Fandom: Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles
Rating: PG for Shonen-style violence
Warning: This spoils various parts of the lands of Yasha and Yusha as well as the return to Ceres.
Word Count: 3800 words
Prompt: Something in a hurt/comforty vein, where either Kuro or Fai are injured and the other one is helping to treat the injury. Example: Fai is injured in some way and kind of in shock, and tries to hide it, but Kurogane corners him and forces him to get help for it. However it doesn't have to be that specifically, any kind of hurt/comfort that you have an idea for would be good.
Author's NoteI did this for mikkeneko for the gulf_aid_now auctions. She made the winning bid on a fanfiction by me, and donated to the Nature Conservancy! *dances about* So the prompt, pairing, and fandom are her request of me. I promised 1000 words, but the story demanded a bit more, and I was happy to follow along. Thank you, mikkeneko, for supporting those in need!!!
Disclaimer: I do not own Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle or its characters. I do not make money from these writings.
The silver edge of the full moon appeared enormous on the horizon of the night.
Kurogane checked over his shoulder and saw Fai's still face watching him with eyes as dark as the sky. They'd been in the Country of Yama for over two months, and there had been no sign of Syaoran, Sakura, or the little white steamed bun. They still couldn't speak with each other, and Kurogane found it nearly impossible to figure out what was going on behind Fai's mask of a smile.
However, when the world changed, they went into battle together.
Kurogane took all the near enemy, his motions as deadly and decisive as a dragon's strike. His sword, Sōhi, sang with the speed of his swings, and they swept the light-clad warriors aside. Others attacked from his back, and he heard the swift thwip thwip thwip of Fai's arrows flying to their targets, and then there were only the cries of the defeated all about them.
They fell so easily, Kurogane found himself tired of fighting underlings and weaklings.
A resplendent warrior of the Ashura Clan rode a little ways away, ignoring them. The man's armor shone like a bonfire under the moonlight, his golden hair fluttered like a banner to his knees, and his dragon steed was a deep blood red.
"I challenge you!" Kurogane bellowed, his stance wide, using Sōhi to point at his enemy. "I will fight you."
The man glanced at them, laughed, and then leaned forward in his saddle as he and his beast charged, for all that Kurogane was on foot.
Kurogane grinned and waited, knowing the enormous momentum of the four-footed dragon would add all its weight to the strike. This was a fight worth having.
Waiting and watching to the very last instant, Kurogane fell to the side, hearing the whistling edge of his enemy's sword as it swung very near his ear. He wrestled Sōhi about and up, using the angle of his blade to take advantage of the very momentum the rider had hoped to use and cutting into the man's side. The beautiful armor parted, as Sōhi's edge was too keen even for the magic wound in the metal, and blood sprang forth.
Rather than falling back in horror or dismay, the warrior grinned, switched dominant hands on his sword, and kicked his steed into another charge. This time, he put the blade into constant motion, making it nearly impossible to avoid as Kurogane had done before.
Kurogane laughed. This was how it was supposed to be, someone bigger, stronger, and smarter than him coming at him, not a weakling he was ashamed to beat, but someone truly worth fighting.
"Senryu-hikôgeki!" A sparkling dragon of light leapt from Kurogane's blade, and struck the rider with a roar.
Surprised at the named attack from some unknown foot solder, the rider was knocked from his steed, and two swift arrows pinned him to the ground.
"Hey! I was fighting him!" Kurogane yelled at Fai.
Fai shrugged in seeming confusion and smiled at Kurogane. The blankness of his black eyes made Kurogane want to throw something. Just a little calmer with the distance and time, he suddenly remembered that his liege, Princess Tomoya, had cursed Kurogane to lose some portion of his power every time he killed someone. He frowned at Fai.
Had the magician just saved him?
