title: nerves
fandom: Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle
characters/pairings: Syaoran, Fujikata, Yukito, Touya, Sakura
rating: G
warnings: blushing
summary: Syaoran can't control his reaction...
notes: for researchotaku, for this request on fic on demand.

He watched raptly as his father gently and lovingly uncovered the artifact. They'd been excavating this site for weeks, and finally they'd found something, although Syaoran was still unsure as to what it was. Seeing the beginning of the form, though, knowing that something was there, it made Syaoran feel impatient! He wanted to just furiously free whatever it was from the dirt! He admired his father's patience, but the waiting was driving him nuts!

Still, he kept his body still, forcing himself to breathe slowly, carefully, as if one large exhalation would cause the artifact to disintegrate. His father's precise fingers cleared the dirt away from the artifact layer by layer, its shape blooming fascinatingly before his eyes. It looked like a pair of wings, and it was made of gold, it seemed, though it took more than an hour before it was clear that it was a headdress, and another hour after that before they could lift it from the ground. He was able to be helpful, though. He wiped his father's brow, retrieved tools for him, and moved the cleared away dirt far from the site, carrying it in a small cup.

He was glad he was a part of it!

Once it was out, it still needed to be cleaned. His father ruffled his hair, thanking him for his good work, and then sent Syaoran out to get them something to eat while he began the cleaning process. Syaoran nodded eagerly, and grabbed the money bag. He ran out of the site, and all the way down to the town. Even once there, he had to keep running. He'd been holding back for so long... being still was hard work!

He lingered once he got to the food sellers, making a complete round before he turned back to purchase, cataloging in his mind who had the freshest wares, the best smells, and the best deals, so he could make a choice without regret. He had a soup dealer fill two flasks with his stew, and he bought bread, and a small bag of berries and apples for dessert. Once he had everything, he ran back at full speed to the site.

His father was still busy with the artifact, soaking small cloths in a mild solution and then rubbing the metal gently to clean it. Syaoran grinned, knowing not to disturb him. He started a fire, and poured the stew into a bowl to keep warm next to the fire. And then he cleaned up and secured the rest of the site for the evening. When he came back, his father was only halfway done with the artifact, but his face was nearly entirely drained of color. Extremely gently, Syaoran put his hand on his father's sleeve. Once he was done with the cloth he was working with, his father turned to him and smiled.

They ate then, and Syaoran's father told him more stories of the places he'd seen, books he'd read... everything. As always, ever the apt pupil, Syaoran sat and watched and listened and learned. Times like this were so peaceful, but Syaoran almost felt like his father understood his desperate need to know as much as he possibly could as soon as he possibly could.

That night, his father returned to work on the artifact, and Syaoran helped by making detailed notes about where and how they found it, and how they had excavated it. He included in it his own drawing of the artifact from three different angles, though his father would probably make his own drawings, too, since his skills with the pen were greater than Syaoran's.

Syaoran went to sleep that night to his father's gentle humming, an unconscious side effect of working. In the morning, his father was fast asleep, wearing the same rumpled clothes he'd never changed out of yesterday, slumped over the table where he was working. However, his late night had not been in vain; the artifact was completely cleaned, and gleaming as brightly as it must have the day it was first made.

Syaoran went about morning chores, made breakfast, and started to work on the next section of the site. He'd only just begun, though, when his father's hand came down on his shoulder. He looked up to see his father's brightest smile.

"Syaoran, thank you, but I have a task for you."

Syaoran immediately jumped to his feet, because as rare as it was for his father to ask him to do something, he was always willing to do everything for his father. "Yes? What can I do?"

He patted Syaoran's shoulder, grinning. "That headdress we uncovered last night... there's a marking on the back which I can't decipher. It's a pictograph used by the priests of this land from a long time ago. I need you to take the headdress to the High Priest, and ask him to translate it. Of course, the artifact belongs to him and his office, anyway," his father chuckled.

Icy excitement ran through him, freezing him. He looked down at his hands for a moment... His father laughed, and patted him on the back.

"Of course, you can spend some time with Princess Sakura as well. I'm sure she'd be unhappy if you didn't, after all." His eyes twinkled as he said it.

Seeing the Princess... of course he wanted to, of course. But.

He wiped his hands carefully on his pant legs, and stood up, nodding seriously. His father laughed, not unkindly, and nodded, too, going over to get the headdress for Syaoran. He put it in a small box, and the box in a bag that Syaoran could wear over his shoulder. He made sure it was secure, and then he patted Syaoran's head.

Syaoran took off for the palace... walking very slowly with very measured steps. It wasn't that he didn't want to do a very, very good job for his father. It wasn't even that he minded going to the palace. The crowned prince was a scary person to him, but everyone else there was nice, especially Princess Sakura. She was always so friendly and kind, treating him just like a brother, or...

The High Priest was always so kind, too, but. He was kind to everyone, even the crowned prince. Especially the crowned prince. And the High Priest was so tall and calm and cool, so smart and he really understood people... he was thoughtful and quiet and he had a beautiful smile.

