Unbroken

Epilogue: "Engraved in Stone"

© 2001 by Sofía 'Toffee' Francisco

This page was last modified: 2001/05/08


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"Should all acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind,
we'll drink a cup of kindness yet
for auld lang syne"

-British folk song-

Waking up was no easier than it had been to fall asleep, perhaps the heaviness was greater, or the respite too shallow to lighten the soul; quite contrary, it seemed to weight down on me even more. There was the faint tugging of consciousness, and the deep knowledge that one should not wake up, should never wake up again no matter what. But I opened my eyes, I dared to return to reality and face it. And there, for the briefest of moments, there was only the feeling of 'wrongness', and not the memory, not the knowledge. But just as I realised that something felt amiss, I concentrated on this thought... and remembered.

My room was dark, as always. Dark and cold and lonely. There was no comfort to be found in the pervading shadows, or in the silence that reigned supreme. Only loneliness, and the aching certainty of things lost and unrecoverable. Broken vases smashed too minutely to be stuck together again. Futures broken.

Broken...

I took a deep breath, but stayed in bed. I didn't have the heart to get up, not even move. There was no comfort here, but there would be none out there either. What I had lost was gone from within, I had lost that which made me go outside to brave each day. Feeling lonely by myself was better than doing so under sympathetic glances and gentle words. Perhaps because the pain was duller... perhaps because it was sharper. Whatever the reasons I did not want to get up, I simply didn't want to.

(ah... you are such a hedonist! You miss half of the day by sleeping in!)

Saga... had said that to me once. He then he stayed in bed with me too, blaming me for the loss of perfectly usable hours. But he stayed.

For a time, he stayed.

(get up Milo! It's way past midday...)

No, it isn't. Not today, not now. Please go away, I don't need to remember this now. Not now Saga... not ever.

(it's early and the sun is out, I can see it on all the mirrors!)

Damn you! There are no mirrors in here! That was years ago! The sun is not in here, I don't even know what time it is!

(Oh Milo...)

Did anybody know what he was like in private? Had anyone ever seen how warm and kind he could be, when he was still himself? Or was I the only one who could easily say that Saga... was not evil?

Memories from the previous day swarmed me, drowning me under their translucent weight, the silence seemed to call them to me, weaving their voices through the muteness in the air. Saga... pale and perfect, smiling innocently as he slept. He would sleep on forever now, wouldn't he? Yesterday he was still alive, he was still right beside me though I never knew. But today he was farther away than I ever thought he would be... and somehow closer. I didn't understand it at all; what had happened and how. Why he had killed Shion and impersonated him, why he had pushed me away all those years ago if he was not Shion's lover... if Shion had been dead for years already. Why did he never tell me the truth? Why did he send me to kill Albior?

Why had he been so evil, and so good?

The Saga I saw yesterday was not my Saga, and still my Saga at the same time. There was evil in him, but that was gone. He had been taken over by something unnatural... perhaps it was only a darker side of himself. But why?

A part of me refused to believe that he ever loved me, but I knew he had... so why? Why did Saga do things the way he did? I would never be able to ask him this. Or tell him that even after all that happened I...

I would have stayed by him still.

But he was dead, and I did not want to get out of my bed just to have the world remind me of this, and keep on doing it forever. I... just wanted to fall asleep again, to forget what I now knew so clearly. No one was waiting for me out there... so... why get up?

I stared deep into the darkened ceiling of my room and closed my eyes, feeling empty and alien to myself, unable to shed a single tear and yet so sad. So cold. Just like when I was a child. Nights had been just as dark and chilling, and there was no one to care, nothing to wake up for.

I hadn't looked back on those times for years now; after I began my training I left it all behind, and when I met Gabriel I knew I would love him, and that he would care for me too. He was the first person to be kind to me, the first person that...cared.

He did not know this, I never told him about myself before the day we met. Neither did he. It was almost a banned subject between us, though it always gave me the impression that it was a more painful memory for him than it was for me.

To me it was almost nothing. Not because it was happy or sad, but because it was lonely and empty. There was nothing much to remember from back then, save that I had wanted to love, and be loved. So when I met Gabriel, and grew to love him, I simply forgot about that time. Why did I think on it now?

Maybe... because I was as lonely now as I was then.

Maybe it was just the dark.

I did not know where I was born exactly, nor who my parents were either. I was a child of no one, left at the door of some house when I was a baby. But those people did not take me in either, they dropped me off at a local church and ran off just like my parents had done hours earlier. I grew accustomed to the thought that no one wanted me, and stopped trying to be liked even though I ached for people to like me. It was easier that way. The Church acted as a home for the homeless and orphaned, but as kind as the few helping nuns were, I never got along well.

Then the place was burned down during a fire when I was four, a bakery right beside us - who gave free bread to the inhabitants of the home- caught fire because of a broken oven, and burned itself and the houses around it down to ashes. I was among the few who woke up that night, and managed to escape.

