Unbroken

Part Five: Saga

© 2001 by Sofía 'Toffee' Francisco

This page was last modified: 2001/03/02


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Author's Note:

Okay... before anyone says anything... This is not the last chapter! Due to...excess inspiration? The whole fic was lengthened a bit. This chapter was originally a part of chapter four, but that would have made a 100-page chapter so... er...I changed the order. Chapter six is the last chapter (really, no joke this time), but there's an interlude before it so...plenty to go! *smiles*


Unbroken -- Part Five: Saga

© 2001 by Sofía 'Toffee' Francisco

"Another life -- another time
We're Siamese twins writhing intertwined
Face to face, no telling lies
The masks they slide to reveal a new disguise
You never can win -- it's the state I'm in
This danger thrills and my conflict kills
They say follow your heart, follow it through
But how can you when you're split in two?"

Milo:

Athena...if you really exist, and there is truly a meaning to all of this, then please, let it not be true.

I stood stiffly, the starlit sky shining oddly as the last traces of gold and purple faded into darkness, the clouds throwing streaks of paler hues over the heavens. Not a sound could be heard, not even that of my breathing. I bit my lip and took a step closer to the exit of my temple, the world seemed to swoon around me, wavering in and out of focus as I fought the numbing shock and tried to steady myself.

Goddess, please no, not him...

A part of me screamed in anger, another in pain... another simply stood there, mind clouded as I tried to understand what had happened, tried to clear out the facts, to deny what I had felt.

No... please no...

My chest felt heavy, as if some unseen power had reached into my heart and twisted it in its grip, tearing what remained of my soul in half, leaving nothing but a gaping wound and a cold searing pain that I could only vaguely acknowledge. I felt cold, frozen and blinded with nothing to lean on and nowhere to turn, no sense to be found.

No... oh Goddess no...

The cold faded slowly, to be replaced by a burning white hot agony that had nothing to do with my body, and everything to do with my shattered feelings. I breathed in raggedly, stumbling and almost falling, steadying my weight on a pillar as the world went out of focus again.

No...

I gasped, pressing my cheek against the cold marble, drawing what little calmness I could from the ancient stone. The ache in my chest grew no lighter and I slumped onto the floor with a stuttered moan.

"Please no..."

It hurt, in ways I had not thought I could still be touched. I tried to swallow but my throat felt tight, I tried to stand up but I didn't even have the strength to move, my body was unresponsive and all I knew was that it hurt.

"Camus..."

And then it was too much. I let out a strangled sob and gritted my teeth, leaning my head against the pillar as I fought my heart and soul, to keep them hidden or even dead, but I could not. My eyes burned and I let out a hoarse scream of anger, slamming my fist on the floor.

"It can't be!"

The echo of my voice faded after a few seconds, leaving nothing by the aching emptiness in my soul, in my temple, in the world. There was nothing. Warm tears fell down my cheeks, the only warmth to be found in the unending hollowness that was around me.

"Gabriel..."

I did not have the strength or the heart to move, I knew the truth even though I tried to deny it. He was dead.

Camus was dead.

I leaned forward and hid my face in my hands, feeling the tears trickle over the smooth golden metal of my cloth. I let out a small sob and sighed. I didn't even have the heart to cry. The numbing shock had faded, leaving me dazed and... alone.

It couldn't be true... he couldn't be dead.

All around Sanctuary I felt the auras of those still alive shift and roil in surprise, reaching up to the tenth temple in search of confirmation, some tried to reach me... asking, mourning, questioning. I reared upon myself and blocked them out. I wanted to be alone, to grieve him myself.

Because he was all I had, and now he was gone, and I hadn't even been able to say goodbye.

Camus...

(I'm sorry... I don't love you)

Goddess, please...

But I knew it was the truth... Camus was dead. And the last of my soul had died with him. I never told him, that I wanted us to go on together. That I wanted to go off with him, after the cycles, to travel and find our place... together.

(You are... You are the most important person in my life. But I don't love you)

But I was important to him... all these years, all our lives... he had been there for me because I was important to him, and I had grown to love him more than I could explain, as a friend, as a lover, as a brother. He was all I had and now... now...

"Don't... Camus"

But there was only silence... and death.

* * *

Saga:

Somewhere in the back of my mind, something moved. I tried to focus on it, on this barely noticeable light, this soft call that brought me up from the hidden depths I had been forced into, pulling me back towards reality and the truth. I struggled to make sense of it, feeling only pain and confusion as I reached the outer borders of my mind, nearing the narrow division between one self and the other. The Other growled in anger, drowning me in its searing golden light, urging me to go back down, to dream. But I had heard something, a voice that I had tried to forget, a creature that I had dreamed of for so long, and now...

- forget it - said the Other - dream, I am here to do the rest -

The rest?

I thought briefly of Athena, who was somewhere close for I could almost feel her, but I was too submerged under the layers of darkness to know for sure where, or what was going on. It was not her who called me. I fought to open my eyes, to regain some control over my body, my mind, and recognise the voice.

- don't, you don't want to remember -

I was so tired of hearing the Other, it grew to be too much in the end. Not knowing where I was or what had happened, never truly realising the moment I was no longer myself, but a vague recollection of a self trapped in the recesses of the Other's mind. Never truly noticing when he and I were no longer one and the same... pieces of me started to loose themselves from my memory, floating around until they were gone, until they landed here... where I was, or in the dream. Perhaps I was not really myself, only some memories with the encoding of an individual... part of me as also part of the Other, and this part of me knew what was going on. I was not myself, but I had to try and become that again... if only, to know who was calling me.

- NO! -

That voice... it had been part of this dream... and I knew it. All I could make out of it was blue eyes, and dark skin... yes, I knew that. I had felt it, I knew what it tasted like. Blue hair? Yes... blue hair, almost purple in the light... I knew that it was soft. I knew this voice, I knew this face. It had meant something, it still did, and it hurt so much to think on it that I almost gave up. The Other didn't want to think of the voice, it knew the voice could make me awaken. The part of my self that was in the Other screamed in pain and refused to remember, to acknowledge, but still it knew the voice meant something. I twisted in desperation and anger, trying to gather together all the little pieces of memory and thought, to separate them from the dream and remember the voice. To remember the person whose smile had meant more than life to me, when I was still myself and not a divided thing that merged with the Other. Aching to remember the pleasure I knew the voice had brought, the simple joy.

- forget it, the dream is all you should want -

The dream... but everything in the dream was unreal, and the voice was only a lost moment there. But in reality the voice existed, it had blue eyes and dark skin, and I wanted to touch that voice again. I had let it go, because I was no longer sure of what or who I was, because I was afraid of what he might think if he knew what I was. I hurt him and pushed him away, out of fear, because I loved him too much. But I did not love him enough to trust him with my burden, my self and unself.

The Other twisted and recoiled as the thought struck it, refusing to give in or to admit it was not meant to be.

- I am the saviour, I am the first and only - it cried - I am the one to rule this world! -

I denied it, angered, pained. The Other had swallowed me and made me forget the voice existed, leaving only the dream. And a part of me still dreamed, keeping the name of the one with blue hair and blue eyes trapped where I could not touch it. But I had to do it... even if it was only for a few minutes... I had to become Saga again.

* * *

Milo:

I shivered and stood up straighter, staring out into the dancing blue flame that remained as solitary witness and judge to the fight that was waged above me. I closed my eyes and shook my head, feeling drained and unable to concentrate. A hollowness had taken root inside of me, and would not let go, as much as the pain was drowning me I could not muster enough strength to grieve.

Camus was dead, and the child?

I remembered the determination and courage in those blue eyes, the power and immutable will. Camus' pupil, the Cygnus saint, whom I could feel vaguely. Anyone but a Gold saint would have thought him dead, but even now his cosmo was fading, unravelling like a whisper in the wind until it would become nothing.

Hyoga - Camus' pupil - was dying, just like Camus not more than an hour ago.

I opened my eyes again, seeing only the stars and the dark skies above. Those stars that shone even though they were dead... those stars, would stop shining soon too.

* * *

Saga:

He was beautiful, he would always be so. Those vibrant blue eyes shone like birthing suns as he smiled and nuzzled me, like a cat seeking attention. I stroked his hair and laughed, he was beautiful and I loved him. He turned over slightly, hair dancing in the wind... and then he was running and telling me to come with him, slipping between pillars like a swift elf from some forgotten forest. I laughed again and caught up to him, turning him over to kiss those soft lips... and he was back beside me, naked and perfect as he leaned his head on my chest and pretended to sleep. He smiled and pulled me into his arms, urging me to hug him too.

And he was running again, and I chased him.

But something was wrong... I couldn't make the face out, he seemed to run away from me every time I caught him... something was missing. A part of me had run off... a part of me no longer shared this dream. So many things where missing! And I could feel the resonance of pain through the link that bound me to those missing pieces... but there was also fear and curiosity: a question.

Parts of memory were missing from this dream, and they were trying to break through... they were making me wake up! I sought out the Memory, and felt it shudder in pleasure, then in anger, trying to pull me out of the dream into this half-state it was in.

I didn't want to wake up... I remembered my love here, I could touch my love here... but out there...?

Burning strings of ice wove themselves into the dream as the very thought of returning to reality came to me. There was no reality, I was not real... only the dream existed. The one that called itself the Memory pulled further away, stealing my beloved's face.

What is his name? It asked, voice desperate and full of need. I shivered as the dream turned colder, and sought out the smiling face of my love. His name?

I did not know his name, I only knew I loved him, and that here, he was mine. But I did not know his name...

The Memory cried out, pouring agony into the dream as it fought to merge with me into wakefulness, to take over what we were, what we had been. It spoke of a voice... the voice of my beloved.

His voice?

All I knew was that I loved him, more than anything else in the world, and as long as I had him everything would be all right. In the dream...

The dream is not real! The Memory cried out again, warring against me and the one that kept us both at bay, the one that had made us sink into the dream. Because as long as our love, the voice, was in the dream... there would be no reason to wake up.

But there was a reason; we did not remember his name... our love was not really here, but out there.

The Memory puzzled over this, not understanding. I knew I loved the voice, he knew he remembered the voice. And we had to wake up, to find it again. To know if it still existed. The Memory had felt my love call us, however unconsciously.

I looked back at the dream, where I had stayed for so long, tasting the sweetness and pleasure of it, and felt myself recoil in anger. There was no face and no name here... only out there... where the Other was. I reached out to the Memory, and accepted.

After that, there was only pain.

* * *

Shaka:

I floated amongst nothing, in a world of no time and no rules everything seemed to shake in and out of view, distorted as if by the haze of heat. I felt another presence near me, unresponsive and unaware of this place. Where was I? This place made no sense, it was not a place for the living... and I was alive.

