Chapter 1: Symmetry Unwinding
After the battle, came first the further search for survivors.
The destruction of the Pope’s hall was not something that could just be left alone. Saintias, servants and foot soldiers that could have easily been caught up in the destruction. And so, as soon as it was clear that Saga no longer posed a threat, the remaining saints gathered themselves. They all stood in the shadow of the Pope’s hall, a massive suspended structure that seemed like an endless tower from the ground level. Just beyond, on the ground as they were, stood the Grand Colosseum. Milo’s eyes fixed there, as she began to formulate what their next plans would be.
The surviving Gold Saints immediately returned to Athena’s side. Seiya, who had exhausted himself after using the Sagittarius cloth was now being supported by his comrades.
Saori, having been freed from Saga’s control stood tall among them. As the gold saints approached, she turned to meet them, faltering for only a moment before standing strong. The light of the goddess had fully awakened in her, and now the Sanctuary could begin to heal.
”My Lady,” Milo, at the head of the group bowed her head to Athena. “If you would allow me to take command from here. I will make sure that you and your friends are safe but—” She paused, glancing towards the heavily damaged Sanctum and the carnage around them. “There are many others here in the sanctuary who are now in danger.”
Saori nodded solemnly. “And please, if I can help at all,” she began, despite her constitution being still somewhat weak.
Milo shook her head. “Right now, my lady, our first priority is that you are cared for and can return to your full strength.”
Milo glanced behind where the bronze saints stood, where the barriers around the temples had fallen. She could see foot soldiers and trainees fleeing from the carnage in the distance. Much closer however, Milo saw two silver streaks of approaching saints. The two saints flickered into existence just behind where the bronze saints stood.
“Shaina, Mayura!” Milo said gratefully as they came into view. The chaos of the aftermath made distinguishing any one particular cosmo nearly impossible. Even for someone familiar to her, Milo hadn’t been able to pick out their Cosmos.
Pavo Mayura And Ophiuchus Shaina, two of the most distinguished silver saints. Their presence was comforting, but the fact that it was them two alone, was worrying.
Even with the chaos, Milo sensed Aiolia’s mood shift next to her. With a glance, she saw his fists clench and his posture collapse. Undoubtably, he had been hoping that one other particular silver saint would have been among them.
“Well met,” Milo greeted as the two women took in what was before them. Among the tumult, one thing was clear to everyone int he sanctuary, that Athena had indeed returned.
Without hesitation Mayura knelt before Athena and Shaina showed her respects as well.
”My Lady,” Mayura said, her straw-blonde hair dyed with the red glow of the flames. “I am Pavo Mayura, captain of the Saintias; those sworn to protect and serve you.”
Shaina bowed her head again. “I am Ophiuchus Shaina, head healer.”
Saori smiled. “I...I am pleased to meet you both,” she said, looking quite genuinely thrilled.
Mayura then got to her feet, and took in the bronze saints around her. “It appears that you have been protected diligently by these bronze saints. But I must ask that you entrust Saori to me now.”
Seiya was unable to protest, Shun, who held him gazed back but didn’t say anything. As protective as they were of the goddess, they had no control over her.
Saori now spoke with Mayura and was ready to trust her as was imperative. Milo was beyond grateful that there was now one less thing for her to worry about.
Milo turned back to address the gold saints, her eyes meeting Shaina’s for a brief but significant moment. Later, there would be time to reconnect with loved ones; but for now, Milo needed to focus on saving as many from the wreckage as possible.
“We have no time to waste,” she barked, quickly running through everything that needed to be done in her mind. “We need to start transporting people to the infirmary in accordance to their need,” she said. “Anyone who is found, bring them first to the Colosseum. From there, ascertain their injuries and begin transporting them to the infirmary.” Milo then pointedly nodded to Shaina. “The Healer, obviously will head this effort,” she then turned back to the saints. “Aldebaran, Mu, Shura,”
The three responded in acknowledgement of her address.
”You three begin a sweep of the lower levels and the area around Athena’s Sanctum,” she glanced once again at the devastated building. “Undoubtedly, the saintias would have made efforts to escape once the carnage began. Take any able-bodied solider you find to help you.”
The three saints nodded. Milo then continued. ”Shaka, I need you to resume the Sanctuary's defenses. Make sure that we are not left vulnerable.
Milo paced down the line of the saints until she came to a stop in front of the last one to be addressed. Unlike the others, Aiolia wasn’t looking at Milo. His eyes were downcast, his face clouded and his posture dejected. “Aiolia,” although she tried to hide it, an unmistakable tinge of warmth entered her voice. “You come with me. We are searching the interior of the Sanctum.”
Aiolia gave a weak nod in reply, still not looking at her.
“That is all,” Milo nodded to the others and they proceeded to disperse.
Shaina then moved towards the bronze saints, them all being injured made them her top priority. Milo trusted that Mayura and Shaina would handle things there and so she focused her attention on Aiolia.
”Come with me,” Milo beckoned, taking steps towards the Sanctum. Aiolia followed, still not speaking as they navigated the wreckage, hopping between suspended bridge fragments until they arrived at the grand entrance. They were out of earshot of the others, but still within their field of view. "Aiolia," Milo said smoothly. "I will check the back rooms for Saintia stragglers." Milo made sure to keep her true concerns hidden with a smirk. "I would like you to check out the throne room."
Aiolia met Milo's gaze blankly, used to Milo's methods by now. But he had no reason to disobey her. He, like Milo, only had a hunch to go on.
”You’re thinking the same thing as well...” he said weakly.
“The last you heard, Marin was summoned by the pope, yes?”
Aiolia nodded. “Over two weeks ago now.”
“If she’s anywhere, she must be here,” Milo stated. Though it was likely, it was no less comforting. Saga’s unbridled power had destroyed huge sections of the sanctum, as well as vast swathes of the ground below.
Milo scoped out the damage, looking for the best route in. “I will go up and enter through the roof,” she continued, Aiolia only nodding vaguely.
“Milo I...” Aiolia paused. “I can’t sense her.”
Milo gave him a grave look. “I can barely even pick out your cosmo amongst this chaos, and you are right here.”
Aiolia glanced at Milo somewhat sheepishly. Milo gave him a small flash of a smile.
Milo then reaches out a hand and placed it on Aiolia’s shoulder "I promise you, Aiolia, if she's here, we will find her."
“I know,” Aiolia barely managed to speak, remaining in place as Milo leapt up to the roof as she had dictated.
Milo made haste over the pope’s hall, dodging past crumbled spires until she arrived at the rear section of the building. The pope’s audience chamber and throne room was the front-facing part of the building. Behind the sacred veil was where Athena traditionally resided. While Saga had kept up his charade for 16 years, he had been unable to fool the Saintias.
Up until this day, the rear section; Athena’s sanctum had been sealed by a tight barrier, ostensibly the Goddess’ protection. But given that it was now gone along with Saga’s cosmo; it appeared that it had simply been him all along. Milo then swiftly broke open a weak section of the roof directly over the main hallway in the Goddess’ chambers.
Milo landed gracefully on cracked marble floors, looking around the abandoned hallway before proceeding. These halls, once being a place of light and growth for the goddess and her devoted Saintias; had in recent years become a twisted, cruel place. In particular, Milo had learned through whispers of one sinister room in particular. Milo, in her closeness to the saintias, in particular, learned of what became of the old recreation room. A large, ornate chamber in the right wing, once filled with music and laughter, had been converted into a kind of holding cell.
Without an Athena to serve, those Saintias had to be kept in line one way or another.
Milo stood before the large gilded doors at the end of the hallway. Like the sanctum itself, this door now laid unprotected, and Milo was able to enter easily. The room was dark and hard to navigate at first, but Milo sensed a distinct pulse of light that she followed. And at the back of the room, strung up in shackles on a macabre cross-shaped slab; was Marin.
Milo lurched forward and immediately severed the shackles, causing Marin's limp body to fall into her waiting arms. Milo gently laid the female saint down on the ground, flaring up her Cosmo to get a better look at her. It was Marin for sure, but at first glance, one might think otherwise. She was dressed in a white chiton held in place with a gold corset, as well as numerous gold rings and chains. On her head was a long purple wig, a golden headdress, and a silver holographic mask.
Milo removed the mask and discarded the wig, bracing Marin's head with one of her arms. Milo then retracted the armour on her right hand and reached out a hand to touch Marin's face.
She was certainly alive, but deeply unconscious.
Milo then took Marin into her arms and removed her from that cursed chamber. Milo walked down the hallway to the complete opposite edge to a bedroom near the general storeroom. Milo laid Marin down on the bed and examined her further. She was covered in various light wounds and bruises, nothing serious, thankfully. At the very least, it would deeply distress Aiolia to see her in such a state, that much was certain.
Milo knelt at Marin's bedside, uncovering both of her hands and placing them both on Marin’s skin. Milo concentrated, using a technique that Shaina had taught her to try and rouse her to waking. Soft gold light glowed on Milo's palms, the warmth flowing throughout Marin's body, stimulating her senses to bring her back into waking. Marin's red eyes then shot open, her mouth flying open in a gasp. Marin lurched forward, sitting up on the bed and breathing heavily, her eyes wide as she struggled to regain her breath.
Milo kept close, supporting Marin with one hand on her back, leaving the other free. "Marin, it's me," she said, placing a hand on Marin's chin. "It's me, Milo. Can you speak? Do you know who I am?"
Marin nodded slowly, continuing to breathe heavily, but her eyes showed the spark of recognition.
Milo let out a relieved sigh. "You're okay now, you're safe," Milo soothed. "Just talk when you're ready."
"Is he…did Saga?"
"Saga is defeated. That's all you need to know now."
"Aiolia is alive and safe, Shaina is too," Milo kept her gaze and hands firm and steady. "And not just that but…Seiya, your brother has finally come to Sanctuary."
Marin's eyes widened again. Perhaps it was too much information at once, but she would learn sooner or later.
"Marin, just wait here a moment," Milo said. "Will you be okay?"
Marin nodded. "Yeah I'm…confused but. I'm alive, and it looks like all my limbs are still attached."
Milo smiled, happy to see Marin's personality start to return. "I am going to find your cloth. We cannot allow Aiolia to see you like that."
Milo then left the room, leaving Marin on her own for a few moments. Marin took that opportunity to look down at herself. She was all in one piece, all her fingers and toes worked, but she was rather roughed up. The dress she wore that was already quite revealing had been torn in several places. She wasn't wearing any undergarments either, but that might have been a personal choice on Marin's part.
Marin started removing what other parts of the costume she could stand to remove. She took out the earrings and slid off the bracelets and leg wraps. She checked everywhere else and then ran a hand over her bellybutton. She let out a sigh of relief as her fingers brushed over a familiar jewelled piercing her navel. Saga had taken a lot of things from her, but at least he hadn't taken that away.
Milo then returned, holding in her hand the Aquila cloth dog tag. Marin turned towards her and swung her legs over the edge of the bed to stand up.
Milo's wanted to stop her but figured it would be pointless. She placed the dog tag on the ground, and Marin stepped forward into the flurry of her cloth's cosmo. Within a few moments, Marin was embraced in the familiar metal of her cloth, and Milo could see her mood immediately shift and improve.
"How do you feel?"
"Much better," Marin replied with a smirk. The bodysuit of her cloth hid the dress and covered up most of her wounds, but scratches on her arms and neck were still partially visible.
"I had Aiolia sweep the throne room. Let's go meet him."
Marin gave a relieved sigh and stepped over to Milo's side, leaning into her for support. Milo braced Marin with one arm and lead her out towards the entrance hall.
Aiolia knew that Milo was trying to mitigate his possible responses. He knew that he knew it was for his own good, but it still saddened him. Being kept from the truth was far worse than learning a terrible reality. If he knew, at least he could rule out all the other possibilities. Unfortunately, in the months leading up to the battle, his relationship with Marin had become much more full of unknowns even than before.
Aiolia first met Marin 13 years ago. Marin bein 4 years older than him, she had been someone that he quite looked up to. Marin was in training as a candidate for the Pisces cloth as it was her sign. Although Marin did not get the gold cloth, she was close with her fellow Pisces, Aphrodite.
Marin, undoubtedly would also be devastated to learn of Aphrodite's fate. Aiolia himself was already struggling to bite down the bitter pain of seeing his dear friend tossed broken at his very feet. Aiolia had already suffered the loss of his brother, despite that, he had been not any more ready to face another loss.
Aiolia paced around the throne room, checking wreckage and searching each of the side rooms. It was unlikely, but it was his duty to search for any stragglers. He was perhaps being more thorough than absolutely necessary, but he knew why Milo made him search here. Milo wanted to bide time while she searched the Saintia residences and the holding cell.
Marin, in recent years, had begun reporting directly to the pope more and more often. While at first glance, one might assume that it was because of her undeniable skill and reliability; but over time that became a far less likely reason. If Marin had been sent on admirable, glamorous missions, she would have been able to tell him all about her exploits.
Often after Marin returned from her missions, she would fall into Aiolia’s arms and they would share in what they had missed each other. Normally, when she had been working with Milo or Shura, Marin would come back full of energy, telling him about every detail of her latest missions. Her face lighting up as her cheek was pressed against Aiolia’s chest, still slick with sweat from the night before. Aiolia loved that Marin the best. The Marin that he loved was always full of life.
But on the mornings when she returned from a mission from the pope, the two of them hardly even shared a word.
Aiolia was about done biding as much time as he could when he heard approaching footsteps from the back chambers behind the throne itself. Aiolia couldn't help himself but bound forward, his face filling with unbridled emotion when he saw that Milo had indeed not returned alone.
"Marin!" Aiolia shouted, his heavy footfalls ringing out until he skidded to a halt in front of them. He gave a thankful glance to Milo before all but lifting Marin off of the ground into a deep embrace. "Thank gods you're safe! You're alive!"
The armour they both wore got in the way, but the warmth was clearly felt between them. Marin let out a loud bubbling laugh and patted Aiolia's back before pulling away. "We will have plenty of time for that later, let's just get out of this hellhole first."
"Of course," Aiolia said. "You appear to still be weak, shall I carry you?"
Milo smirked and walked out past them. "Please do try to keep yourselves contained while still in public, alright?."
Aiolia grunted, ignoring her while Marin leaned into Aiolia again.
"You expect me to turn down an offer like that?” Marin replied. “Now is definitely the one time I'm okay with being the frail maiden."
Aiolia smiled and pulled Marin into a bridal-style carry before turning back around towards the entrance.
Milo blasted open the collapsed entryway, and Aiolia followed Milo out onto the steps leading down to where the others would soon gather. They made their way into the Colloseum where people were being gathered before being taken to the Infirmary.
Marin looked around, seeing groups of injured soldiers in various levels of mobility, all the way to the ominous line of corpses near the far wall. Marin felt Aiolia's grip tighten around her, and she held on to him a little tighter in response.
"I suppose, you should know sooner than later."
At the line of bodies, closest to them was a body clad in gold and mauve, their sky-blue curls splaying out from under the cracked gold helm.
"Dite!" Marin cried, starting to shift in Aiolia's arms. Aiolia let her down once they were close enough. Marin crawled towards the body of her friend, her body desperate and almost animalistic.
Aiolia knelt behind her, looking on solemnly, his fists clenching. "I'm sorry Marin, nothing could be done."
"No Aiolia, you don't understand," Marin sobbed. "I'm the reason Aphrodite is dead!" After she said that, her eyes suddenly widened and her lips snapped shut as if she had said too much.
Aiolia's brows furrowed. Again, he saw her face cloud as she ran up against the wall of what he was allowed to know. Once again, Aiolia felt that pain throb deep in his chest. The feeling that Marin's as hiding something from him; the idea that Marin was suffering in a way that Aiolia was powerless to mitigate. The anger and bitterness threatened to grow inside him but was only held back by the sheer amount of pain that Marin was in.
Aiolia moved closer to her and placed a hand on her back. Marin was kneeling with Aphrodite's head pulled into her lap, her shoulders shaking as she sobbed.
Other saints and soldiers were moving the injured out one by one; even as the rescue party brought back more and more.
Milo greeted the most recent rescue party. Shura had returned with several Saintias in tow, four of whom were standing and two need to be assisted.
By Shura's side was a young redhead, her cloth somewhat battered but she was otherwise ambulatory.
Milo was obviously relieved that the Saintias were all alive and accounted for. But her main concern, that for Aiolia's emotional state was still troubling her deeply.
Milo greeted the Saintias and checked on their condition. Kyouko had exerted herself greatly during the escape and was now being carried by Elda. Katya had been one who fought at the vanguard against the monstrous plight and had sustained several moderate injuries to the point that she was limping. Otherwise, Shouko, Mii, And Xiaoling-Ling had sustained minor injuries. Milo then turned, giving Shura a furtive glance as she finished.
"Shura, be a dear and go check on Aiolia for me?"
Shura smirked and gave a deep bow. "As you wish, my lady."
A few giggles could be heard from the Saintias as Shura left, Milo turned back to face them.
"Lady Milo," Shouko asked, her eyes wide with curiosity. "Is something the matter?"
"Not exactly," Milo said, giving her pupil a firm look. "However, I do have something that I need to ask of you."
Shura made his way over to where Aiolia and Marin sat. His expression was grave as he saw how obviously the two of them had been affected by Aphrodite's death.
"Marin," Shura said in greeting, drawing both of their attention and distracting them for a moment. Marin looked up at him and Aiolia shifted his attention as well. "I am thrilled to see that you made it out safely."
"Yeah," Marin replied, not meeting his eyes.
Aiolia was able to force a bit more composure and entertain Shura for that moment. "All the Saintias were accounted for?"
"Yes, Miraculously. Kyouko executed a flawless evacuation long before things got bad." Shura's face then fell for a moment. "But they did mention, Marin that you were not among them, and so they too will be thrilled to know that you are safe."
Marin glanced over, not really in the mood to talk with anyone else. Aiolia, noticing her reservations leaned forward shouldering his way between her and Shura.
"Marin," he said softly. "Let's go now,"
Marin seemed reluctant but she pulled herself away from Dite's body. "Aiolia…I think he's still alive."
Aiolia and Shura both reacted accordingly with shock tinged still be grief.
"I can…I can feel something. just barely."
Shura then lurched forward, taking Dite abruptly into his arms. "In that case, we have no time to waste. I will take Dite to the Infirmary along with the Saintias."
Marin's face showed a small spark of hope. "Oh, thank you, Shura."
He nodded and then turned to smirk at Aiolia. "I will leave Marin to you, I trust you will be able to take care of her the best."
Aiolia's face flushed slightly, and Marin gave the barest of a breathy laugh.
Shura had hoped as much and was glad even for the smallest of result. "Very well then, I will take my leave."
Shura left with Dite in his arms. And as he met back up with the Saintias, Aiolia grabbed Marin's hand and lead her back out of the far entrance of the Colosseum
Chapter 2: Identical Skin
They knew they would both have to go to the infirmary soon, but they first returned to the Leo residence, a place that thankfully held mostly positive memories for marin, even if that fact had now changed for Aiolia. They continued to walk with Marin leaning on Aiolia for support until they made their way to Aiolia’s bedchamber.
Once they were in his bedroom, Aiolia led Marin to sit down on his bed. He then turned away and removed his helmet while the rest of the cloth quickly left him. Marin watched, always having loved his cute little quirks; like how he shook his hair back into place and made sure to adjust his necklace.
The cloth reassembled itself into its lion totem form at his feed, Aiolia tossed the helmet with a small grin on his face. Leo jumped and reclaimed his head to become complete. The cloth then bounded over to greet Marin, just like an excited animal greeting their masters.
Marin reached out a hand to give Leo a pat a smile gracing her lips as well. Marin pressed the latch at her neck to assemble her helmet before taking it off and giving it to Leo to hold on to. She then released the rest of the cloth, and Aquila formed behind the helmet, right in position for an affectionate nuzzle with their friend. Aquila then gave a mechanical squak before climbing into their favorite spot perched on Leo’s back. Leo then bounded away, tail swinging behind them. Aiolia then closed the door, the two of them now finally alone, just dressed in their skintight bodysuits.
Usually, whenever Marin had been away on a mission, the two of them would fall immediately into one another’s arms, more likely than not making love as soon as they could. But this time was different for multiple reasons. Not only their mutual state of physical exhaustion, but the building feeling that Marin hasn’t been totally honest with Aiolia. It was everything that Aiolia could do, to keep that doubt from turning into distrust.
Aiolia then joined Marin on the bed, leading her to lie down with him. Aiolia pulled Marin close into his chest and kissed her forehead while letting out a deep sigh. Marin in turn tangled her legs up with his and snuck a kiss on his lips.
