The Writing Team of AXQA presents:

Paradigm Shift

An Alternate Universe Tokyo Babylon/X:1999 fanfiction

Chapter 10: The Promise of Power

Imonoyama Nokoru considered himself a cheerful person, ready to deal with just about anything life threw at him. He was brilliant, handsome, rich beyond the wildest dreams of most men, and talented beyond measure. While his athletic skills weren't always up to par (except when a damsel was in distress), he had a faithful ninja who was loyal to him above all else, and a talented chef who doubled as a thief. All in all, he led a pretty charmed life.

When he was sixteen, his mother dropped the secret of the Foreordained Day on him, and that had thrown him for a loop. He'd spent nine years preparing the campus to house the Shinken when it arrived, but he hadn't counted on one thing… or maybe two - Shirou Kamui and Monou Fuuma.

Who would have guessed that the savior of the world would be a brat who could have cared less about saving the world? And when that boy finally made up his mind to protect the world, who would have guessed that his best friend, one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet, would proclaim himself the Kamui's twin star, slaughter his sister, and all in all wreak havoc on the campus? Hinoto probably had known, but getting information out of her that she didn't want to tell was like squeezing water from stones.

It was enough to make Nokoru want to cry.

The large waiting room was becoming uncomfortably filled. There was a tension in the air among all the gathered. Nokoru was displeased to see one of the young girls, apparently a Seal, sobbing. He had never liked to see a damsel in distress.

"Don't worry," he said kindly to Yuzuriha, while trying to pitch his voice loud enough so others in the room could hear and be assured, too. "The best doctors are working on Kamui, they've told me he will be all right. Who would like to see him first?"

Sorata quickly piped up. "I'll go! Kamui knows me."

The others exchanged glances and nodded. "That would be best," the girl who had been introduced to him as Arashi said.

Nokoru nodded. "I should tell you, though, that Kamui seems to have gone into shock. While his body is responding, he just… doesn't seem to be there."

The two girls exchanged looks, and the smaller girl stroked the air at her side, apparently taken comfort from the action. Had he not been informed, he would have thought she was mad, but he knew that she was of the Mitsumine Shrine. Her familiar was probably beside her. "What's wrong?"

"He's healing at a remarkable rate because of his powers, but there's no response mentally. He's not damaged neurological, but it's like his brain's asleep," Nokoru said. "We've seen cases like this before, but there's no scientific explanation. It's like a part of him just shut down," Nokoru said, searching for the right words.

Sorata laid a hand on Arashi's shoulder. "Don't worry, I'll do my best to try. We need Kamui."

A short while later, Sorata returned to meet five pairs of expectant eyes. His shoulders were bowed as he shook his head silently. Everyone in the room remained frozen, wondering what was to happen now.

It was just at that moment when the large doors to the room swung open. Everyone's attention was seized by the striking pair standing between them. For a moment, everyone blinked wondering at their strange double vision.

The woman was dressed in a cutting edge outfit, in trendy black. Her flaring black shirt met knee-high boots which ended in a chunky heels, and her tube-top revealed a toned stomach. She was wearing a calve-length cloak that flared around her, and her short cropped hair was testament that she was a woman of the modern era.

Her companion, on the other hand, was wearing the traditional white robes of an onmyouji. Their bleached purity swept around him, emphasizing the pallor of his face. His black hair stood against his collar, and the careful watchfulness of his eyes swept the room. They were striking, but what made them even more amazing was that aside from their gender, their faces and features were perfectly matched.

Nokoru blinked, coming to the obvious conclusion. "Sumeragi-san?" he asked. "I had heard you had a twin, but I didn't realize she was so pretty," he continued gallantly.

The man bowed slightly, and the woman nodded a bit, giving a washed out smile. "I'm Sumeragi Subaru," the man said, bowing to the group. He looked around at the others. "Hello, Kishuu-san, Nekoi-san," he said softly. "I'm sorry we had to meet again like this."

His speaking her name snapped Yuzuriha out of her trance. "Subaru-san!" she exclaimed, and she rose out of her chair, barreling at him to grip him in a tight hug. "Did you hear?"

