RULES OF THE GAME: Stirrings of Trouble by Feye Morgan
Kakyou was completely baffled. Stunned. Stupefied. He wondered how on earth he'd failed to be flabbergasted by this before.
He sat on one of his floating spheres in the void, suspended artfully above a rippling pool of water. His legs swung back and forth, occasionally hitting the shimmering surface and causing a spray of delicate droplets to fly into the air, where they floated, very gradually congealing together to form another floating sphere.
His slender fingers tugged fitfully at his kimono, and his normally dreamy, sad eyes were strangely sharp with confusion and thought.
I changed destiny
Well, all right. Perhaps that wasn't quite fair. He and Hinoto had changed destiny -together-.
But that didn't change the facts; one of his visions had not come to pass. The reason it had not come to pass was because he and another dreamseer had done the impossible and intervened.
It didn't make sense. It was impossible. Inconceivable. Illogical.
It had happened.
Kakyou kicked the water, sending the gently swirling droplets into utter chaos. Serves them right, he thought as he stared at the helplessly spinning pearls. How dare they make sense whilst I'm so confused
All right, so it was a childish thought. Kakyou reserved the right to be childish once and a while. After all, he was the one in a coma who lived his days and nights to watch terrible visions of the future that he couldn't even prevent--
And there it was again. That was the problem. He could prevent them. And perhaps, just perhaps, his life now held meaning for once!
No no no NO! There's something WRONG with that! Yumemi -can't- change destiny! It's -impossible-! The future is already determined!
Ah, but is it? his insidious mind asked him again. Kakyou immediately thought of the girl, Monou Kotori, and her last words as she rose into the sky, wings and pure feathers filling the air with impossible grace.
::The future has not yet been decided,:: another voice echoed the girl's words along with his thoughts.
Kakyou turned towards the source of the sound. "Hinoto," he greeted.
::Kakyou:: she smiled at him. ::You are puzzled by the recent events, aren't you?::
The younger dreamseer nodded. "Yes. I don't understand how we were able to do what we did. I'd given up hope of changing the future long ago, and it is so hard to accept now..."
::You had not given up hope:: the blind yumemi countered. ::Otherwise you would not have attempted to prevent your Dream::
Kakyou pondered this. Evidently he'd not thought of that.
::I know it is hard for you to accept. It is hard for me, as well. In the centuries I have been alive, I've never seen this happen before. Ever.::
"You're certainly taking it well," Kakyou remarked.
Hinoto smiled gracefully. ::I've always hoped. Sometimes more than others, but I have always hoped.::
"And what about this Dream?" Kakyou asked. His golden eyes flickered over to a sphere nearby, which played a strange and tragic scene on the high beams of Tokyo Tower.
Hinoto's smile faded, and she gazed with longing. ::My wicked side is trying to avert that Dream. If it is true that Dreams can be changed...she might have a chance. So very long I have been alive...:: she added quietly. ::And it could all go wrong...::
Kakyou let the vision in the sphere fade. He looked at her with empathy. He knew, he understood. He too was tired.
"In a way I am glad we have discovered this," he began quietly, "and yet, in another way, I am terribly sad."
Hinoto looked at him, waiting.
"Doesn't this mean that all of our other terrible visions that came to pass...had a chance of being avoided?"
Memories flashed painfully behind his eyes. A girl, dressed in pure white ceremonial robes, walking towards a tree. Sakura rained down thickly, and a cruel smile pierced the petals as a hand pierced the girl's heart. White stained with red, a voice cried out in pain, and everything shattered in a nightmare of sweet, heady aromas.
That Dream, the worst dream of them all, and he'd known he couldn't prevent it. And yet, at the last moment, he'd tried and failed. The broken yumemi had believed from that point on that none of his visions could ever be changed. He'd lived his life in empty despair.
Had he been living a lie?
"What if I'd been able to save her?" he asked in a whisper. "What if I'd tried to get out of the house sooner? I could have saved her. I -could- have!" The blonde head bent down, and delicate hair swept over his face, hiding him from his Dreamscape.
Hinoto floated closer in her bubble, her face full of concern and sadness. "I'm sorry, Kakyou. I'm so very sorry..."
Kakyou brought his hands over his face and cried for the first time in many years, while a sad angel held his shoulders in small comfort.
