ccarlet: photo of contessa fire eating in her white corset and checkered headband ([trc] a sideways look)
[personal profile] ccarlet
Rating: Light PG-13
Character/Pairing: Fai/Kurogane
Warnings: Shirtlessnes, dislocated shoulders...?
Author's Note: A Xmas present for an irl friend, who is the sweetest person! <3 I am hoping my rudimentary, basic CPR class knowledge of shoulder injuries will not come back to bite me.
Summary: Kurogane is a surprisingly good nursemaid.


“Fai-san!” Fai was startled out of his rather dull speculation of what limited winter greens the ‘grocer’s’, if the little tarp on poles could be called that, had offered. He looked surprised but unalarmed when Mokona managed to almost miraculously propel herself into his basket of wilting vegetables, most likely pre-boiled with the rotten spots sliced off. He didn’t relish the smell they were probably going to give off when he and Sakura actually dared to try and cook them.

“What’s wrong, Moko-chan?” he asked pleasantly, although even the ever-cheerful magician was finding himself a bit worn down by the dreariness of the world they’d passed into. The ‘village’ he was standing in was in itself only a street, scorched once through by a fire that, considering the bleak, snowing landscape that surrounded it, was no natural disaster. As it was, the settlement seemed to be clinging to the ruined, charred skeletons of the buildings, flickers of colored tarps and the impoverished people who huddled under them the only color that stood out among an otherwise monochromatic world. The little outpost seemed to be cowering back to where it once stood, reluctant to even creep towards a great black forest that stretched out confidently beside it, not at all concerned about any fires, man made or otherwise. Fai and his traveling group had taken one look at the sea of ice, the scrap of a town, and the rows of pine, and decided that hungry wolves and bears were actually preferable to their other options. Stopping briefly for supplies, they’d meant to go on right away.

“Fai-san,” the little creature hissed fretfully as he started to pay, already uncertain by her nervousness and doubting there would be any more time for produce, “I think Syaoran and Sakura are in trouble with some men!”

Fai tossed bent old coins at the grocer woman and whirled around in one smooth movement, just in time to see Syaoran position himself between Sakura and a bruiser of a warrior clad in enough furs and metal to probably rebuild the town.

The merchant gasped in horror behind him and quickly ducked behind her counter, but had she kept her head up long enough to watch, she might have been amazed to see the blonde man casually push aside his basket, little white creature and all, stepping ahead with only the faintest note of reproach, “Hey, Syaoran-”

The bruiser, backed by a slightly smaller comrade, fixed him with an ugly stare. He was a peculiar combination of polished armor, fine cloth, and no bathing.

“These little brats yours, twiggy?” Fai smiled patiently and inwardly wondered what Kurogane would do were he not over in the ‘fields’, for what they were, haggling for horses. There would most likely be more blood and missing teeth. Possibly another fire.

“I don’t know anything about ‘brats’.” He swung over and caught the boy and the princess by the shoulders with an expression the warrior bristled at, taking as teasing.

“Did I say I was finished with that kid?” he snapped back, making a move towards them.

For a second, the smile slid off. “But I’m sure you could be.”

“Not with that cheeky little-!” It was an awful moment, when the other man reached out, grasping clumsily with his beefy hand, scarred by countless pummeling of the unprotected. Fai could easily have dodged such an awkward advance with added grace, and had countless times- but that had been when he’d been parrying blows while standing alone. No longer with the luxury, he didn’t. The man’s plated armor made his grip feel like a pair of scissors, and when the magician tried to risk swinging free, the pain intensified with a stomach-lurching ‘pop’. Fai saw white, which he wasn’t actually able to distinguish from the sharp, stabbing feeling in his arm and shoulder blade before he tasted dirt. His senses seemed to lurch up and down for only a moment before he was aware of cold sweat on his face as his blood seemed to drain from it.

“Fai-san!”

He forced himself to blink awake sooner than he probably should have to find a greatly concerned Sakura leaning over him as he lay against the slushy snow, squinting at the gray sky.

“Sorry... princess...” he managed, not quite up to talking yet, but ill-advisedly trying to sit up anyway. He saw Syaoran close by, holding Mokona, but otherwise the street was deserted. Clearly, that hadn’t just been a ‘moment’, and it was too bad, really- he’d always thought he was made of slightly stronger stuff than that. At least he hadn’t completely blacked out.

“Ah... What happened to...?”

“Um,” Syaoran shifted, “Kurogane-san... came back, just then.” He winced, as if what else had transpired was better left unsaid.

