Soooooo last chapter was alright, I've had this one in my head for a while. Enjoy!


Hiei,

I have errands to run

today after school. Please

take good care of Ms. Kunazaki

for me. I know you will.

;)

~Kurama


Hiei perched on the roof like a bird, staring up into the fathomless blue sky. He was rather angry with the fox at the moment, mostly for the note he'd been left that morning.

'I have errands to run today after school,' it had said. 'Please take good care of Miss Kunazaki for me. I know you will.' A little winky was scrawled at the bottom of the page.

Hiei snorted at the thought of the note. Take CARE of her? What was he, her keeper? And what was with the winky face? Just what was he insinuating there? Hiei lay down on the roof, all his anger subsiding as he stared at the wispy white cotton ball clouds. He closed his eyes and involuntarily saw Mariko's eyes staring back at him in his mind's eye. He put his palms to his eyes, as if trying to rub the vision away. She was just a human—why was he so damn fascinated with her?

She was mysterious in a way, not accessible to him. Which was odd, because she seemed open enough, she laughed and chatted with anyone willing to chat back. Now that he knew her, she annoyed him. He wished she would just go away. What was the mystery that had kept him so intrigued?

Her voice. Hiei sat up. Of course. It was her voice. For those two and a half months, he had never heard her speak, not once. Never had he imagined she'd have a voice, never even fathomed that she might be social. And that voice of hers, lower register than most girls he knew, was what he'd been baited by. And he didn't want to admit it, but her voice was keeping him interested. He almost wanted to strike up a conversation, just to hear her speak...

Hiei shook his head—it was all nonsense. He didn't even care...did he?


Mariko sat staring at the book in her hands. Shuichi had been nice enough to bring her a stack of books from his bookshelves, and normally she would've been taken into them right away. But today she was distracted.

She sighed and stretched out, letting her mind wander away from the bed she was confined to, away from her painfully blistered and burnt legs.

She wondered about the old couple who had lived in the house with her. Luckily, they had been on vacation, but what would happen when they came home to find their home burnt to ashes and their tenant nowhere to be seen? She wished she had money to send them. But since she couldn't get out of bed, she couldn't work. Of course, her boss understood, or so he said. Shuichi was bringing her all of her homework and things from the school—he was so thoughtful, a truly sweet guy.

What had he said that morning? Was it that Hiei was going to be caring for her today? She smiled wryly. She hadn't even seen the guy since yesterday. Was he even still in town? He certainly wasn't doing a very good job of caring for her, if that was what he was truly supposed to be doing. But she didn't care. She didn't mind being left alone. She'd been surrounded by friends of the boys almost non-stop since she'd awakened—the girls had even brought her clothes. They had stopped coming yesterday, but that was fine with her. She liked books better than people anyway. They were so much easier to understand, and they never changed or cancelled plans. She had managed to put on the social butterfly act for Shuichi and his friends, but now that she was alone she was comfortable again. She had never received stars on her report cards for playing well with others. Maybe she really would move to France, where everybody assumes she doesn't speak French and would leave her alone.

She frowned at the ceiling as her thoughts involuntarily turned back to Hiei. She remembered seeing his crimson eyes staring at her from the flames that night, and her body remembered his hands on her, taking her to safety. She wondered where the runt was…


Kurama walked through the front door, humming a tune he couldn't recall the name of. Perhaps he'd heard it on the train? He looked around at the quiet house, and realized that nobody in the neighborhood would even know he had two people living with him unless he told them. He knew that Mariko was a quiet person by nature, more likely to befriend people made of paper and ink than of flesh and blood. And Hiei…..Well, he was a different story completely.

"I'm home!" He called to the quiet house. There was no reply from Hiei, but he heard a 'Hello!' from Mariko. He walked up the stairs and knocked on her door.

"Come in!" He heard her say. He opened the door and saw her sitting up with a book in her lap, smiling at him through her messy bangs.

"I see you had an eventful day," he said, reffering to the pile of books on her left that appeared to have been read.

"Yeah, I've always been a fast reader," she replied, closing the book in her hands. "What's that?"

"Hmm? Oh, this?" He held up the bag in his hand. "I stopped by the remains of your old room and salvaged what I could. I hope you don't mind." He handed her the bag and smiled at the look of shock as she realized his hands were streaked with soot and charcoal.

"Y-You really didn't have to do that!" She said, taking it from him slowly.

"I thought it was the decent thing to do. Don't want the things that survived to go and rot, now do we? They were pretty lucky, the owners. Your room was the only thing damaged."

She nodded numbly as she stared at the bag, obviously not ready to open it. Kurama looked out the window to Hiei, who was sitting in the tree outside her window. Once a stalker, always a stalker, he thought to him pointedly. Hiei glared at him and he had to suppress a laugh.

"Shuichi?"

"Yes?" He said, a bit of whimsical laughter in his voice. When he saw the look on Mariko's face, he stopped.

"The Yamaharas...have they come back from their trip? I mean, the nice old people who live there?"

"Yes, I had a chat with them. Lovely people, so generous! They almost forced me to stay for dinner, but I insisted on coming home to care for you." he said. Mariko sighed and put her head down on the bag. After a second, he saw her begin to visibly shake. "Miss Kunazaki?"

She mumbled something that he didn't quite catch, even with his sensitive hearing.

"I'm sorry, you'll have to speak up."

She sighed again and sat up. "I said, are they mad at me?"

"What? Of course not! They were really worried about you, actually. They were glad I came by and told them you were okay. They knew the fire was an accident, but no one in the neighborhood could tell them what had happened to you." Kurama reassured her. "In fact, they're coming by tomorrow to visit you!"

Her smile brightened considerably, and Kurama could tell she genuinely liked this old couple. Not that he could blame her, they were wonderful people - - so full of life and so generous. He was looking forward to seeing them again tomorrow. He looked back out the window to where Hiei had been, and wasn't surprised to see that he'd dissappeared. He was so predictable.


Yay! New chapter! I think this is pretty darn good, especially because I wrote most of it a month or so ago before this major writer's block hit me...

Please review! I need to know what you think!