Pairings/Characters: Charles/Doris (Charles does not appear in Ch. 3, 6, 7 & 12), Sam Cowley, Carter Baum, Mel/Johnny (Johnny does not appear in Ch. 1, 2, 4 & 5, Mel does not appear in Ch. 9, 10 & 13), Doc White, William Rorer, Hugh Clegg, Harold Reinecke, Gerry Campbell, Clarence Hurt, Homer Van Meter, Red Hamilton, Charles Makley, Harry ‘Pete’ Pierpont, J. Edgar Hoover, Alvin Karpis, Baby Face Nelson
Fandom: Public Enemies
Genres: Angst, Challenge, Drama, Hurt/Comfort
Rating: R overall
Claim: For the 12_stories Challenge (Mel/Johnny)
Prompt: T 7; P 4: Betrayal
Prompt Count: (5/12)
Warnings: (Ch. 4, 5, 6, 7 & 12: Beating victim)
Summary: How much will a man sacrifice for love? Once Melvin Purvis is captured by his former Bureau of Investigation colleagues, he finds out.
Dates Of Completion: August 5-September 11, 2011
Date Of Posting: April 6, 2012
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Universal does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 20,937
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author's Notes: Written for the 2011/2012 History_BigBang.
Beta: The marvelous khylara! :)
All chapters can be found here.
The gorgeous artwork is by mella68. Larger versions can be found at her journal here.
BREACHING THE TOWER
The White Knight
Found his Beloved Fair,
His sword true
His heart pure,
And his love bright.
Sir Malory Arthur
"The White Knight
And His Beloved Fair"
The elevator doors opened, and Carter and Doris cautiously emerged.
“Looks like the coast is clear,” Carter said.
“Good. The next check from Security won’t be for a half hour.”
Doris hurried toward the door labeled The Dillinger Squad on the frosted glass. Carter glanced around the hall, then followed. Doris glanced over her shoulder, checking to see if he was keeping up. The squadroom was empty, and Carter closed the door behind him.
“Charles and Johnny should be here in ten minutes.” Doris headed for the interrogation room. “Do you have the key?”
“I can get it from Sam’s office.”
Doris waited impatiently by the locked door, Carter bringing the key. He unlocked the door and they hurried in.
“Mel,” Doris said.
Mel was half-asleep, his head drooping. He roused at the sound of Doris’ voice.
“Doris?” he breathed.
“We’re getting you out of here.”
Mel blinked, his yes clouded with pain. He did not seem to comprehend.
“I’ve got the handcuff keys,” said Carter. He bent down to unlock the wrist cuff.
Johnny nearly leaped the last step, his heart beating fast. He saw the door labeled The Dillinger Squad and headed straight for it, Charles right behind him.
“We got twenty minutes,” said the Texan.
“I’m taking my Mel out of here long before that.”
He turned the doorknob, pleased to see the squadroom empty.
“This way,” Charles said.
They hurried down the hall to the interrogation room, the door ajar. Johnny hurried inside.
“Mel,” he breathed.
His stomach churned as he saw the battered man crumpled in the chair, his suit torn and bloody. He hurried forward, cupping Mel’s face tenderly.
“Your beautiful face,” he moaned.
“J…Johnny?” Mel forced his good eye open. “Johnny?”
“That’s right, Sunshine.” Johnny was heartsick to see the black eye, split lip, cuts and bruises, and disheveled appearance of his usually-impeccably-neat lover. “I’m here now, Mel.”
“No,” moaned Mel.
“I wanted you…far away…and safe!” Mel feebly plucked at Johnny’s coat sleeve. “I never told ‘em…a thing.”
“I know, darlin’.” Johnny gently brushed the hair back from Mel’s eyes. “I never doubted it for a second.”
Mel trembled, whispering Johnny’s name as the Johnny drew him close, Mel’s fingers clutching his coat.
Carter and Doris exchanged a smile, Charles looking impressed.
