uakari: (Accidentally)
[personal profile] uakari

Prompt: Parent and Child
Title: Imitation
Rating: NC-17
Spoilers: Whole manga
Any author's notes: Uh...I dunno what I did here, but it's long and smutty XD

It's funny, he thinks, keeping his eyes lightly closed, how quickly time passes, seasons change, people change, and yet Kurogane manages to stay the same. Oh, sure, there are the inevitable changes that come with age; the barest of creases have begun puckering the corners of his eyes, his hair is slightly shorter (though this is largely thanks to an over-zealous barber and has less to do with age or any mark of maturity) and the occasional greys have begun to sprout around his temples. Apart from this, though, he thinks, the ninja is still so



It's seven o'clock. He knows this, not because he's acutely aware the angle of the sunlight spilling through the window or even because the clock on the bedside table is especially conspicuous with its brilliantly polished silver casing and rhinestone encrusted face. No, he knows it's seven o'clock purely by the particular derisive grunt directed toward him – less vicious than the guttural "Tche" usually reserved for cursing exceptionally troublesome opponents or overly familiar manjuus, but slightly more petulant than the breezy "Feh" that is usually accompanied by crossed arms and a curt nod and translates roughly to "Why yes, I suppose that is a moderately reasonable suggestion."

This particular "Che" means the ninja has been awake since dawn – training, no doubt – and would very much like the tangle of limbs still nested within the pillows and blankets to believe that he is terribly offended by their laziness. It's also a not-so-subtle indication, the wizard has learned over the years, that he's hungry and would like breakfast soon, thankyouverymuch.

Like some sort lizard-brained food gathering ritual, Fay smirks to himself.

His feet swivel instinctively toward the edge of the bed before he realizes what he's doing. He freezes, hoping he'll be able to play it off as shifting in his sleep; he's not in the mood to face the day just yet.

He squeezes his eyelids together and holds his breath. Speaking of lizard-brained, how's that for a conditioned response?

There's no need for him to drag himself out of bed just yet. Today, they are in Clow – he's reminded by the parched air wafting through the balcony (though not parched enough to convince him to shrug off the heavy duvet) – and there are kitchens and servants and all sorts of food and dear gods, he hopes Kurogane had the decency to send someone to wake Syaoran or at the very least knock before he barged into Sakura's room and dragged the young man out to spar… He winces inwardly, images of Kurogane standing down the entire royal guard flitting through his mind.

He fights back a smile and turns his face into the pillow, allowing one eye to open a slit as the customary morning assault on the dresser commences with a BANG. He never remembers. This room has been designated as theirs for the past…gods, how many years have they been traveling? Surely enough that he feels no shame in laughing inwardly at the ninja's inability to remember that the bottom falls out of the sock drawer if it's yanked it too roughly. BANG. And that the rest of the drawer is likely to collapse as well when that happens…

He stuffs down his laughter – it has been quite awhile since they've been here. Besides, he's about to miss the best part of the show…

It's the same way every morning. Socks always go on first – something Fay can never figure out and which amuses him to no end. Left leg goes first into his pants, and before he fastens them, he'll pull on his shirt and tuck it into the waistband. And pull it right back out again once he's finished. One last towel drying of the hair –


Complete with grumbling upon finding that last little bit of soap behind his ear – because he knows he's rinsed there, dammit – and followed by the final fwap of the towel being haphazardly flung over the mirror. Now the final shuffle to make sure he hasn't forgotten anything – he has, and it's invariably his ring that he refuses to wear to bed – and the final touch –

"Get up. I can tell you're not sleeping by your breathing."

"Wah. You're hopeless, Kuro-tan"

A good husband is healthy and absent.
-Japanese proverb


The child of a frog is a frog.
-Japanese proverb

The only light in the room was a flickering candle, but it was more than enough to occupy his eyes and therefore more than enough to occupy his thoughts. "Mother?"

"Why are you still awake?"

He shifted restlessly across his bed mat, sprawling tired limbs out in every direction. "I can't sleep. When is father coming home?"

"Soon. It's very busy out of the borders – many new demons have appeared and he's working very hard to keep us all safe. Now rest; we have a long journey into the village tomorrow and you'll need to be strong. You'll be staying with your cousins for a few days – don't you want to be in top shape to run around with them?"

"But what if he comes back while we're away?"

"He would find us. He will always find us."

She sounded so sure, sure enough that he might have believed it, had it not sounded like something out of a children's story. "But how do you know?"

"Because we're his home, you silly boy. And you can always find your way home."

It still sounded like a children's story, or possibly a sappy romance story, but he didn't particularly want to think about romance and all the gross things that went along with it. Besides which, her voice was calming and the candle dying down. Far easier to take her word and drift to sleep.