Aiolia laughed and drew his hands down her back, pulling her closer and sighing when her face met his clavicle. Just a moment to rest, the two of them. Aiolia had no desire to push her, he would wait as long as she needed.
Marin traced one of her hands down Aiolia’s chest, his large breasts and firm muscles still clearly felt through the bodysuit material. She cheekily brushed a thumb over one of his nipples, causing his breath to catch in his throat. She then dragged her hand down to his stomach, feeling for his navel with her fingertips. There, even through the study fabric, Marin could feel the small metallic bulge of his naval piercing. Without seeing it she knew it was a silver post with an aquamarine. Aiolia reached out his hand and felt her stomach too, where there was a gold post adorned with a peridot.
It was their connection, their promise, hidden where no one else could see, no one else needed to see; they had nothing to prove. It was a reminder, something that they had of one another even while they were apart.
Some of Aiolia’s piercings proved irritating to Marin, especially the one on his lip, but it was something of his that he was passionate about. Despite that, getting the piercing had been Marin’s idea. Aiolia in a million years would never ask her to “wound” her own body like that. But it had been a time where they wanted to solidify their relationship. Aiolia gave Marin a gift of a Peridot, his birthstone, and marin suggested that it be made into a pericing that she could wear. Aiolia only agreed when she suggested Aiolia get one as well.
The piercings were a part of Aiolia. They were just as much a part of his personality and expressions as everything else. Coming back to Aiolia’s chamber, she would find his lip and tongue piercings removed and sitting on a tray near the entryway. It was as strong of an invitation as a direct proposition.
It was those things between them that made their relationship thrive. The little rituals, the signs and messages; the things left unsaid but still so loudly heard.
Aiolia pulled his face closer, his hand tracing down her arms. “Marin,” he said darkly. “How did you get these injuries?”
Marin paused, not able to answer immediately.
Aiolia let out a hiss, his hand closing into a fist over her hip. Aiolia then suddenly pulled back from her and sitting back up on the bed.
“Aiolia—” Marin asked, sitting up with him and staring at his back.
“Those wounds…” Aiolia said. “They don’t look like something you would have gotten from the derbris,” he turned back to look at her, his eyes almost cold. “I want you to be fully honest with me.”
Marin looked down, her hands curling close to her chest. “Okay, I’ll show you.” Marin then sat up, her hand moving to the latch at her neck. But before she could start undressing, Aiolia’s hand darted out to stop her.
“Wait,” he said. “If you’re gonna strip, I can’t—” Even if the initial context wasn’t explicitly sexual, Aiolia was stubborn in that way; his honor wouldn’t permit Marin to ever be less clothed than he was.
Marin nodded and let her hand fall away.
“Thank you,” Aiolia gave her a peck on the cheek and then stood up from the bed.
Aiolia turned around, with his rear facing her. It was habit, and it was going to be at least a little titilating regardless. Aiolia sighed, reaching up to his neck to press the release clasp on his bodysuit. The neck line then uncoiled, and the system of mechanical clasps rippled until they came apart, revealing Aiolia’s back all the way down to his firm ass. Marin took that moment to absorb with her eyes every inch of Aiolia’s beauty. A little consolation for the pain that was sure to come. Aiolia then turned around to face her, letting his body suit fall comepletely to the ground.
Marin couldn’t help but let out a smirk, the aquamarine on his naval glinted in the light and he was completely exposed to her. But this particular indulgence was doomed to be short lived, as Marin was now to be completely honest with Aiolia.
It was always a delicate balancing act between them. Marin knew how sensitive Aiolia was, and so tried to hide her suffering, but if he found out, Aiolia would only be hurt even more.
“Aiolia, please…do you best not to jump to the worst conclusions, okay?” Marin said, standing up and walking over to join aiolia where he stood. Marin looked up at Aiolia and then released her necklatch, the bodysuit falling away, revealing the tattered Athena dress she still wore underneath.
Aiolia’s expression grew grave, his eyes widening as he took in the extent of the damage. Not only on her arms, but on her chest, stomach and thighs, were unmistakable welts from a whip, and very recent. She simply hadn’t had the time to heal as she usually did, given the chaos and her exhausted state.
Aiolia’s hands suddenly went to her waist where a large chunk of her skirt had been torn away, revealing part of her abdomen and her upper thigh. Without thinking, Aiolia pushed the skirt away, searching for god only knows what. He knew enough that sexual assault wouldn’t have many distinctive markings, but it was what his anxiety jumped to.
“Aiolia!” Marin snapped, pushing his hands away out of reflex.
Marin’s flash of emotion startled Aiolia. Never before had his hands been pushed away from by Marin so wildly. Marin’s eyes were wide, an unfamiliar emotion now on her face. Aiolia’s gaze however, was then drawn to something else entirely.
On Marin’s neck, seemingly having appeared out of nowhere, was a violet glyph that spread around her neck. Not only was it similar to the glyph that had drained Saori of her power, but it reminded Aiolia of something much darker. Marin however, kept talking without seeming to notice. “I didn’t get raped or anything! I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have asked you to…I know you can’t—”
The mark on her neck then disappeared, Aiolia now being forced to face her directly. “How do you know for sure, you were unconscious,” Aiolia by no means was worried about some sort of infidelity or perceived sullying of his bride; instead he deathly feared how Marin might have been tormented or abused. It was those kinds of dark thoughts that bloomed in his mind no matter what. On top of the fact, that Marin had clearly been subjugated to Saga’s techniques.
“Believe me, I would know,” Marin said, grabbing his hands and meeting his eyes. “Look, I’ve had a lot of things inside me by now. I know what it feels like when it was something unwanted—” she paused. “Shit no that’s not—” she decided to come totally clean. “Look, I mean like when Shaina once shoved a vibrator in too fast when I wasn’t ready. Stuff like that! Trust me, I’d know, and I wouldn’t keep it from you.”
Aiolia’s face was was hard, while his eyes still held the fear and pain she knew he was about to drown in.
Marin sighed. “Okay, I’ll admit, I can’t be completely sure something didn’t happen while I was asleep. But I promise you, that if I knew something happened to me, I wouldn't hide it from you. I couldn’t, I love you too much to hide any more from you.”
Aiolia was relieved, but didn’t miss the admission. “What have you been hiding from me then?” Aiolia asked, his tone dead but still devoid of accusation.
“Well…” she gestured to the dress. “All this.”
“You were the one, posing as Athena?”
“Yeah, and obviously not by choice,” Marin said, letting out a long breath. “I couldn’t tell you. If I did, and Saga somehow found out—”
“I know…I’m sorry,” Aiolia said, his expression breaking into one of deep sadness. “I’m sorry for getting angry. I’m so sorry…” He glanced down, his hands clenching at his sides. Marin grabbed both his hands and looked up with him.
“I don’t have anything to hide anymore, I promise, I’ll tell you everything.”
Aiolia looked back down at her, his eyes starting to grow misty.
Marin pushed herself up onto the balls of her feet and kissed him, resting her hands on his fuzzy and firm chest. She pressed her lips against his, her body pressing flush with his. Aiolia let out a low moan, his hands clamping down around her back in desperation.
Aiolia was hungry for her, he needed her desperately; that much was clear. Marin wanted him too. She knew now wasn’t the time, she knew that this wouldn’t fix anything, but she still let her desires pull her along.
Marin pursed her lips in invitation and Aiolia didn’t waste a single moment before plunging in for a deeper kiss. He let out a grunt deep in his throat, his hands falling down to rest on her waist
Marin then tried to thrust her tongue back into Aiolia’s mouth in response, but found that Lia recoiled instead. Marin didn’t expect that, and was a bit taken aback. She blinked, watching lia’s expressing darken as he pulled back in a moment of raw reaction.
Aiolia didn’t meet her gaze, but kept his hands resting on her waist. “Sorry, Marin, just….”
Marin watched him closely, her eyes raking over his face where she noticed something odd.
The corners of Aiolia’s mouth were red, the skin cracked, like his mouth had been forced open and something shoved inside. Marin frowned, running her thumb over Lia’s lower lip.
Aiolia clearly was hiding something too, and even more clear was that there was no way that they could go any further that night.
“Aiolia, lets stop,” she said. “We both need to rest, anyway.”
Aiolia relented, pulling himself back while not meeting her eyes.
Aiolia then guided her to sit down on the bed and went away to grab some new clothes for them. He procured a light blue chiton that marin often wore, it shimmered slightly and had a vibrant yellow sash. Aiolia also grabbed a tunic for himself and returned to the bed.
Without needing to speak, marin lifted her arms above her head and let aiolia drape the garment over her body. He tied the sash for her and pulled everything into place before dressing himself.
“Aiolia—” Marin began, her heart swelling with emotion, about to burst.
“Marin,” Aiolia replied, his posture relaxing as his yearning to be close to her started to overpower him;
At that moment, the door burst open suddenly, their two cloths bounding in. They would never do anything so unexpected without a good reason.
“Leo, what is it?” Aiolia asked. Leo ran around in a circle, Aquila flapping into the air with a displeased squak.
Aiolia then turned to marin. “It would appear that we have company.”
Shouko stood at the door of the Leo residence, along with two of her fellow saintias. Shouko’s hand was hovering on the door, hesitation having stopped her in her tracks.
Elda, who stood just behind her, leaned over giving Shouko a perplexed look. “Since Milo asked you specifically, you said you wanted to do it but…”
Elda paused, looking slowly from the frozen Shouko to the taciturn Mii who stood by Elda’s side.
Elda let out an exasperated sigh. “Move over, I’ll do it.”
“No wait—” Shouko jerked foreward but Elda had already grabbed the door knocker and and struck three times.
“Look, now was that so hard?” Elda replied.
“But!! Milo said that—”
Mii then spoke up. “Milo said that we were to bring them to the Infirmary before nightfall, that was her command.”
“We aren’t gonna barge in on them, they have plenty of time to get themselves decent before coming.”
“But…what if they…don’t want to come?”
Elda raised an eyebrow. “All we have to do is say Milo sent us. Plus Shaina is their friend, I’m sure they will come no problem.”
Shouko was not usually this nervous, but Marin was a trusted mentor of hers. And truth be told, she had, on more than one occasion, accidentally walked in on Marin and Aiolia in rather compromising positions.
Before Shouko could fret any further, the door suddenly creaked open slightly. Peering inside, they didn’t see anything at first, until they glanced down where they were surprised to see two cloth totems staring up at them. Before they could do anything else, Leo and Aquila darted off, most likely in the direction of their masters. “Hey wait!” Shouko called, stumbling inside the door as she called after them.
Elda chuckled, “well, if I were to venture a guess those cloths are gonna get their masters for us.” Elda strode in further to the residence like she owned the place, plopping down on one of the couches, Mii however remained still at Shouko’s side.
“It’s fine, honestly Shouko you’ve been so uptight, just come sit down with me.” Shouko didn’t have a chance to reply before they heard the sharp clattering of Leo from behind them.
Turning around, they saw Leo bounding foreward, Aquila flying just above, and behind them, emerged Marin and Aiolia.
Shouko was silent, Elda looked bemused, and so Mii cut to the chase. “Please pardon our intrusion, but we were instructed by Milo to ensure that you two checked in with the Healer before night fell.”
Aiolia and Marin looked quite far from their usual selves. Shouko, like everyone else, hadn’t seen Marin in weeks and was having trouble containing herself.
“Shouko, you can go ahead and greet marin.”
Shouko then burst foreward, shedding every ounce of what little saintialy decorum she had. She ran up to marin and hugged her without holding back. Despite the tense atmosphere between them Aiolia smiled warmly at Shouko’s display. He then glanced back at Mii, taking a step towards her. “Thank you for reminding us, I appreciate you taking time out of your duties for such a trivial matter.”
“No need to thank us, it’s all a part of our job,” Mii replied. “Clearly we are not so overwhelmed as to not be able to spare three of our number for this task.”
Elda spoke up from where she lounged not he couch. “Actually, this was Shouko’s task alone, but she was to shy to do it on her own, so I decided to tag along!”
The corner of Mii’s mouth twitched. “And that forced me to come along to supervise you both.”
Elda gave a cheeky grin, Shouko however, was still clinging to Marin, tears all but streaming down her face.
Marin patted Shouko gently on the back before pushing her back. “There there Shouko. I’m fine, I’m back,” she gave Shouko an affectionate pat not he head. Shouko sniffed, but at least seemed to have largely calmed down.
Shouko wasn’t that much younger, but still younger than most at 20. And partially because of that, she definitely looked up to Marin like an older sister. And for a variety of reasons, Marin couldn’t help but noticed how closely she resembled her own brother.
“Well then,” Aiolia said. “If you want, I can go on ahead and let you two catch up.” Aiolia said.
Marin was about to interject when Mii intervened. “Elda and I will join you on the way back then.”
Aiolia paused but didn’t look like he was about to resist. Because in truth, the last thing he wanted was to be alone at that very moment. “That is very kind of you, I would appreciate it.” Aiolia glanced back towards Marin, not about to show her any overt affection in front of the Saintias; but as he turned around, his hand very deliberately passed lingeringly over his own stomach.
Marin cracked a small grin, resting her hand on her naval in a brief reply. Aiolia then bid his goodbyes and exited his residence with Elda and Mii following him quite closely.
The Infirmary was a circular building, behind Athena’s sanctum in the shadow of Star Hill. The building itself resembled a spire, with the patient in rooms at the top. A lift took visitors from the ground floor to the main rooms.
The five of them entered the building, taking the lift up to the receiving area. The three saintias went ahead, undoubtedly back to their duties.
The door to the inner infirmary opened, and standing before them was Shaina. Like them, she didn’t wear her cloth and was standing in her body-suit alone. Shaina, despite always priding herself on professional composure, immediacy lost control when seeing Marin face to face.
Shaina lurched forward, throwing her arms around Marin with a sudden wail.
“There there, I’m fine.”
Shaina grimaced and pulled back to give Marin a scowl. “Milo told me what happened! Told me about how—” She paused.
“It’s okay, Aiolia knows now too.”
Shaina nodded. “Well, you’re safe now, and the worst is over.”
Shaina then glanced to where Aiolia stood. He had started to feel a bit unneeded and was fidgeting slightly. “I’m glad you’re here. I want you to be examined as well.”
“Ah there’s no need—”
Shaina gave Aiolia a firm look and he relented immediately.
“There’s a lot of people here needing my help as you might assume,” Shaina said. “But there’s still room for you.”
Shaina then lead the two of them inside, the infirmary door sliding shut behind them.
The room they entered was the general medical room, for intake and observation. There was another lift in the center of the room that lead up to the circular in-patient facility. The technology that surrounded them, after all, all had it’s origins in their connections to the very cosmos itself. And so the infirmary was built around that.
The life-support and rehabilitation machines used on patients were all controlled and operated on this level.
But for Aiolia and Marin both, there was still something on this floor that interested them.
After entering, Mii had walked dutifully across the room back to her post. There on the far wall, behind the lift was where the critical-condition units were. Without a second thought, Aiolia and Marin immediately linked their hands as they approached. Two of the tubes were currently occupied; the one that Mii currently attended to contained the body of Owl Kyouko. In her efforts to make sure Athena’s sanctum had been safety evacuated; she had greatly exhausted her cosmo to the point that her life had become in danger. Aiolia and Marin both looked at Kyoko who had also been a dear friend, but her vitals were strong and good. There was no doubt that they would be able to talk to her again soon.
The tube directly to her right however had the more immediately dire occupant. Aphrodite, their body only barely clinging to life, as still and silent as they had been on the floor of the Pisces temple. Marin walked forward and placed a hand against the outer glass, her expression unreadable.
Mii stood there, holding a glowing tablet in her hand. “Upon observation, he appeared to still have very faint vital signs, and so it was decided that Resuscitation could be attempted.”
Aiolia nodded grimly, his fingers locked tightly around Marin’s. It was intensely embarrassing for him to show affection so openly, but this was the time where the need outweighed such things.
Despite her generally collected attitude, it was clear that Mii had also been affected, Aphrodite and Aiolia had been very friendly to her and the other saintias as well.
Aiolia gently squeezed her hand. “Marin, we best not linger here.”
“I know I just…” she grimaced. “I was there the whole time. I was there with Aphrodite, serving saga.”
“Marin, that doen’t make it your fault.”
“Aiolia you don’t get it. Aphrodite was there because of me.”
Marin then turned and gave Aiolia a despairing look. “Dite knew, he found out. He knew I was being held there. He came in order to try and get me out of there alive. And that’s—that’s why—”
Aiolia bit his lip, not knowing how he could reply in that moment.
“We all knew, all of the Saintias knew, obviously. But saga kept us controlled,” Mii said, her tone ice-cold. “We were helpless, only able to pray from a far for a goddess we had never met. If you are to blame, Marin, then we are all equally to blame.”
Marin met Mii’s gaze, her face hardening. “I don’t have a rebuttal to that…”
Aiolia then squeezed Mairn’s hand.
Aphrodite seemed to actually be barely stable, the displays around them showed signs of life, but very faint. Marin knew that there wasn’t much hope. Aiolia had also been quite close to aphrodite, and yet he was still doing his best to be strong for her.
“Marin,” Aiolia said. “We need to move on.”
Marin looked down, not meeting his eyes. “I know”
Aiolia reached over and covered Marin’s hand with his, taking that hand instead to lead her back to the central lift. Marin followed him, and they took the lift up the short ride to the top of the spire. The glass lift doors opened and they walked into the in-patient center. This room took full advantage of the spire’s circular structure, it being a ring of beds around the outer edge. The outer wall was completely transparent, the glittering stars able to be clearly viewed in all directions.
Shoko and Elda were among them, tending to the wounded as they could. Katya and Xiao-Ling were also there, the four of them all able to shed their various eccentricities in the face of such dire need without difficulty.
Many of the beds were filled, foot soldiers and other silver saints having sustained a variety of injuries. There was one bed open, rather large that Aiolia and Marin made their way to. Next to the bed was all 5 of the so called rebel's, the bronze saints. They had all been put into a restorative sleep most likely, as they had all sustained pretty severe damage during the fight. Marin went ahead and sat herself down, the empty bed being very continently right next to where Seiya himself was recovering. Aiolia sat down on the bed next to her, still holding her hand gently.
“Honestly, Aiolia, I was sure I was never going to see him again.” Marin said, her throat thickening. Aiolia certainly understood, how profound the pain of the loss of one’s family could be.
“He’s here now, so you should…”
“I know.” Marin replied, turning to look at Aiolia. “I should take this chance.”
“Marin I—I have something to tell you.” Aiolia said with great difficulty. “While you were gone, I—I also had a mission from Saga.”
Marin looked up at him, her face full of curiosity.
“I…I was sent to assinate the “rebel's” as they were called.”
“Yes, I was sent to kill Seiya and his friends.”
Marin could see that this had been causing him a lot of guilt, so she lifted her other hand to hold both of his in earnest. “I’m not gonna be mad about that, it was your orders. You probably didn’t even know that Seiya was among them.”
“Yeah…I know—but still,” Aiolia then suddenly tore one of his hands and rubbed his mouth rather nervously. “I also fought him…almost killed him—apparently.”
“I don’t remember it, but…” Aiolia grimaced. “After i went to Seiya and the others, I learned of Saori’s true identity, as athena.”
“And then I went to report this finding to the Pope,” he continued. “After that, my memory cuts out. And the next thing I remember—I was being stopped by Shaka.” Aiolia paused. “When I came to, Seiya was badly injured, and I allowed him to proceed to Scorpio.”
“None of that was your fault, Aiolia.”
“I know but…” Aiolia still couldn’t help but feel guilty. “I still feel like…I should have always believed in my brother.”
Marin lifted a hand to cup Aiolia’s face and met his eyes. Aiolia’s features filled with that feeling of regret, that pain that he always felt so strongly; finally starting to boil over.
Aiolia squeezed Marin’s hand and leaned his forehead in to rest against hers, a still rather bold display of affection. Marin stroked his cheek before pulling back, not wanting to possibly get carried away.
From behind them, Marin heard a stirring. Turning around, she saw that Seiya had started to wake up.
Marin bolted up from where she sat and went to Seiya’s bedside without thinking. Aiolia got up and followed her, kneeling down at her side.
His eyes opened slowly, and he seemed to not fully register what he was seeing. “Nee-san…Maa, ni do to aereba yokatta kedo sa…mata, yume miteiru yo na”
“Ittai nan no danshi ga neesan no yume miteru’n da? Kono onekon ‘me”
Seiya then shot up straight in bed his face completely filled with shock. “Neesan?! Maji de?”
Marin just replied with a cheeky grin.
Seiya was speechless for a few moments.
