Fandom: Public Enemies
Summary: Johnny reflects back on his life with Mel.
Date Of Completion: January 18, 2010
Date Of Posting: January 26, 2010
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Universal does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 891
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
The entire series can be found here.
Johnny watched his Mel circulate among the patrons of the café, the Southerner impeccably-dressed as always in a crisp white seersucker suit and fedora, a yellow rose in his lapel. He spoke nearly flawless French, but thankfully still retained his beautiful South Carolina accent.
Johnny had fallen hard the first time he had heard those honeyed tones say his name, and he still got the same little shiver even after all these years. It turned him on, like the kids said nowadays.
He grimaced as he massaged his left shoulder. That old bullet wound from the botched Sioux Falls bank job was acting up again.
He sighed. The days of Jackrabbit Johnny were long over.
He pushed his wire-rimmed granny glasses up his nose. He really needed these for more than disguise now. Glancing down at the newspaper with its screaming headlines, he read it again.
He looked up at a burst of laughter, watching his Mel charm these cynical Frenchmen-and-women. Gray at the temples, his lover was still as slender and trim as when they’d first met nearly forty years ago.
Johnny patted his stomach ruefully. It was always a battle to keep his bulge down. He loved food, and it wasn’t as easy keeping the pounds off as the years slid by, but looking good for his Southern bell was a great motivator.
Warm breezes drifted through the windows of the café. Ah, springtime in Paris.
Johnny sipped his wine. He was a very lucky man. He’d had love in his life from his family, and romantic love, too. He’d been married for a short time when he was very young, but Beryl had divorced him when he’d been sentenced to ten years in prison. He didn’t blame her. He probably would have done the same thing. Fortunately there had been no kids involved.
He had felt gratitude and love of a sort for Walter Dietrich, his protector and mentor in prison, and brotherly love for good men like Red and Homer. He had briefly romanced Billie Frechette, but they hadn’t had enough time together for something to build. He was glad she’d been able to find someone to marry and even get some benefit out of her brief association with him, going on a cross-country lecture tour with him as the subject.
And then, there was Mel.
Mel, who had been the man charged with bringing him in, and became the man who gave up everything for him.
It had been a wild ride. Johnny had robbed banks and eluded the Bureau, now the FBI, and Mel had been his pursuer, the two of them falling in love. Then there was the escape to France, the tumult of the War, and their time in the Far East. Somehow they had ended up in Seoul on the day the North Koreans crossed the 38th Parallel, Mel grumbling that somehow Johnny always managed to get them shot at, Johnny laughing, but Mel still followed.
There were bold forays back to the States during the days of the New Frontier, Mel declaring him crazy as they’d gone to Washington, D.C. for JFK’s Inauguration, walking right past the FBI Building, ‘bold as brass’. After that it was off to Canada, then England, and finally France, back where they had started their world tour decades ago.
Yes, Mel had followed him. He was sweet and gentle and usually deferred to Johnny’s lead, but when he felt strongly about something, he let Johnny know. They had experienced some spectacular fights, but the make-up sex had been great!
Throughout it all, his Mel had remained devoted, looking at him with love shining in liquid-dark eyes. It was something that Johnny held close to his heart, humbled by such a wonderful man loving him so dearly and for so long. How did he rate such a cultured, educated, aristocratic man as his partner for life?
You must have something, Dillinger.
Mel had worked the room and was now approaching their table, limping slightly, courtesy of a bullet wound received when fleeing the Gestapo after a mission gone wrong, right through the streets of this very city. Johnny was going to miss France, but it was time to go home. Despite how cosmopolitan they’d become over the years, Johnny was still deep down an Indiana farmboy who loved baseball and hot dogs, and Mel was a South Carolina aristocrat who could trace his family lineage back to the days before the Revolution who loved football and fried chicken.
“Looks like you said goodbye to half of Paris.”
Mel laughed. “You’ll have to take the tour, too. You’re the extrovert around here.”
“Okay, okay. Let’s do this.”
Johnny stood, a little stiff, and took Mel’s hand, his other hand adjusting the yellow rose in his shirt pocket. The French really didn’t give much of a damn that the two of them were lovers. They’d always been discreet in public, but even this simple hand-holding would be verboten back home. Pros and cons in everything, he supposed. What the hell? He kissed Mel gently, his lover startled, but he smiled and kissed back, cheers and grins all around the café.
He took one last look at the newspaper and smirked, letting Mel pull him toward one of the tables.
The headline read, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover Found Dead.*
*J. Edgar Hoover died May 2, 1972.