Flight on Torn Wings

Chapter 1: Aftermath

© 2001 by Sofía 'Toffee' Francisco

This page was last modified: 2001/07/11


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"You smug faced crowds with kindling eye,
Who cheer when soldier lads march by;
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go."

- "Suicide in the Trenches", Siegfried Sassoon -

Hyoga:

There was a terrible sound, and the world turned black. Or was it white? Everything spun around me, everything was hot and cold and hot and....

I moaned and tried to move away, because their hands were hurting me and I was so tired, all I wanted to do was sleep. Sleep.... But they woke me up, they were pulling at my clothes and through the blinding white light I could hear their voices, crying out and calling to each other, lifting me and pushing me down and telling me that I was going to be fine. I wanted to tell them to leave me alone, but I had no voice. All I could do was hang limply in their hands as they asked, and touched and whispered to me.

"You....be...fine....don't..."

I was barely able to make out their words, but their soothing tones warned me. They wanted to reassure me, but of what? I wanted to sleep! Let me sleep!

I thrashed in their grasp and heard them cry out and try to hold me down, voices panicked as they groped for me and told me something I could not understand. The white light hurt my eyes... I hurt everywhere, why didn't they leave me alone! Through the pain and confusion, I felt a small sting in my arm, like a needle....

I tried to twist away but they held me down and stroked my hair whispering incoherently.

And after that I knew no more.

Through glass, darkly....

Somewhere in the Bible I had read that phrase, or had my mother read it to me? It had been son long ago, and I could hardly remember. Yet it was how I felt.... so caught behind a window, squinting through the shadows to see... nothing. I thought I moved, but then perhaps I didn't. I tried to listen to any sound, but all that came was a quiet murmur, like the sea.

The...sea?

I opened my eyes, dazed and unfocused; and found myself standing on the edge of a cliff, the night sky a dark blanket above my head. Below me the sea whispered enticingly, a million twinkling bubbles of foam whose quiet murmur made me dizzy and seemed to beckon me. As if they were calling my name, telling me to...

I turned away, afraid of the lure; afraid of the sudden ache to obey, to listen to their foamy voices and just... just....

:fly.....it's not so hard, just fly!:

I groaned and closed my eyes, not wanting to hear them or their silky temptation.

"Leave me alone!"

:but you could fly! Beyond this world... fly... fly and crush your bones against the stone...:

"Go... away...."

:fly to us, and all will be quiet... fly down and all will be...:

And then, through the din of their voices, another one rose. Deeper, stronger, coming from the land before the cliff, with the strength of the stone and the warmth of a thousand glaciers.

"You can't fly. You could never fly."

I opened my eyes, and through the rising mist I saw him.

Camus.

"Sensei...?"

:....fly.....:

"You could never fly, that's why I hated you."

And he was moving closer, and the voices were singing in unison, and there was no longer the sea below but solid stone, dark and cold and wanting.... wanting of me.

"Camus, I just..."

:...and you can fly forever here...because the stone....:

"You killed Isaac."

:... is all there is.....:

"So I hate you."

He walked towards me, and placed both hands on my shoulders. I looked up into his eyes, and saw their dark blue gleam, as cold as they had always been, staring down at me icily. I tried to lift my arms, to touch his hands, to speak to him and ask him to forgive me, that I had only wanted to...

To make him proud.

"But that doesn't matter now. I'm dead and I no longer need you."

I couldn't speak, my voice had been drowned by the voice of the non-existent sea, yet I could still hear him, and feel his cold hands on my shoulders.

Dead hands.

"I no longer need you..."

:... no more pain.... fly.... just fly.....:

"...no one does."

:....and.... fall....:

And the hands on my shoulders were pushing me backwards, until there was no more land under my feet and the cold black stone rushed up to meet me.

"Tranquilizers! Doctor, we're loosing him!"

"Hold him down, Jesus Christ, Nurse, hold him down!"

"Morphine!"

"Shh.. calm down, calm down, please calm down it will be all right...."

"His heart rate is dropping doctor!"

"Don't worry, everything will be all right from now on...please..."

"Hold him down!"

"Doctor!"

So cold... it was so cold down here, and it hurt so much to even move. I didn't want to move, I just wanted to let go, to sleep forever.

...fly....

And never wake up again....

* * *

Milo:

I got off the bus hurriedly, and ran lightly up the steps that lead to the ample estate. Or soon to be ample estate, more accurately. Half of it was still under heavy construction, and the sound of welding and nailing was almost deafening. I blinked in utter surprise, and more than a little wonder. Only three days, and already she had gotten this much built?

