The scent of cigarette smoke was barely noticeable in the room anymore, but its subtle tang still managed to sharpen Subaruís craving. It was yet another irritation on top of his other irritations. Well, irritation wasnít exactly the word to describe it.
Subaru, seated on the edge of the bed like he had been doing since Hokuto had left the two men to their own devices, covered his face with his hands and shook his head. How could he have told Seishirou that he . . . how could he have said that to Seishirou? Subaru had ever reason to feel the exact opposite Ė Hokutoís murder, the psychological destruction of a boyís fragile mind, the endless lies, and more. There were so many reasons to hate him.
And yet . . .
Subaru had said it. Of his own free will. Granted he had been drunk, and hadnít been thinking clearly -
- hadnít been thinking clearly enough to hide what his heart felt.
Subaru took in a deep breath in an attempt to calm his rapid pulse with only small success. Opening his fingers slightly, he peered towards the back of the red sofa and the back of the man seated there.
Seishirou hadnít moved for the past hour or so. He sat there, neither talking nor acknowledging Subaruís presence, staring at the blank television screen with an introspective expression on his handsome features. What subject the Sakurazukamori was pondering so intently Subaru didnít have any idea.
There were the remains of a dead cigarette in the ashtray next to the sofa, its wispy fragments cold but still with enough life to tantalise Subaru with its smell. The onmyoujiís hungry eyes locked onto the packet of cigarettes beside the tray, one slim cylinder just visible. His fingers itched. Seishirou either didnít see him or didnít care, lost as he was in his own thoughts.
He shouldnít. He really shouldnít. But his nerves were going to tear themselves to pieces worrying about what he had said to Seishirou. With sudden decision, Subaru got up and silently crossed the room to the side table by the sofa. Carefully he reached for the box. His hand closed around it . . .
A hand closed on top of his.
Subaruís gaze jerked from the packet, now covered by his and Seishirouís hands, to the intent predator eyes of the Sakurazukamori.
"Itís considered polite to ask before taking something," Seishirou said in that deliberately precise tone of his. He didnít move his hand.
The onmyoujiís green eyes narrowed. "You looked as if you didnít want to be disturbed."
Seishirou smiled, but it wasnít friendly. "You are not a disturbance, Subaru-kun." Drawing long fingers around Subaruís hand, he caressed the flesh of the palm softly.
Subaruís mouth tightened into a thin line and he jerked his hand away, using the other to grab the last cigarette before Seishirou could reach for it. Turning his back on the Sakurazukamori, he returned to his seat on the bed.
Unfortunately, Seishirou didnít look as if he was going to let the matter pass, instead rising and following him. "Did it ever occur to you that I might have wanted the last one?" he asked, looking down at Subaru who had the cigarette between his lips and a lighter in his fingers.
The Sumeragi ignored the man in the black suit standing above him. "Youíve never concerned yourself with what I want." Deftly, he flicked a small flame into life and raised it to the end of the cigarette. It ignited and Subaru took in a welcome drag of its soothing smoke.
Seishirou watched him for a moment or two. Then in one swift move, he plucked the cigarette from Subaruís lips and raised it to his own. Immediately the Sumeragi leapt up with an angry protest. Seishirou ignored him, expelling smoke that twirled in a thin grey ribbon to the ceiling.
"So what do you want, Subaru-kun?" Seishirou asked.
Subaru stopped. He stared at Seishirou who stood half turned, his left eye watching the younger man closely as he held the object of contention between two fingers.
The Sumeragiís face darkened. "Right now, all I want is to be able to smoke in peace!"
To his annoyance, Seishirou merely took another drag on the cigarette. "Itís bad for your health you know," the Sakurazukamori said mildly.
Perhaps not unexpectedly, the onmyouji lunged and tried to grab Seishirouís wrist. Without blinking, the Sakurazukamori sidestepped and caught the upper half or Subaruís arm and used his momentum to swing the smaller man around and send him into an uncontrolled dive at the bed. Subaru had no opportunity to regain control and his legs crashed into the side of the bed, causing the upper part of his body to sprawl in a most undignified manner over the blood red sheets while he knelt on the floor.
Seishirou brought the cigarette to his lips again. Then as Subaru turned around and stood up, he strode forward and roughly pushed the onmyouji onto his back. Breathing hard, Subaru raised himself slightly on the bedís surface, resting most of his weight on his elbows as he glared at the other man.
"What do you want?" repeated Seishirou. "To kill me?" His mismatched eyes turned mocking. "No. I donít think so, not after that touching little confession last night."
Subaru refused to answer.
"So what is it that you want?" mused Seishirou softly, watching the quivering form of the onmyouji. The cigarette had burned almost completely, and with practised ease, the assassin flicked the butt through the open door of the bathroom onto the tiles. Then he turned back to the onmyouji and suddenly smirked.
"Do you want me?"
