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AITE
(I)
Sono Aida Ni

 

 

Sakurazuka Seishirou was not a happy Sakurazukamori.

True, that generally went without saying, but tonight he was feeling especially edgy.

From the roof of the of the residential high-rise he opened the fire escape door and proceeded to walk down to the floor of his prey. Not the most energy-efficient approach, to be sure, but tonight it suited his ill temper.

It wasn't only that he was feeling moody -- that was well within the Sakurazukamori domain -- but the mood itself was oddly unfamiliar, gnawing at him like a fractured quote echoing over and over in his brain that he couldn't quite place.

Trusting his feet to bring him to his destination without mishap, he contemplated the different sensations, rolling them around in his head, picking at them like a gourmet trying to identify a peculiar new flavor.

A flavor he was already sure he didn't savor, and which left a particularly bitter aftertaste on his tongue.

Dissatisfaction. Annoyance. And a strange mix of nostalgia and fatalism.

Almost like Christmastime, he thought, mockingly.

It irritated him, this unprecedented feeling of displacement, the strange impression that he, or possibly the world, wasn't quite alright.

Unsettled, he decided. That was the word he was looking for.

Logical as always, he considered the possible source of this disquiet. Perhaps it was only the effects of the day's events, lingering aftershocks of the day's upheaval.

Or could it be that coming face to face with Sumeragi Subaru had disturbed him more than he realized?

Not impossible, he conceded. Doubtful, but not impossible. The Sumeragi always did have a funny knack of getting in the way.

Nine years, he mused, idly. The game, the hunt, was nearing its foreordained conclusion.

Sakurazukamori and Sumeragi. Angel and Seal.

Even if he had wished it, there was no way to escape that. A final confrontation would be inevitable.

The Promised Day was coming.

At the appropriate floor, he snapped to attention, his mind focusing on the task at hand. Preoccupied he might be, but never careless. Placing one hand lightly on the fire door, he sent out feelers for wards that his opponent had undoubtedly put up. A small frown, more curious than angry, furrowed his brow when he felt nothing. Cautiously, he pushed the door open and stepped out into the corridor.

Perhaps he was mistaken, he considered. Perhaps he wasn't expected. That would be a pity, he thought, for he was so looking forward a struggle of some sort, some form of amusement. Really, murdering people in their sleep just didn't do it for him these days.

Walking soundlessly to his target's front door, he smiled as he finally felt the power, emanating from the walls. Up close, with his onmyouji sight, he could see the wards protecting the apartment -- silver spider webs of spells encompassing its walls. Elegant and delicate, seemingly fragile, but holding undeniable power.

Like their maker.

He studied the intricate fabric of magic, seeking, as always, a flaw, an imperfection. That was all it took, -- one frayed string and he could bring the whole pretty structure down on itself. That was one of his specialties.

Reaching out one graceful, deadly hand, he tested the strength of it. The weave reacted perceptibly, twirling, wrapping one tendril around his flesh, like a smoky snake, the free end trailing across the back of his hand, almost caressingly. Then, the tiny emanation of power fell back, curling into itself.

He watched, silently, as the retreating ringlet touched the main network and weakened the fiber of it. The silver strands seemed to dissolve, leaving one very obvious hole in the ward, big enough for him to step through.

No flaw, this. It was a separate spell, deliberate and certain. It had tested him just as he had tested it and it had granted him passage.

It seemed he was expected, after all.

But was it a welcome? Or a trap?

He would know soon enough.

The locked door amused him, the very irony of it. One wave of his hand and it parted, the knob twisting, releasing. He'd read tales of witches foiled by metal, by iron. How fortunate, then, that he was no witch. What he was, what he'd always been, was something far simpler.

Sakurazukamori.

Death.

He was a creature of the dark, and yet he found the darkness that met him incongruous. His prey, this one in particular, had always been surrounded by light. For some reason, innocents always seemed to believe it could protect them.

Three steps into the living room he stopped. There was a different kind of darkness there, hinting of shapes and objects. At the far end of the room was glass wall, characteristic in a modern high-rise but the moonlight could not seem to penetrate very far into the room. Knowing the family that owned it, there could be any number of priceless treasures in the room, and, heartless bastard he might be, he'd always had an appreciation for beautiful things.

That was, after all, the one weakness he could admit to.

He was preparing to conjure up some form of illumination when something sparked, for one moment bringing the room into bright focus, then concentrating into a small flame.

A young man sat upon the couch, in the middle of the dark living room, holding the end of a cigarette to the flame. He did not even glance at the Sakurazukamori as he inhaled deeply, breathing the flame into the cigarette, making the tobacco flare briefly. A click and the lighter was extinguished, leaving only the faint glow of the cigarette and faint tendril of smoke, almost invisible, curling and becoming lost in the dark.

Eyes, impossibly green even through the darkness, lifted to meet the gaze of the Sakurazukamori.

Surprised, but never at a loss for words, Seishirou grinned, the affable mask slipping smoothly, automatically, into place, though there was really no need for it in the darkness.

"Hello, Subaru-kun," he greeted cheerily.

"Seishirou-san."

Despite the honorific title, the voice of the Sumeragi was flat, emotionless, almost bored. In the near-darkness Seishirou could barely make out the long lean shape perched languorously upon the leather couch. Adept as he was at reading emotions in other people, in gauging their state of mind, he could sense no tension in the lines of that body, no wariness, in its pose.

Curiouser and curiouser.

The Subaru he had faced earlier that day had displayed all the characteristics he had expected the boy to display upon their re-encounter. Hurt, anger, a raging desire to pound the Sakurazukamori into the pavement. That automatic setting-up of protection for the innocents, the graceful, focused attack, the grim and silent determination -- they were all expected. Even the scene that came before, the almost-unconscious offering of the light, so eager to help and please despite himself -- all so typically, so predictably, Subaru-kun.

But the young man before him seemed more concerned with flooding his lungs with nicotine than facing what was, after all, his oldest and worst enemy. Sitting placidly in the dark, in the presence of the Sakurazukamori.

If he launched an attack now, it was doubtful Subaru could move fast enough to counter it. But he could have killed Subaru earlier if that had been his wish. A final confrontation was inevitable

But, he had already decided, it did not have to be tonight.

"You realize," he volunteered, injecting friendly concern into his voice, "that there is currently a very big hole in your ward. Not very prudent of you, -- all manner of creepy and nasty beasties could break through."

A slight movement, possibly a shrug. "Who would dare enter," Subaru asked, flatly, "and face both the Sakurazukamori and the Sumeragi?"

"True," he agreed, still cheerfully. "Though that doesn't quite explain why the hole exists in the first place."

"Nor why you stepped through it."

