Obligatory once per story disclaimer: I do not own these characters. Fai and Kuro-rin and the rest of them all belong to CLAMP.
Additional Warning: This story is SHOUNEN-AI, or at least it will be. If that's not your cup of tea, then please hit the back button at once and return to your regularly scheduled dose of Tsubasa RC. Thank you. : )
Chapter 1: Masquerade
Pain shot through Fai's shoulder, forcefully awakening him from his heavy sleep. His mind was foggy as to what exactly had happened to him, yet at the same time it was sharp enough to be concerned, and to wonder what had become of his companions.
Fai found himself on his side on the floor, beneath soft covers and on top of a futon. He had always been one to toss and turn in his sleep, and sleeping on the floor usually made it even worse. He felt his right shoulder, noticing that it had been crudely bandaged. Fai supposed that he had probably tossed or turned the wrong way on it, and that must have been why it had hurt so much. His torso was also throbbing and bandages had been wrapped there as well. He had apparently been hurt very badly.
Like waking from a dream, the memories of the night before slowly returned to him. There had been a monster. It had been larger than anything they had ever seen in any other world, and far more destructive. The fearsome creature raised one of its massive arms high and just before it stuck, Fai vaguely heard Kurogane shout something at him. Fai never heard exactly what it was though, because he suddenly found himself flying into a building that would inevitably collapse around him.
He groaned as he tried to sit upright on the futon. It took quite the effort to keep from hurting himself even more, but eventually he managed to prop himself up on one elbow.
" What the hell do you think you're doing?"
Fai looked up to see Kurogane sitting cross-legged across from him. He wondered how long Kurogane had been there, watching him with that disapproving stare. Almost automatically, Fai forced out a smile.
" Hello there, Kuro-rin," Fai greeted cheerfully.
Kurogane looked away from him; or rather he outright refused to look at him. He said nothing and did nothing. Fai could almost physically feel the tension in the air, and it ate at him inside.
" So," Fai said, trying to force a conversation from Kurogane. " That was some battle, huh?"
Kurogane glanced up at Fai and sneered.
" I'll say," he agreed bitterly. " We lost."
The tension only grew thicker, but Fai smiled, understanding why. Kurogane was certainly a sore loser. From what he understood of the man, Kurogane was obsessed with becoming and remaining strong. The loss certainly must have been a low blow to his ego.
" That must have been hard on you, Kuro-tan," Fai mused airily.
" That creature we fought," Kurogane ignored the pet name for the moment, " had skin as tough as several layers of armor. Even with a sword I wouldn't have been able bring it down. Syaoran would have shattered every bone in his body trying to kick it."
Fai widened his eyes. It wasn't like Kurogane to admit his own faults. There was still something wrong. There was a certain malice in Kurogane's voice that almost shook Fai's confidence.
" Is that so?" he chuckled. "Well, it's a good thing that no one got hurt, ne?"
Kurogane glared hard at him with an intensity that could have outshone the fiercest wildfire. He rose to his feet and walked over to Fai's side.
" You got hurt, you idiot," Kurogane sneered. " You're the one who got hurt when you were the only one who had a way to protect yourself."
The second statement made the hair on the back of Fai's neck stand, but his unshakable mask of happiness didn't shatter once. Instead of changing his attitude, he tilted his head to gaze up at Kurogane.
" Huh?" he asked with a smile. " What do you mean, Kuro-chan?"
Fai didn't need to ask though. He had a feeling that he already knew just what Kurogane had meant.
" Don't play dumb!" Kurogane growled. " You know as well as I do that you could have beaten that creature yourself with your magic!"
" That's silly, Kuro-pon," Fai laughed. " You know I can't use my magic anymore."
It was a lie. It was a lie and they both knew it. Still though, Fai was locked in his smile, trapped in his false happiness. Kurogane wanted to rip that mask off of his face and shatter it into a thousand bloodied pieces, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. His hands made fists all on their own it seemed as his anger seethed.
Kurogane was barely aware of himself when he reached for Fai. He couldn't stop himself when his fingers wrapped tightly in Fai's blond locks and pulled. He couldn't explain it at all. Though that may have been a lie as well, because all Kurogane wanted in that moment was to see some kind of reaction in Fai. He wanted something real, not that fake smile he always wore.
Fai merely winced at the pain until Kurogane began to lift him by his hair. He was trying to pull Fai up on his knees, since Fai would not, or could not, do so himself. Kurogane was very rough with him, more so than usual.
