The day? The day doesn't matter. Days run together even with that one hellish day lingering somewhere in between the endless stinging together of days. Days are just numbers on a clock, the ticks of the seconds on a clock. And months don't matter either. They're the minute hands of a clock anyway. And the year? The year doesn't matter either. This could happen at any time. Time doesn't matter unless you have plans to be made.
Or if you read the newspaper, which Hiei never did. He never had the patience to read someone else's babble when he had to listen to it come out of everyone else's mouth everyday without fail and without escape. Shigure stopped bringing it in when he complained (as he often did) that the newspaper was slowly drifting into the world of five dollar romance paperbacks-somehow meaning that the content of the paper it was extremely filthy, however that happens in the public media. (Most people just mocked him for even using a comparison like that. How does he even know?) Either way it didn't matter because the date never mattered because there was only that one landmark in time.
Also because he didn't have specific plans.
Or plans so precise they were unspecific.
Lately there's been an issue Hiei's been dealing with: Mental anguish. That's what he liked to call it anyway. It's not as though he didn't know what was going on. He'd seen it too many times in too many different shapes and forms but never exactly gone through the same passages. He also wasn't stupid enough to not know what this "mental anguish" was. He just didn't name the beast, believing that it would die if it didn't have a name.
If it grew, it would cause more anguish… Regret, jealousy… Would it even be worth a moment's euphoria?
On this particular nameless day, he walked in and saw her in bed as she often was, and the beast began to claw at his innards as it had been doing for some time now. Groaning, he turned around to walk out. He paused when he heard her shifting in her sleep, shaking herself awake. He thought he should have walked away but he stayed glued to that spot.
"When'd you walk in?" she asked, her speech slightly slurred by drunken lethargy. Her eyes were probably shifting as they often did, like a thief.
"Just now," Hiei answered meekly. "You're acting like I'm coming to kill you or something."
"No, I just woke up and suddenly you were in the room. I just wanted to know how long I was asleep and wasting your time."
"What makes you think you were wasting my time?" He turned around at this point. "Why isn't it just bad timing for me? Or that you need to do something other than sleep?"
"Well, you're waiting for me to wake up. That's plenty of time you could be using to…" She waved a hand, trying to sift up some ideas on what he would have efficiently used that time on. Chances were, she didn't even have an idea what he did during the day just as he didn't know what she normally did. Other than sleep.
He cocked a brow. "You can't sleep at night?"
"I have trouble sleeping at night. Or, lately I have."
"Because you sleep during the day."
She shrugged. "So why'd you come? Was there something you wanted this time? Something other than a chance to spar?"
"So what'd you come for?" Maybe he was imagining it, but as he looked at her face at that moment, it was something that was in between hopefulness and relief.
"Nothing. I came here on accident."
She didn't believe him and by the look on her face, he could tell she didn't. He took a mental note to figure out how to bypass her polygraph abilities, or whatever euphemism she decided was fitting. (He suddenly remembered there was some national stereotype about people in this area having the tendency to create euphemisms for everything and being extremely suspicious and humorless. Having met Mukuro, he had a feeling that she was the basis for this stereotype and that Raizen also might have brought it on. Oh focus for five seconds.) She opened her mouth- to call him out on it, most likely. Instead she stopped and accepted it. Or she didn't want to pursue the truth at this time. "Well then, I guess it was good of you to come."
He stepped back. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"…I like your company."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It can't mean what it is? Is it supposed to mean something more?"
"Why is it my company?" The beast was really clawing now. Damn it.
"Well, I know you and you know me."
He fired back, "No you don't."
"Fine, I know you well enough and you know me well enough."
"No we don't."
"It's a shame that you think so."
"What do you want it to mean, then?" She groaned when he remained silent, a blank look on his face. He sat with her face supported by her hands, studying him for a moment. He started to glance around, hoping that he wasn't looking around too wildly or being too obvious. Anything to get that damn anguish to settle down. "No, really, what do you want to hear? I mean it because we're friends, or at least I think we're friends. If you don't think so that's another shame really."
