Ren-sama's Note:

OTL. I really thank all those who continue to support and review this fict! Please receive my heartfelt gratitude! Anyway, the next chapter is here! ˆoˆ

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Chapter 15

Kamui walked passed the onmyouji as if he didn't exist and immediately hugged Nokoru and Fuuma who were more than a little surprised but still hugged him back.

"Where've you been? We've been worried about you!" Nokoru hugged him tight. "Do you know we've been waiting here for almost two days now?"

"Eh?" Kamui looked at him, a little surprised. He was sure he was just out for an hour, almost.

"Do you know we almost rip that tree off its roots just to turn it upside down and know if you're inside?" Fuuma scratched his head, obviously annoyed at the memory.

"Sorry about that." Kamui chuckled. "Oh, by the way." He looked at Shiro, who was still quietly looking at them, and approached the kodan. "This is Shiro. Can he be our new companion?"

Shiro looked at the companions of his new friend and immediately knew the reason why Kamui was not afraid of him at all. There was a magical being who looked like a fur ball. There were three obviously powerful humans – not that Kamui wasn't powerful at all. And the most striking surprise he had was the fact that a raven-haired guy whom Kamui ignored just a little while ago also had mismatched eyes, one a dark hue of crimson and another a bright emerald.

Fuuma and Nokoru both looked at each other before they turned to Mokona. They were sure they couldn't just bring anyone along without proper compensation.

Mokona grinned. "I'll let her talk to you personally."

"'Her'?" Fuuma asked, brow twitching slightly, knowing full well who the fur ball was talking about.

And just as everyone suspected, the stone on Mokona's forehead glowed considerably until a screen appeared before them. After some seconds, Yuuko appeared on the other side.

"Hello there, everyone. Enjoying so far?" She asked in amusement.

"Hell no if you're the one asking." Fuuma answered gruffly. He only received a chuckle from the witch.

"So, what kind of destructive news will you bring this time?" Nokoru asked in amusement. Once again, Yuuko chuckled before looking at him knowingly.

"First things first." Yuuko said as she gulped from a bottle with a character of 'sake' on it. "Shiro, the King of Eternal Forest, can travel together with you because he gave his wife as compensation. Right, Kamui?"

They all looked at the Kodan as if he was the most cold-hearted dog they'd ever seen. But Kamui immediately covered for his new friend. "Shiro didn't want to give me his wife. It just so happened that his wife is a part of my soul. That's why he wants to travel with us. He wants to be with his wife…"

"Meaning, you?" Mokona asked with creased eyebrow. Kamui's eyes widened as he felt himself blushing. Now that he thought about it, Shiro's wife was a part of him. Did that mean he was partly Shiro's wife? He immediately shook his head.

Yuuko laughed from the screen. "I didn't think I'd see the day when The Kamui blushes while trying to hide the fact that he already has a husband. And a Kodan at that."

"You know me?" Shiro asked the witch, not really into the joke. He didn't want to further embarrass the boy so he chose to change the topic.

Yuuko nodded. "The King of Eternal Forest, the most powerful Kodan, Shiro. I, the witch of Dimensions, am honored to meet you." She gave a small bow which made Fuuma and the others gape. For even Yuuko to give him too much acknowledgement, the dog was that important?

Kamui chuckled as he petted the dog's head. "It's great that you can travel with us." Shiro closed his eyes and smiled as he leaned on Kamui's side, nuzzling against him.

Subaru looked down on his feet. He really was an idiot. If he would be this depressed just because a dog took his place, then he shouldn't have ignored Kamui in the first place… But it's far too late now… Kamui didn't even greet him even though he was so worried…

He closed his eyes as he tried to picture Kamui walking towards him. He would've patted his head and told the boy he shouldn't have gone on his own like that, making everyone worry. And yet, he knew he wouldn't be able to voice that anymore. He was not needed by Kamui anymore… And the pain that threatened to swallow him was so deep he thought he'd lose his consciousness. And from that, he knew he wouldn't be able to get away from the boy anymore… It's the same as dying…

He opened his eyes and once again found himself in the middle of utter darkness. His first reaction was to try and find Kamui, the dark Kamui. He knew the other male must be lurking here somewhere.

