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Title taken from the song by Brand New.
Ryan had seen Cyril bleed before. Seen him fall.
He'd even seen Cyril bleed for him.
He'd seen Cyril take a knock out punch. Ryan had felt that hollow sink to his stomach. Smelled the blood that flowed through both their veins as it spilled. Sometimes it was a voluntary situation. In a way it always was. Cyril starting fights. Cyril...standing as Ryan's shield. Cyril boxing. Ryan had smelled the sweat, and the ring in his nostrils as Cyril laid on the canvas. Out.
Ryan...always waiting for him to come to. Those seconds until Cyril blinked back, pissed and hurt. Ryan waiting until he could jump up, twist his way into the ring, ignoring the winner and the ref and the bloodthirsty celebration to grab his brother up in his arms. Cyril back to life in a crushing embrace of support. Cyril was always groggy...and a very sore loser. Crushing Ryan too tight without thought after he made his way back from that loss of consciousness. Ryan never cared that it hurt like a bitch, because Cyril was there and alive and whythefuckdidheeverletCyrilbox?? was always rushing through Ryan's head in that instant. But all that disappeared quickly. Ryan always forgot that fear and loss until that stomach sink hit him again.
When they were winning, and drinking, and partying, and together, the danger was gone.
Ryan cheered Cyril on, pushed him to train hard, even though Ryan had no hand in the actual training.
Ryan...put himself in the way of fights. Stirred up trouble. Because Cyril always took the punch.
And Cyril always got up.
Ryan never got permanently hurt with Cyril there. Cyril couldn't be hurt. Nothing touched them.
Ryan needed him. So, Cyril would just always be there. It was simple. He would always get back up.
That quickly forgotten fear only lived in the seconds after a knock out. A particularly bad blow. A guy who pulled a knife. A gun. The rest was just...rush. Life.
Ryan remembered now. That fear alive and haunting. It wouldn't go away this time. That hollow living in his blood. That pit in his heart would never be filled. It was all there was now.
Ryan sat in a hospital listening to a beep that was his brother's life. The part of it that was left.
It didn't smell like blood and sweat. There was only clean chemical astringency and that steady too slow beep. Too inhuman. Only the whiskey Ryan had brought with him was real. A burn to fill that emptiness.
Fucking doctors. 'If he woke up....significant brain damage...never the same.'
Ryan hated them. Ryan chased them away, making them pack up their words and fuck off. Ryan sat alone. Not even seeing the nurses. Waiting for Cyril to blink awake.
Ryan was seeing Cyril take punches in and out of the ring. The designated receiver of blows for Ryan. Always there, throwing himself in front of it. Absorbing the fist. Taking it for Ryan. Each shock played in technicolor behind Ryan's lids when he blinked, so Ryan stopped closing his eyes. It was there anyway. Some things couldn't be stopped.
A pissed off wop boyfriend.
Ryan tightened his grip on Cyril's limp hand.
Ignoring the clawing in his chest, his head. Heart.
Drowning it with that familiar burn.
Ryan didn't need to have that instant playing over and over again in his fucking head. It was right there in his hand. On that hospital bed.
Cyril hit with stone instead of a fist this time.
For the girl who's name meant nothing. Who wasn't worth it. A quick lay.
Ryan would've thought his dick would end up killing *him*, not...
Ryan hated the sound. Hated that little green pulse line that was the beat of his heart resting in another body.
It wasn't real.
Everything limp. Face blank. Those fucking eyes that wouldn't open.
Ryan's never closed.
Wet warmth in them. Ryan could feel it. So hot. Threatening to spill. Heat trailing down his cheeks.
Boys don't cry.
Wake up and give me shit about it, Cyril.
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