[This is only the second fanfiction that I've written for this series, and the first actual long story...so bear with me. No, I -don't- have manga volume 16, and even if I did, I can't read Japanese...so it wouldn't help me. I've gone over scripts, seen the anime version, and pretty much know what goes on and what's said. Pretty much. What I'm saying is, if I get something wrong, don't kill me okay? I'll send Seishirou after you. ^^ Most of this will attempt to go along with the manga's past, of course, but things could get a little tweaky since I've both been watching the anime and reading the manga (what's in english so far).

I've no idea how this will turn out, if it'll be good, or if any eyes other than myself will ever read this. Oh, and this is an AU "what if" scenario of Rainbow Bridge, so there are definite SPOILERS for X manga vol. 16. So...enough of my babbling. ^^ ONWARD!]

SUMMARY: Subaru goes to see Hinoto before he leaves to protect Rainbow Bridge. She brings him into one of her Dreamscapes, intending to further deceive him, when Kakyou breaks into her Dream, much like he did with Kamui once. He wishes to honor Hokuto's purpose in casting her last spell, so Kakyou then tells Subaru of Seishirou's intentions at the Bridge, and thus changes the events there. In other words, this is Feye's attempt at fixing Rainbow Bridge. Everyone tries it, so why not? ^^ Don't worry, I DO get original ideas. Just check my Escaflowne fanfiction for proof of THAT.

RULES OF THE GAME: PART ONE by Feye Morgan

An Oracle once told the people of Athens that wooden walls would save their city. There was confusion at her words, and no one knew quite what she meant. However, they bowed their heads to her wisdom, and went forth to battle.

The wooden walls did indeed save Athens.

It makes one wonder why yumemi dream at all. If what they see is Fate, then why Foresee it? If the future is predetermined, why bother to know it? The only reason for seeing the future is the chance to change what it shows. If yumemi did not bother to tell what they See in their dreams, would the future change? And what if they did not dream at all? Who knows if it might, just might, be different?

And even if it was, would anyone know the difference?

The shadowy shape of a bridge spanned the mists over water. It was empty: too early for traffic of any kind. Empty until a solitary person leapt down from the high supports above to land on the cold pavement. It was a young man in his mid-twenties. He wore a white trenchcoat over the black pants and turtleneck that covered his too-thin frame. Hospital bandages were wrapped around his head, covering his right eye. He walked over to the railing and leaned on it, looking down into the water. He was waiting for someone.

If a yumemi lies about a future he or she has seen, does that have any effect on what will happen? Especially if the future is one based on misunderstanding. If the players knew beforehand all intentions, would the rules of the game change?

Subaru heard another person land some distance behind him. He did not need to turn around to know who stood there, but turn around he did.

The two onmyoujis walked towards each other, expressions unreadable. They halted not three feet apart. Seishirou wore his perpetual smile, cold and elegant as always. He reached inside his own black trenchcoat to pull out a cigarette, and held it forth while Subaru lit it for him. The years had changed little where they were concerned...at least on the outside.

Something the yumemi for the Dragons of Earth had said to Subaru had startled him. He had gone to see the Dragon of Heaven yumemi before he had left to defend Rainbow Bridge, to ask some questions. She had taken him into her Dreamscape, but they had been interrupted by a stronger yumemi. The one of the Dragons of Earth. Kakyou. And he had told him something very interesting indeed. He did not know how the subject of the Sakurazukamori had come up, but afterwards, he no longer cared: he just wanted to know -why-.

Seishirou walked past him to stand several feet away, his back towards Subaru's. "It has been a long time, Subaru-kun."

Subaru said nothing, only flipped out his ofuda. The fight had begun.

*Seishirou-san,* Subaru thought to himself as he dodged one of the dark onmyouji's attacks, *I know your Wish now, and it confuses me. Why does it contrast and yet mirror my own so closely?*

He could have smiled when Seishirou conjured up his maboroshi, and vines of Sakura wrapped around his limbs. He flipped out an ofuda and slit his thumb on one sharp edge. The blood magic banished the illusion.

"You didn't have to do that, you know, Seishirou-san," he commented. "I have been held captive by the Sakura ever since you bound me."

