Pairings/Characters: Mel/Johnny, Harry ‘Pete’ Pierpont (cameo), Red Hamilton
Fandom: Public Enemies
Genres: Challenge, Fluff, Holiday, Romance, Slice-Of-Life
Claim: For the 12_stories Challenge (Mel/Johnny) (COMPLETE!!!) :)
Prompt: T 7; P 3: Rules
Prompt Count: (12/12)
Summary: A series of vignettes in which Mel and Johnny discover the many ways to enjoy chocolate. ;)
Date Of Completion: April 29, 2019
Date Of Posting: May 17, 2019
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Universal does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 4426
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author's Note: Finished! Moving, illness, and other RL obstacles got in the way, but 'tis done! :)
1. Chocolate is one of the four food groups.
(February 14, 1934)
“What’s all this?” Johnny asked in amusement as he entered the small apartment that he and Mel were currently sharing while on the lam.
The kitchenette table was lit by two red candles and the table was covered by a deep-red cloth. There were two place settings and several plates in the middle of the table.
“What is all this?” Johnny asked again. “Honey, these dishes are all chocolate!”
“Not quite. This dish is French vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup. That’s for the milk group. Chicken with a little chocolate sauce for the meat group. Mexicans swear by this recipe. The fruits and vegetables group was easiest: chocolate-covered strawberries and cherries, yum. For breads and cereals, I got some chocolate cake from the bakery. Kind of cheating, but I won’t tell if you don’t. Hot chocolate to drink to top it all off.”
“Chocolate is one of the four food groups, though I couldn’t decide which one, so I assembled all four.”
Johnny grinned. “Let’s eat the ice cream before it melts.”
2. Chocolate and strawberries go together like chocolate and peanut butter.
(March 6, 1934)
“Mmm, now, these chocolate-covered strawberries are the best, honey.”
Johnny savored every bite of the juicy strawberry, its tart sweetness contrasting with the chocolate’s lush sweetness.
The restaurant that Mel had suggested knew how to do things up right. There were candles on every table but the place was dark, affording certain citizens eagerly-desired anonymity. The candlelight served to allow the diners to see what they were eating.
Johnny and Mel had enjoyed thick steaks with baked potatoes and green beans. Nothing fancy, but cooked to perfection. Johnny liked the wine that Mel had selected, and the dessert was perfect.
“You think of everything, Sunshine. First Valentine’s Day last month, and now this.” Johnny swept his hand over the table.
“I like to set the scene.”
“You do it very well.” Johnny bit into another strawberry. “Mmm.”
After dinner, Johnny and Mel strolled through a neighborhood of quaint shops and discreet proprietors. Johnny felt well-satisfied. The combination of strawberries and chocolate had been the perfect topper to dinner.
They paused before a window display of toys, watching a large Lionel train chug around a track. There was a mountain with trees and a village at the foot of the mountain, peopled by tiny figures as the train went around and around.
“I always wanted one of these as a kid.” Johnny put his hand up against the glass.
“They’re fun. I had a set. That size, too.”
Johnny smirked. “Of course.”
Mel sniffed. “I made all my own scenery.”
“I can just see you now, so intent on getting things just right.” Johnny smiled fondly and squeezed his companion’s hand.
Mel smiled back. His other hand drew something out of his coat pocket. He offered it to Johnny.
“What’s this? A chocolate bar?”
“With peanut butter.” Mel’s dark eyes sparkled. “Chocolate and strawberries go together like chocolate and peanut butter.”
Johnny laughed and took the candy bar. “You’re right, Sunshine.” He took a bite. “Mmm.”
3. Chocolate should be consumed daily.
(June 5, 1944)
Johnny slinked through the alley, his leg grazing a garbage can. A cat meowed, making his heart skip a beat. He went to the back of the alley and climbed over a wooden fence. He dropped down to cracked concrete and ran through a series of back alleys.
The warm June night had turned cool. Rain was predicted in a few days. That could be significant, as everyone in France was anticipating an Allied invasion this month. The Germans were extremely nervous and trigger-happy right now, and rain could delay things yet again.
