Be warned, diabetics should have insulin handy: this has triple the sugar with a side helping of mookiness.
Note: Takes part immediately after Home and Heart 6: Without you, I'm nothing. Minor spoilers for "The Matrix".
Pairing: Kamui + Subaru, Seishirou x Subaru, Keiichi + Kamui
Timeline: mid-X12, going waaay AU
Disclaimer: Not mine, Clamp's. Just playing.
Warning: Yaoi, angst, POV, OOC, extreme sap
Summary: Talks are conducted and decisions are reached
Dedicated to: Rachel and Danae
Special dedication for Best Nagging in an AIM Conversation: Isa
Home And Heart
Chapter 7: We can be heroes
After about a minute of watching Subaru's face change colors faster than a chameleon in a discotheque, Kamui took pity on him.
"What's for breakfast?" he asked.
"Orange pancakes," Seishirou said frostily. "I was planning for something different, but now that you're here-"
Subaru reached up and gently closed the older man's mouth. Then he moved away to make coffee.
Throughout breakfast, the conversation was surprisingly pleasant and light-hearted, concentrating on recent developments in Kamui's school.
"So he decided I've cut too many classes," the violet-eyed boy concluded his tale as he polished off the last of his pancakes. "Now I've got a stack of homework that's taller than I am."
"I do hope that you'll find the time to go out with us for ice-cream," Seishirou said. "I'm confident that you'll manage to do the work during the evening."
"Can't," Kamui shook his head. "I'm going to a movie with Segawa, he'll pick me up at six."
"Pick you up?" Seishirou raised an eyebrow. "You gave him this address?"
"Yeah. Was that wrong?"
Seishirou just sighed and went to get his and Subaru's coats. Meanwhile the younger onmyouji slipped into the seat beside Kamui's.
"Are you alright?" he asked. "I mean, with me and Seishirou-san?"
"You're happy," the boy said simply. "So I'm happy for you. And at least you two aren't arguing any more, so he'll stop needling me when you're off somewhere sulking."
Subaru frowned. "I don't sulk."
"Yes you do," Seishirou cut in, handing him his coat. "Try not to burn the house down, Kamui-chan."
Seishirou and Subaru were in a quandary. They looked at each other warily, preparing to make an important decision. Then they nodded in agreement.
"Mint and chocolate chip for me, and vanilla orange swirl for him," Seishirou said finally.
They accepted their ice cream in silence, still looking dazedly at the array of over fifty flavors. Surely there had not been such a booth the last time they took ice cream together in Ueno...
The vendor pointedly ignored them, popped another bubble of gum and cranked up the radio.
"Well it's plain to see you were meant for me, I'm your toy, your twentieth century boy..." a dead rockstar sang as the two onmyouji entered the sakura grove, finishing their ice cream. Otherwise there was silence until they stopped in front of the one tree they had been heading towards the whole time, though neither of them had acknowledged it aloud.
Subaru looked at the sakura calmly. It seemed to shiver, and then dropped the illusion of autumn slumber to bust into its eternal bloom. Petals fell around them, some resting in the green-eyed onmyouji's hair.
He relaxed minutely as Seishirou wrapped an arm around his shoulders. The older man was looking at him with vague amusement.
"You amaze me, Subaru-kun. First last night, and now you're standing here so calmly."
Subaru smiled wryly. "What I did last night... the only other choice would have been for one of us to die there. And I couldn't die without knowing if there wasn't anything more here." He half-turned and placed a hand over Seishirou's heart.
"The third option - would have been acceptable, as well as what you wished for."
"You mean for you to die-?" Green eyes narrowed. "So she was right."
Seishirou looked nonplussed as his companion approached the blooming sakura tree and placed a hand on the bark.
"I... see," the younger onmyouji said at length. Then he turned around and faced Seishirou. "Did you ever think about how I would feel? How could you think I could ever replace you?"
Seishirou looked at him earnestly. "I have great faith in your abilities, Subaru-kun. And then there was something someone once told me - that... I would be killed by the person I loved the most."
He had closed his eyes with those last words, so he only heard the gasp. Then he felt gentle fingers cupping his face, and looked into a pair of green eyes that seemed torn between fury and tenderness.
