Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles belongs to CLAMP

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A painting by TsukinoChou on deviantart inspired this story

http : / / tsukinochou . deviantart . com / gallery / # / d2eskir

I titled the story after her painting I recommend you check out her gallery of work.

Warning: violence, language, and adult situations

This is an AU story; there will be yaoi, and OOC. Why? Because I said so and this is the only time, I am putting this particular warning up. If you don't like it, don't read the story.


- Prologue -

Five Years Ago:

Kyle glared at the ground before giving the dusty earth an angry kick, "I'll help."

Xing didn't smile, but she felt a flash of relief. If Kyle had not agreed to help then the slim chance she had of her plan working would disappear.

He squinted up at the sky the sun was near its zenith, "If we are going to do this then we should do it now while he," the word was said as though a curse, "is busy with Reed."

-XXXXXXX-

Kyle with his gangly thirteen-year-old body was crouched in front of a door, his fingers delicately maneuvering the slim pieces of metal in the lock. Through his sensitive fingers, he felt the lock tumble open and gave a small grunt of satisfaction.

Standing he reached for the doorknob but hesitated opening the door giving the girl next him a speculative look, "Are you sure you want to come in? You can wait out here."

Xing felt her jaw clench and she drew herself to her full height too young to realize the difference in their stature made the stance ineffective, "I dreamt this. I already saw everything."

Kyle shook his head, "Dreaming something is not the same as seeing it for real."

"You'll need my help," she told him firmly.

He gave shrug and pushed the door open. The two crept into the silent room, Xing holding onto the edge of Kyle's shirt. Their objective was the large bed that seemed to dominate the space, its innocuous appearance giving off a sinister feeling.

The scene on the bed caused Xing to step backward, bile stinging the back of her throat. Kyle had been right; though it was just like her dream, it was so much worse in reality.

Kyle didn't spare the girl a look, "He's bleeding," he stated tonelessly.

Xing took a deep breath examining the unconscious figure curled on the stained sheets. The once white cloth blotched with blood, vomit, and other substances she was supposed to be too young to know about. The naked boy was tucked into the fetal position, his back pressed against the headboard. His hands were cuffed together; a chain winding its way above his head to a small hand winch that would allow the length of chain to be adjusted at the operator's whim. Reluctantly she looked closely at the boy, the flesh of his body telling a story of violence. Though she could see bruises and scabbed over cuts she couldn't see where he was still bleeding, "I don't think he is bleeding anymore," she told Kyle softly.

The look on his face was enraged and even if it was not directed at her she instinctively raised an arm to ward off a blow. He climbed onto the bed briefly blocking her view of the boy. When he turned to face her, he held up a hand for her to see, his fingers were wet with blood.

Xing bit her lip to keep it from trembling, "Where is he bleeding?"

He ignored her question wiping his fingers clean on the sheet.

"That sadistic bastard," he growled as he reached forward to gently brush the sweat dampened hair from the boy's face. His voice tender and so soft she would not have heard his next words had she not been standing next to him, "I'm going to get you out of here Fai, okay."

Fai remained unresponsive but Kyle had not really expected one. He was relieved to see there were no injures to Fai's head, it appeared that even in his seeking his psychotic pleasure the bastard couldn't bring himself to mar his face.

Feeling like she was intruding Xing looked away her eyes falling on a chest of draws along one wall, "I'll see if I can find something the cover him with."

"No," Kyle told her removing his cloak and draping it across Fai, "I don't want anything of his touching him. I'm not strong enough to heal his injures but I have enough power to stop the bleeding. Can you do something to keep him from waking up?"

She gave a nod and touched her fingertips to Fai's forehead. Normally physical contact wasn't necessary but it was easier and since Fai was so powerful magicly, she wasn't sure she could do it without touching him. If he had been awake to resist she knew she wouldn't be able to temporarily seal his sleep.

Kyle waited until he was sure she was finished then reached beneath his cloak, his face unreadable. Xing knew he had to touch the injury to be able to heal it. From having him heal her scrapes, she knew his healing magic burned, the intensity of the sensation increasing with the seriousness of the wound.

Her eyes widened in shock. While Kyle's expression was empty, tears were streaming freely down his cheeks, "Kyle?" she questioned quietly.

He removed his hand from under the cloak wiping his fingers on the bed once more, "I'm ok," he told her refusing to meet her eyes.

"I'm going to unlock these cuffs you go make sure the hallway is empty," his voice sounding rough even to him.

She didn't comment hurrying over to the door and stepping into the hall. She closed the door behind her and leaned against the wall. Unable to hold back her own tears she sank to the floor. The three of them had been together as long as she could remember. Fei Wang Reed had taken her in when she was still a baby so she didn't know anything about her other family. It was the same for Kyle but Fai was different.

