Under Evil Stars

Part Three: Inevitable Destiny

© 2001 by Sofía 'Toffee' Francisco

This page was last modified: 2001/07/10


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"Oh, what tangled webs we weave,
when once we practice to deceive..."

- Shakespeare -

The sun was high, too high perhaps. Summer winds blew through the pillars; hot, dry and chafing, wisps of dust clinging to each current. Summer was often like that, though no one could quite say why this one seemed so much hotter, and still so cold. Maybe it was the light, too sober and pale; though maybe it was just the air, so silent and hard to breathe... others think it was more than that. The world itself felt what was going on, the horrors that trespassed behind the minds of so many, and the pain that lay just beyond the horizon, waiting to engulf them all. These people say that if one had seen the signs, it could have been predicted.

So they say.... sometimes.

To Saga is was a lot more than just another summer, it would mark the end of his training. For better or for worse, this was the end. After five long years that had produced a lean, well muscled boy of thirteen, it would be time to see how much of it had paid off. Claroscuro had been quiet and brooding for quite a few days, but the vibrant glow on the Gemini cloth spoke volumes of the situation. It was time to choose another bearer. For the past few days the Gemini saint had been in deep meditation, a strange communion with his cloth that seemed to last forever.

Saga had spent one or two nights staring at him, trying to understand what it was that his teacher felt or tried to make feel through the link that bound him to his cloth.

"It is... complicated. This cloth is more alive than I can say, and right now it is a part of me, a projection of my... my hidden self." A sad smile spread across his lips as he spoke. "When it is passed on to another, this aspect will die as I am separated from the cloth, and a new one will be born... for the new bearer."

"You mean the cloth will die?" Saga had been aghast, the anguish in his voice startling Claroscuro into breaking his mediation for a while.

"No, just a part of it. The mutable part that always dies and grows back. It is different for each saint, mine can only be mine... you might have a chance of seeing it for yourself," Claroscuro's deep voice sounded low and pained. Saga bit his lip, fighting the confusion in his heart; pride at his teacher's words was mingled with the harsh disappointment Kanon had become to both of them. Saga did not know it he preferred it this way, now that Claroscuro had fixed all of his hopes on him, knowing that Kanon was still superior, and that it was possible that their teacher had swayed towards him only because Kanon had become so.... cruel.

"And then?"

"Gemini... balances that game." Golden eyes glinted with ancient pain-driven mischief, a secret he dared not confess out of fear for the future. Claroscuro smiled again, seeing the hope in his pupil's eyes, and felt a twisting pain within him. The cloth had not decided which it wanted best, it still seemed to consider Kanon as a better choice, for reasons beyond his ken. But Saga... he was so good, and yet so twisted upon himself. Claroscuro dared not think on what the cloth would devise to balance him out... he didn't want to. But he would be there to help whomever was chosen, with the final hope that the weight of the cloth might change for the best either of his two possible candidates.

"Whichever way... only one of us remains standing... this time." Saga looked down suddenly, and sighed.

"I... I am sorry." It was the first time Claroscuro said something like that, and it startled the younger boy to hear it now.

"It's not your fault teacher... destiny chose this way."

* * *

"I heard Claroscuro is stepping down... and that his twins are going to compete for the cloth," a silk voiced man leaned against one the Scorpio temple's many pillars, his ash blond hair brushing against his shoulders gently. Blood looked up from his hastily scribbled poetry, blue eyes absent for a few seconds before he realised he had been spoken at.

"Ah yes... he told me so last week. There is no use in waiting and... it's ways past time. How old is he again? 42?" Thin red eyebrows dropped into a frown of concentration.

"It's not as if he were ancient...."

"Aw Magus! He doubles my age plus a year or two!" Blood laughed darkly and shrugged. "To each our own time!"

"Indeed, even you will have to train a pupil and step down someday." Pisces Magus smiled ironically and pushed his hair behind his ears. "Better start practising your goodbye speech."

Blood rolled his eyes and added the final line to the poem he was working on. He sighed then, feeling acutely aware of the other's intense gaze. Sometimes Magus was too invasive with his presence, his cosmo going way past the boundaries of what he had dubbed as "psychic etiquette". He wished Ganymede was there with him, but his elusive friend had taken off to Siberia a few days ago, needing some rest and quiet. Needing a rest from him.

"Not yet no thank you! Besides.. what about you? We both won our clothes close to six years ago.... aren't you thinking of training anyone?"

Magus crossed his arms and frowned pensively. "I have... but that would mean finding a place for Annika to stay in the meantime...."

The tall Scorpio saint cocked his head to one side mockingly, eyes lighting up at the promise of mischief, the possibility of testing his comrade-in-arms' limits. "I though Luis had said he wouldn't mind keeping her for you!"

