Hi! So uh . . . I know I probably shouldn't be posting new stories when I have so many to work on, but I figure since this is a oneshot then it's fine! I've been slowly working on this whenever I've had time over the past while and now that it's done I might as well post it. This is set in Infinity right before they leave for Celes.
Kurogane's eyes followed Fai as the mage made his way over to the bathroom, where it was obvious he was going to clean himself up. He was covered in blood, after all. Kurogane gruffly accepted the wet hand towel that had been given to him so he could wipe off the small amount of blood on him. Then he remembered the look on Fai's face as he lifted up the sword earlier, fully intending to kill himself with it.
Perhaps it wasn't a good idea to let the mage be by himself.
With a sigh, Kurogane finished wiping the blood off and set it down on a nearby table, and said a quick, "I'll be back," to Syaoran and the manju before taking off after Fai. He found the blond hastily washing his hands, even when they were clearly clean by now. The mage just kept scrubbing and scrubbing, and scrubbing.
"Oi." Kurogane leaned on the door frame and crossed his arms. "I think it's clean."
Fai froze, letting the water flow over his hands. Then he pulled them out from under the water, shook them, and turned off the faucet—all the while ignoring Kurogane. Keeping his gaze trained to the floor, Fai took a few steps towards the gray towel hanging beside the sink and slowly dried his hands, taking time to wipe his face as well.
"What do you want?"
"Making sure you're all right." The ninja sighed in frustration. He hated this kind of stuff. "You left pretty quick and . . . " What was he going to say? I wanted to make sure you don't drown yourself or stab yourself with a knife?
"I'm not going to kill myself, Kurogane, if that's what you're thinking," Fai said.
Kurogane inwardly winced at the stress of his name but there was no way he'd let the mage know how much it hurt. Despite all the many times he had heard it, the action still hurt him. Besides, now was not the time to worry about such trivial matters. He could tell that Fai was in a very dangerous state at the moment, no matter how the mage tried to ignore it. The ninja could tell in the way Fai kept clenching and unclenching his fists, the way he chewed on the inside of his lip, and the way his knees shook ever so slightly.
"Maybe not, but I'm not going to leave you alone. Especially after what happened."
Fai let out a small, dry chuckle. "After what happened, huh?" He glanced down at his hands, red and raw from his furious scrubbing. Silence passed between them for a minute or two, with Fai staring at his hands and Kurogane staring at Fai.
"I can still feel it," Fai said finally. His hands started trembling and his entire frame shook as he took short, rapid breaths. "I-I can still feel her blood on my hands!"
Kurogane watched in shock as Fai started tearing at his hair. "I almost killed Sakura! I almost killed her!" he shrieked, his voice wild and hysterical. The ground around the magician started cracking, and there was that same, magical electricity in the air as when he nearly lost it right after running Syaoran's blade through Sakura. If Kurogane didn't do something fast, then the mage was going to destroy the entire building and everyone in it.
But what could he do? Kurogane was entertaining the notion of punching the guy senseless, but he wouldn't be able to get more than one blow in before Fai's raging magic would send him flying. And unlike the princess, his presence would only upset the mage.
Amidst Fai's incomprehensible screams, Kurogane frantically tried to figure out what to do. He thought back onto the dark moment of his own life when he lost control, when the sight of his dead mother and his father's severed hand brought out a monster in him that Kurogane hoped would never resurface.
Tomoyo's face suddenly appeared to him, and Kurogane recalled how she had immobilized his hand then shocked him out of his crazed mind by closing his mother's eyes and giving her peace. It was the shock that brought him out of it, and then her kind comforting afterward to help him deal with the grief.
The plan was to shock Fai, but what could he do? Punching him was something certainly expected. One of the windows cracked and shattered, and then Kurogane knew what he had to do. It wasn't something he preferred, but if it would save what little sanity the mage had left then he would do it.
Kurogane rushed towards Fai, ignoring the tiny lacerations on his body from being hit by Fai's uncontrollable magic, and threw his arms around him. He pulled Fai into the warmest and tightest embrace he had ever given another human being before.
Fai stiffened beneath his grasp, frozen in place. Kurogane watched as the magic surrounding them pulsated erratically, as if unsure of what it needed to do. Then it slowly began to dissipate, leaving behind nothing but them and the cracked bathroom tile.
"K-Ku—Kuro . . . K-Kurog—"
"Shut up, idiot mage," Kurogane growled, though not unkindly. "Just calm down. You wanna blow this place up?"