Aiolia stood up from the bed, giving Marin a very brief pat on her shoulder. “If you don’t mind, I’ll go ahead and leave you be. I’ll also see if I can just get my exam from shaina directly downstairs.”
Marin made a face like she wanted to stop him, but didn’t protest, her eyes only lingering after him for a bit.
Behind Seiya, Shun had begun to stir as well, undoubtedly the others would be waking too. It’s not like Marin even needed privacy. And so Marin worried about the real reason for Aiolia distancing himself.
She couldn’t blame him, he understandably felt awkward around the gold saints.
Seiya frowned. “I wanted to talk with Aiolia more…”
Marin turned back to Seiya, forcing her face into a casual expression. “Don’t worry, he will come around. He might not look it, but he’s actually quite sensitive.”
Shun from behind Seiya unabashedly joined the conversation. “No, he’s pretty obvious about that much,” he remarked “I just doubt that Seiya is sharp enough to catch on.”
Seiya whipped his head back towards Shun with a grimace, but didn’t launch any sort of reply. Obviously, his attention was drawn by his sister.
“Marin, why did you stop seeing me all of a sudden?” He asked, his face pure and honest.
Marin pressed her lips together. “I got caught,” she said, which was the simple enough answer. “I couldn’t risk the pope finding out where you were so…I’m sorry.”
Seiya’s eyebrows knit together briefly. “I mean, I get that you couldn’t help it but…” his fist clenched at his side.
“I know, it was like I was abandoning you a second time, huh.”
Marin, in all honesty didn’t much want to continue this conversation. Even if everything she had done had been for Seiya’s sake; in reality, she had given up her right to call him her brother. She had been gone for most of his life, even familial ties couldn’t withstand that kind of separation.
Marin withdrew, pulling herself back up to sit on her bed. “I just wanted to see that you were safe, that’s all.”
Seiya frowned. “Look, it hurt to feel abandoned but…you’re still my sister,”
Marin laughed. “Thanks,” her face was filled with bitterness. “Look I shouldn’t even be here, I—”
Marin was about to get up when a gloved hand suddenly made contact with her shoulder and pushed her back down.
Shaina had appeared in Marin’s blindspot and was standing on the other side of the bed from Seiya. Marin looked up at Shaina’s face with a sheepish grin.
“Don’t tell me you were thinking about skipping your examination?”
Marin waved her hands nervously. “No! No way of course not!”
Shaina then, rather forcefully placed a thermoreader right in her mouth, that shutting up Marin for good. “It’s time for your exam, so please, behave yourself.”
Shun found their dynamic rather entertaining, and Seiya found comfort in it. Even if he wasn’t the sharpest, he could at least tell that his sister had people here that loved and cared for her above all else.
Aiolia, had as he had promised returned to the lower level of the infirmary. He passed Shaina on the way up, that ruining the prospect of fulfilling that part of his request, but Shaina wasn’t the only one capable of clearing him to leave.
Back behind the central lift, near the critical care units, Mii had sat down at a small desk, pouring over data and vitals. Near her was a small station fit for examining anyone, not just those in critical condition.
Aiolia stood in front of her and cleared his throat gently.
Mii then looked up and gave him a cordial smile. “Ah, Aiolia, can I help you?”
“If you could, I would like you to perform a routine check-up, Shaina is quite busy after all.”
Mii stood up, leaving her data materials on the desk. She then gestured to the examination table next to her. “Of course! Please sit down, I won’t take long.”
“Thank you,” Aiolia said, nodding respectfully as he sat down as instructed.
Mii collected the tools that she needed and then returned to him, performing the routine checks to make sure all was in order.
The technology in sanctuary was incredibly advanced, but there were some things, especially around the intricacies of human health that required a personal touch.
Aiolia sat still as she checked his temperature, heart-rate and his breathing. He was scanned for wounds and broken bones.
“You have some micro-fractures in your metacarples,” she said, her fingers pressing over the bones of his hand one-by-one. “Something like this should heal easily.”
Mii paused before continuing. “I really hope that we werne’t interrupting you earlier, with Marin.”
“It’s alright really,” he said with a small attempt at a polite smile. “In all honesty, we probably needed that intervention.”
Mii raised an eyebrow. “Why is that, may I inquire?”
Aiolia hesitated for a moment, but thought to continue anyway. If there was anyone he could talk to about this, Mii was probably one of the best options. She was practical and measured; always taking her duties seriously, but she had never quite lost her kind heart. A quality that Aiolia quite admired in a person. “I assume that you were quite aware of the situation around…Athena.”
Mii nodded. “There was basically no other way, us saintias were compelled to help maintain the charade.”
“This whole time?”
Mii shook her head. “Not the whole time, obviously most of us were oblivious as trainees. We were all selected just before Saori’s birth, we were meant to serve and grow alongside her,” Mii pressed her lips together. “But also on that night, we lost not only our goddess, but also our leader.”
Aiolia gave her a rather serious look.
“Olivia, the Owl, the saintia’s leader and the guide to Athena. Her life was also lost that night.”
“May I ask, what happened?”
Mii gave a small smile. “As I have been told, she assisted Aiolos in allowing Athena to escape the sanctuary.”
Aiolia’s eyes widened and he let out a short gasp. “It is a saintia’s duty to give their life for Athena,” Mii said. “It is my understanding, that Olivia sacrificed her body and soul to allow Aiolos and Athena to escape.”
Aiolia bit his lip, the mention of his brother always being somewhat difficult for him.
Mii paused before continuing. “I apologize, I only know the story from the story passed down to me.”
“It’s alright, I thank you.” Aiolia forced himself to smile politely again. “I just…there was so much that I was oblivious too, I was so blind.” Aiolia, despite having been so closely raised with Shouko and Kyouko, hadn’t even known such a drastic fact about their own mother.
“You, as I was, were only a child then,” Mii said firmly. “You have no responsibility for anything that happened.”
While that had been true initially, as Aiolia had grown up, he had only continued to be complicit all the way up to nearly killing the true Athena himself. Aiolia didn’t respond, his eyes looking down and away.
“If you don’t mind my prying,” Mii said. “I seem to have gotten a little off the original topic. You wanted to ask about Marin, didn’t you?”
Aiolia started, his expression softening as he glanced back at Mii. “Ah, yes. I suppose that part was obvious.”
“Please, if I can help in any way…”
Aiolia didn’t have much more that he wanted to ask, he knew everything he needed to know. “Actually, I have more of a personal concern,” he said. “Tell me if I am being too demanding.”
“I meant what I said. I will help however I can.”
Aiolia gave her another weak smile. “I…I suprised myself. The reason I was glad is that I—” Aiolia paused. “I found myself, for the first time, becoming angry with Marin.”
Mii listened, moving forward the continue to work as he talked.
“I knew that she was hiding things from me, it was obvious. But I just—” he grimaced. “I feel so terrible, I feel so…guilty for feeling this way. Obviously, she couldn’t tell me. I know that, I understand that but—but why do I still feel this way?”
“What way is that, exactly?”
Aiolia paused. “I feel, betrayed. Hurt,”
Aiolia paused. “Yes.”
“Would you say that, when Marin left for her missions without telling you anything, you felt abandoned?”
Aiolia nodded, a bit of dread creeping up inside of him as he sensed where she was going with her questions.
“Did you perhaps think that, Marin, someone that you loved, might not be the person you thought she was?”
Aiolia looked away, his fists clenching as he was unable to respond.
Mii let out a short sign before continuing. “Because once before, someone that you loved and trusted above all else, that person did something that you could not understand. He did something so terrible and so vile that it tarnished your memories and love for him.”
Mii met Aiolia’s eyes as he glanced back, and he was unable to look back away.
“In your fear, you saw Marin as growing further away from you. The more she was gone, the more you realized that she too could betray your trust some day, that she too could do something that disproved what you knew of her.”
Aiolia’s hands began to shake, his throat closing up with building tears. Mii had found her way directly to the core of it. It wasn’t surprising, Mii and the other saintias had been raised along side Aiolia as he had grown. They were all like sisters to him, and their closeness showed strongest in that moment.
“I hope not to worsen your suffering Aiolia,”
“No it’s right. You are right after all,” Aiolia said, wiping his eyes. “That is definitely something I would not have wanted to, nor have been able to realize on my own.” Because it was overwhelmingly painful, the pain and loss that he felt over his brother, the confusion over his betrayal; and on top of that, the paranoia he felt about Marin.
Aiolia had decided, just before the battle to finally believe in his brother again. And so, he also needed to trust Marin again too. But first, being able to tackle these feelings and put them behind him was the best thing he could do.
When Mii concluded her exam, she placed her scanner back on the desk. Aiolia returned to himself, readying himself to leave. But before he could depart, Mii returned to him and placed her hands gently over his own.
Aiolia looked at her, surprised but incredibly touched by her gesture. “If you require me again, please, I ask that you do not hesitate. It brings me great pain to see you suffering in silence,” Mii looked up and met Aiolia’s now watery gaze. “I do not doubt Marin’s love for you; but I know that she is not the best at picking up subtle cues.”
Aiolia let out a dry chuckle. “You are…painfully right about that.”
Mii offered aiolia a small smile. “I do think that next, you need to speak with Marin personally, and resolve these feelings before they fester.”
Aiolia nodded, wrapping his fingers gratefully around Mii’s hands.
Aiolia then returned back upstairs, his heart now feeling a little lighter. However, when he returned, he found that Marin was nowhere to be found.
Aiolia stared at her empty bed, his expression changing only slightly, but Shun, being observant as ever, picked up on it.
“Shaina took Marin upstairs,”
Aiolia looked at Shun, unsure if he would be able to keep the worry from his face. Above the general patients' area was the spire room; the healer’s personal and private space. It was part office, occasional bedroom; but primarily, it was where Shaina took critical or sensitive cases.
Shun furrowed his brow briefly before giving Aiolia another pleasant smile. “Aiolia, please sit down. Marin should return soon enough.”
Aiolia, rather stiffly walked over to sit on the bed next to Seiya. Seiya, surprisingly had yet to say a word. Aiolia glanced to Shun for an answer that he quickly supplied. “Marin well…she was a bit harsh in talking to Seiya. He’s clearly a little down about it.”
“I am sorry Seiya…what did she say?”
Seiya shrugged his shoulders. “She said that since we’ve been apart so long, there’s no real reason to call us siblings anyway.”
Shun interjected. “That’s not exactly what she said but—”
Seiya gave a bitter smile. “I guess he’s right. In reality, I don’t know anything about her. She’s just a stranger to me,” Aiolia, seeing how saddened Seiya was, resolved to do whatever he could about it.
“I’ll tell you one thing, Seiya,” Aiolia said, sitting down on the bed next to Seiya to talk to him. “I can promise you, not a day went by that your sister didn’t think of you.”
Seiya met Aiolia’s gaze, his lips curling into a pout. “Then what’s she saying now? That she can’t be my sister all of a sudden?”
“I think what she means is that, she thinks she didn’t earn it. She wasn’t there for you when you were hurt; she wasn’t able to teach you the things she knew; he wasn’t—she wasn’t—” Aiolia had, part way through his sentiment, realized that he hadn’t been thinking about Marin at all, but about his own sibling, by whom he too had felt abandoned.
Seiya blinked, noticing that Aiolia seemed somewhat sadder. “Your brother, his name was Aiolos, right?”
“What—how did you—”
Seiya gave a smirk, one that Aiolia found to rather familiar. “He talked to me, the Sagittarius saint. Said his name was Aiolos,” Seiya continued. “His spirit…I guess, whatever it was, he helped me defeat Saga.”
Aiolia pressed his lips together tightly. Aiolia had indeed seen the Sagittarius cloth go to Seiya’s aid, but he had not anticipated that Aiolos himself would have appeared to Seiya.
Aiolia was happy to know that Aiolos’ spirit hadn’t fully left them, but he also felt saddened, deeply, that Aiolos hadn’t seen fit to see Aiolia himself.
“He mentioned you, said that you probably must hate him for what he did.”
Aiolia sputtered. “Wait no, I don’t—” Aiolia had been plagued by doubt, tormented by the sanctuary, branded the brother of a traitor. But Aiolia could never say that he really hated his brother.
Seiya shrugged. “I guess, Marin must think the same way, huh,” Seiya remarked. “Even though I don’t get it. How could I hate Marin for what she did, when she did it to protect me? Sure, i really….really really really missed her,” Seiya paused having to sniff and try to hide his emotions. “But, in the end, she still came back for me, you know!”
Aiolia’s lower lip trembled, his fist clenching at his side. “You are right, Seiya. But as you can see, it’s not easy. It’s because Marin loves you, she wanted the best for you. But she couldn’t—she couldn't—” Aiolia cut himself off, unable to keep talking without risking breaking down.
Shun, being the more emotionally attuned one saw fit to step in.
“Aiolia, if it’s not too much to ask,” Shun began. “If you could tell us well, mostly Seiya; a little about Marin?”
The distraction would be good, as long as he could avoid thinking about himself for too long. “Of course, whatever you want to know.”
Seiya blinked, his face creasing in concentration.
Perhaps becoming bored, Shun jumped in again. “So, when did you and Marin first become an item?”
Seiya turned to Shun suddenly, completely flabbergasted. “Wait, Aiolia and my sister are dating????”
Shun burst out laughing, and poor Seiya just seemed confused.
Aiolia cracked a small grin, his heart somehow feeling just a little lighter, because he knew that he could now say it out loud. “Yes, Marin and I have been together for many years now. But I can tell you a bit about how it was when we first met if you would like.”
Seiya’s face lit up, Shun even leaned in closer as well.
Marin first arrived at Sanctuary when she was 11 years old. Aiolia didn’t know her well at first. Since his brother’s betrayal, Aiolia had begun to be kept in Athena’s Sanctum with the Saintias. At first, he was a prisoner, but over time, the other girls realised that there was a sad lonely child in their halls, and quickly brought him into their fold. Aiolia, at that age of 6 barely looked different from a girl himself. He was accepted and well liked, something he thought had died along with his brother.
Despite this, his life in the Sanctuary was far from perfect. Outside the Saintia’s fold, he was ridiculed, degraded and excluded from the saints who were meant to be his comrades. He was rejected by everyone, until one day on the training grounds; his darkened world started to be filled once again with flickering points of light.
Aiolia had gone to the Gold Saints’ training grounds. The regular soldiers and silver saints that usually bullied him were not even permitted there. Aiolia, being one of the Gold Saint candidates, could pass inside without being noticed.
He was small at that age, only 10 years old. His training gear was ill-fitting and far too loose. The few times he even got a chance to spar, it would often slip around and cause him to trip up.
The gold saint training grounds were a rather grand affair; made of gilded stone like much of the sanctuary. But this area was for the sacred, highest ranking of Athena’s warriors. in all honesty, it was much more like a colosseum. A vast circle of stone seats and walls surrounding a central field. Aiolia was able to sneak in and watch to two who were sparring.
From his distance, it looked like a male and female fighting. But what he didn’t realise at first, was that his assumptions had been backward.
He had assumed that the one with the blue hair and the pastel clothes was a woman and that the scruffy redhead was a man, but quickly enough he figured out that he was mistaken.
In one swift move, Aphrodite threw Marin to the ground in a decisive victory.
“Goddammit!” Marin yelled in a high-pitched voice.
Aphrodite smirked and laughed. “That makes it 3-2”
“You fight dirty!” She complained, taking his offered hand to stand back up again.
“That’s where you’re wrong, my dear. I happen to fight smart,” Aphrodite replied coyly.
“I swear that damn mouth of yours is gonna get you killed some day,” Marin got back into her ready stance, not about to be beaten so easily.
Aphrodite, however, didn’t reciprocate, instead of casing his eyes to the stands. “It would appear that we, in fact, have an audience tonight.”
The two of them then turned to face Aiolia. Aiolia stood up, prepared to run, but was stopped by their next reply.
“Hey kid!” Marin called. “Did you wanna join us or just watch?”
Aiolia was stunned. He had been expecting to be told to leave immediately, or be accosted with some other insult. Aiolia couldn’t respond at first but instead started to walk down the steps one by one.
Aiolia approached Marin and Aphrodite somewhat cautiously. Their expressions and stances didn’t change even as he approached.
“Hey kid, are you okay?” Marin asked, leaning forward, reaching out a hand from which Aiolia recoiled.
“That young boy is Aiolia. The brother of Aiolos.”
Marin’s eyes widened as she glanced back at Dite. Aiolia then braced himself for what was surely to come next. But instead, Aiolia found himself being suddenly embraced my warm arms. Aiolia didn’t know what to think, and it hardly registered at first. While Aiolia was still looking down, Marin had walked forward, knelt to his height and hugged him tightly. Aiolia tried to look at her, his arms limp at his sides.
Marin then pulled back and muttered something. “Sorry…to hug you so suddenly like that...”
Aphrodite who stood behind them gave a small smirk. “Marin has been wanting to meet you actually, Aiolia.”
Aiolia’s eyes widened. “What? Why me?”
“She also has a brother she can no longer see anymore, and so I dare say she sympathized with your story.”
Marin then suddenly turned around, glaring at Dite. “Hey! What are you playing at??”
Aphrodite smirked. “I just figured it would help the boy understand.”
They seemed to know what Aiolia has been going through, and surprisingly they didn’t seem to agree with his treatment.
Marin scowled at Dite while he laughed.
Aiolia, however, looked down again, tears welling in his eyes.
Marin then turned back, her expressions shifting when she saw he was crying. “Oh gods, oh no. I’m sorry, did I make you cry? Was hugging you too weird—”
Aiolia shook his head and nudged his head against her shoulder, wrapping his arms tightly around her back.
“No…I, thank you…” Aiolia could hardly express how he was feeling, especially since he hadn’t felt anywhere close to that happy since Aiolos had died.
From that day, the three of them became an inseparable trio. Even when his relationship deepened with Marin, Aphrodite was always been there close at hand, watching out for them and supporting them. Aiolia found a place where he could belong, and for that he would always be grateful.
Seiya and Shun had listened to Aiolia’s story with rapt attention, their gazes so intense that Aiolia became a little self-conscious.
Seiya looked rather content, his expression warm. “Thanks, Aiolia, that really helped to hear.”
Aiolia nodded, managing a small smile as well. “I’m glad. You two still need to rest but, if you ever want to hear more about your sister,” Aiolia nodded at Seiya.
“Okay!” Seiya replied happily.
Shun, however, smirked again. “Hey, I still wanna know the juicy details about how you and Marin got to be such a cute couple.”
Aiolia’s face flushed again and he stood up from the bed. He deeply disliked talking about such personal matters in public. And as much as he wanted to keep talking to them, now just wasn’t the time.
Aiolia then instead paced over to the central lift, walking around aimlessly. Shouko then approached him again, her face filled with concern. “Hey, Aiolia,” she said softly. Aiolia then turned to look at her, his face still rather blank. Shouko then suddenly grabbed his hand and slipped something small and metal inside. Aiolia lifted his hand and opened his palm to see that is a was a small round key.
“This will get you into Shaina’s spire. Don’t worry, she said you could come.”
“Thank you,” Aiolia said with a small bow. He then swiftly entered the lift and let himself be taken up to where Marin was.
I tried to do the hyperlink translation thing because marin was really fucking brutal and funny
“Nee-san...? Peh, as if I’d be able to see you again. I must still be dreaming ”
“What kinda guy dreams of his older sister? Ya damn sis-con”
Chapter 4: Land Feather
Shouko, needing a moment alone had taken herself out onto the terrace of the circle room. The stars were so beautiful, as they always had been, but now, they felt just a little bit brighter.
Shouko wasn’t expecting any company, and so was surprised when she heard a door slide open behind her and head someone approach.
“Mind if I join you?” Shouko turned around to see that it was Shun and instantly relaxed.
Shouko nodded and turned back to gazing at the stars. “It’s so beautiful here…”
“Yeah…” Shouko said, her attention still not fully captured.
“So you’ve lived here your whole life?” Shun asked, a little suddenly, but Shouko didn’t mind the invitation for conversation.
“Huh? uh, yeah. My mom actually…she gave birth to both me and my sister here.”
“You have an older sister?”
“Yeah, Kyouko. She had to take over mom’s duties so she’s been…really busy.” Was the most simple way to explain it, without mentioning how Kyouko was currently only barely clinging to life in the lower levels of the infirmary.
Shun immediately picked up on the tinge of sadness in her voice. It seemed to be a bit of a pattern around here, younger siblings feeling distant and cut off from their elders.
Except for Marin. She was a glimpse of the other side, of how the burden of family can take it’s toll.
“Tell me, what do you know about Marin and Aiolia’s relationship?”
Shoko suddenly blushed and let out a squeak before burying her face in her hands.
