Into the Gray

BY : Dementian
Category: Yuyu Hakusho > Yaoi - Male/Male > Kurama/Kuwabara
Dragon prints: 1299
Disclaimer: I do not own Yu Yu Hakusho and make zero money off of it.

If Kazuma had to pinpoint the day in which he began to feel an attraction towards Kurama, he
would fail. Love to him was seamless, an ocean which weaved and bobbed; as it crashed upon
the rocks, Kazuma had been thrown from his love affair with Yukina to lay panting upon the
shore, utterly wretched and alone. It wasn't Yukina's fault, she simply hadn't loved him back.
Kazuma was not the kind to beat a dead horse, but sometimes he still couldn't help feeling a
terrible swelling sickness in his stomach whenever he looked back on how he'd tried so
desperately to get her to love him. He was embarrassed, plain and simple. Sometimes when he
looked at her, memories would dance through his head of how he'd paraded and strutted about,
praying she would take notice or simply say something nice in return. It had been foolish, he
decided, to think she'd ever do such things. He'd mistaken her initial sweetness for a hope, a
shot in the dark at something substantial. He knew that now. Fortunately, time had dulled his
embarrassment to just an occasional ache. The newfound stress of adulthood left him little time
for lamenting over the regrets of his youth.

Then, it had gotten worse.

It was one thing to be attempting to woo someone and fail, one thing to go home dejected
because your best try hadn't been enough. It was another entirely to not be able to try at all
because you were so goddamn afraid of losing the one you loved. One evening, when the
library was relatively free of the usual daytime crowding, Kazuma had been studying with
Kurama, just as he'd done numerous times this semester, when... it became too much. That
terrible unease he'd so often felt around Yukina. A warmth in his stomach, an anxious tension
urging him to make every sentence count. It could have been the way Kurama leaned with his
elbow upon the table, his chin propped delicately in his palm as he thumbed through a dull
chemistry text. The light from the setting sun poured in from the sky lights and shone on the top
of Kurama's head in an orange halo, a sort of gleaming crown that had captivated Kazuma's
attention and made him forget all about molar mass conversions. To Kazuma, details made the
man... and god damn did Kurama have details. The small tug at his lips when a conversation at
a nearby table dissolved into hushed laughter, the thin line of garden soil caught beneath his
otherwise immaculate fingernails, the small wrinkle upon his soft white collar from where he
might have made a slip up while ironing... the hollow of his throat that called out to Kazuma so
sweetly.

He'd realized what it meant, that dark hollow, that crown of light, the hammering in his chest. It
terrified the shit out of him.

In his youth, his gut reaction to homosexuality had been a prompt and fierce 'no'. Some of the
guys in his class had been rather adamant about their views on homosexuality, beating the crap
out of one of their classmates who had been openly gay (a rather bold thing for a highschooler
to be) and Kazuma now regretted not standing up for the poor guy when he'd had the chance.
Kazuma had never thrown a punch or spat a curse at the guy, but he'd damned him just as well
by not cramming his fist down the throats of the bullies who did. He'd been a coward in that
moment; no matter how long ago it had been, Kazuma could not forget it. When Sensui had
kidnapped him, and his love affair with Itsuki had been revealed, Kuwabara had been just as
disgusted. It might have also been because he despised Sensui down to the very bottom of his
rotten black soul... but when Sensui had been revealed to be gay Kazuma could remember
thinking something derisive and crude:

'Well that makes perfect fucking sense - you're already fucked up enough to be gay.'

Now, each time he thought back on it, he felt more and more disgusted with himself. Sensui had
been a sick asshole, but that had nothing to do with his sexuality.

Yet when he looked at Kurama, truly looked at him, and felt that squirming desire in his chest,
Kazuma could not help but feel fear - of the idea of being gay, of being in love with another man
when he didn't even know how that could work. Kurama was incredibly handsome, beautiful in
fact, and could have any girl that he chose. God only knows he had a flock to pick from, all of
them fellow classmates who adored him and craved his attention. Yet Kurama never gave them
a second look, instead focusing on his studies or Kazuma himself when he needed help. When
asked why, Kurama would say, "I have other priorities." The response was always equal parts
frank and incredibly vague, and it simultaneously squashed and nourished with warm light the
delightful sense of longing which had been blossoming in Kazuma's chest for some time now.

A part of him wished that Kurama would say something concrete to spare Kazuma from the
barrage of his own agonizing (and, in all likelihood, one-sided) feelings, but Kurama would have
had no way of knowing the feelings existed in the first place or that his private and kind-hearted
disposition was making it progressively more difficult for Kazuma to keep a handle on reality. As
such, Kazuma could not help but continually rifle through possibility after possibility, each one
sparked by the not-so-mundane details of Kurama, details that had been in front of his eyes for
years before he was ever able to notice them like this.