Subaru's eyes held an infinite measure of sadness. He had very quickly concluded on Kamui's state when he first saw him, lying there on that stretcher being taken away. He knew he might be the only chance of bringing Kamui back. It was not only his duty, his responsibility; this was something he wanted to do for the young man.

"I know what's wrong with Kamui," he replied shortly. Pushing through the crowd, he headed towards where Kamui lay. No nurse made any move to stop him, and the rest of the Seals trailed after him.

Subaru winced a bit at the sight of him, looking so fragile, hanging onto Kotori's head. He settled himself as comfortably as he could beside him, mentally preparing his chant. He brushed back the sleeves of his white shikifuku and placed his hands on Kamui's forehead.

"What is he doing?" Sorata wondered.

Hokuto stared at her brother for an instant, wondering the same as well, before she raised her hand to her mouth in a silent gasp. "Subaru…" she whispered, her heart clenching in fear for her twin. "He's going to go Within Kamui!" she said.

"Within?" Daisuke asked, coming over to them, speaking for the first time.

Sorata understood what was happening as soon as Hokuto said it. He studied the ritually garbed main who knelt beside the boy, and started to offer silent prayers. "He's going to go inside Kamui's heart and try to bring him out. He must believe that Kamui has been so traumatized that he's hiding from the world. This is dreadfully dangerous."

Subaru ignored the commentary and focused on his chant. The soothing lyric of the words rolled off his tongue, as his consciousness faded from reality and entered... somewhere.

The silence and darkness that surrounded Subaru was initially disturbing. An all pervading sense of loneliness seized Subaru, and he almost despaired. How was he to find Kamui like this? Then he realized the loneliness he felt wasn't his; it was Kamui's. The moment he did so, he began to fall into the darkness and a rush of wind began buffeting him. Subaru squirmed about, shielding his face from the worst of the cuts.

Suddenly a dragon roared, furiously rushing up towards him with great speed. Subaru flinched, and fought back a desire to strike out at it. He knew Kamui's consciousness was merely protecting itself, and he wasn't surprised to find it was a dragon. Just when it appeared he would be consumed, he fell again, deeper and deeper, whirling down to the centre of the nexus that was Kamui's heart.

"Kamui?" he called softly. He moved slowly, knowing that to force his way in would damage Kamui's mind. He had gone Within people before, but Kamui had the power to hurt or even kill Subaru if he decided to.

"Kamui?" he called again, and the nearly overwhelming wave of hopelessness sought to drag him in, and remind Subaru that he was too weak, too gentle, to be a ten no ryu… he shouldn't be here… he wasn't good enough…. he would get Hokuto and Seishirou killed if he continued on this path…

A hawk shrieked, cutting through the miasma that threatened to drown Subaru, and Subaru looked up in amazement as a shikigami circled him once before fading. Still, it had done its job, and he snapped out of his despair.

He realized that it wasn't his thoughts, but Kamui's trying to drag him under. Kamui was powerful, more powerful than Subaru, and it wouldn't be through magic that Subaru would win this. He could only bring Kamui out by talking to him, and showing him that there was hope; and words were a weak spell indeed. Still, he would take that chance. Subaru had been too weak to save the girl or prevent the dark Kamui… Fuuma… from awakening. He would help Kamui now.

Subaru pushed forward, staggering a little across the treacle-like surface. While motion held no meaning here, it helped him focus on reaching Kamui. His efforts were reward when Subaru saw a light. A child was kneeling by a large sword, sobbing as if his heart was breaking. Again and again, images of the scene at the rooftop replayed themselves around him. Subaru frowned. This would not do.

Reaching out, Subaru seized Kamui's hands. "Kamui," he said in his gentlest voice, "will you let me help you?"

Kamui stopped his keening and turned a tear stained face at the bright figure before him. "Who are you?" he asked astonished.

"I'm Sumeragi Subaru," Subaru smiled at the beautiful innocent child. So this was his Kamui. Subaru was glad. He longed to hug him but he knew for now that wasn't the right track to take. He knelt down beside Kamui and said, "You're hurting a lot right now, huh?"

