Will Not, Can NotMature

Tobias was curled up in a corner. He was unable to tell which one, but he had deliberately selected the one that was furthest away from Danielle – the bearer of bad news. The Dark man was the headline, but Danielle was the reporter, and she hadn’t made anything any softer or easier to absorb.

Facing the wall, Tobias watched his soft edged shadow bounce on the wall in front of him. It flickered from left to right, and Tobias watched it through the darkness, trying to focus through the tears obscuring his vision.

A small puddle of salty water had formed just below Tobias cheek, and was warm against his skin as the tears slowly dripped and dropped down to be soaked in by the cold wooden floor.

You won’t kill people.

Tobias felt that what the Voices were telling him was more in order to reassure him than to state any kind of fact. They knew that now of all times was when their host needed some emotional support, and as he wasn’t receiving it from his ‘best friend’, the Voices would have to make up for it. Have to do for now.

You won’t kill people.

Tobias ignored Danielle’s presence in the room. Although he couldn’t see her, and didn’t want to look at her, he was sure that she too was not and refused to look at him. Somehow they had changed from friends to enemies, and not because they wanted different things, but because they feared one another. Tobias feared Danielle’s knowledge, and was scared that she would relay any information relevant to Tobias, whether or not it would make him happy or sad. Danielle was scared of Tobias because she wasn’t sure what he was capable of. The Dark man saw something inside him, something that was dark like him. He wanted to use it, and Danielle didn’t want him to able to take advantage of whatever it was. The Dark man was bound to use Tobias due to his naïve nature, and Danielle didn’t want to see that happen. She was scared of Tobias’ future, but also scared for him, and it was a powerfully painful combination.

You won’t kill people.

‘I know I won’t…’ Tobias’ voice cracked as he tried to keep it steady through the spasms in his throat and the tears on his eyes.

You can’t kill people.

‘I can’t…’

Tobias heard something stir behind him. No doubt it was Danielle, looking over her shoulder to him, curious as to what he was saying.

Sure enough, as Tobias plucked from some unknown source the courage to look back on his friend, she was curled up, her legs tucked into her chest, but with her back against the wall, and not lying down as Tobias had been, but sitting and staring at him.

You won’t kill people.

For a moment, Tobias paused, making eye contact with Danielle, which seemed to burn right through her, making her look down to the ground to avoid the silence. Tobias broke it.

‘I won’t kill people, Danielle.’

He waited silently, anxiously awaiting her to say something. Something, anything to make this all go away, to make everything go back to the way it had been. Before the Voices, before the Dark man, and as much as Tobias couldn’t stand the previously warm idea of loneliness, to before he and Danielle had met.

You can’t kill people.

‘I can’t kill people.’ Tobias eagerly repeated what the Voices were telling him, both to reassure himself and to ensure that Danielle could trust him. She didn’t reply, and Tobias felt another soft and warm tear trickle down his cheek. ‘Danielle.’ She looked up to him now, tears in her eyes that mirrored those in Tobias’ own. She was feeling the exact same way. Scared, uncertain, alone. He needed to reassure himself and his best friend. Because that’s what best friends did.

‘Danielle. I could never kill anybody. Not even the Dark man.’

Danielle paused for a short time, and Tobias wondered if she was simply going to look back down at the floor and ignore what Tobias hoped was a soothing moment of reassurance. She did the opposite, much to his relief.

‘I know you couldn’t, Tobias. I know you couldn’t. Not now.’

‘Not ever.’ He was eager to prove that he would remain as innocent as he was now for ever. ‘I could never hurt any person. Not deliberately, and I could certainly never kill anybody.’

Danielle still looked doubtful. Tobias racked his brain for anything more he could say that would make her trust him. Anything at all. But nothing emerged.

Danielle was worried about something in particular. It wasn’t exactly that Tobias would kill or hurt somebody… That wasn’t it. There was something more. He could see it in her eyes, in her tears.

Was she… Was she worried that the Dark man could change him? She had always thought of him as a little weak minded, and rightfully so. Tobias was considerable younger than Danielle, less than half her age, and he had a lot less experience of the Voices and the Dark man than she did. Than any Gifted person did. Danielle was worried that Tobias was still too weak to resist the Dark man’s offers and demands. Danielle knew he was weak, as he did, but she didn’t want to admit it. Tobias, on the other hand, knew it was what was required. It was what they both needed to admit as their key worry. Nothing more could happen to damage their friendship. Tobias needed to say it.

‘I’m not weak enough to give in to him, you know.’

Danielle looked down once more, but this time with shame in her eyes. ‘I know,’ she said.

‘Just because I think he’s right in his ideas, it doesn’t mean I’d go the way he has to fight for them. To support them. To support him.’

Danielle looked up once more, and now looked straight into Tobias’ eyes. Her eyes, which Tobias now noticed for the first time as being a very dark brown, glinted in the candle light, and he hoped that his did the same. His green eyes were always a little bland to him, and he had never liked them. Now he hoped they could prove his honesty. He thought about adopting a facial expression with his eyes that would make him look young and innocent – too young and innocent to become a killer. He decided against it.

‘I’m not going to kill anybody. Not the Gifted, not you, not even the Dark man.’

Danielle smiled, then wiped the tears away from her face with her arm. Sniffing unattractively, Tobias gave a little laugh at her, and thought quickly about what the two of them must have looked like. Both bawling their eyes out with snot dribbling down their noses and tears dripping onto the floor. Maybe if they flooded the room the walls would burst and they could escape.

‘I’m not going to kill.’

You’re not going to kill anybody.

‘I’m not going to kill anybody. Not even the Dark man.’

‘Don’t worry,’ Danielle said as the last of her tears were wiped away. ‘I might just save that job for myself.’

The End

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