Flight on Torn Wings

Chapter 3: Impossible Feelings

© 2001 by Sofía 'Toffee' Francisco

This page was last modified: 2001/11/10


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"I never looked at a last adieu
To things familiar, but my heart
Shrank with feelings, almost pain,
Even from their lifelessness to part."

- Miss Bowles -

Milo:

"Athena?" I walked up to her and bowed, my knees touching the cold stone as I hid my eyes from hers behind my hunched attitude. She said nothing. "My lady?" I ventured, lifting my eyes a fraction.

Cold black pools of emotion glanced down, as if my presence were unimportant. They softened after a few seconds, then filmed over as tears gathered; they were left unshed.

"He disappeared," she whispered, and I could sense the heavier question behind those simple words, my incrimination. "Why?"

I shivered, remembering Hyoga's lifeless gaze as I turned my back to him and left. As I turned my back on him. Goddess... I could have helped him! But I hadn't, I couldn't change what I was overnight. I couldn't make myself good and holy just because.

I failed you Camus, in every sense of the word!

"I said things I shouldn't have told him," I murmured, the weight of Athena's eyes on my shoulders made my skin prickle.

"Have you any idea of where he might have gone to?" she inquired blandly. And still... behind all that I could hear the anger in her voice, the confusion. I dared look up higher, and saw Mu standing behind her, in the shadows.

- you brought me into this...-

I let his aura absorb the message, saw him flinch and shake his head.

"Mu suggested you could help... nothing more. I chose," Athena punctuated, having caught my message to Mu through the link she held to the cosmos of her saints.

"Lady, I am sorry... I just..." I stammered. What could I say? What was I to do? I had failed all that was important in my life. Was there any bond that I had not brought to shame? Saga's brush-off turned me into a heartless hedonist, Camus became my confessionary yet I never moved a finger over his problems, and now...

"It's not your fault, Milo," she said at last, with a honesty that amazed me. "It is ours. One cannot harness a creature like him with promises... birds are meant to fly. To bind them with chains means they are to be light chains... thin ribbons that can ride the winds with them, and still be there. Yet we humans, by definition, need heavier chains to secure us to the ground. Our feelings are down-to-earth and direct, how can we understand the need for ungoverned love and freedom?"

"Lady?" it was Mu, drawing closer in confusion. He too, was startled by her words.

"Oh yes Mu, right now I am human too. Very human." She smiled sadly at this. "Human in my heart. Hyoga is human only in body. How can you explain to my Bronze saints something so alien to them as that? He craves for higher feelings, he believes in friendship and love stronger than he believes in me, he fights for his heart. Seiya... fights for me."

"Then why did you choose me, if you knew the damage I could do to him at this point?" I cried, staring deep into her watery eyes. She frowned.

"Do you consider yourself human, Milo? You, who can love a monster," and I felt faint as she said this, and at the look of utter knowledge in her eyes. "You, who can love a creature made of ice; you, who can inspire terror and passion and lust and hatred and... even love. Aren't you an embodiment of all the crazed instincts that we call "human"? And still, you are no more human than Hyoga. You hurt yourself and those around you because your instinct demands you protect yourself from love, you fear your humanity as much as you accept it is your essence."

"Why are you telling me this?" I whispered, taking a step away from her. Mu was paler than I had ever seen him.

"Because there lies the reason of my choosing you and not someone else. You are a wild mix of emotions, of beliefs and hopes...yet you are crippled by your own untameable instinct. Just like Hyoga is torn by his lack... Lack of something you have had aplenty. The only thing that keeps you from flying freely is that you don't trust in the ribbons you were given -once betrayed you will never trust in them again- you choose to stay on ground for fear they will be torn from your wings, whereas Hyoga tried to fly with iron chains bound around him. The chains held... but his wings were torn."

"Two lonely people do not make a whole," I stated, shaking my head sadly. Mu glanced up at Athena, and I saw her smile at him and nod. What had passed between them?

"No, but I offer you a chance to become whole on your own. Give him the chance to have a true bond and fly, and he might just give you a bond cast in steel. It will he harder to soar with, but nothing can be more real than that."

"You chose me because you think I can help him find himself?" I shook my head in disbelief.

"I chose you because you are the only one who can teach him what he needs to know," she replied, smiling sadly. "If you can realise what it is yourself."

"And you won't tell me," I asked lowly.

