Her laugh - and she moved aside so gracefully, moved like a dancer as she beckoned to Janos to shoot him...
I wake up with her laugh echoing in my mind, my heart hammering, sweat sticking my shirt to my chest.
Again and again and again, the dream. His eyes, her laugh. The gunshots roaring in my ears, taking everything else away.
I squeeze my eyes shut, remembering her eyes - fierce, savage glee. That small and sweetly-formed monster. Alanna.
I never scream in my dreams. The cat has my tongue. Alanna's stolen my voice.
All the things I should have said that night:
"Michael, just say yes. Don't provoke her."
"Michael - I didn't know."
But I had no words - just fear, and the raw scream when Janos pulled the trigger.
I peel the shirt off, walk to the window. Slow-motion. The room has the eerie bluish light unique to two, three o'clock in the morning. The strangeness light has when no one's supposed to be looking at it.
I can see the whole city from my Aerie. I can almost see into the sacred grove.
I can see his House. Very faintly.
I'd screamed, and Kristian had held me back...
"Ryan, stop. She doesn't know, doesn't know you were lovers. Ryan - you are safe as long as she doesn't know. Shut. Up."
"What does it matter?"
"She'll kill you if-"
"What is there to live for now? Michael..."
He shook me, made me look at him. "Your House."
My House. Michael died trying to protect his House.
I have to live to protect mine.
I have to live with the memories.
His eyes. Her laugh.
The glass is cool against my forehead, and I splay my hand against it. My city, in this two o'clock light, glinting off glossy curves of window-box tomatoes. My city, skirted in writhing fog.
My staccato pulse; my slow-cooling sweat.
I just want something
My slow-fading memory of his voice, recovered only in nightmares.
I just want something I can never have.
I take a ragged breath. Tomorrow. Tomorrow will be better.
I didn't know.