“Oh, i’m sorry if—”
“N-no…it’s okay I—I actually know…quite a lot about their relationship.”
“Oh?” Shun asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I’m actually the same age as Aiolia, even though…everyone still says I look like a kid.”
“Well I think you look like a perfectly mature woman,” Shun said with a small grin.
Shoko blinked before replying, trying to collect herself. “Okay before I tell you…I just want to make sure you know…I’m not some sort of pervert! I just…i keep—”
“I keep walking in on them…it’s happened 4 times by now.”
“It was super embarrassing! Marin is like another older sister! And Aiolia like a brother…”
“Seeing a brother and sister like that sure would be scandalous!”
“It’s not…” Shoko just decided to let it be and go on with answering his question. “Aiolia…really was like my brother well actually, more like a sister.”
“Oh?” Shun asked, suddenly even more interested.
“After he—after Aiolos died, Aiolia was alone so, the older saintias took him in and raised him with the rest of us.
Shoko told Shun a bit of what she remembered of Aiolia from their childhood.
Aiolia had been such an incredibly nervous child, he was delicate and shy and preferred to stay with the older girls as much as possible. In particular, he seemed to find comfort in dressing like the Saintias and following Kyoko around during her duties.
Shouko, on more than one occasion, perhaps had seen Aiolia as a rival for her sister’s affections.
“We fought a little when we were kids, but after we both started Saint training, we oddly got along much better.
“But aiolia he…he had a lot of trouble outside the sanctum,” Shouko said, her face clouding over. “He got bullied and ridiculed a lot. No one wanted to be his teacher and he was run out of group training a lot…”
“But all that changed one day,” Shoko said, her expression warming.
Shoko, after a day of training her body out in the yards, found that training didn’t end even after coming back in doors. Shoko had spread out in front of her a massive book full of signs and scribbles that her tutor insisted were supposed to actually mean things.
Shouko let out a huge groan, letting her face flop down onto the musty pages. “This is impossible…I don’t get it at all.”
Just when shouko was ready to give up, she heard someone approach form behind her.
“Ah! I love that book, it’s one of my favorites. How are you liking it, Shouko?”
Shouko turned around and saw something truly shocking. Aiolia was still in his training gear, his clothes covered in dust and his skin even a little scratched up; but he was smiling. He was smiling brighter than Shouko had ever seen in her life.
“Uh…” Shouko began. “I uh…I can’t read it.”
“Oh!” Aiolia then pulled up the other chair and sat with her at the desk. “If you want I can tutor you! I love these old glyphs.”
Shouko couldn’t even bring herself to respond, she was just so completely baffled at the sight in front of her. “Aiolia…what happened today?”
Aiolia’s face lit up even further and he clapped his hands together. “Shouko I— I got to train today! With two of the Pisces candidates!”
“Gold cloth trainees?” She asked her face full of shock.
“Yeah! They were super nice, and didn’t hold back on me at all!”
“There was Aphrodite who I had heard before, he was even more beautiful than the rumors. He honestly looked just like a woman.”
An odd statement, considering AIolia himself still looked very much like a girl.
“And there was also…this older girl I hadn’t met. Her name was…Marin!”
“Oh…Marin! She’s friends with my sister, I know her.”
“You do?! Isn’t she awesome?!” Aiolia was completely captivated, his entire body caught up with his elation.
“She looks like she really beat the crap out of you.”
“Yeah she did…but she did it without even breaking any bones!”
Shouko was completely unable to reply to that.
But even at that age, Shouko was able to tell that Aiolia had found something he had always been wanting, acceptance in the world where his brother had once walked.
“Oh that’s so sweet,” Shun said. “Of course Aiolia would grow so attached to her. Especially her being a mature older woman.”
“I mean she was 14 when they met…basically still a kid. ”
“Still…” Shun said with a mischievous grin.
“Anyway…that’s the gist of it,” At least what shoko was comfortable with talking about at that moment.
Shun seemed like he was going to ask more when the terrace door suddenly slid open from behind them.
“Milo!” Shouko said, all but abandoning Shun and running towards her mentor. “Shouko,” Milo said warmly. “You got marin and Aiolia here safely, thank you.”
“Of course!” Shouko replied happily.
Milo briefly glanced over to Shun as an acknowledgment at least of his presence. “I was told that Marin is in Shaina’s Spire for a private examination and it seems Aiolia went up there as well, I just saw him.”
Shouko nodded solemnly. “Yes, I knew that Aiolia would want to know she was okay as soon as possible…”
“Very good, Aiolia appreciates you always looking out for him.”
Up in the spire room, Shaina had since already begun her work on Marin; as she had found that there was no time to waste. The seal on her neck was indeed of a similar breed to the one that almost took Saori’s life.
Draining and killing the user was in fact a secondary function. The glyph’s perfect was to exert control over the victim, but without a constant source of Cosmo, it would eventually drain the very life from the victim.
Marin laid on her back, her body completely bear. The light in the room was low and soothing, but Marin’s heart still felt far from peace.
Shaina stood above her, turned around at her her desk, busy with preparations.
“So, Aiolia thinks I got raped.”
Shaina started, her shoulders jerking suddenly before she started work again. “I can definitely see why he would think that.”
“What do you think?” Marin asked.
Shaina paused. “I mean, I havn't found any…physical evidence,” Shaina said. “But with your wounds and the state of your clothes…I can’t fully rule it out. Especially the fact you still might have been violated in…other ways.”
Marin lifted a hand to her lips ponderingly. “God, I knew Aiolia would freak out but…” she paused. “I didn’t think it would affect him that bad.”
“Why wouldn’t it? You are the woman he loves. He wouldn’t want anything to happen to you.”
“I mean, Aiolia doesn't mind if I sleep around with other people so, I did’t think.”
Shaina then suddenly turned around, her medical tools in her hands. Shaina then walked back to the edge of the bed with a frown. “This isn’t some chauvinistic bullshit about his bride being sullied. This is about you being hurt, tortured, without him having been able to stop it.”
“Ah, yeah…right,” Marin pressed her lips together, feeling a little foolish for the initial thought.
“I got Mii’s report,” she said, gesturing to her tablet. “Aiolia was suprisingly roughed up. He had a lot of similar long scratches and marks, but just around his mouth and throat.”
Marin blinked. “Yeah, when I tried to kiss him earlier, adding tongue really freaked him out…”
Shaina had begun her work on Marin, performing another general scan, hoping to find the full extend of the glyph imbedded in Marin’s skin.
“Aiolia, when he attacked seiya, his eyes were glowing red and he wasn’t acting like himself. Obviously, he was under the influence of the Gemma Maouken,” Shaina said, setting down her tool and placing her hands on Marin’s skin. “Usually, this attack can be pre-meditated and refined. it can be infused into a weapon or marked directly onto the skin,” as Shaina said this, the violet glyph encircling Marin’s neck began to glow again. “That’s what this thing is, it’s how the pope controlled you.”
Marin nodded. “Yeah but, I didn’t see anything like that Aiolia and I…well. I saw everything.”
“Like i said, this is a more permanent, premeditated version,” Shaina’s emerald and gold cosmo flared at her fingers and Marin felt her body being filled to the brim with Shaina’s warm cosmo. “But, I read records about a more…immediate version of the technique.”
Marin let out a gasp. Despite the intentions, Shaina’s cosmo flowing throughout Marin’s body made her feel something close to ecstasy. This was something Shaina usually did to comfort or to enhance the feeling of arousal. But in this moment, she was simply using it as a type of anesthetic. But to marin, the memories flowed up to the surface too.
Before they could continue talking, Marin let out a loud cry, her back arching as she felt a sharp pain almost like her head was being slowly cut from her body. Marin convulsed, her legs shooting out as she struggled to keep her composure amidst the burning pain.
But within a few more moments, the violet glyph suddenly disappeared, Marin flopping back to the bed as her body was flooded again with Shaina’s warmth.
Marin’s breathing was heavy, but she was freed. Without removal, the glyph would have continued to slowly drain her lifesource without it’s owner to give it power. And so, this had to be done sooner than later.
Shaina then suddenly pulled herself next to Marin on the bed. Shaina waited patiently, her eyes fixed on marin’s face.
“So…this…other method,” Marin managed through gasps. “What exactly is it?”
Shaina paused before replying. “The account I read described a pitch black fog emanating from the Gemini’s body. The fog then formed tendrils, and entered the body through the mouth. The victim seemed to suffer terribly. In the account, it was an enemy who was later disposed of after controlled..”
Marin gave a shudder, her hand going to her mouth again. “Oh gods no wonder he didn’t want me to deep throat him with my tongue so soon…”
Shaina gave a small frown, seeing that she clearly needed to explain it forthright. “I assume that’s what Aiolia thought happened to you too. Either your mouth or…” Shaina’s hand suddenly dragged down Marin’s stomach, falling into it’s familiar place between Marin’s legs.
“Oh….OH!” Marin said in realization. “Oh gods…that was all so stupid of me.”
Shaina gave a low hum, her hand tracing up and down Marin’s body idly. Now certainly wasn’t the time but, Aiolia hadn’t been the only one who had missed Marin so dearly during her absence. And knowing that Marin often needed things spelled out for her, Shaina leaned up and gave Marin a light kiss on the cheek. “When you get the chance, come see me again, okay?”
“Yeah…it’s been too long,” Marin leaned over and kissed Shaina softly on the lips. Pulling back they kept their eyes locked for a few moments before Shaina pushed herself away, somewhat reluctantly.
“I have to get back to my other patients soon, and Aiolia will come for you sooner than later.”
“Yeah,” Marin said, sitting up with mild difficulty. While Marin’s wounds had all been healed, the scars would still remain for a while longer. Marin had many scars, and some that had even lingered. One through her left eyebrow, and the other through the right side of her mouth. Although Aiolia had asked, Marin never told him how she got those scars, but perhaps in the spirit of total honesty; Marin would tell him that soon as well.
Shaina brought Marin her clothes and helped her get dressed again. Not long after, they heard the lift approaching from the bottom floor and soon enough Aiolia excited the lift in the center of the room.
He gave them a smile but approached somewhat cautiously. “I hope I am not…interrupting,”
Shaina shook her head with a small smirk. “No, we just got done, actually. She’s free to go.”
Aiolia was unable to hold back a relieved smile. “That’s wonderful. What was the procedure, may I ask?”
Shaina idly picked up her tablet again, moving things around her work station to put them all back in order. “I removed the Genma Maouken glyph from Marin’s body, she’s safe now.”
Aiolia swallowed. “So, it was….that technique,” he began.
Shaina, not wanting to explain it again, walked over and shoved the tablet with her report on the technique for him to read. Aiolia blinked and quickly began reading it without objection.
Shaina then went back to Marin, performing last checks and getting her some sandals and a crutch to use.
“Oh…thank the gods,” Aiolia breathed. There was no need to discuss it further, as Aiolia deeply wanted to forget the whole experience. What he focused on was the fact that Marin was safe, and that she hadn’t had to undergo the same violation that he had.
Marin got up from the bed with Shaina’s help and hobbled over until she found support in Lia’s embrace again. Marin leaned her face against his chest and just held him for a few moments. Aiolia patted her back, and savored the feel of her warmth.
“Now hurry up you two, I have more patients to see.”
At that moment the lift had begun to move again, and from the center of the room now came none other that Scorpio Milo. Marin and Aiolia exchanged a knowing glance greeted Milo before leaving. Shaina was very busy, and so she deserved time alone with her own Lover as well.
With the other two gone, Milo immediately made herself completely at home. She brought out two thick blankets and laid them out on the patient’s table. Shaina however was still busying about finishing up her work. Milo let out a slightly exasperated sigh and reclined on the bed while she waited.
“I trust everything went well with marin?” Milo asked.
Shaina kept working while she answered. “Yes, she is completely safe now after I removed the Gemini curse glyph.”
“I am extremly happy to hear about that,” Milo said, sighing again. “What about…with Aiolia. Did you notice anything?”
Shaina stopped her work, her hands resting on the counter for a few moments. “Marin told me enough to glean what I needed I think. Aiolia had been worried that Marin had suffered a sexual assault without her knowledge.”
“Ah,” Milo said, pressing her lips together. That was indeed enough to glean what they needed. Aiolia’s anxiety over Marin being out of his reach had been slowly eating away at him over the years.
Shaina then turned around and walked over to where Milo sat, her expression still rather blank. “I know that you are worried about them, I am to,” Shaina then placed a hand on Milo’s cheek while lifting one of her legs up onto the bed. “But right now, I’d rather not talk about them anymore.”
Milo gave a small smirk, placing one hand on Shaina’s shoulder, helping to support Shaina as she climbed on top of Milo. Milo then laid back and rested her hands on Shaina’s hips. Shaina pressed her self flush against Milo and rest her face in the crook of Milo’s neck. Shaina was beyond exhausted and desperately needed comfort from her lover at that moment.
Milo, admittedly hadn’t even really exerted herself during that day; and the worry she felt was no where near Shaina’s burden as the head healer. Milo ran a hand soothingly up and down Shaina’s back back as Shaina held on as tight as she could.
“I know I just said I didn’t want to talk about them—” Shaina began.
“It’s alright,” Milo replied. “Please say what you need to.”
“I just…I know it’s selfish but…” Shaina began. “I wanted…I wanted to spend a little more time with Marin.”
“Do you mean today? Or just in general…”
Shaina paused before responding. “Maybe, I just can’t expect to be as important to her anymore since she started seeing Aiolia but…”
Milo touched Shaina’s face gently and Shaina pulled back to look at her. “Starting to date someone doesn’t mean that you need to shut everyone else out. Consider this, Shaina. I don’t think Marin was distant from you because she doesn’t care for you; It was because of her situation. She had many secrets that she had to keep not only from you, but from Aiolia.” Milo chuckled. “Trust me, Aiolia has been worried just as you have been. He thought she was growing tired of him just the same so; I hope you can be put to ease a little bit,” Milo began twirling a finger in Shaina’s hair. “From here on, I think you, as well as Aiolia, will start seeing a lot more of dear Marin over all.”
Shaina gazed back at Milo for a few moments, her lower lip trembling slightly.
When Marin first arrived to the sanctuary, Shaina herself had already been there for a while but had not had much success finding friends. The saintias were insular and secretive; and the other female saints were spread out. Shaina found initial mentorship with Milo, but didn’t find a friend until she met Marin.
Marin, despite her position as an outsider, was the one who approached Shaina first. Marin came with a smile on her face, and helped Shaina find the strength to stand.
But Shaina found that for some reason; Marin was always just out of her reach.
Shaina kept her face pressed closed against Milo’s skin. Milo was right there, holding her, and Shaina felt her worries melt away just a little bit.
“Just tell me what you need right now, my love.” Milo whispered into Shaina’s ear, causing her to shudder. Shaina then pulled back and looked deep into Milo’s before kissing her rather fervently.
Milo was only slightly taken aback but pulled Shaina close nonetheless. Milo dragged her hands up and down Shaina’s back, rubbing the tension out bit by bit. The bed was quite small, and so as soon as Shaina got worked up enough, she quickly hopped off, grabbing Milo’s hand.
Milo followed, grabbing the blankets from the bed and following Shaina over towards the couch. Milo then spread out the blankets and sat down first, opening her legs invitingly. “I dare say these bodysuits are becoming more and more uncomfortable by the second,” Milo said, shaking her hair out of the way as she reached up to unfasten her bodysuit. With a sigh she let it fall forward off of her shoulders, her breasts able to fall free.
Shaina stared for a few moments before undressing herself where she stood. Shaina then took her bodysuit off completely, leaving her completely naked. Milo smirked before following suit, taking off the bodysuit and lying there invitingly on her side.
Shaina then knelt down and crawled over to Milo, giving her a rather desperate look before indulging in another kiss. Milo sighed and gently gripped the back of Shaina’s head, bringing shaina closer. Milo sat up straight and drew shaina into her arms. Milo widened her legs and pressed her feet together so that shaina could sit there right in front of her. Shaina moved close and wrapped her legs around Milo’s waist while kissing her deeply once more.
Milo then pressed her hands deep into Shaina’s back, pulling their chests together so that their breasts met between them They both sighed, Shaina’s mouth hanging open, giving Milo the opportunity to plunge her tongue inside. Shaina moaned, pressing her rear against Milo’ hips, starting a grinding motion that brought them both building shocks of pleasure.
Shaina ground her ass into Milo’s mound, causing her to let out a few more high-pitched moans. Hearing Milo’s eager and submissive voice sent a flash of heat through her body. Shaina let out a whine, her vulva already practically gushing. Milo pulled her lips away and caught her breath while keeping her lips close to Shaina’s cheek.
“You seem, dissatisfied with our current position, my dear. How would you prefer me to rectify this?”
Shaina let out a small grunt, pulling back her right leg and then sliding it back under Milo’s. Shaina kept her eyes locked with Milo and then inched their hips even closer. Milo returned her intense gaze, giving a nod of understanding. Milo then gently cupped Shaina’s cheek before kissing Shaina again. Despite Shaina’s eagerness to begin rubbing their vulvas together already, Shaina indulged just a little bit longer in the lips of her love.
Milo then dropped her hands to rest on Shaina’s lower back, the two of them angeling their hips so that they could complete their intimacy. They both gasped in unison when their vulvas made contact; Shaina’s voice quickly pitching into a high moan. Shaina grabbed onto Milo’s arm for support as they both leaned back to get their hips at the optimal angel. Milo then grabbed both of Shaina’s hands, intertwining their fingers. They supported eachother while leaning back, using their own body weight to deepen their thrusts against eachother.
Their joint moans increased in volume, but not enough to completely drown out the wet sounds of their confluent arousals. The plump softness of eachother feeling multiplied 10 fold by how sensitive their vulvas were; and as their arousal increased; so did their sensitivity. THe pleasure mounting and multiplying itself seemingly without end.
Shaina’s expression was quickly lost to the pure exsctasy; as was Milo’s. Milo let her composure fall away, only struggling to keep her eyes open so that she could see Shaina’s face when she came.
“Shaina,” Milo gasped. “My love, are you close?”
Shaina coudln’t reply, but nodded, barely keeping one eye open as she was insulted in plateau. Milo then leaned in, just enough to make Shaina’s mouth fall open, a loud wail falling from her lips as she suddenly began to convulse; her orgasms only stimulating Milo more and causing her to come quickly after.
“More…Milo—” Shaina gasped, suddenly throwing her weright forward and causing Milo to fall onto her back. Milo gaze up at Shaina, obediently rolling onto her side to give Shaina the best angle.
Milo lay here on her side, her arms bracing against the ground. One of Milo’s legs was laid out underneath shaina, while Shaina grabbed the other and wrapped it around her own hip to keep Milo’s legs as wide as possible.
Shaina thrust her hips harder and harder against Milo. Milo’s body starting to convulse again as she felt another orgasm overcome her. “Shaina!” Milo wailed, completely losing herself in the pleasure. She herself could never get enough of the overwhelming sensation of this; of tribbing with shaina, pressing their vulvas so close together, their clits being overwhelmed by the motions and the pressure. Milo knew that Shaina loved it too. Even if they couldn’t hold each other as close as they might want. There would be plenty of time for that when Shaina had her fill.
Because Shaina, at this moment, seemed almost insatiable. Her thrusts were wild and her fingers dug into Milo’s thighs almost painfully. Milo grabbed desperately, searching for Shaina’s hand to hold onto. “Shaina…my love—” she gasped.
Shaina then grabbed Milo’s hand and squeezed it tight as they both came together for a third time.
“No more…please,” Milo pulled her hips away and laid face down on the blankets for a few moments. Shaina just knelt in place behind Milo, their breathing both coming heavy for a few moments.
“I’m sorry Milo, I over did it, didn’t i?”
Milo rolled onto her back and gave a tired smile to Shaina. “No! Of course not my dear. It was just a bit intense; and you still have just so much more endurance than I do. I’m not as young as I used to be it seems.”
Shaina crawled over and plopped herself on top of Milo, looking down at her with a small pout. “What are you talking about. You’ve always been a one-rounder as long as I’ve known you.”
Milo let out a bright chuckle and pressed a hand to Shaina’s face. “Ah, you are right, of course, dearest.” Milo pulled shaina close, their breasts pressing close together and their legs intertwining.
“Do you really want to sleep here?” Milo asked, stroking her hair gently.
“I have to,” Shaina said, nudging the side of Milo’s head. “And it’s fine. As long as you’re here I—” Shaina paused, shoving her face into Milo’s neck in embarrassment. “If you’re here with me, then this is home.” Shaina muttered it almost too fast for milo to catch, but she heard it loud and clear.
“I am so glad you feel that way, my love.”
Milo kissed the side of Shaina’s head and ran her hands down her back. Milo pulled blankets around them and pulled down some pillows from the couch.
