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Ice and Embers

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Part I.

The Early Years.

 

 

Milo remembered the day the new kid arrived.

It was a day of August at the Sanctuary and the hot Greek sun played with the colour of his hair, something Milo hadn't seen before: a dark copper red, the colour of a fire, of a forest in Autumn.

Aldebaran and Aiolia pointed at the new boy, who stared at them with a pair of red amber eyes saying nothing.

“A redhead!”

“Is that a girl?”

“It's the Aquarius Saint.” Shaka informed them and Mu added “He's French”, a piece of information which made Aiolia laugh uncontrollably.

Those two always know everything, Milo wondered, looking at the stranger too, undecided if going to talk to him or just ignore him.

He was a weird kid.

Not girlish, but delicate; milk white skin with a light dusting of freckles.

 

You do not mock Pisces Aphrodite for his feminine demeanour because first he's older than you, second and more importantly he's dangerous, deadly dangerous.

The Aquarius boy however looked like he couldn't do any harm, to anyone, ever. He was so small, looked so innocent. Were they sure he was a Gold Saint before taking him to the Sanctuary?

The younger Golds at the time were seven years old. They were born to be Saints and their fate was already decided.

However, in order to become their future selves, proper Gold Saints, they had to train their minds and bodies until they were both large enough to sustain the power of their respective constellations.

These children had to grow into themselves before they could completely expand their cosmos.

The little group of young Saints passed by, leaving Aquarius training alone in the arena. But before that, Milo threw him a look full of curiosity. He was intrigued.

 

 

At sundown, the stranger was still there, still training on his own.

“Hey, French kid. Wanna see something?”

“I have a name, you know.” He spoke Greek correctly, even if with a little foreign accent.

“Which is?” Milo inquired.

“Camus.”

With a stick found nearby in the arena, Milo wrote KAMYU on the sand. Latin alphabet, not Greek. Born and raised in that land, he knew what kind of alphabet France used. He knew things!

Milo showed a winning smile but Camus stared at him silently for a while, then he took the stick from Milo's hand, wiped with a foot those letters on the sand and traced “CAMUS”. Ah, so that's the way it is!

“The ending “s” is silent” the newcomer explained and his brows furrowed slightly.

“I see”. Milo was quite fascinated, he did't exactly know the reason why, though. “I am Milo. Scorpio Milo", he clarified, boldly. "Now... Camus, wanna see something cool?”

“I do”, the other child plainly replied.

 

Milo took Camus for a long walk to the top of the hill. The path was rocky and they climbed up as the night set in.

“It's getting dark” Camus observed. He had a very controlled voice. Calm, almost formal.

“The darker the better!” Milo exclaimed and he rushed to the very top on the hill, panting.

The first stars of the evening were starting to appear in the sapphire sky. “In half an hour the dark would be sufficient” he claimed, happily.

“Enough for what?” Camus asked, looking at that kid he found as strange as the other found him.

“Shooting stars! It's August 10th!”

“Oh.”

 

Camus seemed uninterested and Milo was afraid that he was gonna leave or, worse, laugh at him for that enthusiasm at such unimportant things. Milo loved shooting stars and was eager to see as much as he could of them, in that pitch black moonless night, perfect for stargazing.

Instead, Camus sat down on the grass and Milo, blushing for no reason and thanking the goddess that it was too dark for that blush to be seen, sat down next to the other boy.

In half an hour or so, some shooting stars actually appeared in the beautiful night, with Milo almost screaming “Look at it!” and Camus politely replying “I am looking” every time.

 

When it was really late in the night and they started to descend the hill, minding their own steps and not saying anything, Camus broke the silence.

“Milo?”

Camus's voice sounded older than his seven years of age, in the night.

“What?”

Merci.”

 

Milo didn't know a single word in French but he understood the meaning anyway and smiled in the night.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

They became friends or, better to say, Milo became Camus's only friend. The latter was respectful towards the other boys, prone to take his role as Gold Saint very seriously and consequently the camaraderie among the group, but he was a very introverted child and a bit of a loner.

Being so detached from everyone else discouraged any attempt from all the others to make friends with him, especially because he actively sought for loneliness, but Milo was the only one refusing to give up with Camus.

Milo was still very young but already strong-willed and when he wanted something he, tentatively but rather insistently and wholeheartedly, usually got it.

The Aquarius boy fascinated him, with his unspoken feelings and depth. Milo's instinct told him Camus was someone he could have shared a great affinity with, even if, of course, at the age of seven he couldn't put his finger on this perception yet. He just wanted them to be best friends.

 

Meanwhile, things at the Sanctuary had changed dramatically: it was rumoured that Aiolia's elder brother, Sagittarius Aiolos, had betrayed Athena and plotted to assassinate the infant goddess. Capricorn Shura was the one sent to execute the traitor, while the Gemini Saint, Saga, was said to have mysteriously left the temple.

