A/N: This has been long in coming, I'm afraid - too long - and I'm really sorry. I started this around the time I finished high-school and began college. For all of you college kids, you know how hard it is to focus on anything but school-work. However, I promised I would write more during my break, and here I am, because I'm not about to give up. I love this fandom - I love all CLAMP works - and it deserves a little love, no? Plus, I had a lot of time to think about this, so I've thought of some cool plot-points for later on. Also, this chapter is almost double the word-count as the last, so I hope you enjoy it. And, without further ado...

Chapter One: Dear Subaru

Before I could turn and pass my horror-struck eyes over my grandmother and her entourage, the cute little child had already stuck out his arms towards me, a beseeching look in his wide violet eyes. In one grubby little fist he held a drooping bouquet of sakura flowers attached to broken branches, which were held out for me to accept. When I merely stared at him without speech or movement, those eyes suddenly filled with a flurry of tears, his tiny lips quivering.

"You don't love me anymore, Mama?" he asked, rubbing at his wet eyes and cheeks with dirt-covered hands, presumably from playing in the grounds. "You and Papa leave me?"

Something about the sight, about the sadness I could hear in his soft voice, just felt so wrong to me, like the worst injustice in the world. In an attempt to make him stop, I bent down quickly and plucked him up into my arms, the ends of my beige trench-coat dusting along the floor and fluttering like wings around me as I did.

"Shh," I murmured into his dark hair, tucking his head into the crook of my shoulder and breathing in the scent of candy and vanilla that permeated around him. I didn't speak to him, though, because if this was who I thought he was, the sound of my voice would only give away who I was, and that would only make him sad. There was no reason for that yet – it was inevitable, anyway.

I could hear the sound of alarmed breathing behind me, contrasted by the deep quality of the child's breaths, and I slowly turned around, my eyes sweeping past Grandmother's servants to lock onto her's. She looked even more tired and upset than before.

"What is going on?" I asked, feeling as exhausted as she looked.

Grandmother bit her lip anxiously, reminding me suddenly of how, when I was a child, she'd tell me not to do that because it gave away weaknesses to the enemy and looked inelegant. I waylaid the urge to remind her of that, instead waiting for her explanation. "This," she said, indicating a thin, wavering finger in the child's direction, "is Kuzuki Kamui, Hokuto's son."

Even though I'd guessed as much, hearing it confirmed knocked the breath out of me. I wrapped the little boy – Kamui, I reminded myself – even tighter into my arms and rushed over to a small settee near Hokuto's open coffin, which my eyes passed over without really seeing. I fell rather than sat on the cushions of the couch, and Kamui wiggled happily in my lap, enjoying the ride I provided.

Beaming up at me, he said, "Pretty flowers for Mama?" and handed the bouquet from earlier to me.

"Thank you," I muttered softly, politeness unforgotten, taking the flowers with one hand and tucking back one of his stray curls with the other. His smile widened and he raised the dirty hand up to his mouth, but I plucked it away with a slight frown before he could stick it in. Without looking away from him, I asked, "Did you know about him?"

"No," Grandmother replied, her voice hushed. Then, in an accusatory tone, she asked, "Do you mean to say you didn't? That she never mentioned it in the letters I know you two have sent back and forth?"

I felt anger well up in me, but more than that, a deep sadness. "N-no," I answered, the same as her, but with a hated quiver in my voice. "She never told me – never."

And that was what really hurt. Hokuto was my twin, my best friend, and she hadn't trusted me with this. I had, of course, been upset when she decided to elope with Kakyou, but I had never tried to keep her from him – I'd just wanted her to be happy. So why would she hide her child, my nephew, from me like this? What had I ever done to warrant such abandonment from her? I felt my eyes burn, embarrassingly enough, as if tears were about to break through my barriers and fall.

