Chapter 1: Youth
Sakura and Syaoran stutter a lot when anyone brings up the topic of their obvious feelings towards one another – they stammer, and blush, and Mokona giggles when watching them because it’s quite clear that if the two of them got over being too embarrassed to say so, they’d see that they’re both equally mad about the other. Fai enjoys pushing them close, teases them gently, and leans back against the nearest wall and speaks to his grumpy companion about the sweetness of young love. Kurogane undoubtedly grumbles something back at him and stalks off – pursued, quite often, by Fai teasing him just as much, laughing and leaning and murmuring sly silly nicknames that cause Kurogane to give chase. (And this, of course, is classified as the mage being a pest, and the ninja being too grumpy for his own good. Always. Nothing more, and nothing less.)
Mokona giggles just as much watching Kurogane and Fai. Though Fai-mommy and Kuro-daddy are the ‘parents’ of their little group, they’ve clearly just as much growing-up to do as the kids.
Chapter 2: Do It In Drag
Originally written as a gift for my dear SJ, who wanted Fai in the Gothic Lolita style. Don't take it seriously (Fai is involved).
Black dress, white corset, puffy sleeves, white stockings, black shoes and gloves…it was an odd style. Lacy and frilly and over-elaborate, polarised between the tight waist and the sweeping bell-shaped skirt, the smoky make-up around bright eyes.
Syaoran nearly died when he saw Sakura in it, flushing to the roots of his hair as the princess bounded down the steps from the room she’d been changing in, the ribbon in her hair fluttering in the breeze.
“Sakura looks pretty!” Mokona chirped, dancing about on Syaoran’s head.
“Moko-chan really thinks so?” The princess beamed at the little creature, holding out her arms for Mokona to leap into and snuggle up to her.
“The prettiest!” Mokona affirmed, shamelessly echoing the thoughts that were speeding through Syaoran’s blushing mind. They thought there was a feather on the world they’d just recently landed on, locked away in the depths of a Lolita society (of all things). To get into the society – even as guests - they’d have to look the part.
“The dress…suits you, princess.” Syaoran gave his own compliment, only going redder when Sakura switched her smile onto him.
“Thank you, Syaoran-kun!”
Kurogane rolled his eyes at the display, deciding to look anywhere but at the two oblivious and/or stuttering lovebirds. He could see the stupid mage, however, had no qualms about smiling idiotically at the two youngest of their group, the blond’s arms folded across his chest as he casually leaned against the stairs he’d just come down after Sakura-chan, his own dress –
“What the hell do you think you’re wearing?!”
Sakura and Syaoran jumped at Kurogane’s roar, spinning around to see the ninja pointing rather accusingly at an unflustered Fai, the mage resplendent in an outfit startlingly similar to Sakura’s – only…shorter. Much, much shorter.
Fai pouted, and Kurogane tried vainly to ignore that the action emphasised the fact Fai was wearing red lipstick. “Kuro-chan doesn’t like it?”
“Don’t ‘Kuro-chan’ me when you’re the one wearing a dress!!”
Fai sighed rather melodramatically, reaching down to adjust the edge of his thigh-high stockings. The movement drew attention to the idiot’s long legs – Kurogane looked down, realised what he was doing, and then looked up again, glaring. “Kuro-daddy wants Sakura-chan to go into potentially dangerous territory alone? For shame!”
“Shame!” Mokona echoed, waving one chiding paw. “Kuro-daddy must think of the children!”
Kurogane growled, refusing to be distracted from his argument as he glowered at his self-appointed spouse. “Why the hell are you wearing a dress?”
Fai flapped a hand. “It’s a women’s-only society, Kuro-pu – only women can go into it.”
“I know that!” Kurogane fumed, angry at being mistaken for an idiot. “But why can’t the kid go? He certainly made a convincing girl when we were back in Shara.”
Syaoran flushed at the pointed reminder of their time in that country, he and Sakura having landed in a women’s-only performing troupe. He’d been forced into a dress then too, to hide as he’d stayed close to the princess –
“Because they’ve already met Syaoran-kun,” Fai rather patiently explained, absently twirling his handbag around with one hand, “and they know he’s a boy. So unless Kuro-pon is volunteering to put on a dress…”
“No!” Kurogane cut in rather hastily, hands instinctively rising in a defensive posture to block off attacking enemies – or in this case, Fai’s stupidity. He’d had quite enough bad experiences with frilly things already in his life. (Beware a Tomoyo bearing a needle.) “No, it’s alright.”
Fai only smirked at the quick refusal, hooking his bag on his shoulder once more before giving a twirl in his new outfit. The dress billowed up a bit around his long legs, the blond striking a pose and batting his eyelashes rather coyly at the ninja. “Doesn’t Kuro-daddy think mommy looks cute?”
