Disclaimer: I don't own Eragon or anything associated with the Inheritance Cycle.
Claimer: I, SussieKitten, own this plot and the story. Borrow or steal my plot, my original characters (Aksel) or story and I will report you. I also own my version of Saphira/Thorn's human appearances.
Warnings: Male and female homosexuality. Heterosexuality. Swearing or strong language. Mentioned Character Death – Genuine (Paolini's) Character. Implied Torture. Gore and Blood – murders are messy business, I'm afraid. Mentioned Hurt/Injuries – mentions of prior injuries on a character. If any of this disturbs you, click on the "back" button. I won't tolerate any flames.
A/N This is a sort of apology chapter to all you who are waiting impatiently/patiently for Obsession, Now I've Seen It All and/or Just Another Ordinary Day updates. Updates are coming, but I'm afraid I can't say when.
This chapter is entirely unbeta'ed. Hopefully I didn't butcher it up too badly by beta'ing it myself.
This will be a story centred on Murtagh - a character piece if you will. Because of that, I need to lay a lot of ground work, so please don't scream because Eragon hasn't arrived yet. This will be an M/E story, so Eragon will arrive with time. It's just that every character that I introduce will have their place, and so I need to find Eragon's before he can enter. And while I'm on that subject; Eragon and Murtagh are not related in this story.
This is a little side-note to those who have read Now I've Seen It All. The Tornac in this story is very different from the one in Seen It All. They have completely different roles, though they are both close to Murtagh. This Tornac never has, nor will he ever be Murtagh's lover.
That said; I hope you enjoy the story.
Part One; Arsenic
The room was bathed in darkness, but he could still smell it; still feel it.
It was in his hair, dripping and sliding down his neck, leaving a vivid red trail that would be tough to wash off later. It was all over his hands, staining them, coating them. They would never be fully clean again. It had gotten in his mouth. He could still taste the copper, the pain, the venom that had run though that man's veins. It was all over his clothes, ruining them, making them cling to his skin.
It was all over the walls; splotches of ruby, vivid trails of crimson. It would have to be painted over.
Blood. It was everywhere.
He looked at his hands. It had cooled and was drying, but he could see the vivid red colour it had once possessed. The blood. His father's blood.
The man he had just killed.
A sob latched itself in his throat, making him choke. The air was so full of it; the smell of death and decay. How long had it been?
He slid his hands over his face, straining the flesh even more crimson. He gripped his hair tightly and bent his head. The voice was still there; screaming at him, yelling at him. He screamed back.
The screams slowly turned into sobs as his voice left him. He curled onto himself and cried.
That's how the police found him the next day.
BOY MURDERS FATHER IN COLD BLOOD – See the pictures and the exclusives on pages 2-4.
It had been all over the news. He had been the boy who had killed his father. Boy. Even though he was eighteen, they still called him a boy.
Morzan Teytor was found murdered in his own home, his son soaked in his blood. The trial will be held next month. The Police Chief is certain of the boy's guilt. See the entire interview on page 6.
It was everywhere. He couldn't get away from it. Even in the holding cell, that was all he could hear. He was kept in isolation. They were worried that he would go nuts. But they didn't know. They knew nothing.
A psychic evaluation has been requested of the boy's attorney. The results have yet to be released to the press.
He didn't care. He knew what the tests would say. He was schizophrenic, he was bipolar, or maybe he was a psychopath? Either way, it wouldn't matter. He knew his fate; he would get locked up. It didn't matter what his father had done to him, it didn't matter that the blood the police had washed off him that night had been partly his. It didn't matter that his body had been riddled with bruises and cuts. All that mattered was that he had killed his own father.
The school reports that the boy seemed healthy.
"He was always quiet," says one of his previous high school teachers.
His classmates report that he was always "hanging by himself and didn't like to do stuff after class".
He had planned to continue living with his father even after applying to college. His classmates report that Teytor appeared to have been a loving father, even though the boy seemed to hate him. One of them said the following; "I wasn't surprised that he killed his father. He certainly seemed to hate him enough."
He sneered. What did they know? Nothing; the same as with the police. Everyone always ignored what was right in front of them. That was how the human's mind worked. He didn't wear the abuse on his sleeve and his father never showed any signs that he was abusing him either. That was the beauty of that man; he was a skilled liar. Too skilled. He hadn't inherited that trait. That's why he lost it that one night. He hadn't been able to take it anymore.