Grandmother must have noticed as much – even Kamui noticed, actually, if the wide-eyed, worried look he gave me was any indication – because when next she spoke, her words were colored with regret. "I'm sorry," she said apologetically, looking almost guilty, and nodded her head towards the open mahogany casket, looking down at Hokuto when an attendant pushed her over the doorway to it. Her eyes met mine, hidden within their stern crinkles, but they stayed on Kamui. "It wasn't your fault, Subaru. She didn't hate you – it was I she reserved that for – she just feared you'd tell me, so she kept it from you."

My brows furrowed and a frown tugged at my lips. "Don't be silly, Grandmother," I appeased, even though it made some sense, and was even slightly comforting. It was scarily easy to thrust the blame on her. "Hokuto loved you," I said, anyway, absently carding my hands through Kamui's hair. It was true, though – I didn't think Hokuto could hate anyone, for she was too kind.

Her eyes scrutinized my hand's motion till I stopped, uncomfortable. "I am not merely stating this to be modest," she whispered bitterly. "It's written in her will."

My eyes widened and the attendants shifted uneasily from foot to foot, fearfully watching us three as if we were the very demons our family exorcised in years gone. "H-her will?" I asked, ignoring them, my body brimming with new-found excitement.

Grandmother sighed and waved one of her aids over, taking a wrinkled piece of paper from the man's grasp. She meticulously evened it out on her lap, paying no mind to how my fingers itched for it. Finally, finally she handed it to me.

I tried not to rip it from her grasp, but rather took it with shaking fingers, wiping my eyes so that their gathering moisture couldn't get it wet. Then I read it over, my breath hitching.

Dear Subaru,

I know you must be upset with me, since I kept you in the dark about all this.

Please believe me, though; I did it because I love you – you'll always be my sweet little, naive brother. I know how much you crave Grandmother's love, and I don't blame you for it, I never would, but I know you'd want to tell her about my Kamui. I know, to you, it would be the best news – and it was to me, too – but to her and all of our so-called 'wise' family elders, Kamui would be a shame, something to be hidden, and I couldn't let that happen to him.

Kamui is such a sweet baby, let me tell you. Ever since the moment I first held him in my arms, I thought of you, you know? He's such a beautiful boy – I wish I had the chance to dress him up a bit more – and he's full of laughs. Even Kakyou, who is sad so often no matter how hard I try, can't help being happy when he holds Kamui, when he's with Kamui.

I love my family so much, you included, but there's always a darkness around it – something that you can't run away from, no matter how hard you try. I tried, Kakyou tried, but it was all a failure in the end. I don't want Kamui to have to...

Even though you were always the quiet one, even though I always secretly thought you were a coward for staying and for letting Grandmother manipulate and abuse you, I now know that you're really the brave one. You stayed and fought, while I just taunted and ran. But what I did wasn't enough, and I'm losing everything because of it.

I write this to you now hoping that you'll forgive me enough for all I've done – leaving you when I knew you needed me, not telling you the secrets that would affect us both, for choosing Kakyou over you – in the hope that you'll take care of Kamui when I'm unable.

I'm afraid, it'll only be a matter of time, and when you see me next I'll already be gone. As I said, there are dark shadows seeping into our family – shadows that mark both Kakyou and I, shadows that place Kamui in danger. He wasn't safe with us, even though we tried to get away from the danger, and I think maybe he'll only be safe with you.

I think I've always been a little jealous of your gifts, although I've tried to play it off, but I know how powerful you are. More than that, however, you're Kamui's uncle – his only family in the world – and you have the kindest heart I've ever known.

I hope your heart tells you that caring for Kamui is the right thing to do. I know you'll love him and I know he'll love you, too. Please take care of each other. I'm sorry that I failed you both.

Love always,


I lifted a quivering hand to my mouth, pressing it against my lips in an attempt to steady myself. The words on the paper were hard to read because of my blurry vision, and because of something else – Hokuto's writing had always been a bit over the top, flowery and punctuated with little curls and hearts, but like most women, it had also always been legible. Her letters now melded into one another, as if she was shaking as she wrote, and I wondered if she'd been afraid.

