Disclaimer: CLAMP owns it. I play with it.

Pairings: Seishirou x Subaru, Kakyou x Hokuto

Warnings: Violence, blood, implications of sex. If you have a problem with any of're in the wrong fandom. This is CLAMP, so blood is a given.

Author's note: Lots of Subaru torture in this chapter...major violence and nasty injury warnings! Also Hokuto-lovers might enjoy how badass she is in this chapter.


Chapter Five – Burn

Hisa reeled back from her ice and crystal bowl with a hiss of pain, long blonde hair flying about her face in sudden disarray. She would have toppled backwards with the force of the backlash, but Hishiro flung out his arms and caught her, proving that he wasn't as hopelessly useless as she sometimes thought he was. "What was that?" He asked sharply.

"The little brat forced me out..." She blinked, stunned. "He banished me!" She glanced down at the rippling water beneath the thin sheet of ice, staring through to the bottom of the bowl. There was no image to see now, save the one imprinted upon her memory – furious green eyes, lips parted in chant; a slender figure with a spell in his hand and contempt in his gaze. "He is more powerful than we imagined." She snapped, eyes darkening. "Certainly more than those who bound me. His only weakness is his youth and inexperience." She looked to Hishiro, who was fidgeting next to her, blinking owlishly at the stilling water. "You must find more power." She decided with a sniff. "Hunt it, take it, you still do not stand a chance against Subaru Sumeragi."

"But he's just a damn kid!" Hishiro whinged petulantly. "There's enough blood on my hands, I never wanted to become a serial killer!" He had tried his best to be cold and aloof, shutting away his emotions whenever he slid a knife between a fellow onmyouji's ribs in the manner Hisa had had him practice over and over until it was perfect. They were just innocent bystanders making a living – the only clan he truly wanted to hurt was the Sumeragi. They deserved it for everything they had done to his family. And he would make sure their little brat of a clan head knew the extent of his family's betrayal before he took his revenge and ended their traitorous line for good.

"That child is the most powerful member of the most magically powerful family in Japan." Hisa responded dryly, unsympathetic. "You want him to suffer, to know your story, and I need him here to release me. You keep storing power until you are strong enough to defeat him in combat and bring him to me. You cannot expect to sneak up on this boy, he won't allow it. You won't be able to use underhanded tactics, you must be stronger than him. Once he is here, we will both get what we want."

"How many more must I kill?!"

"That depends on the strength of those you find. Hurry." Hisa snapped, growing increasingly impatient as she wove the spell to send him back to Japan. She calmed herself and her irritation as his presence faded, taking a deep breath and closing her eyes. She had waited in her cold prison for centuries, she could afford to put up with a few more weeks of this incompetent man's insufferable whining. Regrettably, she needed him. It was a cruel irony, to be so dependant on a second-rate onmyouji with a grudge and a human conscience. It had taken months to cure Hishiro of his squeamishness – and even longer to encase some of those awful emotions. He had come seeking retribution but didn't have the stomach to be a killer. She told him straight away that he was too weak to pose any sort of threat to the family that imprisoned her, even if their numbers had dwindled.

Luckily for Hisa, Hishiro's grudge ran deeper than his conscience, and she'd been able to mold that grudge to her liking. Playing on his loathing of their mutual enemy and using his desire to hurt them to slowly push back the points of his moral compass, she had essentially given birth to a killer, single-minded and vicious. It was almost lucky he still showed signs of human emotions and weaknesses – otherwise she would have to be careful the monster she had created and loosed wouldn't destroy the pretty little head of the Sumeragi clan before she could force him to free her.

And now the Sakurazukamori was involved. Had Hishiro not been such a squeamish little idiot and taken so long to get used to the idea of killing to steal power, this extra parameter mightn't have been such a problem. But he seemed to have become a fairly stable part of Sumeragi's life, and if the snatches of conversation she had managed to overhear before being noticed were anything to go by, the boy knew exactly who he was.

