Title: Can't Deny It Any Longer
Characters: Primarily Perfect Tommy, Buckaroo Banzai, with references to Lady Gillette, Mrs. Robinson, Red River Daddy, and OC's.
Summary: Created for Word of the Week Challenge. Week 3 Challenge Word, "Tears" (hurt/comfort). Perfect Tommy is having a difficult time coming to terms with Lady Gillette's death.
Rating: R for language
Warnings: References to and description of character death
Disclaimer: I do not own any rights to any characters in the Buckaroo Banzai universe. Any OC's created are mine.
"Hey, Perfect Tommy, long time no see," the bouncer said upon seeing him. It was a genuinely warm and friendly greeting compared to the responses he had been giving out to the others behind the worn corded rope. Perfect Tommy immediately recognized him as the one called Little John. Little John, a nickname given in jest early on when he was hired by the club but was now so commonplace that no one knew him by any other name. His light hearted demeanor to Perfect Tommy was in stark contrast to his physical appearance. He was a full head taller than Tommy, with shoulders and chest built like a NFL lineman, a shaved head that was shiny smooth, and a fierce looking goatee. Under the glow of the street lamps Perfect Tommy noticed that it was tinged with gray. It was something that he had never noticed before and he didn't understand why of all nights he would tonight.
Perfect Tommy took Big John's outstretched hand and gripped it as tightly as he could. Big John grinned and in response nearly crushed Tommy's hand. Seeing his grimace, Big John relaxed his grip, just only so slightly though. "Keep working out boy and someday you'll be as big as I am," he said with a chuckle.
"Yeah, sure thing man," somberly replied Perfect Tommy as he slapped him on the shoulder with his free hand. A look of confusion crossed Big John's face at the uncharacteristic tone. He was ready to ask him if he was okay but Tommy was already pulling away from his grip and turning to walk in to the club.
Big John opened his hand and saw a crushed up hundred dollar bill. "Thanks man," he yelled after him but he doubted if Perfect Tommy heard him above the noise. Huh, that's quite a bit more than usual, he thought to himself as he took one last look at the fifty before stuffing it into his pocket.
CBGB & OMFUG was located on Bleeker Street in New York City. It was just one of Perfect Tommy's many clubs that he would visit on occasion while in the city. It was nothing special to look at from the outside. It was in a plain red brick building like next to other plain red brick buildings. Other than the dirty white canvas banner with CBGB in bright red letters, one could pass it by without taking a second glance.
It started back in the mid-1970's as a place to hear Punk and Alternative rock. It was small, dimly lit from the fluorescent tube and neon sign lighting, and the original brick walls were covered with decades of old band posters, stickers, and spray-painted graffiti. From the décor, one could easily wonder why Perfect Tommy chose it as one of his special spots. It wasn't new, it wasn't flashy, it wasn't pristine, and certainly didn't conform to any standards. But that's why Perfect Tommy chose it. It was the anti-establishment, perfected.
Nowadays it hosted may different kinds of music. One only had to go to its website to see the current event schedule. But even so, on most nights it would still hold true to its roots. Fortunately for Tommy, tonight was one of those nights. He was in no mood for any sappy music.
Making his way down the main aisle past the stage and mixing area, Perfect Tommy headed straight to the bar, miraculously found an open stool, and sat down, facing the stage.
One of the three barkeeps working this busy night came over. Perfect Tommy looked him down. He was a young looking kid dressed in a black tee shirt with some sort of scroll-work screen print and faded jeans. Tommy thought that it may have been one of the owner's sons but he wasn't' sure. He had one of those faces that looked familiar but didn't. The kid took his rag and quickly wiped down the bar in front of Tommy. He looked Tommy over as well and if he recognized him, he didn't acknowledge it. He leaned in close so that Tommy could hear him above the band that had just started their next set. The smell of some teeny-bopper body spray cut through all of the odors, both from the club and from the patrons.
"What can I getcha tonight?"
"A glass and some Jim Beam Black… Leave the bottle," replied Perfect Tommy matter-of-factly.
