A/N: Ah ha ha...hey everybody! Honto ni hisashiburi da ne? I know it was really uncool of me to just sort of drop out of existence for two whole months like that but I really didn't have a choice. I was just so horrendously busy that I didn't have time for anything but work and school. But now that I've quit my job (which I hated anyway) and started a new semester at school, I ought to have a little more time to write (hopefully). Anyway, I started this fic back in October and then got bored with it and kinda forgot it for a while. Then I picked it up again this week and decided to finish it. It's not terribly original but I figure we need a little break from this heavy dose of angst Tsubasa has been giving us for so long. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it!
Chapter 1: Love Potion Number Nine
The only thing audible across the eerily quiet grounds was the crunching of their footsteps as they made their way through the snow towards the main building. Fai shot a sidelong glance at his silently fuming companion, who was now also his co-worker, and grinned.
"Hmmm? Are you still mad, Kurowanko sensei?" he asked teasingly, latching on to Kurogane's arm.
"OF COURSE I AM, YOU BASTARD!!" he snapped, his angry words echoing across the empty yard and startling a flock of birds out of their tree. "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU WENT AND SIGNED ME UP FOR THIS GODDAMN JOB WITHOUT EVEN ASKING ME!!"
"Language, Kurochii sensei; we wouldn't want the children to hear, now would we?" Fai smirked.
"THE GODDAMN CHILDREN CAN GO TO HELL, FOR ALL I CARE!!" Kurogane retaliated, stomping his foot.
"But you're their teacher, Kurotan! You have to set a good example! These are impressionable young minds we're dealing with here, and we must be careful how we mold them."
Kurogane snorted. "It's you that they ought to be worried about. If I had a kid, I sure as hell wouldn't want some suspicious bastard like you putting weird ass ideas in his head."
"Now, now, Daddy," Fai laughed. "What makes you think I would ever do something like that?"
"I can't imagine," the ninja muttered sarcastically. "And what the hell were you thinking, signing me up to teach history? I don't even know how things work in this goddamn country today, let alone a hundred years ago!"
Fai stopped suddenly. "…You want to know why?" he asked quietly, his copious bangs obscuring his eyes from view.
Kurogane also stopped and turned around to face him. "Huh?"
"…You want to know why…I signed you up to teach history?" Fai repeated.
"There's an actual reason?" Kurogane asked, raising an eyebrow. "I figured it was just you being a bastard, as usual."
"Come closer, and I'll tell you," Fai murmured, continuing to hide behind his blond locks.
Kurogane stepped forward curiously and leaned in so that the wizard could whisper the answer in his ear. Fai was silent for a moment.
"Because I though Kuropun would be an adorable history teacher!" he trilled, tweaking the swordsman's nose flirtatiously.
"YOU UTTER BASTARD!!" Kurogane roared, chasing the giggling science teacher with fury blazing in his eyes. "WHEN I CATCH YOU, YOU'RE DEAD! YOU HEAR ME? DEAD!!"
Fai ran towards the building, giggling madly, Kurogane close on his heels, oblivious to what awaited them beyond its doors.
Kurogane threw his bag down on the desk and dropped into his chair. So, this was the deepest circle of hell, er…his classroom. He looked around disinterestedly. There were clumsily-made art projects hanging by strings from the ceiling, a chalkboard, a world map, a few rows of desks and some posters on the walls which bore messages that were almost painfully retarded. He shook his head in disgust and decided he would just have to do his best not to look at them, lest they ate a hole in his brain.
How he had managed to get stuck in a teaching job, Kurogane would never know. For one thing, the people who had hired him didn't even bother to give him an interview and obviously hadn't done any sort of background check since he didn't even have a background in this world. For another thing, he had killed more people than he could count. Somehow, he just couldn't manage to fit that fact into the description of a good teacher. Obviously, someone who had killed more people than they could count was either numerically challenged or some kind psychopath with an insatiable bloodlust. Not that Kurogane was either of these, of course.