"Of course not," she shrugged.

"I take it this means I am still in charge of him?" How could she blindly hand me the fate of one of her chosen ones, knowing I might end up killing him myself.

"Do you wish to be relieved of that duty?" she murmured, eyes lidded.

I closed my eyes, and remembered... a brave man, fighting me beyond human endurance; a child, cradled in my arms after hours of battle; a thought, a concept that made Camus' eyes grow soft; a broken child, dull frozen eyes staring up helplessly; a possibility...

A hope?

"No."

"Then that's it," she brushed her hands on her dress and smiled again. "Of you go."

"You're not telling me where he is?" I asked, amazed at how this meeting was being led.

"You already know where he is... Milo," and there was a warning of danger in her voice. A sudden alertness that seemed to hint and the fact that I should make haste to find him.

"I don't understand? Where could he be?"

"Where is directly tied to "why", as you must know. So, if a bird looses its wings, what is the only thing left to it?"

Fall....

* * *

Mu:

"Lady Athena, he will be furious at me," I muttered, leaning against a pillar.

I could feel Milo as he ran out of the temple and summoned his cosmo to teleport. And then, try and locate the child. But surely, if Cygnus didn't want to be located he would not flare his cosmo.

"Why? You didn't tell me anything!" she answered, eyes lost into nowhere as she slowly retreated from my aura. "Milo is like a closed book, and he tries to avoid my cosmo for the precise reasons that we saw today. I needed you as a link into his heart and soul. Following a preestablished path is much easier than throwing down walls to make a new one."

"He will think I told you everything about him," I sighed. Milo, when angered, was an unpredictable force. He had proved that by driving Cygnus away. "Do you think he'll find him?"

"If what I saw in him is true, then he knows where to find him. He has been there himself."

I glanced up at her face, but encountered only an unreadable mask that had fallen over her features.

"You could have stopped Hyoga yourself..."

"And I could order him to live. He would obey because he swore to do so. But... is an oath enough to keep him alive? I'm afraid one more oath to bind him would only serve to break those wings for good. And I want my swan to fly."

"So very metaphoric of you, lady..."

"Are you mocking me?" there was defiance in her voice now.

"No, I'm just... confused." Which was the truth, I didn't really grasp the whole concept of what was unfolding here.

"You are not human either, Mu. And while Hyoga and Milo live for passion -denied or accepted, both are valid- you live for different purposes, your feelings are bound to your duties, your capacity of wonder is limited by the knowledge that you will outlive us all. We need passion to enjoy our short lives and make them worth. You have more time to learn to shine. Both will burn just as bright, only... you will burn longer." She gave me an odd look then., then she turned her head and closed her eyes.

"I think you are mistaken my lady..." I smiled sadly then. "Humans will always shine brighter, simply because their short life-spans force them to live to the very limits. I, however, am not given to passion or extremes."

"Perhaps..." she whispered, eyes misty. After all, what beings were older than the gods?

"But you believe he will save Cygnus," I pressed on. Athena chuckled softly and shivered.

"I wish I knew... but with beings like them, how can I?"

* * *

Hyoga:

I walked through the crowded streets in numb silence. Soft gasps and questioning murmurs arose around me as the people who passed by took notice of my heavy step. Of course, a blonde man in a hospital robe wasn't what the Japanese would expect to find wandering through their streets, was it?

But this was the only way... I had exhausted myself by teleporting here, my aura was so low I doubted anybody would be able to locate me at all. If someone thought of doing so, of course, which was improbable.

God... it hurt to move, and I could feel the warm pain of blood soaking through some of my bandages. I was going to die here. But...

I wanted to die here.

Not because it was easier, but because it was the right thing to do. No matter how many friends I had, how many people cared... no one cared enough.

That thought brought an odd smile to my lips, Isaac would have said I was being selfish. But then, Isaac had Camus' full attention, Isaac had no trouble in giving because he always received. That was the point, wasn't it? One couldn't live for half-loves and half-friendships, if there was nothing real and tangible - wholehearted!- to fill in the gaps. Camus would have through me to be so weak, if he should see me now.

And Milo... I didn't want to think of Milo. I knew I had hurt him, I knew as I snapped back at him that I meant nothing of what I said, I just wanted to know the truth. And in his anger, he told me.

A duty.

