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Something Undone

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"You maybe told yourself this story and kept drinking until you believed it." - Martin Hart

 

The outlook is pretty bleak. When Martin had thrown him out, Rust had no where to go - he had quit the bar where he'd worked, and his rented room and storage are gone too. Marty owes him money for the hours he had worked for Marty's P.I. office, but he can't go ask Marty for that now. Marty had told him to get out and that's that. He is out of money; his wallet left on the night stand in Marty's guest room, and thoroughly out of luck. He feels like he deserves it too; the things he has left undone outweighs the stuff he has gotten right in his life by so much it can't be measured at this point.

It's colder on the streets than he remembered. Maybe it's his new wounds; they are more sensitive than the rest of his skin...or maybe it's just him getting old. To keep the cold at bay he ends up walking a lot, instead of trying and failing to find sleep in the cold back alleys of Baton Rouge in December.

He hasn't just quit huge chunks of his old life - in the past months when he'd been living with Marty he's quit drinking too, and he isn't keen on taking up that habit again. He realizes it could help him sleep now if he could somehow scrape up the money for it, but it might just be the end of him too and he isn't quite there yet.

If he could just get his head together and find some kind of direction, some color or taste revealing purpose and meaning. He had thought he had had that, first with surviving and then from working with Marty again, but it had turned out spectacularly bad for the both of them.

 

While bleak and uncertain, it turns out that his future feels pretty valuable after all when he hears angry voices behind him and one hissing right up against his neck; he figures he must be slipping badly if he's that oblivious to what's happening around him. Ginger's unmistakably and menacing, "Did you think you could fuck with me, Crash?" is a thorough wake-up call.

He starts backing off while he fumbles for the phone in his jacket pocket. He barely manages to press the button for Marty's number before he gets a blow to the head. After that it's a blur of fists and boots from Ginger and his Crusader friends up above him, until he's losing consciousness, right there on the street.

 

At first, Marty wants to throw the phone out of the window - the gall of that fucker! - then his cop instincts kick in. No way Rust would call him voluntarily and then not answer, not after the way they parted.

He still has the code to Rust's anti-theft tracker. Rust's phone is moving, but it is within reach, so Martin fetches his gun, loads it up and backs out of his driveway so fast he nearly flattens his mailbox.

 

The Iron Crusaders are just pulling Rust out of the bed of their truck when Marty spots them across the street. They're parked outside a graffitied garage building with tall, rusted steel doors standing ajar.

Marty hits the brakes, rolls his window down and puts the blue light up (memorabilia from his days in the Force) and sets the siren to full blast before screeching up in front of the thugs. Predictably they scatter like roaches; leaving Rust where he lies. They immediately start barricading from inside, bolting the garage doors shut behind them.

Martin hurries over to Rust as fast as his feet can carry him. He checks for pulse: it's there, so he hauls Rust up in a fireman's grip and drags him over to his car and the passenger seat. Rust is bleeding from the mouth and scarily not helping at all. Marty makes sure all their limbs are inside, snaps the doors shut and guns the hell out of there. It is only a question of time before the Crusaders realize Marty is all alone and not an impatient hotshot cop in the lead of a larger raid.

There's still no activity behind them as they speed off and away and Marty would have let out a huge sigh of relief, if he hadn't been so worried over Rust. Rust is fully out of it, sagging down in the footrest of the passenger seat, and if it weren't for the ragged breaths that wheeze out of him, Marty would have thought he was dead.

He drives to Our Lady of the Lake: Maggie's hospital, in stead of back home like he'd first planned.

 

They do get home eventually, Rust still limping; eerily reminding them both of the last time they arrived at Marty's place with Rust in hospital gowns.

Rust is set up in the guest room again, still containing his sparse living essentials from earlier. Marty hasn't had the heart to clean it out or even look at it. Just thinking about the whole thing now makes Marty feel like a total shit.

