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10 May 2011 @ 11:07 am
And once more, soemthing completely different...  
Story: The man he used to love
Series: Photographs
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Careful. Chii bites. 
Summary: Our friends land in a new world, and immediately meet an old friend of Fai's.
Note: Another product of my brain taking a break. Fluff and cuteness. I reserve the right to have cut-quotes that make no sense what so ever.

***

 

It was another highly technologically advanced world. Multicolored vehicles were zipping around over their heads, and everywhere around them large screens were blaring out commercial messages. People wearing strange, bright clothes were turning around to stare at the somewhat disheveled group of newcomers, and in particular at Mokona, who was bouncing around excitedly and chanting, “We’re here! We’re here! A new world!”

“Can someone get the meat bun to shut up?” Kurogane grumbled, getting to his feet.

“Seems like a fascinating new place,” Fai gushed, ignoring him. “Well done, Mokona!”

“Mokona has done well! Fai-mommy praised Mokona!” Mokona proclaimed, sticking out its tongue at Kurogane.

“These buildings are old,” Syaoran mumbled, already examining the façade of the house they landed by. “They have added all this technology to them, but the foundations must date back at least a thousand years.”

“Oh dear, I think we lost him,” Fai said cheerfully. “He’ll be like this for a while now. How about we find some way of amusing ourselves in the meantime, hmm, Kuro-bun?”

“Yeah. Let’s find something to eat. And don’t you dare make some tasteless joke out of that, magician.”

“You’re no fun, Kuro-piipii,” Fai pouted for a split second before once more smiling hugely, bouncing forward on the balls of his feet and pressing a kiss to the ninja’s cheek. “Still, I suppose you’re right. Travelling before you’ve had a chance to eat lunch leaves one with quite an appetite.” He winked shamelessly, spun around, took a step forward and-

-and collided with a stranger.

He’d appeared around the corner, running blindly at full speed, and Fai’s somewhat belated evasive maneuver had him barreling straight into the wall Syaoran was examining. The boy stumbled away with a yelp, Kurogane instinctively reached out to steady him, barking “Watch it!” at the stranger. The man looked up, gasping an apology, and Fai froze.

Suddenly, the world around seemed to have gone quiet.

“Ashura?” the magician said weakly.

You,” Kurogane growled, instinctively drawing his sword.

The man blinked, looking bewildered. “Do I know you?”

 * * *

It was Ashura, without a doubt. He was wearing a strange white coat and looking vaguely bedraggled, his hair sloppily collected in a ponytail, but it was still him. Fai had convinced Kurogane to put away his sword, and more or less dragged the man with him to a café, saying he looked like he ought to sit down before he fell over. Ashura hadn’t really put up much of a fight. He really did look like a stiff breeze could bowl him over.

“I’m sorry,” he said, his hands wrapped around a cup of tea. “I wasn’t looking where I was going. My… well, I guess you can call her my adoptive daughter… she’s run away, you see. I’m afraid I panicked.”

Fai, no longer smiling, was perched on the edge of his seat, and at this his eyes narrowed. “Let me guess. Your adoptive daughter’s name is Chii.”

Ashura blinked, and then his eyes hardened slightly in suspicion. “How did you know?”

“A guess. I’ve learned how different worlds work by now. Tell me, did you create her? Or was it someone else?”

Ashura gasped, his fingers whitening as their grip tightened around the cup grew tighter. “I don’t understand. Fai D Flowright… I have never heard your name before, so you shouldn’t have this information. Yet I sense no ill intent from you.” His eyes flickered to Kurogane, who still looked as if he was trying to glare a hole through Ashura’s head. “I can’t say the same for your impressive friend here. But I don’t believe he knew about Chii. He was surprised when you mentioned her. Your young friend here too – Syaoran-san, wasn’t it? He does not wish me any harm, but I’m quite sure he wouldn’t hesitate to knock me out if you told him to.”

“You can sense people’s hearts.” Everyone jumped, staring at Mokona, who was watching Ashura with obvious fascination. “You can see what people are feeling, and what they want.” It smiled brilliantly. “Mokona can do that too! Although Mokona thinks you are probably better.”

