A/N: Thought I would try my hand at some -man fiction. I sat on my ass watching all of them a week ago and reading all the comics, while at work so thought, meh, this might be fun.
Keep in mind this is probably AU in some respects and there are some warnings:
1. Elements of Catholic Dogma present, especially in later chapters.
2. No slash.
3. Self-harm but not played for depression or teenage angst, trust me it's germane to the plot
4. General dark themes such as death, murder, and torture.
Pleasure and Desire
Chapter 2: I'll Wager a Fiddle of Gold Against Your Soul
Lisbon Portugal, Present Day
Tyki stretched his feet closer to the fire, wondering when it would start to burn. Ever since that horrible Walker kid had tried to exorcise his Noah and he had lost controlled and turned into a drooling idiot in Flamenco pants, he had had a hard time warming up. Just thinking about it made his scars and his pride ache. As much as he sometimes lost patience with the world Cyril lived in and the person he had to be when he was here, having a comfy chair, a sturdy house (without a leaky roof), and a warm fire was a nice perk. A storm had rolled in during the afternoon and it raged outside like a beast. Thunderstorms always made him sleepy and unhappy. He had once asked if it was some weird Noah thing but it turned out it was just a weird Tyki thing.
He tried to tune out the other occupants of the room but it was hard. Cyril and Tricia weren't too bad. They were curled together on the lounge, discussing something about the nursery. He still got a kick out of the fact Cyril and her were going to have a kid of their own, plus a good bit of jealousy but he wouldn't tell anyone that. He supposed he shouldn't be since they all knew the child she carried would eventually become Raasura, which was probably the only reason Cyril had stopped poisoning her and allowed her to get pregnant. He wondered if the kid would be blond. The Earl had once told him that based on his "knowledge of genetics" he guessed that Cyril's father was probably actually Finnish based on his height, straight hair, flat cheek bones, and heavily lidded hazel eyes. Tyki couldn't care less frankly, they were brothers regardless of having different fathers.
Jasdero and Devitt were being themselves, meaning they were loud, annoying, and dumb as boiled shit. Wisely was taunting them but hiding behind the Earl. The Earl himself was there, which was odd, and was trying to conduct Road as she mangled a piece on the piano. Frankly he was surprised his ears weren't bleeding.
The Earl clapped, "that was very good, Road, a bit more practice and you'll be ready for your school recital." She beamed up at the fat man and Tyki rolled his eyes. At least she had quit asking his help on her homework. As if answering her geography homework with the number 12 wasn't bad enough, another time he had written an essay for her in Irish Gaelic that mostly compared Jesus's Christ's parentage to that of Minerva and a donkey. But the final straw had been when he helped her with her art history and rather than explaining the difference between Italian Renaissance and Gothic Art, he had masterfully illustrated the difference in a set of six pornographic scenes, two of them had Allen Walker being sodomized by a donkey. She had finally taken the hint after that and Cyril had nearly kicked both their asses because he had gotten called down to the school to discuss his daughter's 'inappropriate obsession with donkeys.'
"What did you think Tyki?" she turned to look at him.
"Does it really matter what I think?" He questioned, hoping he didn't have to answer. In this guise, as Lord Mikk, his profession was as a musician; a violinist to be exact. It was ideal for getting him into people's homes and lives. He did play piano splendidly though, after all it was madre benedetta of all classical music.
"Of course it does, now tell me how did I do?" she bounced in her seat looking like a real 13 year old.
"Terrible," he sipped his drink and left it at that.
"Tyki-pet, that isn't nice," the Earl scolded him.
"Please stop calling me 'Tyki-pet,' Fatman. It makes me feel dirty."
"Stop calling me fat and hurting Road's feelings."
"Then tell her to get better. She was playing most of it in 3/4 time rather than 3/8. She missed the transition into D Minor. Her arpeggios were muddled and sloppy, and her pedal work needs serious help," he explained, slouching lower in his chair to avoid anything she might throw at him. He could practically hear Road fuming.
"Then you play it better," she groused at him and he decided he might as well. She scooted over on the bench to make room for him and the Earl sat down to watch. He started the Bagatelle flawlessly, without even looking at the music. He loved this piece and knew it by heart, Fur Elise, as it was commonly called.
