AN: So, things continue to move on in Kurogane's and Fai's lives and they begin to move closer as their lives change.
One thing I wanted to let everyone know. This story is going to be about 19 chapters. I'll try to squeeze in one or two more somewhere, but I wanted you all to know. I like stories that are around 20-25 chapters, so I try to get my stories around there. I'm more of a one-shot person, so writing a chaptered fic was a bit of a challenge. But I wanted to try it!
Okay, enough of me. Enjoy, review, and follow!
Kurogane's mother became very sick after that.
She began having constant fainting spells and it seemed as though she always had a fever. Kurogane brought her all the fish he could catch and made sure she was getting all the rest she could, but nothing made a difference.
She was dying, and all they all knew it.
Kurogane leaned against the door as he watched Fai, who was sitting in the shrine and strengthening the barriers. When he finished, he turned and wasn't surprised to see Kurogane.
"Is she better?" Fai asked.
Kurogane shook his head and Fai stood up to leave the shrine and sit on the roka with Kurogane, looking up at the sky. Kurogane looked at him and frowned. "You need to rest," He said, taking in the bags under Fai's eyes and his pale, ashy skin. "You've been praying non-stop for days."
Fai shook his head and rubbed his eyes. "I'm fine. But the barriers—"
"Are fine," Kurogane said. "Go to sleep."
Fai swallowed. "But Lady Suwa is so sick," He whispered. "I want to be able to get those barriers as strong as possible so that Lord Suwa can come back."
"I don't think it's possible for the barriers to get any stronger," Kurogane said. "You keep on thinking of everyone else; you need to think about your needs for a change."
Fai smiled and leaned against Kurogane. "Wow, Kuro-rin is so sweet… I could fall in love right now."
Kurogane felt blood rush to his face and he looked away to hide it. "I-Idiot! Just go rest before I punch you so hard I knock you out!"
Fai laughed and stood up to go to his room. "As you command, Young Lord."
Kurogane crossed his arms and looked away and tried to ignore the fact that he wanted to hear a nickname.
Kurogane opened the door to the shrine, the pouring rain behind him not able to drown out the sound of Fai's insistent prayers.
"Fai," Kurogane said quietly, making Fai flinch.
"Don't," Fai whispered. "I'm praying for Lady Suwa."
Kurogane swallowed the lump in his throat and walked towards Fai, placing his hand on his shoulder. "Fai…"
Fai shut his eyes tightly. "Please… Please don't say it…"
Kurogane knelt beside Fai and pulled him into his arms for the first time to allow him to cry. Fai sobbed quietly into Kurogane's shoulder, and Kurogane let himself cry a few silent tears as well.
Once the two had wiped their eyes, they sat out on the roka, watching as the rain fell in front of them. "She wasn't in pain, was she?" Fai asked quietly.
Kurogane shook his head. "She was sleeping and just… Passed."
Fai nodded and looked down. The doctors would only let Kurogane and his father into the room where Kurogane's mother was lying on her deathbed, so Fai had gone to the shrine to pray helplessly while he waited for the news.
"How is Lord Suwa?" Fai whispered.
"He's still with her," Kurogane answered. "I think… he doesn't know what to do."
Fai clenched his fists. "Do any of us?"
Kurogane looked at him and put his hand over Fai's trembling fists. "Once this rain clears up, we'll have her funeral. A priestess from the capital will come to perform the ceremony, but once it's done, you're going to take over the position as priestess. Well… Priest, I suppose."
Fai nodded. "Until… You get married to the new priestess…"
Kurogane looked away. "Right…"
Kurogane wasn't sure why, but whenever someone spoke of him getting married, he felt uneasy. He didn't want to get married to some new priestess. A new priestess wasn't needed, after all. Fai could perform the duties and then some. All he needed was Fai.
Kurogane shook his head and looked at Fai. "I should get back to my father."
Fai nodded and stood up with him. They looked at each other for a moment before Fai looked down. "I'm so very sorry… For your loss…"
"Don't be," Kurogane whispered. "She was a mother to both of us. The pain we feel is the same."
Kurogane watched as more tears filled Fai's eyes and drip down his nose. "Right… Y-You should go back to Lord Suwa."
Kurogane nodded, and turned to leave.
It wasn't long after that that Kurogane's father was killed.
"This demon… It was stronger than any other demon we've faced," A warrior that had gone with Kurogane's father reported. "It was able to break through the barrier, and Lord Suwa told us all to stay back, but… It began killing the rest of the men, and only a few of us were able to escape. I'm sorry, Young Lord, but this is all we were able to retrieve."
