Chapter 20

"Can I know what it is that you're looking for?" Sakura asked, before looking totally alarmed. "Don't tell me it's the Book of Clow!"

"Don't worry. It's not something as fancy as that." Mokona answered immediately before anyone could. "We are looking for Kamui's feathers."

Subaru glared at him again for telling other people so easily of their circumstance. They didn't know if Sakura and Keroberos knew something about the feather, since they also emitted so much magic. If that kind of offhanded slip of the tongue ended up endangering Kamui in any way…

"I think you should only speak when asked, fur ball." Fuuma voiced when he saw the dangerous flare in the onmyouji's eyes. "Or else we'll have to return you to that bitch as a minced meat." Mokona pouted before he sat beside Nokoru to be comforted. The blonde immediately patted his head. Shiro continued to listen silently, still neck-deep in thought.

"Umm… so this feather…" Sakura voiced in uncertainty. "Is it white… with strange pink patterns?" Their attention immediately perked up at the accurate description before she said the next words. "You can't! That's one of my father's researches!"

Subaru growled and Kamui was just in time to talk. "Then can we have it after the research is done?"

"Eh?" Sakura blinked before she thought about it. "But–"

"Sakura-san, I'm home!" A voice from the front door made the girl forget about the rest of her sentences as she answered him before rushing to the door herself.

"Oh, my. We have many visitors today." A brunette man beamed at everyone, looking a little exhausted but nevertheless happy. From the looks of things though, they immediately knew that the man was Sakura's father even if he had a formal, not to mention strange way, of calling her. The father who looked so young to be one greeted everyone with a very kind and warm smile. "Are they your friends, Sakura-san?"

"Umm…" Sakura trailed off, not really knowing what her relationship with the men was.

"Kinomoto-san, right?" Kamui asked politely. The man nodded so the teen continued. "We are here because we want to have the feather on your research… but only after you've finished researching on it…" He bowed deeply and Mr. Kinomoto actually looked surprised.

"U-Uhmm…" He looked at Sakura, silently asking for an explanation, before he looked at Kamui again. "Well, I don't mind… but… it was supposed to be submitted to the National Museum after I am done. It's an archaeological artifact that my team and I discovered in the ruins of a Hidden Village called Suna."

"…Kinomoto-san," Nokoru ushered the man to sit beside them and Sakura sweatdropped because her father was asked to sit in his own house by a mere visitor.

When all of them were seated, Nokoru began his explanation. He knew that Kamui was too blunt in his words and it somehow unsettled their host. But they needed that feather no matter what. Of course, he twisted his story a little to make it appear more believable.

Mr. Kinomoto chuckled. "You don't have to make it sound possible. Yuuko-san told me that a group of young men will appear in my doorstep one of these days and ask for that."

"Wha–?" Fuuma gaped at him for knowing the Bitch of Dimension. "How did you–?"

Sakura chuckled too. "…Because Oto-san is Clow Reed-san's half soul." She continued her explanation when her companions seemed lost. "It means that Clow Reed-san is no longer alive as of now. His soul split into two – my Oto-san and Eriol-kun."

"What does that have anything to do with the witch?" Subaru was the one who voiced their question. His arms were crossed over his chest as he looked at them quite coldly. If they knew about Yuuko, then surely they knew Kamui's real circumstance, right? Surely they would understand, right..?

"Yuuko-san was Clow Reed-san's very close friend." Mr. Kinomoto answered.

"I see." Nokoru answered. "Then surely you understand our real circumstance, right? We must have that feather at all cost." He was smiling but his eyes were dead serious. Shiro looked at him quite oddly.

Mr. Kinomoto sighed. "Alright, you got me. I won't give it to the Museum as part of national artifacts. But I do hope that your intention for it is not something bad."

"Yes, that feather is very powerful." Keroberos said. "If it gets into the wrong hands, then–"

"I own that feather. It's a piece of my soul." Kamui interrupted his words, making Subaru furrow his eyebrows. It's so unlike Kamui to rudely interrupt other people when they talk, at least the Kamui now wasn't someone to do that.

"Oh." Sakura was the one who answered. "No wonder your presence feels familiar to me."

"Alright then. I'll give it to you after I finished researching on it." Mr. Kinomoto said with a smile, not at all affected by Subaru or Kamui's coldness, not even their rudeness.

"Don't you dare damage it." Fuuma said in his usual annoyed tone but everyone knew he was not angry or anything like that.

