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04 January 2015 @ 01:34 am
Fanfic: Sakurazukamori - Part 2  
This was started in 2009 (June 14th) and so far is nowhere near finished nor I know if I’ll ever finish it. As it had gotten long I thought to share it as some might enjoy it.

Title: "Sakurazukamori - Part 2"
Author: J.J.
Warning: It's an AU BASED ON THE MANGA. It contains some Japanese words (the Dictionary is at the bottom), a bit of sappiness...
Notes: This work is based on the manga.
"Tokyo Babylon" and "X" belong to Clamp. I'm merely using their characters because I love them... especially Seishiro and Subaru...
Ehy, Do I own something here? Oh yes, I own the plot and a sensible heart which would surely break if you give me harsh reviews... so please be honest but nice ok?
Summary: Being the heir to the Sakurazukamori isn’t as simple as one might think.

When Seishiro returned from school he noticed Sakurazukamori-san had somehow disposed of the corpses and, thankfully, washed away the stains of blood. Definitely the new Sakurazukamori was more tidy than the previous or, at least, didn’t expect Seishiro to play his personal housewife in the matter of dealing with corpses and blood stains.

Sadly, cleaning up seemed to be the only thing Sakurazukamori-san had done in regards to home keeping. The kitchen was depressingly empty, which would mean cooking dinner would be Seishiro’s task.

Too bad.

He would have liked to get back and find a wonderful dinner already ready for him for a change. Oh well, he couldn’t expect Sakurazukamori-san to turn into his maid, though he was sure he would look gorgeous smiling at him while wearing a ‘kiss the cook’ apron and… he blinked and wondered from where that thought had come. So okay, Sakurazukamori-san was pretty, very much so but that was all that could be said to it.

Besides he had seen better.

He frowned and realized he couldn’t remember seeing anything better looking than Sakurazukamori-san so maybe… he had not?

Well, no he had surely seen better only… he hadn’t been that intrigued by it.

Actors and models were probably better than Sakurazukamori-san only… they didn’t leave on him a lasting impression. Even the memory of his own mother, who had been a beautiful girl, was slowly paling away.

Yet he couldn’t forget Sakurazukamori-san’s features, he was sure if the man were to disappear from his life and reappear… let’s say nine years after, he would recognize him first glance.

It was rather odd, he mused as he began cooking.

He was almost finished cooking when, as he suddenly realized someone was behind him, he quickly threw a knife in the observer’s direction before reaching for his Ofuda and…

“Welcome back, Seishiro-kun,” Sakurazukamori-san said calmly after having avoided his knife so easily Seishiro felt as if his action had posed for the man the same threat of a child tossing a ball. It was… irritating. “I apologize, I didn’t mean to bother you,” Sakurazukamori-san added, bowing slightly in a apology.

“Oh, you didn’t bother me at all, Subaru-san!” Seishiro assured, mechanically smiling as brightly and cheerfully as he could. “My mother was used to play this same game on me all the days!” Only his mother wasn’t as good as Sakurazukamori-san at sneaking upon him or at avoiding his blows. He’d realized Sakurazukamori-san was standing behind him merely because he caught his reflection in one of the pans… if he hadn’t the man could have kept on standing behind him until judgment day. It was humiliating.

“This same game?” Sakurazukamori-san echoed tilting his head slightly, only his expression didn’t really change as he kept staring at Seishiro.

“Trying to catch me on surprise. By the way I’m sorry about it, I’m usually faster catching someone behind me… but there’s to say Subaru-san is very good at passing unobserved,” he observed wondering if Sakurazukamori-san liked to be praised. Sakurazukamori-san closed his eyes tiredly.

“You could say not being noticed by Seishiro-kun is my best gift,” he stated but his tone held a vaguely self mocking note as if there was a second meaning in his words Seishiro was failing to get. “Though I didn’t mean to play any game with you, Seishiro-kun. I merely didn’t want to bother you while you were busy,” he explained before carelessly turning, offering his back to Seishiro as if the boy posed no threat to him as he retrieved the knife Seishiro had thrown and that now was firmly embedded into the wall, before moving closer to Seishiro and offering it to him. “Again I apologize for interrupting your work,” he repeated and again, he bowed.

“Never mind it, Subaru-san, you can interrupt me every time you want,” Seishiro assured retrieving the knife, knowing fully well Sakurazukamori-san didn’t need his permission to do as he pleased. Really, that mummery they were playing was stupid and senseless but, evidently, Sakurazukamori-san liked this kind of games. Seishiro didn’t but he figured no game was funny when you were stuck in the role of the mouse. He would probably grown to appreciate games when he would get the role of the cat and his own mouse to play with. Or maybe not. He wasn’t so fond of mice after all.

He would be better by himself, playing with himself only.

He didn’t really need playmates.

He didn’t really need anyone.

Really, company didn’t suit him, he would be a lot better if he were to be left alone.

Not that he was going to say all this out loud he thought as he kept on smiling as if nothing was wrong. Sakurazukamori-san stared at him, before shaking his head slightly.

“No, I shouldn’t. It wouldn’t be fair from me not to respect your wish for privacy,” the man stated firmly. “Again, I apologize for bothering you,” he insisted and bowed again and Seishiro stared at him feeling confused. Was Sakurazukamori-san apologizing to him _for real_? Weren’t his words just… well, words? A game, an act of empty politeness?

