Disclaimer: Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle is the intellecutal property of CLAMP.
Author's Note: Well, here it is: the conclusion of All That I Am. I want to thank everyone who stuck with it and made it this far and everyone who kindly reviewed. I'm so happy because this was the longest fic I've written thus far and I delt with a lot of things in this fic that I've never written about before. Since this is the ending, please review for me and let me know what you thought. I still wanted to write a small companion piece for this dealing with Subaru and co. but I can't make any promises.
Part 2, Chapter 5
The building that Yuui led him to was a three story structure that took up two lots in a neighborhood that looked like its respectful days had passed by some time ago.
"It used to be an office building," Yuui told him conversationally as they made their way inside by way of a deserted alley and the use of that digital lock hacker he'd borrowed from Subaru "a very long time ago – before the neighborhood went downhill. According to historical books, it housed mainly psychiatric offices, if you can believe that."
"You've had way too much time on your hands." Kurogane responded drolly.
Yuui shrugged. "It happens when you work nights and don't sleep much. I've been thinking of taking up a hobby." he added, trying, Kurogane guessed, to keep his mind otherwise occupied. "Did you know that my brother plays the piano?"
Kurogane offered him a noise of acknowledgement. He didn't really think that he'd sat with Ashura and had a heart to heart, did he?
"He's very good at it, too." Yuui went on. "And apparently he's a great cook."
"Huh?" Yuui looked to him, confused.
"You should take up tai chi." Kurogane clarified.
"…why? I mean, what makes you suggest tai chi?"
"You have the form for it."
Yuui paused a moment, then reverted to his original train of thought. "Do you think if I learned to play the flute it would sound nice alongside Fai's piano?"
Kurogane frowned. "Who cares how it would sound next to someone else's music?"
"Well, I was hoping you would."Yuui turned to look at him briefly. "I mean, what kind of music do you like?"
Kurogane shrugged. "I don't know. Rock, I guess."
"There's no piano in rock." Yuui replied flatly.
"That's not necessarily true, do you even…" Kurogane caught himself mid-sentence, suspicion rising suddenly "what are you saying?"
"Of course Fai will live with us." Yuui answered matter-of-factly.
"When did you decide on that?" Kurogane demanded in return.
"About the time that Fai told me he was in love with Ashura and was planning on staying with him."
Kurogane sighed, looking around a little to distract himself from the conversation. "Don't you think that's a little overbearing?"
Yuui stopped and pulled open a door, revealing a stairwell on the other side and paused long enough to glare lightly at him before passing through.
They were heading down the stairs.
At the next level, Yuui swung the door open and stood back for him to pass. "Check this floor, there's something else I have to do. I'll be right back."
As he turned to leave, Kurogane caught his arm, rooting him fast.
"What?" he demanded to know. "What aren't you telling me?"
Yuui smiled brightly over one shoulder. "Just checking the basement. There won't be anyone bad down there. I promise."
Kurogane let him go with a grunt. "Make it quick."
"Lightning." Yuui agreed, nodding and, as if to demonstrate, he picked up his pace, disappearing quickly out of Kurogane's line of sight.
Kurogane stood there for a moment on the landing. The blonde was obviously lying, there probably wasn't anything worth searching on this level; he just didn't want him going with him down there. But Kurogane wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible and he wanted to believe that the blonde wouldn't add an "I promise" to a lie so simple as that. He could argue Yuui's motives later.
That decided, Kurogane decided to search the hallway of doors that lay ahead of him. If Yuui hadn't gotten back by the time he finished, he'd go look for him.
Most of the doors were open already and the rooms beyond were empty and simplistic; concrete walls and a concrete floor. The doors themselves were uniform gray with a small rectangular window at eye level, all made of the same metal. The most boring floor in the entire building, no doubt. Even the doors he had to swing open, opened into empty rooms. The most outstanding feature Kurogane had seen thus far had been a chair sitting haphazardly in the hallway.
When he grabbed the handle of the third of only three closed doors, pushing forward and was met with resistance, Kurogane frowned. Looking into the room through the small window, he felt a stab of panic at the sight inside. Curled into a ball on the floor against the far wall, was a small child.
Kurogane's eyes widened with horror as he realized what he was seeing, where he was at. "Hey!" he yelled, beating on the door with his fist. "Hey!"
The body inside didn't stir.
"Shit!" Kurogane cursed, trying the handle again, yanking it to no avail. Taking a step back, he kicked the door as hard as he could. It didn't give so he kicked it again, and kept kicking it until finally, the lock broke and the door swung open.
He ran across the room and dropped down next to the prone figure. It was a small boy, no older than six or seven. A mop of unruly brown hair covered much of his face from view and his green and tan shirt was torn a little at the shoulder. Pressing two fingers into his neck, Kurogane searched for a pulse. He found it quickly enough, erratic, but there.
Kurogane lay a hand on his small shoulder and shook him, but his attempt to wake the boy only resulted in his head flopping back, his hair falling back to reveal a face that caused Kurogane to still as he stared down at the child.
