Disclaimer: not mine
Summary: Chibi-Clone-Ron is loosed. Havoc is wreaked. Plot devices are killed. Angst comes to an end. The boys return home...
Chapitre 13: The Reason for the Last Two Chapitres…
His eyes fluttered open. Bubbles tickled his nose.
A rumble. He was…hungry.
His fist moved slowly, impeded by the heavy drag of water surrounding him.
A crack formed in the glass. Water dripped to the ground below. Two more decisive whacks and he was free of the tank.
The lights were too bright. Their harsh fluorescence hadn't reached him in captivity and he groaned painfully as he shielded his eyes and staggered forward.
He tripped, his previously confined feet weak and unstable. Slowly, carefully, he gathered his uncooperative limbs beneath him once again and stumbled toward the door. One thought; one thought alone dominated his consciousness…
* * * * *
Kurogane frowned as he flexed his fingers against the counter. The right one definitely got used more, but he had to admit that the left one was much prettier by far…
He supposed it didn't really matter, anyway. The left one was mechanical, so it was likely going to have to the right one to have any real effect. He twirled the butcher knife absentmindedly in his hand. He was going to miss the little guy – they had been through much together; countless battles, gods only knew how many forceful oppositions…not to mention those horribly lonely teenage years…
He really shouldn't be getting this sentimental about a pinky, he decided at last and gripped the knife firmly by its handle. After all, the blood of the cute and innocent had already been spilt. The Gods of Angst demanded a sacrifice of Kuro-flesh…
He lifted the knife into position.
"What are you doing?"
The knife clattered to the counter. "I…" Kurogane looked away from his twitching hand to find Subaru staring, wide-eyed, at him. "I was…I mean…I can't handle the angst anymore," he finally confessed after a long moment of silence.
Subaru rolled his eyes. "If you're going to stab yourself, wouldn't it be more efficient to aim for a vital organ?" He shuffled to the refrigerator and fished out a bag.
"I wasn't going to stab myself; just hack off my least useful finger."
Subaru spun around with a quizzical look. "And that's going to help…how, exactly?"
"It just will," Kurogane was very certain of this, sort of. "It's always seemed to help before…"
Subaru lifted an eyebrow and jabbed a curly straw through the bag in his hands. "Sounds like a superstition to me," he snorted as he began slurping down the contents.
"You're just going to make a mess of my kitchen," Subaru huffed, pointedly taking the blade away from the ninja, "Besides which, you've spent the last week and a half hiding like a scared child, so why start bloodying yourself up now?"
Kurogane had to admit the vampire had a point, there. Still… "Isn't there any way to make this go faster?"
Subaru shrugged. "I think the only reason it's gone on this long is because the two of them are both wallowing in Tier Three and feeding off one another. Once of them breaks out of that, it should all be downhill."
Subaru shook his bag – B negative always needed an extra jolt to really get the red cells mixed back into the plasma properly, he noted with a hint of distain – and looked back to Kurogane. "Yes, Tier Three. Oh, sorry," he said after a moment, "Inside joke. There are seven tiers of a Kamui angst fit. They're really stages, but tiers works so much better for acronymical purposes… He," he nodded to Fay – currently passed out on the living room floor – "Got Kamui's blood, so his are probably similar…"
Kurogane glared expectantly.
"The first tier is Shock and Awe. Kamui is always very careful to let everyone know that he's about to turn into a complete bitch and usually pulls something involving either gratuitous violence or nudity to alert us – very often both…" Subaru's eyes drifted toward his brother's form, which hung sloppily over an arm of the sofa, but was thankfully clothed. "Next comes Anger and Barely Coherent Threats – which you seem to be well acquainted with – followed by Pain and Suffering." He set his bag down on the counter and shook his head. "This is where they seem to be stuck…"
Kurogane shuddered. "How do we get them out of it?"
Subaru shrugged again. "Usually, once he finds his damned action figure collection he works his way through it by decapitating the prettiest ones…" his eyes traveled to a scorch mark on the carpet, "But I've had to take all of those away, this time."