He ran behind his favorite bakery and a haberdashery, clutching a box he took out of his greatcoat pocket. He heard a noise and peered into the darkness. Was there a figure standing at the end of the alley? Was he wearing a helmet and goose-stepping boots?
Nobody. Relieved, Johnny continued on his journey, reaching a modest brownstone. He walked up the steps with a casual gait, breezing his way inside via a key in the lock. He bypassed the empty parlor and jogged up the staircase to the third floor. He used another key to enter the apartment.
Mel looked up quickly from his book. “Johnny, where have you been?”
Johnny flashed the box. “Imported Swiss chocolates, honey.”
Mel’s eyes lit up, then darkened as he frowned. “You went out to get these chocolates and risked your life, you nut?”
“Not a Nazi in sight.”
Mel looked ready to explode. He snatched the box.
“Now we can have chocolate every day. Gotta grab our little pleasures where we can in Occupied France.”
“It won’t be occupied much longer.” Mel opened the box and took out a chocolate and offered the box to Johnny. “Except by Allied troops, if we’re lucky.”
Johnny picked out a chocolate. “Darlin’, I got a feeling things are gonna be lookin’ up real soon.” He popped the chocolate into his mouth with his characteristic smirk and Mel shook his head with a smile.
4. Chocolate is decadent.
(November 8, 1519)
Juan surveyed the Emperor’s personal chambers with interest. Gold appeared to glitter on the walls, and gold leaf designs were everywhere. The couch upon which the Aztec Emperor sat was some unusual fabric, threaded with gold.
Everything here was gold! He could feel the excitement in his loins. What treasures could be found here for the Spanish Empire!
And perhaps the greatest treasure of all was the man reclining on the ornate couch, like Caesar Augustus in the glory days of Rome. The Emperor’s cheekbones accentuated a noble face, and his eyes were surrounded by paint that only the finest concubines used in Spain. He wore a short yellow skirt edged in gold, and all manner of gold bracelets and armbands, studded with brilliant gems. The necklace he wore was of beaten gold and set with large sapphires the size of robins’ eggs. It looked exceedingly heavy. The Emperor’s legs and feet were bare, except for an anklet of gold and more glittering sapphires.
This time, Juan’s loins registered a different kind of excitement.
The Emperor’s voice was rich and melodious as he spoke, his dark eyes mesmerizing the Spanish soldier. He held out a golden goblet encrusted with more brilliant gemstones.
“Thank you.” Juan did not know what the Emperor was saying, but the proffered goblet was clear enough. He took it and looked down, seeing something thick and brown contained within the cup.
The Emperor noticed his hesitation. A gentle smile curved his lips. He picked up a similar goblet from a small table and drank it. He lowered the goblet and kept his gaze on Juan.
Well, if it’s poison, he just took some, too. Or just my cup has it. Oh, well, what the hell!
He had no idea what savages thought, but the royal chieftain did not look particularly sinister. With a deep breath, Juan took a tentative sip.
His eyes widened and the Emperor smiled. Juan drank again with gusto this time.
“Never tasted anything like this in my life!”
The tone of his voice pleased the Emperor. He made a drinking motion and Juan drank again. Still smiling, the Emperor picked up a golden pot and filled Juan’s goblet again. Juan drank heartily.
Juan’s loins were at it again. With a smirk, he finished the last of the amazing elixir and set the goblet down on the table next to the couch. The Emperor’s dark eyes glittered and he closed them as he held his arms out and Juan leaned in for a kiss.
5. Chocolate is sinful.
(June 1, 1934)
Mel let himself into the small cottage with his key and placed his fedora on the hatrack in the tiny foyer. He liked this modest place, set out in the Illinois countryside. It was a cool haven as the weather had warmed up considerably on this first day in June.
He could hear movement in the kitchen, so Johnny was around. He walked down the short hall to the kitchen and stopped short at the entryway.
“Holy Hannah, what is all this?”