Kurogane didn't know what to think. The child looked almost exactly like Syaoran – a several years younger version of Syaoran, the boy from another world who had traveled on with his own versions of Yuui and himself. It could just be a coincidence that this boy happened to resemble him but somehow, after everything he had seen, that was hard to believe.
But whether he believed it or not, this was just a little kid. He lived in this world and he knew nothing of feather hunting space travelers or princesses or talking rabbits. He was only a kid and if he didn't get him out of here, he'd be a dead kid.
Kurogane hoisted the small body into his arms and carried him into the hallway where he found Yuui looking for him by the stairwell. He tightened his hold on the boy and ran the distance to him.
Yuui lowered the duffle bag from its position slung over his shoulder and gave him a look that seemed to fall somewhere between apprehensive and haunted.
"There's something wrong with him." Kurogane explained, showing the child to Yuui.
The look of horror that passed across his face did not go unnoticed by Kurogane. Yuui hesitated, but only a second, and, dropping his bag, he reached out, pulling the child's eye lids apart to see his irises.
"Blue-9, maybe?" he guessed, reaching down again for his bag. "He was too much hassle to move so they left him to die. He's just drugged, though. He should be fine."
Yuui turned from him and stepped forward. "Come on, we've got to hurry."
Just drugged? Kurogane tightened his grip on the boy, his anger flaring.
The two ran up the stairs to the second floor where Yuui threw open the door and promptly tripped when the distant bang of an explosion followed immediately by the ground underfoot shaking violently.
Kurogane was thrown against the wall of the stairwell as Yuui hit the floor.
"Shit!" the blonde cursed in despair, clawing his way quickly to his feet. "Hurry!" he shouted, already running.
Kurogane ran after him, quickly catching up and now that he was looking at it, he noticed that the duffle bag Yuui carried had suddenly lost most of its mass. "What the fuck possessed you to blow up the whole goddamned building – while we were in it!"
"I'm sorry!" Yuui yelled back, cringing as another explosion rocked the building, forcing them to brace themselves against the wall. "They went off early!"
Kurogane hoisted the boy over one shoulder and grabbed Yuui's arm with the other hand, pulling him away from the wall as he ran down the hallway.
"Where are we going?"
"I don't know." Yuui cried back. "Ashura was supposed to meet him in an office but he didn't give me the room number!"
"If anyone was here, they'd be leaving by now." Kurogane pointed out. "Is there an elevator? Was that the only set of stairs?"
"There's an elevator around the corner, I think. There aren't any more stairs."
As they raced around the corner, to the tune of what sounded like a structural collapse rather than another explosion, Kurogane heard a man's voice call out from somewhere close.
"Someone! In here! Help me!"
Yuui heard it too and both came to a halt, searching the various open doors around them.
"Is anyone out there?" the voice called desperately and Kurogane pinpointed the sound to a door two rooms down and to their left.
They bolted for the room and arrived in the doorway together to find the space, a typical office, ransacked. A laptop lay on the floor, torn open and gutted, a screen in the wall was smashed, a safe was lying open on its side, a hearty fire burning inside. At the center of the room, a large wooden desk had been tipped over and pinned underneath was a figure they both recognized.
Fei Wong Reed had lost the villainous air Kurogane had seen about him at the auction. In his distress, he more closely resembled a desperate old man than someone to be feared. His right leg had been crushed under the weight of the desk and he was bleeding from another wound hidden beneath him. Kurogane guessed that he would have escaped by now if his only problem had been the desk.
Fei Wong looked up at them, recognizing Yuui instantly and the look of relief that crossed his face made Kurogane sick.
"Fai! Fai, help me. Come and help me. Fai!"
But Yuui remained motionless. Glancing over at him, he seemed to have frozen, staring down at the man asking for his help blankly, as though he hadn't even heard him.
Kurogane didn't want to rush him, but looking out the window across the room, he noticed a plume of smoke rising against the building.
"Fai!" Fei Wong yelled, a touch of anger making its way through this time. "Are you going to leave me here to die? Is that the sort of person I've raised?"
Yuui's eyes suddenly focused, as if something inside had snapped.
"The person you've raised?" he asked quietly.
"If not for me, you'd have been nothing but a worthless whore!" Fei Wong countered, obviously loosing site of his best interest in his ire. "It was only because of the extra attention I allowed you that you're even standing there!"
"Attention!" Yuui screamed and before Kurogane could stop him he'd crossed the distance between himself and Fei Wong and struck out, kicking him hard across the side of the face.
His foot was in the air, ready to stomp down on the man when Kurogane looped an arm around his waist and pulled him back; not an easy task holding the child in one arm and struggling with the flailing blonde with the other.
"I was kidnapped!" Yuui screamed from Kurogane's grasp. "And raped! And forced to give blow jobs in pickup trucks!"