“All right now, darlin’, we’ve got to get you out of here.” As Johnny gently disengaged, his eyes darkened as he noticed Mel’s bleeding wrist. He pulled out his handkerchief and gently wrapped it, Mel hissing in pain. “Sorry, sweetheart.”
“I’ll go keep a look-out,” Carter said. He hobbled as fast as he could manage.
“Let’s get you up, now,” Johnny said.
He took one arm and Charles the other, helping Mel to his feet. The Southerner swayed, crying out and bending over.
“What is it, Mel?” Johnny asked.
“My…side,” he gasped.
“Could be a busted rib,” Charles said.
“Probably…so.” Mel tried to rise. “I …can’t walk.”
Doris was standing in the doorway. She held out a hand. “Quiet,” she said urgently. She could hear Carter’s voice out in the hall.
“I just came back to do some work, Director, and found that Agent Purvis was gone!”
“Hoover’s here!” Doris said, her blue eyes wide.
“Damn!” said Charles.
“Johnny, you have to go,” Mel pleaded.
“Not without you, Sunshine.”
“Baum’s given us an out,” Charles said. “C’mon.”
Mel staggered, crying out softly as Johnny lifted him into his arms.
“Sorry, darlin’, we can’t wait for you to get your sea legs.”
“This way,” Doris urged. They followed her into the ladies’ room at the end of the hall.
She kept the door open a crack as they heard footsteps hurrying down the hall. Several men burst into the now-empty interrogation room, curses flying like lead.
Hoover bellowed, “I want Purvis found! Now!”
“C’mon, men, let’s check each floor and outside the building.” Sam quickly gave everyone their marching orders and the agents thundered out of the room, guns drawn.
Doris kept her hand out and mouthed, “Hoover’s still here.”
Charles had his weapon drawn, his blue eyes cold and hard. Johnny nuzzled Mel’s cheek, keeping his lover calm.
“You sure you’re okay carryin’ him?” Charles whispered.
”He’s just a stringbean of a man. It’s easy,” Johnny grinned.
”Hamilton smart enough to skedaddle instead of shootin’ it out?”
Johnny nodded. “Once Red realizes what’s up, he’ll lay low.”
“Good. I hope your buddies are ready with that car.”
”They will be. My boys are smart.”
“Even hot-headed Pierpont?”
Johnny grinned. “Ya got me there.”
“Hoover went out into the squadroom. I think he’s heading for Mel’s office,” Doris announced.
“We’ll have to make our move now,” Johnny said.
“But where?” Doris asked. “They’ll be on every floor and outside.”
“Not every floor.” Charles pulled his fedora brim a little lower. “If we’re lucky, we’ll hit a floor they’re not on. There aren’t enough agents to cover all these floors.”
“Johnny, you can’t carry me all the way,” Mel protested weakly.
“Hush now. You’re hurt and weak from hunger, aren’t you?” At Mel’s abashed expression, Johnny said, “I know you’re strong, but you can’t travel fast right now.” He finished softly, “And when I said strong, I meant it. You took a beatin’ for me and the boys and didn’t crack. You’re the strongest man I know.”
“C’mon, let’s get out while the gettin’s good.” Charles reached for the doorknob but Doris asked, “Where can we go?”
“You’re goin’ nowhere. Stay in here while…”
“You listen to me, Charles Winstead. I’m not going to cower here in the ladies’ room while you men play hero! I’m in all the way, got it?”
Charles and Johnny smiled while Mel chuckled.
“All right, Miss Doris, let’s shake a leg.” Charles ushered Doris out in the hall, followed by Johnny and Mel.
Doris peeked around the corner. “He’s still in Mel’s office.”
“Let’s do this.” Charles strode confidently into the squadroom, quietly opening the door.
Johnny carried Mel out, Doris right behind them.
Carter was already out in the hall. “We can use the stairs.”
“How are we going to get out?” asked Doris.
“I know a way. C’mon.”
The five of them hurried into the stairwell. Charles frowned. “We’re bound to meet up with someone.”
”Not here. This is a stairwell that leads to a service area which our agents are unlikely to use.”
“Can we use it to get out when we reach the ground floor?”
“If we’re lucky.”
