He couldn't sleep... the house felt so different, so empty. It wasn't just about Seiya being gone, it was about what that had done to them all.
It had been more than Shiryu could take. He had left that morning, seeking the solace of the Old Peaks. It was true that Sunrei was waiting for him there, but he had seemed to be unaware of the fact that the man he was truly seeking was also gone. Hyoga seriously doubted that Shiryu could picture those Peaks without his sensei, and he worried about what his reaction would be once he realized that he was no longer there. He remembered all too clearly his own sensei's death. Too many deaths, and they wouldn't stop.
He was also worried about Saori. Ever since they returned she had basically locked herself up in her quarters. The only news they received from her were those brought to them by Tatsumi, and though they knew he would gladly die for her, they didn't fully trust him. They never had, and they also knew that he would lie without hesitation if she asked him to.
He felt alone, he was alone. They all were. Each one of them seemed to be walking through his own private hell. Hell, Hades, the memories. He tried to make them stop, but he couldn't keep himself from remembering. He kept getting the feeling that he was looking at an incomplete picture, yet everything seemed so clear. He could recall every action, every word. He had forgotten nothing, but the pieces refused to fit in together. It was suffocating him. He needed to know, in order to understand, to make sense out of that chaos. His mind kept going over every single detail, time and time again. Looking for something he could have done differently, something that could have altered the outcome, searching for an answer he knew would have no meaning.
He was a warrior, death should have been a fact of life for him, for them, but Seiya had been "killed" so many times before that it was difficult to accept that this time he was not coming back. He had seen so many sacrifices, so many friends and loved ones laying down their lives in an endless and futile battle. He remembered them all, their faces, her face...
Hyoga tried to imagine what the others were thinking. Luckily Ikki hadn't left, yet. He was unsure of how would Shun cope with his brother's absence. He still looked quite shaken, which was only natural after the shock of discovering that he was Hades' incarnation, and fighting such a battle with the enemy within. Shun had fought better than anyone. He had conquered his greatest foe, but still he blamed himself for all that had happened. For Seiya's sacrifice. He blamed himself for surviving, and nothing they could say or do would change that. Hyoga knew how strong his friend was, but he was afraid that this could be too much, even for him.
He couldn't keep himself from remembering that particular scene. It had been strange. It was as if the two brothers had suddenly traded places, with Shun begging his brother to kill, and Ikki proving himself unable to deliver that blow. Of course, Hyoga understood that it was unfair to see the situation from that perspective. As always Shun had been willing to sacrifice himself for what he believed in, true to the end to Andromeda's nature. True to his own nature. And Ikki, well, Ikki was ruthless, he could do anything, anything that is, except hurt his own brother. He remembered how he had volunteered to go to Dead Queen's Island to spare Shun. How Ikki had sacrificed himself to protect his brother... traded places... Ikki had always been more than willing to fight Shun's battles for him.
Ever since he could remember Shun had always tried to talk his way out of a fight. Even as a child he had never thrown the first punch. He was quiet, and appeared to be very fragile. Perhaps that could help explain why was Ikki so protective of him. Shun was indeed the Andromeda Saint. It was so appropriate. As Shun, it was a delicate constellation, and yet it represented a woman who had been willing to give up her life to save others, a generous soul. For a moment Hyoga tried to picture Ikki wearing the Andromeda Cloth. It was almost impossible to imagine it, no, it couldn't have been meant to be. Ikki was indeed the Phoenix, the bird of death and rebirth, a fiery spirit, the one who never hesitated.
Sometimes he envied them. Ikki and Shun, at least they had each other. That had kept them apart from the start. They were the ones who weren't alone. He understood now how painful that must have been for Seiya, who had been separated from his sister, who knew that he needn't be alone. Of course they had never held it against them, but it had always been a barrier. They were all brothers, in a sense, they would all die for each other. They all had.
Hyoga remembered when Shun had almost sacrificed his life to save him. When he had almost succumbed to his own element. It was the first time he had realized how great Shun's powers really were. Maybe they should have suspected then that there was something more to the Andromeda Saint, but they had all been so proud of their accomplishment, of their newfound control over their seventh sense, that they had seen it as a part of that same package. Of course, even if they had realized that there was something else, no one could have anticipated that he was indeed Hades incarnate, and because of that Seiya was dead.
He wondered what would they have done if they had discovered that one of their number was Hades incarnate. Would they have killed him? Or perhaps Shun would have killed himself, as he had attempted to do when it was already too late. Too many "ifs", they would never really know. As painful as they were, they had to learn to live with the facts, with their pasts and their mistakes.
He sighed and thought about getting up just to DO something. To get away from his own thoughts, but he knew it was useless. No matter how fast he ran, he could never leave himself behind. Hyoga couldn't help feeling nervous whenever he thought about the fact that they were the only real guardians Athena had left. He was unsure whether or not they could fight any future battles, even though they were the strongest saints ever, wearing the God Cloths. He was well aware that the only backup they had were a few Saints, some of whom had quickly been promoted to Gold, but in the end that didn't really matter. As far as their cosmos were concerned they were still, at best, Silver Saints. He sighed, now he was starting to sound like one of those cocky Silver Saints that they had fought such a long time ago. No, it hadn't been so long ago, it just felt that way. Everything had changed so quickly.
