It was just another summer day at Syaoran’s apartment in Tomoeda. Nothing out of the ordinary, just its sole inhabitant going about his daily business.
...Or at least, it was supposed to.
Instead, it was currently occupied by a very bizarre collection of beings, and that is intended in the nicest way possible. A talking yellow plushie, another talking plushie- but white and egg shaped, a tall, grumpy looking man, and a lanky, cheery man - both of whom were wearing clothes that weren’t in fashion anywhere in known existence… Even you have to admit that this isn’t a normal group.
The four of them were bent over a large, flat, portable teppanyaki, setting it atop a table and trying to figure out where the nearest plug point was.
“Is it really okay to use this without Little Syaoran’s permission Kero?” The egg piped up, and it’s long ears moving up and down with its words.
“O’course Mokona! S’not like the brat utilizes it like he should anyway!” The yellow plush(?) blinked at Mokona with his tiny eyes. “Really, it’s a shame, he ought to cook good stuff with this and yet-” he huffed.
“What are you going to make Fai? Pancakes?” Mokona bounced, ignoring Kero’s rambling, knowing fully well that once he got started, he wouldn’t stop until someone made some mention of food.
“If we have the ingredients. Kuro-tan, could you go check in Little Syaoran’s kitchen?” Fai replied without looking away from behind the couch where he could find no plug points, but was still determined to scour every inch of the wall to find even a miniscule one, no matter that the teppanyaki couldn’t be connected to something that small.
“Hm.” Kurogane muttered and flipped the table he was examining right side up. “Just don’t make them so sweet.” He found his way into the kitchen after bumping his head on the door frame.
“Silly guy, he doesn’t know that tables don’t have plugs!”
“But if they’re not sweet, they’re no good!”
Kero and Mokona both spoke at the same time, their loud words jumbling together.
“SHADDUP!” Kurogane roared back from the kitchen.
“Oh my, Dino-Kuro is back again~” Fai laughed.
“Dino-Kuro?” Kero hovered above Fai’s head. “That’s a new nickname.”
“Yeah, we found these big feathery creatures the local folk called dinosaurs around uh...” Fai’s eyes stared blankly into space for a moment “Twenty three worlds ago?”
“That doesn’t explain anything ya know!”
“Oh, oh! Fai’s talking about that one big dinosaur Syaoran found!” Mokona raised a tiny paw, not unlike an excited child trying to get their teacher to choose them to answer a question.
“Oh? So Syaoran found one did he?”
“Yeah! It was all spiky on the head and had sleek red and black feathers~ If Mokona remembers correctly, Fai named it-”
“Kuro-bou, how I miss my sweet child!” Fai sighed a little too dramatically as he moved to search by the coffee table by the wall. “Oh a plug point!”
“Yeah, Kuro-bou! It was all attached to Kurogane, and wouldn’t leave his side at first!”
“Right! And that’s when you had the gall to suggest that Kurogane was now a mother, Mokona!” Fai waggled an accusing finger at it as he began to unroll the cord of the teppanyaki
“Hehe, did Mokona do such a thing?”
“You did, you did!” Fai discovered that the cord was just short of reaching the plug point and began to slowly push the table towards it. He wasn’t going to pull the cord oh no, he’d learnt the hard way about the consequences of doing that and he had no desire to get another earful from Kero over it.
“I get why the name, so how’s it Fai’s kid now?” Kero had by now, settled next to Mokona on the sofa again and was engrossed in the tale.
“Fai bribed it with some nice grilled meat! After that it followed him everywhere~ ”
“Just like Mary’s lamb~” Fai happily connected the cord to the power supply and surveyed his hard work.
Kero was about to retort that somehow a feathery dinosaur stomping behind three humans and a mokona was just not the same as a small, fluffy lamb frolicking behind a girl in the countryside when Kuro-bou’s namesake walked back into the living room, bumping his head on the doorframe again.
“I didn’t see anything that could be used for pancakes-” he started only to be interrupted by Mokona’s wailing. “LET ME SPEAK!” He snapped, almost throwing one of the bowls in his hands at it.
“Watcha got there?” Kero flew up and peered into them.
“Cabbage.” Kurogane shrugged. “Some more vegetables, meat, sauce...”
“Oh, maybe we could make that then!” Fai ducked below the doorframe and began hunting around the kitchen.
“We could actually make...”
