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Title: Night of the Dancing Flame
Fandom: Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle
Rating: G
Pairings/Warnings: KuroFai. Shameless fluff.
Summary: They say Firelit Night is not a time for fickle hearts or weak flames, and Kurogane has never been one to hesitate.
Notes: Written for the KuroFai Headcanon Meme on Dreamwidth, with the prompt of Kurogane and Fai getting married/ having some kind of ceremony prior to the xxxHolic special chapter. Been meaning to post this for like a month and totally forgot about it. Anyway, utterly shameless schmoop and fluff ahead.


"Welcome, welcome, welcome all!"

The world they landed in was brightly colored, all reds and oranges, and there was distinct festive feeling in the air. The sky above was a pure dark blue, without stars or moon, but everything was brightly lit due to the hundreds of torches and fires glowing from every corner.

“Welcome, travelers!” A man wearing a high top hat and an outfit covered in gaudy red silks waved them over. He was sitting on top of a high wooden chair that towered above even Kurogane, and there were golden feathers on his arms.

“This certainly seems like a pleasant world,” Fai commented as they approached.

“Welcome, welcome all!” the greeter repeated, throwing a handful of something bright in the air. Fai reached up and caught some of it in midair. Looking down at his hand, he saw it was filled with star-shaped confetti.

“It looks like there's some kind of festival going on,” Syaoran said, looking around curiously. People were walking all around them, most in pairs and small groups, and all were holding long thin torches made of black metal. Each torch was lit with a flame and each flame was a different color.

“Nobody's staring at us,” Fai said thoughtfully. “It seems like this world is used to travelers from other places.” He nodded at one couple walking past them, both seven feet tall with long lizard-like tails. Just beyond them was another twosome, these the size of small children but with elderly, wrinkled faces. No one looked twice at the three travelers in clothes from Clow country, even with Mokona sitting in plain sight on Syaoran's shoulder.

“Come on, come on.” The greeter had hopped down from his chair and was approaching them, feathers flying about with every wave of his arms. Kurogane eyed him suspiciously and placed a cautious hand on the hilt of his sword. Fai pressed a hand over his, smoothly pushing it away from the sword.

“Now, now, Kuro-sama,” he said lightly. “You're being paranoid again.”

“I'm being cautious,” Kurogane grumbled. “Do you remember what happened on the last world? With those stupid furry...whatever the hell they were?”

“There was no way I could have known they were carnivorous,” Fai defended himself airily. “They seemed so friendly at first, too. And they were really soft and fluffy, weren't they?”

Before Kurogane could reply the greeter stopped in front of them, doffing his top hat and bowing low.

“Welcome, welcome all!” The man's face was covered by a green mask lined with sparkling jewels. “Engweld is a city always open to travelers, and never more so than on the Firelit Night! Come, you must take a torch, you must come to the bonfire!”

“The Firelit Night?” Fai repeated, looking around curiously. The greeter pulled several torches out of seemingly nowhere and handed him one. The metal felt cool and strangely brittle under his hands.

“A torch for all, a torch for all,” the greeter hummed happily, handing another torch to Syaoran and finally one to Kurogane, who looked at it with distinct distrust. “Come now, this way, to the fire pit! You mustn't be caught with an unlit torch, it simply won't do!”

He immediately set off into the crowd, feathers scattering behind him. Fai, Kurogane and Syaoran exchanged looks.

“I guess we should follow...” Syaoran said uncertainly, turning the torch over curiously in his hands.

“This is stupid,” Kurogane stated, crossing his arms.

“You haven't even seen any of the festival yet,” Fai prodded. “Don't be so grumpy, Kuro-sama! It's a nice night and we're all in a safe world, during a happy time. We should take advantage of the moment to relax, right?” He leaned against Kurogane as he spoke, letting his fingers run slowly up Kurogane's arm. Kurogane sighed and relaxed his stance, letting Fai latch onto his arm and drag him forward. Syaoran and Mokona exchanged a glance and followed along behind.