That was all I was, that was all I would ever be. A weight on his conscience, a string attached to one of the many promises he had made. Because Camus was dead, he had to take care of me now. But Camus was dead because of me; for me! He was saddled with my well-being, yet he could not help hating me, I had taken his best friend away, and now he was forced to look after the deliverer of his nightmare.

It was ridiculous.

Oaths could bind just as strongly as love, but they did nothing to fill the heart. And now, bound as he was to help me, I became nothing but an unnecessary bother. Like I had been to Camus. And I wronged Camus too, didn't I? I was nothing to him, and I took his best pupil from him. But he took his revenge on me for that, didn't he? Both Camus and Milo had been hurt by my existence, all I brought to them was death. And my brothers... did they even see what awaited them? One of these days one would try and die for me, because our oath -that bloody oath- stated that we would die for each other. And then what? Their perfect friendships would be ruined, misbalance would be brought and that would be the end of it. It made so much more sense for me to die for them, for if I died for them, they would still have each other. So I had to die. For all those who had died because of me, all those who suffered because of me... and to save those who still had something to hang on to, from my curse.

People stared at me, curious, mocking, uncaring. It really didn't matter did it? I walked past without even glancing back once, forcing my aching muscles to respond by sheer force of will when physical endurance was not enough, and when even that was over, I let the memory of Camus guide me forward.

I'm sorry, I couldn't become what you wanted me to become. I killed you... in vain.

In vain.

I can't. I can't be what you want me to be, just like I can't live the life everyone else wants me to live, I can't do any of those. I can't even find myself anymore. So I'm sorry, but I have to do this. I have to.

Now.

There was nothing left for me, nothing I could look forwards to save for duty, and even though my pride told me I should settle for that, it just wasn't enough. I had been lying myself for too long, lying to my own memories in search of something that would never happen.

I had hoped up to now that I could someday manage to make Camus proud of me, and the one time he ever spoke those words was when he was dying, thinking that he had made me what Isaac should have been. I treasured my memories of Siberia, but now... it was time to let go. I had been trying to forget about Isaac's death and Camus' reaction to it, but I never could. And now I never would, so I had to do this, before I was snagged into some other meaningless excuse for a war. Before I made another mistake, before I killed someone else.

(Is it true? Is it true that you fight not for Athena but for something personal!? Answer me!)

Isaac...

(there's an underwater current here, beware of it, for if it catches you, you are as good as dead...)

I was too tired for this now, too tired to even try to remember. Too tired to fight back the memories that swarmed me, pushed me forward, higher and higher, so that I could finally fall from grace and end this.

(You killed him!)

Since that night, hope had been lost to me. I had tried to ignore it, but... how I could I forget? How could I let go of the memory of Isaac's warm arm around my waist as he fought to bring us both back to the surface of the frigid waters? How could I forget the eerie red streaks of blood that stained the water after he lost his eye? The caring desperate touch of his cosmo, pleading me to live when he could not, to become something that was born to him and alien to me? How could I?

I had passed out from exhaustion and lack of oxygen as soon as my body hit the icy surface, by the time I woke up the stars were out. For a moment I fumbled and cried out softly. "Isaac?" But there was no answer, he wasn't there. I reached out with my small cosmo, and found nothing, not even a trace of his cold and noble energy. I struggled to get up on my feet, the world swimming about me in a white haze, the pain in my head driving me to my knees as soon as I tried to walk.

"Isaac? Where...?"

I stumbled up to the hole in the ice, finding it sealed by a fresh layer of frozen sea. There was no sign of Isaac's body either. I shivered, pain drilling into my head as a dark void opened up inside of me, a sudden aching vacuity in my chest that left me even more breathless than my fever.

Isaac was dead.

I had killed Isaac.

The enormity of the thought, the guilt and fear, the utter desperation that finally overwhelmed me made me crumple on the cold ice, trembling to contain my tears and my pain as the world shifted in and out of focus.

"Isaac!" I cried out, my eyes burning as I reached out as far as I could and did not find his aura. "Isaac! Please!" He had to be joking, he had to be!

It couldn't be like this! It made no sense! Isaac was Camus' favourite, Isaac was here before me! Isaac was to whom he looked in pride and.. and...

He was dead.

Isaac was dead and I was alive. Isaac was dead because I was alive... he had died for me. I let out a scream of anger, arching my back as a sudden coughing fit tore my throat raw and left me gasping for the few precious breaths I could draw.

God... I was dying?

