A/N: Something that occurs in Tokyo, between Kurogane blessing Fai out and the next morning. Teehee.


"So what did they have to say?"

Kurogane surveyed Fai critically for a moment, keen eyes registering it all—the soft red rings around the blonde's eyes, they way his lips trembled slightly as he stuffed that smile onto his face, the not-quite-dry tear streaks down pale cheeks. He growled, low and menacing.

"Now's not the time to act like a doggie," Fai scolded, waving the growl out of the air; "Now be a good Kuro-pup and tell mommy what they wanted."

Kurogane snatched Fai's hand out of the air—the second time that night. Kurogane avoided touching the blonde like the plague; he didn't like the way even simple and innocent brushings of their skin and limbs made him feel. It was too distracting; it was too much unlike the him that was himself now. It reminded him too much of how he felt when he was younger, the days where feeling came easier and he wasn't so cold. He didn't like the slow flowing of fire that came whenever he was alone with the stupid magician. (Besides, he had a goal, and fairy-assed blondes were not part of it.)

Fai stared at the way Kurogane's dark fingers were wrapped around his wrist. He was becoming slow; Kurogane shouldn't even be able to touch him. Before, no one had been able to break across his guard like that unless he wanted it—before the only one to ever be able to grab him like Kurogane had—repeatedly so—that night was… Ah.

"It's none of your business what they said."

"If it concerns the children, it is my business. Believe it or not, Kuro-tan, I am a part of this group," Fai chuckled, albeit a little coolly.

"Were you crying, mage?"

Fai bristled, "Now, that… is a matter of something not being someone's business," he whispered frigidly. "It doesn't concern you."

"Yes it does."

"Now, I don't like throwing people's words back at them—I like to think my own thoughts—but I am no business of yours. More correctly, my past; and since I'm not crying now—"

"Technicalities, wizard. That's all your argument is. Right now, it does concern me—if you're going to mope around like some friggin' teenager, then you will—"

"I will what, huh?" Fai snapped, yanking his arm back. Kurogane did not let go, instead stepping forward so he and Fai were nose-to-nose, glaring each other down, each of their ice-cold glares dropping the temperature in the small, barely-lit room. Behind them, Sakura and Syaoran slept soundly, oblivious to the adult drama that was playing before them. Never before had the dangerous waltz between the two older travelers had gotten so close or intimate.

Fai sighed, eyes fluttering shut in annoyance. "Whatever. It doesn't matter," he mumbled, turning away, hand falling to his side.

Still Kurogane did not let go. He allowed his arm to drop along with Fai's, stepping even closer, until he could feel the wizard's breath skim across the very side of his neck, his view of the slighter man's face almost obstructed by flyaway blonde waves.

"Yes it does," the swordsman argued. "Don't run away from this too."

Fai's eyes snapped open, flat with a detached sort of irritation, almost like he were fighting some other battle than the one they were verbally engaged in. He glared up at Kurogane through bangs and eyelashes, "Why does it matter," he demanded desperately, tugging his hand backwards.

The question stunned the ninja; why did it matter? "Because this world is dangerous—we don't need you lagging."

"Bull," Fai challenged. "I can hold my own and you know that. I could even hold my own against you if I were so inclined to put your ego to shame." And it was true. Had he wanted to now—as he would inevitably would in the future—he could probably beat this man bloody, until he died. Not that he wanted to—the mere knowledge of his existence spelling death to the one before him caused his heart to break just a little. He hated being close like this; he was frantically throwing up the walls, but… this man kept invariably breaking them. It was quite frustrating, really.

What he was most frustrated with, actually, was himself. He had sworn to himself a long time ago not to be close to anyone at all. That he didn't need real-time replays of the events that haunted him anyway, playing out night after night in nightmares too deep to wake from…but here he was, deeply in love with the man in front of him. And he wasn't stupid, either, despite his amount of play-acting as such. He knew Kurogane pretty much hated his guts—it had been, in fact, solidified many, many times. Over and over and over again, it was set in stone and carved deep into the unspoken rules of their group that Kurogane hated him. Each time, it stung a little more. Tonight was the worst. Even worse than the time in Outo where the ninja had brazenly declared so, right in his face, right when he had finally accepted his own deepening affection for the crude and blunt man he was traveling with. Until tonight that first hurt was the worst. As much as he feigned indifference, he really did care what others thought—with that, the first walls had been broken.

