Mirrors, gazes and sunglasses were ties merged into the tapestry that was Sakurazuka Seishirou.
AN: A long, somewhat incoherent story focused on Seishirou. It's quite fragmented in the beginning, but I hoped I managed to tie it all together at the end. Written for my brother, Kelvin-kun, because he rocks and he was the one who first introduced me to X/1999 and it's his birthday. Happy birthday, nii-san!
I love Seishirou's character. He's just too intriguing.
X/1999 belongs to CLAMP, of course.
Seishirou, it seemed, had a strange habit of avoiding mirrors.
It was instinctive; something he did subconsciously, the way he could idly call upon a shielding illusion of sakura blossoms or follow Subaru-kun's every movement at the back of his mind.
Those glossy, reflective mirrors were to Seishirou what puddles were to some people; you wouldn't go out of your way to completely avoid them, but it wasn't something you'd willingly walk through either.
And of course, they both had the uncanny ability to echo everything and anything back out at the viewer. Funny things, puddles were.
Oh, Seishirou knew that he was somewhat devastatingly handsome, the way he was clinically aware that most people had two legs, two arms and a head, and that they were conveniently standing at an angle that made a hand thrust through the ribs amazingly easy. When he went full out without any illusions or flares of power, slipping through Tokyo's crowds like a normal person, he knew he attracted the gazes of many – both male and female – and chuckled to himself at how predictable mankind was becoming.
The blatant stares didn't bother him one bit; most people had the sense – sixth sense, perhaps, something his Subaru-kun obviously missed out, ironic as it sounded – not to confront the seemingly nice and harmless sakura assassin. Appreciated, but always at a distance; a little like a rare snow leopard, or a panther, perhaps, Seishirou mused.
You would think being in the center of so many people's attention would make it a trifle hard for an assassin to act, but that was what illusions and the uncanny ability to merge into shadows were for.
Seishirou often took to wearing the finest clothing; expensive suits made from exquisite clothes and silks (goodness knows he had the money to spurge) that were often stained with blood before the month was out. He stuck to dark colors – it was in his personality to do that – a side effect of his trade, or perhaps because dark colors were simply more elegant. The end point is that Seishirou knew exactly how he looked every other day: dark hair, eyes shielded by the omnipresent sunglasses and shrouded in a black trench coat.
There was simply no point of having mirrors; Seishirou scarcely needed them, except perhaps for the odd omnyoujitsu or two. The chances of performing those spells were next to nil.
So he avoided mirrors.
Seishirou wore sunglasses for several reasons.
For one, it fitted perfectly with his attire; it boosted the dark aura and it was a way to intimidate his prey. Defense was always the best offense – when his prey were off balance they were less apt to react in a sensible manner.
It was quite boring, sometimes the way they yielded to death so easily, but it was convenient, especially when the Sakura was feeling rather vindictive and hungry.
Besides, that's why he had Subaru-kun. The boy – now that's not right – young man was always off balance, forever marked and scarred and possessed by the Sakurazukamori but was always such a pleasure to watch. The Sumeragi always reacted the way Seishirou expected him to, except often with a twist, and these twists became even more profound as the years went by.
Seishirou took immense satisfaction watching Subaru slip further and further from the naïve, shyly bland boy of 1991 to this darker, more solid version nine years later. There was barely any trace of the Subaru Hokuto coveted, dressed and bossed around, and Seishirou took savage pleasure in that little fact. The Subaru of today, bitter in a monochrome world of swirling greys, was entirely of his creation.
His, of course. Not even Hokuto, the beloved twin, the beloved elder sister, could draw Subaru away from him. Subaru's every thought was devoted to him, the killer of his sister, his betrayer, his first love… if those smoldering green eyes were any indication.
So perhaps Seishirou wore the sunglasses for Subaru's benefit. He wondered idly what effect his mismatched eyes – dark amber and milky white – would have on the young man. Seishirou remembered that Subaru felt horribly guilty over the whole affair; had his prey gotten over it yet?
He had a feeling Subaru hadn't. A person could only change so much, and the inherent trait of feeling guilt and sorrow over things that were not entirely his fault was deeply ingrained in his Subaru-kun.
