Wow this... took a while. I dunno where I went honestly, it was a struggle to actually get this done back when I was actively working on Mortem and Meliora. But I wanted to get it done now, and here it is! The final chapter of Ad Mortem and a little bit of insight into Meliora. Sorry for the wait and thanks for sticking around, everyone!


48 - Phase Three

"?" , 17, Runner Up of the 4th Quell

Who are you?

The hand mirror is heavy in his hands. The metal of the handle is cold, nips at his skin like frostbite. The face that stares back at him mimics his movements, but it's not his.

Doctors and nurses come and go. They dose him with medicine, check his throat, change his bandages. Horace Becskei comes and goes. He tells him what's happening outside the hospital walls, the names of his family, tries to make small talk. Malvolia Nero, confined to a wheelchair and silent all the while, comes and goes. She never says a word to him, never does anything other than stare.

The amusement he'd seen on her face when he'd outed himself as a fraud—it's long gone, replaced with a longing for answers.

He wishes he had some.

He wishes he knows who he is.

The Quell has come to an official close. Calico Hemingway—the boy he used to be, he thinks—is declared dead. Calico Hemingway is refused burial. Calico Hemingway cannot even be seen by his family. The Victors have returned home. Morganite Gardierre apparently talks regularly with Horace. Gossamer Wormwood apparently talks as well. Both of them apparently still hate each other.

Hate? He's not sure if it's hate. He knows there's animosity, mutual at the very least, but he doesn't know if both of them hate each other.

He turns his head to the side. The cheekbones are different. Did they change the colour of his eyes? He can't tell.

He can't remember what Chambray is supposed to look like.

So who is he now?

Who are you? the face in the mirror asks him again.

He cycles through the names in his head. Names he's heard spoken near him, names he thinks could've been in reference to him, names that Horace has spoken in his attempts at small talk. None of them feel right. None of them are him.

Wrong. They're all wrong.

He drops the hand mirror onto his lap. He can't put a name to the face he wears that feels right. He can't even think of a name that he'd want, a name that he knows is him. Not just the person in the mirror. He leans back against his pillows, propping him up to face the door, and he breathes long and slow through his nose.

It feels nice to be able to breathe on his own. They'd intubated him after the surgery on his face, since he'd refused to breathe on his own and had even tried to gag himself when they uncuffed him. But now that he's free to breathe on his own, it feels worlds better from being forced. It doesn't hurt, doesn't feel like he's about to burst. The pain of still being alive was dulled in comparison to the pain of being forced to live—doing it of his own volition, for the time being, wasn't as agonising. As invasive.

The door to his room opens. It's a nurse, coming by to check his chart. She asks the person who's meant to be in this bed how they feel. He just blinks and nods to her, pretends his throat still hurts too much to talk. Being corrected all the time with names that just don't sit with him right gets tiresome. She nods back, smiles, and leans around the doorway. A visitor, he wonders? Almost as soon as she leaves the room, gesturing for the visitor to enter, Horace walks in and blocks the doorway from view.

"How are you feeling?" he asks, and he keeps his stature as wide as possible. The man's deliberately blocking his view outside.

He just blinks at Horace. Horace blinks back.

"Well enough for a surprise?" Horace goes on. He narrows his eyes at the man, and it hurts to pull such an expression. He's long since healed from his surgery, but his nurses always say he hasn't exercised his facial muscles enough. "I'll take that as a maybe. Come in, you two."

Two pairs of footsteps wander inside, and before he can see who it is Horace adds, "Shut the door behind you. This'll be delicate."

He sees a flash of pink hair as the door slides shut. His heart leaps into his throat, the memory of his one chance at death—at release—flashing through his mind. Even trapped beneath all that rubble, with that mask stuck to his face, he'd been so full of hope. So ready to die.

And Horace dangles this fact in front of him, allowing for Morganite Gardierre to walk past and stare at him like she's seen a ghost. She blocks the path of someone else, some golden and tall, but he can't stop staring at Morganite just yet. He can't stop watching her as, for the briefest of moments, the hospital room he has all to himself shifts and crumbles into the desolate city caked in dust and blood.

She hiccups slightly, like she recognises him, and for a moment he swears she whispers, "I'm so sorry."

He knows.

She looks as tired as he feels. His shoulders slump a little more, and his energy just rolls out of him in waves the longer he stares. The longer he realises that Morganite, his one chance at escape, will have to live with not being able to kill him in time. She doesn't deserve that. She didn't do anything to deserve that, not like he did.

"Is this a joke?"

The form behind her bursts forward. Carefully manicured hands grab at Horace's collar, pulling him close to a snarling face.

"I'm certainly not laughing, am I?" Horace deadpans. Morganite finally looks away from him, distressed, and pries the two apart. The gold hair that flies about as he pulls the younger away, arms hooked under his own, reminds him of…

Of…

Of Chambray's mother's dresses.

"What's going on, Mr. Becskei?" Morganite grunts. She pulls Gossamer to a nearby chair and, unkindly, shoves him onto it. "You said Calico died!"

