This story will probably not make the slightest amount of sense to anyone not familiar with the basic premise of Tokyo Babylon and/or X 1999 by CLAMP.

Beta-read by Beth, Cheshire, torch and Tsubaki. Thank you very much!



by Sylvia


He'd once asked her what it felt like, the eternal presence of something so powerful – within herself, but apart. Death itself, but more alive than any living creature; mute, still and devoid of thought and yet filled with will and implacable purpose.

She'd laughed and her voice had trilled like that of a bird, trailing off into too-high notes with an almost painful screech. He'd winced at the sound as she leaned forward and clenched a hand on his shoulder, the bones shifting and grating beneath her slender fingers.

Like the kill, she had said. Like warm blood on your face. Like the first step you take towards someone who will be yours before the night is out, like the wind in your hair, the scent of flowers and death on the breeze. Like a mirror. Like nothing. Like everything.

The marks on his shoulder, hip and throat had been deep and true black that time, and he'd been too hoarse to speak in more than a whisper for almost two weeks. No one had noticed, of course. He hardly ever spoke with anyone. The teachers didn't call on him unless he raised his hand, and he had made sure the students never approached him a long time ago. Even when he'd worn a scarf to school for the first time, no one had thought to comment. Later, looking back, he'd been amused, because at least some must have assumed he was trying to look like a girl.

He'd been thin and pale – what in a girl would have been called delicate – his bone-structure fine but not yet strengthened into anything beyond elegantly fragile, his amber eyes disproportionally large in the too-narrow face. There were no pictures, but he remembered it well, in a series of frozen moments that might as well have been framed and set on the mantle.

The spring in which his mother came back: wondering, eyes alight with something like hope. The summer in which his father died: dazed, not quite there. The fall in which he learned how his father had died: frozen and empty. The winter in which he learned how to stop caring. Calm and tranquil, a white scarf wound about his thin neck.

He hadn't been a child for a long time, even then. Perhaps he never had been. He couldn't recall a time when he had played as children did. He hadn't missed it. There had been so many things to learn, so many worlds to discover inside himself and around him – worlds he could control, worlds he could own at the price of a word, a touch, a controlled burst of power... A power that came to his call, that shaped itself to his will.

The branches outside his window had always whispered of blood, of the beauty of death, of the eternal rapture of the kill. Always.

Watch, she'd said. And he'd watched as she danced the dance of death, ephemeral in the night, beautiful and unreal in the pale light of the moon as it filtered through leaves. Watch. And blood spilled across cool moonlight, swift and black and silent.

So simple, this power, different and yet like the one he called to his hands when he was cold, when he was restless. So uncomplicated and yet intricate, the web woven, the lure cast... the net drawn in with a quick elegance.

His. Buried deeply beneath other things, but his. He could feel it calling even beyond her, beyond the spells and incantations, beyond anything but the rush of air into his lungs, the tide of blood in his veins.

He'd asked her what it felt like when it surfaced, that power, and she hadn't answered, but her eyes had been half-closed and a light flush had brushed her high cheekbones, just for a moment, fleeting as cherry blossoms. He'd known what the answer was, even though she hadn't told him and he had never felt it then. It felt like life. It felt like possession and completion. It felt like fulfillment. It felt like everything.

You are alone, she had said, and he'd known it before she spoke, had known it, always. No one else existed. Nothing but this.

This, and the whispering sussurations not of wind, carried by darkness and shadow and stillness. That whisper of power. Of strength. Of eternity.

All this will be yours, she had said. You will serve, and be bound forever, and master all. There will be just you. Nothing else exists. You alone, and nothing to touch you. Ever.

She was small, fragile, and her hands were delicate. When he closed his eyes, he could see her against the darkness behind his lids, outlined in blood. When he listened, he could hear where she was, even though she never made a sound when she moved, when she stood still as death. The power sang and screamed within her like a thousand voices. When he turned his eyes inward, he could feel her wild strength blazing in his blood. Her and the power she served.

He couldn't recall a time when he'd cried as children did. There had never been a reason for it. Her hands were bright with power and blackened by blood, burning when they dug into him. He felt it, but it didn't touch him. Even when he felt ragged bone tear through tissue, blood flowing freely, pooling beneath his skin, it didn't touch him. The power came to his call and the distant murmuring of the branches sang of seductive death.

Are you afraid? she had asked, although she'd known the answer.

He couldn't remember whether he'd ever known what fear tasted like, though he knew its scent, its look, its warm and silken texture between his fingers. There was nothing for him to be afraid of. Every whisper of wind through branches, every sigh of heavy boughs, every shadow of day and night spoke to him, spoke of death, and the glory of it, and the beauty of blood and loss and betrayal. Always, for as long as he could remember, it had been this way.

Now? he asked.

And she answered, Now.


The End.

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