Negation of distance leads to affinity. Affinity leads to intimacy. Intimacy to destruction.
An endless cycle present in the air we breathe and in the sky we see. Stars falling with tails behind them steaming like ribbons steak across the night in a dimension of their own.
Space. Closeness. The effect of gravity and implosion, a destructive vacuum.
Creation. Destruction. Backwards. Forwards.
It was raining. The water was beating against the darkened windows so hard that the liquid had no chance to bead up and run wild in divulgated streams down the glass. Instead, the water came like a spray from a gigantic garden hose – attacking the glass with a terrible ferocity. Subaru looked out, dismaying at the poor visibility. It was a favorite pastime of his since he had moved to Tokyo, to view the moon and the stars. Sometimes, if he went outside, he could see the lights from the Rainbow Bridge. Not many would find variegated infrastructure an interesting focal point, but Subaru could see the work of people in the buildings – the brilliant minds that constructed such ideas. Houses, stores, skyscrapers – all were the work of the minds of men…of humanity and the great struggle to survive.
At times, he would look up from his stance on his penthouse balcony to the stars. Stars were always burning, dying. Perhaps that's what made them so beautiful. Fragility. In historical texts, it was always mortality the immortals had been entranced with. And why not? It was beautiful. Death wasn't a frightening thing for Subaru. At least, the death of himself wasn't. Others, however, were to be held is high esteem, protected from pain and death at all costs. He would easily sacrifice himself for the sake of what was surely a cherished life. Surely other lives had more value than his own. The lifespan of a human was short; it was a sad and lovely truth to him. Hokuto, other the other hand, when approached with the deep subject, had laughed it off, slapped a label to it…Life: Available for a Limited Time Only. She rarely recounted the past or worried about the all-too-distant future. She was living in the here and now, in the sales at the Ginza mall and in the Wednesday breakfast specials at the pastry shop.
And here he was, pathetically leaning his forehead to cold glass, depressed at having been denied his selfish want to stargaze. His reflection looked back at him by interference of dim light. The rain thrashed against the vision of his face and Subaru imagined what it would be like to drown. The sensation of burning lungs filling with water. Human bodies were made up mostly of water and yet too much was fatal. Too much of anything was fatal, really.
With a quick motion, Subaru pulled the curtains closed, locking himself away from the world. The only world that existed for him now was this sparsely furnished bedroom. His room was lit by candlelight. The candles were for the most part scentless, merely ideal for commonplace meditation. Subaru could meditate for hours at a time, and every so often, between work and the insane dates his sister set up for him, he made time to do so. Silent, traditional meditation. There was no point in frivolous things like expensive candles. Those types of things were for Hokuto. When his mind was overflowing, he made time for this. This.
Settling in the center of the room, bare legs exposed by shorts, he relaxed his shoulders. Exhaling slowing, he brought his hands together. A chant formed on his lips.
"On..." And suddenly, the words stopped as something small and wet brushed against the skin of his left knee. He gasped, concentration broken, and peered down. Shaking and nestling against him was a small, brown bird. It ruffled its feathers and shivered, awkwardly angling what looked like an injured neck so its beady eyes could stare pleadingly up at Subaru.
"How'd you get in here?" Subaru asked soothingly, lowering to lay on his stomach in order to be eye level with the creature. "Did you fly in when I had the door open earlier?"
The animal didn't reply; it merely quivered with stress brought on by immense pain. Subaru reached out a gloved hand to stroke its head. The thing let out a feeble chirp, and Subaru saw that, just like the stars that sometimes fell, the light in its eyes was beginning to burn away. A feeble choke, and then blood was dribbling from the corners of its beak.
Rational thought fled.
Brown boots were thrown on. Laces were messily tied. He scrambled through his kitchen, grabbing the first objects in sight that would serve his purpose. A plain bowl and a dish towel. Rushing back to his room, he stumbled to a stop and knelt down before the bird. It twitched violently as he carefully scooped it up into his hands and deposited it into the small bowl that usually held cereals but today held something infinitely more precious. It peeped weakly and Subaru was reminded of what little time there was. Covering the bowl with the cloth, he hugged it close to his body and sprinted for the door.
