Well. I started writing this probably the day konnichipuu first posted the hilarious comic "Kuro - Underwear Model" (konnichipuu. deviantart. com/ art /Kuro- Underwear- Model- 208599060). But. Well. Writer's block, you know. Anyway, since it's her birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, I LOVE YOU!) I finished it for her. Enjoy the completely random, cracked-out story of how Kurogane became an underwear model. (Also, apologies if there actually is a clothing company called Patrick West. Hopefully I made it up.)

Bedroom Eyes

The first thing he heard, before he even opened his eyes, was an enormous whoosh of air as something whizzed over his head.

Great, he thought grumpily. Another fucking techie world.

He'd enjoyed himself more in Piffle than he'd let on. He liked working on those racers, learning about mechanics and combustible engines and that sort of thing. Plus he'd gotten a pretty sweet replacement arm from them. And he'd gotten to fuck Fai—which had been good, but not as good as now, it was so different now, no barriers no lies just his body and his sweat and his mewling cries and it was fantasticon the hood of his racer. Overall, a good experience.

But he reserved the right to be grumpy about things, so he was very sure he wasn't going to like this world. It sounded like Mokona had dropped them in the middle of the damn street, although since the cars were flying overhead they probably wouldn't be run over.

"Oooooo," he heard Fai croon happily.

Great. If the idiot mage liked it, he was definitely going to hate it.

He opened his eyes, and immediately was assaulted by colour and light. "Agh!" he shouted, throwing his arm over his face. "What in—"

"It's beautiful!" Fai cried out.

"It's really something," Syaoran said in complete non-commitment.

He carefully looked, keeping his eyes squinted this time. It was dark outside, the sun gone down for the day, but there were so many neon lights and car headlamps flashing that it was hard to tell the difference. There were huge signboards mounted on tall buildings, with videos running advertisements; some of them were holographic, with images hovering over the street so that you could look straight up and see them. There was some kind of thumping, pulsing music, heavy on the bass notes, coming from the open door of the nearest building's basement.

"Mokona, I think you set us down right in the middle of downtown," Syaoran said, standing up and making a slow pivot to look around them.

"That's where the fun is!" the pork bun declared, hopping up to sit on Syaoran's shoulder. "Look, it's a club! Mokona wants to see what a club is like!"

"Absolutely not—" Kurogane started to say, but he was (very rudely) interrupted by the mage.

"We might as well. We have to figure out where we are, and find a place to stay. Do we have any money?"

"No, but we have some artifacts from the last world that we could probably trade," Syaoran said thoughtfully.

"Okay, let's try the club, then!"

"Yay! Mokona is totally excited!"

There was a six-foot-tall robot with a digital readout instead of a face, positioned in front of the open door. "Name?" it asked in a voice that was probably supposed to sound like a sexy woman. Sounded like a damn robot to him.

"Uh, er," Syaoran fumbled, surprised.

"Fai D. Flourite," the idiot mage told the robot cheerfully.

The face-screen flashed a riot of bright colours.

"Fai D. Flourite is not on the list," it informed them gravely.

Mokona bounced right onto the thing's head. "Please let us in!"

"Name?" it asked.

"Mokona Modoki!"

More flashing. "Mokona Modoki is not on the list."

"Of course we're not on the stupid list," Kurogane growled, stepping forward. "We just got here!"

The thing flashed its screen at him impassively. "Name?"

"Fuck you, robot."

"Fa Kyou Robot is not on the list."

Kurogane nearly drew his sword and drove it through the digital face, but Fai put a hand on his arm.

"Can't be helped, right, Kuro-tan?" he said pleasantly. "We'll just have to go somewhere else."

He and Syaoran turned to escort a dejected Mokona back up the stairs, but Kurogane didn't move.

"Kurogane-san, what is it?" Syaoran asked.

There were three girls exiting the club, skirting around the robot, giggling madly about something. They were dressed skimpily and had too much glitter on their bare skin, but it was the petite one with long dark hair that caught his attention—why was she here, why was she in every damn computer-tech world, did she secretly want to be a computer programmer or something?—and concerned him now. What was with that miniskirt and that backless blouse? Was she trying to piss him off or something?