Kurogane sputtered, turning an interesting shade of red. Mokona giggled into her paws. Syaoran was torn somewhere between blushing at the princess and checking to see his mentor wasn’t choking on his own tongue. Fai laughed, and Sakura tugged on the mage’s arm.
The man smiled down at the girl, meeting bright green eyes with his own brilliant blue. “What is it, Sakura-chan?”
Sakura beamed back at him. “Can I call Fai-san ‘Fai-chan’ now?”
Chapter 3: Kitchen Conspiracies
Sibling bonding between Kero-chan and Soel, post Sakura becoming Mistress of the Cards – for Oz
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“-And when he leaves the kitchen,” Kero whispered behind a tiny paw, the white Mokona lifting one ear for the minute guardian to confer their secret plan into, “we’ll pounce!”
“Pounce!” Mokona agreed enthusiastically.
Watanuki, icing a recently-made cake on the other side of the kitchen, twitched. “I can hear you two, you know.” Beside him, clad in an apron like his other…other self, stood Syaoran, sweat-dropping a little at the conversation.
“No you can’t,” Mokona insisted staunchly from her perch on the kitchen tabletop. Kero nodded agreement.
“Yes,” Watanuki retorted rather evenly – living in a shop where insanity was a regular thing either fried your nerves or drilled steel through their core -, “I can. And you’re planning to steal my cake.”
“We’re just a figment of Watanuki’s imagination.” Mokona continued, and made a wiggly movement that could have been considered hypnotic on any body shape but that of a fluffy meatbun. “Watanuki is paranoid.”
“Paranoid~!” Maru chirped, popping up behind the two mascots on the table, watching the cake’s progress just as eagerly as Kero and Mokona.
“Paranoid~!” Moro agreed, not far behind her.
Watanuki pointed to the door. “Out.”
As one, two girls, one teddy-bear with wings and one white meatbun whined. “But Watanuki-!”
Reluctantly, the troupe trooped out, Syaoran looking at Watanuki, his face decorated with a mild frown. He wasn’t the only one concerned by the oddly restrained request from Watanuki – Maru and Moro were the last to depart the room, hand-in-hand looking at the master of the shop, before trailing after the dejected Kero and Mokona. Four years and their effect on Watanuki Kimihiro: inwardly, a whole new person, outwardly, exactly the same.
There was the sound of voices from the main lounge so that was where the small group exiled from the kitchen went next, Maru and Moro pulling back the doors so they could all get inside.
“Oi, manjuu – that one was mine. You’ve had your five already.”
“Mokona thinks Big Puppy can’t count – Mokona’s only had four!”
“You’ve had five, you little -”
“Wah, Kuro-mean’s trying to steal Mokona’s share!”
“I am not!”
“The sake is Mokona’s!”
“…Sake?” The bright question from the white Mokona at the door had all three occupants of the room swivelling around to look at the four who’d just arrived: Fai, in the corner, tucked up beside the heater with his share of alcohol around him, nose-deep in a book, and Kurogane and the black Mokona in the middle of the room, apparently having a tug-of-war over the last bottle of sake.
“…No,” said Kurogane succinctly, knowing his bouncing travelling companion far too well, raising his real hand to emphasise his utter refusal to allow the mixing of Mokona and alcohol – only for the manjuu’s darker brother to take the opportunity to snatch the contested sake from the ninja’s hand and bound away with it quickly to the corner (and the relative safety of Fai). “OI!”
“Kuro-chan,” Fai started diplomatically as the man’s scowling shadow loomed over the pages of his book, ushering Mokona behind him with his elbow.
“Mokona!” cried the white Mokona, in what seemed like concern for her brother.
Kero decided that moment was his great chance to shine, and zipped forwards to hover obnoxiously in front of Kurogane’s face. “Leave it to Kero!”
Kurogane was suitably unimpressed. “Oh, great. It’s the flying stomach.”
Kero was not to be dissuaded. “Pick on someone your own size!”
Kurogane was heavily dissuading. “…You?”
Kero scowled, and transformed into his released form (“Who’s little, now?” “Get off of me!”), doing it in just the right place so that his newfound weight pushed Kurogane onto the floor and gave Keroberos himself a comfortable seat sprawled across the ninja. Mokona (the white one) bounced across to curiously poke the enraged Kurogane in the forehead with one paw (Kurogane yelled louder, but Keroberos was heavy and refused to budge), and her brother sat and happily chortled, downing the stolen sake. Maru and Moro decided to link hands and spin around in a circle, and Fai went back to reading, wholly unconcerned with his lover’s valiant efforts to dislodge a magical winged lion from his chest.
After half an hour struggling Kurogane eventually gave up and just flopped back on the floor in defeat. Mokona hopped up to sit beside Keroberos at that point, and had a bright conversation with ‘daddy’:
“Tell the fat cat to get off of me already.” (Kero had fallen asleep, and was snoring by that point.)
