Dedicated to one of my real life friends, who shall henceforth be known as Souma-kun, because she gave me the two word prompt that inadvertently led to this one-shot: trickle and dew drop. (I have no illusions that she will ever read this; after all, she doesn't know I write fanfiction or that I write boy on boy fanfiction. -chuckle-) I'm not sure how in character this really is; I've done my best but Fai is really hard to grasp, especially when he's with Ashura. (Celes gives me so much to work with and I absolutely love it; maybe that's why every KuroFai story I attempt tries to turn into AshuraFai at one point or another... Ha!) Anyway, without further ado...

Snow Daisies

The snow daisies are blooming early this year, Fai thinks as he cups a dainty white blossom in his gloved hand. Summer must be on its way. mild Ashura x Fai; CELES SPOILERS

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The snow daisies are blooming early this year, Fai thinks as he cups a dainty white blossom in his gloved hand. Dewdrops cling to its gossamer petals, trembling delicately as he breathes on the plant to warm it. The ground is cold, and it's a little before the time when spring will actually begin, but his flowers don't seem to know that.

He hears footsteps behind him and gently releases the blossom before standing and sketching a bow. "Ashura-ou-sama." He greets his king with a smile.

Ashura steps forward to join him at the edge of the terraced gardens, his booted toes coming to rest a hairsbreadth away from the moist earth. "They're blooming early, aren't they?" he says, echoing Fai's previous thought, and the blonde thinks he sees concern in his king's gaze.

"Yes," he replies, and his smile widens, "but they'll be fine. Maybe it means the weather will get warmer even faster!"

The pale king turns to regard him now, and gives the smile that makes Fai feel like his heart will beat its way out of his chest. "Maybe," he agrees, and takes Fai by the elbow. "But you're going to miss breakfast if you stay out here any longer."

Even through his two layers of sleeves, Fai can feel the warmth of Ashura's fingers, and he hides it with a smile. "Sweets?" he asks playfully. "I told the cooks I was making pastries today!"

Ashura chuckles, and something in Fai thrills at the sound. "Not for breakfast," the man replies, and steers him back into the castle.

--

"Ou-sama?"

They're sitting in the parlor just outside of the library; Fai is curled up with a sleepy Chii in one armchair and Ashura occupies the other, reading a book with only the illumination of the lazy, flickering flames. When Fai speaks, Chii gives a sleepy sigh and rests her head on his chest.

The king puts down his book. "Yes?" he replies, looking up. Fai's heart leaps, and his hand finds and strokes Chii's long hair.

"Do you think there will be a blizzard tonight?" he asks, feeling the reality of snow very far away in his comfortable surroundings. It's hard even to react to Ashura-ou's gaze; he's inexplicably tired and the warmth of the fire and the softness of the couch and the closeness of Chii all combine to make him feel drowsy and content.

Ashura looks up for a moment, and Fai feels him extending a silvery thread of power through the ceiling of the parlor and up through the icy roof of the castle itself, through the web of magic that suspends it, into the brittle night sky. "Not tonight," he answers, finally.

A log falls with a thump deeper into the fire, which crackles and sends a small wave of heat into the room. Fai nestles deeper into the cushions, and Chii cuddles even closer. "Good," he murmurs as his eyes begin to close against his will. "I was worried about... protecting the flowers..."

He comes awake briefly as he is being carried through cold, ice-coated hallways in Ashura's arms, and then once more to find himself tossing fitfully in his bed - alone.

--

Dawn comes bright and clear and maybe a little warmer than the day before. As the sun gets higher, Fai can hear the steady drip, drip of the icicles in the throne room, thawing out as another warm season begins. His flowers seem to herald the change with joy - the snow daisies seem hardier than before, and among the rows of narcissus he can see tiny, pale-green shoots questing up through the ground.

He forgot his shoes and gloves today, and his slippered feet are cold on the stone of the garden paths. He curls and uncurls his toes as he stands and observes his flowers, trying to create some friction to warm them. His hands remain tucked under his arms, and he shivers.

The cook said she was leaving today, on her annual vacation to spend summer with her relatives in town. To Fai, that means he will be in control of all their meals, and he's already planning a dinner of nothing but sweets-

Without warning, another cloak is settled across his shoulders. Fai turns with an expression of surprise.

Ashura-ou is standing behind him with a small smile, and his own royal robes are draped across Fai's back. The blonde fingers the thick fabric with wondering fingers, stroking the fur lining while searching for something to say. The garment is filled with Ashura's scent - pine boughs and ice - and the aroma envelops Fai until he feels positively giddy.

"You looked cold," the pale king says finally, breaking the fragile silence. His shirt is also white and lined with blue-dyed fur to match his cloak, the opposite of Fai's own outfit. It emphasizes the straight line of his back and shoulders, his strong, slender wrists.

After another moment, Fai overcomes his stunned silence and tightens the garment about his shoulders. He gifts his king with a smile. "Thank you, Ashura-ou."

