THIS IS IT. THIS IS THE CORE OF EVERYTHING I’VE BEEN PINNING ON FAI FOR WHO KNOWS HOW LONG AND IT’S FINALLY REAL AND TRUE AND HERE.
KUROGANE IS GOING FOR THE THROAT.
I love Fai’s shadow stretching so high behind him because the implication here is that he’s the shadow. The smiling Fai is the person he puts on display for the world so he can hide behind it in the collected darkness, a shade that no-one ever looks at, and this is Kurogane making all of my dreams come true and finally turning the mirror back in on itself.
AND THEN HE USES THE KIDS AS EVIDENCE, IN THE SAME WAY THAT FAI HIMSELF NOTED TO HIS DISMAY BACK IN OUTO. HE CARES FOR THIS FAMILY MORE THAN HE EVER PLANNED TO, MORE THAN HE EVER WANTED TO, And Kurogane saying this to him is the ultimate sign that Fai has failed his goal in every single way, because it means he knows it too, and that he knows it all.
AND NOW MY WHOLE HEART IS SCREAMING BECAUSE FAI SEIZES KUROGANE’S ACCUSATION AND TURNS IT INTO AN EXCUSE.
He says “I said it, didn’t I? I wasn’t going to die.” That was in Koryo, too. Fai’s pretending that the magic was purely in self-interest – which, on the first level, is the sign that he’s lost the battle on the “I don’t use magic” front, but making a decent attempt at the “I don’t actually care for anyone” claim.
But Kurogane JUST
SLAMS THE TRUTH DOWN.
HE THROWS IN THE FINAL ACCUSATION. FAI CARES.
AND HE DOES. THERE EVIDENCE IS EVERYWHERE AND THERE’S NO WAY TO PRETEND IT’S ANYTHING ELSE. He could have resisted the urge to use magic. He could have just let them all be captured and see what happened. But Kurogane points out exactly why he didn’t; because they might not all have survived.
It’s not even about them as a collective unit. They might have gotten out of it eventually but what if Sakura died in the process. What if Syaoran died in the process. Or Kurogane.
Fai was at the point where he was no longer willing to risk any of those outcomes, not even a little bit. So without any prodding from anyone at all HE HIMSELF CHOSE TO USE HIS MAGIC AS AN ACCEPTABLE PRICE FOR ALL OF THEIR CONTINUED SAFETY.
IRREVOCABLY: HE LOVES THEM.
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE ON THE TABLE AND IT’S CRUSHED HIS ENTIRE PERSONA AND TORN IT TO PIECES.
AND THEN FAI SPEAKS, BUT HESITANTLY.
WHICH IS A FIRST.
IT’S ACTUAL HONESTY DROPPING FROM HIS TONGUE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A LONG TIME, SO UNFAMILIAR TO HIM NOW THAT HE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO DO IT.
AND THERE IT IS.
It was like pulling teeth to get it out of him but HE DID IT.
KUROGANE GOT THE TRUTH OF FAI’S PERSONALITY OUT OF HIM.
This is honestly one of my favourite things to ever happen in this entire manga.