A/N: So, I have a new obsession. My boyfriend, who's painfully Irish, introduced me to the Boondock Saints just a couple of weeks ago, and I haven't stopped watching it since. Those twins are so real, so emotional, and I love them to death now! So this one's for all the Irish boys out there, and just letting ya know that Ireland is my new favorite country! Luv ya!
Disclaimer: No, I don't own Conner, Murphy, or anyone else in the Boondock universe. Duffy owns all that. We just get to play with them for a while, as long as we put them back when we're done ;)
It was their fifth day in Boston when Conner began to think that something was wrong with Murphy.
He was in a particularly good mood that morning, undaunted by the fact that the heater in their new apartment was less than substantial and there was absolutely no hot water. At the moment, Conner was near ecstatic at the fact that they even owned an apartment. It was tiny, nothing more than a kitchen, a bathroom, and a miniscule bedroom with one mattress. The walls were stained and covered with holes, the windows let in a great deal of cold air, and the roof leaked, but Conner knew their financial situation better than Murphy did, and he knew for a fact that if they wanted to eat, this was the best they could afford. He just didn't have the heart to tell his brother that without a cheap flat, they would either be forced to sleep on the streets or stand on the corner and beg for food, as they didn't have enough money for a decent apartment and a grocery bill.
So Conner and Murphy McManus were the proud owners of their first tiny, dilapidated apartment in America. Although they had been far from wealthy in Ireland, Conner always liked to look at their home as small, but extremely cozy and friendly. He knew from the moment he saw this flat that it was not going to be cozy or friendly……or even warm for that matter. But he also knew that he had to be the optimist, for Murphy's sake. They'd find a job, they'd make a living, and as soon as they could, they'd get a better place to live. For now, though, Conner knew he could make due.
Drying his soaking hair with a towel, Conner strode from the bathroom humming a good natured tune, ready for a day full of job hunting and grocery shopping. He entered the kitchen, fully prepared to see his twin brother with his feet propped up on the kitchen table, chair leaning back on two legs, half way through his second bowl of cereal with the crossword puzzle in the daily paper nearly finished. This is how Murphy had been at breakfast almost every day since secondary school, so it came as a slight surprise to Conner when he found Murphy sitting with all four legs of his chair on the ground, slightly hunched over, a full bowl of cereal in front of him and a newspaper absent from his hands.
"Mornin', sunshine," Conner said, ruffling his brother's hair affectionately as he went to the fridge to pour himself a glass of milk. Murphy mumbled a barely audible reply, his glazed eyes fixed on the uneaten bowl of cereal in front of him.
"What's the matter with your krispies?" Conner asked, striding over to the table and leaning over Murphy. He motioned to the bowl while downing his entire glass in one swig.
"Dunno," Murphy shrugged, trying to stifle a yawn. "Jus' not hungry, I guess."
Conner gave his twin a skeptical look as he placed his glass unceremoniously in the sink. He couldn't recall ever hearing those words come out of Murphy's mouth. As far back as he could remember, his brother was always hungry. Never fail, morning, noon, or night, Murphy was always thinking about his next meal.
"Feelin' all right?" Conner asked, moving to feel his brother's head only to have his hand smacked away. He studied Murphy's face carefully, noting the dark rings around his eyes and the worry lines creasing his forehead. "Cause it looks as if you didn't sleep a wink last night."
"I slept some," Murphy replied, averting his eyes. "It's so fucking loud here at night, you know?"
"Well, if you keep tossing and turning as you did last night, neither of us are gonna be sleeping at all," Conner said with a joking smile, leaving the kitchen to hunt for his jacket. "Now, I've got our whole day planned out. There's a market not five blocks from here, so I figured we'd do a bit of grocery shopping, get enough food to last us a couple o' days, and then go on a little job search. Alright?"
"Fine," was Murphy's reply, and Conner couldn't help but note how unhappy and hollow his voice sounded as it reached his ears. Conner reentered the kitchen, shrugging his own jacket around his shoulders while tossing Murphy's to him.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Conner stopped and asked once more as Murphy headed towards the door. "Put your jacket on, it's fucking cold outside."