The air at the top of the tower was much cooler than the apartment Daijoui-san (he couldn't think of her as just "Tomoyo," no matter how she had assured him that they shared a soul) had arranged for them so many floors below. It was a relief, really; while the indoor climate control systems Piffle used to keep their rooms cool during day – when the sun was blistering hot and probably threatened to melt the flimsy plastic-crap everything here seemed to be made of (it had been a rather unfortunate accident in the kitchen that had introduced him to just how easily the stuff could melt and, even more unfortunately, how…uncomfortable the molten goo could be when applied directly to the skin) – did a decent job of keeping temperatures indoors constant, they generally tended toward the warm side of "comfortable," and there was something stifling about the smell. Something about a series of tubes and a condenser…Kurogane didn't really care – it was…musty, or something. Like an old wardrobe; a bit dank and certainly not fresh.

Not that the air out here was much of an improvement, with the faint smell of exhaust blowing through the wind and permeating every breath he took. This was the first technologically advanced world their journey had brought them to since leaving Clow, and the difference in air-quality was palpable. Still, the breeze was nice, and the night sky was relatively clear; a perfect night for lounging on the roof and enjoying the view.

Well, perfect apart for the quiet clanking against his arm…

"Will you stop picking at it?" Kurogane grumbled, extending his newly-fitted prosthetic out and away from the overly inquisitive wizard whose chest it was currently wrapped around, "You're going to break it before they even get the skin put over it."

Fay kicked his head back against Kurogane's midsection, where it was currently resting at a ninety degree angle, and snatched the mechanical arm back, trapping it beneath his shoulder and pinning it tightly in place. "It's not going to break, Kuro-sama," he scoffed and ran his fingers over the interlocking metallic levers, "I just want to see how it works." He tapped against the wrist, "Flex your fingers."


"Please?" Fay begged, slipping his own fingers between the mechanical ones and craning his face around to pout. "Fine," he mumbled when he found himself completely ignored, "I'll do it myself."

Kurogane could practically hear the idiot's grin sparkling and fizzing into the night as he bent and twisted the mechanical fingers and poked at the moving pistons in the forearm. It was an odd feeling, knowing on a visceral level that his fingers were moving, but not being able to feel the wiry, foreign fingers tugging at the joints and wrapping around the metallic levers. He breathed an audible sigh of relief as the fidgeting stopped, though he could still feel the fingers – his fingers – spread lightly, making room for Fay's restless counterparts to fit between. "Satisfied?" he demanded.

Fay clucked his tongue. "Kuro-rin is so selfish," he chastised half-heartedly, "He gets fancy new toys and he won't even share."


"And he's grumpy," Fay hummed as Kurogane's other hand snaked its way across the bigger man's chest and yanked playfully at his hair, "But, I suppose that much is to be expected."

Kurogane was only too happy for the silence that followed – or near silence, at any rate; he did have to admit that the whizzing of dragonflies over head, even this late at night, had a certain musical quality to it. He tilted his head back onto the concrete to get a better look at the sky and absentmindedly twirled the ends of the blond pony-tail splashed across his chest around the ends his fingers. The stars here were disappointing, at least what he could see of them. The city lights penetrated deep into the night and shielded most of them from view. He could only pick out a handful of constellations, here, and only by their brightest stars. In Nihon, he'd been able to…

"What's wrong?" Fay's voice was quiet and devoid of its normal teasing lilt. Kurogane felt a slight tug at his prosthetic arm, but beyond that, the wizard remained still.

"Nothing," Kurogane tilted his chin downward for a better view of the hair tie his flesh fingers had worked their way into and were now tugging testily at, "Sky's irritating."

Fay reached back behind his head and swatted gently at Kurogane's fingers before pulling the tie loose himself and shaking his freed hair to splay out across the ninja's chest. "You're always irritated here," he murmured and pulled Kurogane's hand up to brush against his scalp.

Kurogane flexed his fingers into the blond roots. "We've only been here twice," he reminded Fay sharply, but resigned himself from arguing any further. As irksome as it was, the mage was right; he'd felt as on-edge here the past few days as he had for the entirety of their first stay. He would have brushed it all aside as nothing more than a heightened response to the obscene level of background noise that haunted the air here, but he was not really in the mood to lie to himself-

"It's her, isn't it?" Fay asked, voice barely above a whisper, "Tomoyo. She still reminds you of home."

"Mmm," Kurogane agreed. He wasn't much in the mood to get sucked into a game of twenty questions either.

"I can-" the wizard's voice cut off abruptly, as if it had caught in the back of his throat. "If you want," he began again, momentarily, "I can still take you back."

Kurogane allowed his fingers to extend, bringing his palm down against Fay's head as he allows these words to soak in. In another second, he's whipped his hand back up a few centimeters and brought it crashing back down against the blond crown with a satisfying crack. "Dumbass."

