Sakura wasn't quite sure who was supporting whom and who was leaning on the other for support, but she knew she would never have been able to stagger her way back to where they had left all their friends without Syaoran's help. Exhaustion had hit both of them like a ton of bricks the minute they realized that Fei Wang was truly dead. The adrenaline completely vanished from her bloodstream, leaving her a panting, shuddering mess but even so, she knew she could not wait around to catch her breath. Even with their master dead, Fei Wang's troops were still out there fighting against the rebels and until they received word of their surrender, there wasn't time for them to relax. So, despite their protesting muscles, they still managed to somehow find their way back to where everyone else was.
Meilin was only beginning to stir as they clambered over the scorched rocks that littered the now nearly-destroyed hallway of the palace, the doors of the once grand ball room barely hanging by the hinges, resembling boards of charcoal more than elegant pieces of wood. Her gaze skimmed over the damage as she searched around for survivors, noting Touya and Yukito kneeling next to Meilin. Her heart skipped a beat as she realized she could not spot Kurogane or Tomoyo, but her fears were squashed away when she heard the captain's voice.
"Alright, you dumb blond, enough is enough now!" His growl came from somewhere on the other side of the destroyed ballroom doors, "get out of those wires already. We can't just sit around waiting for you to haul your ass out of there, so hurry the hell up."
"Sakura!" she was enveloped in a bone-crushing hug as soon as she managed to find stable ground. Syaoran let go of her to slowly approach his cousin, leaving Touya to fuss over her. Keeping an eye on the brunette, she let her brother scold for a moment or two before her attention was once again drawn to Kurogane's somewhat shaky voice.
"Damn it, Fai, this isn't funny anymore." She heard him yell, a little surprised to hear him use the pilot's name. She suddenly became aware of the lack of magic in the air. Where there had been a near-suffocating excess of it in these hallways before, there was nothing left. Dread slowly tightened its claws around her heart as she let go of Touya to stagger over to the ballroom. Fai's body was still suspended from the wires that attached him to the mainframe, though she could see Kurogane and Tomoyo working to cut them off wherever they could. Knowing she was tired enough to keel over any moment, Sakura still summoned her knives to help get the blond out, trying not to think about the man's disconcerting lack of response to the captain's words.
The others soon joined in, ignoring the pains of their own bodies as they all tried to free the blond. Kurogane was the one to catch him as the last of the wires gave way and Fai fell to the ground. He stumbled under the limp weight for a couple seconds before he carefully laid him out on the bloodstained floor.
"He won't wake up." Syaoran murmured softly. She bit her lip, watching as Tomoyo moved in to check the blond for a pulse, first at his wrist before pressing two fingers to his neck. Sakura could see the emotions flickering through the medic's eyes even as she removed her hand and pressed her ear to the blond's chest. The lack of magic surrounding Fai and Syaoran's words had already tipped her off to what had happened, but she still wasn't quite prepared to hear it when Tomoyo sat up to look at Kurogane with tears flowing down her pale cheeks. Something inside Sakura cracked at that moment.
"No," The captain shook his head, staring down at the unmoving body with something akin to horror as he grabbed Fai by the shoulders, shaking the man desperately, "No! I haven't beaten the crap out of you for all the shit you put us through yet. You do not get to get out of that so easily!"
"Kurogane…" Tomoyo whispered shakily, laying a restraining hand on the captain's arm, the latter meeting the medic's gaze at the sound of her soft voice, "he's…"
"No!" Kurogane roared, glowering down at the corpse he held in his hands, "you think playing the martyr will make me forgive you for what you did to the kid?" Despite the antagonistic relationship Sakura had witnessed between the captain and pilot of Little Wolf, Sakura knew the blond had been an important part of the tiny ship's crew, just as he had become an important figure in her own life in the short amount of time she had known him. She wasn't even aware of her own tears until her brother moved in to hold her in a comforting hug. Syaoran squeezed her hand for a couple of seconds before letting go to kneel next to his adoptive family. "Open your eyes and face me like a man, you coward!"
Sakura decided not to take note of the wetness in the captain's eyes as he finally let go of the pilot, pulling a sobbing Tomoyo to his chest as Syaoran carefully began to extract the few wires that were still embedded in the blonde's body. Sakura wasn't sure how she knew it, but thinking back to how the blond had fallen silent right after Syaoran had gotten his soul back, she concluded that the spell Fai had cast through Sakura to restore the brunette's soul must have been what did the blond in. The human body had a limit to the amount of magic it could safely transmit through itself without causing a burn out, a fatal side effect of conducting magic that far exceeded the safe limit of the human body. The spell Fai had cast must have crossed over that threshold. But that didn't quite explain how he had helped them in their fight against Fei Wang Reed…
Maybe it hadn't really been Fai himself that had done that, but just an imprint of him, sustained by the remnants of the mainframe he had been attached to at the time of his death. His magic had become one with that of his twin, the very last of his thoughts so focused on helping them stop Fei Wang that it had become bound to his will even beyond death, remaining there long enough to fulfill his last wish before fading out of existence. She had known his brother, she could remember the way Fai had looked at her all those cycles ago when he had helped her escape, and now Yuui had done the same, sacrificing his life in hopes of making right the wrongs the twins had once been forced to commit. Sakura was grateful for her brother's strong grip around her waist when she allowed herself a moment of weakness to mourn the blond's death, burying her face in her brother's ruined hunter uniform. She did not notice Yukito and Meilin stepping out of the ballroom to give them room a little privacy.
