AUTHOR'S NOTE: "Innocence" was the first fanfic I ever wrote, over nine years ago when I was still in college. Up until now it's only been posted to the CLAMP Fanfiction Archive (a spinoff of the CLAMP Mailing List, which I was a regular member of at that time). I thought I'd tune it up a bit (well, removing footnotes! Ugh, I was young then...) and post it here to a theoretically wider audience. I've kept the use of honorifics intact because it adds a great deal to the way Tokyo Babylon characters express themselves, and because if I have Hokuto running around saying, "Sei-chan" it looks absurd to leave out the honorifics towards everyone else. Oh, and it must be obvious, but I'll say it anyway: I have no idea whatsoever how the Tokyo police department is organized!
Subaru Sumeragi, only sixteen years old and yet the thirteenth head of Japan's most respected clan of onmyouji, looked up from his seat on the playground bench.
Subaru's sister was running towards him. Despite the fact that they were boy and girl, they could easily have been taken for identical twins, an impression only emphasized by Hokuto's energetic, outgoing nature and Subaru's gentler personality. Hokuto was always chiding him for not being assertive enough, and yet it never seemed right to Subaru that he put himself forward at someone else's expense...
"Is something wrong?" he asked as Hokuto vaulted neatly over the chain-link fence surrounding the tiny park.
"Oh, Subaru, what are you doing here?" she asked. He noticed that she was wearing her latest fancy-dress creation, which appeared to be dozens of pieces of four-leaf-clover-shaped cloth sewn together, each one a different size and a different shade of green. "We've been looking all over for you!"
"I was watching the sun rise." He pointed; it was true that you could see the rosy glow of dawn cresting over a row of buildings that were just short enough to let the sun be seen before day properly began.
"Oh, how beautiful!" Hokuto exclaimed. "I didn't know there was such a place in Tokyo, so close to our apartment building!" Her green eyes sparkled with happiness.
"Tokyo is full of surprises." It was a man's voice, a warm, rich tenor, and Subaru turned his head towards where it had come from, realizing who the "we" that Hokuto had mentioned was.
"Good morning, Subaru-kun."
Dr. Seishiro Sakurazuka, veterinarian, twenty-five years old, stood on the other side of the fence. He was lean, handsome, and quite a bit taller than the Sumeragis. He had a kind smile, and hid his brown eyes behind narrow glasses.
"Sei-chan stopped over to have breakfast with you, Subaru. He's such an ardent lover," Hokuto teased. "I wish I had a man who would wake up in the dark hours of the night so he could come spend the morning with me!"
"Hokuto-chan!" Subaru protested, reddening. His sister and Seishiro always teased him like that, as if the two men were destined lovers or something. That was silly, of course, since they were both male...
It was silly, wasn't it?
Subaru's gaze flicked back to Seishiro.
"Well, let's go eat then," he said, covering up his thoughts.
"Oh, that's not why we came looking for you," Hokuto said, shaking her head vigorously. "While we were waiting for you to come back, a case came in for you!" She handed Subaru a fax.
"This modern age captures even onmyouji, doesn't it?"
Subaru scanned the fax as the three walked back to his apartment.
"What is it?" Hokuto asked eagerly.
Her brother looked up in surprise.
"You don't know?"
"It was a fax for you. I wouldn't...read..." She broke off under the combined weight of Seishiro's amused gaze and Subaru's exasperated stare. With a theatrical sigh, she admitted, "Oh, all right, we ran out after you before I had a chance to read it."
Seishiro suppressed a chuckle, but his eyes were laughing.
"It seems that a young woman is being haunted by a poltergeist," Subaru read.
"Poltergeist?" Hokuto tried out the unfamiliar Western word on her tongue. "What's that?"
"It's an invisible spirit that inhabits a person, or a household," explained Seishiro, displaying a knowledge of occult matters that, as always, took Subaru by surprise. He had been amazed to learn that the ordinary-seeming animal doctor also could use magic; there was surely far more to Seishiro than appeared on the surface. "It makes objects move, knocking them over, hurling them about..."