He couldn’t tell, no matter how hard he thought at it.

‘I don’t understand this man, I don’t understand him at all,’ he thought unable to chase away that unpleasant sense of confusion.

“It’s okay. As I said, I don’t mind, Subaru-san,” he replied though he knew his mask wasn’t perfect, he knew he didn’t sound enough cheerful and careless and maybe that was the test, maybe Sakurazukamori-san was merely judging how well he could act, for how long he could act, what would upset him and…

“I see,” Sakurazukamori-san said, still staring at him and it felt unnerving because when Sakurazukamori-san stared at him he _stared_ at him as if… well, as if Seishiro was the only thing in the universe and not even his mother had ever paid him so much attention and he wasn’t used to this and… “Then I’ll let you free to return focusing on your cooking since I’ve already bothered you long enough,” the man added as if he hadn’t understood that Seishiro didn’t care if he was here or not, or maybe he’d understood he unnerved Seishiro, no matter how Seishiro denied it, but then if he had why was he leaving?

He didn’t understand, he thought as he watched the man turn away from him and move toward the door, he didn’t understand but…

“Subaru-san,” he called, out of an impulse, and saw the man pausing in his track and slowly turning toward him again. He forced a smile as he spoke. “Subaru-san, please stay if you haven’t more important matters to attend. I’d like to know your opinions about what we’ll have for dinner,” he said and had no idea why he did it. Maybe just to deny the fact Sakurazukamori-san’s presence unnerved him, maybe just to prove it to Sakurazukamori-san, maybe…

“For me everything you’ll prepare will be perfect,” Sakurazukamori-san stated. “I’ve really no requests.”

“Come on, Subaru-san, don’t be like that! I’m sure you too have things you like and dislike! Just tell me what you prefer and I will do my best to meet your tastes!” he offered even though he honestly hopes Sakurazukamori-san’s tastes wouldn’t be too far from his or that he wouldn’t ask him too hard to prepare things.

Sakurazukamori-san however didn’t look interested in Seishiro’s generous offering.

“Please, cook what you prefer. Honestly it’ll be more than fine for me,” he assured and Seishiro thought Sakurazukamori-san was annoying when he was being that accommodating.

“Subaru-san, really…”

“Seishiro-kun, I lived of instantaneous ramen for nearly ten years. Really, whatever you’ll prepare will be way more delicious than everything I’m used at,” Sakurazukamori-san explained and Seishiro blinked.

“Instantaneous ramen for ten years?” he echoed completely stunned. Instantaneous ramen? Just that? Just that? That wasn’t possible, that was… Sakurazukamori-san nodded and Seishiro shook his head in denial. “You’re joking, Subaru-san, you couldn’t have… I mean, it’s not that instantaneous ramen is that bad, it’s just that… that there are so many better dishes in the world and… and…” he tried hard to grasp the idea of someone living out of that for ten years and failed. “You… did you really like it that much?”

“No. It was simply the easiest thing to live out of,” Sakurazukamori-san explained and Seishiro, for the life of him, couldn’t understand. Food wasn’t something you live out of, food was something meant to be enjoyed, a pleasure, one of the few in the world and… “Don’t worry. It’s something you’re better off not understanding,” Sakurazukamori-san told him and there was something soft, gentle, in his tone. “Prepare what you prefer and don’t worry about me, Seishiro-kun. You’ve no reason to worry about me, really,” he added and somehow Seishiro had the impression Sakurazukamori-san wasn’t talking just about the food but he couldn’t really understand which sort of game the man was playing. Oh well, he’ll figure out eventually, he decided, forcing himself to set the problem aside as he smiled again.

“In this case, Subaru-san, I’ll prepare you something so delicious it’ll make up for all the years you were forced to eat ramen!” he assured. Sakurazukamori-san just stared at him then bowed.

“Then… thank you,” he said simply.

“You’re welcome!” he assured. “Please, just sit down comfortably and give me some more time! I promise you won’t regret it!” he assured and Sakurazukamori-san… just did so.

Odd. This man was so odd, Seishiro thought, the oddest person he ever met, he mused as he chattered in a happy tone of meaningless matters, keeping up the whole conversation on his own since all he could get from Sakurazukamori-san were monosyllabic replies. It wasn’t difficult, really, he’d been taught from when he was very young to keep this kind of conversations that would make him look as if he was talking at, at the same time wouldn’t reveal nothing about him and yet… he felt as if something was missing, as if his own was a wasted effort, as if… he wanted something more… which was absurd, of course, because what else could he wish for? To his annoyance somehow Sakurazukamori-san too seemed to notice Seishiro’s conversation wasn’t flowing as smooth as it was supposed.

“You don’t have to talk with me if you don’t want to. I know I’m a rather boring company,” the man stated simply, at which Seishiro thought ‘well, you could at least make an effort at being a company in the first place’ but, of course, didn’t say it out loud.

“That’s absolutely not the case, Subaru-san. On the contrary I’m probably the boring one. I’m sure I’m annoying you quite a bit with all my immature talking,” he replied in his smoothest tone.

“Seishiro-kun, you wouldn’t annoy me not even if you were to read me the whole telephone guide,” Sakurazukamori-san replied and Seishiro wondered if the man had a reason to be so polite with him. Maybe it was just a habit of his.

