(A/N) I'm actually sort of surprised at how I came up with this idea. I was watching Labyrinth one night and I just happened to be flipping through volume thirteen of the manga and the two just merged, right there, on the spot. I thought to myself, "My gods, it's the perfect effing crossover! It practically writes itself." You know, I confess myself amazed that no one else has tried this idea. Seriously, I looked through the section and there was nothing as far as I could tell. Most fandoms I've tried my hand at have a million Labyrinth crossovers. So yes, obviously this plot bunny is based on the movie Labyrinth and there will be a lot of familiar elements, but neither will it be the movie word for frickin word. That would get a little old after a bit. I also admit that this is my first attempt both at a Tsubasa fic and a shounen-ai story, so let's just take this new model for a test-drive and hope we don't crash.

Warnings: Yes, shounen-ai, slash, gay, bl, mm, blatant homosexuality, whatever term you care to use, that is in this story. In fact, it's central to the story and I'm on board with the standard "don't like, don't read" scenario. There may even be yaoi or lemon or whatever word you wanna use. I haven't quite decided on that yet. And if someone should feel the need to trash me for it, I feel that it is my moral obligation to tell said someone that I have been bitched out by far better flamers than you and, to quote the Operative, "You can't make me angry". And now that I've succeeded in making myself sound like a high and mighty prick, let's continue on to more fun things. This story takes place during the Nihon Arc so there are spoilers up through chapitre 175 or so in the manga. Can't think of anything else in particular, so…consider yourself warned.

Disclaimer: Alrighty, my pretties, I'm only going to do this once, so pay attention. Why do we even feel the need to use disclaimers? The name of the site is fanfiction. As such, of course I don't own Tsubasa or Labyrinth. Why does this bear repeating? Oh come on, don't tell me the rest of you authors out there have never thought about that! (Looks back at the extremely long intro) Ooooooookay, maybe it's time to stop ranting and start writing. Happy trails. I wish everyone cute, fuzzy Kuro-rin and Fai plushies.

The Center of the Labyrinth

Chapter 1: I Wish…

No one can blame you

For walking away

"At least…while you're asleep…have good dreams," Fai whispered before turning away from Ashura for the last time.

But too much rejection

No love injection

Kurogane tilted Fai's head back with the sheath of his sword, forcing him to look him in the eye. "The ones I hate most in the world are the guys who still have lives to live, but don't make any effort to live them."

Life can't be easy

It's not always swell

Pain beyond pain. He had thought it was bad when the clone had ripped his eye out of his head, but at least then he'd managed to keep himself from screaming. Now, he could not control it. Screams of intense pain were torn from his throat as his body collapsed in on itself and was rebuilt atom by painful atom. What had that fool ninja done to him?

Don't tell me truth hurts, little boy

'cause it hurts like hell

"It was my fault…all this time…that you weren't allowed to sleep," Fai whispered to the shade of his twin as he finally allowed him to slip away. "I'm sorry."

But down in the underground

You'll find someone true

Fai's eye widened in shock as Kurogane's blood splashed onto his face and the severed arm fell to the floor before him. Why would he…he was not worth the sacrifice…and he still…why?

Down in the underground

A land serene, a crystal moon

Tears flowed unchecked from Fai's remaining eye. He couldn't stop the bleeding! Kurogane was unconscious and still bleeding! The damn ninja couldn't leave well enough alone and let him die…and now he would pay the ultimate price for it.

Damn it, Kurogane! I won't lose you, too. He would follow right after him if it came to that. But the next thing he knew, hands were reaching…trying to take Kurogane away from him. At first, the wizard fought, but then he felt a cool hand on his cheek…and a warm voice…

"Don't worry. Kurogane will not die."

It's only forever

It's not long at all

"You too, drink," Kurogane commanded softly, offering Fai the arm he had just sliced open. Fai hesitated for a moment, two different instincts battling inside him as they did every time Kurogane made him do this. His heart cried out that it was disgusting and that he should die rather than continue doing it, but the vampire in him screamed for the thick red liquid seeping out of the ninja's open veins.

"If you won't drink, then do as you want," Kurogane sighed irritably. "It'll just keep flowing like this."

"You really are a lost case…Kurogane," Fai said sadly, finally accepting his offer and placing his lips against Kurogane's skin, his heart dying a little more even as the vampire was sated by the metallic tang.

Lost and lonely

That's underground, underground

XxX

Fai awoke with a start. It took him a few minutes to remember that he was in Nihon. When he glanced outside, he saw that the sky was dark. He must have been asleep for several hours, because the last thing he remembered was wandering into the library of Shirasagi castle in the afternoon. Now he found himself sitting in a chair with an open scroll in his lap. He vaguely recalled picking the scroll up, even though he knew that he wouldn't be able to read it.