He finished to the applause of Tricia, Cyril, the Earl, and Wisely. "That was simply wonderful, Tyki," Tricia complimented him. He inclined his head in acknowledgement of the praise. Ah, how would people take it if they knew he used to play his fiddle on street corners for change or in pubs in exchange for food? He never played for Momo, Clack, or Eaze, though sometimes he would sing. They thought him mildly talented and had no idea he had played the Devil's Trill at the Viennese opera house, where once Beethoven had graced the stage. He now so strongly associated music with this world, he didn't want it mixing with his human friends, if they were even still his friends. He hadn't seen them in months.
He decided since he was here, he might as well have some fun and started playing a much faster pace piece and started to sing, "Gentleman it is me duty, to inform of one beauty," and continued on to sing The Queen of Argyle as Cyril and Tricia danced. It made his heart swell to see them move together and seem happy at the same time made it immeasurably sad that he didn't have that and probably never would. But he supposed his basic assumption might be wrong. He was in no doubt that Tricia loved Cyril but was in serious doubt of the other way. Cyril treated her well, very well, and even after nearly five years of marriage, they still had weekly dates where no one, not even the Earl was allowed to bother them. But he still remembered the clinical way his brother had gone about finding a wife. He had created lists of all the eligible women in Europe and Eastern Europe and ranked them based on connections, peerage, education, and age. Once he had it to a manageable list, they started meeting them and he had selected Tricia, the second daughter of an Archduke of Hapsburgs Austria, because she was tall. His choice of wife came down to the practical mechanics of her being 5'9" and the other front runners being around 5'3" and therefore he didn't have to bend down as far to kiss her. Tyki always liked to hope that if he ever married it would be for a better reason but he also suspected that his brother had his eye on a particular Spanish Princess that had recently come of age and liked the violin.
Jasdevi clapped for him as he finished and asked for another. He agreed, mostly to keep them quiet but switched to the softer, more melancholy ballad of Father Murphy. He closed his eyes as he sang, "Come all you warriors and renowned nobles/Give ear unto my warlike theme/While I relate how brave Father Murphy/He lately roused from his sleepy dream."
When he was finished the Earl said, "Tyki-pet, you truly are beautiful, when you sing." He couldn't help the soft smile that came to his face.
"Why don't you help me, Tyki?" Road asked him, from her spot beside him on the bench. He thought about telling her he didn't know how to read music but figured no one would believe that. It wasn't that he didn't love her, he did, it was just that she was such a brat sometimes. And she tended to get violent when she didn't get her own way. Not to mention that regardless of the fact she could steer the Arc, the girl had no rhythm, none at all. It was actually sort of amazing.
He pulled her into a one arm hug and kissed the top of her head, smiling at her, "no, absolutely not." She elbowed him in the chest, hard, catching him right in the scar, making him hiss. How did she manage to always hit that spot?!
"Road!" Tricia nearly shouted and stood. "Don't hit your uncle, now you apologize right now, then we are going to bed."
Road looked like she might protest, after all she was old enough to be her mother's grandmother but she relented. "I'm sorry Tyki. I hope that little love tap didn't incapacitate you," she smiled at him, sticking her tongue out when her mother wasn't looking. Then she leapt up to give Cyril a kiss and to hug the Earl before following Tricia towards the door.
He rose to retrieve his brandy and reclaim his seat by the fire but Devitt was in it, looking smug. "Can I have my seat back, please?" He asked politely, knowing it wouldn't work.
"No way, it's mine now!" Oh really? That was his chair, Cyril and bought it for him and placed it by the fire for his use, long before their Noahs had even awoken. It was his fucking chair!
"Yeah, it's his now," Jasdero laughed manically. Sometimes their idiocy worried him.
"Ok," he conceded, then touched the back of the big leather chair with one index finger, turning it incorporeal so Devitt fell through it onto the floor. He then walked around and sank into it, turning it solid again. He heard Road laugh from the doorway as Tricia pulled her away.
"Hey!" Devitt shouted while his brother giggled and clapped, rolling on his back. He finally gave up, sitting in chair further from the fire and watched after Tricia, who was still scolding Road for being a hooligan. "You know, Cyril," Devitt started, "Your wife is kind of hot when she gets all authoritative," he mused then noticed the look Cyril and himself were giving him. "I mean, pretty, beautiful in a completely non sexual and utterly respectful way," he stuttered then said, "it's late, we're going to bed." He grabbed his brother by the hair and they both hurried out, Wisely following them for now apparent reason. It left him and Cyril alone with the Earl.
