So, I think I've gone a bit bonkers this evening. Wrote this bastard in one fucking afternoon and I'm too frightened to read over and see how dastardly it turned out, so I'll leave the critiquing to all you. Please feel free to be as harsh or kind as you deem appropriate, I'm up for anything. This is the first half of a two part one-shot. I don't know if you can technically do that, but to hell if you can't. If this goes over well, keep on the lookout for the second part of this fat boy. Been watching Boondock a lot this week since nothing else is on, and it apparently overtook my brain and reasoning skills. Hope it didn't turn up too terrible. This is the most amount of dialogue I've ever written, so be warned. I'm out of my zone here. ANYWAY. Give me your best and worst, dearies. And do enjoy, if that's at all possible. RJL

Oh. And the rating is because I lost count of how many times I said 'fuck' at 30, somewhere around the middle of the chapter. Got a bit carried away, yeah?

I own nothing. Not against owning Norman Reedus, but whatev.

Darlin' can you tie my string
killers are callin' on me
my angel face is fallin'
feathers are fallin' on my feet
darlin' can you tie my string
killers are callin' on me

Gospel: The National

Part One

He had been conscious for almost an hour though he had yet to open his eyes. He felt the cuffs holding his wrists behind his back and felt similar restraints at his ankles. The room was silent except for the quiet page turning that came from somewhere to his left. A dull sigh would follow every two or three turns, but there were no words spoken. He could hear voices outside the door and heavy steps going down what he assumed was the hallway, but no one entered the room. He assumed he was in a bathroom of some sort, the smell of perfume and soap mixed with the slightly humid air gave it away.

For an hour, he had sat completely motionless as he tried to figure out what the fuck was going on. There was a pain in his shoulder that had nothing to do with the way his arms were pulled behind his back along with another in his abdomen. Had he been shot? His memory was blurred. So many questions rumbled through his mind as he attempted to make sense of his situation. He was alone, that much he was sure of. His sides were cold. Conner was not beside him, nor was Da. The thought sent a slight chill of fear through him.

They weren't dead. Wouldn't he be able to know if they were dead? Of course he would – he and Conner were fuckin' twins. Of course he'd know. The weak attempts to convince himself were anything but comforting. Whether they were dead or not, they were not with him and that was an unsettling thought. He knew without doubt that neither Conner nor Da would have let him get captured without doing something to stop whoever it was that wanted to take a McManus. That would only leave the idea of Conner, dead or injured somewhere along with Da, unable to help him. He couldn't even remember the last time he and Connor had been apart.

The door slammed open suddenly, forcing Murphy to focus on appearing conscious. He heard heavy feet shuffle in and the sound of a book being slapped shut followed quickly by a thud. They dropped the book on the counter. Footsteps neared him and a hand jerked his face up roughly. His eyes opened of their own response and the bright lights of the bathroom nearly blinded him. He muttered a curse and pulled his head out of the hand's grip, albeit weaker than he had assumed he was. His head spun from both the sudden movement and the glare of the lights.

"I thought you said the fucker was still off in Fairy Land, bitch?" The voice pounded in his head. He tried to lift his head and get a look at the man yelling, but he could only grimace and peek through his eye lids in response to the lighting. He caught a glance of brown and blue through the white haze, but nothing more. Fuck, he felt hungover.

"He was, you over sized tub of lard," came the exasperated reply. A woman. More confusion rolled through his head. Lighter footsteps than before came towards him and a gentle hand came to rest on his forehead. "His fever finally broke last night. I told you it was only a matter of time before he woke up."

Her hand moved to his neck where it rested, checking his pulse. There was silence for a few moments that Murphy's head was quite thankful for. He heard the woman move away from him, the warm touch leaving with her. Some part of him was saddened. Her touch reminded him of his Ma – before she drank herself into a stupor every night but during the rare occasions when he would be hurt or sick and she would sit with him through the night, whiskey bottle in one hand, the other running gently through his hair as she sang to him old Irish tunes.

"Is there something you want, Igor?" the woman asked after a few more moments of silence. "I have shit to do in here and the bathroom is small enough without your fat ass taking up more room."

There was a crash and a cry of pain and Murphy managed to open his eyes long enough to see the blurred images of a young woman, young enough that he deftly wondered if she was old enough to be considered a woman, bent over the bathroom counter, arm twisted behind her and head forced to touch the marble counter top. The large man holding her leered.

