rating: nc17 overall, this chapter R for language
disclaimer: I know nothing of Duffy and do not have his permission to use his characters in my fictional story
note #1: Yes, you read it right. This is the last chapter. I cannot believe this story went on this long. I never expected it to, though in other fandoms I've written many stories this long. I want to thank all of you who have supported me and kept it going...I was so afraid that everyone would hate me for taking it so AU.
note #2: So many many many of you have read this for me, given suggestions, and even listened to me babble about it on the phone. I know this will sound like an Oscar acceptance speech, and I know I'll forget some people. But I must at least thank athousanderrors
, for the banner, and people like writing_light
for just listening to me and reading chapters for me. A special thanks to musiquephan
, who isn't even a member of this fandom, yet betaed early chapters for me. XOXOXOXO to you all!
“It’s probably good that I’m quittin’,” Murphy said, banging his head on the wall of their dorm building. “I’m not ready ta be a scholar, I don’t think. These finals are gonna fuckin’ drain my brain.”
“You’re not quittin’,” Connor corrected, giving Murphy’s shoulder a quick squeeze. It was the most affection he felt comfortable giving outside of their dorm rooms. It was becoming quite obvious that they were more than friends; they were always together, bound at the hip. They were not overtly romantic with one another, however, except in front of their close friends. No need to create any more drama. They had more than enough of that privately. “Ya just need ta think it over. I’ll convince ya ta come back in tha fall.”
“You think pretty highly of your negotiatin’ skills, m’thinkin’,” Murphy said with a grin.
“Let’s just say I know what it takes ta make ya do what I say,” Connor said very quietly, even though no one was around them.
“Fuck, ya know what it does ta me when ya talk like that,” Murphy moaned softly, hitting his head on the bricks once more.
“Exactly.” Connor grinned and backed away as Steve, Will and Jacob came strolling towards the dorm.
“Evil fucker,” Murphy scowled, walking away, kicking at a stone.
“What’s his problem?” Jacob asked Connor.
“No clue,” Connor said, his face a mask of innocence.
“Tha hell, ya piece of shite!” Murphy yelled back. Connor laughed, as did Jacob and Will, even though they had no clue what the joke was.
“Hey, Connor!” Someone called from a few yards away.
Connor turned around. “Hey, Joey!” He turned to his dormmates. “I’ll be right back.” He strode over to where Joey and Alan were walking.
Murphy came over to his friends, finishing his cigarette and carefully stomping it out before tossing it in a nearby trashcan. “I’m fuckin’ starvin’. All this studyin’ is sappin’ all my energy.”
“No, you’re just a hog,” Steve said, and Murphy pretended to hit him.
“I think I need something other than pizza,” Will griped. “I think I’ll scream if I see one more slice.”
“C’mon, Will. Pizza’s the dinner of mental champions,” Jacob said.
“No, it’s just cheap and fast and doesn’t require us actually leaving our fucking desks,” Will retorted. “How about burgers? We’ll splurge…actually go get WAITED on.”
“That diner in town has great sandwiches,” Murphy volunteered. “Connor an’ I go there all that time.”
“Aw, is that where you have your little romantic interludes?” Jacob teased.
“Would you like me ta tell ya all about our little romantic interludes?” Murphy asked, smiling sweetly.
“NO!” Jacob and Will answered together.
Murphy looked at Steve, who was studying him carefully. He knew that Steve still wasn’t quite comfortable around Connor. Murphy desperately wished that he could tell his best friend the truth, tell him that there was nothing to worry about. He wanted to explain that he and Connor were connected in a way that could never be broken, and that there would be no more heartache in the future. He couldn’t say all this, of course, but still tried, as discreetly as possible, to bring up all of Connor’s positive points and show how good a person he could be. “I agree with the burger idea. What do ya think, Steve?”
“I think you should come with us,” Steve blurted.
Murphy stared at him, as did Jacob and Will. “Come where?”
“Into the city. Those few nights after finals.”
Murphy continued to stare, though his mouth slowly turned up into a broad grin. “Are ya serious?”
