Author's Notes: This random one-shot is all Lilack’s fault. We were chatting at Uni one afternoon about how it would have been great if Hokuto had been the thirteenth head of the Sumeragi, Seishirou was just a vet, all Subaru had to worry about was homework, and everything went downhill from there. The title says everything – what should have been for Subaru, Hokuto and Seishirou, but never was. And I keep reminding you that it’s a dream. In other words, not real.
A Perfect World
Subaru and Seishirou looked questionably at the platter Hokuto had placed on the bench-top in front of them.
“Uh, Nee-san,” asked Subaru, sixteen-year-old voice hesitant. “What is it?”
Seishirou leaned in for a closer inspection of the as-of-yet nameless dish from behind his elegant glasses. “Yes, Hokuto-chan,” he said. “What is it?”
Hokuto, cutting a dramatic figure in her own version of a chef’s outfit (black mini-skirt, extremely frilly white apron, stockings with suspenders and chef’s hat perhaps twice the normal size) lifted a delicate hand to her mouth and laughed. “Omelette du!”
Subaru’s huge emerald green eyes blinked twice. “What’s that?”
Seishirou turned to the boy seated beside him. “It’s a cheese omelette,” he explained. “It’s French.” His honey-gold eyes warmed as he slid an arm around the boy’s slim shoulders. “The language of love, Subaru-kun.”
Subaru turned the colour of a tomato. “S-S-Seishirou-san!” he stammered.
Hokuto laughed again, the sound ringing off the walls. “Ohohohoho, don’t try anything yet, Sei-chan! Your future sister-in-law is still present!”
Subaru turned even redder if that was possible. “H-H-Hokuto-chan!”
The cook winked. “But let’s leave the games til later. For now, I want you to try this dish and tell me what you think!”
Her twin brother eyed the plate in front of him as Hokuto dumped a rather large slice of egg-and-cheese in the middle of it. “Er, Nee-san, that’s a bit much.”
Hokuto waved him off. “What are you talking about?” she chided, scooping a helping onto Seishirou’s plate. The vet poked at it with his fork. “You’re a growing boy, Subaru, so you need to eat! Otherwise how are you going to last through your honeymoon? Especially with a man like Sei-chan for a husband!”
There was a puff of steam out of Subaru’s ears. Seishirou took a wary mouthful of the yellow mess, then a second with more enthusiasm. “My compliments to the chef,” he said, pleasantly surprised.
Hokuto beamed. “Thank you, Sei-chan!”
Subaru by now had recovered his proper colouring. To escape any more embarrassment, he hastily ate a tiny helping of the omelette. It was actually palatable. “This is great, Hokuto-chan!” he said with a guileless smile.
Hokuto plopped down in her own chair, her plate filled with the rest of the dish. “Why of course it is, I cooked it!” She stabbed a chunk of her cooking with a fork and put it in her mouth, then chewed thoughtfully. “Hmm, I think I should have added more cheese.”
Seishirou twirled a long strand of melted cheese around his knife before it dripped onto the bench-top in Hokuto’s kitchen. “Somehow I don’t think so.”
Subaru was uncharacteristically eating all his dinner, the companionable atmosphere setting his angelic face aglow. “Arigato, Hokuto-chan!”
The rest of the dinner evening passed in perfect harmony – excepting of course, the occasional turn-Subaru-as-red-as-possible comments from Hokuto and Seishirou.
Hokuto tossed a little in her pink fluffy bed, hovering on the verge of slumber. Printed bunny rabbits hopped over her quilt. There was something needling at her, something about cheese . . .
Cheese gave you dreams, didn’t it?
Hokuto looked up from her desk. The seven-foot long bright-yellow scarf she was wearing in addition to the normal CLAMP Campus uniform made her stand out from the crowd of students like a sunflower amongst daisies, which made it easy for the boy coming in her direction to find her.
“Ah, Kizuki-san, hello!” she greeted, recognising the student. She stood up, collecting school-books together in her bright red bag. Outside, it was snowing pink sakura blossoms. “Are you going home now?”
The boy nodded vigorously, long blond hair falling into his eyes. “Uh, yeah I was,” he said. He seemed rather nervous. “Uh, I was wondering, you take the train to Shinjuku right?”