Ashura tilted his head. “Is this some form of artificial being as well? I’ve never seen anything like it. I can’t sense it either, but it does act as if it’s been programmed with an Initiative.”

“Mokona is Mokona!” the white creature corrected him somewhat peevishly. “And that’s one of Mokona’s 108 secret talents. Impenetrable pokerface!”

After staring at Mokona for a few more seconds, Ashura leaned his face in his hands. “I don’t understand,” he mumbled weakly.

And just like that, Fai was smiling again. “You should tell us about Chii, Ashura-san,” he said brightly. “I promise you, we mean no harm. In fact, we will probably be able to help you.”

Ashura looked up, studying Fai’s smile solemnly, and Syaoran got the strange feeling that he’d seen that look before somewhere. “Very well,” he replied evenly. “I trust you. But in return, you’ll have to answer me two things.

“Oh? What is that, then?” Fai asked amiably.

Ashura closed his eyes, shaking his head as if dismissing the magician’s façade. “Why do you love Chii?” he asked softly. “And why does seeing me hurt you so much?”

And then Syaoran remembered who usually looked at Fai that way when he was smiling like that, like he could see right through it.

Kurogane.

 * * *

It was later. They’d eaten, and found themselves a secluded corner of the restaurant they were at. Without so much as batting an eyelid, Fai informed Ashura that they were travelers through different dimensions, and that he’d known both him and Chii in another world – without mentioning that it was his home world. The doctor – he said he was a Type E psychologist, ‘E’ meaning he was emphatically gifted – took this remarkably well, only remarking a bit caustically that Fai was either telling the truth, or crazy enough to believe it anyway. But since Syaoran and Kurogane believed it as well, and he found it fairly unlikely that they were all suffering under the same delusion, he was willing to accept it for now.

“And how shall I explain Chii?” he mused, swirling around the wine in his glass. “In this world, we’ve been experimenting for quite a while with artificial intelligence. But to achieve true intelligence, one must be able to program a machine that can make mistakes, and which can learn from said mistakes. For that, it must have its own feelings, its own will to explore and learn… its own heart, one might say. But among scientists, it is usually referred to as an Initiative. As you may imagine, this is incredibly hard to create.”

He sighed, drumming the fingers of his unoccupied hand against the table. “But, as it turns out, it’s not impossible. About five years ago, the scientists of a certain company had a breakthrough. And on a press conference, they announced to the world that they were able to create a sentient machine.” He smiled a bit wryly. “As you probably can imagine, this caused a veritable uproar amongst the general public. And suddenly, focus was turned upon an aspect of this which hadn’t been much explored up to this point.”

As he continued, his eyes moved from face to face, as if he was interested in seeing their reactions. “Is it really morally defensible to create sentient life for the sole purpose of research? After all, such a machine would not be all that different from a human being – it was even possible that it would be vastly more intelligent. Is there really a way to justify treating such a creature as a lab rat?”

Syaoran was looking uneasy, shaking his head slightly. Kurogane was scowling in disapproval. Fai’s face remained unreadable.

“In the end,” Ashura carried on with a sigh, “it was decided that in the case of the creation of such a machine, certain steps needed to be taken to ensure its welfare. One of the scientists volunteered to care for it, allow it to live in her home and treat it as her own child. It was also decided that a well-renowned psychologist should study the girl, and attempt to treat her developing psyche.” He smiled a bit faintly. “I was chosen. It was the career opportunity of a lifetime. I was… very excited.”

Fai’s eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly.

Ashura noticed, and he met the mage’s gaze steadily, showing nothing except perhaps gentle remorse. “I couldn’t have known. I guess I couldn’t quite believe that a being like that could really exist.”

“I guess you were wrong,” Fai said lightly, his smile once more as bright as ever. Kurogane made a sharp, growl-like sound, which the mage ignored.

“I was,” Ashura agreed, nodding. “Two years ago, Chii was finished. The first time I met her, I hadn’t expected to… feel anything from her. After all, she was just a robot. Her emotions, such as they were, had to be artificial.” He laughed a bit ruefully. “I have to admit, I was rather foolish.”

“So how come you’re the one taking care of the girl?” Kurogane demanded. “I thought you said that was the scientist’s job.”

