Chapter 06

Hiei stared at the kitsune from the floor, hands properly folded behind him. “Tomorrow?” he asked. “It’s barely past noon.”

Yoko laughed. “There will be time then to tell you my expectations. I have other plans for today.”

Hiei smirked at the seductive lilt in his solo’s voice. The fox demon was exquisite. The broad set of his shoulders paired with his height implied Yoko would be able to pin him down easily. He derived the most pleasure from sex when he was forced. Arousal thrilled through him.”What exactly did you have in mind?”

“I was thinking we’d have a chase.”

“A chase?”

“Mhm. I rather enjoy catching prey.”

Hiei’s breath hitched. That type of game was dangerous. Many demons would forget it was a game. If he agreed to this chase, he would be putting his life in Yoko’s hands. But he’d just signed on as the kitsune’s partner. Refusing to play game would imply a distrust he didn’t possess. “Hn. You sure? I’m faster than most demons.”

Good,” Yoko said, lips curling into a smirk. “I wouldn’t want it to be boring. As a precaution, the chase will be limited to my garden.”

“Isn’t using your garden cheating?” Hiei asked, frowning.

“You expect me to play fair?”

He scowled. It would be difficult to devise a plan to outmaneuver his solo if the kitsune used a garden that responded to his every command.

“It does give me an advantage,” Yoko said. “It’s meant to be challenging.”

Hiei arched an eyebrow.

“For you,” his solo said, grinning.

He snorted, amused at the way his solo had manipulated the situation. Instead of anger, the challenge the fox presented was exciting him. If he won, he would be able to claim he outsmarted Yoko Kurama. That was enough motivation for him.

Yoko chuckled. “I see I’ve caught your interest.” The kitsune turned serious. “Do you remember the warning that Mist gave you before you entered the house?”

“You mean the one about you being unable to resist killing anyone who ends up in your choke-hold who struggles?” Yeah, Hiei definitely remembered that. Not struggling when someone wrapped their hands around your throat was a hard instinct to fight, but he would find a way to fight it if it became necessary.

A shadow fell over Yoko’s eyes, making Hiei wonder what had happened in the past to cause the kitsune to feel such remorse. “Do not allow me to get my hands around your throat. You are too much of a warrior not to struggle, and I am too much myself not to give into the urge to kill those who defy me.”

Hiei pursed his lips. “I will not let you near my throat.”

“Good,” Yoko said, his face clearing. “In that case, let me show you to the garden. I will give you twenty minutes before I start my pursuit.”

A jolt of arousal shot through Hiei as he realized they were really going to go through with this. Playing this game with his solo, knowing it would lead to sex with Yoko, was exciting all by itself. Knowing that Yoko also had a sadistic streak just made it more so.

“Follow me,” Yoko said, sliding off the couch and shifting into his kitsune form in such a fluid motion that Hiei barely noticed he was changing until the transformation was complete.

Hiei stood, his hands dropping to his sides as he stared at the three-tailed kitsune he was following through the mansion. He had known that Yoko wasa three-tailed kitsune, but to see it in person was…well, words just didn’t do it justice. The sheer amount of power in those tails was off the charts. For a kitsune, just to have two tails was phenomenal in and of itself, but three was so rare it was considered almost mythical. Even those who greatly respected Yoko Kurama voiced doubts as to whether or not the kitsune was truly a three-tail or just a two-tail with more than his share of power. Very few people had seen Yoko in his kitsune form and lived to tell the tale. Hiei understood the honor he was being granted even before the game began and he couldn’t’t help but feel awed that such a legendary demon had agreed to take him on as a partner.

Shaking his head, Hiei cleared his mind of such thoughts. Right before a predator-prey game, especially one where he was playing prey, those types of thoughts were unwarranted. He needed to focus on how he was going to evade the kitsune, rather than how amazing it was that his solo had three tails. He could fawn over that later.

Yoko pushed a padded paw against a mahogany door, tilting his head to look up at the koorime. “This is it,” he said, his voice in kitsune form coming out like swords clashing. Hiei shivered at the sound of it. That much violence in a voice was pure sex to him and he had to close his eyes to get himself back under control. If he didn’t know better, he could’ve sworn Yoko smirked at him.

Hiei took a deep breath and pushed the door open.

“Remember,” Yoko said, “Twenty minutes.” The kitsune turned and loped down the hallway, moving away from the garden room with such speed and grace that Hiei felt his jaw drop.

He forced it closed, rolling his eyes and feeling absurdly grateful that Yoko hadn’t’t seen that expression on his face. He had a feeling he never would’ve lived it down. “Well,” he said, looking at the vast expanse of foliage laid out before him. “Here goes nothing.”

Yoko hummed to himself as he stepped inside the garden twenty minutes later. The room was fairly large, around two acres, so there was plenty of room for the game. Shifting into his kitsune form, he sniffed the air, trying to get a lock on Hiei’s scent. To his surprised delight, he couldn’t’t pinpoint him. It seemed in the last twenty minutes the koorime had found a way to permeate the entire room with his pheromones. Yoko smiled to himself. Most demons just weren’t’t that smart when it came to fighting him.