Xing had been three when Ashura had shown up one day with Fai. She didn't really remember but Kyle had told her Fai had looked like something that should have been dead and that he hadn't talked for a long time. Propping her head up with the wall, she wiped at her eyes. Idly she let her thoughts wander. Maybe the reason he hadn't talked was that he didn't know the language. Fai was obviously foreign with his coloring. Normally she would save that thought to share with Kyle while they waited for Fai to finish his lessons. Fai wouldn't talk about his past he would only grin and say he didn't remember. That Ashura must have found him in a bird's nest hatched fully formed from an egg. She smiled sadly he could always make her laugh but she knew from this moment on their carefree days were over never to return.

Kyle cracked the door open looking for his little sister.

"All clear," she whispered.

He nodded opening the door wider so he could carry Fai through. He had wrapped his cloak completely around him the hood covering his hair. Ashura had said Fai was the same age as Kyle but Fai was so much smaller that he didn't look much older than Xing. Gently he handed Fai down to Xing who cradled him while Kyle relocked the door.

"Where to next?" he asked taking Fai from her.

"Your rooms we need to get some clothes and food for him. We have to have him hidden on the ship before sunset," she answered standing to lead the way.

-XXXXXXX-

It had been ridiculously easy for her and Kyle to sneak aboard the ship and stow Fai in a dark corner of the hold. Using her dream as a guide Xing had been able to lead them past any obstacles.

Kyle had dressed Fai in one of his old outfits and though it was too small for Kyle, it was too big for Fai's slim frame. Xing had hung a money pouch off his neck where he would find it once she woke him. It was all the money Kyle and her had but she knew it would not last long. Kyle had tucked a bag with a change of clothes and some food under his head like a pillow.

Kyle was unwilling to look away from his sleeping friend, the clothes hiding the evidence of what he had been through; Fai looked like he had fallen asleep while they were playing.

"Are you sure this is the only way to save him?" he asked knowing the answer.

"Yes, if he doesn't meet that person he will die. Every path I have seen but this one leads to his death," she answered patiently. She didn't want to lose her friend but this was the only way to save him. She didn't tell Kyle that she had dreamed their deaths a thousand times and for them there was no escaping their fate. If she could spare Fai, she thought, it would be enough.

"Ok, are you going to wake him up now?" he asked.

"Yeah, we have to hurry. The ship is going to leave dock soon and when Ashura returns tonight, he will discover him missing. It will only take him a few minutes to fully wake up so you will need to do it quickly. He absolutely can't see us or he will never let us go back," she waited for Kyle to nod his understanding, "Are you ready?"

His voice sure, "Yes."

She brushed her fingers across Fai's cheek drawing her magic back into herself.

Kyle leaned forward pressing his forehead to Fai's.

The voice Fai heard whispering to him in the darkness was soft, soothing and familiar. After the violence he had experienced his subconscious desperately opened itself up, reaching for the happy memories the voice represented.

Kyle gently caressed Fai's mind with his power his words becoming a geas as Fai unknowingly opened his defenses, "Xing and I helped you escape. You have to stay hidden until the ship docks again then sneak off. Once you get off the ship, make your way to Tokyo. Be careful you will be on your own. Don't you dare let yourself be killed. Make sure you keep yourself hidden so Ashura doesn't find you that means you can't use your power."

Xing's eyes widened in surprise as Kyle pressed his lips to Fai's before continuing, "Don't forget us but when we meet again we won't be friends anymore so don't do something stupid like let me kill you."

Kyle sealed his powers back behind his shields and stood up quickly turning away from Fai. Xing leaned forward laying a quick kiss on Fai's cheek. Though her words lacked the compulsion of Kyle's she gave her own wish to Fai as well, "Be careful and I'll miss you."

-XXXXXXX-

That evening the night was alive with activity as a search for Fai was conducted. Ashura was furious and more than one person would meet a painful death at his hands over the next month. Kyle was in his rooms packing. Fei Wang had announced over dinner that he was sending him to the outer districts.

This had been one of the unavoidable developments that Xing had dreamt, Kyle would go and when he returned the person she knew would be gone. She had not told Kyle everything she saw in her dreams but while she had been convincing him to help rescue Fai she had let slip that if they were to meet again it would be as enemies. She hadn't meant for Kyle to know but those words had been the last ones she had said before he agreed to help. She didn't understand why Kyle had agreed when he heard they would become enemies but he had a slight precognitive ability. Maybe her words had trigged a vision that convinced him? She would not be able to ask. He would be gone before she woke in the morning and she would die without seeing Fai again.

At ten years old, Xing Huo if anyone were to ask could tell you the day and manner in which she would die. At ten years old, she had seen visions of what was to come and though she could not save herself or her brother she was determined to save her friend even knowing the path she set him on was dark and lonely, and that he may die anyway. But, she was still a little girl and she wanted at least one person she cared for to have their happily ever after.


-Feeding A Stray-

The sun had set a little over an hour ago when Kurogane stepped into the alley next to his Dojo, carrying a trash can in one hand. He emptied the trash into the dumpster shared by him and the school next door. The routine was familiar therefore; he forced himself to remain alert. The routine and familiar patterns that made up a person's day were the most likely to lead to laxness in a person's defenses. He was heading back in when from the corner of his eye he spotted a bit of color out of place amongst the empty boxes piled, waiting to be picked up. His pause in step would be imperceptible to anyone observing him but it was long enough of him to assess the situation.

