"The Darkest Night" (Part 1)

by Sakura no Miko

Pairing: Subaru/Seishirou

Warnings: Major, major disturbing content involving various forms of suicide/euthanasia, abortion, and outright murder. Worse, actual sympathy and glorification of such actions. Anyone who values life as a "gift of God" or whatever deity/power you choose should probably stay away from this 'fic. Oh, and character deaths, yaoi, angst…the usual for these two.

Summary: Subaru Sumeragi, grieving the recent loss of his sister, seeks the "help" of an infamous healer who gives both life and death to his patients. But when he is unexpectedly denied his death wish, he starts to realize just how powerful life—and death—can really be.

Disclaimer: If any fan in the entire world owned Subaru and Seishirou except the members of CLAMP, they'd actually get over themselves and have a happy ending.

So, no, only CLAMP owns them.

It was cold.

Achingly cold. Snowing. A wet, windy winter. Every possible reason for it to become colder happened. For a normal boy, it would have meant death.

But Subaru Sumeragi was not a normal boy. He was hardly sixteen, but his face was filled with dark lines, and his lips never smiled. The cold was nothing to him, for he held an even colder heart within him—a heart that could not feel heat if it were thrown into boiling water.

It hadn't always been that way, of course. No, like every grieving hero, Subaru had once loved—loved so deeply and with such passion that it seemed he'd never know sadness. He loved too much. He loved every person as if he could feel their pain, see their darkened, heavy hearts. And so, everyone had come to love him as well.

But above them all, there was her.

He dared not speak her name, not anymore. His tears would surely freeze, locking him in place on this snowy road, a monument to grief for all eternity.

She, whom he'd loved as she were not another person, but a part of himself, a piece of his flesh, his bone, his very heart that had somehow broken free and claimed its own life.

But perhaps that was true. After all, who could be closer to one another than twins? His twin. His sister who was more of him, and he more of her, than humanly possible. He couldn't even look at himself without seeing her face. His flesh was her flesh; his only thoughts, thoughts of her; his life…without her…

…wasn't really life at all.

He wondered if she'd known it was going to happen. If she'd looked at him, that last time, knowing they would never meet again. Had she known…could she have known…

…and if she had, why had she chosen him, instead of her brother?

That hurt more than anything else. He killed her, Subaru wanted to think, but he couldn't. No, it wasn't anyone's fault. These things happen. They happen all the time.

He still remembered the day she told him. How much she loved him, that child-like man with such long, flowing hair. He could barely walk, when she met him. But he could speak. He could cry. He could hope.

And that drew them closer together than anything else might have. It drew them past the quarrels of their families over wealth and power, privilege and ability. Drew them away from the inevitable suffering to come. Drew them into their own world of joy and love, where no one else could reach them.

They eloped, almost immediately, without a word. And she only returned that one time, seeking forgiveness from the family that would never look on her again. He wouldn't live long, they whispered behind her back. No power or wealth would see him live past his twentieth year. She was a fool, to throw away her life to him.

And even he, even her own brother, spurned her away, out of jealousy and anger and…he didn't know what. It was his fault, all of it. His fault he turned her away. His fault he lost her. His fault he never tried to find her…

…until it was too late.

The letter was short, simple. In the end, it had not been his fate to die. No…it was hers. Her, and the child she carried inside her. Too young. Too cold a winter. Too far away from the doctors, the medicines. Too far from the wealth, the family that might have cared for her. Too little. Too late.

The year had been Hell, from the icy day he'd first read those words—She's dead…died in childbirth…nothing could be done…—to the first spring of watching the life bloom without her joyous presence beside him; to the sweltering summer with none of her antics to distract him; to the dying fall, reminding him of her lying, motionless, in the ground; to the winter, when he'd finally, finally given up any hope of ever finding peace again.

And here he was, snow piling high, unable to cry or whisper her name.

Subaru had never listened to rumors. However, as he found himself home more and more often, he began to find that the dreary days of staring lifelessly into the surrounding lands, mourning endlessly, were broken, quite against his will, by the chattering, bird-like, of the many servants of the house.

