When brothers agree, no fortress is so strong as their common life.
It's the middle of the night, and most of what Connor knows as he starts not being able to ignore the damn voice is that he, Connor, does not want to wake up. He's tired and it's a bit cold and he's still hungry, because Ma had been sleeping when they got home and hadn't got or made any food, and it was a bit tricky when that happened. You could eat all the bread and jam you wanted, but it wasn't like real food. And if he were to wake up up, Connor would have to remember all that, instead of being in warm soft darkness.
But his ears keep hearing, "Connor. Connor. Connor, wake up," and it sounds like his brother's voice, so in the end, Connor gives up, rolls over and demands, "What the hell do you want?"
It happens he actually gets the smell before Murph manages to say, "I think I'm sick."
Connor sits up and pushes the blankets away as fast as he can, just in case any got on him. It doesn't look or feel like it, though, when he runs his hands over his own arms and chest in the dark. He fumbles for the stupid torch by the side of their bed, switches it on and manages to shine it over his brother and his brother's mess.
Murphy looks fucking awful, all grey-white and dark under his eyes and, well, sick all over his side of the bed. "You only got it on everything," Connor complains, and gets a bit worried when Murph only looks worse instead of shooting back. Connor tries to remember what Ma does, when she's sober, and reaches over to touch Murphy's head, wondering how you tell if it's a fever.
Then he doesn't wonder anymore, because Murphy's forehead feels far, far too hot. Connor chews on the inside of his mouth while his brother huddles, and Connor thinks both of their ears are straining hard.
But what comes from Ma's room are the snores of the well and truly drunk, and even if they could wake her up, she'd be more likely to be sick herself than be any help.
"Go wash it off yourself," Connor orders in the end, giving Murph's cleaner shoulder a shove. "C'mon, go. Wash your hair too, it's in your hair."
When Murphy stumbles off, Connor gets up and frowns at the bed. In the end, he just pulls everything off, sheets and all. Murph got sick mostly on the blanket, and it doesn't smell or look like any of it soaked through to the mattress, although it is a bit hard to tell with just the torch. Not sure what to do with the filthy stuff, Connor eventually balls it all up so the sick is on the inside and dumps it out in the hall. Ma'll find it later, and even if she gets upset, at least she'll know what to do with it.
He finds Murph sort of sitting by the tub, not having got very far. "You going to be sick again?" Connor demands, suspiciously, but Murphy shakes his head.
"Nothing left," his brother says, sounding like a wet cat looks. So Connor finds a flannel and gets it wet and cleans up his brother as best he can.
He can't think what to do about the fever, but mostly Murph's falling asleep again where he sits. So Connor goes and gets one of Ma's big pots and puts it beside the bed. "You feel like you're going to sick up again," he says, "do it in there." Then Connor gets some of the old blankets from the cupboard and steals one from Ma, who's still snoring her head off and across the floor, almost.
Murph's shivering even though he's too hot, so Connor wraps him in one blanket and then puts the others on top of them both.
Fuck knows, it’s not like he doesn't love the guys. Rocco's never had better friends and he knows it - knows they have his back, knows they have his best interests at heart, knows that for whatever fucking reason, they think the world of him. Some ways, when he's serious with himself, he knows they're his in, too - that the lot of them, hanging out at the soon-to-be-dead bar, sort of circle in around the MacManus brothers like . . . Rocco grasps for the thought, something about galaxies, or, or solar-systems or some shit, orbits, but he's still drunk enough that it's too fucking hard to concentrate.
The point is, that while fuck knows he loves the guys, sometimes they can make you feel a third wheel in a way not even any fucking married couple Rocco's ever met's ever managed. And right now, for some fucked up reason, is one of those times.
Other than Rocco's black eye, they came out pretty good in the fight. Not that that's a surprise. Fucking Russian fucks. Who did they think they were? Although Rocco's not sure he'd've lit the guy's ass on fire. Connor's got a mean-streak when he's pissed off, that's God's own truth.
But even so, Connor and Murphy both have bruises and a few cuts, here and there - Murph on his hands where the glass from the broken bottles fell, Connor a couple of good solid hits to the torso. Maybe that's the reason he was pissed off enough for the burning. Murph'll play around sometimes, get into friendly fights, but when Connor fights it's serious and he tends to take anyone getting past his guard real personal.
Actually, come to think of it, Connor can take a lot personal. It's like a gift.
