Precious Metals

Chapter 8: Decisions, Decisions

© 2008 by DaHaloChick

This page was last modified: 2008/08/08

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"Hey Roxy, can we talk?"

Roxohnda looked at Oscar thoughtfully. He had seemed as if he had something on his mind ever since they had landed in France. She had assumed he was worried about Athena's safety, but their Goddess had gone to bed and Apphia was on guard. While she was known for making trouble around Sanctuary, she was just as loyal as them, and they both knew Athena was safe in Apphia's care. "Sure, Oscar."

He led her to the balcony of the penthouse suite the five of them were staying in. The sky was filled with the blue and orange hues of a French sunset, the darkest parts already adorned with stars. Roxohnda smiled at the sight, thankful for the peaceful scene.

Oscar watched her intently, a smile coming to his face. "I haven't seen you this serene in a while." Roxohnda looked at him, unsure of what to say to that. His smile fell. "Roxohnda, please be honest with me. You haven't been yourself lately. Does this have to do with Milo?"

Roxy looked down. She hadn't spoken to anyone about her issues with Milo, and she was unsure of whether she wanted to. However, Oscar was a close friend, she trusted him, and they were alone for the moment. "Yes, it does."

He frowned. "Tell me what's going on, Roxy, please."

"Well," she began, "after the whole issue at the bar, he sent me a letter asking me to come to his place. I decided to go and hear him out, and he was genuinely sorry about it. He told me that he cares about me, but he's in love with someone else."

"Someone else?" Oscar didn't expect that. "Who?"

She looked at him sadly. "Shaina."

Oh, you bastard…Oscar felt his blood begin to boil. "He told me that he didn't want a relationship with me, that between his obvious flaws with his women skills and his feelings for Shaina, he wanted to just be my friend rather than lead me on or do something he knew would hurt me. I respected that, and I agreed."

Oscar looked out at the sky. "It didn't work, did it?"

Roxohnda bit her lip. "It did, for a while. We did a lot of stuff together, just the two of us, and got to know each other. He really is a great guy…it's really all my fault."

Oscar raised an eyebrow. "How?"

She looked down. "I fell for him. That is, I think I'm falling for him. I liked him more as I got to know him, but I never said anything, so he never refrained from hitting on women like he did in front of me. He doesn't know how I feel, so how can he know that he's hurting my feelings, you know? And then…"

Oscar moved closer. "And then what, Roxy?"

She looked at him. "Last night, coming home from the bar, I ran into DeathMask, the gold Cancer saint. He tried to convince me to date Milo, but I figured out that he was just doing it to try and get him away from Shaina. They both confronted me last night, telling me he is no good and to not even bother, but I know he's a great guy, I know him better than that." She turned her head away from him. "It's just…confusing."

Oscar put his hands on Roxohnda's shoulders, prompting her to look at him. "Roxohnda, this may sound…out of the blue, but please, hear me out. You don't deserve this. You're an amazing woman. You're a great warrior, intelligent, funny…" He swallowed, looking into her eyes with the utmost seriousness. "I want a chance, Roxohnda. Please, let me show you how a woman like you should be treated."

Roxohnda couldn't hide the surprise on her face. She had planned to spend her time here thinking over her situation with Milo; now a whole other issue had sprung up. "Oscar, I had no idea you felt this way…but I'm still very confused right now, and your friendship is vital to me. I wouldn't want to jeopardize our friendship this way. Please, understand where I'm coming from—"

She gasped when Oscar put a hand to her cheek. "Please, understand where I am coming from. I would never let anything ruin our friendship, Roxy. I just can't stand seeing you like this. Your natural energy is one of the most attractive things about you, and this whole Milo business seems to have robbed you of it." He pulled his hand away and took her hands in his. "Please, can you at least let me take you out to dinner while we're here? No pressure; I just want to show you a good time for one night. Please, Roxy?"

Roxy looked at him, his eyes pleading with her. She was tired mentally, too tired to fight him with logic and going out for a night in France sounded heavenly to her. Why should I let him hold me back from having fun, if he isn't even interested in me?

"I guess going out to dinner wouldn't be so bad."

* * *

"I'm scared, Astreya…"

Seven year old Roxohnda looked up at the Saint as he gazed down at her. "You should be, little one. You are about to enter into a world you know nothing about, but you will learn, and you will adapt."

Roxohnda looked up at the other Saints, who were looking down upon her in more ways than one. She could feel their cosmo through their gazes, practically burning holes through her and making her want to run away and cry. She sniffled.

"Do not cry, Roxohnda," Astreya got onto one knee, putting his hand on her shoulder. "You will regret it if you do. These people are warriors, tried and true. They will tear you apart if you let them." His voice shook slightly. "So many like you have fallen due to such weakness. Do not let the next body that Sanctuary buries be yours."

He spun her around and looked her straight in the eyes. "Showing such emotions is pointless. Work hard, take that emotion and turn it into a tool to use for your training. Take your mask, put it on, and become a warrior for Athena! You want to protect her, don't you?" The young girl nodded. "Then that is what you must do to protect her. If you falter, even for a moment, you will be killed when Athena needs you most. Do not let that happen to yourself. Learn, grow stronger, or perish; it is as simple as that." He gave her a hard look. "That is what being a Saint is; live or die. It's your choice, Roxohnda."

Roxohnda looked at all the Saints glaring down at her, and at the harsh gaze of Astreya. She nodded at him, putting her mask on.

"I will live, Astreya. Just you watch."

Roxohnda opened her eyes to an unfamiliar ceiling. She was so disoriented that it took a few seconds for her to remember where she was.

