A/N: Ok, for those of youse guys who don't like so much sap in your fics, here's one with 1/3 less sap. Really, I calculated the exact amount and compared it to my previous story and found that there is, indeed, 1/3 less sap in this one. No, not really. I make stuff up Anyway, that's not to say there won't be some anyway. It's funny; I don't even like sappy stuff except in anime and even then, it has to be the right couple or else I just end up thinking it's stupid... wow, and that has nothing to do with anything. Ummmm... on with the story!


Plum's Gratitude

Fai's home country was a frigid place; everything was usually covered by ice and snow and the temperature rarely rose above zero. Needless to say that finding himself in a desert country was quite an experience for the wizard and not an overly enjoyable one at that. He could handle heat but this was way more than what he was used to. Within moments of his group entering the country, Fai had already removed his coats, gloves and white suit-jacket-like garment, hoping that he could find more comfort in just his black slacks and thin white undershirt.

Unfortunately for the blond, it wasn't much of an improvement; his lack of protective clothing left his delicate, fair skin exposed to the harsh rays of the sun, causing his shoulders to quickly become sunburned. This sensation was one that Fai had never experienced before though he decided immediately that he didn't care much for it. He was distracted by the totality of his misery while the group entered the heart of the city on whose outskirts they had landed but once they had taken refuge the shade of their temporary lodging, graciously offered by a young boy and his mother who owed Yuuko a favor, the discomfort of the sunburn became much more noticeable.

"Ouchy---!" Fai whined. "That hurts Kuromyu."

"Don't complain to me; it's your own damn fault," Kurogane snapped impatiently as he rubbed lotion on Fai's shoulders (the wizard had managed to convince him that he couldn't reach back there on his own and would need help). "If you'd just kept your goddamn clothes on, this wouldn't have happened."

"But I was hot," the blond pouted. Then he paused as something occurred to him. "Hey Kuropun, did you get sunburn?"

"No," the ninja snorted. "Sunburn is for pansies. I've spent enough time in the sun that I don't burn easily anymore."

"I don't suppose Sakura chan and Syaoran kun will mind this heat much, either," Fai noted, somewhat glumly. "After all, they came from a desert country. It'll be just like home for those two."

"Hmm," Kurogane grunted. Then he screwed the cap back onto the lotion. "There, you're done."

He tossed the bottle to Fai, who caught it happily in one hand. "Hyuu! Thanks, Kurowanko! You're my hero!"

"Shut up," the ninja grumbled, stomping off to find a room that wasn't occupied by Fai.

The wizard watched thoughtfully as Kurogane left, wondering if he had actually seen a slight flush in the warrior's face or if he had only imagined it…?

Dismissing the question, Fai got to his feet and went to the window, resting his elbows on its sill as he looked out at the sandy landscape stretched out before him. He had been gazing absentmindedly for a few moments before a dull gleam caught his eye. Fai squinted, trying to make out what he was seeing but most of the object was buried in the sand as well as being too far away for him to get a good look at it. He got up, his curiosity piqued, and headed for the door with the intention of going to examine the item more closely but paused as he remembered his sunburn. It probably wasn't a very good idea to go back outside with his already tender shoulders exposed… but he only planned on being out there for a second. Surely that couldn't hurt.

Fai turned the knob and pushed open the door, scanning the sandy environment for the glimmer before stepping out into the harsh sunlight again. Once he had it in his sights, he darted forward, snatched the item out of the sand and dashed back into the house so that he could examine it in the safety of the shade.

The wizard turned the strange object in his long, slender fingers, observing it from all angles. What could it be? Fai wondered. It didn't much resemble anything he had seen back home. The closest thing he could think of to compare it to was a teapot… but it would be silly to make a teapot out of brass since metal was especially notorious for becoming very hot when exposed to heat.

Fai squinted at the object's exterior; there seemed to be something written on it but it was too dirty for him to make out… in an attempt to clear away the grime, the blond rubbed at the wording. Suddenly, the bottle began to tremble as though it were full of jumping beans and a thick pink smoke started to pour from its spout. Fai dropped the thing in surprise and jumped to his feet, ready to make a speedy departure if the need should arise. Anxiously the mage waited for the smoke to clear. His stomach churned fearfully; what if he had summoned a dragon or a big mean bear or worse: a Starbucks employee (though the thought of all three scared him, the third possibility actually caused him to shudder involuntarily)?