He then picked up one of his class lists and looked it over carelessly. "Motosuwa, Hideki" was the first name on the paper. Motosuwa… I'll bet that kid has a brain the size of a pea, Kurogane thought. "Ogata, Masaharu"; that name just screamed incompetence. He probably can't even pick his nose the right way. "Kobayashi, Kotarou"; …Sounds like a goddamn pansy. "Seto, Ringo" She's probably an airheaded bimbo. "Kazahaya, Kudou"; I'll bet that kid's really snotty. Just looking at his name makes me want to kick his ass. "Doumeki, Shizuka"; Shizuka? What kind of a retarded name is that? But if her name is anything to go by, then she probably won't be giving me much trouble. "Hibiya, Chii"; Chii? What the hell? Isn't that a dog's name? I didn't know they allowed pets into this school… "Rikuo, Himura"; Great. Just what I need: a goddamn monk. I swear, if that kid gives me any crap about repenting or divine justice, I'll kick his ass out the window. "Suzuhara, Misaki" She probably has the mental capacity of a piece of gravel. "Watanuki, Kimihiro"; Are you kidding me? Someone actually named their kid that? …I think I'm gonna be sick. "Shinbo, Hiromu"; Damn. That's almost as bad as the last kid. I mean, seriously, were these parents on crack when they named their kids?
Kurogane was feeling quite a bit better now that he had gone through the list and insulted every one of his students. Not that he'd been feeling nervous about this whole situation, because that wasn't it at all. He was just dreading the six tons of wank that came with prolonged exposure to children. Kurogane massaged his temples, trying to ward off a killer migraine that was lurking in the recesses of his brain and threatening to overtake him. Obviously, it was too late to get himself out of the job immediately, but once classes were over for the day, Kurogane was gonna haul serious ass down to the office and quit this sick excuse for a job.
Kurogane had known when Fai had first told him he'd be teaching history in this foreign world that he was screwed, but it wasn't until his students were looking expectantly up at him that he realized his actual "fucked factor". He was at about a six (in case anyone is wondering, the scale began at one, which was a "oh, crap" with a five in the middle range, a "Mr. Shit, meet Mr. Fan", and tops off at a ten, which was "well, at least I'm not dying a virgin").
Don't get the wrong idea, though. Kurogane was NOT nervous. Not even a little. Those butterflies in his stomach were from hunger. Yeah, because all he'd had for breakfast was a buttered bagel and a little square of pancake that Fai had force-fed him. Kurogane didn't get nervous.
The ninja thought fleetingly about trying to BS his way through a lesson. But then, he didn't have very much experience with BSing. Honesty was always the best policy in his opinion, and when someone didn't like the truth, he usually let them take it up with his sword. His next fleeting thought was to attack the root of the problem and just kill the snot-nosed little brats. No, that wouldn't work either; there were few ways that a warrior could sink lower than by killing unarmed innocents, especially children (actually, Kurogane doubted very much that any of them were innocent. They all looked like shifty little bastards to him). He decided grudgingly that he should just tell them the truth.
"Yeah, so… I know I supposed to be teaching you history and all that stuff, but umm… I don't know jack shit about history, so…"
Kurogane stopped talking when he noticed that most of his students were either giggling or staring at him with wide eyes. "What?"
There was a nervous silence before one of the kids worked up the courage to whisper "You said the 'S' word!"
Kurogane blinked. "…Are you freakin' serious?" he snorted. "Tch… jeez…"
He shook his head disbelievingly and paused briefly before continuing.
"Anyway, I guess you guys can just screw around and do whatever… as long as you're quiet."
The kids just continued to stare. Kurogane stared back, becoming increasingly irritated with their unresponsiveness. Finally, he slammed his notebook down on his desk and snapped "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU ALL STARING AT, HUH? I TOLD YOU WHAT TO DO, SO JUST DO IT, DAMMIT!"
The students quickly busied themselves, most of them looking frightened or scandalized. Kurogane shook his head again in exasperation as he took a seat behind his desk. Well, he might not have taught them history, but he had given them another valuable lesson instead: "if your history teacher is a ninja, just do what he tells you to, without question, and he probably won't kill you."
