Series: Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle
Rating: R; definitely a big fat old R now
Archive: Fallen Icons, Light Up
Pairing: Vampire twincest (aka Subaru +/x Kamui)
Warnings: Blood, a lot more gore, disturbing, graphic imagery, vampirism, surrealism, present tense, more than slight hints of incest, spoilers for Tsubasa up through volume 18
Disclaimer: I don't own Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle or any of its characters. They are the property of CLAMP and I'm only playing in their sandbox. No profit is intended.
Summary: 'The earth is dead here, lost under layers of stone and gravel, a graveyard of abandoned temples...'
Thank you to: amet as always even if this part did get me a look. ^~
Author’s Notes: Another chapter up (and mostly a Subaru chapter at that) and this one while still surreal is also a lot more graphic and squicky so if bloodshed and evisceration don't float your boat ... Uh... yeah. Might not want to continue with this one. Likewise if you're easily disturbed this is not the fic for you.
Not wanting to discourage anyone, I just want to throw out those warnings so I'm not accused of any untoward scarring later.
All that being said, I hope you will read and enjoy!
C & C welcome.
Dream a Little Dream
A Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle story
Kamui drowned once. It's one of Subaru's earliest memories, a general malaise of oblivious comfort and ignored discomfort fading away in the face of that, able still to recall the sharp slap of water choking lungs that were breathing in spite of the weight he felt upon them, constricting in a dizzy panic.
Subaru had been born wrong; the birth had breeched, Kamui delivered first, safely into the world, his mother later remarking on even then he'd made his displeasure known, shrieking at the top of his lungs. But no sooner had the midwife delivered Kamui into the waiting arms of their aunt then she'd been faced with the prospect of a woman still in labor, "blessed" by the gods with two babies and not one, the second of which had somehow turned in the womb. He should have been born minutes after Kamui but two hours of steady work, of pushing and then pulling would pass until their mother had been able to push him through, umbilical cord nearly crushed in those few minutes. Subaru had not been breathing when he was finally delivered. His mother had later said that she had been lucky as the midwife had displayed some skill and her sister had been stubborn enough to insist the woman employ every bit of her art to save the second child, Kamui's howls ceasing only when Subaru drew his first breath, a weak scrap of sound heralding his arrival into the land of the living.
His mother's arm had slid around him when she finally told them both the tale, gaze sharpening, possessive as if she still feared him slipping from her, the late afternoon sun streaming in from the window behind her, brown hair tinted with hints of red and it's always that image of his mother that's the most clear for him. Less human and more … a representation of what a mother should be, fierce and loving, a moment of time caught with all the brilliance of an artist's hand, everything reduced to composition and background. No sound, no real concrete sense of touch, just that expression, set in a face that's somewhere between his and Kamui's, the stubborn arch of her jaw and the softness of her eyes.
This is mother, it says and Subaru understands even if the connections that bound him to her are now long since severed.
So he was born and set apart from those around him even then. His mother had remarked that Subaru had been a quiet baby, spindly and weak where Kamui had been lusty and healthy, others remarking more than once that the gods had given their mother two babies because one was obviously not long for this world. Perhaps they had been disappointed when Subaru survived, displaying a stubbornness that rivaled his twin, an inner core of strength that was entirely his own. Subaru had survived, his mother devoting herself to ensure it, keeping him close, sometimes coddled their aunt would remark later on, constantly checking and fussing over him. It was always like that, his mother displaying a protective streak that rivaled any she-bear where Subaru was concerned, her exasperation directed towards Kamui, particularly in his more headstrong moments, railing at him where she did not at the younger twin and Subaru wonders if it's because she was convinced Kamui would survive regardless.
In those days, Subaru had been less interested in the world around him and more so in the one inside his head, drifting away from his mother's sometimes intrusive touch, content to play in corners or to let Kamui lead him around, sticky fingers clasped around dirty ones. He's always been able to feel Kamui, always had some sense of him, fragments of thoughts filtering in on waves of stronger emotions, Subaru letting himself feel and see things through that cocoon.
