AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the third and last of the three TB fics I wrote nine years ago. For this one, I let my inner fangirl take over (I think everyone who's a Tokyo Babylon fan has an inner fangirl even if, like me, they're male) and wrote it as a story where Subaru and Seishiro are a couple. But, since I'm a mildly obsessive nut for canon, I managed to find a way to squeeze it into the timeline...okay, a very distorted timeline, but nonetheless this entire story takes place between the last panel of page 159 and the first panel of page 160 of the TOKYOPOP edition of manga volume 6!
Hokuto Sumeragi whistled happily as she strolled along the busy Shinjuku street. She caught the attention of more than one passer-by, but the pretty sixteen-year-old didn't care. Hokuto's exuberant and generous personality was all but irrepressible under normal circumstances; today, she was far too happy to hold it inside herself. Her twin brother, Subaru, had finally fallen in love! Subaru had always been the self-sacrificing type, who would do all he could to insure that other people would be happy but never gave a thought to his own self-interest. It was so good, Hokuto thought, to see her little brother doing something that brought him joy.
It was also good, of course, to have her own instincts proven right. From the first moment she had met the handsome veterinarian, Seishiro Sakurazuka, she had been of two minds about him. There was something about him that teased at the edge of her subconscious, something dark and dangerous that didn't match up with the light-hearted, teasing man that Seishiro seemed to be. It was something more than just his name, which called up images of the assassin group "Sakurazukamori," an ominous force that the Sumeragi clan had confronted in the past. Hokuto was certain of that...Even so, in the eleven months she had known Seishiro, she still hadn't been able to completely pin down her feelings, or identify what caused them.
The flip side of that coin, though, was that Hokuto had been completely sure, from the instant she had laid eyes on Seishiro, that this was someone who could get Subaru to take down the barriers he had built around his own heart. That was why, despite the danger signs, Hokuto had not attempted to drive the two of them apart, but had instead actively encouraged the relationship. The fact that Subaru and Seishiro were both men had been, at best, a secondary concern, and one quickly dismissed as irrelevant (except, of course, for entertainment value; she loved to tease Subaru about it, just to see him stammer and blush -- what were big sisters for, after all?).
"Whoops," Hokuto said aloud, "I got so busy thinking that I walked right past Sei-chan's clinic." She turned, dashed back past four storefronts, and pulled open the door to Seishiro's veterinary offices. "I'm back!" she called cheerily. "After all, if I'm gone too long, you two will get up to something dirty!"
Subaru turned beet red. The two twins looked exactly alike, despite the fact that biologically it was impossible for identical twins to be of mixed gender. Brother and sister had the same pretty face, the same wide green eyes, the same short, boyishly-cut black hair. Perhaps oddly, Hokuto was the daring and assertive one, while Subaru was shy and gentle.
"Ah, your sister has caught us out, hasn't she, Subaru-kun?" Seishiro was tall and handsome, with a low-pitched smooth voice. His eyes were a bit startling, the left a soft, rich brown while the right was blank, a milky blue film covering the iris. He had lost the sight in that eye when he had stepped in front of Subaru to defend him from a woman who had temporarily gone insane, and was slashed with a knife for his pains. Ironically, it had been that incident that had led to Subaru realizing his true feelings for the older man.
"Seishiro-san!" Subaru blushed even more hotly.
Seishiro shook his head sadly.
"Even now he's still such an innocent. Of course, that's one of the things that is so cute about him!"
Hokuto laughed, and hopped up into a chair, setting several bags down on the counter.
"Well, as a good sister, I shall come to his rescue. Lunch is served!"
"McDonald's, I see," Seishiro observed.
"You did give me complete discretion!" Hokuto noted.
Seishiro smiled wryly. "Well, I was a bit occupied with the mother akita at the time."
"Precisely!" the elder Sumeragi twin exclaimed triumphantly. "I believe your exact words were, I'm afraid I won't have time to go for lunch with you today, Subaru-kun,' at which point I, like the loyal sister I am, jumped in and offered to go get lunch and bring it back here." She frowned suddenly. "You and Subaru really need to put some more imagination into your dates. All you ever do is eat! I swear, you two are getting fat! Why don't you take Subaru to a motel?"
Subaru choked on his hamburger.
"Never mind, Sei-chan, I think I know why," she grumbled. Really, Subaru needed to take control of his own life. He was a man in love, the object of his affections loved him back, so what was he waiting for?
Seishiro picked up his strawberry milkshake and sipped. "I really don't want to rush things, you know. I'm still trying to convince Subaru-kun that I accept his feelings for me."
Hokuto stole several of Seishiro's french fries and began munching.
"Oh!" she suddenly exclaimed between mouthfuls. "How is the akita doing?"
"As well as can be expected for someone who just had six children."
"You should have seen the puppies, Hokuto-chan!" Subaru put in happily. "They were so cute!" Subaru loved animals; in fact, he wanted to be a zoo breeder if he could find a successor capable of assuming his responsibilities as head of the Sumeragi family.
"Where? I want to see!" Hokuto exclaimed, her eyes lighting up.
Seishiro smiled at her. "They're in the second room in the back; my assistant is with them. Be careful; they're much too young to be picked up or played with."
"Don't worry, Sei-chan." She hopped off the seat, grabbed Seishiro's entire package of fries, and darted off towards the back of the clinic.
Seishiro sat quietly, watching the young man across from him.
"You know, Subaru-kun, your sister is right."
Seishiro smiled warmly. He had three different smiles, Subaru had noticed. One was the teasing smile, that seemed to light up his face with laughter. This one was different; it was an intense smile that communicated affection and caring.
The third smile Subaru didn't see very often, and was glad of it.