I woke up no one, so only a few were saved. Strangely, I did not feel I owed these people anything, or that I was responsible for their deaths. They never cared for me, why shouldn't I do the same for them? Yet perhaps the subconscious knowledge of what I had done did grow heavy upon my soul, and made me even darker and less approachable; the pain of my first kills, that would be forgotten under the weight of future ones, years later.

I ran away from the next orphanage and found myself walking through the streets of Greece alone. Yet I fared quite well, stealing bread and fruit from street vendors as they watched me in stunned silence. I would stare deep into their eyes with the certainty that they feared me, and they did. They would stand still as if in the view of some deadly snake, and never utter a word. But then, sometimes I would eat some left over I picked out of the garbage, or steal someone's wallet and buy some decent food. There was not much else to do.

When I was six I ran into a gang of young kids -thieves all- who seemed to take to me. They were fascinated by the way adults feared me, by my ability to render them useless just by staring at them. The oldest one, a twelve year old boy called Yannakos, saw the potential in my ability, and bid me to join them.

I knew they didn't really care for me, not in the way I would want someone to do so, but they needed me and that was enough. I was tired and weary, and I wanted to have people around me again, so I could forget all those children who died in the fire. I joined the little group and let them take me where they would.

Which ended up being a cemetery.

I had never seen one in all my life, but my times spent in the church had accustomed me to crosses and holy symbols, which made all those carved slabs of stone all the more alien to me, jutting out of the ground like that. Yannakos led us all inside with a smile in my direction, to rest under the protection of the more complex statues, of spread-winged angels and looming seraphs.

"What is this place?" I whispered in awe, feeling a numbing cold touch my spine as I saw thousands of names carved on a slab each, and grew afraid.

"A cemetery... Christian one I think," Yannakos shrugged and sat down under a tree. "It doesn't matter, really, it's just another place for the dead."

I stared around myself, taking deep breaths to calm down. "But... then these are all... graves?"

"Sure, of the people whose names are written on the stones," he pulled a piece of bread out of a pocket and took a hearty bite out of it. "This is where we live."

"H-here?" how could they bare to live here, surrounded by death?

"Sooner or later, everyone ends up here, or somewhere similar. Why not become acquainted early on with what will be our eternal bed?" Yannakos smiled darkly and took another bite off his loaf, his eyes shining coldly as he stared at my shivering body.

"It's disgusting..." he raised a brow at that.

"What is?" he asked between mouthfuls.

"These hideous things for their loved ones!" Why did they leave them here, surrounded by all of this destruction? All this death and decay? These angels were not the beautiful angels I believed in, but dark and covered in moss and dirt!

"I suppose it is because they want them to be remembered." Yannakos shrugged again, and looked away. I felt tears sting my eyes, the paling sky throwing streaks of shadow over each grave, making them look dark and horrible.

"It's disgusting..." I had whispered again that night, before falling asleep. None of the children said anything to me that night, or the following day. An unsettling mood had fallen over me as I slept there, and wandered. Why did people want to remember their dead like this? Why did they even want to recall the pain it brought to have seen them die? Or was it out of vengeance from this pain, that they erected these crude monuments of their lives?

I did not understand it then, because as much as I wanted to love... I never had. I was drawn to these statues, because of their strange words and faceless names. So many people, with their lives carved down into a single line: "loving father" or "beloved husband and brother". That was all.

That was... all.

Yannakos and his troupe saw nothing wrong in this place, to them it was just a vast terrain to hide in. By day we would steal the flowers people lay for their deceased and sold them on the streets, or sometimes we would venture deep into the city and steal food and clothes. I became an irreplaceable item to this small group of thieves, who stripped people clean of money while I held their gazes with such force they could not move. By day this was all we did. By night they would celebrate our incursions, while I leaned on some stray grave, trying hard not to cry.

Emptiness was all I could feel, deep in my bones and soft against my skin. I felt cold and scared, eaten by guilt and fear of judgement. Though I knew not who would call me forward to expiate my sins. By morning I would just get up and begin my morning round of flower-stealing, to then reorganise the wreaths into smaller ones, easier to sell. All of this I went though, silently and diligently, convinced that there was nothing else, that I was in the only place I could be.

I felt dead... a creature no one had ever loved, and that had loved no one in turn. And I was afraid of the graves that stood so high above me, because they had something to say, and when I died... my life would be worth less than one phrase. Only one word.

Dead.

And nothing else would be said, no one would remember me. I had not realised, back then, that what made me fear and hate the graves so, was that they meant something. And that my very own life meant a lot less than simple stone. I was nothing.

Nothing at all.

"You say you hate them, but you look at them like you loved them, " Yannakos would whisper in my ear, pointing at the stones that stood all round us. I would shiver each time he did this, and pull away convulsively.

"They have more life than you and me put together."

"Hm, true... but we are breathing and they are not. Why worry over it?" I felt tears sting my eyes, warm and unreal.