The first time, he'd been livid. They spoke of her, always of her. Her childhood, her personality, her warmth and kindness. That never lasted long. The whispers always drifted to her disappearance. The darker, elder servants whispered that, surely, the babe had been born too soon—a sure sign of why the "happy couple" had run off on their own.

Subaru threw them out, cursed them and their descendants, and refused their pleas for forgiveness.

But, as the days wore on, the words drifted. The family to the north—they were expecting a child, soon. The baker was reducing his prices. Visitors from the next town were due to arrive within the fortnight. Foolish tidings, really.

Then…then he heard it. On the last day of fall, when the last leaf fell from the last tree, and the first snowflakes were just starting to form, he heard the words that had brought him to this lost and lonely place.

A suicide. Some boy from another family, fallen on hard times. Not unusual, that type of news, not at all. But…

It was the way he did it that caught Subaru's attention.

Or, rather, the way he didn't do it.

Because he didn't kill himself. Someone else did. A healer. Ironic, that part. A healer, bringing death. It almost brought a smile to Subaru's lips.

There it was. That was the answer.

Here he was, in the wet, cold snow, more dead than alive. But he was so close, so very, very close. He had to keep going. He had to find that man, that healer who would set him free from the terrible pain. That's what healers did, right?

A little longer, he told himself. The situation was all his fault, anyway. If he'd given any thought to how he was going to meet this healer, how he was going to travel, to pay, to do everything he'd need to do, instead of just running off without so much as a name…

But he was close, he was sure of it. This man—he was by no means a stranger to the townspeople, even as far away as Subaru lived. He was…infamous. To some, he was no less than a monster. To others, a savior. They knew. Everyone knew him, and exactly what he was doing.

No one would stop him. Murderer—and even that title was questionable—or not, he was still the greatest healer in the lands. Who knew if it would next be their child, or their beloved, sick and needing the healing only he could give? A few deaths here and there seemed a small price to pay.

Subaru would have been horrified as well, not all that long ago. Her death changed him, though. Perhaps not completely—for he'd never have thought of ending his life on his own—but enough that, when he envisioned what he meant to ask this healer, he voice didn't waver, and he felt no regrets.

"Kill me," he whispered experimentally. Would it be that simple? He tried not to think about it. The act itself was meaningless. But…seeing her face again…

He smiled, his legs buckling, and slid to the ground. Gods, he missed her. They'd never been apart for such a long time. Everything seemed dull without her brightness, her joy, her desire to live every day to the fullest.

Maybe…the world had never truly been as bright as he remembered. Maybe it was her, changing his senses, shifting and adding, making everything something more than it could ever be on its own.

And maybe she changed him, too.

So there wasn't really anything wrong. He'd gone back to how he was meant to be—cold, and dull, an ugly and empty husk without anything warm or happy to fill him. Back to life without her. Not that it really…was a life.

He never smiled with his lips, but his eyes shone in a way that they hadn't before Maybe he never stopped smiling, after all.

It was perfect. He was so close. Just keep moving, inch by inch, step by step, and it will all come to fruition, he told himself.

He sighed, and began to shuffle forward again, though the slush and ice, his feet adjusting to their perpetual numbness.

The dwelling wasn't what he'd expected. Small, traditional—two buildings, really. A small, neat home, and the larger "hospital." He could see the flicker of candles within the dwelling, but the larger building was curiously dark. Perhaps the snow had prevented any others from making the journey.

Twisted, bare trees surrounded the entire place. In the spring, Subaru mused, they must have been beautiful. But now, they were empty in the winter's embrace.

Clumsy. He was so clumsy, and it felt alien to him. The coldness invaded his limbs, making them feel strange and heavy. He could walk, just barely, just enough to pull himself to the door, craving the light within. He felt a strange sympathy for the insects he'd seen as a child, drawn to their deaths in the fire.

All he needed to do was knock…

The door opened silently before he could raise his hand. He breathed a sigh of relief. He needed that remaining strength of his to continue standing.

