Happy Birthday, Silvester.
Sorry about crying.
But it wasn't supposed to be this sad. It's even worse when you know the whole plot.
Romance. Fantasy. War. Add on coming-of-age. Mix in a bit of impossible love.
I think I'll go cry now.
“Happy birthday, Silvester,” whispered Ichiro quietly.
Silvester stirred and opened his eyes to see Ichiro’s exhausted, smiling face above him. “What?”
“It’s your birthday,” said Ichiro softly. Silvester could see the pain in his eyes, and knew that it was pure determination that kept Ichiro alive. Otherwise, he would have died from all the wounds already. “Happy birthday.”
“You were counting?”
Ichiro puffed sadly, a small smile on his lips. Silvester shuffled closer to him, the cold metal chains clinking along the stone. “Thank you, Ichiro,” whispered Silvester.
“You’re welcome.” Ichiro put a gentle arm around Silvester, but it wasn’t the same as before. The arm had grown a lot thinner, and it was avoiding Silvester at places, places that Silvester knew were heavily damaged. “After all, it’s only your birthday once a year.”
There was a long silence.
“You know,” said Ichiro, “I wish we could have a proper birthday party for you.”
“If it wasn’t for… if it wasn’t for Ryder, I would be preparing the final decorations right now,” rasped Ichiro. “And you would be coming home, and then everyone would be there, and there would be cake… I’m sorry, Silvester.”
“There’s nothing to apologise for,” said Silvester hurriedly. “It’s all over, Ichiro, it’s all over…”
“No, it’s not. It’s never going to be over.”
Ichiro closed his eyes, and for a heart-stopping moment, Silvester thought he had died. Then Ichiro spoke again, his voice softer than ever, now almost inaudible over the dripping of water in the darkness.
“Silvester, I love you.”
Stunned, Silvester could only crouch there, next to the teenager who had just declared his love for him.
“I shouldn’t have brought you into this. I shouldn’t have involved you in this. I shouldn’t have been this jealous. This selfish. I’m sorry.”
Ichiro went silent. Silvester just stayed there, thinking. Everything seemed to have stopped, the whole world just waiting for him to reply. He could feel the atmospheres and the stone walls and concrete and judgement pressing down on him.
Then, unbelievably, amazingly, impossibly, automatically… his lips formed those life-changing words.
“Ichiro, I love you too.”
And that was when he realised — that everything had just happened, because it didn’t matter, because Ryder’s war didn’t matter, because Dactolen didn’t matter, because Ichiro, and Ichiro, and Ichiro, and everything was going to be all right.
Everyone who had died — Jerome, Skyler, Irene, Tamer, Don, Mark, Steve, Josh, Taylor, John, Brian, Colin, Peter, Ailey, Daniel — they weren’t going to come back. They had died protecting something they believed in. Something that actually wasn’t worth fighting for. And it hurt Silvester, it really hurt him, when he realised that he would soon join them. Ichiro would soon join them.
“Ichiro, I want to die.”
He didn’t mean to say it — he really didn’t — but once he voiced it, he felt much better. But Silvester hadn’t been expecting the reply.
“Then I’ll kill you as your birthday present.”