"I'm just being observant, Kuro-tan," Fay murmured, though with considerably more vigor to his voice this time, "You're homesick again, and too stubborn to admit it."

"Feh," Kurogane breathed. It was a moderately reasonable suggestion, he supposed; there was an undeniable part of him that longed for nothing more than to return to Nihon, to reestablish himself as part of Princess Tomoyo's guard, to live out the rest of his life in relative stability…

But there was also an undeniable part that needed to see this journey through. More than that, a part that refused to break the bonds he'd formed with his traveling companions; the kid was doomed to wander time and space, and the mage… "You're not ready to stay in one place," he said simply.

Fay tensed just enough to shift the mechanical shoulder joint. "No," he agreed after a long moment, "I suppose I'm not."

It was fair enough. It was the first time in his life that the mage had been free to make his own decisions, wander as he pleased. He should have that. Someday, when the kids were grown and this impossible quest was completed (if it could be completed, he corrected himself with a hint of sadness), then he might be able to convince Fay to settle once again in Nihon. Until then, he was happy to let the matter rest, to go along with the flow of time, no matter how weaving and twisted theirs might prove to be. "Then I suppose we should keep traveling," he grunted decisively, and snaked his real hand down to cover the wizard's mouth and hold back any protests that might be forthcoming.

He was satisfied to feel teeth sink lightly into his index finger and pull his hand forward with a short nod.

The libraries at Clow are not the best collections that Fay has ever wandered through – they're completely lacking the old, must-scented texts that made Celes's libraries both comfortable and familiar, though Fay supposes this isn't really surprising, considering the acid rain and creeping desert that ravaged Clow's landscape for most of its history. The collections amassed by the royal family in the past generation are impressive enough in their own right, however – far-ranging and full of foreign knowledge – and reflect the emphasis placed on exploration and foreign relations that Sakura has brought to the court. Still, the texts that keep him returning to these halls are not foreign at all, but have been carefully compiled and edited by Yukito over the years, and comprise the sum total of Clow's magical knowledge and research. He's invariably fascinated by whatever rolls out on the scroll in front of him – Clow's magic is far different from what he studied in Celes, and it's always an adventure to see if he can coax some of the spells inscribed there to fruition.

"This isn't going to take all day this time, is it?"

He does wish Kurogane wasn't such a grumpass about the entire exercise every time they come here, though.

"Just a few hours, Kuro-tan," Fay soothes, gripping the ninja's shirtsleeve and dragging him along one of the massive, book-lined corridors, "Then you can go back to having manly staring contests with the prince, or arm wrestling the guards, or whatever it is you do in my absence."

"Che," Kurogane pulls back on his sleeve, but he wizard's grip is vice-tight, "You just want someone to test your little conjurations on, and no one else here is dumb enough to get sucked into being your guinea pig."

Fay has to laugh at this. "Don't be ridiculous, Kuro-rin," he trills, heading ever further in to the stacks, "I just need someone to interpret for me. And you're the only one I trust to do it properly."

"I haven't forgotten the rabbit ears," Kurogane reminds him wryly, "Or the donkey tail."

"Oh, that was just for fun," Fay snips. He slows his steps as they approach a fork in the shelves as they splay out to accommodate the circular construction of the library, and debates which will be the quickest route to the priests' archives. In the end he can't remember (he knows he's written down notes somewhere in their tangled collection of belongings, but he doesn't put it past Kurogane to slip out of his sight in the time it will take to convince Mokona to cough them up), and opts for the left-ward split. It's increasingly noisey – shuffling paper and the occasional clatter of a dropped scroll – as they head further on, and Fay marvels at how much more use the library seems to be getting since their last-

Kurogane crashes into his back a second later; Fay is frozen in place, except for his jaw, which droops ever-lower to the floor as he gawps at the scandal unfolding in front of him.

"Damn it!" Kurogane curses, giving Fay a rough shove forward, "What are you-"

Fay spins back to face him, eyes wide and lips trembling, and reaches up to clap a hand over the ninja's mouth. He slaps his free index finger across his own lips, but doesn't dare to hiss out a warning "shush" around it, instead nodding back toward the way they came. Flee. That's what they need to do. Turn on their heels and run back to their rooms.

Kurogane wrests Fay's hand away with surprising ease for how forcefully the wizard has applied it to his mouth. "…the hell?" he mutters as he strong-arms Fay off to one side to get a better view down the aisle. And then, "Shit."

Fay thinks he should be laughing, or at the very least poking some amount of fun at Kurogane's reaction, but he's having difficulty finding humor in the situation just now and, ever a glutton for punishment, turns his own head back toward the scene to confirm that Kurogane has, in fact, just witnessed the same jumbled up mess he had.

