The atmosphere here was…. Horrifying.
And the scenery didn't add much to it.
It was a void. It had life- but not the kind you wanted.
It was beautiful- yet it was the thing that birthed hell.
And it was all his fault.
Edward sat on the patio of the house. Staring out at the jumble of mess that a happy universe once called ‘home’. He called this all...something much more inappropriate. It was like every single past failure had come back to taunt him- to laugh and spit in his face, to kick every attempt he made back down into the dirt.
How many times had he done this?
How many times had he tried...and failed?
And now...for the last time, he had failed again.
How could he fix this? This was all his fault, he brought pain everywhere he went, and only hurt his allies even more…
They despised him..didn't they?
Over and over these thoughts played in Richtofen's head, over and over, he was forced to face the truth.
Monty was right...there were some things you just couldn't change…
But maybe...just maybe if Edward went back once more and stopped the entire source of the problem- they would all be happy and free. The children, and their future selves.
That would mean...Edward...and the entire group 935, Griffin Castle, everything- would have to be shut down. All of it...if it ceased to exist, then perhaps it would lead for a better life.
Edward's green eyes scanned over the vast area, grimacing at the all too familiar places he had gone and come from.
Footsteps from behind made Edward tense and go into a defensive state faster than he had ever done before, his hand already on his pistol as he whipped around and aimed at Tank's head, pupils shrunken- dilated from fear. He had been off the charts mad lately, and the other's grew wary of his constant blabbering, Dempsey more so than the other two.
Tank held up his hands, stiff but unafraid and not at all bothered by Richtofen's jumpy attitude. “Hey..Easy, Doc’.....it's just me..”
Richtofen lowered the weapon, feeling silly and a bit ashamed to be seen at such a weakened state. But Tank had already seen this all, hadn't he? He turned away and lowered his head, no interest of looking at Dempsey. He probably came to scold him.
“What do you want, Dempsey. Shouldn't you be talking to Takeo and Nikolai?”
“Not..necessarily,” Tank replied, seating himself beside the doctor before he looked out over the crushed up worlds. He had to admit, Monty wasn't lying. This was a fucking shit show.
He delighted in seeing some good ol’ memories- and with most he didn't appreciate the mere thought of them.. it was scary.
“Well?” Edward's voice broke through Tank's train of thought, blue eyes sliding to meet green- but green never looked up from the floor.
“...They're busy...having a moment to the person you love isn't such a bad idea, you know…”
“Oh- right. Let me just go find my childhood sweetheart then, how is that?” Richtofen spat at him, his tone harsh.
Tank flinched ever so slightly, feeling a bit of anger rise. No- not now, Tank. If there was ever a time not to be pissed, that was now. He sighed and then held back his urge to slap Edward upside the head or flick his ear. “Well...I'm here. So there's that..”
Edward paused, even his breathing went quiet as he offered a quick glance at Dempsey, eyes wide before they narrowed. “Yes, you are- and why is that? Did you come here to chide me or to coddle me? Because either way, I would like neither!! Now go away, du Arschloch!!”
“Hey!” Dempsey barked out, grabbing Richtofen's arm albeit a bit too roughly as he turned him in his direction. He couldn't help it, Richtofen had been like this for too long already, he lost his patience. “What the fuck is your problem?! This whole time you've been becoming more of a nut, and you're lashing out at us-- at me for no goddamn reason!”
“What I do and how i act should not concern yo-”
“Shut up!” Tank hissed at Edward, the thin man's eyes going wide before he fell silent and listened.
“It DOES concern me- you know why? Because I'm your fucking boyfriend! Yet you treat me like i'm just another stupid member in your little party- you can't just kiss me and love me one day and then blow me off to the side the next! That isn't how this works! You picked me, now you're stuck with me until the bitter end! I get it, Eddie- you're scared. We all are! But this whole time you've been moping about everything you've done and all the things that have gone wrong…!” Dempsey's hold softened along with his tone and his gaze, his touching moving up to cup Edward's face as he frowned.