Johnny turned with a wooden spoon in hand. The white apron he wore was smeared with chocolate stains, and a dab of chocolate was on his nose. His hair was sticking up as if he had run a frustrated hand through it, and his shirtsleeves were rolled up. He was smiling, so that was a good sign.
Mel saw the mess on the counter behind Johnny: a big mixing bowl, measuring cups, an opened bag of King Arthur flour, a glass bowl containing eggshells, and a myriad of other things that astounded Mel. He waved a hand toward the chaos, momentarily speechless.
Johnny laughed ruefully. “I was plannin’ a surprise for you, darlin’. Guess things kinda got away from me.”
“I guess so.” Mel came forward and inspected the mess on the counter. “What are you baking, or attempting to bake, should I say?”
“You know that chocolate cake we saw in DiGiorno’s Bakery?” At Mel’s nod, he continued, “It was called Sinful Chocolate Cake, remember, so I decided I’d make you one.”
Mel put his hands on his hips. “I think we can salvage this. You got another apron lying around?”
Johnny’s smile broadened. “Yeah, top drawer by the stove.”
Mel tied the apron on. “I’m no expert, but I spent enough time in my family’s kitchen as a kid to know a little something about baking.”
“That’s a relief,” Johnny drawled.
Mel took charge and found himself enjoying the impromptu baking session.
“Now, beat the eggs just so. Do we have any milk?”
“In the icebox.”
They worked well together with jokes and laughter. As Mel mixed the frosting, he knew he’d made the right decision to go on the lam with Johnny. With Johnny, he had never laughed so much. He was free, freer than he had ever been in his life.
Johnny was vigorously mixing the batter. Everything was one hundred percent with him.
“So what’s next?” Johnny asked, rubbing the chocolate off his nose.
“Let’s see if we have a mold pan.” Mel checked the cabinets. “Ah, here’s one!” He set it on the counter.
They were able to pour in the batter and stick the pan into the oven. Mel dusted off his hands after completing the frosting.
“There! We’d better keep an eye on the cake because as I’m not quite sure how long it should take. Want some coffee?”
“That sounds great. You brew the java while I start the clean-up.”
Soon they were sitting at the kitchen table with steaming cups of coffee and a clean counter.
Johnny sipped his coffee with a gleam in his eyes. “Never thought we’d be so domestic.”
Mel smiled. “Never saw that coming.”
Johnny smirked. “Who knew baking could be so much fun?”
“Imagine the newsreels! ‘Famous bank robber John Dillinger was seen backing a chocolate cake’.”
Johnny laughed. “As long as it’s sinful cake, my reputation is safe.”
Mel sipped his coffee. “No angel food cake for you.”
“Nah, devil’s food for me.”
“Appropriate.” Mel put his mug down. “Can we stay here awhile?”
“Don’t see why not. We’re so close to Chicago that your Bureau buddies would never think to look here.”
“So far so good.”
Johnny looked at his lover and put his hand over Mel’s that rested on the table. “You missin’ your old life?”
“A little.” At Johnny’s worried look, Mel smiled gently. “But I don’t regret my decision. Best one I ever made.”
Relief and joy swept over Johnny’s face. He squeezed Mel’s hand.
Once the cake was done, frosted and cooled, Johnny set it down on the tiny dining room table. Mel had set out plates, silverware, glasses, and a bottle of wine. The two men sat down and Johnny picked up his fork and scooped out some frosting to sample.
Mel smiled. “In this case, sinful is good.”
“Oh, yeah.” Johnny cut two pieces of cake and set them on the plates. He dug his fork into his slice and held out the offering. Mel leaned forward and took the bite.
Johnny laughed. “Sinful is good.”
Sinful was very good.
6. Chocolate is glorious.
(September 16, 1931)
Johnny Dillinger was the top Syndicate boss in Chicago and he enjoyed a night out on the town. He was the center of attention, just the way he liked it, and was aware of the admiring glances from women thrown his way. From a few men, too.
Yeah, life was good.
He was curious about the latest rage called the Pansy Craze. Homosexuals were star attractions at the best clubs right now. Cross-dressers, some queer and some not, were a particular attraction. Here at The Purple Peacock the star was someone called the Southern Honey.
