Waking Up

Yusuke's POV

I wake up slowly, the sunlight streaming in from the window a constant call more effective than the loudest alarm clock, forcing me unwillingly back into the conscious world. But I don't want to get up from this beautiful dream, the world in which Kurama is mine and not Hiei's, and I'm not just a desperate resort when the koorime's away and the kit gets too lonely.

Don't get me wrong, I don't blame Kurama for any of this. It's not his fault that he doesn't love me, or that I'm practically forcing myself upon him in my need to have a piece, a small part of the kitsune for even a short time. I get to be with him for a little while, and that's enough for me . . . most of the time.

My eyes flicker open and I find my vision veiled by a curtain of red, softer than a silk pillow and smelling of roses and jasmine. For a moment I simply let my eyes drift shut again as I breathe in the tantalizing scent that my fox gives off like a pheromone. My arms are not wrapped around the cotton pillow that usually stands in as a pathetic substitute for Kurama in the mornings but a creamy, soft waist that feels as though my arms were molded to fit around it.

I take in another breath, a slow grin coming to my lips as the still sleeping kitsune lets out a contented sigh and snuggles closer to me.

Gods Kurama, how do you manage to be completely irresistible even while you're unconscious?

Pulling back from the soft cushion of the fox's hair I lean on one elbow to take in the image of the sleeping demon, knowing perfectly well that the chances of my being awake again while he still slumbers are slim to none.

My first thought as I gaze down at his peaceful face is of an old myth I heard who knows where years ago. The story tells how all demons were really once angels, banished from heaven. All of the other angels were supposedly jealous of their dangerous power and beauty. I scoffed it back then, thinking it just a dumb story.

Looking at my resting demon right now makes me wonder if the tale could be true after all. The morning sunlight shines off of Kurama's pale skin, making it seem to glow with an unearthly beauty, and his face holds nothing but a look of the purest contentment. Full lips part to murmur something intelligible and his thick lashes flutter as closed jade eyes move in a dream.

He is the epitome of perfection.

And, as every human, I feel compelled to disturb the flawless moment by waking the redheaded beauty I can proudly proclaim for the moment to be mine. Eve knew that Eden couldn't possibly last forever, and she'd just been brave enough a chick to decide to end it on her own terms. Just like Eve I'm about to shatter my tiny piece of heaven by waking the kitsune and forcing him to make a decision about the situation we've just found ourselves in.

Time to bite the apple.

"Hey, kit."

The murmur is enough to rouse the kitsune, who's almond shaped eyes slowly flicker open and then shut again against the same sunlight that had bothered me. His mouth opens in a cat-like yawn and his entire body arches into a long, sinuous stretch that has my body heat with new desire. After a long moment his eyes flicker open again and he smiles drowsily up at me.

"Morning." I think my heart stops. Yeah, he's an angel alright. That breathtaking, unearthly smile . . . how could anyone be on the receiving end of one of those and not instantly fall in love with him?

And right now, for the second, at least, Kurama's truly happy to see me. The thought's a sad one, 'cause I know from experience it won't last long.

I lean down over him and give him a soft and yearning kiss, one that he begins to return hungrily before he pauses and pulls away, moaning as his waking mind slowly begins to recall what he's doing and who he's not doing it with.

His eyes shut tightly again as though by not seeing what he's doing it could be made less real, and he pulls himself to the other side of the bed, taking the sheet to cover him, like I hadn't seen it all already.

It's painful to watch, but also kind of fascinating from a detached point of view. Every morning after he gets like this, but every time I come back for him he still can't manage to turn me away. Four months since Hiei had been gone, and even now the promise of his return is making the kitsune die inside slowly even as I make him more alive.

What is it about Hiei that causes such constant guilt to plague the kitsune at the betrayal? A betrayal that is hemmed into the very core of his nature from what I understand- once he did these kinds of things without so much as a second thought. So what's so special about that one fire demon?

"I love him." The words are spoken so suddenly after my thought that I think that Kurama must have read my mind somehow. He looks over to me slowly and suddenly the sorrow in his eyes isn't fascinating anymore. It's not a mystery for me to solve and fix, it's my friend, and my one and only love, even if I'm not his. As though to accentuate my point, Kurama's trembling voice comes again.

"I love Hiei, Yusuke . . . Inari . . . I-"

"I'm sorry." My sudden apology surprises even me, and the tear-filled eyes meet mine in wary confusion. To my annoyance I find that stupid tears are starting to blur my vision as well. "I'm sorry, kit."

I never wanted this to happen any more than he did. I don't keep coming to him because I choose to, but the feel of Kurama is worse than any drug I've ever had experience with. He loves Hiei and I'm the stupid home-wrecker who Kurama's ashamed of even as he gives in to my less than subtle advances.

