Disclaimer: I don't own the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod.

A/N: Vikas' POV, pre-11GB ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My words echoed through the foyer: "Do you want to be good?" I'd shouted these words at Tristian, my sweetest Tristian, and he ran off with tears in his eyes, leaving his coat behind.

Almost without thinking, I grabbed my coat, shrugged it on, snatched his off the rack, and dashed out the door through the snow. "Tristian!" I shouted. "Tristian! Tristian!" Over and over again, it was the only word to escape my lips.

I reached the river bank, and I couldn't believe what I'd found there. Tristian had jumped into a shallow section of the water, cut himself on a rock, and lay unconscious, bleeding, and freezing. With all my power, I pulled him from the water and wrapped him in his coat, carrying him back to the house, where it was warm.

He had started to come to along the way, but he was fully awake when I lay him on the sofa. "Tristian, that was foolish!" I snapped.

"I would've died, anyway!" he shouted in reply, and I was stunned into silence. "You would've killed me, and eventually, you'd have replaced me."

I took a few steps back and sank to my knees. How could Tristian believe I could replace him, let alone kill him? "W-w-w-why?" was the only thing I could think of to say that would fall off my tongue.

"Because I'm not good."

"T-Tristian," I whimpered. Tears fell down my cheeks before I could stop them, so I bowed my head. At first, I didn't understand what he had said, but his every word echoed in my mind. "How can you say that?"

"It's true. I saw what you did to Anton." The tears ceased to flow at the sound of his unusually cool voice, and, slowly, I raised my eyes to look at him. "You said he would never be good enough, and you killed him." I couldn't believe it. He'd had to live with the memory of Anton's death for ten years. "Why did you yell at me?"

It took me a long while to form a decent answer. "I have no answer for you," I finally whispered. "I no longer know whether I was angry with you or frightened by you."

"Frightened?" Tristian propped himself up on his elbow, watching me curiously.

"Yes, Tristian, frightened. Frightened by your need to be good, your absolutely unbearable need for someone to love you." My voice broke at these last words, and Tristian's lower lip started to tremble. "Come here, Tristian," I whispered.

He crawled off the couch and used his knees to walk over to me, his hands keeping the coat securely wrapped around him. I wrapped my arms around him and pulled him into me. Small sobs escaped him from time to time, and I let the tears I had flow noiselessly. Tristian's little heart thundered in a continuous effort to warm his icy body, a detail which was human enough, constant enough, to give me some strength. "I love you so much, my dearest Tristian," I whispered. One of his hands slipped out from under his coat and grasped my sleeve.

"Don't leave me, Vikas," he whimpered. I squeezed him gently, unwilling to even let him go.

After a long while, I finally worked up the nerve to ask him the one question I had left to ask. "Do you forgive me?"

"Yes, I forgive you, Vikas." My body ached with relief, but still I clung to Tristian, needing him as he needed me. Eventually, the desperation I had felt emanating from him faded, and he began to snore softly. I took him in my arms and carried him up to his room, and I lay with him, pressing him close to me.