Secret Santa

Worried Little Lion

© 2007 by Plantress

This page was last modified: 2007/12/15

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A/N: Here's Aioria's chapter. I ended without Aiolos buying anything because his story will conclude in the Sagittarius chapter.

The announcement that Athena herself was going to throw a Christmas party had startled the Leo Saint, but then he had smiled. It was nice of Lady Athena to do something like this. Even though Saints weren't actually supposed to celebrate Christmas, he liked the idea. The secret Santa thing threw him off a bit, but he decided it wasn't that bad, in fact, it might even be fun depending on who he drew.

When the meeting ended, the Leo Saint headed straight to his temple, curious about who he would be shopping for. Upon opening the piece of paper, he paled slightly. Shion. Why in Athena's name had he drawn Shion!? How was he supposed to shop for him? He was the Pope and had lived so long that he had probably seen everything before. How where you supposed to shop for someone like that?

"Are you alright?" Aioria hadn't even noticed that Mu was in his temple until the Aries Saint spoke.

"Oh, I'm fine." he said and forced a smile on his face. It's not a big deal, he thought to himself, you just have to find a present for the Pope. You're the Leo Gold Saint, calm now! "I just...have to go see my brother now..." Shion had practically raised Aiolos. Maybe his brother would remember something, anything that could help him.

He passed through the temples between Leo and Sagittarius without really paying attention to anything. He found Aiolos in his rooms, apparently counting his money.

"Aio," the Sagittarius Saint said when he caught sight of his brother, then he frowned. "What's the matter? You look like you've seen a ghost." Aioria sighed and sat down to his younger-older brother and handed him the piece of paper.

"Look who I got," was all he said. Aiolos took one look at the paper, then burst out laughing. "What's so funny?" Aioria said a little hurt.

"Nothing to do with you, it's just..." Aiolos snickered. "here." His brother dug in his pocket and came up with a different piece of paper. "Look."

Aioria did as he was told. "You got Mu."

"Yeah." Aiolos looked amused. "You got Shion, and I got's kind of funny isn't it?"

"I guess," Aioria said. "But what am I supposed to do? Shion's the Pope! What do you think I should get him?"

"How am I supposed to know?" Aiolos demanded.

"You know him!" Aioria protested.

"Only a little better than you do." The Sagittarius Saint said. "And aren't you thinking about this a little too much? It's Shion. I don't think he really cares about receiving presents."

"But he's the Pope and Lady Athena is going to be at that party. I want to get something that Shion will actually like," Aioria said.

"Ask Mu," Aiolos suggested. "He's Shion student, he would know him better than anyone."

"I was thinking about doing that," Aioria admitted. "But what if Kiki hears us or Mu lets something slip and Shion guesses? I don't want to be the only Gold Saint that ruins the surprise!"

"Don't think about it so much." Aiolos smiled and clapped him on the back. "It's Shion. It'll be fine. Now come and spar with me, maybe that'll calm you down. It's been a while since we've actually fought against each other anyway."

"You really want to get your butt kicked?" Aioria said grinning, worry momentarily forgotten.

"You shouldn't talk that way to your big brother," Aiolos said jumping up. "I trained you, I know I can still beat you."

"I've gotten better since then." Aioria grinned. "You haven't seen what I've come up with since you've been....gone." For a half a second, a shadow seemed to pass over Aiolos's eyes and his smile disappeared.

"I know," he said sadly, then he grinned again. "Race you to the training grounds?"

"Only if you think you can actually be a challenge to me!" As they took off running, Aioria worried about what had caused that momentary change in his brother. He knew missing thirteen years had affected Aiolos, it would affect anyone, but he hadn't thought Aiolos was that bothered by it. He just accepted things...sometimes too easily. Before he could make up his mind to say something to this brother, they were at the training grounds. He and Aiolos spent the rest of the day sparring against one another. Aioria tried to forget about the Secret Santa thing and mostly succeeded, but whenever he stopped to rest, he would remember and then he would get nervous again. He was sure that Athena wanted them to find suitable presents for each other.

He was sure Mu wouldn't say anything to Shion, but if Kiki guessed anything...Aioria wasn't sure the child knew how to be as discreet as the Aries Saint. But without any other option, he guessed he was stuck asking the Aries Saint.

Mu wasn't in his temple when Aioria passed through, so the Leo Saint decided to ask him tomorrow.

The next morning he was woken up by a combination of a nightmare involving being chased by several dancing presents, and falling out bed. Shaking himself slightly, Aioria headed toward the shower to try and wake himself up. He was just finishing breakfast when a familiar cosmo entered his temple. Smiling he stood up and hurried toward the door.

"Marin, what are you doing here?" he asked the female Saint.

"I was worried about you," she said softly.

"Why?" He frowned. "Nothing happened recently..."

"You were acting strange yesterday," Marin said. "Nervous almost. I doubted anyone else noticed, but I know you. What's going on?" Aioria blushed embarrassed about how nervous he was. He didn't want Marin to know that he was panicking about.

"It's complicated," he said, retreating to his rooms.

"I'm listening," Marin said following him. He sighed and haltingly explained what was going on.

"And I know it's stupid to be so nervous," the Leo Saint finished, feeling like a fool.

"You don't need to think about it so much Aioria," Marin said. "I don't think Athena means for you to find the perfect present. Just get something you think he'll like. Pope Shion has been around for a long time, I'm sure he'll be fine with whatever you get him."

