Warning: The following chapter contains YAOI content ie. male/male sexual relations. If you cannot stomach this sort of thing, then please be intelligent and proceed no further. If you choose to ignore this, thatís your choice. Flames will not be tolerated. On the other hand, you can skip directly to Chapter Twelve.

Angelic Intervention

Chapter Eleven

By Leareth

       

Maybe he was still drowning. His blood pounded through him singing for air, his limbs like lead and refusing to move hanging limply in the darkness as he silently screamed. Then even that soundless cry died away as thought and action seemed to slowly separate, mind drifting far away while body sank deeper and deeper into the waterís engulfing embrace.

Maybe he was still drowning, and the old cliché of seeing oneís life flash by in an instant was true. Like some weird parade with no order or organisation, memories danced before him, inconsequential and consequential alike with equal importance.

Or maybe he was simply dreaming.

He saw himself training with his grandmother in the ways of onmyoujitsu. The details of the lesson were lost, and all he remembered was the way the warm golden sun played over the wooden floor and how he wished he could go outside and enjoy it. Images of people he had met over the years flickered before him before he could see their faces. In his apartment, Hokuto was dressing him, tying his tie for school, but he was twenty-five and she was dead. Hokuto. Nee-san, twin, other half of one whole. Hokuto in her flamboyant clothes laughing, teasing him, holding him, comforting him.

Dying for him.

Her emerald eyes, mirrors of his, softly closed in death as she collapsed under the cherry blossom tree. The tree was so beautiful and so deadly, tiny rose-pink flowers in their millions fed by the blood of the corpses beneath it.

And yet . . .

Iíll make a bet with you . . .

Lips kissing his hands, forever binding them to one another.

Seishirou-san?

Smiles, the cold, emotionless smile as Hokuto died Ė and yet there were also friendly smiles, seductive smiles, teasing smiles. How could the same face wear all of them? The hands, so easily bringing pain and death to scores of victims, including Hokuto Ė but they had also touched him so gently in the water. The soft scent of his hair, the faintest perfume of sakura blossoms Ė or perhaps blood.

Subaru-kun.

The way he said his name.

The way he hurt him.

The way he touched him.

Pleasure . . . is in some ways not so very different . . . to pain.

Where did pleasure end and pain begin?

People do evil because they are lonely . . .

How was it that Seishirou, Sakurazukamori, eternal enemy and nemesis, was the one who could really make him feel alive?

Do you want me?

We want each other.

       

Subaru surfaced from the waters of sleep, unsure of his surroundings. It took him several moments to realise that he was back in the bedroom, clothed in nothing but a damp towel under the silken sheets of the bed. He blinked, staring up at the dark blood-red drapes above him then rolled onto his side facing the wall, grateful for the candlelight that gave the room a soft glow rather than a harsh glare.

He wasnít sure what had happened. He recalled Seishirou approaching him, touching him. They were talking, he remembered vaguely, and he had said something that resulted in Seishirou drowning him in the waters of the spa. He must have blacked out, but why wasnít he dead?

With a soft groan, Subaru sat up rubbing his eyes as he groggily swung his legs over the side of the bed. Absently he flicked the bedcovers away and held the towel around his waist before standing up. The air was cool on his skin as he walked over to the wardrobe, steps silent as his feet sank into the luxurious carpet. The table was back in the middle of the room and there were two slightly melted sundaes on it, the luscious strawberries drowning in rich chocolate sauce. Opening the doors of the wardrobe, Subaru could sense the fragrant perfume of sakura from the scented candles, wafting around the room. The heavy crimson curtains were closed to block out the night Ė

Just how long had he been unconscious for?

And where was Seishirou-san?

There was the softest of sighs from the general direction of the bed behind him. Subaru looked away from the racks of clothes over his shoulder. His green eyes grew wide as he turned fully around, and froze.