Kurogane growled, "Well, what comes after that, then?"
Subaru smiled wickedly. "Next comes the Whining and Annoying Need for Gratuitous Sympathy Tier," he continued, "Or, W.A.N.G.S.T. They seem to be easing into this tier quite nicely, so it's probably just a matter of time…" He paused to take in the nervous expression contorting Kurogane's face. "But don't worry," he said teasingly, "After that comes the Upward Swing in Libido. That's always the most fun…"
"Hmph," Kurogane crossed his arms, "Not if it's followed by more whining and pain."
"No, it's followed by the Fake Laughter and Annoying Need for Gratuitous Smooching Tier; F.L.A.N.G.S.T."
Subaru chuckled darkly. "Don't worry; it usually doesn't take long to get from there into the Regret and Overwrought Apologies Tier. That's the last one."
Kurogane rolled his eyes and stared back toward his fingers. Yes, he could definitely do without the right one…
A loud whine from the living room turned both men's heads. Fay hugged his knees to his chest and sobbed loudly.
"See?" Subaru said, smirking triumphantly, "Already into Tier Four!"
"Or, he's just realized that they spent the entire night drinking and arguing about cartoons and feels shame like any normal person would."
"Nah," Subaru countered, "I highly doubt that – they've been doing the same thing for the past three nights, now." He set his empty bag gently into the trash and shook his head. "Black Butler again?"
"Had to be. I heard them arguing until 3am about whether he would look better in a sailor suit or ass-less chaps."
Kurogane snorted. "Fucking Sebastian…"
Subaru chuckled. "Indeed. Though, the rips in the carpet really bring this to a whole new level, don't you think?"
"No, those happened after the idiot accused your brother of sparkling."
"He did…wha…? He should know better!"
"Yeah, he sho-" Kurogane stopped abruptly as he saw Subaru lift his foot over a large, black mess. "Watch your feet!" he shouted instead.
Subaru looked down and recoiled in horror. He bent slowly to pick up a large wad of black fur, which he stared, horrified, at. "Ho…Ho…"
Another loud bang from the living room. Against their better judgment, both men turned toward the noise.
"Kamui…" Subaru groaned.
"What the hell is he doing to the banister?"
Subaru dropped the black ball of fur. "Looks like he's given Tier Four a complete miss…"
Kurogane stared as Subaru picked up his twin and headed toward the staircase.
"I'll be back in an hour or so," Subaru called as he disappeared onto the second story landing, "In the meanwhile, would you mind calling in sick for me?"
* * * * *
Kotori and Kobato collapsed into a fit of giggles against the computer desk as the boys' heels clicked noisily down the runway.
"Fuj!" Kotori shouted, waving her arms wildly, "Loosen up – he's kicking your ass!"
Fujimoto grinned and relaxed his steps. His hips swung wildly from side to side.
"Nooo!" Kobato squealed, wiping the tears from her eyes, "That's just kicking up the activity in your minor glutes! Balance more naturally!"
Syaoran reached the end of the runway and paused to blow a sultry kiss. He swiveled his hips lasciviously before peeling the precariously soled daggers from his feet.
Like all good graduate students, Fujimoto and Kotori had taken their advisor's leave of absence terribly and had acted with all due professional decorum. Classes had been cancelled. Students had been excused from the program. Papers had been put on hold indefinitely.
And six different muscles from each boy had been plugged into a radio transmitting device to determine which of them could walk down a ten foot runway in six inch stilettos with less effort.
The transmitted electric signals danced across the computer screen – Fujimoto's clearly the larger – as RuPaul blared from the small speakers. They would have to wait until the final analysis to really determine the winner, but it seemed clear that Syaoran was infinitely better at manipulating his stance to save on muscular effort.
"I don't get it," Fujimoto chuckled, kicking off his shoes as he joined Syaoran at the end of the runway, "Isn't the point of wearing these abominations to force you to squeeze your thighs and ass while you're walking to make them look hot?"