It was a time of great confusion and suspicion, a time of conspiracy: the young Gold Saints couldn't even imagine to which extent, but they all became cautious.

Aiolia had understandably lost his good humor and had retired into silent mourning for his dead brother - soldiers also bullied him for Aiolos' betrayal which he couldn't believe – and everybody dedicated all the time to training and studying. No one was interested in the Aquarius kid anymore and this made things easier for Milo, while trying to reach for Camus and gain his trust.

Trust which became very strong and mutual, in time.

 

The Ninth House remained empty after Aiolos's death, so there was only Shura's temple separating the two friends and the Capricorn Saint didn't really care about the two boys passing back and forth to spend time with each other in their respective Houses.

It could seem ludicrous, boys so young already guarding such great and important temples, but none of them was a common human being and even if they couldn't completely burn their cosmos yet, their powers were already lethal.

“What are you reading, Kamý ?

Introduction to Atomic Physics. It's important for me to understand these mechanisms in detail if I want to freeze —

“It must be a very interesting story, don't spoil me the end”, Milo laughed, hoping to see Camus smile as well. It didn't work, so far, and today Camus looked particularly cold  and hard to decipher.

“Milo, I...”

“What is it?”

“I'm... going away. For training.”

“Going ...away? Where to?”

“...Siberia.”

For a child so young, It could as well have been the Moon. Milo had located on the map Camus's motherland, France, and it looked pretty far away. But Siberia... It was awfully far away. And isolated. Definitely a place someone couldn't easily return from, once settled there, for a long time.

Milo forced a smile. “Yes? And who says you're going? You?”

“The Pope.”

The Pope. It was more than an idea, then. It was a decision already taken, somehow, someday, behind closed doors, and then merely disclosed to Camus who already knew it was coming, because he was the Aquarius Saint expected to master the cold forces.

“When did he tell you?”

“Earlier this morning. It's my birthday, so... I came of age for the next step of my training.”

He was eight.

 

“Your birthday...” Milo was sad and frustrated. He didn't know, because he always forgot to ask Camus on which day he was born and now his friend was going away.
Things happened behind his back and beyond his control and yet he had to show acceptance and obedience, because he was a Gold Saint as well and he had to think about his own training, his own duties.

“And when are you leaving?” He was almost afraid to ask, because he felt he already knew the answer.

“Tomorrow...”

If Camus had feelings about moving to the USSR, he did not show. He seemed neither sad nor thrilled to leave, but this didn't mean he was unemotional and Milo had already learnt it.

 

So he got close to Camus, grabbed him by the shoulders, and gave him the biggest and clumsiest - yet the purest - kiss on his cheek. He wanted to go for his forehead first, but a kiss on the other boy's pale cheek seemed more alluring to him, more intimate. The maximum of “intimate” Milo could manage, at his age.

“Happy birthday, Camus. Put down that boring book of yours and let's do something fun.”
If it was their last day together for a long time – didn't dare to ask how much - Milo didn't wish to waste it, he wanted to make the most of it.

Camus seemed not to have a clue about how to process Milo's kiss, but he felt it a lot, underneath, he felt like he was about to melt. Or combust. Maybe both. Of course, he didn't show, but Milo could have sworn he saw him blush a little.

“Fun... Like what?” The Aquarius young Saint inquired.

“We sneak outside to Rodorio and then we decide. You decide, since it's your birthday. Is it fine with you?”

“Fine”, Camus nodded. “Except...”

“Except, what?”

“I'm not an expert, but I think there must be two of them. Where I'm from... People give each other always two.”

Was he blushing again? Now it was Milo's turn to be confused.

“Two of what?”

“...”

“Camus?”

“It must be... two kisses on the cheeks” the ginger boy murmured. “Not one”, he clarified unnecessarily. Milo got it and he was already approaching the other boy again, kissing him on the other cheek, more unhurriedly this time, and fondly.

“Can I come to Siberia to visit you, some time?” he asked then.

“I'd like to”, the little Aquarius Saint nodded.

 

Chapter Text

Part II.

Siberia.

 

Years later, the Sanctuary became the reign of a mad man.

If the tragedy behind the Pope's madness had been truly disclosed and understood, if someone would have helped him to return his nightmares only to harmless shadows, it would perhaps have changed the future and the course of many lives.

Instead, cruelty became a routine at the Sanctuary. It was a daily occurrence not only in the arena and among simple soldiers, but in the village of Rodorio and outside its perimeter, too.

Gold Saints were the only ones spared, because they were elite and because they weren't adverse to the Pope, after all, being bound to him by loyalty and the dictates of their creed.

But, even among them, there was the fear to die like Aiolos, to be dishonoured by the damnatio memoriae like he was.

Someone among them even praised the new course, like Pisces Aphrodite or Cancer Deathmask, some other harboured a silent disagreement, like Aries Mu who ended up leaving the Sanctuary and going back to Jamir, but he didn't attack the Pope openly.