The jumbled up mess is, of course, still there, completely oblivious to the rest of the world, and too occupied with sloppy kisses and wandering hands to care. Fay is almost certain that Sakura's dress had accompanying bloomers with it at breakfast this morning, but those seem to have gone the way of Syaoran's pants, which are currently dangling from a light-fixture mounted so far off the ground that Fay can only guess at how they got there. And there is giggling and panting and all sorts of noises that a parent should never hear their children making-

He nearly loses his footing as a sharp tug at his elbow pulls him back, but falls compliantly into step with Kurogane a moment later as they wind their way back to the entrance. His mind is a whirl – did that really just happen? Did they honestly just barge in on Syaoran and Sakura – their children, for the love of all that is holy! – engaged in intimate squelching in the middle of the goddamned library? He feels his feet slowing and dragging across the stone floor as the full force of what he's just witnessed barrels its way into his chest. Kurogane stops, sighing audibly, and lifts Fay's chin to stare him in the eyes. Fay reels and takes a step backwards.

Kurogane is smiling.

Flabbergasted, Fay just stares for a moment, his nose pulling higher and higher up onto his face. "What are you…?" he begins, but forgets entirely what he was about to say.

Kurogane crosses his arms across his chest and quirks an eyebrow. "Don't tell me this is some sort of shock to you," he half-growls, half-laughs, "They're not kids anymore. Haven't been for a long time."

Fay scowls. He doesn't like Kurogane laughing, and certainly not at him. He knows they aren't kids and he knows that they've probably been up to all manner of horrible, indescribably filthy acts whenever they come back to Clow, but seeing is different from sort of knowing and he really, really wishes he could unsee that. He can't believe his little girl would be so…indiscreet-

"Oi," Kurogane barks and shakes his chin.

"Sorry," Fay mumbles and lifts his chin from Kurogane's grip, rubbing at the tip, "I just wasn't expecting that…"

Kurogane snorts – with humor, which sends a fresh shockwave of irritation roiling through Fay – and rakes a hand through his hair. "Says the Protector Regent of Public Indecency."

"Don't joke, Kuro-sama," Fay snaps, "It doesn't suit you. And what do you mean by that?"

"Oh come on," Kurogane says, "How many times has that kid walked in on us? And in worse places than a deserted library?"

"I-" Fay attempts a quick mental tally and gives up as soon as he runs out of appendages. He sighs; he supposes they really haven't been the best of role models in this regard, though he finds it difficult to regret much. It's just as he used to scold Kurogane – if the father does it, the children will imitate! – though this particular albatross is a bit weightier than he'd imagined when slung around his own neck. Besides which, "That was all so long ago," he mumbles.

"Che," Kurogane scoffs halfheartedly, "Can't have been that long ago."

"Yes," Fay answers, dumbly, "It was." Far too long ago, he realizes, and this is suddenly more upsetting than the eyeful he's just been treated to. He eyes Kurogane warily. He can't actually remember the last time they got up to any sort of public squelching. Come to think of it, it's been a long while since they got up to any in private either… Most nights are just the standard peck on the lips, flip the lights, and snuggle under the covers. Which isn't necessarily bad, but it is kind of boring in the grand scheme of things, and he knows full too well what boredom does to wandering men…

When, exactly, had the tables turned? How had he become the stumbling, dumbstruck, butt-of-the-joke? He searches Kurogane's face for an answer, but only finds more confusion there.

"What's wrong, now?" Kurogane demands sharply.

Fay bites his lip and allows an altogether too-familiar, though recently disused, smile creep onto his face. "Nothing, Kuro-sama," he says, completely unconvincingly, and slips his arm through Kurogane's, "Let's go find some lunch, shall we?"

He can hear the resigned sigh that Kurogane tries to silence as it spills past his lips, feel the trepidation in the ninja's muscles as they head toward the exit, and knows that this mask is not what it used to be. Still, this is Kurogane – his Kurogane – and he'll likely not need it for much longer. He smiles a bit more genuinely at that thought, and grips tighter at the ninja's arm as they push through the doors.

A heart melted by affection must be dammed with desire and locked with lust, lest it splash across the neighboring valley.
-Celesian Proverb

Naughty boys aren't the only ones who need a spanking.
-Kujaku's Guide to Loving Your Neighbor, First Edition


King: a sovereign or monarch who holds by life tenure, and usually by hereditary right, the chief authority over a country and its people.

General: an officer of the armed forces holding the highest rank, subservient only to the king.

The courts at Celes were certainly anything but dull. Court intrigue was, by its very definition…intriguing. Everyone knew the ambassador from Wyndam was carrying on an illicit affair with Ashura's head minister, and had been for the past five years (and probably longer than that – no one really knew for sure, though the birth of a blond haired, hazel eyed daughter to the dark haired, dark eyed Wyndamian couple four years earlier had established a bit of a constraint on the latest possible start date). Likewise, everyone knew to hide their daughters and their sons whenever General Bishamonten returned to Ruval from his post in the outer territories, lest they be returned a week later, limping from exertion and reeking of cooking oil.