The glare Subaru gave was enough to burn holes in the wall. The glare turned into shock as Seishirou reached out and grabbed the front of Subaruís cream-coloured turtle-neck top and pulled him close. Caught completely by surprise, Subaru could do nothing except hold Seishirouís gaze without flinching.
The Sakurazukamori smiled. "If thatís what you want, I can help you," he whispered seductively, his predatorís smile on his face. Without breaking his hold over those emerald eyes, Seishirou lightly drew his fingers over Subaruís right leg, tracing a path from his knee to the inside of his thigh. The touch was evident even through the smooth material of the black pants. Subaru shivered.
Seishirou continued his ministrations, loosening his grip on the cloth of Subaruís top and running his wandering fingers to where it was tucked into his pants. When he began to gently loosen the clothing, Subaru regained control of his wits. The Sumeragi brought his foot onto Seishirouís chest and pushed, sending the Sakurazukamori stumbling backwards. Before the assassin could recover, Subaru rolled off the bed. He stood there breathing deeply as the Sakurazukamori turned towards him.
"Donít you want to play, Subaru dear?" asked the Sakurazukamori, mockingly stressing the Ďdearí.
"Donít call me that," hissed Subaru.
The eyes of the assassin, one cloudy white the other honey-gold, hardened, staring at Subaru with a cold flame. "Our bet isnít over yet. I still have to kill you," the Sakurazukamori said softly. "After all, you are mine."
Subaru blinked. The emphasis of the word Ďmineí, his ear catching what could even be emotion in the simple, monosyllabic term Ė could this be what Hokuto had meant when she hinted that Seishirou wasnít so apathetic as Subaru thought?
Too late, he realised he had let himself be distracted. He barely had time to register Seishirou lunging towards him before the assassin reached out. Subaru desperately stepped to one side and the other missed, but just as he passed by, Seishirou spun on the balls of his feet and kicked Subaruís legs out from under him. The onmyouji tumbled to the floor, but managed to land on his hands and somersaulted to his feet.
The Sakurazukamori wasnít about to let him go. He strode forward as the other stood, placed one hand on each of Subaruís shoulders and applied a torque so the smaller man fell backwards. Subaru didnít hit the floor though, but rather and more alarmingly, fell into Seishirouís arms.
The elder man smirked. "Now this is more like it," he said satisfactorily. He raised his free hand and brought it to Subaruís throat. Subaru snarled and elbowed Seishirou in the stomach. The assassin doubled over and let go of Subaru, who landed on the floor in a controlled fall, and followed up his advantage by rolling and knocking Seishirou to the floor.
Subaru got to his feet quickly, but didnít realise how fast the assassin had recovered. Before Subaru could turn around, Seishirouís arm was around his neck, gripping him in a stranglehold against Seishirouís chest.
"That wasnít very nice, Subaru-kun," Seishirou whispered into his ear, as Subaru tried to pull Seishirouís arm away. The onmyoujiís exertions only seemed to amuse him, and he gripped tighter. With no real options left, Subaru bit Seishirouís forearm through the black suit. The stranglehold was suddenly loosened and Subaru was freed.
He could see that Seishirou was getting annoyed, and an annoyed Sakurazukamori was never a good thing for oneís health. But Subaru didnít care. It was his chance to attack and he did, grabbing the perfectly pressed black tie and pulling back it so that it cut into the assassinís throat. It was a trick that probably would have worked on a normal man, but that description certainly didnít apply to Seishirou. Ignoring the sudden lack of air, the assassin reached behind and grasped Subaruís arm, flipping the smaller man over his back and onto the floor.
Subaru fought for breath as the wind was knocked out of him, then quickly rolled to his right into the pile of cushions as he caught sight of Seishirouís hand extended like a knife coming down. It slammed into the floor where his throat had been. Frantically Subaru grabbed a pillow and threw it into Seishirouís face, hoping to buy time to ready an attack. His luck held and Seishirou, blinded for a fatal second, was sent towards the floor with a hard and painful thump as Subaru tackled him to the ground. However Seishirou used Subaruís momentum to roll over so that it was he who ended up on top, his knee pressing into Subaruís back. The Sakurazukamori gripped Subaruís arm and twisted it.
Subaru gasped in pain.
Seishirou smiled. "Do you remember what it felt like when I broke your arm, Subaru-kun?" he asked, voice deadly calm.
Still smiling, the Sakurazukamori exerted a little more pressure on the onmyoujiís limb. Subaru screamed.
"If you donít," the assassin continued, "let me remind you."
Suddenly, without any warning whatsoever, Seishirou was blown a meter or so backwards. He instinctively raised an arm to protect his eyes from the bright light that was surrounding the onmyouji. When he lowered it, he saw Subaru standing straight in the middle of the room, hands clasped before his face, index fingers extended and pressed together.
Seishirou felt something on his face. Reaching up, he found blood dripping from a cut below his right eye. The eye narrowed. There was a strangely alien sensation filling him. A tightness in his chest, a heat diffusing over his face . . .
