Glass 13: Birds
Fuji put on the coat once it was dry. It was far more ambiguous than the dresses, and though it met the requirement of being made for a woman, he looked like a well dressed young man rather than a frilly girl. The brunette's smile radiated off his face, as bright as the sunlight that shown through the ceiling holes.
It was faint, but the barest of smiles reflected off Tezuka's face as the effeminate vampire twirled excitedly, somehow dancing even in his tiny space. Lately, the hunter had felt a growing desire to make that space expand.
But this barrier is something neither Jyake nor Atobe could break, Tezuka thought, nor any of the other vampires that have been here. If even Fuji himself cannot break it...
"Fuji... we need to talk." Will he be trapped forever?
"I know." The vampire smiled at him both brightly and sadly. "I'll answer your questions, but you have to do something for me first."
Nodding, Tezuka waited to hear his request.
"Step all the way inside the barrier."
Hazel eyes narrowed slightly as he considered what was being asked of him. Trust. Fuji was asking for his trust. Not a forced, reluctant trust that Tezuka had given Yukimura, but a choice. Without being able to change or disperse the column of light, the only thing he could truly choose was whether to enter all the way into it, or stay on the other side where the vampire couldn't reach.
Once he starts, he'll go all the way and kill you. Yukimura's words rang in his ears, his heart pounding as he stepped through the barrier. Though he'd entered many times, except for the time he was wounded, he'd always left himself in a position where he could quickly back away. He'd been stupid, he mused in retrospect, to have let his guard down as he was seeping blood, but at the time he hadn't been able to think straight.
Now he felt as though he was being asked, will you come in? Will you choose, with your head on straight, to place yourself beside me?
It was a question he realized he had already answered, from the first time he crossed the circle to give the vampire water.
Fuji's lower lip trembled as the hunter met his gaze, before a genuine smile appeared and the small brunette wrapped his arms around the taller one in a hug. His pale face buried itself in Tezuka's broad chest, the questions the hunter'd been meaning to ask fleeing from his mind as his arms slowly encircled Fuji in turn.
They spent a moment in silence, listening to each other breath, to Tezuka's fast beating heart, Fuji's quiet sighs, the air perfectly still around them. Soon they relaxed into the mutual embrace, Tezuka's fingers drifting mindlessly through honey brown locks, encouraging the lithe being to talk.
"Sorry... I just wanted to do this. ... For a while now..."
The vampire released his hold, but Tezuka stayed as he was. "It's fine. ... Tell me what you've been thinking."
Smiling against the hunter's sweater, Fuji spoke with ease. "That man... Yukimura-san... he makes me feel like a child. It's like being with Atobe." Clinging to the hunter's arms, the lithe brunette closed his eyes as he sighed. "I don't know how to deal with them."
As if I do, thought the hunter with a snort.
"They both show up now, one after another, even though I've been here for so long. Jyake's dead now..." A dark tone seeped into the vampire's soft voice. "I'm worried... I think something is going to happen."
"It's just a feeling. My sister had the power to interpret cards that read the future, so maybe I have a fraction of her ability." He shook his head. "But it could just be a feeling."
He did warn me about Atobe coming... thought Tezuka. An image of his mother, Tezuka Ayana, flashed through his mind. "Fuji, tell me about your power. Not what the others have told you... what you yourself know."
"Hm..." The effeminate brunette hummed, and for a moment Tezuka thought he wouldn't tell him. But Fuji started with a calm voice. "Sometimes... I can see the universe. It isn't like looking up into the stars but... I can see ... as if I'm outside of the universe, looking down upon it. Everything is tiny, all the galaxies, the stars, I can't even tell which one is the Earth."
Unable to see where this was going, Tezuka thought to interrupt, but decided not to.
"...Sometimes, its like I'm a speck of dirt mixed into the soil, looking up at a canopy of trees, but I'm so small and the trees are so large... sometimes, I'm deep within the earth, buried there, captured there, coveted... sometimes, I hear these voices calling, they don't belong to anything remotely human but I understand what they're saying... I think... they're the songs of birds...
"It's hard to explain, but I think this is my power. For me, using magic is more natural than breathing... I don't cast spells like the others do, I don't have to chant or write out symbols... I imagine what I want in my mind, and form it into a shape, and it happens.
"Sometimes when I do, I can feel the presence of something greater... greater than... me, you, Atobe, the earth, the universe... I hear it in the bird songs...