Mokona did an approximation of shaking her head. “Mokona can’t do that - Kero was defending Mokona!”
Kurogane frowned at her. “…So what does that make the stuffed animal? Your boyfriend?”
“Kuro-pui,” Fai remarked lazily as Mokona laughed, the mage not even looking up from his book, “I think that counts as incest.”
“You.” Kurogane glared at him. “Shut up.”
(Syaoran carried the cake he’d been icing with Watanuki through a little while later: the Mokona – and Keroberos – had the decency to wait until everyone had been cut a slice before pouncing on the remainder in glee, and then going on to eat Kurogane’s share as well. As a reward for Mokona-defence, the Mokona thoughtfully presented Keroberos with the strawberry they’d thieved off of the ninja.
(Kurogane swore at all three of them, and dumped them outside of the room.))
When I was thinking about this one, the only time it would work in canon chronology (or what we can make of it) is after the end of Tsubasa. The Mokona went to sleep whilst Clow was still alive, and Sakura only started capturing the cards when Clow was dead. Also, the Tsubasa crew never returned to Yuuko’s shop before everything was ‘concluded’ with Fei Wong Reed, so Soel would’ve had to wait to see her friends again. (Not that Yue would ever admit to liking either of the fuzzballs. X3)
Chapter 4: Living
The irony of what they’d wished.
They’d all wished for Watanuki to go on living, to break the nature apparently ingrained in him that led him towards non-existence, the nature of the world that logically insisted that the future Syaoran was fighting for was not supposed to be. Not when there were two futures, not when there was only supposed to be one.
(I will not let Sakura die.)
They’d all wished for Watanuki to go living – they loved Watanuki, a boy made from a wish, who was going on and on and on to grant wishes for others while the rest of the world passed him by, as those who had wished for him grew older and wiser and wearier and still hoped, still wished.
They’d all wished for Watanuki to go on living.
Now, as the shop’s owner, it looked like he would seemingly never die.
Chapter 5: Expectations
The reaction of Nihon when Kendappa-ou becomes empress.
There was consternation in the Court when Kendappa took the Imperial throne and sat upon it alone – unwed, unguided, and with absolutely no male anywhere in the periphery of her life. Everyone (the uninformed ones) had at least expected her to marry before stepping up to rule.
Kendappa-ou was an anathema to the expectations of the idiots – they’d expected a meek, mild lady to be married off to a young aspiring noble (every family had a match lined up waiting for her to survey), but they’d gotten an independent, strong soldier with cool dignity and a shrewd grasp on the empire she’d taken the crown for, no questions allowed. Ninja appeared from nowhere, headed by a woman just as young as their new empress, Souma, and the samurai were quick to fall in line after some of the more troublesome of their caste were knifed in the dark.
Amaterasu commanded respect, and its respect Nihon grudgingly gave.
Kendappa-ou would take no less.
Chapter 6: Nights of the Cursed
Valeria’s princess has news for her husband.
Written for a list of prompts Crys gave me a while back – this was number nine, the prompt’s the title.
The night is cold and clear and pretty, the breeze having blown away the clouds to leave a field of glittering stars in the skies overhead. The North Star, as ever, is brightest, a gleaming beacon to guide the lost of the world, the wandering, to give them some direction to turn to even in the darkest of times.
The princess of Valeria, the only female of the royal family, married in to the King’s younger brother, looks away from the window over the frozen city, the beautiful bleakness she has always known. Her husband stands at her chamber door, come to answer the call she’d sent out with a servant only a little while earlier.
“My lord.” Her voice is tired, and her husband catches the sound, expression flickering with worry. “Come in.”
He comes – as bid he comes, for he loves her -, and takes her hands beside the window, wrapping cold fingers with his warmer own. “What is it?”
She smiles at him, bittersweet and hurting, and lowers one of those gentle hands to her stomach, sweeping aside her elegant cloak of fur. “I’m pregnant.”
Her husband smiles and even though they’re both gilded in moonlight the expression is like the breaking dawn, his arms drawing her close to his chest, his lips kissing her on the forehead. He’s happy – it’s so very clear he’s happy, and she relishes the affection for a little while, indulging herself and trying to quell the aching hurt in her chest, in her heart.
She looks up, and tries to treasure his joy, even as she goes to shatter his dream. “It’s twins."
Chapter 7: Harp
Kurogane and Amaterasu don’t get along particularly well – but nor do they not get along. Kurogane spars with the empress on occasion, bears her teasing with the same grumpiness he bears the gentle pokes and prods at his person from Tomoyo-hime and Souma, but they don’t communicate enough to have developed anything other than a gradual respect for each other bordering on a distant sort-of friendship. Amicable acquaintances, as much as anyone ever dares to call either the empress or Kurogane ‘amicable.’