Kotori saved the file quickly and turned off the video camera. "Probably," she laughed, "But Gouda only knows that men like it when we make it look effortless…" This week had been far too much fun…she seriously doubted whether she would be able to go back to her assigned research at all…
"This is true…" Fujimoto swept Kobato up by the waist and pressed their lips together playfully, "But you never told me how badly they hurt your feet!"
"That's because…" Kobato trailed off as a loud siren pierced the air.
"What the…?" Fujimoto grumbled, "Really?"
Kotori and Fujimoto exchanged dubious glances. The fire alarms always went off during final exam week… Kotori sniffed at the air.
"Damn," she exhaled after a moment, "I think I actually do smell smoke this time."
The foursome made their way out of the locomotion laboratory. The hall was packed with exasperated workers shuffling toward the nearest exit. The metallic tang of electrical fire was more prevalent in the corridor, and Kotori's face fell as they pushed their way into the slowly flowing stream of people.
"Wow," Fujimoto breathed, "After five years here, we finally see a real fire…"
"Yeah…" Kotori murmured, suddenly doing an about-face and grabbing her companions by the arms, "I don't like this," she said forcefully, "At all. Let's go out the back way." She pulled them against the flow of foot traffic and back into the laboratory they had come from.
Syaoran was too preoccupied to notice being led backwards. He was positive – positive – that he had just seen himself dart around a corner in the hallway, grinning like a madman.
He wondered if that might have been his double in the world.
And, if was indeed the case, why was he shouting "MOAR BURNINATION!"
* * * * *
Hinoto flung the door open angrily. "You know, sister dearest, this happens every single time you try one of your little experiments. It amazes me that you still have a job."
Kanoe huffed and quickened her pace. "Tenure," she spat, smiling at her sister, "Learn to love it," she stopped to peer around the corner of an empty corridor, "Come on," she insisted, grasping Hinoto's hand and pulling her along, "We have to find it before it does something silly."
"Silly?" Hinoto almost laughed, "I think what you mean to say is, 'we have to find it before it kills someone!' Just like the last one…and the one before that! And the one bef-" She was cut off by a hand clamping over her mouth.
Kanoe glared angrily. "No one died, officially."
Hinoto snorted into her sister's palm and pulled away. "You don't have the funds to pay off the coroner, this time."
Kanoe continued to glare. Her sister had an annoying habit of being right about these things…
"There," Hinoto said after a long moment. She pointed down the hallway. "It's about 15 feet away, hiding behind those pillars."
"You're right," Kanoe inhaled and quieted her steps, "On the count of three… One. Two. Thr-"
A loud cry broke the air as it saw the two women racing toward it.
"DO NOT WANT!"
* * * * *
Syaoran was thankful for the airbag that had suddenly deployed as he flailed into the wall. He had been in the process of being dragged forcefully through dimly-lit back corridors of the hospital and had rounded that last corner just a bit too enthusiastically…
He blinked. He didn't know walls had airbags. Especially not such, pert, firm airbags…
He blinked again and dropped his hands to his sides. "Dr. Yok…I mean, Kanoe! What are you…what's in the bag?"
Kanoe grinned maniacally and passed a very…active burlap sack to her sister. "Ahaha," she ran a hand through her hair, flipping the ends flirtatiously over her shoulder, "Why, nothing, of course!"
Fujimoto was not convinced and frowned at her, "Why is it moving, then?"
Hinoto flushed red. "It's…it's a lab dog. Very hard to control. Broke free of its muzzle. This, this is the only safe way to get it back!"
Fujimoto balked. "I think it wants a cheeseburger."
"Very much, apparently."
"Cheesus on a cracker…" Kanoe muttered, shaking her head, "You four had better come with us."
* * * * *
Subaru landed on the sofa with an exhausted thud and wrinkled his nose at the television. "What is this?"
"Leave it on."
"But it's so…"
"Leave it on."