“But what good has happened, Dempsey? I...I have failed yet again, and I have hurt you all- don't you hate me? I don't understand-” Richtofen's voice broke slightly, his body starting to tremble.
“You got us this far, Eddie. And you never gave up…. Even now, you're pushing your way to the top. It's gonna be hard, yeah- but don't forget about us. About me… I'm here with you...now and forever. And Nikolai sure as hell isn't going to go out without a fight. Same for Tak. We've all lost too much and fought too hard to get here...we aren't about to fail. ….you watch my back Eddie, and I promise I'll always watch yours…. I love you…”
Edward's stared at Dempsey, eyes watering as he bit his lip and gently leaned into the Marine’s touch. Why….he didn't deserve him… but Tank loved him- He really did. If nothing proved it, this was certainly the proof to close up any negative thoughts that told Edward otherwise. He was like his angel…. He'd never understand why someone like Tank picked him, but at least he could enjoy it while they had time.
Richtofen broke and sobbed, letting himself get wrapped up in Dempsey's warm, comforting arms as he shook. He was scared. They all were. But at least he didn't have to face it alone. He understood that a little better now.
After Richtofen finished crying and his tears had dried, he and Tank sat there, gazing at the end of the road. Their road, anyway.
“...So am i….”
Richtofen blinked and looked up at Tank, his gaze slightly confused. “But..why are you? After this you might all be able to be at peace and home-”
“I'm scared I'll never see you, or the other's again.” Tank cut through, his gaze still on the area surrounding them.
That's…. Richtofen sat up, keeping hold of one of Tank's hands as he tilted his head. “Don't you want to go home? You spoke so much of wanting to complete your mission-”
“Finishing a job is one thing, Eddie...home is another. ...I don't really have a home anymore, and even if I did, I don't think I'd be able to go back to being… ‘normal’. My home, my heart-- my ‘happiness’... it's all with you guys, and there's no place I'd rather be. Heaven or hell, you guys are where I'm content.”
Edward fell silent, a fresh new set of tears threatening to spill from his eyes as he gripped onto Tank's hand tighter. “Dempsey….”
Tank looked at him and smiled, leaning towards him before he pressed their foreheads together, raising Eddie's hand up to his mouth and kissing it. “Don't cry, Eddie...hey, I've been meaning to ask you-” Tank slowly stood, tugging Edward with him before he wrapped his other arm around his waist.
“This...may be our last time together. And no matter what happens….I'll always be with you…. I love you...I really….just...can't say it enough.”
Richtofen smiled and kept his gaze on Tank, even as they started to sway a bit. “I'll always love you as well….stupid American…~”
They laughed and Tank spun him around slowly, leading him along the house patio before he stopped and dipped him slightly. It was just them right now. Nothing else could bother them- not even the end of the world.
Edward listened, all attention on Tank as he blushed. The way he looked at him… it made him feel like the most beautiful thing in the universe.
“Will you Marry me?”
Edward's body went stiff and relaxed at the same time, uncertain what he heard was right. That was a hell of a question- you might as well ask Edward what the secrets of the universe were.
“I know you're probably thinking why now of all times...but...well, do I really need to explain that..?~ I don't ever want to leave with us just being some type of ‘friends with benefits’... I really, really love you, Eddie...I know it might not be a good thing to ask, but i-”
Edward stood straight and wrapped his arms around Dempsey's neck, giving the sweetest laugh Tank had ever heard come from him. “Ja!~”
“I don't know German but I think I'm smart enough to know that means yes...right..?”
Edward laughed and nodded, looking at him with so much joy it couldn't possibly be fake. Tank grinned and hugged him tightly, laughing before he picked him up and spun him in circles. Even if it's for one night, one hour, one minute- they were finally happy.
