ANGEL

I wrote this as a sequel to messenger of death, because I was having a bit of trouble thinking up new ideas, wolf anima asked me to bring Cooro back, and I needed to flesh out my three story list of publications. Petty huh? However, once I decided to write it, I got completely absorbed, and am now sitting here at 1:30 am, even though I have three hours of fencing (sword-fighting, not fence-putting-up-ing) tomorrow morning. So please review ~Ratpigeon

I squint, trying to see through the soft glowing haze that surrounds my entire existence. It's getting harder and harder to see them, and instead of fading, the pain of loss only increases.

"You need to leave them behind."

It is the only voice I ever hear in this soft emptiness. It is an asexual voice that followed me my entire life, guiding me to my death. The only difference now is that it has a body. It takes the shape of my mother. But that is not so different; it was always the one to guide me. Perhaps it would be better to say that the only difference now is that I hate it. And I do. My wings curve around me, cutting myself off from the indistinct form, and once again, I search for an image, for a fragment of life…

Instead, I notice that the pure darkness in my wings is fading, like the pink tinge in my skin, fading into the whiteness around me. It scares me, I'm disappearing, and the only reason I haven't yet vanished is because I can't let go of the visions, even as they become more distant. And I know that I will never let go of the fleeting glimpses of my only true family until they stop mourning for me.

It's been six months since I died. I know this, because when I died, the apples were ripe and red. Now, through the long winter, the blossoms are once again on the trees. Nana planted a tree in her garden. Senri waters it and cares for it. He left the mountains after I died, and now lives, quiet in his grief, with Nana and Husky. Husky, who spends an hour each night, just staring at the tree, and the small round stone beneath its young branches. My eyes sting with hot moisture, but the tears stopped falling long ago. The dead cannot cry.

Every night, Nana wept. She still could not believe that Cooro wasn't about to fly over a hill, apple in hand and a smile on his face, his wings reflecting the sunlight as dazzling silver highlights. She hadn't even been able to visit his grave since she planted the tree. She heard the door close, as Husky came in. She felt that she was losing him too, since Cooro died, their uncertain, tentative relationship had all but vanished. He barely spoke to anyone. Nana couldn't bare the thought of losing Husky as well, so she left her room, wiping her eyes on her apron, and knocked on Husky's door.

"What?" Husky's voice was hoarse with grief and disuse, and when Nana opened it, his eyes were as hard and remote as they had been since…

"Do you want to talk about it?" She asked, uncertainly moving inside the room that used to be so neat and tidy, not at all sure that she wanted to.

"No. This is why I hate girls…they always want to talk." Husky was sitting on the edge of his bed, holding his staff. His 'Cooro Punishing Stick'…

That stung. It had been years since Husky had said that he hated girls, not since they had lost their anima*, and that simple statement was enough to rip the last shreds of self control from Nana.

"Do you think that you're the only one who's hurting?" She cried, the tears spilling onto her black dress. "He saved me too! I miss him just as much as you do! I'm trying to help, you can't stay locked away from it forever." Nana wrapped her arms around herself, wishing that she could fly away and never come back…fly to wherever Cooro had gone. But she couldn't. She was only human. "I can't lose you too!"

"Go away, Nana. I don't want to talk." Nana looked at Husky, hearing the cracking warble of tears in his voice, a sound that she was so used to, from the long nights she'd spent wrapped in her tear-stained blankets, asking herself why

"Please Husky…" Nana wasn't sure what she was doing when she sat down beside him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders, her pale brown hair twisting with his silver-blue.

"Nana…" Husky twisted in her arms, pulling her close in a hot kiss that tasted of tears and anger and hopelessness…and fear. Then he pulled away, the tears he had locked away sliding down his cheeks. "I miss him, so much. It feels like I died as well. And I'm so scared, I-" He choked off, unable to continue.

"You're afraid to lose someone else." Said Nana quietly, one of her hands holding his face tenderly. Husky nodded, his eyes desperate.

"I know, I miss him too." Whispered Nana, folding herself against Husky's slender, warm, alive body, drawing comfort from his nearness. The two held each other for a long time, until the tears ran dry.

"Nana?" Husky spoke slowly, hesitantly. "Will you stay with me tonight? I just…I don't want to be alone…" He trailed off, but his hands stayed tightly wrapped around her waist. Nana didn't answer, she just brought her lips to Husky's in a slow, deep kiss.

She didn't want to be alone either.

*

Cooro turned away as the image faded, and the temporary solid mist showed a reflection he barely recognised. All of the colour was gone now, except from his eyes, which had faded to a golden colour.

"Let them go, Cooro. Let them move on, and pass away to the darkness."

"I don't want to. They're crying."

"The living cannot move on from the memories of the dead, until the dead have passed on. They cry because of you."