Alive...

With a sudden flash my memories returned, of my fight. Of the truth. I had been so immersed in the battles, so sure of myself and yet... when the time came, I became afraid... I was afraid of dying! And I had not been able to grasp the knowledge of why those children had not felt fear. Why they had been so willing to give everything up.

I had been willing too! Hadn't I?

I had wanted absolute purity and the ultimate wisdom, of everything. I had thought myself above human beings and yet I was afraid. Why? Sacrificing myself was one thing, but loosing... there was...pride there, that kept me from giving in. An emotion I had not been aware of. And fear...

Those children, so passionate and convinced, had been stronger than me in the end. And I had not been able to give in, even though I knew that there was another life waiting for me, a life lived in purity like this one, so why...? Why was I afraid?

I had staved off all emotion, becoming one with my inner self, seeking to understand all about humanity until I was above them... but I had been defeated by that which I forsook. Their feelings had made them stronger than all my knowledge. They had faith and I...? I had nothing. I sought to understand everything and in turn learnt nothing, my detachment brought me nothing. What power could I claim to wield, if in a battle of will I was defeated by my own lack of purpose? My heart was not in it.

Did I have a heart?

Briefly I remembered Milo, the hot and strange feelings he had awakened if only for a few minutes. Milo, who was all unbridled passion kept under a wall of calmness, for sanity. Milo did not seek knowledge, he simply had it. And he had tried to show me this, and I had needed to have my life jeopardised to understand it, that humanity was not about knowing but about... feeling. I had a stronger cosmo, but I knew not how to put it to use like these children who had defeated me.

In the last moment I had felt afraid of dying. I had thought I was above that, ready to transcend into the next level and become supreme, a creature of wisdom and sheer energy, but I had not been able to. I... I realised that I valued what I was, that I had a stronger concept of myself as a living being than I had known; a stronger concept of self... I valued myself not as an omnipotent soul but as Shaka... I had not wanted to die because I loved to live. I loved to live!

I loved.

Floating in a dimension of no time and space, I closed my eyes and let out a short bitter chuckle. I had been a fool... I had presumed I could understand all about humanity and go beyond it, into godhood, with pure wisdom. But that was impossible, the only way to understand a human is to feel like one. Can you tell a blind man what blue is like? And red?

What could I possibly do with the theory if I did not know myself the power of the truth? I wanted to live, to go on and become something worthy of a future life, something pure and perfect. And how could I become a god if I knew everything, but understood nothing? I had been defeated by a child, because this child had known what he wanted in his heart, whereas I had not. I had only the vaguest notion of what I was. How foolish it was, to become something higher than a human when I didn't have the faintest idea of what it was to be human in the first place!

I wanted to live, and I wanted to know what this felt like. So I chose to do what I should have done long ago: I admitted that I was wrong.

* * *

Saga:

Yes, my child of blood and blossoms, I can feel you mourning! But that is of no importance now, you are but a human, and this world needs more than that, it needs protection. From the gods, from Athena. Yes, from that petty child who will come here, and rule us under the power of war and her wisdom. And I cannot let it happen, my beautiful love! I cannot!

Humans deserve their freedom, and all that I see now is slavery. The Gods come down and live upon us, making us their puppets with their immense power, breaking us into sweet cattle to feed their greed for power and control. They bring war into our lands, and send us into death to fight for them! They make us willing slaves to this eternal cycle of pain and more pain. Athena comes here, saves the world, and takes over us! The very fear we have of a more evil god leads us to believe in her, to bow to her.

But you know what, my lovely Milo? She is still a God, like all the others, and she uses us, too! So I must end this, for you and me and everything upon this land of mortals. I will kill her and gain, through Nike, the power to defeat any obstacle, any barrier. I will free humanity from their bonds and make them their own rulers, our own masters! Even if I have to kill you, Milo, surely you would understand why I do this.

Surely you would see what I see: that we are trapped and we don't know it.

An evil human is better than a God, and after we are free, who knows what will come? We are creatures of war, us humans. The God's used this to their own advantage, pulling the strings to place us as their soldiers and champions, as mere pawns to fight each other. But I will stop that, all of that!

And if humanity chooses war, then it will be our own war, and we will die for our own reasons!

The Dreamer is confused, a lot of it woke up and become the Memory, but now they are merging again... my child... Pieces of me, the 'me' that loved you, have been slipping away into the dream for years now, the past few months have changed me beyond recognition... now I don't even remember why I loved you. There were always separate pieces, the continuous changing, the give and take that would eventually give way to me, the ultimate saviour. But those strands of personality that represent our past are trying to resurface for you. I will not let them win. I will not let the Saga that loved you come back, because there is nothing for him here anymore. I am Saga, I am Gemini! I am War! I am the saviour of humanity and destroyer of Gods!

I am the Evil that will bring Good, the one to deliver us all. So you see, there is no space for love in my mind, no time for caresses and smiles. The Saga who loved you was not strong enough to tell you the truth, to tell you that he was unsure and loosing himself, that there was evil in him. He loved you but he was unable to trust you and he chose to push you away, and sink into the dream, faraway from the pain your loss inflicted. From that day on the gradual dismemberment of his self began, to be completed shortly after the war with Athena started for real. You see, in loosing you, he lost himself. And now there's only me. You might have kept it from happening sooner, but you could not stop me forever. I will end this holy nonsense and bring human rule to this world. Your Saga will not return, for there is nothing for him now, not you, not anyone. I don't even feel pain for sending you to kill Albior, as I did then, so I know that I have won, that the gentle and weak Saga is buried for good, at last. And it is better that you never know this.

Really, it is better that you never find out the truth, my child of blood and blossoms... that it was Saga all along.

* * *

Shaka:

I moved to catch the other presence, to confirm its reality.

It was the child... Phoenix. I could feel his cosmo, weak and battered as it was, but regenerating very fast, true to Phoenix traits. He was warm and solid against me in this place of nothingness. I tried to concentrate, to teleport us both back, but I could not. Though I knew how to pull myself out of this dimensional gap, I did not know how to do the same with Phoenix. And I was loathe to leave him here.

But there was one person who could help...

* * *

Saga:

The Other gloated upon its plans, and I growled in anger. It knew the name of the voice! The Dreamer was weaving itself into me, both of us becoming a whole as we caught the thin wisps of memory and moment that the Other had discarded in its quest for power. Little snatches of moment, little dreams of joy and pain that had once bound our whole mind together.

The voice was there in almost all of them, our anchor, our sanity... our...love.

The Dreamer ceased to be as a separate, and became Saga, with me. The Other screamed in fury as we hacked at the walls it had erected to hold us in, refusing the order to sleep and dream, to forget the voice existed outside the confinement of the Other's cell. But I knew, I remembered my body and the feel of it against the voice's, touching those blue curls that felt like silk.

And the Other had done enough damage, I would not let him hurt the voice any more!

- FOOL! - it cried - do you think you will not bring him pain!? -

Bring him pain?

Ah... yes. There were the memories of him looking so afraid, so hurt. I was pushing him off, no... I was killing him with my words. He needed me more than the air he breathed and I... I could not tell him the truth.

But still, I had to wake up for real. If only to save him, to stop this madness.

Athena...

She was out there, trying to save us all from the Other, and I had to do something! I had to stop the Other from killing the only creature that might bring us peace! For the voice... I had to do it for the one I loved!

I would save this world, I would save our Goddess! I had to let her warriors know how to save her, how to banish that arrow from her chest.

And the voice would be safe... when the Other was gone, my beloved would be safe.

I slammed into the walls that divided me from the Other, and pushed through any gap I might find until I could feel him screech in distress as I reached far into its self, pulling at my body to respond at my command, waging a war within myself to control, to exist. The Other was strong, too strong. But I was determined, and for now, I had to win. I had to win.

- you will only hurt him! - the Other shouted in rage.

Yes, I could see it now.

His name...Milo... my Milo...Whom I had broken to pieces with my selfish love. The Other was right, I could not tell him, but I could stop this. I could do something that would have made him proud. That would have made him smile for me. My love...

The pain became too intense as both of us threw unto one another all we had to overthrow the weakest, the less prepared. He was so powerful! I had to win, only for a few minutes, just a few minutes and I could save her! It didn't matter that I burned myself out after that, as long as I stopped the Other. I pulled up every time the Other pushed down, and so did he. But I pushed stronger and stronger, and finally...

I opened my eyes.

I was in a large room pillars supporting the massive weight of the structure, red tapestries hung from the walls and I could feel the cool night air as it entered through a high window.

I was awake.

I laughed softly, close to tears as I flexed my fingers and felt the flesh respond, felt my body move and answer to my orders as it had not done for so long! Not without the seeping away of my consciousness and gloating of the Other. I stood up and walked, feeling the hard stone under my sandals and sighed.

The sound of hurried footsteps brought me up short, as I felt the burning white touch of another aura, a strong furious aura that shone like nothing I had ever seen before, warm and passionate in a way that I had not thought possible for a warrior to be. I knew this cosmo, I had felt it before, however weak as it was back then.

Pegasus.

I took a step back, feeling dizzy as the whole situation grew clearer, as I drew the knowledge and memories of the Other from our shared mind and understood. It screamed, sending daggers of agony into my brain, so strong that they forced me to sit back down upon the throne and try to regain my breath.

Ah... the Other was afraid.

All I needed were a few more minutes, and I could save her, I could end this. I relaxed as much as I could and waited for the child to come in. The Other roared and threw itself against me, but I reared up and sent him back. I would not be able to do this for much longer, but it would be enough.

Pegasus blasted the massive doors open and stepped in. His eyes widened noticeably, mouth parting as he saw me, and recognised me not as Saga, but as the monster that had put him through all of this.

- it is HER that put him through all of this! - the Other growled sullenly, but I pushed it down and ignored it.

"Here I am, Kyoko," he announced carefully, still unsure of what to make of me.

Pegasus... yes. It was the same child I had given the cloth to, a year or so ago, who had defeated all the opponents of the arena and became a saint of Athena. A mere Bronze saint, who had come a long way from that small Japanese boy that no one respected. I rose slowly, pulling my helmet off as I spoke.

"Seiya... I had not expected you to come up to here," I removed my mask, letting him see my face, the face of the one I had believed myself to be. The face of Saga, gentle Gemini, not of the Other, not of the Kyoko. His eyes grew even wider, taking on a fearful light as he saw me.

"You are the Kyoko?" he cried. He had not expected this, not this look of peaceful anguish and remorse.

"Seiya, I truly admire you for having gone through the twelve temples, and getting here. You are indeed a saint of Athena with great power and courage." What could I say to him? What could I possibly say after all I had done, and all I had not done? His disbelief turned to anger at the gentleness in my voice.

