Second Chance

Chapter 2

© 2007 by Plantress

This page was last modified: 2007/03/24


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Aiolos watched as the children trained. They were coming along, all of them were. But it just wasn't enough. He had told Kido that he would train them so that, eventually, one of them could take up the Sagittarius cloth. Unfortunately he didn't sense any gold saint potential in these children. They would become bronze, perhaps silver saints but he didn't think any of them had potential to become Gold Saint.

His eyes swept over the boys as he eyed faults as he tried to think of way to counter them. They weren't physical faults, as much as mental ones he hoped they would outgrow. Ichi for instant hesitate and pulled back far too much. It almost seemed to Aiolos that he was scared of his opponents. The Sagittarius Saint dearly hoped that wasn't so. There was no room for cowards in the Saints, and any who showed that trait tended to be weeded out long before their test for the cloth. Aiolos would have to make sure that Ichi didn't fail.

Some of the others such as Ban seemed to be hesitant too, but they were already working through it and didn't need his help. Really they only two he was overly concerned about were Ichi and just one other. Almost against his will he found his eyes drawn to the green haired boy he had been thinking of. Shun...

Although the smallest of the orphans had a very fragile appearance, it wasn't his physical health that worried Aiolos. In fact the opposite was true! Shun was very health, his scores on the physical tests were on par with the other boys and he was actually showing flashing of what might me Cosmo long before the others were. No...it was physical strength he was worried about with Shun. He was worried because the boy was far to sensitive to be a Saint.

It wasn't just the Shun seemed to break into tears at the slightest thing, although that was a problem it was a relatively minor one. What worried the Sagittarius Saint was that the boy had never won a sparring match in all the time he had been here. And although it had taken Aiolos a while to realize why, he know knew it was because he didn't want to hurt the other boys. Shun would start a punch that was on target and would have won if the match if it had landed...then stop it right before it hit. He would not do anything to hurt his opponent. It was an almost subconscious act for the boy, but if he didn't learn to overcome it, he would never earn a cloth. There was no room for gentleness in a Saint. Besides there were more deaths than survivors at the training camps and unless Shun toughened he would be one of those casualities.

Aiolos had tired to talk to Shun about it the other day, but before they could get anywhere the boy had started crying and practicably enough Ikki had taken noticed. Shun's older brother was his exact opposite in every way Ikki was the strongest, most stubborn and at times most vicious of all the boys Kido had brought it. Aiolos didn't work with him very much because truthfully, he didn't need to. He knew that Ikki would manage to win a cloth.

Ikki was also very protective of his brother and the moment he saw anyone, even the man who was suppose to be teaching them, bring tears to his brothers eyes he immediately rushed to defend Shun. Even though he didn't dare raise a fist to Aiolos, he stilled yelled at him before pulling Shun away. Tatsumi had wanted to punish Ikki but Aiolos had stopped him. Although he knew Ikki should learn some respect, he just didn't have the heart to punish him for protecting his little brother.

Little Brother...

Aioria....

The thoughts rose unbidden to his mind and Aiolos quickly left the training area. Although he liked teaching these children the trusting looks they sometimes gave him echoed the way that Aioria had looked at him. It was a trust that he had betrayed. He had promised to look after Aioria and help him become a Saint. He had failed in that promise.

Truthfully, most of the time he tried to not to think about his younger brother. It hurt to much.

They would have told you I'm a traitor wouldn't they? You probably hate me now, don't' you little brother. It hurt so much when he thought that, even though he knew it was mostly likely true. But that thought helped keep the other worries and fears at bay. At least that Aioria would be alive to hate him. But what if Saga had felt so threatened he decided to make sure all those of the 'traitors blood line' were gone? What if he had killed Aioria to make sure that no one would threaten him? In his mind, Aiolos knew that we would feel it if his younger brothers cosmo ever vanished. There were bound by the same blood, and a connection like that didn't judge by distance, even when they were half a world apart. But his heart would not listen to reason.

There were times at night when he couldn't sleep, when his mind would conjure terrifying images of what might have happened. Even if Aioria had survived, was he alright? The rest of Sanctuary would not be kind to the brother of a traitor, and he worried that some of the other Saints might decided it wasn't worth the risk to wait and see where Aioria's true loyalties lay.

