By: Miracle Shining
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The Slayers, Blue Seed, and mention of Shoujo Kakumei Utena characters belong to their respective companies. I just like exploiting them in ways that make all of us happy! Anyhoo, Worthing, St. Martin's Bay, and all roles that the Slayers, Blue Seed, and Utena characters play belong to me. =^.^=
Detective Zelgadiss Greywars stared numbly out of the frost dusted window of the 747 he and Gourry had just boarded. He sighed, reaching over Gourry to tap the window, testing how cold the glass was.
"Well, in least when we get to St. Martin's Bay, we can get away from this cold." he grumbled.
Gourry didn't say anything, just stared out the window. He had asked Zel for the window seat, since he really hated flying, but something about seeing the clouds made him feel more comfortable. Even though Gourry seemed okay, Zelgadiss had taken special precautions, bringing motion sickness medicine just in case.
"I know you don't like flying, wild fire, but it's the only way we can get to my mother's place in a day. We'd be driving three other wise." Zel said softly.
The blonde only nodded absently, still staring out the window.
Zel sighed and turned his attention to the flight attendant, though his mind was elsewhere.
His mother had called and invited Zel and his "friend" to come and stay with her, his half brother, and his half brother's girlfriend for Christmas. Zel had been hesitant, since his mother was far from happy about his break up with his girlfriend and the fact that he was now with a man. Though his mother had never vocally said it, Zel knew she didn't approve.
"Well, she's just going to have to deal." the detective stated flatly to himself.
Shaking his own thoughts, he glanced back over at Gourry. The blonde had been very distant since the holiday's had started and Zelgadiss had credited to the loss of his sister. But, it seemed to run deeper than that. Every time he would ask, Gourry would change the topic, or avoid the question all together.
"Hey, Gourry, are you okay?" Zel fingered Gourry's cheek lightly.
The young man looked back at Zel, an almost weary smile on his face. Even that expression looked strained, since smiling came relatively easy to Gourry.
"Yah, I'm fine, Zel. Really, you don't have to keep checking on me." he responded, trying to sound cheerful, but the words came out with a more bitter tone than meant.
The chimera sighed and nodded, relaxing back into his seat as the plane began to taxi onto the run way.
"If he's going to be like this all Christmas, I think I would have rather stayed home than have to face my mother and my family."
They had been in the air for around seven hours. The attendant announced that they would be landing in St. Martin's Bay's airport within the next hour.
Zelgadiss glanced over at Gourry for what seemed to be the millionth time since they had gotten on the flight. The tall young man had made no real conversation the whole flight. He had refused breakfast and lunch, and only nibbled a bit on the peanuts that came with the flight. Zelgadiss hadn't known what to say, since he had never seen Gourry this distant except the first time he had met him in The Maze.
"Is your family nice?"
Zel almost dropped the cup of coffee he was sipping on, stunned when Gourry spoke. Regathering himself, he set the cup down and then turned to Gourry.
"Why do you ask?"
"I don't know, Zel. You just never talk about them. You refer to your mother as 'your mother' and your family as 'your family' but you've never told me their names or anything."
The detective sighed, realizing that Gourry was right. He knew his relationship was strained with his family, but until Gourry stated the previous point, he didn't realize how strained.
"My mother, Dr. Matsudara is a hemotologist who is married to her work and nothing else. She's had four failed marriages, her fourth just being finalized in court as we speak. My father died in the service of his country, that would be her first husband. He died of a rare blood poisoning after a gun wound. My mother vowed to never let it happen to and she ended up becoming obsessed with her work. My half brother Mamoru Kusangi is from my mother's second marriage. He's maybe a year or so younger than you, Gourry. He's lazy and hasn't held a real job in four years. His girlfriend, Momiji Fujimiya is somewhat of an air head, but generally a good kid at heart."
Gourry nodded a bit and then turned a little more to face Zel.
"But, will they like me?"
Zel looked down at his hands and then up at Gourry.
"I think Mamoru and Momiji will."
"But, not your mother."
"I really can't say..."
"You're avoiding the question, Zel."
The chimera closed his eyes for a brief moment and then opened them, looking directly at Gourry.
"She still has the picture of Nanami and me up on her piano, hoping in some vague way that we'll get back together."
The blonde sighed, and looked out the window again.