No photos of the boy himself have been released to the press. The trial will be closed from the public eye; only the sentence will be reported to the media. The police say that this is to give the boy some privacy.
They still continued to call him a boy. The shrink they had sent had been more considerate; she had at least acted like they were equals. But he knew better. He was beneath her. He was a monster; a young man who had killed his father for no apparent reason.
Well, he wasn't helping matters either, he supposed. He refused to talk. No one would listen to him anyway, so why should he? He had talked to the shrink and to his attorney, but not to the police. They wouldn't understand anyway. They had already judged him from the moment they stepped inside the house and saw his father's body. What good would it do for him to plead innocent? Nothing.
The trial has been on-going for the past week. The public is still eagerly awaiting the results from what is called "the most brutal murder in the 21st century".
He didn't feel flattered at all, but at the same time, he didn't care. The police portrayed him to be a psychopath, and they wouldn't let him stand up and defend himself. Despite the fact that his shrink had said that he was mentally stable, he could see it in the jury's eyes. They thought he was crazy, unstable, and certainly a cold-blooded killer. They were going to say that he was guilty.
And still he said nothing.
The Jury Has Reached Its Decision! – Boy Gets A 12 Year Sentence For The Brutal Murder Of His Father. See more information on pages 2-3.
His attorney had wanted to protest, but he hadn't let him. There was nothing that could be done. The next trial would say that he was guilty, and so would the next. He would take his sentence and see it through.
He was just old enough to go into a real prison; juvenile detention was for teenagers. Apparently he was old enough to go into an adult prison, but young enough to be called a boy.
On his first night inside he had crawled into a ball and cried silently. Cried for finally being free and for losing his freedom at the same time. And as his tears hit his hands, he could see them turning red and tainting his skin.
Blood, so much blood. And it was never coming off.
At the age of twenty-four, Murtagh Morzanson had been in prison for nearly six years. He still woke up every night with a scream ringing in his ears and the smell of his father's blood choking him.
Murtagh hated to look into the mirror. His hair had been relatively short when he had gotten in. It had been a mess that had fallen around his eyes and ears, but now it was long. He kept it back in a low ponytail, the tip of it tickling the back of his neck. He had refused to cut it any shorter.
His eyes had become cold and dead during his stay. They were still the same hazel colour, but duller somehow. Darker. And while his hair stayed dark brown, every time he looked into the mirror he saw something else. He saw cold grey eyes, greyish brown hair and a sneer. He saw his father.
So he stopped looking into the mirror. He didn't care that he got stubbles; he shaved only when he wanted to.
Murtagh had no visitors except his attorney. The only friend he had ever had had moved away when they had been twelve and he hadn't seen him since. He forbade his mentor to come. Tornac was too sick anyway, and seeing Murtagh would only make him worse. Tornac was therefore the only one he called.
The inmates didn't know what he had done, why he was there. They knew he had killed someone; Murtagh was in a high security prison after all, but they didn't know who. The guards only called him by his convict-number and said nothing that gave away his identity.
When Murtagh had been convicted, the attorney had somehow fixed him a deal. Since the trial and murder had been so well covered, though Murtagh's name had never been mentioned, he would not be well received in prison. His attorney had then made sure that the guards would address him differently. But because of this deal, he had been shipped straight to the state prison after the trial rather than to stay in the holding cell for another month. But even so, his stay in Urû'baen Maximum Security Prison had been relatively boring.
Until that day, that was. On his 1979th day inside, everything changed.
"I'm getting out?" Murtagh spoke huskily, softly and yet clearly. He didn't speak much, and so his voice stayed that way.
"You'll be out in two months," his attorney Hrothgar Darr said with a slight hint of excitement.
"You're getting out on good behaviour," Hrothgar said and smiled.
Murtagh just blinked. Good behaviour? Well, he hadn't started any fights and hadn't fought back when the guards had mocked him. Even though they had kept his identity secret, they had mocked him whenever they could. And he had followed every protocol to the letter...
Murtagh still wasn't sure. They had nearly given him twenty-one years, but since he had just been eighteen and hadn't been found guilty of premeditated murder, he had just gotten twelve. But he had seen the look on the jury's faces, the glimmer in the judge's eyes...they didn't trust him, and they never would.
"You'll have to stay out of trouble for two years, but then you'll be a free man."
Murtagh laughed hollowly. "I will never be free, Darr," he spoke softly. "Never."
The other man didn't answer.
The last two months passed slowly. Murtagh dreaded the time when he would have to leave. He knew what would happen when he stepped outside; he would be branded as a murderer and a lunatic. There was no life for him outside in the 'free' world.