The look Magus gave him was cold and scathing. "Cancer Pathos? Leave her with that perverted murderer? Are you out of your mind!?"

Blood smiled widely, so that's how it was? But Magus himself didn't even see how he was changing, how the situation was embittering him everyday. He knew it now, they would not live to see this Holy War... their entire lives would pass without begin able to complete the task for which they were trained, and it was killing Magus, making him restless and unable to tolerate his staid sister. That little singing lark who was finding his brother disagreeable company just as well.

"It was just a suggestion!" Blood threw his hands up in the air laughing, a dark and delighted laugh. Yes, he too felt this desperation, as had countless generations of saints during the times of peace. But they had been so close! Athena would be born anytime now, if only she had come a few years earlier they would have...

"I know... I just don't like the way he looks at her, or at anything for that matter," Magus seemed to mull over it for a few moments. "It's as if he were tasting his next kill."

"But you have seriously considered training a child?" Blood put his pen in one of his pockets and folded his poem neatly into a square, staring at it as if he wanted to burn it right there and then.

"Well, yes... even if Athena was born tomorrow, by the time she was old enough to fight we would be...." he laughed bitterly all of a sudden. "About Claroscuro's age, right now. If we train the kids now, they will be young, but old enough to serve her when she is born..." his voice faded into a whisper under the Scorpio saint's searching look. Magus looked down, avoiding the piercing gaze.

"All of this, you do it for her?" There was irony in his voice, and a deep seated knowledge. Magus frowned but did not answer. Blood knew he didn't really do it for Athena, not deep down. Frustration had driven him to want to be rid of his cloth and responsibilities as possible, not wanting to live as a failed half-cooked project any longer. Not anymore.

"Of course I do, aren't I a saint of Athena?" And even though his tone was honest, they both knew the underlying truth. Neither would say it out loud though, it was always like this in the end. Everyone knew what was going on, but no one ventured any step closer to a solution.

* * *

"Kanon?"

The tall youth turned his face slightly, acknowledging his teacher's presence distractedly, concentrated on watching a few silver saints mock-fighting each other below. Their technique was really pathetic by his standards, but he preferred to keep up to date on their development rather than let them gain up on him one day. Few people knew were to find him when he was at it, yet Claroscuro never failed to locate him. It unnerved Kanon, and made his chest hurt in an odd way he had learned to ignore.

He had a task at hand, he could not let himself be broken in by the pain and guilt of one man... no matter how much he cared for that man, or viceversa.

"Yes, Claroscuro?" he kept his voice monotone and disinterested, even though the older man's uneasy posture warned him of what was to come.

"Did you read the message I left for you last night?" Kanon rolled his eyes at the question, letting out a huff of a laugh.

"Oh yes, the one you tactfully placed on my pillow. What about it?" Claroscuro's golden eyes narrowed, darkening ever so slightly in anguish.

"You do realise, that tomorrow either you kill your brother, or he kills you?" There was pain the saint's voice, for he loved both of his pupils. He shouldn't have let himself do so, and yet.....

"Isn't that what you've been trying to get us to do for the past three years?" Claroscuro didn't answer, and after a while he turned around and walked away. Kanon tried to refocus on the fight below, but it was impossible. He swallowed back the lump in his throat and hugged himself viciously, nails digging into the flesh of his arms. "Damn it...."

It hurt.

After three years of pure evil, three years of hurting his brother and teacher in any possible way, three years of making himself sick to his soul with what he had to do... it still hurt. It still made him want to cry.

And everything went on smoothly, every single event his future self had told him about was becoming true, every action he performed brought out the exact reaction he was told would come. Life was a monotone into the future, the same thing over and over and over....

But tomorrow.... he didn't want to think about tomorrow. Not now, not ever... at least not until tomorrow.

* * *

"I though I'd find you here..." a childish sprightly voice broke the silence of his cabin, soft footsteps made the damp wood creak horribly, almost drowning the roar of the storm outside his window. Ganymede looked up from his painting into his teacher's ancient lilac gaze. It was the only thing about her that proved her age, the rest of her body was still - and would forever be so, she said- that of a twelve year old girl. Her elfin features shifted into a smile, the soft white skin startling him as it always did, that a warrior so old could have no scars.

Her very existence had always startled him.

And here they were now. Him, the young accomplished pupil, tall and respected and preternaturally sad; then she, the ageless teacher, cheerful and childish and eternally mysterious. He didn't know who or what she was really, or why she never aged. He didn't know how she knew the techniques of Ice-saints if she wasn't one herself. But she knew them well enough to teach. He suspected that she knew much more too, and that he was not the only saint she had trained in her long years... and yet here she was. A small grinning child, staring at his painting in almost-believable innocence as her eyes told him that she was here not for art, but to scold.

