It's times like this when he wonders if he'd done something very wrong in a past life, something he doesn't remember but continues to pay for, that left him strangely cursed in this life. Not that Subaru actually thinks that he's cursed, but he wonders sometimes. Right now, though, a curse is really the least of his problems because he's busy running and trying not to fall over.

He hates seeing blood. No matter how many times it happens, he still can never quite get over the shock of finding out that someone had just idied/i, right there in front of him. It makes his stomach quake and his knees threaten to buckle. He probably would be freaking out a lot more about it – Officer Kurami had been his ifriend/i and he'd just been imurdered/i, like Subaru was about to be – but he was a bit busy trying to stay alive.

His mind was busy making calculations. How many people had known that Officer Kurami had been sent to guard Subaru while he cleaned the abandoned – not so abandoned, they'd found out – estate? How soon until someone expected him to check in? Hokuto wouldn't think to look for him until late tomorrow. He'd warned his twin that the job was likely going to take all night and that he'd be exhausted when he got home. He already was exhausted from the large amount of the estate he'd already managed to cleanse, which made running so much more difficult when all he wanted to do was find a nice corner and go to sleep. As it was his body had decided it wasn't going a step further until he at least rested for a moment.

Subaru turned the corner, listening carefully to make sure the sounds of pursuit were still far off, and leaned back against the wall to catch his breath. He could stop, just for a minute. Only for a minute, and then he needed to run again, and hopefully make it to the door.

There was always Seishirou, but Subaru knew better than to count on the mysterious veterinarian for help, even if he did have a knack for showing up at the right time and saving Subaru. Hokuto called it fate. Subaru was just grateful and maybe, in a corner of his heart, love-struck. But Seishirou was in Tokyo and Subaru had been quite firm, insistent even, that Seishirou didn't need to bother himself with visiting Subaru on the job.

Everything would be fine, he'd said. It was just a ritual cleansing. What could go wrong?

A lot of things could go wrong, especially when no one told him that the sale of the property had been contested and that the last living member of the former owner's family was out-of-his-mind insane.

He narrowly dodged the knife as it embedded in the wood right where his head had been less than a second ago. The gods of fortune had decided to smile on him, it seemed, because the knife stuck and wouldn't come free, giving Subaru time to scramble away while the madman, the former owner's nephew, a man he'd only heard referred to as Rie, screamed in outrage and tried to pull it out.

The door couldn't be that far off. It was a twisting, winding old complex. He'd already run though half of it, having to double-back and change routes every time Rie appeared in his path. Subaru had had a few hours to acquaint himself with the complex, Rie had had over a decade.

He turned a corner and there it was – a door, not the one he'd come in through, but it'd work. He was much happier with his chance of survival outside as opposed to in. He could hear Rie's feet pounding against the wooden floor not nearly far enough behind him so he didn't slow down, didn't bother stopping to open the screen door. Subaru lifted his arms to cover his face and dove, aiming for what he hoped was the weakest part of the aged paper and wood door.

His inner conscience winced at the wanton destruction of property that he'd purposefully caused, but he pushed that down. He could afford to pay for a door, assuming he lived long enough for it to matter. He screamed as sharp, cracked wood bit into his arms and sides as he pushed his way through the door. Blood splashed against the screen as he passed through, but at least he was through.

He hit the floor on the other side with his shoulder and rolled, letting his initial momentum carry him forward as he heard Rie break his way through the door after him. The porch ended sooner than he'd expected. The first of the stone steps hit him in the chest, knocking the wind out of him. The second hit him in the side. He never felt the third.

Strong arms lifted him upright. Subaru had a brief moment of disorientation, made worse by the fact that he was very, very close to passing out. He smelled cigarette smoke and familiar cologne.

"I'm afraid this one's mine," he thought he heard Seishirou say, except that Seishirou wasn't supposed to be here.

Then Rie screamed, and it sounded worse than the ones before, like he was in pain. Subaru's eyes slid shut and he fainted.

*****

"Honestly, Subaru, I don't know how you get yourself into these situations," Hokuto said as she bustled around Subaru's apartment.

He blushed and wondered if it would be childish of him to hide under the covers. He was tired and his chest hurt, two very good reasons for his sister to be pitying him instead of yelling at him, not that he expected Hokuto to stop. At least the couch was soft and the blanket kept him warm. The painkillers the hospital gave him made his fuzzy enough that he could almost tune Hokuto out.

"And then you ifainted/i, right into Seishirou's arms. It'd be romantic, if you weren't such a hopeless case."

Subaru's blush deepened. "I did not faint." He'd merely been knocked unconscious by his injuries. There was no way he'd fainted.

Hokuto shot him a look. "You fainted. Swooned like a little girl."

"You weren't even there!" He winced as the shout made his chest constrict painfully. Hokuto looked apologetic for a brief moment, long enough for him to settle back into his nest of pillows and blankets on the couch before she whirled on Seishirou.

"No, but Seishirou was. He'll back me up on this."

The older man put down his tea cup and smiled politely at Hokuto. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to side with Subaru-kun on this."

Hokuto just snorted. "Only because you're trying to get into his pants."

Subaru groaned and pulled the blanket over his head. It had to be the painkillers making him think that that wouldn't be such a bad idea, though he knew Seishirou was only teasing him about liking him. But, part of him kind of wished that it wasn't just a joke. He had the stirrings of a crush towards Seishirou, not that he'd ever admit it out loud. It was the kind of blushing love that made him actually almost faint sometimes, whenever Seishirou was there to catch him, but only because he knew that he was safe with Seishirou, like he was Subaru's knight in shining armor.

"Well, they are rather nice pants. Quite fetching on him, really."

He whimpered and decided he wasn't coming out for a long while.