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Kaspian Sorrenson

end of the rope

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Aerodynamics operated much, much differently when one had wings, apparently. Being honest about it, Kaspian shouldn't be terribly surprised. He was, at least, annoyed, that was a word. If he hit the ice one more time, he was going to freaking implode the entire rink. ( Maybe that was a bit much... ) Kaspian had been skating for most of his life, it was just vexing that suddenly, he couldn't seem to do it. He'd fallen on a jump a few days ago! It was just a double toe loop!

Most likely, this was as simple as just getting the new aerodynamics down, figuring out how to pull his wings close enough to his body that he wouldn't bust his ass. That was, at the moment, easier said than done. He hadn't even actually gotten accustomed to the weight of his wings, either. He could fly, at least, he supposed that was a bright side ( were airplanes a concern for daevas? Probably ). Losing control of his spins repeatedly did have a neat side-effect of reminding him of where he'd started. Kaspian had really just been a terribly stubborn little kid, and no matter how many times he hit the ice, he always got back up. Before he'd died, that was starting to get more painful. How did younger-him manage to tolerate falling so often, anyway?

It hurt, and didn't, now. His joints did kind of squeak a little, but, only a little.

And this guy, over here, was being absolutely no help. "You know," he started, skating over to the boards, "you could use to be less serious. It's like you're constantly glaring. And I know you know how to work around this, so a little help would be appreciated, too." Just so Kassander knew what he thought. Mind, Kaspian was starting to get the impression Kassander didn't terribly care what he thought about this, given they'd been going in circles for weeks about him going back to skating. Kassander thought he should retire. Kaspian, of course...

Well, he'd thought about it. It seemed like he hadn't, but he had, still was. The problem was, Kaspian didn't know what else to do, if he wasn't skating. He'd been at it for years, now, long enough he'd never really done much else outside that. A bit of publicity, few commercials, some modeling and product endorsement. Perhaps he could follow those lines, but, if he was being honest with himself, he was tired of being in the lime-light. It was a sad thing to realize, wasn't it? He was tired of being in the lime-light, but he didn't know what else to do with himself, either.

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He was an idiot.

He was a fucking idiot.

It wasn't like Kassander was terribly good at articulating such things. Most of the time, he just stared, and waited until the other party got the point. By now, he'd most likely gotten a bit too comfortable with the Drago, because essentially every single one he had occasion to stare at eventually figured it out. Kassander watched the dumb-ass Swede trying to get the hang of his altered aerodynamics from the boards, arms rested on the edge. Occasionally, his gaze would flick to Alexei, over there, on the other side of the rink. He'd arranged for Kaspian's practice sessions to be reserved only for him, unless a certain Russian was interested in the same time-slot. Kassander was still hoping, eventually, Kaspian would get more interested in the Russian than figuring out how to skate with his wings.

So far, no luck. He kept fucking up his spins, and aside from the fact this was the stupidest idea of his life (not-life?), his wings were doing him absolutely no favours. Kaspian needed to retire, but the fucking ice princess wouldn't accept it. Yes, Kassander got it, he didn't know what else to do, if he wasn't skating, but that was the goddamned point.

"Unfortunately for you," Kassander replied, arching an eyebrow, "helping you be a dumb-ass is not in my contract." No, it wasn't. He was actually supposed to help him do what was best for him, and, well, he'd long established he thought that the best thing for Kaspian would be retiring. Because he had a family that loved him, and yet in the same breath, hardly knew him, and frankly, Kaspian didn't really know them either. Not everyone was blessed with family members that actually loved them.

Kassander would know.

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Kaspian rolled his eyes. "I'm not being a dumb-ass," he mumbled, really more to himself, than anything, but, Kassander was a vampire, and had stunningly good hearing. Was he? Was this really so stupid as Kassander kept making it out to be? It wasn't like he'd learned how to do anything else. Kaspian had, at least, graduated from high school, but all he knew how to do was skate. That was all he was good at. So what the fuck else was he supposed to do? Yeah, he was kind of rich now, maybe he could get away with sitting around on his butt until he figured it out, but since when had Kaspian ever sat around on his butt?

He supposed, he had enough money to. It wasn't like he was broke, or, actually anywhere near it. If he sold his estate in Sweden, even, he'd have wads of money. Ugh, that wasn't the point. Kaspian wasn't the sort to be able to sit around and do nothing, anyway, and Kassander should fuck all well know that.

... yes, at this point, Kaspian was just being stubborn, sheerly for the sake of being stubborn.

