Murphy stared sullenly at the murky sky overhead, a scowl fixed on his face as he drummed his fingers restlessly on the table in front of him. It was on miserable days like this he used to happily spend his time drinking away the hours with his brother in McGinty's. But that was a long time ago now. Before they had become the Saints. Before everything had spiraled well out of their control.
His gaze suddenly fell on the chain link fence that enclosed Hoag prison, towering high over his head. His eyes narrowed as they came to rest on the barbed wire secured to the top of the barrier, glinting menacingly in the dull light. He sighed inwardly.
Christ, he needed a smoke...
The sound of his twin's voice startled him out of his daze. He turned to face Connor, who was sitting across from him, glaring at him heatedly.
"What?" Murphy shot back, irritated.
"Have you been listenin' to a fuckin' word I jus' said?" Connor demanded.
Murphy hesitated, realizing guiltily that he hadn't. His brother's glare only intensified as he abruptly leaned across the table and slapped him hard on the side of his head.
"Ow! Fuckin' hell, Connor!" the younger twin protested. "What was that for?"
"That's what you get for acting like a fuckin' idiot! I'm trying to tell you something important and your mind's drifting. I swear, it's like you've got the memory of a fuckin' goldfish or somethin'."
Murphy frowned, eyeing his brother suspiciously. "What've you got to tell me that's so fuckin' important?" he asked.
"You know, Murph." Connor said solemnly. He glanced around warily, almost as if expecting someone to be listening in on their conversation, before he continued; his voice suddenly hushed. "...I'm talking about us getting the fuck outta this place."
"Yer fuckin' kidding me." He groaned. "You're not still talkin' 'bout that?"
"Yes, I'm fuckin' talking about that."
"Jesus...not again." Murphy grumbled. "M'sick of you and yer stupid fuckin' plans..."
"They're not stupid!" Connor protested. "M'telling you Murph, this is some serious shit; I know what I'm fucking talking about."
The younger twin rolled his eyes, obviously not taking him seriously, which only annoyed his older brother further.
"Look, would you just fuckin' listen to me for a second, Murph? Please?" he pleaded.
Murphy grimaced irritably, but didn't say anything more. He knew there wasn't much hope of one of his brother's stupid plans breaking them out of Hoag, but he decided to humour him. Connor seemed to take his silence as a sign he was listening and continued on eagerly, his voice lowered considerably.
"Y'see, there's been something going on with the staff in this place. I overheard some of the night watchmen a few days ago; talking amongst themselves about some virus or somethin' that's been going 'round, making everyone sick and-"
There was a sudden burst of boisterous laughter from somewhere behind him, startling the brothers. Connor hesitated, the racket causing him to lose his train of thought. His gaze swept over Murphy's shoulder, eyes narrowing when they came to rest on the source of the noise.
"Fuck's sake..." he muttered irritably. "What the fuck're those idiots doin' now?"
"What?" Murphy turned to glance over his shoulder, quickly spotting a group of rowdy inmates clustered at the far end of the prison yard, hurling abuse at a solitary figure on the other side of the chain link fence.
"Who is it?" He squinted in the dull light, trying to identify the different members of the group.
The older twin scowled. "S'those crazy fucks from Block C. Marco Salvati and all his fuckin' cronies."
Murphy scowled at the mention of the Italian gangster. Salvati was the leader of one the most notorious gangs from the East side of Boston, and had supposedly been involved in a bank robbery a few years back, in which fifteen innocent people were gunned down. With a track record like that, Marco's gang had come to the brother's attention more than once and between them they'd managed to take down a small handful of their members.
Unfortunately for Connor and Murphy, Marco had been given a sentence of fifteen years only a few months earlier, after he'd been caught dealing cocaine. He was all too aware of the role the brothers had played in the death of his kin and had been baying for blood ever since he had learned of their capture.
It was because of Marco Salvati that Murphy had almost been killed within the first week of their imprisonment.
But he didn't want to think about that now...
Murphy's attention was drawn back to the lone man on the other side of the fence, who was staggering around drunkenly; unsteady on his feet. He paid no attention to the hostile group of inmates sneering at him, almost as if he didn't even notice they were there.
Connor grimaced, disgusted. "They'll turn on any poor bastard that's weaker than them. S'like they're fuckin' vultures..."
