HAK

Hak stood by the balcony, watching the sky turn to a rich canvas of rose and gold. Beneath the open sky, the valley stretched carpeted in green, with flowers of rainbows dancing gracefully with the winds of spring.

Far ahead he could see the great river, glistening like a silver serpent. Farther still, the mountains began, standing proud and tall. And beyond those mountains, reaching up to touch the sky – lay the humankind's world.

"You've finally shown yourself to her," Jaeha spoke as he approached him. He was a tall being, with hair the color of spring in full. He stood beside him, laid a hand on his shoulder, then sighed. "You'll only hurt yourself again."

Hak glanced at him, and he knew what he meant. "I love her."

"And she'll die again. Just like last time." He smiled sourly. "You think it will be any different this time?"

"Leave."

"Hak..."

"I said leave. Leave me alone."

Hak watched sadly as his friend walked through the cold stone floor, past the white columns, away from him. He was aware his friend only wanted to protect him beneath his harsh words.

Jaeha was probably afraid he'd end up like their other kind, Zeno. Like him, Zeno had fallen in love with a mortal woman too. But their days were few, and the woman had withered too soon. In his grief, Zeno had taken his own life, to join his lover on the other side.

But Jaeha would never understand his feelings – he has never fallen in love with a human being himself.

The gods have designed them that way – immortal beings, to tend to the earth all their days. The only love they have ever known was their connection with the earth.

But then she had come into his life one day.

When he had first met her, hundreds of years ago, she was laughing and smiling – radiating her warmth throughout her inner and outer circle. She was vibrant, just like her crimson hair. Her purple eyes had smiled at him, melting his inner walls, reaching out to his soul.

She was more than the earth itself.

Before he knew it, he had fallen in love with her soul. And over time, as he watered her flowers with the falling summer rain, she had fallen to him in return.

"I love you."

But love...doesn't always end well, as they had told him. And very soon, their love was put through a molten iron...

"I couldn't be with you anymore."

Her words shot him like a thousand thousand arrows. "Why?" he searched her face long and hard. "Because I'm not a human? I love you. Please don't do this."

She looked at him with very sad eyes, blinking away her tears. "I love someone else. And I choose him."

"No." He gripped her arm tightly, too scared to ever let her go – "You think I'd just let go of you that easily?"

She slapped him with her other hand; but the sting was nothing compared to the pain he was being drowned into. "Forget about me. My love for you was shallow. Please...I don't want to be with you anymore." And then she left him there, completely shattered and ruined.

She never looked back.

On the morrow she married that man – with hair so golden, ever so fair, ever so gentle. She didn't even gave him a chance to fight for her anymore – to prove to her his love and devotion – she must have really loved that man.

He watched them from afar, every day. But it hurt like hell to him, like he was being pulled through a thousand needles.

So he ceased seeing her, tried to heal his broken heart, concentrated his energy back to the earth.

Yet one fine morning, after so many years, they stumbled upon each other. She was already in her forties, her fair face lined with age. Yet she was still the most beautiful being in his eyes.

"I thought I'd never see you again." Those were the words she said, clear as crystal in his memory. And as soon as she uttered those words, tears fell running on her face.

He found himself reaching to embrace her, with all his whole being being wrecked like a mighty ship tossed in an ocean of storm. For after all those years, his love for her has not gone cold.

She looked up to meet his eyes, held his face, kissed him. "I wanted to be with you," she confessed to him, sobbing. "But I'm a coward, and I'm afraid I'd leave you sooner."

And she sobbed and sobbed in his arms, confessing to him how she had had to convince him she didn't love him, how she had tried to convince herself – all because of the inevitable grief and sadness that would fall upon him. On that day, she laid down her burdens at his feet – all those years of pretending forever gone.

"We can still start over," he whispered in a tender manner. Nothing else mattered anymore – time, love, death – she has loved him all along.

And he smiled down at her, his love for her drowning away his other emotions. He kissed her, this time, promising himself he would never let go of her again.

Yet she was a mortal, and him another.

Death and rebirth...

Hundreds of years was a long, long time. Yet he waited for her still – until the green leaves turned to yellow, to orange, to red...

Until one fine spring: when a girl with purple eyes and hair so red was born into the humankind's world.

He watched her for years, watched her cry for the very first time since forever. He was there when she uttered her first words, was there when she first learned how to walk, was there when her mother died.

Yet he had never dared show himself to her, for he was now but a stranger to her. And everytime he had tried to reach for her, he would find himself remembering the pain of her death, and would surely burst in front of her. So he had waited and waited and waited, like he always did, until he could finally face her calm and composed.

And that afternoon, when he had found her weeping as if one with the sky, he didn't stop himself anymore – he gave in and went to her, adjusting his appearance to match her age. It had taken him all self-control – to not rush there and just lock her safe around his arms – he didn't want to frighten her. He wanted her to feel safe around him, as if he was just an old friend.

And then she had smiled at him, had laughed, had uttered his name.

You think it will be any different this time? Jaeha's words echoed through his mind. Sure it won't be any different. She would die again, just like last time. But he has accepted that fact just hours ago, and it was no more than a mere threat to him.

Let the odds go against them – he will fight. Let them cut him over and over again – he will fight. Let them smash his heart until he goes insane – he will fight.

He will fight for both of them, will fight until the end.