Author: Sybil Rowan
Pairing(s)/Characters: Kurogane/Fai, Syaoran/Sakura
Summary: The Tsubasa travelers land on La-Metal right before Queen Promethium's finial conversion into a mechanoid. The planet La-Metal, and Maetel and Emeraldas' status as twins, shakes up Fai, to Kurogane's consternation.
Author's Notes: Had to change some of the dialog from Maetel Legend. The Nobita-kun crack comes from xxxHolic manga 5.
Disclaimer: Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, xxxHolic its names and characters, belong to CLAMP. Galactic Express and Maetel Legend belong to Leiji Matsumoto.
Beta Reader: WingedPanther73
Date: December 15, 2012, 5:30 am
Word Count: 13,192
Kurogane was furious when he stood on two shaky legs. Nothing but ice and snow could be seen for miles in the dim starlight. The extremely low temperature was at a deadly level; they'd be killed by the elements within an hour if shelter wasn't found. The sky was eerie, stale and pitch black, the air wasn't stirring; this was a dead world in his estimation.
His eyes quickly adjusted to the darkness as he looked around for Mokona to yell at it. Before he could say a word, his eyes hit Syaoran and Sakura huddled together on top of a snow drift. Worry for the kids hit him. "Syaoran! Princess! Get up, we've got to move! Now!"
"You can say that again, Kuro-pu!" Kurogane turned a frosty glare at the blond wizard's smiling face.
"Shut you mouth," Kurogane snapped and made his way to the kids.
"I've never been so cold in my life," Syaoran declared, holding Sakura even closer. She was shivering too hard to make a comment.
"Mokona cold, Mokona cold!" the little fluff ball declared digging itself out of the snow drift at Syaoran's feet.
"This is your fault, you stupid little cream puff!" Kurogane shouted at Mokona and waved a fist towards the small creature.
It started to wail. It said, "I only go where Sakura's feathers are. It's not Mokona's fault where they are!"
"Oh don't let Big Dog get you down, Mokona," Fai said with one of those irritating, fake smile while removing his thick, fur-lined coat. He picked up Mokona and tucked it in the lining. Now it was squealing in glee. "Pick up Sakura on your back, Syaoran." The boy did as he was told and then the wizard draped the thick, white coat over the kids.
Kurogane knew he would have done the same for them without a thought, but it didn't stop him from pointing out, "You're going to freeze to death."
Fai simply said, "I come from a place not too different from this, and the princess is from a desert world."
"We have to find shelter! Now!" Kurogane shouted, wanting to shake the snot out of Fai, who seemed to not understand the gravity of this situation. If he came from a bleak world like this, he of all people should understand how dire this situation was.
"Then you're in luck," Fai said, pointing to a distant dome-shaped object made of glass.
Kurogane judged the distance to be pretty far, but he had faith Syaoran could manage it. Kurogane began to feel the icy, stale air bite his skin through his cloak.
"So, is daddy-Kuro-pu going to carry mommy-Fai?" the wizard taunted. Kurogane may have a surly temper, but he was bright enough to understand Fai actually had a purpose behind this particular jab. It was to make him furious so he'd keep his mind off of the cold and be energized to get to the dome. It was Fai's twisted way of taking care of him as well.
"Shut up, you idiot," Kurogane snarled.
"Awe, come on, Big Dog! Catch me if you can," Fai said, giving Kurogane a light smack to the back of his head and running off in the direction of the dome.
"Get back here, you dumb wizard, so I can wring your scrawny neck!" Kurogane shouted, letting his anger flow. He tried chasing after Fai, but he could see the other man was certainly more at ease moving over the icy landscape than Kurogane. He looked over his shoulder, pleased to see Syaoran moving at a steady pace behind them. He couldn't imaging anything surviving in this world so he really didn't worry about anything attacking the trio under Fai's massive coat.
"Come on everyone! Last one to the dome has to rub my feet!" Fai shouted out in glee.
"Rub your own damn feet!" Kurogane shouted back. But just in case, he made sure he was at least five steps ahead of Syaoran.