They found the guide dancing brightly in front of an enormous roaring bonfire. Multicolored sparks shot into the air and the flames danced in rotating colors, first blue, then green, then red, purple, yellow, every color that a person could think of and even some that had no names. Surrounding the fire were more people, of every size and shape, all wearing a wide variety of clothing.

“No wonder no one seemed surprised when we landed,” Syaoran commented. “It seems like this world really is one that gets visited by all kinds of travelers.” There was something wistful in his eyes as he looked around at the gathered throng.

“Come one, come all!” The greeter was yelling again. “Light your torches, to celebrate the Firelit Night!” His gaze rested on the group and he all but flew forward, grabbing a protesting Kurogane by the arm and dragging him forward.

“Hey!”

“Just go with it, Kuro-sama!” Fai yelled out helpfully from behind him, making no move to help.

“Go on, then.” The greeter stopped directly in front of the fire pit and released his hold on Kurogane, directing one feathered hand at the fire. “This is the most important part. You must light the torch.”

“Just place it in the fire?” Kurogane looked dryly unimpressed and the greeter laughed.

“You look like you're not enjoying yourself, stranger,” he said, and glanced back towards where Fai stood with Syaoran. “Now listen, my friend, and listen well. The Firelit Night of Engweld is known far and wide, and for good reason. Never do we see more travelers than we do tonight. This is our fire, granted to use by the prince of candles himself. It is no ordinary fire, these no ordinary torches. Place the end of your torch into the flames, and you will see.”

Kurogane gave him a dubious look but slowly lowered the torch into the fire. The bonfire suddenly flared up, the flames a deep, deep red. Kurogane stepped back slightly, removing his torch. The red fire continued burning at the torch's head.

“A strong, steady flame for a strong steady heart,” the greeter said, leaning on the edge of the fire pit with no sign of fear. “Will you hold onto it? Will you give it away? This is more than a torch, more than a fire. If you give it away, you give it away only to the one you wish to have it most, and to keep it forever. Firelit Night is not a time for fickle hearts or weak flames. So give it to whomever you choose, if you so choose.” The greeter gave him a thin, secretive smile that made Kurogane suddenly want to turn around and look back at Fai. “They call this the Night of a Thousand Weddings, my friend. So choose wisely.”

He gave Kurogane a small push back towards the others and then skipped past him, waving Fai forward.

“Come now! Come one, come all!”

Kurogane stepped back and glanced back up at his torch, at the bright red flames cutting through the dark of the night. In front of him he could see Fai standing at the pit, just lowering his torch into the flames as the greeter fluttered back towards where Syaoran still stood.

The flames flickered and the color grew a crystalline blue as the smoke curled along the tips of Fai's hair. The color cast a soft blue reflection over the entire scene and Kurogane felt something catch in the back of his throat. Fai turned towards him, torch glowing like a star in the night, and when he caught Kurogane's gaze he smiled.

Kurogane's hand clenched momentarily around the torch and he found himself extending his other hand for Fai to take as the magician came close. Fai looked at him curiously but took the hand anyway.

“Now all hearts have been set aflame.” The greeter stood behind them, smiling widely. “Go on, travelers, and be well. Enjoy the hospitality of Engweld, and the mystery of the Firelit Night!”

With that he whirled away towards the next group of arriving travelers, feathers swirling to the ground behind him. Fai reached down and picked one up, turning it over in his hand as Syaoran strode up with Mokona on his shoulder, his torch glowing a bright green.

“Well,” Fai said with a bit of a smile, “I guess we should go enjoy ourselves? It's a festival, after all.”

“A festival!” Mokona added happily and Fai laughed.

Kurogane looked over at him, and his hand tightened around his torch again as the flames flickered through the dark.



“It seems very peaceful here, doesn't it, Kuro-sama?” Fai asked breezily as they walked side by side through brightly-decorated streets. They had split up from Syaoran, who decided to remain behind in order to speak more with the greeter about the nature of the world they were in. Mokona had given them both a distinctly calculating look and decided to keep Syaoran company, leaving Kurogane and Fai to wander the festival alone.

“Yeah,” Kurogane agreed quietly, looking at Fai sidelong. Fai had tucked the host's feather behind his ear and his torch was leaning haphazardly against his shoulder in order to free his hands to eat something soft and sticky he'd gotten from a street vendor.

