Warning:  Spoilers for Tokyo Babylon and for X.   (But you've read them already, if you're here, right?) Special thanks to whitecrow for her always invaluable betas & LOCs, and to N-sama for catching the little things that slipped through the net (they weren't so little). ^_^

    Disclaimer?  Here I stand.  I can do nothing else.  God help me.  Amen.


       The rain fell hard, battering at Kamui and dissolving the newspaper that sheltered him into a mess of soggy articles and ink-streaked lines.  Two city-blocks away from his destination Kamui got fed up, and flung it to the ground.  It was water-logged and heavy and difficult to hold besides.  But he missed it sorely a moment later when the rain, finding its path suddenly unimpeded, burst on him anew.  He was exhausted when he finally stumbled into the right doorway, and he was shivering helplessly with the cold. 

He wished he'd never come to Tokyo. 

The idea became a focus, as his numb fingers curled themselves into a fist and as he closed his eyes and frowned and knocked once at the door. 

I shouldn't be here.  I shouldn't be here.  I should never have come

The house gave no sign that it was occupied, the door no sign that it would open.  Kamui refused to knock again.  He just pressed to the hinged corner like a wet cat seeking shelter, and he thought about what a bad idea this had been, and he tried to prepare himself to struggle back home again, through the rain. 

The door, cued by deepest perversity, swung open the moment he determined to leave. 

Wamth broke like a furnace-blast over Kamui's skin.  "Su--Su--" he chattered, too cold to get the name out whole and entire. 

The slender figure in the doorway seemed impervious to the chill. 

"Kamui Shirou," said Subaru. 


Excepting only simple, direct commands Sumeragi-san did not speak until an hour had passed and Kamui knelt by the fire, warming.  Until the heat was almost painful, the wicker-like mat prickling at his knees, his extremities tingling with thaw.  Kamui didn't care.  Subaru had given him dry clothes and a towel and hot tea, and he could feel the contented buzz of the kekkai over the door.  He felt safe.  Stupid.  He could probably break the Sumeragi kekkai himself; and if he could break it, so could Fuuma. 

Fuuma. . .  The name drifted across his thoughts like the puff of hot air from a vent.  Kamui's lashes lowered.  He was boneless and wonderfully drowsy.  His fingers were loosening around his cup. 

Subaru was carefully smoothing his cerimonial white robes into an ordered pattern.  They complied.  Perfectly.  Subaru's features were similarly controlled and unblemished.  He looked like the priest of a cold and ascetic religion, clean boned and androgynous in appearance, uncaring and cut off by choice from the world. 

"It's late," he said. 

"Mm."  Kamui looked up and answered him sleepily, automatically. 

"It's a school night," he added. 

"I quit school." 

"Yes . . . I thought you might." 

"It was only tenth grade," said Kamui. 

"The least troubling of your choices," agreed Subaru. 
Meaning peeled back from those words, and as it did so, the drowsy, comfortable atmosphere began dissolving like a failed kekkai.  Subaru leaned forward to pour tea, and Kamui's unease began to coalesce into realisation:  his mother was dead, and Kotori was dead, and the man who faced him was the last person in all of Tokyo who would ever indulge him, or infantalize him, or tell him, Kamui-kun, I'll take care of you.  You'll be safe in here with me. 

"I couldn't stay where I was," Kamui said. 

"You can't stay here," said Subaru. 

"Because my destiny is foreordained?" 

"I'm not concerned about your destiny, Kamui." 

"Then you're afraid of fighting Fuuma." 
"No.  While you're alive, the only person who needs to be prepared to fight Fuuma--" 

"--is Kamui," said Kamui.  "You mean--"  He rose to his feet, dimly aware that he wasn't equal to this conversation.  He didn't have access to a weaponry of subtle barbs or hurtful insinuations.  His school yard talks had focused around homework, sports matches, Fuuma and Kotori, while Subaru had spent the last decade of his life honing himself into the verbal and magical equal to a cold and malicious opponent, Seishirou Sakurazuka, the Sakurazukamori, who was Kamui's superior in every way.  "You mean I'm worth saving because there's a chance that I can kill Fuuma." 

"That shouldn't surprise you," said Subaru.  "Everyone who cared about the young boy called Kamui Shirou is dead.  All that is left is your function as the Kamui:  your promise, and your destiny." 

Kamui's hands became fists.  It's not fair, he wanted to say, but that was stupid--like wishing he'd never come to Tokyo when every choice he made seemed to lead inevitably to the same conclusion.  He was going fight Fuuma, and one or both of them were going to die, and the world was going to end, or it wasn't, and Tokyo was going to be destroyed, and soon.  There was a Dragon deep in the earth and it was trying to wake up. 

"You're a Dragon of Heaven too," said Kamui. 

"We share a similar history.  That doesn't mean we'll share a similar fate." 

"It's foreordained." 