Chapter 5: Engrave In Me
When Marin woke up the next morning, she found herself in a warm and familiar embrace.
Looking up, she saw Aiolia, sleeping peacefully next to her. Looking around she found that Aiolia had brought them to her own bedroom and had spent the night there with her. Marin reached out a hand and gently stroked Aiolia’s cheek. His face was serene, the morning light making his eyelashes glow pink.
Marin pulled herself close and rested her face against his soft and fuzzy chest.
“Marin?” Aiolia asked, his voice still heavy with sleep.
“Good morning,” Marin looked up at him, smiling. Even if everything around them was still so heavy; should couldn’t help but be this happy with Aiolia right there.
Aiolia returned her smile and wrapped and arm around her back. “Did you sleep well?”
“Like the dead,” she said with a smirk. “No dreams, no nothing. I feel great.”
“I’m so glad,” Aiolia said, running his hand slowly down Marin’s back. Aiolia then leaned down to kiss her, and Marin responded eagerly. She pulled him close and sighed into his lips without holding back.
The kisses that Aiolia and Marin had shared in this bed had not always been this warm. And so, Marin was a bit surprised that Aiolia had chosen to bring her to her bed in the first place. In the last 7 years of their relationship, most of their nights; their warm kisses and their heated embraces; they had always been at Aiolia’s place.
Because 7 years before is when Aiolia and Marin had shared their very first kiss, curled up in this bed just as they were now.
“Aiolia,” she said suddenly. “I was serious when I said I felt better. Lets go for a walk.”
Aiolia was a bit surprised but had no reason to protest. Aiolia still insisted on helping her get ready, gathering her clothes and the crutch from Shaina. They got themselves together and then left the smothering shade of her residence and went directly to the winding paths and gardens that surrounded the sparse houses.
Aiolia and Marin walked hand in hand, Marin still leaning on the crutch as to not overwork her body so soon. Aiolia kept close, ready to support her if she ever happened to need it.
“Aiolia,” Marin began, stopping suddenly and turning to face him. “Do you remember when we shared our first kiss?”
Aiolia blinked before nodding quickly. “Of course I do…” he squeezed her hand gently. “I was so happy that you responded so well.”
Marin laughed. “I was happy Aiolia, I had liked you that way for a while; but,” she scratched her nose nervously. “You know, I was like your big sister, I thought it would be weird if I initiated as the older one.”
Aiolia laughed softly. “And I was worried that you only saw me like your kid brother.”
Marin shook her head. “I already had a brother anyway, and you two were barely anything alike back then.” Marin’s eyes grew distant. “Look, I was happy, and I wanted to kiss you and become your girlfriend and everything but; there was another reason.”
Aiolia lead the two of them to sit down on a nearby bench, trees gently swaying overhead. He squeezed Marin’s hand, giving her his rapt attention. “Go on.”
Marin avoided his gaze for a moment. “Mostly, I just knew that I couldn’t risk telling you what had happened to me on that most recent mission. I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist telling you; and if I did tell you, you would be in danger.” She let out a sigh. “But now it’s finally time. I can tell you everything. ”
Marin took in a deep breath before starting. Aiolia leaned in and wrapped a comforting arm around her shoulder.
“Seiya was born a few months after Saori was. He was identified as the Pegasus by members of the Saintia counsel; they came for him,
“I was 11, I was basically raising him on my own in the orphanage we were both at. I wasn’t about to let my kid brother go somewhere I couldn’t. But they wouldn’t leave without someone to go with them,”
Aiolia frowned, nudging her forehead with his chin. “So you went in his placce?”
Marin nuzzled him back, turning herself towards him and resting a hand on his thigh. “The Pegasus is supposed to be Athena’s most loyal guardian you know. And those saintias knew that Athena was on earth, so they allowed it. They just needed to report that they had brought back a human recruit.
“So I went with them, and the rest of that you know.” Marin paused before continuing. “But that day…when you kissed me. The reason I was so screwed up that day,” Marin grimaced. “Saga. Saga found out. He caught me.”
Aiolia let out a small gasp, feeling how Marin’s body began to shake.
“He found out, and he threatened me. He said that I had to obey him or…or he’d have my brother killed,”
Marin let out a short sob and Aiolia rubbed her back to try and soothe her.
“That’s when…that’s when he cursed me,” Marin said softly.
Aiolia nodded, having gleaned what he needed from Shaina’s report.
“I just…gods, I’m so sorry. I’m so so sorry.”
“What makes it worse is that Dite knew! Dite knew and you didn’t…”
Aiolia paused, him lips pressing together. It hurt to learn that, but he let marin continue.
“And that’s why…that’s why Dite is dead,” Marin said through sobs. “He came to rescue me. He tried to get me out of there in one piece and then—”
Aiolia pulled Marin into his arms, pressing his forehead against hers. Marin’s eyes were red and tears had begun to leak down her cheeks. “Marin,” Aiolia said, rubbing a thumb over her cheek to wipe away one of her tears. “I love you, okay?”
“I love you…Aiolia.” Marin pressed her face against his neck and wrapped her arms around his back. Aiolia held her close, rubbing her back to try and soothe the sobs.
“Marin, I know you were just trying to protect me,” he said in a low voice into her hair. “But I was still just so scared.” Aiolia continued, his own voice having started to shake. Marin sniffed and pulled back, holding the side of his face. Aiolia continued. “I was terrified constantly. Every time you left, it felt like you were getting further and further away. It felt like at any moment, you could abandon me, betray me,” he grimaced. “Just like my brother did…” Aiolia opened his eyes and looked at her, taking a hold of one of her hands.
Hearing that made it all finally come together for Marin. She felt even worse for having added to that pain for him. But there was no point in dwelling on that. There had been no other choice, and the most important thing was that they were still together now, they were both alive and able to heal those old wounds.
“I’m here Aiolia,” is all that Marin could manage to reply. “I’m here and i’m not going anywhere. ”
Aiolia nodded, their hands intertwining between them. “Thank you Marin, for telling me, even though it was hard.”
Marin gave a cheeky laugh pulling back and slumping into the bench again. She held on tight to one of Aiolia’s hands still, letting her head fall onto his shoulder. Aiolia squeezed her hand and let his head rest on top of hers.
“We’ve made it this far already, somehow,” Marin said with a chuckle.
“What do you mean by that?” Aiolia asked gently.
“I mean, don’t you remember? I totally avoided you for days after that first kiss.”
“Ah,” Aiolia did indeed remember. “Gods I was so sure that you hated me.”
“I know and I’m sorry,” Marin paused. “It was really thanks to Dite that we actually got together, huh?”
Aiolia glanced at her, seeing her expression fall. Aiolia squeezed her hand and pulled her closer. “Yeah, it really was.”
After the kiss, Marin had tried to return to normal, but her change in behavior did not escape Dite’s keen eyes.
Marin was making her rounds on the training grounds, conspicuously avoiding completely the areas that Aiolia often frequented. Aphrodite, noticing this made their way to Marin’s side that day.
“If I didn’t know any better,” Dite began with a smirk. “I would say that you and Aiolia are avoiding eachother today.”
Marin’s face burst into an obvious blush that she tried and failed to hide. The training grounds around them had begun to empty, and Dite lead her on a path to where the grounds would soon be completely deserted.
“Did something happen?” Aphrodite asked, hooking his arm through Marin’s and keeping her quite close as they walked.
Marin knew there was no point in trying to resist or hide it from Dite. She had been friends with Aphrodite even longer than Aiolia after all. “And to think, I thought that you two were finally getting closer. Aiolia has been so smitten with you for so long,” Dite said with an over dramatic tone.
“Yeah, you don’t think I’ve noticed?” Marin said, trying to sound brusque despite the pink tinge in her cheeks.
“Actually, I was completely sure that you hadn’t noticed,” Dite smirked.
Marin choked. He was right after all. Marin had been completely unaware of Aiolia’s feelings until the night that he confessed. “Well…” Marin said. “He actually confessed to me the other day and—he kissed me.” Marin said, lifting a hand to her lips.
“Oh my~” Dite said with a giggle. “The lion cub now becomes a man!”
“It was just a kiss Dite! And that’s super weird.”
Dite let out a warm chuckle. “But as I’m sure you’ve noticed, how he’s maturing in to a fine young man.”
Marin’s eyes did indeed linger on Aiolia as he trained, much more than they once had. Marin frowned, pondering for a moment. “I dont know…” she said. “The Aiolia I know is someone soft and gentle; pretty like a girl but never one to give up,” She paused. “I don’t think he needs to change into a “man” really.”
Dite rolled their eyes. “You know what I meant, Marin.”
Marin scowled slightly. “I’m his teacher, his mentor. He looks up to me.”
“I understand if you want to refrain for now, but,” Dite tilted their head to the side. “He will undergo the saint trails soon enough. And then he will no longer be your student, but your superior and comrade.”
Marin fiddled with the canister in her hands. “Yeah…” Marin seeemd dejected by that concept, and it was hard to place exactly why. “He hasn’t… he hasn’t said anything to me since that night…”
“I think he is expecting you to give a reply first.”
“Yeah you’re right but…”
Marin was never very good at these sorts of things. Both relationships of hers up until that point; with Shaina and Dite respectively were very clearly casual. They were friends and would die for eachother.
But with Aiolia, something felt different. There was an emotion that kindled in her chest that she didn’t know, and that unknown terrified her.
Marin continued. “I know I shouldn’t be avoiding him but, I just don’t know what to do!” Marin lamented, stopping in her tracks and turning to Dite. Where they stopped was before a large guilded arena, an area far from the main training grounds. And Marin quickly realised that it was the very place that she and Aiolia had met for the first time. Dite had managed to lead her through the gates without her noticing, but as she looked around, she found that they wern’t alone.
At the opposite edge of the arena sat Aiolia. He was far enough away that he couldn’t hear them, but he had clearly been waiting for them.
“Dite you—!” Marin began, knowing immediately that Dite had planned it this way.
Dite smirked. “The way things were going, I was afraid you two would never work it out on your own,” Aphrodite then grabbed Marin by the hand and started leading her to the center of the Arena.
“Aiolia!” Dite called out. “I have someone here to see you!”
Aiolia stood up and approached them at a rather brisk pace. Despite her embarrassment, Marin broke from Dite’s grip and immediately started sprinting towards him.
Marin ran directly into Aiolia’s arms, hugging him without thinking or caring; just like she had done on the day they had first met. And Marin had no intention of ever trying to hide her feelings for him ever again.
And even with all the secrets and lies; at the very least, Marin had been able to keep that promise alone.
Marin and Aiolia walked hand in hand once again, leaving the woods behind them and trailing back through the residences. They had a mind to return to the infirmary eventually and so headed back in that general direction.
On their way however, they found one of the people they meant to meet blocking their very path.
“Shaina!” Aiolia was the first to speak, as he was the one most surprised by her appearance.
Shaina gave a wordless nod. “I’m just stopping by my house to get some things,” she remarked. While she was answering Aiolia, her gaze was fixed on Marin. Marin returned the gaze and understood.
Marin tugged on Aiolia’s hand to get his attention. When he looked her way, Marin reached up and pecked him quickly on the cheek. “You go on ahead, okay? We will both meet you back at the infirmary,” Marin then placed a hand on his cheek.
Aiolia nodded and touched her hand before pulling away with a small bow of acknowledgment.
Shaina walked towards Marin but addressed Lia one last time. “Milo is there waiting for me, so you can talk to her while you wait.”
Aiolia then waved to both of them before making his exit.
Being alone with Shaina again, Marin seemed actually hesitant, but Shaina charged forward, grabbing Marin by the hand. They quickly returned to Shaina’s residence, only there did Shaina release her hand.
“Wait here,” Shaina said, Marin promptly plopping down on the couch.
For some reason, Marin was nervous. It was obvious what Shaina had wanted the last time they were together, but Shaina was always so hard for Marin to read. Marin did love Shaina, Shaina had been her closest friend for so long. But despite their closeness that soon blossomed into physical intimacy; Marin always felt that Shaina’s heart was out of her reach. And obviously, Marin’s heart had been distant from Shaina and Aiolia both, so perhaps that was only fair.
Perhaps it was hypocritical to want more than what she got.
Marin sat with her legs folded up into her chest, arms around her knees. Waiting patiently for Shaina to finish collecting her things.
“Marin,” Shaina’s voice jerked marin from her thoughts, causing her to stand up and walk towards her without thinking. Marin went towards her voice and wrapped her arms around Shaina, resting her face against Shaina’s shoulder.
“Is something wrong?” Shaina asked, rubbing Marin’s back soothingly.
“I had to tell Aiolia everything this morning, so now it’s your turn.”
Shaina frowned. “You don’t need to strain yourself,” Shaina however found her words suddenly cut off by Marin’s lips against hers. Shaina responded by digging her hands into Marin’s hip, letting out a little sigh before pulling away. “Marin,” Shaina said firmly.
Marin nudged the side of Shaina’s face, leaning in towards Shaina’s bedroom. Shaina however used her body weight and pushed Marin back out into the living room, sitting them both back down on the couch.
Shaina sat down, Marin slumping into the couch, mentally preparing herself to go through it all again.
“Wait,” Shaina said. “I think I can figure it out, you don’t need to stress yourself.”
Shaina pulled Marin’s face into her chest. As adamant as Marin was, there was little she could do with her face pressed against Shaina’s soft breasts. Marin rubbed her cheek into Shaina’s chest and relaxed into her familiar embrace.
Shaina explained everything she had deduced; about the pope’s manipulation; about the threats against seiya. Shaina now also knew about the Athena charade, and also about Marin’s proximity to Aphrodite’s violent fate.
“You got it…that’s exactly right,” Marin said. “It only makes sense though, I didn’t even let Aiolia see me like that…” Marin remarked, referring not only to that first night, but the other numerous nights that Shaina had found Marin and healed her wounds. Shaina, in a way, had been an accomplice in keeping things hidden from Aiolia.
Shaina brushed her hand through Marin’s hair. “I’m sorry for abandoning you, Marin. I should have stayed with you that night.” Shaina said.
Marin shook her head. “Nah, it’s okay, really” Marin said with a small smirk.
Shaina frowned, her fist clenching. “Even if it meant Aiolia confessed to you; he would have done that eventually.”
Marin pulled one arm tighter around Shaina’s back.“Ah, you figured that part out too.”
“Aphrodite told me, Actually.”
Marin gave a sheepish grin before rubbing her cheek back into Shaina’s chest.
“You deserved to know that I was there for you. I’m sorry.”
Marin then pushed herself up, leaning in so that her face was close to Shaina’s. “Look, the fact that you still stuck by me, even after Aiolia and I got together means the world to me.” Marin placed a hand on Shaina’s cheek.
Shaina gazed back at Marin for a long moment, her eyelids starting to droop. Despite the fact that Shaina had gotten her fill of Milo the night before, Shaina was still hungry. Not that Milo had in anyway been unsatisfying, Milo was the woman that Shaina loved the most. But Shaina had tried to sate her desires for Marin with Milo, and that hadn’t been quite right.
It was pointless to try and make Shaina choose, that had never been the issue. Her love for Milo and for Marin had never been in competition with one another. Marin and Shaina, quite frankly could never make it on their own as a couple. Their 7 years of misunderstandings was proof of that. But they still loved, cared for, and wanted one another.
Marin leaned in and kissed Shaina very gently. Marin knew that Aiolia wasn’t anywhere near ready to be intimate with her again yet, and so she wouldn’t force him. But if she fell back into Shaina’s arms, at least now there wouldn’t be any guilt left between them.
Shaina leaned in and deepened the kiss, wrapping an arm around Marin’s back. “Shaina,” Marin said, her voice a little husky. “How about you change into something more comfortable,” she said, running a hand down the lines of Shaina’s bodysuit. “I’ll even help you get undressed,” Marin offered, starting to massage Shaina’s breasts through her bodysuit.
Shaina let out a low moan, her cheeks tinging pink. Shaina reached back and unlatched the bodysuit, certainly not against being taken care of a little for once. Marin peeled back the thick material and watched as Shaina’s breasts bounced free. Marin didn’t waste a moment before indulging with her lips and hands. Shaina moaned again, her hands going to the back of Marin’s head.
Milo and Marin were completely different lovers in almost every conceivable way. Shaina counted herself beyond fortunate to be able to experience them both. Marin was perhaps, less refined; but she was honest in a very endearing way. Marin was somewhat simple; she didn’t have many specific or elaborate kinks. She just wanted who she wanted’ and she wanted them intensely and completely.
Marin’s lips attached to one of Shaina’s nipples as she groped the other. Shaina pressed one leg up between Marin’s thighs as Marin ground against Shaina’s other knee. Marin moaned into Shaina’s skin and Shaina held on tight.
Shaina wanted more, but she didn’t want to see Marin’s skin again, until all her wounds were fully healed. Shaina imagined that Aiolia felt the same way. Given Aiolia’s generally delicate heart, it was unlikely that Aiolia would be able to be physically intimate with Marin anytime soon. In the past he would sometimes go weeks unable to make love to her. His depression tended to wax and wane with the situations. Over time, small hurts would build up until he couldn’t hold himself aloft any longer, and he would simply collapse in on himself.
It had always been hard; and Marin did whatever she could. But she still had needs, and sometimes had needed comforting of her own.
As was the case now. Marin could not sate her desires with Aiolia; combined with the despair of having caused him so much suffering herself. Those feelings tangled together and welled up inside her; blossoming into a red kiss mark on Shaina’s soft skin.
Marin pulled the bodysuit down further, finding a few kiss marks, fresh from the night before. Marin kissed them and refreshed the marks with her teeth, Shaina giving a pleased response each time.
Shaina was receptive, needing desperately to be the one absorbing affections. She would need to apologize to Milo. She would need to make up for everything somehow. But Shaina knew above all that Milo would want her to be happy.
And for now, Shaina let Marin take care of her. Warmth and pleasure finally pushing out every last shadow of guilt.
Chapter 6: Stars Collide
Aiolia made his way back to the infirmary alone. He kept his pace brisk, as being alone with his thoughts in general was risky enough. He knew that Shaina and Marin needed to have their own talk, Aiolia hadn’t been the only one Marin had been forced to keep distant from.
When Aiolia entered, he made his way inside, only one destination on his mind. He walked through the receiving area and past the central lift. Only when the ICU area was right in front of him did he even notice that they weren’t alone.
There, standing by Aphrodite’s stasis tube, was Milo.
Aiolia couldn’t keep from letting out a sigh of relief. If Milo hadn’t been there already, there was no guarantee that he would have been able to make himself seek her out.
Milo gave him a warm look, her eyes darting behind him. “Is Marin not with you?”
Aiolia shook his head. “We met Shaina on the way and they—”
Milo gave a knowing smile. “That’s good to hear,” Milo then took a hold of Aiolia’s hand. Aiolia started but didn’t pull away. “The only one watching us is Dite,” Milo said in a low voice. “There’s no need to worry.”
Aiolia nodded, his grip tightening around Milo’s hand.
They stood there for a few moments, the only sounds around them of the machines and of the fluid bubbling in Aphrodite’s stasis tube.
“I do have some good news,” Milo offered. “Kyouko has stabilized and has been moved upstairs.”
Aiolia reacted with an expression of relief. “Really? that’s great news. How is Shouko?”
Milo paused briefly. “Honestly, she hasn’t been taking it well. This morning, she seemed to finally be at her limit,” Milo glanced to the side. “But oddly enough, she seemed to be getting along well with that bronze saint, Shun.”
Aiolia nodded. “That’s good to hear.” Aiolia’s first instinct was to go and try to comfort Shouko, but the last thing he wanted was to overwhelm her. He only hoped that the other saintias and now Shun it seemed could give her some kind of comfort. “I want to see her later,” Aiolia affirmed. “Please help me to remember.”
Milo nodded. “Of course,” Kyouko was dear to the both of them, and so she would not forget. “Now, Aiolia dear. I doubt you want to be here any longer than you have to.”
Aiolia didn’t respond. He knew that Marin was expecting to meet them here again, but Milo was right.
“I have a feeling that Marin and Shaina might take a while to join us. ”
Milo held Aiolia’s hand and squeezed it. “Just a short walk, how does that sound?”
Aiolia squeezed her hand in return and followed her back into the daylight.
They made their way from the infirmary, along the paved walkways, under arches, around the perimeter of the infirmary grounds. There was a garden, a fountain and a statue in the shadow of the spire. They walked around together, Milo keeping them to the shadows, as she knew he wouldn’t want to be seen from the Infirmary if possible.
Aiolia, despite the stress of the day before, he felt surprisingly refreshed. In truth he had been wanting to speak with Milo again since the rescue effort, and he was overjoyed to be with her again.
