AN: Well, when Vero-chan announced a fanfiction contest, I thought 'Why not?', so here is my contribution. I must say that I admire Vero-chan's cunning plot to expand the world of Chrno Crusade fanfiction. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. And there's no need to threaten anyone in the process!
Oh, please don't mind the wood stove. I love those things. I got to work with these big iron wood stoves a few summers ago, and they are awesome. It's a skill that will surely go unused since there is a significant lack of wood stoves these days. But yeah, these stoves have a compartment about half the size of your computer screen to fit logs in, another compartment to bake food, and if you keep the fire going for a while, they generate an insane amount of heat. I once burned myself adding in another log when the stove was at 400 degrees Celsius. It was a lovely second-degree burn that was still burning after having been under running water for two hours. Ah, the joys of wood stoves. Since it fit in to the time period, I couldn't help myself.
Anyways, you must be groaning, "Not another blanket scenario fic!" Yes. Your fears are justified. It's another shameless blanket fic with some shameless cross-border action. What can I say? It's cold here. And there's lots of snow already. I could run outside, throw myself into a snow bank and potentially freeze to death. It serves as inspiration. And New York is only a few hours away from the Canadian border. It's possible that Rosette might have a passport. If not, the Order can forge this kind of stuff, ne? Being a big creepy anti-demonic association and all. Oo
Please read and tell me what you think.
A Storm in a Teacup
By Bat-chan who owns nothing
"It's getting dark out." Chrno observed, his hand rubbing away some snowflakes that had fallen on his cheek.
"Of all the places to send us!" Rosette was walking briskly though her boots sank deeply in the snow, and Chrno found that he had to quicken his pace to keep up with her. "I can't believe they sent us here to look for some demon activity. 'Enjoy the countryside'! There's nothing but trees and snow!" Rosette's steps were becoming faster.
Predicting another explosive tantrum Chrno felt he had to point out, "You're to one who decided to come Rosette. You knew that it would be colder in further to the north, but you accepted the mission."
Rosette glared at him, deciding to walk faster to make it harder for him to keep up. "How was I supposed to know they would send us out in the woods?"
Chrno, now almost jogging to keep up with Rosette's long strides, tightened his scarf, "We could still be at the order if you weren't so quick to please Father Remington."
"Oh, is that jealously Chrno?" Rosette smirked at him. Chrno denied it, but Rosette couldn't help noticing that he looked embarrassed about it. With a laugh she turned and continued to march forward.
However, her mirthful expression soon turned sombre. She knew it was only a matter of time before Chrno noticed her anxiety. They had been walking for hours, and still had a while to go before they reached the next town. Normally, there wouldn't be a problem, but the snow was falling at an alarming rate and the wind was picking up. If they didn't find shelter soon, they would probably be stuck in a storm.
"I thought they might send us to one of the larger cities, not some town in the middle of nowhere. Sister Kate could have also let us take the car instead of making us take the train. Then we wouldn't have had to rely on that contact."
Chrno snorted. "Well, we can't rely on him anymore. It's always spectacular when you loose your temper."
Rosette glared at him. "He brought it on himself! Our contact just had to be some holier-than-thou priest! It wasn't my fault the train was late; he didn't need to yell at me. If Father Remington had come with us instead of waiting for us at the town, I wouldn't have had to put that guy in his place! Who takes two kids travelling alone together seriously?"
Chrno looked hurt. "Would you really rather be with Father Remington?" He asked slowly, "Am I a burden to you?"
Rosette recoiled, struck with guilt. She stopped walking and turned to turned to see Chrno avoiding her gaze. Snow was clinging to his dark lashes, and melting snowflakes were trailing down his face. His breath was coming out in heavy puffs, which were visible because of the cold. Pressing her lips together, Rosette stepped towards Chrno and wrapped her arms around his smaller form.
"I'm sorry." Rosette murmured, barely audible over the wind. "I didn't mean it. You're the only one I want to be with right now. It's my fault anyways. If I hadn't gotten so angry at that priest that met us at the train station, we wouldn't be in this mess. I'm so sorry."
Chrno was silent but gave a small nod.
"I should have listened to you." Rosette began, still holding Chrno, but more to comfort herself now, "I take you for granted often don't I? You're always by my side… sometimes I don't know where I end and you begin. You're always so strong for me Chrno."
