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In Any Other World~Tsubasa Side
By Memory Dragon
Summary: Syaoran and the others enter a country only to disrupt the balance and wake a terrible monster. Can they work with the Amazons to save everyone, or will their own fragile bonds tear them apart? Set between Acid Tokyo and Infinity Arcs.
Warnings: Um, lots of angst. And action. And cliff hangers. Not for the faint of heart, I guess. There is some cross over with xxxHolic, but nothing more than you would see in a regular arc from the manga.
Disclaimer: I do not own Tsubasa or xxxHolic, nor do I make any claim to. Nor can I claim the lyrics from the song "Any Other World" by Mika. Just borrowing it, since it goes so well with the fic.
Author's Thanks: Much love to Neko, who stepped up and betaed when I couldn't find anyone else!
Notes: *Important to read* This is the first of two fics written side by side of each other. You don't need to read both stories to enjoy this one, but if you do want to read the xxxHolic story as well, please read one chapter of this fic then the corresponding chapter of the xxxHolic fic. Kind of an annoying way to read, I know, but that's how they were meant to be read.

 

~Another side~

In any other world,
You could tell the difference.
And let it all unfurl
Into broken remnants

Syaoran surveyed the lush jungle that surrounded them. Humidity was of one of the first things he noticed as he moved away from Sakura. The second was how big and green everything was... He helped the princess to her feet before wiping away some of the already forming sweat on his brow.

"It's certainly hot here," Fai said with a cold smile. He was taking the sudden heat and humidity the worst, though he hid most of his discomfort. His single blue eye glanced around and Syaoran looked away as it settled on the princess.

He couldn't help but feel that the mage's lost eye was his fault. Syaoran always felt a little wary towards the mage as well; as his instincts told him how long the man had been lying. Sakura trusted him, despite all that, but he still couldn't meet Fai eye to eye.

"The air is so heavy." Sakura touched one of the nearby leaves. It was much larger than her hand; one of many like it on this low hanging tree. It wasn’t long before she was shedding any unnecessary articles of clothing, though she did hesitate near her boots. The princess left the brace on her leg.

The others followed suit. Syaoran was very glad to be rid of the jacket and formal attire of the last world. He hadn't been in heat like this since, since he had his time turned back and he was imprisoned. It had been so cold and dark there, being able to feel nothing but a chilled ache in his bones. Though the heat here was almost unbearable, he was glad of it.

Kurogane also had no qualms shedding the tie and jacket. In normal times, the ninja would have probably complained about having to wear them, but now... Now everyone was too tense, too dark. The sense of companionship that had grown between all of them was too fragile to push.

Even though Mokona was covered from head to toe in fur, it was the only one in their group completely unaffected by the heat. Instead, it bounced over to some of the foliage and let out a happy exclamation. "Wow! The plants are so big here!"

"You're right, Mokona. I don't think even 'Kurogane' could wrap his arms around this tree." Syaoran flinched at the way Fai said the ninja's name. Kurogane simply looked away, used to this treatment. At one point in time, he would have yelled or taken notice of his full name. Syaoran almost wished Kurogane had, because his own presence among the travelers wouldn't have felt so painful.

The princess ignored the tension in the air and walked closer to Mokona. "Do you sense one of my feathers here, Moko-chan?"

Mokona grew serious as it concentrated, trying to capture the elusive energy given off by the feathers. In the end, it shook its head sadly. "I know there's something with lots of magic power up ahead. I can't tell if it's a feather though."

The white pork bun hopped into Syaoran's arms. He hugged the magical creature gently. It had been the first of the group to acknowledge him and he wanted to give it what comfort he could. He found himself hesitating before speaking, still not entirely part of the group. Syaoran forced the words out of his mouth, remember he had a voice again. "That's alright, Mokona. We'll just go check it out."

The words sounded strange to even his ears. Like something the other Syaoran would have said. They weren't hollow sounding, but it had been so long that he couldn't tell where that Syaoran ended and the real him started anymore.

"Some things don't change, at least," Kurogane grumbled as he rested Souhi's black scabbard on his broad shoulders. His voice cut through Syaoran's thoughts as well as Souhi could cut cleanly through it's enemies. It was an attempt at normalcy, perhaps to make up for the chance passed over earlier.

Fai moved gracefully over to Sakura's side. He took her hand and raised ti to his lips. "We shall find it, if the feather is here," he said after gently kissing her hand. Sakura simply nodded, staying cold even in the horrible heat. She started walking in the direction Mokona had motioned to earlier.

So much had changed...

Kurogane took the lead, clearing a path for the others with Souhi's blade. Syaoran followed after, clearing away any foliage that the ninja cut out of the path for the princess to walk easier. Sakura held Mokona in her arms as she walked, never meeting Syaoran's eyes when he looked back to check on her or held an extra branch out of her way. Fai pulled up the rear, much worse for the wear because of the extreme heat.

After two hours of walking, Kurogane paused in front of Syaoran for a brief moment. He continued moving before Syaoran could ask what the matter was. Besides, it was only a few seconds before he felt it too.

Syaoran moved within whispering distance of the ninja. “Do you feel that?” he asked softly , trying not to alert the threat or the princess.

Kurogane tilted his head in a small affirmative. “We’re being watched.

“What should we-”

“Wait!” Sakura called out. “Stop for a moment! Fai-san is gone!”

For a split second, Syaoran was almost relieved. He saw the worry on Kurogane’s face and immediately felt guilty about it, however. Whether it was sparked by jealousy or suspicion, it was still wrong to doubt someone who had been his... Well, the other Syaoran’s friend. So that first feather they found...

“Fai! Fai!! Where are you?!” Mokona cried out fearfully from Sakura’s arms. It knew better than anyone how close the bonds were to breaking apart, and Mokona clung to its hope. It hopped off in a random direction, still calling out Fai’s name.

“Mokona, wait!” Syaoran chased after the ball of fluff without thinking about if the others would follow. He ran after the surprisingly quick Mokona for several minutes before it finally came to a stop and started crying. With the heat and humidity as high as they were, he had to wait a moment before speaking, catching his breath as he leaned against one of the giant tree. “Mokona...”

“Mokona doesn’t want Fai to be left alone. Fai doesn’t believe he should be loved and wanted to die... But Mokona doesn’t think so. Mokona wants to like Fai...”

Syaoran kneeled down and hugged Mokona, this time more tightly. It had summed up the problem better than it knew. Fai, at least, had been there since the beginning of the journey. What right did he, the real Syaoran but not their Syaoran, have to fit in?

“Oi.” Syaoran looked up to find a very annoyed Kurogane with the princess riding piggy back style. “We’re completely off our original track." Syaoran looked up, surprised. Indeed, he didn’t think he would be able to find their way back either. Now that they couldn’t back track to find the missing mage, how would they find Fai?

The princess got down from Kurogane’s back and started to walk towards Syaoran. “We need to-” was as far as she got before the trap was sprung.

A large net that had been under their feet leaped up to the trees, grouping them in a most uncomfortable tight cluster hanging several meters above the ground. At least now he knew how fish felt.

Kurogane swore as Sakura’s foot kicked his ear on accident. “Who’s damn idea was this?!” he yelled after a few more explicatives. Syaoran’s eyes simply stared at the incoming natives with spears pointed their way with a sinking feeling in his stomach.

~TBC~

-To xxxHolic Side

Quote of the Chapter:

"We are imperfect reflections of the universe around us. We can not change the past, we can only learn from it, try to create a future in which such errors do not recur. Sadly, we still working on that last part."
-G'kar, Babylon 5