And then he broke that wall himself. Why, oh why, did he do that? When the time came, he knew he would have to… Over and over again, he would have to—the endless cycle of abuse and he would still be used like the chess piece he was until he died. He knew that. So why did he step forward towards the light when he was aware he must always stay in the dark?

"Right, whatever," Kurogane scoffed, unbelieving.

"So that's not the reason. You had your Q and A with me, now it's my turn. Why does it matter? Why are you concerning yourself with me all of a sudden?" Fai insisted. He was feeling brave, his own twisted emotions driving him forward. He wanted—no he needed—to once more confirm the swordsman's unyielding hatred for him so he could continue on, for the lines were becoming muddied. It was beginning to seem as if Kurogane actually cared.

"The kid is already wounded, you're gonna have to step up—"

"Syaoran would battle even if his head was falling off if it was for Sakura-chan—this has nothing to do with the children. This is between you and me, is it not?" He was allowing a different side of him to show through. He'd already let a little of it slip that night, so why not end the entire masquerade? Toss aside the mask, go ahead, and take it off. You won't like what you see. Beneath this perfect mask, I'm scarred and bloody, so go right on ahead Kurogane.

Kurogane sighed irritably, fingers clenching around the thin bone of Fai's wrist. He felt the man cringe in pain underneath him, the quick flutter of the speeding heartbeat beneath his fingers, but still the blonde said nothing, icy eyes narrowed and awaiting an honest answer.

"I see that our positions have switched, Kuro—" "Look you wanna know?"

Their words came out against the other's, one cold and angry, the other flustered and tetchy.

They stared at each other for a long time, ice finally melting into fire, working slowly through their veins, moving through their bodies, shifting and burning things in its wake.

Kurogane did not like this feeling; it was too… different. He didn't like taking chances. He didn't like barreling into the unknown—the unknown held too much change, too much of a possibility of loss… He didn't want to lose anyone ever again, so in his haste to avoid pain, he also avoided creating human connections. Unfortunately, in this journey, he had tied himself in so many ways to the children sleeping before him and to the man glaring up at him… especially to him. He didn't enjoy admitting defeat, especially to himself. The feeling of falling in love with Fai was like the feeling of holding sand—it was heavy and light at the same time, with the sensation of something sliding away beneath his fingers. There would never be a way to hold it all anyway, so he didn't want to even try, like a stubborn child. That was just who he was.

But even that was changing. In that moment, he was changing, even. Continually being molded, like a rock against the waves. He decided that twice was far too much and at the same time, just simply… not enough. Fai tried to yank away again; Kurogane held on even tighter. He didn't want Fai to pull away… but he knew it would be better if he let him.

So he could continue on without doubts. So when he reached his princess, he could say without sorrow or guilt or looking back "I returned to you as I promised"; his princess should be all he cared about, like it had been in the past. When he was young, he had entertained the thought of loving Tomoyo, and like the young child he was at seventeen, he had told her so, boldly and brazenly.

It had not ended well. Despite her young age, Tomoyo was always far more mature than he—it was possible that seeing the future aged one well past the limits of any mortal man— and so she laughed. Not in any unkind way, but her normal gentle laugh, softly chiding him for such foolish notions. She had kindly patted his cheek, much like his mother used to, and smiled. 'Silly Kurogane,' she had said, 'You do not love me—or rather, you do not love me in any sort of romantic way. That's just not how fate wants you to work. One day you'll meet someone with whom confessing is just a technicality in the grand scheme. But if it makes you feel better, I love you. But, only in a familial way.' It was a bitter taste in the back of his mouth, but that was often how truth tasted… And even so, the truth of his feelings now did not taste bitter, but rather like ashes left smoldering in the snow.

"I don't like seeing you like this, mage," Kurogane growled. "All dithering between two decisions—you need to figure it out: Are you gonna involve yourself or are you not? It's irritating to watch you do one thing with the kids then turn around and do another around me."

"What do you mean?"

"You'll throw your neck out and, hell, even use your magic to protect them, but when it comes down to it, if it was just you and me in a near-death situation, you wouldn't do a damn thing."