How many times have I told myself that I've got to stop coming here? Hiei's a friend too, after all, no matter what we might say to each other's faces. I'm not doing this to try to hurt him, or to hurt Kurama- gods, never Kurama-but despite how often I tell myself to stop at least once a week I find myself climbing the trellis outside the fox's window. And he can't meet my eyes even as we begin to kiss, only giving himself over to me completely after he's too lost in lust to care about anything but a release. Then morning comes and this starts. He tells me it has to be over, I agree, and we part ways. Only hours later I'm lusting after him again and Kurama's tormented by what he's done until the loneliness overcomes his guilt.

It's a sick, twisted cycle, but one we've found no way to break out of. The only thing I can think of that will end this would be Hiei's return, if he was telling the truth about coming back at all. I guess four months isn't such a long time for a nearly immortal demon like Hiei; he probably doesn't even realize what he's doing to the ones of us stuck with fly-sized human lifespans. So someday if the koorime comes back Kurama will happily return to the one he loves, leaving me with absolutely nothing but wonderful memories to drown my sorrows.

I can't decide which fate is worse.

Kurama is still watching me in with wide, wary eyes as I begin to sob at the idea of how bleak my future has become, and I realize that this is actually the first time that I've shown him any kind of regret at what's going on. Usually I wait until I'm home or at least a good way down the street to cry. Cursing softly I try to fight back the tears. Did Kurama actually think I enjoy needing him so desperately while knowing he'd just as soon lie in the arms of some stranger to find comfort? Knowing that I was a default, a backup for the "perfect" Hiei who didn't even bother a day's visit in months to the waiting redhead? That he didn't really care for me at all?

Tentatively, the kitsune reaches out to wipe away a tear, as though that'll do any good against the torrent pouring down my cheeks, and I grudgingly retract my last thought. Kurama does care about me. We've been friends for years and saved each other's lives too often to count. You could even go so far as to say he loves me, though of course only as a friend. That's part of what's tearing us apart so badly: we're slowly destroying not just a pretty face or a nameless body, but people we've cared about for years.

"Yusuke, don't..."

"I hate you, you know that?" Once again my mouth has taken on a will of its own, and I'm crying too hard to even think about stopping it. I glare at the blurry image of Kurama through my tears. "Why do you have to be so perfect and sweet and beautiful all the time?" It's kind of a weird way to insult someone, but everything about this situation is weird, so that doesn't bother me.

It seems to bother Kurama though, who pulls back his hand quickly, troubled eyes creasing in self-loathing.

"Why do you have to make me feel like I can't live without you?" No, bad mouth, now it was going into restricted territory. I know Kurama loves Hiei just like Kurama knows I love him... but I'm not supposed to say it. I can't, I sound so pathetic, like I'm begging for something. Like I'm begging for him to love me back.

"Yusuke, that's not-"

"Don't say it's not true. Do you see me here, with you, again? Have you seen me come crawling back here practically every other day to take whatever scrap of your affections I could get? Damn it... I hate you so much."

Kurama's crying again, silently and gracefully. Gods, he even manages to look like an angel when he's weeping. I hate him.

"I'm sorry, Yusuke." The words are completely honest, and I know that he really is. Of course he is. If he wasn't then he'd be a jerk and I could hate him in peace. Obviously now I can't. Wiping the tears from my eyes my glares softens and I murmur.

"Me too. You know I don't hate you... gods, Kurama, I l-" He cuts off my words, pressing his finger gently to my trembling lips, shaking his head.

"Please, don't." I shut my eyes tightly and nod, ordering the stupid things to get dry. I shouldn't have cried in front of him. I can't let him know how much he's hurting me. Eventually the welling eyes give up when I don't allow the tears an escape, and I slowly crack them open. Kurama's still looking at me solemnly and repeats,

"Don't."

I realize that he's not just telling me not to speak the words, and I can't bring myself to nod again. Gods, Kurama of all people should understand that someone can't just turn their emotions on and off like that. If I could wake up one morning and think 'Alright, Yusuke, today let's be in love with Keiko like everyone says to' then I'd do it in a heartbeat and leave Kurama to his waiting.

Setting his jaw Kurama says firmly,

"We can't let this happen again, alright? I can't, not when I love-"

This time it's mine turn to cut him off.

"Don't."

I understand, he doesn't have to repeat it every five seconds like a prayer... or a desperate plea for forgiveness. It hurts enough just to see it in his eyes. He looks troubled so, forcing a grin that I can't even hope to feel, I nod.

"I know, kit. This won't happen again."

He gives me an unsure smile, and I stand, retrieving the pieces of my school uniform from where it lies scattered around the floor. In half a minute I'm dressed and heading out the window again, refusing to look back at the angel on the bed and forcing my legs to move down the familiar path of the trellis.

We're back into the same old routine. A few of the lines may have changed, but it's still the same script. Unless Hiei shows up suddenly in the next few days I'm going to be back; I can feel my kitsune pulling at me with each step I move away.

I'll either be trapped in a relationship with someone who would rather be with someone else, or abandoned and denied the touch of the kit forever, forced to watch him happy with another.

And I still can't decide which fate is worse.

End