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those nights kept me alive

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The night after the black hole was vivid and sleepless.


Xephos tossed and turned, turned on and off his communicator, and rolled around in the blanket, his face pale and his whole form shaking. This went on, repeating over and over again for a few more dreadful hours.


The little sleep he had, he didn’t cherish, the visions he had of the even flaring over and over in his mind as he tried to sleep and he couldn’t bear the memories coming back to him when he’s like this, more than halfway to a panic attack.


He wanted to be with them here, he really did. He felt a strange and melancholy loneliness, as he tried to make himself feel like they were here with him. He recalled their laughter, their smiles, and it hurt, it hurt too much . They’re gone. You can’t get them back.


He’s surprised himself at how.. composed he’s kept himself. He hasn’t broken down yet, so maybe that’s a good thing. He checks his communicator, and the time has stayed still since he’s checked it. He swears he feels like hours have passed and that he’s stayed up centuries longer.


With his communicator still in hand, he considers calling Strife. He probably would be the only.. reasonable one awake at this hour. He does run a business after all. He ends up doing exactly that, clearing his throat so he doesn’t seem too messy and emotional.


It picks up, and Strife doesn’t seem at all tired, but more annoyed, “Before you say anything, was that black hole you?”


Xephos has half a mind to chuckle, but instead he swallows a shaky sob, hoping to god Strife can’t tell he started crying. ..When did he start crying? “Y-Yeah, that.. that was me. Look, Strife, I have a question.”


“Yeah? Humour me, Xeph, what’s up?”


“I..” He holds the communicator away from his face to try and calm himself down. It fails, but he sighs anyway, a lingering thought plaguing his mind, “You’re.. You know blood magic, right?” His need to stop holding himself back plagues at his throat, it tightening as he tries to talk through his tears, “You can revive people, r-right? That’s a thing you can do?”


Strife goes silent over the receiver, and his tone changes from intrigued to seriously concerned, “Xephos, you.. really don’t want to start this. I take it that you’re..” He seems to piece everything together, and gently, he seems to swallow back a sigh, “Oh, Xeph..”


He finally lets go, taking a shaky breath as he gets off the bed, only to curl up beside it on the floor, weeping into the device, “S-Strife, I can’t stay here, I—“


“No, hold on.” There’s some fumbling around in what Xeph assumes is his desk, and suddenly he fizzles out of the room and into Strife’s office, his hand hovering over a button that said ‘Teleport’ on it. He knowingly hangs up, and puts the button and the communicator aside, “Ridge owed me a favor, anyway.”


Xeph jumps off the floor, standing and frantically trying to wipe his face off. “God, Strife, s-some sort of warning next time would be nice..”


Strife notices his demeanor, and the snarky thing he was going to say leaves his mind. He can’t sass him off. Not.. not like this. “I figured it was an emergency.” He moves away from his desk and to Xephos, pulling him in for a gentle hug, “You can stay here for as long as you need, okay?”


He didn’t need to reply, because Strife already knew his answer as he wraps his arms around Strife in return, and lets his grief set aside.