Fai was woken one otherwise normal spring morning by Ryuuichi jumping rather unceremoniously on his back, knocking the air out of his lungs and forcing a rather ungraceful woof! noise from his chest.
"Fai, Fai, dad said you had to get up!" Ryuuichi said, perched on his lower back and seemingly composed entirely of pointy bits. Fai blinked rapidly, fighting off disorientation and his instinctive reaction to fight back. The kid was heavy.
"Monkey, you're far too old to do that now," he said weakly instead, rolling over and spilling the boy off him. Ryuuichi was wearing a comfortable black hakama, and his red eyes were bright with mischief, his unruly dark hair sticking up every which way. At nine years old he looked rather too like a miniature version of his father.
"I am not!" the kid said indignantly, poking him in the side. "Fai, come on, dad said it was urgent."
"What's wrong?" Fai asked, coming fully awake. He pushed himself out from between the covers of the futon, his heartbeat picking up.
"I can't tell you," said Ryuuichi smugly. "It's a secret."
"I see," Fai said dryly. "It's not dangerous-urgent, then."
"No. But it is a secret and I can keep secrets!"
"Liar," Fai said, opening the chest that contained his clothing. "Just last week you told me all about the blacksmith's love poetry."
"That wasn't a secret! It was just embarrassing. I don't see what's so special about kissing anyway. No, Fai, not that, dad said to tell you to put on the furisode."
"He did?" Fai asked, eyeing his son curiously, and Ryuuichi nodded energetically. With a sigh he put the yukata he had picked out back into the chest and reached for the wrapped packages containing his three furisodes; they were so delicate and intricate he only really wore them on formal occasions, or to tease Kurogane. "Did he say which one?"
Ryuuichi shook his head, so Fai chose his favorite, the blue one Tomoyo had given him before he left Suwa, the dragon and phoenix designs picked out beautifully in gold. It was Kurogane's favorite, too. Fai had probably had more sex in this furisode than in any other piece of clothing he owned.
"Are you sure you don't want to tell me what Kuro-sama is planning?" he asked, crooking an eyebrow, and Ryuuichi grinned and shook his head.
"He said if I told you he would hang me upside down by my ankles," he said.
"He says that a lot," Fai reminded the boy, carefully undoing the wrapping.
"That one's pretty," Ryuuichi said as he put it on, and his son came to him and helped him tie the sash when he was done. Fai smoothed his hands down the front of the furisode, checking to make sure it hung right with no lines or creases to block its design. "Now come on! Come quick!"
"Just a - Monkey, slow down," Fai replied, laughing, as he tried to slip his sandals on while his son seemed intent on dragging him out the room by his sleeve. Ryuuichi had inherited his father's intimidating height and was very tall for a nine-year-old, but he still barely met Fai's chest.
Ryuuichi dragged him to his vegetable garden, which was in bloom at this time of year. Kurogane was sitting on the porch wearing a semi-formal kimono, and he wasn't alone; he was sharing a bottle of amazake with, of all people, Syaoran.
"Fai," Syaoran said, his expression lighting up. Mokona was on his shoulder; when she saw Fai she squealed and launched herself at his face. He caught her out of instinct.
"Fai-san looks amazing today!" she said.
"Thank you," Fai replied, a little flustered. "When did you two get here?"
"A few hours ago," said Syaoran, smiling, and Fai leveled a glare at Kurogane. Their first son had been here for that long and he had let Fai sleep?
"Kuro-sama," he said. "What -"
Kurogane put down the cup and stood up, and Fai realized he looked embarrassed. He had that adorable flush to his cheeks that Fai rarely saw nowadays.
"I know you said it usually happens on the solstice," he said awkwardly. "But I thought maybe it would be better with the kid and the pork bun here."
"What -" Fai started to say, and then stopped, because Kurogane had produced two lengths of silk ribbon from his sleeve, one in blue and one in red. "Oh," Fai said, blankly. Kurogane held out the blue ribbon.
"Here," he said, and Fai took it numbly.
"You remembered," he said. "All those years ago, you remembered."
Kurogane snorted, rolling his eyes. "It was only four, dumbass," he said. "You going to uh, do it or what?"
"Fai and Kurogane, sitting in a tree, m-a-r-r-i -" Mokona sang, but Syaoran put a hand over her mouth to shut her up as Fai reached out dreamily and clasped Kurogane's hand, raising his other to inscribe the glowing runes in the air. The ribbons came to life like snakes, just as they had at the Ceresian wedding he had seen, twisting together to form one long braided length, and wrapped itself around their conjoined hands.
"You're an idiot," Kurogane said. "But you're my idiot."
Fai found he was grinning so wide he didn't know if he could speak. Kurogane's expression still had a trace of that awkwardness, but he still looked so very serious. "And you're hopeless," he said, his voice scraping and rough. "But you're my kind of hopeless, Kuro-sama."