"Maybe I should have stayed in Worthing with Utena and Touga."
Gourry was stunned by the sudden forcefulness in Zel's voice and turned to stare at him. He had said is so loud, that it had caught the attention of some of the other passengers.
The chimera coughed at his sudden outburst and then quickly lowered his voice.
"You are my lover, and I'll be damned if we're going to be seperated during Christmas. Look, I might not be a real festive guy, but I do like this holiday and I want to be able to share it with you." Zel stated softly, taking Gourry's hand in his.
The blonde nodded, offering Zel a touch more realistic smile. He could feel the plane beginning to make it's descent as the attendant came on and announced they would be landing in ten minutes and other miscellaneous instructions. Turning back to the blue skys, Gourry sighed.
"In least someone likes Christmas out of the both of us." he thought sadly to himself.
Zelgadiss would never openly admit that he liked St. Martin's Bay for fear that his mother would pester him about staying and getting a job there.
When Gourry and him had left Worthing, it was 23 degrees. St. Martin's Bay was reading at a pleasant 69, and Zel slung his jacket over his shoulder, enjoying the heat on his skin. Sure, St. Martin's Bay got hot during the summer, but nothing compared to the Worthing weather extremes.
Gourry stood beside Zel, pulling back his long mane of gold into a low ponytail. Zel absently frowned a bit. He never could tell Gourry that he hated when the blonde wore his hair back, but it was warm and Gourry ws probably feeling the heat and weight of his hair.
"I'll just make sure I take it down tonight and mess it up really good." Zel thought to himself with a smirk.
"So, this is Christmas Eve Day in St. Martin's Bay, huh?"
Zel nodded at Gourry.
"The coldest it's ever gotten here might be 40 degrees and everyone thought the world was coming to an end." Zel couldn't help but laugh.
Gourry nodded and smiled a bit more, which relieved Zelgadiss of some building tenseness in his neck.
"Maybe he will be all right." he told himself silently.
The low, loud voice came echoing through the small airport and Zel couldn't help but groan. Gourry, a bit confused, turned to see a tall young man, with slightly orange tinted skin, green messy short hair, and cat eyes approaching he and Zel. Holding tightly to his arm was a young woman with long light brown hair pulled back in a pony tail and big blue eyes.
"Gourry, that is my half brother Mamoru and his girlfriend Momiji." Zel said softly.
Mamoru stopped in front of Zel and immediately began to ruffle his wire hair.
"Still as short as ever, bro."
"Mamoru, leave my hair alone and might I remind you that I am older than you.
"Yah, well not by much. Besides, I got the looks in this family."
Zel grumbled and threw Mamoru his carry on bag.
"Take this and Gourry's bag. We've still got to go to luggage pick up."
"Oooh, you've only been here for four minutes and you're already bossing me around?" Mamoru said flatly.
Gourry shifted uneasily, already not liking the banter that was occurring. He could feel the tenseness between the two siblings without them even saying anything.
"Excuse me, you must be Mamoru Kusanagi." Gourry quietly spoke up, wanting to break the tension.
Mamoru turned and looked appraisingly at Gourry.
"So your Zel's new blonde, huh? Well, in least he's tall."
Gourry unconciously flinched, and Zel all but lunged on Mamoru right then, until Momiji intervened.
"It's nice meeting you, Gourry. Zel has told us a lot about you from the occassional letters and phone calls he sends and gives us."
Gourry smiled a bit and nodded.
"You must be Momiji Fujimiya."
"Yah, that's me! Zel told us that you're a dancer! Could you teach me?"
Gourry nodded a bit.
"I suppose I could."
Momiji latched onto Gourry's arm, pulling him along to the luggage claims area, Zel and Mamoru following behind them.
"Hey, you didn't tell me was that good looking. Momiji is going to be all over him like a bee to honey." the cat eyed man growled softly at Zel.
"Get over it Mamoru, he's definitely not going to go running off with her."
"There you are with your all high and mighty self assurance again."
"Oh, just shut up."
Gourry was trying to ignore the definite bitter banter of the two men behind him and listen to Momiji at the same time. She was chattering about her high school, Mamoru, her mother, and how much she wanted to be a great star some day.
"She reminds me of Filia in so many ways..." Gourry thought to himself, a tear coming to his eye, which he quickly wiped away before anyone could notice.