"What I do with my life is my business. And you are capable of protecting yourself, and in that wake, myself, if I so desire to be saved."

Kurogane sighed in frustration. He wished the entire thing was that simple; he wished that the entire trip could've been made without becoming attached or developing this strong desire to hold and protect. It could've been easy that way, but then, life was never that simple, was it? In truth, only that passing momentary touch, the brush of skin and the feel of fingers clamping against the pulse could be simple in that split second before the feeling set the nerves alight… and then, it was no longer so.

He stepped forward; Fai stepped back. They remained connected by hand and skin through their waltz until the mage was pressed back against the cold glass.

"I'd appreciate it if you let me go," Fai whispered softly. This wasn't fair; he was still reeling from their last encounter. How many times could a heart be broken in one night before it just died? He knew quite well that Kurogane hated him; and he knew his own boundaries. He wished… that he could forget that.

Kurogane leaned forward, "You were crying. Did what I say really hurt that much?"

Fai turned away, Kurogane's breath fall hot against his face. He could feel his face heating. He wanted this to stop; loving Kurogane was anguish. Kurogane was calm and silent, impossible to hold, like a ripple on the water that was later to become a tsunami. And the wave was pulling him under. "No," he murmured. He was wavering.

Fai was failing; his mask was cracking into something completely imperceptible—Kurogane could hear it in his voice. He leaned closer. Fai's hair tickled his face—he was so close he could feel the soft flutter of the mage's eyelashes against his cheeks, the blonde's breath warm and sweet. He couldn't stand it anymore. In this moment, it was no longer simple—he had changed too much. He was not strong enough to fight this battle alone. He pressed his mouth to Fai's, reaching up to guide the man with his free hand.

The mage started when he felt Kurogane's mouth against his own; this he was not expecting. This was something, in fact, that he didn't even dare to let himself dream about. Even if he could allow himself to love, he was not worthy of receiving anything close to love from his ninja companion. But, oh, god, it felt good. Kurogane's lips were soft and dry, hand firm against his jaw. He whimpered quietly, hands curling around themselves to keep from reaching up to touch the swordsman. He never knew how much he needed this. How much he had wished he could be given this.

Kurogane heard him whimper and he knew it was not one of refusal. He pressed his mouth to Fai's harder, tongue slipping out to seek entrance. He knew quite suddenly what he wanted, and he knew that want would not change, in this part of himself, he was through changing. He sought a way to ease the friction, to bottle the sand, to keep them together in such a way so they were not at odds; if necessary, his rock could become Fai's sand, and they would mix in away that they would not have to capture each other, simply exist. He was an adult, and he knew quite well the difference between lust and passion, and love and need. He had lusted after this man because he was unobtainable, but he was now finding himself quite passionate. He thought he simply needed a relief, but he knew he was actually falling in love. Even more with each passing second—the tension grew until it was insurmountable.

He kissed Fai with a fervor he didn't know he had outside the battlefield. He swept his tongue through the blonde's trembling lips into his mouth, tasting everything. Fai tasted like the sweetness of magic and the bitterness of sorrow. There was still salt on his lips from tears. He could get drunk on this like he could not on wine.

Fai leaned into the attention, shivering as Kurogane's tongue ravished his mouth, heart quivering in fear and excitement. Hesitantly, he reached out, delicate fingers into the ninja's jacket, rubbing against the warm cotton, allowing the softest moan of pleasure escape his mouth. He was afraid Kurogane would stop, would push him aside—he had already intruded so far into his walls… If he saw what was inside, would he turn and run? Surely he would in sheer disgust.

The need for air grew great, and Kurogane pulled away, leaving trembling, slick lips behind. Fai turned his head away, thinking that Kurogane had finally pulled away in shame, brows furrowing and mouth setting itself in such a fixed position that this surely had to be a new mask, one of resignation, of a man sentenced to the death of his heart.

"No, no," Kurogane murmured, turning Fai to look at him. The sky eyes shimmered with tears even though his expression was set so determinedly, into something mocking anger and impudence. But he could not affix his eyes for some reason; they wavered with the growing tears, which were swelling against the mage's will, until they pooled and ran over, spilling down his cheeks as he ignored them, desperate to convince this man before him that he had wanted no part in that passion he had just been indulged with. Fai drew his hands away; Kurogane caught them in his own, squeezing the cool limbs tightly. "No."