"80's…" Subaru finished, rolling on to his stomach. Kurogane was sprawled out on the floor with a sobbing Fay curled into his chest, staring down reruns of Fist of the North Star. He looked…less than happy about the arrangement, but Subaru couldn't help but notice with a small grin that the ninja's hand occasionally fluttered through the wizard's hair in a comforting manner. "Is he doing better?"
Kurogane scoffed as another dry heave wracked Fay's body. "Well, he hasn't tried to kill anything or maim anyone in the past hour or so, so I guess you can call that 'better.' Where's the other one?"
"Sleeping…" Subaru murmured, dreamily, "He'll be out for a while."
"How'd you manage that?"
Subaru rolled off the couch and leaned to whisper into Kurogane's ear. He pressed a small bottle into the ninja's hand.
Kurogane stared, eyes wide and nose traveling at alarming speed up his face. "That…works?"
"Mmmhmm," Subaru draped himself back over the sofa, "I need a nap, too."
* * * * *
"What do we call…him?"
"Doesn't matter, he doesn't have a name yet."
"How about 'Mini Me?'"
"That's a stupid name; besides, he's one sixth your size, not one eighth."
"Oh." Syaoran wasn't entirely sure why that should matter as he watched his miniature clone amble about the laboratory, stopping to taste random metal objects and hiss venomously at the rats in cages lining the walls.
"How about Chibi-Syao?" Hinoto offered.
"Chibi-ran," Kotori insisted, stooping to pat the clone on the head. He sniffed at her fingers.
"I like Clone-ran," Fujimoto huffed, crossing his arms over his chest, "Makes you remember what he is."
"Don't be such a spoil-sport," Kanoe spat back at him, "He's far too big of an investment to give such a thoughtless name to. He needs something…majestic. Something that evokes images of mighty dragons."
"How about Syaoron?"
"Good Gouda you people are uncreative."
"You like Chibi-ran, don't you, boy?" Kotori ruffled the clone's hair, "Yes you do! You do, you do! OW!" she yanked her hand back, "Fucker bit me!"
Chibi-clone-ron licked his lips. His pupils dilated.
"Sweet Baby Cheesus!" Hinoto screamed, trying to restrain the flailing mass of arms and legs the miniature clone had become as he gnashed his teeth hungrily and dove toward Kotori. She managed to restrain him somewhat, but not before he had taken a sizable gash out of the girl's arm.
"Let me see that," Fujimoto grabbed the bleeding arm, "Oh for fu…we've got to get her over to the hospital." He shot Kanoe a withering glare as he and Kobato led Kotori out the door. "Lock it up. We don't need another Satsuki."
"Of course," Kanoe smiled.
Syaoran watched, dumbfounded, as his friends exited the lab and Hinoto fought to restrain his struggling mini-clone. What the hell had just happened here?
"Put him into the dog cage," Kanoe instructed. Hinoto obliged her sister, dragging the kicking and screaming clone into a corner holding-cell.
Chibi-clone-ron threw himself at the bars, gnashing his teeth and hissing.
Syaoran stared. "Why is he such a bastard?"
"He doesn't have a soul," Kanoe shrugged absently and tossed a dried biscuit to the clone.
It sniffed at this offering and tossed it back at her. "CHEEZBURGER!"
Syaoran sighed. Superb. Another blood-thirsty, soulless clone…
"But we can change that."
He hadn't noticed how close the two women had moved. He also hadn't noticed the slightly crazed way that Kanoe's eyes seemed to flicker under the fluorescent bulbs.
He definitely hadn't noticed the large chainsaw in Hinoto's hand.
"Don't worry, this won't hurt a bit," Hinoto assured him, revving the motor of the saw.
* * * * *
Subaru awoke to the sound of sirens and bolted upright, terrified of what his brother must have done this time.
The inside of the house was…peaceful. Well, mostly peaceful. Apart from the rather disturbing way the wizard was…gyrating against the ninja's leg, cast bumping loudly against the wooden floor.
