Hokuto wasnít so crazy as to not keep a watch on Seishirou and Subaru whenever she left them alone, so she checked to make sure they werenít ripping each otherís throats out once every hour or so. Now if they were ripping each otherís clothes off it would be a different matter altogether, but Hokuto was sharp enough to know that that possibility was, at this stage, out of the question. Therefore she wasnít too surprised to see that one of them had decided to take some makeshift sleeping arrangement far from the other. What was surprising was that they had decided to go to sleep peacefully.
Well, Subaru had anyway.
Hokuto watched the Sakurazukamori silently get off the bed where he had been lying without moving the last few hours, and gracefully stalk across the floor, perhaps instinctively avoiding the illusion of moonlight Hokuto had added and keeping in the shadows. The ghost wished that she hadnít chosen midnight blue for Seishirou Ė she had to squint in order to follow the black-on-black that was the assassin and even then she didnít notice immediately when he flowed out of the shadows to stand behind the sofa her brother was sleeping on.
The spirit frowned. Though it was very nice to see Seishirou watching her brother while he slept, the way the two men were positioned with the Sakurazukamori looming over the half-sprawled form of Subaru like some dark specter made Hokuto uneasy. Seishirou stood so that his profile was presented to her, but his face was in shadow. It was impossible to see with what expression he was looking at Subaru Ė if there was any expression at all.
"What dirty thoughts is your mind entertaining about my brother, Sei-chan?" whispered Hokuto teasingly, allowing her form to become visible to the assassin. Seishirou looked up. She was seated cross-legged, levitating near the ceiling near the canopied bed, dressed rather simply for once in a flowing white dress. Sort of simple Ė it was long enough that it cascaded to a few centimeters above the floor.
If Seishirou was surprised by her appearance, he didnít show it.
"The usual," he replied just as softly. "What it would be like to finally kill him."
Hokuto unfolded her legs so that she was standing, then willed herself to float over so that she was levitating by Seishirouís shoulder. The assassin watched her, then turned his attention back to the sleeping onmyouji.
"Alright, I didnít need to know that," Hokuto muttered. It was too dark to see Seishirouís reaction. Suddenly tiring of the game, she moved the moonlight so that it fell across them, revealing Seishirouís face. Catching Seishirou by surprise, Hokuto managed to see the intent hunterís gaze before it slipped away into an impassive smile.
Hokuto grinned. Feeling mischievous, she altered the moonlight again until it flowed across Subaru as he lay half-sprawled with his arm flung out from under Seishirouís coat, face tilted slightly away from them. The silvery light washed out all the colours, leaving the sofa a dull, muted red while accentuating the black of Seishirouís coat and the white of Subaruís skin.
If there was one thing she knew the Sakurazukamori appreciated, it was beautiful things. She felt a small twitch of pride as she saw Seishirou smile. Subaru was blissfully unaware of their scrutiny, a sleeping Endymion waiting for his loverís kiss.
"My brother is cute, isnít he," sighed Hokuto. Time had changed Subaru from the painfully thin and delicately exquisite youth to a slender, deceptively fragile and alluring young man. She wondered what she would have looked like, if she had lived. Gazing down at her brother, she mentally put the sleeping face on a female body. She would never know how accurate her imagination was.
Seishirou chuckled and reached down, caressing Subaruís face almost lovingly. Almost. "Cute isnít the word I would use." He smiled, but not pleasantly. "I thank you, Hokuto-chan," he said softly as he ran long fingers down Subaruís neck, all the way down to his hand. Almost gently, the assassin lifted the hand and traced his fingers over its back. A silver star flared into visibility. "You have captured Subaruís beauty perfectly for me."
Hokutoís look darkened at the sight of the glowing star. "Subaru isnít a toy you can play with when you are bored, Sei-chan. He doesnít belong to you."
Seishirou looked up at the floating spirit, an obsessive fire in his honey-gold eye. "He may not be a toy," he replied, amused. Then in a colder yet strangely more emotive tone; "But he is mine."
Hokuto was taken more than slightly aback at the force of Seishirouís last words. They were almost . . . passionate?
"You are really obsessed with my brother, Sei-chan," said Hokuto.
The assassin wasnít looking at her, but instead was looking at Subaruís sleeping face, intent and almost hungry. With a feeling of disquiet, Hokuto glared at the pile of cushions in the far corner. One of the smaller ones suddenly jumped and lightly hit Seishirou.
The Sakurazukamori let Subaruís hand drop. Then he turned to face her.
"I find Subaru fascinating, yes," said Seishirou calmly, leaning on the back of the sofa. "But obsessed? No."
Hokuto shook her head slowly. "First sign of obsession is when people deny it."
"You forget who I am, Hokuto-chan."
The dead Sumeragi sibling sniffed. "Hardly."
Seishirou smiled thinly. "Iím Sakurazukamori. Iím not a normal person."