"It sounds like uncontrolled psychokinesis," Hokuto mused.
"That's one explanation people have suggested, that poltergeist effects are generated by untrained psychokinetics lashing out unconciously because of strong emotion."
"You're so smart, Sei-chan! Isn't he, Subaru?" she hinted broadly.
"Well, er..." Subaru murmured, blushing again.
"Subaru-kun is so cute when he blushes," Seishiro commented.
"Uh-huh!" Hokuto agreed, nodding.
Hokuto chattered away happily on various other topics for the rest of the walk, thankfully avoiding the subject of romance, until they reached the spot near the siblings' building where Seishiro had parked his car.
"You're not stopping in for breakfast after all, Sei-chan?"
"Subaru-kun is going to start the case right away." Seishiro turned to Subaru. "Aren't you?"
"That's right. If someone needs my help, it would be very wrong of me to waste time over breakfast."
"Oh, Subaru, you have no pride at all," moaned Hokuto, but he could tell that she was proud of his dedication.
"Where is the case at?" Seishiro asked.
"Umm...Shinjuku," Subaru said, checking the report.
"Perfect." Seishiro smiled dazzlingly. "I'll give you a ride there. I don't have any appointments for this morning," he added, forestalling Subaru's inevitable protests, "so it will be no trouble at all."
Seishiro's expert driving got them through the crowded Tokyo streets in good time; he found the small, neat apartment building where the client lived with the kind of knowledge that only taxi drivers and local policeman usually possessed.
"I'll wait here for you," he told Subaru.
"Thank you very much, Seishiro-san."
A white-haired old woman with eyes clouded by sorrow answered Subaru's ring.
"I'm Subaru Sumeragi. Are you Mrs. Kimura?"
"I am. Thank you for coming at such short notice, Mr. Sumeragi; please come in."
She showed the young onmyouji through the foyer to a Western-style combined kitchen and dining room. The elderly woman indicated a chair, and poured him bitter green tea from an automatic tea-maker.
"Machine-made tea," she said, joining Subaru at the table. "In my youth, we never even imagined such a thing. Now we have machines doing all kinds of jobs for us. Of course, your generation grew up with such things, so you must be more comfortable with them than an old lady like me."
It reminded Subaru of what Seishiro had said about the fax machine.
"Well, I suppose you didn't come here to listen to me ramble," Mrs. Kimura told him as he sipped his tea. "For a famous onmyouji to help a poor family with their problems..."
"But your problems are as important as anyone else's!" Subaru protested, genuinely distressed that the old woman would think differently.
"You are a kind boy," she told him, smiling sadly.
She looked down at her tea, then back up at Subaru.
"In any case, you are here to help my granddaughter-in-law. Poor Midori is the one being haunted."
Mrs. Kimura nodded.
"My son and his wife died when my grandson was only two years old.I raised Keiji by myself...Just two months ago, he married Midori. Theywere so happy..."
She blinked away the tears welling up in her eyes.
"He died in an accident last week, Mr. Sumeragi, and ever since then, Midori has been plagued by this demon. It throws things, knocks furniture over, and it gets worse each time! I'm afraid that eventually she will be hurt or killed!" Impulsively, the old lady reached out and touched the back of Subaru's gloved hand. "Please, you must find some way to help her! She's all I have left of Keiji..."
"Mrs. Kimura..." Subaru's heart went out to this woman, who had seen too many of her family die young.
"I'll do my very best!" he promised her.
Subaru set down the teacup.
"May I see her?"
Mrs. Kimura nodded.
"All right," she said, getting up. "It's this way."
She lead Subaru down a short hall and knocked on a door.
"Midori, the onmyouji I told you about is here."
"It's all right, Mother, if you'd like him to come in."