Kurogane dragged him back out of the room. God what a stupid idea it had been to come here. What had Yuui been thinking would happen when he met Fei Wong again? This was absolutely the last time that he let the blonde make stupid decisions and then followed behind without a word. Grunting against Yuui's struggling, Kurogane wondered how it could have sounded like such an important thing to do. And now the building was going to burn down around them and the entire idea had gone down the toilet.
"We have to go now!" he shouted and Yuui stilled as he made eye contact with Fei Wong across the doorway.
"You can't just leave me here! I can't die here. I can't!" he insisted. "You have to do something!"
Kurogane felt the weight of the boy in his arms, of Yuui at his side, and tugged him away. There were sirens sounding below them. It was going to be too late for them if they didn't leave now. But Yuui pulled free of him, going back to the doorway.
"Why? Tell me why!" he yelled, desperately.
"Move the desk!" Fei Wong cried in return.
"We don't have time for this!" Kurogane shouted, but Yuui was rooted to the spot.
The building shook again, a gigantic fissure racing up the wall nearby and this time, Kurogane grabbed Yuui's wrist and pulled him away, making him stumble just to keep up as he ran back down the hall toward the stairs.
The answer to that question was not worth more than Yuui's life.
Smoke had begun to seep into the stairwell and they coughed as they took the stairs two and three at a time.
Throwing open the door at the ground floor, Kurogane was glad the handle hadn't been hot, because he hadn't thought about it until after he'd touched it but opening the door had thrown them into a cloud of smoke. Kurogane grabbed hold of Yuui as they both choked, trying not to lose him as he lost all vision. Yuui was still holding onto the duffle bag, so Kurogane was forced to hold him at the wrist. Eyes burning from the smoke, Kurogane squeezed them shut and allowed Yuui to take the lead, pulling him through the halls in search of the door they'd entered by.
The heat was rising fast and Kurogane felt like he couldn't breathe anymore. Yuui tripped and when they both hit the floor, Kurogane felt it give way dangerously beneath their weight. He found getting to his feet more of a challenge than it should have been as a wave of dizziness overtook him, but he managed to hoist the child into his arms again and stumble on, finding Yuui in front of him already on his feet.
He knew that Yuui couldn't tell where they were anymore. They were just running until they found a wall in their way; hoping it would be an outer wall.
Another structural collapse sounded behind them. Kurogane had thought the building would have been sturdier than this. There had seemed to be so much concrete in the lower level. But then, he had no idea what Yuui had gotten from Subaru.
All of a sudden, Kurogane slammed into Yuui. Apparently they'd found the wall…or it had found them. Yuui erupted into a choking cough and doubled over, falling to the floor. Kurogane heard him rip open the zipper of the duffle bag and a second later, he was pushing against his leg frantically.
His warning brought on another gasping coughing fit, but Kurogane ignored it, pulling him to his feet and finding a wall to run along. He didn't stop running until he heard the explosion he'd known would be coming.
Yuui had blown out the wall and turning back, Kurogane swore he could feel a rush of air. The newfound hope sparked a surge of adrenaline in him and he pulled the blonde back in that direction.
Kurogane felt the chill night air before his blurred vision brought the alley outside, beyond the new, gaping hole in the wall, into focus. Yuui was already climbing over the pile of rubble, coughing at every movement, his lungs like Kurogane's, gulping in the fresh oxygen desperately.
Kurogane followed close behind, trying to find adequate footing since he couldn't crawl while carrying the boy. He was doing fine until the great hunks of concrete beneath his left foot gave way. Unfortunately, his weight had been on that foot at the time and when the rubble collapsed beneath him and shifted, a shot of pain lanced up his leg. He tried to yank his leg free, resulting in another burst of pain, but it was trapped.
When Yuui turned back, calling out to him, Kurogane thought fast. He didn't want Yuui to stick around there. He'd be arrested, or worse, if he found out he was trapped, he might not leave and there was the kid to think about, if all the smoke in his lungs hadn't killed him already. Kurogane didn't know. He couldn't tell if he was carrying a corpse or if there was still hope for the boy. So when Yuui called out to him, Kurogane moved the child around and held him out to the blonde.
"Take the kid!"
Yuui reached out, taking the boy into his arms.
"Go! Go, I'm right behind you!"
Yuui nodded and ran and watching him go, Kurogane felt a weight lift from his chest. Now he only needed to worry about himself. Yanking his foot free didn't seem to be working so he bent over to try to move the rubble instead.
Kurogane's head snapped up to find Yuui, a horrified look on his face. He hadn't gone far. He must have been waiting for him. He lay the child down and ran back to him, clawing his way back inside over the jagged rubble.
"Get out of here!" Kurogane yelled, anger coloring the sudden fear that had sprang up at his core.
Yuui shook his head but the motion quickly dissolved into a coughing fit and Kurogane reached out, gripping his upper arm and threw him back as hard as he could. "Don't be stupid! You have to take that kid and get out of here. Didn't you say you weren't gonna let that guy make any more tragedies?"
"That's not exactly what I meant!" Yuui cried. "I won't leave you! I won't!"