Ashura turned his gaze to the ninja, looking intrigued. “You really do not like me,” he commented, looking fairly unconcerned by this fact. “But you’re right. It was her job and not mine, and she was the one taking care of Chii until a couple of months ago.” He sighed quietly. “That was when she died.”

“How?”

“An accident,” Ashura replied. “It was tragic, but it could’ve happened to anyone. It was just… exceptionally bad luck that it had to happen to one of the few people Chii trusts.”

“But she trusts you,” Fai guessed. “So you’re the one who has custody of her now.” He leaned back, folding his arms behind his head. “So why did she run away?”

“Her caretaker died,” Ashura repeated. “She was like a mother to Chii. And the girl is… very intelligent, if also very sheltered. Today, she asked me if she, too, could die.” He looked away, a shadow passing over his face. “I didn’t know how to lie to her. And so I told her the truth. That she will not die, unless someone actively tries to destroy her. She was understandably upset.” His voice was hoarse and unsteady by then. “That was why I rushed off in such a way. I was afraid… I was afraid she might try to destroy herself.”

“And now you’re here,” Kurogane pointed out. “Having lunch. While she’s still out there. Why’s that?”

Ashura didn’t rise to the bait. “I’m… not quite sure,” he admitted. “But somehow… I had the feeling…” His gaze turned to Fai. “I had the feeling you were telling the truth when you said you’d be able to help me.”

“I might,” Fai agreed, getting to his feet and stretching. “Just wait here. I’ll be right back.”

“What about Mokona? If Fai goes far, he won’t be able to talk to anyone!”

“It’s fine, Mokona,” Fai replied, patting the small creature on the head. “I probably won’t have to talk much. Besides, it’s important to keep table conversation going. Taking you with me would be im~po~lite.” And with a smile and a wink, he was gone.

 * * *

“So, tell me…” Ashura said after a long, awkward silence, during which Mokona ate, Kurogane glared, and Syaoran wished he could be anywhere but there. The doctor leveled a penetrating gaze at Kurogane. “From Fai-san’s reaction to me, and from your innate aversion to me, I am going to assume that the other me did something fairly terrible, and that that in the end, he was hurt.” He tapped his chin thoughtfully. “And now you wish to protect him from me, but he won’t let you. And that scares you, because you don’t understand his motives.”

Without so much as a warning, Kurogane reached out across the table, grabbing a fistful of Ashura’s coat and jerking him forward. “I’m only saying this once, so listen up,” he growled. “Stay. Out. Of. My. Head.”

“I have no access to your thoughts,” Ashura said calmly, pulling free and sitting back. “That was only a calculated guess. I can only read your emotions.”

“That don’t make it better,” Kurogane replied curtly, crossing his arms over his chest.

Ashura stared at him for a long, drawn-out moment, and then folded his hands and leaned his chin on them. “He used to love the other me,” he said softly.

Kurogane froze. His eyes narrowed. “I wouldn’t know about that.”

“And now he loves you. Is that a problem for you?” Ashura smiled kindly.

Kurogane snorted, looking away. “You’re an idiot if you think it’s like that,” he replied derisively, smiling sharply even though his eyes were hard. “That guy… he was the one who made the mage think he couldn’t get close to people. Because he turned bad to save him.” His hand tightened around the handle of his sword. “That’s why he loves that girl so much. I don’t think she was ever hurt ‘cause of him. He made her. So she’s the only one he feels he can care for without being frightened.”

Mokona made a small, unhappy noise and bounced into the ninja’s lap, burrowing itself under his arm. Syaoran reached out and gently took a hold of Kurogane’s hand, removing it from the sword hilt. Kurogane made a small tch noise, but didn’t return his hand to his sword, nor did he push Mokona out of his lap.

“I do believe you know what you’re talking about,” Ashura agreed solemnly. “But I think you can agree that he has grown since then. He does care very deeply for you, even though it is true he’s still frightened.” Kurogane closed his eyes, and Ashura’s widened. “I see. So that’s it. You’re afraid that seeing me will bring him back there again?”

To this, there was no answer. And that was answer enough.

 * * *

He knew where to find her. Just like his Chii, she had a very straightforward mind, and when there was something that confused her, she investigated. Thus, the graveyard. He managed to find her at the first try, which was a relief, because the next cemetery was outside the city, and that might’ve been a bit awkward.