The most eye-catching feature of the room was the red velvet canopy that cascaded like a bloody waterfall from the ceiling, loosely falling around the heart-shaped bed. Subaru remembered it as being one whole piece of cloth, but now twisting strips snaked out from the main body. A similar story went for the bed sheet; tongues of silken ribbons morphed out of the parent, some thick, some thin.

Entwined in these crimson skeins, was Seishirou.

The Sakurazukamori lay on the bed propped up by a couple of soft pillows, his dark clothes now dry. Silken ribbons tied his ankles together with thin strips twisting up the lower part of his leg, the blood red striking against the black. His hands were held captive above his head, wrists bound in soft velvet ropes. Large bows adorned each of the knots as if the mind behind them had suddenly had a rather maniacal afterthought. There was a most disgruntled expression on Seishirouís handsome face as his mismatched eyes looked at Subaru.

"Donít ask," he said wearily before Subaru could open his mouth with the obvious question. "Your sister has a twisted sense of humor."

Subaru blinked and stared at the strange sight before him. His eyes traced the paths of the ribbons but soon became lost in their numerous twists. The captive had been struggling, he could see from the way the bindings cut into the skin of the right hand. He looked back at Seishirou, a confused look on his face.

"Theyíre . . . ribbons," he said stupidly.

Seishirou gave him a patient look. "I know that."

"Shouldnít it be easy for you to escape?" Subaru asked hesitantly in the way people tried to delicately point out the obvious to others without sounding insulting.

The other man sighed and rolled his eyes ever so slightly. "If I could free myself, I would have done so a long time ago. Unfortunately Hokuto-chan has made it so I canít."

Subaru chewed his lower lip as he pondered the answer. "Uh, alright . . ." he said slowly.

There was a long, uncomfortable silence as the two stared at each other.

From his position on the bed, Seishirou looked the Sumeragi up and down. "Subaru-kun," he said. "Iím not complaining about the view, but shouldnít you put something on?"

Still standing in front of the open wardrobe, Subaru glanced down, realising that his only article of clothing was a single fluffy pink towel around his waist. Turning the same shade as the towel, he hastily reached to grab a shirt and pants from the shelves and pulled them on right there and then.

Seishirou sighed and settled back into the pillows, scowling at the throbbing pain in extremities of his limbs. His struggles, both magical and physical, had only served to tighten the bonds and the circulation to the right hand was cut off. However it was the least of his worries compared to the entire situation at macro level. For the first time in his life Seishirou found himself unable to act. In addition he was trapped in the same room as someone who had every reason to kill him. It was far from a comfortable feeling.

Craning his neck as far as the ribbons around his wrists would allow Seishirou watched the Sumeragi as best he could with one good eye. Flickering golden light from the dozen or so candles around the room played over Subaruís pale form, now covered by close-fitting black pants and a long-sleeved shirt of the same colour that hugged the skin. Carefully hanging the towel on a hook inside the wardrobe, Subaru closed the doors and leaned his back against the wooden frame, eyes fixed on his bare feet. Then slowly, he lifted his head and gazed at his other through the dark fringe of his hair.

Seishirou looked right back.

Another tense silence. The candles kept burning.

It was Subaru who was the first to turn away, his eyes uncomfortably flicking around the room trying to find some safe object to rest on. After moving from ribbons to candles to cushions he finally stopped on the two sundaes sitting forgotten on the table. Awkwardly he stepped towards them and pulled out the closest chair, turning it on a slight angle to face Seishirou before sitting down. His long fingers, entwined together, twitched slightly but he was otherwise still.

The candles kept burning.

Although the simple piece of furniture was quite comfortable, Subaru fidgeted ceaselessly, crossing and uncrossing his thin legs, sometimes trapping his hands between his knees, sometimes not. Seishirou watched him, a smile hovering around the edges of his mouth. It would have been more amusing if he hadnít been tied up. As it was, his mind was busily trying to anticipate exactly what the Sumeragi would do. It was similar to the feeling he had had after Hokuto had removed the wall and Subaru had unexpectedly smiled at him. Only this time the sense of displacement was more pronounced, more disturbing.

