[Author's note: The events of this fic take place during Tokyo Babylon 4, sometime after X 17, and in a hypothetical space after X 18. Spoiler warnings probably apply. Please see my disclaimer page for copyright information regarding this story.]
MirrorsAn TB/X fanfic
By Natalie Baan
A splintering tinkle snatched Subaru awake--a falling, breaking sound. He started upward and suffered a moment of disorientation. This room.../Seishirou's/ room, a wide, dark, unfamiliar expanse, only a trace of light hesitating in through slatted blinds. He was in Seishirou's bed, a realization that caused him a brief, hot flush of distress. Fleeing that confused embarrassment, he remembered the noise that had awakened him. He looked for the mug he'd been using earlier, but it was gone. Seishirou must have taken it. The sound had been farther off, anyhow, and different: a thin, fragile shattering, something more like glass.
Folding back the covers, he climbed out of the bed. On bare feet, he tiptoed across the floorboards, overlarge pajamas--Seishirou's pajamas--almost as voluminous about him as his shikifuku yet not so stiff, the fabric more delicate, scarcely whispering as he moved. Reaching the door, he inched it open and peered out.
Seishirou was kneeling at the end of the hall, in a dimness only a little less than that of the bedroom. Faint light from a side passage puddled on the floor between them, but that was all. Above him rose the rectangular frame of a full-length mirror. The mirror's face was broken, cracks running across it like the threads of an irregular spider's web. Large pieces had fallen out of it, leaving holes of unreflective darkness.
He must have gasped, or maybe Seishirou had heard the door. Seishirou lifted his head minutely, not quite turning toward Subaru. Otherwise the man didn't move at all: a stone-still, watchful presence, like a carved guardian beast in front of a temple. "Se-Seishirou-san," Subaru stumbled. "What--"
"It's nothing." Seishirou's voice was quiet but abrupt, its tone a bit strange just as the hallway was strange in all these shadows. It dropped lower, becoming softer, barely audible as he added, "Subaru-kun, you should be asleep."
"I heard--" Subaru glanced at the broken mirror's face again. What had he heard? How had it happened? "Is everything all right?"
"Fine. It was only a little accident." Normalcy skittered around Seishirou's words, as though in a moment he'd laugh and make a joke about it all and go back to being the person that Subaru knew. The person who was.... Uncertainly Subaru pushed the door open further, shifted a half-step forward. "/Don't./" He froze at the word's lash, not kind or unkind, only absolute in its command. "It's dangerous here." Light winked between Seishirou's fingers, a liquid gleam along a tilting sharp edge. "There's glass all over the floor. And you haven't got shoes on."
Something tugged at the inside of Subaru's chest then, surprisingly painful, as though Seishirou's fingers were gathering up, not pieces of that broken mirror, but threads stitched into his heart. There was a wrongness that he couldn't explain but that pulled at him--the dark, the shattered glass, the stillness, the way Seishirou was now, which somehow didn't line up with the way he ought to be, just as the mirror's reflection, split by fractures, no longer matched up with itself. He wanted to make it all right. "I'll be careful," he said, half pleading. Seishirou shouldn't be picking up that glass with bare hands anyway. At least Subaru's gloves would protect him. "Please...can't I do anything to help?"
"No." Seishirou moved at last, and the light found his smile as he turned. His voice was almost gentle.
"Some things there's just no helping."
He raised his head. Behind his glasses his eyes were strange too--intense yet cold, dark but afire. They held something mysterious, like a golden treasure glinting in their depths. As Subaru fumbled to understand it, everything but those eyes began to dim.
"Subaru-kun. Go back to sleep."
* * * * *
Slowly Subaru opened his eyes. He stared up toward the ceiling. He was lying, as always, in the center of the large bed, arms outstretched to either side as though to welcome some descending spirit. A thin rosy-gray light seeped in through the sliding glass door that led to the garden. Outside, a bird called faintly.
It was morning.
He sat up, put off the covers, slid his legs toward the edge of the bed. There was no urgency or force to his movements. It was a little as if he was dreaming, although he knew he wasn't. This was merely how he lived his life. No dream at all. He stood and crossed the room, the wooden floor cool against the soles of his feet. Each step was a tiny reminder of his surroundings' reality, a vague surprise of contact, not quite dismissible yet always remote. This room, which he slept in each night but could never seem know well enough. This house, which had been left for him to use. These pajamas--black silk, of a Chinese cut. In his size. He no longer questioned their presence. He knew that he would find no answer.
There was a mirror across the room; he watched himself approach. Pale skin made paler by those dark pajamas. Black hair wisping long around his face. He hardly knew himself. He drew close, tilted his head, and met his own gaze, one eye the ordinary green, the other brown as ancient polished wood, burnished to gleam with just a trace of gold.
That one eye, more compelling for him than anything else.
But not the face that he wanted to see.
Everything in this house was like that--everything was reminder without resolution. Everything roused him to wonder yet never gave him what he needed to find any peace. A brush painting of breathless clarity, black bamboo almost abstract against the pallid, empty background. A woman's red comb on an otherwise bare shelf. A well-tended bonsai pine in a dark blue glazed rectangular pot. /Why this? Did you like this especially? Did it mean something to you? More or less than me?/ Silence and silence and silence, and everywhere these cast-off shells of the person he looked for, a significance just out of reach--
--a splintering of glass, the bright shards falling, so blind, why, /he could not see/--
Carefully he uncurled the fists clenched at his sides. Reaching out, he closed his fingers on either side of the mirror's simple, elegant frame. He leaned forward, touched his forehead to the glass, shutting his eyes before the mist of his breath appeared: the visible form of his whisper, of his longing.
* * * * *
"It's not supposed to be like this, you know." The voice was low and amused, complexity swimming deep beneath the almost-laughing, almost-tender surface, like fish below the ice, shadows barely glimpsed in passing. It reminded him of....
"Being the Sakurazukamori....aren't you supposed to be killed by the person you love the most?"
He opened his eyes. Pain broke the world into sparkling fragments of light; they trembled about him as he drew in a rasping, failing breath, but he could still see--/that smile,/ and though he knew that the person leaning close above him, one hand plunged into and through his chest, was the Kamui of the Dragons of Earth and not the man he wished for, still he saw--he saw--
"I have been," he whispered, and an inexpressible happiness filled him, a release, the realization that all this time he'd never been as bereft as he'd believed.
In the tensions of absence, in a passing resemblance, in everything, everywhere in this world....
So many reflections of the person that he loved.
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