Important: Regulus is sixteen. I know in the manga he is around fifteen. I changed it because I felt comfortable writing a sixteen-year-old than a fifteen-year-old. Well, even now, I still feel uncomfortable. The age gets to me. I'm weird, I know.
Regulus twisted his cape; droplets of water crashed into the bucket in a plop-plop pattern. He examined the cape, searching for any stain left. No matter how much he tried, he still saw the blood stain.
However, there was nothing there, no stain to prove what he had done. But the pain, no, the guilt, had not quite driven out of his mind. He was struggling to think on what he should do. It was difficult to ignore the problem. He had to do something.
He dropped the cape in the bucket as the water rose and spilled on the tiles. He had not meant to drop it; it was done out of reflex. He sighed and turned his attention to his visitor, the cape no longer important.
In the middle of his temple, tiles gleamed from the sun. Pillars were aligned in rows, holding the massive structure together. It was the only barren place, suitable for any future battle. Regulus walked on the open floor with confidence.
And right at the entrance, of where the Cancer temple laid behind, Aldebaran waved with a grin. Regulus lowered his cosmos when he saw the older man and approached him.
Tall, with a bulky frame, the man held a charming smile. His waist-length hair swayed behind his step. He wore his helmet, flattening the top of his hair to frame his face. The golden cloth that he wore sparkled when the sunlight reflected against it.
"What are you doing, my boy?"
Regulus gave him a smile.
"Washing a dirty cape," he said awkwardly.
Aldebaran chuckled. "Tell one of the maids to take care of it. I wish for you to join me to the village."
Surprised, Regulus said, "Oh, I—I simply need to hang it on the clothesline."
Aldebaran waved a hand in the air. "Don't worry." He slapped a hand on Regulus's shoulder as he stumbled forward, underestimating his strength. He quickly corrected his posture. "If it is simply clipping it on the line, I doubt the maids won't mind," Aldebaran continued. "Now, come."
Regulus gave in to his demand and went back to tell a maid of his cape. Returning back, he descended down the stone steps with Aldebaran. Inside the Cancer temple, Manigoldo gave them a wave. He had heard that they were traveling to the village and began to ask for a few things. Aldebaran kindly agreed to bring it to him.
The Gemini temple did not stir with life until the moment he heard a crash nearby. One of the maids had accidentally dropped the plates on the ground. She quickly apologized and picked up the mess. He wondered what had her frightened. There had not been an owner in the temple for a long time—two years, in fact.
He had heard the owner had left to Kanon Island to train. He would like to meet him one day.
They continued down the steps, passing Aldebaran's temple, and entering Shion's. The Aries Saint was nowhere in sight. He too was not present in his temple, traveling to a land known as Jamir. It stood above sea level at seven thousand feet. He wondered how Shion managed to breath the thin air in Jamir. For every visit to the land, he must've at least train his body to travel up the mountain again. When he returned, Regulus would like to ask him. For now, he simply concluded that it was the cosmos that helped him.
They continued down the stone steps, heading into the village, known as Rodorio.
It was at that moment when Aldebaran broke the comfortable silence.
"How long has it been since you became a Saint?"
"Only two years, I believe."
"Do you enjoy it?"
Regulus nodded. "I do. At times, I like to think that my happiness reflects what my father had felt as a Saint."
Aldebaran grew quiet, almost as if he pondered on his words.
When he spoke again, Regulus ignored the sadness in his tone. He didn't blame him for what had happened in the past. But the older man still had his guilt.
"It probably does."
They fell into silence once more.
In the village, Regulus noticed that the homes rested against each other. The cobblestones cleared of leaves, appeared immaculate. Up ahead, a fountain laid, as water sprouted up in the air and returned to the large basin. He glanced inside and found a few coins glistening at the bottom. Ideally, it was known if one threw a coin in the fountain, their wish might be granted. He doubted such things could be true, but nowadays he wondered. Perhaps, on a different time, he will take part in the legend.
They turned to left and entered the market. Align against the walls, rows of sellers shouted across, trying to make a profit from the people. He accidentally brushed his arm against a woman. He apologized, still unused to crowded areas. It was definitely different from the Indian village back home.
Aldebaran pulled him to a side, away from the busy path.
"What is it that you need?" Regulus asked, practically shouting among the loud voices.
"Apples and loaves of bread. Fish sounds nice to grab. We should get some rice grain as well."
"How much do you need?"
"Grab as much as you can."
Regulus nodded his head. "Let's split up. We'll get things faster this way."
With a smile, he entered the busy path and pushed through the crowd. He bumped his shoulder against an older man, apologizing when he did. He thought he heard his name being shouted through the crowd. And he wasn't wrong when he noticed Aldebaran waving at him behind a couple.
