❯ .hack//LIMINALITY – Call Me Kamikaze ( Chapter 1 )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]

Subaru Sumeragi sat alone on a bench. A faint wisp of cigarette smoke disappeared into the darkening air above him, coiling like a snake from the extended cigarette until it spread itself too thin and died. The line of ash coming from the tip was in desperate need of flicking, though soon the weight of it would break it from its filter. Then it would catch the wind and float away, spraying off in a million different directions.

In fact, Subaru had all but forgotten that he held the cigarette between two fingers, instead staring at the sky as it turned from a light blue to purple, signaling nighttime was upon Tokyo. There was something calming about the sight, and peace was something that Subaru didn’t take for granted.

Nature had reached a crux; the chirping of the birds that flew about during daylight were fading, barely cresting over the buzzing of nighttime insects abandoning their hiding places to stalk through the moist grass. They wandered about, looking for food and mate without any clue what they were doing, creatures of instinct. He could relate to that; the pulling inside that called for result without clear reason. Yes, that was the way Subaru lived his life. And peace was nowhere in sight.

Subaru wished that he could meet them there, to slither between the towering blades of grass like the insects. It seemed to him that letting instinct guide him rather than time would prove to be soothing, though he knew that was not the truth. As it stood now, every second was both painfully slow and dizzyingly fast in a syncopated dance of confusion and displacement. He had yet to find a medium between instinct and thought.

It was as if every second of every day threatened to push him over the edge into a void beyond his imagination, and he was in a constant whirlwind that would not let him go. That was the state of his displacement; so bad now that he felt as if he were no longer a part of the world. He felt like a ghost, haunting the world, and watching from so great a distance that no one neither saw nor felt him.

With a soft grunt, Subaru flicked the cigarette away, and it sizzled in the distance as the dewy grass wet the flaming tip. The wind had begun to pick up, blowing his hair from his forehead and perking him from his walking dream. With narrow eyes, Subaru studied the sky where gray clouds had begun to form, turning it from purple to black. The wind was too quick, too sudden.

The air crackled with strange electricity, and Subaru gave a shiver despite his best effort to contain it. The force of his internal vibration tickled his spine and gave him goosebumps, and he sucked in a deep breath as he closed his eyes. Above his numbness came this insatiable gripping of his senses, and Subaru felt suspended in time, floating within the feeling of his entire body wrapped in warmth and electricity.

Yes, very strange.

A bird screamed in the distance, a loud, sharp cry that sounded ominous to his alerted ears.

Rising to his feet, he closed his eyes again and lifted his face to the sky again. Taking a deep breath, the air around him grew thick even as the wind began to blow harder, his long white coat flapping behind him with the sound of beating wings. Starting, something soft hit his face, and the gasp that came from his lips was caught in the wind and blow away, not even heard by his own ears.

Reaching up, Subaru swiped at his face, catching something in his palm. Bringing it down into his field of wary vision, he opened the cupped hand. Inside, resting against the curve of his palm, was a single black feather.

For a moment, as he stared at the black feather, he felt as if he had been sucked from the planet, dizzy and caught up again in an endless spiral that spun him around and around without end. Inside of his chest, his heart started to pound with excitement and a nervousness that sickened his stomach and filled him with dread. Yet he was thrilled. Subaru was triumphant and furious all at once. So familiar, this heated elation.

Closing his palm, the feather squeezed tightly in his fingers as he let out a soft grunt of anger. Turning his hand over, he let the feather fall to the ground. Only, it was not a feather that came from his hand but a single pink leaf; a sakura leaf.

« Seishirou… » he whispered, shivering again as he whispered the name into the gusting wind. That would explain the odd shift in weather and atmosphere.

The electricity in the air spun around, forming a horizontal cone. He could follow it to where it originated, find the vanishing point where it peaked and there the Sakurazukamori would be. Before Subaru could sense out this point, the air around him exploded, ground rumbling under his feet and knocking him off balance. Catching himself before he fel, the sounds of people in the park crying out drowned beneath the sound of something far more monstrous and far more dangerous.

A puff of smoke covered the gray sky, circling in the wind from where it rose. On fire was a tall building, the new television tower. The peak spouted flames like a match, poles slowly breaking loose and falling as the moving of the earth shook them free. Every time a piece hit the ground, dirt and concrete sprayed into the air. Almost as if it were playing out in a dream, or through a film of glass, Subaru witnessed the park exploding into chaos.

Very faintly, in the fire that consumed the tower, Subaru could see a small black spec at the very tip.

His heart leapt to his throat.

His feet began to move before his brain kicked in, driving him towards the tower that would crumble any second. As unsteady as the ground was, Subaru managed to leap deftly over the fallen debris. New pieces of metal, wrought from where they had been welded, fell from the sky over him, and he escaped them seconds before they crashed to the ground. It was an amazing feat considering his eyes remained on the Sakurazukamori overhead.

It took nothing to climb the tower, grabbing poles of connected steel as he hopped from layer to layer. The tower grew smaller as he reached the top. The heat swallowed his face, and Subaru felt the warmth pulse from the licking flames. So close to him.

The chaos below had faded into nothingness; he stared at the back of Seishirou through the red flame, listening to the roar above the wind. It would be impossible for him to walk through the fire, so he thought quickly, dangling from the edge by one hand and his feet braced.

Pushing himself up, he jumped above the fire, pulling a single white card from his pocket. Etched on the back was a black pentagram, the ofuda catching the wind and blowing towards the fire. Seishirou stood in the middle of the fire, protected from the circle of searing flame by the inverted pentagram that he stood in. The wind blew against his stark black hair, coat billowing out and almost touching the flames as they danced together. Nothing else on the Sakurazukamori moved, though surely he had to know that Subaru was almost upon him.