Those who had expected him to die early had then shaken their heads and pitied Kamui and their mother because Subaru was obviously soft, mentally deficient, taking Kamui's quick ascension into speech as a sure sign of that. Their mother had been more circumspect, remarking on more than one occasion, Kamui had only been precocious in the respect because he'd wanted the opportunity to yell and be understood before adding that he spoke more than enough for the both of them.
It hadn't bothered Subaru so much then; he could speak when he put his mind to it, acquiring words at a lazy pace, understanding much better than he generated sounds, too taken with simply listening, seeing in words millions of shades and colors, sometimes bright and others darker, more sinister. He liked the pictures they created in his head, even when the word and the reality didn't match up. The sounds themselves were amusing to listen to, another drop in the background of noise, unable to distinguish why the moo of a cow might be less important than someone railing at him for stranding in the doorway too long. He liked the world his mind created for him far more than the one that was, a kingdom of sensation and drifting images, puzzles that sometimes he put together and ones he preferred to leave undone, finding in them an unpleasantness that made him shy further away from reaching beyond his private circle.
And if he babbled and played with animals or plants more than the people who visited the house, Subaru saw nothing wrong with it. They didn't push or make odd clucking noises, prodding him with sharp fingers or speaking to him in increasingly loud tones as if he couldn't hear and they shouted enough, they might get a suitable answer out of him.
He hadn't needed words to communicate with either Kamui or their mother, Kamui just knowing through their twin bond what he needed and their mother through an odd short-hand they worked out, picking out through flexing fingers and insistent grunts that he wanted to be held or was hungry. Most of the people who spoke to him did so in tones that left him uncomfortable, shy and sensing perhaps that they didn't think much of him at all, Kamui's round face screwed up as he glowered, often inserting himself in front of Subaru, his arm bent backward as Subaru clung to it.
Pretty soon they became known as the uncooperative one and the other one, other being a far more charitable term for stupid.
More than that, if Subaru were being honest as he can be now, he liked it, being protected by his mother and by Kamui. He liked having Kamui's sole attention, the way his brother would scowl at people who got too close or too invasive, dragging Subaru away when things got too be too much. He liked that he could communicate with his twin in ways no one else could, knowing him even better than their mother had ever dreamed, clinging to the bond between them, to the shards of things washing through it and relying on that to tell him what he needed. Kamui too, had understood when to push and when not to, sometimes better then than he knew now before the world and growing up had complicated things.
What Subaru remembers of those early days is broken, sharp images followed by longer, hazy ones, stretches of contented nothingness, half-asleep and half-formed, as if he had never left his mother's womb, Kamui the cord that tied him to life, the only thing to really and truly evoke a response from him at all. And then –
-- the river.
When he thinks back now, Subaru can only guess that they were playing there, himself under the shade of a tree and Kamui near the shores, too near for the season, the winter snows having melted and caused the waters to swell dangerously. He remembers that river still with a shiver, screaming nightmares born of it, the sound of rushing, furious water always mixed with the sound of childish screams.
He hadn't been paying attention, he hadn't had to be because Kamui was there and if Subaru had always known something from the start it was that his twin would take care of him, would make sure that no harm would come to him. Which is probably why Kamui had left him farther away from the banks, the admonishment to sit and stay more felt than anything else, Subaru nodding and studying the dandelions peeking out of the twisting roots of the tree. They could not have been more than five summers, stubby bow legs and chubby sun-warmed cheeks, dressed in the same clothes they would wear every day for the next two years, a little too long at first then shrinking over time, becoming threadbare and acquiring patches until they were mysteriously replaced. Their mother –
She had come later but in his heart, Subaru knew that he had never forgiven those few precious minutes when she had not been there. When things hadn't been fixed and solved, malaise shattered forever.
The splash hadn't registered, not when the water had been all but slapping against the shore, spilling over in violent threats of flooding, and Subaru had never asked how Kamui had fallen in, that moment when everything cracked containing too much for him to ever want all the pieces. Nothing had registered in the first few seconds, Kamui's screams lost with the first pull of the water, Subaru's face lifting, turning blindly as he found himself choking, suddenly freezing and wet-clammy, coughing against water he felt himself breathing in, sliding through his body, water that wasn't there at all. Like the panic that his own began to echo, Subaru's mind bending towards Kamui's as his twin's struggled and sought him, trying to find safety when there was none at all.