Seishirou smiled at that, recognizing the exchange for what it was. Open acknowledgement of the inexorability of this meeting. And it pleased him, intrigued him, this new proficiency of Subaru's with word play, this new knowledge of playing certain cards and holding others back.

The younger Subaru would either have stared blankly or stuttered embarrassedly at each loaded statement, disturbed and confused, knowing that there were hidden meanings within the simple phrases, but incapable of understanding. This one tossed out pithy phrases and riddles loaded with undertones and double meanings.

He liked it, he decided.

Another click and the room was flooded with brightness. Subaru had used a remote unit to turn on the lights.

Seishirou blinked, and when his eyesight adjusted he had to blink again.

Suddenly, and for the first time in years, the Sakurazukamori was keenly aware of the loss of his eye. Or perhaps it was simply the eerie sensation of double vision as the image of the younger Subaru juxtaposed itself on its taller, more mature counterpart.

He had seen him earlier, of course, but hadn't had ample opportunity to study, and fully appreciate, the splendor that was before him.

Somber green eyes stared directly at him, framed by perfectly formed features and a shock of dark hair, now not quite so... poufy. All in all an extremely attractive package.

And that wasn't even considering the lithe, elegant body that was still draped inelegantly upon the couch.

Subaru had always been beautiful. He and Hokuto-chan had had that certain fairy-prince and princess thing going for them -- jewel-like eyes, delicate impish features, and smiles with the force of supernovas.

But where that Subaru had been a bright spring day, this one was a winter night. Lean, spare, almost severe, but possessing of a definite crystalline beauty. An onyx and ivory sculpture when once he had been a sunlit stained-glass window.

Muted now, in the darkness, but still a distinct glimmer, as if lit from the inside.

"Why are you here, Seishirou-san?" Subaru asked, his voice expressionless.

He smiled in return. "Why did you let me in?"

The Sumeragi and Sakurazukamori stared at each other for long moments, the questions between them, unanswered.

Seishirou watched, outwardly complacent, though ready to respond to an attack, as Subaru unfolded his long frame from the couch, stood up and began to walk in his direction. _He_ may have decided not to push a battle, but there was no guarantee that Subaru had decided the same. He relaxed, fractionally, as the Sumeragi passed him and headed for a tall bar tucked in the corner of the room. Opening what was apparently a small refrigerator, Subaru-pulled out a translucent bottle encased in a block of ice. He watched silently as Subaru poured a measure of clear liquid in a crystal glass.

Appearing to have suddenly remembered his manners, Subaru looked back at him. "Would you like something to drink, Seishirou-san?" he asked politely.

He inclined his head. "Whatever you're having is fine, Subaru-kun," he answered, just as politely, following Subaru and taking a seat on one of the bar stools.

The Sumeragi found another glass, and filled it halfway with the clear liquid.

He accepted the glass, readily, knowing that poison was simply not the Sumeragi's style, and raised it towards his host. "Kanpai!"

Subaru-kun did not return his toast.

He took a healthy swallow and grinned affably over the rim. "Look at us, eh? Reunited after all these years. Hokuto-chan would be thrilled."

A slight, almost imperceptible tightening of Subaru's features, but the younger man chose to ignore his first volley.

"Still," he continued, thoughtfully rubbing his chin, "I can't imagine she'd approve of this new lifestyle. Smoking, drinking... And this penchant for garage-sale clothing. Tsk tsk tsk. You should take better care of yourself, Subaru-kun. What would your sister think?"

"Nee-san took care of me," responded Subaru, flatly. "But she's not here and I've done a great many things that aren't good for me. If she's turning over in her grave, who would know better than you?"

Seishirou laughed, unaffected by the quiet acid in Subaru's voice. "Unlike you, my dear Subaru-kun, I don't have much interest in people after they die. Only while they're dying.

Another tightening, but again, Subaru chose to let that go.

"She was thinking of you, you know," Seishirou went on, digging for a more appropriate response, "the whole time. Worrying about you. And looking at you now, I have to say ---"

A quiet snort interrupted him.

"Ah, how cold you've become, Subaru-kun," he said, pasting a mournful expression on his face. "To disregard my concern like this."

"Spare me, Sakurazukamori," said Subaru, his voice low and carefully controlled. "Spare me the lies, spare me the pretense."

He beamed. "Why should I," he questioned, amusedly, "when I never have before?"

Subaru looked at him straight in the eye. "Because I'm no longer a child," he answered, "and no longer gullible. You're wasting your breath, and you're wasting my time."

"Ah, but how else can we catch up on what the other has been up to these last nine years?"

Another snort. "You can't possibly pretend to care."

Seishirou spread his hands, in mock surrender. "Call it curiosity then, a particular weakness of mine." He placed his elbows on top of the bar and set his face on his palms, giving Subaru a look of rapt attention. "You know I've always been your most adoring fan."

When Subaru continued to ignore him, choosing to instead pour himself another drink and move back to the couch. "Poor me," Seishirou sighed loudly, striking a melodramatic pose. "My charms seem to have faded through the years."

Green eyes swept over him, as thoroughly as his had swept over the younger man earlier. "I wouldn't say that, Seishirou-san," replied Subaru.

"Ah, hope!" He declared, throwing a lewd wink in Subaru's direction.

Subaru inclined his head, thoughtfully. "It took you a year to lose interest in the game back then. I hope you realize that we don't really have that much time this go-round."

Seishirou pretended to consider that. "True," he conceded. "You're showing no signs of responding to my advances and I'm not as young as I used to be." He grinned, for once genuinely. "Besides, without Hokuto-chan the rhythms of the dialogue are all wrong."

Subaru gave a small smile. "Nee-san always did have perfect timing," he agreed, quietly.

Seishirou followed Subaru to the couch, this time sitting beside him, leaving only a few inches of space between them. Aside from one wary glance, Subaru made no protest.

Seishirou continued his study of the younger man, intrigued by the calm that seemed to radiate from Subaru. It was not quite peace, not quite serenity, but to someone who had always claimed such and yet never truly owned it, it was close enough. In Subaru, it seemed more of a quiet acceptance.

Truth be told, -- if he was at all capable of it,-- he was fascinated by the differences between the young Subaru and this Dragon of Heaven.

This seeming acceptance, for example. Subaru-kun had been forever questioning the way things were, always taking the injustices of the Universe personally. Always determined to right wrongs and force the world to make sense.

He smiled disarmingly at Subaru's quizzical look. "Forgive me for staring, Subaru-kun. I'm still trying to acclimate my eye to this new you. Where are my manners, eh?"

