AN: Thank you to Rhanon Brodie for giving me the nod and listening to the original hash out of this story. And thank you to DeDe324 for hand holding and edit on this chapter. They are awesome writers who you should go check out if you have not already.
Connor lit a cigarette after stepping off the porch of his father's rustic home. He couldn't sleep. He hadn't been able to sleep much at all since Ma died. His brain just wouldn't turn off. So many memories, so many what ifs and whys. He had begun to regret going to America with his brother, leaving their Ma behind. They went searching for something in Boston, and what they found twas the Lord's work, no denying it. And it brought their father back to them. But they lost all those years with Annabelle.
With a hard shake of his head, and a tight scrub of fingers over his eyes and cheeks, he fished in his pocket for the truck keys he had snagged off the counter on his way out the door. He needed to clear his head, and nothing seemed to do that better than a drive.
Connor drove aimlessly through the roads outside of town, enjoying the serene cool air blowing in through the open windows. He wasn't paying attention to where he was going just that he was moving through the dark roads. It took him a few moments to realize he had stopped. He looked up and realized he was parked in front of his mother's house. He stubbed out his cigarette and blew the smoke out of his lungs before opening the truck door and stepping out into the street. He shoved his hands deep in his pockets, fighting off the chill of the damp fall night.
Connor weighed his options. He could head back to the small farmhouse where his brother and father were sleeping and stare at the ceiling until dawn and come back over here in the morning with them. Or he could do something useful with his time and continue on with sorting through his mother's house, cleaning out, and packaging up a lifetime of memories.
Really it wasn't much of a decision to be made he realized, walking up to the front door. He flicked on a few lights, making his way through the silent home. He stopped in the kitchen, looking at the boxes Murphy had been packing earlier. All of his mom's dishes and kitchen ware. They had picked through what they could use at the farmhouse but the rest they would give to a charity or the church, someone who could use the stuff.
Connor still had a hard time with the fact they were selling the house he and Murphy grew up in. Annabelle had left the house to her boys, her relationship with Noah never properly healing after the three MacManus men returned to Ireland. Connor figured it was too long apart, too many frayed feelings, too many to put behind them. Especially on his mother's end of things. She was the leavee, not the leaver. She was left behind to tend to the two boys, and the family affairs. Even after she found out he was jailed shortly after the boys were born, she could never quite get past it all.
He wished he had been able to convince his brother to move into her house. Da could stay out on the farm outside of town, and the boys could continue to help him with the running of things. And it would give them a bit of space. There was a strain there, one that Connor couldn't figure out. He couldn't put his finger on what it was all about. But it didn't make it any less of a strain.
Murphy didn't want to leave Da out on the farm alone. Both of them were making up for lost time. Connor wasn't concerned with it, but it made Murphy happy. Like everything else in his world, it tended to be good enough for Connor if Murphy was happy.
He walked up the hall, gliding his hand over the wallpaper he and Murphy put up for Ma just before they left for America. She had a long list of projects that the boys had been putting off for years with a whole host excuses.
When they announced they were moving to Boston, the excuses stopped working. And they conceded to finish the list before they climbed aboard that plane with one way tickets in their hands. Ma had a new roof and front door. Her porch didn't list to one side when you walked on it. The upstairs bathroom got a new sink and tub and was retiled.
And the hallway got wallpapered. By the time they reached the wallpapering, the two sons has been looking for any shortcut, so Connor wasn't terribly surprised to see Murphy slapping a sheet of floral paper over the hole in the wall where he had put Connor's head through the sheetrock when they were younger.
Conn ran his hand over the hole, knowing exactly where it was, though he couldn't remember what they were fighting over that day. They fought over the stupidest things at times when they were kids.
He reached for the handle of the spare room that had been used to house stacks and stacks of boxes for as long as Connor could remember. His dad had been insistent on clearing the room on his own, pushing Murphy and his brother to all other parts of the house. But Connor knew they would be done packing the rest of the house long before Da got to the last box in that room.
He pushed the old door open, and stepped into the room. Connor hit the light switch, and the small table lamp in a dusty corner sparked to life. The towers of boxes seemed more ominous and daunting in the low light of the room. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, his eyes gliding over the mass trying to figure out where to begin.
Careful not to disturb any system of sorting Noah had going on, Connor grabbed two boxes off the top of a far stack and lugged them down the hall, into the living room. Pushing the coffee table back from the couch, he dropped the dusty boxes to the floor before sitting down, flipping on more light.
Reaching over, he opened the top box, a box that looked as if like it had seen better days. Connor pulled out a small stack of papers to begin sorting.
It was an hour or so when Connor found it. He had stumbled across photographs of his and Murphy's childhood, postcards from people he couldn't remember, and a host of documents he was not even sure Ma should have been hanging onto for these many decades.
He pulled open a letter size envelope with an attorney's name in the return address. He pulled out a stack of papers and skimmed through them. He hit the bottom page and felt his stomach drop. Connor smoothed his hand over the old document before holding it up to the light so he could read it better.
His heart thundered in his chest as he ran his eyes over the legal gibberish that meant nothing to him anyway. He looked at the lines that had been filled in by a typewriter.
Child sex: Male
Birthdate: March 25, 1973
Connor swallowed hard. It was 5 days after his and Murphy's birth date.
Child hair: Blonde
Child eyes: Blue
Child's name was vacant. Connor looked at the signatures at the bottom. His heart stopped in his chest. They were neater than he was used to but that was his father and his mother's signatures. He was positive of that. The other signature in the birth mother's space was just an X, and the birth father was vacant. And the date after the signatures was March 31, 1973.
Connor's heart did not just stop. It imploded, taking his soul and his reason for living with it. If he wasn't Murphy's twin, what did that make him?