For as busy as they were, it only took a few minutes before the kid came back with Perfect Tommy's order. Sensing Tommy's brooding he opened the bottle, and poured some of the brown liquid, all without so much of a word.
"Thanks," was his mumbled response. He didn't know if the kid heard him or not. Frankly he didn't care either.
"You've been standing there a long time."
In the dimly lit room, Buckaroo Banzai was leaning back in a chair next to Lady Gillette's bed with his back to the door. He was softly noodling an old tune on his old classic acoustic guitar. No matter what he played though, always in the background was the haphazard beep or whir of one of the many machines.
The institute had its own medical facility. Primarily it was used for research in to the advancement of biomedical technology and depending on the case, would treat outside patients on an experimental basis. Unfortunately on more than one occasion, the facility had to be used to treat its own.
"Haven't heard you play that guitar in a long time either," was Perfect Tommy's whispered reply as he leaned on the door jam.
Buckaroo continued playing without missing a beat. "You remember me telling you that this was the first guitar I bought?" He was there since he and New Jersey had been personally splitting the shifts the past few nights. Not from lack of trust from any of the interns, but out of duty for a comrade in arms.
"Yeah… yeah, I do."
They both were aware of how quiet the Institute was. Not eerily quiet, but the kind of sobering quiet when everyone and everything down to the very foundations is waiting for the inevitable to happen. Sporadically one would hear a small group of interns whispering down the hallways or small noises from one of the many labs, but the stillness always returned.
Buckaroo played his last note and then laid his fingers on the strings to quiet them. He slowly turned around. Tommy was gone.
"You're shittin' me."
"Does it look like I'm bullshittin' anyone?"
"There's no way that Buck would let anyone near, let alone touch, his Epiphone. Last time I reached for it, laser beams came out of his eyeballs and cut me in half. Wanna see the scar?"
Perfect Tommy saw Little John easily approach through the card. He wasn't drunk enough to not notice him, at least not yet.
Little John squeezed his big frame in between a neighboring customer, who started to protest then thought better of it, and Tommy. He was smiling, ready to fire off a smart-ass remark before he saw the half empty bottle. His eyebrow furled a little.
"Hitting it a lil' hard?" There was no reason to shout since the band had completed its set. But Little John's voice still easily cut thru the din.
With one hand Perfect Tommy idly played with the shot glass. He was making the remnants of one lonely ice cube swirl around the bottom. He heard Little John but didn't bother looking up.
"It wasn't until a little bit ago that one of the other fellows told me about… about what happened to that woman in your group." He was getting personal but it didn't stop him from him doing his job. He let his eyes scan the crowd, making sure that there weren't any signs of trouble. "You don't have to say what happened. All the papers have been saying that it was undetermined… and that's fine by me brother." He turned his attention back to Tommy, reached around him, and shook the bottle of Jim Bean. "All I'm gonna' say is that you don't have to go there."
Perfect Tommy didn't move.
"Fucking rain," he muttered aloud to no one in particular.
"I know Tommy, I know," replied Mrs. Robinson as she reached with her free hand to soothingly stroke his arm a few times. "It's not gonna make the day any easier."
As they carefully picked their way across the soggy ground, Mrs. Robinson distractedly asked, "You have a really nice trench coat on. Where'd you get it?"
Large puddles formed outside of the tent and before she knew it, Mrs. Robinson was off of her feet, swooped around and was standing underneath it. Perfect Tommy held her tight against him, his free arm firmly hugging her around her small waist. Before she could look up at him to thank him, she felt his warm breath against her neck. It made her tingle and she prayed that Tommy didn't feel it, but she knew better. He could make nearly any woman tingle for that matter.
He felt Mrs. Robinson's tenseness and knew that she was trying to control herself. He always had had fun teasing her and this time it wasn't much different. Except, well just except. With lips brushing against her ear, he whispered, "It was a gift from the Lady."
Perfect Tommy caught the kid's eye and pointed at the nearly empty bottle. "Another one."
The kid stopped his conversation with the young buxom blond he had been trying to charm. Feeling cocky with the need to impress he yelled back, "Don't think so pal." Then he turned his attention back to the female. He leaned over the bar, gently brought her head closer to his and whispered something in her ear. It made her giggle.