“Here, Kuro-sama, bite.” Fai held out a bit of his pastry and Kurogane wrinkled his nose.

“You know I don't like that kind of sweet crap,” he stated.

“I know Kuro-tan likes to say that because he thinks it makes him sound manly,” Fai chided. He held the bit of food in front of Kurogane's face, leaning in close. “Come on, open up.”

“Stop that.” Kurogane grabbed his wrist and lowered his hand. Fai looked at him in surprise.

“Are you all right?” Fai tossed the bit of food into his mouth and placed his free hand against Kurogane's forehead. Kurogane's eyes widened a bit. “You seem preoccupied today, Kuro-sama.”

“I'm fine.” Kurogane pulled away, and Fai thought his face looked a bit flushed. Kurogane looked away and stared up at his torch in the way that Fai had noticed him doing several times since they'd landed here.

A cheer rose up from somewhere off in the distance and they both turned to look.

“There's that cheering again.” Fai craned his neck to look, but there was already a press of people blocking his view. Star-shaped confetti fluttered down among them. “I keep hearing it every so often. I wonder what it's for.”

“Some kind of thing with the festival, I guess,” Kurogane said with a shrug. His eyes were drawn to a woman with a long red braid standing just outside the ring of cheering revelers. Her torch was lit with a small pink fairy-light, and she was glancing shyly between it and the black-haired woman with a madly flickering yellow torch standing obliviously beside her.

As he watched, the woman with the braid grabbed the black-haired woman's hand. As the other woman turned, the braid girl held out her torch. The two stared at each other for a long moment and then the black-haired woman's hand closed around the other woman's torch. The pink fairy-light suddenly burned brightly, sparks flying, and there was a heart of yellow wound inside it.

The people surrounding the two women turned and gave a great cheer, releasing sparkling handfuls of confetti in the air as the two women smiled at each other with tears sparkling in their eyes, and then the gathering crowd hid the two from his view.

“Look at this, Kuro-rin!” Fai's voice made him turn. The magician was standing with his back to Kurogane, admiring a variety of beaded headdresses and jewelry laid out on a wooden stall in front of him.

“It's pretty, isn't it?” Fai said as Kurogane approached. The feather in his hair swayed slightly in the soft breeze, and Kurogane had to resist the sudden urge to reach out and run his fingers through Fai's hair.

“If you like one, traveler, take it with you!” the man standing behind the stall crowed. There were black feathers covering his shoulders like a cape. “This is Firelit Night, after all. If it helps to move your heart or to grasp the torch of that person you wish for most, then take anything you wish, with my blessing.”

“Grasp the torch?” Fai repeated curiously, but the man had already turned away to face another traveler.

Kurogane leaned over him then, reaching for one of the pieces on the table. It was a small hair clip adorned with blue feathers and three small teardrop-shaped crystals.

“Kuro-sama?” Fai cocked his head. “I don't think that one would quite fit you. Ah! Unless you think we should take it along, we could bring it to Tomoyo-chan as a gift the next time we end up in Japan—Oh! We should get something for Sakura-chan too, don't you think? These are all so pretty, I'm sure she would...” He trailed off as Kurogane laid a hand on the side of his face with surprising gentleness.

“Kuro...sama...?”

“Here.” It was hard to tell whether or not the red in Kurogane's cheeks was a reflection from his torch, but his eyes were steady as he carefully smoothed Fai's hair back and slid the hair clip beside the golden feather.

Kurogane stepped back and Fai slowly raised a hand to touch the clip, looking as if wasn't quite sure what to say. His face was pale but Kurogane thought that there was a slight pleased flush to his face.

“It looks...nice...on you,” Kurogane muttered, looking slightly embarrassed, unable to meet Fai's eyes. There was a definite redness to his cheeks now, Fai was sure of it.

Fai stared at him for a long moment and then finally smiled, reaching out to place one hand gently on Kurogane's arm.

“Thank you,” he said sincerely. Fai turned back to the stall and cast his eyes over it for a moment before reaching over and taking hold of a piece. It was a wrist cuff set with orange and red pieces of glass that made a flame pattern over silver metal. “I think this will be large enough even to fit you, right?”

