Author's Note: Like usual, I was listening to the radio (actually, Pandora) and this song struck me as the perfect DA/MC pairing song. Well, I love music and I love the DA/MC pairing. So you're stuck reading another one! Mwahaahahahah!

Disclaimer: I don't own the Storm Hawks. "When I'm Gone" was written by 3 Doors Down.

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There's another world inside of me

That you may never see

There're secrets in this life

That I can't hide

"Dark Ace," she said. "Tell me, is that your real name, or is just a title?"

I eyed the girl warily, hiding my bloodied sword behind my back. What was this kid doing in Cyclonia? What was I doing here? Because really, I was little more than a kid.

I had betrayed my squadron. I had killed the closest thing to family that I had. What was there left for me?

Still, I didn't want this little girl to see the blood. I felt like it was my job to protect her.

"My name is Lark. Lark Cyclonis."

"Nice to meet you, Lark," I replied politely. "My real name is Ace. Master Cyclonis dubbed me as 'Dark Ace' after…"

"After you murdered your squadron," she said matter-of-factly.

I stared in shock. She was just a kid, but nothing escaped her.

Somewhere in this darkness

There's a light that I can't find

Maybe it's too far away...

Or maybe I'm just blind...

Now I looked at her sixteen-year-old form. Her mind is as sharp as ever, but she has matured.

Or has she? Is she the same person?

Some part of me thinks she is still a poor, lonely child under her tough exterior. There was still light inside of her. There was still goodness inside of her. She still had a chance for redemption. She hadn't passed the point of no return yet.

Did she really still have hope? Or was the light just an illusion that I wanted to see?

Or maybe I'm just blind...

I feel so confused around her. I feel like I never see the real her. Sometimes I wonder if she's actually human.

No person could be so cold, so controlled, so unfeeling.

Or is she just good at hiding it?

Or am I just not looking hard enough?

So hold me when I'm here

Right me when I'm wrong

Hold me when I'm scared

And love me when I'm gone

"Dark Ace?"

"Yes, Master?"

She took a deep breath, almost like she was nervous. "Will you always serve me?"

"Of course, Master!"

"Why?"

I finally begin to see past her masks, into the doubts inside. She has no one to trust. She has no one to lean on. Underneath, she is a scared little girl looking for some comfort, some understanding.

"Because you're my Master."

Everything I am

And everything in me

Wants to be the one

You wanted me to be

I think I love her.

Shouldn't you know if you love someone? That's what I ask myself.

It isn't like any other love I've ever experienced for anyone else before. I don't want her; I don't lust for her. I just want her to be happy. I just want to protect her. I will be anything and everything she needs me to be: a father, an older brother, an advisor, a mentor, a friend. If she wants, a lover.

So I guess I do love her.

I'll never let you down

Even if I could

I'd give up everything

If only for your good

"Because you're my Master." I could see her eyes fall at my answer. It wasn't enough. "I would give up everything for you," I swore. "I would die for you, Master."

She didn't react at all. I wanted so badly to make her feel better, to make her eyes sparkle again, to see her smile.

"Because I love you," I blurted out.

So hold me when I'm here

Right me when I'm wrong

You can hold me when I'm scared

You won't always be there

So love me when I'm gone

I've said too much. I can tell. I've crossed the boundaries of Servant and Master, into the realm of the forbidden.

"I'm sorry," I whispered, then turned to leave.

"Dark Ace," she said. I stopped in my tracks. "I'm scared. Of this whole war. Of being Master. What if I make a mistake?"

"You'll do fine," I assured her. "No one expects you to be perfect."

"I do." It's spoken so softly, I can barely hear it. Yet I do, and I feel bad for her. I want to comfort her again. I want to tell her she is beautiful the way she is.

I walk out the door silently.

Love me when I'm gone...

"You win some, you lose some. Apparently the same goes for you, too, now, Dark Ace."

I've flung myself in front of the falling metal beams to save her life. It only shows to remind me how dangerous war is. How easily either of our lives could end. How would she cope without me?

When your education X-Ray

Cannot see under my skin

I won't tell you a damn thing

That I could not tell my friends

"Ace, I've heard that Mother's sick. Is this true?"

The ten-year-old knows more about what goes on in the Cyclonian palace than anyone, I've decided. The current Master Cyclonis's unwellness is supposed to be a secret. Only myself and her personal doctor know that she has a terminal illness. Her days are numbered. She's alive right now out of sheer tenacity.

Her daughter is by no means allowed to know.

I opened my mouth to tell her 'No,' but her deep violet eyes stared right into me. I realized that I couldn't lie to her, so I just turned on my heel and walked away, not answering.

Roaming through this darkness

I'm alive but I'm alone

Part of me is fighting this

But part of me is gone

I'm not really sure why I joined Cyclonia in the first place. It was so long ago that I don't really remember. I think it was something petty.

Was it for money? Or glory? Didn't I realize that none of that could replace friendship?

