Author's note: This was originally triggered by Mithrigil's "Shut Sumeragi Subaru Up!" Challenge (final postings here). Although it turned out not so much about how to shut Subaru up as what happens when he actually *does* shut up. Nevertheless.... Please see my disclaimer page for copyright information regarding this story.
Talks Too Much
A Tokyo Babylon/X Fanfic
By Natalie Baan
Subaru talks too much.
Not out loud, of course. Anyone who knows him would laugh at the idea of words, sentences, whole monologues spilling from him in a ceaseless, unstoppable rush like the steady yet everchanging patter and hiss of rain, like the flutter and leap of fire, always restless, always reaching. (Except, of course, for his grandmother, who has her own reasons for not laughing.) He's been nearly monosyllabic for so long now, his communications stripped down to bare, efficient necessity, focused into the flick of a gesture or a sharp look, a flat explanation, a wordlessness that says everything he really wants to say. His clients and contacts could hardly begin to imagine anything else.
Yet within the walls of his mind, behind the shuttered windows of his eyes, in the shifting gray room of his thoughts (that's sometimes as dark as a maboroshi, filled with shadows like branches that move and murmur of their own volition, and sometimes as pale as smoke lifting on the wind toward a wide-open, empty sky) there's scarcely ever a hush. He whispers to himself those secret promises that he half doubts he'll keep, tells his story over and over as if those dull, rhythmic words are the heartbeat that keeps him walking, rehearses his failings, tries out all the things that he might have said, might have done, that maybe, maybe could have made a difference somehow. Alone, he holds wandering, one-sided conversations with that image of a man whose relentless smile and sometimes tender, sometimes brutal touch have burned themselves into the very essence of his being, a bittersweet and soul-deep scar. He accuses, begs, argues, cries, curses, or, more and more often now, simply talks, offering up the inconsequentials of his days, the lingering questions, everything that he has no other way to share, all the while distantly wondering if the man would find them amusing or just tedious, detritus from a broken toy, a played-out game. Even in meditation he spins mantras in his head like prayer wheels, sacred names and invocations, chants like an infinite loop of rosary beads, like the interlocking, constantly involuting cycles of buddhas and gods. Because he knows all too well that when the words run down at last, when exhaustion catches up with him in the worn and threadbare hours at the end of a too-long night, in the lull of a gritty, glaring day—
—when he finally stops—
—then he is there once more—he is there still, now and always—in that instant when a whole world broke apart.
And there is nothing but the endless shock of pain.
The things that cannot be spoken.