WHO: Kaden and Tragos WHEN: Thursday evening WHERE: The Hole WHAT: Ace communication from the Murphy boys WARNINGS: None
Their rotting house had a light on in the kitchen, Kaden eyed it from the other side of the street.
Every part of him felt like it was made of shouting. He was glad there wasn’t anyone who was going to ask him how he was because he wouldn’t have been able to explain it. Just that it felt like his whole body was shouting and his mind was going a bit numb from it all.
He turned away from his house and slipped through the chainlink fence instead. His best shoes squelched in the mud and he didn’t even care that he might be staining them beyond repair. Marcie had bought him these shoes.
Had she made vows? To a god like Aphrodite? Who was going to make her… do things? Do things and fake a faint to get out of them… and that had worked but… Kaden couldn’t help thinking about Tragos going back to work, dragging himself back to work after his concussion, way too soon.
And shooting Hecate, because he thought Ares wanted him to.
Maybe Luna was the lucky one. A faint wasn’t going to get Tragos out of doing anything he didn’t want to do.
Stupid stupid vows.
Kaden sat his screaming shouting yet silently despairing self down on the rotting tyre beside Sniper’s grave. The ring of willow he’d woven through the fence had completely come loose, probably in that big snow, and he hadn’t had much time to hang around home and fix it up, lately. But right now, finding a new branch of willow and cutting it to size and weaving it through the chains gave his hands something to do. Made him make something, and by the time he was done his hands were numb and cold, but he hadn’t had to think about anything else for minutes.
He didn’t know how he was supposed to walk into his home and pretend to be normal, though.
Kaden sat on the tyre and dug his elbows into his knees and hung his head in his hands, focusing on the ground in the dark because if he didn’t he was going to imagine the way Luna fell with her shorts unbuttoned and he might be sick, and he shouldn’t be sick here, on Sniper’s grave, on his little Hecate shrine (would she ever ask him to swear a vow? He didn't think so. One thing that drew him to Hecate: he’d seen her up close just the once, and then never again after that. She was a goddess of distance and right now, Kaden wanted so much distance, from everyone and everything till he could work out how he was supposed to exist in the world without wanting to scream.)
Something in the mud caught his eye, something unusually blue. He poked it with the toe of one dirty shoe.
And because it was another thing that would take his mind off everything, Kaden reached into the mud and pulled it out.
From the kitchen window, Tragos had seen Kaden walk past, reconsider, and disappear into the reeds past the fence. Fair enough too – he hadn’t said he was going to be home tonight so a light on could mean Cy as easily as it could mean Tragos. To be fair, he hadn’t known he was going to be home tonight till Laz had told him to piss off for a few hours and come back at midnight.
So, dinner. Chicken and vegetables, almost forgotten about while he was messaging Marcie. He sent Kaden a message too, when the food was done, but he didn’t reply, and after another ten minutes (and after he’d eaten his own food) he went out to look for him.
He wasn’t all that hard to find, just a little hidden by the reeds. If you knew where to look, anyway, and Tragos did. He stepped carefully through the mud and stopped above Kaden, keeping out of the beam of the streetlight so he could see what Kaden was looking at.
Tragos didn’t know what to say about the freshly positioned ring of willow. He thought it would be better if it wasn’t there… but sometimes Kaden got this look on his face so sincere that it killed him.
“What is that?” he said, at the thing Kaden held in his hand.
“It’s an eye of Horus." He thought so, anyway turning it in the light. There’s been a feather tangled up in it, but it was past saving after its time in the mud. “It’s a protection thing. Egyptian.”
“Where did it come from?” Tragos asked, and Kaden said “Egypt” very, very dryly.
But he did also point at the mud beneath the willow ring. It took Tragos a long time to reply. “This is your… Hecate thing, right?”
“Melpomene says she’s dangerous.”
Another nod. Yeah, Kaden had been there, thanks. “Maybe I want someone dangerous on my side,” he said, with a sharp look toward his brother.
He didn’t meant it. He didn’t want anything to do with any god, tonight. But remaking the willow ring had made him feel a little better. And he felt like being snappish and defiant at Tragos. It might even make him feel better to attack the boxing bag with him later. It probably would.
“You don’t know anything about Hecate,” Tragos said warily. “Why is there Egyptian stuff turning up here? Are you being watched by an Egyptian god too? You wanna get turned into a mummy?”
“The gods didn’t turn people into mummys,” Kaden said. “People did that to each other. To get to the gods.”
“Yeah. Well. I don’t like it. It’s suspicious.”
Maybe, thought Kaden.
But maybe he could do with a little protection.
“You ever think that maybe not everything is out to get you, all the time?” he asked.
Tragos looked at him, dry. “That’s how you get dead,” he said. “You want some dinner? It’s fucking cold out here.”
It was, too. Kaden reached out and used the chain link fence to pull himself up. Tragos looked at him; Kaden had been doing not so great, these last few months, but there was something about today that seemed worse. He chewed on his lip for a moment. “A got a few hours, wanna see if Marcie wants to catch a movie?”
For a moment, Kaden brightened. Yes. Yes. And then he thought, if she tries to hug me -
And his heart went fuck fuck fuck fuck no. And the brightness gutted out.
“Nah,” he said, and kicked a stone across the road, where it splashed into a puddle. “Let’s just watch one here.”
Something was definitely wrong. Tragos kept watching him as they made their way back toward the house. Kaden didn’t look at him, and his shoulders were hunched, and his hands stayed in both pockets of his hoodie, one of them a fist curled around the weird eye.
Alright… they’d eat dinner and watch a movie. Whatever was going on with Kaden, he’d get over it in a couple of days, Tragos was sure.
Mostly sure. And it wasn’t like he could do much about it anyway but hang around for the few hours he had, and make sure Kaden ate.
And if it was important... Kaden'd tell him, surely.