 

Milo and Camus, one in Greece, the other one permanently in Russia, never stopped exchanging letters during the years they spent apart.

Camus wrote briefly about the Siberian lands and the progress in his training. He possessed the ability to synthesize, even a bit too much, and he lacked the capacity to give away personal thoughts and feelings. Neverthess, Milo overly enjoyed getting word from him.

Milo's letters were longer, but he too couldn't express anything too personal. He was reluctant to reveal his feelings across such a huge physical and temporal distance.

It had been years since they were children together. What if Camus didn't care about his friendship anymore? How was his life now? Was there someone with him - locals, new friends - or was he all alone? He did not tell in his letters.

Milo decided it was time to go to Russia.

Gold Saints were relatively free. Saga was said to have left the Sanctuary from a long time now and nobody apparently stopped him. Mu recently left, too, and it was tolerated. Rōshi was never there...

So he planned his journey and wrote a message to Camus:

My friend,

I'm finally visiting you in Siberia, like I promised you when we were children, I didn't forget: would you still like me to come?

If so, I'll be there on the first day of March, I think maybe around noon if I am on schedule and everything goes right. Would you come to fetch me at the nearby station?

Say, Camus, do you miss the Sanctuary, the sun of Greece and our companions?

Do you miss me?


 

The reply which came in the mail three weeks later was:

Yes. Yes. No. Yes.

C.

 

And Milo left Greece.

 

After a long flight, he arrived in the city of Krasnojarsk, Siberia, and from there he took a train, then another one, his journey lasted two full days.

In the small railway station he reached eventually - the last outpost of civilization before the desolated lands where Camus had settled - the weather was unbearably cold and there was hardly any human presence, except for a small building which served both as waiting room and depot. He rushed inside, hoping to find warmth, but instead it was as cold as on the platform, if not even more.

"Fuck me." he howled, stomping his feet to increase blood circulation.

"Milo?" someone said from the back of the room. The blond Saint turned around and he saw him. Looked at him in awe.

Camus?

Camus stood there, out of nowhere, and he was beautiful. How come he was so beautiful? When did it happened?

Surely he looked cute as a child. But now he was tall as much as Milo and frankly stunning, muscular and slender at the same time, his copper hair now long and luscious down his back.

“It's been a while”, Milo said with a nervous smile.

He needed to break the ice and - all considered - it wasn't just a figure of speech.

Camus silently studied Milo for a while. The Greek looked at him as well, taking everything in: the colour of his eyes which he did remember, his beautiful features once again and the fact that he was wearing a sleeveless shirt. In Siberia. In winter.

Milo was about to say something witty about it, but Camus came close and kissed him softly on the lips. Just like that.

Six months was the only time they ever spent together in life, a lifetime ago, when they were seven.

But now -

It is said Aquarius people are intellectual, independent and above all unpredictable. The rule definitely applied.

 

“Come” Camus said.

“Where to?”

“Do you already have somewhere to stay?”

“Not really.”

“Then, come.”

They went outside, it was sunny and extremely cold. Milo didn't even dare to guess how many degrees below zero there were. He thought of Greece. Beautiful, warm, radiant. The country of light. But then, that kiss changed the way he saw things and perhaps even his body temperature -

What was it, anyway? Not that he complained, at all.

“Is it far?” he inquired, trying to be casual.

“Oh, thirty minutes.”

Okay, he could manage.

“Where have you been staying all these years, by the way?”

“A small dacha. A typical Soviet one”, Camus explained. “You would like it” he added.

“Why would I like it?”

Camus gave him one of his reproachful glances. He didn't mean to actually reproach him, but that was the way he looked like.

“You'll see.”

 

Chapter Text

 

They silently walked in the soft snow for a while.

Milo had to pull himself together to endure the freezing temperatures. However, once he managed to do so with the support of his cosmo, he was able to enjoy the majestic surroundings - a true winter wonderland - and, above all, the company.

He had missed his friend so much, the one he completely trusted.

The other Golds would have probably been trustworthy in the event of a battle, but nothing more than that... And it wasn't enough. Milo's friendship and trust had to be won and somehow Camus earned them from the very beginning simply by being himself.

Since childhood, Camus was a good and intelligent listener, he was generous, very loyal and he never lied. Those qualities made him the perfect match for Milo, who fully returned that loyalty and who, today, was positive that those things remained the same through the years. After all, Camus always granted Milo a privilege no one else had: his friendship and trust.

 

Besides, there was that kiss.

Really, though, that kiss!

 

Milo remembered things Aphrodite told him when he was younger.

Tales about the so called Greek-love the Pisces Saint enjoyed to describe in detail, perhaps more to scandalize the kids than anything. Stories about male lovers, heroes on the field, friends for life, companions in bed. Achilles and Patroclus, Alexander and Hephaestion...