Chrno shook his head. "I couldn't help you that time…"
"It doesn't matter. One day we'll find him." Rosette stated, her tone leaving no room for argument. "But right now, we're stuck in the middle of nowhere, miles away from civilisation. The town we're heading towards is still miles away. I don't think we'll make it before nightfall."
"Why didn't you tell me you were worried?" Chrno asked softly.
"Because then you would worry too. Besides, there's not much we can do but walk." Rosette replied.
They had been walking along a dirt road somewhere in the mountains for most of the day now. The Order had been informed that there had been some demonic activity in the mountainous region several miles north of New York state, and though they were sceptical at first, they decided to send a group of exorcists across the border to investigate. Rosette had seen an opportunity to do something other than sit at the Order doing nothing and had promptly volunteered, despite Chrno's pointed remarks that she was always rushing into things.
Days before they were scheduled to leave, the two girls who were supposed to accompany them were conveniently injured. None of Rosette's accusations, that the girls had faked their injuries because they heard that they might be facing a soul-stealing demon, were taken seriously. Father Remington had just smiled at her and handed her two train tickets, telling her to behave and not be too rough with Chrno, he wanted them in one piece when they got there. He would meet them at the town where the demon was sighted.
The train ride had been impossibly long and though she had gotten a few hours of sleep in, she couldn't help but feel that something was missing. She had stared out the window at the countryside, unaware that Chrno was silently gazing at her. The snow had just started falling as they stepped off of the massive steam powered locomotive.
They had arrived at the train station two hours later than scheduled. Their contact, a young priest, had been unfortunate enough to complain rather vocally about their tardiness and had to be sent to the hospital.
Without their contact to drive them to the town where the demon had been sighted, Rosette and Chrno were forced to rely on their own resources. They had hitchhiked their way out of town and into the mountainous countryside, but their driver had dropped them off miles away from their destination, saying that going any further would put him too far out of his way.
So here they were: cold, tired, and about to be stuck in a snowstorm.
"I could fly us there." Chrno suggested. He had stepped out of Rosette's embrace and was slightly flushed. Rosette couldn't tell if he was blushing or if the cold was getting to him too.
Rosette shook her head. "It's not worth it. We can keep walking. There must be a house somewhere along the way. We can stop there."
Chrno gave a small smile and let her take his hand. Rosette walked headlong into the now icy wind, leading the smaller boy. When she was younger, she used to let him lead her around a bit, but now, he noticed that he was always the one following her. There were times when he felt as though he was just hindering her, but he couldn't stop trailing after her. He had to stay by her side, if only to watch her back.
"I think I see something!" Rosette cried out, pointing into the distance. Chrno could barely see anything, there was too much snow falling. The whole world looked white.
"Where is it?" Chrno asked, once again struggling to keep up with Rosette's quickening pace.
"It's just a little higher up the hill, hurry up!" Rosette replied, dragging Chrno off of the snow-covered road and into the waist high snow bank.
"There's no path cleared in the snow, I don't think anyone lives there Rosette. We should stay on the road, we'll freeze if we go through the snow." Chrno protested, but was barely heard over the raging wind. Besides, Rosette was ignoring him. Seeing that they were already halfway there, she wasn't turning back. Not when there was the possibility of shelter from this storm.
"I think you're right, it looks abandoned." Rosette said once they had reached the door. It wasn't really a house, it was more like a shack, or a cabin. There were boards covering up the windows and it looked rather worn, but at the same time it looked almost cozy. But then again, anything with a roof is appealing when you've been walking in the snow for several hours.
Rosette knocked on the door, not really expecting anyone to answer.
"Hello?" She called out as she opened the door. The door creaked but other than that, everything was silent. Dust hung suspended in the air as thin particles as they entered the cabin. There was a huge pile of dry wood and kindling in the corner near a wood stove. Other than the wood, there was a trunk in another corner, and several candles on a window ledge.
"It looks like a summer cabin." Chrno murmured. "We got lucky, this cabin has enough wood to keep us warm for the night. I'll start a fire, could you open that trunk Rosette? There might be something useful in it."
Rosette nodded, watching silently as Chrno took the ammunition case off his back and put some dry wood in the stove. There was even a box of dry kindling, so Chrno stuffed the small oven compartment with kindling in strategic places so that the log would catch fire.
"I hope there are some matches in that trunk." Rosette grumbled. She crouched down next to the trunk and fingered the lock. "The lock looks pretty solid. Do you see a key anywhere?"
