My first shot at KuroSaku! Yeah, it's crazy, but it's my personal favorite crack!pairing from Tsubasa and I love it. You don't like it, I'm not forcing you to read it. However, if you want to see the absolute awkwardness and lovable moments that make KuroSaku worth all its absurdity, read on. Personally, I ship KuroTomo like woah and SakuFai as well, but I've always had the crazy idea that these two would probably be able to work things out. Well, that's about all I have to say in my defense, thanks, the jury may now adjourn.
She placed the cake before him as he reclined at one of the Cat's Eye's spare tables.
He and the kid had been out late again fighting oni, so most of the usual clientele had departed for their homes, or more hunting. The cafe didn't really have a set closing time; he had half a mind to think that the wizard kept it open as long as there was some warm body in there to order food. He wondered absently how many sleeplessness nights Fai had had.
If things kept up the way they had, he wasn't going to be having a reprieve any time soon. The money from the oni and the cafe funds rolled steadily in, but only because the oni were getting bolder and the oni hunters needed somewhere to go at all hours for a quick pick-me-up.
Kurogane was worn out and desperately could have used some refreshment. Not necessarily hot chocolate and green tea, which he had a sneaking feeling were going to be placed before him next. His tongue longed for sake, something that could take him back to Nihon when everything seemed so dim and hopeless here.
Maybe hopeless wasn't the right word. Bland, he supposed, could have done it if it had a connotation with "boring disaster." Yeah, that seemed about it. This whole place was one big train wreck in slow motion, wasn't it?
Couldn't even find the source of the damned oni without getting your ass smeared across main street.
Naturally, he'd been fine. There were a few scratches from the encounter, but apart from that, there wasn't anything that an hour in his room with a roll of bandages wouldn't fix. Maybe even less than that. He'd gotten awfully good with medical tape.
The kid, though, that was another story. Syaoran had the bright idea that legs were better weapons than swords against oni. The ninja already knew that swords would be any fighter's best bet, especially Syaoran's, except for distance weaponry, which the boy undoubtedly would refuse to learn. He'd gone straight ahead of the crowd --Kurogane remembered thinking something along the lines of "show-off" and probably could have prevented his resulting injuries if he'd wanted, but he wanted a teacher, hadn't he? This was what happened when you didn't listen to teacher-- of oni hunters which they'd gathered for the sole object of finding the place where the demons came from.
No such luck. A dark claw had swiped Syaoran's legs out from beneath him and that was that. Kurogane had to finish the rest of the pack off before things got worse. Their cherry blossom chip of a wallet had beeped significantly after that, which made it somewhat comforting, but the reason he'd fought the oni wasn't for that.
It was chocolate cake, Kurogane noted duly, musing on whether he ought to poke the confection with a fork, maybe make it look like he's eaten it, or just let it sit. Either way sent a message.
The boy had clearly done the stupid thing in that situation. He'd told him to hold back. He'd told him that feet were for walking and that hands were where the weapons should be. Had the kid used the arms he'd been outfitted with, then this could have been different. Instead, it was Little Doggy down and out for at least a week. The docor's fees had been exorbitant, probably most of his earnings for the evening, but Syaoran would make it. Bed rest for a while, but he'd pull through.
For some reason, though, he felt the driving need to know whether or not the kid would have a slice of cake on his bedside table. Of chocolate cake.
Why did it even matter? He hated sugary things.
The display case behind the counter was stocked full of them, though. Strange creations that Fai had introduced him to (but not been able to cram down his throat as of yet) like nut doughs, or something, which had the centers cut out of them and frosting piled on top. Or, shortcake, a cake that was not really very short compared to all the other cakes in the cases, but did not seem to receive sugar. He reasoned that he might go for that one, if worst came to worst and the magician foisted some of his cooking on him.
Though, not everything was Fai's handiwork. Some items, even popular best sellers, came from the talent of the Cat's Eye's other chef. Several of the frozen cakes, drizzled with chocolate and strawberry sauces with a sprig of mint delicately placed on top were frequently ordered, as well as the parfaits and sugary wings of pastry that had been crafted into shapes like hearts, stars and then frosted with a light dash of confectioner's sugar.
Kurogane stared hard at the cake. Everything in this damnable place was sugar. Couldn't a ninja get a break?
He supposed that he could always take the walk down to Clover if he wanted to have to deal with the wizard bounding along merrily and demanding that they take hoe a sack full of liquor to gorge themselves on. This particular event had no set day to occur on: it was guaranteed to happen every time Kurogane went to get a bottle of sake, or even a glass, but the cafe had been so busy lately that nothing had taken place for quite a few days.