Milo was secretly fascinated by that and even if he didn't understand – at the time - what was exactly going on between those famous partners, he always ended up looking at Camus (who listened to Aphrodite with wide eyes and said nothing), hoping that if he was going to have such a partner when he grew up, it had to be his friend. It had to be Camus.

As a child, Milo had not the faintest idea how sex worked, practically. Now that he did, picturing Camus with him in such a kind of situation -
Goddess.

 

“What are you thinking about?” the French interrupted his stream of thoughts.

“W-what?”

Camus smiled, one of those rare smiles he reserved only to the ones closed to him. In other words, to Milo. “I half expected you to talk endlessly once you got here, but perhaps time changed you.”

“Oh... not really. I don't think I have changed much. I just –“

“We have arrived.”

 

It was pleasantly warm inside the cozy wooden house Camus called “dacha”.

One would think a Gold Saint would train like a Spartan in unbearable conditions, but Camus actually got himself a nice little place.

“This is completely not what I expected”, Milo exclaimed. “It's... really comfortable. I thought you were living inside an igloo... Or something.” He sat on a small couch, testing its softness.

“I told you, you would have liked it.”

“Sit next to me, Camus, we gotta talk.”

“About?” Camus sat on the couch too, crossing his legs.

“The Pope”, Milo started, bitterness already pooling in his voice.

“Yes, I heard things.”

“Even here in Siberia?”

“Even here.”

“I'm not questioning those who have the command, I mean, he's the rightful Pope and we all swore loyalty to him, but he's not the same man we used to know. He's cruel, he's... mad.”

“Don't say it, Milo”, Camus warned him.

“I say it to you, because it's you, and we're in the middle of nowhere.”

“All right. But by saying it, you make a statement.”

“I am making a statement. That man... We must obey him, but at least not blindly, like too many follow him blindly, like Pisces or Cancer. Even Shura... When you come back to the Sanctuary, which would be soon, since you completed your training, be careful with him.”

“Thank you, Milo. I will. Even if I'm not going back for other four or five years.”

 

Milo gasped. What did he just say?

He was certain Camus was about to come to Greece before that summer and, by coming to Siberia, Milo half hoped to convince his friend to travel together and to bring Camus back even sooner.

“And why is that?”, he asked, puzzled.

“I will be training two young boys.”

“You? Why?” Milo stood.

“I've been asked.”

“No other teachers here? Why does it have to be you?”

“I must, Milo, my future disciples will become Bronze Saints. This's for Athena.”

“Yeah!”, Milo snapped, sounding more frustrated than he wanted to. “You know what? Never mind.”

He raised his hands, like in the act of surrendering. Which was against his nature and the exact opposite of what he wanted to do: fight. Like the impetuous, ardent scorpion he was.

Of course, if it was for Athena's sake, he actually couldn't express himself against the training. Fine. Camus in that was doing the right thing. Besides, the Aquarius Gold Saint looked much more at ease in that country than he ever was in Greece, which he didn't miss. He wrote it down clearly in his last letter: “No”. He didn't miss it at all.

But you admitted you missed me, Milo thought.

That was the problem.

And, again, why that kiss? To test him? To mock him? It wasn't like Camus at all, at least the one he used to know.

“Why did you kiss me, then? Because Russians kiss each other on the lips as a greeting? Wasn't it the French way you preferred, one kiss for each cheek? But perhaps I am just confused here, by you Camus, all stunning with that fucking beautiful red hair... You let me come here to the ends of the Earth just to tell me you're not coming back and I'm getting a bit carried away.”

“Milo...”

The Greek was scared to have revealed his feelings too much, feelings he always had, but shouting them out was different. What if the object of his love would refuse it, now?

Camus stood but he didn't come close. He walked to a small window instead, looking out briefly before he turned around to stare at his friend again.

“I kissed you because I wanted to. You're my friend. My... Achilles.”

“Achilles and Patroclus were way more than friends... We also... could be more, you know.” All right, that was really beyond the point of no return. Milo probably never expressed himself so clearly in his existence.

Would Camus have laughed at him? No, knowing him, he would have politely declined and —

“That's what I'm saying.”

“What?"

“Let's be more than friends, Milo.” Camus said, furrowing his brows.

"It doesn't work like that... You have to feel it, Camus."

"Why do you assume I don't?"

 

Chapter Text

 

A few days of training sessions and nights of clumsy kissing later, it didn't take much to allow their feelings for each other to become physical and Milo resisted barely ten minutes alone on the couch, one night, before joining the other Saint in the small bedroom.

 

Camus was changing his clothes and Milo looked when his friend pulled his shirt off, showing the smoothness of his slender upper body. They were the same height but Camus was skinnier, eight kilograms skinnier to be precise because they checked during training.

"Take off the rest" said Milo in a low voice and Camus only asked "All of it?" not out of reluctance, but for clarity.

"All of it."

“Do you want to -?”

