Her back leaning against a huge tree, the woman known only as Oneesan sighed softly. I fucked up royally this time. No wonder Aya hates me so much now. Still... it was stupid of me to run away like that. Now they know something's bothering me. If only he'd let me explain... She snorted aloud. That's a silly thought. Aya would never let me explain. Maybe I should just leave now.
She pushed her against the tree trunk, fully intending on walking away, when something dropped on her head. Reflexively, she caught it in the palm of her hand. Glancing down at it, she grinned. "Donguri? What are you doing here?" she asked softly as the large black bird set down on her arm. It squawked, apparently answering her, picking up the acorn in her palm then dropping it again. "The Morrigan's acorn crop?" she asked as lightly as she could. "You know as well as anyone, Donguri, that I'm not the legendary Morrigan."
Heaven help me for the way I am
She settled herself back down against the tree, absently stroking the bird's head. "I should just leave here, you know, Donguri? They don't really need me. I'd be of no use against Thanatos - and... and... and I'm just getting in the way for Aya and Usagi."
*I'm not going to let you do that, Lady Morrigan,* a familiar voice resounded in her mind. *We're not letting Lord Aed get away this easily. Have we not pursued him for centuries?*
"I did not pursue Aya!" she whispered, a furious blush crossing her cheeks.
*Either way, there is something between the two of you, like there is between Lady Selene and Lord Hachiman, something that should not be tampered with. I won't allow it to be torn asunder foolishly and recklessly.*
Save me from these evil deeds
"You think this is an easy decision, Donguri? I've been with Aya almost as long as I've been a Goddess. Parting with him would be like cutting off half of my b... my body..."
*Oh, no! Don't you start thinking like that, Lady Morrigan! You swore you wouldn't die until you rid the world of demons.*
"Demons were created to balance the gods. As long as there are gods, there will be demons. One less god should mean one less monster."
*You promised Lord Aed that you wouldn't die, that you would never leave him like that. Remember?*
Before I get them done
She faltered, then regained her poise. "He has Usagi now. As much as I dislike the brat -"
*Don't lie, Lady Morrigan.*
" -she's good for Aya. He seems happier than I've seen him in a while," her voice faltered again, "except when I make the mistake of showing up."
*I bet if you ever told Lord Aed how you feel about him, it would change everything.*
"I can't do that, Donguri, especially not now. He has the chance to be happy with Usagi. I don't want to ruin that for him. After all, above everything else, I want to see him happy."
*Begging your pardon, Lady Morrigan, but Lord Aed just doesn't do happy the same way other people do. How do you know he hasn't been happy all these years with you?*
"I would have known, somehow."
*Didn't you just tell Lord Hachiman that you wanted to see Lord Aed happy, just once, before you die? At least live on for that.*
She sighed in defeat. "Damn it, Donguri. Why do you have to make it sound so reasonable?"
*Make what sound so reasonable?*
"Living. Not taking my head off my shoulders."
*Because living is reasonable and it takes more courage than dying. So you won't do anything stupid like try to kill or maim yourself?*
"Not until I see Aya happy, I won't." Another sigh. "I dread explaining my running away to them though."
I know tomorrow brings the consequence at hand
"They didn't look very concerned," another voice interrupted her dreading. She glanced over her shoulder and smiled faintly as Heero squatted down beside her. "Frankly, Aya-san didn't even look any more pissed than usual."
"If you came out here to cheer me up, Heero, you're doing a terrible job of it," she replied in English, a small smile on her face.
"Cheering people up, as you say, isn't exactly something I'm good at," he answered in the same language. She smiled, mildly shocked he understood one of her native languages. "So why did you run away?"
"It's stupid." He sent her a look that said, say it now or die. She laughed. "Did you study that, Heero? How to express yourself without speaking?" Another look, moving towards the Glare o' Doom. "I didn't like the way she was looking at Aya, okay? I didn't want to stand there and watch them stare at each other, okay?!?" she fairly shrieked.
