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#20: Firework

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The old cathedral is cold, the tall stone walls and the empty space make his steps echo too loudly. It’s snowing softly outside, white tiny watery snowflakes falling relentlessly since last night. Subaru shivers, his jacket isn’t as warm as it should be for this weather but his winter coat has already been packed.

Rows of wooden seats welcome him in and invite him to walk further into the church, the place is silent except for the rustling of his clothes and his hurried steps, and a crispy sound of a few very small flames.

Finding Seishirou is easy, he’s sitting at the front, watching carefully the altar where five long yellow candles are alight, spewing a warm and weak red-ish illumination. For a moment, Subaru thinks he’s praying and disturbing him now would be highly disrespectful. However, his hours here are counted and he can’t leave without talking to the priest first.

He slows down the last few meters, almost afraid of clearing his throat and claiming the other’s attention. He doesn’t need to, Seishirou looks towards him when he stops, tender smile in that attractive face. Subaru’s chest burns, heavy and sickening, while that smile replays in his mind, over and over, Seishirou has smiled tenderly and lovingly at him for so many years now, it’s a feeling that drowns him.

“Subaru-kun.” And it’s a prompting, for him to talk, to say something, to not scape from this.

There’s doubt, should he call him Father or not? Maybe he could remain silent, not say anything at all and just leave, for once be a coward and— he can’t. He swallows against the dry lump in his throat, uncomfortableness taking residence in his lungs and belly.

The black cloak sways when Seishirou stands up, tilting his head, inquiring with the same patience he has always had.

The heavy silence envelops them, calm and sad.

“How is your family doing? I’ve heard about what happened.” Seishirou whispers as if worried someone else might eavesdrop even when they’re alone. “I’m sorry about your loss.” He adds at last, more stiff and fake that one would expect from a merciful man of God.

Subaru nods. “Thank you.” He raps out, another shiver running down his spine – and this time it has nothing to do with the cold.

“How are you doing?” He asks reserved.

“It’s…” A pause. “It’s tough.”

“I can only imagine.”

Subaru wonders if Seishirou really can imagine such a situation – a man who has dedicated his whole life to religion, who has never met his father, who has seen his mother kill herself, who has seen his brother part. Seishirou is a man who knows nothing about family and love, and yet here they are. Flesh is weak, they say, and Subaru agrees. After all, and ignoring everyone’s warning, this goodbye finds him somber and ready to succumb. If only Seishirou would be able to leave everything…

If only Subaru wasn’t born with this strong sense of duty.

He nods nonetheless, bowing his head. The weight of sadness too much to keep looking at Seishirou so directly. Words are stuck in his throat, ones smashed against the others, wishing to come out and let the other know how much this hurts, how much he loves

The soft tiny laughter twinkles like the metal of Seishirou’s necklace and when a hand lands on his shoulder, he looks up. Seishirou never makes any sound while walking, except for his metallic necklace, no footsteps to indicate his movement – there’s something weird right there, Subaru knows, but he has never had the courage to bring it up and now he won’t either. Now is not the time since they don’t have time.

“Your sadness doesn’t come out of this tragedy in your family.” He says, way too easy. “That is not proper of you, Subaru-kun.” The tamest reprimand. His eyes prickle, tears threatening to spill. “It’s okay. It will be.”

No.” Subaru finally chokes out.

The hand on his shoulder caresses his neck, a barely-there kind of touch, and it comes to rest on his cheek, pressing a bit to force him to look at Seishirou once more.

“It will be.” He assures, voice tender yet firm. Subaru can’t believe him. “You will be fine.”

The hand is cold but his cheek is too so it doesn’t really matter. His whole body is cold, hands and legs trembling slightly. The contact isn’t innocent at all, nothing with Seishirou is ever innocent; naive Subaru has learned it well, he knows better now. And he doesn’t mind, he doesn’t need innocence anymore. What’s more, they’re all alone here, a little push in that direction and there’s no one to stop them from going any further, goodness and property be damned.