"Tyki, you really should consider teaching Road. She would probably do better under you than her current tutor," the Earl suggested, which meant he wouldn't have a choice and he would be teaching her.
"If it means that much to, My Lord, I'll do it." He didn't have anything else to do, not since that detestable Allen Walker destroyed his ability to go back to Eaze and his other friends. He rubbed his chest, where it hurt.
"Thank, you Tyki-pet," the clown stretched his short legs out to the fire, the same way Tyki did. He turned his head and let his hair fall into his face, not caring if it made him look scruffy. He closed his eyes and listened to the fire and the Cyril discussing the assassination of some rival shipping magnate from Venice that had been encroaching on the inroads he had made in East Asia. It sort of disturbed him that one minute he could be cuddling with his wife and the next planning murder. Before he knew it, the warmth of the fire and the brandy made him doze off, rain just did that to him for some reason. He woke to the blanket that usually sat on the lounge, covering him and the Earl stroking his hair from his face. "You should go to bed," he told him and Tyki couldn't argue. "It's strange to think that two dockyard ruffians turned into my two finest Noah." He smiled and bowed, not sure if that was a compliment he actually wanted.
Dockyard ruffians indeed? That was a polite thing to call them compared to what they had been and how low they had sunk before the Earl found them.
10 years ago Dock Yards of Oporto, Portugal
Tyki was nervous, more nervous than he had been since the last time Cyril had made him get on a boat to sail from Southend to Calais. He was probably more nervous than Cyril. His brother had left early that morning to go sit for entrance into Law School. He hoped it went well but supposed he should be sure it would. No one was smarter than his big brother. He hummed to himself as he cleaned up their small house. He wanted it to be nice and neat for Cyril when he got home. He knew it annoyed his brother that they lived in such a crummy place so Tyki tried to keep it as clean as he could, even though being messy didn't bother him that much.
It was sunny and pretty today, and he planned to take a walk to park after he was finished and maybe see if the baker had any day old bread. Cyril would get mad if he spent money on fresh bread but the day old stuff was still better than the soda bread Cyril cooked and only half the price. He was nearly finished mopping the floor when he heard someone call his name, "Tyki," he looked up but didn't see anyone. "Tyki, why are mopping the floor with blood?" The Voice asked, and he recognized it from a few nights ago. It had been talking to him for weeks.
He looked around, and saw that every place he had cleaned, the chairs, the table, the floor, all of it was covered with blood. He gasped and took his glasses off, rubbing his eyes, hoping it would change but it didn't. He looked down into the pail he was using to clean with and noticed it was filled with blood, thick and red. He gasped, startling backwards and tipping it over. From the bottom of it squirmed a large larva, nearly as long as his arm. It inched towards him, mewling like new born cat. He backed up, tripping over the chair, but continued to crawl backwards away from it.
"This isn't real," he whispered, trying to convince himself that his eyes were deceiving him even as he could smell the blood.
"Of course it is real, my precious, the blood came from you. The Teaze just wants some to make it grow strong and breed," it chuckled and he looked down at his hands and saw they were bleeding. He had a weeping, cross shaped mark on each palm that burned and ached, like his head had two days ago.
"No, it can't be real, it can't be. I'm dreaming," he reached for the table and tried to pull himself up, just to have his hand go through it like it or maybe he was ghost. Was he dead, was this hell?
"Oh but look, Tyki, all the things you thought were real are only an illusion you can't even touch. But you are very much awake and this is real." He felt a blinding pain in his middle and looked down to see a grey arm sticking out of him. It beckoned the hideous, giant maggot thing closer to him. He could see its face was a skull with gnashing teeth. The hand absorbed the creature into its palm then pulled it back inside of Tyki. He swore he could feel it worming around inside of him and he gagged. "It's ok, Tyki, don't make yourself unwell over this. Just relax and let me wake up and this will all be over," the voice coaxed, honey sweet.
Tyki bolted for the door, slipping on the blood coating the floor and falling to his hands and knees, exposing the wood under the gore. He emerged into the bright sunlight, to the sound of the Voice laughing, as he sprinted towards the town square. He knew the way by heart, which was good because he didn't think he could remember his name right now. He cut through an alley and emerged in front of the church, breathing a sigh of relief at being in the shadow of God. He shot up the stairs and entered the vestibule, panting as he dropped to genuflect.