"Don't talk stupid and don't try to pretend you are a good man or say you are sorry for all you have done, cause I don't believe you!" No, of course he wouldn't. "I don't have the time to listen to your lies, Athena has very little time left to live!" He lunged forward at top speed, moving like a silver knife straight at me. I sighed sadly and let it come, for I deserved a lot more than this child would be able to take out of me.

"I'm going to take you to her even if you don't want to! You have to take that arrow out of Athena's chest!"

His blow was strong, but a mere gust of air compared to what I could do, and what I had learnt to survive during my training. He was strong, but not enough, not nearly enough!

The Other laughed crazily and shivered against me, like an electric caress that was more a threat than a reassurance. Pegasus looked up at me in anger and fright, and I closed my eyes. I had to tell him, I had to end this. I would not let the Other win!

"Seiya, I am truly sorry but I cannot take the arrow out of Athena's chest." He took two steps back, and I felt the wave of kinetic nausea the shook his aura.

"I don't know what you are talking about! I came here because they told me that you were the only one in the world that could take that arrow out!" Such fear and desperation! His whole cosmo turned itself inside out at the very thought of the futility of his coming here. Oh Goddess... what I have I done? How could I let the Other win and do this? How could I become the monster I am? "Why are you lying to me!?" he demanded, afraid.

Pegasus, I cannot do it. The Other planned this too well, but not perfectly either. I had to tell him how to save her, how to set this right. The Other groaned and kept on his unrelenting attack against the barrier that kept me here, in control. And he would break through in no time, I knew it. I had lost already, Goddess... I had lost!

"Pegasus Ryu Sei Ken!" the boy cried, throwing himself at me. But it was to no avail. I swallowed hard, feeling my heart break at the sight of the destruction I had caused, the innocence I had robbed... the hearts I had broken.

Milo...

"What...?" Seiya's voice, soft and confused, reached my ears. "I have not hurt him..." and even more shattered and childish... "Why are you crying?"

I felt the warm tears slide down my cheeks, as the Other laughed in glee and pushed further into me again, gaining the control it wanted. Oh no, not yet! But he was keening in my mind, tearing apart the defences I had erected against him, chuckling darkly at each new broken wall. I breathed in sharply and pushed past Pegasus, drawing away from him as I fought a loosing battle inside my mind.

It was now or never, all I could hope was that the child believed me and understood. I stopped a few metres away, my back to him, and spoke up:

"Seiya, I admit that what I have done will never be forgiven," no, not for all eternity. I was evil, the ultimate evil, and I would never be freed from this guilt. "But... the Kyoko... I... never..." Shion... that poor brave man that had not fought back, that had let me kill him. Why?

Why!?

I shook myself and steadied my breathing. The Other clawed through my mind, but it was too late. I would tell him the truth before I was lost again. Even if it was the last thing I did... I would not run away again. "No... there's no time for talking about that now... you mustn't loose any moment to save Athena."

"I see you understand Kyoko... then you will come with me and take the arrow from her chest!"

"I already told you that I can't do that!" I answered sharply, the fire in my mind tracing the patterns that held me together, melting them.

"But then...!?"

"Listen to me carefully Seiya. When you go through that hall you will arrive at the temple of Athena, there you will find a golden statue of her that has been there since time immemorial."

"Golden statue?" He frowned, looking in the direction I pointed.

"Yes. As shown there, for a long time Athena has held the Goddess of victory Nike, in her right hand, and a shield in the left one."

"Nike at her left, and a shield in the right?" He faces me again, unable to comprehend why I told him this.

"But for years, Nike has not been here." No, which is why the Other needed Athena to come here, so he could kill her and have eternal victory for himself. But if she held it still...

- it will do her NO good! - the Other howled, burning me through.

"The young Aiolos took her. Since then...Athena has been protected by Nike as well as by the Sagittarius cloth."

"Nike the Goddess of victory? I have never seen that statue!" I must hurry! Oh Athena I must hurry he is about to win over again!

"Yes you have! I can guarantee it, because Nike has always been in Athena's right hand, even if she appears in another shape."

"What are you talking about, in her right hand!? That can't be...!?"

"The golden sceptre that Saori always holds in her hand is just another shape of Nike, Goddess of victory." The Other finally broke through completely, spreading like acid through my mind and consciousness. My breath hitched and I felt myself break into a cold sweat as it's power slowly reasserted itself. "Nike in the hands of Athena will always guide her to victory, just like you have defeated all those warriors. And the shield in her left hand can defeat any evil attack..." the Other twisted me into knots, pain and fear mixing as he took over and I could no longer speak freely, my face becoming a contortion of supreme effort as we both fought to take over. I fell to my knees, trembling in pain and exhaustion as I was slowly pushed away. "Don't you understand Seiya? It is not my power but the shield's that can save Athena... so...you must..."

"Kyoko, what is wrong with you...?" he took a faltering step closer... closer to his death.

"Nothing is wrong, now go to Athena's temple... and hold the shield... in her... direction." I hid my face in my hands, the world becoming thin and grey around me.

- dream! dream forever of what could not be! -

"Kyoko..."

"Then... the arrow in her chest will disappear..."

- but I will let you see how I kill them all, how you dear love finds out the truth! -

"Kyoko, what is going on?"

"Leave Seiya, don't worry about me, just leave!"

- Athena is dead no matter what you do, and it is your own fault for being THIS weak! -

Please, get out of here! End this! Kill me! Oh Athena please kill me!

I got up, summing what little strength I had left to walk away, to buy the child as much time as possible to save her. The world swooned and dipped down to meet me, the floor becoming soft and shaky under my feet, I cried out with no voice, hearing and knowing what was happening but I was unable to stop it. To hold it back as I was tipped over into myself and slammed into oblivion. I clung to what little of me remained there, as it was slowly scribbled out by the Other, and heard my lips utter one final and heart stopping word.

"Wait."

And Pegasus, being that trusting child he was, did not run faster and farther away. He turned around and watched in horrified amazement as the Other warped my flesh and colour to suit the parameters it had long ago set. I cried out in despair, as the rush of dark golden power drowned me and my cloth resonated in both consent and denial, torn as only Gemini could be in the face of such a thing. I screamed at the top of my mind's voice, reduced to pleading and begging even as I watched the Other fall upon Athena's last hope, and crush it.

- dream forever, it is the only thing you can do -

Milo... oh my Milo... I am so sorry... I tried... I really tried.

And I remembered, all those moments, all those dreams that had been a part of my life and had been changed, corrupted.

"So many mirrors," Milo had whispered once while in my room, leaning over to touch the reflecting glass, unaware of how sensual and unreal he looked, draped in nothing but a sheet and peering into eternity. "Why?"

"They remind me of life... that nothing is exactly as you see it, and that there is always a hidden possibility beyond your reach." Milo had looked up at me, confused and fascinated. "Sometimes I try looking beyond them, my cheek against the glass as I strive to see what is further than what they show, until the only way to see the rest of the room reflected is to actually get in... but that is impossible. The whole world is reflected there, and I can only see what the size of the mirror allows... at those times I wonder if the world on the other side is really just a reflection, or a completely different one."

Milo had laughed, pressing his nose against the cool surface and screwing his eyes at his reflection. "At least you know it is all the other way around!"

That had been one of the first things I loved about Milo: his eternal joy towards life as he laughed and made the best of every moment.

And I remembered Shion too... how he had trusted me, how he had allowed me to get close to him, ancient creature as he was, and showed me what paths to walk as a Gold saint. And I remembered his wide golden eyes the night I sneaked into his sanctuary, the Other screaming a song of death in my mind. I had not really understood what I was doing, my cloth vibrating in ascent, wanting me to kill... to KILL the Kyoko. The Other already able to speak up in my mind, act as more than just feelings.

Kill him, it said. Kill him and become this world's saviour.

This world's nightmare.

I drew my fist back, unable to comprehend what I was doing, and why. I ran towards Shion and he just sighed, his eyes growing glassy as he stared deep into mine. He did not move away, or cry out. He just let me kill him and collapsed silently, his eyes boring into mine one last time, as if to forgive me.

They had trusted me... both of them. Shion and Milo had believed the best in me and I had let them down.

But not again...

Never again.

I would not let the Other do this!

* * *

Shaka:

It was as if time itself had stopped, as if the world had become eternally immovable, or become nothing, almost like a stray second at the beginning of history had been isolated and forced to run on a course right beside time, but never inside it. I clutched Phoenix's body closer to mine, seeking a pulse to confirm that we lived, that we breathed and that we existed not in a frozen moment but in the wondrous beauty of shifting history. And everything around us poured in and out of reality, becoming and not becoming, shifting and yet never truly altering.

I concentrated and tried to find a gap, some little thinness that would help me reach the temple where the person that could get us both out of here resided.

"You are not supposed to be here!" A soft angry voice startled me. I looked in the direction it came from, and felt my mouth drop open in surprise.

It was a little girl, no more than eleven years old. Her skin was flawless, with rosy cheeks and pouting lips, her hair was long and black, and her eyes were two lilac stones. She was half crouched, floating above us, trying to look menacing as she brandished a paintbrush in our direction.

"Get out of here! How on earth did you get in! You are not supposed to be here!" she cried angrily, tossing questions faster than I was able to comprehend. I tried to answer, but could think of nothing to say to this little sprite that hung in a lazy orbit around us.

"It wasn't intentional," I murmured, staring at her in wonder. She sighed theatrically and waved her brush in our direction.

"Then get out! Forget places, think of people!"

And she was gone.

I blinked twice in confusion, struggling through my muddled brain to make sense of her words. Who was that girl? Was she even real? Some lost soul in this gap between dimensions? She had confused me beyond words, and her message... what it mean? People, not places? Not places...? Of course! It would do no good to try and contact Mu by locating him physically, I had to try and locate him directly, his aura... his very self. But how had this child known that I...?

Nothing made sense here, there was no use in dwelling over that now. I had to get out.

I closed my eyes and began.

* * *

Saga:

Almost over now, there is no way you will save her! The fool Pegasus thinks he can defeat me! What a stupid child! I am war itself, how can he dream of winning over me!?

My cloth comes at my beckoning, covering my body like a warm second skin, shivering in anticipation. Yes, I am as much Saga as I am Gemini. From the day this cloth and I became one, the weak and pathetic Saga that I was began to slip away, to become the Dreamer. And you, my beauty... my child of blood, that has stained your very soul, and of blossoms, that have gifted you with such joy... you almost stopped it. Saga, the old Saga, loved you so deeply he almost stopped me from being born... but his fear was his flaw. He feared your rejection, so it was easier to be the one to cause the pain by pushing you off, than be the one to receive it, when you drew him away.