The child looked at him with bright violet eyes that were too old for his age. "Don't kill Kotori and Fuuma… Please... don't kill the two of them..." he begged.

Around the child, the scene exploded, and Subaru was suddenly back on the rooftop, except it was Kamui that pinned Fuuma to the wall, and Kamui who was raising the sword against Kotori.

Subaru shut his eyes, tears falling freely. "Kamui… it didn't happen this way."

"It might as well have…" the boy whispered, before the scene shifted to what really happened, and the birth of the Dark Kamui. "I was the one who made the decision. I was the one who doomed Fuuma and Kotori! I was the one who did nothing!"

Subaru clutched at Kamui's fists, trying to hold him back from plunging into absolute insanity. "Please, Kamui, listen to me..."

Kamui looked at Subaru and the question that was foremost in his heart burst forth. "Why did Fuuma hurt Kotori? Does this mean he's bad now?"

Subaru's heart went out to the young child now forced to bear so much responsibility for the world. It wasn't fair. With that thought, he made up his mind to do his best for Kamui, to help him shoulder some of this terrible weight that was on him. He settled himself down beside him. "No, Kamui, you mustn't think that," Subaru said. "You care a lot for Fuuma, right?"

"But it's all my fault!" Kamui protested. "I promised to protect him and I couldn't, I couldn't. I feel so useless."

That sentiment struck a chord deep within Subaru. "Listen carefully to me," Subaru said, feeling like he was walking on a razor's edge. "We all feel that way sometimes. We all take responsibility for things that aren't our faults…"

"Who's fault is it?"

Subaru wished he dared touch the child, but knew it would have to be Kamui to make the first physical contact. Kamui would have to make that decision. "There is no answer, Kamui. We only know the facts but… We don't know the "truth". I can't tell you what to think - it's up to you to interpret what you learn. But I do know… that to stay beside your most precious one is the most important thing in the world for you."

Kamui smiled a bit tremulously at that, inching closer to the Sumeragi.

Subaru continued to speak. "It won't be easy," he said, turning to watch the backdrop where the scene of Fuuma transforming kept repeating. "If you don't leave this dream, nothing will begin and nothing will end. Things will only get worse."

Kamui seemed to come awake, and suddenly he snapped to attention. "Where are we?"

Subaru knew that now, more than ever, he had to speak carefully. "Something heart-breaking happened... You chose not to stay in the Real World to consider and choose your next path. You... ran away from reality." He turned his green eyes onto Kamui. "We're at the bottom of your heart, and only you can climb out of it."

"Why… Are you here?"

Subaru paused a bit to consider how he would answer. "At first, it was because it was my duty. I'm a Seal, one of the Dragons of Heaven, and its my destiny to stand by your side. But," Subaru couldn't stop himself from blushing a bit as he gathered his courage to say what he had to. "I think I could care for you greatly. I see you, Kamui, You're a person, not an ideal. Don't let anyone tell you differently. What you care about, what you want to do, it's all important, don't forget that."

Kamui listened intently, his wide eyes taking in Subaru's earnestness. He edged a bit closer to Subaru. "But it hurts," he said pitifully.

Subaru nodded. "Yes, living hurts, but if you stay here, you can't change anything."

"If I return, will I be able to get Fuuma back?"

Subaru braced himself. Here in the place that was Kamui's heart, only the truth would do. "I don't know that. But you can only try. Do you really want him back?"

Kamui tipped his head up and down.

"Even if he regrets the death of his sister?" Subaru pressed. He wanted Kamui to be aware of all the consequences of his action.

"Yes, even so. Even if I have to lie to him."

"Then come back with me." Subaru shivered suddenly, pain lancing through him and he half collapsed at Kamui's feet. He knew that out in the real world, his body was taking the brunt of the backlash.

"Subaru!" Kamui exclaimed, frightened. He bent forward and gathered Subaru into his arms, clinging to him. "Don't leave me!"