No... I had to get back to the house. I had to tell Camus about what had happened, I had to live and make it up to him! I had to be there now that Isaac was gone! I had to be there because he was gone! I had to become what Camus wanted me to be, whatever it was, to pay for this! For Camus...

And then I hated myself, for behind the altruistic sacrifice I imposed upon myself there was the urge, the need, the question... would Camus look at me with pride now? Would he smile at me, and tell me -if only he would!- that he was proud of me? Just once? Just once!

I don't know how I managed to reach the cabin, and how it was that I did not faint halfway along, but I made it there and when I did, I was greeted by the most macabre sight I had even beheld.

:you killed him!:

"What...are... you?" it was all I could whisper, my blood turned cold in my veins as hundreds of eyes turned to stare at me, their lambent shines a proclamation of guilt.

:you killed him, but that is all you are good for:

:he died because he was weak:

:you are weak too:

:yes... he is weak too, and he killed him:

:the other one:

the stronger one:

"Shut up!" I cried out at the top of my torn lungs, and the figures shifted and tittered slightly. Children all of them, hundreds and hundreds of ghostly children whose pale translucent bodies blended in with the snow and the sky. Their clammy unreal flesh smooth and indifferent, but their eyes glowed like vicious knives.

:you killed me too! didn't you?:

:all I wanted was to become a saint of Athena...:

:my parents died so I was sold to him...:

:...I was brought here after the war:

:he hit me all the time! I tried to fight back but it was too much!:

:it hurt so much, it was easier to sleep!:

:cosmo hurt...:

:I didn't want to die! Athena was waiting for me!:

:was it so wrong to want to be a hero?:

:teacher...:

One by one, or all at the same time, they voiced their fears and hates and wants and dreams, all the while staring at me with the hatred of ones wronged by others such as me. They drew closer to me, their freezing presence chilling my heart and making me want to scream and cry and curl up like a little boy.

"Get away from me!" I shouted. They took no heed.

:you are going to join us soon...:

:...he hates you too:

:teacher... why did you kill me?:

:athena!:

:daddy! don't leave me here! daddy!:

:I want to be a saint:

:you killed him!:

I was dying!

I ran past them, conscious of their following me into the house, conscious of the other hundreds who waited inside, their childish or adolescent bodies clad in furs and skins, torn garments, and so much blood! There were gaping wounds in most of them, their eyes blazing with the inner fire of the dead as they followed me around.

:you are going to join us, aren't you?:

I sobbed once, softly, as I pushed through them, feeling their bodies give way against mine and I collapsed in front of the fireplace, trembling as the fever took over and the spectral shapes of all the dead trainees that had ever come here hovered over me, waiting for the moment I died. Until I no longer knew what was going on, and the insistent voices of the children were swallowed up in the thrumming pain in my head and all I could hear was a toneless whisper, a murmur of a thousand voices that made no sense and just went on and on and on... at one point I must have been lucid enough to light a fire, hoping the warmth and light would scare them away, but they stayed. They remained as they where, happy, sad, hungry... waiting.

Until something changed, the tension in the air perhaps. Strong arms lifted me up with infinite care, a cold hand pressed against my forehead, so soothing... so real... I shivered and opened my eyes, fighting back the pain and drowsiness that threatened to win the battle. Dark blue eyes gazed down at me, cold and fathomless as always. I tried to work my mouth, to tell him I was sorry, to tell him I would make him proud of me, but the rising murmur of the children made my head pound. I looked at him pleadingly.

"Sensei... make them... go away..."

He stared at me in confusion, eyes widening ever so slightly as he saw my fevered eyes. I felt faint, too afraid and too hurt to fight back, I leaned into his broad chest - so strangely warm for one as cold as he- and shuddered in a spasm of fever and pain.

"So many..." I whispered desperately, wishing he could understand. "Leave..."

:he doesn't care about you:

:he didn't care about me... he killed me!:

:always for athena...:

:no feelings, no heart...never:

:nevernevernevernevernever....:

"Hyoga, where is Isaac?" He shook me gently, but I felt as if he were tossing me around. I moaned and tried to steady myself as the room swam out of focus again. "Hyoga... where is Isaac?"

Isaac...?

:daddy! don't leave me here daddy!:

:athena... saint of athena...:

:I only wanted to show you I could! I didn't know he would die!:

"Isaac..." I swallowed back my tears and looked up at him, a silent plea for mercy and understanding. An impossible petition. Impossible.