Fai's class was going considerably smoother.
"Hello, everyone!" he chirped, waving at his students enthusiastically. "My name is Fai Sensei and I'm gonna be your new science teacher, ok? It's my first day here so I don't really know any of you yet, but I'm sure we'll get along just fabulously!" He clapped his hands together, flashing them a blinding grin. "So… if nobody has any questions…"
"Are you gay?" someone blurted out.
"We'll get started!" Fai continued, pretending he hadn't heard. "Let's see now… What should my first lesson be…" He thought for a moment, and then clapped his hands again, his eyes sparkling with well-disguised mischievousness. "I know! Why don't I teach you all how to make a love potion, hmm?"
His students all stared at him in silence as though a minivan had just immerged from his left nostril. Seemingly oblivious to their puzzlement, Fai began to speak again.
"Have any of you ever made a love potion before?"
The students all continued to stare blankly.
"No one? Well, that's alright! That means you can all learn something new today!" he trilled. "Now, before we start making a love potion, why don't we talk about their properties?"
He turned to his white board and scrawled the word "Properties" across the top, then underlined it. It didn't even occur to him that he had just written in his native language and that none of his students would be able to read it.
"Who can tell me one property of a love potion?" Fai asked cheerfully, beaming at his class. The room was so quiet you could have heard a grain of sand drop. But if the mage was at all perturbed by the lack of answers, he didn't show it.
"What does a love potion do?" he prompted.
There was another blank pause before one brave boy in the front row ventured a guess.
"They… make people…fall in love with…you…?"
"Exactly!" Fai said, adding this to the top of his "properties" list. "Very good. What else?"
When none of the other kids showed any signs of having any inkling of a clue as to what Fai was talking about, he added a second one to the list for them.
"Love potions are less dense than water. So what does that mean, exactly?"
This time, a girl took a stab at the question.
"It would float on top like oil, right?"
"Correct!" Fai sang. "This is a sharp class! Now, the more you skimp on the ingredients, the less dense it will be, meaning that it will be less potent. However, if you add too much of the ingredients it can get too strong and cause the person you're giving it to to experience a migraine so you have to be careful. Can anyone tell me how to nullify the effects of a love potion?"
"All you have to do is splash cold water on the person and they will be released from the potion's spell," he answered for them. "Ok, that does it for all the important properties, I think. So, let's get started, shall we?"
Kurogane had to bite his tongue to keep himself from yelling "FINALLY!" when the lunch bell rang. This had to be one of the biggest wastes of time he'd ever been forced into. He waded through the sea of waist-high students, only making a halfhearted effort not to squash any underfoot, as he made his way to the teacher's lounge. The ninja pushed open the door, saw who was already there waiting for him, and let out a rather loud noise of disgust. Fai looked up from his lunch and smiled cheerfully.
"Hi Kuwopii!" he called across the otherwise empty teacher's lounge through a mouthful of peanut butter and jelly.
"Tch…don't talk with your mouth full, idiot," Kurogane growled.
Fai swallowed and grinned apologetically. "Sorry, Daddy."
The swordsman growled at the nickname as he began digging change out of his pockets for the vending machine.
"You didn't bring a lunch, Kurotan?" Fai asked, tilting his head to one side.
Kurogane gave a derisive snort, looking disinterestedly over the vending machine's selection. "Yeah, right, dumb ass. Like I have time for girly shit like that. Anyway, I can just get something here, so it's no big deal."
He grabbed the package from the slot and sat a few seats down from Fai where he proceeded to rip open the wrapper. Fai vanished under the table for a moment and then resurfaced in Kurogane's lap.
"Why didn't you tell me, Kurochuu?" the magician purred, looping his arms around Kurogane's shoulders. "I would've made you something."
"I don't want you to make me anything," he replied flatly. "Ever."
Just as Fai was opening his mouth to reply, the door to the teachers lounge swung open, and a man that Kurogane recognized as the language teacher from the room across from his walked in. When the language teacher saw his two colleagues seated at the table, one in the others' lap with his arms around his shoulders, his face flushed brightly.
