A Note From Ben: This is my first, and probably only, ADGTH story. The reason this came about is because someone challenged me, in exchange for a picture based on one of my stories, to do a CharlieXItchy story. This is what I came up with. This is a one-sided story about what Itchy was thinking about between the time he got beat down in the casino and when he arrived at the old church. It's just a little blurb, but I hope you enjoy it. This one's for you, Lucky.


Broken
by Ben Barrett

Itchy limped through the streets of New Orleans, his heart broken and his entire body aching. In the last few weeks, he'd seen his best friend murdered, had his spot as second-in-command usurped by some little twit orphan, and now he'd been beaten nearly to death by Carface's goons. And why? So that Charlie could "get over" on his old partner? It seemed to him that they were only spinning their wheels, talking a lot of nonsense about getting back at that scumbag while he and his men made their lives absolutely miserable.

Well, he'd had all he could take. He planned to give Charlie a good piece of his mind as soon as he reached the old church. He wasn't going to sit here and wait for something worse to happen. What if next time they came back with guns? Things were either going to change or Charlie was going to have to find himself a new best friend.

To hell with loyalty.

This was a hard pill for him to swallow. He didn't want to give Charlie an ultimatum, because there was the very real possibility that Charlie would choose the girl and his revenge over his best friend. In fact, the way he'd been acting, Itchy would be surprised if he didn't. That was petty, Itchy knew, but he was beyond the point of caring. He would have gone to the end of the earth for Charlie, would have died for Charlie if necessary. He just didn't want to die for Charlie so he could throw it away playing the fool with some little brat in rags.

When are you gonna admit your feelings?

The still-small voice in his head, the one that was either his conscience or his inner monologue, piped up and reminded him of why it really bothered him. Of course, getting beat to a pulp over some helpless orphan certainly didn't make his day, but the part that really bothered him was that he'd been in love with Charlie since they were pups. He'd been with him through all of life's highs and lows, sticking closer to him than a brother, wishing day in and day out that Charlie would finally learn to return his feelings.

He thought he'd been getting close at one point. Charlie had stopped treating him like an underling and had actually started being gentle with him. Gone were the cries of "STOP THAT ITCHING" and "It's not worth it being with you". When Itchy risked his own life to bust him out of jail, Charlie had turned over a new leaf. Suddenly it was "Itch old pal" and "How ya doin', Itchy". Charlie was stuck to him like glue for days, and he loved every minute of it. He soaked it up like a sponge, loving the attention, spending every second elated that things might finally be going his way.

And then it happened. That night with the car.

After Charlie's little "mishap" with the car, he lost his need for Itchy. All he could think about was revenge, revenge, and more revenge. That TLC he'd been giving his best friend was as gone as the Napoleonic Wars. Once again, it wasn't "worth it" being with him. Itchy took it like a punch to the gut.

Back in the present, he sniffled and walked up the hill toward the old church. The derelict ruins had been on the verge of collapse for years, completely inappropriate for human habitation. That made it a perfect hideout. No one would think of looking for a little girl in such a run-down old heap. Charlie and the girl went there a couple of days back and hadn't been seen since. Itchy was assuming they were still there. If not, well that'd be it. He wasn't going to limp around the city looking for them. He'd just make his way to the harbor and sneak aboard some steamer headed for China or maybe Africa.

A clean start. No orphans. No Carface.

He knew this also meant no Charlie, but he didn't want to even think about that until he absolutely had to. It would be hard to leave Charlie behind, hard to not be by his side, but there was no other way. He wasn't going to stay here and get himself killed over some little girl. This had gone beyond "just business". This was personal, and he planned on telling Charlie so. From the day he'd gotten that girl, Charlie had refused to listen to him, had in fact brushed him off when he'd tried to warn him. All Charlie coud see was dollar signs, which was going to get them both killed, especially now that Carface knew that Charlie was alive.

Then there was that. Snatching the girl had been foolish, a risky maneuver that had ultimately exposed them both. The giant casino with a big sign declaring it to be "Charlie's Place" hadn't helped, but taking the girl right out of Carface's lair had gotten the son of a bitch suspicious. He wanted to know where the girl went, how she'd escaped, and it was inevitable that it would lead back to them. Charlie should have listened when Itchy had suggested they go to the Himalayas. There, they could have opened up their own place without fear of Carface ever coming to bother them.

