"Subaru-kun...you know, don't you?" He pushed the Sumeragi's arm tight, applying pressure to the limb mercilessly.

"The Sakurazukamori is called a clan of assassins. But in reality..." More ruthless pressure. The boy's slender limb was shaking in his hands, the fragile bone seconds from giving way and snapping. "There is only one true Sakurazukamori." He explained, still in that hatefully conversational tone, how, like Subaru, he had had to go through a rite of succession.

He laughed as he recalled killing his own mother. "I felt nothing...even bathed in my mother's blood I felt nothing. I have never felt anything in particular for anything at all." Just a little more pressure, and Subaru's arm would snap...

"But you said you loved me! Does that mean everything you've said to Hokuto or I, it was all a lie? Everything for the sake of some foolish bet you made when you were younger? I love you, Sakurazukamori or not, and this was all a game to you!" Subaru screamed, half hysterical, half watching from the outside, horrified as he saw himself screaming at Seishirou-san.

The tears streamed openly down his face as he sobbed, crying like one who's soul had just been sundered, the sobs of the absolutely exhausted, physically and emotionally.

And Seishirou stopped. He stopped pushing, frozen in place, Subaru's wrist still in his grip, still pushed up behind him. He made no move to break it. Subaru's outburst had been completely unexpected. He had thought to push the boy to his limit while he was still traumatised, and then kill him.

Seishirou, for the first time in his life, had no comeback. At least for a few moments, until he felt oddly...compelled, to answer the question. He hadn't anticipated this, and though there was no hint of it in his voice when he did speak, he was wary. "...Not everything." He said carefully, still frozen behind the Sumeragi.

"What, then? The part where you said you loved me was obviously a lie. How about the part where you said you wanted to marry me one day, or the part where you and Hokuto joked about taking care of me?

Because those must have been lies too, otherwise, we wouldn't be here like this!

So, tell me, Sakurazukamori," He spat the title out as though it were poison in his mouth, "What have you ever said to me that was the truth?"

Subaru was still crying, the tears trickling down his face, but he had stopped sobbing. He was now still as one dead, with only the droplets streaming down his face giving any idea that this picture of desolation was in fact human

Seishirou released him, pushing him hard enough to make him stumble. Which turned out to be a bad move, as the Sumeragi turned to look up at him. He was crying, utterly devastated, but there was a hardness in those stunning green eyes Seishirou...wasn't sure he'd seen before. The expression threw Seishirou a little, but nevertheless...another question to answer. He thought back, brow furrowing.

His first thought was recent. He'd saved Subaru from the crazy woman and lost his eye for it. Those actions, what he had done, that had been the truth. As irritating as it was to admit it. What exactly had he been thinking?

The only thought in his head was 'save him'. Why would he do that?

So. To lie again now?

"I lost my eye for you." The words were out before his brain could make the decision, and he belatedly realised they didn't make all that much sense in context.

"Under the conditions of the bet, Seishirou-san, you had to protect me until the year was over. You might have gone a bit further than strictly necessary, but it was still something you had to do under the bet. It still means nothing."

Subaru had reached that point where nothing mattered any more. The one he loved was the Sakurazukamori, what else could compare to that? He felt emotionally numb, which considering the circumstances, was probably a good thing, as a small part of him murmured that the longer he kept Seishirou off balance, the longer he was likely to live.

And Seishirou was distinctly off balance. He felt an urge to defend himself, suddenly - after all, losing his eye was the first time he unconsciously stepped in the way he had. Protecting Subaru was one thing, sacrificing a rather vital body part for him was quite another.

But he didn't. He opened his mouth, but couldn't form a reply. Subaru had well and truly flung him off kilter.

He took a step forward, half thinking he might attempt to pick up where he left off, but he got the feeling the gesture was futile.

Subaru looked up when he was a movement in the corner of his eyes, a wholly instinctual gesture, and probably a useless one now. Still, it meant that he saw Seishirou take an aborted half-step towards him, and he wondered at the cause

Was Seishirou-san truly experiencing remorse, or guilt for his actions? Or was this all part of another game to torment him, even here at the end.

Subaru had reached his breaking point.

"If I mean nothing to you, Seishirou-san, why do you hesitate? Kill me!"

Seishirou tensed, anger flaring in his eyes, and in an instinctive move, he drew back his hand and took a step closer, the spell to sharpen his hand ready for a killing blow already on his lips.

And all of his instincts went into complete overdrive.

For the first time since becoming the Sakurazukamori, he couldn't make his lips form the spell.

Subaru saw Seishirou's lips forming the words to the spell that would undoubtedly kill him, and couldn't bring himself to care. Sure, Hokuto would miss him, but she was the more independent of the two twins, and he knew obaasama would take care of her.

He steeled himself for the blow, a useless tensing of the muscles to escape a blow that ... didn't come?

Subaru opened h

eyes that he couldn't recall closing, and looked at where Seishirou was stood

Seishirou's hand dropped to rest at his side, and he regarded Subaru coolly.

Petals still swirled around them inside the maboroshi, and the silence was deafening.

"I can't." He said it more to himself than to Subaru, and his voice held the slightest inflection of puzzlement.

"But I mean nothing more than a glass cup to you!" Subaru screamed. "To break me would mean nothing, remember? So break me!" Subaru had lost whatever hold he had left on his emotions. "Please, just, break me and end this!"

the cherry blossom petals stopped their dance, and were suspended in mid-air as even the maboroshi itself seemed to hold it's breath.

The phantom wind had died, and Seishirou's gaze was even, and cool. There was no hint of emotion there, yet he still didn't move. His brain was telling him to just deal with it, it would be so easy, even now, to snap the little brat's neck and be done with it.


Instead, with a sweep of his hand and a swirl of cherry blossom, the illusion vanished, and along with it, Seishirou, hiding with in the confines of the maboroshi to escape the strange situation he'd just been left in.

Subaru was left alone in an empty hospital room, with a very sore arm and shattered feelings.

"Subaru, how is Sei-chan...?" Hokuto called as she whirled into the sitting room, as much manic energy as ever.

"Subaru, what happened?" She gasped, grabbing her twin and holding him close as she saw the deadened look in his eyes.

He lifted his arms to grasp her desperately, and allowed the tears he had been too numb to cry fall at last.

"H-Hokuto-chan, Seisshirou-san... Seishirou-san is..." Subaru gasped out between sobs, trying desperately to catch his breath.

"He's... Sakurazukamori!" Subaru finally got out, and as though saying it somehow made it more real, he fainted, the shock and emotional trauma of the day catching up on him.

