Second Chance

Chapter 3

© 2007 by Plantress

This page was last modified: 2007/03/24

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"That's enough Seiya. You can take a break now." The boy immediately collapsed on the ground. By now he had learned that a break was really just one or two minuets to catch his breath before Marin told him what the next task would be.

Before they had left Akira had warned all of them that Saint training would be the hardest, most painful experience of their lives. Seiya hadn't really believed him at first, after all what could be harder than the training they had already gone though, but now he did. Most days he barely had the strength to stagger to his bed and was asleep even before he hit the mattress. He was also learning more about the cosmo thing that Akira had showed them, although Seiya couldn't seem to get it to work yet. Suddenly the thought of his former trainer made him remember something.

"Marin-san?" He called hesitantly. The woman turned to look at him.

"What is it Seiya?"

"Do you know if there was ever a Saint named Akira?"

"Akira?" Even though he all he could see was her mask, he could hear the frown in her voice.

"I don't think there's any Japanese saints beside myself. Why do you ask?"

"Before I was sent to Sanctuary, a man called Akria trained us. He knew how to use cosmo and even used to crush a rock once. I thought only Saints could use cosmo." Seiya answered.

"Everyone has cosmo Seiya, not just us Saints." Marin explained. "It takes a tremendous amount of control to be able to use cosmo though. Although its' highly unlikely it's possible that a none Saint could learn to control whatever cosmo they possessed." Marin stood and looked down to him. "Are you sure his name was Akira."

"Yeah." Suddenly Seiya remembered something he overhead when he was trying to sneak into the mansion's kitchen for a snack. "But he as from Greece originally, doesn't that mean he had to be a Saint?"

"I suppose he could be half-Japanese and no one knew." His teacher said slowly. "And it isn't unusually for a Saint to change their name once they earn their cloth, but I don't think I ever heard of him." Seiya sighed. Just when he was sure he would find out more about Akira....

"And now the breaks over Seiya." The boy winced. "Get up. We have a lot more to do today." Sighing Seiya got to his feet and followed his teacher, mind still puzzling over who Akira really was.

* * *

It was a beautiful spring day. The storm that had blown through last night was gone, brining unusually warm temperatures. Aiolos considered highly ironic, considering today was the day of Kido Mitsumasa's funeral. For the last few hours he and Saori had been here to accept the condolences of those who had come to pay their final respects to Kido. Most of the guests were former business associates or politicians the old man had known. Aiolos was sure that most of there were here for appearances sake and held even less grief for Kido's death than even Aiolos did.

It wasn't that he didn't feel anything for Kido's death, he did but only that of having someone you knew for over a decade die. He and Kido had never been friends, they hadn't even gotten along most of the time. Yet...he felt guilty that he didn't feel more for the man who had saved him and Athena, particularly when he saw do devastated his goddess was.

He doubted anyone really noticed her grief. Everyone kept remarking on how composed the two of them were. They seemed to assumed that he was calm for Saori sake, and she in turn was able to hold her own composure. It made Aiolos sick. Couldn't any of these people see past they façade Saori was holding up? Couldn't they see how pale she was, the black gown she wore making her looking so frail and ghost like? Couldn't they see that her hands sometimes shook when she lifted them to shake the hand of another well wisher? The only reason she was the composed on the outside was because she didn't want to disappoint her Grandfather.

It annoyed Aiolos that he hadn't noticed how much Athena had come to depend on Kido. Although it was a trial for the Saint to even remember to call Kido Grandfather when they were together in public, but he had forgotten that to Saori Kido was more than a Grandfather, he was part of the center of her small world. Aiolos knew he she leaned on him as well, but never as much as she had trusted Kido. Now the center had been yanked out of her universe and Aiolos suspected the only thing that was holding her together was the fact that she hadn't really accepted Kido's death yet.