"Do you want some help in your research?" Nokoru asked the brunette man, who only blinked at him. "I mean, the owner of the feather is here. Kamui and all of us know more about the feather than what you can research on your own."

Mr. Kinomoto chuckled before he shook his head. "I can't. It' won't be my research anymore if I take my information from anywhere other than the object that I need to investigate. But thank you for your kind thought."

"You can stay in the guest rooms for tonight." Sakura said when Mokona whispered to her that all of them came from a different dimension. She readily believed the fur ball because Yuuko was someone from a different dimension too.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

"Is there something wrong?" Subaru asked as he and Kamui went inside the room together with Shiro. The kodan simply listened silently as he lay on his side on the carpeted floor beside the bed. And note that there was only one bed.

Fuuma and Nokoru together with Mokona were in the other guest room so Subaru finally had some peace and quiet. He even had the privacy now to ask Kamui about what happened.

"Nothing… I guess I'm just being impatient again." Kamui answered, though in reality he was not so sure about wanting to get all of his feathers back anymore. He wanted to help Subaru find happiness with his lover once again. But he didn't want to disappear… It scared him so much…

Subaru sighed as he patted Kamui's head. It seemed the teen wasn't ready to tell him anything just yet. But he would be patient. He would wait until Kamui would open up to him. He didn't want to force Kamui or anything like that.

"Shall we explore the town tomorrow then?" The onmyouji asked offhandedly, before surprise engulfed him. Was he really asking Kamui to go out tomorrow? He tried to clear his throat to fight his immediate embarrassment, not to mention the small blush that wanted to creep up on his cheeks.

By Kamui's surprised and excited expression though, Subaru knew he could never regret what he just asked. "Can we really?! It will be the first time for me to see a town without having to find a feather."

Subaru's expression warmed and Shiro even saw a slight smile on his lips, a smile meant only for the boy in front of him. "You have to wake up early tomorrow then." Kamui nodded excitedly, momentarily forgetting his fears and worries, and went to the bed.

Subaru, though, could only continue to stare at him as the other tucked himself in the covers. Would they really share one bed..? He knew it was kind of pathetic to worry about that now when ever since they started their journey, the two of them had always slept beside each other – except during the time when he purposefully ignored the amethyst-eyed teen. Then why was it kind of embarrassing now..?

The onmyouji remembered his dream from earlier and heat immediately engulfed his whole body. How annoying. How was he supposed to sleep beside Kamui if his mind was filled with those images?

Kamui just looked so beautiful in his dream, not that he wasn't beautiful in real life. He looked at those expressive amethyst eyes, that pale and creamy skin, those succulent lips, his slim neck… What's happening to him..? He remembered the kisses… the moans that escaped Kamui's lips when he touched the boy…

And he gritted his teeth in frustration when he realized what he had been thinking. Damn…

"Subaru..?" Kamui titled his head to one side, silently wondering why Subaru was still not moving from his position beside the door. Shiro smirked when he realized the quite indecent things that the onmyouji might be thinking. It seemed Subaru's actions and feelings were not so unconscious after all…

The onmyouji cleared his throat before he sat on his other side of the bed and started undressing. He might have been wearing his usual Sakurazukamori attire the entire journey even when he's asleep, but that was because he hadn't experienced sleeping in a warm and soft bed in all those times. It seemed quite rude now to taint the clean cover with his attire.

"I'll take a bath first." Subaru said before he walked into the bathroom with only his pants on. He even took off his gloves, which was rare even for him. It seemed Kamui's presence was making him feel warm and secure, away from the darkness that continued to eat him from the inside out.

"Do you know? The sun is so bright because it eats and burns itself up from the inside out without hesitation…" He remembered his sister's words and he couldn't help but grit his teeth.

"Kamui…" He whispered the name as he closed his eyes and the warm water showered all over his body. "You don't have to do anything for me…" It took him at least thirty minutes to bathe. Kamui soon bathe after he was done, obviously imitating his actions.

Subaru sat on his side of the bed once again as he toweled his wet hair. Kamui was still in the bathroom and Shiro took that opportunity to warn the Sakurazukamori.

"Subaru," the kodan called with his raspy voice. The onmyouji looked at him and arched an eyebrow. "I think we should be more careful. You should maintain your high guard. Don't let it down even for a second, even if you're together with our other companions."

"Why are you saying that?" Subaru asked, not that he would let his guard down in any way any time soon.