She would have to be careful to factor his existence into her carefully laid plans that had been five hundred years in the making. Perhaps...a little test of the extent of Sumeragi's capabilities was in order. A test that at the same time would test the strength of the connection between him and the Sakurazukamori, and shed some light onto how involved he might become in their twisted little story.


November 1992

For the most part, Seishirou and Subaru got on reasonably well, considering their less than normal circumstances. However, this meant that when they did argue, the results were usually explosive as their mutual anger set the air alight with crackles of loosed magic. Both men were excellently self-controlled in almost all other circumstances, but the relationship they shared was so intense they couldn't help but lose control when they fought. Even Seishirou, who prided himself on his cool, calm approach and unflappable demeanor, lost it with Subaru sometimes. At the moment, he was trying to keep his temper reined in after Subaru had come in from what he had thought was a job, and had just found out was actually part of his investigation into the murders, which had included a visit to a pair of very shady onmyouji that Subaru had known were not too keen on the Sumeragi. He had gotten cross, then Subaru had swum straight past embarrassed and guilty and settled firmly on angry at the insinuation that he was incapable of doing anything without Seishirou's assistance.

"Are you kidding me? What do you think I did for seven years after you abandoned me the first time, sat in my bedroom and cried all day?" He said hotly.

"That woldn't be far from the truth." Seishirou smirked.

"I'm so glad you find that funny." Subaru snarled, clenching his fists and painfully reminded that this was the same man who had taken such pleasure in ruining his life. "I still worked, and yes, every time I did I was usually in some kind of danger. You weren't around then, and you don't need to be around now!"

"I was always watching." Seishirou replied carelessly, with a shrug.

There as a long pause as Subaru processed this. He seemed to struggle to rein in his emotions for a moment. "Quite aside from how disturbing that revelation is, and how much of an asshole it actually makes you, the point is moot. I was perfectly capable of taking care of myself!"

"Oh, yes. You didn't feed yourself, you barely slept, how – "

"And whose fault was that?" Subaru cried, lashing out, only for Seishirou to catch his wrist in an iron grip before his hand could connect with Seishirou's face. Repeating the action when Subaru tried again with his other hand, Seishirou held him at arm's length, and allowed himself a moment to lament what his pretty, gentle little Subaru had become since he had let him into his life and allowed the boy to lose his nervousness and work on his piss-poor self esteem.

"Don't you dare."

"You'd deserve it! Don't YOU dare turn this into an argument about what you did to me, you heartless bastard!" Subaru was shaking, finally losing the battle with his tears. Seishirou closed his eyes. Why did he always have to deal with a sobbing teenager? The boy was wriggling in his grip, and Seishirou let go of him, feeling a twinge of guilt when Subaru's wrists came away livid red.

"Sometimes, you really don't make me want to put in any effort." He spat, not really meaning it but wanting to hurt the Sumeragi as much as Subaru had just hurt him by calling him heartless. Hadn't he changed for Subaru? He wasn't heartless, he loved Subaru with everything he had, and whilst he could admit that that wasn't much, he still meant it honestly. To be branded heartless made him think of his actions in the past, something he didn't like remembering.

Seeing Subaru flinch violently, Seishirou decided that he'd better leave, quickly, to cool off before he dealt out any more verbal abuse he didn't mean, or worse, he thought, eying Subaru's wrists, physical abuse. He set his shoulders and spun around, heading for the door, his thoughts in total disarray. He hated not being in control. Immediately, he heard a sharp intake of breath behind him, and the slightest whimper.

"Seishirou-san! Don't...don't do this, where are you going?" There was a note of panic in Subaru's voice, and he grabbed Seishirou's arm.

"To the clinic."

"But you hate the clinic!"

"I dislike it mildly less than I dislike you at the moment." Seishirou shot back with a scowl, yanking his arm from Subaru's grip and pushing him back, a little harder than he meant to. He didn't allow himself to process the boy's tearful eyes, or the desperate whisper of his name, as though Subaru thought he was going to leave and not come back. Seishirou needed some space right now before he lost it completely, he hated that damn clinic, but he did get along reasonably well with the animals – at least he could say what he liked to them and they wouldn't dissolve into floods of tears or take everything in the worst way possible.