"And I'm afraid of it."
Glass 14: Human
They heard a knock on the door.
"Don't answer it." Fuji hugged him tightly, as if to say, Stay here with me, like this... "I have a bad feeling."
Tezuka closed his eyes, willing himself to see the door, envisioning it in his mind. He sighed when nothing came other than his imagination. His was an inconvenient power, never working how he wanted it to.
Whoever it was was pounding loudly enough that they could hear him up in the attic, and he - or maybe she - was rather insistent. It was not an odd time for visitors, being the middle of the afternoon, but he was not expecting anyone to visit. Yukimura and Sanada, perhaps? But they had indicated that they would come when they were needed, and Tezuka had a feeling that smiling blue haired beau would simply let himself in rather than bang on the door.
Tezuka backed out of the circle with a sigh, leaving Fuji pressed anxiously against the glass. "I'll be right back," he assured the cerulean eyed male.
The door was still being knocking on when he tore it open, throwing an irritated glare at an equally irritated looking boy staring back at him. The kid sized him up for a second then smirked, his golden brown eyes giving off a bit of a glint. His olive black hair matched his school uniform, a traditional black gakuran, and he had what looked like a sports bag, maybe a tennis racket case, slung over his shoulder.
Tezuka considered slamming the door back shut, not wanting to deal with the pranks of some local village kid, but instead he gave one of his infamous death glares, hoping he'd intimidate the boy into leaving. It had worked plenty of times before, but the pre-teen just smirked more cheekily.
"I was in the area, and I heard this where that famous guy, Tezuka lives."
". . . You mean Tezuka Jyake." Who are you, he thought, but was too annoyed to ask.
"Hm..." the boy's lip turned down a bit, in to what was maybe supposed to be a pout, but instead he just looked bratty. "That's too bad, I heard he was a pretty good fighter."
The best in asia in his youth, Tezuka thought with sealed lips. Whoever this cocky kid thought he was, the hunter was not one to pick a fight. Who are you.
"But he was like, super old or something right?"
"... You never met him?"
The kid shrugged, striding into the house as if Tezuka's conversing with him was invitation enough. The bespectacled hunter sighed, following him in, feeling used to people barging in against his will. At least this wasn't a vampire, but there was something about him that Tezuka found disconcerting, other than Fuji's warning.
After taking off his shoes, the boy looked around, whistling as if he found the Western style house fascinating.
"Who are you?" Tezuka deadpanned, his voice brimmed with annoyance, but actually he felt weary. He had a funny feeling in his gut and fingered the silver blade he kept tied to his thigh, following the kid with his eyes suspiciously.
The kid looked at him with a cocky grin. "You should introduce yourself first when asking for a name right?"
Tezuka snorted outright; it wasn't as if he'd been given a chance to. "Tezuka Kunimitsu... Jyake's nephew." And heir, but that was a detail he didn't care to add.
Something about that name struck a chord in Tezuka's memory, but he couldn't recall what it was. Maybe he'd heard of this kid while frequenting the village. The boy seemed like some sort of infamous trouble maker.
"... How old are you?" He asked, his frown deepening as he noticed the pre-teen looking around.
"Twelve," Echizen voiced loftily as he ran his hand along the wooden banister. He was half way up the stairs when Tezuka pounded against the wall, the loud noise stopping the kid in his tracks.
"Just where do you think you're going?" The feeling in Tezuka's gut had changed from uneasiness to dread. This kid...
Echizen took off running, and Tezuka did not enjoy chasing the damn brat up the stairs to the second story. Worse still, the attic stairs were dropped down like an open invitation, screaming for the pre-teen to race upward. A second behind, the hunter grabbed the rascal's arm just as they entered the uppermost room. Fuji was still pressed against the glass, his forehead wrinkled in worry, and Tezuka thought he heard the vampire call to him.
But he didn't have time to think, as Echizen suddenly swung around, his free left hand no longer empty but bearing a short switch blade. Tezuka let go just in time to avoid having his arm sliced, instinctively jumping back and arming himself with his own dagger in a matter of seconds. He parried a second attack, then side stepped to avoid Echizen's follow-up slice, meeting the kid's blade with his own and twisting his wrist, sending the raven haired boy's weapon arm up in the air.
This kid was obviously skilled, but Tezuka more so. Echizen's face was calm but his eyes menacing as the hunter held his knife just below the boy's chin.