After a long moment, Subaru shook his head. "Did you ever plan on telling me?"
"I was thinking that telling you I loved you as I died in your arms would have been very romantic."
Subaru gaped for a second, then scowled. "You're an idiot, Seishirou-san."
He whirled around and came up to the sakura tree again.
"Thank you," he whispered. Then he leaned close, pressing his cheek against the bark as he seemed to listen to a silent voice.
Seishirou shot the tree a lethal look as he finally figured everything out. "Traitor."
Subaru laughed. "She just wanted to make sure she didn't end up with a totally deranged guardian."
"Well," the Sakurazukamori grinned, "I never thought I'd see you getting so friendly with a murderous tree."
"I learned that some things cannot be changed, only accepted as what their true nature is."
"So you change yourself instead. Very selfless, Subaru-kun."
Subaru shook his head. "No, it's selfish. I don't care about the rest of the world, only about what I want - what I wish for."
Seishirou came up to him and also placed a hand against the tree. "Then you have some strange wishes."
Subaru's snort sounded suspiciously like "like you can talk...". Then the onmyouji became serious.
"Do you think we can make it, Seishirou-san?"
"There's many factors, including the one we left at home to his homework. But there's only one way we can find out. We'll just have to try, Subaru-kun."
"Then let's try," the younger man agreed as he tilted his face up for a kiss.
Another bust of sound from the ice-cream vendor's booth penetrated the stillness of the grove.
Will keep us together
We could steal time
Just for one day
We can be heroes
For ever and ever
What do you say?"
"The first pathway requires no oxygen and is called anaerobic metabolism. This pathway is called glycolysis and it occurs in the cytoplasm outside the mitochondria..."
Kamui realized that he had been staring at the same page for the last ten minutes, and it still refused to make sense. He supposed he would just have to ask Keiichi to explain it this evening...
Hell, who was he kidding? The reason he was distracted had nothing to do with the difficulty of cellular metabolism schematics, and everything to do with what had happened the previous day and this morning. He had not lied to Subaru: he was happy that the two onmyouji had worked things out and proceeded from stand-offs in the living room to kissing in the kitchen. But that didn't stop him from being sad for himself.
Subaru... had been someone who understood him, who was just like him and yet so much wiser, who could be asked for advice. And then also someone who made his heart beat faster, in the faint hope that maybe one day... but that was over now.
Somehow, Subaru had heeded the advice he always gave Kamui - followed his own wish - and in doing so, was lost forever to the would-be world savior. Vaguely, Kamui wondered whether he'd ever find someone who cared for him the way the Sumeragi did for his nemesis. Kotori had, or at least had seemed so, before it all went so bad. Otherwise there was no-one. He supposed he could have cared like this for Fuuma, if the person Fuuma had become didn't kill the feeling at each and every opportunity.
And then there was the not-insignificant matter that he had been avoiding for the past week. He reached out with his mind and found the steady pulse of the kekkai around him, but could not stop remembering the image he had seen last spring. Tokyo in ruins, with only Tokyo Tower and the City Hall still standing.
And the gathered ranks of Dragons facing each other in the dust-filled air.
Whatever he did, that image was always waiting for him, engraved on the inside of his eyelids.
He hid his head in his hands and turned up the volume on his Discman in a futile attempt to drown out his thoughts. All he succeeded in was not hearing the key in the lock, or the footsteps on the stairs. He only noticed when someone slipped off his headphones.
"Now, what's so dreadful that you despair like this?" Seishirou asked amiably.
Kamui glared at him. "Biology. I don't get cellular metabolism."
"Don't worry, I can tell you everything." The older man seized the textbook. "This is very easy provided it's explained correctly. But go down to the kitchen, we bought cake ingredients on our way back and I want that cake ready for teatime."
Kamui blinked as he reluctantly followed the Sakurazukamori downstairs, forsaking his Discman. "How do you know Biology?"
"He's a certified veterinarian," Subaru said from where he was rummaging in the fridge. "Seishirou-san, we seem to be out of yeast."
"Have we got any yogurt?"
