12-23-1999

Ok, since it has been a little while since I sent part 5 out, here's my standard spiel:

Now, keep in mind that Borealis will only make sense if you read the first story of this universe, Acherontia Atropos, which can also be accessed from the above link. And yes, I said "this universe." This is an Alternate Reality Gundam Wing fanfic, which has been heavily influenced by the Anita Blake novels (written by the amazing Laurell K Hamilton). Keep in mind that this is not a straight crossover in any sense of the word. I am not using any Anita Blake characters at all. There are warnings on this fic for yuck factor, yaoi-factor, and spontaneous combustion factor. C&C welcome, as always.

This parts a bit short, folks, but I have a good reason. It's pretty much [boring] setup for part 7, which I will start writing tomorrow, and which I promise will be MUCH longer. This part had to be done, though. It's one of those things.

--

Pyractomena Borealis VI

"What the hell were you thinking?" Heero almost snarled at me. His nose was about an inch away from touching mine.

I winced and repositioned the ice bag that I was holding to my head. "I didn't do it on purpose, you know." I said. "You can ask Wufei if you don't believe me. It's not like we went trotting through the Theater District, saying 'Here vampy, vampy, vampy...' Not even I'm that stupid, so give me a little credit, ok?" My patience was starting to wear a little thin. A guy can only take so much yelling before he starts yelling back, and I really didn't want to yell back, because my head would probably explode.

Wufei and I had arrived back at the dorms breathless from our headlong fleeing spree, though Wufei was a little worse off than me, mostly because he'd been doing most of the work. He'd been pretty much carrying me along the entire time. We'd told everyone what had happened as succinctly as we could, and then we'd all went back to our separate rooms to get a handle on things and try to think of solutions. Unfortunately, since Heero and my room were one and the same, I was trapped with him, and he was in fine form tonight. He'd managed to keep it in until we'd gotten back to the room, but as soon as I'd gotten my ice pack out and sat down, he went off into a rant that would've done Wufei proud. Sometimes it surprises me that on occasion, Heero can dredge up enough emotion to go off in a foaming at the mouth tirade. I guess it's a good thing, since that means he's still got some feelings left. Most of the time, though, it just dismays me, since I'm the one that's usually on the receiving end.

"You should have been more careful." Heero said harshly. He glared at me.

I sighed quietly. This was really wearing thin. "I did take backup, remember?"

"You should have taken more, or you shouldn't have gone out at all."

"I made the mistake of assuming that vampires don't normally jump people in the middle of crowded streets. So shoot me." Whoops, that was a mistake to say. For all I knew, Heero would do it.

"Don't tempt me." he said, very dryly.

I continued on quickly before he could say anything else. "Come on, Heero. My head hurts. Would you stop yelling at me already?"

"You could have been killed."

"Yeah, so, I could get killed every time I dare to get out of bed in the morning. So could you. So could anyone. Yelling at me isn't going to do anything but make me as cranky as you."

It had the desired effect. Heero paused, mid tirade, and turned to face me, an incredulous look on his face. "Cranky...?" he finally said, one of his eyebrows twitching upward.

"Yeah." I said, "cranky. I think you need a nap."

The corner of Heero's mouth quirked into something approximating a smile, and I relaxed. I'd managed to break his concentration, so he wasn't going to be able to get up enough steam to start yelling at me again. I hoped. I settled the icebag against my throbbing head a little more comfortably and then took a moment to appreciate just how cute Heero looked. I just love the little half smile he gets when I've said something that has him mildly confused or dismayed. It's almost as good of an expression as the smile he gets when he's completed a mission. It makes him look young and innocent and downright boyscout-ish, an impression that inevitably gets ruined when he starts blowing stuff up.

Just as suddenly as it had appeared, the little smile vanished and Heero scowled at me again. "You have to be more careful. This entire school, as well as our cover, is in danger now."

I lay back on my bed and closed my eyes. I was too tired to be annoyed, but I was trying anyway. "Look, I was careful. I took back up, like I was supposed to. I went armed, like I was supposed to. I stuck to populated areas where Wufei and I should have supposedly been able to melt into the crowd, like I was supposed to. I followed the same procedure we've followed in every damn city we've been in."

There was a sound from the other end of the room, Heero's bed settling. He must have sat down. "It worked before." he said.

"They never came looking for us before." I said.

"They came looking for you."

Suddenly, I knew what was happening. Before, when we'd dealt with Kalin, it had been our battle, in the end. We'd taken the little war to their doorstep, always advancing like normal. We'd still almost gotten killed, but we were used to it, like that. It had been straight forward; we were good, they were bad. But now, we seemed to be stuck between two groups of vampires, and they weren't acting like the last one. Heero didn't know what to make of it. We were all off balance, and I knew how much Heero hated not taking decisive action. "Yeah, they did." I sighed softly. "I think I've gone and made myself a reputation, Heero. With the wrong crowd, no less."

"Aa."

"We're screwed."

"Aa." Heero said again.

