Author's Note

Sometimes you need to write. Sometimes, when you hear something that is so horrible and so gut-wrenchingly sad that it consumes all of your thoughts and all of your dreams, there is no other option. Writing acts as a healing potion in times like that, drawing out the poison and casting it on to the page where it can be shared with the world and diluted into something manageable.

Or, at least, something that won't plague you every second of every day.

Writing this... has been one of those experiences, I think. At least now I know that these thoughts exist somewhere that isn't in the dark recesses of my mind. They've been given freedom to fill the world with their own brand of poison.

Hopefully while they look the other way, gleeful at all their new victims, they will give me a chance to run and fill my head with thoughts that won't send me cold in Russia's feeble attempts at summer and maybe I can be free of this.

It all started out innocently enough, I suppose.

Well... Not really, if you get down to it. I mean, this did begin when I visited my childhood friend while he was serving out his sentence for murder. Or maybe, in truth, this began when we met at Balcov Abbey under the ever-watchful eyes of Boris.

Maybe this began when he decided not to watch anymore?

No, now I'm definitely confusing myself.

For me, this began the day I went to visit Bryan Kuznetsov. He'd almost completed the first year of his nine-year sentence. I hadn't seen him for quite a few years- we'd fallen out of touch during... well, during. But he'd sent me a letter, written on several scraps of paper he'd scrounged from his cell (or so the letter told me) and smuggled out by one of the recently released inmates.

Now that I think about it, he may have needed to share his story as well. It can't hurt as much if two people know about it.

But two people are the reason this story exists.

Once again I've talked myself off topic. I visited him that day in my professional capacity as an investigative journalist. After receiving his letter I sweet-talked my editor into allowing me to do a piece about the overcrowding and general poor conditions of our country's prison system. Complete bullshit, obviously, but I had a better chance of being allowed to see Bryan that way and would get to see him in a private setting rather than a visitation room made noisy by the cries of children and abandoned wives and family.

So it came that I was ushered through the suffocating concrete labyrinth of the place Bryan now called home into an interview room that had seen better days back when it was merely in appalling disrepair. Now the concrete crumbled from the walls and the stink of mildew, stale water and fear pervaded the place.

I sat down in the uncomfortable fold-out chair they had provided for me. No such amenities were supplied for the man I was visiting.

He walked into the room, closed in his shapeless, grey prison uniform and unhindered by any kind of restraints. The guard who had let him in gave me a nod before closing the door behind Bryan. They had given me a small remote with a panic button to press should things go wrong (heaven knows how they expected it to work buried in so much concrete), but had otherwise respected my request for privacy.

I regarded the man standing before me. He was still the powerfully-built man I remembered. Bryan had always had a large, intimidating build that had run to muscle no matter how little he exercised or how badly he ate. Prison hadn't done anything to change that. Neither had prison changed his hair, a dead-straight lavender mop that hung in uneven clumps but still seemed to work for him. When I had known him he'd sometimes cut that hair short and spike it, even making the effort to dye it silver when the mood took him. Now it was its natural colour, a shade that matched his eerily light eyes that reminded me uncomfortably of a blind man.

It was his eyes, however, that had changed. Far from those of a blind man, Bryan's eyes spoke of a life in which he'd seen too much that he couldn't unsee. His eyes spoke of a torment that could only be experienced to be believed.

"Tala." He acknowledged, nodding his head. "You got my note?"

"All of them. How are you?" I asked, shifting uncomfortably in my seat. The chair the guards had given me was already starting to make my arse go numb.

He shrugged, folding his arms. I caught sight of something else that had changed since I'd seen him last: a tattoo. It was the faded, inexact mottle of a prison tattoo and wrapped his right ring finger in a band of darkness where a ring might have gone if his life had turned out differently. "The food is shit, there are too many people and I haven't had the chance to wash for three days. Otherwise, fine," he said flatly.

Only after he mentioned it did I notice the fetid smell of unwashed human. And, in the way of such smells, it became all I was aware of while he told his story. It was all I could do not to wrinkle my nose in disgust. However, in my time as a journalist I've had to deal with worse in situations where the consequences have been much more dire if I'd shown my feelings. So I kept my face neutral.

"Why did you ask me to come here?" I asked, watching as he moved to lean against the wall that looked least likely to fall down on him.

He smiled.

It was the first time I'd ever seen Bryan smile. And, God willing, it will be the last smile I see like that. I never believed so much pain and self-loathing and hatred could be packed into such an innocuous expression.

"I wanted to tell you a story. It's not a pleasant one but it's one that needs to be told while there are people left to tell it. You'll already know some of it—but not the important things. Not the things that matter. The truth lies in the details and the parts that have never been shared."

This is what this book is: Bryan's story as he told me in that dark, stinking room. His eyes were closed as he spoke, telling me about the events as if they were happening only now, not years ago.

I've tried to preserve the story as he told me, only adding in parts where they were needed for coherence and keeping my own commentary to myself as much as possible.

I hope now I can sleep at night

-Tala Ivanov.

Ohoho. The ol' bait-and-switch author's note. Gets 'em every time. XD

Title: This is How We Fall Apart

Author: PandaPjays

Warnings: Violence, more violence, sex, wild extrapolations of character, abuse, maybe a bit more violence

Disclaimer: Don't own, only play.

The Real Author's Note:

Welcome to my NaNoWriMo novel. Despite all promises to myself to wait until January or until the beast is fully edited or fully written (Even one of those goals would have been nice), here it is. I'll be updating weekly in order to give myself time to catch up on my editing/writing so there won't be any crazy delays with updating. Not this time. Promise.

Many thanks to iluvbeyblade for not only inspiring me to write some fanfic for NaNo but also for being totally awesome and winning NaNo with me. Without her I would probably still be drinking unhealthy amounts of tea and staring hopelessly at a blank screen.

Also, I'm in desperate need of a brutally-honest-bordering-on-downright-nasty beta-reader. I've managed to blackmail/goad/guilt one of my friends (who doesn't know anything about bey and hates fan fiction as a genre, mind you. She's a champion for even doing the first few chapters) to helping me with the first few chapters and I'm doing my best but... another pair of eyes would be awesome. Like, really amazingly awesome. Let me know if you'd be interested.

And, as always, I hope you enjoyed the chapter and please tell me what you think.