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Eight Breaths

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but imagine, really imagine your OTP….

  • leaning their foreheads together, completely out of breath after a long kiss
  • waking up together after their first time
  • as grandparents
  • holding hands romantically for the first time
  • falling asleep on the couch
  • staring at each other from across the room like the lovestruck idiots they are
  • meeting again after being separated for a year
  • being incrediblybly, absolutely, blissfully happy

 

 


 

leaning their foreheads together, completely out of breath after a long kiss

His cheeks are wet.

There are bruises under his eyes – from crying, from too little sleep. Bloody crescents pattern his palms where his own nails had dug in once, twice, three-four times. His breaths rattle in a throat worn thin by screaming. His lips sting from the bite of his own teeth.

He wonders how he had not torn them off, those lips – the flesh and skin that had pressed, opened, begged for a demon's love.

“Subaru-kun.”

Subaru pushes up, against a man woven from shadows and blood. Their foreheads thud together, bone to bone; their hearts beat close, close, a mismatched pair of drums.

“I hate you,” Subaru groans as they touch again, come together in a softer, warmer place.

“My dear Subaru,” he breathes and swallows Subaru’s cry, his whispered curse, his moan.

I adore you so.

 


 

waking up together after their first time

“Can you not?”

The fingers painting shadows on his spine pause, but do not lift. If anything, they press harder where they rest, nails biting softly into thin skin – possessive little beasts. “I would need you to be more specific than that, Subaru-kun.”

Subaru twists over violently. He means to dislodge Seishirou’s arm, but the older man moves with him until quite the opposite happens: Subaru is on his back now, caged beneath Seishirou’s larger body. His cheeks burn at the naked slide of their flesh; his thin thighs clench, tight with tension on either side of Seishirou’s strong legs.

The night had started like this, albeit with both parties clothed and a large quantity of sake.

But it is light out now, morning. There is no time left for illusions. All must break, melt, disappear – leave naught but headache and bruises.

“You should go,” Subaru mutters. He tries to keep his eyes on Seishirou’s, tries to glare down eyes of glass and flesh – both lies, both liars. But there is something trapped in them today, something he had not seen before, and he finds he cannot.

Subaru turns his face away, hides by pressing his lips to Seishirou’s arm where it lies beside his head.

Seishirou shudders. Subaru smothers a gasp as the movement presses them close together, closer than he had been to any human being. He feels himself flush, feels himself rise and fill and oh, the burn in his cheeks is nearing pain.

“If you do not mind, I would rather stay,” Seishirou breathes against his neck. He kisses him there, lips searing hot against Subaru’s frantic pulse. A scrape of teeth follows, a hint of danger; Subaru moans and arches up, bites into the tightness of Seishirou’s arm.

A large hand cards through his hair, twists gently into the thick locks at the nape of his neck and pulls. Subaru keeps his eyes closed and lets himself be found.

“After all,” Seishirou rumbles, the sound a vibration against Subaru’s lips, “it would be in such a poor taste” – he bites Subaru’s lower lip; Subaru licks his teeth – “to go so soon.”

Subaru lifts weak arms, throws them over Seishirou’s – the Sakurazukamori’s – broad back and pulls him down. The feel of him, all muscle and unblemished skin and power, is gorgeous.

“One day,” Subaru gasps in the monster’s ear, “I will be rid of you.”

“Yes,” Seishirou agrees, words even and calm even as they emerge between bites, between kisses, “but not today.”

Subaru says nothing, thinks not of the message recorded on his answering machine, of Hinoto’s detached voice.

Not today, but soon. Sooner than he could—

Subaru buries his head into the crook of Seishirou’s shoulder, kisses him – tastes sweat and skin and blood – and does not think of anything else at all.

 


 

as grandparents

“—and then she stood up! Can you believe it? She is seven months old, Subaru! She is a genius, is what she is. Even the doctor said so! Isn’t she a genius?”

“Yes,” Subaru intones. “Genius.” He flips to the next page in his book. Ha. If real mermaids were that easy to get rid of, his job would have been a lot easier. Then again, he’d have to carry a wand. Would a staff count? He could carry a staff. Staffs are pretty awesome.

