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-CREAK CREAK CREAK CREAK-

“Mpphft…” Fay forced his head back into the pillow to put some space between his lips and those of the overly-amorous ninja on top of him. “Kuro-sama, what is that noise?” -CREAK CREAK- “Ah! Ooooh…” Fay reached between them to still Kurogane’s hand. As much as he enjoyed the friction – not to mention the other lecherous uses they’d found for Kurogane’s mechanical arm – that creaking didn’t sound healthy. He pushed the other up into a sitting position.

Kurogane was not amused. He huffed angrily and leaned back down to renew his assault on the mage’s lips. “It’s nothing…” he muttered breathlessly.

“It’s not nothing,” Fay leaned back again and wrenched the mechanical arm up.

Kurogane winced slightly as several bolts flew off and scattered across the floor.

“Kuro-rin…”

Kurogane looked at the door, at the floor, at the ceiling…anywhere but into the piercing blue gaze he was certain was waiting with some sort of reprimand. Or worse, was going to be coupled with a fist charging toward his head in a moment. Maybe he should chance a quick look, after all…

Fay only stared, concerned. “How long has this been going on?” he demanded shortly.

“It’s…I don’t know…” Kurogane ran his mechanical fingers through his hair, scowling when a loose prong caught and wrenched several black strands free. “It’s not like I can do anything about it, anyway. We haven’t been back to Piffle in years.” He frowned, eyeing the hand and flexing its fingers. “No one here is going to have a clue what to do with it…”

“Maybe you should just take it easy,” Fay offered, running his fingers over the metallic joints, “So it doesn’t get any worse.”

“Take it easy until when, exactly?” Kurogane scoffed, snatching his hand back, “It’s not like it’s going to heal. I can’t very well grow a new arm.” He immediately regretted saying this and laid the hand back in Fay’s lap. “Look, I…”

Fay smiled. “I know what you meant, Kuro-sama,” he paused, squinting, “And you can’t very well grow a new arm… Not like this, anyway.”

“What do you mean not like this?!”

Fay looked thoughtful.

Kurogane shuddered. “Whatever you’re planning…”

There was a flash of bright blue light and Kurogane closed his eyes, half expecting his arm to blow up or catch fire. Only after several minutes had passed without the pyrotechnic demolition of his prosthetic or the smell of smoke assaulting his nostrils did he deign to open them again.

His arm towered in front of him, apparently several stories high and glistening in the moonlight.

“What the hell?” his eyes grew wide as his voice registered approximately three octaves too high in his ears and flailed to clap his hand over his mouth. This, however, caused him to lose all sense of balance and sent him crashing face-first into the blankets. He fumbled for a moment, unsure of what the hell had just happened, and even less sure why moving his arm would throw him off balance like that…

“Kuro-mander!” Fay exclaimed from somewhere in the room. Kurogane winced. Why was his voice so damned loud? And where was that idiot anyway-

"Ahhh!! Kurogane screamed as a gigantic, grinning, blond head appeared in front of him. “What the-

“Calm down now, Kuro-tan,” Fay soothed, tapping an enormous finger against Kurogane’s nose, “Look how pretty you are!” The wizard produced a mirror that was remarkably similar to the one that sat on the bedside table, only a hundred times bigger.

Kurogane stared. A shiny black face, wide but flat and fitted at the corners with blood red eyes, stared back.  He twitched, turning for a better view of a long, slender torso supported by three splayed legs and decorated with an intricate, splotchy red pattern traced down its length. He forced himself to stop twitching as he realized the plump tail waving about behind him was pulsating in time with each surge of anger racking his diminutive frame.

What the hell did you do to me?”

“Well, I think that should be obvious, Kuro-pon,” Fay smiled brightly, “I turned you into a newt!”

“Why the hell would you do that? Change me back right now!”

“Relax,” Fay insisted, picking the struggling ninja up by his tail and dangling him at face-height, “You’ll get better.”

“Get better how?!” Kurogane huffed, and small puff of flame burst from between his lips. This was surprising, but not at all unwelcome. He huffed again – for emphasis.

Fay swatted at his eyebrows with his free hand, sending a few charred bits of hair floating to the ground. “Now that’s just unnecessary!” he frowned, lifting Kurogane a bit higher, “Don’t you want your arm back?”

“How is this going to get my arm back?”

“It’ll grow back if you're a newt,” Fay assured him, holding up the mirror again, “See, you already have a little nub sprouting!”

Kurogane stopped thrashing just long enough to catch a glimpse of his side in the mirror. The tinniest of nodules stuck out where his shoulder had long since healed, barely big enough to be noticed. He flapped it curiously for a second before narrowing his eyes and huffing out a small but angry wisp of flame.

