Notes: Over on livejournal's clampkink meme, several people requested Fai & Kurogane resettling Suwa. I sort of stole this idea and turned it into a horribly self-indulgent sappy kidfic, because that is how I roll. Set post-series.
For Mikkeneko, UnexpectedInspiration and Bottan, who all provided either inspiration or feedback during the writing process.
these days have shown
It is late morning when the peddler wakes him up, not that he'd gotten much sleep. He's wedged in the back of the cart, in between the household goods, his bag tucked under his head and his sword crammed lengthwise, clutched in a tight fist even in sleep. His father will never forgive him if he lost it.
They are stopped at a fork in the main road, the signposts pointing out the numerous directions he can travel in. He doesn't need them; he knows this territory, he grew up here, but after he pays the peddler for the ride he brushes his fingers lightly over the engraving on the sign pointed down the fork: Suwa village. He's very close, now.
He is grateful for the time of his arrival: he hadn't planned it, but he won't arrive until midway through the afternoon and his father will be out. He can make his case to the magician who has always been biased toward him, and count on an ally when his father finds out he is back home. Emboldened by this he slings his family sword across his back and sets off down the path, picking a wild apple from a tree as he goes.
Suwa village itself is almost the same as he remembers, and the people who see him greet him with excitement. His return is big news in this sleepy little province; he was gone a whole year, a year spent in servitude to the Tsukuyomi herself, mixing with the lords and ladies of Shirasagi.
"I bet you were the best guard she had," one man says happily and he grins back.
"My father would kill me if I wasn't," he replies, and they laugh as though he weren't being halfway honest. "How have my parents been while I've been gone?"
This draws a variety of responses from the villagers, variants on the theme of "your father's been fierce and brave, the witch he married has been useful but strange". He just smiles. This is normal.
"Did you show them your Suwa steel?" asks the blacksmith, gesturing at his sword, and he nods. It was made for his father out of the finest steel and it is a work of art; when he was given it to take to court he thought he would die of pride.
"Lord Suwa's son is back!" the children yell, dancing around him and urging him to play. He grabs them and hefts them by way of greeting, holding a little girl upside down. He is seventeen now, and the princess' guard, too old for games, so he play wrestles with them the way his father and the other adults had done with him when he was little, and they tag at his heels all the way to the gate of the Suwa home itself.
He avoids the practice yard and instead sneaks in from the side, through the vegetable garden. This too has changed; he sees plants here he doesn't recognize, labeled in the strange looping script of the village's mage. The house seems different, too, smaller somehow, but it smells familiar: woodsmoke and pine and magic, old scents, safe scents. He pulls his boots off and pauses just inside the door, breathing it in.
Kyoto's court is great and majestic, but Suwa will always be home.
He keeps his sword on him as he makes his way as quietly as he can, barefoot, through the house. The door to the shrine is ajar and he pokes his head in, then smiles when he sees the keeper of the house kneeling before it, back to him, lighting incense with practiced hands and wearing an old yukata of his father's. It's black, as are all his father's things, and way too big for the slim figure; it slips almost off one shoulder.
"I'm home," he says, and the kneeling figure pauses and then turns, shooting him a gentle smile by way of greeting, eyes warm and welcoming despite the unnerving colours.
"Welcome back, Ryuuichi," says Fai.
"We're so happy you're resettling Suwa," said the Majordomo, unrolling scrolls across the table with little regard for the things already on it. Fai had to make a grab and catch one of the delicate cups before something could happen to it. "Obviously we will be looking at building from scratch, for structural integrity. I have here some notes from some of Kyoto's finest craftsmen you should see."
Kurogane bent over the scrolls, his eyebrows drawing together, and Fai leaned back from the kotatsu, sipping at his tea. This was a closed world to him, numbers and building costs, and although he spoke the language now their words slipped past him nonetheless. Kurogane kept asking him his opinion, and he appreciated what the man was trying to do - to involve him, to make it their home instead of his - he was content with either. He was happy enough to go where Kurogane went.
He had suspected that when Kurogane asked him to return to Nihon the ninja had not meant to court, although they had spent four long years here in Shirasagi, learning how to adapt to a home that would not vanish under their feet. Four years before Kurogane's restlessness led to a conversation with Tomoyo about the fate of Suwa province; four years leading up to this, Kurogane's chance at last to return home for real.
The majordomo was still speaking. "Of course," he said, "there is the topic of your wife," and suddenly Fai was very much paying attention.
"No," Kurogane said flatly.
"I am not proposing you end your relationship with our esteemed visitor," the majordomo replied politely. Neither of them tried to keep it a secret. Fai wore furisodes in public, and they shared sleeping quarters. "It is not uncommon for such to go on during a marriage. Your lady wife will know this going into it. You will need an heir, and -"
"No," said Fai, quietly but firmly. He sipped his tea and Kurogane smirked at him from across the table. The majordomo pursed his lips, but Fai just watched him, impassive. He could bend on this, he will never bend on this, and he was making that clear.