"Sei...Seishirou...don't leave me...I'm sorry, I'm sorry...don't..." Suddenly, the shy, vulnerable boy with no self-esteem was back, and Seishirou hated himself even more for missing him over the strong, capable, beautiful boy his Subaru had become. Even less able to deal with this revelation than his anger, he left quickly, shutting the door behind him and twisting the key in the lock to at least keep Subaru from following him. It wouldn't stop him if he really wanted to, but the action would give him pause.

Subaru threw himself at the door, his heart hurting when he realised it was locked. Seishirou had locked him in. "Seishirou-san!" He called desperately through the door, terrified that the man had gotten fed up, was going to leave him. "Seishirou-san!" He slapped his hand to the door and sank down it, shaking uncontrollably. What had he done?

Sitting with his back to the door he hugged his knees, assaulted by memories of the first time Seishirou had left him, after brutally beating him and telling him in that damned horrible affable tone how little he meant to him. He had left, and then he had killed Hokuto. A violent flinch. Had he really changed? Was all of this just a lie? Which was the real Seishirou? He buried his head in his knees, sobbing into his jeans as clashing memories overwhelmed him. He didn't even know how long he sat there, warring with his own memories, unsure what he was more afraid of, that Seishirou would leave...or that he would come back.

He was so beside himself he almost didn't notice the malevolent hum of magic that trickled through the windows and permeated the air with a sudden thickness.


He tensed, instinct taking over as the hiss of untamed magic shook him into lucidity. Swiping at his eyes, Subaru was on his feet in moments, heart lurching as his carefully crafted wards crumbled and fell. He dashed through into the living room, heart lurching as raw power manifested within his and Seishirou's wards. This wasn't a spirit, or anything Subaru was used to dealing with. This was magic taking form and targeting him. Thoughts of the mysterious onmyouji hunter flashed through his mind even as he dismissed it – this was not the way the serial killer worked – he hunted with a knife and cold-hearted determination. All thoughts of the creature's origin vanished when it finally took form, and his eyes widened.

It was taller than a man, long-limbed and grotesquely proportioned, gangly...and made completely of fire. A summon, Subaru recalled, more ancient magic that went largely unused in the modern world. Backing up, he gasped as the creature followed, setting carpets and curtains aflame. Subaru, paralysed with fear and shock, didn't spare the apartment much thought as it caught fire around him – until the smoke alarms went off. Jolted out of his haze of terror, he felt the calm of impending battle set over him even as adrenaline hummed through his veins. Calling on his magic he sent a wave of razor sharp wind, unwanted memories of battling Seishirou an age ago on Rainbow Bridge assaulting him even as the creature reeled back.

However, it didn't seem overly affected, in fact, it appeared to gain power from the assault, and it surged towards him. Subaru was forced to flee the living room as it combusted around him, heat searing his cheeks as he fled into the hall, spinning around to face the demon-thing as it crashed through after him, turning the door into a mess of splintered, charred wood. Flames licked up the walls and hit the ceiling, and he could feel the heat on his face. He hated fire.

Fire! Right! Not wind, but water! He could already hear screams as his smoke alarm activated the ones in the rest of the block, he could hear people running for the exits. Steeling himself, he drew a sheaf of ofuda and barked a command, and a flock of doves manifested from the paper and hurtled towards the demon. At another sharp word, the doves dissolved into a flood of water that slammed full force into the creature and sent it reeling back with a roar that set the remaining set of curtains on fire. Subaru didn't allow himself a moment to feel smug about his little victory, backing up against the front door. He wanted to keep the fire contained, but it wasn't looking like much of an option. His entire apartment was wreathed in flames, and he choked back a sob as something shattered in the kitchen. For the first time, it hit him that this thing was destroying everything he had. Everything Seishirou had. Smoke filled his vision, and tongues of flame licked at the walls near his skin.