He also knew, that was pretty dumb. Kaspian still didn't know what else to do. If he wasn't on the ice, then what? Exactly, and he was afraid of what the answer would be, so he didn't bother thinking past that. "You seem a little annoyed today," Kaspian started, crossing his arms. "Not that you're really the sharing type, but, feel like sharing?" Sometimes, Kassander would talk about it. Other times, he'd just glare, shrug, and maybe stalk off somewhere. It was worth a try, or at least, Kaspian thought so.

Besides, this consistent glaring at him was starting to grate his nerves.

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Sure he wasn't. And Kassander was a goat.

As always, his expression remained flat, and he said nothing along the lines he was thinking down. Kassander had said what he had to say on the subject, and if Kaspian was going to ignore it and pretend he hadn't said anything at all, there was no sense in reiterating. It'd just go unheard, yet again, and quite frankly, Kassander hated talking when there was nothing to be gained from doing so.

Was he really asking that, like he didn't already know? Somehow, that managed to annoy him even more than he already was annoyed. His nostrils might've flared for a second, but, after a moment, the annoyance went away, again. There was no point in getting pissed off at him, either. Kaspian was just doing what he thought was right, and it wasn't to say Kassander didn't understand. All his life, he'd done what he'd done, made the choices he had, lived his life, for his family. But it was far beyond the point where they needed him to, and still, he didn't know what else to do. Still, he didn't know what he wanted. He'd fucking died and come back, and he didn't know what he wanted.

But there were things he needed to learn, that he wouldn't have been able to learn, if he hadn't ascended. Kassander knew that. That was why he'd ascended now, and not in the next incarnation. Was it really fair, if Kassander was the one shoving him down the right path? Really, it should be Alison and Skylar doing it, but Kassander was a very influential person in his life, and thus far, the twit hadn't figured out he was the Light. Good, honestly, that'd just... complicate things.

"Of course I'm annoyed," he said, his tone perhaps a bit sharper than he intended. "You're doing exactly what I said not to. But you're like that. You do what you think is right. Part of why I like you. Also several parts of why I get so pissed at you." Go figure that.

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He guessed he was. Kassander had, at least, been fairly blunt about what he thought, but at the same time, had never tried to force Kaspian one direction or another. That was, of course, what made him listen to him, most of the time. Kaspian sighed, partly in irritation, partly in exasperation, fiddling with his shirt sleeve and skating a figure eight. He had no idea what he was supposed to do with that, but, probably, Kassander meant to make him think. The truth was, Kaspian had thought about this many times, and simply hadn't come up with a solution. An extra few days thinking about it wasn't going to magically hand him an answer.

While he didn't answer, right away, it was fairly obvious he was thinking about something. Truth be told, Kaspian had no idea who he was if he wasn't skating. That was likely somewhat sad, wasn't it? Logically, that was probably Kassander's point, but he had no other ideas of what to do, so, he may as well keep on the way he had been, at least, until he figured it out. "It's not what I think is right," Kaspian said, finally. "It's just that I don't know what else you expect me to do." Quite bluntly, Kaspian was getting a little tired of going in circles with the guy, but, he also knew, Kassander wasn't the sort that'd back down when he got something in his head, either. They'd be going around in circles about this probably through the entire Grand Prix.

It wasn't as if he expected Kassander to understand. That guy had everything, and Kaspian had once had nothing, until he started skating. It'd been a difficult road to follow, and whether Kassander realized, or intended it, or not, Kaspian had spent half his career in the shadow of Kassander's, perhaps even more so than usual, given Kassander was still skating when he'd first taken Kaspian under his wing. And maybe there'd always be some part of Kaspian that was bitter about it. He'd had to land a fucking quad-axel in competition before anyone took him seriously, and stopped constantly comparing him to Kassander. On the one hand, Kaspian thought he'd make a decent enough coach; on the other, he didn't want to end up putting anyone he did coach in the same situation he'd ended up in with Kassander, either.

Most of the time, he didn't blame Kassander for what the media decided to focus on. Other times, it pissed him off that the Italian thought he knew what was best for him. Like he had any right to act like he knew how Kaspian felt and what he was going through. To make matters even worse, a big part of Kaspian had never entirely accepted his own death, either. That probably wasn't a good thing, but, it wasn't like Kaspian knew what to do with that, either.

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Yes, he knew that. That was the problem.

