Devil with the Angel's Eyes (16+)

(Based on Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner)

Saria Ahmed is Assef's twelve year old sister, a charming young girl with bright blue eyes, and curly blonde hair. With her girly dresses and sweet demeanour, she comes across as the perfect child. But there is evil lying just beneath the innocent facade, a darkness that is sometimes beyond her control...

Any characters, words or plot devices taken from the Kite Runner are copyrighted by Khaled Hosseini and Dreamworks studios. I do not own them, and no copyright is intended. Saria Ahmed, and any other characters not owned by Hosseini are owned by me.

Please note that this story does contain strong violence, language and mature themes, but it is meant to reflect the violent and sociopathic natures of both Saria and Assef, and is told from Saria's unique first person perspective. If you are under the age, or maturity level of 16, or are in any way squeamish about violence, please do not read this story. Any feedback/ideas are welcomed.

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26. Sibling Reconciliation

In the last chapter, Saria recieved hospital treatment for her injuries. She soon learned that her internal injuries were so severe she lost the ability to bear a child. With her womb now barren she vowed to make Aarash pay for what he did. Now we find she has gone home from hospital...

''I'm going to take a bath now, Mama, Papa,'' I said, getting up from the dinner table, folding my napkin and neatly placing it upon my plate. Just as I had been brought up to do. I took another sip of water from my glass and set it back down on the coaster.

Mama narrowed her eyes in irritance at the half-eaten dinner on my plate. "Are you okay, darling?" she asked. Her voice was laced with concern. She walked around to my side of the table and put a soft, gentle hand upon my cheek. "You haven't touched your dinner. What's wrong, sweetie?"

Of course, there was no way that I would tell her what was playing on my fragile mind. Not a fucking chance in hell! The less the bitch knew, the better. I lowered my eyes, biting my lip in an attempt to seem cute or endearing. "I-I'm fine, Mama. Really."

"Are you sure, daughter? You haven't been eating much this past few week." Mama put the back of her hand against my forehead and against my cheek. "You don't seem to have a temperature," she mused, more to herself than to me. "Still.. do you need to see a doctor?" The cunt pulled me into an embrace, stroking the back of my head. "Saria, you need to tell us what's wrong so we can help you."

Us, of course, being my parents. I clenched my fists behind my mother's back. It took everything within me to stop from lashing out and slapping the concerned look right off their ugly faces. 'Don't pretend like you care, you fucking whore,' I thought irately. "Nothing is wrong, honestly," I lied through my teeth. "I guess I'm just a little stressed out over school. Mullah Fahrsir Khan's been giving us lots of tests lately."

I remembered to speak politely, despite the fact that all I really wanted to do was to spit in both their faces and tell them to go fuck themselves. Papa reached across the table, taking my little hand in his and squeezing it tightly. "Just do your best, Saria. That's all you can do."

"I understand, Papa, and I'm fine. Really," I said. Mama gently pressed her lips to the side of my forehead and smiled, though she didn't look as though she believed my little white lie. "I'm going to bed," I reiterated again, forcing myself to give her a kiss on the cheek. I looked over at my brother.

Assef continued to absent-mindedly pick at the food on his plate. Mama and Papa didn't seem to take any notice of this. All their attention was focused on me. For some strange reason, Assef hadn't even made eye contact with me at all through out the entire meal. While it was of course impossible to truly be ourselves in the prescences of the shits calling themselves parents, meal times with Assef had never been this awkward.

Still, I doubted it was anything to worry about. So what if he didn't acknowledge or speak to me? It was only just for one night. My brother seems to always have something or other plaguing his mind. That was all that was wrong, I was sure of it.

''I'll probably get ready for bed once my bath is done. I'll see you tomorrow morning,'' I addressed the conversation to my parents. It was about eight or so in the evening. Hamilra had been late cooking up dinner today. Stupid Hazara cunt! Her meal was shit as usual. I wanted to break the plate and use it to cut her up. Mama had been busy this week so she hadn't had time to cook for us, which was a shame, because I truly did love my mother's cooking. Every time I ate something Hamilra cooked I would up with a stomach ache.

Perhaps this was part of the reason I hadn't eaten much tonight. ''Are you going to give your Papa a good night kiss?'' I very nearly rolled my eyes but I managed to hold my smile. My jaw ached from all the fucking grinning I was doing tonight.

''Of course, Papa.'' I walked around the table and gave both my parents a goodnight kiss. They smiled at how adorable I was being. I wrapped my arms around my brother's neck and kissed his cheek. ''Good night, Assef.''

He patted my hand awkwardly. ''Night, Saria,'' he replied nonchallantly. I pulled away from him and he once again turned his attention to his dinner plate. I decided I would think nothing more of this. Everybody had their off days after all. It would do me no good to worry or fret.

I did enough of that it seemed. I left the room and went upstairs. It was quite a cold Thursday night, with frigid winds and rain pattering the window pane. The bathroom always seemed to be very fucking cold and tonight would be no exception. I fetched two white towels from the closet. As I was doing so, I noticed Hamilra sweeping up in the hall. She lowered her head respectfully when she saw me. I would expect nothing less of the bitch. Having servants gave me a great sense of power.

It always had, ever since I was a little girl. Unfortunately, I had to keep up appearances around my parents otherwise I would have beaten the shit out of her more often. I went into the bathroom and locked the door behind me. I started to run the bath, heating up the water. 'Fuck it. Cold,' I thought to myself as I began unbuttoning my dress. I was wearing a lilac pinafore with an off-white shirt underneath it. I slid it off and stood naked in front of the bathroom mirror. I looked at myself, shivering, my arms wrapped around my torso.

I had long since healed up physically from the torture that Aarash had put me through. I still had a small scar on my neck from where he'd cut me with the blade, along with a tiny scar on my nose. It looked like what happens when your glasses are too tight. It was not noticeable at all, except to me. I hated it. Absolutely fucking hated it. God, it was so ugly. Oh, here I go being melodramatic again! Even now I can hardly stand the sight of it. This blemish on my skin. It made me feel like I was no better than Fahrsan, or Masood.