Subaru, falling down towards the fire, had just enough time to cry out his spell, « Noubu aratannou tarayaaya… Nou makuariya mitabaya… Tatagyataya arakatei sanmyaku sambodya! »

A bright blue light spread from the card as it burst, raining over the flames. For a moment, the wind picked up drastically, grabbing the flame in it and carrying them away from the tower. As he landed with soft feet, Seishirou was already turning around, a smile on his face. He seemed most welcoming, always the picture of gentlemanly calm.

« Subaru-kun, » he whispered.

Subaru stared at him with violent green eyes eyes, putting his hands out with his palms up towards the waning sun, concentrating hard on them despite the rattling of his will as Seishirou whispered his name.

« On abokya beiroshanam! »

Out of his hand came a ball of light. As it spread, it took on the shape of the pentagram on the back of his ofuda. So light was it that it was almost transparent, growing massive in the span of just seconds. The kekkai grew for a mile in every direction until it locked out the world, leaving only the two of them in the spiritual barrier.

Seishirou looked at him through the dark lenses of his glasses, laughing with delight. His hands were pushed into the pockets of his long, black coat. He didn’t move from the pentagram that was the mark of his assassin clan, looking completely amused that Subaru stood before him shuddering with contained anger.

« I’ve got no time to play with you today, Subaru-kun, » Seishirou finally called, as serious in tone as he was in appearance. « There is still work to be done. Save your vengance for another time, we’ll see each other again. »

« No! » Subaru said in a strong voice, shaking his head and pulling out a fan of ofuda from his pocket, spreading them in his fingers as he prepared to throw them towards the Sakurazukamori. « You’re not leaving until we’ve settled this. »

« So it seems I am stuck here, » Seishirou commented since the kekkai kept them in the other dimension together, separated from Tokyo. His next motion was carefree and playful, shrugging to Subaru. « I suppose I have no other choice. »

The glare in Subaru’s eyes was hotter even than the fire he had put out as he tensed his body, preparing for Seishirou’s next move. His gaze didn’t once falter as Seishirou slowly took the glasses from his face, exposing his blind eye last. The other eye was cold, calculating, but alive. Subaru marveled that once he had seen feeling in them, even if it had been a lie. They had one seemed so kind, and his words of adoration were sincere.

« Should I have not wrecked this building? » Seishirou asked, giving a sweep with one of his hands. Subaru tensed again, though the hand was revealed to be empty and posed no threat.

« I don’t care about the building, » Subaru said with a snort, holding the cards over his shoulder as he prepped to throw them. « Or the people. You could wreck all of Tokyo and I wouldn’t care one bit. My fight is with you. »

« Promising, » Seishirou murmured. « You’ve got potential, Subaru. I thought as a Dragon of Heaven you be more concerned with the world, and the people destroying it little by little. »

« Like you care at all about the so called ‘people distroying the Earth,' » Subaru accused with slit eyes. Seishirou let out a gentle, deep laugh, giving a shrug of indifference.

Subaru had enough, tossing the cards towards Seishirou like a dozen knives. They cut through the sky, racing towards the smiling man.

With an easy effort, Seishirou lifted a hand as if he were going to block the cards that way. « On kirikyara harara futaranbaswoha! » Suddenly, the white cards caught fire and dissolved into nothing, ashes floating to the ground at Seishirou’s feet. The assassin gave a laugh, shaking his head slowly from side to side, « You are going to have to try harder than that, Subaru-kun. Haven’t you been practicing for this moment? Perhaps you should come back in a few years… though that may very well not come to be. The earth will be destroyed. »

The spell Seishirou had used to stop the ofuda cards from striking him with their own spell had also destroyed the kekkai, along with Subaru’s dying will to fight this battle. Subaru could feel the solid protection of it melting away around him, transporting them back into the chaotic fervor of Tokyo in the midst of a disaster.

Seishirou’s amber eye glinted with unconcieled amusement, the man mocking him with his seeming careless ease, while Subaru stood panting and shuddering with rage. Why did Seishirou do this? Why did he always have to look so calm and collected while tearing Subaru down little by little? Subaru loved himself that he gave in, feeding Seishirou’s pleasure with his unease, his pure, unsated desperation.

So easily brushed aside.

All Subaru wanted was to mean something; to be important enough to Seishirou to make him show any emotion, even anger. Hate and love was the same to Subaru now, he had come to terms with that years ago when he realized that he was desperately in love with a man who had killed his own twin sister. Subaru was a monument of self- loathing, but it was all he had to keep him alive. It was his motivational force, the driving center that led him again and again to these same spots, always on the look out for the one person alive that mattered.

Even if he mattered nothing.

Subaru was snapped out of his silence by a slick tickle running down his cheek. Reaching up, his fingers came back covered in blood, the thick red liquid shining on the tips. Blood had been trickling unnoticed down his temple until now.

For some reason he sighed as he looked at the blood, felt oddly fulfilled.

« Like I said, I’ve got no time to play with you, » Seishirou repeated, the inverted pentagram around him beginning to glow with a bright red light. Subaru shielded his eyes, watching as Seishirou took a step back to the near rim of the tower tip. Casually, he stepped over, falling and vanishing into the air.

Subaru touched his unmarred skin, having gotten away from the battle without a single scratch. His hands were shaking, balling into fists to keep them still as a choked scream caught in his chest. Tears gathered in his eyes, blinding him. With knees that had turned to water, Subaru fell to them on top of the tower, dropping to his hands and knees as he contained his cry of rage.

Another chance gone. Seishirou was surely toying with him.

« Seishirou… » he breathed, though the name was surprisingly without the slightest hint of anger or malice. The sound was soft, supplicant… helpless. He felt and looked like a lost boy, searching the sky in vain.