Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, they are all copyright to CLAMP, and I am not making any money off them, so please don't sue me. Or send Sei-chan after me.
This is a 'What if' story, in which one major event in the CLAMP timeline gets changed. I apologise in advance to all of those who prefer the canon pairings, several of which I have disrupted in order to write this, but it was just too much of an interesting theory to leave alone.
Words in *asterisks* are thoughts.
Hokuto moved the comb carefully through Subaru's hair, trying not to pull it as she untangled the snags and snarls. Finishing, she put it down and moved to kneel front of her brother. "Subaru-chan," she said, "look at me."
But Subaru's gazed remained unfocused, staring into the distance.
Hokuto's eyes filled with tears. It had been two days since she had discovered Subaru's broken body, lying on the floor of Sei-cha... Seishirou's hospital room. Subaru had just managed to tell her what had happened, how badly they had both been betrayed, before lapsing into this catatonic state.
"Subaru," tears dripped down Hokuto's face. "Please... look at me."
But Subaru's eyes did not see her.
Hokuto lowered her head onto his knees and put her arms around him, clutching the back of the chair he sat on. Sobs wracked her body for a short while.
"I'm so sorry Subaru-chan," she whispered. "So sorry. This is all my fault..." An image appeared in her mind and she straightened, furious.
"No, this is all _his_ fault."
Hokuto glared around her. Damn him, he was going to pay for hurting her brother. A distant memory came back to her - herself holding a knife to Seishirou's throat and threatening to kill him if he hurt Subaru.
"Well, he can't say I didn't warn him," she snarled, coming to her feet in one smooth movement. Storming over to the closet she paused. This was a dangerous move. Perhaps she should think about it, act differently, more cautiously... wait till the anger had passed.
Rage suffused her once more as her gaze caught her brother's unmoving form.
"Ah, the hell with it," she swore. Opening the closet she looked at the array of colourful clothes. One stark outfit caught her eye and she stared for a moment at Subaru's shikifuku. Her hand reached out for it, bumping another outfit which slithered to the floor. As it did, the matching hat bounced to lie at her feet. Hokuto stared at the orange hat, and then snatched it up and put it on. It clashed horribly with her blue pom-pom dress but that wasn't the issue. This hat was a declaration of war!
"I'm going out for a while Subaru," she called back as she headed for the door. "Grandmother will be back shortly, just hang on - I promise you it will all be alright."
Briefly she wondered if it was safe to leave Subaru alone and then shrugged. No matter where his physical body was, his soul was too far away for Seishirou to hurt anymore. And she knew that just killing his body would never suit Seishirou. Setting her jaw, she closed the door behind her, heading for a park not far from Subaru's apartment.
At the park, it took her only a moment to orient herself.
"Hmph, not leaving the 'door' open for me Sei-chan?" She murmured out loud. "How rude." She stomped up to a large sakura tree and kicked it. "Let me in!"
Hokuto blinked her eyes as the suddenly falling sakura blossoms nearly blinded her. The wind swirled unnaturally around her like a pink wall, whipping at the skirt of the dress she wore and finally plucking the hat from her head. Mischeviously, the breeze then deposited it high in the branches of the great sakura tree before her.
"Seishirou!" She shouted. "I know you're here! Come out!"
A mocking chuckle echoed around the grove. Hokuto fumed but there was no other response. Stomping up to the tree she kicked it again. "Hey, you stupid tree! Give me back my hat. And while you're at it, give me back my brother!"
"Fine then," she spat. "I'll just come and GET it!" So saying, she jumped up and grabbed the lowest branches. Pulling herself up and onto thme, she reached for the next branch and found herself staring at a pair of polished black shoes. Looking up, she saw the face of Seishirou Sakurazuka staring down at her in bemusement.
"Hokuto-chan," he said, his familiar voice causing her for a second to doubt herself. "In all the years that this sakura tree has stood it has seen many things. People have tried to destroy it, exorcise it, begged it for mercy, coveted its power, and, mostly, died at it. However, until today, _nobody_ has EVER tried to _climb_ it."