'Don't think like that, Saria,' I chastisted myself. 'You're better than they are. You are.' Angrily, I closed my fist and knocked on my temple, as if hoping the message would sink in. 'Fuck this. Let's just get to bed as soon as possible,' I thought.

I dipped my toe into the bath. Once I was certain that the water was warm enough and that it wouldn't scald my ass off either, I slid into the bath. I quickly ducked my head under, allowing the water to flow over my face. It felt calming, peaceful. My broken arm and leg had healed up quite well, although at times they still pained me.

Sometimes my ribs still caused me a little discomfort. Tonight would be one of those fucking nights. It ached a little bit as I washed my face and body. At least one month had passed since my beating from Aarash. Still the memory of it I knew would stick with me forever. That's just what happens when you go through such a traumatic experience. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I guess one would call it.

I tried not to think of it. Bathing always managed to soothe my nerves. Maybe it was the calmness of the water or something. I don't know. Yet the macabre thoughts still raced in my head. I wanted revenge on everyone who had done this to me. Especially Adia. My bitch needed to learn who was in control. Payback was going to be a bitch for her. She was going to regret ever turning her back on and betraying her ''best friend.'' Of this I was certain. Thinking of the fun I could have with her always calmed me sufficiently. I could hear my parents and brother go to their respective rooms.

Neither Mama nor Papa wanted to spend any unnecessary time with their son. I couldn't understand why but I guess not everyone agrees with the ideas my brother and I share. Not even our own parents. Fucking assholes, the both of them. I shut my eyes as I listened to the sounds of two doors clicking behind their respective owners. It was probably time for me to go to bed.

I stood up and carefully stepped out onto the bath mat, taking care not to slip. I didn't want to fucking end up in another emergency room, now, did I? I wrapped a fluffy white towel around my body and used the other, smaller one, to dry the few strands of hair that had gotten wet from the bath. I vigorously rubbed my body dry. My room was about twenty four steps or so away from the bathroom. Hopefully I had remembered to close the fucking window. Didn't need to catch a chill on top of everything else that was wrong with me, though it would be just my luck if this did happen. It now must have been about half past eight or so.

I padded in my bare feet from the bathroom to my bedroom with the bundle of clothes in my arms. I gently shut the door behind me. 'I hope that Hazara cunt hasn't been in here,' I thought, tossing the clothes into the hamper. They weren't even dirty. Oh well, just some more work for her to do. If I couldn't physically harm her then I would make her work like the filthy dog she was. The thought of her slaving over clothes that didn't need to be washed at all was very satisfying for me. Stupid cow. I went over to my wardrobe and opened the drawers. My nightgown was neatly folded inside.

I pulled it out and slid it onto my body. The cotton felt warm against my aching ribs. After spending a week and a half in hospital, I could truly appreciate being back in my own bed. Do I even need to say how much I hate hospitals? Even in a private ward, I could get no fucking privacy. Doctors would come in and out nearly every five fucking minutes to check up on me. I hadn't had proper night sleep until I got back home.

Although, I suppose that was also because I had so much on my mind. Every time my head hit the pillow, the racing thoughts would begin anew. The rain continued to trickle down my window. It was very fucking annoying to listen to it. Rain was just another thing to add to the list of things that annoy the shit out of me, but what could I do about it? Besides, it wasn't even like I had to be outside now in any case. I watched my neighbours houses outside. I leaned my palms against the window sill.

The clock ticked endlessly on the wall behind my bed. As I stared forlornly out the window, I noticed one of my neighbours across the road get out of their car. The woman opened the back seat and took their baby son out. He was asleep in his mothers arms. I watched her enter the house with her husband.

The door shut behind them. Watching them made me think of what Aarash had so cruelly taken away from me. The ability to be a mother. To hold a baby in my arms and know that it was of my own flesh and blood. To know that it had my genes running through it. At the time I had only been a child myself, but now, all these years later, I fully understand the weight of the dreams Aarash had stolen from me

Dreams that now had been irreperably shattered beyond repair. Adoption was not an option for me. What would I want with a child that wasn't even biologically mine? I became a little misty eyed as I thought about it. Even weeks later the news hadn't fully sunk in. I suppose it never really would. Aarash had taken this opportunity from me and I was determined that he would pay for it. And pay dearly. What my brother and I would do to him would make what we did to our other victims look like nothing. I wanted to see him suffer for what he had done to me.

I suppose I don't even need to say this, do I? I wanted blood. Lots and lots of blood. I stepped away from the window and made my way to my warm, welcoming bed. There was no point in me trying to sleep just yet so I figured that I would read a book for a while. I had a stand with books on it just near my bed. I decided I would reread Rostam and Sohrab. It was my favourite story, simply for the pain that was caused to both the characters. Sometimes I wondered what it would feel like to murder my own child and not know. How would I react? Would I be in mourning or would I give two shits about it?

Well, I guess I'll never know that now. Now I would have to let go of this simple fantasy. The dream of motherhood was over before it even begun. I could only wonder why God was so cruel to me. Why fate seemed to hate me so. I would have been a good mother. I loved Assef, and I would have loved any child of mine the same way. Why would I ever hurt something that is my own flesh and blood?

'Fuck it, Saria, here I am getting upset again,' I thought, wiping my eyes with the cuff of my sleeve. I rolled my eyes. I just had to deal with what life had thrown at me. Roll with the punches as the saying goes. It wasn't as if I couldn't throw out my own punches, was it? I continued flicking through the pages of Rostam and Sohrab.

The young boy's pain was soothing to my tormented mind. It was almost like how reading a fairy tale would calm a restless child after a nightmare. Pain and torture are soothing to my very being. 'I wonder what it would feel like to stab someone with a sword?' I thought, barely suppressing a giggle. 'Would it be any different from using a knife?' I would make it my goal in life to find out. Yawning, my arms stretched over my head, back arching like a cat, I slid under the covers, pulling them up to my chin. Despite the constant thoughts in my head, it didn't take long for the beauty of sleep to overcome me...

