Sequel to 4 AM

Author: Asuka Kureru
Beta: Kitty Chou *cuddlecuddle*
Moral support and kicks in the arse: Seraphim and Mikkeneko ^_^

See
4 AM for warnings.

Rituals

One Year Later.

------

2 AM. Here we are again, Heero, my love.

As I had predicted, it's been a hard year. Harder than ever. Missing my love so much. Having to deal with a new bout of mother-henning by Quatre; I wasn't cautious enough and he realized my "obsession" still ran just as deep.

I avoid him now. He's a true friend and I'm missing him, but I've grown tired of his pitying looks. He's as obsessed with healing me from what he perceives as temporary insanity as I am with not letting go of Heero. He doesn't understand that if I let go of Heero, there will be nothing of me left, that it won't be anything else than another form of that suicide he made me swear off. I avoid Trowa too since most of the time when one is somewhere, the other is there too, but at least Trowa doesn't nag me. I think that, if he doesn't understand, he accepts, at least. I'm lucky he isn't the kind of guy who will let a friendship die from lack of meetings. I could spend years without seeing him, and when I chance upon him, everything would be the same as before. No anger, no resentment, no demands, just a calm, faintly amused presence.

Wufei's discovered a new depth to his friendship with me. He didn't ever talk about it, and he's too proper and too honorable to openly or discretely propose anything, but I'm not stupid. I know.

He knows I'm not stupid, he knows that I know, but we never talk about it. He's a lot like my husband in some aspects, but they're only general things. They're the same kind of people, driven, dedicated, silent but always watching, hiding dry wits behind an aloof act. But it isn't Heero's soul that shines through his eyes.

He doesn't realize that I'm even less of an idiot than he believes. I know things that he doesn't know himself.

Sometimes, when he looks at me, it's his Meiran that he sees in my eyes. He's nearly as "obsessed" as I am; he just does a better job at hiding it from others; from himself. He thinks he has let go. Fat chance.

Even if I could let another man into my heart anyway ­which I can't; Heero's been branded into my soul ­ even if I could change my affection and respect for Wufei into something akin to romantic interest, even if I wasn't devoured alive by the pain of seeing him so alike and yet so different from my Heero, we wouldn't have a good relationship. You can never compete with the ghost of your companion's true soulmate. He should realize that. I did.

I'm sad for him, because he lost Meiran before they realized what they had and now, he doesn't want to face what he's lost. I'm sad for him, because he wouldn't feel so tortured if ever he only accepted to see the hole in his life. At least he could attempt to build around it, instead of crossing and crossing it, and wondering why he trips every time.

And I bet he's never thought of going to her tomb and offering his hair and his blood ­not that I know if this ritual would work for him. Maybe he needs another ritual, with symbols that would be his own. Maybe he just can't, because I'm some sort of... what is it called ? Medium? Necromancer? In that case I'm lucky. Lucky to have received the gift that permits me to see Heero again. Two hours a year.

Two hours of lovemaking. 364 days and 22 hours of searing loneliness. This last year, I've fully realized something.

This isn't enough.

+

I have read, and researched. Finally questioned the gift I had received. Most of what I found was bullshit, RPG stats, dark fairytales. Of course zombies ­what an ugly word- are not supposed to exist. But I'm nothing if not dedicated, and the stakes are more than enough motivation. And at least, the feeling of doing something at last helped me to soothe the gaping hole in my heart, to stall the pain. But every time I failed, every time I hit a dead end, it came back even harder. I think it was that for the first time since Heero had been torn from me, I allowed myself to hope. Hope hurts.

My hope told me that I was still more alive than I had believed. It was battered and bruised along the year, but every time I thought it would finally die, it was fed and nurtured by my knowledge that one way or another, this is the last year... the last I spend without my other half.

This year, when the two hours end, either I will have Heero with me, or I will be dead. And be with Heero. As I see it, either way I win.

+

Finally, I stand before the grave. The moon is out tonight, as always for this night of the year. I'm grateful. I need to see what I'm doing, because this year, the ritual will be different.

From what I understood of my research, when I give Heero blood, I give him the energy he needs to come back to me. When I give him my hair, I give him an anchor in reality, in materiality. I give him something of a bridge to his own body. Well, more like the bridge is still here, tethering Heero's soul, but broken, and my blood and hair only serve to reinforce it to help Heero come across. There are other details, but they're not as important.

When I give Heero part of my body, his body comes back to life. But he ­his soul ­is using so much strength trying to hold it together, trying to stay with me, that he can't use even one ounce of energy for anything else. There is only enough for his body and the purest form of himself, his deepest essence. That's why I only ever hear my name and the ai shiteru that tears at my heart, just before he has to leave again.

If I want his soul to come back...

Blood, of course, because blood holds power. But my hair... I thought long and hard about that. It's a symbol, sure. My braid has always been a symbol, to me and to him. But it's also solid, something I can touch, and... I don't know how to explain it.

Anyway, two inches won't be enough this time. According to the books, the strength of the ritual is proportional to the valor of the offering.

... Heero loves my hair. I'm not sure he'll be happy with me. But to have him back with me...

...Bah! Hair grows back.