The rebellious attitude infuriated Tommy. He got up, roughly pushed aside a few patrons, and slammed his shot glass down on the bar in front of the kid. The sudden and unexpected appearance and noise of solid glass on wood brought a small scream of exclamation and cursing from the female. Her head snapped around and after taking one look at Tommy's face shut her up and she cringed away from him. Perfect Tommy growled, "I shaid I wanted another one."
Did I just slur?
The kid remained surprisingly calm. He might have been young but he had been tending bar for a long time. He wasn't phased by Perfect Tommy's actions. He straightened up to his full height and nearly matched Tommy eye for eye. "One full bottle per customer… that's the limit. So you might as well take your attitude outside or else I'll get Little John to do it for you."
The other nearby customers gradually hushed their conversations, waiting to see what would happen next. Some prepped their cell phones, ready to take that infamous publicity shot for TMZ of a drunken Perfect Tommy totally losing it.
Perfect Tommy ran some of his fingers through his hair out of frustration. He felt the heat rising to his face and he really wanted to throttle the kid. His fingers clench together in to fists.
The feeling evaporated.
The kid wasn't worth it. Not tonight at least.
"Sorry." He put on the best apologetic face he could but he was sure it came out more like a smirk. "Lemme get you something for your trouble." He reached inside his jacket pocket and pushed a button. Then he fumbled around some more, willing his fingers to make their fine movements. He found a crumbled up bill and threw it at the kid.
He didn't have to wait too long.
He had activated his micro electromagnetic target pulse emitter. Being the prototype it still took a few minutes to charge, but when it released, it always did with small, but pleasing fanfare.
It didn't let him down again.
In rapid succession the bar lights went out in little poofs of smoke causing confusion and chaos among his fellow patrons.
Amongst the upheaval no one ever notice him taking his unfinished bottle of Jim Beam.
Satisfied, he walked unsteadily past the crowd and left the club.
Block after block nothing seemed to change. Walk across the street, pass by cold faced buildings dimly lit by street lamps, then come to the next street. The only bright spot was passing an all-night grocery. Since they were in New York, they could sell alcohol. Putting on his best appearance, he waltzed into the store, picked out a pretty new bottle, spoke enough perfect Chinese to impress the female cashier, and then left.
"Are you going to be my geisha girl tonight?"
"Maybe… maybe not."
"But kubu gan gilian."
"What did you just call me!?"
"I didn't call you anything. I just said that I wanted to have sex with you."
He wasn't sure how much further he walked. All he could comprehend was that he was now in a small park and his legs were complaining bitterly; they didn't want to take him any further. Feeling full, he forced himself to stagger over to a nearby tree. He tripped over one of the large roots sticking up out of the ground and he went crashing into the trunk.
"Shon of a bitch," he mumbled as he clawed his way back up to a standing position while trying to brush off the loose bark and dirt. He held up the sparkly bottle of clear spirits and squinted, trying to examine it in the near darkness. "Don't think… it's… broke," he stated to no one in particular. He gently put it on the ground next to him, unzipped his pants, and started to do what he had originally planned to do.
Then it happened.
A lone gunshot pierced the wee early morning.
BANG! ………. BANG!
Two more gunshots had rung out.
Taken aback with surprise and shock, Perfect Tommy stopped relieving himself and pushed his back in to the tree. He dug his fingers into the bark. Frantically, he looked around for the shooter or shooters, gasping for breath as he did so.
Seeing no one, fleeting thoughts as to what he should do next scratched at his mind.
G! I need some cover over here!
And just when did that become part of the plan?
His knees buckled but he held on. He vainly shook his head to try to clear it; to try to make sense out of what was real and what was memory.
Another lone gunshot that sounded more like from a shotgun thundered thru the air.
Looking out across the park he saw a street with a few cars passing by. He didn't know if it was the one he had been walking on or a different one, but it made no difference. All he wanted to do was to get somewhere public, go someplace where there were people, go someplace… noisy.
He started to run ungainly across the park, drifting from side to side, trying to keep his balance. He didn't care that he was out in the open. His only thought was getting to the street.
