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.
"Imonoyama-san!" Kamui wandered out into the huge garden of the Imonoyama mansion. "Imonoyama-san!"
Nothing. He sighed. "Hokuto-san!" He tried again.
Finally he gave in, "Hokuto-chan, where are you?"
"I'm up here!" Her cheerful voice replied immediately. Following the sound, Kamui found himself at the foot of a giant sakura tree. Sighing, he squinted up into the branches, trying to spot the Sumeragi Head. This was becoming something of a daily ritual for him - walk into the garden, pray at Kotori's grave beneath the big tree, and then try to work out which of the other ones Hokuto was up.
The Sumeragi Head appeared to have an obsession with climbing trees,
and it was beginning to worry Kamui. Every time they went out, all he had
to do was turn his back and by the time he turned around again she would
be halfway up the nearest tree. Sakura by preference, but any other would
do in a pinch. He sighed again. Still, at least he'd
managed to prevent her from "re-doing" his wardrobe. She'd just added to it instead.
"Hokuto-chan?" He asked.
There was a light thud behind him and he turned to find Hokuto's grinning face directly in front of his own.
"Gah!" He jumped back, clutching at his heart. "_Please_ stop doing that!!!"
Hokuto merely smiled impishly at him and flung her arms around his neck. "Welcome home Kamui-chan. How was your day?"
"I wish you'd let me call you by your proper name," he said, flushing and trying to pry her loose. "And you shouldn't behave this way. What if your husband came out into the garden now?"
"Kamui-kun, are you trying to steal away my wife?" A snarling voice sounded in his ear.
"AAAHHH!" Kamui swivelled around, taking Hokuto with him, to discover Imonoyama Nokoru glaring at him. "It's not... I mean, she... we're not..."
Nokoru grinned at Kamui. "Well, if you insist on taking her, let me give you a friendly warning. She's a great cook but never ever let her buy you clothes. And she's extremely expensive to keep as well - she'll drive you into the poorhouse. And she talks..."
"Almost as much as you do," Hokuto interrupted. "How dare you say such rude things about me, husband? I shall demand a divorce and insist that you give me the Campus as a settlement!"
"Absolutely not," Nokoru flipped open a fan, which proved to have "Hard bargainer" written on it. "How about a quarter of the holdings of the Imonoyama Zaibatsu?"
"Quarter???" Hokuto shrieked and Kamui winced. "I'm worth at least half!"
"One third, and that's my final offer," Nokoru countered.
"Throw in Suoh and you've got a deal."
Nokoru and Hokuto both spit in their palms and shook hands.
"Did you hear that Kamui-chan?" Hokuto giggled. "Now we can set up house in a nice area of Tokyo and live the happy life together."
Kamui rolled his eyes. "I give up."
Nokoru and Hokuto both laughed. "Relax Kamui, you may have beautiful eyes but I have complete belief in Hokuto's faithfulness to me." Nokoru said. "Now, just to set my mind at rest, where were you at roughly 8.30 last night?"
"Huh?" Kamui was completely lost.
"Stop it Nokoru, you're confusing the boy," Hokuto ordered.
"_I'm_ confusing him???"
"I'm supposed to protect him," she chided. "Kindly take yourself and your lazy influence off. I have things to discuss with Kamui."
"_Lazy_?" Nokoru geared up to defend himself. "Vile slander! Foul lies! Why I work my fingers to the bone..."
"Rijichou! Where are you Rijichou??" Takamura Suoh's voice echoed throughout the garden. There was a pause as Hokuto's grin got wider and Kamui and Nokoru both sweatdropped.
"Skipped out on the paperwork again hmmmm?" Hokuto tilted her head to one side.
Nokoru coughed. "Erm, please excuse me." Hurriedly, he set off down the path.
Suoh burst out of the bushes. "Riji... Did he come this way?" He demanded.
Kamui gasped for breath as Hokuto's grip around his neck tightened. "Haven't seen him!" She announced cheerfully.
Suoh sighed and ran off. "Rijichou!!!"