Ever since Kido had died all of them had been busy, rushing to prepare his body, to contact those who where in the will, to set up the funeral...Aiolos knew Saori hadn't had a full nights sleep since her Grandfather had passed on. Makeup may have covered the bags under her eyes but Aiolos could still tell she was exhausted. He was surprised no one else could.

Aside from sleep, Aiolos knew that she hadn't cried for the old man yet. He knew it wasn't just because they had been busy, and he had feeling that she wasn't just holding off because of appearances sake. If she cried then she would finally be admitting that Kido wasn't coming back. And until she did that she would not be able to move on and it didn't take a genius to figure out how bad that would be.

Finally, finally night fell and everyone began to leave. Aiolos felt himself relax slightly.

"Saori?" He turned to his goddess and offered her his arm. She gave him a faint smile, and took it. Her grip was tighter than it should have been and Aiolos could tell that she was trying not to lean on him as the walked out of the room. Once out of the room, much to his surprise, Saori let go and stepped away. She took a shaky breath.

"He's gone for good, isn't he Nii-chan?" Saori whispered as she stared down at the floor.

"Yes." Was the only answer Aiolos could give. Saori jerked her head but and Aiolos was surprised by the sheer anger in her eyes.

"Why!?" She demanded. "Why did he have to go, why him!?"

"Saori, he was old. They gods just decided that this was his time." Aiolos said bewildered.

"The gods!? Why do they get to decide what happens to us? Why can't the just leave us alone." Tears began to run down her face, and Aiolos bit back his reply. How could he tell her that she was a goddess now? He didn't even know how great Athena's power was while she was in mortal form.

"Why?" She whispered as her legs seemed to loose their strength and she collapsed to the floor. "Why couldn't they have leave him with me for a while longer? Why?" Aiolos stared at the girl sobbing on the floor, then quickly dropped down next to her. Although the Saint in him wanted her to bear this alone, for Athena to pass this test on her own so that she would be strong enough to face Hades, there as a greater part of him that had watched her grow and served as her brother too long to maker her face this alone. He reached out and hugged his goddess to him.

"It will be alright." He whispered. "I'm still here. I've always been here and I will always protect you." Aiolos realized that he wasn't just talking about his duty to Athena, but about Saori, the girl who had become a sister to him.

"Nii-chan?" She said suddenly. "You won't leave me, will you?" Saori pushed away from him and meet his eyes. It struck Aiolos then how young Saori really was. She tended to act like she was older, but in reality she was a child who had just entered adolescence. This is the goddess I'm sworn to protect? Aiolos gave himself a mental shake.

"I won't." He assured her. "I will always be here." As she buried her head in his chest, her shoulders shaking with silent sobs, he tired to convince himself that it would be a lie. Athena was only reborn when the world was threatened by the darkness of Hades and in all the Holy Wars that had ever occurred, there had only been two Saints that had ever survived, the rest had all died at the hands of Hades. And with his body as it was now, Aiolos knew that he would be among the fallen. He only hoped that both parts of her, Athena and Saori, would forgive him.

* * *

"You can't do this!" Aiolos said for the countless time as he walked along side Saori. In the beginning of this venture he had been all to happy to help her fulfill Kido's last wishes. He hadn't seen the harm it could do, particularly because Kido's will had left Graude Foundation to Saori. But Kido, although Aiolos didn't want to speak ill of the dead, was as stubborn and blind in death as he was in life. The last phase of the plan for the boys who had went out seeking the Cloths was a massive publicity stunt called the Galaxian Tournament. In it, each boy would fight the others one on one until the final winner would be granted the gold cloth.

It was one of the most ridiculous things Aiolos had ever hear of in his life. Kido must have known that he would never have let him do something like this, and kept it quite.

"And why can't I?" Saori stopped and turned to face him. A part of him admired the confident young woman in front of him. She was acting like someone who you had to obey, like a goddess, like Athena at last.

