Author: TJ Dragonblade
Pairing: 2x5, vague 2+3; mention of a few others
Rating: NC17
Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is created by Hajime Yatate and Yoshiyuki Tomino, copyrighted by Sunrise/SOTSU Agency, and distributed by Bandai entertainment. In other words, I am merely playing with the boys for the entertainment of myself and hopefully others; in so doing I mean no disrespect or copyright infringement.
Archive: Those with permission know who they are. If not--please ask first!
Feedback: If you feel so inclined--I *do* appreciate it.
Setting: AU. Fair warning--this world and 'religion' were hashed together with absolutely no regard for cultural, historical or geographical accuracy. Consider it pure fantasy based loosely on possibilities inspired by various bits & pieces of our world...

The Altar of Shinigami

The last day of my mortal life turned out to be unseasonably cold. The air was crisp, and chillier than it ought to be--autumn had arrived a few weeks earlier, far ahead of schedule; and my breath frosted before me as I hurried up the temple steps. Dry leaves scattered off the stone before my footsteps, stirred by some unseen wind, clearing the path as though they knew what I would become and made their obeisance now. I was shivering as I passed under the arch and through the big wooden double doors; but it was only partly due to the cold.

I was admittedly excited, and filled at the same time with a sort of nervous anticipation. For tonight, I became one with my god.

Trowa, High Priest of the Order of Shinigami, caught me in an embrace as I entered the temple.

"Greetings, Wufei," he said, his voice the same soft lilt it had always been. "Are you ready for tonight?"

"I do not know that one can ever be 'ready' for such a thing," I offered respectfully. "But I have prepared for many years; and now the day is upon me at last."

Trowa held me at arms' length by the shoulders, his green eyes smiling down at me from beneath his foreshock of auburn hair. "Your words are wise," he said. "You have always spoken great wisdom for one so young; you have always been the brightest light among us. It is no surprise in retrospect that Master Death should have chosen you."

I inclined my head in acknowledgement of his complimentary words.

It had been a surprise to me, at fifteen years of age, when I was informed of my destiny. I was the youngest of the Order, after all, and hardly thought myself a fit offering to our god. But I was neither impudent nor foolhardy enough to dispute his choice. He wanted me, for one reason or another; and after my initial trepidation, I was honored to fulfill his wishes.

"Everything is ready for you, Wufei," Trowa said softly; and I smiled.

"Then let us begin," I returned.

Trowa led me to the Cleansing Room, where indeed the fragrant bath had already been drawn. He left me alone then, closing the doors to the chamber as he withdrew.

I stood for a moment gazing down into the large rectangular basin in the floor; then knelt at the raised ledge that surrounded it, letting the smoke from the incense that burned at each corner of the bath waft about me comfortably, watching the steam rise from the surface of the pool. At last I divested myself of my clothing and slid carefully into the heated water, ducking my head under and swimming the admittedly short distance to the far side. I surfaced face first, hair sheeting behind me, and crossed my arms on the edge of the pool, allowing myself to float just below the water's surface. After a moment I turned, arms stretched out along the ledge and head laid back against it. The ceiling of the ritual bath chamber was glass, allowing the sunlight to pour down on me as I lay there contemplating the history that had brought me to this point.

+

It began one thousand years ago, when a handful of the followers of the God of Death entreated their deity to grant them immortality. Shinigami, in his infinite wisdom, had offered them a trial. He taught them an incantation that would allow those who so desired to live for one thousand years. He promised to return at the end of that time and grant true immortality to any who still wished it. In return, he would claim one of their number to dwell with him in the dark underworld as his mate.

Trowa had been High Priest at the time; it was he who had entreated our god on behalf of his people and he who had learned the incantation to grant what they sought. Sally, their chief healer and the woman who would eventually become my mother, had been there as well; and perhaps fifty others. The Order had lived in this temple for centuries, practicing their healing arts, their numbers slowly dwindling as some of the faithful grew weary of their immortality--as Master Death surely knew they would-- and entreated Trowa to release them from its spell. Trowa obliged them, every one, and they were allowed to grow old and die in the usual fashion.

