So this is it! The last chapter (and kinda part of the first chapter of Salvation)! It's taken me 4 months to finish this! So yeah, few things went wrong,
not many people've read it, and it obviously ISN'T perfect, I know that, but still. It's my first fic that I based entirely on my own ideas, and I'm still trying to
get better at the whole writing thing anyway. And I think that this fic has helped me with that! So yeah, this is the prequel to Salvation, which means that
I've finished two stories of my Walking Saints trilogy! Wohooo! Now I can get back to the sequel.
So all in all:
Thank you so much for reading!
Thank you so much for reading til the end if you read all the chapters!
Thank you so much for looking past all the flaws, bad grammar, the fact that the fic isn't so structured.
Thank you so much for reviewing and taking the time to write your thoughts down!
So yeah, thank you all!
Chapter 23 - Salvation
7 years ago...
Ireland was really fucking quiet. He knew that they were supposed to be used to it, they had grown up here after all. But still. After living in Boston for six years Ireland felt really fucking quiet all of a sudden. Quiet and boring. They had been looking after their sheep for two days now, riding up and down hills and endless roads. Connor growled and grabbed a cigarette, now that Murphy was always blowing smoke in his direction anyway. They watched the animals that were grazing all the way down the hill they were sitting on. The older MacManus turned his head and looked at his brother, trying to find the same sort of look on his face that told him that he was just as bored, but much to his surprise Murphy didn't look like this at all. His younger half was watching the sheep with a smoke in his mouth, and there was a smile on his face. Connor snorted and nudged his brother.
"Well look at ye, sun's shining outta yer ass over here."
Murphy chuckled and nudged him back.
"Fuck you" he answered and Connor chuckled as well. The younger MacManus grabbed his cigarette and pointed at something in front of them.
"Fuckin beautiful, isn't it?"
The blonde twin frowned and tried to make out what his brother was pointing at.
"What? That sheep that's takin a dump over there? Yeah, real fuckin beautiful Murph"
Murphy grinned and put the smoke back in his mouth, then he hit the back of Connor's head.
"I ain't talking 'bout te sheep yah idiot. 'm talking about all this here. Ireland's fuckin beautiful. No skyscrapers, no hookers, no dirt"
"No pubs, no sound, no entertainment.." Connor went on and his twin hit him again. The older MacManus smirked.
"How come yer talking like that all of a sudden? When we left ye weren't t'fond of it at all"
Murphy nodded and leaned back.
"Aye, and I fuckin miss Boston and our old life, but still. This is beautiful."
The older MacManus turned his head and let his gaze wander. Nothing but hills and fields and trees were all around them, everything was so green and cold and wet and...beautiful.
"Aye. It is."
Murphy blew out some smoke and watched the sheep for a while.
"If we ever get back t'it...ye know..killing and all that...if we ever die, I want 'em to bury us right fuckin here. Side by side. Not in some shithole in Boston.
No. Right fuckin here on this hill."
Connor looked at his brother. He never dared to think about that. Because they weren't ever going to die. This was fucking ridiculous. There was no way.
But still. He turned his head and let his gaze wander once more. Murphy was right. This was a beautiful spot with a nice view, and this would be a great place to be buried. If they were ever to be buried. Which would take another 50...no, 60 years. He snorted and tried not to think about it.
"Jaysus, yer so fucking poetic brother. What are ye gonna do next? Recite Romeo and Juliet t'me? Yer such a pansy. This air ain't doing yer head t'good."
Murphy growled and kicked him angrily, which made his brother grin. They wouldn't say anything for a while and fell quiet, but Connor wouldn't let go just yet.
"All right. If we ever die then yer obviously gonna go down first, now that I was born first, which means I am the stronger, older, better-looking brother.
So of course I gotta go down last. So yeah, if we ever gonna die 'm gonna make sure 'm gonna bury yer sorry ass on yer pretty hill right here.
With pretty pansies fer you pansy."
The younger MacManus rolled his eyes and got even more angry.
Connor laughed even more and watched his brother brood. He was a bit disappointed when they wouldn't get into a fight, and after a couple of minutes of thinking about it he came to the conclusion that his twin had been serious about the whole thing, so he felt a bit stupid all of the sudden. He sighed and scratched his nose.
"Nah, we're not gonna go down. Even if we ever go back t'it. We're gonna grow old t'gether and shit. And then they can bury our wrinkly asses right here."
Murphy suddenly chuckled and Connor looked at him.
"Well, since you think yer the older one 's gotta mean that you will bite te dust first then. So I can enjoy seeing yer wrinkly ass in that grave fer a bit longer."
The older MacManus laughed and tried to hit his younger half's shoulder.
"Fuck you!" he shouted but couldn't stop laughing.