The only comfort Aiolos had when he worried was that Shura was still in Sanctuary. He knew his friend hadn't attacked him out of cruelty. Shura's sense of justice was one of the strongest that Aiolos had ever seen. The Capricorn saint had only attacked him because he had truly believed that what he was doing was right thing. Aiolos was sure that Shura would not blame Aioria for anything his older brother had done. He hoped that mean Shura would be willing to protect Aioria from those who would see that he failed in earning the Leo cloth just because he shared blood with a traitor.

* * *

The Sagittarius Saint was fond of walking through the garden alone. It helped to clear his thoughts and calmed him. This time however his walk was interrupted when he turned the corner and saw the group that was gathered under a tree. Curious he started to walk over the group and was managed to catch the tail end of the argument as he came within earshot. His eyes widened and he speed up a trifle. He stared at what he was seeing then tried to appear casual as he strolled over to where Kido was standing.

"Why aren't you doing anything?" He whispered once he was close enough. The old man turned to him and raised an eyebrow.

"Should I? I was under the impression that Saints were willing to do anything for their goddess?" Kido was also talking softly, although with the amount of noise Saori was making, they wouldn't have been heard if they were talking normally.

"We are her protectors not her servants!" He hissed back as he watched his goddess use Jabu as her 'horse'.

"She has been through enough hardship in her life, I will not let you take away this little happiness." Kido snapped. "When she is older you can force her to become your goddess, but right now she is a child and should be able to enjoy herself!"

"By using other people as her play things!?" He demanded. Kido turned and glared at him.

"Those boys are living, eating and sleeping here because of my kindness." The old man hissed. "The least they can do in return is play with my granddaughter." The old man turned back around. "And need I remind you that the same goes for you Aiolos." Before the astonished saint could say anything, Saori noticed him and abandoned her most recent game. He kneeled down to greet her, and somehow managed to keep track of her words, but his eyes were over her shoulder where Jabu was sitting in the middle of his fellow orphans, hands and knees raw and bleeding from Saori's game. He stood and made an excuse to Saori before leaving, heading away from the group. It wasn't until he was sure that he was out sight and hearing for everyone in the group, that he his emotions go. Frustrated, he lashed out and buried his fist in the trunk of a tree. He glanced at the deep hole in it, then quickly looked away. A gold saint was suppose to be in better control of himself.

He knew part of the reason he had been more on edge was because Kido's men had just finished gathering the information about the training camps and he felt powerless to do anything. First he had been unable to protect his Sanctuary from Saga, had barely been able to protect his goddess, and now couldn't even seem to wing an argument against an old man. Because one of the things the agents had brought back was information that Saga had the phoenix cloth moved to Death Queen Island. Aiolos had argued with Kido about the sending anyone to the last training camp. There wasn't any need to send one of the boys to that hell. Yet the old man was adamant about getting that particular cloth and wouldn't listen to any of younger mans arguments.

These aren't things for you to own, these aren't toys that you can just add to your collection. They aren't something you put on display to admire. There are things that they will have to risk their lives to obtain! He had wanted to shout at the old man. Don't you realize that these are their lives you're playing with? But he hadn't had the chance. Tatsumi had came and escorted him out, then lectured him. The old man hadn't told his most faithful servant who Aiolos really was yet. He had let the man yell at him until he had gotten annoyed with it, then he had glared at Tatsumi. The other man had quickly left the room.

Although Aiolos knew that he owed much to Kido Mitsumasa, and he did have a lot of respect for him, but he didn't really like the old man much. Not matter how many questions he answered about the Saints, Kido had somehow formed his own opinion of them and seemed determined to believe it no matter what. Aiolos knew it would bring trouble in the future, particularly concerning the gold cloth. Worse yet was how cold the man seemed to the boys. He also acted strange at times, as if he knew a secret about the children he didn't want Aiolos to know. Tatsumi seemed to know was it was, but instead of lying to Aiolos, he always managed to find something else to do when ever the Sagittarius Saint came seeking answers. But no matter how Aiolos disliked the man, he didn't dare do anything that would give Kido an excuse to throw him out. This was the only place right no that was safe enough for Athena, and he wouldn't jeopardize her safety and happiness because of his own opinions.

Aiolos turned and looked back the way he had come, even though he knew that he could not see them anymore. He felt torn. One hand he was glad the Kido seemed to care for Athena as if she really was his granddaughter, and he was glad that the little goddess had someone she saw as a father figure. On the other hand he wasn't at all happy with the way Kido was raising her.