It was hard to focus on the man who opened the door, but Subaru was certain—it had to be him. He leaned against the doorpost, grateful for the extra support. The snow began to fall anew, and he shivered, surprised that he could still feel their coldness.

The man looked at him, silent. He finally extended a hand out. Subaru took a shaky step forward, just close enough to grab that had, warmer than his.

"You seem strong enough," the man whispered. It wasn't the voice Subaru would have thought a murderer had. Dark, yes, and deep—but not without the warmth, the comfort he'd heard in every healer's voice he'd ever known.

"…" His voice froze in is throat. The words, so carefully crafted, whispered to the shadows and the snow, refused to come out, here when he needed them.

The man stepped forward, half-shadowed, but half-illuminated as well. Handsome, Subaru thought immediately. Not that much older than him. Mature features, but not without a youthful sort of expression. He was almost laughing, in that way that an older person might laugh at the antics of a child playing, or a blushing youth declaring his first stirrings of love.

He felt…peaceful. Not at all like a stranger, much less a murderer.

Subaru felt safe, secure. His muscles slowly began to warm up. "…please," he managed, his voice far too soft.

"Please what?" He could hear the laughter, now, the laughter that seemed to permeate the man's very being.

"Please kill me."

The words echoed, as if they were trapped, wafting in the air, unable to find the safety of the ground.

"And why do you think I could grant this request?" Subaru was jerked forward, well into the house, and the door shut behind him. He smiled—but it was a smile full of that laughter, that black, mocking laughter.

"They say you…you…" Subaru managed to stammer, his throat slowly beginning to warm and work again.

"I'm sure they say many things," the man said softly, elegantly showing his disinterest, his patience with what was surely a common occurrence. No, Subaru wanted to cry. No, don't let it be a lie.

But even as the thought tormented him, the man was talking, in that soft voice. "Humans…so weak, so frail. The slightest breeze of pain or sorrow knocks them down. And they come crawling to me to make it better." The bitter humor in his voice didn't sound as cold, as detached as Subaru would have thought. It almost sounded…warm. Comforting. Like the gentle correction of a parent to a child, teaching them the truth beyond the lies.

The man spoke again. "Let me guess. A beautiful angel, too beautiful for the Earth, broke your heart."

And Subaru felt no pain as he whispered back. "She's dead." A sort of numbness settled over him, making everything feel distant. The man's firm hand, holding his own tightly, felt no more real to him than the hazy memories of happiness, or the icy chill of his wet garments.

"Just like the rest," he said. His face was suddenly very close, and a strange sensation washed over Subaru's form, almost frozen from weariness and chill. He couldn't quite remember it, this sensation, but…it felt so pleasant, so familiar.

"I'll give you anything you want," the boy gasped out. No response. "Kill me?" he repeated meekly, unable to make the words as calm and steady as he would have wanted. Instead, a question, a plea, escaped his lips.

A chuckle. "Anything? An impressive offer, little one." His other hand drifted underneath Subaru's chin, tilting his face up. "I have no need of money, nor do I covet anything. What can you give me?"

No, Subaru almost screamed, almost choked, almost…

The hot tears began to flow down his face, unwanted, and he thought, for an instant, that he truly would freeze in place, trapped, unchanging, forever. Lost in his pain…for all eternity…

The man laughed again, never letting Subaru look away. Such brown eyes, Subaru noticed through the tears. His face seemed to shimmer, a strange effect of tears and candlelight. An angel of death. A savior.

"Such kind titles," the man whispered, but it sounded horrifying loud. Subaru could not recall speaking, but perhaps he hadn't needed to. "Perhaps there is something you can give me…"

The man—and, oh, Subaru now fervently wished he knew something about him, something that might change his mind or sway him—sank to his knees, bringing Subaru down to the wet floor with him. Stone, covered in snow and water from Subaru's long, dripping clothes. His chill had spread into the house itself.

His strength gave out, and he fell, merging with the coldness, the darkness; a lifeless doll on the cold floor. Was he any different than the stone, the worthless floor that so many had trampled upon? And the tears kept falling, sweeter than the snow, but just as bitter.

