They were back in Piffle World, at the mercy (well, she called it 'hospitality') of Miss Daidouji. She'd welcomed them and bid them to stay, at her residence, for as long as they needed... and on learning that Kurogane's artificial arm had been destroyed in the battle with Fei Wong Reed, she'd immediately set Piffle Corporation's medical R&D department to the task of making him a new one.
He'd protested that they had no currency, nothing of value that could be used to repay such a valuable gift; but she only laughed. That galled Kurogane, kept him awake late at night while waiting for the new components to 'integrate' with his nerves.
A beeping sound at his door indicated that someone on the other side was pressing the 'admit' button, and given the lateness of the hour, it could only really be one person. He sighed and raised his voice, making a painful attempt to sit up before flopping back down against the pillows. "Unlock," he commanded the room's computer, and the light level raised slightly as the door flashed green and slid silently open.
Fai padded in on quiet feet, wearing a bathrobe with the Piffle Princess logo patterned brazenly all over the fabric. "Kuro-chan should be sleeping, this late at night," he scolded as he perched lightly on the edge of the bed.
"That's a hell of a thing for you to say, considering you were the one who showed up in the middle of the night," Kurogane grumbled.
"If you were asleep like you should have been, you wouldn't have even heard the tone, and I would have gone away," Fai pointed out, scootching closer to Kurogane and starting to run his fingers lightly over Kurogane's right forearm. "But no, Kuro-stubborn is still awake, because he won't take his medicine like a good boy."
Kurogane looked away; he could hardly argue. "I don't like how it makes me feel all spacey," he grumbled. "Pain doesn't bother me. Being out of my head does."
"But something is bothering you," Fai said gently. "You've been in a terrible mood all day, ever since Tomoyo convinced you to let them start installing the new arm. This one is supposed to be better for you, you know. Since they have the chance this time to install it to fit properly, it won't hurt you or bleed like the last one did. It'll be stronger and lighter; you'll hardly be able to tell the difference from your real one. So what's wrong?"
The last words came out plaintively, and Kurogane felt bad; he knew that the subject of his missing arm upset Fai badly, since Kurogane had sacrificed it in payment for his life back in Ceres. He'd been the one to pay for the first arm, sacrificing the last of his magic; and he'd been the one to argue most enthusiastically for the replacement. He knew it was important to Fai, but that was exactly why...
Kurogane sighed and reached across his body, throwing away the white canvas cover that the doctors had draped over it before they left. Right now the arm was only a skeleton, only the first structural joists and movement cables installed. Even it responded to his thoughts, however, twitching and clicking when he tried to will his arm to move. Bare metal gleamed in the dim overhead lights. "You have your magic back again," he explained. "And I don't want this if it's going to keep us apart."
Fai pulled back and leveled a Look at him; halfway between an angry glare and a chastening stare of disapproval. "What?" Kurogane demanded, not feeling up to Fai and his mercurial moods tonight.
In response, Fai reached over and placed his hand on Kurogane's metal arm. "What the hell are you doing?" Kurogane demanded; he tried to move away, but Fai had him trapped between his body and the edge of the bed and he had nowhere to go. "Stop it!"
"Kuro-chama is in pain. Shouldn't I be too?" Fai countered.
"It doesn't work that way, dammit!" Kurogane got his other hand up between their bodies, and shoved Fai back. "This isn't some kind of competition to see who can be the biggest martyr! Just because I'm suffering doesn't mean you have to!"
Slowly, Fai sat back with his hands folded in his lap. The dim lights showed up the red mark on Fai's hand, before it slowly faded back into pale white. "Well, that's true for you too, isn't it?" he asked in a level tone. "Kuro-stupid shouldn't make himself suffer just because it would be more convenient for me."
Kurogane let out a huff of exasperation as he dropped his head back onto the pillow. His head was throbbing, as it often did after coming up against Fai's logic. "Don't do shit like that," he grumbled.
Fai smiled and leaned over him again - scrupulously avoiding the metal arm - and placed a palm over Kurogane's forehead. "Don't fret so much about me, Kuro-worrywart," he said softly. "Dr. Arathi says that the outer layers of the arm will be plastic and 'fleshtoner,' whatever that means - at any rate, they're not metallic. And for the rest of it, well, we can be careful."
"Hm," Kurogane said, not wanting to admit that he hadn't thought that far. With the first arm, Fuuma had apologized for it being 'incomplete,' but he hadn't translated that forward to thinking this new one wouldn't be. "Whatever."
Fai chuckled and sat back a bit, lightly brushing Kurogane's hair away from his face. "Kuro-sweaty is a mess," he said teasingly. "The sheets are all soaked with the sweat of your pointless macho stoicness. How about a sponge bath and I can change the linens, hmmm?"
"Yeah, all right," Kurogane grunted, hiding his relief at the thought of being clean and dry. He didn't object, either, when Fai leaned forward again and claimed his lips in a kiss.