“I don’t care! I didn’t ask for this! Change me back!”

“Well, I would hardly expect my notoriously gumpy ninja to be, oh, how shall we say…acquiescent to this little change?” Fay’s eyes sparkled in the dim light, which only served to piss Kurogane off further.

“Cut the fancy talk and change me back, you bastard!”

“I can’t!” Fay smiled happily, “If I change you back now, you’ll still have that gross little nub and I’ll have wasted magic.”

Don’t mock my nub! I mean – damn it; change me back!” He twisted in the wizard’s grip – this form was surprisingly limber – and clamped his jaws around the tip of a finger. “Un I meh fuggn lit nah!”

“That hurts, Kuro-rin,” Fay muttered, tugging gently at Kurogane’s tail and managing to loose his finger from the newt’s mouth, “This is all for the best. I promise!”

Kurogane sneered (as best as he could; this face wasn’t really conducive to expression) and puffed another ball of flame. Fay winced as the fire collided with his knuckle and stretched his arm to hold the querulous amphibian further out. He chuckled lightly as he reached toward the nightstand.

“Good-night, Kuro-spark.”

“Damn it! I’ll give you a spark! I’ll burn your hair off, you-”

Kurogane was quickly silenced as he found himself unceremoniously dumped into a glass of water. He splashed about a bit, casting angry glares toward the wizard settling into the sheets and muttering incoherent slurs, before settling down beneath the gentle ebb and flow of the water’s surface.

He’d be damned if he would ever admit how good it felt.




Kurogane paddled back and forth, cursing anything and everything that had the misfortune of crossing his line of sight. He wasn’t sure what he hated most; waddling around on three legs was decidedly more difficult than lacking just an arm, but the cruddy, crumbly, fishy pellets being foisted on him as “food” were clamoring quite furiously for the championship title. They didn’t even taste like real fish, and they sure as hell didn’t slurp properly on the way down. It was all just so…demeaning.

The obnoxious Day-Glo spaceship taunting him from the corner certainly wasn’t making this experience any more tolerable. He huffed angrily and melted a rudder. Stupid plastic piece of crap. Countless hours spent training, millions of enemies defeated, the world saved from oblivion…and here he was swimming laps around a Plexiglas terrarium. A Plexiglas terrarium decorated with silly, childish toys by a silly, childish idiot…

He hadn’t asked for this. He had, in fact, vehemently protested the entire setup. The little glass of water on the bedside had been more than adequate for keeping his skin moist (it wasn’t good, it wasn’t even fine…he wasn’t going to assign positive adjectives to any part of this situation if he could help it). It was just…cold at night! He needed warmth, damn it, and this cold-blooded body wasn’t doing a damned thing to provide him with any. He hadn’t been planning to kiss the wizard (it was going to be ages before he allowed even the barest of physical intimacies after this little misadventure), he had just wanted to be close enough to usurp some of his body heat! It wasn’t his fault Fay had chosen that moment to roll over, and it certainly wasn’t his fault the bastard’s mouth was open! “Oh no, Kuro-toxic! No kisses for you! Your skin is poison!” Bah! That had been enough to coax him back into a corner, far, far away from the mage for the night; the sparkling, neon prison was just overkill.

He scrambled out of his “pond” to curl up on the deck of a plastic boat. The boat was okay, he supposed; it was suitably manly and comfortable for afternoon naps. Not that he took afternoon naps! It was just, well, the sun lamp was right there and being cold-blooded tended to wear him out and it was so nice and warm and –

Oh screw it. He was taking a nap, and that was it. He curled his tail around his face.

-THUNK THUNK THUNK-

He landed in the water with a splash, slightly dazed from the impact, and rubbed his head. How many times had he told them not to tap on the glass? It was like having his eardrums assaulted with tympani mallets, for crying out loud. He glared up at the perpetrator.

“Kuroooo-puuu…”

Kurogane winced. That manjuu was troublesome enough when he towered several meters above it; suddenly finding himself out-sized by a 5-1 ratio was downright horrifying. It had (thankfully) taken the wizard’s warnings about the toxicity of his skin to heart and ceased trying to snarf him down like some sort of exotic appetizer after the first day or so, but still – every damned day

“Let’s snuggle!”

“NOOO!” Kurogane clambered quickly out of the water and dove beneath the spaceship. It smelled horrible – molten plastic and loathing was not a scent combination he would be recommending to any major retailers, no matter how strapped for cash they were in the future – and worse, he could taste the repulsive mixture on his tongue.