"Looking for me?" Kamui whispered just beside his ear, making his whole body shiver. The onmyouji immediately clutched his sensitive, already red ear and jerked away from the voice. Kamui stood laughing at his actions. "You're really pathetic, Subaru!"

Subaru could do nothing but glare at him. He knew the boy was right anyway. "What do you want now?" He snarled.

"Just so I'll tell you…" Kamui voiced in his sweet innocent tone, making Subaru's expression even more pained. "They're coming… They will take Kamui away… Be careful, Sakurazukamori…" He grinned, obviously hoping for the opposite.

"They?" Subaru looked at the boy with utter confusion. "What do you mean? Kamui!" He shouted when the boy was about to run off.

"Kamui!" He shouted again when Kamui vanished, only to embarrass himself in front of everybody. Nokoru and Fuuma who were petting Shiro looked at him in surprise. Yuuko, the only one who knew the situation, was stifling a laugh and Kamui…

Subaru immediately realized he kind of shouted the boy's name with so much force that even Kamui, who was ignoring him for a while now, was looking at him with a shocked expression. It was kind of cute really, if only it wasn't because of him embarrassing himself like that.

He immediately cleared his throat, as if by doing so would erase their memory of what he'd just done. Yuuko couldn't help but laugh out loud at that. She immediately received a death glare from the blushing Sakurazukamori and her laughter rang even more.

"S-So, what do you want to talk to us about?" Kamui was the one who tried to take Yuuko's attention away from Subaru. He didn't want the man to hate him even more for embarrassing him. And besides, he didn't want anyone laughing at Subaru…

Yuuko sensed the amethyst-eyed teen's concern and silently admitted her defeat. "Let's get serious then." They all looked at her seriously, as if expecting her to tell something about the end of the world… again.

"Actually, the Core is near." She started, making Subaru jolt from his position. "Subaru already saw him thrice now. He'll probably be the one who can explain things better. And… I told you there's a group that wants to get your feathers, right?"

"More specifically, it was Yasha and Ashura who told us." Fuuma answered, and he immediately received an elbow nudge on the side from Nokoru.

Yuuko ignored his comment. "What I'm saying is, this group already obtained three of your feathers, Kamui. I still don't know what their aim is, but I'm sure it would only take a little more for them to finally find you."

"I knew it. Every time she appears, she brings with her news about the end of the world." Fuuma said and Nokoru sighed.

"One more thing." Yuuko added. "The name of their group is Clamp. There are six members and… and their Leader… is Kamui."

Kamui looked at him, confused. Everyone was. Subaru looked in between Yuuko and Kamui just to prove his confusion.

"Let me explain clearly." Yuuko said. She knew it wouldn't be this easy. "I don't mean Kamui as in The Kamui that stands before you now. I mean the other Kamui, the one who resides in his Core, the one who wants to disappear so much. That Kamui is also the one who wants to destroy the world, the one who hates everything…"

"You mean his Twin Star?" Subaru asked for the first time. He couldn't believe that the other Kamui would still be alive.

"Not exactly. Fuuma is already dead." Yuuko said as if discussing about the bottle of sake in her hand. "It's still basically Kamui, but the dark one. Kamui, as you know, could have also been the Leader of the Dragons of Earth of he only chose to. And that darkness is still within him as he continued to live after the Promised Day, growing and feeding off of his negative thoughts and energy… until it gained its own consciousness because of his tremendous power. That's your enemy."

"But I thought these people are not our real enemy?" Nokoru asked.

"Well, it was already kind of late when I realized that the Core, which is your enemy for now, is the one leading this group." Yuuko said. "Right now, that dark Kamui is still playing with you so he's still not showing his true self. But if he ever got bored, or if he found the events disadvantageous for him, he'll definitely act seriously."

"We'll just have to protect Kamui, right?" Shiro asked. Yuuko smiled at him and nodded.

"There's nothing else to do than protect Kamui." Yuuko said as she yawned. Subaru wanted to kick her face for acting like this was not her concern. "But I don't mean just physically protect Kamui. Like I said, this dark Kamui is feeding off of the real Kamui's negative energies. It means that you need to protect his mentality and emotions as well." She then gave Subaru a meaningful smile. "Do you know when this Kamui first started appearing?"