“Luck is with us then,” Johnny said.
“Johnny…always has the right…luck.” Mel smiled despite his pain.
“Must have to evade the law all this time,” Charles snorted.
“Johnny, I can…walk.”
“You’re too slow, Purvis,” said Charles.
“I’ll stay with him while you, Doris, and Carter make you way out,” Johnny said.
“We stay together,” Carter said.
“Carter, lead them down. We’ll be…along,” said Mel, looking at his friend.
Carter squeezed his hand. “Don’t take too long.”
Mel flashed him a smile. “I won’t.”
Carter answered his smile with one of his own and he pointed with his cane. “This way.” He quickly gave directions. “Just take this stairwell down to the kitchen. It’s small because they don’t actually cook in it, just store the sandwiches and soft drinks they sell in the lobby in the icebox. There’s a dumpster in back that’ll serve as cover.”
“You’re a regular fount of information, Carter.” Johnny’s eyes sparkled with amusement.
“Ye, it pays to talk to the little people.”
Carter opened the door to the new stairwell, leading them down the stairs.
Back on the landing, Johnny asked, “You sure about this, Sunshine? I can carry you.”
“I know.” Mel looked at his lover. “If I need you to, I’ll tell you.”
Johnny had never loved Mel more than in that moment. He cupped the Southerner’s face.
Johnny took a firm grip on Mel as they began to descend the stairs.
Hoover pounded the desk. How could Melvin get away? He wanted to strangle these incompetents. The man had been handcuffed to the chair, for pity’s sakes!
Hoover stood and began pacing. His men had the building surrounded, but it could be too late. He needed to talk to White.
The Director strode out of the office and almost ran into the grizzled Texan. “Doc, where did you capture Purvis?”
“At a house on the North Side.”
“So Dillinger and his gang never returned?”
“Well, I’m not sure.”
“Didn’t you assign agents to watch the place?”
“Cowley probably did.”
“You were in charge of the investigation1” Hoover felt himself grow red in the face. “I can’t believe this incompetence!”
“Sir, we got that traitor.”
“And now he’s gone!” Hoovers hands curled into fists. “That guttersnipe Dillinger is free as a bird because of stupidity. Damn it all, White, we’ve got to get Purvis back.”
“We will, sir. This building is closed up tight.”
“They could be long gone.”
“If they are, we’ll find ‘em.”
“I hope so. So far the record hasn’t been good.”
Doc grimaced. “Purvis can’t get far. He’s too busted up.” He left the squadroom.
O’ER THE BATTLEMENTS AND UPON THEIR STEEDS
Rescued his Beloved Fair,
And they leaped o’er
And upon their steeds.
Off to the woods
Laughing and triumphant
Over the wicked Duke
Sir Malory Arthur
"The White Knight
And His Beloved Fair"
“Love ya, baby.”
Mel smiled. “I know.”
“Do ya now?”
“Of course.” Mel tried to ignore the growing fire in his side. “You’re an honorable man, Mr. Dillinger.”
Johnny smiled. “The way you say my name sends shivers down my spine, Sunshine.”
Mel laughed, groaning in the next instant.
“I’d dearly love to kick those friends of yours in the nuts.”
“The ones who…questioned me…”
“…were not my friends.”
“I should hope not, otherwise you need a better class of friends.”
Mel grunted his assent, concentrating on his progress down the stairs.
“We’ll get out of here, darlin’, I promise you that.”
“I believe you.”
Johnny smiled. “C’mon now, then.”
Mel fought down nausea from hunger and the pain. He felt dizzy as he clutched his lover’s arm.
“What is it, honey?”
Johnny fished in his greatcoat pocket and produced a Hersey bar. “Here, now. The sugar oughtta give you a jolt.”
Johnny chuckled. “Yes, sweets.”
Mel devoured the chocolate, feeling marginally better. “Johnny?”
“Why didn’t you get out of town?”
“Now, darlin’, you know I couldn’t up and leave ya.” Johnny looked at his lover. “When I came back to the safehouse my heart went down to my shoes when I saw the parlor busted up. I thought at first that the Syndicate or Nelson had gotten you.”