"Doesn't it hurt you... to know that you are more dead than those who are underground already?" Yannakos' eyes darkened slightly when I asked him this, his lips pressed together into a thin line.

"Why should it? No one gave me chance to be anything else, I am what I am, dead or alive. So why not live this through and mourn when it's over... rather than mourn that it isn't yet over?"

I had let my tears fall then, conscious of the truth in his words, and the gaping pit in my chest that swallowed me whole. "Yes, but... who will care?"

Who will care...?

Yes, that was the question that haunted me every night, until I left that place in the company of the man that would be my master.

Why was I remembering all of this now? Why did I even think back on those times?

"Milo?" I heard a knock on my door, and a soft voice calling my name startled me out of my thoughts. I closed my eyes with a sigh, not wanting to answer. "Milo I know you are in there, can I come in?"

I registered a soft touch on the fringe of my aura, a questioning whisper of another's cosmo that briefly stroked mine. I curled inwards, drawing my cosmo away from that touch, wanting to be left alone.

"Milo... "

I opened my mouth to scream at him to go away, but only a vague groan came out. I was so tired, and my throat felt dry and raw. "Go away Shaka."

"I can't, Mu sent for you."

I bit my lip and turned my face into a pillow, feeling heavy and drained at the very thought of getting up and facing the day. "Tell him I am sick then."

A soft chuckle on the other side of the door made me blink. Shaka, laughing?

"He knows you are sick already... but he said that it was imperative that you went to him, now."

Was this some kind of joke? Why wouldn't they leave me alone? "Leave me alone!"

"Milo..."

"Go away!" Tears trickled down my cheeks, in the darkened room no one could see me. "Just... go away..."

I heard him sigh softly, and then walk back up the stairs that lead to my underground quarters. Shaka's departure left me feeling even emptier.

"Goddess..." Why couldn't I just die?

:Milo:

Athena! Couldn't they just...

"Leave me alone Mu, please."

:you have to come here...:

"Didn't you hear me!" the jamilon's smooth voice jarred my frayed senses, his aura's touch too sweet and comforting to be of any help. His steadfast poise and silent bearing, his gentleness and worry... it was all too much and too soon. I tried to draw away but he drove his aura into mine relentlessly and held me there, caught and trembling.

:come here Milo... to Athena's Sanctuary:

"No..." I whispered, wiping away my tears in anger, infuriated by his prodding.

:I am doing this for you Milo, don't make me loose my time:

And he was gone.

I lay there, breathing fast and unevenly, torn between anger and pain. Why couldn't they just leave me to die down here? I was so tired!

I got up from my bed slowly, turning on a few candles even though I knew where everything was, just to get accustomed to the light before going out. I pulled some clothes from my cupboard, and washed myself wearily before slipping them on. I glanced at my reflection in my mirror, seeing my dark and watery eyes, touching the reddened tear marks on my cheeks.

"I look like hell..." I murmured, and shook my head at my own idiocy.

:I'm coming Mu...: I voiced to him through our auras.

I was surprised to find Shaka waiting for me at the exit of my temple, dressed in simple white robes he looked almost like an apparition; pale and golden, draped in white. He nodded to me as I approached, unafraid of my dark frown and burning gaze.

"Why are you still here?" I demanded coldly, fists clenched.

"Mu told me to wait for you to come out, and take you to him," he sounded perfectly calm, but on closer scrutiny I could see he was tired, and there were fading shadows under his closed eyes. I blinked at that.

"Why are you walking around with your eyes closed now that there is no danger?" he smiled when I asked this.

"Everyone deals with things their own way Milo."

I sighed and looked away. The sun shone intermittently between rows of clouds, it would be completely covered up in a few hours. I looked down, at the high shrine of Athena that sat atop the hill, just behind the Kyoko's. Shaka stayed with his closed eyes directed at me, his cosmo tightly wound around himself, respecting my earlier wish for distance.

"Why does he need me?" I asked softly, feeling a cold breeze touch my face.

"He... has something to give you." I did not understand what he meant, but I followed him up nonetheless, through the passages that took us there faster. Once we had reached the Kyoko's temple he guided me through, to the steps below Athena's shrine. Shaka stopped there, and turned right suddenly, making me follow him into a darkened ante-chamber that seemed to have been part of the Kyoko's temple once.

"What is this place...?" I whispered, shuddering when Shaka knocked on the heavy doors that lead inside and waited. It was merely formality, I knew Mu had felt us arrive.

"One of many deserted and unused rooms, Mu had it cleaned yesterday night and...well, you'll see."

I glared at him, confused and unwilling to go through any surprises. I felt too tired too... alone. Why didn't I just stay in my room? I looked away from the door, to find myself staring at Athena's golden statue... the place where Saga had died.

I closed my eyes, breathing in sharply. Why had I come here? I didn't want to be here! The memories from last night were too fresh in my mind, too painfully vivid. Saga... lying there...