“Do you?”

 

Camus stripped off his remaining clothes and Milo's hands began to shake. 

It wasn't the first time he saw him naked, it happened many times when they were kids and they washed in the common baths after training, or when they sneaked out of the Sanctuary to go swimming. But now it was a completely different matter.

Camus stood there naked but Milo was the one who felt exposed, completely vulnerable to his own overwhelming feelings.

With a few steps he closed the distance in between and they kissed.

 

Milo caressed his friend's body, chest, shoulders, back, lower back... He never touched anything so gently in his life. Tentatively, he made each stroke a bit more audacious than the previous one.

When he looked up, Camus had a flushed face. “Your hands are warm”, he whispered and he hesitantly guided one of those hands where he most wanted it.

Milo explored his friend's sensitive skin, teased it, but he didn't ho any further.

“I... need you to reply, Camus.”

"You really want it, Milo, don't you?"

It was a fire which fed on itself, at this point. Or better to say, it was a clash of fire and ice and intimately they knew from the very first moment they met again, after those years apart, that all this was going to happen.

 

Milo took away his own clothes. The Scorpio in him generally went headfirst in everything, but that night being strong and confident wasn't the most important thing: he wanted it to be sweet. For Camus. It was their first time. Besides, he was worried about his total inexperience and he wished he had paid more attention to Aphrodite, years before.

“Camus... lay down on the bed” he murmured in his friend's ear and the other complied.

Goddess, he was truly beautiful, intimidatingly so: long red hair messily spread around his body frame, shimmering eyes always so hard to decipher looking up at Milo.

Meanwhile, a massive storm infuriated outside, an unusual combination of thunder and lightning with snow falling instead of rain, and it felt like it was about to tear the roof off the small building.

“I want it, Camus, but what about you?”

“I think I do.”

“Don't think.”

Telling him so was the equivalent to ask him not to breath, but Camus understood what Milo tried to accomplish, instinctively able to grasp the extent of the other's devotion. Letting go of his rational side for the Aquarius Saint was a complicated matter, it was the only thing making him feel truly naked in that moment, on that bed, but then again he decided to trust his best friend.

He gently tore at Milo's hair and claimed his lips, while the Greek collapsed on top of him.

“Prends-moi” Camus murmured between kisses. Switching unconsciously to his mother language made him feel in control, in the exact moment he decided to surrender to his own desires, lightly shivering for the adrenaline rush.

“Camus...”

 

If not anything else, this is ours, Milo thought before he, too, was unable to think furthermore. They might have been sacred warriors reincarnated, their destiny already written somewhere, their lives always decided by others, but in this nobody existed besides them.

This is only ours.

 

Chapter Text

Part III.

Before the storm.

 

The sun was high in the sky and all that blue was immense and bewitching. Camus realised he had completely forgot that colour, or the smell of the mediterranean plants. Or warmth on his skin.

Greece.

 

While ascending to his House, he met old comrades, but he just nodded and didn't stop to say anything. They were not interested in talking to him either. Never were. Never will be.

Right after Libra, he sensed, even before he actually saw him, a blond man watching him from above with intent eyes burning with resentment or excitement he couldn't tell.

When they were face to face, the other finally spoke.

“I was wondering if you were ever coming home -”

Home?

“ - because, you said four or five years, but it's been actually six.”

“Disciples set the length of learning time, not the teacher”, he replied calmly.

“Camus...”

“Milo.”

 

But it was disciple. Singular. Because Camus lost one of the boys, just weeks before his duty ended.

The two were unsupervised when Hyoga's thoughtless actions killed Isaac in the attempt of saving his friend, and now even if Camus didn't show, didn't tell, feelings of guilt and grief were tearing at his heart.

 

Camus passed by.

“Where do you think are going?” Milo asked in frustration. He didn't know about the accident.

He met the boys the few times he travelled to Siberia again and obviously he wasn't thrilled of having two omnipresent kids there, when he hoped to steal some alone time with his lover. But he had to admit the boys were very committed and the Aquarius Saint was a fantastic teacher, a role he took very seriously and wholeheartedly.

“As you said”, Camus murmured bitterly while walking away, “home” and he disappeared into the Eighth House, headed to the Eleventh.

 

But Milo was faster, reaching him, grabbing his wrist, turning him around and, while Camus was caught off balance, he slammed his lover against one of the ancient columns of the temple.

It was like all of the air in his lungs squeezed out of Camus as Milo was on him, trapping his body in place with his weight. The Scorpio Saint surely became stronger in those years, much stronger than his best friend, physically.

Milo had a triumphant smile on his face, the same he wore when they were kids and he managed to knock out someone in training.

“Not so fast” he grinned, studying his friend's face, those chiselled features he admired so much. Goddess, he wanted to make up for all that time spent apart.

But Camus turned his gaze away and silent tears started rolling down his eyes.

