Title: Tool

Author: Zalia Chimera

Pairing: Hints of SeishirouXSubaru

Warnings: Angst, spoilers for all of Tokyo Babylon

Notes: Takes place Post-Tokyo Babylon, Pre-X/1999

Disclaimer: Don't own Tokyo Babylon or any of the characters.

Summary: Subaru's first cigarette.

It was his brand, the one he used to smoke. Subaru wasn't quite sure of the logic that made him choose that brand, was less sure still of what made him decide to buy them in the first place. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but he didn't want to be like Seishirou, not any more, and he wouldn't flatter the Sakurazukamori. He needed to distance himself from that person.

He tapped the first cigarette from the box, exactly the same way that he'd seen Seishirou do it and rolled it between his fingers for a moment before putting it to his lips.

He needed to despise him.

Subaru glanced towards the door and then tugged off his gloves violently, dropping them onto the table. Another small rebellion.

The stars etched on the backs of his hands were revealed and maybe it wasn't such a small rebellion after all. He swallowed thickly as he stared at them, his eyes flicking to the crumpled gloves as he contemplated putting them back on. He was meant to keep them covered at all times. Even Hokuto...

What did it matter now? There was no-one to protect except himself and flimsy gloves would hardly prevent the Sakurazukamori from finding him.

Maybe it would even be for the best.

He shrugged the thought away, forming a small ward in his mind. Thoughts had power and he didn't want that one to be heard. He fiddled with the lighter for a moment and then touched the flame to the cigarette warily.

The first breath burned his throat and his nose, smoke coiling in his lungs. He tore the cigarette from his lips as he began to cough violently. Vile. Painful. Disgusting.

The second drag was little better and left him spluttering for air once again. The third made him choke less but burned more, tears from the smoke stinging the corners of his eyes. The first since that day.

He had almost stopped noticing the burn and the sting by the time he finished the second cigarette and he ignored the way his stomach roiled uncomfortably.

Seishirou's clinic had been empty when he had gone back there, the cages and charts and vetinary equipment gone as though it had never been there. He was sure that if he checked, there would be no records. The layers of magic that Subaru hadn't even noticed had been stripped away, making him feel strangely vulnerable in a place that had meant safety for the last year.

There had been one thing left and he fingered it in his pocket, creasing and uncreasing it repeatedly. Maybe the photo of the three of them had just been left there mistakenly, but he doubted it. He clenched it into his fist. After all, everything else that the Sakurazukamori had done had been coldly calculated, planned to manipulate him best. Why not this?

He should have burned it. He had intended to. He had torn it in a moment of anger, unable to bear seeing his smiling face again.

Then he had carefully taped it back together, matching edges with the patience normally reserved for his family duties. Tried and failed and tried to convince himself that he had a reason for it. To make sure he could remember his face, even though it was burned inescapably into his mind. To remind him of his purpose, even though it haunted his dreams at night and his every waking moment.

A scrying tool. That was what it was. A tool, a focus for his obsession. Nothing more. Nothing more. Not a memory, not a treasure. A tool.

Something to bring him closer to Seishirou, a way to understand him and hunt him. Just like the cigarette. Just a tool.
He sneered down at his hand, at the star marked on his skin and jabbed the tip of the cigarette down into the centre, gritting his teeth as it burned his skin for a moment before going out.

He squeezed his eyes shut, biting back a choked noise, crushing the photograph of Seishirou in his pocket.

Just a tool.