"Kamui . . . " 

Forebearance mingled in Subaru's tone with something tired, heavy.  Kamui felt again the strange bond of sympathy that existed between himself and Subaru.  He is me, Kamui thought uneasily.  A blurring of time could easily exchange the one for the other.  "Do you think it's an accident that you're a Dragon of Heaven and he's a Dragon of Earth?" said Kamui, stubbornly.  "Do you think it wasn't planned that way?  Do you think he didn't know?  All those years ago, when he--" 

Poised on the brink, on the very edge of saying it, reality dropped itself heavily back on Kamui's shoulders.  With it came the rules of polite behaviour.  He was angry and afraid, and more than that, he was an adolescent battling with a grip on a powerfully adult sorrow.  But he wasn't completely crazy and he knew the same as everybody that you didn't--you didn't ever--mention Seishirou in front of Subaru. 

Kamui broke off, appalled.  His hands rose to cover his mouth. 

"Killed my sister?" said Subaru, and Kamui felt the force of yet another shock, because that hadn't been what he was going to say at all, and he could tell from the deadly cold glazing Subaru's green eyes that Subaru knew it, too.  They're true,  Kamui thought.  They're true.  The stories about him . . .   

No emotion was present in Subaru's voice.  "I know that you've had a special person killed by another special person.  We spoke about it in the dreamscape.  But please do not believe that this has forged a kind of bond between us.  If there is anyone in the world who can ease your burdens, it isn't me.  I've said what I have to say to you." 

Kamui winced, but pressed on.  "But--you're like me," he said.  "We're--I don't need a dreamgazer to tell me that our destinies are linked.  We--" 
It sparked something in the apathy of Subaru's gaze.  "You think we're alike?" he said, his voice oddly impenetrable. 

"I think we--" 

"Is that why you came here tonight?" 

Subaru had drawn close.  Too close.  Kamui glanced behind himself for an avenue of escape, and didn't find one.  He wasn't really sure what to do.  "What--what are you doing?" he whispered. 

"I'm looking for the truth," said Subaru, his hand straying through Kamui's hair, and then dropping to tilt his chin, so that Kamui was forced to look Subaru in the eyes.  Kamui was young, but he was old enough that when the pad of a thumb grazed across his lips, he was shocked into silence.  His stomach lurched, and his breath caught in his throat.  Subaru said, "Tell me--did Fuuma take your innocence when he killed Kotori?  Or did he do it earlier?  Kamui?" 

"I don't know what you mean--" 

"Yes, you do.  You're not that young," said Subaru, and as Kamui's heart began pounding itself to pieces in his chest, Subaru closed the distance between them, and kissed him. 

Kamui's lips were coaxed open.  Before he realised it, he was returning the kiss, or at least surrendering to it.  A part of himself wanted to yield his body up further, to a full invasion, wanton and purring, Fuuma. 

The kiss deepened. 

Kamui was being taken and explored at leisure, he knew it.  And he liked it.  Liked that when he made a sound of protest, Subaru's grip on him tightened, and he was kissed more slowly, and harder. 

And then it was over, and he was staring back at Subaru, startled and aroused.  The change in Subaru was unexpected, but not incongruous.  His sad, solomnent eyes lent themselves well both to sensuality and to appraisal; perhaps because, for him, there was little distinction left between power, and bitterness and sexuality. 

"I was your age once," Subaru said.  "Sixteen.  It lasted me exactly one year." 
"Fuuma," said Kamui, hot cheeked and more uncertain of himself than ever, "Fuuma never--" 

"I know," said Subaru, with detached understanding.  "I know.  No matter how much you wanted him to." 

Long fingers took hold of Kamui's chin again.  Kamui was warmed all over.  He felt flushed, and ready. 
"You're so much like me," said Subaru, in a distant voice. 

"So much like. . .?" 

"And I've become so much like him."  The touch grew painful for a moment, then withdrew.  "Too much like him.  Kamui-kun, you shouldn't have come to me for help." 

"Why not?" 

"Because I don't care what happens to you." 

Kamui stared back at Subaru, hit by emotions that should have blinded him; anger, hurt and humiliation.  Instead, in the silence, he found himself blinking at a vision of the truth. 

"As long as I carry through with my Wish," he said, as the vision grew. 
"That's right." 

"I think I'm beginning to understand you," said Kamui. 

Subaru gazed at him for a long, quiet while.  "No," he said.  "No, you're not.  It doesn't matter.  You can stay here until morning, if you like.  It's a dangerous time for two Dragons to be together.  But the protections around this house are strong.  And the world isn't going to end tonight." 


Kamui let himself out in the morning, energized, stronger than he'd felt since Kotori's death.  Stronger than he'd felt since, waking from coma and dreamscape, he'd found himself sheltered in Subaru's arms. 

But last night his wounds had not been nursed.  They'd been cauterized. 

Kamui had thought at first Subaru had meant to show a kind of empathy in the dreamscape.  Now that the confused jumble of last night was over, he knew the lesson was different.  He is me, but he can't help me.  I have to help myself


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