All of this paled in comparison, however, to the intrigue and rumors surrounding His Highness Ashura himself. The king had married some years earlier as part of peace negotiations with the Duke of Ostwald in the eastern territories – Shashi, the youngest of the Duke's daughters, joined Ashura on the throne in return unilateral disarmament. Much like her father, though, Queen Shashi was notorious amongst the court for her fiery temper and complete distain for anyone or anything not of direct use to her own whims. It had taken her less than half a year to restyle the whole of Ruval to her liking and less than that again to abandon it completely, fleeing back home to her father in the dead of the night. Ashura, for his part, hadn't seemed overly concerned with her departure – "relieved" was the word most often thrown about in casual discussions of her disgrace – and allowed her to keep her title and upheld the treaties without much fuss. The rest of the court, to the great surprise of the gossip publications, hadn't kicked up much of a fuss either, though it was unclear whether this was an act of obeisance to their king, or simply because the empty space in the king's bed was soon filled by a much more exciting and contentious figure.

Ashura had always kept his legions well filled with the strictest and most volatile soldiers he could amass, and those who rose through the ranks tended to be the boldest and brashest of all. In this respect, General Taishakuten was little different from the rest – perhaps more ruthless and self-assured than most, though this was merely a matter of degree – but his mannerisms at court (where most generals preferred to garner favor with the nobility) were cold and cruel, setting him apart and leaving an icy air of mystery floating in his wake that tantalized his on-lookers and spawned endless tales of his prowess, both on the battlefield and off.

Fay never understood the fits of shock and vapors that whispers of the king's escapades with General Taishakuten would send the court into. It wasn't as if they were any better themselves, with their longing gazes and indiscreet liaisons between bouts of verbal warfare over taxation and land occupancy; by the third year of his tenure in Ruval, Fay had amassed an almost encyclopedic knowledge of public indecencies through their gossip alone. It didn't shock him in the least to know that the man he looked on as his father was enjoying his new lover to his full potential, nor did he find it especially strange that they had elected to conduct their affair in full view of the public. The king should be allowed his happiness, after all, just like any man.

The only thing to shock young Fay – as he discovered, quite by accident, one late winter night – was how willingly King Ashura let slip any semblance of his Kingly role in trysts with Taishakuten. He was unlikely to see the king dominated by any other man in the kingdom.

Fay had tiptoed quietly back to his bedroom after that, marveling at the change in social dynamics sex could bring.

Kurogane douses himself one final time with the wooden bucket, splashing away the last of the suds that still cling to his skin, and eases into the warm water of the bath. It's not quite as warm as he usually likes – the blistering desert air makes anything more than moderately heated unbearable – but it is indisputably relaxing still to let the water envelop him, slipping around the sharper angles of his body and soaking away the sweat and grit of his already-long day.

It's only five thirty – barely early evening – but he's already feeling the strain of the seemingly endless schedule of things he must do here. More than any other world they visit, Clow always feels like a whirlwind of activity; whatever it is they're meant to accomplish here is always dangling just beyond their reach, though none of them seem to have any qualms about chasing after it at full-speed. It ought not to be this way, Kurogane thinks – this is one of the few worlds they pass few that doesn't require them to work for food and shelter or indulge Syaoran's over-the-top research ethics. In theory, they ought to be able to relax here, and yet every time he finds himself clinging tightly to the spare moments he has alone, savoring the quiet. The mage always insists that it's the sheer number of people they know here, the tightness of the bonds between themselves and Clow, but, for all Kurogane knows, it could just as well be the heat getting to him, making him slow and sluggish.

Not that he'll admit to being slow and sluggish, of course.

He checks the clock on the ledge before closing his eyes. Twenty minutes until he's expected for dinner. Or dinner party. Or whatever it is Sakura has planned for them this particular night – he really ought to be keeping better track, but he knows that Fay will have all of it memorized and will recite it to him at the slightest provocation. Which is fine, really – if he wants to be a walking datebook, then Kurogane certainly isn't going to complain for having one less thing to worry about.

He breathes deeply and shades his eyes against the low-angled sunlight beating down against his lids. He's careful not to let himself slip too far into relaxation, lest he nod off completely, and so is acutely aware of the quiet shuffle just beyond the tub and the subtle rise in water level that follows. He cracks an eye open and glowers half-heartedly, "You forgot to wash again."

Fay shrugs from the opposite end of the tub and pulls the binding from his hair, shaking the freed fringe around his shoulders. "Syaoran says you can wash in the tub here," he says lightly, completely ignoring the disgusted face Kurogane is pulling, "And besides which, I'm nowhere near as filthy as you."

