WARNING: I do not own Sorcerer/Bakuretsu Hunters. All facets belong to Satoru Akahori and inolved parties. I am using these characters without permission, and make no profit from these venture.
He knelt in the shade of the solemn apple tree. The sunlight reflected off the multitude of small, white blossoms that caused the slender branches to droop with their weight. The small green fruits would soon grow larger and ripen.
He could still recall taking his children to the grave site to honour their mother. His younger son would kneel and pray with him, but his elder boy would show interest in nothing beyond the state of the tree's fruit. He had decided long ago not to scold the child for his irreverence. He saw it, whether he was right or not, as the boy's own way of dealing with her death. He would not pray as his brother did, but, then, he never prayed. He showed his interest by pretending that he didn't ache like the rest of her survivors. As he climbed the tree and examined it, he would always sneak glances at his siblings' down turned heads.
His two daughters would always kneel for a little while, before getting up to be distracted by their brother. He had never made the girls come, as he had forced his sons, because they owed no genealogical allegiance to the dead woman. Despite the fact that they had been adopted, the two small sisters always came with their father to the grave site.
He had often wondered what his younger son thought of when he prayed. He didn't dare ask. It would not be seemly to ask anyone about the deepest workings of their hearts. But, he noted with a twinge of guilt, he had never himself been able to compose decent prayers during those late afternoon visits to the cemetery. He had the impression that his light-skinned son was capable of making these prayers.
Instead, during these funereal visits, he let his mind wander in a rather meditative way. He looked back on the memories he had of his beloved wife. He recalled the sisters' adoption, the births of his two sons, his marriage, even the battle that had ended her life. He would muse until he became aware that even the lithe boy had risen from his side, and his children were becoming restless.
The one memory that crossed his mind most often, in and out of the cometary, was that of his last moments with his wife. The last time he had ever put his fingers on her creamy skin, right before the closed the casket and lowered her into the earth. Her skin had been so soft, and so cold, so utterly pale, that he had felt the tears well up in his heart. He knew it could not be true, that Fate could not have separated them for all time. Yet, even as he reasoned that way, he watched them lower his wife's coffin into the ground, and could not help but feel utterly lost.
Three days after his wife's burial, his best friend had finally arrived. The purple-haired man had been on a mission of his own when the time came to bury Onion's wife, and arrived later, with nothing but the clothes on his back, his magic, and a tiny gift for the widowed man.
When he arrived, he had pushed open the unlocked door to find his widowed friend sitting up alone in the dark of the night, unshed tears wavering in his eyes. Onion was sure that he had been a pitiful sight, even more unshaven than usual, wearing the same black clothes he had worn to his wife's funeral. His friend had approached him silently from behind. Reaching Onion, he had stretched his arms around the back of the chair, and across his friend's broad chest.
It will be all right, he had promised, leaning his head on Onion's neck. You're a strong man.
Then and there, in the chaste arms of his best friend, Onion had begun to weep for the first time in many years. Mille Feuille had only whispered soothing words to him, stroking his wild hair. They stayed that way for some time, until the larger man had turned slightly.
I'm so tired, he murmured.
said the purple-haired mage, let's put you to sleep, ne? It was more than obvious that he had not slept since the funeral.
Mille Feuille had dutifully undressed his friend and tucked him into the wide bed, ad he might a child. He slipped out of the room without Onion noticing, because he had fallen into a dreamless sleep the moment his head had touched the pillow.
The next morning, he had awoke to find the house cleaned. He heard the sound of children talking, and smelled breakfast cooking. For one heart-wrenching moment, he had thought that his wife's death had all been a terrible dream, and that she was in the kitchen making him his breakfast at that very moment.
But when he wandered into the kitchen, he found that he had been wrong, of course. His children were, indeed, seated at the table eating their breakfast, but it was his purple-haired fellow Haz who was cooking. He noticed grateful that the man had left his wife's apron hanging on a hook on the wall. He didn't think that he could have stood the sight of someone other than his wife wearing that apron, petty a thing as it was.
He watched from the doorway as his children finished their breakfasts and stacked the plates in the sink.
Head on off to school now, alright? Mille said in a kind voice. You've missed enough time as it is, I'm afraid. We wouldn't want your teachers worrying about you, would we?