Never be able to adequately explain his next actions to himself or anyone else, he would eventually chose not to try.

He went back into the dojo without giving any indication he had spotted the stray crouched behind the boxes. A few minutes later, he came back out one hand holding his sword, ready for his evening patrol. In his other, he carried a plate containing the scraps from his dinner. Not looking directly at the creature, he set the plate on the ground as he walked past.

That had been over a month ago and he had mentally cursed himself for a fool ever since. Everyone knew if you fed a stray it would keep coming back expecting more. His particular stray was no exception. Though, it continued to hide from him, he caught glimpses of it when he left the food and much to his annoyance it had taken to shadowing him while he was on patrol.

The other result of his feeding the stray had been an increase in the food he purchased. Kurogane rarely cooked it wasn't that he was incapable of it just uninterested. He frequently purchased ready-made meals from Gurīn Apothecary. Without thinking, he had begun buying enough for two. Yuuko lounging in the doorway of her shop had teasingly commented on it one afternoon when she spotted him walking past carrying sacks of groceries. Somehow, the witch had known what he was doing and it rankled him to no end. He hated that she always seemed to know what was happening. She rarely shared information without some form of compensation unless it was for her own amusement.

Excluding the witch he didn't think anyone else knew about the stray until Tomoyo had entered his dojo flanked by her two wide-eyed assistants, Sakura and Sakurako.

'Really,' he thought not for the first time, 'could their parents have been less imaginative when they named them. Even if they looked uncannily alike, more so than even the Li twins who were their frequent companions.'

"What do you want?" he growled at Tomoyo not liking the look in her eyes, there was something scary going on behind that overly innocent expression. He didn't trust his younger cousin when she had that look. When they had been children, it had always preceded something he was sure to find infuriating.

The girls exchanged mischievous smiles before the youngest, Sakurako pulled a sack from behind her back and dropped it onto the table in front of Kurogane.

He poked at the sack suspiciously, "What is it?"

He felt his anger increase when he looked up to see the three had been backing away from him, Sakura's hand reaching behind her to open the door.

Tomoyo gave him brilliant smile, "Oh, well we thought you may know someone who could use those."

With her obscure words, the girls fled out the door their giggles carried back to him as the door slowly closed.

He considered taking the sack and disposing of it in the dumpster without opening it, then a voice in the back of his head warned that if he picked it up it could set off some bizarre trap covering him in glitter. When he was eleven Tomoyo had given him a gift that had done just that. It had taken both Souma and Amaterasu to first convince him not to beat her and then to convince Tomoyo he wouldn't.

Sighing he dumped the sack's contents onto the table. Frowning he picked up first a heavy blue sweater then a pair of jeans. They had given him clothes? He took a drink of his tea examining the sweater again. They were obviously not meant for him, he doubted he could fit his arm into the sleeve without ripping it. He dropped the sweater onto the table and leaned against the counter eyeing the clothing. It was apparent they knew about the stray and if they did, he could assume that everyone in Otthon Ward knew.

He didn't care what the others thought of his actions but he wasn't sure about giving the stray clothes. He didn't want it to become dependant on his charity, but a small voice whispered from the deep recesses of his mind that the weather was turning cold. He countered with the observation that the stray had clearly been on the streets for years it would know how to survive the winter months. The voice that had been silent in his mind since the first time he had killed a man and felt nothing prodded him again. Hadn't he been a no more than a stray at one time? If not for the witch offering him and his cousins, a place in Otthon they would have been just another group of stray kids living on the streets.

He shoved the clothes into the sacks annoyed with his train of thought.

That evening when he set out the plate of food, he left the sack of clothing. Instead of going back in to prepare for his patrol, he leaned against the door waiting for the stray to come out of its hiding place. He had never waited for it to come out nor acknowledge its presence other than to leave food, but tonight he was determined to wait until it came out or left.

He was on the verge of picking up the plate and sack when a tentative movement from the top of the wall that marked the end of the alley and Otthon Ward's territory drew his attention. He recognized the figure's outline from the glimpses he had of the stray. Unmoving he waited for it to come closer and into the light where he would have his first clear view of the creature.

Nimbly it leapt off the wall, its feet making no more sound than a cat's. Its steps were wary, balanced on its toes ready to flee or fight at the slightest provocation.

Kurogane kept his expression blank when the stray finally stepped into the light, standing straight he spoke, "Bring your food and the sack inside. I want to talk and not out here."

With those words, he stepped into the building leaving the stray to make its choice.

Unhesitant Kurogane strode across the kitchen taking out the bottle of sake from the cupboard and pouring himself a cup. He downed its contents quickly, his eyes trained upon the closed door.

The stray was more than he expected. From the color of its eyes that had first caught his attention to the blonde hair that appeared to be coated in a fine layer of dust everything about the stray's physical appearance was ethereal.

