There is snow collecting over Fai's heart, the way it was before, and he realises that he doesn't want it there any more.
Fai couldn't help but think that no world he had ever been on had snowed as much as his homeland did. Nowhere else had he been so alone, so broken. It was fitting, in an ironic way. But then, here he didn't have /him/: the one thing that had kept him sane, away from this place. He could not bring himself to call it "home".
He missed his coat, tattoo and staff, things that carried him as he carried them with him. He missed Chii, in all her innocence and attempts to cheer him up. But most of all, he missed /him/. Missed him to the point of tears, staring out at the frozen wasteland that had formerly been so full of life. Missed his eternal grumpiness, his friendly violence. Being able to reach out and touch him whenever he felt himself drifting.
There was nothing left for him here, so why was he here at all?
That thought had circled around his head for well on a month now. At first he had seeped himself in the history, the memories. He could sit in the throne room, seemingly in a drugged trance, just staring into space for hours or days on end. He wouldn't move until the real world wormed, unwelcome, into his sanctuary with the onset of hunger or cold.
Either they were memories of this castle and the king who had ruled from it, or the memories of /him/. Of quick, bruising grips, of equally bruising glares, of a quick tongue and dark eyes the color of blood under moonlight. The blond would sit, wrapped in a scarf that still held the heavy smell of him, in the window and watch the snow fall, pretending he was somewhere else - somewhere where his trance would be broken by a high, sparkling laugh, a quiet encouragement, and the bark of a warrior. Fai had made the scarf for him in one of the worlds they had visited after driving him near mad with the clicking of the knitting needles. He had worn it on that world, during the cold nights.
It was too much.
He was going mad. There was no warmth here. And the worst part of it all was, he knew where his warmth had gone. Where his life had gone.
"I thought I had seen the last of you."
"Same to you."
She looked at him like she already knew.
"It will cost you."
He was desperate. He had spent all his willpower, striving for weeks not to give in to the urge, but now he was broken and all of it was spent.
"Take the world. Take all of it. I'll never come back."
Even as he said it, he knew it was not enough. Her hand flickered in a sign of dismissal.
"This is worth nothing to you now. Equal trade, mage."
Nothing was worth as much to him as this did, now.
"I am too old, too jaded to make the same promise as the child did, Witch."
He was striving for more than just life - he was striving for love. Not like Sayoran had been with his precious princess. The Dimension Witch knew this and her eyes flashed with amusement.
"Who would have known that this would happen, at the end of it all? Your magic will suffice, Mage. When you arrive in his world, you will only be a man, nothing more. You may try to regain your powers, but you will feel the same pain as you did the first time, multiplied to infinity."
He bowed his head. It was fair; fair, and painful like nothing else. The essence of his being, ripped away. He knew he was screaming, and felt the cold stone under his hands as he knelt before the mirror. And then it was done, the sweat already drying on his skin.
A strange feeling came over him - mortality. He was /vulnerable/, like never before. Even when fleeing from Ashura across worlds, he had at least had his magic, a last resort. Even if he knew he would be captured, tortured, he could rely on that much to kill himself with.
He looked up and she was waiting, a cold, black and formidable figure. The now-familiar twisting of the world around him, this time without Mokona to follow or people to hold on to, just himself, all alone, the bending of the fabric of his world, folding around him and the knowledge of terrible speed.
And he was there.
"Welcome to Japan, Flowright-san. The Witch warned me of your arrival."
A throne room, not his own. Dizziness, an inability to stand straight. Heavy hands on his shoulders. So this was Tomoyo-chan, as she was in Kurogane's world. And finally his eyes resolved on the figure standing in front of him, holding him upright as his vision began to fade.
"Kuro-chan..." he sighed and slumped forward, unconscious, a smile on his face at last at the incredible, beautiful warmth.
Afterwards was the awakening ache, the blinding joy of realization. The first fumbling, intense kiss that send the female servants skittering with squeals and giggles, the tears from a pleasure so profound that it mirrored completely his agony of before.
And Fai knew that whatever cold he had endured, whatever parts of his heart had become frostbitten in the pain of loneliness, would all thaw in this overwhelming warmth.