“Does that boy have nothing better to do than call here every hour of every day?”

Subaru twists his head back and lifts a finger to his lips. Seishirou’s face frowns at him, upside-down. Subaru presses a palm over the mouth of the receiver, “Hikari stood up on her own,” he tells Seishirou.

“Good for her,” Seishirou grumbles. Subaru bites back a smile; Seishirou talks tough, but his eyes glisten with pride. As if any of them had anything to do with Hikari’s intelligence.

Beneath his hand, Kamui has ceased chattering about his adopted daughter and the toys they bought her and their outing to the zoo and – thank God – his husband, and is now demanding something in a tiny, static-bitten voice. Subaru presses the phone back to his ear.

“—is that Sakurazuka? Give the old bastard the phone!”

“We are both Sakurazuka now,” Subaru reminds, but hands the phone over to Seishirou. Seishirou raises an eyebrow as he takes it, leans his weight against the back of the couch.

“Good afternoon, Kamui-kun.” Kamui snorts in response and promptly launches into a tirade of some sort or another. Seishirou hums along, far from focused on the conversation. His eyes fall to where the dip of Subaru’s neck sits, naked and vulnerable, but centimeters away. A mischievous smile pulls at Seishirou's lips.

Subaru squeals and clamps a hand against his poor, abused flesh. Disbelieving green eyes snap to Seishirou's. Narrow.

Seishirou lets out an oomph as a throw pillow hits him in the face. Things escalate from there.

“—she’s a baby, she can’t tell your stupid summons apart from regular, disease-ridden pigeons – or Kami-sama, actual hawks! They almost kicked us out of the zoo! So stop sending stupid gifts via bird-mail, okay? Are you listening? Sakurazuka, are you—”

Subaru manages to grab the receiver from where it had tumbled beneath the couch. It is quite the accomplishment, given that he is currently squished between sofa cushions and Seishirou. “Sure, yes, you’re right,” he gasps into the receiver, “We’re extremely sorry, will talk later, bye.” He presses the end button, interrupting Kamui’s horrified squeaking and the beginning of a new tirade along the lines of, “you are in your fifties, keep it in your pants!”

“That boy needs to learn some manners,” Seishirou rumbles. It would have come out more menacing, had he not been biting a path down Subaru’s chest between words.

“Between Fuuma, me, and you, it is a lost cause,” Subaru gasps, then, “Get to it already.”

At his navel, Seishirou looks up. His eyes glisten gold – the only warning Subaru gets before his clothes disappear in a blaze of magic and (of all things) sakura petals. Subaru wonders what the Tree thinks about its power being spent in such a manner.

“You might benefit from a lesson or two, as well,” Seishirou leers.

Subaru smirks and spreads his legs.

“Do your best, sensei.”

 


 

holding hands romantically for the first time

“…What are you doing?”

Seishirou’s smile is blinding this close. More so than during the year of the Bet – but perhaps blinding is not the word.

Terrifying. Yes, terrifying fits fine.

“I always loved your hands, Subaru-kun,” the older man coos. Subaru’s eyebrows bunch together. The look on Seishirou’s face is almost…

Seishirou tightens his grip on Subaru’s hand, turns it so his palm rests against Seishirou’s. Subaru allows himself to appreciate the warmth of the larger hand against his own chilled fingers. Then Seishirou bends his head and presses his lips to the back of Subaru’s right hand and thoughts of cold and December and Tokyo get pushed off a cliff in his mind.

Subaru gasps as the pentagram awakens, coaxed to life by Seishirou’s mouth. The burn of magic in his skin does not hurt. It—

Seishirou traces the lines of his star, Subaru’s inverted twin, with his tongue. Subaru’s cheeks redden like ripe apples.

—doesn’t hurt.