So he wore the sunglasses. Subaru's heart would have enough emotional turmoil to go through without the addition of Seishirou's blind eye to stir up the pot of emotions even more.
Seishirou wanted their first meeting in nine years to be special, and a breakdown or a straight all out attack by the Sumeragi would ruin that. No, he expected the battle, of course, and felt a minor flash of anticipation for it, but he wanted to talk to his Subaru-kun first.
After nine years, they surely had plenty to catch up with.
There were exactly three people's gazes that Seishirou was susceptible to; they were the ones who made him think and feel a twinge, a tickle of sensation in the depths of his barren heart. They, by no means, invoked any emotion from the Sakurazukamori, but a reaction was a reaction, nonetheless.
Even the faintest light shone bright in absolute darkness, after all.
There was no one who quite saw through him the way Hokuto did. She was, perhaps, the only victim he minorly cared for. There was never a moment of boredom with her, and she certainly made the year of the Bet very interesting, if only by the way she kept throwing her brother at Seishirou.
Then again, there was no one else who managed to forgive him for what he did, either. When his victims died, they always cursed him with their last breath, and for those who could not speak, their eyes shone blood hatred or mute helplessness.
Hokuto, eyes bright and candid like plucked and finely carved emeralds, lay in his arms whispering her wishes and hopes for their future – Sei-chan and Subaru-chan, forever linked together in her mind – and he had deigned her enough respect to hold her for her last breathes on earth.
She was intriguing, although she never held his attention the way Subaru did. So self-sacrificing, to give up her life in hopes of an impossible future, to wish her murderer a happy life.
So far, no one had seen the real Sakurazukamori and managed to say "but I'm still very fond of you, Sei-chan" the way Hokuto did. Her eyes, so very similar to sixteen year old Subaru's, saw infinitely more than her brother's ever did, and for that, Seishirou acknowledged and accepted her as peer.
In a way, he was glad Hokuto was dead; she would have been too dangerous, too knowing, and too calculating for him to continue his games with Subaru-kun in peace. Malleable Subaru gave in to Hokuto's judgments too easily, and she was an expert at the game of manipulation, drawing her brother from danger and placing herself forward as sacrifice when she could no longer shield her younger brother.
No, he wouldn't forget Hokuto's green gaze, sorrowful and insightful and full of hope at the same time. He expected nothing less from the elder twin sister of the Sumeragi head.
Which brought Seishirou to his next victim: the young Sumeragi clan head. It always amused Seishirou how Subaru's eyes utterly betrayed his every emotion. More often that not, they were clear and green, very much like Hokuto's.
Unlike his devious sister, however, Subaru never quite learned how to shield his feelings. Eyes were windows to the soul, after all, and Seishirou was well aware of the helpless, unknowing love Subaru felt for his false persona weeks before the boy finally stepped out of Denial.
What Seishirou enjoyed most about Subaru was the sheer array of thoughts and feelings that shone through his honest eyes: deep determination to abashed embarrassment, boundless sorrow and a passion and understanding that only those of their trade could possess.
Yes, Subaru was naïve, but through his eyes played the caricature of the world, framed by long black eyelashes that could captivate and ensnare the unwary.
Fortunately, Seishirou was an expert at the hunting game and was very much in control.
Nowadays, Subaru's eyes were two thirds shy of life, two notches above dead, and filled wholly with bitterness. It was a severe change from the green orbs of 1991; it gave Subaru the illusion of having more steel in him, a certain maturity that shouted to the world that I am no longer that innocent.
Seishirou enjoyed having that gaze upon him, knowing that he commanded Subaru's entire attention. Their first meeting as twin stars was fairly explosive – it was nice to see that Subaru could pose quite a deadly challenge when he put his mind into it – and while Seishirou kept a fairly steady watch on his prey, both through personal and Shikigami stalking, it wasn't quite the same as seeing Subaru face to face.
For one, he could feel the heat of Subaru's gaze burning across his skin even in the midst of their battle.