"I'm not planning on dying here, you idiot!" Kurogane shouted back, instigating his own coughing fit. He felt light headed. If he passed out he would die there; right there with freedom in sight and that idiot was just stupid enough to stick around and die right along with him. He thought maybe they were at the rear of the building. Even if he wanted the firefighters to find him, they never would. He tried to see the boy lying in the alley but his eyes were watering from the smoke billowing out around him and he couldn't bring his vision into focus properly. "If you're going to stick around, help me!"
Yuui scrambled forward again and started tugging at one of the pieces of concrete against his leg.
"No." Kurogane said, pulling him up. "Find something to pry at it with."
He paused, meeting Kurogane's eyes briefly and then his own eyes widened. Yuui turned, leaping over the rubble to land on the floor behind Kurogane, who twisted himself around to find Yuui throwing small pieces of the broken concrete at the edge of the pile out of his way at an incredible pace.
"What are you doing!"
"It's under here!" Yuui yelled back, frantically throwing and rolling the rubble out of his way. "There's a crowbar in the duffle bag!"
It only took him seconds to find and he yanked it free with a good degree of difficulty, tearing into it to find the necessary object.
Yuui threw the bag outside on his way back to Kurogane, wasting no time wedging the crowbar into place.
They pushed down on it together, giving it all their combined strength, and managed to lift the slab pressing against Kurogane's leg just enough for him to pull it free. The rubble slammed back into place as they let it go, shifting again under their feet but Kurogane was already clear of the collapse, propelled forward by the motion of pulling himself free and Yuui was much quicker, jumping into the alley with a single, impressive leap.
Yuui shoved the duffle bag's straps up his arm and picked up the child again, moving to Kurogane's left to offer his support on the side of his injured leg as they moved into the network of alleys, away from the commotion on the street.
Kurogane appreciated the silent support but it was faster for him to walk on his own, even if he did have to hobble a bit as they went. He didn't think anything was broken, but he thought it was probably fractured.
"Are you ok?" Yuui asked, worry heavy in his voice.
Kurogane nodded. "I'll live."
"That's not the same…" Yuui objected heavily and Kurogane corrected himself.
"I'll be fine."
"I think I'm ready for a peaceful, quiet life now." Yuui muttered in return and silently, Kurogane had to agree.
They stopped several times on the way back to the cardboard town to hide from passing patrol cars - on the lookout for suspicious arsonists, no doubt. Kurogane had never broken the law before he'd met Yuui. It disturbed him to realize just how little he cared about it now…not that he intended to do it again.
On one such stop, Kurogane took a moment to check the child's pulse. Yuui held him loosely as he felt of his neck for it. It was fainter than before but still there, still struggling.
"You're a fighter, aren't you?" Kurogane whispered, resting a hand on the boy's head.
"He looks like Syaoran." Yuui commented but it seemed to Kurogane to hold no more than that; just a statement.
"How long is that drug supposed to last?" Kurogane asked quietly. He knew they couldn't guess when he'd been given it, but if he slept much longer than the drug was supposed to last, he would take him to a hospital, come what may.
Yuui shook his head. "It would vary depending on the individual and someone this young… I don't know. Blue-9 is a knockout drug. After waking, it's followed by a…fluffy feeling and after that wears off most people take a counter drug to stop the negative after effects."
"Depression and generally self-harm of some sort."
Kurogane didn't ask how he knew that.
They took the boy back to Ashura's house. Despite the time, the butler seemed to be waiting for them. He let them into the garage wordlessly where they parked Ashura's motorcycle next to his van and further into the house, locking the door behind them.
Kurogane led Yuui to the room Ashura had given him for the night. Yuui lay the child carefully down on the bed and took Kurogane's hands, turning him around until the bed was behind him and gently pushed him down to sit.
In the light, Kurogane could see the strain their excursion had put on the blonde. His hands were cut and scratched, crusted over with blood. His hair was a dirty mess and his pants were torn, a bit of blood showing on one knee. Kurogane reached out for his hands but Yuui slapped him away, his face twisting with immediate regret.
"Sorry." he whispered. "Sorry. … Just wait here a minute, ok?"
Kurogane sighed, running a hand through his hair as he watched the other man leave. He understood. Yuui had erected walls around himself in the form of smiles and games of pretend, but after they'd fallen, there was no putting them up again. He would have to learn how to live without them.
Yuui came back with a basin of water and a first-aid kit and knelt before him. Kurogane wanted to tell him to deal with himself first, but in the state he was in it would only cause an argument and neither one of them had the energy to fight it out.
The blonde set to work carefully removing his left shoe, followed by his sock, before rolling up his pant leg. Kurogane winced when he caught sight of his leg. It was bruised and bloody and swollen. He really hoped he hadn't broken it; it was kind of numb.
Yuui dipped a washcloth in the basin and brought it to his leg, starting at the outer edge and moving toward the center of the area. The water in the basin quickly turned a dirty red. Kurogane knew Yuui could feel him watching. He kept his eyes firmly on the injury, spraying it with antiseptic and wrapping it firmly.