“You’re very kind and tolerant, Subaru-san,” he replied anyway, again smiling at the man as he served him the food he had prepared. Sakurazukamori-san closed his eyes and exhaled softly.

“I’m not kind or tolerant. I never was and never will be. In truth, Seishiro-kun, I’ve always only done what pleased me to do,” he told him quietly which wasn’t surprising really, since he was Sakurazukamori and yet… somehow it felt oddly hard to believe.

“Isn’t what everyone does?” he asked curiously, tilting his head slightly before smiling again. “Though, Subaru-san, you really sound and act like the kindest and more honest person I’ve ever met. If you’re not then you should really be a great actor!”

“Maybe it’s just Seishiro-kun who’s overestimating me…” Sakurazukamori-san replied without looking at him. “Besides you’ll grow up being a much better actor than anyone I’ll even know… or maybe…” Seishiro didn’t manage to catch Sakurazukamori-san’s sentence and, when he admitted it, Sakurazukamori-san waved it off, saying it wasn’t important.

Nothing worth of being mentioned was said during the following dinner or the rest of the evening, Sakurazukamori-san leaving him alone in order to go smoking in the garden, under one of the many Sakura trees. Seishiro felt tempted to join him, even though he had no idea why, then decided against it and busied himself with his own homework.

Only that evening it was harder than usual to focus on them. He felt acutely aware of how a stranger who’d stolen from him the title of Sakurazukamori was in his some house, someone who acted so very politely toward him it was disconcerting, somehow who didn’t seem to plan to demand anything from him, someone who was so much stronger than what Seishiro was used to and that yet still had to try to hurt him no matter if Seishiro were to act impudently or carelessly or over familiar or… something else. It was confusing.

He finished studying much later than usual and, when he went to bed, discovered that night too Sakurazukamori-san had decided to sleep there. Evidently he really meant to take possession of Seishiro’s room.

Such a weird man he was, he thought as he quietly snuck in the bed with him, determinately refusing to allow Sakurazukamori-san to chase him away from his own room.

He wasn’t sure if the man was sleeping already, Sakurazukamori-san wasn’t moving and breathing so softly Seishiro had to strain his senses to hear it. Really, sometimes Sakurazukamori-san looked too much like a ghost for Seishiro’s taste. It made him feel the absurd need to touch him to make sure he was real.

Well, at least the smell of blood and cigarettes could insure him the man was really there without embarrassing himself touching him.

Sakurazukamori-san should have changed his clothes, he thought, the ones he was wearing were impregnated in the smell of the blood the man had spilled. Did he have a change of clothes though? Maybe not. Not that it mattered to Seishiro, he reminded himself, it was just… he eyed the man’s back. It was just that smell was annoying, even stronger than the one that permeated his mother, as if the man was trying to suffocate himself in it.

He figured it wouldn’t be appropriate to tell him ‘wash up, Subaru-san, it’s not polite to suffocate the others with this smell’ though it was tempting. Somehow the fact that Sakurazukamori-san smelled so much of blood annoyed him even more than it had done when he’d been forced to smell this scent on his mother… and one day he too would reek of it.

He stared at Sakurazukamori-san’s back, wondering why the man had to sleep turned on the opposite side of where he was. Maybe it was just another habit of his, though it was a real pity. He would have liked to know Sakurazukamori-san’s expression as he slept or pretended to.

He sighed and closed his eyes. He didn’t realize when in felt asleep in the same way as he didn’t realize once he felt asleep, his body unconsciously moved to cling a fully awake Subaru-san who didn’t move to chase him away as Seishiro did so but let him keep on clinging on him as he sleep, as if he were nothing more than Seishiro’s personal Teddy Bear.

Schooldays were all the same to him, he thought as he exited from the gate of the school. He applied to learn everything he was taught with good results, flawless results. He’s good at memorizing things, good at figuring the mechanic that makes them work. His actual teachers doesn’t like him much though, even if they can’t actually say why. His previous could, which meant he had improved in acting in a way they deem less unnerving. He didn’t know exactly why he was deemed unnerving though and why his classmates weren’t, but he was keeping on working on imitating their behaviour just the same. Considering what was going to be his future he wasn’t meant to stand out too much.

When he wasn’t busy with lessons he was also careful to cut some space to devote on ‘socializing with his classmates’ since teachers seemed to find it important. To him sparing them attention was mostly a waste of time. He didn’t really understand why they did what they did nor did he like their company. He had and would spend hours just observing them and then would reproduce their behaviour and still fail to understand them, their liking and disliking.

They simply worried for too many unnecessary things, things Seishiro had no need for, felt so very strongly for things that had no real value in Seishiro’s mind. Seishiro tried hard to figure them out, to figure out the mechanic that made them work but… couldn’t. He could imitate them though, and they seemed to fall for it, to fail to realize his was only an act. Maybe their actions too were an act, a game, a fiction. Maybe they were all actors on the big stage that the world was. He really couldn’t tell nor care.

He observed the students as they went home in groups, chatting and joking among them, sometimes bugging a girl that incidentally went too close to them and wondered where was the fun in doing what they were doing.

Staying together, talking together, joking together, bugging girls together, being ‘a group’.