Chrno shook dirt off his hands. "No, whoever owns this cabin must have taken it with them."
"I guess it'll have to be opened the hard way then." Rosette pulled out an ice-cold gun and shot the lock off the trunk.
"That was the hard way?" Chrno asked disbelievingly, almost laughing.
Rosette sent him a dark look that informed him that the only reason he wasn't being hit for that remark was that he was across the room. She took off the broken lock, smiling, proud that her aim was so accurate. The trunk opened easily, and she started probing it for its contents.
She threw out a blanket, and found a small box of tinder at the bottom. She threw it at Chrno's head, hoping to catch him unaware, but he caught it deftly.
Chrno lit the fire and blew on it softly, stepping back and taking off his wet jacket when the fire kindled.
"It's already warmer than it was. We should take off our wet clothes if we don't want to catch anything." Chrno noted, "Was there anything else we could use in the trunk?"
"Only a blanket." Rosette replied, taking a seat next to the iron stove. She took off her outer layer of clothes and threw them in a pile, along with her boots. "I'm freezing! We'll never get warm!"
Chrno also took off his boots, frowning when a small trickle of water came out of them. He placed them near the stove and did the same for Rosette's boots. He then took off his outer layer of clothing, shivering slightly when the cold hit his body full force. He threw the frozen articles of clothing into the pile with Rosette's clothes.
"You should take off your habit Rosette, your skirt is soaked." Chrno suggested with as even a tone as he could manage.
Rosette stared at him, looking to see if he had any ulterior motives for making such a suggestion. Chrno didn't even flinch. He simply gave her a weak smile and added another log to the fire to the now raging fire. Rosette shook her head. She had been spending too much time around Elder. Chrno didn't think like that, he was just concerned about her health. She took off her skirt and cast it into the pile, along with the top of her habit. Luckily, she was wearing several layers, and her blouse seemed dry enough. She wrapped the blanket around her shoulders, shivering.
Chrno had finished putting as many logs as he could into the stove and sat down on the wooden floor next to Rosette. Already the shack seemed to be getting warmer, and in a few hours, they wouldn't have to worry about hypothermia. He thought about asking Rosette again to let him fly them to the town but decided against it. The winds were too strong and Rosette didn't want to release the seal. It bothered him that there was nothing he could do to help them.
Chrno was disturbed from his musings by having part of the blanket draped on his shoulders. He blinked, surprised and turned to Rosette who was giving him a small smile.
"The blanket is big enough for the both of us, and we'll be warmer if we stay close together." Rosette stated, moving closer to Chrno and wrapping her arm around him.
Chrno nodded, and leaned onto Rosette's shoulder. "We can wait until the room warms up and then go to sleep."
Rosette made a small sound of agreement. Both sat curled up against each other, savouring the growing warmth. They left the embrace only to add more logs to the oven when the fire needed it. The silence was only broken by the howl of the wind hitting the boarded up windows, and the crackling of the flames. Normally Rosette would have found that silence oppressive, but with Chrno it was different.
Rosette idly played with some of his hair, still humid from their earlier trek. Although Chrno looked like a child, 'And sometimes acts like one too,' Rosette added irately, Chrno was still older than her and had a reassuring presence.
"Chrno?" Rosette asked, eliciting a soft hum as a response. "How old are you?"
Chrno lifted his head from Rosette's shoulder. Everything felt heavy, and now that the fire was generating heat, he was starting to feel drowsy. Chrno gave a small yawn, making his canines a little more visible.
"I don't know." He answered honestly before lying down on the hard floor.
"Couldn't you take a guess?" Rosette pressed.
Chrno curled up, using his arm as a pillow. "I spent three years with you, and then I slept for fifty years. But I don't think I would really count those fifty years since I didn't really change at all during that time. Then there's the time I spent…"
Chrno trailed off, seemingly lost in a memory. Rosette said nothing, giving him the time to continue if he wanted to.
"Hm." Chrno murmured softly, "There was that time, and the time I spent in Pandemonium. Time isn't as important in Pandemonium as it is here, so I can't tell you how long I spent there. Time is relative after all, isn't it? All I can say is that I'm considered still rather young for demons, but for humans I'd be impossibly old. Maybe I'm a hundred years old, or even two hundred, I'm not sure."
Rosette nodded, stunned a little by that information. She had never really thought about Chrno's age before now. It was true that just those fifty years made him older than Father Remington… or maybe even Elder. But he was always kind with her, never talking down to her.
