Concerning Limes and Ninjas

-Summary- Pure silliness with a lime-fresh taste!

A/N - ….. I'd say, 'no comment', but I should explain. NOT shonen-ai, although I know some of you probably clicked on it because it said 'lime' in the title ….

But seriously. It contains an actual lime. Confused? Just read it. Then it might make a little more sense….

Disclaimer - don't own - even the idea's technically Erenriel the Elven Canuck's. So just don't ask…

-

"Kuro-myuu, I've replaced you with a lime!"

"What?" There was no way he could have heard that properly. Kurogane stared at the odd little green thing that Fai now held out towards him proudly. The wizard had used black ink to draw on the "Big Puppy" avatar that he so hated. "What the hell is that?"

"A lime!" Fai beamed. "Isn't it cute? I call it Lime-san - we don't know each other very well yet, but I'm sure we'll be the best of friends." He patted it happily.

Kurogane did not deign comment, simply blew out an exasperated breath and tried to wish the mage away as a really bad hallucination brought on by the heat of this abominable desert world. At least he knew that the heat was screwing up the mage's mind even more.

Then it registered. "Wait, you're replacing me with that thing!"

"Yup." Fai grinned and settled himself comfortably on the edge of the low garden wall, cradling his new 'friend'. "I've decided that it's no use trying to be friends with you any more. So I'll just be friends with Lime-san instead!" Fai held it up and looked at it fondly. "It's just as sour and has just as much bite as you do, Kuro-wan, but it doesn't threaten to slice my head off - and, as an added bonus, I can stick it in my pocket! I can't stick you in my pocket," he added, almost reproachfully. "So don't blame me for trading you in. It's your fault, for not being portable."

Why had he even been considering something so logical as reasoning with this guy?

"What in the world ever gave you the idea that I'd even want to be portable?" Kurogane said with a growl, fixing on the statement that had annoyed him the most with its pure and blatant stupidity.

"Well, it's not exactly easy to take you anywhere," Fai said sensibly, smiling his cat-like smile. "We can't dress you up, and we certainly can't take you out, which is just a little bit exasperating, Kuro-chii."

Kurogane didn't even bother replying to that. He was content with being completely disgusted. As far as he was concerned, the overbright sun had finally finished the job of making the wizard completely and utterly baked. It was too ridiculous to even acknowledge. "Just shut up and go away, and take your stupid piece of fruit with you," he snapped instead.

"Ooo, don't say that Kuro-tan! You might incur the wrath of the lime," Fai cautioned, quickly covering the lime's 'ears' and looking shocked.

It was really too much to take, with the heat and the dryness so different from his home, along with the frustration of not having found the little princess' feather yet, though they'd been here over a week. And he'd be damned if he'd succumb to any more of the scrawny bastard's nonsense.

"Hmmph," Fai sniffed after a few more minutes of trying to interest the ninja in his new 'friend' and completely failing. "Come on, Lime-san. I should have known that we wouldn't be wanted here." He stooped a bit, bringing it closer to his ear and listening intently as though the lime really did have something to say, then laughed delightedly. "Yes, I agree with you completely, Lime-san! He is that. But shhhhh! It's not very nice…" And Fai walked away, still chatting companionably with his new 'friend'.

Kurogane wondered if he ought to feel enraged that he'd just been insulted by a lime.

It wasn't that it bothered him that he'd been 'replaced'. How could it? It's not like he was on the losing end of the deal. The wizard would leave him alone, he wouldn't always be grinning that stupid grin and pestering him… other than having the mage suddenly disappear, he really couldn't think of a better thing that could have happened.

Idiot, Kurogane smirked to himself. It was almost too good to be true. It'd probably be over in a few hours anyways, but for that time…

Peace and quiet. Thank you, 'Lime-san'.

-

The stupid lime was driving him up the wall. Whatever the hell was going on, it wasn't funny, and it wasn't right.

Fai hadn't been kidding about the lime replacing him. It really had. Kurogane could only assume that Fai had had whispered words with the kids and the manju bun about this, because now everyone was treating the lime like a real person, and mostly ignoring Kurogane. Even Syaoran only ever looked briefly in his direction now.

It had been two days.

Worse than being ignored even when he didn't want to be, worse than anything else - Kurogane was sure - almost - that this lime was far more smug than any weird green fruit had a right to be. And that meant that the sun must be starting to bake his brain too.

They'd all been gone from the house the previous morning, even before Kurogane had awoken. They left him behind, and the lady in the upstairs room, the one who owned the house, had told him they'd all gone out to look for the nice young lady's feather, and not to worry because they were perfectly safe with Lime-san. Kurogane had steamed about the house all day, cursing the scrawny bastard's foolishness to hell and back. And what good would that damn lime do if they really did run into trouble again? He'd almost bit the mage's head off when they came back, he'd been so mad. But he'd restrained himself, settling for glaring at everything and nothing in particular, but especially that pestilent little green citrus thing that seemed to emanate both innocence and smug content. God damn that magician, and that filthy little lime too!

In the back of his mind, though, he could admit to feeling at least a little bit of relief that they'd all made it back in one piece. Without the feather, but alive.

Maybe they didn't really need him after all?

No, that was doubt that the lime had put in his mind. They'd just been lucky today. That's all.

Right?

….Damn smug lime. Taking his place. Fai ignored him, which was fine, but the kids barely talked to him any more - even Mokona had rarely bothered him these past few days. He should have been glad, he knew that. How often did he claim how big of a pain in the neck they all were? But it… well, it pissed him off. Upstaged by a member of the citrus family. How aggravating! They were his traveling companions, not the lime's - no matter how helpless or annoying they were. He'd been the one to save their necks time and time again. How was a lime supposed to do that? What the hell could a lime possibly be better for than he was?

What was a lime better for than…. Hmmm….

He thought he could think of one thing, at least.

-

The heavy, thick heat of noon-day rolled over the porch; it was too hot to do anything, too hot to look for the princess' feather. Syaoran was pressed against the semi-cool wood of the side of the house under the shade of the overhang; Sakura was half-asleep in a chair, Mokona perched on the arm beside her, the only one who looked at least a little comfortable. Fai was spread-eagled on the boards, trying to get even a bit of the breeze - and he still looked like he was melting. He looked utterly miserable.

Kurogane was nowhere to be seen; they had to assume he was skulking around inside.

Footsteps coming out from the kitchen, and the ninja stalked out of the house onto the porch, carrying a sloshing jug of… something, and a stack of cups in his other hand.

"What?" Syaoran pushed himself away from the wall and followed the ninja curiously to the little table. "What's this, Kurogane-san?"

"The lady upstairs said it was a local drink. Good for the heat," Kurogane said shortly, putting pitcher and cups down on the table. "I thought I'd do something rather than watch you suffer." With no other comment, he started to pour. Mokona hopped up onto the table and started passing the drinks out.

"You made this?" Fai sat up, looking ever so slightly less melted; he wore a look of almost interest.

"So what?" Kurogane challenged, but not as angrily as he would have normally. He wasn't insulted by Fai's tone of mild amazement; nothing could make him really angry right now. He drained his own glass with no little satisfaction and went back for more.

"It's delicious, Kurogane-san!" Sakura gasped, smiling broadly after a sip. "Mmm… it's both sweet and sour at once. It's so good! What's it made of?"

"Yes, Kurogane-san, what's in it?" Syaoran asked.

Something almost, but not quite, like a satisfied smile flickered across the ninja's face.

"Lime," he said simply.