"Hmph," Kurogane tilts his head back against the tub ledge and pushes a wave of water down toward the opposite end, "Wash quietly, then."

"Of course, Kuro-sama," Fay sings, and mostly stays true to his word. There is the requisite sloshing and shifting and the distinct odor of something fruity wafting toward across the room, but Kurogane remains otherwise undisturbed. At least for a few minutes, anyway, though he supposes he's not really surprised when he finds his thighs straddled by a sopping wet wizard minutes later. Kurogane flexes his knees and brings Fay slip-sliding into his lap and looking altogether too pleased with the situation. Kurogane smirks and resettles into his stupor, lazily bringing one hand to rest at the small of Fay's back. He can't bring himself to care that the wizard has once again deluged his crystal clear bathwater with cloudy suds, or splashed an obnoxious amount of water over the rim of the tub, or even invaded his space so thoroughly – the air is too warm, the water too wet, and the weight in his lap too comfortable. The fruity scent is growing a bit too strong for his liking, however… "What are you doing?" he mumbles, cracking an eye open to catch a glimpse of the bubble soaked sponge Fay is kneading into an ever greater lather, "I'm clean."

"Nonsense," Fay chides and twines his fingers between Kurogane's, pulling the hand from his back and extending it out to the side, "You missed this patch behind your ear again." He swipes with his free hand and deposits the fizzing blob of suds on Kurogane's nose. "You obviously can't be trusted."

"Hmph." Kurogane squeezes and bends Fay's wrist back –just a bit – for that, but lets the wizard suit himself. The sponge is rougher than the cloth he normally uses, and he can't deny that he enjoys the sharp scrape of tiny teeth against his skin or the warm rivulets of water that cascade down after and soothe away the sting. Fay finishes with his arms and chest and drags the sponge below the water, tracing slow circles across his abdomen and sides. Kurogane groans a bit as Fay drops the sponge altogether, abandoning it to float away in the murky water, and slides his fingertips up the ninja's rib cage, the pads of his thumbs pressing firmly into the dips between each bone and pausing to rub at his nipples, half-wet finger prints catching against the sensitive skin with a slip-jerky rhythm.

The rush of blood and heat to his groin is instantaneous and he lifts his hips smoothly, seeking whatever friction he might find under the water's surface, and pulls the wizard closer. He'd be quite content to stay like this for the rest of the evening, if it weren't for the gnawing ache in the back of his mind that they're supposed to be somewhere, soon. Probably somewhere important, where they'll be missed and called after…

His eyes snap open to focus on the clock. "Shit."

"What's wrong, Kuro-rinta?" Fay mumbles dreamily and drips a palmful of water down his chest.

Five minutes. "We have to go," Kurogane rumbles, "Gonna be late. Come on." He attempts to shift Fay backward, but the wizard wraps his arms around his neck and refuses to be budged. Kurogane sighs exasperatedly as lips graze over his own, eventually subsuming them whole, and a warm tongue invades his mouth. Why is he doing this right now? It's not as if they're lacking for time, and with their own private room here, they're not even lacking for privacy! He shakes his knees, sending Fay bobbing up and down. "Come on," he insists, like a broken record, "We need ungh…" His stern expression melts as Fay's hand wraps around his cock –squeezes – and a jolt of electricity runs straight up to his breast bone.

"Let's stay," Fay breathes steadily into his ear and stands all the hairs up the back of his neck to attention.

"We-" Kurogane grips the edge of the bathtub as Fay rolls his thumb across the crown of his quickly growing erection. "Stop that," he manages to catch the wizard's wrist with his other hand and wrestle it above the surface of the water, "We can't." He stares meaningfully at Fay and suddenly feels as if he's just kicked a goddamned puppy; the mage's face falls with spectacular speed and is almost as swiftly replaced by that goddamned fake smile that turns Kurogane's stomach. What the hell is going on here? "Hey," he barks – not harsh enough to convey any sort of irritation, but strong enough to catch the wizard's attention – and bring's Fay's face down for a chaste kiss on the lips, "The kids are expecting us. Quit being ridiculous."

He's expecting a playful whine, a half-hearted sock to the shoulder, anything but the scowl that he receives at the mention of the children. Still not over this afternoon in the library, Kurogane decides and reaches for the wooden bucket he's left next to the tub. With a smirk, he fills it and dumps the contents over the wizard's head, wriggling free of the confining tangle of limbs in his lap with the temporary shock this delivers. "Up," he insists, hauling himself out of the tub, and offers a hand back. Fay continues to scowl at him for a second, looking for all the world like an angry, drown rat, but eventually accepts and follows the ninja back to their room to dress.