Kurogane growled in discomfort and stomped over to the dragon steed, catching its reins. It bowed its head to him and followed when he tugged. Kurogane had seen steeds change hands from one side of the battle to the other. There was no other looting, however, which impressed Kurogane. It seemed that each of the lords, Ashura-ô and Yasha-ô were wealthy enough to not only supply their men, but also bury their dead with all honor due.
Kurogane's prize, however, drew other opponents.
These were mounted as well. Silver-haired identical twins with armor the color of the sun and pointed elongated ears like their lord, Ashura-ô. Kurogane glanced at Fai and saw black eyes widen, as the slender magician took one faltering step backward, his face going as white as when he'd seen the statue of Yasha in the country of Shara and heard the name of Ashura, the God of Conflict.
Frowning, Kurogane studied the twins, seeing nothing that was particularly frightening. They were beautiful and looked like strong fighters, but Kurogane had seen Fai face much worse in the past. Why did these two brothers bother such a combat-veteran?
When the two drew near enough to meet Kurogane's eyes, one of them saluted him, drew his sword and instead of charging, called out, "Byakko buttobasu!"
A tiger made of white light pounced from the sword, striking at Kurogane with fang and claws. He blocked with Sōhi's flat, one hand on the hilt, the other against the flat of the blade to put all his strength behind the block. Even so, the force of the strike numbed his shoulders, and he roared, "Hikôgeki!"
An explosion lit the perpetual night of the castle, when the dragon and the tiger met in mid-air.
The other twin swung a chain and sickle, the arcs of metal reflecting the moonlight like liquid silver. Kurogane risked a glance at Fai and saw the blond man's face harden as he brought his bow up and drew an arrow to his cheek. Satisfied that his partner faced his battle, Kurogane concentrated on his own fight, even as he heard the snap crack of the arrow being intercepted by the chain.
Called attacks flashing brighter and brighter between Kurogane and the twin, as they leaped, dodged, and clashed. Eventually, half the battlefield grew still, watching them fight. The smile on Kurogane's face grew wider and wider, even as the purple eyes of his opponent grew grimmer and grimmer.
That was when Kurogane pushed a fraction harder, managed to urge his steed on just half a step sooner, so that Sōhi flew a split second faster, and he threw his opponent from the saddle. With a triumphant yell, he went in for the kill. Still unpracticed with this new steed, Kurogane couldn't figure out how to get it to rear to add its weight to his strike, but he did what he could with a two-handed downstroke. The slender twin had no where to go, but managed to get his sword up just enough to send Kurogane's sword into his shoulder rather than his head.
A choked-off cry from the other battle yanked both Kurogane and his opponent's attention over to see one of Fai's arrows sticking out of the other twin's shoulder. To Kurogane's horror, however, Fai nocked, pulled, and then hesitated that one vital instant when he could make sure his opponent would never get up again. The silver crescent hissed through the air, and this time Fai was the one that cried out as the edge sliced through his side and knocked his slender form into the dirt.
That was when the moon reached its zenith, and the castle in the sky dissolved into the cool, dark country of Yama.
There was a concerted sigh as all the troops dropped their guards, picked up their friends, and started limping to the barracks. Kurogane rode over to Fai's still form. He got down to touch the slender white throat and found the pulse under his fingertips strong and even. Fai's eyes opened, and then he opened his mouth, but closed it again to quirk a rueful silent smile that made his now black eyes look fathoms deep.
At that moment, Kurogane would have given anything to have Fai call him some stupid, cutesy name in a language he understood. Instead, he bent and gathered Fai into his arms, and felt Fai's arms go about his neck as he picked him up, still shocked, even after all this time, at the magician's feather-light weight.
A presence moved in behind Kurogane, and he turned to meet the power that flowed from somber lord of Yama, Yasha-ô.
Yasha-ô inclined his head to Kurogane, and Kurogane bowed low, even with Fai still in his arms.
"Is your friend wounded?"