"Why are we friends?"
"Why are you asking so many questions?"
"It was a simple question, Mukuro. Just answer it."
She got up and stretched, stretching out that suspense. He noticed awkwardly that she happened to have Having done that melodramatic move, she finally answered, "I trust you. I don't trust many people, not even right now when I have no reason to feel that way. I trust you the most because… Because I know you almost as much as I do myself. You're my only friend I have right now anyway. Or the only real one… One I can call… You understand what I'm trying to say, don't you?"
He wished he didn't. "What about everyone else?"
"Everyone else is everyone else. Most people still want to stick to the master-servant relationship. I don't think it's much of a loss."
"Why not? Because you have me?"
She shrugged. "I dunno. It just is. Maybe it's still a conflict of trust. Is there a particular reason why you…?"
"Never mind." He walked out. He walked into the nearest empty room. (It took him at least three tries to strike gold. He wasn't really keeping track though.) He smacked the wall, leaving a large hole in it. Dammit, she's so pathetic. I'm so She's so damn pathetic.
He caught himself before he smacked the wall again, suddenly aware of the hole he created. Well, damn. He couldn't say he wasn't susceptible now. Why it had to be now of all times, and hell, her of all people?
He could have fleshed it out there. He could have questioned why it was an inconvenience when there were no time constraints at risk. (Seeing how he still didn't know the date and how he failed to be disturbed by this lack of knowledge shows this to be a truth.) If he did, he would have to realize that it still posed no threats to said time constraints in the present moment in its present form. He could have ruled her out. He could have dismissed the comforting air about her, that feeling of completeness, of wholeness that floated around her. Something that was so
But when you're in pain, you don't question it. You just reach for relief.
He become increasingly aware of the Hirui stone he had hanging around his neck.
He became increasingly aware of the girl waiting for the news on the other side.
Hiei walked into her room the next day. Mukuro was laying on her right side, the left and unscarred side of her face exposed. Her left arm slightly held out and slightly bent and her right arm was tucked under her body. There was something vaguely childish about how her hair fell in uneven bunches on her face and how her hand never turned it away. (She's asleep, you idiot!) Her slightly pink lips were slightly parted and her chest rose and fell and fell in the slow and steady pace of sleep. The length of her eyelashes… The curve of her brow… The shape of her nose… The curve of her jaw into her neck. The soft smoothness of her skin came to memory of that one moment of intimacy (who knows how many years, months, days ago that was) and the smaller accidental touches. Odd how it was that way even after all the chances life gave to callous her hands the way his were roughened.
Her chest gave one heavy heave. Was she stirring awake or was a sigh of a mid-dream? Her fingers curled slightly, tugging slightly at the sheets. There was something deeply pleasant about it. He walked closer, reached out to put a hand on her shoulder (For what?), then dropped it to touch her hand to feel the soft skin. He paused, mentally shaking his hand at his own foolishness. At that moment, he pulled his arm back. He still couldn't help but think of how pleasant it would be to put his hand at least her shoulder and imagine all the possibilities it could open up. How pleasant it would be to feel her soft skin. To feel her lips Even to feel her skin against
I need to stop. I'm not that damn stupid. He dropped on the bed, tried to keep himself from sighing. He heard the sound of her rolling over, and he hoped ay she was just rolling over in her sleep.
Not that he's that lucky.
"What are you doing?" Mukuro asked. He turned around and saw she was still lying down, was propped up on one arm, her hand buried in her flurry of blond hair. She had a half smile on her face. (Something about it made him feel a bit red in the face. She probably interpreted it as part of his rage, though she claimed the ability to read him like a book.) "Next thing I'll be waking up with you in bed with me. And a few days later on top of me."
Hiei started walking to the door.
"It was a joke, Hiei. Relax. I didn't think you were sensitive to that kind of thing, especially how you were raised. Nothing to go red in the face about." At least one thing worked out.
He turned around and focused on the wall that was beyond her. "I didn't realize you were into that kind of humor. It's really out of character."