He jumped slightly, by no means used to her mood swings. "Gomen ne, Anechan." She blinked sharply at the rather affectionate nickname. He grabbed the pack he'd been carrying with him and produced her trench coat from it. "I brought you this. It's supposed to snow tonight."
"Thank you, Heero," she answered slowly. She smiled. "It's been so long since I've had a real conversation in English. I learned Japanese to talk to Aya, you see," she snorted, amusement evident, "as much as Aya speaks."
"You're not Japanese?"
"Most people assume I am. I guess because of what I'm called, 'Oneesan' and all, but I'm not. Before I found out I was to become a Goddess, I'd never set foot in Japan nor had any wish to."
"So where are you from?"
"Ireland. I guess that's the reason I became a Celtic goddess. I was going to the University of Dublin when one night... everything changed. I was told I was going to die and come back a war goddess." She glanced over at him. "Be glad you're not an Elder God, Heero. Dying isn't pleasant. It hurts like hell, in fact."
"I know." She quirked an eyebrow slightly. "I don't know how much you know about the Gundams -"
"Quite a bit. Hyperion shared all the information he got with us, in case we ever needed it."
He nodded slightly. "But I self-destructed one. I was in a coma for a month afterwards." He looked over to see her frowning in thought. "Nande?"
"I was just thinking. That would make you the pilot of Gundam 01, wouldn't it?"
But I keep livin' this day
"You do know a lot, don't you?"
She smiled slightly at that, sliding her coat on as the first snowflakes began to fall. "I guess I do." She was silent for a long time, just watching the snow fall. Finally with a sigh, she spoke again. "Umm... Heero? Do you think we're doing the right thing? I don't... feel quite right doing this to Aya."
"I hate doing this to Usagi."
*Well, I think you're both bloody idiots!*
"Shut up, Donguri."
Like the next will never come
"So what exactly is it with you and Aya-san anyway, Anechan?" Heero asked, taking a seat beside her.
She frowned, resting her elbow on one of her drawn up knees, not quite looking at him. "It's complicated, but somehow I think we bonded without either of us realizing. That's what Donguri tells me anyway."
"Do you always listen to that bird?"
*Who are you calling 'that bird,' Lord Hachiman?* She could almost see the feathers on her pet's back fluffing up, and she gently brushed them back down. *How dare he insult me like that?*
"Calm down, silly bird. He didn't mean anything by it." She grinned, half at the lingering mutterings she still could hear the bird saying and half at the incredulous expression on her young companion's face. "He's my familiar. He sees the things I cannot see. If he says Aya and I are bonded, I believe it. However..."
Oh help me but
"Oh well," she stated, climbing to her feet and using the tree to brace herself, "we might as well go back now."
"You're ready to now?"
"Why not? Besides, I don't know about you, colony boy, but I happen to find it damned unpleasant to sleep outside when it's snowing." She let Donguri fly off her arm, and she offered her gloved hand down to Heero, pulling him up.
Don't tell me to deny it
They walked in fairly companionable silence for a while. Only when Quatre's house was in sight again did she finally speak. "So what are we going to tell them, Heero?"
"Nothing, unless they ask."
"Do you honestly think they will?"
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~*~ * ~ * ~
I've got to cleanse myself of all these lies
As much as he wanted to, he found that he couldn't move. Ice had taken over his veins, though he thought with some cynical amusement, he had none to speak of. Not even when he had been human. When Oneesan had just left like that, a part of him shattered. He had been stunned by the sense of loss he felt. Not once in the fifteen hundred years that they had been together had he ever given their relationship any thought. He thought that they had been almost happy. Being with each other-- they had balanced each other somehow. But now, something had upset the balance and he wasn't sure what he could do. Or even if he could do anything about it. Not with this young punk in the picture anyway.
Without moving his back from the column, he merely turned his head to glance at the shorter girl beside him. His eyes warmed at the sight of her. For some reason, he had felt this immediate kinship to her. There was no explaining it. There had been a strength to her character, combined with a playful nature that he had sensed from the moment he had seen her.
The world had stopped turning for a moment, and his breath had caught. She had a quality about her that tugged at one's heartstrings, and judging by the death glare that Hachiman and Shinigami had thrown in his direction, the younger gods weren't immune to her either.
