Weiss Kreuz is the creation of Takehito Koyasu, belonging to Mr. Koyasu and any entities he has granted legal rights to. I do not possess or claim any sort of right to the characters, situation or plot of Weiss Kreuz. This story is merely a fan work expressing my appreciation.

Cattails and Roses

"...-chan!" a voice called.

Aya was surprised. He hadn't thought she was awake. He had watched her for a few minutes from the door to make sure she was asleep, before entering her hospital room to make his weekly delivery. He'd placed the flowers on the table within her reach, so she would find them when she woke up. He just didn't expect that she would have wakened so soon. Perhaps he could just quietly go...

"Please...come in and talk to me!"

It was the 'please' that did it. That and the broken edge to her voice. Reluctantly, he turned and walked back to her room.

"Do you need the nurse?" he asked at the threshold.

"No, please... I need to talk to you," she pleaded again, with the incongruous dignity of a child.

Aya couldn't help but sigh a little as he entered and sat in the visitor's chair.

"What do you need?" he asked, not wishing to drag out this meeting.

The child turned her blind eyes up toward Aya. "I know you know." Her voice was light as thistledown, with barely enough weight to fall upon his ear. Her expression was curiously blank almost as if she had no substance, like a ghost. "Tell me... How did onii-chan die?"

Though he knew the child couldn't see it, Aya controlled his panic, refusing to let it register on his face. If he maintained his passivity, perhaps his heart would stop pounding so loudly and the blood rushing through his ears would calm as well, allowing him to think about how he would answer such a question.

He had seen her older brother of course. Yamada Jun, who had tried so desperately to pay for Miyu's hospital bills. Jun's debt had soared so high that he had finally resorted to selling himself to a high-stakes casino for their twisted and lethal games of human chess. Jun had been a pawn indeed, unable to muster the blood instinct to rise to the top, slay his opponents, and win the million that was the top prize. He had fallen to the gunshots of his very first opponent.

What weapon had they given him? Aya cast his mind back. He himself had used his katana in his place as a piece of the game of human chess. Of course, he had been no pawn, instead checkmating the master of the game, Masaya Hikage, and stopping the illegal and immoral games of human chess once and for all.

Aya hadn't seen Jun's fight for himself, but he had watched it on Omi's mission tape. Jun had been terrified. Aya didn't blame him, having taken a place in the game himself. Aya realized there was only the finest of differences between himself and Jun. If Aya were not a member of Weiss...

He could have been pushed into the same situation as Jun, defaulting on debts, unable to get more loans, needing to get them to pay the hospital bills of his beloved younger sister and finally, desperately, willing to do anything for anyone who would pay enough to support his sister for even one more day.

He could have been the one who, clutching a sword, had fallen to the cowardly bullets of his first opponent. He could have bled to death on a giant white and black checkered board, as the crowd roared in approval at the gruesome entertainment.

Aya suddenly wondered how it was that Miyu was still here. With no one to pay her high hospital costs, how was she able to stay? Had Jun done something to ensure that his sister would be cared for if he died?

Aya pondered the life he led, taking any job Persia gave him, if it paid enough, to pay for his sister's bills. He'd done dreadful things, seen and inflicted more death than any one person should ever have to bear, and he knew there was no end in sight. That his missions were ultimately just was thin comfort in the dead of night when the memories and dreams of what he'd done and the people he'd killed haunted him. Aya wondered if perhaps of the two of them, Jun had, after all, been the more fortunate one.

But it was Jun's little sister who was his concern now. Aya thought of how best to answer her question. Miyu's medical situation was what drove Jun to such desperate measures, but Aya didn't want the little girl to feel any guilt for that. Lying was not an option however.

"He died..." Miyu's face spasmed just a little, before she firmed her features again. With just that little involuntary muscle twitch to betray her, Miyu showed Aya that, though she asked for his answer, and still needed to hear it, she dreaded what he would say. Aya knew he had to be careful.

"Yamada Jun died with a sword in his hand and love in his heart. I won't say that there wasn't any pain, but his death was quick. He died fighting. It was a death worthy of an honorable man."

Aya didn't want to give her any more detail than that. Miyu didn't need to know that Jun's body had been riddled with bullets or that he was only one of the men who had died on that terrible chessboard that day. It had been an honorable death, fighting for the one he loved. It was not Jun's fault that he didn't have the brutality in him to survive such an evil game.

Miyu tried very hard, Aya watched the struggle on her face, but in the end, she was just a little girl who had lost the only family she had. Though that loss was over a year old, Aya's confirmation of it made it a fresh misery to her. She covered her face with her hands and tried to stifle her sobs.

Aya couldn't bear it. He knew he was too involved, delivering flowers to her room every week, never saying that they were from her brother, but knowing she would believe they were. The dispassionate facade he showed the world, even to his friends in Weiss, was broken by Miyu's grief. He stood up from the chair, sat next to the sobbing girl and took her into his arms.