They stand in the garden for a while, and wait for the flowers to bloom.

-- --

The cook has been gone for nearly a week now and Ashura is beginning to tire of Fai's irrepressible sweet tooth, but the snow daisies have gotten tall and are almost ready to drop their petals. Fai skips through the gardens and it's one of those rare days where it's warm enough to go barefoot with only the slight risk of numbness. He left his coat and his over shirt crumpled on his bed, and the thin black fabric of his long-sleeved undershirt is warm enough to keep out most of the chill.

Chii is probably watching from one of the windows, and so he capers through the pathways as quickly as he can, plucking one snow daisy here and another there, all the while deftly weaving garlands of flowers.

As soon as he finishes he whisks back inside to the library, and takes Chii by the hands to dance her down the hall. She keeps up with a giggle, her bare feet skimming lightly over the slippery floors. "You're so pretty!" he compliments her with a smile when they pause in their whirlwind waltz, taking a narcissus and tucking it behind her ear.

"Chii is pretty!" she echoes, before adding, "Fai is pretty too!"

"Why, thank you!" Fai replies with a grin, sweeping her in a circle before resuming their dance to the throne room.

--

Ashura is reclining on his throne, looking bored, and Fai's spirits lift even higher to see his king brighten at the sight of him and Chii, skipping barefoot over the trickles of water left by the melting ice. "Ashura-ou," he calls, and stops at the bottom of the dais to kneel theatrically. Chii mimics his gestures.

After a moment of quiet where he looks at the patterns the icy water makes across the marble floors and prays that Ashura is smiling, he speaks once more. "My liege."

The king rises and descends the steps to place a hand on Fai's hair. He tries not to react to the sudden sensation, instead reaching behind his back and presenting the garland of snow daisies. "Your crown," he says, holding it above his head and keeping his eyes on Ashura's slippered feet.

The small weight is lifted from his fingers and his head is tilted back, so he finds himself staring into Ashura-ou's eyes deep, golden eyes. The snow daisy chain hangs askew across one eyebrow and Fai bites back a slightly hysterical giggle. He's frozen, and his heart...

"I shall wear it always," Ashura tells him, and underneath that grave tone is the hint of a laugh waiting to break free, "and treasure it as a gift from my most valued subject."

Breathlessly, Fai rises and, before he can think twice, leans forward to give Ashura a kiss on the cheek. His lips brush alabaster, as pale as snow and as soft as silk, and he knows he's gone too far. Stumbling back, he hears Chii's gasp behind him.

But Ashura's only reaction is to straighten the snow daisies so they hang evenly over his crystal diadem, making them look almost dignified. He gives Fai a solemn nod and it's all Fai can do to bow back. His breath is catching in his throat, and he doesn't know what he was thinking. He doesn't even know whether he regrets it or not.

"I pronounce summer officially begun," the king proclaims, and it looks like the kiss will be forgotten, at least for now. Fai is glad, obscurely. It took them so long to get to this point, and he hates to think how everything might have to change just because of his stupidity.

He stumbles a few steps back, bare feet splashing in a rivulet of ice water, and bows again. "Then I shall prepare a feast worthy of the new season," he replies, continuing their outrageous formality, and practically flees the room.

--

Later, Fai and Chii are resting in the icy chamber adjoining the throne room. Fai's twin is here, too, and sometimes he finds himself eyeing the silhouette of the real Fai's body. Previously, he left a pile of snow daisies there as well, and a vase full of narcissus blossoms. It means, from Yuui-Fai to Fai, I won't forget you.

"Do you think he'll care?" Fai finally asks his companion, tearing his gaze away from the child-sized body. "I mean, he didn't act like it, but..."

Chii tilts her head. "Ou-sama? Why? Ou-sama loves Fai very much."

"But I'm-" Fai feels himself choking on everything he wants to say; swallows to clear his voice. "I'm not supposed to love him. Like that. It's not- He is a king, and I'm... I don't- It's not really right, because I can't-" He can't finish his sentences; the words keep getting lost on the way to his lips, and so he settles with: "It's- I don't want it to change."

"How long has Fai loved him?" Chii asks, leaning closer and gazing up at Fai with her large brown eyes, radiating innocence.

Fai swallows his doubt and smiles, bending close to one of her catlike ears. "A very long time," he whispers, pressing his cheek against her own. After a moment, he straightens and gives her a wide smile. "But don't tell anyone, okay?"

"Chii won't tell!" she promises brightly, and nuzzles Fai's shoulder. He smiles and pats her absently on the head.

There is still a week or two of summer left. "Tomorrow," he says, looking past the dripping icicles that frame the doorway and into the throne room, with its vacant throne, "I think I'll go out to the garden again."

-- --

Thus ends this little scene. (I really, honestly, just wanted to get rid of the angst and write something sweet... regardless of the fact that it's prolly a wee bit OOC.) Reviews, of course, are appreciated - and I would also like it if you checked out my other Tsubasa fics!