Sakura and Snow

Drift II - Flashback


By Natalie Baan



Seishirou pounded up the apartment building's stairs, taking them two at a time. At the landing of his floor, he swung around the bannister's corner and tossed his head, shaking free the damp layer of snow that hadn't had time to melt since he'd come indoors.

With exuberant good humor, he grinned.

What an extraordinary thing...the snow had been falling since almost two days ago, a hard, heavy winter storm that enshrouded the city. Yet despite the immense flakes' thickness and their whirling speed, they still maintained a feathery delicateness: plumes of white filling the air, spectacular and haunting. A sustained fall like this was rare in Tokyo, and Seishirou, out to pick up the newspapers, had taken his time, enjoying the exhilaration of it. But now, having had enough of wind and wet ankles, he was ready to watch the novelty from indoors for a while. If it let up later, though, perhaps he'd coax Subaru into going for a stroll around the neighborhood.

Seishirou swept more snow from his shoulders, and taking the plastic-wrapped papers out from under his arm, he shook them off as well. Pushing open the fire door, he stepped into the hall. The thought of a walk in the snow with Subaru, of watching the other's simple delight in such a thing and the attractive picture that it would make, was deeply appealing, almost as much as the prospect of nestling inside together and finding creative ways to stay warm and cozy on this cold, grey-white day.

The rest of the afternoon stretched out vacant before them. Surely there'd be plenty of time to get in both.

His smirk widening further, Seishirou strode down the hall. Really, he was in unusually high spirits today. It was something about the snow, perhaps: that soft dance, lovely but inexorable, a hypnotic, swirling grace that hid the fatal kiss of cold. He found it both familiar and strange, like his killing storm of sakura but not a part of him at all. That almost-recognition stirred in him a mild excitement, the feeling of facing something that might offer some opposition, that might contest him intriguingly, reflecting his own abilities back at himself...although intellectually he was aware that there was no real power behind the snow, the sensation of encounter remained.

Actually, he supposed, it was rather like the way that he experienced Subaru.

Reaching his apartment at last, he gave his key a quick twist in the lock and pushed open the door. "I'm home, Subaru-kun!" he called, stepping lightly inside. He detected Subaru's presence at once, of course, somewhere out of sight in the other room. Dropping his papers onto the stand beneath the wall phone, he exchanged shoes for slippers and shrugged out of his coat and scarf. As he was hanging them up, he noticed that Subaru's emanations hadn't moved. There had been no response to his call, in fact, and all the lights in the apartment were off. Turning, he registered the dimness more completely, the day's vague grayness scarcely reaching to where he stood in the front room. But through the bedroom doorway he glimpsed a warm, living flicker and caught the faint aromas of incense and subtly scented wax.


His mouth curving predaciously into an appreciative smile, Seishirou stole up onto the floor. Soundless in house shoes, he stalked the open doorway, anticipating what surprise might be awaiting him there. He came up to one side of the jamb, listening to the sibilance of snow as it was whisked against the window's glass; he slid around the corner slowly, and then stopped short.

Candles on floor and dresser cast their burnished glow across the room, and a curl of fragrant smoke bloomed from thin wands of smoldering incense. The picture window opened onto cloudy nothingness outside, like a painting of a blizzard through which distant black shadows of buildings could vaguely be seen. Subaru was sitting on the foot of the bed, eyes closed and legs drawn up into the lotus posture. Back perfectly straight and head bowed slightly, he remained motionless but for the measured rise and fall of his breath. His hands, resting on his knees, were offered palm upward, forefingers touching thumbs; his face was expressionless and quite serene. Gazing at Subaru, Seishirou let his head thunk gently against the doorframe.


Expectations thwarted, he considered his remaining options. Sitting in consummate stillness, Subaru looked prepared to contemplate the ineffable until dinner, something the onmyouji could probably do as readily as another person might watch TV. And although it was very tempting to slip up beside him and ripple those invitingly tranquil waters with a bit of amorous distraction, Subaru would be upset at having his practice disturbed. He wouldn't say a word, of course, but that distress would linger, another small weight on his existence, whereas if Seishirou restrained himself there might be a worthwhile reward for his "consideration." Contented and at ease, Subaru could be quite a charming companion, while there was frankly very little attraction in making him more melancholy than he was already inclined to be.