There was the strangest sensation in his body. His breathing and pulse were ever so slightly faster than usual, he realised, hardly noticeable except to those astute enough to notice. And his chest felt tight, as if a large weight had been placed on it. It was similar to anger but he wasnít angry.

What was it?

Seishirou frowned as he tried to determine this new feeling, marveling at it, fascinated. Emotions could be wondrous things sometimes, especially for him who experienced them but rarely. Normal people hardly noticed them unless they were at their most intense. ĎLikeí was different, less powerful than Ďloveí. But what about Seishirou, so emotionally dead?

In the darkest night, even the dimmest star shines like the sun.

Seishirou forced himself to cease with his absorbed scrutiny of the new experience and back to the one whom had aroused it. Seated in the middle of the room at the table, Subaru reached out and lifted one of the sundaes in his left hand. The right took hold of the long-handled spoon, the metal cold against his bare fingers that immediately melted the misty frost. Trying a little too hard not to look at Seishirou in his rather uncomfortable position, Subaru averted his gaze to the vanilla mountain in the glass and the chocolate snowcap that covered it. Digging his spoon in, he created a small gooey avalanche that toppled the strawberry as the scoop was lifted out.

Seishirou watched as Subaru ate the mouthful, then sighed under his breath leaning back into the pillows. Bad enough that he was tied up Ė now he had Subaru eating ice-cream in front of him when he couldnít get to it.

As if sensing the Sakurazukamoriís discontent, Subaru stopped eating and looked back at Seishirou, slowly blinking expressive emerald eyes in deep thought. The prisoner watched him carefully, suspiciously, feeling all-too much like some captured bird of prey, trapped entirely by accident or through its own foolishness and not knowing whether the curious passer-by was to be an executioner or savior. Either way, he wasnít going to go quietly.

Suddenly Subaru stood up. Sticking his spoon in the side of the sundae, he grasped the back of the chair he had been sitting on in one hand, carrying the dessert in the other. Holding the chair a little ways from his leg, Subaru purposefully walked over to the right side of the bed where Seishirou lay, the wooden frame bumping slightly against his thigh. Placing the chair beside the bed, Subaru sat down, resting the sundae on his knees, holding the base. Condensation ran down the sides into the black cloth of his pants. Without speaking he lifted the spoon again, chocolate sauce adhering halfway up the metal handle and coming away in tiny, spider-web like threads. Carefully wiping the implement, he scooped out a rather generous helping of ice-cream and held it out to the assassin.

Seishirou turned to fix his honey-gold eye on the offering for a moment then on Subaru with one raised eyebrow. Shifting closer, Subaru gave him an encouraging nod, his arm steady. With a faintly martyred smile, Seishirou opened his mouth.

Hampered as he was by the crimson ribbons holding his arms and legs, he had to stretch his neck forward slightly in order to close his lips around the scoop of ice-cream. Subaru waited then gently drew the spoon back, the curved bowl empty. Seishirou savored the cold sweetness in his mouth for a moment before swallowing. A part of him was surprised at Subaruís thoughtfulness, but then he realised he shouldnít be. Subaru was kind by nature, even to the one whom he had every reason to want dead.

"Would you like some more?" asked the Sumeragi politely. He watched Seishirou expectantly his hand already poised above the ice-cream. The thick chocolate sauce ran with the melted vanilla, coating the strawberry that lay stuck to the side of the glass. Seishirou gazed at Subaru for a moment, then used the ribbons around his wrists to pull himself to sit straighter, wincing slightly at the growing pain in his right hand.

"You can feed me the strawberry," he said with a sly smile. See how far he could push the Sumeragi.

Surprisingly enough, Subaru immediately maneuvered the bowl of the spoon under the luscious chocolate covered fruit and lifted it. It was a rather large strawberry and the spoon was rather small, so it kept falling off. Determinedly, Subaru kept at it, chasing his target all around the glass much to Seishirouís amusement.