(I... never forgot...)

His smile, so soft and peaceful. His gentle cosmo slipping away, falling from my hands like water and fading into nothing. His warmth, going away from me again... so cold... so cold! I shivered and hugged my arms, the cooling breeze chilling me to the very marrow in my bones.

:come in:

Mu's aura touched ours, and I shied away from him, too caught up in my own pain. Shaka put his hand on my shoulder and gently drew me in through the massive doors. I followed numbly, blinking as I stepped into the darkened room. There was no one here, but I could see another doorway at the far end, and Mu's cosmo coming from the other side. I drew away from Shaka, confused and tired. I shook myself and straightened my shoulders, stepping up to the door at the end of the room, when something caught my eyes.

"A-are those...?" I pointed, unable to really comprehend what it was that I was seeing.

"Gravestones, yes." Shaka walked up to where I stood, frozen. "They were finished a few hours ago, for the funeral this afternoon..." his voice trailed off as he noticed my paleness and wide eyes.

"Since when..." my breath caught in my throat, I had to try again. "Since when do saints have funerals... and gravestones?" I remembered Mu's words from the day before, but I had not thought they would take it this seriously.

"It seemed appropriate... and we all agreed. I don't think anyone was really guilty, or innocent for that matter, but that does not mean that they do not deserve to be remembered," his voice was low and husked, I could hear the pain he felt.

"Yes but..." Camus wouldn't have wanted this... He didn't believe in being remembered, in being loved after death, he just..."what does Athena think?"

"She thought it was a good idea, she'll be here to officiate the ceremony... of sorts." Shaka smiled sadly at this.

"Of sorts?"

"She is our Goddess... but we have no burial rites under her name, nor can we use another religion's... this is not a ceremony dedicated to her, but to those who died for her. A... memorial."

I shook my head and knelt by the simple slabs, touching the freshly carved names. Pisces Aphrodite, Cancer Deathmask, Capricorn Shura...

"For Shura too?" I looked up at Shaka.

"We didn't retrieve his body... but he deserved his place too, it's symbolical only."

I nodded and stood up, trying to ignore the other two slabs that had been laid side by side, as if to mock me in some obscure way. So there was to be a funeral? I smiled and leaned against a pillar, staring down at the perfectly smooth stones with glazed eyes.

"Milo?" Shaka's touched my shoulder again, I shuddered and shook him off.

Graves... like those of my childhood. But for what? What purpose did they serve? Why?

"Milo?"

I blinked twice, all of a sudden remembering where I was. Shaka's eyes were open, and he stared deep into my face worriedly. Such emotions were so strange in him, yet he felt them. Something vital had been altered during the battle, and he had found that which I had wanted to show him... more than two years ago, already?

"Are you all right?" He frowned, worried yet too ignorant in things such as this to know how to react, or what to say. Ignorant to that fact that it was only instinct that could tell us what to do at times like this.

"I'm all right. I was just... remembering something." I stood straighter, giving the slabs one last glance before I turned my back on them, striding towards the door at the far end. Shaka followed me silently, and stopped right behind me when we reached it. I turned to look at him, tilting my head to one side.

"Aren't you coming in too?"

Shaka shook his head gently, gesturing for me to go forward. "This concerns only you."

I frowned, turning away from him exhaustedly. I felt too drained to prolong this game any longer. I pushed the door open and stepped inside, unsure of what I would find. Shaka closed the door behind me, and I was drowned by the feeling of Mu's cosmo, which he kept expanded only within the reaches of the high room. I stood there hesitantly, then froze.

I felt a cold sweat break upon my forehead, and deep icy claws sunk into my chest as I stared around me, and felt close to fainting.

"You took long enough," Mu spoke admonishingly, stepping out of the shadows and into my line of sight. I took a step back, closer to the door, but he held up his hand to stop me. His eyes shone with pity, and understanding.

"What... is... this...?" I asked between clenched teeth, trying desperately to control myself. Mu bowed his head and sighed, then looked up again.

"Milo..."

"What is this!"

I took a step towards him, flaring my cosmo menacingly. He did not even flinch as my aura clashed violently into his, forcing him to draw back and raise some protective barriers around the outer reaches of his cosmo.

"Calm down, Scorpio," he moved closer to me, lifting one hand to touch my trembling fists. "I didn't call you here to hurt you in any way."

"Liar."

I could see just a little beyond him, five crumbling altars, each with a body upon it. My heart bashed painfully in my chest, and all I could think of was that I wanted to flee from this place. But Mu did no let go of my gaze, or my hand; and the look of profound worry that he gave me forced me to calm down. I looked away from him; it was impossible for me to bear seeing those bodies behind him.

"Milo, you have to look up."

"Why are you doing this?"

"Look up Milo." I did, and saw tears glimmering in his eyes. "You humans are so strange... you feel so strongly, yet you believe that there is weakness in crying." He shook his head, finally letting go of my hand.