He hardly noticed the worried expression on Hokuto's face turn to one of panic, or her soft yet strong arms as they caught him and lowered him to the ground

Hokuto was devastated. She pottered in the kitchen putting away cutlery, aware of her baby brother, her precious twin curled up on the sofa underneath a blanket. She'd tucked his pillow under his head, but his sleep was fitful, and he kept knocking it onto the floor. A knife thunked into the wood of the chopping board, the hand holding it trembling with anger.

He had hurt her Subaru. After everything he had promised.

She wondered what exactly had happened when Subaru went to visit the vet-turned-assassin, but from the look on her brother's face, maybe she didn't want to know.

She'd known all along that something wasn't right about him - in fact, she had reasoned that he was indeed Sakurazukamori - the coincidences were too perfect, his lies too quick. But in her naivety,she had let her brother get hurt. What could she ever do to help him, now?

Subaru woke up slowly, with that strange sensation of not knowing where he was that one only gets after falling asleep absolutely exhausted. He wonderer absenty what jobs he had for today, and if there would be time for him and Hokuto-chan to see-

Seishirou-san. The memories of their previous encounter rushed back to Subaru, leaving him shaking and gasping for breath.

He jacknifed up off the sofa he was laid on and ran towards Hokuto's bedroom. He had to warn her!

"Subaru!" Hokuto jumped up to catch him as he half fell through the door. "You're awake!" She'd been crying, but there was relief in her voice.

"Hokuto-chan, Seishirou-san is the Sakurazukamori! The entire thing was a bet he had made with himself and... and..." Subaru broke into noisy sobs and went to sink to his knees. "I love him, Hokuto-chan, and it was all a lie!"

Hokuto sank down with him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders, heart breaking. "I know...Subaru...I know..." Her voice cracked. "It's all my fault, I shouldn't have...I shouldn't have let him get close to you...Subaru..." She wondered, suddenly, how Subaru had escaped. "Subaru...how did you..." She bit her lip. "How did you get away?"

If Subaru knew Seishirou was the Sakurazukamori, Seishirou should have killed him.

Seishirou should have killed him, and yet he hadn't. For the first time since this fiasco began, Subaru felt a glimmer of hope deep in his chest.

"He just let me go, after I said for him to kill me, because obviously I meant nothing to him

He said 'I can't', then just vanished

Hokuto-chan, do you think, maybe...?"

Hokuto's head snapped up. "Subaru...you're not...thinking of going AFTER him?" She stared at him, saw the desperate hope in his eyes, and tightened her grip on his arms when his words caught up with her. "...He said he couldn't do it?" A hint of wonder. The Sakurazukamori, unable to kill...?

"Hokuto-chan, what was it you said about love accepting no restraints? I love him, and so I have to find out the truth!"

"even if he never cared for me, even if it was all a lie, it can only be better than this. I feel as though my heart is breaking... I think I understand why they use that term, now."

Subaru looked up at his twin, his mirror image, his other half. "Hokuto-chan, you must promise to go to Kyoto and stay with Obaasama. She can protect you while I'm gone. This is something I have to do, Hokuto." He looked at her, resolute and with a sense of... almost contentment in his glistening green eyes, like one who was at peace with the universe.

"After all, I love him."

Hokuto let out a whimper. "But what about you? What if he..." Her heart thudded so hard she was sure Subaru could hear it.

"I can't...I don't know what I'd do if I lost you, Subaru..."

"He said he couldn't kill me, Hokuto-chan, so I'm sure I'll be fine. You do know that the same goes for me, right? If I lost you, it would destroy me." He smiled sadly at his sister. "That's why you have to go to Obaasama, so I can g after Seishirou without worrying about what happens if he finds you as well."

Subaru knew that the strange mercy Seishirou had shown him wouldn't be extended to Hokuto, somehow, so having her agree to stay at the family estate was the only way he could keep her safe

And if he was wrong, and Seishirou-san did kill him, then at least Hokuto would be somewhere she could heal from the loss, and she wouldn't have to see him die

"And I you, Hokuto-chan. I promise, I'll be as careful as I can be." Subaru figured that chasing after an assasin wasn't safe in the slightest, so anything he did fell under that broad description/

He loved his sister dearly, but he knew, instinctively, that Seishirou-san was the only person he could ever be in love with, and he was determined to do as much for himself as he'd do for anyone else in this situation.

She wrapped her arms around him and squeezed tightly. Then, she was gone, heading over to the phone to ring their grandmother and give some sort of version of events to the woman.

Within just half a day, the older twin, her heart breaking at being separated from her beloved brother, was on a train to Kyoto, waving desperately out of the window to Subaru. "I love you..." She mouthed again through the glass, pressing her hand to it.

"I love you too!" Subaru said, hoping that Hokuto would understand, pressing his hand so it rested alongside his twin's, looking like mirror reflections wearing different clothing

Now, Subaru had an assassin to track down. But how to go about it...

Subaru returned home, than began setting up for what would be the most complex ritual he had ever attempted with a heavy heart.

But still, he knew that this was his only chance to find Seishirou-san, so he started.

He summoned his three-headed shikigami, then concentrated his abilities on his scars, scars left there magically by Seishirou-san, so hopefully containing some remnant of his magic.

He focused on that little wisp

of magic that didn't seem in tune with his aura, and reached for it, using his own magic to bring it closer to the surface for his shikigami to detect.

Reaching, reaching, there!

Subaru's eyes snapped open at the exact moment his shikigami took flight. He jumped out the open window, and followed it to parts unknown

Seishirou's head thunked against the bar as he let the empty glass drop to the counter. One whiskey. No more, else he lost his head. Not a lightweight, of course, Seishirou just preferred to have his wits about him, and alcohol was decidedly detrimental to that. Lifting his head again, he took a long drag of his cigarette.

When he exhaled, a coil of smoke curled comfortingly around his head.

Over and over he had replayed the meeting with Subaru, wondering exactly when the situation had spiralled out of control. Subaru had baited him, given him an ultimatum the Sakurazukamori couldn't refuse.

So what the hell had happened?

He'd -frozen-. Him, the untouchable Sakurazukamori, had frozen like a rabbit in headlights.

...and that was an unattractive comparison. He growled in frustration.

Another drag later, and he had to stub out the cigarette. Whereupon he immediately reached for another. Usually, he didn't chain smoke like this, but he was a little more...stressed than usual.

"Seishirou-san, I found you! How could you do that, make such threats then run away! Have you no pride as a man?" Subaru's inner Hokuto took control for a moment, leaving Subaru blushing and wishing somewhat that the earth would swallow him up, even as he revelled in seeing Seishirou-san's face again.