But would you?

I think Saga underestimated your feelings, and did not see that you would have loved him all the same. What a fool!

My cloth shivers in delight, but a part of it seems to draw back. Perhaps the appearance of the Dreamer, the Saga that loved, has altered it a bit. But not enough. This cloth is me, it is a part of me, we are one. It whispered its dreams of conquering and death when I first donned it, even if I was too much to pathetic Saga at that time to see the brilliance of its plan. But now I am awake, I am War... Ares is not a far off definition, maybe.

Pegasus stares in awe and fury, as he realises that I am the Kyoko, that I am the Gemini Gold saint and that I am his Death. I send him into another dimension, using my strongest power to push him through the fabric of existence into a realm of pure nothing. I laugh so hard as he falls, my cloth screeching in my mind with pure unconfined joy!

... and a sudden jarring anger.

- NO! - another voice cries, breaking through my power just in time to save the bronze saint. I fall to my knees, panting for breath. The voice of the Dreamer, too strong and too determined to be ignored as it tries to overthrow me yet again. It can't be!

There is a power and stance in him that I had not felt for years, as if the young, atrociously noble yet mischievous Saga were using all his power to come through. To claim back what was his. No, it couldn't!

"Dammit... how could you interrupt me..." I groan, my voice tight and strained.

- enough of this! I will not allow you to do any more wrongs. I will not let you kill Seiya until he has saved Athena's life -

"Shut up!" I shriek, lifting my eyes to gaze up at nothing, the Dreamer scorching my mind. "You know very well that without you I would have ruled over this world long ago! You always butt in at crucial moments!" There were no more words from the Dreamer, only an increasing screech in my mind and the grating of my cloth against my cosmo, as if it were slowly drawing away. But it was the cloth that started this in the first place!

How could I let the old Saga take over again? I was the true Gemini! The one born for this place! I would save this world from the Gods and restore humanity! I smiled cruelly and doubled my efforts against the Dreamer.

"Very well, if you insist in helping Seiya I won't take his life... but I will take all of his five senses, one by one!"

There is nothing you can do, I will see this to the very end.

Really Saga... I will... so why bother coming back?

Milo won't love you anymore.

* * *

Mu:

I sat on the stairs that led down from my temple, my head bowed, hands clasped over my knees in a patient attitude. Kiki looked down at me, confused and worried as we both felt Seiya's cosmo gradually fade. But his words were almost lost to me; a strange presence was reaching into mine, touching my aura gently and carefully, as if it were doing it for the first time. I knew this aura... but I had never been near it like this.

:Mu... Mu... Aries Mu...:

"Teacher?" my pupil whispered, drawing closer to me confusedly. I opened myself slowly, allowing the other to slip in and be known, come into easier contact. The flow that reached me was both warm and wise, slightly watery and lacking the depth and spice all auras gained through their emotions as they lived, but it was undeniably strong and peaceful.

"It seems to be Shaka, from Virgo..." I knew Kiki could feel the exchange of energies if not the actual communication. "He's speaking directly to my cosmo..." Since when did Shaka do this?

He was as closed as could be, this kind of link carried too many emotions through one side to the other for it to be of Shaka's taste. Yet it was him.

:yes, it's true... I want you to help me, Gold saint Mu...:

And here there was a touch of humour and humiliation in him, both accepted in a way that was so strange in the Virgo saint that drew me even deeper into the link.

:I have fallen in a strange place, where there is no sense of time or space...:

"I don't think you need my help, Shaka. You should be able to get out of there on your own," which he was, so why call to me like this, so openly plaintive and ready to... bend?

:there is something else...there's another man here, that I want to save too:

"Someone else?" Shaka was actually speaking of helping someone else?

:you are the only Gold saint that can transport matter through space...:

The feelings he projected were simple and pure, he truly wanted to help. He was both honest to his aura and his soul... Shaka, was feeling?

"Very well, I will allow you to return to the Virgo temple."

I concentrated, focusing on the source of the link to wrap my power around both castaways and draw them back, feeling Shaka's gratitude and innocent wonder at my willingness to assist him. I did not know what it was, but something had made him come around. As they were both pulled back into our world I was able to identify the other, and felt my blood turn cold in surprise.

Phoenix?

* * *

Shaka:

I set the young man on the stone floor and gave him a harsh jolt, pressing on his neck and shoulders to awaken him. Slowly his conscious mind returned, as did his memory and recognition of the place he was in.

"Are you awake Ikki?" Why did it make me so happy that he was alive? A strange... relief?

"Are we still in the temple of Virgo?" for a moment his voice was soft and full of trusting confusion, and then the aggressiveness returned. It was so strange to reach into another being's mind and find the emotions instead of the knowledge, and so much easier and deeper the truths that resided there...

"I don't have time to explain the whole situation to you," no, I did not. And he had to go on with his mission, to save that girl. I had been wrong in following a man that would bring such pain to the world... and now that I understood pain... I would not let him. "You must go to the Kyokos' temple."

I would not go with him right away, needing to understand myself and my motivations, if only this once. He ran up the stairs as fast as he could, and I felt an odd twitching in my face. I puzzled over it, and the boy's renewed respect for me... I liked that. And my mouth seemed to react on orders I had not set...

I smiled.

Yes, these children had made me doubt. I had not understood their willingness to die for something they believed in, something out of this world. I had not understood the veracity of their feelings and this confused me. I had not wanted to die, not without becoming something great... and if I died, I wanted it to be for something great. And for the first time in more than two years, I understood why Milo had looked so sad when I walked out of his room so coldly...

...what he had wanted to show me.

* * *

Milo:

That power?

No... it is impossible. I felt my heart wrench in my chest as Saga's cosmo seemed to envelop all of Sanctuary once again, drawing itself over us. It couldn't be... Why was Saga's power coming from the Kyoko's temple! Was he there even now, protecting... Shion?

I felt a wave of nausea hit me, my vision going red and hazy as a film of pure hatred washed over me like acid rain. I shivered and let out a shaky breath, my heart thumping almost painfully against my ribcage as I fought for control.

Of course he would be there... with Shion.

I felt the sudden urge to go up there, to hit him, to kill him, to kiss him... Oh Goddess no matter how hard I tried I could not keep myself from wanting the impossible. From loving him. He was here, oh Athena, Saga was here and I... I was dead!

Dead!

Camus was not here, I would never hear him again, he would never tell me things would be all right, I would never braid his hair and see him smile at some stupid thing I said. I had let the child pass, and Hyoga had killed him. Hyoga had killed Camus. And now what? I would never know why he had cried for his mother that day I found him sleeping, why he had wanted so desperately to talk to me, why his pupil was such a torture to him. He was gone and I... Saga was here and Camus...

Camus was dead!

* * *

Saga:

Aah... I can feel victory so close I can taste it, Nike is almost mine.

The child Pegasus pushed himself beyond his boundaries, and yet he could not defeat me. I have won! I have won! If you could see me now, my child of blood and blossoms... you would most probably be horrified. But I am something to be proud of, to bow to.

Pegasus shivered in pain and struggled to get back on his feet, eyes unfocused, mouth parted and unresponsive... he was more dead than alive like this. And I had won! In one last flash of power he had managed to topple me over and throw my helmet off, but nothing more.

And the dreamer was too far back now... strangely silent even for him... My cloth was just a dualistic as before, wanting and regretting... it was odd, this regret, for up to now all it had done was urge me forward, guide me onwards. I did not know how, but I suspected that there a lot of the cloth's responsibility in my becoming what I was now. I couldn't define it... but the cloth was almost...'me', just like I was myself, like an inseparable part. I was Saga, not the weak and soulful Saga of before, but still 'Saga', a different one, and the true separation had began when I won the cloth.

So why did it radiate that strange fibre of regret? Why?

I hit Pegasus and sent him sprawling onto the floor. I was going to end this, I was going to kill Athena and save this earth from all Gods, then I would become the absolute ruler! I drew my fist back, ready to kill him. Yes, this was the way it should be.

I would save this world.

Save this world.

"What? What is this...?" I felt my mouth form the words, my heart bashing in my chest in confusion, Pegasus and my stupid lover forgotten in a moment as a wrenching pain cut through me, and forced me to look beyond the trembling body of the child, at my helmet. The Gemini cloth's helmet was perhaps the best representation of this symbol. Two faces, one carved into malice and evil, the other into justice and good. I had never thought over the meaning of this, not beyond the obvious. And now... what did this mean? Why...?"The face of justice is crying... this is just foolish! Why is it crying!? Why is it sad? What's so wrong about a man with power governing the world? I have to, or this world will be stripped to nothing!"

I had to do this! The cloth itself had urged me, so why did it cry now! Wasn't I what it had wanted at the very end? The final step into becoming Gemini? A true conqueror, that brought good through evil? Not like my naive teacher, Gemini Claroscuro, who had trusted love and peace over the force of human war to subdue the human upheaval. But the Gods...

"Since the world was created... all those evil spirits...Zeus in the sky, Poseidon in the seas and Hades in the underworld, have been trying to take over this world!" I spoke to the cloth, furious at its doubt. "Imagine what would happen if one as strong as them ruled the world, it would be invaded and they would do as they pleased with the human race! Thus I am the saviour of all times, and I must crush whomever stands in my way! Regardless of who it is, this person must die!"

I called upon my power to form a glowing ball of pure golden light, ready to kill the quivering body of Athena's last saint. He was thrown onto the floor and the bounced up against the roof, unable to stave off the pent up energy in my blow; he fell heavily toppling over my helmet.

"Pegasus, here and now the fire of your life shall be extinguished." A boy he was, but so persistent! "If I cut your head off now, there's no way you'll get up again."

He opened his eyes weakly, and closed them again when he saw what awaited.

"Are you ready? Then take this!" I growled, lowering my arm to slice his neck open. At the last moment, something bright and sharp stopped me, a fiery sting spreading up my arm from my hand. I gasped in surprise and anger, staring in bewilderment at the cutting edges of brightly coloured cloth that protruded from my hand. "Who dares stand in my way!?"

A figure dropped behind me into a battle crouch, steely blue eyes regarding me from over one shoulder. "I am Phoenix."

"I can't believe it, you should have died with Shaka!"

Ah...well, another foolish child. His dark chuckle bothers me not in the least bit. I have won this war, there is not enough time for them to defeat me and save Athena. I have won. Even if Pegasus slowly crawls up the stairs, he won't make it, he's too weak. Phoenix won't last long enough against me, so it doesn't matter that he blocks my way to protect Pegasus... it doesn't matter.

I have won.

- no you fool, you haven't - the Dreamer whispers as I send Phoenix into another dimension - because as long as they have feelings, as long as they have faith... they are invincible! -

Phoenix reappeared in a flash of red hot light, flames licking over his skin as he stepped forward smiling, ready to fight me again. This was ridiculous! Pegasus at least stayed down for more than five minutes!

