Subaru's POV this time.

Chapter two

"Are you sure?"

He is. There's nothing to keep him in this world; not his responsibilities as onmyouji or as the thirteenth head of the Sumeragi clan. The end of the world, angels and seals, no longer matter. The final battle came and went, leaving a large amount of things broken, but no one as shattered as he is.

When the witch names her prize he doesn't hesitate to cut the last tie. It doesn't feel like he is losing something. He can't be both sides of the coin at once, so it's fitting that he is now none.

For a moment- minutes- he is free. Nothing binds him to this world or any other, until the door opens again and he doesn't need the witch to tell him that there are ties that cannot be severed.


# # # #

His companion is looking intently at him without even bothering to hide it. It unnerves him to no end, but he fixes his gaze on the wooden table and does his best to ignore the scrutiny.

"I'm not yours" He wants to say "You are not mine", despite the fact that neither of them need to be reminded who the other silent players of this game are. Because it's a game this time, not a hunt, and Subaru is not quite sure if he can adapt to a new dynamic.

Seishirou makes a pause in his examination as two steaming plates are set on the table. After cautious try, he hums appreciatively and resumes his observation. Subaru directs his eyes to look elsewhere. He aches for a smoke

He had thought at first that it would be the perfect opportunity to stop, to get rid of that habit at last. It almost is. Cigarettes can be found in some worlds, but he's never sure when he is going to be able to find them and, when he does, the taste is all wrong.

He doesn't bother searching for cigarettes anymore; he just follows Seishirou like a shadow and hopes the want will go away. But the need is still there, strong as ever. Sometimes Subaru can still catch the feel of it when he awakes, a dry taste of ashes on his mouth. It's the same for the Seishirou: sometimes Subaru can almost smell a faded mix of blood, flowers and cigarettes. Maybe the want won't go away even if he tries. It's a perfectly good excuse for staying.

"Eat, Subaru"

This Seishirou doesn't immediately stir memories of a gentle smile and a blissful year. The appearance is completely wrong except for the occasional pair of glasses that never seem to match the young face under them. Worst of all, the main element is missing and Subaru cannot make up his mind if this is a blessing or a curse. The facade is not there, and if there's ever a mask on his companion's face, is mostly for show. Cruelty, kindness, indifference, interest, they are all there under plain sight.

This Seishirou is not the man he /never/ knew.

# # # #

"What we are looking for is not here."

The world twists like his heart inside his chest. Even when his feet can no longer feel the ground under them, he is still walking in the land of what might have been. It takes the weight of a hand in his shoulder for him to get back to reality.


It takes only a second to remember three words, spoken by a slightly deeper voice. For the first time Subaru is completely sure they weren't a lie. There are some ties that cannot be cut, because they are the only things that hold him in place.

Their feet touch grass, the arm falls back into place and the journey is resumed as if nothing had changed. This time, Seishirou is not the one who watches.