He’d read on books it was because teenagers were actually rather weak and insecure. Staying together they ‘encouraged each other’, ‘found strength in number’. He thought borrowed courage was rather pointless but maybe that was because he wasn’t weak or insecure and therefore could allow himself the luxury of feeling all right while being alone.

He wondered if the same would apply for Sakurazukamori-san.

How did Sakurazukamori-san worked?

Like his classmates?

Like his teachers?

Like his assorted relatives?

Like his mother?

Or was... Subaru-san... like him?

Would Subaru-san understand him and not be unnerved by how he acted?

Would it be interesting to talk with Subaru-san, with someone who was similar to him? Would they joke together and talk about pointless things and feel pleased while doing so? Would they grow to like spending time together with no purpose as his schoolmates did?

He frowned and wondered from where those odd thoughts had come.

Even if Subaru-san were to be like him, no, even if Sakurazukamori-san were to be like him and understand him, not to be unnerved by him, it wasn’t like _SEISHIRO_ wanted to waste his free time with Sakurazukamori-san. It was bothersome enough to waste it with his classmates.

Sakurazukamori-san would likely think the same. He was the Sakurazukamori after all, a grown up man, he didn’t need to waste his time with Seishiro more than necessary.

Things wouldn’t change even if the Sakurazukamori had changed.

He would keep on being the Sakurazukamori’s heir until he’ll surpass him and then will replace him. It was the usual circle that had been going on for centuries and that would go on for centuries, unaltered.

He opened the house’s door, his eyes immediately taking sight of Sakurazukamori-san’s boots abandoned in the Genkan. He closed the door behind himself then, as usual, removed his shoes, placed them orderly on the Getabako, retrieved his slippers and wore them before moving to search for the man. The signature of his power was so faint he had to strain all his senses to feel them and thought the fact he could perceive it was a proof of his ability. It was almost perfectly hidden and yet Seishiro could feel the faint brush of its warmness on his senses. It felt slightly disturbing how it was so gently warm, so… welcoming, so… different from everything he had perceived before. Everyone else had been just… power, power that was contained and ready to be unlashed, to hurt, to attack, to tear apart. He had always assumed that was how people with power should feel. The man smoking in the snow covered garden, back leaning against a Sakura tree with such abandonment he seemed to lean against a lover, didn’t feel like that at all though.

He had seen him killing, seen him killing wonderfully and precisely. That man was a lethal weapon as any Sakurazukamori was supposed to be so why didn’t he feel as such? Why his aura was so confusing, so mesmerizing? Was that too a disguise, an illusion Seishiro had to learn how to reproduce? And yet… it felt so real, as if Sakurazukamori-san was genuinely warm and gentle, which was simply impossible, wasn’t it? Seishiro stared at Sakurazukamori-san without understanding, the opened fully the door the man had left half close and joined him in the garden.

Sakurazukamori-san didn’t move at first, as if he was completely unaware Seishiro was there and moving closer to him. Sakurazukamori-san simply seemed… a mere statue in the garden, an illusion maybe, then the man took a longer drag from the cigarette he held in between his lips, opened his eyes and stubbed his cigarette on his own gloved palm. Seishiro stared at him, not understanding the sense of the gesture, apart for the fact it probably ruined the gloves, then just waved it off as he smiled cheerfully his best smile.

“I’m home, Subaru-san!” he announced. The man turned toward him, staring at him with his usual expression.

“Welcome home, Seishiro-kun,” he replied simply yet, somehow, he sounded... honest. He didn’t add anything else, just stared at him as if expecting for Seishiro to speak. Seishiro decided he wouldn’t disappoint him.

“Today I got home earlier from school, so that you could have all the time you want to train me,” he explained still careful to keep on smiling cheerfully, though it felt weird to have to explain why he was there. Wasn’t it obvious enough?

“To train you,” the man echoed tonelessly, his lips almost blue due to the cold air. Sakurazukamori-san would do better to get inside the house and warm up, though this seemed the farthest thing from his thoughts. As well as training him. Seishiro wondered if he had maybe done something wrong. Had he failed to deserve the man’s training somehow? Was he going to be punished? Would it be better or worse than what his mother did to him? Should he care? Would it matter?

“Would you prefer me to do something else for you today and postpone the training to another day?” he offered, careful not to show his confusion, careful not to change his expression. “As I’ve said I’m at your complete disposition!” he reminded him. Sakurazukamori-san said nothing at first, just stared at him then sighed and turned his gaze away.

“Feel free to do as it pleases you. Don’t worry on my account, I’m not here to bother you,” the man stated, closing his eyes and wrapping his arms around himself, as if shutting Seishiro out of his vision. Or maybe he was shutting the whole world out of his vision. As pale and still as he was Sakurazukamori-san might have really been exchanged for a statue, something not even alive, something not even of this world. Seishiro felt definitely confused at this unexpected development. This wasn’t something he thought Sakurazukamori-san could say… unless it was some sort of test?

“It wouldn’t bother me to do what you might wish me to do, Subaru-san,” he assured as he tried not to show his confusion, annoyed by how his answer came in a moment more late than he would have liked. “I…”

“You don’t even know what I might want you to do, Seishiro-kun,” the interruption surprised him, prompting him into silence. “You shouldn’t go around offering so lightly things you might not wish to give,” the man warned and, of all the things Seishiro could have been expecting, this kind of scolding wasn’t included.

