Title: Days of Our Wings, Chapitre 6: Strength of the Heat
Disclaimer: not mine
Summary: Seishiro is a hell of a guy...
Chapitre 6: Strength of the Heat.
With the air conditioner roaring, with the window sealed –
When the karaoke machine is broken, the waitress will refuse to break change.
Surely this was paradise, if ever Syaoran had known it. The weather was warm, and, if the beaches and tropical plants were anything to judge by, the climate was more than hospitable as well. Most importantly, however, the currency of this country consisted of any object with an official Hello Kitty likeness stamped on it; the more rare the article, the more valuable.
For the first (and likely the last) time in his life, Syaoran had given thanks to Sanrio MegaCorp's absurdly aggressive inter-dimensional marketing campaign. And to Fay's insistence that the 12 pack of pink nail clippers had been a steal at only 3 oolongs for a set. He certainly wasn't going to grumble now about the fact that he'd been talked into buying 4 sets.
Really, who could have predicted that one of the pinchers alone would have bought them a week's stay in the most luxurious accommodations this world had to offer?
Who could have predicted that nail clippers would be a precious object in any world?
No, he certainly wasn't complaining. This was the first time in ages they had enough money for a roof over their heads without any real labor on their part. Currencies were hard enough to exchange, so if they could hand over souvenirs…
This truly was paradise.
He set out from the hotel with the mobile persacom provided by the resort perched on his shoulder. He loved his companions dearly, but a day left entirely to his own devices was far overdue.
"You missed the turn," the purple haired robot told him flatly.
Syaoran rolled his eyes and wondered why the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation would program a robot to be so damned grumpy and whether he'd been saddled with a personality proto-type…
* * * * *
Kurogane leaned back into his towel. Surely this was paradise, if ever he had known it. The warm, salty air filled his nostrils as he dug his fingers into the sand. The hot sun baked the shimmering white beach around him, its rays bouncing upward to dance off of his smiling face.
This world was beautiful, hot, and the perfect excuse to don the black Speedo he had picked up god-knows-how-many worlds back.
He inhaled deeply as the warmth enveloped his already golden, muscular build.
This truly was paradise.
The pale jumble of arms and legs huddled beneath their umbrella was feeling less sanguine.
"Can we please go back?" it whined, wiping away the considerable number of sweat beads that had formed above its eyes.
"Hnn?" the ninja replied, his eyes wandering slowly toward the blond, striped mess wrapping in upon itself under the shade.
"It's so…hot!" Fay whined, curling his legs up under his striped tank top. His forehead, nose, and shoulders had already blistered under an angry shade of fuchsia. The pink ice-blended drink melting in his hand did little to cool his face as he pressed the glass against his cheek. Unable to get comfortable, the wizard extended his legs again; the dry, unforgiving warmth of the sun was preferable to the hot, sticky rub of his thighs under the shirt. He frowned. The beach was pretty, sure, but how much of this heat was he supposed to endure?
This truly was hell.
He wrinkled his nose, forcing the edges of the sloppy white sun block triangle painted there into his eyes.
"Maah! Kuro-tan! Pleeeease! Can we go in?"
"No." Kurogane rolled onto his stomach, happy to have the upper-hand for once. "This is the best vacation I've had in a while."
Fay wasn't about to deny the ninja his well-deserved relaxation. "Would you mind if I went in then? Mmmph!" he added for emphasis.
Kurogane grinned into his arms. "You're just afraid you're less sexy than I am."
Fay moved to scratch his nose into his shoulder, and then stopped, not wanting to spread the goopy white substance to his bicep. "Kuro-sama has no chance of out-sexying me."
"Oh?" Kurogane rolled onto his side, the golden sun light highlighting every ripple of his physique from tooth to toenail.
"Of course," the magician replied, stroking his nose tentatively to be sure the sun block was still in place. "How should I put this…" he paused, devilish flame lighting up his eyes, "Which would you prefer: a fuzzy, loveable puppy, or one of those bald, yipping, angry miniature dogs who bite anyone within a 3-foot radius?"