"You'd do well to learn to hold your tongue, girl," he spat at her, voice heavy with his accent. Murphy let his eyes flutter shut once again, though he continued to listen. There was a beat of silence before he heard the sound of rustling and small crash followed by a soft whimper. "I will fuck you up the moment the boss says so. Remember it, bitch."

The man stalked out of the room and slammed the door hard enough to rattle the frames on the wall. Faint words drifted through the door before footsteps faded down the hallway.

"Fucking bastard," the girl muttered, pulling herself to her feet. She walked gingerly to towards the door where the light switch was. Flipping it down some to dim the lights, she walked back to where he was tied to the chair. She kicked over the foot stool she had tripped over earlier and sat down in front of him. "I turned down the lights, you should be able to open your eyes now," she said quietly.

He did as she said, though slowly and cautious. He blinked rapidly, even the low lighting was harsh to his eyes. It took him a good few minutes, but eventually he was able to open his eyes fully and keep them open without a pulse of pain going through his head. The white walls of the bathroom didn't help any, only caused the light to bounce off and glare at him. It wasn't a large bathroom, though bigger than any he or Conner ever had. The counter tops were cream colored marble that matched the tile flooring. Every piece of porcelain that he could see was unstained and perfectly white. A bouquet of flowers rested on the back of the toilet. Black and white photos of a smiling family hung on the walls. It took him a few moments to recognize a girl in the photos as the one sitting before him, legs crossed beneath her, and a small, lopsided grin on her face.

There was no lack of faith that the girl in the numerous photos surrounding him was the girl sitting before him, despite how different the two looked. This girl had no life to her. There was nothing behind her eyes . She had a bruise on her cheek that was fading away to yellow, a cut on her lip that seemed to be healing, and a new injury from moments before – a small cut alongside her hair line. In the photos she was smiling, teeth showing, eyes glowing. She was younger, too. Murphy looked from the photos to the girl again, puzzled. While inhabiting the same body, the girls were different beings completely.

"You look confused." Her tone was anything but mocking, simply amused and even a slight bit concerned.

He looked at her for a moment before nodding his head slowly. "Aye, a bit."

She frowned at his gravely tone and unwound her legs before getting up and going to the sink where she filled up a glass full of tap water. Opening one of the drawers, she pulled out a bendy straw and put it in the cup before turning back to him. She sat down and held up the glass so that he could reach the straw without strain. She smiled slightly as he coughed on the water. "Easy there," she said, gently pulling away the glass from him. "You've been out of it for a few days, you need to take things in moderation. You'll make yourself sick if you jump back into things head first."

After setting down the glass on the tile floor, she pulled her legs back up and balanced on the stool, fixing him with a stare. "So, what do you want to know?"

The question caught him off guard. His eyebrows furrowed. "What?"

A small sigh escaped her. She nodded her head at him in emphasis. "What do you want to know? I admit that I don't know everything, but I might be able to help fill in the blank spaces you've been trying to fill for the last hour." He frowned at her questioningly. She rolled her eyes. "You kept moving your hands," she explained. He only nodded in dumb response. "So, I'll ask you again, little leprechaun boy, what do you want to know?"

He look a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment, gathering what little wits he had remaining. Might as well start at the beginning. "Where am I?"

"Boston. My father's home, if you wish to get specific," she replied easily.

"An' who's ye father?" he asked, brain already muddling itself.

"Judge Waker." The name held no meaning to him, but he stored it away nonetheless.

Next question. "Why am I here?"

She seemed mildly surprised he hadn't inquired about her father but moved past it with ease. The woman snorted and shot him an amused look. "You pissed off the Russian Mob, why the fuck else?"

He shrugged. "How long I been here?"

"Here as in this particular bathroom or just in their custody in general?" She didn't wait for his response. "You've been locked in here for almost a week and from what I've heard around the house, you were held in New York for another week before that."

His eyes widened in shock. "Two fuckin' weeks?"

She grimaced and nodded. "At least."