Just how much would you do for me?

Finally with an exasperated sigh, Subaru shoved the spoon into the middle of the ice-cream and took hold of the vagrant strawberry with his fingers. Gripping it by the green crown of leaves and getting sticky confectionery on his skin, he gently lifted it. Placing the rest of the sundae on the bedside table, he kept one hand beneath the fruit to catch the chocolate and vanilla dripping off. Wordlessly, he held it just in front of Seishirouís mouth.

Well. Seishirou was certainly willing to oblige him. Deliberately, without taking his eyes off Subaru, he slowly leaned forward, opened his mouth and gently took the strawberry in his teeth. Closing his lips around the fruit, the sweet chocolate and vanilla confectionery collecting on his tongue, Seishirou caught Subaruís slim fingers in a brief kiss before drawing away. He gave the startled young man a teasing smile as he swallowed.

"Youíre always so cute, Subaru-kun."

The onmyouji stared at Seishirou. "Iím not sixteen anymore," he said softly, placing his hands on his knees. He eyed the trapped Sakurazukamori, from the bare feet, the long legs, past the chest and up the arms entangled in their crimson bindings to his hands. Subaru frowned slightly at the velvet ribbons and how they cut into the skin of the right wrist. Thoughtfully he leaned over Seishirou and took the tail of one the red bows between his sticky fingers. The Sakurazukamori glanced upwards past the black shadow of the onmyouji, wondering what he was trying to accomplish.

Subaru gave the velvet ribbon a sharp tug. Effortlessly the bonds on the right hand gracefully fell away, brushing Seishirouís surprised face as they melted back into the crimson drapes. Slowly the onmyouji loosened the rest of the ties that twined around the Sakurazukamoriís arm. The hand, finally liberated, was held poised above the silken bed covers as Seishirou flexed muscles denied movement for so long.

"You may be older," said Seishirou, looking at Subaru through his fingers, "but still too kind and trusting." With a predatory smile, Seishirou took hold of the other ribbon around his left hand, and pulled.

It didnít come undone. He jerked the ribbon down again, harder this time. Again, it refused to even loosen. Disgusted, Seishirou gave an exasperated sigh and sank back into the pillows, turning his face away from the Sumeragi.

Subaru watched all of this, a slight smile half-hidden in the shadows from the dancing flames gliding over his face. "I could kill you, you know," he said off-handedly as he leaned back in the chair. "Hokuto-chan wouldnít blame me."

Slowly, Seishirou turned back to meet Subaruís green eyes with his own white and bronze. "I suppose I wouldnít blame you either," he replied, carefully keeping his voice level. "But will you?"

The emerald eyes twinkled. "No."

"Why not?"

A soft smile, like sunlight breaking through the clouds. "Because I love you, Seishirou-san."

It was Seishirouís turn to smile. "Subaru-kun . . ."

"Thatís why," quoted Subaru, just loudly enough to override anything the other man might say. "Iíll let you go."

Seishirou chuckled. "Thatís my line." He reached out and took Subaruís right hand in his own. At his touch, the inverted silver pentagram flared into visibility. "And I found you," Seishirou continued, stroking the Sakurazukamori star with his thumb and the palm with his fingers. "You are mine."

Silently, Seishirou called to his mark, feeding it with his power Ė and Subaruís. The glowing inverted pentagram grew brighter and brighter, until a sun of pale blue-white light flooded the room. Subaru instinctively threw up his free arm to shield his eyes, biting his lip against the searing pain, trying to pull away. The Sakurazukamori refused to let him go, and smiled coldly as he let the light die.

"Never forget, Subaru-kun," he whispered. "You are bound to me."

The room returned to some semblance of normalcy with the warmer candle glow. Panting slightly, Subaru stared at Seishirou, who, despite his captivity, was laughing amusedly at him. Like he always did whenever they played this game.

Unexpectedly, Subaru smiled.

"I donít think itís that simple anymore," he said quietly.