Still, Fai knows – even if Kurogane himself hasn’t figured it out yet -, that Amaterasu is part of what makes Nihon the place, of all the many worlds they’ve been to, that Kurogane always long to return to, that Kurogane calls ‘home.’ When the late summer wind blows there, when it’s dark and they’ve all been drinking the sweet sake that Nihon is so famed for and it rests warm in their bellies…then Amaterasu, Kendappa-ou, brings out her golden harp and Tomoyo-hime sings as her sister plays, and then Kurogane is happy. He draws Fai close, lets Fai rest his head on his shoulder, and they listen to the music, the wind through the trees and the creatures of the day winging their way to rest. And both of them are content.
Chapter 8: Strange
The first few months in Celes.
Those first few months were strange for everyone. Ashura-ou had always been a quiet, peculiar ruler, prone to impulses that were swiftly acted on and carried through – but the palace and his people had never minded, because those impulses had usually been to the great benefit of them all. Then again – Ashura-ou had never produced children before.
Those first few months were strange, and the servants watched as the solemn boy brought from nowhere slowly stumbled into Celesian life, his lips coaxed first into quiet words, and then into quiet words they could all understand. (Nobody knew what language it was the child spoke – but the king spoke it, and the boy liked to speak to no-one but the king in the first months, so it didn’t matter.) They washed him and they dressed him and they cut his hair, feeding him so that his cheeks lost their hollow look and rounded out into the freshness of youth. He had a fluting voice and the prettiest blue eyes, and it didn’t take long for the servants to dote on him – he stayed out of trouble, apologised for everything, and tried his best to do his best always, as if afraid they’d put him out again alone into the wild winter of their world. They spoke to him gently, but they could do nothing about the shadows in his gaze – and they tried to dispel them, they did, with treats and sweets and toys and playful teasing and games. Nothing could coax him to smile.
Those first few months were strange. Ashura-ou continued to be as he had always been – quiet, peculiar -, but he smiled a little more at the boy who trailed along at his side, his little shadow. There was no explanation given for the child and it looked like one would never be forthcoming – he was another object produced on whim, a child who didn’t really seem to know what childhood was.
Those first few months were strange. So were all the years after.
Chapter 9: Heartbeat I
Part of a short series that just wandered around itself, and doesn't fit anywhere else.
Every world has a heartbeat, a thrumming behind the little lives that tread upon its surface, a sound just out of hearing that all things bend to, long blades of grass in the wind, the falling snow curving and curling in whirling eddies in the air, streaming past the frosted window of a haunted child.
Fai had a heartbeat, a frantic fluttering inside his fragile chest, so fast in comparison to the beating underneath Celes’ ice, a tiny hummingbird half-mad caged between silken walls of flesh and bone. It was so quiet compared to the greater scheme of things, barely heard over the wind pulling around the castle, but still it fluttered on, sending life through snow-white skin, pale hands a smear on cold glass as Fai (the child, prince, king) looked out into the blur of the snowstorm through the flyaway gold of the long hair framing his face, the book he’d been reading forgotten in his lap.
Blue eyes followed the flight of a snowflake, chasing down the falling gem until it was swallowed by the black of the night, moving onto another flake that beat itself to death on the windowpane. Another, another, another, the sky committing suicide a thousand million times a second, and Fai dropped his hand to the chilled window latch, loosing it and letting the storm outside blast in.
His candle immediately flickered, guttered, and went out, the wind wiping out the flame’s existence in one sweeping gust. The snow swept into the darkness left behind, soaking through thin paper, thick cloth, freezing the skin of Fai’s face and hands. The curls of his hair were caught and blown back, cobweb strands that clutched at the passing snow flurries, blown into violent tangles their owner paid no heed to, gaze lost in the blizzard.
Figures danced there, in the night and cold, wraiths painted by the wind that seemed more real the longer they were stared at, until blue eyes could pick out the thread of slim fingers, the glimpse of a mysterious smile. A woman, pale and dark and svelte, with what could be stars in her eyes and magic in thick, heavy drapes on her sharp shoulders, knowledge seeping from the vision to the bewitched child watching her, wide-eyed, fingers numb –
“Fai.” One hand touched the shoulder of the enchanted boy to draw the child’s attention, long fingers bleeding warmth through Fai’s soaked robes, brushing aside matted tangles of gold to gain a firm grip against the biting wind, another arm outstretched to pull the window closed.
The silence after the wind’s howling seemed more deafening than all the noise of the storm.