"... We shall, I think, discuss the issue of an heir later," said the man eventually, tucking his list underneath the building plans. Fai smiled his victory, no doubt short-lived as it was.
"It won't go away, you know," he said later that night, and Kurogane bared his teeth at him in annoyance. Fai bent down, licking at some of the sweat from his lover's exposed throat.
"You really think now is the time for this?" Kurogane asked, his oversized hands settling on Fai's skin, one on his ass and the other on his back. Kurogane's thighs were heavy over his shoulders and Fai turned and pressed his nose to the skin there, milky and soft, the only part of Kurogane that was.
Fai smiled at him, a wolverine smile all glee and sharpness, and Kurogane growled. "Perhaps not," he said, and then there was sweat and skin and the blissful sensation of seeing a side of Kurogane nobody else ever would.
The topic didn't go away, however, and he was still thinking about it after their lovemaking had ended, lying on his belly sticky and sated in their futon, with Kurogane's arm heavy over his back and his snores stirring his hair. He turned his face against the pillow and eyed Kurogane in the moonlight, so still one might almost mistake him for dead were it not for his rattling snores. They were something Fai treasured; Kurogane only snored when he was truly relaxed, and Fai loved knowing he's caused them.
He wondered if Kurogane wanted kids, if he ever had. Fai found himself missing Syaoran and Sakura all the more nowadays; it had been years since he saw them last outside of his dreams.
Kurogane would need an heir, but Fai would never be the other man, the dirty little secret. They had both bled and sweated and lost too much for their relationship to be reduced to a illegitimate thing conducted behind some stranger's back. Perhaps adoption will suffice, or a bastard child, if Kurogane could be persuaded to have a hand in its conception. He would have to remember to ask Tomoyo in the morning.
Either way, he wouldn't be leaving Kurogane's side.
For the first time in his life, Kurogane found himself cursing his own romantic skills as he stomped down to the practice ground. He had been too busy learning to kill to learn how to woo women, which had suited him fine - still suited him fine, actually - but did mean he didn't know that many women.
Tomoyo had said his heir would have to be of his blood to work for the other noblemen in court, since his house had never been particularly powerful or influential. Suwa had always kept to itself, training strong warriors and keeping out of its more powerful neighbours' wars; but the land it had been built on would be quite valuable once the rubble was cleared and people began to settle there again, planting crops and raising livestock. This was distinctly a problem.
He could always try to hire a woman for this purpose, but he was too aware every bit of gold he gave her would be coming out of the money he needed to purchase wood and steel and coal and sand and manpower for his home. A wife was out of the question; he had no interest in lying or pretending he cared about anyone other than Fai, and he did not particularly want to subject a noblewoman to a life trapped in an unfulfilling marriage and know he was responsible for it, not when he remembered what it had been to grow up with parents who loved each other.
This left his female friends, and here was where his utter lack of interest in anything but killing had left him: just three women in his life, two of them royal. The third was out in the yard practicing throwing shuriken at a sack of coloured sand, but she looked up when she saw him approach.
"Well," Souma said. "What's with the intimidating look?"
Kurogane made an effort to unclench his jaw and relax his scowl, but his face rebelled. "I need to ask you something," he said.
Souma raised an eyebrow, but jerked her head over at the bench at the end of the practice yard. Two thin adolescents were sitting on it, caressing their swords, but they scattered as soon as Kurogane marched over. "So?" she said, taking a seat. "What is it?"
She patted the bench beside her, but Kurogane did not take her up on the offer, pacing like a caged animal, his hands balling up into fists. "You've heard I'm going back to Suwa," he barked.
"Yeah," she said. "It won't be the same without you. I might get through a whole day without hearing someone bellow 'stop talking, idiot mage!' in a voice loud enough to be heard in China."
"Well, he is an idiot," Kurogane said, and then realizing he was getting sidetracked. "Anyway -"
"Or the constant sex," she said. "You must be using fantastic oils, any other man with the sex life you two have would be worrying about the ridiculous chafing of his dick by now."
"What? What do you mean - that is," Kurogane said, forcing himself to calm down. Souma was smiling at him with teasing in her eyes, and he reminded himself bitterly that she had been Kendappa's lover for years now and thus could mock him all day. He cleared his throat. "I have a problem -"
"Or how you have no idea how to, you know, close the damn door," she continued. "You remember that time you were screwing him in the showers and I came in with the recruits? You have the stupidest orgasm face I've ever seen."
"Are you finished," Kurogane said through gritted teeth.
