The feathers have all been found, and so Sakura and Syaoran return to Clow. But Kurogane and Fai still have wishes to be fulfilled, and Kurogane's is easier than Fai's... (Slight AU, Kuro/Tomoyo, u...
I do not own Tsubasa, it and all its characters belong to the wonderful CLAMP. I only borrow.
Inspired (somehow) by /Behind These Hazel Eyes/, by Kelly Clarkson.
It was a wonderful journey, one that Fai would forever hold dear to his heart. For once in his life, he really had friends. He could feel Sakura and Syaoran and Mokona's warmth melting the ice that he'd built around his heart, making him laugh again. For once, Fai really had friends.
And to his surprise, he found himself falling in love with Kurogane.
Not the painful, starved, half-forced monster of a thing that he felt for Ashura, oh no. He'd been taught to love Ashura. With Kurogane he just... did.
Of course, the samaurai seemed utterly oblivious, but at the beginning that was okay. Fai loved to tease him, loved to glomp him and hug him and pretend it was only jest. At least that way he could be close to him, or at least until Kuro-pii got room to draw his sword.
Syaoran and Sakura were still children, and though they seemed to be falling in love with each other despite Sakura's impaired memories, they never even glimpsed Fai's true feelings. Kurogane had a head about as thick as lead, and Mokona... Well, Mokona wouldn't tell.
And Fai began to relax, began to let himself enjoy their travels, their companionship, and that was his mistake.
Because everything good must always end.
Two and a half years after they set out together, they found another feather, and then Mokona... stopped.
"There are no more." It almost sounded puzzled. A call to the witch Yuuko confirmed it. All of Sakura's feathers were found, her memory was as complete as it would ever be. And they'd discovered the true lesson that Yuuko meant for them to learn, which was that even if Sakura lacked her old memories of Syaoran, she had new ones, and he was still the same man. They could still be in love, and they were.
So Mokona took them back to Clow.
Fai had hung back during the inevitable tearful reunion with Clow's king, and though he caught the High Priest giving him long, searching looks, the young man never came to speak with him, for which Fai was grateful. They stayed in Clow for nearly a month, at Sakura's insistence, long enough to see her and Syaoran formally betrothed, if not actually married.
But eventually, it was time to move on. Syoaran's quest of finding Sakura's memory may have been over, but Fai's and Kurogane's wishes were both still in effect.
The parting was painful, even though they'd all known it was coming. Sakura had given Kurogane a long, exquisite silk scarf, and made him promise not to forget her. Of course, the samaurai couldn't deny the girl anything, especially when she gave him a /look/.
To a surprised Fai, Sakura had given a huge hug, a kiss on the cheek, and a ring set with a pink facetted stone the exact color of the blossoms she had been named for. Fai had smiled and put it on right away, and hadn't taken it off since.
Syaoran had been much more reserved in his good-byes, but it was clear that they were all going to miss each other.
But there was nothing they could do.
So Mokona and Kurogane and Fai traveled on, and Yuuko took pity and gave them occasional updates about what was happening in Clow. Fai had thrown a slightly morose party on the night of Sakura and Syaoran's wedding, and gotten himself into a state of melancholy drunk that just made Kurogane sigh expressively and roll his eyes and dump ice water over Fai's head.
But eventually, things had settled down again. Without the children to watch over, Fai and Kurogane settled into a comfortable companionship, without quite as much teasing or sniping as before. Fai wondered sometimes what would happen if he got up the courage to tell Kurogane he loved him, but somehow he never did.
Another year passed. Without the need to find feathers, Mokona let them decide when to leave one world for another. Sometimes they stayed a week, sometimes a month.
And again, Fai was content just to be near the one he was quietly growing to adore.
Until even that came crashing down.
Another world past, they found themselves in a thick, mist enshrouded forest. Kurogane began to grumble as Mokona hopped in and out of the fog going 'boo' and Fai wandered after them, watching Kurogane's ass.
Then, several figures dropped out of the treetops to surround them.
Fai smiled and made ready to do his usual dodging routine, and Kurogane growled, drawing his sword. For an instant, all was still until one of the surrounding figures gasped and yanked off his - her - helmet. "Kurogane-san?!"
Fai was treated to the rare sight of Kurogane looking utterly shocked. "Soma!" He looked wildly around at the rest of the ninjas, his eyes wide. "Soma, this is Japan, then?"
She gave him a funny look. "Of course."
Kurogane's eyes lit up, and Fai wondered at the joy he saw there. "Then I'm home? Soma, you have to tell me, how much time has passed since I left? Is Princess Tomoyo well? Has anyone attacked? What has happened since I left?"