“…Ashura-ou.” Fai twisted under the king’s grasp, flinging his arms around the man’s neck and pressing himself close, feeling heat seep from the adult’s frame, strong arms holding him safe against the visions of the night. He drew back a little; suddenly aware of the fact his drenched apparel was getting his guardian wet in such an embrace, the room around them in disarray. “I thought I saw -” How to explain? The book he’d been holding was ruined; his cheeks burned from the cold and embarrassment, and he hung his head. Strange sights in the blizzard no longer held the same fascinated sway over him that they had done only a few minutes before. “I’m sorry.”
One digit tapped under his chin, lifting his head to meet an understanding gaze. “…It’s alright.” Ashura pulled him close again, apparently uncaring of the state of his clothing. (The royal launderette and seamstress would no doubt pitch seven kinds of a fit.)
Fai made a soft, surprised sound when his king drew him closer still, the man sliding arms around the boy and lifting him up to carry him, Fai’s damp head against his chest. Ashura carried him to his rooms, the melting snow clinging to them both leaving a trail of water behind them that left the servants gawking, rushing to find mops. Ashura paid no mind to them and Fai didn’t care, curling into the warmth he was being offered with Ashura’s heartbeat in his ears, a steady beat that lulled him half to sleep even before he was placed on his bed, stripped of his wet clothing and rubbed down with a towel. It took little time to slip little Fai into a nightshirt and between the covers of his bed, the boy leaning against Ashura as his guardian plaited his long hair, fingers gentle and deft as they sorted the tangle into a golden rope.
“I saw…” Fai was drowsy, his eyelids drooping as he leaned heavily into Ashura’s chest. “There was a woman in the storm outside.” The magic woman with such long dark hair, and skin all made of snow.
“Let’s hope she got inside quickly then, hm?” Ashura held him loosely, smiling down at the half-awake boy. “It’s cold outside.”
“…Not that sort of woman,” Fai quietly protested, agreeable when Ashura brushed back the sweep of his fringe and pressed a fond kiss to the curve of the child’s brow. “She…she was….” Words evaded his sleep-clouded mind, slipping away into the darkness.
“Tell me about her in the morning,” Ashura suggested gently, laying the boy down and pulling the covers up. Fai sank into the soft mattress, eyes fluttering shut. “Sleep well, Fai.”
“…G’night,” the boy managed in a mumble, and then he dropped away swiftly into sleep. His hummingbird of a heart pitter-pattered on through the night, a tiny staccato under Celes’ throb.
Chapter 10: Heartbeat II
Every world has a heartbeat, even if it’s frozen in place and time in the last flickers of its life. A sound just out of hearing, just out of sight, locked up in a box in the Witch’s never-ending storeroom no doubt, where even she herself would never find it. (Both a blessing and a curse.)
They had stood together in the darkness looking through a portal to the light of the Witch’s garden, not quite hand-in-hand, but side-to-side, their own heartbeats the loudest sound against the static of the frozen world the woman lived in with her soulless dolls. One type of undead meeting another, the vampire twins against the witch who dealt in hearts.
“What will you give,” she asked Kamui, the one who’d instigated their business, violet fire burning in his eyes through the night’s machinery, “for that which you wish?”
“Anything.” A pure-bred vampire, Kamui had lived a long time – he knew the weight of his words, and the promises flowing from his lips. But the memories of pale hands in his brother’s fine hair still lingered, Subaru’s neck bared by a man he trusted near nothing precious to his heart. Two marks of possession that stung and burned. Any price under the sun would weigh less upon him than Subaru hurt. “Name your price.”
Yuuko looked past him, to Subaru quiet at his twin’s side. “Do you make the same wish?”
Subaru lifted his head to look back at her, his green eyes solemn. “I will go with him.”
“Then I shall grant your wish,” said the Witch of Dimensions, and her power touched each of the brothers, new knowledge and magic in each of their minds, “and you shall discover the prices you have paid for yourselves.”
Chapter 11: Heartbeat III
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Every world has a heartbeat, and sometimes it stutters and falters before speeding up in fright at the atrocities committed. Sometimes it rings and sometimes there are people that can hear the ringing, little doll-girls made by mad magicians in worlds full of sand and heat. Sometimes the ringing rings for them, and then they’re swept away, memory-less, to new worlds and new beats to retrieve that which is lost and discover that which needs to be found.
“She’ll be alright, Your Majesty.” Yukito laid a gentle hand on his bedridden companion’s shoulder, feeling the worry coming off of the usually rather stoic king of Clow. “The Witch of Dimensions will know what to do, and Syaoran-kun will always look after her.”
“That brat…” Touya, still injured from the poisoned blade he’d been sliced with whilst fighting against the strange soldiers on the night Sakura had been taken away, pulled a displeased face, disliking the thought of his little sister and the impudent kid together.
“To-ya…” Yukito’s voice was softly chiding, a lilting fondness as he leaned over and brushed some of the other man’s hair from his eyes. “He is her most special person.”