My father, Heero, joined the Order perhaps a century after they first ceased to age.(1) He was a devout follower of the goddess of Life, and had come seeking the Order on an errand of vengeance for perceived wrongs done him. He was imprisoned within the depths of the temple; Trowa managed to bring him around to the service of Shinigami and granted him temporary immortality as well. They had been lovers for awhile; Trowa had ended that aspect of their relationship after two centuries without giving a full, satisfactory explanation. They remained close friends nonetheless; and Heero eventually fell in love with my mother.

Then, perhaps twenty-five years ago, a child had been born; and his parents had worried that their son would not share in their gift. Shinigami had assured his faithful chosen that children born under their pact would be granted immortality as well. Heero & Sally had long desired to become parents but feared that their deal with Death disallowed them. This new revelation had them overjoyed; by the time another five years had passed, I was born.

I had every happiness in my childhood, surrounded by this odd family of those who would never grow old; Quatre, the other child born to the Order, became my closest friend. We were, after all, the only ones remotely close to one another's age.

Trowa took us both under his tutelage, seeing it his duty as our leader to pass on the knowledge of our beginnings. We both listened, wide-eyed and full of wonder as he recounted the lore of how Shinigami had let us all live so long and the promise of Master Death's return to claim his mate.

I could not know, when I first heard that tale, that I was to become a part of it.

I had just turned fifteen when that revelation came.

It was a late spring afternoon when Trowa summoned me to his private chambers. He had an air about of him of agitation and great importance; I was curious to know what had so affected him.

"I have spoken with Shinigami this morning," he informed me at last, pacing back and forth in his dark robes as I stood waiting, respectfully silent. He paced a moment more, then turned to face me, green eyes keen with some enormous portent.

"As you know, our thousand years are nearly finished."

I nodded; the entire Order was well aware of this.

"And you also know the price named for our continued immortality." His soft voice was filled with an undercurrent of tension.

"One among us must return with him to the underworld as his mate," I confirmed, as he seemed to be waiting for my answer.

"Yes." Trowa took a deep breath and placed a hand gently on my shoulder. "Master Death has chosen his bride," he said softly, and paused. His eyes bored into mine; and suddenly I knew what would be said next.

"He has chosen you."

I blinked, the implications of this revelation cascading over me in waves of surprise and disbelief.

Shinigami had chosen me.

I was to become the consort of Death.

I was no one of importance; I was the youngest of them all. Surely there was someone more fitting for this role than I?

I was not prepared to give up the life that I had thought would last an eternity.

"...When?" I finally said, my voice sounding outwardly calm even as I was reeling from the shock.

"The night of the Equinox in your twenty-first autumn," Trowa replied softly, his firm hand on my shoulder my best anchor to reality.

Six years. Six and a half years longer of mortal life; then I would be consigned to eternal darkness.

"Sit down, Wufei," Trowa commanded gently, his voice strangely compelling as I realized that indeed my legs were trembling beneath me. I lowered myself carefully to a cushioned bench and accepted the tea he then offered. That liquid warmth was strengthening, comforting; I clung to that comfort as the world slowly righted itself around me.

"He spoke of you as his light in the darkness," Trowa said quietly at last, sounding oddly sad. "He has been watching you a long time, Wufei; I believe he is quite enamored of you."

I shook my head in disbelief, unsettled by the conviction in Trowa's eyes, conviction that seemed to mask other emotions I could only guess at. Surely the God of Death was not infatuated with me...

I was to learn that I was quite correct, though not in the way I had imagined.

I felt his touch as I left Trowa's chamber that afternoon. It was little more than an out-of-place breeze in the corridor of the temple; but it sent warm shivers down my spine as it wafted my hair back from my shoulders and sighed into nothingness. I stopped dead, unnerved; there was no possible means for such distinct ventilation this deep in the temple. Again that warm shiver poured gently down the back of my neck, dying as it touched my toes; and I knew.

Shinigami was with me.

