L-chan's notes: Ever get an idea that just won't go away? I wanted to save this until I got some other things updated, but, to heck with it. I hope you enjoy it. ^_^
Disclaimer: Oh, how I wish I had some claim to these characters. Until that day comes, they are the property of CLAMP.
Fun and Games
"No, no, no!"
The loud cries of defeat came from the living room, and Yue winced inwardly as his hypersensitive hearing picked up the continued noise. His feet touched the ground again after transforming from Yukito's appearance, but he remained fixed in his position in the Kinomoto home's entry, wondering if he dared seek out his agitated brother.
Yue sighed, and though he was not a curious being by nature, he followed the sounds to the living room. As he suspected, he found Kero sitting on the sofa with his video game system set up on the table in front of him. The game's images were displayed on the television, and the taunting words "You Lose" flashed as a solemn dirge droned in the background.
"Must you shout?"
Kero should have detected the other Guardian's presence, but he was distracted and upset by his most recent loss. This afternoon's marathon of gaming had not gone well. "Must you sneak up on people?" he retorted sarcastically. "Geez, Yue, sometimes I think we should tie a bell around your neck."
"If you are not alerted to your surroundings, that is not my fault."
His sibling was not in the mood to argue over who was more vigilant. His plush form floated in the air to meet the taller being's gaze. "How did you get in here, anyway?"
"Yukito has a key. The brother gave it to him."
"Ah, of course," Kero mused, his tone implying that he knew the reason for the bestowing of the key. "But the brother is at work. Which you should have known from stalking him."
"I do not stalk him," Yue answered with a defensive edge to his quiet voice. "I am here to see the Mistress."
"She's not here, either. She had to run errands for the father."
"Then I will wait, if I may."
"Whatever lights your candle," Kero answered dismissively. He returned to his seat on the sofa and restarted his game. After a few minutes of uninterrupted playing, he noticed he was still alone on the sofa. He hovered again and saw Yue still standing in the doorway, his arms folded and his eyes closed. "Aren't you going to sit down?"
One silver eye opened, and though Yue's calm expression didn't change, his annoyance was evident. "I don't sit."
"'I don't sit,'" Kero mimicked. "'Sitting is for the weak.'" He rolled his little beady eyes, a not uncommon response when dealing with his uptight sibling. "Maybe if you didn't have that giant stick up your—"
Yue sat. "Happy?"
"Ecstatic," Kero replied, again echoing Yue's flat tone. "I was beginning to wonder if you could even bend at the waist."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing. It's a joke." At Yue's blank stare, Kero elaborated. "A joke. A statement of humorous intent. Some people find them funny. People with personalities. I can see how it would confuse you."
"I know what a joke is."
"Okay. How do you stop Fight from charging?" Another blank stare. "Take away her credit card. If Silent falls in the woods, does she make a sound?" Nothing. "Windy, Watery, and Firey walk into a bar. The bartender says—"
"Do the Cards know that you are making fun of them?"
"The Cards made these up! They know how to have a good time." Kero looked at his brother with a mix of irritation and incredulity. "I'll never know how Clow could create someone with absolutely no sense of fun."
"I know how to have fun," Yue said dryly.
"Oh? Name one thing you do for fun."
The large clock in the living room ticked away the seconds, no more loudly than usual, but each tick echoed in the silent space. The two Guardians were completely still, regarding each other with impassive expressions as Yue searched his mind for an activity which would fulfill Kero's definition of fun.
"Didn't know that would be such a stumper," Kero finally drawled. "All right. For only half as many points, name something Yuki-usagi does for fun."
"That doesn't count," Yue answered. "That dope thinks everything is fun. He even enjoys raking leaves and washing dishes."
"How horrible that must be for you," Kero said with false sugary sympathy. "Imagine having to share your body with someone who actually finds joy in living. I don't know how you stand it."