He looked up at the Crucifix above the altar and hoped the Voice would go away. It quieted, within the church but he felt no better. Usually coming here made him feel calmer. He loved Cathedrals, the sound of them, the smell of them. They were always safe places when they had been traveling across Europe. He knew Cyril had no faith but he did. He never told him brother but every day he went to sea, Tyki came to the church and lit a candle for him and prayed to Saint Brendan he would come home safe.
It was still early and a Monday so the pews were mostly empty, only a few old women, with black lace shawls sat about. Tyki would never admit to brother, at least not yet, but he was seriously considering joining the Priesthood. He knew he wasn't cut out to be a scholar, like his Cyril. He wasn't smart enough or focused enough. He loved music but you couldn't really make a living as a musician without a patron and he didn't have one. He knew he needed to stop letting Cyril take care of him soon, his brother needed to be able to live for himself, instead of always worrying about his bone-headed, younger brother. And maybe the church was a good place for him to go.
Normally he would sit quietly and think or talk to one of the priests about trivial things, usually Father Ignacio, but today he felt he needed to confess. He waited till the confessional was open and darted in, his knees felt wobbly and his hands shook so much he almost couldn't close the door. He dropped down onto the prie-dieu, his knees making a quiet thud. He waited for the screen to slide open and crossed himself, "Bless me father for I have sinned it has 4 months since my last confession," he started.
"What sin do you have to confess, my son," the priest asked. From the voice he could tell it was Father Rodriquez. He was the eldest priest here and delivered the Sunday mass most weeks.
"I fear I have lost God's love," he spit out, trying to stop his teeth from chattering. It was so cold.
"Why would you think that, what sin have you committed that would make God turn away from you?" Tyki rested his forehead against the wooden divider, not caring if the scroll work left imprints on his face. He curled the fingers of his left hand between two crosses and noticed blood dripping onto his leg. He didn't know if it was real or not.
He wondered where he should start. He had been hearing the Voice for a few weeks now but hadn't started seeing things until two nights ago. But that wasn't really a sin. He wondered if he should talk about Rosa, the pub owner's daughter. Three weeks ago she had asked him to go with her to pick up fresh herbs from the market and he had agreed. She led them to a secluded spot and kissed him. He had never kissed a girl before. But it hadn't stopped there, she nibbled his lip and ran her fingers through his hair till his trousers were embarrassingly tight. Then she had untied her blouse and loosened her corset so he could run his hands along her breasts. Her skin was so soft and she smelled like cinnamon and cloves. She was nearly a year older than him and he couldn't believe she was doing this. He always thought she had a crush on Cyril. Her dark eyes had sparkled as she rested her small hand on his crotch and guided his under her skirt. He felt the downy curls of her pubic hair and released in his pants. She had giggled at him and he was immediately embarrassed, mortified really. The few times he had heard his brother having sex it took longer and the girl laughed during, not after.
"I had inappropriate relations with my boss's daughter," he stuttered through his explanation of what had happened.
"Are you penitent, my son?"
"I don't know," he answered honestly. "It was fun but I know it was wrong but that isn't the problem," he watched blood well from his left hand and roll down his forearm to drip onto his hip and thigh.
"Then what is the problem," the Father patiently asked and Tyki took a deep breath.
"I," he swallowed and wondered if he should continue. He was going to sound like a crazy person but priests weren't allowed to repeat what they heard. "I've been hearing things."
"What types of things?"
"A voice," he closed his eyes before the tears that were welling up in them could fall. He wasn't a kid, he shouldn't be crying. "A voice that keeps talking to me and telling me to let it wake up. At first it was just like whispers on the wind but now it's clear and I'm the only one that can hear it," he explained.
"What does it talk to you about, my child?"
"It plays tricks on me. It tells me I can do things that I wouldn't ever do, then two nights ago, I saw," he bit his lip to stifle the cry that wanted to work its way from his throat.
"It's alright, my son, you are safe in God's arms here," the Priest reassured him.
"Two nights ago, I saw my reflection in the window and it was me but wasn't me. I had dark skin and yellow eyes like an animal and cross shaped scars across my forehead. The voice told me to look outside and everyone was dead. They were all dead and I could smell the blood," he raised his right hand to his mouth and noticed it looked like it was bleeding too. He ignored it and started chewing on his thumb nail. "But when I looked again there was nothing there. Then today, I was cleaning and the Voice told me I was mopping with blood. It looked like water, then there was blood everywhere and there was this thing and it crawled inside of me and my hand went through the table," he tried to make it sound coherent but it didn't. "I just, I want it to stop. God can make it stop, can't he? I don't know what I did to make him angry but I'm sorry."