"Where is he...?" the soft demand, my damnation.

"Isaac is dead..."

I don't remember what else happened after that, all I understood was that I had told him, and that in my fever he had had a glimpse of the truth about my visions. Fear made me toss and turn in my bed, the fever twisting my thoughts into cruel mockeries of the truth. Camus tended to me there and then, odd, detached and completely unreachable. Already then he was lost to me.

A few days later I woke up lucid, the fever gone and the pain numbed. Yet the truth of what had taken place hung over me like a crown of thorns, and I waited for judgement. Until it came.

"Hyoga... come here" the tone of his voice spoke nothing of his feelings, nothing of his state of mind. I walked into the kitchen where he was, hesitantly, trying to swallow back the lump in my throat as his limitless blue eyes regarded me coldly. I saw him frown, and his lips pressed into a hard line.

"H-hai?" I inquired, unconsciously slipping into Japanese for a few seconds under the weight of his gaze.

"What happened here?"

I looked down and bit my lip, tears threatening to fall down my cheeks as the memory of Isaac, and the useless way in which all his potential had been wasted, came unbidden to my head. I tried to speak, but nothing would come, and ended up shaking my head as all coherence left me.

"Hyoga..." there was anger there, at the centre of his baritone voice, a warning tremor that made me want to die right there and then.

"Isaac is dead," I whispered lowly.

"That much I have gathered," a new roughness came into his voice then, fed by the anger and incomprehension that made him all the more stoic and cruel in his stance, with his feet propped up nonchalantly on the kitchen sink.

"He... I... I tried... I mean, wanted to... go and see..." I stammered, tears finally winning over as my vision swam and I felt their warm salty caress on my cheeks. I took in a deep breath, trying to make sense of what had happened and find a way to tell him, to tell Camus that for me Isaac had... "I tried to go down, to see my m-mother."

He breathed in sharply, a hissing dagger of sound that bespoke his anger. I stopped and stared at him, eyes widening as he visibly fought to control himself and motioned with a hand towards me.

"Go on."

"He warned me not to... sensei.. it's my fault, he warned me about the currents and I..." he lifted his hand suddenly, cutting me off short.

"Don't stray off the subject, where is Isaac?"

"I got caught in a current... he saved me but..." and then he paled truly. In one smooth move he stood up, chest heaving as he stared down at me in anger and hatred and utter disbelief. I bit my lip and looked down, and then up at him, trying to find the kindness and yearning for love I had thought I had seen in him all these years.

"Sensei...?"

He lifted his hand without a warning, and struck me on the cheek so hard I fell to the floor. I bit my lip to keep myself from crying out, and trembled silently.

"You... You..." and the hatred in his voice was unparalleled, the disgust was too much to bear. "You killed him!"

I felt the world open up below my feet, the void in my chest growing until it enveloped the whole universe and I was alone... alone... I struggled to my feet, gingerly touching my reddened cheek.

"I'm sorry..."

"How can you say you are sorry!" he cried, eyes flashing violently. "Who will be Aquarius now!?"

I winced and looked away, understanding all too well what he meant. Isaac had been the true pupil while I was only a momentary afterthought, a small useless precaution. Nothing more.

"I'm sorry..."

"Be quiet!" he hissed, making me pale. No... it couldn't end like this. I had to pay for my crime, I had to prove myself to him. I had to become what Isaac wouldn't be here to accomplish. Perhaps he hated me now, but he must have loved me once! He must have believed I had potential for something or else I wouldn't be here now! For those times, for the past... for our future!

"Let me try," I asked suddenly, glaring up at him determinedly.

"You could never become the Aquarius saint," he replied angrily. His eyes glazed over, as if he had turned into himself and was staring into his own mind. I clenched my hands and glared back up at him, pale and shaky with a sudden resolution I had not - till then- thought I could accomplish.

"Let me try." And I did not raise my voice this time. He looked down, dark blue stones chidding me for my insolence, my stupidity. My uselesness.

"Don't be ridiculous... you... you..." he faltered, to my own surprise. As if his true disgust towards me could not be expressed in simple words. He shook his head, he looked around and seemed to be lost for a few moments before he spoke again, voice bordering on being venomous. "You will never be fit for that!"

