Author's Note: A short, soft, fluffy chapter to make up for the last one.
As far as first kisses generally went, Kurogane thought that this one had been as good as it could get. Simple, meaningful and warm. He'd pulled away first, a little breathless, and found himself self-satisfied at the look on Fai's face. Pale lids stayed closed for a beat and then slowly fluttered open, and Kurogane found himself on the receiving end of a wondering, almost awed look. A smile spread over Fai's face, small but untainted with the sorrow that had so recently overwhelmed him.
The moment spun out for a bit longer, and then Fai's smile turned a little lopsided; a touch impish, a shade regretful, visibly forced but still an honest smile.
"I wish you'd agreed to marry me already," he murmured. "Comfort sex would be awesome right about now."
Kurogane snorted, not at all upset over the broken mood. He hadn't meant the gesture as a pity kiss or any such thing and was content with Fai for not suspecting it to be so. If anything it was encouraging to have the blond be able to make a joke. He knew that grieving was necessary for healing, but didn't want to see Fai overwhelmed and drowning in it either.
"How about comfort food?" he replied. "I made soup."
"That's going to have to be some really killer soup to compete with sex," Fai said with mocking dubiousness, but he gathered himself up with a resigned sigh and then began heaving himself up off the bed. He paused, however, and then looked back at the baby with a frown.
"She'll be fine where she is. We can bring the baby monitor in here," Kurogane said, but Fai didn't move, only stared at the infant and worried at his bottom lip. She was all that Fai had left of his once-again lost cousin and Kurogane could understand wanting to cling to her, of being afraid to let her out of his sight lest she be swept away from him too. If Tomoyo had been left to him but his parents taken, he could imagine that he would have been the most insufferably overprotective guardian in all the world as she grew up.
"Just bring her with you," he amended.
"I don't want to wake her up though," Fai protested, though weakly.
"She'll either fuss herself back to sleep or want to eat. She's not trying to catch z's because she's got an important business meeting to go to tomorrow."
Fai didn't need much persuasion, and began creeping over the bedding before Kurogane was done speaking. The infant barely stirred as she was carefully lifted up and settled against Fai's chest, and soon enough they were seated at the kitchen table downstairs. Kurogane insisted on holding the infant so that Fai could get a proper meal in instead of trying to eat soup out of the side of his mouth in tiny sips to avoid the possibility of dripping on the baby. At first the blond forced a few spoonfuls down just to be polite, but Kurogane soon had the satisfaction of seeing him scoop the bowl clean and go for seconds. Given the day he'd just had, the shopkeeper could guess that Fai hadn't had anything to eat or drink since breakfast, and he wordlessly kept the man's water glass filled and his plate supplied with bread in between bites of his own dinner.
Once he'd had his fill, Fai pushed his bowl away and sighed, but it wasn't a happy sigh of contentment. It stuttered at the end and almost hitched into a sob, but he hid his face in his hands for a moment and soon looked up at Kurogane, eyes dry and a wan smile tugging at his mouth.
"Sorry," he whispered, but Kurogane shook his head. Fai took in another breath and sighed it out, steadier this time, and then held his hands out for the baby.
Kurogane handed her off and made short work of the rest of his dinner. They cleared the table in relative silence, and Fai waltzed the still-slumbering baby around the kitchen as Kurogane did the dishes. She woke up hungry just as the adults began to eye each other, both wondering what might be next on the agenda, and Fai disappeared upstairs to change her while Kurogane heated up a bottle.
They ended up on the bed again, since they weren't in the mood for television and it allowed them to sprawl out with greater comfort than the small couch. Fai sat down first and leaned against the headboard but when Kurogane crawled over the bed to sit next to him, the blond shuffled over until he was nestled up against the shopkeeper's side instead. Kurogane settled his hand around a slim hip and idled away a minute or so watching the hungrily nursing infant over Fai's shoulder.
His thoughts drifted quite naturally from her to her mother, and then to Fai and Yuui who were apparently her legal guardians now. He tried to recall and sort through all that he'd been told; Birdie's cover story and how she was to be buried in anonymity, the mystery that Sakura was to be wrapped in to keep her safe.
"How long are you staying?" Kurogane asked without any preamble, almost before the question had finished forming in his mind. Fai's stay had been indeterminate the day before, based entirely on how long it would take Birdie to be discharged and then gain strength enough for the trip to California. Now, he had nothing to wait for. If he was suddenly gripped with a desire to be at home and introduce Sakura to his brother, the blond could be gone the next morning.
The question seemed to take Fai unawares, and it was a while before he attempted an answer.
"I hadn't thought that far ahead," he eventually admitted with a sigh. "Not much longer, I guess. Yuui will need me - I was originally scheduled to have been back already, actually - and he'll want to see Sakura as soon as possible." A tiny dimpled fist was clutching tight to the hand holding the bottle of formula steady, and Fai caressed it lightly with a free finger.
Another sigh, and then,
"I wish you were coming with us."
It was quietly spoken, and simply a statement. It wasn't a renewed request or reproach, not a subtle question about whether he really could or just didn't want to. It was only a soft, sad thought, said to relieve at least one feeling out of the overwhelming mass.
"I know," Kurogane said, and dropped a kiss to Fai's temple. They settled back into silence after that brief exchange, leaning against each other, seeking comfort and offering it, and only roused themselves again once the baby polished off her meal. Fai began burp duty while Kurogane went downstairs to wash the bottle, but the taller took her once he was back upstairs.
