A/N: I was inspired by a fanart of yaoixalchemist (who goes by tearyoursoulapart on deviantArt) to write this. Originally it was meant to be a shorter (and sweeter) piece, but then I turned it into a lengthier analysis of Fai and Kurogane's relationship. The first part is from Fai's POV while the second one will be from Kurogane's, and it will be a mirrored companion piece.
You can see the art at tearyoursoulapart (dot) deviantart (dot) com (slash) art (slash) I-m-Right-Here-183195285
"Good night, Fai-san."
"Good night, Sakura-chan. Sweet dreams."
"I hope you have sweet dreams, too, Fai-san!"
"Thank you, Sakura-chan. Syaoran-kun, you take care of Sakura-chan."
"Yes, of course. Good night Fai-san, Kurogane-san."
"Mokona will help Syaoran take care of Sakura, too!"
"How sweet of you, Mokona! Sakura-chan will be very happy."
"Mmm-hmm! Mokona loves to help. Good night, Fai-mommy, Kuro-daddy."
"Enough of this 'mommy' and 'daddy' nonsense!"
"Um…good night, Kurogane-san."
"Oh…good night, Hime."
"Well, that settles our night-time wishes. Come on, Kuro-puu, time to leave the kids and go to our room!"
"Why do I always share a room with you?"
Fai was glad that Sakura was fortunate enough to be the only one in the group, besides Mokona, to have pleasant dreams. However, despite Sakura's earnest wish for the mage to have sweet dreams as well, he knew this world would not be as merciful to him.
It wasn't as if Fai particularly dreaded this strange world more than any other ones. In fact, ever since he could remember, his whole existence had been a living nightmare. Each world the gang had encountered so far had not been his home world of Celes, but still he kept on his toes. Any moment Ashura could wake up from his enchanted slumber. Any moment, Fai might have to return to Celes. Even worse, Fai was constantly making sure that he caused no harm on anybody he had been traveling with for a few months.
Even though it was a constant living nightmare for the mage, there was something that was different between that and the curse of this world: control. In the waking reality, Fai could keep smiling all he wanted and put up a safe distance by teasing and being naturally pleasant. But when he would sleep, and even more so in this particular world, he would lose his will and control in his dreams - which Kurogane might and could immediately notice.
And that was why Fai detested sleeping in the same room with the ninja. He never admitted to Kurogane or to the others that he hated that. At least Kurogane had always expressed his annoyance about this fact, which reassured the mage.
Fai reluctantly pulled back the duvet of the bed just as the other man entered the room in tow.
"So why did you bid the princess sweet dreams?" Kurogane asked as soon as he closed the door to their bedroom.
"Sakura-chan does not know that this world makes you relive your worst memories in your dreams. It's better that way. Besides, from what Syaoran-kun have told us, she hasn't gotten back painful memories. So, she won't have that problem tonight."
Fai proceeded to puff one, rather than both, pillow. "As for Syaoran-kun, he's sure to have his bad memories. I wouldn't be surprised considering Sakura-chan lost her former memories of him. Yet, Syaoran-kun is very determined to get Sakura-chan's feathers back, so I'm sure he will be fine. Besides, they have Mokona!"
"But what about you?" Kurogane prompted as he sat down on his side of the bed.
Fai did not like where this as going. "What do you mean, Kuro-tan?" he asked with the best innocent smile he could produce and display.
"The princess wished you sweet dreams, too, despite not knowing the extent of this world. However, I highly doubt you would have a decent sleep. For all I know, the person you're running away from will haunt your dreams."
"Hmm, but what about you, Kuro-pii?" Fai piped to avert the direction of the conversation. It wasn't as if Fai was the only one amongst the two that was going to be affected by his painful memories.
Kurogane crossed his arms, his crimson eyes glaring at Fai. "What happened in my past is nobody's concern," he declared.
So the ninja could just say that? Well, two could play the same game.
"If your past is not my concern, then mine isn't either to you." Fai responded. If the ninja refused to talk about his own past, then he should respect the mage's boundaries of not wanting to bring his up.
The ninja's face grew sterner. "The difference is that I have chosen to set my mind on the present and the future. I have told you this many times, yet you don't seem to listen. Idiot."