“I’m your apprentice. You’re the Sakurazukamori. I’m supposed to obey to any of your commands and whims until I’ll be strong enough to… replace you,” he reported, though he couldn’t keep confusion from vaguely slipping out of his voice. He… he simply didn’t get this game Sakurazukamori-san was playing with him.

Sakurazukamori-san opened his eyes and turned his head toward him slowly studying him quietly. Seishiro made sure not to fidget under that odd, mismatched gaze that was looking at him with such an unfamiliar expression.

“Then it won’t bother you to do what I say or you think it’s your duty not to be bothered by it?” the man finally asked. Seishiro shrugged.

“Both I guess. I got used to obey to the previous Sakurazukamori and I don’t see why obeying to you should be any different,” he answered, his lips stretching in a calm smile. It wasn’t exactly true but it wasn’t a lie either. He wasn’t that fond of obeying but he could do it and it really didn’t matter to him which was the person with the role of Sakurazukamori at which he had to obey. This man or his mother… it made no difference to him. Obeying to them was just a stage of his growing up. It would pass once Sakurazukamori-san’s blood would stain his hands.

He saw Sakurazukamori-san frowning slightly at his words, turning his gaze on the ground and away from him, which somehow annoyed Seishiro. There was another unpleasant pause of silence then Sakurazukamori-san closed his eyes and spoke.

“I don’t like the idea of ordering you around like this. You’re not a toy who’s supposed to obey to my whims, you’re a real person with your wishes and dreams,” the man stated. “There are things I might tell you to do or not to do because I’m older and I should know better but… apart from them, consider yourself free to do as you please.”

Seishiro shrugged again. Those pretty words didn’t really tell him much. They didn’t change at all how things worked.

“If that’s what you want, Subaru-san. Then please tell me, what your wise age tells you I should do?” he asked back calmly. The man turned to look at him. He had a peculiar expression on his face, as if he was… saddened by his reply.

“You’d better get in the house,” he finally said. “It’s cold here,” he added.

“As you wish,” Seishiro replied readily, though, as he began to move to return in the house, he noticed Sakurazukamori-san had remained in the position he was in. “Subaru-san if I can ask… aren’t you coming in?” he decided to ask.

The man shook his head.

“Don’t mind about me. Just make sure you’ll get yourself warm,” he replied. Seishiro stared at him for a moment in confusion, then entered in the house. If Sakurazukamori-san didn’t feel like having him around… well, it was his problem, not Seishiro’s. He left the man and moved to his own bedroom… which he now shared with Sakurazukamori-san and sat down on the bed.

He didn’t really understand that guy.

He let himself lie back and stared at the ceiling feeling uncomfortable. He didn’t like that, it was way too similar to how he had felt when he had began playing with his mother. Or maybe it was more proper saying when his mother had began playing with him. It had taken time to get used to it, to learn the rules of her game but he had managed well and was about to win when…

He replayed in his head his mother’s death.

She hadn’t looked happy about it, maybe because Sakurazukamori-san wasn’t the one she loved. Would it be the same for him? Would he have her same expression when he would die? Would it matter?

He closed his eyes tiredly.

His mother had never let him free to be on his own, doing nothing. When he was in her house, he was supposed to always do something to entertain her as any good son should. She had wanted him to be an affectionate, loving son and he had learnt to play the part well although, prior to meeting her, he had never been requested to act as such.

Apart from the ones he got from his mother there hadn’t been hugs or kisses in his childhood, as far as he could remember. His nannies and his stepmother were efficient in handling him and that was all. He was a job to them, this had been his first lesson. His second lesson had been his job was to please them if he didn’t want to be punished. It was a lesson he had learnt well and that had applied in his relation with his mother. The weaker obeys, the stronger commands. That was how the world worked and Seishiro already knew that being weaker wasn’t fun.

His goal was to be the stronger, to be at the top of the pyramid of power so that he wouldn’t have to submit to anyone else and once he would have reached it… then what? He would only be able to wait for someone else that would push him off the top, making him fall down all the way to the hard ground. Such a hearth warming prospective…

If he had to rise high merely to be destined to fall afterward he… wanted to have fun before his demise. He wanted to enjoy himself as he walked the path to destruction. He wanted… he wasn’t sure what. Surely not spending his remaining time as someone’s subordinate, plaything, he though as he turned himself on his side. At least he knew this.

At least he knew this.

When Seishiro woke up later on he wasn’t pleased. It hadn’t been in his plans to fall asleep. He frowned as he stared at the cover someone had placed over him. It really didn’t take much imagination to figure out who could have been that had bothered to cover him.

He felt mocked. Sakurazukamori-san had managed to get close to him enough to cover him and he… he’d sleep through the whole thing. Probably the man refused to train him merely because he judged him not ready yet and with that simple act he’d wanted to remark the concept, to drive the point home. Seishiro wasn’t worth his time. Oh well, he’ll show him.

Though not right then as... Sakurazukamori-san wasn’t in the house.

Had he left for a job? Or to buy some clothes as Sakurazukamori-san seemed to have none? Honestly Seishiro hoped for the latter. It would spare him from doing more sheets laundry.

