Tattoos are just another language Connor and his brother speak. A language that can be seen by others, but never read, never understood. It is the language they try to express to the world outside what they feel inside, when only they truly understand it.
Connor clearly remembers getting their first tattoos. Going to a shop in Dublin, Murphy clutching a wadded drawing of a Celtic cross, Connor suddenly unsure, worried about the pain. They didn't speak of their nervousness. They were 18. They were men and men bore pain and didn't speak of it. In the end the tattoos did cause Connor pain, but not from when they were laid into his skin. The pain came later when he read them.
A tattoo to Connor felt much like continuously skinning one's knee, or maybe being spattered for hours with fine drops of hot grease. It was brief, endurable, nothing like the deeper pain Connor shouldered everyday. The burning guilt of his unconfessed sins.
Murphy had chosen the crosses that decorated their arms. A year later Connor chose the image of the saint that graced their necks. Not quite the figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the image had been stripped to represent all Saints, any Saint they might need to call on in this life.
They do what they can to live the lives of Saints. By day they do God's work, they live by a strict code of honor. But by night Connor sins in his mind--and sometimes with his body when the rumblings in his head become too much to contain.
To other people their third tattoos looked different. Veritas. Aequitas. But they were, Connor and Murphy, both for Truth and Justice. They were twins. They saw the world the same way. To Connor, it was as if the third tattoo was shared between them. Not two separate tattoos that marked each of them identically, as the first two had been, but rather something larger that joined them in a way deeper than before.
It was Murphy who broke the symmetry between them. As Connor saw it, Murph had sealed the disparity between them into the skin of his back with a tattoo not shared by Connor's body. Connor's mind filled with warring demons every night. Murph now proudly wore those battling demons on his back in brilliant dye that shouted Connor's own secrets back to him.
Connor's demons dream of sin. They make him long for the heat of Murph's skin pressed against his own. Those demons make Connor wonder if he could feel the difference between the blue stained areas and the pale bare skin. They make him think that he would be able to tell where the ink began if he could only touch Murph's skin with his eyes closed. The demons in Connor's head want to use Connor's tongue to trace the indelible scar on Murph's back to see if he can taste this new difference between them.
There is a new separation between the brothers. The demons, both visible and intangible, have made it so. Now Connor longs to sin, to find out where this transmutation ends. There is a line between them now and Connor wants to see the other side. Would Murph cry out as he came? Would he twist and writhe beneath Connor's ministrations, or bear it in stillness, the tension of it vibrating just under the skin that is the only thing that keeps them apart.
The indelible demons on Murph's back are a sign. A billboard that shows the parallel differences between them. It is in the language only they speak. It reads: Connor thinks, Murphy acts.
Connor thinks of the sins he would commit with his brother, but he only thinks. He will wait for Murphy to act, for Murphy to teach him a new language.