Night had fallen long ago, but Dohko of Libra found he couldn’t sleep. Sanctuary felt empty now that the Holy War was over and so many were gone. They still hadn’t managed to take solid count of all those that had been lost or were missing in action. It was hard each time a new confirmation of a death came in. Even though everyone was expecting it, the announcement still brought a fresh burst of pain as old wounds were opened. It was tiring, both physically and spiritually.
With an annoyed grunt, Dohko threw off the meager covers and climbed to his feet. He knew he wouldn’t be able to get to sleep anytime soon. There was no use laying in the dark, staring at the ceiling. Maybe some exercise would help. No one would be out on the practice ground this time of night. At least he might be able to exhaust himself enough that he would be able to rest if he trained hard. Mind made up, he reached for the practice clothes that he had left strewn around the floor. As soon as he was dressed he headed out into the chill night air.
It was fading into autumn now and there was a bite to the air there hadn’t been a few weeks ago. Dohko shivered a little, the thought crossing his mind that Degal probably wouldn’t even notice the chill in the air before he remembered that Degal wasn’t in a position to care about anything anymore. The Libra Saint paused in his descent as his hand tightened into a first and he was forced to take a deep breath to calm himself down. There really hadn’t been a chance for anyone to morn properly during the Holy War. Things had been happening to fast to allow them to have that luxury. Now they were slowly starting to deal with it but that didn’t make it any easier.
After a moment he started down again, trying to ignore they echoing emptiness as he passed through Virgo, Leo and Gemini. There had always been a presence in the temples when the Saints that held them were alive, but now even that faint echo was gone. Although Taurus wasn’t empty as the others were, Dohko still tried to be quiet as he crossed through. The new Taurus Saint was still young and took his duty very seriously. He would come out to challenge him if he realized someone was in the temple. Dohko didn’t want the boy losing out on his own rest just because he couldn’t sleep.
As he passed through Aries, he felt the faints stirrings that indicated its owner was present. That surprised him and he walked out of the temple to find Shion sitting at the top of the steps down.
“What are you doing here?” he couldn’t help asking when he saw the elaborate robes his friend was wearing. The helmet of the Pope was resting carelessly on the step beside Shion as his friend turned to look back at him.
“…Just catching a breath of fresh air,” the former Aries said. “I need to clear my head.”
“I see,” Dohko said neutrally as he crossed over and took a seat next to Shion. Things were quiet for a while after that. The Aries Saint went back to contemplating the sky again. Finally Dohko spoke up. “What are you looking at?”
“..You can see them again. The stars, I mean,” Shion answered softly. Dohko was puzzled for a moment, then realization dawned on him and he nodded slowly in understanding. After that long battle, there was no more Lost Canvas to obscure the sky and hide constellations.
“Sometimes I come out here just to see that,” Shion continued softly, “to remind myself of what we have accomplished and why everyone fought so hard.”
“Sometimes I have to remind myself of the same thing,” the Libra Saint admitted quietly. “But why do you come all the way down here? I would think you would have a better view from Star Hill”
“Perhaps the view would be better,” Shion said, “but it would not be the same.” He glanced over at the helmet sitting next to him. “It still feels so odd Dohko. It’s hard to see myself as the Pope. I keep expecting to make a mistake at any moment.”
“You won’t,” Dohko said confidently. “You’re going to make a great Pope Shion. You just have to have a little more confidence in yourself. You’re a good leader when you put your mind too it.”
“But am I a good enough leader?” Shion looked back down at him. “This isn’t just myself I’ll be risk when I make decisions, it will be the whole of Sanctuary. I’ve made mistakes in the past, Dohko. I can’t afford to do that anymore.” Shion’s hand that he had resting on his knee curled into a tight fist. “I’m the one to lead us to the future. If I make a mistake, if I do something wrong this time…”
“Hey,” Dohko reached out and rested his hand over Shion’s fist, “relax.” The Pope looked startled. “Come on Shion,” Dohko said and smiled reassuringly. “I keep telling that you’re doing fine. You’ve been doing fine so far, haven’t you?”
“I suppose,” Shion answered after a moment and sighed, turning away. “But can I keep it up? The future depends on what we do here, now. We can’t slip.”
“The future is always determined by what we do in the present. It’s not like that’s anything new.” Dohko said. “You’re taking things to seriously again Shion! You’ve been like this since we were a kid.”
“I’m the Pope, Dohko!” Shion protested. “I have to take things seriously! That’s my duty.”
“Your duty maybe,” Dohko agreed. “But you have to remember something.”
“You’re not alone in this Shion,” Dhoko said as he leaned his head against Shion’s shoulder. “It’s all of us together. You, me, and everyone in Sanctuary. Let us help you once in a while. You maybe the leader but that doesn’t mean you’re holding up everything by yourself.”
There was silence for a moment, then Shion said softly. “Thank you, Dohko.”
“That’s what friends are for,” the Libra Saint said cheerful, his own slight smile fading with he noticed faint, dark drop sprinkled over the cloth Shion’s fist was resting on. As gently as he could, he grasped his friend’s wrist and flips his hand over. Blood, dark in the moonlight, welled from where his nails were digging into his palm. “…Shion you really need to stop this,” he scolded gently as he forced the Pope’s fingers open. Shion resisted for a moment, but then sighed and let his friend reveal the gashes he had inflicted on his hands.
“You need to learn to take better care of yourself,” Dohko said as he ran his thumb over the wounds, using a tiny spark of cosmo to heal them. He wasn’t nearly as good at it as Shion was but it did the job. Shion shuddered at the tiny touch.
“Says the man who was pushing himself so hard with training that he nearly went into an exhausted collapse,” Shion said.
“…You do like reminding me of my follies, don’t you?” Dohko sighed. “I also remember someone dragging me back up to my temple to get some rest.”
“Well, as you said earlier, what else are friends for?”
“..True enough,” Dohko said and closed his eyes. Shion still hadn’t pulled away. That was unusual for his friend. Normally Shion seemed uncomfortable with close contact. That he hadn’t even bothered to move said something. Dohko was fairly sure that, just as he was, Shion was taking some comfort from the closeness. It was one of the few reminders that neither of them were truly alone.