I bit my lip and looked away, my resolve crumbling under the weight of his utter disbelief in me and the loss of Isaac, that finally settled in on me. Tears sprang to my eyes and I blinked to hold them back.

"If only you hadn't..." a mutter from between gritted teeth, a contempt I had not thought him possible of, not him. Never him. It was just too much. Wasn't he even going to grieve for Isaac? Were we both so little to him!? Or if Isaac was so unimportant as to not earn a single tear... what was I?

"I said I was sorry!" I cried, balling my fists and staring back down at the floor. I simply could not stand the anger and coldness that radiated from him. And then, to my further surprise and disbelief, he turned around and backhanded me. I was pushed off my feet by the sheer impact of his blow and rammed into a wall. I had never imagined he could have such strength... that he was capable of brute force.

"And you think that will fix things!?" Strong hands grabbed me by the collar of my shirt, pulling me up roughly.

"Sensei..." I whispered, looking into his eyes beseechingly.

"Shut up!" he threw me down violently. I clenched my teeth and kept silent, breathing lowly like a cornered animal. This couldn't be real... it couldn't... this wasn't Camus. The Camus I knew wanted to be loved, he cared for me, he loved Isaac... he would never attack anyone like this, he was cold but not frozen, he had a heart! I trembled and looked up, searching his face for some sign of recognition, a flicker of emotion, of regret!

There was nothing at all.

Cold eyes, cold anger, cold pain, and beyond that: detachment. Disgust, terrible disgust! His fists were raised, and his cosmo crackled violently, like a primal force begging to be set free. It was a monster... Camus was a monster! But even more than that, I knew right there and then, that he had never cared for me, never wanted or welcomed my openness and love. I had deluded myself into seeing an angel where all there was... as ice.

He struck me one last time and awlked past me, up the stairs and into his room.

It was cold all around me, unbearably cold, and Isaac's death seemed too gruesomely real. Better like this though, for he never had to find out what I now knew. Unless he had already known it, and that was why he always condemned me for being so emotional. Perhaps it had been like that after all... always...

I curled up slightly as sobs wracked my body, and though I struggled to remain silent it was too much and too soon for me to be able to swallow it in silence. Until I had no more tears to shed, and my throat was too sore and rasped to be able to produce any sound. Only then, when the moon was high and I knew that Camus was asleep, did I get away from the wall and stumbled numbly into my room. Alone.

A part of me died then... it was no the first and it would not be the last. I hardened my heart to Camus and became the dilligent and toneless pupil he must have always hoped I would become. It was the best I could do... I never really managed to stop loving him. I had clung to him too strongly, and just as the love refused to vanish so did the pain, as the fear of loosing him became the realisation that I had never had him in the first place.

Two years later I won my cloth. He sent me a letter telling me where it was and that was the last I heard of him until the day he failed to kill me, making me kill him in turn.

And here I was now, with his blood fresh on my hands and the pain no less than before. Alone, so terribly alone that I couldn't begin to explain it, so alone that no one would comprehend my drawing away. So alone because there had been nothing there to begin with... the story of my life. Here I was, no better than before, just as weak, just as useless.

I had, indeed, been deluding myself for too long.

That was why I had exhausted my cosmo in coming here, hoping that it would be the last place anyone would search. That was why I struggled step after step, up to the overstreet bridge, because there... there... at last....

I stumbled up the last steps and lurched forward drunkenly, grabbing hold of the railing to keep myself upright. One glance at the hectic bustle of cars below made me gasp in fright and desire. Yes... why on earth waste time on an elaborate and heroic death? Why waste time at all... why... live...

I grabbed a supporting cable and pulled myself up into the railing, shivering when I saw the luminous flashes of colour as cars passed by in the dark, illuminated momentarily by a light there and there. God yes, this was it. I closed my eyes, wanting this more than I had wanted anything, ever, before. The wind blew and I arched my back slightly, letting it push me over slowly, into...

"Are you going to jump?" I jerked and practically fell over. But surprise triggered my own damned survival instincts and I regained my balance after a moment. I turned my head around slowly, shocked beyond words as my eyes confirmed what I had thought I heard, and then the pain returned. God, why was he here, why had he come? I felt a heavy weight settle within me, pulling me down. Why had he come? Didn't he want this too? Shouldn't he?

"Yes," I replied in a monotone voice.