Fucking hell. Two weeks. Conner and Da must be going crazy. His mind mulled over the thought. Two weeks of being missed. Two fucking weeks, gone from his memory. How the fuck was he missing two weeks? He looked at the girl in both anger and evident confusion. "What the fuck happened to me?" His tone was hard and quiet, though only an idiot would have missed the veiled threat. He wanted answers and he was a killer.

Taking a deep breath, the girl started. "Again, I don't know everything that's happened. But I can give you what I can, alright?" She paused and he nodded for her to continue. "Alright. You got hauled in here a week ago with two gunshot wounds. One to your left shoulder and the other in your side." She pointed them out before continuing. "My father is currently sitting on a big case that could make or break the mafia, so we've had thugs living with us for the past month to keep 'things in perspective'. Apparently that means they're allowed to use our house as a halfway house as well." Her tone turned sarcastic and she rolled her eyes. "What I've gathered is that you got shot in New York a couple weeks back when you and your brother went in for a hit that turned out to be a set up for your captures. The guys here paid a good amount to get you here."

"Do ye know what happen to me bro'der?" He cut through her voice easily. She looked at him in surprise. His eyes were beginning to clear.

"He's in New York, searching for you along with your father. The guys get a phone call every other day or so with updates on them. They're making a blood bath of NYC, looking for you. All over the news."

Her words brought a smile to his face that unnerved her. He laughed shortly. "Sounds like 'em, alrigh'. Stupid fuckers."

She only nodded her head and leaned forward to rest her elbows on her knees. "Well, they're making the guys here a little nervous with all the people they've been dropping. Only reason they haven't moved you yet is because they're almost certain that your family hasn't figured out that you're not in New York anymore."

"They'll fig're it out," Murphy said confidently with a smirk. "Migh' take the dumbfucks awhile, but they'll come fer me."

"Confident bastard, aren't you?" the girl mused. She stood up from the stool abruptly as they both heard footsteps nearing the door. "If they are coming for you, then you need to stay alive long enough for them to save your sorry ass. Don't die, Murphy. People love you."

Her words caused a slight scowl to appear on his face. "What te fuck are ye talkin' about?"

Footsteps stopped outside the door and they each could hear the loud voices. The girl only looked at him once more before the door was once again slammed open and she was pulled roughly from the room. He watched her disappear around the corner of the door, a man holding her tightly by the upper arm. His attention was quickly traded to the fist coming towards his face. The punch forced him far enough backwards that the chair he was cuffed to tipped over and he landed on his back, air knocked out of him. His head swam and he was suddenly very aware of the pain in his shoulder and side.

His chair was lifted up and his body swung around as a large Russian set the chair upright once more. He found himself faced with the man from earlier who had a ridiculously large grin on his face. "Good morning, sunshine!" he said brightly. A flash caught Murphy's attention as the man slipped on a pair of brass knuckles. "Time for breakfast!"

The fist came flying towards him again and again before he was even able to comprehend the pain.

"What's yer name?"

The question came as a surprise to her. They had been sitting in moderate silence for the last forty minutes, ever since she had returned to the bathroom to clean his new wounds. After she had climbed onto the counter and picked back up the book she had been reading when he had first woken up. Now, she looked up from the book in her lap and found he was staring at her intensely. Closing the book, she returned his gaze. "Veronica Anne Waker. Most call me Vera, though. What's yours?"

"Ye don't already know it?" She didn't miss the challenging air of his tone. She only cocked her head in response.

"You can't believe everything you hear, now can you?" Her eyebrows rose and fell quickly as she turned back to her book. She wasn't ignoring him, just not giving him her undivided attention.

"Nah, I don't suppose ye can," he mused. "Me name's Murphy."

Vera looked back at him, small smile on her face. "Nice to meet your acquaintance, Murphy."

"Aye, same te ye." He continued to watch her as she read her book, unashamed with his staring. What else was he supposed to do while tied to a chair? Not as if there was a television to watch. He met her eyes solidly as they slowly came up to stare at him, an obvious look of confusion on Vera's face.

"What?" she asked in a conspiratorial whisper. She leaned forward and glanced around the bathroom. "Is there something on my face, Mr. Murphy?"

"How old are ye?" he asked, ignoring her humor. She didn't look more than nineteen or twenty and even then that was being kind.

"Twenty two. How old are you?" she shot back.

"Twenty eigh'," he replied slowly, looking at her face harder. "Ye really twenty two?"