From the hanger, he grabbed a vibrant red raincoat that had no doubt been left for him by Hokuto. He managed to wrestle his arms through the sleeves without dropping the bowl. Before he scampered out the door, he grabbed the yellow, sunflower-design umbrella that had been leaning against the wall adjacent to the apartment entrance. A quick ride down the elevator and a few hurried strides toward the final exit, and he was out in the monsoon.
The rain beat against him like a great fist, and the wind's strength pushed against him as he tried to run. His boots offered no traction against the sidewalk's surface, causing him to slip more than a couple of times. His feet slapped against the wet puddles as he made his way down the dark street. The mist and rain obscured most of Tokyo's neon-bright lights. The umbrella he had retrieved last-minute did absolutely no good in the weather. The wind angled the rain so severely that it was basically hitting him in horizontal blows. Huffing, he pounded his feet harder, faster against the pavement. He had to go there.
He'd know what to do.
He reached Seishirou's home thoroughly soaked. Not even the red raincoat was able to completely protect against what seemed to be a medium-sized lake dropping from the clouds. When he finally reached the door, he rapped his knuckles across it, silently praying that Seishiro was awake. Due to his state of lazy dreaminess all afternoon, he hadn't thought to keep up with the time. There were no lights on inside that he could tell. He knew it must be late; he hoped it wasn't midnight.
Please, please be awake, his mind begged. He rocked back on his heels, his hand splayed over the door. He knocked again, more urgently this time. He wasn't usually one to so rudely impose, but… Whatever thoughts he had been thinking dispersed as the door suddenly opened. The unexpected disappearance of the support Subaru had been leaning on threw his balance forward. There was a surprised cry of "Subaru-kun!" and then he was surrounded by Seishirou's arms.
The bowl slipped from his fingertips.
"Oh!" he cried.
For a terrible moment, the bowl seemed suspended in midair. But Seishirou, keeping one arm wrapped around him, leaned forward and managed to get his outstretched hand underneath it. It was a miracle it didn't spill over and dump the injured bird out. Seishirou pulled Subaru inside and shut the door with his foot. He backed away, eyes roving Subaru's dripping-wet figure.
Subaru blinked. Seishirou was dressed plainly for once, in a pair of drawstring pants and a tee shirt. Judging by the state of his hair, he had been sleeping. Subaru blushed, temporarily forgetting the exact reason he had rushed out in the thrashing rain to see this man.
"S-Sorry to wake you," he whispered shakily, still struggling to catch his breath.
Seishirou raised an eyebrow before breaking into a smile.
"I wasn't sleeping, actually," he said kindly, "so don't worry about something as silly as that, Subaru-kun."
Seishirou next directed his attention to the bowl covered by a soggy dishtowel.
"What did you bring me, Subaru-kun?" A smile, then, "Is it food?"
Looking very much like an excited and curious six-year-old boy rather than a distinguished twenty-five-year-old man, he pulled back the corner of the cloth, peeking inside. The mischievous smile quickly faded from his face.
Subaru stepped forward, trying to see inside. That was right – the bird! Seishirou had to help him. He timidly took hold of the bowl, and Seishirou let go. Seishirou's impenetrable stare remained on him all the while. Brow creasing, Subaru stared down at the mass of body and brown feathers. The chest no longer moved up or down.
It was dead.
Subaru trembled. Taking in a sharp breath of air, he swayed sideways. The bowl fell…shattered on the floor.
Seishirou's arms shot out, wrapping around him to protect him from the cold, uncaring ground.
"Wanted you to make him better," Subaru murmured deliriously, feeling faint. He made to move towards the door, backward from Seishirou.
"Don't move," came Seishirou's voice through the haze that was clouding his mind. "There's broken glass everywhere, you'll step on it."
In the next moment, he was being lifted off his feet, bridal-style in Seishirou's arms. He was carried a mild distance away. He trained his eyes on the ceiling, every now and then flicking them to Seishirou's face. He was deposited on a soft bed, just as he had been the last time he had shown up dripping wet on Seishirou's doorstep. Warm hands came around him for a brief moment.
"Let's get you something to change into," Seishirou said, going to his dresser and rummaging through the drawers.
"Ah, here we are."
He laid some pajamas on the foot of the bed.