His gut had never failed him before. Not when he'd nearly been eaten by Byakko or almost died
at the hands of the older Toguro brother. Not when his friends had been drowning right next to
him, or when Urameshi had been dead on the ground. His gut was always right, maybe
because of his spirit awareness or his damn keen sense of perception. He couldn't say. Now
Kazuma's gut would not stop screaming Kurama's name. Sure, it had never failed him before,
but there was a first time for everything. And when he took a step back from Kurama's delicate
features, his gentle smile, and the smooth caress of his voice - stepped away and really thought
about the implications of what he was feeling, he was terrified.

Totally fucking terrified.

Of course, his depressed and bleak view on life might have had something to do with the fact
that he'd just gotten his midterm grades back, and he was failing the fuck out of theoretical
physics.

"It's no use, man," Kazuma murmured into his beer glass, wishing that the cool burn could
somehow dull him to the hyper sensitivity of his system since Kurama was sitting right next to
him.

Yusuke's noodle shack was a great place to unwind and de-stress but it was a little difficult for
Kazuma to do either as he observed Kurama idly trail his finger about the wetted rim of his
drink, the easy scent of springtime worming its way to Kazuma's nostrils despite the pungent
aroma of noodles and booze and the fact that it was late October. He looked away, cheeks hot.

"I'm just not smart enough to be a scientist."

"Quit sayin' that or you really will fail," Shizuru growled from his other side as she exhaled a puff
of smoke from her cigarette, glaring at him as she clutched his midterm report in her free hand.
She'd been the one to instigate this night trip, the one to demand Kazuma have a drink. Shizuru
was exhausted with his struggle, unable to figure out how to help him anymore with his college
career. So instead she allowed him to get drunk and even paid the tab. Kazuma could respect
that.

Still.

"It's the truth, sis!" Kazuma cried out indignantly, unable to keep from smacking his curled fist
upon the counter in sheer frustration. The slight tremor in his wake did nothing to throw off the
rhythm of Kurama's elegant finger about the rim of his glass, and boy did that sure piss him off.
Shizuru gave Kazuma a disappointed look which did nothing to ease his mood or his mind.
"Look at me, when have I ever been the brains of this outfit? I thought if I studied really hard that
maybe I could get smarter but-" Kazuma broke off, unsure of how to put into words what his
gut was telling him. God, it made him angry. "There's no changin' the way my brain works. I'm
just not that good with physics."

From across the counter, behind the sneeze guard, Urameshi gave Kazuma a sympathetic
frown. No doubt he sympathized because he was a far cry from a math whiz himself. Leave it to
Urameshi to remind Kazuma he wasn't alone. Yet he was also sitting here with Keiko and
Yukina, both of whom were intelligent young ladies and were giving Kazuma scoffs as if he was
the problem here. As if he simply wasn't trying hard enough. Didn't they understand? Couldn't
they see? Dammit, Kazuma hadn't gotten a good night's sleep in weeks because of these
midterms! He'd pushed himself beyond all expectations, pushed himself to the limits... and still.

Once again, his best had not been enough. He could retch.

"Chemistry is already killing me, but theoretical physics?" Kazuma snorted, "I might as well just
fall over and die." And so he took a big swig of beer.

"Man, don't go giving up that easily," Urameshi warned, pausing in the rhythmic chopping of
vegetables to give Kazuma the stink eye. Well, fuck him, too!

"I'm not!" Kazuma barked at him, "I'm telling you, I tried everything!" It sure was a cheap shot to
be told 'don't give up that easily' from a high school drop-out who made noodles for a living.
Then again, a great number of Yusuke's larger fights had started with him looking down the
barrel of a bigger gun. Perhaps Yusuke had earned the right to demand perseverance in others.

"What are your tactics?"

Kazuma flushed, suddenly wishing he had more beer left in his glass as Kurama spoke up for
the first time that evening. The soft lilt of his voice, the way he tilted his head when he talked...
God, Kazuma could barely stand it. He knew that later Kurama would be the subject of yet
another sketch (his sketchbook was getting fuller by the day). Heaven help him, he was in
serious trouble.

"Well, um... flash cards," Kazuma began, instantly berating himself for his slip up. "Intense
reading and re-reading. Just really trying to memorize things."

"Well, those are fine study habits, and ones that often procure high marks," Kurama
complimented him with a small smile, pausing in the repetitive circling of his glass's rim to give
him a once-over that left Kazuma's face even hotter than before. "But they are not the only
methods for learning a subject, and I wonder if perhaps your particular skill set requires you to
learn in other ways." Kurama took a small sip of beer, and Kazuma noted the slight bit of foam
that hid at the corner of his elegant mouth, slipping out of sight as a pink tongue poked out to
lap it up.

Fuck, he was fucked.