Suddenly, he was angry, at the creature, at whoever had summoned it. Gritting his teeth and resigning himself to the fact that the things in their flat – theirs, he and Seishirou were a couple, they lived together, and Seishirou wouldn't really leave him – were history, he pushed at the door, only to mentally curse Seishirou when he remembered it was locked. A wave of magic stopped that, but it was power he couldn't really afford to lose.

The corridor was deserted, and blissfully cool, though smoke already blackened the ceiling, curling in malevolent wisps down towards Subaru. All along it, doors were hanging open as people had fled, and as he darted past, he slammed each one shut, hoping he might save at least one person's possessions. Skidding to a half at the end by the lifts, he spun around and loosed another powerful wave of magic, flinging ofuda at the walls and watching with satisfaction as the creature barrelled into a very solid wall of his magic, held in place by water wrenched from the pipes below and above. The ceiling cracked and the floor split as Subaru's magic used what was around it to keep the creature caged. Slowly, he pushed the walls of the watery cage inward, trying to extinguish the creature. His neck prickled, and somehow, he knew that whoever had sent the demon was watching. His features dropped into a scowl, and he loosed more ofuda, leaping out of the way of a lash of fire that escaped the watery restraints and flattening himself against the wall, only to curse as the demon finally burst through the cage, steaming and smoking and very, very angry. Subaru swore and backed away, flinging up shields to protect himself from the naked flames that preceded the creature's approach.

His eyes widened when a sudden attack had him fleeing for the stairs as a wall of fire rose like a wave before him, loosed from the demon's long arm as it swept across the corridor. A patch of ceiling fell behind the creature, and the flames hungrily licked up to the next floor, as though they were alive. Subaru took the stairs at a jump, trying to put distance between him and the summon, relieved that everyone else appeared to have gotten out alright. The creature followed him, and Subaru flung a strike spell back to send it reeling, noting with some satisfaction that it seemed to be weakening. Take that, Seishirou, who said he couldn't look after himself?

The satisfaction was short lived as the thing leapt through the spell and tackled Subaru to the ground. The shock was soon overpowered by pain as heat and naked flame seared his skin. He struggled briefly, gasping out a spell and slamming his hand to the ground. The floor rippled and pipes burst beneath him, and he scrambled to his feet the moment he could, hurling himself further down the stairwell as the water from the pipes shot up and buried the creature in a whirl of hissing and steam. The whole apartment groaned under the strain of the fire tearing through it, and the stairwell looked like it would soon become a death trap. Oh, this was not going to end well.


Hokuto was so involved in explaining some of her new ideas to Kakyou that she didn't see the smoke until she was only a block away, having ignored the screaming sirens until now. It was Kakyou's sudden stop that did it, jerking her to a halt and nearly sending her to the pavement in shock. "What was..." She followed his gaze and froze at the thick clouds of smoke billowing into the grey sky, knowing immediately even as her heart dropped to her stomach that the direction could only mean their apartment block. And Subaru's. She dropped her paper bag, heedless of the buttons and ribbons that spilt across the road in her wake as she let go of Kakyou and sprinted forward. Suddenly the sirens were louder, as blood pounded in her ears. A crowd had gathered around the bottom of the block, kept back by hastily erected police tape as fire alarms rang within the building, each one adding to the one before in a rising cresendo of panic. People were still streaming out of the doors, screams lost in the wailing of the sirens.

"Let me through! Let me through, damnit!" She cried, pushing past the morbid wreathes of spectators. "I SAID LET ME THROUGH!" She bellowed, and with it came a crackle of panic-induced power that rippled through the crowd and forced them into a stumble. "Sorry, sorry! Excuse me, let me through!" Hokuto tried to calm her wildly beating heart as she made the most of the gap, reigning in her panicked temper. Magic was not her thing, bursts of power were draining, and she had long been trained to hold her emotions in check.