"Neither is Subaru, which is why youíre obsessed with him."
"Your brother is the one who has been doing the chasing, not me."
Hokuto nodded, granting the man this argument. "True, Subaru is also obsessed with you. Which is why he hasnít really tried to kill you." She looked at Seishirou. "And you havenít really tried either."
Seishirouís mismatched eyes narrowed. "What are you saying."
"Obsession isnít very different to love, Sei-chan," Hokuto continued. "In both cases, you canít live without your love or obsession."
"Subaru doesnít love me," said Seishirou. "He did, once. Now he hates me. After all, dear Hokuto-chan," he continued with a smirk. "I did kill you."
"I know," replied Hokuto simply. "But thereís a thin line between love and hate too. Subaru himself doesnít know exactly what he feels, now that he knows that I donít want revenge for my death. If he doesnít know, how can you know?"
The Sakurazukamoriís glance fell back to Subaru. He had moved slightly, his throat bare, ivory skin almost luminous in the moonlight. "I could kill him, you know," the assassin said softly. "Right now, in front of your eyes."
"It would be only to prove to me that you are capable of killing the person whom your life revolves around, not because you want to."
"Hokuto-chan," said Seishirou, as if talking to a child. "I want to kill him. He is my prey, and he will die by my hand."
The spirit shook her head. "No. You want to own him, to understand him completely. My brother isnít the simple innocent boy anymore Ė you destroyed that. The man my brotherís become is infinitely more complex. And you want to own Subaru now just like you did all those years ago."
Seishirouís eyes were unreadable as he gazed down at the sleeping onmyouji.
"Isnít that why youíre jealous of his Kamui, Sei-chan?" teased Hokuto. "Because the Kamui of the Dragons of Heaven might know that one part of Subaru you donít yet?"
"Iím not jealous," Seishirou growled.
The assassin didnít answer her, watching her with wary eyes. Suddenly without warning, they changed, no longer the hunterís, but more the congenial veterinarian. "This imprisonment wonít change anything, Hokuto-chan," said Seishirou levelly. He turned away from Subaru and stalked across the room to the bed.
The spirit followed him, smiling. "Oh you never know until you try," she said, shrugging. She looked at the bed covers and they slid up to cover the assassin as he lay down on the bed. "In fact, I believe weíve made a good start."
Seishirou shook his head and smiled. "You never give up, do you."
"Not when you two are concerned. So tell me," said Hokuto, tilting her head to one side. "Why did you decide to get out of bed and watch Subaru sleeping?"
The man gave her a sly smile. "You know that I couldnít resist such a wonderful opportunity for voyeurism, pervert that I am."
There was more to it than that, but Hokuto giggled as she willed the moonlight to fade. "Good night, Sei-chan."
She allowed herself to fade as well, the smile never leaving her face.
Sofas had never been the best places to get a good nightís rest. Theyíre too narrow, the cushions are made for sitting rather than sleeping and in Subaruís case, it was too short for his long frame. Add to that the fact that Subaru was a worrier by nature and he did not get a good sleep. Rolling off his Ďbedí and being rudely awakened by the floor tangled up in Seishirouís coat didnít make him feel any better.
Hokuto was distracted by a thump from the general direction of the sofa and the levitating kettle spilled its contents onto Seishirouís saucer rather than his cup. The kettle danced a little several inches above the tableís surface, then clunked down spilling more coffee as Hokuto giggled at Subaru dragging himself off the floor, hair in disarray and a dazed look in his green eyes. He blinked owlishly, looked around, then groaned and let his head flop down onto the armrest, wishing he could go back to sleep.
"Good morning, sleepy-head," sang Hokuto. The black and white maidís uniform she wore was given a Hokuto-style touch by the tutu skirt and knee-high sheer black stockings with suspenders. The combination of angel wings and white maidís cap and glowing halo on her head looked rather strange though. "Breakfast is ready!"
There has to be a law against people being so chirpy in the morning, thought Subaru darkly.
The kettle rose into the air again, this time by a pair of hands who poured coffee into two cups.
"I would have woken you up but I decided you looked too cute when you were asleep to do so," said Seishirou as he brought his cup to his lips.
Subaru wondered if there was a law against people looking so good in the morning. The Sakurazukamori was impeccable as always in a black suit and tie with a dark red shirt, though the picture was made more casual by the jacket draped over the chair and the air of seriousness the clothes gave was dispelled by Seishirouís smile at Subaru.
Subaru looked at him, groaned again and rubbed his eyes as he stumbled to the breakfast table. Seeing Seishirou first thing in the morning was a bit disturbing and wasnít making him feel any better. Most of his night had been spent worrying over what his fellow Seals were doing and whether they were searching for him. Not only that, he worried about how Kamui was handling his unexplained disappearance Ė the young Dragon of Heaven had come to depend on Subaru to help him through the ordeal of the End of the World with his emotional problems. Having Subaruís support suddenly removed would certainly distress Kamui and the other Seals as well.
