I. Love. You.

Three tiny words that meant the entire world to me, and yet I never expected to hear issuing form your lips. Especially not directed towards me. There's no way you could have known how long I longed for those words to split the silence between us. From all the way back at the training school in Antarctica, I have loved you. And that love has only grown stronger with you risking everything to come after me when I ran away. I loved being able to curl up against you at night and let the soft rhythm of your heart lull me to sleep.

But then there was the accident, the horrible, horrible accident, and I was forced to leave you behind as I entered the final's triathlon. I would have given up if it wasn't for your brother and the others from Osaka. But I ran, knowing you were with me, and somehow I found it within me to beat even Jessie, just so that I could be with you where you waited for me at the end. Then, in the time that followed, on the beach, under the palm where we made our second promise to each other, the promise to wait…

But the way you reached so harshly to your brother's comments about us made me realize that you would never see me in the same light as I would always view you. So, despite how much it hurt, I denied being anything more than simply friends, and I did it with a smile. That was the first time. Every time, every single time, that came after where I found myself forced to repeat that heartbreaking statement, it hurt a little less, but I never gave up and I never stopped loving you. So when you finally said those three little words, I couldn't help but declare my own feelings out loud for the first time!

But, while we were apart, I met Kris and she was so… well, so open about how she felt. It scared me, it really did. She was so like you, and yet, so different at the same time. She was so fragile, Itchan, even though she hid it well, and I did love her, but the feeling never ran quite as deep as it did, as it still does, with you. Yet, it was love that I felt towards her, and that alone would have kept me from hurting her. I never meant to hurt you in return, though.

When I threw my arms about you and told you that we'd always be friends, I meant it, I really did. But when you looked at me with such a stricken expression on your face, I swear my heart shattered into more pieces than the picture of my mother and I did when you threw it at me. I thought I had healed from the first break, but it had only scabbed, and the scab tore away and my heart bled freely again with your reaction. Then you ran. You ran away from me, Itchan! And when you did, I swear, you completely destroyed my heart.

I ran after you that night. But I could hardly see through the tears that ran from my eyes endlessly. Why, Itchan? Why couldn't we be both? I love you dearly, but I never wanted to lose you as my best friend! Why couldn't we love each other and stay as friends? I'm sorry, Itchan! I'm so sorry! I never meant to hurt you like that!

I followed you. Did you know that, Itchan? Every race you ran, I was there, watching from the sidelines. But you didn't want me anymore, you made that quite clear when you used all your great speed to tear yourself out of my life. So, I never stepped through the crowd that clustered about you, never stood at your side where you could see the pride I had for you, for my wonderful Itchan. It nearly killed me every time I saw you stumble, every time you fell, every time you were hurt again, and I couldn't be with you, couldn't help you get better. If it hadn't been for Kris, I don't know what I would have done. She kept me alive. But, she can't do that anymore.

I just got back from the Moon, today. Kris was laid to rest there, in the Beginners way, as per the last thing she ever asked of me. I never knew that the people of the Moon's lifespan was so shortened by living on Earth. I don't know if Kris knew either, or if she did know and just didn't want me to know, but it had never came up between us.

Everyone was there at the funeral. Jessie, Alya, Sergei and the little one, Mother and Father, Anna, Lahrri and Mylanda, Tanya, even your brother came. But you never showed up. I thought you would come. I never thought that you could be so cruel after so long. I thought maybe… but no. You don't want me. Don't… need me.

Which is why I'm burning down my home. Maybe when the house that Kris and I shared is gone, I could start over… with you, I hoped. At least, I thought so. I never planned on this. I left the picture, the one from the end of the Mega Competition with all of us who had competed and won, from when we were still friends. I couldn't let it burn! So I ran back in, but I never expected that beam to fall down upon me. It's simply too heavy for me to lift, and you're not here to help me this time. It's hot, Itchan. I never thought it would be this hot.

Oh god… I'm going to die here. I don't want to die here! If I have to die, I want to be with you! ITCHAN! I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I never meant to hurt you! I love you! I didn't mean for this to happen! I'll wait for you, Itchan! We'll keep our promise some day…

I swear it.


Author's Notes: It's a companion piece to