With a put-upon sigh, Seishirou surveyed his lover's delectable and temporarily inaccessible body. Ah, well--a trivial privation like this would be good for him, he supposed: a test of his will. Turning, he wondered how to take his mind off his frustration, and a low, soft whistle, liquid as a pearl of rain, broke the silence.

Startled, Seishirou glanced back over his shoulder. Subaru's pose was unaltered; the candle flames wavered unforthcomingly. Easing into the bedroom, Seishirou peered into the shadowy ceiling corners, an expression of mild bewilderment sliding over his face. "What was that?" he mused. "It sounded like a bird." As he glanced about the room, he darted a sharp look toward Subaru. Subaru's lashes remained lowered, but was that a barely concealed twitch of the onmyouji's lips? "Hmm." For a second Seishirou stood in front of the doorway, hands in pockets, and then he shrugged. "Very strange." He turned as if to go, and there was that faint trill again, soaring as though in pursuit of him. He halted once more.

"A bird? A little bird...well," Seishirou murmured, "there's only one thing to be done with birds."

Whirling into a crouch, he pounced.


Subaru untangled those long legs of his in a flash and rolled aside. He almost made it off the bed before Seishirou crashed down on him. Grinning, Seishirou wrestled Subaru back to the center of the mattress and pinned him there. He gnawed along one slender arm to the shoulder, making the most ridiculous growling noises, then burrowed into the ticklish spot on the side of Subaru's neck as Subaru yelped and squirmed underneath him. Suddenly Seishirou stopped and sat upright. As Subaru blinked at him, he picked a long, white, illusory feather from between his teeth and stared at it in vast perplexity. Subaru groaned.


Twisting, Subaru got both hands behind his head and yanked a pillow out from underneath the covers. He hit Seishirou across the chest with it, and then tried once more to scramble off the bed. Seishirou caught him around the waist and tumbled them both to the mattress, taking a few more hits from the pillow before getting a proper grip on it. Then it was a brief, pleasurable exertion to wrest the pillow out of Subaru's hands and trap the other onmyouji beneath him, both wrists held firmly above Subaru's head. Pushing himself up on his arms, he tossed the hair from his eyes and stared down the very short distance into his captive's face, a smile slowly curving his lips. He could feel Subaru's stomach move against his as they breathed, and as he pressed himself hard to his prey, groin to groin and thigh to thigh, electric light and heat erupted from where their bodies touched to become a fulgurant whiteness at the back of his brain. He was ready to take the game to its forgone conclusion, his body already fired to arousal, when a realization began to occur to him.

How was he going to get their clothes off--or at least open--without letting his catch escape?

As if intuiting his thought, Subaru tensed against his grasp, and then relaxed, settling once more onto the bedspread. Subaru's eyes flickered upward to meet his with no submission at all in their depths. They sparkled at him instead, bright with an unspoken dare and almost gleefully erotic promise. Seishirou considered the challenge that lay before him, and then grinned avidly.

The afternoon, which had begun quite pleasantly, was about to become even better.


* * * * *


They lay against each other, a remnant warmth still trapped between them, and the gold light of the candles chased the younger man's fair skin, kissing shadows at his throat, side, and thigh. Propping himself on one arm, Seishirou let his eye roam possessively over the territory that his hands and mouth had already explored. He was enjoying the vision of Subaru half-dozing against him, and the feel of it, too: the way hip fit to hip and the way Subaru's leg was drawn up along his with an easy, almost tender familiarity. His hand cupped the low swell of Subaru's chest, and he began to move his thumb in lazy circles over and around Subaru's nipple. Without opening his eyes, Subaru turned his head in response, arching his neck back slightly, and the terminus between light and shadow realigned itself, tracing that changing contour.

The enticements of having a young, beautiful, and compliant lover, Seishirou mused.