Kurogane stood up again and headed for the light switch. Meanwhile, as the ninja was not looking back, Fai sat down on his side of the bed, tightly clenching the bed sheets in his hand.
Fai had never dreaded sharing a room with Kurogane as much as tonight. The ninja had consistently detected any trace of his true nature. It bothered Fai each and every time. Outside of sleeping, Fai could skirt away from tension by turning to name-calling and the like. But when it came to bed time, it became harder to sustain his mask, especially if it was only the two of them alone. Tonight, his own dreams, his own past, could betray him to the ninja. Fai hated that and he detested Kurogane for not abandoning the subject.
There was a simple solution to avoid revealing his past to the ninja through his dreams. Fai had to fight the luring spell in this world that makes one fall into a deep sleep, forcing one to relive painful memories in their dreams. Fai explicitly did not share this knowledge to Kurogane, otherwise the ninja would find out that the mage had every intention to avoid sleeping and confronting his horrific past.
Therefore, after Kurogane turned off the lights and settled in the bed, Fai lied on his side away from the other man. If he lied on his stomach and burrowed his face in the pillow as he normally would, he would fall asleep instantly. But he could not afford to tonight. Fai kept his breathing to a minimum, refusing the urge to sigh, which would be a dead giveaway. He could feel Kurogane's gaze boring on his own hunching figure, carefully observing for any signs of uneasiness. Fai hated how the ninja would simply not let it rest. He could only say one thing to try to distract the other man.
"Good night, Kuro-rin."
Nothing came out of the ninja, not even a grunt of acknowledgement or annoyance.
"Aren't you going to say something?"
"Since you won't have good dreams, it would be a lie to say the same," Kurogane responded in a low, serious tone, implying he was through talking for the night.
Fai tried so hard not to sigh at that moment. How dare he point out the obvious like that? But the mage could care less, for now, at that moment. He had to focus on staying awake as long as he could. Fai could faintly hear Kurogane's rhythmic breathing as his chest rose and fell in perpetual motion. The room was not pitch black, yet it was still dark as moonlight seeped on the carpeted floor from the window. Fai stared at the full moon shining in the night sky. He concentrated so hard on it while ignoring the ninja's light snoring for so long that he lost track of time. But that was alright. Tonight, the moon would have to be his best friend.
His brother was his best friend.
Damn it, Fai cursed to himself. He wasn't supposed to think about his brother at all, not now in this precarious world. He could feel the strong magic activating on cue to his slipping mind, gripping his own body. Silently cursing and begging to do anything but sleep, the last thing Fai saw was the moon.
Yuui was dragging numerous bodies, bodies of Valerian men, women and children of all ages that were dropped in the valley for punishment. He wondered why so many were pitted in the accursed Valley of Death. What crimes could they have committed that would have them killed and be disposed? Every time the horrendous sights of the corpses sickened him, the boy would focus on looking at the solitary barred window on top of the tall tower where his brother Fai was imprisoned.
"If I can climb, I can get out," Yuui thought.
Yuui painstakingly piled the bodies to lean on the cold stone tower. After dragging the last one with the even just a little amount of dignity he could, Yuui clambered on top and grasped his fingers on the stone, searching for any grooves to begin footing himself. Fai peered to the valley below from his prison, hands blistered from clutching the frozen bars tightly, allowing the twin brothers to maintain eye contact.
"I can go to a different country with Fai!"
There were barely crevices on the slick cold surface of the wall. Yuui struggled to ascend further as his fingers began to form blisters from the numbness and pressure.
"But before that, I have to know what happened to Valeria."
He began to lose grip and began to fall. Yuui desperately kept his fingers on the wall as he slid down, feeling his blisters opening up.
"Maybe Fai and I can do something to help our people."
Yuui fell back on the pile of bodies. An outstretched hand caught his attention. It was holding onto a scroll. The boy removed it and unrolled it. The writing was scrawled crudely and was at first hard to decipher.
"The Valerian sovereign…in his fits of insanity…put innocent people to death. Now no one can stop him. We beg for any foreign armies to help us…"
The writing became harder to read.
"The reason for this entire calamity falls on the twin princes born in our country."
Yuui began to tremble.
"It is all the fault of the unhappy twins."