"Look, just because you have a back like a Labrador retriever doesn't mean you're sexier than me."
"No, but it certainly doesn't hurt. Especially when coupled with the angry, yippy part."
"Who's angry and yippy?" Kurogane barked.
"Oh my! The puppy is using his big-boy voice!"
"Hmph." Kurogane studied the huddled lump of sunburnt mage under the umbrella and choked back a chuckle. Even he couldn't deny how utterly pathetic the blond looked baking on the beach. "Yeah, sure, go on back. I'm staying a little longer."
"Oh thank gods," Fay sighed. He stood up and peeled his shirt away from his sweat-soaked back.
"Everyone knows well-muscled men only look sexier after a day in the sun."
"You have such limited notions of 'sexy' Kuro-puu."
* * * * *
Syaoran scanned the street in search of a place to buy lunch. He had already scoured the shelves of two bookstores in the vain hope of finding information regarding the splitting off of fathers/clones from his person, but had been sorely disappointed. The interests of this country's citizens may have ranged from Hello Kitty to incredibly graphic smut, but a veritable desert of literature stretched between these two extremes, littered with only the occasional Hello-Kitty-graphic-smut crossover for scenery.
"Your nose is bleeding," the persacom informed him.
"Thanks, Kotoko," he replied, wiping at his face. A sandwich and a stiff drink were definitely in order after the last novel he had flipped through. Possibly a cigarette as well.
He drifted off absentmindedly toward the smell of burning tobacco. It led him toward a noisy street café, buzzing away with the chatter of late afternoon patrons. He stopped walking just as absentmindedly as he had started and stared toward a table just inside the café's fence.
The table's lone occupant was a dark-haired, middle-aged man squinting carefully at a book through thin oval glasses. He paused to take a long drag off of the cigarette hanging between his lips, then carefully tapped it onto the ashtray.
Syaoran started. Surely…
The man looked up, suddenly aware he had an audience. A warm smile spread across his lips.
* * * * *
Kurogane returned to their room a few hours later feeling refreshed. Normally, he despised lazing about with nothing to do, but he was more than willing to make an exception for a few hours spent relaxing on a beach. Especially if it meant he got to prance around in a Speedo.
The first thing that struck him as he entered their suite was the sound of the alarm clock going off. The second was the arctic blast of air pulled toward the closing door. He shrieked, simultaneously attempting to cover as much of his exposed torso as possible while ensuring that his testicles had not retreated permanently into his abdomen.
"IT'S TIME FOR THE WAKEY-WAKEY EXCERCISES!"
"NO IT IS GODDAMN WELL NOT!" he bellowed.
"SUMOMO! ALARM OFF!"
The diminutive persacom pulled the whistle from between her lips and saluted. "Aye!"
Kurogane braced himself as the tiny pink blur rushed toward him and leaped toward his leg. She climbed haphazardly up his frame to perch on his shoulder. "What does Master Kurogane want to do today?"
"Get the hell off me!"
"Oooh scary!" Sumomo cried as she bounced off his shoulder and ran to hide under the couch.
Kurogane steeled himself against the cold. When this failed, he grabbed the afghan hanging over the sofa to cover himself. His eyes narrowed as they turned toward the window.
Fay was hunched forward, forehead resting on the air conditioning unit.
Kurogane frowned as he noted ice crystals forming in blonde hair.
"Climate control OFF!" he barked.
The air conditioner unit whirred to a halt.
The top pane of glass slid upward.
Kurogane peeled the wizard away from the grate. Blue eyes opened slowly.
Fay grinned. "Sorry, I must have fallen asleep…"
"Only you could sleep in this frozen hell hole…especially with that pink thing dancing all around."
Fay was confused. "Mokona must have set it…"
Fay grinned and planted a quick kiss on the ninja's lips. "We should order room-service for dinner!"