Kurogane was glad when they made it to the darkened dome. He hoped it wasn't compromised and would provide some stable heat. He watched Fai chase around to the right side of the dome; he didn't miss Fai was starting to shiver from the harsh elements in spite of his background. The blond found what looked to be a large, hanger bay door.
Kurogane joined him and studied the old, frozen leaver for the door. Fai flung his hand at it. "This is a job for, Kurga-lurga. Come on, muscle man. Get to it."
"Shut up!" Kurogane shouted, grabbing the leaver and putting every bit of his survival instincts behind budging it. Just as it groaned and the doors slid apart about two feet, Syaoran came up with his passengers. Kurogane leaned over, hands on his knees, as he looked at the kids' faces. He realized that Syaoran wasn't nearly feeling the bite of cold like he was. "You're okay?"
"I'm cold, but it's bearable," he answered, but the princess was adopting an unhealthy pallor in Kurogane's opinion.
"Mokona is warmer, thanks to Fai's generosity," the little, furry bundle said with a muffled voice from somewhere deep inside Fai's white and blue coat.
"You're more than welcome, Mokona," Fai cooed towards a lump in the coat.
Syaoran was about to enter, but Kurogane held up his arm to bar the kids. "Wait. Let me check it out," Kurogane said, weighing the dangers of going in versus the dangers of staying outdoors.
It was dark, so he paid attention to his other senses as he slowly prowled the abandon hanger bay with several unused warplanes. His society didn't have the same technology, but he had learned through his travels to recognize threatening war machines. When he was certain there were no living creatures in the first several rooms, he beckoned his companions in.
They came in and followed him cautiously through the empty bay. He found fifteen thick coats lining the hallway on hooks. He picked one up and tossed it at Fai's head. The wizard gracefully side stepped, caught it, and gave him a curious look. He ordered, "Put it on, already! You'll get sick and slow us down."
"Well, since Kuro-rin asked so nicely..."
"I wouldn't call that nice," Mokona's voice came from the thick coat.
"Shut up, you runty rodent! And you, put on that damn coat already!" he barked towards Fai, his aggravation at being tossed in a dead world was at a high.
Fai did as he ordered, and Kurogane took one of the coats himself. They wandered deeper into the facility only making stray comments. The deserted kitchen had what Kurogane recognized as military rations. The five of them sat in a small huddle on the icy, metal floor and choked down the drab food in plastic wrap.
"This makes me really wish Watanuki was with us," Fai said, lofting a half empty container. "He could have made this edible."
"I doubt it," Syaoran said, giving his plastic tray of food a disgusted look.
"Just eat it. Your body needs regular fuel to function properly," Kurogane warned. He was pleased to see the kid dig in and choke down the food. The princess ate without complaint, which was one of the top reasons he like Sakura. Fai, he noticed, set aside his half-eaten rations and went to a plate glass window in the cafeteria.
He could see in the reflection of the darkened window Fai's expression actually sour and then darken for half a minute as he studied the landscape. He then forced a bright smile again. He turned back to the kids and Mokona. "Make sure you three stay huddled under my coat until we can find a way to get this place a little warmer."
Kurogane looked over at the coat the kids huddled under with the fur ball. He never figured it to be anything special, except an extravagance. He noted the white fur lining was unusually thick. He reached over and touched one of the cuffs, it was the softest thing he'd ever felt.
"So does it have magic properties or something, Fai?" Sakura voiced Kurogane's question.
Fai nodded with a smile. "Yes," he said emphatically. "The creature it was made from was a great white elk. The kind on Celes are very unique. They can survive weather like this. Also, it has charms on it to keep the wearer warm."
Kurogane snorted and hitched his thumb towards the glass, shielding them from the elements. "Nothing can survive that."
"Well, not this bad. Even Celes Country isn't as harsh as this, but don't underestimate the human capacity for survival." Fai then pulled one of those fake smiles Kurogane would love to smack away. "After all, we're doing just fine, Kuro-po."