The car ride had been less than pleasant to the Matsudara household. Mamoru had only brought his two seat little sports car and trying to fit four in, especially tall Gourry, had been an adventure with the luggage to boot.
But, they had arrived in one very irritable piece. Zelgadiss almost fell out of the car, and had to help Gourry out of the small confines. The blonde looked up and his mouth opened slightly at the building in front of him.
It was a large, elaborate, Victorian styled mansion, with huge marble pillars and a staircase that led up to the front doors. Each window was inlaid with a Christmas wreath, and the colorization complemented the light mauve color of the outside walls.
"Z-zel, you didn't tell me you lived here!"
"I don't." the detective responded flatly. "My mother makes a lot of money doing what she does. When she left Worthing to move to St. Martin's Bay, she had this house mansion built. Personally, I think it's even too rich for my tastes."
"That's because you're ~so~ pious, bro." Mamoru stated flatly before pulling out more of Gourry and his bags.
The chimera clenched his fists.
"Can you get the luggage Mamoru, or should I just stack them on top of your flat head?"
The arigami looked as though he was about to lunge at Zelgadiss when Momiji and Gourry both intervened.
"Zel, why don't you show me around your place?"
"Or better yet, Zelgadiss, why don't you see your mother and I'll show Gourry around."
Upon hearing the words, "see your mother," Zel almost stopped in his tracks.
"That's all right, Momiji, I'll be glad to show Gourry around the..."
Before Zel could finish, he looked up the steps to see a still young looking woman coming down them. Her dark hair was pulled back in a tight bun and her dark, almost black eyes shimmered a bit in the sun. She was dressed in a simple pants suit and descended the marble staircase to meet to quartet.
"Hello, Dr. Matsudara!" Momiji waved to the woman.
"This is your mother?" Gourry whispered, his voice indicating his surprise.
"Yah, that's my mother. You seemed shocked." Zelgadiss whispered back.
"I just expected her to look older."
"Science can be used for other things too..."
"Oh..." Gourry said softly and nodded.
The woman stopped in front of Zelgadiss, Gourry, Momiji, and the approaching Mamoru.
"Welcome home, Zel."
Gourry almost flinched at the flat way that Zel greeted his parent. He reached down and took Zel's hand with his. Matsudara glanced down at their combined hands.
"And you must be Gourry Gabriev. My son has told me a lot about you on the occassions that he writes or calls from his ~demanding~ schedule he keeps."
Gourry swallowed nervously and nodded.
"Yes, Dr. Matsudara, that's me."
"Well, I'm sure once you get to know us, we won't be as horrific as Zelgadiss makes us out to be."
Gourry could feel Zel's hand tighten around his, a strained pressure that Gourry was afraid would explode.
"Well, don't just stand out here, the weather report said that it's supposed to lightly rain. Momiji and Mamoru, why don't you show Zel and Gourry their rooms?"
"Rooms?" Zel immediately shot back.
"Well, certainly. I assume that you two will be sleeping in seperate quarters?"
"No, mother, we won't be." Zel said in a dangerously low tone.
Matsudara's eyes narrowed and then she glanced up.
"Fine then, Mamoru, show them to...their room."
Matsudara faultered when she said the last two words, and Gourry could feel his chest tighten. He knew they were only going to be in St. Martin's Bay for today and tomorrow, but if this was an indication on how thing were going to be, he knew he would have rather stayed in frigid Worthing.
Following the scientist, the quartet quietly went through the large doors to the inside of the Matusdara household.
~It feels empty...~
Gourry couldn't help the chill that crept up his back as Momiji showed him room to room, chattering happily about anything she knew about each room.
The blonde was grateful for the young woman, as she seemed to ease the obvious tension in the mansion, and was also a bit of a bright spot for Gourry. Zelgadiss had been less than pleasant the past hour or so, and Gourry knew better than to push any buttons. The detective was one step short of having it out with his mother and half brother already.
"Why, Zel? Why couldn't you have found a nice ~girl?~" Matsudara questioned her son as she added a little more salt to the oyster stew they always had on Christmas Eve.
"Why are you having such a hard time dealing with this, Mother?" Zel quipped back.
"Well, when you were with Nanami..."
