Slaughtered Roses

By L. Hiiragizawa

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Disclaimer:                Ayashi no Ceres is owned by the great Watase Yuu. I am just a mere fangirl who resorts to fanfiction to fulfill her weirdest desires. Plagiarism is a no-no. You won't like to see me burn in fury. ^^

Notes:                        First Ayashi no Ceres fic so please be kind. Heavy angst ahead. 

For:                             Eleezyienne and Refe-chan. Pardon the madness enclosed.

                             Season's Greetings.

~*~

          Shattered was the night: the stars, not as bright as they were, shone their way through the vastness of black and gray. Like fragile glass, it crumbled: leaving nothing concrete, leaving nothing useful. It crumbled in the sense that the dying trinkets of silver blended almost with the grayness. It shattered in the sense that the heavens above seemed to moan in despair.

          It was during nights like this that people drown in their subconscious. It was during nights like this that one could feel pain.

          Beneath her boots, dry leaves crackled against cemented grounds. She pulled her jacket closer in an attempt to shy away from the freezing chill of the winter wind bidding its way through.

          In her hand's tight grasp, were roses. Roses of blood red that were too blinding, it hurt the eyes of the beholder who seeks their beauty during broad daylight. But tonight had no sun, nor did the moon peek out from the forbidding night sky. Her eyes had noticed the mournful essence of nature, as if it joined her despair.

          For a moment, she stopped and heaved a sigh before continuing to meet a muddy path that led to an entrance. The earth was damp of the afternoon drizzle and the woman was sure that anytime, rain would fall from above. Perhaps, to blend with her own.

          She continued walking, aware of the loneliness. No sane man would visit at such an ungodly hour in an eerie and fearful place.

But Mikage Aya was different. Far different from any mortal alive.

She knew she had been special since the dreadful birthday she spent with her twin brother, Aki, in her grandfather's house. She knew she had been special when she knew she harbored Ceres in her blood. She knew she had been special when she met him atop the tree, and kissed her to her great surprise.

          Aya shook her head to keep the memories from flooding back. Remembering her happiest moments along with the tragedies caused her chest to tighten and her eyes to shake. Allowing them to consume her would allow tiny droplets to trickle down and create grief—something she wanted to avoid because he never willed for anything but to see her smile.

          Aya stopped as her gaze found her destination. She knelt down, the mud soiling her dress, and placed two of her offerings beside the stone that rose in level with her knees. The rest of the roses were still tightly clutched in her hands and the lantern she brought with her was just beside the gravestone, allowing her to see the inscriptions that were marked deep down the marble. Upon seeing his name, she smiled painfully.

"It's been two months Tooya," she whispered, setting her hand on the cold stone, the chill running up her body.

"And I would like to let you know that this will be the first time your family shall spend Christmas without you." From the grave, her eyes traveled up, fixing her stare at a slightly glowing star.

"Remember when I first told you how those tiny little things fascinate me? You just gave a smile in reply. No words. Still as silent as you were. But I knew you understood me dearly. I knew you hadn't meant just to smile."

In response, silence ensued. Nothing could be heard but the hooting of the owl and the sounds the leaves carried by the wind as it gently blew them father from a pile of wilted brown.

Aya felt the tears forming beneath her long lashes but she restrained it and continued:

"You once told our child that whenever she would feel lonely, the stars would bring consolation and comfort. Silly Tooya! You made her think you are now one of them. She would wake in the middle of the night to stare up and wait."

A short giggle and quietness enclosed the mood once more.

"Remember the time when I woke you up when I felt that it was time for her to breathe the air outside my womb? You stumbled and gathered my clothing with a huge grin that I couldn't forget the twist of your lips when you made that. I seldom see you grin, that's why."

"I don't know, Tooya, what I liked in you the most. You were too passive and unfeeling that sometimes; I felt that I couldn't lay a finger on you. I was afraid that you would shout at me or even drive me away," she stopped and brushed her hair away from her face.

"But then, I loved you and I know you love me too."

It was then that the wind became fiercer, its ice-cold, glacier-like whipped her face. And slowly, as she reviewed what she had said, tears bade its way down to her cheeks till the tiny droplets settled under her chin and into the ground, hoping her grief would be sent to the buried corpse below.

Her chest twisted and her breathing ragged. Her weeping made her hands touch the muddy earth, which she grasped in an attempt to release the piled up hurt that surged from within.

"And you were so unfair. Life became too unfair. I never wished that I had the tennyo blood in my veins that turned my world upside down. I wished I were normal, like others who seem to enjoy their lives everyday."

