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Title: Ignis Fatuus
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Graphic depictions of gore and more sex than strictly necessary...
Summary: Life after surviving the front lines has unforseen complications.

Notes:  Submission for Halloween Contest!  This fic is based (very) loosely on the film Jacob's Ladder, which is second only to The Dark Crystal in the ranks of fubared movies my dad made me watch when I was younger (although this one I can stomach rewatching - The Dark Crystal??  Oh HELL no.  Jim Henson damned near ruined my childhood with that movie...)  Should probably also note that this is not the normal fluffy crack I usually write...apologies to anyone looking for that.

Huge thanks to

[livejournal.com profile] michechu  for beta-ing this for me!


 

 

 

Pull back!

The order is clear, even as the words clang hollowly about his consciousness, each syllable reverberating his disbelief. He has never stood down, never pulled back. This is inconceivable – unacceptable – he tells himself, and would tell his squadron commander – the rat bastard – as well, if he thought he stood a chance of being heard over the never-ending scrape of metal on metal and intermittent bursts of cannon fire. He curses silently instead, grits his teeth and scans the rubble for his comrades.

The search is thwarted by the labyrinth of smoke and fire lashing the air around him, the blitz of spells cast by mages on both sides cracking against the wind and scattering their smoldering remnants against the horizon. The gleam of his own sword barely registers in the darkness, though the blade moves only inches from his face. A flash of light and the earth erupts into chaos beneath his feet; a roiling mass of bodies convulse around him, flailing limbs, ripping fingers and he’s barely able to maintain his footing against their pull. Another flash of light and he sees blond sink into their depths, swallowed into the endless sea of grasping hands and contorted faces.

His blade swings wildly, unconcerned with its target. The lights cease and he is left blind, guided only by the cries filling his ears and drawing toward one particular pitch amongst the many. A catch; he stumbles forward, enveloped by the writhing battlefield, and grapples blindly with the darkness. His fingers rake across bone, hair, skin, and pull back abruptly as jelly gives way to a wet burst beneath his palms and he is knocked backward by the force of the resulting scream. His sword is gone, lost amongst the wreckage, but this does not keep him from searching, scouring the piles…

There is nothing now but the darkness. His shoulder is empty, its load lightened, blood spewing from a severed artery. He’s aware of the burn, but more acutely aware of the madness that surrounds him. He stands. He falls. The smell of burning flesh fills his nostrils as a scream rips from his throat.

There is nothing now but the darkness.





Kurogane wakes with a start, pulse pounding and gasping for breath. There is no sound here save for the slow grinding of gears within the clock on the wall, the seconds clacking away as the teeth interlock and spin against one another; no discomfort but the familiar sting of a rusted spring pressing against his back, the worn and bent metal support beam biting into his hips through the too-thin mattress. 

The sweat on his brow cools as he settles back against the pillow, breath forced through slow, ragged, gulps. A match strikes in the darkness to light the oil lamp at the bedside, the mattress shifts, and fingers brush against the line of his jaw.

“Again?” The voice is groggy with interrupted sleep, but as warm and familiar as the blue eyes that search his face in the dim light. Kurogane lifts his own hand, still solidly (and mercifully) attached to his frame, to push stray strands of blond – the same blond he watched disappear beneath a nightmare sea of faces only moments ago – out of the other man’s face.

“Mmm,” Kurogane grunts noncommittally. It was nothing he hasn’t dreamt a thousand times before, nothing to get stirred up about so early in the morning, and surely nothing to worry Fay over (the idiot is prone to worry and, more-over, prone to hen-pecking, which Kurogane certainly doesn’t need at this hour). They are here now, solid and real, and that is all he needs to know. Dreams are nothing more than a burden his sleeping mind is forced to bear.

Fay is not so easily satisfied, however, and rolls to lie atop Kurogane’s chest, balancing his elbows on either side of the larger man’s shoulders and staring into red eyes with a serious expression. “The front again?”

“Mmm,” Kurogane grunts again and exhales deeply. He’s not in the mood to discuss whatever phantasmagorical demons have been haunting him, remnants of the past though they may be. He wants only to think of the here and now; the creaking bed-frame, the warm tangle of limbs beneath threadbare blankets, the smell of sweat and metal mingled with soap and incense. His palms slide roughly up Fay’s arms, tracing the distinct dips and bulges of sinewous muscles, skim the sharp contours of shoulders, and press into the warm flesh of the other’s back.