Turns out Rust could be worse off, as war wounds go. After a thorough check up, wake up and clean up in the hospital, the doctors had deemed Rust's old damages to hold together okay and that the new ones would heal on their own, given time. A thorough concussion and several broken ribs made it necessary to take it easy though, so it would be preferably he had someone looking after him. Neither of them questioned that; Marty just signed the release forms and followed after the porter wheeling Rust out.

 

Back at Marty's Rust falls asleep again almost immediately, still in his hospital jammies, but not bleeding any more at least. The medication and the exhaustion, Marty guesses. He can't help noticing that Rust looks grayer and thinner than usual even for him.

Martin lets himself silently out of the guest room and goes on out, to the weight lifting corner of his garage. There he punches his punching bag until he can't anymore. Better not ruin his hands totally, in case Rust needs him tomorrow.

 

It is late afternoon before the guest room door creaks and a stiff limbed Rust starts hobbling down the hall towards the bathroom.

Marty waits him out. He has been pacing restlessly all morning and can wait a little longer yet.

Rust takes his time and it is only when Marty decides to go look to see if he's okay, that the door finally opens. Rust limps out, not looking at Marty, but heading for the living room couch. Marty has anticipated this and a glass of water and painkillers are set out on the table beside it. Rust eases himself down with a pained gasp, leans back and closes his eyes.

Marty is at a loss. He has prepared what to say, several versions of it, but it is all gone now. They remain in silence for what seems like an eternity. Finally Marty decides that he at least has to sit down, so he lands his ass in a chair opposite Rust. There he remains, looking long and hard on his hands. Suddenly he's aware of Rust peeking at him under half shut eyelids.

"Marty. You are a perfectly normal guy. You are also a born shithead brought up worse, but these things aren't mutually exclusive."

Rust's voice is low and gravelly, but his words are perfectly clear.

"Stop freaking out on me. You've had days to recover and it's not like you are under any threat from me. If you have managed to shut it down completely, that's okay too, but stop freaking the fuck out. It's not helping either of us."

Marty's voice is shaking when he manages an answer, "I've never asked for you to pick me apart."

"No, but this elephant needs to be shot down. I'm too tired to handle your shit right now and bringing me back to your home yesterday was your decision."

"Okay, maybe I am freaking out a little, but I'm dealing. You can just stay out of it."

Rust laughs at that, or dry-heaves to be more accurate, "I think we've tried that."

There is a pause until Rust decides he have even more truths to relate: "If you really think you can tolerate me and are not just doing your simple Christian duty or whatever here, I'd like to keep my job. I'll get out of your hair as soon as I can stand on my feet, but I can do with the regular hours and a steady income. Seems I'm too old for much else these days."

With this he simply falls asleep on the couch. Marty remains sitting, flushing hot and cold for a good long while, before he stumbles to bed. He hardly slept the night before. He needs a nap, or maybe five, but keeps tossing and turning until he gives in and gets up again. He hasn't had a good nights sleep since he tossed Rust out of his home and life and now it seems it doesn't help getting him back again either. Marty is so fucked.

When Rust eventually wakes up, he agrees when Marty offers him the guest room for as long as he'd like and to keep his job at the P.I. office too. Rust even says thanks, and Marty thinks he can count those on one hand, so he's grateful. But it shakes him too, as Rust really shouldn't say thanks with what Marty did to him: it's really Marty who should be grateful and ask for forgiveness. Offering Rust his job back is the least he can do if he wants to keep his self image as a halfway decent guy. It's a little late picking up those shards though.

The day is uneventful: Rust keeps on sleeping on the couch, chugging down painkillers at regular intervals and Marty hovers and tries to keep himself occupied. In the evening they sit up, out on Marty's porch. It's a mild night for December and Marty has fetched blankets and lit the outdoor barbecue and made them burgers. Now the coals are gleaming red, the moon is shining full and bright and the stars are glittering. They don't talk about anything, just sip their beers and enjoy the fresh air.

Rust finally goes to bed when the sun is lighting up the horizon. Marty stays on up and has a little weep for himself as the sun hits his eyes.