"So now it's up to us to get unscrewed." I didn't want to deal with this. I wanted to crawl under my blanket and never come out. I hate having to clean up my own messes.

"Aa."

I closed my eyes. This was making me tired. "Heero."

"Yes?"

"You're a real big help." I wondered if he got the sarcasm. Then I wondered why I even cared.

***

I don't know if it was the head injury or the freak out factor, but I had a majorly weird dream. I was in Maxwell Church again, but for once when it was whole and beautiful, instead of the twisted wreck that the battle had left it. I was kneeling on the smooth, cold stone floor in front of the altar. It must have been evening; the altar was covered in candles, and there was no light shining through the single stained glass window. I didn't need the light, though; I knew that window almost as well as I knew my own face, an abstract scene of Jesus standing before the cross with the sun shining behind him. I loved that window.

Too bad that it got shattered into a thousand pieces about the time my life fell apart.

I looked at my hands. They were so small--had they ever been that small, even when I was a child? I guess they must have. My fingernails were ragged...I used to chew on them when I was little, and there was dirt ingrained underneath that no scrub brush could ever get out. There was a rosary draped over my hands, and I recognized it as well. The beads were made of amethyst and rose quartz. It had belonged to Sister Helen. She told me once that it, in turn, had belonged to her mother.

It was a familiar scene, one that I could remember from every night that I'd lived in Maxwell Church. The candles, the rosary, the scratchy clothes I was wearing, the cold stone of the floor under my bony knees...everything was as it should be. Father Maxwell was even kneeling next to me, his head bowed as he prayed.

Wait a minute...Father Maxwell wasn't that tall...

The man next to me looked up, then slowly stood, crossing himself. A cross hung from a thin chain around his neck and caught the light of the candles.

It was Johannes.

I gasped and tried to stand up, my stomach clenching. This was wrong. No, this couldn't be happening, not even in my dream Maxwell Church. Instead of getting up, I caught my foot in one of my pants legs; they'd always been too long for me since I was a lot smaller than the kids they normally got at the church. I fell back against the pew behind me and managed to get the breath knocked out of me. The only thing that kept me from falling forward onto the floor was a quick grab for the back of the pew. As soon as I'd managed to get a solid hold on the pew, I looked up. Johannes was looking right at me, a small smile on his lips. Slowly, he turned to face the back of the church. I couldn't help but look too.

There was no one, at least where Johannes was looking. In the place of the statues of angels that had made up the four columns on the right side of the church stood Quatre, Trowa, Wufei, and Heero, pale and still like they were carved from stone themselves.

Johannes held out a hand toward the back of the church like someone was there and reaching out for him. I couldn't see anyone, but the shadows grew deeper until they swallowed the light of the candles, and I couldn't see anything anymore. I curled up into a little ball, hugging my knees against my chest as a cold breeze filtered through the church.

The chill breath of wind had a voice, one that tugged at the depths of my memories.

/My Johannes.../

***

I sat up quickly. Unlike my dream, my room was bright with sunlight. Some dork (Heero) had forgotten to pull the curtains across the windows when he got up.

Wait a second. It was light. Really light. Like high noon type light. What the hell?

The door opened, and before I knew what had happened, my gun was out from under the corner of the mattress and pointed at a completely unimpressed Heero. Who me, jumpy? Naw. I prefer to use the word 'cautious.'

Heero raised an eyebrow at me.

I grinned sheepishly and tucked the Browning back under the mattress. "Next time knock, will ya?" I said, playing it cool.

"This is my room as well."

He had me there. Well, when all else fails, go for the offensive. I don't like being startled. "So?" I said.

He ignored me. I hate it when he does that. One day, I'm going to bite him. Then again, the cleaning staff would be scrubbing bloodstains off the walls with toothbrushes for months. Not Heero's. Mine. "Did you get enough sleep? You seem rather..." he smiled wryly, "cranky."

Ok, I REALLY wanted to bite him now. Time for a subject change. "What time is it?"

Heero flipped on the display of the damn devil laptop. "Five minutes after twelve." he said.

"And I'm assuming that there's a reason I'm in bed when I should be eating lunch."

"Yes." Heero sat down at his desk. "We were all of the opinion that you were injured badly enough that it would be advisable to allow you to sleep late. We already gave your excuse to the teachers."

"Huh." I sat back in bed. My head hurt, yeah, but not that much. I'd had a lot worse injuries and managed to function normally. Well...or as normally as I can function. Still...I mentally ran through my schedule. No tests, no major assignments due, just lecture after boring lecture. I grinned, despite the fact that it made my head ache slightly. Note to self...Advil. Lots of it. And soon. "Alright...so I'm off for the rest of the day, ne?" Looked like good 'ol Heero had done me a favor for once and gotten me out of the hell known as school.

Heero looked at me like I'd just asked him if he had a dead rat for supper last night. "You're staying right here for the rest of the day."

"I'm what?" No, that couldn't be happening. Trapped in a room with Heero, his laptop, and a pounding headache all day? God couldn't possibly be so cruel.

"We picked up your homework for you."

Yes, God could be that cruel.