Despaired at those last few words, Yuui hurled the scroll aside. So the cruel deaths of each and every Valerian citizen were the result of the insane sovereign's murder rampage, yet their deaths ultimately lied in the hands of the twins? In a panicked fit from the accusation, Yuui attached himself to the wall and frantically began scaling it once again. He had to hurry. Yuui and Fai had to escape this hellish environment and flee to another world together. Each time he miserably failed and fell off he would start over, gripping his fingers even tighter to the point that the deep blisters ripped open, spilling blood. As he fell once again, he saw another form falling from high above. The body slammed into the ground, lying still momentarily.
All of a sudden, the head snapped up. It was the accursed sovereign, madness haunting his very soul. Rasping for breath, the sovereign writhed towards Yuui, cornering him to the wall. The haziness in his eyes completely terrified Yuui.
"This entire calamity that befell Valeria was because of you."
He seized Yuui's ankle, drawing out a sword.
"As soon as the two of you were born, this world only knew sorrow. Now the only ones left in this country who breathes…are you two and me."
The sovereign raised the sword high above himself and Yuui.
"But now." Without warning, he rammed the sword through himself, blood splattering on the snow.
"You two will be the only ones alive."
With hatred in his eyes and a deadly snarl left in his voice, the king proclaimed, "O, unhappy twins, you shall live forever with this guilt."
Blade remaining in his body, the sovereign collapsed to the ground. The whole scene and the king's dying words of hatred rattled Yuui's soul. A howl pierced the whole valley. High above in the tower's cell, Fai kept wailing in pain for the trauma his brother had just witnessed.
Yuui clutched his head, mind rapidly spinning with the sovereign's last chilling words.
"Is it guilt to just be born together as twins?"
"We were born, that's all!"
Yuui held out his hands, fingers stained with dry blood. "Would it happen even if we were in a different country? Would people we never even know…die, because of us?"
"Are we doomed to bring unhappiness to others that we never get happiness, just because we exist?"
His mind was just reaching its tipping point. "Will it happen again? Will people die just because we live?"
Feelings of guilt and rage enveloped him.
"Is it a sin to be alive?"
Fai was silent. Yuui slumped in despair, falling into the pile of snow. He curled himself in a fetal position, paralyzed. The boy remained in that state as an unidentified amount of time passed by, as the valley was blanketed in so much snow that all the corpses were either buried or fully decayed.
"Do you want to leave this place?"
Was he dreaming again, after having so many delusions?
"This is no dream. It is reality!" a voice said as a mysterious portal began opening.
Yuui was stunned. "How could this be happening? Nobody but the dead could come in here!" he said aloud.
A man fully came into view from the other side. "There is more than this country. There are other worlds. Do you want to leave this place?" the man asked once more.
Yuui was rendered speechless. Could they finally leave this place? It was what his heart had always desired. "Yes, I want to leave. If there are other worlds, I want to leave. And I want somebody to-"
The man interjected, "I can grant your wish, however, you must choose! Only one of you can leave!"
In an instant, his brother's name silently came out of his lips. "Fai." As soon as his name was uttered, something was falling from up above. Yuui looked up and saw Fai hurtling down towards the ground. The twins directly looked at each other, two pairs of eyes seeing each other for the last time, before Fai hit the ground.
His body was completely still.
"Fai…" Yuui stared at his brother, crumpled in snow stained with blood.
The man ominously declared, "You have made your choice, a choice that took out a life. You must take that responsibility. That is your curse!"
"Fai!" Yuui cried, shaking at the sight of his brother's horrific demise. So that was the case. After accusations of guilt laid upon guilt, after seeing innocent people's bodies tossed in the valley, and after witnessing the death of the insane sovereign, the only other person he could rely on and ever cared for was dead because of him.
"Would you like to change that? Would you like to go back in time?"
Yuui could not comprehend that. "Go back in time? But nobody could-"
"Assume there were such a method to bring the dead back to life. Would you do it?"
Yuui felt horrible for taking away his brother's life. He would gladly do anything to atone for his death. "Bring Fai…back…"
"You must do something for me then," the man commanded. "Very soon, someone will come for you and take you to another place. But one day, you will travel to many places. When one who bears stronger magical powers appears before you, you will put that person to death! That is your curse. As for the other one," The man paused, "well, you don't need to know."
"On a long journey, you will visit many worlds. You must escort a princess from the desert together with an image of a man I have prepared."
