The lights were out in the Cat's Eye and Fai was glad for the cover of darkness. He could see just fine, which was good because he was trying to be as silent as possible. He hadn't been able to sleep so he had slipped out of the café for a midnight stroll. He'd been attacked by a demon while he was out. Luckily for him it was a low rank and easily beaten, but he had managed to reinjure his ankle. He'd hobbled all the way back to the café and planned to take care of his foot before anyone noticed. He could say he just twisted it again while running around the café.
He got the door to close silently and slowly hobbled further into the main room. He'd just run to the kitchen to assess his injuries and clean himself up.
Fai flinched and turned on his good foot to face the staircase. Kurogane stood there leaning against the wall and looking at him sternly. Fai plastered on his fake smile.
"Shhh, Kuro-puppy," he whispered. "You'll wake the children." He saw the vein in Kurogane's temple throb at the nickname, but the ninja didn't retaliate. He pushed himself off the wall and headed to the kitchen.
"You coming or not?" he asked. "You look a lot more beat up than you probably think you do." Fai didn't hesitate to hobble after the ninja.
"Neh is Kuro-sama going to take care of me?" he whispered happily. He heard Kurogane give a "tch" before the kitchen light switched on. Fai got inside the door frame and leaned against it to catch his breath. Kurogane noticed.
"Sit on the counter," he instructed before walking around the room finding various things: a bowl and a towel. As Fai hoisted himself up onto said counter, Kurogane filled the bowl with hot water and brought it over next to Fai. "Which ankle?" Kurogane didn't wait for a response, and put his hand on the one Fai had injured, making the magician hiss in pain. "Sorry."
Kurogane carefully removed Fai's shoe and set it aside. Fai was rendered speechless when he felt Kurogane's fingers graze over his ankle. His hairs stood on end and his toes attempted to curl.
"Does that hurt?" Kurogane asked, the gears in his head turning quickly, assessing the extent of Fai's injuries. Fai took a deep breath.
"A-a little," he said.
"Where's the first aid kit?" Kurogane asked. Fai pointed to the wall by the refrigerator. Kurogane rummaged through it for a while then returned with an Ace bandage. "You open that while I roll up your pant leg."
Fai felt himself blush bright, but did as he was instructed, tearing off the plastic wrap. It was harder than it seemed, considering Fai's eyes were following Kurogane's hands as they travelled further up his leg to his knee. In the split second it took Fai to realize that he hadn't gotten the thing open and Kurogane was finished rolling up his pants, he gasped silently and quickly used magic to tear the plastic and ripped it off as fast as he could.
Kurogane didn't notice.
"This will probably hurt, but it'll work best," he said, taking the wrap from Fai's hand. His fingers brushed the magician's, and both were thoroughly zapped by static electricity. "Ah," Kurogane gasped. Fai smiled.
"I'm just a shocking person," he joked.
"I'll bet you are," Kurogane appeased the mage. He grabbed Fai's heel and ignored the little whimper of pain. He quickly but carefully wrapped Fai's ankle. Fai enjoyed the physical contact. Kurogane didn't usually touch him other than to hit him. He was being surprisingly gentle with him.
Once the ankle was taken care of, Kurogane grabbed the towel and soaked it in the warm water.
"Hold still," he said and brought his left hand up to move Fai's hair out of his face. Fai's eyes widened and he flinched at the sting when the warm cloth met his scratched skin. "Hold still," Kurogane said again, intently.
"Sorry," Fai whispered and kept his body as frozen as he could. The whole time, his widened eyes were fixated on Kurogane's face. The ninja pretended to be giving the magician's wounds his full concentration, but he would occasionally look the wizard in the eye.
It suddenly occurred to Fai that Kurogane really should have been asleep, and must have been awake for a long while, considering he had been waiting for him when he returned.
"Why were you even awake when I got back?" Fai asked quietly. No need to raise his voice when Kurogane was only about a foot from his face. He blushed at that realization.
"I didn't even get to sleep," Kurogane responded. "Because you didn't."
"And why would little old me make any difference to you?" Fai asked sweetly, when in reality those words dug into his heart like a knife.
"Moron," Kurogane muttered, removing the cloth from Fai's face to rinse it out in the bowl. The water turned a murky brownish red with the dirt and Fai's blood. "Take off your shirt."
"What?" Fai asked dumbly, eyes going wide.
"You've got gashes on your arms and torso," Kurogane said, grabbing a ripped and bloody hole in Fai's sleeve. "Take off your shirt." Fai blushed profusely as he did what the ninja had told him to. He kept his eyes on Kurogane though, standing by his conviction to be a tease.
Kurogane didn't seem to notice, and grabbed Fai's left wrist as he began to clean these wounds as well.
"Why do you have to be such a nuisance?" Kurogane muttered. Fai felt a pang in his heart. "Going out on your own and causing unnecessary trouble for us."
"Am I really that much of a bother to you?" Fai asked, eyes on the floor and tears working their way towards the surface.
"It's like you try to be a bother," Kurogane countered, cleaning Fai's other arm.
"I'm sorry," Fai whispered. Kurogane stalled a little, finally noticing Fai's tears. He rinsed the cloth again and moved to clean Fai's chest and abdomen.
"Don't apologize," Kurogane said gruffly. "It does no good. Just don't do it again."
"But there's nowhere I can go in the café to just think," Fai said. "That's all I needed. Fresh air and a chance to think about things."
"And you wound up with a sprained ankle and blood loss," Kurogane said. "Maybe you should try to think from your bed." Fai gave a wry chuckle. "What kinds of things are so pressing that you need to think so hard on them for anyway?" Any trace of a smile left Fai's face.
Kurogane was a little freaked out by it. He'd never seen the mage without somewhat of a smirk. It kind of creeped him out in a way. It was almost like Fai looked dead, devoid of all life, when he wasn't smiling.
