In the Sapphire World
Bearit's Notes: I have written something based on the anime of Magic Knight Rayearth. Why are those pigs flying? sweatdrops This fic has spoilers for the entire anime series. There's not a single drop of shounen-ai in here... and I made it that way because where I got the inspiration for this fic was, um, very highly disturbing. Please don't ask if you wish to keep your head on.
I hope you all enjoy!
Lantis stared out into the vast, crystal land that Hikaru and her friends had left behind only the day before. Reconstruction had only just begun, and already the sky was shimmering with the brilliance of the ocean, the morning sun shining waves of blonde brooks that gave the quartz landscape a near blinding shine to it. He could already see verdant landscapes covering the land, the seas flooding back into their original positions around the island of Cephiro, floating gem mountains decorating the heavens. It would take much time to restore the land into what it used to be before Princess Emeraude was killed, but he knew that the land would be more beautiful than it ever was after life had returned all across the land.
If only his brother and Princess Emeraude and even Eagle, who had never been among life among real plants, real animals, could see what Cephiro was already becoming.
If only Hikaru could be a part of the reconstruction, but, Lantis reminded himself, if it hadn't been for her, the land would be falling apart, slowly ripping to shreds. She saved Cephiro not only from destruction but from further tragedies and catastrophes. He smiled and took a seat on the ledge that he had only confessed his love and said goodbye to her the day before, knowing that it would be a long while before anybody woke up.
"So, it's all over."
Lantis turned his head and saw Geo standing behind him, staring into the open with a solemn stare. Lantis nodded and invited Geo to take a seat next to him.
"Debonair is defeated, there is no longer any need for a Pillar, and the Magi--" Lantis stopped himself. "No, the three girls have gone back to their own world. The land will truly be beautiful once again."
"I guess with the destruction of the Pillar System, the legend of the Magic Knights vanishes as well," said Geo as he sat next to Lantis, one leg dangling over the side of the crystal ledge, the other bent with its adjoining foot attached to the edge. He propped his forearm to his knee. "Hikaru and her friends are back to being normal girls. I wonder if we'll ever see them again."
"We will," said Lantis. "I have no doubts about it. Either we go their world or they return to Cephiro... or if all of us go to another world together, we'll see each other again. Eagle, too."
Geo flinched at the mention of his late best friend's name.
"All of us, someday," Geo muttered.
Tears sprung to his eyes, but he barricaded them with lightly closed eyelids. Those subtle actions had been caught by Lantis. He frowned, and a pang of guilt ran through him.
"I must apologize. It ended up being partially my fault, in the end, that he died. I couldn't do anything to help him when Debonair sent that final blow, and if I had only been more careful--"
"I don't blame you," said Geo reassuringly, as he opened his glistening eyes. "I couldn't save his life, even if he wanted his life to be saved. The GTO was severely damaged from when Eagle and I attacked the castle, but I could have gone out and aided him in some other way. Maybe using one of the regular mechas. I could have helped instead of paced around the dock of the NSX while Eagle and the girls disappeared... but maybe I'd have gotten killed as well. I'm not sure if Zazu would have liked that."
"Even if he wanted his life to be saved?" Lantis asked.
Geo nodded and gave Lantis a pained smile. "He never told you? I figured he would." He sighed and glanced at the sky. "He only told me because I knew how sick he was. He wanted to die like a warrior and not like an old man... that's not what he told me, but I got the basic gist of it."
Lantis twitched an eyebrow and said with subconscious resignation, "I see."
Geo stifled a chuckle as he glanced at Lantis again from the corner of his eyes. "If you're jealous, don't be. I wasn't supposed to know. Nobody was. I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time."
Lantis nodded with a small smile. That was why he admired Geo so much. Once he befriended someone, he knew enough about his personality to make accurate assumptions. Lantis admitted that he felt a little bit of envy that Eagle had told Geo about his illness and not him, but since Geo had told him otherwise, there was no need to feel that way. He knew how Geo must have reacted when he discovered Eagle's illness... but...
"How bad was it?" asked Lantis, choosing his words carefully as to not put Geo into an uncomfortable position. "How did you find out?"
Geo sighed. "He... I think he had a lung disease or something. He said he was going to die from it... I mean, I knew he was going to. It was so obvious, it always is, when someone is coughing blood like that..."
Lantis widened his eyes. He never knew--he never even assumed, imagined--that Eagle was vulnerable to catching such diseases. "It was that bad? And he managed to hide it?"
"Not for long around me," said Geo. "I wondered how he managed it in front of you and Hikaru. I'm surprised you never knew about it."
Lantis closed his eyes. "I never even suspected it. That's the problem."
"I don't think you can easily suspect something like that, no matter how empathic you are."
Lantis grinned as he opened his eyes again. "You're right, I suppose. It's funny, now that I think about it, how one decision can change the course of fate. Had I not gone to the battle domes on the first day I arrived in Autozam, I would have never met you or Eagle or Zazu."
