He opened his eyes slowly, and the light invaded his senses. It blinded him at first; he had become used to moving in half as much.
He had become used to the ever-present hint of darkness.
"Tell me, Sumeragi..." the low, velvet voice caressed his senses, like a feather tickling in his ears. The tone was insolent, suggestive, as were the words that followed "How does it feel to have him inside of you?"
Vague shapes coalesced into discernable forms he could name. The owner of the voice stood in front of him, golden eyes intent on his above the frames of stylish and quite useless glasses, a hint of a lopsided smirk on the sensuous mouth.
"Whatever's left of him, of course." He continued in that smooth tone that somehow tittered on the edge of being vulgar. "Is it everything you remember it to be? Full eyesight, I mean."
Sumeragi Subaru ignored the question, not feeling any particular desire to indulge the young man before him. Instead he fished inside the pocket of his trenchcoat for a box of cigarettes. He didn't acknowledge the other's presence until he'd lit one and taken his first drag off it.
"Why are you still here? You've seen that Seishirou's Wish was granted, your presence here serves no continued purpose. Fuuma."
Throwing in the name was an afterthought, almost insulting in its casualness. Fuuma's half-smile didn't falter at it, but his eyes flashed for an instant before regaining their honeyed amusement.
"Doesn't it? You're the sakurazukamori now, and one of the Dragons of Earth. Since I am Kamui, I thought I would serve as the welcoming committee."
"How very thoughtful of you." He replied, insincerity plain in his voice.
"My pleasure, Subaru."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
It had been calling him for some time now.
Subaru had first heard the tree's whispers shortly after Rainbow Bridge, while he'd sat contemplating the advantages of catatonia in his room at the mansion at CLAMP Campus. More than anything else, it had been the shock of realizing what those faint echoes were that had kept him from lapsing into welcome, mindless oblivion.
Shock had faded fairly quickly once he stopped to think about it; afterall, Seishirou had told him the manner in which /he/ had become the sakurazukamori. At first he'd braced himself against what he'd assumed would be an attack on his consciousness, but the whispers remained at the edge of his awareness, just beyond the threshold of comprehension, and he felt no need to either block or seek out their source. He supposed it must have something to do with the fact that he hadn't actually /intended/ to take Seishirou's life, that, in fact, he had been a sort of suicide weapon in the older man's hand.
The tree was undoubtedly confused by the irregularities surrounding the death of the last sakurazukamori.
Fuuma's words of warning as he'd offered him the flask containing Seishirou's left eye had confirmed Subaru's speculations.
"Accepting this means you're accepting the powers of the sakurazukamori as well."
He wondered if Seishirou had known he would have to /choose/ to accept, and what his intentions had been if he had. The assassin had long since marked Subaru as his prey, to do with as he wished. He'd claimed the right to impose on him either death or life, and he had also been dictating the specifics of Subaru's continued existence for some time now. Since he was a six year-old boy, to be exact.
And so it had come as somewhat of a surprise that in the end, Seishirou had, whether he'd planned it or not, left this final choice entirely up to Subaru.
/Do you, Sumeragi Subaru, accept this man as your everything and your master, now that death has finally done you apart?/
Evidently, he did.
"You know," Fuuma's velvet voice once again intruded on his silence "I keep thinking about this, and I keep coming back to the conclusion that walking around Tokyo in a white, blood-stained coat just /can't/ be one of your better ideas."
Subaru's eyes flickered briefly to his companion, but he didn't bother to dignify the comment with a response. After several hours in his company, the former Seal had come to the conclusion that Fuuma /enjoyed/ trying to get under his skin. Subaru got the distinct impression that he thought it was funny. No one had told /him/ that the Dark Kamui had a sense of humor.
Fuuma was unfazed by the silence, and opted for taking it up a notch instead. He hooked an arm around Subaru's neck as they passed a department store's window, effectively making the onmyouji stop.
"For instance, wouldn't that nice dark red hide the blood better?" Fuuma's breath was hot in Subaru's ear. "Not to mention, /he/ used to say you look awfully pretty in red."
Subaru fought down a rush of anger by lighting yet another cigarette (they did calm his nerves, afterall), refusing to so much as twitch as Fuuma's thumb started stroking his neck in lazy circles.
"Did he now?" he asked coldly, exhaling the smoke directly into the young man's face.
"Oh, yes. He said your sister had a much more developed sense of fashion than you ever did."
