Here’s the fourth part of the (The Monkey) Corruption of Finnrick. For February, I’ll be posting love themed stories for the four Fridays of the month!
The Monkey, Part 4
Morning brought discomfort, leaving Finnrick’s head light, and his body heavy as bricks.
Tillie slept quietly atop him, bringing warmth to the chilly cave, and a blush to his cheeks. His chest tightened with realization. He remembered everything. Tillie and he had–
His settled his hands on her shoulders, touching the fabric of her favorite blouse. A quick glanced confirmed she remained dressed, a volatile mixture of disappointment and relief churned within him.
Tillie’s kiss lingered on his lips in fresh memory. That part had happened, without doubt. She breathed against his chest, giving him a glimpse of the memory of their lips were joining. He felt drunk just thinking about it.
Finnrick admired her with no distractions, no protests from Mattis this time.
“Mattis,” Finnrick said aloud. That memory lingered too. Mattis had come and tried to kill him. He had come back to take Tillie from him, and he had failed. He gave her a squeeze and sat up. He carefully leaving her to rest on their bedrolls brought together to form a respectable bed. A stoic silence hung over the cave, while a morning chill nipped at him. He instantly regretted standing, but he felt the need to know the truth.
“Mattis.” Finnrick called into the cave. “Can you hear me? I know you’re not dead, well, not gone at least.”
A sensation tugged at his insides. A cold presence told him the call had not gone unanswered. He knew Mattis well enough to tell when he was listening and when he wasn’t.
“Mattis, come back. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say any of those things…” Finnrick called into the darkness of the cave. “But I can’t let you kill me either. Who will protect Tillie if I’m dead?”
A pair of eyes appeared on the floor before him. Even steeped in shadow, Finnrick recognized them. Mattis always had a dim expression, revealing his lack of comprehension to what he was saying.
” It is you. Come on, please. I need to apologize.”
“For what…?” Mattis’ voice hung in the air like a fog.
“For letting you die.”
“I got myself killed.” Mattis said. His form came from the floor and settled into a cross legged sit. “Don’t go blamin’ yourself for that.”
“But, I have to. I could have stopped it. I chose not to.” Finnrick flushed a hand on his chest. “I’m not going to even try and deny it. I wanted you to die so I could have Tillie, and now–“
“You have her.” Mattis said with a sad smile. “Are you happy now?”
“No. I’m not.” Finnrick framed his temples with thumb and forefinger, his mind burned. “Something inside me is trying to say I am happy, but it’s a lie. “
“I understand mate.” Mattis tapped on his chest. “It’s in me too. It’s why I died.”
“What?” Finnrick’s eyes widened.
“What? You thought I can’t protect myself? I heard your voice. It told me to die. So you could have Tillie. Said I was always in your way, says I’m the reason she never noticed ya.”
“And you believed it?”
“Not a word mate,” Mattis said, “You wouldn’t look at Tillie like she was some sort of prize. You’re the smart one of us. That’s stupid thinkin’ I tended to do. But it distracted me enough to get me killed.”
“Mattis.” Finnrick reached out, but his hand went through him. Mattis’ body was made of wispy smoke.
“Silly monkey. I’m dead see? Your doubt, your hatred, that’s what made me whole see?” Mattis smiled broadly. “Like this, I’m just a memory. You have to control me. Force me to work to protect you and Tillie. Or I’ll just fade away.”
“But I couldn’t–“
“You have to.” Mattis pointed at Tillie. “You heard her last night. She even gave herself to you to try and bolster your soul.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Of course you didn’t. Silly monkey. You were always spineless.” Mattis chuckled. “You regained control enough to turn her down, even if it’s what you wanted. That’s what makes you the better man. But she would’ve if you let her.”
“Some ‘better man’. I can’t even save my friend.” Finnrick lowered his head.
“I told you. I killed myself. Shoulda had my eyes open. Focusing on the dangers at hand rather than putting my heads in the clouds.” Mattis shook his head. “You have to let yourself lose control. You need to control me. Or everything is lost.”
“Give in to it. You can’t fight it anyway, silly monkey. Just let it become you… before it swallows you whole.” Mattis’ form began to melt into the floor.
“Wait!” Finnrick clawed at Mattis, but it only made him Vanish quicker. “Come back damn it, I still need your help.”
“Then order me back. I’ll be there with bells on.” Mattis’ voice gave way to silence.
Finnrick’s hands were icy cold against the stone floor. His eyes wide and haunted.
“Finn?” Tillie’s voice sounded small behind him.
He glanced back. She watched him with a puzzled look.
“But you saw him last night? You saw Mattis right?”
“But he was right here. He said–“
“I know what he said. I don’t need to have seen him to know that.” Tillie said, her voice calm. “He probably told you to give in to it. He’s right.”
The color fled from Finnrick’s face.
“What do you want more than anything?” Tillie’s eyes bore into his soul. “Mattis to be alive? Me? What does your heart say?”
“I don’t know,” Finnrick said. More of the same, him being an open book.
“Then that is more reason you need to accept this. Maybe it knows better than you do.”
“It…? What do you know that I don’t?” Finnrick winced.
“Come back to bed.” Tillie beckoned to him. “The sun just rose, and we’re going to need more rest. Neither of us can afford to get sick.”
Just like a dream, everything played out just as he had hoped it would. Tillie looked out for him and cared for him.
“Finn, come on. I’m cold.” she said with a hint of playfulness.
“Why should I give into it?” Finnrick’s temper flared. “It killed Mattis. Are you saying I should just accept that it was what needed to happen?”
“That’s not what I meant.” Tillie scrunched up her nose.
“Then what did you mean?” Finnrick tightened his jaw. “I felt like I was drowning. I had to watch as it said terrible things about you, about Mattis. I can’t accept–“
“You need to.” Tillie spoke, her voice filled with deadly calm. “That wasn’t some sort of monster. That was you. It was a part of you that is in everyone.”
A chill slithered through Finnrick.
“The more you deny it, the stronger it will get. You need to consume it before it consumes you.” Her expression softened. “Do you trust me?”
” I do.” He walked to her in a daze.
“I won’t let you do anything bad. Just sleep for now, all right?” She wrapped her arms around him gently and pulled him close.
Finnrick closed his eyes and let himself drink in her warmth. Tillie had the right of it. There was nothing wrong with taking what he wanted if it was offered. And right now, all he wanted was her support.