"Dana, I wasn't expecting you," he kept his tone light and emotionless, but he saw her frown deepen as she stared right into his eyes.

"I'm sure you weren't.... Ganymede, why did you run off like that?" her voice was sad, gentle to a point it was almost - but not quite- soothing to his ears. He looked away and glared at his painting, fingers curling instinctively on the paintbrush.

"I needed a rest."

"Ganymede..."

"Please, I'll go back soon, I just...." he choked on his own voice, his vision blurring for a few moments before evening out again. The tears never fell.

"Why don't you just leave him for good, if he hurts you this bad?" Dana knew the answer to that, yet she couldn't help asking it. She had always known things would come down to this, yet to see her pupil freeze from the inside out... to feel his pain and resignation, his inability to save himself. It tore her up.

She had known from the beginning, when both boys had met as children, that Ganymede would someday fall in love with Blood. That was why she had stressed him on the fact the he couldn't fall in love. She had tried... truly had. But fate was immutable in more than one way, or perhaps just in the ways that hurt the most. She should have never allowed herself to get close to this child: her last pupil in this cycle. But he had been so...

So...

Unique.

But she hadn't been able to save him, and now he was dead. His cloth demanded detachment, his heart demanded death. And still he could not say no. Still he could not push Blood away.

"I can't."

"It's okay... I know."

Maybe he couldn't cry, but she certainly did.

* * *

It was late by the time Kanon arrived back at the cottage he shared with his brother, and was surprised to find Saga there, evidently waiting for him. He knew Saga would be there, and his stance only confirmed it, but to actually feel the moment, and know that it was happening and that tomorrow he would... it was too much, and too fast. Or a knowledge held for too long that only now took its toll on him.

"Saga..." his throat felt dry, and he didn't really know what to say.

"I just wanted to make sure you won't disappear tomorrow," his voice was cold, eyes downcast to avoid looking at him. "I want to end this, and... so does our teacher."

Kanon swallowed painfully and forced himself to look calm and even a little pleased. "I'm looking quite forward to it, actually."

Saga shook his head and sat down heavily on a chair. The air had cooled down now that it was dark and Kanon saw his brother shiver, suddenly very weak and small. "I had hoped...."

"Hoped?" Kanon laughed mirthlessly. "I though you were beyond that."

Saga shook his head and buried his face in his hands, the muscles of his back growing taut as he stared at his smirking twin through his fingers. "I had hoped you would decide not to show up."

"Why the hell did you just ask me to go, then?" Kanon demanded, feeling a burning rage at the pit of his stomach. Angry at himself, as he watched his brother's movements, his anxious demeanour. But, in spite of himself, Saga smiled thinly.

"Reverse psychology," he replied, and laughed lowly for a few minutes. "I thought.."

"Forget about what you thought, my dearly benevolent brother! Even if I didn't show, do you think it would stop being this bad? Do you think they would let me leave Sanctuary just like that? I am trapped here, and so are you! So even if you won by default you would have to kill me sooner or later, because I will never - hear me?- NEVER, change the way I am!"

"So... it was useless to hope after all." Saga got up, dark blue eyes fixed in an emotionless stare.

"As I said, I would have thought you were beyond hope already." And then, to himself: "I am."

"Kanon... I don't know why you became this way, but I..." he paused, looking up to the roof, eyes glassy and lost in some shaken memory. "I just wanted to tell you that I never stopped..."

"Hoping I would change?" Kanon drawled, his heart clenched in his chest.

"...loving you," he breathed in, a sense of finality in his sigh. "Until now." Saga looked up, the wavering glow in his eyes too bright and unsteady. Kanon simply stared back, knowing in his heart that today would be the last time he could gaze upon his brother so closely... the last him Saga would gaze on him with love.

"Sounds to me like you already made your choice then," Kanon replied unblinkingly. He had done so too, long ago, and today he paid for it. But he also knew, that were he to have the same choice again.. he wouldn't have acted differently.

Hate me if you must, he thought, but let me save you.

"Goodbye Kanon. I will see you tomorrow." Saga gave him one last long stare, and walked past him into his room. The sound of the door closing was all Kanon heard through the ringing in his ears. He bit his lip and ran out of the house, trying to ignore the burning in his belly and chest, the aching need to scream or cry or both. He ran until his lungs hurt and he couldn't run anymore, and only then did he stop and let himself fall onto the ground.

Goddess.. why?

It has been so hard, and it had hurt so much! And tomorrow...

But perhaps he could change it.

If only Claroscuro didn't decided to stay and help the new Gemini, if he left tonight and never came back, then at least some small part of tomorrow's disaster would be prevented! If only he could!