“Okonomiyaki?!” Kero’s and Mokona’s faces lit up so much, Kurogane almost swore that they were sparkling. Instead, he chose to ignore them and set the ingredients he had on the quickly vanishing space on the table.
“Oh lets see-” Fai’s voice was followed by clattering, and the sound of some vessels falling onto the floor “-Aha!” He finally marched out of it, his arms piled high with condiments and other ingredients Kurogane had missed.
“Ya didn’t happen to find any yakisoba did ya? I want mine to be modanyaki!” Kero hovered behind Fai.
“I’m not sure, there might be some in the fridge?” Fai carefully carried his tall, tall, pile of loot to the table.
“Imma go check!”
“Say.. is Little Syaoran really fine with us using his kitchen as we please?”
“It’s fine, it’s fine~ the brat himself told us to make use of his kitchen!” Kero zipped out of the kitchen, a bag with an aluminium wrapped parcel hanging from his tiny arms. “More importantly, I found some yakisoba!”
“Ohh good job Kero!” Fai had set up his makeshift kitchen and was mixing together ingredients while Kurogane moved the furniture and carpet away from the teppanyaki. “It really is a pity that Syaoran kun isn’t here to enjoy it right now.”
“He wanted to go explore the town with his younger self and the small princess, his problem.” Kurogane pushed the sofa Mokona was sitting on towards the wall.
“Ah-ah-ah, Mokona’s going to fall!” it waved about, somehow maintaining its balance. “But wow, Kurogane, you’re being cold! Mokona feels bad for Syaoran!”
“That’s not what I meant!” He contemplated pulling its ears for a moment. “He’s free to do what he wants, heck, he’s probably having fun with the little kid.”
“Aw, Kurogane’s being a good dad~!”
“Kuro-ppi is the best dad ever~” Fai echoed gleefully.
“Oh shut up.” Noticing that the batter was just about done, Kurogane quickly went and fetched some dishes and chopsticks from the kitchen and laid them out on the floor.
“Mokona, could you get those storage boxes out?” Fai quickly started pouring batter on the now sizzling teppanyaki.
“For Watanuki, Sakura, and Tomoyo right~? Okaay~” Mokona spat out three large food storage boxes. “Here they are~”
Fai kept staring intently at the cooking batter, barely nodding in response. In one swift movement, he flipped them over with a loud sizzle. Almost in unison, a loud sound reverberated from Kurogane and Mokona.
“Don’t tell me yer that hungry!” Kero gaped at them.
“Kero isn’t one to talk, you’re almost drooling over the teppanyaki!” Mokona pointed a tiny paw at him.
“Am not!” Kero leaned back and not-so-discreetly wiped his drool away.
“Okay done!” Fai quickly dashed the top with sauce, mayonnaise, and other topping and dropped them into the boxes and sealed them.
“One delivery, and two into storage!” Mokona immediately sucked them back into its mouth.
“I’ll never get used to that...” Kero muttered.
“You’re telling me.” Kurogane muttered back.
“Ooh look, it’s our share!” Mokona squealed as Fai began to scoop more batter out.
“What about my modanyaki?” Kero piped up.
“I’ve already mixed the batter for it. But there wasn’t too much yakisoba, so I’ll make that towards the end, don’t fear~”
“Lookin forward to it! Imma make space just for it!”
“Hehe, Kero’s grinning from ear to ear~”
“Course I would, it’s modanyaki ya know? Mo-dan-ya-ki~!”
“Actually… Mokona’s never had a modanyaki.”
“WHAT?! That needs to be fixed! Very well, I’ll share some with you.”
“Yay~! Kero’s as generous as always!”
“Well ‘course I am!”
“Okay, the first batch is ready, come and get it!” Fai flipped over the last cabbage pancake with a flourish, interrupting the two’s chatter.
“Yay!!” Mokona jumped up into the air and landed back on the table with a small thud.
“Let’s dig i- hey, wait, where are they?!” Kero looked around the teppanyaki desperately.
“They should be right here though- oh you’re right, they’re gone?”
“Yer too loud Mokona!”
“Yeah! You almost made me drop the batter!”
“No, no!” Mokona was almost in tears at this point. “Kurogane ate them all!” It pointed it’s tiny, trembling, paw at the accused.
Fai and Mokona turned to Kurogane, and as sure as it was day outside, they saw a bit of sauce left by his mouth.