"I am NOT with Nanami any more, Mother. I haven't been with her for two years. When are you going to realize that?!" Zel stated loudly.
"Well, you never tried to make it work!"
"~I~ never tried? Excuse me, Mother, but I think I was the one who tried to fix things. She's the one who had the affair."
Matsudara began to stir the stew almost furiously.
"But a man, Zel..."
"What's the difference? I love him more than I ever loved Nanami."
"It's not natural!!"
"You're just trying to find a replacement for Nanami..."
Matsudara's words trailed off as she saw Gourry and Momiji standing at the doorway. Zelgadiss immediately saw the look on Gourry's face and everything in him shattered.
"I'm...I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt..." Gourry barely whispered and quickly turned away, heading quickly to the staircase that lead to Zel and his room.
Momiji stared at the two, her mouth open.
"What is with you two? I can't believe the way you two fight!! Gourry just gets here and you're already making it hell for him?! No wonder I don't invite my mother to come and visit!" Momiji exploded.
Mamoru came into the kitchen, hearing the melee from the study and planning on intervening.
"What the hell is going on here?" he demanded.
"Oh, Zel and Dr. Matsudara were having another of their relationship fights again. You know how homophobic she is."
"That is not true, Momiji and how dare you say such a thing!" Matsudara shot back.
"Well, if it wasn't true, why can't you deal with me being with him, Mother?"
"This has nothing to do with him."
"You're wrong, Dr. Matsudara, you're still upset that you never got the dream wedding for Nanami and Zel."
"You're out of your line, young lady!" she shot back at Momiji.
"Mom, you have no right talking to her like that!" Mamoru shot back.
"JUST SHUT UP, ALL OF YOU!!!"
Stunned into silence, the quartet turned around to see Gourry standing in the entry way, his face streaked with tears.
"Gourry..." Zel could barely whisper.
"Just shut up..." he choked out. "Look at all of you. Fighting over such stupid things. I would kill to be able to even have a family to talk too. All of you have each other, and all you do is find reasons to fight. Well, here's a news flash. I don't have a family...and I was hoping to find a family in all of you...But I can see now...I don't want one..."
Zelgadiss swallowed back the lump that had formed in his throat. He glanced over to his mother, who was all but avoiding looking up and then at Mamoru and Momiji. Mamoru was blushing furiously and Momiji had started to cry.
"I'm going to my room...I'll be leaving on the next flight out. Obviously, I'm too much of a strain on all of you." Gourry whispered and then turned again, quickly running up the stairs again.
Zelgadiss couldn't speak, couldn't think. Everything in his whole life seemed to crash around him when Gourry said he would be leaving. Would he be waiting in Worthing if he left? Or would Zelgadiss come home to an empty apartment?
Slowly, picking his words carefully, Zel spoke.
"I'm not going to let him leave, Mother. I am sorry if you don't approve of him. But, I love him. I have loved him since I met him. He's right. We get together only once every other year and we spend the whole two days fighting. He didn't want to come, he wanted to stay in Worthing. But he came because I asked him too. Now, I might be losing him. Mother, I can't be everything you want me to be. I try my best and I really am sorry if it's not good enough..."
The older woman had said nothing the whole time, but looked quietly up at Zelgadiss, the tears obvious in her eyes.
"I've always been proud of you Zelgadiss. I have. It's just...I know times are changing and relationships change. I see your brother with a girl, and I think how I wanted to have grandkids that came from you. But, I also know that you're happier than you ever have been. Forgive me, it's just old habits are hard to break."
Zel swallowed, and ever so slowly, he reached out and hugged his mother. He couldn't remember the last time that he had ever actually held his mother since he was a child.
Matsudara finally broke, crying softly into her son's shoulder.
"I do love you, son....I'm so sorry if I've ruined everything between you and Gourry..."
"No, Mother, I'm sorry too...I helped in all of this...But, there's nothing saying we can't make it right."
Mamoru had been silent the whole time, Momiji burying her face in his chest to stop her own tears from being shown.
"Zel, he's upstairs...Get to him before he decides to actually leave. I know you love him. Hey, bro, you've always been my hero. Don't let me down now."
Zelgadiss looked at Mamoru, tears in his eyes.
"A...hero..." Mamoru said very softly. "You went out and did everything I know I couldn't. So, don't let me down. Save him before you lose him."