"Can we help you?" asked one of her companions in a cool voice.

"No," he muttered, turning to go.

"Wait!" she called out as he started up the stairs. He immediately turned back. "It's okay, girls, I've got this," she said confidently, and dragged him up the stairs to join his companions. "I just have to ask: where did you boys get your clothes? I love the style!"

They were wearing their clothes from Clow, which would be hard to explain if this was any other woman. But he had no doubt she'd take the news gracefully. Gracefulness was sort of her hallmark characteristic (and apparently according to her he was supposed to learn something from her about it).

"We didn't get them here," he said.

"You're from out of town?"

"From another world," he said bluntly.

"Oh," she said, looking shocked, her eyes going wide and her ever-present smile sort of frozen. But then she grinned in delight. "Oh, how amazing! How did you get here? When did you arrive? Does this happen often? What's your name?"

"Kurogane," he answered, answering the easiest of the questions first.

"And you're Tomoyo-san, aren't you?" Fai said, bowing over her hand like some kind of gentleman.

"How did you know?" she giggled.

"We've met you before."

"You have?"

"Well, not you, you."

It took a good ten minutes to explain how they traveled and the different versions they'd met of her, but only about ten seconds for her to decide to invite them back to her place so they'd have somewhere to sleep. Fai immediately declared that it was going to be a sleepover because he was apparently still clinging to this fantasy that Kurogane would continue to tolerate him if he turned into an adolescent girl.

"Are you sure?" Syaoran asked fruitlessly. Being the polite member of their party and therefore reluctant about inconveniencing people, it was Syaoran that Tomoyo grabbed by the arm and began dragging down the street.

"Of course I'm sure!" she declared happily. "We've already met many times, haven't we? We're practically best friends!"

Fai skipped along like the idiot he was—but wasn't it beautiful, to see him so happy, because now he just was happy because he wanted to be and it wasn't a blindingly shiny cover placed over a bleeding and broken heart—and Kurogane walked behind them. His eyes darted everywhere, cautious and suspicious. He hated worlds like this. There was too much to look at, to try to keep track of, to judge for possible danger to his companions. He couldn't wait to get inside.

Tomoyo gestured them all into a cab that hovered just off the ground. Kurogane paid attention to the address she gave the driver, because you never knew—oh fuck there was no driver this thing was automated and they were all going to crash into something and die

"We can do a manual override if anything were to go wrong," Tomoyo said, patting his knee.

How the hell did she know what he was thinking? But Fai was looking at him with laughter in his eyes, so obviously he knew, too. Kurogane was not that obvious so to hell with both of them. He spent the ride to Tomoyo's 15th story flat in grumpy silence, not even impressed that there was a docking balcony for flying vehicles. He nearly fell through the door and breathed a sigh of relief when he heard her slide it shut with a whoosh of changing air pressure, shutting out the noise and light.

"I am home!" Tomoyo called out, loudly and for some reason with careful enunciation.

A strobing red light near the door shut itself off.

"Disabling the security alarms," Tomoyo explained. "Are you boys hungry? I've got all the extra bedding in the closet just there, so I'll get you something while you're getting a bed ready."

"You don't have to do that," Syaoran said immediately, and Kurogane wanted to smack the kid. They were all starving, and she was offering to make food, and in these situations you were just supposed to say thanks for fuck's sake. Luckily, Tomoyo just laughed and waved off his protest.

"It's no trouble at all! What would you like?"

"Uh, whatever you feel like making," Syaoran said nervously.

Fai would have answered, but Kurogane had wrapped an arm around him and covered Fai's mouth with his hand. The man technically didn't even need to eat, and he'd probably just request something disgusting to piss Kurogane off.

"Kuro-daddy wants a big glass of milk!" the pork bun was squealing, bouncing all over the place like the idiot she was. Kurogane couldn't hit her while he was restraining Fai, so he just had to pretend he couldn't hear her.

