A/N: Hey everyone, remember me? It's been a while, huh? So I decided to do one of those challenge thingies, although I made the list up myself rather than getting it from some fanfic challenge journal. I selected fifty words at random, trying to have at least one for each letter of the alphabet, out of my dictionary and put them down on a list. Of course, if the word was completely unusable (like xylem, for example) I threw it out but for the most part, I tried to stick with what I got. And here is the result… I hope you like how the first one turned out more than I do. Our first word is "game". I meant for it to be more lighthearted and silly but then those two loveable idiots named Kurogane and Fai came and did a massive poop of SERIOUS right in the middle of my word document. Jerks.
The sight of that stupid miniature black cat grinning up at him from his cereal bowl made Kurogane want to smack a bitch. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes and counted to ten in his head, desperately trying to rein in his temper; that stupid, bastardly wizard was obviously the one behind this. The temper-control thing wasn't working. With each number that he counted to Kurogane thought of another painful and distinctly unpleasant thing that he wanted to do to Fai the next time they met. Not only that, but taking this pause only allowed time for his anger to crescendo, building up like a tidal wave in his chest.
Meanwhile, Sakura and Syaoran, who were sitting across the breakfast table from the ninja, looked on in dismay as Kurogane, who was so wrapped up in his rage that he wasn't paying attention to his own actions, continued to tip his cereal box, the place from whence the source of his fury had tumbled, and spill cereal all over the table. The two of them traded nervous glances, engaging in a silent but by now well-rehearsed conversation with their eyes. "Shall we run?" "Yes, I think we'd better." Nearly tripping over their own chairs in their haste the younger travelers made a desperate escape just in time to avoid the explosion.
"DAMMIT, YOU USELESS MAGICIAN!! GET YOUR SCRAWNY ASS IN HERE SO I CAN KICK IT!!"
A few seconds later Fai bounded into the kitchen, the smile on his face suggesting that he had been promised an ice cream cone rather than a beating.
"You called, Kuropin?" he asked cheerfully.
"Don't you smirk at me, you skinny little shit!" Kurogane spat. "What did I tell you about hiding this damn thing in my stuff, huh?!" He held up the offending toy cat in a shaking fist.
Fai giggled shyly. "And what did I tell you about it, Kurochii?"
"Mokona remembers!" the white creature chirped from its perch on Fai's shoulder. "Fai said that it was to remind Kurogane that Fai loves him!"
"Very good, Mokona!" Fai gushed joyfully. "You're so smart!"
Ever since Fai had come across the little cat toy in a knick-knack shop two worlds ago he had made it a game to hide it somewhere new for Kurogane to find each day. His explanation for it was that when the warrior found it he would be reminded of his own Big Kitty and how much he loved him. Fai had also bought a matching miniature toy dog from the same shop so that Kurogane could hide it for him, which, of course, Kurogane had flatly refused to do. The dog sat untouched in the inner pocket of the swordsman's cloak (although he refused to participate in Fai's stupid games, for some odd reason Kurogane couldn't bring himself to get rid of the toy).
Fai, however, seemed completely undeterred by Kurogane's lack of cooperation and tenaciously hid the cat for him every day. And every day upon finding the cat Kurogane tenaciously made a huge show of his irritation and usually ended up chasing the blond around for a while, brandishing his sword and hurling an impressive array of threats at him. But today Kurogane was even angrier about finding the toy than usual. While Fai wasn't completely sure about the reason for this he suspected that it had something to do with the fact that yesterday's hiding spot had been taped to the inside of Kurogane's boxers, something that the ninja had failed to notice until he already had them on (not that Fai had been secretly watching him get dressed or anything).
"I don't care!" Kurogane snapped. "I already said that I don't need your damn love!"
"Don't be silly, Kurotan," Fai said lightly. "Everyone needs love; even big mean doggies."
"Like hell I do," he growled. "Here's what I think of your stupid 'love' shit."
He snatched the toy cat from his bowl and tossed it over Fai's head where it landed neatly in the garbage. "I don't need love from anyone, especially not an annoying bastard like you!"
The mage was silent, his copious blond bangs hiding his eyes from view. Kurogane was immediately overcome by a crushing sensation of guilt, especially when he saw, if only for a fraction of a second, Fai's lips tremble as though he was going to cry. The swordsman was terrified; he hadn't meant to make him cry.
"Poor Fai!" Mokona cried, nuzzling the magician sympathetically. "That was a terrible thing to say, Kurogane!"
"Tch. Like I care," Kurogane grumbled. For lack of anything better to do, he began to clean up the cereal that he had spilled on the table. Fai turned around and left the kitchen without a word, Mokona chattering comforting words in his ear.
