Fandom: The Boondock Saints
Characters: Connor and Murphy MacManus
Rating: PG-13 through NC-17
Warnings/Squicks: Angst, violence, death, incestuous thoughts, incest—you know, all the good things. Also, many sentences here are of a very dangerous length, and should not be attempted without proper medical jaw and lung supervision.
He hadn’t seen Murph for a few minutes, so Connor looked around, pretending to be casual even as his heart started to pound; it wasn’t that he always had to have his twin in sight but after that incident at Gran’s farm, when Murph had fallen into the stream and when Connor pulled him out, he wasn’t breathing, and he could feel his own lungs laboring, straining, he just felt better when he knew what Murph was up to.
It was a rare treat, whether they were home or in Boston, so when Connor nearly stumbled over the abandoned sack of overripe apples in the stairwell, Murphy scooped some up and tucked them under his pea coat with hardly a second thought.
It was the endless battle—“’Twas me!” “No, you wanker, ‘twas me!”—and even when it changed from words to blows, Ma just laughed the harder; and if she eventually did tell them which one was born first, they both knew they probably wouldn’t believe her.
One decent piece of furniture, Murphy thought, staring up at the dark ceiling, the cracks he knew were there hidden by the night, an’ I’d share it, o’course, one night for me an’ then one night for Con, anything to get the fuckin’ mattresses off the floor . . . then he sighed and closed his eyes, willing himself not to hear the skittering of tiny bodies across the floor.
Despite what the Yanks thought, there were people in Ireland—and England, too, surprisingly enough—who heartily preferred not to drink tea, and Connor wished to Heaven sometimes that his twin was not one of them; he simply groaned whenever he saw Murph carrying one of those extra-large Starbucks cups, and started thinking of ways to deal with a brother overdosed on caffeine.
It wasn’t until afterwards—after they’d left the hotel and all the blood and bullets and bodies, after they’d cowed Rocko into shutting up so they could leave—that Murphy started thinking about it; he stared blindly at Connor, walking in front of him, illuminated by the streetlamps and looking for all the world like nothing was wrong, and he couldn’t stop himself from wondering about the state of his soul.
What he felt now wasn’t really feeling, but the opposite of feeling; he’d felt enough before when the bullets ripped through Murphy’s chest Da dragged him away from the sight of Murphy’s ruined, blood-soaked body the alley where they’d been ambushed and stashed him in this dirty motel room; he sat on the bed and relived over and over the shock put his gun in his mouth, wanting nothing but the pain of having half of himself torn so violently away to stop.
They had always shared a room and long before that, they’d shared a cradle, and Murphy had thought that there was nothing that he couldn’t share with his twin that Connor didn’t already know, but then he’d had to put his foot in it and mention the dream, and then the thoughts spilled out, the longing, and he had only watched as disgust filled his brother’s eyes, setting a barrier between them as surely as a closed door.
It always ended up like this when they went to the pub of an evening—they’d stagger back to the tenement, somehow holding each other up, and one of them would lean against the wall while the other fumbled with the door; then Murph would lurch against him, all hot breath and intoxicated hands, whispering something in a husky tone that Connor had to ignore, because Ma always said that people did strange things when they were drunk, but after Murph was snoring, he’d let himself remember in the darkness, and wonder why he couldn’t say the same things.
Stern, unyielding, she was a harsh taskmistress—fiercer even than Ma, as hard as that was to believe—pushing them ever further on their chosen path, even after Da was killed, even after Murph lost his eye; she forced them to keep going, kept them handing out righteous death, depriving them of all solace but the most forbidden.
Murphy knew that his brother had the right of it and that their crusade could only end when they were dead; when that happened, he knew that the more they had killed, the less likely it would ever be that they would get into heaven, that hell would reject them, and there was no place they would be able to hide on earth.
The blood had long since dried; Smecker knelt by one of the discolored patches on the concrete floor, and without even having read the police reports, he knew—just from studying the way the chalk outlines flowed—that only one of the brothers had died in the firefight.
The air duct was almost wide enough for them to lay side by side, but not quite wide enough for them to fight; their tussles always managed to break something, and this time was no different—they broke not only the supports for the duct but the duct itself and the ceiling below, and Murphy hated that Con’s stupid fuckin’ rope was the only thing that kept them from crashing to the floor.
Connor watched Murph drunkenly trying to light his cigarette, flicking his lighter, missing the tip of his smoke with the flame, and trying again; snickering at the sight, he shook the ash off the end of his own, and it was only when Murph started laughing that he saw that he’d tapped the ashes onto his pizza.
Afterward, Connor could never remember just how Murph had managed to contort himself to cut them down from where they dangled over the dead mobsters; the one time he’d brought it up, Murph had just grinned, saying it was pure natural talent, and that lascivious smirk made Connor blush like a schoolboy.
