So my boyfriend went and got me addicted to Boondock Saints and the twin!feels have been killing me ever since. Don't own: all characters belong to Troy Duffy (lucky bastard). If anyone knows any methods for getting rid of Connor/Murphy feels I'd be grateful if they let me know, because it's getting exhausting.
Ever since they were kids, it was very rare for one MacManus twin to fall ill without the other catching the same thing. They might have been fraternal, but their immune systems were, for all intents and purposes, identical. So when Murphy started feeling tired and breathless almost all the time, and Connor didn't, the latter couldn't help but worry.
Murphy brushed it off, remarking that he and Connor couldn't share everything, and life continued as normal. Still, Connor managed to convince his brother to at least get checked out, if only to put his own mind at ease. Murphy muttered something about Connor being a mother hen, but he made an appointment.
When Murphy came home and said the doctor wanted him to come in again next week for more tests, Connor was instantly anxious. Tests meant it wasn't something simple. Tests meant it could be something serious. Murphy told him to relax, but Connor knew he wouldn't be able to do so until they knew Murphy was fine.
The week went by both too quickly and not quickly enough. Connor tagged along this time, too restless to just sit around at home. Murphy snarked at him for being so antsy, but Connor knew his brother was thankful to have the company.
The waiting room felt incredibly small and stifling, and Connor couldn't stop moving. He wished he could smoke in there. He considered going outside for a cigarette, but he wanted to be there when Murphy came out.
Connor was on his feet the second he heard the door open. One look at the expression on Murphy's face and he knew, without a trace of doubt, that he wasn't going to like what he was about to hear.
He held his breath, waiting for Murphy to speak, but when he did all he said was, "Let's get the fuck out of here, yeah? Fuckin' hate these places."
Once outside, they wandered for a while, not saying anything. Connor felt like he was going to explode if he didn't know what the diagnosis was, but he didn't push. Murph would tell him when he was ready.
About a block from home, they paused and each lit a cigarette. Murphy inhaled deeply, blowing a smoke ring, and said quietly, "Cancer."
Connor blinked, hoping he'd heard wrong. He struggled to speak. "What?"
Murphy met his gaze, brow furrowed. "The doctor. Said it's somethin' called lympathic cancer." He looked away and added, almost inaudibly, "Said it's terminal."
It felt like someone had stabbed Connor in the stomach. He opened and closed his mouth a few times. "A-Are...are they sure?"
His brother nodded, still not making eye contact. "Yeah." Murphy flicked his cigarette away.
"How..." Connor swallowed. "How long?"
"Couldn't give a definite answer. Might be five years, might be five months." He looked at Connor and gave a half-hearted smile. "Bit embarrassin', really. Always thought we'd both go down in a blaze of glory, y'know?"
A noise came out of Connor's mouth that might, under other circumstances, have been a laugh. He stared at Murphy's discarded cigarette, trying to block out everything else in the world and just focus on the tendrils of smoke still rising from the end. He was dimly aware of Murphy gently grasping his shoulder, and his brother's voice sounded distant, like it was coming from underwater. "Are ya all right, Con?"
Trust Murph to be more concerned about Connor's well-being. Connor opened his mouth to speak, but his voice was gone. He could only look at Murphy, praying that his brother would suddenly burst out laughing and say he was kidding, that he was fine, that he wasn't...
He didn't even realize Murphy was hugging him until his own arms wrapped around his twin's waist of their own volition. Connor pulled Murphy as close as he could and buried his face in the crook of his neck. He wasn't crying - though he was pretty sure there would be tears later - but he was shaking violently enough to rattle his teeth.
Murphy was running a hand through his hair. Connor clenched his fists in his brother's shirt, as if to say to the world, No. Mine. You can't take him. I won't fuckin' let you.
"Isn't there anythin' they can do?" Connor whispered.
Murphy's silence was eloquent. Connor pushed his face further into his brother's neck, and for a moment he could almost convince himself that this wasn't really happening, because he could feel Murphy's pulse, steady and normal and healthy, beneath his lips, and it didn't seem possible that anything could be wrong.
Then he felt the irregular way Murphy was breathing, and he knew that no amount of trying to convince himself this wasn't real would change anything.