Pegasus... he should be about to reach the shield!

- you see, you are no match for them, you will never win - the Dreamer laughs sadly - not as long as Nike is in Athena's hand -

NO!

Phoenix's power slammed me back into a pillar, the rock crumbling and falling on my shoulders in a light dusty drizzle as if to mock me. I opened one eye, fury and hatred burning in me, the presence of the Dreamer strangely powerful as he felt my struggles. No... I would not let this go wrong.

I would not.

If this fight goes on, I realised angrily, "Pegasus will reach Athena's temple." Better end this fast, and definitively.

I threw angled rays of power towards Phoenix, his eyes widening in fear and then in surprise as they passed him by without leaving a single nick in his cloth. Ah... the surprise was not there! The temple behind him took the brunt and began to crumble, all I needed to do was deliver one punch and he was buried under a good few tons of solid rock.

And now... for Seiya.

I turned around, chasing the elusive spark of the boy's cosmo as I ran faster and faster up the steps, my legs moving by their own volition as I practically flew up the stairs. I took a savage leap and landed a few feet below, seeing him hold the shield above his head with what little strength he had left.

... no...

I jumped up, my mind burning and screaming, my cloth shuddering over me like a snake as I pulled back and punched him, sending his aim astray. The beam of light was thrown all over, highlighting the last flicker of the blue flame, illuminating the darkened Sanctuary for a few seconds and then winked out, the shield sliding from Seiya's numb fingers as he collapsed over it.

Only silence reigned then, coupled with the high keen of the Dreamer in my mind as he wailed in utter disbelief. The fireclock was stopped, its twelve hour cycle having reached the end. I smiled, feeling the swell of joy and power in my chest as I realised that it was over.

"At last it is over and I have won!" I laughed out loud, the wind whipping my face as the darkness below seemed to wrap me up in pure shadow. The Dreamer whimpered helplessly, curling upon himself at the searing touch of my joy. Yet suddenly, he let out a soft chuckle and sighed.

- can't you feel it? -

I stopped laughing abruptly, brought up short by my counterpart's words and a soft widening pillar of many coloured light that ran from down below and up into the skies. "What's going on? What is that...?"

- as long as they have hope... you will never win... -

Shut up!

- Athena is stronger, and you have lost -

I am the saviour! I am War! I am Gemini!

- scream all you like, it IS over, but you have not won. You have lost -

* * *

Milo:

Everything was so quiet, so utterly motionless that I held my breath and waited, for tears, for laughter, for death or redemption; anything to bring the sound back. Oddly enough, it reminded me of my childhood, before Blood or Gabriel were a part of my life, before faith in a Goddess put a solid ground for my foundations and a solid home for my soul... even though it would be shattered a few years later. The absolute silence lifted me up and flung me into my past, to the painful and blissfully ignorant days where Saga did not yet exist, and all I could do was defile the mourning, crush their flowers if they were bruised and steal from freshly dug graves the sweet wreaths laid for them. Days when I sold stolen funeral flowers to buy food, or else stole food directly.

Back then there had been no Saga, no Blood, no Scorpio, no Camus... no Milo. Yet now my earlier times had been overshadowed, those innocently committed sins replaced by truer mistakes, no longer a thief of flowers but a thief of life, transfixed by the beauty and mystery of what I did not have. Graveyards were always silent, as were the places to which I brought death... but never flowers.

Sanctuary was silent now, the giant marble structures the tombstones of a broken era, the quiet deafening in its sheer intensity. Not a dead silence, a waiting silence... a galvanised pause that would lead to more death, to more cries and to the same game. A game I played alone from this day on.

Camus, my beautiful fallen angel, the broken and heart frozen Gabriel, my only anchor to sanity and life, was gone. The last thread that bound me to wakefulness, that kept me from the nightmare. He was gone.

Up there, among the stone idols and holy cribs, was the thing that made me loose my sanity once, the being that took my life from me but did not have the mercy to kill me, and now threatened to do it again. And down there, the source of all silence, the one that was both a lie and truth. The Goddess we were raised to protect, the image of good and happiness overflowing, dead or alive, silent.

Utterly silent.

But the light that shot up from the earth was not a lie, or her godly passage into heaven. The Goddess lived and breathed, she would continue to do so, as would I. But still I would be dead.

Saga...

My dark angel, my death, my deliverer... the only thing I ever wanted. The heaven I was given and denied... he stood up there, defending a lover, an enemy... he stood up there as a silent proof to my crumbled heart, testimony to my faithful love and his own loveless faith. So...

So...

I would see this through. I would fight this war and end it, and once it was over I would surrender to the justice of those whom I had slain. And this time Camus would not be there to hold my hand, there would be no one to reach out and keep me from plunging into nothing. This time... This time I would die.

I looked up at the sky, waiting for some confirmation among the stars. Some mocking glitter or saddened glow, but all I saw was stars, with no more tears to blur them, or make them shine brighter. I turned around slowly, no longer bothered to question the reasons behind anything and walked back into my temple, into that long lost silence. Using the last of my strength and willpower to harden my heart one last time, to freeze myself and cut off the exterior, so I could grieve inside but carry through this last mission. This last pilgrimage of hope that would end with my death.

But the silence was broken by a voice, and just when I had given up on getting answers... they came.

:listen, Gold saints of the twelve temples:

A strange energy touched ours, merging into the harmony created by those who watched over the temples; the one who called on us now... was a part of this harmony too. Ancient energy, distilled through the years to carry the truer forms of emotion without the interference of our flesh-bound minds, warm, powerful and filled with knowledge. The auras of us few survivors rose in a soaring question, opening and seeking the reason and motive behind this appearance.

Libra.

:as you all know, Athena has been saved...:

His voice reached our minds, mingled with strong emotions that I - shielded as I was - could not begin to decipher. But nevertheless it angered me, all of us. He had been away for too long, and now, now that we were aching and weary with wounds not of the body, he reached to us with his clear plaintive voice; when he should have been here in the first place.

"You renounced to Libra more than thirteen years ago," he had been gone even before I won my cloth. "And you never answered to Sanctuary's calls. What do you have to say to us now?" I spoke levelly, not chastising or questioning, simply stating and warning of the ground he now stepped upon.

:the time has come for me to tell you everything, because Seiya and his friends had proved that I was right:

I felt the violent recoiling and churning of the auras around me, my fellow Gold saints' cosmos rolling against each other in anger, confusion and curiosity. We had withheld so much from the other for years, that this sudden opening and binding for knowledge confused us. Aiolia's cosmo was in agony, yet jubilant... he already knew something. Mu was silent but strong, yet I detected a fibre of anger running through his heated energy, an anger that was directed both at himself and at... not the Libra saint, someone he did not know, but that had hurt him. Aldebarán, the honest one, projected tension and distress, he did not understand what was unfolding around us. Shaka's energy was the strangest of all, for there was an openness in him, and a yearning to take us into himself. A sharp and aching resonance came from the cloths of the deceased... except for Gemini that was hidden from us.

:thirteen years ago, Aiolia's brother, Sagittarius Aiolos, run off with a baby, being accused as a traitor:

We all knew that... but the baby? The existence of a child in this story was new to me.

:you all know that, am I right?:

But the baby? Why did he take a baby?

I dreaded what was to come, the answer to be given, for I already knew the truth.

:that baby was Saori Kido, who is in fact the Goddess Athena:

It was as if a bolt of lightning had been struck through our auras. I felt all of my fellows recoil, save for Aiolia, as we deepened the bond with the Libra saint to draw out his feelings, to test the veracity of his words, and there was no doubt in him. The blazing image of Athena burned our eyes, sending us into turmoil. I strengthened my resolve to remain untouched, drawing deeper into myself and away from the harmony of our auras. Suddenly, Libra's feelings changed to remorse, pity... and anger.

:there was someone else who knew this back then:

A flicker of knowledge... a soft unveiling of what our enemy felt like, and I almost fell to my knees.

No... it couldn't be.

: and this man not only killed the Kyoko to rule Sanctuary, he usurped his place as Kyoko:

Usurped... the man... was not...Not Shion? For more than thirteen years it had not been Shion? No... no... it was a lie.

:he tried to kill the baby Athena:

No.

:the name of this man...:

Oh Goddess no, it can't be! It can't be!

:...is Saga:

NO.

:and Saga killed Aiolos, claiming it was his punishment as rebel:

Never Shion? There never was a Shion? All those times... all those rumours... all that evil? It was all... Saga? It couldn't be. Saga was not evil... NOT evil! And he loved Shion... it was for Shion that he... he left me for...

For...

It just couldn't be!

I reared upon myself in anger, all the pain condensing within me as I presented an outwardly calm facade to the rest, my cosmo a resounding silence and void among their own mind's cries. What he was saying made no sense, it made no sense!

"Libra, I know all about Saga and he is incapable of doing something like that!" I would know. Among all of them, of all the people in Sanctuary, I would know best.

Shaka forced himself deeper into the bond, his voice rising over the din of our disbelief.

:Saga has two faces, the good and the evil one...:

But just wasn't possible, didn't they see it! Saga was no evil! He just couldn't be! I remembered him so vividly! Everything about him! His soft blue eyes, his angelic smiles, his warm voice, his hands... there had been such gentleness in him, a love for life and everything around him; not an ounce of cruelty or evil in him... except...

(Nothing is wrong, I just don't love you. I never did...)

If that could be faked... if his love for me was already faked...

(I am Gemini child, there is a lot you never see about us)

Then... maybe...

:his ambition made his evil prevail over his goodness... he is a poor misguided man:

Libra's cosmo seemed to sigh, drawing closer to me in a sudden surge of curiosity and understanding that made me go pale with fury. No, I wanted none of that. No pity, no understanding. I did not know how he had come to realise - or suspect - if he did, about Saga and me, but I wanted none of it!

:however things are, let us not allow any more bloodshed in Sanctuary, let us go to Athena...:

I did not pay heed to what he said next, only the feelings reached me as we drew together and found our new resolve, finally... we found our Goddess.

But for me, it was too late.

I hardened myself as much as I could, twisting my soul to make it unreachable within me so I would not weaken or falter until this day was over. I was going to walk this path to the very end, but after that... I would not go on with this. Never again.

And Saga...

I had to see him. I had to see the truth, even if it killed me... for I would die soon anyway. But I had to see him one last time, because I...

I still...

(When you love something, fight for it. Let it know you love it, and never...)

Blood's words, spoken to me years ago as he sat upon what would become his nameless grave.

(...hear me, never turn your back on it.)