“No such luck.”
“Who beat on you?”
”It doesn’t matter now.”
”Sure it does.”
“Please, Johnny, I just want to get out of here.”
Johnny sighed. “All right. Finish up that chocolate. I’ll get you a whole box of ‘em when we’re done.”
“You are such a romantic.”
Johnny smirked as he kissed his man.
Charles listened carefully as he, Doris, and Carter hurried down the stairs. He hoped that the Bureau’s agents continued to mess up the operation in order for them to get away.
How he got involved with all this, he would have to figure out later. Maybe it was partly because of Doris, maybe it was because he disliked the way Hoover was running things. He really did not like the beatings that Mel had endured.
Just not right, beatin’ up one of our own like that.
He did not approve of his former boss’ betrayal, but his treatment at the hands of his former colleagues had been disturbing.
It just don’t set well with me.
Now he had committed to getting Pretty Boy Purvis and his beau out of here, and he intended to do just that.
They reached the bottom of the stairs, Carter cautiously opening the door.
The small kitchen was empty, and the three of them entered the room. Charles took a quick look out the window into the alley.
“See anybody?” Doris whispered.
”No, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there.”
“Should we split up once we get outside?”
“Let’s see if anyone’s around first. You two stay in here while I check things out.”
This time Doris did not object, staying behind as Charles went out in the alley.
It was almost eerily quiet in the alley, the dumpster offering good protection. If any agent was out there, they were well-hidden. Charles kept a firm grip on his handgun wishing that he had his rifle.
Squinting out at the alley, he saw nothing but a stray cat. Cautiously he came out from behind the dumpster and walked to the end of the alley. He drew back with a quiet curse and returned to the kitchen.
“Cowley’s standing guard at the end of the alley.”
“What about the other end?” Doris asked.
“There’s a fence.” Charles eyed Carter. “You’d never make it over.”
“I don’t have to.” Carter smiled. “No one suspects I’m in on this. I’m looking for Mel, same as you.”
“What about Doris?”
“She came back for something she forgot.”
“What would be that important?”
“My purse,” Doris said.
“Okay, I’ll buy that.” Charles frowned at the stairway door. “Where are Pretty Boy and his boyfriend?”
“Stop,” Mel hissed.
“You hurtin’ too much?”
Mel shook his head. “I heard something.”
“We can’t just take off without Mel and Johnny,” said Doris, biting her lip.
“We won’t.” Carter glanced out at the alley. “If we’re found inside the building, we’ll be fine.”
“Could look suspicious.” Charles fished around for his gold-plated cigarette case, pulling it out of his inside breast pocket. He offered the contents to Carter and Doris. Carter declined but Doris took a cigarette, Charles lighting it for her. She took a drag, nervously shifting from foot-to-foot.
Charles checked the alley again. “Come on, Melvin. Get you and your sweetheart down here pronto. Our luck’s getting’ thinner with every minute passin’.”
“You’re nervous, darlin’?” Doris asked with a quick smile.
“’Course I am, sweetness. In this business you know you only got so much time.”
Doris inched closer to the Texan, smiling as she took another drag. “I love seeing you in action.”
Charles grinned. “Action is my middle name, darlin’.”
“Oh, brother,” groaned Carter.
Doris laughed. “Sorry, Carter.”
“Carter, you stay here with Doris. I’m goin’ to check on our lovebirds.”
Carter and Doris smiled at each other as Charles bounded up the stairs.
“So, you didn’t get far.”
Harold Reinecke’s smile was pure gloating, the pudgy man flexing his fist as the other hand held a gun.
Mel leaned against the wall, his eyes struggling to stay focused. “’Pears so,” he mumbled, trying to stay upright.
“Well, I gotcha now, pansy.” Reinecke holstered his gun. “I don’t need this to take care of you.”
Mel tried to push away from the wall but was too weak from the beatings. Reinecke raised his fist with a wolfish smile and started to aim for Mel’s ribs when Johnny suddenly jumped over the stairway railing in true Jackrabbit style.