“Seishirou-san, I—” He gets cut off, beatific smile never leaving the priest’s lips.

“How are your siblings taking the news?”

He bits his lips, unsure of where this is really going. Seishirou keeps caressing his cheek, a false sense of dubious comfort. However, he’s asking about Hokuto and Kamui and his family as if he doesn’t want to hear what Subaru has to say.

This is the man he loves and at the same time, the most complex and fake person he has had to deal with – Subaru understands why Kamui gets so irritated by this whole affair.

“Seishirou-san.” He tries again, name shaking.

“So, it’s going to be like that?”

“Like what?”

“You’re leaving. Isn’t that what you came here to tell me?”

“I—”

“Just what kind of goodbye are you expecting, Subaru-kun?”

He doesn’t know, he just wants to preserve this forever even if he can’t, even if it’s impossible for them to do so. He doesn’t want this solemnity anymore, he’s tired of faking and now it’s too late. They’ve been stalling and life has decided for them.

“I want—” Seishirou waits for him to continue, patient and head tipped to the side, listening solicitously. “I want.” He declares at last. Because that’s it.

That’s pure raw honesty. He wants Seishirou. He wants to change their fate. He wants.

“I see.”

“No, no you don’t.” He desperately mentions, almost hysteric. Hands flying and grabbing what he can – he ends up clawing at Seishirou’s arms. He’s shaking, lost, so lost, and so lonely. “You don’t see. You don’t get it.” He isn’t even sure if he started crying or not. “You—” And it’s an accusation.

“What about me, Subaru-kun?” The smile never falters, it creeps him out. It doesn’t creep him enough to leave though. “Where do you want to go with this?”

“I don’t know!”

His nails must be digging into Seishirou’s flesh even through the cloak and any undershirt he can be wearing. But it doesn’t matter. He feels dizzy, lightheaded. Seishirou doesn’t complain either, easily supporting his weight.

“Stop it, you’re going to be okay.”

“I don’t want to be okay! I want to be with you!” He finally yells, knees almost giving up.

Seishirou’s smile takes a deadly edge for a brief flash of a moment, it paralyzes Subaru, eyes slowly swelling. “You may want what you want—” He says and envelops him in an embrace, strong and suffocating, too intimate to be given by a priest, and Subaru can’t really breath through the hiccups and sobs. “—but what matters is what you’re going to do. Don’t you think?” It’s a final whisper, aimed to hurt, it feels like Seishirou is stabbing him, plucking his heart out with his bare hands. Subaru nods against his chest nonetheless. “So, what are you going to do, Subaru-kun?”

What he’s been expected to do, that’s what he’s going to—

He takes a deep breath, willing to stop the crying and the shaking, even when Seishirou’s warm body pressed against his feels like a blessing. A man of faith, a man of God, he’s truly a blessing to Subaru but for all the wrong reasons. Somewhere deep in his mind he can hear the cunning laugh of a demon that sounds exactly like Seishirou.

He’s going to go, he’s going to take his Father’s place as head of the Sumeragi Clan. He’s going to do the right thing, what’s expected of him. And he hates the idea, he hates that his Grandmother didn’t choose Hokuto when she’s definitely more fitting for it, he hates that he’d be willing to give Hokuto the title just to get himself out of it, he hates that he doesn’t feel as bad about his parents’ death as he is about having to leave this life behind. He’s going to go and never see Seishirou again for a family that hasn’t showed him love except for his siblings. And he hates it that it’s this way and he hates himself for feeling like this.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

If he repents and prays and repeats it like a mantra it may come true.

Subaru regains his footing, one last sniff at Seishirou’s manly cologne and he’s looking up, doubting he looks any appealing considering what he desires. However, he is very conscious of his place, of Seishirou’s place and mission in this universe.

It hurts.

Seishirou is still smiling, sweetly now, not letting go of him. That’s okay, he doesn’t want this hug to be broken apart.

“You’ve made your choice long ago, haven’t you?”

“I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing I should forgive.”