And that was something the sixteen year-old Subaru never would have done. Seishirou smiled. Another piece of Subaru signed exclusively to him.
Lately, Subaru-kun's health seemed to be deteriorating at a shocking rate; no doubt nine years of nicotine, too little food, far less amounts of sleep and the Apocalypse were taking its toll on his prey.
Well. The Dragons of Heaven dropped a notch deeper into the negatives in Seishirou's opinion. If they couldn't even take care of their own Seals, how could the world trust its fate in their hands?
The added eye wound couldn't be helping the situation. Seishirou had first hand experience at losing an eye; the burning agony as the body tried its best to heal the critical wound but could not was in a category of pain on its own, not to mention the splitting headaches and the added vertigo not having depth perception gave.
Seishirou was feeling mildly irritated with the Dragon of Earth's /Kamui/; ice cream dates coupled with the negligent destruction of a kekkai or two was a fine way to pass an afternoon, but even the usually unruffled Sakurazukamori drew the line when Fuuma started playing with his prey's mind.
Hunters didn't like other predators encroaching on their territory, after all.
Subaru had been exclusively Seishirou's for scores of years, but with the arrival of the Apocalypse, he, as a Dragon of Heaven, was fair game for any Angel. Fuuma seemed to like toying with Subaru, probably because Fuuma knew it distressed his twin star and the two Seals exhibited the same "emotionally vulnerable" vibe.
Seishirou didn't like sharing.
And he definitely did not approve of Fuuma jabbing Subaru's eye's out, no matter how much the young omnyouji wished for it.
So he decided to follow his Subaru-kun for a little while. His fingers itched for a kill but lately the government had been lacking in that department – no doubt scrambling around trying to deal with the various displays of destruction and keeping city-wide panic from spreading – and he preferred not to pull random victims from the crowds of humans available.
Killing was a form of aesthetics, after all, done with a certain elegance and cool detachment. It made all the difference between an assassin and a common murderer.
He stood atop one of the taller buildings in the Shinjuku district, watching as Subaru threaded his way through the familiar roads. Above and beyond him, he sensed his Shikigami, whirling large, lazy circles around the younger man, ready to lend its eyes to Seishirou if he willed it. As usual, Subaru-kun walked oblivious to the eyes riveted upon him.
An aloof part of Seishirou wondered why the Sumeragi wasn't at the Imonayama mansion recuperating or at least rushing to defend one of the key kekkais. Drifting aimlessly through the city made Subaru a fine target for any watching Angel.
Like him, of course. Not that Seishirou planned to attack Subaru anytime soon. It wasn't time yet.
It was strange how people walked around all day and only saw what was in front of them. They never bothered looking up. And that's how Seishirou managed to run into another one of his fellow stalkers.
Seishirou watched him idly, wondering for a moment who the target was. A spiteful, possessive smirk covered his face at the thought that no one could possibly match his Subaru-kun.
Until the realization that the other man's target was Subaru himself wiped the smirk right off Seishirou's face.
It was his Shikigami that clued Seishirou into that little fact, the way the stalker carefully traced the same path Subaru took, careful never to draw attention to himself. When the somewhat bland looking man stumbled – oh so fakely, in Seishirou's eyes – into Subaru's arms, to be caught by the still considerate Sumeragi, Seishirou knew. Through his shadow eagle's eyes he noted the way stalker's gaze sweep up and down Subaru's profile in such a way that made Seishirou's eyes narrow dangerously.
He didn't quite understand the stirring of feeling within his heart.
It was eating at him from inside, like a nest of termites silently devouring a wide beam of wood. It was silent, and it was slow – and it was extremely disconcerting.
He has seen this particular fellow before, skulking in the shadows luring young girls and other unwitting victims into his chosen stakeout, robbing and having his way with them before abandoning them – most of the time dead - somewhere. Seishirou didn't take much notice of him except to note that he must have some skill to be able to elude the authorities thus far. He did not concern himself with the lesser criminals – the Sakurazukamori was one of a kind.
Seishirou did not concern himself with these petty lawbreakers – they were somewhat akin to furry rodents scurrying through the city – but when anyone drifted too close to his marked prey, Seishirou would make exceptions.
