I knew I was perverted for watching her sleep. But I couldn't help myself. She was just so beautiful, more peaceful and more relaxed than she ever was around me when she was awake.

I wanted to touch her, but I restrained myself. I would not sink so low. Nnoitra was the one who wanted to use her, rape her, and I have no doubt that he would have had Lord Aizen and myself not made him exercise self-restraint.

I would die a thousand times over before I let that sick monster so much as touch her.

Where were these desires coming from? Why did I feel this protective instinct towards this woman? If she was weak enough to need my protection, then she was obviously too weak to live.

So why did I continue to protect her?

She made me feel like I had never felt before. No, that wasn't quite it. She made me feel. That was strange enough on its own.

I wanted to hold her. Touch her. Never let her go. And there was something inherently strange in that. I had never felt any emotional attachment to anyone, so why should I feel it toward this one woman?

Perhaps this was what the humans called Lima Syndrome? That condition in which captors developed feelings of pity or sympathy toward their captives? They had a name for it, so obviously it was not unheard of to them. Could it cause captors to feel a sort of sexual or romantic attraction for their captives as well? Yes that had to be it. My mind was playing tricks on me. Making me feel things that I couldn't afford to feel.

No…simply making me feel.

What was the heart, anyway? She talked about it so easily, and yet I couldn't understand.

I just could not understand.

What was it? What made the heart so important? Why did she need it?

I wanted to know what she liked. What she hated. What kind of things she liked to do. To get closer to her. To know her, to…

…Kiss her.

What a strange thought that was.

She gave off a breathy sigh, and then moaned a name that made my blood run cold.

"…Ichigo…"

If I had a heart, I suppose that it sank in that instance.

Even if I did…love her, I couldn't have her, anyway. She wanted Kurosaki.

Kurosaki. Not me.

He was her love. Her world.

I think I was beginning to understand that now.