"If you hadn't defeated Eagle, you would have never met us," Geo corrected with a soft laugh. "You should have seen the look on Zazu's face when you did. He couldn't find the right words to say. Back then, I didn't find it amusing. I was too busy being curious as to who the person was who managed to defeat Eagle and the FTO. Curious, impressed, maybe even a little upset. I have to admit, you annoyed me at first, and I only got along with you because you and Eagle got along well."
"You don't have to tell me that," said Lantis, the memories, for the fifth time in less than two weeks, flooding back. "I knew. You seemed... well, jealous."
"I won't deny that. You two seemed to get along a whole lot better than Eagle and I had. Partially my fault... no, entirely my fault. I kept my distance and refused to have anything to do with you, especially when you were with Eagle. Zazu's a smart kid. He's the one who got me off my high horse to finally befriend you."
"So that's what happened."
"What did you think happened?"
"That your jealousy got the best of you that you had to interfere. I respected you, even then, and there was no need for you to be jealous. You were still very special to Eagle; you were still his best friend, though I always sensed there was something more."
"Yeah. I loved him more than just a friend. He was like a little brother I never had. The brother who was always easy to get along with, but you always had a sense to protect him. Zazu's the same way, but... I always felt that there was something more when it came to Eagle. I don't know what it is, but..." Geo laughed softly. "I don't think I'm making much sense."
Lantis smiled, and for Geo's sake, he changed the subject. "So, what did Zazu do?"
"He started bragging about you, for one thing," said Geo. "So you were right when you thought that my jealously got the best of me. But he also said something else that really convinced me that you were no threat to our relationship..."
"That Eagle would still be your closest friend no matter how close he'd get to anyone else?"
"Something like that. Zazu told me that if Eagle was truly my friend, he would never leave me for anybody else. It would always just be like when we were still going to school. Foreigners are an uncommon phenomenon in Autozam, and Eagle was fascinated with you. I guess that's where my envy took me and only as far as that. We did become friends in the end, didn't we?"
Lantis nodded. "Zazu really is a smart kid for his age, no matter how childish he acts sometimes."
"A genius," said Geo. "The kid has a lot going for him in the future."
"He still has a lot to learn."
"Everyone always does. Ever since yesterday, I learned to never take my friends for granted, and Zazu learned how to deal with death. During our attack on the castle, I learned that you fight people in battles, not enemies. I learned during the entire course of the invasion to never underestimate someone's strength because of their age. You would think I'd have already known that what with knowing Zazu and all."
"You thought that he was one of a kind."
And Lantis didn't blame him one bit. He had thought the same thing until he met the three girls. He knew how young they were right from the bat, and his respect for them grew enormously after he spoke with Hikaru for the first time. They were too young to be brought in the type of battle they were forced to be a part of, but they managed to overcome the physical obstacles. Their reason for fighting when they returned was to surmount their emotional ones, and Lantis knew that they had succeeded.
The young were amazingly strong.
But there was something still nagging at the back of Lantis's mind.
"Circumstances change people, though," he said. "Had we become enemies when the three of you became one of the three countries who were invading Cephiro?"
"I would like to say 'no'," said Geo. "But with Eagle's determination to become the Pillar, there was really no choice. I was against this whole invasion, but I couldn't let Eagle go out there and do anything stupid, being the reckless kid that he is. I guess I couldn't help even that."
"I never wanted to fight you."
"Neither did I, Lantis." Geo turned and grinned at the swordsman. "I hate losing friends, even if they are someone as obnoxious as you."
Lantis couldn't help but to chuckle at that. "I say the same to you."
There was a moment of silence as both men turned to stare at the sky again. It was a refreshing sight to see such a sapphire treasure finally in existence without the sacrifice of the Pillar. He was thankful for Hikaru and her friends; Zagato's life and Princess Emeraude's wish had not gone to waste. The tragedy was no longer repeated and no longer would be repeated. He smiled wistfully at the thought of Hikaru. She had become Pillar momentarily, long enough to forever disable the power, but nevertheless, it seemed to have been fate. Zagato, his older brother, fell in love with the Pillar. Lantis had been no different.
For Geo, however, as Lantis soon learned, the sight of the beautiful azure sky reminded him of Eagle's devotion to both this country and his own, and how he had given his life protecting Cephiro. There was something else Eagle wanted to protect as well, and only now did Geo realize it.
"You know," said Geo softly. "If, within my lifetime, Autozam can see the true beauty of life Cephiro has, Eagle truly wouldn't have died for nothing. I would know it. It may sound a little selfish, but..."
"We're all allowed to be a little selfish, sometimes," said Lantis. "It's only what makes us human--no. It's only what makes us live. Everybody, every animal and plant, has to be selfish, or else it could never survive. For us humans, it gives us a reason to live."
"I can't believe I was wary about befriending you at first."
"I don't blame you."
Geo sighed. "So, were you in love with Hikaru?" Lantis gave Geo a questioning look, to which Geo only grinned. "Come on, you didn't rip a hole in the roof of the NSX just to see Eagle. You came back for Hikaru, didn't you?"
Lantis nodded with a smile. "Of course. She reminds me of Eagle... they could have passed as brother and sister, twins even, if they looked more alike. But I love Hikaru in a different way, a different light. I can't explain it..."
