5-20-2002

Who would have thought it, but it's time for Borealis to end. Thank you to everyone that's been patient with me and my slow writing, and I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed creating this story.

^_^

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Pyractomena Borealis Epilogue

All in all, we came out of the big fight a hell of a lot better than we had on our last adventure. I ended up with some stitches in my shoulder, a couple more on my wrist, and a cute little splint for my index finger. I decided that I'd have to make sure to break my middle finger next time; being able to flip people off constantly held a certain appeal. The rest of the guys were pretty much the same: Wufei and Trowa needed some stitches, Quatre had managed to crack a bone in his wrist, and Heero ended up with a couple cotton balls shoved up his nose. After the required 'You boys shouldn't fight' lecture, we escaped back to the school.

Heero didn't want to talk much, and we didn't push him. He spent a lot of time staring blankly off into space before finally admitting that he'd felt a little funny for the past couple of weeks, but hadn't wanted to say anything. He'd been as surprised as the rest of us with what happened. Case closed. We called it good and let it be. Heero, determined to have better control over his weird power than I have over mine, has been practicing setting different things on fire. It's almost possible to see the little wheels in his head turning as he figures out what kind of applications his abilities could have on a mission.

Treize and Johannes left us alone, pretty much. As far as I knew, they were still feuding, but they were the most gentlemanly vampires I'd ever met, and they seemed determined not to drag us back into it. I was fine with that. Every now and then, when I was in Shinjuku, I'd see Tony. He'd always wave to me, and I'd always wave back. Who would have thought that a registered member of the goon squad would turn out to be a knight in furry armor. One with really, really big teeth.

We got new marching orders from the mads. They were nice enough to give us nearly a month of warning, at least. Wufei and I would be staying in Tokyo, Heero was to move to Nagoya, and Trowa and Quatre were to head off to Kyoto. We weren't too thrilled at the idea of being separated, but we didn't have much choice. War waits for no man, after all. Besides, we still had a whole month to party like it was going out of style.

And me? I went back to having nightmares, this time about the lady with the silver streaks in her hair. Yeah, the one that got killed because she'd tried to protect Trowa and I. I didn't get much sleep, but I was surviving, and that's how things stayed for a while.

Then one night...

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"Duo!"

Someone shook me, tearing me from the dream I'd been having. Not that I had a problem with it; I knew the dream all too well. Even after weeks of watching the woman fall, mixed sickly with images of Father Maxwell and Sister Helen, the dreams still hadn't lost their effect. I felt guilty and heavy with sin; she'd died because she'd been stupid and noble and tried to protect us.

"Duo!"

"Yeah, what?" I pulled myself into full consciousness. Concerned, sharp blue eyes were peering down at me. Heero. "What d'ya want, man?" I briefly considered shoving him away, but decided against it. Relations between the two of us were still a bit strained, though I had apologized to him. I didn't want to make things worse.

"You were having that dream again, weren't you." He didn't make it a question.

"What, the one where I'm giving a speech in front of the student body, then realize I'm naked?" I tried to grin, but a sharp look from him killed that idea. "Yeah, I am." I admitted.

Heero shook his head. "You told me the story. It wasn't your fault. She chose to step between you."

"Yeah, but if I hadn't been there, she'd still be alive."

"You don't know that. She could have gotten hit by a car the next day."

"But that's still better than dying with your throat ripped out." I shook my head. "And you don't know that either, Heero. Stalemate."

Heero sat back, causing the mattress between us to let out a metallic groan that sounded way too loud in the stillness of the room. "I think," he said slowly, "that if she were the kind of person to protect those she did not know, she would also be the kind of person that wouldn't want you to blame yourself."

"I wish I could believe that like you do." I put my head in my hands. "It'd be nice to start sleeping again."

"You can always ask her." Heero said quietly.

I felt like someone had hit me in the back of the head with a two-by-four. The idea had never even occurred to me. "But how...?"

Heero treated me to a full-blown smirk. "I know where to find things out."

An hour later found us in a moonlit cemetery. I've always thought that cemeteries are beautiful by night; they're very peaceful. As soon as I stepped onto the gravel path, flares of white, ethereal energy rose from a few of the graves. Ghosts, shaken into wakefulness by my presence. They were beautiful as well, with the moonlight shining down on them.

"Where will she be, Heero?"

"If the map I studied is correct, she should be in the southeast corner. That's where bodies waiting to be cremated go."

We walked down the silent path, not even disturbing the gravel. It wouldn't have been right to disturb the peace of this time of night. At the building, I picked the lock and we slipped inside. The wall was covered with metal cabinets, like the ones you'd see in a morgue. Wouldn't do to have your loved ones ripen before you had a chance to say goodbye.

"What was her name, Heero?" I asked.

"Mimeyo Sakura." He whispered back.