"Hm... so you're that Tezuka Kunimitsu."
"What do you want with Fuji?" Tezuka growled, realizing he'd been toyed with. The kid knew all along who he was and about Jyake being dead...
"What does any hunter want with a vampire?" Echizen smirked, "Of course to kill-"
Without completing his sentence, Echizen suddenly kicked high and cartwheeled backwards, again putting Tezuka on the defense. The dagger's short reach was too limiting, so the hunter lunged for the entry way, drawing out a spare katana he'd kept hidden there ever since the incident with Atobe.
"Tezuka, he's half vampire!" Fuji screamed, and the hunter shot back to face his attacker, his eyes widened in surprise as Echizen's eyes began to glow gold. The sports bag, which had fallen near the entrance, shook and then flew to the dark haired imp, bursting open to reveal a variety of weapons inside.
"Actually, only a quarter," the boy smirked, as the weapons lined up in an array before him, held by invisible telekinetic strings. "Funny, now that I've activated my power, that thing's voice sounds muffled, like it's coming through water."
The blades, varying in length and shape, all swiveled to face Tezuka. The hunter barely had time to react as they viciously rained down on him in layers. He dodged what he could and parried the rest, a few managing to nick his skin before embedding themselves hard into the floor. But he had no time to be relieved as Echizen was leaping at him from behind the wave, a katana thrusting towards him. It should have been impossible to avoid, but Tezuka had dragged his rosary out of his pocket and managed to catch the blade on the loop, yanking it to the side. It harmlessly impaled the wall, but he could not counter Echizen's foot, which slammed hard into his shoulder.
Tezuka screamed as the wound Atobe made ripped open. Echizen must have been able to smell the remnants of blood with his vampiric senses. He kicked at it again, forcing Tezuka's hand to reflexively release the katana and shoving the hunter hard into the wall.
"I don't kill humans. Stop getting in the way," Echizen sneered, pulling his katana from the wall and turning towards the attic's center, where Fuji stood yelling and banging at the ethereal glass.
Delirious with pain, Tezuka struggled to keep his eyes open as his assailant surveyed the column of magic that kept Fuji trapped. Through the hazy agony, a memory drifted before him of an Echizen Nanjirou - an infamously powerful hunter, also a Shinten maestro, who'd been deeply in love with a woman. When he'd almost died during a hunt, he'd converted himself to a vampire by drinking the blood of the one he'd slain, so that he could be with her. Love for a maestro was hence forbidden.
They'd had a half-blood child, or so the story continued, though Tezuka had heard it was a female. "You're.." he choked, "Echizen Nanjiro's..."
"Grandson," Echizen shrugged, uninterested in the one he'd defeated. He reached his hand towards the barrier, Fuji's eyes wide on the other side. The hand sank into the glass, as if stretching into rubber, fingers pushing in a few inches before the pre-teen pulled back. ". . . How entertaining." The boy grinned with the eyes of one who liked to be challenged. "I guess I could disconnect from my vampiric lineage, but it looks like this thing would kill me the moment I stepped inside."
Tezuka would have thought Fuji wasn't capable of killing anything, even a fly, but looking at the current brunette's face gave him an echo of doubt. The cerulean eyed vampire was practically seething, his eyes glaring murderously at the black haired boy then flashing in concern towards Tezuka. He didn't bare claws or fangs, but the hunter felt a tingling sensation at the back of his neck, as the honey haired being hummed with invisible magic. Fuji didn't plan on going down easily, even in his four foot wide prison.
Somehow, the hunter felt relieved. But that feeling was obliterated as Echizen called his sword to him; it vibrated strongly before flying to his hand. Tezuka had seen it closely enough to make out the hunter magic etched into both its handle and blade, a specially crafted work that was most likely passed down through the Echizen line of maestro.
The blade slashed down towards its target, passing unaffected through the magical barrier. It looked like it was about to slice through Fuji's hand, as he had raised it in defense of his head, but the sword shuddered and held barely a breath away from the skin. Eyes coming into focus, Tezuka made out a small, round shield of magic projected above the vampire's palm, efficiently and elegantly blocking the incoming steel.
"That magic..." The boy's voice was filled with awe. "Neither a vampire's nor a hunter's." A smirk danced across the boys lips, his eyes glowing with excitement at the challenge set before him. "But if it wasn't like this, this would be a waste of time. I suppose I'll have to break this, after all."