Although it's true you're not nearly as compliant as you used to be--and I must remember, Subaru-kun, not to underestimate you. You aren't the bemused, naive child that you once were, long ago when I first pursued you. That boy who wouldn't have grasped a game of seduction, much less have thought to begin one....

Indeed, I'm constantly surprised by how much you've changed.

But I still can glimpse him inside you at times: a mysterious light that draws me like a flame.

I wonder what it would have been like to have had you all those years ago, when there was nothing else to you but that purity.

And as the thought rooted itself in Seishirou's mind, it sent forth subtle branches and leaves, until gradually, almost unexpectedly it blossomed into inspiration. Even as the possibility was unfolding before him, he was making his decision to act. Sinking down as though relaxing into somnolence at last, he brought his lips to Subaru's forehead, and as they brushed Subaru's skin and the fine strands of hair that lay across it, he drew his intention over his lover like a blanket.

Go to sleep now, Subaru-kun.

Without haste, Seishirou raised himself again. Subaru seemed no more still than before, but the soundless rhythm of inhale and exhale had deepened, and the body pressed against his was becoming slack. One hand lay curled up on the pillow by Subaru's head, its fingers half-unfurling as they relaxed. Leaning backward, Seishirou unwound himself from the drowsing onmyouji, freeing himself with care, and as he lifted the other limp hand from his hip he sat up slowly, moving with practiced stealth despite the success of his spell. Satisfaction stirred in him at this old game of secrecy, a familiar, almost nostalgic little throb of warmth. Heedless of whatever he might be planning to do, Subaru stretched out next to him, a beautiful, spare collection of limbs on display. Subaru's thin torso angled toward him invitingly, the slender, crowned shaft between the legs fallen over to one side, like a tired flower. Seishirou toyed idly with Subaru's fingers before setting that arm down too, placing it at an attractive angle that balanced out the composition. Yes, it was exactly as it had been during that year of their bet, all those times when he'd magicked Subaru into unconsciousness, freeing himself to do as he'd liked. Subaru's body lay unknowing, like a pretty, naked doll that could be manipulated into any position that he chose, with Subaru, upon waking, none the wiser as to what had been done.

But I think we can do better than that.

Seishirou grinned. Then he began the working in earnest.

Swinging his legs off the bed, he straightened up deliberately, focusing his mind into the space of magical concentration. As he centered and stilled himself, he reached out to caress Subaru's forehead once more, at the same time letting his touch sink down inside the onmyouji. He found the shimmering patterns of Subaru's memories with ease, their delicate structure exactly as he remembered it: an instrument of innumerable strings. He played his awareness along them, seeking generally backward in time, until he located the wound. It was a rip in the harmony, a discordance that sent reverberations throughout the web of Subaru's being, so that its sound colored everything else that followed--and there, just before that pivotal memory, Seishirou placed his seal, stopping those echoes down to silence.

Taking his hand away, Seishirou sighed, then shifted further back along the mattress, sliding toward the end of the bed. It had been easy enough, but one could never be certain about such things beforehand. Memories were intricate and imprecise creations; most people could scarcely keep their own in order, much less interpret someone else's. But he had been trained assiduously in the workings of mind and perception, the complement to his study of illusion, and Subaru's sensitive intellect, just as well-schooled, was as lucid as one might desire.

Not to mention that he was already a "presence" in Subaru's mind, their encounters over the years standing out in its darkness like lanterns along a twisting forest path.

Seishirou scrutinized the tableau that was set up before him, his head tipped consideringly to one side. There were some remnants of scattered clothing still lying by Subaru; he swept them all to the floor, where they'd be more easily obscured, before resettling himself on the edge of the bed. Gathering the threads of power yet again, he spun them around Subaru's form, creating another image out of candlelight and sorcery and his clear remembrance of what had been.

Smaller and slighter, that frail, adolescent body, the long, pale jacket falling from its shoulders to reveal a dark mock-turtleneck that followed every line of the thin arms and chest...the light-colored pants that hugged those impossibly slender hips and the endless, finely shaped legs....

The feet almost dainty in their black socks...

They could do without the boots, Seishirou decided.