Sakurazukamori-san returned late in the night. Sadly he had no bags with new clothes and his own were even more stained. Seishiro smoothed his gaze so as to make sure not too look at him in distaste.

“Welcome back, Subaru-san. I hope you didn’t have a too hard day at work,” he greeted in a cheerful tone. Sakurazukamori-san stared at him with that odd gaze of his that Seishiro couldn’t quite understand.

“Thank you,” he said after a long pause, before kneeling to unlatch his own boots. Seishiro was about to try and ask if there was something the man needed him to do when Sakurazukamori-san spoke again. “It’s very late, Seishiro-kun, and you’ve school tomorrow. You should be in bed already. Don’t worry on my account. I won’t expect you to serve me or something.”

“I’m your apprentice, Subaru-san. I’m expected to make myself useful to you and to learn from you how a Sakurazukamori should act,” Seishiro reminded him. “Otherwise you wouldn’t have any reasons to keep alive someone who knows who you are.”

He was tired of this game Sakurazukamori-san was playing, he decided. He wanted to set things between them, he wanted to know which was his place.

Sakurazukamori-san straightened up and stared at him as he walked closer to him. Seishiro remained where he was thought he managed to hold the man’s gaze without wavering, no matter how unnerving and unreadable he found it. Sakurazukamori-san stopped few steps before him and they just studied each other in silence before the man spoke again.

“I understand,” Sakurazukamori-san said simply. “This is what had been taught to you, isn’t it?”

“It’s how it works,” he dared to correct him. “It’s how it had always worked.”

Sakurazukamori-san shrugged tiredly then began walking calmly. Seishiro prepared for an attack. It never came.

“I’m not here to follow tradition. I wasn’t taught it and the more I learn of it the less I like it,” the man stated as he walked past him. “I fear you’ll waste your time expecting me to follow it.”

Seishiro turned to stare at the man’s back, exposed carelessly to him and wondered if he should try an attack. Sakurazukamori-san paused in his track and sighed.

“If it’ll help you, you can try,” he said simply. “If you do though, I’m sorry but I’ve to warn you I won’t be able to let you succeed. I can’t let you kill me and take my place. Not yet, at least.”

Seishiro smiled darkly, fully aware this guy was too good for him, but decided to take his words as an order to try something anyway. However, he didn’t even manage to put himself into motion he found himself trapped in a Maboroshi, his body restrained while Sakurazukamori-san had just... disappeared from the place. He hurriedly freed himself from the branches of Sakura restraining him, knowing for a moment he’d made himself vulnerable and tensed as he expected a blow that... never came.

Sakurazukamori-san had... simply left him there and likely now he was enjoying the show of Seishiro trapped in his Maboroshi like the fool he had been.

The branches had given away easily, too easily, he realized. They had never meant to hold him trapped just... to slow him or distract him. In destroying them Seishiro had likely wasted more energy than they were worth. Actually he doubted Sakurazukamori-san had been affected by their destruction.

He eyed the place he was in, a vast and dark emptiness in which few Sakura petals fluttered in odd directions, up, down, left, right, as if defying gravity or unaffected by it, searching for a weak sides in the illusion and... finding none.

‘I’m not really here, I know where I am,’ he told himself trying to get back into contact with realty and... failing. There was nothing there he could hold to, not even the ground he realized as he looked down. The ground simply... didn’t exist. It took an effort to remain standing into nothingness, not too start a freefalling into it.

He tried to pinpoint Sakurazukamori-san’s signature power, the man couldn’t be far and Seishiro was good at this game but... but realized the man’s presence was all scattered around him, everywhere and nowhere at the same time. This was no good, no good at all.

He would have to use a spell, a powerful one, he decided, although he knew it was a bad idea. Without a target on which to focus it, he would likely end up wasting more energy than it was needed, and risk a serious Sakanagi as well, without any insurance his action would affect Sakurazukamori-san.

Oh well, no risk, no gain, he mused as he prepared himself, Ofuda in his hand. He didn’t manage to finish the words of the spell though as the Ofuda was suddenly ripped from his hand and burned, leaving only ashes to fall on he floor of the house. He blinked for a second as he realized Sakurazukamori-san was standing in front of him, the illusion of nothingness dissipated then... attacked, he tried to strike the man with all his strength and... hit only air as Sakurazukamori-san quickly moved away.

Fast, he mused as he tried again and... failed. Sakurazukamori-san was fast but he also looked tired and... and he found himself trapped into the darkness again, almost falling into it, as darkness caught him in mid motion and he almost deluded himself into thinking he lost his footing when he saw only darkness under it. He caught himself though. He couldn’t see the floor but the floor had to be under him. It had to be.

“Oh, so that’s the game? If I’ll try break your illusion with a spell, will you try to stop me again?” he wondered out loud with a grin that hid his tension, a side of him enjoying the game while the other feeling the danger of it.

‘If you try with which Ofuda?’ Sakurazukamori-san’s voice echoed all around him and Seishiro frowned as he realized... he had none. He should have thought, he should, he... ‘Careful, or you’ll fall,’ Sakurazukamori-san voice warned him but it was too late, he had lost balance, he had let the Maboroshi take control of his senses, he was freefalling into darkness, he was... falling sit on the floor, the illusion dissipating again, Sakurazukamori-san standing in front of him.