Sure, he reprimanded her all the time, but it was always delivered in a teasing tone, and he sometimes even fought back when she hit him. He was so gentle, always listening to her, always silently supporting her…
Chrno wasn't a child. But Rosette couldn't think of him as an adult either. It was easier to see that he was more mature than her when he was in his demon form.
Now that she thought about it, he was very serious when they first found him. His smiles didn't come as easily then, and they often didn't reach his eyes, which had a haunted look. But now…to her, it seemed that he was becoming increasingly childish, as though he fed off her laughter. She smiled.
"It's strange, isn't it? Age doesn't really seem to matter with you." Rosette lay down on the floor next to Chrno and wrapped the blanket tightly around both of them. Their noses were so close that they were almost touching.
Chrno let out another yawn, "Time and age don't matter as much to demons. But it's different now."
Rosette looked at his crimson eyes, barely visible under his drooping eyelids. "Why is it different now?"
"I don't know. Maybe it's because I feel that I'm growing with you." Chrno replied sleepily.
"But you haven't changed." Rosette pointed out, looking at his small hand, curled into a fist.
"No, I guess I haven't." Chrno murmured. "But that's just how I feel."
Rosette looked at him silently. Chrno wasn't different at all. Only his clothing had changed. His gaze was still gentle, only becoming fierce when provoked. Chrno seemed to live outside of time. In a way, Rosette envied him.
"I wonder if Joshua has changed." Rosette asked softly. This was why she hated doing nothing. Because if she didn't have anything to keep her mind occupied, it would inevitably turn back to him.
Chrno reached out his hand to cup her check as he pressed his forehead against hers. "I'm sure that no matter how much you both change, you'll recognize each other. We'll find him Rosette. We can't do anything about Joshua yet, so try to sleep."
"I know, it's just that…" Rosette murmured, "Joshua would love this kind of situation. If he were stuck in the woods during a snowstorm, he would know exactly what to do. He would have read all about it. He would have loved to go on an adventure like this. I wish he was here with us Chrno."
Chrno just held her tightly until she fell asleep, saying nothing. He closed his eyes and tried to sleep, but his mind was unsettled. If Rosette and Joshua had never met him, could they have avoided their present fate?
'No. Maybe the Order would have taken Joshua away from Rosette, but either way, Aion would have still taken Joshua. Nothing can be done about the past.' Chrno thought sadly.
He soon drifted to sleep along with Rosette, curled tightly against her form. They both slept through the storm, wrapped around each other in an unconscious effort to stay warm. Chrno didn't wake up until morning. Sunlight was barely visible through the boarded up windows.
Somehow, during the night, they both had changed positions, so now Chrno was draped over Rosette, his head in the crook of her neck. He blinked sleepily, but didn't move. For a few moments, he simply savoured being so close to Rosette. Even though they were always together, close embraces like this were rare. Normally one of them would pull away in embarrassment.
It was easier to wake a brick than to wake up Rosette in the morning, so Chrno knew he wouldn't get caught. Carefully, he leaned forward and kissed her cheek.
"Good morning Rosette." He murmured softly, relishing not having gotten hit for such an openly affectionate gesture. He got up slowly and wrapped the blanket tightly around her still form. With a yawn, he opened the iron door of the stove to put in a bit more wood. Embers were still burning, so as soon as another log was put in, the dry wood caught fire almost immediately. Once that log had finished burning, it would be time to go.
He then went to the pile of clothes and spread them out near the stove to make the drying process easier. Their boots, having spent the night next to the huge wood stove, were completely dry. Chrno walked over to the window and took one of the candles, lit it and set it down near their ammunition case.
He glanced at the telephone that was attached to the case and considered calling Father Remington. The storm was over, so their phone line should be working now. But the more he thought about it, the less attractive the idea was. Father Remington would probably send someone to pick them up, and Chrno wasn't sure that he wanted this to end yet. Rosette spent so much of her time training, or on missions. Sometimes he was with her, but all too often he wasn't. It was nice, to be away from the Order. Even though they often went to the lake that reminded Rosette of where they had met, their time there was brief, and Rosette was always called back for something.
'No, I wont phone them.' Chrno decided. 'We're fine on our own.'
He sat down next to the still sleeping form of Rosette. He wondered if he should wake her up. Normally he wouldn't have any qualms about kicking her out of bed since she did the same to him, but today was different.
Just for today, they were alone.
