This is really short I know, but after that episode last night I just had to write something. Hope you enjoy it.

Warning: Major spoilers, so don't say I didn't warn you.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.


Toy Soldiers

A man stands outside a house, broken and confused as he contemplates his next move. Each breath he takes is slow and painful as reality finally catches up to him and he has to slow down to let himself think. He knows what he has to do, and nothing has ever scared him more. Because Michael Westen isn't that kind of man, but even he isn't exempt from the harsh reality that anything can happen, and nothing could have been done to stop it.

So when he finally gathers the courage and mental stability to open the door and step inside he knows this will be the hardest thing he's ever done. The part that seems to cut deeper is the fact that his mother is completely oblivious to the fact that her child is gone, and he won't be coming back. He can hear her voice echo in his mind, telling him to protect his baby brother and he suppresses the urge to cry when he realizes he has failed. But there's no time for guilt, not yet at least.

He watches Madeline for a few seconds before she senses his presence and at first she smiles at him. But then she notes how swollen and red his eyes are and she realizes he's been crying. The thought alone alarms her and her gut begins to churn.

Michael steps forward, leaving a little space between them. He opens his mouth to speak but nothing comes out. It feels like a lifetime has passed before he hears her ask, "Michael what's wrong?" and the irony hits him so hard he has the urge to laugh. But instead he looks at her and he tells her the truth.

"Nate's gone mom. Nate's dead." he watches her face crumble before he feels the sting of her hand on his cheek and her fists pounding into his chest. When he hears the hysterical tone in her voice as she tells him he's lying he knows he will never be able to forget the sound that now stands as a reminder that he's failed her.

All at once she's fighting and crying and screaming and all Michael can do is grab her and pull her close. She struggles until her body can no longer take it and she's leaning on his chest. He holds his mother close and buries his face in the crook of her neck as tears finally break their barrier and the two of them are left wrapped in a moment that neither of them care to remember.

They stand like this, oblivious to the rest of the world because right now the world is empty and cold and neither of them want to be their anymore. Michael tries to apologize, letting out gurgling cries as he continues to hold Madeline close but if she hears him she's choosing to ignore him, and that hurts just as much.

When she finally finds the strength to stand on her own she pulls away from him and her eyes bore into him with a look so cold he's taken aback. There's a moment that passes before she finally speaks to him and the words are so harsh, so full of resentment and anger that he's not sure if he really heard her.

"Leave Michael." His mouth is agape and it's as of he can't comprehend the words even though he heard them clearly.

"Michael," she whispers through more tears, "I need time alone, to think and right now I can't do that with you around." the words are harsh, but for once he doesn't argue with her. Instead he inches forward and kisses her cheek, pretending not to notice when she pulls away from him.

He shuffles back to the door, wiping his eyes as he goes, because there's no way, even now that he'll let Sam and Jesse see him cry. But before he disappears he looks back at his mother, who's standing in the middle of the floor, clutching a picture frame to her chest as she weeps. There eyes meet and he says the one thing he wishes he had told his brother, the one thing he would have to live with the rest of his life.

"I'm sorry."