"I told you, I'm fine," Murphy replied, putting his jacket on and opening the door. "Now get your arse movin' if you want me to do this, aye?"
"Aye," Conner nodded, moving out the door and fixing his brother with a wary look. He didn't bother to lock the door behind them. It's not as if there was anything to steal.
It was their eighth day in Boston when Conner realized that something was definitely wrong with Murphy.
Sunday was the only day of the week that Conner got up early. Church was their main priority, of course, and it had been the first thing they'd looked for upon arriving in Boston (the second being a pub). After mass, however, Sundays belonged to Murphy. Saturday was Conner's day, and was usually spent either drinking large amounts of alcohol, chasing women, or, after a particularly hard week, reading. Sundays, however, were spent completely unlike any other day of the week. Murphy would hunt out some forgotten lake, or quiet little park, or secluded area where he could go and "just live and breathe and forget everything for a while", he liked to tell Connor. Connor loved accompanying him on these trips, because he claimed that this was the real Murphy, the one hiding behind the tough Irish hard-ass exterior, the one who could love and cry and laugh and smile and hurt and just fucking feel.
This Sunday, however, Murphy collapsed onto the mattress after church and showed absolutely no intention of moving. Ever.
"So, nature boy, what kind of adventure do we have planned for today?" Conner asked, throwing his coat in Murphy's direction and leaning in the doorframe. Murphy shrugged, shaking his head.
"I'm kinda tired today, Conn," he said, rolling over and propping his head on his arm like a pillow. "I think I might just take a nap or something."
Conner shook his head, entering the room and sitting on the mattress next to Murphy. His brother's eyes were closed, and before Murphy could protest, he placed a gentle hand on his forehead. Warmth radiated towards Conner's palm as Murphy opened his eyes, watching Conner intently. Conner looked at his twin and swore he saw something flicker in his blue eyes for a brief moment that was just asking, begging, for something that Conner couldn't place.
"Okay, something is definitely wrong with ya, Murph," Conner said, taking his hand off Murphy's forehead and watching his brother's every move. "It's Sunday, for Christ's sake, and you wanna take a nap?"
"Oh, fuck off," Murphy said, rolling away from Conner and glaring at the window. "I have a headache. I need some fucking aspirin and a cigarette."
"Yah, and if we had money, I'd go get ya some," Conner said, sighing, slightly irritated. "It's not like I've had a cig in three days either."
"I didn't fucking say that you had to go get me some," Murphy retorted, still keeping his back turned towards his brother. "So if you're gonna sit there and be an ass about it you can get the hell out, cause I'm tired."
"Yah, well if you're gonna lay there and be a pansy about this, I'll go look for a damn job rather than waste my time here," Conner spat, surprised at how angry his own voice sounded. Something about the mood, the apartment, Boston itself, was making Conner extremely irritable, and Murphy about ten times more. "If ya haven't noticed, we're not exactly raking in the money here, Murphy."
"Like hell I haven't noticed," Murphy rolled over now, and Conner could see a spark of something in his eyes. "I notice every time I go to the cupboard and there's nothing but half a box o' cereal. I notice every time I need a smoke and can't have one, and every time my head feels like it's gonna fucking explode and we don't have any aspirin. Jesus Christ, I notice every time I walk into this damn flat and have to sleep on this hard mattress and stare at these fucking walls all day long!"
Conner stood then, towering over Murphy on the mattress, his hands clenching as his temper rose furiously. He felt like he needed to hit something, anything, just to release some tension.
"Maybe if ya showed just a bit of support here and there, we'd have a damned job by now!" Conner was yelling, and Murphy stood, wincing briefly from the pain in his head but his eyes still fiery. "All I hear is your bitchin' and complainin', and I'm sick of it!"
"Oh, and I wasn't along with you at every one of your stupid job hunts?" Murphy's voice was raised as well, and he was advancing quickly on Conner. "Wasn't I standing right there at every place we've gotten turned down at? It wasn't my idea to come here, Conner, so don't fucking push this all on me!"
