Second Chances

Chapter 4: Randall

IMBSA: Well, we finally found it, mutilated at the bottom of one of our bags. (You should know whose :p). Sorry for the long wait!

Disclaimer: "Hatred may make you strong, but it also makes you blind and stupid."

IMBSA: I hope it's up to your standards, but I doubt it will be.

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And I want to rip his heart out

Just for hurting you

And I want to break his mind down

Yes I do, yes I do, yes I do

And I want to make him regret

Life since the day he met you

Yes I do

And I want to make him take back

All that he took from you

Yes I do

—"Just For" Nickelback

For one heart-stopping moment, Murrue stood, eyes wide in astonishment, unable to move. Then her shock-riddled mind registered that she knew the man watching them. Springing apart from Mwu, eyes fearfully glued to the man's figure, Murrue backed away until she hit the counter.

Confused and alarmed by her reaction, Mwu asked, "Murrue, what—" He trailed off as he followed her gaze. "Whoa!" He turned to face the man quickly. "Who the hell are you!" He edged over, seeking to shield Murrue from whoever that psycho was. "And how the hell did you get in here?"

Murrue's mouth opened, but no sound was heard. Finally, she choked out in a horrified gasp, "Randall…." Her hand moved up to her throat, as if a healed wound there had started to hurt again.

Mwu glanced at her quickly, questioningly, then back to the figure before him.

"What's wrong, Maria?" The man sneered, hazel eyes seeming to burn with the fires of Hell. Mwu noted that he used her alias, a fact that strangely meant something to him. "Miss me? I was only gone for two weeks." He stepped closer to Mwu, who stood his ground. "And I can already see you've replaced me." He emitted a short, mirthless laugh. "I was right. You really are a wh—"

Mwu's arm twitched and a moment later he had the man by his shirt collar against the wall. "Watch your language," he snarled. "There's a lady in the room."

Randall smirked. "Bullshit. She's just a filthy, little—" Mwu's fist plowed a course from Randall's jaw to his nose. Then he threw the stunned being to the floor. Hard. As if to cancel this, Randall jumped back up and swung back at the former military officer. The two ended up outside on the pavement by the end of their small scuffle. Then Mwu delivered a good kick to the back of the man's knee, driving him to the ground. Any type of training from his academy days stopped there, as Mwu followed him to the concrete.

Murrue's eyes widened as she watched the two men rolling on the dirt, fighting like schoolboys. Randall landed a total of about four good punches to Mwu's torso, only once knocking the wind out of him and another time causing him to bust his knuckle. Mwu, however, had bequeathed to Randall a bloody nose, a black eye, several missing teeth, a busted lip, and numerous other injuries short of breaking limbs.

Finally Murrue had witnessed all she could take and screamed, "Stop it, both of you!" as she attempted to pull Mwu off Randall, tears running down her face. At the feeling of her hands at his back, Mwu gave Randall one more punch and stood, sense seeming to have returned, if only for a moment. Randall stared up at the two through bleary eyes. He pulled himself slowly into a sitting position, movements slow and labored, testament to the brutal beating he had gotten at the hands of his rival. "That's enough, Mwu, he's not worth it, don't—" The rest of her words got lost in the sobs that shook her body. Her hands fell from his frame to cover her face, as though too ashamed to see the spectacle the men had made out of themselves.

"Yeah, that's right Maria," Randall scorned, "cry your pretty little eyes out. Get your boy-toy to kick the shit out of me, never mind that I did the same for—"

At the increase in volume of Murrue's weeping, Mwu put an arm around her, simultaneously glaring with the utmost intensity at the hated thing before him, pulling off the nigh-impossible feat of looking both comforting and threatening at the same time. "Leave. Now." His anger seemed to be affecting his speech; he no longer appeared to have the control to speak in full sentences. "Get in your car now and drive away. The next time I see your ugly, shit-faced ass anywhere near this place or her—no, anytime I even see you, I will smash your face in and you won't like it. She is the only thing standing between me and you, so you better clear out instead of waiting for her to change her mind." Randall stared dumbly up at him, not moving towards the vehicle that seemed so violating and-and wrong on the driveway. Mwu kicked up at his face, something that made the other man jerk back in fear. "Now before I lose all patience with you and beat your ass anyway!"

