Mauve Satin and Polished Mahogany

Disclaimer: Not mine… but if you want to believe they are, hey, no skin off my back.

Author's Note: Boondocks fucking rules. Make everyone you know watch it… I have. And please do leave a review. Please do be honest. Come on, I can take it.

And, by the way, if anyone has any idea where they are during that ironing scene, could you let me know.

Summary: A long-ish one shot as to Connor's thoughts the night following the 'ironing scene.' Bad language (of course). No slash!

Sleep was a foreign idea that night. It shouldn't have been; his exhausted body begged for the soothing black embrace, but his mind refused to slip into peaceful black unconsciousness. He told himself it was just the throbbing in his leg that kept him awake, but he knew it wasn't true. His thoughts raced and the ache grew more prominent.

Sighing, Connor opened his eyes to the darkness, waiting for the shadows that swam across his vision to vanish. He pulled himself up to the edge of the mattress, running his hand over his hair and muttering a curse. Ignoring the protest of his leg as he applied weight to it, he rose, stepping slowly from the room.

A flare of pain stabbed through him every time his right foot touched the ground, but he forced himself to keep going. The stiffness would only get worse if he didn't move it and in the business they were in now, he couldn't afford to limp.

Connor came into the front room, fighting the instinctive urge to hop. Shit, he'd swear his leg hurt more now than when the bullet was ripping through it.

'Who the fuck was he?'

His eyes fell on Rocco, sound asleep on the over-stuffed sofa. Stress and fatigue had won, easing the Italian into so deep a slumber that he hadn't so much as rolled over or turned his head. Connor was envious of his peace.

Rocco's bandaged hand was hidden beneath the thin blanket, four fingers tucked in neatly around the gauze.

The man had started with him, aimed for him first. Rocco had been the target – not Connor, not Murphy. But the Italian claimed he didn't know him; that he'd never seen him before.

Connor remembered Rocco's spiel a few days previous; how he knew everyone, had names, addresses, phone numbers. Well, his 'knowledge' had proven useless when it was most needed. How could he know everyone except the man who was sent to kill him?

A flare of anger wrapped around the pain, choking it. Connor bit his lip hard, deciding he had best move on – this wouldn't solve anything.

Wincing, he strode into the small side room where his brother dozed. Murphy slept fitfully, a quiet reprise not finding either brother.

Connor sank into a wire-frame chair beside the bed, stretching out his legs before him. He loathed the degree of agony ebbing from his calf – he should be able to control it better than he was!

'Get it together, you fucking sod.'

The night was fast slipping away, though the darkness around them was yet absolute. Murphy muttered something in his sleep, drawing Connor's attention.

His arm was out of the blankets, crossed over his chest. Connor could see there was no fresh blood staining the bandage. Good.

Fingers curled gently, the Aequitas tattoo still visible in the dim light. Aequitas surrounded by soft, padded satin. Pale mauve. Polished mahogany covered Murphy's legs ending just below still fingers. Mahogany loomed over his face, peaceful and serene, waiting to close and seal its mauve satin lining. The open casket waiting through the hymn to close.

Connor started out of his reverie. His breaths rasped fast in his chest and his legs kicked out violently as he escaped the dream. Whispering a curse, he reached down to the fire in his leg, the pain helping to clear his head and return him to reality.

He fixed his gaze on his brother, listening to his even breathing, watching the steady rise and fall of his chest that confirmed life.

Connor rubbed his eyes. They'd made it. They had all made it. Shit, did he need a drink.

He saw them stepping out onto the porch. A man stood across the street – just an ordinary man, but for some reason they froze. There was something about him, something akin to sirens and warning bells.

His body tensed; he felt Murphy tense beside him. The man whipped open his jacket, almost seeming to move in slow motion, raising two pistols in the same breath.

Connor drew his gun, sensing Murphy do the same, both sweeping them up over Rocco's shoulders. The Italian was in the way, always in the way.

There was a long moment as the earth sucked in her breath. A moment of anticipation that spread through all of nature. Then hell overtook them and screamed.

He fired.

Connor's first shot missed, he knew it missed, but the next two slammed home, rendered useless by the man's vest. Murphy fired beside him; he sensed each pull of the trigger, each recoil, each blast of hot lead. Rocco dropped to his knees, scrambling for his weapon.

Plaster exploded, white dust filling the air. His view distorted – he saw as in a fun house mirror, through a church's stained glass, in the deep cup of a wine goblet.

He fired.

The pistol was part of him, rounds destroying everything. Murphy fired, their shoulders nearly touching. There was a roar.