"Why don't you go ahead and look up flights," he suggested, nodding toward the desk near the bed. "You can use my computer."
"I can do all that tomorrow," Fai hedged, making Kurogane scoff at this obvious reluctance to start the parting process.
"Didn't say you needed to book the first available flight," he said dryly. "Just don't see the use in putting it off."
"You go to the dentist every six months and do your taxes in February, don't you," Fai accused him, but he obediently pulled out the desk chair and wiggled the mouse about to wake the computer up. He asked for a password but rescinded the request with a surprised, "oh, never mind" when he was taken straight to the desktop. Living alone as he did now, Kurogane saw no need for such security measures.
Fai rang his brother up while he typed and Kurogane left the room as soon as the conversation grew emotional, which was five words after the initial "hi". He closed the door behind him and paced around in the nursery until he got a satisfactory belch or two out of the infant, then tried to impartially decide whether or not she looked drowsy enough to put down.
She was warm and slightly heavy-eyed but still looking around and warbling to herself now and then, and he admitted to himself that he wanted to indulge in holding her as much as was practical now that he knew she would be gone from the house soon. A quick, stealthy listen-in at his bedroom door revealed Fai still on the phone, so Kurogane went downstairs and idly browsed his shop with her, making a mental list of tasks for the morrow.
He needed to re-stock tissue paper. It was about time to do an inventory review as well, and discard anything too close to its expiration date. The shelves looked as though they could do with a thorough dusting, but he would put that off until the baby wasn't spending her days in a playpen in the storefront.
Kurogane wondered if the shop would feel empty without her there. If his home would seem lonelier without the expectation of Fai sharing all his meals. If his bed would be colder with only his own body to warm it.
Fai appeared as if summoned by his thoughts, stepping into the shop front and beelining toward Kurogane, not stopping until he had to. He buried his face into Kurogane's chest, nuzzling into the little space near the baby's head and giving a weak chuckle as she cooed happily and batted at him.
"I booked a flight for the morning after next," he said, voice muffled. "Now you have to tell me what an awesomely responsible and functional adult I am, and how in love with me you are, and that you won't be able to bear being apart from me for more than a day or two."
Kurogane felt a slight pang over how soon he would have to part from these two, though not to the degree which Fai described. Firmly quashing it, he snorted at his boyfriend's demands.
"Congratulations on acting like the grown-ass man that you actually are."
"Good job," Kurogane amended, and leaned down to drop a kiss to Fai's hair.
It had been a long, draining day capping off a stressful week, and after a few minutes of light banter Fai unwound enough for his shoulders to droop down and exhaustion to creep up on him. After three jaw-cracking yawns in quick succession he didn't even protest when Kurogane ordered him to turn in first. Fai groggily wiped away sleepy tears and then departed after distributing a couple of cheek-kisses, leaving Kurogane to play with the infant until she began to nod off as well.
About an hour passed before Kurogane was finally ready for bed, but when he cautiously crawled over the coverlet Fai stirred immediately.
"Can't sleep?" he asked, as Fai lifted his head up.
"Can't stop thinking," Fai replied in a rusty whisper, and held up the blankets in invitation. Kurogane scooted into the space offered, shivering away from the still-cold sheets on the far side of the bed and dragging the two of them closer with one arm.
"Think of something boring," he suggested, nuzzling absently into the pale hair tickling at his face. Fai cuddled even closer, pressing against him where he could; a cold nose to his neck, fingers finding purchase in his clothes, socked feet squeezing under one of his calves. He spoke again, voice a little smoother this time, and lilting up in curiosity.
"Boring? Aren't you supposed to tell me to think of something happy?"
"No, 'cause I want you to get bored and fall asleep."
Fai chuckled, warm breath feathering across Kurogane's skin.
"How are you so practical and yet not the most boring person alive?"
"Dunno. Close your eyes and try to figure it out."
Kurogane was already comfortably settled but it wasn't an unreasonable request, nor one that he honestly felt all that unmotivated to grant. He shifted back a bit and Fai scooched up, and they met somewhere in between for a quick kiss. It was only as he drew back that Kurogane realized that Fai hadn't actually specified lips, but even as he mentally shrugged at himself for it he was tipping his head to plant another peck, because...well, just because.
Because Fai had had one hell of a horrible day, and could probably use a bit of extra comfort. Because he was warm and soft and a nice heavy weight in the bed. Because despite emotion and exhaustion making that pale face even paler in the dimness and carving hollows under his eyes, his little smile was still endearing. Because he'd be gone soon and they might as well get in an extra kiss or two while they could. Because Kurogane felt like it.
The late hour and long day kept the soft kisses from becoming anything heated, and after a bit of nipping and nuzzling at each other they naturally broke off and shuffled back together, giving up kisses for closeness. Kurogane wrapped the other man up in his arms and drew his feet in a little closer by hooking one ankle over them, and Fai seemed to curl into himself, as if to hide in the nooks and crannies of Kurogane's embrace.
Limbs got a little squished, there was an elbow pressing against ribs and they were probably going to wake up with cricks in their necks, but it was comfortable and comforting. Fai's breathing evened out almost instantly, and Kurogane drifted off not much later while idly thinking over the next day's schedule and deliberately not thinking about the day after that.