted teeth. "No."

Kurama nodded. "I thought not. Well, since you're healed do you have a plan of attack?"

"Who needs a plan." Hiei folded his arms across his chest. "Now that I'm healed I'll go back and finish the job."

"And get injured again and crawl back to my house to bleed on my floor some more," Kurama replied dryly. "If you shed another drop of blood on my carpet I'll charge you for the cleaning cost."

"At least I'll be doing something!" The demon snapped, his eyes flashing furiously. "While you just sit and plan like a coward as more and more of your precious humans are devoured."

"Herbivore, I will bite you to death for skipping class."

Both their heads snapped to the door they hadn't heard open. Kurama bit back a scowl.

(So much for laying low.)

He glanced to his side.

(Well at least Hiei managed to dash away before this bloodthirsty human decided to pick a fight with him. Kurama did not want to deal with that.)

Kurama took his punishment without complaint and watched as Hibari strutted away once the deed was done. Kurama stood with little trouble after the boy left. Not even bruised from the encounter. He had a lot of potential but his overconfidence and ego made him blind.

He spent the rest of the school day lost in thought. Thinking. Planning. Worrying.

He had planned to ask Hiei where Yatsude was hiding out. Perhaps he could observe the place and plant some traps.

"Sawada-san?" He glanced at his nervous classmate. "Um, school is over, are you going home now? M-maybe we could walk home toge-"

"I apologize I lost track of time." Kurama cut her off. "I'll be going now."

He pretended not to see the girls disappointed expression as he walked out of school to retrieve his brother from the elementary school. Kurama was distantly aware of his popularity among the females of Namimori middle, but it was something he tried valiantly to ignore.

Tsuna greeted him promptly at the gates of his school. "You look tired."

"Hm, I had a...restless night," Kurama replied.

(Taking care of an injured demon, then having to clean up after him all while waiting tensely for a possible surprise attack. Restless hardly covered it.)

"Oh ok." Tsuna's hand slipped into his own. "You can take a nap when we get home. I'll tell mama to make you some calming tea."

Kurama chuckled. "Thank you, Tsuna. A nap does sound nice."

They were about to enter the house when Kurama caught felt a familiar presence. He paused making Tsuna glance at him, before smoothly opening the door.

"You know it rude to enter a person's room without permission," Kurama spoke as soon as he closed his bedroom door a tray of tea and crackers in one hand.

Hiei didn't even glance away from his scrutinizing of the succulent and cactus pots sitting on Kurama's desk. Kurama raised an eyebrow at the scratch marks on the demon's hands.

(The demon really was quick. His defenses were designed to devour the hands of the unfortunate fools who got a little too curious.)

"It's even ruder to try and go through a person's things in said room."

"You have a… volatile defense system." The demon admitted grudgingly.

"Of course," Kurama replied mildly. "Now I don't imagine you came here to chat. Did you re-think rushing head first into another losing battle?"

"Tch." The demon turned his head away sharply. "Do you have a plan? Or are you still hesitating?"

"If by hesitating, you mean working through the possible outcomes…"

"No, I mean hesitating."

"I'm being careful…."

"Coward."

Kurama frowned and set the trey down on his desk. "Well, I suppose we're at an impasse here."

The demon grunted and marched over to the window. He didn't leave; however, simply stared silently as the evening light cast a golden glow over the scenery. Kurama sighed.

"Perhaps a compromise is in order."

Red eyes turned to him and Kurama continued calmly.

"Show me where he is hiding and we can work out a strategy for defeating him…"

"I won't waste another day Fox…"

"...and then attack tonight."

The demon narrowed his eyes before nodding once.

"Alright, let me grab some supplies then."

Kurama turned to his drawers and dug out some demonic plants he thought might be useful. He'd prefer to have a better idea about the layout and opponents and be able to pick his weapons accordingly, but he also knew they'd have a better chance at winning if they worked together.

(Hiei had a point. Kurama was hesitating. He had grown accustomed to his quiet life with the Sawada's. Nothing unexpected happened.)

Kurama paused.

(His blood was singing with anticipation.)

"Well, are you done? Let's go."

Kurama chuckled. "Yes...you're right we should go."

Hiei led him to an abandoned amusement park outside of town.