"Your manners, as always, have been impeccable," replied Subaru. "Insincere, but impeccable. It's been nine years, Seishirou-san. Everything's changed -- wireless communication, the Internet, bottled water... "

True again, thought Seishirou. In the last decade the world had changed. It seemed to him that only he and the Sakura had remained the same, though they, too, were showing the ravages of time.

"Why are you so surprised I have as well?" continued Subaru. "Particularly when you're responsible for a great portion of it?"

"Me?" he asked, in mock-confusion. "What did I do?"

Again, Subaru looked at him directly. "You took away the two people I loved most."

Taken aback by such straightforwardness, again the double vision of the stuttering, blushing Subaru fighting with this plain-spoken and contained person, he covered his confusion with an affected pout. "Come now, Subaru-kun, you can't still be angry about that. Besides, you never said you returned my affections. Who knows what could have happened if you'd only ---"

"I blamed myself," interjected Subaru, quietly. "For everything. For your eye, thinking I'd made you angry somehow. For Nee-san's death. For losing a bet I didn't even remember ever making. And I blamed myself for being a stupid little boy who was fooled so perfectly."

"You shouldn't have," Seishirou pointed out lightly. "I'm proud to say I'm quite adept at what I do."

Subaru gave a slight shake of his head, as if perplexed. "How is it," he asked, softly, "that you can lie so effortlessly, but never when it would actually do any good?"

He smiled again. "Part of my considerable charm."

"But lost, as I've already said, on me."

"Again!" he moaned, mournfully. "Coldly shut down by my beloved! And after I pined so desperately for years!" Seishirou leaned closer, smiling inwardly as, for fraction of a moment, Subaru looked flustered; reluctantly reacting to his nearness. "Won't you forgive me and give me another chance?" He smiled lovingly, disarmingly, reaching out to touch Subaru's cheek. "I really do love you, Subaru-kun."

Subaru growled lowly, the hand holding the cigarette snapping up to grab at Seishirou's wrist and stop it's progress. "Stop it, Seishirou-san," he gritted, coldly, angrily. "I'm not a child anymore, no longer naive nor gullible. You can't tease, or manipulate, or seduce me. I know what you are."

He inclined his head, leaning further in, breath now mingling with Subaru's. "Truly?" he questioned, softly, silkily. "Would you care to Bet on that?"

He saw the moment Subaru snapped, fury flaring sharply to life. One hand still holding Seishirou's wrist, he dropped the glass on the carpeted floor and swung with the other. Seishirou grabbed Subaru's wrist, twisting it behind him for good measure, their awkward position sending both of them crashing down on the couch. Smiling predatorily, Seishirou stared down at Subaru, enjoying the way their bodies touched, their oddly intimate embrace, with the Sumeragi still grasping his wrist tightly, as if unwilling to let go of whatever little control of the situation he had.

"So, little Subaru-kun," Seishirou breathed into his ear. "Not so indifferent as you'd like to believe, eh?"

"I never pretended to be," Subaru hissed in return. "Lies are _your_ dominion, Sakurazukamori. Not mine."

"And," he pointed out, smugly, "as usual, I have the upper hand."

Subaru's anger departed as visibly as it came, his stance relaxing, his hand coming loose from around Seishirou's wrist. "If you wished to fight," he said, quietly, "to prove that once and for all, you shouldn't have ended our confrontation earlier. You should have let it run through its conclusion."

Seishirou's eyes narrowed. "As I said, I had things to do."

"How long would it have taken?" Subaru challenged. "As you said, you had the upper hand, my life at your mercy. As it was that day nine years ago. Why didn't you simply kill me?"

"I wasn't inclined to, at that moment," he said. "Though I am beginning to regret my generosity."

Subaru snorted again, louder this time. "I'm not a child any longer. I'm not as stupid as to believe it was an act of kindness, or even a gesture of friendship. You had an opening, why didn't you take it?"

"And why did you dissolve the kekkai and release me?" Seishirou returned. "Not even the Sakurazukamori can break the kekkai of a Dragon of Heaven."

"Unless the Seal is killed. So we come to the question again. Why didn't you just kill me?"

"Why did you let me go?" Seishirou persisted. "Or don't you know yourself?"

They stared at each other, both unwilling to answer the other's questions. Finally, Subaru broke free from his gaze, struggling for freedom. Seishirou released him, and watched silently as Subaru stood up walked to the glass barrier, looking down upon the lights of Tokyo, waiting for the Sumeragi's next move.

After a moment Subaru sighed, pressing his forehead to the cold glass. When the young man straightened and turned back to face Seishirou, his face was once again composed, a curious light in his eyes.

Subaru crossed the space between them and stared down at Seishirou, still seated upon the couch. Then, the Sumeragi bent down, placing the softest of kisses on his mouth. Once more taken by surprise, the Sakurazukamori had not yet decided on a response when Subaru pulled away, and started walking further into the apartment. Before disappearing into another corridor, the young man looked back, holding out one elegant hand.

"Come to bed, Seishirou-san."

Seishirou stared after Subaru for long moments, bemused and, perhaps for the first time, unable to figure out the intentions of his intended prey, his nemesis. A thin tendril of smoke alerted him to the fact that Subaru's cigarette was burning a decent-sized hole in the 18th century Turkish rug. Almost thoughtlessly, he crushed it with the sole of his shoe before it could do further damage.

Never before had the different parts of him been so at odds with each other, each demanding to be obeyed.

Cold logic demanded he stay where he was, preserving the status quo. His natural distrust whispered caution, claiming Subaru's invitation to be suspicious, at best. His sensual nature tempted acquiescence, painting portraits of the possibilities should he follow. And the devil-may-care gambler urged he stop thinking and make his move, whatever it was, though it, too, was pushing for door number 1.

But the Sakurazukamori only knew that nothing would be determined, nothing would be served, by sitting on Subaru's couch, alone, and so he could only decide to go after the Sumeragi.

He found him in the bedroom, again standing by the window, looking out at the city.

Subaru-kun, he decided, should always be framed by moonlight.

Subaru turned when he entered and he saw that the younger man's shirt was already unbuttoned, hanging open to reveal a very pleasing, if somewhat too-thin, torso. Even the thin red line -- evidence of the wound he'd dealt Subaru earlier, did not detract from appeal. He held his breath, the sight striking him like a blow.

Subaru had definitely grown up.

"Impatient, aren't we?" he murmured, wryly, gesturing to the open shirt, to the easily accessible flesh.

Subaru didn't respond, moving towards him gracefully, with quiet purpose. Again, that made him somewhat uneasy, the memory of the painfully shy and self-conscious sixteen year old battling with this poised and self-assured bishounen. At it was vaguely disconcerting that he no longer had to look so far down to meet those Sumeragi-green eyes.