Within an hour of Fei Wang's death, hunters still loyal to the Bat Lord's cause were surrendering themselves to the rebel forces, Meilin taking control of the situation despite her injuries, Masooma, Touya and Yukito helping her direct the magicians all over Hong Kong. Fai's corpse was moved to a quieter and relatively still-intact part of the palace, while Kurogane and Tomoyo threw themselves into securing prisoners with Sakura and Syaoran. Within twenty-four hours of Fei Wang's fall, the entire planet was liberated and brought under the control of the rebels. Sakura was pleasantly surprised to notice the cursed tattoos that marked her skin had faded away to dark smudges which were slowly but steadily growing lighter.
Sakura was the one to contact Yuuko on Infinity to deliver the good news, not really surprised to discover the wine-eyed woman had already begun the movement of her own vast network of spies to get various factions of magicians and some non-magicians as well to start revolts all over the galaxy. Fei Wang's vast empire continued crumbling in on itself as various lesser lords tried to take over their respective planets in hopes of filling in the power vacuum, managing with only varying degrees of success.
A mass funeral and memorial service was held for all those who lost their lives during the rebellion in the Royal Gardens on the third day, though at Syaoran's request, a very small service was held for Fai near sunset that day. Despite having lived with them for quite a while, the captain and his fiancé had not really known much about the blond's personal life. As such, they had had no idea about what to do with the pilot's body until Chii – who had travelled to Hong Kong upon hearing about the death of her last family member- shared that they burnt their dead. The blond hacker had been heartbroken at the news but she had managed to not lose her composure at all within Sakura's sight, though she suspected Chii must have cried in the privacy of her room after the funeral. Kurogane was only one who stayed by the funeral pyre until the embers faded out. Sakura had escaped with Touya and Yukito as soon as possible to run errands around the capital while Syaoran had been roped into doing one thing or another with Meilin. The red-eyed hunter had taken over as the liberated planet's ruler, being one of the remaining Lis after Syaoran had refused the position. No one really knew where Tomoyo had vanished off to.
A week after the rebellion, Touya began to notice Sakura's restlessness. Clow was one of the planets still struggling to overthrow Fei Wang's generals, and as much as the hunter wanted to enjoy his freedom over no longer having to conceal who he was or hide his magic, he knew that, as the crown prince of the previously ruling family of Clow, it was his duty to liberate his homeworld. A discussion with Sakura revealed her feelings to be the same on that matter. Yukito and Meilin ended up being in agreement with the princess as well, finalizing the decision for the ex-crown prince. A week after Hong Kong was liberated, marking the beginning of the Civil War that had broken out all over the galaxy, Touya decided it was high time to return to his home and lead his people to freedom.
The small respite had been enough for the prince to conclude that even getting his own people to place their trust in him after having masqueraded around so long as a lowly grunt in the hunter taskforce would be a mammoth task, but he wasn't about to shy away from the challenge simply because of the seeming impossibility of it. He had, after all, found his Kaijuu again, despite the odds having been stacked against him. So it was with these things in his mind that he approached Meilin in her private quarters late that night. The ship he had stolen had been destroyed in the crash landing on Clow and the remaining Mokona had been reclaimed by the witch Yuuko when she had accompanied the blond techie to attend her cousin's funeral. Touya shuddered involuntarily as remembered the lecture he had gotten from the vengeful Yuuko on the destruction of that brilliant ship because, apparently, that Mokona had been stolen from her by the Ryanban, effectively making both those ships her property. One of which Touya had thoughtlessly destroyed beyond all hope, she had not failed to continuously remind him. She had only let him go after she had extracted a promise of having an entire city on Clow named in her honor once they had liberated it. He still wasn't sure how she had done it, but he could recall Sakura stepping in when Yuuko had begun making some very dangerous threats about taking away his ability to procreate.
"Touya," the red-eyed hunter exclaimed in surprise as she came to the door, a small smile pulling her lips upwards prettily as she stepped aside to let him in, "it's a little late to be paying me a visit, some would say."
"I couldn't sleep," he admitted, hearing her close the door behind them.
"I could think of a few things that might help," she chuckled, trailing her fingers lightly over his arm, sending a pleasant tingle through his body.