"What a strange dream," the mage said to himself as he poured over the unfamiliar language. No matter how hard he tried to remember, he could not manage to link all of the fading images together into something that made sense. The only thing he was certain of was that he had heard Ashura-ou's voice.

"But he's dead," Fai said softly, not quite sure how he felt about that yet. Everything had happened so fast since leaving Infinity and he hadn't really had a moment to take it all in. Neither did he really want a moment. Kurogane…Ashura-ou…Sakura…Fai… everything.

"An excellent choice," a voice suddenly sounded in his ear. Fai started and turned, half falling out of the chair, to see Tomoyo-hime standing right beside him. Fai sighed; he hadn't even sensed her coming, proof of just how out of it he was.

"He's still not awake?"

"No," Tomoyo said sadly. "But I have faith in him. Kurogane can pull through anything."

Fai turned away from her, glancing down at the illegible parchment. He wanted something to look at that wasn't Tomoyo. When Kurogane had been in a talking mood, he had told him quite a bit about the princess. He felt guilty for nearly losing the girl her greatest protector.

"It's my fault."

Tomoyo was about to say something but Fai stood abruptly, allowing the scroll to fall from his grip.

"It is! You know it is. He might've died. He might have died!"

"But he didn't," the princess said calmly, trying her best to work through the wizard's hysteria. "It won't help anything to dwell on what might have been. Kurogane chose his own path. His injuries are not your fault and he would be the first to say so. Only…he would probably say it in so many more words."

Fai smiled slightly, imagining just what some of those words might be.

"So…what made you choose this scroll?" Tomoyo quickly changed the subject, knowing that it would be better for Fai to discuss all of this with Kurogane and not her.

Fai picked up the fallen scroll and handed it to the princess. "I'm not sure. It's not like I can read it or anything."

"Well, either way, you made a good choice. My father brought several of these tales back from other lands. Before Amaterasu became empress and I priestess, she used to read them to me."

"What are they?"

"It's called The Labyrinth. There are many different versions of the tale, but the basic plot at the center of each one is that the King of the Goblins steals someone precious to the hero and the hero must solve the labyrinth that surrounds the Goblin King's palace. Sometimes the hero is a prince, or a princess, or even a regular person. The kidnapped person also changes from story to story. Sometimes the person will be a sibling, a best friend…maybe even a lover. The version you chose tells the story of how the Goblin King steals a young prince and his lover braves the labyrinth to save him." Tomoyo quickly glanced down at the open scroll. "You had it open at the very end when the lover confronts the Goblin King. Give me the prince," she started to read from the scroll, her voice taking on a darker, dramatic tone. Fai shuddered as he listened. He didn't know why, but the words felt strangely familiar to him.

"Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin city…to take back the man that you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours…and my kingdom is as great. You have no power over me."

As she spoke the last line, Tomoyo gazed directly into his eye. Fai suddenly had the feeling that he was being searched and turned away from the priestess-princess, unable to look at her anymore. Tomoyo kept up this probing gaze for only a moment before rolling up the scroll and placing it back on the shelf where it belonged.

"You know…perhaps you were meant to find the tale."

Ah, Fai found himself thinking. Hitsuzen again. What could it possibly want with me this time?

"Fai-san," she said softly, addressing him by name for the first time since their harried first meeting. "Please get some sleep tonight."

Fai shook his head, a mask sliding over his face more out of habit now than anything else. "I already nodded off once today and I want to be awake when Kuro-rin comes round."

Tomoyo giggled. "I think he'd forgive you this one night. If anything, I think he'd be angry with you for putting his sacrifice to shame and not taking care of yourself. Please…rest." The princess didn't wait for a response. She glided silently away through the darkness of the ancient library, leaving the mage to his thoughts.

Not really understanding why, he went back to the shelf and retrieved the scroll, pouring over the foreign words once more and wishing that he could unlock their secrets.

The story…how does it end?

XxX

"I'm sorry I've kept you waiting. You can come in now," Fai heard Tomoyo's voice through the thin sliding door. For a small instant, he panicked. What would he say to him? What did you say to someone who sliced off his arm for you? With this and more on his mind, Fai slid the door open. The first thing his eye found was Kurogane, sitting up on his futon. He gladly drank in the sight of him, alive; but his stomach turned slightly as he gazed at the spot where the ninja's left arm should have been.

At first, he tried not to look Kurogane in the eyes, but he could feel his piercing gaze on him. When he finally did look up, he was surprised to see a question in the man's eyes. His expression was not much different than usual, but Fai had known him long enough to know what his eyes could say.