“You worry me, Kuro-chan.”

“It’s only a dream,” Kurogane insists, pulling their bodies closer still.

“A dream that’s been kept you awake for seven years now,” Fay shifts slightly, leaning back to convey his displeasure more acutely. “You’ve not been keeping your appointments, have you?”

Kurogane hisses. “I don’t need that witch-doctor.”

“No?” Fay raises an eyebrow, “Then why do you sleep so much better when you see her?”

“I don’t need her,” Kurogane repeats, pulling Fay against him once again.

“Stubborn,” Fay chuckles, and nibbles at the tip of Kurogane’s nose. “What do you need, then?”

“Exercise,” Kurogane rocks Fai’s hips against his own, “Exhaustion.”

“Play around with your body, rather than your mind?” Fay puffs, grinding his hips slowly down once more. “Kuro-rin is like a child in need of a lullaby – still wanting to be rocked to sleep.”

“Who’s a child?”

“Only children are afraid of the doctor,” Fay shifts his weight onto one arm and trails the other along Kurogane’s side, fingernails digging into the skin of his hip. “You’re going in tomorrow,” he insists, “After work.”

Fine,” Kurogane huffs. It’s an empty promise – he knows it, Fay likely knows it as well – he’s always maintained a talent for slipping out of these appointments (proof in his own mind that he’s perfectly sane and doesn’t actually need them) and tomorrow is unlikely to prove the exception. He can feel the wariness in Fay’s gaze as the other sighs and dips his head.

“You’re hopeless,” Fay murmurs as he grazes the other’s lips. Kurogane hums his agreement and reaches for the beside table, even as he arches off the mattress to deepen their kiss. His mouth is starving, voracious as he ravages the other, unable to sate his hunger for salt-tinged flesh, bruised lips, and the sweet mixture of whiskey and tobacco that still flavors Fay’s mouth hours after consumption. He is a glutton, desperate for his fix, and helpless as a junkie when his drug is offered.

He coats Fay’s fingers quickly, methodically and guides them between his legs, exhaling sharply as the other obliges him and presses in quickly. Fay teases – as he always does – and Kurogane growls anxiously despite the electric jolts coursing through his body. He allows Fay to play according to the other’s whims, content to feel the other man moving around and within him, relishing the slow burn even as he reaches between their bodies to slick Fay’s cock and tugs in a manner he can only hope conveys his underlying impatience.

Fay smirks and curls his fingers, in no particular rush to appease. He teases two fingers up Kurogane’s torso, grinning like a madman as the other twitches under the attention, and taps at the end of a wrinkling nose. “You’re much more ticklish when you’re sleepy.”

“Shut up,” Kurogane says simply. He’s not in the mood, no matter how much the verbal sparring might turn him on under other circumstances. Right now his only compulsion is to touch, to taste, to feel – hearing and speaking (he doesn’t even want to consider comprehending) are low on his immediate list of prerogatives. He slides a hand up to run across the line of Fai’s jaw, recoiling only slightly as the blond snaps his teeth playfully.

“Kuro-pon never lets me have any fun,” Fay sighs, dipping his face to nuzzle against Kurogane’s cheek, “Even when he wakes me up in the middle of the night…” He reaches his free hand between them to pump leisurely at the other’s cock while sucking lightly at the lips below him.

Kurogane exhales slowly and spreads his knees wider, easily losing himself in the surge of warmth to his cheeks and groin. Only the barest of noises escapes his throat as Fay enters him, swift and smooth, and mouths crash together hungrily once more. Without warning, he finds his hands pinned above his head, tanned fingers twisted amongst paler and trapped securely in the downy fluff of the pillows as Fay presses his weight against them.

Fay rocks slowly, a tempered coil of shadow and sinew in the dim lamplight, eyes trained on Kurogane’s face as he moves. Kurogane strains beneath him, stars flashing across his vision as he drives his hips to meet each thrust. Eyes flutter closed as he loses himself in the slow lift and press; arms bulge and release, surrendering to their captivity. The warm palms bearing down against his own anchor him as he slips deeper and deeper into abandon; hold him in place against the onslaught of sensation tearing through his veins. 