- - - - - - - - - -
Seishirou downed two aspirin as soon as he returned home, checked his wristwatch, and resolved to take another dosage as soon as possible. Subaru took the glass of water out from his hands, refilled it, and ushered him to the dining table with strict orders to sit down and stay put.
The assassin did as he was told. His head hurt too much to argue; the car ride had done nothing for his condition.
"Seishirou-san, I'm going to make you some oden, all right?"
"All right, Subaru-kun."
While Subaru busied himself in the kitchen, Seishirou took the time to think, despite his aching head. He placed the stuffed squirrel on the table and stared at it. After a while, he didn't see the animal any longer, because he wasn't really looking at it.
It means something, he thought. I'm certain of it. But what is it? Subaru proclaimed to love him, but what did that -mean-?
He remembered telling Subaru, a long time ago, about the uselessness of love.
"I don't know if this makes sense...but I think, in many instances, love simply isn't enough in this city. No matter how strongly you feel that love, it may just not be enough. After all, there's no place on earth where strong feelings alone are automatically rewarded."
Subaru had looked at him curiously, wide green eyes confused and impressionable. He'd been so innocent then, and so willing to believe what Seishirou told him. "Then why do people love at all?" had been the child-like question in response. "If love is useless, what use could we have for such an emotion?"
Seishirou began to trace patterns on the dining table, amber and glass eye still staring at the squirrel. What had been his answer to that? Ah yes...
"Because we're lonely. As long as we can love, we can dream. Humans aren't strong enough to live without their dreams."
Where had he gotten that from? Seishirou never dreamt in the sense that he never had hopes and wistful designs for the future. He was the Sakurazukamori. His entire life was dedicated to serving the Sakurazuka. He had no life beyond that, and he certainly did not love.
So where had he come up with that response? True, he was a master actor. Subaru could certainly testify to that. He studied his prey, and learned to imitate them with perfection.
But he'd come up with that out of the top of his head.
Speaking of which, -really- hurt now. He abandoned his fruitless thoughts and closed his eyes. He placed two fingers to each temple and began to rub slowly in circles, wishing the aspirin would kick in soon.
The clatter of a plate and the smell of something delicious right beneath his nose prompted him to open his eyes again. He looked down into a bowl of very tasty looking stew.
"Subaru-kun, I never knew you could cook something that smells so delicious."
"There are a lot of things you don't know about me, Seishirou-san," Subaru commented. He took a seat opposite the assassin. "Eat up. I hope it tastes as good as it smells."
It did. Seishirou told Subaru so, and was rewarded when the younger man beamed happily at him.
"You like the toy, Seishirou-san?" Subaru asked after a few minutes of silence.
Seishirou nodded, and sighed as the mental battle he'd been waging came back into play.
Subaru frowned. "Seishirou-san...is something wrong?"
Seishirou put down his chopsticks. He'd been meaning to have this conversation with Subaru, but hadn't yet found the time.
"Subaru-kun, why do you love me?" he asked.
Subaru stared at him. The assassin could just see the wheels spinning behind that brilliant green eye.
"What does that mean? 'Love'? And why me of all people?" he persisted.
Subaru stared at him for a few more moments, before leaning forward slightly and folding his hands together. The younger man's forehead knitted in thought. Seishirou waited patiently.
"I don't know," came the reply at last.
Seishirou blinked. "You don't know?"
Subaru paused for a moment, and then shook his head. "Nope."
"Then how do you know you love me if you don't even know why? You should hate me. I've beyond ruined your life. How can you forget that so easily?"
An emerald eye flashed briefly with something akin to anger. "I never said I'd forgotten."
"I'm not even certain if I--" Subaru stopped abruptly, looking up at Seishirou for a moment. The assassin frowned. The younger onmyouji looked as if he'd wanted to say something, and decided against it. What could it be?
"I know I do love you, Seishirou-san. It's just that...it's not easy. I don't know you very well at all, really. I don't even know your favourite colour, although I could make an educated guess."
Seishirou smirked slightly at that.
Subaru sighed, and ran his hands through his short, dark hair. "I could try to describe what I feel when I think about you or look at you, but you wouldn't understand."
That was probably true. However, it did not help one bit.
"It's confusing for me, too, trust me. Just believe me when I say that I do, indeed, love you, Seishirou-san."
"But...I need to know -why-. What -is- love in the first place?" Seishirou persisted.