Kanon got up, a sudden fire in his mind as he realised that he had the power, and knowledge, to change the future he had been told about. And it wouldn't change things all that much, not the ones that mattered! If Claroscuro left now then he wouldn't have to...

Not tomorrow, or ever!

He ran to the place he knew his teacher was meditating at, his heart bashing in his chest as he recognised the familiar tall figure in the distance. He opened his mouth to cry out to him, to tell him the whole truth and why he had done all he had done and to run away! Now!

And felt a cold hand close over his mouth just as a pair of strong arms wrapped around him, keeping him from going any further. His cry of despair was muffled by the stranger's fingers, and he felt tears of anger run down his cheeks.

Why!? Who!?

"Hush.... I'm sorry, you have no idea how much, but I can't let you do that..." Kanon arched in the other's grasp, a strangled sob caught in his throat. He knew that voice, he knew that tone...The hand left his mouth and he was able to speak.

"Chrono..."

"I knew you would try to do this, but believe me, it wouldn't work even if you did tell him everything. Even so, I can't allow it... I foresaw you would try this..." Chrono's voice was low and strained, he still held Kanon in his arms and the youth saw why. Claroscuro was leaving.

"Let me go!" he hissed urgently.

"No, you can't."

"I can't do this! I can't... I can't..!" Kanon fell limply, hanging against the ancient creature's grasp like a dead weight. "I can't kill him."

"And you think telling him the whole truth will help? Letting him know the monster he has raised? The monster he will inherit his title to?" Chrono grabbed Kanon's shoulders and turned him around violently, his eyes burning with that alien blue fire. "Do you think that will make it any easier for him? Claroscuro is as noble as he acts, your words would kill him!"

"He deserves to know, besides, he would know it has a solution...."

"Making you the Gemini saint, and giving Saga unlimited power? Would that ease his mind?" the Horologium saint sighed and let go of the child's shoulders. "Sometimes there is no way out."

"I...love him, Chrono."

"I know... and because you love him, you can't tell him the truth." He reached out to touch the younger boy's cheek, seeing the tears there, but Kanon pulled back with a groan.

"So... because I love him... I have to kill him?" He looked up at the taller man, his eyes trembling with rage and unshed tears still waiting behind the unfettered hatred. "Is that it?"

"Do you think, that if you told him to leave now, for no reason, and abandon his responsibility towards Saga as his successor... he would? Do you think that he'll listen to you and leave the Gemini cloth to corrupt Saga as he knows it will?" Chrono turned away from him, staring at the almost invisible figure of Gemini Claroscuro, too far away to hear them now. Kanon followed his gaze and bit his lip.

"No... but.. to kill him..."

"Believe me, he will suffer less this way. And Saga will have others to be there for him, others who will help him stop the influence of the cloth... for a time. You know it has to be this way." And Kanon did, that was why he hurt so much. He stared at his teacher's back for a few minutes and let his gaze drop to the floor.

"You planned this out perfectly, didn't you?"

"Blame me if you must, but you know I chose the best of all possible choices." Chrono sighed heavily and turned his back on the boy, taking a few steps away before finally giving in. "But go, tell him to leave if it will ease your mind. Only to leave, and nothing else."

And he was gone.

* * *

"Blood?"

The Scorpio saint turned around as he heard that voice, his eyes lighting up in playful mischief as his friend walked into his temple. Ganymede gave him a sad stare before moving to lean on a pillar.

"I'm so glad you came! I was starting to wonder where you had gone off to..." Blood laughed and raised an eyebrow at him. Ganymede huffed sadly; Blood hadn't even noticed how miserable he was feeling when he left, or how much he had wanted him to come and accompany him. Blood only saw that he was here now...

At night.

"I wanted to finish a painting," he lied. Blood's eyes flashed for a moment, as if he saw through it, but then he was smiling again, running warm fingers over his cheeks and in his hair.

"I missed you, you know?" he whispered, kissing his neck eagerly.

Ganymede closed his eyes and smiled, hoping Blood would not notice his sudden urge to cry. "I didn't," he lied again, pulling his arms around his shoulders and hugging him loosely as Blood deftly began to unbutton his plain shirt.

"Oh, I already know that," he laughed. "That's why I'm so happy to see you."

And Ganymede did cry, after they were done and Blood was too fast asleep to notice.

* * *

"....Teacher?"

Claroscuro turned around slowly, an awkward light glimmering in his eyes. "It's been years since you last called me that," he stated calmly, though Kanon could see the turmoil in those dark golden orbs.

"I know. I..." he breathed in raggedly, feeling afraid for no reason. "I wanted to..."