"Um, yes?" Subaru looked somewhat confused.
"Good, I'm sure I have some baking powder left. So, Kamui-chan, going back to what takes place in mitochondria..."
The cake turned out so easy to make that even Kamui helped out by placing blueberries on the almost-finished masterpiece.
"You do know that you'll never get your fingers clean before tomorrow?" Seishirou reminded him.
"It's alright, I'm only going to the movies with a friend..."
Subaru muttered something under his breath from where he was safely perched on the kitchen table, away from the mess the two were making.
"What was that, Subaru-kun?" Seishirou asked with a grin.
"I just said that when I saw them together, Segawa-kun didn't look at Kamui like just a friend," the younger onmyouji said with a perfectly serious look.
"What do you-?" Kamui flustered.
"Oh, so that's how it is!" Seishirou smirked. "You're not telling us the whole truth here. And to think we could give you so much good advice..."
"Like in what?" the boy asked guardedly.
The assassin shrugged eloquently. "For example, Subaru-kun could give you tips on how to act during courtship so that you don't discourage the other side while not giving in either. He led me on a merry chase when he was your age. And I could give you some - other tips."
"I'm sure Kamui wouldn't need those," Subaru interjected hurriedly. "My advice is, just have fun."
Kamui glared at him half-heartedly, then turned to the Sakurazukamori. "I won't let you kill Segawa just because he has this address."
"What do you take me for?" Seishirou asked rhetorically. "Right now it doesn't matter much either way. I doubt whether you'll be able to hide your location from your side much longer anyway."
The boy perked up. "So I can invite Yuzuriha and Arashi to dinner some time?" he mused.
"As long as Arisugawa-kun doesn't come," Subaru mentioned with a soft laugh. "Between him and Yuzuriha-chan, no-one but Ijyuin-san could cook enough food for both."
So, this was it. The house of Seishirou Sakurazuka did not look half as scary as he had imagined it.
Still, Keiichi would have much preferred to be elsewhere. He wondered whether it was too late to turn back, call Kamui on his cellphone and bluff that he hadn't been able to find his way over here. He had been curious about his friend's new host, but a few hours of digging in the more esoteric research venues had made it clear to him that if he was right about it, he honestly didn't want to know.
A white long-haired cat was sitting on the steps leading up to the door.
"Oh, hello there!" Keiichi crooned, kneeling down to scratch the cat's ears. "I didn't see you - are you lost?" His mind already supplied scenarios of taking the cat to its owner, the good of the animal clearly outweighing any benefits that could come with confronting the Sakurazuka.
Then the door slid open noiselessly.
"I see the feline lady has already seen it fit to greet our guest," a deep, amused voice said.
Keiichi looked up and for a moment wondered whether he had gotten the wrong address after all. The man in the doorway smiled much too warmly to be-
"Do come in, Segawa-kun."
No such luck.
He scooped up the cat and followed the man inside. The house was surprisingly cozy, a harmonious mix of a traditional style with something reminiscent of Victorian England. Nothing looked out of place, up to and including the familiar young man leaning against a banister.
"Seishirou-san, Kamui needs help upstairs. If you could-?" Subaru asked.
"Of course," the older man nodded.
Subaru turned to the blond boy next. "Good evening, Segawa-kun. I see you've met Pochi-chan already."
"Oh - the cat?" Keiichi blinked. "Pochi?"
"It's a long story. Would you like some tea? Or cake?"
"I'd love to, Sumeragi-san!" Keiichi smiled gratefully.
He followed Subaru into the kitchen and accepted a piece of blueberry cake gratefully. In order to do so, he had to set Pochi down. The cat immediately jumped up to the table and started inspecting the cutlery.
"Isn't she a little thin for a Persian?" he noted.
"Oh, she's not a Persian. She's a Turkish Angora," Subaru explained while pouring the tea.
"I see. This is very good cake!"
"I'll be sure to tell that to Seishirou-san. He's the one who baked it - are you alright?"
Keiichi coughed. "Yes, I'm sorry, it's just that some food must have gone down the wrong way..." He set the cake down as quickly as if it was poisoned. "Um, where is Shirou-kun?"