He returned toward the older man.
"What is it, Aldebaran?"
He grinned. "Won't you need silver to pay for the food?"
Regulus felt embarrassed. He fought through his humiliation with a sheepish smile.
"Ah, yes. I seem to have forgotten."
Aldebaran quickly grabbed a small brown pouch and placed it in his gloved hand.
"That should be enough silver for the food." He patted him on the shoulder. "Well, get going. I'll take the left side."
Regulus held the pouch tightly in his hand. He began to wonder where Aldebaran had placed the pouch. Their armor covered the top of their breeches, making it impossible to hold things. Curious, he looked backed, and noticed, strapped around Aldebaran's waist, was a belt. And at the side, on his left hip, the second pouch of silver hanged.
Regulus wondered why he never saw that particular detail before. It contrasted against his golden armor heavily, having a deep brown shade. He must've been inattentive to not have seen it.
He heard a familiar voice, one that he would never forget.
He followed the voice, distinguishing it among the heavy crowd. At a corner, secluded away from the heavy traffic, lay a stand of flowers. Behind the stand, the same girl from this morning stood, clapping her hands for people's attention.
He crept closer, hearing her voice say to an older, chubby man.
"Hello, sir, would you like some flowers? I grew them myself."
Next to the stand, there lay an empty alleyway. It would be the perfect place to have a chat with her, away from the heavy crowd. That's if she was willing to talk to him.
She smiled at the silver in her hand and bowed her head slightly. Placing the silver in the pockets of her apron, she did not see his approach.
He cleared his throat. "Pardon me?"
She froze at the sound of his voice. It seemed that she would never forget him either. Looking up, she forced a smile, not wanting others to see how tense she became. But Regulus could tell. He could feel her fear.
"I would like some flowers," he said.
"Which ones would you like?"
Her voice, clipped away from her happiness, sounded eerily calm.
He looked around, noticing some white flowers and some orange. There was some purples one too. He did not know the names to them. All his life he labeled each one as a flower, aside from knowing what a red rose was.
Regulus pointed at the orange ones.
He appeared confused. "Is that what they're called?"
She smiled kindheartedly. "Yes. Orange lilies mean passion, if you didn't know that either."
He grew surprise. He didn't know flowers had a meaning. There was always something new he learned each day.
She handed him the flower. It had an orange shade, with red protruding stamens in the middle. He twirled it with two fingers and took a whiff of the lily. It had a unique smell, not sweet, but not terrible either.
Then, pushing back the fear that gripped his heart, he looked at her and asked, "How are you today?"
"I am well."
She turned her eyes away, tending to the flowers.
"If you need anything—"
A woman approached. She quickly flashed a smile toward her direction.
"Please enjoy the rest of your day, sir," she told him in haste.
No, he would not let this conversation end this way. He was aware of the people around them. As soon as the crowd became less, he went behind the stand and grabbed her by the hand. She yelped in surprised and followed him into the alleyway.
Before she could protest, he quickly said, "I know it will be tough to marry now that you are—"
"It's alright." She did not want to talk about it.
But he continued, "If marriage is what you want, I will give that to you."
She looked away with her arms crossed against her chest. The people continued to walk by, never noticing the missing girl behind the stand, and the young gold saint buying a flower.
He said, in a kind tone, "You deserve that."
She moved her feet and went behind the stand. He followed her and stood in front of the flowers.
He heard Aldebaran call him but he ignored him.
"Think on my words," he told her, almost pleadingly.
She nodded her head. "I will."
Quickly, before a customer came, she said, "I promise."
Aldebaran kept calling to him.
"I never did catch your name."
It had troubled him all morning that he did not know her name. She appeared to consider on telling him. He would very much like for her to tell him. But he will not push her for it.
Nevertheless, she gave in. "Agasha."
"Regulus," he said in return.
Opening the pouch, he handed her the silver and picked up his discarded flower among the purple ones. She appeared astonished at the amount of silver he had given her.
"This is too much!"
He gave her a grin. "But you deserve it."
He walked away from her and returned into the heavy crowd. Aldebaran caught up to him, carrying crates upon crates of food.
"Regulus, who is the flower for?"
He looked at the flower in his hand, twirling it.
"Oh, for an old maid. She works hard at her age."
Aldebaran bought the lie—well, it wasn't a lie since he will give the flower to the old maid.
The older man grinned and turned on his heel, heading toward their temples. Regulus followed behind him, not without taking one last glance toward Agasha.
"You have a good heart." He had heard Aldebaran say. "Never lose that."
He only hoped Agasha saw the same thing as Aldebaran did.