But not when panic of this magnitude struck her heart with each beat. Ambulances were lined up in the street, and three huge fire engines blared their sirens, pouring water onto flames ten stories up. Helicopters, both rescue and news, hovered above the building, aiding those who had had to flee upwards. At their worst, the flames were tearing through the middle floors. "Subaru..." Somehow, in her heart she knew that this fire had been started in her brother's apartment. The radius of the flames was too perfect, the recent build-up of threats against him and their family too great. Her eyes scanned the crowd, and she pressed her hands together, searching for him even as she loosed her shikigami to find him, feeling the drain on her energy as the tiny silver sparrow fluttered from her fingertips and took off with a chirp of alarm. That done, she swept her gaze once more across the throngs of people, recognising neighbours from her floor and others in the group. She was unsurpised to find that Subaru was absent, but now that her shiki was looking for him, she could try her best to help. Pushing all panicked and painful thoughts about the loss of her things and the absence of her twin aside for the moment, she leapt over the police tape, ignoring calls for her to stop, and only ground to a halt when someone seized her arm.

"Miss, you mustn't go any closer!"

She didn't dignify the man with a response, yanking her lipstick out of her pocket and hurling the lid to the floor, Pulling her arm away from his grip she dropped to the floor, using the lipstick to trace symbols on the ground – quick strokes of her hand as she ran through any and every spell in her arsenal that might help contain the fire. It was almost certainly magical in origin, factoring in the obvious speed at which the flames had taken hold. Pressing her fingers together and trying to control her wild thoughts, she whispered a simple spell of protection. The red marks blazed white and lifted from the ground, melting together and leaking spirit energy, crackling as the muzzle of a large bear fleetingly took form before melting back into white fire and surging towards the building. Her protective magic always took the form of a bear – Obaa-sama had told her it was because she was as fierce as a mother bear when she thought someone might hurt someone she loved. She'd only ever used the spell once before, when Subaru had been knocked out on a job soon after they had come to Tokyo. It had not been so urgent then – she had called on the spirit to watch him and protect him while she ran for help.

Now, it would help anyone it encountered, shielding them from the flames as they escaped until her magic ran dry and she exhausted herself. She could sense her shiki circling the building, and felt the heat as it entered somewhere on the third floor. Allowing the firefighter, who was probably now questioning his sanity, to drag her back, she could only watch with her heart in her mouth, praying for her sparrow to find Subaru.


Subaru ducked another ball of fire, choosing to dodge rather than shield. His reserves were getting low, his energy was sapped and he kept swaying in place if he stood still for too long. The good news was that he knew the demon summon was dissipating. It's attacks were not so focussed now, they were more random, though still it chased him. He was at least on the ground floor now, though he was loath to lead the thing outside where it could harm people. He sent another weak strike to keep it back and dropped down the last few steps, falling in a heap and cursing as his ankle twisted painfully. He pulled himself to his feet, coughing as smoke filled his lungs. He stared through the flames, trying to see the creature, but all he saw was the fires it had started. Lungs burning, he coughed and swiped at his eyes, leaving streaks of soot on his cheeks. Suddenly, the last few vestiges of the creature burst out in front of him, sending him stumbling back. He flung himself at the door behind him and found himself in the smoke-filled car park that sat underneath the building. The ramp through which cars could enter and leave was already a wall of flames – escaping that way was impossible. Casting his eyes about while flinging an ofuda at the floor to safeguard his back, he spotted the double doors out onto the street, chain-locked for security, but nothing a bit of magic couldn't deal with.

Then, the creature was on him, a fiery hand colliding with his side and sending him tumbling to the floor. Flames licked at his skin and he let out an aborted cry through his teeth. Scrabbling for purchase, he gasped in horror as the creature leant over him. It was going to burn him alive! Lashing out with the very last of his magic, he activated the ofuda he'd left on the floor, and the ground cracked, opening up into a yawn. He didn't wait to see what happened next, rolling out from underneath the summon and turning back to the chained doors even as flames licked at his heels.