He held out the cuff and Kurogane hesitated. In the distance, another cheer rose.

Kurogane reached over and took the wrist cuff. He moved to place it over his wrist and paused, looking back up at his torch again.

“Firelit Night is not a time for fickle hearts or weak flames.”

“Here.” Kurogane thrust the torch out suddenly towards Fai. “Hold this for me.”

Fai looked confused but reached out for the torch anyway. Kurogane paused for only the briefest of moments as Fai's hands closed over the metal and then his whole body seemed to relax as he let go, as if he'd come to some sort of decision.

The wild flames of Kurogane's torch suddenly seemed to slow as though being soothed by an unseen force. A bright strand of blue was weaving its way through the red, and Kurogane smiled.

Someone behind them suddenly cheered and then there was a flurry of movement around them. Fai glanced around wildly in surprise as they were surrounded by cheering and confetti.

“An exchange An exchange!” A gaggle of high-pitched voices twittered and then they were ringed by girls in silver robes with white feathered arms and multicolored feathers weaved into their hair. Unlike the rest of the festival goers, they held no torches. Instead they each had a small glowing light around their necks. Two grabbed Fai by the arms and began to hurry him forward, while the other three set upon Kurogane.

“The hell--?” Kurogane's irritated curse could barely be heard over the sound of the girls' high-pitched voices. One girl took Kurogane's torch from Fai and handed it off to yet another white-feathered girl.

“To the Hall of Dancing Flames!” The girls were chattering happily, and everyone they passed turned to look and gave a cheer as they went, more confetti falling down like a rain of stars.

They were led to a building made of beams and wide orange-tinted glass, like a giant golden greenhouse. Multiple doorways dotted the outside of the building. The girls pulled Fai into one doorway and Kurogane into another, chirping brightly the whole way.

Fai found himself dragged into what seemed to be a small dressing room, the walls draped in orange and red curtains. One of the girls gestured at him to place his torch into a metal holder in the center of the floor as the other girl began to tug at his clothes.

“Don't worry,” the girl said calmly when he started to pull away. Her eyes were shining and her smile was open and honest, brighter than the walls surrounding them, and Fai felt something in him relax. “You'll see him again in a moment. First we have to make you presentable!”

Two more white-feathered girls appeared at the door, each carrying an armful of brightly-colored fabric.

“Now...” The girl who had spoken to Fai spread her hands wide. “Let's begin!”

A short time later Fai found himself pushed out the door, torch back in his hand. The clothes he had been given in Clow had been removed and safely stored away (or so he'd been promised) and he was dressed in an elaborate outfit of red and white, decorated everywhere with feathers and shining stones. The clip Kurogane had given him was still in his hair, which had been untied from its usual ponytail and fell loosely around his shoulders.

The room he was let out in was a beautiful wide ballroom. The floor was covered in white tiles with bits of red scattered around like a trail of rose petals. Torches burned merrily along the walls, casting hazy shadows on the floor. Looking up, Fai found himself staring a smooth golden ceiling that arched up in a dome shape. The highest point of the dome had shapes cut into it, and through them Fai could see the dark night sky above. On opposite sides of the dome the shapes were in the form of two vaguely humanoid silhouettes, and between them there were hundreds of small black holes. About half of the holes were filled with some kind of white fire that cast a soft glow over the entire room.

All around him were people dressed in similar outfits, some with and some without torches. Some were dancing and others were just talking, while others simply stood beside each other in companionable silence. There were tables of food laid out on impossibly long tables that lined the walls, and there were soft chairs and couches here and there for people to rest on. The spot Fai had stepped out from was covered in closed doors, but the rest of the ballroom had only opened doorways that led out onto stone balconies.

Fai stood there for several moments, looking around in some confusion. His hand felt warm where he'd held Kurogane's torch and he found himself pulling it close against his chest, as if he could allow that warmth to spread throughout his body.

His eyes caught sight of a familiar figure standing by one wall, looking irritated as always, and Fai quickly crossed the room towards him.