I don't know what time in the night it was that I had this nightmare. It was probably a side effect of the trauma I had gone through. Still, that didn't make it any less terrifying.

I am lying on the dirty, rough ground up at the barracks. My arms and legs are once again bound. Aarash stands over me, looking down at me with the eyes of the devil. I am shaking in absolute terror and I can see my brother kneeling with his arms bound behind his back. I don't dare look at his face. I can't bear to see the pain in his eyes. The look of absolute desperation.

Aarash laughs, a low, inhumane sound that sent shivers right up my spine. He slapped me across the face, making the blood rush to my head. ''Aww, the stupid little cunt can't even fight back!'' he teases. He starts stomping on my chest, much like he had when this did in fact happen. I feel my ribs cracking under his feet. I start screaming with pain. Every breath was fucking agony.

The other boys begin laughing at me. One leans down and spits right into my mouth. ''Taste it, bitch!" he mocks. I almost gag in total disgust. Aarash grabs me by the hair and slams my head repeatedly into the ground. SLAM! SLAM! SLAM!

The blood is seeping out of my pretty blonde hair. I can hear my brother's heavy breathing in the distance. His terrified sobs. I steel myself and look into Aarash's dark, cold eyes. I hold his gaze. To me he was the most terrifying person who ever existed on this planet. I wondered if Adia thought this way about me. She probably did. Aarash starts to punch my stomach.

I scream in pain. A few feet away, my brother screams too. I can hear him swearing at the boys who were holding him down. He's obviously putting up a very good fight, though not good enough. Aarash laughs at my brother's feeble attempts to free himself from the boys who gripped both his arms. I notice Wali and Kamal standing on either side of me, wicked grins etched on each of their faces. I want to slit each of their throats in turn. To watch them bleed out at my feet. I alternate between rage and terror. Wali bends down so he was on level with me. He cracks me right in the jaw.

I gasp and bite down hard on my tongue, causing it to bleed. Great. More fucking pain for me to deal with. Aarash bends down and forced my legs apart. He forcefully shoves my dress up and pulls down my panties, exposing me to everyone there. I begin shaking in terror. ''No, no, noooo...'' I cry. Aarash touches the insides of my thighs, just as he had in real life. I start whimpering in terror.

''AARASH!'' Assef screams. ''Aarash, no! Don't you hurt her! It's me you want. Not Saria. Me!'' he cries desperately, tears streaming down his face. It breaks my heart.

Aarash looks from me to Assef. ''Hmm.'' He wears the same curious expression he had when this did happen, but, unlike then, I knew the outcome would be drastically different. My psyche loves to torture me with horrible 'what if's', and tonight would be no exception.

''No! Don't hurt my brother! Please, no!'' I beg, my lower lip quivering. "Please, I-I'll do anything, just please, leave him alone!" My heart begins to beat frantically in my chest as I looked over at my brother, his eyes catching mine. "Please, Aarash," I beg again, my eyes never leaving Assef's face for a second. "Leave him alone, it's me you want!"

"NO!" Assef screams, writhing against his restraints. "No, don't hurt her! Take me, not her! NOT HER!"

With an evil, evil grin painted on his face, Aarash gently traces the insides of my thighs. A cold shiver runs up my spine. "What do you say, kiddo?" he teases, using Assef's nickname for me, knowing how much it will piss me off. He gets up and wanders over to Assef. He places the blade of the knife against my brother's throat, leaning down to whisper in Assef's ear.

"She's mine now," he whispers cruelly, just loud enough so that I can hear. My heart almost stops when Aarash slides the knife across Assef's throat, cutting it right open. Assef gags and blood spurts from the wound. He falls foward, his body slumping to the asphalt. I let out a terrified scream which echoes all around me.

"ASSEF!" came a high pitched shriek. It took me a few moments to recognize the voice as my own. I sat up in a cold sweat, gasping for air. Was this what a person with asthma felt like? I placed a hand over my chest. My heart was beating at about 100 miles per hour. 'It's okay. It was just a nightmare. Assef is fine.' My body still shook like an autumn leaf.

I needed comfort and there was only one person who could provide that for me. It must have been either very late at night or very early in the morning depending on how you looked at it. I got out bed and staggered over to the door. It took me about at least one or two minutes to find the doorknob. I tripped over my own feet as I stumbled out into the hallway. 'It's okay. It's okay,' I tried to convince myself. 'Assef's alive. He wasn't killed.' But I knew that I wouldn't be comforted until I saw my brother with my own eyes.

The walk to his room seemed to take forever. An endless journey. I was sweating profusely, my face satured with tears. Eventually I reached Assef's room. The door was shut as usual. I didn't even bother to knock. I just flung the door wide open. The slamming noise reverberated as it hit off the wall. Assef sat up in bed. He placed a hand on his forehead.

''What is it?'' he asked, sounding irritated. I hurried to his bed and crawled in, leaning my head against his chest. Tears fell from my eyes.

''I had a nightmare, Assef. I want to stay with you tonight.'' The words came out little more than a whisper.

''No, Saria." I tensed up. No? Assef had never denied me the comfort I needed. Why was he doing so now? "Go back to bed." He turned his back to me.

''I want to stay with you tonight. Please, Assef. I'm really scared. Aarash was there. He killed you. He slit your throat and I had to watch you die,'' I whispered in his ear, wrapping my arm around his torso and holding tight. The tears would not stop.

Assef shifted, almost causing me to lose balance. He grumbled something under his breath - a profanity no doubt - and swung himself out of bed. ''Well, as you can see, Saria, I'm not dead,'' he explained, holding his arms out at his sides. ''Now. Back to bed. Come on.'' He grabbed me and picked me up. I wrapped my arms around his neck as he carried me back to my room.

He tucked me back into bed. I was shaking and crying in terror. ''I don't want you coming into my room anymore. Understood? Now, good night, Saria.'' With that, Assef left the room. I lay back and sobbed. This time from the hurt of knowing my big brother didn't want to comfort me after the terrifying nightmare I had just experienced.