"I don't mean about taking you to a motel, of course," he said with a faint chuckle. "Not that I wouldn't enjoy such a thing," he inserted with a wink of his sightless eye, "but that I can wait for. No, what I was thinking was that there are many places in this Tokyo that are perfect for a couple in love to go to share their feelings. Places of beauty, where you cannot see all the unpleasantness your work exposes you to, and impressive places where you can see what humans have been able to do that is positive."
"Seishiro-san...I...that sounds wonderful."
Seishiro reached across the counter and covered Subaru's gloved hand with his bare one.
"It's a date then? This Thursday...you'll let me pick the spot, Subaru-kun? Place yourself in my hands?"
Subaru nodded, smiling shyly. There was a curious light in his bright eyes that Seishiro had never seen before, something hinting at deep feelings. It intrigued Seishiro that he was capable of inspiring that kind of emotion in someone else. He might have said something more, or perhaps Subaru might have, but the moment was broken forever by the chime signalling that the door was being pulled open.
"Pardon me," the newcomer said, looking around, "but is Dr. Sakurazuka here?"
Seishiro stood smoothly, crossing the room to stand next to the man. Unlike Seishiro, this man was of average height for a Japanese, slightly overweight, hair iron-gray and slicked back. There was something about him that indicated power, but also a certain softness, something that no one that made ultimate decisions, whether political, military, financial, ever had. Ultimate responsibility hammered softness out of a person. One could be honest, or kind, or merciful and still retain power, but someone who was weak soon became a figurehead, or was ousted. Seishiro estimated that this man was some kind of middle manager, with some level of control but largely deriving his authority from the greater organization he was part of.
"I'm Dr. Sakurazuka," he stated.
"Ahh, forgive me, Sakurazuka-san." He reached into a pocket, pulled out a handkerchief, and mopped his brow free of the heavy perspiration that dotted it. It wasn't that hot out; apparently the man was extremely nervous about something. Seishiro thought of Subaru, who watched with idle interest. "My name is Eiji Sakamoto, of the World Pacific International Corporation." He handed Seishiro his card. "I know this must seem like a strange request, but I have heard that Subaru Sumeragi, of the Sumeragi clan of onmyouji, is a friend of yours and often can be found here."
Seishiro raised one eyebrow, the one over his blind eye, naturally. He hadn't known that he was filed away in places under the heading, "known associates of Subaru Sumeragi," though he supposed it was a reasonable consequence of spending time with someone like Subaru, who became known to many organizations with power and importance. It still disturbed him, however. Seishiro valued his privacy highly, and he would have to do something about the intrusion.
"You're in luck, Sakamoto-san," Seishiro said, mostly so Subaru wouldn't have to introduce himself and therefore admit that he had overheard the two men's conversation. Subaru was like that; he hated to be impolite. "Subaru-kun is here right now." He stepped back to allow Sakamoto to pass, and indicated where Subaru was sitting.
"You're Subaru Sumeragi?" he asked, surprised, as many were, by Subaru's age.
"I am," Subaru said, getting to his feet. "Good afternoon, Sakamoto-san; it is good to meet you," he greeted the man politely.
"Y--yes, good afternoon." Obviously, Seishiro estimated, this salaryman had been taken aback by Subaru's appearance and had lost confidence in him -- a foolish way to judge people, but then Eiji Sakamoto was almost certainly a fool in more ways than one. Too, Sakamoto was not here on his own behalf but at the behest of a superior. Someone had, no doubt, instructed Sakamoto to find Subaru and hire him on behalf of the company, and it was that authority that kept Sakamoto here, stammering through the interview.
"Sumeragi-san," he began, "my superior has sent me to find you. We could not reach you by phone, or at school, so as a last resort I came here. Our company has need of your services, as the head of Japan's greatest family of onmyouji."
Hokuto chose that moment to come out of the back room.
"Oh, Sei-chan, the puppies are so cute!" She stopped suddenly. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize that you had business to take care of."
"Actually, Hokuto-chan, it's your brother's business."
"Really?" She wasn't sure if that was good or bad. Work could help Subaru fit his new feelings into the accustomed flow of his life, but it could also keep him from properly sorting them out.
"Sumeragi-san?" Sakamoto said to Hokuto. He couldn't miss the resemblance; he also couldn't miss Hokuto's latest fancy-dress creation, which resembled the March Hare from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," right down to the oversized (prop, not real) watch and the bunny ears. Hokuto watched the expression of dismay grow on the staid salaryman's face and grinned, barely repressing a giggle at his consternation.
Sakamoto quickly turned back to Subaru.
"Sumeragi-san, my superior, the company president, is certain that you are the only one who can help us. There has been a killing...the police are investigating, but there are certain elements of the crime that are...confusing."
Hokuto knew what that meant. Inexplicable things, hinting at unnatural forces...things that could cause more trouble and bad publicity for the company while the police attempted to track down a natural-world killer. Of course, if people were being killed by magical means, it was Subaru's duty as the thirteenth head of the Sumeragi clan to prevent it, regardless of the motives of the one hiring him.
"The police do not generally welcome the involvement of private individuals in murder investigations," Seishiro commented.
"Well, we'll just have to go with Subaru for moral support, won't we?" Hokuto caroled. No police detective was going to push her brother around!
"That's a good idea, Hokuto-chan," Seishiro approved. "Do you mind, Subaru-kun?"
"No, not at all...only, are you free? I know you have your own work to do, Seishiro-san."
Seishiro shook his head.
"No, the akita mother is in fine condition and my assistant can handle things from here. That was the only appointment I had today."
Subaru smiled gratefully.
"In that case, I would be very glad to have you join me."
Hokuto grinned. Her brother wasn't even looking at her when he said that. It was a good sign, she thought.
"Well, don't just stand around, let's get going! Men...all talk and no action!"