Subaru gave him a smile. "This is your heart, Kamui. You need to choose… your Wish to return Fuuma is powerful… but you will know pain. Choose, Kamui…To continue living inside your memories blaming yourself. Or to awaken for the sake of your Wish." He smiled, and held onto the boy. "If you awaken, I will be beside you, with your fellow Seals. We will do our best to make your Wish become the new reality…"

"I want to bring Fuuma back. .. Because... I couldn't protect... Kotori... I want to protect Fuuma more than ever," Kamui said, holding onto Subaru tightly.

Subaru rocked the child back and forth for a moment, then took his shoulders in his white-gloved hands. "Then. For the sake of that Wish… Come back," he whispered.

Around them both, the landscape shattered, and Subaru was thrown out of Kamui's heart as Kamui made his decision, the second momentous one that evening.

Consciousness slowly seeped back to Subaru. Soft. He was lying on something very soft. Blinking, he raised his head to meet concerned stares. He smiled serenely, his face transformed for a moment into angelic perfection. A stirring beneath him caught his attention.

Kamui was opening his eyes. For an intense moment that seemed to stretch on for eternity, the two Dragons of Heaven looked at each other, in perfect understanding. Kamui lifted a hand to touch Subaru's cheek as if unsure that the person before him was real. Subaru smiled, trying to assure him that he wasn't going anywhere. He knew Kamui had suffered enough loss for now. If he could stay and be a comfort to his leader, then he'd do his best.

Despite all his good intentions, his physical body could only take so much. A wave of dizziness stuck Subaru as the sakanagi descended on him in full force. All he was able to do was gasp "I'm sorry!" before collapsing atop the injured teenager. Just as he lost consciousness, he dimly felt Kamui's arms encircling him, a tentative hand clasping the back of his head. A soft whisper from Kamui's lips "Thank you, Subaru," was the last sound he heard before the darkness took him.

He liked to watched the birds.

Kakyou sat on the floor, his legs folded beneath him as he watched the birds outside his window. The bars on it obscured his view somewhat, but he could still see them fluttering about, and he knew more about them then most. He's taken to watching an avian specialist's dreams when he was younger, out of his curiosity for them.

He was awake, which was rare for him. He tended to sleep near eighteen hours a day, preferring the escape of his dreams from the reality of his life. He hated how he was a tool, to be used by the ones who should have loved him best. He hated the helpless feeling he got as he viewed the future, knowing he was powerless to change it.

His delicate hands clenched, remembering the feeling as the girl slipped away. He had tried to help there, but in the end had only revealed his existence to the Dark Kamui.

What had she said? The future can be changed… such naïve innocence. He wanted so badly to believe in her dying words to him, but even now he was waiting for the inevitable hand of destiny to take him within its grasps.

Even so, Kakyou couldn't regret it. It was change, and he'd enough of the unchanging tedium of his life. If it weren't for Hokuto... There he stopped, ambivalent feelings lancing through him at the thought of her name. She was his light, the only thing brightening his life, yet now, he was going to be mixed up in a fate that would only distress her.

The pretty thrush twittered outside his window. Kakyou was filled with envy for the bird. It knew nothing about the end of the world, nothing of being locked away, as if it were an object to be ashamed of, only to be brought out and paraded when monetary incentive was applied. He cursed at his 'talent,' and wished heartily for something much more useful. Why couldn't he have more proactive abilities?

A loud explosion shocked Kakyou from his reverie. He craned his neck out the window, trying to catch a glimpse for what was going on. Shouts and sounds of gunfire drifted up to him. He frowned, wondering if the black suited men guarding him would be capable of stopping the person who was coming for him.

Then he laughed inside, since he knew who was there. The chances of this being avoided were nil. He was going to be taken, and it was going to be now. And a part of him, a small part, reveled a bit in the fact that the intruder would cause absolute havoc for his family. For the ones who had been so cruel.

His lips twisted in a smile, and he turned to the birds at the window. "Sayonara," he said softly. "Thank you for being my friends. I'm going to be going somewhere else soon."

"Kakyou!" his mother said, and she rushed into the room, moving as fast as her restrictive clothing would allow her. "We need to move you!"

He turned his face to her, a slight smile playing on his lips. "Don't bother. He's here," Kakyou informed her gently.