Stop it!” Subaru hisses when he manages to find words again. Forcing his eyes away from the spectacle that is the Sakurazukamori molesting his hand takes a moment longer. Seishirou's eyes flick up; the glint there is devilish. He pulls his mouth away from Subaru’s hand – and oh, his lips cling to the slick skin, just a bit – and smiles. A wolf peeking from beneath a sheep’s hide.

“As you wish, Subaru-kun.”

Subaru thinks that nothing about this is as he wishes.

He also thinks that Seishirou has forgotten to let go of his hand. He is about to remind him of the fact when the older man steps closer – looms, is more like – and drops their joined hands between them. The cigarette lighter Subaru had been holding out as an offering clatters hollowly against the rooftop’s floor.

“Are you hungry, Subaru-kun?”

Bemused, Subaru blinks in response. Is he… what? Seishirou appears to take that as a yes – Subaru gets the feeling that he would have taken a no as a yes, as well – and strides away. His grip on Subaru is steel-like, which means that Subaru is pulled along like a puppy on a leash.

“I know just the place! The city’s best ramen. You will love it, Subaru-kun.”

Subaru sincerely doubts he will be able to swallow a bite, pressed tight against Seishirou’s side at a crowded table in a Tokyo ramen stall. He lets himself be led anyway.

At least his hand is warm now.

 


 

falling asleep on the couch

There is nothing on TV.

Subaru presses the channel button on the remote, up-up-up. A cooking show merges into late-night comedy-skits, turns into a Western crime series dubbed with questionable accuracy. Subaru flips through eggs and men tottering in high heels and a bloody corpse, unimpressed. Finally, he settles on one of seven telemarketing channels. A smiling woman in a pristine white suit is selling pearl earrings; Subaru wonders how excited she really is to be doing that at two in the morning. Still, her words are happy and her demeanor, calm. The show makes for soothing background noise.

He is not waiting up, per se. No, Subaru simply cannot fall asleep (in their bed, alone). He will retire as soon as he feels drowsy, as soon as—

Subaru blinks. The woman on the glowing screen has been succeeded by a man and a collection of wrist watches. It is two twenty-five; Subaru frowns, wondering what is holding up—

Never mind. The show – the show is interesting. He thinks he might like that gray watch with the mother of pearl dial. Perhaps Seishirou would like it, as well. It might make a good Christmas gift. Subaru squints at the price: Twenty-five thousand yen. A real bargain, the man on the TV assures. Subaru loses interest. Seishirou has two Patek Philippes lying on their dresser, each one worth about nine million yen. He wears a Tag Heuer when he does his work as the Sakurazukamori, and that one is half a million easy. He—

He is wearing the Tag Heuer tonight.

Subaru mutes the TV and closes his eyes.

Subaru does not begrudge Seishirou’s job, has not for many years. His work is necessary, just like Subaru’s is necessary. Life and death; give and take. No, Subaru does not resent Seishirou. That does, however, make him resent himself.

The door to their apartment opens an hour and thirty minutes later.

Seishirou is quiet as he takes off his shoes, his coat – does not turn on a lamp, bump into any furniture on his way to the bathroom. There, he closes the door firmly before twisting the knob to the shower, disrobing, scrubbing himself down with winter-chilled hands. The water runs violent red for a short moment before pinking, going white with scentless soap. Clean of the day’s dirt, Seishirou pats himself dry and twists a towel around his hips. He takes out a thick, black trash-bag from a box of them in the cabinet beneath the sink, stuffs it full of his blood-soaked shirt and pants. He had been careless in his haste tonight. Satisfied, he stows the entire bundle at the bottom of the black bin at the back of the cabinet, closes its doors. He will get to it first thing in the morning.

Now…

Seishirou turns off the light, exits the bathroom on silent feet. The door to their bedroom is open, after all, and he does not want to disturb –

Subaru is not in their bed.

Seishirou sighs and changes course.

The living room is illuminated by the light of the muted TV. The coffee table is messy with magazines, books, a few official-looking folders, tea. A bag of pocky. An unopened pack of cigarettes. Seishirou picks them up as he passes by, burns the whole thing to ash with a word.

“Cigarettes aren’t good for you, Subaru-kun,” he murmurs.