Subaru shrugged. "I can't tell you that. Maybe you need to figure that out for yourself. I can't explain it to you." Subaru rose from the table and left the room. A few seconds later, Seishirou heard a door open and close, telling him that the Sumeragi had retreated into his room.
Seishirou sat alone in the dining room with a stuffed squirrel and a cooling bowl of oden.
That was -not- helpful
As Subaru had risen from the table, he'd turned at such an angle that only his right eye had been visible.
Subaru's blind eye. The eye he'd lost for Seishirou.
And the older man felt a stab of...something...as he'd looked at it. When the incident had first occurred, he'd not known what to think. There had been some mild irritation at the Angel Kamui for marring his toy, but nothing too much, as Subaru was still alive.
But at Rainbow Bridge it had hit him harder.
You lost an eye because you felt guilty, Subaru-kun. Why? Why did you do that? I lost mine to protect you because that day was still within the time requirements of the bet. But you...why did you Wish to lose that eye? That beautiful green eye?
Once again it was driven into the Sakurazukamori how thoroughly he had ruined Subaru's life. It did not give him a pleasant feeling, that thought.
Subaru-kun...why do you still want to be around me? What is this 'love' you feel? And why am I so willing to oblige you?
He looked again at the squirrel in the vague hope that it might provide some answers.
But it just continued smiling at him, and kept its secrets to itself.
- - - - - - - - -
Kamui had decided to take a walk through a park. Not Ueno Park, but one close to CLAMP Campus. The other Seals were nearby; Sorata and Arashi had gone with Yuzuriha to pick up some schoolbooks for a report they'd forgotten about. Kamui wasn't in that class, and even if he had been, he wouldn't have cared much. He had math homework to do, but he'd missed so much class lately that the professor probably hadn't even noticed his absence. He hated math anyway.
Besides, school never ranked well in comparison to 'saving the world'.
The young boy kicked a stone in his path and watched it as it rolled away into the brush. He found himself likening it to the earth, just kicked aside beneath the trampling footsteps of fate. A fate he had helped to choose.
Violet eyes lowered and thin shoulders sank with depression. Ever since his mother had killed herself in that fire, his life had fallen swiftly further and further into despair. All he'd wanted to do was to protect the two people alive he'd cared for. Fuuma and Kotori.
And by that very act of choosing to protect, the latter was dead by the hands of the former, who wasn't even himself anymore.
And Kamui had resolved to bring Fuuma back. No matter what. It was the only thing that kept him going anymore. And he'd even begun to think that that was hopeless.
Kamui had always looked up to Subaru, ever since the day he'd met the man. He'd even developed something of a crush on him, more hero-worship than anything else, especially when compared to his feelings for the real Fuuma.
He'd known Subaru had Wished for something from Seishirou, and he'd known Seishirou was still the one 'special' to Subaru ever since the young onmyouji had gone Within Kamui. As it lay, he'd suspected Subaru had never wanted to kill Seishirou. He'd wanted something else, perhaps something akin to what Kamui wanted with Fuuma.
He'd watched Subaru's efforts proceed, and had taken to comparing the two older men to his plight with his own twin star.
And Subaru had made it. He and Seishirou had made it. Certainly, their fight wasn't over, but the hardest part of the struggle was done. The two were together, more or less.
Kamui had reason to hope again. Maybe it wasn't so impossible for him to bring Fuuma back. But if only he knew how...
Hinoto had given them no good news. Once she'd apologized even more about the misunderstanding after Seishirou and Subaru had left, she'd explained that Kakyou had managed to mangle the one vision that had gotten through to her. She'd been able to realize a kekkai was going to be attacked, but the other yumemi had apparently switched locations on her.
That was -not- good news at all. If Kakyou had found a way to actually -change- Hinoto's Dreams...
...the Seals might never be able to trust her prophecies again.
This was very bad.
Kamui kicked another rock out of his path and paused for a moment. He tilted his head up to look at the sky through the leafy tree branches. The boy sighed and brushed the stray hair from his face. He'd taken the walk to relax, but somehow that didn't seem to be happening. He just found himself fretting even more.
Maybe he should ask for help from Subaru. No...scratch that. Subaru's Wish had been to be killed by Seishirou. Kamui did -not- want Fuuma to kill him.
