Twelve Months Is A Year

Month 2 -- September

© 2007 by AuroraExecution

This page was last modified: 2007/12/12


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"Remind me again why I'm here?" Deathmask demanded of Aiolia. The lion grinned.

"You agreed to help me, dear crab."

"And remind me again why I did that?"

"I don't know. You were the one who agreed," replied Aiolia with a shrug. The two Gold Saints were standing near the entrance of the Sagittarius temple, waiting for Aiolos to come out for a walk with them. According to the plan, a mass effort by a combination of Aiolia, Marin, Aphrodite, and Milo, the Saints involved would attempt to push Aiolos and Aiolia's former assistant Lithos together by various devious means. At the moment, Marin and Shaina were attempting to find Lithos and bring her back to the zodiacal temples, while Aiolia and Deathmask were trying to coax Aiolos to come outside.

Unfortunately, Aiolos seemed to know they were up to no good and absolutely refused to come out of his temple. "Please, 'Los?" Aiolia begged through the entranceway.

"No."

"Ai-o-lo-os," whined the Leo Saint.

"Aiolia, which part of 'no' is difficult to understand?"

"But...but...I'm your little brother." He pretended to sniffle. A sigh came from within Sagittarius temple.

"Aiolia, you are an adult—moreover, you are a Saint of Athena. If the fact that your brother refuses to come walk with you is going to give you a nervous breakdown, then I am sincerely worried for Athena's future."

Outside the temple, Aiolia cursed. "Damn it...Deathmask, do something."

"What do you want me to do? I don't think your brother likes me better than he likes you." Aiolia did not reply, but simply gave his neighbor a dewy-eyed look. The Cancer Saint scowled, but at the same time muttered, "Go find Marin and Shaina, and tell them to bring Lithos here instead of to the meeting point. Aiolos might come out of his temple, but he's not going to move very far."

"What?" demanded a confused Leo Saint.

"Do you want me to help you or not?"

"All right, I'm going," said Aiolia before running towards Scorpio. As soon as Aiolia was out of sight, a faintly devious gleam appeared in Deathmask's eyes.

Aiolia had hoped to find Marin and Shaina without Lithos, but he seemed to be having a particularly unlucky day. Just as he walked out of Mu's temple, he saw Marin and Shaina coaxing his former assistant to visit Aiolia with them.

"Hi, ladies," he muttered, at a loss for what else he could say. Shaina gave him a what-the-hell-are-you-doing-here look. "Haven't seen you in a while, Lithos," he continued sheepishly, unable to explain his motives to the other two females.

"Aiolia!" the girl cried, wrapping her mentor in a large hug. "You look awesome!"

"Uh, thanks?" replied the Leo Saint. Lithos giggled.

"Marin and Shaina were telling me to go visit you, but I didn't want to bother you or anything." Aiolia smiled.

"Oh, you're not bothering me. Actually, I know who else would be delighted to see you. Why don't we all visit Aphrodite?" Aiolia suggested casually, earning even more confusion from Marin and Shaina. However, the statement was not too far off track, as the Pisces Saint had formed an unlikely bond with Lithos.

"All right!" agreed Lithos quickly.

As they left the steps of Aries temple, Marin moved back to fall in step with Aiolia. "What happened?" she murmured quietly, "I thought we were meeting in your temple."

"Aiolos wouldn't come out. Deathmask told me to bring her to Sagittarius, so I had to find something to say."

"Deathmask? What is he trying to do?"

"He said he'd get Aiolos out, but Aiolos is probably not going to move very far from his temple."

"What is he doing to your brother?"

"I'm not sure I want to know."

Soon, the party reached Scorpio temple, where Milo smirked in their direction with a knowing wink that Lithos seemed to miss. Just as they reached the front of Sagittarius, a series of yelps could be heard emanating from the temple, and soon a very flustered Aiolos came charging out the entrance straight into the others. Mostly into Lithos. Aiolos paused, collected himself, and backed away a little with a furiously red face.

"Um. 'Scuse me. Hi, Lithos. Hi, guys."

"Is something wrong, Aiolos?" Lithos asked anxiously.

"Oh. No. Nothing." He blushed a little more.

"Are you sure?" said Aiolia, "I better go check it out." The Leo Saint took this opportunity to duck into the temple and figure out what Deathmask had been doing.

He ran into the Cancer Saint halfway through the temple.

"Did it work?" was the first thing Deathmask said, upon seeing Aiolia.

"Yes, but...what did you do?" Deathmask smirked.

"Nothing you need to know." Aiolia sighed.

* * *

Half an hour later, Marin, Shaina, Aiolia, and Deathmask left Sagittarius, having finally convinced Lithos and Aiolos that the two of them did not need to be chaperoned by the other four. Arm in arm, Marin and Aiolia veered off into Leo, leaving Shaina and Deathmask to walk on in uncomfortable silence.