Fai yanked away. Kurogane kissed him again, desperately, to such an extent that one would think it would move mountains. Moving mountains, in all reality, would be so much easier than persuading the ever-stubborn Fai. But Fai wanted this. And he kissed back, arms sliding easily around Kurogane's neck, pressing both their bodies and their mouths closer.

Kurogane tangled one hand into Fai's thick hair, cradling the back of his head, pulling him up against his part lips, tongues entangled somewhere in their mouths or between them, lapping and rubbing until they had to part to inhale so deeply their lungs burst so that they could dive to the depths of their passion.

Before long, their hands were working at divesting the other of his clothes, Fai's hands trembling so harshly that he had only managed to undo a few buttons by the time Kurogane had removed his jacket, vest, and shirt. Kurogane reached up, taking the blonde's wrists gently. He could feel Fai's heart fluttering wildly there; he leant forward, pressing his mouth to the man's, then let the kiss slide down to his neck. Fai tipped his head back, breath hitching as the ninja nibbled at the soft flesh there. Fai's hands rose, Kurogane's fingers slipping from the skin, to tangle into ebony locks, and Kurogane finished Fai's work, sliding off his shirt.

"I want you."

"That much is obvious," Fai snapped, flushing deeply. "But in front of the children?"

Kurogane looked over his shoulder. His mind was so clouded with lust and wanton need that he had forgotten them in his desire to rein Fai. "They haven't woken up yet," he said; his voice was hoarse, like he hadn't truly spoken in ages. Like he hadn't drunk anything in weeks. But he could fix that; Fai could fix that. "If you stay quiet, they won't wake up." He needed this. They needed this. Somewhere, something told him that if he made love to Fai, he could capture him. But then he told himself, he didn't want to capture him—he wanted to be with him. He wanted this tension, the tension that was present even on the cusp of sex, to fade. He wanted to trust Fai and he wanted Fai to trust him.

This would fix that. He reached forward, stripping Fai of his pants, then himself of his own. He pinned the magician to the wall, kissing him so deeply and so sweetly that it could make the world stop. Fai was certain he was imagining the depth of the feeling behind the kiss.

He wrapped his legs around Kurogane's waist, holding tight. He knew if he didn't hold on, he would lose this before it even started. He knew that this wouldn't change anything; it would only make it harder to walk away, but…. He wanted it; it would hurt, and it would sting, and he prayed that Kurogane's wish was granted before he would be forced to play his role in the journey and remove the strong ninja from his way… He failed. He was a failure, but right here, in the swordsman's arms, he felt like he had managed to do something right. Even if what they were doing was so incredibly wrong.

Kurogane groaned into Fai's mouth as the blonde pressed himself close, thighs pressing against his hips, erections pressing together. He reached down, fingers closing around Fai's member, hot and already slick, pumping it quickly. Fai trembled in his arms, soft whimpers and whines of pleasure falling from his lips like rain. Kurogane fell deeper. His patience wavered and his cock throbbed. He grabbed Fai's backside, fingers kneading into the plush skin. He wanted this, but he had no idea what to do. He had an idea of where he needed to go, but Fai was such a small man, and—did it really work that way?

He moved forward, mouth upon Fai's neck, so those blue eyes wouldn't see the hesitance and uncertainty on his face. He shouldn't have even tried—Fai was just as perceptive as Kurogane was. "Wait," he demanded softly.

Kurogane growled, fingers tightening against the soft flesh of Fai's ass. Fai shuddered softly, moaning at the touch. "Wait," he repeated softly. "You don't know what to do, do you?"

Kurogane raised an eyebrow. He was now forced into admittance. His experiences were limited to draping kimonos, heavy perfume, and painted lips; women were no mystery to him, just trysts in the dark, never holding the notion of love or passion. As much as he wanted to lead this, he had to secede. But this was what this was about, the give and take of trust; there would be no progress made. He wanted Fai to trust him so badly. He needed to love him so badly.

Fai leaned forward, laying his head against Kurogane's neck, body arching deliciously against the ninja's. "Mmm…" He tightened his thighs around Kurogane's hips, pulling the man forward until he was pressed snugly between the taller man and the wall, "Give me your hand."

