"Julia… Julia…"

She hated his voice. That soft croon, filled with that coy knowing that he held constantly over her head.

She drew herself tighter into a ball- tried to make herself vanish in the shadows between the couch and the wall. All to stave off the last few moments of pain that would come, inevitably, when she was found in her clichéd hideaway and dragged her out to be his plaything. His ever-constant experiment. His darling, lovely sister who would hold so still as he dragged the pocket knife down the length of her shin, until she trembled with lack of blood while mother lay in a puddle of her own bile and liquid sin. Another scar, another memoir of her brother's love.

And as she sought the last few moments of peace, grasping at them like Narcissus at his reflection. Wide, hollowed eyes found solace for a moment as they fluttered closed and her breaths evened. Even her hearth that had taken the rhythm of a young rabbit had managed to still as minuets seemed to pass… and even before she opened her eyes, she knew he was watching. His visage all-too close to hers, sweet curls of auburn-brown framing the face her mother had taken such a liking too- the face that looked too much like their father's when he'd been young and far from that wretched death.

And so there he was. Ghostly pale, face wreathed in shadow and marked with a Cheshire Cat grin, a hand reaching to her, waiting to draw her out. And, for a moment, the fear struck her hard and fierce. A stab within the heart, twisting and writhing as survival instinct told her to burrow back, as far as she could, to scream as she had when she was younger, when their activities were a new and novel thing. But for what end would that bring her? Nothing, save to twist the pretty face of her brother in anger, until he was nothing but a spire of hate, which had only the outlet of his quiet, withdrawn sister too broken to scream.

She drew from his spot and in silence they walked hand in hand, a gentle clasp, through the filth of their apartment home. Across the discarded containers for food and sodas, across the body of their mother, whose fist had bloodied itself on the last framed picture of their father. Feet crunching across the glass, they walked on, to the end of the dark corridor, into his room, where his tools lay out upon a dirtied towel. A cleaver, his mother's steak knife, twine, gauze, popsicle sticks, needle and thread, tweezers, a bottle of alcohol…

She knew the game they'd play today, before the silken words had even left his lips as she seated herself upon his bed.

"Julia, we're playing doctor today."

Smooth, quiet. A voice that might have charmed ladies to their death, given enough time, and he chuckled to see her breath come in a shudder. One he made all the worse as he delicately kissed her each finger tip as his own explored her small, delicate hand. Their own uncallused tips exploring the contours and light creases of it, pushing lightly at the blue veins that lay exposed on her flesh so white it was transparent. And then, as gentle as his kisses, he pressed back on each tip, until a quiet pop of splintering bone could be heard. Each finger upon her right hand, broken, and she uttered not a word as the tears streamed down, across the plump mounds of her cheek as her mouth twisted into a picture of agony as she screamed her silent wail.

He shushed her quietly, still, and kissed her palm. His mouth ever apart, so that his devil's tongue could feed her sweet nothings, gentle, all to soothe her. The first punishment was always harsh… but never the worse. Merely a way of breaking her in. A kindness of sorts. And as he watched her, eyes lightly narrowed as if bored, she seemed to calm, her breath coming less sharp, and his ever present grin widened. He plucked from the towel the scalpel, then, and held it out to her, allowing it to catch the light that drifted in from the corridor.

"Don't be frightened, Julia, there's no reason to be."

He said, though they both knew he showed her the tool to do just that, and he merely grinned as she shut her eyes against him, despite all his training. And he seem to take pleasure in whispering to her, just beneath his calm, even breaths;

"Do I need to sew them open? You need to watch, Julia. It'll make you strong."

And she took heed of his admonishment, knowing he would stand by his word. Had done so, in fact, once before. Had only cut the thread free would her eyes had become so enflamed from the dryness that she could no longer see and plead with her bleeding mouth to let her shut them. Didn't she bear the scars from that, too, to prove it? Those little pock marks, pretty in their alabaster-tan hue, like some gaudy decoration…

So she saw it then, as he lay the tip of the ever sharp blade (for he was kind, at least, in that matter) upon the start of her broken, crooked digit, at the very tip of the violet-blue tendril, before he caught her gaze. A horrible, miserable, bewitching stare, so much like a serpents. But surely no snake's gaze was as horrible as his was to hers, for in his there was nothing but malice and love for her pain as he set the blade deep, freezing her breath before it could pass her lips, and trailed it down suddenly, openly, cutting deep into her. Forgetting now, obviously, the intricate path woven by her veins. Ah! All these months of practiced composure lost! And to what? The gaze of his broken sister, who still held pleading in her dull brown eyes, all mud and muck amplified by those lavish tears which simply begged for his mercy. Like he had any to give to her.

And he was cutting now, not gently, as he had fore planed, but quickly and rapidly and madly until she could take no more of it. She whipped her hand away from him, span upon his bed, tried to crawl away. An effort doomed to failure before it began for he was rising, still slashing, a hand pulling at her leg ankle before he dragged her back to him. And that small, thin scalpel plunged into the thin cloth of her night gown, cutting away the alabaster cloth until it ran red with blood as her back was slashed.

There was screaming, perhaps. Though neither was really sure of it. In the frenzy it seemed the world had gone mute and white, and there was nothing but the silver of his blade, she, he, and the red-stained dress that yielded to him her flesh of her tattered back. And she fell to the floor, writhing, her rose hued lips mouthing, screaming her mother's name and he was on her, hovering upon his knees and a hand. The other raised with the scalpel raised high above his head as he watched her lips move.

She screamed into his face, those soundless, desperate words, into those eyes that were strangely hollow, into that malicious grin she'd grown to know so well, even as he plunged the dagger down, shattering her brow with a single blow. A penetrating blow that cast splintered bone… though he saw none of it.

The blow was entirely perfect. The scalpel had embedded itself so firmly into her forehead so sweet and soft that not a rivulet of blood, no blossom of gore, came forth. And, for a moment, he could only marvel as he withdrew his shaking hand from the instrument. In death, she was beautiful as she had not been for a long time in life, since their father's passing and their mother's drinking. She was pure and wholesome now, save for the expression her visage had held, screaming and desperate. And, out of brotherly love, he pressed her lips together to cage away the scream forever and dragged her eyelids down past the now glazed, dilated and terror-struck eyes, kissing each kindly. Bidding her good night before he drew her into his arms, lovingly, before tucking her into his bed. And how at peace she looked there!

He had never loved her more.