"Yes, Yasha-ô," Kurogane said, head coming up to look the lord in the eye. It was abrupt behavior, but he chose it on purpose to give the lord a better idea of exactly who he was. He'd acknowledged Yasha's position as lord of his country with the appropriate honorific, but once acknowledged, he could not bow too low, for his true fealty was to his Princess. "Are there medical facilities to take him to?"
"I will lead you there." To Kurogane's surprise, the big man alighted from his dragon steed in a motion as graceful as a song, his long hair flowing about him with a scent like a cloud of funeral incense. In Kurogane's country of Nihon, Yasha was the God of the Dead, and it seemed that this one had, as Fai had put it, the same soul, but a different set of problems.
Kurogane felt Fai shudder within his arms, the blond hair covered his face, and the magician bowed his head, resting it against Kurogane's shoulder. Kurogane hefted him, incidentally pulling him closer to his body, and followed the broad-shouldered figure of Yasha-ô through the barracks.
One of the sergeants of the field was seeing to the dispersal of men in the barracks. Yasha-ô stopped by and nodded at Fai and Kurogane. "See to it that they're moved to the officer's quarters."
"Yes, sir," there was no speculation in the sergeant's eyes, merely two barked orders at a boy at his heels and the boy ran off.
Yasha-ô walked on. Kurogane caught up to him, and asked, "Why did you do that?"
"You and your companion fought very well. The Shirogane twins are extremely tough opponents, but you nearly beat them and everyone saw that." The deep cadences of Yasha-ô's voice were even, calm, decisive. "You move in the ranks as is appropriate to your fighting skills. Next month you will join those who fight around myself."
"I will help you with your war, but I will not serve you," Kurogane said flatly. "My allegiance is to another, and we have something we need to accomplish here. After we are done we will leave."
The look he received from the lord would have quelled others, Kurogane simply grinned back and answered, even with no direct question. "I only serve the Princess Tomoyo, no other, but if our causes are the same for now, then I will fight your enemies for you."
Yasha-ô inclined his head again, gracefully. "Then I can do better than I have done, and provide medical care, armor, and a steed for you and your companion for the next fight." He stopped before the door of a low lying building. "Here we are."
There were plenty of people in there waiting, but they all moved out of the way as Yasha-ô went into the infirmary. His soothing voice touched on each of his people, as he went through the room, congratulating one on a job well-done, consoling an old trooper over lost men, and touching a wounded soldier that looked at him with wide eyes.
Kurogani took Fai over to the examining nurses, the ones that determined which could wait and which should go directly to the doctors.
"Lay him on the table," she ordered, and Kurogane complied, but Fai reached out and held onto Kurogane when he was about to back away.
The blood-soaked white robes were peeled off the slender man, as the nurse tsked gently. "How does it feel, honey?" she asked Fai. Fai looked up at Kurogane helplessly, and a pang shot through Kurogane's chest.
"He can't understand you," he said brusquely. "He doesn't speak our language, either, so he can't tell you."
"Can't tell me?" The nurse looked shocked. "But everyone in the country of Yama..."
"We're not from here."
"Oh..." She paused. "I didn't know there were any other countries other than that of Shura. But you have our black eyes, so you can't be from there."
"Miss, would you please take care of him instead of asking where we're from?" Kurogane said impatiently. "He's bleeding."
Blushing, she bent to the task, slender fingers gently parting Fai's undergarments, pulling them away from his white skin to reveal the cut along his side. Whole pink bone showed through the gore smeared lips of the wound. She frowned and put a dressing over the cut. "Here. Press down, that will stop the bleeding and hold him until the surgeons can get to him and sew this up. It's not life threatening, so he'll come after the ones who are fighting for their lives."
Kurogane pressed down, saw Fai's eyes widen even as his body tensed with the pain; but then Fai dropped him a quick wink and settled, breathing shallowly, on the examination table. It amazed him that Fai thought more of his comfort, holding the damned pressure bandage, than he thought of his own injury.
"He can stay on this table, just wheel him out to the waiting room, and we'll call you when it's time."