Kurogane did so without questioning. Fai pulled away, sliding the digits into his mouth, running his tongue against them, suckling. The ninja held back a groan, his mind racing with thoughts of that mouth being attached so sensually against another, completely different, part of his anatomy. When Fai pulled away, his fingers were completely coated in saliva; the blonde untangled an arm from around his companion's shoulders, guiding Kurogane's hand down. "You've been with women." It wasn't a question, it was a statement. "This is different. You can't go in dry—well, you can, but it hurts beyond the point of receiving pleasure. Use your fingers first," he instructed, letting go of Kurogane's wrist to allow the ninja to continue on his own.

Kurogane nodded, leaning forward to cover Fai's neck with bites and kisses as he reached around the man, sliding a finger down the crease of the blonde's backside until it skimmed against Fai's entrance. Fai grunted softly as Kurogane pressed into him, body straining slightly; he clamped his thighs down against the jut of the swordsman's hips, breath coming harsher; "Two," he commanded. Kurogane obeyed, feeling the way Fai's body resisted and trembled at the intrusion.

"Now," Fai panted, stomach trembling, "Move those, and stretch." It felt deliriously good. He strained to withhold his cries and whimpers as Kurogane pumped his fingers, scissoring him at the same time. But the ninja hadn't found it yet, the place that Fai knew would bring about the most pleasure for himself; Kurogane didn't even know to look for it, so he would help. He rooted back through his memories, remembering the last time he had slept with someone. He gave a soft cry as Kurogane suddenly slid a third finger inside of him. He leaned forward, arching his hips, throwing his head back against the wall as Kurogane's digits slid deeper inside of him to hit his prostate.

"Damn," Kurogane growled, cock throbbing as Fai trembled and arched against him, face flushed in obvious pleasure, mouth falling open in soundless, ragged pants. He pressed his hand up again, sending another jolt into Fai, who shuddered, muscles quivering, thighs tightening around his hips.

"S…st…stop," Fai panted, "No sense… in… making m…me cum…n…now." He tipped his head back and whimpered as Kurogane ignored him, pumping his fingers relentlessly against the blonde's prostate. Fai reached out, grabbing Kurogane's bicep tightly. "Please."

Kurogane looked at him, then sighed. There was no way he could say no to that face, so open and beautiful. He knew at this minute, there was no mask; he wanted to keep it that way. He withdrew his fingers. From here, he knew what to do. He pressed himself up against Fai's now slick entrance, then pushed slowly in. He felt Fai tense around him, breath leaving him in a soft whisper of pain. He paused, but Fai pulled him closer, urging him deeper. He moaned, feeling the hot tightness of Fai's body, wondering why he had ever wasted his time with women; this was closer than anything else he had ever done, but maybe… it was the soft shell of emotion he cradled for Fai that made it special. It didn't matter. He wondered how he was going to remain upright; his legs were already quivering and threatening to give way.

Fai moaned, soft and low, against Kurogane's ear. He shifted back, then rolled his hips forward, starting the rhythm for Kurogane. "Quiet," the ninja reminded him, thrusting forward.

Fai trembled, clinging tightly to his companion, consciously fighting back moans of pleasure as Kurogane brushed past his prostate. He bit into Kurogane's neck, stretched and exposed above his face, hot breath falling against his forehead. The man's pulse throbbed against his lips and the salty tang of blood tinged against his tongue; he tried hard not to scream as Kurogane roughly slammed into his pliant body as retaliation.

Kurogane bit back groans of pleasure, burying his face into Fai's damp hair. It stuck to his cheeks in tangled clumps, silky against his gaping mouth, tickling the inside of his mouth as he panted harshly. His knees trembled, his toes curling against the cement floor as Fai tightened and writhed against him; his stomach tensed and twitched at the effort of containing the orgasm that was threatening to pound its way out of him, desperate to make this encounter last longer, forever. At this moment, they were being completely honest with each other; he gripped Fai tighter, one hand biting into his ass, pulling him deeper into every frantic thrust, the other scrabbling at the hollow between Fai's shoulder blades, preventing the magician from writing back and hurting himself against the stone column behind him. Kurogane gasped harder, white eating away the corners of the black behind his eyelids, and he pulled Fai up tighter.

