Bass was shocked out of the blackness by a blast of cool water. He opened his eyes but the room was out of focus and spinning. Apparently the drugs they gave him hadn't completely worn off yet. The last thing he remembered was a group of patriot soldiers dawning gas masks and Charlie's voice. Oh god, Charlie. What had happened to Charlie? He had to get out of here. Bass tried to move but he was tied securely to a chair and his head full of fog.
"Wakey wakey general." A familiar voice snapped him back into reality, Tom Neville.
"Where's Charlie? What did you do to her?" Bass croaked, his throat dry as the dessert.
"Charlie, Charlie, Charlie," Tom seethed. "Between you and my son, I am really tired of hearing that name. With any luck she's dead and I can finally be rid of that pain in my ass."
Tom's words were what Bass needed to clear the rest of the fog from his head. "You better hope not Tom because if she is I will make your torture my new purpose in life. I will do things to you that would make the Devil himself squirm. Do I make myself clear?"
"What is it about her? Seriously, would somebody please explain it to me because I don't get it."
Bass stayed silent, and watched Tom continue on his tirade, cataloging all the ways he could kill this ass hat.
"What is it that makes once smart, strong men fall in love with her? You are in love with her, aren't you?"
Bass wouldn't encourage him with an answer. His internal murder tally was already up to 25. He glanced at Tom's smug face, make that 26 now 27.
"She destroys everything and everyone she touches. First it was my son. He left everything he knew. Turned his back on everything I taught him to go chasing after her. Then there's Miles. She has him thinking he's some sort of family man. We both know that's not who he really is. Then there is you. You where the leader of the whole damn republic and now what are you doing? You are chasing after piece of ass half your age. It's disgusting. You've gone soft. You are just giving these Patriot assholes love taps. I had hoped with that little army of yours you would be of more use to me."
"Why Tom if I didn't know any better I'd say you're jealous," Bass taunted.
"Hardly," Tom spit out. "Because of her they are taking my son away. They found out he warned her of the gas attack. Once again, he chose her. How can one little blue eyed tart turn you all so stupid?"
"And that's what this is all really about, we all chose her and not you. You didn't get picked to play with the big boys and their toys and now you have your panties in a twist."
Tom's fist came crashing down onto Bass's jaw, the force knocking him and the chair he was tied to the floor. Tom knelt down, grabbed Bass's shirt, their faces inches apart.
"Did I hit a nerve Tom?" Bass asked as he spit blood out of his mouth.
Tom let go of his shirt, stood up and righted Bass and his chair, taking a moment to regain his composure.
"Like I said, with any luck, she's dead. I'm doing you a favor, you're welcome."
"Untie me and I'll thank you properly."
"I'm sure you would Monroe, I'm sure you would. You'll forgive me if I keep you right where you are."
"Why are you doing this Tom? You seem to hate the Patriots as much as the rest of us, why play into their hands?"
"I have my reasons. But I will say thank you for making it so damn easy. You've gone soft. The one thing that kept you alive all those years was your general distrust and total paranoia of those around you. See what 'love' and trust gets you?"
"It was Rachel wasn't it?" Bass asked, even though he already knew the answer.
"Imagine my surprise when Mrs. Matheson sought me out and asked to make a deal. I guess she didn't take too kindly to the man who killed her husband and her son sleeping with her daughter." Tom answered smugly. "Again it all leads back to Charlie. She is going to destroy you just like she did my son."
"You've got a lot of issues Tom." Bass answered faining boredom. But on the inside he was seething. He knew Rachel was bat shit crazy but this was the last straw.
"Yeah well I'm not the one tied up and sentenced to death. Just sit tight Monroe," Tom said as he slapped his cheek. "You're escort will be here shortly. But just to be safe, I think we'll drug you again. Don't want you trying to escape now do we."
Tom pulled out another syringe and started toward him. Bass struggled to free himself but the ropes were too tight. "I'm going to kill you Tom, you can count on that." Bass hissed through clenched teeth.
As the needle started to pierce his skin a figure snuck up behind Tom and hit him in the back of the head. As the figure stepped into the light Bass was surprised to see who his rescuer was.
"Jason!?" Bass asked astonished.
For a moment Jason didn't move, he just stood there staring.
"Jason," Bass tried again.
"Charlie," Jason whispered.
"Charlie! What about Charlie? Is she okay, is she alive?" Bass asked panicked.
Jason took a deep breath, closed his eyes and shook his head, trying to clear it. Finally he found his voice. "Yes she's alive. So is Miles and Conner. I watched them get into some sort of underground tank. They should have been safe from the gas in there."
"Thank god," Bass sighed.
"Do you love her?" Jason asked point blank.
Bass took a long look at the kid. He didn't look quite right. It was like he was fighting some sort battle inside his head.
"I asked you a question Monroe, you love her don't you?" Jason growled.
"Yes, yes I do."
Jason nodded. "I thought so. I honestly didn't think you had it in you, but I remember the look on your face when you thought she was going to die. And I saw the look on her face when she saw you being taken away. She was ready to come running after you, no matter what the cost. She loves you. She honestly loves you."