The lights dimmed and Johnny accepted a fresh drink from his waiter. His gang was sitting at the table with him and just as curious.
The music was jazzy and the curtain opened to reveal a vision in yellow: feather boas, silk, satin, and sequins. It was an overall dazzling effect.
Feathers obscured most of the entertainer’s face at first, the slender body dancing gracefully to the music. As the feathers revealed the face gradually, Johnny was stunned. Man or woman, this person would enchant anybody.
High cheekbones. Shining black hair. And big, beautiful, brown eyes, accentuated by black eyeliner. What was it called? Not mascara. Kohl, that was it! Something those Ancient Egyptians fancied. He learned something in Miss McAdoo’s fourth-grade class, after all.
Whatever it was, kohl or Indian war paint, the dancer was beautiful. Johnny couldn’t take his eyes off him.
Which presented a problem. Watching a pansy flounce and flutter was fun, but actually being interested in one? If the guy was a doll, sure, but somehow he doubted it. Not here in The Purple Peacock. Not during the Pansy Craze.
“Man, whatta dish,” Pete said. “Too bad there’s nuts in the whipped cream.”
The rest of the gang guffawed and Johnny felt his gut tighten. He had to be careful about this whole thing.
“Hey, waiter, more champagne!” Johnny ordered to the delight of his gang. Maybe if they got tanked enough, they wouldn’t notice his fascination with Southern Honey, as she was billed.
Her singing voice was good, but it was dance moves that really captivated Johnny. He noted every one.
Southern Honey received thunderous applause as she bowed and left the stage.
That night, Johnny sent her yellow roses anonymously.
There were other clubs and pansy performers, but Johnny kept returning to The Purple Peacock every so often. And the anonymous gifts kept being delivered to the star attraction until Johnny finally knocked on the door of Southern Honey’s dressing room. She opened it, wearing a pale-blue dressing gown and her make-up still on, her hair disarrayed.
Or maybe Johnny ought to be thinking ‘he’ instead of ‘she’.
Johnny adjusted his lapels and said, “Hope you like chocolate, Miss Honey.” He held out a square brown box with a gold bow.
Honey took it and opened the box. Eyes the color of chocolate regarded the contents, carefully lifting out a piece and popping it in his mouth. He closed his eyes and let out a moan that thrilled Johnny right down to his groin. Opening his eyes, Honey said, “My name is Glory.”
“Just like that chocolate: you’re glorious!” said Johnny with a grin and closed the dressing room door behind him as Glory drew him in with sparkling eyes.
7. Chocolate is Food of the Gods.
Pharaoh was sitting alone in his throne room, the braziers’ fire nearly out. He welcomed the darkness. Melancholy wrapped around him like one of his royal cloaks.
The throne room’s shadows were thick, black and smelling faintly of incense. The occasional hiss and sizzle of the braziers were the only sounds as most people in the Palace slept in the heart of the night.
Why was he, Pharaoh of the Two Lands, not asleep in his royal chambers? Why did he sit on his golden throne and gaze moodily into the dark?
He wore a simple night garment of white silk edged in gold and woven-mat sandals with gold bands around his wrists. He rested his chin in one hand, restlessness prickling along his skin.
He frowned. Was someone by the pillar closest to him? The shadows seemed to move.
“Show yourself,” he snapped.
There was no answer, and he felt foolish as the darkness continued to swirl but no human came forth.
“A trick of the eyes,” he muttered.
He resumed brooding with a sigh.
Time passed and again the shadows moved. He narrowed his eyes.
The shadows swirled and Pharaoh watched in astonishment as they coalesced into the figure of a man, dressed in gold and precious gems and wearing the Double Crown.
“Who are you?” demanded Pharaoh. “Are you an usurper?”
The man’s large, dark-brown eyes were accentuated with kohl. His high cheekbones bespoke of royalty and he spread his arms and spoke.
“I am here to give you a gift, O Great Pharaoh.”
The voice was soft and melodious with a faint accent that sounded foreign.
“Gift? Who are you?”