The tone implies Seishirou is the one who should be asking for forgiveness, for leading innocent Subaru on, for promising without explicitly promising anything, for allowing Subaru to be this weak—

He stands on the tip of his toes to reach, eyes half-lidded already. Seishirou’s lips are as cold as his, chapped too. His hands find their own path, clinging to firm shoulders; Seishirou’s only press in harder, surely leaving bruises in the shape of fingertips all around his waist.

There aren’t fireworks nor a chorus of angelic voices singing prayers, it’s not revolutionary. It’s just their lips slotting together, pressing, mimicking a gesture of caring and passion.

It’s what Subaru has wanted since forever and now that it’s happening, without any of that over-dramatic imagery people like to say about kissing, it’s just a sad goodbye. It’s chaste and tastes like his tears. It’s not enough. However, he doesn’t know how to deepen it, how to convey all his want. He does what he can, silly but oh so sincere.

“Forgive me Father,” He starts, breathless and flushed. “for I have sinned.”

That smile is not the sort of gesture a priest should wear, all sharpness and malice. It has him feeling like he needs to go on his knees and beg. A hand travels the expanse of his back, teasing, a light touch that makes his whole body tremble. When Seishirou clutches the back of his neck, he whines, loud and unashamed, the pitiful sound echoing against the stone walls.

“Repenting already? So soon, Subaru-kun...”

The arm still around his waist pushes him impossibly close to Seishirou’s lower body, his excited groin finally having some gratifying pressure to rut against – and the way Seishirou separates his legs to fit him better is too erotic for Subaru to resist. The gasp that escapes Subaru so suddenly is enough invitation for Seishirou to claim his mouth again, this time with a force that makes their teeth clash. A part of him is kind of afraid of this, entertaining the thought of biting that intrusive tongue – but he knows better, he’s too lightheaded and downright horny to think straight in this situation.

He claws at Seishirou’s shoulder, helpless and aroused, panting for the oxygen Seishirou sucks out of him mercilessly. His grin is wide and wicked when he finally lets him take a breath in, inhaling Seishirou’s warm smell.

“You can sin better, Subaru-kun. Then you can kneel and pray for forgiveness.”

*

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He left this room when he was barely four or five years old. However, the place looks exactly as his mind remembers. Everything looks the same but nothing feels the same. Nothing will ever feel the same again. It produces a tiny smile out of him.

“How did Father Seishirou treat you?”

His Grandmother has no such problems, she doesn’t smile, never, since he can remember at least. Subaru used to find it odd, now it’s just another quirk a person can posses, there’s nothing of surprise there.

Seishirou, for example, smiles all the time and that doesn’t mean anything good. Gestures can mean so little, or show so little, or just plain convince you of lies.

“He is a nice man.”

What else can he say honestly?

“Your sister told me you befriended him rather quickly. I never thought you’d be one to make friends with a priest of all kinds of people.”

A part of him wonders how much Hokuto knows and how much she keeps quiet. It’s bizarre to wonder that about his Grandmother, he suspects she somehow knows everything.

“He is a friendly person, it’s easy to talk to him.” Amongst other things…

She nods, once, twice, slowly. “Such a pity you have to stay here and never see him again.” Regretfully, there’s no sadness in her voice.

Subaru nods. “It is.”

His whole life is a pity from now on, far away from Seishirou. He decided this, his family duty over his own want – it’s probably an admirable thing. He can only feel hollow though. After having a taste of Heaven, thanks to a man of God who knows how to take him high and never letting him down. Now life is dull, meaningless.

He smiles all the same, that’s the lesson Seishirou taught him.

Grandmother is taken aback for a minute, after all she was expecting grief and tears maybe. A show he isn’t willing to perform in front of her. He has seen true purpose in life when he was on his knees, hardly breathing, eyes watery and bliss running unabashed through his veins; this now is just his life on responsibility. He isn’t distressed about it, not really, he doesn’t complain. It is the life he has to live. The one he chose long ago like Seishirou said, there’s no shame in that.

At least he got the privilege of trying out a taste of forbidden and move forward all the same.