The longish, perpetually windblown hair, as appealing in its disarray as a garden gone a little unkempt, with nature and chance allowed to do their part unselfconsciously, the strands fanning out around the boy's head and lying against rounded, still immature cheeks with an enviable intimacy, framing a face that in loveliness lay somewhere between masculine and feminine, between child and man....

The ridiculous hat on the bed next to him, the school satchel propped visibly against the nearby wall...

...and those ever-present gloves....

Every minutest detail was exactly as it should be, exactly as it had been on that day when Subaru had pushed open the door to a hospital bedroom and walked heedlessly into Seishirou's maboroshi--everything but the inexplicable glimmer of tears along the dark lashes' curves, which today were dry and lowered in slumber.

He still didn't know, Seishirou mused, what tragedy had made Subaru so unhappy that time.

He'd never had the opportunity to find out....

Putting such fruitless speculations aside, he instead gazed in fascination at his illusion. If he hadn't created it himself, even he might be fooled. For a moment, he was tempted to peer below its surface and assure himself that it wasn't reality. Bemused by his reaction, he chuckled, then set about the final preparations. He clothed himself in illusion--a white shirt, tie knotted loosely at the collar, plus casual slacks and house shoes--and he altered the lines of his face just slightly, removing the passage of years. His right eye he covered over with a light gauze dressing. For the window, he disguised the winter afternoon as twilight, and after reflecting briefly, he decided to leave the still-burning candles as they were. Incongruous though they might appear, they would add a certain ambiance to the scene.

Then, all was ready.

Balancing the elements of his illusion carefully, Seishirou slipped the bond of sleep from Subaru. He nudged at Subaru's consciousness subtly, coaxing the other toward waking. The gloved fingers twitched, black against the patterned bedspread; the lax face tightened marginally as the boy drew in a breath.


Those wide eyes crept open gradually, in tiny, fluttering stages, like a butterfly's wings first being spread. Then, as they cleared, losing the shadows of drowsiness, they focused upon Seishirou. Growing suddenly wider, as though filling with realization, they proclaimed Subaru's embarrassment and shy alarm.

So transparent, Seishirou thought, careful to hide his amusement. How did I ever fail to notice that you were in love with me?

"Sei- Seishirou-san!" Subaru bolted upright as though the bed were electrified, staring about in panic. "Where--?"

"You fainted at the hospital, Subaru-kun," Seishirou smiled genially, speaking with reassuring softness. "So I brought you home. Was it because you missed lunch again? You'll be in trouble with Hokuto-chan if she finds out about it."

"No...." Subaru's glance, still nervous, went skittering around the bedroom. The golden candles flickered on his shifting eyes. "This...isn't your apartment."

"After all the uproar at the hospital, I thought it would be good to hide out for a while. It's only until the media circus quiets down." Seishirou leaned forward attentively, projecting earnest concern. "Are you feeling better?"

"Y- yeah." With a trembling smile, Subaru picked up the hat and held it like an unconscious shield in front of himself, his gloved fingers rolling the brim distractedly. A distinct flush colored his face as he lowered his eyes. "Sorry--I'm sorry for being such a problem again!"

"It's no problem at all! You know my biggest pleasure in life is to take care of you."

"Um!" Subaru's consternation was typical and quite charming. He glanced toward the window and the false dusk outside, taking care to avoid Seishirou's gaze. "It's gotten late, hasn't it...and Hokuto must be worried. Because I didn't call...."

"Subaru-kun." Unwittingly Subaru looked at Seishirou again, his eyes unsuspecting and guileless. "Do you love me?"

And silence followed, a stunned, hollow blankness that grew as Subaru stared back at him in pure paralysis. All of Subaru's thoughts seemed to have stopped at those words as though sealed in ice or amber. Then, in a slow rush, like a melting fountain, they dissolved, and Subaru's eyes let Seishirou see right down inside the boy as though through an aquarium's glass, observing every flicker of motion and life that was meant to be hidden from view.

In one stricken, pitiably honest look, they avowed every hope and shame that he possessed.

Poor, foolish what you said to me that day was true.

Even then, you knew that you loved me.

