“Will we ever be friends?”


“Without any of the threats. Wariness. Or manipulation. Without any of that fear that one of us will decide to kill the other. To sit, as we are now- but without knife in hand or guns beneath pillow. To share a glass of wine and not have to ferret out some sort of poison.”

‘You’re asking if we will ever trust each other.’

“I am.”

‘I trust you.’


‘No, truly! I trust you to act precisely as expected. I trust you will say what you mean and you will do as you say. You always have.’

“Assuming one’s predictability can be a death sentence for you. Why this sudden change? You didn’t think that of me before.”

‘A lot changed when he died.’

“Did you?”

‘Did I?’

“You’re… softer- no, not soft. Not in a manner of weakness. But you’re more open to believing in kindness. The Game does not hold as much sway over you as it used to. And while your trust is as cunning as trust can be, you are capable of it. Perhaps even more than I am.”

‘You don’t trust me.’

“How could I?”

‘Do you truly mean to hurt me like this?’

“What is our friendship? What has it ever been! You blackmail me, you torture me with threats to those I care for- you destroyed the only man I could bring myself to love and then you find out that now you grieve for him. You break me down until I am nothing but fragments, and yet when those shards of anything that had once been beautiful about me draw blood, you act surprised as if I were not supposed to ever be dangerous. They’re just words. All I have ever dared to fling at you were words, and if I had anything of true courage in my heart, my hands would be around your throat and I would watch until the last light faded.”


“I don’t mean to hurt you. I don’t like it. But I don’t understand how you can be hurt by me.”

‘I care for you.’

“And I for you. There’s no one else who understands how we lost him and what it meant.”

‘He was nothing to them. Is nothing to them.’

“If I could change what happened, I would in a heartbeat. But even until the end, he told me you meant to kill him.”

‘I did.’


‘I… don’t know. I couldn’t bear it. The feelings he stirred in me- I didn’t understand them. Or him. I didn’t understand that anyone could be capable of such love and kindness as he showed me.’

“At least I dared to return his love.”

‘You’re not special. He loved everyone.’

“Don’t you dare.”

‘Am I wrong?’

“Yes, of course! You know nothing of the moments we shared. And you may have sent him to be the plaything of others- you may have sent him to me once, but the rest of the time was stolen willingly. Had I not been so weak- had I not allowed the lies of others to sway me, I would have freed him from you.”


“…He would be alive now. And free. Had I acted sooner than I did.”

‘And if I had as well.’


‘I was going to let him go.’

“I don’t believe you.”

‘You do.’

“Fine! Yes. I do. I hate it, but I do. I hate you.”

‘Both of us hate each other and ourselves. It’s nothing new. Had you not hated yourself so viscerally, I never would have been able to break through your armor and do what I did. Had you any sense of care for your own wellbeing, this would have ended differently.’

“And yet, you live as an eternal part of the Game. Will anything we speak of actually change you?”

‘I can’t change that.’

“You’re scared to.”


“You could leave it all. Leave with me. We sail somewhere and find those who don’t need us to lie about who we are. We already can’t lie to each other, why live out the rest of our years in a city that would sooner see us flayed in a street than exist with any sort of truth?”

‘If I leave, I die.’

“If we stay, will death come any slower?”


“…No… you’re not wrong about that.”

‘I still have my family to think of. And they think of me.’

“And I have my father.”

‘And does he?”

“Does he what?”

‘Think of you.’

“Of course not. I am not worthy of his care or recognition, and that is okay. He is safer if he does not care for me. Everyone who cares for me dies.”

‘I still care for you.’

“Out of necessity. If you did not, you’d have no one to be true and yourself with.”

‘I have not died yet.’

“It’s only a matter of time.”

‘Your father will accept you. I know it. You’re still young, and he has protected you in the past. Why else would he if not out of some sort of emotion?’

“I am useful to him. I kill for him. I follow his orders. I’m loyal.”

‘He didn’t have to protect you from me. You would have had the strength on your own to resist me and grow stronger. That is all I wanted for you. To be strong. That is why I pushed you.’

“You tried to break me.”

‘You’re not broken.’

“No. Maybe not. But I was close. That is why he protected me.”

‘Further than you think. Why do you think so little of yourself?’

“Everything I have done in the past has failed when I was alone.”

‘You’re not alone now.’

“What, with you?”

‘If you told your father about your love, what would he have said?’

“I did. And he said good riddance to hear about his death.”

‘You’re not alone.’

“Maybe alone would be better than being forced to rely on you. And you to rely on me.”

‘I want to be your friend.’

“Can either of us risk that? After everything?”

‘I don’t know.’

January 09, 2021 10:43

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