It was then that Conner snapped. It wasn't Murphy's words that bothered him, though, more than it was the sound of Murphy's voice: angry, irritated, ready to defend himself or just ready for a fight. He wasn't even aware of his fist coming back and taking a swing at his brother, nor did he realize that his knuckles had connected with Murphy's jaw until he saw Murphy reel backwards into the wall. His arm tingled with the sudden release of frustration.
"Jesus Christ!" Murphy yelled, touching his jaw and wincing. He looked up at Conner, his gaze deadly, his eyes practically screaming that he was going to throw a punch as well, but Conner didn't move. He realized that if he needed this release of frustration, Murphy needed it even more.
Murphy stood there, glaring at him for a full twenty seconds before launching himself at his twin, a blaze of dark-haired, bright-eyed fury. They fell to the ground, a tangle of arms and legs kicking and punching and just thrashing each other until suddenly, Murphy fell backwards and collapsed onto his side, violent coughs wracking his frame.
"Murph?" Conner asked, bracing himself on one elbow and catching his breath while watching his brother with concern. "Hey, you okay?"
Murphy tried to nod, tried to lift himself up onto his knees, but coughs and tremors shook his shoulders and forced him back to the ground. Conner's brow furrowed as he crawled over to his brother, placing a timid hand on his back.
"Hey, man, take it easy," he said, watching Murphy struggle to sit up. "Just stay still for a minute. Breathe."
Murphy took a deep breath, but that seemed to worsen his coughs as he leaned back against Conner. Conner rubbed his hand in slow circles across Murphy's back, steadying him as his spasm slowed and eventually stopped, leaving Murphy exhausted and slumped against his brother.
"Whoa," Conner breathed, trying to catch Murphy's gaze as his twin avoided his eyes. "What the hell was that?"
Murphy shook his head and leaned deeper into Conner's chest. He mumbled something inaudible, and Conner moved away slightly, forcing Murphy to look at him. He was surprised to find that he hadn't noticed the circles around Murphy's eyes had gotten darker, bigger, and the eyes themselves had taken on a glazed, empty appearance. His cheeks were flushed and his hair was sweaty and matted to his forehead.
"I think you're sick, Murph," Conner said, and Murphy smiled weakly at him, shrugging.
"I've been dealin' with it okay," he said, and Conner looked at him, perplexed. "Been feeling like shit for a couple of days now, didn't wanna bother you with it."
"If you're sick, why didn't ya tell me?" Conner asked, chuckling guiltily. "I wouldn't have pounded ya to a bloody pulp had I known."
"No 'fense, Conn, but you needed that," Murphy smiled, lifting himself up onto his knees. He sighed, studying Conner's face as Conner had studied his own. "You could use some sleep, as well."
Conner grinned fondly at his brother. Here Murphy was, doubling over with coughing fits, sleep deprived, sick, and he was still worrying. Conner shook his head amusedly as Murphy fought to stifle a yawn, failed to do so, and gave a small, coy smile.
"Oh yah? You're one to talk," Conner said, standing and offering a hand to Murphy, which he took graciously. "We're both hitting that mattress right now, and not moving for the rest of the day."
"What about the job hunting?" Murphy asked, trudging over to their mattress and throwing himself face first into it. He said something else, but it was muffled as his face was pressed firmly into the pillow.
"I figure we can afford a day off," Conner said, lowering himself next to his brother and lying on his back, propping his head up behind his arms. The truth was, Conner knew that this was probably the only day off they could afford. Their food supply was running short, and if Murphy was sick, there was going to be a need for aspirin, a doctor visit, just some cough medicine, for Christ's sake……
Murphy mumbled something into the pillow again, and Conner knew he was already drifting off to sleep. He was surprised, though, to find his own eyelids getting heavy, the room growing darker, the warmth of his brother next to him making him warm and sleepy……
It was darker when Conner woke up than when he had gone to sleep, and he briefly wondered if Murphy had closed the shades to block out the harsh sunlight. As he began to wake up, Conner realized that, not only did they have no shades, nor did the sun ever shine in Boston, but it was 12:45 a.m. and he had proceeded to sleep all day. Propping himself up on his elbows, he noticed that their two blankets were covering him only, as Murphy was vacant from the bed. Rolling over to where Murphy's body should have been resting, Conner noticed that neither the pillow nor the mattress was warm. Murphy had been up for a while, it seemed.
