Author's Notes: For 20 Sacrifices on LJ. Title is Latin for "Day of Wrath," and is also the name of a well-known hymn.


Dies Irae

.o1

Aoyagi Seimei was born in a hospital at 3:00 PM. Misaki's labour was unusually long, and when it was over she was too tired to even hold him. Instead he was attended to by nurses, who gathered around him and cooed over his silence and full head of black hair.

Surrounded by clean white and high-pitched giggles, Seimei's introduction to the world was the feeling of being loved.

o2.

Seimei read his first book at the age of three. He tried to ask Mother why the mad captain would be so obsessed with something as awful as killing a whale, but she was too busy showering him with words of praise and telling him that she would buy him anything he wanted if he kept being such a wonderful son. Father didn't seem to care, walking the other way and mumbling about spoiled children growing up selfish.

But, Seimei thought, if he was so good and so talented, as Mother said, didn't he deserve it all?

o3.

Seimei was four and reading a book about samurai when Mother came in. She was glowing, and Seimei smiled at her and waited for the good news (about me) that would surely come. It was an unpleasant surprise, then, when she happily informed him about the family's new gift of a second child.

Neither of the parents understood when he screamed and locked himself in his room.

o4.

A week into Mother's third trimester, Seimei had a dream about smothering his new sibling with a pillow. He told himself that it was a nightmare.

o5.

Aoyagi Ritsuka was born in a hospital at 5:00 AM. Father drove Seimei, kicking and screaming, to see him, and Seimei shouted that he didn't want to look at the ugly thing because he already hated it, and he hated Father, and he hated Mother, and what had he ever done to make them need another?

It all changed when the tiny bundle was handed to him. His frown morphed into a look of wonder, and a sleepy face smiled at him and gurgled. This soft, tiny thing couldn't possibly be a baby. Weren't they supposed to be red and loud and dirty?

"Don't drop him," a nameless voice warned.

"Ritsuka," Seimei whispered. It was not a reply.

Aoyagi Ritsuka was born in a hospital at 5:00 AM, and by the next hour Seimei had learned what it was to want.

o6.

"We're going to share a room," Seimei told Mother as they were driving back home.

"No," Father said automatically.

"Seimei," Mother said more gently, "babies need constant attention. He'll wake you up at night."

"I don't care. He's my brother and I want to know him."

Better than anyone.

Seimei was pleased to discover that he would always get his way.

o7.

Ritsuka did wake often in the night, wailing and wailing at the top of his premature lungs. Mother and Father frantically tried to soothe him, worrying that it might be a fever, or maybe something even worse.

"He's lonely," Seimei informed them, rolling his eyes. It was obvious, and as parents they should have known. He took Ritsuka away from them and cradled him, and the baby let out a contented sigh and fell back asleep.

o8.

Ritsuka grew up fast, and it was a time spent building fortresses and going on adventures and chasing butterflies. Seimei's favourite part was always bedtime, because before sleeping he would read to Ritsuka and then kiss him goodnight.

Sometimes he didn't even go to sleep, finding staring at his brother until morning to be far more interesting.

o9.

Seimei was fourteen when he met Agatsuma Soubi, a Sentouki who had beauty and no self-worth. He was perfect, or as perfect as that kind of creature could ever hope to be. Seimei gave him a name he would not soon forget.

1o.

Seimei was already a murderer when Ritsuka lost his memories. With his red-stained hands he lovingly bandaged the wounds that stupid harpy inflicted, and when they walked together they would always entwine their fingers, one set pure and the other tainted. The people stared at the spectacle they made, a tall and beautiful boy connected to a short and scrawny one. They stared and stared and stared, and it was almost sad, because their primitive minds would never be able to grasp what they looking at.

There was only the two of them, but they weren't lonely. Seimei hummed and swung his arm slightly, laughing as Ritsuka was propelled forward with an undignified squawk.

11.

The world was dirty, and so it was no surprise that filth could be found in the most unsuspecting places. Even something as innocent-looking as chocolates was covered in metaphorical vermin. Ritsuka would thank him later, he knew, smiling a bit as he threw the entire box in the waste bin.

12.

"My real name is Beloved."

One who is loved. It was made fitting by every(thing)one who knew him, but he realized that it only meant much of anything when Ritsuka's eyes lit up at the sound of it.

13.

Shortly after Ritsuka knew the truth, the world ended.

14.

Aoyagi Seimei died at the age of seventeen. While his corpse was burning he was in the bathroom, skittishly attempting to scrub the gasoline off of his fingernails.

15.

Birds were supposed to be lower maintenance than dogs; in Seimei's case it couldn't have been farther from the truth. The dog had listened, at least, and had given him what he wanted: a one-sided adoration that could be openly manipulated. This new pet didn't know its place, and it grinned and questioned his word when it should have held it as law. It was a difference that was intriguing and endlessly irritating at the same time.

In the end, though, he still held the cage, and if the bird tried to fly away he would just have to clip its pretty wings.

16.

"You're mad." Nisei's tone was utterly neutral, as if he were making an observation rather than an accusation.

"Maybe," Seimei agreed, adjusting his glasses and smiling coldly. "But what you think doesn't really matter, now does it?"

17.

One day he caught himself hoping that Ritsuka would approve of the world he was creating for them, and he had to read a book to calm himself down (because he should have known, not hoped).

18.

Nisei was calling (begging) him. His life must have been at stake to turn that normally self-assured voice into sheer desperation, and Seimei almost laughed. He ignored the pleas and kept on walking, though not out of anything complicated like punishment or vengeance.

He simply had more important things to do.

19.

He had never liked that man. He touched Seimei's things and even tried to claim them as his own, and oh how that angered him. His face was hideous in its judgmental glare, as well, but the eyes were the worst. They looked at him like they were better than him, and such a lie could never be permitted to exist.

He played God and reached for his knife to slash the offending pair out.

2o.

Blood was on his hands, literally this time, and even though he was twitching and on the verge of hysteria, he thought he might as well put it to good use. The recipient of the note deserved a better one, a love letter perhaps, but a short greeting would have to do. Ritsuka would know what it meant, anyway. He always knew.

I'm home.