That would have been nice. Just me and Charlie, running our own place, somewhere far away.

This fantasy began to unfold in his head. They start with a couple of rats, nothing special. A small-time operation. They rake in the money and their business grows. In time, they become the biggest in the region, maybe even the country. With nothing to do but kick back and watch the bucks roll in, Itchy has all the time in the world to confess his true feelings for his best friend. Who knew? Maybe if he could convince Charlie to get out of town with him, to lose the girl and cut their losses, it could still happen. It would take a lot of convincing, though. Maybe his bruises would say it better than he ever could.

He was closer to the church now. He couldn't hear anyone moving around inside, but that didn't mean anything. He stopped there on the grounds, collecting his thoughts. He knew what he wanted to say to Charlie, but he had to think of the right way to put it. He was going to have to be blunt with him, no beating around the bush. That wouldn't get him anywhere. On the other hand, he couldn't just go in there ranting and raving, because that would just piss Charlie off. He had to find a middle ground, something that said he meant business without being an ass about it.

He looked up at the church, his heart heavy. He knew this was it. He had to put up or shut up. This wasn't going to be easy. He suddenly didn't want to do it. He wanted to turn around and take off, run and run and run until his feet bled, do anything but have this conversation with Charlie. He could get out of town, head up the river, forget all of this. He knew he'd never do this. He couldn't leave Charlie high and dry like that. He had to at least warn him about Carface, tell him what he'd done to their place, which was now a fireball on the horizon.

That part really hurt him. They'd worked so hard on that place, had invested all the money they had into making it great. Now all their efforts were going up in smoke. Carface had gassed the whole place and lit it up with one of his cigars. He'd only let Itchy escape so he could bring the message back to Charlie. His own words were "To Charlie with love".

Now everything we worked for is gone. All that time and energy, and we've got nothing to show for it.

It made him want to break down and start crying, but he restrained himself. He had to keep it together. He wouldn't let Charlie see him with tears in his eyes. Besides, what kind of dog started crying when things got bad? He was bigger than that, stronger than that. He'd maintain his composure, tell Charlie what he had to say, and if Charlie didn't like it then that would be it. He wasn't sticking around to wait for something worse to happen.

So why aren't you moving yet?

He didn't know why he was still standing here in front of the church. He should just go inside and get it over with, but he couldn't make his feet move. He was afraid. Afraid of what Charlie would say. He was afraid that he would make the wrong choice, that Charlie would choose to stay with the girl, and where would that leave him? Without a best friend, that's where. All this talk about someday confessing his feelings to Charlie would be for nothing, because Charlie would rather hang out with an orphan and make money. It would be goodbye, Itchy. He tried to tell himself that he was being ridiculous, that Charlie would see reason, but he still couldn't make himself move forward.

He thought back on when they were pups. There came a day when a family wanted to adopt Itchy. They fell in love with him at first sight, with his big floppy ears and his long snout. He could have had it made in the shade, sleeping on a soft bed every night and living a life of security. He'd given it up because he wanted to be with Charlie. Even then, Charlie had meant everything to him, and he just couldn't see himself anywhere but beside him. Charlie had called him crazy, had told him he was giving up the deal of a lifetime, but Itchy could see the admiration in his eyes for what he had done. Now he'd give anything to see Charlie look at him that way again.

He knew he had to stop thinking this way. This wasn't the time to be thinking of his love for Charlie. There were more important things to worry about right now, like the girl. He wanted Charlie to get rid of the girl more than he'd ever wanted anything in his life. The longer she was with them, the more likely it was that Carface was going to come after them. He'd try to kill them if he could. He'd done it before. Itchy didn't think Ann-Marie's gift was worth the risk. They'd find some other way to make money. He didn't want to die over business. Let her find her own set of parents, let her go out and feed the poor herself if she was so worried about it.

He knew he was being a little selfish, but he didn't care. He was tired of playing Robin Hood, tired of spending money on clothes for the girl, tired of risking his neck trying to make the little brat happy. All he wanted was to get rid of her once and for all. Hell, he hadn't even wanted to rescue her in the first place, hadn't wanted to spit in Carface's eye like that, but Charlie hadn't listened. He never listened to him anymore.

Well, may as well get on with it.

He walked into the church, calling Charlie's name.

"Charlie! Charlie, you here?"