Cold. Water. Can't breathe. Can't – Subaru – '
Subaru had followed that, stumbling towards the water's edge, hands grazing the water and whimpering as it spat fast over his fingers, head raised as Kamui bobbed up to the surface, swallowing another breath, another scream before the swollen river threw him forward again, moving away and then dragged under, Subaru able to feel water swirling around him, pushing and pushing as Kamui silently screamed, inside, where only Subaru could hear it, where only he could feel it.
Kamui's voice became his voice and Subaru had screamed, screamed and screamed and screamed as he never had before and his birth into this world was suddenly complete, the blinders ripped off as his twin slipped away from him. Slipped and slipped, pushed by an angry river towards a shore Subaru wouldn't be able to follow him to.
He'd made a move towards throwing himself in when a hand closed around his wrist, yanking him back, a strange giant of a man with a bow hanging loosely from one hand shaking his head, speaking to him in harsh, urgent tones, words that Subaru too flustered to understand, attempting to yank against that hold. To yank and yank before he felt something he'd never experienced before – silence. Complete and deafening, falling across their twin bond and Kamui just … wasn't there anymore. Wasn't anywhere Subaru could feel him and when his body bobbed upward again, it was face down and still, turning around and around like a broken leaf, the man holding onto his hand catching sight of it too, swearing and rushing forward, Subaru's legs giving out.
Kamui should have died. Subaru had felt him die, a brief glorious struggle and then everything – had – stopped. Kamui had died and Subaru had felt. Something. Anything. Felt as deeply as Kamui had always felt, the gauze that had protected him gone and he flailed, all but crawling towards them as the man managed to catch hold of his twin, a massive hand wrapped around one ankle that had very nearly twirled out of his grasp, yanking the still body forward and onto muddy land. Kamui's face had been gray, lips as blue as the dull eyes staring up in shock, Subaru catching broken glimpses before the man had rolled Kamui onto his back, rubbing and pushing, tilting his chin. There had been so much – water spilling over unresponsive lips, a whole river unto itself, Subaru barely acknowledging his mother's sudden presence, beside him as fingers dug into his shoulders, pulling him against her as she spoke, bursts of anguished speech, tone rising and falling as he felt wet drops touch his cheek.
She hadn't moved to touch Kamui though and now that he can see things as an adult might, he supposes she might have been afraid, as afraid as Subaru, not wanting the confirmation of what her eyes were telling her even as the stranger continued to help. Maybe the thought of one of her children being dead had been too much but she hadn't let Subaru go. She hadn't let him go, not even when he'd struggled, reaching towards the limp body and maybe there would come a day when he can find it in himself to forgive that.
He – and he can never bring himself to say they, but he had been lucky that day. Somehow Kamui had lived, nothing flickering into a shuddery gasp, water gargling deep in the back of his throat as his brother's body had spasmed, spitting and coughing, the bond between them alive again though the pulse on the other end had been weak. Kamui's head had lolled, eyes finding his before closing, breath coming in short, shallow spates, Subaru kept away first by his mother's grip and then by the man picking Kamui up, tugging struggling along through the woods towards their house, wanting to see and touch, to feel for himself with hands that Kamui was all right, that he would be all right.
And later, after their mother had bundled them up, Subaru throwing one of the very few tantrums he would ever throw when she tried to separate them for the evening, and listening to Kamui's raspy breath as his brother slept fitfully, feverishly. Subaru had held his hand that time, fingers wrapped around tight as if to lead and all he had known was he couldn't let it happen again. He could never let Kamui go, not to places where he couldn't follow, and if that meant being and having to truly live, to wake up and not just be then he would do it.
Subaru wouldn't lose his brother again.
-- that he has.