A hollow boom from above him had the whole building shaking. Subaru stumbled back, coughing in the smoke. He could no longer see the construct, and wondered if his attack had worked, or if it had burnt itself out or left the building. He hoped it was gone, destroyed. Barely moments later, he realised what a timebomb the car park was. No sooner had this unwanted revelation sunk in, it became reality as the first car exploded. Subaru flinched away, and ran for the door with a cry of terror. Seconds later the whole room seemed to combust behind him in a roar of petrol fuelled flames. With a shrill scream, he was hurled forwards, and pain seared up his back. The smell of burnt skin and fabric assaulted his nose, and his stomach turned as he smashed into the door. His head spun as it collided with the metal, but he barely noticed through the searing pain in his legs and back. Flames reared up behind him, roaring above his head, and with a shriek of fear, Subaru did the only thing he could think of – he shoved at the door with all his might, willing his depleted magic to aid him one last time. When it didn't budge, he whimpered in panic, only for white streaks of spirit-energy to swirl around his head, briefly taking the form of a bear's maw stretched in a roar, and a swipe of a giant white paw that slammed the door open. The magic disspiated almost immediately, spent in seconds, and Subaru tumbled out into blissful open air, flames flickering out behind him. Outside was already awash with panicked residents and screaming people, ambulances and police cars were parked up, lights flashed, and Subaru's head swam as he tumbled forwards, collapsing in a heap on the floor, the pain rendering him half senseless and half paralysed with fear.

A litany of angry swearing reached his ears, and arms were around him, pulling him forward and away from the inferno behind him. Unfamiliar voices echoed near his head, and he flinched and howled when someone brushed against his leg.

More swearing. He fought back instinctively against the hands that held him, his head was spinning and he thought he might be sick. His eyes were screwed tightly shut, and he couldn't even scream through the pain anymore, it dominated his entire being.

And then, there was darkness. Blissful, cool darkness, and a familiar voice murmuring everything and nothing into his ear. Choking on his relief, he sagged into the arms of his lover and the familiar scent and feel of the marboroshi Seishirou had spirited him into. Vaguely aware of arms around his midriff and that gentle murmur he couldn't quite force himself to understand, he trembled.

Seishirou was beside himself. The moment he'd felt the strong kekkai around their apartment fail, he had been flying back to the block, only to find it already consumed by fire. The screaming and the sirens had drilled through his skull, and he had seen Hokuto's slim form lying on the path a little way off with Kakyou crounching beside her, but all he'd been able to think about was the sharp words he'd left Subaru with whe he'd left, and the terrible agony, that worry that he might have lost his lover. He had been seconds away from tearing into the building himself to find the boy when he had come bursting out of the doors leading down to the underground carpark, a wall of flames behind him.

He had reacted without thinking, sending a wave of power at the door and slamming it shut to contain the flames as he had sprinted over and forced the paramedics aside, away from the young onmyouji. Delirious, Subaru had been fighting against the arms of the people who were trying to help him, and only by sending the fussing nurses to sleep and pulling Subaru into the silence and safety of his marboroshi had he been able to calm the younger boy.

"I'm sorry...Subaru-kun...I won't leave you...I'll never leave you..." The boy didn't seem to hear him, and Seishirou's stomach twisted painfully.

Subaru's clothes were charred, the skin of his back raw and red as he trembled against Seishirou, unable to form words through the pain he was in. Seishirou stood rooted to the spot, murmuring nonsense into the boy's ear and at a total loss as to what to do. He didn't know how to treat injuries like this, it was too much, too severe. Subaru's magical core was almost nonexistent, and the last few dregs of it fought to keep the Sumeragi conscious as he went limp in Seishirou's arms, fingers that clutched at his shirt flexing, knuckles white as he whimpered through the pain. He looked smaller than usual, covered in burns and soot, and the assassin felt a tremor run through his body. What could he do about this? In his panic, faced with his lover in more pain than Seishirou could concieve, he couldn't latch onto a single sensible idea.

It was Kakyou's voice that cut through his panic, calling distantly from outside the marboroshi. As the blackness of the illusion melted around him and he focussed wild golden eyes on the younger man, who was casting his eyes around, knowing Seishirou was there but unable to fully penetrate the marboroshi. When the two onmyouji seemed to shimmer out of thin air, Kakyou's eyes widened. "He needs to go the hospital." He said urgently, darting over surprisingly quickly and resting a hand on Seishirou's arm hesitantly. "Let them take him, he's...that's bad."