Conner sat up completely, rubbing his eyes and gazing around the tiny room. Although it was the middle of the night, there was a rather bright glow coming for the behind him. He turned to face the window, and was surprised to see Murphy sitting on the floor, staring out at the street below with heavy lidded eyes. He had nothing but boxers and a T-shirt on, and Conner noticed that his arms were wrapped securely around his frame and his shoulders were shaking. Damn heater went out again…… he thought, feeling himself shiver at the chill.
"Hey, Murph," he said, rising and walking over to his brother. Murphy didn't acknowledge his presence, just kept staring and shivering. "What're ya doing? It's fucking freezing over here."
Murphy didn't respond for a long while, until finally an almost violent shiver wracked his body and he turned to face Conner. His eyes were bright with unshed tears, and he looked absolutely miserable. "Couldn't sleep."
Conner kneeled next to him, wrapping an around Murphy's shoulders and feeling him shake. "Hey, it's okay. You still feeling sick?"
"Mmhmm," Murphy mumbled, leaning into his brother's warmth. "Couldn't stop coughing. I went into the bathroom for a while. Been sittin' here ever since."
"Why didn't ya wake me?" Conner asked, rubbing his brother's arm gently, trying to warm him up. "Lord knows I've slept enough today."
"Didn't wanna wake you," Murphy replied softly. "You need sleep."
"So do you," Conner said, giving his brother's shoulders a squeeze and standing. "C'mon, let's get ya to bed. You've got one hell of a cough, and sittin' her freezing your arse off isn't gonna help any."
Murphy nodded and stood, following Conner slowly over to the mattress. He sank down, buried his head in the pillow, and curled his legs up instinctively against the cold. Closing his eyes, he felt Conner place a blanket over him, then felt his twin sink down next to him. Tears welled up in his eyes again as Conner turned to face him, his features etched with concern.
"Murphy, what's wrong?" Conner asked, snuggling deeper into his own blanket. Murphy closed his eyes and sniffed, feeling the familiar tickle in his throat rise up again. He swallowed hard, succeeding to force his cough down for only a moment before succumbing to another, weaker fit.
"I hate this," he mumbled softly after he was finished, his voice strained. Conner suddenly felt a pang of guilt……Murphy hated it here, he was miserable, and Conner had been the one who insisted they come here.
"I'm sorry, Murph," he said, bringing his arm out from under his blanket to rub his twin's shoulder gently. He watched helplessly as Murphy's eyes filled, on the brink of spilling.
"It's so loud," Murphy whispered harshly, and for the first time, Conner realized how loud it actually was. People yelling on the street below, cars screeching, music blaring……Conner felt his own heart start to ache for their home back in Ireland, for the peaceful, green hills, for the smell of their ma's cooking, for their warm beds……
"So fucking loud," Murphy said through gritted teeth, letting his tears spill over. Conner wrapped his arm tighter around his brother, pulling him into his chest and feeling Murphy grab the front of his shirt tightly. Murphy burrowed his head into Conner's chest, trying to escape the noise, the cold, everything, just so he could sleep. He felt a sob rise up and force its way out of his throat, forcing with it another cough, another sob, another cough……
"Shhhh," Conner cooed softly, stroking the back of Murphy's head. "Shhh, calm down, it's okay. Don't get yourself worked up, Murph. Just relax……"
Murphy forced himself to take a deep breath, calming himself so he could get his coughing under control. His breathing evened out and he relaxed, curling up against Conner's side and searching for his brother's heartbeat, something steady and comforting to listen to. His eyelids drooped and Conner's voice was the last thing he heard before dropping into oblivion.