They waited, together, and Kurogane saw Fai's eyelids flicker, fall, and the magician was asleep. Left alone with thoughts about trust, lack of self-preservation instincts, and the contrast between trying to kill someone and wishing another being healed, Kurogane held the dressing tight, watching the spread of blood through the snow white dressing slow and stop.
When the surgeon came, Kurogane explained about Fai's language problem, and rather than wake the wounded man, they slipped a needle into his arm and put him under anesthesia. The surgeon sewed the wound closed under Kurogane's watchful eye, and then explained the care of the dressings and the cut. Kurogane repeated some of the steps to make sure that he had them correct.
When he moved to pick Fai up again, a burly orderly stopped him. "We'll do that, sir. Been told where to put him, so let us do our job."
Two men gently set Fai on a sling between two ten-foot poles, picked the whole thing up, and smoothly took him over to a low building, made from the wood and frame construction Kurogani was used to from home. The interior walls were thick paper, the floors cushioned with comfortably thick tatami, and it looked as if here, in the officer's quarters, they were two to a room. As the orderlies settled Fai on a futon, Kurogane watched them carefully, and gave them a nod as they bowed their way out.
Fai looked as comfortable as he was going to get, so Kurogane quickly scouted the whole of the building. He was pleased to find a full bath in the back, what looked like a common great room at the front, and a garden to the one side that flanked Yasha-ô's own quarters. Quickly, while Fai's breathing was even and deep, Kurogane made use of the common baths, washing all the blood, grime, and sweat from his body and soaking for one blissful minute before drying off and changing into loose, black robes.
He went back to the sleeping magician, and found that Fai had kicked off all his covers and was covered in a fine sheen of sweat.
Breaking out the medication that the doctor had given him for just that contingency, Kurogane looked at Fai's unconscious form and growled. "How the hell do I give you the medicine if you aren't awake?"
Wide black eyes opened at the sound of his voice, and Fai looked for him. "Kurogane?" Then a spate of the musical sounds of Fai's language rang in the air with the inflection of a question, followed by Fai's familiar hidden smile.
"Yes, Fai, I'm here," Kurogane answered.
Fai nodded and moved restlessly on the sweat-stained sheets. Long-fingered hands spread and pulled at the covers, as Kurogane turned to get the medicine and a glass of water.
When he turned back, he found Fai trying to sit up, so Kurogane put an arm behind that slender back and easily lifted Fai up. Then he handed the pills over, and Fai took them smoothly. "Thank goodness you have that much sense," Kurogane said softly and then was surprised when Fai smiled at him, and he realized it was more for the tone than the actual words.
The blond man lay back with a grimace of pain, and a light hand on his own side.
Kurogane made himself comfortable by the side of Fai's bed, and watched the slender man settle again into sleep. He let his head nod forward, and, terribly tired from the battle of the day, he allowed himself to sleep.
The scream triggered Kurogane's ninja reflexes and he was off the floor, in a crouch, sword drawn before he even knew where he was or what was making horrible keening sound.
Fai tossed and turned on his mat, wailing in his sleep, with tears running down his face, amid the sheen of sweat. Kurogane huffed a sigh, sheathed his sword, and then dropped to his knees by the incoherent man.
"Hey, hey, Fai... you're all right. I'm here..."
Words spilled from dry, cracked lips in the tones of sorrow and pleading, and Fai tossed again with a querulous query that ended with, "Chi?" Another stream of words and then 'Chi' before Fai said, "Ashura!" with a tone that mixed so much adoration and terror that Kurogane came to full attention.
Suddenly, Kurogane remembered being with Fai in the Jinja on Yasha, the morning after the all-night drinking binge, and how he'd asked Fai, "You're not going to speak straightly with me, are you?"
"Who knows?" Fai had asked with that smile that was more a mask then an expression of happiness. "You might be wrong."
"It might be just a statue, but when they started talking about Yasha they also mentioned the name Ashura, and your face went white." Kurogane had said.