Connor wasn't sure how long they stood there, clinging to each other, only that it was growing dark by the time Murphy pulled away and said they should get home. He let Murphy grasp his hand and pull him forward, his feet moving without any conscious order to do so. Connor didn't snap out of his trance-like state until he felt Murphy maneuvering him down into a chair.
"D'you want dinner?"
Connor shook his head weakly, unable to focus his eyes on anything. He heard liquid being poured and looked up as Murphy offered him a shot of whiskey. "Think you need it more than I do."
The alcohol, as Connor expected, did nothing to dimish the gnawing ache in his gut, but he was glad for it anyway. It made things seem almost normal. He watched Murphy refill the glass and down it, then said, "Come sit with me?"
Normally, Murphy would have laughed and called Connor a girl for wanting to cuddle, but now he just set down his glass and slipped down onto the chair beside Connor. Connor wrapped his arms around him and kissed his neck.
"You're a fuckin' bastard, y'know that?" Connor muttered, tracing the tattoo on Murphy's neck.
He felt Murphy huff a quiet laugh. "Oh really? And why is that?"
"Ya think you're just gonna fuckin' leave me?" Connor looked up at him. "Ya think I'm gonna let you just...No fuckin' way, Murph."
Murphy kissed his temple. "Not a whole hell of a lot you can do, Con," he answered softly.
"Just fuckin' watch me." Connor pressed a kiss to Murphy's jaw. "I'm not lettin' you go."
"You might have to."
Connor shook his head. "No."
"Connor..." He brushed Connor's hair back from his forehead. "There's not anythin' that-"
"There's gotta be!" Connor's voice was desperate. He refused to believe that Murphy could just be fucking taken away from him. The God they'd been raised to worship wouldn't let that happen, He couldn't. "Jesus Christ, Murph, I'm not...I'm not gonna just sit here and watch you..." His voice broke.
"Shh." Murphy kissed him lightly. "It'll be okay."
"How the fuck can you say that?" Connor pulled his twin closer, trying to touch as much of his brother as he could, wondering if he could maybe pull the sickness out of Murphy's body and into his own somehow. "You're askin' me to live in a world without you."
Murphy sighed. "Look...if ya promise not to get your hopes up, I'll tell ya what the doctor said, all right?" He kissed Connor's temple again. "He did say there was a new experimental treatment of some sort, one that might work...Asked if I'd be willing to try it. I said I'd think about it. The success rate's somethin' like ten percent or less, Con. That's why I didn't wanna mention it."
It was like throwing a life jacket to a drowning man. "Do it," Connor said firmly. "Whatever it is, do it."
"It's fuckin' expensive."
"You think I fuckin' care? I'll knock over fuckin' Fort Knox if I have to." Connor's voice took on the pleading tone it always did when he was trying to convince Murphy to do something for his own good. "Please, Murph. You haven't got anythin' to lose, after all." And I have everythin' to lose if you don't.
His brother looked thoughtful as he played with Connor's hair. Finally he said, "If I agree to try it, you need to promise me you won't get your fuckin' hopes up. Because that'll just make things harder when-"
He sighed again. "If it doesn't work." Murphy looked him square in the eye, a solemn look on his usually untroubled face. "Promise me, Con. I'm not gonna do anythin' until you do. Promise me."
How the fuck am I supposed to not get my hopes up? Connor thought, but all he said was, "I promise, Murph."
Murphy searched his face for a moment, and eventually he nodded, satisfied. "Okay." He gave Connor a light kiss. "Okay. Tomorrow we'll go and get everythin' sorted." He kissed Connor again, this time with more enthusiasm.
Connor instantly deepened the kiss, cupping Murphy's face in his hands and trying to lose himself in the taste and feel of his brother. For just a little while, the only things Connor was even aware of were Murphy's lips against his and Murphy's hand caressing his neck. For just a little while, everything was fine.
Connor didn't sleep a wink that night. He lay on the bed they shared, wrapped around his brother, a hand resting on Murphy's chest to feel the beat of his heart. His eyes never left Murphy's face. The thought of not falling asleep and waking up to that face every day made Connor's heart constrict.
He had promised not to get his hopes up, but he didn't see how he could keep that promise. Because if he didn't get his hopes up - if he didn't believe with every bit of faith he had that it would work - he didn't think he'd be able to cope.