Seishirou's affectionate smile was a mask for his inner one as he leaned across the little stretch of bed that separated them, touching his fingers to Subaru's cheek. The fountain came on for real as he cradled Subaru's face against his palm; tears trickled free with their usual ease, slipping past the dark lashes and onto his hand as though Subaru's heart had no room to keep them all inside. Subaru seemed not to notice. Instead, he gazed at Seishirou as a child might, frightened yet perfectly trusting in the midst of that fear, and then with a choking sound he bent toward Seishirou, lifting both hands to clasp Seishirou's wrist and press it more fervently against his tear-stained face.

Seishirou started--it was unusual for the boy-Sumeragi to respond to his advances so overtly. Then, thinking about it, he smiled again. Everything that Subaru was had been given to him in that gesture, he realized, given with all the candor of Subaru's innocent self. It was a wordless, limitless confession, one that held nothing back. Subaru had just pledged himself absolutely to Seishirou, without understanding in the slightest to whom he had surrendered or what they were moving toward.

So easy, in the end, to have it all from him.

But then, that's what it means to have a feeling heart.

Isn't that right?

"Subaru-kun," Seishirou murmured then, his voice pitched low and gentle, and with just a hint of a break in it, as though holding back some great need, "I want to make love to you." Subaru's half-closed eyes snapped open; he gaped mutely at Seishirou. "Do you understand what I'm asking?" The boy nodded once against his hand, the gloved fingers tightening involuntarily. "Subaru-kun, will you let me do that with you?" Seishirou pressed, tender and quite inexorable, and he could see conflicts shifting behind Subaru's eyes as the teenager wrestled with the question. Reluctance and the stab of guilt at feeling that reluctance, blind, youthful terror in the face of what was strange, and that force, whatever it had been, that had impelled Subaru to succumb to him in the first place.

He could almost read the thought as it coalesced inside Subaru's mind.

If I loved someone....

I would do anything for that person.

Subaru nodded again, a single, tremulous bob of his head.

With a satisfied sigh, Seishirou stirred his fingers through the long hair next to Subaru's ear. It was illusionary hair, but no less soft to the touch than if it had been real. Subaru blanched and stared as he leaned even nearer--had he let the hunter's gleam escape into his gaze? Seishirou lowered his lashes against such possible disclosure, veiling the warmth of triumph behind a semblance of rapture, disguising kindling hunger behind a smile. He brought his hand down, catching Subaru's chin between thumb and forefinger, and as the boy twisted in that gentle grip, surely alarmed at what even he must see was coming, Seishirou opportunistically took the target that was proffered. He ran closed lips in a ghost kiss over Subaru's cheek, and then parted them to flick the merest tip of his tongue across the bitter, salt tracks of Subaru's tears.

Subaru made a stuttering sound and arched his neck--not really trying to pull away anymore but instead reacting blindly to something that had to be well beyond his experience. Lightly Seishirou continued to dot the boy's face with tongue caresses, like a mother cat massaging her kitten. He breathed along the elfin jaw line to that shiverily responsive place just under Subaru's ear, he mouthed at Subaru's throat, and as Subaru began to wilt beneath that sweetly suckling assault, he slid his other arm behind the knotted shoulders, easing Subaru back to lie against the bed.

Crouching on hands and knees above Subaru, he gazed into the teenager's flustered eyes. Subaru's head rested on the remaining pillow, his hair a dark aureole about his face. "Subaru-kun," Seishirou whispered, "if you truly don't want to...." He set the ball of his thumb against Subaru's mouth, tracing with an excruciatingly slow pressure across the fullness of Subaru's lower lip. "It's all right."

Above the curve of his hand, that velvet stare regarded him. Then Subaru squeezed his eyes shut and his mouth slackened, quivering beneath Seishirou's touch. Subaru's lips parted, a shallow breath fluttering between them, and as Seishirou tilted Subaru's head more suitably and then removed his fingers, bending to replace them with his kiss, the boy yielded with supreme complaisance. Seishirou pressed his mouth down onto Subaru's--still chastely, taking everything as slowly as if tending to the growth and shaping of a rare flowering plant. He suppressed with that kiss the laughter that flickered to life in the back of his throat. He had known all along that Subaru would never be able deny him, but in seeming to leave the way open for a refusal, he had guaranteed that the boy would choose exactly as he'd wished.

