Disclaimer: Lost isn't mine. Oh, but if it were...


Ben had not apologized to him before. Ever. He was too imperious, too arrogant, too self-righteous, to apologize to anyone. And normally, normally, Mikhail did not need him to. He trusted Ben, was in fact a little in awe of Ben, and that was exactly why it had actually hurt to know that he had lied. To all of them. To him, of all people. When he'd been nothing but loyal, done nothing but defend Ben against the growing murmurs against him. When he'd been there at the beginning with Ben, one of the few survivors from the Dharma Initiative.

"I made a mistake. I should have told you, and I apologize," Ben had said, desperation obvious and thinly veiled in his voice, even with the crackling and hissing of the radio.

For a moment, made eternal by the rhythmic flashing of lights and water dripping from him to the metal floor and the creaks and groans of the Looking Glass, Mikhail considered rebuffing him. Just turning the radio off. Ignoring the stunning admission of error and plea for help.

"Mikhail, are you still there?"

He bit the inside of his cheek and knew that Ben was right. He was a loyalist; had been from the day he'd thrown his lot in with the young workman whom no one ever saw, let alone expected to become a leader. And perhaps he could have proved Ben wrong; perhaps he could have shown that he had it within him to be as treacherous as the rest of them. But Ben had apologized and Mikhail could tell – from his panicked tone, his rising fear, the genuine pleading in his voice – that he meant it.

Are you there, Ben had asked. For one more second, Mikhail held his silence.