Milo froze, disconcerted, and he instantly pulled back, taking one step behind. It was rare to see Camus cry, it only happened a few times when he was still a child.

Before Milo could start worrying it was for what he just did, terrified that Camus was rejecting him, his friend slowly came closer, burying his face in Milo's shoulder and starting to sob quietly.

The Scorpio Saint welcomed him, cradling Camus with both arms, delicately.

“What is it?” he whispered, but since he got no reply, he started to gently kiss his lover's forehead, cheeks, neck; he took his hand and kissed his palm and fingers. Eventually he went for his lips, tentatively.

Camus accepted the kiss, even lingering in it after a few seconds.

That encouraged Milo to deepen his kisses, while he caressed his friend's bare skin, fingers sneaking under the other Saint's shirt.

“I miss you”, Milo murmured, his warm hands now resting eloquently on his friend's hips, and Camus, eyes still moist with tears, looked at him and nodded.

 

Becoming one again felt good, it felt like homecoming, even with an unknown ghost between them that Milo could sense through his own body somehow, while Camus – his eyes closed – laid on the bed face down, buried under his lover and his lover buried inside of him.

Later, when they spooned lazily together, Milo caressing those silky copper hair, Camus finally said “Isaac is dead”, painfully explaining the circumstances of that accident.

Milo didn't tell, but he felt relieved, in a way. It was a terrible thing, of course, the loss of a youth, and he was genuinely sorry for Isaac, but death wasn't an uncommon occurrence during the extreme training aspirant Saints were subjected to.

“It wasn't your fault, Camus.”

“Can't you see? I failed.”

Milo feared that Camus was broken for something worse that that, but now that he knew he clearly didn't understand the gravity of that event and he jumped to the most wrong conclusions.

“Hyoga wanted to become a Saint only to see his deceased mother once more, under the Arctic Sea. Isaac lost his own life while saving him, how come this's your failure? If you feel sorry for Isaac, then you should kill Hyoga, considering that now he's also affiliated to that pretender, Saori Kido claiming to be the rightful Athena.”

Camus turned to look at him almost in shock, something worryingly similar to betrayal in his eyes.

“Hyoga is the only thing I have left” he said in a way that made Milo's blood run cold. "I'm not killing him, ever, neither are you." Then he stood, he rapidly dressed and without looking at the Scorpio Saint again, he left.

The only thing... What about him?

“What about me?” Milo shouted, unanswered.

 

Milo understood he had to work on his friend's grief starting now, before it was too late, and he mentally cursed himself for being so unsensitive. He surely would decipher and take the Aquarius Saint's feelings for his disciple much more into consideration, for the imminent and unavoidable battle to come.

He had, nevertheless, a very bad feeling about this.

 

Chapter Text

Part IV.

[ Post-series ]

 

 

Oh, the bitter irony of it all.

 

In the House of Scorpio, when the time came to face Hyoga himself - after the Bronze was liberated from the Freezing Coffin Camus imprisoned him into - Milo talked like he knew.

He spoke as he could read Camus like an open book and he even explained to his friend's apprentice the Aquarius Saint's feelings in his place.

Deluded arrogant fool. He only caught the half of it right: if Milo understood his best friend's intentions so far, he had still not the faintest idea of what Camus was going to do next.

He was so sure about the outcome of the battle, when it moved to the Eleventh House, that he even felt relieved of not being the one to take Hyoga's life: Camus would have done it: his disciple, his business.

If he had predicted it — if he ever imagined that in the war of the Twelve Houses Camus would have died to let Hyoga reach the Seventh Sense, Milo would have stopped the Bronze Saint, no matter what. Camus would have suffered. Or he'd have been furious, so be it. Furious but alive.

Instead, Milo got it all wrong.

 

He was angry at Camus for his sacrifice, at the time, and angrier at himself for not really understanding. Milo's grief was intolerably painful. He mourned his friend but he also resented him and he admired him and he cursed him... desperately trying to suppress his feelings all the time.

It was still nothing, compared to what came next.

 

Camus, together with other deceased Saints, came back from the Underworld as a Specter, supposedly to take Athena's life in Hades's name.

Again, Milo couldn't see what sat in plain sight and he truly believed his former friend's betrayal, taking it very personally.

He attacked mercilessly, his fury against all three, but deep down directed only to one. He couldn't perceive the immense pain Camus was going through, couldn't feel it when he still had the chance to help, to stop that madness.

With the full power of his Scarlet Needle, he hit unrelentingly, unable to see Camus' true heart. He made him suffer, he wanted to make him suffer... He even tried to strangle him, when Athena killed herself. But that, he couldn't do. Not truly, not ever. Milo fell on his knees, crying, his face in his former friend's lap, fists against his chest.

 

And then...

… and now...

 

At the Sanctuary, the esplanade of the Athena Shrine was floodlit by a blinding, white light. The Bronze Saints could see several silhouettes of young warriors materializing one by one in that glare.

