The Guard
By: Koorino Megumi

This is for a 1000-word drabble challenge from my friend Squeak, involving some very specific guidelines. No spoilers. I hope it lives up to your expections, Squeak!

He tells himself he's only watching her sleep because he's guarding her. But he's glad his companions say nothing as he stares at her face, admiring the way her hair curls just slightly, framing it as if she meticulously set it to fall just so and didn't collapse as usual. He's guarding her from anyone who might come, he says, but really his eyes are on no one and nothing else.

"You should get some sleep," Fye eventually whispers, pulling him from his reverie, and Syaoran blinks in surprise, looking around at the dark forest where they have their camp and wondering how many hours he's been sitting with his arm resting on his knee, chin against it, watching his princess. But it really doesn't matter to him, so he just smiles faintly and nods. He is tempted to say, "Soon," and watch her just a little more, but he knows Fye wouldn't have spoken without a reason, and so he sits back, positioning himself so that he can still see his princess's face, and finally lets himself drift off to sleep.

"Come ooon, Kuropipi!"

"It's Kurogane."

"For me?"

Syaoran blinks the sleep from his eyes, awakened by the noise. "What's wrong?" he asks, trying to force his mind to be alert and looking around him to make sure all is still well. His eyes drift first to his princess, still sleeping peacefully across from him, and he begins to relax.

"Kuropon won't heeelp meee," Fye whines, pouting at the swordsman.

Kurogane snorts. "As if you can't gather firewood yourself."

Syaoran blinks again, but the sleep is just about gone this time and he is more confused than anything. "Firewood? But isn't it morning?" he asks.

Fye points at the still-dark sky and the threatening clouds gathering within it. "If we want a fire tonight, we need to get wood now. But Kurorin won't get any!"

"Oh." Syaoran stands immediately. "That's okay. I'll do it."

Fye smiles at him and then grins at Kurogane. "Syaoran-kun won't leave me in the cold."

Kurogane snorts again, crossing his arms over his chest. "Have fun. I'm getting some more sleep."

"Mokona will stay, too!" pipes up a sudden voice, and a furry creature scrambles out of under Sakura's blankets, jumping immediately onto Kurogane's head and beginning to dance. "Mokona wants to play with Kurorin!"


"Kurorin! Kurorin!"

"Awww, it looks like Kuro-wanwan is too busy to help us now." Fye mock-pouts for a moment, but then he begins to grin, amusement in his eyes, as Kurogane yells and thrashes and tries to grab the agily bouncing Mokona off of his head but comes up with nothing but air.

"Dancing, daaaancing!" Mokona sings, "Dancing like balloooooon!"

"Until I pop you!"

"Daaaancing with Kuro-wanwan! Dancing like a balloon!"

"Get down here, you--gotcha!"

"Waah! Kurorin is going to pop me!" Mokona cries as Kurogane finally catches him by the ears, bringing him down to eye him.

Kurogane picks up a half-burned stick from the remains of their campfire and begins to prod Mokona with it, sending him spinning around in circles from the ears down. "I'll show you dancing," he mutters.

"Spinning! Spinning like a-"

Kurogane lets out a frustrated noise and spins him faster. Mokona begins to wail.

Fye shakes his head, still smiling, as Mokona starts to sing a song about being dizzy. "Come on, Syaoran-kun. We'd better get the wood before it starts to rain."

Syaoran nods, smiling as well, and gives another glance to his princess to find her, to his surprise, blinking (in his direction?). She rubs her tired eyes. "Syaoran-kun?"

"Good morning, princess," he replies brightly, "Did you sleep all right?"

Sakura nods, beaming up at him. "Mm." Then she frowns. "Did I sleep too late? Syaoran-kun and everyone else are already up..."

Syaoran shakes his head. "We just got up. Fye-san and I are going to get some firewood before the rain starts," he says apologetically, "But we'll make breakfast as soon as we're back."

"Firewood?" The princess blinks, and he can tell that she's not quite awake yet. The reminder of how much of a journey still lies before him makes him sad, but he doesn't let his smile waver. "I'll help you!"

Syaoran's eyes widen. "That's okay, princess," he begins to protest, "You should-"

"All I ever do is sleep!" she cries, pulling herself resolutely to her feet, "I want to help Syaoran-kun, too." Her tone is subdued, and his heart aches to hear how useless she feels, when none of her limitations are her fault and she should never have gotten pulled into this situation in the first place.

But he wants to make her feel better (and maybe he just doesn't want to leave her, even for a short while), so he nods and keeps his smile. "Okay. If that's what you want..."

Sakura smiles brightly and nods again, hurrying over to grab his arm. "Let's go!" she declares, and Syaoran can't help it as his own smile widens at her enthusiasm. He leads her into the forest, Fye staying behind them. And suddenly he's "guarding" her again, Fye pointing out all the wood and the two of them quick to gather it at his command. But Syaoran does little more than glance where Fye points and absently gather the sticks into his arms because he can't let her out of his sight for a second. Something might happen, after all, some animal could come, or a person, or anything, really...

He tells himself this, but he only has eyes for her. And this time, she's looking right back. He wishes he could guard her forever. She is beside him, beaming with her radiant happiness despite the fact that all she's doing is a simple chore (so that he can't help but think her excitement must have to do with being with him), and he wonders if she wants him to guard her forever, too.

And memory aside, journey aside, all of this aside, in his heart, he can't help but believe that the answer is yes.