"I'm so sorry, Murphy. So sorry."
Conner stayed with Murphy the entire next day, watching his brother's condition worsen with each passing hour. He coughed almost continuously, unless he had exhausted himself so much that he was sleeping a fitful, fever plagued sleep. He was shivering like mad, despite his sweat soaked body, his matted hair, and his flushed cheeks. Conner didn't stray far from his side, unless he was using the bathroom or making something to attempt to feed Murphy. They didn't talk much, just laid on the mattress in silence, Murphy curled against Conner, his head on his chest, and Conner with his arms protectively around his brother, blankets wrapped securely around them both.
"Conn……" Murphy mumbled about 4:00, waking up after an hour nap he'd taken after an especially long coughing spell. "We need a job."
Conner chuckled slightly, resting his chin on top of Murphy's head and watching as the dark hair ruffled with each breath he took. "Do we, now? I don't think you're in any condition to be prancing around Boston lookin' for a job."
"Aye," Murphy muttered, shifting slightly and yawning. "But we're running out of food."
"Just let me take care of that, eh?" Conner said, and Murphy moved his head to look at him, attempting to raise an eyebrow.
"And is that what you're doin' now?" he asked, the corners of his mouth twitching into an almost-smile. "Cause it seems to me that your lazy arse is still in bed at 4 in the afternoon."
Conner smiled, moving to sit up and prop himself against the wall. "Well, I can't very well leave ya here like this. Besides, I have a couple of dollars left. When ya get to feeling a little better, I can run to the store, get us a box of cereal or two, some cough medicine for ya maybe……"
"We can't afford cough medicine and you know it," Murphy said, shifting out of Conner's arms and sitting, hunched over with the blanket pulled tight around his shoulders. "We can barely afford food. We need a job, Conner."
"I know we do," Conner said. "But ya don't except me to leave you here, do ya?"
"I'll be fine," Murphy said, rubbing his eyes tiredly. Conner was surprised at how young he looked when he was sick. "I'm a grown man, I can take care of myself. You need to go tomorrow, we can't afford to waste anymore time."
Conner nodded, knowing he had no other choice. "Aye, I'll go tomorrow, then."
Conner searched unsuccessfully for a job for three days, each time returning home and having to meet Murphy's hopeful eyes, having to shatter his hope for another day. Conner hated returning home after these days, opening the door to find Murphy sitting at the kitchen table, attempting to look cheerful and failing miserably; Murphy bedridden, so exhausted he could hardly lift his head; Murphy sitting at the window, meeting Conner's gaze with a piercing look that spoke a deafening message: I'm sick, I'm cold, I'm hungry, and I'm homesick. I hate it here, and I'm absolutely miserable when you're gone. Please……
Please take me home.
Every night Conner would lay awake with guilt, for bringing Murphy into this, for dragging him here and forcing him to live like this. But at the same time, he wanted nothing more than to beat this, to succeed here and show Murphy that life wouldn't be so bad anymore. He was determined to find a job, to make some money, to get some food, and to finally buy Murphy cough medicine, because each one of Murphy's coughs tore at his soul.
His brother was breaking, slowly, painfully, and it was all his fault.
Murphy woke slowly on the fourteenth day in Boston, stomach growling, head pounding, fingers itching so badly for a cigarette and throat constricting with the threat of another coughing fit. He reached his hand out to wake Conner, because he'd stopped feeling guilty and started realizing that he needed Conner to get him through this. His hand hit the empty mattress with a thud, though, and he opened his eyes to see the bed deserted, save himself.
He lay in silence for a while, waiting for the click of the door opening and the practically silent way Conner entered the house after a day of job hunting. He always woke up at this time, although he wasn't exactly sure what time it was. The sun, if it was out, was always shining directly in their window, filling the room with a bright, grayish light.
Gray, Murphy thought with a frown. That's what color Boston was. Ireland was green, bright green, luscious green, full of life. Boston was gray, dead, empty, lifeless…….