Without blinking, Subaru pushed Fuuma's hand away roughly and resumed walking. Low laughter followed like a caress, and made him want to grit his teeth. He opted for a second drag off his cigarette instead.
He had gone several blocks before he realized that Fuuma wasn't planning on following him. This was just fine with him, he hadn't exactly been relishing the notion of the smug Dark Kamui being a witness to whatever it was that awaited him when he reached his destination.
Whatever it was that awaited him... at Ueno Park.
The tree was no longer whispering.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
There was fresh blood on his trenchcoat now, still wet to the touch and slightly warm.
He supposed there was some truth to what Fuuma had said. He really shouldn't be attracting this sort of attention to himself. Seishirou never had.
"Seishirou-san." The words escaped from his lips as his slender fingers trailed to one of the older, dry stains.
He knew the feel of all of those, and their smell. A little like iron, shortly before it rusts. Sometimes, when he ran his nails across those old stains, tiny flakes would break off and drift away, the way sakura petals might drift on the breeze.
Slowly and not without reluctance, Subaru slid the white coat off his own shoulders. He gathered the bloody cloth between his hands tightly. He closed his eyes, allowing memories to sweep through him, memories so old and distant that he might have believed they weren't his at all, and others so very new, as sharp as the slightly rusty smell of blood on his coat.
He should have felt something. He wanted to feel something.
But he was empty.
The last of his tears had been shed that day at Rainbow Bridge.
He sensed rather than heard Fuuma's approach. It was logical, he supposed, since he was a Dragon of Earth now. He was still holding the coat, but his arms went slack. He turned cold, impassive eyes towards Fuuma.
"Did you want something?" he asked in a flat voice.
"As in, /wish/? Me?" This seemed to strike the young man as funny, and he let out a slow, low laugh, a laugh that fell like velvet on Subaru's ears. "Why, yes, I do, several things, in fact. Thank you for asking. No one ever does."
Subaru ignored him, although he had to admit that this was getting steadily more difficult as the hours passed.
Fuuma's laughter subsided abruptly and he studied Subaru intently, his golden eyes suddenly very bright and clear above the rim of his glasses. They were a predator's eyes, those, when he allowed them to shine that way.
"We're not really so very different, or at least, the circumstances that shaped us aren't. No one ever bothered to ask /you/ what you wanted either." He tilted his head to one side, the half-smile playing on his lips again "Except for me, that is."
Subaru's hand drifted up involuntarily. He stopped himself before touching /his/ eye. "Seishirou-san did ask, once, at the end."
Fuuma smirked openly now. "Oh yes. But your answer didn't make much difference, did it?"
The onmyouji didn't answer. His fingers twitched slightly; he wanted a cigarette.
"And we have other things in common too," he continued in that other insolent, amused tone. "We're both high-school dropouts, for instance. We both have dead parents. And a dead sister, as well."
"Yes, well, I didn't kill mine."
"Oh? Didn't you?"
Fuuma's eyes met and held his gaze, and the onmyouji wondered if it was just wishes that the Dark Kamui could see. He wondered if he could see beyond his dead eyes.
"Is this your idea of bonding, or is there another point to this?" he finally asked.
"Oh, there's a point." Fuuma said, closing the distance between them with a fluid, feline grace. "I thought you might need this, after servicing your new sweetheart."
Fuuma pushed a bundle he'd been holding towards him. Subaru looked down at it but made no move to take it.
"Didn't anyone object to you taking that?"
"Of course not. They were too busy worrying about the ceiling collapsing over their heads."
So /that/ was why he had stayed behind.
Fuuma actually rolled his eyes in exasperation. "You might as well put it on. Yours is ruined now anyway."
Subaru shrugged and thrust his white coat at Fuuma, taking the bundle from his hands. He slid the new coat on, feeling a strange sense of déjà vu. Except that wasn't precisely right. That other coat had been a bright cherry red, while this one was a deep crimson. Blood would, indeed, be hidden in its color.
"Give me the other one."
"What, this one?" Fuuma looked mildly surprised "What for?"
He didn't answer. Fuuma studied him for a moment before smirking again.
"Oh. I see." He said, touching one of the patches of dried blood.
Subaru snatched the coat away from him. Fuuma laughed again, that same soft, caressing laughter. Then he reached out and, stepping closer still, straightened Subaru's collar.
"He was right." He whispered by Subaru's ear. "You do look pretty in red."