" Kuro-wan, what are you doing?" Fai asked, sounding more desperate than he had meant to.
Normally a little hair pulling wouldn't have bothered Fai in the least. There was a certain contempt in Kurogane, a certain rage that would not cease. Kurogane pulled harder and crouched down to Fai's head.
" You're an idiot," he nearly shouted. " You nearly died out there and you wouldn't even help yourself! I don't care that you wouldn't fight that beast, but you would rather die than use your magic? Even to save yourself?"
" Kuro-pii, this hurts," Fai tried his best to both remain cheerful and dodge the question.
The effort was futile though. Kurogane was not letting go. If anything, if felt like he was pulling harder. It was hard to tell though, because all of Fai's pain had begun to blend together.
" Yet you can still joke about it," Kurogane said bitterly, " I-HATE-people-like-you!"
With each word, Kurogane violently shook Fai's head harder, hoping for some sort of reaction, even if it were a negative one. He watched as Fai bit his lip, refusing to let any real emotion out. Kurogane knew that he was pushing it, but he was so wrapped up in his raw emotions that he couldn't stop himself.
" You make me sick," he said, speaking his mind.
Fai winced again. He couldn't hide it any longer. Fai wanted nothing more in that moment than to break away. He wanted to break free of his fierce touch and run as far away as he could.
" Stop it," Fai said, loosing any cheer that had been in his voice. " This hurts, stop it…" His happy tone was not replaced by one of fear however. Instead, a certain malice of his own was building up, boiling up inside him.
All masks were gone. The masquerade was over. Fai raised his one good arm and clawed tightly at Kurogane's arm. This startled Kurogane, but he did not release Fai from his clutches. Fai shut his eyes and gritted his teeth, trying to keep his rage under control, but just like a pot of boiling water on a stove, Fai bubbled over.
" KUROGANE, LET GO OF ME!" he shouted.
Strands of blue and white light circled around Fai, coming out of seemingly nowhere. They slithered like snakes up his chest and along his sleeve until eventually the lights danced around his fingertips, singeing Kurogane's arm every so often.
" Fai," Kurogane said with wide eyes, awestruck by Fai's sudden change in attitude and the appearance of his magic.
Most unfortunately for Kurogane, Fai had lost any ability he once had to be patient. Fai tensed considerably and screamed at him again.
" I SAID LET GO OF ME!"
Without any warning, all of the blue and white light traveled directly to Fai's palm and shot out at Kurogane. The blast was powerful enough to knock Kurogane away from him and into the wall.
Kurogane groaned and gripped his arm tightly, trying to stop the burning pain. Fai's magic had burned right through his sleeve, leaving behind a gaping hole. There were a few blonde hairs that remained on his fingers. He glared up furiously at Fai, ready to shout and curse, but he paused.
Fai looked absolutely horrified. His eyes were wide with fear of something Kurogane could not comprehend and he had one hand clasped over his mouth. He seemed to be on the verge of tears, yet he would not let himself cry.
All of this left Kurogane horribly confused. After all, if Fai would refuse to use his magic on an enemy, why would he attack a comrade? That aside, why did he look so terrified now? It didn't make any sense to Kurogane.
He watched carefully as Fai tried to stand again, but he couldn't prop himself up the right way. Eventually, Fai fell over, hissing as he landed on his wounded shoulder. It was obvious to Kurogane that he didn't have the strength to stand; yet he watched Fai try again and again, up and down, up and down again. Finally, Fai decided not to get up at all and curled up slightly on the futon.
" Hey," Kurogane asked gruffly. " What the hell was that all about? What's going on here?"
Fai didn't answer him. The thought that someone who was normally talkative and silly had grown silent and cold unnerved Kurogane more than anything could have. Kurogane had wanted to see Fai's true colors, but he hadn't expected anything like this. For once he hoped he was wrong, and that this was a mistake.
" Hey! I asked you a question!" Kurogane shouted.
Fai pulled the covers over his head and turned away from him. After a moment, he muttered a muffled response.
" Just leave me alone, Kurogane. Please."
Kurogane would have protested, but Fai's voice sounded weak and weary, as though he lost something dear to him. He believed in honor, so he irritably decided that he shouldn't kick a man when he's down, no matter how annoying he was.
With that on his mind, Kurogane rose and left without another word. Fai waited until he heard the door shut before he allowed any tears to fall.
A/N: So how did you like it? Please R&R and I will try to get the next chapter out soon. : )