For the first time in his life, Seishirou experienced anger.
"So thatís how you want to play."
Subaru just looked at him defiantly.
"You canít play with me. Iím not your toy."
Seishirou allowed a smile to spread across his face as he brought his own hand up in front of his face, the first two fingers extended. "Toy or not, I can still play with you."
The remark had the effect of oil thrown on fire. Subaruís green eyes flared and he nearly spat the words of his spell. The air around Seishirou seemed to gather and condense into a solid dome form of sparkling energy trapping the Sakurazukamori as it began to constrict. The Sakurazukamori merely shook his head at Subaru, his finger tracing a glowing character in the air.
"You have to do better than that, Subaru-kun," he admonished. His finger completed the last stroke and the Sumeragiís spell shattered. The backlash was apparent as the younger man staggered on his feet.
Seishirou smiled. A gathering of power worked its way to his hands expressed in a glowing nimbus, growing brighter and brighter. Almost lazily, he lifted his hand and pointed at Subaru. A blast of pure power leapt from his fingers and streaked towards Subaru Ė
- but the onmyouji wasnít there. Instead, his attack merely impacted on the wall. It left no mark on its surface, and Seishirou distantly remembered Hokuto saying that they couldnít affect her creation with their power. Whether the rule applied to Subaru he wasnít so sure.
He was about to find out. From his blind side, the Sumeragi onmyouji dashed out at him. He brought his hand onto Seishirouís arm, narrowly missing as the Sakurazukamori moved away. Seishirou could feel the tingling of power from the miss. If it had impacted he would have been in trouble.
But it hadnít. Seishirou wasnít the Sakurazukamori for nothing. Turning around to face the onmyouji he sent a powerful surge of energy in the general direction of Subaru. Not expecting it to hit, the Sakurazukamori instead slowly raised an illusion around himself and easily moved backward. With a smirk, Seishirou raised his arms to catch the Sumeragi as he dashed by to dodge the blast.
Smoothly Seishirou's hand sneaked out and with a flick of his wrist, sent out a blast of power into Subaru's chest. The green eyes widened as Subaru realized his mistake. With no possible way to escape Subaru hastily raised a protective spell. Even with the spellís buffering effect Subaru was sent across the room and into the wall where he crumpled to the floor.
With a slow measured pace Seishirou made his way across the room toward the silent form sprawled over the carpet. A hand moved to tilt the onmyouji's head up.
"Subaru-kun, can't you remember I excel at illusions?" chided the assassin softly. He drew a finger down Subaruís cheek where a bruise was already beginning to show.
As far as Subaru was concerned, this was too much. In a berserk rage, the Sumeragi leapt off the floor, pushing Seishirou to the ground, sat on him, and wrapped his long fingers around the Sakurazukamoriís neck. The assassin was taken aback at Subaruís ferocity, but though his eyes were wide with surprise, they showed no other emotion. Rather, they seemed amused at the younger manís attempts to throttle the life out of him. Infuriated beyond reason, Subaru leaned his entire weight into his hold on Seishirouís neck, an action made difficult by Seishirouís hand pushing against his chest. He didnít even notice the hair-raising tingle accompanying the contact that warned of magic . . .
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TWO DOING?!" screeched an ear-piercing voice.
The two men froze. Subaruís grip on Seishirouís throat loosened Ė only slightly.
Hokuto stood glaring down at them, the reds and blacks of her clothes not relieving Subaru in any way. She was angry as he had never seen her before. If she could, Hokuto probably would have been shooting fireballs from her eyes to burn the two men to a crisp right there and then.
"I leave you two alone and the first thing you do is go back to killing each other!" Hokuto ranted. Meanwhile Subaru let go of Seishirou and moved away, fire still smoldering in his eyes. Only then did he realise that Seishirou had had his hand right over his heart, ready if need be, to force it through Subaruís body. Subaruís face darkened as he watched Seishirou stand up and slowly rearrange his rumpled clothes. The Sakurazukamori watched Subaru warily, his mismatched eyes cold and hard as ice.
Hokuto looked between the two. The tension in the air had not dissipated, if anything it had gotten worse. She could sense sparks flying between the two men as they glared at each other.
"Obviously you canít be trusted to be together," Hokuto said in a deadly voice. The two men ignored her, intent as they were on burning the other to death with their gaze.
Hokutoís emerald eyes flashed.
Subaru blinked as he stared at a wall that had suddenly appeared in front of him. On the other side, Seishirou did the same.
Hokuto stepped back and observed her handiwork. The bedroom was now partitioned into two rather uneven sections. On Seishirouís side was the sofa and wardrobe; on Subaruís was the bed and bathroom. In their respective rooms, there was no way the Sakurazukamori and the Sumeragi could make contact.
The spirit smiled thinly. Of course, being a ghost, she could make contact with them.
And it was about time that she had a long talk with Subaru and Seishirou about each other.
Return to Archive | next | previous