Subaru immediately knew what Yuuko was pertaining to. He was not an idiot to not realize something like that. That dark Kamui first appeared when the onmyouji told Kamui that the only important person for Subaru was his deceased lover.

"It seems the Sakurazukamori already realized it. And that is all. Goodbye!" Yuuko gulped another mouthful of sake again before the screen blanked out and the glow from Mokona's forehead vanished.

Subaru clenched his fists. Once again… it was all his fault once again… Maybe it would've been better had he not travelled with the boy…

"Subaru." Nokoru called seriously. "I believe you should begin your explanation. We don't have much time." The onmyouji looked at the blonde and saw how cold those eyes were. He had never seen Nokoru's eyes that cold. The blonde was blaming him for everything…

He sighed as he sat together with them; they all formed a small circle. He felt his chest clench painfully when he looked at Kamui who was looking everywhere except him and the others whose eyes were glued to him. If only it's the other way around… "…I first saw the other Kamui when we were in that Candy Island. I first thought he was just an ordinary feather but I was wrong. I also saw him right before Kamui was pulled in by the tree… and earlier, when Yuuko appeared."

"Why does this dark Kamui, or whatever, only appear before you?" Shiro asked. He didn't sense any other presence earlier. And he would immediately know if there was someone not part of the group who just joined to meddle with them. Somehow, that realization unnerved him.

"…Because Kamui hates me." Subaru voiced quietly as he clenched his fist. "He hates me so much that he wants to break me little by little…" Somehow, voicing that statement was enough to make the darkness escalate inside his heart.

"…I don't hate you." Kamui spoke to him for the first time, and Subaru felt like he wanted to hear more. He wanted to hear Kamui's voice talking to him. He missed Kamui's warm voice so much… Kamui looked undecided for a while, before he walked towards the onmyouji and knelt in front of him. The boy meekly cupped his cheek and gently pulled Subaru into an embrace. Subaru closed his eyes as he rested on Kamui's chest when he felt the boy's warmth. He liked it so much… just like a drug… "I don't hate you." Kamui repeated. Even without looking, Subaru knew Kamui was smiling gently.

How he longed to hear those words… If only Kamui would still say that even if he remembered everything…

Subaru pulled away a little to face the younger male and looked at Kamui's beautiful amethyst eyes. "But your other self does. Because your other self knows what happened between us in the past…" He voiced. He knew Kamui didn't remember anything. But he still thought that the boy needed to know that he was not the kind of person the boy thought him to be. He's afraid… He's afraid that Kamui would reject him this time… but he knew he needed to tell the boy…

He clutched Kamui's black sweater and continued to gaze at those kind amethyst orbs, silently pleading that he'd be forgiven. He then cupped Kamui's cheek with his hand before he spoke in a very pained voice. "I abandoned you. I completely, repeatedly rejected you… until all you can do is break down and shatter alone… I'm sorry, Kamui. I'm too weak to support you, too weak to even choose you…"

Kamui felt his breath hitched at those statements. He looked down, hiding the pain that immediately clouded his eyes, before he immediately looked up and covered it. …But not enough because the others immediately saw through him. "It's alright." He smiled. "I still don't hate you."

Subaru knew Kamui was partly saying that because the boy didn't want to hurt the poor onmyouji. He knew Kamui must be hurting inside, and he knew it was not okay for the boy too. Kamui was so much stronger than he was… so much stronger than he could ever be…

The boy was just too kind.

"Anyway," Nokoru interrupted. It really felt like they were watching some romantic tragedy or something, and the blonde didn't want to see any lovey-dovey scene just yet. Not because it reminded of his deceased lover, but he just wanted to tell the two that the rest of them were still there, basically watching everything. "Is there some hints of when he'll start to get serious? The other Kamui, that is."

Subaru closed his eyes again as he inhaled the amethyst-eyed teen's scent. Kamui sat beside him now and it calmed his heart a ton. Kamui was really becoming a drug to him… an intoxicating one… "I think he's starting to get serious. After all, we already got six feathers. Their group already has three, excluding the Core. Then there will only be three other feathers out there before we set our eyes on one another's feathers."