I'm so tempted when I see him—the annoying brat of a Sky Knight, Lightening Strike's son, who is so naïve, but so pure and good—I'm so tempted to beg for forgiveness. To beg to rejoin my own squadron. To leave all the blackness behind.

I'm tired of being alone. I'm tired of drowning in my sin.

But leaving would mean leaving her. Leaving would mean letting her drown.

So I stay.

So hold me when I'm here

Right me when I'm wrong

Hold me when I'm scared

And love me when I'm gone

I found her on her throne crying.

I'm not quite sure why. Sometimes it's about her parents' deaths, sometimes it's about the hard choices she has to make in the war, sometimes it's about the pressures of running an empire. Recently, it's been about the navigator girl, Piper. Sometimes it's just because she needs to cry.

The first time I found her, she got mad. She made me swear not to tell anyone.

Now, she didn't react when I approached her. She didn't do anything but bury her head in my shoulder when I wrapped my arms around her.

Everything I am

And everything in me

Wants to be the one

You wanted me to be

She pulled back, and I see myself reflected in her tear-heavy eyes.

I'm wearing my Cyclonian battle armor. My sword is strapped to my back. Everything about my appearance conveys intimidation, just like the Commander of the Talons should.

Only, there is a strange expression on my face, a softness. It clashes with my menacing appearance.

Who am I? Her warrior? Her comforter? Or both?

I am who she needs me to be.

I'll never let you down

Even if I could

I'd give up everything

If only for your good

"Dark Ace," she said. "You've told me you'd die to save me. Is that true?"

"Yes, Master." There was no hesitation in my reply.

"If all is lost—if Cyclonia is defeated, and they are coming to drag me to Atmosia…" her voice catches in her throat. "Will you kill me?"

"No," I hissed. "There is another way. I'd sacrifice myself time to buy you time."

She looked me deep in the eyes. "We're loosing, Dark Ace."

So hold me when I'm here

Right me when I'm wrong

You can hold me when I'm scared

You won't always be there

So love me when I'm gone

I would die to save her.

That's more than she can ever ask of me, because it's something that you can't ask from a person. It's a gift that must be freely given.

I give it freely, because I love her.

"I would die to buy you a second chance," I swore. "That's how much you mean to me."

She shook her head. "It won't come down to that. But thank you, anyway, Ace. It does make me feel better."

Or maybe I'm just blind...

Sometimes I see the girl who cares. Sometimes I see the tyrant who rules with an iron fist.

I love the girl. I fear the tyrant.

I pray that one day, she'll be able to love, without any reservations. I don't dare hope that I'll be around to see that day.

So hold me when I'm here

Right me when I'm wrong

Hold me when I'm scared

And love me when I'm gone

Fires are burning all around us. The earth is rumbling. Talons are screaming as the Sky Knights storm the palace.

In the throne room, though, there is a strange peace. Everything seems detached, like it's not really happening to us.

"Dark Ace," she whispered, "it's really happening. It's finally happening."

"It's okay," I reassured her. "You'll be fine. You'll get away safe, I promise."

She stared into my soul. "Maybe it's not me that I'm worried about getting away safely."

Everything I am

And everything in me

Wants to be the one

You wanted me to be

Everything I knew, I felt crashing down around me. She cared back.

For years, I had served her, believing my love was unrequited.

She cared back.

I stepped forward, and our lips connected. It felt right, it felt natural. Her lips were so soft, and so warm.

I was kissing my Master. It didn't matter anymore. I was kissing my love.

The world burned around us.

I'll never let you down

Even if I could

I'd give up everything

If only for your good

It changes nothing, of course. Her empire is still crashing down around her. The palace is still burning down. The Sky Knights are still getting closer.

I'm not afraid for myself, only for her.

So hold me when I'm here

Right me when I'm wrong

You can hold me when I'm scared

You won't always be there

So love me when I'm gone

"Get on the skimmer," I ordered. She obeyed. "Now get out of here."

"Come with me," she begged, tears streaming down her face.

I wanted to accept so badly, but she needs more time to get away. I will buy her that time. So I shook my head no.

"Go now! Just promise, you'll never forget me."

Love me when I'm gone...

We knew that it would come to this. We knew that it would end like this. It didn't make it any easier. It didn't make me feel any better as I watched her heartbroken expression as she flew away.

Love me when I'm gone

When I'm Gone

When I'm Gone

When I'm Gone

I'm flying to my death, but I can honestly say that I regret nothing. Everything I did lead to me meeting her, then caring for her. I wouldn't change a thing.

I wouldn't change a thing, even if it means I'm going to die now. Even if it means that I'm going to Hell after I die. I've certainly committed enough sins.

I will face my death, but I pray not for my own soul. I pray that she remembers me. I pray that one day she learns to love. I pray that one day she can look back, and know that she loves me.

I pray that she loves me, even when I'm gone.

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