Shiro's mismatched eyes looked at another set of mismatched eyes before he spoke. "I'm not yet so sure about it, but… The Core is much, much nearer than we think he is. Not to mention he's… also a bit different from how the real Kamui feels. It's like…"

Subaru's eyebrows creased at the warning and he was about to ask something when Kamui chose that moment to come out of the bathroom. He realized that Shiro didn't seem like talking about the Core in front of Kamui just yet, especially after the incident earlier, and he also refrained from voicing anything.

Kamui smiled at the two, feeling so refreshed. He looked at Subaru and marveled at the fact it was the first time he saw the man wearing something else other than his black trench coat and his overall Sakurazukamori attire. The man was wearing a black turtle neck with long sleeves, courtesy of Sakura's father who refused to let the guests feel uncomfortable by making them sleep in their own clothing. The teen also saw for the first time that Subaru wasn't wearing his lack gloves, since he just got out of the shower. He took a quick glance at the man's large hands and long slender fingers. He noticed how pale Subaru's fingers were; how delicate they seemed despite the man's strength. He even saw a gray inverted star tattoo on the back of the onmyouji's left hand.

For a while, Kamui wondered what it was before he decided that it wouldn't hurt to just ask the man himself. But at that time, Subaru immediately covered his left hand with his right.

Subaru saw the teen's curious glance at his hands and, eyes widening and heart racing fast, he immediately remembered to cover it with his right hand before the said teen could notice what it was. But it seemed it's already too late.

"Subaru, what's that star?" Kamui asked, though he immediately regretted it when he noticed that Subaru stiffened. "W-Well, you don't to tell me anything…" anything at all…

Subaru's eyebrows creased when he saw how the teen's beautiful amethyst eyes clouded in pain before they immediately recovered. Kamui smiled and walked towards him before the teen decided to lie on the bed.

Shiro saw everything but he didn't look like he noticed anything. He saw how Subaru got nervous and even panicked when the teen saw the star on his hands. The man himself didn't look like he was panicking or anything. But his eyes said it all. Kamui, on the other hand, was hurt at the fact that Subaru tried to hide something from him again. He sighed as he let himself be pulled into sleep. It seemed the couple still had a long, long way to go before they'd let each other touch their wounds. But before anything could even pull him, literally or figuratively, Subaru lay on his side of the bed and faced the teen, whose back was on him.

"Kamui," Subaru called quietly. Both Kamui and Shiro pretended to be asleep. Subaru repeated the name, a little louder than earlier. "Kamui…" But the teen still didn't answer, making the man sigh. He knew that Kamui wasn't sleeping, if the upset aura he kept on emitting was any indication.

But he's afraid… No, he's terrified… If Kamui knew who he really was, would the teen hate him? Would Kamui think of him as someone not worthy of being called 'human'? Or worse, would Kamui feel terrified at his presence if he learned what true creature lay underneath the façade of the man who called himself Subaru..?

Just thinking that Kamui would fear him was enough to make Subaru feel helplessness and deep fear. He didn't want Kamui to hate him… But above all that, he didn't want Kamui to fear him…

And all of a sudden, a voice from earlier rang in his mind.

"Kamui isn't as weak as you think he is, you know."

He breathed a deep sigh which he never knew he was holding. Who knew the fur ball would be the one to make him feel comfortable at this point? He would have to thank him tomorrow, or better yet, treat him some takoyaki which he seemed to like so much.

The onmyouji sighed again. He might as well just say it… "…This star was proof that I am the Sakurazukamori, the coldblooded assassin of the Sakura tree. The Witch of Dimension already took the real contract tattoo so this one is a normal tattoo now… but it still reminds me of who I am." He said quietly, too quiet actually that one would have to strain his ears to hear it. But it seemed Kamui heard it nonetheless… just basing how his earlier stiff shoulders slowly relaxed.

Subaru closed his eyes. Kamui relaxed… But did that mean..? Did that mean he was forgiven? Did that mean he was accepted as he was? Or did that mean Kamui didn't believe him? Or… did that mean Kamui finally fell asleep because he didn't want to talk to the onmyouji anymore..? Please, not that one… And he was surprised when he felt movement beside him, just in time for his eyes to open and see beautiful amethyst eyes swimming with so many emotions he's never seen Kamui held before.