He was only half way across the park when his body rebelled.
He bowled over, clutching at his stomach. The dizziness and the sickness caused him to drop to his hands and knees.
The empty warehouse was near the East River at South Street. The business arrangements were complicated but the bottom line was that a local real estate company was leasing it to a front company and yada yada yada, it all went back back to the World Crime League.
Meeting tonight were the Archbishop's toadies. Trailing them had taken months and led them halfway around the world and back. But it was important. Get the lead toadie and they would get the Archbishop's location.
Perfect Tommy and Lady Gillette were to lead the mission. They would silently drop in, flush out the lead toadie, and the perimeter force would cover the exits to trap them.
It had gone horrifically wrong.
The warehouse wasn't empty. There was a maze of cargo boxes from top to bottom. There was at least fifty, if not more, men than expected. The Institute had received some bad, very bad intel indeed.
And damn it to hell they had her.
He was in a load of trouble and she was the only one nearby who could help. She had to leave her position to give him cover fire. He got out of his scrap but it left her vulnerable. And they discovered it all too easily.
The lieutenant had Lady G in a choke hold and his knife had already penetrated her throat. The blood slowly trickled down her neck. He knew who she was and her legendary hand combat capabilities. The knife point buried in her throat was what was keeping her in check, not the other thirty some odd men in various defensive positions around them. The blood of ten men was on the ground before they subdued her.
"Come out, come out, wherever you are." The chilling words echoed through the warehouse.
The lieutenant pushed the knife in further. Lady's G sharp intake of breath pierced the heavy air.
Perfect Tommy knew it was a death trap. A snowball in hell had a better chance then what he and Lady G had. Cursing he moved out from his cover, keeping his gun trained on the lieutenant.
"Ah…. There you are," the lieutenant sneered. The roar of jet engines grew louder and louder. It was their escape craft. The lieutenant had to shout to be heard. "Too bad, so sad Perfect Tommy."
The lieutenant released his choke hold and before either Lady G could try to move or Perfect Tommy get off a decent shot, the crack of gunfire erupted.
Lady G fell forward in a heap.
The lieutenant's men opened fire forcing Perfect Tommy to dive back under cover.
There was a new eruption of jet fire. Before it faded away Perfect Tommy was at Lady G's body.
"No, no, no!" He screamed. He rolled her on to her back and saw the blood gushing through her armored vest. From his cargo pants he grabbed the clotting caulk and then ripped open her vest. "Come on baby, hang on." Frantically he pumped the caulk into every open wound. With a free hand he tapped open a communication channel. "Man down! Man down!"
Lady G's eyes flickered open for a moment and she grabbed at Perfect Tommy's arm. Then those very same blue eyes rolled back up in her head and her body spastically arched. She let loose a gurgle and thick dark blood erupted from her mouth. Then she was still.
In a pool of blood, Perfect Tommy was giving her CPR when the medical team arrived.
He violently wretched out the foul contents of his stomach one last time before he collapsed and rolled over a few times on to his back.
You're done up good this time Tommy.
All I did was go out with the boys.
My point exactly.
He heard two sets of footsteps approaching him. He rolled over on to his side, the cool wet grass crushing up against the side of his cheek and forehead. It felt cold even against his clammy skin.
The two figures were now on top of him. His mind screamed that he had to get up, he had to defend himself. For all he knew they could have been more of the Archbishop's henchmen.
Guided by instinct, his free arm on its own accord reached around to the back of his pants, pulled out his Bursa Thunder and pointed in the figures' direction.
He felt two hands take his arm and push it down with surprising strength. "Easy Tommy, easy."
Through the haze he thought he recognized the voice. "Buck?"
"Red, any more word on those gunshots?"
"The station's reporting that they were fired a few blocks from here with suspects on the run. We shouldn't hang around her too long."
"Understood. Help me get him up." Buckaroo paused and scanned the area across the park. "I see there's a bench near the other street over there. We should be alright there for a little bit. At least long enough for you to get the jet car." His nose crinkled a little bit as Tommy started to heave again. "Oh, and you may want to watch where you step."
