The mage is acting suspicious which, by itself, is nothing new. But somehow he roped the kids and the meatbun into his schemes too.
Fai flits around and mocks Kurogane as usual, with that fake smile plastered on his face. Syaoran vehemently goes out of his way to avoid the ninja whenever they are in the same room; he is positive the teen is going to get whiplash. Mokona just giggles maliciously with an annoying sparkle in its eyes. And Sakura, bless her heart, blushes and stammers so much in his presence, Kurogane keeps an eye out on her health.
Their behavior escalates more and more toward the end of the week. Once Sunday morning rolls around, Kurogane is hurriedly shoved out the door by an enthusiastic Fai and a cavorting Mokona while Sakura and Syaoran look on with worry in the background. The dark-haired man barely has time to slip on his shoes and jacket as he avoids tripping down the stairs of the large Piffle camper.
"Now make sure you get everything on the list, Kuro-tan!" Fai sends the ninja off with a wild wave of his arms before slamming the door behind him.
Kurogane blankly stares at the locked door before scoffing and grabbing the folded paper the meatbun threw at him previously. He unfolds it only to find many, many items scribbled across the lined sheet. Some are written in Syaoran's precise handwriting, others bear Sakura's delicate prose. Mokona just left pawprints. Then there is Fai's garbled nonsense; what the hell is svinekoteletter?!
The ninja crumples the paper in an angry huff and shoves it his pocket. Regardless, he stomps to the four-wheeled machine. At least he is getting some peace and quiet.
It is mid-evening when Kurogane returns. He would have been back earlier but most of the listed items were either illegible or completely made-up; he blames a certain mage. It was the grace of Tomoyo, who mysteriously manifested at the ninja's side, who saved him before he could straggle the poor shopkeeper.
After leaving the food market, the heiress adamantly insisted on accompanying him during the rest of his errands. Kurogane was going to refuse at first but Tomoyo gave him a smile, similar to one the Nihon princess always had whenever he did something bad.
The ninja relented but refused to allow her to carry any bags; he had no problem handing some off to the girl's multitude of bodyguards. They stopped for a quick lunch with Tomoyo chattering about random tidbits about Piffle and Kurogane responding with an occasional grunt.
"How is everyone?" she asks, hiding a mischievous smile behind her glass.
Kurogane scoffs and takes a large bite of his sandwich. "Annoying," he grumbles. "Couldn't kick me out fast enough."
Tomoyo giggles. "I am sure they had a good reason, Kurogane-san."
"Not likely, especially with the idiot mage around."
"You must really love them."
"Who said anything about love?!" seethes the ninja.
"Why, from the way you act around them. You may come off as surly but I see different. You care, Kurogane-san, even if you do not wish to admit it."
Kurogane lets out a slow breath and glances away. His cheeks and the tips of his ears are a not-so-subtle pink.
Tomoyo notices and remains quiet. A fond and knowing expression spreads across her face.
Once lunch was over, the heiress escorted him back to his car, bidding farewell and wishing him good luck, but not for the race finale.
"You shall see," Tomoyo waves off with a smile.
As he trudges past their completed Dragonflies, while hauling ten full shopping bags on each arm because he refuses to make a second trip, Kurogane notices the camper is dark and silent. He cannot hear the princess' whimsical humming, the kid's intense recitation of a history tome, the meatbun's god-awful singing, or the mage's annoying laughter. A bubble of panic catches in his throat.
Kurogane drops the bags, not caring if the items were ruined, and whips around for a weapon; he regrets not bringing Souhi along but Piffle has strict weapon laws and a sword will stand out. He finds a discarded pipe, brandishes it, and rushes to the door. All of his honed instincts are screaming at him to act stealthily but the only thing on his mind in this moment is if his
family companions are alright.
With fire in his eyes, the ninja kicks down the door and dashes inside. The interior is pitch-black until it is suddenly flooded with light.
Kurogane recoils and blinks away the spots to find the mage, the kids, and the meatbun standing in the middle of the kitchen. There are party hats on their heads and colorful streamers tacked to the walls. Fai and Mokona are setting off party poppers, Sakura is holding a decorative cake, and Syaoran adjusting four wrapped and sparkly boxes on the table.