"Oh! I-I'm sorry…!" he stammered. "I didn't realize you two were…!"
Kurogane started blushing then, too. "We're not!" he snarled, putting his hand on top of Fai's head and trying to force him back under the table from whence he had come.
"I-I'm, uh… sorry for disturbing you!" He quickly turned around and left, carefully not looking at either of them.
"Why didn't you say anything, dumb ass!" Kurogane snapped at Fai.
The wizard merely shrugged. "I didn't have anything to say."
"That's never been a problem for you before! You want people to think we're…"
Fai grinned and began to play with the ninja's hair affectionately. "'You want people to think we're' what, Kuronro?"
Kurogane's blush deepened. "YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT, YOU BASTARD!"
"I assure you, Kuropippi, I haven't the slightest idea," he said. He glanced up at the clock then. "Oops, almost time for class to start. I'll see you later, Kurotan."
Fai gave Kurogane a kiss on the cheek and slid back under the table, popping out again on the other side. He waved cheerfully to the stunned swordsman before pushing through the door and joining the current of students that was rushing by. Feeling slightly dazed, Kurogane touched the place where Fai had kissed him, his cheeks still glowing brightly. He was so distracted that he didn't even notice what time it was until the bell rang, causing him to jump in surprise.
Kurogane blinked as he looked at the clock, his mind momentarily blank. The he jumped again, his brain firing up suddenly: you (in here) + bell equals you're late, dumbass! Kurogane hurriedly shoved his remaining food into his mouth and switched on his "super-stealthy-ninja speed" as he tore off down the hall.
Even though he had used his super-stealthy-ninja speed, slow-moving students kept him from getting to class on time. When he finally made it to his room, all the kids were already seated. They all stared at him as he stormed up to his desk to make his beginning-of-class announcement that he didn't know anything about history and that they could do what they wanted. Just like all the classes before them, this group of students stared blankly back at him in reply. A vein throbbed angrily on Kurogane's forehead.
"What the hell?" he growled, irritated. "Are all kids this stupid and I've just forgotten, or is it just the ones in this country? You heard what I said! Quit staring at me like a bunch of mindless idiots!"
A tall, pale, lanky kid with smooth black hair and a bored expression stood suddenly, swept all his books into his bag, and started for the door.
"Where the hell do you think you're going?" Kurogane snarled, moving into the kid's path to block his way and fixing the boy with his signature glare-o'-death. The boy, however, returned his gaze calmly and answered "I'm leaving."
"I don't think so, brat. Get back to your seat."
"Why should I? You're not gonna teach us anything anyway." The name on the boy's school uniform pocket said Doumeki. Kurogane was surprised, though he concealed it well. Shizuka was generally a girl's name and seeing as how it meant "quiet", he hadn't been expecting to get any wank from a kid with that name.
"You'll go back to your seat because I'm telling you to," Kurogane replied acidly. He refused to lose at anything to anyone, least of all this snot-nosed little brat with a girl's name in a battle of wills. Doumeki was going to sit back down, even if Kurogane had to amputate both the kid's legs in order to keep him from going anywhere
"Hmph, a teacher who expects to be respected by his students but can't even make it to class on time himself?" Doumeki smirked. "I'm surprised they didn't fire you a long time ago."
Kurogane was outraged. "LISTEN HERE, YOU SMUG LITTLE BASTARD--!!"
Doumeki put his fingers in his ears. "Jeez, you're so loud. You tell us to keep quiet and then you go around shouting like this. You're nothing but a loud-mouthed hypocrite who can't control himself. Why don't you go back to teaching school and come back when you've learned how to be a real teacher? Or maybe you could take a lesson or two from Fai Sensei; you two seem to be pretty chummy."
While the ninja was still seething, Doumeki pushed past him and left the room. The rest of the students sat in stunned silence, watching to see what Kurogane's reaction would be. If spontaneous human combustion were possible, Kurogane's head would have burst into flames. After a moment of indignant sputtering, he tore off down the hallway to catch Doumeki and hall his ass to the principal's office.