Silently, somberly, Subaru loosened Seishirou's tie and unbuttoned his jacket. As Subaru began to unbuckle his belt, Seishirou covered the hands that seemed too adept at the task, stilling them. Subaru glanced up and smiled wryly, almost ironically. "I'm sorry," he said, insincerely. "Did you want to lead?" He stepped away, letting his arms fall on his sides. "Go ahead," he invited.

Some unfamiliar sensation -- emotion? -- flashed through Seishirou. Something that was akin to anger but not quite. No shy virgin this, he thought, though even with that knowing smile Subaru still looked curiously innocent. But hadn't he wanted this? The corruption of this soul that had once been so pure, so bright and shining? *You're just like the rest of us now, little bird,* he thought, tracing the red gash on Subaru's chest. *Broken. Wounded.*

*And yet not.*

*Still... what matters is... I can touch you now...*

"Gotten pretty… cocky… haven't you?" he asked, dryly.

Subaru smirked - a strange sight on such a face. "You expected different, Seishirou-san?" he responded. "Surely, you, of all people, know what kind of trouble an angry young man with my looks and my money could get into." The smirk turned mischievous. "Did you really think all I did was smoke and drink?"

He leaned down to kiss Subaru, wiping that slight smile from the younger man's lips. Subaru responded readily, his mouth opening to the invasion of Seishirou tongue.

*Sweet,* Seishirou thought. But sweeter than the embarrassed blushes of the sixteen year old? He wasn't sure.

But sweetness was overrated. There were far far better things in the world.

Like fire. Like ecstasy.

He let go of Subaru's hands and the younger man's freed fingers rose, threading through his hair, pressing his mouth even more firmly against Seishirou's. But that satisfied neither of them for long. Seishirou found his own hands exploring the flesh pressed against his chest, pushing the cloth of Subaru's shirt all the way off his body. Releasing Subaru's mouth, he used lips and tongue to explore the newly uncovered textures of Subaru's shoulder, Subaru's neck. His soon-to-be-lover gasped once, shuddering, then tore at what was left of Seishirou's clothing.

Both completely naked, Subaru took a step back; his eyes traveling slowly down the length of Seishirou's body. Seishirou returned the favor, noting idly that there was no part of Subaru he didn't find pleasing, from the long coltish legs to the magician's hands to that perfectly sculpted face.

"Beautiful."

He thought he'd said it out loud but he realized that it had been Subaru, breathing the word softly. He endured patiently as Subaru trailed unbelievably light hands across his flesh, resisting the urge to simply grab the other and throw him upon the bed.

"Seishirou-san, you're the most beautiful man I've ever seen." A small, almost impish smile followed. "And believe me I've se--"

Seishirou kissed him full on the lips before he could follow upon that already-disturbing statement.

Trailing fingers, explorative, marking familiar, yet newly discovered territory. Skin on skin, heated caresses, absorbing, delighting in each reaction. Slowly, Subaru pulled Seishirou back, urging him towards the bed at the center of the room. Seishirou allowed him to lead for a few steps, then followed his earlier urge and simply swept Subaru up in my arms, as he had so many times in the past, and deposited him carefully on the mattress.

Subaru looked up at him, without fear, without trepidation. Eyes open, hiding nothing.

And yet unreadable all the same.

Another one of life's ironies, he supposed, that Subaru-kun had been so much easier to read when he had been trying so hard to hide things.

But that clear and direct gaze, that almost seductive pose.

Subaru, and yet not Subaru.

He must've been staring again, because Subaru's gaze turned quizzical, then wryly amused. "What's wrong," he asked, the barest smile, a mere quirk of the lips, as Seishirou continued to stare down at the familiar stranger in his arms. "Did you change your mind? Do you want me to lead after all?"

Not even the quip, so uncharacteristic of the Subaru he had known, distracted him. "Why?" he asked, softly, unable to articulate a more coherent question.

Subaru shrugged elegantly. "Does it matter?"

He was startled when Subaru lifted one hand, and gently, delicately, touched he eyelashes of his blind eye. In that close quarters he couldn't see the hand, but he could feel it.

"I cried when this happened," Subaru whispered. "I was so worried. I felt so guilty. But there were times I wished..."

"Wished what?"

"That I was the one who'd done it."

He blinked again, at this unfamiliar violence of Subaru's, at the imagery that sprung to his mind.

"So I could have marked you the way you marked me," Subaru continued hoarsely. "So you'd always remember me."

Then Subaru raised his head, and bit Seishirou's shoulder. _Hard._

He lost control then, grabbing the boy's wrists to pin them against the mattress, attacking the Sumeragi's mouth with rough kisses, moving so that Subaru would feel every inch of him, leaving no doubt as to what would happen next.

Subaru tore his mouth away from Seishirou's to gasp into his ear. "There's a tube... In the drawer..."

"No," he growled, harshly. "I want to _hurt_ you. I want you to feel this."

Some part of him was shocked by the anger, at the emotion he was not only experiencing, but displaying. But possessiveness was acceptable, he decided. Possessiveness was still in the realm of the Sakurazukamori.

And he wanted no hints of past lovers. No ease, only release.

He thrust inside Subaru and Subaru thrust back, just as roughly. They both gasped at the sensation, but neither of them protested, and neither of them stopped.

Pleasure and pain, anger and desire, and a hundred other emotions, unknown or unacknowledged, -- all dissolved in one swirling, blinding mass.

It didn't matter why. Only that it was.

Subaru's hands clenched around his, holding on, even as they strove against each other.

Presently, he let go of Subaru's hands, grabbing the boy's legs to wrap hem high across his back, holding on to slim hips, angling them to meet his body, to bring them even closer together. Subaru groaned, wrapping his arms around his lover's neck, back arching, then hands moving down to grab and urge Seishirou to move faster, harder, deeper, fingernails digging into rock-hard flesh.

Subaru moaned, on the verge of blinding release, feeling tears of frustration build, when Seishirou suddenly stopped moving. Then, understanding, as his lover turned him around, arranging limbs upon the bed and positioning him.

Oh gods, yes.

Seishirou entered Subaru again, placing hands over his to help brace him, thrusting violently. He felt Subaru start to shake, and growled in triumph, claiming his lover totally -- inside him, over him, around him. Felt Subaru gasping, shuddering, as Seishirou once again let go of his hands to travel up, exploring his body -- tight nipples, supple skin, and then to cup and stroke his manhood, breathing encouragements in his ear, striving for control as he realized he could quite possibly die from sheer pleasure.

Subaru's shaking arms failed him and he would have collapsed to the bed had not Seishirou's arms closed around him, holding him plastered to himself even as his hips continued their relentless activity.

