Just a few things about this story before we get started! I tried to get each chapter 1300-2000 words, and most of them are more around 1600 words.
So this story is a complete AU with no spoilers (well maybe some implied spoilers). This is my take on, what would happen if Fai had ended up being raised in Nihon with Kurogane? So please follow, review, and most importantly, enjoy!
Fai wasn't like anyone else in Nihon. From his golden hair to his pale skin to his bright blue eyes, he was the exact opposite of everyone in Nihon, especially Kurogane.
And Kurogane didn't like Fai. Not one bit.
He had been only seven when he first met Fai. His father had left Suwa and had gone to the capital for a day and when he came back, there was a weird little kid hiding behind his leg. Everyone had gathered around Kurogane's father, the Lord of Suwa, partly to greet him, but mostly to wonder about the new child.
Kurogane's father had grinned his famous grin and leaned down to pick the kid up, setting him on his shoulder like he would usually do with Kurogane, which made Kurogane clench his jaw and grit his teeth together.
"Everyone," Kurogane's father said in his loud, booming voice. "This is Fai. He is going to be living in the estate with my family from now on."
The murmurs travelling around the square drowned out Kurogane's cry of disbelief. How could someone so weird looking be honored enough to live in the Suwa estate? Hell, the kid wasn't even looking at the people! He was just staring down at his hands shyly, for god's sake. That wasn't the kind of person the Suwa estate needed.
Kurogane's father held up his hand to silence the people, still smiling. "The empress introduced me to Fai while I was in the capital, and told me that Fai has incredible magic that would greatly benefit Suwa, so from now on, he will be the priestess' helper."
That made everyone happy, seeing as how the priestess, Kurogane's mother, was constantly strengthening the barriers, which was taking a toll on her already poor health. With someone there to help her, it would give her time to rest.
But Kurogane was still angry because his father was smiling at that freak like he was his own son, and his mother was so kind, he knew that she would probably welcome him with open arms as well.
No, Kurogane did not like Fai at all. In fact, he was sure that he hated him.
Kurogane walked quietly on the roka surrounding the estate towards the dining room. His father had told him that they were going to have a large dinner that night, so he was excited. He didn't eat anything the whole day in anticipation.
He opened the sliding door and stopped when he saw his mother kneeling before Fai. He was wearing old, dirty clothes that were torn around the edges, and Kurogane's mother was pulling on one of his sleeves.
"I'll give you a bath tonight, and then give you some clean clothes," She said in her soft voice. Fai had a light blush on his cheeks as he nodded, a large smile pulling at his lips.
"There's my son!" Kurogane's father said, grabbing Kurogane and picking him up to spin him around.
"Father! Stop!" Kurogane cried, even though he loved the feeling of flying through the air.
His father laughed and put him down on one of the mats in front of the table that already had different dishes covering it. "Kurogane, this is Fai. Fai, this is my son, Kurogane."
Fai turned and smiled at him, waving a bit.
Kurogane scoffed and crossed his arms. "Why isn't he saying anything?"
"Hey, why are you being so rude?" His father asked, looking at Kurogane with a scowl. Kurogane just pouted and looked away, feeling annoyed by Fai.
Eventually, everyone sat down, and Fai sat across from Kurogane. Kurogane watched as Fai tried to use his chopsticks, failing at every attempt and eventually settling on eating with his fingers.
Kurogane's father let out a loud laugh. "The empress wasn't lying when she said you don't know much!" He bellowed, making Fai jump and look up. He turned to Kurogane, a soft smile on his face. "The empress told me that they found Fai wandering through the city one day, and he couldn't remember anything but his name. He was only taught a little bit of Nihongo before coming here, so your mother is going to teach him. Make sure you're nice to him, alright?"
Kurogane mumbled an affirmation and picked up his chopsticks to begin eating. He heard a clatter in front of him and looked up to find Fai dropping his chopsticks onto the table. "S-Sorry," Fai whispered as Kurogane's mother picked them up and taught him how to hold them.
Kurogane shoved some rice into his mouth, watching with annoyance as Fai struggled to hold a piece of fish. The fish eventually fell from his shaking chopsticks onto the table, and Fai bit his bottom lip in embarrassment. Kurogane smirked and reached across the table to pick the piece of fish up and pop it into his own mouth. He loved the way Fai looked down in embarrassment; it made him feel superior.
"Are you going to begin training Fai tomorrow?" Kurogane's father asked as he sipped at some sake.
His mother smiled and nodded, and Fai looked up at her as if knowing that they were talking about him. "Yes, I can already tell that Fai has strong magic. I think that he'll be able to learn very quickly," She said.
Kurogane scowled and climbed into his father's lap, grinning up at him. "And you'll take me out to train with my sword, right?"
Kurogane's father grinned and ruffled Kurogane's hair. "Of course. Maybe Fai can come with us too."
Kurogane's smile fell, and he turned to Fai, who tilted his head. Fai pointed to himself, obviously not knowing what was going on. "Swords," Kurogane's mother said to Fai slowly. "Practice."
Fai blinked and nodded. "You… Good?"
Kurogane smirked and crossed his arms. "I'm the best in all of Suwa!"