"Yes, I think so," she said. "You'll notice my finishing face doesn't look like yours. Seriously, last time I saw someone make a face like that he'd been hit on the head with a rock. Anyway, you were saying?" She fixed him with an innocent expression, and he folded his arms over his chest and glared at her.
"I'm going back to Suwa," he said tightly. "And I needed to ask you to consider doing a favor for me."
"Sure," she said. "Depending on the favor. What do you need? A body hidden?"
"No," he said, scowling.
"Well, what then?" she said. "Do you need someone seduced? There's no way you could succeed at the last one."
"I could too," he protested, although he was fairly sure she was right. "No, I..." he hesitated, uncertainly, and then drew himself up and sucked in a breath. "Could you... Would you... fuck. Look, I wouldn't be asking you this. You're the last person I'd consider freely. But Kendappa and Tomoyo are definitely not available and you're the only one left, okay? We need to have sex," he said seriously. "For a kid."
"Wow, Kurogane," she said, after a pause. "Do you understand the meaning of the term 'lesbian'? Should I spell it out for you, maybe with shadow puppets?"
"Just because you're a lesbian doesn't mean your womb stops working!" he argued, and then paused. "Unless it does. Does it?"
Souma looked at him for several seconds, and said, "Yes. Yes it does. Instead, we grow teeth down there."
"Really?" he said, wide-eyed. He wouldn't put it past Kendappa, but Souma just looked at him and then buried her face in her hands.
"Your face," she said, muffled, and he realized she was laughing at him. "Oh gods, your face!"
"So you don't really have teeth down there?" he asked suspiciously, and her shoulders started shaking pretty violently.
It took her several minutes to calm down, which Kurogane took to mean she'd been fucking with him. Eventually she lifted her head from her hands, the kohl she wore around her eyes smudged where she'd laughed so hard she'd cried, and said, "your boyfriend already stopped by and told me you needed an heir. He had the sense to bring expensive sake. Teeth!" And she was off again.
I am going to kill him, Kurogane thought, seething. "If you already knew, why didn't you say so?" he demanded, and Souma wiped tears from her eyes.
"'cause it's fun watching you squirm," she said. "Why do you think he behaves the way he does toward you?"
"Tch!" Kurogane said, pacing again. "So yes or no?"
"I talked it over with Kendappa last night," she said. "You're lucky I like you, kiddo. Yes, I'll do it, but."
"But what," he said, eyeing her, and she gave him a slow smirk not all that different to Fai's.
"Two things," she said. "First thing requires a little bit of explaining. I love Kendappa, I'm devoted to her, and until now I never thought about having kids. Kurogane, you have to promise to look after the kid. Teach him or her how to defend themselves, how to mix with people - your boyfriend can help with that. Keep it safe. And then when it's older, send it here, as a guard. So I can meet it and get to know it myself."
Kurogane nodded, his throat working. "Yeah," he said. "Yeah, I can do that."
"Okay," she said, and smiled. "Second thing was Kendappa's idea," she said. "Suwa used to be famous for its wine, right? You need to resurrect Suwa's vineyards and send us a bunch of your first harvest for free."
"That's it?" Kurogane asked, mentally trying to estimate how much it would cost to repair the scorched and overgrown vineyards. He'd have to get seeds and men to sort out the weeds and till the ground...
"There was no 'that's it' about Suwa wine," Souma said. "They said it was so strong it could knock over a horse."
"Tch," he said, but the corner of his mouth turned up. "You won't get any for a while, you know that, right?"
"We can wait," she told him amiably. "We're glad you're doing this, Kurogane. It will be good to have Suwa thriving again."
"Yeah," Kurogane said, turning to face her in full. She tilted her head up toward him and smiled, and he found his chest seizing at the thought of leaving this castle, these people. Suwa would be worth it, he knew that beyond a shadow of a doubt; his parents would be proud of him. And he would have Fai. But he realized now that the people he would be leaving behind were more than just master or comrades; they were friends.
"Thank you," he said, quietly, and her eyebrows lifted in surprise. "For - for everything."
Her smile said she already knew how he felt.
He hadn't expected Kurogane back for several hours, and so he had taken himself to their bed with a glass-shielded candle and a stack of projected expense reports, intending to read until he fell asleep. He didn't feel up to much else, and he knew there was no point trying to force himself to sleep; the futon felt far too big and far too cold, and there was a seething, roiling sensation in his belly that he was doing his best to ignore.
So when the door to their rooms slid open and Kurogane made his way inside before he'd even finished with the second report, Fai was surprised enough he dropped them; he sat up, studying his lover cautiously. Kurogane's shoulders were tense, and he didn't look at Fai or offer his usual greeting as he stripped off his plain black yukata, letting it slither down his body to pool on the floor. In the strange mixture of light offered by candle and by the moon outside he looked like some ethereal creature, his long muscles and taut skin making Fai's mouth water, and it took him great effort to force his thoughts away from the low sense of want pooling in his stomach.
