I used the back of my hand to wipe blood off my lip as we both wheezed heavily. We couldn't go on for much longer. She couldn't. I tried all I could to stall the match, rein my strength in, remain focused on her to ignore the heat of the match. This way I could block out the worst side of me, I could keep the monster at bay, so that I wouldn't hurt her. But it served to very little.
Silvia couldn't endure much longer. Blood was gushing out of her wound, stitches had come off once and for all, and this time Sokolov wasn't keen on letting his medical staff patch her up. And I know why. It was a death ramble, and he wanted us dead. Both of us.
He knew I wouldn't resist much longer. He's seen me fighting, he knows I can't keep control for too long. Stupid of me to come fighting in the same circle I did back in the days. Stupid of me to come knocking on this man's door to get what I wanted. He was waiting for that exact moment I would lose my shit, I knew he was. As much as I knew he knew that sacrificing the fighter his spectators had been furiously betting on for the past week would gain him way more money than he could count. It's like Rome's gladiators. The harder a gladiator fights, the more the crowd loves him, but if he dies on the battlefield, then they'll love him even more. Or, in this case, her.
I knew what was Sokolov's plan. He wanted me to be the one that would end her. He never planned on letting us go, the 27 matches to win were only an excuse. The 26 matches before me were only meant to exhaust Silvia, so that she would get to this, to fight me in the cage, when her forces had almost abandoned her. This way her death would be more interesting for the same spectators that had loved her. She would die while entertaining them, it would be the ultimate sacrifice. Didn't gladiators die to entertain a blood-thirsty crowd? And if she died at the very same hands that love her the most, even better would it be.
Sokolov knows me. He knows how I fight, he knows that for me there's a breakpoint where I'm no more in control of myself. He wanted exactly that. Sokolov aimed to unleash the monster deep inside me, force me to fight back, until I lost control, and snapped. One way or another, he would get away with it.
If she dies, I die. If I die, he kills her. Police will have nothing to investigate on, and eve it they try to, these people here are so damn used to covering up deaths on the battlefield, that it wouldn't take them much. The sole loose end Sokolov might trip into is the one thing he doesn't know about me.
He doesn't know who I am. He knows I'm a fighter, he knows I've gained him a shit load of money back in the day, but he doesn't know my actual name, he doesn't know my family name. Come on, you think I'd risk using my own name when entering such a circle? I'm a masochist with a pretty evident death wish, but that's exactly the point: I put my life on the line, not Serene's, not Colin's, not anyone's. So I used a false name. They may know I'm a bored rich guy, or they see me as it, but they don't know the full extent of it.
To put it short, since I was, after all, engaged in a fight, so I couldn't spend too much time thinking; to put it short, Sokolov has left one loose end in all his majestic money-making, blood-splattering plan. My uncle. Oh, he won't avenge me, rest assured. But he will take his countermeasures. Who do you think dragged me out of this circle last time?
The point, however, is, holding on. Sokolov wants me to snap and kill the love of my life. And the trouble is, if he thinks I could, it's because I may. I'm afraid I could, that's the whole trouble. And that is why I kept on dosing my strength as much as I could, so that the hype of the battle wouldn't get to me, and the worst side of me wouldn't awake.
But it'd been hours, and at this point, wounded, covered in blood, exhausted, we couldn't stand much more. Silvia wobbled, and gripped the cage, to take a breath, while the crowd booed her for that. I couldn't think of a way to get her out of this alive, or rather, I couldn't think of a way to get her out of here that she'd agree with.
She chose me. She chose me over herself. And I know her, if I decided to sacrifice on her behalf, she would let it be in vain. If I forced her to unleash her own demons, that rage I once saw in her eyes, if I did what, in the end, Sokolov would like anyways, she wouldn't take the chance. If I let her kill me, she would follow me right after.
Because, now I realize, this woman has given me much more than she could. This woman here has given me much more than her heart, she's entrusted her soul into my hands, her whole life. This woman, now I see, the woman that never let herself feel, the same woman that saw emotions as weakness, the same woman that believed in detachment as a defense mechanism. This woman was willing to die for me.
She never intended to get us both out of here. Her sole goal was to save me. Her only plan was to sacrifice herself for me. And there was nothing, nothing I could do to stop it.
My vision was blurring, I could barely see anything around me, but as long as I could still see Jake, I could keep on fighting. I ought to be careful, I knew that. I could nudge the bull too much, I shouldn't push him too much, because that way Sokolov's plan would be enacted. I knew what he wanted. Why else would he save this one as the last match?
He wanted Jake to be the one to kill me, but I'd never allow that. I know Jake would never forgive himself if he hurt me. Hurting me emotionally with his cheating has brought him to this, I can't even fathom what would it happen if he was forced to kill me. He's barely survived to his guilt throughout his life, I won't be the one to end him once and for all.