"I hope you're right." Aioria sighed.

"I am," Marin said firmly. "Now I have to go oversee the trainees, but I'll come back tonight if you want." Aioria swallowed.

"S..sure," was all he said. After Marin had gone, he began to clean up the breakfast dishes. After he was done, he walked out his rooms, fully intending to go and talk to Mu...and ran into Shion and Dohko. He got off a quickly stammered good morning, then ducked back into his room. "Idiot," he muttered to himself, but didn't move until he was sure they were both gone.

"Aioria!" someone called just as he came out of his room. Milo waved as he walked up. "I need your help with something."

"With what?" the Leo Saint asked, slightly irritated. "And it had better not be another prank. I'm busy."

"It's just a little decorating thing. It won't take long, I promise." Milo assured him.

"Fine." Aioria sighed, knowing that the Scorpio Saint wouldn't stop bugging him until he agreed to help.

"Great!" Milo turned and started to walk away. "Well, don't just stand there! Come on!" Grumbling, Aioria followed the other Saint up to Scorpio temple. Once there he found out that Milo's idea of decorating was to hang a bunch of mistletoe everywhere. Aioria wouldn't have minded so much if there hadn't been so many bunches and Milo hadn't insisted on hanging them in so many weird and hard to reach places.

"Could you turn off that Christmas music!?" he shouted at the Scorpio Saint at one point after he realized he had been there for two hours and they still weren't done.

"But it's festive!" Milo said and didn't do anything about the music. Aioria had growled but finished up his work. By the time he got back to his temple, it was time for Marin to arrive. When he saw her, he forgot all about talking with Mu that night.

* * *

The next morning after Marin had left, Aioria abruptly remembered that he hadn't talked to Mu yet. There were only a few days to go before the party itself, so Aioria threw on some casual clothes before he headed down toward Aries. He would head into town right after he talked to Mu. But when he reached the first temple, it was empty. Mu wasn't in his rooms or outside. Kiki wasn't there either, so he couldn't ask the boy where his teacher was.

Aioria was wondering if he should just go looking for the Aries Saint in the training grounds, when he sensed someone else enter the temple. Thinking it was Mu coming back from somewhere, Aioria turned around, but paused when he saw who it was.

"Morning Aiolos," the Leo Saint said somewhat surprised. "What are you doing here?"

"Going out," was his brother's reply. "You are alright, too? Have you finally figured out what you're going to get Shion?"

"No," Aioria said tensely and looked around. "Mu's not here and I haven't had a chance to talk to him yet."

"Maybe Mu's shopping today?" Aiolos suggested. "Or he's busy."

"Then I guess I can't go today." Aioria grumbled. "Without help I'm not going to be able to find anything that Shion will like."

"Don't talk like that," Aiolos said. "I bet you'll find something if you actually go down and look. I'm going to go buy something for Mu now. Why don't you come with me? I'll be bored by myself anyway, and even if you don't find something, you can always ask Mu for help when we get back."

"I guess I could." Aioria sighed. "Although I doubt I'll find anything. I still have no idea what Pope Shion likes!" But he still followed the laughing Aiolos down the steps and out toward the city.

The shopping district was crowded. Aioria wondered how anyone could stand being in the middle of that crush of humanity. His foot had been stepped on and he had been ran into multiple times. Somehow Aiolos had managed to avoid all that, although he couldn't imagine how his brother had managed that feat. They had already been inside several stores, but there hadn't been anything that looked like it was suitable for the Pope.

"But aren't you supposed to be shopping for Shion, and not the Pope?" Aiolos had asked wisely. Aioria just glared at his brother, then opened the door to the next shop. It was some sort of craft store. The Leo Saint hesitated.

"Do you really think there'll be anything here?" he wondered uncertainly. "There are flowers everywhere and I'm not shopping for Aphrodite."

"Just go in!" Aiolos gave him a shove and the Leo Saint was forced into the shop. They both went off in opposite directions. After looking through several isles, Aioria was beginning to become convinced that there was nothing in this store either. On a shelf, a box claiming it contained a windowsill herb garden caught his eye for some reason. He took it down off the shelf and looked it over. It didn't seem like the kind of thing you would buy the Pope... but as Aiolos had said, he wasn't shopping for the Pope, he was shopping for Shion. Would the elder Saint like it, though? For some reason Aioria thought he might, but he wasn't sure. He went looking for Aiolos to ask his opinion. He found his brother looking at some of the models near the back.

"What do you think about this?" He showed the Sagittarius Saint the box. Aiolos looked it over, then grinned.

"Get it."

"You think he'll like it?" Aioria said surprised.

"Yeah. At the least you did try to find something, and I'm sure that's what Athena meant when she started this. Shion will probably appreciate that, too."

"Hmmm..." Aioria looked at the box, then headed up to pay for it. Aiolos trailed along after him. Outside Aioria looked over at his brother. "Well I'm done. Do you have any idea what you're getting Mu?"

"Not really," Aiolos admitted. "But that's the fun part, isn't it?"

"Says you." Aioria sighed, but followed his brother toward another store. Now that he had actually managed to get something, he allowed himself to relax. He would worry about whether Shion would like his gift or not when it was time for the party.

* * *

Next chapter: Shaka must shop for Kanon.

The End of Chapter 7 -- Continued in Chapter 8

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