Fay tilted the brim of his top hat down over his eyes and quickly ducked out the back flap of the tent before the manager could ask him just where he'd pulled that rabbit from for his final act or why it had such enormous teeth. He hadn't planned on resorting to actual magic as part of his act, but then, he hadn't planned on the crowd here being so difficult to please, either. A violent lot they were, too – even the children had screamed to see the blood after his "saw my lovely assistant in half" trick. Poor Syaoran had bolted (just as soon as he'd managed to kick off the glittering pair of high heels) after Fay had opened the hatch on the lower box backstage during their act break, and had last been seen somewhere in the vicinity of the lion's cage, rocking back and forth and muttering to himself about the abominable inevitability of circuses and ladies clothing. Fay hoped he was alright – they still had three days left on their contracts here (assuming Mokona's earring didn't start glowing in the interim), and with the owners providing them a tent to sleep in and food to eat along with their meager pay, it was as good a job as any they were likely to find in the this rural section of whatever world they had landed in this time.

Besides which – this circus was a good fit for them. The operators had been in need of a magician after their main act had taken ill the week before, and even if Fay wasn't able to use real magic, his sleight of hand skills were still better than most (even Kurogane had been forced to concede that much, though he had demanded his underwear back after Fay's little "demonstration"). Syaoran was versatile enough to fit into a number of acts here, but had chosen to work as one Fay's assistants – possibly because the other assistant – a young, green-eyed girl with ginger hair – reminded him of Sakura, but probably because the troop of giggling acrobats seemed to stare and make bawdy gesture less often Fay or Kurogane were present…

And the big brute himself…well! Fay had to hand it to whomever designed the costumes here. He'd never seen a singlet actually look good on someone, let alone ooze as much liquid sex as the one the carnival "Strong Man" currently had stretched over his rippling torso. It might have been because he'd never seen a singlet with the thighs cut quite so high, or the back quite so low, but all of that seemed incredibly secondary, at the moment, to the fact that Kurogane was, against all logic and probably several laws of physics, bending a cast iron rod over his head while simultaneously crushing several oak doors into splinters between his thighs. It was fortunate that Piffle's technicians were skilled enough and the synthetic skin they had fitted durable enough to still mask the machinery beneath flawlessly after all this time (Had it really been two years since their last visit? He wondered if they would return a third time…), though he wouldn't have expected any less from people working under Tomoyo. Fay had to admit he was a little impressed, and definitely more than a little turned on. It was rare enough to see the full force of him when Kurogane was fighting – to see it when he was all oiled up and on public display…it was a rare sight to say the least.

And, if the expression on his face as he flung the folded bar across the stage and dusted the wood shards from his legs was anything to judge by, it was about to become even more rare. Oh well, it was good he'd snuck out when he had, then. Fay waded through the crowd toward the side of the stage, where he worked up his best grin to greet the ninja with as he descended the short staircase there.

Kurogane took one look at him and gripped the lapels of his jacket, hauling him up onto the toes of his shoes as he unceremoniously dragged him back behind the tatty curtain that marked the back of the stage.

"Getting quite into your act, aren't you?" Fay coughed as he slumped against the thick oak pillar Kurogane had backed him against. He straightened his jacket and cocked and eyebrow. "Though really, if you wanted to impress the crowd, you could have lifted me rather than just dragging me," he ran an idex finger around the inside of his collar, tugging and twisting to loosen the bunches that had formed beneath his bowtie, "Might have saved me a bit of choking, too…"

"I've had enough of this," Kurogane snapped, "Where is that manjuu?"

"Mokona?" Fay frowned. He hadn't actually seen her since early this morning, but she had seemed enormously eager to get into her role as the petting zoo keeper. "She's probably herding goats by now," he pouted his lips and reached a hand up to caress Kurogane's cheek, "What's wrong, Kuro-tan? I thought you would have liked showing off for all these people. You're not still upset that they wouldn't let you bring Ginryuu on stage, are you? You know it's so much more impressive when the strong man breaks things with his bare hands."

"Che," Kurogane scoffed, pointedly ignoring the fingers snaking into the back of his waistband. "It's all fake," he spat, "The bars, the wood, the weights – it's a joke!"

"Of course it's fake, Kuro-rinta," Fay chuckled, "It's a backwater circus! It's just cheap entertainment!" Really, this couldn't be that bad for him, could it? It wasn't as if the work itself was terribly taxing, and Kurogane really hadn't seemed to be having all that hard of a time giving the people a decent show. Fay studied the quavering sneer looming above him, a slow smile spreading across his face. "Are you still so shy?" he teased, working his finger along the seam of the tight-fitting suit from Kurogane's waist band, across his side, and pausing just at the lower boundary of his chest where the fabric tapered into the long straps that rode over his shoulders.

Kurogane snorted. "I think I'm pretty well used to wearing ridiculous clothes in public, no thanks to you."