As Seishirou paced outside the ward-room where his lover lay, surrounded by doctors and nurses as they treated a slew of injuries from internal bleeding and bruising to the extensive burns on his back and legs, he was vaguely aware of several nurses shooting him glances as they hurried past. He found out why several minutes later when he was approached by two uniformed police officers. The first one, a woman with hard eyes and long black hair tied back in a severe bun flashed her badge while the other, a younger woman with lighter hair and eyes that were more accusing than anything else introduced herself and her partner as Inspectors Kazuhiko and Kato. "And you are Seishirou Sakurazuka-san?" She clarified.

"Yes, that's me. Is there a problem?" He hated officers of the law. They stuck their noses into his business every so often, only to be swiftly nosed away by those higher up in the ranks who knew who he was and what he did. He worked beneath the law but was protected by it, so whatever they wanted to talk about, he assumed it would make itself scarce within a few hours.

"Would you mind coming down to the station to answer a few questions about your relationship with Subaru Sumeragi-san?" Kazuhiko asked with a shrewd look on her face.

Seishirou stared at her blandly, refusing to rise to the bait of her question. "Yes, I would mind." He snapped, unable to help but wonder if Subaru's dear Obaa-sama had had a hand in this, if she knew what was going on. "I'm staying here with my partner."

"Have it your way." The older woman, Kato, shrugged. "Sakurazuka-san, you are under arrest for domestic abuse and suspected arson." Seishirou's eyebrows disappeared into his hair as the woman recited his rights, only to laugh a little when she'd finished.

"Excuse me? Abuse? I would not hurt my Subaru-kun. And I would not set my own apartment on fire, what a ridiculous suggestion."

The women exchanged glances. "All of the evidence suggests otherwise, Sakurazuka-san." Kato frowned as she took his arm and began to lead him down the corridor. He didn't resist – he may be above reproach but there was no reason to goad this silly woman into doing anything daft while they were in a hospital. He could have just broken the bitch's neck for daring to assume she could take his arm, but the little voice in his head that sounded like Subaru told him that wouldn't be very sporting. She was only doing her job, after all. He belatedly realised she was talking to him. "The bruises on his wrists match the size of your hands, his body is covered in injuries both old and recent which are consistent with abusive behaviour, and neighbours have attested to hearing blazing rows, and there are reports of one such row occurring only hours before the blaze started, with Sumeragi-kun locked inside the apartment, no less." Seishirou frowned. Put that way, it sounded bad. Though she was wrong about the injuries, he knew Subaru picked many of those up from work, he had tended to many himself! He did, however, feel a stab of guilt when he realised that the reason the bruises on Subaru's wrists matched his hands was because he had indeed put them there. And locking Subaru in the apartment? He had done that, hadn't he? He shook his head, unable to reconcile all of this straight away.

Their argument had started when Seishirou had accused Subaru of being careless and going out alone. And it had ended with Seishirou leaving him locked in the apartment by himself, in a state. The assassin could have cursed his own stupidity as he was led to a police car, allowing it to happen as he tried to work out exactly what his priorities should be.


Author's note: That was a hard chapter to write. Luckily I moved house when I was half way through it and was without internet for a few days – which meant that I had some evenings to fill. SO. Why a sparrow shiki for Hokuto? Well, I know that in Shoten, Hokuto's shiki is supposed to be a monkey. But we all know we prefer Subaru's doves to Leone the penguin, as adorable as I find his shoten shiki. So I made Hokuto's shikigami a sparrow. Unassuming and common, a little garden bird with a big attitude! I love sparrows and I love Hokuto, and it just seemed to suit her. In case it wasn't obvious, Hokuto's shiki found Subaru in the car park and her protection spell, the bear, followed, freeing him. Her magic is, however, severely limited, which is why she's wiped by the time Subaru leaves the building.

ANYWAY. Explanations over, please review, and show an author some love!

Next time: Seishirou has had enough of the police, Obaa-sama gets angry and Subaru tries to sort everything out.