The positive side was that the Angels had also lost one of their most powerful fighters. The downside of that was that Subaru now had to deal with Seishirou. And he wasnít sure if he was ready for that.
He really needed to get out. The problem was that he didnít know how.
Hokuto looked at her brother as he flopped down in the chair and half-heartedly reach for the coffee Seishirou had poured. "Didnít you sleep well?" she asked.
Subaru made some negative noises in reply. On the other side of the table, Seishirou was shaking his head.
"I told you that you could have slept on the bed, but no, Subaru-kun, you have to be such a prude and sleep on the sofa, didnít you," the Sakurazukamori said morosely. "Iím hurt."
"Shut up," Subaru snapped.
Hokutoís eyebrows went up. "Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning."
"Is it morning?" asked Seishirou. "Or have you just made it seem like morning?"
The angel grinned impishly. "Sorry. Not allowed to tell you."
Subaru closed his eyes as the caffeine washed the last remnants of sleep away. The entire scene was like so many of those during that one year they had shared together. Hokuto and Seishirou were acting as if nothing had changed; she was being her usual flighty self and he was teasing Subaru like always. But so many things had happened between them that could never be undone. The fact that Hokuto had decided to overlook the fact that Seishirou had killed her and treat him like a friend had thrown Subaru. But even if his sister had seemingly forgiven Seishirou for everything he had done to them, it didnít mean Subaru was going to.
"Hokuto-chan," he said when his throat no longer felt dry. "I have to get back."
"No you donít," his sister replied absently as she filled Subaruís plate and bowl. The forks and ladles dancing in mid-air full of food required a lot of concentration to uphold.
"But I have to!" protested Subaru, blinking as a droplet of soup splashed onto him. "I have to help my friends Ė theyíll be worried about me, the End of the World is coming up and -"
The food stopped flying. "Subaru," said Hokuto, turning to face him as the food and utensils lowered themselves onto the table. "Forget about all that while youíre here. You donít need to worry about it."
"But Iím a Dragon of Heaven Ė I need to worry about it!"
"So? Sei-chanís a Dragon of Earth and you donít see him worrying."
"But nothing, Subaru!" declared Hokuto, folding her arms and glaring at her brother. "You donít need to worry. Itís not as if the other side has gained any advantage anyway. In fact by removing both of you from the fight I think I may have eased things a little."
"But I have a duty -"
Hokuto was looking angrier by the second. "Youíre always wrapped up with duty! It doesnít matter here! For once I want you to stop thinking about others and just worry about yourself!"
Seishirou was watching the two of them over the rim of his coffee cup. "Better do as the lady says, Subaru-kun," he said. "I for one agree. Youíre always working too hard for other people."
The assassin was rewarded with a glare. "Arenít you worried about your friends?" asked Subaru.
"íFriendsí isn't quite the term I would use to describe them," replied Seishirou, taking another sip of his coffee.
"Anyway, Subaru," continued Hokuto. "I donít want you to leave yet."
At the thought that he may have insulted his sister by wanting to leave Subaruís eyes widened and he reverted back to being his sixteen-year-old self. "Ah, Iím so sorry!" he stammered hastily, "Iím happy that youíre erm, back, itís just that . . ." He dropped his gaze back down to the table. "Iím worried about Kamui and the others."
There was a cracking sound from the other side of the table. The twins looked around at Seishirou. The assassin had put his teacup on its saucer with enough force to crack the china. Or maybe the saucer had cracked under the intensity of Seishirouís dark gaze. Then without warning his usual mask of friendliness appeared again and Seishirou flashed the Sumeragi siblings a smile. Subaru gave the other man a confused look. His sister just gave Seishirou a knowing one before catching Subaruís attention again.
"How can you worry over the Kamui when you have Sei-chan!" she demanded playfully, hands on hips in mock anger.
Behind her Seishirou held a hand to his head melodramatically. "Ah, I knew that I could have no chance with a wealthy and beautiful young man such as Subaru-kun," he sighed. "After all, I am just a poor veterinarian."
Two pairs of identical green eyes gave him identical looks of strained patience. He flashed a smile at them. Hokuto rolled her eyes.
"Anyway, Subaru-kun," she continued. She folded her arms and gave her twin a smile that set off alarm bells in his head. "I finally have the chance to do with you all those things we never got round to doing."
"Like what," asked Subaru warily.
Hokuto tilted her head to one side. "Like how we never got to hear you sing when Sei-chan took us to that karaoke bar. You wrecked the night by running off."
Subaru had a bad feeling.
"Yes, thatís an idea!" exclaimed Hokuto. "We can sing some karaoke! What do you think, Sei-chan?"
Seishirou laughed. "An excellent suggestion, Hokuto-chan!"
Suddenly Subaru wanted a cigarette. Badly.
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