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Disclaimer:  Johnny and Sonya aren’t mine. (SOB!)  But all the other characters are.  Doesn’t that make me special?

 

 

“No, dear God, Johnny!”

Tearing sheets.

“Stop it!  Please!”

Mangled limbs.

“No, please don’t … please, Johnny, no more!”

Sobbing, screaming, so much screaming.

“God… help…”

Blood everywhere.  Dripping, pooling, soaking, staining…

“No… no… please…”

Too much anger.  Not enough release.

Not enough.  Never enough…

 

 

“You fuck!”  Pain burst from his chin through his skull.  The world slowly swirled to its more normal tilt as his swollen eyes opened to the dim light of the room and the dark shadow standing over him.  Johnny tried to pull his arms up to block the next punch to his face, but found he couldn’t move.

‘No… not again…’

“Why?!  You piece of fucking shit bastard!  Why did you kill her?!  Fuck!” 

A punch to the cheek split the skin, a kick to the stomach left him breathless, and then there was a crack and an explosion of pain from his collarbone that sent his world cascading in colors of red, white, and black.  He looked up to see Jack, a bat in hand, blood dripping from the end.

“I trusted you, and you turned on me at the first fucking chance!  Did you fucking think you’d get away after playing with my things?!”  The bat came down again, right on the fingers of his left hand, and Johnny was close to howling in pain as his fingers were crushed between the bat and the wall.

“You were the best, JC, and then you betrayed me!  You fucking betrayed me!  You are a dead man.  You are a fucking dead man!  Nobody messes with my fucking property!!” 

Something loud crashed from the other room.  Johnny could see through barely open eyes as Jack stormed out of the red room.  Shouts, loud and angry, reached his ears, but barely processed in his brain.  His mind was too focused on what was going on.

‘What did I do?’  As things became clearer to his eyes, he looked up and cowered back into the wall.  Fresh blood was everywhere, splattered against the walls and seeped into the floor.  A pale white hand hung from a damp, red sheet bound around the wrist.  Dried blood stained the fingers.  Limp hair, matted down by sweat and more blood, clung to the red pillows, and Christine’s blank eyes stared over his shoulder.  Her mouth hung open in a frozen prayer for help.  Rouge drops continued to fall from her nose, over her mouth, down into the sheets.

Johnny was instantly sick to his stomach.  The night before returned in vivid flashes of touch, taste, and smell.  Moans escaped his cracked lips.  ‘Why?  Why her?’  A scream pierced his ears.  She was crying again.  Clawing at him to let her go.  Pleading to stop hurting her.

He needed to get out.  The cuffs bit into his skin when he tried to pull.  Pain surged through his hand, and after observing the damage he noticed his left thumb was broken.  Easily his hand slipped through the cuff, though it left him stuck with the other cuff.  When he shifted, he felt something dig into his back.  A wicked grin, coated with blood, spread across his face.  His left hand reached into his belt and removed his gun.  He stood up, aimed at the chain, and pulled the trigger.

All hell broke loose.  Three boys were in the room in seconds, and Johnny plowed right through them, his short but built frame easily slipping through the narrow spots.  Right before he ran out into the room full of his gang members, he rammed into Kyle, a tall and slightly pudgy boy of 11.  Pushing with all his might, he used the boy as a barricade to the fire about to reign on him.  Gunshots and grunts filled the room.  When Kyle collapsed to the floor, body bullet-riddled and bleeding, the blue-eyed boy retaliated with his own gunfire that shattered bottles of liquor over the bar.  The alcohol rained down onto the counter and floor, and suddenly caught fire on a lit cigarette.  A wave of flame ran across the bar to explode into a fireball near the poker table.

Everyone in the room ducked to the floor, except for Johnny who tore up the stairs and raced out into the dawning day.  He couldn’t tell if the pounding in his ears was from the boys behind him or the racing of his heart, but he didn’t stop until he crashed through the doors of the closed dojo and collapsed on the floor.

“Who’s there?!” someone cried out, and then, “Johnny!”

“Please, I didn’t mean--” Johnny panted.  “I’m so sorry!” He didn’t realize he was crying until he choked.

“Johnny, calm down,” a soothing voice comforted him.