"I've been talking with Yuki and Sakura," he blurted out, kicking himself as she immediately pulled away.
"I might have an idea why you came to see me, in that case," she murmured softly, her whole demeanor changing as she led the way to the balcony adjoining her room."You're going back to Clow." It wasn't a question.
"I need a ship." He admitted, coming to stand by her side as she gazed out into the darkness. "One of the fastest available here, if possible. Size doesn't matter much, but a smaller one would be ideal."
"I was dreading this moment, even though I knew it was inevitable and that you'd come to me for it sooner or later," she told him sadly. "But I can understand why you're doing it. Kurogane asked for a ship as well today. Syaoran has gotten it into his head to help free Clow too, you know. I knew you wouldn't be too far behind."
"The brat isn't staying?" he asked, a little surprised at the brunette's choice. Why would he not want to stay and rule what was rightfully his?
"He considers those two his family, and they're not staying."She told him, sounding sadder then she looked. "He's stepped down in favor of me, although…I'm not sure if that's such a smart idea."
"The brat is more of a soldier then a ruler, so it makes sense."He nodded, studying her a little more closely, subconsciously noting the way moonlight seemed to highlight her features.
"The same can be said for Sakura," she pointed out quietly.
Touya opened his mouth to argue otherwise, but seeing the look on her face, so tired and resigned, as though she had aged several cycles within the span of a week, made him think better of it. After all, what she said wasn't so far from the truth.
"I know…" he finally admitted with a dejected sigh as he averted his gaze.
"Well, on the bright side," she spoke up, making an attempt at sounding cheerful, "she won't be running away from you anytime soon. Maybe now you can finally deal with your over-protective elder brother complex."
"I do not have a complex." He shot back hotly.
"Whatever you say, Tou-ya" she teased, genuinely chuckling at his response and Touya found himself thinking how nice her laughter sounded. Before he could find something appropriate to say in response, however, a somber mood once again surrounded them. Seconds ticked by in silence, interrupted only by the chirruping crickets as a breeze blew up to them on the balcony.
"I have had the fastest ships prepared for you and Kurogane." Meilin finally broke the silence. "It's a pair of top-of-the-line hunter warships. Got the latest hyper-drive and a sweet set of laser canons with enough fire power to fill any opposing ships with holes before the other guy even has a chance to power up. Sakura loves them already."
"The Kaijuu has seen the ships before I even asked you about it?" he couldn't keep the indignation out of his voice as he turned back to look at her smirking face.
"Like I said, I knew you would be coming to ask me sooner or later." She replied nonchalantly, "I took Sakura down to the station to see if she liked something. Apparently, it was love at first sight." She added slyly.
"Do me a favor and remind me never to leave you two alone ever again," he groaned, dragging the palm of his hand down his face in exasperation. "The last thing I need is for the two of you ganging up against me with some harebrained scheme."
"I make no promises," Meilin replied with another chuckle.
Sakura stood near the viewing bay, her fingers entwined with Syaoran's as they both looked out at the quickly-distancing planet. Hong Kong was, in a matter of seconds, nothing more than a blip amongst the stars as the ship powered into hyper-drive.
She suppressed a giggle as she thought back to the look on her brother's face when she had announced her decision to travel to Clow with Syaoran instead of him and Yukito on the ship that currently travelled neck-and-neck with them through hyper-space. Touya had pitched quite a fit over that, only fueling Meilin's teasing about his brother complex all the way up until their departure, where he had finally declared that she could travel with the brat if only to prove he had no complex. She had flashed the red-eyed woman a grateful smile before boarding with Syaoran, wondering how much Touya would swear when he realized he had been had.
Her attention was soon drawn away from the viewing window when Syaoran gently tugged at her hand, pulling her along the narrow hallway-like viewing bay that connected the ship's rear end to the cockpit. She marveled at the ship's sleek design, wondering how it would ever compare to the homey feeling that had radiated from every nook and cranny of Little Wolf but figured that with time, Tomoyo and Kurogane would manage to make this feel just the same.
"I knew I shouldn't have listened to the kid," she heard Kurogane swear as they neared the cockpit's entrance, "do you even know what the hell you're doing, witch?"
"That's not a very polite way to address a lady, let alone your pilot, you know," she heard a clearly-amused female voice reply to the captain, "besides, shouldn't you have checked that before you let me take control of the ship?" Hearing Kurogane's resulting growl, the woman merely laughed. "Relax, Captain Hothead, I know exactly what I'm doing." And then in an undertone she had clearly intended for the man to hear she added, "I think."
Next to her, Syaoran laughed at Kurogane's even more violent cursing when the ship swerved and did a loop-de-loop. Sakura suppressed a surprised yelp as she was knocked into the brunette, landing on the platform on top of him in a somewhat compromising position.