He padded carefully into the tall grass that grew with his more exotic plants. Really, to call this place a garden was to make it sound tamer than it was. There were no pathways anywhere-to someone unfamiliar with plants, it would just look like a wild mess. But to Yoko, it was home. He tilted his head, listening to the rustle of the blades as they rubbed against one another. Which way did the strange one go? he asked. That was how the plants always referred to anyone but him, the only one who could truly communicate with them. A general feel of reluctance rose up from the grass around him, which gave him pause. The plants had never been reluctant to expose the path a prey had taken before.

Finally, a vine that hung low over the grass answered him. They do not wish to answer, for he walks amongst us almost as gently as you, despite his inability to talk to us.

The grass pitched in. The feel of his feet is almost like your own-for a moment, we almost mistook him for you.

Yoko felt a surge of giddiness at those words. His partner respected his plants. What that respect had been born from, he had no idea, but it was a huge boon. I have taken him on as my partner, he told the plants.

Then we shall not help you catch him. A general murmur of agreement went through the room. If you cannot catch him without our help, then you are not worthy of him.

You judge me for playing unfairly? Yoko asked, amused and slightly offended. I am a kitsune. I was born to break rules.

Perhaps with others, but not with your partner. He deserves the same honesty from you that you require of him.

Yoko was forced to bow his head to that. Then you shall help neither of us, he said.

Of course. We have no reason to aide one who cannot speak to us. He interests us only because he is respectful. So few are.

Yoko understood the sentiment behind that. He had watched the attitude of demons towards one another as well as towards the world around them slowly deteriorate. It was a sad sight, but he swore to himself that he would never allow himself to become disrespectful. Manners were important. Even towards his servants, he was rarely less than kind. His aide was a different matter. Thinking of Mist made him gnash his teeth. The tremor demon took liberties he shouldn’t’t, violating the principles of manners that Yoko worked so hard to uphold.

The kitsune shook his head. Now was not the time to think of such matters. His partner was waiting to be caught. The thought made him grin. He sniffed the air again, futilely attempting to lock on a scent. Habits were hard to break after eight hundred years.

He sat in the grass, licking a paw as he thought about what potential plans the koorime may have come up with in order to evade him. If he were Hiei, what would he do? Of course, he didn’t really know the demon well enough to be able to have an immediate answer to that question, but it was at least a start.

If I had been hunted for years, where would be the best place to hide to avoid hunters? The answer came almost immediately. Tree tops. Hunters rarely look up. Of course, in this garden, there were no trees, but there were overlying canopies. And the best place to hide in a canopy would be the very middle, where the foliage was the most dense.

Yoko sprang up into the canopy above him, clearing a good twenty feet, using his tails as hooks to keep himself from falling. He maneuvered along the underside of the canopy, sending out small pulses of his ki to search for the smaller demon that way. It was a nearly undetectable amount of ki and there were few demons he’d found who were able to sense it. Hiei was no exception to this, which was almost a disappointment but that was something that Yoko himself had learned with time. One wasn’t’t born with such a skill-it had to be developed.

One of the ki bursts brought back a general location for where the koorime was at, though it felt slightly fuzzy. So the small demon was at least attempting to mask his presence. That sent a jolt of relief through Yoko, which made him feel slightly ridiculous after feeling it. Obviously the koorime would have learned to mask his presence after being hunted down for so long.

But he had been right-Hiei was on the canopies. Knowing that now for certain, he pulled himself up on top, carefully using the foliage of the canopy to keep his presence hidden. Before he was truly aware of it, he was right behind Hiei, whose ears were pricked up, listening intently for any foreign sound.

Yoko had to silence a snort-seeing Hiei look so serious and so alert was almost cute. The thought startled him. It had been centuries since he’d thought of anyone as cute. Pursing his lips, he looked at Hiei through thoughtful eyes. Even without trying, the koorime was stirring up emotions in him. He grinned. At least he wasn’t’t bored.

Speaking of boredom, if he sat still any longer he was going to go crazy. There was only one choice left to him. He pounced, expecting Hiei to go down under his massive weight, but he was forced to maneuver aside at the last second, twisting his body at an awkward angle to avoid the sword that Hiei had drawn from the sheath at his waist.

Yoko glared intently at the sword Hiei held expertly in his hands, carefully circling his partner who was now fully aware of his presence and on guard against attack. Hiei hadn’t’t lied when he said he was faster than most demons. Yoko knew that Hiei hadn’t’t sensed his attack coming-his partner had just acted instinctively, allowing his subconscious to control his fighting. Most demons had such instincts taught out of them when they were trained in a fighting art. Then again, Yoko doubted Hiei had ever been anything but self-taught-such was the fate of an imiko.

Hiei was tense as Yoko circled him, his eyes following the roving kitsune, his feet rooted to the spot. The perch he had on the canopy was slippery at best, but he didn’t want his solo to know how close he was to losing his balance. He was good at trees-this vine thing was a lot more difficult.