“Forgive me, please don’t punish me, I’m sorry!” Johnny sobbed to the beautiful young girl before him, with red hair and chocolate eyes that melted anything they looked upon.  She reached out to him, whispered, sobbed as her face swelled and bled.

Johnny’s scream ripped at the heart of his companion.  Then, thankfully, the boy blacked out.

 

 

“Feeling better?”

Johnny shrugged.  “I guess,” he muttered.  His gaze remained on the city whipping by him, and on the streets that he swore he would never cross again.

“I don’t know what happened to you, Johnny, but you don’t have to tell me until you’re ready, if you choose to tell me at all.  Just know that the longer you keep it in, the worse it will be to confront as you get older.”  There was a pause.  “I will be here to listen.” 

Johnny felt a pat on his knee, and he glanced at the kind man driving next to him.

“I will always be here to listen, and to help.”

The young boy smiled gratefully, though it agitated his bandages.  “Thank you, Master Boyd.”  The Occidental karate master smiled back and Johnny refocused his attention out the window.

He stiffened.  There, as the car slowed at a stoplight, was a police car and a group of kids on the sidewalk.  One was handcuffed, the others were being searched.  When the boy being helped into the back of the squad car looked up, his eyes met with Johnny’s.  Time stopped as they stared, and when the shock wore off, Johnny read the message in Jack’s furious eyes.

‘I’ll find you.

‘And I’ll fucking kill you.’

Johnny was jolted back to the present when the car moved, and Jack slipped back into side view mirror and out of sight.  Trying to relax, Johnny eased himself into the seat and concentrated on the road to his new life.

California was a long way ahead, and Johnny knew he wouldn’t get there fast enough.

 

 

“I lived under Master Boyd’s care until I could live on my own.  But the memories never left, the guilt and the shame, it always stayed with me with every step I took.  And then I was asked to play a part in a small martial arts flick… and I found a way to escape the nightmares of my past.  I became an actor.  Because in the movies, I didn’t have to be myself anymore.”  His voice, having changed from fast paced and upset to distant and soft, now became cold and flat.  “And Jack’s out now, his parole granted on the grounds that the murders of various gang leaders so long ago were not his, and that he was not the person who killed Christine.”  He took a staggering breath.  “They got at least one thing true.”

Sonya wanted to argue back, wanted to embrace him and try to soothe his pain… but she was so numb she couldn’t move.  When she learned he was in a gang, she knew she could deal with that, because he wasn’t a member now.  He was a good man who helped save earth by risking his life for his friends.  There was no selfishness there.  Ego, perhaps, but no desire for personal gain at the expense of others’ lives, or homes, or families. 

But this… oh, God, what he did… how could any decent man, drugs or not… Sonya couldn’t even process the words in her mind.  It hurt too much.  It was too much to take in, that the man she had come to care for so deeply was capable of, had committed, such an act of hate.  Nausea threatened to make her run for the bathroom.

“No!” 

Sonya jumped slightly at Johnny’s outburst, but it wasn’t to her he was talking. 

Wrapped around his head, his hands pulled on his hair while his jaw clenched his body had a spasm every few seconds.  “No, no, I didn’t!  I didn’t want to!”

“Johnny?” called his companion, who started to reach for him.

“Argh!”  Johnny thrust his arm out, nearly smacking Sonya to the floor, and he stood up, his gun drawn on no one but the voices in his head.  “It wasn’t supposed to—stop it!  God, shut up!  Just shut up!”  The gun suddenly turned to his head and was pressing into his temple.

“Don’t!”  Sonya jumped him, knocking them both into the small plastic couch.  She pinned him there and pulled the gun from his hand.  As soon as she let go of his hands, she slapped him across the face.  “Snap out of it!”  Another slap.  “Wake up!”  A third. 

The fourth was caught by Johnny’s weak grip.  For a moment, he stared at her with recognition, apprehension, and shame.  Then his knees gave out and he collapsed back on the cushions.  His eyes were dimming into the hazy state of sleep.  Exhaustion from the emotional ordeal had finally set in.  There was a shift and a groan, and then Johnny was out cold.