And I hadn't... it was him who turned his back on me. Saga. My Saga.

(Make every moment last, and love to the very limit of your heart, and beyond.)

But I had reached my limit long ago, and I did not know how I had come this far. So now that he had come back into my life, now that there seemed to be an end to this lie... this lie that was my life, all I could do was complete the task set out for me. And forget... that I ever loved.

Forget... that I ever lived.

* * *

Saga:

I lost... she is alive, with Nike. And It's all your fault! Your fault!

- don't be a fool... it is your own doing. You could not defeat her -

I will kill her anyway! But first I will kill this child... this Pegasus she so loves so she knows the pain I have known! So she knows loss!

- and what do you know of loss? -

I am you... remember? Your pain is my pain... your loss is my loss.

- and still you wanted to kill him, our child of blood and blossoms... -

Do you think he would have loved you if you had told him the truth? You? Us? We are War! We are Gemini!

- we are fools... but at least one of us will win -

Even so... both of us shall die.

* * *

Shaka:

It was beautiful... her cosmo. Athena shone like nothing I could imagine, I could see her with my closed eyes as she walked towards me, the fire of her heart soaring with flames of unfettered love, and courage. Yes, this was our Goddess. This was for what we had given up our lives... this was the avatar of salvation!

I marvelled at how she felt, overwhelmed by the depth of emotion she could achieve. Overwhelmed by the shuddering joyous bond that had been forged by the Gold cloths, that now shone as we all felt the coming of a new age. The dissonance of death a pain we bore and deserved, as we mourned the unjustly fallen.

But...

There was one of us that did not share this joining, or truly feel our peace. One of us lay hidden inside himself, wounded beyond repair. I sought that frail link, trying to soothe or understand an agony that was well beyond my knowledge, but the elusive presence drew farther away, curled up into itself and shut us out; it remained in the bond only to the most minimal level.

:Milo...:

I called to him, trying to gauge his thoughts, afraid of the pain he was feeling. But he did not reply, or give a sign that he heard. It felt as if he was not even there.

* * *

Milo:

They came up, walking behind her with utmost ceremony. And she, like a white dove, moved with such grace and power that it was only fitting that she were bathed in light. Her cosmo shone around her like a soft mantle of glitter, her eyes fierce and determined as she took each step higher, to finish a war that had been fought for her.

The others simply followed her, but their eyes shone with joy and unparalleled pride. The flanking guards of a deity born on earth, her holy missionaries. I bowed to her as she reached to door to my temple, feeling cold and alien as she smiled at me in the most innocent fashion and motioned for all of us to go on. I got up slowly, aware of the awed looks the young Bronze saints directed at me, and of the worried glances my fellow Gold saints set on me as I gazed into the horizon, devoid of any feeling. Athena stopped and turned to us, as she saw her golden warriors stop to stare at me, and cocked her head at our attitude.

I straightened my headpiece and walked up to her resolutely, and she in turn began to walk on again, as everyone followed in silence. Still I detected Shaka's worried cosmo more than once touching mine, but I closed myself from it and ignored his silent offer of help. He could never understand... no one could, not anymore. The only person who might have known what I felt was dead.

We walked on for quite a while, but suddenly she stopped, her eyes clouding. I felt more than heard Mu's gasp, as Athena hurried forward through the pile of rubble that had become the Capricorn house.

"But how...?" we heard her awed whisper as she leaned down beside the body of the Dragon saint. I drew closer in surprise, as did everyone else.

He was alive? Down here?

"Shiryu..." Mu swallowed convulsively, staring painfully at the unmoving body. But... the child was not dead. We all felt the vague flutter of his cosmo, trying desperately to pull through. Athena placed her hand on his forehead and let her divine cosmo wash over him, healing what little she could heal in her weakened state, until he opened his eyes, lips parting in confusion and she... smiled.

Just like Saga's smiles.

One of the Bronze saints knelt beside them, putting his arm under the Dragon's shoulders and hefting him up, leaning all the weight on himself. Mu took a small step closer, his eyes lighting up as the faraway presence of Libra calmed down, became pleased. Athena got up, still smiling, and gestured with her head softly, that we should hurry up.

The Dragon saint bit his lip as he was pushed to walk up, but he did it nonetheless. True saints... true courage.

As we neared the next house I felt the auras of all the remaining Gold saints - even Libra - reach out to mine, offering their soft feelings of regret and mourning. I breathed in deeply and drew away from them once again, aware of Athena's sudden questioning look as she saw in what way the flow of power was directed. I didn't even blink, just walked forward until we could see the rising dome of the Aquarius temple, and feel the frozen winds that flowed around it. I let out a shaky breath and stepped up the final flight of stairs, into the white landscape inside.

The whole temple was covered by a thin layer of ice and frost, the biting cold making us all shiver. The pillars glowed where the starlight struck them, and the floor shimmered with golden colours as our cloths were reflected on the smooth surface. And inside this shrine of ice and silence, the frail shiver of another aura could be felt. Cold, hurt and completely disoriented...but minimally alive. I closed my eyes, feeling a fine dagger of pain slice into my heart as I recognised that aura.

Cygnus.

And it was only Cygnus. There was no other heartbeat, no other gentle plea to live among the frozen stones, only Cygnus lived. Only him. And Camus...

"Hyoga!" Athena lost her composure completely as she rushed to her fallen warrior's side, touching the frozen brow in anxiety. But, Goddess as she was, she could clearly feel the minuscule spark of life that resided in him, and bring him back.

But Camus...

I drew away from the group as I saw the odd silver shimmer of another cloth. Silver...? Camus' cloth was completely frozen, not covered by a layer of ice like mine had been; it was frozen. Cygnus had done this? The power the child wielded! I bit my lip and drew closer, unable to bring myself to kneel beside him.

To accept the truth.

His wonderful dark blue hair was covered by a thin layer of frost, dyed white and pale blue by the waning light. His skin was deathly pale, his lips blue and unmoving. I stood there, breathing shallowly as I stared at his body... at his ...

Corpse.

He was dead. Camus was really dead.

But his face! It looked so serene and untroubled, as if he could finally sleep. And it was not the face of Camus, the heartless warrior, but of Gabriel. The soft and secretly sweet Gabriel, or what he might have looked like had he never known any pain. He looked so... peaceful. His hand was loosely curled close to his face, his brows straight and calm. There was nothing to mar the impression of perfect tranquillity.

Had he wanted to die?

Was that why Cygnus' heart still beat and Camus' did not? Or had he finished his mission? Had his final thoughts been of Hyoga then... and not of me? Had he forgotten me... that he gave up and left me alone!

Camus!

A single tear rolled down my cheek, I just let it fall. For a moment I had the irrational hope that he would get up, that his heart would start beating and... or that Athena just had to touch him and he would wake up. He would wake up!

"Milo..." I turned towards the voice, seeing Mu's sad purple eyes regard me worriedly. I just stared at him, my eyes stinging yet no more tears came. "We have to go on."

I could not answer, I simply could not. So I nodded and drew back towards Athena. Another Bronze saint was helping Cygnus to his feet, trying not to hurt him further. Hyoga's pale eyes were completely unfocused, but I saw him gaze in Camus's direction, and then away. And his pain worried me not in the very least. No one's pain... not even my own.

I was here to fight, and then... then...

Saga...

* * *

Saga:

Phoenix lay at the summit of the stairs, his hand outstretched towards me, towards Seiya... it did not matter. If I was going to loose then I would take all of the with me! Gathering a ball of power in my uplifted hand I readied myself to strike him for the last time.

"Wait!"

But a ray of light crashed into my palm, making me start. "What's going on!?"

- ah... so she came -

"Saga, your defeat is imminent," a tall girl came into view, holding a golden sceptre in her hand, flanked on both sides by her saints. Athena... "If you consider yourself a true saint admit your sin!"

The five remaining gold saints stood around her. The five of them... and the one farthest off...

- oh...no... Milo...! Milo! -

A grinding pain was forced on me as I beheld the stunned and tortured eyes of my beautiful lover, saw the utter despair in him, his disbelief and complete loss of hope as he saw me, and finally... understood. And among her troupe, I recognised the three fallen Bronze saints, brought back to life.

"And the three of you too..."

But it was Milo who called my attention. Milo who stared at me with such frozen pain that I did not know what to do. Indeed, he had been our weakness, his hold upon our soul too strong.

- that was why you hurt him, the reason for drawing him away -

But there was no time for that now, not anymore. I would end this, no matter how, I would end this. And she had to die! Die!

- she is a Goddess! -

Yes...but she was also just one among hoards of conquering deities that wanted to have us ensnared in their petty games, and I would not allow it. Humanity had to be ruled by humans... and if we chose war ourselves the so be it. But not like this. Never like this.

She, this sweet looking child-Goddess, had to die now for us to be free. I had given up everything for that reason, everything!

- even love... -

Even my very self!

We were War! We were Gemini! It was time to end this, to finish off this ridiculous game of knights in shinning armour. Once and for all!

* * *

Milo:

I watched, unable to speak or move, as the three Bronze children got up and moved towards the Gemini saint, surrounding him as their eyes took on a murderous glow. The Gemini saint.

Gemini.

I forced myself to look, to lock my eyes with those bloodshot demented ones before me and confirm the truth, see it for myself. His hair was a dark grey shade, and the irises of his eyes were so tight they were barely visible. But the colour... the colour that shone inside... it was one I knew all too well.

Blue.

Saga's blue eyes.

He stared at me for a brief second, and I could have sworn I saw a flash of pain and fear in them. And they were indeed Saga's eyes. My Saga. Not Shion. Never Shion.

And it was just too much. My whole world collapsed into itself as I stared at him, at his crazed expression and bloodthirsty looks, at they way he deflected the youth's powers and laughed at them.

Evil. Only evil.

My heart seemed to have stopped, time itself seemed to have stopped as the Bronze saints fell and he fixed his gaze on us. It was Saga... but not my Saga. This man... I recognised it... the sketchy cosmo signature... this was the Kyoko. The only Kyoko I had ever known. The man that sent me to kill Albior, the man that watched me calmly and cynically, the man that had lead us into evil.

Athena's murderer.

My lover.

Saga.

"Listen to me carefully Gold saints," and his voice was sharp and cruel. "If you ever try to fight me it will be the same as this!" He informed us haughtily, gesturing towards the unconscious children. We all jerked in unanimous anger, taking offensive stances.

Saga...

His smile was not the smile I remembered, his eyes were not the eyes I remembered. But his face, twisted with evil as it was... was the face I remembered.

"Wait..."

We all looked down in stupefied horror as Pegasus struggled to get up again, against all odds. Aldebarán moved towards him, but was stopped by Aiolia. And still I looked at Saga. The other Bronze saints opened their eyes, surprising all of us with the sheer will of their souls as they got up again, ready to fight. To end this.