Soma took them back to the palace, Fai's heart slowly sinking to his toes all the way there. They were in Kurogane's world, which meant his wish was finished. He would stay here. And Fai would go on. Leaving Syaoran and Sakura had been hard enough...
As soon as they stepped into the throne room, Fai felt his heart break. To anyone else, there would have been no change, but Fai had grown very good at reading Kurogane's expression over the years. As soon as he saw his Princess alive and well, his eyes lit up with such joy and love that suddenly Fai was glad he'd never tried to start a romance with Kurogane. He surely would have been rejected, and this way he had the memories of being Kuro's friend, at least.
Tomoyo made much over him as Kurogane's companion, and installed him in luxurious guest rooms. Kurogane barely noticed. He seemed to have forgotten all about Fai and Mokona in the frenzy of being re-acquainted with the palace, its staff, and his old position as ninja.
So Fai sat alone by the guest room window, looking out over the gardens and wishing he'd never let them get so close. He should have known that everything he loved always left. He should have known that Sakura and Syaoran and Kuro-kan were no exception.
But he'd dared hope, then watched that hope be crushed under the heel of a King of Clow and a Japanese princess.
"Fai..." Mokona snuggled into his lap and tugged on one of his sleeves. "Fai's wish was to not be in his homeland. Fai could ask Yuuko to stay here, with Kurogane."
Fai winced at the very thought. Stay here and watch Kurogane adore someone else? If he thought there was any hope of Kurogane ever loving him, then maybe... but no.
Fai sighed, resting his chin on his hand. "Ashura will still follow me when he wakes, and I have no desire to bring trouble here. Especially not here. Besides, Yuuko-san would likely ask another price for me to stay here, and I have no desire to give up what I now hold most dear."
"Fai's love..." Mokona murmured, then climbed up to Fai's shoulder and snuggled under his chin. "Mokona is sorry..."
Fai pulled his knees up onto the window seat and smiled his mask, cradling Mokona close to his chest. "It's all right, Mokona. It's not your fault."
Mokona looked up at him seriously, and touched a paw to Fai's chest, over his heart. "Fai is sad. Fai has always been sad, ever since Mokona met him, but for awhile it was better. Now it's even worse than when Mokona first met Fai. But Fai never cries. Only smiles, with screaming eyes."
Fai smiled just such a smile. "Sometimes I forget how wise you are, pork bun." His throat seized up at the very name, a grin in black armor swirling through his mind. "...Mokona. I forgot how to cry a very, very long time ago. All my tears got frozen around my heart, until Sakura and Syaoran and Kuro-ta... Kurogane melted them away. But I still can't cry, they only build up inside to drown me, now."
Mokona hugged him. "I'm sorry," it said again.
"I know." Fai patted its head, then stood. A walk in the gardens sounded nice. He managed to find his way downstairs and outside without meeting anyone, and began to wander the grounds. He was sure there were ninjas stationed as guards who saw him, but likely they only saw the strange, silly, scatter-brained foreigner who had returned with Lord Kurogane.
Fai stopped suddenly, watching one of the smaller out buildings across the gardens. Its walls were traditional Japanese paper screens, and lighted from within. Fai could see a figure moving back and forth, tall and broad shouldered as he took off a sword and laid it beside a sleeping pallet, then began to remove armor.
They'd been here three days, and Kurogane had never even asked about them, never come to seek them out. He'd been too caught up in the fact that he was home, back with his beloved Princess and away from the hell of traveling on end.
"...Come on, Mokona. We should go."
Mokona frowned up at Fai, practically radiating distress. "But... Mokona cannot return to the same world twice without special permission from Yuuko-san. Fai might never see Kurogane again!"
Fai smiled, but it was the fake one he used to cover the cracks in his heart, not the genuine one he'd begun to use around Sakura and Syaoran and Kurogane toward the end. He shrugged, careful not to dislodge Mokona from his shoulder. "It seems to be my fate to be alone."
"Fai..." Mokona hugged Fai's neck fiercely, paddling its feet against his shoulder to get closer. "Mokona will never leave Fai, never. Fai will always have Mokona."
"Maybe, unless the witch calls you back." Fai's smile was still sad, but he reached up to pet Mokona's soft fur gently. "But thank you." The glass blue eyes slid back to watch the lighted paper screens, the shadowy silhouette moving behind them. "I wonder..." the magician's voice was wistful. "I wonder if someday he'll realize we're gone, and regret."
"We could stay and see," Mokona said hesitantly, touching Fai's cheek gently with one paw.
"No, Mokona." Fai grinned, but only to hide the fact that his eyes were brimming with tears. "I never belonged here. I was a fool to ever think I could."
Turning away from the lighted windows, he walked away, and they disappeared into another world.