"Mmm?" he replied, by way of response.
"Do you think they'll be gone for long?"
There was a wistful quality to her tone, a hidden pain that he wanted to erase. She was not meant for such sadness, and she carried so much grief for a goddess so young. ~ Neither is Oneesan, but yet you persist in hurting her that way, you bastard. ~
He nearly groaned inwardly. Not the inner voice again.
Till I'm good enough for him
"Maybe it was something I did," she whispered almost to herself. Her fists were clenched tightly by her sides, and he could see that she was trying to hold back the tears. Protective instincts reared their heads fully, and he pushed off the column to appear by her side. "I don't deserve him."
~ I don't deserve her either, ~ he thought to himself. It didn't matter now. All that mattered was Usagi's heart who was being broken by Hachiman. His eyes gleamed briefly, yearning to strangle the young god, but emotions weren't something he was used to. Compassion in his system was bad enough. Add anger to that, and the results would be extremely volatile.
"After everything I've put him through I've hurt him so badly, and I never meant to. I I can't understand him like I'm supposed to like he understands me. It's so much easier to blame Hekate, but it's my fault." The tears appeared without warning, bright crystalline drops standing out starkly against her pale face, startling the man next to her. "I could've stopped it. I could've done something, but I didn't. I-- I let him down. What do you think, Aya-nikun? Do you think they make a good match?"
Something flared within his eyes as she raised her own tear-stained ones to stare at him. He loomed over her, almost frightening her with the intensity of his gaze and his presence. Despite the fact that she was a goddess herself, he was an Elder God, having seen and done things that no being could ever imagine. The horrors of what he had to endure was something she could not do herself. Look at how easily she had allowed Hekate to take over. As much as she accepted the other presence now, she could never forgive herself. For giving up on herself and the love she had.
"She's a bit older than Heero is," she paused before laughing. The sound was cold and bitter, so unlike her normal self. "But she's more capable of understanding him, and believing in him than I am. Look at me. I?
I've got a lot to lose
A rough pair of hands grabbed her, shaking her hard. "Just stop it!" he thundered next to her. Shocked into silence, she could only stare at him, barely holding back the wince as his fingers began digging in. "It can't be that way between them. It can't," he repeated, and to her eyes, it almost seemed like he was trying to convince himself. His voice was hoarse with so much pain she ached for him. "Stop saying that about yourself. Love just is."
The words washed over her. Love just is. Three syllables, so easy to say, yet possessed a wealth of meaning that caught her. Was loving someone sufficient? She wasn't perfect. She never claimed to be. All she could ever be was herself. The question was was that good enough for Heero?
And I'm bettin' high
She had never had an abundance of self-confidence as a human. As a goddess, it seemed that everything in her, even that, was amplified, just like her senses were intensified. She raised her head as the hands released her just as abruptly, stepping away from her. He radiated pain, as if his burdens as a human wound up following him even in godhood. She placed her hand upon his arm, and she jerked her hand back as if shocked. How could he survive carrying that much hurt in him?
He stared blindly at her, as her hand resumed its gentle, inoffensive pressure upon his sleeve. It seeped through all the layers of clothes, and he switched his gaze to where her hand was. Like a bolt of electricity that struck initially, it merged with the rest of his being. He couldn't explain it. It was like a warming of the blood. There was so much generosity of spirit nestled within her slender frame. So much like her. A young woman he had lost too long ago.
It had completely destroyed everything he had in him. It had been beyond a physical death, although it still made his insides turn thinking of all the anguish he had been through. Mentally, her death had been the toughest on him. It was his fault. He hadn't been able to save her. He hadn't been able to protect her. Memories of a pretty face, laughing at him, smiling with the sunshine backing her beautiful soul ran rampant through him, and he cursed inwardly. He didn't want to remember. Not now. Usagi reminded him too much of her.
But as much as it hurt, he needed this. It felt as if he were being given a second chance. A second chance to save his imouto.
So I'm begging you before it ends
"Did you have a normal life?" she asked suddenly, her words sending him back to the past once again. The past he had never wanted to face.
