A/N: Hai hai, peoples! Okay, look, PLEASE don't shoot me for not updating "The Twelve Gifts of Christmas" yet, but I've had this idea here for a couple of months and I finally had the inspiration (and was in the mood to) finish it today. Don't ask me "why?", but this particular piece is... very angsty... It's actually supposed to be more about the emotion and what's going on in terms of motivation and blah, blah, blah rather than the admittedly-lacking-in-explicit-detail lemon. But yes, my friends, this piece is FULL of angst! 8D

How did I get this idea? Even I don't know... All I know is that I have a very and odd vivid imagination. XD

Well, I'll bother you no longer. Read away, and reviews keep me from sacrificing puppi-I MEAN! from being sad! xO -hides puppy and sacrificial altar-

In other words, I would REALLY appreciate reviews. ;)

Green leaves littered the forest floor, almost blending in with the bright emerald of the medium-length grass. They made little noise as they were stepped on by a certain intruder to the usual calm of the tree-littered field. I hope I'm not making a mistake… No… I need to do this! thought the blue-haired half-elf trudging his way through the brush. He vaguely noted the trees that surrounded him. Some were very old, some were just saplings, but they were just ordinary trees; nothing special. The tree he was looking for… Well, he would know when he found it from two things: the tree's mana signature, and the sound of panpipes playing…

She really did love that instrument so… It was like a lullaby for Mithos… and it always calmed my own heart... He stopped for a moment scanning every single tree—young and old—making absolutely sure he didn't overlook the one he sought. She always had that effect on me, with panpipes and without…

The half-elf sighed, he had traveled on foot for at least two hours to get to this most sacred of places. The area was larger than he had once thought and thus, had taken him another hour just to search… and he still hadn't found her. Yes, he sought a specific tree, but only because he knew that along with the tree, he'd find his beloved. At least, that's what he always liked to believe…

He knew she wasn't his beloved, he knew she may reject him, but she had the soul of his beloved within her vessel… And that was enough for him…

He wanted to move on, and he was going to do it the only way he knew how… the only way that felt right

He took a few steps before he picked up on something odd. That's it! He immediately whipped around and caught sight of a large and rather normal looking tree. But it was anything but ordinary.

It was the Tree of Mana.

Only seconds later, the gentle music of a panpipe graced the air around him. He had to force back the strong, unrelenting urge to let go of tears that he had locked away for centuries. So beautiful… Dammit, why did she have to die? he shouted inwardly. His exterior, however, remained calm as ever. It took him some gathering of courage to begin the end, the end of his pain and his suffering.

"Martel!" he called. He received no immediate verbal response, but the music had ceased, and from behind the tree walked his beloved's doppelganger. Once again he had to force himself to keep his composure—simple when one has been doing it for untold centuries. The woman looked exactly like Martel Yggdrasil, the woman who haunted his thoughts and dreams, alive, dead, and reborn.

"Yuan…? What brings you here?" she asked. Even her voice was perfectly replicated.

"... How do you know my name?"

"The soul of Martel Yggdrasil…" it stung Yuan somehow to hear his lover's name spoken by the one who could easily pass for a clone. Perhaps the pain was caused by that affirmation that the Martel before him was not the woman he fell in love with, "I can see her memories. I know what she knows… I feel what she feels…" Martel placed a hand on her chest and closed her eyes.

"… Then you know why I'm here." Yuan sighed.

Martel paused momentarily, then took a breath before replying, "I do."

Yuan took a few tentative steps towards the Spirit of Mana. "You are aware that this encounter will mean nothing to me?" she warned.

This time, the ex-leader of the Renegades halted for a moment and flinched noticeably upon her words. It was what he feared most. But he reminded himself that though what he wanted would be completely meaningless to her, it would mean everything to him… and that was what mattered to him.

He wanted closure and all be damned if he didn't get it.

"I am." he said.

Martel nodded in acknowledgement of his affirmation and stepped closer to him. Yuan looked down into Martel's eyes. Oh, how easy it was for him to lose himself in the artificial pools of emerald; it was just too damn easy!

With one hand, he cupped Martel's chin and tilted it upwards. Then, after a brief hesitation, he touched his lips to hers. He knew her lips were artificial, that they weren't Martel's lips, but Yuan was able to fool himself into believing that they were. He lost himself in happier days, imagined that he was about to make love to Martel Yggdrasil, not fuck the Spirit of Mana.

Sure, she didn't love him as Martel did. Sure, she was humoring him. And… sure, he was just using her. But he didn't care. For all he really cared, his touch was inflaming her nerves as his fingers delicately caressed the small of her back, that her moans weren't solely for his satisfaction, and when he stripped her of her leotard and himself of his elaborately crafted armor, that the way she buried her face into the crook of his neck wasn't just to make him unbearably desperate to enter her… that the kisses and the love bestowed upon his partner weren't for the purpose of filling a void that was expanding within himself and slowly and painfully ripping him apart, that she wasn't just a substitute… Then he touched her intimately to ready her.

Yuan was lost in his own world from ages past, unable to bear the reality of the situation. The very reason he was doing this was to come to terms with what had happened four millennia ago. He couldn't face reality without at least saying goodbye to his beloved… and this was his way of doing so.

He sunk himself into her, fucking her the way he would've made love to Martel; slowly and sweetly, the motions gentle and lingering. Each push was pure and utter bliss; every withdrawal was Nirvanic agony. Even as the Spirit of Mana lay prone and submissive and accepting beneath him, moaning to varying degrees with every movement, he didn't even have her in mind, only concentrating on Martel and the existence of her consciousness, one of the innumerable souls that made up the Spirit of Mana's very being.

As a matter of fact, he only "wanted" the Spirit of Mana, not because of who she was, but because of what she was: a vessel housing the consciousness of his beloved.

A vessel.

That's all the Spirit of Mana was to Yuan; nothing more, nothing less.

When he finally reached his peak, he shouted her name and Martel followed soon after. At least she did in his dream world. He might have felt her inner sanctum tremble, but he was too lost in his reality made fantasy to truly know whether or not she actually followed him in the throes of pleasure.

Once he caught his breath, he withdrew from her one last time before rising and dressing himself immediately. He began to walk away, only to stop momentarily to sound a heartfelt, "… Thank you." barely audible, and then left. As he walked through the tight cluster of trees back the way he came, or close enough to it, he felt ashamed for a short moment, almost swearing he saw a sort of torment within the Spirit's eyes during a moment of lucidity. But it was such a quick and short-lasting happening that he dismissed it as his imagination.

Even after he was long gone, Martel stared sightlessly into the forest canopy, still nude and vulnerable in the dewy grass. Feeling her heart ache deeply, she allowed a single tear escape her viridian eyes.

"Goodbye, Yuan… I'll miss you."