Rating: PG to PG-13 for this part
Pairing: Kamui/Subaru, Seishirou/Subaru
Summary: Seishirou bumps into an interesting person at a department store...
Timeline: About two weeks before X11
Disclaimer: Not mine, Clamp's. Just playing.
Warning: Hints of shounen-ai, slightly OOC Kamui? (OTOH, it's between X10 and 11, so he's had a bit of time to recuperate emotionally...)

Home And Heart

Prologue: Birthday Boy

By Beth


Seishirou Sakurazuka realized that one of the most exhausting pursuits in the world was choosing a new watch. Especially if one wanted a piece that kept good time in all circumstances, was toned down enough not to attract unwanted attention, but at the same time not built like a Jeep.

Pick any two, he thought.

He glanced at the tray proffered by the saleswoman and selected another one. He nodded approvingly at the simple design in silver and comfortable buttons, then started fiddling with the functions. He maintained that if he had to consult the instruction to use any function, it would not be worth the bother of learning it.

Temperature... pager capability... switching from a credible illusion of an analogue display to a digital one... calendar...

He noted it was set to September 17th. The date seemed significant somehow, though he could not remember why.

After checking the instruction to make sure the device was also shock-proof, heat-resistant and waterproof (onmyoujitsu being the hazardous line of work that it is), he decided to purchase the watch and get this ordeal over with. The saleswoman timidly tried to interest him in an alarm clock as well, but backed off once he let his genteel mask slip for the duration of just one glare that promised a painful and interesting death.

He shrugged and exited the shop. The place was part of a high-class department store, and in itself little more than a showcase of the more expensive models from a single manufacturer. But several other similar shops in the same complex provided a good comparison, and the store featured several very interesting bookshops as well as a variety of food outlets in the upper-floor food courts. This offered the possibility of his day not being completely wasted...

Walking through the maze of the store, he realized what it was about the date - still two days from the current day - that triggered his memory. It was the anniversary of the first dinner he'd eaten in Subaru's apartment in the year of the bet, the first time Hokuto teased them about their relationship and the first gift he'd given to his lovely prey.

Only much later did he learn that the occasion had not been real, that this date of the twins' birthday had been made up by the Lady Sumeragi in order to protect them, as was habitual with any person of magical power - Seishirou also gave April 1st whenever the date of his birth was required. And then despite himself he had felt not only amused, but also strangely flattered, when during a drive home after a complicated job Subaru had whispered that secret in his ear - "but I like the September one too, it's like having a birthday and a non-birthday" - just before falling asleep, his head on Seishirou's shoulder and the strawberry scent of his hair making the older man wish time could stop for a while.

The Sakurazukamori felt a mischievous smile twist his lips as he mused on whether to use this occasion to torment his Subaru-kun. After all, they had found each other again this year, and giving him a gift for his non-birthday would surely result in an exquisite mixture of anger, pain and almost completely concealed, twisted pleasure on the young man's delicate face. Seishirou had to admit that the new, mature Subaru was even more fun to tease than his teenage incarnation had been - now he could not predict his reactions completely, nor the emotions radiating from the sweet onmyouji. Theirs was a game he wouldn't be getting tired of any time soon...

He stopped suddenly. While he mused, his eyes had roamed freely over the windows of the shops lining the walls, alighting on an interesting color combination or a pretty bauble. But he could have sworn... could it be-?

He backed up about two meters and peered through the window of a bookshop that styled itself 'occult'. He shook his head ruefully - he had not been mistaken. There was the Seals' Kamui, head bowed as he browsed through a book and lips cutely pursed as he pondered something. Too much fun to be missed, really.

Seishirou walked quietly into the shop and stood directly behind the violet-eyed boy.

"See something interesting?" he asked, peering over Kamui's shoulder.

The boy yelped and jumped slightly, then turned toward the Sakurazukamori. He raised his hands and concentrated his energy, but Seishirou caught his wrists in a vise-like grip before the deadly blast could be released.

"Not in public," the assassin whispered.

Kamui spluttered. "Let go of me!" he protested, with an equally muted voice.

"Oh my," Seishirou sighed dramatically. "I must be getting old if you prefer the company of-" he quickly snatched the book from Kamui's hand- "'Catholic Exorcisms through the Ages' to mine. By the way, I didn't know you were interested in exorcisms. This seems more like my Subaru-kun's territory."

