Title: The Inevitable
Fandom: The Barber of Siberia
Genre: angst, (implications of slight) romance
Characters: Count Polievsky, Andre Tolstoi (in mention)
Summary: In the end, Polievsky thinks that maybe the reason, the catch, is growing up. Implied slash.
In the end, Polievsky thinks that maybe the reason, the catch, is growing up. Standing at the station as the trains with the convicts pick up speed and rumble off into the great expanse, half-singing half-shouting the words “with you my life has passed, with you my cadet years rumbling flew by” he knows that this is the end of something more, something greater than his friendship with Andre. This isn’t just about loosing a friend, to accepting a forced separation.
When he was young his father was hard on him, always talking about how when he grew up and entered the real world he would have to be prepared for the fact that very few things in life were just. “One day you will grow up, Misha,” his father would tell him, “and you will wish that you could have one more day of childhood. Treasure your innocence while you have it but take life’s lessons as they come and learn to deal with the world as it is – unjust, cold, more often than not, lonely.” Perhaps this is the ultimate lesson, the purging of what innocence still remained in his heart.
They walk back to the Academy, dejected and teary-eyed. They make a straggling, somber procession and Polievsky allows himself the luxury of withdrawing into his own thoughts. The pictures before his eyes are numerous. Everything from fencing practice, at which he excelled, to theater performance, at which Andre was the star, to Academy drills and classroom lessons disrupted by immature boyish pranks, to balls and drunken parties, to after-curfew, in-the-dark, whispered conversation. He knows it will never be that way again. Every time they look around there will be an empty space where Andre should be and Polievsky cringes inwardly at the thought, stumbling forward. Someone, Alibekov probably, catches him and puts an arm around his shoulders for a moment or two before letting him be. Polievsky takes note of how numb he is, how much this still feels like a dream and wonders at how he will ever survive the return of feeling.
So is this what growing up meant? Losing and longing? Never getting to truly say goodbye? Constant regrets? Oh how he regrets everything now. Regrets the jokes, the duel… even the feather-light kiss Andre gave him in sign of forgiveness and reconciliation the night of their promotion to officer rank. In fact he is not quite certain what would have been worse – to part on shaky ground or like this, where ultimate hope had been granted only to be ripped away. In the former case, guilt and regret would have eaten him alive but the way things stood now… How cruel it was to glimpse hope even if only for a moment, to have it torn away and trampled.
At times, Polievsky hates Jane. But then he comes back to reality and understands that the inevitable would have happened eventually. Graduated from the academy they would all go their own ways, Andre would marry, he himself would marry at some point and the years they shared together would be nothing but whispers and echoes of a long-gone childhood. It would be a less definite separation but the end would be the same. They would grow up. Jane just accelerated the process. If he was to be honest, it could have been any other woman.
Polievsky wonders vaguely what his life would be like in several years. Where will he be, who will be beside him? Will be ever forget this day, this feeling of absolute emptiness? He doesn’t think so and the world seems beyond empty. He considers very briefly following Andre to Siberia but instantly realizes that that romantic dream will never come to pass. He will cry himself to sleep for a week, maybe a month but he will never go to Andre. He will remember with painful nostalgia every day that they had shared and every touch and every look but soon these memories will become nothing but hazy, dream-like photographs within his mind. Soon life will fall into a new rhythm and he will take to it like a dancer to the music. Because that is how the world works. Because he is no longer allowed to be a young, tenderly in love cadet who has all the innocence of boyhood on his side. Andre’s conviction and exile is life’s wake up call, it’s way of making him to understand that the time has come to lose and mourn one last time before the real world swallows him whole into its merciless reality.
In the end, Polievsky knows that the reason, the catch, is growing up.