If Mikleo hadn't been a patient person before, then he had been forced to become one. Even if he had been a patient person before, surely his past self's patience would pale in comparison to what his current self was capable of. No, scratch that - what he had been forced to become capable of.
This wasn't his attempt at some sort of bizarre and ill-timed bragging. Instead, it was an acknowledgment of how he had needed to develop as a person in order to continue living with hope in his heart. To continue believing that one day he would see Sorey's smile again. It was only a matter of time, words that were equal parts painful and comforting. But every day, he needed to find a compromise between hoping that this would be the day when he finally returned, and not losing heart all the days when Sorey didn't return. One might call that sort of existence agonizing, but Mikleo had long since gotten experienced with it and made peace with it in his mind. That was something else he had needed to learn in order to not give up.
Not that there weren't days when he didn't lose his patience entirely and almost childishly hope that his stubborn belief alone would allow Sorey to return. He could easily imagine him poking fun at him for that. But it was the sort of lighthearted teasing that Mikleo would have enjoyed. He had truly loved Sorey, after all. He still did.
Mikleo hadn't stopped living his own life, of course. He spent a large portion of his time preparing for the day that Sorey might return, but his friends had convinced him that Sorey wouldn't have wanted him to ignore life entirely. It was something that he had thought long and hard about. He wanted to still be the same Mikleo that Sorey remembered, but inevitably, he had to change. Even that aforementioned patience was a noticeable change. But changing was only normal, and he felt confident that his relationship with Sorey would only grow stronger. They would find some way to make it work with their combined stubbornness. Whenever that day came.
So much had changed in the intervening years. Friends lost. Friends gained. As a Seraph, Mikleo had long since resigned himself to the inevitability that partings with the humans he had known would be painful. Yet with time came a new realization: that the experiences shared with them still meant something. Though he was thankful to have the other Seraphs as company. They really did make the wait a lot easier than it would have been otherwise.
He allowed a smile to grace his features while he continued to be lost in thought. Usually he preferred to keep active while thinking, but these sorts of moments were fine too, he supposed. He always wondered what kind of expression he'd have when Sorey finally returned. What expression Sorey would have. It would undoubtedly be a bittersweet reunion since there was so much that Sorey would need to catch up on, much of it melancholy, but Mikleo was determined to make it as happy an occasion as he could.
Was that an embarrassing thought? It was probably an embarrassing thought. It was definitely an embarrassing thought. He was grateful for the fact that no one was around to see him blush as fiercely as he did. While he may have changed a lot over the years, the easily flustered Seraph was still there at his core.
No doubt he'd look absurd if Sorey happened to return now, so he tried to form as neutral of an expression as he could. Something vaguely resembling serenity and the maturity that he had once desperately sought. He had reached the point where that maturity had been attained, but no one had given him the memo that mature people could still have really silly thoughts and habits. Maybe he should have picked up on that just from looking at Lailah, who had been both the most mature and oddest member of their ragtag group.
Mikleo placed one hand on his own hair, suddenly becoming acutely aware of the physical differences he had gone through as well. His hair was longer. That was the obvious one. And he might have gotten slightly taller. Hopefully. He still thought about the times he had felt so self-conscious about being shorter than Sorey was.
That sort of thing seemed silly now. Even sillier was the fact that it still hadn't fully left his thoughts.
"I wonder if today's the day..."
He let those words quietly escape his lips, despite the fact that there was no one around to hear him. Maybe it was just his own way of hoping that Sorey would hear him somehow.
Of course, his own words felt hard to say. They left a bittersweet aftertaste. Just how many times had he said or thought some variation of it? And all those times his patience hadn't been rewarded.
But that was fine.
One day the day would come, and that would make all the previous disappointments worth it. He just needed to keep seeking that day. He would continue to live his life, catch up with the other Seraphs whenever he got the chance. While it was easy to lose sight of it, the others clearly missed Sorey as well. Of course, Mikleo was the most vocal about wanting to see him again, something that the others teased him about relentlessly. He wasn't exactly subtle about his crush and love for him.
But at times, he could see the sadness in their eyes as well. The same sadness that had occupied him so much. They missed him dearly. Of course they did. He had been their friend. A leader who had taught them so much, just as they had taught him so much as well.
One day they would share in the joy of being reunited with him. He had pictured all the different ways it could go. How Sorey would react to all the ways the world had changed over the years. Of course, he had to stop himself from thinking ahead too much. Sorey had always had a habit of surprising him.
Calmly, Mikleo resumed his walk.
Maybe today would be the day he would be reunited with the one he loved.
Maybe his patience would continue to be tested.
But that was fine.
He would wait as long as it took for another moment with him.