Fai had just finished answering a question from one of his students about her group's love potion when he heard the unmistakable sound of Kurogane's rage right outside his classroom. With a sly smile, he set down the potion and skipped over to the door.
"Could you keep it down out there please, Kuropun Sensei?" he sang. "We're trying to have a chemistry lesson in here."
"YOU STAY OUT OF THIS, DAMN MAGICIAN!!" Kurogane roared, shaking his fist at Fai.
"Oh my, Kurowan Sensei… what are you doing to that student?" Fai gasped. The warrior had Doumeki cornered and was advancing upon him menacingly, sword in hand. Doumeki didn't look overly concerned about his situation but Fai came to his rescue anyway, plucking Kurogane's sword out of his hand and holding it out of his reach.
"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?! GIVE ME BACK MY GODDAMN SWORD!!"
"Aww, poor Kurochii Sensei's had a hard, stressful day," Fai cooed sympathetically, patting Kurogane on the head. "Why don't you go lay down in my office? I'll take care of…" he glanced at the name stitched on Doumeki's uniform, "Doumeki kun and the rest of your class, ok?"
"LIKE HELL I WILL, YOU BASTARD!!" Kurogane snarled. "NOW MOVE SO I CAN TEAR THAT GODDAMN KID APART!!"
"Calm down, Kurochuu Sensei," the wizard said soothingly. "I said that I'd take care of your class for you so you don't have to worry anymore, right?"
He took Kurogane's hand, gave the sword to Doumeki ("Could you hold this for a moment, please?") and led the enraged history teacher to his office. Once they were inside, he pushed Kurogane down on the couch, then quickly dashed back out the door and locked it from the outside. Kurogane jumped up and tried to force the door open but it was no good; the office was locked tight. He sighed and returned to the couch to flop down on it. Not that he would ever admit it to Fai, but the wizard had been right; he had had a stressful day and he actually was quite thankful that Fai had stepped in and agreed to take care of his last class of the day for him. Just thinking about how close he had come to killing Doumeki and losing some of his precious strength made him shudder.
Although the door was closed, he heard a brief increase in the noise level as his class joined Fai's. Kurogane breathed a sigh of relief; the blond had kept his word about taking care of his class. Now that he didn't have that to worry about, Kurogane closed his eyes. That last outburst at Doumeki had given him a killer headache, though it began to recede slightly when his eyelids blocked out the light. With the muted chatter of students outside the door and his responsibilities in Fai's capable hands, the ninja began to succumb to his fatigue. Once the class was safely immersed in their work once more, Fai peeked in through the narrow window of his office door to see what Kurogane was doing. The sight of the raven-haired teacher asleep on his couch brought a small, soft smile to Fai's lips.
"Sweet dreams, Kurochan," he whispered.
When Kurogane finally opened his eyes, the office was silent and the classroom beyond it dark. He sat up and noticed Fai sitting at his desk with four little vials in front of him, his back to the ninja. But the couch springs creaked as he moved, causing Fai to look over his shoulder.
"Ah, are you awake now, Kuromyuu Sensei?" he asked pleasantly. "Did you have a nice nap?"
"Hmmm…" Kurogane grunted awkwardly, rubbing the back of his neck and glancing up at the clock. It was nine thirty meaning that he had slept for about seven hours. Holy crap; he must have been even more tired than he had thought. "What's in the bottles?"
"Oh, these?" Fai smiled, indicating the vials. "My students made them in class today. I was just getting ready to test them and see how they did…"
Kurogane glared. "You're not planning to drink them, are you? I wouldn't put it past one of the little brats to have screwed up so that it ends up poisoning you."
Fai stared for a moment then laughed. "Aww, Kuropin Sensei is worried about me! How sweet!" A mischievous look came over his face. "Don't worry, Kurorun Sensei; I'm not going to drink them."
