Acherontia Atropos: Epilogue

When I woke up, I was in the ICU of the local hospital, along with Wufei
and Trowa. They had both been seriously injured, though not as badly as
me. Wufei had lost a lot of blood, and Victoria had managed to tear the
lining around his lungs when she shoved him onto his own knife, though at
least his internal organs were intact. Cheree had nearly disemboweled
Trowa when they killed her.

I was kind of surprised that Heero and Quatre weren't in with us. I was even
more surprised when Wufei told me that while Heero and Quatre had both
ridden to the hospital with us in the ambulances, they'd been released as
soon as the doctors took a look at them. Between the two of them, they'd
only needed about thirty stitches and some antibiotics. I guess that they
weren't hurt as badly as I'd thought. I must have seen wrong in the
torchlight. I was willing to believe that.

When the three of us compared wounds, the grand total came out to be
something like seven operations, over a thousand stitches, and three casts.
I'd been unconscious the longest; almost a week, while Wufei had been up
the whole time and Trowa had come to after the second day.

The doctors were thrilled that I was finally up and about. They had a lot of
fun telling me what a mess I was when I came in; punctured lung,
comminuted fracture of the humerus[1], five fractured ribs, compound
fracture of the collar bone coupled with severe muscle trauma...the list went
and on and. It sounded very impressive. They kept saying that I was lucky
to be alive.

They didn't have to tell me. I was well aware of that. Even if I didn't
particularly feel like it, at times.

They kept all three of us for another week and a half. We drove the hospital
staff insane. Wufei's a worse patient than me, if that's possible. It was
almost nice to have the chance to relax, though; I got to know Wufei all
over again, and really got to know Trowa for the first time. He's got a real
good sense of the ironic.

Quatre and Heero came and visited us, though Quatre showed up more
often than Heero. He always snuck us in junk food, and he even managed to
smuggle a six pack of beer past the attendant nurses once for me. There's a
lot to be said for looking innocent.

If he or Trowa can remember what Cheree and Carmen did to them, they
don't say. I try not to bring it up. Heero's still as distant as ever. The more
things change, the more they stay the same. At least he's not pushing me
away because of what happened.

When we finally got released from the hospital, the nurses threw us a big
party and bought us a cake. It was great. I asked around until I found out
who had called for the ambulances, since I was pretty sure that none of us
had been in any condition to run for help. I finally found out that it was a
woman named Hara. I can't help but wonder why she did it, but I haven't
called her up to ask. I'm not sure I want to know. She must have also done
one hell of a cleanup job, because no one mentioned dead bodies or
anything else that might indicate they'd found the remains of the vampires
and Carmen.

As soon as we left the hospital, we transferred to a new school, thanks to
Heero. When I asked, he said he didn't think I'd be comfortable in the same
school as the students that the vampires had controlled. It was a surprisingly
insightful thing for him to say. Sometimes I think there's hope for him.

So far, things have been normal at the new school. We've all settled in
alright. Wufei's days of wearing tank tops are over, though, unless he wants
everyone to see the huge mound of scar tissue that he now has on his upper
chest. He also has some really interesting scars on his back now too, though
they're not too visible unless you're really looking for them. I know for a
fact that Trowa also has a scar across his stomach. We're all in physical
therapy now, and the therapist says that all of us will regain full use of our
various damaged body parts.

Heero's got a surprisingly small little pockmark in his chest, right over his
heart, which makes me wonder, sometimes. I try not to think about it,
though. Quatre managed to get through the entire experience pretty much
unscarred, at least on the physical level. As far as the mental level goes, I
can't say. None of us like to talk about what happened; I think it shook us all
up, and we want to go back to our quasi-normal lives and forget.

Except for me. I can't forget. Like Wufei, I'm never going to be able to wear
a tank top and look good in it again; I have some real bad scarring on my
collar bone and my right arm, but it's merely a reflection of the internal
stains, I guess you could say. I still have problems with people touching me,
and my claustrophobia has only gotten worse. Now that I've acknowledged
that the power in me exists, it constantly finds ways to bring my attention to
it, like it's some kind of eager to please kid. On bad nights, I'll go out to take
a walk, and the road kill will get up and follow me.

At first, when I got out of the hospital, I had nightmares all the time, and a
lot of nights found me knocking on Quatre and Trowa's room door, because
I knew Quatre wouldn't mind sharing his bed with me, and that is the one
time that physical contact doesn't freak me out. It's something I have to deal
with, just like being a Gundam Pilot. I've accepted that, now, and the
nightmares aren't as bad any more. I won't say that I don't still have a lot of
issues to deal with, but at least I'm now dealing with the ones I can. I am
Shinigami. I can't escape that.

A month after we transferred to the new school, I went to one of the old
libraries in Tokyo, one that had a lot of really old books from all over the
world. I spent several days wandering the dusty stacks, but I eventually
found at least a few answers about vampires and witches, as well as a little
elementary info on what we might possibly run into in the future if our
world tries to turn itself upside down again. I hope that I'll never need it,
though. The first time around was bad enough.

I also found a few sketchy, incomplete details that gave me some answers
I'd been craving; answers about me. Tamlin had called my ability an
"affinity for the dead." It didn't ring true, though, I knew it. I found the
beginning of the answer for what I am in a thin, tiny book that had gotten
jammed between the pages of a larger reference tome. I walked out of the
library with it tucked inside my long-sleeved shirt. No one ever noticed.

The tiny, insignificant looking book gave me a name for what I am.

I am Shinigami.

I am a Necromancer.

[1] Comminuted fracture is basically where the bone has been shattered.
Multiple bone chunklets floating around in the space where the bone used to
be, takes at least one operation to get everything back in place, normally
more than that, and it's not unusual for the affected limb to lose a great deal
of mobility.