The banging downstairs had stopped. Connor opened his eyes slowly and tiredly. He could see through the window from where he was lying. Dark grey clouds were greeting him outside. He didn't know how many days had passed. His throat was bone-dry and his stomach was rumbling, which told him that a couple of days must have passed since they had ended up here. Connor knew that he needed a shower, but everything around him was stinking anyway. The stench of moldy furniture, wet walls and rotting flesh was surrounding him, but he didn't even care anymore.
"'m hungry Murph" the Irishman murmured tiredly and looked up.
The body of his twin was still lying next to him, not a single thing had changed. His brother was still dead, despite all his prayers and desperate calls for help. The small sane part of him that was left knew that it was pointless, that he wouldn't get Murphy back, no matter what he did. He knew that he needed to get away, simply because he needed food and water. The fact that the days didn't do his brother's corpse any good either made it even more necessary, but the insane part of Connor, and that was getting bigger every day, just couldn't get up anymore. He didn't want to leave his brother's side, didn't want to turn his back on Murphy. He knew that this time it would be the last time, because there was no coming back after that. Soon his brother would be gone, taken away by mother nature. But how could he leave him? All alone in this room? They had never ever been apart. They had been together all their life. He could almost see the chain that kept them together, and he didn't want to break that precious bond.
The older MacManus twin had tried to delay it. Day by day. Just another day. Just one more day then I'm gonna leave. Just another 24 hours. But now his and Murphy's body were telling him that it was time, because if he didn't get up today then he would die as well. Of starvation, of dehydration, of a broken heart. Connor closed his eyes again and wrapped an arm around Murphy's dead body, and part of him welcomed the idea. They had been born together, so of course they should die together. Not only he was waiting for something to happen, his twin was also waiting for him. On the other side. Connor moved closer, ignoring the smell and everything else that accompanied the decomposition. He tried to shut everything out, Boston, all the dead that were walking around, the sounds, the smell, his feelings, everything. When there was nothing left but his thoughts he remembered.
The blonde twin opened his eyes again and looked at his brother.
"I can't fucking do this, Murph" he croaked and raised his head a bit more.
You've got to.
Connor sat up and continued to stare at his brother. Dizziness rushed over him because of the exhaustion and the hunger, and he needed a few minutes to focus. Which made it even worse. He knew he needed to make a decision now, because if he waited any longer he wouldn't be able to run and fight outside. He took Murphy's cold and stiff hand and squeezed it, because he just needed the touch, needed the near. They had always been very close in that regard, they had always needed the physical reassurance.
"I know, I promised ye" he whispered and adjusted his twin's clothes again.
He buried his face in his hands for a second and sobbed again, simply because even just thinking about leaving his brother felt like someone was ripping his heart out with a tea spoon. He wiped his face and looked at his twin.
"I promise 'm gonna come back. When all this is sorted out then 'm gonna come back. 'm gonna take ye back t'Ireland, back t'Ma,
and we're gonna give ye a proper grave on our hill."
"With a cross and flowers and all that shit. 'm gonna dig it and build it m'self, I promise."
He searched his pockets for his last couple of pennies and placed them on Murphy's eyes. Connor smoothed his brother's hair and then closed his eyes to murmur another prayer for him. He took his time, but he refused to take it as a goodbye. Murphy would always be with him, there was no need for any final words. He had promised that he would stay alive for him, that he would come back to him when all this was over. The older MacManus got up after a while, and was surprised how weak he really was. All his weeping and not eating had exhausted him completely, so he needed a few minutes to adjust to the new position he was in. He put his hands on his hips and started walking in circles, looking at his brother every couple of seconds.
"All right" he murmured and nodded.
"All right. All right. All right" he repeated over and over again. He froze and stared at the bullet wound on his twin's forehead and swallowed hard. Connor could still hear the shot ringing in his ears, over and over again. Ever since then his hands were shaking, and he feared another hallucination or nightmare of Murphy suddenly snapping his eyes open, glaring at him and getting up again. Why, Connor? Why did you shoot me in the head? What have I ever done to you? I trusted you. The Irishman gulped and turned his head so he didn't have to see the wound anymore. He looked out of the window instead and leaned his head against the cool window pane. He could see some walkers staggering down the street, but there weren't so many any more. Connor had heard a loud explosion yesterday morning somewhere further north and assumed that most of the undead had staggered in that direction, attracted by the noise. The Irishman could see the car where they had left it a couple of days ago, no one had stolen it yet. He knew that all their supplies, their guns and possessions were still in there, he just needed to make run for it. Connor let out a gentle sigh and considered the possibility of just taking his brother with him, simply because he didn't want to let go. He shook his head and squeezed his eyes shut.
"Why would ye make me promise something like that" he whispered and took a deep breath.
You can do it Connor.
He opened his eyes and turned around again.
"Okay" he said and knelt down next to Murphy to take his guns, machete and rosary. He stroke his head once more and took another deep breath.