"Well, it is getting late," Tomoyo said, glancing at a large digital panel in the middle of her kitchen, which was all gleaming chrome and white lacquer and looked like it had never been used. "I guess it'll just be whatever they have available."

She touched the digital panel, looking like she was pushing buttons even though it was a flat surface. Kurogane moved closer and saw that the whole thing was a touch screen device. She waited a moment, pushed it again, and then stood back.

"Shouldn't be a moment, boys. Would any of you like to shower before you sleep tonight? I'll get some towels."

Fai pouted at Kurogane when she left the room, having broken free of his grip. "I wasn't going to say anything."

"Like hell you weren't." Kurogane might have been able to find a better comeback, but he was a little distracted. Having the mage's body pressed up against him like that—there was only one big open room, dammit the kid was going to be sleeping with them this time so there was no way, he'd just have to— well, there was a shower— don't even think about it just think about food and sleep and maybe you'll get the opportunity tomorrow or something—

A weird boop noise came out of the touch screen thing, and then the entire panel slid up two feet and revealed a large tray with a metal cover over the top. Fai curiously went into the kitchen and pulled it out. A green light flashed several times, and Fai squinted at it.

"Kuro-rinta, can you read this?"

Kurogane came over, looked at the lettering beside the green light, and snorted. He tapped the word "CLOSE" and the light shut off, the panel sliding back down into place.

"Oh," Fai grinned, and then pulled the cover off the tray. "Oh, food," he said in surprise. He turned and squinted at the panel. "This makes food?"

"Mokona is hungry! Tell it to make more!"

"You idiots," Kurogane snorted. "That got sent up from a kitchen somewhere."

"I like this world," Fai said happily, and carried the tray over to the table in the corner. Syaoran had already found plates in a cupboard somewhere and put four of them on the table.

Tomoyo came back with towels. "Oh, good, it's here," she said happily. "I never eat before I go out with the girls, so I'm starving."

While they were eating, Tomoyo kept asking questions about their journey. Unfortunately, she seemed more interested in why they were making it than where they'd been to, but Fai had honed his ability to deflect questions into a sharp skill so they just let him handle it. It led to a lot of teasing of Kurogane but that was better than letting her accidentally tromp all over the kid's feelings—really all the teasing made it so damn obvious what he and Fai were to each other but maybe he didn't care about that anymore because despite all the times along the way that he'd claimed Fai as his there were still all these small moments in which Fai quietly declared that Kurogane was also his, and other people should see it and know it.

While they were cleaning up, Tomoyo pointed to the loft area that they could see jutting above the room they were going to sleep in. "That's my room up there," she explained. "I have to do some work tonight, so I hope you boys won't mind if I have the light on up there for a while?"

It was obvious that she usually worked down here. Over against one wall, there was a huge board covered in photographs, and a shelf full of large notebooks, and a table spread out with a bunch of papers and things, and a desk with more papers, more notebooks, and a bunch of computer equipment.

"We aren't at all ready to sleep yet," Fai said in that way he had, that pleasant way that nobody could argue with, damn the bastard for having that ability, "so why don't you just work down here like you usually do?"

"Oh, no, I can't do that," Tomoyo started to say, but Fai was already patting her hand and how did he get away with stuff like that anyway?

"Of course you can! You can't work if you don't feel comfortable, so you should do your work in the place that's best for you. We're already enough of an imposition, so don't worry your pretty little head about us. If we get tired, we'll sleep. We've certainly slept through worse things than a beautiful girl leaving a lamp on."

She really was more beautiful when she was smiling like this. Kurogane had never given his Princess much reason to smile around him, so he hadn't noticed until he began to meet these other versions of her. If—when—they went home, he'd make sure the Princess smiled like this techie Tomoyo did.

"If you're sure," she said.

Syaoran was the one who insisted that they were sure, and hurried off to take the first shower so she couldn't argue anymore. Kurogane and Fai set up the futon and the blankets she had stowed away in the closet, letting her work. She had a little plastic bud she plugged into each ear, and she touched something on her computer screen, and then she started humming music as she shuffled through the things on her desk.