With that Jason knelt down, pulled a knife out of his boot and cut Bass's ropes, then turned to walk away.
"Go, get out of here. You don't have much time." Jason shot over his shoulder
"Why are you doing this kid?" Bass asked genuinely confused.
Jason stopped, tilted his head up and sighed. "Because I love her too." Then he turned around, stepped closer to Bass and pulled the bottom part around his eye down, showing four small tattooed numbers. "You know what these are don't you?"
Bass nodded, speechless.
"Once they found out I helped you they decided to accelerate my re-education. It will only be a matter of time before I'm activated."
"Why don't you come with me?"
"I can't, it's already started. I'll just be a danger to Charlie and to everyone else." Jason took a gun and a piece of paper out of the waistband of his pants. "Here, you're going to need this," he said as he handed the gun over. Then he handed the paper to him "Here's the patriots next move. Head toward the right. I've already taken out the patrol so you should have no problem getting through."
Bass took the gun and the paper and headed toward the entrance of the shack he was being kept in.
"Monroe," Jason called out. "My father's wrong. Charlie didn't destroy me, he did. She made me want to be more. Looks like she's had that effect on you too. Don't blow it."
"Thanks, I won't."
"And General, the next time you see me, do me a favor. Put a bullet between my eyes."
Bass closed his eyes and nodded his agreement. What else could he do?
Meanwhile at their back up base camp Charlie was furiously pacing within the confines of the room. Miles had given her strict instructions to stay put while he and Conner went on a quick patrol to see how many men had made it out and to their secondary location. Gene was tending to the injuries of the few they had found so far. That had left her in this forgotten truck stop with Rachel and the situation was going downhill fast.
"Charlie, sweetie, will you please sit down." Rachel asked, clearly annoyed.
"I can't mom. I'm not going to just sit here while Neville is doing god knows what to Bass." Charlie said, not even trying to hide the worry in her voice. They stayed in the storage tank for hours, waiting for the air to clear. Then they wasted precious time making their way to here. She wanted to go right after Neville and Bass but Miles convinced her that rounding up as many men as they could would be the best plan of action. If they were taking Bass back to Willoughby, like she thought they were, then they would need all the guns they could get. It was a sound plan, but it was taking way to damn long.
"And what exactly do you plan on doing? You don't even know where they went."
"I have a pretty go idea where to start looking. But I can't do that just sitting around here. If Miles isn't back in ten minutes I'm leaving without him."
"You're going to get yourself killed Charlie. And I'll be damned if I lose another child to that man."
"You're happy he's gone aren't you? Look at you, you can barely contain yourself. This has to be your dream come true." Charlie screamed at her.
"You watch your tone with me young lady."
"Make me mother," Charlie's voice had turned deadly calm. "He would tear the world apart looking for me and I will do the same for him. It's not me you should be worried about mom, it's them. You think Bass was bad when he went off the rails? That's nothing compared to what I'll do to them if he dies."
"Do you even hear yourself right now Charlie?" Rachel asked, clearly concerned. "You don't even sound like yourself. This is what he's done to you. Take it from me, he's not worth it"
"The hell he's not. He's worth it. What does he have to do to prove to you that he's changed? He's been with us every step of the way. He's saved my life more than once. That doesn't seem to be enough for you. I'm sorry you can't get past your own crap to see it, and maybe you never will. That's not my problem. He's changed and I love him with everything I have in me."
"You don't even know what love is Charlie, if you did you'd know that what's going on between you and Monroe is wrong."
Charlie closed her eyes and sighed. There was no getting through to her, it was pointless, she knew that now. She wasn't even going to try. What mattered now was getting Bass back. She'd waited long enough. She grabbed her crossbow and made her way toward the door.
Miles was suddenly there, blocking the door. "Hold on there spanky, where do you think you're going?"
"After Bass and don't try to stop me."
"Charlie," Rachel called out but Miles silenced her with a look.
Miles spun Charlie around and put both of his hands on her shoulders and made her look at him. "We are going after Bass, but we have to be smart about this. It won't do him any good if we get ourselves killed or captured in the process."
"So do you have a plan?"
"I'm working on one."
"Well that's not good enough Miles. We need to leave now before it's too late." Rare tears started to form in her eyes. "I can't lose him Miles, I just can't. And I can't just sit here anymore. If I do then I'm really going to lose it."
"Well we can't have that now can we?" a familiar voice came from behind her.
Both Miles and Rachel looked up. Rachel gasped in surprise and Miles let out a low chuckle. Charlie spun around and flung herself at him.
"Bass!" She screamed as she wrapped him in a bone crushing hug.
"Easy honey, easy. It's been a rough day."
Charlie placed her hands on either side of his face, reassuring herself that he was actually here with her. "How?" she asked. "How did you escape?"
"I had some unexpected help from the inside. And I got this," he said as he took the piece of paper Jason gave him out of his pocket and handed it to Miles. "It's the Patriot's next move."
While Miles read it Bass looked over at Rachel who was desperately trying to hide her shock, disappointment and fear. She should be afraid but he would deal with her later. Right now they had more important things to deal with.