"Pretty," that dark, sweet voice said and even it sounded distant. He had not yet said "yes." Subaru began to laugh, a harsh sound that caused his body to hit the black stones painfully. He wasn't even worth killing. He was going to stay here, forever, slowly merging into the stone, the ice, whatever foul element would finally take him and kill him and…

"Surely they have told you what my price is. It's one of their most…imaginative topics." A glimmer of a mocking smile as he spoke. "At dawn…at dawn I will grant your wish, boy. But until then, you are mine."

Subaru felt his heart constrict painfully. His tears rained down harder. He couldn't speak, couldn't hear, couldn't feel—it was all so distant, so very distant.

Those strange touches, against his face. What were they?

The hands that made the chilled, soaked fabric hanging from his body disappear…he couldn't feel them.

The sensation of movement—but his legs were motionless. He couldn't remember any other way to move…

And this, this sensation from being put down, neither gently nor roughly, into a bed so soft and so fair against his numb skin…

No, he didn't feel any of it. Neither pain, nor pleasure, nor comfort, nor discomfort…

They blurred together, these tiny movements, these touches. The numbness spread to his other senses, robbing him of sight, of sound, of taste. If he admired the view before him, he could not remember it. If he screamed, he did not hear it. If his mouth enjoyed the sweetness, it was no different than the bitterness.

But something—something gnawed at him, pulling at him from his apathy, his wonderful blankness. A faint memory tugged at him. Something he had once loved, had once craved.

The movements hastened, slowed, then hastened again, before blurring together. Had they changed at all? Or was his mind playing tricks on him again?

Again, that….feeling. Yes, he knew it. He…remembered it. Fire. Sunlight. Blankets, like the ones surrounding him. A body…

He cried out, he thought, when it dawned on him. He was such a fool, forgetting it. How…how could he not recall?

He wasn't moving anymore, he was certain.

The blankets were askew, and he instinctively arched into them, craving the sensation. But he realized, vaguely, that something better lay near him, something he didn't recognize, but wanted with such a passion it caught him off guard. He wanted to touch the body lying besides his...

A strong arm closed around him, and he felt it.

He sighed.

Subaru had finally remembered.


The words dragged him back from the revelation. It was still dark, and even the candles' flames had vanished.

"Surely you want to have the rest of the night for yourself?" He could hear the chuckle, with the barest hint of that mocking laughter. Perhaps he had that mocking look in his eyes, as well. "When the sun rises, there will be no more time for regrets, for settling the affairs of the living."

Subaru didn't understand, not at first. But of course—wouldn't his family be terrified, to find him missing? It had been days already, but in weeks, in months…surely they would find out, just as they had for that other boy. And then he would be the new rumor among the servants.

Didn't they leave notes? Wills? Words of consolation?

Did she have any such message?

Subaru clutched the sheet angrily. No. They wouldn't even acknowledge that she was dead. So why should he give them the pleasure of consolation? No one had been there to console him… They were too lost in their wealth, and their power. The ancient and mighty Sumeragi family, who'd turn their own daughter away because she…she loved someone they didn't.

They didn't deserve her love. They wouldn't get his, either.

He closed his eyes, relishing in the warmth he hadn't felt in so long. The cold vanished from his memory. He sighed. It was so warm, so very, very warm, right where he was. "I have no regrets," he whispered simply.

There was no response, not in words. But, now that the icy numbness had begun to melt, he was aware of the small things, the things that had escaped him before. The murderer, the man—for one of the things Subaru had realized, with his wits back, was that he did not know the healer's name—was not moving away as he had expected. He realized, with cold clarity, exactly what he had paid for his death.

He was ashamed, and yet…

Those light, wet touches—they were kisses. That sweet, intense warmth was the warmth of another body, close to his. All that had passed…it was…

It was something worth knowing before he died.

His body craved the warmth, and, as the lack of sleep, the weariness of travel began to catch up with him, he noticed that the man was still there, still next to him…still keeping him warm and giving him a sense of peace.

No, he didn't want to move. There was nothing of life that he wanted more than this.

Subaru awoke in the middle of absolute chaos.