Murtagh shaved himself completely the day before his release and cut his hair so that it fell just over his shoulders. He still tugged it back into a ponytail, but it was a change nonetheless.
Murtagh stepped out into the sun and towards his attorney and his car with 2040 days in prison under his belt. He looked different, and he didn't need to see the look on Hrothgar's face to confirm it.
His old clothes still fit him, as they had been very loose when he had come to the prison as an eighteen year old. But now the jeans hugged his legs and the t-shirt hung just perfectly around his shoulders. The jacket had been much too small, so Murtagh had simply tied it around his waist. He slowly slipped into the car and waited.
The ride started off in a tense silence. Murtagh leaned back and closed his eyes. Behind his eyelids he could still see the red of spilt blood.
"I got a job for you," Hrothgar said softly.
"You didn't have to," Murtagh spoke quietly, not opening his eyes.
"It's a part of your recovery program," Hrothgar replied, sounding both grave and amused somehow.
Murtagh didn't comment. He should have guessed.
"You'll be working in a bar," the other man continued. "I was able to get you the night shift, but the manager said that your hours will change with time."
"Is that a safe place for someone like me?" Murtagh murmured softly.
"A bar? You were cleared of all charges against your mental health; you shouldn't get scolded for working in such a place."
Murtagh opened his eyes. He stared at his attorney blankly. "The judge will not think so."
"The judge doesn't hold any power over you anymore," Hrothgar said quickly, angrily.
"The police then," Murtagh said and looked away.
"I've spoken to the district chief and he approved," the other man said in an almost whisper.
"The judge agreed to move you to a different city. You'll be living in Carvahall from now on," Hrothgar said and took his eyes off the road to look at Murtagh quickly. "I think you'll like it."
Murtagh didn't. He had a very bad feeling, one very akin to the one he had had the night he had come home and ended up with doing the thing that still haunted him in his sleep.
As Hrothgar drove on, Murtagh continued to dread what the future could bring.
Murtagh stood in his apartment, looking around himself with a slight disinterest, though it was much better than he had feared.
It had a small living room with a kitchenette, a bathroom and a bedroom. Hrothgar had sent his old things to him; the little that Morzan's family had let him have. Mostly it was old books, old school supplies, clothes that no longer fit him and small tokens he couldn't even remember owning.
Hrothgar had told him that Tornac had bought or donated everything else in the apartment; the bed, the table and chairs, the kitchen supplies and small oddities. The TV had apparently been Murtagh's. Murtagh was surprised it still worked. Tornac had even bought him a laptop.
Murtagh sat down in an old couch that Tornac had donated to him. It was worn in and smelled of his old friend. He closed his eyes and, for the first time in six years, didn't see blood.
He woke up screaming at 6 a.m.
Murtagh shot up in bed and tried to calm his racing heart. He hadn't screamed in six years. He hadn't felt comfortable enough or alone enough to let them out. But here, inside his own apartment where no one could hear him, the screams came.
He got up and got ready for a new day. The years in prison had taught him to be efficient and quick, so he was always ready in record time. That was one of the ways he had avoided getting raped in the showers.
Murtagh felt oddly uncomfortable as he stepped into the living room. There were still boxes around in the room, and it still smelled stale and unlived in. He hurriedly changed into something that fit, grabbed his keys and walked out.
He ended up walking around the town a few times. It was a small town, one where everyone without a doubt knew everyone. Murtagh already felt uncomfortable. People with surely notice that he was new, that he didn't fit in. He dreaded shopping already.
He walked around until the shops started to open. Then he bought a pastry from a small pastry shop before entering a clothing store. He excited a half hour later, his arms loaded with bags and an uncomfortable scowl on his lips. He was already starting to dislike the town.
He made a quick pit stop at the apartment before going into a hardware store to buy other necessities. Then he did his groceries before walking back.
Around him the town was truly starting to wake up. There was a college there, something that surprised Murtagh, and the students were starting to mill around on the grounds by the time he was done. Other people were starting to walk around, and he could hear the laughs of children coming from the local primary school.
Murtagh continued to feel out of place.
When Tornac visited, Murtagh wasn't only surprised; he was caught off-guard. He quickly ushered the man inside and sat him down.
"I'm not breakable, Murtagh. I can manage just fine," Tornac protested.
"But your cancer," Murtagh countered.
"I've had many treatments during your time inside," Tornac said and smiled softly.
