A simple hello could make someone’s day. Ignoring them could break it. Ignoring them for weeks, however… that could break those weeks down into dust.
Alba had lost count of the days when Soldier had ignored him. Sure, they talked, but it was minimal stuff. He wanted a real conversation. He wondered if he was selfish for that. He wondered if Soldier just didn’t like him. Alba liked Soldier so much and yet…
Alba’s sleepy thoughts were interrupted by the sound of something rustling beside him. The three of them, Soldier, Alba, and Ruki, were out camping again since there were no towns nearby. Alba shivered. Someone took his blanket. He didn’t want to care about that. But tears slowly stung his eyes. He felt bad, like a weak crybaby. But things were too much right now.
“Ehh… if you’re gonna cry about it then take it back. It smells anyway,” a voice from beside him echoed in the night. His blanket was tossed back on top of him, and he huddled under it. He tried to stay quiet but his sniffling was getting louder the more he thought about the past few weeks.
“Hero… are you actually crying?” The voice stabbed at him. It was Soldier, finally speaking to him. Alba couldn’t tell what his tone of voice was. He wished it was kind.
“No...I’m not!” he huffed from under the blankets. He sniffed one more time before trying to fall asleep.
The next time Alba woke up it was still dark out. The moon glistened above him. His eyes were a bit sore. His entire body was sore. Probably from sleeping on the ground in an uncomfortable position. He rolled onto his back and looked up at the sky. It was so vast, and it reminded Alba of how little his worries were compared to the rest of the world. He could feel tears threatening to fall out again. He didn’t want to be like this, weak and disgusting, no wonder Soldier hated him-
“You’re still awake?”
Alba jerked at the sound. He looked over to find Soldier yawning, laying in his own pile of blankets. Alba was jealous of how many he had. He looked down at his own measly sheet and sighed. Steeling his nerves, he asked him.
“Why are you avoiding me?”
Soldier’s eyes showed a hint of some sort of emotion for a second, before going back to aloofness.
“Well, you were asleep, or so I thought. Didn’t want to wake you up and have you cry at me, crybaby .” The last word stung Alba more than being stabbed in the side. He frowned slightly before opening up his mouth to speak. He couldn’t say anything though. Soldier was right, he was a crybaby. He was worthless, friendless, he should just stay out there in the cold-
His thoughts were interrupted again by a blanket being thrown on top of him. This time, a soft fluffy blanket. He sighed shakily before adjusting himself under it. It smelled like Soldier.
“Ew, you’re smelling the blanket? That’s disgusting, Hero.”
“Shut up! I’m just trying to breathe!”
The two laid in silence for a while. Alba was warm now, but still shook. Just a bit.
“Soldier.” Alba asked.
“Mm?” Soldier responded.
“Why have you been avoiding me for so long?”
Silence was back between them. Alba heard a sigh and looked over to Soldier. His eyes glinted with another emotion that Alba couldn’t pinpoint.
“I would tell you if I could,” he said quietly.
Alba blinked a few times, perplexed. What the hell does that mean? He wanted to say something, anything, to Soldier. But he couldn’t.
“If I told you, you wouldn’t understand,” Soldier broke the silence. Alba was angry now, shaking more out of anger than whatever had captured him before. He sat up and glared at Soldier. Shaking, he grabbed ahold of Soldier’s collar, ready to shake him. But all that happened were sobs. Pained, tiny sobs. His grip on his collar softened, and he let go. He wished he could let go of these emotions as well. Soldier sat up, eyes widened now.
“Y-you… you’re just a big idiot! You have no idea ho-how I feel and-” Alba hiccuped, full on crying now. Soldier brushed a hand against his shoulder, shaking now a bit too. Alba could swear he saw Soldier’s face grimace in another emotion that was foreign to him. Alba hated showing emotions in front of him. He wanted to seem strong. But he wasn’t, and he had to accept that.
Soldier gently set his hands on Alba’s shoulders.
“Hero-” his words were cut off by a sob from Alba. “Hero I swear to God-” more sobs. He grabbed Alba’s face and made him look at him. Alba stopped crying.
“If you keep crying, you’re going to wake Ruki up. And I assume that’s the last thing you want,” he said coldly. Alba inhaled, slowly. And exhaled. And inhaled. His breathing was shaky, but he was no longer crying.
“I just want to talk with you, and be with you, and it hurts dammit! I don’t understand why I feel like this, I know you’re here, you’re here right now and I-I just…!” His voice trailed off, his hands shaking on his lap.
“Hero… you really need to sleep,” was all that Soldier said. Something erupted within Alba.
He glared up at Soldier, who was still shaking himself, and yelled.
“I’m in love with you dammit!” he shrieked, headbutting Soldier on accident while trying to cling to his shirt. He rubbed his head slightly, before tearing up again. He cried against Soldier’s shirt. Soldier let him. He rubbed his back lightly and sighed.
“Alba,” Soldier started. That caught Alba’s attention. He stiffened, and slowly let go of Soldier’s shirt and backed up a bit. He exhaled slowly, and looked up at Soldier. Soldier’s face was a little red, and he was avoiding eye contact. That’s all he does , Alba thought.
“...I’m sorry I… I didn’t mean to yell that…” he mumbled, messing with the hem of his shirt. Soldier sighed.
“You really must be sleep deprived but... “ Soldier’s voice trailed off. Alba looked at him again. A flicker of sadness was in Soldier’s eyes.
“I’m not sleep deprived! Or even if I was I’d still feel the same, and I’m sorry that I do, I’m… I’m sorry…” He hung his head down. Soldier must hate him even more now. Or at least dislike. Or be grossed out. Is all three possible?
“H- no, Alba, listen,” Soldier said, “if I weren’t an adamant bastard I would accept your feelings.” Alba didn’t hear him quite right.
“...Come again?” Alba asked.
“ I’m never repeating any of that .”
Soldier’s face was a bit more red, and Alba was genuinely surprised. If he heard him right, at least.
“Then why would you avoid me?” Alba asked.
“It’s for your own good,” Soldier spat out. “Someday I’m going to leave and you’ll be all alone and I’m not going to start anything if it’s going to end that soon .”
Alba thought for a moment.
“I… I mean all things come to an end right? Even if you’re going to leave… for… whatever reason, then… I can handle it.”
Soldier looked at him.
“I may be a crybaby, but I can still handle things. I’d like to think so at least. I mean, I’m still here right? So I’ve obviously handled things,” he laughed bitterly. He wished he could be this positive for himself. “So, if you’re worried about me, don’t be. If… if you just don’t want to… do anything about this then I’ll stop trying to convince you then. I’m sorry,” he whispered.
The silence between them was painful. Alba could feel regret crawling up his back and into his heart.
“Then… you’re fine with me being like this?” Soldier said all of a sudden. “Being… me. I won’t avoid you anymore, but I can’t promise I’ll be here forever.”
Alba looked up at him, then looked over to the sky. The sun was rising, and the colour of the sky was a light, pleasant blue.
“If you’re fine with me being me, then of course,” he responded, smiling slightly. Soldier looked at the sky as well.
“...It’s already sunrise. I need to sleep,” he grumbled.
“W-wait! Are we just going to leave this here then? Do nothing about it?!” Alba retorted. Soldier nodded tiredly, and he wrapped himself back up in his blankets. Alba sat there for a moment dumbfounded. His mind was running with all the things that have happened in the past few hours. It fizzed out, and exhaustion grabbed him. He crawled back under his own blankets.
“...Goodnight, Ros,” he mumbled just loud enough for him to hear.
“Goodnight Alba,” he responded.
The next morning Ruki scolded them for staying up so late.