"Why...?"

"He was important to you... wasn't he?" Mu whispered, an aching smile on his placid face.

"Camus? Yes..."

"No... I know you loved Aquarius. That is not why I called you here." I dreaded what he would say next; his revulsion or hatred, the possibility that he might know what had happened between me and Saga. I was about to move back when I saw the calmness in his face, the absolute tranquility and... understanding?

"What are you talking about?" I murmured, allowing him to pull me forward into the room.

"Saga... he was important to you, wasn't he?" I closed my eyes, to hold back my tears.

"What if I said he was?" I whispered between clenched teeth.

"Then I was right to call you here." I faced him confusedly, unable to fathom what he was thinking, what had lead him to these conclusions.

"Why are you doing this Mu... you most of all should hate him. He killed your teacher." He lead me up to Saga's body, my breath hitched and I turned my back on it before I could see him. Mu smiled again and shook his head.

"Shion knew he would die... he told me this the last time I saw him. I thought I would hate the man who killed him... but when the time came..."

"You couldn't?"

"Yes... I couldn't. I can't explain it to you in terms you'll understand, the cloths are complicated even for me. But I know that Saga was no more guilty of his doings, than you were for killing in the name of Athena. Everyone is someone's pawn sooner or later, even if it is of our own destiny. Gemini is a hard responsibility, and Saga was not more evil for loosing the fight to it. He was... only human." He bit his lip, closing his eyes tightly. "I can't hate someone who suffered so much more than me, or the ones he killed."

"What makes you think that I would care about this?" I swallowed hard, holding back a sob as I opened my eyes and saw Camus' body on the other side.

"I don't know what happened... but I could feel something between your cloth and his, there was something that bound you two together. And yesterday, when you looked at his smiling face, you looked as if you were about to cry." Mu walked past me, standing over Saga's body. "You looked as if... you wanted answers."

I turned around slowly, conscious of the burning in my eyes and the tightness in my chest.

"I can't bring him back for you, nor tell you what you need to hear. But you must know that Saga was not guilty of all those sins... not in the way we understand it. It wasn't by his will that all of this took place, he too was... controlled. But his feelings, before or after, were real. And when his soul left his body all that could be felt in his cloth... was you."

Tears fell down my cheeks freely as I stared down and saw him.

Saga.

He was still smiling, still held in that illusion of quiet sleep that made him look as alive as he had been when in my arms. I realised that Mu's power was holding their bodies intact until the funeral.

"He was important to you... wasn't he?"

"Yes."

His hair was still the same dark blue... if only I could see his eyes... if only he would open his eyes and give that smile to me. Only to me...

"I can't give you answers, but I can give you a little while... with him." I looked up, staring wild-eyed into his peaceful face. "Because... you loved him."

I bit my lip and looked down, ashamed all of a sudden. "Yes."

"Don't look down... I wish I could have known him. He must have been a wonderful person, if he managed to get you to feel that way for him. Camus was... a great person too. Don't be ashamed of your feelings, they are all that we have. I only wish I could give you a longer time to mourn them... but I can't. And you must learn to live on with this, and accept it. Out of all of us, there are two of you who suffered the most during this battle, let me at least help one of you." He touched my cheek gently, feeling the moisture there. "Your feelings are what make you what you are... so never give up on them."

He didn't know what he was asking of me. To accept these feelings, it meant I would die. Because I wanted to die. But...

But...

He looked so beautiful, my Saga...

"I'll come back in an hour or so."

Once Mu was gone I let myself go and sobbed freely. Why did his words pain me so? I had needed to hear that, to know that he was not evil. That Saga had not been a monster and that he deserved to be remembered with love, but this only hurt me more. Mu had said, that I was the last thing he felt for... that there was something that bound us together. He had tried to tell me, in terms I could not decipher, but clearly enough meant that... Saga had loved me.

He had loved me.

I looked up and shivered, leaning on the edge of his altar I leaned down and kissed his forehead, his cheeks. I didn't dare to kiss his lips, not wanting to remember them dry and cold as they surely were.

"I love you," I whispered in his ear, and pressed my forehead against his. "Damn you, I loved you."

Yes... I had loved him. More than anything else on this earth, more than anyone. I had loved him so much that I had wanted to die when he left me, so much that now I did not have the strength to live, now that he was not only far away from me but dead.

All I had was the truth of his feelings... that he had loved me.

But I didn't know why he did what he did, or why he never told me about what was going on inside of him. I was alone again, more than ever before. And I felt empty... so very empty. I couldn't even go back to being cold and centred on physical pleasure, my own soul was rooted too deeply in my heart for me to separate it any more.

I opened my eyes and lifted my head off his, staring deep into his features, his peaceful and happy smile as he dreamed beyond the flow of time and into eternity, and I wished that I could join him. There was so many things that were left unspoken between us, so many things I wished I had told him, things I would have wanted to hear... so many dreams were broken.