His thoughts drifted back to Shun and Ikki. Hyoga wasn't sure why he was thinking so much about them. Perhaps it was due to the fact that Shiryu had left, and the three of them were the only Saints left in the house. Or maybe it was because Ikki's company made him a little nervous. They didn't get along that well and they had always relied on the group to help them keep that tension under control. He wasn't even sure where had their problems started. Perhaps they began when they were fighting each other for the Gold Cloth, when Ikki... even now Hyoga could hardly deal with the memories of that battle, with what Ikki had shown him that day. He knew he couldn't allow himself to dwell on the past, he knew that no matter where that tension came from, they had to put an end to it. They couldn't afford to waste their energies fighting each other. Not now.
He realized he had been carefully avoiding thinking too much about him. Shun. He couldn't even begin to imagine what he must be going through. Hyoga remembered hearing him blaming himself for allowing Seiya to die in his place, as if he could have done something to prevent it. Of course, he understood where that guilt came from. It came from the knowledge that he was Hades, it came from his own nature, and it came from too many years of being told that self-sacrifice was his fate, that he was the Andromeda Saint. Shun had grown used to the idea that he was meant to give up his life for others, and now he felt that he had allowed Seiya to die in his place. They all knew how much easier it was to sacrifice themselves than to have to watch someone else doing it, especially when that someone else happened to be a good friend.
He remembered Shun's confusion when they fought Ikki. He had never really thought about it. He had avoided it as he had avoided thinking about so many other things that had happened around him. It had been one of their most painful battles. They all knew that their enemy had once been their friend, but for Shun it must have been hell, having to see his brother like that. Ikki had been driven to insanity by pain and hatred. A pain and hatred that he had endured to protect his brother, and then Shun had been dragged into a battle in which he was expected to fight and probably kill his own brother for what he had become. Of course he saw the guilt in Shun's eyes, he heard him calling out for his brother and sometimes he even blamed him for doing so. They all did. Ikki had sacrificed himself to save his brother's life, and they had expected Shun to be willing to kill him for doing so. They obviously had never thought about it that way, but that did nothing to change the facts. Hyoga remembered once again the time when Shun had risked his life to save him while they were fighting in the Sanctuary. If he had discovered then that Shun was Hades he should have killed him. He should have killed the one who saved him. No. It was unthinkable, and then again there was that detail of Shun being the Andromeda Saint, who would rather die than kill. Sure, Shun had always been one of the most powerful saints, but he had never taken pride in that strength, and he had rarely used it. For so many years he had succeeded in deceiving everybody. No one had ever picked a fight with Shun to prove himself. They always thought of him as being frail and weak, unworthy of becoming a Saint. Little did they know. It was ironic, the Saint who had always refused to kill, who had so reluctantly gone into battle was indeed Hades incarnate. The one who had always been so willing to give up his life to save others was the God of the Underworld. Still, it was an interesting paradox.
He felt exhausted. He had been thinking for hours and he was no closer to an answer than he was when he began. His mind was a whirlwind of confused thoughts that made no sense. The fact remained that Seiya was dead, but there had to be something else. He hadn't been able to get rid of that feeling, the feeling that there was something more. It had been haunting him ever since they returned. His mind was rapidly spinning out of control, he couldn't stop, he couldn't keep his ideas organized anymore. His memories of their childhood were combined with their battles. He had to solve the puzzle. He couldn't control the flood of mental images any longer. They were all there, simultaneously. Seiya's dead body, Shiryu leaving them, his problems with Ikki, Shun both as a small child, and later as the Andromeda Saint, willingly risking his life to save others, his feelings for them... Andromeda and the Phoenix... Ikki protecting his brother, the battle against an insane Ikki after he came back from Death Queen Island, his own fears and confusion, the images of his friends dying, Ikki insisting on going to Death Queen Island, taking Shun's place... traded places... Andromeda chained to the rocks... Shun saving his life... Shun as Andromeda... Shun as Hades. No. He couldn't allow himself to think of him like that. Shun was his friend, that frail child who had always refused to fight... and he had fought Hades. He remembered all their battles, all their enemies. His mind drifted back to that particular moment: Ikki insisting on going to Death Queen Island, trying desperately to protect his brother... Andromeda... Shun as Andromeda... but the one who should have gone to Andromeda was Ikki... Ikki as Andromeda. It was absurd. Ikki was the Phoenix. He had sacrificed himself to save his brother... he had sacrificed himself as Andromeda... but he wasn't Andromeda... he should have been... the disturbing images of Ikki insane... Ikki had sacrificed himself to save his brother ... Shun should have gone to Death Queen Island... Shun as the Phoenix... Shun as Hades... Andromeda sacrificing her life... Ikki had taken his brother's place... Shun insane... Hades insane...
Then it stopped. Everything made sense. As a child Andromeda had sacrificed himself to save the world, and no one even noticed.