"I'm fine." Kurogane assured him. Yuui had finished his work but remained in place, a hand resting lightly over the bandage. "In a while, I won't even be able to tell it happened."
"It could have been worse." Yuui whispered, staring at it and causing a frown to appear on Kurogane's face.
"Who cares." he returned and reached down, hauling the blonde up by the forearm. "It's already in the past."
He guided Yuui down to sit next to him and reached down, taking the wet cloth to clean his fingers with. Yuui was silent for several long minutes as Kurogane carefully cleaned each finger and sprayed his hands with the antiseptic before reaching for the diminished roll of bandages.
"I had never thought of it like that." he said eventually, his voice small next to Kurogane as the larger man tried to wrap his hands, failing and undoing his attempt to try again.
"What?" Kurogane offered, merely his line said on cue, unneeded but provided to show that he acknowledged the conversation.
"That I had been raised there." Yuui answered, carefully avoiding Kurogane's raised, contemplative gaze. "Whenever I used to think about my childhood, I would try to remember my mother's voice, when she would sing lullabies to my brother and I before bed – which later became trying to imagine her voice the more years that passed but the truth is… I spent most of my childhood in the arms of pedophiles and other prostitutes. The closest I came to a normal childhood was watching old reruns of My Life Without You with my dance instructor…until he ODed." Yuui paused, considering, maybe, whether he shouldn't have said that.
"Growing up is something that just happens." Kurogane grumbled. "It isn't the same as being raised."
Yuui leaned forward, laying his head against Kurogane's shoulder, not comfortably, just exhaustedly pressing his forehead into the other man's solid form. "I just want to push the rewind button and not have left the house last night. Can I do that? Ashura beat us there and the only thing I accomplished was that I blew up my very first building."
"First," Kurogane replied "it was also your last building and second," he added, looking back over his shoulder at the boy lying behind them "that kid might disagree."
Yuui straightened, looking back at the child, thoughtfully.
"Kuro-poi saved him." He turned and grinned at Kurogane. "That hero complex is going to screw you over one of these days."
Kurogane frowned, a slight blush dusting his cheeks. "I don't have a hero complex. It's not like I could leave him there."
"Hmm." Yuui leaned over to the boy, tilting his head as he looked down at him with a soft expression. "He really does look just like Syaoran." Yuui hesitated, but Kurogane waited for him to speak. "He's going to go home…if he's ok, isn't he?"
"Yeah." Kurogane answered solemnly, looking at Yuui. "You too."
Yuui looked back at him, more of acceptance and apprehension than resolve in his eyes. "Yeah."
They caught a few hours of sleep on the floor, leaning against the bed and each other until a light knock on the door woke them.
"Um…is anyone in here?"
At the sound of the voice Yuui leapt to his feet. He was at the door within the second, pulling it open. Kurogane was still trying to process the missing warmth at his side.
"Yuui?" Fai's eyes widened as he got a good look at his brother. "Oh my god, Yuui, what happened?"
"Fai." Yuui returned, pulling his twin into his embrace.
"Who is that?" Fai pointed into the room and Kurogane turned back to see the boy lying on the bed behind him.
Apparently he'd woken up at some point and was currently staring at the ceiling with some degree of fascination, an arm reaching out to it as though he were trying to touch it.
Kurogane dragged himself to his feet, a rather painful task, and sat down on the bed to get the child's attention.
"I'll explain everything," Yuui was saying to his brother "but right now, I need to see Ashura. Can you take me to him?"
"Sure." Fai answered, clearly confused and worried for his brother's injuries.
"Kuro-pon, don't leave his side. We don't know how long he's been awake."
"Yeah." Kurogane acknowledged, turning back and nodding to the blonde. Yuui nodded back and ushered his brother out the door, closing it behind them.
When he looked back, he saw that the boy had taken notice of him and was staring at him with some kind of pleading expression. Then he reached out a hand and grabbed Kurogane's shirt in a loose fist.
"I'm really hungry. Can't I eat now? Please?"
A wave of disgust struck Kurogane but he tried not to let it show as he reached down, smoothing down the boy's hair in a gesture he hoped was soothing.
"Sure. Sure you can. Whatever you want. Just wait for those guys to get back, ok?"
The boy nodded, looking up at him with wonder. "I'm hot." he said at length and the disgust surfaced again.
The boy was silent for some time, content to just stare at him, unnerving Kurogane who couldn't seem to find any other place to look to distract himself. Eventually he decided that some conversation was called for.
"What's your name, kid?" he asked. Kurogane didn't make a habit of talking to small children. The last time he'd asked a kid their name; they'd started bawling and ran off. It had been a bad day.
The boy continued to stare at him. Kurogane really hoped the drugs wouldn't cause permanent damage. Eventually, though, the boy did answer him.
That had been Kurogane's first guess.
"My name's Kurogane."
"You're nice." Syaoran said, taking hold of the hem of his shirt.
Kurogane didn't know what to say to that.
"Do you know what happened to you?"