"Take, for example, how good you are at drawing," Kurama offered with a wave of the hand, his
fingers curving upward slightly as his wrist bounced. "You may be more inclined to study charts
and attempt to replicate them with your own pen."

"... I never thought of it that way." Kazuma had to admit that was a damn good idea; Kurama
was often chock-full of them.

"Take Kurama's advice," Shizuru urged, perhaps sensing the glimmer of hope that had slipped
into his voice. "He's the smartest guy we know! Maybe you just need to try and study a different
way."

"I don't know; what's the point of it?" Kazuma sighed, for if he was entirely honest with himself
his major wasn't fulfilling him in the ways he'd thought it would when he started out so many-

His thought was cut short as Shizuru smacked him over the back of his head, causing his ear to
sting painfully and his eyes to burn.

"Dammit, sis! Knock it off!" Kazuma barked at Shizuru, on the verge of a row with her if she
struck him again. She knew his ears were sensitive, why did she hit him there?

Because she knew it would get his attention. Of course. Her glare said as much, anyway.

"I'm not in the mood," Kazuma warned, chugging the last of his beer to keep himself from saying
something snarky to his sister. He'd likely get smacked a second time if he did.

"You put yourself down way too much," Shizuru growled, her patience clearly worn thin by this
entire conversation. Kazuma felt a stabbing pang of guilt when it suddenly occurred to him how
much of her own time and money she had invested into his education, helping him to pay for his
books and supplies and playing counselor every time his frustration during a night of cramming
brought him to pick up the phone and dial her number. And now, to see him on the verge of
giving up entirely - Kazuma regretted ever venting to her in the first place. He was tired of being
a disappointment.

"You need to start trying to think of yourself in positive terms!" she was saying.

"I agree," Keiko spoke up, and Kazuma groaned, knowing now that Yusuke was bound to get on
board the 'fuck with Kuwabara' train since Keiko had deemed herself worthy of a ticket too. She
leaned upon the counter, playing with a packet of soy sauce between her fingers, "You'll never
succeed if all you do is imagine you're going to fail."

"Perhaps Kurama could help you study?" Yukina spoke up from Kurama's other side, and the
mere suggestion of it made Kazuma overheat for what felt like the hundredth time that night.
"Maybe what you need is direction?"

Yes. He needed directions to the nearest cliff.

"I like that idea," Shizuru agreed, nodding to Yukina who offered her a cheery smile.

"So do I," Keiko said, and suddenly Kuwabara was surrounded on all sides by choruses of
agreement that signaled his doom. "Studying with a friend is always more fun and you can bring
snacks to eat."

"Well, hot damn, lemme bring my lunch basket," Urameshi joked, and suddenly Kazuma found
himself taking comfort in his old friend. Something about his voice just made Kazuma feel more
at ease.

"I'd be more than happy," Kurama assured Kazuma.

This conversation was just going from bad to worse.

"No, that's not right!" Kazuma snapped, eager to shut this idea down before it ruined his life with
even more afternoons at the library spent pondering over the hollow of Kurama's neck or the
way his hair looked almost black without any light on it- fuck. "I shouldn't be bothering a friend
just because I suck at math."

"You're hardly bothering me, Kuwabara," Kurama assured him, but Kazuma was far from
mollified. On top of his full-time job at his step-dad's company, Kurama was surely already
sacrificing too much by spending his evenings attempting to teach someone as slow as
Kazuma. "I would not offer if it was an inconvenience. Theoretical physics is far from simple,
and I would like to help you in it if I can."

"It's not right," was Kazuma's bleak reply, a simple repetition of words because every time
Kurama spoke, his brain shut down.

Kurama smiled, the corners of his lovely almond eyes crinkling slightly in humor. "You make it
sound like you'll be indebted to me for life," he joked.

"I will be!" Kazuma insisted, desperate to get the implications of that phrase out of his head
before another round of fantasies kept him up tonight. "If you can help me, if you can make me
less stupid, I will."

"You are not stupid," Kurama replied, but Kazuma knew that was a lie. Kurama was just trying to
make him feel better. If Kurama lived in Kazuma's shoes, he'd know... he'd know how stupid
Kazuma was.

"I dunno, sometimes I wonder," Urameshi joked, his tone curving in a baited jab. Kazuma's eyes
shot up, darkening with mischievous delight as he settled back into the old routine. The firm,
tried and true. Bless Urameshi for knowing just how to get him out of a funk.

"You wanna go, punk?" Kazuma began, and so they started their usual snit. He prayed it would
be enough to make Kurama forget this conversation.

Kurama's finger resumed its methodical dance over the rim of his glass, the friction making the
crystal sing. Kazuma swallowed thickly as he noticed the tapered fold in Kurama's pants leg, the
way the fabric clung far too tight to his powerful thighs.

He was fucked. He was absolutely fucked.


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