Title: Showers and hair care
Pairing: developing Kurogane x Fai and Syaoran x Sakura
Words: 1180
Summary: The showering (and, on occasion, hair-maintenance) habits of the TRC gang. It takes place somewhere between Yama and Tokyo, I guess.

Notes: This all started a while ago, when I wondered how long Kurogane and Fai's hair would have grown in Yama during 6 months, and when exactly they would decide to cut it (whether they'd trim it or let it grow long and then cut it at the nape, whether they'd have scissors, etc etc etc); Before that I'd wondered whether they (or any male anime character who doesn't clearly grow a beard) shave in the mornings or not. Then this post http : / / community. /kuroxfai / 1141792.html # cutid1 came along, I cracked up laughing, and two weeks later there was fic.

Kurogane takes the shortest time of them all in the shower – it comes with the job; very speedy wake-ups included in morning training-routines aside, it's helpful to be able to wash yourself down in three minutes flat when you come back from an all-night long rooftop chase, all bloodied and sweaty and tired, and all you want to do is crawl onto your futon and sleep. He generally takes the shortest amount of time doing anything that has to do with his appearance – except, perhaps, shaving (he doubts the kid has any such concerns yet, although he could have started practicing by the looks of things, and he has no idea what the mage is doing in the mornings with his time, and doesn't want to know), not only because he doesn't really care, not in the careful, preening way some people seem to have, but also because he's lucky enough to never need to. His hair is naturally spiky and miraculously stays in place in the strangest types of weather (he could even go without the customary 5-second combing, but there are some habits that his upbringing won't let him forego) and he doesn't give a damn about colour coordination and all that crap – and anyway, black goes with everything. The only thing he's careful about, infuriatingly enough, is getting himself out of the bath and safely on the floor beside it – he'd had a little accident doing that when about 4 years old, and the embarrassment still haunts him to the day.

Fai tries to be very quick. He doesn't have anything against water itself per-se, least of all flowing water of this kind, but his thoughts tend to wander, especially when standing still. Still, he loves the feel of hot water pounding onto his shoulders, trailing in rivulets down his back, and so he somehow ends up taking his time. When he is all warmed up, and all the muscles of his back and arms are strumming from the heat and steady pressure, and there is something coiling in his chest so deliciously just out of reach that he is close to an actual purr, Fai slowly reaches out for the shampoo (or soap, or whatever is on hand) and starts to wash his hair. He doesn't think about the hands that washed it for him al those years ago, doesn't imagine long, wet strands pooling around his feet, how heavy it would feel; he also doesn't think about the white baths in the castle, the fire stoked up in his room and waiting for him, warm and crackling, the mulled wine set aside for him to drink on a small, rounded table in the corner. He is precise, methodical, thought-free; he wonders if he'd beat even Kurogane's time if he didn't take so long to actually start; sometimes he wonders if the man even has any time to think about things while he's showering, and what he thinks about, if he has a routine… and then he notices his thoughts have strayed again, just what they have strayed towards, and towels himself furiously-fast to get away while he still can. He doesn't bother with his hair, only works out the knots, then lets it fall every which way – the slightly-messy look quite works for him, he's been jokingly told, and in this way he can entirely avoid using a mirror (he is also very grateful that he generally doesn't need to shave that often).

Sakura is always given the tiny honour of showering first – something she's slightly guilty over but ends up never bringing up, because Syaoran-kun would start protesting, and Fai-san would, just maybe, fuss, and she has no idea how Kurogane-san would take it, probably wouldn't add a thing, but by the time she's reached this thought she's already a step away from climbing in the tub, so the point is really moot. She does try to not take a long time, though, out of consideration, and this also includes foregoing bubble-baths, when the option presents itself. She remembers them, strangely enough, remembers them in detail, all the soap suds, the bubbles that's she'd break, the fluffy towels, the warmth, the giggles – everything crystal clear; she had remembered that before she remembered the people in the castle, and the thought had distressed her so that she'd gone to Fai-san close to tears, just wanting to apologize with all her heart. He'd hugged her, told her not to worry, but it had been Kurogane-san to put her mind at rest – You're a princess, he'd rumbled, not even looking up from that book that he found in every world, taking baths frequently comes with the territory; and it's obvious that you'd remember the things that took place often. Fai-san had stared a little, blinked, she hadn't understood why, and then he'd added his reassurances. She felt better about it now – it was a memory after all, a happy one at that – but still… It's also because of that memory that she avoids long baths as well – she'd also remembered soft, loving hands, a kind, warm presence, and she didn't want to worry about not knowing whether that person still existed somewhere back home or not.

Syaoran takes the longest time in the shower, which is why he showers last. He takes his time because that is where he is really, truly, alone, unwatched, un-worried about, if that is ever the case, and that is where he can frown and hurt and worry at himself without the possibility of anybody noticing – unless someone happened to be peeping in on him, and even then they would probably not be staring at his face while doing it, and… and he's clearly been hanging around Fai-san too long to go off on one of these tangents. And since he's always wondering and worrying and thinking about their quest, he's also on auto-pilot most of the time, having no idea by the end of a long-stringed series of unanswered questions whether he's washed his hair or not – which is why he has to do it again (if that is the case), therefore leading a stay of over twenty minutes in the shower, which is, on the one hand, embarrassing (because… er… what if questions are asked on why he's in the shower quite so long, and no, he is not going to think about that possibility, ever) and, on the other, quite a bit frustrating, since he ends up with fluffier hair than he's had for as long as he can remember, which always sticks out this way and that no matter what he does, and he really doesn't care about appearances, but the thing is that the fluffiness is helping to maintain the "Little-puppy" nickname, and while he sort of likes it, in a silly, perhaps heart-fluttering way, if Sakura happens to be in the area to giggle as it's being said, it also grates a little on his burgeoning male pride, since, being chased by screaming natives aside, this is not what his father had raised him to be.

Notes 2: you know, I think the reason I'm so evil to Syaoran and Kurogane is the fact that I thought up their parts first, and I was in a crack-ish mood; by the time Fai and Sakura's own paragraphs came along the humour had somehow drained away; I eventually left it that way because the balance seemed nice. Still, poor, poor Syaoran, I'm so mean to him, and I genuinely like him!! /sniffles/