But here and now, my doubts were gone and my soul was laid bare. I had loved, I had been loved... and it was over. Only now - after more than five years- it was over.

"But I will not forget you,... so don't you forget me. Wherever you are now, you'll better be waiting for me...somewhere."

I had let my feeling lead me, in the end. That had become my greatest weakness, and it would lead me to Saga when I died, as it had lead me to Saga when I was still a child. Perhaps it was destiny, that I fell in love with Saga, that I surrendered to Gabriel's cold friendship, and that I was there for Blood to find me when he came to the very same place where I was, in search of that which tortured him. He too, was led by his own feelings.

Living in the cemetery had became a cycle of thieving and sleeping, by then. Nothing changed, time seemed to have stopped completely, until Blood. The local watcher- whom we always avoided- was tired of trying to catch us and did nothing. Yet one day he approached our hiding spot , out of pure chance and not even conscious of where it was, as he was followed by another taller person.

"As I tell you... I am pretty sure we don't have anyone under that name here..."

"Please, all I want to do is see it myself and I will bother you no more..." the tall man stopped abruptly and stared right at where we hid, even though it was covered in bushes and a tall stone angel. "You have kids around here?" he inquired curtly.

"Kids? Aw damn, yes. Little thieving scum, they steal the flowers and hide here by night. I gave up on catching them long ago."

Yannakos crawled up to me, his face drawn with worry. "That guy can see us...we have to go."

"If we run now, he'll catch us," I whispered back, chilled by the cutting pain in the tall man's blue eyes. And also, strangely tempted. I did not know towards what, though.

"Not if they can't move," he whispered and I gave him a long look.

"Yannakos..."

"Use you power on them, then run away. You can do it!"

"There is something strange in that man..." I had a very strange feeling, and it was not good.

"You can do it! You have done it many times!" Yannakos was clearly desperate, he too had a bad feeling about this. If the watcher found our hiding place it would be cleaned out.

"Okay..." I still don't know why I accepted, I had known from the start that this was no ordinary victim... so perhaps I said yes because I needed to change.

Just as Yannakos began to crawl away I moved closer to the man; trying to get a good angle at which I could catch the eyes of both him and the watcher, and hold them there. I saw the man shudder and look up suddenly, his blue eyes narrowing as he scanned the area. But the watcher spoke to him just then, calling his attention. His catlike features made me tremble, as if in the presence of something beastly and beautiful.

"Here we are... Maria Leighton... that is the only English name with the initials M.L. that we have here. What was the name of the lady you were looking for?"

The tall man sighed sadly, shaking his head in defeat. "Leigh... Morgana Leigh."

"You should be glad then sir! This is the last place where people come to look." The watcher laughed and slapped his thigh, caught up in his own joke. From a distance, Yannakos urged me forward and smiled.

"Go for it!" he mouthed silently, and scuttled off.

I came out of the bushes just as the watcher saw the children running away, and froze them both on the spot. Or so I thought at first. But the tall man cocked his head to one side and broke out laughing, his intensely red hair fanning about his face in the wind. The watcher couldn't move, but the other man was mocking me. He stepped forward, and before I knew what had gone wrong I was caught in his arms, only then realising how strong he was. I cried out, but the other children were too far away. I writhed in his grasp like a snake until I managed to capture his eyes, and gazed at him using the power I knew I possessed to freeze him, force him to let go.

But he only laughed harder.

"Sir... are you all right... that kid might have a dagger with him. He looks small but..." The watcher was hushed with a dismissive wave of my captor's hand.

"I am quite all right... though this is quite a surprise... what is your name child?"

I glared at him sullenly. "Milo."

"Milo? How very appropriate..." he said, and smiled. "My name is Blood. Scorpio Blood."

And I was caught, not so much by his arms but by the intensity in his eyes. The passion that burned there, that drew me to his world like a moth to the light. And then I was caught again, by his lover's quiet and sad pupil, who was - for all his intelligence- completely ignorant about feelings. But I grew to love him... I grew to love Gabriel and I know... that he too loved me.

In is own particular way, of course.

And later on... there was Saga.

My Saga.

Who was dead now... dead and smiling before me.

"Saga..."

I buried my face in his chest and let myself cry, for all that was and wasn't. For all the things that were never said, and all the wrong things we said. I cried for him and for me, and for the love that once bound us together. I don't know how long I stayed like this, but when I had finally tired myself out, and my eyes were dry and aching, I pulled away from him, giving his cheek one last caress before I stepped back and strode away.

I stopped beside Camus, touching his cold skin. He was no longer covered in frost as he had been before... Mu's work probably. I stroked his hair softly, and felt my lips curl up into a painful smile.

"I'll be seeing you around." Someday... somewhere... perhaps. "Goodbye."