A ten percent rate of success didn't inspire much confidence, but it was better than nothing. And Murph would fight this with everything he had, Connor knew it. His brother was way too stubborn to take this lying down.
Still, he knew Murphy was scared, even though he hadn't said as much. Murphy was going to need Connor to be strong for this, to be the rock, the source of support.
Frankly, Connor had no fucking idea how he was going to do that. He had enough trouble remaining calm when Murphy had nothing more than a few cuts and bruises, and now that his brother was fighting for his life...The thought made Connor want to curl up in bed, cling to Murph, and never move again.
Murphy stirred in his sleep and nestled closer to his brother, and Connor was struck with a vision of lying there in the dark alone, all by himself in a Murphy-less flat. Of going to work by himself, without Murphy there beside him (not church, though - Connor knew that, if he lost his brother, he would turn his back on their so-called God for the rest of his life, because he would never believe in a God who would take Murphy away from him).
Of living his life without his other half always by his side.
Connor swallowed the sob that was building in his throat, not wanting to wake his twin. He ran his fingertips along Murphy's jaw, lingering over the mole at the corner of his mouth, and through his hair. "M'not gonna let it happen, Murph," he whispered. "I swear to God, I won't let anythin' take you away from me."
The next few days were spent trying to develop something resembling a normal routine - Murphy was scheduled to go in for treatment twice a week, Connor had to set aside times where he could pick up extra shifts at the plant (Murphy didn't particularly want the money for his medical expenses to be stolen, and Connor, despite his having no problems with the idea, agreed), and they both wanted at least one day a week where they could just be alone with each other.
They didn't go out for drinks as much, partially because it tired Murphy out and partially because they couldn't be as physically intimate when around other people, and Connor was loathe to let go of his brother unless it was absolutely necessary. He would have expected Murphy to complain about him being so clingy, but Murph was just as bad.
They were both subconsciously preparing for the worst by making the most of their time together, and Connor knew it.
He tried not to think about that too much.
They still went to church, of course, at Murphy's insistence. Connor only ever prayed for one thing when they were there: his brother. He prayed to God, to every saint he could remember, even to their Da, for Murphy to make it through this.
Connor both enjoyed and disliked nights at the pub. He hated not being able to hold Murphy the way he could at home, but he had to admit that it was nice to see Murph acting happy and lively and healthy. Admittedly, Connor was a little more protective during bar fights - anyone who so much as touched Murphy promptly got their ass handed to them - but other than that it was business as usual.
Work was harder to cope with, especially the extra shifts the Connor got. He hadn't let Murphy take on extra hours as well, so those shifts were spent separated from his brother, which was hell. He was always counting the seconds until he could go home.
One night he got off-work early - some fuck-up with the electrical system, so they'd sent everyone home - and found the flat empty when he got there. Connor almost had a heart attack. He was prepared to rush back out and search the whole fucking city when Murphy climbed in from the balcony, "Hey, Con. You're home earl-" His words were cut short by Connor practically cannoning into him. "Jesus Christ, what's wrong? You look like ya just found out fuckin' Prohibition's been brought back."
"I came in and you weren't here," Connor said, face pressed into Murphy's neck. He knew he sounded ridiculous and pathetic, but he didn't care. "I...Guess I just panicked."
Murphy stroked his back. "Went out for a bit of fresh air, is all. Didn't mean to scare ya."
"I know." Connor tried to keep himself from trembling. It wasn't just that he hadn't known where Murphy was - it was the realization that this might be what he had to come home to every day, if his brother didn't make it. Not that it would be coming home. It wouldn't be a home anymore.
For the first time since all this shit had started, Connor let himself cry.
He hated it, because goddammit Murphy had enough to deal with without having to put up with a brother who was falling apart, but he couldn't help it. Connor MacManus could handle any type of physical pain or hardship without batting an eye, but this?
Murphy didn't say a word as Connor clung to him, merely continued rubbing his back and making soothing noises. Connor cried until he had no more tears to shed. "M'sorry for fallin' apart on ya," he whispered, kissing Murphy's shoulder in apology.
"Don't be. I've been expectin' it." Murphy kissed the top of his head. "I know this is hard for ya."