It was never wise to gain the attention of an assassin, especially when he was an Angel and had perfectly legitimate reasons for ridding the world of an extra man or two.
Subaru had politely straightened the man who had fallen against him. Through his Shikigami's eyes, Seishirou noted the well worn hilt of a dagger, strapped conveniently inside the stalker's inner jacket. Subaru did not notice, however, and when he was certain the man was steady, he left on his way.
The half feral, half triumphant look upon the stalker's face was all the excuse Seishirou needed. The next alley the man crossed while tracking Subaru held the Sakurazuka, casually standing by the wall, his immaculate clothing standing stark against the drab background. He didn't say anything, but the stalker must have picked up good instincts during his trade, for the dagger flashed into his hands and flickered in Seishirou's direction in two quick, decisive movements.
A shadow flew between the men, stabbing the weapon out of the air and swooping forward to claw at the stalker's face.
Seishirou stepped forward, ready to finish the kill when a flash of steel barely missed slicing into his arm. It angered him, for this pathetic little creature to have the audacity to target the Sakura's prey, and to continue fighting back. He produced a single black card, and moments later, the man was blasted away to slam heavily into the back wall.
Seishirou almost snarled when his new victim raised his head in a futile gesture of mercy. Green, those eyes spoke to him, green like a deadly serpent's scaly hide and leeching fungi, green like radioactive acid, a mocking caricature that was a far cry from the Sumeragi twins' eyes but yet reminded him all too much of Subaru-kun…
Sharp power lanced through his fingers moments before Seishirou shoved his hand into the man, slipping between the ribs and ripping through the tough heart muscle. He felt it pulse once around his fingers before they burst out the man's back. He watched impassionedly as his victim's mouth rounded in a soundless screech of "no," watched with savage pleasure as the life faded from the face and savored the sharp tang the kill and feel of warm muscle wrapped around his lower arm produced.
Those eyes were nothing like Subaru's now.
He pulled his hand away from the body, leaving a yawning hole in its void. Red fluid flooded out of the gap before the body toppled to the ground, and he did not even consider sending this victim to the Sakura. Seishirou always kept the prey that he killed for his own pleasure. It was always best, after all, to separate one's personal life from the workplace.
He reached into his inner pocket for the packet of cigarettes that lay within, holding his bloodied right hand a careful distance away from his expensive clothes. A rather mute point, seeing how the lower sleeves of his coat was dredged in the dark liquid.
Carefully cradling the cigarette between two stained fingers, it took a few moments before he felt the heated gaze on the dark fabric of his coat.
Swirling around, a cloud of sakura petals already weaving a shielding illusion around him, Seishirou turned to meet a stormily green eye.
One, for the other was swath in a maze of white gauze and bandages.
His Subaru-kun, dressed in the perpetual white coat of his, eyed the petal rain with a wary air before turning his gaze to the sakura assassin.
Regaining his equilibrium, Seishirou gave a slight smirk and extended his hand, blood still dripping small red pearls from the long, graceful fingers, letting the cigarette drop, wisps of smoke wreathing in the air as it fell.
"You caught me red-handed, Subaru-kun." He breathed, smiling vindictively when the younger man's expression darkened, and a quick, almost imperceptible flash of pain shocked through his eye. Still as easy to read as every, his Subaru-kun.
"You killed someone," his voice was flat, planar. Like his vision now.
Seishirou smiled indulgingly. "Really, Subaru-kun, must you state the obvious?"
"He wasn't one of your targets. There's no reason for you to kill him."
Was that a teensy hint of anger behind that pretty voice? "But he was targeting you." Seishirou said reasonably. "And you're mine."
"I don't belong to you." Subaru's voice was sharp. His eye lingered on the dead body, drowning in a wide pool of blood. "I know he was after me. I've seen him before; he has a notorious reputation. I am also capable of dealing with him myself, in ways that are not so lethal…"
Subaru raised his gaze, eyes hooded. "I know he probably deserves this. That doesn't give you the right to judge other people, especially when you're no better. What you did, Seishirou-san, was wrong."