Kurogane's clothes had been taken as well and his new outfit was made all of dark reds and oranges. His torch was gone, but a necklace had been placed around his neck that burned with a small fire made all of red tinged with blue. He looked up as Fai came close.

“You look too grumpy, Kuro-sama,” Fai said brightly as he joined Kurogane by the wall. “People will think badly of you if you look so gloomy during a happy time.”

“Shut up,” Kurogane said without malice. “Where the hell are we?”

“I'm not sure,” Fai said, shrugging. “Our hosts back there weren't really listening to much of what I said. But I suppose this is another part of the festival.”

Fai cast his eyes around the room. In the center of the floor there were couples pressed closed together, moving in time with music only they could hear. Fai found his free hand reaching out to take Kurogane's wrist, closing over the golden cuff. Kurogane looked up and Fai met his gaze with a smile.

“Well, since we're in this world, we should follow everyone's lead, right?” He pulled lightly on Kurogane's wrist, dragging him forward. “Dance with me?”

“I don't dance,” Kurogane said gruffly, though he didn't pull away.

“I know, I've seen you try,” Fai said, not missing a beat. “But now's the perfect time to teach you, don't you think?”

Kurogane just snorted and let himself be dragged forward.



“I told you I don't fucking dance,” Kurogane muttered some time later as they sat side by side on one of the couches. Fai was fiddling curiously with his torch.

“You'll get the hang of it eventually, Kuro-sama,” Fai said encouragingly. “I would think a ninja would be lighter on his feet.”

“I don't fight enemies with dancing,” Kurogane said darkly. “And besides, what kind of dance was that anyway?”

“I don't know,” Fai said, shrugging with a small, wistful smile. “I picked it up somewhere along the way.”

“I don't remember you having to dance while we were traveling.”

“You probably too busy fighting something at the time,” Fai teased.

“Probably. It would make sense that I was the one doing something useful.”

“You wound me, Kuro-sama,” Fai said with a laugh. He gave a sigh and leaned his head against Kurogane's shoulder. “There are more lights on the ceiling now.”

“Hmm?”

“The picture in the center of the ceiling,” Fai said, pointing. “With all those small black holes. I know I saw some lit when we first got here, but more seem to be shining now.”

“Some kind of time piece?” Kurogane suggested, sounding uninterested.

“No, I don't feel like that's it.” Fai went quiet then, staring in silence at the blue flame still glowing at the end of his torch.

“Kurogane-san, Fai-san!” A familiar voice made them both turn. Syaoran came hurrying over to meet them, still holding his torch with Mokona on his shoulder. As he got closer Syaoran stopped for a moment, glancing from Fai's torch to the glowing sphere around Kurogane's neck. He and Mokona exchanged a quick smile.

“They let you keep your clothes, Syaoran-kun,” Fai noted. “Kuro-sama and I got a change of wardrobe before they let us in.”

“The greeter asked if I could be allowed in as a special case, so I could look at the image on the ceiling,” Syaoran said. “He was telling me about the history of the festival.” He glanced quickly at Kurogane's necklace again.

“It has something to do with the carving up there?” Fai pointed to the holes in the dome. “Ah, see, I was right, there are even more lights there now.” The scattered small black holes above were about halfway filled with glowing lights.

“It's supposed to represent the story of Firelit Night,” Syaoran said. “The greeter was telling me. In this world, there's an old story about a princess of birds and a princess of shadows. They met each other in the shadow of a candle flame one night thousands of years ago. Normally nights in this country are lit by two moons, but one night every year both those moons go out and the people have to light candles and torches in order to see.”

He ran a hand over his own torch, an almost wistful smile on his face.

“The princess of birds and princess of shadows could only meet each other on that night when the moons went out, in the light of the candles. They met every night faithfully until the king of shadows discovered them. He forbid his daughter from ever seeing her lover again, and used his power to smother all the flames in the world, so that the princess of birds would have no way of finding the princess of shadows in the darkness.

“In despair, the princess of birds appealed to an old friend of hers, the prince of candles. He didn't have the power to override the magic of the king of shadows and re-light the flames, but he vowed to find a way to help the two lovers. Using an ancient spell, the prince of candles created a special flame, a flame that was lit by the power of a person's heart. But the flame of a single heart alone wasn't enough to light the way for the princess of birds. Two flames were needed.