Maybe he would ask Seishirou, then. Perhaps the assassin would give some insight into why he'd 'changed', and maybe that would help clear the path for Kamui to reach Fuuma. Furthermore, Seishirou probably knew the Dark Kamui rather well, being one of his Angels. Character insight would always be helpful.
Of course, this was all assuming Seishirou was telling the truth. He knew from talking to Subaru that the older onmyouji was quite the deceiver. But the young Seal had been watching Seishirou very closely, and he -seemed- to be true.
Well, it can't hurt to ask, now can it?
Kamui began walking again. His mind was slightly clearer now, and he took the time to gaze at his surroundings. Sunlight streamed down through breaks in the leaves of the tall, broad trees, providing enough warmth to be comfortable, and yet not too much to be overpowering. The shadows and light mixed and played upon the greening brush. Twigs and dried leaves crackled beneath Kamui's shoes.
"How pretty," he murmured admiringly.
"Yes, it is, isn't it?"
Violet eyes shot open wide, and the boy froze, rooted to the spot by that voice more securely than if he'd been nailed to the ground.
"Funny we should run into each other here...Kamui." There was a soft thud behind him, as if a person had leapt to the ground from a perch on a tree branch. Kamui tensed even further as footsteps approached him from behind.
Finally, he was able to gather the courage to turn his head and body just enough to look behind him.
Fuuma stood two feet away from him, smiling as he always did when he saw Kamui: as a predator who'd spotted his favourite prey. "Out for a stroll?" he began conversationally, his amber eyes never loosing their spark of imminent danger. His hand reached out swiftly to tangle in Kamui's hair. "You know, you're not very welcome here, Kamui." The hand traced down his cheekbone to finger the small boy's throat. That hand could wrap easily around it; Kamui knew this from experience. The Seal didn't dare breathe. His heart was racing.
"The Earth does Wish for your death, and the death of humanity, after all," the Angel continued. His hand tightened slightly on the smaller boy's throat. Sunlight reflected perfectly off of Fuuma's small, rectangular glasses, for the moment hiding his eyes. The chilling and falsely amiable smile remained, however.
"F-Fuuma..." Kamui managed, violet eyes helpless and fearful.
Fuuma's smile disappeared. "No. I am KAMUI."
The last thought Kamui had before the world went white in his eyes was: Oh god, big mistake
- - - - - - - - -
Oden: A hearty Japanese stew, apparently a popular "comfort food", according to the translators of "Tokyo Babylon".
For my wonderful reviewers . :
Yume-damo-shirinai: Eheh...yeah...sorry about that wait. ; I hope to not make you suffer as much next semester though: I have no labs, which means I have about 40 more free hours each week. Shiny. It's not going to be easy for Seishirou, I can tell you that much. But when he finally does get his act together...it will be interesting.
Uozumi: Yes, I love teasing Seishirou, especially when he's vulnerable like this. It's so much fun. Glad you're still reading! But beware, the fluff will decrease in the next couple of chapters.
Wai-Aki: Heh heh! A lot of people seemed to like that squirrel. It will be playing somewhat of an important symbolic role in later chapters. You can kinda see it in this one too. Nope, not five months for this update! Once again, I'm sorry about that! O.o
FungiFungusRayne: 'Bomb in hand'? O.O Do you not like Kamui and Fuuma or something? hugs Kamui protectively You'll be seeing more of them, I guarantee it. ; Thanks for reading!
Subaru's Voice: Does that mean that if there -isn't- fluff, then you won't review? O.O gulps Eheh...sorry to say that the fluff will be lowering from this point on, although there will be little breaks. I have a trip to a fair planned for them at some point, which will be cute. Please stay with this! I promise Subar and Seishirou will have a nice fluffy ending! I can't promise the same for poor Kamui and Fuuma, but I'll try. O.o
Ifurita the Black:
Nope, haven't updated on MediaMiner bacause that site seems to hate me
as well. Oo; I'll keep trying over there, though. No, Hinoto
won't break up Seishirou and Subaru. She'll try her darndest though,
and who can say how close she'll get to succeeding? No, I'll
never abandon this fic. Don't worry!
MusiqMistress: Wow! I blush with the praise! Thank you so much! I'm glad you like this. Believe me though, there are plent out there who make my writing look like mush. If you have any constructive criticism, I'll be glad to hear it.