Fai's silent faint smile and the deadly calm blue of his eyes had haunted Kurogane for days after. Now he wondered how Fai could know the God of War so closely and completely that he would cry out that name in that way.
Cursing the missing Mokona softly for not being here, for making it impossible for him to communicate in any way with the delirious magician, Kurogane thought for a while about what he might be able to do.
Remembering how Princess Tomoyo sat by the side of his bed after the death of his parents, the light touch of her hand upon his, Kurogane frowned and then bit his lip before he reached for and took Fai's hot hand in his own. Stroking the back of Fai's hand with his free hand, Kurogane coughed in embarrassment before he could roughly say, "Fai, it's all right. You're here. I'm taking care of you. We'll get through it. Really, we will..."
When the wide eyes turned to him, focused on him, Kurogane sighed and kept up the quiet assurances and touch, one hand locked with Fai's, the other began making soothing circles with his thumb against tight tendons in Fai's wrist and forearm. Fai sighed, closed his eyes, and suddenly the muscles under his ministrations stopped quivering with tension and relaxed.
Encouraged by that, Kurogane used his knowledge of human musculature, and began pressing against stark muscle and ligament, firmly encouraging each to give up and be loose. Gradually Kurogane found himself thinking of it all as a small war, each part of Fai's body a small battlefield that he won over, bit by bit, with firm rubs and soft words.
By the time Kurogane had gone all the way up Fai's arms and down his shoulders and chest, the blond magician had settled, no longer murmuring to his dreams or ghosts. Minutes later those disturbingly black eyes that should have been as blue as the sea opened wide, focused on the black warrior, and Fai murmured, "Kurogane."
Kurogane could only nod. "Yes. It's me," he said softly. "I'm here." He hoped that the simple words were ones Fai could understand.
When the long-fingered hand suddenly closed on one of his own, Fai said softly, in Kurogane's language, "You... here."
"Yes. I'm here," Kurogane said, and then watched Fai slide back into sleep, still holding his hand.
He stayed there all night.
The next morning Kurogane awoke still sitting seiza by Fai's bed. The magician had stirred in his sleep, but he looked cooler now and peaceful: his hand still wrapped about Kurogane's. Kurogane studied the face he rarely saw sleeping. Fai usually slept with his face buried in his pillows.
In relaxation, Fai's face was tired, drawn, and so sad that Kurogane's ground his grip on Sōhi's hilt. The soft sound made Fai blink his eyes open, and on seeing Kurogane watching so closely his face automatically took on the bright smile.
The smile never faltered, but the hand within Kurogane's tightened and then relaxed, falling limp, slipping loose from his. A soft sound of inquiry came from Fai, as he lifted his shirt to reveal his bandaged torso.
Kurogane gave a quick nod and his hands went to the fastenings, undoing them. The stitched cut below looked calmer than it had the night before, though it still bristled with the ends of the stitches. The skin all around the cut was still thick with dried blood. Fai laughed and mimed a hedgehog like creature with his hands, all the fingers sticking out, and Kurogane gave him a grin.
Together, they got Fai cleaned up with a bucket of hot water from the baths. Kurogane redressed the wounds and Fai lay back again and slept peacefully.
Over the next few weeks, as Fai recovered and Kurogane took care of him, the warrior found that he liked the wordlessness. That Fai, without his quick quips, his teasing, and nicknames, could be seen. Kurogane discovered the shadows of pain that came and went, flitting as quickly as Fai himself, but now more evident to Kurogane without the covering fire of glib words.
After that wordless time together, later, much, much later, when they faced Fai's Ashura, Kurogane was forewarned and forearmed. Haunted by the sound of Ashura's name in Fai's voice, he knew the depths of Fai's love for the man who had taken him away from the centuries long Hell of his supposed childhood. As Fai had saved him from killing on the battleground of the Castle in the Air, so Kurogane resolved and acted to save Fai from killing Ashura.
Kurogane never regretted that decision to the end of his long life.