Seishirou looked at Subaru from behind his dark sunglasses. "The Kamui of the Dragons of Earth told me that I am the only one who can grant your Wish." He reached up and pulled off the glasses, revealing one cold amber eye and one blank white. "He also said that your Wish isn't that I think it is."

Subaru said nothing. He stood stoically, watching Seishirou, and waiting for him to continue.

"Isn't your Wish to kill me?" There. It had been asked.

A gust of wind came up from behind Subaru, taking hold the the end of the bandages around his head, which had been loosened in the fight. It pulled and they unwound, fluttering off past Seishirou. Subaru made no move to stop it. Seishirou blinked, looking at the right eye that was now blind and sightless as his own.

"No, it isn't." Subaru paused. Again, what the yumemi had told him ran through his mind. He continued. "My Wish ought to be the same as yours."

Seishirou's eyebrows rose in surprise. "Oh? And what might that be?"

"You tell me, Seishirou-san." Subaru would have walked toward the other, except that there was a rubble-filled chasm between them. They both stood on jutting pieces of concrete on either side.

Seishirou did not reply. The two stood facing each other, waiting for someone to break the silence. Finally, the dark onmyouji frowned slightly and said: "Does that mean that you do not know?"

Subaru smiled a little. "No."

"No, you do not know? Or no, you do know?"

Subaru looked at Seishirou, studying him. Then he sprung unto the air, flipped over the chasm, and landed behind the other. Seishirou half-turned to look at him, waiting. Subaru approached Seishirou, hands open and without ofuda. The Sakurazukamori let him, curiosity escaping his stoic expression. Mild surprise showed on his features once more when Subaru came close to him and placed one hand over his heart.

"I know, Seishirou," he said quietly. "But I will not tell you. I want you to tell me."

Seishirou stared at him for several long moments. "What is your Wish, Subaru-kun?"

"You mean what was it? It has changed since, I think." Subaru looked down briefly, studying the hand over the Sakurazukamori's heart. "It was to die at your hands."

Seishirou placed a hand under Subaru's chin and lifted his gaze. "Why?"

Subaru shrugged. "I tried my best to keep you out of my heart. I tried so hard to hate you, but in the end I couldn't. I figured that the only thing to do was to let you kill me. At least that way, even though I would be only one of countless of your victims...it would be you. I...I love you Seishirou."

There. He had said it. He had said what had lain, secret even from himself, in his heart for nine long years. Now, he waited. There was a long, long pause as Seishirou absorbed this startling information and connected it Subaru's odd behavior.

"Subaru-kun...you don't love me," he started. Subaru felt anger slowly rising in him. He fought it down and let the dark onmyouji continue. "You love the kindly veterinarian who never existed." Seishirou looked down at Subaru as if this explained everything, and that the younger man ought now to just step away and resume trying to kill him.

Instead, Subaru laughed harshly. "No, Seishirou-san, you don't understand." He caught the elder man's eyes with his own. "I didn't love you back then."

Seishirou's eyes widened. This was news indeed.

"I thought I did, back then," Subaru continued. "I thought I loved you, but...it didn't take me long to realize that I was wrong. I had had a crush on you, yes, and it was my first so it was strong. But it wasn't love." He paused. "I fell in love with you since then. So don't give me that excuse. I know who and what you are...and it still doesn't matter."

Seishirou stared. "Subaru-kun...I don't care for you. You know that."

Subaru shook his head, still smiling slightly. But the smile had a harsh edge to it. "Then explain your Wish to me, Seishirou-san. I, too, have spoken with someone who has seen your Wish, and told me that it is not what I had thought. I know what it is. It is the same as mine was."

Seishirou masked his face into his regular, emotionless mask with the meaningless half-smile. "Don't be so sure of yourself, Subaru-kun." He moved quickly, taking hold of the hair on the back of Subaru's head and pulling down, forcing the younger man's head back, arching his back upwards, and pushing him off balance. The Sakurazukamori's hand on his head kept Subaru from falling backward. He raised his right arm and made his hand into a shuto* by his cheek. He aimed at his prey's heart. "I would not hesitate to strike."

Subaru's eyes widened. He knew what the other man was truly planning. The yumemi for the Dragons of Earth had told him something else, something very interesting indeed, this time concerning Hokuto.

