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Title: Undefined And Unobserved
Author: [livejournal.com profile] chicafrom3
Rating: PG-13; language, implied violence and sex filtered through a twelve-year-old's view
Fandom/Pairing(s): The Black Donnellys, Sean, Joanie, mild Jimmy/Joanie
Word Count: 1,176
Warnings: Language. Implied violence, sex, and drug use filtered through the view of a moderately sheltered twelve-year-old.
Disclaimer: Sean, Joanie, and the fictional Hell's Kitchen neighborhood in which they reside is the property of Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco. I own nothing but my own ideas.
Summary: Early mornings were all that Sean had to himself. Joanie didn't even have that much.
A/N: Set pre-series; Sean is approximately twelve, Joanie is about sixteen. No real spoilers but if you don't know much about the series it could be tricky.
Concrit worshipped, as is general feedback.
Based on the lyrics:
Everyone you see is half asleep
And you're on your own, you're in the street




The fact that Sean liked early mornings and early morning walks was a secret, one that he guarded carefully. It meant climbing out of bed super quiet to keep from waking up Kevin, who tended to sleep hard but would still wake up if he got kicked in the face or something. And then it meant sneaking out of the apartment quiet so nobody else would wake up, either; when Jimmy was asleep, he'd stay that way through a hurricane, but Tommy and Ma, they might wake up and tell him he couldn't go.

And then, after his walk was over, it meant sneaking back inside just as quiet and climbing back into bed and pretending to be asleep, and whining as loud as Kevin when they got dragged out of bed.

But mornings were best, as far as Sean was concerned, and totally worth the trouble. When most of the world was still asleep and the streets were his, and he didn't have to be anyone's baby brother, and no one was protecting him or babying him or keeping things (Dad) from him.

Sometimes he hated being the littlest.

But in the mornings, he wasn't the baby, or the pretty one, or the only one Kevin could beat at sports. He didn't have to be little Seany Donnelly. He could just be Sean, all by himself, undefined.

He liked that.

So at least three mornings a week (that was his rule) he woke up early and listened to make sure Kevin's breathing was deep and even and that Jimmy wasn't watching cartoons in the living room, and then he crept out of bed and pulled on jeans and a shirt and just left.

He tried to choose a different path to walk each time, but really there were only so many directions to go and not get lost. But he still thought proudly that he'd probably seen more of their neighborhood than all of his brothers put together.

Well, maybe not Jimmy, but who knew what Jimmy got up to?

"You're a fucking prick, Corey Mahoney!"

The scream tore through the early morning air, disturbing the almost-silence, and made Sean trip in surprise and look up, his thoughts broken.

A skinny girl about Jimmy's age stumbled onto the sidewalk from a rundown apartment building, still screaming cuss words. She was crying, and there was blood on her face, and she was wearing a t-shirt that was way too big for her and, apparently, nothing else; stringy dirty blond hair hung in her face and she looked like maybe she hadn't had a shower in a while.

Sean recognized her, sort of. He'd seen her before, hanging around outside the drug store with some of the guys from Tommy and Jimmy's school; Tommy always hurried him and Kevin past and told them not to spend time with that crowd. Jimmy always gave her a leer and cracked a comment Sean didn't understand, to his eternal frustration.

He didn't know her name.

When the door to the apartment slammed shut, she kept screaming for a few minutes, then sunk down to the pavement, buried her face in her arms, and sobbed.

Sean watched her for a moment, checked the time, and then gave up and walked over to her. "Hey, um." He didn't know what to call her. "Are you okay?"

She peeked up at him and he decided that she wasn't pretty, not really, not like Jenny was, anyway. But then again, he'd never seen Jenny all bloody and crying, and he hoped he wouldn't ever. "Okay?" she echoed doubtfully. "No."

What was he supposed to say to that? "Oh."

"I know you," she said. "Don't I? You're Jimmy Donnelly's baby brother."

He scowled and hunched his shoulders, trying to make himself look older and tougher. "I guess."

She sniffled and dragged the hem of her T-shirt across her face, and now Sean knew that she wasn't wearing anything under it but underwear, and he averted his eyes hurriedly, embarrassed, in case maybe she didn't want him seeing that. But she didn't seem to notice. "Joanie."

"What?"

"I'm Joanie," she repeated.

"Sean." He scuffed his foot across the pavement. "What was all that about?"

"Just..." She sniffled a little more and looked like she was going to start sobbing again, which made him take a step back, alarmed. But all that happened was that she said bitterly, "Boys are pigs," and then looked at him closer. "Do you date, Sean?"

"Not yet," he said, a little sullenly. Ma said no way too young and that was the end of it. Kevin got to take a girl to the school dance last month, and Kevin was dumb. Sean hated being the baby.

"Well, when you do," Joanie said, "Don't treat your girls like shit, okay?" She tugged her shirt further down over her legs awkwardly, looking suddenly self-conscious. "Fuck," she mumbled, and looked back up at him. "Don't tell your brother about this, okay?"

He didn't think Jimmy would care, not really. "Okay."

"Jesus." She laughed a little, not a nice laugh. "Oh, Jesus, I'm really fucked up..."

He put his hands in his pockets and then took them out again. "Can I...?" He didn't know what he was asking.

But she put a hand out, and he took it and helped her get to her feet. She brushed herself down, wiped at her face, which only smeared the blood and tears around, and tugged at her shirt again. "You're gonna be a real heartbreaker someday, Sean Donnelly," she said, giving him a watery smile. "Just don't be a creep about it, all right?"

"Kay." He wanted to ask her what, exactly, being a creep about it would entail, but he didn't. "Are you gonna be okay?"

"No...I guess. I should probably go home." But she still hesitated.

"I'll walk you," he offered impulsively, and was rewarded with a slightly larger watery smile.

"See? Heartbreaker."

They didn't talk much on the walk. Joanie only lived a few blocks away, which was probably a good thing since she was barely dressed and Sean was keeping a close eye on the time, trying to judge when he'd have to turn around to get back before anyone noticed he was gone. But every so often, she would say something that didn't seem to make much sense, or just repeat, "Jesus, I'm so fucked up." Sean stayed quiet, turned in on himself, wondering what Corey Mahoney had done to her.

"This is it," she said, and they stopped walking. Sean dug his hands deeper into his pockets and waited for her to go inside so he could leave. She surprised him, though, darting forward to kiss him lightly on the cheek. "Gonna be a real heartbreaker when you grow up," she repeated with an unsteady laugh. "Tell your brother I said hey, okay?" And then she was gone, slipping silently into the building, and he watched her go open-mouthed.

At last, though, he turned away and began the slow walk home.
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