Author: FarenMaddox PM
A Tsubasa AU in a steampunk setting. Fai is an engineer, Kurogane a soldier. Kurogane was sent home with only one arm, and Fai built him a new one. Coming together will expose all their carefully guarded secrets and may just change the course of the war.Rated: Fiction M - English - Sci-Fi/Romance - Fai & Kurogane - Chapters: 6 - Words: 55,575 - Reviews: 161 - Favs: 157 - Follows: 201 - Updated: 02-12-12 - Published: 02-25-11 - id: 6777977
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Okay, um, so . . .
This is another fic inspired by the lovely Bottan/Konnichipuu and her brilliant artwork. She has two pictures of Steampunk Tsubasa goodness, which can be found at
http:/ konnichipuu .deviantart. com/art/TRC-Steampunks-196930672
http:/ konnichipuu .deviantart. com/art/Steampunk-Love-197569056
I wanted to write something for her as soon as I saw it, but it took me a while to come up with a good idea. Then I ran into even more problems because I don't know anything about writing steam punk. I am not mechanically minded, and therefore it was stupid of me to make the main character an engineer. But I was determined to write it, so I kept going even with my very amateur understanding of the whole thing.
Then while I was in the midst of struggling, Uakari came up with a WAAAAAAY better fic
www .fanfiction. net/s/6763697/1/
and I gave up in despair. Because hers is fantastic. But then Uakari said I should do it anyway. So I did. I honestly have no idea if what I wrote is any good, or if it's just crap. I've never felt so insecure about my work before. But at last, for better or worse, I can present to you . . .
He heard the door crash open, even over the noise of the furnace he was stoking. For one panicked second, he was sick with certainty that they'd found him and come to take him away. He wouldn't struggle, he decided, because he didn't want Syaoran to see the workshop in a wreck and guess what had happened.
But nobody came, and certainly not with manacles. He quickly threw a sheet of canvas over his work and walked toward the front of the shop, where the counter to greet customers was. He peered around the corner and saw that the door had well and truly crashed open, leaving a nice big split down the wood.
"Smith!" roared the towering black-haired man who had caused the damage. "Where the hell are you?"
Another man might have ducked under the counter and pretended to be out to lunch. But this particular engineer was what they called "eccentric" (among other things), and he bounded around the corner with a grin on his face.
"If it isn't my favourite customer!" he said with delight. "How are you, Kuro-tan?"
"Call me by my name, Smith!"
Fai just laughed as he pushed down his soldering goggles to hang around his neck. Usually people were sort of intimidated when he came around the corner, back-lit by reddish light from the furnace and with wisps of coal smoke coiled around him, but this man was never intimidated by anything. He also had no manners, referring to a royally-appointed engineer with the slang term "smith."
"What can I do for you?"
"You can start by explaining how I'm supposed to guard anything with this!"
"This" referred to, he assumed, the magnificent creation Fai had designed—the gleaming bronze arm that was currently dangling uselessly at Kurogane's side. The only thing being emitted from the steam valves was a pathetic ooze of gritty oil.
"Club people over the head with it?" he suggested mildly. And 3-2-
"I'll club you over the head, you miserable excuse for a smith! Just fix the damn thing!"
Fai already knew what the problem was, and it certainly wasn't his workmanship (which was, of course, masterful). The truth was in the grittiness of the leaking oil. The first time he'd met this arrogant palace guard, he'd pegged him as the type to ignore that he even had a false arm as much as possible. Nothing about the next few weeks of consulting and assembly had convinced him any differently. He hadn't heard from the man for two months, but he'd been counting on it being soon.
"You haven't oiled it once, have you?" Fai sighed.
"I have so!"
Fai raised one eyebrow.
"That's what I thought. Take it off."
"Off. O-F-F. Take the arm off. If you haven't been oiling it, then the piston in the elbow has been rattling around in there and probably breaking half the parts. If nothing else, the piston itself is broken. I'll have to replace it."
Kurogane looked, if anything, even more upset than he had a few moments ago when he'd broken the door.
"And since I don't have a spare piston for a one-of-a-kind design, I may have to create a new one. You'll have the privilege of my company all afternoon, Kuro-rin!"
"Privilege is not the word I'd use," Kurogane said through gritted teeth.
"The pleasure, then," Fai said, drawing the phrase out rather lusciously. "Either way, take your shirt off."
"Why my shirt?" Kurogane squawked.