The lack of communication continued all the way into Cancer. Finally, Shaina stopped and broke the silence. "Why are you still following me?" she demanded, slight hostility apparent in her voice.

Deathmask looked around. They had reached the entrance of Cancer temple, and were about to continue down to Gemini. Why had he kept walking, anyway? "Dunno," he told Shaina. "Guess I'll stop." And he simply stood at the doorway and watched her.

"What did you do to Aiolos anyway?"

"Let loose a whole family of spiders at the back entrance of his temple." The uncomfortable silence returned for a minute.

"All right. I'm going. You better not stalk me or anything." He sneered a little.

"Like I'd want to." Shaina shrugged.

"If you say so."

It took him a second to realize she had left without taking his bait.

* * *

Deathmask was sullenly kicking his wall again. What was with this woman, making him destroy architecture all the time? Why was he even pissed off, anyway? Absolutely nothing had happened in the past two weeks, really.

"Deathmask?" a pretty feminine voice called. His head jerked up in excitement, but quickly bent back down again when he realized it was just Aphrodite. The Cancer Saint gave his wall a couple more kicks, just for good measure. "What are you doing, Angelo?" Aphrodite demanded sternly. "Stop that, it's bad for your wall."

"Don't care."

"Aw, what's wrong? Miss your girlfriend?"

"No." Deathmask let himself sink even deeper into his sulk, since Aphrodite was partly correct, and that fact annoyed the Cancer Saint immensely.

"What has been up with you two lately, anyway?" continued Aphrodite nonchalantly. "I haven't seen her fight with you for a long time."

"None of your business, she-man." Aphrodite pretended to be shocked.

"Angelo! That was unkind of you."

"Still don't care." The Pisces Saint sighed.

"I'll be back later."

Approximately ten minutes after Aphrodite departed, Milo passed through Cancer on his way back from the training grounds. "Hey, Deathmask!" the Scorpio called cheerfully.

"What do you want?" Deathmask snarled in return.

"My, aren't we antisocial today? What's the matter, you missing Shaina or something?" Deathmask wondered why everyone was asking him that today. Maybe they were all in league.

"No," he told Milo, who grinned cheekily.

"Right. See you."

Almost fifteen minutes later, Aiolia passed through. "Hi," said the Leo Saint. Deathmask growled incomprehensibly. "Uh...is something wrong? Do you want me to get Shaina for you?" Deathmask cursed life in general and nosy people in particular.

"No."

"Do you want—?"

"Just leave me alone, thank you."

"Ok."

About five minutes later, Mu walked by. "Hello, Deathmask," the Aries Saint murmured serenely. Deathmask raised his eyebrows.

"Why is everyone being so genial to me today?" Mu looked mock-wounded.

"I'm genial to you every day." Deathmask rolled his eyes.

"Ok, yes. But not everyone who passes by is that nice."

"Well, you are in a very bad mood today, and none of us really want to die all that much." Mu smiled. "But if you've had a fight with Shaina or something, any of us would be glad to help you two talk it out." Deathmask's eye ticked a couple times.

"Why does everyone assume it's about Shaina?!" snapped the Cancer Saint irritably.

"Be...cause...it...is?" Mu queried.

"No! It's not!"

"All right. If that's what you say." Mu sauntered out of Cancer.

Ten minutes passed again. Deathmask had finally convinced himself to stop kicking his temple before it collapsed on him, and found a book. He attempted to read, but mostly found himself staring blankly at it for long periods of time. Shaka entered the temple. "Good day," said the blond Buddha.

"No, it's actually a very, very bad day." Shaka smiled slightly.

"That's all right. As long as you follow the flow of nature, things will eventually return to their best state, and all your problems will be solved one way or another. And, of course, if you want someone to help you talk to Shaina, just ask anyone."

"Why do you all think it has to do with her?"

"She's your girlfriend, isn't she? And anyway, everyone has been saying it."

"Oh, great," Deathmask retorted, rolling his eyes.

"Good day, Deathmask," Shaka said, walking towards the exit. Before the Cancer Saint could protest, Shaka added, "Because I am very sure that it is about to turn into a very, very good day indeed." Deathmask glared around himself in circles, wondering why everyone was walking through his temples and asking the same things.

After five more minutes of staring at the book, Deathmask was vaguely aware of Camus walking into his temple. The Aquarius Saint was silent as he passed by, and Deathmask waited for the inevitable.

When Camus still had not said anything by the time he was past Deathmask's seat, the Cancer Saint grew impatient. "So?" he demanded of his fellow Saint.

"So...?" demanded Camus curiously, stopping and looking over at Deathmask.

"Aren't you going to say it?"

"Say...what?"

"Ask what's going on with me, like everyone else."

"Well, I wasn't going to, but sure. What's going on with you?" Deathmask rolled his eyes again.

