© 2009 by Plantress

This page was last modified: 2009/02/11

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A/N: I've been wanting to write a Aioria/Marin piece for a while now since I love them as a couple. I actually meant to do something more fluffy, because it was near Valentine's Day, but it came out like this. I'm really happy with the way it came out though.

Marin stared out over the sea, letting the salty wind touch her naked face for once. Her mask lay on the ground next to her, as she contemplated the way the sky and water met. Something was going on up in Athena's temple. A stranger had come, a beautiful woman dressed in a dark gown. Her Cosmo had been...powerful. Stronger than anything else Marin had ever felt, save Athena's own. She was certain it was another goddess, one that had come to kill Athena.

She had been in Aries temple when the strange goddess had arrived. It made her uncomfortable to be there. She always felt like an imposter when she played guardian in that place. That was what she was really. Aries wasn't even her birth sign! But there wasn't much of a choice really. There were no Gold Saints to take up the duty and Kiki, the one person who was supposed to legitimately guard this place, was still in training. She hadn't felt comfortable leaving the path to Athena guarded by a trainee, no matter how competent he was. For some reason everyone had listened to her when she had first suggested it. She wasn't sure how she had managed to become the person everyone looked to as a leader, but she was almost grateful that she had been. It meant she had been there when the goddess had arrived.

She remembered staring down the steps at the dark goddess, scared, not of her, but that she wouldn't be able to stop her.

"Stop right there!" she had said, clenching her fist as she stared down at the goddess. Although she knew the stranger couldn't see her face, Marin had the sudden eerie feeling that she could see right through her mask when she looked up, dark eyes resigned.

"Will you let me pass?" the goddess had asked her. Somehow she had heard her, even though she spoke in barely a whisper.

"Who are you?" she had demanded. The goddess had just sighed.

"Does it matter?" she had whispered back. "Please...let me pass. I need to see your goddess."

"No!" Marin knew her duty. "Why should I let you pass?"

"Marin," a gentle voice from behind her had said. She had glanced back, both startled and worried as she realized she hadn't even sensed the gentle but massive Cosmo of her Goddess approaching. "Let her pass."

"I can't do that, Lady Athena," she said. "We don't know her intent and I can't risk putting you in danger! Please leave, so I can..."

"Marin, it's all right," Lady Athena told her gently. "She is a guest. I knew she was coming."

"What?" For a split second, Marin wondered why Lady Athena hadn't warned them, then she realized it wasn't her place to question her Goddess...except when it came to her safety. "I'm sorry, Lady Athena, but I can't allow that. It's my duty to keep you safe."

"You would question the orders of your Goddess?" Lady Athena's eyes had flashed and she had almost backed down, but she had a duty. After everything that had happened, after everything the Gold Saints had given, after everything he had given, she couldn't let her Goddess risk her own safety.

"I will keep you safe," she had replied. Athena had looked stern and Marin had braced herself for a scolding, but then her Goddess' eyes had gentled.

"Marin, I thank you for your concern, but I swear I'll be fine. After all the sacrifices my Saints have made for me, do you really think I would so needlessly sacrifice my own life?"

Marin had wanted to say 'yes', although she knew better than to voice the thought aloud. Lady Athena would give her life to protect them, even if they were the ones that were supposed to be protecting her. Instead she said softly, "My lady, we can't know her intent, you should leave while we figure out why she's here."

"Perhaps you don't know her intent, but I do," Lady Athena had said. "She told me why she was coming before she even arrived."

"Then why is she here?" Marin hadn't let herself move, not wanting to give the other goddess a way to get past her.

"That is something I can't tell you yet," her Goddess had informed her. "But it's nothing that will harm me. She wishes to help, Marin. Let her pass." Marin remembered hesitating...and the strange, dark, goddess strode by her. She had moved to stop her, but then Lady Athena had been stepping forward to greet the goddess. "Marin," Lady Athena had said in her sternest tone of voice, "I need you to leave."

"With all due respect, Lady Athena, I can't do that!" She had protested. "I can't let you be alone with her!"

"I'll take Kiki with me if it will make you feel better," Lady Athena had said softly, then added mostly to herself, "he should probably be there as well."

"Kiki?" Marin had said in disbelief. "I'm sorry, Lady Athena, but I cannot let you go with just a trainee as a guard..."

"Kiki was trained as Gold Saint. He is fully capable of taking care of me. Unless you doubt my judgment..."