“I’ve learnt this... ‘game’ from the best,” the man said simply, his gaze pained, as if tormented by sad memories. “I could keep it up all the night but, as I said, it’s late and tomorrow you’ve school. Go to bed, Seishiro-kun.”

“I don’t want to,” he countered rebelliously, knowing he should deserve to be punished for this but thinking punishment would be better than… this. He was familiar with punishment. This way of handling things that Sakurazukamori-san had instead… he didn’t know it, it unsettled him. No blow came though as the man just stared at him as one would to a complaining child. He would get nothing from this man by… being rebellious. Time to try in another way. “Let’s... play again this game of yours, Subaru-san. I can be a good student. I won’t bore you,” he offered. He saw the man gazing at him somewhat... sadly? Was that what was reflected in his mismatched eyes? Sadness? Then Sakurazukamori-san turned his gaze away from him, his eyes closing.

“If that’s what you really want from me... we’ll do it another time. Not now,” he stated. “Not now,” he repeated before slowly beginning to walk away.

“Is it because you don’t judge me good enough? Am I not good enough to play with you, Subaru-san? Sakurazukamori-san?” he asked, quickly standing, hating how his normally composed voice sounded laced with... irritation, he believed. But he was annoyed, he was annoyed at being carelessly dismissed by this man who’d snatched away from him the title of Sakurazukamori, the title for which he’d been prepared through all his life, and now was simply... ignoring him, as if he wasn’t worth the bother, as if all Seishiro had learnt, all he’d done, all he went though was... nothing really. He didn’t exist to that man, he’d failed to archive what he’d been born for and he’d been spared merely because he wasn’t worth being killed, he...

“No, Seishiro-kun, that’s not it,” Sakurazukamori-san told him pausing in his track, his head lowered. “I would never judge you ‘not good enough’ nor you would ever be capable to… bore me. I know you’re capable. But as I said is late, tomorrow you’ve school and you must go to bed. It would be bad if you were forced to skip hours of sleep and then be tired during your school time just... for _this_...” There was an odd note in the man’s voice as he said ‘this’, as if with it he referred to something he despised. Seishiro blinked as his explanation made no sense to him. It was a lie, an excuse, there could not be any other explanation. But then why should Sakurazukamori-san make up an explanation? He didn’t understand...

Sakurazukamori-san seemed to sense his confusion and turned toward him slightly.

“At your age, Seishiro-kun, I had to skip sleep and school most of the time and it did me no good,” he went on explaining. “Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you but I don’t like it when it happens to other people. Especially if they’re around me and I can do something to avoid it.”

Seishiro frowned, trying to make sense of Sakurazukamori-san’s words. Maybe it was because it brought up bad memories? Had the man hated it so much still now he didn’t want to be reminded of that time in any way possible?

Sakurazukamori-san shrugged, turning his gaze away from him.

“Don’t worry. I’m not asking you to understand. That’s just how I am. You don’t have to feel the same as me about things. Actually, because it’s your right to feel differently from me, you might end up never understanding me. It’s all right. No matter how hard we try, understanding others... there’s no way to know what one truly feel for us, common people. And for those who know… it might bring more grief than anything else. Even though… I still think sometimes it would be nice if people could just… understand each other.”

“How would this understanding act come in use in our line of work?” he asked tilting his head, wondering if there was a lesson in what the man was saying. After all it was the first time he spoke so much, he wouldn’t do it if he didn’t thought it was of some use, would he? “Is it to blend among people better so they wouldn’t realize who we are?” he ventured. “We’ve to ‘understand’ others so that we can hide ourselves among them better?” Sakurazukamori-san turned to look at him fully, his eyes widening slightly. Then they saddened somewhat, lowering their gaze.

“You never felt the need to try to understand someone else, did you? There was never a person whose feelings you wanted to understand, there was never a person with whom you wanted to bond,” he commented and Seishiro shrugged.

“Well, I tried to anticipate others when it can serve my purposes but for this bond thing… where’s the purpose? People use words like love, friendship, bonds but it’s actually all about themselves. They love who makes them feel good, they’re friend with who’s fitting with their hobbies and interests, they bond with who’s closed to them. There’s no understanding, there’s self interest. People make an effort to understand you only when they want to use you as a pawn, when they’ve not the physical strength or the power to get from you what they want so they’ve to use their brains to get it. I see it every day. My classmates... the teachers... their so called relations... everything turns around themselves. Nobody made an effort to understand the creepy, silent, glass eyed kid who sat on his own at the bottom of my class in elementary school and that looked of no particular use to them. He was weak and his only use to them was to get bullied, made fun of, kicked while the teachers were turning their gazes away because it had nothing to do with them. It was only when he learnt how to blackmail them and manipulate others that he was left quiet,” Seishiro explained. “That’s the only thing understanding is good about and the only case in which others make an effort to understand who’s around them: when they’ve something to gain.”

“I see...” Sakurazukamori-san said quietly, though he didn’t seem to agree with him. Seishiro frowned.

“You find my explanation dissatisfying, don’t you?” he stated. “Why is that? Isn’t it reasonable enough?”