"It's for him," Kamui muttered grimly. "If I can't find anything better." The boy seemed on the verge of beating himself up for conversing with the Dragon of Earth.

"I think we should have a word then, Kamui-chan." Seishirou smiled. "Since when are you buying presents for my Subaru-kun?" He placed a seemingly friendly hand on Kamui's shoulder.

"He's not yours!" the boy hissed. "And it's just-"

"His birthday?"

A pair of violet eyes blinked cluelessly at him. "How do you know?"

"When it comes to Subaru-kun, I know everything." Seishirou dropped the friendly smile. "The question is, how do you know?"

Kamui blushed slightly. "I saw a birthday card from his grandmother in his room."

"His room?"

The color of Kamui's cheeks started to seriously clash with his eyes. "He helps me with my schoolwork!" he protested.

"Does he?" Seishirou mused. Then he smiled again. "Subaru-kun won't like the book. He's got enough trouble with his work as it is."

"Then what would he like?" Kamui asked defensively.

Seishirou looked around with barely hidden contempt. "Nothing from this place. Come on."

As they left, Kamui noticed that the saleswoman gave them a strange look.

"What's that about?" he asked Seishirou quietly, indicating the woman with a nod.

"Oh dear," the older man sighed. "I guess I'm too old to publicly flirt with pretty boys your age any more..."

He could have sworn he saw steam coming out of Kamui's ears.


Thirty minutes later Kamui refused to be dragged any further.

"I've had enough of it," he announced, stopping in the middle of another passage. "Why do you care if he likes my gift, anyway?"

For once, Seishirou turned serious. "Subaru-kun might need someone he can trust, someday. I think you might be that person."

Before Kamui could react, the smile came back to the older man's face.

"Just this one shop!" he said cheerfully, tugging the boy towards a bookshop. "I've got a feeling we'll find the perfect gift here."

Inside, the air was slightly scented with the unmistakable aroma of old print. Kamui approached one of the shelves and started reading the titles on the spines.

"They're all in English," he said, puzzled.

"Yes, this place specializes in second-hand English books," Seishirou answered, browsing through another part of the shop. Then he stopped and beckoned to Kamui. "I think I've found it," he grinned.

The leather-bound tome in Seishirou's hand said, "Songs of Innocence and Experience".

"William Blake," Seishirou explained. "With original illustrations by the author, too. I think Subaru-kun will like it very much." He opened the book and read softly:

"O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:

"Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy."

He noticed Kamui's puzzled gaze and flipped the pages until he reached the dictionary of archaisms at the end. The boy scowled.

"I know English, just - not this one!" he protested.

"Subaru-kun won't have any problems with it," Seishirou smiled with fond remembrance. "I've seen him reading sixteenth-century English manuscripts with ease."

Kamui shrugged. "I'm not sure..."

Seishirou put the book away. "Then let's eat."


The assassin rubbed his ears ruefully. "Please watch the volume of your voice. And I said let's eat, because you look like you could use some food. Your stomach has been grumbling for the last twenty minutes. The food courts are on the upper floor."

Kamui seemed doubtful, but allowed himself to be dragged out of the bookshop and up the escalator. Once in the food courts, he made a beeline for the sushi bar.

"Going traditional, Kamui-chan?" Seishirou asked once the boy had ordered and waited for his meal.

"I got tired of Sorata's Korean," Kamui muttered. "And I don't remember giving you permission to call me 'Kamui-chan'."

"But it sounds so cute!" the assassin protested.

Kamui contemplated blowing his companion up, but decided this would upset his appetite. Instead he settled for an indistinct growl as he grabbed his sushi and headed for a table.

"Not that fast." Seishirou took hold of the boy's arm again, despite vehement (though muted) protests. "I haven't chosen yet." He walked over to a MacDonald's outlet and read the price list, then the promotion details. "Two for the price of one before three p.m.?" He glanced at his watch. "Looks like I still have a few minutes... too bad I don't have anyone to share it with. You wouldn't allow yourself to be seduced by the evils of American fast-food, would you, Kamui-chan?"

"It's already three p.m.?" Kamui asked, suddenly nervous. "Uh... I'll have to go soon!"

"So eager to leave my company?" The assassin ruffled the boy's hair playfully.

Then slim fingers closed around his wrist, bringing his hand down. Kamui yelped as the newcomer's other arm pushed him away protectively.