Hokuto beamed as she checked her bag’s inventory. English books, maths file, latest fashion magazine, make-up, pencil case, ceremonial knife, pager, ofuda, yup, she was set. “I take it when I’m going straight home, but I’m not going straight home today,” she said, hefting her bag onto her shoulder.
“I can take your bag if you like,” offered Kizuki, reaching out before he knew he was doing it.
Hokuto looked at him with a beaming smile. “What a gentleman you are, Kizuki-san!” she said, not letting her bag go. “It’s a pleasure to know that the word ‘manners’ is still in the male vocabulary.”
Kizuki blinked as they stepped straight from the classroom out onto a suburban street. “I’ll take that as a compliment,” he said, falling into pace beside her. Noticing this, Hokuto looked at him with narrowed green eyes. “Are you walking me home, Kizuki-san?” she asked.
The boy blushed. “Uh, yeah I guess I am.”
The girl’s eyes narrowed even more. “Are you trying pick me up?”
Kizuki spluttered and turned red. A bunny crossed the road in front of them. “I-I-I-I mean-”
Hokuto squealed. “Aw, that’s sooooooooo cute!!! You’re like my brother!”
The other student blinked. “Huh?”
Hokuto spun on one high-heel to look at him. “If you’re going to pick me up, do it properly!”
“Take me out to an expensive restaurant! Go for long walks along the beach! Ask about me! Meet my family!”
Kizuki sweatdropped. “I think I’ll ask about you first.”
“Great!” Hokuto clapped her hands together. “Now what do you want to know?”
“Uh, what do you do in your spare time?”
The girl tapped a finger against her lip. “Well, when I’m not studying or cooking, I’m playing counsellor to vagrant spirits, trying to shove my twin brother into bed with my best friend, or designing clothes!”
Her companion blinked again. On the side of the road, a girl sang of love in a husky alto voice. “Um, what do you mean by playing counsellor to spirits and trying to shove your brother into bed with your best friend exactly?”
Hokuto skipped airily above the road. “I’m the thirteenth head of the Sumeragi onmyouji clan that has been protecting Japan for centuries!”
“As for the thing with my brother, well every girl needs an ambition!” She winked at him. “Besides, Subaru and Sei-chan look so good together!”
“They’re perfect! Subaru’s so quiet and shy and delicate, and Sei-chan’s such a strong and caring – not to mention drop-dead gorgeous – gentleman!”
Blink blink. “W-w-wait a sec,” said Kizuki, back-pedalling his bicycle. “This Sei-chan you want to put your brother in bed with is a guy?!”
Hokuto leapt onto a pedestal and shoved a bread-knife holding fist into the air. A spotlight from heaven fell upon her. “That’s right! I, Sumeragi Hokuto, as the thirteenth head of the Sumeragi clan and his older sister, will see them together!” And she let loose with a maniacal laugh that made the very earth tremble.
Kizuki backed away from her, v-e-r-y slowly. “S-s-s-scary . . .”
The silvery laugh rang on and on and on and on and on . . .
Hokuto sat straight up in bed. She looked around the darkened bedroom, hair standing up. A stuffed bunny fell off her pillow onto the floor.
“That was weird,” she said.
The bunny on the floor stared unblinkingly up at her. Hokuto shrugged.
And she went back to sleep.
A few meters across the corridor, Subaru curled a little tighter around his pale blue pillow, black gloves twisted in his quilt, barely awake. The wind slipped through partly opened balcony door, ruffling the curtains and Subaru’s soft black hair.
It sent him to sleep.
Subaru looked up at the high-pitched shout and smiled. He wore a bright red short jacket over the black winter CLAMP Campus uniform, forced upon him by his sister that morning. “Hello, Hokuto-chan,” he said with a shining smile. “Finished work already?”
Hokuto slowed to walk beside her brother on the footpath. “Oh yeah, finished about an hour ago. Pretty simple job, all I had to do was explain to the ghost that it wasn’t worth hanging around here just to scare people. In fact, I had time to go get a snack afterwards!”
Subaru laughed, huge green eyes luminous. “So you’ll be home for dinner tonight?”
“Nope!” Hokuto swept her arms out to catch the white sakura petals floating down. “I’ve got another job!”
Subaru’s face fell. “Oh,” was all he said.
Hokuto grinned. “Don’t worry, Subaru, I won’t leave you to eat alone. Sei-chan will come over to keep you company!”
