Author's Note: This is the first chapter in a series of chapters tying loose ends I felt existed in the anime. They are all written from the perspective of a particular character. This, the first, is written from Franz's point of view. The mood music for this chapter is "Soul in Isolation" by Blutengel. It inspired parts of it and kept me going throughout the piece. Enjoy!


Soul in Isolation

My words fell on deaf ears. You closed yourself, stubbornly to me. Your eyes, your face, and now your ears were lost to me. Before this I held you all, and you held all of me. We were part of each other, I thought. Was I mistaken? Were you mistaken? Were we fools? I know that in your grasping hands my heart pumped and lived. I think back now and wonder: did I ever cradle your heart? All those times... was it just a fraction of it, or even your second, fabricated heart? Or did he steal it from me? Was I blinded by your reactions to him, distracted- while he slipped past and took it, a pickpocket to your love?

"I can't take back what happened between the Count and me!",you exclaimed as your justification. You ignored me. You ignored my protests. It was obvious to me that you would die. He would not be merciful. I was astounded and shocked by you. How far had the distance between us expanded? Before, you would've considered my input. We were inseparable. We had been for years, since the dawn of our friendship. I think back now and wonder: did we ever progress past friendship in your eyes? Was my love for you this entire time one-sided? Our past felt to me a lie. I became insecure. I became hurt. What began as a pinprick of uncertainty billowed into a hole. Deep and treacherous, icy, cold; stabbing. I felt it in my chest. It ached. It burned and slashed at my interior, harming me deeper as time progressed- as you grew ever closer to the Count.

I don't understand. I don't understand how his aesthetic appeal was greater than the entirety of our relationship. I'm an understanding man, Albert. Valentine and I, although betrothed, held no feelings for each other and I helped her find her love. I helped and supported her union with Maximilien. I saw that you were entranced by his appearance and perhaps aroused by his shocking obsession with being God; so much so that he played with lives. I saw that you were interested by his mystery, and overall drawn to him. But was he worth more than us? Was a single troubled man worth more than you and I?

I find myself clutching my chest, a bottled sob causing me to tremble. I repress the urge to cry and continue attempting to block his attacks. I'm dueling him for you.

In the massive suit of armor, it is hot. The temperature is uncomfortable and stuffy. My emotions are out of my control, yet I control them; causing my sword hand to be shaky. He fights well; and I barely scrape by. It may be due to my fighting weakness, but I suspect it's more due to my excessive trembling. I bite my lip as I swing and miss. My heart shrivels further, attempting to spare me from the pain. It's not working, Albert. My heart and soul feel dry, defeated, and torn. Ribboned, shanked. Hiding my grief and suffering only compacted them, lumping and welding them together into a violent ball of hurt. The ball is inside me. It moves inside me, trying to escape. I repress further. It compacts further. It cuts further.

In the massive suit of armor, it is hell. Within me is the equivalent of eternal malicious torture. In my exterior the temperature has increased past discomfort and into searing. He continues to best me. My only comfort in this self-imposed inferno turmoil is you. You, who rest in your sleeping bag. Asleep. Earlier today I handed you a tainted drink, enhanced by sleeping drugs. You are unaware that those were prescribed to me. I had difficulty sleeping, Albert. I would lay awake, twisting and contorting, clutching my chest, enduring pain. I finally sought assistance after it became too much. And now I use my prescription to heal myself in ways the pharmacist at the apothecary never imagined.

He's going to kill me. I can feel it. I can sense it. After this I will be free from you, Albert. And you'll be free from me. I'm sure that after my heart ceases to pump, you'll still go after him. I'm certain that you'll rush to his aide.

He ends the duel. He finishes me. The armor and I fall and clatter onto the ground. I gasp. My internal pain now has an external companion. My breath becomes ragged.

The hatch to the control area is opened. The heat in here is dwarfed by fresh air. Albert holds me in my final moments.

He fumbles, attempting to stop my bleeding.

I'm selfish.

I bask in his embrace. His scent. I am content here. His tears for me reassure. He cares. Tears escape my eyes, dripping. The ache in me disperses. No matter what you inadvertently caused in me, Albert; I still love you.

As my life flashes before my eyes, a particular memory slips by slower than the others:

"Franz! Franz! I found you!", Albert squealed as tears rolled down his youthful face. We had been playing hide and seek, in his parents' sprawling mansion. A maid accompanied him. She looked to me, and said:

"He was worried that you got lost, Master d'Epinay. We searched for you for hours!" I had hidden myself well, and hadn't meant to scare anyone. I hugged Albert, attempting to soothe him.

"Don't worry, Albert! I was just hiding," his tears ceased. He took my by the hand and pulled me to the nearby east garden.

"Franz! Let's promise to be best friends forever and ever!" his worry turned to enthusiasm. I smiled at him and promised:

"We will be best friends forever, Albert!", as he reached for me and we embraced.

As my isolated soul plunged into death, as my body ceased to function, Albert and I... we were still best friends. It was all that I needed, no matter what the intent the two of us had for the trip to Luna.

I can only blame myself for being impatient about the development of our relationship. I only blame myself for suggesting that we head to Luna, away from Valentine and Eugenie and the searching eyes of Paris society. I also blame my lips for reciprocating yours.

Were you experimenting? I thought you felt the same as I did. The fact that the way you acted toward me did not change from when we were young cemented that fact for me. That you wanted to go on a trip, alone, with myself as your only companion convinced me further. The warm hugs and kisses we shared excited me; and I floated through life, content. The sudden impact of being thrown away in favor of the Count and the fact they you ceased to hold me as before caused the aches within me. The thought that you'd simply experimented on me, that you'd grown tired of me, that you'd thrown me away for the first attractive stranger you saw destroyed me.

Yet I could not bear to watch you die. Yet I remained your loyal friend. Yet I fought for you. Experiment, test, of your orientation or not, my feelings for you are genuine. They've always been and they will always; I never lied to you.

Confusion still attempts to cloud me, but I'm airy.

Albert.


Please review! The next chapter will be from Albert's perspective.