by Brendon

Sean Murphy hurts. The blunt throbbing in his skull has now reached the level of relentlessness, and his chest seems to be heaving on its own accord. After unsuccessfully trying to make out the illuminated digits of his alarm clock for several minutes, he decides to head for the bathroom, catching the clock's too-red display of information on the way. Two in the morning and another fucking beautiful wake-up call, he thinks to himself, searching blindly for the light switch in the hall. After a few futile attempts, he locates the switch and eyes his reflection in the small mirror.

He bites his lower lip, looks down, places his hand on his chest. He rubs back-and-forth, scratching occasionally, until a reddish spot manifests itself beneath the fur.


His reflection is partially obstructed by a spot of toothpaste from God-knows-when, a reminder of the painful state of his current dwelling. Murphy has never been one for domestic upkeep, but this was getting fucking absurd. He reaches for the faucet, splashes cold water on his face, lets the icy liquid drip off at its own pace; he looks in the mirror again. He sees lines that weren't there last year, last week. The funny thing is, it doesn't seem to bother him. (Should it?) Maybe this is why he finds the whole goddamn thing so hard to swallow.

He is alone. He was alone last night, and the night before that. He had come to accept this, up until he started working in Em City. Now things had changed, things were different. Sometimes he wished he had never seen Tim McManus again; he was beginning to make friends with solitude, and Tim had royally fucked it up. (Goddamn him.) Many thoughts run through Murphy's head at this moment, and he doesn't understand it, any of it. He thinks of his father, and what he would say if he knew what was keeping his youngest son awake at night. (I tried to make you proud, Pop. I really did. But I'm tired now, and I can't fucking try any more.)

When did he get so fucked-up? Since he came to Oz, everything had coagulated into a nauseating scab of time: work, home, jack off, think, lie in bed, think. (Do what you have to do, right, Pop? Life's hard, it fucking hurts.)

For a second or two, he considers seeing a shrink to talk about his "feelings," then laughs out loud at the thought shortly after it occurs. He walks slowly to the kitchen and stands in the darkness for several moments. The quiet is eerily soothing at two in the morning, broken only by the ticking of the wall clock. (You could do a fuckin' jig in here, Sean, and the clock won't give a damn.) It sounds happy with its mechanical monotony, knowing that its only responsibility is to faithfully click away the seconds. It has its purpose, he supposes.

Murphy is forcefully jolted back to present-day consciousness with the garbled buzz of his intercom. He instinctively rushes to the small speaker at the front door to his apartment, calming himself before he decides to push the buttons. He says nothing, only presses the button marked "LISTEN" in chipped black letters.

"Sean...It's me, are you up there or what?" (Tim. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.)

He doesn't think twice about pressing the button marked "ENTER," even though it goes against part of him. Which part that is, he's not sure. A button to talk, a button to listen, and a button to let a motherfucker into his apartment. How convenient. He listens to the sound of Tim ascending the stairs to the third floor. It is a comforting sound, one that he hasn't heard for a long time. He opens the door before Tim can knock.

Tim stares at him for a moment, then enters the apartment, as Murphy quickly scans him. (Christ, Timmy...Still in your work clothes? Must have been a long night.)

"Hope I didn't wake you, Officer," Tim says sardonically, flashing a transient grin that soon melts into despondence. He moves to the kitchen counter, staggering a little. Murphy realizes that he is drunk, certainly in no shape to be going anywhere.

"Tim, how about eating something, huh? You smell like a goddamn bottle of rubbing alcohol."

"That, my comrade, is a fucking wonderful idea," now slurring, opening the refrigerator and taking out a relatively bruised apple.

"How about a beer?" Tim asks, immediately throwing a bottle towards Murphy. "You look a little agitated, my friend."

"What the fuck. It is Friday, after all." He successfully catches the bottle. He studies Tim's movements while in the kitchen, suppressing and finally succumbing to the urge to smile at him. (Even when he's a goddamn drunk fool, I still can't stop it. Fuckfuckfuckfuck.)

He immediately knows what will ensue as Tim throws a bottle of beer in the air, naively intending to catch it. The bottle hits the unforgiving tile of the kitchen floor, and shatters into shards of green glass and fizzing alcohol.