Yue raised a silver eyebrow but said nothing. Truth be known, it was rather tedious, having to endure his false form's bottomless wellspring of enthusiasm for every little mundane activity. Sometimes he thought that if he could strangle himself, he would.
Kero tried another tactic. "What about when Sakura uses Create to conjure up monsters for us to fight? That's fun."
"That's training," Yue corrected him. "Two lazy and unprepared Guardians are of no use to the Mistress."
The Sun Guardian pointedly ignored the implication that he was lazy. "She thinks it's fun," he pouted.
"She is a child."
Kero was not about to give up on his brother. There had to be something he would enjoy. Finding it was the challenge. No, challenges were no fun. It was... a game. "That's it!"
Yue jumped only slightly at the sudden outburst. "Please don't shout. Not only is it unnecessary, it is unbecoming a Guardian of the Cards."
"No, you don't get it," Kero continued, again ignoring Yue's passive-aggressive lecturing. After so many centuries of the same lecture, neither of them had made any attempt to change. "I know something you'll find fun. Video games!" The answer had been sitting right in front of them all this time.
A pair of bored, silver cat's eyes rolled as far back as their owner would allow. "Video games?" Yue's tone was unconvinced, and he was wearing an "oh, please" expression.
"Come on," his sibling goaded, hovering in the air and fluttering his wings like a coquettish girl would flutter her eyelashes. "No one ever plays with me." His round face showed his best "poor, poor, pitiful me" expression. Yue was not moved in the slightest. Kero exaggerated his pout and said in a small, sad voice, "Clow would have played with me."
That was true. Clow had always equally divided his time and interests between his Guardians. He would engage in frivolous playtime with Kero, and share his quiet, reflective moments with Yue. Yue had never had to find Kero's type of fun, because that was not his purpose. Each of them had fulfilled their master's need for companionship in their own way. But now, Clow was gone.
"Show me this game thing of yours," Yue said in the same bored tone he used for everything else. But he'd suddenly realized that Kero must miss Clow just as much as he did. And if no one would play these games with him, then it was up to Yue to fill the void left by their master. He supposed it was his duty as the older sibling.
How much of that is Touya's influence? he wondered silently. Had he picked up a big-brother complex from his false form's companion?
Kero's mouth split in a wide grin. "All right!" He punched a few buttons on the game console, his little plush paws moving faster than Yue had ever seen when food was not around. There was a great fanfare signaling the restart of the game. "This is called Ultimate Fighting Super Take-Down Action Championship!" Kero exclaimed proudly.
"That is a ridiculously long name for a video game."
"That's part of the fun," Kero explained. "Can you loosen up for five seconds and find the humor in something, please?"
Yue sighed and took the game controller from his brother. "What is the point of this Ultimate Action... whatever?"
Kero pressed a few more buttons, calling up the game character menu on the screen. "You choose a fighter, and then we fight."
"And then what?"
"And then someone wins."
"I still don't see the point."
Now Kero sighed. "There is no point," he said slowly, drawing out each word as if he were explaining this to a small child. "That's why it's fun."
Yue examined the controller in his hand. "This device seems very inefficient. Wouldn't magic work better?"
"It would, but that's not the point."
"You said there was no point."
If Kero had hair, he would be pulling it out by the roots by now. He had a strong urge to grasp a pawful of Yue's silver locks and give them a right tug. "Anyway, before we can start, you have to choose a character." He punched the buttons on his controller and selected a tall, brawny man with wild dark hair and shredded black clothing. His weapon of choice was a gnarly club, and his character statistics showed high rankings in strength and attack force.
"There. Is that right?" Yue had selected a slim woman with flowing white hair and a revealing red sarong. Her weapon was an ancient-looking scythe, and she ranked high in speed and defensive blocking.
"That's a girl."
"Never mind." There was no use explaining what choosing a female character said about the player. "Okay, look. See this button? That's to attack. And this one? That's to jump. These buttons move you left and right. Now, if you press this one and this one at the same time...."