I settle down on Heero's grave, my back against the headstone, like every year. The position is familiar. Soothing.

Okay... so what now? Ah, right. Flour and rum. The sources I have all say it helps invoke the ghosts. As I say, even if it does no good, I don't see how it can do bad. I sprinkle the grave with flour before liberally splashing the rum over it. Good rum too, tested it. Tempted to taste it again, just for a drop of warmth in the ice that my body is turning into, but I resist. It's for Heero, not for me.

I place the candle between my legs, over where Heero's chest should be. I made it myself, following tons and tons of constraints and age-old methods and whatnot. Maybe it isn't really important, maybe it's just superstition. Maybe it isn't. Never hurts though. I don't want to fail. Sure, I'll die if I fail, but... As long as I'm with Heero, I'd rather live a little longer.

They say you have to use either a knife made of either silver or copper, with such and such engravings, but I've found that the really important thing isn't the symbol it is for everyone, it's what it symbolizes for you. I use the knife he gave me for the anniversary of our first meeting. Gundanium. Deathscythe and Wing. I've been using it every year. It will do just fine this year too.

Now the hair and the blood. I throw my shirt away, undo my hair, letting it fall free down my back. It feels nice. It's the last time I'll feel that gentle tickling along my hips before a while, if it works. For a second I see sister Helen giving me that sad look, and it tears at me, but... It's either her or Heero.

She'll understand. I grab the first strand. The blood, as always, comes from when I cut through my hair too fast; but I don't especially care, nor do I feel the pain.

I can't help but feel a twinge of panicked regret when I look at my hand and find a freakishly long lock of hair in it, the tips brushing patterns into the flour; I cut it close to the scalp. Maybe I shouldn't cut the next ones too close, I'll look weird otherwise. There is blood from my cut hand slowly dripping down the length. My hair looks wet, black against the light. It looks... alien. Was it really part of me?

I raise it above the flame and watch the still dry ends catch. It stinks. My eyes water. From the smoke of course. It's a thick, dark, nasty-smelling smoke after all. It smells like the ruins of Maxwell Church all over again.

You see, lots of ethnicities believe that to offer anything to the spirits, who live in the (duh) spiritual plane, you have to burn them. The fire purifies and sends from one world to another. It's that belief that made man begin to burn his dead.

When my hair stays in this world, so does the power I give Heero, and so... It makes sense for me.

What I'm doing is offering Heero a new focal point. It will break his link with his body entirely, and that means never having him hold me again, but it also means that the link will be transferred to my own body. I don't know what will happen after that. No one knows, no one ever tried. My lifeforce will have to sustain two souls, and maybe I'll die, but if it happens once the link forged, it won't matter because nothing in this world or the next will ever be able to tear us apart. Maybe my body will live, but our two souls will merge, and we'll be one. I fear losing my individuality, but if that's the alternative to losing Heero, I'll sacrifice it too.

Maybe I'll die and he'll live. It would suck. Less for me than the contrary though, but that's quite selfish. I hope if that happens, my soul will keep him company.

Now comes the hard part.

Every time I went through this ritual before, all along, I've been thinking 'come back to me. I need your embrace. Come back to me.' And that's what you've done, Heero, my love. But that isn't what I need to think about this time.

Another strand goes. 'Snip', says the blade. 'Frrr' says the flame climbing the lock. The smoke turns darker, thicker when it reaches the part where my blood is seeping through.

I need you to stay with me. Over everything else, that is what I need. I will even sacrifice your embraces to have your presence with me. So... stay with me. Please.

Please. I'm sorry I can't say more, I'm sorry all my words have deserted me.

Snip, snip. Fffrrrr.

Please.

Snip.

Nothing is happening. Nothing at all. I'm afraid. I know it's not probably going to happen before the end of the ritual, but... at least a sign, a hint that I'm on the right track...

I need you to come to me, Heero. Don't leave me alone. Am I doing something wrong? Am I destroying the link that moored you to this world by trying to change it into something else?

... Okay, that's it. Enough of being a sissy. The strength of the ritual is proportional to the valor of the sacrifice. I'm ready.

I gather a big fistful of hair and pull it over my shoulder. The knife is dark with my blood; I notice that it's because I'm holding too close to the blade. I don't care.

'Do that and I'll kick your ass so hard that you will feel my sneaker in your throat.'

...

I think I will cry, when I have laughed enough.

He's here. He's see-through and blurred, but he's here.

And like a moron, I only realize that I'm going to throw myself at him when I nearly knock the candle down. I bet I'm as horrified as he looks. Breaking the ritual now before the link between us is sealed will... I don't know what it will, but it won't be pleasant. Here, nice candle. Stay in place, okay? I'm not throwing myself at him, I swear, it would be idiotic, I'd probably go right through him. So stay with me, nice, pretty candle that I handmade and respect your maker, because the two hours aren't finished yet and if you fucking go out, I'll ... use you for something gross.

Of course melting wax doesn't hurt. Red skin is in anyway. Ow, motherfucker.

I don't think I've laughed that hard in... Gods, has it been seven years already?

'You're nuts, anata.'

Yeah, I love you too, Heero.

Honest, I do.

end

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