Subaru, mouth slack and soft in sleep, says nothing.

Seishirou thinks about picking the younger man up, about quieting his sleepy complaints with a kiss and carrying him back to their bed. As he does, a twinge of pain laces up his neck, tightens his shoulders. It has been a long day, and hot water can do only so much against exhaustion and (Seishioru admits in his own mind) advancing age. And Subaru looks so comfortable, so inviting.

Seishirou leaves, comes back in a pair of gray pajama pants. He is carrying the blanket that covers their bed – a thick, soft thing that wards off the chilliest of Tokyo nights. He covers Subaru with it, climbs beneath it himself and pulls the smaller man into his arms. Subaru is trying his best to wake up: he scrunches his nose, crinkles his eyes in failed attempts to blink them open. Seishirou smiles – the first real, honest smile this entire forsaken day – and kisses him.

Okaeri,” Subaru breathes against his lips.

Seishirou chuckles, kisses him again.

Tadaima.”

 


 

staring at each other from across the room like the lovestruck idiots they are

“Would you stop it already?”

Subaru blinks; Kamui’s face has invaded his field of vision, eyes blazing an eerie blue-lilac. Subaru raises an eyebrow, trying to convey his confusion without actually saying anything. Kamui tends to react badly when questioned.

“Don’t make that face!” Kamui growls and, okay, maybe Subaru had overdone the, who, me? look of innocence. “You know perfectly well what you are doing, so stop. IT.”

Kamui sits back in a flurry of hormonal teenage drama. Subaru blinks down at him – he is so tiny, seriously, Subaru wants to steal him away and hide him somewhere safe until all this craziness blows over – and wonders what had gotten their mighty leader prissy this early in the morning. Not that their current situation is not nerve-wrecking: Subaru would like to know who exactly had come up with the idea to hold monthly meetings with the Dragons of Earth. They see enough of their opposite stars without being forced into pleasantries, thank you very much.

Across from him, Seishirou leans back into his chair and winks.

Subaru narrows his eyes. He has a bone to pick with whoever was responsible for the searing arrangements, as well. He bets it was Kanoe. Subaru turns his head to glare at Kanoe, who is sitting at the head of the conference-sized table next to a nervous Seiichirou. She blows him a kiss.

Definitely Kanoe.

On the opposite side of the room, Arashi is presenting last month’s damage report. She is attempting to make a case against taking human lives before the End has been decided. Given that Fuuma, the person responsible for 99% of reported bystander deaths, is ignoring her completely and trying to play footsie with someone – Kamui stomps loudly and curses – with Kamui does not bode well for the meeting as a whole.

Seishirou’s eyes crinkle at the corners. The bastard is smiling, Subaru realizes: mouth curved up, eye glinting gold in the dim light. Because they are in a basement, of course – the Dragons of Earth are hosting, after all. Subaru maintains his glare bravely, even as his cheeks and neck flush a soft pink.

The glint in Seishirou’s eyes goes from amused to hungry in the span of a hearbeat.

Subaru swallows; Seishirou tracks the motion of his throat, licks his lips. Under the table, Subaru spreads his legs, taps his foot. He is suddenly restless.

And hot. Much, much too hot.

Subaru,” Kamui hisses.

The table may be long, but it is not too wide across. In addition, Seishirou and Subaru are both taller than most, which means that their legs would have been a breath away from brushing even if they sat primly in their sears. Subaru’s nervous fidgeting has led to brushing against Seishirou more than once. The contact burns, even through two layers of fabric.

Then Seishirou stretches his leg and presses his calf firmly, unapologetically against Subaru’s and Subaru –

Subaru moans.

“AAARGH!”

Subaru startles, cracks his knees against the table in his hurry to pull away. Manages to do so just in time, as the very next second the entire table flips in the air – all seven meters of it – and explodes in confetti of wooden dust.

“STOP TOUCHING ME!” Kamui screams. He is so red in the face Subaru actually fears for his health.