“Kuro-pii is really mad!” Mokona exclaimed on his behalf. Fai was about to ask where his cantankerous angel of vengeance had gotten to when Syaoran spoke up fretfully.

“I could have blocked that!”

“Aw,” Fai managed to smile at him, “Well, it’s possible only Kuro-rin could take him without a scratch... I guess we’ll never know.” He shrugged, and then with a gasp realized what an awful idea that had been as almost all of the pain came back. He managed to catch himself, biting his lip and reassuring the kids, “I’m fine, I’m fine...”

“You. Idiot,” a tall, brooding shadow blocked out the sun.

“Kuro-sama, my hero-” Fai crooned as the ninja gave him an annoyed look to curdle milk, squatting down to the rest of their levels.

“Kurogane-san, it wasn’t his fault, he blocked-” Syaoran started before Kurogane managed to silence him with one look.

“He’s still an idiot.” He turned back to Fai, and his default emotion of a scowl seemed to be making a valiant effort to appear something close to reassuring. “Don’t worry about those guys. I took care of it.”

“Kuro,” Fai shook his head, fondly exasperated, “You didn’t do anything bad, did you-?”

“-How’s your arm?” Kurogane cut in as if he hadn’t heard, “Did he break it?”

Fai winced, not just from throbbing pain. In an unexpected moment of understanding that passed between them, Kurogane told the two youths, “Take care of those horses I got”, effectively sending them off. Mokona, who had ensconced herself in the fur of Fai’s cloak and was patting his head soothingly, was deemed a lost cause. Kurogane looked back down at him, eyebrows raised.

“I think my right arm might be out of its socket...” Fai admitted, “But they don’t need to know that.”

Kurogane merely nodded as if this were not a huge deal, and for someone who routinely faced off against dragons, it probably wasn’t.

“I can fix that, just not here.”

“You can?” Fai perked up, ignoring how much it hurt to have the ninja lift him into a standing position, leaning on the other man’s side.

“Sure. What kind of warrior would I be if I couldn’t set bones?” the other scoffed with his usual scorn, leading him with surprising gentleness toward where Syaoran and Sakura were saddling the horses. Fai was able to hide his genuine surprise under a grimace.

“Can you two manage a horse by yourselves?” Kurogane directed at the kids, who nodded- Sakura was already in the saddle. “Good, I’ll take him with me.” To Fai, he added, sounding almost guilty, “I wouldn’t normally have you ride in your condition, but we can’t stay here. Those guys’ll have friends coming.”

Fai let the warrior show off his strength by pulling himself into the second horse’s saddle while still clutching Fai so he didn’t move more than he had to, but cast a questioning look back at the settlement.

“Don’t worry,” Kurogane tightened his hand on his back, well away from his bad shoulder, “They won’t bother them- they’re on a man hunt now.” He became apologetic again, remaining gruff. “Sorry, I didn’t really think that through.”

“It’s always a man hunt with you, isn’t it?” Fai laughed weakly, already able to tell, as they started off at a trot into the black woods, that every jostle of the saddle meant more stabbing pain.

Moving through the trees as quietly as possible while keeping the horses at a brisk pace, Fai found himself noticing the dark branches and soft snowflakes that trickled down between them less and less. Having grown up, for the most part, in Ceresu, the cold at least made no difference to him, but the pain was wearing him down, and he found himself leaning his head against Kurogane’s shoulder without fully meaning to, half falling asleep. The ninja, for his part, curled his one free arm that wasn’t grasping the reigns tighter around the magician who he had cradled between him and the front of the saddle. Fai vaguely thought, barely conscious, This could feel so awkward when this little adventure is over...

He was awakened painfully from a half-doze by Kurogane’s complete unattempt to disguise a swear, and through his arms Fai saw what appeared to be a break in the trees, some sort of muddy forest crossroad. Through the falling snow, coupled with his blurry vision, he saw the three figures on horseback that had joined them and groaned along with the other man. He had another cause of concern- even if Kurogane wasn’t recognized, which, considering how slowly information must have moved in a dense forest, he might well not be, the warrior, for as sweet as he was being this evening, was emphatically Not a People Person, leaving Fai and Syaoran to shoulder most of the talking. Fortunately, he heard, as he struggled not to fall back asleep, Syaoran convincingly playing the part of yet another group of refugees. The presence of the children, the little rabbit-thing they were carrying, and an injured party must have been somewhat reassuring, because when the horse started to move again Fai realized they must have been free to go. Kurogane muttered something soothing, and Fai nodded, but was too tired to reply.

Unfortunately, sleep never returned up until he felt the horses stop for a consultation between riders, Syaoran pulling his up alongside them with Sakura holding onto his waist and Mokona sitting atop their mounts ears.

