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In Any Other World, Tsubasa Side
By Memory Dragon
Warnings: Lots of action in this chapter. And be prepared for a fun cliff hanger.
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.

Tsubasa Side: Prologue Chapter 1
xxxHolic Side: Prologue Chapter 1

Chapter Two: The Wyvern's Eye

“Wake up, Fai!” Mokona cried from Syaoran’s shoulder. But Fai only snarled in response, blood lust driving away his sanity and leaving only the need to survive.

Before Syaoran could follow Kurogane’s instructions, Fai had already moved in on the ninja. His canine teeth were completely extended and he was headed right to the ninja’s neck, which Kurogane had been holding bare.

A split second before Fai reached him, the ninja dropped to the ground, his leg swinging in a circle under Fai’s feet. But the vampire jumped back before he could be tripped, eyeing his prey wearily. “Oi,” Kurogane called out, sparing a quick glace to where the three women stood. “Your sword.”

“These swords won’t let anyone but us use them!” Umi snapped as Kurogane was forced to dodge another blow. He retreated a few paces back.

“Just hold it out!” he yelled back, trying to regain his balance after Fai had knocked him aside. Syaoran watched helplessly, unable to figure out Kurogane’s plan. The ninja side stepped another of Fai’s lunges, barely avoiding the vampire’s long and piecing nails.

Umi steadfastly refused, anger flowing around her like water rushing past a rock. But Hikaru drew the sword at her side with amazing ease. She held the large, ornate blade in front of her in a fighting stance.

Kurogane kept dodging and retreating towards Hikaru’s blade, sweat pouring down his face and soaking into his dark clothes. Thankfully, Fai was all instinct by this point and could be out-thought. Syaoran didn’t want to think what would happen if Fai betrayed them willingly.

Hikaru stepped forward, meeting the two fighters locked in battle with her blade thrust into Kurogane’s range. With a strike that would have rivaled one of Syaoran’s own, the ninja kicked Fai back a few feet. Fai howled, more enraged than in pain, but it bought Kurogane enough time to carefully, but quickly, slit his wrist open on Hikaru’s waiting sword.

Fai paused, growling softly. He could smell the fresh blood dripping from the ninja’s wrist. Some of the real Fai started showing in the mage’s single eye as just the sight of Kurogane’s blood calmed him.

Kurogane didn’t waste the moment. He crossed the distance between himself and the vampire and put his bleeding wrist up to Fai’s mouth.

There were a few gasps among the crowd. Syaoran watched carefully in case Fai should drink too much, but Kurogane’s blood had a calming affect on Fai’s chaotic state. He doubted Fai would take more than absolutely necessary now.

Fuu came up beside him, watching the exchange expressionlessly. “Has this happened before?” she asked quietly, careful not to disturb the two of them.

Syaoran started to shake his head, but remembered he could actually voice his thoughts now. “No, it hasn’t,” he answered politely, never taking his eyes off Fai and Kurogane in case something went wrong. “But then, Fai’s condition is new to us, and this is the first time we’ve been separated for this long.”

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the quiet girl nod for him to continue. Syaoran wasn’t sure he wanted to give out much information about Fai, especially since it was a topic he didn’t know where he stood. But Fuu was obviously expecting more of an explanation and she had the right to know what their people would be housing. “Fai was gravely wounded-” by his ‘other.’ He continued on, hurriedly. “Protecting the princess. Because of that, she pardoned his curse and gave him sanctuary.”

If the blond amazon noticed his hesitation, she didn’t show it. Umi stood wearily to the left, her hand on the rapier’s hilt. “The danger is contained then?” She asked harshly. Hikaru joined her, sheathing the sword she had just cleaned.

Fai was pulling back from Kurogane after healing the ninja’s wrist. Sanity, guilt and a hint of pain mixed together in his sole eye. It slowly changed from gold to its normal blue. Syaoran let out the breath he hadn’t known he had been holding and turned his full attention to the amazon women.