"The... The Gold Saints?!" Hyoga almost shouted.

"The Gold Saints are back!", Shun echoed in awe.

As the light faded, fourteen people could finally be seen; not just phantoms temporarily evoked by an artifice of some kind, but actual human beings. Alive, real.

Mu. Aldebaran. Saga. Kanon. Death Mask. Aiolia. Shaka.

Dohko. Milo. Aiolos. Shura. Camus. Aphrodite. Shion.

 

"The Gold Saints are alive... Roshi...!" Shiryu murmured as he approached Dohko, tears in his eyes, while Hyoga literally jumped in Camus' arms. "My master!"

The Aquarius Saint was slightly taken aback by all that enthusiasm, but then he reciprocated fondly. "Hyoga..."

"So Athena won the Holy War?" Milo guessed correctly.

"She did." Ikki confirmed. "And after Hades was defeated, she took back to Earth what was hers."

"Her Gold Saints" Shun concluded, nodding and smiling.

"A-Athena... She did this for... us?" Saga asked, deeply moved.

"...You did so much for me."

"ATHENA!" the Gold Saints exclaimed almost in a single voice as their goddess, who just spoke, appeared in front of them.

"You all sacrificed your life for me", she continued. "I'm just giving it back to you."

 The Gold Saints who broke the Wailing Wall in Judecca were allowed to resuscitate from the Underworld.

 

Then Athena granted Kanon to be the only Gemini Saint and Saga — He was called the throne, by Athena's side. The goddess, as her first wish, proclaimed him Pope... After all he did as Ares! But what goes around, doesn't come around for those two apparently. The twins, the Dioskouroi.

Besides, Saga as a Specter experimented the extreme heights of pain and through that he found the resolve to carry on, to complete his mission with no regard for himself, for the slander, for traumas endlessly repeating themselves, like in a living hell.

Saga was a natural born warrior and a true leader who even found the strength to encourage his companions, Shura and Camus, all the way to the very end. And Kanon —

He did what he wanted, when he wanted, he betrayed, he repented, Athena watching over him nevertheless, even in the Cape Sounion prison where her cosmo saved him form drowning. She didn't protect Aiolos from Shura, she saved Kanon who promptly manipulated Poseidon pretending to serve him.

Kanon the immortal, Kanon who always fell on his feet, like a cat, and who eventually died according to his own terms only.

Milo liked Kanon more than others. Some Gold Saints weren't the epitome of sanity, to be honest. Some others draped themselves in too much sanctity. Kanon and Milo instead were two of the same kind: those who admit their mistakes, even if Milo, of course, wasn't a sinner and he was never tempted by power and ambition.

 

And so, Saga was Pope again, his brother the only legitimate guardian of the Third House, and everyone was dismissed, to rest and enjoy their new lives. As long as they could.

They all perfectly realised that if they were back it meant that they would, sooner or later, be fighting in a new war. Athena's Saints live and die as many times as required. But, for the moment, they were just grateful to be there, loyalty made them proud to be useful to their goddess again.

 

“Camus, being on the same side again... Do you know how it feels to me?” Milo's hand reached for his friend's shoulder, fingertips brushing for a second the bare skin of his arm.

"A life in which you were not there, as my friend..." Milo continued, lowering his voice "...and my love... was dreadful and not worth living."  Then he smirked. Oh, that Scorpio smirk Camus liked so much.

"Milo... I..." Camus murmured. Saints cannot afford the luxury of love, yet Milo wasn't afraid to name it openly to him.

“I'm so sorry I couldn't see through you, Camus.”

Shion ordered the other resurrected Gold Saints to deceive Hades and everyone, their behaviour had to be misleading. Milo just fought as a Gold Saint protecting Athena.

“It doesn't matter, Milo... Don't apologize.”

Camus looked so different from when they last met: he was beaten, scarred, exhausted, then. Now, instead, he was the same man as before: quiet, in control and outstanding.

 

“Do we really need to apologize to each other?" Aphrodite scoffed, passing by. "If we start, would we ever stop? Is that a new kind of War of a Thousand Days?"

He winked and left. Was he listening the whole time? Milo didn't appreciate the intrusion, but then he noticed Camus was smiling.

“He's probably right”, the Scorpio Saint then admitted.

"Indeed", Camus replied. 

 

A second chance. A second life was sitting just ahead of them. He wouldn't have wasted it, Milo decided. And he would have used it well, for Athena, that went without saying, but not only for her.

Chapter Text

 

“Screw Siberia”, Milo muttered.

They had been walking in the middle of a violent snowstorm for a solid half an hour.

“Next time Athena says we should travel and get a a grasp of the outer world” the Scorpio Saint shouted in the wind, trying to use his arm to shield his face from the blast of snow, “... let's go to France.”

“France?”, Camus turned around, not bothered by the prohibitive weather at all. "Why?"