The blush that diffused over Subaru’s face was absolutely adorable. In a park across the road, a little girl sat on a swing hanging from the sky. “I-i-it’s ok, you don’t have to worry,” he stammered. “I’ve got lots of homework to do tonight!”
Hokuto looked at her brother. “You’re really studying hard, aren’t you,” she observed, waving a hand at his book-laden school-bag.
“Uh huh.” Along a garden wall, a tabby cat paced towards them with a dignified air. It stopped as it came to the Sumeragi twins, and let Subaru rub its head with his bare fingers. “My teacher says that if I keep working hard, I’ll definitely make into Tokyo University to study veterinary science.”
“That’s great!” Hokuto’s fluoro-orange skirt flared out in the blue wind. “You and Sei-chan, working together in the vet clinic. It’s like a shojo manga!” She laughed loudly, pink bubbles and flowers floating behind her.
Subaru sweatdropped as a passing school-girl with two thick plaits looked questioningly at them. “Ho-Hokuto-chan!”
His sister ignored the attention they were getting. “Anyway, I’d better be off if I want to be on time for the job!” She turned into a side-street, waving madly. “Don’t wait up for me!” she called. “And no, you and Sei-chan don’t have to behave yourselves tonight!”
Subaru turned bright red. “Ho-Hokuto-chan!” he squeaked. His manic sister didn’t hear him, having already disappeared up the street in a shower of golden sparkles.
Left alone on the footpath, Subaru slowly continued on his way. Snow-white sakura blossoms fluttered down from the sky, only to disappear as they touched the ground. Then without any dramatics whatsoever, he was there. Adjusting his school-bag, he opened the door to the veterinary clinic and stepped straight into the consultation room.
Subaru’s smile was truly breathtaking as he put his bag down. “I’m sorry if I came in while you’re busy, Seishirou-san,” he said almost timidly.
Seishirou shook his head, dark mane of hair falling into his glasses. “No, I was just finishing.” He gestured to a small furry form lying on the bench in front of him. “Come see! It’s safe to touch the kitten now.”
“Kitten?” Green eyes wide, Subaru came over and stared at the latest patient. “Kawaii . . .” he breathed.
Seishirou looked at him warmly. “Do you want to pick her up?”
The expression Subaru wore spoke of more delight than any words could. “Can I really?”
“Go ahead. Be gentle,” the vet added automatically but needlessly, watching Subaru slowly take the kitten into his hands as if handling glass. The kitten licked his fingers; the boy’s face lit up in a shining smile and he didn’t move away as Seishirou came to stand behind him.
Subaru cuddled the kitten close. “Thank you, Seishirou-san,” he said shyly, looking up into the man’s amber eyes.
The vet gazed at him as if he was the only person in the world. “For you, I’d do anything,” Seishirou whispered, just loud enough for Subaru to hear.
Subaru closed his eyes as he felt Seishirou’s arms come to embrace him from behind, strong hands holding his wrists as he held the kitten. Dreamily, he leaned backwards, letting his weight rest in the warm shelter Seishirou provided, as the kitten purred in his grasp.
“Seishirou-san . . .”
Subaru realised he was awake and staring up at the ceiling of his bedroom. Slowly, he sat up, bed-sheets slipping down his shoulders.
“That was . . . strange . . .”
The clock on the bedside table said two a.m. Subaru looked at it for a moment, then yawned. He had a job in the morning.
Snuggling back into the middle of the mattress, Subaru pulled the covers tightly around him and went back to sleep.
In Shinjuku, Seishirou lay in bed and stared out the window of his apartment watching the lights go by. A white shirt sat in the sink; he had gotten most of the blood out of it, but it he probably should take it to the dry-cleaners.
But that could wait til morning.
He closed his eyes and waited for sleep to carry him away.
Seishirou looked up from the limp body of a puppy that had just expired on his operating table. “Hello, Subaru-kun,” the vet said softly. “Come in.”
Hesitantly, perhaps sensing his mood, Subaru closed the door behind him. “Seishirou-san?” he asked, voice trembling. “Is something wrong?”
The man sighed as the boy came to his side and looked at the dead animal with an expression something like wonder. “No, nothing much,” he replied. “But I lost him.”
