"What do you mean, Ďnow whatí?" said Subaru suspiciously. He did not like the gleam in Seishirouís eyes. It reminded him too much of a cat eyeing a canary.
The taller man shrugged. "I was merely asking for your opinion on our situation."
The Sumeragi gave the Sakurazukamori a pained look. "In what context are you referring to Ďour situationí?"
"In any context you wish to believe."
Subaru sat gingerly down on the bed again, forgetting his torn clothes. Every muscle was tense and readied for any surprise. He decided to take the conversation in the direction of their current imprisonment rather than the other direction, which would probably end up with him and Seishirou at each otherís throats Ė literally. "I donít know what Hokutoís up to," he said with a sigh. "I think being dead has addled her brains."
"Hokuto-chan was always rather meddlesome in your affairs."
Subaru winced at the word Ďaffairsí. "But still, what on earth is she thinking?" he exclaimed.
Seishirou gave a beatific smile and nodded slightly towards the bed Subaru was sitting on.
Subaru quickly jumped off the bed. Then he ran to the door and started pounding on it.
"HOKUTO!!!" he yelled. "Get back here!! HOKUTO!!!!"
A hand gently but firmly took a hold of his delicate right wrist as Subaru raised his fist again at the stubborn door. Another hand was laid on his left shoulder. Before Subaru could react, he was spun around and back shoved into the door with his right arm pinned above his head. The Sumeragi quickly brought his free fist up under Seishirouís chin but only managed a glancing blow as the other man turned away. Instead, the assassin grabbed his left hand and pinned that one above Subaruís head as well and so enclosing both slim wrists under his one hand. The young onmyouji squirmed unsuccessfully as the taller man leaned forward using his advantage of size to hold the other in place.
A disconcerting white and bronze gaze burned into Subaruís face.
"Subaru-kun," Seishirou whispered softly though the lurking hint of steel did not go unnoticed. "Youíve grown older, more interesting to play with." He brought his face closer towards the younger man whose defiant look was faltering, and drew one long finger down the line of Subaruís delicate cheek. The defiant look faltered a bit more.
"However," the assassin murmured into the onmyoujiís ear, "you still havenít realised that pleasure . . ." He brushed his lips against Subaruís cheek causing the other to tremble. " . . . is in some ways not very different . . ." Abruptly he stopped the caress and pressed one finger unmercifully against the sensitive pressure points of Subaruís head. The younger man gasped and would have collapsed if his hands hadnít been held up. " . . .to pain."
The Sakurazukamori watched dispassionately at Subaru taking in several deep breaths while the fire faded. Then the assassin slowly enclosed the slim throat under his hand. His grip closed . . .
"Iím here! What did you want, Subaru?"
Hokuto materialised in the middle of the room posing in a new costume with her back to the struggle behind her. When no one answered, she looked around. Seeing Seishirou holding her brother in a death grip, the ghost pouted. She flitted over to the pair and waved a hand in between their faces.
"Ex-squeeze me, but killing each other is not allowed," she said more seriously. At the sight of the transparent hand in front of his face, Seishirou took one step backwards, releasing Subaru who fell to his knees clutching his throat.
"I was only playing, Hokuto-chan," said Seishirou innocently.
"Playing at what, that is the question," replied the spirit. In the few minutes that she had been absent, she had managed to change her fairy-like dress for something resembling a cherub. Little angel wings peeked out from her back and the loose white dress in Grecian style with a high hem was bound with a gold sash at the waist. Gold sandals covered her feet, the straps crossing up to just under her knees. The only thing left over from the last outfit was the halo still perched above her head.
The assassin smiled and offered a hand to Subaru who lay curled up on the floor. The gesture was ignored and Subaru pulled himself upright. His eyes were burning.
"Playing," the younger man bit out. "With a toy."
The othersí smile turned cold. "Of course. I was bored."
"That can be fixed," said Hokuto. "Subaru, havenít you gotten changed yet?"
Her brother looked down at his clothes, still ripped and slashed from the battle. Then he drew himself up and stormed past Seishirou and through his sister to the bathroom. "I havenít exactly had the chance to," he said angrily. Without a single glance behind him, he slammed the door shut and not long after that, the sound of running water was heard.
Hokuto shook her head. "What did you do to him this time?" she sighed.