No heat, no passion in his words. Just a simple statement of fact, spoken with a mournful and acceptant air.
It annoyed Seishirou, the way Subaru accepted it so easily. Then again… it also intrigued him.
"Be careful, Subaru-kun," Seishirou breathed, letting his eye flicker towards the body, "Or you could end up like him. Except…"
Seishirou stepped closer, backing Subaru into the wall, ignoring the flare of white power around the Seal's hand. Trapping Subaru's wrist above his head with a negligent move, he traced the curve of the alabaster cheek, leaving a red streaky trail in his wake. "I'll never be so crude. When I kill you, Subaru-kun, it will be done in style. That, I promise you."
Part of him liked the way Subaru did not shy away from his gaze, not backing down despite being trapped between his arch enemy and a very much solid wall. Subaru was tensed; muscles strained in sharp readiness to defend itself against any attack, but other than that, a bland indifference covered his face.
Seishirou was slightly surprised when Subaru's free hand shot up, not to strike or even touch him, but took hold of the frames of his sunglasses instead.
"Why do you still wear the sunglasses, Seishirou-san?" Subaru's voice was soft, richly colored with emotion. They froze in position for a moment, forming a tableau of black and white and low voices, and the only indication that Seishirou even heard his words was the slight tightening of his grip on Subaru's wrist, forceful enough to send tingles of pain down the limb but not enough to completely shut off blood circulation. It was a dare, Seishirou's way of daring Subaru to do more, to say more. The older man was silent.
The challenge was answered when Subaru wrapped his fingers around the frames and pulled the glasses off Seishirou's face in one swift movement. He dropped the accessory on the floor, the impact not quite great enough to shatter the stout glass.
Quick as lightning, Seishirou darted a hand out, and trapped the offending hand, leaving the Sumeragi uncomfortably positioned with his arms stretched high above his head. He leveled his gaze on Subaru's face, hindered not, for once, by the sunglasses' tinted shadows.
"Does it bother you, Seishirou-san? Make you feel… vulnerable, perhaps? There's nothing to hide behind now."
"Hardly," Seishirou replied evenly. "Although I am curious as to why you did that." He sniffed, a mock display of hurt. "Why Subaru-kun, it's quite forward of you, to thrown away my favorite accessory. One would think that you didn't love me!"
He had expected Subaru to react somehow, either jerking away in memory of those pretentious days or to hiss at him to stop. What he did not expect was the cat-like smile on Subaru's face. They didn't tell Seishirou anything except that Subaru had changed, somewhere in between it all.
Only his eye, still so vulnerable, managed to convey a sort of fragile emotion whose message was lost on Seishirou.
"You're so determine to deceive yourself that maybe you don't even know it yourself." Subaru whispered, half speaking to himself. "You hide everything behind your duty that I'll never know – you'll never know – if you truly…"
The words trailed off as Subaru raised his head slightly, locking his green gaze with Seishirou's seeing amber eye.
"I want to see the real Seishirou-san. No lies. No deception. No rose tinted glass. Just you - pure Seishirou-san."
It was ludicrous, how Subaru could still think this way nine years after everything. It was a laughable situation – but neither of them even cracked a smile.
"It's years and years too late for that, Subaru-kun." He didn't catch his own mistake. "What makes you think that I'm not the real Seishirou? I really can't be bothered to create that many personas, you know."
"Why haven't you killed me, Seishirou-san?"
Once again, Subaru's words caught the Angel slightly off guard. He chuckled, low and deadly.
"Because you amuse me."
"Do I?" Subaru muttered. He wiggled his hands experimentally, testing Seishirou's grip. "Let me go."
Slowly, Seishirou relaxed his hold on Subaru and stepped away.
The Sumeragi shook his hands to encourage blood circulation, ignoring the mute lines that carved the inverted five point star on them. Instead of locking his hands in the familiar spell casting pose or pulling out his clan's white ofuda, Subaru merely stared at his twin star.
And a moment later, he carefully stepped on top of the fallen sunglasses.
Seishirou clearly heard the sharp snap as the frames broke apart, and when Subaru grounded his heel in, twisting it slightly, came the soft tingle of shattered glass.