Randal scrambled to his feet and more or less dragged himself to his car, starting it up and peeling out of the driveway, speeding away as fast as he possibly could. Only when he was out of sight did Mwu drop the scowl and turn to the woman crying in his arms. As caustic and utterly scathing as his voice was, it had fallen in favor of more gentle and soothing tones.

"I'm sorry, Murrue," he murmured over and over again, arms rubbing up and down her back and through her hair—this time with no lusty intentions in the motions. He had his own questions, like just who this Randall guy was, and why she had been so…so in complete shock at the mere sight of the man (though he could guess a lot of the story), but he, even in his rage-induced temper, knew that they would have to wait until later.

At every whispered phrase from Mwu, Murrue shook her head, crying in his embrace unceasingly, until she finally stumbled back from him, hurriedly wiping at her eyes and muttering something about needing a shower. She hastily re-entered the house, fresh tears drawing rivers painful to see on Murrue's pale and delicate face.

Mwu stood outside, glaring at a spot of blood left behind by Randall, replaying the incident in his head until he could bear the silence and desolation no longer.

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It was a just-showered, still wet Murrue wrapped in a bath robe that came into Mwu's room a little later, dark eyes refusing to meet his blue ones, hands wringing in her lap even as she sat precariously on the edge of his bed. She didn't respond when he put his arms around her and he was suddenly afraid that with that one action—string of actions, really—he had unwittingly destroyed everything that had grown (or re-grown) between them. They stayed that way for an indiscernible amount of time, neither one speaking, each enveloped in their own thoughts. Seconds ticked away with the beats of their hearts, as Mwu clung to her as though afraid of losing her.

Finally, when her hair was well on its way to drying unbrushed, she spoke, saying, "I suppose I should explain." Mwu was silent, mouth and nose crushed within her fragrant hair, breathing in her scent. She took it as a symbol to continue. "Well….When you were-were k-k—when I thought you were d-dead, there was this-this…empty hole I felt I had to fill up...You were gone and I-I was…so lost without you... I felt almost like I couldn't go on. But I had to, f-for the crew, for Kira-kun, f-for everyone involved. I…got myself into things I shouldn't have. I was so desperate to feel complete, to quiet this yearning for you…that I took the first person that came along. I guess you can see how that turned out. No I wasn't dating him when you came along—either time—no I didn't…" her voice lowered to a whisper, "sleep with him or anything like that." Her voice returned to normal. "Calling him my boyfriend was a-a formality I guess you'd say. He wasn't really my boyfriend. Not like you were." She looked up and backward at him, as if seeking some kind of understanding, or bracing herself from—and warning him of—her next words. Her voice became plaintive and pained, as if the mere words made her hurt. "He…he beat me sometimes when I didn't do things just so." Her eyes filled with tears again and Mwu's arms tightened around her. This time, an arm went up to cover his, pushing herself closer to him, more fully into his protective embrace. "He would throw things around….Maybe smack me once or twice….And….He was horrible, Mwu, horrible!" She once again dissolved into tears. She froze slightly when she felt him lightly brush away the tears with his fingertips, turning her slowly with his other arm to face him.

"So why'd you stay?" He asked softly, silent streams falling faintly from his own eyes.

"Because….Because it felt worse to me being alone than being with him." She answered thickly.

"Murrue….I…." Words failed the very conversational Mwu la Fllaga.

"I," she sighed and smiled humorlessly—in fact, it was completely emotionless and empty—an act that chilled Mwu slightly. "I wouldn't really call it 'breaking up' since there was nothing at all to 'break up', but I cut ties with him about a week or two ago. With everything that happened, you coming back and all, I forgot to change the locks and such, so he still has the key to the house. I'm….I'm sorry I didn't tell you about it I just…wanted to forget about that little period in my life. I knew you wouldn't even think to do any of the stuff he did to me."