"Aye." Murphy agreed, eyeing the unstable figure thoughtfully. Judging by the way he was barely able to stand upright, the guy was obviously plastered; but at the same time, there was something about him that didn't seem right... He couldn't be completely sure but it looked like he might have a severe limp. And that dark mark on his collar, was that...blood? The man suddenly froze, standing completely still; his head tilted slightly in the direction of the group of inmates, as if only just realising there was someone there. He stumbled, whirling round abruptly to face them.
Murphy's breath caught in his throat at the sight of the man's face. Blood from a vicious looking gash on his neck had splattered all over his shirt, making it look as though he'd been drenched with red paint. His face was caked with dirt and he seemed to be swaying slightly from side, as if he were struggling to stay on his feet.
"Jesus Christ..." Connor said softly. "The fuck happened to him?"
Murphy didn't say anything. He watched as Marco took a hesitant step closer to the fence, watching the man cautiously, his dark eyes narrowed in scrutiny. Then he neatly stepped back, turned away and, unbelievably, roared with laughter.
Murphy felt a flare of anger at his complete lack of concern for a guy who, for all he knew, could be bleeding to death. What kind of sick bastard would laugh at someone who was injured that badly? Murphy scrambled to his feet, his fists clenched in anger.
Connor's attention was caught by the sudden movement and he eyed his brothers back warily. "Murph? What're you doing?"
"M'gonna go punch that fucker's teeth in!"
"Y'really think that's a good idea?" Connor asked sceptically. "What they do s'got nothin' to do with us really, and considerin' what happened last time we crossed Marco, we probably shouldn't-"
He stopped, abruptly realizing that he was talking to thin air. Murphy was already half way across the prison yard. And judging from the scowls fixed on their faces, Salvati's gang wasn't exactly happy to see him...
Connor swore to himself and clambered out of his seat, reluctantly following after his brother, crossing the yard at a half run. He managed to reach the group before any punches were thrown; though by the way Murphy was standing practically nose to nose with Marco, yelling in his face, he knew it wouldn't be long before a fight broke out.
"...The guy's fucking bleedin' to death and yer standing there laughin' at him y'sick fuck!" Murphy said furiously.
"Fuck you, Irish!" Marco shoved him hard enough to knock him back a few feet. Connor winced slightly, as if he'd been the one to be hit instead. He reached over and, putting a hand on his shoulder, yanked his enraged brother back, out of harm's way. He turned to face Marco, who was glaring at him furiously, with a smile.
"Y'know, I always thought you were a coward," he said scornfully, "but I never thought you'd stoop as low as to pick on someone in that sort of state." He gestured to the man behind the fence, who was staring eerily at the group through unfocused, discoloured eyes. "S'pretty fuckin' pathetic if y'ask me."
"Nobody fuckin' asked you though, did they?" the Italian snarled, visibly bristling. "That's what I really hate about you fuckin' micks; you always gotta be gettin' involved in every little thing that don't fuckin' concern you!" he spat at Connor's feet in disgust. "You should just be thankful I don't have my switchblade on me, 'else I'd slash your fuckin' throat open!"
Murphy felt his blood run cold at the realization that Marco meant every word he had said; he was more than capable of murdering his brother, and would do it in a heartbeat if given the chance. But Connor didn't seem fazed in the slightest; he barely even flinched.
"Yer not gonna achieve anything by threatenin' me, Marco. M'not scared of scum like you." He said.
Salvati seemed almost disappointed by the lack of reaction from the older McManus, but the scowl on his face was quickly replaced by a malicious smirk, when his gaze fell on the younger brother.
"Maybe not; but I know somethin' you are scared of." He sneered. Murphy's heart slammed against his ribs as he realized what he was implying. It had been during their first week at Hoag when the brothers had first met Marco Salvati face to face. Barely five minutes had passed before the death threats had started and Murphy had responded in the only way he saw fit: by punching the gangster square in the jaw. The ensuing fight couldn't have lasted more than thirty seconds, before the guards were called in to break it up. Marco had walked away with a nasty looking black eye and a bruised ego, whilst Murphy was virtually unharmed, aside from scratch or two. Connor had been a little worried by the murderous looks his younger brother had been receiving, but Murphy himself barely noticed; he was too busy laughing at his easy victory.
He wasn't laughing the next day, when they had cornered him and his twin in the kitchen. Needless to say, that fight hadn't exactly been fair, considering it was just the two of them against seven or eight others. But this hadn't been the first time the brothers had been attacked, and they were able to hold their own for a while. That was until Marco had pulled out a serrated knife he'd had concealed in his pocket, and buried it deep in Murphy's thigh; slicing a main artery in his leg.
