*sigh* here's the very last chapter. Isn't it sad...
Fai watched as Syaoran and Sakura walked out the door. "Mokona?" he called, before the other could follow the kids.
"Yes, Fai?" Mokona asked, stopping.
"Just make sure—"
"Oh! Mokona already knows! Mokona will leave Syaoran and Sakura alone at all the right times!" Mokona winked at Fai. "Mokona knows what to do!"
Fai laughed. "Good. Have fun!"
"Mokona will have loads of fun!" And with these parting words, Mokona left.
Kurogane frowned at the mage. "You two just love to play matchmaker, don't you?"
Fai smiled. "The match has already been made, Kuro-tan. We're just pushing them in the right direction."
"Is that why you didn't go with them?"
Fai tilted his head to one side. "I suppose." He glanced over to the Christmas tree. "Did you have a nice Christmas, Kuro-wan?"
Kurogane looked at the presents he had received. "I didn't hear any caroling, so I guess it was kinda okay."
"Did Kuronpi like my Christmas present?"
Kurogane frowned at the red scarf. "Hmph," he grunted.
Fai stood and took the scarf from where it rested. "I can always take it back, you know, if you don't want it."
Kurogane glared and snatched it back. "The only reason I'm keeping this is because it's freezing cold outside."
Fai sat down again, not commenting on that. "Well, I liked all my gifts," he said with a smile, picking up his new cookbook. "Though…" He flipped through the cookbook and then shrugged.
"You can't read a word of that, can you?" He had thought of that the second he saw Fai open it. It seemed that the mage couldn't read anything. His writing system must be completely different from anything Kurogane has ever seen…
Fai shook his head. "No, I can't. I'd rather you not mention anything to Sakura-chan about that, though." Then, taking a lighter tone, he remarked, "The pictures look delicious!" And he began to flip through the pages, humming a tune to himself.
Kurogane would have never thought that he would actually recognize a tune that was coming out of the mage's mouth, but the words to the song were already flooding his mind.
Silent night, holy night…
He looked over to the mage, who was still skimming through his book absentmindedly. "So you heard it too?"
Fai looked up, confused. "Heard what, Kuro-pin?"
"The caroler last night," Kurogane clarified, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "The one that was singing that song… You heard it?"
Fai closed his book slowly and smiled. "Yes, in a way."
"What do you mean 'in a way'?!"
"I'm surprised that you didn't try to scare away that caroler. You didn't seem to like all the others all that much."
"It wasn't that annoying…," Kurogane grunted. "The carolers who travel in packs are way more annoying than that one caroler was."
Fai chuckled slightly. "I see." He glanced over Kurogane's shoulder, to the window. "It's snowing…"
Kurogane looked over his shoulder. It was true, snowflakes were drifting through the air. He turned back to face Fai, who was now preoccupied with his three gifts. Without a word, he opened the bottle of sake and took a large gulp of it. "Do you want some?"
"Might as well," the ninja responded, accepting the bottle Fai handed him and taking a drink. One bottle really wasn't enough. When he and Fai—especially Fai—started to drink, they drank a lot. A few minutes went by, and he passed the bottle back, already finished with his half of the bottle.
Fai looked at him, his eyes conveying something his smile would not. "Merry Christmas, Kuro-buro."
A few hours later, the kids came home. Syaoran and Sakura both seemed happy, wide smiles gracing each of their faces.
Mokona bounced up to where Fai sat. "Fai! It was really cool!"
Fai smiled tiredly. He had dozed off a while ago and had only just woken up. "Really?"
"Yep! They played music and handed out drinks and cookies!"
"That sounds very fun indeed."
"Mokona even heard the song that Fai sang!"
Fai's eyebrows creased slightly. "What song?"
"The one that Fai sang last night! Silent Night! Mokona really likes that song!"
Kurogane looked up. "You gotta be kidding me. You're the one who was singing last night?!" He couldn't believe he had actually told Fai that it wasn't that annoying.
Fai was silent for a long time. "I suppose so…"
"Mokona thought that Fai's singing was really pretty! Fai makes Mokona jealous of Fai's singing voice!" Mokona said dramatically.
"I didn't hear it," Sakura said in disappointment.
"I missed it too," said Syaoran.
"Fai-san, can you please sing it again? Please?" Sakura pleaded. "I want to hear it."
For once, Kurogane could swear that he saw embarrassment on Fai's face. Flamboyant as he could be, the mage obviously didn't want an audience this time.
Fai gave a tiny glance in Kurogane's direction nervously.
So that's it, Kurogane realized. It's me, not the kids. "Well, go on," he said, glaring as he stood and began to walk to the stairs. "But don't expect me to stick around to listen."