Seishirou looked into a pair of angry green eyes and smiled ruefully. "Jealous, Subaru-kun?"

"It's not what it looks like!" Kamui added, then blushed as he realized what he had just said.

"I hope so," Subaru said softly.

Seishirou mused that his prey's voice was still as melodic as ever. He twisted his captive hand and caressed Subaru's palm, bringing it slowly to his lips. "You don't have any reasons to be jealous, Subaru-kun," he whispered.

Subaru's hand fell away from his wrist as if burned. The Sakurazukamori used this break to turn swiftly towards the MacDonald's counter and order the two-for-one special with vegetarian spring rolls from a wide-eyed waiter. The other two waited quietly until the waiter assembled his order, but the looks Subaru kept giving the assassin did not bode well.

The trio sat down at a table. Subaru started to say something, but was promptly shut up when Seishirou put a french-fry in his mouth. The green-eyed man eyed it suspiciously, then ate it.

"What's this about?" he demanded.

"You both need to eat," Seishirou explained. "Just look at Kamui-chan."

The Chosen One had apparently decided that the best way to avoid explaining himself to Subaru would be by having his mouth perpetually full.

"Kamui-chan?" Subaru asked.

"Since I call you Subaru-kun, and he's so much younger, it seemed a logical choice."


Seishirou put a spring roll in Subaru's mouth and took the opportunity to brush his fingers across the younger onmyouji's lips. "Eat up, Subaru-kun. You're too thin - not that I don't find it quite fetching, but it just won't do for you to die of starvation."

Pain flashed across the green-eyed man's face. "Since when do you care?" he muttered after swallowing the food.

The Sakurazukamori smiled. "I don't."

He got up and left the food courts, disappearing into the crowd. Subaru stared after him until he disappeared. Then the onmyouji felt another spring roll being pushed into his hand.

"You finish eating, I'll be back in a minute!" Kamui said quickly, then rushed down the escalator.

Subaru noted that he now had a double meal to get through instead of the single cup of tea he had planned. He considered throwing it all discreetly away, but he had a strange feeling Seishirou would choose just this moment to reappear.

Two floors down, the Sakurazukamori was looking through the wares in yet another shop. He thought with certain satisfaction that he had found the perfect gift.


Two days later, two figures were walking through a park to a subway station.

"Thank you for the dinner and the gift, Kamui," Subaru said. He smiled slightly, his face unused to the expression. "How did you know I liked Blake?"

"Uh, lucky guess," Kamui smiled, running a few steps in front of his friend to hide his blush.

"You could say that a little bird told you," an unseen voice suggested.

A swirl of sakura petals filled the air between the two Dragons of Heaven. Kamui raised his hands to call a spell, but hesitated when he saw Subaru standing calmly, not even raising a kekkai to protect the area from the assassin in front of him.

Seishirou was resplendent in a black Armani suit, and his right hand caressed Subaru's cheek.

"Happy non-birthday, Subaru-kun," he said. He placed his gift, bound with a pink satin ribbon, in the younger man's hands, which closed around it reflectively.

"Seishirou-san..." Subaru whispered.

"I like your eyes," the Sakurazukamori said. "They always show the truth about your soul. Too bad they don't see the truth. You might find it... interesting."

He faded, and so did the sakura petals.

"Are you alright?" Kamui demanded.

Subaru stared at the gift Seishirou had given him.

It stared back.

Then it meowed pathetically.

He stroked the kitty absent-mindedly until the little white furball started to purr in delight.

"Do you think Imonoyama-san minds animals on campus?" he asked.




Author's Notes:
The department store is made up, and based on the "Galeria Mokotow" and "Sadyba Best Mall" in my home town, though those don't have sushi available in the food courts (too bad...)
I must admit to making up Subaru's 'non-birthday' in desperation as well *sigh* I just couldn't find any other appropriate date between X10 and 11... did Clamp have to tell us his actual birthday? Anyway, no real significance to the date unless you count the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939.
The poem is William Blake's Song 39, "The Sick Rose", from the Songs of Experience. The average reader might know this poet from his "Tyger" -- as in "Tyger, tyger, burning bright / in the forests of the night"


In the next chapter: Sunshine 60 is falling, but will fate take its course? Watch out, Subaru, the outcome can change in a Blink of an Eye!

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