"Be at piece, child, God is with you, Cum Sacerdos pænitentem absolvere velit, injuncta ei prius, et ab eo acceptata, salutari pænitentia, primo dicit: Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam æternam. Amen. Deinde, dextera versus pænitentem elevata, dicit: Indulgentiam, absolutionem, et remissionem peccatorum tuorum tribuat tibi omnipotens et misericors Dominus. Amen. D ominus noster Jesus Christus te absolvat: et ego auctoritate ipsìus te absolvo ab omni vinculo excommunicationis, (suspensionis), et interdicti, in quantum possum, et tu indiges. Deinde ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis, in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen."
"You honestly think this puny man and his pretty magic words can save you from me?" The Voice laughed into his head and he was about to genuflect. "He doles out absolution while he under priest, Father Ignacio, thinks of putting his hand down your pants and kissing your pretty face," it taunted and Tyki couldn't help but whimper. "Foolish children of God that think abstinence saves their souls even as fucking saves their species. Tell me Tyki, what's more fun getting felt up by Rosa or by one of the Padres?"
"No, be quiet," he mumbled and bit down on his thumb.
"Do you want to know what he'll look like when he burns in hell for his sins? His flesh roasting till it slips off the bone like mutton in your mother's stew," the Voice asked him as it showed him a picture of Father Rodriquez through the panel, only this time his grey hair was burned from his head and his skin was melting from his face like a boiled calf head. He could smell the scorching flesh and he scurried from booth, wanting to get away from the smell. Every person he passed was burned and grotesque, some of them twisted as if they were on a rack.
He made it out of the door and over the railing of the steps before he vomited but barely, his glasses nearly falling from his face into the mess. He kept his eyes closed not wanting to see anyone else half cooked. He choked and gagged, long past the point of their being anything in his stomach but still he felt like there was something caught in his throat. He reached into his mouth, hoping to dislodge it and was met by hair. He pulled and freed a hank of dark hair with a purple butterfly wing wrapped in it. He stared at it wanting to scream.
"The Teaze wanted to say hello," the Voice explained. He sank down on the steps, knowing his legs wouldn't hold him and curled in on himself.
That was how he was when Father Ignacio approached him. "Tyki, are you alright? Would you like to come back inside?" the man tried to coax him but he shook his head and kept his eyes firmly closed, he couldn't face seeing those burned parishioners again. "It's cold out here, you'll be warmer inside and we can talk," the priest tried again.
"I," he tried to talk and had to clear his throat. "I don't feel so good, right no. Can I just sit here for a little while?" He felt like were things writhing inside of him and it hurt.
"Of course, would you like me to get you some water?" the man asked him and he shook his head non committally. He had yet to open his eyes. Even though the sun shone, the stone was cold and so was Tyki. Ignacio came back, proffering a tin cup to him, which he accepted. When he finally opened his eyes and looked into the cup, he saw a snake, golden and fierce, with its jaws wide and fangs bared. In its mouth was a mewling maggot. He threw it away before noticing it was nothing more than a mug of water. "Tyki," the man exclaimed and he looked up at the blessedly whole face of the Father.
"Sorry, I thought," he stopped not sure what he had thought.
Before he had to explain any further, Father Ignacio took right hand, gingerly, turning his palm up. "What did you do to your hand?" He hadn't even noticed it was still weeping blood from the cross shaped mark. He looked at left and it was the same. He hadn't done anything to them, they just kept doing this but he thought it was an illusion, like the dead bodies but what if it wasn't? What if neither of them was?
"You can see them?" he asked in a small voice.
"Yes, I can, Tyki, how did you do this?" His voice was quiet and his hands gentle.
"I don't know, it just showed up," he answered as he started biting the nail on his index finger.
"We should go inside and talk to Father Rodriquez," Ignacio tried to coax him and he almost went, until he looked back and saw one of the women leaving the church, and her face was horrible and twisted as if she was in great pain.
"No, I can't," he shook his head. "I can't go back in there, I have to go," he stood and his legs nearly buckled but he caught himself on the wall.
"Tyki, you aren't well, you should come inside, if you want, you can go into the back and lie down, I can go get your brother. Is he home?"