Syaoran looked down shamefully and muttered. "I ran away."
"From where?" Kurogane asked, frowning. "From home?"
Syaoran shook his head. "From the house. I was drawing a picture of Mommy and the lady said she was going to find a new Mommy for me…but I don't want a new Mommy." The boy's eyes filled with tears and Kurogane reached out, hesitating before he lay his hand over the dirty brown locks, rubbing his hair slowly.
"Did your parents die, kid?"
"The car got hit…and they didn't come back from the hospital." the boy's small voice answered.
"She shouldn'ta said that to you." Kurogane growled. "That lady doesn't know what she's talking about. Parents can't be replaced."
Just then, the door swung open. Yuui and Fai were followed by the butler, who was carrying a small metal case.
"Ashura isn't home right now." Fai explained.
The butler took a seat on the bed next to Kurogane and opened the case between them. It contained a single syringe and a small bottle of what Kurogane assumed was the counter drug Yuui had spoken of. Tipping the bottle upside down, he filled the syringe and turned to Syaoran with it.
"I am not a doctor, so this may hurt a little. Understand?"
Syaoran shied away from him a little.
"I'll need your arm." the man went on, ignoring his reaction entirely.
Syaoran didn't seem inclined to let go of Kurogane's shirt any time soon and he stared up at the butler stubbornly.
"Let him do it." Kurogane said, deciding to trust him against the weight of the drug's negative after-effects. But if he did anything funny, Kurogane was going to kill him.
Syaoran gave the butler his right arm, but he quickly reached over to grab Kurogane's shirt with his left.
The butler tied off his arm and made quick work of administering the drug then he returned the needle and pressed a cotton ball to the small bead of blood surfacing on the boy's arm, folding his arm up to keep it in place.
"I have contacted master Ashura." the butler said to Kurogane. "He is bringing a doctor to attend to your injuries."
"That isn't necessary." Kurogane argued back.
"It is." Yuui countered.
"I said it's not." Kurogane snapped.
"Yuui," Fai interjected. "Why don't you take the boy to the bathroom and get him cleaned up…and you too. I'd like to talk with…Kurogane…if that's ok."
Yuui hesitated but finally nodded and went to the bed, lifting the boy into his arms. He smiled when he saw that the boy was holding onto Kurogane's shirt. "Want to take a bath with me?" he asked kindly.
Syaoran looked back at Kurogane.
"Maybe Kuro-rii will join us if we really take our time." Yuui added encouragingly, smiling back at Kurogane.
Kurogane ran a hand through his hair, averting his gaze. "Yeah, maybe."
The butler preceded Yuui through the doorway and Kurogane looked up as the door closed behind them. Fai watched it close, staring at it for a moment before he spoke.
"Are you really the boy from the drug store?"
He turned back around, looking Kurogane square in the eyes. "I know what you told Yuui; that your name is Youou Kurogane but did you really see me back then? It took me a while to remember it, your face, and I think it looks the same, but time can distort things like that so I want to hear you say it. Who are you, really?"
Kurogane heaved a sigh. "Look, all this fairy tale stuff was that guy's idea. My mother knew that store owner, I guess, and she left something for me with him. That's all. I'm not saying that I was somehow destined to meet him or anything…but I won't say everything that's happened has been coincidence either. I'm just saying I wouldn't rely on it for anything."
Fai seemed to study him for a moment before he came forward and took the seat next to Kurogane, leaning down to rest his arms over his knees.
"You know, at first, after we were kidnapped, I would sing lullabies to Yuui at night and he would tell me stories. But after a while, the stories stopped. It wasn't that he couldn't think of them anymore; he just didn't want to tell them. So, when I saw you in the drug store and told Yuui that you were special it was just because…it hurt me to watch him give up hope and I just wanted to give him something to believe in again, something to keep that spark he had in him from dying because, you know, I leeched off of that spark too. I used you for that but, in my defense, you weren't really real then. You were just some kid that we probably wouldn't ever see again."
"I don't see how any of that matters now." Kurogane said.
"Maybe it doesn't." Fai conceded. "I was surprised, that's all." Fai straightened, looking away. "I conveniently forgot all about my brother…and my fairy tale knight saved him. …It kind of makes me sick. But that isn't your fault."
Kurogane really didn't want to be in the middle of this.
"You know…I think that guy…I think Yuui's a lot happier it turned out this way; that you turned out to have lived a good life rather than the one he had to go through."
Fai cringed and Kurogane wished he hadn't spoken at all but he kept on anyway.
"No one can change what he had to go through. You shouldn't belittle it, or his feelings for you, thinking you should have been there with him."
Fai stood slowly, turning to him with a small, hollow smile. "Everything Yuui said about you was true. You really are a good man." Leaning down to him, Fai pressed a chaste kiss to his cheek and whispered softly. "Thank you for taking care of my brother." Then he stood and left the room, leaving the door open behind him.
Kurogane stared after him.