Fuuma, slouched so far down in his chair his ass hangs off the seat (he had not been as fortunate in the seating arrangement department as Seishirou) blinks at him. A moment later, his handsome face twists into a leer and he—

Oh, goodness. Subaru blushes and looks away from the very provocative hip-thrusting happening a few seats down.

Then the ground starts shaking and Subaru really, really wishes he had called in sick today.

A hand at his elbow, a shadow at his back – Subaru turns, tips his chin back and glares at Seishirou. Seishirou smiles down at him, sharp and wide.

“Would you care for some ice-cream?”

Subaru thinks about punching the man, right in his smug face – thinks about screaming, shouting, crying his frustration away.

A chair sails by him, along with what appear to be Kamui’s pants.

“Sure,” he says instead, “Lead the way.”

 


 

meeting again after being separated for a year nine years

They are in the supermarket of all places.

Subaru knows he is staring. Quite rudely, too, and whilst blocking a good portion of the dry foods aisle, but. It is him. The man casually browsing the fresh fish display, shoulders wide beneath a heavy, black coat –

It is him.

Subaru realizes he has dropped the can of coffee he had been holding when the man turns, fixes him with a politely detached stare.

A blink, and the eyes sharpen. Subaru knows he has been recognized, as well.

The man moves forward. Step by step, until he stands but a meter from Subaru. Their eyes have not left each other; around them, the store's patrons are growing nervous. This is a breach of custom, an aggression few would presume. Subaru wants to laugh. Seishirou’s eyes are the least destructive of his features. His mouth, for one—

Subaru’s eyes slide to Seishirou’s lips. The man is not smiling, not frowning. Not speaking, either, which means he is not lying.

Not yet.

The lips part – Subaru crosses the distance between them, presses a hand against the older man’s mouth. Surprise flickers in the eye not shrouded in milky fog; Subaru shakes his head.

Not yet.

Subaru bends, picks up the can of coffee lying by Seishirou’s left foot. He puts it back on a shelf heavy with tea and coco and yet more coffee, then turns and walks away.

His footsteps echo double. Seishirou’s shadow cloaks his shoulders.

They walk this way – Subaru leading, Seishirou following a step behind – through the entire store, out the door, down a busy street. When Subaru pauses for a red light at the end of the block Seishirou bridges the gap between them with a single stride. They stand shoulder to shoulder as they wait for blue-green to bathe the striped crosswalk.

When they set off again, it is Seishirou who guides their steps. Subaru does not mind, dances along with the man as they turn and twist through Tokyo’s heart. He is not too surprised when they stop before a cafe – allows Seishirou to hold the door for him, pull his chair out with patient grace. Not all of it had been an illusion, and Subaru does appreciate good manners.

Their waitress is a bit taken aback to receive orders via the tapping of long fingers against laminated menu pages, but does not ask questions. Perhaps she thinks them mute. Subaru does not much care – not for her opinion, not for the coffee she places before him.

They spend an hour sitting across from each other. Subaru drinks in the face of this man, his real face, and wonders. Seishirou does the same. Their coffee cools in cups of gentle porcelain, untouched.

They stand to leave. Seishirou pays, leaving a healthy tip. He holds the door for Subaru on the way out, too – walks close enough to share warmth, but not close enough to touch. The night has grown cold, the wind – vicious. Subaru does not feel a thing.

They walk together the entire way to Subaru’s apartment building. Seishirou escorts him to the door, lingers in the doorway as Subaru walks inside.

Subaru turns. His eyes sting with the light of the foyer; he can no longer see Seishirou’s body in the darkness outside, only the pale planes of his face. Subaru nods – in recognition, in greeting, in mourning. Seishirou nods back.

Subaru turns away.

The building’s glass door swings shut between them. Subaru does not look back to see if Seishirou is still outside, strides to the elevator and presses the arrow up. The doors ding open almost immediately. Subaru walks inside, presses the button bearing the number seven. Closes his eyes.

Outside, the wind’s wail sounds like the shriek of a hawk.

 


 

being incrediblybly, absolutely, blissfully happy

The moon is full.

