Word count: 1219
Rating: PG / Teen and Up
Tags: ineffable husbands, missing scene from episode 6, love, fear, unable to tell his best friend the truth, the bloody coward, stop making excuses to yourself you bloody idiot, just tell him, just SAY IT
Summary: He can’t bring himself to say it. They may only have hours to live, but still he can’t bring himself to say it. Shouldn’t he just tell him, before it’s too late?
He can’t bring himself to say it. He wants to say it so much – he’s felt this way for more centuries than he wants to count. The pain of holding it in is agony sometimes, and there have been so many times when he has felt the words surging up his throat, threatening to burst out of his mouth and ruin everything. All these years, decades, centuries, he has wanted to say it, wanted to declare his feelings, but he hasn’t dared. The danger has been far too great. Even worse than the fear of his best and only friend staring at him in disappointment and telling him he doesn’t feel the same way, his greater fear is what might happen if – against all hope – his feelings are reciprocated. Supposed mortal enemies having such feelings for each other? It’s preposterous to even consider it. And what if their head offices sensed it somehow? Their reaction could be the destruction of both of them. How can he possibly endanger his friend like that?
And so over and over he has swallowed the words back, aching with the effort, anguished and terrified and wishing so much that the two of them could be in a position where he could say it, wondering if maybe it would be better for himself if he could do it even if his best friend turned away from him in disgust or horror. But he swallows it back, not wanting to lose him, not wanting to endanger him, keeping him safe, keeping him safe.
The pain burns worse every time he swallows it down, and it surges against the depths of his throat, struggling to rise again as he sits with him at a table in a restaurant or café, or sits opposite him in the bookshop, or sits besides him in the car, too close, feeling the anguish deep inside him as he forces himself not to say it, battling it down over and over again, protecting his best friend, keeping him safe, keeping him safe.
This evening the world didn’t end, and they’re in more danger than they’ve ever been. They’re both considered as traitors to the Great Plan; millennia of preparation and expectation swept away because they stood either side of a young boy and helped him stand up to their leaders and refuse to allow the Earth to be destroyed. The response from their leaders is going to be swift and awful, and neither of them is likely to survive long. It won’t just be punishment – not this time – it’ll be destruction, each of them wiped out as an example to all the others. It’ll be cruel and brutal and agonising; each of them will spend his last minutes screaming in anguish and pleading for mercy and then it will be over and they’ll be destroyed, two immortal beings erased from existence for daring to believe that the Great Plan wasn’t completely ineffable, daring to believe that there could be an alternative option, daring to believe that a young man loving the world and his friends and his family could be more worthy than the intentions set down all those centuries ago. They’re going to have to pay the ultimate price for daring to defy Her.
He wants to say it. Now, of all times, when they have so little time left he wants to say it, but still he can’t bring himself to say it. The words surge up his throat, that familiar agonising pain burning him while he automatically forces them down again. But this time it’s different – this time his inner voice is screaming worse than ever before, screaming silently to himself. Why? Why not tell him now? We have so little time left, it doesn’t matter if he rejects you, we’ll both be gone soon. Tell him.
He can’t bring himself to say it. He wants to say it so much, he wants to tell him just once, at the end, when the immortal beings that they are have only hours to live, to tell him that he is so loved, so worshipped, so worthy of more than the disappointment and betrayal felt by his peer group; that he shouldn’t feel that he has done wrong, has let his side down, has been nothing more than a traitor who deserves destruction; that he is loved and that he is worthy of being loved. He should tell him all this – he deserves to hear it before the end. Tell him, he screams to himself. Tell him now, before it’s too late. But he can’t bring himself to say it.
They’re standing in the apartment a few feet away from each other, each of them not meeting the other’s eyes, each lost in their own thoughts. It’s not right that they should be here on their last night – it doesn’t feel right to be here. The bookshop was more like home to both of them; this place has never been home to either of them. But the bookshop is gone and there’s nowhere else to go and so they’re standing in the middle of this cold unwelcoming place and neither of them has any idea how soon they’ll be taken from each other for the last time, and there’s no comfort to be had in these last few hours. It’s unfair, and it’s cruel, and they don’t deserve it, and there’s nothing, nothing, they can do to prevent it. And he can’t bring himself to say it.
He turns his head a little and looks at his best friend, the bowed head, the defeated hunch of his shoulders, the clenched fists, the shakiness of his breath loud in the silence of the cold room, and he aches that he can’t bring himself to say it, to offer him some comfort, some reassurance, some hope, some way of keeping him safe. But he can’t say it, fearful that it wouldn’t be a comfort, that it might make this terrible, desperate situation feel even worse. He can’t – won’t – hurt him tonight of all nights.
And then his friend, his best friend, his only friend, his only love, draws in a sharp breath and turns to meet his gaze, staring wide-eyed at him before pointing to the scrap of prophecy which had been put on the table earlier, shortly after they arrived at the flat. They both step closer and look down at the scrap, and six of the words on it seem to stand out more strongly than the others. Six words which made no sense before, which seemed no more relevant than any of the others but which now start to silently shout a suggestion, to prompt a thought, an idea, a sliver of hope. His friend turns to look at him and swallows hard before opening his mouth. “I’m not sure I dare even say it,” he whispers hesitantly.
And six thousand years of friendship, of trust, of connectedness, of love, travel between them and link them more strongly than ever before, and each of them instantly understands that they’ve both made the same realisation, that they’ve both realised that there is just the tiniest bit of hope of their salvation.
He holds his friend’s eyes and then takes a breath.
“There’s something I have to tell you,” he says.