"Shouldn't you be sleeping? Tomorrow will be a long day." Claroscuro turned away from him again, shoulders taut and straight.

Kanon shook his head and sighed finally. What could he say? He stared at his teacher's broad back and felt the world crumble down upon him, its weight unbearable. If only he could convince his teacher to leave now, he wouldn't have to kill him... but if he stayed...

"I have to talk to you," the boy whispered, and flinched when he heard the angered hiss of breath Claroscuro let out.

"Go to sleep Kanon, now."

"No."

Claroscuro spun on his heels, hair swaying in one violent motion as he faced his pupil and gritted his teeth in anger and desperation. "Go. To. Sleep."

Kanon took a step back, hands fisted as he struggled to hold on to his calmness, the anger in those golden eyes burning him like nothing he had ever felt before. Those eyes, which had once looked upon him with faith and pride, showed only dark regret, and even darker resent. He had caused this, brought it upon himself.. for Saga and for him. To find his brother a place to belong to, and prove to himself that he could....

Could what? Fix the world?

He had needed to know that he was strong enough to survive alone, and now he knew he was. He also realised, that he did not want to live alone... not like this. But even if it meant that he would suffer, he would save those he loved.

That was why he had chosen this path.

"Leave, now."

"What on earth are you talking about?" Claroscuro demanded, eyes flashing dangerously.

"Leave Sanctuary, leave Greece. Find somewhere to be happy and hide...." he stopped as he saw the fury in his teacher's eyes, the unforgiving glare. "Please..."

Claroscuro stared at him, eyes softening ever so slightly as he saw the look of profound despair in the boy's eyes, and hardened again as he remembered who and what he was facing. He didn't understand what was going on, nor did he intend to find it out. Things were over between him and Kanon; they had been that way for a long time now.

"Leave? Escape my pledged duty to Athena and let you destroy her shrine if you can? Go to sleep Kanon, and prey that Saga is lenient with you tomorrow. I wouldn't chance it," he hated speaking those words, but there were all he could say to the boy now.

It was over.

"Teacher... you have to leave!" the urgency of that whisper rattled the older man, but he refused to cave in nonetheless.

"Leave me alone Kanon, please... just this once... let me be." The sorrow in his deep voice was too deep and ingrained into him, and Kanon felt it too. And at that moment he knew that whatever he said... was useless.

"Sleep well... Claroscuro," he muttered, and walked away.

When the child was gone Claroscuro slumped down on a rock, covering his face in his hands. "Kanon...."

But there was nothing he could do. The best he could pray for, was that Kanon died a fast and painless death tomorrow, and that Saga would listen to his advice from that day on.

He could hope for a better future, and Athena's everlasting reign.

Perhaps...

* * *

Dawn greeted Blood harshly, even though sunlight did not reach his room- it being underground- mornings never failed to sneak into his private heaven. He pulled away from the hands that shook him lightly, trying to close his ears to the deep smooth voice that impatiently called his name.

"For Athena's sake, Blood, get up!"

Blood frowned, trapped in that half-dreamy state, and groaned unhappily. "Must I?"

A sigh was heard. "You told me yourself Gemini will be contested for today, so get up! Have some dignity to hold on to your cloth." The tone implied nothing more than serious criticism, but Blood would have sworn he heard a slight shade of.... affection?

One pale blue eye cracked open slowly. "What will you give me for getting up?" Ganymede huffed slightly and allowed himself to smile, though his eyes had a strange dull shade that unnerved Blood. "Have you been crying!?"

The Aquarius saint raised one thin grey eyebrow in evident irony, grey eyes glinting like hard-polished mirrors, with everything to reflect but nothing to give. Too closed up, too dead, too....

Inhuman.

Blood shivered and smiled weakly. "Have you?" he pressed on.

"You know the answer to that: I don't cry."

Life is often built upon lies... Ganymede knew that better than anyone else.

"Let's go Blood, it's our duty as Gold saints," his voice was the same monotone it had always been, so why did he seem so weak today? Blood got up groggily and ran a hand through his knotted hair.

"So much for sleeping in..."

Ganymede shook his head in defeat and got up from the edge of the bed where he had been sitting, silvery hair falling over one shoulder like creamy moonlight. "Nothing in life is the way we wish it to be."

And even though his tone was light, Blood looked up sharply in surprise. The grey stare he received was just the same as always... though perhaps there was something indefinable that was different today, so akin to his usual detachment that he could not see it clearly. Blood frowned again and rubbed his eyes sleepily.

"No... I guess not."

Or so he thought, as Ganymede left his room after a few minutes, leaving him alone.

"Is that why you look so sad today?" he asked no one in particular, and laughed to himself impatiently.

