He couldn’t really recall what his funeral was like.
He went through the motions, the not quite shock of watching his lover die numbing his senses, turning his thoughts into mere crackles of white noise. He remembered placating the sobbing girls, clapping his mourning best friend on the back, offering support, but he couldn’t for the life of him remember anything past the moment when they lowered the casket.
No one can really survive the war unscathed, he knows this, but he can’t help but think that his losses are far too great when compared with some of the others’.
He stopped contacting anyone from SEES, close relationships be damned. It’s not like he doesn’t long for their companionship, and them his, or that he doesn’t miss their easy camaraderie, but he can’t help but think that whenever everyone’s around, he’s just going to waltz in, all awkward hunch and quiet authority, and he doesn’t think that he can go through the myriad of tiny (unbearable) heartbreaks and disappointment that he’ll have to endure before he’ll get used to his absence.
“Hey, Minato, what if—“ he paused, eyes downcast. “What if we fail?”
A long sigh, a shrug.
“Then we fail.”
There was laughter. Crazed, manic laughter. The city was overwhelmed by shadows, the streets turned into little rivers of blood, flowing from the living, the dead, the ones torn apart, half eaten, minds long gone, bodies only chewed and devoured for the sake of pleasing the shadows’ ego and boredom. He was insane. They were all insane, the members of SEES. Their personas both aiding and destroying the shadows, each turning into the nightmarish versions of themselves. Above them all, he hovers, sitting on Messiah’s shoulder, lips curved into a satisfied smile. He watched as they shoot themselves in the head with their evokers, over and over again, cackling in glee as more and more shards of themselves flew off, feeding their personas, exposing them to the bone. All their lies, their hopes, their dreams, their nightmares, out in the open in the form of crystalline shards that are neither substantial nor are they insubstantial. It was freeing, in a way, having all their walls chipped off and not having to pretend any longer. They were free.
He gurgles, voice beyond his control, excitement and adrenaline controlling his actions, his thoughts, his perception, and as he look towards the figure above them, intent on thanking him and demanding that he’d join in on the festivities, the ritual, the celebration, the bloodbath, he saw him mouth, “This, this is what would have happened if I hadn’t died.”
He regrets many things, really. He regrets not having spent more time with his sister, and spending more time with his childhood friend.
He regrets not caring about him more.
He regrets clamming up and not letting him in, continuously denying that there’s more to their relationship than releasing pent-up emotions and letting loose the most, though.
He developed a strange habit after the surreal war. Most people seek one night stands just to satisfy their carnal desires, but he seeks them for their companionship. After the sweat on their bodies dried up and the afterglow fades away into a comfortable silence, he flicks on a cigarette, (he can’t seem to stop smoking them, nowadays. He wonders about what that says about him) and starts talking about inane things. A quirk of his, or a random childhood memory, or perhaps one of his (surprisingly) many pet peeves. He knows that his sex partners are discomfited by this... this intimacy, but he doesn’t care.
None of them has any of Minato’s physical traits (he doesn’t want to replace him with anyone else, be it temporarily or permanently. He’s him, and he’s his) but if he close his eyes as he rants on, he can pretend that he’s telling him about himself, giving in to his whims.
He hopes that the dead can hear through the ears of the living, because he can’t bear the thought of being too late yet again.
Really, he didn’t know that their time is that limited. He thought that they’ll either survive this together, or die together
He never thought that one of them would leave the other behind.
It’s been a year after the funeral and, by chance, he passed his old dormitory, listening to the grunts and groans of the protesting machinery of his second hand car, and he can’t help but glance towards his old room’s window pane, but he didn’t expect be swept by a torrent of old memories of wordless fights and sated sighs and peaceful slumber and—
He slammed on the gas pedal and sped away as fast as he possibly could.
He remembers their last night most vividly.
Them being hormonal teenagers, they haven’t quite mastered the art of taking things slowly, and their last tryst was as hurried and desperate as any of their other ones. Amidst their gradually slowing pants and breaths, he felt Minato mouthing something at the nape of his neck, and felt warm moisture that couldn’t be anything other than tears falling onto his skin.
He acted as if he didn’t notice the tears or his slightly hitched, controlled breathing for fear of what he might find out if he asked about his wellbeing.
[Everything. He would’ve found out about everything.]
After yet another round of sex, his partner finally succumbed to fatigue. He doesn’t mind it when his one night stands stay the night, after all, it’s not like he’s sharing his flat with anyone, and having a warm body near him is comforting.
(He’d be lying if he said that, under the shadows that turned everything into smears of dark gray and black, he never pretended that the person sleeping next to him is Minato.)
On the nights where nightmares forced him out of bed and into the mostly abandoned kitchen downstairs, he muses over things that he dare not think about in broad daylight over a cup of coffee. He thinks about things like what if’s and if only’s, throwing him in to a vicious cycle of regret and an all-consuming self-loathing.
On rare occasions where their nightmares coincide, he’d just sit side by side with Minato, each sipping their own preferred drink, silence accompanying them. There’s something about the silence and Minato’s presence that pacified his mind, subduing his morbid thoughts.
He was grateful for that. Is. God knows how much longer he can bear those thoughts before he snapped for good.
He curled in on himself, eyes peering into his nearly empty mug of coffee. He’d had one of his recurring nightmares, one that leaves him shaken to the core of his being. He finds it odd, the fact that he can’t even recall the slightest shreds of it. That’s probably for the better, he thinks. He doesn’t need any extra burden on his mind.
As per usual, he mulled over nothing, everything. Thinks about what he was like in the past, in the future. Thinks about what could’ve been, and what was.
He doesn’t like what he sees. Once a coward, always a coward, and he’s the best of the best.
“Hey yourself, Minato.”
“You know,” he blinked. “Have you ever thought about taking the coward’s way out?”
“Suicide. Have you ever contemplated suicide?”
“Tch. As if. I’d never sink that low. Ever.”
“Oh,” he paused, lips oddly tight. “Good.”
He recalled the strangest of their very limited conversations, courtesy of his colleague commenting on the rise of teen suicides. He’d been prattling about it. Why did they commit suicide? They still have their life ahead of them. They’ve barely lived through anything. Tried everything. That’s such a shame, isn’t it?
He’d been... Startled, to say the least, when he had that flashback. All he could do was nod, earning a scowl from said colleague.
He’d been so stupid. Idiotic. The answer’s been there all along, buried in his mind.