"You two are gross," Ryuuichi said, startling a laugh out of Fai. Syaoran had pulled something out of his pocket - a camera, he realized, emblazoned with the Piffle Princess logo.
"For Sakura," he said, smiling, and took a picture.
"Take one for Watanuki too!" Mokona suggested. "And for your parents, and for everyone else we met!"
"I don't think there's enough space for all of them," Syaoran said to her, with a wry grin. "Not since you stole it and filled up the memory card with photos of Miyuki-chan in Wonderland."
"What's a memory card?" Ryuuichi wanted to know. "And a Miyuki-chan in Wonderland?"
"Something for adults," Fai replied smoothly. "I'm sure Syaoran will be able to show you when you're older, Monkey."
He drew more runes in the air with his fingertips, completing the ritual; the braided cord severed in two, and he gave half back to Kurogane, keeping half for himself. "Normally we tie them on the left wrist," he said, as he looped the cord around Kurogane's right, tying it deftly. The taller man was watching him thoughtfully through red eyes. "As a bracelet, I mean, to serve as a reminder against skin. I'm the last Ceresian alive, however, so I say we switch wrists. Nobody can tell me I'm doing it wrong!"
"Idiot," Kurogane said, but fondly. His large fingers were surprisingly dexterous as he fastened the slim braid around Fai's own right wrist, the red shockingly bright against his pale skin, and then he stepped closer and gently touched two fingers under Fai's jaw, angling his face up for a kiss.
Fai met him willingly. He had never liked to be overly physically affectionate with Kurogane in front of Syaoran during their travels - he had always thought it disrespectful given the boy's distance from his own love - but he felt he could be forgiven, for this.
"They do this all the time," he heard Ryuuichi telling Syaoran behind Kurogane's back, sounding aggrieved, and Syaoran made a sympathetic noise.
"Fai-mommy and Kuro-daddy are gross," agreed Mokona.
"Shut up, kids," Kurogane growled, and Fai laughed and looped his arms around his shoulders, pulling his mate down for another kiss. The sun was bright and the air was fresh with the scent of spring; Kurogane's mouth was hot and familiar, sweet with the faint taste of the amazake he had been drinking.
It was shaping up to be a wonderful day.
Fai is sitting before the shrine resetting the shields when Kurogane enters, his hands folded in his lap and his eyes closed. Kurogane leans quietly against the door, watching him with unabashed appreciation; time has been slow touching them both, the vampiric bond stretching the years out for their body clocks, but there are signs here and there, greys in his own hair, the beginnings of crow's feet at the edges of Fai's eyes.
"I can feel you staring, Kuro-sama," Fai says, not moving. "I'm almost done."
"Okay," Kurogane says, crossing his arms over his chest, and waits until Fai finally opens his eyes and stands, gracefully in his yukata as though he were born to these clothes. "Everything okay?"
"Yes. I refreshed the bait, just in case, but I'm telling you, the decreasing number of demons isn't because the bait is too weak," Fai says, as they walk quietly to the porch. Kurogane snorts, but Fai casts him an amused glance out of the corner of his eye, his mouth crooked and his eyelashes as pale as his hair. "It's because you've killed most of them. You're too good at what you do, Kuro-sama," he adds.
"No such thing," Kurogane says briskly, taking a seat on the edge with his legs crossed, Fai sitting down next to him with his long legs hanging off the lip of the porch and his hands on the wood, stretched back. One of the maids comes up, and he sends her for something to eat and drink; Fai missed breakfast with them, too busy setting the shields, and he'll probably forget he hasn't eaten until he's starving if Kurogane doesn't do something about it.
"He's coming along well," Fai offers quietly, as they wait for the maid to return, and Kurogane shoots him a sharp look, questioning. "Little monkey," he clarifies, and Kurogane nods.
"He's still got a lot to learn," he says, remembering his conversation with his son earlier that day.
"Well, who doesn't - oh, thank you, Fumi," Fai replies, shooting the maid a brilliant smile as she hastily puts down a bowl of steaming miso soup, the scent wafting in the air, and a jug of sake with two cups. Kurogane lifts an eyebrow at that, but Fai ignores him, pouring them both a generous measure.
"You don't have the alcohol tolerance you used to," he reminds the wizard.
"Only because you've cruelly denied me the opportunity to build it up," Fai replies, tucking into the soup, and Kurogane lets it rest as he curls his fingers around his cup. They are sitting on the edge of the building overlooking the village, and the land seems impossibly bright in the afternoon sun.