"How long are you going to let him do that?" Subaru demanded, not liking the scuff marks appearing on his immaculately polished parquet.
Kurogane shrugged. "As long as it takes."
Subaru smacked his forehead and rubbed his temples. The sirens were growing louder, and he was almost certain he could see red lights beginning to dance through the front windows. Something dawned on him. "Where's Syaoran?"
"University," Kurogane said simply, "Can't blame the kid for not wanting to be here."
"What time is it?"
Kurogane shrugged and continued to stare at the television.
Subaru sighed and crept to the microwave to look at the clock. "It's one AM!" he shouted, running to look out the window. Those were definitely cop cars pulling into his driveway. "What the hell is going on?"
The sirens died down as the squad cars parked and began to unload. Subaru threw the front door open just in time to see a shocked-looking Syaoran emerge from the back seat of one with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. A sympathetic officer led him slowly to the door.
"Subaru is fine."
"Mr. Subaru," the officer continued as Syaoran shuffled wordlessly past him into the house, "Might we have a word? Your young friend has had quite a shock today."
"Yeah…" Subaru trailed off, watching Syaoran slink slowly into the living room and collapse in a heap on the sofa, "What…?"
"This concerns your brother's laboratory, as well," she continued, "Is he available?"
"No," Subaru said quickly, "He's…he's very ill at the moment.
The officer sighed. "Very well, it might be best if we discussed this out here."
Subaru sighed and followed her outside.
"Oi," Kurogane growled, watching Syaoran nervously, "What happened?"
Syaoran stared blankly.
"Oi!" Kurogane pressed on, "Kid?"
Syaoran sighed and closed his eyes. After everything he had witnessed today, he certainly didn't need to take in the sight of Fay…gyrating like that.
Subaru reemerged into the silence some twenty minutes later. He looked in at the sullen stand-off taking place in the living room, spun on his heel, and trudged into the kitchen. He reappeared moments later with a large glass of whiskey which he pressed into Syaoran's hands. "Drink," he ordered.
Syaoran silently obeyed.
Subaru turned back to Kurogane, "Seriously, how long are you going to let him do that? Look what it's doing to my flooring!"
"Look, what do you want me to do about it? If I move, he might flip out again!"
"Do you not still have the bottle I gave you before?"
Kurogane shifted warily. "…Yeah…"
"Then for fuck's sake, just go do it already."
Kurogane sighed heavily, but pushed himself to his feet and flung the wizard over his shoulder. "Whatever you say…" He stormed off toward their bedroom, slamming the door behind him.
Subaru settled next to Syaoran on the couch and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. "I'm so sorry…"
"S'not your fault."
"The cop said no one was fatally injured and both of those…ladies…are headed for prison."
"They did want to know why it looked like the lab was hacked to pieces with a sword when they couldn't find one after the fact…"
"S'in my arm."
"Oh. That's a good place for it, I suppose…"
Syaoran winced as a loud bang reverberated through the house. Subaru rubbed the boy's back.
"They're clearing out their laboratory tonight," he continued slowly, "Look, we know how Kanoe is…is there…anything…disturbing that they're going to find in there?"
"You really have a hell of a time with clones, don't you?" he sighed, "We did tell you not to give her your bodily fluids…"
"What was that?" Syaoran asked, looking around fearfully.
Subaru massaged the bridge of his nose. "You're probably better off not knowing. Anyway, why don't you get some sleep? I'm sure more officers are going to be stopping by tomorrow to talk to you…"
"Yeah." Syaoran staggered to his feet and trudged slowly toward his bedroom. "Hey," paused, looking at his feet, "What is this?"
"Hmm?" Subaru leaned over the boy's shoulder. "It looks like…"
"A bloody paw-print?"
Subaru stiffened. "Ho…Ho…HOKUTO!" He fell backwards onto the ground, pulling Syaoran's blanket with him.
"Subaru?" Syaoran shook the vampire. "Subaru?"
Syaoran sighed and lifted his catatonic host as best he could onto the sofa and covered him with the blanket.