Kurogane flexed his fingers and realized they had lost all feeling in short time since he had entered the glacial suite. "No."
* * * * *
Seishiro was concerned that his young friend was enjoying his MLT a bit too much. True, the mutton was nice and lean and certainly worthy of a lip-smack or two, but the glazed-over eyes and drips of saliva falling from the corners of the kid's mouth were…unnerving. "Maybe we should go get a drink…" he suggested.
Syaoran set his sandwich down. He was going to need a cigarette first.
Seishiro proffered his pack. He had never seen the kid smoke before, but then, he had never seen him so into a sandwich before either…
Syaoran carefully lit the cigarette and inhaled.
Seishiro braced himself; certain the kid would lurch over the railing to puke at any second. After a few seconds, however, he found himself impressed by the smooth in-and-out drags Syaoran was managing.
Something was wrong. The goodie-two-shoes kid should not be sucking down tobacco like it was candy.
Surely even the most graphic Hello-Kitty-smut crossover novels could not be that good.
* * * * *
"Turn left here!" Sumomo chirped, pointing down a dusky street.
Kurogane turned his head to glare at the persacom gripping onto his shirt collar. "Do you have a setting that doesn't make me grind my teeth?"
"So grumpy," Fay chuckled, catching Sumomo as she leapt from the ninja's shoulder to his own. "You were the one who wanted to go out to eat, and she's so handy with directions!" He patted the smiling persacom on the head.
"We're going right," the ninja announced, not about to let his well-honed sense of direction be one-upped by a pink-haired dancing doll.
"Warning! Warning! You're heading into the main shopping district! Prepare to be approached!"
Neither of the duo could possibly have prepared for the lighting-fast assault of the perfume vendors, but Fay was fairly certain that the perfume vendors had not anticipated the ninja's lightning-fast temper either. The speed with which the vendors scattered was nothing out of the ordinary, but the ragged impressions they left in the wall upon impact left the magician staring, gape-jawed.
"This is why I'm sexier. No one likes violent men."
"I'm not violent. I'm 'sexy-with-an-air-of-danger.'"
"You should explain that to the security guards heading this way."
* * * * *
Syaoran was well into his fourth whiskey. Seishiro had always brought out the worst in him, but tonight the older man's influence seemed to be especially strong.
"So seriously, you're still with the moe princess?"
"She's not moe – and yes, I'm still with her."
"Looks a lot like your mom, hmm?"
"Not that there's anything wrong with that. Your mom was hot."
"Well, yeah, but…wait, what?"
Seishiro only paused. "You've got all their memories, huh?"
"That's gotta be awkward."
"I try not to think about it."
"Hmm…so," Seishiro shifted, leaning on his elbow to leer more effectively across the table. "Who would you say is better in the sack, your mom or the princess?"
"I'm going to have to go with your princess, myself, but that's mostly because I haven't seen your mom in ages."
Syaoran signaled to the bartender that he was ready for a fifth.
"Oh come on kid, I'm only taking the piss."
"Your mother was much better."
"Why do I even bother coming out with you?"
"Because it gives you a chance to act like an asshole in public and blame it on someone else."
"Ah, yes. That's it."
* * * * *
"I told you you could never out-sexy me."
"It's just a Kleenex sample; they were handing them out to everyone."
"Yes, but I got three packs, and Kuro-sama didn't get any."
"I didn't want any."
"I also got a hug."
"From a panhandler who tried to steal your wallet!"
"He wasn't trying to steal my wallet; he was trying to squeeze my ass!"
"That's even worse."
"Either way, it was your fault we got kicked out of the restaurant."
"We weren't kicked out, we were asked to leave."
"Because Kuro-sama smashed a pitcher of water."
"Tch! It was an accident! My fingers are still numb from the sub-zero temperature you had the room set at."
"And because the waitress left her phone number on the napkin."
"And because…wait, she did?"
Fay smiled and grabbed the ninja's hand. "Oh gods, you're right, they're like icicles."
