The first time Tobias visits, you refuse to look at him. The hospital ward is deadly silent aside from the shuffling of his feet, the steady beat of your heart, and the deafening sound of all things left unsaid between the two of you.
Tobias shifts uncomfortably in his seat before leaning forward to clasp your limp, lifeless hand within his own. You suspect he does it more out of obligation, or guilt, than out of affection.
"I'm sorry." He says eventually, breaking the silence.
"What for?" You make a list in your head of all the wrong he has done you, he's done more damage than he can even begin to imagine.
"Well for starters, for this." There is no doubt as to what he means. He knows he has ruined you.
"What about everything else? You used me. You played me."
"I didn't know you'd get so attached. It was never my plan to- I just needed you on my side."
"You already had me. You always did." He sees the accusations in your eyes but doesn't want to face them. He turns away.
"Can you forgive me?" He knows the answer before the question has even passed his lips and a quick glance at your face says all you cannot. There is too much to forgive.
The second time he visits he brings chocolate you can't eat and flowers you can't smell. He takes your hand and doesn't let go, letting the silence tell his sorrow.
When you finally look at him, he holds your gaze, his eyes bruised with sleepless nights, tears threatening to spill from them. He leaves shortly after that.
The third time he visits he brings an address book. He has grown thin and tired, his eyes deeply sunk into his skeletal face. You know you are not the only one dying.
"I can't visit you anymore." He tells you, gently sitting down and taking your hand. You are both running out of time.
"I won't let you die alone, Alex." He promises. And he flicks through his address book, calling out names you have never heard before, names of people who would stand by your side and watch you die.
One name takes you by surprise. You have only heard it once before, and at the time you'd never wished to hear it again.
"Martin Rauch…” You croak, “Moritz Stamm.”
You’ve thought of him often since you parted, wondering if he’s okay, if he made it out alive. Sometimes you wonder if he even remembers you. You almost hope he doesn’t.
“Do you want to see him?” Tobias leans back, eyeing you warily.
He nods and leans towards you, so close that your foreheads are almost touching.
“I want to make things right, this is the only way I know how.”
“I understand.” You do, just not enough to forgive him.
He spends another silent hour by your side before leaving, pressing a chaste kiss against your forehead, as though begging for forgiveness one last time. But before you can say anything, he’s fled the room, leaving the heavy door swinging on it’s hinges. You’re glad; you never were good at goodbyes.
Two agonising days later, Moritz bursts into your room, a flurry of white-hot fear, eyes flickering nervously in search of invisible threats. His gaze find you immediately and he stops, as though frozen in place.
“Hi.” He says after a few moments, looking sheepishly at the ground.
You motion for him to sit next to you, and he shuffles to your side, pulling his chair as close to your bed as is physically possible.
“I thought you were in danger, all I heard was that you were dying.” He scans the room again, always on the lookout for trouble.
“Sometimes our own bodies are the enemy.”
His mouth forms a tiny ‘o’ of surprise and he sits back in his chair. Out of all the horrible situations he’d imagined you being in, this was not one of them.
“I’m sorry.” He eventually manages to say, hands balled into tight white fists.
“What for?” You make a list in your head of all the wrong he has done you. You forgive it all, every last bit of it.
“You came back.”
“I left, Alex, and I didn’t even try to save anyone, I killed people, I failed.”
“I don’t care!” He starts at your raised voice, it has grown scratchy and weak since you last met; you hope he doesn’t notice.
“Alex…” Your eyes are wet, you didn’t realise you were crying.
“Can we not talk about the past?”
“What else do we have?”
“This.” You reach out to pull him in for a kiss, but he is confused and you are weak. He stares at you, his puzzled grey eyes squinting into your hollow brown ones. You should have known it was all in your head.
Just as you’re about to give up, to turn away and apologise, he reaches out to take your hand. His rough fingers intertwine with yours and you close your eyes, already exhausted. His tears fall on your face and mingle with your own as he sobs, knowing you’re another person he can’t save, mourning your death before it has even happened.
“Moritz.” You whisper, gazing at him from heavy eyelids, watching his face contort with sadness.
“I’m sorry for asking for you, I didn’t think you’d be upset and-”
He stops you with a kiss, gently placing his lips against your own, well aware of your fragility. He is everything you imagined him being, his lips searing you with the heat of a thousand suns and the strength of a tsunami.
His arms encase you, holding you together when all you really want to do is fall apart. You know you aren’t going to die happy, but this is as close as you’re going to get.