Hokuto giggled and hugged Kamui tight. "So, about your day..."
Kamui waved his arms frantically.
"Hokuto-chan, please stop! You'll choke him to death and then the Dragons of Earth will win by default!" A cheery voice called out to them.
"Sorata-chan!" Hokuto released Kamui, but kept an arm slung around his shoulders. "A welcome home to you too. And Arashi-chan as well."
Sorata laughed and Arashi winced as they walked towards their leader and his self-appointed second in command.
Things had certainly been different since they had taken up residence in the Imonoyama Mansion. And they were not purely cosmetic, all of the Dragons were feeling their spirits lifting as the ever-efficient and thorough Hokuto reorganised them all. Even after the loss of Shibuya district earlier in the week, their spirits were still upbeat.
Although watching Arashi try to walk around with her normal air in a short purple leather dress with a pure white trenchcoat thrown over the top might have had some distant effect on the improvement in morale.
Surprisingly, the only person who had been able to resist Hokuto's makeover attempts successfully so far had been Kasumi Karen. In fact rumour (ie. Sorata) had it that the makeovers had gone the other way. Noone could prove this but Nokoru and Hokuto were retiring to bed awfully early these days.
"How were your days?" Hokuto enquired.
Sorata made a face. "Filled with a few too many pop quizzes. I think I need to do some extra study."
"If you talked less you would learn more," Arashi told him coolly. Then she stalked off into the house.
"What happened?" Hokuto asked. "Don't tell me you two had a lovers quarrel?"
Kamui watched as Arashi, still in hearing range, lurched suddenly to one side and only just regained her balance. Her pace picked up as she sped into the house.
Sorata grinned sickly and rubbed the back of his head. "Um, she's a little annoyed that I got a higher mark on the history test than she did."
Hokuto raised her eyebrows. "Really. How are your ribs feeling?"
"Bruised," Sorata admitted. "I had better go and patch things up." He hurried after Arashi.
"Those two," Hokuto sighed. "They really need to sort things out, and soon. Who knows what will happen in the future? Oh well, I suppose I should give them a break and work on Yuzu-chan and this 'special friend' she keeps sneaking off to see for a bit."
Out of pity for Yuzuriha, Kamui decided to distract Hokuto from her crusade by asking her the question that had been in the back of his mind for the last couple of weeks. "Hokuto-chan?"
"Why do you worry so much about such things?" Kamui tried to be more precise about his meanings. "I mean, not just Sorata and Arashi, but you care about all the others. I heard about how you tricked Suoh and Nagisa into marriage..."
"I didn't _trick_ them," Hokuto corrected. "They would have gotten around to it eventually. I wanted them to hurry up so that they could enjoy their youth together. And as to why I involve myself, I've seen too many people let their chances of happiness slip through their fingers because they were too afraid to make a move. It's just annoying in an anime series, but it can be tragic in real life. I want people to be happy. That's my wish."
Kamui shivered. In recent weeks the word "wish" had taken on a more sinister meaning for him.
Hokuto threw an arm around his shoulder. "Don't mind me," she said. "I think I've been spending too much time up a tree lately. Why don't we go and get some ice cream? I know a nice parlour in Mejiro."
Kamui blinked. "But... my schoolwork."
"Can wait. For now," Hokuto amended. "I'll help you with it later."
Kamui stared at her. A gust of wind blew past them both.
Hokuto sweatdropped. "Alright, I'll get Nokoru to help you with it later."
Kamui nodded and the pair walked off.
"Kamui-chan, it truly was a mistake. I just forgot about that part of the formula."
"Hokuto-chan, you forgot FOUR STEPS in the equation!! I didn't get a single answer on that test correct!"
"I SAID I was sorry! How long are you going to hold this grudge about it against me?"
"Until I've finished all the punishment assignments!"
"Well, if you'd just let me help with them..."
"Here we go," Hokuto hauled Kamui up to the parlour. "And it's almost empty, what luck!"
She threw open the door to the parlour and marched inside, Kamui trailing behind. "You can have whatever you want, I'll pay. See, I'm kind and thoughtful. Don't say that I'm not a nice person!"