He can't find Kamui and with that knowledge, the echo of silence where once there was faint murmuring in the back of his mind, the loss of warmth that he has always identified as Kamui, Subaru panics. The blood on the ground is incidental; if he's not dead, Kamui can heal. If and the word rings louder in this ears than it should, trying to convince himself that he would know. Better and more than anyone else, he would know.
Being in this place is like being a child again, feeling nothing so much as a safe, dulled interest since they arrived. Everything here is slow and unanchored, time moving at its own becalmed pace. With no one but Kamui here, he'd stopped paying attention, stopped being wary of the possible danger to them both because this place was dead and appeared to have been for a long time.
It's an archaeologist's paradise; whole houses undisturbed, some with the ossified remnants of food left on tables, broken stems and disintegrating petals littering tables, the residue of now ashy plants staining the rims of their vases, black and red glazes hidden under a layer of dust. There's gold lining the edges of even those little things, glinting dully when light creeps in, whether it be the odd darkening play of a torch or the paler light of early dawn. There are mirrors of once polished silver, now lost under a green overlay of tarnish and jewelry as fine as any he's ever seen abandoned in empty boudoirs, the jangle-creak of music boxes silenced forever. He touched one that first night, mostly out of curiosity and then some sense of sadness, studying the fine etching and tiny portraiture painted in the hollows of the oval shaped box, left open too long for the springs to ever take up their tune again but once – Once it had belong to someone, perhaps someone who'd cherished it, a gift from a father or lover or husband. Once it had meaning and now it was nothing but one more corpse in this empty graveyard.
His first impulse is to scream, not in frustration, not yet anyway but to call Kamui's name over and over until he receives an answer. It's childish but the urge grips his throat, muscles there straining before Subaru swallows, all but biting his tongue. It seems sacrilegious to do so, to raise his voice and shatter the calm pall and – there's no guarantee that Kamui will or even can answer. Subaru's eyes are drawn to the blood on the ground, now kneeling beside it, his fingers tracing over the surface before he grimaces, dipping the tips in the congealing pool. It's not enough blood to incapacitate Kamui, not even after sharing blood with Subaru, just gobs of blood the size of his fist, one smearing under his touch. Subaru lifts his hand, licking absently at the sticky ooze coating his fingers, the taste of his brother familiar enough that the hope this belongs to someone else disintegrates.
But he still can't feel Kamui though Subaru suspects that if his twin were – Well, he'd know. The bond between them is being dampened somehow but Kamui's not dead. Subaru's felt that before, felt the tendrils of self that were Kamui wither and begin to die and this isn't the same. It's disquieting but it doesn't leave a great soul-sucking hole in him. Not yet. Not ever if he can just orient himself to begin.
He can't recall what drew him into this house, nothing beyond a desire to explore and to prove Kamui wrong, his twin adamant in his desire that that they stay away from it, claiming it gave him the creeps. So much of this place had affected – and Subaru stops at that use of the past tense, flinching, affects his twin this way, creeping under his skin and leaving him bothered. For the most part, Subaru had been content to follow that edict, knowing that if he really pushed, Kamui would give in, grudging and panicked but following along in his wake and in this case, that sense of curiosity hadn't seemed worth the disquiet it would cause his brother but – But.
Kamui had taken to prowling and left to his own devices, the house had called to Subaru, picked at the edges of his awareness and there were times when it felt – silly as it sounded – like it was watching him. Reaching and waiting for him as if they were familiar with each other and he had only to step over the threshold to be home again. Home. How funny that word would come so easily here when he's thought of no edifice or world like that in so long, when home is and has always been where his twin is.
The house worried him; not in the same way it concerned Kamui instead chipping and chipping, finding its way underneath Subaru's skin, an impulse to walk its halls and to see if the feverish roamings of his mind into what he could glimpse through the press of his face against the metal gate was anything close to the truth. The more insistent and edgy Kamui became, the more Subaru found himself wanting inside, the gates falling away beneath tentative fingers when he'd finally given in, a slow, triumphant swing inward that beckoned him on.