Tears burned in her eyes, but she still pulled a blanket out from the closet and put it over him.  A glint from the floor caught her eye, provoking her to stare for a moment at the shards of glass from the drink he had fixed for himself.  That was the explanation for his sudden flashbacks. Too much alcohol in an emotional state with a traumatizing past resurfacing after so many years…

She shouldn’t have left him alone, when alcohol was easily accessible from the little refrigerator in the closet.  Why did she have to take so long to get back upstairs--why didn’t she just let him leave her, let him deal with this alone--why’d she force him to tell her things she didn’t want to hear--The walls were closing in on her, she had to get out of the room, away from the events of the night, away from the man she didn’t know anymore…

 

 

A beep from her watch signaled 3 am as she walked through the sheets of rain, unaware of the chill that seeped through her thin jacket and into her skin.  After so much time in the night air, she couldn’t shake the dread and the doubt in her heart, nor could she forget the images conjured up from Johnny’s words.  For a moment, she could picture that horrid night in New York looking just like this, and she felt herself dying inside, just as Johnny was dying in guilt.  Her steps quickened.

She didn’t know how long she walked, and she didn’t care where she went.  All she had to do was just keep moving.  The cold made her numb physically, Johnny’s secret left her numb everywhere else.

In the movies… I didn’t have to be myself anymore… Now she understood why Johnny was afraid of being seen as a fake.  Not as a fake fighter, like she originally thought, but as a fake person, because that’s what he was; an action hero on the side of good, trying to hide his deeds of darkness.

She turned toward a club with blaring music.  Some people were laughing and screaming as they got wet after leaving the wild party, and for a moment, Sonya was distracted enough to forget her troubles.  Then the wind whipped into her face, and for the first time, she realized she was crying.  Embarrassed at her lack of control in a public place, she quickly turned down a side street to collect herself in private.

The shadow behind her followed without breaking step.

 

 

Johnny woke with a stiff neck and no feeling in his left leg.  ‘Shit.’  He was cold and uncomfortable and still dead tired.  He reached across the bed for Sonya, to pull her close and keep him warm, and nearly fell off the couch in the process.  His eyes flew open as he realized he wasn’t on the bed, which explained why he was uncomfortable and cold.  In a rush the memories of last night returned without stopping, and he groaned into his hands.  Sonya was terrified of him, disgusted and broken by his words.

“Sonya?”  He waited, hoping to hear her from the bed, or the bathroom, or the closet, or anywhere in the room.  Silence followed, and he called again, to be greeted with more silence.  Carefully, he kneeled on the floor as he came fully awake.  Looking around, he noticed nothing different or out of place.  There was, though, small pieces of glass on the floor. 

Johnny frowned.  The bed was made up, room-service style.  No one had slept in it last night.  A thorn of worry pierced his heart.  Perhaps she’d just returned to her own room last night.

The window was open.  He walked over to close the curtains that streamed too bright light into the room.  Outside, the sunlight of high noon made him blink frequently.  ‘When did I open this window?  It was closed last night… wasn’t it?’  His head dropped in confusion.  He blinked again. 

“Wha…”  Next to his feet was a red dot.  Turning his head a bit, he saw another one a foot away, and another behind that.  Johnny’s blood suddenly went cold as it pounded past his ears.  The dots began to become bigger, and they glistened with gooey wetness in the cascading sunbeams.  Step after precise step, Johnny followed the trail to the closed bathroom door.  His breath hitched as he turned the knob and let it creak open.  Suddenly Sonya’s voice filled his ears.

“Why do doors always do that at moments like this?  It’s not a movie, ya know.  A door’s not supposed to creak during a suspenseful moment in real life.”

Johnny wished the voice was really hers and not from his head.  The first thing he saw was the white hamper, and then the sink came into view.  Johnny stared in horror at the red writing across the mirror.

‘Paybacks are a bitch.’  Numb with fear, his gaze slowly trailed down to the white marble sinks where red streaks bled into puddles on the floor, puddles that were expanding across the white tiles.  His breath was beginning to leave him in short puffs and gasps as the door opened its full arc, and his eyes fixed on the far wall.

The bathtub was overflowing in red.

And a thick head of stained blonde hair was floating upside down in the center.