Never mind she was a Goddess, Saori Kido had quite a way of moving mountains. Or at least building temple-like mansions from one day to another. A hectic japanese touch to poor little Greece.

I shook my head at my own thoughts, and breathed in resignedly. There was no running anywhere, no place to hide. Athena had requested I come here and talk to her, and that was all I could do.

I stepped through the half built gate, noting the artful design of the bars that would - metaphorically speaking- serve as protection to this modern day palace.

"Excuse me sir? May I help you?" A young girl with almond eyes squinted through the sunlight to get a better look at me. Her accent was terrible, and I could tell by her looks and demure stance that she was one of Athena's oriental attendants.

"Miss Kido requested I come and speak to her."

"Oh, you must be Milo.." she faltered as she realised she did not know my surname, and I saw her blush in shame.

"Just Milo, yes. Can I come in?" I tried hard to sound warm and friendly, unwilling to create any trouble among my Goddess' servants.

"Oh yes, please follow me!" her relief was evident and I could not help but smile. Yet as I stepped through the room and felt Athena's cosmo, laden with a dull pain that I should have expected yet somehow surprised me, it was as if the sun no longer shone so brightly. I would have given anything to not have to come here, and I had been trying all day to make myself feel as if it was nothing.

But it wasn't so.

Three days ago Camus was still alive, three days ago Saga still dwelled in the Kyoko's shrine... three days ago my life still had a reasonable meaning. So now, even if our Goddess had appeared, and we - the saints- has something to fight for, I felt as if I had nothing.

No pain lasts forever, yet while it lasts....

I would have preferred to go somewhere else. Leave Greece for a time until I could cope with the memories and loneliness and the ache in my chest, that would not go away.

"Please wait here." The young girl bowed to me, and scuttled away stifling her giggles. It took me a few minutes to realise that she was giggling because she found me attractive. How long had it been since I stopped paying attention to that?

One or two months at most? Probably less....

"Milo?" the soft cultured voice of Saori Kido made me stiffen and turn around woodenly. I would have given anything to not be here, not have this conversation. Whatever it was about. Didn't she realise that I hadn't truly fought for her, but for myself? For Saga and Camus? She sighed and closed her eyes, her lower lip trembled and she stopped moving less than a metre away from me. "I know..."

I jerked as it became clear that she was reading me. "Don't... I hate it when anybody does that."

"I'm sorry, but right now I can't even trust myself, and I need to feel if you are completely honest, because otherwise you can't help me." She sighed again and opened her eyes, dark and moist, like twin stars gone nova, taking all light into them and giving nothing. I felt a sliver of fear run up my spine.

"Athena...." I murmured.

"I'm not here as your Goddess, Milo. For now just call me Saori, please."

"Why did you summon me?" I whispered, feeling the tightness in my chest become almost unbearable.

"Because I need your help. There are things no even a Goddess can fix, and... Mu suggested you might be the answer to this problem." She fidgeted nervously with the folds of her dress, and I was even more surprised to find that my height and stance intimidated her. Her, a Goddess!

"Mu? What does Mu have to do with this?" I felt anger rise in me, my throat going dry at the thought of what he might have told her. Was this about me and Saga? Was it? I clenched my fists and tried to control my aura from becoming overly violent. My nerves were already to frayed for this.

"No, no!" Saori cried in anguish, reaching and taking one of my hands into hers. "I know about that... because I felt it in the cloths and Mu told me a bit -albeit not much- but it's not about that. Milo, I can't recriminate you for your own reasons... we all have them, the point is that you are here now and... I need you."

"Why me?" I asked, unable to comprehend what it was she wanted from me, if it was not to question me on my motives... on my past.

"Because Mu said you could help, he didn't really tell me why he chose you... and if you can't, then there is no one else." She bit her lip and looked away, letting go of my hand.

"I don't understand."

"No, your probably don't, not yet, at least." She looked up suddenly, her look turning determined. "Walk with me and I will explain."

It wasn't until we had left the estate way behind that she spoke up again, never looking at me as she did. "Have you ever felt as if you are powerless? I mean, no matter how strong your cosmo is..."

I winced slightly. "Always," I admitted softly. "Especially towards those whom I..."

"Loved?" she completed my sentence questioningly. I nodded numbly, unable to muster the strength to answer vocally. She went on. "I feel like that so often too, and the more power I have, the less I can help those whom I really want to help."

I gave her a surprised look. This was not the I-love-the-world-and-all-its-people speech I had expected, it was much more human.

"Oh yes, in the end I am human too, you know? And now all I want is to help those I love, and I can't!" she sounded close to tears.

"How on earth am supposed to help Pegasus?" It was the instant assumption, the only reason why she would sound so...desperate. But instead of crying out at me, she laughed.