In believing itself to be free, the little bird had devised a more subtle cage than he ever could.

Drawing back finally, Seishirou took the hat that had been crushed in between them and dropped it off the edge of the bed. He looked down into Subaru's face, as still as if the boy had been spelled back into slumber. Now it was time to get to the crux of this affair, the outcome that his dance of tender words and intimate touches had been leading them toward.

To enjoy what he had missed out on the first time around: the pleasures of possessing this innocent being utterly, this purity as yet unstained by his betrayal.

Subaru-kun, your love for me won't let you turn back now. Whether you really want to or not, whether you grasp what's happening or not, you'll give me whatever I wish.

But it won't be like that time in my maboroshi, when I shattered the perfect, simple faith that made you unique in this world. I'm not interested in replaying that old game. This time you'll know nothing but the most enjoyable sensations, the most sublime seduction that I can give.

After all, Subaru-kun, wouldn't you have preferred it this way? To have your childhood world end like this?

Intent on evoking ecstasy, he settled down onto Subaru, his mouth grazing over Subaru's amorously, his hands busy on Subaru's sleek sides and chest. Subaru was like a small, soft animal beneath him, pinned to the bed, the boy's heart palpitating with alarm and nervous urgency. Seishirou stroked his fingers across Subaru's shirt with all the gentleness that such fragility warranted; he burrowed his face into the lissome arch of Subaru's neck as his hand journeyed unhurriedly up and down the boy's thigh. As he brushed ever so lightly in the vicinity of the crotch he could feel heat spring into Subaru's face, a hot flush burning by his cheek and jaw. Fire answered fire--he was already quite aware of the warmth in his own groin, growing with quite gratifying readiness--and probing between Subaru's legs he could feel the real source of Subaru's embarrassment, the nascent arousal echoing his own. He cupped that stirring flesh, coaxing it toward a full awakening, and Subaru whimpered, a faint, almost mewling sound. He turned his face abruptly against Seishirou's hair, and as Seishirou pressed a little more firmly the boy bucked upward, arching into Seishirou's hand with instinctive need.

"Subaru-kun," Seishirou purred into the curl of Subaru's ear. He let his fingers start wandering again, seeking reactions elsewhere--not to cut to the chase too soon, not with such a sensitive, finely-tuned partner for his enjoyment. Through Subaru's pants he cradled one subtly rounded buttock, lifting Subaru against him; he slid his other hand under the jacket and into the hollow of Subaru's spine, his fingers tugging the mock-turtleneck up and creeping beneath it. Their clothes began to come away with preternatural ease as if in some erotic dream, melting from their bodies like the illusions that they were. Subaru, struggling to grasp this confusion of new sensations, seemed at best tangentially aware of it. As Subaru bent backward, draped across Seishirou's arm, Seishirou's kisses traveled down the conveniently presented, now-exposed torso. In the candlelight, tiny, upright nipples appeared to float on Subaru's chest, rose flowers against that pearly satin skin. Seishirou attended to each of them, quick darts of his tongue followed by long, undulating suction, drawing upon those virginal little nubs without mercy while Subaru moaned. Satisfied at last, he set Subaru back onto the bed, rubbing the bandageless left side of his face against the unreality of adolescent, naked skin. Their shirts were both long gone, and their pants, already opened, were sliding off without awkwardness, taking socks and underwear along. Seishirou hooked his fingers under the cuff of one glove and--

Subaru gasped.

As Subaru stiffened, Seishirou lifted his head and glanced into the boy's face, drawing on a distracted, vaguely quizzical expression. Subaru stared back, anguish and indecision plainly raging inside him.

Never to take those gloves off, even for a member of the Sumeragi family.