"This was Grandfathers last wish, Nii-chan! The least we can do is help the vision he didn't live to see complete, come true!"

"Saori, Saints aren't suppose to use their powers for personal reasons and that's what this tournament will be! All they'll be doing is fighting to increase their own power." He argued. Once again he was being split into two. The Sagittarius Saint in him was rejoicing at the commanding tone in his goddess voice. She had finally started to grow up and become what she was meant to be! But the other part of him, the part that was her 'Akira nii-chan' was morning the loss of the somewhat carefree young woman, the one that had been replaced by this commanding goddess Athena.

"They will be fighting for the sake of the Graude Foundation that allowed them to become Saints in the first." She turned around and continued down the hallway. "I don't know why you and Grandfather did not get along Nii-chan and I don't know why you don't want the Galaxian Tournament to proceed but I at least will honor Grandfather's last wishes. I will go on with this tournament, no matter if I have your approval or not."

"Even I you do, the winner won't be able to wear the Gold Cloth!" He said in desperation. "They don't have the seventh sense, they haven't been trained for it!"

"How do you known that?" Saori turned and meet his eyes. Aiolos opened his mouth to respond, then caught the look Tatsumi. He closed his mouth and looked away, avoid her eyes. As the silence stretched on he finally heard Saori turn back around.

"I see." Was all she said before she walked away. Aiolos watched her disappear around a corner, and something squeeze his heart. Some part of him knew that after today, the relationtship between him and Saori would never be the same. It was almost as hard to ignore the smirk Tatsumi wore as he followed Saori. The other man knew he had beaten Aiolos, even if it really wasn't him that had. In death Kido had finally proved how clever he was. Aiolos had promised Kido that he wouldn't tell Saori who she really was.

"Please, let her stay a child. Promise me that unless something happens, you won't tell her the truth until she turns sixteen. Let her be innocent for two more years." The old man had whispered from his death bed. Aiolos had looked down at the man, a mere shell of his former shell. In all truth there wasn't much he could do until the Saints that they had sent out came back. And after that....if Saga truly thought that Athena was dead, he would not come looking for her. They had time.

"I promise." He said at last.

That was what the look Tatsumi had threw him was for. He couldn't tell Saori how he knew so much about Gold Saints without revealing that he himself was one. And that would break the promise that he had made with Kido.

Tatsumi himself had become almost unbearable lately. Saori couldn't understand why her brother was so opposed to this tournament so she kept turning to the other man and Aiolos couldn't' do or say anything without revealing everything. What annoyed Aiolos the most thought was that Tatsumi should have seen the danger of these for himself by now. Kido had told him everything, so why hadn't he realized the risks yet? Bring so many Saints back to Japan was dangerous enough, most Saint stayed close to their training camp or went to Sanctuary. Someone was bound to noticed that a group that had received training in the same place all earned cloths. It would raise questions about who had trained them and perhaps someone would be sent to investigate. It had been a risk to take them all back here, but one they had been willing to take. But this tournament though...hadn't Kido seen what would happen? No one knew the had the gold cloth, but now with all the publicity and promises to televise the fights...the whole world would known! When Sanctuary got word of what was going on, at the very least someone would be sent to retrieve the Gold Cloth and in the worse case, the Bronze Saint that reactivated would be killed in punishment for the selfish use of their powers!

He might as well go back to Sanctuary in the Sagittarius Cloth and tell everyone Athena was alive and Saga was the Pope. It would be the same thing.

Aiolos clenched his fist. Kido had known he would object to his farce and so had hobble him with that damn promise. If he hadn't made it then he would be able to tell Saori that no one would be able to use the Sagittarius Cloth because he was already it's Saint!

But still...the Saint part of him was telling him to listen to Athena and not doubt her at all. Another small part of him was glad it had made that promise. He had finally realized the same thing Kido must have long ago: In order for Athena to live, Saori had to die.

The End of Chapter 3 -- Continued in Chapter 4

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