Seishirou stopped laughing but still retained his coldly pleasant smile as he quizzically raised one eyebrow. "And what do you mean by that?"

With a swift twist of his arm, Subaru at the same time freed his hand and seized Seishirouís wrist. The cold fire of the star flared dully before sullenly settling to its silver shine. Subaru studied the Sakurazukamori mark that had linked him to Seishirou for nearly seventeen years.

There was a peculiar expression on the Sumeragiís face as he gazed at his branded hand, and it grew more peculiar when he looked at Seishirou. What line of thinking his mind was travelling the Sakurazukamori could only guess at. Subaru wasnít as transparent as he used to be and any reading that Seishirou attempted would be probably as tangible as oneís reflection in water.

Not that he didnít try to probe those thoughts as Subaru reached for the sundae sitting on the bedside table, but what had been so perfectly clear was now clouded, shadows flickering in its depths. And yet the fragile jewel was all the more beautiful for its flaws. There was something dangerously attractive about his prey now, something Seishirou couldnít help but tempt fate with, the way children play with fire.

An odd sensation on back of his hand, the one that Subaru held, abruptly brought Seishirou back to his surroundings. It was an almost ticklish touch that moved over his skin, leaving cool yet strangely warm trails behind it. Unable to see what was the Sumeragi was doing on his blind side Seishirou turned to the right, the pins and needles in his bound limbs forgotten. Even then his handicapped line-of-sight to the hand Subaru claimed was blocked by slender fingers curled around his wrist. He sat up, pulling his hand back as the fingers let him go.

"What on earth are you up to, SubaruĖ"

Seishirou stopped as he held his hand in front of his face.

The five dark lines that composed the pentagram on the back of his right hand seemed to absorb the candlelight, turning the warm brown into near perfect black. It wasnít perfectly symmetrical; the top arm of the star that didnít quite reach the knuckle of his middle finger was ever so slightly longer than the other four. The chocolate collected at the points where the lines crossed, in one place the surface tension unable hold the syrupy liquid back and a sticky trail ever so slowly began to drip, almost like blood.

"As I said," the Sumeragi repeated softly. "I donít think itís that simple anymore."

The knot of discomfort in Seishirouís gut was growing stronger. He stared at the star on his hand as a trickle of chocolate meandered down his wrist, then at the one who had marked him. Sumeragi Subaru, bound to Seishirou so many years ago. Where in those fathomless green eyes was the boy he owned, the boy he was to kill?

Seishirou thought he found him. The younger man sat innocently on his chair, a shy twinkle in his emerald eyes as he licked the chocolate sauce off his fingers.

But then again, maybe he didnít.

Subaru gazed at him.

The candles kept burning.

Abruptly, Subaru stood up. "This is the first chance Iíve had to talk to you," he said, breaking the silence. With three strides, he walked to the end of the bed and began to meticulously extricate Seishirou from his bindings. As each crimson ribbon was untied, it melded seamlessly with the silken sheets. Once those were released, Subaru circled around to the other side of the bed and climbed onto the mattress, leaning over Seishirou as he began to loosen the final bond around his left wrist.

"And," he continued as one by one the velvet ribbons unfurled and slithered back into the blood red curtain above their heads, "itís the first time youíve really listened to me." Seishirou eyed the younger man warily as he took hold of his marked hand again. Using his fingers, Subaru meticulously wiped the chocolate lines of the star, an inversion of the ones he himself bore, away. As the sticky sauce collected on his skin, he licked it off the way children did. He smiled as he took his little finger out of his mouth. "So Iíll let you go."

Seishirou was finally liberated. Subaru sat back on his heels, turned to move away Ė

Ė and without warning found himself flung on top of the silken sheets, staring up into a pair of mismatched eyes with Seishirouís hand around his neck.

The Sakurazukamori smiled almost tenderly as he lay half-sprawled over Subaru. This was the way things were supposed to be. Subaru, trapped beneath, stared unblinkingly up at him though the pulse beneath the Sakurazukamoriís fingers was racing.