She ran a hand through her light hair with a dull sigh. Her fingers worked on a knot as she nodded. "According to my birth certificate. I've always looked young for my age though, so I wouldn't be surprised if my parents had the document forged." She paused for a moment and laughed, giving him a smile. "Actually, my brother would probably do that. He's an asshole that way. And a genius."

"Bro'der?" Murphy inquired with slight interest.

"Yeah, he's seventeen. Just a bitty baby. Genius though, mind you," she added with wide eyes and a pointed finger. "That little bitch is going to go places. Create some weapon of mass destruction that'll end up killing the entire human race, but still. Going places, he is." The proud way she spoke of her brother did not go missed by him. He smiled slightly, reminded of Connor. They were both quiet for a few moments, each caught up with their memories and thoughts. With a sharp breath, Vera pulled herself back to the present and shook her head. Holding up the book she was reading, she broke into Murphy's own thoughts. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have this very large book to read for my English course. And since you're wonderful accent keeps getting my panties in a twist, I'd appreciate it if you'd kindly shut the fuck up."

There was a beat of silence. "I get yer panties in a twist, eh?" He managed to duck the bar of soap aimed at his head and couldn't help the laugh that escaped him.

"Shut up."

And Shepherds we shall be. For thee, my Lord, for thee.

He could feel the gun pressed to his temple, the race of his heart beat as his eyes fought to stare down the man with his finger on the trigger. The world around him moved slowly, unfocused. Somewhere he could hear Connor's voice mingled between the loud shouts of accented voices. He could hear him but didn't dare to look at him. Too much rested in the hands of the man before Murphy, a man who wasn't even looking at the man he had kneeling at his feet. No, his fat face was breaking with a wide, gaping smile as he yelled around the room, bragging about his catch. He couldn't even keep the gun steady against Murphy's forehead.

The hand clamped to the back his neck tightened as the Russian thug finally turned back to the kneeling man. His finger tightened on the trigger as his smile grew ever larger. "Are you ready to meet your holy God that you love so much, Saint?" the words were spat with contempt and mockery but he barely heard them at all.

Power hath descended forth from Thy hand. Our feet may swiftly carry out Thy commands.

Ignoring the cold metal pressing harshly into him, Murphy ordered himself to look away from the gun barrel. He refused to die this way. His eyes found Connor's across the room. He watched the yells erupt from his brother's mouth as the gun moved from his head and only heard the gunshot as it echoed through the room, quickly followed by another.

So we shall flow a river forth to Thee. And teeming with souls shall it ever be.

The pain exploded in his side. His shoulder went numb as he fell to the side, head bouncing off the carpet of the hotel room floor. He heard another shot but felt no added pain. His foggy gaze looked across the room to see Connor, now also on the floor, with blood coming from his arm. He cried out as a man whipped his brother across the face with his pistol, rendering him unconscious. He feebly fought against the arms that pulled him off the carpet, not trying to hide the tears flowing down his face. "Connor!"

It took him a moment to place the ragged voice as his own. He knew he was losing his grasp on consciousness as blood poured from his wounds and the world start fizzling into gray space. He yelled again, voice almost gone as he was hauled from the room, feet dragging. Once in the hall, he stumbled and fell to the ground. There was nothing he could do to stop the booted foot aimed for his head.

In Nomeni Patri Et Fili Spiritus Sancti.

"Fuckin'-A, woman! Be gentle wit' me!"

"Oh, shut up, you big baby," Vera muttered as she continued her work on Murphy's face. For a man that had been shot three times, that she was aware of, the damn Irishman was the biggest wuss she had ever met. She laughed softly when he flinched away from the cotton ball drenched in antiseptic. Wiping it across his freshly cut brow, she glared at him when he let out another stream of curses. "Is that really necessary?"

"I'm expressin' me emotions," he defended bitterly.

She rolled her eyes and stepped away from him, tossing the bloody cotton ball with the others in the trash bin. She glanced back at him before starting to rummage through the drawers and medicine cabinet. "We need to check your bullet wounds."

He eyed her warily as she returned with more cotton balls and the bottle of antiseptic. "Ye sure?"