(Visions of bodies and blood vanish as quickly as they came.)
"Wh-What?" The pipe slips from the ninja's lax grip.
"Kuro-puu is dumbstruck~" cheers Mokona.
Sakura steps forward, daintily holding out the cake out to him. It is covered in milk chocolate frosting and a mix of white and red dollops of icing. Smack dab in the middle is a cartoon dog crafted in black icing. The ninja recognizes Fai's handiwork with the candy canine.
"Do you like it?" Sakura shyly asks. "Fai-san and I both made it."
"Mokona and Syaoran wrapped the presents!" Mokona cries, jumping up on the boy's head. A small cloud of glitter rains down from brown hair and white fur.
Fai sets off another popper over Kurogane's head.
"What the hell is going on?" Kurogane shouts over the clamor. He aggressively shakes the confetti from his hair, taking a swipe at the mage.
The blond dances away from the incensed man. "It's Father's Day of course!" he explains.
Kurogane crosses his arms, pining the other man with a seething glare. "Haa?"
Syaoran, bless him, elaborates, "It's a day honoring fatherhood and parental bonds, as well as the influence of fathers in society. In some countries--"
"Okay, okay I get it," the ninja cuts the teen off before he spirals into a history lesson. Sounds like the kid memorized it from somewhere.
"Tomoyo-chan mentioned it yesterday when she came over," nods Sakura, "and it sounded incredible! So, I thought...we could celebrate it...with you," she finishes with a sweet, heartfelt smile.
Whatever tension Kurogane has melts away at how earnest the princess is. He scratches his head, trying to appear aloof. "Y'know I ain't your father, right?"
Syaoran and Sakura look down with matching blushes. Mokona hops off Syaoran, settling on the table and looking at the four in happiness.
Fai chuckles and pats the teens' heads. "Fathers don't have to be blood-relations. They can come from anywhere and be anyone."
(Kurogane swears the mage sounded sad as he said that.)
"Kuro-daddy protects them and teaches them," he continues, "like a true father. They just want to show their appreciation and love."
The teens' blushes deepen as they quickly nod. "W-We want to thank you for all you've done, Kurogane-san," Syaoran starts.
"So thank you so very much!" finishes Sakura. Fai snatches the cake from the brunette, placing it next to the presents, so she can wrap the ninja in a tight hug.
Syaoran follows suit, half draped over the princess and his mentor. Mokona takes initiative and snuggles Kurogane's head, cooing happily.
Kurogane stiffens slightly, unsure and not used to the loving affection.
(He cannot remember the last time someone embraced him like this.)
The ninja was not supposed to get attached to his traveling companions. He was only along for the ride in order to get back home. He was not supposed to care but the kid's determination, the princess' gentleness, the mage's proficiency, even the meatbun's energy chipped away at his hard heart piece by piece.
Maybe...just this once.
Kurogane slowly returns the gesture, wrapping an arm around the teens and reaching up to pat Mokona with his free hand. His red-eyed gaze moves to the smiling mage still separated from the group.
"How come you're not getting smothered?" he argues with a little less bite than normal.
"That's because I'm the mommy," teases Fai. "There's a holiday for mothers too but it passed."
"Tch, who cares. Didn't you say fathers can be anyone? So...come on." He fights back a growing blush.
The mage blinks. "But--"
"Either you get your ass over here or I'll drag you over!"
"Come on, Fai-Fai! Kuro-daddy is super-duper soft~" chirps Mokona.
"WHAT'D YOU SAY, MEATBUN?!"
Sakura and Syaoran, the little traitors, just laugh.
Fai continues to stare at the giddy children and the angry ninja. His closes his eyes and huffs a chuckle, shaking his head.
"Alrighty! Here I come~"
Fai vaults over the kitchen island and tackles everyone. They all fall to the floor in a flailing heap with a scowling (and secretly happy) Kurogane under them.
"Happy Father's Day, Kuro-daddy," the mage whispers low enough for the ninja's ears only.
And, for a split second, Kurogane swears Fai's smile is real.