The other people in the bar were staring at him, but Subaru could care less. After all of that time and effort, he was once again face-to-face with the one he loved. A little part of him was terrified of what Seishirou-san would do now, but the rest of him was just too happy at being reunited.

Seishirou jumped so much he almost fell off the barstool. He had never, ever been crept up on before. Damnit, he really was losing his mind! He stared at the green-eyed onmyouji, blinking slowly, smoke curling from the forgotten cigarette in his hand.

Recovering himself, he shook his head and stood up, taking small satisfaction in the fact that he still towered over Subaru. He seized Subaru's wrist and jerked him outside, coat sweeping behind him. He wasn't wearing one of his silly bright outfits tonight, he looked every bit the assassin he was in a long black trench coat and a dark suit.

"You followed me." He deadpanned.

"Are you stupid, or just suicidal?"

"I'm sorry, did you miss the part where I said I was in love with you?" Subaru asked, so perfectly deadpan that he could hardly believe he was pulling this off

"Of course I followed you! You can't say something like that, not kill me, then run away! Don't you get that I'd follow you anywhere?"

"No, Subaru-kun." Seishirou's voice dripped with scorn. "You're following an illusion. You're -in love- with an illusion. The man you fell for doesn't exist, he never existed, he's just a front." He hadn't released Subaru's wrist, though he wasn't twisting it, just holding it firmly. It was thin, and fragile beneath his long fingers.

There had always been something beautifully delicate about Subaru.

"So, during that year, none of that was you? You don't prefer pistachio to strawberry ice cream, or always forget to turn the stove off? None of that was you? Because that's the Seishirou-san that I fell in love with." Subaru replied, unsure of how to convince the man in front of him how truly he loved him, but giving it his best effort nonetheless

"You don't like driving with the windows down, or dislike your loud neighbours? The Seishirou-san I fell in love with was you with a bit of acting, but still you. Or are you saying that there was never a little bit of the Sakurazukamori in the vet I fell for?"

Once again, Seishirou was stunned into silence. Not that he let it show on his face, painted with cool nonchalance. He lifted Subaru by his wrist, stretching the boy's slender body until his toes were brushing the pavement and the pair were almost face to face. His single amber eye narrowed. "You're playing with fire." He warned.

"The vet you fell for uses the animals in his shelter to bear the heat of his sakanagi, earned by the assassinations he does every night. I am an assassin, a killer, and I enjoy killing." He hissed, eyes flashing dangerously. "I am not a person able to love, or be loved."

"Well, evidently you can be loved, or why would I be here? If I didn't love you, I'd be hiding in Kyoto in case you came to your senses and tried to kill me, not chasing you alone! I. Love. You. This is a fact, so stop debating it. I honestly love you, with everything in me."

"Then you are a fool." He growled, releasing the boy.

"A fool who loves you." Subaru replied simply.

Seishirou stared evenly at him. "You couldn't possibly understand what it means to love."

He turned on his heel, walking away, trying to shake the feeling that he wasn't getting rid of Subaru.

"I followed you, didn't I?" Subaru yelled at his retreating back, chasing after him. "I put my life in serious danger on the off chance that you might care for me. I'd do anything for you, and I don't even care that you're the Sakurazukamori! Nobody from my family would ever speak to me again if they knew what I'm doing, and I'm here anyway, because I care more for you than I do for myself!"

Subaru wasn't about to give up, not after finally having found Seishirou-san again.

Quick as a flash, Seishirou swung around, catching Subaru's neck in an iron grip and slamming him into the wall.

"What exactly do you plan to achieve tonight?"

"To find out the truth. Either you never loved me, in which case you kill me, or you do care for me, in which case we can spend the rest of our lives together. Your choice, Seishirou-san." Subaru felt terrified, putting the ultimatum out there, but knew that brutal honesty was the only way that he was going to get through to the man in front of him.

If Seishirou-san had never loved him, then death would be a release.

Seishirou leant very close, his face inches from Subaru's.

"I don't understand love." He said, enunciating every word.

His fingers twitched at Subaru's neck. Though he was composed on the outside, inside, he was all over the place. Being this close to the Sumeragi was intoxicating - there was no denying Subaru was ethereally attractive - and at the same time, part of him wanted to run as far away from those accusing eyes as he could.

He'd never in his life felt guilty before.

Staring at the determination in Subaru's gaze, Seishirou paused, trying to calculate a way out of his current situation. Finally, he narrowed his eyes.

"If you are as serious as you seem to believe you are...then...I propose a new bet. I gave you a year. But you didn't know you had it. Now you know what's at stake if you lose, I have new rules." Shit, he was making this up. "Another year. You live with me - exactly as I am - and convince me you can love what I really am."

"The original rule still stands. I must learn to feel something for you." Derision, like this was all a big game. "If you can't make me love you, I WILL kill you." And damnit, he would work up the resolve to do it properly this time.

"If I can't convince you of my feelings, and you feel nothing for me, then death would be welcome. Now, my side of the negotiations."


"Hokuto-chan is out of limits, independent of if I win or lose. If I win, you spend the rest of your life happily with me, looking at no one else, protecting no one else. You don't lie to me during this year. No lies, whatsoever." Subaru concluded.

He was pretty sure that covered everything, and of course Hokuto's safety was paramount

Seishirou stared at him calculatingly. Finally, he nodded, gripping Subaru's hand. He pulled the glove off, ignoring the crackle of magic and waving the spell aside like it was little more than an annoying fly. He kissed the back of Subaru's hand. "Done." Where his lips had touched the skin, the inverted pentagram flared into bright, burning red.

It only occurred to Subaru once Seishirou had silently led him back to his apartment that in a year of knowing the older man, he'd never been there before. It was...big. Seishirou was clearly not short of money, his apartment was a penthouse, sixteen floors up. It was spacious and minimally furnished, and the main room was open plan with big windows looking out over Tokyo.

Seishirou dumped his door keys in a tray which lay on an elegant black table by the door. Double-taking, he stared at the tray for a moment, then grabbed them back up again, twisting one of the keys from the loop. He held it out to the younger boy, expression perfectly neutral, like giving Subaru a front door key wasn't a big deal.

"S-Seishirou-san, this is..!" Subaru stuttered, clearly overwhelmed and surprised by the token Seishirou had just given him. Part of him protested that it was too much, too soon, but another part of him was just too caught up singing 'Seishirou-san gave me a door key!' to notice.