"Making you uncomfortable's my job. Been doing it since day one. Don't act like it wasn't obvious that I disturbed you, even if it was just a little. Okay, maybe more than a little." She paused. "So you really wanted something this time? I mean, what are you doing here? You just stood there for the longest time."
"I was just…" He paused when he realized that she was aware of him being in the room the whole time. He gave her a questioning look.
"Well, I was about to drift off when you walked in. I thought you would leave but you just stood there. So just when I was about to drift off again you dropped yourself at the foot of the bed like you just were. You're a real bastard for not letting me sleep, you know that?"
He groaned. "Why the hell can't you sleep during the night?"
"Well, I get bored during the day because there's not much for me to do, now that I think of it. No one really needs me like they used to. It used to be that I would worry so much about Raizen's death that I wouldn't sleep most nights. I had to make sure that I was one step ahead of Yomi all the time, should Raizen suddenly drop like a fly. Then I had to worry about who would win the tournament and be the king, whether or not that was what I really wanted. Though, I don't think there was ever a time when I did know what I wanted. I kind of miss those days, even if I was completely miserable- if only to see Raizen again."
Hiei shoved his hands in his pockets to hide in clenching of them. Wait, why am I even getting mad? I'm not je Man, is she really that stupid? "Why?"
"He was an annoying idiot but I really did love the fool. I mean as a brother. I might be mistaken, though. You know it better than I do. Sibling love." She sat up, stifled a yawn with her open palm. "I suppose I envy you somewhat."
"Why would you?" His heart was starting to pound. He wished it would stop.
She shrugged. "Maybe I want someone to love or someone to love me. Whether or not I'm the giver or the recipient, it's still a selfish desire. It's something only a small child would ask for. Or most- so I'm told."
"I don't know the level of it, actually, so I know as much as you do." He shrugged. "Find something to do. What do you do at night if you can't sleep?"
"Lay around mostly. I suppose that makes me the portrait of laziness. I really wish more people had things to complain about so I have something to do. Or maybe someone should go on a murdering rampage. Even if someone were to have a revolution, I wouldn't have much of a say. All I can do is say something strong enough to get on the front-page news at the most. I'm actually shocked that we haven't worried about that yet. …You should become the king and then hijack the world so everyone can run in circles screaming. That would be some good entertainment there."
What? "Then go and try to be king again and do it yourself."
"I don't want to. I have no interest in doing so."
"So you're miserable because you have no power but yet you have options to get it back that you don't want to take."
She stood up and reached up in a stretch. Again he became aware of It's like Foreplay It's not. She assured him that she was not standing up so she could leave the room and gestured for him to sit down, believing that he'd been spending too much time of his feet. "You know, I really am envious of you to a certain extent. You have things that I don't have. I have things that you probably want."
His heart was pounding so hard at this point, he could hear it in his ears. He foolishly began to hope that she couldn't hear it. She doesn't mean… Does she? Are you stupid? "What do you think I want?"
"Power. Physical strength and I have a feeling that you also want political power. It's waned some but I could still flatten you most likely. But I won't because I just don't want to. I don't want to fight you. I just don't. And what power you may have gained when you were my second in command doesn't really compare to what I used to have. It's sad though. People still don't want to come near me."
Hiei sighed. For some reason, he kind of thought he pitied her a bit, even if it turns out to just be a kernel of pity. Mostly he was inclined to tell her to take her head out of her ass. He already knew that the beast clawing inside him was begging for him to make it go the other way around. But… Wasn't it obvious why people did it? He didn't want to dig into it anymore. "So what do I have that you want?"
"You have friends. A family- well, you have your sister, anyway. Though… No one ever said that Chikou, the man I believe to be my father, might not be my father and that my real parents are out there somewhere having a fun time, having other children and loving them but not loving me. Or maybe Chikou forgot to sterilize one of his women and fathered other children. Probably they were more fortunate than I am." She started to pace back and forth. Then turned it over in her head and stopped as she sighed at the thought, even showing her distress at the thought through running her hands through her hair. At this point it was standing straight up in some parts. "But… As I've said before it's just a selfish, childish desire. So maybe I've just become a miserable, lonely old bat. You never think being a loner is bothersome until you get lonely."