Kassander sighed, quietly, glancing to one side in thought. Maybe it didn't really matter. It wasn't like Kassander could make the Swede do what he said, because Kaspian was at least a grown-ass man. ... now if he'd just start acting like one, then Kassander would be in business. He supposed that wasn't terribly fair. Kassander knew more about him than he knew about himself, most of the time, and their relationship had always been a very awkward one. Kassander was both the only father figure Kaspian had ever had, and also his biggest and most daunting obstacle. It wasn't like Kassander didn't know all that. Simply, it hadn't come up, before. Kassander hardly had the time to talk about it before, and Kaspian had never brought it to the forefront, and now, certainly, Kassander had even less time.

He was honestly surprised he was even still awake, and not falling over from exhaustion.

Then, he didn't have time to dwell on that, too long, either.

"I know you don't," Kassander replied, standing up mostly straight. "Which is, you know, kind of my point. If nothing else, you've been skating in a hell of a schedule your entire career. Nationals, Worlds, the Grand Prix, one after another, and even when you went home you'd still be skating. Maybe it'd do you some good to take a break." You know, do something besides skating, for once. Well, he supposed that wasn't entirely fair. He did do things besides skating, it just wasn't very often. Given the mess with Rowan and Brett, though, and never mind Rowan was pregnant and Skylar was probably going to fill Brett's shoes there, he could use some guidance from someone besides his mother and his grandmother. Not to say either were terrible to turn to, they just also weren't male and didn't really understand the specific struggles boys tended to face. Hey, at least they didn't have to run off to go fight the Getae at sixteen anymore, but that didn't change the fact they experienced the world differently.

Rowan was having a boy. ... not that she knew that, yet. And Kaspian hardly knew who the fuck Rowan was.

"And maybe," he went on, "somewhere in there, you'll figure out what to do next." It wasn't like Kassander could tell him what he wanted. The Light, after all, saw everything, except into the hearts of men. Kassander hardly understood his own, so, that was fine. Trying to make sense of someone else's heart would just be a gigantic pain in the ass. ... he wondered if he could get Hasan to have tea ready when he got home. He was starting to get a migraine.

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A break, huh? And he supposed this break was supposed to magically fix it, and tell him what the heck all he was supposed to be doing with his life. Kassander said that like it was supposed to be so easy, but, Kassander wouldn't really understand, Kaspian surmised. No, Kassander had, it seemed, always been privileged. Certainly, he didn't act anything like someone that would understand. Logically, of course, Kaspian knew that their livelihoods didn't depend as heavily on him as they used to-but there was still that niggling concern that, the moment he stopped, the glass castle would come crashing down. It wasn't fair. Either to himself, or Alison, who was doing quite well for herself, and Skylar, now, but that wasn't entirely the point. The feeling was still there, that sense of urgency, the whole... if he stopped, then what?

It was ridiculous. He was ridiculous, he knew this, he knew it and still, the anxiety always won, in the end. He'd never bothered to learn to be anyone or anything else, because he'd always felt like he had to keep pushing himself, because if he let it drop even a little... then, of course, if he slowed down, his demons could catch up. Kaspian had a few of those, demons, that is. Most thought he didn't, because he was quite good at acting like he didn't, but reality was so rarely what it seemed to be at first glance. Playing pretend for the public, he'd needed to get good at it, a long time ago, and the habit had never gone away.

He didn't expect Kassander to understand. Everything had seemingly come so easily to the Italian, and it wasn't fair, it wasn't fair, what the hell did he know about the life Kaspian lived and the choices he'd had to make? And so what if it'd trapped him on the ice? He should be damned proud of how far he'd come, he should-he should wear it like a badge of honor, because he'd done this on his own, for the sake of supporting his little partially-broken family, and there was nothing wrong with any of that.

Then why did it feel like there was, sometimes?

"I guess," Kaspian answered, crossing his arms. "I just don't see a reason to. Things've changed, now. I can keep going as long as I want, why should I stop?" He was a daeva, now. Old age and mortality wouldn't get in his way, not anymore, and since he didn't know what else to do, anyway, why should he even bother? That was, ultimately, what he figured. It wasn't to say it wasn't the wrong way of looking at it, but he had yet to find any evidence that it was a dangerous way of looking at it. Besides, whenever Skylar got to college, tuition would be absolutely not a concern.

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Oh, he wasn't getting it.