"Seishirou," Subaru said, trying to keep his voice calm. "I know about Hokuto-chan's last spell. I know what will happen if you strike. It won't be me that dies." Subaru struggled to raise his head to look at the assassin, but the hand gripping his hair held firm. "Please, don't leave me."

A long silence. Subaru prayed Seishirou wouldn't strike, wouldn't kill himself. Prayed that the man had enough sense to see reason.

Finally he spoke. "You can't stop me, you know," Seishirou's voice was calm, but the usual composure seemed to waver a bit.

"I know. But if you leave me, I'll die. I know it sounds selfish...but I live for you."

"You need to live for yourself."

"Why? There's no meaning to life without you, Seishirou-san. All these long years since the bet ended have been spent looking for you. If I haven't found anything else in that time, then I never will."

"You don't know that."

"I DO know that!" Subaru lost his temper and yelled. The other man could be so stubborn and so stupid! "I can guarentee you that if you strike, this kekkai will fall. Don't do that to me, Seishirou-san."

Again there was a long silence. Subaru's neck and back began to ache, but he didn't dare try to break free. It might push Seishirou to do something that Subaru would regret. Finally, he felt the fingers in his hair unclench and draw away, pulling Subaru back upright. The onmyouji looked up at Seishirou. The older man's arms were hanging at his sides.

"What now?" the Sakurazukamori asked simply. He looked expectantly at Subaru.

Subaru locked eyes with his other star. "No lies, Seishirou. Do you feel anything for me? Anything at all?"

Seishirou paused, considering. Or maybe he was debating whether it was any use to lie anyways. "Yes," he said at last.

Subaru never wavered. "What do you feel?" he pressed.

Seishirou frowned slightly, unsure of himself. He searched through his vocabulary for the right words. "An...ache?" he said, half to Subaru and half to himself. He nodded. "An ache. And...something else." He shifted uncomfortably. "I...don't know what it is." He said the last part quietly and quickly, as if embarrased (was he able to feel embarrased?) to admit such a thing.

"Do you want to kill me?"

Seishirou blinked at the younger man. "You are my prey."

"That doesn't answer the question."

Seishirou opened his mouth, and then snapped it shut. Once he might have replied that it did indeed answer the question. But now...it seemed that the Sumeragi was right. The problem was that he shouldn't be right. Subaru was his -prey-. It was his purpose to -kill- his prey. But he didn't want to kill Subaru.

But Subaru was his prey.

The younger onmyouji could see the battle waging inside Seishirou's head. "You don't, do you?"

Slowly, Seishirou shook his head. Subary merely smiled and took ahold of the elder man's hand. "Let's go," he said softly. Inside, Subaru felt warm. He had gotten what he had wanted all these years. There was no room to feel resentment towards the man for what he had done in the past. Not yet, anyways. Seishirou was, of all things, fragile and insecure at the moment. The wrong thing said could shatter everything Subaru had just accomplished.

Seishirou simply looked at him. Subaru let go of his hand briefly to draw his kekkai back, leaving the bridge unharmed.

"Go where?" the Sakurazukamori asked.

Subaru shrugged and took hold of Seishirou's hand once more. "Away from here," he replied obviously. Then he added: "home, I suppose."

"Where is home, then?"

Subaru paused again. He had recently moved in with Sorata, Arashi, Kamui, and Yuzuriha. If he walked in with Seishirou in tow...bad things would happen. Very bad things.

"On second thought, let's skip home. How about some ice cream?"

Seishirou blinked. Ice cream? Apparently the Sakurazukamori wasn't the only one who was acting strange. "Sure," he replied carefully.

Subaru smiled, a little bit of warmth creeping in. It would turn out all right. After all, it was just Destiny. Destiny could change. He would prove it.

A moment later Rainbow Bridge was deserted once more. The sun began to creep over the horizon, illuminating the tops of scyscrapers. The city began to wake, and somewhere in Tokyo, an ice cream shop that had just opened up for the day welcomed its first customers.

~*~*~*~

*shuto-- "knife-hand". Used often in the Japanese martial art "Taijutsu". Seishirou forms his hand into a shuto whenever he kills someone by striking his hand through his victim's heart.

[Right-o...so I've decided to post this, as you see. Please do tell me whether or not you want me to continue this. I have a vague idea of where it might be going, so if you want me to go further, suggestions are nice. I do have a plan...it just needs, um, fillers. ^^]