"Oh, I had that one coming. But this is not about Seiya," her voice became serious again. "Though you are right in thinking it is about one of my saints."

"I still don't understand."

"Just follow me." And she turned right, into the front garden of a large hospital. At first I thought it was a joke, but when she stepped smoothly through the glass doors I hurried up and followed her. I blocked my senses as I stepped in, not wanting to feel the anger, pain and desperation that clung to hospitals all the time, it would be too much in one day.

"Why are we here?" I demanded, feeling unnerved by the pristine white walls, and the smell of disinfectant and flowers in the air. Saori didn't reply.

I followed her through the halls, sticking as close to her as decorum permitted, hating the feeling of human agony pressing down over my numbed senses like a cloying mist.

"I hate it too... but hospitals can't help being like that." She stopped finally, and crossed through a door to a clearly restricted area, though the nurses nodded and let her in. So were going to see her saints?

"In a way, yes..." she mumbled, and stopped in front of a window. I looked in and gasped, then covered my mouth. "It's okay, they can't hear or see you."

Inside, Pegasus lay on a bed, sleeping fitfully. The Dragon saint sat in a chair beside his bed, his head dropping forward from time to time in exhaustion. "Shouldn't he be lying down?"

"Shiryu insisted on keeping an eye on Seiya. It was a traumatic experience, and Seiya will need him- he said. We let him, there was no use in arguing," she sighed and bid me to follow her. "They need each other, and right now that's all they have; they don't want to see anyone else, not even me. Too much has happened... too fast."

"But they are all right?" I whispered, even though she had assured me they could not hear.

"People always need each other. They need to feel loved, and wanted. They need to feel that they are... special to others. As long as they have that, nothing can truly destroy them... or their memories. Right?" I looked way, unwilling to go into that subject now, only a few days after the deaths of so many. And they had all died for her. Did Saori feel the weight of the sacrifice she had brought unto herself?

The next panel was more of the same, and still it was different. Phoenix lay atop the sheets of Andromeda's bed, one arm loosely curled around his little brother. Both slept peacefully. "Phoenix thought his little brother needed him?"

"Ikki needed Shun, and the other way around too. But I think Ikki's need was greater." I frowned, seeing the bandages and needles that kept their vital signs carefully checked. The Dragon saint seemed to be the less battered one so far.

"They really depend on each other, don't they? All of them.. I mean..." Yet as I spoke, something begant o take shape in my mind. I looked into the room I realised what it was that had been bothering me.

Someone was missing here.

"What about Hyoga?" If Saori noticed that he was the only one of her Bronze saints that I called by name, she did not mention it.

"Come with me," she whispered thinly. We walked down the hall, a few rooms down until we reached another occupied quarter. I leaned forward on the window and looked in... and felt very cold and sick all of a sudden.

Hyoga lay alone in his bedroom, bandages covered him in odd patches, and he shivered and jerked in his sleep. I could tell even from a distance that he was in pain, and that his sleep was not free of nightmares. He turned and tossed restlessly, in the silence of the room.

He was alone.

"Why isn't anyone with him?" I asked, feeling anger burning at the pit of my stomach, though I could not tell where it came from. Saori clasped her hands in front of herself, and bowed.

"I brought you here to be with him." she murmured. "Please Milo, be with him for a little while and maybe..." she stopped when she saw my face.

"No."

"Milo, please he..."

"NO!" I had enough with myself! Who did she think she was, asking me to nurse this boy? As if I didn't have enough problems.. as if Camus hadn't been slain by him, now she wanted me to coddle and feed him! No, dammit! I would not! "Was this what this was about?" I growled lowly, keeping my voice down in deference to the sick.

"Milo..."

"Was this it!?" I hissed, and saw her take a step back, tears glimmering in her eyes. I was beyond caring.

"He needs someone..."

"And that will not be me, he has his four little friends to help him."

"But Milo, they..."

"I said no! For Your Own Sake!" I cried out finally. She fell silent, and looked way, at Cygnus' trembling form.

"It's okay," she whispered at last. "You can leave now."

I turned around and walked purposefully out of the hospital and back towards Sanctuary. Mu and I had some serious things to discuss.

* * *

Mu:

"Um... teacher?"

I looked up from the pile of bronze rubble I had been examining, blinking curiously at my pupil's pale and shaken expression. "Yes Kiki?"

"Scorpio Milo is here to see you..." I let out a breath and extended my aura to feel the situation around and inside my temple. "... and he's not happy."

"I see....."