Kurogane returned his gaze suspiciously, until Fai's usual cheerful smile returned to his face. "But speaking of drinks…"
He pushed his wheelie chair back from the desk so that he could reach a miniature refrigerator that sat in the corner of his office. With a small pop, he opened the door and took out two cans of fruit juice. "You want one?"
"…Fine," Kurogane replied hesitantly.
Fai opened it for him with a small amount of difficulty and passed it over.
"So… with the exception of Doumeki kun, did your other classes go well today?" he asked as Kurogane took a drink.
"Hmph. I guess they went ok in comparison to your fight against that oni guy back in Outo country," the warrior snorted.
"That good, eh?" Fai grinned, taking a sip of his own juice. He watched Kurogane closely from underneath his heavy-lidded eyes, amusement dancing in the deep sapphire pools.
The ninja shuddered a bit after his second swallow and made a face. "What kind of juice is this? It tastes…weird." His tongue was tingling as though he had just touched it to the end of a battery, though he wasn't familiar with that particular sensation as his homeworld was a bit lacking in the battery department. Fai shrugged casually, though he continued to watch Kurogane closely.
"I can't read this country's language, but I think it's mango," he replied. "You don't like it?"
"Well, I'll drink it but… I dunno. It's kinda making my mouth go numb."
The blond frowned slightly. "Really? Your mouth is going numb? That's not supposed to happen…"
Kurogane's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Did you put something in my drink when I wasn't paying attention?"
Fai's eyes widened slightly in feigned surprise. "Now why would I do something like that, Kuronpu?"
"You did, didn't you, you bastard!" Kurogane shouted, pointing an accusing finger at his colleague. Fai had just opened his mouth to respond when a large pink bubble blossomed out of the end of the swordsman's finger. The two of them stared at it in silence as it drifted slowly to the floor and popped with a merry little jingling sound. Kurogane and Fai looked at each other, stunned.
"This is your fault, damn magician," Kurogane hissed dangerously. "You'd better fix it right now before I find something sharp and pointy and run you through with it."
Fai burst into laughter. "Why? Don't you think it's a cool trick, Daddy?"
"No, I don't! A ninja should not have stupid pink bubbles coming out of his finger, dammit!"
"Aw, come on, Kurowanko! I think it's cute!"
"Where the hell is that manjuu? I need my sword so I can amputate my finger."
Fai waved away the suggestion. "Now, now, there's no need for that. Just take another sip of your juice and it ought to go away."
Kurogane looked at him uncertainly. "You're lying."
"Well, if you'd rather amputate your finger, I guess that's your choice," Fai sighed. "But of the two of us, I'm the only one who's studied magic so I ought to know a thing or two about this sort of thing, don't you think?"
The ninja hesitated before picking up his can of juice and gingerly taking another sip. He shuddered again at the taste. "It tastes different now… you'd better not have put something else in there, you stupid bastard."
"But you've been watching me the whole time," Fai pointed out. "You would have noticed if I tried something like that, wouldn't you Kurochin?"
"I guess so--," Kurogane began, but stopped abruptly in horror when bright, rainbow-colored light spilled from his mouth as his lips moved.
Fai giggled and clapped. "Hyuu! That was an amazing trick, Kurowanwan! Do it again!"
"Like hell I'm gonna—" he clamped his mouth shut again, grinding his teeth in frustration when the light was produced again.
"It should go away if you give the juice another try," the mage advised, grinning widely, clearly enjoying the ninja's troubles.
"WHAT THE HELL?! YOU THINK I'M STUPID OR SOMETHING?!" Kurogane snapped.
Fai began laughing again as the brilliant light issued from his mouth. "I'm sorry, Kurotan. It's just so hard to take you seriously when there are pretty rainbows coming from your mouth."
A vein throbbing angrily on his forehead, Kurogane took another drink of juice then waited resignedly for something to happen. For a moment, all was still and quiet. A small popping noise made them both jump and Fai watched in delight as a bright purple flower sprouted right between Kurogane's scarlet eyes and burst into bloom.