Cyril, he wasn't home, he would be almost done with his test by now. He was going to go to the baker and there was blood all over the house. "No, he's not home. I have to go," he took a shaky step then another, feeling better the further he got from the church.
Cyril yawned and watched the pilot steer the ship close to dock. It had been a long day of meeting some contacts from Kerry, repacking guns, and then catching enough fish to cover them. The harbor manifests had this ship listed as fishing only, no transport, so it was only inspected for fish. As long as they had enough cod, eel, and other assorted sea creatures, no one looked further. Then it was just a matter of unloading the gun crates and hiding them in the warehouse. The owner of the ship, Madame Cortez, was an old widow that cared for nothing but her grandchildren and the money his 3 ship fleet provided. Cyril kept the books and her warehouse for her and in return she taught Tyki the violin and piano. And if he occasionally used her warehouses to clean less than legally acquired goods, no one was the wiser. They were logged as one thing coming in and another going out and as long as they were of equal value, people never looked deeper and it was all neatly kept in the ledgers by him. Buried in mounds of paperwork, scribbling, and codes only he understood, all the illegality of it was hidden in plain sight only most people were too lazy to ever look for it. The two that had tried to look closer were now sleeping with Davy Jones and no longer his problem.
There were 2 newer men this go around that bothered him though. Both had been vouched for, which wasn't a problem but their attitudes were horrible. They were Brits and both hounded him all day about being a Mick and asked how he covered his red hair. He had been ignoring them all day until right before they docked. "Hey, Blarney Stone," God he hated the English. "I bet you could make even more money on the docks sending that pretty brother of yours ship side. He could probably flutter his eyelashes and make you a fortune. If you ever smiled I bet you could too," the man blew a kiss at him. He was beyond disturbed that either of them noticed the fact Tyki had really long eyelashes just like him and their mother.
He looked up at the sails, the sun was starting to set, it would be full dark soon, and counted to 10 then decided that was a good enough reason to beat the shit out of this guy. He would never let Tyki do that, EVER! He had not been above making some money on his knees a few times when they had been very desperate but that was him not his brother. Tyki would have it better than he had.
"Hah, funny," he agreed, walking over to the joking man and punching him squarely in the nose. He felt bone break and blood explode over his fist, giving him a feeling of satisfaction. But he didn't stop there; he needed to make a statement not to mess with him, even though he was young. He then grabbed the downed man by the hair and dragged him over to the base of the wheel, as he howled and shouted. He proceeded to stomp his heel against the man's jaw, where it rested on the brass fittings. Once he saw teeth on the deck and that man's face was misshapen, he finally stopped.
He flipped the Brit over, and got right in his face, "you or your murdering, bastard, Limey friend ever talk about my brother again and I'll fucking murder you." He curled his fingers into his sleeve and freed the Châtellerault switchblade he carried in his cuff. He trailed the knife along the fool's eyebrow before slicing his eyelid off with a quick cut. "Do we understand each other?" he asked and the man shakily nodded his head and Cyril dropped him into a quivering heap on the deck. He was glad to see the majority of the crew found other things to do while the fight was going on.
He returned to watching the dock and noticed his brother was sitting on a crate waiting for him. He waved and Tyki waved back. He was worried as hell about his baby brother. He had been sick off and on for weeks and had been acting jumpy and or weirdly distracted lately. He seemed to be smiling though, as he pushed his glasses up his nose. There was tape holding the bridge together. He was going to have to get the kid a new pair soon.
He hopped off the boat, as soon as they were close enough and Tyki jogged up to him, handing him a sandwich. "I'm glad you're back safe," Tyki smiled at him.
"It was a short fishing run, no big deal," he answered and took a bite out of his meal. It was salt cod; words failed him how tired he was of salt cod.
"So, Mr. Rocha came by earlier and asked if we could work tonight. Apparently Maria and Claudio are sick. I told him I could go but wasn't sure about you."
"Bloody hell," he cursed. Mr. Rocha was the owner of the most lucrative pub and eatery on the docks. Cyril had been working for him waiting tables and keeping his books for the last four years. It was a steady, if menial, job that made sure they had food to eat and a roof over their heads. He knew Cyril was in school and worked another job and wouldn't ask unless he really needed him. But on the flip side he had been up since before 4am and on the sea all day. He was tired as hell.
