Disclaimer: "Darker Than Black" belongs to Tensai Okamura and Bones. I make no profit on this work and no ownership to "Darker Than Black" and its characters. Probably 'cause any one of them could kick my ass.

notes: I recently blazed through the entire series in one night and half a morning, and immediately itched to write fic for it, just to get all my impressions down in narrative form. What I got was this. It's kind of a series of thematic shortfics with revolving around the last scene between Amber and Hei in episode 22. This fic does contain spoilers for the entire series. And please, if you like, hate, question, or are ambivalent about the fic, or whatever, please leave CC. I adore feedback :D

- - - - -

This Is Not a Story About Love

This is not a story about love.

That she loves him, he already knows. As he grips her head by the hair, one pulsating heartbeat away from ending her life, he thinks that the question is not whether it makes a difference that she loves him, but whether it is worth it.

He thinks further, and knows further, that worth is double-sided. Is it worth it for her to do what she is doing (he doesn't know what it is and he doesn't care) out of love for him? It seems so. Is it worth it for him to accept (support? excuse?) what she is doing out of knowledge that she loves him?

Indecision, plague of his life, arrests his killing hand. Unable to choose either way, he slips gratefully into the third option, the one taking over his body and casting a blue glow over everything around him, eventually tipping it all into darkness.

Yes, or no? The answer, like the story, eludes him.

- - - - -

Misaki likes the little boy, July. She can't quite put her finger on the reason; after all, to like someone you must appreciate some good trait, and July has neither good traits nor bad – he is a Doll.

Of course, the feeling might be associative, since – though she would never admit it – Misaki also likes the Contractor November 11. She even likes the Contractor April, whose attitude towards her is even more flippant than the Brit's. She counts it as a point in their favor that the pair treats July well, that April holds his hand while walking. Passing them by on the street, one might almost take the trio for the kind of otherworldly family found only in glossy magazines, fashionable and impossibly attractive.

Now she sees him in front of a police station, solemnly handing a note to the guard, who looks thoroughly confused. Misaki slams on the brakes and very nearly flies out into the street, barely stopping to unbuckle her seatbelt, not knowing why she is acting with such urgency.

It is only a moment later that her instincts are confirmed. July, like small children everywhere, tells the story backwards, from the end. "He said to tell you if anything happens." It is only by patient probing that Misaki gets both the middle and the beginning. July's not-father disappeared in an explosion. July's not-mother has been critically injured in another. The terms are Misaki's own, involuntarily. July calls them November 11 and April and, at one point, friends.

The blank look on his face might almost be shock; the dead monotone of his voice might almost be loneliness, or fright, and Misaki, kneeling down with her hands gripping his frail shoulders, feels a great wave of pity towards what is for all present intents and purposes a little boy lost; she is thankful that he doesn't possess the emotional capacity to take offense.