"Jesus, Tim." He watches as Tim starts to pick up the remnants of the bottle.

"Fuck!" Tim raises his hand, his ring finger exhibiting a freshly-carved laceration. The blood flows freely.

Murphy moves to the kitchen, impelled faster than he would have it. He kneels down on the floor to where Tim is crouched, grasping his finger. (Let me see, Tim. Just let me see.)

"Oh, Timmy, my boy. You've done a real fucking number on yourself this time."

Tim's eyes are fixed on Murphy now, in the oozing silence that has descended. Although it is not uncomfortable, the silence cannot soothe the tacit pain that they share, both low to the ground. Murphy knows this, yet Tim's stare brings him a certain abatement he has longed for in every fucking sleepless night since Oz. How did this happen? How did he get here? (CloseclosecomecloserTim.)

Suddenly and silently, he gently takes Tim's finger, gazes at it for a moment, and bends his head down towards it. (Goddamn you, Tim.) He opens his mouth and begins to lick the scarlet fluid.

"Sean, what the hell are..."

"Tim, shut up and let me help you. Give me that much."

And he does.

Murphy grasps Tim's hand with both of his own and begins to fervently suck the injured finger, tasting Tim's blood as it seeps into his tongue. He looks up at him for a moment. Tim's mouth is slightly open; he doesn't appear displeased.

Now completely engrossed with his work, Murphy savors the comfort he receives from having a part of Tim inside him. (Insidesofuckingdeepinside.) Witnessing Tim's accident has disturbed him; yet, he takes a dark and almost penitent satisfaction in the opportunity to succor Tim.

Murphy can't see as far as he would like, fucking Tim's eyes as he sucks. Where he wants to be, where he needs to be, is blocked by the hurt and disillusionment that he sees. This is what draws him to Tim McManus--he can be an unflinching rock for Tim; he provides Tim solace. And it feels good. (So fucking good, baby.) For these few, transient moments, he has a purpose.

Murphy ends his task and begins to stand, making sure to take Tim along with him. He looks at Tim once more, and it is understood that what is about to happen will not be spoken of again.

Quiet and with urgency now: "Christ, Sean, I'm sorry. I just...fuck, I don't know. I don't know what the fuck I'm doing anymore. If I ever knew in the first place...with Em City, with..."

Em City. At that moment, Murphy seethes at the thought of the prison. Walls and walls of concrete erected to constrain, to subjugate, to condemn. To hurt. Tim was in there somewhere, and he wanted him out. At least for tonight.

Murphy reaches for Tim's neck with one hand and places the other on his back. Then, before he can even fully appreciate it, his mouth is pressed against Tim's, his tongue sliding along the back of Tim's teeth. The rough bristles of Tim's goatee propel his longing, his hand now extended along the side of Tim's face.

As Murphy's tongue delves further and deeper into his mouth, he presses Tim up against the refrigerator. He unbuttons Tim's wrinkled shirt, feels his bare chest with his callused hand. (Sweet Jesus, that feels good.)

"I think it's time for bed, Tim."

Tim only nods in assent before he moves to the bathroom, closing the door. As Murphy sits on the bed, waiting for Tim to finish, he has time to think. (More goddamn time to think.) It hurts like hell, but Tim will never acknowledge this night again. Just like he didn't acknowledge the last time he retreated to him, disoriented and seeking relief. At this moment, he doesn't care. He doesn't care about the clock ticking away in the kitchen or about what Pop would say.

Tim exits the bathroom, takes off his shirt as he walks, and lies down on the bed. Murphy takes his turn in the bathroom and removes his shirt as well. He enters the bedroom again, hits the light switch on the wall. Tim is lying on his side now, murmuring about a secret world that Murphy will never be let in on. He hates that marshmallowy state between waking and oblivion, a brink he has become very familiar with.

Exercising caution, he lies alongside Tim, feels the hair on his chest against the smooth, pallid skin of Tim's back. He places his arm over him, his rough hand pressed against Tim's chest, and listens to lungs filling with air and hearts beating. It is quiet, and nighttime seems to flow evenly for once.

Murphy opens his eyes briefly. For a moment, he understands.