Alex woke up in the middle of the night, half of a gasp escaping from his lips before he remembered where he was and why- and with who: Noma was sleeping next to him, laying her side, so that Alex could see the bloodstains on her back, visible through her shirt… He couldn’t even imagine how much pain she was handling, both physically and mentally, after losing her wings.
Taking a deep breath, he looked around their little campfire but found no trace of Michael.
Standing up, massaging his sore shoulder, Alex slowly walked away from the weak fire and into the darkness of the night. The area was clear from any enemies, mostly thanks to the Archangel’s presence, and the moon was shining in the sky. It was thanks to its light that Alex noticed Michael sitting crossed-legs on the roof of one of the rusty cars parked around the abandoned grocery store.
Approaching him, Alex suddenly remembered about one time he found the Archangel in the same position in the past… Through the years, Alex got used to Michael’s strange behavior, but he knew him enough to tell there was something bothering him.
“You can’t sleep?” Michael asked without looking at him.
“Can you blame me?” Alex commented, standing next to the car.
“Our journey is far from over. You should try to get some rest.”
“Same goes for you.”
“You know I don’t need it.”
“I mean you should try stop thinking for a bit and relax.”
Michael blinked and finally looked at him.
“You used to this a lot when I was a kid, you know?"
“What do you mean?”
“Isolating yourself like this. It’s a habit you have since I met you.”
Michael seemed to consider it. “I didn’t know it bothered you so much.”
“It doesn’t, I just- notice it,” Alex said with a shrug. “What’s bothering you? Besides the upcoming war, I mean.”
Michael took a deep breath, looking down. “I hope I’ll be strong enough to face it. And protect you.”
“That’s really what is keeping you up at night?” he asked, confused. “After everything we’ve been through…”
“The fact that I have already abandoned you once because I was scared… That’s what keeps me awake, Alex.”
Alex stared at him, trying to remember if he ever heard the Archangel admitting being scared- and he couldn't. “You always told me that being scared is normal…”
“That doesn’t apply to me.”
“It applies to everyone. Even you,” he insisted. When Michael kept quiet, still looking down, Alex wondered if every time Michael used to isolate himself, it wasn’t just to think, but because he was scared and he couldn’t- he didn’t want to show that side of him to anyone...
Michael felt the car shaking and, looking aside, saw Alex climbing on the roof as well. “What are you doing?”
Alex sat down behind him, back against back. “It’s not just you. I’m scared too,” he said, voice calm and low, staring at their camp, where Noma was asleep. “I don’t know what is going to happen, and I have no idea if we’re going to survive this, but… I hope we’re gonna make it.” He took a deep breath, looking up at the night sky, “I want to believe we’re gonna make it.”
Michael kept looking sideways at him. “Since when your faith has become stronger than mine?”
Alex laughed softly, leaning completely against him. “I have faith in you, Michael,” he said, and, even if he couldn’t see Michael’s surprised face and his watery eyes, Alex knew how important those words were. For both of them.