"You wore these last time, didn't you?" he chuckled. "I'm going to..." here, he hesitated, "clean up the bowl."
Subaru thought sadly of the lifeless bird. He watched wistfully as Seishirou exited the room, then shifted his gaze to the oversized pajamas Seishirou had left for him. After an indefinite amount of time, he got to his feet, feeling vaguely guilty about the damp area he had left on Seishirou's bed. He pulled off the red raincoat and let it fall to the floor. At this point, Seishirou reappeared in the doorway, two steaming mugs in hand.
Subaru froze, eyes widening at the sight of the older man. He could feel Seishirou's eyes on him, raking over the contours of his body. There was embarrassment coiled tightly in his chest. He was, after all, wearing only a paisley pair of navy shorts and a small white tee, both of which clung tightly to his slight frame.
Seishirou hovered at the threshold, hidden thoughts in his eyes. A moment later, he took a step inside, smile painting across his face.
"What's taking so long to change, Subaru-kun?"
It was a jolt of life to Subaru's consciousness.
"A-ah," Subaru said hoarsely, "Spaced out."
Seishirou's responding laugh was throaty.
"Well, hurry," he said, walking past him and setting the mugs on his bedside table.
Subaru's mind revolted as the prospect of changing with Seishirou in the room. But he feared voicing his discomfort might seem silly. After all, they were both guys. He had suffered through locker rooms and public bath houses, why should this be a big deal. He squashed the little voice that was whispering not-so-nice implications in his mind and began divesting himself of his shirt. He figured if he could get the oversized pajama shirt on first, it would fall at least down to his thighs, giving him more privacy when he had to put on the pants.
In the background, he heard the springs of Seishirou's bed, signifying that the man was sitting down. Subaru could feel his palms growing sweaty. It felt as if Seishirou were staring at him, but every time he checked to see, the man's head was buried behind a book on philosophy. Finally, he was able to relax after he was changed. The dry garments were a welcome improvement. Timidly, he crawled onto the space beside the older man, the springs seeming loud in the pervading sense of quiet.
Seishirou looked up from his book and grinned.
Subaru nodded shyly.
"Do you want to tell me anything?"
"Subaru-kun," he sounded outraged, "you don't need to be sorry. I'm always delighted when you come to rely on me. When you confide in me, when you come to me for help, they speak more than words and make me feel important to you."
"I don't know what came over me," he whispered. "I don't... The bird was dying and I panicked. The only clear thing I could think of was you...so I came here. But it died before I arrived."
Seishirou dragged Subaru closer so their sides were pressed together. One of his hands snuck into Subaru's hair, and he caressed it gently.
"We'll bury it tomorrow."
Subaru sighed miserably and nodded. The next few minutes drifted by in blessed silence. Seishirou was the only person, perhaps, that he could actually enjoy silence with. In other circumstances, with other people, he always felt compelled to say something to fill the blank space.
Strangely comforted by Seishirou's simple presence, he leaned over to peer at the pages of what Seishirou was reading.
"...a clear, definite answer concerning the question of existence. One exists simply because some self-replicating chemical has designed and created the body as an instrument for the sole purpose of improving the rate at which it self-replicates.
"The self-replicating chemical is more commonly known as DNA and RNA. Due to the nature of one's existence, as in the purpose of self-replication of gene and not of the theoretical 'self', the body follows that the central organ system is in actuality nothing more than a form of the psychological reproductive system… "…structures of the central nervous system, such as the cerebellum or large parts of the cerebrum have only an auxiliary function: they facilitate reproductive behavior; the cerebellum allows an increased precision in movement, and the medulla is crucial for the regulation of heartbeat. "In actuality there is no 'self,' no 'soul,' just the genealogical replication of life."
"The self-replicating chemical is more commonly known as DNA and RNA. Due to the nature of one's existence, as in the purpose of self-replication of gene and not of the theoretical 'self', the body follows that the central organ system is in actuality nothing more than a form of the psychological reproductive system…
"…structures of the central nervous system, such as the cerebellum or large parts of the cerebrum have only an auxiliary function: they facilitate reproductive behavior; the cerebellum allows an increased precision in movement, and the medulla is crucial for the regulation of heartbeat.