If it hadn't been for the guards who had burst into the room at that moment and had Murphy rushed to the infirmary, he would've most likely died from blood loss. Just the memory of that was enough to make Murphy shudder. He glanced down at his left leg, the one that had been slashed. The scar that the gash had left behind was about the length of his middle finger and served as a constant reminder of how ruthless Salvati really was. Even worse, that day Marco had learned the one true weakness the McManus brothers had: each other.
And he planned to use that against them, at any given possibility.
"Don't really matter what I do to you, just s'long as nobody touches your fag brother, ain't that right?" Marco continued, smirking arrogantly.
"Fuck off." Connor said sharply.
Marco turned to regard the younger McManus with contempt, his eyes narrowed. "I bet you he ain't gonna look so pretty once I've cut his fuckin' eyes out!"
There was a long, agonising moment of silence whilst Connor processed this. Then he gave a heavy sigh, as if he found the whole situation boring.
"Yer not gonna do that, Marco." He said softly.
"Oh? And why the fuck not?" the gangster replied, clearly aggravated that he hadn't gotten the reaction he had wanted. He'd obviously been expecting Connor to lose his cool at start screaming again, like he had when his brother got stabbed. But he didn't know what Murphy knew. He didn't know that Connor was at his most dangerous when he was quiet.
"'Cause the last mother fucker tha' tried to kill m'brother ended up with the back of his skull smashed in." Connor growled, his voice suddenly cold. "Trust me; you don't wanna go down that fuckin' road with me."
He had taken a step forward so the two were practically toe to toe. Marco's expression had turned thunderous and he looked like he wanted nothing more than to stick a knife between Connor's ribs. Murphy slid forward, sensing a fight coming and prepared to throw a punch at the Italian the first chance he got.
Then he heard the scream.
Murphy jumped and whirled round, startled to see the injured man had gotten much closer, sneaking right up to the fence while they were all busy arguing. He had shoved a gnarled, dirt encrusted hand through the space in the chain link and caught hold of the collar of one of Salvati's cronies; some scrawny, rat-faced man called Andre, who was now pummeling him with his fists in an effort to free himself. But the man on the other side of the fence didn't seem to even notice the punches raining down on him. He kept a firm hold on Andre, opened his mouth wide and, as the rest of the group watched on in horrified silence, sank his teeth deep into his shoulder. Andre let out an agonised cry of pain, thrashing about even harder. Murphy felt bile rise in his throat and stumbled back, hardly able to believe what he was seeing.
The explosive sound of a gunshot made them all jump and then Connor's hand was suddenly on his shoulder, hauling him out of the way as a pair of guards rushed past them, guns drawn. The one closest to the fence, raised his weapon, took aim and fired, hitting the man behind the fence square in the shoulder. The force of the bullet at such close range, knocked him back a few feet, causing him to lose his hold on Andre, who collapsed to the ground in a whimpering, bloody heap.
"C'mon, let's get the fuck outta here." Connor muttered urgently. Murphy could only nod mutely in agreement as he turned, and followed his brother as he crossed the prison yard. He hadn't gotten very far when he hear a pounding of footsteps and was shoved roughly to the side as a pair of inmates hurtled past him. By the panicked expressions on their faces he could tell they'd just witnessed the same thing he had and he managed to catch the end of their conversation before they moved out of earshot.
"...Did you fuckin' see that?" One of them gasped, turning to his companion with a look of horrified disgust. "That sick fuck he...he took a fucking bite out of Andre!"
"I know..." the other one shook his head in disbelief. "Did you see all that blood? Dude looked like he took a whole fuckin' chunk taken outta his shoulder..."
Murphy paused, eyeing his brother who had kept walking and didn't seem to realize he wasn't being followed him anymore. He steadied himself before he glanced reluctantly over his shoulder, taking one last look at the scene he'd left behind. His heart leapt into his throat at what he saw. The group that had been clustered at the fence, mainly Marco's gang, had now been thoroughly disbanded by the guards and Andre himself had vanished too, most likely to be rushed to the infirmary so his wound could be treated. But there was no sign of the man who had been on the other side of the fence: he had completely disappeared.
The younger McManus felt a cold dread settle in his stomach. Despite the fact the guy had been shot, he still somehow had the strength to pick himself back up and wander off again. That couldn't be right...That wasn't normal! The thought that a guy that fucking psychotic could be wandering freely around the streets of Boston, scared the hell out of him. His gaze dropped to the dark puddle of Andre's blood which was splattered all over the concrete and he shuddered, before he turned away, running to catch up with his brother.