"My dear man, you may have noticed, you put the shirt on over the arm. You'll have to remove one to get to the other."
Kurogane's face went a deep red colour that was nearly purple, but Fai was clearly correct. He reached reluctantly to untuck his shirt, but Fai waved his hands in a (pretend) panic.
"Not here!" he cried. "Come around the corner! I won't have anyone walking in and thinking there's anything unsavory happening in my workshop!"
"You can take unsavory and shove it right up your ass!" Kurogane hollered at him.
Fai nearly choked to death on his laughter as he hustled Kurogane into his work area, ignoring the heat and smoke. "Is that an offer, Kuro-bun?"
"Is what an—you idiot! This is harassment! I'm going to tell the princess that she's got a creep on her staff!"
"Well, don't tell her you're a creep, she'll fire you," Fai said distractedly, checking to make sure that the canvas he'd hastily thrown over his secret work hadn't fallen off.
"I'm talking about you, moron!"
"I do so love to be talked about," he smiled, making a hurry-up gesture. "Come now, your shirt will not remove itself and I do have other work to do."
Kurogane just stared at him for a minute before he yanked his shirt off. "You have no subtlety, do you?" he growled, voice muffled by the fabric.
"None whatsoever," Fai said cheerfully, taking the shirt and throwing it over the back of a chair, but not before fanning himself dramatically with the sleeve and smirking. He knew Kurogane worked hard to keep his body in good shape but—well.
Kurogane stood there awkwardly, fingers twitching half-heartedly and his face darkening with colour again. Fai may not have any subtlety, but he did have a heart, or at least something resembling one. He granted the man a modicum of privacy by turning to his cluttered work table to rifle through the spare parts he'd been trying to sort . . . for the past several weeks. His apprentice kept trying to clean them, organize them, and put them away, but Fai kept dragging them back out with vague notions of creating a new organizational system he'd be more likely to adhere to.
When he turned back, Kurogane had unbuckled the arm and laid it down on a workbench and had shimmied back into the shirt. Fai didn't tease him. It must be hard enough to live with a piece of copper in place of his arm, no matter how wonderfully it had been crafted—having the scars on full display was too much for a man of Kurogane's pride.
Fai picked up a screwdriver and started dismantling his creation, humming cheerfully.
He knew more than he should about Kurogane's loss. People had a tendency to talk about medical patients like they weren't people, like they didn't have their own opinions on who ought to know about them. Fai had first been visited by Souma, the captain of the palace guards, to see about making the prosthetic. She'd told him. Kurogane had been a soldier in the trenches at Harcourt, and he'd been a hero. They'd unleashed one of the new continuous-fire, wheel-mounted guns on the Leoran soldiers, and Kurogane had charged them and killed the men cranking it.
He'd saved his men, but the bullets had chewed his arm to shreds and it had to be amputated. He refused to go into retirement, but the princess wouldn't hear of him going back to the front lines, so she had made him one of her personal guards.
Fai had admitted that he was impressed by the dedication the unknown soldier was showing to Leor and his sovereign. He'd started sketching designs immediately, sending his apprentice scrambling for possible parts. He'd had a prototype ready before the man was recovered enough to visit the shop. Unfortunately, the prototype was not even close to the right size. Souma had neglected to mention her amputee was gigantic. Fai was tall, in the way of his people, but the Chrysallians were a slender lot and he'd been unprepared for the breadth of the man. Nor was he prepared for his new customer to be gorgeous. Souma had also failed to mention that.
Of course, then Kurogane had opened his mouth and ruined the whole image. Fai knew living on the war front was a good way to acquire a wealth of foul language, but he hadn't been treated to an intimate knowledge of it until he'd tried to measure Kurogane's still-healing shoulder joint. Fai himself, Fai's line of work, Fai's apprentice, and Fai's hair had all been called words Fai had never heard before.
He refused to conform to the image of dumb soldier, mindlessly doing what he was told, though. Even if Fai wished he would. After cursing Fai out, he'd taken the measurements himself, and presented them to Fai in the most precise handwriting he'd ever seen. He just had to be an enigma, even if he did have a temper and a foul mouth. The princess had done a great deal to civilize Kurogane since then, with limited success.
"Wouldn't this work?" Kurogane asked from behind him.
Fai turned around to see him holding up a small piston-head from a pile of rusty parts on Syaoran's workbench. The boy had been cleaning some of his recent finds. He ambled over and inspected it.
