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While Hidden, I See and Destroy

Last Dance

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The Groznyj Grad Living Novel

Last Dance

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I tell myself it's for the best, and I believe it, too.

That's what Alexei would say.

But at the same time, I doubt, the way a pious man lies awake in bed at night, the way a fighter pilot's hand clenches on the yoke.

Only I'm not a pious man, or a pilot, but I am a sniper.

And sometimes snipers have their moments of doubt, quiet seconds with sweaty palms and blurred vision and trigger fingers frozen in place.

I think about Aryol, and I wonder if he'll be all right. I have to trust that he will. I owe him that much. It's the least I can do, to treat him like a man who's capable of making his own decisions.

After all, if someone had told me, way back when, not to get involved with Kasya, would I have listened? Even if they told me he'd break me apart, I still would have done it anyway.

When you're young, you're invincible.

...at least, until you break.

Only I don't think Aryol is going to break. If he was, it would have happened long ago. He's been through some pretty tough shit for a kid, and somehow I get the feeling I don't know the half of it. I never really wanted to hear it.

That's Aryol, carved from pure, hard granite, just like his -


I mean, if Aryol is anything like Irinarhov, it's only because of my expectations. I made him my Kasya, one I could control, I shaped him to grow to my liking. I'm the common denominator in the equation.

Still, Aryol is Aryol.




It's for the best.

...Liadov had better treat him right.
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