"M'scared, Murph." Those were words Connor would never say to anyone but his brother.
"Me too." Murphy kissed his head again. "M'scared of leavin' ya alone. Lord knows you have enoug fuckin' trouble takin' care of yourself even with me around."
Connor bit back a fresh round of tears. The fact that Murphy was more concerned about him than about himself was almost physically painful to acknowledge.
After a while they made their way over to the bed, and Connor instantly curled around Murphy, pressing a kiss to his collarbone. His lips lingered there for a while, as he concentrated on the feeling of Murphy's pulse, before moving along Murphy's neck and jaw to his mouth. "I love ya, Murph," he murmured, wishing there were words that could more accurately convey just how much he adored his brother.
"Love ya too, Con," Murphy whispered back.
After a few months, Connor could no longer ignore the fact that his brother was fading.
All their lives, Murphy had been the energetic one, the exuberant one, the one who never stopped moving. But lately, he'd been spending more and more time curled up in bed, not always sleeping, but not doing much of anything either. He'd lost a lot of weight, too, and his skin, always pale, had taken on an ashen quality that made him look ten years older.
Connor was tempted to gouge his fucking eyes out so he wouldn't have to see it.
Murphy stopped going to work, more at Connor's insistence than his own, and, worse, to church. The only time he left the flat was to go for his treatment, and he was always exhausted when he came home. There were no more nights spent at the pub, no more days wandering aimlessly around the city together, looking for trouble.
It was torture going to work four days a week. Connor had enough trouble leaving Murphy's side even for a few minutes, and being separated for several hours at a time made him irritable and sullen.
Most of their time together was spent pressed together in bed, sleeping or watching TV or just talking. Murphy kept joking about how long it had been since they'd killed any bad guys, and would constantly suggest going out looking for scumbags.
Connor would have laughed if it weren't for the fact that Murphy's hands were shaking too much these days to hold a gun steady.
In contrast to his brother, Connor was barely sleeping at all. He wasn't sure if it was because he couldn't sleep or if he simply refused to do so, but it didn't matter. Most nights were spent watching Murphy sleep and clinging to him like a lifeline, as though, if Connor held on tightly enough, he could keep Murphy from slipping away.
And then one day Connor came home and was told that the doctors wanted Murphy to stay at the hospital for a couple of nights, for "observation". Connor knew what that meant. It meant his brother was getting worse and those fucking idiots couldn't do anything to help.
His brother was dying.
Murphy's spirits were high, at least, although Connor didn't know how much of that was a front for his benefit. And the hospital staff were smart enough to give Connor permission to stay past visiting hours. Connor supposed he should thank the Lord for small favors, but truth be told, he hadn't been on speaking terms with the Lord lately.
On Murphy's third day in the hospital, Romeo, Dolly, and Duffy came to see him. Connor resented having other people intruding on his time with his brother, but the smile on Murphy's face when they walked it completely worth it.
At one point, Murphy motioned Connor aside and said, "You've been stuck in here for almost three days, Con. Do me a favor and at least get outside for a little while? You're climbin' the fuckin' walls."
"You're goin' fuckin' stir-crazy." Murphy gave him a knowing look. "Please? It'd make me feel better."
Connor was completely unable to say no to that.
He wandered the halls for a while, not really paying attention to where he was going, until he found himself in the hospital chapel. He considered heading back to Murphy's room, then shrugged and sat down at the back of the chapel.
He honestly couldn't remember the last time he'd prayed properly. He'd figured that if the Almighty was really listening, He'd have given Connor some sort of sign by now. Still, a little more praying couldn't hurt.
Please, he thought, looking up at the ceiling. Please don't take him away from me. I've always done Your will, I've always accepted whatever fate You gave me. But now I'm asking, just this once, that You grant me this one thing. Take me in his place, if You must have a life. Just please, Lord, don't take my brother from me.
Connor sat in silence for a while, not praying, just staring aimlessly at the ceiling. Eventually he pulled himself up on heavy legs and went back to Murphy's room.
Romeo and the others had left, and Murphy was sleeping. Connor sat down in his chair at his brother's bedside quietly, pausing to brush a lock of Murphy's hair out of his face.