Ashura said nothing of Fei Wong or their excursion in the middle of the night. The incident was never spoken of again, as if Ashura's solution to the situation was simply to sweep it under the rug and ignore it. It was probably for the best, given that the news reports had dubbed the incident as "an act of domestic terrorism".
Fei Wong Reed's body had been found in the remains of the building, triggering speculation as to why the businessman had been there in the first place. The investigation into his murder had given way to an investigation into Fei Wong himself. Knowing that there had been no operational cameras in the area, Kurogane couldn't have cared less. They hadn't killed Fei Wong (whether he'd deserved it or not), they simply had not had the time to help him. He maintained that way of thinking. The weight of death was a heavy burden to carry and Kurogane had no desire to carry it unless he chose to himself.
As for Xing Huo, who had killed Kyle; she had vanished.
Kurogane and Yuui stayed with Ashura for several days, letting it all settle before Kurogane decided that he'd had one too many cups of afternoon tea with the man while Yuui and Fai played with Syaoran and the dogs in wonderland. The only thing they were missing was the talking rabbit and Kurogane wanted to get out of there before it came hopping along (because once he had inadvertently mentioned it and Ashura had offered to have one made – he couldn't tell if the man had been joking or not).
Despite Kurogane's general dislike/distrust of Ashura, however, he had gone far out of his way to do anything within his power to help Yuui. He had gotten both of the twins legal ids and passports and when the time had come to return Syaoran to the children's home he had run away from, Ashura had arranged for the paperwork to be drawn up allowing them to take temporary custody of the child. It was technically considered to be the prerequisite to officially adopting him. Kurogane had initially choked on the idea of adopting a child. He was far too young for that, in his opinion. But Syaoran had held onto the hem of his shirt and when Kurogane had looked down at him, he had found he had little resistance to signing his name to the numerous documents allowing him to stay.
He had asked Yuui for an opinion on the matter but it hadn't been until that night, when he'd found him asleep on the couch in front of the television, Syaoran sleeping alongside him, his head resting in Yuui's lap, that he'd truly known that Yuui had not signed the documents only because he'd been signing them.
Kurogane, Yuui, Fai, and Syaoran left New Chicago on an early flight to California one chill morning in mid September.
The small house in northern California with the tall wooden fence and well-worn mailbox was quiet in the evening. Kurogane knocked on the door, a cool breeze rustling his long coat as he waited patiently for it to open.
The woman who answered the door, cracking it open and peering at him around it, seemed to remember him and her eyes widened a bit apprehensively as she spoke to him. Kurogane couldn't begin to guess what she might have thought of him just then.
"You're the man who came around asking for directions." She tried to look around him and Kurogane sighed wearily, glad he couldn't see the spectacle on her doorstep for himself. "What…do you want?"
He hadn't thought he would have to actually say anything, so he hadn't prepared.
"Hey." he growled at the two hiding behind him.
Slowly, they each stepped out, one after the other, and the woman behind the door had to hold onto it just to support herself as a hand flew to her mouth and tears welled in her eyes, quickly spilling over.
"Momma." Yuui rushed forward as she cried out, throwing his arms around her tightly.
Fai was close behind.
Kurogane, Yuui, and Syaoran took their seats among the strangers seated in the cavernous chapel. Kurogane tugged at the collar of his suit and Yuui swatted his hand down.
"Leave it be." he whispered.
"It's choking me." Kurogane hissed back.
"Then you'll be especially grateful when I take it off later." Yuui replied quietly.
"Are you bribing me…or seducing me?" Kurogane asked. "In a church." he added harshly under his breath.
"Both, obviously." Yuui answered, wrinkling his nose as he grinned teasingly.
Kurogane rolled his eyes. "Who the hell's taking who's clothes off." he muttered.
The man in front of them turned in his seat, raising an eyebrow at him and Kurogane's face turned bright red. Yuui had to stifle his laughter behind one hand.
"Can I take mine off too?" Syaoran asked from Kurogane's right and the blush went clear to his ears.
Just then the music began playing and everyone turned their attention to the center aisle where a flower girl had begun the proceedings, walking slowly toward the podium, scattering a handful of small, pink petals at every step, her layered, pale pink dress swaying at every movement.
As she passed by their isle, her small jade green eyes met with Syaoran's. Caught in her gaze, Syaoran only stared back, wide-eyed. She giggled at him, tossing her handful of petals at his feet before moving on.
Syaoran turned his head, watching as she moved on.
"Wow." he breathed.
Kurogane and Yuui caught each other's gaze with the same thought. Sakura.
The flower girl was followed by Touya and Yukito, wearing black and white, respectively, advancing down the aisle arm in arm.
As they passed; Yukito leaned over, waving at them with a broad grin and Yuui waved back happily. Touya even looked over, nodding to them. Kurogane nodded back.
It was a small affair; surely there weren't more than thirty people there, but Kurogane imagined that anyone who mattered to Touya and Yukito were in attendance and that made it all the more sincere, in his opinion.
