A/N: This is a prequel to Malleus Malificarum, but each story can stand alone. I dunno if this is a oneshot. I guess that depends on you, my good people. Sorry it took me so long to get this up.
Summary: Ever wonder why Tyler is soft spoken and withdrawn? All roots are found in your environment -- even the ones you try to dig out and hide.
Disclaimer: Evidently I don't own the covenant...go figure.
Reid's father disappeared suddenly when he was fourteen. He always figured his mother assumed something bad had happened but he never pressured her, because secretly he didn't want to know. He kept to himself and let himself spiral down into a pit of blackness that somehow managed to appear comforting. His mother couldn't spiral into her own isolated depression and decided that a joyful vacation was in order. Except that vacation didn't, and never would, include Reid. Fearing that he might do something destructive when left to his own devices, she left him on the doorstep of the Simms.
The first week he didn't talk to Tyler. He stayed in the guest room all week, just laying in bed and staring off into space or sleeping. Tyler would bring him his meals and try to start small talk but Reid would shrug at his comments or offer one word answers. And then Reid met just who had replaced Tyler's father. Tyler's father had left his family for a life of secrecy two years earlier when the war had first started and his mother, heartbroken and betrayed, had promptly remarried a man of wealth and fame. Reid had gone an entire week without seeing this man.
But then he heard a thud and a muffled yelp and knew it had to be Tyler. He left the guest room for the first time in seven days and passed Danny Senate in the hallway as he made his way to Tyler's room. Reid knew nothing of Danny Senate, other than he was loaded. Tyler hadn't ever talked about him, but then again -- he never talked about his father leaving either. Tyler just didn't talk, and Reid should have been grateful that the boy even tried to speak to him.
Tyler's bedroom door was closed, and Reid pushed it open without knocking. Tyler was kneeling on the floor beside his bed, a bloody hand covering his nose and tears in his eyes. He flinched at the intrusive noise, wide eyes flickering up to meet Reid's. Reid knelt beside Tyler and reached out to him. "What the hell happened?" He asked, grimacing at the harshness of his words. He just didn't know how to be gentle.
"Nothing," Tyler muttered into his hand. He shrugged off Reid's hand and rose unsteadily to his feet. "I'm fine." But his voice was gruff and pained. Tyler tried to walk past Reid but Reid's hand shot out and gripped his arm.
Reid gently tugged on Tyler's arm and pulled him closer, Tyler reluctantly obliged. He lifted another hand and gripped Tyler's arm gently before pulling his hand away from his nose. "Shit, Tyler," Reid swore.
"I said I was fine," Tyler told him quietly, trying to pull away from his grasp but Reid wouldn't let go of him.
"Your nose is broken," Reid said. "Did -- it was Danny, wasn't it? He did this to you?"
"No," Tyler said quickly. He reached out quickly for Reid but the older boy was already heading for the door. "Reid, please don't," Tyler called after him. But Reid wasn't listening, so Tyler huried after him. "Reid, it's not a big deal."
"Nobody gets to hurt you, Tyler," Reid snapped, trying to shake Tyler's desperate hands off of him. "Nobody."
"Reid-" But Reid had already pushed open the door to Danny's office and stumbled in. Danny's head jerked up from the paper that litered his desk. Reid strode confidently into the room and stopped before Danny's desk. Tyler remained in the doorway.
"You did that to him?" The blonde demanded, throwing a hand, bloodied with Tyler's blood, toward the door. Tyler seemed to shrink away, but he never took his eyes off of Reid's figure. Reid Garwin had always been known as abrasive, outspoken and impulsive for as long as Tyler could remember. This went back to diapers. Reid Garwin was courageous and senseless at the same time. But recently, immediately following the death of his father, Reid's whole demeanor had quickly disintegrated. He was quiet and withdrawn. And obedient above all else. Tyler was sure that his mother enjoyed this new Reid, choosing to ignore the depression that was quickly devouring her only son. But Tyler frankly missed the old Reid. The Reid that would joke with him; the Reid that went out of his way to piss off Caleb. It just seemed so unnerving that the other sons of Ipswich chose to ignore Reid's drastic change of personality just as his mother had. This moment right now was the most emotion Reid had shown in the past month. And he was showing it for Tyler. Tyler always suspected that Reid cared but Reid hadn't ever been so obvious about it before.
