He glanced at the scroll of paper he'd been using to keep track of the days. He wasn't even sure if time flowed the same way any more here, but, if it did, then today was the day. He was really quite miffed that she'd kept him away like this, and hadn't, not even as a gift to him, rescinded his banishment and allowed him to come back home.

He sighed. What a happy birthday this was turning out to be.

It had been his worst fear that any of the others would find out, though, happily, with the dragonfly race dawning soon over the horizon, they hadn't been paying too much attention to things other than learning to pilot and keep themselves airborne without falling. They were slowly getting better, but it was still going to be long haul to winning the race. The only good this about it, he reasoned, was that with four people they at least had something of a chance at winning the silly thing.

And, luckily, they wouldn't know about it.

It was just...he'd been hoping, foolishly, that perhaps Tomoyo would want him back. Maybe she'd miss him on his birthday and would see that he'd done enough, had to go through more than his share of trouble, and that taking him out of it now would be great. Even for just the day.

Pulling on his boots, slacks, and scarf (the latter he really didn't understand why was so necessary to flying around, but they were trying to fit in again, and so they all wore them), he stifled a yawn. But, then, leaving these three to try to galavant across worlds on their own...

Kurogane was presented, courtesy of his imagination, with a strikingly vivid picture of the wizard haplessly dragging the kids off into uncertain lands and certain doom, laughing all the way. He frowned. Guess he was just going to have to stick with it, then. Stupid moral obligations.

Ploncking the googles (also standard fly-wear) on top of his head, he took a quick look at himself in the mirror before heading down. He almost thought for a moment that he could see Tomoyo's face ohoho-ing at him, but that was absurd. He cast a disapproving look back at the glass before departing, though, just in case.

He checked for Syaoran outside, expecting the boy to be fiddling about with the machinery, but found nothing, not even a scrap of paper telling him that they'd all gone shopping for new parts. Sakura wasn't in the kitchen or in sleeping in her room, or even careening around in the sky (which was pretty ease to notice), and he couldn't find Fai anywhere. Damn, he must have gotten up much later than he'd thought...

Deciding against continuing the fruitless hunt, he sat down at a table outside, and, after a little while of this, went to go work on his car.

A few minutes later, he was disturbed from his work by the sound of a glass dropping to the ground. Suddenly, his training and experience took over and he found himself croutched behind his racer, ready to spring at the intruder should they present themselves a target outside.

Nothing happened.

He waited some more.

Still nothing.

He gave up, and marched back into the house, ready to take out anyone he found trespassing and get as much information out of them as possible.

Instead of a break-in, he found...

A cake, with letters written on it in red and purple, and three people smiling at him and shouting "Surprise!"

He hastily sheathed Sohi, and tried not to look like he'd been on the verge of killing people.

"Saa, Syaoran-kun, I told you he'd think we were going to attack him and take it the wrong way."

The boy sighed, and Sakura smiled up at him, a party hat titled askew on her head. "Happy Birthday, Kurogane!"

The ninja was mystified. "But how did you all know?" And where the hell had that cake come from? Was cake a tradition or something? He typically got taken out for sushi at his favorite restaurant, not presented with sweets and more sugar than his body could handle. Man, these worlds were weird.

Sakura tapped her forehead knowledgeably. "I had a dream a few nights ago--"

Kurogane shook his head, running a hand through his hair. She didn't have to say any more. It was pretty easy to figure out the work of a dreamseer once you saw it in action.

And, as he blew out the candles and Mokona jumped out of the cake, freaking him out to no end (in what, strangely enough, was one more tradition they had him do--and one he found he slightly enjoyed--the candle-blowing out, not the pork bun surprise-- and found himself wondering maybe if he could get candles in his sushi next year), he couldn't help but think of a princess far, far away, and the fact that she had remembered his birthday.

That, he considered, as he dutifully took a bite of his cake, mattered more than anything else.