She turned toward him, buried her face in his chest and wailed. Aya held her and rocked, letting her cry it out, stroking through her hair, trying to let her find some comfort in his touch. A nurse came to the door to see what the commotion was all about. She recognized Aya and hearing for herself how Miyu's weeping was becoming less wild, met Aya's eyes, smiled a slight, sad smile, bowed and left. Aya maintained his gentle rocking until Miyu's sobs had subsided into convulsive hiccups. He gave her a squeeze that was almost a hug and rose.

He wet a washcloth in the sink in the room and used the cool, moist touch of it to clean Miyu's face and help the little girl regain her composure.

"How did you know that he was dead?" Aya asked as he sat down in the chair again.

"Onii-chan had stopped coming to visit me -- it was more than a year ago. I was so sad! I wondered if I had hurt his feelings. I didn't want to eat, the nurses made me though. I didn't want to do anything except talk to my onii-chan, have him come visit me and play with me again."

Aya remembered his first meeting with Miyu, retrieving and returning the ball she was playing with when it got away from her. She'd fainted soon after and that was when Aya had learned about her and her brother Jun from the nurse.

"I remember your voice," Miyu said suddenly. "I thought you were Onii-chan when I first met you."

"Yes, I remember too," Aya told her.

"Onii-chan never visited me again. But there were flowers. He used to bring me flowers once in a while before that, or toys, like the ball. But I didn't want any of that. I just wanted to talk to him. I begged the nurses to wake me up the next time onii-chan came, but they never did. I could hear sadness in their voices. It made me wonder." The little girl broke off, peering with sightless eyes through the dark corridor of her memory.

"I would still get flowers. No one ever said they were from onii-chan. They weren't the same as the flowers he used to bring. There were pretty smells to the new flowers, each time it would be different. And the shapes were different too. Sometimes they would be soft and fuzzy, other times they had long, cool stems -- always different and interesting. Onii-chan always just brought daisies before. So I knew... I knew -- that whoever was bringing me flowers -- wasn't onii-chan anymore."

Miyu sniffled a little.

"But... if someone was bringing me flowers and wanting me to think it was onii-chan -- that person had to know what happened -- and could tell me -- so I would know for sure..." she finished.

"I was afraid to ask. I wanted to go on believing it was onii-chan bringing me flowers still, but I knew..."

"I am sorry," Aya told her. "I am sorry I had to tell you such sad news."

"I needed to know for sure. But..." she hesitated, suddenly very vulnerable again.

"But?" Aya asked gently, leadingly.

"I was afraid to ask too... Because if you knew I knew the truth then you wouldn't bring me flowers any more." Miyu's blind eyes welled with tears again. Aya thought for only a second.

"I can still bring flowers, if you want me to," he offered.

"Really?!" Miyu smiled up toward him bravely, banishing her tears.

"Really!" Aya promised and smiled himself. Really, it would take such little effort on his part to bring her a little happiness.

"Could you... if, I'm awake and you have some time, maybe talk with me once in a while? The nurses are nice, but they are always so busy..." Miyu dared to ask him.

"I think I can manage that," Aya told her. "In fact, next week, should I bring any particular flower? Which one has been your favorite? If you describe how it feels I can probably bring that one to you."

"Oh! There is one flower I would love to get!" Her face animated at the thought. "I always hoped to get this one flower, but it never came. The nurses told me about it. They say it has the best smell and it's the most beautiful flower of them all!"

"Oh? Which flower is that?" Aya asked, wondering what 'the best flower of them all' would be. Probably a rare and expensive orchid.

"A rose. I always hoped for a rose," Miyu whispered.

Aya smiled wryly at that. He had always avoided bringing the blind little girl roses because of the thorns. He'd used fuzzy cattails, soft ferns and smooth lilies for the soft textures and violets, lilac, gardenia and other scented flowers for the fragrances.

"I will bring you a rose next week," Aya told her. "Now, if you are okay, I must go." Aya stood to leave.

Miyu's shoulders slumped a little, but she didn't say anything. Aya could see that she was still terribly sad, about Jun and what Aya had told her about her big brother. His heart went out to the little girl.

It didn't seem too unnatural for him to walk toward her bed again, lean down and give her a quick hug, just like the ones he gave his own little sister.

"I will ask one of the nurses if they can come and talk with you a little," Aya offered as he straightened.

"You smell like flowers," Miyu smiled up toward him suddenly. "All kinds mixed together!" She smiled still but it became a little sad. "I will be okay. You don't have to bother the nurses for me. They are so busy! You won't forget the rose for next week though?" She was slightly anxious.

"No, I will remember," Aya promised.

Miyu relaxed. "Then I will be okay. Until next week, Hana-chan!"

'Hana-chan'?! Aya smiled, almost laughing at the name. It was good that Miyu didn't want to call him 'onii-chan'. Hana-chan -- Mr. Flower. It would be okay. And so would she. Aya would bring a glorious rose for her next week and make sure she was awake so he could 'show' it to her himself. He could take the thorns off, of course, but he thought perhaps he'd leave them on and gently guide her hands on the stem instead, so that she would know they were there and learn how to hold a rose without pricking herself.

He watched from the doorway as Miyu reached toward the flowers he had left for her, touching lightly, feeling the textures he'd picked for her for this week.

"I will see you next week, Miyu-chan, and I will bring you a rose!" Aya promised again as he turned and left.

- end -