"Are they the one that will come for me?"
"No," the man said, "all of you will eventually meet someday. However, there will be one other person who will also be set on this journey." The man frowned, "But the witch got to him first. She saw further in dreams and arranged for the miko princess of Nihon to get to him before me."
"Therefore," the man said in an emphasized tone, "if you ever meet that child, remember this. He alone is a pawn of the witch. He is not my enemy alone for he has the ability to hinder your wish as well. Your wish is to bring him back to life, is it not?"
Yuui looked at his brother, silently acknowledging his wish.
"For my wish as well as yours, you must protect the princess from the desert along with the image until she returns to her kingdom. You must eliminate anything that stands in the way. Even if the pawn of that witch gets in the way, you must-"
Yuui was terrified. "I have to kill him?"
"What's this?" the man said, "for someone who's responsible for his twin's death, you are hesitant to kill a complete stranger?"
Yuui finally held up Fai in his arms. "I only want to go with him."
The man then explained that the body will decay, thus Yuui will need to give Fai one of the desert princess' powerful feathers to preserve the body. "You will also need to bring a feather along your journey to return it to her. If she dies before the journey is finished, it will be all for naught! You don't want that to happen if you wish for him to come back would you?"
"So I have to help her find the feathers?"
"Correct." The man looked directly at Yuui. "Until your wish is granted, do as I bid. Remember that, until your wish is granted, until your second curse is broken, you are my pawn."
He then disappeared, leaving Yuui completely alone with Fai's body in his arms. As soon as he left, a rupture shook the entire valley and the tower began to crumble into pieces. Yuui held onto Fai until the rumbling stopped. An image of a figure came into view.
"I have come for you," the gentle voice said, "from another world."
A man with long black hair came into view, cautiously approaching Yuui. He had a gentle demeanor.
"Is this where you want to be?" he asked.
Yuui clutched Fai closer. "There is actually something I have to do. So I-"
"If that is so, then you must not stay here. You must live."
Yuui was taken aback, but for what reason should he live? Only one thing could happen if he still lived. "To remain unhappy?"
But the man simply shook his head. "No, to grant me a wish," he replied. His words stunned Yuui.
"Well then," the man extended his hand with a gentle smile, "shall we go to another world?"
Yuui likewise reached out his hand. Never had he seen anyone smiled at him or at his brother before. All he remembered was that Valerians would look away in fear and disgust whenever they see the twins. Even their mother shut herself away from them, so stricken with guilt for giving birth to unlucky twins that she ended her life. This man's warm invitation soothed the hems of Yuui's fragile soul after his brother's death. The warm kindness was a feeling he would never forget.
"What is your name?" the man asked as their hands finally met.
If this was the person that would take him away as promised, then Yuui fully resolved to atone for his guilt and bring back Fai to life. But for now, as long as Fai was dead, so was Yuui.
Something from reality made Fai wake up, which was puzzling since his dream didn't even take him to his memories of Celes. Strangely he still felt that unique warmth lingering in his entire body, and it wasn't coming from the sunlight pouring into the bedroom. The first thing he saw was the ninja's face. His eyes were still closed and his breathing was rapid, yet even. It then dawned on Fai that the same warmth that he felt in his past was coming directly from the ninja. More specifically, Fai was being held in the arms of Kurogane.
He had never felt so safe in such a long time.
However, this presented a precarious situation for Fai. If they were to remain in such a position, it could indicate closeness –even if the ninja was still sleeping. Fai could not allow that. He struggled to unravel himself from the ninja's arms. It wasn't hard so much just because they were heavy and muscular. Rather, Kurogane's arms had minds of their own and kept pulling Fai back into their grasp.
Over and over.
If the ninja were to wake up when they were still in this position, Fai hoped that Kurogane would simply have an outburst over this. But knowing how intruding Kurogane could be, Fai knew there would also be questions and suspicion formulating inside the ninja's head. Not sure what to do, Fai abandoned his futile struggle and decided to remain still. Since the cursed magic had no effect in daylight, he lightly closed his eyes, praying that he could get out of this situation somehow before Kurogane woke up.