Touya grumbled again and his lover let him, the injured king losing his tension by sending imagined glowerings into the ether for the boy his little sister loved, too caught up in cursing the brat to worry himself back into a decline over Sakura. “I suppose there’s no accounting for taste.”
“No,” Yukito assured him, still smiling as he leaned over to kiss the other’s brow. “There is absolutely no accounting for taste with most special people.”
If some of the dialogue seems familiar - I took it from this piece, thinking I'd never use it, and reworked it to fit in one of my other stories, A True Elsewhere (on LJ).
Chapter 12: Yue
The Mokona think Yue doesn’t like them.
Yue doesn’t eat or drink or smile or play or do anything that Soel and Larg feel they can bond with sometimes, not like Keroberos does. When they’ve all devised some new great game to take to Yuuko or Clow Yue sits alone – reading, or just looking dull -, and scolds them all for all the tricks they’ve pulled, or are planning to pull. He’s boring, and Soel and Larg complain to Yuuko about it when she carries them home, letting them ride in her bag. Yue doesn’t like them, and they’re hurt.
Yuuko only smiles, pets them, and tells them that Yue shows his affection in a different sort of way. Soel and Larg try to bear that in mind, next time they meet up with Yue when Clow comes over (Keroberos has a summer cold, and has to stay home), but it’s hard, especially when Yue is busy telling them off for tugging at Clow’s robes to get his attention. They pout, and wail, and Yue gets fed-up with them and goes inside with Yuuko and Clow, and leaves the Mokona in the garden.
It rains later, and all the doors of the house are locked tight. Yuuko and Clow probably didn’t mean to do it, but they can get distracted when they’re together discussing magic, or drunk, or drunk and discussing magic, and Soel and Larg are left outside in the cold, soggy and wet. They huddle together, and tell stories, and eventually fall asleep. Yuuko and Clow will notice eventually.
Soel wakes up later wrapped in a fuzzy towel, warm and cosy and tucked up against a slowly-moving chest with Larg still snoring quietly beside her. She’s confused of course, but looks around, and eventually sees Yue’s sleeping face nearby – the angel is holding them both, and it’s his warmth that’s holding the Mokona close. His breathing is soft, stirring the strands of his silvery fringe, but he looks comfortable, so Soel nuzzles down against Larg again, and closes her eyes once more.
She’ll tell Larg about it later.
Chapter 13: Princess Princess
Tomoyo-hime meets Tomoyo Daidouji – for SJ
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tomoyo-hime, the Tsukoyomi of Shirasagi castle, the younger sister of Amaterasu – Imperial Empress of all Nihon -, dreamseer and maintainer of the wards that defended the country from invasion by monsters, was ten when she first had a dream about a version of herself from another world. The other Tomoyo was twelve, taller, and had a cute hat, so Tomoyo-hime told Kurogane about it in the morning over breakfast, daintily picking her way through a bowl of rice. (Kurogane was politely unimpressed – Tomoyo strongly doubted he was listening -, and disappeared to the training yard as soon as she’d finished eating to go slaughter a target-dummy.)
Tomoyo dreamed again, and once more found herself looking into a mirror of her own violet eyes, another face framed by dark, curling hair. The other Tomoyo seemed a little brighter, a little preoccupied, and, instead of expressing curiosity about why it was she was dreaming about a younger version of herself dressed in elaborate court robes that were better suited for the fifteenth century than modern Japan, distractedly inquired of the slightly smaller girl whether she might know a good colour that would go with magenta pink other than canary yellow? Only, that had been Sakura-chan’s colour scheme the month before, and Tomoyo did hate to repeat herself. Sakura-chan deserved something beautiful and unique, every time-!
Tomoyo-hime told the older girl that of course, the complimenting colour for the pink would very much depend upon the complexion of the one that was wearing it, and so the other Tomoyo proceeded to go into great depth about the particular, intangible green of her Sakura-chan’s eyes, her skin tone, her hair and blush and smile. She was unaffected by the fact she was only wearing her school’s winter uniform and was therefore probably quite underdressed for the company she was in – she was a Tomoyo, after all, and confident in herself -, though she did offer a brief apology as she took a seat beside the princess in the dream, and introduced herself: Daidouji Tomoyo, of Tomoeda, Japan. Again, Tomoyo-hime recounted this over breakfast the following morning to Kurogane – he was staring out of the window at some impossibly distant assumed threat so she didn’t think he heard her, so Souma hit him over the back of his head with her shoe and scolded him for his bad manners. (It was a little impossible to tell anything after that, as the two descended into yelling.)