A light chant tumbled from the pre-teen's mouth, a sheen of golden light covering his sword with a vampire's aura. The chant changed forms, and the hunter's symbols on the sword projected outward. The violent mixture of opposing powers sent a sickening wave through Tezuka's gut, making him waver nauseously as he was trying to stand.
Echizen let out a shout like a pouncing samurai, swinging his sword wildly at the column of light with all his strength.
A chaotic sound like the shattering of glass roared through the attic, barely covering Fuji's scream as he ducted and covered his head with his hands. The magical wall tore into pieces and flew in all directions, searingly bright as it exploded in the dusty rafters.
Then suddenly an electric sound like a thousand volts surged out of the air, and Echizen threw himself backwards with a shocked cry, just quick enough to avoid being impaled by the lance of electricity the bolted down across the circle. The entire outer circle began dancing with bolts of lightening, that shot from the glowing symbols to the rafters, where more symbols were visible now that they were glowing too. Fuji lay flat in the center, pinned beneath the dozen electrical streams that threatened to tear through him should he stand.
"A second barrier!" Echizen shouted in frustration. "Jyake thought he could stop me with this- this feeble hunter magic? "
The gold eyed hunter began hissing out a counter spell, but before he could finish, Tezuka leaped at him with his katana back in hand. The bespectacled hunter was still dizzy, and pain seared through his shoulder and arm, but his thundering heart kept him moving. He lashed out an attack, but his swing was too wide and unfocused. The younger hunter had just enough time to jerk backwards out of the path of the blade, but in doing so lost control of the magic gathered in his hand.
The half formed symbols flew out like a grenade, straight towards Tezuka's chest. He didn't have time to react before a heavy weight crashed into him, and for a split second he thought he'd been struck - before he realized that what hit him was not magic gone awry but a body.
Fuji. Fuji was somehow in front of him, somehow crashing into him, sending them both flying back into the wall, and now the vampire was against his chest, a dead weight sinking into his arms. The lightening had disappeared, the symbols of the outer circle wiped clean by powerful antimagic.
"Why," Fuji cried, his voice trembling and frighteningly weak, "why are you doing this? Why are you attacking us? You must know..."
Tezuka looked at his palm when he felt something moist, and saw blood so thick it was black, covering his skin. "Fuji..."
Laughing, Echizen stalked towards them with the grin of one well entertained. "Of course I know. That's exactly why I came."
The peacoat was slashed deeply across the front, revealing deep gashes within Fuji's chest and stomach. A human would have been dead, but even for a vampire the small brunette was bleeding very little, his body trying to retain what tiny amount of precious liquid it still had left.
"A glory like no other. I'll repeat the event from six hundred years ago, when your predecessor was slain - I'll bring it to realization, the Fourth Dawn!"
Hands shaking, Tezuka pulled the ruined coat from the vampire's shoulders, setting the wounded brunette against the wall. He didn't know how to mend wounds on one who wasn't human, he didn't know how to help his friend, except by the most obvious way...
"It will complete the purification! The final death of all vampires in the entire world!"
Enervated cerulean eyes looked up at him, wavering with a hint of need, and it seemed as though they began to glow. Tezuka bent towards them, his lip quivering slightly with hesitation as the consequences flashed through his mind, but he realized he didn't care. He could feel Echizen was almost upon them, ready to strike now that the boy had finished his tirade.
He covered Fuji's body with his own, knowing he no longer had the mobility to fight the empowered teen, praying that the boy would keep to his word about not killing humans. If only Fuji were not so badly wounded, Tezuka had seen enough to know the small vampire had more than enough magic to defeat this chimera of a hunter. Resting his head against the trembling brunette's shoulder, Tezuka offered the clean expanse of skin that he knew would be able to save at least one of them.
But Fuji didn't drink. He wasn't going to drink, even now. His instincts should have been screaming at him, lusting for blood, for the vampiric elixir of healing, but as he took hold of Tezuka's chin, and raised his head so that their eyes met, it was clear.
Echizen should have had plenty of time to kill them now. To grab Tezuka, subdue him with blended magic, and pierce the vampire's heart with silver. Tezuka's eyes slid upward to find the young hunter not looking back. No, the raven haired youth seemed unconcerned with them, certain that his prey would not escape, staring instead towards the ceiling with a heavy scowl on his face.