Hokuto just glared at him. "The very man I want to see," she snarled. "Make yourself useful and grab my hat while you're up there. Then bring it and yourself down to the ground so that I can kick your ass."
Seishirou's lips quirked in amusement but he obediently snagged her hat and jumped down to the ground. "I take it this is about Subaru-kun," he said, proffering the hat as Hokuto scrambled down beside him.
Hokuto snatched it and put it firmly on her head. "No, I just dropped by to see how you were doing. How _are_ you doing Sei-chan?" Suddenly her face was all smiles.
"I'm very well indeed Hokuto-chan," he replied gravely. "And yourself?"
"Oh I'm just _fine_, except that my brother is in a catatonic state because of YOU! Of COURSE this is about Subaru you dolt!!!"
Seishirou laughed. "Oh Hokuto, you're marvellous. Aren't you even a little bit afraid? I could kill you, you know."
"Feh," Hokuto waved this minor detail aside with the contempt it deserved. "You've already given me back my hat, now give me back my brother."
Seishirou smiled suddenly as he regarded the girl.
Hokuto glared at him, "What?"
"It's strange - I really expected you to show up in Subaru's shikifuku, prepared to sacrifice yourself for your brother." Seishirou mused. "And now, this."
Hokuto raised an eyebrow. "I considered it," she admitted. "But it was all just a bit too melodramatic."
"_You're_ calling something melodramatic???"
"Don't belabour the subject," her eyes narrowed. "And enough with the sinister aura you're _trying_ to project. It won't work on me. I _know_ you, so that just leaves the sakura, and no Sumeragi is going to be scared of a stupid tree."
At Subaru's apartment, a flicker of emotion could be seen briefly on the comatose boys face. *Nee-san?*
Seishirou's eyes narrowed as he gazed at her. "You may be wrong in your assessment. Subaru seemed quite in awe of it."
"Subaru was in awe of _you_." Hokuto stressed. Her demeanor changed again, becoming mockingly tragic as she clasped her hands in front of her and pressed them to her cheek. "Oh Sei-chan, you know what an innocent my brother is. You must be _gentle_ with his feelings." She smiled at him. "Or else you'll _never_ get the chance to be his husband."
Seishirou took the change in his stride and jokingly replied, "Ah, but I think that Subaru-kun's heart is closed to me now." He sighed dramatically. "And now I am left alone... bereft... abandoned!"
"And whose fault is that?" Hokuto demanded, dropping her hands and the act. "Give me back my brother!"
Seishirou spread his hands. "Hokuto-chan, I don't _have_ your brother."
She snarled at him. "You know what I mean. Free his soul. Let him loose. Or else!"
"Or else what Hokuto-chan?" Seishirou's voice dropped to a menacing whisper. "Do you really think that with your level of power you could destroy me?"
"I think that I could give it a damn good try!" Hokuto snapped.
Seishirou laughed. "Very well then, defeat me and I shall give up all claims to Subaru-kun. A fair bet." His remaining eye glittered. "But I should warn you Hokuto-chan, Subaru-kun is MINE. His mind, heart, body and soul belong to ME. He is quite my favourite toy, and I have no intention of giving him up."
*Oh, Seishirou-san... how could you...?*
"Too bad," said Hokuto, her hands coming up to form a protective ward in front of her. "Let's get on with it."
"Very well," Seishirou yawned. Bringing up his hand he spread out a fan of ofuda. "Goodbye Hokuto-chan."
Hokuto didn't dignify this with a comment. She was too busy frantically raising a shielf to defend herself against his shikigami. They flew towards her as Seishirou released the ofuda and it was all she could do to hold them off.
*He's so powerful*, she thought, biting her lip. *I don't think I can...* Her eyes narrowed. "No."
Seishirou had to admit he was both mildly surprised and impressed when the shikigami were repelled by Hokuto's shield. *She's a little stronger than I thought,* he mused, preparing another attack. *But she doesn't even have half Subaru's power. This bet will be over almost before it begins.* His arm came up and power exploded at Hokuto.