"," Marin stammered.

"Good," Lady Athena lead the strange goddess away, calling for Kiki. She stared after, wondering if she dared to risk her Goddess' wrath. To help.

She had stayed in Aries until the waiting had nearly driven her crazy, then she had retreated to this cliff not far from the temple entrance.

"Should I have stayed with her?" she muttered aloud, staring out over the sea. Would Aioria have stayed with her? Most probably. He would probably have insisted on going with her. That was how he he had been, she quickly corrected herself. As her thoughts strayed back to the Leo Saint, Marin quickly stood and grabbed her mask. That was enough of laying around. She had better things to do than think about someone who was dead.

She had shed enough tears over him in the last few months. Now was not the time to risk shedding anymore. Not when she had a clear duty to fulfill.

"Marin!" The Eagle Saint knew the voice that shouted to her and nodded at the other female Saint approaching her.

"Shaina," she said, greeting one of the only Silver Saints besides herself that were left. "How are things in the rest of Sanctuary?"

"How do you think they are?" Ophiuchus snapped. "I've been trying to find out who was slacking off badly enough to let a strange goddess slip through our perimeter and explaining why we can't even help her!" Shaina glared at her. "What are you doing out here anyway? Shouldn't you be back there, actually doing something?" The comment stung and Marin tried to ignore it, telling herself that Shaina was just worried and she had a tendency to snap when she felt like that.

"I already told you that I couldn't do anything. Lady Athena ordered me away, what else was I suppose to do? Disobey her?"

"Yes!" Shaina said. "At the very least you should have tried to..."

A tidal wave of Cosmo hit them before Shaina could finish her sentence. There was almost no warning. Only a very quiet sound that wasn't heard, only felt, then a divine Cosmo that slammed into them like a wall. Both she and Shaina staggered for a second. The Cosmo had gone by the time they regained their footing, but there was still a soft slight purple glow gathered around the temple of Athena at the top of the mountain.

She and Shaina barely glanced at each other before they were off, running towards the entrance to Aries. Marin wasn't even consciously aware of slipping her mask back on as they raced toward the Goddess. A mixture of guilt, worry, and fear filled her heart. She should never have left her alone with that woman! Never, not even if it meant her Goddess' wrath...

Her musings were cut short as she slammed into a solid barrier and was thrown backwards down the steps. She landed hard, stars exploding in her head. A crashing flurry of cursing beside her confirmed that Shaina had received the same treatment.

"What was that?" She heard the Ophiuchus Saint snarl as they climbed to their feet. As her head stopped ringing, she looked up to find their way blocked by a transparent, shimmering wall. Standing behind it, hands outstretched, was Kiki.

"What are you doing?" Marin cried, running up to the edge of the barrier. "Let us pass, Kiki!" But the boy only shook his head.

"No, Lady Athena said not to let anyone up until she said so!" he said stubbornly.

"You brat, didn't you just feel that!?" Shaina snapped. "Something happened to her! We have to get up there now!"

"No!" Kiki sounded almost desperate. "You don't understand!"

"I understand perfectly! Apparently you've turned traitor, even after the sacrifice your master made!" Shaina's reply was harsh and she saw how Kiki flinched. If they weren't in such a hurry, she would have called the other Amazon on her words. But now they needed to get up to Athena. Something had happened, and it was their duty to protect her from it.

It is all right... The Cosmo of their Goddess swelled, reaching out to touch all of theirs. As it resonated, they 'heard' her words echoing through them. What you felt was nothing harmful, my Saints. If anything, it was the opposite. Lady Athena sounded...tired. Exhausted, even in their minds. But you could feel the joy in her voice and it was enough to make all of them believe her words. Rest now, all of you. I want you to gather at dawn in the coliseum. I will make an announcement and explain everything then. Do not worry, it is good news. Then the presence of her Cosmo was gone, and they were left alone to look at each other in puzzlement.

"See?" Kiki said breaking the silence. "Lady Athena is fine! She just doesn't want anyone coming up to find things out until everyone is ready!"

"'Everyone?'" Marin directed a glance at Kiki who blanched, then quickly went back to looking stubborn.

"A..anyway, I can't let anyone up! And I'll stay here until tomorrow if I have to!" Kiki looked very determined as he spoke. Marin paused, then nodded and turned around.

"Let's go, Shaina," she said, starting down the temple stairs.