But it was Sakura that answered the question. Syaoran hadn’t even noticed when she had come down to watch the fight. “The danger is over. I am sorry for the disturbance this has caused.”

Hikaru smiled wearily at Sakura as one of the female guards came up to speak to her. After a few moments of briefing, she turned back to the group. “No one was hurt, really. The bite marks are already healing and the blood just looked worse than it actually was.”

Umi glared at the two approaching males who were talking quietly to each other. Syaoran did think she looked a little relieved at the news though. Kurogane, on the other hand, looked away disdainfully. Under the facade of arrogance, Syaoran saw a small amount of pain. Whatever they had been talking about, Kurogane seemed to have lost the argument.

Fai bowed deeply to the three women and took the princess’ hand. He kneeled before her, kissing her hand as Kurogane stood behind him grumpily. “Forgive me, my princess. My absence was inexcusable and my return was... hardly worthy of you. The heat has taken more than its fair toll on me.”

The new Sakura was cold and determined. But Syaoran had long practice of watching the princess and he could see something akin to pity and caring in her eyes. Watching had, after all, been the only thing he could do for so many years... Sakura nodded to the mage, motioning him to stand.

Now he turned to face the three women again and smiled politely. Any trace of emotion had completely left Fai’s body, covered by the polite mask. “I am dreadfully sorry for the disturbance my... ‘condition’ has caused. If there is anything I can do to atone, please let me know.”

“Nothing was badly damaged and no one was really hurt,” Hikaru interjected quickly. No one but himself and Sakura saw the minute changes in Fai’s body as he relaxed after hearing that news. Syaoran hadn’t realized how tense the mage had been up to that point.

“But you have caused the women of this country great distress.” Sakura took command of the situation easily, showing her royal nature. It was something so foreign to the old Sakura. The new Sakura took full advantage of the distance her station gave her. “For that, you will help ‘Syaoran’ and Kurogane destroy the monster that rages across these lands.”

“Yes, my lady,” Fai bowed to her again, looking properly chastised. Syaoran was struck by hearing his own name without the honorific. Did she... No. It was part of her persona as their liege lord, he realized. She had left off Kurogane’s honorific as well.

“Then let us adjourn to the guest houses to tell you what we know of the monster,” Fuu said, gesturing back the way they had come.

* * *

Syaoran felt very awkward. It wasn’t so much that he was the current member of their party to be the monster bait for the plan they had worked out. He didn’t mind that all too much. What he did mind was Fuu’s overly literal reasoning. When Umi had sarcastically mentioned they should stick a sign around his neck saying “Free Food!” Fuu had thought she meant that literally. Syaoran was never the sort to complain overly much. Umi’s evil glace his way only sent him into further gloom.

So here he was, in the middle of a grassy clearing surrounded by the large trees of the jungle. He was sweating profusely, thanks to there being no shade and had a big sign that said “Free Food!” wrapped around his neck. Umi had been particularly delighted to put it on him...

He wiped some of the sweat out of his eyes as he scanned the sky for the giant lizard. From Hikaru’s description of the beast, it sounded like one of the mythical creatures back home. A western dragon, as his father would have described it. Instead of breathing fire, however, it was master of the wind.

Speaking of wind, it was something that would be awfully nice to have around right now. Or some shade. But he had to be out where the monster would be able to see him when it returned to the village to hunt. While he wasn’t prone to complaining, he also wasn’t used to this kind of sweltering heat either. The desert had been a dry heat and he had vague memories of a blistering sort of summer with his parents, but after so many years locked away, sealed by Fei Wong Reed his body no longer had a tolerance for this kind of heat.

He sat silently, shifting uncomfortably as he knew Kurogane was watching form the trees near by. Fai was off a fair distance, in the caves they had picked out to spring the trap. It had only really been ten minutes since he had replaced Kurogane, taking his second shift as bait. The heat was nearly unbearable already, however. There was still no sign of the monster.