Before he and Connor had reconnected, the four of them had been talking about going into Boston for a night or two, to celebrate the end of their freshman year. Nothing had been said about inviting Connor, and Murphy wasn’t even sure that Steve wanted HIM along.
“Yes, I’m serious. This is insane. You love him, he loves you. I don’t quite get it, but hey, I don’t see me in any sort of relationship that gives me the right to judge,” Steve said. “We’ll just get two rooms, because God knows I don’t want to be anywhere near the two of you at night.”
“We don’t have ta stay together,” Murphy said quickly. He really didn’t care. He had the rest of his life to sleep next to Connor. “We can split up, maybe me an’ you an Will, an’ Connor can share with Jacob or somethin’.”
“That’s crazy,” Steve replied, Will and Jacob nodding with him. “The three of us can share, and then you and Connor have your own room.”
Murphy opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by Connor’s return. “Sorry about that…they have early finals an’ I probably won’t see them again before end of term.” Connor looked at Murphy. “Are we goin’ ta eat now?”
“What would you think about spendin’ a day or two in tha city with these guys before we get on tha plane?”
Connor blinked. Murphy had mentioned in passing that the others were considering something like this, but hadn’t said anything about going along. Connor could tell, though, that Murphy desperately wanted to be included. “Sure, you should do that. It’d be fun for ya. We could hook up…”
“No, Connor, all of us. All five,” Steve interrupted.
Connor looked at Murphy, whose face was one bright smile. “Sure, of course. Thanks for invitin’ me.”
“Can we PLEASE eat now?” Murphy whined as his stomach growled. “We can discuss all this while shoving burgers inta our mouths.”
“Aye, ya big baby, let’s go,” Connor said. He bumped his hip against Murphy’s as they started to walk. It was a seemingly innocent movement, but said volumes to Murphy.
The last few weeks of classes flew by, and suddenly it was finals week. Contrary to his dramatic self-abuse outside the dorm, Murphy did well on his tests and knew it. He realized he’d never be the intellectual Connor was, though, never be into studying and reading like Connor. He was action, not thought, and wondered maybe if it wasn’t better off that way.
He and Connor put most of their things into storage, planning on getting some sort of housing off campus the next semester. Smecker had promised to find them something, though he also threatened to move in with them as well, to keep them chaperoned. Connor, who was learning to like Smecker as much as Murphy did, quickly pointed out that Smecker was no kind of chaperone, and earned himself a slap to the back of the head from his “Dorm Daddy.”
Jacob had one of the last finals, and after he blew into the dorm, screaming with relief, they called a few cabs, piled their bags into the trunk, and headed for the bus terminal. They took a bus into the city, heading for the rooms that Connor had insisted on paying for. “That’s why I keep him around,” Murphy told the others. “He’s like one of those sugar daddies.”
“Keep it up, Murph, an’ you’ll be out on your arse, whorin’ for change,” Connor had growled.
“Ah, Pretty, ya know ya couldn’t bear ta live without me,” Murphy retorted sweetly, pinching Connor’s cheek.
Now it was the day before they were due to leave for Ireland, and Murphy was alone in the tiny coffee shop of the hotel, smoking a cigarette and drinking coffee. They had spent the first night gallivanting around Boston and generally assing off. The day before had been full of things like a Red Sox game and a movie. This day was for anything they wanted, and Murphy and Connor planned on getting away from the others, for at least a few hours. Boston was where they had really gotten together, and though neither of them would admit it out loud, they both were feeling a little sentimental about it.
“Hey. You’re up early.” Steve sat down across from him and turned the coffee cup up on its saucer. A waitress appeared immediately and poured his coffee. “Pancakes and bacon,” he told her. She nodded and went away. “Thought from the noise of the headboard hitting the wall, you’d be up all night.”
“You’re full of shite,” Murphy snapped. “We weren’t doin’ anythin’ that noisy.”
Steve snickered. “You’re blushing.”
“Besides, those headboards are attached ta tha wall. They don’t move,” Murphy mumbled, and Steve laughed out loud.
“So…everything okay?” Steve asked.