“Silly Kuro-puu,” Mokona continued, lifting the lid off the terrarium, “You don’t have to snuggle me…” It produced a large shears from behind its back.

“What the…?! What are you doing, manjuu?!”

“Fay says newts can regenerate,” Mokona giggled, grabbing at him, “So if I chop you in half, there will be two Kuro-puus! One to be grumpy and one to snuggle!”

Kurogane froze, staring at the shears gleaming just inches from his face. One on hand, if there were two of him, they could probably team up and take down the manjuu in mere seconds. On the other…there were already too many Syaorans and too many Sakuras; he really didn’t think his brain could handle a duplicate of himself as well. Besides, if past experience was anything to judge by, one of him would end up getting stabbed and probably reborn as his own grandmother and he really didn’t want to deal with that kind of family drama – he had enough as it was without worrying about the effects of that, thankyouverymuch

No, he was going to have to slip past the Fluff Ball of Damnation to preserve both his dignity and his family tree. Well, his family tree at least, as he was fairly certain there was no dignity in the way he was currently hobbling three-leggedly up the manjuu’s back and over the side of the tank. It was a good thing that little beast didn’t have fingers…

He tossed himself rather haphazardly off the edge of the table and scrambled as best he could across the floor. Faster, faster…so close to freedom! He rounded the corner, all too aware of the thudding of the manjuu’s feet against the floor boards just behind him, the threatening SHING of the scissors it wielded as the blades scraped against one another…

And then the room fell silent. Kurogane slowed his pace and tentatively turned his head to see what had happened to his assailant. Apparently it hadn’t rounded the corner after him, and he tiptoed cautiously along the edge of the wall to see what or who he had to thank for his continued bodily unity.

He was beyond grateful to find Syaoran forcefully restraining the struggling Mokona and sternly explaining just why it shouldn’t be in such a hurry to dismember its traveling companions. He thought the explanation would have benefitted from a few more well-placed expletives and a thrashing or two, but at this point he wasn’t going to be picky. He exhaled a sigh of relief as the manjuu dropped the scissors and scampered away to sulk, and crept out toward the kid’s feet.

“Are you okay, Kurogane?” Syaoran asked as he gently lifted his newt-bodied companion to eye-level.

“I’m fine,” Kurogane grumbled, “Thanks, kid.”

“Do you need anything?”

“No, just put me back in my tank. I’m kind of tired,” he paused, looking as thoughtful as a newt can look, “On second thought, grab me some toothpicks…”




This was much better. Kurogane couldn’t help but admire the kid’s handiwork as he hobbled about on the tooth-pick crutch the other had crafted for him. He was grateful for his assistance in keeping it well-fitted as well; in the two weeks he had spent in this ridiculous body, his once-tiny nub had lengthened into nearly half an arm. He wasn’t about to admit it, but this growth made him ridiculously happy as well. He was almost willing to forgive the bastard mage for this betrayal. 

Almost.

“Come on, Kuro-pii, do your trick!”

“No! I am not some pet that you can train to do tricks for food!”  Kurogane slipped back into the water and swam toward the opposite edge of the tank.

“But I saved a cookie for you!”

“I’m not hungry and I certainly don’t want a damned cookie!” Kurogane grunted, but his growling stomach betrayed him. He sighed. “Go get some fish.”

“The lady at the market said you can’t eat the fish in this world; the water has too much mercury or something,” Fay pouted, “Come on, Kuro-rin. Just one little trick? I did buy some meat you can have…”

Kurogane stared at  the wizard with distain. “Food first,” he conceded.

“Hurray!” Fay skipped toward the kitchen, emerging a moment later with a blue can and a fork. He pried the lid off the tank and dropped a small forkful of pink, pasty something into Kurogane’s food dish.

Kurogane sniffed. “What is this?”

“It’s a treat, darling. Just try it,” Fay smiled as he plopped another forkful into the bowl.

“Hmph,” Kurogane grunted, but took a tentative mouthful anyway. It was…well, he’d had worse. It was definitely better than the not-fish pellets at any rate. And it slurped. He glared up at the wizard. “More.”

Hyuuu, Kuro-mander is a SPAM fiend! Who knew he would go gaga for canned meat-product?” Fay exclaimed, scooping another forkful into the dish, “But no more until you’ve done your trick!”

“Whatever,” Kurogane mumbled, slurping down his dinner. What the hell was SPAM anyway? And why did he have the feeling he was going to regret eating it? Bah! This new arm had better be magnificent

Kurogane backed slowly away from his empty food dish and stared resignedly up at the wizard. Fay grinned mischievously and held a candle into the tank. 