"Almost," he pronounced after a moment. "Too small."
"It's your own fault for being such a giant."
"Heh," Kurogane said, sounding mildly amused. "That is my father's fault, not mine." He tossed the piece back into the pile of scraps, but he continued fingering through them.
"I didn't know you knew anything about mechanics," Fai said, leading him mildly forward into a possible conversation. Then he couldn't resist saying, "I thought you just liked shooting at people."
"I hate shooting at people. Bullets never go where they damn well should. I'll take a sword any day."
"Or a steam-powered dart gun in your arm?" Fai said lazily. "And perhaps a few spring-loaded blades in the wrist?"
"Heh. Yeah. Thanks for the knife, that came in handy."
Don't even ask how, he told himself. "Guns are becoming more reliable by the day, you know. That inventor, Master Mihara— his work is groundbreaking. We could be seeing something automatic soon enough. Gunsmithing is where all the money is, these days."
"Then why aren't you doing it?" Kurogane asked, turning around with a ball joint in his hand and a keen look in his eyes.
"I don't build weapons," Fai said, and turned away.
He thought Kurogane would press him further, but he didn't. Fai relaxed as he resumed dismantling the elbow. Just as he'd thought, the piston was dented horribly and the bracing rod had been knocked completely askew—
"You think if you don't build them, it'll make you feel less guilty for being a Chrysallian?"
Fai couldn't stop the way his spine stiffened, but he forced himself to relax again and bent his head even further over his work. "I didn't know you knew, Kuro-bun."
"Everyone knows, moron. You can darken it up with grease and fill it full of glass, but the hair's still blond under there. Not to mention the accent. And the fact that when a person's hired onto the palace staff they get a warning about not messing around with your shop. Souma thought I'd sabotage it or something."
"I'm grateful you didn't."
"You weren't the one who blew my arm off."
"I'm glad you noticed the distinction."
"Your apprentice told me his parents were killed in the war. Was that to make you feel less guilty, too?"
"I took him in because he has a lot of potential," Fai said sharply.
Kurogane, to his surprise, retreated a bit instead of pushing him any further. He went back to fiddling around with Syaoran's workbench. Fai hoped Syaoran returned in time to see that it was Kurogane doing so—the kid was a bit obsessive about organization and he'd accuse Fai of messing with his things just to tease him. (To be fair, there was precedent for this accusation.)
"Where's the locking pin?" Fai muttered, squinting into the joint. He picked through the mess on his table for a magnifying lens that he could jam into the eyepiece of his goggles, then delved deeper into the stripped-open arm. If the pin had fallen into a gear and gotten something jammed in the actual steam mechanism, he'd kill him. That tiny engine had taken weeks — But it hadn't. There was no locking pin. Oh, damn, there was no locking pin . . .
"What is it?" Kurogane asked, hearing Fai muttering.
"Nothing!" he laughed, unable to help how neurotic he sounded. "You must have really hit something hard, Kuro-pon, to dent it like this!"
"Something hard like the plate that assassin was wearing under his clothes?"
"He was wearing armour under his shirt. That's probably why the damn arm broke."
The real reason it had broken was, apparently, that when Fai worked on something non-stop for near to a month, he started forgetting important pieces. But he wasn't about to tell Kurogane that.
Then what the man had just said caught up with him.
"There was an assassin? Here, in the palace?"
Kurogane was looking at him scornfully. "Why the hell do you think she employs bodyguards? The Chrysallians have tried this half a dozen times by now."
"Ah ha ha, good point," he laughed weakly. Please, let it not be . . . "Did you get a good look at him?"
"Of course I did, I arrested him. He's going to be executed."
Fai's stomach clenched, and he couldn't even pretend he was still working. He just gripped his screwdriver like it was anchoring him to the earth.
"Afraid it's someone you know?" he drawled.
Damn him, damn him to the depths, he's just a stupid soldier, all brawn and no brains, he's—
"He was tall and skinny, you people always are. And blond, of course. Half his teeth were rotten and his breath stank like cheap tobacco. Name was Dell or Fell or something . . ."
No. No, it wasn't him. Fai's stomach unclenched, and he managed to pry the screwdriver out of his hand and lay it down.
"What are you doing over there?" he asked with an effort at sounding casual. "I doubt my apprentice will appreciate having all his things destroyed by a block-headed soldier."
"Watch who you're calling block-head," he muttered. "Like you haven't steamed your brain into oatmeal by now."