Subaru was glad that this new understanding was how the bet was going to continue. If it kept up like this, he felt he had a chance, if not at making Seishirou-san love him, then at convincing the older man of his own feelings.

"Well, you're going to have a hard time working this bet around both our jobs, and school, if you don't live here with me." Seishirou shrugged, flicking on all the lights. He groaned when he realised how late it was and started muttering something about having to get up early.

Subaru wanted to protest the automatic assumption that he would be living with Seishirou-san for the remainder of the bet, but upon further thought, he decided that it might be a good idea. It meant that he was closer to Seishirou-san, so they would spend more time together, and more time together meant a better chance of surviving the end of the year.

Hokuto would probably be upset, but he could always come and visit, and right now Hokuto's sore feelings were a minor concern, considering.

"Thank you." He replied, cautiously adding the key onto his own keyring, as though he feared it would bite him. The rest of his keyring was filled with novelty keychains Hokuto-chan had bought him, so the key to the most deadly assassin in Japan's apartment looked incongruously innocent.

Seishirou just grunted in response. "You can get your things tomorrow. Or whatever." Crap, this was such a bad idea. He hadn't been able to live with his own mother, how was he going to deal with a school-age teenager? He shot a sidelong glance at Subaru. A ridiculously attractive and naive school-age teenager.

Oh hell, where was he even going to sleep?

"I don't have a guest room." He said as much to himself as Subaru.

"Well, I'm not a guest. I love you, and you feel as though I might as well be a cup, so we can share a bed." Subaru replied, astonished at his boldness.

"I can think of two reasons why that is a spectacularly bad idea." Seishirou snapped, covering his astonishment. "One, I've watched you sleep, you have nightmares and you fidget. I would be very unhappy if you kicked me in your sleep. Two, what in hell's name would your sister say?"

Inwardly, he was reeling. Little innocent Subaru had just suggested they sleep in the same bed. Good grief, did the boy have ANY idea what that would actually do to Seishirou's self control?

"I'm moving in with the Sakurazukamori, and you think my sister will be worried about where I sleep? Besides, she'd probably cheer you on!" Subaru replied, slightly offended that his offer had been so carelessly rejected.

Subaru had decided that, if he was to die in a year, he would spend that year ensuring that he had as many memories of those he loved to take with him as possible, and Seishirou-san was one of the people he loved, very much

There was a long pause, during which Seishirou's coat was carelessly thrown over the back of the long black sofa and his jacket following, leaving his in a tight fitting black shirt and slacks. He eyed the Sumeragi speculatively, single amber eye glinting.

"You realise the implications of what you're suggesting, here?" Seishirou said, a wicked smile slipping onto otherwise blank features. Why not ruffle Subaru a little? The persistent little brat deserved it.

"Seishirou-san, I'm in love with you. I can think of worse things than for me to sleep with the one I love." Subaru replied, hoping that if he kept saying that he loved Seishirou-san, it would eventually sink in. He flushed bright red as he said it, a testimony to his acute embarrassment, but he managed to get it out without stuttering... too badly...

Seishirou burst out laughing. "You're so beautifully naive." He crossed the room in three quick strides and pressed Subaru up against the wall next to the front door, one hand splayed on the younger's chest. "Subaru-kun, I can feel your heart beating out of your chest." He tapped out a fast rhythm with one long finger, leaning so close to the younger boy, their noses were millimetres apart.

His eyes were dark. "You think I'm gentle? And loving, like that silly vet? You are so far from being able to handle the Sakurazukamori."

"I love the Seishirou-san who teased me at the vet's, and the Seishirou-san you are now. As far as I see it, both are just facets of the one I love, so I love them both. Any other personalities you have in there, I'll love too." Subaru felt as though he was being awfully bold by saying this, but it was the truth, and he believed that Seishirou needed to hear it. Imagine, believing that no-one in the world loved you? Subaru found that too awful to dwell on.

Seishirou stared hard into Subaru's determined eyes for several moments, then he stood up, letting his hand drop. He ran it through his hair instead, a look of puzzlement flashing across his face for the barest second.

Subaru should hate him.

He was a liar, and a manipulative bastard.

"You are a singularly confusing creature." He declared loftily, stalking back across the room towards the bedroom.

Subaru trailed along after him, unsure of what he was supposed to do in the sitting room by himself. Seishirou-san's bedroom matched the d├ęcor of his lounge- minimalistic, but clearly expensive, with a four-poster bed with black cotton bedsheets dominating the space.

"You can imagine why I never brought you here." Seishirou muttered, glancing at the boy as he tugged his tie off. "It hardly screams 'kindly vet'." In the darkness of the bedroom, Subaru's eyes almost glowed, and his slender figure was outlined by the light filtering through the door.

Damnit, this was going to make everything frustratingly difficult.

He was beginning to suspect that he knew the reason he couldn't physically bring himself to kill Subaru, and he swore that he could faintly hear his mother's laughter echoing in his head.

If the pretty little onmyouji really was destined to be the only one Sakurazukamori could love, he would eventually inherit the legacy. Somehow, Seishirou couldn't quite imagine the look on Lady Sumeragi's face once she figured that little gem out.

Living with Subaru was not easy. It was challenging everything Seishirou liked to keep simple, and he found himself losing his cool more often than he'd like to admit, often snapping irritably at the younger onmyouji, or swatting at him a little harder than necessary when he was in the way.

The worst part was, he felt guilty when he did, especially since Subaru never complained.

He was beginning to hate this 'guilt' thing.

Subaru was upset the first couple of times Seishirou-san got upset with him, but it calmed something in him that he was able to evoke a genuine response from the older man.

He began to feel like maybe, just maybe, he was starting to get to know the real Seishirou, the Sakurazukamori under the kind exterior.

Subaru looked over as the fax machine beeped, spitting out a set of co-ordinates and a time. This - this couldn't be!

He knew the man he was in love with was the Sakurazukamori, but for Subaru to be an accomplice in a murder?

He decided to try and talk Seishirou-san out of it, to make him see the other side a little. If he succeeded, he could save this person's life!

He replaced the fax in the tray, then left the room. Seishirou-san probably wouldn't be able to be talked round now, but if Subaru pretended to stumble across the murder-to-be, Seishirou-san would have to stop, right?

Subaru sat on the black leather sofa, and turned on the expensive-looking, large television, then changed over to the news. By the time Seishirou-san entered, Subaru was engrossed in the report, trying his best to ignore the butterflies in his stomach.