Murtagh found himself unable to keep his eyes off his friend as he spoke. Tornac still had the wrinkles around his eyes from smiling. The dirty blond hair was still in place, despite the several chemotherapies. Murtagh suspected it had been allowed to grow in-between sessions. There were specks of grey in it now, though. But Tornac's grey eyes were still alive and sparkling. Even though his skin was white and pale from the illness, he still looked as alive as ever.
"You're still not cured, though."
"I had a relapse," Tornac said quietly. "But the doctors think that they got all of it this time."
Murtagh clasped his hands together, not caring that his hold was so tight that it was starting to hurt.
"But you live here, now?" Murtagh asked.
"That I do," Tornac smiled. "There's a speciality clinic right here in Carvahall, so after you...went away, I moved here."
He looked away.
"I've been getting a lot of help these past six years. I might win this fight yet, Murtagh."
Murtagh smiled sadly. "If anyone can win over cancer, it's you, Tornac."
Tornac laughed merrily. "That's the spirit!"
Murtagh raked his hands through his hair tiredly. It was slightly greasy; he needed to shower soon. He was still not used to being able to shower whenever he wanted to.
"How do you find Carvahall so far?" Tornac asked.
Murtagh looked up. He couldn't lie to his friend; he had never been able to. "I don't fit in, Tornac. This is a small town. People are actually genuinely nice here! This is no place for me, for a criminal..." For a murderer.
"Just give it time, Murtagh. Just give it time."
Murtagh looked down at his clenched hands. He examined the tiny half-moon impressions his nails had left behind. None of them bled, but if he stared hard enough, he could imagine that they were.
The doctor before him nodded. Murtagh frowned and crossed his arms over his chest.
"Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not as uncommon as people think," the doctor said and scribbled something down on a pad.
Murtagh shook his head softly. It was wrong, just wrong. "But -"
"People who have witnessed murders sometimes struggle afterwards with nightmares and visions," the doctor said and held out a prescription. "This should help you sleep better at night."
Murtagh pursed his lips. "Witnessed? What if it was the murderer that was having the nightmares?"
The doctor shifted slightly. Murtagh could tell he was uncomfortable.
"That is not too uncommon either, especially in the cases where the murderer feels remorse."
Murtagh smiled sadly. He stood up, not taking the prescription out of the doctor's hand. "And if the murderer doesn't?"
He left the doctor to stare after him in shock.
"You should have taken the prescription," Tornac said tiredly.
Murtagh looked at his friends while he rubbed his arms. Tornac had visited just in time to hear him wake up from another nightmare.
"I don't need meds to sleep," Murtagh said quietly.
"You're waking up to hear yourself scream," Tornac scolded.
Murtagh pursed his lips and looked away. Tornac sighed.
"You should go back and get another."
Tornac let out a loud sigh of frustration.
"By now every doctor will know that they have a murderer living in their town," Murtagh spoke huskily.
"You told the doctor?" Tornac shook his head and slid tiredly into a chair. "But you know he can't pass the information on; doctor-patient confidentiality. And if he does, you can prosecute him."
Murtagh laughed humourlessly. "And who would take a case with a murderer standing in the place of the offended?"
The older man sent him a disapproving glare.
"I'll be fine, Tornac."
Tornac did not look convinced. But that was alright. Murtagh wasn't convinced either.
Murtagh had been staying in Carvahall for a week when he got a call from his new boss. The woman on the phone had told him that he could start working the following evening. Murtagh wrote down the time and location of the bar. He needed to get there early. The boss wanted to meet with him first, no doubt to inspect him.
Murtagh could already see the job slipping through his fingers. Who wanted to hire a murderer?
Nonetheless, he dressed in what he vaguely remembered to be passable attire for a bar and made his way over there with time to spare. He looked up at the bar, checked that it was the right one, and stepped inside.
He was instantly hit with a feeling of home. The atmosphere radiated of comfort and familiarity. It was a place to get hammered, sure, but it was a local and well-loved place. Murtagh once again felt out of place.
"Can I help you, sweetheart?" the girl behind the bar said and smiled flirtatiously.
"I'm looking for Arya Elve," Murtagh said nonchalantly.
"Oh," the girl looked disappointed. "She's in the back."
Murtagh gave the girl a slight nod before going in the direction she had pointed. He knocked on a slightly ajar door and entered when a distinctly female voice answered.
She couldn't have been much older than himself, he noticed. She was a very pretty woman with soft white skin and ink black hair. Her green eyes twinkled up at him from behind her desk.