"A flower for me?" the blond giggled, blushing slightly. "Why, Kurochan, you shouldn't have!"
Kurogane was too enraged and disgusted to say anything as Fai reached out and grabbed hold of his flower and attempted to pluck it.
"Ow! Ow!" Kurogane gasped, clapping a hand to his forehead. "Let go! That hurts, dammit!"
"It's so pretty on you, Kuropun! That purple really goes nicely with your eyes."
"Quit saying stupid crap like that. You're making me want to puke."
Reluctantly, he took another gulp of his juice, finishing off the can. Fai watched closely for something to happen. There was nothing.
"How do you feel now, Kuromin? Did anything happen?"
"I don't…" he broke off, blushing suddenly and averted his gaze to the floor. "N-nothing's wrong. It's no big deal. Just forget about it."
Fai's heart rose hopefully. Could one of the groups from his class possibly have gotten the potion right?
"Well, if you say so, Kuropun," Fai said slyly, standing up, noticing the way Kurogane was now watching him closely out of the corner of his eye, and smirking to himself. "Why don't we go back to our apartments now? We should probably go to bed since we have to get here early to work tomorrow morning."
"Right," Kurogane agreed stiffly, getting to his feet. He still refused to meet the wizard's eyes.
Fai led the way out of the room, deliberately leaving his coat behind. As soon as they stepped outside into the cold, winter night air, and the door had locked behind them, he gave a fake shiver.
"Oh, looks like I forgot my coat in my office," he noted, glancing over at Kurogane. "Ah, but the door's already locked and we don't have a key… I guess I'll just have to get it tomorrow morning, hmm?"
Kurogane said nothing, but removed his own coat and draped it over Fai's slender shoulders. Fai looked up at him, pretending to be surprised. "Kuromyuu?"
"I don't need it," he muttered, carefully not looking at the blond. "Anyway, it'd be a pain in the ass if you got sick and I had to take care of you."
Kurogane quickened his pace suddenly, forcing Fai to have to jog in order to keep up.
"Would you be terribly annoyed with me if I said my fingers were cold and asked you to hold my hand?" Fai grinned.
Kurogane's blush deepened. "…Guess not…"
Heart fluttering happily, Fai slipped his small, pale hand into Kurogane's larger tan one. Just as he had expected, the warrior's grip was pleasantly warm which only added to how much he enjoyed the contact. The two of them boarded the train that would take them back to their apartment complex in silence. Although Kurogane still wouldn't look at the mage, he did allow him to hug his arm and rest his cheek against his shoulder, something that Fai was only too glad to take advantage of.
As much as he was enjoying the experience of getting to express his affection openly to Kurogane without the ninja's protesting, he just couldn't ignore that ache in his heart; that nagging little thought trying to push its way to the front of his mind. Kurogane wasn't letting him do these things because he was in love with him; Kurogane was letting him do these things because he was experiencing the effects of the love potion. The pain in his heart increased at the acknowledgement of this fact. Here he was, being selfish again, and taking advantage of the one he loved most for his own benefit. Fai's hunger for love was actually causing him to manipulate Kurogane. Even though Fai had never been part of a mutual romance, he knew that this was not the way it was meant to be.
"…Hey," Kurogane muttered, snapping Fai out of his guilty daze, "you still awake over there?"
Fai took a deep breath to compose himself before looking up at his companion with a smile. "Yes, Kurosama… I was just…thinking about something…"
Kurogane studied the magician's smile carefully. "Something painful?" he asked quietly.
Fai forced his smile to widen. "Of course not, Kuronpyu! What makes you think that?"
Kurogane watched him for a moment longer, before giving a doubtful grunt and averting his gaze once more. Despite his assurances that everything was fine, when the swordsman put his arm around Fai's shoulders, he saw the mage clutch instinctively at his breaking heart.
Fai and Kurogane's apartments were conveniently located right next door to each other while Syaoran and Sakura had taken Mokona and were living in the student dormitories across the street. Unfortunately, the wizard and ninja had been given positions as elementary school teachers and the two younger travelers attended high school, which was located in a separate wing of the building, so the four of them hadn't seen each other since they had parted ways that morning.