She saw the spasm of emotion cross his face as he closed his eyes. "Iie," was all he would say. He seemed so troubled. Why hadn't Oneesan seen any of this? She had been with him for fifteen hundred years and yet Oneesan had been hurting too. Had the two become so accustomed to each other's presence that they had failed to see what was in front of them? They could've helped each other out, offered support, though she sensed that in a way, they had done that for each other without ever knowing it. "I was an assassin," he said, much to her surprise.
Just tell me where to begin
She felt the chill radiating from his presence. He was withdrawing back into that shell, but at the same time, he was allowing her to see a side of him that only Oneesan had ever seen. 'Or has she seen this?'
"For my imouto."
He closed his eyes against the wave of pain that threatened to pull him under. He didn't want to feel again. He was an Elder God for crying out loud. He could kill at the drop of a hat, and he would kill anyone who came near Oneesan. For fifteen hundred years, it had only been her that kept him sane. She balanced something within him, and sometimes in her, he saw himself. ~You deserve so much more than me, more than I can ever hope to offer you. Yet you remained all these years. Why? ~
What I need is a good defense
There were so many things in his life that he wanted to make right, but his duties had always come first. When had there been time to straighten things out? Fifteen hundred years was a long time to be with someone, much less realize that you loved her. He froze at the thought. Eyes widening, his heart began trembling within his chest cavity. It couldn't be... He was incapable of such emotions. Surely he could've stopped this powerful feeling he felt for her. But he hadn't been able to and hadn't wanted to. Had he been tired of being alone? She was loyal, and she understood the darkness that lived within him. She had never judged him, but then again, he had never told her the truth.
Kuso. He didn't want to believe what he was feeling though he already knew it was too late.
'Cause I'm feeling like a criminal
He turned around to face the younger goddess who reminded him so much of Aya-chan it hurt at times. Emotions in full turmoil, he did something completely unexpected. He made several decisions in his head at that very moment, and among them, one would involve further investigation. But Usagi
His lips barely moved, curving upwards slightly before saying, "Ran. My name is Ran," astounding the blonde in front of him, along with the two who stood there frozen in shock.
And I need to be redeemed
It nearly broke Usagi's heart to see the deep pain reflecting in Oneesan's eyes, so much like that she'd seen in Aya-ni -no... Ran-nikun's. ~Don't they even begin to realize how much alike they are?~ Other than that, nothing else betrayed her emotions, and in a heartbeat, even that was carefully masked.
Wordlessly, she walked past them, leaving Heero behind and not even looking at any of them, going in the house and leaving the door wide open behind her. A moment later, they heard Wufei's voice explode, "What?!?"
A moment later, she re-emerged from the house with both Wufei and Setsuna hot on her heels. "It's final, Wufei, Setsuna. You can't change my mind."
Again she walked right past them, but this time she stopped a few steps away.
To the one I've sinned against
"I just came back to say good-bye," she stated softly.
Beside her, Usagi felt Aya - Ran-nikun - stiffen just slightly. Glancing up, she saw his eyes staring blindly at the Elder Goddess's back. A gamut of raw emotions ran through those amethyst orbs, but they smoothed back over to their usual cold and glassy surface when Oneesan glanced over her shoulder at him. "Take care," was all he said, nodding slightly in her direction.
"Fine, Aed." She nodded slightly back and trudged out into the newly fallen snow.
Because he's all I ever knew of love
Scowling, Wufei turned dark eyes to the silent and still Elder God when a black shape on the ground caught his attention. No way... She wouldn't leave this?
"Oneesan?" he called after her. "Your sword?"
Aya turned slightly towards him as Wufei pulled it out of the ground then back to Oneesan as she spoke one last time. "Keep it, or give it to Setsuna. Where I'm going, I won't need it."
"A god should never been without a sword. It can be the only means of survival when you're all alone," rang through his mind. Right. That was one of the first things she taught us. Does that mean... she wants to die now?
30 June 2001
And here's the second part of the side-story. Yepperz, this is a huge fic, but bear with us, because it's really good!