She’d wrapped a scarf around her head so she wouldn’t attract attention, and was currently reading out loud from the gravestones. He could understand what she was saying, so he was still within Mokona’s range. That would help matters.

“You know, running away can be fun,” he said, leaning against a tree. “But it’s not nice to leave people worrying for you.”

She spun around with a small gasp, stumbling away. But only a couple of steps. Then she stopped, staring at him, her mouth slightly open.

“Hello, Chii.” He smiled at her, because smiling was easy and it would help her relax. “My name is Fai D Flowright. You can call me Fai. Would you like that?”

“You know Chii’s name?” She studied him curiously. “You’re Ashura’s friend?”

“I’d like to be your friend, Chii,” Fai replied lightly.

She tilted her head to the side. “Are you a bad man? Ashura warned Chii about bad men. They come and take you away.”

Fai blinked, and then burst out laughing. She was intelligent, and she’d been gathering information about the world for two years. But it was still only two years, which was nothing when it came to emotional development. So Ashura must still be simplifying things a bit for her. “I’m not a bad man, Chii. Firstly because I really don’t like hurting people, and secondly because my boyfriend wouldn’t allow it. He’s appallingly jealous, and he’s also got a very strong sense of morality. Now, how about pie? Can you eat?”

“Huh?” she said, and then she giggled. “Fai is very strange.” As he nodded in reply, she smiled brightly. “But Chii would like some pie.”

“Then let’s find some. Ashura borrowed me some money.” He was pretty sure the man had been aware of him picking his pocket, after all. It was practically the same as borrowing.

 * * *

When they arrived back at the restaurant, Chii was still munching happily on a piece of pie. While it made sense to make an artificial being that was powered in the same way that humans were, Fai had wondered why they would give her the ability to taste her food. But then again, Chii was the sort of thing you created simply because you could, and if that was your motivation, the more human you made her, the better.

“Chii!” Ashura shot to his feet, all but running up to her and enveloping her in his arms. “Please, never do that again. Where have you been?” He turned to Fai as he asked, but it was Chii who answered.

“Chii was doing research,” she said solemnly, looking up at Ashura. “Humans normally have almost four times as long lifespans as mother. Ashura won’t die in a long while.” It was just possible to hear that the last statement might’ve been a question.

Ashura looked stunned, and then he smiled softly, planting a kiss on her forehead. “No, I probably won’t. Of course, Chii, accidents do happen. You know that.”

“It is not very statistically likely for both of Chii’s caretakers to die, is it?” Chii asked, leaning her head against his shoulder.

Ashura laughed. “That’s a very good point.”

Fai leaned against the table while they talked, smiling blithely. He didn’t even jump when Kurogane’s fingers dug into his shoulder. “You left me here with him on purpose,” the ninja accused.

“I thought it would be a good idea for you to work out your differences.” Fai leaned his cheek against Kurogane’s hand.

“I have no ‘differences’ with this guy. Never met him before, remember?”

“You certainly weren’t acting like it, Kuro-muu.”

“That’s got nothing to do with him. It’s got to do with you.”

Fai tilted his head a bit so he could glance sideways up at the stone-faced man next to him. He also noted, out of the corner of his eye, that Syaoran had wandered off to strike up a conversation with the owner of the restaurant. What a clever boy he was. “What were you afraid was going to happen? Did you think I was going to run away? Kurogane?”

Don’t.”

Fai sighed. “I’m sorry. That was unnecessarily cruel.”

“Damn right it was.”

“In fact, it was unfair of me.” He gave Kurogane a very direct look. “But then again, it’s unfair of you to think I’d become that person again, just because Ashura is here.” He watched Chii examining the restaurant’s menu, apparently unconcerned by the fact that she’d already had two slices of pie. Ashura looked over at him, pointing with a wry smile at the wallet in Fai’s hand. The mage threw it to him, winking.

“This isn’t the Ashura I knew,” he said. “You killed that man.” He chuckled softly at Kurogane’s withering glare. “I don’t blame you for it, Kuro-tan. But the fact is that the person who was trying to save me, no matter what it might cost, is not this man. The man I once loved isn’t this man either.” He pressed his lips to the ninja’s fingers in a soft kiss. “And even if he was, the man I love is right here.”

