fandom - Tokyo Babylon
title - aozora no shita
pairing - sei + su
rating - pg
description - Caught between the past and the present, Hokuto helplessly watches Subaru's kindness slowly kill both of them as she crosses a line she knows she shouldn't break.

Disclaimer – TB isn't mine and "Kiss Kiss" is from Matsuoka Hideaki. The poem is.

aozora no shita. (under the blue sky.)
By miyamoto yui

"It will only be one year…Onee-chan."

He couldn't even say those words as the cracks in his little voice came out, like static coming through a bad telephone connection, and here my ears were trying to let the message get lost through the particles in the air. That's how you could deal with things when you were a kid. If you didn't see it, then it didn't exist within your sphere of existence. If you didn't hear it, then it was never said.

But as I held my dinner plate in my hands, it was jumping to drop to the floor. Instead, I turned my head towards his direction. Instead of going to the kitchen to calm down, I just put it on the floor and walked over to Subaru's part of the table where the food was again left uneaten because he was thinking too much to pay attention to himself.

Before I knew it, my arms instinctively went around him. Any sibling would do that kind of thing without thinking, actually. After all, you only have each other. But, to tear yourself voluntarily-what did that mean? Certainly, it didn't mean a decrease in the level of love. This trip to go for deeper training was for the family.
Everything, every single detail in our lives, was devoted to this name: Sumeragi.

My rose-colored dress was stained before I could go outside to play. Subaru's honest tears fell, with guilt bound to every single drop, and each one made its way into my heart, pounding the door more and more shut for only him to access. Was this the lock that made me unable to let anyone else inside me?
"You have to learn how to control your power or else it will ricochet on Hokuto like last time." This was what grandmother said while I passed by during a training session. They were both kneeling before one another on the tatami mats. "The one you love the most is the one you will always be wary of hurting, Subaru-kun."
Grating these things into his tiny heart, with his own invisible plug, he kept it all bottled on a secret shelf called black gloves. Their secrets and warm compassion for anyone that it touched made them heavier and heavier for Subaru to carry.
"That's why you need to leave for this year. To make yourself stronger."

These words blasted through my ears and they burned red from my heart pumping so loudly. All I could do was hold him tighter and tighter. For the first time in his life, in a tiny voice, he said, "I want to be where Hokuto-chan is…I don't want to be here anymore…"

Holding someone won't do anything. That's what I learned that day. They'll feel your calmness when you breathe slowly and say soothing words to them.

"It's okay, Subaru. I'll be right here when you come back."

In other words, you'll pretend to breathe in the same rhythm, but your thoughts won't ever coincide.

All he could do was cry. They couldn't understand that he was only nine. And here was Subaru trying to live two lifetimes at a time: To be a grown-up in a little body that never really saw people his age. He was never really able to be a child, and he was not emotionally ready to take the responsibility of an adult.
He just saw auras and met all kinds of people from a range of ages and backgrounds, but they wouldn't have needed him again. He was just a visitor like an apothecary that gave comfort through medicine and moved on, the only person who knew all the stories of the people along his long, endless trail.

So, by the time he came back, no matter how much I missed him, I had to build myself into the type of person that could be as strong as him. That way, we could always walk together on the same path. Even if you have the same face, when you grow up, you realize that circumstances will tear your hands apart. You will eventually separate.

This is the way of the world.

I'm just no good at letting go.

*/*/*/*

Why? Why now?
As I took the JR home, many years later, I watched the subway pass so quickly from station to station. People come in and people go out. They didn't smile and they looked tired even though it was the weekend.
I looked around and wondered why we'd come to this place. We came from Kyoto to protect it and yet it was killing him. By killing him, you're killing me too, Tokyo.

Everyday, I wondered if I was beginning to become immersed in Sei-chan's view of Tokyo as the sakura that everyone anticipated to see. But since people didn't know how to preserve it, they couldn't help but become sad at its departure, only to forget until it comes back again the next year. And yet, wasn't the pink color from something not so beautiful?

Wasn't that with everything, though? From ugliness, depending on how you cared for it, then, it always had the potential to become the kind of beauty you wanted it to be? But that was a misconception. Beauty only came from the gardener's affection and the will of the plant to grow.

As for me, I always thought of Tokyo as a multi-layered ocean. On the surface everything and everyone looked all the same, but as you swam deeper, there were all kinds of feelings and colors.
Only, could you handle swimming deeper knowing you'd never make it back to the surface, the place you came from?

So, swimming like this, I thought I could do everything. I thought I understood everything about you, Subaru.

It was then that I decided to get off at Ueno instead of going straight home. When I got off, I walked up the steps to stop at the fountain where water spouted out from a frog's mouth. I hugged myself. For the first time ever, I didn't dress appropriately. I hated the weather forecast.