The way it… not it Kurogane corrected himself, he. The way he moved caused Kurogane to change his initial thought that he would lack martial training. His movements were those of a combat veteran. With his thin build and exotic looks, Kurogane knew he had to be skilled or one of the roving bands of strays or those trafficking in human goods would have picked him up long ago.

The alley door swung open revealing the stray. He stood in the doorway eyeing Kurogane cautiously, neither outside nor inside the building. Ruefully Kurogane had the thought that if he looked like him he would be doubtful of people's true motives too.

The stray's vibrant blue eyes were even more apparent in the light from the kitchen and Kurogane felt himself temporarily mesmerized. Blinking he shook his head and poured another drink.

"Tch, get in here you idiot. I'm not going to eat you or touch you so stop standing there like some unwelcome guest," Kurogane grumbled gesturing toward a kitchen chair.

He hesitated, his eyes locked on Kurogane's, abruptly an animated smile covered the stray's face and Kurogane choked on the sake he had swallowed. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand Kurogane glared at him, "What are you smiling at?" he demanded.

Instead of answering, the creature plopped himself onto the chair giving Kurogane another contrived and expectant smile.

Kurogane felt the muscles in his jaw tighten and he swallowed the remainder of his drink along with the curse that had hovered just behind his lips, "This isn't a charity. Everyone in Otthon works. If you want to keep eating here then from now on you work too."

Finally the stray spoke, "What do you mean?"

"You have been following me when I patrol," Kurogane stated.

"Ah, so you noticed? I thought I was being sneaky," the stray answered with a small wave of his hand.

Kurogane picked up the slightest of accents in the way the stray had pronounced his words. An emphases on a few of the syllables that was not quite right.

'So, it is foreign,' he observed silently.

Kurogane continued, "Two nights ago there were a dozen men waiting to ambush me. I killed five immediately, three others tried to flee and I cut them down too, the remaining four I found unconscious. Two had been struck from behind. The last two fought a single opponent together and were defeated. That was you."

"You are very observant," the creature told him smiling, "but you haven't really told me what you want."

Kurogane felt his eyes narrow, "I'll let you keep eating here under the following conditions. One you work by going with me on patrol. You don't show for a patrol don't bother coming back. Two if you want to eat you do so when I do. If you are late, you don't eat. Three you eat inside no more eating outside. Agreed?"

A complex series of emotions were visible briefly before the smiling mask was secured once more, "If that is all of your conditions, agreed."

Kurogane had not had enough time to decipher what he had seen but with a mental shrug he decided it didn't matter to him, "That is all of them, but know this you bring harm to anyone here I'll kill you."

Dropping the smile Kurogane found so false, he nodded.

"Eat your food then change clothes. The bathroom is through that door," Kurogane ordered gruffly turning away from the table where the stray was sitting and jerking a thumb toward a closed door.

Kurogane waited until the stray pulled his plate closer and started eating before retrieving his sword. Meticulously he began cleaning the weapon. It didn't need it; he took care of his weapons zealously and had cleaned the sword before going to sleep last night. However, he felt awkward standing over the stray while he ate.

Unobtrusively Kurogane observed his guest while he ate. Though it was painfully apparent the stray was malnourished, he ate in a manner that reminded him of meals with his mother. She had always insisted he and his father use proper etiquette while eating. He had never understood why they couldn't just eat their food however they wanted but his father would laugh and tell him they could do it for his mother's smile. Kurogane paused in his cleaning why was he thinking of the past? He didn't avoid remembering his past but he didn't dwell on it either. Somehow, this creature had sparked a memory he had all but forgotten. His gaze followed the stray's hand as it raised another bite of food to his mouth. Was the food he left the only food the stray had been eating? The bones in his wrist were prominent and now that Kurogane took the time to study the man, other details revealed themselves. The gauntness of the stray's face had been camouflaged by his uncommon looks. He also noted that while the stray's hair looked as though he purposefully covered it with dirt the hair was not greasy, the threadbare clothes he wore were clean, and he did not have the smell of someone who never washed.

Frowning Kurogane paused, "Why'd you cover your hair with dirt?"

"Eh?" was the stray's startled answer.

"Your hair, you keep the rest of yourself clean why keep your hair dirty?"

"Ah, well the color is too bright. It is harder to hide if I don't," he answered his voice light.

Kurogane grunted and resumed cleaning.

"Soooo, Black what do I call you?" the stray asked initiating conversation for the first time.

"Kurogane," he answered ignoring the way he had been addressed.

"Ku- ro- ga-ne…" the stray slowly repeated as though he were testing the flavor of the word.

"My name is Fai," he told Kurogane amping up his smile.

Kurogane eyed him wondering if the guy was aware that his smile was a lie or if it had become such a habit that it was now a reflex, "Hurry up. I don't have all night."

Fai insisted on washing the dishes before changing clothes. Kurogane repressed his impatience and let him do as he liked.

While Fai was in the other room, he went in search of one more item before they left.