Kurogane snorted quietly. “Idiot.”

“That’s a terrible thing to say when I’m being so nice,” Fai replied cheerfully. Then he promptly spun around and twined his arms around Kurogane’s neck, kissing him soundly. “You are lucky I’m such a generous nature.”

“Is that Fai’s jealous boyfriend?” Chii demanded, interested.

Kurogane glared down at Fai. “What.”

“Yes he is!” Fai exclaimed, ignoring Kurogane despite that his arms were still around his neck. “He’s my sweet Kuro-wanwan. Don’t worry about the glaring, his bark is worse than his bite.”

Chii giggled, and Ashura smiled, ruffling her hair. “She’s a monster,” he said warmly. “And her bite is far worse than her bark.”

Chii looked slightly put out. “Chii doesn’t bite,” she complained.

“You did in the beginning,” Ashura pointed out mildly.

“Ashura was not careful where he put his fingers,” she retorted primly.

“No wonder she gets along so well with this idiot,” Kurogane grumbled, unsuccessfully trying to disentangle from Fai’s grasp. “Are we finding somewhere to sleep here or not?”

“Ah. I think I might be of assistance,” Ashura said with a slight smile.

 * * *

Kurogane woke up at three in the morning to find Fai awake, looking through the pictures on the camera. He didn’t look up as the ninja leaned over his shoulder, finding to his distinct lack of surprise that Fai was staring at the group shot of them, Ashura and Chii.

“It could’ve been like that,” Fai said, so quietly Kurogane almost couldn’t hear.

“Yeah,” Kurogane agreed. “And you know who’s to blame for that never happening. And you know whose fault it ain’t. Yours, for starters.”

“I guess,” Fai sighed. Then he looked up, smiling at the other man. “But I’m glad we came here. Now I can be pretty sure that if things hadn’t been the way they were, he would never have turned out like that. It’s a strangely comforting thought. He wasn’t corrupted from the start.” The smile faded from his face. “And I can value our time together before he fell apart without feeling like it’s… tainted. By what came after, I mean.”

Kurogane made a wordless noise, leaning his chin against Fai’s shoulder and encircling him with his arms. “It’s cold. Come to bed.”

“I guess I should,” Fai agreed, turning off the camera. “Just… a question, Kuro-myuu? What if we ever meet your family in another world?”

Kurogane was silent for a long while, then he sighed. “I don’t know,” he admitted.

“Good,” Fai said with a small smile. “It’s not healthy to always know everything.” He kissed the ninja on the ear, making the other man wince. “And I’ll be there, and so will Syaoran and Mokona. Whatever you decide to do, we’ll help you.”

Kurogane laughed hoarsely. “A brat, a meat bun and an idiot mage. Great help.”

“Hush you and come to bed with me.”

Kurogane thought this offer over. “Although I guess even idiot mages have their use,” he conceded, smirking.

“Oh, you know we do.”

 


 
 
Current Mood: lethargic
Current Music: Sisters of mercy - Leonard Cohen
 
 
 
Cloverfieldfieldofclover on May 10th, 2011 09:21 am (UTC)
Kurogane thought this offer over. “Although I guess even idiot mages have their use,” he conceded, smirking.

“Oh, you know we do.”


YES. THIS.

...you know I live for your ficspam, right? Seriously. My day is made every damn time you post, regardless of what it actually is you are posting- but since 100% of your posts so far have been awesome, awesome fic -like this one- I think I'm onto a good thing here :D

I liked this, a whole lot. I love Chii, and Jealous!Kuro-wan and Ashura-the-empath, and Fai always wins everything ever, especially with lines like the one I copypasta'd above. I just love this little fic all over :D

Please more? Of anything you write?