Fai flicked his eyes over and found, to his surprise, that Kurogane had stretched out a polishing cloth on two long, thick metal strips and was cleaning the rusty parts on Syaoran's bench by rubbing them vigorously on the cloth.
"He probably will appreciate that, though," Fai said with a smile.
"So what are these for?" Kurogane asked, indicating the long pieces he had wrapped the cloth around.
"Legs," Fai said diffidently.
"You're building somebody a leg now?"
"No, legs, plural," Fai said. He looked up with a grin. "Can you keep a secret, Kuro-pu?"
"Can you call me by my name, you asshole?" Fai stood up. "I'm being serious now, Kurogane," he said. "This is top-secret. I'm working on my own free time and buying the parts with my own money. Syaoran and I are the only ones who know about my little project."
Kurogane's brows lifted. "Then why would you show me?"
"Because you're so trustworthy, Kuro-pu!" he said cheerfully, walking toward the grease-stained canvas that covered his pet project. Why was he showing this to Kurogane? Why would he do something like this? It was true that the man was attractive and interesting and strong. He didn't ask for pity. And he didn't show any to Fai over this whole issue of being a Chrysallian living in Leor. He was a man you could entrust with a secret, certainly. And it was so rare that Fai had a secret as nice as this one . . . By heaven and all its angels, was he trying to get Kurogane to like him?
He whipped the canvas off. "Bur-bur-bur-BUR!" he said, making vaguely trumpet-like noises to create fanfare.
His efforts went unappreciated, as Kurogane took a moment to glare at him for the noise before turning his attention to what Fai had revealed.
"Great. It's a— what the hell is this junk?"
"This is not junk," Fai said, feigning to be deeply wounded, placing a hand over his heart. "This is the prototype model for my Street-Standard Semi-Automatic Waste Incinerator."
"Your . . ."
"Trash spider," Fai supplied.
Kurogane looked over the big round body of the thing with new eyes. "You add the legs to this and let it crawl around collecting trash?"
"Obviously it needs an operator, but that's the idea."
"What makes it Semi-Automatic, then?"
"I'm building a mechanism into the top so that when it gets full, it starts the incineration process. And the bottom of the body is fully hinged so the ashes can be dumped and the inside easily cleaned. The operator just has to direct the arms."
"You won't build a weapon, but you'll build a trash spider?"
"I can't be the only one who's noticed how bad the refuse problem is getting in the city. I'm just the only D-Class Engineer who's not busy playing with gunpowder," he sniffed.
"Why are you so concerned with the city's waste problem?"
Fai shrugged, rather surprised by the question. D-Class Engineer serving the royal court of Leor—it was kind of beneath him, now that he thought about it. "Just because I live in the palace doesn't mean it's not my city."
It was his city, he'd lived here for years and if Kurogane said one damn word about him being an expatriate . . .
"You really like it here, don't you."
He'd gone back to polishing Syaoran's scraps, and he hadn't even bothered to make it a question. Fai blew out a breath, and picked up the bracing rod. There was a jagged scratch from the broken piston that he wanted to smooth away. He put his goggles back on in case a stray spark jumped off the metal while he was filing it.
"I have a nice life," he said quietly, not sure if Kurogane could even hear him. "In a country that defends the weak instead of enslaving them. People leave me alone and I enjoy my work. The princess treats me well. Yes. I like it here."
"You don't ask for much, do you?"
"Do you get to write to your family?"
Fai rasped the file over the metal with perhaps more force than necessary. "What makes you think I have a family to write to?"
"Tch. You had one at some point. Are they dead?"
This man had no manners. No tact. No compassion. Stupid soldiers with nothing but rifles on their brains . . .
"No, they're alive. But what on earth would I say to them? Sorry I ran off, it's just that I think you're all heartless fools, ordering good men to die in a pointless war because you don't think the economy can handle the collapse of the slave trade. Write soon. Love, Fai."
His bitter rant finished, he threw down the file with disgust and picked up the much-abused piston. It was possible that he could heat it up and stretch it back into shape. If he was very, very careful. Although it would be a lot easier to just make a new one.
"You know," Kurogane said, sounding thoughtful. "You should be more careful about telling people what your family is ordering men to do, unless you want them to guess you're the missing prince."
Fai froze completely for a moment. He hadn't— Oh, yes, he had. Maybe the steam really was going to his head, because how could he have been stupid enough to blurt that out like he wanted Kurogane to know . . .
