Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Mel/Johnny, Teddy/Chuck
Series Notes: My notes grew too voluminous for the header, so you can find them in a separate entry here.
Fandoms: Public Enemies/Shutter Island
Genres: Angst, AU, Drama, Hurt/Comfort, Mystery
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
Warnings (this chapter): Disturbing imagery
Spoilers: For Shutter Island, some scenes were tailored by me to fit this story. Nothing in this story references the major plot twist of the book or movie. I used the same settings and characters, but in a very AU way. For Public Enemies, nothing except for the ultimate fate of John Dillinger, and that’s historical fact, anyway.
General Summary: U.S. Marshals Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule are sent to Shutter Island on a unique assignment, and while there, discover shocking answers to a decades-old mystery.
Chapter Summary: Can Teddy, Chuck and Mel find Johnny in the notorious Ward C?
Date Of Completion: April 14, 2010
Date Of Posting: June 19, 2010
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Dennis Lehane, Paramount and Universal do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2053
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: This is a story that started running through my head as soon as I left the theater after my first viewing. Like the patients on Shutter Island, I can’t escape! ;)
The entire series can be found here.
Coat the walls
And every minute
Breathes in the ages.
Stay in the shadows
While the drama
They made fairly good time through the woods despite Mel’s limp, his sense of direction unerring as he led Chuck and Teddy to the Citadel, otherwise known as Ward C. It loomed up in front of them, dark and forbidding.
The front gates were open just as they had been back at the main enclosure, and like in that front yard, tree limbs were scattered all around, the bushes and hedges broken.
“There’s a side entrance,” Mel said softly.
“How do you know all this?” Teddy asked.
“During one of our attempted escapes, we spent some time in the woods nearby.”
“You tried escaping?” Chuck asked.
Mel nodded. “Johnny and I knew our chances were slim, but he was awfully good at the impossible.”
“I guess so. He escaped jail with a wooden gun!”
“That’s right. He busted out of Crown Point Jail right under the noses of Sheriff Lillian Holly and her men, and the soldiers they had stationed around the outside of the jail.”
Mel nodded proudly.
“Let’s get inside. Mel, you stick to the shadows,” Teddy said.
He led the way through the doorway, grateful that it was unlocked. He nearly stumbled as utter darkness met his eyes, but eventually they emerged into a corridor with dim lighting.
The place instantly depressed Teddy. Damn, if a person wasn’t severely down-in-the-dumps when they got here, they sure as hell would be by the time they spent twenty-four hours here.
The old Civil War fort was solid stone, the drip of water loud in the silence. The floors were stone, too, and shadows clung to every corner. It was cool and damp, a centuries-patina of age coating the stone. Far off in the distance, howls echoed off the walls.
Teddy and Chuck immediately went on alert, and Mel tensed behind them. They proceeded cautiously down the corridor, yelping in surprise as a figure suddenly appeared right in front of them.
“Whoa, boys, take it easy.” The grizzled cop smiled. “First time on Ward C?”
“Um, yeah.” Teddy smiled, trying to calm his racing heart.
“You boys be careful. Ya see any of these bugsies, don’t tackle ‘em yourself, give a holler. They’ll kill ya soon as look at ya.”
The cop disappeared into the gloom.
“Jeez,” Chuck breathed.
“Yeah.” Teddy turned to Mel. “Do you know where Johnny is?”
“Trey told me he’s in Cellblock D.”
“I thought they were ‘patients’, not ‘prisoners’.”
Chuck snorted and Teddy grinned.
They made their way down gloomy corridors, patients in actual cells, moaning and whimpering, huddled on cots or the rock-hard floor, barred windows their only source of light. Agonized howls sounded in the distance.
They passed a man rocking on the floor, scraping his fingers against the wall, bloodstains glistening on the stone. Another man was naked, his stare vacant, standing unnaturally still in the middle of his cell. Teddy and Chuck shivered, Chuck reaching behind him and grasping Mel’s hand. Mel was shaking.
Teddy jumped as a hand reached out from a cell with a howl. Chuck drew him back quickly.
“Down this way,” Teddy said, trying to stay focused, but his skin was crawling. A small square brass plaque was set in the wall, etched with the letter ‘D’. A cold tendril of air brushed against his face and he shivered, Chuck and Mel right behind him.
