Bean An Gchroíthe
--Disclaimer: All obviously recognizable characters and quotes belong to Troy Duffy--
--Preface: A Note From Aoife--
Warning: This is mostly just me rambling about writing the story. It is not necessary to read, and I will not be broken hearted if you choose to skip directly to the first chapter. This is simply to preemptively answer any questions readers might have about inspiration or certain references. Also, it may not answer all questions; if you have any, please feel free to ask.
I think, like most other devout fans, I have seen this movie a hundred times or more, both without and with the commentary by Troy Duffy. In listening to him speak about what he went through to create this work of art, I can't help but respect the man, as I'm sure most of you do also. What's more is that he impresses me as the kind of man who, despite what he might say himself, is very down to earth, very humble: the kind of guy I'd want to randomly sit down next to at a bar and have a drink with because he's fascinating, but doesn't want anything from you and expects you to be nothing but yourself. And for that reason, I graciously thank him for creating such amazing and memorable characters, with whom I've had the pleasure of working these past few months to put this story together. It was, in fact, something that Troy said in the commentary of the movie that sparked the idea for this. During the scene in the Yakavetta mansion, he mentions that he had Conner remain upright in his chair and Murphy down on the floor with Rocco to show the difference between the brothers. That thought stuck with me. Throughout the film, we see these two men who are most definitely twins in many of the little things that they do similarly. But we, as a society, have greatly overestimated how alike twins tend to be. Every set of twins I have known in my lifetime have small habits that are the same, but they generally also have completely different personalities. I knew immediately that I wanted to write about this, to further what Troy attempted to do through subtleties in the movie. But the problem came in finding how to convey their differences while still keeping them the twins we all know and love. Plus, as a writer, I have found that what usually comes out of me the best are stories about young women, as that is what I am; like many, I write what I know. For this reason, I had to come up with a story from the perspective of a young woman that readers would be able to accept; thus began my crafting of the character of Líadan MacRory. In order to be affiliated with the Saints, she'd have to be strong and smart, somewhat hardened by life, and yet still show emotion. She didn't necessarily have to be beautiful, but you'd have to be drawn to her in some way. Eventually, she told me the best way to link her to the Saints, but I won't spoil it for all you who might not pick up on it until it's bluntly stated in the story. I will say, however, that she's grown up with the boys. Because of that, she clearly sees the differences between them; she doesn't meld them into one person the way most others who are looking at them from a distance would. And so, we follow the story from her point of view, seeing just how dissimilar the McManus brothers really are as well as different sides of the boys themselves. I hope this does justice to the idea Troy Duffy originally looked for when he created the Saints, and, of course, I hope you all enjoy it.
As a side note, there has been another story posted on this site that has a similar basic idea. I would like to squash any thoughts that this is in any way copying that, and would encourage you to read that story as well. "An Deirfiúr" is a very well written and much different take on the background/future of the boys. Kudos to you, Goddess of Rage, and, in the immortal words of Rocco, "Don't ever stop!"
--Everyone's Irish Tonight--
A/N: Translations of all Irish Gaelic (or otherwise) phrases will appear at the end of each chapter for all you who don't understand, but would like to know what is being said. Pronunciations are given to the best of my knowledge, namely, that is the way I have heard it pronounced. If there is a pronunciation not given that you would like, send me a message; do likewise if you have some real background and have heard it pronounced differently. Though, please keep in mind, there are various dialects of the language I'm including. Also, dialog is written in such a way that conveys the differences in accents. If it becomes too confusing, let me know, and I can write it plainly.
She slipped her boots on her feet and her rosary around her neck, then headed out the window. The metal stairs of the fire escape clattered as she headed down toward the alley. On the last landing, she paused as an older woman called out to her. "Líadan, why don't ya ever use the proper stairs?"
"'Cause they wouldn't be nearly as much fun, Mrs. MacNamara," she smiled back at the woman.
"Come here, Child." Líadan approached the open window, and the woman handed her ceramic dish covered in aluminum foil. "It'll get cold soon, but you have Brannon warm that up fer ya fer supper ta-night."
"Thanks, Mrs. MacNamara." She accepted the dish, kissed the old woman on the cheek, and tucked it into her messenger bag. Mrs. MacNamara pulled Líadan's dark wool P-coat closed and buttoned it.
"It's still cold out, Young Lady; yer gonna get sick."