"Stop calling me dumb nicknames and help me find the generator, you twit," Kurogane said. "You kids stay here."
"But don't you want my help?" Syaoran offered.
"No, you should stay with the princess and the fur ball under that coat. Don't leave this area."
He got up and lead Fai down the hallway. He was surprised to not hear Fai's senseless chatter. He gave a subtle glance over his shoulder and once again saw the sour, dark expression on Fai's delicate features. It was instantly schooled the moment he realized Kurogane was watching him.
He was frustrated at trying to shake up the wizard into dropping his pretenses. He'd tried everything he naturally thought to do, so he decided on a new approach he didn't feel comfortable with: conversation. "So Celes Country must be a hellhole if it's like this place."
Kurogane noticed a slight pause. Fai was cooking up an answer. "The weather is something I'm used too. It was a place with an eternal blizzard and in permanent twilight."
"Hun? How does anything live like that? You need seasons and sunlight to grow things."
"That's why only people with magic abilities would choose to carve out an existence in such a desolate place. Besides, you being a warrior... tsk... I would have thought you'd see the natural advantage of living in a place like Celes."
Kurogane mind instantly seized on what Fai hinted at. "No one would want to invade it."
"Precisely," Fai said brightly. "But anyway," he suddenly waved his thin hand in the air, "I don't want to bore you, Big Dog."
Kurogane noted Fai tossed out the odious nickname as an evasion to avoid talking about his past. Kurogane didn't rise to the bait, because he was more irked at Fai's cheery veneer. He wanted to crack through it and figured out who the man really was. Not what happened in Fai's past, so much, as who Fai really was as a person.
Kurogane went with the conversation tactic again. "You seem bothered by this place. This is the most I've ever heard you talk about your home. Memories getting you?"
Fai's false cheer only seemed to lock into place. "They say home is where the heart is, not a place." The ninja's teeth ground together. He'd had it. Before he could grab Fai's arm and confront him, the wizard gracefully sidestepped into the landing of a staircase. He hoisted himself on the banister and launched himself down into the darkness with a loud sequel.
"Wha...? Get back here! Fai! You don't know what's down there!" Kurogane snarled. Would that idiotic wizard really launch himself into danger just to avoid an honest conversation? Apparently. He ran down the stairs after Fai.
He jumped the last three steps and landed beside Fai, who was chuckling. He grabbed the front of Fai's coat. "Reckless..."
"Wait, light." Fai pointed to the ceiling that did have some ambient, emergency lighting.
Kurogane let Fai go with a tiny shove. "That means someone was here fairly recently."
"That does follow. I think this is the place we're looking for," Fai said, walking over to what had been identified as a computer in a different dimension. He joined Fai and studied the banks of blinking lights. What stood out was a large key. "That must start something," Fai said, noticing what Kurogane was looking at.
"Who knows. It could be dangerous," Kurogane pointed out.
"Well, if you don't have a better idea..." Fai's hand went to the key and turned it, just as Kurogane was about to blurt out a warning. He paused and heard the sounds of the building functioning again, including warmer air fighting back the chill. "See? Everything is fine."
Fai turned towards the stairs and started walking away. Kurogane caught up to him with a glower. "You could have blown something up."
His smile grew. "But I didn't. Let's tuck the children in and get some rest."
Syaoran had to admit he didn't want Kurogane to find the generator too soon. Sakura was sitting on his lap because they only had so much room in Fai's coat. Mokona was snuggled on Sakura's lap and looked as if it were dozing. He couldn't help grinning at the cute Mokona.
"I'm afraid my feather will be too hard to find here," Sakura said, breaking the silence. "The land is very dangerous."
He turned his smile towards her. "I won't leave until I find it. I promise. I don't care what it's like out there."
"I know," she said, returning his smile. She turned her head to look out at the bleak landscape. "You know, it's hard for me to believe Fai came from a place like this. He's so sunny."