“It's your motherland. Don't you miss it?”

“I'm not sure I even remember it.”

“One reason more to go. Imagine Paris now: the river, the songs, the cafes... No snow.”

“No training.” Aquarius objected. “What would we do all day?”

“You know what. I didn't get myself a redheaded French guy for nothing”, Milo replied slyly.

“My nationality and hair colour has really nothing to do with -” Camus began to protest.

“Picture it”, Milo gestured into the air “an attic overlooking the whole city and we on the windowsill having sex -”

“You don't need Paris for that. Now please move”, Camus urged him, annoyed, but Milo could swear his friend was blushing.

 

On the top of the hill, the house could finally be seen.

 

Inside the temperature became acceptable once they lighted the stove and the fireplace.

“I'm happy, Camus” Milo smiled fondly.

“For what?” the other inquired, while placing the supplies they brought on the wooden shelves.

Suddenly but methodically, because he did it many times already in the past, Milo approached Camus from behind, sliding his hands under his friend's shirt and easing them up his torso, while nipping at his neck with his teeth.

Camus wasn't surprised by that move and instead he let his head fall back against the opposite shoulder. His long hair parted, giving Milo more access to his throat, so that the Scorpio Saint could replace the slight sting of his teeth with gentle strokes from the tip of his tongue.

Camus closed his eyes, leaning in the sensation for a while, then Milo made him turn around and he took off the Aquarius Saint's shirt, letting it fall to the ground.

Milo traced with one finger the freckles that dusted his friend's skin lightly, then he started to play with one of his nipples, alternating feather-like touches and rough strokes. With his free hand he did the exact same thing to the most sensitive area of his lover's body, once he sneaked his fingers under the front of his jeans and underwear. Camus shivered.

Milo's hand, usually very warm, was still cold because of the long walk out in the open.

“Just so happy...” the Scorpio Gold Saint teased and his friend, eyes still shut, bit at his own lips. “Come here.”

They kissed passionately and Camus felt like he had his breath withdrawn from the depths of his lungs, while his heart raced.

 

He had missed it, having everything fade to black because of what Milo did to him, for Camus to lose control was an unthinkable and extraordinary occurrence, except for when he was with lover.

Milo broke the contact just to complete his task of getting Camus out of his clothes, something which reminded him of their first time, when he was still fully dressed while the other boy was already naked. He placed his hand flat on his friend's stomach and he kissed him, possessively.

“Never betray me again”, he then whispered somewhat darkly among kisses.

There was an element equally dangerous and poetic, destructive and devoted in Milo, a nature hidden deeply within which Camus – and him alone – was perfectly able to see.

He liked it.

Being that nature ignited by conflict or soothed by love and friendship, Camus liked to look at it, he appreciated its depth which mirrored his own. They were both very emotionally driven, although they concealed it well in their own different ways.

Camus re-enacted Milo's gesture from before, sliding his own hands under his friend's shirt and lifting it over his head until he managed to take it off.

Milo let him, then he easily lifted his lover up in his arms and in a few steps he took him in the only other room, the one with the bed, on which he made Camus fall.

An indignant sound left the Aquarius Saint's mouth and Milo, removing the rest of his own clothes, looked down at him with dilated pupils which darkened his light blue eyes with desire.

“You know I never betrayed you” Camus replied, coldly. He thought it was more than clear, at this point.

“Not really, no”, he answered, “but the mere impression of you turning your back to me made life unbearable.”

“Milo...”

Milo parted his lover's legs, kneeled between them and he positioned his hands under those beautiful thighs, lifting them up. He generally enjoyed long foreplay, but this time he totally skipped it, going straight to the point.

Camus moaned in a soft discomfort as his lover pushed in.

“I can't stand to let go of you” Milo whispered in his lover's ear, not moving a muscle so that the other could adapt to the sensation. “Ever, Camus...”

The Aquarius Saint placed his hands on his lover's back, running them up and down in delicate caresses and finally settling them on Milo's lower back, encouraging him to move.

Milo took the hint, setting up a steady rhythm, but after a few minutes Camus seemed to have changed his mind.

“Milo? Wait.”

The other was taken aback, interrupting what he was doing to look at his lover. “Something wrong?”

Camus gently but suddenly pushed Milo onto the bed, flat on his own back. Locking his eyes with Milo's, Camus gripped his lover's forearms, red nails digging into the Scorpio's flesh. Camus then lifted his slender pale hips up and he impaled himself on Milo's cock; he took it all in, hard and fast.

When he started moving, Milo was completely overwhelmed.

“As you wish, let's go to... Paris”, Camus breathed out then, closing his eyes.

"W-what?"

Camus pulled Milo in a frantic kiss, encouraging him to drive into him at a faster pace. Milo pounded into Camus' body, hitting the perfect spot.

Pourquoi pas” Camus conceded, before Milo, with a last thrust, sent them both over the edge.

 

FIN