Hesitantly leaving his mother's embrace, Zelgadiss hugged Mamoru hard and then kissed Momiji on the cheek.
"Thank you..." he whispered to the three and quickly made his way up the steps.
Mamoru looked at his mother as she slowly raised her eyes to his.
"What now, son?" she whispered.
"Now, we learn to heal..." he whispered back before taking her and Momiji into his arms.
Zelgadiss didn't knock, only opened the door quietly. Gourry was sitting on the small window seat, staring out at the palm trees swaying the evening breeze. The sun was almost completely descended and Gourry held in his hand a small lit candle. If he had noticed Zelgadiss come in, he made no motion to indicate.
"Gourry?" Zel barely whispered.
Th blonde glanced slightly over his shoulder and then turned to look at the chimera.
The detective took a brief moment to shut the door quietly and then locked it.
"What are you doing?"
"What do you mean?"
Zel approached and Gourry moved his leg so the other man could sit down on the seat.
"Oh...Well, it's something that my family did every year. On Christmas Eve, we'd light a single candle and pass it between each other, making a wish for the next day. Filia and I did it up until..."
Gourry lowered his eyes, biting his lip. Zelgadiss swallowed back his own emotions.
"Wh-what did you wish for?" he barely managed to ask.
"The same thing I still wish for. Tonight Zel...tonight was the night my parents were killed."
Zelgadiss's mouth fell open and he couldn't find the words then.
"G-gourry...I didn't...I mean..."
"It's okay, Zel. I know I didn't tell you. It's just too hard for me to think about some times. But, I wish for the same thing I always do. You see, up until my parents died, it always snowed in Worthing. After their deaths, it never snowed once. It gets cold, but it never snows."
Zelgadiss began to unconciously figure out how old Gourry was in comparison to the last time it snowed. A shiver ran up his spine as he realized that Gourry was in fact correct. It had started raining in Worthing after that fateful year, but never snowing.
"So, I hold the candle and wish for snow. It doesn't make much sense here, I know...But, it's the last thing I really can say I have of my family other than my music box... I envy you, Zel. I'm sorry for my outburst down there...I mean, it's not my place to mess with your family..."
That was all it took to break Zelgadiss. Sobbing softly, something very uncharacteristic of the somewhat stoic detective, he pulled Gourry against him. The young man barely had time to get the candle out of the way.
"No, no apologizing, Gourry. I should be the one saying I'm sorry. I drag you to the other side of the nation and all you meet up with is squabbling. You showed my family something we had forgotten. That we can still talk without hurting each other's feelings. Thank you for that. Please, please don't go back to Worthing. I can't think of being without you now or any time."
"Oh, Zel...I couldn't leave even though I wanted too...You're my family...you're my lover...and you're my life..."
Zelgadiss caught Gourry's face between his hands.
"I love you. I know I don't say it a lot..."
"I love you too..."
Gourry blew out the small candle and Zel pulled him into a deep kiss. Neither took the real lead, and they were soon fumbling in bed, ridding each other of their clothes, whispering words of endearment and need.
Zelgadiss slipped out of their bed silently, padding softly to the window seat. It was about 3 a.m. in the morning. He knew that he and Gourry had missed the traditional Oyster Stew eat of Christmas Eve, but he figured after what had happened, his family would understand.
He had made love to Gourry continually until the blonde had finally fallen asleep. He glanced over his shoulder to see Gourry murmur his name and pull the sheets tighter around him.
The chimera stared out of the window, making out the palm trees slightly in the dark. Looking down, he saw the small candle that Gourry had lit last night. Picking it up, Zel found the book of matches next to the window seat. Striking it, he lit the candle and sat down quietly.
"Okay...I'm a little new at this, so bear with me here." He thought silently to himself. "Look, I'm not a real religious man, but I do know there's someone or something out there. Any ways, I don't know who I should be talking to here, but I want to make a wish. It's not for me, but it's for the one I love. Please, and stupid as it may seem, let Gourry have a sign that his family is still here with him. Anything, I don't care what it is...Please, just let him have faith...please..."
Zel watched as one of his own tears struck the candle's flame and slowly the light went out, dimming the room again.
"BRO, GET UP!!!! I THINK YOU'RE BOYFRIEND AND THE WHOLE WORLD HAS WENT NUTS!!!"