"You don't seem very surprised," he managed to squeeze past the lump in his throat.
"I'm not," he said, and proved it by resuming his polishing.
"You're a very interesting person, Kuro-pon."
"I would be if that was my name, you-damn-gearhead." He made it sound like it was all one word.
"Well, that's hardly my name, either," he said with a weak chuckle. Was Kurogane really going to treat this like it was no matter at all? He'd just discovered the exiled Chrysallian prince, living right under everyone's noses. Shouldn't he be telling the town crier or something? The princess wouldn't be happy, she was supposed to be the only one who knew.
"I'm surprised you're any good at this," Kurogane said after a moment. "I didn't think a prince would know how to get his hands dirty."
Fai looked with some small amount of amusement at his hands. They were grease-stained and calloused, with an oozing cut on the back of the left and the thumbnail of the right black with bruising. They were pretty dirty, all right.
"I used to sneak out of my music lessons when I was a child to go visit our smith," he admitted. "By the time my father found out I was doing it, I'd already become quite gifted."
"So he didn't mind?"
"He put me to work," Fai whispered.
And he'd done such wonderful work, hadn't he? Such lovely, destructive work. He'd been horrified when the first reports on his gun came back from the front. It worked perfectly. Just turn the crank and watch bullets spray into your enemies. The next step, clearly, was the make the crank steam-powered, but Fai hadn't done it. That was when he'd made his decision. That was when he'd run. Why, oh why hadn't he had the strength to run before his father had gotten so much use out of him?
"One of my creations blew your arm off," he said dully. He was usually such a good liar. Even Souma didn't know, and she'd been the one to tell him his new customer had been injured by the thing. He hadn't reacted, not even a little. What had happened? Why couldn't he lie to Kurogane?
"Well, it's not like you were the one shooting it," Kurogane said. He had planted his boot on the bench and was attempting to hold a cog in place and attach a double-head screw. After a moment of standing there, not believing that the man could be so understanding and forgiving about the whole thing, Fai walked over and took the parts from him. "Hey!" he shouted.
His work table had a couple of clamps he sometimes used to hold a part in place if he needed both hands for a delicate bit of work. He put the part into a clamp, spun the threaded rod to tighten it, and handed the screw back to Kurogane. Kurogane just stared at him for a minute, then snorted with amusement.
"You should get a portrait done to send back to them. They wouldn't even know it was you."
He constantly had to bandage one burn or another. His simple clothes were permanently covered in grease, sweat, and scorch marks. He had at least half a dozen piercings in his ears by now. He'd started twisting his hair into these knots to keep it from getting in the way, but he did love adding in the glass beads. His work had provided him with so many small ways to disguise himself.
"Believe it or not, I used to comb my hair," he grinned.
"I don't believe it," Kurogane said promptly, while Fai was trying to remember if he was telling the truth or not. "It wouldn't even suit you."
"How do you know what suits me?" Fai asked, mystified.
"This does," Kurogane shrugged, gesturing briefly at him. "You look like a gearhead. You're happy here, right? So do what makes you happy. Look however you want to look."
Fai gaped at him for a moment, then turned away quickly. He'd never heard anything like that before. It wasn't something you could say to a prince. It probably wouldn't do if Kurogane noticed that saying a simple thing like that had just made Fai fall irrevocably in love with him. Not to mention lustful. He wanted Kurogane. Now. And maybe forever. But he definitely wanted.
The back door swung open, spilling fresh sunlight into the room and making them squint.
"Fai, I'm back!"
Fai resisted his urge to cry out in thanks for his rescue and instead just smiled at his apprentice.
"Welcome back, Syaoran," he said casually, wandering over to the door and holding it so Syaoran could stagger inside with his full basket. "How was the scrap market?"
"Great!" he said enthusiastically. "I found that flywheel you wanted! And look! Somebody was selling a bunch of different pistons, so I got a few. I found one that's the same size as the one you put in that guard's arm! You said he was stupid and he'd never oil it and you'd have to replace a bunch of parts later, so I thought I should pick it up. And there was loads of copper wire, so I got—" The boy saw Kurogane and stopped talking. "Uh . . ." His face flushed as he realized the man he'd just been bad-mouthing was in the room. "I, uh, I—"
"Good news, Kuro-rin! Syaoran got the part I needed!" Fai said enthusiastically.