Syaoran emerged, wearing a very simple set of clothes that must have been from several worlds ago. "Shower's free," he announced.

"Whee! I'll shower next!" Fai declared, jumping up. "Mokona, do you have anything I can sleep in?"

Mokona, who'd been bouncing around getting in the way, stopped and opened her mouth wide. A soft pair of pants from one of the worlds they'd visited and a sleeveless shirt from another world.

"Will that work?"

"That's perfect," Fai smiled, rubbing her head.

"Mokona has something for Kurogane, too!"

Kurogane was never sure he wanted to wear something after the pork bun vomited it onto the floor, but he just crossed his arms and waited. Mokona opened her mouth and out shot— a pink nightie?

"What the hell, pork bun! That's Sakura's! Why do you even have that?"

"Wheee!" the idiot creature shrieked as she bounced away from his swinging fist. "Fai-mommy! Daddy's trying to hit Mokona!"

Fai laughed and picked her up. "There, there," he crooned. "Kuro-chi's a little tired and cranky, isn't he? Maybe you'd better find him something else to sleep in."

Mokona pouted for a second, but eventually puked up a tunic from that world with the metal armour, and a pair of leggings—which were meant to be worn under something, damn that little ball of fluff—

"Okay, that'll do!" Fai said cheerfully, setting her aside.

Kurogane growled.

"I'll just be in the shower," Fai said, blue eyes turning to him and— this is not fair he did that on purpose that skinny bastard—

"Mokona is very sleepy!" the pork bun declared. "Mokona will sleep with Syaoran tonight."

"All right," the kid agreed, smiling at her and letting her slip under the blanket he was sitting on top of.

Kurogane just sat down and stared moodily at the closed bathroom door. Idiot. Bastard. Tease.

"You know," Tomoyo spoke up all of a sudden, causing them to turn and look at her and see the mischievous sparkle in her eyes. "I can hear what you're thinking from here."


"It's not like anybody doesn't know," she said with a grin.

"What are you talking about?"

"The shower is plenty big enough for two."

"You— what?" Kurogane spluttered, and felt his face flare into a heat that was matched only by the red creeping over Syaoran's face.

"Go on," she said, making a shooing gesture with her hands. "I have an extra pair of ear phones for Syaoran. He was inviting you, it would be rude not to go."

Kurogane marched out of the room with indignation, roaring about perverted princesses and virginal boys, and it was only because the bathroom was the only other room in the flat that he marched his indignation in there. Of course, since Fai was waiting for him, indignation quickly took a backseat to burning lust and worshipful awe and yes yes please right there in the midst of steam and water and slick heat and his mouth biting down on the meat of Fai's shoulder to keep from crying out.

They emerged, sated and relatively unashamed, to find that Tomoyo had turned her chair away from the desk to talk to Syaoran, who was scrubbing at his cheek as though blotting away tears.

"Hey," Kurogane said, striding forward. "I thought you had to work, Princess. Uh, I mean—"

"It's okay," Syaoran said, giving him a rueful smile. "I'm fine."

"Whatever," Kurogane said crossly. What, did they think he was just going to let someone bully the kid into crying? Even if someone was Tomoyo? The kid had cried enough, dammit. (Honestly, Kurogane could barely even remember if he was traveling with the kid he'd started out with, or not. But who cared, both of them had cried enough, already.)

"I can't seem to focus anyway," Tomoyo said, giving him the most weak-ass smile he'd ever seen.

"What's wrong?" he asked immediately, before remembering that he didn't serve this Tomoyo, and his skills as a swordsman were not likely to solve any of her problems.

"Oh, it's just . . . This shoot is huge, it's my first time working for a major company, and I can't— I have to pick one of these models. I have at least four dozen photo portfolios to look through! I'm supposed to decide on one person out of all these!"

"Why are you deciding?" Syaoran asked curiously. "Doesn't the company usually do that?"

"Well yes, but they don't want to pay for a celebrity this time, and the director said he doesn't have time to find a random up-and-comer like that, so I sort of . . . volunteered," she muttered miserably. "Even though I don't know what I'm looking for."