“Yeah, fine.” Murphy couldn’t say that he was nervous as hell about going with Connor to Ireland. He couldn’t say that he was about to meet the mother he never knew, and that it scared the living shit out of him. “Just excited about goin’ ta Ireland,” he said truthfully. “Never been. Connor’s been goin’ on an’ on about all he wants ta show ta me.”
“Sounds exciting,” Steve agreed. “He’s okay, Murph,” he said suddenly. “He really seems to love you, and that’s all that matters. Never thought I’d say this about two guys…but what you have, I’m jealous of it. You two are really…”
“Connected?” Murphy replied with a wry grin. “There’s a lot ya don’t know about us, Steve, an’ trust me, ya don’t want ta know. You’ll find yer Connor someday.”
“I don’t WANT a Connor,” Steve said, shuddering.
“An’ why not?” Connor said from behind him, only catching the last sentence of the conversation. He flicked Steve on the back of the head before sitting next to Murphy. “Missed you.” Connor glanced around the empty restaurant before giving Murphy a brief peck on the lips.
“I think you should leave an’ come back in again,” Murphy said almost dreamily. “I like hellos like that.”
“You are gonna make me vomit and I haven’t even eaten yet,” Steve moaned. Murphy laughed.
“Just kiddin’, Steve. Conn, Steve was sayin’ how jealous he is of our perfect relationship.”
“I did NOT say that!”
“An’ I said he’d find his Connor someday, and he said he didn’t want one,” Murphy continued.
“I meant I don’t want a GUY. Christ, you’re an asshole, Murphy,” Steve grumbled.
Connor laughed. “Don’t worry, Steve. Our Murph’s just been takin’ lessons in arsehole from Smecker.”
“And he’s getting good,” Steve replied.
Connor pulled away from Murphy as the waitress approached, though he kept his leg against Murphy’s throughout the rest of their breakfast.
“You two have a really safe trip,” Will said as they stood outside Connor and Murphy’s gate at the airport. He was flying home as well, so they had waited together after arriving at the airport. “Bring us something from Ireland, like real Irish ale.”
“We’ll see what we can do,” Murphy said, chuckling. They chatted a bit longer before Will headed away in search of his own gate.
They headed for one of the tiny shops to buy food for the flight, as well as magazines and a few other things. Connor stared at the condoms behind the counter, realizing that where they were going, they wouldn’t be using anything like that, ever. “May I help you?” The clerk asked.
“Uh, no thanks,” Connor said, backing away.
“You okay, Conn?” Murphy’s blue eyes were full of concern. “Ya just went white…I didn’t know ya could get that pale.”
“I, uh, just realized somethin’, that’s all,” Connor said quietly. “We…once we’re off that plane, we have ta be totally different people.”
“I thought ya were okay with this, Connor,” Murphy said. “It’s a little late for second thoughts.”
“M’not havin’ second thoughts,” Connor promised. “Just hit me, that’s all. I guess…I guess I was spoiled, gettin’ ta be how I wanted around ya here. We can’t do that in Ireland, not even in private.”
“Are ya tellin’ me ya don’t know any dark corners an’ secluded spots where I might get a kiss or two?” Murphy teased, trying to cheer Connor up. “If ya can’t think o’ even ONE place, well, then, I’m thinkin’ yer not my real brother. MY brother would know how ta be sneaky.”
“I know a place or two,” Connor retorted. He stomped on Murphy’s foot when he saw Murphy’s smile. “You’re an arse.”
“But ya love me.” Murphy headed back to the counter to pay for his things.
“Aye, I sure as fuck do,” Connor whispered to himself.
They boarded the plane, and were mercifully placed in one of the window rows in the front, which meant there were only two seats side by side, not three. They fought over the window seat, until Connor tumbled Murphy into the seat on the aisle, whispering dirty words in Murphy’s ear until he blushed red. Everyone around them smiled in understanding as Connor said, “He’s me brother. It’s me job ta rough him up a bit, ya know.”
Once the plane was in the air, Connor settled down, head against a pillow he had propped against the window. He was snuggled under a blanket, fast asleep, his fingers twined with Murphy’s under the scratchy wool. Murphy looked at the magazine in his lap, though he didn’t see a word of it. He was going home, though the only home he’d ever need was right next to him, snoring away under a well-worn green airline blanket.