By: Koorino Megumi

This is a terribly-belated birthday present for the wonderful link no miko! Warning: Huge spoilers for Chapter 179.

He didn't understand why his body had stopped for her. Far from it--he was frustrated that he could not finish the deed as he had been ordered. If he was supposed to kill her, then he would--or that was what he had thought. Why wasn't it happening? Why couldn't he?

But the opportunity came then to meet his real goal, and he let the other concerns slide from his mind. They weren't for him to think on. Syaoran wanted the feather, and he would stop him, and Syaoran would die. It was as simple as that. After that, there would be no one to oppose him in his mission. He knew that this was all he needed to do.

But something he had never considered happened instead.

He stopped cold when he saw the sword pierce her. He felt his body scream against it, but he told himself, again, that this was wrong. He had to think, not to feel. This meant nothing. All he really needed to do was to change tactics. He had missed, and Syaoran was alive. But he could still kill him. The feather could still be his to return to her--the real her. Not this her who was talking, babbling...

And in his arms.

In his arms, but how? Why? Why did his arms open wide to accept her when she came toward him? Why didn't he let her drop, let her die? Why did it seem to matter?

Nothing mattered--only the feathers. Nothing else! He insisted as hard as he could in his mind. She didn't matter, her words didn't, her death didn't. It was all according to plan; none of the tiny deviations mattered. He had a feather to take and a man to kill, and this was nothing but a distraction--and one that wouldn't work!

But she...

...she was...

...he felt...

He was her most important person. And she, she was...

...she was dying...

She wasn't real.

She was.

He could feel her warmth. He could feel her heart; he could hear her words; he could feel her sincerity. He could feel it, every ounce of feeling that he couldn't have and didn't want but his body knew and craved and clung to in a physical way that he could not escape.

"I...love y..."

And the warmth was gone, and there was nothing but petals in his arms, and he felt, and it hurt. It hurt so much that he wanted to scream and yell and bring her back, but he couldn't, and wasn't it good that she was gone? Wasn't that how it was supposed to go?

So why? Why did she make him feel? He had no heart to feel, and he wanted none! He wanted no heart, but oh...he wanted her.

His mind screamed, and his heart--his heart that wasn't there--somehow ached and ached, and nothing made sense anymore, and so he left. She was gone, and he would leave, too, and he would never have to feel again. It was that simple, wasn't it? Not feeling was simple, as long as she wasn't there.

And yet he needed the feathers. He needed them for her. And now...he needed her...

He clutched his chest and closed his eyes. There would be nothing--no feelings. He was determined. He took those feelings, those feelings that couldn't be, and closed them up inside. He would find the feathers. He would return them to her--the real her, not the one that was gone (and how it ached, but no, he wouldn't let it). And that would be all. That was all. Those feelings were gone.

Gone, deep inside again, where he couldn't reach them to show them--but he couldn't reach them to destroy them either.

"I...love y..."

I do, too.

But he didn't.

I love you!

He didn't.