“The flames the prince of candles created were such that though they could glow strongly in the presence of a steady heart, the only way for them to glow brightest would be if two people whose hearts and souls were connected exchanged torches with each other. Then they would create a light so bright it could shine up to the very heavens, where the princess of birds waits. In this world they say that if a thousand lights can be sent up into the sky on Firelit Night it will be enough to guide the princess of birds to where the princess of shadows waits for her on the ground.”

Syaoran looked up at the ceiling again and Fai and Kurogane followed his gaze. As they watched a small light floated up from somewhere else on the floor and settled itself into one of the dark holes, glowing strongly.

“That's why they call this the Night of a Thousand Weddings,” Syaoran said. “People come from worlds all over for this night, to exchange torches and bind themselves together.” He gave Kurogane and Fai a significant look.

Fai's eyes widened suddenly and he followed Syaoran's gaze to the glowing pendant around Kurogane's neck.

“Ah, no, Syaoran-kun,” Fai said quickly, waving his free hand. “I think it's a bit of a misunderstanding. Kuro-sama just handed me his torch so his hands would be free to--”

Kurogane pressed a fist against his forehead then, no power behind it, just to stop him talking. Fai looked up and Kurogane met his gaze steadily.

“Idiot,” Kurogane said. “I thought you knew better than that.” He suddenly looked slightly nervous and coughed to cover the emotion. “I figured out enough on my own to know what was happening. I gave you the torch because I wanted to.” His voice was strong and unwavering, filled with absolute conviction. “That guy with the feathers, he said the torch was like a heart. So who else would I give it to, if not you?”

Fai's eyes widened and Kurogane had the momentary pleasure of knowing that he had, for once, made Fai absolutely speechless. A slow smile wound its way across Fai's face and suddenly he swept forward, free arm latching around Kurogane's neck as he caught the other man in a deep kiss.

Behind them, Mokona cheered.

Kurogane made a small noise of surprise and then leaned into the kiss. They remained that way for a long moment before Fai finally stepped back, eyes dancing as Kurogane ran a hand through his hair.

“You're unexpectedly romantic tonight, Kuro-sama,” Fai teased lightly.

“Shut up,” Kurogane snapped. There was a definite tinge of red of his cheeks.

“Kurogane is blushing!” Mokona added happily.

“Who's blushing?!” Kurogane demanded. Mokona tossed a handful of star shaped confetti into his face, jumping off Syaoran's shoulder as Kurogane angrily reached for her.

Fai stepped backward languidly, leaning on his torch as he watched Kurogane chase Mokona around. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Syaoran looking upwards at the ceiling, eyes far away.

“Syaoran-kun.” Fai placed a hand on his shoulder and Syaoran gave him a questioning look. “Hold still for a moment, all right?” Heedless of the people around them, Fai began to write a word in the air. Magic shimmered around them, wrapping around the green flame of Syaoran's torch. It seemed to curl in on itself, turning into a small glowing sphere that hovered inches above Fai's palm.

“Mokona, can I borrow you for a bit?” Fai waved at Mokona, who easily ducked under Kurogane's grasping fist to perch on the magician's shoulder. Fai held out the glowing sphere. “Can you hold onto this for me? The magic will keep it in this form for as long as we need it to.” He glanced back at Syaoran. “When we make it back to Clow, I think Sakura-chan will like it. Don't you think so, Syaoran-kun?”

Syaoran stared at him wide-eyed for a moment and then smiled.

“Thank you, Fai-san.” He placed a hand on Fai's arm. “And congratulations.”

“Well, the night's young, right?” Fai said chirpily, handing Mokona back to Syaoran and grabbing onto Kurogane's arm again. “It looks like I have all night to teach Kuro-sama the proper way to dance.”

Kurogane immediately started to protest, but didn't pull away as Fai led him back out onto the floor.