When Kurogane lay on his bed, he could hear Fai's faint singing from downstairs. He grunted to himself. He should have realized that Fai was the mystery caroler earlier. At least before he practically told Fai that he had liked it.
He yawned loudly, that same song putting him to sleep once more. He didn't even realize he was sleeping until he began to dream.
Fai looked at him, his eyes conveying something his smile would not. Sadness, that's what it was. Looking over three gifts, one from Mokona, one from Syaoran, and one from Sakura. But not one from the ninja. He was the only one who didn't get four presents like everyone else.
Kurogane didn't feel guilty. The mage didn't deserve a gift, always calling him those dumb names and annoying the hell out of him. But that face that Fai was making because of him really began to bother him. But it wasn't guilt. Why? Because Kurogane doesn't feel guilt for something he didn't do. But even as he thought about it, Princess Tomoyo's words came back to him.
"Now, now, Kurogane. If you don't give gifts, you don't receive gifts. Wouldn't it be nice to receive a gift? What would happen if someone got you a gift and you didn't get one for them in return? How do you suppose they would feel? Or, how do you think you would feel?"
He held the long red scarf in his hands. It probably took a really long time to make it… The mage could have just bought a scarf from the store, but no… Or, even better, the mage could have just not gotten him a present at all. Kurogane didn't know why he still received a present from Fai. He had clearly told the mage that he wasn't getting anything in return. Why bother?
"Ohohoho, Kurogane, one day you will regret not getting someone a gift. Then you'll finally understand."
"Crazy bitch," Kurogane found himself muttering. "You probably knew this was going to happen."
"Ohohoho," Tomoyo laughed cheerily. "Maybe I did, maybe I didn't. But now you made your friend feel sad because you didn't get him a present! That's a very bad ninja!"
Kurogane only glared at her in response.
"You should get Fai a gift, to make up for your horrid mistake!" she scolded him. "You won't feel guilty anymore if you do!"
"I DON'T FEEL GUILTY!" Kurogane protested loudly. "He's just being a manipulative idiot, trying to make me get him a present by giving me those friggin' sad eyed looks!"
"Do you really believe that?" Tomoyo asked quietly. "If so, then you really haven't learned anything." And, as an afterthought, she added, "The more you do these things, the closer you get to breaking the ornament."
Kurogane's eyes snapped open and he slowly sat up. "Damn it," he swore under his breath, thinking back on his dream. Getting the mage a gift? Why should he?
The kids seemed disappointed that I didn't get the mage a present, Kurogane thought to himself. They probably felt bad for him. I guess I did tell that damn mage that I'd help the kids have a happy Christmas… I guess that means I'll have to get him a gift too… So the kids will be happy…
But even as he thought that, he could hear Tomoyo laughing in his mind.
"You can tell yourself that, but the truth is, you feel guilty!" Yes, that's what she would say if she were here.
Kurogane looked outside. It was completely dark. His present shopping would have to wait until tomorrow.
"You're going out?" Fai repeated with a slightly confused look. "But lunch is almost ready!"
"I'll eat later." Kurogane pulled on his coat, and then hesitantly put on his red scarf.
"Hyuuuu! Kuro-chin is wearing his present! He looks so cute!"
Kurogane glared. "I'll be back later."
Fai smiled, happy that Kurogane liked his present. He knew the ninja would never admit it, but if Kurogane didn't like it, he wouldn't have worn it, no matter how cold it was.
He was freezing his ass off, looking for that gift. The scarf kept him warm, but now he was wishing Fai had made him gloves too.
He looked on a shelf that was beside him that held lots of interesting trinkets.
Kurogane picked up a little model of a house that was incased in glass. Was there water in there? What was the purpose of this?
"Well, aren't you going to shake it?" a little kid asked, who had suddenly appeared at his side.
Kurogane glared, and not wanting to seem like a stupid outsider, he said, "Of course I am." But in reality, he had no idea what shaking would do. When he shook it, little white scraps from the bottom of the trinket were thrown into a flurry.
Oh, he realized, It's supposed to look like snow.
He contemplated getting this for the mage, but decided against it. Fai probably wouldn't want anything that might remind him of his home.
Kurogane sighed, putting the trinket back. This is not going to be as easy as I thought.
Kurogane finally came home later that afternoon. It was already starting to get dark—not to mention colder. When he came into the house, the first thing he saw was Fai, nose buried in the book that he couldn't even read.
"Well, hello, Kuro-to-chan," Fai greeted, not looking up from his book. "Finally decided to come back, huh? Your lunch is awfully cold."
Suddenly, there was a loud clatter from the kitchen, followed by a shriek.
Kurogane's eyebrows shot up, but Fai still didn't look up.
"The kids are baking a cake," the mage explained.
"Syaoran-kun, are you okay?!" came Sakura's worried voice.