"Our bet isnít over, Subaru-kun," Seishirou whispered. The hand that enclosed the pale throat slowly slid down, parting the loose black cloth from Subaruís chest. "I still have to kill you."

"Youíve been saying that for years," murmured Subaru as he looked at the face inches above his own. "So why am I still alive?"

Seishirouís hand came to rest over the Sumeragiís heart, feeling how the organ beat steadily under the flesh. Such energy, such life that refused to die Ė and yet with just one exertion of strength and power Seishirou could end it. The honey-gold eye gazed down at Subaru, questioning.

"I really donít know," Seishirou admitted. He moved closer until his breath was a soft breeze on Subaruís face. "I think itís because I never want this game of ours to end."

The golden glow from the still-burning candles reflected off the liquid green eyes that were already luminescent with their own light. Such beautiful eyes Subaru had. None of the others Seishirou had hunted could ever achieve that degree of expressiveness. That magic of spirit belonged to Subaru alone.

His Subaru.

Subaru-kun.

His fingers trailed up out of the black shirt, up the slender throat following the curvature of the jaw as Seishirou moved to lie more completely over the spare body beneath him. The Sumeragi tensed automatically, drawing in a short breath at the weight that pressed him into the bedspread, but otherwise was still. Cupping Subaruís face in one hand, Seishirou smiled. Then he ever so slowly lowered his head and kissed the young man on the lips.

There was no way that Subaru could prevent himself from trembling, but he didnít resist. His eyes, which had closed as he was suspended in the kiss for one, endless moment, opened as Seishirou drew away.

They remained frozen like that, silent except for their breathing, motionless except for Seishirou caressing Subaruís cheek with his thumb, expressionless except for the way they gazed deep into the eyes of the other. Trying to read the mind behind those eyes, and understanding nothing but . . . a want? Or a need?

Then gently, Subaru reached up to entwine the fingers of his right hand in Seishirouís. The emerald eyes were open, not asking or demanding anything, but merely . . . waiting. Hesitantly, as if wondering at his own daring, Subaru brought the back of Seishirouís hand to his face and lovingly brushed the center of where his star had been with his lips.

Seishirou knew that gesture should make him worry.

But on the other hand, it made his grey life a lot more interesting.

Subaru submitted without protest when Seishirou captured his lips with his own for a second, longer kiss. His eyes closed again, the darkness reducing his world to physical sensations; the beating of his heart and Seishirouís beside it, the alien yet strangely familiar body warm against his own, the faint sweet taste of ice-cream on Seishirouís lips. Slowly Subaruís arms came up to encircle Seishirou, surprising himself at how he pressed the other man closer.

He could feel Seishirouís smile and wandering hands moving over the stretchy barrier of his clothes that in no way hid the lines of the body beneath. He tried to concentrate on those caresses, sometimes strong, sometimes feather-light. It was enough to make Subaru shiver, not recoiling away in fear, but rather, pleasure.

So thatís what it was like, being touched by someone you loved.

Hesitantly his own hands moved down from where they were entangled in Seishirouís hair to glide over the expanse of his back, letting the waves of silken shirt guide him. Breathless, he parted his lips to draw air Ė

Ė and froze, his entire body going taut as Seishirou took advantage of the opening to slide his tongue inside Subaruís mouth. Instinctively he tried to pull away his heart racing, but there was nowhere for him to go. Seishirou pursued him relentlessly, exploring the warm hollows of his mouth. Planting a hand on Seishirouís chest, he pushed the Sakurazukamori away breathing hard, his face flushed with . . . embarrassment?

Seishirou chuckled, letting Subaru go for the moment as he looked down at his partner, seeing in the emerald eyes the innocent boy he had known years ago.

Didnít you expect that, Subaru-kun?

He smiled almost hungrily as he rubbed the palm of his hand in small, lazy circles over Subaruís chest, delighting in the expression on the onmyoujiís face. Then before Subaru could think too long, he descended again and resumed where they had broken off, melding his tongue with Subaruís own as the kiss grew deeper, more passionate.