The girl's bedroom was Western-style, like the rest of the apartment, except for the empty space where the futon would be set out at night. Subaru noticed a few masculine things, such as a gold watch on the dressing table and a rack of ties, that told him the dead man had shared this room with his wife.
Midori Kimura was very beautiful, with a light complexion and delicate bone structure that gave her face a refined look. Her eyes were wide, veiled by long lashes, and reddened from crying. A handkerchief was crumpled between her long, slim fingers.
"I want to help you, Midori-san," Subaru told her gently.
"Go away!" she told him sharply, her voice filled with such bitterness and despair that Subaru jerked his head back in surprise. "I don't believe in your magic, and I don't want your help!" He started to turn away, but she held out her hand, suddenly apologetic. "Oh, please, no...I'm so sorry, I promised Mother that I would let you try, and she has been so kind to me..."
The elder Mrs. Kimura glanced at Subaru. He nodded, and she left the room.
"I'm going to try and see if I can sense what is causing the trouble," Subaru told Midori. "Would you sit down, please?"
She gratefully sank into the dressing-table chair.
Subaru closed his eyes and began to chant an incantation, attuning himself to the aura of the room. If a spirit had been active, he could have sensed it immediately, but such things could also hide, lurking out of sight...or, as Hokuto had suggested, the cause might be something else entirely. Steadily, he could feel his inner "eye" opening to all of the psychic influences that had recently acted on the room and the girl.
He gasped, shocked out of his trance by what he felt: sorrow, hatred aimed at Midori, rage, and something else beyond the pure emotional force, the definite presence of a ghostly being. Subaru could feel it there, surrounding the young widow. It wasn't hiding, not really; it was more like it was asleep, as if it was resting, gathering its strength for its next appearance.
Then, like a light sleeper awakened by the step of someone passing by their room, it came to full conciousness at the touch of Subaru's mind.
He could feel it in the room now without benefit of special spells or incantations; the blazing hate surrounding the invisible form was unmistakable. Though the spirit itself was unseen, its presence was not. A picture frame shattered. The watch flew across the room, striking the wall. A hairbrush just missed Subaru's head.
Acting quickly, Subaru began chanting out a spell to bind the spirit, to entrap in in a form he could deal with directly rather than this incorporeal, intangible presence. As if it could sense what he was trying to do, its energy shattered the mirror, crushing it into a hundred small, sharp slivers of glass, which sailed through the air in a deadly arc. Subaru flung himself out of the way of the glittering stream, avoiding most of the damage, but his cheek was cut by one of the flying shards. The stream of glass whirled in the air, then gathered in a cloud and exploded outwards. The slivers tore at Subaru's clothes, but most were not directed at him but at Midori. Dozens of the little knives embedded themselves in the carpet and table around her, but she was not scratched. A heavy book leapt off a shelf and flung itself at her, missing by only inches.
This is getting dangerous! thought Subaru. I have to work fast!
He began to chant again, quickly, gathering power. There was nothing complex in this spell, just quick and dirty action. Pulling out a charm marked with cabalistic signs, he held it up as he finished the spell. The charm burst into intense blue flame, and Subaru threw it into the center of the room, where it exploded into brilliant light.
Sighing, he dropped to his knees. The poltergeist was gone, for now. Fortunately, it had only been a weak spirit, and relatively easy to repulse; only the suddenness and violence of its reaction had put Subaru on the defensive. Now, though, it was out of reach, and he could not work a proper exorcism upon it.
Midori was crying into her hands with harsh, wracking sobs.
"Midori-san, it's all right!" Subaru exclaimed. "It's gone."
"Oh, why did you do it?" she wailed. "Why did you drive it away?"
She looked up at Subaru with despairing eyes.
"Don't you understand? It's all my fault! It's a punishment for me! I should never have taken him away from Ayaka...It would never have happened!"
She began to weep again.
"Oh, Subaru, why didn't you just let it kill me?"