It makes for Rocco standing around feeling totally useless, though. They got him some ice for his eye (ice which Connor swore hadn't been on his dick earlier, and though Rocco isn't sure he believes him, it feels good enough he doesn't care), but that was really his only problem. So now he's just sort of sitting there, while Murph makes sure Connor wasn't bleeding from anything and put one of those big-ass bandaids on the one long scrape he does have on his shoulder so it won't bleed all over his sheets, and Connor takes a look at Murphy's hands and put ssome kind of antibiotic shit on them.
While they're at it, Rocco kind of feels like he doesn't exist. Neither of them pay any attention to him as Murphy says, "Thanks for the help there, by the way," and Connor says, "Y'know, if I'd helped you, you'd be fucking whining about me ruining your fun."
So eventually he says, "I'm gonna go home, okay?" And then it's all yeah, right, good night, great job tonight buddy, see you sometime tomorrow and back slapping and Rocco wandering out hoping he can remember the route home, because let's face it, he's still kind of drunk.
It isn't like he doesn't love the guys, but sometimes, Rocco gets the feeling that one day they'll be long gone, still the whole world to one another, and he'll be left behind in the dirt.
The weight of the gun, the way that after everything they've done, this time it shakes a little, the sound of his own voice - We're going to the fucking hospital. Come or leave, I don't give a fuck - and the stunned look on their da's face: Murphy figures the memory of all those won't be leaving him for a while. No matter how much he wished it would. And he really did.
Or the image of Connor going whiter and whiter, as whatever was torn up inside bled itself in around his guts and everything else, and trying to tell Murphy to shut up, while Murphy ignored him completely.
God damned idiot, Da had said, snarled, probably the first time Murphy'd seen the old man really lose his temper since that fucking basement, you're going to wind up in the inside of a -
Better that, Murphy'd cut him off, than ending up alone. And their father'd at least had the sense not to say he wouldn't be, he'd still be there, as if that were any kind of fucking consolation.
Of course, because Connor's Connor, he was still trying to argue it wasn't that bad. But seeing as Murphy fucking knows what internal bleeding looks like, he'd taken the position that Connor could shut the fuck up. (Although Connor going semi-conscious wasn't favourite for how to do that, fucking damn it.)
And besides, Da was, is, wrong. They won't end up on the inside of anywhere, much less an actual fucking prison. Their IDs are good, they're in fucking Portland, and they've got favours to call in and favours to owe, if they need to. And the willingness to do whatever they have to, in the end.
Fuck the old man, anyway. The thought burns in his head like acid from Hell.
"And fuck you, too," Murphy adds under his breath, glaring at his brother, still under from the anaesthetics. "'It's nothing. I'll be fine.' Fucking shit-licking moron."
It's nowhere near as satisfying when Connor can't say anything back, or even roll his eyes. Murphy slouches in his chair. Then he tries to remember how to smile when one of the nurses (older lady, but nice, and good at her job) comes in to check on Connor. She fusses around doing nurse-y things, but she doesn't look worried, and Murphy just stays slouched where he is.
"You sure you don't want me to call the police, hon?" she asks, because she's one of that kind of older lady, who acts like everyone in the world is her son. Murphy tries harder to dredge up that smile and shakes his head.
"Not much point, really," he says, trying to make sure she just sees a sweet kid. Because to this kind of woman, everyone who looks younger than she is stays "kid" in her mind forever. "I didn't see anyone's face, I don't think my brother did, and nobody else was around. What are we going to say - 'somebody jumped us and ran away, we can't give you any idea as to who'?" He shrugs, in a kind of wry, good-natured helplessness. "Just a waste of their time."
"Well," says the nurse, "you change your mind, you let me know." She leaves, and Murphy doesn't think she suspected anything, except maybe that they'd started the fight themselves. And there, well, she didn't know the half of it.
Murphy digs finger and thumb lightly into his eyes and tries to think - what the fuck was it? Strategically, that's it. The thing that's usually Connor's job, Murphy flinging the ideas and the brilliance and his brother figuring out how the fuck to turn that into real world shit, with plans and maps and knowing where they'd sleep at night. They've got money: Murphy made sure of that. Might be down a bit on supplies and weapons, because, well -
Connor might flip his fucking shit when he wakes up, because Da is gone - completely gone, car and all, as far as Murphy can tell - but he'll be alive to flip his shit, which Murphy'll take over the alternatives any time. Besides, they can get more of the other shit. They can get more of all of it. They can do anything they fucking want, as long as one of them isn't fucking stupid enough to get himself fucking killed - Connor - because he cares too much about what their father thinks.
Murphy sighs, lets his hand fall. Pretty soon, he's going to have to go outside for a smoke, unless he wants to go insane. But maybe not yet.