He scanned the sky again, but didn’t see the Wyvern until it was nearly on top of him. Syaoran rolled to the left, barely missing the lizards tail as it struck the ground he had been sitting on. It sent dirt and rocks flying at either side, and he had to shield himself from the ricochet.

Seeing the monster up close, Syaoran was once again reminded of the dragon. It’s grey scales were rock solid, according to Fuu. No normal weapon could harm it... Not even the weapons made from a special ore known only to this country that the three amazons carried. He estimated its long, lithe body was about 50 meters in all. The wind from it’s wings beat him back, but Syaoran didn’t shield himself. Those eyes...

Syaoran froze, fixated by the dragon’s eyes. They weren't just one color, but every color he could imagine plus a few that he hadn’t even dreamed of. The colors swirled together, like a whirlwind, gleaming brightly as they faded in and out of existence. The worst of it was hearing the monster’s mind through those colors, screaming at him to sit there and die, like good prey.

It brought up a finely sharpened claw in order to strike Syaoran down right where he stood. He couldn’t move, no matter how much he willed his body. The colors wouldn’t let him... didn’t want him to... He didn’t want to...

Kurogane was suddenly in front of him, Souhi drawn and countering the Wyvern’s large claws. “Oi, kid! Run!” He yelled, after being pushed down to one knee under the crushing weight of the dragon’s attack.

Syaoran felt released from the Wyvern’s mind, but he was too weak too move. Slowly, he fell to his own knees, hands catching him before he fell to the ground completely. His breathing became the only thing he could hear, each breath falling heavily from his lips. Someone was yelling, but he couldn’t make it out over the noise of his own body and a voiceless scream. He looked up again, the ever watchful eye glaring down at him, searching his soul this time instead of drawing him into the monster.

No, he wasn’t fixated. That eye was binding. Syaoran could no more move from that spot than he could when he was held captive by Fei Wong Reed. He could feel the seal again, invisibly blazing up on his skin. Once again, helpless to fight back, barely able to keep conscious...

Kurogane sprinted to the side and the wyvern put off balance by the sudden lack of resistance. As the dragon’s bulk tipped forward, the ninja grabbed Syaoran by the waste and hoisted him over his shoulder. Kurogane took off towards the caverns at a break neck pace, swiftly navigating the dense foliage of the jungle floor like it didn’t even exist to begin with.

Syaoran felt his breath come back in a rush. Had he been holding it? His body which had been so tense before relaxed, taking comfort in the strength of Kurogane’s shoulders. What had that thing done to him?

Kurogane came to a sudden halt as the wyvern’s tail came crashing down through the tree tops, scoring the ground in front of them. Syaoran had to hold on to the ninja’s shoulder to keep from being launched into the tail. It made him realize just how tense Kurogane’s muscles were. He felt guilty for being a dead weight and worrying the ninja like he had.

Kurogane was back on course in an instant, heading straight for the caverns again. He had one hand on Syaoran’s back to keep the kid from falling off, a gesture Syaoran couldn’t help but take comfort from. The ninja’s words from earlier came back clearly. ‘Don’t apologize for something that’s not your fault.

The wyvern’s tail came down with crushing force several more times, bringing Syaoran’s attention back to the battlefield. The dragon’s accuracy was deadly, but Kurogane dodged aside at the last second each time with non-pulsed grace. They kept on like this for about fifteen minutes before they finally reached the caverns. The ninja darted into the darkness as the wyvern shrieked in rage. Syaoran could feel the monster’s echo in his mind, even after the monster fell silent.

He felt himself being picked up again, this time to be put back on the ground and steadied. “Thank you,” he said, catching the apology before he could utter it. The ninja grunted in reply, already watching the cave’s entrance. This wasn’t over yet.

It waited outside, not chasing them into the caverns. If it left from boredom, their plan would be a complete failure. Syaoran stepped out of the shadows, drawing the borrowed broad sword from his waist. It was well made, though didn’t feel quite as right in his hands as his father’s sword did.

He raised the blade in a fighting stance that was very foreign to his ‘other’s’ style and challenged the beast silently. He made sure to not look in the creature’s eyes this time. Instead, Syaoran kept his gaze on the tightly knit scales on the dragon’s neck.