"Mr Morann, I presume?" she said and stood up.
Murtagh nodded and shook her hand. The first thing his attorney had done was to get him a new last name. The murder case was still very fresh in many people's minds, so Hrothgar and Tornac had wanted to give him a slightly fresher start.
She gestured for him to take a seat.
"Thank you for coming over on such short notice. I would have called you earlier, but we had an incident and I misplaced your number," she shook her head.
"That's quite alright," Murtagh replied, his voice still husky from his time inside. Or maybe he had simply grown up, and his voice would stay that way? He couldn't be sure.
"Do you have anything against working from nine to three?" Arya asked and wrote something down on a piece of paper. "We're a little short-staffed during the last shift here."
Murtagh shook his head soundlessly.
"Great! And you can start tonight?"
"Yes," Murtagh replied quietly.
"Good. Now, since you don't have a serving licence, you'll be cleaning tables tonight," Arya said and stood up. "I've scheduled for you to get your licence next week, if that's alright by you."
Murtagh just nodded.
"Brilliant. Now, let me introduce you to the rest of the staff."
Murtagh blocked out the rest of her speech. He could read lips just fine; he would still catch what she was saying. But until she said something really important, he preferred his silence.
The stuffiness inside the bar was already starting to get to him. There was too much noise, too many voices...
He needed to save the little sanity he had left somehow, and silence was the only way he would be able to do that.
Murtagh woke up with bile itching in his throat and tears pricking in his eyes. He ran to the bathroom and threw up.
The sounds and smells had really gotten to him that night. After his shift he had been so tired that he had fallen asleep the moment his head had hit the pillow. His dreams had been excruciatingly vivid.
He flushed the toilet and stumbled to the sink to wash the taste out of his mouth. He could still feel the blood staining him, seeping into his skin and into his soul. He forced the images down as he rinsed his mouth.
He shut off the tap and ran a wet hand through his hair. He looked up and into the mirror by mistake.
The screams and voices rang in his ears. The face before him melted into that of that man. Then Murtagh saw grey skin, hollow eyes and decaying flesh. And blood, lots and lots of blood. He turned around and threw up again.
Murtagh continued to work at the bar. It was not a place he would have picked to work in himself, but he knew it was probably his only shot.
Slowly he started to build up a new routine. He would shop for groceries once a week, usually on Thursdays and he showered every other day. He had finally gotten his serving licence and was allowed to work behind the counter. But if asked, he would rather clean the tables and the bar after closing.
Tornac came to see him once a week. Once a month he had to get in touch with his parole officer, a kind man he only knew as Officer Ajihad Black. Hrothgar would call occasionally to ask how he was and Murtagh would answer politely. He wondered why the older man still kept in touch with him, though.
He didn't make any new friends in his apartment complex or at work. If he saw Arya on the street he would simply nod politely. She would smile back. There was someone on the staff that wouldn't let him be, in her own way. Nasuada Black was her name. Murtagh didn't bother to tell her to go away. But then again, there were a lot of things he didn't bother to do.
"Ah, so this is here you hide when you're not working."
Murtagh sighed softly. He heard her sit down beside him on the bench. He just continued to stare ahead. Around them the park was buzzing with life; birds singing, laughing children and their scolding parents alike. It was late autumn and people were walking out of the church across the street. The Sunday mass was apparently over.
"You just sit here?" Nasuada asked softly.
Murtagh pursed his lips. He just continued to stare at the church, though his gaze shifted slightly to the graves around it. He hadn't been to his father's funeral. He didn't even know where the man was buried.
"I just sit here," Murtagh replied after a long silence.
"During these two months I have wondered why someone like you are doing in boring little Carvahall," Nasuada said and shifted in her seat.
"I know I don't fit in."
"Oh, I wasn't saying that," Nasuada said. Murtagh could feel her staring at him. "I mean, Carvahall is so full of noise and chatter, and I don't think I've ever encountered a quieter guy than you."
"My mentor, he lives here," Murtagh said, though it didn't quite answer her question.
"So you moved here for his sake?"
Murtagh shifted to look at her. Nasuada was a beautiful young woman. Her soft black hair was held back in a short ponytail and her dark eyes never wavered from him. She seemed soft, but he knew she was tough. You couldn't work in a bar without showing some strength, and Nasuada had plenty.
"...You could say that," Murtagh said and looked away again.
"Does he need your help? Is he sick, maybe?" Nasuada asked, sounding almost eerily insightful.