Why did I get off here of all places? But I knew very well that this was Subaru's favorite spot. He never told me in so many words, but I knew. His troubled face always seemed to become calmer when he walked around the borders of the park.
There were times I wanted to ask him, but it wouldn't have mattered anyway. He wouldn't have been able to tell me because he himself didn't understand the effect it gave him.

The tree-lined lane always made him stop and there I stopped to breathe in the cold air.

Then, some feet away, I heard your quivering voice singing,

"I want to find my train someday
as seasons go past the station."

Ducking down and turning around to peer through the bushes, I blinked, worried and frustrated. You sat at the top of the steps that led towards the pond, but your profile was staring at those sakura trees that always made so sad and joyful at the same time. Why were you here so late, Subaru?!
I saw you press your hands to your eyes. "No one told me to go, but I did in the middle of the night. I went to visit a girl's house. She was someone who worked at a patisserie store and she always gave me cakes to cheer me up. Does my face look unhappy, I always wonder to myself…
"I saw her on the train, but I couldn't get to her and I got off at the next stop, I had a feeling I should visit her again. But when I got there, her apartment was surrounded with police. It was then that I found out that she had died due to starvation."

He sobbed again from the core of his being, shaking all over. It was like the time he left me that one year, when from all those years before, he and I never spent a whole day apart. And he had to leave before he could say goodbye in the morning so that it would be 'easier'.

As I was about to get up to walk over to him, someone stood up from two steps below Subaru's. There was no mistaking that handsome figure even in this darkness.

Seishirou-san was there…
…at a place I thought was only mine…

He knelt down on his knees to take off Subaru's gloves from his face and kissed his eyes, tasting the tears with his lips. "Did you touch anything to understand what had happened?"
"After some talking, I was able to go into her room if I could give any information to help them figure out anything more." He looked directly at Seishirou's face where more tears were falling.
"There was nothing but happiness from her room."

"Isn't that good then?" Sei-chan slid up his left hand from patting Subaru's chest and up his neck to hold onto his cheek. "I don't understand. Isn't that what all people aim for?"

"There are as many happinesses and lonelinesses as there are people in the world, Seishirou-san." Subaru looked down to the floor, unable to look into his eyes. "I met that woman when she was feeding some of the homeless people at Ueno Park when I was coming back from one of my jobs one night.
"She wasn't physically beautiful or fashionable, just ordinary. Someone who probably had more power than me- because you could feel the love in the cakes she baked even though she was just an assistant…"

"Then why are you-"
"I stole her notebook even though I had no right to." Subaru held onto Sei-chan's shoulders. "I wanted to know what she knew."

My heart fell to the floor and my whole body with it. I put my hands to my mouth.

"And then I read her story from the first day she came to Tokyo. No matter what happened, she kept on going, knowing a better future lay ahead and always looking forward to something. She would look out her window and have fun hoping that the sun would shine that day." Then, he sobbed again. "I still wanted to ask her things even though she was older than you, Seishirou-san.
"I wanted to ask her why I felt out of place in the country I've always been in. Why is it that even if I smile for someone else in this place, it doesn't do a thing? Why am I now questioning what I thought was already done?
"Why was she able to live so full a life even though she hardly had anything? I now understand that she and the people in Ueno were no different, so she didn't ostracize them as everyone who turned their heads away. It hurts when people treat others as dead when they're not. And then there are these spirits that ask to be heard so that they could say they fulfilled something within their lives. I just don't understand!"

It was then that Sei-chan laughed as he got up. He sat on the same step as Subaru and pulled Subaru to sit on his lap even though he slightly protested and turned so crimson he was quivering not from the cold. He held him as tightly as he could with his forearms crossed, pressing his forehead to Subaru's back.
"You're just going through another transition phase in your life. You're discovering that holding back, giving love, and showing compassion clash in reality. You've been blessed to not endure these hardships that everyday people go through in order to survive in a basic way. You have the option to devote all your time and energy into things and people, but in doing so, because you've learned on a deeper level about things and people, you take it all in. And these become the hardships you face. Everyday, you live your life through helping someone else's experience which you share, but isn't your own."

"I only want to do what I need to as an onmyouji, but be able to fulfill my dreams as well, Seishirou-san. Sometimes, I don't know where that lies."
At that moment, Subaru pressed his lips to Sei-chan's hands and Sei-chan blinked out of surprise. "It seems the closer I get to you, I have to give a definite choice on whether I want to live on as an onmyouji or as a man. There isn't room for both."

I held onto a piece of the bush in front of me until my hand began to bleed…

Sei-chan's voice whispered lovingly, "Subaru-kun…"

"I want to be ordinary." It wasn't an answer, just a wish that finally bubbled to the surface.
Subaru took his lips away from those cold hands and looked at the shrine at the bottom of the steps. He then lifted up his hands and watched them carefully.