“You did take it you-!” Kero nearly swore as Kurogane swallowed the last bits of food in his mouth.
“F-Fai..?” Mokona could hear the well disguised tone of mischief in his voice, and strangely, wanted no part of it this time. “Fai’s on Mokona’s side this time too, right?” Sadly, it somehow knew in its heart that this would not be the case.
“All this time we’ve been travelling together and this is the first time you’ve ever acted like a ninja Kuro-rin!”
“Huh?! I keep telling you, I am a ninja!” Kurogane growled back.
“Yes, yes, but for once, it feels like you’re challenging my pride as a chef!” Fai grinned like a madman and pointed his spoon dramatically across the table. “This sir, is a showdown!”
“O-oi!” Kero began to panic. “What about ours!” but the two humans paid him no heed.
“Hoh? Bring it on!” Kurogane pointed his chopsticks back at Fai and grinned.
“It’s no good, that’s Kurogane’s battle face!” Mokona was flat out sobbing. “Even when he normally fights with Mokona over food, he doesn’t make that face!”
“Wh-wh-what’re we gonna do then?!”
“Kero’s an all powerful guardian right?? Can’t you fight against him??”
“Yer kidding! He’d squash me flat in a moment!”
“....is Kero really strong at all?”
“Of course! But it’s not like I can use my full powers in this room, it’d be burned to a crisp!”
“Besides, how are ya not aware that he’d behave like this!”
“Mokona obviously didn’t know Kurogane would do this BECAUSE HE’S NEVER BEHAVED LIKE THIS BEFORE!! ” Kero had to fold up his ears in response to the loud wailing. He was about to should back that there’s no way that such a thing was possible, who knew how many worlds they’d visited at this point after all when-
“To think you’d have finished off half the batter, you truly are a formidable opponent!”
“Hah! I’m not even close to done! You’re clearly the one who’s slacking here!”
“Wait, this ain’t the time for us to be fighting! We’re not gettin a bite at this rate!”
“You’re right, Kero, what should we do?!”
“We guard the teppanyaki with our lives.”
And so began the vigil of the two. They took up positions on the side that was closest to Fai. They reasoned that since Kurogane was sitting on the opposite side, he’d take longer to reach over to their end and collect the food, giving them time to grab their share. They might have been small of stature, but their passion for food strengthened their focus, and everything around them, from the pouring of the batter to the banter above them, slowed down.
Time for Fai and Kurogane however, moved normally.
“How come this is the first time I’m seeing you eat this fast though?” One scoop, two scoops, and soon the whole teppanyaki was covered in uncooked okonomiyaki.
“The kids were normally around otherwise.” Kurogane shrugged without taking his eyes off a pancake being flipped over.
“Ah I see, I see~ So Kuro-tan just wanted to be a good role model~”
“Hmm.” In one swift motion, the topped off okonomiyaki was gone. Fai almost clicked his tongue at how Kurogane picked now of all times to not rise to his bait.
And so the battle continued on, with Fai pouring out and flipping the batter at light speed, Kurogane almost as quickly gulping everything down, and Kero and Mokona shaking with increased anger and sadness respectively with each lost okonomiyaki. Finally, not a drop was left in the bowl.
As Fai reached out for the modanyaki batter, he suddenly realized with a jolt that the two magical beings hadn’t even had a piece of cabbage since the start. Taking pity on them, he addressed them both.
“I’ll make the modanyaki a big one, so how about we split this one up for you guys?”
“Fai…!” Mokona sounded so touched that it might have bawled.
“That’s acceptable!” Kero clearly was relieved at the suggestion.
“Okay, this is my first time making this, so bear with me!” He quickly poured out the batter and winced as the yakisoba spread out unevenly.
“Donmai, donmai!” The two of them said almost absent mindedly, their eyes wide as they watched it brown.
Relieved by their reassurance, Fai carefully watched it cook to completion, flipping, and topping it almost perfectly.
“Alright, it’s all yours, you two!” He leaned back and set the empty bowl on the floor, smiling as two cheers rose up from beside him. He too, hadn’t been able to eat a bite, but hopefully Little Syaoran had some more ingredients he could make use of, or even better, maybe he’d be back soon with more provisions. “Oops, can’t forget to turn this off!” He fiddled with some of the buttons of the teppanyaki until all the lights on the small display were out.
