ACT II: CHAPTER SIXTEEN

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A/N: Welcome to Kiev.

For some historical context, this part of the story takes place right after the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, after the riots and protests, but before the Crimean crisis. That's partly why I chose Kiev. I thought the political tension might make for an interesting backdrop, even if the dates/ages don't match up exactly with my story's timeline. Also, the Kiev Ballet is one of the best in the world and attracts a lot of famous dancers. I thought it would appeal to Beauchamp's vanity.

Warning: this chapter contains some disturbing subject matter.

HARRY / PAST

Kiev was in turmoil. The passport officer asked us if we were sure that's where we were headed. Beauchamp assured him that it was. We'd arrived at the end of the Revolution of Dignity, where protestors had clashed violently with police in Maidan Nezalezhnosti, "Independence Square." Graffiti, crumbling mortar and garbage accosted us at every turn. Concrete was black, scorched from the fires. Pamphlets and torn revolutionary flags littered the streets. There were still police in army fatigues with gas masks and protesters shouting in the square. Even though the worst of it was over, violence hung in the air like a heavy fog.

I should have been scared of this place, but I was glad for it. All of its horrors and scars made me forget about my own.

In the taxi I looked at some of the more interesting graffiti—a spray-painted Guy Fawkes mask, and a cartoon bull with a speech bubble that read "Fuck Putin." But mostly I just quietly scrolled through my phone.

Beauchamp was watching me. He liked it when I played the part of the sullen teenager. He feigned annoyance. "Oh, Harry, put that away, please." He took my phone. "Sit up straight. Smile once in a while."

We were ten minutes away from the apartment and sitting in traffic. Beauchamp spoke conversational Ukrainian and chatted with the driver. The word "syn" kept coming up over and over again.

"What does that mean?" I asked. "Syn."

Beauchamp leaned over and whispered, "Son. He thinks you're my son."

He put a hand on my knee.

We arrived at his new apartment in the center of the city early evening. It was an airy space with big windows, but the post war fixtures were utilitarian, worn and depressing.

Unlike his one-room apartment in Paris, this place had two bedrooms. I ran into the smaller room. It was painted robin's egg blue and had a small pine desk. Maybe he would let me sleep here, I thought.

Beauchamp told me to follow him. He carried my bag to the master bedroom where we would both staying together. He said I would be too tired after "making love" to move to the other room.

"You can stay in there during the day if you like. You can sit at the little desk and do your homework while I'm at the studio."

I nodded in defeat.

In the master bedroom I shrugged off my backpack and let it fall to the floor. I began to take off my clothes. I wanted to do it right away. At least get the first round over with and hope that maybe it would numb me for the rest of the night. Anticipating what Beauchamp might do to me was almost worse than the act itself.

He chuckled. "Eager are we?"

I didn't say anything.

"Put on your suit," he ordered. "We're going to the opera house, but," he took my hand and placed it between his legs, "there'll be plenty of time for this later."

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