The roof exploded.
Wooden planks rained down, the scarlet darkness of the evening sun descending with them. Bats stormed around the attic's perimeter, a flurry of brown and white furred familiars unable to enter without invitation but chattering viciously with squeaks and shrieks.
"Hmph," the boy smirked, unphased by the chaos. "It isn't as if there's anything they can -"
He was cut off when a silver lined shadow reached out and snagged him by the collar. He shrieked but had a quick enough reaction to swing around his sword, breaking the hold of the shadow but not able to reach it with his blade. The dark mist swept out of his range, gathering and solidifying into the form of an outraged Atobe Keigo.
Without pause, Echizen was chanting and mixing a hunter's ward spell with a devilish blood circle, eyes glowing eagerly as he prepared to dauntlessly attack one of the strongest vampires in Japan. The spell would have struck in a deadly instant - but the teen suddenly spun around, aiming the bolt straight towards Tezuka and Fuji.
Then a second shadow, lined with gold, dived through the air. Echizen was forced to send the spell defensively charging towards it, but it gracefully evaded with the elegance of a hawk, before wrapping itself around the teen's sword bearing arm. The shadow formed into the lithe body of Yukimura Seiichi, who's hands both gripped Echizen's until the youth screamed and dropped the sword. Atobe slipped his hold around the teen from behind, and it was only an instant before the two vampires had the young hunter magically bound.
"...ha...haha..." Echizen panted, a twisted grin stretched across his face, "So even the strongest had to team up to beat me... but it's too late, it's already started."
Tezuka turned back to Fuji, horrified to find those two cerulean orbs glowing back at him. It was not his imagination - something in Fuji was growing, and now not only his eyes glowed but his skin had begun to glow as well.
"Tezu..ka..." Fuji shuddered, holding the wound on his stomach in a useless seal, "..ru..run..."
"Fool!" Yukimura screamed, eyes burning with anger as he turned on the crowing hunter. "You think you'll survive at this range? This is the birth of a star that will burn even humans!"
Glass 15: God
Japan's strongest and most ancient vampires sneared in hostility behind him, and over a douzen of their familiars fluttered overhead, but all Tezuka cared about right now was the small being before him. An eerie, yet beautiful pale light eradiated from Fuji's body, strongly from his eyes and also from his skin.
Despite the mystical cover, the deep wounds on his chest and stomach showed no signs of closing. The scarlet glimmer of blood was not growing, as it would for a bleeding human, but was slowly turning an ashen grey. Tezuka had a sickening feeling of what would happen when the red vanished altogether.
"Tezuka...please... run," Fuji gasped between breaths, his head drooping on his shoulder, his eyes struggling to stay open. "I can't...can't control... if I drink... or stop... this power..."
"Fuji," Yukimura stepped towards them, leaving Ryouma to Atobe's binds. "The last Dawn destroyed almost all vampires in east asia, and killed the humans within two hundred miles with its light. If the Dawn comes, it won't matter how far Tezuka runs."
"I'm not running," Tezuka growled. He kneeled and took Fuji's hands in his own. "This will stop if he heals, right?"
"No..." Fuji sobbed. "I won't... I can't..."
Yukimura nodded, and Tezuka tightened his lips in determination.
"...I killed... I drank...from a priest... and killed him..."
"Tezuka, wait. There's a better way." Yukimura laid his hand on the bespectacled hunter's shoulder, motioning for him to lift Fuji. "Bring him to the center of the circle."
Gently scooping the small brunette into his arms, Tezuka moved him to the center of the attic, oblivious to the pain throbbing in his shoulder. The vampire felt weightless, as though he were made of air. Tezuka had always thought of vampires as cold, but they never really were, and Fuji was the warmest being he'd held in years. But now, his body and skin were like ice, cold and white.
A firm hand gripped Tezuka's wrist, and he was pulled away from the circle Fuji lay in by Sanada, who he hadn't realized was there. Yukimura stepped in his place, kneeling before the younger vampire and pulling him up in an embrace.
"You can't kill me," the bluenette reminded him, tilting his head to the side to unveil his nape. "You need to drink to heal. This is why the priests gave you to us immortals."
Fuji did not look convinced, but he was too far gone to argue. It seemed as though his head rolled forward, and then his upper lip drew back, the tell tale fangs elongating from his incisors. They pierced the column of exposed skin, drawing a gasp from the effeminate bluenette, followed by a moan.
