Edward stood across from me, wrapped in a warm jacket, a lumpy green scarf around his neck. I glared at him, shoving my hands into my pockets.
"So, what are you getting him?" he asked, smirking as he stared into the merrily decorated shop window.
"Sheet music," I bit out, shivering a little from the cold.
"Don't you think he's going to get tired of that? You give him sheet music every year…" He sounded so smug.
"What are you getting him?" I asked, suspicious.
He smiled. "A concert grand piano. It's beautiful—made of mahogany wood, nine feet, the best tone money can buy. It has such beautiful sound quality—truly amazing."
Oh wow… there was no way I could top that gift. Edward was rich, so I suppose it was foolish to compete with him… somehow, though, Daniel always liked my gifts better. This time, though, I was less than confident.
I glared over at Edward, cursing him for his money and his vivid green eyes and his tailored clothes. Daniel's smile was mine. He didn't deserve it. So what if I couldn't afford the most expensive piano on the market (or the cheapest one, for that matter)? So what? That didn't mean that I tried any less to make him smile.
"I imagine that'll be hard to wrap," I growled and stalked away, feeling foolish. After all, how could I compete with him? Edward had learned to play the piano just so that he could accompany Daniel. Now, he'd bought him a beautiful piano. And he'd already threatened to buy the boy a beautiful, expensive car for his sixteenth birthday.
I sighed softly as I returned home, slumping against the wall. "Daniel…"
Warm blue eyes and an angelic smile. With him, conversations always seemed to go west, tending toward the hurt inside his heart or philosophical discussions about life and death. He was only a child.
He always seemed so grown up, though. I gave him sheet music on his birthday and he'd always give me the sweetest smile before perusing the little book and sight reading his way through it, biting his lip when he came to a difficult interval, his voice jumping octaves at a time under his breath.
I could only watch him, a smile forming across my lips, forgetting that there was anyone in the room but the two of us.
There wasn't anything strange about my actions, though, or at least I didn't think so. He was the youngest of us Darklings, the "baby," and we all doted on him. Besides, he was so sweet and affectionate and his parents had died less than a year prior… it was natural to treat him with extra kindness, to give him a little more affection than anyone else. In fact, it was hard not to be affectionate with him, especially when he was sad, tears filling his broken-glass blue eyes or when he smiled so brightly and put his small warm arms around my waist in a hug.
Mayu talked to me after his birthday party one year. She had a hurt, suspicious look in her eyes, and I had to wonder why. The party had gone as usual—I'd gotten him sheet music again, this time Galuppi's Dixit Dominus. He hadn't read it all the way through because it was a major choral work and that would've taken forever, so he just looked over the first page, grinned at me and said a sweet, heart-melting "Thank you" before continuing on. Nothing abnormal had happened.
So why was she staring at me like that, crushed-cinnamon eyes boring into my soul?
"You… you love him, don't you?" she choked, having trouble with her words but managing them anyway. Her fists shook at her sides and, unreasonably, her eyes were filling with tears.
Her words were like a bomb exploding in my heart. "What?" I gasped.
"Of course you love him! You stare at him with that look in your eyes and you smile so kindly at him! How could you not love him? Oh… I'm a fool!" she cried angrily, warmth pouring down her cheeks.
My mouth felt dry, like a desert, and I licked my lips. "I… don't love him," I whispered pathetically. I didn't love him. I wasn't like that. My older brother had been like that, and when Father found out, he'd beaten him to death. I'd seen it, heard it. Big brother's blood had splattered across my face and Father had barked at me to go get him another beer. I'd run away from home. I wasn't like that.
His laughter, drifting from a nearby room, brought tears to my eyes. I heard his uneven footsteps, that tottering run he broke into when he was trying to get somewhere too fast and he tripped over his own feet in that way that wasn't cute at all, and then he was there in front of me.
He wasn't beautiful with brightly flushed, freckle-covered cheeks, little panting breaths blowing from his open pink mouth, blue-violet eyes bright as he stared at me. "G-Guess what, Farrin? Guess what?" he panted, struggling for breath. "Edward just gave me a piano! Oh, it's so beautiful—I don't deserve such a wonderful gift! And we've been playing the music you gave me… you always pick such wonderful music, it's so lovely! Thank you, Farrin! Thanks so much!"
He moved closer, his arms about to encircle me and envelop me in his warm, rosy hug, but I brought my hand back and slapped him hard across the cheek. My palm stung from the blow and I watched as his eyes widened in shock and hurt and he brought a trembling hand to touch his reddening cheek, his voice coming out in a pitiful little squeak, "Farrin? Farrin, why?"
I stared down at him, horrified by what I'd done but unable to fix it. When a horrible, wounded sob choked in his throat I couldn't do anything except watch as he ran away. His long red hair blew behind him as he ran so fast that no one could've caught him, least of all me.
I turned back to look at Mayu, who had watched the whole time. Her arms were crossed over her chest. "You're horrible," she spat.
"I don't love him," I grit out as she turned and stalked out the door. My traitorous hand throbbed as a reminder of what I'd done… oh, what a horrible thing I'd done…
I'd told him, once, that I'd never make him cry.
His parents had just died and he'd come to me, to me of all people, looking small and lost. He fit perfectly in my arms and I wiped away his tears and kissed his hair and told him it would be all right. "It's hard to love someone," Daniel murmured tearfully, "When you know that in the end you'll only end up crying."
I'd taken his pink fingers and kissed them, not lovingly. "You can love me, then, because I'll never make you cry. No one can ever take me away from you. I won't die like they did."
He'd given me a wet smile and kissed my cheek and it hadn't melted my heart.
I blew on my palm, willing the redness to leave. It stung more than it had the right to, but then again… I deserved the pain. To hurt someone so…
…I won't say it.
I don't love him, and if that's the only way to prove it to that stupid woman, then that's just what I have to do. And… if that's the only way I can prove it to myself…
…Then I'll hurt him forever, no matter how much it kills me.
Edward can have his smile.
AN: Please tell me what you thought! I don't think it's terribly confusing, even without the backstory explained, but tell me... stuffs anyway. Yay. Depressing.