"Nothing more than usual," replied Seishirou maddeningly.
"You mean the usual sadistic mixture of seduction and torture that just leaves Subaru even more confused?"
"What is there to be confused about? He wants to kill me."
The spirit rolled her eyes. "For someone whoís utterly obsessed over my brother," she scolded, "there are still some things about him that you donít understand."
"Heís still at heart the simple innocent young boy nine years ago," retorted Seishirou, perhaps a little bit sharply. Then his placid smile appeared again as if it had been there all along. "How long do you plan to keep us in here?" he asked with his usual talent for changing subjects as fast as his expressions.
"For as long as I deem necessary. Look," she continued at the otherís disgruntled face, "I know you have things to do, a kekkai to destroy, some Seals to annoy but forget about it for a while. The Dragon of Heaven and Dragon of Earth issue have nothing to do with you for the moment. Itís just you, Seishirou, and Subaru. And me of course! You canít forget the sister-in-law!"
Seishirou chuckled softly. "Of course not, dear sister," he said with a bow that only half mocking.
It was at this point that Subaru decided to open the bathroom door and peep out. "Hokuto, where did you say you put my clothes?" he asked, looking quite adorable with his black hair dripping water into his finely boned face.
Hokuto waved a discorporate hand in the direction of the wardrobe on the other side of the room. "In there, where Sei-chanís stuff is."
Her brotherís look darkened. "Can you get it for me?" he asked his sister.
The dead Sumeragi sibling gave the living one a patient look. "Subaru, Iím not solid. I canít pick anything up."
"Conjure it over then?" he begged.
"I just spent a lot of energy conjuring up this dress! Iím tired!"
The Sakurazukamori leaning against the door got up and took one step towards the wardrobe. Subaru glared at him. Seishirou stopped.
"Iíll get it myself," muttered Subaru. The door closed for a moment, then this time was opened wide. Subaru had a pink fluffy towel wrapped around his waist that hung on his thin frame to above his knees, and another towel draped over his shoulders. He walked briskly across the large room, feet sinking into the carpet to the wardrobe trying to ignore the green, white and bronze eyes upon him watching his every move. It wasnít the green eyes that made his white skin turn the same colour as the towel though.
Hokuto skipped lightly to her brotherís side. "Stop right there!" she commanded, and through habit, though it was nine years since his elder twin had bossed him around, Subaru froze. Hokuto grinned. This was just like old days, except she couldnít hold the clothes. "Now, Subaru-kun, look in that drawer and take out the pants in there. And the shirt over in there."
Silently, Subaru obeyed. It didnít help that Seishirou was laughing softly off to one side. Although the onmyouji was now twenty-five, his sister still wouldnít let him get dressed without her assistance. He lifted out the folded black pants. Shaking it out, he gave a long sigh. The choice Hokuto had picked out was skin-tight and short enough that it ended above his ankles.
"Great! Now, the top!" said Hokuto with a chirp.
Subaru didnít bother to turn around. "Seishirou-san, shut up."
The assassin realigned his open mouth into a grin.
Draping the pants over his arm, Subaru held the top in the other hand. This one, the exact shade of black as the first article of clothing, was sleeveless with a high neck and also skin tight. Now that Subaru knew what his frivolous sister had in mind, he flicked his gaze into the wardrobeís interior. Next to a long black trench coat that could only be for Seishirou was a short red jacket. He could even see a black hat with a red band on the top shelf.
"Hokuto-chaaaaaan," he sighed.
His sister grinned. "I have gloves as well," she offered.
"Do I have to?" begged Subaru desperately.
Hokuto gave her brother a sweet look. "Címon, for old times sake!" Her grin turned sly. "If you donít, Iíll ask Sei-chan to dress you."
The young man yelped while Seishirou laughed out loud, then dashed back into the bathroom. Hokuto frowned as the door closed tightly.
"Subaru? I think you forgot something."
The sound of rustling of cloth on skin stopped. Hokuto looked at the bottom most drawer and it silently slid open as if pulled by invisible hands. A simple article of clothing floated out of it, hanging in mid-air.
There was a sigh from the bathroom.
"Youíll have to get it yourself," called Hokuto. Then an arm passed through her to pluck the limp object out of the air.
"Iíll do it," said Seishirou with a wink at Hokuto who giggled.