* * *

Hyoga:

It was awfully quiet, and for a moment I felt fear prick at my mind's awareness, a sharp stab of reality in the endless void. The darkness was warm, almost soothing, wrapping itself around me in soft silence, like a heavy blanket. Like a loved one's embrace, perhaps. I closed my eyes again and sighed.

There was no more pain here, and nothing else seemed to matter.

"Hyoga?"

I turned around slowly, trying to recognise the voice. It was so familiar....

"Hyoga?"

It was so dark, and the muffling silence had crept into my bones by now. Why did anyone want to see me? Why now?

"You are right... why would anyone want to see you?"

That voice....

"No one loves you, except your mother... and she died for that!"

I knew this person. And yet...

"Like Camus. But he didn't love you, he just needed you to fulfil a purpose."

This person was...

"Because you were not good enough to be what I would have been!"

Stop it! I wanted the silence back, the warmth! Why did this voice talk to me! I am sorry! I didn't want to do it! It was an accident!

"And yet you killed me. I was better than you, and you killed me."

No....

"Camus always liked me best, and you killed me for that!"

No.

"Second best, that's all you are."

No!

"Always... second.... best..."

Isaac...

* * *

Milo:

"How dare you do this to me! Mu!" He gave me one long stare, liquid eyes running over me coldly from head to toes, completely expressionless. "Mu!"

"Dare? How dare you refuse!" he spoke lowly and calmly, yet I could sense the anger in his tone, and it shocked me. Had I ever seen him angry before?

"Oh, just because she is my Goddess now I am her slave? You told her to choose me!" I growled, balling my fists. His eyes flashed dangerously, the colour drained from his face.

"No, this is not about Athena."

"Then what is it!" I took one step forward, and froze. Mu had flared his cosmo so it enveloped the temple. Never before had I seen Mu act so aggressively, and yet here he was, tense and ready to.... fight? Fight me?

"After all we have done for you, all the understanding you have got from all of us, you dare turn your back on this? You have no right to do this, Milo."

"How can you say that! Do you know what you are asking of me?" Why did I suddenly feel like pleading? Why did the though of helping this child unsettle me so?

"Yes, I do. But do you understand it?" His gaze did not soften, and I felt a cold sweat break upon my forehead. "All these years wanting to help Camus, wanting to forget Saga... poor Milo so alone and in pain! And now what? After Camus saved you so many times... you will turn your back on him!"

"That boy killed Camus, I am not turning my back on him! He was my best friend! How can you say that!" I screamed in rage, my aura breaking loose and slamming into his. Mu didn't even flinch.

"I say what is true. Don't blame the child for what was inevitable."

"Inevitable! What do you know about inevitable! I could have stopped him! I could have killed him, but I let him through, I even stopped the damage I had done and let him through! I let him pass only to go up and kill Camus!" Suddenly, I didn't feel at all well. I groped support and leaned against a pillar. "I let him...."

"So... in fact it was you who killed Camus, and yet you blamed the child?" Why was he doing this? Why this anger?

"Stop... I don't..."

"You let him pass... didn't you?" I shook my head, trying to aviod him. "Didn't you!?"

I looked into his enraged eyes, and felt nausea wash over me. "Yes." And then I looked down, unable to bear the weight of his look.

Mu sighed then, and looked away. "And yet... you didn't kill him either."

My jerked my head up, only to find his eyes were closed. "What do you mean?"

"No one killed him. He chose to die for the child, and that something beyond you, or Cygnus. But it is true that you both loved him, and that you are the ones that suffered the worst through this war." He fell silent then, and locked his gaze with mine. "You both lost so much, and gained so little by comparison."

"I don't understand...." I shook my head, trying to clear it and see what he was trying to show me.

"It's not over yet... you could still win something. Or at least... atone for what was done. Or not done, in your case." The meaningful look he gave me made me shiver.

"What do you mean 'not done'?"

"It was always Camus who helped you, wasn't he? He kept you moving, he kept you... alive. It's time to pay him back for all those years of friendship, don't you think?" At last, his voice softened, and he became the Mu I knew.

"Was this why you told Saori I would take care of Hyoga?"

"Camus died for him... willingly." I bit my lip as he said this. "And now you are both alone. It wasn't your fault, you must learn to understand this... and make him understand that he didn't do it either. And understand that he is not alone."

"But he isn't! He has all of his fellow Bronze saints!" I pushed myself away from the pillar, breathing agitatedly as I sought to find sense in all of what was being said.

"No, he doesn't, not really. And now he doesn't have a teacher either. And you don't have Camus any more... and Saga died in this war too..." He smiled oddly, and gave me a soft caring look. "But you could find something to hang on to..."

"Both of us?" Mu sighed and shook his head.