Sitting up, Seishirou took the boy's hand in his own much larger one, cradling it on his palm. He turned his head, his view of Subaru's face cut off as he presented his bandaged side to the Sumeragi--seemingly without premeditation, of course. The sudden gleam of focus in his good eye thus hidden, he touched his lips to the flex point of Subaru's wrist, right where the glove had been hitched up. As he pulled back just enough so that he was hovering above Subaru's arm, his breath the only contact on the skin, white light began to seep out from the glove. It intensified, shooting searing cracks through the material, weathering it swiftly away...


...and with an eruption that threw stark shadows across their unclothed bodies, that cold fire sizzled through its covering. The black glove frayed and tore, shredding away from Subaru's skin. On his other side, its partner was meeting a similar fate, pale flames bursting through the fabric. Subaru made a startled noise, and Seishirou lifted that hand toward his face as well. The power was fading as swiftly as it had come, leaving behind just a faint luminosity. As Seishirou kissed one hand and then the other, he reached through the dwindling light and sought the actual Sakurazukamori marks hidden beneath his illusion. Feeling his way inside to where they fused with Subaru's very soul, he touched Subaru there, at the center of the onmyouji's being, and felt the tremors of fear grow still. Glancing up, he gazed into the boy's stunned and staring eyes.

"Subaru-kun," he murmured.


He hesitated. Looking down at Subaru, who was lying there unmoving, naked but for the detritus of those black gloves, aware with an unusual acuity of Subaru's inner state, he felt...not exactly disquieted but instead displaced. It was almost as if the steady stream of time and space that he moved in, the reliable world through which he hunted, had been frozen, and the fact that he continued to think and breathe had lifted him outside it. He watched the boy for another long moment, then set both hands down deliberately. He lowered himself onto Subaru with measured gentleness, one arm tangling with Subaru's to extend it across the mattress, the other sliding around Subaru's waist. His attention focused entirely on Subaru, he saw and felt the surrender, the release as the boy let go, flowing out of blankness into blind acceptance. The final resistance in Subaru appeared to melt away; he closed his eyes and let his head loll to one side, his hair a black wing against the pillow. Not knowing the real significance of those marks on his hands, he sensed only that they connected him to Seishirou in some way, and for him that was enough. Seishirou began to move on him then--to move with him, a gradually quickening writhe of their bodies that restored their interrupted passion, heightening it to new intensity. He kissed Subaru's face, the throat, then back to the parted lips again, panting, almost urgent kisses.


The easy and appropriate lie remained unspoken, though, locked somewhere deep inside his chest.


Don't tell me that you're sorry or that you love me....

Because I won't lie to you either. I won't pretend in anything anymore.

I want to know the person you are, honestly....


I want to know....


Shutting his eyes, Seishirou dispelled the passing flash of memory. Instead he devoured Subaru's lips with his own, compelling them to open to him further--and then he thrust inside, plumbing Subaru's mouth to trap the startled boy's tongue with his. He pushed his hips against Subaru's, his erection hot and insistent; he pressed himself to the teenager's thighs and throbbing groin as a sexual current arced through them both, as plain to his senses as the sorcery that filled the room. Slipping one hand down between Subaru's legs again, he separated them as Subaru trembled beneath him, and he fingered all that lay there, silken hardness and softness.

"This may hurt," he breathed into Subaru' neck as he twisted aside, groping for the lubricant in the nightstand drawer, "but it will hurt less if you relax as much as possible. Do you trust me, Subaru-kun?"

"Yes," the boy whispered.



* * * * *


The silvery bell jangled as Subaru burst into the clinic's office. "Hello, Seishirou-san!" Alight with enthusiasm, he for once was showing an animated energy that befitted his age.

"Ah, Subaru-kun!" Seishirou beamed at the object of his affections. "Did school let out early today? Or did you have work?"

"No, I'm just here on my lunch period," the boy replied diffidently, then perked up again. "How is the little bird? Is it better?"

Putting away a last box of heartworm tablets, Seishirou closed the cabinet door and turned to face Subaru, wearing a grave expression. "I have some sad news." Subaru stared back at him in deep dismay. "As you know, I was keeping the bird in a cage for observation. But this morning, when the sunlight came into the room, it stirred and started to hop and flutter around. It probably just bumped its head on a plate glass window and was a little bit stunned when you found it. Since nothing appeared to be broken, and since it seemed to want to fly away so badly on such a lovely spring morning--Subaru-kun, I let it go already. I'm sorry I didn't wait for you to come."