Much as he had tried to ignore it, scenes like the one he had just witness seemed to highlight how spoiled Kido's love had made Saori. She was given anything and everything she wanted. Worse yet Kido made her believe that she had earned all of it.

Aiolos pushed aside the part of his mind that tired to point out that she was a goddess and perhaps deserved special treatment. Perhaps that was true, but Athena was suppose to be a goddess of mercy and justice. None of the chronicles that detailed past Holy Wars said anything about Athena acting like well...a spoiled little brat.

That was the reason that none of the boys ever wanted to be around her. Let Kido ramble on about how he didn't want Saori mixing with 'common boys' or Tatsumi lecture him on letting Saoir find friends among her peers. They didn't see that the boys would find other things to do when ever Saori came near them, because they were afraid they would be forced into a game like the one he had just witnessed. Her formal Guardian also didn't seem to notice that she had no friends among the children of the wealthy either. There was no one who was willing to put up with the attitude she had toward children her own age.

Aiolos hoped that she wouldn't stay that way. Even if she was a goddess, the chronicals all said that Athena's from past holy wars always seem have at least one close friends among the Saints.

Well, Aiolos thought as he turned back toward the house. She's still young. I'll give her time. Perhaps she will be able to grow into the goddess she's meant to be on her own.

* * *

At least it was the day in which the boys would chose which training camp they would be going to and thus which cloth they might some day don. All the cloths were Bronze Cloths but even Bronze Saints would be better than nothing at all. Aiolos tried so smile encouragingly at the group in front of him. Because it didn't matter which boy earned which cloth, the names of all the training camps had been put into a box, and the name that the boy pulled out would be where he went.

Jabu went to Algeria, Geki to Canada...one by one they came up and the Fates decided which constellation might one day become their guardian. He stiffened involuntarily when Seiya drew Sanctuary for his training place. Rationally there was no reason not to send a boy there. At the very least the Pegasus cloth was there, and there were several silver cloths in Sanctuary as well. But it sill made Aiolos nervous and very glad he was not using his real name. He didn't know what lies Saga had been spreading since his 'death' or how far that poison had managed to spread. Aiolos worried that perhaps Seiya would be corrupted by the traitor. Although there would be not reason for Saga to even notice a trainee or even a lowly bronze saint, it as will a risk. There were only two reasons that Aiolos was letting the boy go. The first was because they needed the cloth. Right now Aiolos was the only one capable of protecting Athena. Once Saga found Athena, and he would sometime Aiolos was sure of that, it would be enough. The second reason was that no one would know that Seiya was trained by him. Kido had been right, not one would suspect that Akira, the man who had trained the boy, and Sagittarius Aiolos were the same person. No one would ever think that a Saint would be hiding halfway around the world.

Aiolos forced himself to pay attention as Shiryu stepped up to draw. He blinked in surprise when the boy drew Rozan. Rozan was home to Gold Saint Libra Dohko, the only Saint that Aiolos had ever considered contacting. He was the only other person besides Pope Shion who had been in the last holy war. Dohko was called Roshi by most Saint because he was said to be very wise. Aiolos had always though that Roshi would be the only person willing to listen to him. Yet...something always made him pause. The longer two Saints knew each other, and the more time they spent together, the more in tune with each other cosmos they became. It wasn't unheard to for two old friends to be able to sense the others location over vast distances. Pope Shion and Roshi had known each other for centuries. They should have been able to sense each other even thought they were half a world apart. If that was true then Roshi would have known when Shion died.

If that was true then why hadn't the old Master tired to find out how his friend had died? Surely he would have known something was wrong? Yet Roshi had never even contacted Sanctuary, never tired to find out anything. He had just stayed in China. Without knowing the reason why the Old Master hadn't done anything, Aiolos didn't dare reveal himself to the Libra Saint. Still...Roshi was called by that name for a reason. He would make Shiryu into a Saint.