I ignored them, lost in the ragged blue fire of Saga's eyes, trying to understand what had truly happened, what it all meant. Shion had been dead for years, he was dead before I won my cloth, before Saga even spoke to me for the first time. He had not left me for Shion, it had been something else. Even his parting words to me had been a lie. Nothing was ever true.

But... all those smiles, his gentle arms and even gentler caresses, his laughter as he combed my hair, as I ran to him and his eyes lit up... those things could not be faked. The honest joy in his cosmo could not be faked, and still... still he stood there now, ready to kill that which he swore to protect.

Saga was evil.

(I want to bring peace to the world)

He had said that. Years ago, when I was still new to him and to his love, he had said that. And that, too... was a lie.

Seiya's cosmo flared to life, atrociously bright as his friends opened themselves to him, their cosmos taking on a violent glow, as strong as any Gold saint, and shot up from the ground. Brilliant pillars of light that streamed into the skies and joined in a wild spiral until there was no telling where on ended and the other began. Pegasus staggered, curled into himself slightly and then, drawing out his fist he screamed at the top if his lungs, his cloth shattering under the unbearable flow of power as Saga...

Saga...

... was thrown back and high into the air. I stopped breathing as I saw him disappear in the tower of light, as I heard his cry of pain. That voice! It was unmistakably Saga's voice! Darker, angrier...but his!

Saga!

Light exploded all around us, soaring into the skies and burning into our souls like moonfire. "Seiya's cosmo has unleashed that!?" But there was no time for questions, for wondering. The children fell, utterly exhausted as their final blow took its toll on them, and they finally lost their grip on consciousness, slipping into a near coma. I stared at them, my heart about to burst as the finality of what I had seen finally sunk in.

Aiolia looked down at them, his blue eyes dull and clouded. "Seiya, you have protected Athena to the very end, and I have been witness to that."

"That's not true!"

A cry from the skies made us look up in horror, at the gracefully falling figure of Saga. Horror, that is what they all felt, but I could not help feeling a painful happiness at seeing that he lived. He touched the ground with ease and smiled darkly. And his smile made me go numb.

"I won't die as easily as you think. I am the only man capable of ruling this world."

Rule? Rule this world?

"Don't make me laugh! We all know what you have done Saga!" Aldebarán, rash and furious.

"First you tried to kill the child Athena, and then you killed my brother!" Aiolia clenched his fist and gazed at him with clear murder in his eyes. I felt a searing agony run through me, an anger and pain so blinding I could not withstand them. Lies! All of it! LIES! For years I had loved him! For years I had thought of him, cried for him! I wanted to die when he left me! And it was all al lie! There never was a Shion!

"You killed the Kyoko! You are evil incarnate! How could a man like you, rule the world!?" I took a step forward, aware of my fellows doing the same. Saga stepped back, his eyes growing unsure as he saw us move onto him.

"Listen to me! Even if I am evil there is no one else to protect the world from the invasion and keep it at bay. Him who has the most power must do it. It would be foolish to side with that girl believing she is Athena, don't you care if the world is destroyed!?"

He spoke with such tenacity, such defiance and self certainty.

(I want to bring peace to the world...)

He said that once, long ago. And this was what he meant.

"Gemini..." Athena's voice broke the spell of hatred. She moved towards him slowly, eyes calm and perfectly controlled. "If you are right, and if this world has no love or justice, if it is truly under the rule of the strongest and most evil then I would dare to say this..." she paused and closed her eyes, knuckles going white as she tightened her grip on her staff. "I think it should be destroyed!"

"What!?" Saga stepped away from her, his eyes trembling and I felt... almost... a strange waver and joy in him, so buried inside of his aura I wasn't even sure if it was him at all.

"There is no sense in living on a world like this."

"Athena..." Shaka smiled, turning his face towards her.

"But I believe, that as long as people love each other and wish for peace... the world will never be destroyed, for it will be filled with love and compassion. It is for this that we have been fighting and will go on doing so from this day on! So all you can do is surrender!" She spoke with such confidence, such faith... I almost wanted to believe her.

"There's no point in listening to such lies!" Saga grumbled, but there was strange waver in his eyes, a doubt that seemed to slowly fill him. "I will now show you with my power that I am right and Athena is wrong!"

He spread his feet and drew back his fist, his cosmo flaring around him. I knew that cosmo!

"Gemini! You will fight Athena?" Aldebarán took a warning step forward, but Athena stopped him.

"Up to now Seiya and others have fought for me risking their lives. This time... I must accept the fight myself." She stepped forward and stared at him. "Go on, Gemini."

* * *

Saga:

Her eyes were like nothing I had ever seen before... but I would not let her win! I could not!

"Very well... "I whispered, and jumped forward.

- you can't! -

Something strange happened then, a shattering deafening sound filled my ears, and a shrieking pain shot through my body as my cloth seemed to burn my skin. The energy around me wavered and my mind seemed to ripple as if a pebble had been cast into pond. A loud cracking sound reached me, as the pain flared and my cloth exploded from my body.

- you can't... not anymore. She is Athena... and you are her saint -

"What...? My cloth... it's leaving!"

- oh... look at him... our Milo... -

I did not have time to heed the soft plea of the Dreamer as he whispered and hurt me with his love.

"I can't believe this! The cloth... it has renounced me by it's own free will!"

We were Gemini! What I was doing was the will of the cloth! It was what the cloth had lead me to do! And now that it was gone, even it's touch, I felt a hollowness and pain in my mind I did not understand! The Dreamer laughed and cried as the strands of evil that had bound me and separated me from him unravelled, as our minds seemed to draw back together into a whole once again.

- don't you see? This is what we are! -

Everything seemed to be undoing itself, and I... I?

NO! I could not let it all go to waste! There was a reason behind this! A reason! I would not let her win, not now! Not now!

- but it is over! -

NO!

"Can't you see it?" Athena's voice, so soft... so wonderful!

- yes....-

NO!

"Seiya's cosmo did not hurt you badly, but it delivered a fatal blow to the cosmo that dominated your mind."

My mind?

- our mind... we are free... we are...one and the same -

We were merging, the Dreamer and I. Whatever had once made us different was fading, and he was winning, the Dreamer was winning and I was fading!

"Seiya's cosmo damaged my mind's aura...?"

"Now you are returning to goodness... even though slowly..."

No... it was not possible!

- this is what we are... we were never evil... I was never evil -

"Your cloth has not given up on you, it has just decided to see how you will react."

- because, finally, I have the power to control it, to tame the power Claroscuro spoke of -

No. There was a reason for all of this! A reason! The reason why I gave up on Milo... my beautiful and unforgettable lover, the only one who could reach my heart. There was a reason why I had turned against my oaths. A reason!

"Now Saga, become a new being and cleanse your power!"

NO! There was a reason! It was fading, the knowledge and motive was fading, but I had to kill her!

Kill her!

"Shut up!" I cried, my voice trembling as I fought to lift my fist, to strike her down.

- you can't kill Athena, because you too are a warrior supposed to protect her -

I had to! I didn't know why but I had to!

- you can't kill Athena! -

"DIE! Athena!"

A horrible cracking sound filled my world, as the last barriers between us shifted and dissolved to nothing.

- yes... -

Yes...We are...

- I am... -

I am...

...Saga...

I saw my fist aimed at her, saw her eyes widen in fear and sorrow. I felt Milo's aura twist upon itself and I cried in my heart for the pain I had caused him, all of them, but him most of all. My Milo! My beloved child of blood and blossoms! My love! My other hand reached out to her, grabbing her sceptre and pushing it up against me, against my chest as I felt the shimmer and glow of Nike, and prayed for death.

"Saga... you...?" Her eyes filled with tears, and all I could do was reach out yearningly to touch her, to confirm her reality.

My Goddess...

"Saga!" Milo's voice... so full of confusion... so hurt. Oh Milo! Forgive me...! It was all I my fault, I left you alone and you... I... I love you!

What had I done...?

"A-athena...forgive... Athena..."

I pushed Nike hard against my abdomen, feeling the jolt of power that cracked me from the inside out. And the pain... it felt so right... so perfect! So... pure. I dropped to my knees, feeling my cosmo reassert itself and - finally! - become what it had been at first. My cosmo! I lifted my gaze to look at her, at my shinning Lady, and saw her eyes transfixed with pain.

For me.

"A...thena..."

I fell, but she knelt down and caught my shoulders in her delicate hands, her touch soft and careful. I leaned against her, feeling her unending warmth and I knew that I had to say something. To tell her that I had always been faithful to her! That I... I...

"I never ... never wanted to..."

But there was no need to finish my sentence. She nodded, her eyes glassy and afraid, but she understood. She believed me. I could only smile as my head touched her skirt.

"Seiya... I..."

That poor child... it had been all my fault!

"...forgive me..."

I felt so light, so warm against her, so peaceful... at last. I reached out, searching for Milo, trying to find his cosmo amidst those that surrounded me, needing to see him. Milo...

Milo!

I had to tell him! I had to explain to him that I loved him! That I never stopped loving him!

:Saga...:

His mind... his aura... so softly stroking against mine... I reached out and felt him, felt his pain and sorrow and his thorough and unending love! And I tried to tell him... to answer.

:I...never... forgot...:

I never forgot you, I wanted to say. I never stopped loving you! And his aura, so sweet and hurt, slipped from my grasp like running water. Athena's warmth drowning me finally, so sweetly, so wonderfully...

Until I fell asleep.

* * *

Milo:

And once again, there was only silence. Athena shuddered as Saga's body finally slumped against her, his aura giving out one last faint glow... his dying message to me... and he was gone. And there lay my Saga... the Saga that I loved.

I didn't understand what had happened, what had trespassed in those few seconds as the monster I was seeing shifted and became my Saga again... completely my Saga! His smile, even in death, was beatific... like an angel. I swallowed hard, my eyes stinging as Athena got up, letting go of my lover's cooling body as she walked, in a daze, towards her fallen Pegasus. And I just stared at Saga... At his milky white skin and his perfect smile... and his last words...

(I... never... forgot...)

That was all I had from him. But at that last moment... there had been love, right? Right!? The world was spinning around me and I had to take a step forward to keep my balance. Nothing made sense... nothing... and it was as if Saga was not dead... no... Saga was gone... with Shion...

But there was no Shion.

Camus would know what was going on... he always knew... Camus...

Camus...

Mu put his hand on my shoulder, his cosmo touching mine warily, but soothingly. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw one of Athena's companions, the tall butler, take out a phone and dial a number. But Athena paid him no heed, she simply knelt down and took Seiya's body into her arms.

It was over... finally...

