It pained him to look at Akira. So rigid, so unyielding to himself. Two weeks had passed since Eiji's untimely and gruesome death - the funeral was over (they couldn't claim the body) - and Mikhail couldn't recall Akira ever coming to grips with it. No tears, no mention of the nightmares - he could hear Akira's screams in the dark - and no sign that he was ready to talk. Eiji had told him before that Akira had difficulty dealing with loss, but this was hell. He wanted to reach out, to tell him he was here - had been here since the day he fell hard for him - but every line in Akira's body screamed resistance. He was hurting. Anyone with eyes could see that.
Mikhail bit the inside of his lip hard, drawing blood.
He crossed the room and knelt down in front of Akira, trying to maintain eye level with him.
Akira didn't meet his gaze.
It was surreal still, knowing Eiji was gone. The shotgun blasts at close range. Eiji's head gone. Blood everywhere. His lost fingers. The panic. The hysteria kept at bay, as he fought to survive. Everything rushing past in a blur. It didn't feel real, him being here. Alive. Sitting here with Mikhail across from him. Damn Mikhail...he didn't need...didn't want him here. None of this felt real.
First Tak. Now Eiji. All his friends dying before him. He didn't even ask why. He never got the answers. Why should he?
A solid presence on his shoulder. It was strong and warm. He could feel the heat of Mikhail's hand through the thin fabric of his shirt. He felt numb. Cold. Hollow. So much blood and Eiji's body falling sideways. How it haunted his dreams, caused him to wake up in hysterics at night on the verge of sobbing. A weakness. His father's cutting voice mocking him even now. A weakness. He was an assassin. People died in this line of work. People died all the time.
It should have been him. Eiji, he was sure, would've dealt with it better.
It didn't turn out that way.
Eiji was gone. He was still here. And it wasn't fair, even knowing that life handed him a bad set of cards.
Mikhail was very close to him. He could feel the concern, the worry, the anxiety in how tight the grip on his shoulder was. He didn't need to look to know the expression chiseled on his face. Because he knew Mikhail and loved Mikhail and didn't ever want to lose him.
A horrific thought. Without realizing it, his right hand - what was left of it - clutched at Mikhail's sleeve like a lifeline.
"Akira?" A soft voice. "It's okay. I'm here."
He opened his mouth but he'd no words to say. Nothing at all. Just an overwhelming ache that he couldn't describe.
Drawn in pencil. Color overlay in Photoshop to match the color of the sketchbook paper, which got lost in the scanning process.