"He's getting better," he said and watched a leaf get ripped from a tree by the wind and slowly fall to the ground. Slowly, slowly. He felt a stab of pain when he noticed that it was red.
"So that's not it?"
He didn't answer.
"Murtagh, you're avoiding my questions," Nasuada said and sighed. "Do I make you uncomfortable?"
"No," Murtagh said and pushed himself slowly to his feet. "But my answers would make you uncomfortable."
Nasuada stood as well. "Murtagh?"
"It was nice talking to you," he said nonchalantly. "I'll see you at work."
He walked away before she could even utter another word.
"Whatever happened to that young boy you used to play with?" Tornac asked one afternoon.
Murtagh curled his hands around the warm cup. Tornac had dragged him out to have lunch an hour earlier. Tornac was finally starting to look a lot better. His hair was almost at the same length that Murtagh could remember from his childhood.
Murtagh knew who he was speaking of, but didn't want to admit it. He wasn't sure if he could remember the boy's name anymore.
"That red haired, gangly kid," Tornac said and took a sip of his cup of tea. "He would always drag you out to play soccer."
Murtagh licked his lips. "We lost contact after he moved. I haven't heard from him since."
"What was his name, though?" Tornac frowned slightly. "Thorn something, I think..."
Murtagh just shrugged.
"Maybe you should get in touch? Getting out is about starting anew, Murtagh."
"I don't remember his last name, Tornac, let alone where he moved to," he said softly.
Tornac's eyes twinkled merrily.
The cup stopped halfway up to his mouth. Murtagh frowned. "Have you found him?"
The older man laughed. He drank the rest of his tea and put enough money to cover their meal and the tip on the table. Murtagh drank the last of his coffee and threw on his jacket. Tornac led him out of the diner and across the street.
"Where are you taking me?" Murtagh asked, surprising himself slightly as he did so. He usually didn't ask questions that were going to be answered later anyway.
Tornac just winked.
Murtagh stuffed his hands into his pockets. He didn't wear gloves. He didn't like the feel of something covering his hands.
The older man led him to the college. Another hour had struck and plenty of students were leaving the building, chatting about the lectures they had just been to. Murtagh watched it all with only a mild hint of interest. He could barely remember what it was like, studying, having people around him constantly that challenged him. He wasn't sure if he could ever do that again.
He hadn't taken an education in prison. It didn't suit him, he had decided, and that way he could also be more alone.
Tornac stopped and turned to face him. He nodded towards the college, silently asking him to look. Murtagh sighed and did so.
If Tornac hadn't brought his childhood friend up, Murtagh would probably never have noticed him. But now he did. A tall and muscled redhead was walking with his arm around a blonde girl. She was laughing and he looked happy. Even from across the street, Murtagh could imagine Thorn's golden eyes sparkling with happiness, like they had done the few times Murtagh had come along willingly to play.
Murtagh looked away.
"His name, as you might remember now, is Thorn Marron, and that's his soon-to-be fiancée Saphira Drake," Tornac said. "He's majoring in criminal psychology, she in photography."
Murtagh blinked. He looked over at Tornac sceptically. "You've talked to him."
"Briefly," Tornac admitted. "I bumped into Thorn in the hospital. It was during my time in a wheelchair. He was kind enough to help me and we started to talk," he paused. "He remembers you."
His hair got into his eyes as he bowed his head. The dark strands were clouding his vision and ticking his nose. If he hadn't respected Tornac so, he would have left already.
"He's better off just remembering me," Murtagh said in a near whisper. "I'm not the boy I used to be."
Murtagh could remember scuffles, loud laughter and sarcastic comments. He remembered Thorn standing up for him when the other kids had mocked him once. Thorn had been his rock back then, but then he had left and Murtagh had been alone.
He smiled sadly. "If you meet him again, tell him I said goodbye," Murtagh said and held out his hand to Tornac.
Tornac sighed sadly, but took it nonetheless. Tornac laid a hand on Murtagh's shoulder, grasping it tightly before letting go. Murtagh nodded and left.
"So, you're having nightmares?"
Tornac had booked the appointment for him. He had tried to get out of it, but Tornac had looked so disappointed that Murtagh had caved. So there he was, sitting in another shrink's office, waiting for another judgement to be passed.
He wondered what this one would say he was.
"What are they about?" the woman asked.
Angela was her name, according to her nameplate. Angela Vitch. She had soft red blond hair that was brushed back in frizzy curls. The colour of her eyes weren't quite visible behind her glasses.