Tyler jumped when he heard Reid's harsh voice, "Don't look at him."
Danny was on his feet suddenly. "How dare you order me around in my own house!"
"This isn't your house," Reid snapped. He didn't flinch, even as Danny round his desk and towered over him. "This is Tyler's house. Better start acknowledging that."
"Reid," Tyler began in a warning voice. But his voice didn't sound like Caleb's. Caleb had always been angry, for as long as Reid could remember. Recently Reid decided to cut Caleb some slack because Caleb's father had fallen quickly into addiction, right before Reid's father was murdered. But Tyler's voice sounded concerned.
Tyler had taken a tentative step forward but Reid held up a hand. "Don't, baby boy," he commanded quietly. "I've got this." And then Danny moved, and Tyler was sure that even he saw Reid's eyes flash. Danny's fist missed Reid's head by less than an inch. He stared at his fist, hovering beside Reid's head, dumbfoundedly. He was sure that Reid hadn't moved, and yet he was also sure that he couldn't have missed the boy's head, not when the boy was so close to him. Danny pulled back his fist and swung again. This time he missed by more than an inch and stumbled at the misplaced momentum. He stumbled into Reid and quickly turned the mistep into a rough shove.
Reid stumbled back and rubbed his shoulder. "That wasn't very nice," he commented quietly.
"Your father clearly failed to discipline his child," Danny sneered.
Tyler peered closely at Reid's face and saw the change of demeanor within the child. Before he had been mocking, laughing, but suddenly his body went rigid and he tensed. His smirk had vanished completely and was replaced by an empty expression that looked pained. "Don't talk about him," He advised. His voice had also changed. It sounded dark and held a dangerous edge.
Danny laughed at him and Tyler appeared beside Reid, tugging on his arm. "C'mon Reid. Let's just go."
"Listen to the pussy," Danny advised Reid. "Walk away before I break your legs."
Reid forced a condescending laugh. "You can't hit my face. I doubt you'd be able to touch my legs."
Danny's face darkened immediately and he ventured forward, quickly closing the space between him and Reid. Tyler seemed to shrink away but he didn't let go of Reid's arm. He still tugged on it, hoping to convey his desperation. The older boy ignored him completely and held his ground. But he never shook him off. Tyler's grip was numbing his arm and the boy's nails dug deep but he chose to ignore it. "Prove me wrong," Reid challenged.
Danny deliberately reached both hands forward and latched onto Reid's shirt. He jerked Reid forward and tried to seem intimidating. But Reid wasn't as easily terrified as Tyler. Danny lifted a fist and Reid's eyes flashed, but Danny didn't strike him across the face, instead he buried a knee savagely in his gut. Taken off guard Reid didn't have time to avoid the hit and gasped out in pain. A hand buried itself in Reid's blond hair and jerked his head back.
"All you need is a stern hand," Danny murmured, savagely twisting his hand in Reid's hair.
"Danny." Tyler's voice was quiet, barely a squeek, but Reid could feel him edging closer, clinging to Reid tightly.
"Shut up," Danny murmured quietly without looking at Tyler. "I never liked his sort," he added, once again addressing Tyler. "I told your mother to say no. I told her I didn't approve of this delinquent staying here." Danny shoved Reid down hard and Reid fell to his knees. Only Tyler saw the dangerous glint in his eyes, as his arm slipped from Tyler's grasp.
Reid cried out as Danny kicked him hard in the ribs and bit his lip as the older man kicked him again. Tyler's voice sounded distant yet the terror in it was loud and clear. He wanted to tell the boy to just 'chillax'. Tyler, of all people, should know what physical pain Reid could endure. Even at fourteen. Reid was just ashamed that he didn't know what physical pain Tyler could endure. How many times had Reid saw Tyler grimace or limp? How many times had he shrugged it off without even confronting his supposed brother? Tyler alway seemed to know when something was wrong with him...wasn't it Tyler who first noticed what Reid's father's sudden absence was doing to the youngest Garwin? Wasn't it Tyler who tried to get Reid to talk? And wasn't it Tyler who had been at the funeral, who had touched his shoulder and hugged him when he knew the boy was closer to tears than he had ever been?