Murphy stirred, leaning into Connor's touch. "Thought maybe you'd run out on me," he remarked without opening his eyes.
"Not fuckin' likely," Connor replied, massaging his twin's temple. "How ya feelin'?"
"Tired. Don't suppose that's anythin' new, though, is it?" Murphy placed his hand over Connor's, and Connor winced at how clammy it felt. "What about you?"
"What about me?"
"How ya holdin' up?"
Connor considered simply saying, "Fine," but Murphy would see through that in an instant. So he sighed and said softly, "Not good."
Murphy opened his eyes, looked at Connor's expression for a moment, then moved over to make room for Connor in the bed. Connor needed no encouragement and immediately climbed in beside his brother, wrapping an arm around his waist. He grimaced a little at how frail Murphy felt beneath him.
"I can't lose ya, Murph," Connor whispered, not trusting his voice. "I just...I can't." He was too weary to even cry at this point.
Murphy ran a finger over Connor's lips. "I know. I feel the same way." He kissed him lightly. "M'sorry, Con. I didn't wanna leave ya alone like this."
"Don't fuckin' say that. You're not gone yet."
"Fuckin' idiot, you are." Murphy rolled his eyes. "We both knew when we got here that I probably wasn't gonna walk out again."
"Stop." Connor's voice cracked badly, and he pressed his forehead against Murphy's. "Please. Let...let me believe that everythin's gonna be okay."
Murphy nodded, kissing him again. "All right, Con. All right."
Connor propped himself up on his elbow and gazed down at his brother. He traced his fingers along Murphy's face, memorizing the features he already knew by heart. He'd seen that face every day of his life - to him it was as constant as the sun. He couldn't imagine going a single day without seeing it. He didn't want to imagine it.
And he knew it was irrational, but he felt like it was at least partially his fault. All his life, he'd been watching over Murphy. Ever since their first fistfight in kindergarten, Connor had been the protector, the one who kept Murphy safe, whatever the cost. He'd jump off another building again in the blink of an eye if it would help now.
"What fuckin' for?"
"For not...for not protectin' ya from this."
Murphy's looked devastated. "Don't you fuckin' think like that. Ya hear me? This isn't your fault." He placed a hand on the side of Connor face, gently stroking Connor's cheek with his thumb. "I know that if there was anythin' you could've done, you would've done it without even thinkin' twice. So don't you fuckin' dare feel guilty, Connor MacManus, or so help me I will kick your ass."
He was right. Murphy usually was. Connor swallowed, leaning down to press his lips to Murphy's. "I love ya," he murmured. "More than I can tell ya. I always have even before we were old enough to know what love was."
"I know." Murphy kissed him. "Same for me."
They kissed again, and Connor hated the fact that it felt like a goodbye.
Murphy was dozing when the doctor came in. Connor gently nudged his brother awake, and they both looked at the older man expectantly.
Dr. Connolly cleared his throat. "I have some news. The latest tests show-"
"How long've I got?" Murphy asked bluntly. Connor tightened his grip on his brother's hand.
"That's just it. The tests show that the cancer is in remission."
There was silence for a long time. Connor finally managed to stammer out, "Excuse me?"
"We thought it was a fluke at first - an error in our instruments - but we triple-checked. The cancer is in remission, and at the current rate it's going, it should be almost totally gone within a couple of months."
Connor and Murphy stared at him. Then, slowly, they turned to look at each other.
And even though he'd already shed more tears than he'd ever thought possible, Connor MacManus burst out crying.
A month and a half later, McGinty's was closed to the public for a private celebration in honor of Murphy's recovery. It meant Connor had to restrain the physical contact again, but it was worth it to see Murphy's face as he caught up with people. The youthful exuberance Connor had always known and loved was back in full force, and he wouldn't want it any other way.
Inevitably, though, Connor got tired of sharing. Murphy, as always, sensed this before Connor said anything, and he excused them from the party, ordered a round of drinks for everyone there, and pulled Connor outside.
They walked hand-in-hand back to the flat, not particularly caring if anyone saw. The instant they stepped inside, Murphy pulled Connor in for a deep kiss. "I love ya, Con," he whispered against his brother's mouth.
Connor smiled. "Love ya too, Murph. Love ya too."