A sharp nip to his throat brings him barreling back to the present. He nudges his chin against the blond head; urging it upward, demanding lips on his own, seeking blue eyes in the low light. He is rewarded only with more teeth and gasps sharply as he feels the sharp points sink into taught muscle. A warm trickle blossoms into a burning rush that pools above his breast bone, and no amount of struggle can free him from the assassin’s grip. Empty sockets hold his gaze, smoldering in the darkness as gore seeps from their folds, splashing across his chest and mingling with the rush of blood pouring from his throat.

He tenses, screams, and is unsure whether it is in terror or ecstasy.





There’s a loud clamor as he wakes, but it’s the work of several moments for his sleep-soaked mind to register that he’s knocked the lamp from the bedside table. He rubs his face and groans, arm snaking below the mattress to gather the bulb before it begins leaking. He sets it back on the table, steadying it as it threatens to tip forward again as he tries to stand; his legs are tangled in the sheets, the sheets are all but ripped from the mattress, and the mattress is dangling limply from his side of the frame. His pillows have been tossed or kicked to the floor, the imprint of a renegade spring acutely palpable behind his ear.

It’s no wonder his head is throbbing, Kurogane thinks as he kicks the confining material away and struggles to his feet. He readjusts the mattress and folds the frame back into the wall, grumbling as the rusty beams creak and grind against one another. He slaps the latch down with a huff and turns his attention toward the smell of breakfast.

“Good morning, Kuro-mare.”

“That’s a new one,” Kurogane mumbles as he pulls a pair of clean coveralls from the wardrobe.

“It’s fitting, considering the way you were screaming last night, and most of this morning.”

“Sorry.”

“Appointment,” Fay reminds him sharply, “After work.”

“Yeah, yeah…” Kurogane murmurs as he stumbles into the small kitchenette. He presses a light kiss against Fay’s forehead and stares questioningly at the roaring burner of the stove. “I thought the gas was out…?”

“Oh,” Fay stiffens, just noticeably, and turns his face away, “Yeah, I…I’m sorry.”

Kurogane sighs and massages his temples with one massive hand. “Sorry for what?” he groans, irked by the direction of the conversation, “I told you, I don’t care. I’ve never cared. This is all some sort of ridiculous penance for something you had nothing to do with.”

“But I swore…”

“And I swear I’ll kick your ass if you don’t knock this shit off. Do you have any idea how much easier it would be for you to find a job if you’d cut the crap and look for something where you can use magic?”

Fay rubs his face as a pained expression takes it. “Kuro-sama…”

“Don’t,” Kurogane cuts him off, “It’s stupid. Besides, if you can conjure a flame to light the damned stove, you can sure as hell conjure something that pays the rent.”

“Always to the point,” Fay chuckles darkly and kills the flame, “I thought you would appreciate something warm for breakfast.” He carefully scoops the contents of the griddle – eggs and some kind of sausage, if Kurogane is not mistaken – onto two plates and sets them on the iron spool that serves as a make-shift table.

Kurogane grunts his approval and takes a bite. He fights to keep himself from frowning; nothing has taste these days. He isn’t sure if it’s the result of working in a dirty garage and being constantly assaulted with dust and soot and countless ionized metals, or if it’s – god forbid – nerves or an old war wound reopening itself in his head. He fights the thought away mere seconds too late if Fay’s expression is anything to judge by.

“It’s fine,” he insists, shoveling eggs into his mouth, “Delicious.”

Fay gives him a measured glance and continues eating in silence.





The cobblestone streets are slick with the morning dew and fog hangs heavy in the air as he winds his way to work. The clouds are so thick he can barely make out the buildings in the dull lamplight as he walks. This is fine; it’s not as if he’s about to forget the route he’s taken every day for the past seven years – he could probably find the damned place blindfolded. 

He rounds the final corner and pulls the heavy folding sheet-metal door up, kicking at a trash can to scare away the stray cats that lurk near the entrance. The garage is dark – he’s the first to arrive, as always – and he manages to light the gas lamps around the periphery without burning his fingers too badly and stalks to his work bench, pulling on his heavy leather gloves and digging through the mess for the goggles he knows he left there.

The canvas sheets are heavy as he wrenches them away from his work, or rather – If he’s being honest – the bane of his existence. Saiga’s prototype all-terrain, floating, flying, flapping, piece of crap that he can never quite remember the exact title of – only that it has far too many bells and whistles and the wire-framed bat wings give it all the appearance of a child’s toy constructed of paper clips. He sighs, knowing he isn’t paid for his brain, but for his brawn and sets to work. He needs only to get the steam pump up and running today so that bastard can finish soldering the rest of the nightmare frame onto his brainchild during the night-shift. Which should be easy enough to do, all things considered. 