“Johnny,” Mel called softly. Suddenly he stopped in front of a cell. “Johnny!” A huge smile lit Mel’s face, the first smile the Marshals had seen from him.
He really should smile more often. He’s gorgeous, Chuck thought.
“Mel?” A slender man with unruly brown hair sat up on a cot, brown eyes wide in his pale face. Smiling, he swung his legs off the cot and grimaced as he tried to stand, falling to his knees.
“Johnny!” Mel fell to his knees, stretching his arms through the bars. “What happened?”
“Oh, one of the inmates got a little excited when we were millin’ around after the storm. Sunshine, you all right? You haven’t lost more weight, have you?” Johnny touched a prominent cheekbone through the bars.
“Not much. Oh, Johnny, it’s been weeks since they took you away!” Mel cupped his lover’s face.
“I know, honey.” He looked at Teddy and Chuck. “You gentlemen escorted Mel over?” His eyes, a shade of amber, were wary as he looked at them.
“They’re Federal Marshals, Johnny. They believe our story.”
Hope leaped in those amber eyes, quickly replaced by suspicion. “You two aren’t jerkin’ my Mel around, are you? Havin’ fun with the queers?”
“Hush, darlin’.” He squeezed Mel’s hand. “You know we’ve got to be careful.”
Mel nodded but insisted, “They’re good men.”
Touched, Teddy and Chuck drew closer.
“We’re going to figure a way to get you out of here, Mr. Dillinger,” Chuck said.
Johnny relaxed a little. Chuck was good at that. He put his hand through the bars.
“Chuck Aule, and this is my partner, Teddy Daniels.”
“You fellas are godsends, Marshal.”
“Okay, then it’s Johnny.” He looked at Mel, his eyes softening as he shook hands with Chuck. “If you can get my Mel and me outta here…” Sadness entered those expressive eyes and he gently touched Mel’s cheek. “You’ve suffered so much, darlin’, stuck in this hellhole for twenty years, an awful long sentence for the crime of lovin’ me.”
“Don’t, Johnny.” Mel closed his eyes as he moved his cheek against his lover’s hand. “I could have been free all these years, sure, but empty inside. I always had you here in my life and my heart. That’s worth everything to me.”
Teddy watched the play of emotions across Johnny’s face: awe, sadness, regret…love.
“I don’t deserve you, Sunshine,” he murmured, stroking Mel’s face.
Teddy knew what society thought of two men who loved each other, but he didn’t care. He was seeing utter devotion that had lasted for twenty years through hell and back. Love like that shouldn’t be ridiculed or shunned.
He could see the same feelings reflected in Chuck’s eyes. Warmth spread through him as he thought of his companion, a man of deep feelings who had never failed to back him up, who took care of him when he suffered one of his migraines or nightmares, who was just plain good company.
“Johnny, you should be with me,” Mel said unhappily.
“I know, Sunshine. Believe me, I want that, too.” Johnny stroked soft, silken hair. “We’ve survived so much, darlin’. We will get through this.”
Tears shimmered in Mel’s eyes as he took Johnny’s hand and kissed the palm. “That’s right, we will.”
Teddy and Chuck turned as they head the clatter of footsteps. “Chuck, take Mel and wait in the woods for me. Be careful.”
“Johnny,” Mel pleaded.
“Go on, Sunshine.”
Mel smiled at the nickname, squeezing his lover’s hand. Chuck helped him stand. Mel grunted, rubbing his hip and keeping his gaze fixed on Johnny.
“You’re sure you’re all right?” Mel asked.
“Right as rain.” Johnny smiled. “I’ll see ya down the road.”
Mel laughed, a rich sound that startled and pleased the Marshals.
“Should I look for another line of work?”
This time it was Johnny’s laughter that bounced off the walls. “Oh, yeah, Sunshine.”
Teddy and Chuck smiled at the inside joke, caught up in the sheer joy of the reunited lovers.
Mel’s eyes shone as he whispered, “I love you, Johnny.”
“I love you, too, Mel.”
Mel allowed Chuck to escort him away, and Teddy sat down in front of the bars. Once Mel and Chuck were out of sight, Johnny turned his gaze on Teddy. “Take care of him, Marshal.”