"I-It's just . . . Sakura, I—"
"Shhhhh." Feeling incredibly foolish and extremely uncomfortable, Kurogane started rubbing circles into Fai's back and made gentle hushing sounds that his mother would use whenever he had cried when he was younger. If the mage wasn't being so hopelessly pathetic, Kurogane would actually feel sorry for him.
Fai gripped the ninja's shirt tightly as he shuddered. "Sakura—I'm so sorry," he whispered. "I'm so sorry, so sorry, so sorry . . . " A sob escaped his throat and he buried his head into Kurogane's shoulder. His knees gave out and Kurogane slowly lowered the both of them onto the floor, resorting to a weird, half-kneeling, half-crouching position with Fai leaning on him. The blond then succumbed to his sobs, allowing Kurogane to finally see a little of the man's true anguish. The magician kept repeating his mantra of "I'm sorry" over and over again, despite Kurogane's (somewhat) gentle orders not to.
Not that he was exactly furious with the mage; he could understand why something like that hurt him so. Fai always had a soft spot for Sakura, which Kurogane figured was because she was such a pure and happy soul that the mage, with such a self-deprecating image of himself, couldn't help but be drawn to it. He was always helping out the young girl when the other Syaoran couldn't, creating bizarre scenarios so he could force the two of them together, and taking on the "motherly duties" as he so called it so Sakura wouldn't feel like she was surrounded by men the whole time. Have some sort of "womanly bonding" or whatever.
He then compared what Fai was feeling to himself. How would he react if he stabbed Tomoyo? Badly, that's how he would react. But the fool had to snap himself out of it sometime. If they were going to get to Celes in one piece and save the princess's body then they needed Fai to have his head screwed on straight—not that it ever was on properly to begin with.
A small noise behind him caused Kurogane to whip his head around. The kid stood there, with Mokona resting on his shoulder.
"Fai?" the manju said, speaking so softly Kurogane wasn't sure he heard it over Fai's crying. The kid quickly stroked the manju's fur (or whatever it was called) and kindly shushed it.
Syaoran's gaze drifted to Fai for a moment, before turning back to Kurogane. He said nothing, but the ninja could tell what was being asked. Kurogane gave a small shrug. Apparently, it was good enough for the kid and he walked out of sight, now doing his best to console Mokona.
It was puzzling to know just what exactly the kid thought of Fai. At first, Kurogane figured he was just being distant because he felt out of place or didn't want to intrude on what he perceived as his clone's friends, but after their meeting with the witch a few minutes ago, Kurogane realized it was probably more. Syaoran knew the magician held a lot of lies, that much was obvious. It was a testament to how much the kid trusted the princess to be able to let the magician carry on like he did.
Actually—maybe not so much. Now that he thought about it, Kurogane wondered if perhaps all those times that Syaoran was busy looking at the princess—if he was watching Fai. Making sure he didn't betray their trust and turn on them.
It seemed that at least one good thing came out of this, if one were morbid enough to think about it in that light. With Fai's reaction to stabbing Sakura, it seemed to erase all the kid's doubts about him. Now he knew Fai was being sincere.
By now, Fai's sobs had subsided into quiet hiccups. His grip on Kurogane's shirt slackened and he started pulling away, keeping his gaze downwards. For a brief second, Kurogane's hands reached out to wipe away the mage's tears, then he thought better of it. Most likely Fai still hated him and wouldn't appreciate that kind of contact. The magician's face was already flushed enough with embarrassment at being caught at such a vulnerable time.
Everything was silent between them as they stood up, the air thick with awkward tension. Fai quickly wiped his face dry with his hands, not daring to look at Kurogane, who found he could do nothing but stare at the mage. As awkward as it was, he had to make sure the man was still okay.
Finally, Fai glanced up at Kurogane, his eyes surprisingly dry. He opened his mouth partway, struggling to say something. "I-I . . . tha—"
"Tch—whatever," Kurogane said. "That guy said he'd have clothes for us. Let's go." He quickly turned around and left, not wanting to see the expression on the mage's face. It was obvious that he was struggling to give his thanks, but to be honest, Kurogane didn't want to hear it. However honest or sincere the magician's thanks would have been, it would have hurt too much to hear his full name attached at the end of it.
He was pleased enough with how things had progressed. For the past couple of months, all that had exchanged between the two of them were bitter glares and even bitter words. This had been improvement, and he wasn't asking for too much. Just knowing the mage felt comfortable enough again to even think about thanking him, let alone cry on his shoulder was good enough for him.
What do you think? Kurogane is an interesting character to get into the mind of. I hope this all seemed like it could happen, since you can plainly tell that Fai's stabbing of Sakura really broke him. I figured he needed an extra little outlet of his fear and anger to be able to move on. Thanks for reading!