The priest began the wedding by relating the seriousness of taking legally and morally binding vows. He went on, then, giving his own blessing to the union and since they each had written their own vows, Yukito then began the taking of vows by reciting his to Touya.
Kurogane was trying to pay attention, he really was, but he'd gotten to thinking just then, that if Syaoran wasn't going anywhere things would eventually come to adopting him and while Yuui was surely not going anywhere, things would be a lot easier if he signed those documents with him… The logical approach of convenience made the vague thought forming in his head a little less dramatic but it couldn't mask the way he felt for the blonde twin. Kurogane could not imagine what his life would be like had he not met Yuui. So much had changed in his life; he couldn't go back, nor did he ever want to.
Tuning back into the showcase couple, Kurogane found that Touya had already begun his vows.
"I will share…" Touya was saying, looking levelly into Yukito's eyes, holding his hands between them "all that I have…and all I can give, all that I am…with you."
The priest pronounced them married and declared they could kiss. The guests cheered as the two embraced one another and their lips melded together in the sealing kiss.
Kurogane turned to Yuui, pulling his attention from the scene when he cupped a hand over one cheek. Yuui's clear blue eyes regarded him with hopeful anticipation.
"All that I am." Kuroagne whispered, a promise to the other, pulling him into a warm, passionate kiss.
~ Afterward and Sometime Later~
"Kuro-ta! I found something amazing!" Yuui was sitting at the computer looking up music files. "I think it's an old dance of some sort. The lyrics are all foreign!"
"If you can't even understand what it says, why would you want it?" Kurogane returned from the next room where he was packing a suitcase. "I told you English songs are fine."
"Because it's amazing." Yuui answered, stressing the word. "It's called the Caramel Dance!"
Kurogane paused in his packing. Why did that sound like something that was bound to piss him off?
"I'm gonna play it!" Yuui called, which was followed immediately by a bouncy, upbeat tune.
The music alone was saccharine enough but when the vocals started, a cutesy little girl's voice directing the ridiculous dance; Kurogane wrinkled his nose in disgust.
"You are not playing that at our wedding!" he shouted back.
"Yeeees!" Yuui whined back loudly through a laugh he couldn't seem to hold back.
The sound of the door opening and closing interrupted them as Fai walked in with Syaoran.
"Fai! Syaoran!" Yuui cried. "You have to learn this dance!"
Kurogane brought the suitcase to sit beside the others next to the door. "Are you ready yet?" he asked.
"Yeess!" Yuui answered happily.
"Yuui, I'm not sure about this." Fai said. "I've never done anything like this before. Why did you volunteer me for this?"
"He didn't." Kurogane replied, for once, able to defend his fiancé. "As soon as that girl heard he had a twin, she wouldn't shut up about it until he agreed to bring you along. You can tell her no when we get there but if I were you, I'd save myself the headache."
"I conveniently forgot to mention that Tomoyo had plans for him too." Yuui whispered, sliding up to his brother.
"But I thought you said you didn't want to model for her." Fai said, watching Kurogane getting the last of their things together.
"Well, I wasn't going to…" Yuui replied, clasping his hands together behind his back. "In fact, I was really opposed to it at first; but Tomoyo-chan can be very persuasive…and, now that we have a family to support, I want to be able to contribute somehow, you know? Family is the most important thing," Yuui added after a pause "don't you think so Fai?"
Fai gave his brother a withering glare. "I am not leaving Ashura for your fiancé, Yuui."
"Did I say anything?" Yuui asked with false innocence to which Fai sighed. "It's not like I'm bragging about how much better Kuro-sex is in bed or anything."
"How would you know?" Fai returned, challenging.
Yuui shrugged. "I'm making an informed guess based on the virility of youth."
"Will you stop embarrassing me?" Kurogane growled, throwing Yuui's coat at him.
"What does virility mean?" Syaoran asked, taking hold of Kurogane's shirt tail.
Kurogane blushed, stooping to help Syaoran into his coat. "Never mind that."
"Kuro-tan, let's hurry!" Yuui exclaimed, linking arms with Fai and pulling him toward the door. "I want to see the Eiffel Tower!"
"Hurrying now isn't going to make the plane land there any faster." Kurogane said, following him out with Syaoran in tow.
"Tell me what it looks like again!" Syaoran pleaded, running to Yuui.
Yuui launched into an animated description of the structure, Fai adding historical facts at various intervals while Kurogane turned to lock the door.
At what point were they supposed to start living that peaceful, quite life Yuui had mentioned, Kurogane wanted to know. Turning back, he watched as the three piled into his black antique model scion, its colorful hood catching the light where the image of a crimson dragon danced with a blue, blazing phoenix. When Yuui had repainted it, he'd even let Syaoran help him paint small twin Mokona on the back windshields, one black and one white.
Coming down the walk, Kurogane smiled to himself. He supposed the peaceful, quiet life could wait.
Post whatevers: ! I almost forgot! The final song is Caramelldansen by Caramell. (I just learned that this second while looking it up to give you the information on it! I never knew who did it before.) I learned a lot while writing this fic.