Yoko smirked a little as he realized that his partner was starting to lose his balance. Canopy walking had taken him nearly a hundred years to master-the netted vines were perilous. Seeing his chance, he snaked in between Hiei’s legs, using his tails to boost his speed to prevent from being caught from the swing of the koorime’s sword.

Hiei swung and swore in disgust as he completely lost his footing. He fell through the canopy, his right foot snagging on one of the vines at the last second, his sword clattering to the ground far below him as he lost his grip. Without pausing, he grabbed his ankle and pulled it free, flipping through the air and down to land on his feet beside his sword, grabbing it up as quickly as he’d lost it.

Yoko watched it all happen, his eyes wide. Hiei’s speed truly was impressive. His partner hadn’t’t even taken a second to adjust to the situation-he’d just reacted. Yoko smiled. It was starting to look like Hiei really could challenge him.

Hiei glared up at him from the ground. “Well?” he said. “You just going to stare at me all day?”

Yoko growled and slid through the canopy netting, shifting into his humanoid form mid-jump. He landed about five feet away from Hiei, easily within reach of his partner’s sword, and jumped back a couple feet, taking himself out of the koorime’s swing radius.

Hiei smirked at him. “Forgot about my sword, didn’t you?” The taunt was full of smug bravado, as if the koorime was sure he’d won the game. There was an underlying sadness, too.

Yoko snarled. Hiei was his. Not the other way around. There was no one who could prevent him from claiming his prize. Pulling on the full weight of his experience, he lunged forward as fast as he could-which was still slower than Hiei-and managed to grab the koorime’s sword-hand mid-swing. He tightened his grip on the other’s wrist until Hiei cried out in pain, but didn’t release the sword. “Let it go,” Yoko said calmly, “or I’ll break your wrist and make you.”

Hiei glared at him, but the increasing pressure on his wrist made him realize that his solo wasn’t joking. Once he understood that, his eyes watering with the pain of trying to maintain the grip on his sword, he let the weapon clatter to the ground.

Yoko eyed Hiei’s neck hungrily and he reached out to wrap his free hand around his throat, a part of his mind crying out that it was a bad idea-a part he, of course, ignored. As he went to grab Hiei’s throat, the koorime blurred so quickly that all he was left holding was air in his free hand. The other was still wrapped painfully around his partner’s sword-hand.

Hiei scowled at him. “You’re not fast enough to choke me.”

Yoko snarled, but even he had to admit the truth of that. He was no much for the small demon in terms of speed. But in strength. A new idea struck him and he lashed his tail around the koorime’s feet, forcing Hiei to the ground. He fell with him, keeping his iron grip on his partner’s wrist. No amount of speed would allow the small demon to get away from him now. Smirking in satisfaction, he reached down towards Hiei’s throat again, wondering if his partner would remember the warning he’d given about struggling.

Before he could get his hand on Hiei’s throat, he was intercepted. Hiei grabbed the wrist of his free hand, forcing it to the side. With a scowl, Yoko yanked it out of his partner’s hold. Which was a feat all in itself, because the koorime’s grip wasn’t weak by any stretch of the imagination.

Yoko looked at the demon laying underneath him, the desire to strangle him slowly turning into simple desire. Without a word, he used his tail for leverage and flipped the small demon over, pulling his partner’s pants down roughly around his ankles. He grabbed Hiei’s wrists and pulled them down by his side, pinning them effectively to the koorime’s sides by using his knees as weights. Hiei cried out at the pain, causing a thrill of arousal to run through the kitsune.

His hands free, Yoko pulled off his hakama and reached out to the plants beside him, seeking lubrication. One spit something into his hand and he slicked himself up before pushing roughly into his partner, but being careful not to tear anything. He pounded into Hiei roughly, holding his partner’s head to the ground as he rode him, the pained whimpers coming from Hiei just driving him that much closer to that edge.

“Yoko,” Hiei said, his voice strained. “I’m close.”

Yoko grinned. This was the part he liked best. “You’re not allowed to orgasm unless I tell you to.”

Hiei struggled futilely in his solo’s grip. He wanted to come! “Please, Yoko,” he begged.

The sound of his partner begging drove Yoko over the edge. “No,” he said calmly, using a leaf from another nearby plant to clean up as he slid out of his partner. “You don’t get to come for at least two weeks.”

Hiei thumped his head against the ground, groaning in frustration. “Why not?” he asked, his voice almost a whine.

Yoko stared at Hiei impassively, trying to decide whether to tell him. “It’s the amount of time it takes for me to properly mark you as my partner,” he said finally. “It will take two weeks for our pheromones to properly mix and if you come before then, it tells the link I’m establishing between us that I don’t have proper control of you.”

Hiei closed his eyes, sighing. “That link is the one that will be your mate-bond isn’t it?”

Yoko nodded silently.

The next time Hiei opened his eyes, they were shining with determination. “Then we will show the link that you own me.”

Yoko grinned. He had a feeling that it was the start of a beautiful partnership.

Chapter 5     Chapter Index     Chapter 7

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