The cake stared back.
Kurogane stared more fiercely. This was turning into quite the contest.
He was hungry. That much was true.
He wanted a nice bento box selection of his favorite foods: a few rolls of fresh sashimi, tuna, shrimp, all neatly lain across sticky chunks of rice, complete with ginger shavings in the corner, and seaweed placed neatly to the side. Stomach pining for the tastes of his old home, he sighed. What was before him was as far from that as it could get. He couldn't stand sugar and didn't see why anyone should want to keep force-feeing him it. Wasn't one bad experience enough?
At this point, Kurogane could have left and avoided any confrontation, could have said he hadn't noticed the cake, despite it being so obvious (he was a tired ninja, but a ninja above all, and didn't overlook things), or that he'd had a rough night and his stomach wouldn't take anything, despite its protestations. He probably should have left, but he remained glued in the chair. Why?
Because it would hurt.
He'd see her disappointed face and he'd watch the excitement ebb out of those emerald green eyes.
Oh, but how he hated cake...
The last patrons were heading out. At the counter, Sakura was industriously wrapping a box of cookies for a couple, probably oni hunters out on a date, he surmised, as they waited and oggled the other merchandise. The magician stood by the register, tallying up the day's efforts and taking stock of the remaining inventory. From where Kurogane was sitting, he could make out some of the conversation the couple was having.
"Oh, look at that! Chocolate cake with raspberry fondant and creamy, chocolate ice glaze! Mmm...sounds heavenly, dont'cha think?" The lady bent forward to examine the display case further. Her partner agreed.
"Doesn't it? Looks like it comes with ice cream filling, too. Too bad, though, looks like they've all sold out."
Kurogane refused to look down at his plate, instead focusing on the window. If an oni would just attack right now, maybe it could save him some shred of dignity...
This would have been, undoubtedly, the worst time for Fai to have said anything, so, naturally, Fai said something.
"Ah, the cake? You've got a fine eye for pastry. It's a new dish that Sakura-chan here created and even though it's only been out for a day, it's been selling like hotcakes. I can't seem to keep any out in the display for long." He laughed and went on to describe the ingredients and the cake itself in fuller detail.
At this point it seemed irrational not to look at the dessert before him. Kurogane noted the chocolate and ice cream layers, and the gentle swirl of raspberry draped over it, melded with chocolate fudge. Yup, no doubt about it. But...Sakura had actually made a cake?
"I helped her with the chocolate bases, but, yes ma'am, our lovely Sakura-chan took care of the rest."
And she'd given it to him. Not her boyfriend. Not to say that the kid was her boyfriend anyway--that didn't matter at all. Why should it if it did?
He felt better by shifting his chair so that he wouldn't have to see the counter any more.
The scene was gone from his line of vision, but he could still hear them perfectly. Sakura must have blushed wildly at something because the wizard commented on it, and Sakura, in an effort to retain her dignity, offered to bake another cake for the pair. Kurogane sighed. First, any baking done this late at night was bound to come out badly (he'd seen it happen a hundred times before), second, it would make the entire cafe, and consequently the living quarters upstairs, unbearably hot for the remainder of the evening, and third, goddammit, he had a piece of the thrice-damned cake right in front of him!
He had half a mind just to walk up to the couple and thrust it in their faces, say something sharp about gifts from teenage girls, and then storm off to the roof in a huff, where he would remain for the rest of the night.
Needless to say, Kurogane was relieved to hear the couple decline her request ("It's much too late to be baking things, dear! But thank you so much for offering.") and they said that they would come back in the afternoon tomorrow if she could bake them a cake and set it aside for Team Clarion. Sakura promised she would.
"Alright, that's that, Little Kitty-san!" Fai patted his coworker amiably on the shoulders. "Good job today, now it's just cleaning up. Want to go check on Little Puppy-Kun?"
A pause. Kurogane thought he heard something whispered.
"Oh, alright then." He could just imagine that mage winking, sharing some little secret. "If that's what you want, Sakura-chan."
Footsteps going up stairs. But which ones...?
The chair across from him is pulled out and she sits down in it. Sakura gave him a small smile.
"Fai-san told me that you and Syaoran-kun were oni-fighting with a big group today."
He doesn't want to meet her eyes. "Yeah. You're worried for him?"
Stupid question. They're lovers in their world, weren't they? He hasn't been with the group long by he can tell something's up between them. Sometimes there's someone even a dimension couldn't drag you away from...oh yes, he knew that little tidbit very well, didn't he?
