A/N: Gift!fic for Sumphice in exchange for Raph/Cass goodness (yes, you too can receive a gift!fic—see my profile for details!). She asked for Kilik/Xianghua smut, and I tried my best to deliver. Hope you enjoy it. :)

I'm sorry.

Always sorry, always because of her, a specter forever skulking within the corridors of his mind, an incorporeal manifestation of old wounds, of unforgiveable sins.


He thinks of her, remembers bright, curious eyes, an easy smile, small, delicate hands that gripped the hilt of her sword as she stood before him, determined yet teasing as they began a casual sparring match (don't think I'll go easy on you, Kilik!), the light, clear tone of her laugh, high and sweet in the mountain air, echoing within him still.

His sworn sister. He'd loved her, loved her more than anything, but an innocent love, pure and chaste, never with even the slightest taint of desire. They'd lived together, side-by-side, growing, learning, held together as surely as any blood bond ever could, but even as he grew more devoted, protective, it was as a friend, as a brother.

Now… Xianghua…

He sees the faintest traces of Xianglian within his gentle traveling companion, sees it in a wide, genuine smile upon pink-tinged lips, sees it in steeled determination in soft brown eyes. She's grown so much these past few years, traded hesitation for fire and strength, but he sees her eyes, her smile, so much like her, and he wishes he didn't admire the warrior she's become, wishes he didn't feel…

He'd loved Xianglian, the love of a brother for his sister, all fierce protection beneath teasing laughter. But Xianghua…

He doesn't know if he loves her, isn't quite sure he knows what it's like to feel that kind of love, but he watches her, watches her move, watches her smile, talk, laugh, cry, always side-by-side, growing, learning, forever held together by a common goal, just like Xianglian…

But it's not, not at all, and he hates himself for it, for the lack of control. Because he has so much for which to atone, so many spiritual debts unpaid…and yet he watches her, so often finds he can't tear his eyes away, as she moves in battle, sinewy and graceful, soft curves outlined beneath pale silk, cheeks flushed rosy-pink from exertion after the fact, raising her eyes, soft and searching as she asks if she fought well.

He's spent so long perfecting his control, harnessing his desires and forcing them into the depths of his subconscious, refusing to let them interfere, not while his quest has yet to be fulfilled. But when he dreams, desire is all there is, any semblance of control intangible as summer mist as he grips Xianghua by her small shoulders and kisses her, hard and passionate, feels her melt into his embrace, and then suddenly she's beneath him, warm and pliant to his touch as he moves within her, good, so good, while she's breathing his name and he loses himself to her, to the feel of her around him, her voice echoing in his ears, eyes so wide and loving as they gaze into his.

He hates his lack of control, hates dreams of passion and lust that wake him with a start, panting for breath and slicked with sweat as his still-waking mind continues to long for her.

She doesn't know, sleeps soundly, unaware, as his dreams taunt him. They come so often now—dreams of soft skin, of the warm weight of her breasts as he cups them in his callused hands, dreams where she guides his nervous fingers between her slender legs until she sighs sweetly…dreams where she'll press a soft kiss to his thigh, warm, lingering, whispering words of love before she parts her lips and takes him into the warmth and wetness of her mouth.

He always wakes before her, and is far too often glad for it. It's always some time before he can face her, before he can look into her eyes, always brimming with ill-concealed love and adoration, without seeing the specter of Xianglian, of a mission unfulfilled, of past evils not yet vanquished, simultaneously thinking of the girl before him now, Xianghua, and faintly, selfishly, wishing only for her.

Traveling now once more, rumors of the Evil Seed having reached their ears from a small town in the west. Xianghua walks a bit ahead of him, and he knows from her tensed shoulders, her measured stride, that she's once more irritated with him. He knows what she had hoped for, had so desperately wanted to hear when she'd quietly, hesitantly asked if he enjoyed her presence, only to receive a noncommittal grunt in response as he surveyed the map within his hands. She'd almost grown accustomed to such things now, had merely sighed in frustration ("you're hopeless," she'd said with a slight frown and a shake of her head) and moved to her current position, a few lengths past him on the path.

Sometimes it pains him to continue the charade, to know that she believes he doesn't care for her. But his priorities are firm, and he knows he must first atone for his sins before he can finally answer her hesitant questions with the depth of his own devotion to her…not like Xianglian, he knows. Not with sweet purity, distantly chaste and fraternal, but with longing, with desire, of body as much as of soul.

She's angry with him now, a frown upon her pink lips, tense, frustrated, as she waits for him, waits for him to feel for her what she feels, has always felt, for him. Sometimes, tired, hurting from rejection, she'll wonder if she waits in vain, if she'll ever see the weary yet steadfast purpose within his eyes soften as he looks at her, but still she waits, because she can never bring herself to do otherwise, not while she loves him this much.

He places faith in that, in her—and in himself, in his devotion to his quest. For he knows that one day, perhaps sooner than they think, the evil presence will vanish, and his debts to Xianglian will finally be repaid, the final gesture of penance completed, his beloved sister at long last placed to rest within his mind.

Wait for me, Xianghua.

He has faith in her, and he longs for the day when, at long last, he'll be able to take her in his arms, kiss her long and deep, all sweet desire and fulfillment, and feel soft skin beneath his palms. Longs for the moment when he'll stroke her hair, press his cheek to hers, as he feels her body, warm, lithe, beneath his own, and kiss away her tears as he finally begins to enter her for the first time and whisper his love into her ear.

Wait for me.

She will, because he sees within her eyes that which he can never express, warmth and longing, purest love. And he awaits the day when there is no more evil, no more lingering pain, the ghost of Xianglian no longer ever-present before his gaze.

Waits for that day, for he wants so much to hold Xianghua in his arms as he begins to move within her, kissing her until she opens loving, tearful eyes to meet his own. "I see you, Xianghua," he'll say, voice soft and steady as he watches her now…only her. "I see you."