All I fucking wanted was to go back and have Assef hold me. To have him cradle me and tell me everything would be alright. I was still pretty damn shaken up from that nightmare. I mean, wouldn't you be? I curled up into the feral position and sobbed for what seemed like hours on end. These tears were for having just been rejected by my brother.

I felt so hollow and lost. So upset. I must have cried myself to sleep. The sunlight came streaming in the window, rousing me from my short slumber. My head was pounding, more than likely from all the crying I had been doing. My pillow was soaked in my tears, as was my nightgown. The clock ticked periodically behind me. The noise was very fucking annoying. I wanted to smash the fucking thing onto the ground. I had to steel myself to stop this happening. The thoughts were racing non-stop in my head. It seemed I could get no respite. There was always some fucking worry going through my head. I listened to the sound of the front door opening.

About a fortnight ago, Mama had taken a job as a waitress in one of the local restaraunts. Just to give her something to do. A sense of purpose, she called it. I listened to the sound of the car engine revving up as she and Papa drove away. Good then. School was out for the day due to some meeting or shit like that. Not that I was complaining at all. I would welcome being away from those cunts of girls. At least now I had more time to plot my revenge on Adia. She needed to be made aware of how much she had hurt me. How much pain her best friend had gone through at her hands. I knew I could get away with anything if I were careful.

Faraya and Javid would never suspect me of hurting their daughter. To them I was the sweetest little girl in the world. I wondered if they would even consider me to be sweeter than their own daughter. The rain from last night had since eased off. Now I could see feel the sunlight streaming in the window. The weather changed as frequently as my moods. The heat was making this blanket very fucking uncomfortable. I had to get up and dressed before I fucking melted from this heat.

I got out of the bed and padded in bare feet over to the wardrobe. The fluffy white carpet tickled between my toes. I opened the wardrobe door and tried to think of the best dress to wear today. Something told me I would look like a fool no matter what I wore. What could I do about it though? I just had to deal with what I had. There were so many dresses for me to choose from. I decided that I would wear the only lavender dress I owned. It had short sleeves, a large collar and reached just above my knees. I didn't bother with tights and just put on a pair of socks with lace at the tops. My hair looked like a rats nest and it took me a good fifteen or twenty minutes or so to brush the tangles out.

It was as curly as ever. I picked up two light blue ribbons and fastened them in either side. Fuck it, I must have been a sight. It was all part of the ploy to seem as innocent as possible. I put on a pair of black shoes with bows tied at the front and did up the buckles. There was a large floor length mirror near my wardrobe. I stepped over and looked into it. Every time I saw myself in the mirror, I was taken aback by just how young I looked. If somebody saw me now there was no doubt in my mind that they would think I was only eight or nine years old. Perhaps ten at best.

I knew that I would look like this for years to come. I was going to be a very late bloomer it seemed. ''You're a very pretty little girl,'' I said to the girl in the mirror. The skirt of my dress swished as I moved from side to side. The broad smile on my face was a total contrast to the way I was feeling inside. Ever since I had returned from hospital, Assef had been almost hostile towards me. He would avoid me and didn't seem to want to talk to me. He was now spending more and more time alone. There was no reason for him to do this. I would think that after such a traumatic experience he would want to spend more time with me, not less.

I couldn't help but feel bitterly rejected. Still, I couldn't stay angry with him too long. He was my brother. I couldn't ever be mad at him for long. Still, I couldn't help but wonder why Assef was avoiding me. It really hurt that he wouldn't even bother to comfort me last night. I've always said that my brother is the one person I have ever loved. Anyway, I shouldn't be too worried about it in any case. Everything would fall into place. Everything would be fine. That is what I believed.

I looked at myself again in the mirror. I fixed my lopsided hair ribbons and re-tied the bow on the back of my dress. I made sure to keep a smile on my face. They say smiling makes a person feel good. I hoped that this would be the case for me. I certainly didn't feel good right now. Still, I didn't want to let anything get me down. I wanted to look on the bright side of life. Yet doing so just wasn't in my nature. My thoughts were always drifting into the negative but I was determined this wouldn't fucking happen again!

I had to remain positive. Assef was my brother and nothing could tear up such a strong relationship. I put on a light overshirt and buttoned it at the top. Now it was about half past nine or so in the morning. It was time for me to go downstairs. I left the room and closed the door behind me. That was just how I liked it. Keeping my private secrets locked within. I took a deep breath as I made my way to the stairs. At least with my parents out of the house I didn't have to worry myself with skipping around or trying to play innocent.

At least not in the house. I just walked down the stairs and into the kitchen. I spotted Hamilra pouring out two hot bowls of porridge. She didn't even dare to look in my eyes. She knew who was in control of her. ''Good morning, khanom. You look beautiful today. I've made some porridge for you. Please sit down and eat.''

''Where is my brother?'' I asked bluntly.

''Um, he's still upstairs I think. I will fetch him for you, shall I?''

I shook my head. ''No. I'm sure he'll come down when he's ready. Leave Assef alone and me too,'' I ordered Hamilra. She obediently took her leave like the little dog that she is. I picked up the spoon and began playing with my food. I watched Hamilra leave. She was a constant thorn in my side. I wanted nothing more than to cut her open and watch her bleed from the inside out. If only. All just a fantasy that I had to contend myself with. Perhaps one day I would kill her. The thought gave me so much joy in my heart. I wanted to hurt her so bad. I thought of smashing her skull in with a blunt object or something.

To rip her apart and gouge out her eyes. What wonderful fantasies! I played absent-mindedly with the bowl of porridge. I wouldn't bother with eating breakfast today. As I said before I really couldn't stand eating anything that Hamilra made for me. Mama was a much better cook than her but I doubt that this even needs to be said again. The Hazara bitch couldn't even boil water. I picked up the bowl and poured the disgusting concoction into the bin. After about five or so minutes had passed, Assef came into the kitchen. He didn't even bother to greet me as he picked up his own bowl of steaming hot porridge.

