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25 April 2011 @ 07:47 pm
Part three, in which there is pwnage  
Story: Black cat, white mage - Part 3
Pairings: Kurogane/Fai, Sakura/Syaoran, Yukito/Touya, the usual suspects.
Rating: PG-13
Warning: Kurogane has a potty mouth, and so does Sakura, believe it or not.
Summary: A lost princess. A mage running away from his past. A crippled warrior doing his best to forget the man he used to be. And a young man carrying a terrible curse. All of them are inevitably drawn into an adventure where love might save them... or doom them.
Note: /sigh/ Still no damn internets at home, gdi. Posting this from McDonalds, where I paid for food I don't even particularily like just for the sake of the damn hotspot. STILL. Have a chapter full of ass-kickery, cryptic hints about Kurogane's past, and the fated meeting of our very own heroes. Cut quote from "A dream within a dream" by Edgar Allan Poe.


***

 

Kurogane leaned back on the porch and closed his eyes, soaking up the golden autumn sunlight. The air was starting to get cold, gaining that knife-sharp edge which took so many lives every winter. But it was still pleasant outside on cloudfree days, and Kurogane was determined to enjoy it while it lasted. Winters always made his left shoulder ache something powerful.

From the yard came the steady thwack of the axe cleaving wood. He was glad Syaoran had taken the task upon himself unasked, because he’d never really gotten used to doing it one-handed. But he hated having to remind the kid and himself how fucking useless he was.

At least he felt no shame letting Syaoran bring in money for them both, doing odd jobs all over the place. The money they kept sending him for his services in the war was for shit, and it wasn’t his fault people thought he couldn’t do a decent share of work just because he only had one arm. Besides which, there had been a time when he was younger, when Syaoran had relied on him for charity. There was nothing dishonorable about a fair exchange.

The kid had grown up a fine young man, and Kurogane decided that he deserved at least some of the credit for it. He’d set the brat right before he’d managed to turn into a right bastard. Sure, he was still a cheeky little sod at times, but the man Syaoran was today would never dream of trying to kick down a cripple in an alley and steal his money. Hells, the little idiot still kept apologizing for it, as if Kurogane didn’t know he’d been starved half out of his mind, and robbery had been the less humiliating alternative. But he’d seen it back then, the same thing he saw now, six years later. There was something… fundamentally decent about Syaoran that had shone through the filth and the anger and the bad attitude…

He’d never thought the world could be perfect, but now he saw it was. The small waterfall gurgled happily, telling a never-ending bedtime story to the nodding heads of white flowers and the sleepily cooing doves. The body next to his was warm and secure; it was happiness he’d never dreamed about made solid, and he reached out to stroke the cheek of the man he loved, to reassure himself that he was real-

-but there was no one there. His hand met grass that was warm and wet and sticky. Blood. There was blood in the grass and-

-and then the hand he’d reached out was gone, nothing but aching emptiness remained and he could hear the sound of swords clashing and he knew-

-he knew-

He couldn’t tell when he drifted asleep, lulled by the sunlight and the rhythmic fall of the axe. But when he woke up, he knew exactly what it was that had interrupted his slumber. There was no way he’d ever forget about the sound of battle. He heard footsteps approaching at a run behind him, and soon Syaoran was at his side, wild-eyed and nervous.

“What’s that sound?” he demanded.

“Fighting,” Kurogane said shortly. “Boy, fetch my sword, and get your own while we’re at it.”

Syaoran blinked, and then went a bit pale under the tan. “Why?” he demanded.

“I ain’t a soldier no more, kid,” Kurogane growled, getting to his feet and rolling his one intact shoulder to get the circulation going, “but there’s some things you learn. And one is that running from battle ain’t never done anyone any good. Running toward battle is what gets you through most of the time, because at least then you know what’s happening, and you’ll get to the bastards attacking you before they set fire to your roof. Now get me that sword.”

 ~ * ~

When they got to the square, they were met by the strangest sight. A ring of soldiers in white-and-blue livery were all standing in a circle around two slim figures dressed all in black. A few more soldiers were strewn about on the ground within the circle, some of them groaning and stirring, and a couple lying very still. It appeared as if the soldiers had moved in on the two, thinking they were going to be easy prey, and had gotten a rather brusque lesson in not judging a book by its cover. Now they were keeping a safe distance, muttering among themselves, and the lieutenant in charge was looking a bit flustered.

All around, people were clustering, watching the display as if it was some kind of street theater. Kurogane motioned for Syaoran to follow him, and then slowly started to circle the group, sticking to the walls and keeping himself as inconspicuous as he could.

“Now, see here,” the lieutenant was saying, trying to sound haughty and not quite succeeding. “Our lord only wishes to speak to you two. All in all, you should be grateful he is being so lenient with outlaws like yourselves. He might not be so kind if you don’t come with us quietly now.”

The taller of the two figures let loose a loud whoop of laughter. “Thank you, kind sir, but I think I can do without your lord’s particular brand of kindness.” He tucked a few tresses of wispy blond hair behind his ear, grinning like a maniac. “Besides, I already know what your lord wants from us, and I have already told him exactly what he can do with his offer. In great detail, too, as I recall.”