Thereís more.

Slowly Subaru relaxed, growing accustomed to it, learning how it was done, almost not noticing his or Seishirouís body awakening to the intimacy as he responded shyly in kind, losing himself in the kiss. He felt a pang of regret as Seishirou separated himself, only to close his eyes and arch his neck as Seishirou diverted his attentions to the sensitive area just beneath his chin. Subaru felt the soft lips travelling gently down his throat, the tip of the tongue he had tasted just moments before leaving deliciously moist trails behind it. It was difficult to focus on just one sensation for they assailed him from all sides overwhelming any coherent thought. Subaru savored the lingering taste of Seishirou still on his lips, breathed in his scent mixed with the perfume of the still-burning candles, all these and more, yes, but it was touch that overshadowed everything, hypnotically soothing in its tingling warmth. It was the electric thrill of allowing someone to know him like this, of making his body react in a way that it never had before. The assassinís hands were running down his sides as Subaru reached up to slide his own hand into the collar of the silk shirt to the warm flesh beneath.

Seishirou drew away, gracefully rising to sit astride Subaru who lay there in the crimson sheets, eyes half open, the hand that had been exploring his back reaching out for him. Seishirou took hold of that yearning hand, placing a reassuring kiss on the palm before letting it fall. Sensuously he slid his hands under the black shirt, pushing it away revealing the near pure white skin underneath. His fingers glided up over the gentle hollow of the stomach, over the chest, pushing the cloth away, Subaru writhing in response.

"Seishirou-san . . ."

"Hush now."

Subaru half-rose off the bed, allowing Seishirou to smoothly pull the black top over his head. Absently he let the article of clothing fall onto the silken bedcovers where it slid off onto the floor. He soon forgot about it, attention focused on his senses and the movements of the familiar other as Subaru came up to meet him, wrapping his thin arms around his torso and pulling close, resting his cheek on the skin bared by the half-open shirt. Seishirou turned his face slightly to nuzzle the black hair, long fingers trailing feather-light down the naked back. Subaru shuddered slightly, vaguely remembering a similar touch in the waters of the bath Ė and inevitably, the near drowning that followed . . .

No.

Nervously Subaru brought his hands between their bodies, a part of his mind still lost in the kisses Seishirou was planting behind his ear. With halting, shaking hands, as if not quite sure if such an act was allowed or not, he slowly undid the buttons of the blue-black shirt, the silk, like the ribbons that had held Seishirou prisoner, falling away. With growing confidence, he tugged the rest of the shirt out of the pants . . .

"So adventurous, Subaru-kun?" whispered Seishirou into his ear.

Immediately the hands were pulled back as if burned, the pale milk-white skin blushing furiously. Seishirou chuckled as he took hold of each delicate wrist in each of his hands and held each of them to his face. And smiled slyly into the wide emerald eyes that were presented to him.

"I like it."

Gripping Subaruís wrists firmly, Seishirou deliberately guided them over his own body, sliding them under the silken shirt down to the lower part of his waist. He closed his eyes, letting Subaru go, relishing in the shyly intimate caresses that grew stronger and more amorous with desire. The slim fingers moved against his skin undoing the rest of the buttons, then softly glided up to his shoulders and down his arms as they discarded the shirt. Like the other, it fell away unnoticed as the one who had worn it and the one who had removed it focused their attention on what was revealed beneath.

Seishirou was likewise occupied. He ran his hands over Subaruís back, supporting him as he leaned forward and lowered the other onto the bed again. Face buried in Subaruís chest as he pleasured the nipple between his lips, he brought his hands lower and lower, cradling the curve of the soft flesh there. Hooking his thumbs into the cloth of the pants, he began to pull it down. It came away easily enough and Seishirou ignored Subaruís strangled gasp as he was laid bare. It wasnít an expression of protest, but rather startlement at feeling something that was well outside of his experience.

