Title: A Night for Vows (totally didn't steal this from the manga... /ahem/)
Warnings: Spoilers up to the Nihon arc!
Summary: Fai mopes about Celes events and other depressing things. Kuro makes it better with gruff monologuing. Fluff.
He found him standing under that sakura tree in the castle courtyard. The slim figure was still, gazing up at the pink flowers, both glowing eerily in the light of the full moon.
"What are you thinking, mage?" The nickname hadn't dropped yet, despite the loss of the smaller man's powers earlier that day.
Fai turned, a fake expression of shock on his face. "Hyuu! You snuck up on me, Kuro-tan!"
"Yeah, right," Kurogane grumbled, shooting the wizard – or he supposed it was ex-wizard now- a glare. There was no way he could sneak up on the man unless he was in deadly ninja assassin mode… and even then he doubted his abilities against him.
Fai smiled softly; for once it wasn't as fake as the arm now hanging from the ninja's left shoulder.
"I was just feeling the magic coming off of this tree. It's not like I can really sense anything like that anymore," he said, golden eye gleaming as he continued, "but there's still a warm feeling coming from here, like a calming wave..."
"Sure…" Kurogane replied, turning to leave. "You should get some sleep. We're heading off to the kid's country the day after tomorrow- who knows when we'll next get a chance to rest?"
He started to walk away slowly, leaving the ex-mage to think again in silence.
He felt the smaller man move towards him, though only just. Now that he was a vampire, it was taking Kurogane a little more effort to detect his presence, and that had been fast. He stopped walking as he felt the vampire's hands clutch at the back of his yukata.
Fai's body had seemed to move on its own, before he could even consider what he was doing. Within microseconds he had caught up to the ninja, grabbing onto the back of his yukata lightly, to halt his retreat. He leant close to the large form of his companion, resting his forehead against the back of the larger man's neck.
"What is it?" Kurogane asked in a gruff voice. He was about to turn and get the vampire to spill what it was that was bothering him, when he felt a slim hand slide from his back, down his new arm, where it grasped his metal fingers lightly.
"Does it feel strange? I mean, d-does it—"
Kurogane whipped around before the vampire could continue whatever it was he was going to say. He grasped the man by both shoulders, causing him to drop both arms and stare, this time in genuine shock.
"Look mage, this was my choice. You'd better not start all this self-blame crap again, alright?"
Fai's head dropped a little, hiding his face with his hair. His hands came up to Kurogane's chest, fisting into the fabric a little to stop them from shaking.
"Sorry, Kuro-pon," He managed, trying his best to keep his voice steady, "I'm still adjusting. I-I'll get there. I'm just stressed, with everything that happened today. I mean, I already knew that she was a… but I still wanted to make her ha—" His voice broke a little, and he felt silent.
"Are you crying, mage?"
"Of course n-not, Kuro-wan…" Fai replied to the voice from somewhere above his head, gripping the ninja's robe tighter.
A sigh resonated from above, and he felt a pressure on the top of his head. Kurogane's hand? It was large and warm, and it stayed there for a long while as they stood in silence. When the ex-mage gathered his courage he looked up, finding crimson eyes staring down at him. The hand had moved from his head back to his shoulder at some point when he hadn't been paying attention. He unhanded Kurogane's robe slightly, keeping a light grip on it for fear of him leaving again.
Fai studied the eyes staring back at him. They were narrowed in a slight frown, which was normal for the man standing before him, but if he looked closer he could see something else. It was something that maybe could have passed for concern, but it was probably his imagination. Still, it was nice to pretend that Kurogane felt so much for him that it was showing through his usual mask of bored annoyance.
And then he got an urge to try something new. To take it a little further.
"Kuro-puu?" Fai probed, golden eye staring up at the larger man.
"What is it?"