This was apparently not the answer the lieutenant had expected, and now a faint blush rose on his cheeks. A few of his men stifled sniggers. “He told me to tell you that…” The man nervously licked his lips. Whatever this was about, it was clearly not something he felt comfortable discussing in front of an audience of commoners. “That the offer might be more lucrative this time around. Ah. A lot more lucrative.”

“Oh my stars,” the blond man said, covering his mouth daintily with one leather-clad hand, his expression of shock so faked that it made Kurogane snort in disgust. “Well, do you hear that, Little Cat?” He turned theatrically to his companion. “The Lord has an even more lucrative offer for us. What do you say?”

Syaoran gasped at Kurogane’s side. “She’s a girl.”

“I can see she’s a girl, you ninny. Now shut up.”

The girl in question was short and looked fairly young, with messy brown hair and large green eyes. The man with her also had green eyes, and they both moved the same way, sinuous and flowing. Kurogane wondered if perhaps they were related, an impression that was strengthened by the girl treating her companion to an annoyed scowl of the kind Syaoran usually employed when he thought Kurogane had been treating him like a child. But then, after a moment, she turned instead to smile sweetly at the lieutenant.

Fuck. Your. Lord,” she enunciated cheerfully. “We’re no damned hired killers, and we won’t be doing his dirty work for him.”

The man next to her made a disgusted little noise. “Really, Little Cat. That kind of language doesn’t befit a lady at all.”

“Which is why you don’t use it, Big Cat,” the girl replied placidly, causing her companion to chuckle, looking pleased. The lieutenant, meanwhile, had turned white, then red, then white again at the girl’s words, and now he was glancing around uncomfortably. So the offer in question had really been blood money. Kurogane nodded grimly to himself, laying a hand on the hilt of his sword as he kept watching in silence.

“It seems you won’t be swayed by common courtesy,” the lieutenant snapped. “Very well then. Let’s see how you reply to the kind of language your kind of people understand. Men!”

If he’d been hoping for a dramatic charge, it didn’t happen. It appeared the men had learned their lesson from their comrades’ mistakes, and they advanced carefully, watching every move the pair in black made. Then one man darted forward toward the girl. Syaoran made an involuntary movement, but Kurogane drew his sword in one swift, fluid movement, blocking the kid’s path with the gleaming blade.

“Wait,” he growled impatiently, nodding at the girl and the soldier. She’d jumped easily out of his way, and now she was dodging his every stab and swipe with the ease of a little girl playing hopscotch. The man was not bad at handling his blade, but he didn’t even seem to inconvenience her. She was smiling widely, giggling, dancing around and clearly enjoying herself – and then she suddenly fell back into a crouch, shot forward, and before the soldier could react, she was standing on her hands with her heels planted firmly in his face. He collapsed slowly backwards. Everyone in the square breathed out an awed sigh. Syaoran’s eyes were large as soup-plates, and Kurogane chuckled dryly.

The girl landed on her feet with a soft tap, smiling serenely.

“Hyuu!” The one called Big Cat made a strange sound, as if he was trying to whistle but couldn’t quite manage it. He made a huge, flamboyant gesture toward their audience. “Ladies and gentlemen, Little Cat! Isn’t she talented?” People actually started applauding, the gods help them for being idiots. Kurogane stiffened, waiting.

And then, pandemonium happened. Realizing that they would never beat the two of them if they challenged them one-on-one, the soldiers quickly gathered into formation after a barked command from their sergeant, and then they crashed in a wave of roaring mouths and metal toward the pair in black. They had regrouped too, standing back to back, but Kurogane could see that the blond man wasn’t smiling anymore.

Now!” he barked at Syaoran.

Neither of them might’ve been able to run around on their hands or bend like they didn’t have bones in their bodies, like the two outlaws. But Kurogane had trained himself to fight with a one-handed sword, trained himself to perfection just so he could beat the ever-loving shit out of the asshole captain that’d had the nerve to dismiss him from the army, citing the damn arm as the reason. He’d challenged him to a duel in front of everyone, a duel he couldn’t refuse because how could he look his men in the eyes if they thought he’d been afraid of a cripple? And as the bastard lay there with Kurogane’s boot against his throat, Kurogane had known for sure that he hadn’t been dismissed because of the arm, and the captain had known that he knew, and maybe the men watching them had known it too. He hoped so. In that case, that man would never receive any respect from his men for the rest of his life.

That was the punishment for a soldier who sold his honor.

He’d stopped training a year later because he’d almost sliced off his other arm one night when he’d decided to train while drunk. At the time, drinking had seemed more important than training. He’d never thought he’d pick up a sword again after that.

But then, one evening, he’d decided on a whim to bring in a street brat who’d tried to rob him in an alley. And that was when things had to change, or his father and mother would’ve turned in their graves from shame. He couldn’t drink himself into a stupor every night with a kid in the house. He couldn’t spend his days in listless apathy when there was a growing boy who needed food depending on him. And when he’d realized just how eager Syaoran was to learn how to fight better, teaching him had meant he’d gotten into the habit of training regularly once more.

