Title: Bad Habit
Author: Sybil Rowan
Pairing(s)/Characters: Ashura and Fai in a parent/child relationship.
Summary: After he's adopted by Ashura, Fai starts hording food and supplies in fear he'll get sent back to the valley in Valeria. Ashura shows him compassion and reassures him it won't happen.
Author's Notes: This is just a simple parent/child fic.
Disclaimer: Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle belong to CLAMP.
Beta Reader: WingedPanther73
Date: January 17, 2012, 6:00 am
Word Count: 1,472
"So there was something you needed to see me about, Calia?" Ashura asked the plump, older woman standing in his private study. She seemed embarrassed. Her hands wrung her apron as her face grew flushed and sweat appeared in her brow. Ashura went of his way to find the best nanny in all of Celes, but it seemed Fai was making things a unique challenge in spite of all her experience. No doubt, she'd never dealt with a child from Fai's background. He finally prompted the woman when she refused to meet his eyes. "Has Fai misbehaved?"
"Oh no, Majesty, he's really no trouble at all. He's the most well behaved child I've ever watched in all my years. He goes out of his way to be polite. It's just that I found food under his bed. When I asked the cook if he let Fai have it, he told me that he had wondered who was stealing from our stocks. We compared his list with what I found, and it matched. I'm afraid he's been stealing from the royal pantry."
Ashura took the information in and nodded. "I'm not surprised. He feels vulnerable."
"But he's been here for three months and has received regular meals. When he first got here, we couldn't get him to eat. Now, he's taking food and hiding it. That's not all. He has a bag packed with clothing and bedding. I asked him if he intended to leave, but he refused to say. It's a dangerously cold time of year. His body is still too frail to handle the weather here for very long."
"He still doesn't trust us. I'll have a talk with him. Where is he now?"
"In his bedroom. I'm afraid he got upset when I took the food away from him and returned it to the kitchen. He hid under his bed and wouldn't come out. He's been under there for the better part of an hour. I'm sorry things got out of hand."
"Give me some time alone with him." Ashura said, escorting her out of his study. He sealed the magical lock with a press of his fingertip and marched down the hallway to Fai's bedroom. He heard no noise so he peeked in. No sign of his ward. "Fai? It's King Ashura. Come out."
Nothing. The boy could be extremely stubborn and required lots of coaxing when he sunk into his darkest moments. Ashura walked in and knelt by the bed. There was only a ball of white fur coat to be seen under the bed. The coat quivered.
"Fai, please come out. I can see you." Not a budge. "Can you at least talk to me about what has you so upset?" Still nothing, not even a whimper. "I know about the food." Ashura saw Fai's body stiffen. The hood rose a little. He couldn't see those wide, blue eyes, but he saw Fai's lips twist into a frown. "You're not in trouble. I promise, I'm not mad in the least."
"Promise is a word adults use to trick you into doing things that aren't fun," Fai pointed out. Ashura would have chuckled and agreed if this wasn't one of Fai's silent tantrums.
"I won't use that word again. How about I ask you to act like an adult and talk to me." Fai finally crawled out from under the bed and sat by Ashura. He gave Ashura a serious look, lowering his hood all the way. "I made Nanny and the cook mad at me. I didn't mean to."
"They aren't mad, either, it's just their trying to keep things sanitary. There are a lot of pests that come indoors during this time of year. You'll attract them to your room if you keep doing that."
"Oh, I didn't think about that. I really am sorry," Fai said, sincerely.
Ashura knew why Fai had developed this bad habit, but it would for the best if the boy would actually vocalize it. "All this time you've known me, have I ever let you go hungry? Or go without proper clothing and shelter?"
"No, you've treated me really well," Fai admitted.
"Why don't you tell me what's troubled you."
Fai lowered his head, a delicate pink was tinging his cheeks. "I'm afraid I won't be good enough. I'm afraid I won't make you happy with me and you'll... put me... back there... that place."
"I thought that may be the case. You're storing things up in case you have to go back, but you're a subject of Celes now. There is nothing you can do to change that. Trust me, you're already good enough to be here. Just be yourself. All I ask is that you study your hardest and grow up into a talented magician."
"What if I disappoint you?"
"Not even if you disappoint me, but I know you won't. All I ask is that you place your trust in me. You won't lack for anything. If you ask for something, it'll be yours." He looked up and Ashura saw some skepticism in his eyes. "Is there something you want?"
"I want a fluorite staff like yours."
Ashura didn't expect Fai to want such an extravagance. He wasn't studied enough to use one yet. "If I agree, you must work hard and learn to use it properly. Using one is serious business."
"I'll work harder than I ever have," Fai said solemnly in a too adult-like tone.
"Okay then. I'll make it, but it'll take a whole month. Will you trust me to deliver it?" He could tell Fai was weighing it out. Some of the skepticism faded away and he nodded. "I the meanwhile, please stop stealing food, at least to keep the pests away. Is that agreeable?"
"I'll do it," Fai said. King Ashura gave him a smile and patted his shoulder.
"I've been looking for you, Master Fai," Calia said, approaching the window sill where Fai was tucked away with a book. Fai looked up and checked the enchanted hourglass on the library's table.
"I still have more time to study before dinner, Nanny," Fai insisted.
She gave him a bright smile. "Sorry, but King Ashura wants to see you in his private study. He said you're to come right away."
Fai suppressed a disgruntled tone. He was starting to learn about a branch of magic new to him: healing magic. It seemed infinitely complex, but he was determined to conquer it. He closed the book, because if the king called him, he had to obey.
He bid his nanny farewell and made his way through Luvul's corridors. He knocked on the door of Ashura's study and waited for him to be told he could enter.
"Fai? If that's you, come in," Ashura announced.
He opened the door and saw the king standing with two staffs draped over his shoulders. Fai gave him a baffled look when he held the staff on his left shoulder out towards him. "Since you kept your part and have not taken any more food to hide, and studied hard, I'm delivering on my promise."
Fai was stunned. "Mine?"
"This is what you've asked of me, isn't it?"
"Yes, I did, but I didn't think you'd..." Fai reached out and took the heavy gold and fluorite staff. "But no one has ever kept a promise to me except for my brother."
"Trust is a hard thing to build between two people. I want you to remember that. It requires both giving and receiving. Things like lies and broken promises can destroy it in an instant."
"Thank you so much," Fai said barely above a whisper. He hugged the staff close to him and looked up at Ashura. The king looked as happy as Fai felt.
"Go put it away in your bedroom for later. We'll have an early dinner, and I'll help you with your studies. You hinted you were having trouble with something?"
Fai almost lied about his problems with understanding healing magic. He wanted to be Ashura's perfect ward and prove he could do it on his own. He really wanted Ashura to take pride in him, but the words Ashura just said about trust nagged at him. He stopped the lie before he made it and said, "Yes, sir. There is something I need help with."