"Eh--no, it's fine! Really, that's great news!" Transformed with childlike completeness by relief and joy, Subaru sank into a chair. He rested his arms on the office table, chin cupped in hands, and smiled dreamily. "I'm just glad the little bird's all right."

Walking over, Seishirou leaned against the opposite side of the table, gazing down at the boy with a strange, smiling intensity.


In a dumpster behind the clinic, half-covered by a sheet of paper, a tiny, lifeless body lay twisted, sapphire wings outstretched to meet the sky.


* * * * *


"Ah!" With a sharp gasp of attainment, Seishirou entered Subaru at last, still making an effort to move with mindful, patient care. Once in, he began to rock forward and back, pressing into the heat of Subaru's body, and that silken, sheathing pleasure swept away all other considerations, all other recollections. Slick with lube, his fingers entwined themselves with Subaru's, bending that arm against the bedspread as he began to push more deeply, pumping into Subaru's body with firm, steady strokes. The boy lay pliant and unresisting beneath him, only gasping once or twice and then shuddering briefly, as far as he could tell not in any real distress--harder now, and faster, letting desire build and build, staring into the closed eyes and taut, childlike face. Sensation fired through him from that intimate enclosure; he caught at the edges of his self-control. Hovering at that verge, he raised himself up on both arms, stilling briefly to gaze down on his lover, and he saw--

Subaru simply lying there, so perfectly without defenses--no challenge, no mystery after all to be unraveled, but only naked, open nothingness.

So passive, so dependent upon Seishirou for impetus--even now, in the throes of passion--that he might as well not even exist.

A lovely, ingenuous victim, a momentarily diverting plaything....

Really, nothing more than that.

And like a spark the thought fired inside Seishirou's mind.


...are not "my" Subaru-kun.

For a split second he froze, trying to grasp that jolting realization, like a stranger's voice that spoke inside his own brain. Then, because his body's need was long past denying, he folded onto Subaru with a groan. Gathering the slight form into his arms, he thrust toward completion as the mounting plume of orgasm finally crested and flared. It erupted, lifting him high into shattering fire and then spilling him free again--and as he was tumbling from that molten and furious summit of ecstasy, so pleasurable and yet so strangely disappointing, he loosened all his spells from Subaru's mind and body, stripping them away like untied blindfolds. Drained and somehow empty from that almost-fulfillment, far more so than he wanted to admit, he slumped onto Subaru, watching as his illusion began to fray. It dissolved like thinnest ice to show reality underneath it: the longer arms and legs, scant muscle over bone, the torso's graceful taper from adult shoulders to lean, angled hips. Subaru's eyes flew open suddenly, wild and luminous in that narrow face. He shivered as memory flooded in on him, and his hands leaped to Seishirou's shoulders. "What...?" His gaze hunting Seishirou's, he swallowed tautly, then breathed, "Was it...was it a dream?"

"No." Smiling a touch sardonically, Seishirou slid from Subaru's body to settle more comfortably by his side. "It was an illusion."

Subaru's head fell back against the pillow, his eyes staring blankly up toward the ceiling. In the half-light from those candles and a cloudy sky, Seishirou shifted position, laying his own head onto Subaru's chest. Rather distantly he wondered what would come of this game--would Subaru be angry once it had all sunk in on him? Or would he tolerate it as he had so many other things? Sighing with peculiar heaviness, Seishirou tried to understand what had left him feeling so out of sorts. As he nuzzled into Subaru's chest the arms that had slackened around him tightened, sliding about his back in an embrace. "Thank you, Seishirou-san."


Puzzled, he pried himself from his resting place again to peer down at Subaru. Outside the window, the storm whirled snow against the glass with a thin, scarcely audible hiss.

Was it a smile glimmering in the faraway gaze? Was it the brightness of grief? Subaru rolled his head to one side, closing his eyes. His fingers stirred like whispers, though, sure and intimate against Seishirou's skin.

"Now I know...what it would have been like."




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