“Wha…?” Reinecke yelped as Johnny’s foot slammed into his stomach, hurtling him against the wall. The agent’s fedora went flying as Johnny grabbed the lapels of his cheap suit and dragged him to his feet.
Snarling, Johnny shook Reinecke. “You fat-assed bully! I knew men like you in the joint, preying on those weaker than them, or sick or hurt.” His face contorted with rage. “You beat on my man when he was handcuffed to a chair. You kept at him and at him and took real pleasure in it, didn’t you?” Johnny shook Reinecke again and suddenly punched him in the face, drawing blood, and drew back for another blow.
“Johnny!” Mel grabbed his lover’s arm. “Let’s go!”
“Not until I truss this pig up.” Johnny yanked Reinecke’s tie off.
Charles appeared at the bend of the stairway below them, keeping quiet as Johnny tied Reinecke up, stuffing a handkerchief in his mouth. He shoved him into a utility closet and locked the door.
“That won’t hold him long,” Charles said, taking one of Mel’s arms as he and Johnny helped the battered agent down the stairs.
“Be enough time for us. His hands are tied good ‘n’ tight. I’da done the feet, too, if I had another tie.”
Charles snorted. “He’ll be poundin’ on that door.”
“Let ‘im. My Sunshine and me will be long gone.”
Mel stumbled and cried out, Johnny murmuring, “It’s okay, honey. I’m gonna get those ribs wrapped and I’ve got a surprise for you when we get home.”
”Home?” Mel asked, nearly passing out from the pain.
“Sure thing. We got us a new place. All your suits and your granddaddy’s pocket watch are all there waitin’ for you.”
“You take…good care…of me.”
They reached the bottom of the stairs and burst into the kitchen, Doris quickly grinding her cigarette out under her heel as Carter said, “Still all clear.”
Johnny helped Mel sit in a chair. “What’s the plan?” he asked as he grabbed a couple of Cokes from the icebox, popping the tops off with a church key. He handed one bottle to Mel and took a healthy swig from the other one.
“There’s a fence at this end of the alley. You’ll have to go over it.” Charles said.
Johnny looked at Mel. “Can we get him over it?”
“We’ll have to.”
Mel drank thirstily, and he and Johnny left their bottles in the trash can. The group eased out into the alley, Mel blanching as he saw the height of his fence. “I can’t possibly…” he gasped.
“Sure you can, Sunshine.”
Mel swallowed. “I’ll need help.”
“Of course!’ Johnny grinned saucily, but Mel could see the worry in his eyes. Despite the throbbing in his ribs, Mel was determined to do his part.
“Okay. Let’s go,” said Charles. He dragged over a box and said to Johnny, “You first. Then you can help haul Mel over.”
Johnny nodded, cupping Mel’s face. “You trust me, Sunshine?”
Mel nodded. “I surely do.”
“Good.” Johnny kissed him, Mel melting under warm lips.
“Come on, Romeo.” Charles tapped his foot.
“Coming.” Johnny dashed to the box and started to climb up when a head poked up over the fence. “Red!”
“’Bout time you showed up, John. Things are a little hairy around her.”
“Really? Hadn’t noticed.”
Rolling his eyes, Red said, “Hey, Mel! Ready to beat it?”
Johnny ran back to Mel. “C’mon, honey. I’ll boost you up.”
Mel allowed Johnny to tug him toward the box. He swallowed as he stepped up. Red was learning over the fence, ready to pull him up.
“Take it easy, Red.”
“There might be broken ribs.”
Mel cried out as Red pulled, his feet scrabbling for purchase on the wooden boards. Johnny and Charles boosted him up, and the world tilted crazily as Mel struggled to get over the fence while red-hot knives of pain jabbed him in the side. He felt close to passing out.
The astonished voice of Sam Cowley echoed out over the alley.
Red continued pulling and Johnny and Charles kept pushing. With one final thrust, Mel was pushed into Red’s solid arms with a strangled cry.