''Hamilra made that,'' I said by way of making conversation. ''I threw mine in the bin where it belongs,'' I added cheerfully. Assef grunted and averted my gaze. I smiled at him. ''Are you going to throw yours away too?'' I asked.

''Sure. Sure. Whatever,'' he replied flippantly. He dumped his own breakfast into the bin along with mine. ''There, Saria.'' That was another thing that bugged me. Assef hadn't called me ''kiddo'' in weeks. Not since the incident. I missed my special nickname. It hurt my feelings that he wouldn't call me that anymore.

Assef completely ignored me as he made his way into the living room. I decided that I would follow him in there. Nobody had the right to ignore me. Not even my own brother. Especially not my own brother. I took my seat next to Assef on the couch. He didn't even bother to acknowledge me. As to why this was I had no idea.

I had to be the one to break the ice it seemed. ''Um, uh, how's about you and I go take a just because?'' I asked. How I hated the awkwardness in my voice. Assef continued to stare blankly ahead. I moved over to sit directly beside him. I placed my head on his shoulder and gripped his arm in both of my tiny little hands. He didn't even acknowledge this. It was as if I was simply invisible to him now.

''Would you like to go on a just because?'' I asked again. Still I received no reply. I shook my brother's shoulder insistently. ''Assef, Assef, I'm talking to you. Assef!'' I exclaimed. He finally turned his head to face me, acknowledging that I was in the room.

''What is it, Saria?'' he asked in a bored tone of voice.

''I was just wondering if you wanted to go on another just because today? We can go to the alley way if you'd like to?'' I asked.

Assef shook his head. ''No.''

I was disappointed by his answer. ''Really? Are you sure? We haven't gone on one since Ara. Don't you think we should?'' I asked, my eyes wide and pleading. Assef shook his head again. He was looking ahead of him at the fireplace again. You could just feel the tension between us. ''Are you sure?'' I asked again. ''You and I, we really need to spend more time with each other, don't you think?''

Assef shrugged. ''If I'm being honest with you, Saria, I'd much rather spend time on my own. It's of no offense to you,'' he explained, trying to reason with me, but of course, I was getting quite offended. How dare he ignore me when all I wanted to do was spend time with him? Who the fuck did he think he was?

I honestly felt guilty for these emotions. This was Assef I was talking about. It wasn't right for me to feel such animosity towards him. Not to someone I loved and cared for so deeply. ''Do you want to do something else today then?'' I pressed on. ''Like, maybe a game of volley ball or something?''

Assef's fists clenched and unclenched. He continued to completely blank me. It was if I simply no longer existed to him. ''Do you want to do something today? We have the full day to ourselves after all. It would be nice to spend time with you,'' I explained. I gave Assef a big grin as I said this.

''No, Saria. I don't want to spend time with you. I want to be alone today. Is that so much for me to ask of you, sister? Just to be alone?'' He sounded pissed off now. I lowered my eyes in an attempt to gain his sympathy.

Things were getting heated. Neither Assef nor myself can hold a lid on our tempers for too long. Sooner or later one of us would explode. Still, I would not let him treat me like this. He will not ignore me. Not now, not ever! I was determined of this fact. I would not be treated in such a rude manner. I would no longer allow my brother to treat me in such a way. I knew that I had to remain calm. Assef and I were both old enough to have a civilised conversation without blowing our tops. I sighed and ran a hand through my hair.

The air was tense between us. I shook my head side to side to clear any negative thoughts. 'You're just talking to him now, Saria. Just talking. This is your brother after all. You can just talk to him,' I thought to myself. I didn't want to lose my temper and say or do something I would later regret. Still I knew deep inside that no matter what Assef said or did I could never harm him in any way. I loved him way too much to allow myself to harm him. He was the only person I felt this way for. Assef folded his arms sternly across his chest.

Both of us were in total silence. Neither wanted to be the first to speak up. I wanted to voice my concerns to my brother. I took a deep breath and decided I would just go for it. ''Assef, I want to spend the day with you. I will not take no for an answer. Who knows how long it will be before we have this type of free time again?''

''Another time,'' he replied.

I shook my head. ''No, not another time. It's always another time with you, brother. Always. And I'm getting really sick of it.'' I had to keep a lid on my temper. Anger was trying to take over my mind and heart. I continued to talk. ''Assef, I want to spend just one day with you. We may not get this chance again for a long time. You know how busy school gets for both of us.''

Assef shook his head. He ran his fingers through his blond hair. ''I told you, Saria, I want to spend time on my own. You and I, we can always spend time together. You're my little shadow,'' he said in a patronising tone of voice. I clenched my fists in anger. I shook with total rage.

My body was experiencing this primal change of emotion. Assef tried to diffuse the situation. ''Saria, you can find something else to do without me. Go upstairs and read a book or something. Go paint or draw. I don't really care what you do so long as I get my time. My time alone. That's my only request from you.'' He tried to reason with me. I was not taking no for an answer however. I knew what I wanted and I intended to get it.

''I thought you wanted to see me happy. For us both to be happy,'' I said.

''Saria, don't you know I would bend over backward to see you happy?'' my brother responded, frustrated.

''Bend over backward? I'm not asking you to do such a thing. I'm asking the simple request of you spending time with me. Just to find some victim to torment and to be who we are. Brother and sister.'' I trembled all over.

''Then let's do it some other time. You say you want us both to be happy? So why won't you adhere to my request, my sister? Why can't I have my time and you have yours? It's not good for us to be joined at the hip all the time.'' He tried to reason with me. Now I was getting pissed. I could feel the negativity overcoming me. That feeling of unbridled rage coursing through my very soul.

It was an unpleasant feeling to say the least. I stood up and pointed towards my chest. ''I'm being unreasonable here, Assef. I'm not asking for anything. Just to spend the day with you. I love you.'' I was going to play the 'love' card, yes. Assef rolled his eyes. This hurt my feelings. Wouldn't you be annoyed if someone you cared about rolled their eyes when you said you loved them?