A few minutes later, Fai heard their bedroom door opening –rather not so gently- along with a stifled giggle. It could only be Mokona. With stealth and silence, Mokona plopped in one of Kurogane's hand. She opened her mouth and said the ninja's name in a sweet, yet creepy voice out loud. Perhaps it was one of Mokona's 108 Secret Techniques, and that certainly did the charm. The ninja immediately hurled up, instantly letting go of Fai and clutching Mokona in his hand and giving her the death glare. But Mokona only giggled some more.
"Mokona just came in to say that Syaoran and Sakura just woke up."
Fai allowed himself to sit up. "Ah, thanks for letting us know, Mokona," he chirped.
He stretched his arms, loosening any tensions they possibly could have from the pressure of Kurogane's arms while the ninja continued to fume and glare at Mokona suspiciously. On the other hand, Fai was grateful. If it weren't for Mokona, he wouldn't have known how to get out of the ninja's arms. The mage hoped that Kurogane did not even notice where or whom his arms happened to be around before his abrupt awakening.
"Well then, should we get ready, Kuro-puu?" As usual, the ninja grumbled in response.
As the men silently got ready for the day, Fai had a hard time forgetting how warm and safe he felt waking up in Kurogane's arms. The warmth disturbed him as much at the same time he craved for it. Fastening his belt, the mage hoped that they would find Sakura's feather as soon as possible so they could leave this wretched world. He dared not think that it could happen again, that he would wind up safe and sound in the ninja's comforting arms.
Fai had no reason to talk about his past. To do so would reveal that his existence was and would always be a living curse. A living curse that would bring harm to anybody Fai deeply came to care for and loves. To get close to those types of people was and would always be dangerous. Besides, if they knew, they sure would not want to be associated, let alone continue traveling with him. Fai would understand anyway. Who would want to get close to him if that person knew what he and his living curse had done to all the Valerians and his parents? To his brother, the real Fai? To Ashura?
When Fai landed in Yuuko's world, he instantly recognized Syaoran and Sakura as the image of the boy and the princess from the desert just as that man had stated. Bearing that man's words in the valley, Fai knew he would help Sakura retrieve her feathers along with Syaoran. So long as he could simply comply with that man's orders, he still had a chance to save his brother. Fai would willingly do that, so long as he didn't get close to the children. Thankfully neither of them had made any real effort to peer behind his façade of smiles and cheerfulness, so that at least meant he can't be possibly getting that close to them.
But Kurogane was completely different in almost every way. As their journey progressed Fai wished otherwise yet couldn't help but notice. He and Kurogane were getting closer.
The ninja clearly had no idea what was at stake just by picking up nearly every single damn cues of Fai's true face and therefore haranguing the mage each and every time for being an "idiot". Kurogane had no idea who he really was in relation to Fai. When he arrived in Yuuko's world, the moment he heard the tall man who was wielding a bloodstained long sword explaining that he also came from a world called Nihon, Fai knew. Kurogane was exactly the person that man had warned Fai about, who was supposedly Fai's enemy just as much as that man. Since the ninja was the one most likely to be in danger in Fai's presence due to being the sole pawn of that man's enemy, it was especially dangerous for Kurogane to get closer to Fai. There was no way Fai would ever reveal anything about his past, to let Kurogane in to see the truth simply because it would bridge these men even closer. To get closer to anyone in the group, particularly Kurogane, could only invite disaster. For that reason, it was exactly why Fai would never allow himself to even think about the ninja's blunt, yet sincere words. To do so would be a sign of accepting that the ninja, unintentionally, wanted to get closer. To get closer to the ninja, out of everyone in the traveling group, was the most dangerous. It was best for both of them that Fai vigilantly remained closed up, away from Kurogane's arms and perceptive mind.
The men happened to glance at each other at the same time. It was evident in Kurogane's crimson eyes that his current thoughts were not that different from Fai's.
A/N: This was the first time I had actually written largely from Fai's POV that deals with his true character and the psychological conflict that had gripped him for a painfully long time. Honestly by writing this it made me appreciate Fai much more than I already had...and so many parts were quite painful to write about. I would give Fai a huge hug if I could. But fortunately he finds hope and happiness by the end of the series.
I have been working on Kurogane's part, too. Yet there's a lot more I need to work on it. His side of this story may answer several ambiguous questions posed in Fai's POV. Afterall, what happens are interpreted differently. Once I'm done with Kurogane's part, I'll post it up. So stay tuned!