"That's quite near…" Fuuma mumbled, thinking how the hell he could go to his own dimension if the situation was this dire. Nokoru nodded his assent while Shiro only looked thoughtful.

"Mokona thinks we should all go to sleep now and get ready for the next journey." They almost forgot the fur ball's presence until he spoke. He had been quite silent all this time after all. How unusual.

"I think Mokona-san is right." Nokoru said with a smile.

They all decided that talking about it wouldn't actually bring it to stop. Fuuma sat leaning on the tree while Mokona nuzzled on his side. The raven male was just too tired to get ticked off by the fur ball's clinginess. In front of them, Nokoru lay on his side on the grass, his back on Fuuma and was facing Kamui who was beside him. The boy's back was facing the blonde as his head pillowed on Shiro who slept like how dogs usually did. Subaru was on Kamui's other side, also facing Kamui.

The boy looked too tired with all the heartbreak and the feather problems that he fell asleep almost immediately. Subaru missed him so much that he couldn't help but brush the tousled fringe off the boy's sleeping face. He somehow found himself relaxing by doing that. Slumber took him as his hand rested on top of the boy's.

Kamui's presence was like an intoxicating drug. The more he had, the more he wanted for more. He couldn't let go even if he wanted to. He was already addicted…

"Subaru, Subaru!"

Subaru woke up, realizing he was once again in a different place, but in not the darkness where he had instinctively associated to the dark Kamui. No, this place was just the opposite.

Everything was bright. The ocean looked so alive and the wind felt so good on his skin as he looked at the horizon. He felt so calm and at peace. He wondered how Kamui would react if he ever saw something this beautiful. He distinctively remembered how Kamui once told him that he had never seen the ocean before. That conversation took place a long, long time ago… before all hell broke lose.

That time when all of them were in Sorata's house drinking tea or eating Yuzuriha and Arashi's cooked food while waiting for any news about Kamui's twin star seemed so surreal now. It's as if those times were merely dreams. Kamui was so strong then, so independent and so decisive. He was still Subaru Sumeragi, an onmyouji and also the head of the Sumeragi Clan. But now… both he and Kamui weren't even in that world anymore…

And as he looked at the beautiful ocean in front of him, he found himself thinking of only one thing. How he wished Kamui could see it too. The beautiful ocean far and wide, bright and gleaming under the sun… The sand looked so soft on his bare feet, if only he wasn't wearing his full Sakurazukamori attire minus the shoes.

"Subaru!" He turned around and saw his twin sister waving a hand at him. She was together with Kakyou. The latter was simply sitting on a bench and watching the sea contentedly while Hokuto was running to and fro the beach. So this must be a dream…

He sighed as he approached her. She gave him a smile and a pat on the head. She used to do that when they were little, and still did even when he started to outgrow her. She also did that just before she died.

Hokuto was laughing in merriment as she once again ran around in circles. Kakyou couldn't help but chuckle as well as he watched her. "Subaru! You should try to relax sometimes! Your shoulders are too stiff!" She said as the onmyouji approached the two of them.

Subaru only gave him a sheepish smile before he asked the question he wanted to know ever since he arrived at the place. "Where is this place?"

Kakyou was the one who answered. "This is the world inside my mind."

"But you're dead…" Subaru mumbled and he immediately received a full kick on the stomach from his sister. He gasped for air and from pain as he stumbled on the sand. He could hear Hokuto laughing from somewhere nearby.

"Wha–?" Subaru managed to utter.

"That's for looking so gloomy in this happy world!" Hokuto snorted happily. "I will never allow you to show that pathetic face here, Subaru!"

Subaru couldn't help but chuckle at that comment. It was warm, the feeling. He had not laughed for a long, long time now and he felt like some of the thousand twisted thorns crippling his shattered heart finally ebbed.

"So you wish for that boy to see this too?" Hokuto asked with a wide grin.

Subaru immediately knew what that grin meant and he immediately corrected her while keeping himself from blushing. "N-No, that's wrong! We don't have that kind of–!"

"You're too stubborn for your own good. Sooner or later someone will definitely go and snatch him away from you…" Hokuto said as she looked at Subaru seriously. Subaru knew he heard that line somewhere before.