"I don't think he's going to budge," the Eagle Saint said. "And I think we should make sure no one is panicking over what happened." She heard Shaina swear, and then the Ophiuchus Saint walked down next to her.

It took time to calm the other Saints, trainees and guards who had been sensitive to pick up on the fact that something was going on. Particularly the Unicorn Saint. They had to get several of his friends to physically hold him back, to keep him from charging up the temple steps. But at last they had gotten everything under control.

Marin had headed back in the direction of her hut, but she had realized on the way there that she was far too keyed up to sleep. Nor did she really want any company right now. Instead she decided to head back toward the sea. It was late now, but the sea looked calming under the stars. Maybe it would help her to relax herself. When she reached the cliff face, there was already someone there. She frowned, slightly annoyed. Not many people came out here and she was used to this being her place. At least it was supposed to be just hers now.

It was a man, one with broad shoulders, standing with his back to her. She paused, wondering what he was doing there. His silhouette was familiar, almost achingly so, but she didn't feel like talking to anyone at this moment. She sighed and prepared to turn around.

But her soft sound must have been enough to alert the man. He turned around to see who was there, and Marin felt all the blood drain from her face. She knew his face, even when it was only lit by the moon.

"Marin?" he whispered when he saw her. He took a step forward.

"Aioria..." This had to be a dream, a nightmare or hallucination. The strange goddess had done something...that had to be it. This wasn't real. It couldn't be. It was like all her other dreams...if she took a step forward, he would be gone.

"It is you," the phantom said, taking a step toward her. "I didn't think you would be out here this late. Lady Athena didn't want us to go out and she'll be mad someone saw me..."

"Stay back," she said falling back into a defensive stance as she fought to keep her voice stead. This can't be real echoed inside her mind like a mantra. She couldn't allow herself to hope. This had to be a trick, an enemy disguising himself as someone she cared about. Or it was just another dream, one that would fade. The phantom stopped, looking puzzled. "I don't know how you are, or why you're doing this, but you are going to stop it right now! I won't have you staining his memory!"

"What?" the imposter, the phantom, the whatever he was stopped moving. "Oh. Marin, it's me." He took a step forward. "Let me explain..."

"I said stay back!" Marin lashed out with a kick, but he caught it easily.

"Marin. Please, listen to me," Aioria said pleadingly. "It's me... Persephone helped Athena bring us back. She said she owed Lady Athena a favor and this repaid it."

"You'd think I would believe that?" she snarled, but her heart was pounding.

"Marin, it's me," he whispered again and reached out to her with his Cosmo. She wavered the moment she felt it. Warm, strong, caring and protective... You could replicate many things with illusion, but she didn't think anyone could mimic Cosmo exactly.

"Ai..Aioria?" she whispered. He nodded as she released her foot and she wobbled before she managed to put her foot back down and regained her balance. "It' You're really back?"

"Yes," he said, sounding amazed at it himself. Trembling, Marin stepped forward and reached up to touch his face. She expected him to vanish or her hand to go right through him, or even for his skin to be cold. What she had not expected was the soft yielding skin that was warm to her touch. She stopped there, barely touching him for a long moment, a lump growing in her throat. "Marin...?"

Marin bit her lip to keep from sobbing and threw her arms around him. Aioria froze as she did so. Before, they had always maintained a sort of distance, driven by both custom and by duty. She had regretted it, regretted not saying anything to him before he died, regretted not acting on her emotions. When Shaina had literally chased after Seiya she had been almost jealous of her fellow Amazon's ability to do what she wanted. Now, with a second chance in front of her, she would not allow herself to regret again.

"M..Marin?" Aioria said, shocked. But then slowly, his arms closed around her. "I'm sorry..."

"'s all right," the Eagle Saint said shakily, trying to keep from breaking down. She looked up at him and suddenly came to a decision. It might be something she would regret later, but she had to do this now before she lost her nerve. She looked up to him, then slowly, deliberately reached up to pull her mask off.

"Marin!" Aioria quickly looked away. "You can't! Your mask..."

"It's all right," she said softly as she reached up, placing a hand on his cheek in order to force him to look at her. "I made my choice long ago."

"You did?" Aioria still looked confused as she reached up to press her lips to his. She felt him stiffen in shock and was afraid he was going to pull away...but then he started to kiss her back. She closed her eyes, falling into the kiss. She had lost him once before. This time, she would make sure things were different.

The End

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