"Can I help?" Fai asked politely. "I've got an eye for beauty," he added with a wink.

"Sure," she said, a little giggle eclipsing her upset expression.

Kurogane rolled his eyes and flopped down on the futon, acting as usual despite the feeling that waves of approval for Fai were probably visibly radiating from him. He tuned them out, for the most part, turning onto his side and presenting them with his back and trying to sleep. He did doze off after a few minutes, listening to them murmuring and giggling— it was a fucking sleepover with fucking schoolgirls, just like the mage had said— and wondering what kind of photo shoot this was.

"Ugh!" Fai suddenly declared, rousing Kurogane to alertness again. "I'm sorry."

"It's me that's hopeless," she sighed. "I mean, I appreciate the male form in an aesthetic sense, of course, but it doesn't really do anything for me, so . . ."

"I'm sorry, I really thought—it's just that I look at perfection every day, you know? So none of them look that good to me."

"You know, you're right," Tomoyo said thoughtfully.

Kurogane suddenly became aware that their eyes were on him. He could feel them burning holes into his back—or no. Wait. Burning holes . . .

"What the fuck are you looking at?" he grunted, still not moving.

"You really have the most perfect butt I've ever seen, Kurogane-san," Tomoyo said cheerfully.

He shot up off the futon, pulling the hem of the tunic down over his legs. "What?"

"She'd like to photograph your ass, Kuro-pu."

He didn't even have words. He just stared at them.

Kurogane stomped out of the bathroom, clutching his robe as tightly around himself as possible.

"Hi," squeaked a girl with a clipboard, ducking away from his glare and hiding behind the man she was walking with.

"Hey, there, big guy," the man said admiringly, hangers full of clothes dangling from each hand. "You look nice and strong, you really should help me carry these."

"Fuck off," Kurogane muttered.

"Not very nice," the man pouted.

He'd always wondered, and now he knew for sure: it was definitely only cute when the mage did it.

"Can we help you?" the girl said nervously, perhaps because he was just standing there glaring down the hallway.

"Can you get me the hell out of here?"

"Uh, why are you here?" the man asked curiously.

" . . . I have no idea," Kurogane sighed.

He didn't. He really, really didn't. Why had he agreed to this shit? There had been the Princess, getting all excitable and happy and getting all crushed when he said no, and this was important to her, the most important thing in her career . . . And if Kurogane agreed, the mage had promised that as soon as they had a room of their own again, he'd kick the kid out and put on the furisode—plus he'd promised some kind of divine retribution if Kurogane didn't.

Not crushing Tomoyo's dreams and getting to see Fai in the furisode was a lot of motivation. But was it really enough, when one was standing in a cold hallway wearing nothing but a robe and a pair of underwear? They did have to do something to pay Tomoyo for their keep, after all. And it had been pointed out to Kurogane quite logically that he'd be long gone before he saw the results of the photo shoot, anyway. But the mage could take logic and shove it right where Kurogane had been before. He wasn't the one who had to do this. In fact, Kurogane hadn't seen Fai all day. If that wasn't suspicious, he didn't know what was.

"There you are," said yet another nameless person Kurogane didn't care about, although this one had the distinction of hurrying down the hall with Syaoran beside her. "Everybody's been looking for you."

"They have? Who is he?" the man with the clothes hangers asked with interest.

"He's the model for the Patrick West shoot," the woman said, rolling her eyes and grabbing hold of his arm. The robe slipped, and Kurogane yelped, pulling himself free of her and readjusting it.

"Oh my god, he's new," the man said wistfully.

"Isn't he cute?" the girl with the clipboard sighed. "He's blushing."

"It's that new photographer, right? That cute little girl with the perky boobs?"

Syaoran immediately latched onto the arm that Kurogane had removed the woman from, while the strangers went white as ghosts. "Come on, let's go," he said in a rush.

"Must— kill—" Kurogane choked.

"You're late for the shoot," Syaoran said pleadingly.

"Who's the stylist today?" the man called out as they hurried him down the hall.

"Nobody you know!" the woman called back. "This guy brought his own stylist!"