The next time she slept Tomoyo dreamed of a pretty brunette. She was dressed in the same sort of clothes as Daidouji Tomoyo, and had green eyes and a brilliant smile. Sakura-chan. It was only a vision of the other girl – Tomoyo-hime couldn’t interact with her, only watch, see the brunette dash through a shower of cherry blossoms in some other world’s spring. When the other Tomoyo arrived Tomoyo-hime asked if that was the Sakura that belonged to her – and Daidouji’s smile was sweet, so sweet, but so terribly sad. That was the Sakura-chan she knew and loved, she explained, but Sakura-chan ‘belonged’ to someone else. He was called Li-kun, and Daidouji was so very glad Sakura-chan was happy. Tomoyo-hime tried to explain this to Souma in the morning, thinking she’d understand, but they were interrupted by four assassins and Kurogane. (Naturally, the assassins were dealt with, but it was Kurogane who broke the room’s antique table and flower-patterned screen.)
Tomoyo-hime didn’t dream of the other world’s version of herself for a long while after that. She saw Sakura-chan, though, and then she saw another Sakura, and another and another, all from different worlds, all with the same smile and warmth and radiating loveliness. And then one day Tomoyo dreamed of a certain special Sakura – though they all were, of course, special in their own way, this one… She was a princess, Sakura-hime, and she was about Tomoyo’s age, dressed in pink and white and laughing as she played in the sands of her desert country. And Tomoyo tried her very hardest to dream of that Sakura often, because she couldn’t quite bring herself to look away, her senses called to this child around which so very much revolved. She watched the girl’s life before it had even happened; saw laughter and strangeness, and then tears and pain and heartbreak. Sakura-hime and Sakura-hime, one and the same and two and different, each with a ‘Li-kun’, a Syaoran, a –
She saw Kurogane, older, grouchier, and colder, and another male beside him, thin and fair in a way Nihon men weren’t. Kurogane yelled at him a lot but Kurogane defended him – Kurogane looked after Sakura-hime too, and the boy that every Sakura seemed to have a version of, so that the boy would come into himself, and could defend Sakura himself.
Tomoyo-hime didn’t try to explain what she saw to either Souma or Kurogane the following day. Souma looked at her inquiringly but Tomoyo only drank her tea, listening to Kurogane go through some people that had been causing a ruckus in the courtyard outside her window. (Souma ran to said window after some time after there was a loud splash – apparently Kurogane had pushed some people into the sacred koi pond. Souma scolded and Kurogane yelled, and the two bickered for half an hour.)
Daidouji appeared in Tomoyo-hime’s dreams again a few nights later. The princess didn’t tell the schoolgirl how very lucky the older girl was – not every Tomoyo was lucky enough to be with a Sakura, after all; she’d seen countless Sakuras and so few Tomoyos beside them. Daidouji had a bunch of different flowers on her lap – flowers in red and pink and purple and yellow. She was holding them up against a bolt of white cloth, seeing how they matched the shifting hues there as the light played over them.
Tomoyo-hime approached, her own clothes rustling slightly, giving her away. She knelt down beside the other girl, taking a purple flower to hold in her own hands, smelling its sweet scent. “For Sakura-chan?”
“For Sakura-chan,” Daidouji Tomoyo confirmed with a nod, smiling a welcome.
Tomoyo-hime could do nothing but smile back, and dream of a hundred thousand different girls, most of whom she’d never meet. “How can I help?”
I got stuck with this prompt. I thought it would be rather sparkly nonsense at first, with the Tomoyos comparing dress notes, but then it wandered off into this odd direction. Most of it is in reported speech as, in TRC canon, most of what we hear of Piffle!Tomoyo and Tomoyo-hime saying to one another comes to us through reported speech.
I see Kurogane being about seventeen/eighteen in this? Souma’s a little older.
Chapter 14: Oz
Short crossover with The Wizard of Oz.
They arrived in a world on the edge of anarchy, social order breaking down in bright colours as strange creatures ran past singing about the end of the time of the witches and wizards – it was a time for peace, for munchkins and men. When they arrived in a sphere of light, bending in through reality from another world to land in a crowded marketplace, the surrounding people gawked, their little faces horrified and awe-struck as they stared upon the five travellers appearing from nowhere.
“Witch!” One of the little people cried out, pointing rather accusingly at a bemused Fai. Mokona had landed on his shoulder after the transport, and clearly this new world had never seen anything like the magical creature.
Fai smiled at the crowds, but Kurogane saw the slight crease at his brow indicating his mild consternation at being immediately taken for a girl. “I’m not a witch, I’m -”
“Witch!” The crowd had taken up the cry.
“Moko-chan,” Sakura whispered hurriedly as Mokona leapt into her protective arms, not liking the way the people of this new world were all staring at her friend, “is there a feather in this world?”
Mokona nodded. “Mokona can feel it – it’s really strong!”
Kurogane had his hand on his sword, Syaoran taking up a defensive stance before the princess. The little people around them didn’t look like much of a threat, but the expression on their faces wasn’t particularly welcoming.