The thorns of the roses in her other hand pricked into her skin, drawing droplets of blood out of the pale fingers that used to touch her beloved. But her beloved was gone; vanished from existence and never to be seen.

"I wish…" her voice trailed off with the howling wind and she pricked herself further with the sharp ends of what seemed too innocent and harmless.

"I wish that you never died. That you would be with me this Christmas. That you would hug your daughter who at her young age had been asking questions: 'Where is daddy, mommy?' 'Why do my friends have daddies and I do not?' 'Shall daddy fall from the heavens like a falling star?' I don't know what to reply, Tooya. I don't know."

Nothing seemed audible around except her quivering voice that spoke to the nothingness. Aya had been reminded that it was futile to weep over somebody who left mortality and is buried deep down, below the muddy exterior of the cemetery. But she continued to visit and talk to him, like a girl jotting down her life moments in a secret diary.

Yuuhi didn't know of her nightly ritual. Or maybe he secretly knew…

"Aya…"

A voice came from behind that startled her. He mustn't be there, she thought. All along she kept it from him, telling lies and more lies everyday to mask up the excruciating pain of loss. Recovery came in an open parcel but she refused to accept the breaking events. He, after all, is irreplaceable. And she loved no one but he.

"I never told you to follow, Yuuhi. Leave me alone for a while."

But instead of hearing retreating steps, she sensed him coming close.

"Aya, why can't you even forget?"

His voice rang to her consciousness and created a wave of mystery in her head.

Why couldn't I forget?

"It had been two months, Aya. And I know of your secret escapades. You would pick the roses in the garden and tend them dearly that they may grow once more without me noticing," he said.

"But I noticed it, Aya. The roses, the missing cloak in your closet during midnight, the nightly creaks of the bedroom door…all of them, I secretly watched and hoped to stop."

She shivered and closed her eyes in guilt.

"You never stopped, didn't you? I know that till this very moment, you never loved me but him. Still him. Even his memory haunted you that you forgot to love the people around who love you dear."

A new rose had joined the other two that lay beside the grave and she turned to face him.

"You forgot me, Aya. You forgot me."

She saw him turn his back on her and took a few steps away. She never meant to hurt him by forcing to yank the remaining love she felt for Tooya. Feelings, after all, are not taken away by force. They gradually wither away with the ticking of the clock's minute hand and die like the leaves in the fall. She hopes Yuuhi understood, although she convinced herself that he did.

The fierce, icicle-like hymn of the air let out a wail, its howl echoing the tension around. Its howl was frightening and sad at the same time, causing two lone figures in the middle of the dark to remain still in their positions: the woman, with fingers caked with dry blood and a warrior who lost a battle with a ghost whose spirit continues to loiter around his battle place.

"The clock is about to strike three in the morning. You might want to consider going home to your child and warm up. Your face is turning ghastly pale."

More retreating steps were heard before a feminine voice filled the quiet place. The tone had tinges of guilt coming out from every word spoken:

"Before you leave Yuuhi, I want you to know that I love you so much. Maybe, I will learn to stand up to the truth someday."

Yuuhi forced a smile before heading towards the slightly ajar gate. His hand came in contact with the rusty handle and he glanced back at her before closing the enormous worn-out metal. His feet ached to go home and rest while part of his mind wanted to wallow in his heart's heaviness. He will go home to the place he shares with the woman he loves. He will go home to where a little girl lies in bed. He will ho home to the haven he foresees a family, including him, her and the little child, who he accepted as his own. He will go home without her. Without her because she considers her first love as the one she is home to and not he.

With feet burdened with all the feelings he kept inside, he headed straight for home while the woman watched his every step before his whole form disappeared in the mass of black. Her eyes turned back into the grave and stood up only to feel the tears falling slowly from her soulless eyes.

"I don't know what to do Tooya. I don't know why I still continue to live in your memory when Yuuhi is here with me. I guess…" she paused with quivering lips, hearing her own voice reach what seemed like an endless place.

"I guess this is farewell then, Tooya."

The droplets from her eyes continuously fell while from above her head, the sky burst out in agony.

Tears blended with rain that washed away the dried up blood and blood mixed itself with the redness of the wilted roses upon the grave.

"I love you."

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Slaughtered were the roses

Lying limp on the grave.

Slaughtered was the love

Two beings once gave.

And as he kissed her farewell,

Despair she became.

Slaughtered was she, like the roses,

Murdered under the rain.

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AN:      This is my VERY first Ayashi No Ceres fic so please be gentle, eh? This fic is set years after the last episode and I KNOW that this is waaaay too angsty. But angst is expected after Tooya's death, right?

          *crosses fingers* I hope this turned out okay.