Even after that sprint to Sakura, fuelled by the need to hold her in his arms and make sure she was safe, Fai was still reluctant to move. Of course he agreed to go onwards, because the alternative was unthinkable, and he wasn't as much of a deadweight as he had been a few days ago; no one could carry him around now. He had been stunned when Syaoran had told him about the way Kurogane had carried him (like a parent holding a child, Syaoran had said, desperate to protect you, and needing to know you were still alive, and Fai had shaken his head and assured Syaoran that he must have been mistaken because Kurogane could not stand him, Kurogane looked at him with anger burning in his eyes; Kurogane didn't care. Syaoran had just smiled and shook his head, looking much older than his age, in a manner that amused Fai). Instead he displayed a great reluctance to move, staying by Sakura and holding her hand tight as they bandaged and tried to heal her.
That medical student – what had her name been? Satsuki – had drawn him aside, quietly telling him that he was at risk of infection if he did not get an artificial eye to replace his lost one. In reply, he had only pressed one hand against the eye patch over his empty eye socket and declined. He needed a way to remind himself of what he had lost and besides, he politely insisted, his magic would ensure his safety. He had neglected to mention that he had no skill at all in the way of healing, but the point remained that he refused to look at the world with a fake eye. It was one more lie that he didn't need.
While they remained in Tokyo – which was only a few days, four, maybe five, for now they had a reason to hurry – he found many ways to amuse himself, investigating his new abilities and slowly walking around the room when no-one else was present and Sakura was asleep, putting obstacles in the way – a chair here, a box there – testing his sight.
It was not as bad as he had feared at first, nor as bad as the first time he had tried to move, when his vision was blurry and faded due to his exhaustion. It only took that short period for him to learn how to estimate distances and adjust to the loss of some peripheral vision. Fai had briefly considered using his magic to make it easier, but he had come so far without it and he was sure that he would have to use his abilities soon, so now at least he would manage on his own.
By the time they left Tokyo Fai was fully adjusted to basic movement, but the concept of combat was concerning. He needed a partner to practice fighting in his new situation, but the idea of asking Kurogane did not make him comfortable.
So it was just his luck, he felt, that the next place they stayed was Infinity.
Of course they had to fight; was there every any other possible option? And of course this was how it had to work; wasn't that how it had always been? Fai had apparently subconsciously decided to make this as hard as possible for himself, because when it came time for him and Syaoran to choose their weapons, he had moved straight for the complex ones. Sometimes he used the staff with a blade attached by a chain, other times a lance which could be used as a chain whip. Both had a similarity which Fai was sure Kurogane would notice; Fai never used short distance weapons. Throughout all the time they had spent together he always used long distance attacks; bows, chains, anything else he could find that did not require him to feel any kills he made. He could have explained this, had he wanted to – he was so close to the edge, teetering on the brink, that the feeling of having taken another's life so personally would have pushed him over the verge. Maybe at some point in the future this would change, and he would be able to use a sword or one of his new abilities – but for now even the idea repelled him. He was stunned by Kurogane's ability to kill without a second thought (or supposed ability, at least, because Fai had never seen Kurogane kill, though he had some idea of why that was), but did not wish it at all.
So, long distance weapons it was. Of course these were never easy to use at the best of times, but it was made infinitely harder by the fact that he couldn't judge distance and as a result had lost all of his past accuracy. Whenever he had a chance in the training fields alone, he would practice, over and over again, setting targets and trying to hit them with the blade from five metres away, ten metres, fifteen. Repeatedly he would aim too high, blade hurtling over the target, too low, blade slicing into the ground, too far left or right.
By the time their first fight came around he had gained a little confidence, but since all of his practice had been on stationary targets and these enemies were anything but still, his concerns were proved to be justified. Fai was certain that he could feel Kurogane's eyes on him when he overshot the mark and missed an opponent by a mile, or when he aimed a little too far to the left and almost hit Syaoran. In closer combat he had a little more luck, making contact several times and – in one moment – almost cutting another man's arm off. But this as well shocked him, and Kurogane had to dive in to save him as he paused, a little horrified, seeing blood spatter on his arms from the injury that he had caused.
"What happened out there?" Kurogane demanded after the battle, after they had returned to their rooms in silence.
"What do you mean?" Fai answered, struggling to meet his eyes.
"Don't give me that!" Kurogane reached out and grabbed his collar, refusing to let him escape the conversation. "That wasn't your sort of fighting. And you're not that out of practice – I've seen you in the fields, with the targets, every day since we arrived. You only made contact with those other guys two or three times just then!"
Fai didn't answer, instead tilting his head a little to make up for his lack of peripheral vision. Kurogane noticed the small action and let go of the collar.
"It's your eyes, isn't it?"
"I don't know what you're talking about, Kurogane. I have to go see to Sakura-"
With a sigh, Kurogane held up his right index finger a little to the left of Fai's face.
"What are you-"
"Don't talk. Touch my finger with your finger, now."
Hesitantly, Fai brought up his right index finger, too, and slowly tried to touch Kurogane's finger with his. On his first try he went slightly to the right, on the next to the left, and the third time he pressed his finger against Kurogane's. Now he looked away, knowing that now it was clear what was wrong.
"Mage." Fai looked up again. "We don't have any fights tomorrow. Meet me in the training fields with both your weapons and we'll have a day of target practice. There's no point having you fighting with me and the kid if you can't even hit the other guys. We have to fix your problem." Without another word, or even a friendly look – looking just as furious as ever – Kurogane turned around and headed back into the main room (presumably for a drink with Syaoran).
Fai looked at his finger again, held up in mid-air alone without Kurogane supporting it, then folded his hand into a fist. "Thank you…Kurogane," he sighed, but the other man had already left.
By three months later, when their team had started to become well-known, Fai was no longer having any problems with his vision. He had become more comfortable with close distance fighting, too, which he had had to use frequently while training with Kurogane. He and Sakura had grown much closer; he and Syaoran had no problems; and he and Kurogane had become almost a perfect fighting pair, with extensive knowledge of the other's techniques. Their relationship was still strained, and awkward. But Fai was confident that he could stand on his own now and fight for his friends and his Princess.
Of course, as Fai had learnt so many times over his long life, a growth in confidence was nearly always followed by something to shatter it entirely.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed! I came up with the idea for this twoshot recently. I was bored and just tapping my fingers together. When I shut one eye, it became a lot harder to judge where my fingers were and how I could connect them. Try it yourself and see, then let me know what happens! By this I mean, please review!
Anyway, hope you liked -