“Witch!” The crowd cried out again, pressing closer, and suddenly there was a splash –
Fai stood, dripping wet, having just had a large bucket of water thrown at him. His hair stuck to his forehead, the white fur around his collar and wrists looked particularly soggy, and his blue eyes were very, very confused. “What-?”
The little person who’d just thrown the water looked rather abashed, staring at the very solid, very confused-looking Fai. Syaoran, Sakura, Kurogane and Mokona all looked at their soggy Fai as well, before looking at the bewildered crowds.
Fai was, the little water-flinging munchkin later rather ruefully confessed as he led them towards where they thought the feather could be, supposed to have melted. If Fai had been a proper witch. But he hadn’t melted, obviously.
“Pity,” was Kurogane’s only response.
Chapter 15: Les Lis au Fond du Lac
Little Fai in Celes.
Fai doesn’t understand the point of the party. It’s obvious in the way he shies to the very edge of the ballroom floor, ducking away from all the other children in the room, wrapping himself up in the large drapes that cover the windows and walls to keep out of sight of concerned adults. He is a ward – the king’s beloved ward, charmingly polite and unassuming on the sparkling edges of palace life. Always eager to help, but so quiet – everyone wants to see the young boy happy, smiling – Fai, won’t you smile? Are you sad? – and Fai tries to oblige them with his too-serious eyes, but…it…just doesn’t work, with Fai.
No – it’s not something you need to apologise for.
(Happiness can’t be forced, but the way the Celesian people try to approach Fai’s problem teaches the young boy it can, it can, it can. Anyone can be happy, if they try hard enough, and that’s…
Smiles are wonderful.
The point is lost somewhere.
(Smiles can’t really be forced. They’re found, with happiness, in places unlooked-for; a startled brilliant bird from the bush takes wing.)
The problem’s made worse.)
Ashura-ou had asked Fai to come to the party, to the Sweetheart’s Ball in the palace on Lover’s Day, and so Fai had come, has come – isn’t he sweet? – to the party, dressed in white, soft lavender and baby blue, with a lily in hand to give to some pretty girl or boy, because that’s what everyone does on Lover’s Day, everyone had said – You give your flower to the one you love the most.
Fai had tried to give his flower to Ashura-ou at breakfast, when the petals were still crisp and new, fidgeting with it on his lap instead of eating his pastries. Ashura-ou had looked at him, asked what was wrong – and Fai had thrust the lily at him then, for you, almost smacking his guardian in the chest with it.
No – Ashura-ou has gentle hands, gentle hands and a gentle smile explaining a world Fai doesn’t understand – thank you, Fai; this makes me very happy, but this is something different. And he’d explained, sort of, but Fai had left still lost, come to the party still wandering, confused by some of the flowers others had tried to give him – shouldn’t you have a whole garden by now? – until they’d left, disappointed that the king’s darling ward wouldn’t take their gifts.
It’s a different type of love that they mean, Fai.
Are there many types of love?
An infinite number, more than all the stars.
(Infinity’s far too – cold – big.)
Fai doesn’t understand, but Fai, (too) little (too old, oh, the things you’ve seen) Fai, knows love, some love, how it can be sore and fierce and wild and hurting until it goes numb, stepping into the palace warmth after digging amongst the snow and ice outside all day and feeling his hands and fingers in pain.
Fai attends the Ball, as Ashura-ou had asked him to, but he keeps out of the way and he keeps his flower, his crumpled lily, in his grasp, until the early morning of the next day, when he sneaks down to the inner part of the inner palace, through the doors and the halls and the rooms until he finds the place where he keeps his heart.
Fai’s pool is always serene in the mornings, and the water keeping Fai’s resting place safe is the same temperature as Fai(FaiYuui)’s skin. His hands are so small, palm and fingers spread against the water’s surface, and the lily drifts, pushed out to float above a sleeping (dead) boy.
It’s a cursed man who knows all his own stars, Fai. Ashura-ou is wise, so Fai had listened – listens – attentively to him, when the king speaks. (This is how you smile.) We need things to surprise and delight us.
FaiYuuiFai gives his dead brother his flower, because he loves Fai the most, always has, always will, and wants no surprises – ever, ever! – with that.
(Not too far in the future, he will make Chii, lovely Chii with the golden-long hair and their mother’s face, and she will carefully carry what’s left of the lily petals down down down to where Fai lies, heart to heart and forever, sleep well, wake up soon, Fai, I miss you.)
Ashura-ou finds his charge sleeping by the pool-side an hour or so later, knowing where to look when Fai’s bed had been discovered – not for the first time, and certainly not for the last – empty. Fai wakes to the brush of pale fingers through his curls, blinking sleepily up at the king and trustingly, ever naïve and misunderstanding, reaching for Ashura-ou’s offered hand.
Fai will learn.