The slide valve needs realignment. He’s reused an older valve from one of Saiga’s less successful ventures – there’s no point in wasting perfectly good new parts until he knows for certain he can actually make the contraption work, and Saiga’s flights of fancy tend to be…abstract at best. Kurogane has always wondered if his efforts might be applied to some more useful contraption if the capricious inventor wasn’t shagging their primary investor, but at the same time knows he’d undoubtedly be bored by the repetition and likely out of work himself – the economy has tanked after the war and more former soldiers than not have found themselves on the limited public dole or living on the streets. He has no desire to face either fate.

With a sigh, he looses the valve from its fastenings and slicks it down with a generous amount of grease before setting it lightly back into position. A flick of his wrist and the magnifying lenses slip over his goggles, bringing the finer points of articulation into sharper focus. He can see the previous day’s errors in glaring detail and scolds himself as he delicately positions his clamps and sets about adjusting the valve flap under the rod. He’d always expected metal work to be more crass, less defined, but can’t help but feel a swelling of pride as his fingers and tools flit across the minute surfaces and secure the bolts into place.

He steps back to admire his handiwork, carefully pulling at the valve rod to ensure it slides at its intended, and smirks. There’s footsteps approaching – too quiet and unobtrusive to be his boss – and he cranes his neck to find his apprentice arriving just as the fist hints of sunlight break through the garage doors. The young man waves, and sets his effects at the workbench before pulling on his work gear and joining Kurogane at the engine.

“Morning,” Kurogane grunts, still inspecting the valve.

“Morning,” the young man replies, “Sakura sent along some lunch for us today – Fay ran upstairs after you’d left and said you’d forgotten yours.”

“Oh…” Kurogane fights off a grin. The young couple living above them had been friends since the days of wandering through enemy territories, though at the time they had been nothing more than children without a home, content to follow the soldiers’ camp and work odd jobs in exchange for the small amount of protection it afforded them. Sakura had attached herself immediately to the blond idiot (for that was how Kurogane had thought of him at the time – nothing more than a nuisance he had been forced to share a tent with) and Syaoran had soon followed. With those days long behind them, it had seemed only right to continue looking after their make-shift family. “I don’t suppose he headed to the Jobs Agency afterward, did he?”

“That can tell you to nothing,” Syaoran answers quietly.

“Huh?” Kurogane balks, eyeing his apprentice suspiciously, “Did you not sleep well last night?”

“I slept fine, why?” Syaoran asks, picking through his toolbox.

“Talking funny,” is all Kurogane mutters and turns back to his task. He pushes it away, too well aware that it might be his own lack of sleep making the kid sound funny. “I just got the valve realigned, we need to regrease the piston and test out the new compression chamber. Headgear, kid. This thing is likely to explode.”

Syaoran nods and steps backward, shoulders twitching. Twitching, twitching, twitching, until his entire body is wracked with violent spasms and his head lolls and sways with the rhythm.

“Kid!”

“What?” Syaoran answers with a confused look, wrench poised and ready to loosen the bolts from the drive piston.

Kurogane blinks and shakes his head. Goddamned nightmare. Goddamned lack of sleep. “Nothing, just get that loosened up while I grab some coal from the back.”   

His footsteps fall heavily against the concrete as he rounds the corner to the coal storage. He pauses, back against the wall and closes his eyes. Stimulants. Coffee, tea, anything. As loath as he is to resort to chemicals, it’s going to take something to get him through this shift. He rubs a forearm across his eyes, hoping to chase some of their stinging away, and heads for the coal pile.

He’s barely shoveled half a bucketful when the garage explodes behind him. The bucket clatters to the ground behind him as he bolts through the fire and flame, arms waving wildly in front of his face to diffuse the smoke. He has no idea what could have exploded – the engine hasn’t been fueled for days and there should be nothing combustible in the work room…

The world narrows to the charred body at his feet, black coils twining over the skin, writhing and twisting and pulsing with the beat of his own heart. A single brown eye stares back at him, miraculously unharmed, bobbing in time with the motion before falling loose and clamoring against the floor. It rolls away from the molten engine, tinkling against the cracks in the concrete, and Kurogane bends to capture it, the shock of the scene overpowering any reservations he might once have held.