“It’s not unreasonable,” the man replied. “But we’re back to square one. You feel this way, I don’t feel this way. And even though you’ve explained me your vision... I can’t understand it. And if I were to explain you mine... you wouldn’t understand. So we’re stuck without a...” he paused, swallowed before continuing. “... without a bridge called ‘understanding’ between our two perceptions of the world and, like this, neither of us can advance toward the other.”

Seishiro’s frown deepened. Well, definitely he didn’t understand this man and... didn’t like it. It made him unsure of what to expect from him.

“Thank you for sharing your vision of the world with me,” Sakurazukamori-san said in the meantime. “Even though as of now I can’t understand it, I’ll try to wrap my mind around it since you took care to share it with me. But now, Seishiro-kun, you’ll really do better to go to bed. Goodnight,” he stated with a tone of finality before turning and leaving. Seishiro continued frowning, feeling annoyed. He really, really wanted to get stronger soon and get rid of Sakurazukamori-san and of the annoyance caused by dealing with him, he decided even though he decided to follow the man’s suggestion and go to bed. However he paused on the door, stuck by a sudden through and turned to look at the man.

“Subaru-san… you aren’t going to tell me you bonded with someone who wasn’t profitable for you, did you? That would be…” Impossible? Absurd? Silly? Enviable? Now… from where the last thought had come? He surely wouldn’t want to do something useless like bonding without a purpose, would he?

“Stupid beyond belief?” Sakurazukamori-san finished for him, turning his head away from him, his gaze downcast.

“I didn’t mean to say that,” Seishiro assured and it was true because not only it wouldn’t be wise to imply he might thought someone stronger than him was stupid beyond belief but mostly because he simply didn’t think that someone who would rise to the position of Sakurazukamori would do something like that. Sakurazukamori-san didn’t immediately reply to him though and Seishiro wondered if this meant the man didn’t plan to give him an answer and that he was supposed to leave. Then…

“Seishiro-kun, the person I loved more than the world itself didn’t care at all about me. For him I was nothing else but a thing that was there. Yet I wouldn’t hesitate a second to sacrifice everything for him,” he finally said. Seishiro frowned. It made no sense whatsoever.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because he was him and I am me. It’s something you feel, not something you reason over. I’m sorry, I don’t know how to explain it any better,” the man admitted. Silence fell again.

“Try to forget what I said, Seishiro-kun. It’s a dangerous thing to love someone so much you lose sight of everything else, even of the most important thing in the world,” Sakurazukamori-san said all of sudden. “It’s madness and I don’t wish you to understand it because you can understand only through experiencing and this… this isn’t a fate I want to befall on you. Forget it and never indulge into the thought of such madness. Just get some rest,” he recommended and then began to walk toward the window that lead to the garden, evidently deeming the discussion ended.

Seishiro nodded and left obediently though he couldn’t obediently forget what had been told to him. To love someone like that… it made no sense to him, it had no use. But maybe that was what people called ‘to love someone to the point of madness’. Madness didn’t really have to make sense for normal people so being madly in love was probably similar. Seishiro… couldn’t wrap his mind around such an useless thing yet it… intrigued him? Like a riddle of which he couldn’t find the solution, like a jar of strawberry jam he had been told not to touch. He wanted to taste it, to touch it, to see for himself if it made sense or not.

And why shouldn’t he indulge himself, he wondered. People around him fell in love all the time, teenager crushes were so common he lost count of how many of his classmates had fallen victims of them, and more than once at that!

His eyes fell on the mirror and he saw himself and the truth behind his empty golden eyes.

He won’t indulge himself because he wasn’t able to. He couldn’t feel so much as interest in others, he couldn’t see them any more than puppets in a play someone else dictated so… how could he go so far as to form a bond with one of them, a bond so deep it would surpass the meaning of crush, a bond so intense it would be called mad love?

How had Sakurazukamori-san come to love someone like that anyway?

He said it was because he was himself. So did that mean than Seishiro, being Seishiro, couldn’t? That he was… different by others like that, crippled like that?

Was someone unable to have feelings for others even human? If the others were puppet… was he also one? Tied by strings of fate that dictated him to be this or that, forced into the position of Sakurazukamori’s heir just because, without any other direction than the one given to him because… well, no direction even made sense for him?

He didn’t know. He lied down and stared at the ceiling but it offered no deep revelation and ultimately he fell asleep, unsatisfied and confuse.

Don't grumble silently, please let me know what you're thinking of this!
Send me your comments!

(Anonymous) on February 16th, 2015 07:47 am (UTC)
Ahhh Subaru :'(...JJ once again you amaze me with your ability to describe Subaru and Seishirou so well! This story made me relive the pain Subaru went through...the part where he said to love someone to madness...I could again see him clinging to Seishirou on Rainbow bridge. So sad...

Regardless if you do finish this story or not, you are incredible. Never stop writing! And never stop being passionate about these two :P.

Sorry for taking this long to come back and read this story...it has been a hectic few weeks! But Im absolutely happy coming back and reading this! Oh and I also wanted to say teen Seishirou is so cute ^_^

-Aisya N.
J.J. Blue: SxSjjblue1 on February 16th, 2015 11:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Subaru really was pretty unlucky and his story is rather painful.
Thank you for coming back and for letting me know you've enjoyed this. I've been so silent for so long I know people have forgotten about me so when someone show up to tell me he still enjoys my works I'm really happy!