"Konbanwa." Seishirou muttered offhandedly as he walked into the room. He was beginning to actually acknowledge the second person in his house, at least. He glanced over at the fax and walked unhurriedly over, picking up the sheet and scanning the contents. "How long ago did this turn up?" He asked, startling himself with conversation.

"T-the fax? About ten minutes ago, going from the clock on the news channel." Subaru responded. "Why, is it something urgent?"

He desperately hoped that he was acting casual enough to fool Seishirou-san into thinking everything was alright.

"Perhaps. I will see to this." He glanced at his watch. "Sort yourself out for dinner, I won't be back until late. Lock yourself in if you like." He grabbed his coat off the rack (Subaru always hung it up no matter where Seishirou flung it) and disappeared out of the door.

Subaru waited a few minutes, enough to allow Seishirou enough of a head start that he wouldn't be easily visible, then made his own way, using a longer route than normal, to the coordinates in the fax.

He was in for a long wait. Nothing happened for almost an hour, and the chill reminded Subaru that he had neglected to bring a coat. It wasn't until night had fallen properly that anything at all happened. Seishirou arrived, all dark clothes and a menacing aura. He looked around, then melted into the shadows of a nearby building.

Street lamps illuminated the scene, though there was no-one about.

Seishirou hadn't caught wind of Subaru at all, presumably focussed on his work. It was hellishly fast, the moment he saw his target - a middle aged man in a ragged dark blue jacket - he was in front of him, all cool professionalism. Words Subaru couldn't make out were passed between the pair, and a low chuckle of nasty laughter punctured the quiet of the evening.

Subaru ran towards the two, trying desperately to save Seishirou's unknown target -

but he was too late.

With a final laugh, Seishirou murmured the words that would sharpen his hand, a technique passed down from Sakurazukamori to their successors for centuries, and plunged it through the man's chest.

Subaru felt sick. He had failed to save this person, failed to convince Seishirou, failed..!

Seishirou pulled his hand out, blood spattering the ground as the body dissolved into clouds of sakura petals, the Tree greedily swallowing the soul given to it.

He turned, having felt Subaru's presence just a moment too late. "You aren't helping your cause at all." He said dryly. "That's two murders you've seen I should kill you for." He raised an eyebrow when he realised Subaru was swaying on the spot, eyes dizzyingly wide.

Subaru felt the earth begin to move under him and he swayed, trying to keep his balance. So red... The blood on Seishirou-san's hand was so red...

He hardly noticed when he fell to the floor, the stinging of his knees barely registering as he shook with sobs.

He was forced to notice when strong arms gathered him up. Seishirou stood with a sigh that was half exasperation, half...something he would rather not try to name. "Subaru-kun..."

Subaru knew that it was wrong, knew that the man who was now cradling him so gently was a murderer with blood still on his hands, but for the moment, he ignored these things, and focused on drawing as much comfort out of that presence as he could.

Suddenly, Seishirou felt a burning need to explain himself to the trembling boy in his arms. "I had no choice, Subaru-kun." He muttered, furious that he was pandering to these urges. "Sakurazukamori must eliminate threats to Japan."

"Threats to Japan?" He choked out, around the sobs which were racking his frame.

"How was that man a threat to Japan? How could he have deserved to die?"

"As hypocritical as this is about to sound...he was a murderer. A child-killer. He covers his tracks too well to be convicted by a normal trial. It is these sorts of people for which the government call on the Sakurazukamori."

"A child-killer?" Subaru questioned, feeling numb. If the government was the one who controlled the Sakurazukamori, did this mean that they condoned all of his killings? But, that couldn't be! What about that little girl, on the day they had first met?

What could a child have done, to deserve death?

"Yes. I belive you met the mother of one of the children he abducted and killed." Seishirou commented. "He is suspected of killing over a dozen children, though he has been linked to many more disappearances."

"...Subaru-kun. I'm not...excusing myself. I know what I am, and now, so do you. But this is my birthright, and that is something you need to fully understand before claiming you could ever come to love me."

"Yes. I belive you met the mother of one of the children he abducted and killed." Seishirou commented. "He is suspected of killing over a dozen children, though he has been linked to many more disappearances."

"...Subaru-kun. I'm not...excusing myself. I know what I am, and now, so do you. But this is my birthright, and that is something you need to fully understand before claiming you could ever come to love me."

Subaru retched, the breakfast he had eaten hours earlier leaving his stomach, leaving him to continue trying to throw up when there was nothing there

The feeling was awful, and he shuddered as cramps seized his stomach.

Seishirou winced, and his arms tightened a little around the slender teenager. "Come on. Let's go home." His voice was low, and a little softer than it had been in the last few days.

He had to listen to Subaru sobbing quietly and hiccuping all the way there, and by the time they were back at the apartment he was ready to tear his hair out in frustration at the way it made him feel.

He shouldn't be feeling anything at all, for goodness' sake!

He sat Subaru down on the sofa and washed his hands slowly in the sink, cleaning the blood fastidiously. When he was finished, he returned to the lounge and crouched on the floor in front of where Subaru sat numbly on the sofa.

Subaru sat on the sofa, mulling it over, although he still felt as though he might be mildly in shock. If the Sakurazukamori killed, approved by the authorities, to save lives, then was arguing against it truly the best way?

Subaru had seen how much losing her child had affected that poor mother, and if removing one horrible man from the world meant that more children were able to live, then that was alright, wasn't it?

He tried desperately to reason the whole thing out to himself in such a way that Seishirou-san wasn't the bad guy, and found it to me much easier than he expected. This was still the man he loved, regardless of his job, and perhaps, in cases where the only alternative was to let a murderer go free and kill again, perhaps this truly was the best course of action.

Seishirou tried to remember how his other self had offered comfort, and warily reached out a hand to run through Subaru's hair. Shaking himself free of silly worries about what and where he was going with this, he sat beside Subaru and pulled him into his arms. He was trying not to act too much like the vet, in case Subaru got his hopes up. But the boy needed...something. It was just a something Seishirou wasn't entirely sure he could give.

Subaru leaned into Seishirou-san's arms, drawing a huge amount of comfort from the fact that the man was trying, perhaps more than he was drawing from the actual embrace. That Seishirou-san would even bother to try to comfort him was enough for Subaru to stop sobbing, reduced to hiccups and sniffles. Subaru relaxed further into the arms around him, and eventually cried himself to sleep, still secure in Seishirou's grasp.

-When he woke up again, he was alone. He had, however, been changed into his pyjamas and moved to the bed while he was asleep. Sunlight streamed through the open window, and fresh air breezed through the room.