The eye is safe in his hand and he exhales, slowly falling backward as the black coils spread from the pupil, enveloping his arm, and groping at his face. He breathes them in, lost in their pulsing spasms, and barely registers the horror in the blue eyes staring back at him as nimble fingers work to untangle the mess.





“They can’t stay here.”

“Where should they stay, then, Kuro-sama?” Fay sings as he piles their clean laundry into a make-shift cot and spreads a rough woolen blanket over the top. “Maybe you think they should go camp with Seishiro? That sounds like a fantastic idea to me; I imagine he’ll have all sorts of wholesome things to teach them…”

Kurogane grits his teeth and growls low in his throat. “They shouldn’t be in this camp at all. We’re in the middle of a fucking war, in case you haven’t noticed.”

“All the more reason for them to have shelter,” Fay answers blithely, and Kurogne can tell the blond is mostly ignoring him. Fay takes the pillow from his own bed and tosses it onto the pile, smiling. “There, now you two can settle down for the night. Don’t mind Kuro-tan, he’s just a perpetual grumpass.”

There is unmistakable fear in the eyes of the youths as they regard Kurogane, and he sighs exasperatedly as he turns away. He can’t be bothered to care; no one survives for long out here, anyway – it would be best to just turn the brats out into the night and be done with it. Clean cut and simple, no messy ties to sever when the inevitable happened.

“Kuro-rin…”

“Just shut the fuck up,” he bellows, twisting Fay’s wrist, “They’re not fucking pets you can take in and play house with. They’re children, and they’re as likely to die out here as the rest of us. What the hell do you expect me to do with them when you traipse off and get yourself killed, huh?”

“I’m not going to get-”

Bullshit,” Kurogane growls, “You don’t duck when the arrows fly, you don’t move when you’re spotted, you barely evade sword attacks, and you refuse to conjure even in self defense. A fully-trained mage, and you’re wasting away in the infantry.”

“That has nothing to do with this.”

“It has everything to do with this! You can’t take care of yourself – or you flat out refuse – and now you want to bring children into the equation? You’re insane!”

“I’m not going to die.”

“We’re all going to die,” Kurogane snaps and rips the flaps of their small tent open, “You’re just not going to care when it happens.”

“So they can stay, then?” Fay asks quietly.

“Of course they can fucking stay,” Kurogane grumbles as he leave the tent, “What am I going to do, toss them out to freeze?” He stomps out into the cold, and is certain he can feel Fay’s smirk against his back.





There’s a sharp pain between his shoulders as consciousness grapples with the last defiant remnants of darkness. Something hard and heavy collides with the bottom of his foot.

“Wake up.”

He forces an eyelid open.

“Shift’s over, sleeping beauty.”

“What the hell…?” he grumbles as the garage falls into place around him. It’s swept and clean – practically spotless. He leans back in his chair until it collides with his work bench, startling at the impact.

“Go home,” Saiga insists, eyeing him with no small measure of concern, “And take tomorrow off.”

“Where’s the kid?”

“Gone before I got here. Figured you sent him home for the day.”

“Yeah…” Kurogane drags himself to his feet and collects his belongings from the workbench. He steals a quick look over at the engine – it’s puffing quietly and rhythmically away, with only the occasional sputter interrupting its flow. At least some good apparently came of today…

“Seriously, I don’t want to see you here tomorrow,” Saiga repeats as Kurogane heads for the exit, “I’ll bust your head open if you show up.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Kurogane grunts, waving a final farewell to his employer, “I’ll see you later…”

The sun is still hanging low on the horizon, but he’s too exhausted to make his way into town to pay a visit to that damned witch doctor, and decides to head home instead. He’ll hear no end of scolding, but he’s too far gone to care. Bed, as worn and uncomfortable as their current mattress is, is the only appealing thought he can muster at the moment.

The apartment is dark but for the few rays of light sneaking past the heavy drapes as he closes the door behind him, and the faint sound of snoring colors the prevailing silence. He tiptoes past Fay – curled up asleep in an armchair – and quickly undresses for bed. He manages to pull the bed from its wall frame with only minimal creaking and tosses the pillows and blankets to land haphazardly across the mattress.

“Mmm…what time is it?” Fay mumbles groggily.

Kurogane curses himself silently and opts for a round-about version of the truth. “Not sure,” he murmurs, “Going to bed.”