Heero ended up finding her cabinet--he read kanji better than I did. We opened the cabinet and pulled the drawer out. She was naked, but had a sheet over her, for decency's sake, I guessed. The gash in her throat had been sewn up neatly, and her makeup had been removed. They'd even gone to the trouble of dyeing her hair so that it was completely black. In death, she looked peaceful, but still determined, and I could almost imagine that there was kindness in the lines of her face.

I couldn't pace a circle around her, so I had to improvise. I'd stolen a salt shaker from a McDonald's a couple days earlier, and I used the salt to make the circle. "In this circle, I call to thee." I whispered. A pinch of dirt from the cemetery got dabbed on each of her eyelids, and over her heart. I put the same marks on myself. "With earth, I bind thee to thy body." Once satisfied with the placement, I pulled my pocket knife out and slashed my palm open so that I could add drops of blood to the dirt. "And with my blood, be born as my child."

My fingers were shaking as I wiped a small portion of blood across her lips. "Take my gift and live again." I could feel energy draining from me, into her, as I made myself into a net that would hold her essence together and bring her coherence. "Open thy eyes, Mimeyo Sakura." I tried to imbue everything I knew of her into my last two words, coaxing the echo of her soul into waking.

I'd always known that names held power, which was why I had named myself. I never realized that they could contain the entire being of a person until now, though.

Sakura's eyes fluttered open, and she licked her lips, wiping them clean of the blood. I held my still bleeding hand out to her, and she took it, drinking my blood eagerly. She was done in just a few moments, though. She'd been dead for only a couple of weeks, so didn't need much of a kick start.

"Where am I?" she asked, sitting up quickly. The sheet slipped from her chest, revealing her small breasts. I looked away politely. Hey, even the dead have feelings.

"You're in holding facility, awaiting your turn to be cremated." I said, finally. Honesty seemed like the best policy.

"But I'm not..." She clutched at her throat, her fingers finding the stitches. "How..."

I covered her hand with mine. Her skin felt like cold wax. "I brought you back, for just a little while, because we have business that must be finished between us."

Her eyes widened as she looked at me. "You...and that other boy..."

I nodded. "You tried to protect us from a monster, and were killed because of it." I choked up for a moment with unwept tears. My eyes stung. "I'm...I need to say...I'm sorry." I could feel the tears escaping at last. I didn't care.

She reached out and brushed my tears away with cold finger tips. "You shouldn't apologize to me." she said. "What I did was what I did."

"You died." I said, shaking my head.

"I died how I would have wanted to, then." She smiled at me with serenity only the dead could ever hope to achieve. "So few people have control over their own death. I at least died doing something I believed in, it would seem."

"But..."

"No. No 'buts.'" she said, voice firm. "Refusing a gift is very rude."

That earned her a watery chuckle. "Lady, I wish I had gotten to know you in life." I reached out a hand and gently pushed her back down.

"If we're lucky, you'll have that chance in the next." she said.

"I'm not a good enough person, but you've given me something I can strive for." I smiled. "Thank you. Thank you a thousand times over." I pulled the salt shaker out of my pocket again and sprinkled a bit on her shoulders and over her heart. "With salt, thy bindings are broken." I said. Her eyes fluttered shut. "Rest, Sakura, and dream of a time when we'll meet again."

I didn't so much feel her leave as notice a sudden emptiness in myself. It didn't hurt, too badly. I felt as if I'd just been absolved of all my sins. Well, maybe not all of them, but one of the biggies, at least. Heero and I slid her back into the cabinet, not bothering to clean her up. What the hell, it'd make the morticians wonder.

Only then did I look at Heero. No words needed, he stepped forward and gathered me into his arms. With my face pressed against his shoulder, I truly cried, letting myself be forgiven for a sin I'd been carrying for almost ten years.

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And it is done.

Just to let you guys know...yes, I do have a sequel plotted out right now. Please don't ask me for parts from it, though, since I need a little break from the GW stories; my muse is in serious need of a vacation, since I've had him working non-stop since '99. Now that I'm done writing Borealis, I'll get its fic index page spiffed up eventually, since I already have a nice piece of fanart. :)

Secondly, for those that have been wondering and were too lazy to plug it into Google:
Pyractomena Borealis is a breed of firefly. Tah dah!

I'd be quite honored if you'd fill out the following "End of Fic" questionnare:

1. Well, did you like it? More or less than Atropos?

2. Did you think everyone was pretty much in character?

3. Did I keep you in suspense enough, or do I need to work at becoming even more evil and cruel with my cliffhangers?

4. What was your most favorite part? What about your least favorite part? Please explain.

5. Outside of Duo, who we all love, who was your favorite character? Least favorite? Did you feel that everyone got a shot at being developed at least a little?

6. Last but not least, are there any opinions you'd like to share about the story that aren't covered in the above questions? Feel free to hit me with them, good or bad.

Thanks for your time, everyone, and talk to you later!!!