"In actuality there is no 'self,' no 'soul,' just the genealogical replication of life."
Subaru gasped aloud. How horrible. The words rebelled against everything he felt, no he knew to be true.
Seishirou glanced sideways at him.
"Does what I'm reading upset you?" he asked bluntly.
"S-Seishirou-san," he breathed. "Why are you reading something like that?"
"A leftover book from college if you must know," the man said softly. "It's interesting reading from this 'esteemed' man's perspective, I suppose."
Subaru's stomach turned over, flopping like carp in a pond. Life nothing more than chance, scientific fulfillment of replicating genes? It was a horrible thought. And yet, there was no real argument to dispute it, was there? All he had was a distinct feeling of wrongness. That it couldn't, couldn't, couldn't be true. That it wasn't, wasn't, wasn't right.
"You're thinking about why he's wrong, aren't you?" Seishirou asked pleasantly.
The color drained from Subaru's face. Sometimes, he feared Seishirou could read minds.
"Yes," he breathed quietly. He jumped when Seishirou's large and warm hand settled over his sternum. His heart beat rapidly beneath the tapping fingers.
"You're denying it in your heart, aren't you. Not in your mind, but here, inside your soul," the man murmured, looming above him like a dark shadow.
"Yes," it was hardly a whisper this time.
Seishirou leaned back suddenly, away from Subaru, resting his back against the headboard.
"What if it is true, hm?" he said slyly, watching carefully for Subaru's reaction.
Subaru twitched. No. No, no, no. So the author was proposing that every action was dictated by the need to reproduce? He closed his eyes, a memory from childhood coming back to him. His dog. His dog had been a trusted friend, as loving as any human he had ever met.
"What about animals, Seishirou-san?"
"They need to reproduce too, I suppose," he chuckled, waiting for Subaru's response.
"No! I – I mean my dog...he was my friend. He loved me and I loved him. That was real! It was affection. It wasn't because of – of preservation!" Subaru sputtered, feeling as if he were groping in the dark for the words to convey his feelings.
"True," Seishirou said, reaching across Subaru to grab a mug of tea. He sipped it slowly. "There are holes in the philosophy, after all. In any philosophy, I think. No one idea can possibly stand in hopes of explaining the entire complexities of human beings."
"When I wanted to save that bird," Subaru continued forcefully, "I didn't act because I wanted to preserve myself. I wanted to save it...I..."
"Ah," Seishirou adjusted his glasses. "But one might argue that you were acting in the hopes of saving that bird, in the hopes of ensuring its right to replicate itself, therefore preserving the ecosystem in which you live."
Subaru put his head down and mumbled something that sounded like ' /i not true. /i ' Seishirou glanced at the downcast green eyes and smirked.
"That's...not what I wanted..." Subaru whispered, eyes glowing frightfully in the dimly lit room. "It's so much simpler," he sighed.
"I just wanted it to fly again."
Seishirou nodded, swishing the liquid around in his cup.
"But its ability to fly is linked to its ability to live and the ability to reproduce, no?" he murmured, more to himself than to Subaru.
Subaru turned to him, his mouth agape in barely-restrained horror. "Seishirou-san," he moaned in disbelief, "you don't really believe that..." He left the sentence hanging.
"Drink your tea, Subaru-kun," Seishirou said after a bout of silence. "It's growing cold."
Subaru's eyes were burning – were blazing. In that way that was so rare but so amazing when it happened. Like the time he had confronted the leader of the cult, Kumiko-sensei, about her beliefs about her ability to save people.
His voice was uncharacteristically loud.
"Seishirou-san..." he leapt forward, his hands coming to rest on Seishirou's shoulders is his moment of abandoned passion on part to the enlightenment he may or may have not discovered.
"What about – "
He trailed off, uncertain. Seishirou encouraged him.
"What about what, Subaru-kun?" he asked kindly, placing his hands over Subaru's and squeezing them.
Instead of encouraging him, apparently the gesture had quite the opposite effect – causing him to lose his nerve. Eyes smoldering, Subaru tried to pull away, his face ripening to a perfect shade of cherry.