"Everyone keeps being nice to me today."

"Isn't that a good thing?"

"But...people aren't usually nice to me! This is just weird!"

"Yes, but...isn't that a good thing?" Camus repeated.

"And then, everyone's been saying it has to do with Shaina! How does everybody know this?" Deathmask continued ranting, seemingly oblivious to Camus's deadpan comments.

"Because everyone's been talking about it? Never mind that she's your girlfriend."

"And seriously. Why is everyone walking through my temple today?"

"Everyone walks through your temple everyday. You just don't notice 'cause they usually don't all talk to you about Shaina." Camus glanced back at the entrance. "Look, I'd love to keep talking, but I really do have to continue off to my meeting with Shion. I'll give you a rain check for this." Deathmask nodded, and Camus headed on through Cancer.

Nearly as soon as Camus left, Marin came walking hurriedly past. She did not seem to notice Deathmask's presence until she passed him by a few steps, when she froze still and seemed to remember something important. Upon seeing Deathmask staring at her from his seat, she called, "Oh! Deathmask! I'm supposed to tell you—Shaina says she's coming down here." Deathmask gaped, unable to respond. "Don't be too cruel to her, eh?" Marin winked and continued merrily on her way.

After several long minutes, Deathmask heard footsteps approaching his temple, but the sound soon stopped. He waited on tenterhooks for a while. When nothing happened, Deathmask edged unsurely to the front entrance and moved slowly out from the shadows.

Shaina was standing on his front step.

"Hi, Shaina," he said, awkwardly scratching the back of his head with one hand. She gawked at him for a moment. "What?!" he finally growled, annoyed at himself for being anything close to personable.

"You..." Shaina attempted to make sense of the fact that Deathmask had not only just greeted her, he had called her by her name instead of "bitch" or "whore" or some such.

"Never mind," he interrupted quickly, as he turned to go back into his temple. "Coming?" he called back to her. After a few seconds of what he assumed was hesitation, Shaina's footsteps followed him as he returned to the nether parts of his temple.

There was more silence as he sat down and returned to staring at his now-closed book. Shaina sat down next to him on another chair. After a while, Deathmask finally spoke up. "Hey, Shaina?"

"Yes?" she replied. Deathmask wondered why she hadn't just started cursing at him.

"Could you...uh...come visit more often?"

"What?"

"You know...like you used to?"

"You—what the hell is wrong with you?! You asked me to stop coming to your temple, so I haven't! And now you want me to come again? What's wrong with you?" Deathmask felt his anger rise, and yet, he felt like he enjoyed this.

"What's wrong with me?" he repeated back, "What's wrong with you, bitch?"

"What do you mean, what's wrong with me?" Shaina scoffed indignantly.

"You're no fun anymore!"

"Fun?!" the woman fumed, "You're one to talk! When has our relationship ever been fun?"

"It's more fun like this!" Deathmask shouted back, "You were at least fun to argue with until you started avoiding any arguments I started!"

"You son-of-a-bitch! I was trying to be nice to you! I thought it would make the time go faster if we were at least civil!"

"No! It doesn't! And why the hell did you want to be nice to me anyway?"

"Marin said..." Shaina's voice grew quiet. "...that you weren't so bad all the time. She said if I tried to be nice to you, then you would be tolerable, and it would make things easier."

"Me?" Deathmask demanded huffily, "Not so bad? Tolerable?" He shook his head. "Uh-uh. I am not nice. Ever."

"You helped out with the Lithos-Aiolos thing," Shaina pointed out.

"Yes, but, still. I am not nice. I am sarcastic and evil and sadistic. And while we're on this subject, so are you."

"What?!"

"You are not a 'nice' type of person, Shaina! Whenever you try to be polite and kind and gentle, it just seems affected and unnatural! And it's damn boring when you never get mad at me or scream at me!"

"You like me fighting with you?" demanded Shaina incredulously. "I thought that was why we stopped the visits." Deathmask considered this for a moment—but only a moment—before answering.

"Yes, all right? At least I'm a little less pissy when we argue. Maybe it's cathartic or something." Shaina began giggling at Deathmask suggesting their arguments were cathartic. "What?!" the Cancer Saint shouted.

"Arguing with me is your therapy? No wonder you're screwed up." Shaina continued giggling as Deathmask grumbled.

"Yeah, well. It's who I am," he muttered.

"Well, I'll keep that in mind next time I feel the need to scream at something."

"Thanks."

"And Deathmask?"

"What?"

"While we're talking about politeness, don't call me 'Shaina' all the time. It's kind of weird when you consistently don't call me 'bitch.'" Deathmask grinned.

"Well, if your name annoys you more than 'bitch' does, I may as well just call you 'Shaina' from now on."

"Damn you."

"Damn you, too."

The End of Chapter 2 - To Be Continued


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