"I can take your shift for you, if you want. They need a waiter more than a dishwasher," Tyki suggested but he wouldn't send his kid brother there by himself. It was after all a dockyard pub with drunks and even Cyril got his ass grabbed at least 2 times a night. He was not about to let his ridiculously pretty brother go there alone.
"No, we'll both go," he stuffed the rest of his food in his mouth, noting he only had about 30 minutes before they would be expected. He threw his arm around Tyki pulling him into a headlock as they walked along the busy docks. As usual Tyki stayed on the inside, as far away from the water as he could get. "You know, one of these day we aren't going to have to worry about working from before dawn till after dark," he started one of their favorite games, imagining what it would be like if they had money. "And when I come home from work, I won't smell like fucking fish."
Tyki giggled at that. It was nice to hear the kid laugh. "And we'll have fresh bread, not that awful, hard a rock stuff you make," he supplied.
"Aye, and a house without a leaky room or oven that smokes," Cyril added.
"And blankets that don't have fleas." Tyki suggested.
"Yeah, and we'll get to eat beef rather than salty, fucking fish," he teased and let his brother go. "Now let's go find a trough to throw me in so I don't stink of dead fish all night."
It was nearly midnight and Cyril had to bite his cheek not to yawn. The pub was as busy as ever and per usual he spent as much time making sure Rosa wasn't felt up as he did serving food. Goddamnit, he would be glad once he graduated from Law School and got a nice quiet desk job instead of a loud, rowdy, smelly pub. He poured two more mugs of wine, corking the bottle that was starting to have a vinegary smell to it and took a deep breath before coming out from behind the bar. There were as many whores as there were sailors and their hands tended to stray as much as the sailors.
He deposited the mugs in front of a scarred fisherman and his date for the night and waited to see if they would order food. He suspected they wouldn't tip for shit. His only consolation was that she had that almond smell he associated with treatment for syphilis. Once they waved him away he was flagged down by a few more people, inquiring if Tyki was coming to come out and play the fiddle. He didn't' think so, his brother seemed as tired as he was. He started collecting dirty crockery and wiping down a free table when there was a shout from the back and someone called his name.
Leaving the dishes where they were, he darted to the back, where the dishwashers worked and found his brother on the floor in the corner, his hand was bright red, and there was an overturned pot of what appeared to be boiling water. "Davi, what's going on?" he barked at the young boy that worked with Tyki. His brother pulled his knees to his chest and hid his face.
"I don't know, sir, we were working then all of a sudden he started mumbling to himself then he stuck his hand in that pot of boiling water. I made him pull it back out but he jumped away from me like I hurt him," the kid explained. He quickly grabbed a clean towel and pumped cool water onto it.
He knelt in front of Tyki, taking the red, blistered hand in his and wrapped it in the wet towel. "Laddy boy, what happened?" he asked and touched Tyki's hair.
"There were bugs," he whispered.
"Bugs and spiders coming out of the drain and they got in my cut and now they're under my skin and I can't get rid of them. He said if I boil them, they'll come out. I want them out," he babbled and Cyril knew his mouth was probably hanging open. He didn't see any bugs or spiders anywhere. He looked at Davi, who shook his head no.
"Tyki, look at me," he coaxed his brother to lift his head at the same time he noticed that he was shaking like a leaf. His brother steadfastly kept his eyes closed. He brushed the unruly hair off his forehead and rested the back of his palm against it. It felt like touching a brazier. "Laddy boy why didn't you say you were sick, you're burning up?"
Tyki shivered in response, "I'm not hot, I'm cold. Maybe if my blood turns to icicles the bugs will freeze and stop squirming inside of me," he mumbled. By this point, Mrs. Rocha was in there and cooed over the boy.
"I need to leave and take him to hospital," he looked at her, giving her no room to argue.
"Of course, Cyril. Take him and let us know how he is," she assured him and handed him Tyki's glasses from the edge of the sink. The kid always took them off when he was working because they didn't fit right and could fall in the water if he had his face down. He was glad, his boss's wife didn't protest. As much as he hated it, he needed this job.
He managed to get Tyki standing and out of the back door, through the alley and a good way towards the closest hospital before his brother seemed to have noticed he was moving. His only comment was, "they're crawling in my throat, butterfly wings and hair are choking me." Cyril just urged him to go faster. Once they got to the hospital, the staff seemed to recognize that Tyki was in pretty bad shape and ushered them into an exam room right away. Tyki sat huddled on the bed, scratching at his forearm.