As the fog began to dissipate, Fai strained his eyes to see what kind of horrifying creature he had brought forth. At first, he didn't see anything and the panic in his stomach began to die down. Then he looked down and saw the dark outline of what appeared to be a very small girl: roughly the size of a football. She had long purple hair which was pulled back into a curled ponytail, large brown eyes, a cheerful face, exotic-looking pink clothing and was holding a tambourine. When she spotted Fai, she called to him and waved energetically to get his attention.

"Hey, Master! Down here!" she shouted.

The tall lanky mage knelt down, trying to get down to her level. Although his fear had vanished, he was still overwhelmed by an immense feeling of surprise and incredulity. After all, it wasn't often that you pulled an old piece of junk out of the sand and found it to contain a small girl. Once Fai was down closer to her, she grinned widely and threw herself at him, hugging him tightly.

"Nice to meet you, new Master!" she said enthusiastically. "Thanks for letting me outta there. It's not very nice in that little tiny lamp. And the sun makes it so hot in there!"

Fai simply continued to stare blankly, unsure what his response should be.

"Oh, I'm Sumomo, by the way!" Sumomo said enthusiastically, extending her hand to shake his. "What is Master's name?"

"Ah, it's Fai," the wizard said, a hesitant smile taking its usual place on his lips. "Fai D. Flowrite."

He shook Sumomo's tiny hand between his thumb and forefinger.

"To show my gratitude for Master letting me out of the bottle, I will grant you three wishes! Anything you want!" the genie beamed.

Fai tilted his head to the side. "Anything?" he asked. Several things had popped into his head at her offer and more than one of them involved a certain hot-tempered ninja. The others mostly contained ice cream. Mmm, ice cream…

Fai snapped out of his reverie in time to notice a disheartened look on Sumomo's face.

"That's what I'd like to say, anyway," she said sadly. "But I'm afraid I'm not a very good genie. I'm still in training, see, so my wish granting skills aren't as amazing as they should be… all I can do is give people magical powers for a few hours."

The small girl hung her head in shame.

"What do you mean by that?" Fai asked, still interested. It may not be quite as good as having any wish granted but the idea of being granted magical powers that he could use without being detected was very appealing as well.

"Well, if you wanted to become a very fast runner, for example, I could give you the power to be the fastest runner in the world… for ten hours. After that, you'd go back to being your old self again."

Sumomo looked up at Fai pleadingly, tears filling her eyes. "I'm sorry for being so inexperienced, Master… but I can make it up to you! Instead of just giving you three wishes, I'll give you five! Just please don't put me back in that bottle!"

The wizard stared at her for a moment, his eyes round with surprise at the disparity in her voice. Then he smiled once more and gently wiped the tears from her face.

"Don't worry, Sumomo chan. I won't make you go back in the bottle. Just do your best; that's enough for me."

A look of immense relief came over the pint-sized genie and she threw her little arms around him once more. "Thank you, Fai sama. You're the best Master I've ever had."

Kurogane stuck his head curiously into the front room and looked around. He could have sworn he had heard Fai talking to someone just now but the mage seemed to be alone at the moment.

"Oi, magician," the ninja said.

Fai jumped guiltily and looked over his shoulder at Kurogane. Kurogane narrowed his eyes in suspicion as Fai crouched down again, seemingly having a hurried whispered conversation with his own shoe before quickly stuffing something into his pocket.

"Who were you talking to just now?" Kurogane demanded, folding his arms and glaring accusingly at the slim blond.

"Eh? What do you mean, Kurowanko?" Fai asked in an all too innocent tone. "I wasn't talking to anyone. You must be hearing things."

"You really suck at lying, you know that?" Kurogane sighed. "Well, whatever. I don't really give a damn."

Fai watched Kurogane stalk away looking annoyed, and grinned. If only the ninja knew what was in store for him….

A/N: So how was the intro? Good? Sucky? I don't know... Personally, I find it to be very mediocre but I've been told that I'm extremely overcritical of my own work. I know the humor was a bit lacking in this chapter but it will pick up now that I'm passed the prologue. Anyhow, I hope it served to get y'all interested and maybe you'll even come back to see how Fai chooses to use his wishes...maybe? Review wo onegai shimasu!