''I don't want much. Just this one thing.'' I clasped my hands. ''Pleaseee?'' I asked. My charm didn't seem to work this time though.

''No. For the millionth time, I'll tell you, Saria. No.'' Now I was frustrated. I could no longer control my own actions. I began kicking at the chair in a childish fit of pique.

Assef chastised me. ''Saria! Are you twelve or three? Cop on!'' he exclaimed in a stern tone. I scoffed.

''You can't lecture me on tempers Assef. You have a pretty lethal one yourself. Where do you think I got mine from?'' I asked in retaliation. I could tell that things were escalating at a rapid level.

It seemed Assef and I couldn't have a simple talk without our tempers getting in the way. Still, what would you expect from two sociopaths? Levelheaded people we were not. Assef stood up and faced me head on. He looked at me. ''Saria. Saria, what am I going to do with you? Why can't you just leave me alone?'' I knew him well enough to know he had reached boiling point. Sooner or later I knew he would explode. And I would too.

''Assef, I'm not trying to harp in your ear or anything like that. You know this. I want us to spend at least just a little time together. Can you spare me at least a half hour of your time, my brother?'' I asked. ''Is that so much for me to ask?'' I clenched my fists.

Assef sighed in total frustration. He pinched the bridge of his nose. ''You really don't know when to give up, do you? I don't want to spend time with you. I want to be left alone. Do you understand this?'' he asked patronisingly.

I cocked my head to the side and put my hands on my hips. I raised my eyebrow. I was standing in front of the door, blocking my brother's way out. My back was to the door. Assef and I continued to stare each other down. We were both feeling this primordial feeling of frustration. It coursed through my very bones. ''I want to spend time with you because you're my brother,'' I tried to reason with my brother.

He rolled his eyes at me. ''It's times like this that you really make me wish that I wasn't,'' he said sharply. I felt my whole body tense up. His words were harsh. They cut deep into my soul. Deeper than any other words could ever cut a person. I couldn't even move for a few minutes. I just swayed on my feet like a drunkard. This hurt more than when he had struck me.

This was the honest truth. At least then the pain was physical rather than the deep emotional scar he had now left in my spirit. I wonder if Assef knew that his words had cut so deep. He didn't seem to. I couldn't stand to be in the room with him anymore. I was afraid I would do something I would regret. I exhaled deeply. ''Fine.'' Was all I managed to get out. I fumbled with the doorknob like a fucking idiot. Finally, I managed to get it open. For a brief moment I wondered if Assef was going to come after me. He just stood there, hands on his hips. He didn't even try to apologise for the harsh words he spoke to me just moments ago. I could feel my eyes filling with tears.

Tears that blurred my vision and obscured my path. I opened the door and bolted from the room. I didn't even bother to look back. I just had to get the hell out of there as fast as possible. I bolted for the staircase. I pushed Hamilra out of my way, and didn't even bother to apologise. Not that I would have in any case. I started racing up the stairs as fast as my feet would carry me.

My heart was in my mouth. Tears spilled down my face. I felt absolutely sick to my stomach. No words could adequately describe this pain. Not even the finest ink or parchment could convey my emotions. The pain was intense. I stumbled across the hallway, almost falling over my own feet. I didn't even think I would make it to my room. I just wanted to collapse in a heap in the hallway but I knew it would be better to have my privacy.

Nobody else needed to see the meltdown I was about to have right now. I truly thought I was going to get sick. I had to stop my self from dry-heaving a couple of times. I made it to my room and collapsed against the door. I curled up in the fetal position. My whole body shook as I sobbed. I slammed my fists into the ground. Never before had I experienced such emotional pain.

It hurt worse than anything Aarash could have ever done to me. And that is the honest truth. Assef didn't love me any more. It was all too obvious that he was ashamed of me because of what had happened. I cried like a little baby on the floor. I could hardly see now. My eyes were filled with fresh tears. I honestly just couldn't believe the harsh words that just spewed from my brother's mouth.

Was there any truth in them? Any reason for me to doubt his love? I could hear him pacing back and forth downstairs. No doubt trying to come up with excuses to avoid me even further. If this had been anyone else, I simply would have murdered them and gotten on with life. But this was Assef. The only person that I could ever truly love. Even in his rejection I could never allow myself to seek vengeance or harm on him. To be disowned by the one person I cared for was heartbreaking. It made me feel worthless inside. I placed a hand upon my chest and tried to control my breathing.

I thought I was going to have fucking panic attack or something. Downstairs, Assef still paced loudly in the living room. My sobs would not die down no matter how hard I tried. I was in serious danger of hyperventilating or throwing up. The entire room was spinning before my eyes. I pinched the bridge of my nose and buried my face in my knees. I just sobbed there for what seemed like hours on end. I had to release this pain somehow. I thought of the perfect outlet. Ever since I was a child I had kept a switchblade under my bed. Just in case I would ever need it.

No, I didn't intend on using this on my big brother. I intended on harming myself. I had never self-harmed before but I had never felt pain so strong either. I crawled to the bed and felt around under it. My tiny, nimble fingers held the blade. Yes! I pulled it out and just stared at it for a few moments. It would be a lie to say that I wasn't afraid. Apprehensive at best. I was feeling truly messed up at this moment in time. Truly broken on the inside. I just wanted my outside to reflect my inside. Torn and bleeding. I began to sob afresh. I pressed the blade to my skin on my left arm. I hesitated.

'Just do it, Saria. Just one cut,' I thought to myself. My little fingers shook. I could hear foosteps. I had to do this! I had to go to these extremes to find inner peace.

I pressed the blade to my forearm. Tears saturated my face. My breathing was short and laboured. I was in total apprehension. Part of me was truly scared to go through with this. The complex range emotions were swirling through me like a tornado. Fear, pain, shame, sadness. I had to let them out somehow. Any way. I heard footsteps on the landing and tended up.