Everything in his mind seems to spot after that, memories drowning then bobbing upward as if he were the one drowning, caught in an undertow and each solid image a breath drawn of his own accord. It all goes to pieces somewhere after exploring the gardens, circling around the overgrown labyrinth, one of stone and ivy, twining around and around until all the entrances are nearly hidden, only the smoothing of his fingers along it, revealing the truth. He'd poked his head inside but held off on entering knowing that if he managed to get turned around in there and was still gone when Kamui returned, the fit would be tremendous.
That should have sobered him; should have sent him retracing his steps, at least waiting until his brother returned so he could demand a more proper examination of what he was seeing but the flickering of guilt had – become something else, a sharper curiosity crowding out everything until it was only the house he saw, a restless mood that passed through him like a melancholy strain of music he could only just hear.
And now Kamui is gone, gone and injured, if the blood isn't Subaru's own doing, his twin's taste lingering in the back of his throat.
He's not in the house; he couldn't have returned the way he went out, not without passing Subaru and there are no footsteps to guide him. There's only scent, Subaru able to pick his brother out of hundreds of other smells and that heartens him, reaching up to shrug his tunic back in place, following the outer curve of the balcony as his fingers dance over the frogging of his cheongsam. Steps present themselves when he rounds the corner, leading out into another courtyard, cobblestone pathways hard beneath his slippers as he has to dance around statuary, the path taking a sharp fork around each one that presents itself, the plant life here growing taller and wilder as he passes and Subaru wonders why place things in this order? Why not simply arrange the statues along a straight path? Why the breaks and twists, dead shrubs as tall as small trees with their leaves intact crunching as he squeezes around the outstretched arm of a gargoyle, jaw jutting forward to display an impressive array of teeth, flat eyed and snarling? Subaru edges back, dead leaves rattle-crunching in protest, flaking and catching at his clothing, causing him to trip and fall on his knees hard.
The topiary is thicker when he picks himself up, less shrubs now and more – branches, brown thorns curving in on themselves, Subaru wincing as one slices into his face, lifting his hand to shield his eyes as he attempts to back up again, towards the gargoyle and the entry behind it, pleased when his back meets stone –
But less so when he turns to find another statue staring down at him, marble bow extended as the figure, a female, has it drawn taut, the arrow hovering just above his chest and given what he is, Subaru would be lying if that didn't leave him with a superstitious prickle of fear.
Of the gargoyle guardian there is no sign, nor is there a way back, only forward into wicked thorns and ever tightening archway of plants and statues.
Subaru sits back in mounting unease and frustration, probing along the edges of his mind, prodding those places where Kamui should be and when finding nothing, eyes the path ahead, wondering if he sits here long enough, will the way shift around again?
He doesn't have time for this.
Someone wants him to follow, that much is certain but he'll do it in his own time and in his own way, Subaru flexing his hand, bones elongating, sharpening into talons, the other hand already there, raising them both towards a patch of wall –
"I wouldn't do that."
The voice is sweet and childish and too familiar, almost as much as the thin bit of face Subaru sees when he turns around, round features he remembers too well peering at him under a shock of dark brown hair. His violet eyes (and had his eyes ever been that open, that innocent?) were chiding as he rocked back and forth on his heels, arms behind his back.
The boy (and he's too like Kamui was) ducks his head and holds a finger to his lips, voice lowering to a whisper, "You hafta follow the rules. They get mad if you don't. He'll get mad."
"You're not Kamui," Subaru says, the words flat and mechanical, denying the truth of his eyes and having a feeling that here, truth is only relative from one moment to the next.
The look he's rewarded with is Kamui at his scornful best, tiny body puffing up, "You're not listening! You hafta listen."
"I am listening but I don't believe. Not in you," Subaru thinks about that, raising his claws in a more defensive position, "Why do they get angry? Who will get angry?"
The word is said which such undue seriousness that it wrings a laugh, startled and bewildered, from him.
"He will. He'll get angry and then it'll all start over again. So you have to play by the rules," Kamui's face screws up then seems to – blur, another child's face staring up at him, expressionless green eyes boring into his. "You woke him up and now he's moving. If you don't play by the rules, you won't get out. It won't let you."