“That’s a place of worship up ahead,” Syaoran said softly as if they were already in the chapel, an impression added to by the swiftly darkening sky, “They generally have to act as a sanctuary, whatever world you’re in.”

“Right,” Kurogane decided, urging his stallion into what might have qualified as the little hermitage’s ‘courtyard’, merely an empty space before a dirt hut with a wooden door, the residence of some solitary holy man or woman. The front might have held some sort of religious ornament, but it was too dark to tell.

As Sakura knocked as politely as possible on the door, Fai tried to offer some protest- “Kuro, I can walk...”

“What?” Kurogane asked distractedly, stepping up to the door, magician in arm.

“Are you just so used to carrying me now?” Fai asked with a weak laugh, though losing his will to do so. He couldn’t see Kurogane’s expression, but the other man paused, before saying quickly, “Eh, doesn’t matter” and the door was opened.

“Please, ma’am,” Syaoran asked of a stooped, elderly holy woman Fai couldn’t see either, even though she was holding a candle, “We need a safe house for the night, from the soldiers.”

“Of course, of course, but-” There was some mumbling consultation he didn’t catch, “-But this isn’t a hospital, I don’t have herbs or anything-”

“I don’t need herbs,” Kurogane broke in briskly, “All I need is a surface and some quiet.”

They scuffled around in the doorway a bit before the old hermit woman led them to another cramped room that no one would have guessed could have existed to look at the mound she lived in.

“Sorry,” Kurogane apologized, with something of a ‘don’t bemoan what you can’t change’ attitude, laying him down flat on a table, “We’ll have to do this the old-fashioned way.”

“It’s fine,” Fai said aloud, inwardly groaning a bit. A multitude of half-used candles finally created sufficient light and he felt Sakura mopping his brow with a damp cloth, for lack of any other resources.

“Let the manju-bun deal with that,” Kurogane ordered her, ushering them out once again. She flashed Fai an encouraging smile before departing.

“Kuro-sama, you’re such a strict daddy...” Fai teased weakly. The ninja raised his eyebrows, throwing off his cloak and wiping his hands on another rag.

“You want them to see this? It’ll be messy.”

“No,” he sighed, shaking his head fondly, “I suppose not.”

“It’ll be okay, Fai!” Mokona nuzzled up against him, “Kuro-rii knows what he’s doing!”

“You better believe I do,” Kurogane put in, almost as something of a challenge, before offering another apology as he tried to undo Fai’s shirt and ended up shifting his bad shoulder. Even if it were one of many strange apologies coming from him this evening, it still sounded foreign.

“Sorry, I’d just cut if off, but all we’ve got is what we’re wearing.”

“Ow! It’s fine, it’s fine...”

“Just try not to move,” the ninja got down to business quickly, “You ready?”

Fai could feel Kurogane holding his arm which hurt wherever it was touched, and Mokona’s tiny paws patting his good hand comfortingly. He breathed hard and stared at the thatch ceiling above them.

“Do your thing, Kuro-sama-” he broke off in a yelp as the amateur bonesetter didn’t waste any time.

“Good,” the ninja muttered distractedly, shifting to keep one arm on his chest so we wouldn’t squirm again, “Keep still, if you can...”

“Kuro-” getting words out between yelps as his arm was slowly, hopefully tweaked back into position proved difficult, “Did I ever thank you for everything today?”

“Keep talking if that takes your mind off it,” Kurogane told him, part of an entirely different conversation where he wasn’t fully listening to the ravings of an injured companion.

“I mean- this is-” Fai reverted back to their usual relationship where he teased, unsure of what else to do, “-A side of you I haven’t seen-”

“Well,” Kurogane made a face, putting more energy into his chiropractor work, “I did lead troops into battle, back in the day- I saw a lot of my soldiers injured. I know what to do.”

“Ah.” Fai hoped he didn’t sound oddly disappointed, because he honestly wasn’t thinking strait. The pain shifted to something slow and constant, rather than sharp, sudden stabs as Mokona tried to wipe sweat off his brow.

“Oh, merde...” He pressed his head back against the table as the hurt briefly escalated to prevent himself from wriggling.

“Was that a cuss in your language? Didn't think you had it in you,” Kurogane asked, seeming amused. Fai laughed guiltily.

“Good, swear as much as you want,” his companion advised as the going seemed to be getting tougher. “Or-” he added, a little uncertain, “If you need it...” He held up a balled up bit of cloth, and it took Fai a minute to figure out what it was.

“Oh, no,” Fai shook his head at the gag, “It’s not necessary.”