He stared at the older man fearfully. He wanted to say it. He knew the philosophy was wrong and yet...he was afraid to utter the words that would disprove it. Against his will, the words came in a whispered, breathless rush.
"What about people like us?"
He watched nervously as Seishirou smiled devilishly, expression seeming to say, I had wondered when we would come to this.
"People like us?" he repeated innocently, sipping his tea and turning his eyes to the dusty ceiling. "Why...whatever do you mean?"
Subaru felt a not-so-innocent hand slip around his back and caress the space just about the waistband of his pants. Squeaking, he flapped his arms and fled underneath the covers. He felt like a child hiding from unseen monsters in the dark. When he was little, he and Hokuto had huddled together underneath the covers, fleeing the shadows that danced around the room and spoke of imaginative fancies like the boogeyman. Now, he was trying to hide from Seishirou. And he felt unimaginably stupid for doing so.
"Subaru-kun!" Seishirou mock-exclaimed. "Don't be naughty under there!"
Subaru was sure if he was red before that he was one hundred times beyond it now. The covers were ripped off of him and Seishirou was leaning over him amusedly. He tapped Subaru's nose cutely.
"Would you care to explain what you meant by 'people like us,' Subaru-kun?" he asked in a not-too-convincing, sugary sweet voice.
Subaru wrung his hands together before crossing his arms self-consciously. The man always made advances and jokes and talked of dates, and now he was asking such a question! He felt a brief surge of anger rise up in his chest, but then a terrible idea struck him. What if Seishirou really had been joking all along? He felt as if his heart had been stabbed.
Seishirou was disturbed by Subaru's sudden withdrawal.
"Subaru-kun?" he pressed gently.
"Well then," Subaru whispered brokenly, "I guess I meant people like me then..." There was no backing out now. He felt only the need to explain himself then.
"People like you? Subaru-kun, what are you – ?"
"Let me explain," Subaru broke in, his voice strangely raw and strained. "I – I..."
He was beginning to lose his nerve again.
"I...you..." he gestured wildly, trying to communicate without words but having no idea how to do so.
Seishirou frowned perplexedly as one of Subaru's arms nearly knocked the mug from his hands.
"I...you...but I...but we can't...we can't...but I still – "
"Still what, Subaru-kun?" the man asked, gripping one of Subaru's wild wrists before the boy would hurt himself.
Subaru flushed even more deeply.
"We can't...we can't replicate."
Seishirou played dumb a little longer.
"What do you mean, Subaru-kun? Of course we're capable. I am and I know you are because Hokuto-chan told me about the tests you've undergone, plus there's the courtship pressure your grandmother has been putting on you."
"No, I...what I mean is...we can't...we can't...with each other..."
Subaru was tempted to dive back under the sheets in mortification.
Seishirou stared at him levelly. Then, he laughed. Subaru wanted to die, but then Seishirou's arms came around him.
"Are you saying that this fact bothers you, Subaru-kun?"
"No, I was disputing the philos – "
"Of course I'm not infatuated with you because of the need to reproduce. You're all boy, and that's part of what I like about you."
"Subaru-kun, are you disappointed that if you stay with me, you'll never be a father?" Seishirou prodded, running his hands over Subaru's crossed arms.
"...no," Subaru squeaked.
"Do you think I'm perverted?"
There was a longer silence this time, then grudgingly, "Not really..."
"Good," Seishirou chuckled, pulling Subaru into his lap.
After a few minutes, Subaru relaxed. It may not have been normal. It may not have been accepted. But his heart told him that it was good.
"Hey Subaru-kun, do you want to know what I think?" Seishirou asked playfully, his fingers drifting lazily across Subaru's belly.
"Wh-what?" Subaru whispered weakly, feeling for all the world that he would melt like candle wax at any second.
"I think that this kind of love is something special. If the motive of human reproduction isn't present, that makes it – do you really want to know?"
He looked down at Subaru mischievously. Subaru nodded silently.
"Purer than the rest," Seishirou whispered into his ear.
Subaru's eyes drifted shut, the effect of a spell laid by the hand on his brow.
"Pure," his whispered before he drifted away.
Disclaimer: CLAMP owns.
Beta Reader(s): H-chan (vio android105)
Review Replies: Will be listed on my Live Journal. Link on my author's page.