"Seishirou-san," Subaru panted, a hint of desperation in his voice. "I applaud your stamina, but ---"

He didn't quite know how he managed it himself, but he pulled Subaru up, so that he was seated on the edge of the bed with the younger man imbedded firmly on his lap. Subaru struggled, unused to that position. Seishirou smiled as Subaru breathed in great gulps of air, feeling his heart hammering uncontrollably. Then, obeying some unknown impulse, he again captured Subaru's hands, crossing them around Subaru's chest, long legs and hips cradling the younger man almost protectively.

Subaru hung his head, his strength gone, slave to the desire raging through his veins, almost in tears from the helplessness and frustration, his heart near bursting with all the conflicting emotions.

"Seishirou-san," Subaru pleaded hoarsely. "Please."

"Just a little more," he promised.

"Why are you doing this?"

"To remind you," Seishirou answered, simply, "of things you've forgotten." He nuzzled Subaru's cheek, softly, caressingly. "How do you feel?"

"Trapped," Subaru whispered. "Helpless."

"Never forget again," murmured Seishirou. "Who I am, who you are."

Despite his awkward position, the limbs holding his captive, Subaru managed to turn his head and look Seishirou in the eye. "But not afraid," he said, almost calmly. "I want this. I want you." He brought their intertwined hands downward, proving that statement. He leaned back, seeking Seishirou's mouth, kissing him till the Sakurazukamori relaxed.

Then Subaru began to move.

Seishirou let himself be lost, allowed himself to be carried away by the overwhelming sensations Subaru inspired, closing his hands and savoring the rise and fall of his lover's body, encompassing his own. He returned the favor, closing his hands around Subaru's length, matching Subaru's rhythms with answering caresses, feeling the tension build within himself, within Subaru, till, together, the desire exploded in a bright point of light.

Ecstasy.

Spent, they collapsed on the bed, part of Seishirou's long frame dangling awkwardly as they struggled to catch their breaths. Then, he pulled himself and Subaru to the center of the bed, arms still around the younger man, strangely reluctant to let go.

Subaru turned, pressing Seishirou on his back, reaching to open a drawer from the bed's side table and pulling out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. Seishirou watched, eyebrow slightly arched as Subaru lit one and took a deep puff. He shook his head as Subaru offered him the pack. "You smoke too much," he said, a mere comment, a complaint, no hint of concern.

Subaru looked down at him, smiling wryly. "Yeah, these things'll kill me."

He almost laughed at that, pulled himself back at the last moment, giving instead his trademark incomprehensible smile.

Another puff, then Subaru shifted, laying his head on the Sakurazukamori's chest. Gone was the panting, pleading young man of just moments before. Now he seemed unruffled, untouched, though Seishirou knew better -- Subaru's heart still pounded frantically inside his chest. No, he smiled inwardly, not so indifferent. Seishirou found himself stroking the dark sweat-slicked hair, asking huskily: "Are you alright?"

Subaru stiffened, turning his head to throw Seishirou an acerbic glance. "Don't be kind," he said, flatly.

Seishirou did laugh then, softly, sensually. Sumeragi Subaru had perfected the art of irony. "This isn't about kindness, " he assured Subaru, shifting the younger man so he could nibble on his neck. "It's about pleasure. You didn't think once would be enough, did you?"

Subaru gave a slight shrug, though he continued to lie placidly in Seishirou's arms, arching his neck to afford the Sakurazukamori greater access. "Once generally is," he answered, still tonelessly. "Curiosity, once satisfied, usually kills itself."

Seishirou paused, slightly, then continued. "And is yours dead, Subaru-kun?" he murmured against the Sumeragi's skin.

Subaru hesitated, then slowly shook his head.

"Good."

"Unfortunately, my curiosity isn't limited to your prowess as a lover."

"Or perhaps," he suggested, softly, "this isn't about curiosity at all."

Subaru moved away, suddenly, sitting up on the bed to look at Seishirou, eyes wide with seemingly- genuine confusion. "What else would it be about?" He climbed on top of Seishirou, straddling the Sakurazukamori, looking directly down into his honey-colored gaze. He leaned forward, his face almost touching Seishirou's. "This is _my_ bed, Seishirou-san," he declared, softly, firmly. "And I'm not letting you turn this into another game, or another lie."

With quick movement Seishirou had their positions reversed, pinning the Sumeragi beneath him. He stared down into startled emerald eyes for a moment before swooping down to claim Subaru's mouth. It was a heated, through assault, and it was long moments before he released the mouth, allowing the Sumeragi to breathe. He touched one hand, almost tenderly, to a cheek showing no signs of age or roughness, lips following where his fingers had been. When he reached Subaru's ear, his breathing was even and measured.

"Don't imagine," he warned, coolly, "that you're in control here. I can break you as easily as a Venetian figurine." He smiled against Subaru's skin, a dark cruel smirk. "You're almost that anyway, aren't you? Pretty but fragile. Empty. It wouldn't take a lot."

Subaru shivered slightly at his words, at the touch of Seishirou's tongue on a particularly sensitive area of his nape. He broke away with surprising strength, catching the Sakurazukamori unawares, rolling, leaving the bed in one fluid move. "Not a game or a lie," he repeated, calmly, the barest hint of anger in his eyes, crossed arms over his chest as he stared down at Seishirou. "And not a fight, either. I'm not a child or a toy, not a pet or a plaything. I know full well my reasons for dissolving that kekkai today, and for letting you in here. And the truth is I could care less about _your_ reasons for coming here." An artless shrug, casual and unconscious graceful nevertheless. "I don't need lies -- pretty words mean less to me than they do to you. If you came here to kill me, then go ahead and try it. I'll fight you, because I must, I have no choice." He smiled, suddenly, a dark languorous smile. "And if you came here to fuck then we can do that, too. Again and again, all night. I've got no choice about that, either, as you've already proven. We are who we are. But I won't make excuses, and I won't accept them, either."

Seishirou stood still inside himself, studying the different sensations coursing through him at that moment. It was, after all, one of the reasons he found the Sumeragi so entertaining. For some reason the young onmyouji inspired such extraordinary sensations. There had a time when he'd relished it -- each and every new sensation that teased his insides. Laughter, friendship, concern, caring -- he'd flirted with all these sensations, like a window shopper trying out hats but with no intention to buy. Tasting those sensations, testing them, and testing Subaru as well, -- it had been fun. It had been... a learning experience.

He still found it fun. Meeting Subaru again, he'd found it so easy to slip back into that skin, that game. The smile never faltering, the endearments coming so readily to his tongue. Even the solicitous concern over Subaru-kun's health.

And yet, he'd played this game before and won it. Subaru was right, there really was no point playing it again.

How fortunate, then, that Subaru had provided him with another one.