"Or you don't want to, at least, not in front of me. You saw that she had better qualities than Eagle, but..." Geo sighed, shook his head, and smiled again. "You don't have to worry about offending me. Whatever it was, I'm sure Eagle felt the same way. I may be stepping too far over the line when I say this, but in all honesty, I would be surprised if Eagle wasn't in love with Hikaru as well."
"Were you?" asked Lantis, a hint of amusement in his voice.
"No," said Geo with a shake of his head. "I see her like a little sister... like you said, she's a lot like Eagle. A little sister who needs protecting, except that I know Hikaru can take care of herself. Surely she's not as reckless as Eagle."
Lantis laughed. "No, she's far more careful than Eagle is."
"I expected as much. But, you know," said Geo to get back on the subject, "Eagle didn't think twice about stepping onto the battlefield for the last time. It... was all because of Hikaru. I know it was. Maybe I was jealous even then; I tried to stop him from going. His illness was getting worse, and if he went out and fought, and the disease kicked in... I knew that he would die. No matter what, he would die if he fought. Even when I learned that he wanted to die... I didn't care at the time. I... I'm an idiot, that's all. A babbling idiot. Nothing I say is making sense, is it?"
"It doesn't sound like you were jealous," said Lantis. "You just didn't want Eagle to die, and for the first time, Geo, you tried to stop Eagle from making his decision. You always followed along with his wishes."
"It wasn't exactly the first, but... you're right. This invasion, this entire invasion... ever since I found out about Eagle's disease, I didn't care about his decision or my vow to always follow his lead. I did what my heart told me to do. It's funny, you know, we were in the land of will. Maybe mine wasn't strong enough... that's why Eagle ended up going out there."
Lantis groaned faintly. "Don't belittle yourself like that," he scolded. "Your will is just as strong as the Magic Knights' were... perhaps even more so on some occasions. It was just that at the moment, Eagle's was stronger."
Geo sighed. "Always has been. Maybe... maybe I wanted Eagle to die... I don't know why I would, it's just that... if my will wasn't as strong as Eagle's as to fight him, or strong enough to break the door of the FTO before he went out... what else could it have been? I..." Geo stopped speaking, for his voice started to crack, and he bit his lip and closed his eyes.
Lantis shook his head, knowing the exact thoughts that were racing through Geo's head.
"It doesn't make you a terrible person," he said.
Geo cringed. "Y-yes, but..."
"Don't blame yourself, Geo. Eagle's death was not your fault, nor was it anyone else's." Lantis decided to displace the blame off of himself for the moment, just to comfort his friend. "If death was what he wanted, and he got it, shouldn't we be happy for him?"
Geo nodded. "Yeah... I guess... but it's still all right if I cry sometimes, isn't it?"
"It's always okay to mourn, Geo," said Lantis gently, placing a hand on his shoulder. "We don't have to forget Eagle... we can't ever forget Eagle. But when we think of Eagle, we have to remember him with a smile... remember everything he had ever done for us. It's what Eagle wants. He doesn't want us to cry over him, but it's okay to do so. After all, if you truly love someone, you will cry for him when he dies."
"Like I said, Lantis, I can't believe I didn't want to befriend you when I first met you. How old are you anyway?"
Lantis smirked, a little surprised to Geo since he had never seen the solemn man do anything of the sort before. Lantis couldn't remember when he had so much fun in a split second.
"That's a secret," he said in a sing-song taunting voice.
Geo gaped for a minute, taken aback, to which Lantis found highly amusing, and then Geo scowled and said, "What the hell?"
"I was the younger brother," Lantis pointed out as he stood from the ledge, the smile not completely wiping off. "If you want, I can try to make myself look like a seven-year-old so that it won't look too out of place for you next time."
"Somehow," said Geo, deadpan, "that disturbs me. Please don't."
Lantis chuckled. "Everybody should be waking up, now." He paused, taking the moment to grow serious once again. "You know, Geo, you said that you wanted Autozam to see a beautiful sky such as Cephiro's in your lifetime... you have a strong enough will. You can extend your death far enough to be absolutely positive that the invasion and Eagle's death wasn't for nothing."
Geo smiled as he stood up, stretching to wake up the limbs that had fallen asleep. "I'll have to think about that," he said. "It's a choice between seeing Eagle again and seeing nature and life on Autozam... I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to choose, but I have until I die to figure out what I want to do."
Lantis nodded. It seemed as though Geo had already made his decision, but Lantis wanted him to discover that for himself. He had the rest of his life to realize it.
The two men were from completely opposite ends of the spectrum, and although they had a few similarities, their decision was just the same as their personalities as a whole. Lantis would wait for as long as he needed to to see Hikaru again, and he would even wait to see Autozam's first break of sunlight. Only then would he be satisfied enough to join Eagle in the afterlife along with Geo. Despite everything, they were, and forever will be, friends. Lantis knew he could always count on that, and Geo's friendship was something that was never to be taken for granted.
If only Eagle had known how truly lucky he was, even if for a moment before he died.