Almost fearfully, Subaru reached out to stroke the still-soft fur. “I’m sorry,” he said, tears welling up in his eyes. Seeing this, Seishirou quickly shoved his own disappointment away and took the boy by his slim shoulders.
“Don’t be sorry, Subaru-kun,” he said gently. “You shouldn’t apologise for something that isn’t your fault.”
Seishirou cut off the boy’s protest as he caught the green eyes in a tender gaze. “I don’t want to make you cry, Subaru-kun. Please don’t do this.”
Subaru looked at him mutely. Seishirou kept his eyes on Subaru’s, silently willing the unhappiness he saw in the boy’s face to go away.
Finally, it did. “Ok,” said Subaru reluctantly, shoulders drooping. “Whatever you say, Seishirou-san.”
The vet smiled, pleased. “Now that’s more like it.” He turned and took off his operating gloves, throwing them in the bin. “So what did you do in school today?”
The change of subject brightened Subaru even more. “Oh, today we had a field trip to the zoo for Art!” he said, face lighting up at the memory. “Hokuto-chan couldn’t go because she had a job, but she said she didn’t mind, because she’d rather wear her art than just look at it. Anyway, my group went to see the birds, and there was this huge dark eagle there that just stared at me and he didn’t move at all which made it much easier to sketch him and he had these golden eyes that reminded me of Seishirou-san, which is why I chose to sketch him, and-” Subaru broke off suddenly. “I-I’m sorry for rambling on so,” he stammered, mortified. “You probably don’t want to hear all of it.”
Seishirou finished cleaning his instruments and pulled a white cloth over the dead animal, hiding it from sight. “No, no, not at all,” he said quickly before the boy’s face could fall any further. “I want to hear all of it. Because I care about you.”
There was a loud crash as the mirror behind Seishirou broke for no apparent reason. Subaru looked at the scattering of shiny pieces at Seishirou’s feet without surprise. “Be careful,” he said.
“Oh dear.” Shaking his head, the vet bent down and began to pick up the glass shards. “No, don’t come help, Subaru-kun,” he said even before the boy had taken a step. “I don’t want you to cut yourself.”
Reluctantly, Subaru stayed away. Instead, he sat on the edge of the bench and began fiddling with Seishirou’s name-tag there. It seemed that there had been more letters on the end of the word ‘Sakurazuka’ at one point; someone had scratched them out and all Subaru could see was a dot for an ‘i’. “I worry about Nee-san sometimes, being the head of the clan and all,” Subaru remarked. “I don’t know how she manages to work so hard.”
“She enjoys a challenge,” said Seishirou, carefully picking up a large shard of glass. Looking in it, he could only see his left eye. “Does she have a job this evening?”
The sixteen-year old youth nodded. “Uh huh. Hokuto-chan didn’t want me to stay home alone so she told me to come over.”
Seishirou put the glass in the bin and stood up. “Is that the only reason why you came here?” he asked softly. “Because Hokuto-chan told you to?”
Subaru began stammering something that sounded vaguely negative. Brushing his hands off on his doctor’s coat, Seishirou paced over to the boy and placed a silencing finger on Subaru’s lips. “Shh,” he said gently. “You don’t need to excuse yourself to me.”
Verdant green eyes gazed at him with child-like expectation. Outside the window, a storm of red sakura blossoms whisked by on the wind, darkening the room. Seishirou ignored them, leaning in closer. “So in other words, you have the entire afternoon free today?” he asked, voice deceptively casual.
Beneath his hand, Subaru nodded. The vet smiled.
Slowly, Seishirou removed his finger from Subaru’s lips, then, with almost painful slowness, covered the boy’s mouth with his own. Subaru flinched only slightly in surprise, but that was forgotten as the kiss turned sweeter and they leaned in deeper, not even noticing as behind them, a little bird flew out from under the white sheet, leaving nothing but azure feathers behind.
Seishirou jerked himself awake. Pulse rapid as if from a fight, he frowned as he realised it had been a dream.
One hell of a weird dream, though.
Calming himself, he searched the shadows of his bedroom with narrowed eyes as if seeking some reverie-weaving spectre there. There was nothing of course. With a sigh, Seishirou flopped back on his pillows, ruefully realising that he wasn’t going to able to get back to sleep.
Dreams were such irritating things.
“Hokuto-chan,” sighed Seishirou, “I think I’ll cook dinner next time.
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