He bit his lip and took a step towards me, I tensed and glared back at him, challenging him to come closer and make me jump himself. Even now, I sought to hurt him, because I clearly had nothing else to give. He stopped, his eyes growing strangely liquid, the dull glow of desperate impotence lent him a childish light. Did he even know why he was here? Was he so bound to his word that he couldn't let me save myself from life and free him along the way, simply because he had promised to do so? I was nothing to him! Why on earth was he here!?

"So... are you giving up?"

There was such a strange emotion in his voice, almost like regret, but it could have been fear too, or worry, or nothing at all. Why did I keep on doing it? Playing the stupid game of letting myself see things that weren't real? I closed my eyes, not wanting to see him, and opened them to embrace the night sky, the darkness below my feet that would sure stretch on forever and into nothing. Oblivion.

"There was nothing to give up on, in the first place." There had never been, at all.

"Wasn't there? What about your family? Your Goddess?" I felt the urge to laugh when I heard his arguments, but I was too tired and in pain. My family? My Goddess? Did they even know I was out here, about to kill myself? No, they didn't, and there was no reason for him to be here either. I already knew the truth...

"They... don't need me. I am not..." not what I had wanted to be, not what they had wanted of me. Not what the world needed, and not even good enough to hold myself in one piece. But most of all, to them, and to anyone, I was not... "... indispensable." And the urge to jump became almost unbearable.

"But they love you." Did they? Did they really? They cared for me, nothing more. Just like to him I was a duty, to them I was an imposition. I had nothing to give them, and they wanted nothing. They just cared.

"I know." Perhaps for someone else this affection would have been enough, but I needed a lot more to hold myself upright, to even see a point to fighting.

He twitched, a soft movement that could have only been a supressed urge to get closer to me. Then his eyes fell, staring beyond the barrs on which I stood, to the cars and trucks that hissed by. He really thought he could stop me, didn't he? He really... wanted to. Why? God, Why!? Hadn't he made his point already? Hand't he!? His eyes shone with pain as he lifted his gaze again, as if by merely looking into me he thought he could reach my soul. As if he knew and understood the pain and total loss of hope that had flooded me. That had beaten me. As if he wanted to tell me that there was hope, that there was something more than what I saw. But I knew there wasn't, and I was tired.

Tired of being a nuisance, tired of hurting the ones I loved, tired of being nothing more than a friend, tired of risking others becuase of my flaws, tired of the ghosts that haunted my days and nights and most of all, tired of killing, over and over and over again.

"So... that's it. You choose the coward's way out," but his words did reach me, piercing what little pride I had left. The cowards way out? Was there any other way out? Wouldn't I be even more a coward if I chose to live and continue to hurt others, simply because I feared death? How could he! How dare he presume to understand me!

"Shut up. You don't know how I feel," I spat, my fingers tightening their hold on the cable as the wind blew through my thin hospital robe, upsetting my balance. There was a shift in the air then, a change of tension, and I felt Milo's aura quiver in contained fury as a boiling hatred washed over my senses: his own emotions amplified by his anger. He took a single breath and I felt him tense, ready to kill.

"Then jump if you are so bent on it, but don't make me loose my time anymore!"

I whirled to face him, my ears ringing with the echoes of his cry of rage in my mind. That he had actually said it, I could not believe it. He had... he had... told me to...

And it was truly the last straw, tears fell down my cheeks as I regained my focus on the situation and I saw him again. I opened my mouth to say something, an apology, an insult or maybe nothing at all. Maybe all I had wanted all along was for him to say it was okay if I died now, because it would do him - if no one else on the short run- truly happy. Maybe I had hoped, even now and against all logic, that he might be here for something more than duty... or that duty would be good enough. But it wasn't, and it would never be.

I smiled weakly, my eyes burning with unshed tears and saw his face, his surprise, a drunken stupor that had stolen over his unmarred features and held him locked and frozen.

Goodbye.

He was moving then, I saw him through the mist in my eyes, crying out inarticulately as he strethced out towards me. But I had let go of the cable faster then he had been able to move, and while he reached out in desperation I could already see and hear the roar of the street below reaching up to engulf me in darkness.

* * *

Milo:

I had a dream once, that I could change the world and fix my mistakes all over again. I had a dream, that I killed hundreds of children as I stood in front a burning church and told no one, said nothing. Like I had in fact done, as a child. And when I woke up screaming Blood rushed to my side asking what was wrong, as the groggy yet solemn face of Aquarius Ganymede peered at me from over his shoulder. In the darkness of my pain, and the fear that ate my soul, Gabriel came to stand before me with a disapproving look in his eyes.