Capturing his hands, Sei-chan held pulled them back to embrace them as well.
"But you weren't meant to be. You're stronger than you'll ever think yourself to be," Sei-chan said with a smiling voice.
But in the next second, he held him tighter, making Subaru twitch a little. In a low, harsh tone, he added, "That's why I chose you."

And it was then that Seishirou turned his head to look at me through the bushes. His eyes pierced thoroughly into mine as he smirked, wrapping his arms under Subaru's off-white, short-sleeved turtleneck. Subaru jerked from the coldness but didn't move to push him away.

It was the second time I ever saw Subaru wail with such a sad, inhuman way. He let himself go while he was with Sei-chan.
Maybe with Seishirou, he was always himself…

"I want to be where you are. That's where I'm happy," those melancholic tears, the slightly happy smile silently told me. Where Sei-chan was…

Then, I discovered, I wasn't as strong as I thought I was.

That wall where jealousy for a sibling or for a lover became hazy, broke in one breath and in one look…
In that second I saw Seishirou's look and Subaru's response, I got up and found myself running away as not wanting to see it all. Silently, my soft shoes quietly ran faster and faster. I ran without a destination. Even as I took a cab to get to the ocean, I was seeing the sun rise.
When I got to the ocean, the wind was high and the tides were too.

"This is so stupid! I shouldn't feel this way! And not about him!"
Looking up to the blue sky with sorrowful eyes, I wondered what I had done all these years. In trying to be someone that could carry everything, I too forgot myself.
He and I were no different, just the opposite sides of the same bright, but blinding mirror…

Then, I went to Shibuya to pass a tall, gray building which had a large glass window. I never knew what it was for, but there was a poem for everyone to see. Everyone could have passed it without reading, but I always made a point to read it because it reverberated within me every time I read it:

"I fell asleep thinking about you again.
I'm swimming alone in the sea.
I don't know how to.
My tears mean nothing
When I'm already submerged
In all this water.
Do you remember who I am?

Aren't you just beyond the door?
Only an ocean away?
Why has the water

Suddenly turned into red bubbles?

This doesn't mean anything.
I'm sure,
I write in between my tears
Too prideful to let them fall.

Yeah, I thought of you today
For the sake of a better tomorrow,
Does that mean
I have to tear myself apart?

There are times of sadness
And that of joy.
I hope that under the same sky,
Though not in the same time,
I feel you hug me.

I was really warm
Until I had woken up.

And then,
I knew you were no longer
With me."

If for Subaru, the fragile sakura suffocating him was his undoing, for me, it was drowning in the sea of dynamic shades of blue creating and forming all that was Subaru.

Today, I didn't read the poem.
I had already memorized it and recited it aloud with blurry eyes.

The poem was no longer there.
All I could hear was my heartbeat deadening to the cold around me.

I will stand here for a while wiping my tears and then head home. I will walk through and make breakfast as I always do and I'll smile and laugh as always whenever I see your sincere, puffy eyes and that silent pout.
Yes, as always...

Even though your smile carries all the experiences of everyone you've been with, mine is made from trying to be the kind of person that could make you break that smile to show me all your emotions, even if I sealed my own within myself.
Funny, how people work this double-standard of contrasts with themselves.

That is all I can do for you.

I'll hold myself back from kissing your mouth to drown out all the salty flavor of your tears...

And soon, you'll learn this lesson that grandmother told us a long time ago when I waited for you: "When the person you cherish most passes you by, you have to be strong enough to gracefully step back to let them do so. It is for them to show you how much stronger they've become."

"But I'm not there yet, Subaru. Give me more time…"
…under this blue where I can't tell if it's the ocean or the sky…

You don't remember though. She told me to stay behind after telling us that lesson and she gave me a stern scold in just one hard look. "Not him, Hokuto. It can't be him."
I shrugged my shoulders, pretending not to know what she meant.

For, before I am your sister,
I am a woman, Subaru.

Owari.
-
Author's note: Oh, it's been quite a long time. And even though I wanted to make so many things, I only had time now. I have many things to reflect here in Tokyo and it's given me new inspiration for Tokyo Babylon. *smile* Since I feel out of touch, I should at least reflect here, as I usually do. XD I just wanted to make a fic from a different angle of Hokuto. ^_^v
I hope that you enjoyed this fic! I'm rusty. *winces* Aiya, me and my weird fics…

(I went to Ueno today (Tokyo time) to celebrate Su's and Hokuto's birthday!)

Thank you for beta-ing, Rei-chan!

Love always,
Yui

2/19/2006 5:53:27 AM / LA
2/19/06 10:53 PM / Tokyo