Back at Subaru's apartment, there was noone there.
Hokuto bit her lip as the hat was blown from her head and her clothes shredded beneath Seishirou's assault. Blood trickled down from over a dozen cuts and she was breathing hard.
"Oh dear, poor Hokuto-chan," Seishirou's voice was mocking once more. "It appears that you have exhausted most of your abilities." He smiled at her. "I think it's time to end this. I promise, it will be quick."
"Don't expect me to thank you or anything," Hokuto managed to get out. *I'm so sorry Subaru, this is all my fault. I'm sorry!!!* She blinked her eyes as Seishirou came up to her, fast... so terribly fast. Her breath caught as he grasped her shoulder with his left hand and drew his right back, forming a fist.
"HOKUUUUTOOOOOO!!!!" A voice screamed in agony. Hokuto started and gasped at the blow, felt the warm blood droplets thrown up by the impact splatter onto her face, down her neckline, as her abdomen was soaked in blood.
Seishirou stared in surprise at the figure before him. "Subaru-kun."
Subaru Sumeragi smiled tightly and grabbed Seishirou's arm, holding it into his chest. Hokuto stared up at the scenario before her. Her brother almost seemed to be embracing the older man, trying to keep him close, and away from the sister he had pushed to the ground below him. Blood dripped from the awful blow where Seishirou had pushed his hand through Subaru's chest, and dripped onto Hokuto.
Blood bubbles formed at Subaru's lips as he tried to speak. "Sei... Seishirou-san... I'm... I'm so happy."
Both other figures blinked. "Happy?" Hokuto and Seishirou echoed.
"Happy... to die in the arms of the one I love," Subaru lowered his head onto Seishirou's shoulder. "And I do love you Seishirou-san," his breath rasped as he breathed in an awful gasp. "I think I always have. And now I always will. I don't mind... that you've killed me. I don't. Because now I will... always... be a part of you."
The light in his eyes was fading, and his voice was getting weaker.
"The maboroshi can have my blood... but it cannot have my heart... That I willingly give to _you_, Seishirou-san. And..." his voice strengthened. "It cannot have the power of the Sumeragi clan. That I leave to you my sister... my heir."
Hokuto gasped as Subaru named her to the position of 14th Head of the Sumeragi clan.
"Seishirou-saaaaannnnn..." Subaru's voice hissed out as he closed his glowing green eyes and finally fell limp against the other man.
For a while, there was no sound. Neither party moved, nor spoke, and not even the wind stirred.
"Subaru... Subaru..." Hokuto's eyes teared up until they overflowed down her face. "SUBARUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!"
"Subaru-kun," Seishirou brushed the face of the boy he held. Then he kissed it. "My Subaru-kun."
He straightened, careful not to jar the body he cradled so gently, and turned to the tree.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" Hokuto wailed. "Don't!!! Please no!!!! Sei-chaaaaannn!!!"
He paused and turned back to her. "Go now, Hokuto-chan." He said seriously. "Go now and I will spare your life. Never face me again and I will leave you in peace. You are free of me."
"Free???" Hokuto's voice caught. "Not on your SOUL!!!" She stood up, her face now twisted in anger. "We had a BET Seishirou-san... Defeat you and you would free my brother."
She pointed at him accusingly. "That bet still stands! I will face you again someday and on that final day - I will defeat you!!!" Her voice softened. "Until then, you take care of my brother."
Seishirou looked at her, and then smiled and nodded. "Until next time then Hokuto-chan."
She nodded in response. "Goodbye Subaru," she said. "For now." She gave Seishirou a last warning glare and left.
As she stalked away he called after her. "You had better train hard Hokuto-chan."
"Oh don't worry I will," she called back sweetly. "After all, you're a pretty tough opponent Seishirou-san. But I think I can handle you. And besides, no Sumeragi is going to lose to a stupid tree!"
Laughter and petals cascaded behind her but she paid no attention as they both moved away from each other for now. Each with the same thought in their heads.
End of Part One
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