Suddenly, the paper was swiped out of my hand, and my eyes jumped down to Kamui, who held it against his chest like a lifeline, eyes huge and boring into mine. "It make you sad," he explained slowly, as if I was the orphaned child and he the adult. "No sad, please."

I couldn't help the huff of laughter that escaped my lips, as I did my best to brighten my expression for his sake. He looked dubious for a minute, watching me carefully, but thankfully fell for the ploy, his cheer – the cheer Hokuto had mentioned with her last words – bringing life back into his tiny face. "No sad?" he repeated again, as if to be sure.

"I am not sad, little one," I confirmed. Carefully extracting the already abused letter from his grasp, I folded it into a neat little square and tucked it into my front pocket. It was not my last memento of my sister, I knew, observing Kamui, who was picking already browning petals off the sakura flowers he'd gifted me earlier. I smiled at him affectionately. Then, taking a deep breath of air, I smoothed out my expression to an unreadable one. "Do we know what killed her?" My voice was so cold that Kamui looked up at me briefly, before amusing himself once more when one of his petals blew away.

Grandmother's countenance mirrored mine, somber and severe. This was more than just a tragedy; it was a serious family matter. The 'shadows' Hokuto spoke of – the darkness – likely referred to our many enemies, but who? Kakyou, too, had enemies, coming from a prominent politically-savvy family – more than that, he had enemies in the family because he escaped, and though we hated to think of it, Hokuto also had such enemies. Not every Sumeragi found her rebelliousness endearing.

"The family coroner said she had ingested some sort of slow acting poison, but she also observed some bruising on her body, and cuts," Grandmother explained slowly, her eyes slowly counting each of the marbled tiles that made up the floor, probably to keep herself from falling apart. It was one thing to see death day to day during our jobs, but to hear of it in our family...it was hard. I tried to recall if she looked the same when my father died, but I had been so young then, and I couldn't remember.

My own eyes were screwed shut, and thankfully Kamui didn't seem to understand, because I knew just how difficult it was for a small child to hear that his mommy and daddy were gone for good.. "And...Kakyou? What of his whereabouts? Is he dead, too?" The letter hadn't been very clear about that, but if Kamui was here, instead of with his father, then there mustn't be much hope.

Grandmother sighed, lifting one hand to rub the gathering pressure from the bridge of her nose. "The door to their home...it was broken open. There was blood, a lot of it, and not all of it belonged to Hokuto. But Kakyou was nowhere to be found." There was an edge of dislike in her voice, an anger mixed with sorrow, and I frowned – it seemed, even now, there were no feelings lost between Grandmother and Kakyou. "She gave us no clues about her killer's identity, just that she expected it. The letter had been wired to our family attorney with strict orders not to open it until, quote, you'll know when, a month before her death. Well, we knew when she had gone, and it was already too late by then." She slammed her frail fist on her wheelchair's arm-handle and muttered, "We should have opened it. We never should have listened to her."

"You didn't know any better," I replied in a whisper, although I felt as guilty as she, if not more. Hokuto had sent me so many letters – I should have been able to sense the differences in them, the fear, since I was her twin – we were supposed to know each other best of all. My fists, which had been resting on either side of Kamui's small hips, tightened suddenly, my knuckles turning white. Kamui gently tugged on my sleeves, whimpering at the pain I'd unintentionally been causing him, and I let him go with horrified, guilty eyes. "Sorry," I breathed into his hair. Then, with the sudden burst of adrenaline that comes with realization, "H-how did Kamui escape?" The little boy looked up upon hearing his name and giggled, apparently already having forgotten my transgression, and I didn't know whether that was a good or bad thing – had he been hurt and blocked it out? Our enemies were not known for mercy.

