Zafkiel stood in the doorway to the room he shared with Mikael, just looking. It had been a long, long time since he'd slept in here; weeks, going on months. Half his belongings had already moved to the spare room he was sleeping in due to necessity. But that room still felt like an empty room, devoid of personality. This was the room that felt like 'his' - or rather, like 'theirs'. And that feeling kept drawing him back, day in, day out.
He couldn't let go -- still couldn't let go -- even though some part of him deep inside kept whispering that it was over, ever since that day when Mikael had hit him. There'd been a time or two before in the past, when Mikael had gotten incensed enough to hit him; but every time, he'd made up for it afterwards.
This time was different. And that, as much as the blow itself, told him it was over. No matter how much he kept wanting it to change, kept waiting and hoping for Mikael to sweep into the room and say that he'd realised how foolish he was being, to wrap him in a warm embrace and whisper softly in his ear.
The hallway was quiet. Most of the house was quiet. From the direction of the attic stairwell, he could hear the faint beat of music, and from downstairs, the distant tinkling sound of the piano floated up. But here, right here, there was only silence. Emptiness. Aloneness. And that was the hardest part of not sharing every day with Mikael -- the aloneness.
He moved further into the room, wanting to do something, anything, just to distract himself from thoughts like that. He would've made the bed, but Mikael was fastidious about things like that. He would've tidied the floor, but Mikael didn't drop clothes haphazardly the way he did. There was no tidying to be done, nothing to distract his idle fingers.
Something stopped him, halfway to the bed. Something just didn't feel right about the room. He stopped, and turned slowly, looking around him.
Finally, he focused on the bedside table. It still had the usual minimum of neat clutter, but... it wasn't the same. Mikael's favourite sunglasses were gone. So was his hairbrush. The ashtray, normally his only divergence from tidiness, was empty, washed clean.
An uncomfortable twinge settled in Zafkiel's stomach. He hurried over to the wardrobe and pulled open the door on Mikael's side.
It was packed full of clothes, as usual, and he breathed out again, slowly.
But he knew the contents of that wardrobe as well as he knew his own, and as he looked through it, the twinge in his stomach grew stronger. Most of Mikael's clothes were still there... but not all of them. And the pieces that Zafkiel recognised as missing were all among his favourites, items that he wore on a very regular basis.
Zafkiel closed the wardrobe door again and leant against it. That feeling that had stopped him at first, that had made him look closer at everything; he thought he recognised it now. It was that emptiness again. That lack of anyone. But this time, perhaps it was more than just the emptiness inside him. This time, maybe it was the emptiness of the whole room.
He was flying out in less than a week. Would Mikael really do that to him? Just up and leave without even saying goodbye?
He quietly moved to close the bedroom door, blocking out any chance of the others passing by and seeing him, in here alone. And then he sank down on the bed, not caring if he messed up the covers anymore.
He knew Mikael probably better than anyone had ever known him. And although he'd always glossed over Mikael's shortcomings... he knew those better than anyone too. And so he could answer those questions easily. Yes, Mikael would up and leave without saying goodbye. Mikael wouldn't face him in the final moment; he'd just quietly remove himself from the scene entirely, as if it had nothing to do with him. Better than facing the reality of a situation he refused to handle.
Zafkiel buried his head in his hands and began to cry.
Zafkiel gave Raziel one last hug, and then pulled away from him, away from all of them, and hurried towards the boarding gates. As he reached the final location from where he'd be able to see them, he couldn't help himself; he stopped and looked back again.
They were all there, to see him off, and they waved when they saw him looking. Amidst their smiling faces, he keenly missed the one he most wanted to see -- Mikael's.
Mikael had not returned to their house since that day, just as he'd guessed. Their room had stayed empty, empty and alone, and as he'd removed all his belongings one by one, packing them into his luggage or for shipping, he'd felt the emptiness in there more and more, until it had become almost unbearable.
And now... there really was no going back. Mikael had forced his hand, and he'd made his choice. And he'd chosen the job, not Mikael. And he was going to have to learn to live with that choice; be happy with it, even. He should have been happy with it, deliriously happy, and that was the worst part of all.
He put on a brave face, smiling for the others, and waved his final goodbye. In the end, they'd all promised that they would go with him, that they'd be joining him over there, and that he wouldn't be alone. But they all had their own arrangements to make as well... and who knew how long that would take. So for now, he was alone. Again.
He turned determinedly and passed through the gates, refusing to cry. He'd chosen his future and now he was going to go and meet it. And he was determined to make the most of it. Without Mikael.