Several seconds passed, then Yukimura's shaking hands were placed on Fuji's shoulders, and suddenly the elder vampire screamed as he shoved the brunette off of him. Sanada leaped forward to grab him, pulling the trembling vampire away, the hunter's eyes widening as he saw the burns covering Yukimura's hands.
"Seiichi," the raven haired hunter's concern was put aside by a shake of Yukimura's head.
"I'm alright," the bluenette quickly drew himself together, hiding his blackened palms in the folds of Sanada's coat. "I only meant to let him bite for a moment, but he was so forceful I couldn't pull away."
"Not now," Yukimura smiled slightly, turning back to Fuji.
The honey haired vampire looked up at them, his body bathed in an intense light, his eyes a sharp, vivid blue. What crosses remained glowed brightly around him, then grew so hot they turned red and began to melt. The magic circles began twisting and creating new patterns on the attic floor. With the roof destroyed, light streamed in from all sides, but as the darkness of dusk rolled in, Fuji's overwhelming brightness became more and more apparent.
"That was enough to stabilize him physically, but he'll need more to regain control," Atobe interjected, his voice cold with a chilling anger. "He needs human blood," he sneered, his silvery purple eyes twisting towards Echizen. The young hunter had stopped laughing some time ago and was looking rather pale.
"No, it can't be him." Tezuka stepped into the inner circle, ignoring the tendrils of energy that were waving off the floor, no longer bound to planar dimensions.
Once he placed his hand over Fuji's, the magic erupted into a spectacular display of ribbons of white light, swirling about them both in a double helix. It was hot, blinding, lifting their hair and clothes like an obstinate wind, and beyond it, Fuji's eyes glowed like crystals struck by the sun.
It was terrifying.
"It's god's magic."
The head priest watched with a cold, tired face, looking through the window at the small boy playing in the snow. The laughing brunette couldn't have been older than eight or nine. He was twirling, his arms in the air, and the light snow swirled with him, dancing in a pattern. Shapes were forming as it fell, adding onto the well crafted figures already carved out - snow men with features that reminded Tezuka of the priests, a bundle with cat ears and a scarf, blocks well carved into the shape of a church... they were being created not by human hands but by the falling snow.
Fuji was almost radiant, the smile wide on his face, and he didn't seem lonely, having so much fun out in the snow alone.
It was also very beautiful.
"It's better if its someone intimate," Tezuka breathed, remembering what Yukimura had explained to him before. He kneeled down, pulling the small brunette against him in an embrace. Fuji did not resist, nor was he limp - he seemed entranced by his own magic. "Fuji - Syuusuke, you're going to drink from me, and I'm not going to die."
Those striking orbs of sapphire shifted instantly to pierce into his own, and a small smile crept on to Tezuka's lips. "Listen to me. The Shinten line is strong because only someone with special powers can marry into it.
"While my father was a hunter, my mother was a seer, and though I have little control, I've inherited her power. I usually only see the past and occasionally the present, but just now, I know I saw the future.
"I saw the two of us together, standing in the sun, wearing summer clothes..."
He took Fuji's shaking hand into his own, wincing at the feverish heat that radiated off the vampire's flesh.
Our feet in the sand, the wind in our hair...us laughing, smiling, holding hands...
Maybe Fuji believed him, or may he could no longer resist. The brunette placed firm hands on Tezuka's shoulders, and bit down into his neck.
Glass 16: Years
He'd waited his entire life for this moment.
This sensation, the sense of blooming, him, Fuji, the earth, the universe, and he knew he was seeing inside of Fuji's soul, riding along the prodigal power, delving into a vision of feathery light. He was soaring, up from the attic, out into the star splattered sky, on the twisting, caressing wind. He was passing into a silvery fog of cool moisture, onward and upward, going beyond into a space of sky trapped between layers of endless white. The darkness of night was dissolving behind him, overcome by the array of sunlight pouring out and drawing in the day; the brilliant star that gave earth life was blazing before him, unbridled in its magnificence without atmosphere to shield it.
And at the same time, he was falling, gently yet quickly gliding downwards, through the floor and the trunk of clothes and the living room furniture and into the ground, deep into the protective stone of the earth and the warm, maternal fire below it. The fire within the world felt as powerful as the one above it, and as he drew towards the center, he could see, feel, swim with the flowing streams of souls that weaved around it, all connected, all pouring into the inner core.