Syaoran made a sort of chirping noise that could be interpreted as an attempt to apologize, and quickly scurried over the cupboards where they kept most of their supplies. He busied himself with putting away his purchases so he could keep his head down.
"It's okay, he keeps calling me gearhead so he deserves it," Fai said. Then he rather ostentatiously looked at the clock on the wall. "My, my, look at that! By the time we get all this sorted out, it'll be much too late in the day to work on your arm anymore!"
Kurogane glared at him. "Don't even joke, smith. I'm on leave until I get this fixed."
"You mean you don't have to go to work tomorrow? Even better! I have a bottle of five-year-old brandy I've been dying to open, and I've been waiting for the right occasion."
"Smith," Kurogane growled, striding up to him and grabbing a handful of his shirt in his big fist. "Fix it."
Syaoran had turned around and had his mouth open to protest the guard's rough treatment of his master, but Fai shook his head and grinned. Syaoran seemed to decide that meant the two of them needed privacy.
"I'm going over to the kitchens to get us something for dinner, Fai!" he nearly shouted, racing around the corner and making his retreat. Fai waited a beat, and grinned when he heard, "Did you know the door's broken?" before it slammed shut.
"The arm really does need a lot of work," Fai said with sobriety. "I'll be up all night. You might as well go back to your barracks and come back in the morning."
"Tch," was Kurogane's answer, letting go of him. "I'm not going back without the arm."
He couldn't be seen as an amputee, Fai realized. The other guards didn't think of him as weak because he had a copper arm that was almost magically functional. If he showed up with nothing but an empty sleeve, they would think less of him. Or at least he assumed they would. Fai didn't see how they could underestimate him, but he could understand why Kurogane didn't want to have to prove himself.
"I'll get right to work, then," Fai said grandly. He went over to the cupboards and started picking out the supplies he was going to need. "The door to our rooms is just behind the counter out front, so please feel free to use my bed if you get tired."
Kurogane was still standing there when he turned around with his hands full of materials.
"Aren't you at least going to wait until after you eat?"
"I thought you wanted it as soon as possible," Fai returned, raising an eyebrow at him.
"I thought you were exaggerating. I didn't know it would take you all night."
"I'm giving myself some wiggle room so you don't panic."
"Tch. Just wait until tomorrow, then. It's fine. Souma isn't expecting me back for a couple of days anyway."
"You certainly have a hard time making up your mind, Kuro-tan," Fai laughed. "First you want it immediately, then you want—"
"You won't do your best work when you're tired. That's all," Kurogane grunted.
"Indeed," Fai said. Now that Kurogane mentioned it, he did feel rather tired all of a sudden. He felt like he'd been walking a tightrope from the moment the man had stepped into the room. "Well, you don't need to force yourself to spend any more time with the annoying gearhead, you know. If you're not going back to the barracks, there are plenty of other places in the palace."
"So you're not going to share the brandy."
Fai felt something akin to desperation when Kurogane said that. His eyes were so piercing, like he could look right into him and see everything about his life. Perhaps he could. Was it so hard to see through his façade, if a person cared to look?
He was a master engineer with a busy schedule, so nobody bothered him. Nobody. It was true that people could tell what he was, and attempts to make idle chatter with shopkeepers in the city tended to be cut short. Don't talk to the Chrysallian. He had a wonderful apprentice; Syaoran was a great kid. A child, just a boy. If he opened his mouth to make a joke right now, it wouldn't come out because the words I'm lonely were crawling up his throat and trying to get out.
He was just a stupid soldier. He couldn't possibly see all that.
Fai turned around. "If you're that desperate for a drink, I suppose I can oblige," he said, his teasing half-hearted at best. "But it's really more of an after-dinner drink, if you can wait that long. I'd better get the shop straightened up and stir down the fire before Syaoran gets back."
Kurogane silently went to the furnace and began banking the fire for the night, carefully burying a pile of embers to be stoked in the morning. Fai kept his back turned to the other man, trying to tell himself that it didn't mean anything. Kurogane was only here because he had work for Fai. That he was eating dinner here and possibly sleeping here didn't mean anything.
At least, it didn't mean anything to Kurogane. But Fai . . . He felt exposed by the man. He just wasn't sure if that was a bad thing or not. Fai tried to cover up the desperate wanting of him with a sense of misguided anger toward the man.
Kurogane was nobody, really. He was just another victim of Harcourt. Where had he gotten the idea that he was allowed to be so damn special?
Coming soon . . . Kurogane drinks too much and makes odd decisions