"God, Murphy, grow a pair, would you?" She rolled her eyes tiredly and moved to the door, knocking on it quietly. It opened almost instantly and she spoke quietly with the person behind it for a moment before the door opened completely and a portly man stepped inside. Another man took his place at the door, arms crossed and face void of emotion.

"No funny business," the man warned to the cautious Irishman, finger jabbing in his face. Murphy nodded in response silently. Vera stood back as the man hit Murphy across the head once before reaching around to unlock the cuffs at the man's wrists. He turned with the cuffs in hand and waddled back out of the room, dropping the metal bands in Vera's hands as he went. The door slammed shut once more.

Throwing the cuffs into the bathroom sink quickly, Vera turned her back to Murphy and waited. She heard no movement and look at him over her shoulder. He sat in the chair, rubbing his raw wrists as he looked at her without a clue. She gave him an exasperated look and motioned to him with her hands. "If you want a shower, now would be the time. And I recommend you shower since you smell like an asshole, quite literally."

His eyes swept over the cuffs she had dumped in the sink and to the pair of scissors she had used earlier to cut the string of his new stitches. It wasn't much, but anything could be used to break out of the bathroom. All he'd need to do was take down one man and steal his gun. The rest would be easy. His hand was halfway stretched to take the cuffs when her voice stopped him.

"Don't think about trying to jail break out of here, there's five guys on the other side of the door waiting to blow your brains out and another six down the hall. Just take the shower so we can all move on with our lives."

"Bossy g'url, aren't ye?" he said, standing up from the chair. She only mumbled a reply.

He slid the cuffs around his ankles from the legs of it and set the chair against the wall. Wasting no time getting out of clothes despite the ache in his shoulder and side, he climbed into the white shower and pulled the dark blue curtain shut. The hot water made him flinch as it ran down his battered body. Outside the curtain he could hear Vera moving around the small bathroom, muttering to herself quietly. He made the shower short but made sure to lather every inch of himself with soap and scrubbed his hair before rinsing off and finishing. He grabbed the towel that was hung over the curtain rod and dried himself off.

After wrapping the towel around his waist, he pulled back the curtain and stepped over the edge of the tub. He snatched another towel off the bar and ran it through his hair. Looking up, he caught Vera's shocked expression and stopped short. "What?"

"Have you no modesty, man?" she cried, a hand coming up to cover her eyes as she fumbled around the counter top for the jeans and boxer shorts she'd hijacked from her brother. Once in hand, she tossed them at the guffawing Irishman who caught them easily. "Put some clothes on!"

"Haven't ye ever seen a man naked before, V?" his tone was mocking as he continued to stand in the towel, making no movements to put on the clothes she'd given him. "Christ, woman! Yer twenty two!"

Vera stumbled over her words as her hand dropped to her side in shock. She looked like a dying fish, which only made Murphy laugh harder. "Of course I've seen naked men before! I've had sex before!" she cried indignantly. "I'm not some sort of nun, you bastard."

He held up a hand in surrender, chest shaking from laughter as he tried to control himself. "I'm sorry, lass, didn't mean to offend ye," he said mockingly. "I'm sure ye've had yerself plenty of men."

"Thank you! I have, in fact. Too many to count on both hands, even." Her eager tone and frantic nodding had him smiling even more. "Lots of naked men. Lots and lots."

"I'm sure ye have," he agreed, reaching to grab the pair of boxers he'd dropped on the counter top. "So ye wouldn't mind any if I changed right now?"

She crossed her arms over her chest and shook her head with a confident smile, eyes closed for the moment. "Go right ahead, you haven't got anything I haven't seen before."

"Ah, so if me towel were to accidentally slip-"

"No!" Her eyes burst open in horror and she leaped forward, hands going to grab the towel he had just released. It took her a few moments to realize that the towel was tightly secured around his waist even without him or her holding it in place. She looked down at the towel for a moment, cheeks burning, before she tentatively looked up to meet Murphy's amused face. She laughed awkwardly and took a step back from him, face a nice shade of purple. Smirking, he patted her cheek and nodded to her with raised eyebrows.

"Aye, ye've had yerself plenty of men, V. Now, turn around so I can get meself dressed proper fer yer presence."