It was debatable, if Kaspian was even capable of grasping what Kassander meant, right now. Maybe he still had to do some more floundering on the ice, before he figured it out, but it'd save himself, and his family, a lot of pain if he figured it out now instead of in six months when he won the Grand Prix, yet again, and neither Alison or Skylar would talk to him. And that was a result that was bound to be gotten sooner or later, and Kassander really didn't want to see it. Kaspian deserved a little better than that, and it wasn't as if the Swede was stupid, just, a little logically-challenged at the moment, he guessed.

He wasn't sure how to explain this in a manner Kaspian would understand, at least, not without divulging some information he really ought to hear from his family, and Kassander... was not his family. As much as Kaspian had, in some sense, put Kassander where that father-shaped hole in his heart was, he wasn't Alison or Skylar, and logically, he was sure Kaspian knew that, even if he didn't know what to do with it.

"Kaspian, listen to me for once," Kass tiredly answered. "Just because you don't have to stop, doesn't mean you shouldn't. Things have changed now, in more ways than just that. And don't you think it's just a little bit weird, after what happened after Worlds, here you are, hopping around on the ice again? Did it ever occur to you that maybe not knowing what else to do is the giant neon sign you ought to figure that out? You're far beyond the stage where you have no choice but to skate. If that's really what you want to do, then I won't stop you, but I think you don't want to, you just haven't considered anything else. And it's okay not to know. Most people really don't know, but it's not as if you can't take the time and figure that out. What'd you win last Worlds, anyway, almost fifty thousand dollars? And that was just last Worlds, it's really not like you're broke." And, even if he was, it wasn't as if Kassander wouldn't keep him floating, if he had to.

He didn't point that out. Kaspian did so hate being a charity case.

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Oh, like he'd even know!

Maybe that was what grated his nerves so hard. Kassander liked to talk like he knew something, but he didn't. He didn't know anything about the life Kaspian had led, he didn't know anything about what it was to make hard decisions, he didn't know anything about having to make a couple sacrifices to make sure your family was okay, because god damn it they were all he had, and even if he had to ruin his own life to make sure they could live his, that was what he'd do. Now, he'd reached a point where he knew, logically, that he didn't have to anymore, but he'd never had occasion to think about what he really wanted. For lack of really caring, he'd let it go. It didn't really matter, he was good at this, and it made a good deal of money because he was good at it.

"Just, forget it," Kaspian grumbled. "You don't really get it. I guess you wouldn't, practically everything's been handed to you on a silver platter, so I guess you wouldn't really know what it's like not to have any other choices, and I know I do now, but why fix something if it isn't broke?" That was what he figured. Things could be worse. He could really not have the ability to skate anymore, and then, he guessed, he'd have no choice but to figure it out, and that was kind of the person Kaspian was. A creature of necessity, he only did what he had to, and he didn't have to.

So, oh well. He'd worry about what to do with his career when he'd been skating for 25 years later, he was only on maybe 18 years at this point. And sure, maybe most people's careers didn't last quite that long, but it wasn't entirely unheard of. He'd broken every world record just before he'd died, why not keep the wheel turning, hm?

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... oh, he knew this boy did not.

For a long moment, it probably seemed like Kassander wasn't going to answer that at all. If one was paying attention, though, he'd gone a bit tense. Unfortunately, the sudden wave of anger just underscored how tired he was, but he'd survive for another few minutes, at least. Long enough to tell this idiot what for. In his head, he mulled over the words, his hands gripping the edge of the nearest board, so tight his knuckles turned white.

"Don't," he started, tone very low. Kassander rarely ever raised his voice and this idiot wasn't going to be on the list of things he raised his voice for. "You have no idea what I've been through, the things I've survived, the things I didn't survive, the choices I've had to make, you don't know how much I had to go through to get here. You don't know me, Kaspian, you don't know where I've been. Don't mistaken hard work for dumb luck. You know what your problem is? You just don't want to change. Because when you're off the ice, the roaring in your head gets louder and you never did figure out how to face those demons, did you? Well guess what, ignoring them doesn't make them go away, and maybe it's never crossed your mind, but Alison and Skylar don't want your stupid money, they want you. So how's about you come down off that fucking high horse now and start smelling the goddamn roses. ... and don't talk to me for at least a week. Figure your shit out on your own, you're so determined you know how, then."

Kassander didn't even wait for an answer. Whatever graceless rhetoric Kaspian could manage to sputter out in response to that really didn't matter to him, not now. In a week or so, maybe only a few days, he'd be less pissed off. In the meantime, he needed tea, and a nap. With that, he just pushed off the boards, and walked away.

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