"I told you, I'm 'sexy-with-an-air-of-danger', not a needlessly violent douche-bag."
"How could I ever doubt you?"
"Hmph. Let's go in here and get a drink."
* * * * *
Syaoran was beyond happy to see two familiar faces enter the bar and waved them over a little too enthusiastically. Seishiro was less excited about the new additions to their group and wrinkled his nose as the magician and the ninja sat down at the table.
"Are you wearing ladies perfume?"
"There was an incident earlier," the blond one explained.
"Anyway…" Seishiro continued, turned away from the rosewater-scented duo with a suspicious glance, "Syaoran was just informing me that he's been entirely faithful to his moe princess back home, and I just flat out don't believe him."
Fay raised an eyebrow. "Why? He's a good kid. And aren't you the one chasing a single lover through different dimensions?"
"Of course, of course," Seishiro waved the question away. "You know…it'd be nice to drink champagne every night, but sometimes Boone's Farm is all you can get your hands on."
"Why are you snorting at that?" the magician demanded, glaring over the table at the ninja.
"It was a funny expression!"
"Well, I don't know what 'Boone's Farm' is, and I don't think I want to. I'm going to find the juke box." The wizard pushed away from the table and stomped toward the back of the building.
"Sumomo will come too!"
Seishiro snickered. "I don't think he wants to know either…"
Syaoran eyed the ninja carefully. "Did you guys have a fight, Kurogane?"
Kurogane crossed his arms over his head and leaned back. "Nah, he's just pissy because I won't concede that he's sexier than me. He'll get over it."
"He is quite pretty," Seishiro noted casually, watching the mage's backside as he skipped toward the juke box.
"And he's always getting chased by well…everyone," Syaoran added.
"Look," Kurogane spat, "I'm not getting into this with you two. Sexual assault is not a compliment. I am the sexiest member of our group. End of conversation."
"It isn't?" Seishiro looked genuinely confused.
"NO!" the ninja growled and turned toward his younger companion, "And if this is where you're getting relationship advice from, it's no wonder you're terrified of women and can't get it up when you're at home!"
"I-I can…I'm n-not…" Syaoran stuttered.
"Well, that was out of line," Seishiro grunted, straitening his back. "I give perfectly good relationship advice! Plotting to kill someone while toying with their emotions and then murdering their sister is a proven recipe for coital bliss!"
Kurogane stared. While he was willing to acknowledge the possibility that he had been pursuing "coital bliss" in a less than efficient manner for his entire life, he definitely was not willing to walk the Path of the Sociopath to find out. He was willing to have another drink to drown out any doubts on this matter, however.
"So here's my real question," Seishiro slurred, leaning over the table to look Syaoran directly in the eye. "Your dad is technically your clone, which means you should have identical DNA. BUT, he apparently knocked up your mom at some point to bring you into the world, so you should have half of her DNA as well. So, explain to me how you can have half of your mother's DNA while still being biologically identical to your father."
"I, well, um…"
"What's DNA?" Kurogane demanded.
"DNA is short for Deoxyribonucleic acid," the purple haired persacom perched on the table began, "It's composed of four bases; Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine, and Thymine; which are attached to sugars and held together by hydrogen bonds. The sequence of the bases codes for different proteins…"
Kurogane clapped a hand over the robot's mouth. "…Kid?"
"It's your genetic make-up."
"It's the stuff in your cells that makes you you. It's why when you cut your face you don't grow a new part that looks like someone else. You get half from your mom and half from your dad. But Syaoran here has all the same DNA as his father…which really shouldn't be possible."
Kurogane tried very hard to keep his eyes from crossing while he wondered just what, exactly, a "cell" was doing on his face. He had spent the night in plenty during his life-time, but was having a difficult time visualizing just where the barred doors would sit between his nose and eyes.