Before Kurogane had time to react, the vampire had leant up and pressed his lips gently against the larger man's. The ninja's lips were softer than he had imagined. After a little while, having gained no reaction either way from his companion, he pulled back, avoiding eye contact with the larger man.
Kurogane had frozen to the spot when he felt the vampire's lips brush against his. Before he could form any kind of coherent thought, the ex-mage had pulled away and was leaving. His arms still briefly held the air where slim shoulders had just been; his lips still felt the ghosting of another's. He could have sworn he heard a voice whisper a single word as the vampire wandered off, leaving Kurogane to gather his thoughts as he stood alone in the courtyard.
What in the hell just happened?
Fai rolled over again on top of the futon, sighing deeply. What had possessed him to do that? He had only just decided to let go of his past a little, and suddenly he was doing that to Kurogane?
I'll bet he hates me now. Damn it Fai, why do you always have to screw up everything?
He sighed again, shaking away the negative thoughts that always haunted him in times of crisis. He was trying to change, and thinking stuff like that wasn't helping. He'd just drop by Kurogane's room before breakfast tomorrow and try and pass it off as some crazy grief-induced accident.
Who am I kidding? He sees right through me every time. It's one of the reasons I'm in this mess. It's one of the reasons he's so attractive to someone like me.
He could just laugh it off and pretend it never happened, he mused to himself, rolling onto his stomach whilst he ran possible scenarios through his head. He stared out into the night through the sliver of an open door, lost. The room that Tomoyo-hime had given him wasn't that far from Kurogane's, and offered a gorgeous view of the castle gardens. Right now, he could see a vast expanse of stars stretching out of the black, accompanied by a large, full moon. Unfortunately, it was doing nothing to distract him from his dilemma. The ninja hadn't even reacted when he'd done it, so that surely meant the feelings weren't reciprocal, right?
That actually really hurt, Fai realised, noting the slight ache in his chest when he considered that his affection might be unrequited. I mean, sure, the ninja had cut off his own arm to save him, but he would've done it for Syaoran or Sakura too!
He quickly rubbed his eye to make sure he hadn't been crying or anything stupid. Just for good measure, he put his face into the pillow and waited for Kurogane to slide open the door. That way he could at least pretend his possibly bleary eye was sleep-related. It had been a good hour since he'd done that, so it was possible for him to have been asleep, right?
The ninja entered the room, sliding the door shut again behind him. Fai, on cue, pulled his face up from the pillow, trying his best to look marginally sleepy.
"What is it, Kuro-puu?"
"I know you weren't asleep, mage. I could sense your alertness from outside the door."
Well, it was worth a try. He remained silent as the ninja walked towards him, ever-present frown deepening, and turned around to sit facing the other man.
"You'd better not have been moping in here," Kurogane continued, setting himself down at the edge of the futon, next to Fai's knees, "because if you have, I'm going to have to hit you again. Only this time, I'll use the metal arm."
"Ara? Is Kuro-violent worried about me? You know, the children wouldn't be happy if they heard Daddy threatening Mommy with violence!" Fai replied brightly, smirking a little at the man facing him.
"What are you talking about, mage? I threaten to kill you with my sword all the time! This arm isn't even pointy!"
"Now, now, Kuro-bluntness, I thought we'd got past your violent streak and started moving towards recovery! You promised us that you'd get help for your anger problems! We can't have you setting a bad example for the children, especially not our impressionable young Prin—"
He choked a little on the word. Damn it.
He quickly flicked his eye towards anything in the room that didn't contain that gaze of burning crimson, noticing for the first time the intricate patterns of fibres weaved through the blanket they sat on, tracing their routes with his eyes.
He heard that sigh emanate from the ninja, and saw the movement of his arm out of the corner of his eye, as that hand- the real one- reached out to rest on top of his head once again. Fai brought his gaze reluctantly back to Kurogane's, surprised again by the ninja's sudden need for contact.
"You can't do this every time something bad happens."
"Do what, Kuro-rin?"