"I did?" Kurogane asked in bewilderment, and cut a glare at Syaoran. Syaoran blushed and looked at the floor. "What?"

"Nothing. It's um, come on. We're behind schedule and they still have to do . . . Things . . ."

"Take the robe off, they can hardly photograph you that way," the woman snapped as she led him through the door into the studio, and she reached out and yanked the slippery piece of fabric right off him.

"It'll be okay," Syaoran said immediately, frantically patting his arm.

Then he ran across the room to escape.

Kurogane kept his back to the room and just breathed for a minute. He was naked. He. Was. Naked. In front of Tomoyo.

"Oh my god, I knew they'd be fantastic on you!" the girl in question squealed, coming right up to him. "You have the most unbelievable thighs, you know—your muscles are so long and lean. And the underwear is the perfect type, it really is. They hug your butt like they were made for you!"

Kurogane heard a gargling noise coming from somewhere. He wasn't sure where. Definitely not him, because he'd already asphyxiated and died.

"We have to get you ready, we don't have all day," Tomoyo chided him, turning away with a hearty slap to his shoulder. "Fai-chan!" she called out.

"Coming!" came a happy reply.

Kurogane reluctantly turned around. "Oh fuck me," he muttered. Did the mage have to look so good in that outfit? And what was with the stupid tool belt? All in black and white, it showed off all those slender muscles of his, those boots making his legs look even longer than they were, and it set off the gold of his hair and made his already unnatural eyes so blue they were popping right out of his face and why weren't they photographing Fai because Fai was so unbelievably beautiful Kurogane still wasn't sure how he'd ended up with him—

"What are you doing?" he roared when Fai viciously attacked his head.

"I'm your stylist," Fai grinned.

"Since when are you anybody's stylist?" Kurogane growled. "This is supposed to be a goddamn professional photo shoot, not you playing around with a damn hairbrush."

Fai gave him a more serious look. "Neither of us would be very happy if someone else was touching you, would we?"

Kurogane swallowed down his impatience and wished no one was watching so he could kiss him.

"Besides, don't you trust me?" Fai purred. "If anyone knows how to make you look better than you already do, it's me."

Kurogane submitted after that. For a second. Then he fought back against the horrors Fai was trying to inflict on him.

"Oil? What for?"

"Ow, watch what you're doing, you're going to slice open a damn artery with that!"

"No, mage! I've fucking had it with Mr. Comb!"

Flustered, twitching with the desire to either punch Fai, fuck him on the spot, or both, and completely looking like an idiot with oiled abs in a pair of underwear six times too tight, Kurogane turned and glared at Tomoyo.

"Well? Take the fucking picture already!"

Tomoyo was laughing hysterically, but when she realized he was actually ready, she became all business. She started directing everyone around, and Kurogane was satisfied that she was still the same confident Princess he knew. The lights had to be just so, and the guy holding the thing had to move a few steps to the left, and why was the fan in her shot and why was there a fan to begin with? It wasn't like he had hair that was blowing around!

Everyone scurried around, doing her bidding, and finally she picked up the damn camera and started snapping shots of him. In his underwear. And with his legs fucking shaved because that idiot mage said he had to. With about twenty people staring at his ass.

He could tell Tomoyo was frustrated, but he couldn't tell why. He was doing his job, wasn't he? He was standing and looking over his shoulder, and he was sitting on the stupid chair, just like she said. Well, the woman who'd grabbed him in the hallway kept telling her stuff, and Tomoyo kept saying, "maybe" and then telling Kurogane to try it. It was hot in here, and this was stupid. He couldn't stand this, especially when the Princess was getting visibly to the point of tears.

"Where's the stupid pork bun?" he muttered. "Can't we just go?"

Fai darted into the shot, the idiot, and leaned in close. "It's about sex, Kuro-tan," he whispered. "Sex sells, you see."


"So give me your best bedroom eyes," he said with a grin. "That should do it."

Kurogane really did try. Fai was standing right over Tomoyo's shoulder, and he really wanted to get out of here, so he tried. But how was he supposed to give Fai a sexy look when there were all these other people here?