The bits of sky that could be seen had distinctly lightened as Fai sat on the edge of the fountain in the center of the ballroom. Kurogane had gone to get them both drinks and Syaoran was fast asleep on one of the couches by the wall, Mokona curled up beside him. There was very little dancing now, as the the night grew long and couples grew tired.

Fai's eyes slid over to one couple standing near the wall, the woman still holding her torch in her hand. As he watched, she shyly held it out to her partner. His hands closed over the torch and the purple flame grew swirled with green that grew lighter and lighter until it was a pure white. The flame rose up into the sky, nesting itself into of the empty black holes in the ceiling, and the couple embraced.

There were only a handful of holes remaining in the ceiling and the white lights stared back at him, glowing with a soft warmth that made him feel somehow at ease.

“Are you all right?” Kurogane came up beside him, handing him a cup of red liquid. It had a sweet fruity taste and Fai downed it in one gulp.

“Tired,” Fai admitted. “I've just had to finish apologizing to all the people whose feet you stepped on.”

“Shut up,” Kurogane muttered, sitting down beside him and taking a drink. After a moment he seemed to be aware of Fai still watching him and looked up. “What?”

“Nothing,” Fai said, laughing quietly. “I just like looking at you, Kuro-sama.”

“What the hell does that mean?”

“It means I like that you're here,” Fai said. He stared down at his hands for a moment and then nodded to himself.

Fai pressed a hand over Kurogane's and held out his torch.

Kurogane stared from the torch to Fai's face for a long moment.

“Is this all right?” There was sincere concern in his voice.

Fai smiled ruefully for a moment, head lowered, looking thoughtful.

“I went to a wedding once, in Celes,” he said at last. “For a girl I knew. It was a nice wedding. There was dancing, and singing, all kinds of food. I did magic for her and the man she married, and it made them smile and thank me. And the whole time I thought that it was wonderful, and that it was something that I would never, ever have. For the longest time that was the way I felt. That all of it – not just the singing and the dancing and the ceremony, but even the bond between the two of them, the way their hearts were tied – I was certain that it would never be something I would be able to have. That it was something I didn't deserve, so I had no right to even want it.”

He looked up at Kurogane again and there was something burning like a candle flame behind his eyes.

“I won't be that person anymore,” Fai said. “So yes, Kuro-sama. I'm sure.”

Kurogane gazed at him steadily for a moment longer. Then he smiled and reached for the torch.

As his hand closed over the torch the small blue flame started to dance, red sparks rising from deep within its heart. There was a bright flash and a large glowing white sphere like a miniature star rose up into the air and settled itself into the last remaining hole in the ceiling.

The thousand lights suddenly burst into an impossibly bright light and all remaining people in the ballroom stopped what they were doing to look up as the light went from white to red to gold. Suddenly a thousand small holes opened all along the sides of the dome, casting shadows on the floor in the shape of hundreds upon hundreds of birds.

“It's too bad Sakura-chan couldn't be here,” Fai mused as he and Kurogane stared up at the glowing ceiling. “And the other Sakura-chan and Syaoran-kun too. This sort of ceremony should have all the people you love present, right?”

“Tomoyo will be annoyed she missed it,” Kurogane snorted. “She would have insisted on making us outfits.

“Really?” Fai looked back at him with a mischievous spark in his eyes. “The next time we're in Japan we'll have to have a proper ceremony, then. I want to see what kind of weddings your country has.”

“You'll regret it when Tomoyo gets her hands on you,” Kurogane warned him. He paused, considering his next words. “Your country. What did they do, for wedding ceremonies?”

“I don't really know what Valeria did,” Fai said. “But in Celes, the ceremony itself...”

Fai trailed off. He reached out to take Kurogane's hand, entwining their fingers together as he pressed his forehead against Kurogane's. Fai closed his eyes and whispered words under his breath, his fingers painting invisible symbols on Kurogane's palm.

Kurogane felt a not-unpleasant shiver run down his spine and then Fai opened his eyes and leaned back.

“There,” he said, smiling. “That's how the ceremony was, in Celes. So I guess that makes it official, Kuro-sama.”

Kurogane smiled in return and pulled him forward into another kiss as the shadows of hundreds of birds danced around their feet.
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