"Murphy, wake up!" Conner burst through the door, causing Murphy to jump slightly and lift his head in surprise. He watched as his brother ran into the room, cheeks flushed from excitement and nose tipped red from the cold. He was smiling from ear to ear and practically jumping with energy. "Wake up, Murph, this is great!"
"I'm awake, ya arse," Murphy mumbled, rolling onto his back. "Now what's so damn important you have to go about throwing all of Boston into a frenzy?"
Conner's smile grew as he sat on the mattress next to Murphy, bouncing from excitement. "I got us a job."
Murphy grinned, pushing himself up with a wince. "No shit. Where……and you got us a job?"
"Yes, us, as in you and me," Conner said, and Murphy's grin grew wider. "There's a slaughterhouse not far from here, looking for two new employees. I begged for an hour, Murph, a fucking hour, and they finally gave us the job. I start tomorrow, you start asap."
"That's great, Conner," Murphy said, sinking back down to the mattress and smiling. "That's just great."
"Feelin' any better?" Conner asked, and frowned slightly as Murphy shook his head. "You've been sleeping?"
"All fucking day," Murphy mumbled, turning on his side again. Conner nodded.
"Good, you need rest if you're gonna get better," Conner said, patting Murphy on the shoulder and standing, heading towards the kitchen. "Gotta get you up and working."
"Yeah," Murphy said, frowning and shivering again. After two weeks in Boston, resulting in his illness only getting worse, he was beginning to wonder if he was ever going to get better. He could imagine himself two months from now, sitting on the same mattress, in the same blanket, coughing, shuddering, miserable……
Wiping tears from his eyes, Murphy tried to relax again. He'd have to get better, eventually. He'd force himself to be well again……or he'd have to give in. Let Boston take his soul, his health, his home, his everything……make him curl up and die of a broken heart.
Murphy chided himself for being melodramatic. There was Conner, after all. Conner would get him through this as best he could, and if he couldn't……well, he'd sure as hell die trying. And that's what Murphy fell asleep to: the reassurance that Conner was there, always protecting him, mixed with the guilt that Conner would sacrifice everything just for him.
But really, Murphy thought as he drifted into unconsciousness, wouldn't he do the same?
"That's 40.43, sir."
The cashier's voice broke through Conner's foggy mind and snapped him back to reality, where he was standing at the checkout line in the market. He could buy a little more food this time, thanks to the last paycheck that he'd received. When Murphy was better, they'd make twice as much, and maybe then they could afford some luxuries. Some chocolate, maybe, Conner thought as he handed the cashier a 50 bill. Or a pack of cigarettes……
"Here's your change, sir."
Conner blinked, whirling his head around to face the young girl that was ringing him out. She was holding a lump of cash out to him. He looked at her in complete surprise and disbelief.
"Change?" Conner asked, staring incredulously at the money in her hand. "Are you sure? I gave you fifty……"
"And your total was forty," she finished, shaking her hand impatiently. "Now here's your change."
Conner stared at the money a little longer, barely believing what he was hearing. Suddenly, he broke into a smile and, in a moment of pure elation, ran behind the counter and pulled the cashier into a bone crushing hug.
"Change! I have change! Do you know how fucking exciting this is!" Conner yelled, pulling away from the girl and watching her shocked expression. "Do you know what this means?'
The girl opened her mouth to speak, irritated and obviously ready to yell, but Conner was running away from the counter as fast as he could, dashing down aisles, nearly running over carts and old ladies pushing them, until he reached his desired location.
"Cough medicine," he breathed. For the first time in the month they'd been there, he could afford cough medicine. Grabbing two boxes of a generic brand, the cheapest they had, he couldn't wait to return home and show them to Murphy. After all the pain, all the sleepless nights, the coughing fits, he could finally help his brother, give him something to ease it all.
And for the first time since they'd moved to Boston, Conner knew that they were going to be okay.
So there it is, folks! Drop me a line and tell me what ya think, please! Hugs and kisses!