"You shouldn't be." He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He became aware of how the table was bare and put his feet on it, hoping it would level him out some. Looking at her eyes, he suddenly noticed the sad slant to them that When she shrugged, he sighed, rubbing at temple. "So… what if… What if I could give you all of that?"
"In exchange for what? My soul and power?" She was smirking. "No, I mean… You already do." He raised his brows. "You've been keeping me company… No, I can't put it that way. But you are a… a dear friend of mine." She shrugged again. "Maybe you replace the family I never really had."
"My god, you're so damn depressing. You're still harping on that? Get over it. If you're really that fucking desperate then you should go out and make some friends or something. I don't care. You sit around all day and you wait for me to come like some helpless woman… That… Why the hell do you even wait for me?"
"Well, I suppose I deserved that. I don't really wait for you per se… Or at least I don't think I do. But as I've said before…"
He stood up and started walking to the door. He paused and turned around. He looked at her face again, and it was completely blank. He looked away quickly, feeling the rush of blood to his "You're so damn pathetic it makes me sick."
She opened her mouth to protest but he walked away before she could get passed the word "I."
He didn't bother going in the room the next day. It was sickening in more ways than one. Though his heart happened to At the thought of The point is that it would make him sick to see her again. More sick than this goddamn mental anguish was making him. If he walked in he would be inclined to apologize even though she's the one who needs to apologize. She's the one who's pathetic and she's the one who needs to change. If he walked in he would see the familiar curve of her brow, her cat's eyes shaded with that deep blue and slanted with sadness, her No. He would see her and be inclined to do something he'd regret and thus make him weak to his own impulses. It would be something he didn't mean. It was a lie. Her damn soft skin was a lie.
She passed him in the hall, glanced at him, probably desperate to strike up a conversation. Probably. Most likely. He passed her by, acting as though he didn't see her.
But god, if she followed, no, pursued him following that reaction, he'd do it. What he would regret. The beast would burst out of his chest like some screwed up parasite and make it all start that depressing cycle of euphoria, depression, jealousy, and weakness.
Why? What the hell is it that makes her so damn special? Every second of being here puts him an inch deeper in hell. As his head swam, someone called him to get his ass in gear and get to work. He didn't know who it was. It was a man's voice. So it was a man with a face and eyes. At the moment, the man with a face and eyes was more like a series of pigments in a walking blood pack. Hiei was probably getting the first migraine of his life right now... That damn woman was giving him a migraine- like that would stop him.
Fuck it. He was going to leave that woman. That'll teach her. She'll be all alone to wallow in her pathetic feelings.
She wasn't in the room the next day. He was going to turn around and just leave without telling her. The bitch deserved that little shock. Something, the beast currently known as mental anguish, probably, was telling him that he should at least try and tell her anyway. That's what a gentleman would do. Not that he was egotistical to believe he was a gentleman.
He happened to come across her in his random wanderings, standing and looking at some huge window and god knows what. (The scenery was about as interesting as a cup of water.) He didn't really want her to know he was there but… Did he pick up his feet as he walked? Was he a quiet walker? Did his footsteps echo on this floor? He opened his mouth to get her to turn around. No sound came out and so he stood there like an idiot with his mouth hanging open.
She caught him first and turned around. She looked at him with a half smile and her cat's eyes. That gentle slant Slender wrists and An hour glass shaped To put a hand on her She stared at him before he could sift through his standard BS. He was suddenly aware of the soft roughness of her voice (She can make it as hard as she wants to.) and the almost accented tone it had. Okay, stop. Just stop. "You cannot see it but you still search for it. It calls out to you but you cannot hear it; you reach out to it but you cannot see it. It touches you but you can't feel its touch. And then tears come to your eyes and you begin to think that you cannot believe it because it never shows itself to you. Or maybe you think it's an illusion because everyone but you feels it. And you scoff at it coldly, ignoring your chance, refusing to have it for yourself, all because it's invisible and what you can't see you can't believe."