He began to hear the call, the song, the melody that cried of neither life nor death but of existence itself. The twittering of birds that answered it, the gentle hum of the core and the coos of the singer, the lyrics that were no language man could distinguish, unless they could grow feathered wings.
Perhaps he should have been frightening, but instead his heart was soaring, for what made it wonderful was not the sights, or the sounds, or the sensations, the exploration of new places or the discovery of new perceptions, but the fact that he knew, even without being able to see, that Fuji was there with him.
And then he could see it, or rather feel it, a presense that was neither one of them, an awe inspiring power, a great pressure imposed down upon him, crushing him against his own soul, which as powerful as he'd felt just before left him nothing more than a meager speck before this omnipotent, terrifying being...
He gasped, eyes wide, and there was Fuji, looking down on him with tear stained cheeks and wrinkled eyes. Whatever it was that just happened to him, the moment was broken, and it was nothing like the visions he had. He'd been there, up in the sky, down in the ground, and he was sure if it had gone on longer he'd have seen the stars and the universe, just as Fuji had described.
The shaking vampire cried out a relieved sob, covering his mouth with his hand, as he caught on to Tezuka's tell tale movements. Tucking his hands around the hunter's shoulders, Fuji helped him lift his head and gently moved him onto his lap.
"Stay, stay still," Fuji choked, stroking back the shaggy locks of brown that Tezuka felt pasted to his skin. "You're anemic."
Groaning, Tezuka tried to sit up anyway, only to find whatever blood he still had had rushed to his head, pulsing and giving him the hangover of his life. The pain decided to further grace him by shooting down his spine into the rest of his body, and he was once again reminded of the tear in his shoulder muscle, his hand reflexively gripping at the screaming wound.
"I think I need to re-do the stitches," Fuji whispered, pressing his hand down on the bandages. Tezuka nodded his agreement with a grimace, deciding that taking a rest was about all he could handle right then.
"Hey," a high pitched whine interrupted, coming from the rafters above. "Are you guys gonna make out or can we come in or something? We've been waiting up here for hours and its boring."
Eyes flashing up, Tezuka made out the speaker, a vaguely familiar looking redhead hunched next to a bespectacled bluenette, both of whom he recalled seeing in one of his visions. Hazel orbs glanced around frantically, taking in the many familiars that crouched around the broken edges of the roof. By the looks of it, one side of the roof bore familiars from the Atobe clan, including the two from his vision, who were busy hissing at the set on the other side, which he assumed must have been Yukimura's. They seemed evenly matched, Atobe's slightly greater in number, but Yukimura's clearly had magical supremacy. Either way, Tezuka knew they would be impossible for him to deal with, and he hoped they'd find some other place to duke it out and leave him alone.
"They said they need an invitation from the legal house owner," Fuji explained with a shrug. "Even though I've lived here longer, or maybe it doesn't count because I'm a vampire too, but I couldn't let them in."
Tezuka responded with a glare, having no intention of letting anyone else into his house, vampire or not.
His lips twisted into a frown, as it clicked that Fuji had been trying to give the invitation, which deepened once he realized that Atobe was there - clearly within the property boundaries.
Despite Fuji's protests, he forced himself up, instinctively bringing up his guard. "I thought my uncle only allowed you to visit once after he died," the hunter scowled.
"That last time was so short it doesn't count," the diva huffed.
Tezuka almost flabbergasted, finding it unbelievable that a vampire could make his own bends in the absolute rules of the supernatural.
He wasn't the only one glaring. Yukimura was standing on the other side of Echizen, who was trapped in a magic circle, and Japan's two strongest seemed to be having a mental face off of who could throw the most sparks. Meanwhile, the child hunter was pouting inside his cage, clearly unhappy with the conversation that was being daggered back and forth over his head. Yukimura was in the process of arguing that it was he, not Atobe, who would be escorting the kid home, "because you'll turn him the moment you get your grimy little paws on him. I've seen the way you've been eyeing his ass, just as you used to eye my Sanada's-"
"On and on about 'your Sanada'," Atobe rolled his eyes. "I just thought he was some special thing," he sniffed, "since you were so interested in him. But he turned out to just be an ordinary brainless hunter."
Tezuka could see very clearly why Yukimura wanted to kill him.
