„You can't betray us like this.“
„Do you want to bet?“
„Palermo! Don't move!“
This voice, he would recognise it anywhere. There he was, Helsinki, standing next to Tokio, keeping his hands in the air showing him he meant no harm.
„Have some dignity, Helsinki!“
Hurting others was a skill he developed to perfection over the years and used any time he felt defenseless or when a situation required it. And Palermo wasn't one to fool himself, he felt defenseless almost every minute since „that“ happened back in the monastery. Being an asshole to everyone became quite normal, hateful words came easily and left his mouth faster than he could think about their meaning. Usually, people would shout at him, give him the middle finger before turning to leave. Some of them even tried to give him a black eye which, honestly, did not surprise him. But not this guy. This absolute beast of a man with his bald head, half gray, half white beard, tattoos all over his upper body, and ridiculously strong muscles. No, this fucking super soldier who was able to break anyone in two was an actual teddy bear, a fricking marshmallow ready to melt by a single embrace.
And he was talking to him softly, calmingly, reasoning why walking out from the building is betrayal, taking slow steps towards him. The way Helsinki spoke made him feel like a wounded animal who is watching a vet approach. An animal can see the kind, reassuring smile but still knows that pain comes before relief.
The walls that he carefully built around his heart were still standing but as he was watching Helsinki's face, tracked his movements as he still took small steps, listened to his words and voice, he felt tears gathering in his eyes and the strong, cold bricks crack. It made his blood boil.
He shouted as Helsinki got too close to him for his liking. Building those walls, those watchtowers, took years of pain, sacrifice, and acceptance, he couldn't let them get destroyed so easily... And still...
„I don't wanna kill you today, fatty.“
A moment passed, really, just a heartbeat but Palermo could clearly see the change in Helsinki's behaviour. The kind, calming smile disappeared, and in its place, there was cold determination mixed together with something that even the genius Martín Berrote couldn't identify. It was strange, he never saw this side of Helsinki before and it confused Palermo to no end. Where is the huge smile he got used to? The eyes that radiated happiness and sparkled before revealing the end of a joke?
„You don't wanna kill me?“
And in the next moment, Palermo's ever analysing mind went into overload. Helsinki, this brainless, order following maniac picked up one of the mines, no, both of them. Did he really think he can win this battle? That he, Palermo, will throw away everything because a soldier decided to sacrifice himself? He really thought that his feelings towards him will make any difference? That he will stop? That he will give away his heart after it got broken, used, played with, and then thrown away?
Palermo just stood there while Helsinki got closer and closer, unable to say anything. Like one of his brain cells had finally had enough of his bullshit and decided to push the „off“ button to give his heart space to finally try and function. To process the meaning of the words, the actions, and reveal the truth behind every syllable, every motion. To pump emotions instead of blood. Confusion, warmth, fear, hope, hate, faith, pain... love.
A warm body pressed to his, strong arms wrapped around him, deep, soothing voice in his ear, and soft lips on his neck woke up his heart from its long, emotionless slumber. The walls around it did not open further, did not crumble, not at all, but the cracks were more than enough for rays of sunshine to get through and reach its cold surface melting it with care.
„I got you.“
Who knows, maybe even a lonely tear rolled down Palermo's face but of that only he will know.