For a while he sits in silence as Fai wolfs down his food, content with the view and the company. Most of the time he forgets, lets it become routine, but sometimes it hits him in full, that he is here and home. The bracelet around his wrist feels warm, although it's probably the effect of the sunlight. Ryuuichi is seventeen, older now than Kurogane was when Suwa burnt all those years ago. He's older than his father lived to be.
"Kuro-sama has a brooding expression," Fai notes quietly. Kurogane turns to look at him, in his white and blue and old yukata, his long pale hair spilling over his shoulder, his blue and gold eyes soft and sure and fixed on Kurogane's face.
"I'm not brooding. I'm thinking," he says, and Fai laughs quietly, and Kurogane leans over and kisses him. If he can't kiss his wizard in the comfort of his own damn home he doesn't know where else he can. It's not a forceful kiss, although there was a time when that was the default; coming together desperate and needing, less kissing and more fighting, biting and sucking and leaving each other breathless. It's not even a hungry kiss, both of them crazy with the flush of fresh love, needing each other nownownow. It's just a slow meeting of mouths, a reassurance: I am still here.
"Okay," Fai says when they part, quirking his eyebrow. "Thinking about what?"
Kurogane doesn't answer for a little while, although he realizes he has raised his artificial arm without thinking to toy with the bracelet around his flesh wrist, the braided red and blue still vibrant despite this many years. "The kid," he says.
"Little monkey?" Fai tilts his head. "Yes. He seems to be doing okay at the palace. He's made friends there. It seems like he's growing up."
Kurogane snorts. "Yeah, well. That's up for discussion. Did you know he has a crush on someone there?"
"Yes," Fai says slowly. "I knew that, because he told me, but how did you...?"
"His body language. We were talking about reasons to wield a sword. He thinks he's very subtle."
"He's a teenage boy, Kuro-sama," Fai says, laughing. "He just thinks we're idiots, is all."
"Tch," Kurogane growls. "I should have taught him better."
"Did he tell you who his crush is on?" Fai asks sweetly, and Kurogane shakes his head, taking a sip of sake. Naturally, Fai waits until he has a mouthful before helpfully continuing, "Our little monkey is in love with Princess Tomoyo~!"
Kurogane manages to spray the sake right into an acacia bush, and Fai throws his head back, roaring with laughter.
"It's not funny, idiot!" Kurogane snarls, which has exactly zero effect on his wizard. "She's three times his age!"
"But she looks like she's his age," Fai counters.
"Yeah, and she'll be looking that way when he's in his thirties," Kurogane growls, and Fai finally stops laughing and looks at him, although a smile is still playing at the corners of his mouth.
"We can't help who we fall for, Kuro-sama," he says softly. "I have a feeling she's about to break his heart. Knowing her, that's why she sent him home: so he can remember his family will be there for him."
"Tch. I should go talk with him."
"And say what? He's a teenage boy, you can't tell him who to fall for. Besides," Fai says, and his mouth twists upward in a sad almost-smile that Kurogane knows from experience means he is thinking about something from Ceres or before, "sometimes a heart has to be broken in before it can be used."
"Was yours?" Kurogane asks quietly, and Fai's gaze snaps to him and he smiles like a sunbeam, bright and focused.
"A thousand times," he says. "But that's not the life we made for our son, is it?"
"No," Kurogane agrees quietly, remembering his parents, Syaoran in the rain, Ashura lying dead in his own blood. He reaches over and takes Fai's right hand, his fingertips brushing the bracelet. They are old and scarred and he never in a million years thought he would make it this far. "It's not the life we make for each other, either," he says, hesitantly, sounding out the words as he says them. He's never been very good at this sort of thing. "No more heartbreaks," he says. "Not for us."
"Why, Kuro-romantic," Fai retorts, batting his eyelashes. "Does that mean we earned our happy ending?"
"No. It's not over yet," Kurogane says, and grins, light and warm the way only Fai can make him. "We're just getting started."
Additional notes - a yukata is a light unisex summer kimono made of cotton. It has no lining and is in the shape we in the west traditional associate with kimono. Hakama are stiff pleated wide pants - think Kurogane in Outo country, or the captains from Bleach. A haori is a waist or thigh-length jacket worn over a kimono to add authority (again, Bleach's captains). Geta are the sandals worn with kimono, while obi is the name of the kimono sash. Women's obi can be very elaborate - 30 cm (1 foot) wide and 4 metres (about 14 feet) long! Men's obi are much smaller, 10cm wide at the most. Jinbei are pyjamas, consisting of shorts and a top.
A furisode is a formal kimono with very long sleeves and intricate patterning (like the pretty white one Fai wore in Nihon after Ceres) worn by young women to signal that they are of marriageable age and single, kind of like a debutante's gown. Interestingly, men who wear furisodes are signalling that they are the gay lovers of samurai. Trying to tell us something eh, CLAMP?
Thank you reading the fic. I hope you enjoyed it. :)