“You sure?” Kurogane cocked his head, as if implying, I trust you... “You don’t want to bite your tongue.”

“Would you believe me if I said I’d had worse?” Fai shifted, watching the man in black regard him.

“I suppose I’d believe it, from a guy who had a tattoo that big on his back.” He paused, strangely resting his hand on Fai’s neck rather than his shoulder which, for some reason, made the magician shiver, even as he laughed softly, pushing down any bitterness at the memory it was better his doctor didn’t know about.

“In any case,” Kurogane suddenly cut in with an added dose of gruffness, as if some sappy moment had passed between them and Fai had somehow missed it. Fai let out a rather undignified squeak as he felt his shoulder tweaked again. “We’re almost done, so... buck up.”

“Kuro-rin has such a good bedside manner!” Mokona nuzzled up against Fai’s other side, it was difficult to tell whether she was being willfully ignorant or sweetly sarcastic.

“And you’re never helpful, manju-bun,” the ninja growled from across the table, pausing and holding Fai’s arm as if it were made of glass.

“Mokona’s very helpful! Mokona held Fai’s hand!”

“Oh, right, that’s very helpful.” -Sarcasm perfectly evident.

“It was helpful-” Fai started in a conciliatory manner, find the presence of adorable animals always comforting, “And you also- Ow!” He jolted, and there was yet another sickening pop.

“Got it! See, I was just waiting until you were distracted,” Kurogane smirked as the magician fell back against the table, panting and a little paler, but clearly relieved.

“Th-thanks...?” He managed a partial smile, feeling the ninja stand up, who answered briskly, “Don’t mention it.”

“Why does it still feel like-”

“It’ll get better, I’ll just make a sling.”

“Oh. Thank you, Kuro-” But he’d already left the room. Fai sighed and shivered, wondering where his cloak had gotten to.

“Fai?” He could feel Mokona’s little paws on his shoulder, and reached up to pat her. “You okay?”

“So much better!” he only partially lied- the steady, thumping pain he’d take over the bonesetting any day. “Why don’t you check on Syaoran and Sakura for me? Tell them it’s all under control.” He pulled himself up with some difficulty, trying to keep his injured arm prone.

“Oh.” Her ears flopped comically. “But, you and Kuro-pon...”

“What about us?” he smiled at her fondly.

“Give him a thank-you kiss! Mwah!” she demonstrated at the air.

Fai was rarely floored, but this was a rare occasion of full surprise for him. He recovered himself, if not as fully or as quickly as he was used to. The little creature looked very pleased with herself.

“Haha, why would I do that?” he pushed a strand of hair out of his face in what he hoped looked like a careless move. She had already hopped down from the table and was waddling her way to the door, calling out “Mokona’s Secret Technique number forty-five- always able to tell when people are in love!”

“W-what?” He stared after her, but she was long gone, and all too quickly replaced by Kurogane.

“Why’re you sitting up already?” he demanded in characteristic foul temper as Fai was forced to very quickly scramble to put his wits back together, throwing his caretaker an equally characteristic easy smile.

“Sorry, Kurogane- you’ve been so sweet...”

The other grumbled something while tossing a splint and homemade bandages on the table about never being sweet.

“No, I mean it,” Fai leaned in before either one of them could have second thoughts, pecking him lightly on the cheek, “Thank you so much.” Feeling his friend stiffen against him, and catching a glance of his stony face that betrayed absolutely nothing, he inwardly berated himself, hastily pulling back.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know what I was thinking-”

“How’s your arm?” Kurogane interrupted so curtly the magician’s heart sank further.

“It’s fine,” he offered quietly, “You did a great job.”

“Good enough to do this?” He gasped, this time out of unexpected joy rather than pain when he felt Kurogane put a muscled arm around his waist, somehow managing to pull him in roughly on his good side and gently at his injury. Suddenly no longer cold, or wishing he knew where his cloak was, Fai once again managed to collect his wits just in time, angling for a better kiss on the lips while feeling like he might melt on the spot.

“Yeah... Good enough for that.”

Date: 2010-12-26 12:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ivyelevast.livejournal.com
Lol, is the actual manga usually like this? :D

Date: 2010-12-26 12:27 am (UTC)
ext_444633: The dark carnival is in town... ([trc] a sideways look)
From: [identity profile] ccarlet.livejournal.com
Well, with, alas, less kissin', but it certainly gets progressively more and more like this.

(CHECK OUT MY LATEST ENTRY guess wot it is.)

Date: 2010-12-26 09:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ivyelevast.livejournal.com
EXCELLENT.

(OOOO EXCITED!!! *runs off to read*)

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