* * *

Kanon opened his eyes slowly, flinching away from the offending sunlight.

He should be getting up... he was about to do so -although it was still very early- when he felt steps outside his door, and heard the familiar creak of the rusty hinges as it was opened carefully. He closed his eyes quickly, confused about this morning visit.

It was Saga, he felt that cosmo as if it were his own.

Why was he here? To kill him before the official fight? To poison him? To tie him up in his sleep?

"I know you are asleep... so you won't hear me, but I needed to say this..."

Kanon forced himself not to move as he heard his twin's low whisper tickling his ear, feeling his weight as Saga leaned his arms on the foot of his bed.

"I... didn't meant those things I said."

And having said this, he turned and left the room just as quietly as he had come in.

Kanon only curled up under the sheets, he would allow himself to cry when this day was over.

* * *

"So... this is how it will be?"

"I'm sorry...."

"You are always sorry, but it's never your fault in the end, Dana."

"You are taking it awfully well...."

"Don't smile if you don't feel it, I knew the time would come sooner or later, I'm just surprised to find it will be in less than two years."

"You shouldn't smile if you don't feel it either."

"I'm almost 400 years old, death is not such a bad prospect, besides... I fulfilled my duty to you, didn't I? And you have already chosen the new 'fateless ones', haven't you?"

"Shion...."

"Just tell me one thing Dana... will you be okay?"

"I have Chrono."

"And this child... Saga... he is going to initiate the cycles by killing me?"

"Yes."

"I'm going to miss you, little lady."

"So will I."

"Don't cry, you must have seen this happen countless times already."

"And I cry every time, so let me be."

"Dana..."

"I'm sorry Shion, I really am!"

"You're just saying that because I'm your pupil."

"And because yours will be left alone."

"Kage can take care of himself... trust me."

"I know Shion... I know."

" Now if you excuse me, I must attend to the pledging ceremony of my future murderer."

"Don't smile if you don't feel like it."

"Trust me on this one: there is plenty of humour in this situation."

* * *

Claroscuro strode into his temple slowly, admiring the perfectly symmetrical structure that had been positioned so it would overflow with light, and yet cast shadows as dark as night through the halls. His temple, soon to be passed onto another. The weight of the cloth was strange, it squirmed and shivered in anticipation, knowing what today would bring.

Finally, after almost 30 years of service, it was over. He would no longer be Gemini as from today. He would never again feel the dark pressure at the back of his mind, that cloying shadow that whispered on unheard, that pale snake that lurked behind his eyes and hissed. Never again.

At least... not him.

"Will you miss it?" a soft voice drew him out of his circling thoughts. He turned slowly and smiled at the Aquarius saint.

"A bit. This has been my home -and duty- for as long as I remember." He paused, and gave Ganymede a lopsided grin when he saw the approaching figures. "You all came to say goodbye? It's not like I'm going to leave Sanctuary you know."

"You are part of the order, it is only fitting we greet you as such... one last time," Ganymede looked away finally, grey eyes fixing on the walls coldly.

"Well Claroscuro, it seems like we won't be seeing you for a while!" Blood walked into his temple laughing, Pisces Magus only a few steps behind. Closer to the other side Cancer Pathos strode in followed by the pale shape of the Virgo saint, Sylph. "Famous last words?"

"Why are all of you so intent of proclaiming me dead?" Claroscuro laughed, accepting Blood's hearty thump on his shoulder stoically.

"Just giving you a decent farewell," Pathos' heavy Italian accent never failed to gain his attention, perhaps because he never made any effort to improve his Greek,or English... or anything for that matter. Pathos stuck to his roots like a man holding on to his life. An ironic simile -Claroscuro reflected then- considering he worked as a hired killer for the mafia.

"Thank you for it, but I would much rather you devoted yourselves to giving my inheritor a decent welcome to the order!"

"Sure thing, Ganymede and Magus will hold his arms while I punch his lights out!" Blood purred cheerfully, angling his hips like a cat as he leaned forward to smirk in Claroscuro's face. It took the Gemini saint's whole heart not to burst out laughing.

"We-ell...." he intoned, lifting a hand to stroke his chin speculatively. "It's not quite what I had in mind... but..."

"Don't worry. Even if Blood is a terrible influence on anyone, you will be around to guide him. Everything will work out fine, Claroscuro." Ganymede brushed his silver locks behind his ears and gave him a vague smile, almost unseen. "It might even be fun."

Claroscuro nodded, feeling too grateful to this young man, whom he had known from the very beginning, and seen him develop from trainee to full Gold saint. If Ganymede trusted in this, being as cold and unwilling to set faith or affection on anything, then things should be all right.

"We might all go and draw portraits after this is over," Claroscuro murmured, drawing a widening of Ganymede's lips to appear.