Sam ran down the alley. “Charles, Carter, what’s going on? Doris?”
“Jus’ helpin’ out a colleague, Sam,” Charles drawled.
Sam watched as Johnny began to climb over the fence after a wink and a wave to them all. “So he came.”
“Isn’t it romantic?” Doris asked, her eyes bright.
On the other side of the fence, Johnny dropped lightly to the ground. “Mel?”
“He passed out.” Red gently cradled the agent.
“He needs a doctor.”
“We’ll get him one, but first let’s get outta here.” Red stood with Mel in his arms. “The car’s this way.”
“I’ll take him.”
Red transferred the unconscious man into Johnny’s arms and they hurried over to the next alley and their waiting friends.
For my shy guy
Makes me sigh
Instead of cry."
Mel floated on cottony clouds, his mind drifting as he heard a sweet, melodic song. It was just like a happy dream.
“’You are my Sunshine, my only Sunshine…’”
His eyes fluttered open. Everything was blurry, then coalesced into the pleasing image of his beloved Johnny.
“Hey, there, Sunshine.” A warm hand rested on his brow. “How you feelin’?”
“I…” Mel frowned. “Why don’t I feel pain in my side?”
“Morphine is a wonderful thing, darlin’.”
Johnny was comfortably ensconced in a rocking chair that he had pulled up to the bedside. He was dressed casually in brown pants and vest over a white shirt. Mel was clad in light-blue silk pajamas, his ribs tightly wrapped, and bandages were wound around his right wrist and ankle. He touched his forehead, a bandage at his temple. His eye was still swollen.
“Where are we?” Mel looked around the bedroom, seeing a maple dresser and a framed landscape on the opposite wall. A matching nightstand held a lamp, silver water pitcher and glass.
“One of our safehouses."
”Not in Chicago, I hope.”
Johnny laughed. “Nope, far away from the Windy City.”
The morphine had helped considerably with Mel’s ribs, but he still felt bruised and achy. Frowning, he asked, “Did I hear Sam’s voice in the alley?”
“You surely did.”
“He wasn’t hurt?”
“Nah. ‘Pears he was put off by your boss’ orders to beat you up, so he decided to just let us go.” Johnny rocked lazily in his chair. “You got some good friends at that Bureau. Doris came through with flyin’ colors, and how about that ol’ cowboy?”
Mel chuckled. “I knew where Doris’ heart was, but Charles surprised me.”
“It’s good to have friends who stick by you.”
For a few minutes, the faint squeak of the rocking chair filled the quiet room, Johnny finally breaking the silence. “You hungry?”
“I could use a bite.”
Johnny left the room, returning with a slice of lemon pie and a glass of lemonade.
“Mmm, pie. And my favorite!”
“Sorry it’s not meringue.”
“I like it both ways.”
“I brought it home for you from the Crystal Room.”
Mel’s brown eyes were bright as he looked at his lover. “It traveled all the way from there to here?”
“Hey, I promised you I’d bring you back something.”
“Mmm, you picked a nice ‘something’,” Mel said as he ate a piece of tart lemon goodness.
Johnny sat back down in the rocking chair. “Enjoy, Sunshine. You deserve only the best.” He rocked a little faster. “Not to get beat on by low-lifes.”
Mel reached out his hand and grasped Johnny’s. “I’m all right now.”
“You were hurt because of me.”
“I made my choice, Johnny, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.” Mel squeezed his lover’s hand.
Johnny smiled and squeezed back.
Mel cut a piece of pie and offered it to Johnny, who ate the lemony goodness, sliding into a kiss.
Doris smiled at the mail clerk, who handed her several legal-sized envelopes and a square brown-wrapped package, which was addressed to her. She recognized the handwriting and eagerly opened it, delighted to find a box of chocolates from The Chocolate Shoppe on North Halstead. She picked up the handwritten note that was tucked away in the box’s ribbon and read…
Share this with Carter, Charles, and Sam, will you? The Sunshine of my heart and I thank you for everything.
Doris smiled as she picked up the box and headed for Carter’s desk, he and Charles in animated conversation.