"My mother took my brother and I here when we were younger." Kurama glanced around in the rapidly growing darkness of the evening. "I didn't realize it had closed."

The demon turned tilted his head to the side and gave Kurama an unreadable look. Kurama raised his eyebrow in response, but Hiei merely shook his head and darted off. Kurama followed him, keeping an eye out for hostile demons. The demon finally stopped and crouch down on a tree branch.

"He's been hiding in that building." He pointed the large building across from them. "I don't see him though. He must be out hunting."

Kurama eyed the building, remembering vaguely that it contained a theater. "Alright, how many allies does he have."

"None, now."

He nodded. "Then perhaps we can set up an ambush for when he returns…"

Kurama trailed off and both their heads snapped to the entrance of the amusement park where Yatsude had appeared. Two children in hand.

Two very familiar children.

"Tsuna." Kurama breathed, his body automatically moving.

(No. No. Why was he here? He should be safe at home. Protected by Kurama's carefully planned defenses.)

A hand yanked him back, restraining him from leaping to his brother rescue. Kurama's whip around, his eyes narrowed in a glare and a silent snarl on his lips. The other demon's express didn't change, his red eyes firm.

"You are the one insisting on a plan. Two silly little humans shouldn't change that."

"One of those 'silly humans' is my brother." Kurama spat. "I won't let that monster eat him."

Hiei blinked slowly. "Then don't."

(He knew that he could break the demon's hold on him. If he truly wanted to he could dive at Yatsude and Hiei wouldn't be able to stop him. Yet…)

He sucked in a sharp breathe and nodded.

"Alright, I have an idea."

Tsuna was crying.

He could hear the stifled sobs as he walked down the hallway. He clenched his teeth but didn't rush forward like he desperately wanted too. Instead, he walked calmly towards the door to the theater room, allowing his movement to carry the noise of his arrival.

Kurama opened the door with little flare and glanced around the room in disinterest.

"Shuichi-nii!" Tsuna was pinned to the floor by one hand. Cuts and bruises marred the skin of his face and arms but didn't seem seriously hurt. "I'm sorry. I was worried when I saw you left and I followed you...I…"

The boy broke off into a sob.

Kurama allowed his eyes to drift away from the boy, his face carefully blank. He cast a glance to the other boy, held aloft by another hand. Suspended right above Yatsude's open mouth. The other boy looked worse for wear, though Kurama wasn't surprised by that. Hibari was a fighter.

Yatsude, for his part, paused his meal at the audacity of Kurama's entrance.

"I had heard that there was another powerful demon in my town."

Yatsude moved Hibari away as his lips curved into an bemused grin.

"And who might you be?"

"Yoko Kurama."

The laughter was expected.

(It was understandable even, but it still prickled his pride.)

"You?" The demon cackled with glee and tossed his captives away so that he could lean down and peer at Kurama's face. He forced himself not to look where his brother was tossed. Forced himself to ignore the cry of fear that was abruptly cut off. "I can sense demonic energy on ya, but there's no way you're Yoko Kurama. You're too weak!"

Hiei appeared behind the demon in a flash, sword raised.

Yatsude didn't even look behind him as he swiped the smaller demon out of the air and threw him through a wall. Kurama held back a wince and tensed as the demon refocused his attention on him.

"It seems you have a pest problem." Kurama continued conversationally. He stepped lightly to the left and continued around the demon with slow, even steps. He kept his movements loose and unassuming. "I had the same issue when I first claimed my territory. All the little nuisances via for power."

Yatsude followed his movements, arms moving restlessly as if he wanted to wring Kurama's neck, but was holding himself back. He was curious. That was good.

"I still don't believe ya." The demon chuckled.

"That's understandable. I hid my power well." Kurama smiled coldly. "I was hunted by the Special Defense Forces, you know. They thought they killed me. I took great pains to make sure they were never dissuaded of that notion."

"You use a lot of big words." The demon muttered, his perpetual smile dropping slightly.

Kurama hummed lowly. "Only as a distraction."

Yatsude only a split second to process those words before the vines sprouted at his feet wrapping around his arms and pinning him in place.

(It was too easy. The demon hadn't even noticed Kurama dropping the seeds as he circled him.)