She sat up, resting her head in her hand. It had been years since she had dreamed of Astreya. Perhaps it was all of the heavy thinking she had been doing before she fell asleep that had been the cause of such an odd dream. In fact, she couldn't even remember when she fell asleep in the first place.

"I have to get some sleep for tomorrow," she said out loud. She laid back down, closing her eyes and shifting to find a comfortable position, trying to simply concentrate on nothing but the darkness.

"You gonna give up yet, girl?"

"Never." Roxohnda fell into an offensive stance, trying to catch her breath. She wasn't sure how long she and this man before her named Gagnir had been trading blows, but she was more than ready to end it. She could feel how badly he wanted the Perseus cloth in each punch and kick he delivered, but she knew that she wanted it more.

They both stood ready to attack, gauging each other with probing glares. Gagnir broke his stance and stood straight as the crowd of Saints watching them began to get rowdy again.

"I don't have time to play around with you, girl. I have to get to training with my new Cloth!" He grinned cockily. "So how about one last hurrah, hmm? One final attack, whoever's left standing takes all."

She smirked. "Fine with me, lunkhead."

He got back into his stance. "Good. You need to learn that women have no place here, anyway!" They both charged simultaneously, putting every bit of their strength and Cosmo into their attacks.

Roxohnda was satisfied when she heard the crunch of her foot meeting the side of Gagnir's head, but cringed at the snapping noise her body made as his foot collided with her midsection. As if in slow motion, both of them flew backwards, repelled by the power of the other's attack.

After watching Gagnir thud to the ground on the opposite side of the arena, she looked down to see where she herself would land. Her eyes widened as she realized a gaping hole in the ground made by a previous attack of Gagnir's was directly in her path.

She screamed as her body smacked into the bottom of the small pit her enemy had created. She stayed there in a haze of pain, wondering if she was even still alive. Her delusions were cut through by her mentor's voice.

"Roxohnda!" Shaina's words carried anger and disappointment with them. "Don't be so pathetic! You told me you wanted this Cloth more than anything! Was that a lie? Are you going to give up after coming this far?"

She couldn't give up. Getting this cloth and using it to fight for Athena had been her goal for almost half of her life. She wanted it so bad she could taste it above the dirt that had intruded her mouth when she landed. She spat, trying to rid herself of the gritty taste before bracing herself with her arms, slowly getting to her feet.

The hole was not that deep, but she could not climb out in her state. She panted, staring at the walls of the man-made pit. She gritted her teeth and growled, flaring her Cosmo as much as she could in her state, then jumped, clearing the depth of the hole.

Roxohnda fell to her knees as she landed on the higher ground, bracing herself again and standing up slowly. She looked up at Saga, who was sitting in his Pope's robes above the arena and staring down at her. She met his eyes with a fiery, powerful look, nodding slightly to him.

He stood up. "Roxohnda is the victor, and is therefore the new Saint of Perseus!"

She turned to Shaina, smiling. She couldn't read her teacher's face, of course, but she could feel the pride coming from her. Roxohnda turned, walking towards Shaina to share her moment of victory with her. She called upon her new Cloth, donning it with pride as many of the crowd cheered for her. She glanced back, seeing several men pulling Gagnir's dead body out of the arena.

She turned back to Shaina, sadness in her eyes. "I did not mean to kill him."

"Do not feel guilty, Roxohnda." Shaina said. "He lost, the Cloth is yours. You both went into this knowing that it was life or death for both of you."

Roxohnda nodded. "Yes…I understand that it is kill-or-be-killed, but this was not my intention."

Shaina put a hand on her shoulder. "You can't hesitate as a Saint, Roxohnda. You must rely on your instincts. To meditate on confusing matters for too long will only make you more confused. You have to have faith in your instincts."

Roxohnda cringed as her sleep was interrupted by a screeching noise. She grumbled as she turned over to bang on the buttons on the alarm clock beside her until it shut off. She sat up and sighed, looking at the rising sun outside and feeling in her bones that it would be another long day for her.

* * *

Milo awoke to the sound of someone walking around his temple. He felt around for the Cosmo, grumbling when he recognized it. He hopped out of bed and sighed when he saw the intruder cooking breakfast in his kitchen. "Kanon, what in Athena's name are you doing in my temple?"

"Making waffles," the Gemini Saint replied casually. "Want one?"

"Sure," he said, not even bothering to push the issue as he sat at his kitchen table. "Why are you here, anyway?"

Kanon set a plate in front of each of them and sat down. "I came for two reasons. First of all, I have no more food in my pantry and I didn't feel like shopping," Milo grumbled at that. "Secondly, I wanted to see how you were doing with Roxohnda."

Milo sighed. "I really don't want to talk about it, but she's off on a mission right now with another Silver Saint who I've been told is interested in her."

Kanon frowned. "That isn't good. What are you going to do about it?"

"I've been trying to figure that out," he admitted. "I'm not sure what to do…he might really make her happy."

"Or, he might not," Kanon pointed out. "What if she's not interested in him? Look, you can't give up. Think about how you really feel about her, Milo. Do you really want to see her with someone else?"

Milo looked down, thinking over all he had been through because to her, how he had changed for the better. His gaze hardened as he looked up at Kanon.

"I'm tired of this back and fourth," he admitted. "I want her, Kanon, and when she gets back, I'm going to tell her once and for all."

Kanon grinned. "You're a Gold Saint, Milo. Why wait?"

The End of Chapter 8 -- Continued in Chapter 9

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