"Of course I am! Poor Syaoran-kun! I wish I could do something for him..."
Alright, now the obvious question. He hated himself for asking it.
"Why don't you try giving him something?" He gestured to his cake.
"I thought I would, but the doctor said it was best if he didn't eat anything until morning. I'll have some doughnuts ready by then and I'll see if he's ready for them." Her hands flew to her mouth. "Kurogane-san! You haven't touched your cake! Is there something wrong with it?"
No. Of course not. I was just waiting for--
He gave himself a rough, abrupt pinch on his arm. What had he almost thought?
"No, nothing's wrong. I was just thinking."
She waited. Kurogane grimaced inwardly.
"Looks good, though."
Why had he said that? Now he'd have to eat it...
Compliantly, he poised his fork over a corner of the cake, away as far from the frosting, chocolate sauce, powdered sugar, and ice cream (filling or topping), as he could get. And he bit into it. Sakura looked relieved and smiled, asking:
"What do you think? Tell me the truth, okay?"
Holy hell, it was horrible. All the sugar just in the chocolate cake's base was clogging his mouth, griming his teeth with fudge...he withheld a shiver. No. Not in front of her.
"It's not what I usually eat. In fact," he gave the fork a wary glance, "I don't think I've ever had chocolate cake before."
"Really? You mean they don't have them in Nihon?"
"No," Kurogane replied, taken slightly aback that she'd remembered his country's name. She'd been sleeping so much, he thought she wouldn't even--
"Well, I'm glad then. I actually made it because..." The words rushed out. "I wanted it to be special. The colors, it's really silly, I know, I mean, chocolate and raspberry... It's just that I was so worried..."
Worried? About what? She slept through just about everything...she shouldn't be able to recall anything to worry about.
The ninja's confusion must have been evident because Sakura called him out on it.
Kurogane had felt compelled to take another bite of the cake, accidentally nicking a frosting patch. He still wasn't that good with a fork yet. But on hearing this last reply, whether because of the reply itself or the sheer shock of having the pure sugar in liquid form that was frosting in contact with his taste buds, he choked.
Sakura hadn't seemed to notice.
"I wondered if everything was alright...you seem so lonely and if there was a reason you know, I don't mind hearing it. I can't do much but...I want..." Her brow furrowed. "I guess I just want to make everybody feel better...Kurogane-san? Oh my-- are you choking?"
Oh, gods, was it so obvious?
"I'll go get help! J-just stay there! Don't move! Wait, I'm on my--"
Her words were cut off with a loud smack as she crashed into the wall near the stairs. Kurogane, now thoroughly finished with his choking escapade, got up and walked to her, still lying on the floor.
"Oh, Kurogane-san...are you okay now?"
He nodded. "Yup, fine as ever. You, however, are not."
The damage would probably amount to a bruised elbow, a few scuffs, and maybe a couple addled memories. But Sakura already had quite a number of those, so he doubted a few more would make a difference.
"There was something..." Her eyelids fluttered sleepily. It wasn't uncommon for her to need a nap, especially after sustaining injury, he knew. Otherwise, he might just have felt the smallest twinge of worry pecking away at him. "...something I needed to ask you..."
"Not now. Ask me in the morning."
She nodded, each nod slower than the last, and finally the sounds of even breathing drifted up to Kurogane's ears.
"Well, looks like you two certainly had an eventful night."
Every hair on Kurogane's neck shot straight up. "It's not like it seems."
"It never is, Kuro-pii, it never is." Fai graced his ninja friend with a wink and scooped Sakura's limp body up in his arms. "I'll escort Little Kitty-chan up to her room for the night. You ought to turn in as well or else you'll have trouble fighting oni tomorrow, saa?"
He smiled as he departed, taking the princess with him.
Kurogane went back to his table and studied the cake. Geez, all that effort for something that he'd detest...
What had the girl said? Something about colors...
Raspberry and chocolate. From what he knew of cooking, it was that maroony stuff and the brown that was everywhere.
He snorted. What in hell did maroon and brown mean? Damned if he knew...
And then it hit him. He swallowed, looked at the cake again for confirmation, and ran a hand through his hair uncertainly.
Raspberry and chocolate. Red and black.
A little off: they didn't exactly match the deep hues of his cloak, but the resemblance was there.
Standing up shakily, Kurogane didn't clean up the plate, didn't do anything, except concentrate on getting to the roof.
He did not sleep well that night.