"Don't misunderstand, nee-san. I don't like him that way." Subaru said and he received a full jab on his upper arm.

"You're a pathetic liar, just like always." Hokuto scolded. "You know you feel something for him. Why repress it?"

"I don't want that feeling." Subaru immediately answered as he looked down. "You know I still love Seishirou-san. I don't want to betray his memory by loving someone else…"

"But Seishirou-san wouldn't like that either." Hokuto sighed. "He wanted you to live with his memories, not just survive serving as the vessel for the past."

"No, you don't understand!" Subaru looked like a child wanting the adults to see his point. "I don't want to love him!"

"So you're hurting him instead?" Kakyou was the one who asked the question this time. "You don't want to get hurt so it doesn't matter if The Kamui suffers for it..?"

"N-No… I don't mean it like that…" Subaru's eyes were pleading. He wanted the two people in front of him to understand.

"And if," Hokuto didn't want to hurt his younger brother but she knew the boy needed it. "If you fell in love with him for real, are you still going to deny it? Are you still going to continue hurting and rejecting him while denying that you feel anything?"

"I'm the Sakurazukamori!" Subaru shouted desperately. "How can I be killing people and at the same time with these same bloodstained hands embrace Kamui too?! It's just too unforgivable! Staining Kamui with my hands… It would be too selfish of me to even wish of something like wanting to hold him…"

"Yuuko-san already took the tree from you." Hokuto said, trying to reason out with her younger brother. "There's no need to continue killing anymore."

"But that doesn't change the fact that these hands were already tainted with too much blood. And the power of the Sakurazukamori is still within me…" Subaru mumbled, trembling.

"Then if you don't want Kamui, what is it that you really want, Subaru?" Kakyou asked.

Subaru looked at them with pained expression, and both of them knew what he really wanted. Seishirou... Even if he might have feelings for Kamui now, and a strong one at that, it still didn't change the fact that he loved Seishirou so much… and would probably continue to love the man for eternity… Or at least that's what he always told himself…

He gritted his teeth in frustration. He claimed to love Seishirou so much when all he could think about these past two days was Kamui's safety and his whereabouts. No, ever since they started travelling in different dimensions, all he could care about was Kamui… He closed his eyes and Hokuto saw the confusion and the fear on his expression. What if he really was falling for Kamui..? What would he do then..?

"Kamui is…" Subaru mumbled as he opened his eyes again. Hokuto and Kakyou waited for him to continue. "Kamui is like the sun. He's so bright. He's too dazzling that it hurts my eyes… I live in the darkness. We can't be together…"

Hokuto smiled as the real reason came out. Her brother was afraid because Kamui was just too dazzling for him, unlike Seishirou who was the same as he was, a creature of the darkness. Though it seemed rationality wouldn't be able to help Subaru this time. There was no more escape for him…

"Do you know?" She looked at the sky where the bright sun was and covered her eyes with her hand. "The sun is so bright because it eats and burns itself up from the inside out without hesitation…"

Subaru's eyes widened. "What do you mean by that?" Somehow, he didn't like that analogy.

Hokuto looked at him again. "It means Kamui is killing himself just to be your light."

"N-No…" Subaru woke up with a start, feeling the soft grass underneath him. He looked at Kamui's beautiful sleeping face and he had to fight the urge to suddenly hug him tight.

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.tbc.

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Ren-sama's Corner:

Kamui: Are the two of us, Subaru and I, okay now? Or is this the start of some kind of farewell..?

Ren-sama: I don't know. I'm not really sure…

Yue: What a useless author.

Ren-sama: Host-san, please tell your assistant to shut his mouth up.

Host: Oh-oh… Why me?

Kamui: (*looked at Ren-sama with his innocent expression*) So, are you just trying to really bully me? Is this some sort of conspiracy?

Ren-sama: (*nosebleed*) No, please! I'm not bullying you!

Host: Very well, please review, everyone! ˆoˆ

(At the background, Ren-sama – bleeding to death)

Subaru: (*hiding somewhere no one knew about*) So I'm falling for him..? I'm… so annoying… Why so slow?