"Dream of Love"

By Asprosdracos


"And Every Living Thing that Could Dream Dreamed of Love"

- Neil Gaiman, The Sandman Volume II


The Coat is far too big for him.

Perhaps that is why he trips, the hem could have easily been caught under his slight, shuffling footfall, and he could have fallen.

A trip, a flaw in design, a fault of logistics.

Or perhaps he fell because he doesn't have anywhere else to go. Falling further, it appears, is his only option. A pale man in a coat too large in an apartment too empty for one person to try to fill.

Perhaps that's why he lived here. An empty apartment doesn't matter much to someone with an empty heart.

Perhaps that's why he lives here.


I wish I could cry. It would be so much - everything would be so much easier if I could cry.

I wanted to cry for you. I cried for you then - for so many /thens/ - when you broke my heart, when you broke her heart, when I broke your heart.

Now though, I can't do what came so easily before. Now matter whether I conjure your memory, every little detail and minute imperfection, recreate the feeling of what you were like. Whether I remember what through heart felt like when I finally had it, or what your blood smelt like. I created an image of you, something between what you were and what I wanted you to be: something that never was and something that could be.

But then again, maybe I shouldn't try to cry while watching myself in your mirror. That's part of the problem, you know; always being a reflection of you, even when I was in the throes of emotions you never felt. Strange how you can call yourself my shadow, my dark mirror. I've always thought it was the other way around. But now, I stare in the mirror and try to conjure your face, your scent, your memory.

It doesn't work and I see myself in the mirror and it pierces through the shroud of what I wish to see like a hand shaped as a sword.

Do you remember when Hokuto tried to fool you once into thinking that she and I were each other? How she dressed herself and me up in the most outrageous outfit she could invent? Do you bother remembering? It didn't work then, although I wonder sometimes if it would've had it been anyone but you. You always were better than me that way, I don't know who I am, and I wish you could tell me. I used to know, when I defined myself first as a reflection of her, and then as the opposite of you. But now you're both someplace I can't be.

I don't know who I see in the mirror because I see myself.

And I don't know who that is anymore. Standing on my own is hard, too hard. When she was gone, it hurt so much that it woke me up.

Now that you're gone, I want to sleep forever. If I can't be where you are, I'll do the next best thing, right?

Oh, I'm well aware exactly what you'd be saying to that, since you know how my logic works. Would you mind telling me how my logic works? I'd really like to know, because in my more lucid moments I realize I can't belong to you.

Can't belong to a dead man, now can I? Then I'm not yours anymore.

So, I can't belong to you. And after all these years, I can't belong to myself either.

I belong to no body. To no soul, no spirit, no mind. I am without anchor, and the rocks are sharp so far from shore, and it hurts to drift.

Staring at myself, I don't see you. There's the white, glassy orb as you had, but it's dead, reflective of all around it.

Staring at myself, I don't see her. My other eye is green but dead. A blasted sprig kept alive by careful gardeners.

Dead twice over, and I can't see anyone anymore.

I want to see you, to hold you, to touch you, to tell you what I couldn't - to tell you things that I wonder about now- wonder if they would've made a difference.

I wanted to die for you, from you. Even in death, I'd still be yours.

You didn't let me die. You kept me alive, and you left me alone. I wonder sometimes, how you managed to do the one thing that hurt me the most. Perhaps that really is your talent, and I wonder why I still love you despite it, or for it.

And a part of me hates you because I can't hate myself anymore. Hates you for taking away me choice, hates her for setting up the situation, hates everyone who contributed to the circumstance. The anger is brief and brilliant and quickly fades. The gray grief is eternal. It's swallowing me, and I can't stop it. It's stronger than me, stronger than anything.


He goes out today for the first time in several days. It is twilight, night only beginning to swallow the city. Shadows grow along the edges of buildings with the cold deliberation of hunting angels.

Hunting the dead, hunting the living, hunting the gods.

Strangely enough, he can't bring himself to care - about either Kamui. They want, everyone wants and he's tired of giving. He gave half his heart to her, and with her death she took it. He gave the rest to him, and with his death he'll never get any of his heart back.

He turned both away because he has nothing left to give. There's a hollow space where his heart used to be, and in the quiet moments when the crowd walks by and the world spins slowly around him it aches sullenly.