It was Tyler's yelp and sudden movement that drew Reid from his silent scolding. When Reid glanced back up at Tyler he was grasping his nose again, fresh blood making his hands sticky. Reid grimaced and shoved himself to his feet. "Stop touching him," he commanded, glaring up at Danny. "Or I'll make you."
Danny laughed out loud. "Oh, really?" He asked. It was a challenge.
"Yes," Reid answered quickly. "Just stop hitting him and find somebody your own age to beat up on."
"They're never as fun as Tyler," Danny admitted. "They don't cry as much. Or beg. They fight back." Danny reached out a hand to cup Tyler's cheek.
Tyler flinched and Reid knocked away his hand. "That's fucked up," he added. "I'm going to Tyler's room," he warned softly. "I advise you don't follow us." Reid turned away from Danny, and gripped Tyler's hand tightly in his. He led the boy from the room and softly closed the door behind them.
"You shouldn't have done that," Tyler said almost immediately, as Reid, hand still grasping Tyler's hand tightly, led them up the stairs. "He's gonna be pissed in a few hours when he starts drinking."
Reid pulled Tyler into his room and softly closed the door behind him. "So?"
"So?" Tyler repeated. "So you don't have to deal with that," he hissed angrily. "When he gets drunk, I have to deal with it."
"Oh," Reid murmured aloud. "I hadn't thought of that."
"Yeah," Tyler agreed. "You can't fix everything, Reid. You should've just left it alone."
"Oh yeah?" Reid asked, cocking his head to the side. "That sounds like a challenge, Simms."
"I-it isn't," Tyler stuttered. "Please don't do anything stupid."
A soft smile touched Reid's lips at the plea in Tyler's voice. "It's a little late for that," he murmured. "But he's not gonna touch you again, Tyler. Now sit down so I can heal your nose."
"I can heal my own nose," Tyler snapped.
An amused smirk crossed Reid's face but he didn't try to push it away. "You've never been able to heal yourself Tyler. Sit down."
Tyler sighed dramatically. "Fine," he grunted. "But only because I feel like it -- not because you told me to," he added as he sat down heavily on his bed.
"Right," Reid agreed as he knelt in front of Tyler. Reid had always been a quick learner, even if Caleb refused to acknowledge it. Reid embraced his Power, much like Caleb shunned it, and learned what he could do without actually learning spells. He could heal both himself and those around him quicker than any other Covenant member. Gomar had said that the human body was complicated and few grown witches could sucessfully heal themselves. But Reid already knew how.
He lifted a hand and let it hover in front of Tyler's face. He paused, surveying Tyler's actual face. Blood caked it and it looked paler than usual. His eyes were squeezed shut, alreadying mentally preparing himself for the inevitable pain that is the resetting of bones. Reid had healed Tyler more than any other member of the Covenant. But then again, Reid had also coaxed Tyler into doing stupid shit that usually ended in blood and broken bones.
Reid closed his own eyes and visualized Tyler's broken bone in his mind. He learned earlier on that the only way for him to sucessfully heal an injury was to visualize it, an act that came unusually easy for him. He saw the broken bone in his mind and slowly set about fixing it. He could vaguely hear Tyler shifting ucomfortably before him, soft grunts of pain escaping the younger boy. He pulled back and surveyed Tyler again. His face was still caked with blood but his nose wasn't swollen anymore, it looked normal. Reid couldn't keep the smile to himself and he felt Tyler glare down at him.
"I'm sorry, baby boy," he murmured. "I just amaze myself sometimes."
Tyler shook his head and rose to his feet. "I'm gonna take a shower," he announced and Reid shrugged, also rising to his feet. "Try to not do anything stupid in my absence."
"Try being the keyword?" Reid asked, cocking an eyebrow and flashing a grin. Suddenly Reid Garwin was how he had always been. Tyler narrowed his eyes at the thought that it took his own pain to force Reid out of his shell. "You know I'm just playing, baby boy. For you -- I'll behave."