She didn't need to be asked twice and she almost tripped herself from spinning around so quickly. Her chest was rising and falling quickly and her heart was going to town the with the image now planted, no - burned, into her brain. Even with the bruises and healing bullet wounds, he was nowhere near harsh on the eyes. Definitely not someone she would hate to have a roll around in the sheets with. Vera almost slapped herself silly at the thought. Cocky Irishman was going to give her a heart attack any day now.

"Ye can turn around now," Murphy said a few seconds later.

As she turned around, she wondered which was worse for her over exuberant heart. The man in nothing but a towel, or him without a shirt on. He was seated back on the chair, cuffs looped onto the legs once more. Vera took a deep, calming breath before grabbing her bag of meager medical supplies and hopped onto the counter top, motioning him forward. He scooted the chair forward so that his shoulder was within reach and she planted a bare foot on either side of his chair. She set to cleaning his shoulder without a word, eyes focused and clear.

"Ye hear anythin' new t'day?"

He'd asked the same question every day for the past week, ever since he'd arrived. It had been the same thing, day in and day out. They'd beat him to the edge of death in the morning, leave him for Vera to heal and tend to during the day, and then return in the evening to do it again. It all began again the next morning. She was growing tired of it and had no doubts that Murphy was as well. She was simply the one that fixed his wounds, not the one who had to endure what caused them.

"Nothing yet, but it's not even noon. I'm sure I'll have something to tell by dinner," she said, never looking away from the wound she was cleaning. She reached beside her and grabbed a square of gauze, placing it over the hole in his shoulder. "Hold that, would you?" His hand went to cover hers and she slipped it out from under his, reaching for the white medical tape. She padded down the tape after ripping off four pieces and leaned back to admire her work. Not half bad. Now for his side. "You need to stand up," she ordered as she set to gathering more cotton balls and gauze to soak in antiseptic.

The metal cuffs clinked against the tile as he stood and once again unhooked himself from the chair. Why the Russian's had bothered with his legs was beyond her. She heard his bare feet shuffle on the tiles as he took a step closer to her. All of her movement stopped when she felt warmth hit her knees and she turned forward to see him resting lazily between her legs, her knees resting on either side on him. With his shorter height combined with the height of the counter, her head came just below his chin and she only had to lean back to see his face. She looked away from his face as his eyes caught her own and a smirk graced his features lightly.

She could feel his eyes burning into the top of her head as she cleaned his angry red side with trembling hands. "Please stop that," she said softly, not looking away from his wounded side.

"I don' know what ye mean," he said seriously, voice almost as quiet as hers. A shiver went down her spine as his breath hit her neck warmly.

"Stop staring at me," she continued. "You're making me nervous."

He scoffed and rolled his eyes. "I'm not fuckin' starin' at ye."

She looked up suddenly, eyes meeting. With an eyebrow raised in question she leaned back. "Then what is this considered?"

"I'm jus observin' ye, is all. Ye get all concentrated and yer little eyebrows scrunch toget'er. It's endearin'." She knew she was staring. Not 'observing', but full out staring at him like he was a little bit touched in the head. He seemed to be thinking along the same lines because he pointed a finger at her and looked smug. "See, that's starin'. Starin's creepy, V. Stop that." He flicked her on the nose lightly, bringing her attention away from his face and effectively ceasing the staring.

"What, you get to 'observe' but I don't get to stare?" she questioned, moving back to finish her work on his side. She did not understand this man.

"Observin' ain't creepy. Ye starin' at me like I'm nuts isn't very nice of ye."

She rolled her eyes. "You are nuts, Murphy."

"Only fer ye, love," he replied. He let out a yelp of pain and looked down at her sharply, holding his injured side gingerly. "What te fuck was that fer?"

"Being an annoying pain in my ass," she muttered, taping the gauze to his side tensely.

"Well, did ye have to poke so hard? I'm still fuckin' wounded, ye know," he replied, slightly annoyed.

"Suck it up, baby boy. You're in for a beating tonight, I guarantee it." She padded down the tape and looked at it with a sigh. The infection was better than it had been when he'd first arrived, but it was still embedded in the gaping hole. She needed more than cheap disinfectant to clean his wounds if he was to stay alive. He wouldn't last much longer without real medical attention. "I think you're good to go," Vera said finally, pushing herself back to lean against the bathroom wall.