Aiolia turned to Milo, his brows furrowing. He had expected Milo to enquirer immediately about his own state, but something else seemed to be troubling her. “Milo, you seem…worried.” He stopped walking and grabbed Milo’s other hand while he faced her. “Is everything alright?”
Milo stared back at Aiolia, knowing that she couldn’t hide her feelings from him. “To be honest…I am quite worried, about Shaina,” she said with a sigh. “Shaina, similarly to you, had felt abandoned by Marin, as you might imagine.”
Aiolia nodded, leading the two of them to sit down on a bench, still out of view of the spire.
“She has thought, since you two got together, that Marin must not need her anymore.”
Aiolia winced. Despite him becoming Marin’s lover, he too had always been plagued by similar worries. Aiolia however pushed those feelings aside and instead focused on his friend. “Did something…happen between you two? After Marin and I left last night.” Aiolia asked.
Milo smirked. “You mean, did Shaina and I have sex last night?”
Aiolia blushed and nodded.
Milo lifted a hand and pinched his cheek affectionately. As mature as he had become, he would still be the same Aiolia she knew. “Yes, Shaina and I did become intimate last night,” Milo’s face however quickly fell. “I was…frankly unsettled, Aiolia. I am not a stranger to Shaina being the dominant one, and in truth I rather prefer it,” she took in a deep breath, still holding on to one of Aiolia’s hands.
“But?” Aiolia prompted gently.
Milo sighed. “I do think that she was rather frustrated in her desires for Marin. And in that moment, used me to try and sate that desire,” Milo sighed. “I have no problem with it, I wholly consented to our activities last night. But ironically, perhaps, I am more worried for how she may be affected by it.”
Aiolia scowled in concentration, taking a moment to unknit all of the implications therein.
Milo continued. “I do not mind being used,” Milo said with a smirk. “I just think it would be better if she could be honest about it,” Milo trailed off for a moment. “I think you and Shaina are quite similar in that regard, if not in many other ways as well. Perhaps you can see something I can’t”
Aiolia thought for a moment. While Aiolia had worried so much about what Marin had been hiding from him, in truth, there was also quite a lot that Aiolia had also kept hidden from Marin. Out of shame, and out of a misguided desire to make Marin happy over himself. “Well, if Shaina and I are as similar as you say,” Aiolia gave a small sheepish grin. “I would venture a guess that she feels ashamed, if it is something that she thinks she should be able to handle on her own.”
Aiolia himself unfortunately often hid his suffering from Marin, and had let things be pushed away. “The last thing Shaina would want, is for you to see her as weak,” Aiolia continued. “As silly as that might seem.”
“I don’t think it’s silly,” Milo replied. “Allowing oneself to be vulnerable, especially to your loved ones can be painful.” Milo lifted her hand to gently cup Aiolia’s cheek.
Aiolia nodded, the truth of that statement resonating deeply with him.
Milo looked into Aiolia’s eyes for a few long moments almost as if examining him. “Now tell me dear,” Milo continued. “Honestly, how are things going with Marin?”
Aiolia gave a small. “It wasn’t easy yesterday but…I think things are finally good between us,” he paused. “At the very least, I know what she had been up to this whole time.”
“That is wonderful to hear.” Milo is someone who knew Aiolia and Marin’s relationship perhaps even better than Aphrodite did. Aphrodite as their friend made sure they got together. while Milo was the one who helped them stay together. Aiolia had always seen Milo as a sister, and so very often went to her for advice.
Aiolia let his posture grow slack, as he leaning into Milo’s warmth. Milo had always been there, through every step and misstep of Aiolia’s life. Things indeed, had never been easy.
Milo gave a small smirk. “You have grown a lot Aiolia,” She said, nudging him with her shoulder. “You’ve come along way from when you first started dating Marin,”
Aiolia chuckled. “I would certainly hope so.”
“Do you remember, Milo, the first time I came to you for advice?”
Milo looked over at him. “Of course I do. There is no way I could forget it.” Poor Aiolia had been so scared, so unsure of himself. The prospect of physical intimacy with the woman he loved; it should have filled him with joy, but instead it terrified him.
Even so, Aiolia did still need the reminder, because it had taken him so long to even begin to grasp that concept in the first place. It had always been hard for Aiolia to shake the idea that he “owed” Marin certain things. That he owed her sex, in the ways she desired and preferred. Marin’s needs always having taken precedent over even his own comfort.
There was great truth to Milo’s words, and yet the memories still haunted him. Against his better judgement, Aiolia’s thoughts wandered back to that night so many years ago. It had been the night meant to be their “first time,” and Aiolia ruined it.
Aiolia loved more than anything to kiss Marin and hold her close. He loved the feeling of their bodies intertwined. He loved to hear her gasps and moans, and he also loved that his own reactions pleased Marin in return.
They went from kissing, to touching, to long embraces through the night. Aiolia learned how to please her with his fingers and his tongue; and relished in the feeling of her shuddering in ecstasy in his arms. He loved it. He loved her taste, her smell, and the feel of her skin. But marin, however, wanted even more.
“Aiolia,” she moaned, her legs clamped tightly around Aiolia’s waist. Their bodies were completely bare as he pressed her into the bed, only his body weight keeping her down. Aiolia was lost in the sensation of her soft breasts and her firm muscles; her legs and arms feeling as powerful as vices.
Marin rubbed her wetness against Aiolia’s abs, letting out please moans. Aiolia moved back against her, his hands tangled in her hair.
“I want you—I want you inside me—” she was breathless, sounding desperate. And before Aiolia knew it, Marin had grabbed his shoulders and was pulling him up along her body. Within moments, he too was moaning wordlessly, feeling her slick vulva press against his shaft. Aiolia’s hips shuddered, the sensations overwhelming him. His hands knotted in the sheets on either side of Marin’s head. Aiolia couldn’t see her face, but he could feel her breath against his ear.
“Take me, Aiolia— Make me yours,” Marin’s hips grew more aggressive, as if searching for something.
It took Aiolia a few moments to process, but when he did, the spell of intoxication was suddenly broken. He felt something start to enclose around the head, and something deep inside him screamed back in protest. He pulled away, staring down at her, his expression surely of deep distress, because he saw that confusion and worry reflected in Marin’s eyes.
“Aiolia, my love what’s wrong?” Marin reached for Aiolia’s face but he slapped her hand away, his expression wild.
“I’m sorry…Marin I’m so sorry—” He stammered, his chest wracked with shame and worry. “I can’t—I have to go, I—”
He pulled his hips away and pushed himself up, throwing himself off of Marin as quickly as he could.
“Aiolia?!” Marin tried to go to him but Aiolia shrunk away, rising to his feet and staggering away. Marin stood up as well but didn’t approach him. She had no idea what she could have possibly done wrong, but that didn’t change how distressed Aiolia looked.
“I’m sorry…did I go to fast?” She ventured, her voice already filling with worry. Aiolia was faced away from her, arms wrapped tightly around himself, his breathing still coming heavy. “I should have asked you ahead of time,” she continued. “I really should have,” Aiolia had been hesitant and cautious about sex from the very beginning. “I’m so sorry, you just seemed so into it this time—” she paused. “I was…happy. I was happy that you seemed to be finally enjoying yourself, but I took it too far.”
Marin took a cautious step towards him. “Aiolia, please just tell me what’s wrong. I won’t know unless you tell me.”
Aiolia gazed back at marin, eyes starting to fill with tears. “I’m sorry Marin…I can’t I—” He let out a shuddering sob. “I don’t think I can be the man you want me to be.”
“What is this about, Aiolia? Tell me what I did wrong.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s me, there must be something wrong with me.”
“Please tell me what you mean, Aiolia—”
“I just—” He turned back towards her, his eyes still downcast. “I don’t know why, but I got scared. When you tried to take me inside—I just…freaked out.”
Marin took a few steps towards him and placed her hands on his crossed arms. “It’s okay, you can tell me.”
Aiolia ventured a glance up at her. “You aren’t…mad at me?”
“Why on earth would I be?”
“I just…stopped us in the middle, even though…you’ve been wanting this for a long time.”
Marin pressed her lips together. “What I want doesn’t matter, if what I want would end up hurting you.” Marin placed a hand on Aiolia’s tearstained cheek. “Just tell me what to do. If you don’t like that kind of dirty talk, I won’t do it. If you don’t want to take me like that, I won’t force you.”
Aiolia met her eyes at last, more tears falling from his eyes. Aiolia placed one hand over Marin’s and leaned into her touch. Marin then pulled him closer, wrapping her other arm around his shoulder.
Aiolia fell into Marin’s embrace, his arms wrapping tightly around her back. Where words failed him, he hoped that his actions could get his feelings across. Marin guided them back to the bed, her hands gently on his arm and back. She laid him down and then curled up next to him, pulling their bodies close as he calmed down.
Aiolia’s eyes drifted closed and he let out a long sigh. Marin caressed his cheek and ran her fingers through his soft hair. “Take your time, love. We can stop tonight if you need to. ”
Aiolia shook his head. “No it’s okay. I am a man after all, I should want this.”
Marin frowned. “I don’t want you to be a ‘man’, Aiolia. I want you to be yourself,” she said, taking a hold of one of his hands. “And honestly, the whole deal doesn’t fit you, if i’m being honest,” Marin said with a small bitter smile. “I’m sorry, I should have known better than expect that of you.”
Aiolia nudged his face closer and rested his forehead against her. “But, I want to make you happy, I want to make you feel good.”
“And that you do, my love,” Marin said, her breath brushing against his lips. “Honestly, it’s just a sexual fantasy of mine. I think it would be fun to be railed into the bed in a fit of passion; it’s thrilling, it feels nice to feel wanted like that,” Marin paused, searching his face to see if she should continue. “But really, I should have known better. It’s my bad and I apologize.”
Aiolia’s lips began to quiver as he struggled with what Marin said.
“Aiolia,” Marin whispered. “If you want to continue tonight, tell me what you want to do with me.”
Aiolia took in a little gasp and nuzzled her face with his nose. “I want—” he paused, thinking. “I just…I’ve only even bottomed before,” he said, his eyes squeezing shut in embarrassment.
“And? Did you enjoy it?”
“Yeah…” he said softly. He knew that Marin wouldn’t mind talking about his other relationship, but Aiolia couldn’t help but still feel a little sheepish.
“So you’re scared that you wouldn’t do it right?” Marin asked, running her hand down from his face to his chest.
“I’m worried that I would…hurt you.”
Marin let out a dry huff that was almost a laugh. “Ah—sorry. I’m not laughing at you, just—” Marin very gently pressed on Aiolia’s shoulder, leaning him on his back. “Trust me, I can take it.”
Marin pulled her face into Aiolia’s chest. “Please, don’t leave me in the dark, when it comes to your heart. I want you, Aiolia.” Marin, very cautiously angled her chin towards Aiolia, asking for a gentle kiss. He answered her in affirmation and pressed his lips back against hers.
“Marin,” he sighed, wrapping an arm around her waist As she pulled herself on top of him.
“Do you want to stop for tonight?” Marin asked gently against his skin.
He gazed up at her for a moment and then nodded slowly. Marin cupped his face with both hands and stared him down. “It’s okay, there will be a next time, we can try again.”
Aiolia nodded again, pulling marin close and pressing his face against her neck.
Even if the guilt still threatened to overwhelm him, he was happy in that moment. He was overjoyed that Marin understood, that she wasn’t angry with him, and would still love him. That, Aiolia could be sure of.
Aiolia and Milo made their way from the infirmary area back to the residences. They kept their hands connected until they were right at the door of Shaina’s residence.
Before Aiolia touched the door however, his arm stopped suddenly in mid air. His ears perked up as he heard a sound far too familiar to him
“Oh no, we came back too soon…” Aiolia muttered, about to turn around when he heard Marin cry out in excstasy in the way he knew meant that she was spent.
Milo gave a small smirk. “I dare say we arrived just in time.”
“We should give them more privacy,” Aiolia said, his face downcast with his cheeks flushed.
“They undoubtedly will be able to sense our presence. I suggest we just wait until we are summoned.”
Aiolia gave Milo a dissatisfied look but stood there by the door patiently, regardless.
Sure enough, after a few somewhat tense minutes, the door opened up in front of them.
It was Shaina, dressed now in her casual clothes. She gave Aiolia a somewhat lingering look before walking past him and all but shoving him inside.
Aiolia stumbled into Shaina’s residence, the door slamming shut behind him. On the couch in front of him lay Marin. She was covered in her loose dress, but only barely. She looked already completely serene, as she often did after climax.
Although Aiolia still felt like he was invading her privacy; he could not keep himself from going to her. Aiolia sat down on the couch and drew Marin’s head to rest on his lap. He was ready to wait there until she woke up, his hands tracing lazily though her hair.
“Aiolia…” Marin muttered, nuzzling her face into his thighs. Aiolia started, watching her intently to see if she was fully responsive yet. Marin slowly opened her eyes, her red irises still as striking as they always were. “Aiolia?” She asked finally, staring up at him with a rather cute and dazed expression on her face.
Aiolia smiled down at her warmly, cupping her cheek. “Hello dear, how did things go with Shaina?”
“Uh…quite well,” she began to push herself up into a sitting position; clinging to Aiolia for support the whole time. She blinked and met his gaze, resting a hand on his chest.
“You look quite satisfied,” Aiolia said, managing to keep the building sadness from his smile at that moment.
Marin gave a cheeky grin, pressing her face into Aiolia’s chest. “And all the happier now that you’re here.”
Aiolia leaned back onto the arm of the sofa, letting marin rest up against his chest. Her hands dug into his clothes, just a little harder than was platonic; but not quite sexual. She was clearly still feeling the afterglow of being with Shaina and was appropriately clingy.
But despite her happiness, a prick of pain went up his spine, and he found an apology flooding from his lips.“I’m sorry Marin.”
“Huh? For what?”
“I…” He bit his lip, even if he knew it was unnecessary, it was still so hard for him to resist the pull of guilt. “I’m…not gonna be able to do anything like that with you for…a while I think,” he said slowly, pulling his arms around Marin’s back. “So I’m sorry. I wanted to last night but—”
“I know,” Marin replied. “I know Aiolia, and please believe me,” she pulled herself up and placed a hand on his cheek. “It really is fine.”
“I know,” Aiolia said sheepishly, unable to meet her eyes. “You keep telling me this and I—”
“I’ll keep telling you as many times as I need to,” Marin’s gaze was unwavering and Aiolia finally glanced back her way.
The memories of their first attempt honestly still haunted him. It was hard to shake, even when they had spent so many more wonderful nights together since that time.
Aiolia always wanted more than anything to please her and to make her happy. But perhaps the fact that his love of her had never been about sex, perhaps that is what got in the way. But that fact was certainly nothing to be ashamed of. While Aiolia had difficulty seeing Marin sexually, that meant that he would never hurt her.
Aiolia was sexually attracted to Marin, that was never the issue. But it was the persistent idea that he had no right to use her body for his own pleasure that held him back. It was something that deeply troubled him and was so hard for him to fully get past.
But he loved Marin, he loved her so deeply and completely, that there were some things that he was able to put up with for her sake.
Marin seemed like she wasn’t ready to do much else besides nap for the immediate future, and so he let her. She curled up in his arms, letting out a pleased sigh that Aiolia echoed.
Those memories that haunted him however, they soon enough gave way to much more pleasant ones. Although, days after that night, Marin was called away on another mission, that just meant that the next time they saw each other they were even more impassioned.
Marin returned in the night, crawling up into Aiolia’s bed and wrapping her arms around him.
“Marin!” Aiolia managed to gasp before her lips were against his. He could feel her grip tight in his clothes. Her hands trembled and her hips were quivering. She was absolutely brimming with desire, and yet, she was holding herself back.
“Aiolia…” Marin sighed. “I’m back.”
Aiolia smiled and stroked the side of her face. “I am so happy to see you, my love…” Aiolia then nudged one of his knees between her thighs, cause her to let out a surprised gasp. “Tonight, I am all yours.”
When they were both removed of their clothes and thoroughly aroused, Aiolia sat back against the headboard with Marin perched in his lap. Marin had cushioned his head and back with pillows, making sure he was fully comfortable. Aiolia’s eyes were completely locked with Marin’s, his expression one of complete adoration.
“Marin—” he sighed, already close to losing himself in her touch.
Marin began slowly gyrating her hips against him, watching his face closely until they found their rhythm. Aiolia let out soft moans, his hands resting on her lower back. Marin, despite her intense caution in the build-up, was feeling far more confident now. Aiolia seemed to be far more receptive to this position, his face and voice telling her as much. His erection was nestled comfortably up along her vulva, the head brushing against her clit in a slow, regular rhythm.
Marin didn’t make any requests of him, she mostly only moaned his name. While her mind was full of how badly she wanted him inside her, she kept it locked down for the moment. It felt so good to be this close to him, to feel his desire meld with hers. This was the Aiolia that she fell in love with, gentle and soft. His face was flushed pink, his mouth hanging open as he desperately tried to keep his eyes open. Marin too, didn’t want to miss even a moment of his beautiful expressions.
“Marin…” he said, pulling away enough to catch his breath. “I want to….I want to try it,” he said, meeting her eyes.
Marin started back at him, daring to hope. “Please, be more specific, my love.”
He swallowed before continuing, his fingers digging into her rear. “I want to…try going inside you.”
Marin’s face somehow flushed even more, her breathing becoming suddenly far quicker.
Aiolia glanced away in embarrassment, jerking his hips against her briefly. “I like…this position. I can see your face, and I can hold you,” he swallowed again. “I can kiss you, too.” He took in a deep breath. “I want to try it…you riding me.”
“Are you sure?” Marin placed both hands on his face and met his gaze very seriously.
Aiolia nodded, placing one hand over hers. “I might not want to…cum inside…”
“You know I can’t get pregnant, right?”
Aiolia nodded. “I know I just,” he grimaced. “I can sometimes lose control there at the very end…I don’t—”
Marin quickly nuzzled her face against his, letting out a soothing shush. “It’s alright my love forget I said it.” Marin pushed away her own fantasies and focused only on Aiolia, the person she loved the most. “You want to try right now?”
Aiolia nodded, his breathing still heavy as he stared back at her. “I love you…Marin…I want you. I want you so badly,” his voice was close to a whine.
Marin leaned in a gave him another kiss while she slid her hips up along Aiolia’s shaft. Aiolia’s breath caught in his throat and he clung onto Marin as desperately as he could.Marin reached down and grabbed Aiolia’s shaft and guided it to press the head into her entrance. Aiolia let out a moan close to a growl, his eyes squeezing shut.
“Can I keep going?” Marin asked, pressing her forehead to Aiolia’s.
Aiolia nodded vigorously. “Please—Marin—”
Marin then took in the rest of his cock with ease, letting out a loud satisfied grunt from the sensation. Aiolia wailed, drool leaking from the corner of his mouth as he seemed to see stars.
“Marin—Marin!!” It was so overwhelming, but it felt perfect. Marin was there in his arms, he could feel her skin and her breath. He could feel—all of her; her wet, welcoming walls; her thighs clamped around his waist.
Marin clenched her pelvic muscles and Aiolia was sucked in even deeper. Aiolia could barely even move, or think. He wasn’t thinking about what body part was inside her, or how; all that registered was that he was as close to becoming one with his beloved as was physically possible.
Marin couldn’t help but smile and let out a breathy laugh; she stroked the side of his face, so relieved to see him this happy. “I love you, Aiolia,” Marin said, her voice on the edge of tears.
Marin then began to grind again, kissing him once more for good measure. She dragged his moans from his lips with every stroke of her hips, keeping her pace slow and regular.
“Can I go faster?” She asked, pausing her strokes to let him collect himself. He nodded. Despite the overwhelming emotions, he seemed to be getting used to the physical sensation as they proceeded.
“Wait…Aiolia,” Marin asked. “Am I…your first, that you have been inside of?”
Aiolia glanced away for a moment but nodded all the same.
“My love you don’t have to be embarrassed!” Marin said, cupping the sides of his face. “I’m honored. It makes sense why you were so afraid. Again, I’m sorry for pushing you.”
Aiolia met her gaze while suddenly clamping his hands down on her hips. “Please…just take me now, Marin—”
Something about the desperation and desire in his face made marin’s mind go blank for a moment. A shock of warmth filled her abdomen and her hips started to increase their pace. Marin leaned in, propping herself up on her knees enough to start bobbing herself up and down the full length of Aiolia’s cock. Aiolia held onto her desperately, jerking his hips up to meet her as much as he could.