Fai and Kurogane paused uncertainly outside their respective doors. Each one was waiting for the other to invite them inside but Fai was too ashamed of the way he was manipulating Kurogane to say anything and Kurogane was simply too shy. It was Fai who finally broke the silence.
"…Would…would you like to come inside and have some warm milk with me before you go to bed?"
Fai fished his key out of his pocket and unlocked the front door. Kurogane followed him inside, pausing at the door to remove his shoes before continuing on to the kitchen. The warrior got the milk from the refrigerator while the mage got mugs for them both and put a pan on the stove but neither one of them spoke or made eye contact. The stifling silence between them continued until they had finished heating the milk and Fai poured it into their mugs. The blond began to pull out a chair from the table so that he could sit down but Kurogane placed his hand on top of his, stopping him.
"We should sit on the couch," he suggested.
Fai hesitated for a second and then followed the swordsman to the couch. Pain flashed through Fai's heart again as Kurogane sat down right next to him and slid an arm around his slender waist. Still, he allowed himself to lean against him slightly, resting his head on the ninja's sturdy chest. Fai lifted his mug to his lips, pretending to drink, but didn't. Kurogane took a sip, then flinched in pain as it burned his tongue.
Fai forced another smile. "Too hot, Kurorun? Just a minute, I'll go get you a glass of cold water to help cool your mouth off."
Before Kurogane could do anything to stop him, the wizard jumped to his feet and went to fetch the water. Kurogane sighed heavily and leaned back against the couch cushions. Fai returned a second later, a glass of water in hand. He was just extending the glass to offer to his companion when he accidentally stumbled. Fai managed not to fall, but Kurogane got a face-full of cold water. The blond hid his blue eyes behind his copious bangs, once again not meeting the swordsman's eyes. Kurogane, momentarily stunned, blinked water out of his eyes and a fog suddenly lifted from his mind. What the hell was he doing in Fai's apartment, drinking warm milk and cuddling on the couch with him?! It wasn't as though he didn't remember how he got here; he just couldn't fathom what had been going through his head when he had agreed to do this.
Blushing, Kurogane got hurriedly to his feet and set his mug on the coffee table. "…I just remembered… got some papers to correct… really should get going on them or I'll never finish by tomorrow…"
Without another word, he left the apartment, closing the door with a snap. Fai waited until he heard the ninja close the door to his own apartment before moving to pick up Kurogane's abandoned mug. In reality, he had splashed that water on him on purpose. Although it hurt to have to bring their time together to such an abrupt end, he simply couldn't stand the selfishness of his own actions any longer. What was the point of having someone show affection towards you if they weren't doing it out of their own free will? There was no point; it was just cruel and dishonest to both people.
Fai absentmindedly dumped out the milk and put the mugs in the dishwasher. Even though he had done the right thing by putting this forced love to an end, he didn't feel any better for it. In fact, he felt almost exactly the same. He had just wanted so badly for someone to hold him close and whisper sweet words in his ear. Heart still aching relentlessly, Fai dragged himself off to bed.
Kurogane lie on his bed in the dark, staring up at the ceiling. He was beginning to regret leaving Fai in such a hurry. After all, he knew how fragile the magician was already. He might have just hurt him even more with his thoughtlessness. Kurogane seriously considered going back over there to apologize, but his pride simply refused to allow it. Trying to push the matter from his thoughts, he closed his eyes, willing himself to sleep even though he wasn't at all tired.
If he listened very closely, he thought he could just make out the sound of quiet sobs drifting through the paper-thin walls that separated him from Fai.
A/N: And that's it for the first chapter! Like I said: not terribly original, but I do have some fun ideas. I'm thinking there will be a school dance which the two of them will have to chaperone and I might even have them teach a sex ed. class together... hee hee! So yeah, I'm thinking there'll be like three or four more chapters in this fic before I wrap it up. In the meantime, I'd really appreciate your reviews!