Kurogane frowned. "A cake? They sound like they're just making a mess!"
"Hmm…," Fai said absentmindedly.
Kurogane stared at him. "How the hell can you not be paying attention when you can't even—?"
Fai's eyes snapped up. "Shhh… You wouldn't want anyone to overhear, now would you?" And he returned to the book. "This does look very good…"
Kurogane just looked at him, his mouth hanging open in a 'what the hell?' kind of way.
"My, it does get dark rather quickly, doesn't it?" Fai remarked a moment late, gazing out the window. He was right, the moon was already out, and snowflakes fell from the sky. It seemed like a very serene sight. He inattentively closed the cookbook and set it on his lap.
Kurogane glanced at the blonde. Maybe it was because the snow was reminding him of something he'd rather forget, or because he was just in a mood, but the mage looked…listless.
The ninja dug into his pocket, grasping something hidden there. "Did you have a good Christmas?" he found himself asking.
Fai looked at him, crystal blue eyes quizzical. "Hmm? A good Christmas? It was the best Christmas I ever had."
Kurogane grunted. "That's not an answer. It was the only Christmas you ever had."
Fai shrugged. "It was a very interesting experience. The kids seemed to like it too… With the gift exchange and everything. I thought that Christmas was very…pleasant. I was glad to have spent it with…you know…everyone…"
"But you didn't like that I didn't get you a present," Kurogane supplied.
Fai looked mildly surprised. "Why, Kuro-min, you're not one to bring up dead subjects. Didn't we already have this conversation? Ah, yes, it went something like"—he imitated a much deeper voice—"I'm not gonna get you a present, you bastard mage! So deal with it!" And he smiled widely.
"I didn't say that," Kurogane grumbled under his breath. He grabbed the thing in his pocket and set it on Fai's book. "Here."
Fai's eyes widened in surprise as he stared at the small plastic bottle with a ribbon wrapped around it. It suspiciously looked like a gift. He did nothing, only staring at it. "What's this…?" he finally asked, his voice unusually quiet.
"Your Christmas present."
Fai picked it up carefully, as if he were afraid to break it. Curiously, he removed the bottle's lid and gazed inside. There was liquid in there, along with a piece of plastic. Confused, he glanced up at the ninja. "How does it…? I mean…"
"You take the wand," Kurogane began.
"The wand?" Fai inquired, taking the piece of plastic from the liquid. It was long and there was a plastic loop at each end. "A wand? Does it have some sort of magical properties?"
"No," Kurogane told him. "Now you blow through the loop thing." He didn't really blame the mage for being confused—Kurogane himself had to be shown by a friggin' kid how to use this thing. But the mage didn't need to know that part…
Fai raised an eyebrow in skepticism. "O—kay." He blew into the loop as instructed. There had been some liquid caught in the loop, but when he blew into it, it disappeared. He was silent for a long time. "Is that what's supposed to happen?"
"Tsk! You don't blow that hard! Dip it in the bottle and do it again."
Fai did as he was told. The liquid was trapped in the loop again. Fai prepared to blow, glancing up to Kurogane inquisitively.
"You have to do it real gently," Kurogane said.
Fai gave a semi nod and carefully blew into the loop once more. This time, the liquid turned into a sphere and left the loop, floating up into the air.
"A bubble!" Fai exclaimed. He definitely wasn't expecting that. He blew into the wand again, setting free many more bubbles. "Hyuuuu! Kuro-bin, thank you!" And he stood, blowing even more bubbles. "Kuro-chan gave me a Christmas present!" He announced to the whole house. "Kuro-ai loves me!"
"I DO NOT!"
The kids emerged from the kitchen, coated in flour.
"Kurogane gave Fai a present? How nice of him!" Mokona said
"I will keep it forever!" Fai said. "Even when the liquid runs out, I'll keep the wand! I'll keep it…keep it…"
"You have to make it into a necklace!" Mokona told him.
"Perfect! I'll keep it as a necklace!" Fai blew bubbles above Syaoran and Sakura. "Aren't they nice?" He gracefully caught a bubble on the end of his wand, watching as rainbows danced through the bubble.
Sakura clapped her hands, sending flour everywhere. "That's wonderful, Fai-san! I'm glad you got a present!"
Syaoran sniffed the air carefully. "Uh-oh…Princess…"
"Hm?" Sakura the realized what it was. "Oh no! The cake, it's burning!" And the children rushed away, trying to save their cake.
"Thank you very much, Kuro-bun," Fai said, sounding more serious though a smile was still spread across his face.
Kurogane hesitated, but finally grumbled, "Merry Christmas…you idiot."
Fai beamed. "Merry Christmas to you too, Kuro-nya!"
Please please please review and if you do I'll be very happy. And, before I forget, happy new year's eve!