Fai couldn't help it anymore—he moaned loudly, heat coiling tighter and tighter in his stomach. It felt so wonderful, with every thrust Kurogane was hitting his prostate, and the pleasure was reaching to the point of its zenith, his leaking erection twitching and trembling in anticipation as it rubbed against the hard, quivering mass of muscles of Kurogane's abdomen. But it wasn't enough—even now, he needed more. He was always so selfish, always wanting more. He slipped a hand from Kurogane's back, nails bloody from digging and scraping at the skin in his delirium, and gripped his cock, thighs tensing at the extra stimulation; Kurogane was too far gone in the pleasure to notice, he could feel the man's face contort against his scalp, so close to an end. He pumped himself hard, to the jerking rhythm of Kurogane's fevered thrusts.

Kurogane groaned, feeling Fai tense around him; the blonde's body locked around his cock, and Fai arched, half-screaming as his release escaped him. The second that noise left the beautifully contorted mouth, Kurogane clutched Fai tighter, hips jerking as his vision sheeted white, and in a haze of perfect delirium, he came, spilling violently deep inside of Fai.

They were left weak and panting, sliding down to the floor in a messy jumble of limbs and sweat-slicked bodies. Fai's chest heaved against Kurogane's stomach, breath coming hot against the warrior's collar. Kurogane pulled out of Fai, both parties shuddering at the feel. He forced his eyes open, staring down at Fai's flushed face, knowing something was different now. There was an odd cast to Fai's eyes, something which Kurogane took as change. From here they could build—that tension was gone now. They could trust and coexist, and maybe, just maybe, they had a chance at really loving each other. "Fai, I—"

Then he paused, really looking at the man. It was not the truth that was in Fai's eyes. It was something different, yet it was the same as when they started. Walls. Barriers. They were there again. A smile wormed its way onto Fai's face.

"That was fun, now wasn't it?" Fai popped off, voice ragged from the yet-controlled breathing and post-sex harshness. He wiggled out from under Kurogane, gathering his clothes into his arms. Kurogane sat up, watching the thin rivers of his own semen trickle down Fai's thighs, and he wondered how this man, whom he had been so intimately connected to just seconds before, can act like nothing had ever happened.

Fai knew not to fool himself. He had almost melted right there on the spot, convinced that Kurogane loved him, when the ninja had begun to speak. He knew what was coming. So he headed off the breaking of his own heart by taking the matters into his own hands—if he said the words himself, Kurogane would never say them… and maybe, just maybe, the pain would lessen. "I know what you're going to say."

Kurogane rose to his feet, "Good, then," he began. He worried for a second there that Fai was going to call off the entire deal they had just created. He reached forward to cup the man's cheek, when Fai ducked down, pulling his pants on. Kurogane's hand hung in the air, punctuating the end of his foolish hopes. He knew that nothing had changed now save for the type of tension. It would never go back to the way it was because they had changed. One war had ended and another had begun in its place. Kurogane almost had to admit he preferred the old war.

"It's okay, you don't have to say it, because I know full well that it wasn't out of love," Fai said softly, his voice… strange.

In reality, he was struggling to force back the tears again. It was so much better when he believed Kurogane hated him. Now it was in the gray, and… he needed the stark black and white. He was allowing himself to become lost.

"What have I done that makes you think that?" Kurogane snapped, simply because it was irritating him—he was so close to holding Fai in his arms, and like the sand he was, he slipped through his fingers again.

Fai looked over his shoulder and smiled. It was such a soft, heartbreakingly, beautifully sad thing that it made Kurogane's breath hitch and his knees go weak and all he wanted to do was protect this man, this beautiful fragile creature for the rest of his life. A tear rolled down Fai's cheek, settling on those softly curved lips; "What are you going to when we get to Nihon?"

"I—I'm going to—of course I—"

"It's okay," Fai said quietly, his voice echoing in the large room. He buttoned his shirt, then pulled his vest on in silence. He walked to the hanging curtain that served as the door, and pulled it open. Still, with that achingly sad smile, he turned. "Goodnight, Kurogane."

And that was his answer: Fai wanted nothing to do with the fragile peace they had managed to create between them.

The next day, Fai as Kurogane knew him was dead.