Eventually they would go to the town and meet Father Remington there. Inevitably, Rosette would cause a spectacular amount of damages and would have to write a report when they got back to the Order. She was probably already in trouble for sending that priest to the hospital.
Chrno laughed to himself. There was no way they would have a chance to be alone like this for quite a while with all the reports Rosette would have to write. He brushed a lock of hair away from her cheek, rolling his eyes when he noticed she was drooling.
"Rosette… Rosette, wake up." He shook her shoulder gently. She just swatted his hand away and turned over. Annoyed, and knowing from experience that it would be impossible to wake her up without doing something drastic, Chrno leaned over her, placing his hands on either side of her head and brought his mouth to her ear.
He was about to yell in her ear when Rosette's eyes snapped open and she moved. Surprised, Chrno lost his balance and fell forward into her. He ended up with his face buried in her hair again… except this time she was awake.
Rosette must have been very surprised, because for a moment she was absolutely still. Chrno closed his eyes, waiting for the blows to come.
"Chrno. What are you doing?" Rosette asked slowly. Chrno scrambled to get up, and managed to bring himself to a kneeling position next to her.
"Err… waking you up?" Chrno laughed nervously.
"Oh?" The simple word sounded terribly dangerous to Chrno. "So you weren't about to kiss me?"
"What? No!" Chrno cried out, flustered. He had turned an unhealthy shade of red.
"Good, because if you had tried to steal a kiss from me, I would have to kill you." Rosette stated simply, pushing away the blanket. She headed to the clothes that Chrno had spread out earlier and started putting on her now dry habit.
"I wasn't about to kiss you! Why would I do something like that?" Chrno protested but soon remembered that had in fact, stolen a kiss from her earlier while she was sleeping. But it wasn't anything like what she was suggesting. It was just on her cheek, it meant nothing. Right?
"So what were you doing?" Rosette asked, her voice dark, "Were you about to yell right in my face?"
Chrno laughed nervously, "Yes?"
He was rewarded with a blow that made his head ring for that answer.
"You might want to come up with a way of waking me up that doesn't require being near my face. You'll have to expect revenge." Rosette smirked. She put on her coat and headed towards the door.
Chrno looked at her quizzically, wondering why she hadn't reacted more violently. Falling on her like that would normally earn him a beating that would make him sore for hours. This kind of behaviour simply wasn't Rosette.
It occurred to him briefly that she hadn't forbidden him from kissing her, she had threatened to kill him if he kissed her without her knowledge. He became flushed again. Did that mean she didn't mind him kissing her? Or had she been awake when he had stolen that kiss?
"What are you thinking about Chrno, you're blushing." Rosette asked in a singsong voice.
"Nothing! Let's go!" Chrno exclaimed, face still red. Rosette laughed and swatted him playfully upside the head. The blow was painful, but there wasn't any malice behind it.
Chrno quickly put the remaining embers in a metal bucket and set it down on the stone floor, which surrounded the stove. He quickly put on his red coat, and put on his now dry winter jacket. Extinguishing the candle and placing it back on the windowsill, Chrno picked up the ammunition case and met Rosette at the door.
"What took you so long? I thought I was going to fall asleep again." Rosette commented.
Chrno shot her a glare. "You could have helped, then it would have gone faster."
"You seemed to be handling it just fine. Or did you need help to put your clothes back on?" Rosette asked, stepping out in to the snow.
"That's not what I meant and you know it!" Chrno muttered.
Rosette laughed as she made her way back to the road. Chrno settled in to his usual place, a few paces behind her. Everything seemed like it was back to normal all of a sudden. Neither of them said anything, but it felt awkward to go back to fighting demons after having spent such a peaceful evening.
Rosette glanced back at Chrno who had an almost sad expression on his face. She turned back quickly before he noticed she was staring. She couldn't help feeling slightly depressed also. Neither wanted to admit it, but both longed for a day when they could spend time alone with each other, or go on adventures without having to worry about demons.
Everything seemed so unclear, and their feelings for each other were like milk being poured into a teacup… stormy and always changing. Being with each other was like being in that storm. Everything was constantly changing, moving rapidly. They were always learning about each other, and despite the apparent turbulence of their relationship, they were also in perfect harmony.
Going on an adventure without worrying about the future seemed like an impossible dream for now, but maybe, one day, they would be able to put their search behind them and look forward to the day when the storm would settle.
Please take the time to review. It makes me happy.