Are you all right?

Fai did not answer. The question melted away and was replaced by exhaustion.

"Hey," Kurogane said in greeting.

Fai hesitated for a moment, not sure if he was in his right mind. But then he made the decision and moved forward, delivering a staggering blow to his companion's face, sending him reeling back onto the futon. The warrior didn't cry out; he just stared up at the mage in shock.

"This is payback…Kuro-sama," he explained, letting him know that everything that had been hanging between them since Tokyo was forgiven.

"You bastard," Kurogane said with a smirk. "I'll beat you up." Fai was both shocked and happy to note that the smirk did not reach his eyes. For the first time since he'd known him, Kurogane's eyes held a pure, unburdened smile. Fai returned that small token with the first true smile he had given anyone since Ashura-ou.

The two were snapped out of their moment by the sound of Tomoyo attempting to suppress a giggle. "I'll leave you two alone, then," she said as she slipped out the door, giggling to herself and shutting it behind her.

The mage and the ninja sat in silence for awhile after the princess had gone, but it wasn't the strained, aching silence that had been between them for so long. This was a comfortable silence, full of meaning. But suddenly, the silence was broken by Fai throwing himself at Kurogane. The wizard wrapped his arms around him, shouting things into his chest that he couldn't understand. Kurogane hesitated, uncertain of how to deal with this new, truthful Fai. But after awhile, he just wrapped his own arm around him and held him close, listening to him cry.

"I was so worried about you!" he finally managed to get out. "You've been out for a week. You're a god damned fool, you know that? Why did you do it?"

"Because I couldn't just leave you behind. Not when I could do something about it."

"Kuro-myuu," Fai sniffed, actually sounding affectionate when he said the nickname. "You shouldn't have done it. If you knew what was good for you, you would have left me. I'm not worth-"

"No," Kurogane interrupted him. "I don't want to hear anymore, wizard. To me…you are worth it. I don't regret this at all."

"But I do regret it, Kuro-tan," he said quietly as he pulled away from the ninja's one-armed embrace. "You…all of you…would be so much better off without me."

Kurogane was about to respond when all hell suddenly broke loose.

All of the lamps in the room went out all at once, almost as if they had been snuffed out by a giant's breath. Cackling voices sounded in the darkness and the two could feel movement all around them. Lightening flashed outside and wind pounded against the sliding door that led out to the balcony.

"What's happening?!" Fai shouted.

"Who's there?" Kurogane demanded angrily, instinctively reaching for his sword but instantly remembering that he no longer had one to draw. Could it be invaders? Was the castle under attack?

"Show yourself!" While his anger did not move the shifting shapes in the darkness to take form, they did start to move forward. The cackling shadows oozed towards the two companions.

"Kurogane, watch out!" Fai shouted, drawing the ninja's attention to his own feet. His eyes widened as he saw the liquid shadow pool around his feet and begin to climb steadily up his body, laughing maniacally all the while.

"Move!" he ordered sternly, quickly shoving Fai out of the way so the stuff wouldn't touch him. Fai hit the floor with an undignified yelp, but he was soon back on his feet.

"Kurogane!" he shouted, but there was little he could do. He could not reach him through the twisting shadows and the stuff was crawling ever faster up his body.

"Get out of here!" Kurogane managed to shout before a glob of the stuff filled his mouth. It wasn't long before the seething shadow had swallowed him completely.

"NO!" Fai screamed as he shot a bolt of magic at the living shadow. But nothing helped. The laughing shadow flared up briefly and sank back into the darkness as if it had never been.

"GIVE HIM BACK!" he screamed helplessly at nothing. Unfortunately for him, it was not nothing for long.

The wind finally succeeded in tearing through the thin balcony door, bringing with it a tall figure wreathed in shadow. Fai stared at the figure in shock, a single, helpless litany streaming through his mind.

It can't be. It can't be. It just can't be!

It was Ashura-ou…and yet not him. This man was clothed all in black, and his dark eyes were, in the truest sense, lifeless. Fai suddenly remembered the scroll from the previous night and he finally realized what the shade before him was.

"You're…him, aren't you?" he asked, half choking on the words. "You're the Goblin King."

The pale mouth twisted into a smirk, confirming what the wizard already knew.

"What have you done with Kurogane?"

"What's said is said," the king replied condescendingly.

"What are you talking about?"

"You said it yourself. Kurogane would be so much better off without you. Well…he is without you."

"This isn't what I meant," Fai said shakily. "Where is he?"

"You know very well where he is," Ashura said, the look of condescension seemingly plastered to his face.