"Why are you crying?" he asked me coldly.

Blood stared down at me, expecting the same answer my friend had asked.

"We are all murderers in the end... aren't we?" I inquired softly and heard Ganymede shift and sit on a bed.

"Does it matter?" he countered lowly, grey eyes unfeeling.

"Shouldn't we fight to save others!?" I demanded, caught in the awful vision of screaming children.

"We fight for Athena, and she fights for the earth and its people... isn't that enough?" Blood had asked, a wicked smile spreading accross his lips.

Looking back... I never answered his question.

"Haven't you ever wanted to believe in something... Saga?" I had asked my love, years later. "Something worth fighting for?"

"Not Athena?" he whispered, burying his face in my neck.

"Not Her," I replied, running a hand through his silken hair.

"I guess... it would be... love?"

"Would you kill for love?" I had pressed on, feeling a strange tension bunching in his shoulders.

"I would die for love," he murmured. But I knew he was lying when he said it.

Though I knew that he would die for Athena. Like Blood...

"It's just the way things are, you can't make people love each other, you can't force feelings or make the dead want to live by simply showing them the sunlight." Blood laughed and patted my shoulder affectionately, though the teasing smirk did not leave his eyes. "For all I know, to show them what they cannot posses will only make them hate you further..."

"What is hate, then?" He laughed and picked a flower roughly, crushing it in his hands.

"The only kind of love that lasts..." he whispered and looked up at the sky strangely. He had known, all along, he had known the truth was and what it mean. He knew it because he had suffered it, and somehow that knowledge had reached Camus and prevented him from gaining that same knowledge from experience.

"And if there is no passion?" Camus didn't even blink at my question.

"What if there isn't?"

"What is left then? What is worth living for when that is gone?" I had cried, balling my fists.

"Don't you know?" he muttered quietly. No, I didn't... I wanted passion and joy and hatred and anguish but never the cold silence in which he lived. I wanted something my heart burned for because time had taught me that I could not live for...

For...

"I guess we all live for duty," Aiolia had said once. "If we break our word, there is nothing left to us."

"What about love? What about hate?" I growled. He had flinched and turned away.

"We aren't allowed to love here, no one is."

No one is.

"But my life is important because I am living it now, beside my friends!" Hyoga's voice, tight with pain and determination. The same determination that had shone in Camus' eyes and that I had heard in his voice when he said to me, so gently and for the first time in his life with affection...

"Friends... Always. " Accepting to feel when he knew he should not while I accepted to love when I knew I shound't have, and I went on loving even after it destroyed me.

"We are murderer's in the end, aren't we?... Saga?"

"Go to sleep Milo."

"I love you, dammit!"

And he had told me that he loved me too. At least I had been granted that much: to have someone love me and actually say so. What would have become of me otherwise?

"Why are you even here?" Hyoga's voice again, so sad. Did any one ever tell him that he was important? That he was truly unique?

"But that is the main problem, don't you see? Even if love was possible, we can't ever say it. Not because we aren't allowed, but because we are afraid." Blood....

"But of what, teacher?" he had smiled darkly and laughed out loud.

"Ourselves."

"I chose you because you are the only one who can teach him what he needs to know," Athena.. what am I supposed to teach him?

"If you can realise what it is yourself."

* * *

Hyoga:

The thundering in my ears did not stop, not even when my vision faded because of the tears and the wind, and the passing cars blurred into nothing at all. It felt like an eternity, as if my body was falling forever, unstopably, into the blotched darkness.

Yet a sudden weight hit me from behind and I felt as it pulled me down, wrapping around me like a poison ivy as the world spun out of focus.

In the end, all I could do was scream.

I...

I really...

...really wanted to...

"Live? But you are alive!"

"Not like that... I can't really explain it. But I feel that the only way to die in peace is to have truly lived!"

"Hyoga... as long as your heart is beating you are alive, end of the subject."

"Don't you wish for more? Don't you want to..."

"To what?"

"...be loved?"

"We don't have time for that... we never will. Our destiny decided that we would be beyond such banal things, we will defend a Goddess!"

"Isaac..."

"What good will love be to you, who will love you in turn?"

...really wanted to...

.......fly........

The End of Chapter 3 -- To be Continued


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