It is mid-August. The skies above Tokyo have been washed clean during the watery months of June and July and now stand clear of fog and clouds. The moon shines in them, a full-faced Goddess in a bed of black-blue satin. Beautiful.

Subaru leans back, burrows closer into the warmth that surrounds him. It is hot in August, even at night, yet he finds himself cold with the absence of his shadow – however brief.

“The night is wonderful, Seishirou-san,” he breathes.

A low chuckle. Warm lips press to Subaru’s cheek, his neck, his ear. Subaru smiles at that last touch, smothers a giddy laugh.

Far below, a car honks its horn. A few more squeals follow. Subaru cranes his neck, watches a line of metal boxes roll in gray lanes. The Bridge shines down on them, too – colors them in reds and oranges and yellows. Its glow is nothing compared to the moon’s radiance, of course, but it is charming.

“They rebuilt it rather well,” Seishirou comments.

Subaru nods his head in agreement. If anything, humans are enduring creatures.

“I hope you no longer feel guilty over it, Subaru-kun?”

Seishirou’s voice is hesitant, measured. Subaru laughs in response.

“No,” he shakes his head, turns his face to kiss Seishirou’s cheek. “Not for a long time now.”

“Good.” He does think it good, Subaru realizes – the word is sincere, the sentiment behind it too. He kisses Seishirou again for it, then again just because. Seishirou is grinning against his lips after the third kiss, takes the fourth, fifth, sixth-seventh himself.

The moon slips across the sky. The traffic below has dwindled to one or two lonely cars every hour. It is getting late.

“We should go,” Subaru says. Seishirou nods and stands. He offers Subaru his hand. Subaru takes it, rises up and keeps going – pushes to his tip-toes and kisses Seishirou on the nose, just because. Just to see the older man wrinkle his eyebrows, draw his eyes together for a brief second of confusion.

Seishirou smiles. He smiles so much now, Subaru thinks – so much more than when he had been—

But that thought makes him sad, so he stops, grips Seishirou’s hand tighter.

“Shall we?” Seishirou asks.

Subaru smiles. “After you.” Seishirou nods. He walks to the very edge, turns to face Subaru, and –

Falls.

Subaru watches as Seishirou’s body tumbles backwards and clear off the bridge. His coat whips about him, billows out like shadowy wings – so graceful, Seishirou-san. Even in this.

Within seconds, Seishirou is gone from sight. Subaru takes a breath, then another; smoothes his palms down the front of his coat. He does not enjoy this part as much as Seishirou-san, but still-

He jumps.

The world whirls by him: a rainbow of colors, sounds, feelings. The wind bites his face; a moment later, there is no more air. The burn of water in his chest is worse. Tokyo Bay is cold, even in August, even for Subaru. But Seishirou-san is waiting for him on the banks, and so he prevails – over waves, wind, the earth itself.

Subaru breaks above the water, takes a breath.

“I did not think you would follow me, that night.”

Seishirou’s hand. Subaru takes it, uses the man’s strength to pull himself on the shore. “And what would I have done, all alone?” he laughs through lungs filled with water. Seishirou does not respond, does not let go – not even after Subaru’s breaths calms, his limbs cease shaking. They walk together, hand in hand, along the darkened pier and further, into the city. It is easy to lose one’s way here, among so many human streets. But the moon paints their path and they thread the ground easily, reach the Park with hours of night to spare.

Seishirou and Subaru pause at the Park's entrance, look about. There is no one to see them press close, kiss; no one to comment on the thread that binds their fingers together, thin and scarlet – like blood.

The moon disappears behind the tip of a far-off mountain. Bathed in darkness, they break apart to smile sightlessly into each other’s eyes.

“Let’s go,” Seishirou says. “They are waiting.”

Subaru listens. Girlish laughter breaks the silence in the distance. The clear notes are echoed by a deeper, calmer voice. “Yes,” he smiles, breathes in the night.

“Let’s.”

They disappear in the park, two shadows among many. The moon no longer guides their steps, but they cannot lose their way now – will not stray from a path made of pink-dyed sakura petals.