"Upstairs. He seemed to be having some... difficulties with his outfit. I do hope they're resolved by now."
As if on cue, steps could be heard on the stairs. Kamui flew down as if pursued by demons, then froze in front of a mirror to correct his disarrayed hair and clothes.
Keiichi almost choked again on his tea as his brain flew into overload. No, no way it was what he thought it was, not even if one of the things his friend was fixing was a powdery imprint of a male hand on his calf, as if the person who left it had just been baking before.
"Sorry for the delay," Kamui said finally. "I wanted to put on my new boots, and they came straight-laced. I couldn't figure it out."
"Oh. So, ready to go?"
"He'd better be," Seishirou said from the hallway. "He's been nagging on about this outing for the entire day. I'm afraid he even neglected to join us for a walk in the park, just so he could do his homework earlier-"
"Sei-san!" Kamui hissed.
Subaru laughed gently. "Off with you two, before things get worse."
The two boys found themselves on the lawn, the door shutting behind them.
"You were right," Keiichi sighed. "Sakurazuka-san is scary."
They looked at each other for all of five seconds before cracking up into laughter.
It looked like they weren't the only ones who wanted to see a hot new Hollywood movie on a Sunday night. Even though it had been playing for several weeks now, "The Matrix" was still almost sold out.
Keiichi stared in horror at the pandemonium in front of the concession stands. "It's a good thing I got the tickets earlier... but we'll never manage to get popcorn!"
Kamui judged the crowd. "Come on," he snapped, dragging his friend after him.
They cut through the mass of people like a blade through flesh. The dark-haired boy unceremoniously cut into the line and ordered the snacks.
"And roasted almonds, if you have those," he added as an afterthought. "They're so sweet..."
The girl behind the counter blushed to the roots of her hair at the unspoken "just like you" that was clearly visible in the amused violet eyes. She fumbled to procure everything at record speed.
"Hey, what gives?" one of the people standing in the line demanded. "Get to the back like the rest of us!"
The man was tall and imposing, but blanched a shade that matched his white shirt at the look Kamui shot him.
"I'd rather not, if it's all the same to you."
"Um- sure- uh-"
Kamui quickly picked up his purchases and tugged Keiichi to the relative safety of a side corridor.
"What was that about?" the blond demanded.
"Sorry," Kamui laughed. "Just trying out a trick of Sei-san's - can't believe it worked."
Keiichi shook his head, wondering whether his friend knew how much he'd resembled the golden-eyed man there for a moment.
"Okay, let's go inside and make sure no-one steals our seats!"
Evening Tokyo was a mass of lights as they opted to walk to the next subway station instead of choosing the closest one. They decided they needed time to discuss the movie.
"I'm stunned - it was all so novel," Keiichi wondered. "I wish I knew how they thought it up!"
"I don't know - it all seemed like a Philip K. Dick book to me," Kamui pointed out. Then he noted his friend's clueless look. "You know - Blade Runner?"
"Oh, I get it - I guess you're right, the whole feeling was a bit similar. But I really liked the way they handled the messiah motive - you know, The One."
"I guess that was pretty straightforward. It's a popular motive."
"But usually people jump at a chance to save the world. It was strange that he didn't want to be the One."
"It's not like that. When your entire life has been taken from you and then suddenly you learn you're the one responsible for the whole world, that it's basically all your fault if it's destroyed, the responsibility is a pain. The first thing you do is deny it, on a chance that this is all a mistake, that it's impossible that someone like you - only you - can be that important."
Keiichi laughed. "You sound like you're speaking from experience!" Then his laughter faltered. "Shirou-kun, you do know I'd really like to be your friend?"
"I mean- I'd like to help you, with the whole situation, with why the Chairman is interested in you, in why those people - your friends from school - are so angry with you."
Kamui sighed. "I know. It's just..." He looked into Keiichi's guileless blue eyes and made his decision. "Listen, let's say there was a boy in that situation I just described. He - he'd lost his family, and he didn't know who or what he was, not exactly. And then some people told him he was the prophesized savior of mankind. He didn't want to do it at first, just like in the movie, but then bad things started happening to his two childhood friends and he decided to protect them. Only this made one of them go mad and kill the other."