"Who – I want Kamui. Where is Kamui? Where's my brother?"
"He's with God," his own face scrunches up, seeming to sense something before it shrugs. "He's already dead."
"No. No, he's not. I would know. He's not dead and I –"
"Gave him up."
Subaru falls silent watching the other him, this figure, ghost or imp or whatever, shuffle, feet digging in the dirt, a sullen glower marring his – its—features. "You woke it up. You both did and God called him so you won't get him back. But you can still get out. You can still leave."
"I can't leave Kamui. I can't. I promised."
"So did I," the child him pipes up and an ugly smile splits those features, "I promised and promised and now I'm in hell. In hell with God. We all are. Soon, you will be, too. If you're lucky."
It's cold when he comes to, the pain coming in icy spikes as his skin gives way, eyes wide and without sight, blurred by tears and a light swinging over his eyes. Back and forth and back and forth in shades of blue and white. It burns at the center, the outline of lightening in the center imprinting on the back of his lids when they shut again. His arms aren't lying at his side, hands aching in the center and when Kamui can manage, when the world returns again and he can rolls his head, he's able to see he's pinioned, a rough spike shaped like an oversized nail hammered through the hand he can see, pinning him to a table. The skin just below his wrist is open, carefully peeled back so that he can see – inside and further up his now open arm, another pin through his shoulder and --
He screams, too heavy and cold to do anything else. There's no strength left in his limbs and that's not right. None of this is right. It's not right and he can't understand how he got here when what he remembers is the balcony, being on the balcony, embarrassed and beside himself, feeling Subaru's turmoil as well as with his own.
Subaru. The thought of Subaru is enough to make him open his eyes again, head rolling to his other side and terrified he'll find his twin laid out just as he is but there's nothing beside him save darkness, able to see the other half of his body has been pulled apart with careful, precise cuts, clean to the clear bone peeking out amidst bleeding muscle.
Steel gray catching his eye as a sharp point settles into his chest, a gloved hand pushing it inward, deep enough that he can feel skin and muscle releasing, falling away. It doesn't hurt; it doesn't hurt and he knows it should. All of this should hurt, he should feel something beyond the cold, even his bond with Subaru gone now and that panics him all over again.
He's being cut open and prised apart, another tool joining it and prodding as the knife carves downward, a faint humming filling his hearing. It sounds all too human, a singsong hum that's curiosity and malicious amusement, a face hovering just outside of his line of vision, a long eartail of blond hair falling across his sight as hands move back to his chest.
It's your heart and he thinks the words are spoken but Kamui finds that like everything else since they arrived here, he can't be certain of that. We have to examine and then weigh it.
To see if you're suitable.
There's an odd prickle around where his heart rests. The feeling of being squeezed and that useless organ, so long dead and still, stirs and when Kamui screams again, he doesn't need to feel pain. It's already there, taking all that he is. Becoming.
Subaru opens his mouth to retort when he feels it – when he feels Kamui again – a ripple that turns and turns until it's an avalanche, flashes of sensation and imagery, cold and blue and agony. So much of it that his knees give, hand burying itself against his chest, a sharp bitter taste in the back of his throat as he gasps, bile stinging its way up as his stomach heaves. His ears are ringing, filled with the overlay of sounds that he's not hearing, not firsthand and he tries to reach for that connection now that it's open, grasping as many of those flaring tendrils as he can.
That's his first mistake, Kamui's mind not able to shield, Subaru not bothering and what he gets is enough to send him reeling, clutching and sobbing at the dirt when the world returns, arms wrapping around himself as he shudders and shakes.
Feet move within his line of vision though he can't decipher that, just detecting movement, hunching inward and feeling the other half of his mind shatter anew before it just seems to dissolve, taking everything with it except the awful echo of all that had been and was no longer. Fingers brushed against his temple and Subaru whimpers, the touch kindly but there's something else, something else, something else --
"Sleep," The voice is none that he's ever heard, weary and hopeless. "Just sleep until everything is gone. Until he's gone and then we'll see what's left."
***End of Part Two