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The Hymn of the Shameless

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brittle

(adjective)

hard but liable to break easily

-----

Day 1 of (fuck, too many)

It's cold. It's like fucking ice in his bones, brittle, brittle bones that he wraps around Matt (tall but skinny, stick-thin) and Trevor (warmer than Matt but not by much) underneath the shelter of the bus station they'd picked. 

Matt is so tired these days that it's hard to get him up in the mornings. Trevor is in much the same state and Jeremy, cold too, forces them up. They're wrapped in a blanket and it doesn't keep them as warm as it should. Matt stopped shivering an hour ago and Jeremy isn't sure if that's good or bad.

And he knows they can't go on like this, but Trevor's still got a broken nose and Matt still can't breathe whenever it's brought up and Jeremy still has rage festering in the open wound of his grief and it doesn't matter, does it? Because they're together, that's all that's important. 

Jeremy stays awake until sunrise and tries to jostle Matt into wakefulness and lets Trevor warm his fucking icecubes of fingers on Jeremy's back and this, he thinks, could be alright.

--

Day 15 of (why are you asking?) 

Two weeks passes slow when every day is agony, when every waking moment presses your aching bones to your aching skin and you're so, so hungry.

Jeremy knows this. 

Matt and Trevor have eaten already, not enough but more than him, because he'd lied and told them when he'd stolen the food he'd eaten his on the way backand he's pretty sure Trevor knows he's lying but he doesn't fucking care. 

They're walking somewhere, Jeremy isn't sure, and he's leaning against Matt with as much of his weight as he dares. Matt's had a growth spurt, Jeremy hasn't.

Matt teases him about it and Jeremy laughed at first but it made his head spin so now he just smiles. 

Trevor is the smartest of them, and he somehow weasles his way into convincing a BnB to let them stay for a night, that they'll pay in the morning.

They pile into the shower together and it's warm and wet and good, and they crawl into a bed for the first time in two weeks and Jeremy sleeps better than he ever has.

(They dine and dash in the morning but he gets the feeling the woman knew what they were going to do. He resolves to find her when he has the money and pay her back later.) 

--

Day 30 of (he's too tired)

A month and the snow has melted, given way to weak sunshine. Jeremy eats a little more now, because their BnB trick works another nine or ten times before they start getting banned from them.

It's Trevor who thinks of it, of course it is, while they're laying under some rich fucker's porch, buried under a stolen blanket, Matt's cold toes curled into Jeremy's back. 

He says that they should leave. 

He's so certain about it, too. Jeremy asks questions, Matt asks fewer.

The next day they're off, hotwiring a car because that's a skill Trevor knows, apparently, and Jeremy howls as they speed down the freeway and Matt shouts out of the window and kicks the back of his seat. 

Trevor's laugh is the most beautiful thing he's ever heard. 

This, he thinks, might be alright. 

--

Day (he's lost count) 

It's hard to count when you're dead, after all. 

Not that Jeremy is dead, but he thinks he probably should be. Considering.

Let's rewind. 

9 hours before Jeremy Dooley's sudden awakening:

There's a gun to his head. A fucking gun to his fucking head and Matt isn't even there, he's at home nursing a cold and Trevor looks as if he's going to bail at any second and it makes Jeremy's blood run cold. 

It's snowing, bitter irony, he thinks. They have an apartment, now, a home, and he remembers those first few days, when they'd slept on the sidewalk and eaten snow for water and Matt had gotten hypothermia and he'd stuck around.

He'd fucking stayed and now he can see the line of Trevor's retreating back and it gives him a rage unlike any he's known before. 

Jeremy Dooley is twenty four years old when he dies for the first time. 

He's twenty four and he's just died.

(note how it says the first time) 

(because once isn't going to be enough)

He wakes up. The side of his face is sticky and cold and he thinks for a moment he's just gotten drunk and vomited on himself and passed out in the vomit but then he touches the side of his face and brings his hand away and blood, it's blood. 

With a strangled sort of half-scream, he covers his face and curls in on himself. He remembers now. He remembers Trevor's retreating back, remembers the pain of the bullet ripping into his skull.

Is he a ghost? He isn't sure. It doesn't feel like he's a ghost. A groan punches out of him as he sits up, and then stands. Not a ghost, because the moment he steps out of the alley people scream.

That's a fun little surprise.

So. He goes home, because where else is he going to go? No, he goes home, and it's-

Emptier than before. Matt and Trevor left some stuff but took most of it and they left him. 

To be fair, he had died, but he isn't thinking about that right now. He gets in the shower and washes the blood off and takes an electric razor to his hair and watches the strands fall.

He dresses differently than he had before, proudly displaying his face, because he doesn't care anymore.

He steps out with a gun over his shoulder and a brittle grin on his lips. 

He starts over.

Day one. 

--

Day 547

(He hasn't lost count this time)

He's made a name for himself, now. They call him Tim, he isn't sure why, but it's easier to slam down a thousand and say "Put it on Tim." 

And people do.

Bare-knuckled boxing is something he swore to Trevor he'd never do, but Trevor is gone so it doesn't fucking matter, and he's good at this.

The fuck he's up against now manages to get a hit to his head and it rattles his brain and makes him dizzy but he keeps fucking swinging because this is all he's good for. 

Knuckles split open under the force of his punches but he doesn't care when he rides the asshole's body to the ground and hits and hits and doesn't stop until the man stops breathing.

The cheers filter in bit by bit, and he roars a challenge, blood flecking his face and his bare biceps. No-one else comes into the ring that day but Jeremy still goes home with a neat fifteen thousand in cash.

He crawls into the bed that's too big now, curls up real tight and stares at the wall until he falls asleep, muscles aching. 

And he wakes up and does it all over again. 

--

Day 790

It's been over two years since Jeremy Dooley was shot for the first time. 

Since then, he's died a total of five more times. He's keeping track with notches in his bedpost, because if there's an upper limit he doesn't care enough to find it. 

It's on Day 790, and he's kept track although he might have lost a few days here and there from concussion, that he is approached by none other than Geoff Goddamn Ramsey. 

Geoff, who stares him down and grins when Jeremy doesn't look away, still breathing hard and speckled with blood from his last fight.

"Welcome to the crew." He says, and Jeremy can't believe his ears.

He shakes his head once, disbelieving. "Oh, you don't want me." He says, firm, because if Matt and Trevor left then there must be nothing worth sticking around for. Right?

He misses the way Geoff's face hardens. "I think I'm the one who makes that call, kid."

And that's how Jeremy Dooley gets pulled into the Fake AH Crew.

-- 

Day 850

Two months and Jeremy fits in better with the crew than he ever has before. He moves all of his shit over, and he's draped over Ryan's lap as they watch some shitty movie, explosions and other shitty action things, and Jeremy's never been happier.

He's warm, and he's fed, and surrounded by people who like him, people who love him.

Matt and Trevor are still open wounds. He still gets moments where he can't stand to get out of bed, or when the grief and rage get too much, but he has his boys to fall back on.

850 days, plus the ones he doesn't remember, and Jeremy Dooley is finally content. 

--

flexible

(adjective)

capable of bending easily without breaking