"My father's murder," Murtagh replied huskily.
His voice was going to stay like that, he noted. But it didn't bother him. He was used to it.
Angela wrote something down on her pad. "What do you see?"
"Blood," Murtagh replied honestly. "My father screaming at me, his gray face as he lies dead on the floor, more blood..."
Angela looked up. Her glasses got a stripe of white from the light above them. He couldn't see her eyes anymore.
"How long have you been having these nightmares?" she asked softly.
"Do you ever see the killer?"
Murtagh looked at her blankly. "No, just the blood on my hands." It's also hard to see yourself in your dreams.
She nodded gravely. She took off her glasses and looked at him. Blue green; that was the colour of her eyes. More blue than green though.
"Have you been prescribed any medication before?" she asked.
Murtagh shook his head. He didn't deserve any medication, and he didn't want any either.
"How long ago was it that your father was murdered?" Angela asked, folding her hands on top of her pad.
"Six years," he replied again.
"Did they catch the killer?" she tilted her head.
"Have you been to see him, found out why he did it?" she asked with a small frown.
"I see him every day in the mirror," he told her quietly. "And I ask him the question every day. I still haven't gotten an answer."
Angela's eyes widened minutely.
He left the room with a new appointment for the following week and a crumpled prescription in his hand. He shredded the paper and threw it away, not even looking back to meet the surprised gaze of the person in the waiting room.
Murtagh looked away from the college whenever he would pass it. There were times when he felt eyes on him, but knew it was all in his head.
His nightmares continued. He had thrown up twice since the last time. He still didn't regret throwing away the prescription.
He still went to the park whenever he could. Snow was starting to fall heavily as Christmas approached. He still stared at the church and the graves when he came there.
He didn't know that voice. If he didn't know it, he could ignore it. The night had been particularly rough, and he didn't wish to speak to anyone. He dreaded his shift at the bar later.
Snow crunched under the boots as whoever it was came closer. Murtagh closed his eyes and wished he was somewhere else. The dull colour of the sky didn't reflect as harshly against his eyelids. He almost couldn't see the blood that usually was there.
"Murtagh." Not a question anymore; a statement.
Murtagh looked up. His eyes widened.
Before he knew what was happening, he was pulled out of his seat and into a large bear hug. The man that was hugging him pulled back and smiled at him.
"It is you!"
Murtagh wished he hadn't come.
"How have you been?" the redhead asked and tugged him back down onto the bench, brushing away some snow to sit down himself. "It's been, what, twelve years?" Thorn laughed.
"It has," Murtagh replied softly. "I've been alright. You?"
Murtagh couldn't help but to listen as Thorn rambled on about how he had moved to Dras Leona, and how he had decided to go to Carvahall College because it had the best course in criminal psychology. Murtagh almost appreciated the irony. Thorn told him more about Saphira, how they had met at the student campus and how they had been dating for four years.
"But you, you have gone quiet over the years," Thorn finished with a smirk. "We've switched roles."
Murtagh's face hardened slightly. Maybe they had.
"What have you been doing for these last few years?" Thorn asked.
It pained him that Thorn actually seemed genuinely curious, like he actually still cared. He didn't want to answer. Murtagh knew that would only bring unhappiness.
"I graduated from high school, took some time off, and then moved here," he paused. "Tornac suggested this town to me."
"It truly is one of the best places in Alagaësia," Thorn said with a grin. "So you still keep in touch with Tornac?"
"Yes," Murtagh said huskily. "He helped me find a place here."
The redhead grinned. "I'm glad you finally got away from your old man. I never liked him."
Murtagh looked away. So Tornac hadn't told him.
"I got away from him, alright," Murtagh said, feeling surprised when he recognised a hint of bitterness in his voice.
"What happened?" Thorn asked with worry plain in his voice.
Thorn was rendered silent for a minute. "How?"
Murtagh leaned forward and clasped his hands together tightly. "He was killed."
Murtagh stiffened when he felt a hand pat his shoulder comfortingly. "I'd say I was sorry -"
He turned to look at him. Thorn frowned slightly when their eyes met.
"Don't...don't say you're sorry," Murtagh licked his lips. "I'm not."
Thorn gave a half-smile. It looked strained. Murtagh couldn't blame him.
The wind blew past them. Murtagh left with a promise to call the other later and a number crumbled at the bottom of his pocket.
He wondered if he would.
"Hello again, Murtagh."