"Get a room, you two," the captain came stomping towards them with all the righteous fury of a puppy on a rampage as he stopped to glower at the duo on the floor for a moment before turning his glare at the witch in the pilot's seat, "and you! If we get killed, I'm blaming you." And then he was gone.
"Don't worry, Masooma," Syaoran spoke up in a serious manner as he helped Sakura to her feet, "in the beginning, he treated Fai that way too."
"Don't worry, squirt, I'm not taking it personally," the witch replied with a tiny laugh, "thank you for talking him into hiring me for this trip, by the way. I really needed to get away from Hong Kong."
"If a war is what you were trying to get away from, is going to Clow really a smart option?" Sakura wondered as she followed Syaoran inside and came to lean against the copilot's currently-deactivated control console.
"I'm not running away from war," the pilot replied with a shake of her head, "I just wanted to get away from that place is all."
"So you won't be too opposed to the idea of piloting another one of these babies, perhaps?" she asked carefully, studying the witch's face closely.
"Are you offering me a job aboard Fai?" Masooma quirked a brow.
"Well, Touya and Yukito are planning on forming a rebellion base at Clow once we get there." She replied, "Which means I'll have Fai all to myself. Running a ship that big by myself will be quite a chore. And seeing as Kurogane isn't really looking for anyone to take over their pilot's spot anytime soon-"
"He wants to learn how to pilot the ship on his own," Syaoran interjected suddenly. "Said he doesn't want to deal with idiotic pilots anymore. But he won't say that he can't picture anyone else in his seat."
"I guess Captain Hothead's got a heart in there after all," Masooma nodded before turning her attention to Sakura, "alright, count me in."
Sakura and Syaoran had both received the warships as gifts from Meilin, though for the journey back to Clow, Sakura had lent her ship Fai to Touya, opting to travel with Syaoran on Yuui's maiden voyage. Yuui and Fai would one day in the not-so-distant future be dubbed as The Twins of Misfortune, the deadliest duo of battleships in the entire galaxy, paving the way to victory for the resistance in many battles to come. But that day was still somewhere in the future. For now, they were just Fai and Yuui.
Sakura looked out of a view screen as the ship gave a slight jolt, a clear sign of its preparation to exit hyper-space before giving a near-inaudible boom as they appeared inside the inky blackness of space just a little ways off from Clow's three moons. She could already see the magnetic energies flare in graceful-yet-deadly arcs around the moons in the distance, her fingers reaching out to touch Syaoran's hand as Masooma began adjusting the ship's flight trajectory, making adjustments to get past the security measures installed on Clow undetected.
The brunette touched her hand and laced his fingers through hers once again, pulling her close to his side with a tiny smile. The battle in Hong Kong had only been one front of a multi-faceted war. Regaining control over Clow would be just one other front and though the odds were stacked up against them, she returned Syaoran's smile, knowing deep within her heart that in the end, things would turn out just fine.
A/N: I feel I'm getting a bit redundant saying how it's been nearly three years since I first started out on this fic and now it's finally done. A big thank you to everyone who's stuck by my side since the very beginning and to everyone else who followed me over time. You guys are awesome.
Now with that out of the way, I suppose it's high time I start looking for places to hide because I know a couple of someones who might not be very pleased with me killing off Fai. But it was a necessary death. I mean, can you imagine anyone surviving after all that blood loss? Not to mention channeling so much magic. So yeah… he's dead. But at least he can be with his brother now.
Moving on to the next bit, I know people had probably been hoping for a more conclusive ending with lots of happy reunions and stuff but seeing as I didn't want to just go off on a tangent from the mood set by the rest of the fic, this was the closest I could get to a happy ending. Besides, an empire as vast as Fei's was made out to be, it would have been impossible for them to just kill the bad guy and have a happy ending. He had to have had generals and other minions running all those other planets for him. So now with him out of the way, they'd all try to rise up and fill in the power vacuum created by his death. I think even getting Hong Kong liberated so quickly was pushing their luck but let's just pretend Meilin had a very extensive network of rebels all over that world to help them do it so quickly. Okay so this might leave some of you hoping for a possible sequel but I'm afraid I have to say there won't be one. My beta insists that she can see me coming back to this verse for oneshots and stuff and I think that's as far as you will get about seeing these guys again. I might do oneshots or drabbles based on different scenes from everyone else's point of views and wrap up the few loose ends left here though I'd still appreciate it if you guys can suggest what you'd like to the drabbles on in your reviews.
Oh and they named their ships to honor our favorite twins. I think Sakura and Syaoran would have insisted on naming the ships after those two considering how much Fai and Yuui had done for them. But anyways, seeing as this was the very last chapter not counting any possible future oneshots that might be added after this (so it might be a good idea to keep this story on your alerts list for that) I would love to hear what you guys have to say. Drop me your reviews and tell me what you think. ;)