Fay pulled the fabric back to snap against the ninja's chest. "I was referring to being on stage, Kuro-sama. But now that you mention it, this little get up really shows off your, um, assets."

"Feh," Kurogane snorted, "It'll do."

Fay grinned wickedly and ran one open palm down the ninja's torso; the other he wriggled between them to fish through the inner pockets of his jacket. "Mmm," he agreed, rising up onto his tip-toes to steal a kiss, "At least something around here is real."

Kurogane quirked an eyebrow, the faintest hint of a grin starting to tease at the corners of his mouth, but his expression was quickly diverted into something straddling the thin line between "confused" and "imminent berserk" by the sudden explosion of something warm and slick to his abdomen. "What the…?"

Fay grinned and waggled a bottle labeled "oil" under Kurogane's nose. "Your left side was looking a bit less glossy than the right," he explained, his expression the picture of innocence, "Thought I would even things up." His fingers worked in careful circles across the ninja's chest, smearing and coaxing the oil across the skin there.

"You bastard," Kurogane hissed through clenched teeth, "Where did you get that?"

"From Umi," Fay sang, continuing his casual molestation, "She said she wouldn't be around today to help keep you oiled up and presentable for the crowd, so I might as well have at it."

Kurogane's lip pulled back into a sneer. "That might be because she seems to have suddenly and inexplicably sprouted a beard," his eyes widened meaningfully, "Which I'm sure you know nothing about."

"Me?" Fay's face drew taught at the scandalous accusation, "Kuro-pon! I would never!" He rubbed more firmly at Kurogane's skin. "Besides, that will teach her to look so smug about it."

"You gave her that horrendous beard."

"Kuro-tan!" Fay admonished, "Don't go making fun of a poor young lady with an obvious glandular problem like that. It's not horrendous at all. It's quite lovely – matches the drapes and everything. Now if it matches the carpet as well, I couldn't say. I'm sure she'd be more than happy to show you, though-"

"You have no shame."

"I have plenty of shame," Fay assured him, "And now she does, too."

"Mmm," Kurogane narrowed his eyes and leaned closer, breathing hot and heavy against Fay's ear, "You didn't stop to consider that I might like a bit of facial hair, now did you? Like the sensation of sharp little daggers scraping across my face…"

Fay's eyes darted thoughtfully to the tops of their sockets. "Hmm," he mused, "I see where I may have gone wrong here."

"Very wrong."

"You're always full of surprises, Kuro-rinta," Fay leaned back into the post to put a few inches of room between himself and Kurogane's insistent stare. "I suppose there's only one thing for it, then," he grinned and quickly scribbled a sigil in the air, which molded itself to his chin and drew forward in short order, dragging out a long growth of blond behind it. "You like?"

Kurogane choked – laughed, Fay realized, but was wise enough to keep his mouth shut – at the sight of it and craned his neck back for a better appraisal. "It's-" he frowned.

"Stunning? Gorgeous? Irresistible? Magically delis-" whatever other descriptors he might have had stored up for the occasion were quickly silenced as Kurogane gripped the coiling tendrils and yanked him forward into a dizzying, if needlessly violent, kiss.

Kurogane released him momentarily, licking his lips and massaging his chin between thumb and forefinger as he pulled away. "Get rid of it."

"Huh?" Fay smacked his lips together, still fixated on Kurogane's mouth.

"Get rid of it," Kurogane repeated and tugged lightly at the end of the beard, "It's…irritating."

Fay's eyes sparkled. "But it's so gruff and manly," he teased, "I thought that was what you wanted. Or is it just the beard-rash you're afraid of?"

"Get rid of it," Kurogane insisted, but moved back in to crush their lips together once again. Fay smirked beneath him, but obliged, and with a twinkling of blue magic, the shag retreated back into his pores. Kurogane's hand moved to cup his jaw, the pad of his thumb tracing the contours of Fay's lips, pulling his mouth further open and easing his tongue forward to fill the gap. Fay happily accepted the intrusion and slid one hand down the ninja's torso to grope wantonly between his legs. He hummed mischievously and cracked one eye open.

"Oh dear," he murmured against Kurogane's mouth, "I don't think they designed this suit with enough stretch..."

"Shut up," Kurogane nipped at his lip and Fay unconsciously ground his hips forward, "Are you on again today?"

"What?" Fay was lost in the sensation of skin and muscle rippling beneath his palm as he ran one hand across Kurogane's slick shoulders and the pleasing throb of the other man's cock beneath the other. "Oh," he tilted his head back, forcing his neck forward to allow Kurogane's roving mouth better access, "Yes, I have to be back in a half-"

"Good," Kurogane cut him off, "I've only got fifteen minutes. Have to make this quick." And without another word, hoisted Fay by the lapels of his jacket and ducked beneath the stage, dragging the dazed magician after him.

Second half can be found here!

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