He seriously doubted that he would be able to sleep tonight, anyway.
* * * * *
A lone flashlight shined into the stark blackness and glanced off metal bars.
"What is that?"
"Oh my Gouda, it's adorable!"
"Why is it in a cage? Hurry up and let it out!"
"Hold on, hold on, let's at least find the lights…"
"I…let it out, and now I can't find it…"
"Why would you even do that?"
"Fucker bit me!"
* * * * *
Chibi-clone-ron babbled softly to himself as he wandered through the dark hallways of the university. Died, died, died…all of the lights were died. He didn't like the darkness.
His tummy rumbled.
He liked being hungry even less.
He sniffed the air. Over that way…
He headed toward the smell, pausing only to inspect a large blue pail.
"BUKKIT," he said proudly, tipping the pail onto his head and pulling its handle under his nose like a strap, "MAH BUKKIT." He giggled loudly.
The Cheezburger was too far away. It would take forever to get to it on foot; he needed a faster means of transportation. Luckily, while he was soulless, Chibi-clone-ron was not also brainless (the LOL-speak was largely a product of Kanoe's demented sense of humor and indicated nothing at all about his mental capacity…or the author's propensity for wasting hours and hours online looking at cat pictures…) and managed to hotwire a perfect, one-sixth-of-its-original-clone-sized car.
The two large prongs sticking out the front end made it slightly more difficult to maneuver than he had planned, but it would carry him to the Cheezburger in no time.
He could already see red hair shining in the distance…
* * * * *
A warm, rough tongue darted back and forth across his nose, leaving a cool trail of saliva in its wake. It dipped down, smearing itself across his cheek before stopping to lave generously at his ear.
"Kamui…" Subaru whined, forcing his eyes open, "Knock it…Hokuto!" He sat bolt upright in surprise, hugging his precious kitty to his chest. "Oh my sweet girl! Where have you been?"
Syaoran smiled at him from across the room. "I found her limping around the garage last night. She had a cut on her foot and was hiding. I hope you don't mind, I bandaged it up by myself, but I'm sure you can probably do better."
"My baby…" Subaru snuggled his face into her soft, black fur, "Thank you so much, Syaoran."
A door closed in the hallway and Kurogane sauntered out into the living room. The swagger in his step seemed terribly mismatched to the obnoxiously large bald-spot on the side of his head.
"Kurogane…" Syaoran started, "What…um, what happened to your hair?"
Kurogane patted the side of his head and frowned. "It must have gotten pulled…"
Subaru laughed. "You must have had one hell of a time getting that Nytol into him…"
"Yeah – the Nytol I gave you…" Subaru wrinkled his brow, "You did give it to him, didn't you?"
"What the hell did you do to him if you didn't give him the sleeping pills?"
"I gave it to him – just like you said!"
"But, you just…OH FOR FU…He's my brother! Why would you even THINK I would give you that kind of advice when you know damn well I was talking about how effective it is on Kamui?"
Kurogane shrugged and dragged a hand through his hair, wincing as it grazed over the bald-spot. "I don't know! You've always seemed…kinda…"
"Twincesty," Syaoran finished for him.
"Actually, I agree," a third voice chimed in. Three startled heads turned to see Fay wheeling himself into the living room. "You've always put a new spin on 'Brotherly Love.'"
"You people are sick," Subaru shoved his hands in his pockets, "Okay, fine, so maybe we are kind of twincesty…"
Kurogane ignored this and gaped at the wizard. "Are you…" he mentally crossed his fingers, "Sane…?"
Fay grinned back. "I'm always sane, Kuro-sama. It's just the angst that gets me down from time to time…"
"But how…" Kurogane quickly scanned his fingers and toes. No new additions to the casualty list seemed apparent…
Fay held up a handful of spiky black hair. "Um, I seem to have gotten a little rough with you – and I'm sorry," he frowned apologetically, "Can I make you breakfast?"