Syaoran stopped dead, right in the middle of the street. People behind him bumped into him, cursed him, and then walked around. He barely noticed, though. His face was bright red as he stared at his shoes. He had to stop thinking like this! He slapped his hands against his cheeks, and shook his whole head.

He had a job to do!

The High Priest was very cool and smart and all that other stuff. Even... even beautiful... he was probably the most beautiful person Syaoran had ever met. Well. And Princess Sakura, but... she was different, since... The High Priest was unlike anyone else, ever, well. At least. He seemed totally unique. He made Syaoran nervous like no one else could. When he looked at Syaoran... he seemed to see right through everything Syaoran had every thought and felt and then he... he smiled kindly...

Syaoran started to walk as fast as he could without running. He had a job to do. He had to do it and get back to help his father! If he kept thinking like that... if he thought about it like that... then he wouldn't get too nervous. Then he'd be able to do what he had to do without embarrassing himself.

When he got to the palace, he was let in immediately, because he was recognized well by the guards. Everyone loved the Princess, and they loved everyone the Princess loved. And... and everyone the Princess was kind to, as well. He went up to the library the High Priest was probably working. He stood outside the door for a moment, just psyching himself up. He practiced exactly what to say... We excavated this headdress from the site yesterday. There's writing on the back that Father needs translated, but he thought you'd want it, regardless. He repeated it over and over, speaking slowly inside of his head, concentrating on every word distinctly...

"Brats don't make for very good doors."

He jumped, and turned quickly, his eyes widening. The crowned prince was standing there, looking down his nose at Syaoran. He had his arms crossed over his chest and his eyes narrowed, his lips starting to form a snarl. Syaoran instantly bowed, apologizing, "Excuse me..."

"Your Majesty," a quietly melodic voice interrupted. "Aren't you being a bit harsh?" The High Priest was smiling brightly, as always...

Syaoran was frozen. He was just like... like the moon. Luminescent and lovely...

"He's in the way!" the prince scoffed.

"Syaoran-kun has come here on business, right?" the High Priest prodded him gently.

Syaoran's eyes widened... he was so cool... oh...! He did have business...! He grabbed the bag, and held it out to the High Priest, his words spilling out messily, "This is from Father he says you'll know what it means and it's yours." He looked up hesitatingly... Ah, he was holding it wrong... He untied the bag, and pulled out the small box. and held it out. And then he realized that was still no good, and opened it. Then he realized that he'd said it all wrong. "Oh! I mean... I mean, we found this. Excavated it. It's... it's something... Father said it belonged to your office..." He turned bright red...

The crown prince chuckled viciously, but the High Priest stepped closer to Syaoran, and patted him on the head, smiling. "Ah... I can see. This sort of thing, it was used in rituals more than a hundred years ago. Mm, and there's writing here? This is very interesting. I'm going to have to study this. Your Father has already taken all the notes he needs?"

Syaoran opened his mouth to speak, but all he could do, as it turned out, was nod furiously.

The High Priest beamed. "Thank you very much, Syaoran-kun, for bringing this here." The crowned prince grunted, and looked away, scowling. "And please thank you father for me, as well. I'll let you know as soon as I have an idea about these pictograms. Good work." He reached out and ruffled Syaoran's hair.

Syaoran's heart stopped, and he stared down at the floor. He couldn't even speak, and if he looked up, the High Priest would see how red his face was, but... but... the High Priest's hand was gentle, delicate, almost. Calming. He felt such kindness, and quiet warmth from the High Priest. It was such a beautiful feeling, that only the High Priest could convey...

"Oy, oy. He just carried the box here. He's lucky it's still in one piece. There's no need to get too excited," the crowned prince gruffly grumbled. The High Priest laughed, and pulled his hand back.

"It's all right to ignore him in situations like this," the High Priest whispered loudly. The crowned prince objected, and the High Priest just laughed...

Syaoran knew... that what was going on was really just between them. He was a child, and not a very knowledgeable one, but he could see that. It was strange, though, like watching from inside of them, something like that. It made him feel like he might be closer to the High Priest, none the less.

"I'll take good care of this, Syaoran-kun. You can assure your father of that. Thank you very much." He bowed to Syaoran, ignoring the crowned prince's objection that brat's didn't deserve such manners. Syaoran subtly melted into the background, letting the two of them enter the library. His heart was still pounding. Being so close to them...

"Psst! Syaoran-kun!" He started, and then turned. Covering her mouth cutely, Princess Sakura was peeking around the corner. "Yukito-san ruffled your hair?" He nodded, dumbly. She jumped, and clapped delicately. "Lucky! Yukito-san is the best at that!"

He smiled brightly, because with Sakura... Princess Sakura... she understood... and that made him feel more confident, and less like a stupid kid with a stupid crush that he had to keep hidden.

She rushed out from behind the corner and grabbed his hand. "Do you have time? Or do you have to go back to your Father right away? I want to go into town with you, Syaoran-kun!"

He smiled at her, and looked down at their hands. When Sakura touched him, he also felt really warm and happy, but instead of getting frozen up, it just made him feel confident.

So even though he knew he shouldn't let the Princess run out of the palace whenever she wanted, he couldn't refuse her at all.