“Let’s dig in~” Kero and mokona quickly grabbed their shares and began to munch away, savouring every bite they took.
“Oooh dish ish great! You really ar’ a good cook Fai!”
“Fai’s the best!” Mokona cheered after gulping a particularly big piece of chicken down.
“I dunno if he can beat my Sakura though!” Kero’s expression however, became a bit puzzled after a few chews. “The yakisoba was used in this batter right?” He stared down at his plate.
“Yes, you both saw it yourselves didn’t you..?”
“But… Kero has a point… Mokona can’t really find any yakisoba here either...”
Almost as if in unison, the three of them realised that there could only be one other possible culprit.
Sure enough, there he was, munching on the last bit of what clearly was okonomiyaki with fried noodles.
“Kurogane’s evil! Mean! No good!” Mokona yelled, jumping on the table so forcefully that it was shaking.
“I wanted a taste too!” Kurogane fought back.
“That didn’t mean you had to take all the yakisoba!”
Much to Fai’s surprise, the voice he had expected to raise the first objection was silent. He turned to Kero, and the sight of what should have been a harmless, floating stuffed toy made him afraid for some reason.
“Er… Kero-san? Keroberos-san? Keroberos-sama..?” He waved his hand in front of his face, trying to get his attention, but Kero kept staring at the ground.
Choosing to ignore the question, he began to glow brightly. Both the humans scrambled away in a panic as his wings grew larger, and clasped themselves around him. Mokona just watched on, mouth open in awe. The wings then unfurled themselves, to reveal a large, glowing, maneless, winged lion partly covered in decorative armour of sorts embedded with jewels as red as the one on Mokona. Fai and Kurogane stared on, breathless.
They had of course, heard about Kero’s true form from Mokona, Little Syaoran, Little Sakura, and the stuffed toy himself, but this was their first time actually seeing it. Kero’s wings shrank in size a little, and he slowly descended to the floor. Once his paws touched the floor, the glow around him dimmed, and he opened his eyes to reveal beautiful golden irises. He took a deep breath, and opened his mouth. Fai and Kurogane barely caught themselves steeling themselves for whatever wisdom this majestic lion would utter.
“Is that.. Really the stuffed toy?” Kurogane mumbled.
“THAT WAS MA’ MODANYAKI!!!” He let out a shout and pounced at Kurogane.
“Yep, definitely Kero!” Mokona laughed gleefully.
“GIVE MA’ MODANYAKI BACK!!” he continued to screech as he flapped above Kurogane, who was desperately trying to fend him off.
“I ate it already! Leave me alone!”
Much to his surprise, Fai found himself actually in shock. He thought with all that he had seen in his life, and with all the bizarre things he’d experienced in his travels across worlds, he had come to believe that nothing could truly surprise him. Apparently he was wrong. He watched in mild shock as Kero and Kurogane kept fighting childishly, and Mokona egged the former on gleefully. Slowly, he felt the urge to laugh rise up. Despite his best efforts to quell it, it burst forth like a tidal wave. In mere seconds, he was clutching his sides and lying on the floor, tears of laughter streaming down his face.
“Fai? Is Fai okay?” he could feel Mokona’s paws softly patting him, but he was only able to nod in response as his laughter just intensified. It was impossible for him to stop, the two gluttons’ shouting just made him laugh even more whenever he tried to catch his breath. Finally, he became aware of both of them quieting down, and he hastily gulped down air, desperate to stop himself from laughing again.
Slowly, he pulled himself back into a sitting position and wiped his face with his sleeve. When he finally had completely calmed down, he noticed Mokona was staring at the main door, and Kurogane and Kero were frozen as well, staring at it.
“Oh Syaoran kun, Little Sakura! Welcome home~” He waved at them.
“Ah, we’re back Fai-san.” Syaoran seemed distracted? In fact, both of them seemed that way, as they stood tensed, with a few bags of groceries propped by the wall.
“And? Explain yourself Kero-chan!” Sakura stared daggers at the giant lion, looking fairly intimidating with hands on her hips.
“I-it wasn’t ma’ fault! Kurogane here ate all ma’ modanyaki-”
“Is this true, Kurogane-san?” Syaoran watched Kurogane in disbelief. The man in question turned his head to the side, unable to meet the teen’s eyes.
“....yeah” he finally muttered.