He looked at Subaru, standing in front of him, naked, challenging, and a new generation of sensations danced across his brain, his blood.

Lust. Conquest. Possession.

Hunger.

The last surprised him, the razor edges of it. The closest thing he'd known that could compare was the gnawing sensation in his bones when the Sakura demanded tribute.

The younger Subaru -- despite his teasing, his hints, he had never attempted to actually seduce the young man. Subaru had been too young, too innocent, and seducing children was not within the Sakurazukamori job description. Destroy the innocence of their hearts, their souls -- leave their bodies for the Sakura.

And yet... this older Subaru...

Gaze direct, hands sure, mouth opening sweetly, not in surrender but in participation.

Had he known, back then, that Subaru would grow up into this?

Those sensations tickled, like warm and fuzzy dust motes in sunlight. These new sensations _burned._

It wouldn't last. Sooner or later he'd lose patience, or he'd lose interest, as he did before, as he always did.

But for now...

He stood up, slowly, no expression visible on his face. He reached out with his left hand and grabbed the back of Subaru's neck dragging him forward. His other hand rose slowly and Subaru tensed imperceptibly as Seishirou's raised his other hand and lightly touched Subaru's chest.

"I _will_ kill you, Sumeragi Subaru," he announced, evenly, his fingers idly tracing a heart-shaped design on Subaru's suddenly goose-bumped skin, feeling the real heart underneath race. "And _that_ is no lie." Subaru continued to meet his gaze fearlessly, and he gave a coldly seductive smile. "But not tonight."

He must've fallen asleep. Impossible, part of him argued -- he who never let his guard down, who never showed any weakness, who never gave prey or opponent the slimmest opportunity? But he must have, because the next thing he knew, he was alone on the bed, covered by a soft and warm comforter. He glanced around, searching the dimly lit room, glancing idly at his clothes that were now neatly folded and placed upon a chair, and found a silhouette standing by the window -- still and perfect as the night.

Given the number of times Subaru taken that particular pose within the last few hours, Seishirou knew he should have found the scene boring, annoying, even; but he still found the picture Subaru made oddly captivating.

He had pulled on his jeans, -- a pity, thought the Sakurazukamori, -- and his naked back gleamed dully in the moonlight. One arm rested above his head, leaning upon the glass, while the other hung laxly by his side, a cigarette dangling between his fingers. Seishirou watched as Subaru brought the cigarette to his lips, his gaze never wavering.

Like a sentinel at his post. Like a Prince watching over his City.

As if feeling his gaze, Subaru turned to face him, his eyes, though not as wide and innocent as they were nine years ago, still impossibly direct and honest. A breeze played with the bangs that just a while ago had been plastered to his forehead, wet with the sweat of their exertions.

He could still taste that sweat upon his tongue, still feel the texture of Subaru's skin against his lips, and the way he moved against, under him. Phantom sensations dancing across the serenity of his brain.

Subaru gave him a slight smile, then turned back to the view outside. A strange mood exuded from his still figure, despondency and restlessness in almost palpable waves, and Seishirou gave a small irritated sigh. Subaru-kun, it seemed, was still susceptible to the regular attacks of melancholia.

No, Seishirou thought. Not in tonight's agenda.

He wrapped the comforter around him like a cape and stood up, walking towards window. Subaru didn't even look at him, until he reached him and opened the comforter, enclosing the younger man within its folds, within his arms.

Subaru sighed softly, almost instinctively turning into the lips at his forehead, raised arm lowering to cover the ones crossed over his chest.

Seishirou glanced out the window, taking in the landscape that had Subaru so captivated. "You always did love Tokyo."

"Yes," he admitted, quietly. "I used to believe you did, too."

Seishirou chuckled, lowly. "I was wondering when the recriminations would begin," he murmured in Subaru's ear, one hand traveling over flat stomach. "Does this mean the honeymoon is over?"

Subaru gave a small shake, of his head, just a slight inclination, really. "Don't," he said, flatly.

Seishirou waited, thinking that Subaru would add something to that monosyllabic reprimand, but the Sumeragi merely continued to stare out the window. Bored, Seishirou reached for the cigarette, pulling it from almost slack fingers to his own lips.

The young Subaru, reflected Seishirou, would have chattered on, if only to fill the silence, to ease the awkwardness to which he'd constantly fallen prey. Endless questions, eternal discussions, -- all so he would not have to think about a smiling-faced veterinarian who vowed love and whose presence set his young heart pounding.

So different.

"Look your fill now, Subaru-kun," he murmured. "Soon there'll be nothing left of this City you so love."

Subaru merely smiled. "This City will be here long after you and I are gone, Seishirou-san," he answered evenly. "It's nature of the stage to survive the play, the nature of the battlefield to survive the war."

"Not this war," he disagreed.

Subaru inclined his head, thoughtfully. "Perhaps." He was silent for a moment before nodding to the distant horizon. "It's almost morning," he noted, flatly. "You should go."

Seishirou drew back. "Go?" he asked, careful to keep the confusion from his voice. He made a tsk-tsking sound. "You got what you wanted and are now sending me on my way, is that it? No cuddling in the afterglow, no telling me I'm pretty, no jewelry? No breakfast, even?" He affected a pout. "Goodness, Subaru-kun, you make me feel so cheap."

Subaru said, flatly. "We're done here."

"You think so?" he chuckled. "You think _you_ get to decide that? Subaru-kun, you _are_ adorable."

Something flared in Subaru's eyes, some flash of unknown emotion, dark and intense. Had not Seishirou been who he was, had he not known whom he faced, he would have called it dangerous.

The flash receded, leaving only a strange glow in Subaru's eyes, calm and yet intense all at once. "I'm not, you know," he said, softly, hands going up to touch to Seishirou's chest. Taking hold of the edges of the comforter, he eased it up and over, the soft cloth caressing Seishirou's shoulders; down, slowly, gently, to the small of his back then releasing it to pool around their feet.

"Hmm?" asked Seishirou, slightly distracted by the sudden rush of air enveloping his naked body.

"Adorable," provided Subaru, quietly. "Amusing. Cute. Or any of those things you insist on seeing me as." He traced the wound he'd inflicted on Seishirou earlier, light fingers counting off each tooth mark. Subaru stretched to reach Seishirou's right ear, his blind side. His words were quiet, almost hypnotic, and again Seishirou felt that thin fission of something akin to danger. "How could I be?"

Seishirou could hear him, feel him, but couldn't really see him. Warm breath on his ear, soft lips at the juncture of neck and shoulder, then at the hollow point between collarbones, traveling slowly down, the touch of tongue on the indentation of his chest, finally closing around one nipple. He stood unmoving, distantly trying to reconcile Subaru's words -- cold and impassive -- with the seeming tenderness of his touch.

