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And We All Fall Down

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Stumbling drunken (tipsy, fuck you) down a dark, wet alley--silver in moonlight and then not--you can't tell where your feet are. And if you can't tell where your feet are, chances are you're not noticing the shadow of a guy sidling up until he's right there and. One step, two step, fall. Stumble, and that's the key, because Connor hasn't come out yet and you said you were just going for a smoke. Just a crash and burn.

Luck has nothing to do with being kneed in the chest (because that's just how you happened to look up so fuck). Not much air in there in the first place, so the gasp and sticky wheeze isn't a surprise. No surprise, and this has to be a guy who'd come in earlier. Shot his mouth off, tipped a table. No problem, that was Connor's fist between his eyes then, but look at this. Not a fair fight. You could be fucked.

"Hey—" grate pulled tight to a stop, every tooth in your jaw clacking down and echoing because there's nothing else here but building, building and water pooling cold between your fingers because you've been knocked down. This is your ribs throbbing just once and then your vision wobbling to the left because the fist's come crack down. Snap. Stutter.

Sounds like glass twisting into asphalt under the rubber end of a boot. Sharp sudden bounce back, and that's just your head whipping and your neck snapping funny. Nothing broken, nothing broken, just blood. Blood, blood. Leaning over and forward, might be moaning, might be waiting, might not be fighting back, and what the fuck just happened. This far off it could be an inch, from the puddle, the cool, from laying face down. Blood dribbling hot over lips and teeth sneering, like the taste in your mouth, the tingle behind your eyes--thud and ache and fingers curling hard inward, scraping down.

"You fucking Irish--" and that's all he says. All he fires out before Connor. (before Connor, five minutes after you've stepped out--just that antsy and somewhere nervous and leaning sideways from whatever he'd been drinking--followed) Before Connor's saying, and not even saying, how can he be saying something when it's something this different—when it's a howl. When he howls at this guy, roars, and it's what the fuck are you doing and then he's off. And people like this, in dark allies, you don't just punch back and spit at their feet--you're half in light and half in dark, swinging out iron law that's don't fuck with me, don't fuck with my brother and an echo (grunting, twisting fabric pull, wet skidding boot heels) nothing shy of beautiful.

Nothing shy of Connor shredding his knuckles open and thick and oozing, blood caked on like mud because now it's raining. Nothing shy of Connor grinding his teeth down into the permanent scowl he's giving this guy until he drops. Until the guy (doesn't only sag, doesn't only sway) drops, and stays there. Connor wheeling back like how suddenly drunk he is and just standing, flexing fingers, and you can hear the snap crackle from here. From blinking through a bruise swelling over the edges of your eyes everything's blurry. From sucking the blood and the rain off your lips as you stand.

And of all the things to say, it's fuck.

Fuck, fuck, Connor.

Connor coming up, walking straight, breathing through his mouth and spitting strings of rain water, inspects (fingers pressing over and smearing, blood clotted and dark over your lip). Nods and swallows and rubs the back of his knuckles into his damp shirt. Happy twenty-first, he's saying, and that's a smile on his face. And it's nothing shy of beautiful.