Perfect Tommy slowly opened his eyes. It took him a second to figure out where he was. Then he realized that he was back in his room, and in his own bed. He quickly scanned the room. Nothing had been moved since he had been last there. His papers and books were still messily stacked on his desk and on his book shelves and on the floor. The only pristine areas were his dressers and weapons cache.
He heard a familiar voice off to the side. "There's Listerine on your nightstand." It was Buckaroo.
"Thanks," he managed to croak out. His mouth had the bad aftertaste of vomit and booze and it nearly made him gag again. He pushed himself up to a sitting position and then swung his legs around. The quick motion gave him a head rush and he had to steady himself for another second before reaching for the Listerine.
Buckaroo was sitting between the bed and the door. He waited for Perfect Tommy to finish the first round of cleaning his mouth out before asking "Do you remember anything?"
"More than I'd like." He kept his head down to avoid Buckaroo's probing eyes.
Before Buckaroo could comment any further, Mrs. Robinson entered the room with a tray full of covered dishes. "Buck, I brought you something for supper." It wasn't until she handed the tray off to him that she became aware of Perfect Tommy sitting up. "Hey, you're up! Welcome back to the land of the living."
"Yeah, thanks, I missed you too," replied Tommy, his head barely moving to look at her. It thumped like hell.
Mrs. Robinson frowned. "Don't sound so happy. Anyway, I didn't bring anything for you since I thought you were still out. Out of the goodness of my heart, I'll still go back to the commissary to get you something though."
Holding his head in his hands, he grumbled back, "I don't think that I want anything."
"You're going to have to eat something. As soon as you were brought back, Buck and New Jersey pumped your stomach out, so there's nothing in you." Mrs. Robinson folded her arms across her chest in preparation of another round of defiance. Sometimes dealing with Perfect Tommy was like dealing with a child.
This time however, there wasn't any comeback.
Through his hands, Perfect Tommy mumbled, "Is that true?" If it was, then oh shit.
"That and we gave you two saline bags to make sure you stay dehydrated," was Buckaroo's dry response.
Oh shit indeed.
"Mrs. Robinson, why don't you go off and bring back a light meal for Tommy?"
Mrs. Robinson glanced down at Buckaroo. It didn't take a rocket scientist to know when she was the third wheel on a date. Each of them had dealt with Lady Gillette's death in their own way. She thought that Perfect Tommy had been handling it as best as he could, like the rest of them. Obviously she had been very wrong.
"Sure, no problem." She made sure to close the bedroom door behind her.
Buckaroo took the supper tray and gently placed it on the floor next to his chair.
Tommy… where do I start? This was a bad, an exceptionally bad trip.
For a few minutes neither said anything. Perfect Tommy didn't move a muscle. He was hunched over, his hands still holding his head. Buckaroo didn't envy the hangover he was experiencing. He let his eyes wander away and instead stared out the window. It was full moon and the only glow came from the building's outdoor spotlights.
It was Perfect Tommy who broke the silence. Barely a whisper, but it really didn't need to be spoken loud for Buckaroo to hear it. "I'm sorry."
Buckaroo stretched and leaned forward in his chair a little. "You had us worried. We had all of the BBI's looking for you. We didn't know if,"
"Some of the Archbishop's goons or worse got to me?" Perfect Tommy interjected.
"Can you blame us? We found your communicator in Delaware and your motorcycle abandoned near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge." Buckaroo sighed. Perfect Tommy had taken off before but usually it was only for a day or two at most. Not for nearly a week.
Perfect Tommy stood up, a little unsteady at first, but quickly regaining his balance. He brushed past Buckaroo and walked over to his dresser. "So how did you find me?" he asked as he fished around for a clean tee shirt.
"You were fortunate that someone named Little John called in." Buckaroo didn't bother turning around. He sensed that Perfect Tommy was starting the dance again. Tommy apologizes, Buckaroo states how concerned the team was, Tommy promises not to do it again, all which works for a little while. But this time is different. This time, Perfect Tommy had a different goal and it wasn't to have a good time.
"Little John's a bouncer at a club. He's a good man."