He felt a strange sense of detachment as he watched his four children file past him and gather their school things before heading out the door. In a dream state, he walked to the table and sat down.
We're going to have to clean you up, Mille said, not turning around. His voice had the same kind tone he had used with the children. Then he turned around, his voice and eyes both harder. You look like shit, Onion.
The burly knight could do nothing but blink as the transvestite served him his breakfast, and poured a cup of coffee.
How much have you drunk in the past three days? he asked, staring his friend straight in the eye.
Onion looked away. Too much, he replied.
That's right. He fixed a very solemn gaze on his friend, who still refused to look at him. You know, your children were making their own meals? Carrot's got a burn the size of Saint Christopher on his arm, and your food stocks are dwindling to almost nothing.
Mille pulled out a chair and sat down across from Onion. As he listened, Onion rubbed at a familiar mark in the table top. You can't continue this way.
I know, Onion whispered in reply.
It's not healthy for you, nor for your children.
I know. I just can't let go...
You have to learn to keep your grief and you life separate. That's not to say that you can't live without mourning, but you have to be able to go about your daily life without depression tainting your every movement.
Mille smiled, but the warm look didn't quite reach his golden eyes. Go on, finish your breakfast. Then go back to sleep. You certainly need the rest. I'll get you up later and we can clean you up. I have plans for us tonight.
Then Mille Feuille got up without another word and went outside to sweep the steps.
By the time his children came home that day, he had been bathed, shaved, trimmed, and dressed again in some decent clothes. Not another word had been spoken about Mille's plans' for that evening. The children sat around the living room, doing their homework and generally chattering. They seemed to have almost completely recovered from the incident of their mother's death, even though a definite solemnity still tinted their speech and behavior.
Onion wondered whether this was because they had not witnessed Apricot's death with their own eyes. Her death seemed to them as it had seemed to Onion for the first day, when he had carried her body back from her final battle. It had seemed, while he rode back to the Stellar Church's terra firma base of operations, that she was not truly dead, and that at any moment she would just open her eyes. Then, as he neared the headquarters, the smell had begun to set in, and the sickening reality had hit him with full force.
Dinner almost managed to pass with no strange happenings. In fact, it was a very well-cooked meal. He wasn't surprised by this, actually, because he'd always known that Mille could was an excellent chef. he had often just sat around and talked kitchen' with Apricot.
But then, as Mille was was serving them small dessert cakes, little Tira had looked up from behind her large glasses, a question on her little face. she asked.
he asked comfortably, handing Onion his dessert plate.
Are you going to become our new mommy?
Onion had frozen in surprise, the plate he had been accepting still held in midair. But Mille Feuille has simply laughed, heartily, his eyes squinting merrily. It had been too long, Onion thought, since there had been laughter in their house. Not since she died, but...
Of course not, Ti-chan! he giggled. I couldn't be your mother anyway! I'm a boy!
You look enough like a girl, reasoned Chocolate.
He laughed again and grinned at the small redhead. Well, thank you, Cho-chan! But I still couldn't be your mother. Your Daddy loves your real mother far too much.
said Carrot, scowling. Because I wouldn't want you as my mommy anyway.
Only little Marron seemed indifferent to the matter, simply poking at his little cake. Onion recovered within a few moments of the conversations end, and set down his plate, eating his dessert without thinking about it.
After dinner, however, Onion put a hand on his friend's shoulder, and roughly turned him around. Where would Tira have gotten an idea like that? he growled.
Mille shrugged the large hand off his shoulder, his face closed. I don't know, Onion, he said, and continued to wash the dishes.
he said, pushing Mille away from the sink.
He didn't give the man time to speak, instead backfisting him across face hard enough to send him stumbling backwards. Onion stood, frozen, staring at his friend, who just stared back, his long-fingered hand cradling his cheek. Mille's eyes were solid gold, and it seemed that a certain degree of cold calculation was mixed with the hurt that shimmered in his gaze. Then, just as he had the night before, he felt something snap and he sank into the chair. Resting his head on his arms atop the table, he broke down into hitching sobs.
He sensed Mille near his shoulder shoulder before he actually felt his soft hands. I'm sorry, he whispered.
