by Rana Eros
Written for the Yuletide 2006 Rare Fandoms Secret Santa Challenge, for Sullen Siren. Betaed by Eliza, who helped me brainstorm the title.
"So here it is," Connor says as soon as the manager leaves them alone in the unit. "Home sweet home."
Murph's doing just fine until he gets a look at Connor's face, and then he starts laughing, which sets Connor off. There's nothing sweet about this roach-infested tenement in wintry Boston, but it's true it's home now.
They've had worse.
Murph takes a breath and rolls his eyes at Connor, dropping his duffel where he stands; there's a single tiny closet, possibly big enough for both of their coats, but they didn't leave Ireland with hangers and Ma's not here to tell them to clean up.
"The place could use something," he says, looking around the room with exaggerated distaste. "I hope you brought your doilies."
Connor makes an indignant sound, lets his own duffel drop, and jumps Murph. They tumble down together onto one of the bare mattresses and Murph laughs again. Some would say Connor's predictable; Murph prefers the term dependable.
Connor grins down at him with strong white teeth. "Doilies. What, are you wanting to display your china teaset? Can't do that until the spinet's arrived. Think it'll fit in the far corner?"
Murph returns the grin, then twists to get his leg behind Connor's knees and rolls until he's on top and Connor's flat on the concrete floor beneath him.
"You don't even known what a spinet is," Murph scoffs.
"The fuck I don't, and that was a perfectly good mattress you rolled us off of. Relatively speaking."
"Relative to what?"
"Relative to the fuckin' floor." Connor does his own twists, rolls them again, no more gentle than Murph was. Murph grimaces at the feel of the hard, dirty floor against his back. That'll leave bruises, and not the fun kind. "See?"
"Yeah, but the great thing is," and Connor's prepared this time, so Murph can't get the right leverage, though he continues to scramble for it, "if we kept rolling, we'd hit mattress again."
Connor glances to his left and blinks. "Oh. So we would."
He stops resisting quite suddenly, so that Murph rolls too far and nearly takes them off that mattress too, but Connor pulls them both up short. They end up laying side by side, crowded together and twisted around each other like they're certain they were in the womb. Now it feels more like home.
"Are you hungry, Murph?" Connor asks him after a long moment of silent watching. His breath puffs warm against Murph's face, and Murph holds Connor's eyes as he shakes his head.
"Not so much. You?"
"Maybe in a bit."
Murph nods, can't help smiling a bit. "Thirsty?"
"Always that." Connor's eyes are very blue under the naked bulb that is their one source of light. "But it can wait."
There's not much space to cover to kiss him; there never is. His mouth is warmer than his breath, and if he desperately needs to brush his teeth, Murph is no better off. It doesn't matter, the important thing is the connection, settling into each other in this new land.
Crossing an ocean isn't easy, and Murph's tired. He's certain Connor is too, so he takes it slow and Connor lets him, returning his kisses softly, pressing one chill hand to the back of his neck. Murph wonders if they should dig one of the blankets out of the duffel bags. Probably; they're in their coats and he's still cold.
He pulls back. Connor's hand tightens at his nape. "Where are you going?"
"To get a blanket. Aren't you cold?"
"Mmm." The answer's non-committal, but Connor lets him go, rises onto a hand as he stands up. "Don't suppose you brought a pillow."
Murph shakes his head, and Connor starts to unbutton his own coat as Murph unbuckles his duffel and opens it up. Luckily, the blanket's near the top, so he doesn't have to dump the whole thing out on the none-too-clean floor. Murph sets aside the jeans and tee-shirts he'd packed over it, pulls the blanket out, and turns to see Connor's bundled his coat up into a make-shift pillow, big enough for them both if they huddle together.
"Get the light while you're up," Connor says, watching him with heavy-lidded eyes.
"Best not to see you that up close," Murph agrees, and laughs when Connor flips him off just before he flips the light switch.
There's a bit of light from the window in the bathroom, a reflection from another window across the alley. It's enough for Murph to cross the room again without stumbling over the uneven floor and breaking his neck. He makes it back to the mattress, and feels Connor reach out to draw him down once more.
Together, they get his coat off and maneuver it around for another layer with the blanket. It's too cold to strip each other much more than that, and Connor grabs Murph's hand when he reaches out to pop the top button on Connor's jeans.
"Not until your fingers are warmer, stupid."
Murph smacks Connor's arm with his free hand, careful not to use too much force. A tussle will warm them up, but he doesn't want Connor getting too distracted. "Watch who you're calling stupid. Show a little respect to your elder--"
Connor groans. "Oh, so it's back to that, is it?"
"You didn't seem to like my other idea for passing the time."
Connor clasps Murph's hand in both of his and starts rubbing it briskly. "I like it fine. I'm just making improvements."
"Hurry up, or you'll improve me right to sleep."
"That's one option." Connor stops his rubbing, and Murph can feel his gaze. "Are you tired, Murph?"
"Tired of waiting. Warm enough for you?"
Connor lets go of his hand, reaches down for his jeans and they move in synchronization, as they always have when intent on a goal. Murph leans forward for more kisses, awkward with their hands in the way, but manageable and necessary, that touch of Connor's breath, the feeling of his life nearby.
The feeling of him in Murph's hand, hot down here at least, and Connor's hand is warm from the rubbing, strong and calloused from all the kinds of work they've taken on, finely made as God decreed it. Murph almost wishes he hadn't turned off the light, because he likes to see Connor's eyes in these moments, the way they go wide and helpless in a way no one else gets to see. Murph closes his eyes and makes do with the memory of that look, wonders if he looks the same, and Connor wanted the light off to guard them both in this still-strange land.
Then Connor shifts his grip, and Murph doesn't wonder anything at all but if, this once, they can stay in this moment indefinitely. He's warm now, all the way through. He's home.
And then he's shaking and gasping, they're shaking and gasping, and the moment's over. He's still warm, but the cold will creep back in soon enough, especially where they're both wet. The mattress is lumpy, the room dark and dirty, and he and Connor both definitely need to brush their teeth. He's also hungry and thirsty, and wondering if they have enough money left to buy dinner before they can start looking for work tomorrow.
The feeling of home doesn't go away, though. Connor's with him, and that's what home is.
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