"Well, darling," the woman began, standing beside Tomoyo, "we haven't tried having him lay on the—"

"OUT!" Tomoyo suddenly shouted, letting go of the camera and gesturing with both hands. "Everyone, and I mean everyone, out of this room! I'm not kidding, let's go! The lights are exactly where I want them and he doesn't need any more makeup! Every single one of you, OUT!"

They all scrambled away, no doubt terrified because they'd never heard her raise her voice before. Kurogane hadn't either, but he was actually sort of proud of her. She grabbed Fai's arm when he was walking past her, though.

"Not you, honey. I need you."

Fai stayed. Syaoran was the last one out, staying behind to make sure everyone else left, and then he shut the door behind them all. Kurogane let out a deep breath.

"Put the robe back on for a minute, okay?" she said kindly. "And sit down and relax. Let's calm down and then we'll try it again."

Kurogane was very, very happy to put the robe back on. He sat down in the chair. Fai came over and blotted some of the sweat off his forehead. Kurogane glared at him.

"This is your fault."

Fai leaned down and kissed him. "Sorry. You do look fabulous, though."

Kurogane found a crooked smile quirking his mouth. "Yeah?"

"It's like I said: your perfect ass is all mine. We are really going to have to keep these," he said, hooking a finger in the waistband of the underwear and tugging at them a bit. "I like these."

Kurogane allowed him to spread the robe open and run his hands over his chest. They came away oily, but he was the one who'd slathered the oil on to begin with, so whatever. Fai gave him a deep kiss that went a long way toward calming him down. He pulled back much too soon for Kurogane's liking, but then the possibility sprang into mind of what the photo would look like if Fai kept going. Not good. So Kurogane let him go.

"Fai," Tomoyo said softly, her voice sounding awestruck. "That lamp right at your elbow. Can you move it down—yes. Just where I'm pointing. Thank you. Now move back about four feet. Okay. Flirt with your boyfriend, please."

There was a giddy light in Fai's eyes, and Kurogane was reminded that he no longer cared about all these indignities and all the stupid shit he had to go through, because the mage was not only safe, but happy, and he was never more attractive and Kurogane had never loved him more. He was just so damn fulfilled and it was pathetic and soppy and he didn't care.

"I see London," Fai said thoughtfully, wearing a completely serious expression. "I see France. I see Kuro-tan's—"

He was pushing himself up out of the chair before he thought about how it would ruin Tomoyo's shot. "MAGE!"


A holographic advertisment was stretching over the busiest street in the city. The man was tall and dark, all strong jaw and prominent collarbone. His skin was gleaming in the low light coming from one side, his abs flexing and his arms spread wide as he was rising out of a chair, his dark silky robe falling open to reveal a pair of clinging black boxer briefs. His face was full of lust and anger, his red eyes cutting just to the right of the camera, promising things both wicked and divine.

The telephone at the office of Patrick West Lmtd. was ringing off the hook.

Kurogane groaned and tried to hide his face, despite the fact that he was being dragged down the street by several people.

"I can't believe this," Kurogane muttered. "How are we even still here? I thought we couldn't stay any place too long."

"Enjoy your fame and fortune while it lasts, sweetie," Tomoyo said happily, pulling him along.

"You can have my fame and fortune. Seriously. The biggest holograph in the middle of the whole damn city?"

"We're here, we're here!" Mokona cried out happily, bouncing down the stairs. They were greeted by the six-foot-tall robot with the arms that clearly disguised flamethrowers, at the very least.

"Name?" the thing asked imperiously.

With a nudge from Fai, he answered. "Kurogane of Suwa," he muttered.

The digital readout flashed several times, and then lit up completely, blinding him.

"What the fuck?"

"I've heard of you," the robot purred at him. "Kurogane of Suwa, welcome to Club Midnight. Your party is also welcome to join you."

The thumping bass washed over him, and the first person inside the door made a very unpleasant squealing sound.

"Oh my god, it's him, it's that model with the legs."

"Pork bun," Kurogane whispered, closing his eyes. "Just take us to the next world. Please?"