His mother's eyes narrowed. "You knew about this, yet you didn't warn us?" she accused.

"Fate has a way of making sure things turn out the way it wants, telling you would have made no difference," he replied obliquely. He couldn't fault her for her care of him, though never once had he truly felt any affection from her. He wondered if it was just his mother who was like this, or if all women became that way. He shook his head – no, Hokuto-chan would never be like his mother, of that he was certain.

"Kakyou!" she exclaimed shocked. "Your father and I will not lose you, especially not to some madman. Come." She reached out her hand imperiously, used as she was to him obeying her.

Kakyou shook his head and backed away. "I think you should leave. The one coming is the Kamui. I don't want you to get hurt, please," he informed her. He thought this might be the very last time he ever spoke to her, and was a little astonished by how little that saddened him.

"He's not going with you," a confident and smooth voice said.

"You're late. It took you quite a while to get through those guards," Kakyou replied in a flat voice. His stomach was clenched with fear and anticipation, and he didn't know what to do. It was all he could manage to maintain his usual blasé attitude. He was finally being pulled into the events of life, and his hands shivered with excitement. He'd finally lay his real eyes on the Dark Kamui, instead of those of his dream self.

The Dark Kamui laughed, and then Monou Fuuma stepped into the room's dim light.

Kakyou hadn't expected him to be so young. He'd seen the face before many times, and he'd known, intellectually, that Fuuma was only in high school, but confronting him in real life made all the difference. His face was strong and sculpted, and his eyes gleamed with intelligence and wit, but there was a darkness under it. Ruthlessness. And above all, that deceptive youth…

Oh, we are fortune's fools, Kakyou thought bitterly. "Hello, Fuuma."

"I am Kamui," Fuuma said, with the air of one getting used to repeating himself.

Kakyou bowed his head in acknowledgment of the fact. Now that the crunch had come, he was surprisingly reluctant to go off with this young man. He shifted about a bit, unconsciously edging away. After all, he had never known what the world was like outside and he was afraid. He also didn't like the intensity of the stare that Fuuma was directing at him.

As if sensing Kakyou's unwillingness, Fuuma reached forward and grabbed his arm firmly. Pulling him up against his body, he said, "Come, weave your dreams for me and in return I will gift you with a part of your Wish," he murmured into Kakyou's ear.

"My Wish?" Kakyou shivered. It wasn't the young man that frightened him, it that something else in him, an inexorable power that was directing him. If this was fate, how could he resist? He would be swept away like chaff from wheat in a strong wind.

"I am the music maker - you are the dreamer of dreams. Together we shall reshape this world into the form it should be."

"Get away from him!" Kakyou's mother snapped. She had been frozen at the appearance of the stranger who had managed to get through the state-of-the-art defenses they had in place, but seeing her son, the golden goose, about to be taken away managed to shake her out of her shock.

Fuuma stepped towards her, though he retained a tight grip on Kakyou's hand. "I See your Wish are well… and it's such a petty thing. How could a mother lock her own son up for over twenty years, just for wealth?" he wondered. "It's people like you who make the Earth cry the loudest."

Kakyou's mother stumbled back, cowering. She turned beseeching eyes at her son. "Kakyou..."

Kakyou looked down, then softly he said, "Please don't hurt her."

Fuuma bent his head to examine him. For a moment he considered the yumemi, standing so pliantly in his grasp. "Well, if that's what you want," he said soberly. Turning to Kakyou's mother, he told her, "You're very fortunate. Your son seems to have some feeling for you after all."

Kakyou stared at the woman who had given birth to him. "No. Not at all… it's just that in the next few months, we'll see more than enough death and destruction. Why start with such an unnecessary life?" he asked.

Fuuma smirked a bit. "Indeed. We'll start with style… if you tell me how."

Kakyou shut his eyes. "You already know I will. I, like you, have no choice in the role I'm going to play." He snapped his sharp eyes to Fuuma's face. "But you promise you'll grant my Wish?"

"After the final battle, Kakyou, you will be free," Fuuma promised. "One way or another, you will be free. As for the other part? Well, that I'll get to work on right away."