Grandmother's lips tightened, perhaps thinking along those same lines, and Kamui hid his face in my coat, his round cheeks flushed red from noticing all the eyes in the room were on him. Not relieving his discomfort any, she continued, "Do you sense it? A strange, muffling sensation blocking Kamui? It's the remnant of some powerful, occult protection spell. Ki." My brows knitted together. Now that she mentioned it, I could feel it, but the natural barriers over the family estate had, as Grandmother had explained, muffled it. Adding magic to the mix had added to the urgency, to the danger, of the situation, but it also posed a question... "You know Hokuto was never magically prone," Grandmother voiced my thoughts, eyes dark. "She must have given her life for that child, what power flowed through her veins, to keep him safe. It is one of the many causes of death we've narrowed down."

Kamui remained oblivious to all this – to the fact that my sister had died for him – but I couldn't find it in me to blame him. Instead, I felt even more sad. Our father had died when we were young, killed by our greatest enemy, and our mother had died giving birth to us. In one of her letters, Hokuto had revealed to me just how much she wanted a happy, story-book family. She'd almost had it, she'd almost provided it for my innocent nephew who deserved as much, but something had taken it from her.

I sighed. Her sacrifice shouldn't be in vain. "I will head the investigation into this matter," I told my grandmother seriously. Her eyes widened, but she seemed pleased. I knew why; as much as a clan head could, I tried to avoid familial politics, although I still made myself available for active duty. "Hokuto deserves as much."

"Of course," Grandmother agreed, melting into her wheelchair with relief. She couldn't do it herself, ill as she was, but I knew she didn't want to hand off the matter to anyone but me. As I'd said, anyone could be Hokuto's murderer, family or not. We only had each other to trust. "Now, all we've left to deal with is the child."

"What do you mean?" I asked, confused. Kamui yawned softly and wiggled some more, apparently bored of sitting still so long, but he was a good child and didn't fret. Apparently, Hokuto had taught him the manners she'd so detested as a child, which would have greatly amused me at any other time.

Grandmother frowned. "You cannot possibly care for him, Subaru. You're only twenty-five, living in a rat's hole of an apartment, and though I hate to say it, even if conditions were improved, the family elders would never allow it."

I bit my lower lip so hard that it felt like my teeth would slice clean through it, feeling the anger and disgust roiling within me. Quietly, punctuating each word with a harsh breath, I said, "Hokuto was right about you, Grandmother – she was right not to tell you anything and I see that now." I stood up, lifting Kamui's small form with me, feeling his short arms wrap around my neck loosely, and walked over to the open casket in the center of the room, ignoring Grandmother's sharp, hurt intake of breath. I kept one hand pressed to the back of Kamui's head, keeping his innocent eyes off of his mother's peaceful face, and paid my respects, ignoring the sorrowful chatter of Grandmother and her aids. Finally, I walked over to the door, and without turning I ordered, "Please send Kamui's things to my apartment, as well as any new evidence that comes up in the case."

With that, I walked out of the family estate once more, Kamui tucked against my side, and felt a sense of deja-vu. Kamui's eyes watched the manor as we left it behind.

A/N: I hope you liked the chapter. :) I'm a little anxious about it, because I've been out of practice in fanfiction writing for a while - especially multichapter, since I've been popping out oneshots like a factory. But I'm really happy that X/TB fandom isn't completely dead, and I'm glad to contribute to its resuscitation. I hope you contribute, too, by reading/reviewing - and by writing awesome fics, which I'll be sure to read. ;)

Thanks: To all my readers, reviewers, LJ comment-givers, and everyone who added this to their story-alerts. Hope it's not a disappointing chapter.

KitsunePan: I love TB and X and I'm glad you're back into the fandom - although I'm not entirely sure if you still are since it's been a while, but a girl can hope, right? Here's your update! I really hope it was worth the wait. ^^;

Mitsuki Yukishiro: Thank you so much! I'm glad you like it. Here's your update and I hope you like this, too. I'll try not to take so long next time.

R&R: The next update, I hope, will be soon, but I'm not sure since I haven't worked on it yet (my inspiration is very random in occurrence). Please enjoy this and, if you do, leave me a review! If you don't, leave me a review telling me what went wrong. Either way...review! :)