“Yes! Just like that— right there!! Aiolia!” Marin felt her g-spot be stroked with every dip of her hips, the motion sending pleasure throughout her pelvis; her clitoris lighting up with sensation from the roots to the head.
Her orgasm was close, and so too was Aiolia’s. But in all honesty that hardly seemed to matter; all that mattered was that they had found understanding. They had been able to come together in intimacy, and truly become one with one another.
The door to Shaina’s residence then suddenly opened, jerking both Aiolia and Marin to their senses.
“Ah,” Milo said with a smirk. “I hope we didn’t disturb you.”
“No it’s alright, this isn’t even our place.” Aiolia replied.
“You’re as welcome here as we are,” Shaina said as she walked past where Aiolia and Marin sat. Although her tone was rather harsh, the message was warmer than Aiolia expected.
“Ah, thank you, Shaina.” Marin pushed herself up from Aiolia’s embrace and shook her head to wake herself up.
“Honestly, I better get going sooner or later.”
Aiolia blinked. “Going? Where?” Aiolia watched her in continued puzzlement as she stood up and started to stretch.
“Back to the infirmary,” she said pointedly, looking back at Aiolia. “I’ve been putting it off long enough.”
“It’s barely been half a day!” Aiolia protested, getting up after her as Marin headed for the door.
Milo gave a light chuckle, Waiting for Shaina to collect her things so that all four of them could depart. “It seems like Marin had a swift recovery. As headstrong as ever.”
Aiolia gave a desperate glance back at Milo, who gave aiolia a warm smile. “We will be right behind you, don’t wait up for us.”
Aiolia nodded and then closed the door after him as he left.
Milo let out a long sigh, not alone for much longer as Shaina returned to her. Shaina slid up to Milo’s side and gave her a light kiss on the cheek. Milo turned, gently cupping Shaina’s cheek and pulling her lips into a kiss.
Shaina kept looking down after pulling away, reaching down to take Milo’s hand. Milo regarded her warmly still.
Shaina and Aiolia were quite alike in many ways; and this way in particular. No matter how much Milo had insisted that Shaina did nothing wrong, Shaina was still weighed down by guilt. Milo’s only option was to stay with her until the despair finally let her go.
“Shall we go?”
Shaina nodded, nudging Milo’s shoulder affectionately before moving towards the door
Chapter 7: The Soft Voices Die
Shouko, along with the other saintias who came to help had slept there in the infirmary. There were plenty of beds and staff rooms for anyone who wanted privacy. Shouko had all but passed out on one of the now empty beds near the south-facing area of the circle room. She only awoke due to the growing commotion around her, shaking off her drowsiness as the world came back into focus.
A cheerful voice came from her right, and she turned to see none other than the ever-friendly Shun sitting cross-legend on the bed next to her.
Shouko stared back at him, not entirely sure how to react, as she was still not entirely sure why Shun had seemed to attach himself to her. If what he wanted was information, someone like Mii or Katya would be way better to ask. If he wanted friendly company, Xiao-Ling or Elda would be much more fun; Shouko thought, and yet, Shun was trailing after her.
“Are you feeling okay? Did you sleep well?” Shun asked while Shouko rubbed her face in a continual effort to wake herself up.
“I’m…fine,” she muttered, staring blankly at her hands as she struggled to put together the memories of her dreams. There wasn’t much there. Just a lot of vague terrified feelings. There was this vague empty feeling of worry that she couldn’t quite see the to shake. And she suspected that the feeling would remain as long as her sister was still in critical condition.
Shouko pushed herself up from the bed, there wasn’t much time to waste, she had to get moving again. Shouko stood up and wandered over to the rounds cart and picked up her tablet, mindlessly starting to page through patient information without much sinking in.
“Can I help?” Shun asked, leaning in over her shoulder.
Shouko shook herself to try get herself together enough to even ask for help. “I need to check in with the patients assigned to me, and mark down if they can be discharged.”
“How do we know that?”
Shouko pointed to a medical scanner that still waited on the cart. “I just need to do a general scan, and if it passes a 90% threshold, they can leave.” Shouko was just repeating the training that Shaina had drilled into her head several years ago, it all being second nature to her now.
“If you want, since you’re the trained one. How about you perform the scans, while I go through the patient information for you?”
Shouko blinked, her drowsiness starting to finally lift as she looked at Shun’s genuinely kind smile.
“Yeah, that seems fine,” she said, glancing around to see that several other saintias had paired up to do the exact same thing. Why Shouko hadn’t thought to do the same was beyond her.
Shouko handed the tablet to Shun and picked up the medical scanner and they got to work.
Part way into their first patient however, Shun’s attention again began to wander.
“I noticed that Milo was the last to go into the Spire last night,” he said rather casually. Shouko was mostly ignoring him as she scanned the still-unconscious female saint in the bed before them.
Shun continued, his gaze split between the tablet, the female saint and the yet-unmoving central lift. “I don’t think miss Milo got any injuries, and yet she’s been up there the whole time. I though miss Shaina only brought critical patients up there.”
“Yeah but she also brings her lovers up there too,” Shouko said without thinking which she immediately regretted.
Next to them, seeing to another patient was Elda and Katya. Elda holding the tablet while Katya performed her medical scans. Elda was unabashedly listening in on their conversation and gave Shun a grin. “So you noticed huh? It’s pretty obvious, everyone in the medical units knew about them for years.”
“Oh?” Shun asked, turning to Elda with great interest.
“Yeah, the Healer and Lady Milo are totally an item!” Elda said with a mischievous grin.
Katya gave a light scoff after finishing one of her scans. “Anyone could have deduced that, Elda. Milo wasn’t hurt and yet she’s been up there all night.”
Elda frowned slightly, giving Katya a gentle nudge with her hip, a gesture that Katya returned with a suprisingly affectiona caress on her arm. Elda did her best to remain composed, but a very obvious blush appeared on her cheeks.
A grin formed on Shun’s lips as he turned his attention back to Shouko and their patient. “I’ll admit, I assumed the sanctuary to be a cold and cruel place. But there’s a suprising amount of love and life here, isn’t there?”
Katya gave Shun a brief and furtive look. “Perhaps the reality of that cold cruelty is what caused such relationships to form in such quantities.”
“That is a fair point,” Shun replied with a friendly grin.
Elda and Katya continued to focus on their patient and Shun returned to his own. Shouko had remained quite silent, perhaps grateful that Elda and Katya had stepped in to answer Shun’s questions. Shun then considered that perhaps more than exhaustion was weighing down the typically lively shouko, and decided to pull back a bit.
Shouko finished a very extensive deep-tissue scan and turned back to Shun while not meeting his eyes. “Abdomen has sustained internal damage; no sign of internal bleeding, but significant tissue bruising is present.” Shouko then continued to list off the values that Shun needed to take down as she went through each region of the abdomen. They had been making their way down the body and were through most of the vital organs.
Their patient was a bronze saint, just like Shun himself was. She seemed familiar, although Shun couldn’t quite be sure. He had trained alongside many others back on earth, but he couldn’t be sure if this was the same person he remembered. Much of his training had been brief and in such secret.
Shouko furrowed her brows. “She should be able to wake up, but she’s still just deeply asleep at the moment.
Shun got an idea. If Genet was indeed who he thought she was, then there was no harm in trying. Shun crouched down, his face furrowing in concentration as he seemed to be focusing on her ear.
“Shun? What are you doing?”
Shun then blew a quick burst of air onto Genet’s earlobe; which to everyone’s surprised caused her to immediately jerk upright with a gasp.
Shouko let out a surprised yelp, nearly dropping her scanner while Shun pulled back with a satisfied chuckle.
Genet then looked around wildly until her eyes landed directly on Shun.
“Shun?!” She asked, all other questions leaving her as sudden recognition filled her face.
Shun then smiled brightly as the memories started to come back to him. “Ah, of course! I thought I recognized you!”
Genet frowned. “It’s been a long time so I’m not shocked you forgot me.” Genet turned away from him, seeming to get ready to stand from her bed.
“Of course I remember you!” He said hastily, reaching out a hand to try and keep her in bed. “But in all seriousness, you need to stay in bed still, we haven’t finished the examination.”
Genet frowned, seeming annoyed at how she was woken up, perhaps, but layed herself back down nonetheless.
Elda suppressed an amused chuckle from next to them while they all continued their work. Shouko however, seemed slightly less tense than before. Seeing her patient awake and conscious being very good news. But, Shouko’s overall rather dour temperament remained unchanged.
When Genet’s examination was completed, it was determined that she would have to stay for at least another day while the internal damage healed.
“Don’t worry,” Shun said with a grin. “I’ll be here the whole time until you recover!”
Genet gave him a displeased look while Shouko however suddenly got to her feet, staggering towards the central lift. The car was on it’s way up from the first floor and Shouko immediately went over to greet whoever would emerge.
Form inside the lift first emerged Mii, her expression unreadable; but from behind her came a hovering gurney.
“Neesan!” Shouko bellowed, immediately going to her sister’s side without a second thought.
Mii regarded Shouko with an expression leaning slightly towards sympathy. “She’s stable, but still unconscious,” Mii informed. “I’ll add her to you patient list.”
“We will take one of hers to make room,” Elda and Katya had stood up, walking just behind where Shouko and Mii were gathered by the lift.
Mii nodded at them and lifted her tablet to make the change. “I see that Horologium Aludra has just been cleared for discharge and so I can move one of Shouko’s patients promptly into your care.”
Elda and Katya nodded and returned back to where their patient was preparing to leave. Mii brought Kyouko over to the now empty bed and along with Shouko got her situated.
While Mii and Shouko attended to Kyouko, and Elda and Katya moved onto their next patient; Shun remained by the lift. He noticed that instead of returning to the first floor, the lift then went up to the Spire room, which it had not done since Milo had ascended the night before.
Sure enough, within a few moments, the lift came back down and the door opened. Shun did his best to seem casual, but his interest had already been made quite obvious before. Milo and Shaina exited the lift together, not bothering to hide it. Shun admired that brashness, and while he deeply wanted to know more; he also was able to read the situation.
While they left together, Shaina was very stiff and faced away from Milo. Milo was relaxed, her eyes lingering on Shaina in very obvious concern. Milo made a move to touch Shaina’s shoulder, but Shaina all but recoiled, going back into the lift and heading down to the first floor. Milo stood there for a few moments, her expression unreadable.
“Aren’t you going to go after her?” Shun asked.
Milo blinked and turned towards Shun. She gave him a look of mild surprise before replying. “No, not now. Shaina has her own matters to attend to.” Although Milo was an expert at hiding her emotions when necessary, there was a sudden sad flash across her face.
Milo walked past Shun to where Shouko knelt besides Kyouko. Milo stood at the end of the bed, and Shun went to stand next to her.
Shouko had spoken with great sadness about her sister when first mentioning her to Shun; and now all of that worry and weight was unable to be contained. Shun took a moment to glance back at the far corner where his own brother was still sleeping in from the morning. Shun was honestly shocked that Ikki was still around so long. Perhaps Shun had taken it for granted that Ikki would leave again, and as such hadn’t bothered trying to talk to him any more.
While Kyouko was being tended to, Genet in the next bed over seemed to take that as an opportunity to sneak out of bed like she had wanted to. Shun then took her as an excuse to accompany her and further avoid trying to talk to Ikki.
“Is everything alright with you and miss Shaina?” Shouko asked, only briefly glancing at Milo, her attention still largely focused on her sister. Mii was conducting the intake scan and hooking up Kyouko to the various monitoring devices. Shouko, understandably only seemed able to hold her sister’s hand.
Milo let out a measured sigh. “Shaina has a lot on her mind.” Milo’s eyes flashed over to where Shun was, her gaze wary.
Shun offered Genet a hand that she accepted, still needing some help to walk. Shun then slung Genet’s arm over his shoulders and helped her walk out to the terrace for some fresh air.
Shun seemed to have taken to the infirmary’s veranda. The view was unchanged but the sunlight made the world sparkle in a whole new spectrum.
Genet however, still seemed rather cold to Shun, and despite Shun’s usual sharp instincts, he was completely in the dark as to why. It was very likely that whatever she was upset about had nothing to do with him.
He leaned on the railing, looking out at the surrounding gardens, not expecting to see much. But, beyond any of his expectations, he actually glimpsed Aiolia and Milo walking hand in hand just for a moment.
A grin spread across his face, speculation as to their relationship quickly shoving out any other thought in his head.
That moment of escape however was interrupted by the sound of the balcony door sliding open behind him.
Shun started, and despite his best efforts wasn’t able to recollect himself before Genet marched out next to him on the balcony.
“Genet—to what do I owe the plea—”
“Save it,” Genet almost barked. “I’m not in the mood for that right now.”
“Noted,” Shun said with a quick nod, looking back out on the gardens.
“Do you really not remember me?” Genet asked, not sounding particularly offended, but still upset.
Shun paused before answering. “To be honest, you’re one of the only people I really remember from my training days,” Shun said, his gaze falling to the middle distance. “And you even disappeared part way through,” he gave her a rather strained smile. If anything, Shun was the one who should be more bitter towards Genet, and perhaps that is what annoyed Genet.
“I didn’t have a choice, you know. I’m older than you, my training was done faster.”
“I know,” Shun said, still not meeting Genet’s gaze.
“And that’s the same for your brother too, you know that, right?”
Shun started again giving Genet a rather surprised look.
“Look, even an idiot can tell that you’re avoiding him.”
Shun giggled. “Well, I don’t think Seiya has noticed.”
“He has.” Genet replied, curtly.
”As you can tell, I’m not exactly in the mood for wasting time today.”
Shun gave Genet a long look, taking a moment to think. “Genet, can you tell me a bit about...what happened to you today? Only if you want to.”
Genet looked back at him, her face now bordering on curiosity. “You do realize that I only just woke up right? I have no idea why you’re even here to begin with.”
Shun gave a nervous laugh. “Ah that’s fair.” Shun took the hint and instead of pressing further, he instead caught her up to speed on everything from his end.
Genet’s face melted into a smile that was much more familiar to Shun than her earlier scowls. “In the end, your brother still came through, huh?”
Shun shrugged. “I mean, sure I suppose.”
”But I bet you just expect him to leave again,” it wasn’t a question, but a statement, and Shun didn’t want to reply.
Genet reached out a hand and placed it on Shun’s back. “At the very least, you need to talk to him.”
”Yes, I’ll do that eventually,” Shun gave a smirk, glancing back through the windows behind them. Ikki was in fact awake, and was now receiving his physical from Elda and Katya.
Against Shun’s better judgement, he kept watching; for what, he didn’t know. Maybe he was looking for some kind of sign; some indication that Ikki wasn’t just going to leave again. But ikki was like a blank slate. There was nothing, no body language or signal that Shun could pick up on. Ikki had always been like that, infuriatingly, a mystery to Shun. Even when they were each other’s only family; even when they were supposed to know each other the best. Ikki was always just out of his reach.
While the four of them made their way back to the infirmary; Shun was still musing on the infirmary’s veranda, at this point, being somewhat stubborn. Genet had given up on the idea of trying to convince him, as obviously, there was much more there that she was yet unable to understand.
Genet let out a sigh, forcing herself to let go of the last bit of strain from the battle the day before. “Well, I figure I should say this at least,” she then turned towards Shun, Shun only giving her a rather vacant look in reply. “I am glad to see you again. Even if the circumstances are, frankly, the worst they could be for a reunion.”
Shun gave a very dry laugh, his mouth barely moving towards anything resembling a smile. “Thank you, I appreciate that.”
Genet kept watching as Shun’s expression mysteriously seemed to be drifting further towards darkness. Genet then decided to grasp at whatever topic change was even remotely possible.
“So, you were helping Shouko earlier huh? Did the Saintias ask you guys for help?”
Shun’s expression suddenly shifted to one of polite engagement. “The saintias seemed a bit overwhelmed so I figured I’d help! Better than just sitting around or wandering around a place I’m not familiar with.”
Genet nodded, still keeping a very careful eye on Shun’s overall behavior. Despite having just woken up from unconsciousness, Genet had been very carefully observing her surroundings. It wasn’t hard to see that while Shun was already very quickly comfortable with Shouko, Shun was still very pointedly avoiding his own brother.
“You seemed like you were getting along with Shouko already,” Genet commented. “Although gettting along with people has always been a bit of a talent of yours.”
Shun gave a short laugh. “I am just very interested in people. And just about everyone appreciates when someone takes an interest in them.”
Genet gave Shun a small smirk before continuing. “So you know about Kyouko and Shouko being siblings already, I presume?”
Shun nodded. “Yeah! She’s told me as much. Really seems to look up to her.”
“Do you know why Kyouko is the way she is right now?”
Shun faltered. “I’ll admit that I am less clear on that. All I know is that she facilitated the Saintias’ evacuation.”
“That is true,” Genet allowed. “If you want, I’ll let you in on what happened. You’ll even get to know a bit of what happened to me.”
While the atmosphere in popes hall and Athena’s sanctum had always been tense and dour, things became far more dire in the days leading up to the attack.
Genet, for many years had been one of the saints assigned to guard and observe Saintia trainees, and as such she was often privy to the inner circle of the saintias and their movements. More often than not, Genet had been instrumental in making sure that certain information never left those very circles.
Saintias, from their childhood are sworn to defend Athena with their body and soul. Olivia, the leader 16 years ago, had done that very thing; and as such, Kyouko, her eldest daughter, was more than prepared to do the same. Unfortunately, without regard for how that might affect those around her, especially her very own sister, Shouko.
Kyouko did what she had to do, lending aid to the Graad foundation how she could; and protecting the Saintias so that when Athena finally returned, she would have her loyal servants there to greet her.
Genet explained to Shun how Kyoko had commanded them all flawlessly. While the pope was distracted by the attack, she used all her strength to break the Pope’s barriers and got every single Saintia out alive.
Genet gave a bitter smile. “Except for Marin. We had to leave her behind.”
Shun leaned in, his interest growing. “I gathered that much, but why? Was there something special with Marin?”
Genet blinked. “You know her too?”
Shun smiled. “Yes, I also spoke with her yesterday. She’s seiya’s older sister after all.”
Genet continued to stare back at him, looking bewildered. “You mean Marin is okay?”
Shun nodded. “Yes! I saw her a little after she was pulled from the wreckage. She was with Aiolia and so I know she’s being taken care of well.”
Genet gave a bemused grin. “Very much like you to already be sussing out all the hot couples here at sanctuary.”
Shun gave her a mischievous wink and Genet sighed before continuing. “But yeah, Marin was at the center of everything actually Everything that we were unable to stop,” Genet paused, grimacing. “Marin, this whole time had be forced under the evil Pope’s thumb. As I understand it, Saga figured out that she was sneaking out to see seiya, and he used that to make her his pawn.”
Shun’s mouth then formed a small ‘o’ or realization. It all made sense; why Marin left him, why Marin was so resistant to talk about why.
“We couldn’t get to her. We would have to go to the pope directly, and that would risk alerting him to our escape.” The decision to leave Marin behind still clearly weighing heavily.
Shun took that moment to reach out and gently take Genet’s hand. “Hey, it’s alright. Marin is safe now!”
“I am really glad about that,” Genet said with a sigh. “Once I’m recovered though, I’ll be leaving here as soon as I can.”
“Do you have somewhere to be?”
“Yeah, I gotta report back to captain Mayura. And namely, to Athena i have to know she’s al right.”
Shun’s expression lit up as the name Mayura rang a bell. “Ah, yes! Pavo Mayura, right? I remember her. She called herself the captain of the Saintias,” Shun smiled. “Don’t worry. I was there when Mayura took Saori into her care.”
Genet gave a relieved smile. “That is great to hear,” she paused. “I imagine Mii will return to her side soon too. All the Saintias will.”
Shun glanced back into the infirmary where the Saintias were still working diligently. The commotion from Kyouko’s appearance seeming to have calmed down, Shun had a mind to return back inside.
“What do you say we head back in?” Shun suggested, ignoring Genet’s suspicious look and leading her back through the glad door.
Inside, Shun looked around. Ikki was sitting up straight in his bed where he had been since they were all brought there the day before. As before, he was unreadable and seemed almost unapproachable.
Seiya was awake and was doing his best to be useful, holding a tablet for Xiao-Ling as Shun had done for Shouko earlier. Shun smiled, glad to see that the others seemed to be recovering well. Shiryu and Hyoga were also awake and receiving their exams, and from the looks of it they would soon be released themselves.
While Ikki was still being examined, Shun figured that it would be best not to interfere.
He turned sharply from his brother and walked back over to check on Shouko.
Despite it still being quite early in the day, the poor girl was out cold. She was knelt by her sister’s bedside with her head and arms on the bed, fast asleep. It was obvious that Shun wanted to do something, but before Shun could act, Genet had marched up from behind him.