"True," Syaoran admitted reluctantly. During their training, Kurogane darkly hinted that there was more to Fai than a bright personality. Syaoran confronted Kurogane on whether he trusted Fai. The ninja affirmed he did trust Fai, but he suspected Fai had some secrets and his cheeriness was faked. Syaoran didn't want to trouble Sakura over Fai; her time with the wizard at their café had forged a close bond between them. That's why he supported her opinion.
"It's getting warmer." Syaoran groaned inwardly at her observation, knowing Kurogane and Fai would be back soon. "But, would you mind if I stayed here. I'm still chilly."
"What ever you like, Sakura," he answered. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and held her closer.
"Thank you," she murmured drowsily and laid her head on his shoulder. He looked at the landscape and decided he wouldn't be daunted. It may take a lot of preparation and planning, but he would continue to be patient in his quest.
"Oh, what's this?" Fai's teasing tone came from the doorway. Syaoran put his finger to his lips to shush him. Fai said much quieter, picking up snoozing Mokona from Sakura's lap, "Bedtime, then? Mommy-Fai will skip the bedtime story."
Syaoran picked her up as carefully as possible. He got warm in his chest when she wrapped her arms around his neck and nuzzled his neck. He blushed as he followed the two men down the now lit hallway, Fai's coat was still draped over his shoulders. They found the dormitory wing. Each room held two beds.
Syaoran laid Sakura in a bed; Fai laid Mokona beside her. He took off Fai's coat and looked inquiringly at the wizard. Fai's brilliant smile and nod gave Syaoran a sense of gratitude. He covered Sakura and Mokona with the white, fur coat and then flopped in the bed beside hers. The men weren't out of the room before Syaoran drifted off.
"So sweet," Fai whispered as he tucked blankets around Syaoran. He then took off the normal coat Kurogane had given him. He placed it over Syaoran and left the room, Kurogane turned off the light and shut the door softly.
"In the morning we'll figured out how to get around this place. I guess there must be people of some sort around here that built this thing."
"There is a possibility they moved on, too," Fai pointed out. Kurogane grunted in agreement as he opened the next dorm room door. He went in and got in the bed closest to the window, clothing and all. He shivered a little. This place had a sinister, macabre chill that seemed to permeate everything.
"This is a hateful place," Kurogane muttered, shutting his eyes. He started shivering more.
"Slide over," Fai said. He opened one eye and saw Fai hovering over him in the dim light.
"Not on your life."
"Come on, you're cold, I don't have my coat." Fai, without permission, wedged himself into Kurogane's bed. The ninja growled, but was too exhausted to fight against Fai's logic. He scooted to the other side of the bed and turned his back on Fai. He felt Fai draw up a few blankets over them and then he could tell Fai also turned his back towards Kurogane. He felt Fai's back pressed firmly against his, but didn't protest because it fought back the unnerving frost.
"Irritating wizard, shut up already."
Kurogane was standing on a rocky shore. He looked at where the river bed should be, but it was filled with nothing but broken glass. He watched in horror as Fai was crawling across it, but the most dreadful thing he noticed was that he was missing his eyes. Blood was pouring down Fai's pale cheeks from the empty sockets.
He tried to jump down towards Fai, but realized something was tied around his ankle. He looked behind him when he realized he was chained to the ground. Standing behind him was Fai, again, only this one had his eyes. The expression on this Fai was devoid of any emotions. Those beautiful eyes were empty of any sign of life.
"He's busy paying for the sin of our birth," the duplicate said dully.
"Kurogane!" Fai shouted out in pain. He turned back to Fai in the river bed. He got to his bloodied, scarred feet and stumbled around, hands out stretched.
"Fai!" Kurogane shouted, trying to reach him even though restrained. Fai moved towards him, each step blemishing more milky white skin. Finally, Kurogane was able to grab Fai's sticky, bloody hands, but when Fai lifted up his eyeless face it was just as empty of emotion as the duplicate. Panic hit his stomach.
Something warm touched the back of his neck and he flinched. He shook his head, now realizing it was all a horrible dream and he was in a strange, stiff bed in a dark room. He sat up, realizing it was Fai's forehead on his neck that had woke him.