"Yeah, he told us how concerned he was when he saw you stagger out of that place," Buckaroo replied. As usual, his mind wasn't quiet and he made a mental note to contact Little John to see if he wanted to join up as a Blue Blaze Irregular.
Perfect Tommy put on his tee shirt then paused to look in the mirror. He figured that he looked like crap and his reflection didn't disappoint. Feeling weak again, he headed back to his bed. Mrs. Robinson was right. Until he got something back in his stomach besides alcohol and a few days' rest he wouldn't be back to normal. He curled up underneath the covers and crunched up the pillow around his head. His head pounded worse than before. "I really appreciate you and New Jersey looking after me but you don't have to babysit me anymore tonight." His tone was a little rough.
Buckaroo knew eventually that he and Perfect Tommy would need to stop with the pleasantries. It was just a question of when. And if he didn't help Tommy now, it was only bound to get worse. "Tommy, Lady G made a choice, like all of us have. She knew what the consequences could be."
Perfect Tommy didn't immediately answer. But when he did it was a half-hearted attempt to deflect the blame on to someone else. "She didn't have to join us. You could have stopped her."
"Really?" was Buckaroo's response. He didn't have to say anything more. They both knew the answer to that question.
Buckaroo leaned far forward in his chair. "Tommy, none of us is having an easy time with this. And I know what you're going through," Buckaroo stated empathetically.
The dam finally broke.
The voice turned hard and angry. "No you don't." A red faced Perfect Tommy emerged from the pillow and he sat straight up. Tears, never before seen by another set of eyes, started to run down his face. He pointed his finger at Buckaroo and growled, "You never had Peggy's blood on your hands. She was already dead and gone when you showed up."
Comparing Peggy's death like that hit a nerve but he remained cool. "Saying that I didn't suffer as much as you because I didn't see Peggy suffer? You know that's not true."
Perfect Tommy wanted to run away, pound the wall, just do something. Feeling weak again with the bile rising to his throat he fell back onto his pillow. He crossed his arms to shield his eyes from the overhead light. It hurt, but not nearly as bad as what he was feeling inside now. It frustrated him knowing that Buckaroo was right. The man had gone through hell and back. He couldn't deny that.
Buckaroo added quietly, "If I could've turned back time to be with her, I would've have done it. As horrific as it was, you were there. Don't forget that."
Rolling on to his side away from Buckaroo, Perfect Tommy replied, his voice cracking a little, "Buck, she shouldn't have died like that. Violent deaths are for scum lords like Xan. I made her blow her cover to help me. And she ended up looking like a piece of Swiss cheese. Why would anyone want to remember that?"
"That's not the kind of remembrance I was talking about. She knew that you were there. She knew the risk and did it anyway. You know deep down that she would have done that for any one of us in trouble. That's what you remember." Buckaroo rose from his chair and sat down on the now open space of the bed. He tentatively raised his arm, and then gently placed his hand on Perfect Tommy's shoulder. He felt the initial flinch but then it relaxed. "And it's okay to hear her voice in your mind. At first, it's going to be there all the time. Every action you do, every thought you make, it's going to trigger some memory of her. And it'll be bad. Trust me, this I know. But in time, it'll become easier. It never goes away completely. But it'll be easier." He gave Perfect Tommy's shoulder a firm, but yet gentle squeeze.
Perfect Tommy took in a few deep breaths. Choked with uncommon emotion he whispered, "You know I never loved anyone like that before."
The unexpected confession startled Buckaroo. He knew it, but he just never expected Tommy to say it out loud.
"I know Tommy, I know."
He didn't have to say anything more. Perfect Tommy trembled and with his sharp, irregular intake of breaths, he knew that he was releasing his agony. He sat there a long while with his hand on his friend's shoulder. And he would have sat there all night if he had to.
After a while the trembling stopped and Perfect Tommy's breathing became more regular. Buckaroo's communicator started to vibrate. He opened it up and read the text message.
"Do you want some tea?" Buckaroo asked. "It's Mrs. Robinson and she's asking if everything's okay."
Perfect Tommy shifted his body and sat up. He looked up at Buckaroo and saw nothing but warmth and reassurance. He knew that he had a long way to go but tonight was the first step. "Tell her that tea would be great."