Genet didn’t hesitate and took Shouko into her arms, placing her on the now empty bed next to her sister.
Shun didn’t say anything, his gaze drifting from Shouko and back to Kyouko.
Perhaps after all there was nothing else for him to do besides face his brother.
At that moment however, Shun found himself being approached by none other than katya. Without so much as a greeting, she started speaking as soon as she caught Shun’s attention. “Shun, we have completed your brother’s examination.”
Shun tried to put on the best smile that he could, but he had a feeling that Katya would be able to see right through it regardless. She gave him a somewhat suspicious look before continuing.
“His neurological readings are extremely abnormal, so we want to keep him here longer.” Katya paused. “He will need to undergo a special procedure from Shaina directly. I however cannot give you all the details now, I hope you understand.”
Shun nodded. “Thanks for telling me.”
“You are free to tend to him as you wish.”
That suggestioned seemed to be quite goading, and Shun felt the guilt build up a little more.
“Katya,” Genet asked before Katya could leave. “Do I really have to stay here for the rest of the day?”
Katya paused and checked her tablet. “Yes, unfortunately.” Katya glanced to Genet’s assigned bed, seeing that Shouko now lay there, glanced back in Ikki’s direction. “If you want to leave sooner, I reccomend you rest. Bed 5, next to Ikki is now available.”
Genet then smiled, clearly entertained by that prospect. Genet then smirked at Shun. “you heard her, time for me to rest,” Genet patted Shun on the shoulder as she began to walk away with Katya. “If you want me, I’ll be resting, over there in bed five.”
Shun pouted, crossing his arms over his chest, still standing there near Shouko’s bed as he stubbornly refused to yet move.
Chapter 8: Nebulae
At that same time, Aiolia and Marin arrived back at the infirmary’s lower levels. Aiolia had managed to catch up with Marin and was holding her by the hand rather tightly.
Taking the lift up, they entered the intake area again. Aiolia noticeably stiffened, his hand clenching around Marin’s. Marin gave him a meaningful look, reaching over and resting a hand on his stomach. Aiolia touched her hand and smiled at her before she pulled her hand away and they walked forward together.
“Oh!” Marin exclaimed as soon as the ICU area came into view. Mii was there at her station again, one of the previously occupied tubes now vacant. “Is Kyoko awake then?”
Mii looked up and greeted them both with a nod. “Not awake, but stable. She is upstairs with the general population then.”
“That’s great news!” Marin was genuinely thrilled, pointedly avoiding looking at Aphrodite’s still motionless body for the moment.
Mii gave a minuscule smile. “Your brother Seiya is still upstairs. He has taken to assisting the other girls along with Shun.”
Marin’s face fell and she let go of Aiolia’s hand. Aiolia reacted, while trying to suppress it as much as possible. He glanced at Marin with worry clear in his eyes.
Mii then turned to Aiolia. “Assuming that Marin would like to see her brother again, I would rather you stay behind with me, Aiolia. I have something to discuss with you.”
Aiolia nodded. “Of course, Mii,”
Marin, feeling the very obvious nudge from Mii gave a resigned sigh. “Alright, I’ll meet you later, okay?” Marin, as much as she wanted to, resisted the urge to kiss him in fairwell. Respecting how much he disliked public displays of affection.
Marin was about to leave however when Aiolia suddenly stepped in front of Marin and swooped down to give her the very kiss she had been wanting.
Marin blinked, unable to fully grasp Aiolia’s expression, as he pulled away just as fast. Marin glanced at Mii, seeing that she was smirking just slightly. Marin then waved to them both and took the lift up to the circle room.
Marin left the lift, letting out a steadying sigh. With a glance she confirmed that Seiya was indeed no longer in his bed. With that she took a stride and started to look for him. That however didn’t last long.
“Marin!” Seiya yelled, running into his sister’s arms without hesitation. Marin was taken by surprise, quite honestly not having expected that reaction. “You left without saying anything to me yesterday! Was everything okay?”
Seiya had already been asleep by the time Marin had left Shaina’s spire the night before. And in general, she had barely been in a state to even face Seiya to begin with.
Marin, despite all the positive steps forward she had made with Aiolia, still found it difficult to deal with her emotions plainly in words. Seiya, for one, didn’t seem very phased, despite how dismissive she had been the day before. He just stood there with his arms around her, as if nothing had changed since they were kids.
“Aiolia told me a bunch of stuff…after you went up with Shaina.”
“Oh?” Marin asked, genuinely curious about what Aiolia would have chosen to share with him.
Shun, who was still standing by however, didn’t have the desire to interject at that point. Marin still noticed him, and found his silence odd.
While Marin wanted to say something, Seiya instead spoke up. “Hey Shun! You saw that Ikki is awake, right? Have you talked to him already?”
Marin, having only known Shun for a day, still was unable to miss the pure physical reaction that suddenly gripped him.
Marin shoved a hand over Seiya’s face to shut him up, pushing him away from her in a joking manner. “Don’t mind him, Shun. As you know, all he knows is how to run his mouth.”
Shun gave a small smile. “I’m glad to see that you two are able to get along after all.”
Shun let out a sigh and let his arms fall to his sides. “But Seiya is right, I should talk to my brother now that he’s awake.”
Marin gave Shun a very serious look. “You should. Not to be over dramatic, but you never know if you’ll get the chance again.”
Shun sighed, pushing himself up from where he was leaning against the lift. “You are right.” He gave Marin a wry grin.
Shun and Seiya and Shouko were all very lucky, their older siblings were still alive. Shun was aware of how selfish it would be to ignore Ikki, especially when Aiolia was no longer able to do the same.
Marin thoughts also drifted to Aiolia, wondering what business Mii could have had with him below. While she didn’t dare to hope, there was one thing at the forefront of her mind.
Marin eventually released Seiya with a ruffle of his hair. He grinned up at her, eager to tell her about what he had been up to since she had been gone.
But just as that conversation got underway, the lift behind him began to move, and the lift carriage returned back to their floor where the door opened.
From where Seiya and Marin stood, they could not see the occupants of the carriage. But, after the doors opened, the first one to emerge was Aiolia.
“Hey!” Marin called, attracting Aiolia’s attention so that he began to walk their way.
“Seiya! Marin!” He said warmly, taking in their relaxed appearances. “You seem to be getting along well today, I’m glad.”
Aiolia was standing, somewhat conspicuously, directly in Marin’s line of sight, keeping her from seeing clearly who else was leaving the carriage. But Marin heard movement and so moved to peer around him.
As she did so, Aiolia moved suddenly and caught her by the shoulder. Not forcefully, but purposefully. Aiolia looked down, meeting Marin’s eyes, in a way that begged her to keep looking at him for the moment. Marin complied, staring back at him, trying to discern what exactly his intentions were.
From Aiolia’s other side now, Marin saw Mii walking towards where Kyouko was still lying. As she approached, Shouko immediately got up from her bed and dutifully vacated it.
Marin’s eyes widened as she saw not only the hovering gurney behind Mii, but an unmistakable head of sky blue hair.
Marin’s muscles tensed as she was ready to lunge for him. Aiolia’s arms went around her back, holding her. He wasn’t constraining her, but just trying comfort her and keep her from doing anything rash. He knew that she would crash through, not heeding any barrier to get to Dite’s side. And so Aiolia held her there, very gently and openly. Just long enough for Dite to be settled in his new bed.
Aiolia and Marin didn’t speak, neither did Seiya as he watched the scene.
“Dite—how is he—” Marin began, Aiolia silencing her with a gentle hand to her cheek. “He’s stable, that’s all we know for sure.” Aiolia then smiled. “Honestly, marin, it’s all thanks to you. If it hadn’t been for you, we might have left Dite for dead.”
Marin closed her eyes, savoring the feel of Aiolia’s hand against her cheek for the moment that she could. “Aphrodite...” The guilt and responsibility that Marin felt over Aphrodite’s fate did not feel like it would wane anytime soon. Even if marin was also responsible for saving Dite’s life in the end.
And with that, the feeling in the Infirmary changed drastically. Marin’s carefree energy immediately dissipated. Aiolia let her go at long last and she drifted over towards Aphrodite. She looked hardly more vital than a ghost, her face blank and her body swaying as if about to topple over under the weight.
Aiolia could certainly sympathize. He knew this kind of of crippling guilt far too well. He wanted to help her, but in that moment, didn’t have much faith that his words or comfort would do much good. It hurt to know that, but Aiolia was not completely despaired.
Two beds over from where Dite was being settled in, Aiolia noticed that Shouko was now awake and sitting up. Despite the commotion, Shouko was not looking at Aphrodite, but instead, her eyes were fixed on the still unconscious Kyouko.
Aiolia tore his eyes away from the beleaguered Marin and walked over to sit next to Shouko on the bed. She didn’t react to his presence immediately and so Aiolia had to speak up.
Shouko then started and stared at Aiolia as if he had appeared out of thin air. “Ah! Lia!” She then looked around and took in the scene naught 3 meters from them. “Marin, you and Marin are back and—” She paused and then turned to Aiolia when the pieces connected. “Dite is stable too?”
Aiolia nodded, his expression gentle as he patiently waited for her to come back to reality. “Yes, as is Kyouko. I am so glad to hear that your sister is safe too.”
Shouko’s gaze then clouded over again. Kyouko and Dite’s situations were incredibly similar, not only medically, but how they got that way in the first place. Kyouko as well had been doing all she could to protect others from Saga’s rage. When he began to destroy the area around the sanctum, Kyouko had burned her cosmo to the very limit.
“I wanted to check on you,” Aiolia said, his gentle voice breaking Shouko from her thoughts again. “We haven’t even had a chance to properly talk since the battle.”
“Yeah…” Shouko suddenly began twirling a lock of her hair nervously.
Aiolia gave her a puzzled look. “Shouko?” He asked, not sure why she seemed to be pulling away from him.
“Ah—I…” Shouko looked down. “It’s…nothing” she smiled and turned to Aiolia. “I’m happy, thank you.” Shouko was curious and worried. She wondered why Aiolia seemed to be ignoring Marin for that exact moment, but figured it would be useless to worry. Aiolia could care for himself, and the two of them had weathered much hardships up until now. Shouko could just be happy that Aiolia was worried about her, and that Shouko herself could still hopefully be of help to him and those that they loved.
Seiya, after watching his sister’s mood change so suddenly, felt honestly quite helpless. He grimaced and turned around looking over at where Shun still stood with his arms crossed. Shun then let out a sigh and walked over to Seiya to put a hand on his shoulder. “Look,” with Shun’s suggestion they both glanced over to where Marin stood, seeing how Aiolia, rather curiously chose to go and speak to Shouko. “Go be with Marin right now,” Shun insisted.
“But—” Seiya was about to protest, but was silenced by an unfamiliar seriousness in Shun’s eyes. Seiya then nodded and turned away, heading immediately to his older sibling’s side.
Shun, in turn, finally did the same.
Seiya never really quite knew what to do in situations like this. But it was obvious to him that his sister was in pain. Seiya had been paying attention enough to connect the dots, that the person lying motionless in front of them, was the person that Aiolia had mentioned in his story. Marin and Dite had been friends even before she was close with Aiolia. Even if seiya didn’t really get things like love and romance; he could see how Marin was affected.
Just because Dite was “just” her freind, didn’t make it any less painful. Seiya still had a long way to go in understanding his sister, and so he wasn’t about to leave her alone when she clearly needed it the most. Marin stood there, completely motionless, even after the others cleared away. Mii walked over to talk to Shouko and Aiolia, and so Seiya focused on his sister how he could.
Marin stood there, watching while Mii and her assistants finished up their work. Aphrodite was settled in and Mii had a couple of chairs brought over. Marin sat down, still looking distant.
Seiya then made his way over, dodging past the saintias and throwing a word of thanks towards Mii. Seiya was then left standing by Dite’s bed, staring at the stranger for a few moments before looking at Marin. He opened his mouth, thinking to ask but then thought better of it. Marin and Seiya had always been similar in that they were better with actions than they were with words. Marin certainly knew that about Seiya, and so, she had to appreciate him being there, even if there wasn’t much else he could do.
Mii, seeing this, now felt fully secure in saying that her work was now done. Though she still was deeply concerned for Marin, she had her primary duty to think about. Before leaving however, Mii left Dite’s bed and walked the short distance over to where Aiolia and Shouko sat. The two of them were just as silent, and so Mii politely imposed.
Mii gave them a short bow, the kind that was often a greeting or farewell. “Shouko, I must take my leave, now that the ICU no longer needs attending.”
Aiolia gave her a curious look. “Oh, well, thank you so much for your hard work.”
Mii gave a small smile in reply. “This is after all, not my area of expertise, or my main charge.”
Shouko gave a knowing nod, Aiolia, however not fully understanding. Despite how close he had been with he Saintias, he had not actually be trained as one.
“I am only here out of necessity. Now that the worst is passed, I must now return to Athena.”
Aiolia took in a surprised gasp, suddenly feeling foolish as it was extremely obvious. But, understandably, Aiolia had grown used to the distant, fraudulent athena of the past 16 years.
“Mayura, as well as Sari and Nerissa have been tending to her so far, as I understand it.”
Aiolia nodded, remembering Mayura from the battle’s immediate aftermath. “I can’t imagine how much work you all have ahead of you, with Athena returning after so long.”
Mii replied. “It goes without saying that all the other saintias will be returning to her once they are able,” she said, clearly indicating Shouko. “But there is no rush for you,” Mii said directly to shouko.
Shouko nodded, her face still quite downcast. “I assure you that I and the others will have things under control,” Mii then turned towards the lift, preparing to leave. “With Athena back, first we much all rebuild; but even before that, we must all be healed and ready to stand.”
Aiolia gave a small nod of understanding. “Of course. And I will do all that I can, once I am able.”
“That is all that the goddess asks of you.” Mii then smiled giving them both one final bow before finally making her exit.
She took the lift down to the lower levels. And just as Aiolia was about to turn back to Shouko, they saw that the lift carriage then moved right back up.
Shun, after goading Seiya towards his own sibling, finally relented to the, at this point, badgering from those around them. He let his arms fall to his sides and headed back over to where Ikki still was.
Genet, as it happened, had chosen to occupy bed 7, two over form where Ikki was sitting. Seiya having left an opening now meant that Shun’s original bed was now vacant as well.
Genet was lying down, appearing to be asleep; while Shun suspected that she was just pretending. It was awfully convenient, as now, Shun was all but forced into finally facing his brother.
Shun sat down on the edge of the bed, facing ikki.
Ikki was sitting cross-legged with his back up against the wall, his eyes closed and his body overall unmoving.
Perhaps it was the result of Shun taking far too much time to act, but at that moment, another interruption appeared.
From behind Shun, Genet suddenly shifted into an upright position. When shun also turned back, he saw Shaina approaching them.
Shaina and milo had both returned and Shaina now wasted no time in getting back on schedule.
“Ah, Shaina!” Shun said, flagrantly taking yet another excuse to ignore ikki. “Katya mentioned that Ikki needed some special care, so I’m glad you came.”
Shaina gave Shun a somewhat suspicious look before glancing back at ikki. “I need you to come with me, Ikki.”
Ikki, suprisingly, complied without complaint. He stood up from his bed and started to walk towards Shaina.
Shun then shot back up to his feet. “Well then Shaina, I trust you can take good care of my brother. I’ll leave you to it!”
Shaina, taking Shun comepletely by suprise, suddenly grabbed the fleeing Shun by the collar, dragging him towards the lift. “There will be no need for that, I will have you come with me.”
“Wait, Miss Shaina—”
Ikki smirked and lagged behind for just a second before Shaina grabbed him too. “We are going up to my spire.”
Ikki met Shaina’s eyes, and Shun swore he saw a flash of genuine fear on his face.
The spire room was dimly lit when they entered, somewhat different than what Shun had initially expected. Shaina walked ahead of them, immediately going towards her desk to begin preparations.
That left Ikki and Shun to lag behin by the lift somewhat awkwardly as both of them felt quite out of place in what was after all, Shaina’s Personal office.
“I need you to strip down to the waist,” Shaina called over her shoulder, continuing to collect what she needed.
Shun gave Ikki a brief look. Ikki then got himself up onto the patient’s table without any more complaint. Shun looked over Ikki with his keen observation, and quickly noticed that Ikki’s range of motion was extremly limited.
When he braced an arm on the table to lift himself up, his entire upper body tensed and Shun saw him bite his lower lip. There was a pause before Ikki braced with his other arm and then pulled himself up.
The whole time, Ikki’s arms never lifted more than 30 degrees from his side. And while it would have been easy to sit on the bed backwards and push himself up with both arms, Ikki instead had opted to more or less flop forwards and then roll himself onto his back.
Observing this, Shun then went to help Ikki undress.
“Here, I’ll help get your top off.”
Ikki’s shoulders tensed and his hands moved, but not anywhere close to being able to stop Shun’s hands.
“I can tell that you can barely move you arms,” Shun stated, a little annoyed. “You can’t hide it from me.”
Ikki paused, his shoulders still tense, but he let his arms relax.
Shun then started to undo the collar of Ikki’s top, pulling down the zipper and pushing it off over his shoulders. Shun saw lots of damage and scars, but first busied himself in fully taking off the top and putting it aside as Shaina required.
The light in the room was rather dim, and so Shun didn’t get the full effect until he walked around the where Shaina was and saw him head-on.
Shun let out a sharp gasp, just as Shaina approached the table, directing a mobile light in Ikki’s direction.
Shaina first handed Shun her tablet, clearly not wanting to waste time. Shun held on tightly to the tablet, but found it hard to tear his eyes away from Ikki at that exact moment.
It was bizzare to Shun, that Ikki was allowing Shaina, a total stranger to touch him at all. But there he was, in immense pain, but allowing shaina’s gloveless hands to rest against his scarred skin.
Shun glanced at the tablet and read along as he absorbed the fulls stake of Ikki’s body.
Around Ikki’s neck was a bright violet rune, nearly identical to the one that had almost cost Saori her life. Shun didn’t understand initially, but saw that Shaina was not about to stop and listen to his questions so he watched.
Shun walked around to the other side so that he could get a clear look at Ikki’s mangled chest. It was like what had happened to Saori, but only the rune itself. Otherwise, Ikki’s neck and chest was covered in darkened scars and what looks like swollen veins; but due to their location, couldn’t possibly be.
It looked like, to Shun, as if something had burrowed and spread out under his skin, like the roots of a malignant plant. The obviously intense pain that Ikki was in was starting to crack through his resolve, his lips pulling open into a snarl as Shaina’s fingers took in the extent of the damage.
Shaina’s fingers had started to glow gold with her cosmo, and she had Ikki lie down on his back. While she did that, Shun looked down at the open documents on the tablet screen and pages through them.
There was a report on Marin’s procedure the night before; a report on Aiolia’s condition, summary of Saori’s condition, and one more labeled “Maouken, practical application variations” which was a very bland way to put the horrific contents of that particular report.
Shun started with the report on Marin’s procedure, glancing up as he read. He followed along with how Shaina described her process in the report, and how it matched up with her treatment on Ikki.
Shun found himself engrossed in the details of Shaina’s report, and he was grateful for it. It was useful to have a distraction as Ikki’s pain continued to become worse and worse.
Shaina’s writing was perfectly professional, and extremely clear. But, he noticed that towards the middle of the report, where she would usually say “patient” Shaina started to use marin’s name. but that quickly changed after the middle section, back to the normal dry report.
After reading, Shun couldn’t stand it any longer, just as Shaina must have felt, watching someone she was close to in so much pain. Shun set the tablet down and rushed to Ikki’s side, taking a hold of his hand without thinking.
Shaina acknowledged him but kept working. Shun expected to be admonished but she instead seemed to be grateful for his appearance. “Perfect, Shun.” She grunted thought a concentrated grimace. “Here’s your first Lesson in medicinal; cosmo,”
Shun nodded, squeezing Ikki’s hand and giving her all his attention.
“I need you to channel your cosmo, into Ikki. This…thing. This goddamn glyph. It’s draining him. I need you to give some of your cosmo so—” She grunted. As shun looked at her face again, Shaina seemed to be growing a bit pale.
Shun nodded and concentrated. Never had he much relished using his cosmo for hurting people, only when necessary. And so being able to use it to heal others was something he greatly welcomed.
Shun then reached out his hands, placing one hand over Shaina’s and the other on Ikki’s neck. Shun felt Ikki react to his touch and Ikki looked at Shun with a look of utter bewilderment. Even though ikki was in severe pain, he still couldn’t seem to comprehend why Shun still cared about him. Shun grimaced and bit down that painful though, instead putting everything he had into giving Shaina what she needed to save Ikki’s life.