He’d never been on an airplane—they’d come across on a ship—but from all he’d heard, it couldn’t be nearly as fine as this: the bulge of Con’s arms beneath his hands, Con’s fingers digging bruisingly into his flesh, his legs up over Con’s shoulders so that every thrust went that much deeper, that much closer to pushing him off the mattress, pleasurepainpleasure singing along his nerves, and everywhere they touched made their twin connection that much deeper; this was exhilaration; this was flying.
He had felt the weight of Murph’s eyes on him the whole time they had walked to Rocko’s, and if he concentrated, he knew he could have heard the swirl of his brother’s thoughts—how they were damned for killing—and he wanted to reassure him; but now, watching Murph try to eat the huge slice of pizza and still keep hold of his cigarette, Connor wondered if his brother wanted the comfort of a killer.
It was Ma’s favorite game, telling them that one of them had come out foot first instead of head first, but then she said she couldn’t remember which one it was, and then she’d chuckle into her whisky while they fought, because she’d also told them, long ago, that the baby who was born second was usually born backwards.
It was understood, before the crusade, before they even departed from Ireland, when they were still too young to know what death really was, that there would never be anyone or anything between them, that they would always be together, that there would never be just one name on the tombstone.
Connor opened his eyes, muttered “Oh, buggerin’ hell,” and immediately closed them again, just to shut out the image of Murphy wearing nothing but a smile and the ugliest pair of shamrock-spangled briefs he’d ever seen; covering his eyes with one arm, he was forced to wonder why he always forgot about Saint Patrick’s Day.
He just reacting, that was the only explanation; he wasn’t thinking about what this would do to his brother, knowing how he felt, but he couldn’t stop kissing her, getting more of her exquisite taste, because when he saw Murphy’s face over her shoulder, shock and betrayal easy to see, Connor knew that he hadn’t been thinking at all.
It wasn’t just that Con was kissing that woman, because he’d seen him do that plenty of times to plenty of different women, even after Murphy had made that bumbling confession; no, it was that he was kissing her, and he’d brought her back to the hotel room, and he was undressing her right there in his very bed, and he had thought he’d be angry, but he was just empty.
Da had warned them not to turn on the television when he stepped out, but Murphy had forgotten and flicked it on to catch the news; what he saw made him wish he hadn’t, almost made him wish he hadn’t been born, because they were killers, they were going to hell, and the adoration he saw in some of those interviews wasn’t deserved at all.
Most of the time, Connor didn’t speak to him, didn’t look at him, didn’t even notice him, especially after what Murphy considered “the mistake”, but there were rare occasions when Con would smile at him, warm and brotherly, as he hadn’t since Murph had blurted out the words he wouldn’t take back, and that smile gave him just a glimmer of hope that things would change.
It was a long time coming, it seemed, when it finally came, but at last it did, and through the blaze of light, Connor could see Murph and Da reaching down for him, and he yearned back with everything that he had, even those things that he thought had forgotten how to move.
At first, the orderlies were surprised—the guy with the funky tattoo on his left hand was catatonic, he certainly shouldn’t have been able to move his wheelchair from where they’d braked it—but after a while, they got used to him getting around; when they found him for the last time, he’d been dead for hours, and the only surprising thing was that he was smiling.
He tasted different now, so very different, but not better; no matter where Connor put his lips, where he licked or kissed, Murph’s skin had the tang of gunmetal and gunpowder, of blood and death.
Fresh off the boat, there were so many things that Murphy had never seen before, and it felt that even familiar things were strange; he saw everything with wide eyes, struck by the way everything shone.
Connor watched dubiously as his brother, acting even more witless than usual, stared around him at the sights that Boston offered; he didn’t think that Murphy even saw the grimy streets, the broken windows or the ancient tenements, and just for a second, he wished he could have that same sense of awe.
They had a moment to themselves, a bit of quiet in the midst of death and violence; Murph kissed him, tasting of desperation and despair, and Connor feared, even as his climax started to surge through him, that they would never really know any kind of completion, any kind of calm, ever again.
It was quiet at first, that voice that Murphy could hear muttering at the back of his mind, but it only grew louder and more distinct, whispering about the men he’d killed, the state of his soul, and, even worse, the state of his brother’s, and the words seeped through him, killing him as surely as the bullets he couldn’t avoid.
There were plenty of women at the meat packing plant, Connor knew, and he supposed that some of them were attractive enough, but it was easy to brush aside their half-hearted advances, because when Murphy smiled, he was all Connor could see, all he wanted to see.
No matter where they went, there was never a cloud in the sky; from city to city, it was an endless string of sunny days, and Connor was forced to wonder at last if the Lord had heard his words that day in the courthouse, and that the next rain they felt would be one of blood.