Shun was next to draw...and Aiolos felt his blood run cold as Tatsumi read off the name Death Queen Island in an almost gleeful voice. Death Queen Island...it was a name most saints feared. Not only was the terrain hellish, it was made up almost entirely of desolate wastelands, rocky shores and mountains that were live volcanoes, it was also a prison. Sanctuary's criminals, the ones that weren't considered worth of executions were exiled there. Former Saints who had lost their cloths but had done nothing against Sanctuary itself were there, violent people who cared for nothing but themselves. Shun wouldn't even last a day there. Aiolos had known that the green haired boy probably wouldn't survive Saint training, but he had thought that the boy would at least be given a chance to survive, not be sentenced to death before he even set foot in the training camp.

As the Sagittarius Saint was thoughts raced, he could heard Tatsumi telling the boy exactly what he could expect when he arrived at Death Queen Island. Aiolos stood there was he watched the child, wishing he could do something , but not able to think of anything that would make sense. Then it was taken out his hands when Shun's brother stepped up and demanded to be sent to Death Queen Island. The act surpized and touched Aiolos. He knew that Ikki was just trying to protect his brother...but he just might be able to survive that hell. Yet for some reason the demanded was refused.

"Tatsumi." Aiolos said. Everyone turned to look at him. "Let him go." Something, perhaps gratitude? Rose in Ikki's eyes before he turned them away from Aiolos.

"They're suppose to go to whatever training camp they drew, those are the rules that you helped lay down, young master." The title was spat. Tatsumi had never like Aiolos. He thought that the younger man was far too disrespectful to his 'Grandfather'.

"We are also supposed to make sure that as many as possible return with a cloth. Out of all of them, Ikki is the only who has a chance at earning the Phoenix cloth!" Aiolos snapped. He knew that the only reason Tatsumi was arguing about him was the it hurt his pride to obeying someone who was younger than him.

"You want me take orders from a brat?" Tatsumi gestured violently, toward the boys. Shun flinched back and hide even farther behind his brother. Aiolos felt his resolve strengthen. Perhaps he hadn't been able to persuade Kido to not get the Phoenix cloth, but he would win this argument. He couldn't protect Aioria, but he would help these boys.

"I'm not asking you to obey him Tatsumi, I'm ordering you to obey me." At the last word, Aiolos expanded his cosmo a fraction. Not enough to affect anything but enough to be felt, then watched as Tatsumi flinched back involuntarily.

Aiolos new that Tatsumi was scared of him, and had been sever since he had shown the power of the cosmo to the boys. Normally it never even entered Aiolos mind to something as cowardly as use a persons fears against him, but this wasn't a normal situation. He would not let a child lose his chance at survival because of Tatsumi's foolish pride.

"I agree with Akira." Another voice said out of the blue. "Let Ikki go to Death Queen Island." Both men turned in surprise. Kido. Aiolos thought in surprise, then his eyes narrowed. Just what are you doing here? You never showed any interest in the boys before, either in their training or in who their were. Why do you care about this? Then he caught the old man's eye and understood. During their arguments Aiolos had described exactly what Death Queen Island was like, and he too understood that Shun wouldn't survive it. You have my gratitude Kido, even though I know you could care less about Shun, and see only the fact at Ikki has a greater chance of succeeding at what you want him to do.

"But..." Tatsumi began. Kido turned to him.

"Is there something wrong Tatsumi?" Kido said in warning voice. The other man swallowed.

"No sir." He whispered. But as things settled back down, he shoot Aiolos a glare that said he blamed the younger man for his embarrassment. Aiolos simply grinned.

* * *

The scene around the buses was chaos as boys said their goodbyes and bragged about how they would win the cloth they would be sent out for. Aiolos watched it all from a window of the mansion, a sad smile playing over his lips. He didn't have the heart to tell the boys that this might be the last time you would see the friend your were talking too. Saint training was harsh and many who tired it either died or went mad from the strain. There was no guarantee that any of them would return with a cloth, or even survive.

At last Tatsumi, apparently tired of all this and wanting to get it over with, hurried the boys on to the bus. As Aiolos watched him yelling at the children, he frowned. The Sagittarius Saint had never liked Tatsumi. The man was a coward and a bully who's only redeeming feature seemed to be that he was fanatically loyal to the Kido family. As he watched Tatsumi almost literally kick a boy he didn't consider fast enough onto a bus, he wondered if it had ever fully registered to him that they were going off to become Saints, one of eighty-eight most powerful warriors on earth. If they succeeded they would be far stronger than Tatsumi could ever hope be. And they would remember every cruelty the man had placed on them.

The End of Chapter 2 -- Continued in Chapter 3


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