Je Suis Charlie
“Francis? You okay?”
“Hm?” He glanced up at you, his eyes dull and shadowed, whites tainted red and cheeks swollen.
You slowly sat down on the couch beside him, never tearing you gaze from his tortured features. He looked terrible. So broken. So hurt. You forgot how much it pained him as a country when his people went through such times of misery; the world was in such a state of disarray, you often overlooked it ever effecting your friend. Like he was used to the discord. But you couldn't have been more wrong.
You gently took his hand in yours and cradled it between your palms. It was cold and limp, and he averted his eyes from yours to instead stare out the darkened window. The shades were drawn back and revealed the inky, cloudless sky. The moon hovered over the city of Paris, its light dying as it hit the fluorescent, man-made light of the city. Cars sped down roads, people milled through the streets, dozens of sounds could be heard from below. And you knew that was just the way France liked it. He liked to hear his people, alive and breathing and moving. It made him happy. You never really understood his enthrallment with mortals, not really, but as you scrutinized his tormented expression, you were struck with a realization.
He wasn't enthralled with them.
He loved them.
A shuttering breathe whooshed past your lips.
“Francis,” you began again, voice cracking. You cleared your throat and inhaled. “I'm sorry.”
He didn't turn to look at you.
You were silent again.
The sound of the cars passing in the streets below was deafening. France didn't move his hand away, but he didn't grasp yours in return, either. His stare didn't waver from the window, far off and unseeing. He didn't blink and didn't move. If it wasn't for the gentle rise and fall of his chest, you would have wondered if he was even alive.
You didn't know what to say. Was there anything to be said?
No. There wasn't.
There was nothing that could comfort him. Nothing that could take the pain away, even just the slightest. Because despite his flamboyant personality, you knew your best friend was more than just a witless flirt. That he was more than just the country of love. There was more to him than what he showed. Today, the whole world witnessed a bit of that darkness.
You brought France's hand up and brushed your lips along the tips of his fingers. It wasn't words that he needed right now, it was just for someone to be there for him. For someone to share in his pain.
Slowly, France lowered his gaze and dragged it back to your face. His blue eyes were empty, pained, and were growing glassy as water began to build around them. You breathed out his name and released his hand, instead pulling his head down so that it rested on your shoulder. His body began to quiver, and he wrapped his arms around you, fingers digging into your back as he held you close.
“I don't understand,” he hissed, pulling your body closer to his. “I don't understand!”
“I don't either,” you whispered, pressing your nose into his hair.
“Why do these things happen? Why?” he cried desperately.
“I don't know,” you said again, voice cracking.
“Why does this world hurt so much? I don't want to live an eternity feeling this pain, ______! I want it to go away! I'm sick of being here!”
You squeezed your eyes shut. “Don't say that. Please, don't say such things.”
“I don't understand!” He buried his face further into your shoulder. “Why does God let these things happen? Why does he put innocent people through pain? Let others take lives?” France lifted his head and stared at you with wide, red-rimmed eyes, his whiskers catching the water that dribbled from them. “I don't get it!”
The ache in your chest made you sick.
You brought your hands up and placed them on either side of his face, forcing yourself to stare him in the eyes even though it was the most painful thing you had ever done.
“He doesn't.” you said simply, swiping your thumb across his prickly cheek. “God doesn't make bad things happen, Francis. He doesn't.”
Deflated, his anger ebbed into a torrent of more sobs and he closed his eyes, pressing his face further into your hands.
“I know,” he murmured. “I know. I know. I know.”
“Que Dieu vous bénisse et Gardez-vous.”