"I have two theories on this," Seishiro continued, his good eye squinting as the alcohol took further control of his motor functions. "The simplest solution says that your dad and mom were closely related and you were just lucky enough to be the happy little in-bred-zygote-who-could and ended up with the half of your mother's DNA that complemented your father's perfectly. I don't know much about your family, but this would certainly explain the messed-up set of genes that Wata-hoosie kid ended up with. Recessive defects run rampant in in-bred families."
"Let's talk about something else…" Syaoran began, but was cut off by a loud burst of feedback from the overhead speakers.
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Blue Parrot!" a disembodied voice bellowed. "Tonight is Thursday, which means it's time for our weekly amateur karaoke competition to begin! All tap beers are half price for the next three hours, so drink up and step up to the microphone!"
"Oh god," Kurogane grunted, slamming his cup onto the table and jumping to his feet. "We have to leave." He was fairly certain that the higher thought-processing centers of his brain would shut down completely if he was forced to listen to "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights" one more time.
Syaoran agreed, though his personal fears were more centered around anything originally recorded by the Village People. "Where's Fay?"
Kurogane looked around. The bar was packed with patrons, most of whom were easily identified as tourists by their brightly colored shirts and mismatched fanny-packs. A crowd was starting to form near the stage; a loud clatter of clinking glasses and applause breaking out as the first competitors stepped forward.
"Why don't you have your persacom here call the other one?" Seishiro suggested
"Right," Syaoran agreed, motioning to Kotoko while still scanning the crowd.
"Anyway, back to what I saying…"
Syaoran gulped his drink. "Right. And what's option number two?"
"I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday. Parking by the lake and there was not another car in sight…"
Syaoran's eyes grew wide in terror as he watched Kurogane's neck inflate. If the noise from the crowd had been a few decibels lower he was certain he would have been able to hear the ninja's teeth grinding in time to the song.
Seishiro continued, oblivious to or willfully ignorant of the ninja's festering rage. "Option two is basically the same thing, except that the only differences between your parents' genes are the X and Y chromosomes."
Syaoran snapped his head back to Seishiro, suddenly disinterested in the shade of crimson blossoming onto his friend's face. "So I'm still the happy little in-bred-zygote-who-could?"
"That's never been in question."
"Has anyone ever told you that you're a real asshole?"
"Many times, my dear, many times. But what I'm really saying here is: have you considered the very real possibility that you and the moe princess are well on the way to making little three-headed babies?"
"Though it's cold and lonely in the deep dark niiiiiiiiight…I can see paradise by the dashboard light."
"We have to get him out of here…" Syaoran looked nervously at Kurogane, who had worryingly added an eye-brow tic into his bodily repertoire of snarling, grinding, and inflating.
"He's not answering," Kotoko announced, turning toward Syaoran. "Would you like me to dial again?"
"No…" Syaoran trailed off. He wondered if he would be able to get Kurogane out of the bar without Fay in tow. Previous experience said "no," but previous experience was also littered with the corpses of evenings ruined by burst blood vessels in the ninja's forehead from trying to restrain himself.
"Here." Seishiro passed a pair of headphones and a book across the table. "Distract yourself. I'm not ready to leave yet."
Kurogane eyed the device suspiciously, then gave in and plugged the buds into his ears. After a moment's fiddling with the controls, he managed to find something suitably angry to pump into his head at full volume. He shot Seishiro a final death glare and flipped open the book.
Syaoran gaped at Seishiro. "That was…uncharacteristically nice of you…"
"Not really," the dark haired man grinned. "Apart from what he's playing now, that thing is entirely filled with Justin Bieber tracks."
"Never mind. Say, isn't that your friend there?"
Syaoran followed the finger pointing toward the stage.
Kurogane was going to kill him.
Syaoran was fairly certain that the magician had entered the bar wearing a t-shirt and jeans. He was absolutely positive that Kurogane would have been too embarrassed to be seen in public with a man wearing a ripped denim miniskirt and hot pink fishnet tights. He had no idea where the beehive wig had come from.