Then I turned my back on both of them, and resolutely walked towards the door. I had to leave this behind... I had to leave them behind. I had needed these last moments with them, to say goodbye and find my feet again. To get up and find the strength to walk a bit more... even if it just walked into a cliff... and over the edge. I left them behind now, my past... my dreams... my tears.

My love.

I opened the door and went through, to find that Shaka was still there, waiting for me. Or rather, that he had come back for me. In his arms he held a folded white robe like the one he wore. He extended his hands and handed me the garment with a sad look.

"The funeral will be at sundown. Wear this."

I stared down at the smooth robe. "White?"

"Athena thought it would be more fitting... we are also celebrating, you know." He added a weak smile to this comment, and blinked in surprise when I smiled vaguely too.

"Ah yes... we are indeed."

I nodded towards him and walked out of the chambers into the daylight. Clouds had covered the skies already, and a cold wind blew through the houses. I saw Mu coming up the stairs just as I was going down. He smiled and passed me by. I sighed and headed back down to my house, feeling cold and aching. Yet strangely lighter, almost free, as if some great weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Though the pain would not go away, at least I could walk straight now.

Once I had reached my temple I walked down the stairs that lead to my room and dropped on my bed heavily, curling up slightly and closing my eyes. Dimly, I could still feel the auras all over Sanctuary moving and changing, preparing the funeral probably. I opened my eyes to gaze dully at the white robes. I didn't really feel up to it, I didn't think I could get up again and follow the slow procession down to the place where they would be buried. I had had enough already... too much.

And the thought of walking beside their bodies and seeing them be laid into the earth... I just couldn't.

Gravestones...

It still seemed so strange, for a saint to have a grave. I knew some had, but it was uncommon nonetheless. I had liked to believe I would have one too, someday. But after a while that became of no consequence. Children died everyday during training, and their bodies were taken away by lower guards and thrown somewhere, where they would be out of the way. Those who died were simply forgotten, and the cloths moved on to someone else. The concept of graves... it was completely alien to this place. Yet here we were, about to celebrate a funeral for a group of saints who had died fighting against - and at the same time for- Athena. I had thought graves and markings were not important... after Saga left me I found myself so empty... even more than when I was child. Because I had been filled, suddenly and blissfully filled, and then drained of all that I was. So I strove to be filled again if only in body, and let my heart turn to stone. What would a grave say then?

Nothing.

But now... what of now? Would anyone remember me? building a grave for me still seemed like a waste of time... building a grave for anyone was. But, a grave for Camus and Saga... it felt right.

Just right.

Graves were not monuments to the dead, but reminders for the living. They were built for those who deserved to be remembered, forever if possible. When I was a child it was their darkness that scared me, and now...

I never got over the childish impression, and my life as a warrior only strengthened it: I did not think we were worth remembering so the whole concept was useless. But now I wanted Saga and Camus to be remembered... I wanted people to remember me too. I had spent my whole life wallowing in death, yet running away from the truth... that we never really die. Our bodies decay, our blood stains the cold rocks... but our souls live on.

We survive in the hearts of all those who loved us.

So Saga would never truly die, and Camus would never truly leave me. Their memories, of all our times together, would make them live on, just like they would in everyone else's mind. And when we died, and no one remembered them, their names carved in stone would bear witness to their existence... and that they were worth remembering.

More than worth.

(Camus...?)

(Hm?)

(Do you think humans are like the stars sometimes?)

I blinked as I remembered my last carefree conversation with Camus... had it really been only a few days ago?

(...I mean, in how they shine even after their deaths, as long as they are remembered?)

And Camus had looked at me, so sadly. His eyes shining with a pain I could not understand then, because he knew he would have to kill his pupil when the war broke out. Or that the child would die anyway. But Hyoga had lived, he had survived with the strength of his heart.

(I used to... but not anymore.)

Because he was so hurt... he didn't dare to believe in love. And yet, he was slave to it.

(Living for and from our memories is living in the past...one cannot survive like that)

And yet Camus - just like me- had lived in the past. He had thrived on old memories thought he tried to hide it, and he loved... not me. But Hyoga... Hyoga had been important to him. Hyoga would remember him.

Like me.

I did not know this then, but I had held so much hope in my heart... so much love, for the past and the future, dreams of peace... someday. I had wanted to live the rest of my life with Camus, somewhere where we could be free.

(Perhaps... but, maybe our memories are all we have, and they are all that makes us what we are...)

It was all I could answer, all the truth I knew. And now... Now it was time to prove it to be right. This last homage to them was all we could give. Because they were important...

Important...?

I got up suddenly, feeling a strange tugging at the back of my mind. All the deaths I had brought, and given, seemed to cling to my mind. So many names I did not know or remember... but one of them persisted.

I took a deep breath and walked out of my temple resolutely.

It was already late and darkening when Shaka found me.

He had been looking for me for quite a while, and the funeral would start in an hour or so. I sighed and turned to face him when I felt his aura approach.

"Shaka..." I greeted him sadly, head bowed.

