A/N: another prompt for Maria (myroza). I'm loving all the prompts she gives me, mostly because I would never think them up myself and they're so fun to write. I hope you guys like this. And if the timeline seems weird, or anything, plot wise, is funny, I'm still a little drunk on NyQuill. =)
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" I asked, pulling my hair off of my neck and fastening it tightly with three ponytail holders.
Dimitri nodded, "Kirova asked specifically for you."
I groaned, "Because that reassures me."
Dimitri leaned his head forward, his hair hiding a small smile.
"But really," I protested, "I've only been a real Guardian for a year. How could they want me to help run the final test for the novices? In Kirova's eyes I'm practically a novice myself!"
Dimitri shook his head, pulling his hair back into a tight ponytail too, "Kirova thinks more of you than that."
It sounded like he wanted to say more, but stopped himself.
I sat up straighter on the wooden bench, my interest peaked.
"Don't look at me like that, Rose," he said, strapping on his protective vest and handing a smaller one to me.
"Like what?" I said, my voice muffled as I pulled the vest over my head.
"Like you have a plan. Just...go out and give the novices your best," he said, shaking his head a little before walking out of the changing room.
I stared after him, a little confused. We'd been dating, officially, for just about a year. But that was it. We hadn't given each other the title of boyfriend/girlfriend, and while I knew we were stable, something about it bothered me.
It was almost like he didn't want to get too close.
I dragged my feet to the arena, settling in quietly next to Dimitri as Alberta and Stan went over some guidelines.
"Hathaway," Stan barked.
I looked up, "Yeah?" What could he possibly want from me now?
"You're with Alberta. Don't make any mistakes, and when the stake you, go down. None of that dramatic death crap," Stan narrowed his eyes at me.
I scoffed, "You got it. I'll die as fast as I possibly can. And you say 'when' but it's really more of an 'if'. I'm a little more experienced than these novices."
Dimitri let out a breath of air through his nose, a noise that some people might take as a snort.
I smiled to myself as Stan gaped at me. He didn't say anything, instead he scowled at me and turned to some of the other guardians that were gathered.
"I thought you were just barely a guardian?" Dimitri whispered to me as we got into our positions.
I smiled, "Sometimes, I like to talk a big game."
He brushed his hand over my shoulder before hurrying quietly away and ducking behind one of the obstacles.
He, Stan and the other guardians gave their novice a good fight. But she gave a better one, taking Stan and three others out quickly. Dimitri was the only one to cause a really threat to her, but eventually she beat him down.
Dimitri was sweaty when he came back to the holding area.
"Getting to be too much for you, old man?" I teased.
A weird look flashed across his face, but as soon as I noticed it, it was gone.
"Never," he said, his face neutral.
"Well, she's definitely getting a pass," I observed, "She did everything right."
"She also did several things wrong," Dimitri pointed them out to me.
"Oh," I breathed. Suddenly I was worried for my turn as fake-Strigoi. How could I pretend to do the complete opposite of what I had been taught for years?
"Rose, it's time," Dimitri put his hand in between my shoulder blades and gave me a gentle push.
I looked back at him as I walked out. His face was twisted in an unrecognizable emotion.
How could I have been so stupid? Here I was worrying about going against my Guardian training to fake play a Strigoi, when Dimitri had been a Strigoi. What could these trials have done to his mental state?
Climbing up into a tree, I made a mental note to ask him about it afterwards.
The trial seemed to move quicker than it had when I was the one being tested. The novice, a stocky, muscular boy seemed to be doing everything right. He hadn't faltered or scared his 'Moroi'.
I watched as Alberta skulked up behind him. He sensed her and twirled around, silver stake glinting in the sun. They grappled for a while, the boy telling his Guardian-as-Moroi to run.
I sucked in a deep breath as the Guardian stumbled forward, pretending to be affected by the sun. This was my cue. Sneak from my spot and grab the 'Moroi', forcing the novice into a difficult position.
I watched all three players carefully, only making my move when it was right.
I flipped out of the tree quietly and grabbed my fellow Guardian, causing her to let out an ear-piercing shriek. I only just managed to school my features out of a wince.
The novice, to his credit, didn't look up, instead he 'drove' the stake into Alberta's vest, leaving me as his only obstacle to passing.
He turned towards me, and I grinned. I could do this. I just had to pretend that the Guardian I was holding was really a Strigoi and keep….I don't know. My grip faltered only momentarily before I started jerking my fake prey around.
The novice lunged at me – a mistake. I threw the 'Moroi' to the side and went for his knees. Since he had been moving forward, his center of gravity was off. My hit sent him right down.
Again, to his credit, he didn't look worried. Only more determined. He scrambled to his feet, putting himself in between me and the 'Moroi'.
We ran at each other, prepared for the attack.
The silver stake glinted in the sunlight again, blinding me for a second and startling my brain.
Suddenly, I wasn't about to be pretend staked. I was the one doing the staking. Plunging the weapon right into Dimitri's heart. Sending him off the bridge. Looking into his cold, red eyes.
"Let me THROUGH! She's my GIRLFRIEND!" the voice was cutting through my haze, and also rattling around in my brain.
I groaned. The ground was shaking underneath me, something (feet?) thudding as they got closer to me.
I blinked a few times, squinting against the light of the sun.
Someone's silhouette was backlit above me, and a hand brushed hair off of my forehead.
"Owwww," I moaned, shifting on the ground and feeling pain shoot through every inch of me.
"Oh shit! I really didn't mean to stake her in the shoulder! Is she okay?" a whiny voice pierced my skull.
"Make that shut up," I grumbled.
"Thank God, you're okay," now that my haze was slowly going away, I could hear the Russian accent that distinguished Dimitri from everyone else.
I opened my eyes again and looked up at him, the shouting from earlier finally registering.
"So, I'm you're girlfriend, huh, comrade?" I said, smiling just a little bit.
Dimitri blew out a frustrated sigh, "Roza, you've been my girlfriend for a year now."
"You've never said it," I countered, letting one of he medics move me onto something much softer than the ground.
Dimitri held my hand tightly as my protective vest was cut off.
"I wasn't…" he sighed again, something he would probably doing a lot in the future since I was unbelievably frustrating (his words), "It's a delicate balance…"
I squeezed his hand. I knew exactly what he meant. Time, in our world, wasn't something that we could always count on. And in our profession, attachments to anyone or anything were dangerous.
"Let's get me patched up. And then we can talk about this later, boyfriend," I grinned, despite the ever increasing pain radiating from my shoulder.
Dimitri rolled his eyes, but nodded.
Look at that girls, a year of dating, saving them from being a member of the undead and then getting staked in the shoulder. That's all it takes for them to want to commit to calling you 'girlfriend.'