Kurogane huffed.

Hyuu! He did his trick!” Fay squealed and ran off toward the kitchen, “Look! Look! He lit the candle!”

“Don’t wave it around like that, you moron!” Kurogane shouted after him, “I’m sure as hell not relighting it for you!” Damn it. He’d been reduced to a pocket lighter. Or possibly a party trick. Not that it mattered either way – both were equally humiliating. 

He needed a nap.

He hobbled over to his boat, his toothpick crutch gently pat-tapping against the terrarium floor, and hauled himself onto the deck. At least his sun lamp was comforting.




Fingers! He had fingers!! A month in this tank suddenly seemed worth it as he wiggled them back and forth in front of his face! Ahahaha! And no creaky metal joints or bolts that rusted and popped off!  

Where was that bastard wizard? Kurogane had an over-powering urge to hug him…or at least not-maul him to his face.

He settled for splashing back and forth in his pond until Fay woke up. Today was going to be the best day in, well…a long time.

“Kuro-myuu…” Fay gurgled sleepily as he rolled over to face the terrarium, “Why are you making so much noise? Do you have any idea what time it is?”

“It’s time to change me back!” Kurogane shouted, banging against the glass, “Look! Fingers!”

“Mmm…that’s nice,” Fay murmured and closed his eyes, “Go back to sleep.”

Sleep? Surely he couldn’t be serious! He. Had. Fingers. “WAKE UP YOU LAZY BASTARD AND CHANGE ME BACK!!”

“Later, Kuro-pii,” Fay yawned, “I’m sleepy…”

“NOW!” Kurogane insisted, trashing his tail against the water, but Fay was already snoring softly.  How could he be so utterly nonchalant? This was a major development! Four major developments, if one was inclined to count them! He kicked at the obnoxious Day-Glo spaceship and huffed.

He realized his blunder seconds later as the ship, already reduced largely to charcoal through his continued flame-puffing, caught fire and tipped forward. Stellar. Now he was going to burn to death before he even got to enjoy the arm he had sacrificed his time, pride, and sanity to grow. He almost wished he had let Mokona slice him in half…at least then his odds of survival would be double…

He splashed water furiously at the flames – making good use of his new hand before his short life sputtered out amidst the crackling embers. The smoke was overwhelming, however, and his last thought before blackness overtook him was to curse that damned wizard one…last…time




There was something fuzzy nuzzling against his cheek. He cracked an eye open, fully prepared to find a towering manjuu-beast lording it over him, and was pleasantly surprised to find only a bun-sized ball of fluff resting on his shoulder. 

His other eye shot open. If Mokona was small, then…

“Well, good morning, Kuro-soot.” Fay was perched at the end of the bed, somehow managing to look faintly amused while frowning. “You gave me quite a scare there.”

“You scared Mokona, too!”

“Yes,” Fay continued, standing up, “You’re lucky Syaoran’s not awake. Goodness knows how he’d react to watching his big, scary ninja father defeated by a little bit of smoke,” he grinned, “But it appears you’ll live to fight another day.”

“Hmph,” Kurogane grimaced, “Damned spaceship…"

“It’s not the spaceship’s fault someone has a temper,” Fay chuckled, “All it did was stand there, after all. Now, why don’t you rest here a bit. I made you some breakfast – I’m sure you’re hungry after all this.”

“Yeah…” Fay had already started toward the kitchen. Kurogane leaned back into his pillow and stared at his arm, wiggling his fingers in front of his face. They were pretty – the four of them – and he had to admit that he was very pleased to-

God damn it. 

“Why the hell do I only have four fingers?!”

Fay shrugged as he shuffled back into the room carrying a try. “Probably because you only grew four…”

“Are you kidding me?!”

“No…well, come on now, Kuro-pon. It’s better than none, isn’t it?”

“It’s…oh whatever,” Kurogane grumbled. The mage had a point. It wasn’t a good point; it wasn’t a point he particularly wanted to accept, but there wasn’t really much he could do about it. Besides, he was exhausted and starving. “Breakfast?”

Fay leaned in closer. “Kiss first.”

“Breakfast first.”

“Nuh-uh. It’s been soooo long since Kuro-newt gave me a kiss I’ve forgotten what it’s like!”

That’s your own fault! I’m hungry, damn it!”

Fay said nothing further, but held the tray just out of Kurogane’s reach and stared with puppy-dog eyes.

“…Fine…”

Fay chuckled as he pulled back moments later and set the tray to rest over the ninja’s lap. “So much for not doing tricks for food, Kuro-pet.”

“You bastard…”

January 2013

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