Most of the time, he wanted revenge—to kill the men that had killed Rock’ or his father, who had maimed his brother—but there were other times, when all was silent and he could feel Connor’s pain in his own bones, that he wished he’d never picked up a gun at all.
Many months later, Smecker discovered the real reason they lived in a tenement; the better part of each of their paychecks (not that that was much, coming from a meat packing plant) went to supplying roses at the church, in memory of all those slain without reason.
Murphy tried to keep it to himself, he really did, but they did share a room, and being a twin didn’t exactly help with keeping any private things private; he had no more discovered his unbrotherly feelings for Connor than Connor knew about them himself . . . and had rejected them without saying a word.
Saint Patrick had driven out all the snakes in Ireland, or so the legend went, but all Murph knew was that his brother was an utter bastard for teasing him about the boa constrictors under the covers the same day that Michael Riley had scared the living hell out of him with that damned book of snakes.
It wasn’t that they didn’t have winter in Ireland, but it had never come like this, with huge flakes of white cascading from a blackened sky; Connor watched in amusement as Murphy skated down the church steps after midnight Mass, his face alight with wonder, watching as Boston was covered in a heavy, peaceful mantle.
Con always did have an adventurous spirit, Murphy knew, but given his choice, he wouldn’t have had it any other way than this: laying on his back, feeling Con above him, inside him, Con’s firm back beneath his wandering hands, and a continuous litany of curses and encouragement streaming from his mouth as they both strained toward that one moment of complete bliss.
Da always took a separate room, no matter the hotel, and Connor counted it a good thing, for despite the pains they took to be quiet, the bed always squeaked, or the headboard slammed against the wall; the only thing Da did seem to notice was the bounce in their step the next morning, commenting they must have slept like angels, and completely ignoring the freshly-shagged grins they both wore.
After Da was killed, the only support they had was each other, and he thought they would make it; but one morning, Connor woke to find Murphy staring blankly off into space, holding his gun and rocking, muttering about the poison in his head, and he realized with a pang that nothing endured forever, and that even sanity could not be trusted to stay strong.
As soon as they stepped into the warehouse, Connor muttered he didn’t like it, that something felt off about the whole thing; he was proven right when the shot rang out and Murphy fell to the floor, already dead, and then the only odd thing was the sense of utter calm, accompanied by the peculiar certainty that he would kill the sniper before joining his brother.
They had arrived in spring, but they soon discovered how Boston sweltered; through July and August, Connor could find no relief from the humidity, not the least because Murphy’s way of coping was to take ice cubes, one at a time, and run them over his skin until they melted, and even when Connor closed his eyes, he could still see the water trailing over muscles and ink, burnt into his brain.
Everything they did, everything about them was forbidden—they killed, they held the laws of men misguided and ran from them, they loved each other with such fierceness, such completeness that it awed others, and the only things they truly held sacred were justice and each other.
As the interviews with Boston’s citizens rolled on and on, Connor sank onto the bed by Murphy, the blood draining from his face; he didn’t understand the adulation but worse by far was the condemnation, that people thought he and his brother had such dark and horrible souls that they enjoyed killing, and yet, he couldn’t look away.
Da looked at both of them, slowly, deliberately smoking his cigar, and when he asked if they had the constitution to do what was necessary, Murphy shot a glance at Connor, saw the same thought mirrored in his eyes—a crusade?—then they both looked back at their father and nodded without hesitation; they would fight with their own consciences later.
In his deepest nightmares, Murphy remembered—he could feel the cold sting of the stream against his skin, fear choking him as he struggled against the pull of the current, against the drowning rush flooding his lungs, can’t breathe, can’t breathe, help me, Con—but before the darkness took him in his dream, Connor always shook him awake, and the only wet were the tears running down his face.
There was no sun when Smecker took custody of Murphy MacManus; the heavy chain that bound his wrists and ankles was completely unnecessary in Smecker’s opinion, because it was clear enough that the storm of bullets that had killed Connor had left Murphy broken and adrift, and the execution that awaited would be a mercy rather than punishment.
The tenement didn’t have much in the way of heat, and it only got colder as the months wore on through November and December; Connor couldn’t remember when he’d first crawled into Murph’s bed, and he’d sworn to his twin that it was only for the warmth, but it felt so good to curl up next to him under their shared blankets that Murphy kicking him back to his own bed on the first day of spring hurt like hell.
It wasn’t enough that he was locked up in a cell, that Connor was dead and oh, how he hated those words, hated the incomplete feeling, not enough that he was going to be executed, but they hadn’t even left him his rosary afraid he was going to kill himself with it, as if he’d commit such sacrilege for comfort; all he had was memories—of the wooden beads slipping through his fingers, of the cross, smoothed by years of devotions, of Connor’s warm voice telling him not to fear because they’d be together again soon.
July 8, 2006
©randi (K. Shepard), 2006