The fact that he has been standing in the middle of a crowded street only occurs to him when a child of a moderate age - somewhere in the indeterminable formative years - bumps into him, stumbling back and mumbling out a frantic, hurried apology before moving on, diving easily in and out of the flow of people.

He stars at the space where the boy has passed and watches the people fill it. He is incredibly tired then, barely able to lift his head, to keep his eyes open against the drag of energy around him, the pull of people with richer lives and hearts.

Gathering his strength, he turns and begins to move back to the apartment.


The hole in my chest throbs, a constant ache. In the first few hours in hurt so bad I couldn't breathe, couldn't think, words and thoughts and memories racing and surfacing like shadows in muddy water.

Now though, it's just there. It exists, as I do. It still hurts though, throbbing grimly in pulse with the rest of humanity's hopes and dreams. I suppose it makes a certain sort of sense that the remnants of what I've lost are in tune with what everyone has yet to lose.

I don't have hope. I don't have dreams anymore either. The only peaceful dreams I had I had in your arms.

Now, there are only nightmares.

Would you like to know one?

My heart was burning, except it couldn't, because it wasn't my heart, you took my heart. But the emptiness was burning, and the void was crying, voices reaching out and carrying across a great distance. I couldn't think for the pain, like hacking away at your soul with a dull knife.

Or a hand like a knife.

I looked down and saw there was a hand, your hand in my chest. You pulled it out slowly, and there was half my heart in your hand, and I remember thinking vaguely that I was glad I finally knew where it was all these years. That didn't make any sense either, because a part of me always knew where it was, even when I wouldn't listen. You moved your hand away from me and I felt the pain disappear then, except it didn't because the awful emptiness was so much worse. I looked and saw my hand in your heart, and you were still holding mine. And there was so much blood suddenly, as if we both had waited to bleed and had now decided.

You smiled at me then.

"I took yours, Subaru-kun. It's only fair that you take mine."

The blood ran down my hand and collected on the floor, spreading out from the two of us. You reached out to me then, and I couldn't help but close my eyes against the feel of your hand quietly on my hair as you took your heart from me.

"But I can't give it to you yet, Subaru-kun."

You were still smiling as you faded away into the shadows, holding my heart and safeguarding your own.

I woke up after that, and spent the morning hours staring out the window at the lengthening shadows of buildings and the reflections of walls of windows.

And not crying.


He is tired more often than he would care to admit. There is nothing wrong with him physically, other than the obvious problem of a sparseness that borders on malnourishment and now threatens to lean dangerously toward the latter.

Mentally he exists in his own prison; a hell constructed of self reprimands and doubts and lost chances.

Emotionally he should be fine. How could he be anything but? He doesn't have a heart.


It hurts all the time now. It never stops hurting, even when I try not to think of you. I'm so afraid I'll forget. I'd rather have the pain than that; rather have the pain of losing you than having lost everything.

But that's my logic, so Kami alone knows if it makes sense to anyone but you.

Perhaps even your Kamui doesn't understand me. I think what he knew of my wish confused him enough, although he'd never admit to it. He did have it wrong after all. There was a part of me that wanted to lose my eye because you had lost yours.

The rest of me just wanted to give it to you. It wanted to give you everything, even if it wasn't for real.

A present of myself, for you.

It's not to say that it's easy to get by with only one eye. I wonder sometimes how you managed, if it mattered.

I wonder if you staged it.

I wonder if you staged everything.

How much of this was a game to you? How much did you place for your initial bid? Did you ever raise it alone the way?

How high would you have raised it, if I had had the courage to ask without realizing I was asking?

Sometimes I realize halfway through these discussions that just about everything I'm saying applies to me as much as you. I suppose that's your fault.

You're a bad influence, Seishirou-san. What would Hokuto-chan say?

Still though, I wonder how much I bid without realizing it. I bid things I never knew I had, things I can never get back. You took them. You took everything.


He is moving now, away from the confines of the apartment. It would be freedom, but he is merely trading one cage for another and thus it is nothing at all.

On the other hand, unlike birds, small mammals and most of humanity, Subaru knew exactly the boundaries and character of his cage. He knew where it could be pressed and where it would not bend. He knew the nature of it as he knew the nature of himself.

Because of this knowledge, he knew something that was invaluable.

There was no key to this cage.

