Beta: mysocalledhell Thank you!
Warnings: Angst? It's CLAMP, of course there's angst...
Spoils: Spoils stuff through Celes Country and chapter 165, though the events here are only in chapter 133
Word count: 1147
Summary: Sakura breaks some of Fai's convictions.
Prompt: 6/29 caressing over the clothes - 'Something must be broken because it wasn't like this before.'
She came like a ghost out of the rain.
Fai smelled the blood on her, all over her, patterned on the ground behind her as she staggered towards the three of them as they stood waiting for her. With his new senses and powers, the fact that she was covered in blood drowned nearly every other consideration.
The waiting had been hard. Inside, the agony of everything that had just happened to him was nearly too much, suffocating; but some of it was lifted, relieved, by her drunken stagger towards them.
She fell to her knees before him. He took the cloak off his own back and threw it around her as quickly as possible. To get her out of that awful rain. To get the scent of her blood dampened down to where he could bear it. He placed his hands on her shaking shoulders.
She was alive. She had come back.
And then with just two words she stopped his heart. "I'm sorry," she said.
She kept speaking, even when every breath was a struggle, even when he had to lean in to hear her at all. "I wasn't able to do anything when Fai-san was in pain. I'm sorry. You are definitely suffering more than I am right now..."
He tried to protest around the lump in his throat, the hate for Kurogane's choice, and the despair wrapped around his heart. "Sakura-chan..."
"... Even so... I am glad... you are alive." She looked up at him. He now saw her bruised eye, her left hand lacerated, shredded, and bleeding through the gloves. But those jade eyes filled only with sorrow for him.
That look shattered his anger, his self-hatred for having lived yet again, his resignation to what was to come. Up to now, he thought of her as being bound to the same implacable fate that bound him. But here she was fighting so hard, enduring so much, to break it all.
"... I'm sorry..."
When she fainted, when her slender frame collapsed against him, he caught her to his breast, to his aching heart, and he wrapped his arms around her, cherishing her even more for knowing what she truly was.
He felt the other two move close to his back. They didn't touch her, even the one with more claim, in some ways, than anyone else in existence. They both backed off as he gently turned her, picked her up, and stood with her. She was so light. He cradled her face against his throat to keep the rain off of her even as it bit his own skin, the rest of her he wrapped tight in his cloak. He brought her inside.
They did what they could to make her more comfortable, and no one spoke of making Fai let go of the slender princess. When Sakura awoke, she simply nodded at Mokona. "I have the price. I need to give it to her."
Little Mokona trembled, but it lit its forehead gem and Yuukio appeared.
During Sakura's payment, Yuukio's acceptance and later explanations, Fai held Sakura quietly. He didn't need to listen, he knew everything spoken of and more.
He held the girl close, her slender body warm and trusting against his. He could feel each breath as she took it, the faint shivers of her muscles against the pain, and every turn of her head. Her jade eyes were wide as she watched the Time Witch speak, but only he could see the sadness, the knowledge, behind those watchful eyes.
Her body. The witch spoke of the body's journeys as if Sakura was just some thing. He and the witch both knew that this Sakura could be considered just a made thing. Not... he couldn't even get himself to think it. She was real, someone real, hurting and feeling and trying. Held within his arms, on his lap, in his cloak. And Fei Wan Reed's plans treated her as nothing more than some prize.
He wished he could just hold her forever. Just keep her safe here, now, filling his arms, his hands, and his lap, sheltered by his body against all the pain she had endured and would still have to endure.
Then the Time witch looked at him and said, "Fai, it was the same in your case. Surely you understand now what was planned and what wasn't."
Oh, he knew the plan.
Agony blazed in his heart and touched off memory. That cold, hard memory of snow and stone, steel and shadow, despair and the same desire for death that still ate at his heart. The blood on ruined fingers had been his own, but his focus was not Sakura's focus. His own focus was far more selfish.
"I want to die."
"I want to die."
"I want to die."
He felt that slender body in his lap, in his grasp, in his care shift; and another memory suddenly slid into his head. "But before that..." Helpless longing washed through him. "I want to be loved by someone... before I die..."
His grip tightened on the slender form he held.
Sakura looked up at him, her jade eyes luminous. She couldn't know, could she? He was going to betray them all and they should kill him at the betrayal. He should have died earlier. He'd tried to die before he betrayed them. He had tried to reseal Syaoran's eye, knowing it could kill him so he wouldn't have to do what was planned. She should have known that. But her bloody hand crept up, closed on the hand he had wrapped around her shoulder.
And something in him snapped, his despair, his conviction of the ruin of all hopes.
Sakura loved him as part of her group, cared what happened to him, even knowing, even being shadowed by the same thing that shadowed him. Her hope wasn't for herself, it was for him.
Fai now had something he could do. He could do anything she wanted of him, anything she needed of him. Even if it was beyond him to escape his curse, his doom, he could do what was right in front of him. He could do everything in his strength to help her in her struggles.
Gently, he smiled a smile that wasn't the mask he'd held for so long. He knew that his own sorrow for them all still showed even in the quirk of his lips, but for her he couldn't hide his true feelings.
Fai gently caressed Sakura's bloody hand. Giving that light touch felt different than his frantic need to protect her, to keep her. It was his promise. He couldn't keep her from getting hurt. So be it. "Syaoran" had made that clear. But knowing he might be loved, he could now hold enough faith in her to let her do all she needed to do.
Now, it all felt different.