"And ya be careful ta-night. Ya know how crazy this town gets on St. Patty's." Mrs. MacNamara briefly brushed the hair from the right side of Líadan's face, then pulled it back and smoothed it to hide the girl's cheek. Líadan smiled weakly and nodded. "And make sure ya get to mass ta-day."
"Alright, go on." She kissed the girl's left cheek and sent her on her way. Líadan stepped onto the retractable ladder and felt it lower to the familiar CLINK of the metal on the pavement.
Her pace down the alley was as fast as she could make her legs go without running. It was March, and like Mrs. MacNamara said, it was still cold out; it was South Boston, after all. She pulled the dish the woman had given her out of her bag and uncovered it; three hunks of corned beef cooked with green onions, cabbage, and potatoes smiled up at her. She ate one of the potatoes with her fingers, savoring the old woman's cooking. She slowed her pace and recovered the dish. To her right she saw a man asleep on the street, covering himself as best as he could with his thin, tattered jacket. She knelt down next to him, set the dish by his face, kissed her finger, and lightly touched his cheek. He stirred slightly, but didn't wake. "Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh, Kevin," she whispered, the left corner of her mouth turning upward. Then she resumed her beeline down the alley. She came to a busy street, cars and people whizzing by her. A few more steps, and she pushed open the door of a pub, "The Faerie Queen" intricately decorating the front in bright blue, green, and gold; she knew it had been hand-painted only because she'd done it herself.
Cary just about attacked her as she walked through the doorway. "There's m' girl!" She nearly disappeared in his embrace.
"Oh, if only ya were twenty years younger, Cary." After finally escaping the man, Líadan made her way up to the bar, shed her jacket and bag onto a stool, and hopped onto the counter. She tucked one leg up underneath the other, turning her body so that she could see both men in the room at once. Brannon set down the glasses he was carrying from the kitchen and kissed her left cheek. "Is he helpin' ya tend ta-night?" she asked, laughing as the 45 year old man sang along with the radio into the handle of the broom he was holding.
"Nah, Dylan is; I just can't get rid of 'im," Brannon laughed back. Líadan's gaze fell on the gray haired man at the other end of the room. She understood why he didn't want to leave; things had been hard on him since Molly--his wife of 22 years--had passed away the previous fall.
"Truck's here," Líadan said absently. The delivery truck pulled up into the alley, and the driver came in through the back door. Brannon still wondered how she did that.
"Cary," he called to the old man. "Ya wanna give me a hand with this?" Cary put down his broom and followed Brannon out the back. Líadan picked up a bag of pretzels and a wet towel from behind the bar and began wiping the large oaken tables and filling the empty snack bowls. She heard the door open, but she didn't look up from her task. If the person entering was staff, he would simply join the other men behind the bar; if he was a customer, he would either realize that they weren't open yet, or he would be a regular, and therefore, welcome to hang out for a while. But something about this one made her stop; it almost felt familiar.
A memory flashed in his mind as he stared at her; a brunette looked up at him and smiled before running into his open arms. This girl was not the brunette, but she was the one he had come to see. He didn't have to see her face to know it was Líadan. She'd noticeably heard him walk in, but was blatantly ignoring him. She stopped for a second, as though sensing he was there. The blond sheet of her hair--though only to her shoulders--covered her face, but the word "Spes" tattooed on her left hand told him she was who he thought she was. He stood just inside the door, deciding what to do, and finally, closed the gap between them. Across the table, her jaw clenched; she knew who it was now. "Come on, Líadan," he begged. "Ya can't be mad at me ferever." His thick Irish accent matched her own.
His eyes fell to the Claddagh on her right forefinger pointing toward him--the ring he and his brother had given her on her thirteenth birthday--and tried to make small talk, anything to get her to pay attention to him. "I find it hard ta believe yer still on the market."
"Yeah, well, most guys are turned off by this." She pushed the blond hair out of her face, finally looking him in the eyes. A slightly jagged scar carved its way down her right cheek from the corner of her eye to her jaw line. Her midnight-colored eyes seared him with blue flames.
"Líadan," he started sympathetically, but she interrupted him.
"I don't want to hear it, Conner. Nothin' ya say's gonna make this go away 'r bring 'er back."
"We miss 'er too, y'know!"
"Sure ya do," she spat back coldly.
"Aye, we do."
"Well, ya got a funny way 'a showin' it, not botherin' ta come ta the funeral! Ya didn't even call me back!"
Brannon came back out of the kitchen to see what the commotion was. "Are ya alright, Lee?" He stopped just behind her, glaring at Conner.