Kero demonstrated the intricacies of combining the buttons for stronger attacks until Yue's eyes almost glazed over. "So, basically, this is an exercise in hand-eye coordination."
"No, it's fun!" Kero wanted to shout. But he thought better of it. The first step was just getting Yue to play. "Yes. If that's how you want to think of it, then that's exactly what it is. It's like training. This will help us protect Sakura and the Cards."
Now Yue looked sincerely interested for the first time. "Why didn't you say so? Let's begin the first scenario."
It lasted all of eight seconds. The woman in the red sarong was lying on the ground, and the brawny man raised his club in triumph as the music of victory swelled.
"What happened?" Yue asked.
"I kicked your ass," Kero said, but he sounded disappointed. "Not as satisfying as I always imagined it would be. Let's play again."
This time, it took thirteen seconds for the woman to hit the ground in a lifeless slump. The man was just as excited as before, not at all ashamed of beating up on a girl.
"Dude, you suck at this game."
Violet fire flashed in Yue's silver eyes. He would not be defeated by Kerberos. He would not be taunted. "I dare you to say that again."
A manic grin crossed Kero's face. "You suck."
Yue gripped the game controller in his hands. "I warned you." He pushed the appropriate buttons and focused his eyes on the television screen. "Prepare to meet your doom."
"No, no, no!"
Sakura giggled as she stepped out of her shoes. Kero had been playing that video game all afternoon, and it didn't sound like he'd made any progress. She shifted the grocery sack in her arms and looked for the pudding she'd bought for him. Maybe that would cheer him up. She found the chocolate treats at the bottom of the bag, but her hand froze when she heard another familiar voice.
"Aw, yeah! I own you!"
It couldn't be. There was no way on earth....
She peered warily into the living room. Kero was sitting on the back of the sofa, his paws over his face as he shook his head sadly. Next to him, Yue looked as if he were just barely restraining himself from flying around the room in a victory lap.
"Who sucks at this game, Kerberos?" Yue asked, something very close to gloating in his voice. "Who?"
"What?" Yue cupped a pale hand around his ear. "Can't hear you, little brother."
"I do! I do!" Kero said loudly. "Geez, it's just a game."
The Guardians turned around sheepishly and faced their mistress. Yue stiffened at her indulgent expression, embarrassed to be caught acting in such an undignified manner. Kero, on the other hand, used this opportunity to get all the sympathy he could.
"Sakura!" His little plush body flew over to where she was standing. "I just wanted to play my game, but then Yue came over, and I thought I'd show him how to play, but—"
Sakura's green eyes panned over to Yue, who gave her a look so innocent that she saw right through it. "That's all right, Kero-chan," she said soothingly, cutting off her small Guardian in mid-rant. She knew he could work himself up into quite a state if she let him go on too long. "Let's get you a treat, and you can tell me all about mean old Yue-san."
Yue's mouth opened in shock. He was not going to be the villain in all this. He wanted to protest, but no sound came out. All those years of self-control and respecting the owner of the Cards would not let him speak out of turn. That was something Kero had never learned.
"You, too, Yue-san." He looked at his mistress with confusion, and she smiled at him. "I know I won't get the real story from Kero-chan. You can tell me what really happened." Then she gave him a little wink as Kero sputtered about how unfair that was and how Yue was always the favorite. Yue felt one corner of his mouth twitch, and it took every bit of determination he had to keep it from turning into a full smile. His stoic image had suffered enough damage for one day.
He started to follow them into the kitchen when a yellow blur came whizzing toward him. "Hey, Yue," Kero whispered. "I saw what Sakura bought at the grocery store. If you think you can handle it, I'll introduce you to another of life's great pleasures."
For the second time that day, the Moon Guardian's previously non-existent sense of curiosity was piqued, although he took great care not to let it show. "And what might that be?"
Kero rubbed his paws together in gleeful anticipation. "Pudding."