"You know what," the ninja replied, fingers tightening around the top of his skull for a brief moment, before relaxing again, "You take all the responsibility, all the blame, onto yourself, and I'm here to tell you that you don't have to do it anymore. You're not his pawn anymore."
"I know," Fai replied after a moment's silence, a small sad smile playing across his features as he spoke. One of the things he admired about the ninja was his ability to get straight to the heart of a matter, without dancing around the subject with pretty words. He stared straight into those crimson orbs again, feeling the loss at the top of his head as the hand there returned to its owner's lap.
Those eyes… they were his prison. He'd spent so much of his life running away, hiding from everything that had ever hurt him, but he just couldn't do it to the ninja. He couldn't escape from him. He didn't want to.
"Why did you come here tonight, Kuro-tan?" He asked, trying to change the subject slightly.
He thought he heard a small sigh escape the ninja's lips again. His eyes were drawn to them now, admiring the curve of his mouth, watching as the next words spilled out.
"I…" he paused, frowning a little to himself as crimson eyes suddenly darted away from molten gold to admire the furnishings. "I, er, wanted to talk about… earlier."
OH. Oh, gods…
Fai's mask, supposedly abandoned in the closed-off nightmare of Celes, along with his fluffy white overcoat, snapped back into place rapidly. His face became an impenetrable façade of semi-cheer as he faked a look of open curiosity.
"Oh," he said lightly, also stopping to admire the furnishings, "What about earlier? The blossom trees are very pretty- I can see why you love your home so much, Kuro-wan! And the moon is so much bigger here! Also—"
A light smack to the side of his head with something distinctly metallic abruptly staggered his train of babble. Glancing back at the ninja, he realised that his mask hadn't been fooling anyone but himself.
"I thought I told you to drop the act, mage. Besides, you didn't even listen to what I was going to say."
Wouldn't make a difference, most likely, Fai thought briefly, until he was immobilised by those eyes again. There was an intensity there that hadn't been there earlier, a determination. Fai's heart skipped a beat in anticipation.
"Alright, Kuro-serious, talk away!"
Kurogane scowled a little at the too-enthusiastic tone in his voice, but decided to continue anyway.
"When we were out there, earlier, you asked me in your roundabout way if I blame you for this arm," He held said steel arm in the air between them, flexing his fingers a little. "And before you think that means that I've changed my mind about what I said, I'm going to say the rest of what I want to get through your thick skull.
"I don't regret anything in life. Regrets make you weak. I gave up this arm because I wanted to. And do you know why I wanted to? Because I wanted to save something precious to me. Because I lost everything once, and thought I needed to be stronger. So I trained, and I killed, and I became the strongest warrior in Nihon. And somewhere along the way, I lost sight of why I wanted strength in the first place.
"So Tomoyo decided to send me on this journey, even though she knew it was what that bastard wanted. And I met you, the manjuu, kid, and princess. And I noticed how the kid protected what was precious to him, how the princess tried to help any way she could. And I noticed how you lied and tried to push everything that could possibly become precious away. And slowly we became a family. You changed. I changed. We both started caring. So when it came time for me to make a choice, when all your lies started crashing down around you, I made the right one. I learned what true strength was.
"And that's all down to you guys. So no, I don't regret my decision whatsoever, and I don't blame you. In fact, I'm glad that I could do something to save you. I won't let my precious people be taken from me. Not again. So if you even start to feel guilty, I'm going to take this metal arm and punch you into the next world."
Fai sat there, stunned into silence. He'd held Kurogane's gaze throughout his monologue, and couldn't bear to look away now. Slowly, he found his voice.
"I thought you weren't one for pretty words, Kuro-sama?"
"Yeah, well don't expect me to say all that crap ever again."
Fai smiled, and this time it was genuine. He knew that moments like this with the ninja were a rare commodity, and that if he was going to do anything, then it had better be now. After all, who knew when they would next get the chance to be alone together? And would they even make it out of the final battle alive?