"Please bring him back, please," Fai openly begged. He had just gotten Kurogane back. To lose him now…

"Fai," Ashura began, truly addressing him for the first time. "Go back to Sakura and Syaoran, and forget the promise you made to give up your magic. Keep it. Use it for yourself. Forget about the ninja."

"I can't," Fai said calmly.

The king raised a surprised eyebrow at this, but then he raised a hand in the air and shadows curled out of it, forming themselves into a magic staff. It was exactly the same as Fai's old staff; except this one was black instead of gold.

"I've brought you a gift. A new staff to replace the one you gave up. But this staff is not for a weak mage who barters away his powers as if they were nothing," he warned, running a pale hand down the polished length of the dark staff. "Do you want it?"

Fai stared blankly at the staff. He could sense that it was extremely powerful, but he wasn't even remotely considering the offer.

"Then forget the ninja."

"I can't," he repeated angrily. "I'd never choose a staff over Kurogane. I want him back!"

"Yuui," the man started, calling Fai by his true name and rocking him to the very core of his being. He held up the staff once more and it instantly transformed itself into a black snake. Ashura slowly unwrapped the creature from around his wrist, stretching it out to its full length.

"Don't defy me," he warned before tossing the poisonous snake at Fai. The wizard cried out as the dark creature wrapped itself around his neck, but as he clawed at its scaly skin, the snake evaporated into a hot wisp of shadow.

"You're no match for me, Fai," Ashura said laughingly.

"Whether I am or not," Fai started weakly, still rubbing his neck. "I will have Kurogane back."

Ashura sighed at this and motioned Fai over to the balcony. He pointed out the gaping hole in the wall and Fai realized that he was no longer looking at Nihon, but a different world entirely. A sprawling labyrinth stretched for miles in all directions, sucking the life out of an already barren landscape. At its very center was a castle, huge beyond measure.

"He's there…in my castle. Do you still want to look for him?"

"Is that…the castle beyond the Goblin city?" he asked, turning back to face Ashura. As he did, Fai saw that they had left Nihon behind entirely and had entered the world of the labyrinth. He also noticed that with the change in worlds, he had undergone a change in wardrobe. The clothing that Tomoyo-hime had given him had changed back into his Celesian clothes.

"Turn back, Fai," the king lamented as if the mage were already dead and buried. "Turn back before it's too late."

"I can't," Fai insisted determinedly. "Don't you understand that I can't?"

"What a pity."

"It doesn't look that far," the wizard said as he turned back to face the labyrinth, trying his best to give himself some confidence.

"It's further than you think," he suddenly heard Ashura's voice directly in his ear. "Time is short."

Fai had nothing more to say to the Ashura-spectre. His steely silence spoke volumes. He would see this through to the end.

"Another thing," the king added with a sadistic smirk. "Remove your eye patch."

"Why?"

"Just do it."

Fai didn't quite understand the command but he complied, nonetheless. He pulled the patch from his head and, to his shock, he could see perfectly well. The eye was not missing. He cast a confused face at the pale shade of his mentor.

"None of your disabilities hold here. You have both eyes and full use of your magic. Your vampiric parasite does not hold either. You can be whole here.

"Why?" was all he could manage to get out.

"Because that's the way it is in this world. And now…" Ashura raised yet another hand and summoned a very ornate clock out of thin air. "You have thirteen hours in which to solve the labyrinth before your precious ninja becomes one of us forever. Such a pity," he said as he faded into thin air.

Fai quickly turned his attention back to the labyrinth. If he only had thirteen hours, then he had no time to dwell on the Ashura-that-wasn't-Ashura.

"The labyrinth," he said to himself as he surveyed the scene…with both eyes! "It doesn't look that hard. Well, come on, feet," he said, trying to be cheerful as he started down the hill towards the outer wall. He would save Kurogane…no matter what.

XxX

"What happened to them?" Souma asked.

Tomoyo stepped into the room that had so recently been occupied by Kurogane and Fai. Souma followed close behind. There was absolutely no sign of what had just occurred, but Tomoyo knew of it just the same.

"There's no sign of a struggle," the female ninja commented.

"There wouldn't be," the young princess said serenely. "The wizard of Celes and the warrior of Nihon must both face one last test before they can move forward."

Souma glanced around the empty room once more. She had no idea what was going on, but she trusted her princess.

"Gods be with you, Kurogane…and with your companion."

XxX

(A/N) To be honest with you, I almost want to rewrite the opening. It seems a little disjointed to me. But hey, so be it. Do let me know what y'alls think. If anyone's interested, I can have a new chapter up within the week.

BTW, anyone who caught the Serenity reference in the intro just became 90 percent cooler.