When he stepped out of the bathroom a few minutes later looking much improved in the warmer clothes, Kurogane tossed him a long staff. He caught it reflexively his eyes questioning.

"You can't go on patrol without a weapon. Even if there isn't trouble tonight there will be soon. You have been following me so you know what to expect," Kurogane answered as he pulled the door open. All the delays had left him restless. He looked forward to the fights that were an inevitable part of his patrol with greater than normal anticipation. Battle was clear-cut; people were not… bitterly he added, including himself.

-XXXXXXX-

The night passed quietly, Fai following Kurogane silently. The first clue he had that the silence was not going to be typical was when they separated.

Fai had held the staff out to Kurogane, "I'll see you tomorrow," he chirped happily.

"Take it," Kurogane told him as he headed to the gate Seishiro had opened to admit him.

"Thank you, Kuro-tan," Fai called after him.

Stunned Kurogane had whipped around his eyes wide in disbelief, "Don't call me that! It's Kurogane!"

Fai laughed and disappeared into the night.

Kurogane glared at Seishiro who was smirking as he entered.

"So that's your stray," the older man stated his tone suggestive.

"He's not my anything," Kurogane retorted walking past without pause. He wanted to shower then sleep. Tomorrow was his morning to escort the bus with Sorata to pick up the brats for school.

"That's what I used to say too," Seishiro called after him his voice mocking though Kurogane wasn't sure which one of them he was mocking.

-XXXXXXX-

The first few weeks they patrolled together consisted of only a few minor skirmishes with thugs preying on other strays, not those who directly threatened Otthon. Kurogane could have ignored those types of bottom feeders but he had never been willing to let them do as they pleased, even outside of Otthon. Kurogane wasn't stupid he knew some of the weaker strays had started to settle in the no mans land surrounding Otthon precisely because Kurogane and the others kept the area as safe as anyplace could be outside the wards. He didn't feel any responsibility to them because of this but he did feel a certain amount of pride. While the uneventful nights had annoyed Kurogane, they did allow the two of them to get used to fighting beside one another. He had never consistently worked with the others. There were times it was necessary but he had always preferred to fight alone however fighting alongside the idiot had proven to be remarkably easy. From the start, they had been able to read each other's movements. If the fool spent more time dodging than attacking he at least wasn't a hindrance. Kurogane would even grudgingly admit that he was an asset in a fight, if an obnoxious one.

"Good-evening, Kuro-rin," Fai called happily as he walked in through the alley door.

Kurogane felt a vein pulse in his forehead, "Get my name right you idiot!"

Of course, the annoyance ignored him. Instead holding up a sack, "I brought a treat for dinner tonight."

Kurogane raised an eyebrow, "What is it?"

"Real food," Fai told him pulling out ingredients.

Kurogane snorted, "I'm not cooking."

"I never expected you too," Fai answered non-pulsed, pulling open cupboard doors in search of cooking utensils.

"Where'd you get the food?" Kurogane asked.

"Now, Kuro-chin, I don't just sleep the day away when I am not with you." his hands on his hips he stopped his search to give Kurogane an exasperated look, "Don't you have any pans?"

"Don't call me that," Kurogane growled, ignoring the thought that he was fighting a losing battle, "They are in the bottom left cupboard."

"Ah, thanks," Fai answered.

Kurogane went back to reading his book determinedly ignoring the sounds coming from the direction of the kitchen; his growling stomach however would not let him ignore the smells. He had held out for fifteen minutes before he told himself he should make sure the idiot wasn't going to poison them. Standing from the table, he walked over to the small kitchen that was separated from the main room by a half wall.

Fai was humming to himself expertly sautéing onions and what Kurogane assumed was garlic.

"Kuro-chan, if you are going to hover make yourself useful and finish cleaning the chicken," he told him absentmindedly.

"Call me by my name and who do you think you are ordering me around in my home," He snapped, though he moved to the sink and began rinsing the chicken.

"But, Kuro-tan if you finish cleaning the chicken dinner will be ready sooner and you get so grumpy when you're hungry," Fai was smiling and his voice light.

"Whatever," Kurogane muttered.

Fai chuckled quietly.

The resulting concoction of food was delicious. After the first bite, Kurogane had hunched over his plate shoveling the food in without pause. He had been eating pre-packaged meals for so long he had all but forgotten what real food tasted like.

"Kuro-pin, you like it!" Fai laughed when Kurogane had given his empty plate a confused look.

Kurogane ignored the comment and the name, pushing back his chair and dropping the plate in the sink.

While Fai cleaned up dinner, Kurogane began inspecting his sword, "You've been using the staff because that is what I gave you, but it's obvious you've handled weapons before what are you most comfortable using?"

Fai had paused long enough to look at Kurogane over his shoulder, "The staff is fine, Kuro-rin."

"That's not what I asked. Answer the damn question," he responded aggravated that Fai seemed incapable of giving a straight answer.

Fai turned back to the sink, his voice quieter and lacking the artificial happiness, "It doesn't matter. If I had a choice I wouldn't use any."