“I am no threat to you. Take my gift.”
The man reached under his golden cloak and drew out a golden goblet studded with jewels of every color. They sparkled like the stars in the night sky.
“Drink. Long life to you, Pharaoh.”
Pharaoh took the goblet and looked down into its shimmering depths. “What is this?”
“A treasure from a faraway land.”
Pharaoh hesitated, but the smell of the drink was so enticing! He looked into the stranger’s eyes and lifted the cup to his lips. He drank.
His eyes widened. “What is this?!”
“Food of the Gods.”
Pharaoh silently agreed. He had never tasted anything so rich, so lush, so astounding. He drank until the cup was empty.
“Who are you?” he asked again.
The man smiled. “I am from the Gods. Enjoy your gift, Pharaoh.”
Pharaoh was emboldened by the rich drink. It filled him with sensuous delight, and this vision before him was too tempting. His half-lidded eyes gazed upon the visitor.
“Is this the only gift I am to receive this night?” Pharaoh held out his hand.
The visitor smiled and took Pharaoh’s hand as the brazier fires died down, the darkness descending like a soft cloak.
8. Melted chocolate should be used as edible body paint.
(September 27, 1947)
Mel walked into the small house he shared with Johnny on the outskirts of London. It was all veddy British and veddy charming, except that the country was still on wartime rations. Even his and Johnny’s funds couldn’t scare up a decent meal.
“My sexy love, where are you?” he called out, hoping that his lover was home.
“In the bedroom, Sunshine.”
That sounded promising. Mel walked down the hall and was greeted by quite a sight as he stood in the bedroom doorway.
Johnny was stretched out on dark sheets, gloriously nude. He lolled indolently with his trademark smirk as he rested his head on one cupped hand and his body fetchingly arranged on his side.
“What’s with the black sheets?”
“They aren’t exactly sheets.”
Mel walked in and touched the fabric. “This is like painter’s cloth.”
Amusement lit Mel’s eyes. “Why?”
“Take a look at the bedside table.”
Mel checked the jar Johnny had placed on the table. Mel lifted the stopper and sniffed. “Chocolate?”
“Apparently the French aren’t the only decadent ones around. Who knew that Jolly Olde England could inspire me so well?”
Mel replaced the jar on the table. “When did you cook this up?”
“When you were out. Like it?”
Mel walked slowly around the bed, his eyes taking it all in. It was a scene worthy of Johnny’s ingenuity. He began to loosen his tie as Johnny grinned.
Licking chocolate off Johnny’s chest was something Mel had never fantasized about, but now he would. He had experience!
It was terribly decadent, this body paint thing. Mel could feel a thrill of energy run through his groin as he licked one of Johnny’s nipples. Johnny groaned, his hand cupping Mel’s head as Mel explored and enjoyed.
“Mmm, delicious,” Mel said, nuzzling his lover’s neck.
Johnny picked up the jar and slowly poured out more chocolate onto Mel’s chest.
“Darlin’, you look good enough to eat.”
“I hope so.” Mel watched as Johnny swirled his finger in the melted chocolate. He shivered at his lover’s touch.
“Y’know, you’re like a hot fudge sundae, all yummy and creamy and full of chocolate-y goodness.”
Mel blushed. “Must you be so bawdy?”
Johnny laughed. “You love it, Sunshine.”
Mel smiled as he took the jar from Johnny and tipped it to pour gently over his lover’s stomach.
“Well, now, I expect so.”
He lowered his head as Johnny laughed, then groaned.
9. Chocolate is for lovers.
(December 31, 1962)
Mel clinked his white china mug to Johnny’s similar mug and smiled as the fire crackled in the fireplace. He drank the rich, hot chocolate and sighed happily.
“So goes another day of skiing,” Johnny said in satisfaction. The view outside the lodge was magnificent.
Johnny’s eyes twinkled over the rim of his mug. “You are a gazelle on the slopes. Who knew a South Carolina boy could ski like an Olympian?”
“Certainly not me.” Mel’s eyes matched Johnny’s twinkle.