/glomps you like the brilliant, beautiful writer you are
sweetjerry: Dangliessweetjerry on May 10th, 2011 11:49 am (UTC)
Kurogane finds his idiot mage very useful, yes he does. xD

LOL WELL at the moment I live for writing fic, so it's like a state of symbiosis! :D /wraps mycelium around your roots and shares water and minerals

Yay! I had ridiculous amounts of fun messing around with Chii and Ashura, so I'm glad you like it. OH AND THIS REMINDS ME. I need to finish my fic based on the jealousy-plotbunny my roomie threw at me. And a new part of BCWM. AND ALL THE THINGS. /sets to work

/glomps back with feeling!
Cloverfieldfieldofclover on May 10th, 2011 11:54 am (UTC)
Yes. Useful. because that's what we call having rampant, wall-thumping, scream-the-house-down-and-emotionally-scar-Syaoran sex with someone X3

I like this whole 'living for the fic' thing you have going on. I approve whole heartedly /gives you porny plot bunnies via osmosis

YES. PLEASE TO BE FINISHING THE AWESOME, so I can love all over you even more.

/wags tail like a happy fangirl <3
sweetjerry: Can't fuck a dreamsweetjerry on May 10th, 2011 12:01 pm (UTC)
That's certainly what I call it. And hush, Syaoran LIKES being emotionally scarred. /in denial

I rather like it too ^^ /swells in a humorously inuendo-ish way, BECAUSE OSMOSIS DOES THAT OKAY? xD

/FINISHES ALL THE AWESOME (if nothing else so roomie can stop whining :/ )

<3
Cloverfieldfieldofclover on May 10th, 2011 12:05 pm (UTC)
Of course he does. Why else would he be travelling with the two of them but to enjoy the awkward, glowing feeling he gets knowing that they are having hot mansex all over whereever they are currently staying and probably in his bed because Fai is kinky like that?

Of course osmosis does that, what are you talking about? /encourages the swelling

YAY~~~~! /cuddles <3
questix on May 10th, 2011 12:56 pm (UTC)
I liked this fic a lot! :D Thanks so much for sharing! I love post-series fics and now you've got me wondering what WOULD happen if they met Kuro-pon's family... XD
sweetjerry: In ur kitchensweetjerry on May 12th, 2011 08:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much <3 And that's good, because I'm having criminal amounts of fun writing iiiit... xD
darkfireburning: kurofaidarkfireburning on May 10th, 2011 09:36 pm (UTC)
Excuse the incoherent squealing coming from over here ~

I love fics with Ashura and Chii, and this one was just great - Ashura not being corrupted from the start, Chii's biting, Kuro-wanwan and Fai's interactions .. :3

Much love <3
sweetjerry: SISTAHsweetjerry on May 12th, 2011 08:17 pm (UTC)
Squealing is good! Can't be a proper fangirl without squealing ^^

I love the two of them so much I just want to hug them sob. Heck, I love all of them. Let's all have a hugpile!

<3!
marta: m ; tsubasa ; kurogane/faitaigrin on May 10th, 2011 09:54 pm (UTC)
Aw, great fic! I really enjoyed it :)
sweetjerry: I'm your mansweetjerry on May 12th, 2011 08:17 pm (UTC)
Yay! Thank you ^^
BEWARE OF RAVING LUNATICfaren_maddox on May 12th, 2011 07:58 pm (UTC)
I love this! It was really sweet, in its own way, in allowing Fai to come to terms with the feelings he once had for Ashura. I really like this harmlessly-absentminded-professor-ish version of Ashura! It's really nice to see a fic in which he's a good guy. And I think Chii is freakin' adorable. With the biting. She's so cute!

And jealous, protective Kuro-tan is really something else. What I really appreciated about it was the way he and Fai argued about it. Shows just how much they've both grown from the beginning. I really, really want to see a fic about meeting a version of Kuro's family now . . .
BEWARE OF RAVING LUNATICfaren_maddox on May 12th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
^
*uses the word "really" in inadvisable quantities*
>///
sweetjerry: Smack an emosweetjerry on May 12th, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC)
LMAO, "really" is a really useful word ^^

I sort of wanted to write a not-crazy-rapist-murderer-puppy-slaughtering Ashura. Not that I don't love him being deliciously twisted as much as the next fangirl, but sometimes a huggable Ashura is needed.

Jealous, protective Kuro-tan is what love is made of. Well, one half of it, at least ^^ And marital bickering is just way too much fun to wrie sob.
.../writing it like the wind

/pouncetackles and hugs