“That doesn’t give you the right to throw a fit!” Sakura continued to scold Kero, who was now hanging his head in shame.
“ ‘M sorry...” he mumbled.
“Don’t apologise to me, apologise to Kurogane-san for that fit, you’re lucky that Syaoran kun needed to pick up some other things and isn’t here right now!”
“Kurogane-san? I think you should apologise too...” Syaoran kun kept pointedly watching him.
“Sorry...” the two of them turned to each other and spoke in unison.
It was then that Fai finally looked around the room, and it’s extreme messiness registered. Torn curtains, a flipped over couch with burn marks on it, and was that broken glass in the corner?. It was as though a typhoon had passed through it, and someone had thrown fireballs around at the same time.
“Hey Mokona, don’t tell me...” he whispered.
“Yeah, Kero and Kurogane wrecked the whole place!” it whispered back.
“Alright, just promise me something like this won’t happen again, and we can clean up and we won’t tell Syaoran kun.” Sakura sighed. Somehow she seemed very, very tired, and no longer angry in a matter of few seconds.
“It won’t!” They both shook their heads.
“Okay, let’s get to work then.” Kero and Kurogane immediately began moving furniture back to where they belonged, while Fai and Mokona quietly took the messy dishes back to the kitchen and began to clean them up. They both felt partially responsible for the mess, and somehow they didn’t want to make either youngster angry or upset.
Soon, the furniture was more or less rearranged to its former state, but it was still messy.
“We can’t do anything more, Sakura, it’s all up to you now.”
In very practiced movements, she unsealed her staff and activated a card, her magic circle glowing beneath her feet. In that moment, the four beings not from this world were reminded of another time, another Sakura, but during a time where the stakes were far higher than just fixing damaged objects.
“O card, mend the mess before me, so that everything is to its proper state once again- Repair!”
A figure emerged from the card, and while her skin, hair, and eyes were all pale, she unmistakeably looked like-
“Princess Tomoyo...” Kurogane whispered, his eyes following “Tomoyo” as she flew around the room, leaving everything as pristine as it was before the scuffle. Once her work was done, she reformed into a card and floated into Sakura’s waiting hand.
“We... should put these groceries away.” Syaoran finally broke the silence.
“You’re right Syaoran-san! Syaoran kun should be back soon, so let’s keep everything ready for him.”
As they spoke, Kero glowed, wrapped himself within his wings, and returned to his smaller form. “By the way...” he flew over to the bag that Sakura was picking up. “Do I smell… sweets?!”
Kero picked up on her tone and backed off. “Fine, I won’t eat any...”
All five of them quickly moved about, putting away everything as per Sakura’s directions. They just stuffed the last of the flour into the pantry when the sound of the front opening reached their ears.
“I’m home.” The Syaoran of this world called into the house.
“Welcome back Syaoran kun!” Sakura went up to him and beamed.
“Did you all eat?” he looked around the room.
“Oh no, not at all, we just had that yakisoba in the fridge.” Fai lied smoothly.
“But that wasn’t a lot. I have some wagashi here since I know Kurogane-san doesn’t like sweets too much, would you like to eat it while Sakura and I make lunch?”
“Of-” Kero almost spoke, but almost immediately, he spotted Sakura glaring at him from behind the kid, and his voice died away.
“Of course! Are you sure you both don’t need help in the kitchen?”
“It’s okay Fai-san, we already planned what to make while we were at the grocery store.” Sakura spoke up. “Please leave it to us this time.”
“Hmm~ Okay, we’ll have the tea and wagashi while we wait then.” No sooner had he spoken, than his stomach rumbled sadly.
“I’ll get the tea then.”
“Ah let me help you.” Syaoran followed Sakura and his younger self into the kitchen while the others settled around the table.
As the chatter from the kitchen dimly reached his ears, Kurogane quietly made a mental note to have Mokona pack his share for Tomoyo. Somehow, he felt like it would be unfair for him to eat while the other guilty party was forced not to. He quietly looked around the room, ignoring everyone else’s growling stomachs, and with his thoughts turning to his princess, felt a sense of quiet relief that she wasn’t around to witness the shameful display he had shown.
Perhaps he would tell her about this day sometime, and he knew she would chide him while holding back her laughter at the image forming in her mind, but for now, he was just comfortable marvelling in how these ridiculous, unpredictable days had become a daily occurrence for him.