However, there was a lock, and it was toward this that Subaru now traveled. Reaching his destination, he sighed, an act that several passing pedestrians noticed and rather quickly forget.

Even at this time of year, Ueno Park really was beautiful.


At home I have a list of the things I'm going to do to you if you ever decide to get resurrected for some reason. Knowing you, you'd do it just to mess with me, but I digress.

I'm not going to mention several of the actions on the list, but one of them is to indeed give you a very well placed punch to the stomach or just about anywhere else.

The Tree whines.

Why did you never tell me the Tree whines? And if you tell me it's because I never asked, or because it never came up, I will kick you somewhere worse than just your stomach.

It does not whine in the sense I think of whining, or in the sense that anyone else thinks of it, but the constant phantom pains and migraines cannot be anything else.

The Tree whines, Seishirou-san.

Make it stop.


It is no surprise that the tree is always in full bloom, even though it has not been fed for quite some days now, for the blood of the Sakurazukamori is easily enough to sustain it for several days.

However, that does not stop the Tree from asking more to consume. It would consume more if it could.

It has taken his light, it has taken his love, it has taken his heart - first one half, and then the other. If he had anything left to take, it would take that as well.

It would take everything.

Sometimes, Subaru stands here. He stood here for a long time after the first day, only to retreat to his apartment and refuse the company of the Tree for several days.

He returns now, compelled by something different in the air, a hint of change on the breeze. Petals drift and embrace his cheek, and for one moment his eyes stare shocked, only to close with a terrible sadness, a darkness deeper than dried blood on white and a too large black coat.


A part of me doesn't want to accept why I came here. It's a harsh reality, a cruel reality, and nothing less than the truth.

I came to see you, but I have to do something first. And when I do, will you ell me again?

The first time the Tree proposed such a thing, in dreams and subtle intonations that wound their way through my mind, I immediately rejected it. How could I do anything else? How could I even think about such a thing?

But then again, how could I not?

You're a cruel man, you know, to tell me and then leave me, leave me alone again. You left me alone for so long, and then I found you, and then you left me alone again.

I'm tired of it.

I'm tired of being lonely, of having my heart torn out, of giving until there's nothing left to fucking give and then you leaving me alone, alone and empty.

I'm tired, and lonely.

And people do evil because really, they are lonely.

That didn't make sense before, but I understand that now.

I understand the blood on my left hand, the blood staining your coat - my coat - even darker. It all makes sense, how easy it was, the pain of killing, the weight of the small corpse on my hand.

I understand that her parents will probably wonder where she is, the frantic worry creating frantic searching after a few hours that stretch into weeks, months, years - until they accept the inevitable and grieve and live.

We all get over death, over pain, over loss.

It's nothing, nothing compared to being alone.


It is over quickly.

The Tree takes the blood, the corpse and the soul, a tortured cry half real and half imagined fading away as the Tree takes it prey, satisfied.

And then, it is finished.

Tired and alone, Subaru walks back to his apartment.


You're not there when I come home, but I expect that. You're always waiting for me; it's only fair I do the same once or twice.

So I wait.

I wait, and it gets late and I'm still alone.

I'm not worried though, you'll be here.

The lights of the city flicker on and off in the distance spaces around me. I'm watching them, looking at the changes of dark and light, when I feel your arm on my shoulder, and look up to see your eyes.

The white and amber watches my own mismatched set, and you smile, although you don't say anything. The hum of the tree, a feeling reminiscent of the air before a storm, reminds me of what is real, of the reality.

I cease to care.

You're here and I can feel you, and that's enough.

It's enough to wrap my arms around you, to arms your arms around me.

I don't care if I'm the Sakurazukamori.

I don't care if I do evil, as long as I'm not lonely.

I don't care if I'm crying, as long as I'm crying into your shirt.

As long as you're here, my heart is here. You have half of it, and half's enough.

Being with you, like this, it's enough.

You're enough.


Author's Notes

The two quoted lines in this are from the Sandman and Tokyo Babylon Book Seven.

I completely believe that Subaru would kill if it let him see Seishirou again, even if it only was an illusion.

The incident with Hokuto and dressing to look like the other never happened, to my knowledge, in the canon.

This is sort of a work in progress, since I'm still not completely happy with the ending. Later drafts may be released as I become more or less satisfied with it. [pic]