"Fine, Brannon; he was just leavin'." She didn't take her eyes off Conner, her flaming irises quickly turning to ice.
"Why don't ya come down ta McGinty's ta-night 'n have a drink with us," he offered. "It is St. Patty's."
"I have ta work ta-night." Her volume had decreased, but the tone was still there. He nodded, his face showing his disappointment.
"Love ya, A Stór," he added just before turning around and leaving. Brannon laid a hand on her shoulder as the two watched the door close behind him.
Just outside, Murphy took one last drag from his cigarette and dropped the smoldering butt onto the pavement. Smoke escaped his mouth as he stamped out the butt, and Conner joined him on the street. He looked at his twin expectantly. "She's still mad," Conner reported.
"D'ya blame 'er?" Murphy asked.
"No," Conner admitted. "Ya know, you probably shoulda been the one ta go in there."
"I'm not the one she's mad at." Murphy had him there; he could only nod, staring off into the distance, in response.
Without a word, the two stepped off simultaneously and headed down toward the large Catholic church they'd come to frequent.
Inside, Brannon kissed Líadan's left cheek again. "Go on; mass'll be startin' soon; ya'll not want ta miss it."
"What about you?"
"I'll finish things up here; we got plenty 'a time fer ya ta go. And I don't wanna be gettin' an earful from yer Ma when she hears ya missed church." She smiled up at her boss and grabbed her coat, leaving her bag.
The organ played as she entered the church. It was a big turnout today, but then, she had expected it would be. She touched her fingers to the cold water, then crossed herself before stepping over the threshold. Up ahead, she could see the twins kneeling with their rosaries in their hands. Normally, she came to a different mass to avoid them, but today was a holiday. Not wanting to interact with them, she chose a pew a few rows back, crossed herself again, and sat on the outside edge. She reached out and lowered the prayer bench, pulling out her own rosary and kneeling on the padded beam. Lord, I thank You for m' life, for Ma, who gave it t' me, and for Kevin, who gave it back t' me. Thank You for the time I had with Bridget, who is no doubt Your most beautiful angel. Save m' family, both blood and those You've put in m' way. Teach me to be patient, and help me to be strong. A shepherd I shall be, for Thee my Lord, for Thee. Power hath descended forth from Thy hand, that m' feet may swiftly carry out Thy command. And I shall flow a river forth unto Thee, and teeming with souls shall it ever be. In nomine Patri, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Her eyes opened, and she sat back on the wooden bench. A priest dressed in bright colors moved to the podium set up at the altar, and the congregation stood. "Our Father," he began, "who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, now and forever; Amen." The church resounded the, "It is true," and took their seats. The Monsignor took the podium, dismissing the younger priest.
"Thank you, Father Macklepenny, for coming all the way across town to be our guest speaker. I hope you found our little parish to your liking." Líadan watched as the twins stood and started up the center aisle. No one in the congregation acted like it was out of the ordinary. Though Líadan had never actually seen them do this here, she wasn't surprised by it; she had grown up with them. She couldn't help but smile a little when she saw the reaction of Father Macklepenny. He obviously didn't understand the boys' need to make a grand exit. "And I am reminded on this holy day of the sad story of Kitty Geneviese. As you all may remember, a long time ago, almost thirty years ago, this poor soul cried out for help time and time again, but no person answered her calls." The boys kissed the feet of the large crucifix looming behind the Monsignor, and headed back down the aisle. "Though many saw, no one so much as called the police. They all just watched as Kitty was being stabbed to death in broad daylight. They watched as her assailant walked away." She wouldn't let her eyes lift, but she could feel the twins approaching her. Indiscernibly, Murphy raised a hand and brushed her cheek as he passed. So, at least he had known she was here. Her eyes closed, and her jaw clenched; she wouldn't let herself cry. Lord, protect them ta-night. "Now, we must all fear evil men, but there is another kind of evil which we must fear most. And that is, the indifference of good men."
"Aye," she breathed, clutching her rosary.
Líadan = Irish name, pronounced "LEE-den"
"Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh" = Irish, "Happy St. Patrick's Day"
"Spes" = Latin, "Hope"
"A Stór" = Irish, a term of endearment, "My Dear"
"In nomine Patri, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti" = Latin, "In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit" (I shouldn't have to include that one, but I figured I would just to alleviate any possible confusion.)
And for those of you who have lived under a rock all your lives: Aye = "Yes" or other word of agreement commonly used by sailors or those of Celtic descent