"What does that mean?" Kurogane demanded

Fai didn't answer.

Gritting his teeth Kurogane glared at Fai's back, "Do you mean you would rather not fight or that you would rather use your magic?"

Kurogane felt a flash of satisfaction at Fai's reaction to his words. The blond dropped the dish he had been drying catching it before it could shatter on the floor.

Refusing to meet Kurogane's eyes Fai hunched his shoulders his posture similar to that of a child expecting to be punished, "How long have you known?"

Surprised by the Fai's reaction Kurogane answered, his gaze fixated on the other man hoping to gain real answers to the enigma Fai presented, "Since the first time I got a clear look at you. Most of the people living in Otthon possess magic of one type or another. You're pretty powerful."

Slowly Fai put the last dish away, "That is one of the things that makes Otthon unique. The number of powerful magic users is absurd for such a small ward. It doesn't matter how powerful I am I cannot use my magic."

"Why?"

Sighing Fai turned around to face Kurogane pulling himself up to sit on the counter, "Because if I do someone who is looking for me will find me. I don't want to be found."

Kurogane couldn't repress his surprise he hadn't expected an honest answer, "Who is it and are they going to be a problem?"

Fai shook his head giving Kurogane a bright smile, "Nah, as long as I don't use my magic they don't know where I am," his next words were a mumble that Kurogane doubted were intended for him to hear, "I'll leave before he can catch me."

Not saying anything Kurogane mulled over Fai's words and what was not said. He wasn't surprised to find Fai had a past or even that he was hiding from someone. Kurogane didn't think there was a person in Otthon who didn't have things in their past that haunted them.

"You're a mage."

It was more a statement than a question, but Fai answered anyway, "I guess you could call me that."

Standing Kurogane sheathed his sword, "Well, Mage tonight we have company on patrol."

"I get to meet some of Kuro-puu's friends! This must mean you like me," Fai cried happily clapping his hands the tension in his body disappearing with the change in subject.

"It's Kurogane!" he shouted automatically.

-XXXXXXX-

Syaoran and Sakura were waiting at the gate for them, Kazahaya and Rikuo chatting amicably with the two younger teens.

Rikuo nodded a greeting, Kazahaya giving a friendly smile and eyeing Fai curiously.

Sakura gave Fai a joyful smile hurrying over to grab a hold of his hands, "I'm happy I finally get to meet the only person who Kurogane lets run patrol with him every night."

"Eh," was Fai's surprised squeak at the girl's greeting.

"Enough," Kurogane growled, "So your brother let you come. I don't see your sister I take it she wasn't able to wheedle his consent this time."

Sakura dropped Fai's hands and turned her smile upon the dark-haired warrior, "Touya doesn't have the right to stop me anymore. I'm sixteen remember."

Kurogane gave a grunt of halfhearted interest.

"Sakurako tried to come but Touya forbid her from going on patrol outside the walls until she turns sixteen, but she did get him to agree to let her patrol inside. Though I think it was Yukito who was the real force behind that decision," Syaoran explained approaching them.

"Won't she be sixteen in a little over a year?" Kurogane questioned while watching Fai from the corner of his eye. There was a faint feeling of tension coming from the mage. Kurogane knew both Sakura and Syaoran could sense it as well which is why they kept the conversation light allowing Fai to relax.

Sakura gave an amused laugh, "Don't say that around Touya. Yukito is worried he is going to develop an ulcer from the stress. I don't think he is ready to accept Sakurako as an adult. It'll be even worse than when I turned sixteen."

"Yeah, Shaoran has taken to avoiding him since the last time they were around each other they would have come to blows if Yukito and Sakurako hadn't stopped them," Syaoran told him his voice dry.

"If he's not careful he is going to end up as high strung as Watanuki," Sakura laughed, the idea seeming to amuse her, "I'm Sakura," she told Fai, "I won't wait for Kurogane to introduce you or I'll never know your name."

"Fai," he answered with a bright smile.

"I'm Syaoran," the other teen told him.

"Hey, are we invisible over here?" Kazahaya called.

"You do tend to disappear into the background when you're not talking," Rikuo told him with a straight face.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Kazahaya screeched.

Kurogane smirked to himself seeing the brief twitch of Rikuo's lips. Rikuo seemed to enjoy provoking his lover whenever the opportunity arouse. Not that it was a difficult task.

Taking Fai's hand Sakura led him over to two, "This is Rikuo and Kazahaya. They are in charge of the gates tonight."

Kurogane remained with Syaoran watching over the other four. His eyes never leaving Fai for long, none of the others seemed to notice his smiles were nothing more than a façade.

"He must have earned your trust," Syaoran commented his voice low so not to carry to the others.

"Humph, he's a liar," Kurogane told the boy, "but I trust him around you kids."

Syaoran gave his mentor a puzzled look but didn't ask what he meant. In the time he had known Kurogane, he had learned to be able to tell when the other was willing to share and when he was not.