No time like the present…
Gathering up all his courage into his muscles, Fai managed to lift his arms (without noticeable trembling, to his delight) and place a hand on either side of the ninja's face. Crimson bore down on gold once again, as Fai tried to muster the gall required to take a leap of faith.
"If you're gonna do that again mage, then just get on with it."
Taking a moment to make sure he hadn't gone crazy and started hearing things, Fai froze in place. Fortunately, Kurogane took this as the moment to make his own move, metal arm suddenly looping around the vampire's waist and pulling him forwards. Lips crashed together in an inelegant fashion, and the metal hand around his back was quickly joined by warm fingers in the hair above his ponytail.
Fai, finally grasping the situation, found himself in a suddenly desperate situation. On one hand, this was everything he had hoped could be true, everything he'd wanted since he was torn away from his twin and trapped in a barren wasteland full of never-decaying corpses. On the other, however, was the fear of getting too close, the fear that had haunted him since birth, of his curse, of the fact that everyone around him always ended up dead. He'd only ever let Ashura come near enough, to embrace him like a father would a son (and look at how that turned out, his inner pessimist noted). This was something else entirely. There were so many feelings rushing through his body all at once now; heat and chills and what felt like electricity were coursing through his veins. It terrified him.
He broke the kiss, breathing a little heavier than usual, face flushed with heat. He was shaking a little, too, as he pushed Kurogane away lightly with his hands. Oh, how he wanted this man. He'd never felt this way about anyone before, but he could tell exactly what his body was thinking as he unconsciously leaned towards the ninja, faces still far apart enough that he could look into those eyes and see some hurt buried deep within.
Ouch. I haven't seen that look since Infinity…
"What's wrong?" Kurogane asked, slight frown on his features, arms still loosely in position. "I thought this was what you wanted."
"I do," Fai replied quickly, so quickly that he knew it wasn't a lie. "I do, it's just that- that I've never done -this- before, and I've spent most of my life running away from people. I'm just not used to this level of intimacy, you know, and that was a little too… sudden…"
Kurogane's eyes widened slightly in understanding, and he nodded, fingers flexing against Fai's skin. The vampire shivered, heat rushing to various places as the ninja leaned forwards slowly, capturing his lips in a way so gentle that Fai almost had to break the kiss to check if this was the same brash Kuro-pon he'd grown to love.
And this time it was a perfect melding of their lips, slow and easy at first, gradually becoming something more urgent and passionate as Fai relaxed in the ninja's grip. His hands fisted the fabric of the ninja's yukata as he had done earlier, only this time his feelings were returned and everything was right with the world. Just for a moment, one spectacular moment, he could forget that they were about to face the hardest battle of their lives, and be lost in the feeling of those lips moving over his.
When they broke apart this time it was to catch their breath, and not because Fai was too afraid to let someone in. He clung to the ninja's large frame, wrapping his arms around his middle as he burrowed his face into his warm chest. Kurogane responded in kind, arms tight around the lithe frame, chin resting on the vampire's head, breathing in the scent of his hair.
The ex-mage froze up at the sound of his name carried on that voice; it was an unfamiliar sound, but he was so used to the name now, after all those years of living for his brother. His fingers unconsciously clenched against the ninja's back.
"I'm not going anywhere, okay?" Kurogane continued, half mumbling into the golden strands beneath his face.
Fai took several moments to comprehend the weight of what was being said. The implications of those simple words extended far beyond tonight, he could tell. Kurogane was going to stay with him- with him- and there was no lie because it was being spoken by a man who always spoke the truth. It was the second time in his life that someone had promised not to abandon him, but the first time that he knew with absolute certainty that this person would keep that promise.
"I know." He finally replied, so softly that normal people would have missed it. But the ninja was anything but normal.
He felt the ninja's mouth curve into a smile where it caressed the top of his head.