His eyes jerked open, suddenly blinded by the bright sunlight, high in the sky. It had been so long since he'd awoken to anything but darkness…when he slept at all.

There was noise everywhere—screaming, shouting, crying. The darkened outline of the room came into sharp clarity in the morning light. The bed trembled beneath him, and he was, quite suddenly, very alone. He hadn't even had enough time to realize that he had woken up with someone else.

His arm was jerked forward roughly. "Clothes," the healer whispered harshly. He tossed a robe—much too large for someone of Subaru's size—to him. And…was that a curse, that low sound that came from the man's mouth?

Dumbfounded, Subaru shrugged the robe on, almost tripping as he stepped from the unfamiliar bed. Vaguely, he realized that it was well past dawn, and yet here he was, breathing and seeing and most certainly alive. He began to recognize the noise—a shrill screaming, and two other voices begging for help.

The healer grabbed him roughly, dragging him through the house and, Subaru realized, in the direction of the medical area. There was a girl—just a child—thrashing wildly upon the floor, her frightened parents trying desperately to calm her enough for the healer to examine her.

"Help them hold her," the man hissed.

Subaru managed, with uncertain steps and shaking hands, to grab the girl firmly around the waist, her parents holding her arms and legs so she could no longer move. But her body trembled and twitched, a sickening sight.

He watched, with a sot of horrified fascination, as the man managed to open her mouth and forced her to swallow a vile-looking mixture. The girl's body began to still, and her eyes drooped. She was asleep.

"Why didn't you give her the medication?" the man asked, his voice cold, a brutal accusation. "I told you there was no other way to control these fits."

"There is no more!" the woman cried, her voice breaking. "We can't…we just can't afford to keep getting it. We can't!"

Her husband stood silent, a look of distress on his face.

"Please, please….have some compassion," the woman continued brokenly.

The healer just shook his head. "It doesn't matter to me," he said in that cold, merciless voice, "what happens to her. You asked for a cure. I gave it to you. Whether or not you use it is your affair."

"N-no! Please," the woman begged, clutching her daughter's prone body towards her. She looked at Subaru with those haunted eyes, and it made him ache.

"I thought you didn't need money," he whispered, but it was still louder than he'd thought his voice would go. An open challenge.

The healer's eyes snapped towards him. His mouth twitched, forming that evil grin he'd seen so often the previous night. "No. But I do need payment."

Subaru's eyes narrowed. Was that supposed to scare him? "I will pay," he said defiantly.

The man smiled again. "Then you are willing to…delay our former agreement?"

"Yes." The anger managed to beat the sorrow, as it always did. How could he? The poor child…he didn't care about her at all!

Another flicker of a smile, and he drew out a long sheet of paper from some hidden pocket. Subaru caught it reflexively and opened it, curious. A list. He looked back in confusion.

"If you want to help them so badly," the man said, "you may as well spend the massive amount of time it takes to prepare their medication." He turned, as if he would walk back to the house. "But remember to be back by nightfall. It won't do to make a late payment."

Subaru almost crushed the paper, angry beyond words. Even the servants' disgusting slander against Ho—against his sister hadn't infuriated him so much. But…

"Thank you," the woman said reverently, surprising him from his thoughts. "Thank you so much." She paused, shaking her head, searching for the words. "We will make it up to you, kind boy, we will."

The man, however, looked at him, wordlessly. Finally, he said, in a deep, rough voice, "I've never known anyone to change that man's mind so easily. You'd best watch out. You're playing with fire here."

"I know," Subaru said, a note of defiance in his voice. "I'm not afraid." There was nothing that could hurt him, nothing like her death. Nothing, nothing, nothing.

He looked back at the list. His hands trembled. One day, he told himself, just one more day…

To be continued…

Author's note: And to think, this story hasn't even started to get disturbing…

I hope the background wasn't too vague. If you missed it, Hokuto eloped with Kakyou and died having their child about a year before the beginning of the story.

This last scene didn't come out too well. Any advice? Good or bad, tell me what you think.

Oh, but don't get too excited about the next chapters. I'm a very, very slow writer. That's fair warning, right?