Fay cracks open an eyelid and smiles wryly at him. “There’s still light coming in through the windows, Kuro-tan. Are you really going to bed?”

“Yes,” Kurogane insists and sinks onto the mattress. “Tired…”

“Did you see Ichihara this afternoon?”

Damn it. He should have known the insufferable busybody wouldn’t let him rest so easily. “No, I-”

No?!” Fay’s eyes are suddenly wide, panic dancing across his face as he jolts to his feet, “Kurogane, you have to go!”

“What are you getting so worked up for?” Kurogane demands petulantly, crossing his arms over his chest, “It’s just some nightma – hey!” He lurches forward to catch Fay as the other stumbles, doubling over the armchair. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, nothing,” Fay chuckles weakly, but the coughs spluttering from his lips speak otherwise, “I just…ate some bad sandwiches or something. Sakura brought them…they don’t have an icebox upstairs, you know.”

Kurogane’s eyebrows twitch skeptically as he drags the smaller man over to their kitchen sink, holding blond hair back as Fay wretches into the basin. He runs the tap and snatches a (mostly) clean rag from a hook to wet under the stream. Fay’s skin is flushed with fever; Kurogane can feel the heat burning against his arm as he holds the other man close and runs the damp rag across a trembling forehead. There are no “bad sandwiches” settling against the porcelain bowl, only thick, black sputum.

“I’ll be fine, Kuro-pon,” Fay insists shakily, taking the rag to wipe his own face, “I just need to get some rest, too.” He turns the tap to full power, chasing away any evidence he might be speaking less than truthfully, and pulls away from Kurogane’s hold. “Let’s go to bed.”

Kurogane follows him closely back to their bed, arms poised and ready to catch the blond should he lose himself to another fit. He tucks the blankets snugly around Fay before settling down himself and pulling the other close. Fay still burns against him, but relaxes pliantly into his arms and smiles against Kurogane’s cheek. Kurogane can only hold him closer as sleep takes them, folded tightly against one another in the dim light of the afternoon.





“Who’s Yuui?”

“What?” Fay drops the candle he’s carrying, nearly setting the floor of the tent on fire before he’s able to sweep it back up.  “What are you talking about, Kuro-puu?”

Kurogane dangles a metal tag from his fingers, eyebrows lifting questioningly. He’s found this tangled amongst Fay’s pile of trinkets cluttering their only table while attempting (rather fruitlessly) to separate the refuse from the necessary. The tag itself is familiar; an almost perfect replica of the one each of them wears tucked into their uniforms, only the lettering across the front betraying its foreignness.

Fay snatches the tag away from Kurogane’s grasp, terror flitting across his face. It’s quickly shoved into his pocket as he storms back over to the sleeping children he’s been tending, ignoring the bemused look he’s receiving. He fusses over Sakura, pulling the the blanket more firmly under her chin, tucking stray hairs behind her ears, stroking her cheek comfortingly as she sleeps. He checks on Syaoran as well before standing back up, hope struck from his eyes as he finds Kurogane still standing there, silently demanding an explanation.

“He’s…” Fay begins and flounders, “He was my brother.”

“Was?”

“My twin,” Fay continues, gaining momentum as Kurogane refuses to break eye contact, “He died. Before the war started. He…”

“You don’t have to tell me,” Kurogane cuts him off gently. “I was just curious – I’m not asking you to lay out your history or anything you don’t want to share.”

“I…” Fay falters again, looks at the floor, “Thank you, Kuro-rin. Maybe-”

Kurogane holds up a hand and rolls his eyes. “Whatever. It’s only important to me if you want it to be.” He settles at the edge of his bed and stares down at the sleeping children. “You’ve kept your word,” he says after a long pause.

“What?” Fay looks at him, clearly confused.

“You haven’t died.”

“How is that keeping my word, Kuro-tan?”

“You promised you wouldn’t, when you took these two in.”

“Oh, yes. Well-”

“I fight next to you every day, idiot,” Kurogane cuts him off, “I’ve seen the difference.”

“…Is Kuro-chi saying something…nice?”

Tche,” Kurogane scoffs, “Don’t let it go to your head, moron.”

“I just,” Fay says slowly, eyes lingering on the sleeping children, “Don’t think anyone should have to be alone.” He sighs deeply and crawls under the heavy blankets on his bed. “Good night, Kuro-sama.”

Kurogane sighs and douses the candle. “Night, idiot.”

 Go to Part II

January 2013

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