"Thanks," he grumbled lowly, reaching for the shirt beside her. She reached it first and held it out for him. He nodded his thanks. She let out a sigh as he attempted to get the piece of clothing over his head and hurt shoulder. Shaking her head in entertainment she pushed herself away from the wall and caught hold of his hand, pulling him towards her.

"Here, let me help you," she murmured as she released his hand and grabbed hold of his shirt. She shifted the fabric so she had a hold of the open bottom. "Hold out your arms," she instructed in a tone that reminded him both of Connor and his mother. A twang a misery went through him as he did as he was told. She slipped the shirt over his arms and stood up as he ducked down so that she could reach over his head. The fabric was a little loose on him but at least it smelled and felt clean. "Sorry, it's my dad's shirt. Jesse was too much of a bitch to lend you one of his." She really looked apologetic. He felt bad.

"Nah, this is fine. Thank ye, again."

She nodded and took a step away from him, setting about to cleaning up the bloody cotton balls and rags she had used to clean up this time. He watched her move around the small bathroom and frowned. He didn't think she understood. The next time she passed in front of him to get to the trash bin, he grabbed a gentle hold of her arm by the crook of her elbow. She jerked to a stop in surprise and set him with a puzzled stare as he reeled her towards him with ease, she didn't fight against his hold.

His hands rested on her shoulders lightly and their proximity was close. One hand played with the hair at her neck without much thought to it as she stared up peered up at him through the fringe of her unkempt bangs. His eyes focused into hers after a few moments and she was taken aback by the emotion that met her. "I meant what I said, V. Thank ye for what ye've done fer me. I know I'm not the best patient and tha' I wear on yer nerves sometimes, but I real'e appreciate all the shite ye've done fer me."

The hug he received in response was one that caught him off guard. One that was slowly returned as he wrapped his arms around the small woman holding on to him like he may very well disappear if she let go for even a moment. The amount of emotion put into the hug worried him. And not just the emotion coming from her end. After a few moments, Vera pulled away only to rise up onto her tip toes to plant a soft kiss at the corner of his lips. She rested her lips against his for only a moment before pulling away.

"You're welcome," she whispered.

Before he had a chance to react, she was pulling out of his arms and heading out the door. He didn't try to stop the men from restraining him and forcing him back into the stiff metal chair. He didn't notice his arms being wrenched behind him to be clapped in irons. He watched as the thugs went from the room without delivering a beating to him. A few minutes later, a laugh escaped him.

Another afternoon spent in the close quarters of the bathroom. Vera was reading another text book for another one of her classes while Murphy found himself counting the tiles that covered the bathroom floor. He'd already counted as many specs on the ceiling as he could without losing count and the number of dents in the wall behind the door. Neither kept his attention for very long. It had been two days since he awoke in the bathroom and nothing more eventful than a beating had come his way. No news had reached Vera about Connor or Da and she had yet to hear of what the Mafia's plans for him were. So he sat tied to a chair while being babysat by V as she continued her schooling. Quite eventful.

Both of them looked at the door as they heard it opening slowly. Murphy visibly tensed as it swung open and Vera let out an annoyed breath as she saw who it was. A tall and lanky boy stood in the doorway, an apple in one hand as he leaned against the door jam with a look of boredom.

"He doesn't look like much of a killer to me," the boy said as he look a large bite of his apple. "The guys all made him out to be some four hundred pound motherfucker with a gun implanted as his hand." He took another bite of his apple and waved it at a bemused Murphy. "This guy barely breaks one eighty on the scales."

"Jesse," Vera drawled without looking at her baby brother. "Stay away from the killing Irishman. I'm not cleaning up your body when he murders you with a shoe."

"A shoe?" Murphy asked, looking at her in interest. "Why a fuckin' shoe?"

Her shoulders bounced as she continued her studies. "Only thing you could use."

"Oh, darlin'. You doubt me abilities," he said with a scoff.

Jesse leaned in the room with an eager look. "So you really are a killer?"

"Aye, ye could say that," Murphy replied. "Ye rape anyone before?"

The question made Vera look up sharply as she looked between her brother and Murphy. Jesse looked uncertain at the question. "No, never," he answered truthfully.

"Ye murder or steal?"

Again Jesse shook his head, apple forgotten in his hand. Vera looked back to her book with a shake of her head. "He's a good kid, Murphy. I told you this."