'It's probably just Hamilra cleaning again,' I tried to reassure myself. The footsteps got louder as they approached my room. I heard my brother's voice outside the door. ''Saria? Saria, can you open the door for me? I need to talk to you.'' I refused his request. Now I was beginning to regret not locking the door behind me. I held the blade cautiously. Assef knocked again.

''Saria, I need you to open this door for me, okay? Can you do that?'' I didn't answer. ''Saria? Saria?'' Assef called again. I hoped against hope that he wouldn't realise the door was unlocked but my hope was in vain. Assef gently pushed the door of my room open with his shoulder and stepped inside. Now I was totally cornered, like an animal that was about to be tranquillised and sent back to the zoo.

What could I do? I had nowhere to run to. I was caught. Assef's eyes widened in total shock as he stared at the blade in my tiny hand. He covered his mouth with his hand. ''Oh my God.. Oh my God..'' he breathed. He didn't seem to even want to take a step towards me. ''Saria..'' he said.

I backed away from him, clutching the razor tightly, still pressed up against my wrist. I tried to stand up but couldn't seem to hold myself up on my own power. With tears streaming like a faucet down my face, I toppled over and fell flat on my ass. Why the fuck was everything going so wrong in my life? Assef seemed frozen in place like a statue. His clenched fists trembled by his sides as he looked at me with a horrified expression on his face.

'Come on, you stupid bitch, come on, just make one cut,' I told myself, completely ignoring my brother as I pressed the blade onto my skin again. I was having a complete mental breakdown, the likes of which I had never had before in my short, twelve years of my life. 'Stupid, stupid, STUPID GIRL!' I scolded myself.

"Saria?" Assef took a tentative step towards me, reaching his hand out. "Saria, can you please put the razor down? Come on, put the blade down before you hurt yourself." He bent down so that we were on a level and reached out to grip my hand. "Put it down!" he reiterated.

"No, no, Assef! NO!" I screamed, writhing and twisting under my brother's vice-like grip. My lips flecked like a wild animal caught in a trap. I cocked the blade high over my head. I bared my teeth and hissed. Assef continued to struggle with me. My wrist began to ache as his fingers dug into it. I continued to hold the blade like it was a fucking lifeline. "Let go of me, Assef!" I screamed through floods of tears. "You're hurting me! JUST LET GO!"

Of course, my brother was a lot stronger than I. He reached over and squeezed my fingers tightly. "Saria, please! Don't hurt yourself like this. Give me the razor and let's talk," he begged of me. His voice was filled with pain and guilt. Exactly how I felt in this moment. I hated myself for letting him see me this way. He had more important things to worry about than his pathetic, worthless excuse for a sister. My whole body shook as I cried out in shame and humiliation.

"Please, leave me alone, Assef! LEAVE ME ALONE!" I tried to push him away, but, as I wrote before, he was a hell of a lot stronger than I was and managed to hold fast. He squeezed my fingers tightly, causing them to open and the blade to fall out of my hands and land on the floor at my feet. I tried to reach for it again, but Assef was quicker and wrapped both arms around my waist, lifting me off the ground.

He began to drag me backwards towards the bed as I continued to struggle like no tomorrow. "Get off me, God fucking damn it! LET GO! LET ME THE HELL GO!" I truly hated myself for being so cruel to my brother. The only person in the world who could ever have a fucking hope of truly understanding the troubled and broken soul that was Saria Ahmed. I didn't want to be a total bitch to him, but to me, right now, there was no other option.

I felt so broken, so angry, so full of self-loathing. Who did Assef think he was to keep me from expressing my emotions? To want to stop me from feeling? He had no right to do so, after all. I writhed in my brother's strong grasp. "Saria, dear God, stop this! Fucking hell, what the heck is wrong with you?" he asked.

I managed to break away from him and collapsed face-down onto the bed. I gripped the pillow tightly to my chest as I buried my face in the soft, downy fabric. I was completely ignoring Assef, who stood over me, his hand resting on my back. I turned away from him, not wanting to talk or have anything to do with anyone, not even my brother. "Oh God, Saria," Assef muttered brokenly.

He sat down next to me. ''Why, Saria? My God, self harm, what.. Why?'' he stuttered. He was at a loss for words. ''I mean, what?'' Assef sighed. ''Is it because of what Aarash did? Is that it? Sister, please listen to me. I know you're hurting because of what he did. I know you're upset. You can't let him win, Saria. You can't,'' he told me. He shook his head in total shock. ''Self harm.. My little sister,'' he muttered to himself.

I tossed the pillow as side in complete frustration. I honestly didn't know what to say. He just didn't get it! I had to make him understand! ''Assef, you don't get it do you?'' I asked in complete vexation. I struggled to speak. ''I'm not upset because of Aarash. That's not why I tried to cut myself!'' I exclaimed.

''Then.. why?'' my brother asked me.

''You!'' I replied. ''Because of YOU!'' I raised my voice, slamming my open palms against the bed.

Assef gaped at me. ''Me, Saria? Why?'' he asked.

''Because of how you've been acting around me the last few weeks. Ever since we got back from hospital you've been avoiding me like the plague. Is it because you're ashamed of me or something?'' I had to control my emotions. ''Is that it? Because I couldn't fight Aarash off? Do you see me as a coward, my brother?'' I asked.

My voice cracked with sobs. ''No.. I..'' Assef stuttered. He shook his head. ''I'm doing this for you, Saria! To protect you. One day when you're older you'll understand..'' he tried to reason with me.

Assef stood up and began to pace back and forth. I was having none of it. ''Assef, give it a fucking rest!'' I growled in fury. He whirled around to face me. He tugged at his hair.

''If I hadn't been there.. If Aarash hadn't wanted revenge on me.. Then he wouldn't have gone after you and none of this would have happened!''

I shook my head. ''No, Assef. He would have done it anyway. That's just how he is. He had a vendetta against you and I. That is obvious.''

Assef continued to pace. ''Saria, I'm avoiding you to protect you. You don't think it hurts me just as much? I want to make sure that nobody hurts my little sister again. Do you understand this?'' he asked.