The clock read 10:08, and it took only a few moments for Subaru to realise that Seishirou was cooking something, if the smells and sounds coming from the kitchen were anything to go by. Seishirou never cooked. He ordered take out or went out to eat.

Subaru roused himself out of bed, his grumbling stomach reminding him that he hadn't eaten for most of the last day, since breakfast in fact, and he had thrown that up last night. He went towards the kitchen, by now familiar enough with Seishirou's apartment to be able to navigate successfully while rubbing his eyes.

Seishirou glanced over. He was cooking breakfast, also aware of Subaru's lack of food intake. He sniffed. "You're too thin." He admonished gruffly, realising too late that he came across as concerned.

He followed the heavenly aroma into the kitchen, where Seishirou-san, sans apron, was cooking what appeared to be pancakes. Delicious ones too, going from the smell. Subaru's mouth watered, already imagining biting into one of the fluffy, sweet circles of goodness.

It took a long time for Seishirou to actually glance down at him. "...Are you alright?"

"I... I think I will be." Subaru murmured between a bite of his pancakes and a sip of tea.

He was still paler than usual, but some of the colour had returned to his cheeks, and his eyes no longer looked so hollow, merely far away.

"I'm not much of a cook." The assassin admitted in a low voice. "But you needed something, and there wasn't much in the fridge."

A hand went to Subaru's forehead to check his temperature. Seishirou had given up on concealing the concern for the time being. At least until Subaru was on his feet again. Then he could try and pretend it never happened. Or warn Subaru not to look too much into it.

Subaru accepted both the pancakes and the worry like a wilting flower accepted sunlight, his entire self seeming to perk up at the reminder that the man he loved was somewhere under the harsh exterior.

He continued to eat with renewed gusto, the pancakes tasting even better than they had before. It seemed that Seishirou excelled at everything he did, including cooking.

Seishirou watched him, idly wondering if this was what his life might be like. With a start, he shook the thought away. Sakurazukamori. No ties, no complications. Just him, the Tree, and his job.

"Take the day off. We'll go out somewhere."

Except his mouth seemed to be acting before his brain. He felt like thudding his head against the table.

"Eh?" Subaru responded, completely shocked. Was - was Seishirou-san trying to make him feel better?

Seishirou nodded slowly. "Maybe...the aquarium?" He asked, tilting Subaru's head up to catch his gaze.

"Yes, please!" Subaru piped up, stunned that Seishirou-san was proposing what seemed to be a date, but trhilled at the chance to go out with the real Seishirou-san. "How about the new one in Shinjuku?"

A nod, and Seishirou stood up. "If you wash up, I'll get the coats."

Subaru rose and quickly washed off the breakfast plates, leaving them on the drainer to dry, then ran out to the hallway, where Seishirou was waiting with his coat, a happy yellow number that Hokuto had made him, with a sunflower motif.

Seishirou said very little on the trip to the aquarium, though he bought everything himself, from the train tickets to the entrance fee. He wanted Subaru to relax a little, he'd had a nasty shock yesterday.

Though he wasn't sure quite why he was so worried.

Subaru forgot his anxiety when they entered the aquarium and were immediately faced with a penguin exibit. "Seishirou, look!" He grabbed the older man's sleeve and tugged ec

excitedly, "Penguins!"

Seishirou did a double take, bemusedly allowing Subaru to tug him over to the penguins. The boy's sudden sunny disposition, which was as bright as his clothing, had thrown him once again. What was so exciting about the aquarium, anyway?

Subaru skidded to a stop beside the penguin enclosure, leaning over the railings to get a better look. "Look, that one's an emperor penguin, and that one there's a..." He trailed off at Seishirou's facial expression, somewhere between fondness and bemusement.

Seishirou thrust his hands into his pockets when Subaru turned around, the wind catching his girlish hair and sending it about his face. Taking a step closer, he hummed. "I've thought of something I didn't lie about."

"You are very beautiful."

Subaru flushed a deep red, as always,

but this time the blush seemed to be of pleasure, not embarrassment, and he didn't refute the claim, only said "T-thank you!" in the calmest voice he could manage. That was, not very.

Seishirou moved to stand alongside him, leaning on the railings. "You like them, don't you? The penguins."

"Yes! They're so cheerful-looking, I feel more cheerful just seeing them!" Subaru responded, his enjoyment evident in the tone of his voice and the way his eyes sparkled.

"How can you act this way around me?" Genuine curiosity. "After I hurt you...? Knowing I could hurt you again?"

"Seishirou, I love you. My heart is yours, do what you will with it." Subaru responded with surprising frankness, opening himself up completely to the older man.

Seishirou froze, thrown once again. DO what he will with it? Well. If Subaru was going to open himself so completely...why not play his game?

"As you wish." He leant forward, cupping Subaru's face in his hands, and kissed him soundly on the lips.

Subaru was shocked for a moment, but rapidly found himself returning the kiss with inexperienced fervour. He was kissing Seishirou, which was more than he had ever hoped for! This was...

Seishirou indulged for a few moments, then bit down on Subaru's lower lip, viciously. "Just don't forget you're playing with a viper, not a kitten." He hissed against the other's petal-soft mouth.

"I'm not playing, Seishirou," Subaru reminded him. "I'm perfectly serious."

Seishirou smirked, so very close to his face. He licked the blood from Subaru's lip. "But it's a game, Subaru-kun. If you're not playing, you're losing"

"I suppose that, when you put it that way," Subaru licked the remainder of the blood from his own lip, "I'm playing for keeps "

Seishirou leant back away from the boy. "You know...I think I like this new you. You have a little...spine."

"But if you can keep up, by all means continue." The assassin's smile was pleasant, but a little...feral.

With a laugh, Seishirou turned to walk away.

Subaru reached out quickly, and snatched Seishirou's hand out of the air, then clasped it tightly with his own. He blushed a bright red, but was able to ignore it, as well as the murmurs from the crowd, so caught up in the simple contact of skin on skin that the rest of the world seemed to vanish.

Seishirou was keenly aware of the stares of the people around them, aware, but not bothered. He pulled Subaru close, squeezing his hand and staring down at him. He was certain, then. There was no hesitation, no fear in Subaru's gaze. He was going to throw himself into this with everything he had. They walked slowly, and Seishirou allowed Subaru to hold his hand, though it was making him uncomfortable .But the reason why evaded him.

Subaru ran in from the front door to the bathroom, and inspected his lip in the mirror. He gingerly prodded it, wincing when a spike of pain ran through him at the motion. There was a small cut, still sluggishly bleeding but beginning to close, from where Seishirou had bitten his lip.