I learned his presence quickly in the days that followed; he was never far as I struggled to accept the destiny thrust upon me. Strangely enough, he became a comfort despite the fact that it was he who had so upset my expectations. The warm, other-worldly sense of him always managed to calm me, to soothe my troubled mind; I soon began to look to his strange, silent visits with some degree of anticipation.

And then he spoke to me.

It was as I was lying in bed one night, sleep eluding me yet again, that I first heard his voice. It came as a soft whisper inside my head as the warmth of his presence rushed through me.

~Little Dragon...~

It was a nickname given me by Trowa & Quatre early in our schooling days; they had laughed that my appetite for knowledge was rapacious as a dragon's...

I sat bolt upright in bed, trembling. "M-Master?" I whispered to the empty room; and I had a sudden sense of his unseen smile.

~Sleep, Child,~ his voice came again, sighing gently through my mind; and I found myself sliding back beneath my blankets, suddenly unable to remain awake a moment longer. My eyes closed; and I sensed more than felt the touch of an invisible hand smoothing hair from my forehead. ~My Wufei...~ And sleep overtook me.

He spoke to me often, always when I was alone. I said little at first, awed that Master Death should speak directly to me--Trowa was the only one ever afforded such honor in all the long history of the Order. It soon became commonplace, however; and I grew quite comfortable conversing with the empty air alone in my chamber. He was becoming real to me, more than just the legend; I found him quite likeable. I had begun to think that perhaps spending eternity by his side would not be such a terrible thing, after all.

"Trowa seems quite moody of late," I remarked to him one day as I gazed out the window of my chamber at our beloved leader, who stood simply staring into the garden pond, his dark robes gathered around him and his staff of office held tightly in his hands.

~There is much on his mind, Child,~ came Shinigami's answer. ~I have upset the destiny he expected to follow...~

"How is that, Master Death?" I inquired, curiosity aroused.

~He has lived for centuries with the expectation that he would be the one I chose to fulfill the pact,~ Shinigami replied. ~It was the reason he ended his relationship with your father so long ago...he did not wish such painful ties when he left this world.~ I could sense his frown. ~But Trowa's place is here, among my people, leading them, guiding them, throughout the eternity they desire. He was never my intended mate, though I once thought otherwise. He is my voice on the mortal plane...~

"So now that he truly faces immortality, he must determine what he wishes to do with it?"

~Yes, Little Dragon,~ Shinigami said fondly. ~While he is filled with much joy at the prospect, he is also rather lost.~

"Lost," I repeated, feeling a pang of sadness for our leader.

~Do not fear for him, my Chosen one. He will find his direction soon enough...~

I shook my head. "Why did you choose me?" I asked, bold enough at last to voice the question that had haunted me from the moment I was first told of this.

~Can you not guess?~
His response was hesitant.

"Forgive me, Master; but I cannot," I replied, hushed.

I had a sense of invisible fingers tracing over the curve of my cheek, stroking over my hair; I shivered pleasantly.

~Death is, by necessity, a god of dark things,~ he said at last. ~I have longed for someone to light that darkness; your spirit burns bright enough to do so, my Little One. You give my existence a greater meaning...~

I shook my head, not meaning any disrespect, but unable to fathom how I could be such to a god.

The warmth of his presence surged, and I could very nearly feel him embracing me from behind.

~Wufei,~ his voice sighed; and I shivered again. ~My light in the darkness...have you not realized yet that I love you?~

The genuine love of a god...it was something no mortal dared dream of; and here it was offered so freely to me.

I had begun to quake with the magnitude of his confession; I moved unsteadily to sit on my bed, the ethereal warmth of his phantom embrace moving with me.

"Love," I said numbly, trying to come to terms with the idea.

~Love,~
he repeated softly; and I realized with a sense of irony that my initial reaction to Trowa's announcement had been right.

The God of Death was not infatuated with me.

He was truly in love.

The weight of my unworthiness was slowly crushing down upon me, making me foolish, foolhardy; I dared to question him.

"I am far from worthy, Master," I began. "How can you love one such as I? I am but a mere infant in your eyes; what could I possibly have to offer you?"