"Then ye got nothing to fear in me. Me bro'der and I only kill the fuckers in this world, not wee little school boys." He flashed the boy a small grin before returning to his counting, this time opting to retry and count the ceiling specs.

"Well, that's a comforting notion," Jesse muttered quietly, taking a bite of his apple thoughtfully. "Feel free to kill the fuckers living in guest room whenever you feel like it."

"Jesse," his sister warned lowly, throwing a glance at the open door.

"Oh, don't give me that shit, Roni," he shot at her in excitement. "You were thinking the exact same thing. All we'd have to do is let him out of the hand cuffs and he'd do the rest of the work himself. Isn't that right, Murph?"

"Can't you see he's already wounded, Jess? He can't do much good with two gunshot wounds along with all the other injuries he's getting added to the list! Let it go," she hissed at him, book slamming shut as she set it aside and stood up. "Even if he could fight, there's too many bastards running through the house for even a Saint to take care of."

"Excuse me for trying to find a way out of Dad's fucking mess. Some of us haven't resigned ourselves to the fact that any day now the fuckers in our kitchen are going to kill us in our sleep. I'm sorry if I'm not ready to fucking die. Not too keen on the idea, V!"

Murphy could only watch as Jesse's head spun to the side and wince in sympathy for the boy. He'd been on the receiving end of a woman's slap before, didn't hurt like a straight punch did, but it sure did smart.

"Shut your fucking mouth, you little brat. No one is going to fucking die, okay? Nothing is going to happen and everything is going to be fine. Okay? Just shut up Jesse, just shut the fuck up for once." Her voice was deathly quiet and without another word, she turned on her heel sharply and fled from the room. The tears did not go dismissed by either men.

"I'm sorry you had to see that," Jesse muttered lowly a few moments later. "We're all a bit on edge lately, what with the ogres prowling around and whatnot." He let out a sigh and tossed his unfinished apple into the trash bin. "Roni's taking it the hardest, she's closer to Dad than I am and our parents have been fighting since the beginning of time. Mom just wants the Mob out of the house, doesn't really care what Dad has to do for them, just so long as they stop ruining her fucking carpet in the main hall."

"Why are they even here?" Murphy asked, head still pointed to the ceiling.

"Roni didn't tell you?" Jesse asked in surprise.

"Not much, only little bits."

The younger boy let out a tired sigh and shrugged as he rubbed the butt of his hand into his eye. "Not a whole lot to the story, to be honest. Dad's the judge sitting in on some big case that the Mafia needs to end in their favor and after they heard rumors of Dad ruling against them, they got worried and decided to move in as it were. Just a constant reminder, you know, for him of how things could end if he doesn't join them."

"How long they been here?" Murphy inquired, eyes still counting as he listened.

"Good three weeks now. They've kept Roni under house arrest since she went berserk the first day and threatened to call the police on them, but she's supposed to be in Spain studying aboard right now, so no one's missed her." Jesse shrugged again. "The case starts next week, but who knows how long it'll take to be over with."

Murphy took his eyes off the ceiling and stared at Jesse intently, causing the boy to take an involuntary step backwards. "What's yer da gonna do?"

"Does it really matter? If he says no, the mob will just kill all of us and move on to find a judge they can buy off," Jesse said bitterly. "If he agrees, he's just as bad as the men he puts away."

"That's not what I asked," Murphy said seriously.

The boy shrugged. "My dad's a good man, Murphy, and the guy who's up for court, isn't," he said plainly as he pushed himself off the jam of the door and started walking out of the bathroom. "This isn't the first time someone's tried to buy him off. He's never gone bad before. I don't think this time will be any different, even if our lives hang in the balance. He's not rotten."

A few nights later, Vera found herself standing in front of the door leading into her mother's room. Hand hovering over the knob, she didn't bother to knock before entering the dimly lit room. Smoke occupied the ceiling and she could smell the booze from the doorway. Pushing open the door, she stepped inside fully and closed the door softly behind her. She walked through the haze filled room to the large arm chair facing the open window. Stopping behind the chair, she waited for her mother to acknowledge her presence.

"What do you want, darling?" Her mother's voice was sharp but not unkind, simply uncaring.

Taking a deep breath that did little to calm her nerves, Vera uttered four words that she hoped would change everything. "I need your help."

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