The man lifted a silver sword, and Kurogane picked it up, looking down at the dragon's head that was carved into the hilt. It was the sword that had been passed down through the Suwa line, the prized Ginryu. "You damn old man," He mumbled to himself as he looked into the ruby eyes on the dragon's head.
Fai, who was standing behind him, took a step forward. "Kuro…"
Kurogane turned to him. "Go strengthen the barriers. I don't want another demon like that getting through. I'll go take care of this beast myself."
After Kurogane left, Fai immediately went to the shrine and strengthened the barriers as much as he could, not allowing himself a break until he knew Kurogane was safe.
Hours later, the door to the shrine opened, startling Fai. He turned, about to yell at whoever had interrupted him, but stopped when he saw Kurogane. He stood up and ran over to him, looking at the blood on his hands.
"Don't worry," Kurogane said. "This is from that demon. I didn't get a scratch."
Fai sighed in relief and shook his head. "Kuro… I'm so sorry… Your father… If I had only strengthened the barriers more, then—"
"It's not your fault," Kurogane said quietly. "My father… I think it was his time, and I think he was happy to have been able to die in battle like that. And now he's off with my mother, wherever souls go when they've died." He smiled a bit. "And besides, once you came in here to strengthen the barriers, the demons couldn't even get close."
Fai swallowed and reached up, putting his hands onto Kurogane's cheeks. Kurogane stilled and looked down at Fai, who was staring up at him with wet, blue eyes. "I'm sorry," Fai whispered.
Kurogane swallowed and lowered his gaze. "Don't be… Everyone dies…"
"It doesn't change the fact that it hurts," Fai whispered as he began to lower his hands.
Fai's eyes widened when Kurogane grabbed his wrists, keeping Fai's hands on his cheeks. "Just promise you won't die for a long time, alright?" Kurogane asked quietly. "A long, long time…"
Fai smiled a bit and nodded. "I promise."
Kurogane let out a soft sigh and nodded, closing his eyes. He didn't know what he felt for Fai, but he knew that he needed him right there by his side.
"So, how does it feel to be the Lord of Suwa?" Fai asked weeks later.
Kurogane had been at peace with his father dying. He said that his father probably knew that he was ready to take over his position and was ready to join Kurogane's mother in death. Fai was the only one who had been there when Kurogane had cried, and when the two were sitting together under the moonlight, Kurogane had threatened to kill Fai if he told anyone.
However, with his father's death came his responsibilities, and for the last few weeks Kurogane was stuck with different paperwork from the capital to officially name him head of the land.
After signing the last paper, Kurogane had gone out to the courtyard, where Fai was lounging on the grass. "It's fine now that I'm done signing things," Kurogane mumbled as he rubbed his hand.
Fai smiled and rolled onto his stomach. "What should I call you now? Kuro-lord?"
Kurogane glared at him. "You call me by my name, idiot."
"Hmm… I like Kuro-lord, much more," Fai said while grinning. A moment later, however, the smile fell. "So… Does this mean that you'll be finding a wife?"
Kurogane swallowed, not looking at Fai. "I'm in no hurry. If I find a wife, then you'll be out of a job."
Fai let out a small laugh. "Yeah… I guess that's true, isn't it?"
Kurogane looked at him. "Just don't worry about it, okay? There's no one I want to marry right now, so just keep the barriers strong."
Kurogane then got up and started heading to his room, and for some reason he thought that Fai looked a bit disappointed.
"Can I talk to you?" Fai asked a few mornings later while the two were eating breakfast. Kurogane shrugged and Fai took a deep breath. "I had a dream last night, and in it… The princess spoke to me."
"The princess?" Kurogane asked. "You mean that girl… What's her name… Tomoyo?"
Fai nodded. "Yes, Princess Tomoyo. She came into my dream, and I asked her about Suwa, and Suwa's new priestess. She told me that there wouldn't be a new priestess. She said, not until I'm unable to perform my duties."
"What does that mean?" Kurogane asked.
Fai picked at his food with his chopsticks. Although he learned how to use chopsticks eventually, he wasn't as good at using them as everyone else was.
"I think she meant to say that… I'm going to be Suwa's priest until I become too weak to perform the duties," Fai said quietly. "I think she meant that I'm the new priest." Fai shook his head. "So then I asked her about you. I asked if you would be getting married to someone who wasn't a priestess then, and she told me that fate has something strange planned for you."
Kurogane sipped at his tea and gazed at Fai, who was looking down at his food. "Strange, huh?" He mumbled quietly.
Fai smiled, not hearing Kurogane. "Oh well, let's wait and see what happens."