"On nights…like this…when the world's a bit…amiss, and the lights go down across the trailer park…"
Kurogane's nose shifted half an inch higher on his face as the track pumping through the headphones changed. He mashed a few buttons on the controls before giving up and ripping the buds out of his ears. He pounded them down onto the table and shot an angry glare at Seishiro. "What is this shit?" he demanded, his ears pricking up as they registered the sounds coming from the stage.
Syaoran braced himself. Seishiro smiled.
Kurogane rolled his eyes and went back to the book.
"Well that was anti-climatic," Seishiro mumbled, swigging a bit too eagerly from his cup.
"I put on some make-up. Turn on the 8-track. I'm pulling the wig down from the shelf…"
"Hmph," one red eye glared up from the book. "I've seen this act before, and I can guarantee you I'll see it again. Right now, I'm more interested in the…edits…you've made to this book. Tell me, do you have something against western names?" An evil glint flashed in the ninja's eyes.
"Huh?" Syaoran was confused.
"He's crossed out every mention of 'Bella' and 'Edward' and replaced them with 'Seishiro' and 'Subaru.'"
Seishiro only smiled. "Trust me, it's a vast improvement."
It was Syaoran's turn to roll his eyes. "You've haven't gotten far enough – he's also added in several chapters analyzing and insulting Kamui's taste in leather chaps."
"It's a terrible book."
On stage, Fay slipped the final wig of the set onto his head and shook its long blond locks around him. As he launched into the bridge, he silently cursed himself for his choice of platform stiletto boots; this particular series of jumps and kicks had a high potential for botched landings. Grinning as the ball of his left foot came down for the last time on the stage, he paused to catch his breath as Sumomo lead the audience through the refrain. He had to admit he was impressed with the persacom's ability to mimic his every move while sitting on his head. He squinted toward the entrance, where he had left his companions earlier and drew in a sharp breath.
Kurogane stood hunched over the table, snarling lips pulling back into his cheeks, his fists bearing down onto the cheap Formica covering. Seishiro was bent forward as well, his cheeks inflated and red as he huffed angrily at the ninja.
The wizard kept his eyes on the table as he launched into a final repetition of the refrain. Barely two words had escaped from his mouth when the ambiance of the bar was split apart by a hoarse battle-cry.
"Listen to ME, asshole! VAMPIRES DON'T FUCKING SPARKLE!"
Fay leapt from the stage as Seishiro's fist connected with Kurogane's jaw, and darted through the confused crowd toward the table. He reached his companions just as the table was upended and lifted over the ninja's head. Without a second thought, he conjured a string of characters and bound the table to the ceiling before it could come crashing down on the bespectacled man's face.
Kurogane growled, spinning toward the mage. "What the hell are you doing?"
"I'm not going to pri…" Fay began, but was silenced as Syaoran's foot slammed into Seishiro's face with a loud CRACK.
"Holy shit, I think the kid broke his nose."
* * * * *
The three men flung themselves into a darkened alley to catch their breaths.
"I…think…Syaoran…out-sexied us both…tonight…" Fay panted, yanking away the thigh-high boots.
"I thought…you said…no one liked…violent…men…?" the ninja huffed.
"Violent, no. But everyone likes a man who can shut down a raving lunatic with one kick to the head."
"No…shit," the ninja agreed, ruffling Syaoran's hair and grinning. "Although you weren't bad yourself. Can't believe you leapt off the stage without breaking those heels."
Fay smirked. "And Kuro-sama's self-restraint was particularly admirable…well…at least until you almost bashed Seishiro's head in with the table. That air-of-danger was a full-on hurricane."
"Not to bust up the love-fest," Syaoran said steadily, patting his shirt to make sure the persacoms were still safely attached to his buttons, "but we should probably get out of here before those sirens get any closer."
Fay straightened up, tossing the boots to the ground. "You're right. I think I can manage something so no one will see or hear us…"
* * * * *
Alone, locked in a darkened room, Mokona plotted revenge. Someone was going to pay for leaving it out of this chapter...