"But the cat…"
"Yeah," Syaoran chimed in, "Something's not right…the cat's alive and all you did is rip out some hair…"
Fay looked at his lap. "The garden is much prettier without chipmunks digging it up, isn't it?"
Subaru growled, "Cheesus…you, too?"
"I wouldn't look behind the tool shed."
Syaoran pressed on, "And the hair?"
"I think I may have taken some skin along with it…"
"I don't even want to know…"
"No, you probably don't. Anyway…" Fay rubbed his hands together, "All's well that ends well, right?"
Kurogane and Syaoran stared at him.
Subaru smacked his face and shook his head.
The telephone rang.
"One second," Subaru darted across the room to grab the handset, but it fell silent just as he reached it. "Hmm…"
"Anyway," Fay continued, undeterred, "Breakfast?"
Kurogane sighed, but moved to push the wizard into the kitchen. At least he would get some decent food out of this mess…
The three travelers stopped in their tracks to look at the second story landing. Fay frowned. Syaoran shuddered. Kurogane rolled his eyes.
Subaru leapt to join his brother on the landing. "Put your damned claws away!" he shouted, batting at his brother's hands, "Do you have any idea what you're doing to the woodwork?"
Kamui knocked his brother to the side (gently, but not too gently, because that would be twincesty and he was more interested in making a harsh impression at the moment). "She's dead," he said simply.
Subaru rubbed his head where it had collided with the banister, "Who, Kanoe? That was quick; they usually go to trial first…"
Kamui sneered at his twin, "Kotori, you ass! She was killed by a Chibi-Syao Clone driving a forklift."
"Actually, I think its name was Chibi-ran."
"No, it was Clone-ran."
"That's a stupid name; why didn't you just call it Mini Me?"
"IT DOESN'T MATTER!" Kamui's scream was impressive enough on its own; the simultaneous shattering of every glass object and window in the house was really just icing on the cake. "Every goddamned world! Every world, Buu-Buu!" He collapsed onto his brother's shoulder.
"Shh…" Subaru soothed, stroking Kamui's hair, "We've been over this. She always dies. She's not a real character – she's just a plot device to get you pissed off."
"But you promised me!" Kamui sobbed, "You promised me that this world would be different! You said CLAMP couldn't get their sadist hands on her here!"
"I know, I know…" Subaru sighed. He'd really thought she'd been safe this time; thought maybe his brother might be able to go a decent length of time without Kotori dying horribly in front of his eyes… He really should have known better. "Hey," he lifted Kamui's chin, "At least this time Fuuma didn't kill her, right?"
Kamui sniffled. "Yeah…"
"Let's go have some breakfast."
"Hey – where did everybody go?"
* * * * *
"I hate vampires, I hate clones, and I hate you, you stupid manjuu!" Kurogane roared as he shook the sand out of his underwear.
"Hey, Kuro-pon!" Fay whined, "That's not a very nice thing to say! To any of us!"
"Tch," Kurogane grunted, speeding up to walk ahead of the others. He turned back to face them. "You know what's not very nice? Dropping a pot rack on my head, spending a week making thinly veiled threats to my…equipment, drinking yourself stupid every night, arguing so loudly about what kind of cosplay the sexy cartoon butler would look best in that I get no sleep, and then ripping my hair out!" His face softened, "But you might notice, that despite all of that, I'm still standing here. Don't tell me I don't deserve to have a bitch moment."
Fay smiled and linked their arms as Mokona jumped up on his shoulder. "Kuro-sama loooooves me."
"Tch…" Pink colored the ninja's cheeks.
"And Mokona would never let him disappear!" the ball of fluff chirped, "I'd suck him up no matter where he tried to hide!"
"Come on over here and say that," Kurogane threatened, reaching for Mokona and missing.
"Oh, stop it, you two," Fay warned as Mokona bounced away, Kurogane slashing wildly at the air behind it. "We still have to figure out where we are!" And how to move this damn-blasted chair through the sea of sand dunes…
"I know where we are…" Syaoran breathed, "This is…Clow!"