"Oi, you four this isn't a social let's get a move on," Kurogane called his patience at an end.

-XXXXXXX-

When Fai a started to move to the front of Syaoran and Sakura Kurogane held up a hand halting him, "They take the lead tonight. We are here to observe. We'll only help if they can't handle something."

"What's going on?" Fai questioned curiosity tingeing his words.

"We're going to follow them around the next few nights. If they prove they can handle themselves then they'll be able to patrol outside the walls by themselves," Kurogane explained allowing Syaoran and Sakura to pull ahead.

Fai decided now was his opportunity to ask something he had been curious about since he had begun watching the inhabitants of Otthon Ward a few months prior to Kurogane first spotting him, "I've seen some of the others on patrol outside the walls. They work in pairs. However, you always go out alone, why?"

Kurogane gave the smaller man a smirk, "I patrol with you don't I?" He couldn't resist giving him a small taste of his own medicine.

Fai chuckled, "But, Kuro-tan before you had me to keep you company you were alone."

Looking ahead, he gave a shrug, "I preferred going out on my own."

"And now?" Fai asked lightly.

Kurogane didn't answer his hand shifting its grip on the hilt of his sword. Ahead of them, Fai could see Syaoran mirroring Kurogane's move. Sakura had drawn a gun from the holster strapped to her hip. Fai adjusted his hold on his staff.

"We stay out of it," Kurogane told Fai under his breath.

Fai gave a short nod, worry for the kids causing a small frown to form.

Realizing their ambush had been discovered the attackers stepped into the open. Fai counted nine assailants but thought there were at least one or two still in the shadows. Probably the leaders, he thought.

Syaoran had drawn his sword his body poised, Fai blinked and two of the men were on the ground dead or unconscious he couldn't tell. The sound of a single gunshot broke the quiet and a third man dropped his weapon clutching at his wrist, blood spurting from between his fingers.

The remaining attackers surged forward. Syaoran's movements were a blur each opponent that came with in his reach falling to the ground. Sakura danced out of an unlucky fellow's reach nimbly avoiding his attack while firing off a shot that shattered his arm at the elbow. Two more single shots and two more people went down. Each of her shots non-fatal but hitting a crucial joint on their bodies.

Devastated the would be attackers fled into the night clutching their wounds and dragging their wounded who were unable to move.

Sakura reloaded while Syaoran checked the three bodies left behind.

His voice stunned Fai looked at Kurogane, "Did you train them?"

Kurogane had relaxed his stance, his expression was stern but Fai could sense his pride in watching the kids fight, "Yes."

Walking up to Syaoran and Sakura Kurogane growled, "Princess don't draw a weapon if you don't plan on killing."

Sakura's shoulders slumped she hated it when he called her princess it was what he called the girls when he was annoyed with them, "I didn't need to kill them."

Kurogane shook his head, "It's not that you didn't kill but you fought with the intention of avoiding taking a life. You can't go into a fight with that thought. If you can avoid killing that is one thing but if you go in wanting to avoid it then you are hamstringing yourself and a hindrance to your partner. When it is time you cannot hesitate to kill."

Sakura nodded.

Syaoran placed a comforting hand on her shoulder and she reached up to give his hand a squeeze in thanks.

"Just some common thugs, probably hoping to make a name for themselves taking on the Black Dog and his cat," Syaoran reported.

Kurogane and Fai both gaped at the boy.

"What did you just call us?" Kurogane demanded

Syaoran gave them surprised looks, "You didn't know?"

Sakura dimpled, "I know Kurogane never pays attention to gossip but I thought you may have known Fai. People have been calling Kurogane Black Dog for a while."

Kurogane grunted and Fai nodded that he had known.

She continued, "Well the rumors are circulating that Otthon's Black Dog has been fighting alongside a man who moves like a cat. They are calling you his cat, Fai."

Of once Fai's expression was genuine and it was shocked.

Kurogane couldn't help but smirk a little at the man's expression the irritation that was sure to arise from the rumor would almost be worth it if it shut the idiot up for a minute, "Don't those fools have anything better to do than spread around useless gossip," he growled perfunctorily.

Sakura seemed to have read his thoughts and smothered a giggle with her hand. Syaoran just shrugged.

Knowing there wouldn't be a satisfactory answer Kurogane looked past the other three, "Let's finish up. I told Sorata I'd go with him and Fuuma tomorrow to drop off the brats."

It was Syaoran's turn to look surprised, "Kamui isn't going with them?"

Resuming patrol Kurogane shook his head negative, "He took an injury the last time he and Fuuma were picking up a shipment of weapons. Yukito told Fuuma he needed to rest so…"

Kurogane didn't need to finish the sentence Syaoran and Sakura could guess what happened.

Sakura smiled up at Fai, "What Kurogane isn't saying is if Yukito said Kamui needs to rest Fuuma would make sure he does even if it involves beating him unconscious to do it."

"Wouldn't that sort of defeat the purpose," Fai pointed out.

"Those four are all insane," Kurogane answered.