His father laughed and shook his head. "My ever humble son." He smiled at his wife. "Why don't you and Fai go bathe? I'll take Kurogane to get ready for bed."
Kurogane watched as his mother led Fai to the baths and turned to his father. "Why did you bring him here, anyway?" He asked.
His father chuckled and stood up to lead Kurogane to his bedroom. "Fai had no home in the capital, and they had no use for him there, with all of the strong priestess'. But here, we have a lot of room, and your mother could use all the help she can get."
Kurogane pouted and crossed his arms. "I can help her."
His father picked Kurogane up easily and smiled at him. "You can protect her, and Fai as well. The other kids might be mean to him, so make sure they don't do anything, alright?"
Kurogane frowned but nodded. "Alright. I won't."
Kurogane groaned when he heard Fai's voice and kept on walking. In the few weeks that Fai had been there, he had been picking up Nihongo pretty quickly, and now that he was able to hold a conversation, he wouldn't stop annoying Kurogane. "Aren't you supposed to be with mother?" Kurogane asked as Fai caught up to him.
Fai smiled a bit. "Lady Suwa ask me to buy herbs! I think we can go together!" He said, his accent heavy.
Once they were outside the walls of the estate and on the dirt road of the town, Kurogane turned to him. "Why would I want to go with you?"
Fai's smile fell and his eyes widened. "I-I thought—"
"That we're friends?" Kurogane interrupted. "Well we're not. Leave me alone from now on, okay? I don't wanna be seen with you."
With that, Kurogane turned and kept on walking, leaving Fai shocked and alone behind him.
"Hey, that's Fai, right? The boy who's living in the estate now?"
"Young Lord, is that him?"
"Of course it's him, who else looks like that?"
Kurogane watched with his friends as Fai walked down the dirt road alone, a sac full of jars of herbs in his hands. Being weaker than she would like, Kurogane's mother often sent Fai out to run her errands for her. Not that Fai minded; Kurogane had overheard him saying that it helped him learn which herbs to use for different medicines when a servant had offered to do the shopping for him.
"Hey!" Kurogane yelled, startling Fai. "Come over here!"
Fai looked up at them and walked over slowly. "Y-Yes, Young Lord?"
Kurogane snatched the sac from Fai's hands and opened it, pulling different jars out. "I thought you were supposed to be learning how to strengthen the barriers, not running errands like a servant. What, did mother decide that you're not as powerful as everyone thought?"
The other kids laughed and Fai's face became flushed. "I-I offer to do it!"
"What's up with his voice?"
"What, is he dumb or something?"
"Why can't he speak properly?"
The kids laughed and Kurogane threw the sac back at Fai, the jars hitting him square in the chest and causing him to stumble back and fall onto his butt. The other kids laughed harder and Kurogane smirked before reaching out and grabbing the sleeve of the kimono Fai was wearing to pull him up.
He looked at the kimono, which was made from a simple, cream-colored silk. "Where'd you get this, huh?" Kurogane asked as he pulled the sleeve again. "Last time I saw you, you were wearing some kimono made out of cheap cotton."
Fai tried to pull his arm away and looked down. "L-Lady Suwa gave to me…"
"What, for being such a good servant?" Kurogane asked, making all of the kids burst out into laughter.
"I-I have to go, Lady Suwa is waiting," Fai whispered as he finally pulled his arm away and turned to run away.
Kurogane frowned, feeling just a bit of guilt when he saw Fai wiping his eyes as he ran.
From then on, the other children in Suwa decided that it was okay to pick on Fai. Even if Kurogane didn't instigate it, if Fai ever walked by the group, someone would do something to humiliate him. Even after being in Suwa for a few months and becoming fluent in Nihongo—if not for a strong accent—the kids still picked on him, finding anything and everything they could to make fun of him.
"Hey look, the errand boy has a new kimono!" A girl said as Fai walked passed them, wearing a pale blue silk kimono.
One of the boys ran behind him quietly and pushed him, causing Fai to trip and fall forward. The kids began laughing, even when Fai sat up and rubbed his chin, which was scraped and bleeding. Fai looked down at his kimono, his eyes widening when he saw it stained with dirt and torn in some places.
"Look! He's crying!" Another girl yelled when tears filled Fai's eyes.
"What a baby!" A boy laughed as Fai got up and ran away from the group.
Kurogane ran after Fai, ignoring his friends as he followed the blonde back to the estate. He watched Fai walk into one of the rooms by the shrine and hid outside of it.
"Oh, Fai…" He heard his mother say softly. "What happened?"
He heard Fai sniff. "I-I tripped and fell," Fai said quietly. "I'm really sorry, Lady Suwa…"
"There's nothing to apologize for, Fai, it was just an accident," Kurogane's mother said.
"But I ruined the kimono you gave me!" Fai cried, and Kurogane heard him sob.
"It isn't your fault, Fai," His mother said. "And one kimono doesn't mean anything. I'll have a new one made for you right away. In the mean time, let's clean up that cut, okay?"
Kurogane stepped away from the door and walked away, feeling his anger intensify.
Yes, he definitely hated Fai.
PS: in case you don't know, roka is what those wooden decks outside of traditional Japanese homes are called. They kind of act like outdoor hallways