Calico did die. He's not Calico. Calling him Calico is wrong.

But calling him what Horace tells them to is also wrong. His eyes wander to the hand mirror in his lap. Who are you?

"Officially," Horace corrects her. Both she and Gossamer tense up. "But after the attack on the Gamemakers, the President, and the blame for rebellion being placed on his family, I had to keep him alive. I need to know how to prevent incidents like this again."

Gossamer opens his mouth to protest. Horace stops him.

"Malvolia approved and even backed the idea. The arrest being televised, even if by accident, was a disaster that everyone involved with the Games needs to prevent." He shifts on his feet and fixes his collar. "Who better to help with that than the unknowing martyr himself?"

"He's not a martyr," Gossamer snaps. Morganite is strangely quiet.

"Tell that to the sympathisers in Eight," Horace scoffs.

Why are they discussing this in front of him? He doesn't want to hear about the Games and the actions of those in Chambray's home. It has nothing to do with him.

Morganite heaves a sigh. She looks at him, at Horace, at Gossamer.

"Why tell us?" she says, voice weak. She sounds so exhausted, just like he feels from the sight of her. They both can't fix what the Games had decided for them.

"Reporters are going to look into my life once I'm officially announced Interim President. They'll find out I had a son—but they won't find out that son's been missing for three years now. They'll find out he was reclusive and sickly, and they'll find out he's recently been admitted to hospital because of bronchitis. And when they find out, I'd rather the two of you enforce that this young man here—" Horace gestures to him, and his heart lurches into his throat. "—is my son, Calla, rather than accidentally blow his cover and have him lynched for not knowing better."

That's the wrong name. He shakes his head a fraction, only to stop when he notices Morganite's gaze trapping him on the spot.

"Did he consent to this?" asks Morganite.

"Do we get to make conditions?" asks Gossamer.

Horace evades both questions with little tact, because they all know the answer: No. "He's going to be overwhelmed by press when they release him, so I want one of you by his side when he's not at home with me."

He doesn't know who interrupts Horace, who starts to say, "Shouldn't you be asking Calico—Calla—whoever what he thinks of this?" But he interrupts them in turn, the word tumbling from his lips without even a thought to spare.

"Callie."

All eyes are on him, but it's easy to ignore them. He's looking down at the hand mirror with wide eyes, his mind set alight like the night sky and its stars. Brighter and brighter, a galaxy slowly emerging from the smog and pollution that previously clouded his mind.

Who are you? the face in the hand mirror asks.

"I'm Callie," he finally answers without a shred of hesitation.

There's an almost smug look on Gossamer's face when he finally looks up. Like he's just been proven right about something Horace can't possibly disagree with anymore.

Gossamer leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees, and exchanges an almost victorious glance with Morganite. "I think we do get to make some conditions."

"And I think those conditions might decide whether or not all three of us play along," Morganite agrees.

Horace is silent for a moment. His face is blank, unreadable. He has no tells, no nervous ticks that give away his thoughts. He doesn't even break into a sweat.

He just turns for a nearby dresser, pulls out a notepad, and sets it down gently at the foot of the bed. The only thing that betrays his frustration, his defeat, is the exhaustion in his voice as he says, "Name them and I'll sign to them."


Conditions of Compliance with the Calla Becskei Scheme

1) Calla Becskei, hereon referred to as Callie, is allowed to be referred to in public as Callie.

2) In exchange for being placed in the Gamemaking team, Callie is permitted any field of his choosing to pursue. Should a field not exist, it will be specially made just for him.

3) Gossamer Wormwood and Morganite Gardierre are permitted to stay at the Becskei residence for Callie's wellbeing whenever they wish.

4) Callie is permitted to stay in the homes of Morganite Gardierre and Gossamer Wormwood, away from Horace Becskei's supervision, whenever and for however long he needs.

5) Visits to Chambray Hemingway's cell in the Capitol, unaccompanied by Peacekeepers, is permitted to Morganite Gardierre and Gossamer Wormwood for purposes of welfare checks.

5A) Callie is not permitted to attend these visits, but video evidence of Chambray Hemingway's welfare is to be distributed to Callie following all visits.

5B) Chambray Hemingway is not permitted to know of Callie's survival, nor are Morganite Gardierre or Gossamer Wormwood allowed to pass on messages on Callie's behalf.

6) Should Callie be discovered as Calico Hemingway, he is to be immediately placed in detainment with Chambray and pronounced dead to the public, with a muttation provided as evidence. Whatever punishment the twins suffer, they will not suffer it alone.


Well here we are! You might notice that Ad Aeturnum is gone, and that's because Mortem and Meliora are going to be a standalone pair of SYOTs. My main universe is going to be the one shown in Paradise Lost, and all subsequent fics, which I hope you'll all understand! I wasn't satisfied with the way I built Ad Mortem and Ad Meliora's world, and the direction I plan to take Paradise Lost is something I think I can pull off better than this one. Meliora is still going on, but won't be updated as frequently as Paradise Lost - again I hope you all understand and thank you for sticking around this long!