Zelgadiss flew out of bed, landing hard on the floor. He groaned and then blinked away the morning light coming through...
"...frosted...windows?..." Zel stared at the icy coated panes of the large window in the room.
Springing to his feet, Zelgadiss quickly undid the lock and flew open the door. Staring at his half brother, Mamoru was coated with something that looked like...
"Bro, it's snowing out!!! It's snowing in St. Martin's Bay and your boyfriend it standing in the middle of it in only his button up shirt!!"
"It can't be...How did...But...Thank you to whatever or whoever did this!!" Zel shouted and slipped past Mamoru, almost sliding down the staircase.
"Did what? Who did what? You, bro, wait up!!" Mamoru yelled, following his half brother.
Zelgadiss almost ran into Momiji and Matsudara as he headed for the front door.
"Zel, it's snowing!! Not just a little bit, I mean it's snowing!!!" Momiji shrieked in excitement.
The chimera could only nod and then looked at his mother, quickly kissing her on the cheek.
"Mom?" Matsudara touched her cheek and then turned to watch her son bolt out the front door.
Zelgadiss stopped on the third step down, his breath taken away as he watched Gourry standing in the middle of the fountain area, wearing only his button up shirt. His golden hair swayed back and forth as he twirled and slid across the snow coated cement, his hair catching the flakes and glittering in the slight rays of sun coming through the clouds.
"Gourry..." the detective said quietly.
The golden haired young man turned to look at Zel, his cheeks red and streaked from tears and from the chill of the snow. But, he was smiling and it was one of the most beautiful smiles Zelgadiss could ever remember him with.
"I don't know how, Zel...I don't know who did it...But I know you had something to do with it...thank you..." the blonde said softly to the chimera.
Zel paused for a moment, taking in the sight of his lover, and then quickly ran down the steps, only wearing his sweatpants, and threw himself at Gourry, his arms coming tightly around the other man's waist, before lifting the blonde off the ground. Gourry laughed out loud, a real laugh, and leaned down, bending his torso to kiss Zel's lips.
"Hey, guys, you're going to freeze to death!!" Momiji shouted gleefully as she came running down the steps, only clad in her pajamas and kitty printed slippers.
"Momiji, you need a coat!" Mamoru shouted as he followed, only wearing his blue sweatpants.
At the top of the steps, Matsudara watched the four young people playing in the snow. She smiled, though tears still slid down her face.
"Thank you...I don't know who I should thank, but thank you for small miracles."
"Mom, come and join us!" Mamoru shouted.
The normally stern woman nodded and pulling her hair out of it's bun, ran down the steps and joined them in the volley of snow balls, and tossed snow.
People were taking their seats on the plane, avidly chattering about the bizarre snow fall that had occured in St. Martin's Bay on Christmas Day. The snow had already melted today, but even the weather people were completely confused about it.
Gourry sneezed for the fourth time since they had boarded the plane. He should have been cursing himself for getting a cold, but after what had happened yesterday morning, it was the best cold that he had ever caught.
Zel patted Gourry's hand gently and then pulled out a small card from his coat.
"What's that?" Gourry asked softly through his sniffles.
"Something my family gave me. They said we weren't supposed to open it up until we were on the plane. Since we're on the plane, I guess we can now."
Gourry nodded, his curiosity evident as Zel tore open the top of red envelope. He pulled out a snowflake printed card. It immediately brought a smile to Gourry's face. Opening the card, a small piece of paper fell out. Zel picked it up and read it softly to Gourry.
"My dearest boys,
I can say that now, because I know it now to be true. This Christmas helped remind all of us of what was important. I realize that the healing has just begun, but it's a start. Zel, I want you to know that I am proud of you and that even though it is taking me some getting used too, I really do think you and Gourry are right for each other. Gourry, you've proven more than your worth and have shown us all that Christmas is something more than store bought packages and petty arguements. I hope that I too can return this gift to you too. I love you both, as well as Mamoru and Momiji. Love, Mom."
Zel folded the letter and then smiled at Gourry, who rested his head on Zel's shoulder as the plane taxied down the runway once again.
"Merry Christmas, Zel."
"Merry Christmas, Gourry."
Back to Worthing or Back to the Secret Garden?