He reached over and laid his calloused hand on Fai's forehead. It was blazing hot. "Damn it, I knew it," he griped softly. Fai's eyes cracked open slowly; he looked drowsy and confused.
"You're burning up. I told you, you'd get sick."
"Sick? Not hardly. I'm fine," he said, flashing a smile at Kurogane.
"You're feverish. Lay back down."
"Not a fever. Just a natural defense against cold nights on Celes. Mokona isn't the only one with secret talents."
Kurogane was furious. He hated how many games Fai played. He grabbed Fai's wrists and shoved him back down on the bed. He saw surprise in Fai's eyes, then that false happiness. He clenched Fai's wrists harder than he intended as he studied Fai's deep, blue eyes.
They were the very first thing he noticed about Fai when they initially met at Yuuko's wish shop. They were the most fetching eyes he'd ever seen, and quite an attractive distraction more often than Kurogane wished. In his opinion, it was obscene that Fai's gorgeous eyes were used to put forth deception.
Fai's face grew flush, and he turned his head towards one side, unable to maintain eye contact with Kurogane. "If Kuro-Kuro wanted to make out, all he had to do is ask nicely."
Kurogane flinched backwards as if burned. He rolled over on his back and glared at the ceiling. "Get out of my bed if you're not sick."
Fai gave a light chuckle, but didn't move. Before Kurogane could shove Fai away there was a pounding at the door. "Kurogane! Fai!"
It was Syaoran. "What is it?" Kurogane asked as they both sat up on the bed.
"Have you looked outside? It's still night," Syaoran said from the other side of the closed door.
Kurogane looked over to the window and was dismayed to see, indeed, it was still pitch black. "What the...?"
"I guess this place is a lot like Celes." Judging by Fai's somber tone, this place was making it tougher to maintain his facade.
Kurogane stood with Fai and Syaoran in the drafty hanger bay. Now that the inner part of the dome was warm, Fai, once again, wore his own coat. Syaoran and Kurogane had donned thick, winter coats and other layers. Kurogane was the first one to march out of the hanger bay and look towards the sky.
When the other two joined him, he pointed upwards. "They sky looks different than it did last night... or whatever time it was in this forsaken place."
"True," Fai agreed.
"Does that mean this world is some how moving through space? Not attached to a sun?" Syaoran asked.
"That would be my conclusion? But then how is it maintaining an atmosphere? Very curious," Fai said, studying the sky. He then turned his eyes across the icy fields. That's when Kurogane heard it, too.
"A machine," Kurogane said, getting a firmer grip on his chilly sword.
"Friend or Foe?" Fai mussed. The machine getting closer was a floating vehicle of some sort. It rapidly approached the dome. Kurogane tensed, wondering what kind of humans he was about to greet.
The vehicle pulled up in front of the three travelers. It was a woman with extremely long, blond hair that got out. Kurogane was unnerved that the woman had bare feet and wore nothing but a long, black dress. It was as if her body were immune to the cold. Her brown eyes narrowed as she examined them.
"Humans? Still out here? How did you escape my edict?" she demanded.
"Edict? Then you're some sort of ruler?" Fai ventured. She glared at them hotly.
"I am Queen La Andromeda Promethium, ruler of La-Metal. Now tell me what humans, besides my daughters, are still doing roaming my world?"
"So you're not human?" Kurogane asked.
Before she could answer, two younger women got out of the vehicle, huddling together. One had brilliant, scarlet hair, the other's hair was soft golden. "Mother, we need to get out of the cold," the blond one said franticly.
She looked back at the young women and said, "I forgot, since I no longer feel." She then turned back towards the travelers. "Stand down or I'll destroy you. My daughters need shelter."
"If you mean us no harm, you're more than welcome," Fai answered before Kurogane could challenge the woman further. He saw sense in continuing this conversation out of the cold.
They all walked into the hanger bay and towards the door that lead to the rest of the dome. Kurogane wasn't sure if the woman could carry out her threat, but he was hoping to not find out.
To be continued.