He looked around himself in surprise. "I didn't know this place even existed..."

"You should see it in spring... it really comes to life. All this greenery is actually a flowerbed," I whispered, swallowing back the lump in my throat. I felt like crying all of a sudden. Shaka crossed his arms and gave me a long look.

"Why are you here Milo?" he asked, voice low and worried.

"I had... something to do. Something I left undone for too long." Goddess, why did my eyes sting like this?

"What do you mean?"

I took a deep breath. "There was someone... someone really special... who deserved more than I had given him."

Shaka closed the distance between us, standing beside me with his arms crossed. His eyes bore into mine, slightly alarmed at my glassy stare. I smiled sadly and looked in front of me, at the tall rock that stood at the centre of this little haven. Shaka frowned and stepped closer, lifting a slender hand to touch the freshly carved letters.

"Scorpio... Blood?"

"He deserves this at least. We die... all of us, and our souls leave, our blood cools down... but we also live on for a time. Like the stars... you know? After they die... their glow remains..." I bit my lip and chuckled softly, feeling my chest tighten. "He... deserved this."

(When you love something, fight for it. Let it know you love it, and never... hear me, never turn your back on it. Make every moment last, and love to the very limit of your heart, and beyond...)

"He loved... like no one I knew..."

Shaka stared at me and nodded finally, letting his hand fall. "Yes... you are right."

We stared at each other for a while, the wind rustling through the plants all around us, making odd whistling sounds as it swept between the rocks and pillars like howling silk. Up above the clouds rolled lazily, the crisp air promising rain by tonight, the cold wind only confirmed it.

"We should be going now, you still haven't changed," Shaka observed at last, giving my dusty clothes a critical look. "Let's go."

By the time I had showered and put on the long white clothes, the funeral was ready to begin. Athena stood at the foot of the Kyoko's shrine, waiting for the last few people to arrive. Everyone, including those whom we were paying homage to, had been dressed in white, and a few guards and younger trainees held burning torches that flickered in the wind. The sky was almost dark by now, and the cold humid air calmed me somewhat. Finally, when all those who would arrive were here, Athena began to walk down the stairs followed by some guards and lesser saints, who carried the marble coffins. The rest of us Gold saints flanked them silently as we made our way down. Only the occasional crackle of the fires could be heard, but no one spoke.

They were buried in a grassy plain, close to a few other scattered graves of saints who had been given decent burial at some point. No one said anything, not even a last few words. But we all helped cover the holes with earth, and we all helped in setting the gravestones into their rightful places. I was crying by the time it was over, but I was not the only one. Mu's eyes glistened with tears, and Athena's cheeks were already red and chafed be her teartracks. Aiolia had a far off look, especially after I took his arm and conveyed Katrina's parting message to him; Aldebarán simply stood there, eyes dull and pained. Shaka, however, was the greatest surprise to us all: he cried silently throughout the ordeal, and did not bother to hide this from anyone.

"Let us hope... that peace is what comes next," Athena murmured, bending down to touch the damp earth with her delicate fingers. "We can only hope." And then she looked up, lifting her hands in mild surprise as we all realised as she had, that it had begun to rain.

Shaka smiled vaguely and moved to stand beside me. "Two years ago, it was raining too... on the night you and I..." He blushed slightly and gave me a humorous look.

"Ah yes..." I lifted my face upward and let the falling drops touch me. I let the rain soak me through and cleanse me, take me back to my past and into my future. I surrendered myself to what was to come and accepted my life, my past... and my love.

I had arrived here, close to 14 years ago, when I was only child. And during that time I was loved, hated, lifted, thrown and finally lifted again. I found my heart, I lost my heart... and found it again. I lived out an entire life of comings and goings... and I didn't regret it. Back then, I did not know this was what I would end up with, nor did I know how hard it would be to love. I just let myself go into my feelings and embraced them, embracing all that my life brought with the same passion. Because of that I was broken.

Because of that... I was, and would forever be unbroken.

As long as I trusted my feelings... as long as I had my feelings... I would survive.

I stared silently at the graves, and for the first time in days I felt real hope in my heart. Hope that things would change and I would be a part of it. And that somewhere, somehow... I would find Saga again.

And he would love me.

If Athena really existed, and hope was real... then perhaps heaven existed too. So someday, I would meet Saga and Camus again, in a world of happiness eternal.

(And you are...?)

Someday...

(Milo, sir)

For sure...

(Ah, Milo...)

If our lives could be engraved in stone, then perhaps our dreams could too.

(I shall remember that...)

Perhaps... our dreams could too.

The End


Toffeethinks:

And this is dedicated too...*drumroll* My lovely proofreaders who check my stuff and are there for me always! *huggles* Due to a frantic re-planning of the plotline I decided to end Unbroken here, and turn the sixth chapter into a separate fic so... yes, the show goes on. *grins* Thank you everyone for sticking around so long and cheering me through!


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