The lithe vampire was glaring quite darkly, his chin dropped, letting the shadows cover his face. "If I hadn't lost so much blood, I'd kill you right now."
"Ore-sama does not know what he's done to deserve such one-sided hatred," drawled the diva, his lips curling in to a smirk. "My dear Seiichi, you know are always welcome back to ore-sama's double king sized bed."
Recalling his visions of Fuji's past with Atobe, Tezuka decided he very much wanted to kill Atobe too, if there was anything left of him once Yukimura was done. Of course, Sanada looked like he wanted in on it also.
Shelving the topic with a sigh, Yukimura waved aside the diva and kneeled before the young hunter, chanting softly to collapse the cage. The binding circle shrunk into a pair of cuffs around the boy's wrists, which looked to be effective at stopping the brat from trying anything funny. "I believe I know why you came, and what you were trying to do," the vampire assuredly smiled, the edge from his voice replaced completely with a gentle, maternal tone. "I'm sure Fuji can be trained to perform the purification for your grandfather without inciting a new Dawn, given enough time."
On any other day, Tezuka would have been angrily twitching, demanding Yukimura share all the things he obviously knew but hadn't explained. But now there was something else he wanted to do, as Fuji helped him stand, that he knew was more important.
He turned towards the wide eyed brunette with the faintest of smiles, ignoring the rest of the conversation as he slipped his fingers into Fuji's small, wavering hand. The pain from his shoulder was fading, washed away by a growing sense of tranquility as he led his short companion towards the stairway.
"Where are we..." Fuji looked up at him, his lips slightly parted in question, his brow wrinkling in surprise at Tezuka's uncharacteristic smile.
"I believe it's dinner time, and my condition calls for a definite need for food. But I'm tired, and didn't you say you wanted to try to cook?"
Fuji's eyes grew wide and wet as he looked down at his feet, staring at the floor below the attic that he hadn't seen in over thirty years.
Each step down came with a stronger sense of his freedom, and by the time they reached the first floor, drops of water were falling from Fuji's thick lashes, tiny splashes darkening the pale carpet. They stopped at the couch, somewhat under the pretense that Tezuka could rest, and the hunter wrapped his arms around the shaking brunette, letting the tears soak into his jacket.
"I'm ... finally..." Fuji quietly cried, his whole body shaking. "I was so stupid... thinking that barrier could stop the power of the Dawn... I... did such a thing to myself..."
Tezuka stroked his hair, making quiet hushing noises, too tired to think about the vampires fluttering about his house, or the kid hunter who he was probably obligated to rescue, or any other issues, other than the one he was holding, the one who needed him the most.
"I've been thinking how," the vampire continued, "In these last few months... Jyake died and Atobe and Yukimura and Echizen came but... you came too." Fuji raised hand cup Tezuka's cheek warmly in his palm. "When you first came I was so, so happy. I was sure you were going to kill me... I didn't realize then what would happen, and I just wanted to die. I had been trapped here for so long, and I just wanted the misery to end. I thought... knew my end would be you." He drew back his head, his tears stopped but his eyes still shimmering with moisture and light. "I still believe it will be."
Tezuka's hand rose to cover Fuji's. It was sunlight reflecting in his eyes, the soft strike of dawn dancing within the orbs of blue, the pure, airy white of the morning shimmered in his honey brown locks.
"Yes..." Tezuka quietly agreed, as the two of them drew closer. "Together," he added, just as their lips connected to each others.
A/N: There's so much I wasn't able to explain in this fic, and I could write a whole nother fic - a much, much longer one - just about Sanada and Yukimura, that would more or less explain all of it. Maa, it would be a monster of a fic to write, so I'll probably never get around to it. But I'm happy if I was able to entertain all of you, so please, please review and let me know how you felt. I'll answer any questions you have in an omake.
You all really must see neumegami's wonderful and quintessential artwork for this fic. First link is an expansion of the image from chapter 3 - it was actually drawn before chapter 3 was posted (i.e. before we met Seiichi),, and yet neumegami perfectly captured how Yukimura and Niou appear in this world. (Unfortunately Niou gets no screen time in Circle, but yes, he is one of Yuki's primary familiars.) Second link is delightful doll Fuji -hearts-. Replace the spaces with periods to view -
neumegami deviantart com/art/Sketch-teatime02-193958538
i61 photobucket com/albums/h44/neumegami/LJ/page007 jpg