Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue

Smile

(A.N.) This was written for my friend, Puppy. A little bit, a very little bit, of fluff with KuroxFai.


It was a miserably hot day. It seemed as if the ground was melting under the heavy heat waves, and mirages of water seemed to hover before the eyes of all. The worst part was that there seemed to be no end of it in sight. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, no promise of rain on the horizon.

Dragging their feet, Fai and Kurogane trudged on, practically groaning under the weight of the stifling air.

"I can't believe this," Kurogane growled, hefting the bag on his shoulder. He was loosing his grip due to the sweat on his palms. "Stupid kid wanting some stupid books."

"He just wanted to know the history of the region. It would make finding the feather much easier," Fai replied reasonably. He was carrying nothing.

"But why did we have to go get them?"

"Because we're the parents."

"Would you stop saying that?!"

"Anything to make you happy, Kuro-pii."

"Stop calling me that!" Kurogane shouted whipping around to face the unburdened mage.

Fai spread his empty hands wide, smiling brightly. "I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about, Kuro-rin."

The ninja ground his teeth together in response. His irritation was not helping the heat to go away. In fact, it was making it all worse. Annoyed, he tugged at the collar of his shirt, trying to alleviate some of the stifling heat. Then he readjusted his grip on the bag. Again. "Why am I the one carrying this stuff?" he grumbled.

"Because you're the father."

More teeth grinding. "I thought I told you to—"

"Look!" Fai interrupted, pointing over Kurogane's shoulder. "We're almost there. We should hurry up." The mage began to saunter off and cast a glance over his shoulder at the ninja. "Aren't you coming, Kuro-sama?"

Muttering obscene curses, Kurogane followed. How did he manage to get himself into these sorts of dumb errands? It seemed as if, whenever the kids wanted something, Fai and he ended up taking care of it. The mage just couldn't leave him out of it. One smile from the blond and Kurogane found himself hard pressed to refuse. Why was that?

The ninja grumbled under his breath and pushed such ridiculous ponderings from his mind. He would just say no next time. He would. There would be no more of running errands at the blonde's every whim.

…After this was done, of course.

Kurogane followed after Fai, catching up easily. He took much longer steps than the mage did. "This is the last time," he swore out loud, intent on getting his point and his resolve across.

"Of course it is," Fai agreed easily, with one of those infernal smiles that Kurogane hated. "Until the next time."

The ninja sputtered. He had to resist the urge to hurl the bag of heavy books at his companion. "There isn't going to be a next time, damn it. Are you even listening to me?"

After making a non-committal hum, Fai added, "Don't I always?"

"No."

"Ah. Well, then." Fai's tone was mild, and the dark haired ninja could hear that smile in the mage's voice.

The remainder of the journey passed in silence, with the exception of Kurogane's incessant and disgruntled growls of complaint. But those died away after a few minutes as well. It really was too hot to keep up a conversation, even if that conversation was unintelligible and with yourself.

Fai made no comment on the other man's grumblings. Instead, he kept his leisurely pace and grinned. He also did not mention the fact that the ninja's strides moderated themselves so that they walked side by side.

The small village that Syaoran, Sakura, and Mokona had stayed behind at was finally within sight. All in all, the trip had taken the better part of five hours, almost all of it in the hot afternoon sun. Both Fai and Kurogane expected to have vivid, painful sunburns. It was just another tally in the negative column as far as Kurogane was concerned, though Fai didn't seem in the least concerned about it.

Upon entering the hut that they were renting from a local, Fai and Kurogane found themselves greeted warmly by the kids and pounced on by the lively marshmallow.

"Get off of me, you overgrown manju!" the ninja hissed, knocking the excited Mokona away.

The white creature bounced away and went immediately to Fai. "Kuro-kuro is being mean, Fai!"

"Isn't he always?" Fai mused as he patted Mokona on the head.

"I'm standing right here, you know." Scowling, the ninja tossed the sack of books at Syaoran's feet. "Here. And don't ask me to do it again."

Solemnly, but with a small smile, the boy nodded and said, "Thanks. But, if I recall, it was Fai I asked and it was him who convinced you to go."

Kurogane grunted, acknowledging only that he had heard Syaoran's words. Then he collapsed into a spindly chair and seized the pitcher of water sitting on the table. But before he could gulp down any of the blessedly cool liquid, he was interrupted.

"Ah, Kuro-rin?" Fai said innocently.

The pitcher poised just millimeters from his lips, Kurogane growled, "What?" His tone was pure menace.

"I was wondering if you would mind running to the apothecary and find some aloe. I've got a pretty terrible sunburn."

"Absolutely n—!" He made the mistake of shifting his gaze to glare at the blond.

Fai was smiling. "Please?"

"…Fine."

Damn that smile.

(A.N.) Well, that's it. Please leave reviews. They make me happy.