~Shouldn't the determination of your worthiness be up to me?~ The sound of amusement was in his voice. ~Love is an unpredictable emotion, Child,~ he continued. ~It takes us where it will; and it has taken me to you. I love you as no other ever could; your spirit, your beauty...they shine brightly in my dark night...I want you beside me, my companion always, eternally my lover...~

I seized upon that last word. "You lust for me, then?" I asked, surprised at my own boldness.

His response was rather enigmatic. ~I desire you, Dragon, in ways you could not begin to imagine...~

"Would you kiss me, then?" My tone was deliberately saucy. "Would you know the taste of my mouth?"

~Had I corporeal form, Child, yes,~ he answered, his silent voice tainted by a hint of sadness, of longing.

I continued on, heedless. "Would you touch me here...?" I placed two fingertips against my lips, pursing them slightly. "Or here...?" I trailed them down my neck, tilting my head back and closing my eyes, astonished by my impudence but unable to stop, knowing somehow that this would torment him terribly. "Here?" I whispered, pausing where the life pulsed strongest in my throat. "Or here...?" I began to unfasten my garments, laying myself out on the bed as I did so. "Here, Master," I breathed, opening my robes and ghosting my fingertips over my chest. "I would have you touch me, here..." I slid one hand over the tautness of my belly, the other to the front of my trousers, unlacing them, pulling them open as well. I could feel the tension in his presence; my hand slid lower, pushing down the cloth that covered me until I was stroking myself before his unseen eyes. "Master," I whispered, my voice as sultry as I in my inexperience could make it. "I would have you touch me, here...here...here..." I moaned softly, not realizing I had become so aroused.

~Wicked child,~ he breathed, making me still. ~Wicked, tempting child...~ I could sense anger in his tone, though it did not seem entirely directed at me. ~You shall have what you seek come your twenty-first autumn.~

"Why not here, right now, this night?" I flexed my hips, caressing myself again, displaying my manhood to him proudly, well aware that I was being completely insolent by this point but still unable to stop.

~Wufei, my Wufei...~ There was a sadness now, an emptiness to his tone, that struck me as terribly lonely. ~I do not take human form again until the night we wed, Dragon Child. You will have to be patient...~

I could sense there was more, there was a greater reason behind his sadness and anger; but my boldness had drained away as suddenly as it had come upon me. Slowly, I pulled my clothing back into place until I was covered again. "As you command, Master," I said softly; but his presence had already faded.

I was haunted for days by the loneliness in his tone, by the sadness I had felt in him. I asked him about it at last, begging his forgiveness for my cruel-intentioned teasing and humbly asking if I could do anything to cheer him.

~Once you are mine, Child, then all will be right,~ was his answer, given with a soft chuckle.

And it was then I began to realize that I loved him as well.

And yet still I harbored an understandable degree of apprehension about the entire arrangement--his company aside, the idea of eternal darkness and an underworld was quite disheartening. But I did not wish to tell him this, not wanting to sound afraid or unwilling.

I should have known better than to hide my misgivings from my god.

He confronted me as I was reading before the fire one early autumn night.

~Something troubles you, my child.~ His voice and his presence swept into the room, settling around me with a warm sigh.

"Nothing of consequence, Master." I brushed off his concern.

~Wufei...~ His voice was very much the stern parent. ~Tell me what is on your mind.~

"I..." I did not wish to complain, nor to make him feel as though our future union was something I did not desire.

~My precious child...~ His voice softened, warming me further, soothing my troubled mind. ~Tell me, Dragon,~ he requested gently. ~You need never fear to tell me anything...~

"Master," I began, and paused. "I do not mean to be ungrateful; and I am honored that you should choose me as your mate--I look forward to our union with great anticipation. But..." I trailed off into another pause, still hesitant.

~Go on, Child,~ he urged softly; I drew in a deep breath.

"When...when the tale is told of the gift you gave and the price you ask, always it is said that you wish a mate to join you 'in the dark underworld'; when one speaks of the realms of death, one is generally referring to darkness. And you yourself, Master--you speak of me as your light in the darkness...must it be so? Must I give up light and cheer to be yours?" I voiced the question timidly.

[cont] [back to TJ Dragonblade's fic]