“i don't exactly have a ring, but- it is something important to me. Here.” Tank set Edward down gently and moved underneath his jacket a bit, tugging out his dog tags before he slid them off and set them around Edward's neck. Richtofen couldn't deny the gift- but something so special and close to Tank's heart? “Dempsey…..are you sure..?”
“That’s kind of a silly question, don't you think?~”
Edward rolled his eyes and then wrapped his arms around Tank's neck, resting his head on his chest as they began to dance slowly, Tank's arms wrapped around his waist once more. “ooh...bride and groom dance so soon? We haven't even had the ceremony yet..” Edward laughed and snuggled into Tank, sighing. “Well...maybe our wedding doesn't have to be like others..~”
“Fair point~...if that's the case, you mind if we have two honeymoons? You know, one before the wedding and one after?”
“You trying to bed me twice in one week might leave me handicap for awhile…”
“I was sort of going for a snuggle day for us on the first honeymoon-”
“..You know, sex for both works fine for me if you'd like it..~”
“Oh shush...” Edward gently patted his head and then closed his eyes, listening to Dempsey's heartbeat. He was comfortable, even as his senses dulled from his focus on being completely content with Tank.
Takeo and Nikolai walked out from the house, watching the two for a bit before Takeo gently knocked on the side of the house to get their attention.
Tank glanced up, but kept dancing with Eddie, rubbing his back in a soothing manner. Edward was falling asleep, silly German- he was so happy...he didn't want to spoil their moment, but he knew he had to…
“Eddie...love… Hey, wake upppp…” Tank whispered in his ear, gently kissing down to his neck.
“Hmmh….?” Richtofen opened his eyes and blushed, smiling sweetly before he looked back at Takeo and Nikolai, a slight frown forming. It was time…
“We'll be there in a second..” Tank spoke, giving the other two a slight thumbs up.
Takeo and Nikolai nodded, both walking off closer than usual- until Tank noticed Nikolai had his arm wrapped around Tak’s waist. Love birds…. But he was sure they just went through their own little version of ‘goodbye’...
“Come on, Eddie. We gotta go..” Dempsey rubbed Edward's cheek lovingly, caressing him like he could break with the slightest touch that was too fast.
“I don't want you to leave me...I don't want to be apart from you, Dempsey….” Edward's joyful expression fell entirely, sadness in his voice.
Dempsey felt his chest tighten and the air in his throat catch, his grip on Richtofen getting more firm as he hugged him. “it's okay, Eddie….I'm not leaving you. I'll be beside you, every step of the way. I promise.” He put their foreheads together, smiling as he let his hands slide down.
Richtofen shook his head.
“Heheh...me neither….but come on. We can do this…..” Tank kissed him deeply- with all the passion and love he could give before he gently pulled away, lacing their fingers together.
“We can finish this...all of it?” Edward looked at him, now determined and hopeful as he squeezed Tank's hand.
“All of it. Together.” Tank squeezed his hand back, grinning before they both walked back into the house and to the front, Nikolai and Takeo joining in before they reached the entrance.
“Wait a second-” Tank let go of Edward's hand and gave him a quick kiss- to hell with the other's if the had been dull enough not to figure it out yet. “i think I left something back there, be right back!”
“Hurry!” Edward called out to Tank as he went to the back once again, smiling.
Tank went outside and looked around before the shine Edward's gun made him go and pick it up, a small smirk spread across his face as he sighed.
“Hey, Cinderella! You forgot your ‘shoe’ !”
He chuckled and ran back, memorizing the face Edward made when he saw him again. Apparently he heard~
’I love you just the way you are, never change, Eddie…~’
“Everyone ready now?” Takeo offered a soft smile, looking tired for once- but just as determined as Edward.
“Yeah. Let's get this over with.” Dempsey cracked his neck and his hand found it’s way back to Richtofen's- but he didn't mind of course. Nikolai kissed Takeo one last time, muttering something in Russian that made the smaller man blush before they both nodded.
“Promise to see each other soon, no matter what happens?”
“Promise.” They all spoke, and then just like that, the final fight had begun.