Seen And Unseen

Kagami Kyouji is walking through Mugenjou. It's the point where summer turns into autumn, and the weather is hot and sticky. Glass dust moves in the thick currents of air around him, hiding him from casual eyes; he is a sparkle passing by, a moment's coolness in the oppressive heat, and that is all.

There's so much to see.

He walks past MakubeX's omnipresent cameras, aware that they will probably note his passing, but not quite willing to test this yet, and into the -- well, what to call it? Throne room? Command centre? None of the other new "kings" are around. Fudou is in his chamber, brooding over the bones of his arm, and Kakei Juubei is out and about, doing MakubeX's will, and MakubeX himself is not here.

Perhaps he's asleep. It would be so interesting to see the boy's dreams.

Kakei Sakura sits at the computer, as she always does in MakubeX's absence --

"Do you ever feel that she's left you, Kakei Juubei?"

"It is her choice where she gives her allegiance. She is loyal."

-- high collar unfastened to allow the air to reach her, the fabric of her dress and shawl standing that crucial half-centimetre away from her body. It must make it so much easier for her, he muses. From where he stands, from the reflective computer screens that fill the room, he can see the pallor of her flesh, the beads of sweat that mark her forehead and that trace down the curve of her breasts, the fragile length of her wrists.

No real challenge to him, of course, but there is something there that he can appreciate. It's not her fault if her techniques are ill-suited to dealing with someone as light and inconsistent as himself. She traces the weave of things, and he -- he is as flawless and as transparent as crystal, with no patterns for her to see.

Kakei Sakura looks up from the screen which she is watching. She carefully removes her earpiece, laying it down beside the computer keyboard, then turns to look at the emptiness in the room. "I know you're there," she says, her eyes fixed on emptiness.

Kagami considers alternatives. Again, he is not minded to test MakubeX's surveillance yet. He lets himself blur into full visibility. The lights from the computer screens glint on his earring, flash across his white suit, catch in his eyes.

Her eyes track to where he stands. "Good afternoon, Kagami-san." She is as polite as ever. A very well-brought-up young woman, of old family and good blood. She could be in kimono and obi and nothing of her posture or her manner would change. Instead, she sits there in her hand-made dress and her fringed shawl, and is a lady in this garden of ruins, just as her brother is a samurai in a world which is forgetting the meaning of the word, for a master who left him behind.

"Did I disturb you?" he asks, or perhaps it is do I disturb you? Words are flexible things.

"No." Her answer is thoughtful. "I saw something changing on the monitors, and it seemed to me that it might be you; and then I felt the air shift when you entered."

"It's hot today," he agrees. "At least you are out of the sun here."

She nods. "Have you had far to come? We haven't seen you for the last few days."

"You haven't seen me. You haven't seen Fudou either, have you?"

Kakei Sakura shakes her head. The thick masses of her hair cling to her neck and shoulders, damp in this heat.

"He's in his rooms," Kagami says, throwing her the tidbit of information. "As usual. Thinking."

"He's -- always thinking." A light flickers on one of the screens, and her eyes move to it for a moment before returning to Kagami.

"And you're -- always watching." He gestures towards the door which leads to MakubeX's bedroom. "For him. Over him."

She smiles a tiny smile. "Of course," she answers, and there is nothing but pride in her voice.

He turns a little where he leans against the pillar, and his earring rocks from side to side for a moment, into and out of the light, back and forth, and the glint of its reflection dances across the dark floor. "Lie with me," he says, almost at random.

She blinks; long eyelashes flicker. The flush in her cheeks was already there, a byproduct of this close heat. "Kagami-san . . ."

"Let me show you something that you do not already know." The thought catches him, takes possession of him. He is still for the moment, but there is that in him which could send him flickering across the floor at a moment's notice, driven by acceptance or refusal, so that he could touch his white hands to those red cheeks, trace one finger down the side of that graceful neck, feel the length of her hair between his fingers, the weight of her breasts in his hands. Perhaps it is the heat working in him as well, here in this place of quick life and death, where everyone is so painfully alight with their own obsessions, burning with their particular beauty. MakubeX's pale ivory silence and intentness, Kakei Juubei's strong silence and dark presence, even Fudou Takuma's heady desperation, that lust for murder, so closely akin to other lusts. And Kakei Sakura's wilful choice of submission, her patience and her calm, have their own clarity to them. "Something -- that can be between you and your master, when you choose."

She turns her head a little, the same minute shift of posture as his own earlier movement. "And would your eyes be on us then, through all your mirrors, Kagami-san?"

This time he lets the impulse take him, and he is standing behind her a moment later, one long-fingered hand resting on the shawl that drapes across her right shoulder. He knows the provocation of this gesture, the risk of touching something which is so much her weapon. Through the layers of fabric he can feel the warmth of her body, the heat of her blood. "You are the oldest of your family. Who you give yourself to is your own choice."

Even without seeing her face, he can feel the curve of her mouth, and wonders how many people see the brother and the sister, and make the wrong assumption about who obeys their elder, and who bows their head in silence. She makes no answer.

"I could show you -- "

"You could show me Babylon City," she breaks in, "and I do not think that I want to see it."

But she does not try to move away from his hand on her shoulder, and in the dark room the hum of computers is like the roar of blood, the pulse of Mugenjou.

Above them both is the black height of Babylon City, the forbidden land, but this is Mugenjou, where flesh and blood walk beside virtual dreams given form and the counterfeit of life. Kagami Kyouji sees the pallor of his own hand against the bright colour of Kakei Sakura's clothing, and he sees their reflection in all the shadowed computer screens, and he bends his head towards hers, to a future which he does not know yet, to a moment which may be one thing or another. This is a piece of what is to come that the Archive has not recorded, a moment out of time that is his alone. It's a secret. It's a reflection. It's something hidden behind two pairs of eyes.

There's so much to see.


Fanfic Page