Kamui turned around just in time to see the pained expression on the older man's face. Subaru opened his sad mismatched eyes and looked directly into amethyst ones. Kamui wasn't sure about the exact reason for Subaru's sadness, but he was sure it was his fault. Surely he was surprised to know that Subaru was killing people, but he knew that that fact wasn't enough to sway his feelings about the man. It just wasn't enough to stop the waterfall of emotions that he felt for the man… nothing was enough…

He cupped Subaru's cheek with his right hand, much to the older man's surprise, and smiled sadly. It hurt him that Subaru had to be in so much pain with him… If only the man would find happiness…

If he was willing to die for Subaru, then…

Kamui knew that it wasn't the happy ending he was hoping for, because he still feared the thought of disappearing. But if it would be able to make a contented smile, no matter how small, grace Subaru's lips, then he didn't mind dying. He would swallow the fear and the anguish… He would–

"What are you thinking about?" Subaru's quiet question stopped his musing and made him focus on the curious expression worn by the man in front of him. Just mere inches from him…

"I… don't find your identity frightening." Kamui answered, making Subaru's face light up considerably.

"…Really?" The older man asked in uncertainty. Kamui smiled, a real one this time, and nodded. Subaru didn't know what to feel at first. But then he started to feel his heart warm up and beat a little bit faster than normal. His throat felt like there's lump inside it and he gulped in order to find his composure again, which he never did. He moved his left hand and placed it on top of Kamui's right one. "Thank you… Kamui." Their gaze never faltered as Subaru closed his eyes and leaned closer.

Kamui reddened a lot, especially remembering the dream he had with the older man, and instinctively closed his eyes just as the soft touch of the older man's lips met his slightly quivering ones. To say that it was a sweet and fluttery kiss was an understatement. Subaru's lips were as soft as he remembered them from their first kiss.

"Even if he's only using you as a replacement for the lover that he loved so much?"

The dark Kamui's voice earlier immediately rang inside the teen's head in the middle of the kiss and made him gasp, just in time for Subaru to slide his tongue inside the other's mouth. The older male explored the teen's sweet cavern in deliberate slowness and gentleness, taking his time to fully taste everything. Kamui felt like his heart would burst from too much tingling and emotions.

"Even if he will never love you back no matter how hard you try?"

Kamui didn't know who made the unmistakable sound of a moan as the kiss deepened, a lot deeper than their first shared kiss during that one fine morning in the rabbits' house. Subaru reached out behind Kamui's head with one hand and brushed his hair while his other hand slid behind the teen's waist to hug him. Kamui could do nothing but circle his arms around the onmyouji's neck in an attempt to pull him even closer, not that there was any space in between them anymore.

"Even if he will never reach out for you if ever you're in so much pain?"

Subaru, seemingly realizing what he had been doing, immediately pulled back though his forehead rested against Kamui's. "I… got carried away… Sorry." His cheeks had a slight tint of red in them from heat and embarrassment.

Kamui chuckled before he gave the older male a quick peck on the lips, his own cheeks blushing madly. "Good night, Subaru." The last thing he saw before he closed his eyes and hid himself in the covers was Subaru's wide eyes, obviously in surprise, and the unmistakable tint of red on his cheeks darkening.

"G-Good night, Kamui." The onmyouji cleared his throat. Kamui, even if he couldn't see the man, knew that Subaru was fighting back his blush. He silently chuckled under the covers, at least until he felt the soft touch of Subaru's lips on his hair.

"Even if he will leave you the moment he gets tired of you?"

Kamui sighed in contentment. It didn't matter if Subaru felt that he was someone who could never be compared with Seishirou. It didn't matter if he was someone who could never gain the love of the one person he loves the most. It didn't matter, not at all, if Subaru decided that the teen was not important for him. Because as he felt the warm arms that encircled him in a hug, he was sure that he would do anything to make Subaru happy… even if it meant losing to his one-sided dead rival Seishirou. And also losing his life…

And with that, Kamui knew that he had already decided.




Ren-sama's Corner:

Ren-sama: Okay, that is so cheesy.

Kamui: (*calmly sipping his tea with Yue and Host, doing his best not to blush from the scene*) Whatever, you're just jealous because you have no one to do that to you.

Ren-sama: (*murderous aura then grins sadistically*) I wonder what I will make you dream of next? If just appetizer is enough to make you lose it, then I wonder what the main dish can do? Since I am the author, I know that Subaru is really huge… In fact… (*whispered to Kamui*)

Kamui: (*blushed madly*) You..! How did you know that!?

Yue: (*calmly sips tea, not bothering to say that the Sakurazukamori is just a tree away and is already fuming at the fact that the subject of the conversation turned out to be his d~~k*)

Host-san: And as the author was chased out of the room by millions of Sakura petals, just like how Senbonzakura does his handiwork, I am here now to thank you for reading and reviewing. And also, please don't forget to leave your comments. (*smiles and bows to an invisible audience*)