"Stop scratching," Cyril scolded him and tried not to remember how many times he had said that when Tyki had had chicken pox as a kid. He leaned against the door, since there was nowhere to sit other than the table. Tyki tried to but kept bouncing his leg and rocking back and forth.
"I can feel them squirming," he said and started scratching again, before wrapping both arms around his stomach. "They're wiggling inside of me like a dead body."
"It's not real," Cyril explained, coming to stand by his brother and petting his hair.
"It's real, he says it's real but everything else isn't. I can't trust what I see anymore." He hunched further over and groaned. "I don't feel so good," he moaned and Cyril sighed as he grabbed a deep bowl full of water and something that smelled like rubbing alcohol off a stand and shoved it in front of his brother. He sat beside him holding his hair and balancing the bowl for him. He really hoped if he got married he didn't have any kids. He had had it with changing nappies, wiping snotty noses, and cleaning up puke just from his brother alone.
The doctor chose that moment to come in and after less than a 5 minute exam concluded that Tyki had the flu and needed rest, beef tea, and a bottle of very expensive medicine that smelled like nothing more than bitters and garlic. He paid their bill, manhandled his brother home, dumping him in bed, an hour before dawn and finally collapsed in bed to get a whopping 45 minutes of sleep before he had to be up for another fishing trip. One day, one day he would have a job where he didn't have to get up at the ass crack of dawn and take shit from other people.
He had hoped that Tyki would feel better by the time he got home that evening but he still seemed dazed and occasionally babbled nonsense. His fever was gone, though he still seemed to shiver now and again. Over the next few weeks, things didn't improve, even after taking him back to the doctor. He didn't seem to be able to hold down anything he ate, sometimes he seemed to writhe in pain for no reason, and he constantly scratched at his skin or chewed on his finger nails. He had actually torn one nail completely out of the socket.
One of the priests, Ignacio he though, had come by to visit Tyki a few times, offering him Communion. He always left when they talked, finding the entire thing a waste of time. When had a dry, tasteless wafer and cheap wine ever made anything better? But whatever, Tyki bended towards the religious like their mother. But frankly he was at his wit's end. Tyki wasn't getting better, if anything he was getting worse and no one seemed to know what was wrong with him. He was afraid his brother was losing his mind because most days all he talked about was a Voice that was "like sugar and bees behind his eyes." What the fuck did that mean?
Nearly 6 weeks later, he trudged to the door and unlocked it. He had had a run to Amsterdam and been gone 3 days. He knew Tyki hated it when he was on the sea overnight but they needed the money. His brother hadn't been able to work in weeks and all the trips to the doctors' were not cheap. He walked in and saw his brother with a knife, in his hand, carving symbols onto his thighs. His forearms were bleeding profusely, from where it looked like he had sliced them several times. He also had blood running down his forehead.
"Tyki, what he fuck are doing?" he shouted and he looked up.
"I wanted to get the bugs out," he answered, then his eyes rolled back and he fainted. 4 days later, he sat outside of the Catholic Hospital in Oporto, where Tyki had been transferred for "suicide watch." He rubbed his fingers across his eyes and over his forehead. He needed to shave, smelled like dead fish from his trip that morning, and had a pounding headache. The consensus was that Tyki needed to stay in the hospital for a few days to determine if he needed to be committed. The very thought scared him. He had worked so hard, done so much so Tyki could one day have the type of life he deserved only to have it end here with him going stark, raving, fucking crazy.
He allowed himself to indulge in self pity, in the dying light for a few minutes, before a Priest came and sat beside him. "Are you Cyril McMahon?" he asked, his accent clearly Irish as well.
"I'm Cyril but not McMahon," he answered.
"But you are Taicligh's brother?" It surprised him somewhat that the man pronounced Tyki's Christian name correctly. It had been so long since anyone used it, even he just called him Tyki now.
"Aye, and who are you?" Not even bothering to be friendly. Tyki was the one with the charisma. That kid could go anywhere and make 10 friends. Cyril was just happy when he didn't end up in a fight with someone.
"I'm Father Patrick Murphy. I'm a doctor with the Vatican and I specialize in these types of cases." He smiled and offered Cyril a cigarette which he waved off. After spending the last 6 years working in pubs, he couldn't stand the fucking smell of those things.
"And what type of case is that?" he asked.
"Well I haven't figured that out yet," he smiled and Cyril considered taking a ship out to sea and never coming back.