"You killed my sister," he continued, still quietly, "destroyed everything I believed in, robbed me of all I loved." Subaru's lips and tongue moved again, downwards, now playing across the plane of his navel. "You left that soul shattered on that hospital floor. Beyond repair, beyond all hope, leaving nothing but the dream of vengeance." Each phrase was punctuated by a breath or a caress, a kiss or a lick, and it took all of Seishirou's willpower to limit his reactions to that one part of him that Subaru was paying close attention to. "I've imagined -- _planned_ -- your prolonged and excruciating demise, improvising the most convoluted torments, the bloodiest tortures." He thought he felt a small smile against his skin, where thigh and leg met. "And you think I'm 'cute'."

A definite chill passed through Seishirou's bones, his senses screaming danger. He threaded fingers through the Sumeragi's hair and pulled him up brutally, painfully. Again came the thought: just because he'd decided not to kill the Sumeragi, was no guarantee that the Sumeragi had decided the same.

Was it possible that Subaru had been waiting for an opening all along, for him to drop his guard? His logic said no -- Subaru could have killed him while he was sleeping. But then, logic had never been _Subaru's_ strong point. This way might have appealed to Subaru. It was much more... dramatic.

He searched the Sumeragi's eyes for a hint of threat, of victory, and found nothing there.

Nothing.

He stared, stunned, as Subaru stared back, emerald gaze empty of even that strange light that had been present earlier.

"Bravo, Subaru-kun," he murmured, lightly, trying to stamp down the unfamiliar feeling of alarm. "I'm quite impressed. Your little game had me... concerned... for a moment."

"No game," Subaru replied, emotionlessly, his eyes still dull and flat. "Look closer, Seishirou-san. Your handiwork, _your_ harvest -- how can it be anything but warped and wicked?"

Seishirou stared for a moment longer, turning this strange situation over in his brain. Then he laughed, releasing the younger man and shaking himself free of that odd spell Subaru seemed to cast over him. He grabbed the onmyouji's hand and pulled him back towards the direction of the bed. "Warped and wicked, Subaru-kun?" he asked, the affable, lazily seductive demeanor firmly reestablished. "Care to prove that?"

Subaru looked startled as well, and then a rueful expression flowed over his features. Seishirou realized he'd managed to pull him back also, back from that dark and dangerous pit they were circling.

It would have been so easy.

When did Subaru-kun become so contrary? Really, it was starting to get annoying.

But he'd already decided not to kill the Sumeragi that night, and not even the Sumeragi could change his mind.

Besides, there was that other matter that need his and Subaru's attention. A certain part of his body that was screaming for satisfaction. He threw Subaru another lewd wink, sitting down on the bed and pulling the younger man into the vee of his outspread knees. "Why don't you start by taking off those horrid jeans?" he suggested.

Warped and wicked, indeed.

Subaru continued to stare down at him, the rueful expression on his face again transforming, this time to one of gentleness, even affection. He raised a hand, touching Seishirou's face, brushing hair from Seishirou's forehead, out of his good eye, caressing the curve of his cheek. "Ah, Seishirou-san," he whispered, all at once wistful and self-mocking, "I _have_ missed you." His other hand lifted as well, and he cradled the Sakurazukamori's face, looking down on him almost tenderly. "You haven't changed at all, have you?" he asked, with a wistful smile.

Seishirou held his breath, caught by that smile. It rocked him, and he realized that he'd forgotten the punch Subaru's smile -- his real smile -- carried. He turned his head, planting a soft kiss in the palm of Subaru's hand, his hand reaching up to keep it in place. "Have _you?_" he murmured.

For one moment Subaru went completely still, still holding Seishirou's face in his hands, a myriad of emotions panning past his eyes, first a flicker, then in increasing intensity. They were too many, too intense, too convoluted, and Seishirou was barely able to glimpse them before they shifted and changed into something else, just as complicated, just as unnamable. He felt it, the gathering, those same unnamed emotions tightening, stretching thin, overloading.

For one moment he tensed, waiting for an explosion. He expected Subaru to finally break -- a scream, a blow, an attack. He imagined that wall behind his eyes dissolving into tears, they way they so often did in the past. But just as quickly they cleared, and Subaru merely smiled, wryly.

"Apparently not enough."

He was intrigued. All those emotions, those sensations, all so very real and intense. He wanted to see them again, closer and in more detail. He wanted to capture them, study them. he wanted to break Subaru so they would overflow, spill into his hands. What would they feel like, their textures, their taste?

"You realize," he said, musingly, switching to another tactic. "That one day one of us will actually have to follow through and kill the other. It's almost funny, really."

Subaru arched one fine eyebrow in question. "What, in particular?"

"How we're always opposites, always enemies," Seishirou answered. "if you think about it, we're almost a cliché. It's almost like..."

"Like?"

"Like we define each other. Like we fit." He gave Subaru a sudden brilliant smile, as if coming to a realization. "It must be because we're so in love."

He watched closely, ready to catch whatever Subaru's reaction was. So far, the younger man had had the most interesting reactions whenever he'd made declarations of affection.

Subaru's eyes widened, but to Seishirou's surprise, he merely burst out laughing. "My God, you'll say anything, won't you?" he asked in amused resignation. Shaking his head, he shucked the jeans that Seishirou had found so distasteful and pushed the older man down on the bed. "You want more?" he asked, softly, seriously. "I'll give it to you. But my bed, my rules. No more words, Seishirou-san. I must be insane, to attempt an actual conversation with the Sakurazukamori. I knew better when we came in here, but somehow, you made me forget again."

Seishirou blinked at Subaru's sudden change of mood. Then, he grinned, wickedly. "Thank you, Subaru-kun, it's very gratifying to know that I ---"

"Shut up, Seishirou-san," Subaru ordered, placing a finger on his lover's lips. "Talking just doesn't work with us." And he lowered his head and kissed Seishirou speechless.

 

 

Seated on the bed, Seishirou put on his shirt, carefully threading the buttons through their slots. Behind him, Subaru still slept, long limbs tangled with rumpled sheets, hair mussed, face relaxed like a child's.

He reached for his shoes next, wincing slightly as abused muscles protested.

Definitely no longer a child, he grinned.

For a moment, he paused, reviewing the events of the past night in his head. There was a good reason why the Sakurazukamori made it a point never to let a prey escape. Unfinished business was complicated business.

Subaru should have died, given to the Sakura all those years ago.

However, Subaru, from their first meeting, had proven to be no ordinary prey. From the moment the nine-year old Sumeragi had looked up to him with such trust, such compassion, Seishirou felt several conflicting and yet equally driving compulsions unfold within his black soul.