It struck at him with its head and kept baring down on the sword which he had brought up to block. The wyvern’s tail aimed to strike while Syaoran was occupied, but Kurogane moved in and swiftly intercepted its path. The monster pulled back, clenching Syaoran’s blade in its teeth. The next thing he knew was a pain in his back as he steadied himself against the wall he had been thrown against.

Getting to his feet again, Syaoran retreated a few steps. He winced as his shoulders screamed in pain, but said nothing. Kurogane fell back to his side, only sparing a quick glance to make sure the boy wasn’t too badly hurt. The wyvern launched forward into the caverns, chasing them into the darkness.

The light dimmed, most of the dragon’s bulk blocking it. Syaoran pulled from the learning of his ‘other,’ closing his eyes and feeling the monster’s movements. The beast struck and he blocked it with ease.

Syaoran became lost in the fight, his body moving on its own accord to keep him alive. Even the pain from injuries he received faded in the heat of battle. He and Kurogane kept retreating further into the cave, slowly positioning the monster so that it was completely in the caverns. After what felt like an eternity, he heard a soft whistle that manage to sound over the monster’s shrieks.

The monster’s claw came down on his position. Instead of blocking, however, Syaoran rolled to the side and continued to run past the wyvern’s flank. He could sense the ninja doing the same. The dragon let out another piercing scream that rang through his skull as it tried to turn around and fight its prey. But its large bulk kept it immobile and was suddenly much slower than the two runners. The dragon’s tail still lashed out at them as they ran by, but they both dodged it easily.

Kurogane gave the all clear whistle as both of them continued running towards the light. Behind them, the landslide started. This time, Syaoran didn’t hear the dragon’s screams with his ears. But the echo was still there, the terrible shriek. His hands flew up to his ears as he kept running, trying to shield them from the non-existent sound.

Fai raced out from his hiding place in the caverns, only a few steps behind them. Once they were out of the caving in caverns, the three of them stopped, breathing heavily under the green tree tops.

“Is it dead?” Kurogane asked, eying the rubble suspiciously. The ninja’s breathing was still rough, but calming. Syaoran found that his own lungs were protesting painfully with every breath he took. What worried him was Fai, however. Even though he had done the least work out of all of them, the mage was the last of the three to catch his breath in the heavy heat.

“I’m... fine,” Fai said, brushing away the concerned glace Syaoran gave him. The boy sighed, unable to help if the mage wouldn’t let him. Kurogane’s gaze transferred to Fai, but met with the same refusal. Again, whatever pain the ninja felt was left under a mask of cold arrogance. The three of them never felt farther apart, even though he was right next to his two traveling companions.

Finally the mage righted himself and gazed calmly at the rubble. “I can’t tell if it’s still alive. We’ve got it trapped at least. And since it’s a wind monster, it should be very weak under those stones.”

Syaoran felt an uneasiness when ever he looked towards the cavern, unable to relax completely. Fuu had agreed that this was probably the best chance they had to kill the monster when she had heard their plan. But still, something wasn’t right.

He heard the scream in his mind before he saw the rocks move. This time it was so loud in his head that Syaoran crumpled to the ground, dropping his sword. He knew suddenly, though he couldn’t say quite how, that the earth was far from weak point. Wind had only been the wyvern’s secondary strength.

“Oi!” A pair of hands gripped his shoulders, shaking him gently, but the screaming didn’t stop. “Kid, what’s wrong?” Even Fai was alarmed, forgetting his isolationism. The mage was just about to walk over when Syaoran felt movement from under the earth.

He barely had time to push Kurogane away before he felt a sharp pain in his left shoulder and blacked out. The screams in his mind followed into his dreams...

-To xxxHolic side

Quote of the Chapter:

"The defects and faults in the mind are like wounds in the body. After all imaginable care has been taken to heal them up, still there will be a scar left behind."
-Francois de La Rochefoucauld