“No one would recognize you, zipping down the slopes.”
“I should hope not, though why you should be worried is beyond me when we live in the States now and only take the occasional jaunt to Europe.”
“It pains me to say it, but who remembers us anymore?”
“Well, I’ve been erased as if it’s Stalinist Russia, but your name still evokes admiration.”
“Now why did the Bureau erase you?”
“Jayee is nothing if not thorough. You were his greatest triumph. I was his greatest failure.”
Johnny’s eyes darkened. “You were presumed dead at Little Bohemia.”
“My bones buried. Alas!”
Johnny sipped his hot chocolate slowly. “The legend’s served us well.”
Mel gently touched Johnny’s cheek. “You like parading about right under Jayee’s nose.”
“Hoover is a twat.” Johnny sipped his drink again.
Mel smiled. Mention of his old boss inevitably brought out Johnny’s protectiveness.
“I can’t argue with that.” He took a long swallow of his rich chocolate, Johnny watching his closely.
“Well, now, ski bunny, you through slopin’ about? How about turnin’ in?”
Mel shook his head in mock exasperation. “At your age, still aroused?”
“At any age, dear heart. Besides, you’re so sexy, darlin’, why wouldn’t I be all excited?” Johnny leered and winked.
Mel pretended to be put upon. He contemplated a refill of his cup but Johnny impatiently plucked it out of hands.
“C’mon, now, darlin’,” he wheedled.
“And miss the New Year’s Eve party?”
“We can make our own party.”
“I’d like to see 1963 rung in properly.”
“How about we go upstairs, party a little, and then come down and go back up after the band plays Auld Lang Syne?”
Mel took pity on him. Besides, who was lucky enough to have a sexy man lusting after him in his sunset years?
“Let’s go, suh.”
“Now you’re cookin’,” Johnny said happily and threw his arm around his lover’s shoulders as they got into the elevator and headed up to their room.
10. Chocolate is for everyone else.
(June 24, 1934)
Red rattled the newspaper and scanned the front page for any Dillinger Gang news. He turned the page and did a quick scan there, too. Nothing.
Good, though Johnny may be disappointed. He sure likes the limelight.
Red smiled fondly. Everyone had their little quirks.
He sipped hot coffee and leisurely perused the newspaper. The New Deal was making news in Washington. At least FDR was trying stuff. Hoover had done nothing his entire second term while the country had sunk deeper and deeper into the Depression. If he was able to vote, he’d probably vote for Roosevelt.
He smiled. What would the gang say about politics? Charles would be happy to discuss the subject. Pete would just laugh. Homer would shake his head, boredom glazing his eyes. Johnny would smile and throw out some clever observation and then move on to something else.
Mel? He might have met Roosevelt. Maybe he wasn’t political, but to survive in Washington’s shark-infested waters you probably had to be. It got pretty wild there, Red heard, sort of like Federal prison without the shivs. Physical shivs, that is. Washington had plenty of the verbal kind.
His thoughts drifted to Mel. Only Johnny could pull off taking a Federal agent as his lover and not have his gang desert him. And Hoover’s No. 1 boy! Johnny sure had stones.
Red sat back in his chair as he spread the paper out on the kitchen table. He directed his gaze to watch a robin hop on the branch of the apple tree outside the window. Simple things like watching a bird might seem silly, but after years in prison, you learned to appreciate the little things.
Red sighed. He flipped a page and read a few stories. Johnny was getting domesticated. Well, it was getting tougher to rob banks. The problem with fame was people began to anticipate what you were going to do. Too many nosy parkers.
Maybe he should think of his future. He could ask that cute little waitress at the diner out for coffee, see where it went. Why should Johnny have all the fun?
Johnny walked into the kitchen. “Anything good in the paper?”
“Just the usual famine, war, and pestilence.”
“Cheery.” Johnny flipped something onto the table. “Enjoy.”
Red picked up the item with a raised eyebrow. “A Hersey bar?”
“Chocolate isn’t just for lovers.”
Johnny grinned as he left the kitchen and Red opened the packaging and took a big bite.
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