"And when he finally thought he could at least have some place where he could be himself, where no-one wanted anything from him, then everyone else yells at him for declining his duty. As if it was my duty to feel as sorry for myself as possible!"
"Oh, I'm sure it's not that bad!" Keiichi hastened to say. "I think Hinoto-san is just being overzealous-"
Kamui's hand on his shoulder stopped him in his tracks.
"I didn't mention Hinoto."
"Um, uh..." Keiichi almost blushed. "Y'see, I did some digging up after you left so suddenly at the Ikebukuro earthquake, and I came up with some thing... I mean, with my father - he was an occult expert on retainer to a real estate development company, did I tell you that? Oh yeah, I didn't... Anyway, it's pretty easy to match a well-known prophecy (it's not like Hinoto was the first one to dream of it!) to your name."
"When we met... why did you talk about earthquakes like they were things beyond anyone's control?"
Keiichi's smile was as bright as ever. "Oh, I did. It's just that it's easier to think of them that way - but I guess that's not possible if you know the people behind them. You're the good Kamui, right? And some of your friends are Dragons of Heaven? Is the Chairman one?"
Kamui shook his head in wonder at the unfading cheerfulness. "Yes, yes and no."
They started walking again.
"I see why you're so upset," Keiichi explained. "But people who tell you to break all ties are wrong: you don't have to face it alone. You have friends, family." So soft it was barely more than a breath. "You have me."
"My family's dead."
"Sakurazuka-san and Sumeragi-san looked very much alive earlier."
"You didn't see that? They treat you like family. Like a younger brother. You said it yourself, they just want you to be yourself."
Kamui gaped. "I've never thought of it this way..."
"You should. You need an anchor in the coming storm."
"I have my - teammates."
"How close to them are you? People thrown together by fate are far less permanently linked than those in a family." Keiichi grinned again. "That's what my father always told me: remember your home and follow your heart, and you cannot go wrong."
"Segawa - Keiichi-kun-"
"See, here's our subway station! See you at school tomorrow!"
After toeing off his shoes Kamui walked soundlessly through the house. On the porch, Subaru sat calmly on the bench, looking at the peaceful night.
"Hello, Kamui. Did you have fun?"
"I - I know you're staying here. And I'd rather not go back to the mansion. Can I stay, too?"
Soft footsteps behind them heralded Seishirou's arrival.
"Of course you can," the assassin said easily, handing Kamui a cup of hot chocolate. He gave another to Subaru and kept the third one for himself.
Subaru smiled. "Kamui, sometimes I think you're the only thing that keeps us from killing each other. Right, Seishirou-san?"
Seishirou sat beside Subaru, and Kamui sank to the floor next to them. Together they watched the autumn moon, half-shrouded by mist and glowing like a distant beacon of a safe harbor.
~To Be Continued~
The title of this chapter comes from a song by David Bowie called "Heroes", which is also quoted at the end of the Ueno segment.
The first song snippet is from "Twentieth Century Boy" by T-Rex, and the dead rockstar is of course Marc Bolan (RIP).
Subaru's temper tantrum is, on reflection, somewhat inspired by mine when I learned of Rainbow Bridge. You can't say Sei-chan didn't have it coming.
Mitochondria stuff quoted from an article by Gwen V. Childs, University of Texas Medical Branch. I'm not sure whether Japanese high-schoolers have to learn this stuff, but I sure did.
Kamui angst introspection: *goes to hide under the sofa* I know it's melodramatic to the point of graphomania, but that's the point. I can't help if Kamui-chan thinks that way, now can I? Not to mention that's X-Japan on his discman, from Seishirou's autographed collection.
Turkish angora photos available here - yes, that's what Pochi looks like.
Boots idea credited to Basingstoke's Sith Academy story "Jedi do it with their boots on".
Before you yell at me for taking the easy way out with Keiichi, he's not telling the entire truth. Rather less than it, actually. More to come.
In the next chapter: With feelings running free, there's just no way for our three heroes to "Keep it in the Closet". But once the others learn of the recent happenings, what will the reactions be?
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