"If Dana agrees to come... perhaps." And that was it. His face closed up again and he strode out of the temple silently, leaving them all behind as he headed for the coliseum.

Pathos and Magus walked up to him, both smiling coldly. Magus shrugged and sighed, while Pathos spoke up in his lilting -accented voice. "Let us hope the cloth chooses wisely. If not, I'll move to Italy for good."

"I love it when you are optimistic Luis," Blood drawled from behind.

"You would love me more in bed," the other replied with a casual look over his shoulder.

"Touché."

Claroscuro could only laugh, and let them pass as they too made way to the battle arena, leaving him alone with Sylph. The pale man gazed at him sadly and bowed his head. "I can only hope today brings good news."

"And you? Why are you so gloomy?"

"I had a dream... it was not a good dream. I am afraid of what tomorrow will bring, or how good a master I will be..." Sylph's eyes darkened slightly.

"You found your pupil?" Claroscuro could not help feel curious.

"I saw a boy... who has no feelings, a divine child who thinks it can become God..." The Virgo saint shivered and looked away. "But he is so powerful... powerful enough to protect Athena from what is to come."

"What is to come?" Claroscuro frowned, taking a step towards the shorter man.

"Forget it, we can talk about this later..."

But they never did.

* * *

The coliseum was bursting with people, almost everyone in Sanctuary had come to see the fight, as it promised to be not only a wondrous display of technique, but also the resolution to a conflict that had already lasted for too long. The deafening noise of shouting and muttering was carried through the wind like a brushfire, drowning out the soft padding steps of the Kyoko as he glided down the main staircase and into the arena. Higher up, the former Gemini Gold saint Claroscuro moved to sit among the crowd, having left his cloth and title upon the dais over the upper rim of the structure. The two trainees stepped into the arena and bowed to the Kyoko, and the crowd fell silent almost at once.

"You know the rules, you know the result. Fight fair, fight well... fight for Athena." No one noticed the odd look he gave Saga, not even Saga himself. But Kanon did see the odd shiver that passed through the older man as he became the centre of his attention, and became frighteningly aware of the fact that this man might know more than he let on. "Let the fight begin!"

Kanon felt cold all of a sudden, his vision dimming as he saw his brother's eyes taken on a vicious glow as he lunged forward, cosmo crackling in defiance. He heard the low whisper of the crowd as they witnessed the fight in awe, heard the Kyoko's sharply drawn breath and, above all of that, he heard the slow steady beating of his heart.

I am alive -he thought- here and now... I am alive.

And over the sudden roar of blood in his ears, he heard another sound, softer and smoother than anything else he could perceive; a prayed litany. He heard, as if in a dream, Claroscuro's low voice whispering over and over...

"I'm sorry, so sorry... sorry... sorry...." so softly no one could hear but him, and not even him should be able to hear it. "I'm so sorry Kanon..."

The world cleared in one sudden blinding flash, and Saga was still there, only one step forward from where he had been when he blacked out, still running forward with murder on his face. Still here, still alive. The roar of the crowd flashed through his mind as they saw him unmoving. But he could move faster than light, even though Saga couldn't yet.

So he did what he had to do, and let things be as the had been made to be.

The Coliseum as a whole screamed in confusion as, in one smooth motion, he flowed past his brother and flew up the stairs. Saga's cry of fury too far away to be of importance, he ran up the stairs and through the crow, hearing their surprised cries as he headed upwards and not towards the cloth.

Higher up, Claroscuro rose to his feet smoothly, purple hair billowing in the dry wind as he opened his mouth to say something, anything... and lost his breath. Golden eyes filled with tears as he looked down and saw Kanon's fist imbedded in his stomach, and felt his pupil's ragged breath above him. It took all of his will power to look up, and face those blue eyes.

He was crying too.

"I'm sorry teacher... there was no other way..."

And for the first time in years, Kanon opened himself up and let him feel his heart, probe his feelings and see them, taste them. Claroscuro closed his eyes and coughed, blood falling from his mouth to stain Kanon's chest. Below and around them, Sanctuary screamed: they ignored it.

Kanon felt his teacher 's cosmo reach him, felt him slip through his soul and touch him, feeling his heart and finding... him. The real him. The child he had thought lost. Claroscuro's eyes opened and fixed on him finally, tears of pity and forgiveness shinning there, falling down his cheeks as the golden glow began to fade.

"Forgive me..." The boy whispered in his ear. Claroscuro smiled painfully, blood trickling down his chin, and closed his eyes. Silently and slowly, just as smoothly as he had reached in, Kanon felt his teacher's cosmo slip away into nothing... and die.