The mood around the house for the rest of the day was awkward and noticeably depressed. Fai, who was usually brimming with energy, sat by himself and gazed at the floor as his mind wallowed in his emotional torment. Of course, when Mokona or one of the children would direct a question at him, he would quickly look up and answer with a smile like he usually did, but once he had given his reply he would return to his previous state of dispair.
Kurogane too tried to act as though nothing had happened but wasn't all that much more convincing than Fai. Not long after their fight, the ninja had developed an odd sort of stomach ache that refused to leave him alone. It was different from anything he had ever experienced before but he simply wrote it off as his body's reaction to this world's strange diet. Sakura got worried and upset when she entered the kitchen to find him dumping two pink little indigestion pills into his hand.
"Are you ok, Kurogane san?" she asked concernedly. "Do you feel sick?"
"Hmph…It's not a big deal," he grumbled, rolling his eyes. He hated it when people worried about him, especially when he wasn't in any real trouble. "Just the milk I put on my cereal this morning…I didn't drink milk back home so I'm not used to it."
"Are you sure?" she persisted. "Maybe you should lie down…"
"I said it's not a big deal. Just a little stomach ache…" Kurogane swallowed the pills, blushing slightly at her fussing over him.
"Ok…" Sakura said hesitantly, still looking unconvinced. "But please, Kurogane san, don't strain yourself."
Mokona joined the swordsman in the kitchen as well just as Sakura was leaving it.
"Mokona wants to talk to Kurogane," Mokona said seriously, it's usual mischievous grin nowhere to be seen.
Kurogane snorted. "Well, I don't want to talk to you."
"It's about Fai," Mokona continued.
There was a brief silence between them before Kurogane let out a sigh from between clenched teeth. "What do you want?"
"Let's talk in Kurogane's room," the white creature suggested. "Mokona doesn't think Fai would like it if Fai heard what we were talking about…"
As much as Kurogane hated to admit it, that last statement made him curious to hear what the white manjuu had to say. He picked it up and set it on his shoulder before slipping inconspicuously upstairs to his room. Once the door was safely shut behind him, Kurogane folded his arms and glared down at Mokona who had hopped off of his shoulder and landed on the bed.
"Kurogane… really hurt Fai when Kurogane said all those mean things this morning," Mokona said, its frown somewhat accusatory.
The warrior rolled his eyes. "I already told you, I don't care about that."
The white rabbit-like thing shook its head sadly. "Even though Fai smiles all the time, Fai's heart is really fragile. He's been lonely for a really long time, only being with Sakura and Syaoran and Kurogane makes Fai feel a little bit better. But when Kurogane is mean to him it hurts Fai way more than it would hurt anyone else."
Kurogane shrugged. "So the guy's a wimp. He needs to toughen up."
"Mokona thinks that it hurts Kurogane when Kurogane is mean to Fai, too."
"…Don't be stupid, Manjuu. Why the hell would it hurt me?"
"Kurogane has had a tummy ache ever since the fight with Fai, hasn't he?"
Kurogane stared, his eyes slightly widened with surprise. "And just what the hell would you know about it?"
"One of Mokona's 108 secret skills is being able to tell when people are lonely," Mokona explained. "When Kurogane and Fai aren't getting along, Mokona can tell that it makes Kurogane lonelier too. That's why Kurogane's tummy has been hurting."
The ninja thought about this. The very idea seemed completely absurd but when he examined that sick feeling that he'd been having in the pit of his stomach, a part of him realized that what Mokona said was true. Kurogane let out a frustrated snarled and put his face in his hands, hardly able to believe that he was letting himself get so worked up over something so stupid.
"What do think I should do then, if you're so damn smart?" he growled.
Mokona's usual grin returned. "Mokona thinks that maybe Kurogane and Fai need to finish their game."
Kurogane stared at Mokona, completely lost. "Huh?"
"It's Kurogane's move," the white creature said.
It took another moment but eventually Kurogane caught on. He sighed reluctantly; he knew what he had to do.
Fai excused himself from the presence of his companions early that night and retired to his room, unable to handle the tension any longer. Even though he had done practically nothing that day but mope around, Fai felt exhausted. But his fatigue was spiritual rather than physical. Maybe it had been stupid of him to insist on playing the cat-hiding game with Kurogane, after all. He flopped down on his bed, facedown, but rolled over when he felt something small and slightly hard and uneven between his chest and the mattress. It took a little bit of digging around in the covers but finally he was able to unearth the culprit. When he was finally able to figure out what it was, despite the dimness of the room, he felt his breath catch in his chest and his face break into the first smile he had worn all day. There, sitting in his hand, were the miniature toy cat and dog, tied together with a piece of red string, their lips joined in a kiss.
A/N: So there it is. I thought this was a pretty clever idea until I realized that I'd already done almost exactly the same thing for one of my other fics. But maybe if I don't say anything, no one will notice. No, wait…shit. Wow, good job, idiot. Anyway, the next challenge word is "reticence". Stay tuned.