I looked away, unable to bear the look of Saga's slightly curled up body, his smile and his closed eyes. It looked almost as if he was asleep! The same way he had looked all those nights I would spend awake simply looking at him...no, he was not dead. He couldn't be!

"Let's go," Mu whispered in my ear, and pulled me away. I turned numbly, gratefully taking my eyes off Saga, fervently searching for something to occupy my mind, to erase that pain for now. If possible... forever.

And I saw Cygnus. He was lying on the cold floor, faint shivers running up his body. He was probably in a lot of pain... much of it my own fault. I stepped closer to him, touching his fevered forehead with the tips of my fingers. He looked so vulnerable all of a sudden, so completely lost and alone that it made my heart ache. I dropped to my knees beside him, hearing his soft panting breaths as he fought to stay alive, and won. There was such power in him, and a heart so full of feelings! He was nothing like Camus, yet I could see why Camus had loved him so.

"Hyoga..." He did not stir when I called to him. I bent lower and shifted him into my arms, standing up. I felt the soft pounding of his young heart and closed my eyes, drowning in his gentleness, in his life...

Cygnus Hyoga had survived... and I was sure, that this was what Camus would have wanted.

The other youths were picked up by the Gold saints, their limp bodies pressed against our cloths as we surrounded Athena, watching in fascination the play of light upon her tears. We bowed our heads as she hugged Pegasus and cried over him, whispering softly words of encouragement... of thanks. She grieved for the living, whereas I struggled to forget the dead. But all I could hear was Hyoga's breathing, and the sound of his heart beating close to mine.

Alive...

The only thing that lived in my world.

Athena looked up at the sky for a while, a strange tension stealing upon her body as her arms tightened around Seiya, and then it was gone. She turned to us, and the to her butler who nodded and pointed at the sky with his finger. Mu looked up suddenly, speaking softly.

"We should lower the barriers now," he informed us. We all looked up, and heard the faint sound of a helicopter... of course. Medical assistance, that was the phone call. We lowered our auras, taking away the protective shield that we held - as a Gold saint's duty - around Sanctuary to isolate it. Athena smiled again, her eyes shining wisely and fondly as she looked at us.

"I'm afraid... I don't know all of your names..." she sounded so unsure all of a sudden, so fragile and childlike!

"You know me by name, Lady, I am Aries Mu," Mu interjected. "And this is Taurus Aldebarán, that one there is Virgo Shaka, you know Aiolia... and he - the one with the blue hair - is Scorpio Milo." He was utterly informal in his introduction, but it was oddly fitting. We all smiled and nodded at her, and her eyes lit up even more, as much as they could with the pain that went on around her. I pressed Hyoga's body tighter against mine and looked up at the sky. The helicopters were on top, raising a flurry of dust and wind as they landed beside us.

"Are any of you badly hurt?" Athena was looking at us directly, worry darkening her eyes, making them shine deeper and more profoundly. Mu shook his head, and helped the doctors that were approaching us take the wounded into the helicopters. As Seiya was taken in Athena seemed to doubt, her eyes on us. Mu smiled again and waved her off.

"Go with him," he said. "We have things to do here still."

By some unknown power Mu seemed to have placed himself as our leader, but it was not really that incredible, silent as he seemed he was Aries, and thus he was born to leadership. Athena nodded once and climbed hastily into the helicopter, the others following suit until only the five of us remained there, at the foot of Athena's statue. I bit my lip, feeling a cold wind lift my hair. Behind me, lay Saga...

Behind me...

"And what now?" Aiolia asked, gazing deep into the Aries saint's eyes. Mu sighed and looked away, towards Saga's sprawled body. I found I could not follow his gaze.

"We," he pointed out softly. "...we have a funeral to prepare. However things might have ended, those who died today were saints of Athena and as such, they deserve decent burial."

A funeral... since when did saints have funerals? We died in anonymity and were swiftly forgotten as we were replaced. Yet a funeral seemed fitting now, for all those fought and died here. For those who were good and those who were bad. All fought, all were alive and had their own reasons.

Even Saga had his reasons, didn't he? He must have... oh Goddess, he must have! For if it was all for nothing...!

I looked up at the stars, so bright and beautiful tonight, and felt an aching hollowness settle inside of me, a deep humming pain that would not go away. I turned to Saga, seeing him sleep the eternal sleep. I wanted to touch him, to confirm his reality, but I couldn't. I simply couldn't bring myself to feel his cold skin and accept that he was dead. That I had found him, that he had come back to me, and that he was dead.

I simply couldn't!

And so, to everyone's surprise, it was Mu who knelt beside him and picked up his body. There was a strange sad glow in his eyes as he did it. He rested Saga's head on his shoulder and tenderly brushed away the hair that obscured his face. "So... it was you."

It was such a strange thing to say. Mu held him carefully, gazing deep into the peaceful face of the man who murdered his teacher, with no rancour. Only pity.

"It was you..."

It was too much, too much!

I turned around and fled, running down the stairs, two at a time, trying to get as far away as I could from the whole scene. From everything. From Saga's death and the end of this crazy nightmare that had lasted for so long! Too long...

A cold breeze stopped me, and I realised that I stood at the back entrance to the Aquarius temple. My breath caught in my throat as I saw the white walls within, registered the cold that burned into my senses. My vision blurred and I felt the warm tears fall down my cheeks, what meagre warmth could be found here. I walked in slowly, without bothering to wipe away my tears. A few loose pieces of marble fell, echoing loneliness across the temple.

"Camus..."

He lay there, just as he had looked when I left him no more than an hour earlier. I went to kneel beside him, running my fingers through his frozen hair gently, remembering how it felt to braid it. My tears fell on his cheeks, staining the pale blue with a little heat, a little feeling. I touched his cheeks then, cold and moist, almost inhuman to feel, his dark eyelashes rested upon them like silver speckled brushes, as if it had been they who rendered him into this visage of frozen beauty. And indeed, never before had he looked as beautiful or alluring as he did now, never before had his face seemed so peaceful and happy. At ease.

"Oh... Camus..."

I did not know what to say, but his name came unbidden to my lips as I stroked his face, his neck, and felt the cloth under my fingers. I pressed down on it, opening my cosmo to it and felt the whole ensemble move off Camus and take the presentational form at the centre of the temple. I looked down then, my vision still unclear as I reached out to him, drawing his cold body against mine.

"I'm so sorry, Gabriel," I whispered in his ear, as if he could hear me. "So sorry..."

Because he had needed me and how I had needed him! Because I never understood him truly, and his coldness hurt me as much as my own passion must have burned him mercilessly. But we had cared for each other, and he had helped me. And... Goddess! ... I needed him now!

Burying my face in his chest I let myself go, and I cried in a way I did not remember crying ever before. He was limp in my grasp as I pressed my face against him, trying to remember what he felt like, his scent, his eyes that were now closed forever.

My best friend...

And I struggled to think only of him, to pay him this last homage. To think and cry solely for him, and not for all that I had lost. I blanked my mind until I could see only his noble face and hardened eyes, so I could grieve his death as wholly as he deserved... for I knew, that when the truth of my lover sunk in I would have no place for anything else again. Not ever.

Drawing in a ragged breath I drew away from his chest, to gaze one last time into his perfect features. One last time and I would say goodbye. One last time...

"I loved you," I whispered lowly, and ran my fingers through his hair.

The auras of the others reached out to me, but they were stopped by the warning glow of another, one who asked them to leave me alone. I was surprised by this, taken aback by this sudden understanding. All that reached me was their receding mourning, their sincere pain for me, and the they were gone, taking some other path downwards that did not run through this temple. But the one that had driven them off did not go away, I could feel him still at the back entrance.

I knew I had to let go, I knew it was time to end this... but I couldn't. After this, I would never hug him again, I would never feel him again! He would be buried in the earth and I would never see his face again! Never again! I sobbed softly and kissed his forehead, feeling him cold and hard against my lips. So unyielding as he had been in life!

A warm hand touched my shoulder, the one that had been standing outside had come in. I did not need to turn around to know who it was.

"It's finally over... isn't it?" I asked softly, still unable to get up or let go of Camus. Shaka sighed behind me, his grip on my shoulder tightening ever so slightly. And this little warmth, this vague gentleness drew me away from this frozen place and back into the aching reality, reminded me that up there - from where I had fled - there was someone else...

"Yes... for now."

I was over in many ways, but it would never end in others. Oh Athena, must it be this way!? Had Saga ever been mine? Had he ever truly loved me? Shion was dead before I ever met him, yet it was him who was used as excuse! He was never mine! He had never been with me! And yet he was always here, and he never betrayed me for another lover, in that sense, he never left me. So I had had him always, but never truly possessed him. I had him, but did I ever have his heart?

(I...never...forgot...)

Forgot what? Me? Our love? He had left me just as he did all those years ago, with a nod and a shove, but no explanation! I had thought that some day I would come to understand what had happened, but now I held no hope in my heart for that, or anything. I was lost, I had lost myself when he left me the first time and now...

Now...

I looked at Shaka then, and found that his eyes were open. "Did you at least find what you were looking for?"

He smiled and shook his head. "Not really, but I found something much better." He frowned then, as he saw Camus' body in my arms. "Come now Milo, we have a lot to do still."

I looked down, having almost forgotten the cold weight in my arms. A lot to do still? There was a funeral to prepare, and people to grieve... but things to do? Of this... I had very few left.

I nodded, standing up with Camus in my arms. "Yes... for now."

I pressed him against me just as I had pressed Hyoga's body, trying to memorise his face, his weight, the fall of his hair and the wistful look on his face. This was, at last, our goodbye.

(Will we still be friends?)

So long ago, I had asked him that question. I had stood on the edge of the cliff, having confessed my love to him. He told me off and yet, when I asked him my second question his answer was...

(Always...)

He had said that to me, so sweetly. So full of... love.

(Always, I promise)

And so it had been, for years and years and years... my best friend... my Camus.

My Gabriel.

Goodbye...

Shaka merely waited, his eyes calm and patient as I took one last look around myself, and at the body in my arms. So many things gone, so many had ended now... Camus would have to forgive me if I did not have the strength to go on, but I simply couldn't. Somewhere in my mind I had always believed I would have Saga back, that he would love me again one day. As it turned out I never lost him truly... and I would never have him in my arms once more. So Camus would have to forgive me if I let go, and took that final step.

The End of Part 5 -- Continued in Epilogue


ChatterboxToffee:

Ah, you see? I finally finished this thing! Thank you Torque for that cool quote, but you forgot to say who wrote it! *sweatdrops* (yeah, I used it nonetheless. *wicked grin*) And this chapter is lovingly dedicated to my friend Pleasy Stay, because she saw what lay beyond the words. *hugs*


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