Something inside Subaru thrilled at being marked in such a manner, but most of him was busy freaking out that he had walked around all day looking as though he had lost a fight. What had Seishirou-san been thinking?

Seishirou leant on the bathroom door frame, one eyebrow elegantly raised. He eyed Subaru's reflection dispassionately. At least until Subaru caught his gaze, and then he blinked, startled by the emotions swimming in emerald eyes.

Subaru saw Seishirou staring out of the corner of his eye, and twisted his head so he could see him properly. He felt a sudden burst of gratefulness, that he had ever met Seishirou, and that they were able to have another year together. He could imagine what life would be like had they not managed to negotiate another year, Hokuto's heartbreak, and of course, him being dead.

The kid didn't get it. All he saw was the vet, and that had to change, or Subaru would never get the message. Seishirou stalked forward, grabbing a fistful of the boy's bright yellow collar and jerking him close. "You still see him, don't you?"

"The Seishirou-san you pretended to be would never have bitten my lip." Subaru replied, "He isn't the one I'm thinking of when I look at this." He indicated to the cut on his lip. "Really." The man intoned dryly. He pinned Subaru against the cold tile of the bathroom wall, crowding him against it and towering over him. He leant down and smirked against the younger's neck. "What else would this Seishirou-san do?" He purred. "He'd kiss me again, right here, right now." Subaru said, a challenge lurking in his eyes. If he could get another kiss! "Really? Does the Sakurazukamori value you that much?" Seishirou goaded, a huff of laughter tickling Subaru's ear. A single amber eye caught Subaru's challenging gaze, and he pressed their lips together, nipping at the boy's lips to force them apart. It was experienced, and rough. Subaru kissed back, unexperienced but wanting, and when the kiss ended he said, "Maybe, but you'd have to ask him yourself."

A deep chuckle. "Mouthy today, aren't you?" A spark of...something...flared in his eyes, and he pressed the younger back against the wall with his body. "Poor little Subaru-kun. You're in so far over your head you don't even know you're drowning." He trailed his lips down Subaru's jawline, pausing at his throat to catch pale skin between his teeth. His fingers trapped Subaru's hands at his sides, tracing the marks he'd left when Subaru was a child. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you rather liked being marked as mine." He laughed, and the nip became a full-on bite to the side of Subaru's neck. Subaru moaned at the sucking pressure on his neck, and pushed further into it, trying to get more of that wonderful sensation. He grasped Seishirou's shoulders as though they were the only thing keeping him from falling, which wasn't too far from the truth.

A little surprised by the reaction, Seishirou's hand tightened on Subaru's wrist, allowing himself to indulge as he pinned both slender arms above the boy's head. His moral compass might have been skewed, but at no point during the year he had 'courted' the young Sumeragi had he ever entertained the thought of forcing himself on him. But why not play, when Subaru was clearly not going to move to stop him? Seishirou's tastes were as diverse as his moods, but Subaru surpassed every beauty he'd ever screwed before, the still-childish not-quite naivety was as intoxicating as it had been when he was a child.

Seishirou was unyielding. The hand that was not pinning Subaru's wrists to the wall had snuck it's way up under the boy's shirt and was playing with every square inch of hidden skin it could reach, sharp, manicured nails scratching lightly. And still, he attacked the Sumeragi's neck.

Subaru panicked. He loved Seishirou-san, but this was not what he wanted! He wanted to be with someone who loved him, not someone who saw him as an object! He wrenched himself from Seishirou's grasp desperately and ran towards the door, with every intention of exiting.

He crouched beside the struggling Sumeragi, still twisting that fragile little wrist. His other hand stroked Subaru's cheek in a faked gesture of affection.

Subaru tried in vain to escape from the harsh hand holding him in place, but to no avail. Surely, Seishirou-san wouldn't - didn't mean to...

It was the fear in Subaru's eyes that finally made him let go. Seishirou had seen the boy tired, and upset, and devastated, but he'd never seen him look so frightened. He should be pleased Subaru was afraid of him, he reflected when he released the younger onmyouji's arm, yet the only thing he could say for sure that he felt was...hollow.

Subaru yanked his arm out of Seishirou's sunndely loose grasp and ran for the door again, breath stinging his lungs as he inhaled and exhaled sharply. He felt as though he was on the edge of a panic attack, and knew he had to get out of there before it hit.

Hokuto found him on her doorstep half an hour later, cradling his arm as though it pained him to move it, wrists and neck bruised and tears streaking his face. "Subaru!" And Seishirou leant against the doorframe, pressing a hand to his forehead and cursing colourfully into the silence of his empty apartment.

