What is one of your greatest blessings?
Hiei had been on extended missions before, keeping him busy for weeks at a time, but Koenma had been pushing him for months now. He had taken for granted his earlier respites between missions. He actually found himself missing Ali on nights the moon glared down at him. He hoped she would forgive him when he finally returned.
He had nothing new for Koenma, but maybe the man would give Hiei a break while they regrouped and made new plans. The Hunters were elusive, untraceable. Hiei had been confident he could track them with his Jagan eye but they were invisible to him. That had stung his pride in no short order. He had gone on a slight warpath, hoping to draw them out, but they didn’t take the bait.
He wondered if anything short of Ali walking out of her Sanctuary in all her full demon glory would bring their enemies into the open. Not that he would ever sanction such recklessness. There was a reason he was the one out hunting the Hunters while she remained hidden in her little utopia. Gods, he hoped she had stayed put while he was gone. If anything had happened to her…
Hiei shook his head and picked up his pace as he returned to Koenma’s. She would be fine. She was more than capable of defending herself, as she was keen to remind him whenever he broached the subject. With this new enemy though, he remained skeptical – demons with powers specifically honed to counter and control wolf demons could not be taken lightly – but she was also surrounded by powerful fighters, men he trusted.
He grinned to himself at that thought. Six years ago he would not have believed he could wholly trust another person. Five years ago he would not have believed he could care for another person, let alone trust that person’s life to others. He still preferred to work alone, but he privately admitted that it was nice to have friends to come home to.
Home. “I really am getting soft,” he chuckled to himself as he stopped outside the Gates of Judgement. He would make his report to Koenma and then go home.
“Still no leads?” Koenma sighed when Hiei briefed him on the results of his mission. “This is very troubling news indeed. I have half a mind to send you back out. We need eyes out there.”
“This strategy isn’t working,” Hiei said matter-of-factly. Once, he would have snarled his dissent. With his mind on returning home, he was hyper-aware of how much he had changed since he first met Yusuke and the others.
Koenma ran a hand through his hair. “No, you’re right, it’s not.” He sighed in defeat.
There was an edge to it that Hiei hadn’t picked up on before. He was stalling. Hiei felt anger and fear rising in him. “What’s happened?” he demanded.
Koenma blinked in confusion, then nodded. “Ah, yes. Forgive me, I forget sometimes that you’re more intuitive than you let on.”
“Nothing bad has happened,” he assured Hiei. “I would have sent you back sooner, but she forbade me from telling you.”
Hiei’s temper seethed. “Telling me what?”
Koenma waved a hand dismissively. “She’ll want to tell you herself. You might as well get going.”
Hiei turned and ran towards the barrier back to Makai. His thoughts reverberated with his steps. Nothing bad. But important enough to keep him away for months. So she could tell him herself. His anger turned into despair. He shouldn’t have stayed away so long. Had she decided she no longer wanted him? He had never deserved her. It shouldn’t surprise him if she’d had enough of him.
He sprinted through the Forest of Fools to the edge of the Sanctuary. The barrier hardly fazed him as the air became fresher and the sky changed from red to blue. He stopped at the edge of the forest, staring up at the cabin she called home. Did he even belong here?
A flash of red caught his eye at the end of the path. Kurama had seen him and was making his way purposefully down to Hiei. The fire demon frowned. What did Kurama have to be angry about?
“It’s about time you got back,” the kitsune growled once he was within earshot.
“What did I miss?” Hiei asked hesitantly.
Kurama’s scowl didn’t soften. “You really have no idea, do you?” Hiei bit back a sharp retort. He didn’t want to set the tone for his homecoming by snapping at his best friend. Kurama seemed to pick up on this because he relaxed and placed a comforting hand on Hiei’s shoulder. “A lot has changed in the last few months.” He jerked his head towards the river. “Go and see her. She has a surprise for you,” he added with a smirk.
Hiei did not trust that grin. “I hate surprises,” he muttered.
He trotted up past the cabin and found her sitting below the willow tree, a basket next to her, a childlike smile on her face. She hummed a soothing tune as she slowly kicked her feet in the water. “Ali,” he sighed. He had worried for nothing.
She froze at the sound of his voice, turning slowly as if she didn’t truly believe her ears. Tears filled her eyes when she saw him and she scrambled to her feet. He braced himself as she leapt from several feet away, her arms entangling themselves about his neck, wet tear-stained kisses peppering his face. “I missed you,” she breathed, burying her face in his neck as they held each other tightly.
He chuckled. “Would you believe me if I said I missed you too?”
She relaxed her grip on him enough to take his face in her hands, searching his eyes for the truth in the way she often had in the past. Smiling, she nodded. “Only because no one else is out here to hear you say it.”
He smiled, the tender smile he reserved for her alone, and looked her up and down to assure himself she really was whole and okay. She looked perfectly healthy, but something was different. “Kurama was right. Something’s changed about you, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.”
Her smile faltered for the briefest of seconds. He thought he heard her whimper, but it didn’t seem to come from her. She brought her fingers to his lips. “I have something to show you,” she said, turning away from him and returning to the basket under the tree.
She retrieved a small bundle and brought it to him. The whimpering was coming from the bundle in her arms. She cooed and in the sweetest voice said, “Look Mitsuru, Daddy’s home.”
The words fell over Hiei like the river over the waterfall at the far edge of the Sanctuary. His insides turned to ice. Him, a father? The Cursed Child of the Ice Maidens, a murderous heathen with little regard for the lives of others, had sired a son?
Tiny hands reached out from the bundle in Ali’s arms, grasping her finger and giggling as she made faces at him. A smiling, shining face she turned on Hiei, warming him and banishing his doubts. He wrapped her and the child in his arms and glanced up at the sky.
“Thank you,” he whispered. Things were going to be very different, indeed. She was always teaching him new emotions. She would teach him through this, too. He definitely didn’t deserve her, but she had given him something he’d never had. A family. And he would do everything he could to protect it.
Notes: Whew. So this takes place about a third of the way through Betrayal, the second story in my YuYu Hakusho fanfiction. (More details in my Recurring Characters post.) I originally thought I would write this scene from Ali’s POV but as I got thinking about it, I realized it would be far more interesting from Hiei’s POV.
There’s a new threat in the War of the Power, and so Ali goes into hiding while the team goes out trying to stop an attack before it can come. Eventually Hiei is the only one left on assignment. Ali had a hand in this, as she didn’t want him to know she was pregnant and made Koenma promise to keep him busy until she’d had her baby.
She has her reasons, even if they are mostly self-serving. For the purposes of moving the story along but without sacrificing too much time in-universe, I modeled her gestation period off that of actual wolves. That’s how she was able to have a baby in the relatively short period of time that Hiei was gone.
Hiei still has a lot of Issues™ even after being in a more-or-less stable relationship for the better part of 5 years, which is why I felt this scene would be better served from his POV. He never had “blessings” in his life. And don’t get me wrong, he is terrified about the prospect of fatherhood, but he’s finally coming around to the idea that he can have nice things.
At least, until I take them away. *maniacal author laughter*
Now it’s your turn! What blessings do you have? Get those words out! Catch ya tomorrow!