"You've spent the last three years under the thumb of that asshole?" Murrue paused and then nodded. "Jesus, and I thought my time was rough." She gave him a curious look. He rubbed a hand through his hair. "Eh, I don't remember most of it. I just remembering finding you and…." He trailed off wondering if it was a smart move to disclose to her that he had been watching her when she was at home and essentially doing some minor stalking. "Well, here I am." He finished lamely. He looked down at her now-dry eyes and looked away again. "Don't make yourself suffer like that, though, ever again. And I promise," he drew her closer to himself, feeling her arms go under his to curl securely around his shoulders, "I will never, ever let him—or anyone—hurt you again. Ever." Then, as if to ease the apprehension, continued, saying, "Never, ever, ever. Ever." He felt her smile into his chest and sensed the tension slowly leak out of her body.

"Add a few more evers to that, and I'll be fine."

He smirked and pressed a soft kiss to the top of her head, murmuring the word she had demanded as he slowly rocked her back and forth. When he felt that her hands were not gripping him as tightly as before, he looked down and saw that she was fast asleep, mouth curved in a small, satisfied smile that warmed him when all he had seen of her for a while was a biting vulnerability, much like the look in an abandoned pet's eyes. He gently moved over on his bed to make room for her, and when it seemed apparent that she was not about to let him go, even in her unconscious state, contented himself in sleeping quietly beside her.

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IMBSA: Happy? I went clear across town to get it and wasted a lot of gas. So be happy! Sorry it's not that long, but we thought this was a good place to end. And I know, I know, why would a perfectly level-headed girl like a Murrue give her house key to a monster like him? Well, Randall insisted on it, and, as you can see and probably guess, he has very powerful methods of persuasion. I'm not sure why my friends and I are obsessed with an abused Murrue, but, well, the infamous plotline has permeated this fic. Sigh. Oh well. R&R! And sorry again about the long wait!

tennisprincess15: Well, I had to think of something else to put there! Guess what guess what! I got the new HP book::dances like a monkey: I'm so happy! But, anyway, to the response. When I come to a cliffie like that I usually stare at the screen for all of 10 seconds before screaming "NOOOOOOOOOO!" and throwing things around. But, eh, that's just me. 2 AM does that to people. :nod nod:

lithiumflower56: :shrieks and dives into bomb shelter: Please, please, I just updated for you people!

Princess Mononoke San: :raises eyebrows: Yes, we know he's alive and (more-or-less) well. This is AU I guess because of Destiny. People seem to like it, so I am continuing this for their sake.

Tempest Kiro: I've been hearing those rumors too, but I believe that Neo is Mwu and all this buzz about him being a clone is bull. That of course stems from my need for Mwu and Murrue to be together. About Natarle? At first I didn't really like her since she always seemed at odds with Murrue, and I think we all know how I feel about people opposing Mwu or Murrue. Then when the episodes had her on the Dominion, I started liking her since I absolutely hated Azreal and her opposing him is always fun to see. And then….She died. Personally, I think Mwu's accomplished the impossible and risen from the dead, but that's just me.

Seigi-san: :laughs hysterically: Where did this Fredrick guy come from? For some reason that line just makes me crack up! He better get his memories back or I'll personally go to Japan and kill the writers and anyone associated with making him not regain his memories.

invisible johnny: Well, Mwu is a rather unpredictable guy. Sorta. But whatever. Thanks for following me into my other genres (though I understand you're already a fan of those things, it's always nice when reviewers read and review other things than the usual).

Murrue Ramius: :moans in despair and scrunches lower in her bomb shelter: Here! Here's the chapter! Have it! Have it all!

mangamaniac: Hm. I can't pretend to be all fine and dandy about you (almost) directly quoting us, but you did credit us for it; I'm sure it's fine. I don't know how KAHBG will take it, but I'm not unduly fazed by it. But imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, no?

Masked Mirage: Thank you so much for your review! I just have a tendency to put myself down a lot. Don't mind me, the masochist in the corner.

Wandering Cat: :falls to knees: Oh, thank you for being so understanding! Moreso than other readers :fearful glance at Murrue Ramius and lithiumflower56:

MyraHellsing: Uh….Here?