That stopped him. "What was that supposed to mean?"
"What you want it to, Hiei."
Suspicious. Did she know? How long had she known? Instead it was safer to ask a more important question. "Are you drunk?"
"Drunk: no. High: no. Otherwise drugged: no. Just something that I came up with randomly. It sounded better in my head though." She turned around to face him, eying him, daring him to make his next move. Did she know? Dammit, it was likely that she did.
"I'm leaving you," Hiei said simply. Hell, the words slipped off his tongue so easily. He could say it over and over again I'm leaving you, I'm leaving you, I'm leaving you…
She blinked but her expression didn't change. Or did one of her brows really twitch? Then, a sudden burst of emotion- "It's something I said."
He groaned. "That's not what I'm saying. I'm giving my- I'm giving Yukina her- her-" He shook his head. "I'm giving Yukina her Hirui stone back."
"So it's something I did." Her eyebrows slanted with more finality.
"Why can't I just leave because I want to or because I need to? Do you really think I'm that stupid that I can't make my own decision? We're not even at a level that you would make me do something that drastic. I just want this off my chest." He paused and went on. "I'm also bored here too. I'll find something better to do while I'm at it."
"So it is something I did."
"You and I both know it's not based on a whim or because of ennui that you're really leaving. Can't you just say it?"
"Can't you just say boredom?"
"Don't be a smart ass. Though…" She sighed. Paused to think it through as she rubbed a finger on her temple. Apparently she was having second thoughts about taking such a direct approach. "It was good of you to come and tell me that you are. Leaving, I mean. I don't mean that I would be completely confused if you left without telling me. I could… I'm sure you know what I'm getting at." She grabbed at the stone hanging around her neck. "I should give this back to you."
He shot back, "Don't."
"It's not mine to keep, Hiei."
"Yeah, and I let you keep it because you found it and apparently needed it more than I do. So you keep it."
"Sure but you spent most of your life trying to find it. I don't want it to be in vain so just take it." She held it out to him.
He turned around. "I told you. Keep it. It means more to you than it does me."
She walked up to him, pried his hand out of his pocket, pried open his fist and dropped it in his hand. "It was from your mother. If my mother left me something I would keep it and never let it go."
"If your mother left you something you wouldn't be this pathetic, worthless whore that you are." He stuffed it in his pocket anyway.
"So it was something I did. Since you're leaving could you at least be honest with yourself if you can't find it in yourself to be honest with others?"
He walked away before she could babble on. Like a gentleman.
When Hiei saw Yukina, he intended to tell her he was her brother. Just to get something off his chest. Something didn't feel right about keeping both her stone and keeping that information from here. When he found her at Kuwabara's house (Why?) it melted away. He told her her brother died.
"Are you sure?" she asked.
"Quite sure," Hiei replied. "You know what I do don't you?" She gave him a shaky nod, indicating she knew somewhat. "You don't need to know the details, actually. The point is I do a lot of traveling. I kept asking around. I got a lead on someone. Apparently he died when he got into a fight with some guy. I didn't want to know the details but… The whole time he was still looking for you. He lost his stone in a fight and in turn they lost it and somehow it ended up in the hands of one of the kings… I don't know which. I don't even know how that guy knew that."
She didn't start crying, which made it much more awkward. He kind of wished she had started crying. Not that he would be any help in that situation either. "Well, I suppose it's in good hands." She stared at the stone when Hiei offered it to her. "But that wasn't what I was worried about. If he didn't have it then…"
"Well, thank you for telling me. I'm sorry to trouble you with this…"
It was silent for a few minutes. "Mr. Hiei, you can keep that." He stared at her. "No, I think it's okay if you have it. Really. I think it's better if you keep it. It will…" She was silent for a few moments. She watched as he reluctantly dropped it in his pocket. "So why don't you come here more often?" He didn't answer. Did he even know why? "You know, Yusuke and Kazuma say that you have a girlfriend that you're living…" Apparently Hiei made a face because she cupped a hand over her mouth, eyes wide. "Ack, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean that… I didn't mean to offend you or anything that's just what I was told. I wasn't sure it was true or not but either way as long as you're happy then it's okay."