* * *

Saga looked around himself, the looming structure suddenly too big and alien to him. The feel of his cloth too unreal, too light and heavy all the same. Too... confusing. He didn't understand it, or the strange lurking feeling of something else, stealing into his heart in every beat. He swore he could hear a soft whisper coming from somewhere, but he wasn't sure where, or if it was even real.

"Gemini Saga?"

He turned to find a familiar tall figure walking into his temple. "Scorpio Blood," he greeted lowly, his throat still raw from screaming. "Is my teacher..."

"He was buried while your wounds were cared for.... are you all right?" It was such a human question, so out of place in this palace of dark and shadow. So strange to hear someone ask that when his teacher was dead, and he was a Gold saint, and his brother....

"I don't truly know..." And that whispering sound grew louder, like a caress against his cheek. But he couldn't quite make out the words. Was it calling him....?

"May I ask you something... personal?" Saga looked up at the redhead's sky blue eyes, seeing the glossy shadows of pain and confusion dance there like swirling blue flames. Like Kanon's eyes. He looked down and fisted his hands.

"O-of course."

"Why didn't you kill him?" Saga's head snapped up savagely, his eyes glimmering with unshed tears.

"What was I supposed to do? He could have killed me, yet he didn't.. he didn't want the cloth he just... wanted to..." Saga looked down, pressing a hand to his forehead as the whispering took on an urgent and almost crazed intensity, the words almost clear for him to listen, almost... almost.... "What is that sound...."

"What?" At Blood's question he realised he had spoken up.

"That sound, like a whisper.. can't you hear it?" he murmured, choking on his own tears. "I couldn't kill him, he is my twin... he didn't want to harm me, just... Claroscuro."

"What if he becomes dangerous to Sanctuary for real?" Blood frowned, seeing the boy's unfocused look as he stepped back to lean against a pillar.

"Then I will.. get rid of him... myself," he growled softly, lifting his other hand to his head, trying to squeeze the insistent humming whisper out of his mind. "...that sound..."

"Very well then. You are a Gold saint, and we shall respect your decisions..." he touched the boy's shoulder lightly, making him look up. "Go to sleep now, Gemini Saga... your life starts tomorrow."

Those soft words, that gentle touch... without knowing it, Blood had earned the young Gemini saint's trust, and his friendship. He would stand beside the tortured youth, even when Kanon became uncontrollable. Neither suspected what their relationship would engender, and how. Saga came to trust the moody Scorpio with all his heart, just as Blood never suspected evil from the soft-eyed youth.

And then, years later, there was Milo... but by then it was too late.

* * *

"Don't cry... he forgave you, didn't he?" Dana ran his chubby fingers over Kanon's cheeks, brushing away the tears she could catch. He said nothing, staring straight ahead as tears fell down his cheeks endlessly. "Kanon, don't cry..."

"Let him be Dana..." Chrono moved closer to them, pulling the ancient child up from under her shoulders and way from the huddled figure. "He knows."

Kanon closed his eyes and buried his face in his knees, ignoring both of them.

".. he knows there was no other way...."

There was no answer from the slightly trembling shape.

"... that is why he hates us..."

Kanon didn't even look up, he just curled up tighter and cried his heart out.

It would be the last time he cried for decades - he vowed it would be so, and so it was.

* * *

No more than a year later, on a stormy night, a lone figure crawled up to the Kyoko's shrine. Shion had been waiting for him for quite a while. He had said all he needed to say to Dohko, and it was time to let go anyway, it had been a long trip -this life of his- and he was tired. He gazed up at the clothed figure, seeing his wild eyes and trembling fists.

He didn't even flinch when the hit registered, he just stared deep into those maddened eyes and cried silently, for all that could not be. A cycle was beginning, at long last. Chrono and Dana would take care of it, he knew... So he didn't even struggle, it was inevitable after all. The pain was over all too soon, and his vision became watery and diffuse. Through the darkness, he heard his pupil's cheerful laughter, and mourned.

No one knew that Shion died that night, for the Kyoko still ruled....

... behind his mask.

Not long after, as people say, the rebel Kanon was imprisoned at Sunion Cape and left there to die. Gemini Saga became known to all because of his gentle heart and kindness, and the Kyoko ruled high and mighty on his thrown, ready to protect Athena when she came.

* * *

Somewhere in the world, a white-haired woman looked up into the stars. They were shinning so bright she thought they might fall down like glittering rain... the world needed something like that to purify it. Someday maybe....

"Excuse me?"

She looked down and smiled, violet eyes lighting up. "Yes?"

"Can I buy those flowers?"

...someday maybe.

End of Part Three: "Inevitable Destiny"


Toffz:

Once again, to my dear Pollux, with all my heart! *grins*


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