Artyom was instructed to go with a group of rangers to the red line, helping to keep order in the anarchy consumed stations, keeping bandits, mutants and nazis from pillaging the vulnerable faction.
He had just finished patrolling a tunnel when he was left alone, to his guilt over all he has done, from betraying his father to genociding the dark ones and finally, the thing that caused him the most pain, Pavel's betrayal. He had blindly trusted the major with his talk of musketeers and true friendship. Something Artyom had had difficulty finding in the metro...
He pulled out his diary and wrote a final passage, pouring all of his guilt and grief into the thin page, a worthless piece of paper now becoming his most important message of all.
He sat at his post solemnly, contemplating how close the other rangers were and, after much deliberation, pulled his pistol from his belt and held it in trembling hands, he raised it to his forehead as tears streamed down his face, finger shaking over the trigger, he heard a familiar voice "Artyom!"
He turned but was hit with the butt of a gun, sending his world spiralling into black.
When he awoke he was in a very different place, from his limited viewpoint he could see that it was somebody's home and that certain somebody was sitting in an iron chair nearby "P-Pavel?" His voice was weak and breathy, surprising even himself with how vulnerable he sounded.
The major jerked awake to the sound of his voice "sorry d'artagnan, I didn't mean to fall asleep," he chuckled sheepishly. "A-anyway..." He trailed off, gazing at a wall "Artyom, why?"
The short spartan gave no answer and instead looked away as tears welled.
Pavel gently pulled his chin so Artyom was facing him, brushing a lone tear aside with his thumb. The spartan gripped his wrist and pushed it away softly before finally speaking, "How did you...?"
"I don't know... I heard these echoing voices saying 'save him' and 'he must be stopped'." At his last words, Artyom stiffened, "what's up d'artagnan?"
"The dark ones... they said that to me before the missiles were launched..." He was hit with a fresh wave of guilt and choked on raw emotion "A-After all they did to help me I..." he gripped Pavel's hand as he began to sob, shaking violently.
Pavel pulled him close and held him, whispering words of reassurance that he didn't really hear, he never used to be sympathetic but his short, stubborn ranger had driven some primal urge to protect and comfort out of him. His thoughts paused for a second at the term his. Artyom was not his... right? His words, however, kept flowing out until the distraught man was calmed. "Pavel," Artyom yawned, tired by the emotional turmoil, "I... I love you..."
He dozed off on the major's chest, leaving Pavel to process his words. L-love him? Pavel's cheeks became a beetroot red and he realised why Artyom had the effect he did on him... He loved the small ranger and realising this made him smile. He kissed him softly on the forehead and laid him back onto the bed.
Unbeknownst to both of them, the little dark one was watching, his grand plan had finally come together and he cackled maniacally while writing smut about the two very gay Russians.