"I travel with a bunch of people. Not just with her. She's just a… Just a friend actually." Why did that hurt?
Some of the pink in her cheeks went down. "Oh. Then they were just joking. …You think we could meet her one day?"
Probably not. He didn't want to say anything that would disappoint her nor did he want to commit to anything he wouldn't keep. Like he assumed he often did. "Sure."
Hiei knocked on the door. He never did it before but something was telling him he should just let her know someone was coming in. Or maybe he thought it would level out Mukuro's shock when she sees that he returned. (Not that he was thinking she would faint at the sight of him and they would jump on the back of his trusty white steed and ride into the sunset happily ever after. That would just be stupid and the timing was off anyway.) He knocked on the door again but there was still no answer. He sighed and walked into the room anyway. Mukuro was laying on her back on the bed, staring intently at the ceiling with her catlike eyes. Her hair, that golden red color (What do they call it?) still in wild bundles on her face. He walked to the bed, paused and looked up. There wasn't anything up there so why
"Look who decided to show up after all these years," Mukuro finally said, sitting up.
"Years? I was only gone for a few months," Hiei shot back.
"Time doesn't matter here because time doesn't change."
"You ever consider saying something that doesn't belong in a philosophy book?"
"Honey, if you can't figure out what it means then you should buy yourself a translator, a dictionary, and a thesaurus."
"Sarcasm. I thought you know it when you hear it. Then again you came where you weren't wanted for needed so I suppose you lost that bit of information as well." She glared at him. "What in the hell did you come back here for? Did you realize you didn't know where you were so you came back here to cry to someone who could be your mother?"
"What? No. I just came back because…"
"For me." She said it flatly.
He didn't really want to go on. Then again, what the hell was it that was making her so terrifying when he'd seen her in worse moods? "Because we're friends."
"So after all this time of denial, you decided you might as well admit it so you can win me over, right? And in the end you might get passed even that relationship. You're so transparent, you know that? I could tell what was going on. It won't work anymore. You just… Hell, I won't say that. That's just making me into a commodity."
"My god, are you so hurt that you can't even stand me anymore?"
She didn't even consider it. She was on her feet by now. "So did you tell your sister?" He looked away, trying to find a softer way of putting it. She still beat him there. "Judging by that look you're giving me, or rather, the look you're not giving me, I'm saying you didn't tell her and you came up with some lame-ass excuse like her brother's dead."
"Would you quit jumping to conclusions?"
"Hiei, would you get your dumb ass out of here?"
"Fine. I get it." He reached into his pocket to one of the Hirui stones. He tossed it to her but she didn't catch it. She didn't even try. It just bounced off her chest and landed in her crossed arms. She looked down at it and sighed, opening her arms just long enough for it to fall to her feet. "I don't need that damn thing to save me anymore. Take it back."
He started to walk up to her to pick it up and force it on her. He decided mid-step that he wouldn't. She had to pick it up. "I'm giving you permission to keep it if that helps. I think you should have it." Her expression didn't soften. "You used it more than I did and you know it, Mukuro." She opened her mouth to protest but he wouldn't let her have this victory. "My mother left it for me. She probably would have wanted me to keep it for as long as I live but she would have also slapped me if I didn't let you have it when you clearly need it more than I do. It did more for you than it did to me and I'm sure it means more to you than it does to me, hell maybe it means more to you. If you want to be mystical, then my mother's love and my mother's feelings are there for you. And they're yours now. Take it."
"Take it back before I slit your throat." Her hands were in her pockets.
Hiei shrugged. "Then leave it there. I know you won't do it anyway. You'll have to pick it up at one point."
He won the battle. But he hadn't yet won the war.
Things Fall Apart