"Holy shit." Miles exclaimed. "This is big. This is really big, and bad, really bad."
"That's what I thought." Bass grimaced.
"What, what is it?" Charlie asked from Bass's side, her arm firmly around his waist. The past few hours had been hell and she wasn't about to let him go any time soon.
"These Patriots are smart bastards, smarter than I gave them credit for." Miles stated. "They're going to kill President Carver, blame it on California and watch as they tear each other apart. All they have to do is sit back, wait and clean up what's left. And to top it off, President Davis is on his way to oversee the whole thing."
"I can't believe we're going to have to save Carver's ass." Bass muttered. "How many times has he tried to kill us?"
"Yeah well this might be the only we have to stopping these guys once and for all. We get Texas on our side then it's all over for those assholes." Miles said, excitement creeping into his voice.
"Does it say when?" Rachel asked, talking for the first time.
"Day after tomorrow." Miles answered. "That doesn't give us much time. We need to put a plan together."
"How many men do we have left?" Bass asked.
"Less than half, and half of those are injured. I'm thinking we've got 20 to 25 guys we can count on."
"You're forgetting one thing," Charlie commented.
"What's that?" Miles asked.
"We have a traitor, and I'll bet it's one of the survivors."
Miles and Bass traded looks. Yeah Miles had come to the same conclusion that Bass had. They both knew who the traitor was and it wouldn't be long before Charlie put the pieces together and figured it out. It took everything he had not to look at Rachel in that moment.
"What makes you say that?" Rachel had the nerve to ask.
"How else was Neville able to find us or get a Patriot squad through our outer patrols undetected?"
"Well, we'll have to deal with that later. Right now we have to figure out how to save Carver. God I thought I would never say those words, ever." Bass groaned.
"Well get over it," Miles warned. "We've got some planning to do."
Charlie, Miles, Bass and Connor spent the next several hours trying to figure out what to do next. Finally after the sun set they were ready to call it a day. They had their plan. Now there was only one more thing left for Bass to do. There hadn't been much choice for private accommodations but Bass was able to make do. He knew now probably wasn't the best time but with their track record he knew he needed to do it now before someone tried to kill one or both of them.
He looked around their room for the night, a few sparse candles and a mattress on the floor. Not exactly the most romantic setting but then again romance wasn't really their thing.
"God I could use about two days' worth of sleep." Charlie grumbled as she knelt down on the mattress.
"I hear ya, but it's going to have to wait for a bit. Charlie there is something I've been wanting to do for a while now, something I have to do now before something else happens to interrupt me."
"What is it Bass?" Charlie asked, slightly confused and concerned.
Bass wasted no time. He pulled the one of a kind ring out of his pocket and got down on one knee. "I know I should make this more romantic, but honestly honey, it's not really our style."
Charlie gasped, her hand covering her mouth as she gazed at the beautiful ring in Bass's hand.
"Charlotte Matheson, everything I have, everything I am and everything I ever will be is yours. You are my heart, my soul, my everything. I lived so long in darkness that I'd forgotten what it was like to feel the sun on my face. You changed that. You are my light. You saved my life Charlie. And I will fight every day to be the man you deserve. I might stumble and fall along the way but I promise you here and now to always try. I know I don't deserve to feel the way I do or to have you love me. I promise to love you till the end of time. Will you marry me?"
Charlie could hardly believe this was happening. Through her tears she nodded and whispered, "Yes Sebastian, yes I'll marry you."
Bass placed the ring on her finger, looked up into her bright blue eyes and knew he couldn't wait one more minute to make her his wife.
"I can repeat these vows later in front of our family and friends, all two or three of them, and have Miles walk you down the aisle, but I want do this right here, right now."
Charlie understood immediately and couldn't agree more. She smiled and nodded her agreement.
Bass took her hand in his. "I Sebastian Monroe take you Charlotte to be my wife. In good time and in bad, in sickness and health. I vow to love you. To fight alongside you and for you. To be your partner in everything. I vow to be honest and faithful and to be the man you deserve. Till death do us part."
Charlie wiped the tears from her eyes and cleared her throat. "I Charlotte Matheson take you Sebastian Monroe to be my husband. In good times and in bad, in sickness and health. I vow to love you. To fight alongside you and for you. To be your partner, to be honest and faithful, to always be there for you. To be your family, till death do us part."
"I can now kiss the bride." Bass mumbled as he placed his hands on either side of Charlie's face and kissed her deeply.
"Did we just get married?" Charlie asked after they came up for air.
"Yes, yes we did Mrs. Monroe."
Charlie's heart skipped a beat when she heard him say her new name. "Well then I guess that makes this our wedding night," she said as she smiled. "Whatever are we going to do?"
Bass grinned as he helped Charlie out of her shirt. "I have a list, a very, very long list."
"A list huh," Charlie sighed as Bass's lips found the sensitive skin behind her ear. "How very prepared of you."
"I'm a regular boy scout. But I do have to warn you, this list could take all night long."
"Then we better get to it Mr. Monroe."
"As you wish Mrs. Monroe. As you wish."