Sakura rolled her eyes, "You're one to talk. Fuuma and Seishiro aren't brothers but they grew up together so they might as well be. They live with Kamui and Subaru. Kamui and Subaru are twins. The four of them run a weapons store. They have well unique relationships with each other."

Fai raised an eyebrow, "You mean they are lovers?"

Kurogane snorted, "No, its not that they are lovers its that they used to try and kill each other on sight and that continued even after Fuuma and Kamui started sleeping with each other. The same for Seishiro and Subaru. Before you ask I have no idea what changed but they don't try to kill each other anymore and I suppose you can say they get along, just not always peacefully."

Fai skipped around Kurogane so he was in front of him giving him a smile, "For someone who disdains gossip, Kuro-min sure knows a lot," he said innocently his hands clasped behind his head.

"Who do you think had to deal with them when they were fighting and if you can't get my name right, SHUT UP!" Kurogane screamed at the laughing man lunging for him.

Fai danced backwards unrepentant.

Syaoran smiled at the two. Kurogane was chasing after Fai yelling for him to stop running and take his beating like a man.

"They get along well," Syaoran said thoughtfully

Sakura nodded watching Kurogane, "Kurogane seems happier."

"Don't let Kurogane hear you say that. Or the next time you go to train he'll work you half to death," Syaoran warned.

"He does that anyway," she responded still smiling.

They managed to make it through the remainder of the patrol peacefully, excluding when Kurogane chased Fai around some more after the giggling blond called him Kuro-woofy.

Both Syaoran and Sakura had dissolved into laughter at that point.

Kurogane seemed to realize something when he heard the kids' laughter and froze turning to point at Sakura, "Not a word to Tomoyo."

Sakura blinked a couple of times confused then a smile of utter delight filled her face, "Oh, I won't say anything. She'll find out all about this on her own."

Kurogane slapped a hand over his eyes groaning.

"Tomoyo?" Fai asked.

Syaoran still smiling answered, "Kurogane's cousin. She likes to tease him."

"I hope I get to meet this person of outstanding fortitude someday," Fai said smiling at Kurogane.

"I'm not letting the two of you anywhere near each other. She almost as big of an idiot as you," he growled.

They had reached the gate Rikuo having spotted them was waiting to open it.

Sakura with a smile and Syaoran a nod to Fai hurried inside. Sakura a firm grip on Syaoran's hand.

Kurogane watched the two, "I hope she gets home before morning," he muttered.

"They are very cute together," Fai told him with a small wistful smile.

Kurogane shrugged, "You have someplace safe to stay?"

Fai frowned at him not following the abrupt change in the conversation, "What?"

Kurogane faced Fai his face and voice neutral, "The brats said you have been connected with us. There are those who'll come after you because of it. Like those idiots tonight looking to make a name for themselves."

"Ah, Kuro-sama is so sweet. You're worried," Kurogane snorted in disgust, "but you don't need to be concerned Kuro-pin, I'll be fine," Fai told his scowling companion.

Kurogane started walking away but paused after a few steps, "I'm not worried but it'll be troublesome if something were to happen," he told Fai without looking back.

Fai didn't answer watching the gate open then close behind Kurogane, "Really Kuro-min is too sweet," he mumbled as he disappeared into the night.


Author's Notes:

Well what do you think? I know there wasn't a lot of action in this chapter. Mostly this chapter was about introducing characters and their relation to each other. I know I didn't answer a lot of question about the type of world they are living in but those will be answered as the story goes along. There are still more people living in Otthon Ward to be introduced and we'll meet more of them in the next chapter.

Oh, the reason for the Mature rating will become more apparent as the story goes along. In case you haven't figured it out the rating isn't only due to sex so don't expect this to turn into smut. Though that can be fun this story is a different flavor.

I can't promise when the next chapter will be up as I am writing this while also working on another story for Ouran. I'll update as I finish chapters but I don't know how long it will take so please be patient.

A huge thanks for Tsukino for her painting that inspired the story and letting me run with it. I am having a lot of fun with this and it is thanks to you.

Now for anyone interested I have uploaded on Deviantart a complete list of all the nicknames Fai uses for Kurogane in the manga and the xxxholic special chapter. You can find it at (just take out the spaces):

http : / rosepricklyshrub . deviantart . com / art / All – of – Kurogane – s – Nicknames - 170192835

AMV For this Chapter (youtube): '#225. Tsubasa- Once' by MiseryPheonix

*glancing to left*

"Did you have something you wanted to add?"

Unknown Male Voice, "Nope I just had fun watching you curse your computer while you were making that list."

"You are not a very nice person."

*UMV with a wolfish grin* "Where would the fun be if I were nice?"

*swallowing nervously and glancing around empty room*

"Umm, well that's true I guess."

UMV, "Now that the chapter is finished are you done ignoring me?"

"Well I still have to finish that chapter for 'Lightening and Thunder'."

*UMV with a predatory growl* "Later."

"Eppp!" *sound of running feet*

Bye-bye.