Murtagh didn't like her false cheerfulness. Didn't she remember their last meeting? Or maybe that was why she had to fake her happiness.
He stared blankly at the shrink. She looked back softly.
"Have you had any nightmares since our last meeting?" she asked.
She was fiddling with the pen in her hand. She was nervous.
The fiddling stopped. She wrote something down. "How often do you have nightmares?" she asked afterwards.
"Every night," Murtagh tilted his head.
"Even with your medication?" Angela asked suspiciously.
Murtagh just blinked. "I threw it away."
Angela sighed. "You need to sleep properly at night, or your body will break down," she said gravely. "I'll write you a new prescription."
"I don't want it," Murtagh said coldly.
Angela looked up. She looked at him over her glasses. He wondered what she thought of him. He certainly wasn't helping his case, he knew that. And still he continued to talk.
"I managed without it in prison."
Angela pursed her lips. "You didn't tell the guards or the medic, did you?"
"Nothing to tell," Murtagh said nonchalantly.
"Murtagh," she let out a sigh of frustration. "You need to take better care of yourself."
"I don't care," he said and looked away.
Angela wrote something new down. He didn't see it, but he could hear the pen scratch against the paper.
"Tornac thinks very fondly of you. If you refuse to do this for your sake, then do it for him."
He looked at her sharply. Angela removed her glasses and let them dingle between two fingers.
"Having cancer isn't easy, Murtagh. He's been to see me ever since he got here," she spoke softly. "That is all I can and will tell you."
"But we aren't here to talk about Tornac," she put her glasses back on. "We're here to talk about you."
He couldn't see her eyes anymore. She flicked her pen. She was nervous again. People still saw him as a monster.
"You said the last time that you see your father's murderer in the mirror every day," she began calmly.
"Yes," he interrupted. He hated it when the shrinks sounded so patronizing. "I see myself; my father's killer. It's all in my file. I killed him when I was eighteen, and I still see myself in the mirror."
Angela nodded softly. "But you don't know why you did it?"
"I..." Murtagh looked away. "I don't know why I caved that specific night."
Tornac said that he was improving. Murtagh didn't see it.
He had been living in Carvahall for three months. During that time he had been to the shrink four times, the doctor once, worked in the bar for nearly three months and had called Thorn twice. He had only seen Thorn once, though. Thorn was busy with school, and Murtagh liked to pretend he was busy too.
He didn't want to meet him again so soon.
"So, what were you in for?"
Murtagh looked at the other man suspiciously. He had short orange-red hair with a forelock that nearly covered his eyes. Grey eyes twinkled up at him. Murtagh pursed his lips.
"What makes you say that?" he asked softly.
Orrin Sudra worked with him on the nightshift. It was the last hour before closing and not many were left in the bar.
"I was in for drunk and driving myself," Orrin said, not quite answering the question. "I got six months. Even so, you pick up on the ones that have been inside."
Murtagh put away the bottles on the counter and rubbed away the moisture that had collected under them.
Murtagh continued to clean up a rather nasty spill from earlier that night. He was sure that was going to leave a stain.
"I don't want to talk about it," Murtagh replied finally.
"Ah," Orrin nodded. "That bad, huh?"
Murtagh didn't comment. Orrin walked away.
Murtagh wanted to swear. It was a new feeling. Or rather, the rebirth of an old feeling. He just wanted people to leave him alone.
"Was Orrin right?" Nasuada asked carefully, softly, like he was an animal posed to strike. "Is that what you didn't want to tell me?"
He didn't answer.
"People here don't mind ex-cons, Murtagh," Nasuada said gently. "Orrin isn't the only one in town that had to go to prison for a short while."
"It wasn't short with me," he said simply and walked around the counter to collect bottles from the tables around in the bar.
"I can tell."
He glared at her. It was a strange feeling. He was actually annoyed.
"You're uncomfortable around people, you don't speak a lot...I've seen it before," Nasuada bit her lip.
"No, you haven't," he said sternly.
He turned back to his work. She didn't bother him again that night.
A/N This has got to be, hands down, my darkest fic to this day. Dark fiction wise and psychology wise. It's also very...mature. Serious, if you will. There will be some fluff in this one, just a few sweet moments between a few characters, but it will mostly be darker stuff.
I just started to write this on a whim, not quite knowing where it was going, and then this happened! I couldn't help it though; I really fell for this story. It allowed me to write a different Murtagh, and that is something I always enjoy. And then it grew and just continued to grow. And here it is.
I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. There are many more to come.