Johnny nodded. “Then it’s Johnny.” He straightened his back, rubbing his thigh. “He’s strong to have survived this place, but there’s a vulnerability to him that needs protecting.”
“I can see that.”
Johnny looked at him, then nodded slowly. “Good. Mel’s suffered enough. He gets…confused. And he’s missing some of his memory.”
“His head injury?”
Teddy felt sick. He stared at the slender man with the handsome face, still a little amazed that he was talking to John Dillinger, but he could clearly see it was the famous face up close. Had people turned a blind eye here, or just had considered Mel and Johnny to be raving lunatics?
The man had to be approaching fifty by now, but except for stress lines around his eyes and mouth and a few gray streaks in his hair, he looked no worse for wear. His blue denim shirt and jeans fit better than Mel’s, but he wasn’t as thin as the Southerner, either.
“Yeah.” Teddy could hear the anger in Johnny’s voice. “My poor Sunshine was the one who had to suffer. They couldn’t do it to me.” He turned his head, lifting a hank of hair, revealing an ugly scar. “Zapping me would have killed me, so Mel got the treatment. Clausen probably dreamed it up, or maybe that bastard Hoover.”
“I still can’t believe that such a scam could be pulled off right under the Government’s noses.”
“Believe it. The Director has dozens of files on the bigwigs. They don’t look too closely at his operation.”
“So Mel’s been hurt by Clausen and others?” Teddy asked softly.
Johnny took a deep breath. “The limp is because of a bad hip.”
“How did it happen?”
“He broke it during one of our escape attempts. Fell down onto the rocks.” Johnny’s voice was unnaturally calm, a sure sign that he was extremely agitated. “He spent weeks in the infirmary after surgery.” He closed his eyes. “John Dillinger’s a master escape artist, right? And despite the futility of the whole thing, I persuaded Mel to try, and it ended in disaster and permanent semi-disability for him.”
Teddy’s voice was still soft. “He doesn’t blame you.”
Johnny opened his eyes. “That’s the worst of it.”
Teddy changed the subject. “Did Hoover really lust after Mel?”
The face of the hardened gangster appeared, replacing the guilty lover. “Oh, yeah.” He shifted painfully, rubbing his thigh. “He obsessed over Mel. He made all kinds of advances towards my Mel, and my darlin’ barely fended him off. He chose me, and that drove Hoover wild. He set this whole thing up to punish Mel for loving me.”
Johnny rubbed between his eyes. Teddy recognized the signs of an impending headache. “It’s good of you to say that.” Johnny shifted and his eyes were shadowed. “So you seem pretty accepting of Mel and me unless you’re just stringing us along to have some fun with us?”
Teddy took no offense. He couldn’t imagine the shield that men like Mel and Johnny had to employ to protect themselves.
“I don’t care that you’re two men, Johnny. I figure in a world that could allow something like Dachau, two men loving each other is not the end of it.”
Johnny smirked, Teddy struck by that trademark grin. This man was definitely John Dillinger.
“You’re all right, Teddy.”
Teddy jumped slightly at the sound of a mournful wail.
“Don’t worry, the cops have rounded nearly everyone up.”
Teddy looked at Johnny. “You don’t belong here.”
Johnny chuckled, a nice sound. “It’s what I’ve been telling people for the last twenty years.”
Teddy grasped the bars. “Chuck and I will get you out of here.”
“Certainly hope so. Mel and I aren’t gettin’ any younger. We’d like to taste freedom again before we’re too old to enjoy it.”
Teddy nodded. “Trust us, we’ll get you out of here.”
Johnny chuckled. “Never did trust cops years ago, but I’ve learned you’re not so bad.”
Teddy laughed, too. “You’re pretty special, John Dillinger.”
“As long as Mel thinks so, I’m happy.”
“I’ll see you soon.” Teddy stood up.
“I’ll see ya down the road.”
Teddy smiled, curious about the expression. Well, it had to mean something special, and he was proud to receive the good wishes.
“You can bet on it, Johnny.”
Johnny flashed him a smile, and Teddy hurried down the stone corridor to rejoin Chuck and Mel.