"Sleep well, brother" he whispered.
He looked at the rosary in his hands and stroke the cross. He knew how wrong it was to take it from his brother, but he just needed it. A part of his twin, something he could keep close to his heart. Connor got up to head for the door. No matter how hard it was, he forced himself not to look at Murphy again. He kept walking and grabbed the door handle and pulled it. His body was practically urging him to stop, feeling the need to return to his brother. It didn't want to be separated from its other half, but he kept going. He was practically running down the stairs, and soon he couldn't stop running anymore, although he could hardly see anything because of the tears. This was another lesson he had to learn, leaving his brother was far far worse than seeing his dead body.
When he opened the door downstairs he came across walkers right away, and without hesitation he swung his machete around and hit their heads way harder than necessary. He was completely out of breath already, because his weak body was not used to all the running and fighting anymore. But that didn't matter. He was driven by sheer anger.
"This all yer fault ye motherfuckers!" he yelled and kept stabbing one of the two dead walkers.
"He's dead! Because of you!" he screamed and turned the undead into a pile of bloody rotten flesh. He couldn't do it for too long, simply because his arms and legs gave in soon. Other walkers were getting closer, attracted by all his yelling and mad screaming. The Irishman wiped his blood stained face and started running again, towards the car which was still parked in front of the fences that blocked Summer Street bridge. He still had the keys in his pockets and he knew what to do. He didn't even care about the boats anymore. He had been right all along. There were no boats. There was nothing left here. He just wanted to get out of Boston. Away from their battered home, away from all the bodies and friends they had lost. Away from what he had done.
2 months later...
He couldn't do it anymore. At some point his soul had just left his body. He had been able to keep going, simply because he couldn't feel a thing, couldn't think about anything anymore. Connor could function during the day, but the nights were the worst. Not only because it was almost impossible to get some sleep when there was no one there to watch your back, but also because the nightmares were still torturing him. For two months now he had been watching his brother die, every single night, which was why he had tried anything to stay awake for a couple of days in a row until he was so exhausted that he couldn't even dream anymore. For months he had kept going like that, but now he couldn't do it anymore.
He had tried everything to stay alive, to keep his promise. The Irishman had tried them all, the refuge camps he had heard about on the radio. Provincetown. Gone. Cape Breton Island. Gone. Manicouagan Reservoir. Gone. He had just left Fort Benning when he had heard about a large refuge camp in Atlanta, heard that the CDC was possibly working on a cure. Connor was pretty sure that Atlanta was just as dead as any other major city. He had seen it first hand. But that hadn't kept him from trying. Simply because he had promised. But he was so tired and depressed that he just couldn't do it anymore now. Couldn't keep searching. The Irishman had driven up and down half the East Coast until the radio had died completely. Now he didn't even really know where he was going anymore. He stopped the car when he came across a huge traffic jam on the highway. The Irishman knew that he could get past it if he wanted, but truth was that he didn't want to. What was the point anyway? Why would Atlanta be any different? He just wanted a break. He just wanted to sleep.
Connor got out of his car and took his bag with him. The blonde MacManus was used to the procedure by now. Park the car, get your things, find a place to stay for the night, rest, keep going. The only difference was that he didn't plan on doing the last part this time. Connor started walking down the highway and made his way to the church that was supposed to be close by. This would be different. He had sworn that he wouldn't take his life, but he wasn't going to do that. He had tried to keep going by searching for any survivor camps, but this part was done. Now he would just wait. This time he would give god the opportunity to decide over him. He would stop traveling, simply because it was just as hopeless as staying. And he just needed a break. No matter what had happened to him and how broken he really was, he had never really lost faith. This was all he had left after all. He hadn't been in a church for a very long while, which was why he had decided to stop right here and now. Because it was somewhat comforting when he saw the cross in the distance. No matter how this would turn out, whether he found life or death inside that church, about one thing he was absolutely sure. This church would bring salvation.
It didn't take him too long to get rid of the walkers. There weren't many after all. He killed one female and two male walkers, then he closed the doors shut behind him. It was so incredibly quiet all of a sudden. He thought he had gotten used to this by now, he had been on his own for two months after all. But this?He couldn't hear anything except for the wind and the creaking of the wood, and he just stood there and listened for a while. For the first time he was actually afraid. To face the cross, to face god. To ask him for forgiveness, to ask him what to do next. Connor knew that he eventually needed to turn around, so he took a deep breath and turned on his heels. He still wouldn't look at the statue and cross just yet. The Irishman took the photograph from his pocket and looked at it instead, heading for the cross in the meantime. Every day he had spent hours looking at that picture, praying to it instead. Now he had the luxury of a real proper church to do all the praying, but that wouldn't keep him from looking at his brother's face. Most of the time he didn't feel anything at all, like he was already dead inside, but whenever he looked at the picture he could feel it again. The loss. The incredible pain.