So am I, the purple-haired man replied in a kind, quiet tone. He rubbed Onion's broad back as he might do to soothe a child frightened of his nightmares. But, hey, let's dry those tears now, okay? Onion could tell that there was a gentle smile on Mille's face. I have something to show you...
They stood at Apricot's grave. Onion felt so near to breaking down once again, that he could hardly breathe. Mille, too, seemed very solemn. They had walked in silence, saying nothing, not even looking at each other.
They stood there for a long time, until Mille sighed and produced a tiny wooden box from inside the folds of his wrap. He held it out to a rather confused Onion.
Look inside, he urged, and Onion obediently opened the box to reveal one tiny, black seed. Mille had an usually melancholy look on his face. It's an apple seed, he explained.
No ordinary apple seed, of course. You should know better than to expect anything ordinary from the likes of me. He allowed a half-smile to touch his lips. The moment you plant this, it will grow. The tree will be strong, and hearty, and grow to be quite tall, if the other magical trees in Mother's orchard are any indication.
Onion once again felt a blurry wetness in his eyes. I... Thank you.
It was the best I could do. You... You and Apricot have been good friends to me, and I can't stand to see you grieve like this, for no- He cut himself off, something about him seeming heavy and quite sad. The apple tree is to remind you that -- every soul is reborn after a long, cold winter, even the souls of the living.
The only thing that filled the following silence was a gentle, honey-scented breeze that rustled the leaves of the other trees in the cometary. When Onion turned to offer his thanks, he found that his friend had completely vanished.
As he walked to the other side of the tombstone, he no longer bothered swallowing back his tears, instead letting them roll freely back his face. He dug a small hole a few feet behind his wife's gravestone, and placed the black seed in the moist earth. Patting the soil back down, he stepped back and waited. For a moment nothing happened, but then that same honeyed breeze wafted through the graveyard again, tugging at his hair and clothes. His eyes widened as he watched the first strong, thick branches reach out from the earth. Within a matter of a few minutes, a sturdy, slender apple tree had grown up behind the grave, bending over the slightest bit, as though it wished to embrace his wife's body in the ground below.
Tears flowing heavily down hi face, he walked around the grave again, and curled himself up against the stone marker. Beneath the providence of the great tree's branches, he quickly fell asleep.
Upon waking the next day, he found himself laid out in his bed, his shoes and socks removed. Looking out the bedroom window, he became aware of the fact that it was already nearing noon-time.
He got out of bed and walked into the living room, expecting to see Mille lounging there, reading a book. But he was not greeted with such a friendly sight. Instead, the house was empty, and completely silent. The children had gone to school, of course. He thought that perhaps Mille had gone into to town to buy provisions. He walked to the cupboard, expecting the find it nearly empty, only to be faced with a well-stocked selection of foodstuffs. He looked around for a moment, admiring how clean and well-ordered the kitchen looked. The air smelled slightly of cleaning solvent and honey.
Then it caught his eyes. Sitting on the spotless table was a ceramic bowl filled with bright red apples. Sitting in front of it, held down by a smooth, shining apple, was a small slip of paper.
Onion picked up the note, reading the cursive hand that had fashioned the rolling strokes of black ink...
Plant one for her each kijitsu.'
He felt tears welling up again in his throat. So Mille had left. He had gone, probably back to his quarters at the Stellar Church, leaving Onion alone to care for his children and face his demons. He wasn't sure he could do it, but... But if Mille Feuille trusted him, he felt obligated to try...
In present day, present time, he smiled softly and looked up into the filtered brightness of the apple tree's thick foliage.
He laid a gentle kiss on the skin of the bright red fruit, and pressed it into the hole in the earth. He covered it up with the loose dirt, and sat back against the trunk of the blossom-heavy tree, just basking in the warmth of the dappled sunlight and the sweet scent of apple blossoms that mixed with honey in the breeze.
Kokage: This means shade of tree.'
Carrot's got a burn the size of Saint Christopher: I don't know, I don't know! It was just the first thing that came into my head. I may actually have to start saying this now... But, the point is, I don't care if the Spoonerians aren't Christian. It doesn't matter. It's an auditory aesthetic. ::Sticks her tongue out and does the Dance of Mockery.::
Talked Kitchen: Er, heh heh... As in, talked shop? Bad, I know.