The Sakurazukamori walked gracefully over the carpet to the bathroom door, reaching it just as Subaru opened it. The younger man stopped, hand holding the towel around his waist and his green eyes flickering up to look at Seishirouís face and the piece of clothing he held in the air in his right hand.
Subaru turned red. Muttering something under his breath he snatched the underwear from Seishirou and retreated back into the bathroom, trying not to listen to his sisterís vigorous laughter, and the deeper chuckle of Seishirou.
"How do I get myself into these situations?" Subaru groaned. He pulled on his underwear then hung the towels on the rack, straightening them until they were perfectly aligned. "Nee-san, what are you up to?"
"Suuuuubaaaaaruuuuu," sighed Hokuto from behind him. "You havenít been eating properly."
Subaru turned around to see his twin shaking her head reproachfully as she looked at him up and down. He blushed only slightly Ė she was his sister and he had been her dress-up doll for years. However there was only so much scrutiny he could stand, and soon he reached for his clothing to cover himself.
"What do they feed you in that mansion?" asked Hokuto, watching her brother pull on his pants. "Gruel? Or is it because you just arenít eating because Iím not around anymore to tell you to eat? Youíre just as skinny as before."
"Must both of you go on about how much I eat?" asked Subaru as he picked up his shirt.
"What else do you expect of us?" replied Hokuto with a soft smile. "We both care about you."
Subaru shook his head, then brought the top over his head. "You do. He doesnít," he said shortly, voice muffled through the fabric. Pulling the shirt down and rearranging it so it sat properly, he looked at his sister with a faintly betrayed look. "He killed you, Nee-san," Subaru said tightly. "How can you act so friendly towards him?"
Hokuto waved one discorporate hand negligently in the air. "Details, details," she replied lightly. "I got over that a long time ago. Oh sure, I was pretty mad for the first few months, but I got used to it." Her smile softened. "Besides, Subaru-kun. My wish in life was to take care of you and protect you. I did that."
Her brother looked at her flabbergasted, then sat down on the step leading up to the large spa. "Youíre not angry with him?"
"For killing me, no. For trying to kill you sometimes, yes." Hokuto cocked her head to one side. "But you know, Iím really starting to think he doesnít want to kill you at all."
Before Subaru could answer, there was a crisp knock on the bathroom door.
"If you two have quite finished in there," said Seishirou from the other side of the door, "I would like to get cleaned up."
Hokuto turned slightly and glanced at the door handle. There was a click as the lock opened but apart from that there was no sound as the door opened smoothly, revealing the Sakurazukmori on the other side. He looked Subaru in his tight black clothes up and down.
"You know if things had been different, I think Hokuto-chan would have made a fortune as a fashion designer," the assassin commented. "Especially with such a handsome brother to model for her."
The younger Subaru would have blushed at such a compliment. The older one merely looked at Seishirou without saying anything. His sister however hadnít changed. Since Hokuto was now transparent, the light that shone out of her nearly obscured her features completely.
"Ne, youíre exaggerating!" gushed Hokuto.
The assassin gave a bow. "Itís no exaggeration when it is the truth," he said with a sly wink at the younger Sumeragi sibling. "Subaru has broken many hearts I am sure. What a pity his has already been lost."
Subaru had a pained look on his face while Hokuto giggled. "Sei-chan, you say the nicest things! And youíre so nice to Subaru when you want to be."
"Note the Ďwant to be,í" muttered Subaru.
"Anyway, I wonít keep you standing around any longer," twittered Hokuto, pirouetting on one foot and causing her cherub wings to swing through Subaru. In the middle of her spin she disappeared with a pop and shower of golden sparkles that floated to the ground but like Hokutoís laughter, faded before they touched the tiled floor.
Subaru sighed and held his head in his hands.
"Again, how did this happen to me," he muttered. A soft rustling sound made him look up.
"Do close the door, Subaru-kun," said Seishirou as he idly tossed his black shirt into a basket. "Preferably with you on the inside. I would like some help in washing my back." He gave the younger man a sly smile as he folded his arms across his bare chest.
Subaru glared at him. "Go to hell," he shot over his shoulder as he nearly ran out of the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.
Seishirou shook his head and laughed softly as he turned on the water in the spa. Then a thought occurred to him and he smiled.
I wonder what weíre going to do for sleeping arrangements.
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