“What kind of name is Silencio?!” Jesus asked loudly, lookin at the small figure that was peering out from behind Chiu’s legs. Instantly there was a sharp pain in his side as Isabella harshly elbowed him, giving him sharp and disapproving look. “Oh, uh, I mean, my name’s Jesus.” He said sheepishly, turning back to the boy and nervously scratching the back of his head.
“I’m Isabella.” She takes a small step forwards towards the boy and almost instantly the new boy takes a step back, eyes wide and wary. Chiu without even looking reaches a hand out behind him and pats Silencio’s head comfortingly a few times. “... is he okay?” Isabella asks, sending a glance to their Sifu. Chiu hums lightly to himself as he turns the question over in his mind.
“Silencio has been through a great deal. I’m sure both of you can understand how startling change can be, but I can already tell that he will be great help around the orchard.” He smiles brightly and warmly, and Jesus can feel his mouth pinch into a disbelieving frown. Isabella meanwhile is already trying to coax Silencio over like a feral cat.
Jesus tries, he really does. But Silencio is just… unresponsive to any attempts he makes. Offers to play games, trying to sneak him some sweets from Chiu’s cabinet, even showing him some of the kung fu moves Chiu’s taught him. He sees the way the boy looks at them while they practice, a mix of envy and interest. Chiu’s promised to teach him as well, but he continues to have problems with him throat and nearly choking on his tongue - Chiu won’t tell Jesus or Isabella the details. ‘It’s not his story to tell’ Chiu says anytime they ask. /when Jesus had pointed out that even in Silencio wanted to tell his story he doesn’t have the means to Isabella had sent him a withering and disappointed glare that had hung over him, ingrained in the back of his mind for days.
He got Isabella in on his secret lesson plan one night, as Chiu went out to tend to some sprouts. They went through the forms Chiu had first taught them - Isabella with more ease than Jesus. She had been here longer than either Jesus or Silencio, and her muscles seemed to fondly remember each movement. Silencio had just watched them with intelligent eyes, but remained rooted to the ground when they attempted to invite him over to practice with them. Jesus went to go and pout about it in his room.
A handful of days later, maybe even a week, Chiu sent Jesus out to go and grab some fruit for dinner. He heard it first - the rustle of grass and heavy breaths. Peeking around a large mango tree his eyes landed on the small form of Silencio, carefully attempting to copy the various forms that Isabella and Jesus had shown him.
Jesus smiled to himself, and mindful of his steps and any noise he might make, retreated back into the trees to let Silencio have his privacy.
There was a loud crack as Chiu’s leg hit the side of the mango tree, a hand stretched out and perfectly catching the mango before it had a chance to hit the ground.
“It’s about knowing and predicting the effects of your actions.” He explained. “Too hard and too many will fall. Too soft and nothing will happen.”
The three students, children, nodded along to Chiu’s words. Silencio immediately hit the tree next to him, reaching out with lightning fast reflexes to snag the falling mango from the air. His eyes flicked over to Chiu, who nodded proudly at the boy.
Jesus looked at his own tree, sizing it up, holding a hand to it for a moment and testing the thick bark, the firm wood. In a swift movement he hit the tree with his leg. A moment later, some soft and wet landed on his head with a dissatifying squish.
“Well…” Isabella said between small giggles. “...it didn’t touch the ground.” He felt his face begin to heat up in embarrassment when his eyes landed on Silencio, who had a small smile on his face. The first time Jesus could recall his expression being anything other than carefully blank. It was a nice smile.
Jesus let himself laugh at himself.
“Does that mean it worked then, Sifu?”
Jesus was woken in the middle of the night to the creaking of floorboards. His eyes snapped open, looking around frantically, mind reeling back to dark places and cursed alleyways of his past. A shadow. A shadow in the doorway. The figure shuffles forward into a beam of moonlight, streaming through the window, and it falls upon Silencio’s face.
All the fight and adrenaline seeps out of Jesus, swiftly replaced with concern.
“Silencio?” He whispers as the boy comes closer. Silencio has his arms wrapped around himself, shivering, and his forehead is slick with sweat. “Did you… did you have a nightmare?”
There is a pause that feels like years and then Silencio nods jerkily.
“Are you trying to find Chiu?” Silencio waits and then shakes his head in a no. Jesus gives a small sigh and waves the boy over, scooting over to make room on his bed.