Slugs scratched the mirror's surface. Rocco screamed, gun falling from his hand, body tumbling from the porch.

He fired.

The distortion grew worse, the lens getting thicker. The roar swelled in crescendo. Hell screamed.

He saw Murphy fire beside him, felt him jerk back the trigger. He saw Murphy's body snap around at an impact, felt him topple from the alcove.

His heart froze in his chest. He stopped breathing. Bullets broke the fun house mirror, riddled the stained glass with jagged spider-web cracks, shattered the wine goblet. His heart stopped, but he fired.

Hell roared. He stood alone, plaster and bricks and wood torn apart. Hell roared and he fired.

Liquid flame seared through his leg and his body recoiled. The fractured glass exploded and fell, raining from a heaven prepared to weep blood. He shouted, held the gun steady and fired. One last time.

Dark blood spattered from the man's shoulder. Connor fired and his bullet found flesh. The man reeled, shooting clumsily, then ran.

"Murph! Murph, are yeh all right?"

He knew he was yelling, but he couldn't hear himself. He fell to his knees, looking over the concrete step at his brother.

Murphy lay in the grass, framed in mauve by the lengthening sunlight. Framed in mauve by the soft satin. Soft mauve satin framing staring eyes. And still, the looming mahogany.

Connor leapt from the chair, jerking sharply away from the vision. A blinding pain surged from ankle to hip and his knee crumpled. He knelt on the floor, again looking to his brother.

Connor dropped his head in relief, shifting his leg to try and ease the agony. Fuck.

They should be dead. There wasn't enough cover on that porch to shield them and guys like that don't miss.

Divine intervention. God must have been protecting His sheep. Connor lifted his eyes to the ceiling, mouthing a quick prayer of thanks.

Who the fuck was that guy? Why the fuck was he after Rocc?

Rocco. It was so easy to blame him for their troubles.

The Lakeview Deli – three murders in broad daylight with witnesses. That thing with the prostitute. He couldn't even handle his target at the house without help and the fucker had been unarmed.

Rocco wasn't cut out for this. There was a reason he was still a package boy. Technically, he was one of the lowlifes they should be after.

Connor knew he would rue the day Murphy convinced him to let the Italian join them. They were already paying the price. He wondered how high the cost would be in the end.

He surveyed the tranquil look on his brother's sleeping face, abandoning hope of finding a similar peace. Connor knew it was guilt that kept such from him – a seething guilt not felt by Murphy or Rocco… for their predicament was not the Italian's doing, it was Connor's.

They followed him. They followed him to this. Connor was terrified they would follow him to failure and to death.

He started it all; a few simple actions, unrelated, seemingly unimportant, that had somehow escalated into… this.

It had all begun with Rosengurtle, that damned lesbian, that fuckin' shot t' the nuts and Murphy's punch that had gotten them fired. That flared their tempers, their Ma's prank call putting them more on edge.

He'd had too much to drink at Doc's: a lot of whiskey not watered down with enough Guinness. But, hell, it was St. Patty's, right? Really, he should have just had a bit more – if he was passed out over the counter it wouldn't have happened.

The Russians came in and he picked the fight. 'You know he's got 'till the week's end. You don't have t' be hard asses, do yeh?'

He'd known they wouldn't back down, even out numbered. There were eight or nine other bars nearby that Connor and the others could have gone to, their celebrations barely suffering a hiccup. But he wanted the fight, could sense Murphy did too, despite promising their Ma they wouldn't. The cocky Reds were the perfect target.

Connor pushed it too far. It was his idea to tie the fat bastard to the bar, his idea to light the sorry son of a bitch on fire. And, oh, it had been fun, hadn't it?

Then those fuckers came to their home. They were after him and they were going to teach him a lesson by killing his brother. Fuck if that was going to happen.

Of course that led to finding the Russian's pager and Smecker and the jail. Connor had made the call. He had led them to the Copley Plaza. He had decided to fuck with Rocco.

They followed Connor into the Sin Bin, into that house and into the 'fire fight.' They followed him to where they were now.

Rocco was an idiot and it was easy to blame him, but nothing was his fault. The blame rested on Connor's shoulders. They would follow him…

They would follow him to mauve satin. A peaceful rest surrounded by mauve satin.

His fingers curled around the mahogany. He looked over the lid at Murphy, his brother's arms crossed, copper pennies contrasting the mauve. He slammed the lid shut.

Connor jerked to his feet, jolting the images from his mind. A small cry escaped his lips at the anguish that drove through his leg. He bit it off roughly, angry at his weakness, angry at what he had done, angry at the mauve that cloaked them.

"Connor?"