"Kuro-sama," he said, keeping his voice light with some effort. "What are you doing back here so early? I thought you would be with Souma for -"
"Well, I'm not," Kurogane replied shortly. He didn't even pick out sleeping wear, which was unlike him; he came right to bed, sliding underneath the covers and stretching out on his side, his arms folded behind his head and his gaze fixed on the ceiling. His jaw was set.
Curiously Fai reached out and laid a hand on his lover's shoulder; when Kurogane didn't shake him off he eeled closer. Kurogane smelled like a stranger still, and it made him scowl, but he forced himself not to be jealous, tucking himself against Kurogane's chest. After a while the big man sighed, long and deep, and unhooked one of his arms from behind his head to run his fingers through Fai's hair.
"What happened?" Fai asked quietly, running his fingers idly over the muscles of Kurogane's chest, only to receive a grunt by way of response. He pushed himself up on one elbow, pressing a kiss lightly to the hollow between Kurogane's collarbones, and his lover sighed softly and tipped his head back. Fai didn't continue the kiss, though; he just subsided, watching Kurogane thoughtfully. "Did something go wrong?" he asked.
Kurogane snorted. "Yeah," he said, and he sounded angry.
"What was it?" Fai asked patiently.
Kurogane's throat worked for a few seconds, his jaw tensing and his Adam's apple bobbing, and then he said, "It doesn't matter. We didn't get it done. We're trying again tomorrow."
"... Oh," Fai said, tilting his head to one side, feeling the insidious drumbeat of his jealousy in his chest start up again. "Can I ask why?"
Another swallow. Kurogane's eyes darted to either side, unwilling to look at him; Fai sighed and leaned forward, taking Kurogane's chin in his palm and angling his lover's face down for a kiss. It was a gentle one, sweet and slow, but he could feel Kurogane's interest stirring under the covers, and -
Wait. How could he be getting hard again? Hadn't he just -?
"Oh," he said, as realization set in, and Kurogane scowled deeply and jerked his head away. There were spots of colour, faint but present on his cheeks.
"Yeah," he said. "Oh. I couldn't do it. Come on, get it over with."
"Get what over with?" Fai asked, confused, and Kurogane growled.
"The nicknames," he said. "Let me guess, Kuro-limp, Kuro-flop, Kuro -"
"You're obviously not any of those now," Fai pointed out, amused. He pressed his thigh gently against Kurogane's groin, and bit back a grin at his lover's grunt.
"Yeah, but it's you," Kurogane said. "I just. With Souma, I couldn't, I - It wasn't working, I tried - I thought about you and it wasn't."
"Oh," Fai breathed, and grinned so wide he thought his face might crack in half.
"... What?" Kurogane said, narrowing his eyes, and Fai bent his head and kissed him again, a long kiss that left both of them slightly breathless. No sooner had they recovered than Fai claimed his lover's mouth for another one, and then a third before Kurogane leaned away from him, looking confused. "What...?"
"You," Fai said happily. "In bed with a beautiful woman, and nothing happens, but five minutes of touch from me and, well." He moved his thigh slightly and grinned as Kurogane moaned.
"You were jealous," Kurogane said, and Fai paused and then nodded. Leave it to Kurogane to see things clearly even in this state. "You were jealous of Souma? Do you know what Amaterasu would do to me if I -"
"Yes, to both. I couldn't help myself," Fai replied truthfully, and ducked his head to kiss his lover again; a longer kiss this time, sweet and hungry and a little bit dirty. Kurogane sighed and turned his head, accepting the contact, and pulled his left arm out from under his head, running it lightly up Fai's bare arm.
"Idiot," he said, but fondly.
"Yeah," Fai said, grinning. He settled down comfortably against Kurogane's side, his heart thumping joyfully in his chest, his mind turning over the basic facts: he wants me he only wants me just me. "If you like I can fix you up something to help," he said. "I'm not as good at that sort of thing as the princess, but I don't think you want to bother her with this particular problem."
"Yeah," Kurogane said after a pause while he mulled it over. "I think that'll work."
"Good," Fai said, and shifted his thigh a little, smiling at Kurogane's stifled grunt. He slid his hand under the covers, placing it on Kurogane's chest and inching down. "Maybe I can help with this problem too," he said sweetly, and just when Kurogane's tense features began to relax, added, "After all, it's all I can do for poor Kuro-limp."
"Sometimes I hate you," Kurogane said, through gritted teeth, but he didn't push Fai away as his hand crept south and so Fai took it as a victory.