: Tira calls Milphey For the unenlightened, this would be the Japanese way of saying Uncle Milphey. Basically, the Glace kids think of Mille as their uncle, mostly because he and Onion are such good friends. (Note how they call Zaha Uncle Zaha in the anime. Can anyone else say, Ew? But, I guess, that was before he went psycho and started laughing maniacally at random dust particles. ~ o.O ~)
Cho-chan: When the diminutive is added to children's names, they are often abbreviated. They do this in German, too with the ending. If you've ever seen the dubbed Fushigi Yuugi, Nuriko calls Tamahome It's like that. So, anyway, I know sounds kinda weird, but it was the abbreviating I guessed they would probably use for Chocolate's name.
Uhm... Why apples?: In pagan mythology, apples are the fruit of the dead. Some believe that the apple represents the soul, and on Sahmain (the Wiccan festival of the dead) people bury apples so that the souls of their loved ones will have somethign to eat during the winter until the are reborn in the spring. I see the apple tree as being a sign that Apricot will eventually come back, in even greater splendor. The bracn of an apple tree can represent immortality. Also, apple shares many of the same properties with apricot. They both have the same gender, element, are ruled by the same planet, share the of the diety Venus, and hold the power of love. Also, this story was inspired by the traditional song I am Stretched on your Grave. I listened to the Dead Can Dance version of this song pretty much the entire time while I was writing this fic. It's such a sad and beautiful song. One of the lines (the one that sparked the whole thing, really) was, My apple tree, my brightness. I looked into it and found out what they meant, an couldn't resist. So, that's why apples.
Kijitsu: This is a Japanese word that means the anniversary of a person's death. So Mille tells Onion to bury an apple each year on the day she died.
Dude, what's the deal with the honey smell?: In Lord of the Dead, Miss Nightfall gives the city of Shadizar, as well as her villain, Adriel, the signature scent of honeysuckle. Well, tha kind of stuck with me. In this story, honey is Milphey's signature scent, that follows him and his magic. The money scented breeze before Onion turns to appologize? It signals that Mille used his magic to transport himself back to the Glace house. The smell in the kitchen? Milphey's been and gone...
Why Onion?: I dunno, I'd never seen an Onion fic. In fact (probably because most BH fans are more familiar with the anime), I rarely even hear mention of him in stories. I kinda thought (much as people believe about Carrot and Gateau) that Onion must be deeper than people think. I see the Haz Knights as being a very spiritual organization, despite Milphey's cavalcading, and all the hentais that Mamma seems to employ. But I guess I wrote this because I wanted to think about how Onion would deal with his wife's death. It seemed to me, that in light of all my theories, something very poignant probably would have conspired. Oh, hell, I tried...
Milion?!?: No, I don't believe that Milphey and Onion were ever a couple. (No duh, Onion's married and vehemently straight.) But it seems (from what I've heard about the later manga) that Milphey' always chased after Onion, like he does with Carrot. So it simply made sense to me that Milphey would provide his friend with physical comfort. (Look out, psychoanalysis warning!) Milphey's always struck me as the type who prefers physical contact over emotional contact, as in, he would be more likely to hug you to make you feel better than he would be to talk out your problems. And it seems to me that a good, ole fashioned hug was just the sort of thing that Onion needed at the time. (OK, end psychobabble.) Anyway, Milphey hangs out at the Glace house because he knows Onion isn't stable enough yet to spport his family on his own without his wife. It's NOT because I think they're a couple. Hey, I'm their MiKo no Miko, after all, I can't just go around dispelling the beliefs of my own religion, now, can I?
Dedication: This fic is dedicated to those people at Everything Falls Apart, for providing me with the I am Stretched on Your Grave mp3. That site is very awesome. Also, Nora, because she writes so well, and because some scenes in Adiemus sort of inspired sme of the scenes in this fic. (Mind you, mine aren't nearly as good, but I try.) Also, this is dedicated to Fala because if I lost my wifie-poo, I don't think I'd be too happy, either.
SHUT UP!!!: Yes, I know, I've written a lot of notes about this one. I guess I had a lot to say. Oh well, I'm done now, so you can chill out.