And while he might never be the fighter he’d once been, he and the kid together were a force to be reckoned with. Combined with the whirlwind of blades that was Little Cat, and the black blur of speed which was almost all you could see of Big Cat, the soldiers that were still standing were soon breaking the line and stumbling backwards. The sergeant was shouting for them to regroup, the lieutenant was just shouting but no one was listening, and the soldiers didn’t seem too eager to even try, now that the enemy had received reinforcement.

A hand grabbed Kurogane’s shoulder. His bad shoulder. He tried to tug himself free, but the hand was like steel.

“And now, my tall dark savior,” a voice mumbled far too close to his ear, “we run.”

“Kurogane!”

He jerked around, and saw that Syaoran already halfway up a side alley together with the girl, and he was gesturing for him to follow. Glaring sideways at the evidently crazy person at his side, he nodded curtly to show he’d understood, and the idiot finally let go of him. With an angry snort, he headed off after the kids, not checking to see if the blond bastard was following. It was probably too much to hope that he’d lose him.

 


 
 
Current Mood: exhausted
 
 
 
It's hard to dance with the devil on your backuakari120 on April 25th, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC)
AND you write action sequences too?? Day-um. XD

This was really exciting - and I am still in love with action!Sakura and her "Fuck your lord!" <3 Syaoran is really in for it now... XDDD

Now to see if Kurogane and Fai can survive the escape without killing each other >.>
sweetjerry: Iphaelsweetjerry on April 27th, 2011 04:21 pm (UTC)
Ahahaha, I was terrified at having to attempt anything even vaguely action-y, so I'm glad I didn't fail utterly.

Syaoran will find her quite a handful, I think ^^ And Kurogane and Fai will hopefully survive with just some bruising and a split lip or two xD

/hugs all the hugs ever
Cloverfieldfieldofclover on April 26th, 2011 07:16 am (UTC)
/hugs this chapter

/realises that hugging a chapter full of spiky swords and kick-ass, pointy-like fighting is probably not the best of ideas

/does not care and goes back to hugging chapter

YAY LITTLE CAT~! You are my favourite in this, though Kuro-slice comes damn close :D and and and do I detect a mini-flashback????

/bangs spoon on bowl

More, I say! MORE!

Also, props to you for braving the horror that is Maccas for free interprons, just so you could post this. That's love, that is!

/hugs forever
sweetjerry: Pretty in pinksweetjerry on April 27th, 2011 04:24 pm (UTC)
/JUMPS ON LIKE A JUMPING THING AND GLOMPS ALL THE AIR OUT OF YOU/

Haha, Sakura pretty much owned the chapter. Although Kurogane's manriness generally is pretty ownish too xD And yes, that is indeed a mini-flashback to the weirdest past pairing in the history of past pairings. /cryptic/

Also, your wish is my command? xD

<3
Cloverfieldfieldofclover on April 27th, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC)
/gleefully allows self to be used as a glomping platform

She's like a miniature bundle of cute, button-nosed BAMF in this chapter. So MANRY, Kuro-rin~!

Cryptic is good, also /intrigued like an ear-pricked fox/ at this crypticness.

HUZZAH I WOULD LIKE A NEVERENDING PACKET OF TIM TAMS AND MORE OF THIS FIC! (If I can't have both, I would prefer the latter, and gleefully forsake the chocolate biscuits of awesome for more of this nummy story~!)

<3 x a billion
mikkeneko: i hate you guysmikkeneko on April 26th, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
“I ain’t a soldier no more, kid,” Kurogane growled, getting to his feet and rolling his one intact shoulder to get the circulation going, “but there’s some things you learn. And one is that running from battle ain’t never done anyone any good. Running toward battle is what gets you through most of the time, because at least then you know what’s happening, and you’ll get to the bastards attacking you before they set fire to your roof. Now get me that sword.”

I love Kurogane here! So angry! So fierce! So practical. Now the gang's all here, what will happen next? Looking forward to every installment. :)
sweetjerry: Dangliessweetjerry on April 27th, 2011 04:25 pm (UTC)
Haha, my huge and aching mancrush on that man always shines through xD But yes, I've always pegged him for the pragmatic type.

/JUMPS WITH JOY AND ASSAULTS WITH HUGGLES
Geo: USUK (ILU.)ankou_chan on April 26th, 2011 10:44 pm (UTC)
How. How are you doing this.
How can you write so well.
This is the most awesome fic, and SAKURA'S LANGUAGE. I think it's actually more accurate to have her speak this way here; she wasn't raised a princess, nor was she raised by Fujitaka, so there would be something different about her manners.
I love this. A lot.
Write more. Please.
sweetjerry: SISTAHsweetjerry on April 27th, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
/SCREAMS AND DIES AND HIDES AND BLUSHES FOREVER

Ahem. Uhm.
.....thank you <3

Oooh, excellent. I sort of figured that having been brought up on the dark side of the law would affect her language somewhat, even though Fai no doubt has done his best to temper it xD

/loves on and writes like the motherfucking WIND
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