Subaru did not once glance away, his face indecipherable. When he was satisfied that the sunglasses were irreparably damaged, he stepped forward, planting a quick, chaste kiss on Seishirou.
It was fast lightning fast, like an wild butterfly flirting from flower to flower, a mere brush of lips against lips. And when Subaru spoke this time his voice was soft; lilting.
"Don't wear them anymore, Seishirou-san. When I look at you I want to be able to meet your eyes."
Subaru drew back, not waiting for a response, and with one majestic sweep he was gone, leaping from building to building back to the Imonayama mansion.
Seishirou stood there, a cooling body and a broken twist of glass and frames at his feet. He wasn't surprised – hardly anything evoked a reaction from the cool Sakurazukamori. The empty gnawing ache within him was gone, replaced by… something.
Something that reminded him of the soft petals of a sakura blossom, gentle and fragile and snowy white.
Seishirou looked towards the direction Subaru had disappeared from. The young man's presence burned pleasantly at the back of his head, where the ties the inverted pentagrams upon Subaru's hands were tied to.
So Seishirou avoided mirrors because he didn't have any reason to and also because he didn't – couldn't – meet his own gaze. The glint of light reflecting off the blind eye, white and glossy, was the living proof he had lost the Bet; lost it long before Subaru even admitted his feelings, because no sane person would give up something as critical as an eye for the sake of a mere object, a mere thing that he sought to play and break down. Most of all, a Sakura assassin did not play for keeps; he toyed with his prey until it lost or broke and then he killed it. There was no reason for allowing Subaru to live if Seishirou was truly as heartless as he claimed he was.
And then there was this: what was the point of saving someone – at the cost of an eye – when you planned to kill that very person in a few short days?
Mirrors were the bane of Seishirou's existed because they reflected a truth he could not deny, and his gaze, the mismatched symbols of his sacrifice and his ties to Subaru, was the third pair of eyes Seishirou could not ignore.
Each time he looked in the mirror, a kind vegetarian's keen eye shone back at him, a white orb of pureness that mocked his shadowed existence. That eye was preserved in time forever, trapped during a period when love, affection and close camaraderie was palpable in the air. Instead of the cold, predatory matching amber eyes Seishirou was accustomed to, he could only see everything he had chosen to deny when he killed Hokuto and ruined Subaru's life.
Thus the sunglasses; a thin layer of tinted glass the hid his eyes from the world, and at the same time hid Seishirou from himself. Those glasses were perpetually present, even within buildings and the gloom of night. It was such a simple contraption, the concept of sunglasses; two small tinted frames of glass enclosed by a frame. Yet it is this simple combination of inanimate parts that bound Seishirou, because by wearing these glasses he could never confront his own emotions or – heaven forbid – admit them.
And with one lithe movement, Subaru had managed to unravel it all.
"I want to see the real Seishirou-san. No lies. No deception. No rose tinted glass. Just you - pure Seishirou-san."
That's what Subaru had said. Seishirou's twin star had no sense of self preservation. He should have long abandoned Seishirou, stopped his insistent hunt and search for his sister's killer and work quietly – most effectively – by his Kamui's side. Instead, Subaru kept coming back to Seishirou, like an errant moth who knew that it would burn but could not resist the allure and warmth of a candle's flame.
Perhaps it was time Seishirou saw the world through his own eye, without anything obstructing the way. We're not asking for miracles; we don't expect him to suddenly declare love to Subaru. But perhaps little by little, day by day, Seishirou might finally come to realize that he could genuinely step beyond the role of an Angel, a Sakura assassin.
He could stop putting on roles and just be himself.
Mirrors, gazes and sunglasses were ties merged into the tapestry that was Sakurazuka Seishirou, bound together by the one influence of Sumeragi Subaru, and by Subaru, were broken.
Maybe the title's kind of random, but tapestries are created of multiple parts that eventually merge into one larger picture. Hopefully this fic echoed that. Constructive criticism would be much loved – it's not my best work as it's slightly rushed, but I hope I did it justice.