This is set just before chapter 23 of The Way of the Shadows.

I hope my characterization of Durzo is believable and my English not too bad. I'd love to hear suggestions as to how I could improve this. =)

As he watched Azoth toss around in his sleep, obviously trapped in a vicious nightmare, Durzo struggled to keep his emotions in check, emotions he had fought hard to repress over the years. He would never understand how the boy had managed to worm his way in, how he had gotten past the many barriers that he had carefully erected around his heart.

He couldn't and wouldn't accept that he had come to care for the boy, that he felt guilty for what he had done, even if it had been for his best.

Azoth had to die so Kylar could live. But even though he knew his actions had been justified, his choice the only possible one to make, he still couldn't help but feel like he had betrayed the trust the boy so obviously put in him. Trust that he didn't deserve and certainly had never encouraged, for he had always been careful not to show how fond he had become of his apprentice.

It was probably the innocence the boy still had that drew Durzo to him, like a moth to the light. He knew it would burn him, but he couldn't help it. He was both fascinated that it could have persisted despite the hard life the boy had led in the Warrens, and dreadful that he would have to be the one that wiped it out, for there existed no such thing as an innocent wetboy.

Still, he couldn't help but think that he would miss the boy's naïve questions, his delight when he mastered a new skill faster than he had anticipated, or his ridiculous unease with wearing shoes.

He remembered his amusement at the boy's astonishment when he learned that he would have his own room, with his own bed, or his surprise when he was told he could eat as much as he wanted. He also remembered beating him unconscious for his disobedience, for stealing his ka'kari, for crushing his already fading hope and leaving him with nothing.

He shook his head. It would do him no good to continue pretending that Kylar was just a means to an end, just a tool he could easily discard once he had lost his usefulness. He had to face reality and accept that it was impossible to live without emotions, that even though he was the Night Angel, part of him was still human and craved the affection the boy showed him.

It was a weakness he couldn't afford yet couldn't fend off, and it scared him. He, Durzo Blint, infamous wetboy and worst nightmare of all those that knew what he was capable of, was afraid of an eleven year old boy. If his enemies could only see him, they would have a good laugh at him.

Sighing, he approached the bed. There was nothing to be done. It would end either way, and agonizing about it wouldn't change a damn thing. It was best to just get it over with.

He slapped Kylar.

"Wake up, boy." It was time to face the future.