"You're not a nice person." An amused voice said.
"I said not to say that!" Hokuto rounded on the person with a grin on her face which disappeared as though it had never been the minute she spotted the speaker. Beside her, Kamui had frozen into immobility.
Sakurazuka Seishirou and Monou Fuuma smiled back at the pair from their booth.
"Hokuto-chan," Seishirou stood up and bowed slightly. "Shirou-kun. It's so _nice_ to see you again. Please, have a seat."
Hokuto narrowed her eyes, "Thanks for the offer Sei-chan. But, as you can see, this is a _private_ date." She began to nudge Kamui towards the door. Before she could get very far, Fuuma had stepped around behind them and seized Kamui's shoulders.
"But we _insist_," he purred into the younger boys ear.
Seishirou stood up and grabbed Hokuto's hand. "_Absolutely_ insist." He agreed and tugged her over the table whilst Fuuma manoeuvred Kamui so that he was sandwiched between the wall and the Dragon of Earth. Hokuto tugged loose of Seishirou and, unable to abandon Kamui, sat on Fuuma's other side. Fortunately, there was just enough room on the seat. Seishirou shrugged gracefully and sat opposite the group.
"Well," he said. "What a picture this is. Three bishonen, all in a row. Well, two bishonen and Hokuto, but if she were Subaru this would be an absolutely exquisite image."
"Yes," Hokuto agreed promptly. "What a pity I'm NOT Subaru. How sad that he couldn't make it." She grinned nastily at Seishirou and then drove her elbow into Fuuma's ribs. "You're supposed to be nibbling on the ice cream, not Kamui." She chided.
Fuuma's eyes gleamed briefly, but then he laughed and stopped looming over Kamui. "As you wish Hokuto-chan," he mocked. "But you can't protect him forever you know."
"Watch me." Hokuto cast an eye over the boy. "Nice clothes, I take it you managed to wheedle Seishirou's greatest secret out of him."
"The name of his tailor, yes." Fuuma agreed whimsically. "He does nice work. I've developed an... appreciation... of beautiful things lately." He grinned at Kamui hungrily, and his hands began wandering up the younger boy's leg.
"Now you're hurting my feelings," Seishirou said lightly. "I thought you said you wanted to go to get ice cream with _me_."
Hokuto sneered at Seishirou. "So, two-timing Subaru? How cruel of you Sei-chan."
Seishirou smirked and Fuuma laughed, but he did take his hands off Kamui. "Sakurazuka-san was so delighted by the taste of my... ice cream... that he decided he just _had_ to have more." Fuuma smiled.
Kamui flinched and turned on the Sakurazukamori. "What are you doing to Fuuma? Are you the one causing him to be like this?"
Seishirou raised an eyebrow. "Don't be ridiculous. I would never hurt... Fuuma?"
"/Kamui/," Fuuma corrected. "I am /Kamui/."
"I would never hurt /Kamui/," Seishirou continued. "He is very close to my heart."
Hokuto snorted. "I've heard THAT one before."
Seishirou smiled at her, "Well you _are_, my dear Hokuto-chan."
"What about Subaru?" She demanded.
"He was _extremely_ close to my heart," Seishirou admitted. "And I was very close to his. All the way through, actually."
"You son of a..." Hokuto's breath hissed out.
A waiter approached. "Would you like to order?"
"We're just leaving," Hokuto stood up.
"Oh Hokuto-chan, don't tell me you're losing your appetite." Seishirou said in mock-sadness. "And it's my treat too."
"Oh well if _you're_ paying..." Hokuto sat down and consulted a menu briefly. "We'll have four of your special ultra-decadent triple-decker ice cream sundaes, with chocolate fudge, whipped cream, nuts and a cherry on top."
"Each." Hokuto added.
His grin slipped slightly.
"Um, miss? Those desserts are very rich." The waiter looked worried. "Most people can't even finish _one_. They're also... rather expensive."
