By Rose Argent

It was one of those nightmare moments when everything slows to a crawl, and your limbs are suddenly too heavy to move. All you can do it watch. Watch, and curse yourself for not preventing it.

We were all careless. We knew that the youkai hoping for Gyuumaoh's resurrection had thrown aside the rules we were raised to believe in, we knew it, but we didn't entirely grasp what that meant. Humans and youkai are not supposed to breed, but they do. Technology and magic are not supposed to be mixed, but they have been. Youkai don't use guns, but this one did.

It had come up behind Gojyo, and got its chest caved in by a negligent back kick, as Gojyo took care of the youkai in front of him with the shakujo. I suppose Gojyo must have dismissed it as a serious threat, at that point, because he took half a second to deal with a few of the many youkai that had congregated around Sanzo before turning to deal with the injured youkai a little more permanently.

Half a second. The youkai was close enough that Gojyo had to retract the chain as he turned, his grip high on the shaft of the shakujo as he brought it around. The youkai was close enough that when it pulled the trigger of the sawed-off shotgun it had been hiding, the muzzle was almost touching Gojyo.

I couldn't move. I just stood there, and I swear I could see the bullet, everything was going so slow.

The youkai's aim was off, but not by enough. Gojyo has walked away from so many things; he's been shot, impaled, stabbed and cut and beaten, and he's always gotten back up. A few more inches, that's all, just a few more inches to the left, and Gojyo would have walked away from this, too. A few inches and I wouldn't have had to watch Gojyo's throat be torn apart, shredded, reduced to random bits of bone and flesh and blood.

Gojyo's body hit the ground, and I still hadn't moved. His head hit the ground a few feet away, and that's when I lost it.

Everything's a little bit fuzzy for a while after that. I remember hearing more shots being fired, and thinking that it sounded like Sanzo's gun. A lot of shots. I think that vaguely person-shaped smear on the ground might be all that's left of the youkai that killed Gojyo. I remember getting it into my head that there had to be a way to heal Gojyo, and then I remember Sanzo's fist hitting my jaw and knocking me flat. That's about where things get clearer again.

He shook me and yelled at me and cursed at me. What he said was, "He's *dead*! He was too fucking slow, and now he's dead. If you're stupid enough to waste your ki trying to heal him, you'll be dead, too."

What I heard was, "He abandoned me. I'll never forgive you if you do, too," and even though I didn't answer him, he let go of me and walked away, dragging Goku out of the room. Trusting me, in his own way.

Are we just running in circles? How many times are we going to re-live the things that almost destroyed us? How many times is Sanzo going to have his faith betrayed? How many times am I going to have my love torn away from me?

If I just lie here, if I close my eyes and just rest here, beside him, I can almost believe he's not dead. But I can't feel his heartbeat against my cheek, there isn't the comforting weight of his arm around me. I can't stand it.

"Damn you! Damn you, Sha Gojyo! You can't do this to me! I can't lose you!"

I'm yelling at a severed head. I'm holding your head in my lap and screaming at it. And I know, I know how insane this must look, how insane it *is*, but I can't seem to stop.

The anger doesn't last. It slips away, leaves me with nothing but... nothing.

Blood has soaked into the ends of your hair. It's not really the same colour at all. I don't know why I didn't notice that before. "I love your hair, you know. I don't think you believe me when I tell you, but I do. Just like all those silly girls, but I know what it means, and I love it anyway. Because it's you. I love you, everything about you. Except maybe the way you always taste like cigarettes. But you're a good kisser, so I forgive you that part. I love your hair, and your lips, and your skin. I love the sounds you make, I love the way you smile at me. But I think I love your eyes most."

Over and over again, I trace the scar that curves so dangerously close to your eye. "I even love these scars, because you wouldn't be the person you are now if your past had been different."

"I didn't think I could ever love someone like I loved Kanan. But, I'll tell you a secret... I love you more than I ever did her. It hurt, when I realised that. I felt like I was betraying her. But in the end, it all comes down to the fact that when I was with her, I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, and when I'm with you, the rest of my life isn't even close to long enough. It wasn't long enough, Gojyo. You can't leave me yet. I won't let you."

And again, I follow the path of that scar. I always did love your eyes.


Hakkai's taking an awfully long time. Sanzo just glares at me every time I say we should go check on him. Actually, Sanzo's kinda scaring me, too. He hasn't said a word, or hit me, or told me to shut up. He just glares, and keeps lighting cigarette after cigarette.

I wish that the last thing I said to Gojyo hadn't been that he was an idiot, and to just go away. I wish I could be sure that he knew I didn't mean it. Well, I meant the idiot part, but I didn't want him to go away. Not like this.

I'll never call you a stupid erokappa again if you say it was all a big joke, I promise.

But Hakkai is alone, when he finally appears, weaving through the trees gracefully as he makes his way towards us. And I want to say something, but all the words just fly right away when he pulls a cigarette out of a full pack and lights it, all in one smooth motion, like he's been doing it all his life.

Something is wrong. Something other than the obvious. I can feel Sanzo standing straighter behind me, tensing. He feels it too.

Hakkai gets a little closer, and as he squints up at the sun, I notice he's not wearing his monocle.

"We'd better get going soon. We're losing the light." He's so calm. Like nothing happened. He sounds just like his old self, but... well, he shouldn't. Shouldn't be standing there, smiling, while the smoke from his cigarette makes lazy curls in the air.

And then the whole world does a backflip when he looks back down and smiles at us, ever so serene. Sanzo swears, and his cigarette drops from his fingers, bouncing off my shoulder.

He's looking at us like we're the ones who have gone insane. Looking at us through two perfect eyes, two perfectly functional, undamaged eyes. His left eye is just the way it always was, but the eye he could barely see out of... isn't.

Hakkai blinks, looking slightly puzzled, and for just one moment I tell myself I was imagining things. But when he opens his eyes again, they're still mismatched. The left is still green, and the right is still... it's...

It's red.