The thought of being the first and only one to take Subaru like this pleased him greatly.

Seishirou smiled as he sensuously drew his lips down the flat stomach while he divested Subaru from his clothes completely, then ran his ever-busy fingers back up the inside of the young manís legs. He watched Subaru respond to his touch quivering, shallow gasps drawn though parted lips, back arching slightly as Seishirou ardently trailed his fingers over the inside of his thigh and up his length from base to tip.

Subaru moaned.

With greater urgency, Seishirou released himself from the rest of his own clothes then draped himself over Subaru, savoring the feel of the Sumeragi fitting against his body. He devoured the otherís lips again, feeling the warm moist breath inside his mouth, entwining their fingers together and extending Subaruís arms out to either side of him, crucifying him against the blood-red bed. He let them go leaving the arms spread out like that as he held the Sumeragi tightly to himself with wanting. Subaruís arms came up to wrap around his back, one hand feverishly exploring, the other entwined in the dark hair desperately holding onto Seishirou, the only anchor in the flood of passion Subaru was drowning in. Liquid fire seemed to pour through every point of contact, the all- consuming heat almost enough to burn them, flames at their most intense between their lips and where the hardness of their desire pressed into each other. Seishirou was vaguely aware of Subaru moving against him, a curious hand damp with sweat gliding down to shyly touch him, encircle him, caress him. He sighed raggedly, almost losing himself in the erotic thrill, so similar to the rush that came with killing . . .

But it wasnít enough.

"Subaru-kun . . ."

Gently Seishirou reached down to remove Subaruís hand, guiding it out from where it was trapped between their bodies and letting it drift away to embrace him again. Moving slowly, trying not to startle his innocent lover, Seishirou parted the slender legs half-lifting the boy, bringing their bodies even closer together. Subaru gasped over his shoulder, trying to understand that foreign touch that so daringly massaged and explored his virginal intimacy as the other man buried his face in the slender neck, hiding his predatory smile of anticipation, his fingers searching . . . searching . . .

He found it. Before Subaru could realise what was happening, Seishirou thrust himself inside Subaruís body.

Subaru cried out involuntarily in agony. Seishirou embraced him, whispering reassuringly as he tore through what had been unsullied ground. Subaruís hands clenched the bedspread tightly, his whimpers muffled as Seishirou gagged him with a passionate kiss. The Sakurazukamori closed his eyes as they began to move together rhythmically, swept away in a soaring crescendo of flaring intensity. He heard Subaru gasping out his name, but the cry was dim, as if from a great height.

They were about to fall. Subaru clutched at him desperately, his face twisted in a strange expression of pleasure and pain as he tried to comprehend the one who invaded him and the physical heat carrying him along in one roaring storm. Seishirou breathed deeply, held Subaru tightly, driving into his body faster, faster, wanting him, filling him, possessing him utterly, brought them both to bright, shining climax . . .

And with fiery release, killed him.

       

The candles had died long ago, though one last still clung to life. But even that tiny flame was weakening, barely glinting off the one open, honey-gold eye. Seishirou looked at his lover snuggled up against him. The boy Ė no, young man, was sleeping an exhausted sleep of death on his shoulder.

So vulnerable, lying there defenceless in the Sakurazukamoriís arms. If he wanted to, Seishirou could finish what he started. But he wouldnít. The fascinatingly complex puzzle of quiet power, emotion, strength and weakness that made up Subaru was his entirely, and he wasnít finished with it yet.

He wondered if would ever finish it.

In his sleep, Subaruís hand rose out of the silken covers to and came into contact with Seishirouís right. The young man perhaps unconsciously grasped his loverís unresisting hand before falling back into deeper slumber.

And also, thought Seishirou distantly as he felt the slim fingers entwined with his own, the game of ownership wasnít that simple anymore.

Seishirou sighed. The motion caused Subaru to stir slightly and he gently stroked the soft hair until the young man quieted.

The last candle flickered once more, then died, leaving only the sweet scent of sakura behind.


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