I shook my head. ''No, I don't, Assef. How many more times must I tell you that this is not your fault? Aarash did this. It's not your fault at all.'' I buried my face in my palms. I tugged at my hair. Assef just didn't understand how fucking stupid this whole thing was. ''You haven't called me kiddo in weeks! What happened, brother? That's your special nickname for me. I miss it.''

Assef just didn't want to listen. ''I have to do this in order to protect you,'' he tried to explain to me.

I shook my head again, my hair whipping from side to side and hitting me in the face. ''No, Assef! You're hurting me more than you're protecting me!'' I exclaimed to him. ''I want you back. I just want my big brother back!'' I cried desperately.

Assef couldn't even find the words. Neither could I for that matter. He shook his head in disbelief. ''I have to protect my sister..'' he murmured, more to himself than to me. Both of us couldn't see from the others perspective. I guess we were both that fucking stubborn. Assef sat back on the bed.

He struggled to speak. ''I want you to love me the way you did before. I don't want Aarash to come between us any more. I miss you, big brother.'' Assef's eyes flitted to the scar on my nose.

I knew what he was thinking. It irritated me to no end! ''Knowing you don't want to be around me affects me much, much more than anything Aarash could ever do. You wouldn't even comfort me last night after my nightmare. Did you? You saw how scared I was!'' I cried. ''How much I needed you. And you turned me away.''

Were these words striking any chords with my big brother? A downpour had started outside, reflecting the emotions I felt. Fuck this irony! I curled up in a ball and placed my head on my knees. I just sobbed uncontrollably. Assef couldn't do or say anything to comfort me. I was so hurt. ''I miss you. I miss you!'' I sobbed like a baby. I was too stunned to even speak any more. Assef pinched the bridge of his nose. He breathed heavily. Would we ever reconcile? I wanted to know. I just cried on the bed. I couldn't stop the tears. 'I can't lose control! NO!' I thought to myself in total and utter desperation.

Now more than ever I think I needed that blade. If only I could take it from my brother's pocket. My dress was wet from the tears that had fallen from my blue eyes. I just couldn't stop. Assef looked at me. His eyes never left my shaking and sobbing form for a second. I was so ashamed of myself for having broken down in this way. I wanted to be strong for my brother and not show any emotion.

Still, I knew that it couldn't be helped! I was so hurt and humiliated. I felt sick with the emotional pain. I wanted my brother back. They say the worst way to miss someone is to have them right there in the room with you but know they're as far away emotionally as they would be if they were in another country. This rang true for me today. I was hesitant to even hug my brother! Assef placed his hands on my knees. He hesitated. Was he ashamed to touch me or something? I pushed away from him. I hated the hurt look in his eyes. My brother, my everything, my best friend. The only person I loved in this world. Assef exhaled sharply.

''Saria,'' he managed to speak up. ''Please sit up and look at me.'' I hesitantly lifted myself up off the bed and looked at my brother. We stared into each other's tear filled eyes. I felt such shame for my reactions. Assef reached out and cupped my face with his palm. He wiped the ever flowing tears from my eyes. The pain was great. Assef finally hit the nail on the head.

His next words proved it. ''I really hurt you, didn't I?'' he asked in a hushed whisper. He sounded so full of self-hatred. I nodded. ''Come here, kiddo.'' All it took was that one word. That one special word to make me break down in fresh sobs. I extended my arms to my brother, too stunned to even move or speak. Assef pulled me into his arms and lifted my shaking form onto his lap. He buried his face in my hair. ''Saria...'' he said. The severity of the situation finally hitting home for both of us. ''It's okay, kiddo, it's okay. Shh now, I'm here. Please don't cry anymore.''

He held me like one would a toddler. ''I'm sorry, Saria. You were right, I shouldn't have acted the way I did. You should have had me there. I should have been there for you, especially now. I'm sorry." He kissed me on the forehead.

I just sobbed against his chest. ''I can't believe it.. I made my baby sister want to self harm.. I don't...'' he said to himself, ignorant of my presence. ''Oh God..'' He couldn't believe it. He inhaled and exhaled sharply. ''My sister..'' he breathed again. Both of us held each other. It was as if no one else in the world existed any more. Nobody but my brother and I.

Assef ran his fingers through my hair in an attempt to calm me down. His touch was welcoming after such a long time. I melted into his arms. ''It's okay, Saria,'' he reassured me. I pulled back from him and cocked my head to the side.

''Does this mean you don't wish you weren't my brother?'' I asked. I wasn't trying to be a smart ass. I honestly had to know. Assef seemed to register the effect those words had on me. He saw the hurt in my blue eyes.

''Of course not,'' he breathed. His voice dripping with self-loathing. He pulled me into his arms once more. ''You're my little sister. I love you, and I always will,'' he said. Assef cradled me, rocking me back and forth in his arms. He rubbed circles into my back. ''Your big brother's an idiot, Saria. I'm so, SO sorry, kiddo. Think you'll be able to forgive me?'' he asked pleadingly.

I gulped. ''Always, and you're not an idiot, Assef. I love you.'' Assef pulled back from me. I knew we were about to have a serious talk.

''Kiddo, I don't ever want to see you do anything like this again. You have a problem than you tell me. I don't care how small you may think it is. Or what it is. You talk to me about it. About anything,'' he said with strong conviction. He gripped my hands in his. ''I never want to see my baby sister even think about hurting herself again. Never again.''

''Okay,'' was my response to this. I was glad I had someone on whom I could always count. Someone who would always love and be there for me.

''Kiddo, I promise you the people responsible for this are going to pay. Every last one of them,'' he told me. ''You have my word as your brother.'' My sobs began to die down. The image of this revenge was satisfying. My eyes grew heavy and listless. All this emotion had worn me out. I sat there on my brother's lap, content with just staying in the moment. And they say that sociopaths can't love.

In the next chapter, Assef plans to make Wali and Kamal pay for betraying him. He allows Saria to participate in on the revenge but will it be the perfect surprise he wishes it to be for her...

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