Connor fell to his knees and put the photograph away. He wasted more time on putting it back in his wallet than he should.
Not only because his hands were shaking. No matter how many times he had been begging for his life to end, now he actually feared his final judgment.
"Forgive me father fer I have sinned" he murmured and positioned himself in front of the cross.
"It's been 74 days since my last confession."
He didn't stop. He talked about all the people he had killed. All the walking dead people. His friends. His brother. All the evil men he had killed before the apocalypse. He told god every last detail, every sin he had ever committed. Then he wouldn't stop praying. He repeated the words over and over again, waiting for an answer that never seemed to come. The church bells were still ringing every day, drawing walkers to him every time they tolled. Connor did not move, did not look up. He could hear the windows and doors shaking, and he just waited for the undead to break through and take his life. This seemed to be god's answer after all.
The older MacManus had promised his twin that he would not kill himself, which meant that he would go down with a fight. He would either go down fighting or he would fight them off, but he wouldn't leave the church. He supposed that this couldn't be considered suicide then. It was god's will. Just what he wanted. So he waited and waited, but the fight never happened. He could feel his hunger and thirst growing, but even that wouldn't make him move. He had been sitting there praying for two days when the doors finally gave in. Once again Connor wouldn't look up, because he hadn't finished his prayer yet. He could hear them coming closer, but he kept murmuring the words.
"In Nomine Patris" he murmured and grabbed the two rosaries around his neck tight.
He could hear them coming closer. One of the walkers was just behind him by now, so he prepared himself for the final battle.
I'm coming home Murph.
"Et Spiritus Sancti" he finished the prayer and crossed himself.
A second later he could feel how the walker grabbed him from behind. Connor grabbed the arm without hesitation. In just a matter of seconds he was back on his feet and turned around, grabbing his knife on his way back up. He grabbed the walker's arm and threw him to the ground, ready to stab his head. He let out a surprised gasp when another two walkers grabbed him by his shoulders and pulled him back. The Irishman squeezed his eyes shut and prepared himself for the incredible pain in his neck and shoulders, but the bites would never come.
"Easy tiger!" the man behind him growled and grabbed his arm even tighter.
Connor opened his eyes in surprise and tried to look at the men behind him, then the man he had thrown to the ground caught his attention.
"Calm down! We're not gonna hurt you! I'm Rick, this is Shane and Daryl. Just calm down. We saw you sitting here and assumed you're a walker" the man in the police uniform said and put his hat back on his head. Connor just glared at the man opposite him. He couldn't believe that this was actually happening. The two men behind him were still pulling and fighting his grip, so he growled and fought even more.
"I ain't one of them things. Now, lemme go will ye?" he answered and tried to kick them.
He was quite surprised that he could still speak. He didn't even remember the last time he had talked to anyone but god. The man named Rick nodded and the two other men behind him let him go. Connor gasped when his legs gave in and he couldn't stand on his own anymore. He had been kneeling for days, which was why he had never realized how weak he really was. He gasped and tried to get back up, feeling the need to defend himself nevertheless. The Irishman wasn't used to people anymore. Anything that moved was now considered a danger. He fought his shoulder long hair off and tried to give them a death glare, and part of him was well aware of the fact that he was acting like an animal.
"What's a potato eating leprechaun doing here? They let anyone in these days? Scared off the geeks with yah terrible accent?" he heard the third man ask and widened his eyes in shock. He knew that voice. But...could that be? He turned around in horror and looked at the other man. His heart missed a beat when he saw his face. There he was, wearing different clothes and a crossbow instead of guns, but that face... For a second the Irishman didn't know how to breathe.
"Murph?" he whispered and looked at the man, who was narrowing his eyes.
"What did y'call me?" the man growled and stared back.
In just a matter of seconds Connor was back on his feet. He ignored that his knees were shaking with every step he took, he just needed to close the distance between them. Because this was his brother standing there in front of him. Because his prayers had been heard. He frowned when his twin tried to get out of his reach, but he assumed that this was just because Murphy was mad at him. For leaving him alone in Boston. For not taking him with him. For not waiting for him. He walked even faster because he just wanted to wrap his arms around his twin, but before he even got the chance to touch Murphy the other man struck out and hit him in the face. The Irishman groaned and stumbled backwards, then he fell to the ground with a terrible headache. He could feel how he slowly drifted away, how the darkness was calling him. Connor could hear the other men fighting, how Rick started yelling at his brother, and there was one name they were repeating and yelling over and over again. Daryl. But why would they call him that? Connor tried to fight the darkness, but he eventually gave in, welcoming it. "Murph" he murmured once more, trying to reach out for his brother, but there was no one there to take his hand. He smiled tiredly, knowing that he had seen his twin one last time, then everything went black.