Kurama shook his head. "He's all yours Hiei."

The red-eyed demon's step out of the rumble of the ruined wall he was thrown through with a scowl on his face.

"I do not like this plan."

"We wouldn't have had to use it if you had succeeded in cutting his head off the first time."

Hiei sneered but turned back to Yatsude.

"Did you eat an Ice Apparition?"

Kurama glanced at the short demon sharply, his curiosity sparked, but didn't say a word. He only directed his vines to tighten when Yatsude cursed in response instead of answering.

"If I did I would have torn you fucking shits to death by now," Yatsude growled struggling against the vines even as they bit into his skin drawing lines of blood. "I still will though. I'll rip you pathetic bastards to pieces, then, then, I'll eat those humans too. I'll eat 'em slowly. Make 'em scream prettily. They aren't females, but they're young enough to taste swee-"

Kurama didn't let him finish.

He felt a sneer cross his lips as blood splattered across him.

(This was why he liked his whip better. He could kill at a greater distance than a sword would allow preventing the mess he would now have to wash out of his hair and clothes.)

"Hmph." Hiei rolled his eyes. "This wasn't even a fight."

Kurama surprised even himself with his own laughter. the red-eyed demons glanced at him, startled by the sound. He ran his hand through his blood dampened hair and sighed.

"No, it really wasn't, was it?"

(It was disappointing.)

Hiei didn't respond, simpled eyed him silently. His expression unreadable for a moment, before it cleared in some form of understanding. Kurama wondered vaguely what the demon thought he knew about him, but didn't push the issue by asking.

(The humming in his blood, the excitement for a fight, had faded leaving him tired and annoyed. AS much as he feared his families injury or death, he couldn't help his nature as a demon. He longed for a fight. A true battle of both power and wits.)

"Well, regardless you have to get your brat home." Hiei's bland tone cut through his thoughts and Kurama shook the disappointment off.

(This was his choice. He had the chance to leave, but he didn't. It was foolish to regret such things now.)

"Yes," Kurama straightened and wiped the blood on his hands onto his pants.

Tsuna was sleeping quietly where Hiei had placed him, after catching both him and Hibari when Yatsude had tossed them aside. His brother was only slightly bruised from his horrifying encounter. Kurama watched him for a moment, taking in the peaceful expression before he carefully picked the boy up and set a brisk pace out of the dilapidated building.

(The fact that Hibari was nowhere to be seen didn't surprise Kurama much. The boy was resilient if nothing else.)

Hiei walked with him silently as they slowly made their way back to civilization. Both of them lost in their own thoughts.

It was only when they were nearing Kurama's home that Hiei spoke.

"Pollen of the Flower of Forgetfulness?"

"It's for the best." Kurama murmured. "It was a traumatizing experience for Tsuna."

"Keeps your identity hidden as well." Red eyes glanced at the boy passed out on Kurama's back. He saw a faint glow from beneath the cloth. "Though there is no telling for how long. His spiritual awareness has been activated. No amount of pollen will reverse that. Not to mention the other brat slipped away. I can still catch him, you know."

Kurama sighed. "No, thank you, I'll figure it out."

"Hm."

He smiled blandly at the doubt in the other demon's tone. Up ahead Kurama could see his house come into view. He was mildly surprised that Hiei had followed him this far. He had assumed he'd be gone as soon as the fight was over.

Kurama glanced at the other demon.

(He was a surprising good ally.)

"Why don't you come over for dinner sometime?"

"Not a chance."

Kurama laughed as the demon darted off into the night.

(Somehow, he knew he'd be back.)

(And that thought made his blood sing with excitement.)


Ok, that took a little longer than expected. I was struggling hardcore with the fight scene. I had a hard time trying to puzzle through how I wanted the fight to go without it being a rehash of canon. It ended up, not being much of a fight in the end. lol. Kurama is too clever for his own good.

So, yeah, I ended up making quite a few changes compared to the original manga/anime ova. Some of it was just to fit with previous drabbles for this fic, but also I adore writing Kurama and Hiei conversations, so I included more of those. Their banter gives me life.

BTW, if you haven't seen the new ova yet, I highly recommend it. It's what inspired me to finally start working on this chapter again (and to rewatch the yyh series. lol).