"Are they?" Hokuto purred. "Well well, we shall have to persevere. We Dragons must prevail against the greatest of odds."
The waiter looked confused, but went off to fill their order.
Hokuto closed the menu with a snap and looked up at Seishirou, smiling brightly. "You know Sei-chan, I think you're right. I'm _not_ a nice person."
"No, you're not," he agreed with her. "Even with your capacity for food Hokuto, that was a trifle excessive."
"What's the matter? The assassin business not paying as well as it used to?" Hokuto grinned at him. "Fuuma..."
"/Kamui/," Fuuma mumbled.
"Fuuma... /Kamui/... WHATEVER, I've TOLD you not to nibble on my Kamui." Hokuto looked at Seishirou. "I feel so SORRY for you Sei-chan," her voice dripping fake sympathy. "It must be such a test of your patience to have to house-train this puppy."
Fuuma's eyes flashed with rage and Seishirou stepped in hurriedly. "Not at all Hokuto-chan. My /Kamui/ is very well-behaved. And at least he doesn't snivel like your one. Do you have to change his diapers as well?"
Kamui bit back a few of the words he wanted to say as Seishirou smiled at him.
"Not at all," Hokuto said lightly. "Kamui is a very responsible young man."
"Thank you Hokuto-chan," said Kamui and Fuuma at the same time. Fuuma shot an amused look at Kamui as the other boy reacted with shock and dismay.
"That's so CUTE!" Hokuto shouted enthusiastically. "What _other_ tricks does he do?"
"Hokuto is _mine_," Seishirou reminded Fuuma as the other boy turned on the girl.
Hokuto smiled evilly at Fuuma. "Down boy! Bad puppy, bad baaaaaad puppy. No ice cream for you!"
Fuuma snarled at her and then smiled back. "But I was soooo looking forward to this ice cream. Tragically, the _other_ place I used to get it from closed down due to having been destroyed along with the rest of Shibuya." His voice took on a tone of mock regret.
Hokuto quieted down. "So, that _was_ you."
Kamui looked up at Fuuma, tears in his eyes. "Fuuma, how could you have done that? All those people."
Fuuma shrugged. "They would have died eventually. It makes no difference."
Kamui shot to his feet. "It DOES make a difference. Fuuma..."
"/Kamui/," Fuuma met his eyes and glared at the younger boy. "I am /Kamui/."
"You're Fuuma, my friend. Don't you remember? Me, Kotori..." Kamui blurted out in desperation. "Please remember, Fuuma..."
"Kamui..." for a moment, something flickered in Fuuma's eyes. "Kamui..."
Kamui leaned in close, searching his friend's eyes for a trace of the person he used to know.
Fuuma reached out and closed his right hand around Kamui's throat. "You're so cute Kamui." Tightening his grip, he brought Kamui's face close and lightly brushed a kiss over his forehead. Tears streamed down Kamui's face as he struggled to free himself from the choking grip.
Hokuto emitted a low growl. "Let him go, brat."
Fuuma ignored her and Hokuto snarled. "I SAID let him go!!!"
"You'd better leave them to their lovers quarrel Hokuto-chan," Seishirou smiled and lit up a cigarette. Hokuto leaned across the table and snatched it from his lips, then reached over and stubbed it out on Fuuma's wrist. Fuuma turned his head to regard her and smiled as his skin burned, his grip on Kamui not loosening.
Hokuto looked wildly around. She couldn't start a fight in here, there were too many people. She jumped to her feet and fumbled in her trouser pockets. Snatching an ofuda out, she slapped that across the cigarette burn. Fuuma's breath hissed as the power of Hokuto's magic affected him in a way that her previous attacks had not and the muscles in his hand twitched.
With his last remaining strength, Kamui wrenched free of Fuuma's grip, but could not get past the other boy. Hokuto ducked around behind the seats, grabbed his shoulders and dragged him over the back.
At the table, Seishirou had removed the offending ofuda and done something to heal Fuuma's wrist. The two Dragons of Earth watched and laughed in amusement as Hokuto hauled Kamui clear.