Seishirou paced his apartment, cursing the Sumeragi family's existence. Everything would be fine without Subaru. And Hokuto, meddling little brat that she was. He would be able to get on with his life and he certainly wouldn't be pacing like this, actually WORRYING about another person. Who was Subaru to make him worry like this? Concern just...wasn't on his radar. And actually caring what had become of the frightened teenager wasn't on his radar of emotions, either. He could still hear his mother laughing at him, and the words 'I told you so' echoing in his head. "Yes...well, it's just him." He ground out into the silence of the flat. Great. Now he was talking to a woman who had been dead for ten years. Subaru sobbed into Hokuto's comforting arms as he explained what had happened. In as few words and with as little detail as possible, of course, one doesn't go around tanking about intimate details like this with one's sister! Hokuto looked and felt ready to commit murder. She held her baby brother close and rocked him in the safety of her apartment, spelling the door locked, for all the good it would do them if Seishirou did decide to come bursting in. Well. She'd have her sharpest kitchen knife ready for when he did. And she was still debating on the best place to put it, too. She offered words of quiet comfort, running her hand through Subaru's hair and hushing him. "Sleep here tonight, if you like." Subaru quickly accepted. Too quickly, if the worried look on Hokuto's face was any indication. Still, she made up her bed, insisting that she would take the sofa to guard incase that idiot came through, and Subaru was asleep and dreaming in minutes. Which was where Seishirou found him. He didn't want to admit he was afraid of facing Hokuto. He wasn't. But she was wicked with a knife, and he wanted to keep all of his parts intact, for the time being. He waited for the twitchy Sumeragi to notice as his dreamscape, something standard involving Hokuto as a toddler and penguins, melted into muted grey and black. Cherry blossom floated around the younger boy's head, and Seishirou leant back against the tree, trying and failing to pretend he wasn't nervous. Tch. Nervous. Seishirou didn't know the meaning of the word. Subaru started as his dream, a very nice dream of a trip to the zoo Hokuto had gone with him to see in Kyoto, vanished. As an onmyouji, Subaru often had lucid dreams, but this one felt... Different... "You know, I'm not usually so good at entering dreams. That would be the area of the dreamseers. But I suppose a well-crafted illusion is basically the same thing." Subaru jumped as the voice, appearing to come out of nowhere, echoed through his now-blank dreamscape. Was that Seishirou-san, or just another dream? Subaru decided to treat it as though it were real, just in case it was. "Seishirou-san, what are you doing here?" "I have been asking myself the same question since I wove the spell." Seishirou dissolved into view in a shower of cherry blossom. His eyes ran over the boy's bruised neck, the handprints on his wrists. There was...satisfaction, certainly, those marks were his, and his alone. There was also remorse, remorse Seishirou simply didn't know what to do with. Subaru saw his eyes moving across his body, on which the bruises were clearly visible, and he moved as though to hide them. "Don't." Seishirou said sharply. The marks on Subaru's hands flared possessively. The man shook his head and bared his teeth, not knowing what to say or what to think. Subaru was unravelling him, had been since they'd first met all those years ago under the tree. "I'm sorry." The words were quiet, and soft, and slightly surprised, as though he'd shocked himself by letting them pass his lips. "I went too far, even the Sakurazukamori would not usually act so. I don't know what I was trying to do. Warn you off? Maybe. Convince you to leave and not come back?" "Nothing could do that." Subaru responded as though oblivious to the effect his words were having. "I love you, you know. Nothing you could do could convince me to leave your side." "Stop it!" For the first time, Seishirou's voice was neither the Sakurazukamori's deadpan tone, nor the vet's lighthearted laughter. It was wild, and desperate and unsure. "You foolish, obstinate, frustrating...child!" "Stop what, loving you?" Subaru shouted back. "I don't think I could, even if I wanted to!" "Stop TALKING!" Seishirou paced, running a hand through his hair and scowling. Subaru had never seen the other man lose his cool like this. Usually, Seishirou was the epitome of composure, but now his emotions were on show for anyone to see. Subaru felt both terrified at the look in his eyes, and exhilerated that the one stirring up all these feelings and forcing them to the surface was him. "MAKE ME!" He yelled. Seishirou spun around to face him, eyes wild with...something that again, wasn't the Sakurazukamori's blank gaze, not was it the vet's bland affection. It was something deeper, something that Subaru knew instinctively was solely Seishirou. He crossed the dreamscape in a few short strides and yanked Subaru to him so fast the boy crashed into his chest.

Moments later, he was kissing him desperately, trying to find some sort of anchor for the onslaught of emotions he was - shouldn't be - feeling. Subaru instinctively gentled the kiss, turning it from an assault to their mouths working together. He moaned into the other man's lips, loving the slightly chapped feel, and the hint of stubble from where Seishirou had neglected to shave.Seishirou's arms were shaking, ever so slightly, and his hands tightened instinctively. He allowed Subaru to set the pace this time, unwilling to frighten him. Suddenly, he didn't want Subaru to let go. Alarming, frustrating, ultimately comforting. In an inconvenient sort of way. When he pulled away, his eyes were full of confusion. "I really don't understand how you don't hate me." He muttered. "I make an appalling choice of partner."

"You sacrificed your eye for me, and you were always there when I needed you, in one form or another. I feel most alive when I'm with you. What's to misunderstand?" The problem was, the words made sense. Seishirou voiced this thought quietly, still holding the yougner onmyouji tightly in his arms. "Of course they do. I love you, remember?" Subaru voiced with certainty. "Subaru-kun..." Seishirou stared at him for a long moment. "I lost." He shook his head, admitting it both to the boy before him, and to himself. "Damnit, I lost a long time ago." "Lost?" Subaru looked puzzled, if still completely out of breath from the kiss. "Lost what?" Seishirou couldn't help it, he laughed. "What do you think? I lost the bet. That stupid, stupid bet, I lost before I'd even started, don't you undestand? I shouldn't have made it at all, even back then, it was an easy way out, a way I could avoid killing you for daring to catch the Sakurazukamori at work..." "And once I saw you, tripping over your own feet running after the shikigami on the station platform...I lost all over again. I just didn't want to admit it." Suabru began to beam, the smile breaking out on his face. "Seishirou, do you really mean..?" Seishirou pulled him backwards, and the dreamscape vanished as the pair tumbled back onto Hokuto's bed, Subaru half sprawled atop the older man, Seishirou's arms looped about his waist. "that's the trouble with being a liar." The assassin lamented. "No-one quite believes you when you're telling the truth." A spark of humour in a single golden eye. "I believe you," Subaru rebutted. "I just have to be sure. Please, say the words!" He begged, uncaring of how desperate it might make him sound. Seishirou pulled him close, pressing his lips to Subaru's forehead. "I love you." Subaru started crying, the tears trickling down past his smile, so wide it hurt. "I love you too!" He nuzzled small kisses into Seishirou's neck, pecking every patch of skin his lips could reach, starting on the underside of his chin once he deemed the neck completely covered.

Seishirou let Subaru lay sprawled on top of him for a few more moments, before rolling them over to pin the younger to the bed and kiss his neck, lavishing all the affection he could on a boy who refused to give up on him.

Subaru clutched him as close as he could, enjoying the full-body contact with everything in him, before pushing Seishirou far away enough to be able to reach his lips. This time, when Seishirou bit at soft lips, it was gentle and persuasive rather than demanding and insistent. Fingers ran through soft black hair, and traced lines down the pale skin of Subaru's neck and collarbone. Subaru deepened the kiss willingly, one hand in Seishirou's collar, holding him close, the other around his waist. Seishirou groaned - actually groaned, and slid one arm around and under Subaru in a possessive embrace. Seconds later, an embarrassed squeal echoed around the bedroom. "Subaru! Sei-chan!" Hokuto was blushing for the first time ever, face bright pink, mouth slightly open in surprise. "H-Hokuto-chan! This... I.. We... Why didn't you knock first?" "Well-I-didn't-think-you-wouldn't-be-alone!" Hokuto shrieked, still unwilling to cover her eyes. At least both of them were still fully dressed, though somehow she doubted it would have stayed that way for long had she not interrupted. Seishirou glanced over at her, shooting her his best deadpan, unamused look. Hokuto face faulted. "I...guess...you made up..." "Do you mind?" Seishirou muttered. "I'm trying to seduce your little brother." Hokuto choked on her own tongue. "Ahh...right...I...um...HOLD ON! THIS IS MY BEDROOM!" She shrieked. "Out! You're not doing...THAT...on my bed!" She squirmed with embarrassment.