Fai pulled his good foot up to sit on the counter and wrapped his arms around his knee, burying his face as the tears came pouring out again.
Kurogane was shocked. What could have caused the mage to start crying? He didn't know what to do. It was like trying to console a crying teenage girl. So he just went back to cleaning more of Fai's wounds until the mage calmed down a little.
"I'm sorry," Fai whispered, tears still streaming down his face. "You don't need to be troubled with my past. In fact, the less you know, the better off you are."
"But you can't just not tell anybody," Kurogane countered. "You can only hide so much before you explode. And since it doesn't matter to me, you don't have to worry about me telling anybody or overreacting." Fai wiped his eyes on his knee and sniffed loudly.
"Let's just say I'm responsible for a terrible thing," he said softly. "A terrible thing that was brought about because of something that didn't even make sense. And it still follows me. Haunts me." He rested his forehead on his knee again, trying to hide his face.
Kurogane almost let a smirk claim his features. He'd gotten the mage to open up a little. Maybe his smiles wouldn't be as fake now.
His eyes followed Fai's hand as it fell from his knee. He looked at Fai's face and saw the mage was on the brink of sleep.
"Is it a sin?" the blonde breathed. "Just to be born… Is it a sin that… we were… togeth… Fye… Fye…"
Kurogane didn't know who "we" were but obviously something happened in Fai's past that was tragic and seemingly uncalled for. Kurogane decided Fai needed to finish getting cleaned up, so he grabbed the rag again and started cleaning a gash in Fai's back.
"Fye!" Fai woke up so violently that he knocked himself off the counter. "Whoa!" Kurogane caught him by the arms, but Fai still landed on his feet. "Ah!" Fai gingerly lifted his injured foot, clutching Kurogane's arms tighter for balance. "Ow, ow, ow…" He finally got his bearings. "Oh," he mumbled. "I'm sorry." He put one arm on the counter behind him and started to hoist himself back up, but didn't seem to have enough energy to hop. He was already winded from falling and waking up so fast.
Kurogane rolled his eyes and placed his hands on Fai's waist to hoist him up. He felt the blonde's muscles tense under his touch, but ignored it.
"Kuro-rin…" Fai said tiredly, blinking at him, fighting off sleep.
"Just let me finish cleaning you up," Kurogane grumbled, taking the rag to Fai's wounds again. "There's not much left."
"Mm-hm," Fai said, letting his eyes close.
"Hey," Kurogane said. "Don't sleep yet. Talk about something if it helps."
"Like what?" Fai asked, resting his forehead on Kurogane's shoulder.
"Like why you say your own name in your sleep," Kurogane suggested. "Seemed a bit odd to me." He heard Fai give a wry chuckle.
"I didn't say my name," he sighed.
"Uh, yeah you did," Kurogane argued. "You said 'Fye', I heard you."
"That's not my name," Fai said. Kurogane was thoroughly confused.
"All right, then what is your name?" he asked sarcastically.
"Yuui," Fai said. "Fye was my twin." Kurogane froze. The thought of there being two of the blonde sent an unwelcome shiver down his spine. The nightmares he would have from that vision… Then he thought on one word Fai had said.
"What do you mean 'was'? What happened to Fye?" Kurogane asked, deciding to keep Fai talking while he finished up tending to his wounds. Fai grabbed the sleeves of Kurogane's outfit and clenched his fists tightly, more tears spilling from his eyes.
"He fell…" Fai squeaked. "It was so high and he fell… Right in front of me." Kurogane's frown softened a bit. It didn't take much to deduct what had happened from that. He used his free arm and placed it on Fai's shoulder under the pretense that he was using it to stabilize the magician; just keeping him from moving. But Fai was comforted at the same time.
"I'm sorry," Kurogane said. "I've never had a brother, not to mention a twin. How old were you?"
"Just a handful of years," Fai said. "But he wouldn't have fallen if I hadn't… It's all my fault." Fai openly sobbed into Kurogane's shirt.
"If you're this beat up about it then you obviously didn't do it on purpose," Kurogane said. "Look." He pushed Fai's shoulder, making him sit up and look at him. "It doesn't matter to me what the hell you did in your past. You don't seem like a bad person, and the kid, fur ball, and the princess all trust you. The only thing that can make us think badly of you is if you break that trust."
"But Big Puppy doesn't trust me?" Fai asked, plastering that fake smile on his face again. Kurogane drew his hand back and slapped Fai across the face. Fai gasped and blinked at him, the smile vanishing.
"Not when you plaster that sick smile on your face," Kurogane said. "Don't think you're fooling these eyes when you do that. I've yet to see a real smile on your features since we've met. If you're not happy, you don't have to pretend to be. It's all right to be sad or angry or excited. We all know everything's not perfect, and we don't need you here pretending you don't have a care in any world."
"Why?" Fai whispered, staring intently into Kurogane's eyes. Kurogane was slightly unnerved by this. "Why the hell do you even give a damn?"
Before Kurogane knew what was going on, Fai raised a hand and held up two fingers. The ninja's vision went blurry for a moment, and he tried to shake it off. When he came back to his senses, he had forgotten what they had been talking about. He looked at Fai, confusion evident on his face.
Fai smiled and gingerly hopped down from the counter onto his good foot.
"Thanks for taking care of me, Big Puppy!" he said happily.
"Don't call me that," Kurogane said halfheartedly. They made their ways up to their respective rooms to settle in for the rest of the night. Kurogane went to sleep easily, but Fai laid in his bed and cried, hating that he had let Kurogane get so close. He'd had to wipe his memory of everything important he had said. If only he could have cleared his own memory. Kurogane's words echoed through his ears: If you're not happy, you don't have to pretend to be.