"This was fun!" Fuuma said. "We should double date again sometime! But next time, no ofudas."
"Come on Kamui," Hokuto pulled Kamui towards the door.
Fuuma and Seishirou laughed mockingly as the two Dragons of Heaven retreated, their voices in eyrie synchronicity.
Hokuto paused by the door and leant over the table at which a young couple sat. "Excuse me please, have another few on me." She dropped some notes onto the table, grabbed something and turned back to the laughing Dragons of Earth.
"Oh Sei-chaaaannn..." Hokuto trilled.
Seishirou turned back to face her just as there was a loud *splut*. His remaining good eye widened as cold chocolate ice cream splattered across his face and dripped down onto his shirt and jacket.
Fuuma stared blankly at this ridiculous scene, unable to grasp quite what was going on. And by the time he had, it was too late anyway.
*Splut*. A second scoop of ice cream impacted across the back of his head and slid down his neck and back. An expression of outrage slowly spread across his face.
"Now we run away." Hokuto dropped the spoon she'd used back into the sundae she'd swiped and threw them at Seishirou, who ducked automatically. While he and Fuuma were still struggling to comprehend the situation, she grabbed Kamui with one hand and fled, licking the remaining ice cream from her fingers as she ran.
Seishirou and Fuuma stood up, their expressions thunderous as they watched her sprint down the street, her last comment to Kamui floating back to them:
"Now, don't ever say I'm not a fun date!"
Seishirou turned to face the waiter.
"Where should I put these desserts?"
Seishirou looked at the trays of sundaes, at his ruined shirt and at his insulted and enraged leader and sighed. "No Hokuto-chan, I certainly can't say you're not a fun date."
"Well THAT could have gone better," Hokuto said with a sigh. "What a pain bumping into those two. I REALLY wanted one of those ice creams."
Kamui walked along beside her, eyes unfocused. Hokuto glanced at him and groaned quietly. Not again!
The young Seal had a tendency to descend into a depression similar to the one her brother had been prone to. It was understandable but unhelpful. Kamui needed to be alert. Hokuto cast around for some way to wake the boy back up. Something to shock him back to reality. Her eyes fell on the perfect thing.
She let out a gasp, staring at it fixedly. "Kamui," she said in a hollow voice. "Come with me."
Kamui looked up. "Oh no... no... NOOOOO!!!!"
But it was already too late.
The door to the Imonoyama Mansion slammed open.
"We're home!" Hokuto yelled.
Sorata and Arashi came out of the library.
"Necking again?" Hokuto exclaimed in mock dismay. "Really, you two are so shameless!"
Sorata laughed nervously as Arashi blushed. "We were studying! (Not that I wouldn't MIND the odd break to neck once in a while)."
"If you wanted a broken neck you should have just asked," the shrine maiden informed him angrily.
Hokuto shook her head. "Boy, much more 'studying' and you two are going to have to make up ALL of your exams!"
Sorata laughed uproariously at this, but his amusement was suddenly cut short as Kamui glumly entered the house behind Hokuto.
"Kamui!" Arashi gasped. "Uh... uh... umm..."
Sorata's jaw dropped open and he stared at his leader, totally flabberghasted.
"Welcome home Hokuto-chan!" Nokoru walked down the stairs, accompanied as always by Suoh and Akira. "And Kamui... oh dear."
"Hello Hokuto-chan and Shirou-kun and... WHAT is that THING on your HEAD???" Suoh demanded.
Kamui flushed and bowed his head, which gave them all a better view of his new accoutrement. It was... a hat. But not just any hat. It was... a Dorky Hat (TM).
"Isn't it cute?" Hokuto demanded.
"VERY cute," Akira agreed cheerfully. "A very very cute hat Shirou-kun. Did Hokuto-chan buy it for you?"
"You have to ask?" Nokoru murmured.
Kamui put his face in his hands. "The end of the world is starting to sound _awfully_ welcome right now."
"Funny you should mention it," Hokuto said lightly. "I was thinking it was time to organise it."
Go ON to Part Four
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