Silencio sits on the empty space for a moment, and then slowly leans over to rest his head on Jesus’ shoulder. Like he is testing the waters. Silencio brings his arms around Jesus, tucks his legs up onto the bed, and just hugs him. Just hugs him and shakes like a leaf and cries in every way except with tears. And Jesus just holds the boy, holds his brother.
He had never noticed how gangly the boy is, like a newborn colt with legs too long for it’s small body. Like a…
“You’re like a spider monkey.” He whispers into the night.
“Dang it dude I knew you were going to fall.” Jesus curses as he runs towards the form of his brother, curled up on the ground. He had been working on the top of the fence, like they had seen Chiu do. Practicing the new mantis attacks that Chiu had started to teach them and that Silencio had taken quite the shining to. Silencio can’t shout in pain, but Jesus can see the way that his eyes are creased and mouth held tight. Jesus is somewhere between concerned and exasperated.
“What did you hurt?” He asks, and Silencio winces and gestures down to his leg, which is being held stiffly on the ground. “Do you think you can stand?” His brother makes an effort before falling back down with a small huff. Jesus can’t help but to roll his eyes as he crouches down on the ground.
“Alright come on, spidermonkey.” He can feel Silencio’s eyes on his back. “Climb up dude. You aren’t gonna get back home easily with a broken leg. And I don’t want to wait and watch you hobble on over.” Long arms come around Jesus’s neck and he adjusts so that his hands are firmly holding onto his brother’s legs before Jesus rises from the ground, turning towards the house.
“I bet if you just asked Chiu he would teach you how to do that. Safely. And then I wouldn’t have to be here to keep an eye on you.” There’s the sound of his feet on the grass. “But don’t even think about doing this kind of nonsense alone. Isabella’s going to be angry enough as is without you doing this without a buddy to watch out for you. She’s going to be playing nursemaid with you until this is healed, you know that right?” Silencio rests his chin on Jesus in a pout. “You brought this onto yourself!”
There’s a sudden shift of the small body on his back and Jesus has to do some careful shuffling to stay upright.
“Woah, woah, what are you up to?” A mango is shoved into his face in reply. “You’re getting hungry back there?” The mango is nudged closer to his face. “For me? I don’t exactly have a spare hand to use.” Another movement of the mango. Jesus raises his eyebrows and stretches his head forward slightly, taking a small bite. “Dang you always know how to pick the ripe ones.”
The mango disappears and there’s a small sound of Silencio taking his own bite before passing it back down to Jesus for a taste. Jesus doesn’t like mangos, not nearly enough for the amount he eats here, but something about sharing this mango makes it sweeter. Together, the brothers finish the mango just in time to arrive home.
Jesus groans as his body impacts the ground again, achingly feeling his bruised ribs. He hardly recognizes the man before him, with an expression so totally morphed by fury, with hair a stunning white, like freshly fallen snow, and longer than he’s ever seen it be worn. But he knows the tilt of that nose. The crease between those eyebrows. He knows his brother.
Even when his brother is beating the shit out of him.
“Silencio.” He calls out to the man before him, with fists dripping with Jesus’ blood. Those cold eyes hold no recognition, and it lets Jesus know that he has failed his brother. He takes a moment to look at his own hands, clenched into fists. But he is tired of fighting. Tired of hurting those that he loves. He let’s them uncurl, and raises his eyes back to the face of this brother. “Silencio please….” He closes his eyes and tilted his head back. “...make it quick.”
He expects to feel pain. Instead he hears a small thump as Silencio falls onto his knees, seeming to look at Jesus for the first time, eyes wide with fear and shame and panic as his hands turn to his own chest and begin to almost feverishly claw at it as if he can dig up his heart, rising higher and higher until Silencio has his own hands at his throat.
Jesus is over there in a moment. Firm but gentle hands grabbing Silencio and bringing his hands away from harming himself.
“Brother…” He whispers, and feels Silencio’s chest hitch as tears begin to stream down his brothers face, mouth open as if to sob. But there is no noise to come out. Silencio comes closer and his gangly arms and legs wind around Jesus, holding him close, holding onto him for dear life as if he is afraid of falling into some kind of abyss.
Jesus sits there and holds his brother as long as it takes for him to feel safe again.