He'd wanted to see those eyes, forever still and dead, so they could never glimpse anything ugly, experience any pain. He wanted to still those eyes forever, after shattering the light in them. He wanted to teach the boy pain, drown him in darkness, stain his white robes with blood , the same color as his own hands. He hated. He wanted. He burned.

And he wondered if, _what_ this boy, this enemy, could teach him…

He'd been so young then, himself, his mother's promise still holding some weight in his memory, in that place he had still thought of as his heart.

Someday, she had promised, all those years ago. Someday...

The corners of his mouth lifted in a small smile.

He wondered if Subaru had figured out yet, that the young girl he'd seen all those years ago had saved him, sacrificed to the Sakura in his stead.

Just like Hokuto-chan.

He had been disappointed, of course. Subaru had not taught him what he wished to learn. But he'd realized too late that he had fallen into the trap so many others had before him, leaving his prey a way out, a loophole.

It was true enough that the young onmyouji had meant nothing more to him than a cup, or a dog on the street. Yet one could be moved, if the cup was beautiful enough, or if the dog was amusing. And Subaru-kun had been both.

He was not capable of caring, but the boy _had_ managed to touch something inside him, taking him by surprise. That was it, he'd decided, Subaru kept surprising him, and so he had a value no one else could claim. As a toy, as a plaything, he was entertaining. The year had been up, and though to all intents and purposes the Bet had been won, brutal self-honesty had insisted that the victory had actually been tainted, the end inconclusive.

And then Hokuto-chan had come, in the middle of his musings, providing a compromise wrapped up in an intriguing challenge.

The Sakura had been appeased, and he had the prospect of another, much more interesting match, to look forward to.

A match with the Dragon of Heaven, to determine the Fate of the World.

Fueled by a dying sister's Wish.

A match that drew nearer with each breath.

In any case, that Subaru-kun had been too young, too simple. A child in everyway. No challenge, no threat. Back then, as he had been, taking the Sumeragi, whether to bed or to Hell would have brought him no satisfaction.

But _this_ Subaru, this Dragon of Heaven…

That clear and direct gaze, those strong and certain hands…

An illuminated painting touched by the edge of darkness. A watercolor bordered by black ink.

Forged by fire and purified by blood.

His smiled widened in anticipation. *Are you ready, Subaru?* he thought to the sleeping man.

*Are you strong enough?*

He was an Angel, a Dragon of Earth. Not even the Sakura came before that. The Sakurazukamori, he'd been born into. But the Final Day was what he had been born _for._

And when next he and Subaru met...

"Seishirou-san?"

He stopped, startled at the voice from the past, slamming into a wall of memories. He looked back at the bed, where Subaru was looking at him, and it seemed to him that it was the sixteen-year-old Subaru that lay there, looking back at him -- the huge glimmering eyes, the soft shy expression.

"What did I do wrong?" Subaru asked, still half-asleep, almost dreamily, his voice no louder than a breath. "Why... Why didn't... you love me?"

A funny twinge in his chest and he spoke without thinking, without weighing his words. "I couldn't. Not even you."

A small nod, and the eyes closed, the illusion fading. Subaru shifted, turning his back on the Sakurazukamori.

As he had done so many times in the past, back in those days when he had found it so easy to pretend kindness, Seishirou pulled the blanket up, covering the thin frame against the cold. Subaru snuggled, as if trying to get more comfortable, burrowing his face against the soft folds.

"Lock the door behind you when you leave," he murmured.

Seishirou smiled at the order.

So sleepy. So final.

No, Seishirou decided. That Subaru could never have fulfilled his mother Setsuna's promise.

But this one...

For one moment he stopped to consider the possibility. Could this one succeed, given the time, given the chance? Could this creature have shown him, taught him, given him, that elusive knowledge, that ultimate experience, that he'd sought all his life?

Sumeragi Subaru. Dragon of Heaven.

Enemy.

Opposite.

He touched his aching shoulder, the wound where Subaru had marked him with sharp teeth.

Equal?

Nine years, unfinished, unresolved, and just one night to sweep it away, burn it away with passion. Perhaps it was enough. That boy, he was gone. He'd died the same day his sister had -- his heart and his innocence destroyed. perhaps they could both lay him to rest now.

They had come together this night for the same reason. To finish what was unfinished between the Sakurazukamori and the Sumeragi, between Seishirou and Subaru. To clear the way for the Dragon of Earth and the Dragon of Heaven to meet, truly meet, and serve their destinies.

But in the meantime...

In the meantime, he could not help but wonder…

Had their destinies not been set in stone…

What it was that they could have begun.

 

 

 

Epilogue

Subaru sighed as he heard the door shut, felt the wards reweave themselves, protecting him against other, less-welcome, dark visitors.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the seeming casualness of his pose melted away and he curled up into a fetal position, the pleasure and sexual satisfaction of the previous hours dissolving in the overwhelming pain that now tore through him.

He grabbed the pillow that had cradled his enemy's head, burying his face deep into its softness, inhaling the lingering scent.

*Seishirou-san, after all these years, you still smell the same.

*It'll be harder now, that I've tasted, had more of you than your smile and the scent of your hair.

*All those years of dreams. All those sleepless nights of yearning.

*Seishirou-san, you have lived up to each and every one of your promises...

*Save one.*

For one brief moment his face crumpled, -- a flashback to that fateful day, when he'd first felt the utter betrayal of the person that, despite himself, he loved most, but caught the tears back, shutting that part of himself away, as he had all these years.

*But it'll be over soon. I can be strong, because it'll only be for a while.

*The Promised Day is coming.

*No, I don't really care about this world. You are the last, the very last thing that holds me here.*

*You are here, on this Earth, in this Battle, so this is where I must be.*

Aite.

*But if we must be enemies, let it be because we are Dragons of Heaven and Earth.

*Not because we are Sumeragi and Sakurazukamori. Not because of Nee-san. Not because of the Sakura.

*Not because of a stupid bet.

*This Battle, at least, I can understand.

*And so much easier to accept, after all, why an Angel could never care for, never _love_ a Seal.

*So much easier to simply blame Destiny.

*No, you could never love me, and I now know I could never stop loving you.

*But when you kill me, finally, or when I kill you, let it be for the Future, not the Past.

*Let it be for the sake of the Earth or for Humanity, not because of hate, or love, or because we are Subaru and Seishirou.*

Subaru burrowed his face even deeper into the pillow, eyelashes wet with fiercely checked tears.

*Let it be swift.

*And let it be soon.*

"This is my Wish..."

 

 

 

THE END
Jessi Albano
31 July 2001 02:45:38 am

 

 

Seishirou and Subaru drawing from my friend aerie
Subaru and Seishirou (wah!)
drawn by my friend aerie