Cooro's eyes widened…he was making them cry…It didn't seem right, he didn't want to let them go, but he had to…and this time, they wouldn't be able to stop him disappearing. He sat down, not crying, not fighting, just waiting. He could feel himself begin to fade…

Music.

There was music calling to him, from a great distance, only just audible. Strains so delicate and gentle, that they could only be the heralds of oblivion. Cooro stood, and followed the sound, on wings that had faded to the point of translucence at the tips. He followed the sound to darkness.

Chapter two.

It was the first day of summer. Since that night, a month and a half ago, Husky, Senri and Nana had regained some of their life, beginning to see past their grief into the bright dazzle of life. Nana in particular seemed to be glowing with new vitality. Mused Husky, as he helped Senri plant some flowers around Cooro's tree.

"He's still here." Said Senri quietly, and Husky looked up in surprise. It had been that faint sense that Cooro was nearby that had helped him to rise from his dark, living-death. That, and Nana…Husky blushed slightly, and returned to planting with renewed vigour.

"Husky!" husky looked up to see Nana, a half-finished dress in hand beckon to him. He stood up, brushing off the dirt, and went inside, trying to cool the blush off his cheeks.

"Yes Nana?" He asked, but Nana didn't seem keen to answer. She had returned to her dress, and was industriously adding a hem, avoiding his gaze. Husky tapped his foot. He didn't have much patience with this sort of behaviour, and he was meant to be at the palace by noon.

"Um…" Nana was blushing under her fringe, and it seemed to have taken all of her courage to just say that one word. Husky frowned.

"Spit it out Nana."

"…What would you do if…"

"If what?" Husky prompted as Nana trailed off again.

"If…I were to tell you something."

"That you're applying for village idiot? I'd support you whole-heartedly. I have to go."

"You jerk! I am not applying for village idiot!" Nana exploded, her reticence forgotten. "How could you even say something that mean?! I'm pregnant!"

"What?"

*

in the darkness of death, music, deep and slow and quiet, envelopes me. they will have able to move on, and i no longer care…i fade into the darkness and the music.

I'm sorry this chapter is so short, but I didn't have any ideas for how to make it longer. If you do, please send them to me as a review or PM and I will try to fit them in. Next chapter is the last one, those that think they can guess what is going to happen, don't spoil it for others, and those that can't, I'm glad it's not too obvious. It's a pain to allude to something without giving it away. Please do review, even if it's just to tell me whether you can/can't guess the ending. It's useful. It really is. ~Ratpigeon

Chapter three.

The snow-laden wind blew in from the Kim-un-kur mountains, battering against the windows of the houses in Sailand. In every house but one, the residents shut their windows more tightly, as the mid-winter wind tries to send chilling tendrils through the glass. In the exception house, they have other problems.

*

Nana was in the process of giving birth to the baby that she had so ingloriously told Husky about eight and a half months earlier, and Husky was frantic. Even Senri, who had been the midwife's assistant (He wasn't vacillating between hysterical destructiveness and dithering), looked worried now that he had been sent out.

Of course the screams hadn't helped. However, now that they'd stopped, it was even worse, and the ten seconds since then had sent every possible image of horrible things that could happen to women giving birth through his mind. From blood-loss to sickness and fever to poison…Growing up in a harem had not really helped to allay any fears he had of harm that might come to Nana. And of course, the wedding had been set at the very start of spring – would have been earlier, but Nana made her wedding dress when she was a little girl, and it wouldn't fit her when she was pregnant.

The midwife came into the room, drying her hands professionally. Husky remembered her from his childhood, after all, she had been the royal midwife.

"You have a son, Prince Husky, and an heir." Husky filed that statement away with the things to panic about later, and rushed into the room, Senri close behind him.

*

The world has faded, the music is gone, and everything is strange and blurry. I would scream, except that screaming has become pointless, so instead I smile.

*

The baby was pure white from head to toe, except for its pale, golden eyes, which were wide with fear and disorientation. All three stared at it, the strange little baby, but then it's face relaxed into a bright sunny smile.

Husky reached down to touch it on his head, wondering at the familiarity of that smile, and then he noticed the wings, so white that they were transparent at the tips. He looked at Nana in a question that encompassed almost every question that he could have asked, and also a sense of overwhelming love for her.

"Cooro." The baby's eyes slid open, and focused uncannily on Senri, the golden eyes piercing and full of sad awareness. Then they baby's eyes slid to his parent's faces, and, after a few moments under that disconcerting stare, he gurgled happily, smiling again.

"Cooro…" Nana agreed, looking at the baby with the love that only a new mother can give. "Our little angel."

It wasn't until months later that they realised that Cooro didn't have any +Anima markings…

*

I was briefly thinking about killing Nana when Cooro was born, but that would have ruined it. So I made the tragedy happy. I feel like a bit of a sellout. But I guess it's okay, so long as people review. ~Ratpigeon