"You owe this to Camus, Milo. He saved you, and now that he is dead... it is your duty to pay back and save that for which he died."

"How could I make a difference?" What could I do, that would help Hyoga? I didn't even fully understand what was wrong with him... why was he as lonely as Mu claimed?

"Find it out for yourself... and you might find something else along the way."

"Like what?"

Mu only smiled. "You'll have to figure that out for yourself too."

* * *

Hyoga:

I opened my eyes again... how many times had I opened my eyes already? Everything was blinding in its whiteness, I curled, ignoring the pain. Where was I? What was this? I tried to extend my aura, but pain flashed behind my eyes like electricity, making me jerk and shiver. Where was I?

Dimly, I could hear voices... people....

It was so white... and I felt so hot, and it hurt to move... was I dead? Was I dying?

Where was everyone!?

Shun... he was close by, and Ikki was with him. I could feel them together, wrapped in the comfort of each other... they needed each other, always. Shun... needed Ikki more than.... anybody else.

I tried to reach out to them despite the pain, but they shut me out. They were closed around each other and refused to let anything, anybody in. Ikki needed Shun, after all, more than anybody else.

Through the heat and the painful white glow all around me I pushed forward, trying to reach out to them. Seiya was here too... and Shiryu... we all were. But where was this place?

And they too were keeping everything out, they too wanted to be alone.

It hurt... they were hurt and so much had happened.

I knew something had happened, but I was so hot and tired, I didn't want to make the effort to remember.. not now...

But why didn't they talk to me? Why didn't they reach out to me as I reached out to them? Why did they stay like that, with each other, and leave me out?

They needed each other!

They just didn't... need... me....

Not me.

(...that's why I hated you...)

Camus.....

Camus!

I cried out and tried to get up, but there were hands holding me down, and voices crying out all around me. Why didn't anybody answer me!

Shun!?

Seiya!?

Shiryu?

Ikki...?

Somebody....?

(...that's all you are...)

Hands that held me down became lighter and less painful, and the voices grew distant and unimportant, the white glow intensified for a few moments, and then faded away into darkness. Into the soothing shadows....

(...second best....)

No one was answering... no one was talking....No one would, after all...

(...always...)

Always.....

* * *

Milo:

The nurses nodded and smiled, letting me in. So... Saori had left orders to let me pass just in case I came? I sighed, feeling my chest tighten. On how many levels were we manipulated by our Goddess? Did Mu know... did she know that I would eventually say yes? I walked in determinedly and bowed slightly to the nurses as they smiled. I walked through the halls of the restricted area, into the area where the Bronze saints were. Only then did open my senses, and let it all come in.

Athena had put a barrier to block out the rest of the hospital.... all I could feel where the auras of those within the barrier. It made sense... the children were psychics after all. I spread my aura and stopped in surprise.

I was being blocked?

I probed in that direction, and found not one more barrier, but two. Four of the Bronze saints had constructed crude protection lines, to keep all aether disturbances out of their detection. Blocking the world out...

Only... four of them...?

I walked trough the hall where they were kept, and saw that the arrangement in each room had not changed, and Hyoga was still alone. They were keeping him out?

(Too much has happened... too fast.)

I reached out to touch their auras, and felt the jolt of their defences coming up.

(...they don't want to see anyone else, not even me.)

Hyoga had probably felt it too then... They had all gone to whom they needed the most, the person they were the most important to... but Hyoga...

He was alone.

My eyes burned as I reached out with my senses to touch his aura, and found him curled in upon himself. I looked around, and saw no one. I opened the door and went into the room. A nurse looked up anxiously as she heard the door.

"You... are Milo, aren't you?" I nodded and walked up to the bed. Hyoga didn't even register my presence. Or he was ignoring it, for I had touched hi aura strong enough to be detected.

"Yes. Could you... leave me alone with him?" I saw her frown, but she got up and left. So... Saori had left orders about this too? I half sighed half growled and moved to sit in a chair beside him. "Hyoga?"

He stirred slightly, struggling with the fever and the pain to respond.

"Hyoga?"

I saw him shiver and curl away from me, as if trying to escape my voice.

"Hyoga...?"

And then he opened his eyes at last, and looked up at me. Like shards of ice, only infinitely sadder and deeper, but shining just as brightly. He looked at me, and flinched as my face finally became familiar. I felt his aura change from pain, to anger and then to fear. He was afraid of me?

"Hyoga?"

He licked his lips, eyes still focused on mine; frozen. As if there were no more tears for him, as if there was nothing for him anymore. "I'm dead," he said at last.

And it was not a question.

The End of Chapter 1 -- Continued in Chapter 2


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